adventures in Thailand



STAYING PUT – My goal upon leaving the hospital last Monday was to stay put in the guest house and not venture down the hill (a three mile drive) until the weekend at the earliest. It pleases me to report that it is now a week later and the goal was reached. The possible chamber music concert in Kingston on Sunday proceeded and succeeded without my attendance.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, the next big move occurs: down the hill three miles, hang a left and less than a half-mile later pull into the parking area for the historic Cooper Inn, built circa 1800. My bedroom is at the top of the stairs which I am happy to report will present no problem to my healthy lungs and well-rested body. My stay will last one week at which point I move back to this lovely property from April 3-7. The owners will be in NYC and away for their daughter’s ninth birthday. My housesitting duties will involved feeding two cats and their wonderful labradoodle while staying in the main house instead of the guest cottage.

WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS – As if staying in this incredible guest cottage were not enough, on Sunday another couple offered their country home and their guest house to me. They will be in Malaysia for two weeks and live in Manhattan most of the time anyway. So generous and kind of them. Will not take up their offer but was touched that they made it.
Additionally, my current hosts invited me to come back to the guest house anytime before my return to Thailand in May. How kind of them! It is unlikely that will happen but it is reassuring to know that there is a bed for me, if needed.
The next stop after housesitting will be to a friend’s apartment behind the Woodstock post office. Ironically, this friend will be housesitting elsewhere which makes her one bedroom place available.
For my last two weeks in the USA things are still up in air. A trip to DC/Maryland is in order to see my three grand-nieces.  Also I want to return to the Boston area to see my favorite relatives, the ones who welcome me into their home unconditionally.

For now my approach to life (in addition to the philosophy THE UNIVERSE WILL PROVIDE) is simply “Go with the Flow.”  Very Woodstock, Very 60s-70s.



A NEW WOMAN – Great Night’s Sleep

(Written Thursday)

For the first time in over two months I awoke on Thursday morning after seven hours of sleep feeling healthy and well rested. HURRAH! Actually that opening sentence is not totally true. While in Thailand there were a handful of days when I awoke feeling well. My response? Put in  a full day of work and forget that my lungs were not functioning properly. The result? Relapse.

This time will be different. My plan continues to be: REST, REST, REST. If the “rest plan” is successful my hope is to: 1) move into the Cooper Inn on Monday and pay rent there until my housesitting assignments begin on April 3;  2) Attend a string quartet concert on Sunday afternoon presented by the Ulster Chamber Music Series on whose Board of Directors I’ve served for a couple of seasons.

Last night my temporary hosts asked if I could stay with their five year old son for an hour while the dad went to an important meeting and the mom was with the daughter at a rehearsal. WHAT A PLEASURE! He is so loving, sweet, articulate and artistic. It was fun showing him a series of postcards from Thailand. He drew while I ate and cooked my dinner. (Thanks, friends, who delivered groceries and falafel on Tuesday and Wednesday–you know who you are.) When he saw me boiling a couple of eggs for Thursday’s breakfast he asked for one. So for his “extra dessert” he had a hard boiled egg. There is a stove and fridge in the guest house but limited pots and pans…so last night I brought fresh eggs and a falafel over from the guesthouse.

The nearly nine year old daughter here is an iPad and computer wiz. No surprise–when she was 18-20 months old or thereabouts she was drawing “people”–circles with eyes, nose and mouth. My pediatrician friend in Westchester confirmed that this was EXTREMELY early and indicated unusually high intelligence. She has already taught me how to fast forward my iPad videos and the best way to find and download photos of Dr. Maria Montessori.

Let’s keep this blog– which will be an email to some folks– on the short side. Please remember it always brings a smile to my face to hear from you via email or blog comment. By next week there will be better phone access as well.

ADDENDUM – Friday morning.

Feeling excellent though didn’t sleep so well. My hosts are out and about so I have access to the telephone, which I try not to use when they are here, and to one of their desktop computers. For some reason (perhaps because I am techno-challenged) it seemed impossible to post the blogs from my iPad.

My friends and fellow members of the Unitarian Universalist congregation have been SOOOO helpful and supportive. It makes me VERY GRATEFUL. Every day someone has come by the guest cottage for an hour or two, usually bringing food or things needed from town. So nice! Have rarely felt so loved and supported.

My current recovery goals are to: 1) stay put at the top of this mountain road until Saturday afternoon 2) perhaps drive down the hill to see Cooper Lake on Saturday 3) feel well enough to a string quartet concert on Sunday in Kingston.  However, if I am the least bit tired or fatigued the concert will be missed. Promise!

