12 November 2020

I confess – I have done nothing all week except engage with my Obsession of the Month – trying to make a “stained glass quilt”

It’s not even one fourth finished, but since I haven’t done anything else, I have to show you SOME thing. Ha ha.


I did have the joy of watching Ashmita cooking yesterday and chowing down on the results. Before she left, she prepped some jackfruit.

You remember jackfruit

Cleaning it is messy. Here it is at stage 2 – skin off, in big chunks.

And here it is in its final glory before cooking

One of the virtues of jackfruit is that it retains its volume when cooked – what you start with is what you end up with (unlike, say, spinach). Another is that it is toothsome. It makes a good vegan “pulled pork” or “shredded chicken.”


Pulled out the camera for a sight that is so common in the tropics and something I don’t ever remember seeing as a kid in the temperate zone:

Rain coming.

I just now realize that there is a different tropical treat that I used to experience in Pohnpei that does not happen here – that is HEARING the rain coming like an elephant stampede. Must have to do with the size and density of the leaves…


Last thing in my camera – something very cute

A mouthful of new adult teeth.


Happy week, everybody.


5 November 2020

Sigatoka used to have a set of clocks in a little tower at the roundabout at the beginning of town – but it got torn down about five years ago. There was nothing but dirt and sometimes flowers. Not any more. I give you …..

The NADRO STALLION. “Nadro” is short for Nadroga (Nan-drong-AH) – the name of our province. The horse is rearing up and resting a hoof on a rugby ball. Iconic for the folks here.


Austin is away doing coral work. I’m lonesome.

Here are chickies tucked in for the night. Sometimes I feel like that duckling.


Yesterday when I was visiting Martin, Manik (his father) asked me if I’d like some beans. “Sure,” I said. He gave me an arm full.

Manik apologized. Because of the rain, he had not been able to spray and so the beans have a little insect damage. YAY! We LOVE “not sprayed” – we don’t mind some insect damage, it proves it’s not sprayed!

For this, the export company would not buy his beans. Dummy customers.


The National Geographic hide-your-eyes section …. just because I never posted this before.



Happy November, everybody.


29 October 2020

Number one super best achievement of the week – maybe of the year.


Home-made Hominy! I was vocally unenthusiastic at Austin’s efforts in progress — boy was I mistaken. Austin’s hominy is AMAZING. It tastes like Corn Chips. It is so crazy DELICIOUS. This may well change diets throughout Fiji, because for sure we are going to pass this wonderful AmerIndian technology along. What a great use for old dry field corn!


More from Dr. Smarty Pants – his darkest green egg yet.

rainbow eggs


My “big outing” for the week was to take Kiki and his friends to the river. I didn’t want to go, but Austin made me. I had a JOB to do.

rivers’ edge

We were supposed to see if the baby crabs were migrating upstream, and report to Granddaddy. They weren’t. But the kids had a good time anyway.

low water

It was shady, tranquil and lovely there by the river: the best hour of my week.


This isn’t as random as it looks.

bucket head

Kiki and I had been playing with the bucket on our heads and we made a discovery. Kiki put the bucket on Granddaddy’s head and said, “Sing!” The acoustics are incredible inside. As this photo was taken, Granddaddy was entertaining himself with a slew of low notes.


Happy week, everybody.


22 October 2020

Yesterday I had NOTHING in my camera – so I took my walk with an eye for anything of interest. Found this flower:

an afternoon smile

It’s sweet. I have no idea what it IS, but what the hey – it’s Flora!

Then I saw THIS – at quite a distance for these old eyes:

a valley “eagle” has landed

I liked this because it reminded me of the eagle on top of a grave that is special to me:

Grave of Shoghi Effendi in London. (stock photo)

And then I hit the JACKPOT (for me) – somthing actually interesting that I’d never seen before – a goat being tethered by its horns!

the non-choke rope

Earlier in the week we had a party to celebrate a Baha’i Holy Day.

Monica getting kids ready for their “item”

Normally I wouldn’t mention it, because this is not that blog – however, the celebration had a pertinent, unanticipated consequence. One set of guests did not arrive alone.

Bingo saw that Rocky is gone – so Bingo is back.

A final look at my week from this morning – the insane world of Feedbag String.

Two days worth of string – twelve strings from six bags. Austin promises the feed usage will go down. He will thin the flock. Lots of roosters for sale.


Happy week, everybody.


15 October 2020


Surely many loyal readers have been rooting for the naughty dog. He got naughtier. Akka and Monica let him go for a short run, and he ended up killing a GOOSE. Nica and I were going to Suva the next day, and so we planned to take him to SPCA where he would be neutered and adopted by a good family. Not such a happy life for a country dog, but what could we do?

