15 November 2018


Austin and I spent more than half the week at Plantation Island where he was doing coral work.  Before we left,

2018-11-11 Bryce on Plantation Is. R

thirteen year old “nephew” Bryce came to visit.  We became close to his family a few years ago when they were in Fiji.  He was hankering to come back and we said sure.  Kicking off his 3-week stay at Plantation was definitely a bonus!

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One night at Plantation I saw one of the ODDEST things I’ve ever seen  (Austin was making me come over to see it):  a catfish ball.

2018-11-11 catfish ball 1 Cr

They look like little algae patches.  In this photo there are actually two catfish balls.  The near one is tight and is made up of baby catfish.  The further one is looser and is made up of toddler catfish.  They are “stinging catfish” (reportedly.  I kept my distance.)

2018-11-11 catfish ball 2 R

Here are the babies, close up.

2018-11-11 catfish ball 3 Cr

This is the best photo of the toddlers.

And a big THANK YOU to Desmond who sent me the photos he took, since I didn’t have my camera with me.

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Came back to the farm, where it was rain, rain and more rain.  I shouldn’t complain, it has been so dry for so long … but this is my excuse for not getting out and around.

Bryce is desperate to go fishing, so I spent all rainy yesterday inside repairing the old fishing net.  It consisted of cutting the poles and the weights off the old net, and sewing the new net to both.

Took me All Day!   At least it turned out well 🙂

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Soso is “mud.”  Why would I be thinking of that?

Anyhow there is a fancy development going up near Nadi:  Naisoso.  They advertise it as being “so so wonderful.”   Ha!  Their name means The Mud.

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Happy week, everybody.

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8 November 2018

Because I wasn’t the only one who thought our “lambs” looked an awful lot like goats….  Dr. Smarty Pants tells me you can tell they are lambs because of the tails.  Lambs have floppy down tails.  Yes:  Larry, Curly and Mo have floppy down tails. (no photos – they aren’t inside the pool fence any more – God only knows where they are by day, at night they sleep up near the water tank.  When I went up to get a photo of their tails, they got scared and ran away before I could point ant shoot.)

Anyhow.  These are goat tail.


Stubby sticky-up tails.  Who’d have noticed?

Fauna for the week – check.

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These are Surinam cherries.

2018-11-07 Surinam cherry Cr

Austin just got the bush and will plant it here.  I remember it growing as a hedge at my friends’ house in Miami when I was a kid.  Fruits tasted the same on their bush, a little astringent.

Flora for the week – check.

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So … an update on the Sigatoka fire that happened while I was gone.

I re-posted this photo on my Facebook on 1st October.

Sgtka fire from FB 2 oct 18 R

This was 4 stores in downtown Sigatoka, just beside the bus stand.

2018-10-25 Sgtka fire damage R

When I got home and went to town on 25 October, it looked like this and still smelled like cinders.

2018-10-28 Sgtka fire Kishor on the job R

A few days later I got this photo of clearing being done.   The main point is that the digger driver is “our guy” Kishor who has done all the digging here at the farm.  And also that progress was being made.

2018-11-06 sgtka fire all cleaned out R

By Tuesday of this week, all the clearing was done.

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Wednesday – yesterday – was Diwali.  People come and bring sweets.   Austin offered some of HIS diwali sweets to a guest.

2018-11-07 Diwali sweets soap R


Those are soaps he made in a workshop.

2018-10-27 workshop soap R

The day I got home from overseas, 14 people arrived for a week-long workshop.

2018-10-28 workshop crowd R

Then 8 more people were here during the week I was in Suva.  Busy busy.  They all cleared out last Friday, as I came home.  It’s been a peaceful week.

Except for Diwali.

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Diwali is time for sweets.  It is also time for firecrackers.  Every night people are setting them off, and the noise scares the dogs who rush to hide near us.

Yesterday was Diwali itself. Some neighbors and friends were setting off firecrackers in the yard while they visited on the veranda.  Two lit firecrackers went into the house unnoticed.  By the time a daughter noticed a burning smell, the mattress and curtains were ablaze … and the entire house and its contents turned to ash.

2018-11-07 Diwali neighbor fire R

Seems impossible that so much can be lost so fast.

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“Fire” is bukawaqa  (boo-ka-WAHNG-ga).

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Have a safe and happy week, everybody.

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1 November 2018

So much for “back at home now.”  I came to Suva for 2 days minus laptop…and am still here minus laptop.  Hence a teeny tiny blog off my phone.

I was sitting in the house when daughter-in-law Monica starts whooping it up.  She spotted a new orchid in the garden here

This lovely yellow one.

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Fijian word of the Week

“Flower” is senikau (senny-cow)

(I forget the word for “yellow”.  Learning Fijian slowly slowly.  “Slow” is vakamalua.)

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Happy week, everybody.

