Category Archives: PLACES

Places and sites I’ve visited around the world and events happening on the East Coast


Fijian Kava Ceremony. Kava is being mixed in the tanoa (large wooden bowl). The long stick in the background is a bamboo pole containing water that is being used to mix the kava or yaqona.
Pacific woman in Philly (PWIP) recently read a story on-line about a Kava Bar that just opened in New York City called Kavasutra. Isn’t “sutra” a word that can mean something sexual in Hindu? So kava has become a sexual drink? Take it from me, there’s nothing remotely “sutra” or sexy about the national drink of the Pacific islanders.

Kava or yaqona is one of the most important drinks in the Pacific. What the formal tea ceremony is to the Japanese, the ceremony of drinking kava is to the people of Pacific.  In the Fiji Islands, it is enjoyed on both important and social occasions. It is offered to welcome guests and reunites community, families, friends, and even enemies together to socialize, discuss important events and mostly just to relax and “talanoa” (tell stories) at the end of the day.

Dried roots of the kava plant.
Kava is crushed from the root or the stalk of a plant from the pepper family. The root or stalk is cut, dried and pounded to a fine powder. The powder is then placed in a cloth and mixed with water in a large wooden bowl called a tanoa. The liquid that is extracted is kava or yaqona.

After the kava is mixed, words of welcome often emphasizing the connections of the people at the gathering are said by a prominent or senior member of the household. There’s a rhythmic clapping (usually done 3 times and often a specific beat), not just two hands slapped together kinda clapping, but more of a cupping of both hands making the sounds a little deeper. After all the clapping, grog is then served in small coconut bowls for each person.

Late Pope John Paul having his  first bowl of kava.
Queen Elizabeth enjoying her kava bowl.

Prince Charles downing his bowl of kava. Drink it all.
One person sits by the tanoa (kava bowl) to pour the drinks into the coconut shells, another person sits next to the tanoa (usually a child – I remember doing this job as a young girl) to carry the coconut shells, filled with grog, to the guests. The guests sit and form a large circle around the large tanoa. The kava is served in rounds. The most important guest or chief gets the first cup and then the rest of the adults are offered their drinks.

Kava drinking is a process that can take hours. It often depends on the number of “basins”, code word for tanoa that each group is willing to withstand. After the first tanoa, there may be 6 or more basins to go around. On weekends, people can drink from late evening to early morning. Don’t even bring the guitar out, that can only mean noon time grogging (slang for kava drinking) and singing. Just kidding.

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This Pacific woman in Philly (PWIP) loves to enjoy a kava session once in awhile and encourages safe and responsible drinking of our famous but not sexy drink.


Jewish Museum in Philadelphia

Mother and daughter with their coordinated umbrellas.
Ms E took a picture of the Deuba girls in the big city, with their matching umbrellas. I love these umbrellas.
The National Museum of American Jewish History located at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.


Ms E standing next to pictures of famous American Jews.
One of the beautiful interactive sculptors that children can relax on at the museum.
The museum is great in that kids can try on clothes from the time period. Here, Ms E is trying on a party dress that a child would have worn.
Presenting Princess E, all dressed up. I think we’ll get you a bigger size.
One of the many industries that the Jewish people established themselves in was farming, hence the beautiful shot of me and my “friend”.
Another industry that was popular with the early Jews was the textile/garment industry.
Some of the tools of the trade in the garment industry.
After touring the museum, it was so nice to come out to the “terrace” and see these bright, bold colors with beautiful people who coordinated their outfits with the furniture.
The reason we went to visit the Museum was to check out Einstein’s pipe. There it is in the background.
Thank you, Ms E for the “invite” and for making your aunty, the most cultured Pacific woman in Philly. Okay, other than your wonderful mom.



Pictures from New York Museum

This “giant” dinosaur skeleton welcomes you into The American Museum of Natural History.
All the hair on the mannequin is made from a lion’s mane.
Another view of the “lion” hair.
This fishing net reminded us of home especially when it was located in the Pacific room of the Museum.
Another memory jogging moment at the Museum when we spotted this fishing net.
A replica of the roof of a meeting house from the Maori’s in New Zealand.
A “tanoa” or kava bowl depicted at the Museum.
One of those huge statues from Easter Island standing in the Pacific Room of the Museum.
This giant sequoia log contains 1342 rings, measures 16 feet 5 inches and weighs 9 tons.


Swim Meet in Sewell, New Jersey


Last Sunday, Kevin (my wonderful hubs) and I drove Silo and Ms E to her swim meet. Silo’s husband was away on a business trip and I was excited to go because I don’t remember the last time I had attended an indoor swim competition. I think the last time I watched a swim meet was during my high school days, at St Joseph’s Secondary School, in the Fiji Islands.

My children, on the other hand, did not participate in swimming activities when they were young, even though we belonged to a swim club. However, sitting on the bleachers on Sunday, brought back memories of when my kids were little and their participation in the intramural sports of basketball, soccer, field hockey, football and track. Watching the meet, I recognized the similarities in how all children want to do their best and how all parents live vicariously through them.

The  sport may be different, the pep talk is often the same, “kick those legs”, “where’s your water bottle?” etc. etc.

There’s always the hungry kids, “Mom, I am hungry” and the game hasn’t even started. Or the ones that get their nerves so worked up, they start to get sick and mom and dad have to go calm their child down.

Of course, the interesting team t-shirts worn by the parents and supporters, “Beware Twacnado”, ” Swim Mom, Loud and Proud” were two of the ones I noticed.

Just like other kids sports, I am always fascinated with the sideline cheering squad. At the swim meet, the parents were very positive in their cheers to the young swimmers. But there’s always the  lone voice that is often heard, above all others, at all kids games. The mom with the high pitched, almost primal cry, “GO JOHNNY, GO!” over and over until the race ends. You try to sit as far away as possible from this person.

Ms E participated in four events: 25 yard backstroke, freestyle, 50 yard backstroke and the butterfly. She did very well and beat all her previous times in these events.