Spondias mombin aka ma-kok (?????)

Somebody brought in a bag of these the other day and I’d never seen them before so I had somebody write down the name. If I’m summarizing correctly, this may be a kind of olive, or related to olives. What I know is that it was really bitter and sour, the taste of bitter fruits that make your mouth pucker or what the Japanese call shibui (astringent). That explains the bag of chili-laced sugar the ma-kok are sold with (although this also accompanies sweet fruits as well; pineapples, sour mango, various indigenous “apples,” etc.)
I have to be careful to record all of the rare stuff I encounter here because I may never see some of them again.

1:50 AM

I’m grading writing exams and listening to Houses of the Holy. Definitely my favorite Zepp. I tried grading earlier in the evening but Max would come and take my pen away every time. Eventually I grew tired of getting nothing done and crashed out on the couch. when I woke up it was dark throughout the house and the fan that Nam had thoughtfully pointed at me hadn’t kept the mosquitoes from biting the hell out of my legs. Once I got up for water I remembered the grading I’d been doing and now I sit here, scratching my legs and appreciating a quiet house (save for The Rain Song).
Damn, even the songs I don’t really like on this album are pretty goddamn good.

Five jive colors of haplessness (aka Maxie Brushing Chicks)


Luring them in.


Brush! Brush! Brush!


They got away!

A few weeks ago, Max’s grandmother brought over these little guys from the night market in a neighboring town, Nong Vang. I wasn’t really keen on the idea of keeping them at first because I was afraid Max might kill them… He’s still too young to understand his strength or about hurting things. Sure enough, the couple weeks was filled with episodes of Max almost strangling the yellow one, Max stomping on the yellow one and hurting its leg, and as shown above, Max coercing them into various forms of Godzilla role play. As it turned out, however, the chickies were not doomed by Max (they eventually learned to run away from him), they were doomed by their own actions and nature.
Brownie (why the hell would you dye a chick brown? or yellow for that matter?) was the first to go. He fell in a planter filled with rain water and drowned (actually, Yellow almost went this way first, but the nanny found him in the act of drowning and pulled him out. He spat up a load of water and we wrapped him in a towel for the night. Amazingly, he was fully recovered the next day. We were sure he was a goner, but he still had a couple weeks to live).
Yellow, Red, and Greenie were last seen on Sunday, when they squeezed through our fence or flew over it (they were just learning to fly) and went into our neighbor’s yard – the neighbor with a doberman and another mutt. He called me to let me know he’d seen the chicks in his yard and told us they needed to be kept in a cage. The thing is, I hate keeping birds in cages and I naively thought that the chicks would be happy in their safe little yard where they could run around all day pecking at this and that and chirping our ears off without a worry in the world. They eventually became pets, coming up to the front door at the end of each day so I would put them in their box for the night. But apparently, this idyllic lifestyle just wasn’t enough for these chicks, and they set off into the neighborhood with big ideas and the worst camouflage patterns, ever. I’m pretty sure they got eaten by the dogs running around here, but I sometimes wonder if they’ll show up with new plumage somewhere down the line, driving shiny new Cadillacs and yelling at us that, see, they’d followed their dreams and made something of themselves.
So if I ever want to keep chickens again, I need to keep them in an enclosure, or live on a farm or something. I just don’t see it happening. Oh well, at least we still have Pinkie. He’s the sole survivor, and he’s a bit depressed about losing his sibs. We’ll see if he’s a survivor or not. I caught him running on top of the brick wall separating our yard from the neighbor’s (again, the dobe-keeper) and I smacked him down onto our side – but I can’t be there all the time. I guess we’ll just see what happens.
P.S. This is the second set of improbably colored animals we’ve kept in Thailand. I guess the next step is dying a tribe of monkeys and convincing them to stay in our yard. At least we have bananas in the back!