Some Stuff N' Stuff

Mostly a garden blog, and the occasional garden-inspired recipe.


Garden down time

Today, I had the duty of jury duty. But when we were let out early, I took advantage of the above average temps (in the 60s) and tore the garden, or what was lft of it, down.

I was surprised to see some many orange tomatoes on the ground. The chives seemed to self-promote itself abudently, as well as the oregano. I grabbed some tools from the shed and dug up the aforementioned shrubs as well as the weeds and lemongrass which were easier to rake than to pull up by hand. The tomato plants came out easily, as did the comsos - a few of which were still in bloom. I dug up all sorts of large worms that seemed to be enjoying themselves before I came along. I spyed on several spiders and slugs living under the leaves of various dying vegetation. I threw what I could into the composter, while the rest ended up in a large pile in the back of my garden. I'll let it rot till next spring, at which time I'll compost.

Now I've got a clean slate once again, ready for next year's crops. Overall, I have to say this year was a little dissapointing. TThe cosmos hardly bloomed and the smmer was so short, I didn't get as many tomatoes in time. Many died on the vine, hungry and sunlight-starved.The peppers were weird, I don;t think they were jalepnos as they were labeled. However, the lemon grass was a fun thing to grow, the tomatoes I did get were delicious, and I had lots of basil and more scallions than I could handle. Next year I'd like to plant all heirloom tomatoes. They are hands-down the best tomatoes I've eaten.


Trip to S.E.Asia

Hello all,

I finally went on vacation after many years of putting one off. I decided to go big and went to Cambodia, Thailand and Laos with a group of running buddies. Our initial excuse was the HHH Interhash in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but our activities and interests lead us far beyond running as we explored golden trimmed temples, walked through ancient stone cities, treked to hill tribes in a tropical jungle, enjoyed elephant and river raft rides, were titilated by the lights and ladies of Bangkok, soaked in the ambiance of French Colonial architecture, and enjoyed a peaceful recluse on a breezy tropical island.

Below are 3 of the emails I sent from afar, starting from the first one I sent:


October 24, 2006
12:03pm local time
Siem Reap, Cambodia

Subject line: Greetings from Cambodia!

Hello All-

Please pardon the group email - but I only have one afternoon left in
Cambodia before I take off for Thailand.
Everyone should visit this place, its amazing to see, the people are
wonderful and the food - well, is nothing short of amazing - and cheap!
Actually everything is cheap, and haggling is the national game. Still
hard to believe I'm here in a 3rd world country since many here in Siem
Reap speak some English and use American dollars for just about
everything. Went to he infamous Angkor Wat yesterday, truely amazing.
You get to climb all over everything, too bad I didn't bring my
climbing shoes:) The guesthouses are very clean, and the sound of motos
& tuk tuks are as ubiquitous as the sound of prayer music in the
morning. It's very hot and dusty, Many poor children selling cheap
items for their family - some as young as 3 years old. Far too many
landmine victims making their way around, doing as best they can to
survive. It's heartbreaking since you can't help everyone you see. I've
talked to a few who have been this way for over 20 years, they were
sweeping for mines when it went off beneath them. Many have children
and their own special bikes. Overall, I'd come back in a heartbeat.
Nightlife is lots of fun too, since Siem Reap is a tourist town. Lots
of other European and Australian, Chinese and Japanese- very few

Going to get back on the bicycle and peddle around town
some more to see the city - the best way aside from the tuk tuks
(motorized rickshaw). Traffic is hectic but you get used to it - they
dont drive fast, but there aren't stop signs as I can tell:) OH

All the best,


October 28, 2006
8:50am local time
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Subject line: Running, shopping, and old men in Thailand.

Hello again from Chiang Mai, Thailand.

