Blow Your Friends Away with Some Cool Art and Help Spread Elephant Awareness While You’re At It!

Jodi Kabu pic

Kabu – an elephant with intestinal fortitude!!!

I have just had the pleasure of Jodi Thomas ‘s wonderfully kind and fun hospitality over the last couple of days at the elephant park where she has lived and contributed greatly to the well-being of rescued elephants for around 15 years, situated in the jungle Chiang Mai, North Thailand.

Jodi is a painter, mixed media artist and tattooist, and supports both herself and her son through these mediums. Above is a photo of a print that I have just bought from her. As I’m still traveling for a little while yet, it is still in its plastic and won’t be mounted until I get back home to New Zealand in a few weeks. But it’s just so beautiful that I have hung it up on my guesthouse room as I can’t wait until I get home to be able to gaze at it.

Jodi painted this picture of Kabu, who has a very damaged front leg. But Kabu refuses to be pitied and manages life just fine, thank you very much. This picture is a loving tribute to Kabu’s resilient spirit and downright gutsy attitude.

Here is Kabu’s story:

“Kabu was born around 1990. She arrived to ENP very late on September 22nd 2015. Her mother was a logging elephant. She had to go with her mom while she pushed and pulled logs. At two years old, a log rolled out of control and struck Kabu, breaking her front left wrist. It healed badly and left her very handicapped. Despite this, when she was old enough, she was also put to work in logging doing light labour. She was also subjected to forced breeding. Kabu had two babies, neither of which she was allowed to keep for very long. One was a bull, who died soon after his spirit was broken. The other a female who was sold into the elephant show industry.

Since Kabu had to over use her right front leg to carry her weight, it has also grown very deformed. To gaze upon her, fills you with pity… until you see her move. She gets along quite well. She has lived with this handicap for her entire life. She has dignity. She does not let her injury hold her back… She does not feel sorry for herself. Do not feel sorry for her. She is a survivor!”

Please visit Jodi’s Zazzle page to see some of the products you can buy, printed with Jodi’s awesome and vibrant art, many of which feature elephants Jodi has known, lived with and cared for. Please aid Jodi to not only create a wage to live on but also an awareness of elephants and their plight at the hands of humans and their cruelty and greed.

Grab yourself an awesome piece of art and help spread awareness of both domestic and wild elephants who need all the help they can get. And you can also help Jodi and the elephants by sharing this post far and wide to spread some good loving awareness around. Humans are responsible for the misery that the majority of elephants suffer today, and that way too many have in the past – let’s rip into reversing that situation.

Visit Jodi’s site here:

Jodi’s Zazzle Page

Thank you for caring. Every little bit we do will help add up to positive change.

Better Jodi's Kabu pic

This version of the Kabu picture shows up the colours better.

Jodi Foot Ele Foot

Jodi’s foot beside an elephant’s footprint.

 

Welcome to New Zealand – Please Don’t Kill Us!!!

Mount Ngauruhoe, Central Plateau, North Island, New Zealand. Ngauruhoe erupted 45 times in the 20th century, most recently in 1977. Now you can see why 'Lord of the Rings' was made in New Zealand... :)

Mount Ngauruhoe, Central Plateau, North Island, New Zealand. Ngauruhoe erupted 45 times in the 20th century, most recently in 1977. Now you can see why ‘Lord of the Rings’ was made in New Zealand… 🙂

We’re used to seeing ‘road snails’ travelling in our country, and although we’re really pleased to see travellers coming here, it’s common for us locals to heave a sigh when we pull up behind a ‘movan’ on the road. We know our country is beautiful, but you have to know that while you’re bumbling along trying to manoeuvre our twisty, hilly roads and look out the window at our gaspworthy scenery at the same time, it’s very possible we’re stuck behind you, envisioning various scenarios IN WHICH WE STRANGLE YOU and toss you over one of our exquisitely scenic hillsides. You see, you might be on holiday, but we’re trying to get to work, to the hospital, return our late dvds to the video store, or any other number of crucial scenarios that occur in everyday life.

