19 September 2013

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Lautoka is a beautiful city, especially if you love trees.  There are rows of palms, of mango trees, of huge vaivai, of “Itt”s.  There is mahogany and teak and date palm.  We ended up spending most of the week in Lautoka at the large regional hospital.   Above is a shot of the corner where Hospital Road meets the main road.

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I’m shocked that on-line resources do not mention Lautoka’s many parks and stately avenues.   Lautoka has been a prosperous little city because of the sugar industry, and some farsighted people invested in making it beautiful.  Here are a few shots I got of some of the magnificent trees.
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Even the main street is lined with palms.   Maybe we can read history of bad weather from their bent trunks.

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This was the view from the hospital room.
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 Beautiful, eh?   I kept thinking about how none of the coconut trees were “decapitated” from the recent fierce hurricane: so many of the coconut trees in Guam are headless because of the storms.   Then later, Austin and I noticed this group of headless royal palms.
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That is weird because royal palms throw off their leaves during storms, and almost never lose their crowns or get blown over.  That’s why Austin always plants royal palms near any house we live in.   Anyway, he’s thinking maybe a piece of flying tin got them, since it is 3 trees in a row.
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Just a little more around the hospital.  Beautiful hibiscus.  I envy the healthiness of this plant – as you recall I often bemoan the plight of my hibiscus bush at home.
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This beauty was blooming in the parking lot.  I asked Austin what it is – he doesn’t know.  Says we have it at home.  He was quite dismissive, but I found the flower charming.
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And I can’t leave the hospital without showing off the TALLEST Cousin Itt trees I’ve ever seen – standing there against the hospital. …  And finally we could go home.   This is part of what met us.
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More ducklings – these are a couple of days old and going to their new owner today.
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Austin wanted to make sure EVERYBODY notices that there are some with pink bills and some with blue.  He thinks the pink-billed duck is a hybrid.  (Sometimes he goes on about their feet – some are yellow and some are black.  Big deal.)
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And finally – this is the happiest thing that met all of us on our happy, healthy return from our sojourn in the west.   Tarsi’s puppies – 5 females and 3 males.
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PS – I feel the report is not complete without mentioning that  I did not notice any flora or fauna inside the hospital.   I actually LOOKED for vermin for my report, and there was none.  For the tropics this is incredible.  The other thing is that we did not have to “shell” out any money for the 6 day hospital stay.  It was paid for by our tax dollars.  The care was beautiful, and I think it deserves a mention.

25 July 2013

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Here are Austin’s hands full of rhinoceros beetle grubs that he found in a rotting coconut log from a tree we chopped down before Cyclone Evan last December. The grubs had turned the center of the log to mush/compost.   If allowed to mature, they would be a plague to our coconut trees: adult rhinoceros beetles eat the coconut crown and the young leaves.  So here are the grubs….. chicken food?  human snack? …  chicken food?  human snack? … If you really want to know – ask.
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A curious reader inquired,  “Why do you kill the mongeese?  Do they eat your chickens?”  Thank you for asking.   Mostly, they steal the eggs of the chickens and ducks.  An adult mongoose can pick eggs up like footballs and run a long way with them.  They will grab ducklings and chicks, if given the chance, and they will also go for adults.  We had a large dead duck in the pen that Austin is pretty sure was a mongoose kill.  He put more than a dozen poisoned eggs over a period of weeks and he killed two mongooses that way.  In just one week we’ve caught 9 mongooses with the trap from the States.  (PS – dictionary editors agree on “mongooses” as the correct plural form.)
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“Good God!,” I said, “what is THAT thing?” …  that piece of vegetation lying on one of the porch tables – brown, dry and about a meter long.  It reminds me of the “rain-stick” given to Jayne Cobb in one Firefly episode.   “It’s a torai,” replied my friend/housekeeper.   Torai?!  No way!  Torai is Hindi for sponge gourd, something I really like to eat when it is about 1/4 this size. I had no idea they get THAT big.  This granddaddy will be for seeds, I guess.
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This week it has gotten to 12 degrees below freezing in the early mornings – that is 60 degrees F.  (coconut oil freezes at 72).  That is painfully cold for us… but it doesn’t seem to be having much effect on the other fauna.  Well, there aren’t any houseflies, and there are hardly any mosquitoes.  And other than that the only change I’ve noticed is that the cats seem more cuddly.
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Flora-wise, I noticed the fence-post trees (vaivai) on the top of the hill have lost their leaves.  Do they think this is fall?  But the vaivai down by the road are in full leafy glory.  Then again, the vaivai way low in the neighbor’s field are bald.  What the heck?!   I gave up and asked Austin.  Answer:  it’s two different species of vaivai.
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Absolutely the worst thing about the farm for our recent guests was the dogs barking at night.  Just as they were leaving, our young bitch (technical term) Inu went into heat.  What a bother.   She finally got out of heat, and now her mother Tarsi is in heat.   IF YOU ARE A VETERINARIAN AND WANT TO COME SPAY OUR ANIMALS – WE NEED YOU !  
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Actually, last year a very sweet veterinarian did stay here for a week and was going to spay our cat. She brought everything but the ketamine and couldn’t get the pharmacy or the vet in Suva to let her get any.  Son of a gun – that was so disappointing!!!!    Now we have two darling female kittens needing a home.  Any takers?