Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Saipan Dandelions?

I have always been fascinated by dandelions and I finally found the "dandelion substitute" on Saipan that I was looking for!

It is apparently an introduced species that originally hailed from eastern and central Africa according to PIER. This is Emilia fosbergii which is more commonly known as Flora's paintbrush or red sow thistle. It is in the Aster family like the dandelion. It is named after the late Botanist Ray Fosberg whom you can read a little about in the University of Guam Herbarium website. You'll find information about my old biology professor there as well! Ah, the memories!

I thought I'd have to substitute the dandelion with a plant from a totally different family for wish making on Saipan (but I have a biology class story about that too!). Now that I found Emilia, I can make a proper wish.
When you find your dandelion, what will you wish for?

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mi madre, la mer

We're beachcombers, he said.

What is that?
It's people who walk along the beach looking for things of value that might have washed up.
What kind of things?
Any kind of things. Anything that you might be able to use.
Do you think we'll find anything?
I don't know. We'll take a look.
Take a look, the boy said.
from The Road by Cormac McCarthy

What would I do without the sea? I am sure there is a way to live without but I would prefer to always be close to her. It is actually pretty sad that I haven't had a lot of time to spend in the water these past few months. I miss her enough that I plan to see her today. How lucky are we to live surrounded by the water? Can I afford a lunch hour swim? Why not?

A few days ago, DJ, Hayden Lucas, Laurina and I to Wing Beach. It was a good day.
Here's Hayden pointing at a balati (sea cucmber). He was calling it ga'ga' (animal or insect), one of his first words in Chamorro. I tell him Holothuria leucospilota but I'll save that prank for him when he is a lot older.

I love Wing Beach. This was once an ancient Chamorro village. From time to time, you can still find evidence of their presence here. I think it was part of the village of Luyo which usually described at Paupau Beach.
This is prime hunting grounds. Most of the rocks I use for slingstone replicas are from Wing Beach. She offers a lot of colors and varieties.

Hayden's momma asked me, "Why does he look up like that all the time?" I told her it was probably mostly my fault as I tend to point out birds, clouds, the moon and stars to the boy. I think he was looking at a bird flying overhead.
Do you see the two butterflies?
Or do you see the angel taking flight?

The clouds did not offer a clear view of the sun setting. It did however give us a glorious sun burst.
Hayden has a thing for chucking stuff. He laughs at the sound coral rocks make when they hit the ground.
I am sure that arm will be good for something as he grows up. Too bad his uncle's sport growing up was tennis and volleyball. Oh, I see where that can be developed into a smash or a spike.
Is it time to go already?I hope you get to enjoy the sea soon, my friends.

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

Monday, March 22, 2010

Can't Sleep Project

I couldn't sleep last night. I don't think I got enough rest since I got back and now my coughing has relapsed this entire weekend. I was pretty restless flipping through pages of my current reading materials and flipping through scenes of the movie I was playing. I was stuck in insomnia land and the sandman was nowhere in sight.

I noticed some cord laying around that I rolled together while I was on Managaha Island two weeks ago. I was invited by the SDA School to do outdoor classes and I decided to do a nature walk with the younger kids to talk about plants and natural history. At the end of the walk, I picked up a dried screwpine (Pandanus tectorius) leaf, ripped off the spines and started thigh-twisting the strands to cordage. The Chamorros name for this particular screw pine is pahong. I was surprised how tough the cord was after I rolled it. Here's a post with a tutorial on how to make cordage.
I also had a giant clam (Tridacna maxima) bead I took off from a necklace about a year ago that was just lying around unused. I decided to take it off of the nylon cord I had originally used and make a more natural piece. The Chamorro word for giant clam is hima and they called the shell money/ornamental beads, salape'.Hima is very difficult to cut and carve since its calcite-aragonite matrix is very hard, finely-packed and so crystal-like that it cracks easily when it gets heated. Here is the finished piece.
I had a few extra strands of the leaf to roll a smaller cord for the salape' attachment. It is pretty tiring to roll the tiny cord with your fingers.
I still need a lot of help with my technique. Can you see where I cheated? It's my secret.

