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I New in town, want some plants
Dear Emma,
I am quite new in town and want to buy some plants. I have heard of this Khamtieng market and realize it is out on the Superhighway but as I am new I do not have transportation either to that market or back. Also, I don’t need to fill a garden, I just want to buy a few plants! Do I really need to go so far just for a few plants?
Condo dweller

Dear Condo dweller,
First of all, unless you live on the South East side of the moat, it really is not quite that far. Khamtieng market is great fun even if you are not buying a large number of plants for your balcony. The variety of trees, bonsais, bulbs, flowers, palms, heliconias and many others is quite large and Emma does have a hard time buying just one or two plants.
Unfortunately the new songthaew routes that have been announced do not appear to go to Khamtieng but it is not too expensive to get a songthaew to take you there. If, however, you really only want a plant or two then Emma suggests you try some of the florist shops that dot the area around town. But really, everyone goes to Khamtieng for plants. You can negotiate with the songthaew driver to take you there and drive you around the market and buy some plants. You can buy soil, nice pots and garden art as well. It may seem inconvenient but to Emma, at least, it is very much worth the effort.

People who offer advice
Dear Emma,
I am one of those people who do not take kindly towards unsolicited advice. Often I already know the answer but simply want to let off some steam or even just complain. But in this day and age it is rare for someone to be able to inform me of something I cannot simply research online myself. I am quite good at it and generally can pick out the truth from the fiction.
But there seems to be a certain breed of person who feels the need to dispense their particular wisdom whether it is asked for or not. I try to rebuff them nicely saying, “Thank you but I already know that”, but on and on they continue regardless of what I say.
How do I get these people to stop dispensing the unwanted advice?
Fed up

Dear Fed up,
Emma does understand how frustrating well – meaning people can be, the road to Hell and all that of course. But you must remember that they do mean well and are concerned for your welfare and take that into consideration when formulating your response. You should be polite and kind but firm in saying, “Thank you so much but I merely wanted to vent” or let off steam or whatever phrase you feel comfortable using.
Once you have said this change the subject. Talk about something else that is not related to you or to whatever the problem may have been. Alternatively, take a lesson from this and never mention anything that might need advice to these people to avoid the unwanted advice.

Neighbor’s dogs
Dear Emma,
My neighbor lets her dogs loose and they come and poop on my tiny bit of grass every single day. She does not pick the poop up and in fact, does not actually go out with her dogs but lets them go. To be fair, she is quite old and a little disabled so although I have been picking up the poop every single day it is getting tiresome. She does have someone who comes by every day to help out around the house but this woman also does not pick up the dog poop in front of my house. What can I do?
No poop

Dear No poop,
First of all, talk to the helper and see if she can pick up the dog feces. If not, then consider your neighbor, she is elderly and infirm and needs all the help she can get from the sounds of it. It is annoying and they are not your dogs but you will be doing her a great service and yourself by simply picking up the poop. One day you will also be elderly and infirm and if you are Buddhist and believe in karma then perhaps someone kind will help you when you need it.
It is, after all, not really a huge inconvenience for you is it? How many minutes does it take up of your daily life? Five minutes? What is five minutes of kindness to an old woman who needs help and who, if she were to do it herself, would certainly take her far longer than the time it would take you do it yourself.
There was a movie quite a few years ago called “Pay it Forward” about performing random acts of kindness without any hope of it being repaid but with the knowledge that if someone does something nice for another person and then that person does something nice for the next person (the forward part of paying it) then eventually we will all be doing nice things for others.

Language matters
Dear Emma,
I was recently talking with a friend of mine who complained because a man had called her adorable and she said that while she said nothing she was rather offended. I asked her what was the problem and she told me that puppies are adorable, babies and small children are adorable, little fluffy bunnies are adorable but to use it to describe a grown women somehow implies she is childish and immature.
At first I put her reaction as being overly sensitive until I had a discussion with a friend about words we use in Thai to describe people and the Thai friend pointed out that one would never use “suoy” or pretty for a man and that is when I realized that my friend was right. Language does matter, if I were to be offended if another man described me as pretty then I cannot complain if a female friend of mine is offended by adorable.
I will try to be more mindful of my speech, I guess Buddha had it right all along!
Not Pretty!

Dear Not Pretty,
Well done for opening your mind to other’s viewpoints and yes, the Buddha most often did have it right. Mindful speech and mindful behavior are important in daily life.