WWOOFing in Lovely Lipsi – Working on an Organic Farm in Greece

WWOOFing in Lovely Lipsi – Working on an Organic Farm in Greece

After a few weeks on holiday in Greece, it was time to get down and dirty on the farm. When I told someone I went WWOOFing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) over my holiday, the response was, “I did that when I was about 20.” I ignored this comment because I love getting my hands in the dirt especially when it doesn’t involve any nasty herbicides or pesticides. It feels good to grow your own food no matter what your age.

This was the little farm where I worked weeding the vineyard.

This was the little farm where I worked weeding the vineyard.

I WWOOFed at Dmitris Farm on Lipsi Island in Greece. The island is home to about 700 inhabitants and in the low season in April, the WWOOFers on this farm are about the only non-residents.

When I arrived it was bright and sunny, but still cold.

When I arrived it was bright and sunny, but still cold.

7/4 – Arriving in Lipsi

The ferry to Lipsi was quite uppy downy. Upon arrival I felt a bit nauseous and woozy when Kostas met me a the pier. “Elizabeth? Kostas,” in a perfect midwestern American accent, “I spent many years in the states.” I boarded the back of the motorbike with my big backpack and we were off the the farm.

The island is full of small vineyards

The island is full of small vineyards

This beach was about 200 meters from the farm

This beach was about 200 meters from the farm

Lipsi is a very tiny island, only 8 kilometers in length. We drove through the little port town, then past goats, sheep, vineyards, and olive trees with an occasional coastal view. We were to the house in about 4 minutes. At the house in the small basic kitchen were two other WWOOFers, both Canadian, named Monica and Laura. They were eating a stir fry lunch and Kostas made pasta for my not-quite-off-the-boat and hungry self.

Preparing dinner with Monica and Laura Rose

Preparing dinner with Monica and Laura Rose

This needed weeding

This needed weeding

Kostas showed us that we’d be using sickles to cut the knee-high grass around the vines. We had to do it by hand because the buds on the 200 year-old vines are very delicate and if we knocked them off, the vine won’t produce grapes. After eating, I joined the women working for about 2 hours in the afternoon. It was sunny and pleasant, but not warm. They wanted to go swimming. Gotta love Canadians. I humoured myself and put on my bathing suit under my clothes anyway. We walked the three minutes it took to get to the gorgeous beach with its pellucid waters. Rocks, not sand made up the shore. Both girls swam, but upon dipping my foot in to the frigid water, I stayed out.

I thought it was cold, and the Canadians went swimming.

I thought it was cold, and the Canadians went swimming.

After the swim we walked about 25 minutes to the town. Not a whole lot was going on there. The bakery is the happening place to be in Lipsi, and its free wifi was useful, as there was none at the house. The sun doesn’t set until about 7:30 in April – a bit discombobulating for my early sunset equatorial lifestyle.

Monica, a 26 year-old nurse who lives in a farmhouse in Nova Scotia, was curious about Buddhism. She asked me questions for me and listened intently to my experiences with Buddhism in Thailand. Her sense of humor and openness was very endearing.

We headed back to the farm where we were instructed to pick some wild dandelion greens called horta to be boiled along with the fish and lentils for dinner. I realise more and more that I am suited to being a vegetarian; I just couldn’t clean the fish guts.

After dinner we drank beers and played cards. Monica’s sense of humor, Kostas’ gruffness and chain smoking, and Laura’s one-liners provided plenty of entertainment for the evening.

Lovely Lipsi

Lovely Lipsi

8/4 – WWOOFing in the Vineyard

The next morning at 7 we made coffee, hot water and fresh from the tree lemon, and ate muesli before going to sickle the weeds in the vineyards. We worked all morning, made lunch and then went back to the field again. We stopped around 3:30. Clouds hung in the sky throughout the day with a slight chill in the air, which made pleasant working temperatures. It began to rain as I went to gather more wild greens. After dinner I was sad to see Monica leave on her 11:55pm ferry. My arms were sore, but I felt as if I’d done a hard day’s work.

One of many vines weeded

One of many vines weeded

9/4 – The Day Greece Supposedly Runs Out of Money and also Holy Thursday.

After a restless sleep, I went to work with Kostas at 8am weeding a garden. It was so full of weeds it was difficult to see where the garden was. After several hours it looked significantly better, but it was testament to how much work a farm is. While weeding, I was accompanied by the soundtrack of goat bells in the distance.

