29 August 2019

IMG_8529  Daisy at the fish tank  Cr.jpg

Just getting a drink of water.  Our cats prefer lightly-flavored fish water.  Eau de poisson.

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We fired the clay pots.

Here are some clay figures just dried – we have saved some for firing NEXT time.

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We fired the dinosaur and our guest’s clay pot.   Guy built a fire of coconut husks.

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I never heard of a fire from coconut husks.  We always use the shells for cooking – all I knew burning husks for was mosquito smudges and bee smokers.

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Silly me.  Those husks got nice and hot.  The clay items were in the middle of the husks.

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After about 20 minutes the husks had burned down.  We saw the glowing edge of the pot – Guy uncovered it with a bent bar.   It lost its heat glow as soon as it cooled a little bit.

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Here it is on top of the ashes.

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The Lamb Man came back with two little ewes.

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We are accepting suggestions for names.  Austin came up with “Mary” and “Contrary” – but even he doesn’t think they are good enough.

They went down to the sheep area without too much trouble – okay, our dogs were a big hassle, but other than that, no problem.  But then we needed to get Curly the Little Ram back up to the Lamb Man’s truck.

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Curly didn’t want to go.

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He really didn’t want to go.

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Sad Curly ….  who was about to become the King Solomon of the Lamb Man’s herd.   Top dog.   We know he is happy now.

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Savasava (SA-va-sa-VA) means “clean”

Savata (sa-VA-ta) means “to clean”

Savata na peleti – means “to clean the dishes (plates)”   (This is what I knew to say)

Yaya – means “stuff” (items)

Yaya ni kana  – means “stuff for food” – i.e. “dishes”   (This is what Honorable Barefoot Professa just told me.)

Daughter-in-law Mami found something better for savata na yaya ni kana than the crappy commercial sponges.

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Coconut husk.   Yes!

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Happy week, everybody!

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22 August 2019

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Little clouds nestled in the hills at dawn.   It was a nice start to the day, and a nice start to the week (in my camera).

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Holes in the ground under my clothesline.  Almost fell because of one.  What were they?  Then I see This.

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Junia says they do this to cool off.   Seriously?  They never did it under my clothesline before.

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I’m not the only one asking irritated questions.  Son Guy was going through a storage box in which he had left items when he moved overseas.  He got out his hiking boots.

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“What happened to my shoes????”

The soles were mostly gone.  My guess is Ants.

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Some neighbors came to my house for the first time, and left with a memento:


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A furry, bundle-of-love memento:  Blanca the pup.   (It can be hard finding homes for the females, and these friends were really happy because they want a female on their farm so they can get More Pups!  Hooray!)

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That was all I had until this morning.   It didn’t seem enough, so I went to get one more item and then the day mushroomed out of control.

First off:  Mushrooms.

The kids went to a mushroom workshop about a month ago.  Austin had Rakesh extend the orchid house/nursery into the nearby decommissioned chicken villa.  The kids tried mushrooms there.   They didn’t work.  The mushroom folks did a site visit – said it was great, just needed shelves.  I never looked.   Yesterday, my son comes to the kitchen with a big basin of mushrooms!  I had to go see.

Ok!  I see them growing.  Just wish it were something we could keep replicating without outside resources….

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Meanwhile, poking around the nursery – which looks really beautiful now – I am struck by the numerous …

2019-08-22 ice cream tub planters with pineapple R

beautiful square planting tubs we have.  Seriously there must be a hundred in the nursery.  Those are ice cream tubs – also used as doggie dishes and water bowls for all the chicken pens.   Tuckers should pay us to advertise for them!

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Guy and Junia have started curing the inside of the rocket stove.  It is crazy.


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This is the low bowl.  The fire goes here – and the flames go sideways as the heat is sucked up and out the tall chimney.   I put my hand over this fire and it did not feel hot at all, only warm.  Above the chimney – YEOW!

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Then:  Handicrafts

We have a guest who wanted to try out the handicraft activities – so I got my friends

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Handicraft team – Lanieta and Venaisi.

Lanieta got Junia to cut some coconut leaves –

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–  and he pretended to dance.  What else is new.

2019-08-22 Venaisi teaches pottery 1  Cr.jpg

Venaisi taught pottery.  Man, I am so out of it – when she said we could make clay bowls and fire the bowls in one day, I did not realize this is two different bowls.  The new bowl has to dry for 2 or 3 days.  Oops.  Anyway, Guy is here and will help our guest fire her bowl the morning before she leaves…

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Lanieta taught weaving – but ended up just using the pandanus  she brought instead of the leaves we cut.

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Also:   Three more folks in today’s madhouse

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A  sweet turn of events is that a Fiji Times crew showed up wanting to do a piece on the homestay (suddenly we are media darlings) – and they ended up interviewing Lanieta and Venaisi – locals who are teaching handicrafts, and also Ashmita, our Kitchen Angel, who was teaching cooking to our guest today as well.   “Locals in business” sounds a lot better to me than “another foreigner with a successful business” – right?

( Still waiting on the link from Fiji One TV who did air the segment on us a couple of nights ago, and we’ve heard about it but not seen it.  The Fiji Times article will be easily found, and will then be wrapping roti parcels and lining the chick boxes for months to come 🙂 )

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FIJIAN WORD of the Week

I think I’ve told you all these before:

Madua  (mahn-doo-ah) – means “ashamed.”  I have to make a correction to last week’s word of the week ….

