20 November 2014

2014-11-20  hidden eggs  R

Behold another hidden clutch of chicken eggs, this one on an undeveloped part of a hill near a set of bee boxes.    Such fertility.

Speaking of fertility…..

FAMILY REUNION 2014: A QUINQUIENNIAL EVENT

Our kids live all around the Pacific rim – last time we all managed to get together was 5 years ago, and there are more of us now.   In celebration of the triumph of family over inertia and other commitments, I give you each family member with the bit of flora or fauna of choice.

2014-11-20 BEAMER and coffee Cr

Doris (“Beamer”), our beloved matriarch,   Crown of thorn flowers in her hair, and more importantly COFFEE in her cup!

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2014-11-12  AKKA and strawberry  Cr

Akka and a big fat strawberry he grew

2014-11-20 MONICA and uci  R

Monica and an uci (OO-thee) plant.  This plant is very important for traditional garlands.  It has a unique “clean” scent.

2014-11-20 KIKI and 4-petal plumeria  Cr

Kiki and a four-petal plumeria.

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2014-11-20 MAKI and jackfruit  Cr

Honorary Uncle Maki – lucky us that he is in Fiji right now – with jackfruit.

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2014-11-20 LUA and Mangoes  Cr

Lua and mangoes – she was asking for mangoes once she arrived and was surprised to hear we have them at the farm.

2014-11-20 MAX and dogs  'Cr

Max and our dogs.

2014-11-20 VICTOR and chickies  Cr

Victor and some chickies.

2014-11-20 ALICE and Teddy  R

Alice and Teddy the cat.

2014-11-20 HAZEL and bougainvillea  Cr

Hazel and bougainvillea.   We picked it out for her thinking it would be easy.  Then she started carrying it with her everywhere.

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2014-11-20 JUNIA and Flora  Cr

Junia and “Flora” margarine spread.  Austin won’t let me buy margarine, but one of the in-laws smuggled some in.

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2014-11-20 CLARA and bananas  Cr

Clara and a stalk of bananas.  She was shooing away fruit flies with her hand.

2014-11-20 NIGEL and crabs  R

Nigel and mangrove crabs.  His brother had caught these crabs (Nigel’s family lives near Nausori on the other side of Suva) and Nigel brought them to the farm for one of our dinners.  YUMMY !!

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2014-11-20 RAKESH and wild fledgling  Cr

Uncle Rakesh, one of my Raksha Bandan brothers, and a wild fledgling.  Herein lies a story.  Clara wanted to be photographed with the nest of baby birds.  Junia warned us not to get too close or the birds would jump out.  We got too close.  The dogs were too interested.  Rakesh rescued the fledgling to return it to the nest.

2014-11-20 VINA and betelnut  Cr

Auntie Vina  (she is Beamer’s personal assistant, Rakesh’s wife, Maki’s “Rakee sister” all at once) and betel nuts growing in front of the house.   Vina just told me betel nut is very important in some of the Hindu prayer ceremonies!

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2014-11-20 GUY and peppers  R

Guy and some of the beautiful bell peppers (capsicums) Austin bought at Taiwan Mission.

2014-11-20 MAMI and duranta   R

Mami with a purple flower we did not know the name of.  Junia tells us it is “duranta” – and they also had it in Haifa.  (Guy, Mami and Junia all served in Haifa together.)

2014-11-20 LEO and hibiscus  Cr

Leo, currently the youngest family member, with hibiscus.

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2014-11-20 GRANDDADDY  R

GRANDDADDY!

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3 April 2014

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I’m often surprised on Wednesday nights when I look at photos I’ve taken all week.  By then I have totally forgotten what I’d been looking at.  Here are fish being sold in the public market – they looked quite fresh.  There usually aren’t a whole lot of fish available right in the market – most days there aren’t any. Fish are brought in on the weekends, when customers are more likely to have money in their pockets. Same time Austin takes his baby chicks in to sell them.
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These are “kai” – river clams.   They can taste good when cooked by someone who is meticulous about cleaning them and who uses a lot of garlic.   A few weeks ago Junia was telling us how you find kai when he took the girls and me to the river – you dig in the river sand with your toes.  We are too far inland to get them, but in principle, about 10 kilometers down river, that is how the women are harvesting these guys.   Austin remembers when he was in Fiji in the 70s, the kai were double the current size or bigger.   He says they are also moving up river – because of sea level rise, there is a bit of salt in the water further inland now.
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In the same spot of the market, there was this bundle of yumminess – mangrove crabs.   Just the one bundle and it got sold pretty quickly.
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ON THE ROAD TO SUVA
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I forgot all about it…..  I was in the bus, and it was raining like crazy , again.  Not such a big deal, until we approached the coastal town of Navua.    Son-of-a-gun – Nauva was flooded out!
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We could not go into town, but had to stop and let the passengers for Navua out on Queen’s Highway at the intersection.    
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IN SUVA
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I forgot all about this, too.   Walking from where I was staying to where I had a meeting, I decided to make friends with the beautiful bougainvillea that some loving gardener had planted.
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One of the nicest qualities of bougainvillea is the variety of colors of the flowers .
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But another wonderful quality is how easily they become pressed flowers and how long they hold their color after a week inside a book.    I resisted the temptation to demonstrate it with these.  Suva needs all the color it can get.
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ON THE ROAD BACK FROM SUVA
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This is the only thing I did remember.  This funny, funny pine tree that I have seen so many times.   Driving back it is right in your face at one spot of the road.
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Pine needles grow straight off the trunk, so the tree itself looks like a bottle brush …. or a man with a really hairy neck that needs shaving.
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Thanks to Austin for coming to Suva and giving me a ride home.  My out-the-bus-window skills would never have sufficed.
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26 December 2013

