dennis s. hurddennis s. hurd

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Coconut Plucking

Coconut Plucking 
Day 72 - They arrived and pounded on our gate. The coconut plucking guy and his current helper came at around ten o'clock this morning.

The invitation was open but we were a little surprised to see them today. It was less than a week ago when different guys came to re-wire a few trees to keep an occasional falling coconut from hitting the house or water well. On occasion, a stray coconut can fall on its own, but like a crop, the coconuts must be harvested when ready. This occurs every two to three months.

Coconut Plucking Coconut Plucking Coconut Plucking

The pluckers shimmied up each of the twenty trees and pulled down the loose, dead branches. The guys then machete a group of coconuts that come crashing down. As soon as the bunch hits the ground, they can fly in any direction. So after the guys leave, we had to search the property and throw them into piles.
  Coconut Plucking

Coconut Plucking

Coconut Plucking

We were a bit early this time, so many immature coconuts still remain on the trees.  These two piles are a bit shy of the normal amount collected.  A buyer will come to buy the majority of these.  Of course, Jay's sisters will keep dozens for personal use and to give as gifts to neighbours.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

A Cursed Load of Laundry

Day 71 - We didn't get home to Minuwangoda until nine o'clock last night. Even though we didn't completely get to do all that Jay had planned, it was an enjoyable road trip to eastern Sri Lanka. The variety of the geography, flora, fauna, and people on this relatively small island is amazing. 

After fun, there's often a bit of aftermath to take care of. One aspect of being away for three days away was having three days of dirty clothing. We started early to remedy that situation, before even having breakfast. 

However, the electricity gods decided that it wouldn't be an appropriate morning to do our super-large load of wash.   At first, we couldn't quite tell why the machine had stopped. None of the little LED indicators were on. The ceiling lights worked and the refrigerator bulb was on. In retrospect, the fridge probably was not cooling as there would've been too little juice to run the compressor. Eventually, we figured out our problem was due to a low amp situation from the grid. This wasn't before we wondered if the LG machine had died as one 'logic board' had already been replaced a while back. This also wasn't before we had sprung into action and emptied the machine and completed the entire load out back at the well in tubs. I have new respect for the work a washing machine does! 

If that wasn't enough of a problem for today's load, as soon as everything was strung up to dry in the scented breeze and antiseptic sunshine, dark clouds gathered. Damn it!  We've barely seen a drop of rain in the six weeks we've been in Sri Lanka. So, today, when big drops started falling and we panicked. 

We scurried to rehang some clothing in the open-air shed. We brought other clothes inside, some of which had somewhat dried due to the fantastic conditions early on, but still being too damp to fold.
  After a Tiny Road Trip

It was one of those tropical false alarms regarding rain with just enough to dot the rather parched soil. We then went through the procedure in reverse.  

Most of the travel clothing is now clean and has been put away.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Coconut Tree Pulling Guy

Day 67 - There was a bit of a wind yesterday.  All the trees around the house jostled and swayed in the breeze.  Suddenly, we heard a loud crack as a coconut fell and broke a roof tile.  That was okay, as a pile of replacement clay tiles sit behind the house.

It indicated that it was time to call the tree pulling guy though.

Winching Coconut Tree Away from Roof

Coconut trees hardly ever grow straight.  Near the shoreline, coconuts are one of the only trees that grow into the wind.  And in a tropical wooded lot, they will seek a sure footing for their roots and grow towards an area with the most direct sunlight.  This usually makes them appear as if they are growing every which way.

The Minuwangoda house is on a relatively small lot, yet has twenty coconut trees growing around. Sri Lankans use a whole lot of coconuts in their cooking.    Each tree produces about 10 to 15 coconuts every couple of months.  This is more than is needed for Jay's sisters and gifts for neighbours, so his younger sister sells off the excess and gets around SR 85 ($US 0.45) each nowadays.   A buyer comes and collects a few hundred at a time in a truck and gives cash.

