30 October 2014

2014-10-30 wonky pineapple  R

A studio portrait of our clownish pineapple, a heavy-jowled fellow with a tiny fez at a rakish tilt.   All the pineapples on our farm are of this odd shape.   Akka thinks the lack of rain is responsible for the shrunken crowns.   But what is the reason for this bottom-heaviness?

2014-10-30 humpback cowrie 1  R


This is an unusual “humpback cowrie” found by one of our Teitei guests at the sand dunes this week.

2014-10-30 humpback cowrie 2  Cr

I cannot believe her good fortune in finding this shell perfectly intact.

2014-10-30 humpback cowrie 3  R

I am smitten by the utterly gorgeous design shimmering below the glassy surface.

2014-10-30 humpback cowrie 4  Cr

So shiny that even the photographer’s hands are captured in the photo.

2014-10-30 smiley coconut  R


And Auntie Monica is getting ready.   That’s all I have to say!

*   *   *

23 October 2014

2014-10-23  metallic bug   Cr

This was the real beauty from this week – a gorgeous metallic looking insect.  I think this bug is even on one of the Fiji postage stamps.

2014-10-23 Billy and sister  Cr


I saw Billy the goat and his sister foraging in the drain beside the road, thought “how sweet” and stopped to take a photo.

2014-10-23 Billy  R

Billy recognized me and came up to say Hi!   I was so happy and surprised.   Billy’s owner told me that it’s good he stayed with us for a month, because he is not afraid of dogs any more.  If a dog comes near, Billy turns around and shows them his horns 🙂

2014-09-25 waka levu   R


The proper way to drink yaqona (kava) the local mild intoxicant, is to pound the root, add water and squeeze.  The lazy way is to use powdered kava.  Anyway,  the dried roots are organized into a bundle called a waka.  I asked this man if I could take his picture because it is one of the biggest waka I ever saw.   Almost for sure he bought this to take to some ceremony (wedding, funeral, petition to a chief).

2014-10-23  kanikani R

And THIS is an example of kanikani, the “lizard skin” condition that happens to people who drink too much kava.   It results from Vitamin A depletion.    This is my friend’s foot.

2014-10-23  mangos 1  Cr


That long drought had one surprising side effect:  MANGOES !

2014-10-23  mangos 2  R

The tree is loaded.   We are shocked.

2014-10-23  land swans  Cr


Two ganders that always hang out in our yard have taken to chilling in the driveway.  I know they are ganders because they are pure white.  The female pilgrim geese have some gray on them.


My dear friend planted the tree in memory of her grandpa  (see 21 August ) …. and then I forgot about the tree!   We had that awful drought, and the tree on the top of the hill …. well, I was afraid it was dead.  Austin said it might survive and that I should just watch it.

2014-10-23  Vova survives   R

Finally!  It is putting out new leaves.   Isn’t this a delightful fleur-de-lis configuration!

*   *   *

2014-10-23 bleeding heart  R

This is a flower I love that we have in Suva, a kind of ‘bleeding-heart.’

Happy Diwali.

*   *   *

16 October 2014

2014-10-15  pretty hibiscus  R

Most of my stuff this week is from OFF the farm – like this pretty hibiscus – I’ve forgotten where I saw it.  I love the albino leaves, though reduced photosynthesis makes it hard for the plant to grow.

The next 3 photos are from the parking lot in Sigatoka when I was waiting for Austin on Saturday.

2014-10-15 Sgtka parking lot 1  R

This cute puffy flower in one tree;

2014-10-15 Sgtka parking lot 2  Cr

these pretty bouquets in another tree; and ….

2014-10-15 Sgtka parking lot 3  Cr

TA DA!   a bird!   Catching wildlife is near impossible for me – I’m so glad this bird came out clear.   The very fact that I am looking up into the trees at all is the result of writing this blog.  Well, that and waiting for Austin.

2014-10-15  pond  R


This is back at the farm.   I’ve even shown this specific location to you before. Multiple times.  This is our POND.   Can you believe it?   This is what happens when it rains after being VERY dry.  There is enough water to get all manner of plants to grow, but not enough to bring the water table back up.

2014-10-15  mystery hole  Cr


From my same walk to the pond — a hole in the ground.   If this were the beach, I would know the answer:  crab.  But this is not the beach.  What makes holes like this?   Must ask Austin.

2014-10-15 dead trees  R


See the dead trees?  I’ve been noticing dead trees since I first started the blog, and have taken so many photos of so many dead trees in the last month.  My sister-in-law sent this link  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5d7sCRgIyc&app=desktop  which gives so much to think about.   Maybe the huge number of dead trees right now is just the dry weather here.   I’ll tell you how the trees are again when the pond is back up.

2014-10-15  Rural Womens Day 1  Cr


Yesterday I saw this meeting going on when I went to town again.

2014-10-15  Rural Womens Day 2  R

A lovely meeting down by the river front.   It looked to me as if about 100 people were there.  I overheard two lovely speeches in English, one by a Fijian and one by an Indian – both ladies talking about how proud they are to be able to help support their families through their work.

