It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.
Chris Hedges

Monday, July 26, 2004

Me Pals...and Fellow Travellers

I have great pals.  You've met a host but there are so many more.  There is gal Sal.  I met her through a previous relationship and after the relationship blew up, well, Sally and I were neighbours and we had developed a great relationship.  There was an understanding that we would each be there for each other.  Maybe I'm reading too much into it.  But as older singles we wondered what would happen if the other should die.  So we made a pact to cover each other.  I knew what she looked good in, so dressing her wouldn't be a problem.  I would have to take care of her cats...which would be problematic, living in New Zealand and all.  But I would find them good homes.  There was always a gentle hope that we might end up together, but it just wasn't to be.  So we chose to be pals.


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Public Enemy Number 1 Posted by Hello

The Possum Hunter

Dear Fellow Travellers:

New Zealand is a country blessed with a lack of predators. True, you can be gored by a wild boar if you are hunting it and I have heard tales of people getting a tusk in the leg or groin and bleeding to death. But for the most part a walk in the park is just that.

At the turn of the 1900's someone thought it would be a good idea to import possums from Australia to establish a fur trade here. In Australia the possum is a protected species because wild dingos, tasmanian devils, and whatnot love to eat them. But in New Zealand the possum has no enemies and has prospered. There are estimates that there are more than 70 million possums here. They eat the leaves of native trees at a prolific rate and have a very healthy breeding cycle.

When I first got here I would swerve to avoid them on the roads - karma and all that. But when I moved to Pawarenga and looked forward to eating the plums off our tree, my attitude took an abrupt turn. Just off the side of our house is a lovely plum tree. Just as they were getting ready to pick I noticed a troop of possums in it taking a bite out of a piece of fruit, dropping it and moving on to another.

They weren't too concerned about me being there. I grabbed my trusty sand wedge and gave one a solid whack in the guts. It looked at me and took another piece of fruit. I went into Jim's garage next door and grabbed his flounder spear and thrust it into his hide, coming away with a ball of fur on the tine...the possum took another piece of fruit. "Okay," says I, "the gloves are off."

A quick call to Anahera's brother got me his old 22 and after three shots there were three dead possums. By the end of the night I shot another five. For the next couple of weeks I spent an hour after supper clearing the brutes out. The dogs love to eat possums. And they eat all of the possum. They were getting awfully fat.

A few weeks ago, my neighbour, Bobby Proctor, took me up into the Warawara forest to poison possums. He does it for a living and there were dozens of decomposing carcasses around each poison set, but still they keep coming.

Falling back onto my military training, I purchased a pellet gun, a Turkish model that fires a .177 slug at 1200 feet per second. I bought a maglite and taped it to the barrel and last but not least I purchased a scope. The interesting thing about the possum is that it does not have a typical nervous system. When it is hit it carries on eating. Even with a .22 it will not stop eating. You have to hit it in a critical spot to drop it.

I have now gotten to the point where I can hit the damn things in the eye, and yet they stay alive. The best spot seems to be a small area under the chin and above the shoulder.

Last night I grabbed a team of shooters; Bobby, his grandsons Tinny and Hori, and we went out to slaughter as many as we could find. We shot 6. These animals have gotten to the point where they turn their eyes away so the light doesn't give them away.

The slug gun I bought is the most powerful air rifle made and certainly it hammers the possums but lacks the hitting power to drop them. So I am going to research and get me a semi-automatic .223 rifle with a hefty hunting light, perhaps a converted M16. I have to get a gun licence first and that costs $127. so this may take a while. But this is war dammit!

On the hunt.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Ana and me at home Posted by Hello

The Job

Dear Fellow Travellers:

To my mind the earning that one has to do to survive has very little to do with the satisfaction received from the doing.

I began working at a McDonalds when I was fifteen years old. A hamburger cost 20cents as did the fries and a small drink. I earned 90 cents an hour and specialized in toasting the buns...Yes, I was a Bun Man.

McDonalds was fun in that the $80 a fortnight earned went towards those things that drove the interest of a typical 15-year-old, girls. We had terrific after-hours parties during which we poured Southern Comfort down the throats of girls to get them to take their pants off. I only succeeded once.

In truth the girl was semi-unconscious at the time but I took her murmurings to be assent as I struggled to pull her pants down as far as her knees. Unfortunately, she chose that moment to retch all over the both of us. The sound of her retching rallied her girlfriend to enter the room and she backhanded me off the bed.

McDonalds was a good place to work. Since then I have had many jobs: I pumped gas, worked as a shipper/receiver, was a sailor - then a soldier, was an order desk clerk, salesman, marketing assistant. I studied at a Polytechnic and after receiving my degree worked as a switchboard operator. I became a construction laborer, concrete finisher, security guard, education officer, communications manager and campaign manager.

I chucked it all in to become a carpenter. That lasted a couple of years before I worked as a teaching assistant, maintenance manager, stair maker, dock hand, forklift driver, shunt truck driver, dock foreman* (after 30 years of working I was fired for the first time after I grabbed a peer by the throat and threw him over a desk). I worked at two more jobs in the Transport Industry before moving to New Zealand.

I have only been here two years and I started off as a house painter. Then I sprayed gorse, pampas grass and ginger. I taught computer basics and finally have landed a job as Project Co-ordinator for the Te Uri o Tai Resource Centre here in Pawarenga. I actually job-share the position with a lovely girl named Max.

Perhaps everything I have learned takes me to this place, at this time. I'd like to think so anyway. I don't make much money - indeed I have to plow through reams of paper to secure the funding to keep paying myself. But, I can pretty much do what I want to do when I am not putting out the community newspaper, Te Karere. I am part social worker, part teacher, part communications man. I have big plans for this job, but you never know. I have to work and I will have to continue to work for the next 20 years or so.

Through all these jobs I figure I earned close to a Million dollars. I have about $50 dollars in my chequing account and $4.97 in my savings account. So what does working mean in the end?