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There were two celebrations this week – my birthday (huzzah!) and Christmas (hallelujah!).
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I wrote to friends, family and facebook about my terrific b’day – so the only thing I’ll say here is about the amazing bougainvillea at Raffles Hotel where I got to spend the night.
                              ** Off * The * Farm **
First a photo to demonstrate that it really is bougainvillea:
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And now a photo of the massive trunk of one of the older plants.
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Can you believe that bougainvillea can get THAT old and THAT big?   ….   Will I still be around and bearing flowers of the spirit when I am that old?
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And now to Christmas ….
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We had good intentions of celebrating Christmas in a really Fijian manner this year.  Monica decorated the living area with foliage and fresh flowers.  Here are hibiscus on coconut ribs.  They bloom for a day and close at sunset.
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And here is a sweet nativity scene that Monica did.   It is not traditional in Fiji – but I had the idea, and Monica has the artistic skills.   This is based on the technology for making masi designs (see the 21 November entry to read more about masi).    Nowadays, to make masi designs, the artist makes stencils from old x-ray films.
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This is the stencil Nica made.   She did this FREEHAND and in one shot.   I think she is some kind of genius.
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Anyway, as I was saying – we were planning to do a traditional Christmas which would have been decorating with fresh foliage, bringing out all the new china, new mats, etc.,  AND having a humongous dinner together and eating for hours.   We were planning to have a duck.   It is obvious from the way I am writing that that is not what we did.   Nope.
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Instead we did the traditional Fiji Christmas – Plan B.   We went to the BEACH.
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All the neighbors from our end of the road decided to go, and they invited us along.  Fun, fun, fun.    We went to a beach that our family had never been to before, near Vatukarasa village.   The photo at the top of the blog is from this beach.
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We’ve been noticing the interesting orange growth on the western side of coconut trees on the Coral Coast for years.  Today Austin got a really great photo of it.
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I was thrilled to find a hermit crab.
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Here is a close up.   Isn’t he adorable!
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And then I found a BIG one!   Sorry the photo is all blurry.
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Austin got all enthusiastic about pumice floating in the water.  He remembers using pumice like this for sharpening cane knives when we lived in Micronesia.  He collected all he could. Before our neighbors climbed back into their transport, he gave a hunk to each family –  “Ho Ho Ho – here’s a rock for you.”   He didn’t say that exactly, but he did tell them many uses of pumice – most of them had no idea what it was.
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Monica remembered we’d also brought some cake to share.   Everybody got a little something to like.
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So, bye for now!   See you next year!
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24 October 2013

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The bougainvillea in front of the new house is resplendent.  We’ve been building the house for over a year now, and maybe we will move in before another year has passed….. Fiji time.
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Sometimes I get pretty tired of being on the farm (I am a nomad at heart) but the sight of the bulbul in the coconut sapling, the bee in the whatsit flower, and especially the gaze of a warm puppy eye – they make me feel ok with my moment.  Here are some of the puppies getting into a bucket of commercial chicken feed.
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The pups are the age to give away.  The age that if they aren’t gone soon, they are going to end up under the car tires entirely by accident.  We’ve had sad experience with this, both in Guam and in Suva.   New Owners – come get your puppies!
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Months ago Austin planted a big circle, 20 meters (66ft) diameter, of pineapples on a newly flattened hill.  He also put big stones for the rising and setting points of the sun on the March equinox and also for the moon.  “Pinapple-henge”   Anyway, the pineapples are growing and the plants are so red! …. and could use a bit of weeding, I notice.
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You probably already know this, but pineapples grow nestled in the leaves, and they also grow a Hat that is the next pineapple plant.   When it is ripe, you eat the body – yum, yum – and plant the hat.
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You might think this is an unremarkable looking bug.  Akka says it is a Click Beetle.  He took this photo.   See the bright yellow spots on each side of the head part.  Those are not reflections of the flash.
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They are this click beetle’s little green lights.  It’s kind of a lightning bug but less bright and less twinkling.   Still, it is a bug light and we like it.   That IS the green light – but should be two spots.  There are trailers because the beetle moved.
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We’ve got zucchini!  Hooray – I really love zucchini.  Junia took me to the field to show me the plants.   The zucchini in the close up still has the flower on its head – see?  (I didn’t see until Junia pointed it out)
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Sister-in-law from Texas pointed out teeny flying insects on one particular section of a wind chime about 3 months ago.  We’ve been trying ever since to get a close up.
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Definitely flies – but sooooooo tiny!  What do they live on?  What are they doing here?  Why do they always hang out on that one small section of fishing line?
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KITTY UPDATE –  They both died!    Rest in Peace, nameless kitties.  Better luck next time, Betty.
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MUTATION OF THE WEEK     …is so icky I’m not even taking a photo – a chick embryo without the upper half of its head.   A little bit of chicken brain, the bottom half of a beak on top of a regular chick embryo body.  EEWWW.   Something for Halloween.
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READER FEEDBACK –  “You are the only person or family I have ever known who has kept a bat as a pet, but I like the big, furry so called fruit bats of Fiji. Besides they don’t carry rabies like the bats of NC.”     EW!  I forgot about rabies!    Luckily we don’t have rabies in Fiji –  but I just googled, and there IS rabies in Puerto Rico, where we raised Radar.  Dang!
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SOMETHING HAPPY TO END WITH
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My younger son and his beautiful wife planted this red-striped lily while they were living here, and now it is blooming.   Aww….    And for those of you who prefer Fauna with your Flora, here is a shot of the lily with Inu (ee-noo), our dog with the name that means “dog” in Japanese.
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