What I Did This Year — Part Two

There’s a lot of ground to cover in this part, so let’s leave the pictures to do the talking.

In March, The Boy was in a frightful car accident and was hospitalised for a month.

Fill* and The Boy — Auckland Hospital, March 2019. 

After three months at home and regular physiotherapy, he returned to full-time work in July. He’s a little over people telling him how lucky he was. But oi was he lucky.

My father died in May.

The Reverend Moe Silipa Mamea (retired), 1926–2019.

He was 92 and he’d had an excellent innings (he loved his cricket). His natural athleticism may have skipped me entirely and gone straight to his grandson, but I’m grateful to have his patience, perseverance, and tact.

My father had some unfinished business and I volunteered to sort it out. In June, The Lovely Wife accompanied me to Samoa.

Mount Vaea from Togafu’afu’a — June 2019

The wife loved the heat and humidity — apparently we’ll be visiting each year henceforth — and the pace of life there is glacial. Nice if you live there, a little frustrating when you’ve only a few days to get stuff done. It was a welcome interlude, considering.

Half-way through the year, my dreams began to have a recurring theme involving some massive weight slowly crushing me.

‘Twas only The Kitten missing me.

Still Life With Chickens is in its second year of touring. This year it did a couple of stops in the North Island, did a circuit of the South Island — and in August, it had its Australian premiere.

The Lovely Wife on a ferry — Sydney Harbour, August 2019.

The Lovely Wife and I attended the premiere where we had a grand yarn with Martin Edmond and Mayu Kanamori, and we explored the Emerald City by tram, bus and ferry. Still Life is off to Shanghai later this month for its Chinese premiere.

Somehow, amidst all of the above, I persisted with my masters course.

* This teddy bear joined the Mamea Aiga in Christmas 2002 when The Boy, then aged six, announced his arrival: I got a teddy bear and his name’s Phil! The Lovely Wife and I exchanged looks and asked where the name Phil came from. It says so right here, The Boy said, turning over the sewn tag: “Polyester Fill”.



I was working in the keep the other morning when I turned in my chair and saw a large grey shape in the doorway and thought, [EXPLETIVES], that is one big [EXPLETIVES] rat!

Then it lopped away at my big girly gasp which roused The Dog and The Puppy, and after some running and hopping and hiding, the interloper was captured alive.

Nice one, Stu.
The interloper, dubbed Stu, in captivity.

We’re not sure how the rabbit got into the fortress. Presuming it gained entry through the cat flap by the dining hall, it made it past our presumably sleeping guard hounds (their performance against their KPIs will be noted accordingly) to reach the keep which is at the opposite end of the building. I suspect The Kitten brought it in for some playtime but the rabbit is unmarked.

Anyhoo, we have a rabbit in Fortress Mamea. And it’s a cutie.


Ten Years

Damn straight it’s been ten years since this blog began.

Where I once was young and full of enthusiasm…

… I am now older and, if not wiser, much more energy efficient:

The Kitten relaxing.

Having shamelessly used our animals as animal shields / distractions, more writerly bloggage shall follow sooner rather than later.


E Day Plus 5

From the correspondence of D F Mamea, Esquire, newly of Northland.

The Kitten makes the best of her circumstances.
The Kitten makes the best of her circumstances.

Dearest Lovely Wife

Dave the Chimney Sweep arrived and went to put a temporary fix on the burner when he straightened and looked at me: Sorry, mate, he said, but it’s so buggered it’s unsafe to use.

He has thus uplifted the wood burner and most of the flue to rebuild in his workshop, and The Boy and I are now without heating.

I’ve told The Boy an old flatting trick of wearing as much of your wardrobe as you can to keep warm. (I refrained from telling him the other old flatting trick of heating the house by turning on all the hobs on your stovetop and turning the oven on high and leaving the ovendoor open.) We shall rearrange living and sleeping arrangements: he shall move his sleeping gear into one of the bedrooms (he’s been enjoying sleeping in the expanse of the great hall which is furnished with only two easy chairs and a most-kindly-lent 40-inch flat screen); I shall move my sleeping gear into the study; and the remaining bedroom shall become the new and temporary lounge with the easy chairs and flat screen. We’ll downsize our living spaces to maximise heat retention.