Cheers – Paula



“MODEL PATIENT – You get A++”

Those were the words of a nurse as I was discharged from Kingston Hospital after eight nights there. March 11 marked my first overnight in a hospital ever. Twenty years ago when three bones in my left ankle were broken while on a writing assignment in Nashville, Tennessee, they let me out of the Emergency Room in time to sleep in my hotel bed.

So, what happened? What dreaded disease was exported from Pai, Thailand? Was it going to spread to friends and family? Had a tropical bug traveled 38 hours, door to door, Pai to Greenwich Village in New York City?

After two infectious disease  doctors, one pulmonologist, an ER doctor, my doctor and a weekend on-call MD examined, questioned and studied this “puzzle” (per my MD) or “mystery” (per my favorite MD, a British infectious disease specialist), the verdict is out: ASTHMATIC BRONCHITIS.  [NOTE: There is a .01 per cent chance that a Helminths parasite (hookworm or its cousins) entered my body due to eating raw lettuce or going barefoot.  The medical team is waiting for an out-of-state lab report on my stool sample to eliminate this possibility completely.]

After eight nights in the hospital, the next big question was where would I go? You might  recall that my lovely, modern and spacious one bedroom home (with guest cottage — hint, hint) is located halfway around the world from Woodstock/Kingston, New York in northern Thailand.  Technically in the USA I am homeless.

My plan had been to pay rent at the historic Cooper Inn built in the early 1800s.  A friend, who has doubled as my personal assistant since the move to Thailand, owns it. She  lives there five nights a week and spends two nights each week  in Westchester County where she runs a business. Usually there are two to four others who live there plus another tenant who rents a small free-standing cottage on the grounds.

Beverly, my friend and owner of the Cooper Inn, invited me stay for a few nights as her guest anytime and then become a temporary tenant until my return to Thailand in early May. Three difficulties about carrying out the original plan: my illness, one of her tenants had major surgery two weeks ago and was recovering at Cooper Inn, available bedroom is on second floor (my compromised lungs prefer no stairs for a while).

What’s a woman to do?????? Here’s what worked for me, my new mantra: THE UNIVERSE WILL PROVIDE.
And provide it did—way beyond any expectation or dream.

A gracious and loving couple with two adorable children invited me to stay in their amazing guest house not far from where I lived from 1999 until my move to Thailand in July 2011. Another friend offered to pick me up at the hospital on Monday afternoon, take me to the pharmacy and stop at BISTRO TO GO for a bit of food to get me through dinner and breakfast.

This guest and main house deserve a separate blog post. Suffice  it to say that there is no place I could be at the moment where I would feel more loved, welcomed, and safe while in the lap of luxury. The luxury matters little to me–the hugs from the five year old boy and nine year old girl are what make me so happy here. Of course their handmade GET WELL pictures and cards cheer me up also. Their cards joined a FABULOUS CARD from Leah that she delivered to the  hospital on my fifth night there.

Will post again soon.


Relapse: Resting in Needham

Not sure what happened but about 36 hours my bronchitis returned with a vengeance. Thank goodness cousin Rob is on hand—he upped my inhaler and prescribed rest. He also found a steroid inhaler with a few doses on it and told me to use that. On Friday my dr. in Woodstock will see me. My first Medicare medical appt. A landmark!

In a few minutes my oldest niece, Marielle, age 44, is arriving for a visit with her 6 month old daughter, Juliette. Can’t wait to meet the baby for the first time. Have bought tons of clothing for now through age 4-5. All handmade in Thailand, most by Thai hill tribe women but also a lovely dress of hand-woven cotton with hand embroidery from a women’s collective of Burmese refugees who live on the Thai border.

Am remaining in Boston an extra day to rest. Will go to NYC on Thursday, meet with Peter (the Columbia Univ. professor who co-founded the Burmese Refugee Project), then hitch a ride upstate with Jack and Taylor, my hosts in NYC.

It’s so relaxing to hang out with the Partridges. They’re a truly special family.

This is kind of short but there’s not much to say. Maybe Marielle will show me how to post pictures on the blog (she’s brilliant and has PhD from Harvard in technology in the classroom). The perfect person to teach me a new trick.





Last night I slept 12 hours–the best in months (years?). Then this a.m. my cousin Rob, a brilliant E.R. dr., listened to my chest, etc. He declared my left lung fine and right lung almost fine (slight wheeze). So he put me back on the inhaler 3 times a day, which he had told me to reduce previously.

