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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21 June 2018

2018-06-21 new dog whats-her-name Cr

We have a new family member (maybe temporarily) – little What’s-Her-Name.  She is/was Monica’s pup, but Monica is (maybe temporarily) overseas.  Anyway, she came to us with a lot of names: Daino, Jumbo, Dino.  For a female??   I’ve been calling her Domino.   But someone else is calling her Blackie.  I’ll let you know if she stays and what name ends up sticking.

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First trip to the other side of Nausori in a loooooooong time.

2018-06-15 Rewa River Cr

This is the Rewa River – more impressive than my photo.

2018-06-15 cattle xing minus exit Cr

Cattle on the road.

2018-06-15 Neumi's chicken house R

The goal:  delivering 6 dozen chicks to the owner of this “chicken house.”  It is quite a nice structure, but very odd for a chicken house.  There are no roosting poles or nesting boxes.  I love kerosene lamps hanging low.  Anyway, I took lots of photos to show to Austin – but he’s been too busy to look at them.  The owner wants another 14 dozen chicks!  Good Lord!  I want to make sure that Austin knows his set-up will work before he invests in such a huge flock.

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Inside a prosperous home in a village:

2018-06-15 Old European room R

I loved this – there are curtains around a bed in the main room.  It is very much like the old European homes.   In the director commentary of the movie “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” – this aspect of the set was pointed out.  🙂

2018-06-15 Priorities R

And priorities, priorities!  Big screen TV.   Relative in the “developed world” is envious!

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Construction Project Updates

2018-06-21 tree house to date R

Tree house – good to go!  A few “extras” to add – but this is basically DONE.

2018-06-15 Chicken on porch solution Cr

A solution to keep the roosters and hens off my porch!   Guy did this before he left: wire mesh above the gate and on the first window only.  I always objected to covering all the windows – and it really was not necessary.  YAY.

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Permaculture Workshop with 18 people is going on – it is crazy here.  The only shots I got was these.

2018-06-19 altering a cane knife Cr

Altering the cane knives.

machete with hook stock

That started out looking like this.

2018-06-19 altered cane knives Cr

And now look like THIS.

Why, Junia, why?  I asked.   He answered, because the hooks get caught on brush when they are using them to chop and drop.   He has no idea what the hooks are used for.  They don’t need them.

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A bit of cuteness:

2018-06-21 Alice and chicks Cr

Granddaughter Alice and some chickies.

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Fijian Word for the Week

“People”  is  tamata.

There are plenty tamata  here right now.

(I have no idea how to say this whole sentence correctly in Fijian yet – a wild guess is Sa levu na tamata ikei wale saraga oqo.   Watch next week for the inevitable correction. )

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Happy week, everybody.

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14 June 2018

Happy FIVE YEARS to this blog!  FIVE YEARS !!!!!   I was going to quit at this date, but because of a bit of urging, we’ll slog along awhile longer.

This issue is coming out four hours late.  Here is why:

2018-06-14 workshop prep 1 R


2018-06-14 workshop prep 2 Cr


Prep for workshop.  We have TWENTY participants coming on Sunday for a five day workshop.  This is on the heels of non-stop Teitei guests … and in the midst of a lot of family arrivals.  Lucky us!

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Son Guy – lead carpenter on the tree house – left.  He was supposed to leave on Tuesday, but missed his plane because it actually left on Monday (ha ha) – so he finally got out on Wednesday.   This was the tree house when he said his second goodbye:

2018-06-12 and the lead carpenter left R

Now our friend Rakesh will step up and finish it, but Granddaddy is getting involved – and God only knows what it will be like when it is done.

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I went up to Leo’s garden by myself.  This is what I saw:

2018-06-13 Leo's garden 2 Cr

Cabbages.   and……

2018-06-13 Leo's garden 3 Cr

I don’t know what that is.

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All kinds of oddball photos in my phone this week

Here is where the truck conked out –

2018-06-12 end of the road - for now R

Best place possible to conk out – in the parking lot the day before we had to get guests and Guy to port and airport for very early connections.  We knew to arrange a different transport for them.   Man, if it had conked out on the way to Nadi at 6 a.m. it would have been a disaster!

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Goat in a trunk.

2018-06-10 goat in trunk Cr

Bridegroom and his dad came on the morning after the wedding to buy some roosters or a duck.   Austin had one duck he could spare (was going to just give it as a wedding present, since I didn’t take an envelope the night before) … but he could not catch her – tried for nearly 20 minutes.  Oh well.  So he put the value of the duck into the bridegroom’s hand.  As they got ready to leave, the groom mentioned he’d already gotten a goat.  First time I saw a goat transported like that.  Poor goat – about to be the chief guest at a feast.