I also helped Kostas decant olive oil from a barrel and washed brined olives of their muck. My hands were delightfully oily afterwards. The wind was picking up and the temperature dropping. I made a delicious pasta lunch with the olives and lemons fresh oregano and tomato sauce. 

Kostas and his Greek friend with an Australian accent had loads of stereotypical questions about Thailand: sex tourism, eating snakes and insects, is it like Chinese? etc. It was disappointing to hear that these are the things some people perceive about Thailand.

We tilled, raked, weeded and sowed a field of potatoes and onions. It was beginning to rain and the wind was blowing like mad. It must have been about 10 degrees, but felt like about 0 to my sensitive tropical living self. I put on all my warm clothes. I read in bed under many blankets in the unheated house while listening to a static-filled radio broadcast of Greek Orthodox chanting for Holy Thursday. Kostas talked about going to the neighboring island Patmos for our day off on Good Friday, but we found out the boats wouldn’t be leaving because of the winds. 

Windy but gorgeous

Windy but gorgeous

10/4 – Still Crazy Winds and Cold on the Good Friday Day Off

I slept late (meaning 8:30) because I just can’t handle these cold winds. Laura and took a long exploration of an amazingly beautiful small island. Let the pictures tell the story:

Nature is amazing

Nature is amazing

Goats and sheep-o-plenty

Goats and sheep-o-plenty

Not exactly sure what this means, except when it's at the end of a sentence.

Not exactly sure what this means, except when it’s at the end of a sentence.

The sheep I supposedly saved by being vegetarian.

The  black-faced sheep that I supposedly saved by being vegetarian. We called him Lucky.

Me too!

Me too!

11/4 – Windy Weeding

We cut grass by hand with a sickle, then weeded a stone garden on this sunny, windy and cold day. After farming I walked to the nearby beach.

At the beach I listened. The question: “What is my life supposed to be?” appeared. An answer followed: “Living without fear.” Outwardly it appears that I already do that for the most part, but do I? That gorgeous water at the beach made me think, as the sun beamed on my face while the chilly winds blew.

I walked home feeling content reflecting upon the fact that my life is in fact quite extraordinary. I have not followed the common path and I’m glad. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t have a partner, but then I see just how wonderful things are in the present moment. At times it appears that I am just a tumbling tumbleweed blowing wherever the wind blows. In retrospect, it’s clear that that isn’t the case.

What is my next chapter? Well goodness me, I sure hope there is a wonderful man involved. Perhaps there is a book in this life. It’s not the life for everyone, but it’s worthy of a ‘wow!’ Sometimes one has to pause and just say, “Wow, life is beautiful.”

After listening to the radio that plays Vangelis’ (a Greek) Chariots of Fire and then Play That Funky Music White Boy (for reasons I can’t quite comprehend), Laura and I walked to church in the freezing wind for Easter service at 11pm. Chaos reigned with dynamite blasting off. Inside everyone lit candles. One (at least one) girl’s hair caught on fire. The high heels, bright lipstick and very short skirts made me feel substantially underdressed, but it was so cold I just couldn’t worry about fashion. Although I didn’t understand it, it was an experience to be in Greek Orthodox church for Easter Sunday.

12/4 – Greek Easter

Laura and I had the day off. After a leisurely breakfast we took a long stroll to a picturesque  beach on the other side of the island. I just couldn’t get over the turquoise and sapphire watersOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMEAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA On the beach I was thinking that it is really my new year. It’s almost Thai new year (Songkran) and with this break, and a new school year about to start, it seems a good time to think about the future. Plans include getting away on the weekends more to local places.  I’d also like to go to Pun Pun and Panya Project to continue in the farming spirit back in Thailand.

We eventually arrived back in town where I had the best chocolate ice cream ever. After leaving the bakery, a couple asked us to come look at homemade products from their house. I bought some sweet lemon.

It had been a very quiet and peaceful Easter day. Just as my thoughts about Greek Easter being a festive occasion were starting to fade away, we spotted a lamb roast, loud music, and drinking party. They waved us in. Laura was hesitant, but I knew it would be a fun cultural experience. We were immediately handed Alfa beer and some lamb. I declined the lamb, so bottoms up!

