9 August 2018

What a week !!!

Friday, Austin had his birthday.  Son Guy baked his “cake” :

2018-08-03 Austin day cake lemon merengue R

lemon meringue pie.   Wowsers.

FIJIAN word for “cake” is keke  (kay-kay) and for “pie” is pai (pie).

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The NEXT DAY ….   Junia got married !!

Small wedding (about 40 people), huge production (“huge” to me – but not to people who really do HUGE)  Note: my poor photos are only a tiny sample of what all went on.


2018-08-03 wedding puri R

Indian Food: puris (photo above shows a few of them), meat and vegetarian curries, lamb pilau, and more.

2018-08-03 wedding lovo R

Fijian Food: big lovo with cassava, dalo, chickens, palusami and I don’t know what all.  Photo is of the cassava peeling the night before … this is what Fijian grooms do instead of having a stag party.  And that bandage on Ratu’s head?  Everybody was asking him – turns out he ran into some guy’s teeth (no kidding!) while playing rugby.

Japanese food:  Mami made a Japanese rice dish that was yummy.

American food:  Guy and Akka made something like 20 pizzas.  They were a huge hit!

2018-08-04 wedding cake R

Cakes:  Oh geez.  Junia wanted one that had a masi design on it like Nigel (son-in-law) got at his wedding, but there is no colored fondant to be gotten in Fiji.  Monica worked and worked to figure out a way … and came up with THIS.  Beautiful.  And DELICIOUS!  It had actual coffee in the icing.  Oh Lordy!   There were two more cakes out and we still have a few cakes in the freezer.


2018-08-04 wedding pavilion R

Pavilion, of course.   Cloth behind the benches.  Woven palms around the posts,  Flower petals on the floor.   Fijian mats.   Way more than you can see here.

2018-08-04 table decorations Cr

Monica was the wedding decoration champ.  What an imagination.  Here are table decorations she made out of split bamboo, sand, shells and little flowers growing here.

2018-08-04 wedding signage R

And she did cute signage for all over.

2018-08-04 reception table R

Really cleaned up the road to the pavilion as the ideal site for the reception lunch.  There were bolts of cloth for tables.

2018-08-04 reception head table R

Head table.  Chairs were sourced from the school.  Bride was a bit peeved by the chairs.  I thought they were a hoot, and convinced her to think of them as her present to me 🙂


Sorry!  The couple was back lit.   And the ceremony was very short and very sweet.

2018-08-04 wedding couple Cr

Eminoni (Junia) and Nicole, right before they said their vows.

2018-08-04 wedding couple marriage officer ring bearers Cr

Eminoni and Nicole with wedding officer and their ring bearers – Kiki and Leo in matching pocket sulus and white shirts.  Cute.

FIJIAN for wedding is vakamau.   A “spouse” is wati,  so “his wife” is watina, “my husband” is watiqu.  “Husband and wife” (together) is veiwatini.

Congratulations, Junia and Nicole!

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But wait, the week held more!   It is August – time for Raksha Bandan – the brother-sister time.

I learned to make the Indian sweet “lakri” …. Actually, Ashmita made me do it.  ha ha.

Recipe:  1 1/2 cup flour,  1 Tbsp oil – rub it together.  Add 2 Tbsp milk powder – rub it in with fingers.  Add enough water to make a stiff dough.  Roll it into two disks like slightly plump rotis.  Fry each lightly.  Then cut into little sticks.  Deep fry until just golden.  Drain and toss with powdered sugar.  Easy enough that even I can do it.

When I gave my brothers an Indian sweet that I cooked myself (first time), they were both very proud 🙂

INDIAN word  lakri means “stick” – and although it is a very common Indian sweet here – they do not make it in India!  This one is Fiji-created.   Just found that out!

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2018-08-07 wasabi leaves R

New crop.  We are still a farm.  I saw Austin shaking his head and stomping.  He told me that this plant is wasabi (the very very strong Japanese mustard).  I nibbled at a leaf – it wasn’t that hot.  So I nibbled at a rib.  It still wasn’t that hot.  I asked him What the heck?  Turns out he’d stuck a whole leaf into his mouth!

Na watiqu ulukau.      (Reminder:  ulu = head,  kau = wood)

PS – Junia says this is NOT wasabi.  It is only a mustard green.

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And finally … just yesterday ….  Farewell

2018-08-08 farewell my sweet ones Cr

Guy, Mami and their boys left, concluding nearly four months of non-stop family company here at the farm.

FIJIAN for “goodbye” is moce  (MO-thay), and for “don’t cry”  is kua ni tagi (KOO-ah nee TANG-ee).   Sniff.

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Happy week, everybody.

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2 August 2018

Ugly Photo Warning – I didn’t get even one pretty photo this week.