New Zealand roads don’t have a lot of passing lanes, you see. So until they invent cars that have helicopter rotors attached to them, we often have to wait for many slow and laborious minutes before we can pass you and get on with our missions. And if you times that by three or four camper vans per trip, then perhaps you can begin to comprehend our strangling fantasies. It’s nothing personal, you understand, we just want you to MOVE OVER!!

What sparked this post off is that I’m subscribed to a fabulous blog whose author does hilarious cartoons to illustrate her stories, and in one of her recent posts she describes a trip she and some friends took to New Zealand, a post I’m sure travellers to New Zealand will find quite useful. You can read it here:

Renting a campervan in New Zealand: Tips and tricks to avoiding utter chaos

Upon perusing this highly entertaining post, I realised that this gave me an opportunity to pass on what Kiwis want tourists to know when they come over here. Please don’t kill us!! This was my message on her post:

 “Kia ora Vy.

Well done for choosing the South Island to go to. All us kiwis ask tourists when we see them – ‘Are you going to the South Island? You HAVE to see the South Island while you’re here, it’s the best of New Zealand scenery!!’

I’m really sorry you got a lemon camper van – this is a good thing to know, so we can advise others ourselves.

A word to tourists heading our way – there is quite a big fuss being made in New Zealand at the moment about tourist drivers. Several have caused accidents lately that have killed New Zealanders, and we’re not very happy about that. Many kiwis are calling for a special driving test for overseas tourists before they can drive on our roads. Because they ARE very twisty and narrow a lot of the time, not what drivers from countries with straight roads and many lanes are used to. There are two things us locals want you to know:

PULL OVER!! If you have three or more cars behind you when you’re driving, pull over as soon as you can do so safely. You may be on holiday, but we’re probably trying to get to work. Not pulling over can cause people to get frustrated and do dangerous overtaking manoeuvres to get where they’re trying to go. Potential accident!

If you’re tired, DON’T DRIVE!! Tiredness can lead to you pulling out into wrong lanes in confusion. Potential accident!

We love having tourists here because we’re very proud of our country and want you to see it. But please don’t come over here and kill us. Thank you, and happy holidaying.

Regards, New Zealand locals. :D”

So that pretty much encapsulates what I’m trying to say here. There are only four million or so of us Kiwis, and it’s pretty sad to think of tourists coming over here to view our gorgeous scenery and bumping off us locals at the same time. So if you’re thinking of coming our way, please try to keep these things in mind – we’d really appreciate it.

Thanks and Welcome to New Zealand. 😀

PS: If you want to learn more about our country, here’s another post of mine that will give you a bit of info. Contains photos of gorgeous scenery. Please pull over before reading…

Beautiful New Zealand – My Middle Earth and a Habitat for Hobbits

One of locals in the midst of a strangulation fantasy...

One of locals in the midst of a strangulation fantasy…

 

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Beautiful New Zealand – My Middle Earth and a Habitat for Hobbits

I realised a little while ago that I tend to rave on about places in Asia that I’ve been to – especially Elephant Nature Park – but not really raved very much about the beautiful little country of my birth. So here’s a little rant about my place – Aotearoa, ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’. Also know as Godzone by the denizens of the land, or Middle Earth to the world, since Peter Jackson used the exquisite scenery here as the background for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. We may not have elephants here, but we do have hobbits. Yessss, we doesss.

The North Island of New Zealand (Middle Earth) with directions on where to find stuff.

The North Island of New Zealand (Middle Earth) with directions on where to find stuff.

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Elephants in the Street and How I Suck as a Westerner and a Tourist

I am guilty. And I was ignorant. I didn’t know.