Drinking Alfa and raki with the locals while avoiding the lamb carcass on Greek Easter

Drinking Alfa and raki with the locals while avoiding the lamb carcass on Greek Easter

The music was the blaring whiny fiddle type with gypsy vocals. A few people were dancing, but it didn’t last. We kept getting handed beer after beer and I kept drinking to avoid eating lamb. To be polite, I had one little bite of Laura’s lamb, which confirmed my vegetarianism. We watched the lamb carcass get devoured and everyone appeared to be having a good time. I drank about 3 1/2 beers in about the span of an hour. Eventually the raki (local moonshine) came out too. Definitely too much alcohol and not enough food for me, but the whole thing was hilarious.

13/4 – Weed the Vineyard in the Sunshine!

After a dream filled sleep, sunshine filled the sky. It was the first day without high winds, and we continued weeding the garden. For lunch, I did my best to make a Thai dish called pad phak boong using the horta and the giant beans from the garden. Surprisingly, there was fish sauce and even chilies at the house, so it worked okay. I had to include a khai dao (fried egg) on top. Although Greek food is delicious, I am starting to miss Thai food. After lunch, I walked to our local beach and read Jitterbug Perfume and thought about how to conduct my life over the next year, and how not to repeat patterns that no longer serve me. 

14/4 – Feeling Energetic and Overdoing It

I woke up after delightful dreams feeling strong, and began swinging the mattock with gusto for weeding from around the vines. It completely wore me out.

guerrila weeding

guerrila weeding

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Laura and I had delicious lunch in town at Manoli’s Tastes – the best meal I had in Greece, and Manoli is a nice guy. At night, Laura and I ‘laughed and toasted to nothing and smashed our empty glasses down’…only quoting Joni Mitchell. (‘Met a redneck on a Grecian isle who did the goat dance very well…’)

15/4 – Feeling Achy from my Bad Ass Gardening Yesterday

My arms were sore after my vigorous weed whacking. Laura and I sang Joni Mitchell and Aretha Franklin while weeding in the grapevines along with the new WWOOFer. After lunch Laura and I invented ‘cheesefakes’  a digestive biscuit and Greek yogurt.

Laura weeding with the attention seeking cat

Laura weeding with the attention seeking cat

We hiked off to the far beach. On the way there a little lamb came running up to me. He was like a dog and wanted me to pet him. The walk was stunning.

Lipsi...

Lipsi…

Insanely gorgeous!

Insanely gorgeous!

Goats too

Goats

donkeys

donkeys

sensational views in every direction

sensational views in every direction

I definitely considered it

I definitely considered it

Sunset over the town

Sunset over the town

Beautiful

Beautiful

Upon arriving home, we found that Kostas had dipped into the wine and had also prepared a smorgasbord of dinner for us. Kostas said goodbye, but indicated that he’d take me to the port. He didn’t. At 11:20pm, thankfully the new WWOOFer walked the 25 minutes in the dark to the port with me. The boat was pulling up as we got there. Whew! Bye bye beautiful Lipsi. Hope to visit you again in the harvest season.

Lovely Lipsi

Lovely Lipsi

Advertisements

Ios – 50 Shades of Blue

Ios – 50 Shades of Blue

We said goodbye to Naxos...

We said goodbye to Naxos…

...and hello to Ios

…and hello to Ios

Main town in Ios

Main town in Ios

We hadn’t planned on going to Ios, but with so much shut in the low season, and it being between Naxos and Santorini, we thought we’d stop by. I’d heard it was a party island…

...it was more like this in the low season.

…it was more like this during the low season.

Once again, being early April, we found ourselves on an island with most places still shut and being some of the only tourists there. Heavenly! We nearly had the island to ourselves.

It was obvious that in the high season the bars would be packed with young'uns. Remember 'Stay Under 17'

It was obvious that in the high season the bars would be packed with young’uns. Remember ‘Stay Under 17’

Rock mosaics everywhere

Rock mosaics everywhere

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hiking along the coast

Jeremy hiking along the coast

Megan and Julian

Megan and Julian

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Amazing sky

Amazing sky

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Can you spot Julian?

Can you spot Julian?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another sign indicating that this could be a a place for crazy parties

Another sign indicating that this could be a a place for crazy parties

Julian found this

Julian found this Urchin…

and put it back...it was still alive

and put it back. It was still alive!

It's all Greek to me

It’s all Greek to me

This cat embodies the amount of activity  on the island

This cat embodies the amount of activity on the island

In the late afternoon, awash with golden light, we hiked amongst ancient stone walls and fields in Skarkos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is Skarkos

This is Skarkos

Hello sheep

Hello sheep

succulents

succulents

lichen

lichen

Jeremy and me

Jeremy and I bundled up as the sun went down

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

fig silhouette art

fig silhouette art

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Baby figs! Are they called figlets?

