Sunday, 22 December 2013

My cat is a Tea Party Right-Wing Christofascist.

.. who clearly wants me to put the Christ back in Christmas.

Today has been earmarked for weeks as "Shortbread Baking Day". The Cat knows this. The Cat also knows that I call Christmas "Crimbo". I didn't think she minded. Until today.

Until today, I thought The Cat would be our last line of defence come the Zombie Apocalypse, but she's clearly not on my side.

I also thought that the Crimbo decorations, in various plastic bags on the table, were of no interest to her. They've been there for weeks and she's barely pawpatted them. I'm not so naive as to have put up a Crimbo tree. I know she'd be all over that like.. well.... like a 6 month old kitteh on a tinsel-laden tree.

So, the stage is set. Secular Crimbo music on the Ipod Of Doom, The Husbang out of the house, ingredients gathered, butter softening.

The second, and I mean the VERY second I plunge my hands into to shortbread mix, I hear the FUCKING HUGE THUMPY ROLLY SCRATCHY KERPHUFFLE coming from the dining room.

Dripping flour , I race to investigate, only to find:


That, my friends, is a picture of MY CAT STUCK IN A FISH TRAP.

And, while I was dealing with the aftermath of a 6 month old cat rolling around in a fish trap, she got into the kitchen and overturned the cornflour.


Oh, no.. It wasn't me that  SINGLEHANDEDLY (quadropawedly?) RUINED YOUR PAGAN ATHEIST HELLDEMON GODLESS SHORTBREAD despite the trail of paw marks.

And yet, there's more. Whilst cleaning up THAT little mess, she's gone and got herself caught up in the bags containing the Crimbo decorations.. the ones she hasn't touched for weeks and, in attempt to get out, has clawedshreded the Crimbo crackers and broken one of a pair of candle sticks.

She is currently sitting atop Kevin The Snake's tank, flipping me the bird, acting all "I'm totes just cleaning my paws" and smirking at the sound of Kevin striking the glass as she lazily flicks her tail at him.

I am an atheist with a pet snake and I have a fundiefreak jesusfish cat as a pet.

It's 10.46am, I am drinking bourbon and sobbing, so let me leave you with a picture of a cat in a fish trap.



Monday, 2 December 2013

Crimbo 2013

Fuck, it's December.

After last year's great Suet Melt Down In Andersons, I have decided to be vastly more organised. The menu is planned, and the ingredients are being bought as I see them.

We're having a Progressive Crimbo this year, starting off at our place, Casa Della Gecko. I'm planning a bagel bar; with salmon, creme fraiche, capers, bacon, eggs, tomatoes; bread and butter pudding, and bircher muesli.

Except Imma going to flavour the yoghurt with Christmas spices and chocolate.

This is no ordinary yoghurt. No hippie/macrobiotic/profuckingbiotic shit. THIS yoghurt is made with full cream milk, Hell, EXTRA cream milk, with extra cream. And fat. And lark's vomit. CREAM of larks vomit. It's going to harden your arteries simply by existing, bitches. It laughs at 'thick and creamy". It snubs its nose at Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota YIT902. It pwns that shit. 

And then, Imma going to add chocolate. And fruits soaked for a month in scotch.

THIS is going to be the Ermahgard V Nyan Cat V Chuck Norris of yoghurts.

This yoghurt is its own fucking meme, man.

My yoghurt will be an analogy for Tony Abbott, it will be so thick.





 thick and rich.

Okay, I could do better, but I'm on my 3rd bourbon and dry and I can't be fagged, ok? I'll take submissions, if you can improve it. 

Anyway, Imma making my own yoghurt and flavouring the FUCK out of it.. and then I'm adding muesli. 

I realise that for some people, the idea of adding muesli doesn't up the orsum.

It does, believe me. My museli will be like a step towards tastevarna for the yoghurt. 

And if you don't like, there is always bacon, my friend.

Anyway, that's the plan. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them here,  and I'll discuss. 

Oh, and breakfast Bloody Mary's with fresh oysters, but that's another post. 

Now, all I have to do is get over the 6th without a complete meltdown, and I'll be fine.




Sunday, 10 November 2013

Morobe Show

It's Show season in PNG. Every major city hosts an annual show, wherein all the local industries and culture of the region are, well.. showcased.