2018-07-29 water power box R


This is the power box for the neighborhood water pump.  It is at our house.  Before we moved here, back when the house was empty, neighbors would come up to turn on the pump for half an hour every morning and evening.  That became our job when we moved in 11 years ago.  Austin soon got tired of it and bought the timer.   This week, the timer stopped working, so we (Austin) by-passed the timer.  About midnight he checked and the pump did not work.  OH NO!!!   Had he left the pump on and burned it out?   (Ugh – $2000-$3000 to replace it and cannot ask neighbors to help bear the cost for OUR mistake.)   At dawn he called Roneesh to check and alerted him that they’d need to source a new pump.

Roneesh called back 10 minutes later:  The pump was just disconnected.  YAY!  Pump still functions.  And somehow so does the timer now, too!   WHEW!

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2018-07-31 septic tank hole R


This will be a septic tank.  Our friend Ratu dug this basically in one day – by himself.  Junia was looking for Ratu – couldn’t find him – was calling his name, but Ratu is hard of hearing.  Finally Ratu heard Junia and called out “help!”   He was down in his hole and couldn’t get out!

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2018-07-28 new nest Cr


This one decided to use the car seat for a nest.  We are getting an egg a day there.   And…..

many people had theories about how the egg got on my bed last week with it NOT being a hen’s visit.  Well, I went to put away a suitcase (a door separates the bed from the luggage spot).

2018-08-01 proof of chicken upstairs R

No child put chicken poo on that suitcase….

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2018-08-01 roof for pizza oven R


Awwww.  Guy came back from Japan to put a roof over his pizza oven.

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You remember siganisucu?  “birthday.”

Mataka is “tomorrow.”

Translate:    Na siganisucu  o  Austin   ni   mataka. 

The word that means “love”   loloma  is the same word used for “gift” –  so when I say I don’t have any presents for Austin, I’m also saying I don’t have any love for him.  Oh no! Better remedy that today!

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Happy week, everybody!

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26 July 2018


2018-07-21 egg on bed 1 R

Went back to my bedroom mid-morning and found this gift on my bed.  What the heck!

This never happened before – but it did happen once again the next day.   This is weird.

In brief, the path to my bed is (1) through the “chicken proof” porch door and across the porch, (2) through the front door that is usually closed,  (3) sharp left through a dark little hall,  (4) sharp right past the dressers toward the windows, (5) hairpin turn to the right and up the oversized stairs, and (6) onto the bed.   And then out again … and without getting caught.  Gee whiz!

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Went to a neighbor’s wedding, but I was herding grandchildren.

2018-07-21 Leo in sling Cr

Missed all the puri making because of this sweetie pie breaking his arm (falling off the LOWER bunk of a bunkbed while playing).

And found myself smitten with this little gentleman (someone else’s grandson) in his good suit.

2018-07-21 toddler in suit 1 Cr

Moments later, he was DONE.

2018-07-21 toddler in suit 2 Cr

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Vina brought a shy neighbor – Ashmita – to come help me clean.  Ashmita is a Wonder Woman!

Behold the before and after on one of my windows:

2018-07-23 Ashmita - wonder cleaner  Cr.jpg

I’m over the moon!

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Last night was the last night for most of the grandkids, so a bonfire and marshmallows.

2018-07-25 last night bonfire R

Burning up the old dry flora.

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And this morning – Austin told me to take this one.

2018-07-26 mongoose tail or soldier grass R

“Mongoose tail” or “Soldier grass”   The story is that the soldiers brought this plant because the seeds (tails) were good for packing weaponry and also for making life jackets.

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Mongoose is manipusi.    Tail is bui (BOO-ee).  Mongoose tail is  bui ni manipusi.

Fire is bukawaqa (BOO-ka, WANG-ga).    And the word for Friday is vakarabuka  (VA-ka-ram-BOO-ka) – indicating it is the day to gather firewood.

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Happy week, everybody.

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19 July 2018

2018-07-14 visiting heron Cr

Four items this week – and I have both Flora AND Fauna.  Kind of proud of myself.

From the order in the camera:  first it is FAUNA.   This is a heron, or something close to it – that swooped by and settled onto a tree in front of me on the hill.  I asked Austin and he said they come from the coast pretty often because we have a pond.   “Pretty often,” eh?  I guess if I keep watching I may notice everything … eventually.

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2018-07-16 another morning light show Cr

Another morning light show.  I’ve been going up to the pavilion most mornings at dawn.  Usually we have had splendid red and gold cloud displays.   “Red at morning, sailors take warning,” is the old wisdom, but we only got one light rain one afternoon.

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At the beach, my daughter comes to impress a guest:  “Henna grows here.”

