Scene from Daily Life

It’s laundry day for the guard at our house in Phnom Penh.  He’s lucky because he can use our washing machine although he still has to line dry his clothes because I have never seen a dryer in the kingdom.  Washing clothes is a typical scene, here and around the world.  Peculiar to Cambodia would be the spirit house for those ethereal beings displaced when our house was built and the helmet at the base of the spirit house, turned sunward to kill the lice.

Notable Quotes


“Trump is not a rupture at all, but rather the culmination — the logical end point — of a great many dangerous stories our culture has been telling for a very long time. That greed is good. That the market rules. That money is what matters in life. That white men are better than the rest. That the natural world is there for us to pillage. That the vulnerable deserve their fate and the one percent deserve their golden towers. That anything public or commonly held is sinister and not worth protecting. That we are surrounded by danger and should only look after our own.”

~ Naomi Klein / political analyst

[NB: there are two posts today. Scroll down.]

Small Town Economy

Yesterday’s post showed one aspect of the Cambodian economy–working on the floor–and here is another.  This is in front of Thai Huot supermarket, the second largest supermarket group in Cambodia and a woman is unloading from her SUV a carload of white bread.  She and her family probably bake it in a small bakery in their home and then drive it around to the two or three Thai Huot outlets in Phnom Penh.  It exemplifies the small scale operations that characterize Cambodia business.

Preference for the Floor

This woman working in a curtain shop illustrates a cultural aspect of life in Cambodia: much of life here is lived on the floor.  Poor rural families could not afford tables, chairs, etc.—and didn’t have houses that would support furniture (remember most of the houses were bamboo slat floors on frames up on stilts)—and so the people cooked, ate, slept, played, and worked on the floor.  Those people moved to the city and continued the same life style so that it is common to see people sitting on the floor doing any number of different jobs.

Notable Quotes


“A loose translation of ‘America first’ now means all others shall be ignored or denied or bombed out of existence, if necessary, to achieve our own power and profits, our own goals and good.”

~ Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister / Spiritual writer

Looking at Each Other

Going across town to mass early one morning I caught this picture of a little boy playing on the back of a truck.  He was looking at me as I took the picture, and down in the lower left corner you can see me (in the rearview mirror) looking at him.  I was shooting the pictures from chest level so you can’t see the camera.

Motorcycle Loads #227

Tinkers are part of the American tradition, the men (I never heard of any women tinkers) who traveled with their load of pots and pans and metalware through the rural areas of the country.  Cambodia has literally tinkers (although the metalware today is made of plastic) but there are a plethora of other itinerant vendors, too.  This man sells brightly colored sheets and blanket and pillows and bolsters.  I’ve often wondered what life is like for these individuals on the road from dawn to dusk and perhaps not selling anything all day but still needing to put gas in the motorcycle and provide something for the family to eat that day.

Pentecost 2017

For quite a few years the Pentecost liturgy at St. Joseph Church in Phnom Penh has brought together the English, French, Khmer, and Korean-speaking Catholic communities at one mass presided over by Bishop Olivier.  All of these communities have used St. Joseph Church as their base at different times, meeting in different buildings at different times on the weekend.  Today we had our gathering and a central part of the ceremony was the conferring of the sacrament of confirmation on 37 mostly young people.  Here, dressed in traditional Khmer garb and traditional sitting position, they listen as Bishop Olivier has an opening prayer.  Because of the large crowd when all the communities are together, the liturgy was held on an outside stage covered with a light tenting to keep everyone out of the sun.

Notable Quotes


“The truth is that we no longer have a real Congress that determines together what is good for the entire country. We have power politics, the abandonment of consensus, in a time of serious national division. The party with the most seats runs the country for its own satisfaction. How long that can possibly last is anybody’s guess.”

~ Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister / Spiritual writer