The Partridge Family (yes, as in the TV series) consists of Rob, my cousin Karen and three wonderful children–Rachel 16 1/2, Sarah 14 and Alex 11. When Alex was 16 and 20 months old I nannied for them while they were in between au pairs. They always make me feel so loved and welcomed into their household. I’m glad to be spending five days here although it does sadden me to miss my grand-niece’s bat mitzvah in Maryland.

This afternoon I went to my favorite re-sale shop located in the center of Needham. They have such high quality clothing at such amazing prices. Bought fashionable jeans (with holes and planned rips in them), a red Lands End fleece top, long and wide scarf that’ll be a great cover-up on planes/buses as well a way to warm up my jeans jacket, cute black slacks with thin, white vertical stripes, brown v-neck long sleeve top and brown slacks. The latter two were purchased to go with this wonderful multi-colored jacket from Thailand that has a lot of brown in it.

Karen’s mother, Marcia (whose late ex-husband was my mother’s first cousin), is coming over tonight. That’ll be nice since she and I are close.  About 15 years ago when I was playing a concert in Puerto Rico and then researching two travel articles there, she joined me for four days. We had a great time together–Marcia’s definitely a good travel partner.

During the next four days here, I hope to catch up on at least one movie and, perhaps, visit a museum. It would be wonderful if I could drag Karen away from her desk to join me.

There’s snow on the ground here which is a fun contrast to Thailand. Hope there are no snow storms until next weekend at the earliest. My Uggs boots and L.L. Bean down coat are in Woodstock where I’ll arrive next Friday night or Saturday. Am heading back to NYC on Weds. afternoon to stay with Jack and Taylor again in Greenwich Village. Then will drive upstate with them on Friday when they go to their lovely weekend home near Stone Ridge, about 35 minutes from Woodstock.

Looking forward to reading your comments.

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Off to Boston area

Well, it’s always good to be flexible in life. Who knows what kind of adventures might await. So my latest flexibility has me going north instead of south from NYC today, Friday, March 2.

Due to circumstances too complicated to explain (suffice it to say that these circumstances are based on the highly dysfunctional dynamics of the Silbey clan), I’m heading to Needham, Mass. at 11:30 a.m. to veg out, recuperate from jet lag, see my medical advisor (cousin Rob) and hang out in a non-tense atmosphere where I feel wanted and loved. Can’t wait to see the Partridge Family–cousin Karen and her husband Rob, 16 1/2 y.o. Rachel, 14 y.o. Sara and 11 y.o. Alex. It’s always great hanging out there. Their schedules are usually extremely busy.  (Karen often says, “You’re welcome to join our craziness.”)

I hope to stay long enough to be there when Marielle and my newest grand niece, Juliette, age 7 months, have returned to Arlington, MA so I can meet the cutie=-pie. My suitcase has outfits for her from age 1 to 5 years old! I’ll mail the gifts to the MD gang today.

So that’s the latest from NYC where I’ve enjoyed 2 great nights at Taylor and Jack’s spacious apt. on 10th St. & University and Lois’ studio on Barrow St. where I used to live. To round out the NY visits, yesterday I had a lovely visit and lunch with John, who still lives in my Greenwich Village building, and a great visit and dinner with favorite cousin Eddie on Tuesday night. Nice time in NY overall.

Now on to new adventures.

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It’s 3 a.m. in NYC but my body thinks it is in Pai where it’s 3 p.m.  Can’t sleep despite taking two Tylenol PMs. Have attempting sleep since 11:30 p.m. DARN! Oh well, I slept well on Monday night and can nap this afternoon. (LATER: did sleep for an hour mid–day.)

The trip was long but the three flights went went were uneventful. Two incidents — one in Pai  and second at BKK airport–made the journey more difficult then expected.

First, Pai: When the owner of Bueng Pai Farm, where I spent my last night in Thailand, dropped me off at the airport he pointed to the “dense fog” enveloping the airport. He commented that the plane might not be able to land. The so-called fog was actually smoke clinging to the ground, blocking all views of the mts. It never crossed my mind that the “haze” (as the BKK paper and govt. called it) would preclude landing and taking off in Pai.

The Kan airlines receptionist informed me that Saturday’s flight was delayed n hour due to heavy haze. About 20 minutes before our 11 a.m. departure she announced that ll flights were canceled for the entire day.

The airline provided a minivan to drive the 8 passengers to Chiang Mi. It took three hours to maneuver the 762 curves in the 100 miles between Pai and CM. Needless to say I missed my 1 p.m. flight to BKK. Arrived BKK aaround 5 p.m., waited about 45 minutes for luggage and then met Nuy, our new teacher, for a couple hours. (We were supposed meet at 2 p.m. and have 5 hour together instead of the measly two.)