About Kim in Fiji

Grammy of Keith.

25 May 2023

This week we had back-to-back workshops with Californian high school students sponsored by Insight Global Education. Just the foliage out our window seemed to be of great interest. Our workshops were all FAUNA based.

First up was coconuts. Tuesday’s group we just did scraping. For yesterday’s group Junia got the bright idea to teach them how to open a coconut.

How to find the right spot to whack. Please note the audience’s smiles.

One solid WHACK to open it. The sound was that of a cracking whip. Some folks were still applauding as Junia showed the opened nut.

Then some volunteers got a chance to try. The first person looked serious but only went Tap. Tap. Tap tap. TAP and open. This boy went Whack – and we all heard a correct sound. “You’ve got it!” Junia proclaimed, and helped him find the cracked seam to pry the nut apart.

After that, they took turns scraping – I’ve shown that lots of times.

After lunch, Junia took everybody up to the pavilion to talk about Food Security. This is the issue that they are studying during their 2 weeks in Fiji. The leader said all the kids were paying attention and asking good questions.

The third part was by far the most popular – really sorry I didn’t get photos. The third part was CHOCOLATE. Chocolate is always a popular feature here – but it really bumped up a notch at the 11 day workshop because our neighbor gave Akka an old tukituki (metal pounding bowl and pounder). Now with a chocolate workshop, folks get to taste cacao fruit, learn about the fermenting, drying and roasting process, see the electric grinder, and take a try at mashing roasted nibs by hand old-school style. Afterwards, Akka made fresh chocolate hot chocolate for everyone – that it was a hit is an understatement. One boy was walking around in a daze, saying it was the most delicious thing he’d ever had in his life – well, one of the five most delicious things….ever…


All I’ve got for fauna is this:

I was wondering about the funny fingernail thing on Austin’s dresser. It was a Rooster Spur. He had a pair of them.


Ok, so for what I was doing last week instead of hanging out at the workshop. My bright idea:

A Blind Man’s Quilt.

I’ve got this sweet friend Martin. The weather has gotten cold. I thought what about a quilt with a bunch of different textures that Martin will be able to “see”?

Here is the finished product.

Here is a close up detail of 5 of the 18 or so different cloths I used.

Top left is polyester curtain material with cotton- twine X’s. Top right is dress cotton quilted in big squares. Bottom right is the back side of baby flannel (it’s fuzzier) secured with little ties. Bottom middle is denim. Bottom right is velvet that I tried to tack down like a pincushion. Every time the same cloth appeared it got the same treatment.

And here is Martin with his quilt.

He’d just found the handtowel. 🙂


Happy week, everybody.


18 May 2023

Hi, Y’all. For me the big news this week was this:

I’ll just call it our “cannibal pot.” We bought TWO of them. Here is one on its first use, almost a week ago. Keanu was looking, Vina was stirring, Ashmita was standing by.

Here it is, on probably its fourth use, just yesterday. Vina and Ashmita are in kalavata (matching clothes) for the goodbye day. They have taught Nicole how to make rice palau in the cannibal pot, stirring with the little oar.

Here was the goodbye photo taken just before the first van left.

Looking at it – I can see what is wrong with this picture. Three of the guys are missing! (Volavola, Manasa and Sailosi). Sheesh.

And the gang from Naidiri (Yves, Mana, Vasa, Meli and Kevu) had already left. AND the two Swedish girls (Paulina and Ronja) were also gone. We had a LOT more guests than this photo indicates. Non-Teitei folks in the photo are Lai, Wilson, Carl, Arieta, Annelise, Aaron, Miriama, Axel, Kesa, and Saimone. For much of the workshop we were hosting 19-20.

I don’t have any photos from Akka’s chocolate workshop, which was a great hit, or of the ladies’ cooking all kinds of wild greens workshop, which was also a great hit – or of any of Junia or Austin’s stuff. Guess why. Because I didn’t go.

Guess why I didn’t go. Correct guesses will be acknowledged next week.


Happy week, everybody.