I missed the Goroka Show this year, with its mud men and Highlands attractions, but there's always next year.



The Kare Bras Ban, and their drum leader.

The finalists of Morobe Show Queen pose in traditional costume with the members of the Demonites (?) Motorcross.

Runner up in Morobe Show Queen, with Bird of Paradise headdress, bone necklace and lime pot.


A traditionally dressed Spirit or Skeleton man, casually wanders by.

Back view. Check out the tail.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Orchids.

One of my obsessions up here are the thousands of variants of orchids. I began my first orchid wall, back in 2009. I have no idea what became of it after we left for Saudi.

In 2011, I began another orchid wall in 4th Street, and transplanted the whole damn thing when we moved to where we are now.

The ongoing fight betwixt myself and my garden boy (read: psycho plant-hating hose beast) is well documented. He pulled out most of my orchids within a few weeks, including my rare and much loved vanilla vines.

So, imagine my joy today, when I returned from work to find my mari had harvested these for me:






IRL, they have a much more teal cast to them. Some are decidedly blue/turquoise. They're like nothing I've ever seen. They're glorious and they made my day!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Tufi

It's been a while but boy, has it been worth it! So much happening but one thing deserves a post of its own.

Tufi Dive Resort.

As part of The Lae Explorers Club ("A group of drinkers with a travel problem"), we get to see some of the most amazing and remote parts of PNG.

Enter Tufi. Tufi is in Oro Province, and only accessible by boat or plane.

It's about as a remote part of the planet as you can find. It's also the heart of PNG's fjord country.

Are you scratching your head? Fjords in PNG?

Yup. And plenty of NZ'ers on the trip said that the fjords of Tufi are just as spectacular (yet less ice-covered) than those in NZ.

The closest I've ever come to a fjord is to pine for them, a la Norwegian Blue styles, so my gob was rightly smacked by some of the most spectacular scenery I've EVER been privileged to see.

We stayed at Tufi Dive resort, and apart from a bit of disingenuous-ness on their web site, I can't fault them.  The service was amazing. From the 7 course degustation dinner, complete with Barossa Valley wines (introduced and matched by the winery owner), to the village visit on a dug-out canoe, the hotel, their staff and Oro Province excelled themselves.

It's a pain in the arse to get there. Tufi is only 45 mins flying from where we live, yet we had to cross the country, to catch a flight out of Moresby. But once you're there, it's worth every damn second of that 5 hour wait at Jackson's Airport.

Tufi has some of the best diving in the world, with waters and visibility that can only be described in "travel-brochure" terms. Pristine, unspoilt, magnificent all come to mind. The resort organised a spectacular walk to a waterfall flowing from a volcanic lava tube, a BBQ on a deserted beach and a village visit whereby you sail up one of the magnificent fjords, transfer to a dugout canoe, travel up a river as timeless as the Amazon, and meet proud, funny locals who are chuffed to show you their culture. (And where, on a personal note, yours truly managed to walk into said remote jungle and come away with a hat, matching handbag AND a new tattoo. **cue astonished applause**).

Travel in PNG isn't cheap. We pretty much have to go everywhere by air, but Tufi is a must-see on any intrepid traveller's list.




Thursday, 9 May 2013

You can't make this shit up (Part Deux)

Part One here.

Once again I tell you that Lae isn't for the faint-hearted. For those of you that get my weekly email, and roll your eyes wondering if I exaggerate (yes, prostitutes do ply their trade in my driveway some nights), here's more photographic evidence that you can't make up.

On today's drive to work I saw this:





Oddest day ever.

I taught my first class in Tok today.

It was about table manners and eating correctly.

It went something like this:

"Wen Aunties kissim yu lo kai, yu mas no be humbug. Yu mas kai kai isi isi. You mas passim mous. Yu noken putim ol sandwich lo maus bilong yu, yu mas takim liklik tasol. Kai, em plenty gat lo us olgeta. Yu mas no kaikai laik em pik!"

My life is getting stranger by the minute.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Unexpected beauty

I'm doing a favour for a friend at the moment. I'm looking after her business while she's on holidays. Her business is running a school. So 28 years after I vowed NEVER to enter a school room again, I'm back.