2014-10-15  Rural Womens Day 5  R2014-10-15  Rural Womens Day 7  R

2014-10-15  Rural Womens Day 4 R

The rural ladies do much of the farming.  In fact here is a photo Junia took this week of our 3 farmhands,

2014-10-15 Ladies at work  R

All ladies.    We love them.


One friend told me by email she still didn’t understand why the bride wasn’t nervous.   I guess I didn’t make it clear.  In Fiji the point of the big wedding is so the families can see each other, trade news, work together and have fun.  The pressure, if any, is on the family  spokesmen who have to give impressive speeches to each other.   Nobody expects much out of the bride or groom.

But in town yesterday, I got an update from the groom’s father:  It’s a girl!    That’s not an ultrasound result – that is a birth announcement!   I noticed the bride looked pregnant – but having the baby a week after the wedding!    Dare I say the wedding was on Fiji time?

2014-10-15 Gogo on chick cage  Cr


GoGo Dog loves to sleep atop the chick cage.   I have been trying for weeks to catch him taking a nap.  This’ll do.

*    *    *

9 October 2014

2014-10-06 coffee flowers  Cr

We have a new ornamental flower bush, as lovely as forsythia.

2014-10-06 coffee flower close Cr2014-10-06 coffee bush in flower Cr

It is not in the yard: we discovered it down on the farm

2014-10-06 coffee bee Cr

Even the bees love it.   If you look closely at this picture, you might be able to figure out what it is….. it is COFFEE FLOWERS !

2014-10-03 Oxen 1  Cr


When in the neighboring village this week, I was able to get a close look at a team of bullocks and the loads they pull.

2014-10-03 Oxen 4 R

Men make yokes out of local logs and put them together with ropes and chains.

2014-10-03 Oxen 2  R

See how logs and sticks are used to make a sledge.   It works.

2014-10-03 Oxen 3  Cr

After the sacks of cassava are unloaded – another cargo just piles itself on board 🙂

2014-10-03 Wedding 1  R


Lucky us!  We got invited to a full traditional Fijian wedding this week!  Not so many Fijians have traditional weddings any more because they are quite costly. I was able to go and to take some Teitei guests along.   We were taken first to the home of the groom’s family.

2014-10-03 Wedding 2  R

This is in the room that has been prepared for the groom and his bride.  The first photo was of the emroidered mosquito net over the wedding bed.  This photo is of  some of the wedding presents for the happy couple:  Pillows with their name embroidered, blankets and mats.   There were many, many more presents – this is all referred to as the tevutevu.

2014-10-03 Wedding 3  R

These are a few ladies in the groom’s family living room.  Off camera, the mother of the groom was sewing lace around a pillow, and another lady was pleating colorful fabric that would become an “apron.”   These ladies were starting to prepare plates of cake for the bride’s morning tea.

2014-10-03 Wedding 4 J  Cr

Although we said “Vinaka” (“thank you” – which is how you say NO when you are offered something to eat), they brought us this beautiful plate of cakes and some mugs of tea anyway.

2014-10-03 Wedding goats  Cr

One lovely young woman named Maraia (ma-RYE-ya) served as our guide, and she took us through the village.   It was life as usual going on around the big wedding – I loved these kids.

We were taken to a large temporary shelter, called a “shed” to wait for the arrival of the bride.   Maraia was eager to see how the bride would arrive because each place does it a little differently.

2014-10-03 Wedding 5  Cr

Here comes the bride, wrapped in white masi, with one attendant (I’m guessing a sister or cousin) and other family members.  The bride in this case carried a hand fan made of pandanus with her name woven in.

2014-10-03 Wedding 6  Cr

And here she is, the masi is off, sitting in the position of honor at the front of the shed.  Can you see how relaxed she looks?   She looked happy and relaxed for the entire event.   I figured out why later.

2014-10-03 Wedding 7  R

Next are some customs I was expecting:   speeches and KAVA.

2014-10-03 Wedding 8  R

Speeches and TABUAs, whale’s teeth.  I’d never seen so many at one time – there were even more off-camera, and I never saw one as large as that big one.

2014-10-03 Wedding 9  Cr

And then Morning Tea for about 200 people in the shed

Relatives had come from many places in Fiji.  Each family brought specific gifts.  Handmaidens from each family group/village had pleated aprons of identical cloth (“kalavata”), see above: three different cloths, so three different villages visible here. The wedding serves as a big, humongous family reunion.

THIS is why the bride was not nervous!   The wedding is not the “day of the bride” – it is the “day of the family”

So we sat around visiting and waited for the second appearance of the bride and the first appearance of the groom.

2014-10-03 Wedding 10  R

Voila!  The best man, the groom, the bride (now in brown masi) and the maid of honor.  They made a ceremonial circuit of the village.  In addition to masi (bark cloth), they are each wearing a salusalu (garland)  that is specially made for the occasion.

2014-10-03 Wedding 11  Cr

Then they crossed the dry river bed and went up the hill.  I had no idea why they were going, and asked around.  Finally I found out … the Assembly of God church was on that side of the creek!   And so we followed.

2014-10-03 Wedding 12  R

The humble but spirit-filled church building.

