A Little Nature Walk at Nob Nob

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Two steps forward, one back. Repeat. Life has somehow developed this annoying pattern. I think it started when I was born. By the way, exactly why was I born? Anybody? Anybody at all? What, no ideas? Well, me neither, but since I’m still here taking up space, I may as well keep on keeping on and see if anything interesting pops up.

Despite my depressed self esteem to the contrary, I still seem to be useful. That’s something of which I need to remind myself nearly daily. Hey, I go to work (nearly) every day, (occasionally) on time, and I (usually) stay until I feel like there’s nothing more I can start on or have a reasonable chance to finish. I get (most) things done (eventually). (Nearly) all of the computer gear works and (mostly) the operation is (a little) more reliable and controllable than it was two (or several) years ago. I (pretty much) do what I am told to do, (more or less) without grumbling, and I (try to) take on as much as I feel that I can without (completely) botching up the work. The feeling of still being (somewhat) useful is something I need very much. All in all, I’d give myself average marks for utility.

I’m more than a little surprised by how many things I have accomplished without having a clue as to what I was doing. The list is tedious, but full of tasks which had to be taken on. I have had a lot of help and good advice along the way. I seem to be checking items off faster than the list is growing, so that gives me some sense of progress. The stunning thing about this whole process is how I managed to get through so many things without creating yet more chaos by way of my abysmal ignorance. I can count a few minor miracles among the lot and more than a few near disasters. It’s a mixed bag.

I’ll give you an example of dumb thinking – I thought about it and I took the dumb choice. I recently sold Eunie’s 1973 Spitfire 1500 to my cousin. God bless her and her husband for relieving me of it. One crucial operation was to get the title to the car in her hands so that they can get licence plates for it. How the title to a car in Indiana ended up in Madang is another story.

Anyway, I prepared all of the necessary paperwork to facilitate the transaction, including some tricky stuff because we don’t have anything called a Notary Public (a term which I have never understood). Instead, we have what is called a Commissioner for Oaths. This person is charged with confirming your identity when you sign a document – just what I needed. But, guess what? The place where the Notary Public signs and stamps the document looks nothing like the place where a Commissioner for Oaths performs the same function.

So, this required a few hours of scanning things into the computer, fiddling with the format and fervently praying that the officials at the licence branch would cut me some slack. They can be notoriously picky or wonderfully compassionate, depending on the weather.

After doctoring the documents, I placed everything in a brown envelope and scratched my head. I could choose to send it by DHL at an exorbitant cost, about US$50. It doesn’t pay to use the fastest (one day) service, because it’s going to take a couple of weeks anyway. So, I had a choice. Blow fifty bucks on DHL or trust the PNG Postal Service to get it there by Registered Air Mail at one tenth the cost. What do you think I did? Right, my Frugal Plan kicked in and I hustled over to the post office holding my fingers crossed.

BIG MISTAKE! My cousin waited and waited and waited. I got more and more frantic, something which I have been practising and getting very good at. After a futile attempt to trace the package, my cousin told me that the only information available was that it was “awaiting dispatch” from Port Moresby. That wasn’t helpful at all. Inquiries by me at the post office on this end at first drew a blank also. I was told quite bluntly that I couldn’t even begin a trace until at least one month had passed.

Well, as it turns out, the item does not appear to be lost, but now is finally on its way to Indiana. What happened? A bomb! Well, not exactly a bomb, but the mention of a bomb. It appears that somebody somewhere got all excited about a real or imagined (not clear which) bomb which may or may not have been sent or not sent through the postal service either to some place in North America or Germany or possibly Australia. Really that’s more information than we normally expect to extract from the postal authorities. All of the mail to North America, and who knows where else, was held hostage at the Port Moresby post office and not released until the second day of December, just in time to be hopelessly retarded by the Christmas clogging. We counted this as good news, which gives you a general idea of our normal expectations of life in Paradise. I may possibly have learned a lesson. When frugality conflicts with wisdom, give wisdom a break or at least a nod.

Today the sale of the house in Brownsburg is supposed to close. That will be a significant milestone for me. Do you think I’m sitting on pins and needles? Yeah, you’re right.