Baby figs! Are they called figlets?

Church and moon tiime

Church and moon time

Julian and the biggest portion of food that I've seen since I left the US

Julian and the biggest portion of food that I’ve seen since I left the US

Odd spacing of words

Odd spacing of words

Megan and I leaving our mark

Megan and I leaving our mark

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last meal on the island - picnic style

Last meal on the island – picnic style

Bye bye Ios

Bye bye Ios. Glad we saw you in the low season.

The Whole Family Visits Thailand

The Whole Family Visits Thailand

I am a lucky lady indeed because for my Christmas present, my whole family visited me in Thailand! Thankfully, everyone absolutely loved it.

Here are some highlights: After everyone had a day to combat their jet lag with a Thai massage, some delicious Thai food, and the city sites of Chiang Mai, a place we all were happy to visit was Elephant Nature Park.

Hal IV, Dad, Beth, Dory and Wendy at Elephant Nature Park.

Hal IV, Dad, Beth, Dory and Wendy at Elephant Nature Park.

Hal loves the elephants.

Hal loves the elephants.

Dory loves the elephants.

Dory loves the elephants.

I love the elephants.

I love the elephants.

The elephants love each other.

The elephants love each other.

Having fun giving the elephants a bath.

Wendy, Hal and Dory having fun giving the elephants a bath.

Playing Songkran with elephants.

Playing Songkran with elephants

Elephant Nature Park is a fabulous sanctuary for elephants in Chiang Mai Province where they are allowed to roam freely, and are never chained up. There is ‘no show and no ride’ as they told me on the phone, but one can enjoy spending time feeding and bathing the elephants.

After a delightful day with the elephants, we spent the night in Chiang Dao.

Chiang Dao

Chiang Dao

Walking back tot the room at Yang Tone Farmstay.

Walking back to the room at Yang Tone Farm Stay

The wat up on the mountain in Chiang Dao.

The wat up on the mountain in Chiang Dao.

When we returned back to Chiang Mai, we headed to Sunday Walking Street for a little bit of shopping and eating.

Having pizza for a slight change from Thai food at Girasole

Having pizza for a slight change from Thai food at Girasole

We had to visit Panyaden School, where I work. It wasn't quite the same without the students there.

We visited Panyaden School, where I work. It wasn’t quite the same without the students there.

The next day we hopped on a plane to Krabi and took a minibus straight to Klong Nin beach on Ko Lanta. Wendy and Dory were pretty excited to arrive, so Wendy composed a little song. FYI: chang is the Thai word for elephant.

We enjoyed the sign in our hotel...

We enjoyed the sign in our hotel…

...and were glad to have already gotten pedicures in Chiang Mai

…and were glad to have already gotten pedicures in Chiang Mai

Dory sends off her first komloy to ring in the new year

Dory sends off her first komloy to ring in the new year

Then Dory orders a 'bucket' not realizing how big, sickly sweet, and alcoholic they are

Then Dory orders a ‘New Year’s Eve bucket’ not realizing how big, sickly sweet, and alcoholic they are…

...but we had to laugh about it anyway

…but we had to laugh about it anyway

On New Year's Day 2015 we took a boat trip with thousands of other tourists. It was the most touristy thing I've ever done in Thailand. We swam through a cave to an emerald beach with boatloads of other people.

On New Year’s Day 2015, we took a boat trip with thousands of other tourists. We swam through a cave to an emerald beach with literally boatloads of other people. It was the most touristy thing I’ve ever done in Thailand.

Dory and Wendy on an amazing beach off Ko Lanta.

Dory and Wendy on an amazing beach off Ko Lanta.

Selfie fail

Selfie partial fail

Wendy had better luck with her longer arms

Wendy had better luck with her longer arms

Lovely

Lovely lady and beach

Dory and a new four-legged friend

Dory and a new four-legged friend

Piña colada happy hour with Dad at Peace Paradise Beach Resort.

Piña colada happy hour with Dad and Wendy back at Peace Paradise Beach Resort.

Khun Pa was the best. We ate at his restaurant everyday.

Khun Pa was the best! We ate at his restaurant everyday.

Sadly, it was time to say farewell…but not without one last hearty laugh at the airport: Presenting Wendy in ‘Discovering the Blackpuccino’ at Black Canyon Coffee.