It’ll be fun. For the first week.




E Day Plus 4

From the correspondence of D F Mamea, Esquire, newly of Northland.

Fowl Aer residents.
Fowl Aer residents.

Dearest Lovely Wife

The Dog and The Puppy didn’t finish their dinner from last night so I only topped up their bowls for breakfast. I’m a little worried about their lack of appetite but they were still reasonably active. The Boy took them for a walk and there were no complaints (from the dogs) (or the boy). Their food supply shall be adjusted, their behaviour and waistlines closely monitored.

The Kitten doesn’t like her SPCA food. Only minutes earlier, I heard her sullenly chew a single mouthful of it before leaving the house. Another animal to keep an eye on.

There are still ten ex-Laingholm chickens in the Green Zone, plus the inherited guinea fowl and bantam. They seem settled as they hoovered up their food. I hereby dub their chicken house Fowl Aer.

Dave the Chimney Sweep had a look at the reluctant and smoky wood burner this morning. This needs more than a sweep, mate. He said it needed to be removed completely and overhauled: the baffles were buckled and rotted out, the flue had split, and a couple of other things I didn’t hear because my mind was screaming, It’s winter! The nights are cold in winter! Since being without a burner was not an option, he’s due back first thing tomorrow morning to put in a temporary fix that will keep the fire useable for the next few months.

The Boy and I tried a nearby takeaway (‘nearby’ being fifteen minutes drive from the fortress). There was a fetid tinge to the smell of cooking oil in the air that didn’t bode well. Our fish and chips were edible: The Boy give it a 7, on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is terrible and 10 is excellent; I gave the food a 4 for being edible and filling.

The Puppy rests between patrols.
The Puppy rests between patrols.

All warmed by full stomachs, the dogs and I did a perimeter check in the dark. They do like the opportunity to walk and sniff. I’m less apprehensive than the first couple of times I did it. The idea of walking through a forest at night isn’t sound when you think about it. But walking through a forest you’re increasingly familiar with is different — there’s much less likelihood of getting lost or being jumped by ninjas (and if the latter, this being private property, I can walk the perimeter strapped).




Mucking with the G

This came to mind after a recent rodent run-in:

It’s that time of the year when some of the forest folk seek shelter in Fortress Mamea from the inclement weather. When scratching noises emanated from the kitchen, The Kitten was duly dispatched. She promptly returned to her currently favoured chair (a Sanderson linen-covered armchair) and resumed her nap.

The Dog and I were then dispatched — The Goddess exhorting us to Kill it kill it kill it — and we chased the rodent from the kitchen, through the Big Hall, around the Banquet Room and finally back to the kitchen. As The Dog and I caught our breath, the invader made Yah loser noises from deep within a cupboard.

Right then, I breathed. A trap was set with a wee treat of peanut butter.

The following morning:

A Fortress Mamea interloper who pushed their luck.
A Fortress Mamea interloper who pushed their luck.

So did I do a little Sean Connery impression when I took the above photo? Yesh, I did. I hope hish friendsh were watching.


The Dog

Ever since her first appearance, The Dog has been an almost annual feature here. It’s hard to believe she’s eleven years old already. Her mortality was first brought home to us when our first chicken was killed:


OUR WRITER and his GODDESS stare at a freshly dug grave. Our Writer rapidly blinks away a dust mote.


(off Writer)

If we’re this upset over a chicken, imagine when The Dog goes.

The Dog was the first addition to Fortress Mamea in 2003. A family canine was something the adult family members wanted: we’d each had a dog in our childhood, though this time around we had requirements like

  • no begging at the dinner table,
  • no sleeping on the bed,
  • and some actual obedience.

We were largely successful: there’s no begging at mealtimes, The Dog knows not to jump onto our bed (the children’s beds are a different matter), and she returns on command.

