Good-bye Shrek

I have some really sad news. On Saturday, 21 January 2011 at 6pm, our cute, crazy, funny and sweet parrot Shrek passed away. It came totally out of left-field. On Friday, he was fine, screeching and flying around the island, but he didn’t come home that night. That’s a bit unusual, normally he is in “his” tree at the back of the kitchen at around 6pm. But, he has stayed out before, so we thought he is probably catching up with one of his girlfriends, it being Friday night and all.

Saturday morning comes and goes, still no sign or noise of Shrek, and we are starting to get worried. At 3pm, the girls found him in “his” tree, apparently asleep. Nozaki got him down and realised straight away that something was wrong. She wrapped him in a towel, which he normally hates, but didn’t have the strength to complain about this time. That was not a good sign!! At 5pm, he started wheezing, at 6pm he was dead. I think he might have picked up a parasite from one of the wild animals that live on the island.

We still can't get believe that he is gone. Every time I walk between the office and the kitchen, I wait for him to screech, do his wolf whistle or say "Hey Shrekkie!!". He was a unique little fella...

As our friend Hutch wrote on our Facebook page, "Flying higher than ever before Shrek, you may be gone but not forgotten!"

New family member

The last time we had a decent rain (I mean more than 15 drops) is at least 4 1/2 months ago. We've had a few showers since then, but they were all usually just enough to save us having to hand-water the veggie garden. All of New Ireland is suffering from the draught, but at Lissenung, we are lucky that we have a desalinator, a machine that turns saltwater into drinkable water. We ran out of rainwater over 3 months ago, so without the desal, we would have been forced to drink beer and wine all day. Hmmmmm, maybe we are not so lucky after all .....

On 29 December, Peni found a small cuscus, a marsupial belonging to the possum family. We have three adult cuscus on the island, so to find a baby was no surprise. Only a few days earlier, Ruthie had found a dead one, and the one that Peni brought in looked a lot like the less fortunate one. We gave the little creature some water and she drank and drank and drank. We wondered whether the other one had died from dehydration or lack of food due to the draught. Peni's new friend was still a baby, she couldn't climb properly yet and had a really hard time holding on to the food we gave her. Apparently, they stay in mum's pouch till they are 7 or 8 months, so mabye mum had kicked them out because she was finding it hard to take care of herself in the dry weather, let alone look after a baby.

Little cuscus on arrival and after a big drink

With no rain in sight, we decided to keep the baby cuscus until we could be sure that she would be able look after herself. We got a cardboard box, made a nice bed with some old towels and that was to be her new home. As they are nocturnal, it would be difficult to keep her in the box at night, but that's how it had to be.

She settled in very quickly and was not really afraid of us humans. In fact, she loved to cuddle, and still does. At feeding time, we sit on the office couch, she with her bum snuggled into my side, wolfing down a huge portion of pawpaw or, as of late, hibiscus leaves and flowers. She also loves apples, but they are a bit hard to come by up here in Kavieng.

That apple is almost as big as the little cuscus!
 Of course we needed to find a name for the little one. At first, my suggestion was to call her Rain, as she had appeared in one of those very rare rain showers. Also, her tinkles are more like rain squalls - pretty full on! Dietmar didn't like it, though, so for a while, she was just "Baby". Then Alex, Monica, Ross & Malcolm visited from Sydney, who are all more or less Italians. Malcolm came up with the name "Giacchetta", which means little jacket in Italian. Since she has such a beautiful fur coat of her own, we thought that would be a very fitting name. Now, Malcolm doesn't even know how to spell Giacchetta, which is I said above they are more or less Italians.

We haven't been able to keep Giacchetta in her box for long, so she now sleeps in one of the office cupboards during the day and roams around the office at night. The other morning I found her sitting on top of the air conditioning. Every night, just before I go to bed, she has a big feed and we have a cuddle together. I have lost count of how many times I have fallen asleep on the office couch, with Giacchetta snuggled up against my belly.
Cute, hey?

Luckily, our hibiscus plants have not
sufferd from the lack of rain!

Happy New Year

I hope everyone had a great festive season, may 2011 be a year filled with fun, love, laughter and health. Oh, and the odd lotto win of a couple of millions....

We've had a great couple of weeks, although we were run off our feet with lots of guests staying with us. Our friend Mike even had to sleep in the office, which he doesn't mind, he loves the air con. Jen & Kim visited us for the third time this year, and as always, they brought stacks and stacks of stuff for the school and our first aid post at Lissenung, also called "Lissenung Haus Sik (hospital, i.e. the house you go to when you are sick). Bandages, bandaids, creams, wound dressings and cleaning swipes and much more will all come in very handy when Nozaki and I play doctors. 
We had a huge Xmas dinner, with a ham, a turkey (my only cooking job all year), mud crabs, lobster, Nozaki's yummy sushi rolls, whole fish and more. Afterwards, we were treated to a singsing by the culture group from Enuk Island. 

On New Year's Eve, it was Pinapple's (her real name is Alison, but everyone calls her Pineapple, or Pine) birthday. After another huge seafood BBQ, the girls brought in a mango birthday cake, decorated with pineapples and we all sang "Happy Birthday". Again, we had the kids from Enuk come over and perform for us, with the final song being another Happy Birthday song for Pine. 

We had a fantastic night and in my 5 years on the island, this was actually the first time we saw the new year in at midnight, instead of 9pm (we call that Kiwi New Year's) because the divers are too tired to stay up! :)

The dancers in action on New Year's Eve

"The band"

Pineaple taking photos of the group as they
sing a birthday song for her.