31 July 2014

2014-07-30 stock icicles
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We’re freezing!  (ok – so this photo is “borrowed” from google images – that is what it has been feeling like)
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 2014-07-29 55F - 2  R
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Behold our thermometer.  If you can see the red line – it is 3/4 way between 40 and 60 Fahrenheit, or just above 12 Celsius.  Sheesh!
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2014-07-29 Cold morning  R
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Here is a photo of a cold morning.  I get no visual clues between this and a foggy-gonna-be-clear “normal” morning.  The really hard thing about this temperature situation for me is that I’m starting to actually adjust to it and am fine in shirt sleeves when it gets up to 64.  Summer is going to be harder than normal, even if the temperatures are not elevated.
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2014-07-26 brilliant morning rainbow  R
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Here is what one cold morning gave us.   Translation:  Never Lose Hope.
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2014-07-27 huge bananas 2  R
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MONSTER BANANAS
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The cold weather isn’t hurting the produce.  Akka strained his back hanging this humongous stalk of bananas.   There is no trick photography to make these bananas look twice as big as normal.  They are.
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2014-07-28 horn worms 1  R
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HORN WORMS
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The cold isn’t discouraging the wildlife either.   The boys came up from the field all happy with this find of “horn worms” which are really the caterpillars for sphinx moths.   They are all from the same species – they are green while young, and brown when big.
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2014-07-28 horn worms 4  Cr
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The boys were calling these “elephant grubs” because of the long nose.   Austin is planning to put them in a jar and waiting for the moths to hatch  (some boys never grow up).
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CASSAVA FLOUR
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I can’t do the little photo essay on the cassava flour as planned because somebody was running around with no pants on, and came back with a poopy bottom; and when asked where the poop was, led his granddaddy to the sunning pile of grated cassava where there were a couple of buried lumps – just like kitty litter 🙂    OOPS.  So much for that batch.
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2014-07-30  compare cassava flours
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However here is the last of the earlier batch.   On the top is the fine flour – needs sifting.  This can be used for cakes, bread, rotis (flatbread).   Underneath is the coarser stuff – if it was wheat, this would be the “semolina” or “cream of wheat” – it is excellent for breading veggies and fish before frying.  Also there is a dry Indian pudding made of semolina called “halwah” – the cassava semolina works just as well for this dish.
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2014-07-29 mill mix R
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COOKIE PROJECT
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There are 28 kids from early elementary to high school age in a dorm just up the road from us.  Austin has been worrying about them since we moved here, but I’ve been more clueless.  Anyway, 2 sweet Kiwi volunteers at the school became our friends.   They did a diet survey if the hostel kids: lots of starch, a fair amount of greens, scanty protein.  Austin has plans to try to get a fish-chicken-egg project going for them – but the girls and I wanted to do something now – so we went with cookies.   Above is the “filler” – mill mix.
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2014-07-30 mill mix 2  Cr
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Although mill mix is mainly sold as animal feed  – it has all the bran and the wheat germ.  The flour mill turns it into cookies and Austin has used it in many baking projects.   The mill mix turned Katie’s 8 dozen cookies into 20 dozen very filling cookies.   18 cups of mill mix, 12 cups of flour, 6 tsp of baking powder, 12 cups of sugar, 12 grated coconuts, 2 dozen eggs, and some of the coconut water  – as 3 batches of dough and, I think, four bakings of about 60 cookies each.
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2014-07-27 cookie project  R
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This was the cooling of the last cookie sheet’s load..  Job well done!
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2014-07-27  hawan 2  R
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THAT MISSING PHOTO
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Last March I covered Day 13 of a Sanatan Hindu funeral, https://ffwrfromfiji.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/13-march-2014/
 and my camera battery died just when the ceremonial fire – the hawan – was being lit.   This week I went to a four-month follow up ceremony for the same gentleman.  Much of the ritual was the same and it ended with a hawan.
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Upcoming excitement for next week’s blog – the South Indians are just arriving at the temple down the road where they hold an annual FIREWALKING ceremony.  I will try to get some photos.
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2014-07-28 young cinnamon leaves  Cr
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LOVE THIS PINK
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These are the young leaves of a cinnamon tree.  There is always something pretty going on.
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*  *  *
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AN INVITATION
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Finally,  this week I set up a companion blog “FFWR Celebrating the Baha’i Calendar”  It is for all of you who would like to find out a little bit about the Baha’i Faith, to read a short passage from the Holy Writings every few weeks, and/or to see a few more pretty photos.  http://ffwrcelebratebahaicalendar.wordpress.com/
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*  *  *
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24 July 2014