11 May 2023

Cops at our place. Again! (Who else but me is thinking “here come da fuzz?” Ha ha)

Just another friendly “site visit” – I like to think it is so that we know them if we need to call on them.


OK – the mystery from last week. Dust in the laundry room.

Here is a new photo through the laundry room:

No trees there any more!

New toilet and shower block beside the house
New shower has a hot water heater – and it works!

Behind the laundry room is the old laundry sink – now under a roof, all scrubbed up and with Ashmita!

The washing machines are on the other side of this wall.

So that should explain the dust, but that is not all that we did.

Sorry I did not get before photos, guys. Those who have been here will probably remember the mess that was the downstairs of the big wood house.

This is not a “before” picture – this is the tool room that is still down there. But the rest is largely changed.

This is the room that had incubators and the big boxes of chicks for sale.

Now a six bed dorm room…. another bunk bed was added after I took this photo.

The open room at the bottom that used to be filled with wood, cardboard boxes and unused solar panels is now a sitting room that, with black-lined curtains pulled, is dark enough for showing films in the daytime.

The sink that was in the incubator room is now in the sitting room – I see a possible mini-kitchen down there in the future.

And finally – not a big change, but it makes me happy.

The trainee room, usually referred to as “Faith’s room” (cause she lived in it for nearly a year), now has New Curtains – matching the rest of the renovated downstairs.

AND why do we have all these changes?

A whole bunch of people, a few of whom are pictured here, for an eleven-day livelihoods workshop sponsored by the angels at Kyeema Foundation. We really have three houses full.

Here is one of the projects that has been going on: making fish houses

The last one cracked because it was drying too fast, but it is still usable. The different shapes will attract different sea creatures, and it is all good. The pvc pipe sticking out is to make them easy to carry. And if I made any mistakes, Dr. Smarty Pants will make me put in corrections next week. 🙂


My friend Linda invited us to connect with nature in honor of John on 10 May. I did a wee walk, and found myself pulled here:

An amazingly fruitful coconut tree right behind our clothesline that I had never noticed before. Fruitfulness was one of John’s many magnificent attributes.


Happy week, everybody.


4 May 2023

Busy! Busy! Busy! You will get details on that next week.

for now…..


Costus out our porch window in the morning fog.

Costus is a beautiful flower, and with surprisingly edible leaves. I covered costus in detail on 25 October 2018: https://ffwrfromfiji.wordpress.com/2018/10/24/25-october-2018/


A cat on the washing machine.

courtesy of Akka. He said the machine was very dusty, and he could not resist.

Why was the washer so dusty? Stay tuned.


Only because I was waiting at the dentist office and got bored. I made another crostic poem, where the title provides the first letter for each line. Here goes:


Fair footwear

Life without you would be

Incredibly difficult.  You are

Priceless, though cheap.

Flat and sturdy,

Little trouble to get in and

Out of many times a day.

Please never leave with

Somebody else.

Fiji is great, but we have lived in places where we had to carve our initials into our flipflops so that we could claim them when they had walked away. I won’t name the place, but the Spaniards named it Islas de los Ladrones (Islands of the Theives)..

Flipflops overlooking the field of costus. How poetic!


Happy week, everybody.


27 April 2023

FLORA – this beautiful white hibiscus that Kiki picked and brought to our Teitei guest and me. Gorgeous, eh?

FAUNA – frankly, I did not pay much attention to the fauna. I should have. So should Akka. Ashmita told him there were spiders in the room 2 where the guest was, but he did not go spray. Our poor guest: she got bites. When she left, she assured us she had had a good time – that we were 85% wonderful. Eighty-five percent? Yes. We were 85% wonderful and 15% spiders. OOPS. Have to fix that!

Otherwise, fauna-wise – for this week I resorted to poetry.

This poem is in the form of a crostic, where each letter of the title is the first letter of a verse.


Hungry! I’m a walking stomach. peck peck peck peck

Egg! I’ve laid an Egg! Brrrrrruuuuk brrrrrrruuuk bruuuuuuuuk

Nesting now. I’ll show you what BROODY is. Do not disturb… or else!


