21 January 2021

Well, the new curtains are up.

And the 10 participants for our first ever Rural Homestay Tourism course have arrived.

Here they are with Monica, having class under my laundry because it started raining. I’ll take a better group photo before they leave – just wanted you to have a peek at things in progress this week.

Meanwhile in the kitchen:

Ashmita and Vina – kitchen ladies. (Warms your heart, doesn’t it ?!)

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And NOT in the kitchen

The cats have been relocated to the room where we keep the chickies for sale. Therefore

We started putting chicken wire over the boxes when we had some larger birds that wanted to fly out. Then it seemed a good idea for protecting chicks from potential rats at night. Suddenly, it became imperative for 24 hour use as a domestic predator deterrent. Even so, Casper was found on top of the wire of one of the boxes, trying to push it down. and find a way in. Smarty pants.

Anyhow, we have to relocate Casper back to the kitchen because last night Austin saw evidence of the truth of the old saying, “When the cat’s away, the mice …..”

We have essential oil spray bottles ready and hope to teach this “teenage” cat a new trick of NOT jumping on the counters or table. Wish us luck.

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And to round off the week (and our waistlines) – Austin made hominy to show off at the workshop. For lunch today he put it into Vina’s spicy fish and coconut cream soup.

It is yummy delicious. Yum yum yum.

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Happy week, everybody.

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14 January 2021

FLORA – because it’s a weekly promise. Cheerful hibiscus in the sun.

Also coconuts…

…for the upcoming workshop. Kiki wanted me to get a photo. He was so proud.. He helped Junia with all the husking.

Farewell to Team CLEAN – who were just amazing.

I told them to put us down as references on any job applications. You can see for yourself – unfortunately I did not take any “before” photos – but those of you who have been here probably remember some of the “before”

front of house
side of house
pool compund
orchid house
pizza shed

And I took these photos this morning – five days since they left!

FAUNA – because it is the other weekly promise

I have no idea who this is. …. um, posting for a friend.

And So …

Deterrent for kitties going under our sink to poo Putting a mesh barrier rather than cabinet doors was the result of a LOT of discussion. Some people wanted cabinet doors – some people objected to the way closed cabinets end up yucky. Someone had the idea of a grid that lets the air flow but is a barrier. Someone else said “That’s ugly.”

SO…

SEW…

The next project is more curtains for all the cabinets. There was only 10.25 meters of the only cloth Monica and I were both happy with – I’d planned to buy 11m. Hmmph. Getting it divided among the 11 curtains that need to made was a real puzzle. I was quite happy with the solution. Pinning at every cut point with tags before making the first cut. I’d never done that before. I re-tagged that cloth THREE times before I finally got it right.

Here it is mid-process. They have been cut now, and I’ll start sewing them up tomorrow.

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Happy week, Everybody.

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7 January 2021

WORKING WORKING WORKING – this is starting off to be a good year.

The flyswatters are sacrficing themselves in the effort to keep the summertime invaders away.

We have a big workshop coming up, and Monica had a great idea for getting the work done – import a team!

BOYS: Maciu (Matthew) and Pauliasi – doing heavy grunt work

GIRLS – Eggie and To (toh) doing beautification.

COOKS – Waqali (Monica’s niece) and Ashmita. In the background Naholo and Naomi, two regulars here.

THE BOSS – Monica. She worked so much yesterday even though we were all saying “Take it easy.” Today she is staying in the shade (THANK YOU!) She will do whatever it takes to have the farm shine.

And Dad wanted to show off his soap from the waste oil.

We got some sun, so now he can dry it. Pretty!

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Monica finally went public about her cancer diagnosis in a Facebook post on New Year.

She is doing great. Baby is doing great.

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Happy week, everybody.

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31 December 2020

What a year – and now we are at its close.

Here is a map of our place – Teitei Livelihoods Centre – up-to-date on the buildings, and even up-to-date on functions if Austin and I consider ourselves “caretakers.”