24-07-14 billy 4  R

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This is Billy.   He belongs to a neighbor who lives about 1/2 km away.  She called one morning to say our dogs had attacked her goat at 1 am. We were doubtful, but Austin offered to pay for him anyway, but the owner said, no, maybe the goat would recover.  She called again in the afternoon to say the goat was doing badly, to come get it.  If he recovers, give him back, and if not, replace him later. … When Austin got home with him, our dogs were CRAZY EXCITED (so, hell yeah, they were guilty!!!).
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Billy’s doing FINE now.  Two shots of norocillin sent up by the vet.  Plenty of food.   The dogs are used to him now and are not bothering him.  He’ll go home soon.   And I bet we start seriously looking around for a young nanny goat.
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07-17- 14 cassava harvest 3  R
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CASSAVA STARCH
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On the way to making cassava flour, it is easy to make cassava starch.  This is step 2 – bringing it up.  (Pulling it out of the ground is step 1)
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07-17- 14 cassava peeling 1  R
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Next step – peeling it.   Cassava roots have a bark-like brown paper over a thick pink skin.  Both peel off very smoothly leaving a clean, white root.
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07-17- 14 cassava grated  R
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For flour, the next step is grating.   I missed it.  I think this was done in the food processor this time.  We used to do it with a hand mill.
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07-17-14 cassava drying 2  R
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Onto the roof it went for drying.   We didn’t even have good sunshine, but in 2 days it was dry anyway.
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07-17-14 hot water system  R
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While on the roof, would you like to see our fancy solar hot-water system?   Ha ha ha.   It works as long as you want your hot shower in the afternoon.
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07-17- 14 cassava starch  R
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Next step on the cassava – Akka soaked some of the grated cassava in water and got this starch.  Wet cassava starch has one of the oddest textures ever – it looks wet, feels dry, can be slowly sunk into, can be broken apart with a ragged edge. Weird, weird, weird.
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07-17-14 cassava pudding 1  R
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And the pudding made from the starch is weirder still!     It looks like snot.   We ate this in Palau, a dish called seb-O-seb-UH.   In Palau it was delicious, and our version was too.   Just close your eyes when you eat it.
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I will show the cassava flour next week.
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07-10-14 spathodia Cr
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STINKING SPATHODIA
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When my naturalist friend Keven was here, he admired the “beautiful” tree with the orange flowers.  Spathodia.  I tried to talk him out of it, but he kept insisting it was pretty.  It reminded me of an identical conversation 14 years ago when I thought it was pretty, and Austin was insisting it was an invasive pest.  On this matter Austin is right.
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07-17-14  spath (honeyed morning 1) cr
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Although spathodia was moving up the valley,  there was none blooming in view of our house, 20 km inland, when we moved here six years ago.  Now it is.
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07-17-14 Spath at funeral 1  R
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When I went to a funeral 2 km even further inland – behold.
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07-17-14 spath at Natadola 1  Cr
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On the way to the barbecue at Natadola (maybe 1/2 km from the beach).   UGH to the spathodia, although the horses were cute.
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24-07-14 spath 8  R
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Admittedly the spathodia flower has some visual appeal.
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07-17-14 Spath tofrom Jeswant 6  Cr
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But DON’T let it into your neighborhood.
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On, now, to happier things!
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24-07-14 cake 0  R
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A CAKE FOR THE LADY
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I promised Lady (one of my 2 best blogger cheerleaders) a cake this week.  This one has the crumb of a butter cake, but without the butter.
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24-07-14 cake 1 R
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It starts with frozen bananas, that I soaked to get a little soft.
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24-07-14 cake 3  R
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I got out my coconut oil, which was frozen since it was less than 72 degrees F (22 C).  I thawed one bottle.
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24-07-14 cake 2  R
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This is important – whip the bananas until they are smooth.
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24-07-14 cake 5  R
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Then blend in the coconut oil – to get it as close to “real butter” as possible.
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24-07-14 cake 6  R
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Here is Fiji sugar.  Both of them.  It is all cane sugar and the difference in color comes from the different time of crushing. The dark sugar is from the end of last crushing season – farmers burn their fields – the dark sugar came from burnt cane.   The pale sugar is from the beginning of the season.    Both sugars taste the same to me.   (I always store sugar in peanut butter jars.  Don’t ask why.)
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24-07-14 cake 7  R
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Anyway – you cream the “butter” and sugar –  and then carry on with mixing a cake as normal.   I did put some instant coffee in as well as cocoa power.
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24-07-14 cake 12  R
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Lady,  this bite is for you!
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*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