Sadly, I did not have enough of the pahong leaf to use on the loop, and had to resort to using black nylon cordage. Here is a simple loop and knot for the necklace clasp.

Voila'. It's done.

Well, I am glad of the finished product since it is mostly all natural materials. I need more practice to really get the binding of these things done well. Come to think of it, I haven't had a lot of time lately to make any more necklaces.
I did accomplish to get sleepy after everything was done so the project suited me well for the time it took.

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber.

PS. Oops! I misnamed the leaf that I used. There are two types of native screwpines in the Marianas: Pandanus tectorius which the natives call kafu' and Pandanus dubious which is locally called pahong. I have a picture of both in this entry. Check them out in the Guam Forestry website.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

7742: Night Scenes

Too bad I got sick while I was in Atlanta. It usually has something to do with the recycled air in the plane. I missed out on seeing more of the place and hanging out with people that I just met. On my last night, I was able to go out and see a little of Downtown and Midtown. It was raining a little and there were low-lying clouds. We got lost a little in Midtown but it lead us to a block with beautiful houses. It was like walking in a dream seeing such a foreign night scene.

I am back on Saipan, thankful for my time and the new friends I made in good ole Atlanta.

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

Monday, March 15, 2010

7742: I was meant to meet you today

"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break." -Chinese Proverb

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

7742- Thank You the Island Way

Whenever I visit the U.S. Pacific Island Jurisdictions, I am treated like a king. The islanders really know how to make you feel welcome and go the extra mile to make your stay really pleasant. In the States, our partners do the same for us, taking us around to see the sights, maybe go shopping or to a baseball game. They also really pay attention to the effects of the time difference and jet lag.

One of our long standing project officers will be resigning in a year or two. This means slowly letting go of the PIJ project areas. He has been a champion for the Pacific for more than a decade working out funding and resources that our people can not live without. I am glad that I had at least 3 years under his guidance and experienced immense support for the work that I do. It was my Guahan counterpart, Bernie that had the brilliant idea to take Thom and his wife, Yolanda, out for dinner and to thank him with gifts island style.

Thom had no clue what was going on. Here's brilliant Bernie pretending that we were nervous about our presentations and that we needed some time with Thom to prepare. It was nice to surprise him.

One of the things I'll always remember for is his affinity for taking lots and lots of pictures. We decided to go to a Mexican restaurant called Jalapeno Jack's.

Bernie and the crowning of the king! She was having a hard time maneuvering Thom's fro!
...and our queen. The mwarmwars were from Palau and the leis from Guahan. The mwars were made with artificial flowers since real ones wouldn't have checked out of customs but they were really beautifully made.

The Guahan folks: Bernie, Thom, ate Liz and Yolanda.
James is from Yap, Federated States of Micronesia. The last time I saw him was in 2007 in Pohnpei.
Dr. Zach and Roy with giving some gorgeous shell mwars and necklaces from the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Dr. Zach is based on the main island and Roy is from Ebye.
Roy and I were in Chicago in 2008. It was the first time to see snow for the both of us!
Our couple lookin' smart!
I gave Thom the higam hima: Hacha that I made. He was really appreciative and said he'd make a make a shadow box for it. I also gave away some CNMI quarters.
I gave Yolanda a necklace I made from Spondylus. I shaped one as an alahas and kept one in the natural shape of the spiny oyster.
Hana and Alene from the Republic of Palau gave a beautiful painting of a Palauan chief's house, coconut crafts and some trochus shell and pearl necklace and earings.
Yolanda was excited about a woven pandanus bag from Guahan. I didn't get to take pictures of the American Samoan's who gave tapa cloths to the couple. I think I was caught up in the celebration that I forgot to record the moment in pictures.

At the end of our dinner, a woman came up and asked if we were celebrating a birthday and if we were from Hawaii. I had to explain to her that it was a change to an era, a changing of the guards for all of us in the PIJs. Good luck, Thom. God bless you and Si Yu’us Ma’ase.

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber