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Things up with which I must put.

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1.   A wife whose breakfast-time summaries of TV programs she watched last night take longer than the actual programs.

2.   The only two-legged grandsomething I’m ever going to get from my daughter will most likely be a foul-mouthed kleptomaniac cockatoo or an unbalanced double-amputee wombat which she has adopted from Animal Welfare.

3.   Timmy the new kitten and Kebba our dysfunctional pig dog are shamelessly flouting the laws of nature.

It’s very fortunate that at least one person in this family is devoid of peculiarity. You may consider me to be like an electronic room deodoriser…… spurting out fragrant poofs of wisdom and sensibility ad libitum all over my fiefdom to overpower the foul absurdities which surround me.

It is hard being normal.

Now if you don’t mind I’d like to go now and finish writing my current academic gift to mankind; “Digital procedures for estimating core temperature and determining textural anomalies in fresh cassowary faecal deposits.”

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Type 72 textured cassowary poop

Type 72 textured cassowary poop

KebTim1

KebTim2

KebTim3

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A daughter’s odyssey

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After spending three nights in the chaotic and lawless Papua New Guinea towns of Port Moresby and Lae,  Inga (age 30) will this morning commence a journey with her Mum which will inevitably change her life and perspective of the world forever.

She will step into a rugged little Britten Norman Islander aircraft at the refurbished wartime airstrip at Nadzab, and with propellor blade tips spinning just inches from her ear through the side window, fly over the spectacular mountains of the Huon Peninsula into another peaceful and intriguing world surrounding the tiny landing ‘strip at Pindiu.

She may even use an occasional expletive during the final landing approach (below) and think her life is about to end before it really got started.   (Internet gremlins are interfering with the youtube link so the only way to see this ‘interesting’ aviation exercise is to copy and paste the following URL)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBn4OYUJbpU&list=PLDD7563CA053A8759&index=6

I admire Inga’s courage in leaving behind a comfortable life in Australia to discover the places of  Mrs GOF’s childhood, and I am enormously proud of her for accepting the challenge.
She will suffer from culture shock.  She will be physically exhausted climbing mountains.  She will have little privacy, and have to use communal pit latrines. She will bathe and do laundry in creeks and carry water and firewood for cooking.

The rewards however will far outweigh the privations.  During the next 18 days of walking though the Dedua and Hube areas she will discover an entire extended family who will love her and care about her. She will walk through some extraordinarily beautiful scenery and meet some of the happiest and most hospitable people on Earth.

It is also coincidentally exactly 40 years since I conducted my first  ten-day walking patrol through Dedua villages on these same bush tracks in the role of a rural development officer.

Inga will return to Australia culturally enriched and understanding why those of us who had the privilege of working with PNG village people a very long time ago retain such an enduring affection for them and their country.

The following photographs of the Pindiu-Dedua area were taken by Mrs GOF in 2011.

DeduaTewae

Domestic pig Rebafu village

Afong village with Pindiu airstrip in background

Afong village with Pindiu airstrip in background

Masaweng River tributary

Mongi River suspension bridge

Mongi River suspension bridge

Mongi Valley walking track

Mongi Valley walking track

Pindiu village house

Pindiu village house

Big Mama surveillance

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On the evening of the winter solstice last month, the Annual Conference of Small Creatures was held under the Ancient Wattle situated on top of Sacred Mountain on GOF’s Paradise.

In recent years, delegates had chosen to disrespectfully heap scorn upon the Divine Creator Bubbidge for his creationary ineptitude which left GOF’s Paradise with something the wise oracular dung beetle often referred to as ‘seasonal variation’.  The general consensus was that a far superior model would have included year-round constant temperatures between 20C and 28C, with a ten-minute zephyr of breeze on the hour every hour and a shower of rain each night between ten and eleven to compensate for the daily evaporation.

This year the mood of the gathering was more sombre in light of the rumour that GOF’s Paradise would come to an end in December 2012.

In order to cover all bases, the steering committee had commissioned renowned American artist and sculptor Reverend W. Wood-Pecker to carve an image of Creator Bubbidge into the trunk of the Ancient Wattle.
The life-sized work, precisely two and a half poofteenths high and three-eighths wide was unveiled at the beginning of the conference to the massed flapping of wings and thumping of thoraxes from the gathered devotees.

After the din had died down Conference carried a Motion of No Confidence in the management of GOF’s Paradise, particularly in regard to surveillance. It was noted that in recent times anything which moved, immediately had Mrs GOF’s macro camera lens shoved into it’s face.

The following evidence was tendered to Conference;

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Small spider on a dead gladioli flower

Garden spider hanging out on lemon grass

Blue fly peering at Mrs GOF over a taro leaf

Grasshopper nymph sunbaking on banana leaf

Moulting locust under choko leaves

Native bees harvesting hippeastrum flower nectar

Tiny insect on brachiaria grass flower head

God’s obscenity

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Warning; Please do not proceed if bad language offends.

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Melanesian Tok Pisin is the primary lingua franca used in Papua New Guinea, a country with more than 600 languages.  It is derived mainly from English but also has roots to German, Indonesian and several other tribal languages.

One unintended consequence of the Australian presence in PNG last century was that many Aussie profanities were rapidly incorporated into Tok Pisin, often without the speaker having any understanding at all of the original literal meanings of the words.

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Mrs GOF, in her adult life, has retained many endearing (and occasionally infuriating) carefree youthful behaviours. Some of this innocence came to an abrupt end in April 2000 when her Mum died in the remote PNG village which was her home.

As the eldest daughter in the family, tradition dictated that Mrs GOF was in charge of preparing the body for burial.   I will always be proud of her unflinching acceptance of this extremely confronting and daunting cultural responsibility.

The body had been frozen in the morgue pending the arrival of all family members, so on funeral day Mrs GOF and her siblings cheerfully chatted away to their Mum while she was defrosting, assuring her that she was in good hands and being well cared for.

A Village Pastor, locally trained at the Logaweng Lutheran Seminary, was a family friend and he officiated at the funeral ceremony.  After the various eulogies from family members had been delivered, Pastor Pukot gave a final address which concluded as follows;

(I have translated it from Tok Pisin……all except the final unambiguous directive which is reproduced verbatim.)

A man or woman who has lived a good life on earth, who has been honest, and treated other people well, will be rewarded by God after death. Upon arrival at the golden gates of heaven they will be welcomed by the angels who will have reviewed the life of the deceased and reported to God, who will then pronounce “You have lived a good life. Welcome to Heaven.”

It is however another story for those who have been bad and lived meaningless or dishonest lives. They will arrive at the gates of heaven and the angels will present the unfavourable report to God who will become very angry, point in the opposite direction and, in a loud voice, tell them to “FUCK OFF”.

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The gathered mourners accepted this sermon as being appropriate, dignified and meaningful……all that is except for the two English-speakers present.

Mrs GOF, and her brother (who had traveled from Minnesota) glanced at each other and, despite the solemnity of the occasion, just could not help cracking up with laughter.

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Siwea airstrip, Papua New Guinea

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This story is to jog the memory of all the old PNG pilots who will never forget Siwea.

It is also for all the arriving passengers who, during the final landing approach (when most of the airfield disappeared from view because of a steep uphill landing threshhold) were terrified and thought they were going to die.
Departing passengers too, whilst falling over the edge and dropping down into the Tewae gorge to gain flying speed with the Cessna stall-warning horn blaring, were also tricked into thinking that the future looked rather bleak.

To my knowledge the only person who ever did die in an aviation-related accident at Siwea was a pedestrian who was struck by the propeller of a landing aircraft.

The Siwea ‘strip was constructed circa 1970 by villagers using shovels to dig back into the mountain. It was 1500 feet in length at almost 6000 feet altitude which severely limited the performance of most light aircraft. The ‘runway’ surface was nominally grass but often just mud, and the airstrip provided an outlet for smallholder-grown arabica coffee, strawberries, onions and other fruit and vegetables.

Siwea was, in 2011, no longer an operational airfield.

(Photographs taken by Mrs GOF, 2011)

Siwea airstrip, view from the landing threshhold.

Siwea airstrip, view during landing roll.

Siwea airstrip showing total length in takeoff direction.

Siwea airstrip showing direction of takeoff and the typical weather conditions which made in unusable after 10 am on most days.

A change of heart

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Mrs GOF, just last week;

“GOF, don’t you think it’s about time that you developed some other interest in life and stopped posting pictures of women in various stages of undress in The Bucket?
Why not try acting your age and start taking some nice photographs of nature at work or some inanimate objects instead.”

Right.

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Hark……dost one hear the sweet strains of an angel whispering?

Oh yes, one does.

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“GOF,  IF YOU EVER MISAPPROPRIATE ANY MORE OF MY EXPENSIVE CUTLERY OR KIDNAP AND TERRORIZE MY FAVOURITE FLUFFY TOY AGAIN I SWEAR I’M GOING TO FILL YOUR STUPID BUCKET UP TO THE RIM WITH CASSOWARY POOP AND SHOVE YOUR HEAD SO FAR INTO IT THAT YOU’LL THINK YOU’RE PERMANENTLY STUCK UP THE BIRD’S BACKSIDE !!!.”

“GO AHEAD, POST WHATEVER YOU LIKE YOU AGGRAVATING LITTLE TWERP.”

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OK, thank you dear.