“Hmm, what should I order?”

Blackpuccino!

Blackpuccino? Blackpuccino!

Image 2

“A Blackpuccino! That’s it!”

“Hooray!”

“I love my Blackpuccino!”

“That Blackpuccino.”

I have never laughed so hard in an airport.

As is obvious from the photos, a great time was had by all.

I am so very grateful that my family came to visit me.

I am so very grateful that my family came to visit me.

Happy New Year 2014 or 2557

Happy New Year 2014 or 2557

Happy New Year 2014

Happy New Year 2014 or is it 2557? Western year or Buddha year?

2014 started on a beach in the south of Thailand and this was my first glimpse of the new year:

Bonfires were welcome due to the chill in the air.

Bonfires were welcome due to the chill in the air.

Is it possible to have a Thai holiday without fireworks? I don't think it is.

Is it possible to have a Thai holiday without fireworks? I don’t think it is.

On January first, walking down the beach I stumbled upon this:

It looks like nothing...

It looks like nothing…

...until you look at it from another perspective. Maybe that will be a theme for 2014 - looking at things from different points of view.

…until you look at it from another perspective. Maybe that will be a theme for 2014 – looking at things from different points of view.

I couldn't believe how many perfect tiny sand dollars there were.

I couldn’t believe how many perfect tiny sand dollars there were.

This kind of beach beauty...

This kind of beach beauty…

...inspires sunset yoga.

…inspires sunset yoga.

A bungalow...

A bungalow…

...with a view

…with a view

Solar panels should get plenty of power in this sunshine,

Solar panels should get plenty of power in this sunshine.

Unfortunately, I got the worst food poisoning I have ever had in Asia and was out of commission for about two days. I just took it as a New Year’s detox. Thankfully, a new friend, Charlie brought me soda water and electrolyte beverages. When I emerged from my bungalow, there were loads of butterflies to watch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I heard chanting and wondered where the closest wat was. No wat, but rather blessing the opening of a new beach restaurant.

In my exhausted state, I thought I heard monks chanting from my bungalow and wondered where the closest wat was. There was no wat, but rather blessing the opening of a new beach restaurant.

Hibiscus upon walking up to the village

Hibiscus upon walking up to the village

Another butterfly plant

Another butterfly plant

fSbYaCmclSDR09ijuJl65nsUVLdXKfsvUWKZ6JEEGLg

Butterflies, friendly dogs, and hammocks = happiness

Butterflies, friendly dogs, and hammocks = good medicine

Dan and Mila arrived just as I was getting better.

Dan and Mila arrived just as I was feeling better.

I met Dan on a beach in southern Thailand 14 years ago while playing frisbee in the water. We both lived in San Francisco, but wanted to move to Portland. After traveling in SE Asia, we both moved back to San Francisco. I then moved to Portland, and a few years later Dan did too. Now we’re back to how we met each other, on the beach in Thailand.

Dan continually sees the positive side to things, which makes it fun to spend time with him no matter how mundane the task. That said, some things are just fun, no matter how old you are…

...like a gigantic swing.

…like a gigantic swing

I could not stop laughing.

I could not stop laughing

IMG_1785

A new friend, Charlie, wanted to try it too.

Charlie wanted to try the enormous swing too.

Oh Thailand, I love you this much!

954503_10151889876889007_1639788771_n

Pictures that Captured 2013

Pictures that Captured 2013

2013 was a busy, fun-filled year. So many things were happening all the time that I didn’t blog very much at all. Here is a photo overview highlighting some memorable moments of 2013. It’s really a summary of what could have been about 20 blog posts organized chronologically for the year. Enjoy!

Starting out on January first with old friends, Cara and Katie, in Chicago.

Starting out on January first with old friends, Cara and Katie, in Chicago.

Upon returning back to Chiang Mai, I said goodbye to the rice field in my backyard and moved into...

Upon returning back to Chiang Mai, I said goodbye to the rice field in my backyard and moved into…

...this house.

…this house in the city.

My new backyard...

My new backyard…

kitchen

kitchen

and upstairs outside patio.

and upstairs outside patio

Moving into the city exchanged quiet solitude for active social life and lots more people visiting me at my home.

Visitors of all ages

Visitors of all ages

Seeking some of the quiet beauty, Kenny and I headed north to Chiang Dao.

Seeking some of the tranquil beauty, Kenny and I headed north to Chiang Dao.

Kenny chilling in the river next to the hot springs.

