22 August 2019

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Little clouds nestled in the hills at dawn.   It was a nice start to the day, and a nice start to the week (in my camera).

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Holes in the ground under my clothesline.  Almost fell because of one.  What were they?  Then I see This.

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Junia says they do this to cool off.   Seriously?  They never did it under my clothesline before.

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I’m not the only one asking irritated questions.  Son Guy was going through a storage box in which he had left items when he moved overseas.  He got out his hiking boots.

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“What happened to my shoes????”

The soles were mostly gone.  My guess is Ants.

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Some neighbors came to my house for the first time, and left with a memento:


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A furry, bundle-of-love memento:  Blanca the pup.   (It can be hard finding homes for the females, and these friends were really happy because they want a female on their farm so they can get More Pups!  Hooray!)

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That was all I had until this morning.   It didn’t seem enough, so I went to get one more item and then the day mushroomed out of control.

First off:  Mushrooms.

The kids went to a mushroom workshop about a month ago.  Austin had Rakesh extend the orchid house/nursery into the nearby decommissioned chicken villa.  The kids tried mushrooms there.   They didn’t work.  The mushroom folks did a site visit – said it was great, just needed shelves.  I never looked.   Yesterday, my son comes to the kitchen with a big basin of mushrooms!  I had to go see.

Ok!  I see them growing.  Just wish it were something we could keep replicating without outside resources….

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Meanwhile, poking around the nursery – which looks really beautiful now – I am struck by the numerous …

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beautiful square planting tubs we have.  Seriously there must be a hundred in the nursery.  Those are ice cream tubs – also used as doggie dishes and water bowls for all the chicken pens.   Tuckers should pay us to advertise for them!

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Guy and Junia have started curing the inside of the rocket stove.  It is crazy.


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This is the low bowl.  The fire goes here – and the flames go sideways as the heat is sucked up and out the tall chimney.   I put my hand over this fire and it did not feel hot at all, only warm.  Above the chimney – YEOW!

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Then:  Handicrafts

We have a guest who wanted to try out the handicraft activities – so I got my friends

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Handicraft team – Lanieta and Venaisi.

Lanieta got Junia to cut some coconut leaves –

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–  and he pretended to dance.  What else is new.

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Venaisi taught pottery.  Man, I am so out of it – when she said we could make clay bowls and fire the bowls in one day, I did not realize this is two different bowls.  The new bowl has to dry for 2 or 3 days.  Oops.  Anyway, Guy is here and will help our guest fire her bowl the morning before she leaves…

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Lanieta taught weaving – but ended up just using the pandanus  she brought instead of the leaves we cut.

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Also:   Three more folks in today’s madhouse

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A  sweet turn of events is that a Fiji Times crew showed up wanting to do a piece on the homestay (suddenly we are media darlings) – and they ended up interviewing Lanieta and Venaisi – locals who are teaching handicrafts, and also Ashmita, our Kitchen Angel, who was teaching cooking to our guest today as well.   “Locals in business” sounds a lot better to me than “another foreigner with a successful business” – right?

( Still waiting on the link from Fiji One TV who did air the segment on us a couple of nights ago, and we’ve heard about it but not seen it.  The Fiji Times article will be easily found, and will then be wrapping roti parcels and lining the chick boxes for months to come 🙂 )

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FIJIAN WORD of the Week

I think I’ve told you all these before:

Madua  (mahn-doo-ah) – means “ashamed.”  I have to make a correction to last week’s word of the week ….

Isa, isa   –  “alas, alas.”

Au ulukau.   –  “I  blockhead”  (that might not be good grammar, but would be understandable).

The problem is that “lips” are  TEBE  ni  gusu  (tem-bay ni ngoo-soo) – not that other thing I said.  I got confused, but do not know the word for “confused.”

Isa, isa.

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Hope you have a happy week.

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15 August 2019

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Puppy invasion!  They are getting so big now.   And what complications!  Winky, their mom, started attacking two of the fellows doing yard work, so Austin put them in the pool area.  That was ok by day (the night we left them in there, they whined all night).

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And now they are starting to leave for their furever homes.   This is John, the “Lamb Man.”   He is the man who traded Austin the three sheep for some geese.  Now he needs one of our males because his breeding ram got stolen.  He will take Curly, and will give us a nursing ewe with a baby female in exchange.  Oh hooray!  We will not need to trade away Lambchop!

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You remember the beautiful new tea area?  It is in the former location for cane knives and other junk …. so Austin said he’d build a new tool shed out by the pizza oven.

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Looky!   That is some “tool shed” – looks like a cantina.  All we need is colored lights and a bartender!

