27 August 2015

2015-08-28 mulberry bush 1 R

Here we go round the Mulberry Bush.   Austin has been bugging me for 2 weeks to get pictures of the mulberry bush, up near Beamer’s grave, because it is full of mulberries right now.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is Austin can never get ripe ones because the birds steal all of them as soon as they start turning darker.

2015-08-28 Lepto Po Cr

Next up at the farm is Lepto Po.   Our poor mama dog got leptospirosis!  First she was sluggish – then her eyes turned bright red, she had swollen glands, and also seemed to have a headache.  Austin – a two time lepto survivor – recognized the signs quickly.  We had some amoxicillin, looked up dog dosage, and started treatment.  Our favorite human doctor fine-tuned the treatment regimen …. and now Po is doing just fine.   YAY for modern medicine!


2015-08-28 Rakhee 1 R

On the way to the airport:

Raksha Bandhan with my brother Jeswant who lives halfway to Nadi now.   First up, I put some sweets and his “rakhee bracelet” on a plate.

2015-08-28 Rakhee 2 R

Then I tie the bracelet on his wrist.

2015-08-28 Rakhee 3 Cr

Then I make him eat some of the sweets.

Then he blesses me (he’s my only brother that does this and I really appreciate it).   Then he gives me a present – this year’s was just magnificent, a saree suit, but I didn’t get a photo.  He is too generous.

2015-08-28 happy chix to Taviuni 1 R

Oustide the airport

Austin has brought chicks that he is air-freighting to Taveuni to our friends at Gaiatree Sanctuary there.

2015-08-28 happy chix to Taviuni 2 Cr

Ten dozen chicks in those four transport boxes.

2-15-08-28 friend from Congo R

In the airport

I make a new friend from the Congo!   She doesn’t speak much English, I speak a little French – we end up together all the way from check-in in Fiji to baggage claim in Honolulu.   Au revoir, Cisca!

2015-08-28 excitement at KPT 1 R

Vertical Village in Honolulu

I’ve been to Hawaii pretty many times, but this is my first time at Kuhio Park Terrace (KPT) – a pair of 17-story buildings that each house 2500 people, mostly  Micronesians.   My daughter and son-in-law live on the top floor of B-building.

2015-08-28 excitement at KPT 1 Cr

My second night here – there was loud yelling – and we went out and hung over the balcony/open hallway like everybody else.   Clara could see some guy running with a skateboard.   We heard a policeman on a bullhorn saying, “Drop Your Knife”

2015-08-28 excitement at KPT 3 R

There was an ambulance at the entrance.

2015-08-28 excitement at KPT 2 R

And at least 14 police cars.  Somebody tackled skateboard guy and big cheers went out like at a foootball game. By and by the amublance team left with an empty stretcher, and we learned later that it was a drunk guy (no surprise there) and who was involved. Oh yes, and that the ambulance was here before the fight started, for a suspected heart attack on the 4th floor.

“Mom – I’m worried about you posting about the fight, because it will perpetuate the bad rep our neighborhood already has. which is not fair..”

It’s a shame it has such a bad rep – I  Iike KPT better than any place I’ve been in Hawaii!

I love it here!   It feels like coming home!  That kerfuffle was not much different from so many drunken brawls I’ve seen all over – except the 14 police cars and the stadium atmosphere of the 17 floor building!

2015-08-28 Encheni and me R

Reunion after 30 years!

I was looking for her mom (my best friend on Tol in Chuuk) – but only she was home (because her mom is back in Chuuk for a visit).   She is Encheni – a sweet girl from I knew 30 years ago.

Encheni & Clara 1986 Cr

This is her with Clara, my Hawaii daughter, back in 1985 or 86.   There are a gazillion reasons Chuuk will always hold a very special place in my heart.  Being in a vertical village with so many Chuukese is a joy.  And it is also wonderful to hang with Marshallese and to see all the diversity of the Pacific rising on this little piece of land.

2015-08-28 Chuukese carver 1 Cr

All we’re missing is the sand under the breadfruit tree

Really, KPT even ended up with a carving shop in an unused room on the ground floor.  Maintenance took down a tree…

2015-08-28 Chuukese carver 2 R

And Samuel, this man, asked permission to use it to make carvings.   Rather than haul it off, maintenance gave him sections, and he has turned it into a successful business.   All he’s missing is shark teeth for his shark carvings.   Son-in-law Nigel will be looking in to scoring some shark teeth from Fiji for him.

happychickens-taveuni4 R

And finally – news from home

Emails have been flying back from Natasha at Gaiatree to Austin at the farm.  The chicks are doing terrifically – everyone who has bought them is ecstatic.  Natasha has sent many photos, and she’s even branded the photos!   Happy Chicken is coming up in the world!

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I’m having a holiday blast  I hope you are all having a wonderful time as well.

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20 August 2015

2015-08-20 cotton 2  R

Behold a cotton flower!  I didn’t know we had cotton growing here.  Austin says this is fine Egyptian cotton brought here in the early 1800’s.

2015-08-20 cotton 1  R

But since the bush is isolated from insects by being in the orchid house, it will never get pollinated or make cotton bolls.   Maybe someday transplanting this bush to the great out of doors will be on someone’s to do list.   (I don’t know if it is possible to transplant something that big, or if they’ll have to root cuttings and start from scratch or what.)

2015-08-20 new orchid  Cr

Also in the orchid house – a new orchid!  Droopy but pretty.

2015-08-13 farm tour 3  Cr out of season guava


All these months of guests and farm tours, I never once tagged along.  Junia was taking guests Robert and Narelle and I decided to see if Junia would point out stuff I didn’t already know.   It started with an off-season guava (above).   I did know guava, but not the season and would never have noticed just ONE guava hanging in the tree.  (I actually didn’t know we had a guava tree there above the house, either.)

2015-08-13 farm tour 1 R - jackfruit2015-08-13 farm tour 2  Cr jackfruit bud

Next – Jackfruits and baby jackfruits.    Which reminds me, a neighbor asked yesterday for some jackfruit – when it is this size or bigger and not yet sweet, it makes a wonderful curry.   We need to take down one and cut it into wedges to share around.

2015-08-13 farm tour 4  Cr  casurina tree

Further up the hill, Junia showed Robert an evergreen.   I think he said it was like a casurina, though it doesn’t look like the casurinas I remember from Guam.  Anyway – that is one more tree I’ve been seeing without noticing.  Good thing I went on the tour.

2015-08-13 farm tour 6  ornamental plant Vitex trifoliata

Heading down the hill, Ju stopped to show us this bush that looks to me like all the other bushy stuff that shows up uninvited.   Only recently did Junia notice this plant on the hill himself.  He says it is Vitex trifolia – and it can be a beautiful ornamental plant.  They used it a lot in the formal Baha’i gardens in Haifa when he was working there.   Vitex can also be made into a very nice bonsai.

2015-08-13 farm tour 5  Cr  cactus

Robert is a gardener – and this is where the guest started teaching the tour guide.   This is our pearl dragonfruit – kind of sad on the ground, and Junia didn’t know what to do with it.   Robert assured Junia that it would grow – but told him it does better with a trellis.   He sent us THIS PHOTO

Robert dragonfruit cactus

of HIS DRAGON FRUIT plant back in Australia.   Nice, eh?

pearl dragonfruit

He also sent us this photo of HIS PEARL DRAGON FRUIT.   What a magnificent colour!

2015-08-13 farm tour 7  R  roots on trees

Down in our dry streambed, Narelle pointed out the beautiful roots growing on the trees.

The tour continued, but I went left to do errands.

I will close with a few more photos Robert took of the tour and the farm.



Cocoa pods.



Ripe cocoa pods.



Cocoa fruit.



Star fruit.



Redneck chicken.



I do not have a clue!   I should have stayed on the tour!



And finally – the KITCHEN SINK with residents and the view.

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Thanks to Robert for his generosity with the photos.

May everyone have a lovely week.

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13 August 2015

2015-08-13 pearl dragon bud R

Edible cactus tree (opuntia) bud.  We’ve seen a couple of withered flowers, but not caught one in full glory.  We are starting to think it is a night bloomer.  If I catch it, I will share it.

2015-08-13 Fort Feed Co  R


Now for a tall tale that is a true one.   Austin needed to buy some feed while we are in Suva.   Rather going to trusty old Pacific Feeds in Lami, he went to a different place in Nausori.  (Both of these are suburbs of Suva in opposite directions.)   This place has a pair of gates, the inner one with a sentry post.  Austin had to sign his name to a sheet, and was given an orange vest to wear to show that he was a visitor.   While I waited patiently in the truck, I noticed the dense gathering of birds atop the fort; I assume they were waiting for grain spillage.

2015-08-13 Fort Feed Co  Cr

I checked the photo as Austin arrived, and saw that the birds were out of focus.  So I got out of the truck to get a better photo …. when the sentry came to me and told me “Taking pictures is not allowed.”   Not allowed!  Of a chicken food factory!   ha ha ha ha ha.

2015-08-13 Happy chicken 2  R


This is why Austin needed the chicken food in Suva: to give to a gentleman who just received a batch of happy chickens.

2015-08-13 Happy chicken 3  R

The gent is a chief from Kadavu Island, the island where they set up the first permanent no-take area/marine park.  Austin had wanted to reward this place with the chicken project and was exceedingly happy to find that the chief, who he has known for 16 years, was visiting Nausori.

2015-08-13 Happy chicken 1  R

So Austin have him about six dozen chicks, a bag of feed and instructions for how to build the pen and care for the chicks.

2015-08-13 curiosiy  Cr


We don’t have traffic jams in Sigatoka, but cars do get backed up around Suva pretty often.  Stuck for a few minutes returning from the happy chicken run, Austin noticed these white things.   What are they?    Ideas, anybody?

2015-08-13 Monica middleman 0  R


My enterprising daughter-in-law heard that cabbages were selling for $10/sack and so she decided to buy a few bags to send with a relative back to Lautoka, to start a vegetable stall business there.   We drove to a big field beside the river, but the proprietor wanted $15/sack.   The $10 cabbages were ACROSS the river.

2015-08-13 Monica middle man 1  R

So we drove down to the river’s edge.   The river is low and trucks routinely drive across.   But I had not done it and was feeling cowardly.   So in this photo you see Monica, her aunty and several guides wading across.

2015-08-13 Monica middleman 2  R

I just stayed in the truck, watched the wildlife, and kept thinking how I should have brought a book.   But, guess what – the middle-manning was huge success!   They got a $50 profit from $65 of vegetables.   No doubt this will be happening again.

2015-08-13 flyer 1  R


In our post office box in Suva.   I know!  I know!   It seems too good to be true!

2015-08-13 flyer 2  R

And THIS one can even fix family arguments and get your husband back from another woman.   (I wonder if there are any poisons involved?)

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Have a happy week, everybody!

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6 August 2015

2015-08-06 Funeral - photo  Cr

Thank you all for your messages of sympathy on this blog, Facebook, though emails and other means over the last week.   This photo is of my dear mother-in-law about 25 years ago: this is the lady who was my dear friend and best buddy and constant moral supporter.

I’m afraid I may have startled a few of you with the “pirate” picture with her death announcement last week – but one very good friend said it made her laugh!  That was what I hoped for, because Beamer (Doris) was such a lively, festive woman until age overtook her.

Anyway, the photos this week are mostly of the funeral – which is quite different from the Fijian and Indian funerals.

2015-08-06 Funeral -  empty grave  R

As with all non-cremating funerals, it starts with digging the grave.  Austin had already checked, and it is permissible to bury on our own land, so Akka, Junia and two manly-men house guests all took their turns breaking through the soapstone at the top of the hill up by “pineapple circle.”

2015-08-06 Funeral - coffin 1  R

In a departure from common practice in Fiji, we built our own casket.  The reason is that caskets here are made out of plywood, and Austin felt that even “marine ply” was just not strong enough or good enough.  Several years ago he bought planks of very fine native hardwood – vesi – which we have been saving until the need arose.

What a learning curve!    We figured it would take Rakesh and Junia a few hours to make the coffin.   IT TOOK TWELVE HOURS !!!   The wood was so hard it was hard to get the screws in.   Erstwhile helpful souls would drop by with suggestions (“not Dad,”  Junia assured me) – and this slowed them down a whole lot.    The delay in the coffin ended up causing a delay in the funeral – rescheduled from 10 am to 3 pm.   It was such a small funeral, the word got around with a few phone calls, and no one showed up early.

2015-08-06 Funeral - coffin 2  R

When the coffin was finished, Austin oiled it with Orange and Cinnamon essential oils.  Another odd fact about this coffin is that there were no nails or screws for the top.  The lid was so heavy and the way the structure slats fit together, the top was not going to shift or move.    Junia said the coffin was about 2x the weight of the occupant.

In case you are curious we padded the bottom with an old mattress and her favorite blanket.

2015-08-06 Funeral - decoration 1  Cr

Monica and her aunty decorated the porch of our house.

2015-08-06 Funeral - decoration 2  R

We found a number of good photos of Beamer to put out.

2015-08-06 Funeral - photo  R

And one friend made a beautiful salusalu (lei) that is on her photo at this point, but framed her face later when the body was brought home.

2015-08-06 Funeral - mourners  R

About 2:30 the guests started arriving.   I discovered after the funeral that I had only taken this one photo of the guests before most people arrived.  The children in green uniforms are from the nearby school – they had been sent to express condolences to Austin in gratitude for all he had done for the school.  We were not expecting this, because we were planning it only for the folks in the community who really knew Beamer and really wanted to say a last goodbye, but the children added a festive and very local touch to the occasion and we were happy to have them here.

But – dear God in heaven – Austin could not get the body from the morgue!   I had sent  only one paper with him instead of the 3 papers that were required.   The van driver who brought the children kindly drove to town with the papers for Austin.   My boo-boo resulted in another one hour delay.   Fiji time, Fiji time.

2015-08-06 Funeral - last prayer R

We had a brief memorial service on the porch, and then carried the coffin to the top of the hill for the final prayer before burial.

2015-08-06 Funeral - grave  R

The grave was then closed and decorated.   You see Austin with the comupter?   Family in the US attended by Skype.

2015-08-06 Funeral - grave 3  R

Later this week I was walking down the hill on that property and could look up to see the grave by our prayer benches.   It is a lovely spot, and I think Beamer is very happy to have her bones resting there.

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One flora/fauna photo ….

2015-08-06 wild gecko  Cr

Akka called me to come take a photo of this wild gecko baby he found in the roots of an orchid on the mango tree.   Life goes on …. even unexpected kinds of life!

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