Kenny chilling in the river next to the hot springs.

The weekend of 3 friend's birthdays started with Kate's 40th at The Four Seasons ooh laa laa

The weekend of 3 friend’s birthdays started with Kate’s 40th at The Four Seasons in Mae Rim. Ooh laa laa!

The celebrations continued with Rose's birthday vinyasa with Vari at Wild Rose...

The celebrations continued with Rose’s birthday vinyasa with Vari at Wild Rose Yoga Studio…

...and finished with Anthony's 30th at San Kampaeng hot springs.

…and finished with Anthony’s 30th at San Kampaeng hot springs.

Still teaching outside the city in nature at Panyaden School all day Monday – Friday, living in the city has helped balance out my former semi-reclusive life with a lot more time with friends.

To make students aware of where their food comes from, we took a field trip to a rice mill.

To make students aware of where their food comes from, we took a field trip to a rice mill.

A plus about my house in the city is knowing the neighbors. An afternoon of haircuts by Guillaume, with Christophe, Rose, and Felicity, in my neighbor Christophe's backyard.

A plus about my house in the city is knowing the neighbors. An afternoon of haircuts by Guillaume, with Christophe, Rose, and Felicity, in my neighbor Christophe’s backyard.

After doing a fun run for Burmese refugees in the morning, I headed to Pai for a 3-day weekend in late February for some time to read and relax.

After doing a fun run for Burmese refugees in the morning, I headed to Pai for a 3-day weekend in late February for some time to read and relax by myself.

The school year ended mid-March before Chiang Mai gets too smoky and hot. This was one group of projects - making their own vehicle.

The school year ended mid-March before Chiang Mai got too smoky and hot. This was one group student of projects – making their own vehicles.

Friends of Panyaden (our school's PTA with me representing the T part) had an end of the year picnic at the 'sticky waterfalls'.

Friends of Panyaden (our school’s PTA, with me representing the T part) had an end of the year picnic at the ‘sticky waterfall’.

'The sticky waterfall' is an unusual type of rock formation that doesn't allow the rocks to become slippery. It is possible to walk up the waterfall, even for children. Pretty cool indeed.

‘The sticky waterfall’ is an unusual type of rock formation that doesn’t allow the rocks to become slippery. It is possible to walk up the waterfall, even for children. Very cool indeed.

Birthday flowers

An array of purple hues: birthday flowers, pretty lights, and lanna weaving.

Christophe and I went to Chiang Dao for his birthday, also in mid-March, but it was getting very smoky.

Christophe and I took a holiday in Chiang Dao for his birthday, also in mid-March, but it was getting very smoky.

To escape the smoke in the end of March, it was time to head south.

To escape the smoke of Northern Thailand in the end of March, it was time to head south.

Pong and I headed to a little island.

Pong and I headed to a little island.

Our bamboo beach hut

Our bamboo beach hut

and inside

Inside our bamboo bungalow

colorful crabs

colorful crabs

beautiful beaches

beautiful beaches

perplexing pirate ships

perplexing pirate ships

This is how cashew nuts grow. It's just the part on the end of a big fruit. They need to be harvested individually, the nut is then cut from the fruit, shelled, and dried. Quite a process. It explains why they're expensive.

This is how cashew nuts grow. It’s just the part on the end of a big fruit. They need to be harvested individually, the nut is then cut from the fruit, shelled, and dried. Quite a process. It explains why they’re expensive.

Caring for an injured hornbill

Caring for an injured hornbill

Thai style ceviche

Thai style ceviche

Cute girls on a swing

Cute girls on a swing

Our canine travel companion

Our canine travel companion

And the nightly beautiful sunset made me want to stay on that special place for a long time. Thai 'summer' school break was coming to an end, and almost 3 weeks on the beach with no internet, it was time to return to Chiang Mai.

And the nightly beautiful sunsets made me want to stay in that special place for a long time. Thai ‘summer’ school break was coming to an end, and after almost 3 weeks on the beach with no internet, it was time to return to the Chiang Mai heat of mid-April…

Just in time for Songkran, Thai New Year and water throwing festival. Alana laughing with Pong, who is  armed and ready.

Just in time for Songkran, Thai New Year and water throwing festival. Alana laughing with Pong, who is armed and ready.

This is who might soak you during Songkran.

This is who might soak you during Songkran.

Starting the new school year in May, my students wrote brochures on what they like to do in Chiang Mai province. This student gives clever tips on how to stay dry during Songkran.