“What?!”  I exclaim.

She puts it in my hand:

2018-07-16 henna bush grows here 1 Cr

“It’s growing by our kitchen,” she tells me.  “You didn’t know?”

No I didn’t.

Here is the bush at the beach.

2018-07-16 henna bush grows here 2 Cr

I forgot to look here at the farm.

My daughter says she knows about it because her classmates in high school showed her.  She says they said their grandmothers rubbed it in their hair for a free dye job.

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Finally – the most beautifully packed parcel I have ever received by mail.  Books from India.

2018-07-18 Beautiful parcel from India 1 R


The parcel is wrapped in wide-weave cotton cloth.

2018-07-18 Beautiful parcel from India 2 R

See how it is stitched together and has sealing wax!    Wow!

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Beautiful is totoka.

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Happy week, everybody.

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12 July 2018

2018-07-07 grubs Cr

I wandered over to the kitchen one morning, only to see this plate full of grubs.  Coconut rhinoceros beetle grubs.  I blogged about coconut rhinoceros beetle grubs before, many years ago – gee whiz, it was one of my first blogs!  25 July 2013    Maybe the grubs are a seasonal delicacy?!  We did not eat these guys.  We did taste them five years ago (I’ll confess it now) – the taste was not bad, but …..  (nah, it’s too early in the morning to go into details.) (gag)

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2018-07-08 dust bath Cr

I thought I saw some hens attacking another hen at the bottom of the bank beside our house.  I would have sworn they were all pecking at the loser.

I went to get Austin but by the time I found him, no hen was under attack.  Austin did not believe me.  “Was there blood?” he asked.   “Uh, no…” I replied.

We watched the remaining hens for a few minutes.  “They’re taking a DUST BATH,” he announced,   “in that rotted tree trunk.”

Go figure.  But I KNOW I saw one getting pecked.  Maybe they were pecking out feather lice or something….

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2018-07-11 another chicken deterrent R

The never-ending quest to keep the chickens out of the human areas.  The screen above the gate worked for my porch.  Now the ice cream tub lids are serving as a deterrent at the laundry room gate.   Clever!

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After years of observation and contemplation, I have finally decided to institute a “new” temperature scale that is suitable for the tropics, based on the freezing point of coconut oil.

Coconut oil gets hard, or “freezes,” at approximately 23.5o Celsius or 72o Fahrenheit.  That is 0o Niu  (pronounced, “new” – which is Fijian for “coconut” – since the C has already been used.)  In my Coconut Scale – 1 degree N = about 1 degree F or about 0.5 degree C.  Yes, I know it gets inaccurate the further from zero you go, but that’s ok.  This is a scale of COMFORT, not a scale for carrying out sensitive engineering operations.

24-07-14 cake 3 R

Here is a photo of frozen and not frozen coconut oil from July 2014.  (Amazing how I’m finding all these companion photos from July’s of yesteryear…. or maybe not so amazing since we are in the depths of winter.)

2018-07-11 almost zero degrees Niu - coconut R

Here is a photo of coconut oil in my kitchen at four in the afternoon.  The temperature must have been around  5o N (five degrees Coconut).  This was causing the previously frozen oil to be melting.

2018-07-12 freezing coconut oil R

Just as with water, both freezing and melting start from the edges, so it is easy to tell whether temperature is rising or falling by the location of what is frozen.  This one is in process of freezing.

Anyway,  on the Coconut (Niu) Scale – the average daytime temperature is around 10o N, (which is 83o F  or 28o C).   Normal tolerable temps for us tropical softies is 0o  N to 15o N (that is 73-88o F or 23-31o C).

For excess heat – well, we’re tropical.  We just head for the shade and turn on the fan, and wait for sunset.   But for the excess cold … that is tough.

At -5o N, we are wearing sweaters and using blankets.  At -12o N  we are using three blankets, and claim we can see our breath.   At -20o Coconut we really can see our breath and we think we are going to die.  And it is not very kind when relatives from Canada and Japan are still walking around in shorts and calling us wimps.   MINUS 20 COCONUT (53o F or 14o C) is PAINFUL STUFF.

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2018-07-08 grandchildren R

All seven grandchildren – in their Happy Canada Day t-shirts, and imported colorful cowboy hats.  And Granddaddy.

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Fijian Word of the Week

Niu  (“new”) = coconut

Wai (“wye”) = water

Waiwai (“WYE-wye”) = oil

So coconut oil is waiwai ni niu.

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Happy week, everybody.  Stay warm (or cool).

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5 July 2018


2018-06-27 giant pawpaw Cr

You think this is a big pawpaw?

It is not so impressive compared to the monster papaya from four years ago.