This baby is so hungry she tried to latch onto a passing elephant she didn't know to suckle. Photo by Lek Chailert

This baby is so hungry she tried to latch onto a passing elephant she didn’t know to suckle.
Photo by Lek Chailert

I went to India four times before I saw my first real live elephant. At about 2 o’clock in the morning, in Pahar Ganj, a place bustling with people and traffic and street dogs and rubbish. I was so thrilled to finally see one that I didn’t stop to think that the poor thing was probably stressed out by the noise and traffic, and also probably just hanging out to get off the hard tarmac and go to bed. Continue reading

Covid Quarantine Kiwi Day 10

What day is it?
Yep, you know it. Another sunny day, another round with the paint brush.
Whiteboard Day 10
This Hawaiian shirt is never going to be the same.
Deb tapeface
The final touch. I learned a while ago to cut around the edge of the tape before pulling it off. What happens is the tape and the paint have relationships and get married while you’re not looking, then when you pull the tape off, all hell can break loose and your paint AND tape come off together. I ain’t falling for that one again.
Cut tape
Finally! Brown doors. With a wee bit of tweaking required, but it’ll do for today.
Brown doors 2
I was so relieved to finally finish that job!
Brown doors 1
And then I turned around and saw this. Oh good grief! It never ends!!!
More door to paint
This got painted too. My wee hobbit seat. The name of of this shade of paint is Jealous. Are you?
Painted hobbit seat
Touched up the swingseat too. It sort of resembles a piano that fell into a candy factory conveyor belt.
Touched up swingseat
Yep, another round of scrubbing. Your handy hint for today: use a pumice stone. With soap. Otherwise all your skin will come off and your blood will fall out. You’re welcome.
Painted hand
Meanwhile, Smudge Friday is out munting the rubber mats. She thinks they were created to sharpen her talons on. Not a single one of them has escaped this vicious and unprovoked punishment.
Smudge munting mats
Yeah, butter wouldn’t melt.
Smudge green eyes
What am I supposed to do when faced with this? She’s the only cat I’ve ever known that asks for a tummy rub and doesn’t turn into a deadly hand-shredding machine after 1.25 minutes.
Smudge on deck
I had a wander around to experience doing nothing useful for a little while, and found the brick forms I’ve been stashing in one of the sheds.
1 brick form
I reckon they’ll make great shelves. And if Armageddon comes, I can make my own hobbit house.
2 brick forms
I counted up the jellyfish I made recently, which are waiting for the verandah roof to go on before they can be hung in all their glory.
Jellyfish 2
There are actually 9, but one needs fixing and is a bit embarrassed.
Jellyfish 1
Oh look – a random self-planted flower being all purdy and, um, quarantined?
Random flower
What day is it? It’s Ciderday!!!!! Time for a bit of this…
Ciderday
And a bit of this.
Uke and banjolele
Oh hello beautiful. Or, Kia ora Marama. It’s going to be another beautiful night. It’s the perfect view for the end of a busy day. Cheers y’all.
Moonrise with bamboo

Covid Quarantine Kiwi Day 9

You’ll never guess what I did today…

Woke up, beautiful day. There’s something about sunshine that triggers my inner painter, like I’m a painting zombie or something. Tried. To. Resist.

Whiteboard day 9

Nope, didn’t work. I don’t even like painting that much. I just like the results. It’s very rare that you can get something out of the cupboard, or whatever, and just slap paint on, isn’t it? Never works like that, does it? “Won’t take long” she says. “Just a quick sand” she says. I HATE sanding. But I hate it even more when my careful paintjob falls off, so I gritted my teeth (painful pun, I know) and got on with it. Screech screech screech screech. Urrggghhhh. Kill me now.

Table of stuff

The third most hated job – masking off. I just want to put the paint on already!! The second most hated job being scraping the paint off places it shouldn’t be because you couldn’t be bothered with masking tape. “I’ll just paint really carefully.” And the Universe laughs… Evil.

Masking tape on door

So here we go, doors duly sanded, wiped and masked off. I’m such a good little hobbit.