My 'job' consists mainly of sitting on a  stool telling 3-4 year olds to 'listen' and 'sit up straight'. All those lectures on Piagetian theory of language aquisition are STILL not being put to any use, but it's ok. I am actually quite enjoying myself.

The staff are wonderful. They think I'm quite mad. With my dreads and weird clothes. Personally I don't think there's anything wrong with teaching the alphabet by dancing to "YMCA, while wearing a Bristol Anarchist's T-shirt and silver sparkly flip-flops, but that's just me.

And the "Macarena" is a great way to sneakily get some kineseology happening for some of the 'slower' kids.

The staff, the "aunties" are some of the most devoted teachers I've ever met. They are wonderful, generous women who care deeply for the kids. And one of the lovely things they do for each other is bring in fruits and flowers from their gardens to share.

And yesterday one of them bought in this:



It's called a Black Orchid, but I am reliably informed it's actually a lilly. Either way, it's the most spectacular flower I've ever seen. It looks blacker in real life... Matt flat black. And it's HUGE, the flower is as big as my hand, and the feeler thingies take the whole thing to the size of a dinner plate.

Apparently they grow like weeds in Aunty Susan's garden.

So yes, I'm getting some cuttings and I too am going to have these gorgeous things in my garden.


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Girly talk

Ok blokes, bugger off for a minute and let the ladies have a quiet word.

Let's talk about boils.

Yep, you read that right.

boils.

Not just big pimples, blind ones, but boils as big as plums.

In your lady garden.

Or, as in my current case, under my arm pit.

There a fact of life up here. Learn to wear cotton knickers and ditch the cute lacy G's. G's just rub the wrong spots and make matters worse.

You can also forget about trimming up the garden, unless of course you can spen the next 24 hours with the garden airing in an airconditioned room, cos razor rash is the leading cause of boils in yer nethers.

At the first sign of a boil, get thee onto some antibiotics. Augmentin Forte is available here over the counter. Ase industrial strength pain killers. Get some of those, you're going to need them.

Now, you can just sit around and let the drugs do their magic, or you can help them along a bit. I prefer the beer bottle method.

Take a stubbie of SP beer and drink it. While Husbang is preparing the rest of the show, skoll a bottle of vodka. Get Husbang to fill empty beer bottle with boiling water. Empty out water and then immedietly place the mouth of the stubbie over the 'eye' of the boil. Physics and vacuum pressure will do the rest.Try not to pass out.

Don't think about it too much, ok. Just trust me on this.

Other options are letting some local Doctor with grubby fingernails and a clear lack of sterilizing equipment at it. Or even one of your haus staff.. all of which have 'proven' remedies for dealing with boils the village way. I once saw this done, and it involved going into the garden, and getting a seed plant from some random grass, and JABBING said seed pod into the middle of a suppurating tropical ulcer and pulling out the 'core'. But unless you're prepared to show your flowa boi or your haus mari your personal pink parts, this is to be used only as a last resort.

And here's the thing. We all talk about it. About our labial boils, our gastro symptoms, our under-boob ulcers. Because, unlike home, these things are pretty much a fact of life up here.

Here's a snippet from a conversation I overheard last week between two VERY chi-chi pooh-pooh executive wives up here:

"No, she didn't come to the meeting, because she's got another boil"
"Really? Another? Didn't she have one on her butt crack last week?"
"Yep, that's why she didn't come. Can't sit down, poor thing."
"And she's just got over that nasty explosive gastro, too?"
"Yes, I had that, too. It was horrible, Couldn't leave the house for three days. Didn't dare"

Again, I say unto thee. Lae. NOT for the faint-hearted.

Beautiful Madang

Worth every kidney-jarring pot hole on the six hour trip.










All the above photos were taken at Jais Aben resort. Stop what you're doing and go there now! The staff are amazing and, more importantly, the food was outstanding. Without a doubt, the BEST restaurant food I've ever eaten in PNG. The twice-cooked pork was amazing! We kayaked, snorkled on the reef, (which, as you can see from the photos comes right up to the edge of the shoer so you don't have to swim miles out to see the most amazing sea creatures... a good thing when you've got a slightly shark-phobic Husbang), ate, drank, snapped and snogged for three days all inclusive for less than $1400 USD!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Goroka

One of the awesome things about living here in PNG is the amazing opportunities for travel. We spent Easter at Goroka, the gateway to the Highlands, and one of the loveliest towns in PNG. The weather is delightful, the scenery to get there spectacular and Goroka town, while as dirty and dusty as all others in PNG, is usually quite safe for walking around.

