Farewell to Nam Kaeng

The Nam Kaeng (Thai: “Ice”)

Cats come and go at this house, but Nam Kaeng was special because she was so sassy and a patchwork quilt kind of mean girl. The first time she ran up to me, I thought she was rabid because she was so familiar and insistent on getting scratched on the head. It turns out she was just claiming her new servant.

We’d never really noticed a cat with orange eyes before!

It turns out she came from a neighbor’s house and just decided to live here with our other cats, much to the consternation of her owners. I took her back to their house several times, and they kept her in a cage, but she managed to escape and come back every time. One time, she came back with a lion cut.

We laughed at this for hours, and she never stopped with the stink eye.

So as it turns out, this murderous heat wave was probably just too much for her. She died in our driveway on the first day of Songkran, and we didn’t find her until two days later… So sad!

Goodbye, Nam Kaeng!

Dragonfly table

So this happened lol.

We were looking for a used table. They cost about 3,500 to 4,000 baht for a decent one. Delivery would be around 1,000 baht since there were none for sale around here.

Went shopping at our neighborhood shopping mall yesterday and found this one (Dragonfly 20mm) on sale with a set of paddles for 4,750 baht.

Ka-ching!

Ping pong anywhere


Well, it looks like I’m going to have to buy this boy a ping pong table (table tennis table?). Luckily, it looks like used ones go for 1/3 the price of a new one here…. but they’re mostly down in Bangkok. Wonder how much shipping will cost.

Fact: There is no space at our house for all of our stuff.

Also: Mina and Max will eventually need their own rooms, which we did not plan for when designing this house (when we didn’t yet have kids). In retrospect: Duh!

I found a dinosaur

I found this on the street just in front of our house last week. Either it got run over during the rainstorm the night before, or the cats claimed another victim.

Boba Fett Birthing Station

So my wife left for Japan for two weeks yesterday, and shit got immediately real. On top of single parenting, working,  and doing homework for Masters class, I was somewhat unhappy to find that a feral cat had given birth behind our outside AC unit.

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It looked like a litter of 3, but I’ve now confirmed 4. I guess the only thing that made me really happy about this (besides inherent kitty cuteness, which does not work on me so much right now because cuteness implies children, and I have my own brood to take care of right now, thank you) was that mommy cat moved them into a box of old stuff, and they slept in a Boba Fett mask last night.

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Catching Giant Snakeheads with an Excavator

In the past couple of years, the pond in front of our house got seriously overgrown on the banks (as well as on the surface) with reeds, vines, and other opportunistic vegetation. Yesterday, the banks were cleaned up with a Caterpillar 313b excavator:

A lot of heavy machinery we see up here in Northeast Thailand is imported used from Japan. This model was produced from 1996, so it's not really that old.
A lot of heavy machinery in Northeast Thailand is imported used from Japan. This model was produced from 1996, so it’s not really that old.

 

For a brief second, I saw the archway I've always wanted in front of my home.
For a brief second, I saw the archway I’ve always wanted in front of my home.

 

The road hasn’t been cleaned up yet, and I’m not sure that it actually will be (since the predominant way of thinking is that it will get washed away by the rain – even if rainy season is half a year away!), and the weeds need to be pulled off the surface of the pond, but it’s good start. Here are some before-and-after pics:

BEFORE:

September 23, 2013
September 23, 2013

AFTER:

February 5, 2014
February 5, 2014

 

Enthralled by the rumble of heavy machinery, I took some video of the big, beat up machines working:

When the dumper took off to unload nearby, I noticed that the excavator was scooping mud from the pond. The operator got and out and started rooting around the bucket… He was fishing!

A bit slow with the camera, I didn’t take video of him grabbing a freshwater eel or the fat, brutish snakeheads from the bucket, but I did get a good shot of what was left:

I have no idea what kind of snake it was.

After the work was done and the machines had retired for the day, I found a slightly smaller specimen of the snakeheads (this species is actually called the Giant Snakehead) I had seen earlier, wiggling around on the road. I saved it to show the kids when they got home:

While the cat operator was saving his catch to eat (we went so far as to ask how he would cook them: “spicy stir fry!”), we were not. I originally thought I would give our snakehead to a random worker on the street for dinner – this is a prized eating fish, I just refuse to eat from what I know is a polluted water source – Max got really upset about it. He asked of we could keep it, and I told him he had to choose between keeping our current fish, an antisocial plecostomus and a juvenile gourami, or just the snakehead (since the snakehead will kill, but necessarily eat, any other fish in the tank). The one(s) we didn’t keep would have to be thrown back to the pond. He chose the snakehead, but I talked him out of it by basically explaining that snakeheads, this species in particular, are vicious little assholes, and that I’d need to feed it other poor little fishies on a regular basis. The snakehead ended up being thrown back from whence it came, simultaneously dooming other little denizens of the pond and making merit for us by returning an animal back to nature.

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It occurs to me that my go-to book on local fish species backs up the stories I’ve heard about this fish perfectly:

Ophicephalus micropeltes
Laotian: PA DO
Thai: Pla Chado
Cambodian: Trey Chhdor (diep for small ones)
Vietnamese: Ca Bong
Others: Toman (Indonesia and Malay)

NOTES: Maximum length about 1 metre, usual length 30 to 70 cm.

This fish has an unpleasant character. According to Hellei it attacks isolated Khmer fishermen. Worse, it is one of the few fish which devour their own young, at least in certain circumstances. Maxwell explains that the parents protect their offspring to begin with but then, when the little ones are big enough to fend for themselves, drive them from the nest. It is those which are too obstinateto leave which are eaten. The Malays have a saying: “Bagai toman makan anak”. This means “like the Toman fish which eats its own young”; the phrase is applied to persons in high places who misuse their powers, oppressing those whom they should protect.

CUISINE: Some say this is not quite as good as the preceding species (pla chon); but it is still of high quality. The firmness of the flesh makes all the snakeheads suitable for fish salads and cold fish dishes.

Fish and Fish Dishes of Laos by Alan Davidson

The only thing I can add to this is that the latin name for this fish species seems to have changed more than once. It seems that the currently accepted name for it is Channa micropeltes, the Giant Snakehead.

A fruit on my tree

Oh, my Gac! Or should I say, fuck cow?

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The tree I planted a handful of gac vines under, in a pot, allowed just one enough shade to survive a full year. I’ve only spotted one fruit so far, but I’m looking forward to see if it will fully ripen.