21 November 2013

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21 NOVEMBER 2013  
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This is masi – cloth made from the local masi bush – and this particular piece of masi was given by one of my local friends to one of our very dear visiting friends this week.  It is one of the prettiest pieces of masi I’ve seen.  Masi cloth has a nice texture, and it is used for things like traditional wedding attire, wall hangings, book covers and grave dressing.
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Traditionally the patterns all have meanings.  The black is produced from lamp soot, the brown is produced either from mud or from mangrove stain (I forget).   I feel I can put this masi in my weekly update because we actually have the masi plant growing here.  And we have friends with the expertise to make some beautiful masi cloth from it someday.  (By the way, this is called tapa cloth in some other places.)
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We also have a mulberry growing near the cottage here this week.    There is a connection.   The masi plant and the mulberry bush are floral first cousins.
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MORE WILD FOOD
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These are fiddle head ferns – called “ota” here.   We don’t have them at the farm, but we buy them from the market. They are not cultivated.  Folks just go in the woods and get them..
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 We eat the leaves and the tender part of the stem – which is only the distal 3-4 inches or so.  They are yummy when lightly cooked and served with raw coconut cream, lemon juice, onion, and chilli (all this together is called “miti”).   The yummiest part is the little fiddlehead.
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DR. DISASTER
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Austin is predicting another big hurricane.  One suggestive detail is that a wasp built its nest low in one of our closets. That also happened last year.  Another suggestive detail is that our breadfruit tree has a huge number of baby breadfruits.  That also “also happened” last year.  The breadfruit tree got totally creamed by cyclone Evan, and I’m really surprised to see all these fruits this year.    So if we do get clobbered in the next few months – remember this prognostication when my blog doesn’t come out for 4 weeks due to a power outage…..
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I wonder if the insane profusion of angel trumpet flowers is also a sign?  We’ve never seen so many on the bush at one time
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THE BIG DRAMA I MISSED
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There was a massive swarm of wild bees while I was in Suva last weekend.   Akka got some photos of the swarm on the tree.
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He didn’t get photos of Austin in the bee suit, smoking them to sleep, gathering them up somehow – he says they were the size of two large American footballs (rugby balls) – and getting them into a bee box.
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The hive is now on a wheelbarrow, sitting on the terrace where the orchid house is to go.   Austin moves the hive about a meter a night – has to move it that slowly to get it to its final destination, or the bees will get disoriented and angry.
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For now they are happy.
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TEDDY BEAR TREE
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I took my camera with me to Suva just so I could get a shot of this tree.  I fell in love with it when I saw it on my last trip.  I’ve seen lots of trees with plants growing on them, but never one so totally covered.  It reminds me of a teddy bear – and if my little granddaughter who adopted my teddy bear can come to visit, I will take her to see the teddy bear tree.
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SPIFFING UP
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Akka and Monica have been working hard to get the Teitei ready for guests.   This is the path to the cottage…. white stones to help folks aim themselves in the right direction at night.
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6 thoughts on “21 November 2013

  1. I love masi because it’s so specifically Fijiian. It’s just beautiful. And are your bees free flying? I thought they were caged but they don’t look caged. Thanks for the pictures and let’s hope the fine Doc has overreacted. Ok?

    • We’ll just have to get you some masi then! As for bees, they are all free-flying – otherwise they could never get the pollinating business done. Domesticated bees have their hives in boxes conveniently provided by humans, who feel it’s a good trade getting pounds of honey as rental income. Wild bees find other accommodations for their hives If the rental digs are sub-standard (like too low to the ground and toads being a constant hazard), domesticated bees will swarm away, i.e go wild. (we had that happen in Palau). We are pretty sure that the colony the guys just captured from the tree were last living in our neighbor’s house, in his wall.

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