Starting the new school year in May, my students wrote brochures on what they like to do in Chiang Mai province. This student gives clever tips on how to stay dry during Songkran.

Bekkah gives me a yogic lift

Bekkah gives me a yogic lift

Dogs on motorbikes never cease to amuse me.

Dogs on motorbikes never cease to amuse me.

Here are some of my ceramic pieces, glazed but not fired.

Rekindling an old passion, I took ceramic classes on the weekends. Here are some of my pieces, glazed but not fired.

My outstanding ceramics teacher Jern, showing me trimming techniques.

My outstanding ceramics teacher Jern, showing me trimming techniques.

High tea with Alana at the Chedi

High tea with Alana at the Chedi. More food than we can eat.

Pong and Rose having a laugh over kanom jeen at Chiang Mai Gate.

Pong and Rose having a laugh over kanom jeen at Chiang Mai Gate.

Backyard blooming lotus

Backyard blooming lotus in June

This stunning creature devoured most of my African Mask plants.

This stunning creature devoured most of my African Mask plants.

When I took my car to the mechanic because it was overheating, he fixed the engine problem. He was a better mechanic than driver, because he returned my car like this after he ran into my friend's car.

When I took my car to the mechanic because it was overheating, he fixed the engine problem. He was a better mechanic than driver, because he returned my car like this after he ran into my friend’s car. Don’t worry, he’ll fix it.

To learn about Thai culture and history, we took a field trip to a 700 year old temple in Chiang Mai

To learn about Thai culture and history, we took a field trip to a 700 year old temple in Chiang Mai.

Wat Jed Yot

Wat Jed Yot

IMG_1865

On those sultry summer days, a Thai tea really hits the spot.

On those sultry summer days in July, a Thai tea really hits the spot.

A week off in the end of July took me to these turquoise waters of the coast of Ko Adang National Park

Kru Jeab captivating her K2 students at Panyaden.

A week off in the end of July took me to these turquoise waters of the coast of Ko Adang National Park.

A week off in the end of July took me to these turquoise waters off the coast of Ko Adang National Park.

IMG_6794

Lovely Mon Chaem

Lovely Mon Chaem just north of Chiang Mai

One of the coolest insects I've ever seen. Anyone know what this iridescent orange turtle shaped beetle thing is called?

One of the coolest insects I’ve ever seen. Anyone know what this iridescent orange, turtle shaped beetle thing is called?

Planting rice with Kru Neung on Thai Mother's Day, August 5th.

Planting rice with Kru Neung and our students on Thai Mother’s Day, August 5th.

IMG_1967

We will eventually eat this rice at school.

We will eventually eat this rice at school.

The green season is sure is beautiful. View from Panyaden.

The green season sure is lovely. View from Panyaden School.

To make Panyaden even more beautiful we thought we'd attract some more birds by building them houses.

To make Panyaden even more beautiful, we thought we’d attract some more birds by building them houses.

My nickname has made it to Thailand!

My nickname has made it to Thailand!

Detail of the silver wat

Detail of the silver wat in Chiang Mai.

Surfing in Chiang Mai at Art in Paradise.

Surfing in Chiang Mai at Art in Paradise.

Pong gets some wine

Pong gets some wine

Good thing I had the bridge the little kid didn't quite make it.

Good thing I had the bridge. The little kid didn’t quite make it.

October outside of Pai

October in the countryside outside of Pai

IMG_0429

Spirit house Samui

Spirit house Samui

Fantastic Thai massage in the most unlikely spot - on the beach in Ko Samui.

Fantastic Thai massage from Pi Niam in an unlikely spot – on the beach in Ko Samui.

My day of luxury at Saree Samui

My day of luxury at Saree Samui

The lovely new detail to my gate.

The lovely new detail to my gate.

A day out at Huay Tung Tao with Rowan

An October day out at Huay Tung Tao with Rowan

Acroyoga in the park with Emily

Acroyoga in the park with Emily

Acroyoga in my living room with Emily, Zahara, Neko, and Vari.

Acroyoga in my living room with Emily, Zahara, Neko, and Vari.

Leading my students on a walking meditation.

Leading my students on a walking meditation at Panyaden

Taking the students hiking and playing in the river at our Doi Inthanon overnight field trip.

Taking the students hiking and playing in the river at our Doi Inthanon overnight field trip.

Moths of unusal size at Doi Inthanon National Park.