And I have a story without a photo. Our truck lost gears 3 and 4, so using gears 1, 2 and 5 Akka drove it to the mechanic, and we are all on foot now. Yesterday afternoon Austin and I were walking to a home a kilometer away for a small gathering – as we reached the end of our road we heard rain POURING down on the temple just 10 meters up hill – but we were completely dry. As we got out to the main road, the rain continued POUNDING on the temple’s tin roof,and we were still dry. A hundred meters up the road, rain was getting DUMPED all over a tractor and driver. It was like a cartoon – a completely individual downpour – except the cloud was higher and not distinct. Just amazing.

Then Austin yelled, “It’s coming our way – RUN!” So we trotted. The rain got us a bit, then backed off, then got us a little more, then quit. It felt a lot like our 2020.

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May 2021 be wonderful for all y’all.

Loving best wishes from all of us at Teitei.

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24 December 2020

We will rebuild. (This was the worst of the wind damage.)

And we will mop. This is a bit of rain slipping in where we had not put up storm boards.

We were blessed to have dodged the TC Yasa bullet, and feel very sad for those who were in its path. A small consolation is that people took this storm seriously and there were not so many deaths – four compared to 40+ from TC Winston.

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Then it was my birthday. I got the best birthday cake ever and the best present ever. Neither are so photogenic, but I LOVED them.

A beautiful fruit salad of pineapple, mango and passion fruilt. Monica and her cousin REALLY cleaned my front porch and finished shelling all that blasted corn – in other words, the present was “a fresh start for Mom”

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FAUNA FAUNA FAUNA

A few days ago we had a bit of windy rain. I looked out and thought this was cute

All the geese have their noses to the wind.

I swore I was not going to post any more evidence for un-neutered pets, but Austin wanted photos of this pup who a friend in Suva might want.

Cutie-patootee. His current name is “Digger”

Finally – Austin is yelling “PHOTO” – something I am obliged to some come see.

At this point I’m unimpresseded. “Look closer”

Ok – it looks like something.

WOW – a beautiful butterfly with it’s wings down. If Dr. Smary is correct, it is a newborn resting.

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Merry Christmas, everybody. See you on New Year’s Eve!

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16 December 2020

Twenty-twenty is looking to go out with a wallop, so I’m doing the blog a day early. This time tomorrow we could be facing the beginning of storm winds. So let me tell you about what I think is pretty nuts here –

putting up a new roof!

Back in October, Austin decided change downstairs in the wood house – to make a porch for the door. (Covered so we can move in chicken feed in the rain, and also to protect the house foundation)

screen rolled up, waiting for a wall

In November, the wall went up and got louvers. (oops, I didn’t get a picture!) Posts went up outside.

some day a roof!

So this week Rakesh has been doing the framing for the little roof. Lots of strapping. I figured it will hold up as well as the rest of this wood house if a big hurricane uses us as ground zero. Wind will not get caught in just the framing.

But no, Austin wants to put the little roof ON.

“Let’s finish it up before it all blows away.” ha ha

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Junia shot me a photo of a baby lamb on the farm. He kept having to hunt in the bushes for it. Ineffective mother just wasn’t taking care of him. Yesterday Junia brought him up –

RIP Baby lamb

Farm life is not for the squeamish. Poor young ‘un.

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The week started off happier. One of our workers, Lutu, had a traditional wedding where she was officially handed over to her husband’s family. Here are some random photos from it.

It was quite an event.

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A Little Hawaiian Flora and Fauna Report

I was chatting this week with daughter Clara in Honolulu. She told me two little interesting stories.

#1 the plant that called her name

a Something plant

Clara was getting exercise walking in her old neighborhood. One of the residents has a “Take One Leave One” bookshelf and also a “Take One Leave One” basket. Clara saw this plant and she wanted it, but did not have anything to leave. She thought about it as she finished her walk, and then in her car was …. a small bottle of Hand Sanitizer. Bingo! So she went and made the trade. Now she has the plant and has no idea what it is. She’s put the roots in water and hopes that will work. If you know what plant this is and how to care for it, let us know!

