28 August 2014

2014-08-26 plum 1  R

Monica brought these in – new fruits on the farm – mangosteens, she thought.  I was SO EXCITED!  Mangosteens are delicious.  I knew Austin had planted some mangosteen trees a few years back, but they are supposed to take twenty years before bearing fruit.  Wow!  Ours were so early!

We cut one.

2014-08-26 plum 2  R

Well, the skin was not hard like a mangosteen.  And the flesh was not pearly over the seeds like a mangosteen – but what the heck:  this was 14 years premature!   (I still hadn’t clued in.)   I ran down to the pond with Monica to show off our mangosteens to Austin.  He broke the news to me – they aren’t child-prodigy mangosteens after all – they are some kind of plummy thing.  Even Austin doesn’t know what they are, even though he planted the tree. They are growing on our land and they taste pretty good.  Anyway, it is something new.

2014-08-05 chrysallis 2  R


Austin was going to put them in a jar so he could see the moths emerge.    Well here is a chrysalis from one.

2014-08-26 dalo sphinx moth  R

And here is the dalo sphinx moth that emerged.   It had been in the jars several days before I got around to taking its photo, and it was flapping its wings, trying to figure out how they work.   The poor thing finally did manage to take off.

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Austin:  You don’t know what you’re talking about.

Me:  What do you mean?

Austin:   You said none of the ducks ever recovered [last week’s blog]

Me:  I thought they didn’t

Austin: No, some of them did.

The Upshot – the blue egret from last week is doing well, as did SOME of the ducks that got sick before.

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Me:  Where’s Billy?  [the goat from 24 July]

Austin:   Oh he got well and went home.

Me:  (surprised)  Ha.

2014-08-27 sundried tomatoes 4  R


It’s the end of the tomato season and we bought a crate of tomatoes.  I refused to blanch them for freezing (photos from that in my blog almost exactly one year ago!) – huge bother!   So Akka, God bless him, decided to try sun-drying them.  This was yesterday morning.   They’re on a screen, see their cute shadows!

2014-08-27 sundried tomatoes 5  R

This was yesterday afternoon.    Lovely.  We’ll pop them out for a few more hours of sun today and then they can be stored in much, much, much less space.

2014-08-27 burning 3  R

I took shots of the grasslands being burned this week, only to find out that exactly a year ago (29 August 2013) I covered the burning grasslands as well.   This seems to be scheduled like clockwork!

a 2014-08-25 JuLin dawn at pineapple circle


Ju-lin, a recent guest,  shared her 233 photos from here with me, and agreed that I could post them in my blog.  I chose a handful of my favorites and will share them briefly.   The one above is “dawn at pineapple circle.”

b 2014-08-25 JuLin dawn

Another shot of dawn (I don’t know where exactly)

c 2014-08-25 JuLin morning spider web

Dewy spider web.

d 2014-08-25 JuLin bananas


e 2014-08-25 JuLin papayas


f 2014-08-25 JuLin duck in its outhouse

Goose on a nest.  (Austin tells me that this is the goose who is determined to sit.  LONG story.  Maybe next week.)

h 2014-08-25 JuLin incubator

Austin at the incubator, with eggs hatching in the bottom tray.

j 2014-08-25 JuLin weird flower   Cr

Flower in a tree (I have no idea what it is – very pretty!  I must try to find it!)

k 2014-08-25 JuLin weird fruit

Weird fruit (I have no idea about this one either).

l 2014-08-25 JuLin digging ginger

Monica digging ginger – the observer is Austin’s namesake who was here visiting.

m 2014-08-25 JuLin Kiki & Beamer

The youngest member of our household helping the oldest one to walk around.

n 2014-08-25 JuLin bug

An impressive beetle.

o 2014-08-25 JuLin food

An impressive dinner, starring fish from our pond.

p 2014-08-25 JuLin toadlings

The porch of the cottage at night.

q 2014-08-25 JuLin toadlings   Cr

The stars of the porch stage show.

Thank you, Ju-lin.  It was fun to see our place as you saw it.


21 August 2014

2014-08-19 moth red spot  Cr

Akka found this tiny moth with the red spots.   I didn’t know the spots were red until I looked at my photo.   Pretty spectacular, eh?

2014-08-16 Sigatoka market  Cr


Due to renovations in progress on the public market building, the vegetable vendors have relocated to the street.  There is NO parking in the square for now.  Most people are not blessed with owning a private vehicle and are not inconvenienced by this change.  I should just count my blessings.

