Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Homeland Comforts

Back barely ten days in Chiang Mai, and I'm settled in, The sheer joy of flying directly into Chiang Mai without having to navigate Bangkok is a nice reward after an excessively long journey of ~20 hours total. That comes courtesy of China Air at the best budget price for the US market.

Being in the "States" wasn't all bad...just a significant portion of it. Unfortunately it was the portion I couldn't avoid, i.e., the simple 'raison d'etre' for the trip itself. The good news, however, is that I did accomplish all the necessary details to resolve the originating issue. I didn't have the same good luck with some of the side issues.

One thing I had hoped to do was to go through those things I still had stored with various family members. I was able to access a lot of it, but not everything. Specifically, I could not get to three trunks I had stashed in Oregon in my niece's garage. They were blocked by an overwhelming collection of who-knows-what. Worse than the proverbial 'Fiber McGee Closet." To get to them I needed help that I could never get cooperation on. Malish! Nevermind that they were chock-a-block full with some of my long-time treasures--some things just weren't meant to happen.

The slightly over ten weeks I spent in the US were confined to the West Coast, namely Oregon and California, with an emphasis on the latter. I traveled to Oregon shortly after I arrived in country, driving up with my niece who lives in LA. I had a nice visit for three days in Portland with a dear friend and her family, followed by a frantic week of sorting through boxes, nick-knacks, documents, old letters, and the global souvenirs of my nomadic life.

After that it was back to California where I spent two weeks with my brother in San Diego. He is in the process of incorporating his business and wanted to put me on the books as major stockholder and CFO. With the current chaos in the econimic sector, assuming the much maligned title of CFO seemed highly appropriate.

I took a break from that and rode Amtrak up to San Jose for a short visit with my nephew and his family in Saratoga. That proved to be a peaceful interlude interacting with the kids, working jigsaw puzzles, and a day trip to San Francisco (my favorite US city dating back to the wild and whacky '60's) to go to coffee with a friend.

Back to the Southland with another week or two in San Diego to finish up all the business matters, interspersed with short stretches in LA (West Hollywood). The advantage in LA is that my niece lives in a lively area where I can walk to everything I need and encounter interesting characters along the way. My San Diego brother lives in North County. True suburban California living in a subdivision that is far from everything and literally without local transport. Pedestrians are rare enough to potentially cause alarm and I was totally dependant on my brother for getting around.

Along with visiting friends and family, I put some focus on food and entertainment. As good as Thai food is, there are certain things that I miss like cheese, lamb, raspberries and even some strange vegetables that many folks don't consider edible such as parsnips and brussel sprouts. As a special treat, my niece and I went for Ethiopian food in LA's famous "Little Ethiopia."

I saw a local production of "The Crucible" with my friend in LA and over indulged in old reruns of Law & Order. My niece turned me on to Dr. House reruns, and she and her brother introduced me to "Cash Cab." What a kick. I'm not big into reality shows, but this one I'll make an exception for. It was great fun.

Sadly, I didn't connect with all the friends I had hoped to see, but it was time for me to go and I bid farewell, issuing everyone invitations to come visit in Thailand.

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