#2 the wild white pigeon who adopted the family

Feather Whippy

Birds visiting the house is often considered a heavenly visitation in Fijian culture. Clara’s father-in-law died last month, so when this white pigeon invited himself in, hubby Nigel was moved. Then he noticed that the bird was lame! He picked the bird up and saw its feet were bound with human hair. He cut the hair off. Bird kept coming around – they named him “Feather” Then Feather showed up with MORE hair around his feet. Nigel operated again. Clara says a lot of local pigeons have stubs for feet. Hair is a BIG problem. Anyway, it looks like Feather is an unofficial pet now.

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DONE !

I finished the quilt.

three months of my life

In case of fire or storm, the one thing I’ll grab is my two quilts. Looks like I may be grabbing tomorrow.

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Friends, if we have power, I’ll be back next week, but it is likely that I won’t be posting until 2021. Sooooooo Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. and See you on the flip side.

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10 December 2020

I promised a friend some chicken pictures this week, but it was rainy a lot and I didn’t get any further than the nursery.

Here are chicks one week apart in age

“born yesterday” beside a big “born last week”

You can easily tell which chick was born yesterday. They lose their fluffiness after a couple of days, but the big one is a bit more bedraggled than he has to be.

drown-proof water bowl

This is how we teach everyone to make waterbowls for the chicks: put rocks in the bowl so the chicks can’t end up inside (they can’t swim) and so that the bowl can’t get knocked over, and do not fill it to the top. However…..

first cousins who really know how to play

…when there are ducklings with the chicks – that water bowl gets turned into a bird bath, no matter how carefully you keep the water level “just right”

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When the chainsaw was out getting that bougainvillea bush, someone also cut down a sandalwood tree that was close to the house. It’s about ten years old I think. Surprise!

heart of sandalwoo

It has a huge core of fragrant heartwood!

Junia did the financial calculations of sandalwood vs. coconut trees a year or two ago. Coconut trees take 5 years to bear fruit and give so many nuts per year – that can be turned into food,or oil plus chicken feed and other products. Sandalwoods take 20 years to be ready for havest and can be sold for thousands of dollars per tree. At twenty years, one cocunut tree has provided more income than the cash bonanza of one sandalwood. Surprise.

We will still keep both…. we like the idea of some trees as a savings account.

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Austin is off to Plantation again, and there is a cyclone predicted to pass by the neighborhood on Tuesday. Here is hoping that we don’t get any excitement when Granddaddy is not here to “enjoy” it with us.

Happy week, everybody.

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3 December 2020

I spent the early part of this blog-week in Lautoka: home of a flora & fauna version of Beauty and the Beast.

BEAUTY: I expected never to see this golden shower tree again. It was stripped and shattered by a hurricane several years ago – major branches broken. How beautifully resilient it is!

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BEAST: My friend in Lautoka had asked me to bring a cup of chick starter for “Screech” – her rescue bird.

Fledglings probably never look all that good. Anyway, Screech is a baby bulbul that was sitting in my friend’s driveway as the mother looked on frantically. The little idiot had pushed itself out of the nest and would not stay put. My friend brought it in. It was not eating well – hence the request for chick starter. Didn’t like the chick starter either, but learned to LOVE fruit and porridge while I was there. So far, so noisily good.

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Back at home – rats went for the corn that is still sitting on my porch. There is an interesting angle to this.

Rats completely finish off one cob at a time. Very different from the birds that attacked the mangoes in Hawaii – every mango had a hole. This is much more civilized.

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SOAP TALES

Yesterday a group of lady friends came for lunch and Austin kindly demonstrated soap-making. Lye, water, cheap oil from the store – stir stir – ba da BING – Soap! He added blue food color which turned pink and finally purple. He added orange and anise essential oils- put it in molds – it was solid in an hour

Needs to cure for a few weeks, but it was basically done in an hour. The ladies were SO impressed and some are planning to get together to try it at home.