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More is going on behind this wall, too.   My son Guy cannot just visit and hang around.  This year’s project:  a rocket stove!

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Junia stomps the clay.

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Guy has packed the clay and sand around pipes and stuff to shape the stove.

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It is dry, and the forms were successfully removed.

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Now it needs to finish drying (cure) for two weeks and we can try it out.   I think we make the fire in the short bowl and we can cook on both holes.   Stay tuned.

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Daughter-in-law Mami also got creative.

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She bought this huge and pretty jar and has tried making syrup out of the wi fruit.   Guy very clerverly put a few drops of apple cider vinegar into it so we wouldn’t end up with wi wine – ha ha.

We also knew the wi fruit in Micronesia as “Deutch mango” – but it is not called that anywhere else.  The scientific name is Spondias dulcis parkinson – which I was able to find in Suliana Siwatibau’s book about medicinal plants of Fiji.

I’m having a glass of the wi cordial right now, and it is pretty good!

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Last weekend had the annual Firewalking at the temple down the road.  A group of South Indians comes here every winter to carry out the ceremony.   The devotees stay at the temple for a week in prayer and fasting.  On Saturday night the hosts put on religious plays all night long – this becomes a community party with many families settling in at the temple for the whole night to enjoy the entertainment.  Humongous logs are being burned. At 4:00 A.M the devotees go to the river to bathe, then dress in yellow robes and come back to the temple for the grand event.

Kiki was here for the weekend, and we went to the temple at dawn for the firewalking.

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First the devotees circumambulate the temple.

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The leaders are first over the coals.

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Then the others each take their turn on coals.

Some aspects of the event appeal to me, and I’m always really proud of the children I know who successfully take part in this test of faith.

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“Butterfly” or “moth” is bebe  (mBAYm-bay).

Here is Austin with a cloud of bebe that showed up one morning.

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Another word is “mouth” – gusu (ngOO-soo).   What do they have to do with each other?

Because “LIPS” are bebe ni gusu – “butterflies of the mouth.”

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Happy week, everybody.

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8 August 2019


It’s been more than a year since we have harvested honey.  Visiting son Guy was chomping at the bit.  Every day was too rainy or had too many visitors.  Finally, an ok day arrived.  (Sorry I only got a few photos.)

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Faith used the “hive tool” to scrape the caps off the honeycomb cells of the tray.

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Guy put the put the trays in the extractor and spun, spun, spun.  (He also scraped trays)

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Then he held the trays up to the light to make sure the honey was all spun out.  (He also did all the storing, all the straining of the beeswax, and almost all the cleanup.)

We have heaps of honey – as well as bees coming around to accuse us – and one bees-waxy pot I still haven’t quite figured out how to dewax.

In any event – it is a sweet time to visit, y’all.

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I really wanted to go down to the geese and sheep pen.

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See anything new?

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What about now?

Mo, our female sheep, gave birth a couple of weeks ago, but I hadn’t seen the lamb yet.  It’s a boy, and his name is  “Lambchop”  – Cute, eh?

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We love him, but since we already have two grown males, it’s not going to work to keep him.   Austin’s planning to try to trade him for a little female so that the younger ram will have a mate, too.

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My little grandson was walking around with an egg in his hand.  I told my son and he went and got the egg, brought it to me … and SQUEEZED it!   It squeaked!   It was a toy I didn’t know about.  Oh – ha ha.

So then the next day, I see this:

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An egg up in the bush outside the kitchen.  The toy egg, right?   WRONG.  The toy egg was not on top of the fridge.  So what is with the egg in the bush?   Austin said a hen laid it up there.  Huh?

Guy saw it.  Junia saw it.  We all thought it was weird.  Finally Junia went to look ….

It was an eggshell someone threw out the window.  Mystery solved.

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FIJIAN WORD of the Week

I got serious about studying Fijian again … but it’s work.

Cakacaka  (THA-ka-THA-ka) means “work”

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Happy week, everybody.

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1 August 2019

Got some Flora:

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Mandarin picking – finally.   The tree was just about empty by the time we got around to doing it.   Shake shake shake.

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Got some Fauna:

The moths are back.   Not so photogenic, but this is huge.  We used to have so many moths, then we had none – it was if the natural world was collapsing.  Now we’ve gotten some decent rain, and we have some insects – hooray.

And some Fauna everyone will want to see

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Puppy bath!

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Short blog, so time to plump up with some signs around town:

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Happy week, everybody.

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26 July 2019

OOPS!  I lost track of the week.  I only realized I’d messed up when I started getting hundreds of texts from distraught blog followers … NOT.   Ha ha.

