Mijts Blog

Queen Mary II comes to Rabaul

by on Mar.12, 2012, under Uncategorized

Couple of photos of the QM 2 that arrived in Rabaul Harbour this morning.

This photo taken from down at the harbour.

And this photo taken from the lookout near the Volcano Observatory.

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A Village Visit!

by on Feb.02, 2012, under Uncategorized

We took Stephanie and the children out to the village on Sunday – and a few wantoks in the back!
Stephanie has built a house in the village – quite an achievement given their low income. All the wood frame was cut from the bush with a chainsaw and then ‘milled’ with a chainsaw too – they often do this with the end result nearly as good as sawmilled timber. We donated roofing iron and she saved very hard and long for the other materials. How impressive is this?

The stairs are very steep and the house wobbles quite a bit as they can’t yet afford bracing!

The verandah is a first for this village

(the hut back right is where Stephanie’s mother and father live – and most village houses are like that.)

Last time we visited I measured windows as I wanted to make curtains for her. The Spotlight sale in January when I was home had some great bargains so I have been filling in time sewing. I took the curtains on this visit for final hem measurements and they are now all done!

The children ‘posed’ in each of their bedrooms – they have 3 bedrooms and a living area. Cooking will be in a shelter out the back on a fire and bathing will occur in the sea or when it rains. There is no power available.

Toshi’s room

Kayline’s room

The living room

Stephanie is saving as much as she can to purchase bracing, wall lining, paint, lino etc to finish the house off. She is thinking ahead to when we leave as she may then have no job. This is quite rare (thinking ahead, planning for future) and just another indicator of her untapped potential. She is quite the entrepreneur. She sells ice-blocks, ice etc in her spare time (at the front gate and at the nearby beach where all the boats come in) and saves every little bit!

After we measured curtains we drove to the end of the road (stopping on the way to deliver food to all her relatives – she never visits empty-handed). The road was rough and it had been raining. Every pot-hole was a lake! All the village kids who had piled into the back of the ute were laughing and having a good time. On the way we picked up a young lady carrying a tiny baby. She was walking home from church. We had passed her about an hour earlier before we stopped at the village and she still had quite a way to walk!
At the end of the road there is a new bridge across the Worongai river. It has been finished a while but is not in use as waiting for politician to open it!

The shelter has been constructed for the official guests

This is where the workers are living

The kids all took off across the bridge (no fear even for the little ones – as it was quite a drop down!)

Before piling into the back of the ute, the kids happily posed for a group photo

Back up the muddy, wet road we went. Collected a few more passengers on the way, dropped off some – and as usual didn’t come home empty -handed!

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A New Bilum

by on Jan.19, 2012, under Uncategorized

If you have read earlier posts, you will know that I already have quite a collection of baskets and bilums! However, when I discovered my young golf caddy liked to make bilums, I just had to have one more!!
Last week, after golf on Wednesday I took him to one of the Trade stores to buy the wool (less than $9 AUD!!!). ON Friday at golf he brought along what he had done to show me. Only had my cheap little local phone with me – but snapped a photo anyway!

No tools needed – he just makes it by twisting wool around fingers! He does a great job – very neat and even work!

Of course all the caddies wanted to be in a photo then!

We use Picasa to organise our photos. Whilst we were home at Christmas Nick uploaded the latest version – I was playing with some of the new functions and just loved this pencil sketch version of the above photo.

I printed it on A4 card and took it along to golf yesterday – and he just loved it!

I will upload a photo of the finished bilum – probably next week!

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Back to the 60’s!

by on Dec.21, 2011, under Uncategorized

A few weeks ago the Ralum (Kokopo) Golf Club had it’s 50th birthday. Having been founded in 1961, the theme for the night was ‘the 60’s. We decided to go to the dinner/dance with some friends. I vowed and declared I wasn’t ‘dressing up’ but when the other couples talked about buying wigs, finding suitable outfits at the second-hand clothing outlets etc, I thought on the morning of the event I’d better do something!

I made a couple of Peace signs for us to wear – just silver painted cardboard from my craft supplies. We went to a trade store and bought a couple of dog-chains, some plastic flowers and some dazzle (Bleach)! In the pharmacy section I found on the sunglasses stand some John Lennon type glasses in very 60’s colours – they were less than 4 Kina each ($1.60!!) and actually being sold for real!

I took a tee-shirt from Nick’s cupboard and with a ball of string and the bleach transformed it to a 6o’s look! I have a shirt that I wear regularly that seemed just right for those bright 60’s colours. Also in the craft cupboard was some ribbon with flowers on it (which became a headband for me) and a scrap of curtain material (to tie around Nick’s head!). Found a great sign on the internet and printed it off and stuck it to a ruler.

And this is how we looked!

Not everyone dressed up but those who did looked great!

The ‘handbag’ is a can cooler bag!

I was most surprised to be named best-dressed (60’s style!) lady! I think the glasses were the deciding factor! The bottle of red didn’t last long!

One of my Rotary friends, Jelta, was named best dressed male. Check out those flare inserts!

