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.
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.
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”
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.
Merry Christmas, everybody. See you on New Year’s Eve!
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)
In November, the wall went up and got louvers. (oops, I didn’t get a picture!) Posts went up outside.
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
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 –
Farm life is not for the squeamish. Poor young ‘un.
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.
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
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
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.
I finished the quilt.
In case of fire or storm, the one thing I’ll grab is my two quilts. Looks like I may be grabbing tomorrow.
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.
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
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.
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…..
…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”
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
Stepped out one morning to THIS:
Those of you who have been here know the big bougainvillea bush. Somebody decided that this bush was going.
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.
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.
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:
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
It was shady, tranquil and lovely there by the river: the best hour of my week.
This isn’t as random as it looks.
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.