What I was really doing this week: finishing another quilt. The firetruck one for Keanu. It is by far the cutest quilt I have ever made and so I am going to show lots of details.

Nicole did the basic design, and picked out all the cloth at the store. After everything was basically laid out, Granddaddy (Austin) was invited to put in his two cents. The MONKEYS were his idea.

Here is the fire truck.

The building.

The fire. This is the weak part – it needed to be ragged, but the satin was too shreddy. At the base in the pale yellow is the ouline of Keanu’s hand.

The Tool Box – which is a pocket. K. F. D. is for Keanu Fire Department.

The helicopter. I put this in at the last because the top left of the quilt was boring.

So anyway, I took it down to Keanu on Tuesday. Here is how it was received:

Ha ha


Happy week, everybody.


20 April 2023

Rain, which I thought was GONE. I’m not going to mention weather any more!


The biggest plant thing to me this week was that Akka chopped down the big avocado tree right out the kitchen window.

I saw him sitting in a branch with the tree mostly gone. SNIFF! That was a wonderful tree — gave us so many wonderful avocados. I guess we have several other fruitful trees, and that one WAS blocking the view a bit. Still, it hurt seeing it dismembered.

That night at Happy Circle, I found out it hurt more than that. Akka was happy that, “My phone didn’t get broken and I didn’t get hurt worse than I was.” WHAT ???? Turns out that just after we were talking, the branch he was sawing somehow bounced back and the dead branch he was resting his feet on broke. He got popped out of the tree (on the steep hill) in one direction and his phone went flying a different direction. The phone was fine, and Akka got a bruised rib and a sore thumb joint.

Happier Flora

I was hunting here for my elusive fauna

Bushy weeds, but pretty ones.


The original purpose of this blog, started nearly 10 years ago, was to inspire me to OBSERVE my environment more. So yesterday rolled around and I still had not paid attention to any animals. Then while taking a walk, some little yellow butterflies caught my eye. Hooray! Butterflies! I thought. Super interesting and nearly impossible to catch.

Those little yellow ones are so stinkin’ fast! I saw them on the road below the house, and completely lost them! I saw some beside our house in the yellow flower bush, and lost them.

I found a bigger butterfly, that finally landed on a branch – and using the zoom function on the phone, I was able to get a shot.

And finally, FINALLY, I got shots of the yellow one.

Here it is, resting for a split second. First is the location – the butterfly is on a leaf inside the marked circle. Next is that photo enlarged.

And here is the ONE shot I was able to get of that yellow butterfly in flight.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.


I realized there is a piece of infrastructure that went up during my blog hiatus.

Behold a new nursery, funded by the Pacific Development and Conservation Trust from New Zealand. Austin is trying to tell me the history of this Development Trust – it came from money from a legal suit that NZ won because of the sinking of the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior. This nursery is beside the hatchery, and Junia is growing seedlings of trees for the forest and for permaculture in it.


We have another member of the Teitei family living in the compound and most of you do not know him yet.

This is Eroni.

He is our main Happy Chicken Man, and he helps out with whatever he sees.

Eroni’s brother Vula lived with us in Suva for a few years and was like an extra son; but we barely knew Eroni. Eroni went to serve in the Baha’i gardens in Israel, and at the end of his eight years, he sent word to Junia to ask Austin if he could work here. That was a surprise, but we decided to let him come here for awhile.

Now he is a total keeper. One more “sonny boy” on the farm. :)


Happy week, Everybody.


13 April 2023

It’s really not raining any more. But I’m afraid the months of deluge really impacted our agriculture. Vegetables are very expensive in our market; meanwhile, according to my friend Manik, the veggies from Tailevu (east side of this island – the “rainy” side) are now very cheap. I think they got our weather. It is crazy. Sigatoka was always the Salad Bowl…. now what are we?


This is tej pathee – curry leaf. It grows in great abundance, gets infested with aphid like insects so we abandon that bush, then find it growing somewhere else. This is a new bush – well, one I just discovered. Very healthy.


Can you guess what this is?

Here is a close up.