I remember my Grade 6 teacher, Mr Boxall, showing us Super 8 movies of the Goroka Mud Men, from his Army days up here, and I have been fascinated with them ever since.  Here's a pictorial of our Easter.












Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Malaria

Ok, it's been a while betwixt posts, but it's been a busy month. A flying less-than-a-week visit back home for son's 21st birthday, topped off by my first real bout of malaria.

Malaria. Add it to the list of diseases you DON'T want to get.

In no particular order of importance, let me describe the symptoms.

The muscle aches. Think of the flu. Not just that last bad head cold where you told everyone it was the 'flu, I mean the REAL flu. Where every single muscle in your body aches like it's been beaten with sticks. From bending your fingers, to rolling over in bed, every movement of every muscle is agony.

The add cramps. Specifically cramps in your toes that feel like I imagine gout would feel. And they roam randomly, these cramps. Sometimes it's your hips, or your upper arm, or your neck or your ankles, but at least a dozen times a day, you will be struck by debilitating, roving body cramps.

Separate to these cramps are the bone pains. Usually in your shoulders and pelvis.

And the random sensations of ants crawling all over you.

Then they're the rigors, dripping sweats one minute and shivering chills the next.

And the headache that makes a Trade Winds hangover look like a stroll down the primrose path.

Then there's the weird almost-fainting sensation that occurs every time you try and stand upright.

And of course, NOTHING helps a good headache like the drive heaves associated with the rolling nausea, or the constipation caused by mainlining codeine...

And the sheer mind-numbing exhaustion of all the above means you barely leave your bedroom. 

And this delightful litany of symptoms goes on 24/7 for about 5 days.

And then there's the added bonus of the rashes that break out on your body from the sweats, and the dry cough from living in airconditioning both day and night.

It's taken me about 20 minutes to type this, and I'm spent.

Back up to bed for me.

Catch y'all soonish.


Friday, 1 March 2013

Witch Burnings in PNG

There's been a lot said over the recent witch burnings. Here in PNG, it's mostly along the lines of "Oh, the big nasty overseas press is being a bully" and the disingenuous "PNG is REALLY pretty and nice, WHY must we talk about this nastiness?" and even quite a bit of "Give that poor woman in the photos back her dignity by Photoshopping out her breasts".

I even saw a Letter to the Editor justifying witchcraft/saguma mama burnings because 'socery is real"

Bottom line.

Violence against women in PNG is a pandemic, with a UN report stating 100% of women in some Highlands Provinces will experience rape and violence.

Forums such as PNGians Against Domestic Violence struggle to get more than 50 signatures on petitions, such is the level of apathy towards violence against women.

Here in Lae, if I was to report a woman being beaten, I would be told to butt out it's a 'marriage issue".

Take the case of Joy Wartovo. Basically, she endured six years of hell at the hands of her husband, a policeman in PNG. At the time of writing this, Simon Bernard is still at large.

Why? Because Police don't have a photo of him to positively identify him.

He's an active, working, employed POLICEMAN, yet the police can't identify him to arrest him.

Welcome to PNG.

Here's a very awesome article on the recent witch burnings.

“They’re going to cook the sanguma mama!” It was a shout going up from a posse of children on February 6, 2013, as people in PNG’s western highlands provincial capital of Mount Hagen gathered.  Then hundreds of  bystanders watched while Kepari Leniata, the 20-year-old mother of a young baby, was accused of sanguma (witchcraft), then stripped naked by several assailants,  bound, tortured with a hot iron rod that fused her genitals, doused in gasoline, and set alight on a pile of car tires. Spectators stood by as she writhed, screamed, and burned. Some took photographs with their mobile phones. 
However, I disagree with the author that it's 'bestial", No other animal on Earth would do this to another of its kind.