In any case, it is Friday here instead of Thursday … we had a busy week.  A group of NINE from Australia on a massive activity package.   I only got kitchen shots.  Faith got heaps of other photos that will show up other places.

Making Roti

Here the group is learning to knead and roll Indian flatbread.

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We put the single burner on the dining table for it.  The breeze made it a challenge.

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And here is a sample of one of their expertly turned out rotis being fried.

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(ha ha)

Making Chocolate

Turns out Annelise, one of our guests, used to give tours in a small chocolate factory back in Florida, and she upped our game.

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We weren’t milling the beans long enough.  She had us grinding them for close to 72 hours!

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Putting the liquidy chocolate into molds.

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Somebody got the bright idea of using warm milk for the wash up instead of water.

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Yummy cocoa.

PS – Annelise says we cannot call the plant and the fruit “cocoa” ever again.  It is CACAO – and a product of it is “cocoa.”   CACAO, guys!   Ok.

Making Soap

Austin led them all in making soap.

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Here is is taking it out of the molds with a guest and grandson Leo.

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In town this morning I was looking around.

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For those of you who know Sigatoka – this is the back road by the fire station.   They’ve cut back the hill (that used to go to the sidewalk).   There are rumors that the bus stand is being moved here.  Or the market.   I’ll let you know.

And just opposite – what the heck?!

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“Post-Henge” ?    This can’t be new, although I never noticed it before.  Why are there so many concrete pillars together???

And just for a touch of fauna –

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Another dead bird.    I look down too much.

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Oh yes, one more whoop-dee-do at the farm:

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Fiji TV

They came to do a segment for their Talk Business show about the homestay.  I was on camera and felt like an idiot.   Then Monica went on and looked great.  She was giving them a tour of the place and showing them good shots to take, when they met Junia.   They loved Junia.

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Here they are with Ju up in the tree house.

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Happy week, everybody.

And Happy Birthday, Akka.

And Happy Anniversary, Austin.

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18 July 2019

The Fauna and Fauna report – nothing Floral caught my eye this week.

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Walking on the little bridge from my house, I was stopped short several mornings by this:

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A line of dashes,  or  Lines of dashes.

Very flippy in the morning sun.  I’ve seen some strange spider webs, but this is the first time I have noticed dashes.

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On the same walkway –  four hens figuring out how they can all use this exceptionally terrific laying spot.

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(Not where any of them are supposed to be laying, but they are bird-brains.  What can I say?)

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Austin has been working hard getting the pool nice for a large group of guests coming.

“Guess what I found swimming in the pool just now?”  he said to me.  “A HEN! …. OH!  There she is.”

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She didn’t look all THAT mad….

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Also getting ready for these guests – I stenciled Sulus.

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Sulu  (soo-loo) means “cloth”

It can also mean a specific cloth that you wrap around and use as a quick skirt.  Two yards or two meters for an adult.

A “pocket sulu” – is a tailored skirt with pockets that is formal wear for Fijian men.

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(I’d do better, but I’m really pooped)

Happy week, everybody.

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11 July 2019

I’m pretty sure Nicole was worried ever since she left that Granddaddy was going to get rid of Quasimodo, her crooked-neck goose pet.

Didn’t happen.

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Quasi got a JOB!   She is the baby duck and baby goose Nanny!

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In a similar vein, Junia may have been worried that Granddaddy was going to use his absence from the farm as an opportunity to off-load Angel Puppy.

Yep!  That happened.

Here she goes into the arms of her new and very happy owner.

….  Ju came home and he approved of the move.  He says Angel had started digging up stuff like Dino used to.

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Junia and Austin are both eager to keep and train up the best of Winky’s pups –

now in their second week.

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Winky is keeping herself well-fed.

This pile of black feathers was just outside her door.

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Faith and Nicole’s Vegetable Garden is doing well.  Junia took me for a tour.   All I would see is unruly green leaves if he did not point out exactly what to look for:

We have (in some order above)  amaranth, basil, cabbage, cilantro, corn, lettuce, tomato.  The amaranth (moca) is a by-stander in several other photos.

The significance of these veggies is that if we can get a guaranteed continuous supply, we will be able to guarantee farm-grown organic veggies in the homestay.  Upscaling!

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Junia and Nicole have been gone because Nicole had their baby, a handsome little boy whose middle name is Naqionitoga (nang-GHEE-oh-nee-TONG-ah).

Broken down into separate words, his name is na qio ni Toga,  meaning “the shark of Tonga”

So YES.  Junia and Nicole are the parents of


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Happy week, everybody.

I’ll leave with this beautiful shot of the Milky Way over the hatchery sent to us by TT Wong, taken by her husband Steven on their stay here a few weeks ago.

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