I don’t know the proper name for it, but it is matted fur that came off the belly of one of the sheep. Austin was going to throw it away, but I rescued it, thinking it ought to be good for something. But I still can’t think of anything.

If you have any uses in mind, please tell me. Otherwise, I guess I’ll trim it to an oval and use it for a floor mat.


Two Kiki pix

Keith wanted to demo how to scape a coconut, but he had not actually scaped one by hand before, so I showed him how. Some people call it “scratching” a coconut, and that is a better description. You go scratch-scratch-scratch, shift, scratch-scratch-scratch, shift, etc. Kiki got as good as me Very Quickly.

Keith in his scout uniform. The sulu (skirt) is actually supposed to just be below the knees, but his upper body is so developed that he had to get the bigger size.. The serrated hem is traditional – traffic policemen still wear white sulus with the serrated hem. I took the photo just this morning, and only now notice I let him go to school in flipflops. Oops.

CULTURE CORNER – a Muslim funeral

My dear friend died on Saturday night. We took her body to the hospital. Her funeral was on Sunday morning.

My neighbor was Muslim, and this was my first Muslim funeral. I have posted about Hindu, Fijian and Baha’i funerals in this blog. But I was so unready for anything just a few hours after her death, it did not occur to me to take a single photo. It did not occur to me to try to observe the proceedings. I simply attended.

The men sat under a very large tarp canopy outside. The women sat on the large porch of the house. Everyone was mostly silent. A hundred people or more in Muslim dress arrived. Representatives from every household in our community were there. With no notice to speak of at all, this was quite a large funeral. My friend’s body lay on a pallet in the middle of the porch, covered by a heavy green sheet.

At some point a kindly Muslim gent came and spoke to the ladies. I’m told that he said they would uncover her body now for viewing, and that everyone could look, but please do not touch. I did not go to view the body again, as I had seen her last night. She just looked like she was sleeping.

Men washed hands and feet for a few moments at a sink by the porch – then went to perform a prayer. I wandered into the kitchen where my friend’s Fijian relatives were hanging out. I hung out, too, visiting them. I found it more comfortable than sitting quietly.

After awhile, I heard Austin’s voice really clearly – his voice carries. Turned out he was making a speech at the husband’s invitation. Turned out that was the closing speech. Whatever service there was at the house, I had missed it.

The body was wrapped in the mat and the cloth, and carried to a van. Most of the men left for the cemetery also. I assume there was a graveside service at the cemetery – I hope to attend a graveside service some day to understand it better.

Anyway, respectful care of the body is breathtakingly speedy, but the Muslim funeral process itself is not overly quick. Now the family has embarked on nightly prayers for forty nights. Everyone is welcome. That gives a blessed space for grief and healing.


Thank you all for reading along. I hope you all have a blessed week.


6 April 2023

I woke up this morning with chilly feet: in the southern hemisphere we are going into autumn. But the coconut oil is still liquid, so we haven’t gone into a tropical freeze yet.


On my way up to the pavilion, I was surprised by a cactus flower.

Actually there were a lot of cactus flowers.

All those cacti had buds or blooms. And also the crown of thorns plant.

I like this photo because it shows the thorns and the flower, and also some weird moss. That moss is stuck on. It is like dueling natures are competing. One side wants thorns and the other side wants to cover up and soften them.

I wasn’t going up to the pavilion on a flower-hunting mission – that was just a bonus. I wanted to see the graveled path Eroni was making to the pavilion. (We need the path because when it rains, walking up the hill and across the flat is a soggy slog. Ick.)

It’s getting there. This path, when extended will enter the pavilion straight on. The flower lined path for the last twenty feet or so will have to be shifted to the right. Right?

I also wanted to show y’all the beautiful tiles.

The tiling is all done except for the step. When I went up the first time to look at them, there was a large ring of droppings on them from birds roosting in the cupola. Ugh.

It took a few days, but Austin dealt with it.

He hung four pairs of old CDs, shiny sides out, from rafters in the cupola. Birds feel threatened by the flashy lights and they no longer tarry there. It reminds me of my great aunt hanging pie tins in her cherry tree.