4-10-14 Monster Pawpaw Cr-anew

Happy memories.  (Madam, the lady in the photo, is no longer with us.)

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Chickens found a pumpkin in the field before Austin did.   So Austin put a candle in it!

2018-07-03 chicken carved jack'o'lantern Cr

There are aliens among us ….

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(It seems a rare week that I have both Flora and Fauna any more)

2018-07-04 one-legged duck Cr

A one-legged duck.   Austin told me to take this photo.  The duck had been standing with his leg up for over half an hour.  Dr. Smarty Pants claims that ducks routinely warm up one leg at a time in the winter in snowy climes …. so this is proof to me that it is Horribly Cold Here right now.  Ah, the depths of winter.

2018-07-01 new caterpillar Cr

Also a new caterpillar – very fast critter.  This was the clearest shot I got.  What kind of butterfly or moth is is fated to become?

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“Take this photo!”

2018-07-03 Austin's brains Cr

“Why, Austin?”

“Because it represents my brains.”


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2018-06-28 fixing the feeder road Cr

Surprise – the government fixed our feeder road this week!  Scraped the sides, deepened the drains, grated it … and put good gravel on the worst spots.   Very smooth, very nice … at least until rainy season.  (photo was of the operation in progress)

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We have spent so much time at the hospital this week, that my daughters really wanted me to get this last series of photos;

2018-07-04 ER 1 Cr

The hospital on approach.  Which is the Emergency entrance?

2018-07-04 ER 2 R

The most likely door on approach, but no sign.

2018-07-04 ER 3 Cr

From the inside looking out.   Aha!

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Gone  (pronounce NGO-nay) means “child”

Gone tagane (NGO-nay tang-AH-nay) is a boy,  gone yalewa (NGO-nay ya-LE-wa) is a girl.

I have 5 gone tagane and 2 gone yalewa  here right now.  Makubuqu (ma-koom-BOONG-goo) – my grandchildren.

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Happy week, Everybody!

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28 June 2018

I got to accompany Austin out to Plantation Island overnight for some of his coral work again.  We were supposed to leave on the first boat – and had to leave way  early to be at the port on time through the typical Nadi morning gridlock …. so we arrived at Port Denerau before any of the shops were open:

2018-06-22 Denarau before opening R

It felt strange and empty.

And then it started filling up, but the staff for the Malolo Cat never showed up.  Oh yes, the first boat was canceled.  Island life.

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Evenutally we got on board — and I learned a few nifty things during the trip.

Behold this photo

2018-06-22 Fiji maritime flag and clouds over Teitei in distance Cr

Two nifty things about it.   One is that the MOUNTAIN right behind the flag and under the cloud is Mount Koroba (Koromba) – the mountain we see from the farm directly to our north.

The other nifty thing here is the FLAG.  Does it look a bit odd to you?  Turns out this is Fiji’s maritime flag – red background instead of standard blue.


I guess the standard flag lacks the necessary visibility at sea.

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Killing time on the boat ride, Austin showed me the weird line on the skin of his hand:

2018-06-22 epidermis of human palm Cr

a definite ridge line between the skin of his palm and the other skin.  This led to a discussion – Austin saying how much more sensitive the skin of this palm is – which led to experiments (tickle here, tickle there: mine is more sensitive, too! … and I guess everybody’s is).  And now finally I have an explanation for why my feet have always been SOOO ticklish.    Lots one can learn when bored!

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Random shots at Plantation Island.   Do any of these strike anyone else as odd?

Palm trees

2018-06-22 palms at Plantation Cr

Saving a pool chair

2018-06-22 Left Behind Cr

Thing that went bump in the night

2018-06-23 DANG Cr

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The Weird World of Burl

2018-06-23 World of Burl 1 Cr

These are typical tree burls.

2018-06-23 World of Burl 2 R

I do not get the appeal, but for some reason some people think it is really classy to buy bowls that are carved out of tree burls.  This is a display of carved burl bowls at Jacks.  I didn’t go look at the prices, but I know they have to run at least US$60 each.

Anyhow – I’m going into details about the burls because there was another oddity on Plantation Island that I saw this time that could have starred in PT Barnum’s side show if only it was human:  the Warty Casuarina Tree.

2018-06-23 World of Burl 3 Cr

It has a moderate size burl here.

2018-06-23 World of Burl 4 R

And the more burls on the branches.  And smaller ones on the smaller branches.

2018-06-23 World of Burl 5 R

Until every single twig has tiny burls all over it.   YIKES!

That’s SICK.

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I was going to give you “sick” – tauvimate – but I already taught you that.

So instead I’ll give you   yatevuso  – which means “lungs”  .   I’ll leave it to you to figure out why these words might be coming to mind right now.

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Happy week, Everybody!

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