Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year 2014!!!

Wishing everyone the best of everything for 2014.
May you be blessed with wealth, health and all the happiness that you desire, and may the new year bring you peace.

Monday, 30 December 2013

The fight of a lifetime

Many of us gardeners think we can make unruly plants behave in our gardens.
"We've got it under control," we tell ourselves.
Really, who are we trying to fool?
Me for instance, a few years ago decided I was going to "control" a cardboard palm   (Zamia furfuracea) in a pot.
Crazy......I know that now.
Recently, I had noticed a slight hairline crack in the pot, and knew that the time had come to tackle the palm removal process.
Cardboard palm in my beautiful fish scale clay pot.
 To begin the Battle Royale, I gathered my artillery of choice......

.......and let out a cry. "Let's get ready to rumble!!"
And so it started.  The biggest fight of my gardening lifetime.  Even when I fought with the removal of some ficus and pittosporum shrubs it was not like this.

This was on the first evening.  I watered the plant thoroughly in the pot until it almost overflowed.
After the water had flowed out of the pot, I trimmed a few leaves off. The leaves have sharp spines that can stick you very hard if you're not careful.

Tied the leaves together as best as I could, and then got to work at removing the plant.

This plant was having none of it.  It resisted and fought back with a vengeance.

It was slow going.  I was removing soil and rocking the palm from side to side and it was giving a little (probably teasing me), and when I thought I could try tugging it out...it refused to budge.
It was hanging on for dear life and not letting go of its comfy home.
I spent the rest of the evening removing soil from the pot and avoiding the sharp spines.
It was getting late and I knew I had to call it a day....I was not pleased....being outwitted by my opponent did not go down well with me.

Early the following morning after a good night's rest, I was at it again.
By Round Four, I was sweaty and weary.
The huge trunk had grown almost to the bottom of the pot, and it was necessary to use a very sharp knife to sever the last stronghold.
Wielding the knife and driving it straight down into the trunk root, it held on for dear life while I sliced and sliced until that monstrosity came loose at last.
 DING!!!  DING!!!  DING!!!  DING!!
The final bell.....my opponent TKO'ed.

I decided to plant a lovely little button fern in its place. However, I would first place it inside a plastic pot, and then insert it into the clay pot.

This way I would be able to control it better.  I have no idea why I didn't do this in the first place, since all my other clay pots have plastic pot inserts where the plants are placed.

The newbie in my fish scale clay pot....it should be happy there.

I ended up with a large pot of soil, which will be mixed with fertilizer to fill around the roots of the crotons later.
 Guess who was keeping an eye on the proceedings from the shade of the patio?

He doesn't look too pleased...I was spending a long time fighting with a plant when I could have been spending time with him.  
Don't worry, I made it up to him afterwards.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

I had a mouse in the house

Smart little bugger he was too.

He had been throwing his weight around upstairs for a little while.  Ignoring the mouse traps all laid out for him with mousy delicacies.

In the blink of an eye, plantains freshly purchased from the store were given a taste before they could be put away.

Taking a six for a nine he was.

This mouse was smart....VERY smart.  He knew how to avoid being caught.  He knew all about traps and bait it seemed.  He knew that they could prove to be his demise.

Not a nibble of the cheese nor the said plantain pieces that I placed on the traps were taken.  Yes, I said traps....there were five of them to catch the "cute little mouse."  (Not my words.)

My girlfriend advised me that a local company sold tasty banana glue board traps.  Called the company up to get a price, and then set off to buy a few.  Arrived there to be told that they were out of stock.  Why could I not be informed of this while I was making my inquiry, I have no idea.
Back home to ponder the problem.
Maybe I should borrow my neighbour's cat to come by and take care of the critter.

I went online to google how to catch a smart mouse.....so many options....I had no idea.
Did you know that the mice of today are really smart, and not only I, but also thousands of other folks worldwide are having the same very problem?
All kinds of foods are used in the traps: peanut butter, gravy, chocolate, raisins, cheese etc.
You should wear gloves when setting the traps since the mice could smell the "human-ess" on the traps and avoid them....WOW!!
Peanut butter was the number one food that they loved apparently.  Since I really wanted to get rid of this critter, I mixed up a batch of bait and peanut butter and carefully smeared a few samples on the traps.....and waited.
And nothing......

I could hear him laughing at me from his hiding place. I could hear him singing Elton John's "I'm still standing...yeah, yeah, yeah!!!!"

Okay, time to bring out the big guns.  Back to the hardware store to purchase the new and improved mouse trap.
I kept on hearing the words of a saying in my head, "Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door."
Yeah, I was beating a path to the hardware store's door alright.

The JAWZ modern day reusable mouse trap along with two LARGE sticky traps
Like a surgeon I set both traps meticulously with my gloved hands along the areas that the critter had been observed in the upstairs kitchen....
Still nothing........nada......zip......zilch.
I checked the traps every day hoping to find my quarry, and everyday I tentatively peeped at the traps......but alas.....diddly squat.
I was at my wit's end, and to be honest I had had ENOUGH!!

I went upstairs and had a "cuss out" with Mr. Mouse and told him to "get to stepping" (get going/move on) or else.

My friend CJ over at Rambles from my Chair treats his mice as guests....I can't afford to do that here....they get too cozy and then they bring all their friends and family to live and enjoy the comforts of my home....just ain't happening here.
A few days  after the "cuss out" my nose picked up a scent, and I do believe that he had passed on to mousey heaven at last.
About time!!!
Now to locate the carcass and get a move on with my life.
Yes, about time!!!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Remembering loved ones

Yesterday, Boxing Day was a holiday here. It was also the day when traditionally, I visit and place floral tributes on the graves of my loved ones.
The day was cloudy and quite overcast with the rain clouds holding out and floating by overhead.
I set off from home on my mission of devotion.
First, I visited with Mums, my sweet mother-in-law who passed last year.  She is laid to rest in the churchyard of St. Stephen's Church.