I know long-time readers want to catch up on the dogs. Surprisingly we have exactly the same cohort that we had two years ago.

Jumper – the lord of the compound.

Winky – the lady of the compound.

And Po, the dowager queen.


We were really happy that JoyceLee was able to come visit. Joyce is Monica and Akka’s daughter who now lives with Monica’s father and some extended family in Lautoka.

Here she is with Keanu and Kiki. We were so happy to see how much she loves books.

Joyce and Granddaddy.

Kiki made her a birthday cake.

Happy happy. Joyce’s other grandmother “Ta Droka” is the woman in the photo.


I’d wanted to tell you just a little more about the **Woo-Hoo** project boat. Austin has an assistant named Wilson who is both learning the coral strategies and has also become a licensed boat driver.

With the boat, Austin and Wilson now have the flexibility to do a lot more monitoring and to set up nurseries in more places. All very interesting.

It was possible to purchase the boat and engine and necessary equipment because of a one-year grant from UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme) and from donations to Global Giving. Here is a link for those who are interested in Austin’s project: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/emergency-response-to-massive-coral-bleaching/

Now for the most INTERSTING thing about the boat to me. What color would you say the interior is? I would say white. Right?


It’s not white. It is gray.

Austin and Wilson explained that they were careful to get a gray interior because it reflects less light and does not lead to cataracts as quickly as white paint does. Once I was told, I could see it.


Hope you all have a happy week.


30 March 2023

Austin’s cousin Anne arrived for her promised visit, and so our week was extra full. Some of my many photos will have to wait for a slow week.

The week started with a lovely double rainbow.

Just outside the kitchen.

The next morning, Akka was processing cocoa to get ready for chocolate-making workshops he has coming up.

These are the cocoa fruits.

Bust the pods open to get to the seeds. The flesh around the seeds is a bit sweet and a bit tangy – really tasty. You’d never guess they are from the same fruit that gives chocolate.

Get the seeds, sucked off or not, into a bucket where they need to ferment for a few days.

After fermentation, they can be frozen to be used later – or they can be roasted now.

Here is a pan of cocoa seeds Akka just roasted. He needs to get cocoa at all the stages of the process to do the workshops in May. We’ll see the rest of the chocolate-making process then.


Next morning, Akka carried this in

Any idea what it is?

It’s heart of palm. Austin is moving chicken houses, and there was a coconut tree where one of them needs to go – hence the harvesting of it. Heart of palm is the main ingredient in Millionaire Salad.

Heart of palm is the baby coconut leaves that have not come out yet. It is tender, sweet, crunchy, delicious. Austin noted this and said that it is no wonder coconut rhinoceros beetles go for it.

We hate these beetles for damaging the poor coconut trees.

Here is a mild case of beetle damage, right outside the kitchen. It looks like the leaves have been hacked off by a machete. They can utterly cripple a tree in bad cases of infestation.


Austin needed to do fieldwork and wanted to take his cousin and me along. So off to Suva we went…

Suddenly we were at Korova (“village four”), a kind of long-time squatter-ish settlement (the chief gave permission), at the home of our dear old friend Semiti. I have written about Semiti before – on 17 December 2015, if you want to look it up. (boy, that is WEIRD, I just re-read that post. That week I also posted about a rainbow — I don’t do that very often, and about wearing a sari — I’m not sharing the pictures, but cousin Anne and I went to the temple in saris a few days ago …. It’s like this week is a repeat of that week. SOOOOOOO weird)

Semiti is a master builder of traditional boats. I asked him if he was still building boats, and he said yes, and directed me to the end of his house.

A beautiful model. But I thought it was so sad in a way that this master builder was only building scale models. Now I see that eight years ago I had a photo of Semiti with another model. Man!

Anyway, I asked if there were any big boats any more, and he smiled, saying yes. He led us to the area where his big boats are. Two of them

A big drua – double hull canoe. And I forget the name of this one

Under the blanket is a single hull canoe. It probably has an outrigger. Semiti has not worked on the boats for a few years, and he says he needs to get his little brother to finish them. Austin thinks maybe a resort would buy them. They look kind of beat up to me, but Semiti says they would both be seaworthy.