17 July 2014

07-17- 14 bananas  Cr

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We’ve got bananas again.   Whoop-dee-doo!  (Lots of food this week – I know one friend is going to enjoy it 🙂 )
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07-17-14 Natadola 1 R
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A BARBECUE AT NATADOLA
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Natadola is a really nice beach, site of a very ritzy resort, about 45 minutes from our home. Two members of our household decided we all had to go on a beach barbecue, and two other members decided it had to be at Natadola.  By the end, we were all glad with both decisions..
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But we were hardly out of the car before one of the ladies said, “Where are the fishing lines?” ….. They’d been forgotten.
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07-17-14 Natadola 5  R
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So instead of fishing, the girls went off on the exposed reef flat while the fellows barbecued.
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Then one fellow said to the other, “MAN!  I can’t believe we forgot the TONGS!”   The other said, “Don’t worry, Bro.”
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07-17-14 Natadola 8  R
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Behold the island-boy tongs: not just a stick, but one that looks like a chicken foot!
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07-17-14 Natadola 12  R
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We brought a sack of coconut shells for firewood.   Coconut shells are GREAT for barbecuing over.   The smoke was pretty in the trees, too.
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07-17-14 Natadola 13 R
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I had farm on the brain, because I was sure I was seeing a chicken egg there on the sand.  It was just some kind of seed.
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Anyhow, after awhile, the guys told me just five minutes until it was done – please to go get the ladies.   So I hiked out onto the reef flat.
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07-17-14 Natadola 16 R
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I was amazed at what-all was underfoot.   There were things like slime molds.   And odd pink things (I have a lot more photos).   This one is of an edible algae, so I was excited to see this.
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07-17-14 Natadola 19 R
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Here is some other leafy thing – looks like I ought to know  what it is.
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07-17-14 Natadola 23  R
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And some corals.
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Anyway, I got the girls and we hiked back,  Granddaddy and Kiki came up from digging in the sand.   We all ate.   Oh yummy – salad, cassava, barbecued tuna and lamb chops and sausages.   Monica had bought two tubs of ice cream.   Austin thought that would be to much, and we’d give a tub to some kids who were also at the beach … until he found out it was Cadbury, best ice cream available in stores.   Talk about a Pig Out!
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Then we “washed” our dishes with sand.
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And then the girls showed off their treasures.
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07-17-14 Natadola 29  R  box crab
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Monica’s sister came back with a box crab.
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07-17-14 Natadola 30 R shells
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And Monica came back with a bunch of edible sea shells….. well, snails inside sea shells.
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07-17-14 Natadola 31 R
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Turban shells.
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07-17-14 Natadola 32 R
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And something else.   They were all excited because these babies were going to be Breakfast!
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07-17- 14 turban shells R
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I DIDN’T GET UP EARLY ENOUGH THE NEXT DAY!    Most of the shellfish had been eaten by the time I got to the kitchen.  “We didn’t know you wanted to eat it, Mom.” (Fijians are VERY generous and I knew this was true) The bites I did get were really, really, really delicious though.
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07-17- 14 gracilaria Cr
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And Austin did go collect some of the seaweed.  It’s scientific name is gracilaria edulis. This photo is of it still raw.  It makes an excellent pickle.  We have gone through one large jar already.- just three days.
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07-17-14 honeyed morning 1 R
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SUNSHINE LIKE HONEY
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One morning it was clear – in other words, welcome rain was coming – and there was a brilliant rainbow outside our bedroom window.   I have not changed the exposure or hue on these photos at all.  The sunlight was like honey.
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07-17-14  roselle bush R
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This is one of our roselle bushes in that morning light.
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07-17-14 eggplant jam  R
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EGGPLANT JAM
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It is not a misprint – and I didn’t believe it either – but my strange and clever daughter-in-law made jam from eggplant and roselle.   Everybody who has tasted it, says it is delicious.  (Alas, I cannot do sugar, and so must give second hand reports.)   Austin says it tastes like plum jam.   (What is next – okra pie filling?)
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* Have a great week! *
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10 July 2014