And, so it goes.

I see that I’ve digressed severely from the nature walk. In fact, I haven’t even started. So, on with the show.

This is some kind of bug on a hibiscus blossom. Yeah, I know it’s not a true bug. I guess it is katydid; I don’t know which and I can’t say that it’s very important to me. I’m a fish guy. How do they manage, being so spindly?

I couldn’t tell if it was eating the naughty bits of the flower or if something else ravaged them.

This is an interesting plant which is native to the hot places in the Americas. Somebody dragged a few of them here and planted them. We call it diwai pen  in Tok Pisin.  The translation is the “paint plant”. Here is a blossom and some of the fruit:

For those who care, the taxonomic name it Bixa orellana.

The name “paint plant” derives from the reddish-orange goop that is found inside the fruit. I was going to get a picture of it, but these did not seem to have any:

The substance is used to decorate bodies for celebrations. These things are very difficult to photograph. Digital cameras seem to have problems capturing detail in “all the same colour” areas. I had to fiddle with this image quite a bit to make it usable. It is red, red, red.

Shooting a praying mantis is an easy task. They don’t generally move very fast. It’s common to find them in the shrubbery, but this one has perched itself on an iron post. That made me happy enough, because it simplified my job. Just in case you’re feeling geeky I’ll mention that I used a very small aperture for this shot so that I could get the maximum depth of field. I wanted the structure of the roof on the other side of the post to be discernible:

It is a magnificent beast.

This shot is better:

That’s creepy enough for me.

This is a non-amusing shot of a staghorn fern. They get quite large. This one was about as big around as a fair sized coffee table. It appears as if someone lopped off a leaf at some point. I don’t know what all that stuff is which looks like lettuce; I’ve not seen that before on a staghorn:

As I said, it is not a very interesting picture.

So, what to do when a picture flops? Turn it into art!

That’s much better. I’ll call it Alien Vegetation.

I’m holding my breath for the closing of the house tomorrow. I may soon be free at last!

I just got an email from my friend Steve telling me that the house will be burned to the ground on the 8th of January by the volunteer fire department. I’m trying to decide how I feel about that. At least it won’t be my  house that’s burning.

This will be my last post for 2010. I will not be sorry to see this year dissolve into history. If hard pressed, I can remember positives, but they are nearly submerged in a sea of grief and loneliness. What 2011 will be like is largely up to me. Many things are beyond my control; I’m not immune to the vagaries of life. However, I can adjust my attitude.

That is one thing which I can  fix. The rest is a box of chocolates.

UPDATE: Reader Jeff Allen passed along the taxonomic name of the fern. It is a bit curious – Platycerium superbum.  Be careful how you pronounce it.

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20 Responses to “A Little Nature Walk at Nob Nob”

  1. Ron Barrons Says:

    That praying mantis is now staring out at me from my desk top. Great shot, great detail. I find it interesting that this insect can be so similar as to what we have here in Canada. Maybe a little research is required. OK then “Mantodea or mantises is an order of insects that contains approximately 2,200 species in nine families”

  2. Manda Troutman Says:

    2011 is the year of the Rabbit. It’s supposed to signify peace and tranquility. It’s a reprieve from 2010, the year of the tiger; a year of bravery, I’m told. Wishing you a year filled with peace and tranquility.

  3. kristy Says:

    I love how the praying mantis eyes look so humanlike with the little pupils. I never knew they could turn them right back to their backside though!!

  4. Steve Bennett Says:

    Great shots MadDog, Bixa orellana was once used to make Margarine that wonderfully yellow colour.

  5. Nancy McDonald Says:

    Happy New Year Uncle Arnie. Hugs to you for a better 2011.

  6. MadDog Says:

    Ron, I’m glad that you got some use from that shot. I’m pretty happy with it. It’s one of my better insect images. I too have noted the great similarity of praying mantises where I have been.

  7. MadDog Says:

    Manda, it is surprising that rabbits would represent peace and tranquillity, but I don’t care. I could certainly use some. The year of the Tiger was not very kind. I wish the rabbit’s virtues for you also.