Then we had to dance together – so in true 60’s style I tried to teach young Jelta how to do the Twist!!

All in all a vey good night – great 60’s music!

And a few of us even fronted up for a 7.30am tee off the next morning!

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Pish for lunch!

by on Nov.17, 2011, under Uncategorized

Where else could you do this? Playing golf and observed the many little outrigger boats fishing just off the course shoreline – beautiful calm seas! This is the setting – although taken some time ago and no boats on that day (also volcano not puffing at the moment!).

Got back to the Clubhouse only to have those same fishermen arrive to sell their VERY fresh catch!
I bought this string of fish (or ‘pish’ in local languauge!) for just 15 Kina (about $6 AUD).A friend snapped this photo with her phone!

Walked home with fish hanging from handle of golf buggy – quite funny really – what a pity I didn’t have my camera!!

Gave my ‘catch’ to Haus Meri, Stephanie, and she cooked them up for their lunch.

Kayline loves her ‘pish’!

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I’ll Miss These Little Ones!

by on Aug.09, 2011, under Uncategorized

The first couple of years we were in PNG I filled in time by doing some volunteer work in a couple of schools – some Year 10 English and making cards at a Primary School. This year I decided to do something a bit different. I set up ‘Maria’s School’ – more like an avenue for some basic learning for some little ones who live in our neighbourhood! I started back in April with the two little ones who live downstairs and two who lived next door – aged from 2 – 4 years old.
(The 2 year old has since turned 3!!).

I brought paints, playdough, crayons etc back from Australia. Nick bought me a folding table and chairs for our spare bedroom and our ‘classes’ began – three mornings a week.

Within days my group had grown!! Three little ones from Stephanie’s village even came in on the truck (an hour’s trip) to be part of the group. I now had 7 children up to 6 years old!

Another desk and chairs were added!

I decided we had to do more than paint and playdough. We sing action songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider, The Wheels on the Bus and many more. The alphabet is sung each day. We have done many sounds/letters following the Jolly Phonics Program – and they love those little action rhymes too!

They are writing their letters, doing basic number up to 10, learning colours – and all in English!!

They just love craft activities – using glue, scissors etc for the first time.

Every day we finish by going downstairs, throwing and catching and kicking a ball and running, hopping, skipping, flying like a plane, hopping like a frog etc. They have even learned to skip with a rope – they love all the physical activity!

I have no blackboard or pinboard but just use blutac to put things on the wall.

The little ones from next door have moved to Port Moresby, another little boy has joined the group – and so we continue to do our thing! I have NEVER seen little children so keen to learn! I just love working with them.

Some of them had never even done colouring-in and they have improved rapidly!

If one of them misses a day or two, then they always want to stay longer the next time and catch up on their work.

They LOVE craft. When we did ‘n’ for nest they made a mobile – and of course a kite when we did ‘k’

But the all time favourite – theirs and mine! – was the car they made! (we currently have 4 boys and 2 girls) – the girls loved it too!

Nick and I are off to Australia on Friday for leave – I will be away for 8 weeks – and I sure am going to miss these little ones! How could anyone resist these big brown eyes?

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Tavurvur is alive and well!!

by on Aug.08, 2011, under Uncategorized

It has been ages since we posted here – just busy with our everyday lives in PNG!!
Our nearby volcano has been very quiet for over a year – often referred to as ‘volcano dead now’!. Well she certainly came alive again this week – a few big bangs and plenty of ash coming out – although intermittently. On Saturday we walked across the road to the golf course to take some photos of the current activity.

We have been having quite a few gurias (earthquakes ) lately too. Woke 3am Sunday to a big bang followed by much shaking and creaking of the house. Eventually flew out of bed – but then it stopped! It was a 5.1 centred about 84km away. We get a bit blase about them as they occur so regularly but every now and then a stronger and longer one makes you start to think you should leave the house – but then they usually stop!

As you can tell by the golf course we have also been having a lot of rain lately – making up for what was a dry ‘wet season’.

I played golf on Sunday – in my first monthly medal event. It was very wet and muddy BUT (with the help of my high handicap!) I won the ladies monthly medal – a frying pan and an engraved pewter wine goblet – very chuffed!! (Although I refused to chug the beer that came with the goblet -had to use a friend to do that for me!)

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San Francisco trip

by on Apr.02, 2011, under Uncategorized

Recently we visited San Francisco for 3 weeks – our fourth trip to this city. This time we stayed at a Marriott Residence Inn at San Mateo – just a 10 minute drive to Ben and Sarah’s place at San Carlos and a 5 minute drive to the Bart (train) station to go to the city. Because we have been to San Francisco four times now, we didn’t take too many photos – but we did re-visit several of our favourite spots!

We got to spend plenty of time with Ben and Sarah (and their dog, Koji – very cute!) and Sarah’s parents, Donna and Garry also visited from Washington for a few days and it was great to see them again too.

Apart from many restaurant visits – breakfast, lunches and dinners – we also got to do a couple of things we hadn’t done on previous trips. The weather was pleasantly cool – not too cold and fine most days. Whilst Sarah’s parents were there, we went on a hike in the nearby Santa Cruz mountains (where Ben does a lot of his cycling) – I think Koji enjoyed this outing the most!

