The Coconut Tree Community

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on March 29th, 2010 by MadDog
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For a Monday morning, things went remarkably well. I took the battery and fuel tank out to Faded Glory so the the guys from the marina could come to tow her in. Reversing the battery cables on Saturday morning was a very bad idea. I was worried all weekend that I’d blown the voltage regulator on the engine. That would probably set me back a thousand Kina or so. As it turned out, I had only fried a couple of fuses on the engine. Thank heaven for fuses! I’ll be considerably more observant in the future when hooking up my battery. If we didn’t have so many thieves around, I wouldn’t have to lug it out of the house to the boat and then back to the house every time I go to sea.

Wandering around in my garden the other day, I gave my coconut trees a thorough inspection. It’s amazing the things you find on really ancient coconut trees. I don’t know how old these are. My guess is about fifty years. They are still producing coconuts despite being old and only a metre from the ocean. Look at the circus of colour here:

Not being an expert, I can only guess that the colourful organisms here are lichens. As I remember, lichens are a symbiotic conglomeration of fungi and either an algae or a cyanobacteria. So, a lichen is neither beast nor foul, so to speak, but some crazy combination of radically different organisms that somehow help each other, indeed, can’t live without each other. Funny, that. I think that I just described my marriage.

Where someone took a big chunk out of the side of the tree there is now a beautiful little cave:At the base of the tree, just above the roots, lives another type of lichen. This one looks as if it would be tasty to reindeer. It’s sort of snowy:You can’t find a tree near where people walk here in PNG that is not scarred. Everybody carries a bush knife and nobody can resist giving a passing tree a whack. Don’t ask me why. It’s probably inexplicable. My coconuts are scarred from generations of whacking by passers-by:The poor tree seems to be bleeding orange blood.

Sometime in the distant past, someone had need for a nail in the tree. It may have been me. Any such memory has long past:

The nail is as rusty as my memories and the ever growing hole around it is not so different from the empty space in my skull left as my brain slowly shrinks to the size of a peach. Call me peach brain. I like that. It’s not at all offensive.

A few metres away is the drain that carries water under our driveway from our crab hole infested front lawn to the sea. Down at the bottom of the cement catchment basin that I poured many years ago there is a little jungle growing:It is furiously producing oxygen. Good little jungle; keep it up. We need all the help we can get.

And that, as they say, is that.

Or, as we say here, em tasol.

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Crashing Servers – Passing Clouds

Posted in Mixed Nuts on February 19th, 2009 by MadDog
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Our main server crashed horribly last Friday. Tsk, tsk, what a shame. Don’t pity me. It’s been sitting in the corner feeling neglected for a long time. It’s been subjected to countless installs and uninstalls of programs. It started out life as Windows 2000, got upgraded to W2000 Server, then Windows 2003 Server all without so much as a whimper. Now its boot disk is showing symptoms of severe senility. A CHKDSK took an entire night. I didn’t expect to see it on line this morning, but there it is – bravely carrying on carrying on.

I’m demoting it to herding the telephones and serving the printers for a few more days while I put the finishing touches on a pair of back-to-back Windows 2008 servers. Then I’m going to retire it and give it an honourable burial without even dismembering it. Long faithful service deserves honour. I wish our financial backers had the same attitude. But, that’s another story.

All that technical junk bores me these days. It’s just a drudge. I’m going to forget about it for a few minutes and enjoy showing you some images.

This morning we had some new Bird of Paradise blooms next to our orchid draped Flame Tree. Aren’t they pretty:

Bird of Paradise Flower
As I looked up to see if there were any orchid flowers, I noticed some interesting lichens growing on the tree:
Lichens growing on a Flame Tree
You can also see the snaky tendrils of the orchids attempting to strangle the tree. I don’t know if they could be properly called roots. They don’t go clear to the ground. Most orchids are epiphytes – they grow attached to another plant, but do not gain nourishment from it directly.

On the way to the office the Finisterre Mountains were calling to my camera. I stopped for a minute to get this seven-frame panorama shot:

Moody looking Finisterre Mountains
It looks about as moody as I feel today. I have more Finisterre Mountain panoramas here and here.

These clouds will also pass.

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In My Garden #5 – Orange Coconut Trees?

Posted in My Garden on March 22nd, 2008 by MadDog
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I recently saw a PowerPoint slide show presented by Maureen Hill. She had some very fine photos of her trek to Antarctica and South America with Val Jerram. It was a comedy of penguin and blubbery seals on an icy stage. Maureen’s sense of humor was at the boiling point.

I was, however, distracted when she displayed huge boulders that looked as if they had been nearby when Jackson Pollock suffered a conniption fit while carrying a large bucket of bright orange paint.

A sudden and unanticipated wiring alteration in my brain caused small sparks to fly out of my ears, startling the nice ladies on either side of me. The colour splashed on the boulders seemed to be suspiciously similar to the weird orange splotches so common on the flanks of our very own coconut trees! Hey, what’s going on here? Antarctica – Papua New Guinea. Hot – Cold. Rock – Tree. What’s the connection?

Having, of course, taken a picture of a coconut tree in My Garden (memory like mine? – few other choices), I arranged to have lunch with my well-informed friend Mr. Google. He cleared things up for me . . . to a point.

I don’t have Maureen’s photo, so you’ll have to use your imagination. Here’s my snap of the mysterious orange stuff on my coconut tree:

Orange lichen on my coconut tree.

As it turns out, there is a family (actually a genus, but let’s not get picky) of lichens called Xanthoria that are remarkably orange. I’ve always been intrigued by lichens. Hey, we don’t have, let’s say, dogs and chickens plotting, “Let’s mash together and make a whole new thing!” So what’s the deal with fungi and algae?

Anyway, I couldn’t find a definitive page that said, “Yeah, the coconut bilas in Madang is the same as the Pollock paintings in Antarctica”, but my suspicion is aroused that such is the case.

Curiosity now temporarily satiated, I’m musing over the serendipitous fact that if we were invaded by a herd of ravenous reindeer, we would be able to point them to our coconut trees for a good feed.

I also found out that the light green stuff that looks like dried cabbage is yet another kind of lichen. Enough, already

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