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25 October 2018

2018-10-24 Honey I'm home R

Honey, I’m HOME !!  (Our honey, plus the view from my kitchen sink – get it?  Ha ha)

I arrived Monday morning.  Two guests were leaving, and two truckloads of workshop participants were arriving (six gents from Kadavu and seven ladies from Taveuni).  No time to have a vacation from the vacation.

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First thing Austin wanted to show me was his LAMBS

2018-10-22 lambs R

Curly, Larry and Mo (Mo is the girl).   Curly and Larry both have curly fur.  I didn’t realize lambs have horns!  They look pretty much like goats to me.

2018-10-22 lambs mow Cr

Mo really lives up to her name (“mow”).   I thought my guys had finally cleaned up around the pool, but it turns out the sheep did it.  🙂

Now Junia and Nicole let them out of the pool area in the afternoons and they are mowing down more of our overgrown compound.  Yay.

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Not a Weed (any more)

This is costus – a plant that grows beside the road here, and springs up in gardens in Suva.   Some Americans know it as “crepe ginger.”

2018-10-24 edible costus 3 R

(and here is a stock photo of a costus flower)

costus flower stock.jpg

A few workshops back Austin discovered that the chickens LOVE costus, and so he renamed it “chicken cabbage.”   The chickens kept gobbling it up, and so eventually Austin started wondering if people ever eat it.

Surprise!  Vietnamese treasure it as a vegetable – so Austin had to give it a go.

He chopped it up.

2018-10-24 edible costus 1 R

Then he played with it.

2018-10-24 edible costus 2 Cr

Then he cooked it.  (no photo for that)

And it is DELICIOUS !!!

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All I’ve got left is dogs and dog stories.

Here the dogs are all at attention because Austin had a mongoose in a trap.

2018-10-24 dogs at attention R

At dinner he complained that the dogs let the mongoose go.  How could they open the trap?  I wondered.  Turns out Austin opened the trap, planning that they would get it, but the mongoose was too clever for the dogs.  ha ha.

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And here is my good news corner – the Dog that Did Well.

Remember the little dog we were stuck with in May … and finally our yard-worker Ratu decided he wanted her.  We let her go – but we felt a little sad, because most village dogs  don’t thrive.  Money is tight.  Well, Dino has been trotting over here with Ratu on the days he works.

2018-10-24 Dino comes to visit Cr

As you can see, she is looking great!  His family loves her – and keeping her well fed is a top priority.  Gives you a good feeling for the world.

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I was going to give you the word for “forget” because I stopped studying while I was away, but I forgot the word for “forget”

So I’ll give you “dog” instead:  koli.   Think “collie” and you’ll remember.  It’s just collie with a long O at the front.

“Cat” is pusi (poo-see) or vusi (voo-see).  Easy peasy.

“Horse” is ose (kind of between oh-say and aw-say).

It’s pretty easy to tell that these animals were introduced to Fiji by English speakers.  Rats weren’t.  Rat is kalavo.

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Happy week, everybody!

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6 September 2018

SURPRISE – I’m back so soon.

And NO – nobody sent any photos or news from home … But I’m blogging anyway because I had a treat I wanted to share.  I got to volunteer for a day on a local farm !  Oh goody !  Take a vacation from the farm to go to a farm – ha ha ha.

A visit to see the new piggies had my eyes popping out of my head:

2018-09-02 Some Pig with piglet Cr

What a humongous sow!  I expected to see a cobweb announcing “Some Pig”

I had the delightful-to-me job of getting to organize some storage.

2018-09-02 Canadian chicken - eh Cr

And then a curious party wandered in.  AW…. made me feel right at home.

And fun:  Tools and signage.

2018-09-02 In Case of Zombies R

In case you can’t read it – the big letters say “In Case of Zombies”

2018-09-02 In Case of Zombies Cr

And this is the fine print.

After the sorting and organizing, I got to break up garlic for planting.  My bigger grandkids and their dad did a lot of weeding.  The kids also did stick-picking-up and tractor riding.  We scored a tour, a delicious lunch, and a bunch of organic produce and meat to take home.   Way more going on that my few photos share show.

This wonderful place is Laurica Farm.  Here is their Facebook page:   https://www.facebook.com/lauricafarm/?ref=br_rs

And of additional interest there is the house they are building out of hemp!  They have a page for that, too:  https://www.facebook.com/lauricafarmhemphouse/?ref=br_rs

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First, I want to you remember that Vinaka vakalevu  means  “thank you very much” – and literally, word by word, means “good with plenty”  because vinaka  means “good”  vaka means “with”  and levu  means “big” or “a lot”.   OK?

So the word for this week is  Vuaka  (voo-AH-ka).   It means “pig.”    Probably the sentence I should say is  Sa levu na vuaka.   (“Is big the pig.”)     But I’m not going to.  I’m going to say

Vuaka  Vakalevu

and wait and see if anyone corrects me.  🙂

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Happy week (or more), everybody.  I may be gone now until 25 October … or not.

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30 August 2018

Pretty, pretty this week.  I went to an Indian wedding.  (Once again, I apologize for the poor photo quality)

The decorations were as pretty as I’ve ever seen.  The cloth was brilliant.  The elephants, majestic.

