a ghost story

On the stormy night of September 18 2011 Rhee-in Somlith awoke after an amazing and life like dream. In his “dream” he was approached by a very menacing man who was larger than himself, more imposing by the fact that he was brandishing a large ancient style knife or sword which was nearly a meter in length and he was dressed in ancient way, his sarong wrapped around pulled between the legs and tucked in behind. He was bare chested and totally tattooed, Rhee-in was afraid for his life. The strange man bore down on him. Suddenly an old woman who was chewing bettlenut spoke up. Saying, no no no! Don’t kill him! The ghost replied, ok, followed with, “Then he must to help us”….

The ghost dropped his aggressive stance immediately then turned to Rhee-in, and admitted that he and the woman were much afraid of the rising waters of the storm. The ghost then told Rhee-in he should go to go to the pond that had been recently dug to supply water for the rice fields. On the side nearest the house and look on the the side of the steep embankment. He was given very specific directions. He awoke then and thought over what he had been told.

Rhee-in has lived in here for more than 20 years and is a quiet sort and and a bit on the shy side. In all his life he had never had such a powerful and real dream. He felt the urgency the “ghost” had left him with, so nothing to do but go and see what he could find. Rising in the early gray morning he went out to see if he could find the place the “ghost” had told him of.

The pit is about 20 ft. or more deep and the rains were filling it. On the side near his house and down about 6 feet he found some pot shards, they had found a few earlier so this didn’t surprise him but then he discovered what seemed to be a very large pot and he had to get friends to help to dig it free. It is about a three to three and a half feet long and shaped like an egg or pear. Smaller at one end and larger at the other and decorated with incised lines.

When they got it out they found it contained a lot of bones, as you can see in the photos. They include long bones,rib bones some vertebra and a jaw bone and remnants of a scull. There was also a number of pot shards, some they have re assembled but many are still just as they were found. They took many pieces to a site under the trees near the discovery site and built an alter where visitors burn incense and say prayers for the dead. To date Rhee-in has had no more visits from the dead, and does not seem anxious to. But the burial pot is safe from the water if not from admirers….

postscript. I am telling you this as it was told to me and as we saw. The site is east of Det Udom, Ubonratchatani, Thailand. There are old stories in the area of an ancient city that was somewhere near this site I believe it was called Donsaouhong (sp?). And no one seems to know when it was there only it was many hundreds of years or more ago.2rs.vessel vessel1IMG_0049 -5rs.bones1IMG_00451rs.site

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Well there you go again…

hopefully i won’t have to rely on quotes  from ronnie roundworm , but you never know.

arrived in Thailand yesterday, september 17….hot , sultry…water and green everywhere. repots were for rain when we left SFO.  However the sky was full of marshmallow puffs backed by fathoms of ethereal blue .

after hours of confinement in the plane and in the airport, it was good to get out of the airport… and exercise my sweat glands. good to be home in my new country and life. am now a complete outsider and it is strangely comforting.

but wait hold that thought….here waiting is a whole new family greeting party, parents of Ann (from San francisco), Yaya’s daughter Nam and her husband Boy (yup that’s his name). The trip through customs was short and sweet. Loaded our five large suit cases into a small car….2 bags (the biggest) hanging out of the trunk with my computer tucked into the space in the trunk corner. Inside we packed 4 adults and 3 bags…and then off in air conditioned spender to their home on a busy street on the edges of Bangkok.