  8. MadDog Says:

    Kristy, the interesting thing about those little black dots is that they follow you! Any way you look at it or no matter how it turns its head, the black dots appear to point straight at your eyes. In the first shot it might appear that the head is turned around, but it is not. It is facing away, toward the pipe. You are looking at the back of its head and the black dots are looking at you. Amazing, eh?

  9. MadDog Says:

    Dear Nancy, I pray for a better year for all of us.

    Uncle Arnie

  10. Walt Says:

    Happy New Year, MadDog … I know 2010 was a tough one for you. Best wishes for the coming year,

  11. Ali Says:

    Well now, I’m about to tell you off a bit here -on the 1st day of a new year too…..(with love, respect of course.)
    I’d like to take up your invitation to answer the 1st query on this post.
    The way I see it, you were born to find a wonderful wife, have a beautiful son and gorgeous grandchildren and together, accomplish some incredible things for the good of others, over many precious years. (things that most would only read about in adventure books)
    You were born to dedicate a large part of your life to making Eunie’s life a very happy one. To caring and loving and to making her complete…. and you ask us to tell you why you were born huh….? Well, for starters, what on earth would Eunie have done without YOU…you goose!
    Not to mention that you were born to inspire others by sharing that amazing love and dedication for each other, through your stories and photos.
    Whether you know it or not, you teach people, inspire people and open the eyes of others to some pretty incredible stuff ..on a daily basis . You give much to many Jan and make people think outside their own little world ….a unique ability….a few people are lucky to be “BORN” with this gift you know?
    OK lecture over!
    LOVE the praying mantis BTW …your’e a BORN photographer. Mmmmm! (just had to slip that one in)
    You can see where the special FX movie people get their ideas for alien heads from hey?
    May you have one of those peaceful little rabbits in every hat from now on my friend!

  12. kristy Says:

    Excellent post, Ali!!

  13. DogsDontPurr Says:

    Hey there…just wanted to send a virtual hug and wish us all a better New Year! Hug Hug Hug!!! Know that I am thinking about and praying for you. This new year better kick some ass (in a good way) or I’m kicking right back, dammit! ~ Marcie

  14. MadDog Says:

    Walt, some level of happiness is my only goal for 2011. That will be enough for me. I know it will happen. Thanks for encouragement.

  15. MadDog Says:

    Ali, I must admit that I love bossy women, so I take your comment with good humour. My first paragraph was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but generated by depression and no small amount of self-pity.

    I want to thank you for your loving lecture. It was good for me to reflect upon your words. You are, of course, right. Eunie loved being my wife as much as I loved being her husband. I was born to be with her. For that season, there needed to be no other reason. I derived much of my self worth from our relationship and her love for me. She loved me and stayed with me through years of difficulty brought on my character flaws and poor social skills. She made me the person that I was until a few months ago and will be again. How could this love have flourished if I was worthless? Not at all, I think.

    You’re a good friend, Ali. I needed a spanking and you delivered.

  16. MadDog Says:

    DogsDon’tPurr, I love any kind of hugs, even virtual ones. Thank you. Marcie, in 2011 I do, indeed, intend to kick some ass. My own is the primary target. I have a lot of rehabilitation ahead of me. I’m going to need some of my own tough love. My wife took some very raw material and crafted a reasonably nice guy for herself. I’m not going to put all that effort to waste.

    Thanks for caring.

  17. Ali Says:

    Glad you got my meaning and didnt get too offended at being growled at Mr Mad Dog!
    Any diving this weekend?

  18. Hans Says:

    Wow, they are burning the house down! That might almost be worth the trip to Brownsburg to see happen.

    I’m glad both car and house sold, Dad.

  19. MadDog Says:

    Ali, I think that I would find it impossible to be offended by you. You are quintessentially inoffensive. I had a house guest over the weekend, so I didn’t go out diving. I hope for good weather next Saturday. I did go for a dive last Thursday.

  20. MadDog Says:

    Well, as you know by now, Hans, that may turn out to be wrong information. I’m going to check with Steve Hassfurder about it.

    I am also very glad to be able to leave those worries behind and I’m grateful to Steve for assisting my so much. It would have been a horrible thing for you to have to taken care of those things for me. God was protecting us from that.