Rocky did not improve on the ride. He filled the cab of our pickup with such noxious gases that the passenger nearly puked and the driver nearly passed out. Monica saw some people on the road with a dog – maybe they would want another. Turned out it was someody she knew, and it was obvious they didn’t want another dog.

I told her, “It has to be men with at least two dogs already.” Just a few kilometers down the road Monica pointed – “THERE are two men with two dogs!” My eyes aren’t that good. When I finally saw them, I sighed – “I wish they were on our side of the road.” I started slowinig down, and with a quarter kilometer still to reach them … they started crossing to our side! As I got near, the two dogs were STILL in the road, right at the speed bump.

Monica rolled down her window and called out greetings in Fijian. The fellows faces lit up when they spotted Rocky. A bunch of stuff was said that my “Fijian word of the week” was useless for. Nica told me they were super happy. Yes, they wanted Rocky – they couldn’t believe it.

Did we have a rope? No? Wait, I’ll go get one.

One fellow ran off. Monica and Rocky got out of the car. Rocky and the other two well-fed, healthy-looking dogs sniffed each other peaceably. The fellow came back a only few minutes later on horseback. “We’ll only tie him for a few days so he knows his home.”

They need him for HUNTING WILD PIGS . Oh happy, happy!

Rocky’s Lucky Day



The tenth of October is the anniversary of Fiji’s independence from the British Empire. For this FIFTIETH anniversary, the Fiji Mint put out a new fifty cent coin, and a new fifty dollar bill.

50 cents for 50 years



So we were in Suva and went to the big store. Monica was staring at this door.

Staff party behind closed doors

Bunches of naked pink pork legs sticking up out of a basin. Time to par-tay!


Happy week, Everybody.


8 October 2020

Austin told me that our sunflowers are confused. They always point east.

Here they are, pointing east in the late afternoon. Maybe they just like looking at the picture of Austin’s sweet mother.

While getting this photo, I found another surprise in the little garden Austin planted on Beamer’s grave.

Black vincas. Well, extremely dark red ones. Really beautiful.


Dr. Smarty’s active mind at it again. One morning he looked out the window and said, “You see those pockets of fog on the mountain?”

Yes, I did. So I took this photo through the mosquito screen. “I wonder if there are waterfalls in each of those spots,” he mused. Apparently waterfalls increase the humidity and cause fog to condense. Hmmm.


It’s been a non-stop week. I ended up in Suva – and walking. Something new in my own neighborhood, a derelict house on the corner was renovated into apartments. The wall is up with some really nice artwork.


Happy week, Everybody.


1 October 2020

Kids in the neighborhood

I saw these little guys on my walk yesterday. Are they cute or what! Identical twin kids.


Patiently waiting

You may have trouble guessing what this is. It is MOCA (mo-tha) – local amaranth that grows as a weed and is a delicious spinach-like veggie. I’ve shown you moca before, you already knew that (or didn’t care) – I was just joking. Where the moca is growing is in Austin’s stalled project … a water slide. Carpenter had to take a few weeks off. This project is taking for-ev-er. I hope it will be worth it when it’s done.


water hyacinths

Meanwhile, Austin brought up these water hyacinths to save them. The geese have eaten them up, the sheep love them, and so do chickens. Some day we will be purifying the swimming pool water and producing a lot of animal chow at the same time.


butterfly leaves

Akka sent me this photo. A plant Monica put in the living room has leaves like butterflies. He said when the leaves are open it is like a clover – so it’s a clover. Austin butted in – “it’s not a clover, it is “oxallis”!

So this morning I went to get a photo of this overlooked-by-me plant.

Oxalis by day

Here it is. Son of a gun – guess what I just learned on Google – One, “oxalis” has only one L in its name, and Two – it is a SHAMROCK! Gee whiz.


Akka up a tree

The lump up this tree is Akka, doing the old shakey-shakey-shakey to get the tamarinds out. Not many fell. They dry on the tree and shake out easily once fully mature.

Ladies on the roof

Arti and Vina went up on the roof to pluck tamarinds directly from the branch. At the end there were not so many, so they gave them all to me.

Tamarind drying

This is it. The tree has about 100 times this much, if we can just get it out before the afternoon rains cause the pods to mold.


At least daily I hear myself yelp with pain.

Sample scratch

Austin says his legs have gotten all scratched up too – especially one night when he was in a two hour zoom meeting. This is why.

Sylvester and Casper


Happy week, Everybody. 🙂


24 September 2020

Forget the Flora this week, folks – it’s all Fauna: Canis lupus familiaris.