It was wonderful seeing Semiti again. But why were we there?

Because Semiti actually has a job for Austin’s project. Surprise, surprise. Some wonderful aid agencies (to be acknowledged properly in a blog soon) gave the funding for a Project Boat for the coral work. The boat’s home location is in the water just behind Semiti’s house, and Semiti is its watch guard.

This is the beautiful project boat. It’s name is Bati ni Cakau – warrior of the reef. Our trusty newly-minted boat driver, Captain Wilson :), will feature in a future blog.


So now we are at Leleuvia Island. There is too much to share this week, so I’ll cover the rest later, and sign off after one amusing incident.

Last night during dinner Austin, Wilson, Anne and I were looking eighteen feet or so above our table at a gecko on a post by the thatch. Somebody joked about the possibility of gecko poo landing in the open pepper bowl. (“We need to dine with umbrellas in here.” was Someone Else’s reply.) This morning, sitting at the same table at breakfast, Austin saw a gecko he thought had fungus on its feet, but it turned out to be something else.

Here went his monologue:

  • Hey that’s skin
  • He is molting.
  • Maybe it is the same gecko we were looking at last night and he dropped down
  • Oh, maybe the loose skin made the suction cups on his feet stop working
  • Hey, it looks like he has his pants around his ankles…..


Happy week, Everybody.


23 March 2023


Greetings, Friends. When I signed off two years ago, I had no intention of ever reviving this blog. But a funny thing happened – I found myself referring back to it fairly often, to confirm dates of different things that happened in our life here. Turns out that this blog was my most accessible historical record. And then I got more energy. So here I am. I hope you will enjoy more of our plants and animals and culture and movement of visitors. Here goes:


We recently got a ripe pearl dragonfruit again.  Yum.  They have a gentle sweetness, a slight perfume and an endearing little crunch on the fine seeds.

We also got a new crop of mangosteens – Super Yum… to me they taste a bit like ripe cherries, but even better. The mangosteens were a huge hit because most of our farm visitors (including local friends) had never had them before.  Many people wanted seeds. 

This time around, Kiki figured out the easiest way to open a mangosteen. Firmly press the “button” on the top and the case starts to split open. Cool beans.


We still have sheep.  They get out from their compound and come up to our yard sometimes.

Akka found an insect he had not seen for a few years and sent me a photo of it.

Shame on us on the overpopulation of cats front.  

We had a kitten we called “Heefu” – because the mother was Sheefu. Visiting granddaughter Alice wanted us to keep him, but we wouldn’t. Then Daisy had another litter.

This gray kitten was the last of that litter to find a home. Austin had said we’d keep this kitten until Alice left, but it was just getting too big. I took this photo to “prove” that the kitten was still small enough to feel cute. We got this one a home by taking her to the market in town and just walking around. Three people came up to admire her, and the fourth person asked, “May I have her?” Thank God.

The only reason Alice was mildly willing to let this one go is because – you guessed it – Sheefu had already had another litter. They were still tiny when Alice left three and a half weeks ago.

Here they are today. And Daisy is pregnant again. ARRGH. I am going to get these females spayed. Seriously. Soon.


Because it has been two years, I will catch you all up on the people of the household bit by bit over the next few weeks. I have to start with Monica.

When I closed the blog two years ago, my dear daughter-in-law was pregnant and also undergoing cancer treatment. Long story short – the baby is fine and Monica is looking down over us from the heavenly realm.

Monica passed from this earthly life on 12 November 2021. Isa! I still miss her so much.

Her body is buried here next to Austin’s mother’s grave. In this photo some neighbors had come to help clean the grave before the 100 nights celebration. We did not manage to get her grave fully decorated on the one-year anniversary of her passing, that is yet to happen. Photos will follow.


आच्छा फिर मलेंगा Achchaa fir malenga – Ok, see you later ( I am studying Hindi again – determined to get conversational this time. 🙂 )

That’s it for now. God willing, I’ll be back in 7 days. Hope you all have a happy and productive week.