Nam  runs a  successful beauty salon in their storefront home. It is painted pink inside with all the usual accoutrements, and air conditioning. In the back they make their home…one window in the back of the larger room, a bathroom with little air circulation and a toilet.  a 20 gal. trash can full of water and a dipper used to clean and rinse yourself is near by, and showering is done by dipping water and pouring over yourself. there is a drain in the corner of the room for the water to drain out of there is no bathroom sink. an ambient temp of about 90 deg. F makes you very eager to get out of there….they have a small sleeping room with no ventilation. and sleeping mats are arranged on the floor at night and rolled up in the morning. Her husband Boy (yes that is the name he is known by…most everyone has a name they go by and a name that was given @ birth that is apparently only used for legal  purposes.) like many men in this culture he has a difficult time with no real schooling (it is available but no motivation). he currently is working as a part time car salesman. and a beautiful daughter called Cream. and living with them is Yaya’s grand daughter Cake. Yaya has cared for or paid for her care since her birth. she will be moving in with us. I am excited and a little daunted because i never have had a child before and raising her to be a bright independent woman is a big scary job. but I think we will do a good job. 


sept 23…have been unable to get internet service so far. I has RAINED…not the silly little rains of my native N. California, no, this is REAL rain…in the inches per minute range, and warm at the same time…had to help do some sand bagging and re directing the water flow over the last few days.

we spent day before yesterday between down pours doing some cleaning and re wiring in the house we rented…it is about 20ftX20ft. inside with a shower and toilet in rooms of their own…there was no electricity here so Yaya’s brother helped by putting up some reasonable wiring and getting us hooked up…but still if you want to go to the  toilet during the night there is still only one switch and that controls  both the overhead and the shower and bath lights…interesting…..

once we got the place habitable we went out yesterday and got a bed …new…a first for me I have always alley shopped or gotten from friends or from a second hand store…it is hand made from bamboo. very rustic and comfortable. Do wish I could have brought my futon from Sf. …also bought a new refrigerator and a one burner propane stove to cook on…..so with the restored furniture I fixed last visit we are now moved in.  we have also acquired a truck from Yaya’s brother who has been hit badly by the economy so needed to get out from under the payments…and cars are very expensive, here even 2nd hand ones… so I have a much better car here than I would in the USA…but so far internet is a major problem…keep hearing of good access nothing has showed to be true yet…

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mile post 1…every road has one…

sm McDoogle in ThailandI am writing this crouched over my laptop in the northern reaches of Thailand. In a small community called Pon Ngam where my wife and I have come to build our home and future together…but the land is cleared and we have harvested the first fruits of our garden. Corn planted a bit late so the ears are small, but delicious, long beans tasty and crunchy good, a round squash like a turban squash or something but when steamed it melts in your mouth…and tomatoes will be ripe in days.

building the house will have to be put off till next year dammit, an infected boil under my left arm and a misunderstanding of the length of my visa have seen to that. but all is really well…

so why teknopeasant?

It is a creation of mine from influences in my life…but focused for me just yesterday  while reading  the introduction to a book called “The hand-sculpted house”. One of the authors Lanto Evens talks about his extraordinary life. He quotes from a speech by Ana Stern in a speech on “ the difference between peasants and farmers in Mexico.”  Peasants she says( and I quote loosely) satisfy their own basic needs: they grow their food, build the houses they live in often make their own clothes. Most peasants collet wild medicinal herbs, treat medical emergencies and supply their own family entertainment. They experience fully what they do everyday; they have  time –they feel joy. Their culture is integral…Farmers by contrast grow things to sell. With what they earn from their products they buy their groceries, building materials,clothes,entertainment,and medical insurance. They must also buy into a system which demands that they drive to market,pay taxes,maybe send their kids to ag collage, increasingly they must buy machinery, seeds, farm chemicals…Farmers have no time to directly enjoy satisfying their own needs, so they purchase their satisfactions:They buy; they buy ready made clothes and “convenience”foods………

wow… looking at that it seems like western culture has not moved from the farming model…every thing we do is based on the idea of “farming” our skills and talents…needing to constantly grow or produce more because our costs grow…we have less and less time to enjoy what we have accomplished or the beauty of the world around us…

Soooo the peasant sounds like a good choice…but then again like I said here I am crouched over my laptop…how does that fit in? I can’t really answer that at this point so I have added techno to the peasant…because I do see the advantage of many advances and don’t call for their abolishment. Rather look for ways to have the rich life of the peasant and the valuable advances of science.

I don’t see them as opposing forces but as necessary balances to each other.  

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