First off – Bingo disappeared a few weeks ago. I didn’t want to say anything, because it doesn’t look good to lose a dog, and because Austin wouldn’t be THAT farmer anymore (you know, there was a farmer had a dog….). Bittersweetly, Bingo did reappear, but it was never the same.

In the meantime two things happened. ONE – it rained, and all the Bingo-smell was gone. and TWO – Monica brought her dog from Suva.

He is named “Raki” for Rakiraki (rah-kee-rah-kee), the town he comes from – but it sounds like “Rocky” to me – and that’s the name I’m sticking with. Here is Rocky playing with Jumper. Rocky is small but scrappy.

Winky went to her beauty parlor for a new look.

A cow-pie dye job or something. Rocky approved.

Around this time Bingo showed up for some good Teitei chow. No luck. Rocky ran him off, and his two old girlfriends did nothing to stop it. So long, Bingo – there’s a new stud in town.

The only thing not-to-like about Rocky was the midnight serenades. Tarsi used to bark all night about nothing, and we’d gotten used to peace at night since she died. No more. Rocky is a crooner. He really earns the “lupus” part of his Latin name. Ar-Roooooooooo. Ar-rooooooooo. And of course all the other dogs here join in once he starts. Other than that, Rocky was a sweetie.

Then yesterday, I walk over to this:

What is this? Two dead juveniles. Akka told me Rocky got them.

And that was only the beginning of a killing spree.

Jumper, the opportunist, was caught eating one of Rocky’s victims. By noon, Rocky had killed at least five.

We called Monica, who is in Suva this week. She said we can give him away.

For now, Rocky is in the doghouse, metaphorically. We don’t have any real doghouse.

He’s on a rope. Looking contrite. Waiting for sentencing.

I like Rocky. The plan was that he would live over on the site where Akka and Monica will be building. I hope he can be rehabbed. We’ll see.


Arts and Crafts Corner. My neighbor wants me to teach her how to knit. I made some samples of different stitches I know, got curious, went on you-tube, found a heap more stitches. The lace was clunky with yarn, so I decided to try it with feedbag string. Ta Da!


Happy Week, Everybody.


17 September 2020

OY – a day late and a dollar short, again! So it is “17 September” YOUR time….. I got tied up in Suva. But don’t want to miss blogging this week because I have INTERESTING Flora and INTERESTING Fauna to share.

The Flora … a new fruit:

“Chocolate pudding” fruit. Now ripe.

It is DELICIOUS! The texture is just like pudding. The flavor is gently sweet – a bit like dates, even a hint of chocolate.

Funny – the Fijian name is sapote (sa-PO-tay) which is a whole lot like sapota (sa-PO-tuh) which means “underwear” Do I need to say more?


The Fauna … another HUGE mongoose

Austin is sure that this is a completely different species of mongoose. It’s not only bigger, it also acts really different. It is very calm and does not hiss at us. Monica wanted to keep it for a pet, but it had already eaten six goose eggs at least, and Austin was determined to get rid of it. “How about seeing if Kula Eco Park wants it?” I asked.

In June 2019 Austin got a huge one like this and Kula Eco Park took it. He didn’t think they’d want another – but he called and they said yes.

Turns out the older giant mongoose is a female, and Giant Mongoose 2020 is a male. This boy is more than 2 feet long (650 cm+) and weighs at least 3 Kg (7 pounds). He is like a huge housecat. This is one time that everybody wins on the outcome. Yay!


Dry weather, ponds going down, so time to harvest the tilapia/malea.

Harvesting was fun and muddy work. Some of the fish are for the table. The rest are in my swimming pool again.



I saw some old potato sack in the hatchery and decided to try embroidery with the feedbag strings.

This was the best of the efforts. Austin’s comment: “That will make nice smoke for the bees.” Turns out the burlap’s purpose is to feed the bee smoker. Ha.


Happy week, everybody.


10 September 2020

Monday was a public holiday and some of us decided to go to the river for a picnic. The nice shallow swimming spot was too sunny, but one of our friends said we could walk across and it’s shady on the other side. She was right.

Looking upstream.

Kids play on the sand bank.
Looking downstream. What is that on the far bank?
Laundry day at the river.
Farmer with bullocks – emply sledge, he has already dropped off his bags of corn.

Fun time in a place that is not so modernized yet.


Monica caught this photo of a cactus flower on the path to the pavilion.

Look quick!

By the time I went up to see it, it was gone.


Nicole and baby went to visit her parents – and she came back with …..

celery grows here ?!!



Ok, Akka is Smarty Pants Jr. …. those WERE ducks last week, not geese. White muscovy ducks. I was wrong. (I would have known the difference in person … and I didn’t know we have white ducks. Well, now I know.)


Happy week, everybody.