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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10 April 2014

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LATE EDITION THIS WEEK, BECAUSE …….
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THE CATS GOT DE-SEXED TODAY!
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Above is a photo of Vina’s husband holding the feed sacks that contained Betty and Turtle.   We got there when the wonderful Animals Fiji clinic in Nadi opened.   The staff told me another inexpensive (and better) way to transport cats.
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Here the cats are in laundry baskets with the lids zip-tied on.  Who’da thunk?   Betty and Turtle were much happier on the ride back (but also sleepy) – and they are doing fine now that they’re home.  The people at the Animal Clinic are great.   I’ll give them a plug at the end of this post.
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GUESS WHAT
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This is a tamarind flower.  I’d never noticed them before.  
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If they hadn’t been inside the tree, I might have though they were some kind of orchid.
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LAST WEEK – one person mentioned not having any idea of what a mangrove crab looked like from my photo – so here is a stock photo.  That’s what our mangrove crabs look like before they are put in a basket …. or cooked..
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THEY’RE BACK
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Little spider webs in the grass – got a photo this time.   I snapped this on Monday: actually the webs in the grass are gone again already.   I actually don’t understand this – I didn’t think spiders had seasons.  I need to start paying more attention.
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FROM BUSH TO CUP
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Akka showed up with a bunch of red berries – “Guess what, Mom.”   I had no clue.  It was coffee berries.   I asked him to take a shot of the coffee bush for me and he told me that was LAME, I had to come get the photos myself.   Above is a bush – so you’ll recognize one if you see it.
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And that’s how they grow.
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And then WOWSER – so many berries!
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And more!   YES!   By the way, the berries themselves are edible – or at least not toxic.  They are a little sweet, a little astringent.  But who’d eat berries when the goodies are in the seeds?
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So here are the production steps.   
I – pop the seed out of the berry if you have strong hands – or peel it off if you are a weakling.
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2- soak the seeds in water for a hour or two so the slimy stuff around the seed washes off.  Dry them.
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3 – pull the dried inner shell off the seed.
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4 – slow roast the seeds.   Akka did this in a frying pan on low heat with a tiny bit of coconut oil.  (Oh, I  wish cocoa were this easy!)
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5 – grind, brew, enjoy.   
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Truthfully, this was not the best coffee I ever had, but it was much better than some.  It’s definitely coffee – I’m glad we have it here on the farm.
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OLD MYSTERY – MAYBE SOLVED
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There is a line of holes in one or two bananas leaves at the bottom of Cardiac Hill again.  It’s been months since I saw that.
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I found this hitchhiker on my sleeve at the top of Cardiac Hill moments later, after my run up.   My first time to notice a fuzzy caterpillar like this.   There are lots of holes in lots of other leaves – but I like thinking that this is the banana leaf culprit. 
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PLEASE CHIP IN AND SPREAD THE WORD
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The guys at Animals Fiji are great.  When I arrived – actually 10 minutes before they were supposed to open – there were already at least six people on site, sweeping, cleaning cages, getting ready for the day.  They were warm and friendly.  The animals are obviously loved and very well taken care of.  Casey (the lady who seemed like the manager) said that all the money that is given is used for the animals, and I believe her.   I wish now I had taken a photograph of the cats and kittens in their cages with blankets and stuffed toys.  It was all so sweet – and so basic.   The staff are determined to soldier on and keep this place going.  I pray they get all the help they need and then some.  Here is their website:  http://www.animalsfiji.org/
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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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