Both doors before painting
This bucket of Surprise Me with the Colour paint is brought to you by the pile of paint buckets in the corner at the Recycle Centre. Today’s colour is Crushed Blackberries Thrown into a Very Surprised Bowl of Chocolate. Fourth hated job: mixing dark coloured paint until it behaves itself and is even in colour. Which never happens. I just give up after about 10 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back, and start slapping it on. Too bad.
Bucket of paint
Hours later, and I finally have ONE SIDE of the doors painted. And due to the fact that I, as per usual, started to get a bit slap-happy at around the third coat, you will not be viewing any close-ups of my work today. I don’t wanna talk about it.
Doors after painting
It does look rather snappy from afar though, right?
One door after painting
I did do something besides painting today though. I measured Smudge Friday. She’s this long.
Smudge this long
I also did some dirtless gardening. No weeding, no dirt under the fingernails. That’s the story.
Bean sprouts
And finally, the ubiquitous “Look what I made for dinner” shot. ‘Cos it’s purdy. And yummy. And all gone now. Before its passing, it was a bowl of leftover jeera rice stir-fried with cabbage and some other stuff, at the risk of sounding vague. Who cares? It was food and I ate it. Goodnight.
Dinner

Covid Quarantine Kiwi Day 8

An ambush of avians and a hobbit does battle with hardware.

No bagpiper this morning. Nor has Smudge Friday been using the portal. I think she’s onto me being onto her.

Whiteboard day 8

She did, however, lay a cunning ambush for the fig-foraging avians. This is the view out my bedroom window (pardon the blur). To the left is the fig tree and in the bottom right-hand corner, if you squint a bit, is the wee hairy trapper in action. I think they’re supposed to fly into her mouth or something. Not sure if any of the birds actually got the memo. Here’s something that keeps us amused – she hasn’t clicked onto the fact we have a driveway alarm, and every time she wanders up the driveway, she sets it off. Then we go out and call her back. She ends up walking back, looking all befuddled about how we know what she’s up to. Rinse and repeat. Bwahahaha.

Smudge in ambush

Today’s mission was to install all the hardware I’ve had sitting around. Being a hobbit, I’m never quite tall enough to reach comfortably with my screwdriver. Then when I stand on something, I’m too tall and have to do it with a crick in my neck. Dear Universe: just another four inches of leg would have been nice. And while we’re on the subject, what’s with putting the tall people in front of me every time I go to the movies?? Yeah, real funny.

Hardware 1
Portrait of a rather nicely placed piece of hardware. It may mean nothing to you, but when I want to hook my door back to stop it slamming in the wind, I don’t have to manoeuvre large blocks of wood around to do the trick any more. It’s in the small things.
Hardware 2

The operating theatre, with the assistant having smoko in the background.

Surgery table

Oh, and I also put contact film on the glass doors to help strengthen the glass a little bit. Don’t judge, it was my first time. What a bluddy performance! It’s like playing with flypaper! Of course, I ran out of the very expensive contact film way before I could complete the job. But at $20 a roll, I need to apply for a loan before I can finish the job, then wait until Lockdown is over to go and throw that money at some more rolls. The quarantine conundrum. Both sets of French doors have old, thinner glass in them, so I’m trying to come up with ways to make them a bit safer with what I have around me. The perfect opportunity for some Kiwi ingenuity. I’ll think of something.

Broken glass door

The thing with a lot of the hardware is, there’s a rolling door between the two sheds. So when the door is closed, the French doors hook onto one place, then when it’s open, they hook onto a different place. This is my punishment for using scrounged up joinery to put in the sheds, and getting doors that all interfere with each other. However, there is now a system in place and all is right with the world.

Equipment

Being able to roll the door back makes for a nice little secret garden area out behind the sheds. It just adds that je ne sais quoi pas to the whole setup, don’tcha think?

Outside door open

Ze doors closed and ze wind blocked, along with ze mess I was making today.

Oustide door closed

After that, because my life is that riveting, I peeled stickers off the back of the door and here’s a picture of it. Yes, I can hear you quivering with excitement about it all. These doors used to be in a school. Can you tell?

Scraping with fingers

More stickers. More excitement. Try to contain yourselves.

Sticker scraping

Oh, and here’s a handy hint: If you happen to be in the market for a window scraper, don’t buy a cheap one. Like I did. Because I’m Scottish. And it always blows back on me, my miserliness. I’ll learn one day. Yessir I will. Oooh look, a bargain…

Crappy scraper

Finally now, I can employ some of the hardware I installed to lock my doors. Ain’t no sucker going to get into this one!!