This passage, however, gets to the seminal heart of the issue:

Horrified citizens in PNG are now finally demanding repeal of the 1971 sorcery act, which criminalized sorcery (thus dignifying the superstition with recognition) and also criminalized vigilantism.  It aimed to acknowledge the tradition’s presence while providing a mechanism to have an accused sorcerer dealt with by the courts.  But the act provided legal refuge for vigilantes to argue sorcery as a mitigating factor, and, when rarely prosecuted—to get off with light sentences or none.  Meanwhile, development agencies are reluctant to touch the issue, because tradition and religion are taboos for donor agencies.  So cultural relativism lives while women are burned to death.    


It's the hoary old "cultural practises" chestnut again.

It's also cultural practise to hack off a child's clitoris and vulva and sew the resultant wound up with thorns in some countries, yet we speak about against that.

In Cameroon, we're speaking out against the cultural practise of breast ironing.

There is outrage over rapes in India, the erosion of Women's rights in the US.

But here in PNG VERY few are speaking  out against the act. Instead, the craven press are justifying it as real within a cultural norm, or whinging about being bullied.

Women like myself who speak out, or the very lovely and vocal journalist Susan Merrell, are accused of not understanding (because we're white) or even worse, accused of being witches ourselves.

Susan said recently on FB:

I cooperated in an initiative whereby I posted a photograph of me saying "I am Kepari Leniata" the woman that was tortured then burned to death whilst still alive.
Well I lied, I'm not.
Kepari Leniata was my sister - she was powerless - and I am ashamed that I couldn't protect her because I have resources.
And it will be Kepari's sisters from both near and far, that will avenge her death and put a stop to more disgusting savagery happening to women. (well done Sarah R H-Todd, Esther Igo et al).
And it won't be easy. It sickens me that in the midst of this controversy, in a public forum a [NAME WITHELD] should threaten me thus (after suggesting I'm a witch):
"She is welcomed to live in PNG. But be careful! The polarized heat of torture, hate and enmity against witchcrafts is intense and she can fall victim."
When will certain men in PNG learn that they cannot control women with violence? Well...not can't but WON'T!
Be on notice, [NAME WITHELD] I AM NOT KEPARI LENIATA - try it, punk - I have muscle power that goes way beyond your imagination.
Enough is surely enough. I'm sick and tired of latent and blatant threats and this must go tenfold for the women of PNG. Be warned. Aarlie Olson Hull has already advised that the international women's community are about to show PNG just how powerful women are.


Please, I urge you to share this issue and give it the viral exposure that the pack rape in India got. Join the "Remembering Keripari Leniata" Campaign on FB.Blog about it, talk about it. March about it. Placard about it. But whatever you do, don't ignore it and whine about how us expats don't understand. I don't need any cultural understanding to know that what was done to Kepari and the thousnads of other women who have been killed in the name of superstition is just WRONG.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Creepy Crawlies (part deux)

The Husbang is an Ophidiophobic. He has a pathological fear of snakes. Many years ago we took the kids to a snake farm. They got to pet Imelda, the 10ft long diamond python. I got to supervise the activity while The Husbang sat foetally in the farthest corner, rocking back and fro.

So meet our new pet. 

His name is Kevin.









Kev is a 4ft long green tree python.

Now, if Kev had just mosey'd on in one day and set up residence in the bathroom, I'd be a bit taken back. Not freaked out, but taken aback. 

However, Kev did NOT just wander in, The Husbang purchased him. Bought him off some street kids who had caught him and were going to eat him. 

If that's wasn't enough to make my head explode, The Husbang purchased Kev, put him in the car, drove him home and then physically placed him in the bathroom. 

My Ophidiophobic Husbang handled a snake. 

That's like me going out and buying a bird eating spider and wearing it as a hat, my friend.

So far removed from anything that's likely to happen, as to be absurd.

But no, Kev has now been relocated from the bathroom, to his own special tank in the loungeroom, where The Husbang talks to him and croons and cuddles him. 

I've searched high and low for the alien probe entry site, but haven't found it yet.  



Meet The Husbang and his python.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Creepy Crawlies.

Let's start outright by promising you there will be no spider pics, ok? In fact, one of the few genus of creepy crawlies I've rarely seen up here are spiders. I get the odd web in corners of the room, and I've seen, maybe, 3 tiny wee jumping spiders in my years in Lae, but never anything bigger.