2014-08-18 mango flowers 2 R


I’ve been oblivious so Austin pointed it out:  mango flowers.  This is the most abundant display of mango flowers he’s ever noticed.  This tree is down Valley Road, but even our tree has many flowers.    Behold the flowers and think hope-filled thoughts.

2014-08-20 wild nest 3  R


A clutch of eggs, under the bushes by the house.  There were another three eggs beside the washing machine.  “Somebody” let the hens out too early. .

2014-08-19 wild bird 1  Cr


This young egret, called belo, was down at the pond and seems to be sick with the same thing the ducks had.  I figure it is a goner, since none of the ducks recovered, but Austin doesn’t give up.    Honestly, although I’ve never been scared of wild birds, this one does make me a little nervous – just look at the beak on that thing!

2014-08-19 wild bird 4  R

Austin had me take a photo of its back.  Strange feathers there.  He tells me these used to be used to decorate women’s hats.

2014-08-19 tree for Vavo 1  R


Anna, our precious guest, got the news this week that her dear grandfather died.   He had been healthy and strong, and this news was completely unexpected.   What to do – with Anna so far from her family? . Austin had an idea: plant a tree in his memory.    It was a winner.   Here Anna carts the tree up the hill.

2014-08-19 tree for Vavo 3  R

Austin chose a planting spot up near Pineapple Circle where he had just burnt off the weeds the day before.

2014-08-19 tree for Vavo 2  R

As soon as Austin’s shovel hit dirt  – SURPRISE – a sphinx moth chrysalis with a very long probosis.   There is no end of weird nature stuff when we’re out in the garden with Austin.  Anna was delighted – and then freaked out when the chrysalis wiggiled in her hand – and then delighted again.

2014-08-19 tree for Vavo 4  R

In goes the tree, a tropical almond.   In honor of Vladimir Bolshov, lovingly known to all as Vova..

2014-08-19 tree for Vavo  R

And a full watering can of water for it.   Austin says in the time to come, Vova’s tree will grow tall and spread its branches and provide much welcome shade.

2014-08-21 Vavo tree dawn  R

Here is Vova’s tree in the first rays of dawn a day later. .  May you rest in peace and joy, Grandfather Vova.


2014-08-12 vinca  Cr


My companion blog was scheduled for a post this week, so I asked Vina to choose a flower for it.   Vina said, “Everlasting.”    I had no idea what it was, but it sounded promising.  Then I found out “Everlasting” was Vinca.   MAN,  I never liked this flower!   It is all over the place.  When we go to weed, this plant is just  so tenacious!  The roots go deep and are tough and fibrous.   There is no getting rid of vinca.  (My other blog is not a place for this kind of story.)   Anyhow, by the time I got the close up photos of the vinca, and started learning many of the names it is called by, I started not disliking it so much.  I might even like it a little now.: “Everlasting” turns out to be another name for “Perseverance”   So let’s hold on through the tough times, and bloom away..  If somebody tries to get rid of us, the joke is on them.


I hope you all have a great week..

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13 August 2014

2014-08-08 fresh veggies  R

Look at all the produce Monica bought from a neighbor for only $20 (that is about 12 dollars US)!  Take THAT, middlemen!

2014-08-13 goslings 4  cr


We got so excited yesterday when Junia called up to Austin that some goslings were hatching!  Goose fertility is a big big challenge here.  Geese sell for $400 for a pair, and then the pair are not even fertile.  I have mentioned in previous posts about how Austin got some owners to agree to let Austin babysit their geese here,  in the hopes of producing some offspring.  As we ran down to the pond, I was planning to name the firstborn “Ryan”

2014-08-13 gosling & chick 2  Cr

Here is one of the newborn goslings beside a newborn chick.  Impressive, no?  But sad for me, both of the newborn geese are females, according to Austin.  (“How can you tell?” I ask.   “By the color,” he replied, “males are solid yellow.” )

2014-08-07 snails 3  cr


Snails on the underside of a piece of wood.

2014-08-11 big waves 3  R

Freaky big waves at low tide on a reef flat.   (normally they would have been just little laplets, if that much.)

2014-08-11 Suva petunias 1  R


Beautification project in Suva!   Lots of planters with blooming flowers around the town now.

2014-08-11 Suva petunias 2  R

They’re kind of rain battered but still pretty and they smell heavenly.  I didn’t know the name of this flower and was shocked when I found out.  Petunias!   What a great flower that has been so insulted by association – Porky Pig’s girlfriend, Harry Potter’s mean aunt.  Sheesh!  I’m for giving it a new name..

2014-08-13 Kura 1  cr


Kura fruit,  Also known as noni.   Growing right beside my house.   Junia’s mother used it as one of her standard cure-alls.   I always got better the second she approached me with it just so I wouldn’t have to take it.

