29 May 2014

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Me to C.  (dear guest):  You ever see horses transported like this in Austratla?
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C.:  No.
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Me:  Not in America either.
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A TRIP TO THE BEACH WITH AUSTIN
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C. and I accompanied Austin to the coast while he was on a hunt for leaves for making a local medicine.  This is the beach we call Ludi’s Beach.
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Aha!  the first plant Austin needs – beach morning glory – a VINE.   (Remember I decided to study vines?).
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Here it is in profusion.
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I was fascinated with these tree roots.   Austin said, “prop roots”  I asked him what tree it was.   “You know that tree,” he said, “look at the leaves”
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Pandanus.  Yes, I know the tree – the leaves are used for mats.  I just never noticed the roots. 
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Next thing Austin noticed  was the slide mark on this tall sand slope.   He said a dog had slid down rubbing its belly in the sand for the whole length of the hill.   “How do you know it was a dog, Austin?” I asked.
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“Because of the paw prints,”     (Cue Kim slapping forehead.)
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Austin and C. climbed to the top,  I went up about 1/3 of the way.  He took my camera:  I’m the orange speck below.
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Austin took a bunch of panorama shots from up there – here is one.
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Some local guys arrived.  One brought a horse to break.   I don’t know if breaking a horse is ever done in the water in the States – it is the standard method in Fiji.
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As we were walking back to the truck Austin found this piece of old lava (pumice) and was eager to show it off to C. and me.   See the thready parts in the inside – that shows how it was molten and pulled like glass.
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Last thing as we were leaving, Austin noticed this jaw piece in the sand.  C. had already picked it up and I said “Put it back!  I need a photo!”   They were debating Pig or Dog – and decided it is Dog.   Oh goody.
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At this point we were finished with Ludi’s beach, but not with our mission.   
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Next stop MANGROVES, trees that live in salt water on the coast.   Austin needed the aerial roots for the medicine.   (You forgot we were collecting herbs for medicine, didn’t you …. yeah – I did, too!)
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Near the mangroves, he found another tree he needed – “siri” – or something like that.  He couldn’t remember if he needed the bark or the leaves – so he got both.   By the way, this medicine is a tonic that Junia’s mother Palu used to make.   It had about a dozen different ingredients – Austin was going for the 5 he thought were the most important.  This medicine is good at reducing blood sugar and we were making it for a dear friend who was having a lot of trouble with her diabetes.    When Austin had the “siri” – he had 3 herbs of the 4 on the coast he was going for.
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Next stop – a beach in Cuvu – owned by Fiji Sugar Corporation.  We were kind of trespassing – but the security guard turned out to be an old friend of Austin’s and was happy to let us park there.  
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And here was the other vine he needed.  I have no idea what it is called.  It has a yellow flower.  It grows there.   
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The fifth herb is papaya leaves that we had back at the farm.   I was not around while Austin and Junia made the medicine, it did not take long.  By the next morning they sent a bottle of medicine for our friend.   She’s been taking it for nearly a week and her blood sugar readings are much improved.
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          *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
 
~~~  HAPPY HOLY DAY,  my fellow Baha’is. ~~~
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          *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

22 May 2014

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Fiji does not have any local commercial hot sauce!  Considering how many people like very spicy food, and considering how many local businesses produce packaged foods, we have an unexploited niche market, folks.  Akka gets into a hot sauce making mood about once every 3 months.  He made some this week.  Above is the hottest chili pepper on the farm – a Caribbean pepper our friend Maki brought.
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This is the bush – pretty shot – but it is still producing after 2 years.  The local pepper bushes give out after about six months.
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And these are the little rokete chillies (“rocket’)..   The other kind of chili common in Fiji is the “bongo” pepper – we don’t have any growing right now.
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Akka blended the chillies with limes from the property.  Here he shows our 2 main limes – the key lime on the right, and the big seedless lime on the left.
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Here proving that the big one really is seedless.   (How did we get that tree then? … must have come as a sapling.)
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This time the hot sauce is in an old vinegar bottle.  The joke of course is that the neck is so wide you end up with a triple serve of fire on the food.
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While I’m showing citrus, here are some supermarket style lemons growing here!  Surprise!  At least I was surprised.   Also in the bowl are some thick-skinned oranges in season.
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And a tree full of sweet mandarins, just by our front door.  These mandarins peel almost like tangerines.  Since this photo was taken, we’ve sent neighbors home with bags full of them.
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SPEAKING OF FOOD
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Austin came to the house with this paper wasp nest.   He said the larvae are good eating.  I thought he was joking, but he swears that he and our carpenter from Moce Island ate the larvae before, cooked in garlic butter, and that they were delicious.   I was willing to give them a try – but most of the larvae were gone already.   And then Vina sprayed the nest with insecticide.  Gee thanks.