She and I have clocked up some serious mileage over the years (not so much for a while), but this year she was retired from the exercise regime. Long gone are the days where she would shadow me as I 1). put on my running shoes, 2). ground through some stretching exercises, and 3). collected her lead and my stopwatch from the Wall Hook of Righteous Agony. In the last few months, she has had to be coaxed more and more: at first to leave her dog bed for the brisk morning air and, later, to leave the fortress altogether.

The Dog is getting old. She’s farting more freely, her snoring is louder and more insistent, and her daily ratio of resting versus all-out-physicality has changed markedly. The Goddess and I have been meaning to get a puppy these past few years, ostensibly to keep The Dog company when we’re not at home, but we haven’t even window-shopped. I suspect, deep down, we know that to begin looking for a puppy would be to acknowledge The Dog’s mortality.

The Kitten could be seen in hindsight as a transitional stage. It is heartening to see The Dog initiate playtime with The Kitten.

THE KITTEN -- fully grown now but always referred to as “The Kitten” -- climbs through her CAT FLAP when --

-- THE DOG leaps as if from nowhere --



You’re IT!

-- and lands a paw on the cat’s hindquarters, the dog’s mass and speed spinning the cat 360 degrees until she recovers, back arched and glaring at The Dog:



Step back or die, cur.

The Dog will forever be Fortress Mamea’s first hound. And until it’s time for her to go, we’ll continue to feed her, walk her, and love her.


The Kitten


After the departure of The Cat last year, the rat population expanded and some damage was done to Tilly the Dishwasher AND THE GODDESS WAS NOT HAPPY. Messengers were sent to the two corners of Auckland where there are animal refuges, and a connect at a southern outpost mentioned a certain fearless kitten with the kennel-name of Tango.

The name was a promising sign for us: The Goddess and I like to do a mean tango at the local RSA on occasion. Within hours of receipt of news of A Kitten Called Tango looking for a home, The Goddess, The Girl and I visited the said kitten. The Goddess and Girl were immediately smitten by the bundle of tortoiseshell fur and claws; I insisted on a ninety day trial period.

The Kitten joined the Fortress Mamea workforce in mid-February. In her first week, she quickly taught The Dog that she was not a feline to be trifled with, while as part of her familiarisation with the fortress layout, she investigated my workspace and, with careful paw placement, initiated a search for “cccoooolllll” on the MacbookPro.  I halved the trial period to 45 days.

In The Kitten’s third week, I had a bit of a plink with a few pieces from the armoury. This was my effort for the afternoon:


Without any prompting from me, The Kitten joined in:


A bit high with a whisker of a pull to the left but that sub-1.5-inch group spells eschaton for local vermin.

The Kitten stays.


GOODBYE MY FELENI: Order of Battle

The “Goodbye My Feleni” cast (left to right): Taofia Pelesasa, Samson Chan-Boon,Leki Jackson Bourke, Andy Sani

We don’t have stocktakes or inspection days at Fortress Mamea where the menagerie present themselves front and centre with clean nails and shiny coats.

We do have a standing order of battle: our Forward Operating Base (FOB) Pi*, The Dog, The Goldfish, and The Chickens. I like to keep The Amphibian, The Kaimanawa Pony (Goddess permitting) and The Kitten** in reserve.

The Goodbye My Feleni production also has its order of battle:

Rehearsals commence next week.  I’ve gone cold turkey on Left 4 Dead II in order to finish the last draft of the script.  And our faithful and loyal avatar, Chocolate Stigmata, has gotten itself a twitter account.

At Goodbye My Feleni HQ this phase of operation is not called ‘getting one’s ducks in a row’ – Jenni insists that we  call it getting ready to stomp on your shit.

* Pi – Samoan for honeybee (pronounced ‘pee’), rather than the Greek letter and irrational number.
** Yes, an update on the expanded menagerie will follow, complete with pictures for your desktop, laptop and phone wallpapers.