Author Archives: Pat Ballard

6 Days!

Ye-haa! 6 more days before I’m on the plane to Thailand! Yip-ee! In 7 days I’ll actually be able to gaze into the eyes of my loved one and hold her close to me as I whisper sweet nothings into her ear in my “southern drawl” limited Thai. Which will prompt one of the two usual responses, uncontrolled laughter or two hands firmly and resolutely placed over the offending orifice.
This is pretty meager blog material, I swear I have a couple on Word I’ve been working on at my blazing two finger frenzied pace, the Monks as well as my fan are amazed that they can type in English faster than me!
Things are hopping now! I believe my last couple of blogs were complaining about my government’s slowness in the visa process and now in the past month they’ve achieved an admirable rate of frenzy in world wide document transferals. My fan and I had been planning to go to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat , a long standing dream of mine, but as she received her documents from the Embassy yesterday we probably will attend to as much of that business as possible. The blind leading the blind! Jeez, poor me, I may have to turn right around in another 3 months and fly back to Thailand if all the paper work and interview go smoothly!
Anyway I’m going to try and post some of this trip in a timely fashion as opposed to events that are from my last two trips. Beware though, they are saved on Word and there is a danger, however slight, that I’ll get them posted. Perhaps I’ll run into Khun Kitjar at the airport as he’ll be leaving shortly after I arrive.

Asatha Puja Day

The Wat

My local temple in America

As most of you are probably aware in a few days Buddhist around the world will celebrate Asatha Puja, the day when the Buddha delivered his first discourse, gained his first witness to his enlightenment and the Gem of the Sangha appeared in the world.

This is an important day for me personally as having the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha) to take refuge in was enriched my life more than any other single thing I have experienced.

Here at our Wat in Northren California a small group of us will join our Abbot on Saturday night and practice meditation through out the night and on Sunday we will have our big celebration. Through out the time of the rains retreat some of us will meet every Sunday morning for chanting, meditation practice and a Dhamma talk.

The Dhamma talks should be interesting this year and I’m looking forward to them. Last year my Dhamma sister Thum, responsible for translating to me, more often than not, would look at me and laugh before giving me the readers digest condensed version. Phramaha Buasai was no better. The morning she was not there, after a long discourse in Lao to the grandmothers, he looked at me briefly, laughed, and said that he could not remember because he was being “mindful”. My standard excuse for all infractions at the Wat now! 😀

You can see some pictures of songkran at my local temple during Songkran this year on page two…

I Love My Government

I certainly don’t understand how my government can tell me that the photos I sent to them with my application for a fiancee visa do not constitute “evidence that we have met”. Photos offering dowry, photos at graduation ceremony, photos with monks , photos with family and friends, photos in front all a plethora of Wat’s, photos with hill tribes.

Now I feel good about being a pack rat because I’m going to send them about 8 weeks worth charge receipts, money exchange receipts, ticket stubs for boats, trains and planes (and one for my upcoming trip for good measure), passport stamps and my proudest souviner my fine for overstaying my visa! (I hope Thai customs lets me back in):-)

Random Thai Blather

I’m sitting hear trying to come down from my day which was filled with all sorts of adventures related to my Thai addiction. First, as is becoming a habit suitable for a junkie, I checked out Thai Blogs and the forums I am following and then dashed off to the post office to mail some packages to my fan and her mother. The post office closest to me is closed so I dash off to the main office in the next town ( trying to get them there in time for a wedding). There I carefully fill out the addresses in paa sa Thai and then stand in line for a half an hour until it they finally get to me. Oh! The man tells me that I can’t send one of my packages because it is in a box that says express mail and I want global priority and no I cannot mark out the word “express” with the big black marker I begin waving excitedly around. He does sell me a new box, but no the post office does supply tape or ways to make the box functional. And, by the way, here are two custom forms you need to fill out for each package.

Great, I start trying to fill out one of the forms and, at least get one off today. It only took me four forms to realize that never in my life will I be able to cram that much Thai in that small of a space. Suddenly the light comes on and I hop into the car to run over to the Wat which is only 3 blocks away. I had left a bunch of packing material there for the monks and I am sure Ajahn Buasai can fit a bunch of Thai in such a small space. As I am repackaging my one present Ajahn ask me if I have another form. What!? “Oh, I made a mistake, do you have another one?” !!!!! Well, I have to give him credit for being a fast learner and having a perfect “poker face” while he’s pulling my leg this time, instead of the usual ear to ear grin!

Back to the post office to mail the goods! Oy! Their closed, missed ay 5 minutes. Now is my chance to practice Dhamma. Anger, Anger, Anger, but wait this other door isn’t locked and I see humans! “Sorry we’re closed” I’m told as I walk in. At about this point my loving kindness has gone on vacation and I’m starting to ratchet up to a very un Buddhist like conniption fit when one of the ladies behind the counter says she remembers me and she’ll mail them for me! Hurray!!! The Devas were with me today!

Grab some lunch, ok Mexican not Thai, and back to the Wat for my first Thai lesson after about a 6 week break. Ajahn tells me we’ll have to stop at 6 o’clock and met with a lender about some property we’re looking at buying so we don’t have to rent anymore. No sooner do we open our books when some one shows up an hour early and we’re off on “The Buying A Property Saga”
(Be happy I can’t type well as this endeavor is worth pages and pages of lamenting)

A couple of hours of financial talk later and, Thank Heavens, its time to chant and sit in meditation. Refuge at last! Or so I thought. Big burritos, warm summer days and the soothing sound of my fellow practioners were a little to much of me tonight. I swear I didn’t snore, I just got something stuck in my throat!

After our practice I recaped “The Buyinc A Property Saga” and prepared to leave. Ajahn asked me if I wanted to study Thai now and as I began to make sounds about being to tired I saw his “don’t be lazy look” start to come on his face so I made some tea and had a fun hour
punishing my dear teacher with my terrible pronunciation. Bless his heart I really felt much better for getting that little lesson in after such a long lay off.

Now it’s late at night and as I arrive home, happy and satisfied, I check my mail and THERE IT IS!!! A letter from The Department of Homeland Security (I choke writing that phrase). Three months of waiting and here it is, the response to my application for a fiancee visa. With trembling fingers I open the letter, ready to hear the good news that I am that much closer to having my loved one here with me no longer having to talk about and share our lives over the phone or waiting for an e-mail. NOT! “We need more proof that you have met your fiancee within two years of the filing of this application”. 🙁 Oy!

So my dear friends out here in Blog land, the Devas have left me and this is my post office conniption fit! My daughter always like to point out what a unique shade of red my face can get! 😀

Thanks for listening and now I’M REALLLY HAPPY I bought that September plane ticket to Thailand!

The Banana Tree

This is a cheater Blog as I’m copying my daughter’s poem which was just published in an art and literary magazine put out by Stanislaus University here in California. My weak tie to things Thai in this blog is that she’s wearing a shirt I bought for her at The Mall Bangkapi.

I think the line about “bees making honey in the room” comes from a conversation we had last summer with a friend of ours who had bees doing that in her room. The Abbot at our Wat attributed it to the fact that she chanted in her room nightly.

The Banana Tree

The banana tree is doing splendid
we’d thought she’d never make it
her boughs so ripped and brown from the wind
the very image of a sapling in a storm

but look,
her leaves are green and strong
there are little shoots all about her

the bees are making honey in our room
the tiger is watching with curiosity
the flowers are growing in through the open window
the bird is squawking on my head

and I
with so much to do:
paintings to paint,
stories to write,
and books to read

am lying on the front deck
just like that lizard over there in the sun
watching the banana tree grow.