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 Maybe next nest.
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RARE MORNING RAINBOW
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This was out my bedroom window – with the end of the rainbow touching our far property.
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READING THE LAND
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While in town, I was looking at the muddy river and the blue sky – and I realized it meant “there was a storm and it has passed.”
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I knew about the recent storm anyway from the rain a few days earlier – but it was interesting to realize I could learn to read the land a little better, also.    Heavy rain and a blue river would mean “the rain is only on the coast”
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OUT OF SEASON
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I was smitten by this flowering tree on Valley Road – when there are no other flowering trees.  So pretty, but somehow also not making sense.
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On second look – it is not a flowering tree, but a flowering vine ON the tree.   Whoa!
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And then I clued up on my old Wall of Green problem.
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Where everything is green.
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featureless even, and I have no idea what I’m looking at.
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I think the answer is vines.   NOW – to start knowing our vines!
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15 May 2014

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Ok – here is the Suva house now.
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Compared to Suva house 8 and half years ago.   Sorry I could not get it from exactly the same angle:  there is too much foliage in my neighbor’s yard now for a clear shot.    Nobody else is impressed with the breakneck  growth here?  ….   And along the same lines – you remember the swayback horse helping water baby cabbages (24 April) – 3 weeks ago?  This afternoon all the mature cabbages from that same field were bundled for market..
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ODD MINI-CLIMATE FACT

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I was always confused about the weather when we first moved to Sigatoka Valley.  If it was a clear morning, we would have rainy weather.  If it was really socked in with fog, that was the sign that the day would be sunny and clear through sunset.  It didn’t make any sense to me, but I have learned to accept it.   The above photo was about 8 am.
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This was about 10 a.m.
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This was about 2 p,m.
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And this was about 5 p.m.   If some climatologist wants to explain the connection between dry forecast and morning fog – I’d be happy to hear it.  Fog here never shows up for rainy days.
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CREATURES CORNER
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Austin caught another mongoose.  This was number 29.  Number 28 – last week – was even bigger, but I didn’t get photos.
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I told them I’d done mongooses in the blog already.   (This is Akka showing the dead critter off.)
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But they said it’s not boring, it’s fun.    For me, not so.
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I do have a mongoose follow up story, though.   I told you before that they must be pretty bad eating if a dog won’t eat them (22 August 2013).   Well, this particular mongoose got itself skinned and barbecued when I wasn’t looking ….. and the puppies were all at it, chowing down as if they were nursing on their mother.   That was an odd sight, too nauseating for me to photograph, but something else just felt ODD about it.
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Tarsi was looking on at them eating it.   Tarsi was not in there herself, chowing down and growling the young ‘uns away.   Akka said he cut a hunk of cooked mongoose meat off the leg and threw it to Tarsi earlier.   She chewed a second and spit it out.
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Here are the little darlings now – several days later and none the worse for eating that stinky mongoose. Three of them will be going to their new homes soon.
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This is the one who is staying.
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SIGATOKA HOSPITAL
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I visited a friend at the hospital this week, and was surprised to see mosquito nets hung.   The patient wards are fully screened.   I found out that the administration had ordered the nets because of the dengue outbreaks.  No problem on that count up our way for awhile now.
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And I found the family at the neighboring bed endearing.  They have set up a little home base on the floor beside the patient bed: mat, pillows, electric kettle!    This was not allowed on the big wards at the hospital in Pohnpei, and is not necessary in the private rooms with visitor recliners in the States.  If there is such a thing as “Second World” I think that’s where Fiji is.
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The boys (Akka and Junia) thought this painted tree was neat.   Who painted it green like this?
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God did.
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8 May 2014

5-8-14 Tunisian lamp 2  Cr

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I love having guests here!  Every one of them brings something interesting and surprising to our lives.  This week we learned to make a Tuniesian lamp.
.5-8-14 Tunisian lamp 1  Cr
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Our sweet Tunesian guest was really chowing down on half an orange one night.   Then pouring olive oil into the rind.   Then taking a match to the orange’s spongy core.  It was too thick.  He thinned it a few times and finally got it going.  Once lit, a lamp like this will burn all night long.
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5-8-14 banana mousse R
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And his lovely German wife gave a cooking suggestion to Monica that has completely revolutionized desserts here.   She suggested smashing the frozen bananas and adding cocoa powder.   Monica took it two steps further.  She stuck the bananas in the food processor with the cocoa powder – creamy delicious.  And then she thought to add coconut milk to it.  Dear God in heaven!  It is like a perfect soft serve ice cream or a lovely mousse.  And no added sugar!  Unbelievable!