Moths of unusal size

Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon trip

Near the top of the highest point in Thailand

Near the top of the highest point in Thailand, Doi Inthanon

Hike at Doi Inthanon

Hike at Doi Inthanon

Making Krathongs at Panyaden for Loy Krathong

In November we made krathongs at Panyaden for Loy Krathong

Students dancing for Loy Krathong

Students dancing for Loy Krathong

Letting my Krathong go.

Letting my krathong go

Floating krathongs on the lake at Panyaden.

Floating krathongs on the lake at Panyaden.

The Yee Peng festival at Mae Jo University. 10,000 komloys let off at once.

The Yee Peng festival at Mae Jo University. 10,000 komloys let off at once.

Lauren and I made our own krathongs to float on the Ping river.

Lauren and I made our own krathongs to float on the Ping river for Loy Krathong

Kenny and I let off a komloy from a rooftop in Chiang Mai.

Letting off a komloy from a rooftop in Chiang Mai with Kenny.

Funny signs in Chiang Mai (there are lots of these - blog post coming soon).

Funny signs in Chiang Mai (there are lots of these – blog post coming soon).

Kate and I thinking we might have an Owen Wilson sighting as they film The Coup in Chiang Mai. Alas, we didn't see him.

Kate and I thinking we might have an Owen Wilson sighting as they film The Coup in Chiang Mai. Alas, we didn’t see him.

I had about 30 people to my house for Thanksgiving dinner. This is only a small part of the feast.

I had about 30 people to my house for Thanksgiving dinner. This is only a small part of the feast.

Some of the Thanksgiving friends, Abby, Mark, Jessica, Sara, and Balaram.

Some of the Thanksgiving friends, Abby, Mark, Jessica, Sarra, and Balaram.

Amazing insect

Amazing insect

'Iron chef' cooking competition at our Doi Inthanon staff outing.

‘Iron chef’ judges tasting our creations for the cooking competition at our Doi Inthanon staff outing.

No question that nature is the best artist. Unbelievable chrysalis.

No question that nature is the best artist. Unbelievable chrysalis.

Father's Day rice harvest, December 5th.

Father’s Day rice harvest with Kru Jan on December 5th.

Does Kenny have happy saliva? NAP fair in Chiang Mai.

Does Kenny have happy saliva? NAP fair in Chiang Mai.

Beautiful Chiang Dao at Yang Tone Farmstay.

Beautiful Chiang Dao at Yang Tone Farmstay.

Super smily girl in the hot spring.

Super smily girl in the hot spring.

Teachers and students raising money for the Philippines.

Teachers and students at Panyaden raising money for the Philippines by singing.

Our staff costume party. The theme was a childhood book character. I won second prize, probably because I spoke in rhyme.

Our staff costume party. The theme was a childhood book character. I won second prize, probably because I spoke in rhyme.

Cat in the Hat and Snow White/zombie.

Cat in the Hat and Snow White/zombie.

Silly breakfast shot at Good Morning Chiang Mai with Joe, Zsa Zsa, Johnny, Rose, Lorenzo, and Emily.

Silly breakfast shot at Good Morning Chiang Mai with Joe, Zsa Zsa, Johnny, Rose, Lorenzo, and Emily.

Fun day out in Warorot Market and at Thamel Tea House with Rose.

Fun day out in Warorot Market and at Thamel Tea House with Rose.

Fun to see Armando, who I met here two years ago, and meet his girlfriend.

Fun to see Armando, who I met here two years ago, and meet his girlfriend.

Lovely, yet chilly, Ayurveda and yoga retreat at Om Waters.

Lovely, yet chilly, Ayurveda and yoga retreat at Om Waters.

Yoga at Om Waters

Yoga at Om Waters

Angie, Dao, Heather, Balaram, Yan, Hannah, Sarra, Rose and Surya for our Om Waters retreat.

Angie, Dao, Heather, Balaram, Yan, Hannah, Sarra, Rose and Surya for our Om Waters retreat

Temple dogs

Temple dogs in sweaters

Having old friends Dan and Mila visit for Christmas.

Having old friends Dan and Mila visit for Christmas

Dan and PJ jamming silly songs in Chiang Dao.

Dan and PJ jamming silly songs in Chiang Dao

Happy birthday PJ in Chiang Dao.

Happy birthday PJ in Chiang Dao. Very chilly December 28th.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lots of love and gratitude to everyone who made 2013 such a wonderful year. Happy 2014!

IMG_1689