2014-10-03 Wedding 13  R

The beautiful entrance.

2014-10-03 Wedding 15  R

The small shed outside where some of us sat.

2014-10-03 Wedding 16 J  R

But this just Would Not Do for my gentleman guest.  The pastor sent someone out to fetch him and make sure that he sat INSIDE the church.  This friend felt very honored and very happy to be escorted inside.

2014-10-03 Wedding 17 J  R

The exchange of vows inside the beautifully decorated church.

Then there was a reception line and we all walked back to the village.

2014-10-03 Wedding 18A  R

The community hall was decorated in such a fancy manner!   Two relatives work for  resorts on the coast and they rented fancy tables and chairs for this.  I was amazed.  The pastor tried to get us to join the wedding party in here, but we declined as it was so special, we did not want any of the family to have to give up their seats for us.

2014-10-03 Wedding 18B  R

We returned to the groom’s family home where a delicious lunch was brought to us.  I wish you could taste it!

Those who know Fiji well may be asking, “What about the lovo?,” i.e. the underground oven that is a staple of all meetings and ceremonies.   This is clearly not lovo food   Funny thing there.  Yes, there was a lovo – but it was not for the lunch.  The lovo food was being saved for the dinner.  The pig was to be given to the bride’s family.  The beef was going to the groom’s dinner.

2014-10-03 palusam R

Some palusami from the lovo did come out for the lunch, though.    YUM.

Even after the wedding meal, the wedding is not over yet.  Not even.

2014-10-03 Wedding 19  Cr

Exchange of gifts between the families was still to come.  Drums of kerosene, piles of mats, mountains of pillows.   Perhaps that lorry came full of these presents, and will return home full of other presents, because we saw more of the same in other locations.

*     *     *

“I dodged the lovo …. again!”

Have a happy week.

*     *     *

2 October 2014

2014-09-21 dawn 1 R

The best part of every day for me for the last month has been getting up at dawn and walking out to pineapple circle.

2014-09-21 dawn 3  R

This may change with the weather, but it has been a great joy.

2014-09-23 macadamia nut tree in flower  Cr


Our macadamia tree is in flower.   I forgot we even had a macadamia tree until Austin reminded me.

2014-09-25 macadamia sign  R

Even though it has this helpful (though misspelled) sign!   Oh well…..

2014-09-25 macadamia flower  Cr

Behold a macadamia flower.

2014-09-25 macadamia flowers 2  R

The tree has LOTS of them.

2014-09-25 macadamia nuts  Cr

And even some young macadamia nuts!

2014-09-28 mtn apple flowers  R


Akka cued me in on this one – it is a mountain apple flower, blooming in the goose pen.  Beautiful, isn’t it!   (I don’t know if I’d see any of the tree flowers if it weren’t for my family).

2014-09-27 David Bowie horse with riders  R


These boys came on horseback to buy a dozen chicks from Austin.  Of more interest to me was the horse….

2014-09-27 David Bowie horse eye R

David Bowie on the hoof!    I’d never seen a horse with blue eyes – or in this case ONE blue eye!    You’ll have to take my word that the other one was brown.  I couldn’t get him from the other side.

2014-09-20 Ken - on horseback2014-09-20 Ken - on horseback 2


A couple of weeks ago Ken, another Teitei guest, told me he had some photos I could use.  I didn’t get them before he left, but he actually remembered to put them in dropbox for me!  Yay!    Here we have some of his kids and Kiki on horses with Vina’s son and with Akka – mounting up and on a trail ride.

2014-09-20 Ken - Sigatoka Sahara2014-09-20 Ken - Sigatoka Sahara 2

Ken got some great photos of Sigatoka’s Sahara – the Sand Dunes.

2014-09-20 Ken - swing at cottage

Back at the farm – his youngest daughter enjoying the tire swing at the cottage.

2014-09-20 Ken - gecko and beetle

Some creature life other than the scores of chickie photos he took :)

2014-09-20 Ken - man in the trees 3

And What the Heck?!   What was Austin doing up in the tree?

2014-09-28 surprise clutch of eggs  R


Austin found this clutch of eggs in the unfinished ground floor of our house.   Twenty-nine eggs!    Good Lord!

The other surprise was something just learned from a fellow-blogger: hens as exterminators!  Green Lizard  put up this post last week, wherein she displayed some envy-eliciting speckled eggs AND told how chicken ears relate to shell color  http://lizard100blog.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/chicken-shed/    I felt obligated to tell her I already knew how chickens ears are related to eggshell color, and gave her a link to my 8 May 2014 post.  WELL – what a shocker: in our exchange of replies under my post she told me that her hens catch mice. !!   She later said ALL hens catch mice.   That is news to me, and more: it is even news to Dr. Happy Chicken.

2014-09-29 first drops  R


Voila!  Our first drops.

2014-09-29 first mud  R

And our first mud.

These photos are from day before yesterday.  The sun is out again already – CHEERS.

*     *     *

May your October be resplendent!    October in the southern hemisphere is the equivalent of April in the north.   Autumn for most of you, spring for us.    Seems just right.

*     *     *