Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An American education?

Today I met Chuukese man who had been a community worker back on his home island. He taught everything from breastfeeding and preventive healthcare to what he called "consumer education."

Specifically, he talked about how in Chuukese people make kon, a foodstuff made of boiled-pounded-oiled/dried breadfruit, and fishing. Those activities, in his words, are "custom and values"--which seemed to imply that he considered them the soul of Chuukese being. However, since Chuukese people have adopted elements of a cash economy, he said that he needs to "go with them to the store, show them how to buy."

Whatever he teaches in consumer education, I certainly hope it includes a lesson in how to NOT blow up their economy by securitization, deregulated markets, and cheap credit. Although to be fair, if a Wall Street trader has yet to figure out to tranche up coconut futures, I can have high hopes for Chuuk after all. Here's hoping.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Håfa i mas bunitu na mångga gi Guåhan? (Could you be the most beautiful mango in Guåhan?)

Probably not. For one thing, you're a bilembines (star apple). And as confused as I am that you're around (considering that my grandma's tree fruited something like two months ago), I would still consider chopping you up, sprinkling brown sugar, and roasting you in the oven. If only the oven didn't create an ungodly unfathomable heat around 4 in the afternoon...

Håyi hamyo?

Yeah, okay, you're definitely contenders.

Ya hamyo?

I am impressed.

Given my bloggy keen interests in plant life, don't worry, ti kumakaduka yu' (not going batty/fuminihi). It's just that once I abandoned the greenery-starved regions of Sanlågu where I rode my bike, I picked up new interests.

Hågat's Mango Festival 2009 was two weeks ago. Unfortunately the photos of the bob-for-mangoes didn't turn out, and technology has yet to evolve a simultaneous web and smell-o-cast of the mango donut demonstration pavilion, but you'll have to take my word that kimchee mango pickles are gof mångge'.

Given that the backyard banana trees are doing wonderful things by not dying on me (unlike the Indoor Bonsai Ficus Number 1), too bad the bananas themselves continue to curse my existence. Blech. One day I will in fact be able to eat a banana.

Until then, I stick to the left side of the table. Or maybe at a house somewhere in Sinahåña or Chalan Pågo, where the despondent owners of a mango tree put a massive sign out front begging people to take them off their hands. This story might be apocryphal, but I'm willing to keep driving to determine if it is so.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What's in my backyard

Like most other blogs, this one has obviously taken a break--partially because I had to figure out how to do some Photoshopping, and partially because the subject of this post took about two months to develop.

First of all, here's a decent view of our backyard. The grass was just cut, so the weeds aren't the usual foot tall. The vines you see at the base of the banana tree bunch are chains of love, which is this nasty invasive species from Asia which is basically covering all of the natural vegetation (including, unfortunately, massive swaths of land by the roads with their respective papaya and breadfruit trees, and the swordgrass). But you can also see our mansanita tree, and the banana trees' suckers sprouting up, in the bunch and to the left. Oh, but wait . . .

What's that? (Click on the photo to enlarge.)

I noticed this the blossom growing a few weeks before I left for Sanlågu in May, and so had a chance to at least take some shots to capture the rate of growth. Surprisingly enough, unlike everything else that shoots up here on Guåhan, the fruit bunch takes a relatively long time to mature.

Here you see the inside of the blossom beginning to face upwards as the blossom leaves fall off.

But the leaves don't just fall off--they do this interesting curl just before doing so. It's pretty elegant.

Slowly you see the rest of the bunch beginning to form . . .

I really don't know why industrial designers haven't taken this shape into account when doing new light fixtures.

Anyway, that is what I saw. And then I went away for three weeks, and then got lazy and forgot to take more pictures of the trees (actually, the weeds got long and annoying, or sometimes it was raining or it was too late in the day to catch good lght, or I didn't want to walk out there because the mosquitos would feast, and basically I was a wuss).

But finally we cut down the banana bunch and gave them to Nanan Biha.

According to her, we probably should have cut off the blossom about two feet ago so that the tree's energy could channel into the fruit (as opposed to the flower), and then let the bunch go for another month to ripen.

But as you can see, there are plenty more plants that might bear within the next year or so, so it could possibly be ensalåda fafalu from the backyard.