Austin ALSO showed how to use old cooking oil for making soap. He poured all our old oil into a big pot with some water and boiled it. This morning he made the used-oil into soap today and I got photos. Well – he tried. He’s trying. It’s lucky he used the new oil yesterday.

The used oil that rose out of the boiling experience is still really orange from the turmeric in the cooking.

Austin had already put the lye in but had not stirred much yet.

After a few minutes of stirring, slushy but not thickening like yesterday’s batch.

An hour later it has separated into liquidy and chunky bits. “Oh, I forgot to stir it,” Austin said. When he stirred, it was still slushy.

Austin cheats and sprinkles in more lye. “Don’t put that in the blog – it’s not the way you are supposed to do it.” HA HA He has done this before and will do it again. The result is harsher soap that is fine for dishes and laundry.

The soap recipe, if you are curious, is 1/4 cup lye (caustic soda) put into 3/4 cup water, then add 2 cups oil. Proportionally, that is 1 part lye, 3 parts water, 8 parts oil. Mix, put into mold when thick, remove from mold when firm, let cure for a few weeks

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Happy December, Everybody.

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25 November 2020

This pile appeared on my porch.

about a thousand ears of corn

A new mountain of corn needing to be shucked. Plus four more feed bags full against the wall. Lucky we got it all in before the rain – but man, shucking that much corn is really hard on the hands.

Go, Team Shucksters !!

I got a helper. I slit the tops with a paring knife and started pulled the leaves down. Kiki finished pulling the leaves down and twisted them off the cobs (requires a lot of hand strength on the stubborn ones) – then putting the clean cobs to the side and tossing the shucks over his shoulder. Ay carramba!

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Stepped out one morning to THIS:

fat bougainvillea trunk…. and it is a “bush” !!

Those of you who have been here know the big bougainvillea bush. Somebody decided that this bush was going.

Rakesh working. Junia clowning around.

Going, going, Gone. What is INTERESTING about this is the REASON for its removal. We have noticed hornets building their nests close to the ground, a fairly accurate predictor of a bad cyclone season. This bougainvillea was already all wrapped around the guy wire to the power pole. Alas, alas – it was a security problem, and had to come down for the greater good.

The fellows did leave a bit, so it should grow back in time.

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I was invited to a “pooja” (prayer ceremony) of a neighbor doing her annual house blessing. She had noted the rain on Sunday and said she hoped the weather would clear by Tuesday, when the pooja was to take place. It looked like she got her wish. The morning was clear for the putting up of the flags. When I went at 1pm for the second part, it was still sunny and some of us sitting in the open porch were grumbling about the heat. Pandit-jee arrived about 2 and started. About halfway through this ceremony, a patter of rain started.

The rain got heavier. As Pandit-jee chanted, some ladies got up to move the mats people were sitting on. One person got a 2 meter length of roofing and poistioned it to stop back-splash from puddles at the edge.

And it POURED. Still the ceremony proceeded with calmness and deliberation, as those of us who had been sitting were now standing.

And then what won my heart. From up the hill four men came walking down under a large gray tarp together – making me think of a turtle. Very smootlly they came into the porch and secured their tarp to prevent any blow in. All the while dear Pandit-jee carried out the ceremony as pandits have done for thousands of years.

After it was all over, I told my friend how beautiful I found it. She replied that it was spoiled. But no – I tried to reassure her that is was Truiumphant.

Evevy candle ablaze despite the storm

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Happy week, everybody.

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19 November 2020

Where the “past” lives on. The hearse is the strong shoulders of the tallest men. A slow and dignified walk through the village. All are comfortably quiet. A cloud of love walks with us.

Before we had some prayers and eulogies.

Soon we will inter the body and casket.

Then we will share lunch and visiting.

This funeral was remarkably peaceful because the beloved one who has “graduated” was an incredibly gentle, peaceful, kindly soul – my son-in-law’s father, Frank Isaac Whippy.. Such an angel.

Go forth in joy, Frank. We love you.

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Have a blessed week, everybody.

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