06-25-14 orchid  4  Cr-reCr
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I’ve been waiting TEN MONTHS to write this news. The Orchid House is up!

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???????????????????????????????

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Our good friend Verona who grows orchids commercially called to tell us she had several hundred seedlings she’d give us if Akka and Monica also wanted to grow orchids. So Austin hired the bulldozer and got a site prepared. This photo was taken on September 25, 2013.
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Over the months we worried that Verona might think we forgot about her offer or that we didn’t care, and she might give the seedlings to someone else or the seedlings might die, or we’d never get around to building the house. …. Then Vina’s husband Rakesh the Carpenter became available to work for us. Huzzah!
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06-12-14 orchid terrace  R
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Three weeks ago, the posts went in.
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06-19-14 orchid 2  R
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Verona sent over 3 boxes of seedlings, which we kept in the shade and sprinkled with water from time to time.
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06-19-14 orchid 3  R
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The frame got made.

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06-25-14 orchid 1  R

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The house got covered with shade cloth. It turns out orchids need black shade cloth, but we used our leftover green cloth for some of the sides.

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07-10-14 orchid house 2 R

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The entire house has to be tightly screened against moths, or the moths will interfere with the flowers setting.
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07-10-14 orchid house 5 R
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Akka made temporary tables of cement blocks and gothic mesh, and we put a Teitei guest to work sticking seedlings in the mesh. After the plants rest up and recover, they will get transferred to plastic bags with gravel. I hope this business works for us!
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(Junia was not really standing over our hard-working guest like a tyrant, not the whole time)

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07-10-14 Palau flower 2  Cr
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PALAU FLOWER
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I was thinking of Palau for the last few weeks because I’ve been seeing this flower around. Austin grew them in Palau.
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07-10-14 Palau flower 1  R
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These flowers are so odd, with the flowers growing down in the middle of the plant, from the “trunk.”  In Palau Austin had these in red, pink, white, orange, pale orange, yellow and purple.
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06-12-14 haldi 3 R
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FOOD CORNER
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We grow these turmeric roots, in Fiji called haldi – the Hindi name (हल्दी). My sisters-in-law tried to sell us on using it. One would grate the roots into everything she cooked. The other one would chomp down like Bugs Bunny on a carrot. We never got into them. However, for some reason this week, Akka got inspired. He made “golden milk” with fresh haldi, milk powder and our honey for everyone, and some dairy-free “golden juice” for me. It was tasty. We were looking forward to some super-health energy boost. Instead it just made us all sleepy.
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07-10-14 come-hither flower 1  Cr
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COME HITHER FLOWER
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Last night some new arriving guests sat on our verandah sniffing the air – what is that beautiful scent? After a bit I smelled it also. Yummy! Austin said it was a plant blooming. He stepped outside and returned with this flower-packed branch.
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07-10-14 come-hither flower 2  R
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My guest and I eagerly stuck our faces into the branch to get a really good whiff …. and both came up with unenthused faces. It just didn’t smell that good close up.
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This led to a discussion of how things can be more attractive at a distance than closer up (making me think of a few personality types, actually). Austin refused to go that direction, saying that the molecules traveled far to attract the moths, and that I must go out to photograph the flower on the plant and all the moths that were attracted to it. Turns out this plant is RIGHT outside our entryway. Sheesh! The things I don’t notice!
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07-10-14 come-hither flower 6  R
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Four photos and just one little moth. Clearly, this personality is STILL not that attractive close up. I rest my case.
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CORAL PRESS
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If you are interested, here is an article about Austin (and his underwater floral-fauna) in Spanish that he received the link for this week – https://issuu.com/hoyrd/docs/en_sociedadd/68?e=0