Which is good, because the rest of the creepies they grow up here are HUGE.

Creepies are a fact of life up here. If you don't like them, get over it or don't move here.

Let's start small and move up from there, shall we?

Sugar ants. They're probably actually some other kind of ant, but that's what they're called up here. They're tiny. See-through pinkish and about the size of a speck of dust. And they get into EVERYTHING. Sugar bowls with tight-fitting lids, flour in Tupperware containers, they even get into the laundry where they will feast on.. umm.. err... the "exudate" on dirty knickers and socks. They appear, en masse, as soon as you leave anything on the bench.

You cannot get rid of them. Learn to live with them and sift your sugar/flour carefully.

Weevils. Weevils love four and pasta. They're bigger and more solid in colour than sugar ants, so they're easier to spot and sift. In our house, they particularly love lasagna sheets. When you open a new packet of pasta, smell it. If it smells strongly of dust mould, it's weevil infested. You can be all noobie about it and throw it out, or you can sift and search. Lasagna sheets infected by weevils looks like it has black/brown spots in the sheets. Throw them out.

Cockroaches. They're big, and crawlie and scuttly and nasty ands you can't get rid of them. You can spray with a surface spray every couple of weeks, and have the delightful experience of finding up to 20 of them dead or dying on your kitchen floor every morning, or you can ignore it and live in cockroach denial. We choose the former. If you leave ANYTHING with food on it out overnight, you can be sure that it will be covered in cockroach poo the next morning. They also love the warm moisture of the dishwasher, so run it when you can empty it straight away, or if you leave it too long after it's finished, you'll open it to a nasty scuttly sound and find roach poo all over your clean dishes.

They also love airconditioning units, and it's not uncommon to turn on your aircon and have a couple fly out. It's disgusting.  You can buy and place roach traps, and that helps, but they also kill the geckos.

Geckos are cute and gorgeous. They have different calls for mating and fighting and scaring away other crawlies. They eat lots of other creepies. Unfortunately there are not enough geckos in PNG to keep any house free of cockroaches ands the like. They've got attitude and can be 'trained', in that they will overcome their fear of you and eat out of your hand.

This is Gary Coleman, the smallest of our house geckos, back in 2009.





They also poo everywhere. You can tell gecko poo from mouse poo because they're the same size, but gecko poo has a white spot on one tip. Geckos love muesli. And take my word for it, it's awful hard to sort mouse-sized, white-tipped poo out of a container of organic muesli. Either store it in an airtight container (and ignore the sugar ants) or don't think too hard about it. Let me tell you that pouring your morning muesli into a bowl and having a terrified gecko LEAP out of the box and land between your boobs is NOT a good way to start your day.

Mouses and Ratses. Are everywhere. Get traps and harden up. 

Centipedes. We get two particular types up here. Yellow and black striped ones, and red and black striped ones. Both types are disgusting. If the dogs pick them up in their mouths, they exude a acid-like substance that will blister the dogs tongue and skin. It will even remove the fur on either side of their mouths, leaving them in pain and looking like Foo Man Choo. I had a friend up here, whose young son put one in his mouth and it blistered the skin like a burn. 

Did you notice that "either side of their mouths"? Yup, these HUGE bastards are big enough to hang over either side of the snout of a German Shepherd. I've seen them up to 8 inches in length. 


Those tyres are from our Patrol 4WD. Those pavers are about 4x8 inches. When you squish these millipedes, they exude a smell like rotting meat. They live anywhere there is grass, and like to come into the house after rain. They also like dog food, so make sure you empty your dogs bowls of any leftovers. They also like to curl up in plug holes of sinks and baths.

We also have the most wondrous, amazing butterflies and moths. In any hue  you can imagine. Electric blue, vivid yellow with sliver spots, green so bright it hurts your eyes. However, as beautiful as these things are you will still scream like a girl and do the fuka-fuka getthatdamnthingawayfromme dance when they fly into your face in the middle of the night, or as you come down the stairs. I've been trying to photograph one to share, but the little buggers are too quick. Here's one I found on the television the other week, at 5am in the morning.


That's a 24inch flatscreen.

So, in answer to all of the emails I get about creepy crawlies in Lae, there you are. They grow 'em big in these here parts.