Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dad's Visit

My dad was here for the past two weeks. For sanity purposes, he came at the perfect time, as I had been dangerously close to applying for jobs in stateside for both Mike and me. I always get a bit Thailand stir-crazy and homesick around the holidays, but this year was worse than usual.

We celebrated Christmas Eve Eve, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Eve with friends. Dad was a trooper and tolerated being dragged from one party to the next, quickly making friends with people that even we didn't know. Dad took in the sights, sounds and smells of Bangkok, visiting the Ancient City, JJ's, China Town, Saturday Market in the King's Park, and The Jim Thompson House.

We traveled to Chiang Mai (northern Thailand) and went fishing, saw a very entertaining elephant show, held monkeys and watched a monkey show at the monkey training center, and went zip-lining through the rainforest with the Flight of the Gibbon.

We also traveled to Koh Samet and enjoyed the beach, muddy motorbike rides, good books, fresh coconut smoothies, fresh sea food on the beach (literally on the beach... our flip-flops had to be saved from being swept away be the water forever).

We watched movies (and watched Dad get a good laugh out of the movie Elf, when he goes up the escalator for the first time), played 12 games of cribbage in which Dad trashed talked us (and rightfully so since he won 7 of the 12 games). His laugh, "thinking about which card to throw into the crib song" and whistling crashing airplane sounds somehow made it hard for us stay mad at him for beating us to a pulp (and skunking us several times) though. :)

Dad loved Thai food, especially green curry. Mike and I ate as much non-Thai food before he came, gearing up for 2 weeks of pretty much straight Thai food, but surprisingly found that we didn't get sick of it during his visit. I even found myself eating Thai food over American food for breakfast.
Mike (as he observed me eating rice & green curry for breakfast instead of french toast, waffles, or omelets) said, "You're going all Asian on me!" Probably not, especially after eating muffins for breakfast this morning, but hey, it's progress. :)

I didn't take a ton of pictures because Dad did, but here is a little selection from his visit.

MBK artist

In Chiang Mai with Christmas tree made out of CDs

small market in CM

Khao Soi-- typical northern thai cuisine: curry noodle dish made with chicken (or beef or pork) and served over Chinese Bah-mi flat egg noodles and topped with crispy fried noodles. It's delicious.

Prune brownies, anyone?

**Oops, sorry about seeing my jeans, several times, I thought I had pressed pause during that time, but apparently had not!

Maesa Elephant Camp near Chiang Mai

Monkey Center near Chiang Mai

Fishing in CM

China Town
Koh Samet

Thursday, January 5, 2012

An example

My dear, 91-year old Grandma Ruthie passed away this December. Unfortunately, as overseas circumstances dictate, I won't be able to be present at her funeral. But as my dad says, "Funerals are for the living to remember, not the dead." So remember, I will. This will be read at her funeral in my absence.

Grandma Ruthie was one of the kindest, most loving, and generous people that I have known.  Her lavish love for her family was evident in her words and actions.  She was quick to read her grandchildren stories, play a game of “cooties,” “peanuts,” or dominoes on her kitchen floor, send care-packages, write letters, send cards on Halloween or Valentine’s Day, take us shopping for a new Christmas outfit, or treat us to homemade goodies or a dove bar.

Holidays were always Grandma Ruthie’s forte. She would bake several homemade pumpkin and pecan pies for Thanksgiving and fuss over making lump-free gravy and perfectly sweetened whipped cream. When she lived in Plymouth, we would overwhelm her house with people and noise on Christmas Eve. The grandchildren would rave about “Grandma’s peas,” which were simply frozen peas coated in tons of butter, but we didn’t have them on any other occasion, so they were always “Grandma’s peas.” She baked so many treats for us, especially during Christmas. Every Christmas, each family would receive a tupperware and tin filled with goodies, which we often affectionately named after her, calling them, “Grandma’s date bars,” “Grandma’s gooey bars,” “Grandma’s caramels.” And the thing is, they really were “Grandma’s”; despite having her recipes, no one else can seem to make them like she did.

Some of my favorite memories of Grandma Ruthie include:
·      What a die-hard Minnesota Twins fan she was.
·      When she laughed at how shocked I was the day I discovered that she kept her Christmas tree up in the basement all year round.
·      How her freezer and refrigerator doors were covered in family photographs, drawings little ones had made, and her magnet collection from different trips that either she or family members had taken.
·      Family Friday night dinners at Bakers Square, where she’d always order the club sandwich and strawberry rhubarb pie alamode, and then proceed to fight my dad for the bill.
·      My last time seeing her—after several visits where she was tired or not very talkative, I was blessed to catch her on a good day where she reminisced about her childhood and other family memories.
·      How she would laugh each time a grandchild would send her a letter addressed to “Grandma Ruthie,” and she would marvel at how the postman delivered it to her house with no last name.

Grandma Ruthie was loved dearly and is missed, but will continue to be an example of loving deeply and giving generously.