 

3 July 2014

07-3-14  coco oil 4  R
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This is about COCONUT OIL, and how good it is for your skin.
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07-3-14  coco oil 8  Cr
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It’s not really about Hollywood actor Steven Good posing in a speedo in my yard.
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I’m sorry I didn’t get the shot of him telling his father-in-law, “smell my skin!  It smells really good!” and Keven sniffing his arm, replying, “It smells like cookies!”
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07-3-14 giant kai 4  R
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GIANT MUSSELS
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Monica was squealing with joy when she came home and found a big wash basin full of large river clams or kai.     Austin bought these near Suva.
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07-3-14 giant kai 2  R
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These are 2-3 times larger than the kai available any more in Sigatoka.    Nika turned them into a delightful final dinner for our guests.
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07-3-14  Monica moths 1  cr
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MOTHS
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Monica has gotten deeper into the “flora and fauna” spirit, too.   She and her cousin Eseta have been collecting moths at night, and she is pinning them onto a styrofoam display board.    (It reminds me of back when Austin and I were just friends, and he invited me up to his bedroom to see his bug collection.  Sure enough he had 2 cigar boxes with neatly labeled bugs in them, and that was all!)
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07-3-14 fliptail moth 3  cr
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Akka noticed this nifty moth a day or two later.   See the flip tail?    I wonder WHY a flying creature would have an upturned tail?
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07-3-14 market orchid 1 R
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ORCHID FROM THE MARKET
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Austin bought this native pretty orchid from the market a couple of weeks ago.
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07-3-14 market orchid 3  R
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It grows high up in the trees, and ladies sometimes sell them in the market.  Austin says they bloom several times a year – and the blooms last a long time.  Potted and all, this one cost Fiji $5.   Austin is sorry he didn’t buy the other one.
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07-3-14  dalo beetle 1  cr
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DALO BEETLE
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And Austin has had a crappy week.  One reason is this beetle.
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07-3-14  dalo beetle 2  R
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He found out that the dalo he planted has been infested by these beetles.
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07-3-14  dalo beetle 3  R
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Even one beetle can do a lot of damage.
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LEPTO
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Another reason for his crappy week is that he got leptospirosis again.   Lepto is a febrile bacterial illness that is spread in animal urine (think Rats / think Chicken Pen).   You’re supposed to be immune once you’ve had it, but there are several strains.   This is the 3rd time Austin’s had it.    The good news on lepto is that it is easy to kill with antibiotics if you catch it early.   The bad news is that if you do not catch it early it can easily kill YOU.   Lepto has a mild early phase, goes away, and then comes back with deadly intent.   Hooray for Austin for outsmarting leptospirosis again.  (yes, he knows he has to deal with the rats in the hen house)
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07-3-14 rooster scratch 1
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COCK FIGHT
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And then Austin nearly lost an eye.
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Just trying to collect eggs in that same hen house!
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Rooster Alpha had been picking on Rooster Fatso for a week or more.   When Austin went to collect the eggs, Fatso was up on the highest roost – and he saw what Austin didn’t – Alpha strutting in the door behind Austin.   Fatso took off to exit the coop ASAP – and collided, spurs forward, into Austin’s head.   Knocked Austin’s glasses off, and nearly knocked him down.   This might be the end of Austin’s chances at a modeling career.
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07-3-14  Steven & me selfie  R
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FOXY
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Before leaving, Steven took a selfie with each of us.  I got a copy of mine.  Lucky me!
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I’d like to thank him for being such a good sport about the quick & super silly photo shoot.
And on his website:  http://www.stevengood.net/
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