In this photo – Donna, Sarah and Maria at the end of the hike – no doubt Koji and ‘the boys’ are ahead of us!

Sarah also organised for all of us to go on a Whale Watching Cruise. After an interesting talk by a naturalist – explaining the amazing migration habits of the whales – we set off from Half Moon Bay – with much anticipation and excitement. We went out to sea for about an hour and a half to where the whales had been regularly spotted for the past few weeks! Alas! none were spotted on this trip – apparently only the second time this had happened in the 20 trips taken this season.

However, as well as hundreds of crab-pot markers, some seals and plenty of birds, we did see these cute sea-lions.

On our return to Half Moon Bay, Sarah and Garry shopped for some Dungeness Crabs (straight from the fisherman) and that night Garry (a chef) cooked us an amazing meal featuring the crabs.

We re-visited Sausalito, a beautiful little tourist spot just across the Golden Gate Bridge. We went across on the ferry – with Donna, Garry and Sarah (Ben was working!) and browsed the many galleries, tourist shops and even the Saltwater Taffy (a candy store). This was a great day out in a little ‘town’ with a unique charm and character and included yet another amazing lunch – looking out over the Bay – at the restaurant on the left in the bottom photo.

On previous trips, we have visited the Haight/Ashbury District twice, walked Lombard St a couple of times, been up Coit Tower etc. No matter how many times we have done some things before – we always seem to want to visit again those favourite spots! Of course we hit the shops many times – Maceys had a fantastic sale with up to 70% off some things. I particularly love the couple of handbags I bought!

We love Monterey – so spent a day there – just the two of us. We spotted this sea-lion at Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf – basking in the sun on someone’s boat!

We had lunch at our favourite Monterey restaurant – Fish Hoppers – amazing food and perfect views! And yet another ‘silly’ photo taken by holding the camera out in front (our height difference is a challenge!)

It is never a trip to San Francisco unless we go into the city, ride a trolley car down to Fisherman’s Wharf and wander around for a while – enjoying the boats, the view of Alcatraz etc – and this time the tulips were in bloom!

Nick enjoyed chatting to a Gull!

and, of course, there were sea-lions at Pier 39 – followed by lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Something else we ALWAYS do is visit the Golden Gate Park area.

Last time we were in San Francisco, we walked a little way onto the Bridge but it was very windy and I had quite a sore knee. This time we managed to walk right across the bridge and back again!

On our last day we had a few hours to fill in (our plane didn’t leave until nearly midnight and we were all packed and ready) so we returned to Coyote Recreation Area in San Mateo – just a short distance from where we were staying. We had been there previously with Ben and Sarah. This time we visited the Museum for Environmental education which included a one acre Wildlife Habitat, walk-through aviaries and Environments and Gardens. Many of the animals such as the Bobcat, Coyote etc were indoors (as winter was just ending). However, we did see lots of bird-life, some turtles (in an interesting line-up – see photo!)

and the river otters were very entertaining!

We had a wonderful holiday, ate far too much, of course, but we DID do lots of walking!

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Volcano Walk

by on Feb.13, 2011, under Uncategorized

With Maria in Brisbane and I’ll be joining her later this week thought was time to put up one last post before I go on holidays. Few weeks ago I joined some others in walking up the local volcano – Tavurvur. Ref http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tavurvur

Its been dormant for the last 15 months and seems to only emit sulphur fumes. Few of us set off around 6 in the morning to beat the heat.

Setting Out

On the way up walked past some sulphur pools with steam and boiling water bubbling up.

Sulphur Pool

It was a very lunar like landscape.

Heading towards the volcano

And another photo on the way.

More sulphur pools

Here you can see the path up the volcano that we are taking.

Path up the volcano

But must admit it was too much for me, I just had to sit and rest.


But one day I’ll give it another go.

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It’s beginning to look a LITTLE bit like Christmas!

by on Dec.23, 2010, under Uncategorized

Our first Christmas in Kokopo this year! Last year we went home to Australia for Christmas. Christmas is celebrated locally but for most locals this means being with family, going to Church, PERHAPS a special meal. There are a few decorations in the shops but no decorated houses like we see in Australia. The Trade Stores are a bit busier. Speaking to some of my National friends, I discovered that most of the PNG National children get no gifts, but sometimes the Priest at Church gives the children lollies – yet they love to celebrate the season in their own way.
We have gifts for our little family downstairs so decided we’d get a few decorations to create some more Christmas feeling for them. All we could get was a banner and some tinsel. We gave it to Stephanie, Chris and their children and this is what resulted.

Chris even had a drawing on paper for the tree design and they decorated our stairwell!

In the house I have had this little tree I made – counting down to Christmas.

It’s a wooden tree from Kaisercraft, covered in Scrapbook paper etc.

Along with the delicious smell of the 10 boiled fruit cakes I made this week (to give Nick’s staff and a couple of neighbours), these few decorations and the excitement of the children:
It’s Beginning to look a LITTLE bit like Christmas!!

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