2018-08-25 wedding music Cr

We wait, we wait – we listen to the music.  (I didn’t notice that kettle until I formatted the photo – I find it endearing.)

2018-08-25 wedding groom Cr

We spy the groom – doing his set of ceremonies.

I admire the dresses of the guests.

New styles.  New colors.  More embroidery.  Brand new sticker art for the back.  Friends who normally look fairly plain suddenly looking like princesses.

Kiki asks me why the ladies are showing their skin.  I tell him it is just the style, it is ok – and I show him that even I have a little bit of skin showing.  Shock!

2018-08-25 wedding bride 1 Cr

Finally the bride appears.  Such a beautiful bride.

2018-08-25 wedding bride 2 R

Here is a better shot of her clothes.

2018-08-25 wedding mother-of-the-bride Cr

And then the mother of the bride – looking so lovely.  She wears her sari with the drape part to the front, and clipped up to her hair.

** At this point Kiki was really tired and wanted to leave.  We went to eat – it is rude to leave before eating, and besides which the food is delicious.  So I left before the circling the hawan (sacred fire).  I just didn’t have the extra time.  We were there for two hours, and the family knows that we wish them well.

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Very soon I was out the door for Hawaii.  I made it.  Didn’t take any photos until the airport on departure.  I looked down, and AWWWWWWW…….

The Japanese garden – looking better than ever.  Isa!  When my kids were little and we lived in Micronesia, we used to have to spend hours at HNL, and would often go down to spend time in the beautiful garden.

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And today, first whole day in Canada:

Play Abby, and indoor kiddy park.  I tried to give a feeling for the SIZE of this place, but couldn’t.  Easily 2 stories tall.  Capacity of 210 people at any one time.  Great, fun, safe place.  (with free WIFI … Hi!!!  It is really hopping with people now.)

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“Play” is qito  (ngGHEE-toe).  That is active, physical play.

“Play” is also vakatatalo (va-ka-ta-TAH-lo).  But that is sit down or imaginative play.

Funny thing about qito is that you take away one letter and you get qio (ngGHEE-o) which is “shark.”   Makes me think about “bless” – which is a great thing in English, and “injury” in French (blessé).   Let the foreign language user beware.

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Happy week, everybody.

Maybe Happy Month or Happy Two Months.  Here is the deal:  I’m not getting back to Fiji until the fourth week of October.  I have found my blogs from Canada and Hawaii to be boring, nothing I want to do more of.  If folks from home send me photos and stories from Fiji, I will happily put them up – but otherwise I’m taking a vacation.   SO –

I will see you next week, or 25 October, or some time in between.

Moce mada.  (Bye bye)

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23 August 2018


2018-08-21 burn scabs Cr

Still so dry here.  We woke up one morning to see that a lot of the mountain to our south had been burned off – never noticed the fire.  This isn’t a “burn scar” – because scars last forever, and this one will disappear in a few weeks.   Maybe it is a “burn scrape.”

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2018-08-17 hen toenail globs 1 R

Austin is holding a hen – what’s different about that?

2018-08-17 hen toenail globs 2 Cr

Because she has balls of packed dirt on her toenails.  Apparently this is common, the stuff is hard as cement, and it makes it impossible to scratch for food.  Who’d have imagined?

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Remember the beautiful globe light for the pavilion from last October?  Well, in spite of my varnishing, the elements took a toll on the bamboo.

2018-08-18 gold ball light 1 Cr


So last April when the big storm was coming, we took the lamp down lest it get cracked up in the wind – and we had the great plan of painting it before re-hanging.  Plus, the friends who gave it to us were planning to come in August.  Plenty of time.

Oh my God – it was August already!  And they were coming on the 19th!  Oh Lordy!

2018-08-18 gold ball light 1 R

Akka hung the ball beside the tree house on the morning of the 18th.

2018-08-18 gold ball light 2 Cr

In less than half an hour, and after two cans of spray paint, the globe was looking pretty good.   (Photo is of “in progress” – not of “finished job”)

It was dry by afternoon.

And it sat.

Next day, our guests came.   The ball sat on the dining table.   We had a lovely visit anyway.

Xav, the little angel who came up with the idea of making ornaments to sell to raise money for the Happy Chicken project (original article HERE), had a new donation to give.

2018-08-19 Xav and the HC donation R

Austin was so happy.  He decided that this money will be earmarked for shipping the first Happy Chickens from our farm to other island nations in the region.  Biosecurity is giving the final inspection TODAY.

Then our friends left, and two days later:

2018-08-23 gold ball light 3 Cr

TA DA !!

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Cagi (THAHng-ee) is “wind.”

Cagilaba (THAHng-ee-LAM-ba) is “hurricane.”

I’m supposed to fly to Hawaii on Sunday, and a big cagilaba is trying to go there, too.  Which of us is REALLY going to Hawaii?

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Happy week, everybody.

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