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A morning rainbow (this is unusual) and a malabar chestnut flower.

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2018-06-14 farm watercolors haldi hibiscus lemon baking soda Cr

Finally …. watercolors from the farm.  Granddaddy goofing around with the grandkids.

2018-06-14 farm watercolors lemon on hibisicus on 1st paper

Hibiscus on new photocopy, painted with lemon juice.

2018-06-14 hibiscus lemon & baking soda on 2nd paper

Hibiscus on the old old photocopy paper, painted with baking soda water and dots of lemon juice.

2018-06-14 haldi with baking soda on 1st paper

Haldi (turmeric) on new paper, painted with baking soda water.

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HINDI Word of the Week (instead of Fijian)

Kaha?  means “Where?”

hammar  means “my”

Rakesh borrowed something from me, and before he left, I asked him,

Kaha hammar hammah?”   (I thought that was quite cute 🙂 )

(I didn’t know that word in Hindi anyway – although I do know it in Fijian:  tuki)


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Happy week, everybody.   Mo mamarau tiko.

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7 June 2018

2018-05-31 moon mist mountain morning R

Moon Mist Mountain Morning

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I hardly took photos this week.  More family arrived, and more guests, and a party.

What I really missed (Austin kept telling me to go get photos) was Leo’s Garden!  Something about peanuts????   Anyway, yesterday chickens got in there and trampled most of the bok choy.  Mami was sad and Guy was calling it a “bad luck day.”  I’ll try to get some garden photos next week – if it’s not totally destroyed.

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This is the way we roll.  Here is my latest Gate Latch.

2018-06-03 gate latch that works R

Desperate to keep the dogs off our porch at night, my most recent iteration is wedging a pole between gate and post, and anchored in the framing.  The dogs cannot pull the gate open, nor can they jump it.  Yay!   (Now to keep the chickens off.)

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Update on the mongoose situation.  Austin has killed 4 mongooses in the last two weeks.  There are only one or two still assaulting our poultry.

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More construction:  a Tree House!

2018-06-01 tree house in progress Cr

I was going to use this in the “history of the construction” report, except this is where construction has stalled, and the lead carpenter leaves on Tuesday … so we’ll have to see if we get more house or if this is it.

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2018-06-05 pizza oven in use 1 Cr

PIZZA oven.  HOT fire.

2018-06-05 pizza oven in use 2 Cr

YUMMY pizza.   Totally worth the work to make that oven.

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Fijian Word of the Week

Maleka  (ma-LEH-ka) means “delicious”

Maleka sarega (ma-LEH-ka  sa-reng-AH) bumps it up a level to “truly delicious”

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Have a happy week, everybody – with some treats that are maleka sarega.

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31 May 2018

2018-05-27 SPIF tapa 5 Cr

I never saw masi (or “tapa” – a kind of bark cloth from the Pacific) like THIS one before.

Fact is, I was at a meeting held in a room at the South Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, and there were beautiful tapa cloth items on display all around the room.   I went around and got a photo of every one that was not hidden under a screen.  Some looked Fijian, some looked Tongan (I think I can recognize both) – and many were just SOOOOO different.  There are 19 photos, cropped tiny for blog purposes, and I will try to put them up in their display order.  If you would like to see a larger photo of any particular one, just let me know.

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eeeeek.   That is a tiny little eek for a very very tiny spider.

2018-05-30 Akka spider Cr

Akka saw this on his hand and said it had long legs and red spots.  I could hardly see the spider, but Akka got proof with his photo.

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I KNOW you want to know about the oven…..

2018-05-26 oven spit Cr

First use was Kiki grilling sausages over the chimney.

2018-05-26 oven baked buns Cr

Second use was baking buns.  Verdict:  needed more coals.

2018-05-29 oven kiln Cr

Third use was as a kiln.  Hot enough!  Those figurines are fired!

(I won’t mention the oven again unless somebody finally makes pizza…)

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This is just for pretty.

We had another Holy Day in the middle of the night….

2018-05-29 Pavillion at dawn R

And THIS was the Pavillion at dawn.   Awwww……

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It’s not much of a photo –

2018-05-29 Black Friday Fiji really Flood Relief Cr

– but we’ve had crowds of people outside the hardware stores every day for the last few weeks.  They aren’t waiting for the store to open: it is already open.  Black Friday?  NO, there is no sale going on.   Protests?  No, not at all!

What is going on is a hunk of government assistance – “farm care” and “home care” to the places hit by the floods and hurricane.   The hardware stores have more business than they can handle – so they let customers come in 20 at a time only.   First time I’ve ever seen this.

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The Fijian Word of the Week is

voli – to buy

volivoli  – to sell

dau volivolitaki – vendor

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Happy week everybody.  Mo mamarau tiko!

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