2014-08-08 gingerale 1  R


Some folks requested Akka’s ginger ale recipe, so I tried to catch him when he did it again.

2014-08-08 gingerale 01  Cr

Here are the washed up roots, the juicer machine, some juice and juiced pulp.   Akka had run some water through the juicer – ginger roots don’t have that much liquid.   He also put water into the pulp and squeezed it again like coconut.

2014-08-08 gingerale 4  R

He added sugar to the juice and boiled it to make a syrup.   It forms a skin like boiled milk does, which gets discarded.   Ginger juice has a starch in it that settles down.  Akka boiled all of it but is regretting that because the starch has jellied up some.   Oh well.

2014-08-08 gingerale 02  R

After cooling, the next step is adding the “bug” – that’s what’s in this cloth covered mayo jar.  It is pulverized ginger, sugar and a few raisins.  It supposedly ferments into a starter that will carbonate the juice.   Last time Akka used a pinch of yeast (as for island moonshine), which worked well.   After adding the bug or the yeast, the juice goes into an airtight bottle for a few hours to bubble up.  Then into the refrigerator because we are not interested in hard ginger ale.   Not a risk this time since the bug was a DUD.

5-22-14 limes 2 Cr

Last step, add some lemon or lime.   Yummy refreshing!  

2014-08-13 orchid root 1 fuzzy cater Cr


Akka found this magnificent fuzzy caterpillar in the orchid house a few days ago.   He reminds me a little of a kind-hearted and brilliant comic we lost this week.  Maybe if we can see some of the humor through his memory, maybe we didn’t lose him.

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7 August 2014

2014-08-04 yesterday today & tomorrow 2 R

This is Yesterday-Today-and-Tomorrow flower.  It comes out purple on the first day, fades a bit on the second, and is white on the third.   I’d never seen this flower until we moved to Fiji; now it is one of my favorites.

2014-08-02 burning hilltop  Cr


I know I promised you firewalking last week, but the ceremony was a bit of a dud compared to most years and my photos were also duds.  Never mind:  there is other fire to share.  We’ve got burning hills every night in dry season, see above.

2014-08-01 burning coconut R

And Vina was burning coconuts for a burnt-coconut chutney that was super yummy.

Besides which, there is a different Indian custom to share that I like even better than the firewalking.


2014-08-05 Shanti Dut 1 R

Yes, that’s me in the newspaper.  The headline says “yeh, mera rakhee bhaiya hai – shrimatee kerby” or “this is my rakhee brother – mrs. kerby”  Surprise.  The reporters had gone to interview Jeswant about some artifacts he has from the Girmit time in Fiji.  I was walking by and was surprised he was at home, so I stopped in to say hi.  The reporters found the fact that he is my Rakhee brother very interesting.   Now is the time for Raksha Bandhan and so now they published it.

2014-08-05 Raksha Bandan 1 R

Every year in August each sister will give each brother a bracelet and some sweets.

2014-08-05 Raksha Bandan 2  Cr

When she ties the bracelet on his arm, she is promising to be a helpful sister for the year. If a girl does not have brothers, or a boy sisters – or if either feels they need a few more siblings, they can do this custom to adopt extra brothers and sisters.   Once you are rakhiee siblings, it is the very same relationship as if you were born and raised of the same parents.

2014-08-05 Raksha Bandan 3  Cr

After tying the bracelet the sister feeds the brother some sweets, and then the brother feeds the sister some sweets.  (so much for the diet!)   The brother promises to protect the sister.   Raksha Bandhan is an INDIAN custom, not a religious custom – it is something done by Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs in India.  It makes me really happy that this custom for family unity is one shared by all families in that blessed land.

2014-08-05 Raksha Bandan 4  Cr

Then the brother is supposed to give the sister a little present.  Jeswant is excessively generous, and his presents are thoughtful and  big, and supplemented throughout the year.   It is humbling.    And I am grateful for the Raksha Bandhan custom, because Jeswant really is my true brother.

2014-08-04 potting orchid 1  R


The kids started potting the orchids this week.  Some on gravel.

2014-08-04 potting orchid 2  R

And – just to try something different – some on coconut husks.   You don’t learn anything without trying something new!


Akka was quite enterprising this week.  He made GINGER ALE that was as good as Canada Dry.

He also went out with the chain saw and took down a nearly-dead mango tree.  Boys and their chain saws!

I need to WEAR my camera!   At least I finally managed to get the photo below…for months  it had been  “the bicycle that got away.”

classy wheels

classy wheels

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