26 March 2015

2015-03-26 lizard eggs in bananas  1  Cr

How on earth did Thursday come so fast this week?   It totally caught me by surprise.   This was one of only two photos in my camera I took myself –  the wonderful new bananas that we grew from stock given to us by the ag station – now ripe.

2015-03-26 lizard eggs in bananas 2 R

Here’s the other photo:  a close-up of lizard eggs nestled inside.   We aren’t the only ones who like these new bananas.

2015-03-26 overnight web on our truck R

Akka noticed this dewy web in our truck bed the morning he and Junia were going to mow the school compound.   I can’t take credit, but I like it.

2015-03-26 nearby waterfall   R

And Austin put 28 photos of his hike to our waterfall with an adventurous Teitei guest.   I have no idea what the plants are or creature is – so I’ll just post the one shot.   I must say the waterfall has become quite impressive.   The times I’ve walked there it has been a small trickle at best.

I wish you all a lovely week.   As for me, I just hope my brain starts working better!

19 March 2015

2015-03-18 happy chicken followup 5  R

Needless to say,  Vanuatu has been on our minds all week long.  As mentioned last week, we were worried for them because they were about to be clobbered by a category 5 hurricane.  Well that hurricane did not pull any punches: if anything, it was even worse than predicted.   No sooner than word arrived, Austin started writing to relief agencies.  One thing he knows they will need, one way he knows he can help, is with Happy Chicken.

So he sent me over to our neighbors to get follow up photos on the Happy Chickens he gave to neighbors two months ago.  Yesterday afternoon the little sister and little brother of young Chicken Man were home.  They easily rounded up the juveniles.

2015-03-19 HC followup 3  R

This morning I went back to so I could talk to Prashneel, the 14 year old chicken farmer, himself.  I got the update.  Austin originally gave 9 chicks; they are all still alive.  A few weeks later he gave 5 more chicks.  Of these, two were pecked to death by the older chicks.  (Nature is so cruel !!).   He knows for sure that 4 of the remaining 12 are roosters, and figures the other 8 are hens.   This is great news for somebody looking to build a flock, as you need one rooster to every six or so hens to get good fertility.

2015-03-18 edible Mexican cactus 1  R

I was looking for some flowers Austin said were extra lovely and found this cactus instead.

2015-03-18 edible Mexican cactus 2  R

“Is this the pearl dragon fruit, Austin?”

“No, it is [some forgettable Latin name], a thorn-less cactus.  An edible Mexican cactus.”

(Edible !  Now we’re talking !!)

“Yeah, the people in Fiji don’t know how to eat it.  If it were in Vanuatu, it would be lying on the ground now, but they’d be able to eat it….”

Isa !

2015-03-18 bananas from agriculture 1  R

Junia borrowed my camera to go take photos of this beautiful bunch of bananas.

2015-03-18 bananas from agriculture 3  R

Not only are there heaps on the stalk, but each banana is itself humongous.   I thought maybe they had crossed with vudi, that big fat cooking banana I blogged about 14 months ago.  https://ffwrfromfiji.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/9-january-2014/    But oh, how dumb I was – Bananas don’t pollinate (I knew that); they are grown as clones from different “cultivars”

2015-03-19 fir unknown Normal fir 17 - 2  Cr

So here is that stalk with two others.  The one in the middle is our normal bananas. and the ones on the outside are cultivars given by agriculture.  The big one on the left – you’ll note it is so big it is sitting rather than hanging –  is an unknown variety referred to as “feer unknown.”  The one on the far right is referred to as “feer seventeen”  (Don’t ask ME !!)

They take a lot longer to produce than I would have guessed.   Junia said Brother Dave helped plant them – Brother Dave the toad juggler.  https://ffwrfromfiji.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/22-august-2013/   That was 19 months ago – August 2013.

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Not much other news.  Austin brought home two orchid seedlings that he says are wonderful flowers – but there are no flowers yet.

And our New Year is nearly upon us so Akka got enterprising and did some spring cleaning behind our kitchen.  Well, autumn cleaning in the southern hemisphere.  It is FINALLY starting to get a little cooler.

2015-03-19 spring cleaning 3  Cr2015-03-19 spring cleaning 2  Cr

If only I’d had a before picture, you’d be really impressed.

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12 March 2015

2015-03-12 masi gwine to town  R

We started the week with Austin going to Suva and taking this little harvest of  “Masi” plant with him.  I was shocked at how tall the plants look when harvested – 12 or 14 feet long!  .   He was taking these to a friend in Suva who is planning to pound the core out into masi cloth.   I’ve never seen this done, and with masi growing here – I really need to learn.


Here is an old photo of the plant growing.


And here is an old shot of some beautiful masi cloth (which has been decorated – the masi itself comes out creamy white).

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– What’s good around the farm this week, Honey?

– Show them the macadamia nuts on the tree.

2015-03-12 one macadamia nut  Cr

ONE nut.  That’s all I could find.   One nut against our gray sky.

2015-03-12 bowl of macadamia nuts  R

But here is a bowl of them on Austin’s dresser.  Those are the big ones that he is planning to put into a nursery and transplant into an orchard he will create.   We haven’t eaten any of the macadamia nuts yet – the shells are super hard and we haven’t actually figured out how to get into them without pulverizing the middle.   I haven’t actually tried yet.  (Truth is, I don’t like macadamia nuts all that much.  Shhhhh – don’t tell, Austin.  He might be disappointed.)

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2015-03-12 trimming the fence  R

The blessed gray sky made the last day more tolerable (the sun is fierce), but I feel very sad for friends in Vanuatu who are about to get creamed by the currently brewing hurricane.   There was a chance that big wind was coming our way, so Austin and Junia have already started the season’s storm prep.   One of the first items of business is trimming the fences posts.   Living fence is CHEAP – you get a good and permanent fence for the cost of barbed wire only – but it keeps growing and when a strong wind comes, it can pull the fence tree right out of the ground.   We learned that during a banana typhoon a few years ago.

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2015-03-12 in town 1  R

I was hanging out in town waiting for a family member to finish shopping, and sat here by the Sigatoka River.  Shady, peaceful and pretty.

2015-03-12 in town 2  Cr

Then I noticed the boat.  One small boat.   With a roof!   It brought back memories of living in Chuuk Lagoon a couple of decades ago.  The “road” was (and I’m sure still is) the water.   Forty-five minutes from Tol (where we lived) to Moen (where the stores are) by motorboat.   Three hours by putt-putt, a slow diesel boat with a roof.   The dock in Moen was always crowded with little boats.  Boats tied to other boats, sometimes four or  six boats deep.    I’m feeling nostalgic.

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2015-03-12 3- legged bug  Cr

Finally a friend who limped onto my diary last night.  This is how he showed up – I have no idea what happened to 33% of his legs, or how he managed to walk as well as he did.

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5 March 2015

2015-03-02 Natadola  R

Before I get on with my saga, I’ll take you on my slightly grumpy trip to the beach.   Pretty beach.  Two little dots in the water – neither was me.  We were supposed to do errands and THEN go to the beach, but SomeBody changed the plan.  I didn’t want to hit the shops in a salty state, so I stayed on the beach.

2015-03-02 Natadola stickers   R

Behold the flora: sand burrs.

2015-03-02 Natadola mozzie   Cr

Behold the fauna: blood-suckers.

2015-03-02 Natadola trash   R

Behold the evidence of thoughtless bipedal  creatures.

Kiki and Awtin at Natadola 2Mar15  R

But SomeBody and a little somebody had a good time.


Prologue  Six years ago Austin and I were preparing to celebrate our 30th anniversary.   We paid the plane tickets so all the kids plus the one son-in-law and one grandchild could all be here.   Austin thought we needed a lot more sleeping space so he had the 3-bedroom cottage built.   Work on the cottage stopped during the reunion:   the cottage was ready for occupancy two months after all the kids had left.

Chapter One – Work on the Pool Commences   Last year Austin and I were preparing to celebrate our 35th anniversary.  We paid the plane tickets so all the kids, all their spouses and all the grandkids could be here.   Austin and Akka decided that the POOL needed to be built so that everyone could enjoy it.

2014-08-07 pool 3 R

August 7 – the pool is getting started.  The kids aren’t coming til November, we have plenty of time.

2014-08-19 pool 2  R

August 19 – making some progress.  I thought it would go faster than this.

2014-09-10 pool  R

September 10 – Lord, it is taking forever!

2014-10-23  pool 1  R

October 23 – nearly done, but what a bizarre shape.

2014-10-30  pool constr 2  R

Chapter Two – The Pool is “Complete”

October 30 – the pool itself is more or less done.   The workers are working on the wall now.   The pool will be rain-fed from the roofs of our three buildings.

2014-10-15 dead trees  CR


This was, you might remember, the time of our never-ending drought that even caused the trees to lose their leaves.   Would it rain?   Would we get any water in our pool?

Chapter Three – The Kids Arrive

2014-11-19 pool in use 2  R

We got “this” much rain.  It was enough for playing a little.   I won’t tell you which grandson delivered a “floater” as soon as he got in, so which father promptly had to scoop it out, and stuff like that.   (Eventually, we WILL have a kiddy pool beside the big one.)

2015-01-22 pool 2  R

Chapter Four –  Finishing Touches  (2015 – the reunion was 2 months ago)

January 22 – We built steps down to the pool from the cottage.

2015-01-25 pool 2 too dirty to swim in  R

January 25 – It finally rains enough that the pool is full.  However, toads have been getting there and the water is too dirty to swim in.

2015-02-19 pool and gate  R

February 19 – We finish the fence around the entire perimeter and put in toad-proof gates as well.

2015-02-19 pool drained an d cleaned  R

We also drained it and cleaned it really well.

2015-02-26 full pool 2  R

February 26 – it is finally full again and is so much fun to play in with the big steps to hang out on.   Junia gives all the neighbor kids a swimming lesson when I am in Suva,

2015-02-26 pool waterfall 1  R

And Austin’s waterfall from the storage tank works beautifully.

Epilogue  –  The water is green again already.   We wait for the hardware company to get the pool filters they think will be in stock last month.  Next dry season we will paint the pool with pool paint, and some day we will build a tiny hangout shack by the pool and also put in that planned kiddy pool.    Some day I will have photos of a really finished pool.   I only wonder what project we’ll decide to undertake for our 40th anniversary, that will get finished around our 41st……

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