Sand Quentin padlock

The other padlock – a scorpion. Complete with a hobbit-infused bugger-off-and-get-your-own-stuff spell. Part of a collection I hauled back from India in 2005. I literally got kicked out of India after the security lady at the airport got sick of me beeping every time she scanned me, ‘cos I wore lots of pocketed clothing and stuffed every nook and cranny possible with metal stuff to avoid my luggage being overweight. Her final words were “Oh my God, get out!!!” I thought about asking her which god, as there are thousands in India, but then I thought the better of it and scarpered. It’s taken a decade or so, but I knew this stuff would come in handy one day.

Scorion padlock

And finally, at the day’s end, this is why the swingseat is parked on the deck where it is – so I can watch the moon rise. What a loverly way to end the day. Along with wine, naturally.

Half moon

Covid Quarantine Kiwi Day 7

Fig tree shenanigans and a Gas Station angel.

This morning I duly donned my rubber gloves (it’s the fashion you know, darlink) and ventured out to the supermarket. There was a long line of people outside, but most were happily chatting. Many commented that they’d never been so damned happy to get out and go shopping! I had to laugh when I got inside. Who knew how difficult it would be to keep away from other people in a supermarket aisle?? Inside my head a song started to come into being, to the tune of Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show (you gotta sing it in your head – this is the audience participation bit):

“It’s just a sweep to the left
And then a veer to the right
With your gloves on your hands
Keep your shoulders in tight
Yeah there’s the 2-metre rule
So you just keep to your lane
Let’s do the trolley dance again
Let’s do the trolley again.”

Sheesh, I obviously have a bad case of quarantine brain!
I also went to the gas station, where we obediently stayed on our lines when we went to pay. A woman accidentally gave the window-pay-slot lady my pump number instead of hers, and got charged for my gas. And then she said to me “Don’t worry about it – it’s your lucky day. I’ll pay for yours. My mistake.” What a lovely thing to say! I didn’t let her, of course, and insisted the pay-slot lady sort it out, but I was blown away by this woman’s generosity and cheerfulness. Totally made my day! She’s a blimmin’ angel, that girl!

Whiteboard day 7

When Smudge Friday and I wake up, we look out the window together and check out bird t.v. At the moment, the fig tree leaning over our fence from the neighbour’s place is full of ripe figs. The birds are loving it! And it would appear that there is a system in place for fig foraging. First, the mynahs arrived. They stay on the outer perimeter of the tree and move around a lot, and are not at all shy about scoffing. Then they leave and the thrushes and sparrows move in. They go further into the tree and stay put while having breakfast. After that the starlings come along, and one sits on the neighbours t.v. aerial on guard duty while the rest of them delicately nibble on their share. Who knew they had it all worked out? I’ll watch again tomorrow morning and see if they do it in the same order. There’s another fig tree leaning over from another neighbour’s place, but apparently that belongs to the Tuis. End of story. Tuis are beautiful, but they’re also pretty staunch, so don’t y’all be messing with their territory! They’ll bite off your face!!

Fig tree

Aaaaaand, then it was back to painting.

Lanterns painted

And scraping more old paint off these things. Erk! However, it has been worth the effort, as they came out rather nicely with a dash of black paint.

Filligree painted

Things are starting to look more lived in at the sheds. Plants are creeping onto the verandah, the swingseat has claimed its place and then there’s the sculpture…

Deck and swing

Ta da!! This is Peter’s “Found Stuff Water Holding Combination Sculpture.” Pretty nifty aye? He has a bit of a nack for putting random things together in a way I never would have thought of. A lot of stuff that would otherwise go to the dump gets repurposed around here, thanks to him. He’s sort of like the Salvador Dali of 3-D art, but without the weird moustache.

Peters sculpture

Finally, Smudge Friday signalled that it was the end of another day, and so I downed paintbrushes and gladly clocked out. Because…

Smudge stretching

Yeah. What he said!

Wine o'clock

Oh yeah. Come to Mama, you cheeky little wine bottle.

Come to mama wine

Note the pinky finger. ‘Cos I’m couth like that. Welcome to the evening of Day 7. *clink

Wine pinky

 

Covid Quarantine Kiwi Day 6

The bagpiper is alive! And a spider alarm goes off early this morning.