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Raquel Welch

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GOF’s Philosophy for the week;

Marriages are like unstable alpine snowfields.
You need to regularly fire small explosive charges
into them to prevent cataclysmic avalanches.

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GOF in the doghouse. Again.

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Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

Woe is me.

Until 3 months ago Mrs GOF was not interested in the internet.
Then she bought a new-fangled mobile phone primarily to annoy text all her relatives and friends around the world.

In order to finagle a single bar of mobile signal she has to take Nelson the snake-detector dog on a trek up through all the long grass in the paddock, then follow the dirt track another kilometre to the top of a hill.  This she does quite happily twice a day with umbrella, bag of lychees and phone in hand.

And yea, Mrs GOF didst also open the mysterious portal of temptation and walk into the valley of the internets, whereupon the Cyber God verily spake unto her with offers of free cars and cash and handsome young men, and showeth her pictures, and lo, she was very happy.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday Mrs GOF discovered  “The Bucket”.

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Apology, Retraction and correction (# 1 of 47)

I hereby apologise for all the times when I surfaced from my labyrinth of journalistic sewers and posted questionable “Mrs GOF” stories.

I will never again use the word “junk” in the same sentence as “Mrs GOF”.  All future public announcements about her tendency to collect assorted household items will instead include the phrase “Paraphernalia of Life”.

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Admittedly our house IS full of Mrs GOF’s  crap,……. sorry P.o.L., but it is not entirely what it seems to be at first glance.

Firstly, our home is small. Having only sixty square metres of floor space it tends to magnify the extent of her 30-year utensil and paraphernalia collection.

Whenever Mrs GOF travels to visit her brother in Minnesota I restore sufficient floor space to perform my morning gymnastic routine by hiring front-end loaders, dump trucks and squads of blonde cheerleader labourettes to clean out the accumulated surplus kitchenware, photography supplies and handy appliances.

When Inga comes home she also cuts swathes through the clutter of saucepans and “I-might-need-that-one-day” plastic containers to re-establish some bench space to pile up all her rations of TimTam chocolate biscuits, potato crisps and exotic liquor, but within days of Inga’s departure, Mrs GOF has re-populated every horizontal surface with a brand new generation of Chinese manufactured “essential” kitchen gadgets.  “Every one of them has a purpose, GOF.”

We relentlessly tease Mrs GOF about all her stuff, but both Inga and I in our hearts understand why it is so.

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Mrs GOF is not a hoarder with any similarity to those who fueled the ratings on the Oprah Winfrey Show with their afflictions of affluence.

She had a childhood with very few possessions.
Two little skirts and blouses hand-sewn from remnant material by her Mum. A mat to sleep on the split-bamboo floor and a rolled-up family towel to use as a pillow.
That’s all. Nothing else.
No shoes. No toys.  Her ‘doll’ was a scavenged empty beer bottle which she ‘dressed’ in her Dad’s handkerchief.
If she needed a ball to play with she either carved it out of the pith found inside tree-fern trunks, or had one made from a pig’s bladder.

Her Dad, employed on a remote Papua New Guinea Government Patrol Post, was paid the grand total of $1.50c per fortnight and provided with rations of rice, tinned fish, and margarine to supplement fresh food grown in the family subsistence garden.

Her Mum owned a frying pan, a small enamel billy-can and one very large saucepan which she suspended over an open hearth fire to cook for an immediate family of 15 as well as numerous extended-family members who often dropped in at meal times.

It is not wise to suggest to Mrs GOF that she grew up in poverty.
She will remind you that she never ever went hungry and that she was always surrounded by the love and support of family, and great cultural richness.  Poverty, she says, is something altogether different.

So we understand why Mrs GOF now owns at least twenty five saucepans and cooking pots, along with enough crockery and cutlery to serve a five-course meal for an entourage of the International Olympic Committee complete with mistresses, corruption advisors and bribery collectors.

We know why she is reluctant to part with anything even though she rarely has to cater for more than four people, because Mrs GOF knows that one day, thirty itinerant relatives might just turn up unannounced for dinner just like they did when she was a kid.

If they do she will be prepared.

Additionally Mrs GOF always has our cupboards crammed full of tinned and preserved food and all the other provisions necessary to sustain us for at least 2 months in the event of something preventing us from making our weekly pilgrimage into the nearest town.

Once again, she is prepared.

Mrs GOF’s clutter is NOT about hoarding.

It is all about Preparedness.

If I am still around when our Western World’s consumerism limousine inevitably collides head-on with the semi-trailer of fiscal and environmental reality I suspect that I will be thankful to have Mrs GOF’s grass-roots life experience on my side.

And that, my friends, is the truth.

(apart from the paragraph about squads of cheerleaders….there was only ever ONE squad.)

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With more good behaviour like this I should be allowed out on a short leash by the end of January.

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