Isa, isa   –  “alas, alas.”

Au ulukau.   –  “I  blockhead”  (that might not be good grammar, but would be understandable).

The problem is that “lips” are  TEBE  ni  gusu  (tem-bay ni ngoo-soo) – not that other thing I said.  I got confused, but do not know the word for “confused.”

Isa, isa.

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Hope you have a happy week.

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15 August 2019

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Puppy invasion!  They are getting so big now.   And what complications!  Winky, their mom, started attacking two of the fellows doing yard work, so Austin put them in the pool area.  That was ok by day (the night we left them in there, they whined all night).

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And now they are starting to leave for their furever homes.   This is John, the “Lamb Man.”   He is the man who traded Austin the three sheep for some geese.  Now he needs one of our males because his breeding ram got stolen.  He will take Curly, and will give us a nursing ewe with a baby female in exchange.  Oh hooray!  We will not need to trade away Lambchop!

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You remember the beautiful new tea area?  It is in the former location for cane knives and other junk …. so Austin said he’d build a new tool shed out by the pizza oven.

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Looky!   That is some “tool shed” – looks like a cantina.  All we need is colored lights and a bartender!

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More is going on behind this wall, too.   My son Guy cannot just visit and hang around.  This year’s project:  a rocket stove!

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Junia stomps the clay.

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Guy has packed the clay and sand around pipes and stuff to shape the stove.

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It is dry, and the forms were successfully removed.

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Now it needs to finish drying (cure) for two weeks and we can try it out.   I think we make the fire in the short bowl and we can cook on both holes.   Stay tuned.

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Daughter-in-law Mami also got creative.

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She bought this huge and pretty jar and has tried making syrup out of the wi fruit.   Guy very clerverly put a few drops of apple cider vinegar into it so we wouldn’t end up with wi wine – ha ha.

We also knew the wi fruit in Micronesia as “Deutch mango” – but it is not called that anywhere else.  The scientific name is Spondias dulcis parkinson – which I was able to find in Suliana Siwatibau’s book about medicinal plants of Fiji.

I’m having a glass of the wi cordial right now, and it is pretty good!

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Last weekend had the annual Firewalking at the temple down the road.  A group of South Indians comes here every winter to carry out the ceremony.   The devotees stay at the temple for a week in prayer and fasting.  On Saturday night the hosts put on religious plays all night long – this becomes a community party with many families settling in at the temple for the whole night to enjoy the entertainment.  Humongous logs are being burned. At 4:00 A.M the devotees go to the river to bathe, then dress in yellow robes and come back to the temple for the grand event.

Kiki was here for the weekend, and we went to the temple at dawn for the firewalking.

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First the devotees circumambulate the temple.

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The leaders are first over the coals.

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Then the others each take their turn on coals.

Some aspects of the event appeal to me, and I’m always really proud of the children I know who successfully take part in this test of faith.

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“Butterfly” or “moth” is bebe  (mBAYm-bay).

Here is Austin with a cloud of bebe that showed up one morning.

DSC_0379 Austin and butterflies.jpeg

Another word is “mouth” – gusu (ngOO-soo).   What do they have to do with each other?

Because “LIPS” are bebe ni gusu – “butterflies of the mouth.”

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Happy week, everybody.

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8 August 2019


It’s been more than a year since we have harvested honey.  Visiting son Guy was chomping at the bit.  Every day was too rainy or had too many visitors.  Finally, an ok day arrived.  (Sorry I only got a few photos.)

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Faith used the “hive tool” to scrape the caps off the honeycomb cells of the tray.

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Guy put the put the trays in the extractor and spun, spun, spun.  (He also scraped trays)

2019-08-05 Honey  3  Cr.jpg

Then he held the trays up to the light to make sure the honey was all spun out.  (He also did all the storing, all the straining of the beeswax, and almost all the cleanup.)

We have heaps of honey – as well as bees coming around to accuse us – and one bees-waxy pot I still haven’t quite figured out how to dewax.

In any event – it is a sweet time to visit, y’all.

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I really wanted to go down to the geese and sheep pen.

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See anything new?

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What about now?

Mo, our female sheep, gave birth a couple of weeks ago, but I hadn’t seen the lamb yet.  It’s a boy, and his name is  “Lambchop”  – Cute, eh?

2019-08-05 Lambchop 2  Cr.jpg

We love him, but since we already have two grown males, it’s not going to work to keep him.   Austin’s planning to try to trade him for a little female so that the younger ram will have a mate, too.

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My little grandson was walking around with an egg in his hand.  I told my son and he went and got the egg, brought it to me … and SQUEEZED it!   It squeaked!   It was a toy I didn’t know about.  Oh – ha ha.

So then the next day, I see this:

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An egg up in the bush outside the kitchen.  The toy egg, right?   WRONG.  The toy egg was not on top of the fridge.  So what is with the egg in the bush?   Austin said a hen laid it up there.  Huh?

Guy saw it.  Junia saw it.  We all thought it was weird.  Finally Junia went to look ….

It was an eggshell someone threw out the window.  Mystery solved.

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FIJIAN WORD of the Week

I got serious about studying Fijian again … but it’s work.

Cakacaka  (THA-ka-THA-ka) means “work”

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Happy week, everybody.

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