Coconuts Directly Over Water Well Coconuts 4 Meters Away from Water Well
Before: Coconuts directly over well.   /   After: Coconuts four meters from overhead.

We were especially concerned about one tree with the coconuts growing directly over the well near the back shed.  This is often an area of activity.  In fact, on most mornings, I like to shave leisurely under the blue sky in a portable mirror that hangs there.  There's a pump and faucet so the old bucket and rope are not frequently used.

Today, an older guy arrived on a scooter with bundles of wire and a winch.   He re-wired a number of trees and added one completely new wire after inspecting the property.  The wires run from supporting host trees to the top of the one needing a change.  The tree is pulled until the wires are taut and the tree is in the desired, new position.

The wires have to be moved every few years so that the supporting tree can remain healthy.  In the picture below you will note the old scar under today's replacement.

Re-Wiring to Keep Anchor Tree Alive

Friday, January 21, 2022

It's Cold for the Cats and Me Too!

A Cool January Morning 
Day 66 - The other day, I sent a message to a friend. It had a photo of blue sky above a cluster of coconut trees from the backyard. I entitled it, Good Morning, as it was.  A quick reply arrived with an added, southern 'hemispherians'. The retired teacher in me pounced to correct him. 

Sri Lanka is completely north of the equator. 

I'm presently about 6°N latitude. I'm sharing this parallel with countries such as the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, parts of Malaysia, the Philippines, Columbia, and Venezuela. But, it is technically wintertime here in the Northern Hemisphere. There are not any blasts of arctic air though. 

This morning was the coolest yet of our stay. The temperature dropped to about 19°C Centigrade last night and is forecast to do so tonight. (That's about 66°F for those who are metrically challenged, which is basically the whole United States only.)  There was a tiny bit of fog among the trees in the morning. Also, the two cats definitely needed a little warming up time in the first bit of sunshine.
  Trying to Get Warm 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Trying to Attract Attention

No Eye Contact

Day 65 - It wasn't a January thaw.  Today was just an ordinary January day around the Minuwangoda house.  I like seeing flowers trying so hard to attract attention at this time of the year.

January Exuberance

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Bet You Can't Eat Just Ten!

String Hoppers 
Day 64 - Stuff keeps coming out of the kitchen, like all the time. Even the simplest of items have a complex symphony of spices. Surely, the whole is greater than the pieces.  

String hoppers are great.   The individually pressed 'patties' of rice flour noodles are steamed on tiny bamboo trampolines.  They are then piled into stacks.  They can be used to scoop up any manner of curry.  Tonight fish, potato, and coconut chutney were superb in accompanying them.  I always think that I'll get full after six or seven and inevitably eat twice that number.
  I'll Only Have 10! Or Maybe a Dozen.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Our First Trip to the Dehiwala Zoo

Day 63 - We've already been away for about nine weeks this winter.  We had planned to have today off and get ready for a trip to the Dehiwala Zoo tomorrow.   The zoological gardens are the national zoo not far away from Colombo.  The day was all arranged.  We were to get up a bit early tomorrow and be able to enjoy the lush grounds while the cooler morning air lingered.  A piece of jungle is easily to landscape.

Then, as we were watching the evening news, we found a strike has begun by that union of workers.  Although there had been a few murmurs about a new director, today the protest became obvious on national television.  For sixty years the zoo has always been open but the very day before we had planned a visit, it seems as though it'll be closed.  We called to cancel our van and driver.

At the Zoo

As a group, we haven't been to the zoo since 2004.  That was the year that Babby left for Cyprus. and I have a few photos from those days.  However, I went back farther in my collection.  I found these two images taken on film in the fall of 1987.   This would have been the first time that Jay and I had visited the Sri Lankan zoo together.  Nowadays the cages have been switched to larger animal enclosures but we look remarkably similar after 35 years, don't we?  

At the Zoo - Too

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