It's nice to stay in one place for a few days. Our hotel is located
right outside the east gate of the city, which is a fairly happening
place. The city has an old wall with gates and a moat around it. The
walls are pretty much gone except over here by the east gate and at all
the corners. There's a night market a short walk away - where hundreds
of stalls are teaming with people and cheap trinkets. Last night we
went down there and I found my earrings, the very ones I was wearing &
bought in the States, at one of the stalls. The prices are less then
what we would pay in the states, and then you bargain down from there.
So I'm not likely to buy many things in Thailand, why should i when I
could also buy them at my local Target or Pier One with a 400 percent

Anyways, trail running in Thailand is like trail running in RI or MA,
but with 90+ degree heat and humidity like you've never, EVER, known
unless you've run in the jungle before. It's so ridiculously hot in the
sun, you seek out the shade form a distance and look forward to getting
there, even if it only lasts a few seconds. I've finally learned my
lesson and started pacing myself at the start. I been running with a
Camelback (oh you American!) which has been helpful. Drinking water
here is like breathing - you do it constantly without thinking or
you'll die. Wearing a hat is essential, and wearing wicking fabrics are
useless. The jungle smells wonderful: jasmine, eucalyptus, other
tropical flowers. We've run past teak trees, which I've never seen
before, and tons of other plant life that's new to me. If you like mud,
steep hills, rice paddies, trip wires, sugarcane, palm trees,
waterfalls, cows, and the random Wat or two -Thailand's the place for
you to run.

The people who have attended the Hash running event here in Thailand
(6,000 of us) are mostly white men - average age is about 50-55. Many
of them are older than that - up into their 70s and 80s. Many or Brits
or Austrailans, and since we're nearby, many Malaysian and Indionesian.
There are so many grey heads in the crowd, I wonder if I'm in the right
place sometimes. These guys have a great sense of humor and sharp wit,
it's a pleasure to run with them.And they're not as slow as thier age
might lead you to believe - these guys are veterans and can kick some o
the younger folk's butts (ahem, me incluuded).

Yesterday we went to an paper umbrella making company - not the ones you
put in your cocktails, but the ones you might use to keep the sun off
you or use on your patio. It was staffed by mostly women, they do
everything by and from carving the umbrella spokes, to making the
paper, to painting the designs. They offered to paint anything for a
few baht, so we had out hats, camera cases, and shorts painted with
dragons and other designs. Can you say tourist?? Ugh...

Off to the northern hill tribes tomorrow, we're staying overnight with
the Lisu tribe and hiking around in the mountains in one of the
national parks. Headed to Laos after that, more in a few days.


I am getting email from people, even though you may be getting an error
message kicked back - so thanks for keeping me in touch with what's
happening on your end.


November 4, 2006
6:36pm local time
Bangkok, Thailand

Subject: Gastronomic adventures in Laos, river rides and mountain treks in Thailand, and Ko Samet Island

Hello all,

Each of the three adventures mentioned in the above subject line deserve
their own email - however I wasn't privy to such access with exception
to Laos, the email I wrote there was deleted and I gave up on the slow

Elephants, River Rafts and Trekking in Thailand:
I'm back from a week(?) of adventures in Thailand, Laos and Ko Samet.
It's Saturday I'm told. Its warm but not oppressive - in the 80s and
smoggy. Since last wrote, we ran one more run in Chiang Mai which was
hot but lots of fun, got up early the next morning into our van and
drove north to Doi Chiang Do National Park, where we would ride on
elephants through a stream bed, ride bambo river rafts, and finally,
trek a few hours up the mountain side to a Lisu hilltribe where we
would spend an night. The elephant ride was short but sweet, it's not
something you want to do for much more than hour anyways. Some of teh
gys in our group got to ride on the neck, where the guides sit. These
elephants are more wild than trained, eating anything in sight and
stopping whenever they felt like it. We had a ball taking photos and
watching our guides turn red in frustration at their inability of
controlling the animals. The ride dropped us off at a hilltribe village
(different from the trek we would later take) where we were encouraged
to buy handicrafts and try betel nut (spicy, weird head rush - stains
your steeth something nasty after prolonged use). We fed the elephants
banana bunches, peels and all, and made our way to the river rafting

The rafts were long and narrow, 2 people to a raft -sitting in the
middle- with a guide steering from the bow with a very long bamboo
pole, which he would stick intot he bottom of the river and push us
this way and that. Kinda primitive but it got the job done. We relaxed
and enjoyed the mountain scenery around us as the guides raced each
other down the river. The river had a little speed to it, but it was
generally slow and relaxing withoutbeing boring. We got tot he endpoint
in about an hour and had lunch under a thatched roof and chatted withe
owner in English, who had a taste for the Bee Gees.