The bagpiper was playing again this morning. I’m so glad to know he’s alive! I’m thinking maybe he and his wife have an agreement – he agrees to only play every third day, and she agrees to feed him.

Whiteboard day 6

I was woken at dark a.m. this morning by a spider walking across the palm of my hand. It felt like it was about the size of Jason Momoa. I disinvited him from my person immediately, and heard him thud on the floor. So he weren’t no lightweight! I had to wonder if it was Bruce, the guy who lives in my ceiling. Smudge Friday slept on, unconcerned that her flatmate was potentially being sized up for an arachnid dinner. That does it – she’s getting one less cat bickie today!

Spider

I thought I had finished painting all my boards, then I found this. Hiding in plain sight. How in the heck did I miss it???

Painted board

So another painting day it became. This schooldesk I got at the recycling centre is DEFINITELY getting painted!!

Desk

Other bits I dug out for a recoat. Of course I decided to wirebrush them and paint rust convertor on them first, ‘cos I’ve got nothing better to do, right?? Oh, hang on…

Stuff to paint

In case you were ever wondering, this is what the inside of a lantern looks like.

Inside lantern

Some frilly cast iron bits I bought months ago at a second-hand shop. At first they were in for a casual wire-brushing, but then muggins here decided to get all the old paint off, didn’t I? What an idiot! Three painful hours of scraping with a flat-blade screwdriver, and I’m almost there. Another couple of days should do it.

Filligree

Them’s working hands. They’re now holding up a glass of wine. They’re versatile like that.

20200331_175044

Later on, Smudge Friday has a crack at getting the last of the evening sun.

Smudge sunset 1

She has an audience. Again…

Smudge sunset 2

And finally she turns her back on the despised backyard paparazzi. Oh well, that’ll learn her for not rescuing me from the 10-foot mankilling spider this morning.

Smudge sunset 3

 

Covid Quarantine Kiwi Day 5

Repurposing and gravitational experiments, and the neighbours have hours of fun on their motorbike, bless them.

Day 5 whiteboard

Did even more painting today. All duly inspected by the local official. I’m not in the slightest bit bored yet. So far, so good. For the record, a tablespoon of paint contains 295.74 drops of paint.

White boards

We turned the lawn into a wrecker’s yard and dismantled a couple of micathermic heaters in the name of repurposing and lateral thinking. “If they were alive, they wouldn’t be very ‘ealthy.”

Wrecking heater

This is the repurposing idea for the grills off the front – safety grills for glass doors instead.

Grill and door

Also duly inspected by the local official.

Heater grill inspector

Combined gravitational and repurposing experiment #2: tacking my lovely wool insulation to the ceiling with strapping from pallets and cartons. Hopefully it stays up there until the lining is on. I swallowed a fair amount of wool putting that up there. Hopefully it doesn’t affect me. Baaaaa.

Insulation gravity

Smudge Friday has gone from being Beauty Queen of the Neighbourhood…

Smudge on deck

To being utterly sick of the local paparazzi.

Smudge paparazzi

Have spent several hours listening to one of the neighbours enjoying his little 2-stroke motorbike today. Bless his heart. Oh, good news! I found my slingshot…

Slingshot

 

 

Covid Quarantine Kiwi Day 4

The bagpiper is silent. WHY is he silent??

Got lots done today. Cleaned out a garden shed, painted some more boards and stuffed some insulation into a very difficult place. How on earth did I ever find the time to work??

20200329_171846

Why???

Jandal

Potential table legs?

Crutches

Look and weep. What organisation, aye? Corrrrr!!!

Organised shed

Okay, so, I’m gonna need a little fortification before I tackle this next shed…

Messy shed

Insulation that I found in the now-impressively tidy shed. This is what got stuffed into the difficult place.

Insulation

I then ended up talking to my tree-triffids. Why?

Tree triffids

Because when I went to see Smudge Friday for a chat…

Smudge don't care

She told me she’s a cat an’ she don’t care.

Smudge don't care 1