you look as though you could use some

it is a steady rain.
a blinding shower 
a rush of water, a shriek of mud river 
catching branches, buckets, trees 
we can do nothing but 
wait for it to take our breath 
raging, singing out into the night 


flashlight on water 
concrete people 
the scene of some long intended crime. 


can i offer you some of this water? 
it seems as though we have too much 
and you look as though you could use some 


the heart beats faster 
trembling 
a tiny bird caught in the chest 
a rattle inside the net of fragile jewel-encrusted bone.
how to shield it from that dangerous hope—
it always gets me in the end
the river marches
a glint in its eye—a story without a finish 


i am afraid to be always the ones scattering the seed
and watching the flood carry it away.

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The high school journey continues.

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Kai was home for June and July, but school has started again and he’s back at it, digging into eleventh grade and all that means.

This year our nearly-seventeen-year-old kid has new classes and new teachers. He has a new house and family to live with during the week. His new house is much farther from the school, so he is mastering the transportation system in Chiang Mai, which consists of yellow and red songtaews. Songtaews are trucks with seats in the back.

He will have many more rides to and from Pai on the weekends. Hours of curving roads in a fast-traveling van. This does not deter him.

This tall kid is powerful. When he decides to do something, he does it, disregarding anything in his way. He has grown so much since he started this school journey—actual inches, plus he started playing drums, figured out essays and tests and class schedules, and learned that basketball is not for him. Weights are, though. Kai was our wide eyed baby, our kid who never stopped thinking and learning. Now he is a level-eyed young man, kind and chock full of sense, patient and determined. Also hilarious.

In our wild life, I didn’t imagine that I would have five different kids with five different school journeys (every kid is doing something slightly different this year) but I’m so intrigued and excited by all the learning, mastering, and growing I see in their lives.

Every Friday he comes home to cries of “Kai!” and hugs.

We love him. We miss him. We’re proud of him.

Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts, as well as my books as soon as they are available. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work.

Special thanks to new patrons, Shira and Eva, and to Kathleen, who upped her pledge! Yes! Thanks for helping this author. xoxo

All the Senses

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My new home is an unending sensory experience.

::Sight::

That line of hills, the colors of the flowers, the graceful lines of the house. We have moved into something that someone else has built, cultivated, planted. It is the very definition of grace, to live among work we have not done with our own hands.

Smell.

The wood smell in our bedroom. Making candles, cooking food. Coffee in the morning. The flowering tree opening its scent at night. Jasmine. Wafts of pig smell, all day, from the neighboring field. The septic tanks that don’t work properly for some reason. Incense. Dogs. The smell of rain. One after the other, breezes bring smells, one pleasant, the next one unpleasant. A meditation on transience.

::Taste::

I harvested eggplant from the garden and made a Keralan curry. Long beans. Mangoes and coffee in the morning, green tea with honey. Instant noodles. Rice. Pasta and black beans and tomatoes and salsa.

::Hearing::

Birds all day long, from the earliest light, to the end of the day. Roosters. Frogs, cicadas, and crickets. Owls. The whine of mosquitoes. The trucks that go by, playing music from their loudspeakers, selling ladders and brooms, or awnings, or fruit. Motorbikes. Announcements from the nearby temple. The chanting of monks during the funeral over the last few days. A boy rides up to the gate on a bicycle and asks if we can play ball. Kids running and jumping, laughing and yelling. Piano and trumpet, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, singing, rapping, beatboxing, tapping on tables, boxes, and chairs.

::Touch::

Sweat on the upper lip. Dirt on my hands and under my fingernails. Flies everywhere, landing on our skin. Spiders. June bugs dashing themselves against our faces. A wind picking up just before the rain. Mosquitoes biting. Red ants biting. Humid air. More gentle breeze. Sweaty kids coming for a quick hug. Kisses. Dogs coming close to be pet or scratched. Fans whirring. Heat building. Dough under my hands as I bake bread. Rain on the face, soaking driving home on the chariot in the night.

My Superstar Husband Plays Basketball

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Since we moved, Chinua takes breaks from work by going up to the village basketball courts to practice his shooting. Often there are local kids or teens there who join in, or invite him to join their game. Sometimes our older kids join as well Movement, play, connection, and a bit of language learning, both in Thai and English.

The ball, the sounds of the court, the looming clouds, the insects singing in the evening, the lights with flying termites swarming. Humid days and nights. Playing in the rain. Coming home in need of water and showers, tired and happy.

In a new space.

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How do you make a house feel like a home?

Our new house is beautiful. It is a sudden rise up, a view and some space, but we have not changed, our money situation has not changed. So how do we reconcile this shift? How do we hold it and live inside of it, expand and live in these spaces? How do we make a home here?

The younger kids roam. They ride their bikes and their scooters. Solo rides his wave board, all geared up with elbow pads and knee pads, looking like a kid in a catalog. They run to Winnie and Josh’s house to hang out with their friends, then all of them careen over here.

The older kids hide out. They find privacy where they can, in their rooms. Kenya draws and reads. Kai tests out the computer he bought with money he saved up, a great bargain when his host family moved away and sold it to him. He throws a football (An American football, Leafy insists. A football, Kai replies, in an old argument between people who feel more rooted here or there) to his siblings with his excellent arm, and they catch it again and again. Or they all go to the basketball court.

(Rumor has it that the village was talking about a certain kid of ours (maybe Solo) who was at the basketball court at 6:00 in the morning the other day. I have a feeling that not much of what we do here will go unnoticed.)

Chinua builds shelves, installs things, and plays his trumpet. I go through boxes. But I can’t wait to finish unpacking before having people over, so people are here among the boxes, in the bones of our new life, not yet settled, not yet complete. It doesn’t feel like home if others are not here. This is the life we have always lived. I don’t know how to make it homey any other way.

So I cook and we eat together outside. We have a covered outdoor table, the delight of my heart, in our carport. Who needs to cover a car? We would rather have a table there—a mystery to our landlords, who protect their car from rain or sunshine. Every countertop in our kitchen is too short for me, so I have embraced the old art of sitting while chopping. We have dinner and Bible circle with our friends over, and everyone is a bit astounded by our new view. The light shows off on the hills. We sit on cushions in the living room, surrounded by bugs, cups, tea, and hot water in the middle of the circle.  We read John 5 together, and discuss. I am always thankful for the perspective people from around the world bring, and this time is no different, as we hear about spirituality in Mexico, Spain, and the Philippines.

I want to try to live in my life, not drift along. Probably writing stories will help. Stories of our life here in this place. And to live in something beautiful, something more spacious than we are used to? I guess it is just thankfulness that helps with that. To acknowledge what we have been given. A view. That’s a mighty thing. I didn’t form those mountains, but there they are for me to see. I feel small in comparison. I didn’t plant these trees, but here they are. It is a vulnerable thing, to learn to receive. Inside I feel used to scrapping along, sure that what I have comes from my own power. Fists up.

How do you make a house feel like a home? Open hands, relaxed shoulders, lights and candles, sitting together. Songs in the house, maybe a dance party. Homeschool and students coming to learn. Figuring out the rhythms of life. (There has to be milk for the morning, because the store is far away.) Comforting crying children. Sorting out arguments. Driving to town for meditation. Cutting flowers for a vase. Planting a vegetable garden. There are hundreds of ways to make a house feel like a home.