After that we got a ride in an open air truck (as were most of our local
transport rides) to somewhere in the mountains of Doi Chiang Do National
Park. We met our 3 guides who hiked without breaking a sweat in flip
flops and jeans, while the rest of us sweated heavily in shorts, trail
shoes and tshirts. It had to be at least 90 degrees in the sun as were
most days in Thailand.When we got to the village, the air was cool and
the locals were wearing warm western clothes. We had dinner and
couldn't take our eyes off the amazing jagged mountains before us. The
Lisu picked a great place to live. We had a cultural dance show which
we participated in, amoungst the pigs, chickens and babies all around
us. They even had some smalltime firworks that can be bought in markets
and set those off after the show. 3 other tourists from Chiang Mai were
there, 2 were musicians andbrught a guitar, they were partial to Simon
and Garfunkle so were sang along with them. We also got a taste for
some thai folk music which the other guy sang to us. We slept in modest
thatched huts, on th ground in sleepnging bags. It was quite a night to

Roosters don't crow at first morning light - they tend to start at 3am.
Did I mention how much I dislike roosters now? Anyways, we got a ride
down teh mountain the next morning (its a touristy trip afterall) and
got in our van and headed to the airport and caught our flight to Luang
Prabang, Laos.

Sad city. Overrun with european tourists, the locals seem tired of
catering to them, and seem fairly beat in general. I caught a lovely
case of "Bangkok Belly" just before leaving Thailand, so my time in
Laos is tainted by this experience. We did offer food to the monks and
the rest of the group ran one afternoon while I massaged my stomache
and slept. I really don't have much to share about it, except the
bathrooms are fairly well equipted with both western style toilets and
paper - thank goodness.

Korat & Ko Samet, Thailand
After Laos we flew to vientiane (sp?) and drove to Korat, a two-bit hell
hole not worth much mention. We stayed in a nasty guest house, one of
the only ones we were able to locate in our research. I awoke at 5am
the next morning (we had to leave very early to ccatch our boat ot Ko
Samet)to a parade of ants above my headboard, walking down the wall
towards the bed. I go the heck out of there and we headed off to the

Ko Samet was everything I hoped it would be, basically a secluded island
where I would do absolutely nothing for one day. The beach we stayed on
was littered with broken coral pieces. Very few tourists were around,
weather was gorgeous, a light breeze cooled me off under the shade of a
tree on the white sand beach. A tire swing hung nearby. We made friends
with a black dog who roamed the beach. I read my New Yorker and missed
home, thinking back on everything ive seen, from diverse cultures,
sounds, smells and landscapes. The people have been nothing but
wonderful, helpful, kind. We took a walk to see the sunset, had dinner
and went for a night swim. As I went to bed early, stomache still
grumbling - I've only been able to eat plain white toast, white rice
and the blandest of bland foods. Most of the men in the group were up
singing late into the evening except one - who went missing - all we
knew if he showered and headed off in the direction of some other
resorts without telling anyone where he was going or when he would be
back. He didn't return for our schedled 7am breakfast the next morning,
and everyone was concerned. He had a habit on this trip of leaving us
late in the evening, returning in the morning with colorful stories, so
were we accustomed to his behavior, and he always returned on time for
our morning breakfast or departure. You don't know someone until you
live with them you often hear, I would addd traveling to that
statement. We gathered his things and left him money, several notes,
and numbers to call. We though maybe he was waiting at the ferry for
us. We got there, but he was nowhere to be found. Despite his poor
judgement of leaving without telling anyone, he's a resourceful guy who
can take care of himself. But concerned and worried as we were, we
contacted the tourist police on the mainland and planned for a search
party - although not wanting to jump to conclusions too early. We
continued to call the resort office on the island to check in with him
as we headed on to catch our scheduled ride, and at 11am we got through
to th front desk and heard he picked up his things and was on his way
back to Bangkok by bus. We were all terribly relieved to say the least.
What we had hoped happened to him had happened: he overslept, had no
watch, rushed to get back from the north side of the island but missed
breakfast, the ferry, and of course, us. This was the lowest point of
the trip. I just saw him about a hour ago at our hotel here in Bangkok.
He feels awful, like a jerk for worring us all - and rightfully so! We
thought up a few new nicknames for him, this won't be something we let
go of for some time. We're all just glad he's ok and in one piece, and
I personally plan to chain him to the hotel room doorknob this evening.

I think that should do it. I'll be back in 2 days time with a zillion
photos which will take forever to organize and update. Looking forward
to returning home to kitty, family and friends.


More photos from the trip are here: