29 November 2018

Gah!  A week has gone and I have virtually no memory of it!  And hardly any photographic memory joggers.  Dang!

2018-11-23 Kiki at six R

Kiki had his birthday here.

2018-11-25 sheep tails Cr

The lambs finally showed up.

Yep – their tails are not like goat tails.

2018-11-27 lovo food in wheelbarrow R

We had a lovo to say goodbye to a dear visitor to the neighborhood.    It had been so rainy we thought we’d have to cook the food in the gas oven.  Although it cleared up, and Junia was able to do a proper lovo, somehow the guests didn’t get the news and nobody was there to see it get opened.  I showed up myself at the very end.  So I call this “Food in the Wheelbarrow.”

2018-11-28 Bryce flies away

Bryce at airport.

To give you an idea of my week – the day of the lovo we found out that Bryce was flying out the next day (I thought he was leaving in  early December).  Bryce was set to go the next day to Suva and Rakiraki!  Good thing Akka talked with Bryce’s mom!!!!!

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Fast (as in “speedy”) is totolo.

I was wanting to say Bryce’s time here went too fast – but totolo is all I’ve got.

It’s nearly December, and my goal of learning Fijian by the end of the year is looking less and less likely.   So it looks like y’all will be getting “Fijian Word of the Week” for an unspecified extra set of weeks.  Oh well.

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Happy week, everybody.

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22 November 2018

2018-11-18 Oja Santa roots R

These are roots from the oja santa plant (Spanish name O-ha SAN-ta, meaning “holy leaf”).  A month ago Austin used this with some Indian seeds (choot malanga?) and was able to pass some tiny kidney stones that were causing him back pain.  This week he started having the same twinges again and so got more oja santa roots.  Worked again.  🙂

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And he’s off.  Gone to Tuvalu to do work on the coral reefs there.

For years no one was interested in Austin’s coral work.  Now everything is bleaching because of rising ocean temperatures, and now organizations all over are calling for him to come help.

He just got one more reef-assisting strategy to try:

2018-11-18 Iron Chelate chill pills R

Coral reef “chill pills”

An old fellow who collects corals for the aquarium trade told Austin a trade secret for keeping corals alive … he’d been trying to tell scientists this secret for decades and no one would listen.  Iron chelate.  Throw a little iron in the water and the corals would keep their color (i.e. not die).

So Austin had me buy some iron chelate overseas.   Then he figured out he could make slow-release clods by mixing it with plaster of paris.   He used all my muffin tins and chocolate molds.   Man!  But the reefs are worth it.

Control studies now in progress.

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The “Austin” of Mechanical Stuff

This week I met GEORGE, a European man living near Nausori  who is an enthusiastic, do-gooding junkyard genius.  He is working with Austin to come up with low cost foam incubators that will work on solar power for village use.  Here are a few of his gazillion other projects in progress:

2018-11-20 George fridge student desk R

A student desk made out of an old refrigerator.  When finished, this will last for decades, unlike the fiber board desks that start falling apart with the first coffee spill.  George is thrilled whenever he finds old major appliances.  Often his team can repair them, and if not, the materials are strong and durable.  Having low cost, durable items will help families rise out of poverty.

2018-11-20 George washer tub garden pot R

A container garden made out of the tub of a washing machine.   The government is encouraging urban dwellers to have container gardens, but with little pots you cannot get much growth.  This washtub can have a rich complex garden that can feed a family.

2018-11-20 George scuba tank press R

A press made out of a pair of old scuba tanks.   If the tanks were lined up perfectly, it could be used for pressing juice from sugar cane.  Since the guys who did the work got the holes offset, George can’t use it for cane.  Instead he uses it to press spathodia boards.  Spathodia!  My most hated tree ever!  George makes very nice wood from it – lightweight like balsa.  He calls it “tulip wood.”

Oh and there is so much more!  George’s goal, like Austin’s, is not to be doing all these things for himself, but to test out what works and then train others so that they can do it for themselves.   Someday I will do a whole blog about George and his workshop complex.

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Fijian Word of the Week

2017-03-12 chicken parade - one chicken Cr

Toa  (TOE-ah)  – chicken

2018-01-25 rooster Cr Cr

Tamani toa  (ta-MA-nee  TOE-ah) – rooster (literally Father Chicken)

2014-09-23 Kiki with chicks Cr Cr

Luveni toa (loo-VEH-nee TOE-ah) – chick (literally Baby Chicken)

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Happy week, everybody

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15 November 2018


Austin and I spent more than half the week at Plantation Island where he was doing coral work.  Before we left,

2018-11-11 Bryce on Plantation Is. R

thirteen year old “nephew” Bryce came to visit.  We became close to his family a few years ago when they were in Fiji.  He was hankering to come back and we said sure.  Kicking off his 3-week stay at Plantation was definitely a bonus!

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One night at Plantation I saw one of the ODDEST things I’ve ever seen  (Austin was making me come over to see it):  a catfish ball.

2018-11-11 catfish ball 1 Cr

They look like little algae patches.  In this photo there are actually two catfish balls.  The near one is tight and is made up of baby catfish.  The further one is looser and is made up of toddler catfish.  They are “stinging catfish” (reportedly.  I kept my distance.)

2018-11-11 catfish ball 2 R

Here are the babies, close up.

2018-11-11 catfish ball 3 Cr

This is the best photo of the toddlers.

And a big THANK YOU to Desmond who sent me the photos he took, since I didn’t have my camera with me.

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Came back to the farm, where it was rain, rain and more rain.  I shouldn’t complain, it has been so dry for so long … but this is my excuse for not getting out and around.

Bryce is desperate to go fishing, so I spent all rainy yesterday inside repairing the old fishing net.  It consisted of cutting the poles and the weights off the old net, and sewing the new net to both.

Took me All Day!   At least it turned out well 🙂

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Soso is “mud.”  Why would I be thinking of that?

Anyhow there is a fancy development going up near Nadi:  Naisoso.  They advertise it as being “so so wonderful.”   Ha!  Their name means The Mud.

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Happy week, everybody.

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8 November 2018

Because I wasn’t the only one who thought our “lambs” looked an awful lot like goats….  Dr. Smarty Pants tells me you can tell they are lambs because of the tails.  Lambs have floppy down tails.  Yes:  Larry, Curly and Mo have floppy down tails. (no photos – they aren’t inside the pool fence any more – God only knows where they are by day, at night they sleep up near the water tank.  When I went up to get a photo of their tails, they got scared and ran away before I could point ant shoot.)

Anyhow.  These are goat tail.


Stubby sticky-up tails.  Who’d have noticed?

Fauna for the week – check.

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These are Surinam cherries.

2018-11-07 Surinam cherry Cr

Austin just got the bush and will plant it here.  I remember it growing as a hedge at my friends’ house in Miami when I was a kid.  Fruits tasted the same on their bush, a little astringent.

Flora for the week – check.

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So … an update on the Sigatoka fire that happened while I was gone.

I re-posted this photo on my Facebook on 1st October.

Sgtka fire from FB 2 oct 18 R

This was 4 stores in downtown Sigatoka, just beside the bus stand.

2018-10-25 Sgtka fire damage R

When I got home and went to town on 25 October, it looked like this and still smelled like cinders.

2018-10-28 Sgtka fire Kishor on the job R

A few days later I got this photo of clearing being done.   The main point is that the digger driver is “our guy” Kishor who has done all the digging here at the farm.  And also that progress was being made.

2018-11-06 sgtka fire all cleaned out R

By Tuesday of this week, all the clearing was done.

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Wednesday – yesterday – was Diwali.  People come and bring sweets.   Austin offered some of HIS diwali sweets to a guest.

2018-11-07 Diwali sweets soap R


Those are soaps he made in a workshop.

2018-10-27 workshop soap R

The day I got home from overseas, 14 people arrived for a week-long workshop.

2018-10-28 workshop crowd R

Then 8 more people were here during the week I was in Suva.  Busy busy.  They all cleared out last Friday, as I came home.  It’s been a peaceful week.

Except for Diwali.

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Diwali is time for sweets.  It is also time for firecrackers.  Every night people are setting them off, and the noise scares the dogs who rush to hide near us.

Yesterday was Diwali itself. Some neighbors and friends were setting off firecrackers in the yard while they visited on the veranda.  Two lit firecrackers went into the house unnoticed.  By the time a daughter noticed a burning smell, the mattress and curtains were ablaze … and the entire house and its contents turned to ash.

2018-11-07 Diwali neighbor fire R

Seems impossible that so much can be lost so fast.

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“Fire” is bukawaqa  (boo-ka-WAHNG-ga).

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Have a safe and happy week, everybody.

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