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5-8-14 moth brown Cr
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MORE MOTHS
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A friend from NC identified my “humpback” moth (24 April ’14) as a tobacco moth.   Well, well.   There is a tobacco factory about 3 kiometers down the road, but I’d never though of it in insect terms.   We’re seeing a lot of different moths right now, and Akka has a thing for them – is always having me go grab my camera.  This is a brown moth with orange gussets that always seems to be around.
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5-8-14 moth green  Cr
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But this little green beauty has just come to our attention.   I’m always happy for information if somebody can tell me more about either of them.
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5-8-14 beetle grubs in chicken pen R
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CHICKEN RUGBY
 
Austin found more rhinoceros beetle grubs. (They’ll keep you from starving, but won’t kick steak off the menu.)   This batch went straight to the chickens.   If you throw anything that looks like worms to chickens, they go crazy excited, but that didn’t happen with the grubs  – too fat, I’m guessing.   Instead the chicks circled around suspiciously for a long time.
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5-8-14 beetle grubs in chicken pen  Cr
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Finally Red here got curious.  He grabbed one grub and ran for a corner.  Others pursued.  Somebody else grabbed a grub – ran for another corner.   Chicks tussled over the “prizes” and then someone realized there were still more grubs in the tray.  After 15 minutes, there was no trace left.   They play for keeps.
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5-8-14 what an egg  R
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THIS IS RIDICULOUS
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I know I’ve shown you a goose egg already, but I saw this when I walked into the kitchen this week.  What the heck?!    It was a double goose egg.
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5-8-14 red earlobe hen
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AND NOW WE KNOW
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You can’t tell what color eggs a chicken is going to lay from its feathers.  All colors of chickens can lay white eggs or brown ones.  Most of the eggs we get are brown, but we get a few white ones.  Where are they coming from?    Not from the hen above.
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5-8-14 red earlobe rooster
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Not fathered by this rooster.
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5-8-14 white earlobe rooster
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Could be fathered by this rooster.
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5-8-14 white earlobe hen
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THIS is the one!  This is the white egg mother!    You can tell by the “earlobes” – the normally red fleshy part around where you’d expect ears.  See!
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And that’s my week.   Love to all y’all.
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1 May 2014

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You might remember a couple of months ago I mentioned how PROUD I am of our good paved road.  I still am.  And there is even a clear kilometer marker at our road so I can tell guests exactly where our feeder road is.  We are at Km 19.2
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I just don’t know if it is REALLY 19.2, and if it will stay that way.  Here are a couple of other kilometer markers between Sigatoka and us.
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There should be a football field between these two markers.
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And a whole half-K between these two.   Oops!
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TANOA – THE GROG BOWL
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Drinking grog (yaqona) is an ancient sacred custom in Fiji – seen at the recent funeral.   After the kava (another name for yaqona) itself, the most important thing is the tanoa – the grog bowl.   Everybody sits around the grog bowl.  Traditionally there is a notch that points to the highest ranking person present – and there is a piece of coconut fiber rope (magimagi) with a cowrie shell (buli) which is attached and points to the chief.  If there is no one of high traditional rank, the magimagi and buli are removed.    Above is a photo of a very beautiful grog bowl – available for sale at the tourist shop.
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Here is a photo of a tanoa from a few weeks ago at the funeral.  You can see that it is wooden and large.  It also has pvc pipe reinforcing the broken legs.   Informally, friends will often drink kava from a plastic basin or a bucket.
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My personal favorite – and this was at a formal event, though not with a chiefly person present – was this tanoa made from a fishing float and a sawed off traffic cone.
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BREAKNECK GROWTH
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It occurs to me that all of you living in temperate zones probably cannot imagine the speed of the growth of trees here.  My photos are kind of shabby, but this is a shot of a royal palm Austin planted in 2005 – about 9 years ago.
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Here’s a shot of another one.   These are around our house in Suva.
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Here’s our house in 2005 – no trees in the yard at all.   The little royal palm in the front had grown to about 25 feet or more a couple of years ago and the Electric Company (FEA) cut it down.  (Yes, I know – I should have tried to get a current shot of our house from this angle.   Maybe next time I go to Suva…)
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Another example is this big tree –  I remembered there was a little news story when it got planted.   Here  –  http://news.bahai.org/story/366
The trees were a spontaneous activity – a brainstorm of Austin’s – and I’d forgotten that I was quoted in the article …. but anyway.   We know from this story that that tree is exactly 9 years old.  Of the 4 that were planted in April 2005.   two died, two are still living.   This one is towering over the coconut tree.
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KIDS!
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I’ve been seeing a lot of baby goats around – snapped these two cuties on the road right below our house.   I want some!
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MORE ABUNDANCE
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After the huge tamarind crop last year, I thought the tree was going to take a season off.   I was really surprised to see it full of fruit again already.   You’ll notice that the fruits are smaller – but WOW – plenty of them!
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