Saturday, June 30, 2012

How we say goodbye

In PNG when the time comes to say goodbye to a good friend it is often done with a show of food.  The traditional way that food is cooked is in a mumu pit.  What is a mumu pit?  A mumu pit is shallow hole dug in the ground where they layer fire wood and then pile it with large stones.  A fire is lit and the stones are brought to a “cooking” temperature.  When the fire wood has burned down and the stones are nice and hot, a layer of green banana leaves is laid down and then the food is piled on.  They start with kaukau (sweet potaotos), taro, cooking bananas, and pumpkin, then add the meat.  For our mumu we had chicken pieces, lamb flaps (fatty rib sections of lamb), some other piece of lamb I was told was a chop (but I know it wasn’t what I know as a chop…) and red sausages that you find everywhere in PNG.  Then you pile on the kumu (greens).  Once your food is all piled up then you pour water over it and traditionally you cover it with more banana leaves and let the food steam.  With the meat in the middle all the oils and fats from the meat drip down onto the food below giving the sweet potato a nice flavor.  Instead of banana leaves my guys found some plastic to cover the pile with so they used that instead of banana leaves which works just as well.

So who were we saying goodbye to?  Well you are probably thinking Susan and myself, but actually we had two long-time employees who are leaving from the department where I work.  One of them has been working at the bookkeeper for 31 years and the other was our electrician who has been here 7 years.  The bookkeeper is retiring and will be moving back to his home area in the Sepik and our electrician is going back to school to get training to become an apprentice teacher.  Both of them have been big assets to our department and will be truly missed.

Goodbyes are always hard, but PNG is such a small place that it is common to run into one another again.  So I am sure we will see each other again somewhere along the line.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I've got lists - they're multiplying!

Friday marks 6 weeks until we leave PNG for furlough.  I am the kind of person who likes lists, but lately it seems like my little bulletin board is overflowing!  Besides the typical weekly menu and shopping list, the bulletin board in my kitchen is now home to several other lists of things that need to be taken care of before we go.  Being the fairly organized person that I am, I am trying to get paperwork and things like that done this month, so that I can focus on packing and cleaning as our departure date arrives.  But I’m amazed at how much paperwork is involved in leaving.

At this point I still feel confident that I can get everything done without being super stressed.  Am I fooling myself though?  Our next door neighbors leave on furlough next week, and I got an email from the wife this morning that was sent at 1:00am.  She said she couldn’t sleep because she had too much to think about and do before they go.  Maybe that will be me in another month!

However, today I’ve been able to check off a few items, and so I feel like I have the time to sit down and post a few photos from the week.

Greg is practicing his berry picking for when we get to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house in Oregon.  We have a small black raspberry bush in our backyard, and it has become a morning ritual for Greg to go out and help me pick his morning snack.

Being the helpful wife that I am, I have made a list of manly things for Brian to do.  This past weekend he repaired the stovepipe on our roof that was completely rusted through.  And here are my boys placing a rat trap in the ceiling above the pantry.  Rats and mice thankfully have not been a common problem in our house, but we do occasionally get them.  We’ve heard a bit of scurrying in the ceiling lately, and unfortunately the space above the pantry isn’t accessible through the attic.  Brian had to loosen a ceiling panel to place the trap.  And Greg is offering moral support.

I made these laminated alphabet cards for Greg, since he is so obsessed with the alphabet right now.  He loves them!  He likes to pick out letter cards and match them to letters that he sees in books.  It has actually become rather annoying to try to read to him, because he would rather point out all the letters that he knows (and mom and dad have to repeat after him – that is an essential part apparently) rather than listening to a story. 

And Legos are back in vogue this week, after sitting unnoticed in the corner of Greg’s bedroom for a few weeks as he pursued other interests.  The main activities this week include building tall towers, and giving the “babies” a ride on the “choo-choo” (he has a few child lego figurines that like to ride around on the Lego train.)  As you can see, Brian gamely suffers through these Lego sessions.  What a good dad.