St. Stephen's Church
A few minutes to pause in reflection and place the bouquet of flowers tenderly on her grave site before moving on to my second stop at my brother's grave.  He is buried in the Military Cemetery at Needham's Point, adjacent to the Barbados Hilton Hotel.
After all the rainfall that we had recently, the entrance was partially flooded....however this was not a problem to gain entry.

The Barbados Military Cemetery, also referred to as the Garrison Military Cemetery is located at Carlisle Bay between the Hilton Barbados and St. Ann's Fort, not far from The Garrison Savannah.
The Barbados Military Cemetery is full of history. Just by meandering in and around the graves you learn all kinds of historical facts.

The cemetery came into existence c1780 but the earliest grave that can be identified is dated 1822.
In the old days, this area was all swampland and was the burial ground for the vast number of people on the island who would have died from yellow fever. The dead were usually placed in shallow graves or in some instances left on the surface of the earth where they would soon be absorbed into the swamp within the space of a few days.

In colonial times, Barbados was the headquarters of British military forces in the Caribbean.
The troops were stationed at The Garrison and St.Ann's Fort next door and it became necessary for a cemetery to be erected, hence the military cemetery was built on this spot just west of The Garrison at Needham's Point.

The cemetery contains only a small percentage of those troops who perished while on duty in Barbados.
The site was originally dedicated to the men and families of British Forces, who died serving in Barbados between 1780 and 1906.
The cemetery is well maintained and is still used as a burial ground for those who served with the Commonwealth Armed Forces and members of the Defense Force. 
In the early 20th century, a number of the remaining graves were dug up to provide room for the Mobil Oil Refinery storage tanks, which has now ceased its operations here.
The cemetery was neglected for a few years, but was beautifully restored by the Barbados Military Cemetery Association which was founded in 1975.
The Military Cemetery is located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison environs.  Admission is free but donations are welcomed to aid in its maintenance.

The Memorial Building at the entrance was restored in 1984 and houses information on various military units attached to The Garrison and the locations of the headstones in the cemetery.

The salvaged headstones were placed on a cenotaph, erected in 1920–24.

In 2003, a cenotaph was erected to honour the Barbadian merchant seamen who died in World War II.
"1939 -1945"
"To the Enduring Memory of those Barbadian Merchant Seamen who gave their lives in the Second World War."

In 1982 a "Cross of Sacrifice" was erected to honour all the military dead (those who perished in battle but were never found.)
From Wikipedia: "The Cross of Sacrifice was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield for the Imperial War Graves Commission and is usually present in Commonwealth war cemeteries containing 40 or more graves.  It is normally a freestanding four point limestone Latin cross in one of three sizes ranging in height from 18 to 32 feet. On the face of the cross is a bronze broadsword, blade down. It is usually mounted on an octagonal base.  The Cross represents the faith of the majority of the dead and the sword represents the military character of the cemetery."

A memorial to the Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, the first Prime Minister of independent Barbados, who fought in WWII as a pilot with the Royal Air Force.

Errol Walton Barrow, Barbados Flying Officer was enlisted in the RAF in 1940 and flew forty-five operational bombing missions.
He rose to the rank of Flying Officer within a five year period and was appointed personal navigator to the Commander in Chief of the British Zone of occupied Germany, Sir William Sholto Douglas.
I have posted  about him before here.

Headstones and memorial plaques adorn the walled cemetery.

Some of the now defunct oil refinery storage tanks in the background.

The older tombs and graves of the cemetery are askew from the sea water. The location next to the sea (and the old swampland characteristics) results in this occurrence as a result of very high tides and flooding.

"Always Remembered"
On the opposite side of the street from the cemetery is the beautiful Pebbles Beach on Carlisle Bay.

My last stop was to visit my mother's grave.
Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens

The journey is always one of reflection tinged with sadness, but I always find myself comforted with the best memories of the good times we all shared together.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas Day Lunch Preparations

Every year I am told that I will have some help preparing the Christmas luncheon (well at least on the years that we are having lunch at home), and I always believe the words of the person that utters them.
Don't get me wrong, there were a few years when I did have some help in the kitchen, however minimal.
I like to start early, since I like to eat early.  The person that insists they want to help likes to sleep late, so is nowhere to be found (except in bed) when I saunter into the kitchen to get started at 7am.
After attending Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve night, my somewhat sleep-deprived body is still up and ready to go at it's usual time.
It's no problem though since I operate well on my own.  Some of the menu items were prepped in advance and items like the red snapper and the chicken just needed to be placed in the oven to bake.

Red Snapper Fish seasoned with local seasoning and stuffed with dill, thyme and marjoram after marinating in lemon juice.
Nice tender chicken with new potatoes in the Roasting Pan before being placed in the oven.

I am not a pork-eater, but I know that Brownie enjoys a slice of ham.  I remembered I had made a special visit to the supermarket to purchase a small ham shank for my boy.  When I asked the butcher behind the counter for one ham shank, she asked me if I only wanted one. Told her yes, I only had one dog.

"For your dog?" she cried aloud, "My goodness, what next!"  She just wouldn't understand, so no use explaining to her.  Thanked her, paid for my purchase and left.
That too was placed in the oven to bake with the other meats.

The humble beginnings of a special celebratory meal.

Veggie lasagne ingredients - some of them included seasoned granburger, bok choy, and bora bora beans.

 Peas and carrots were also invited to the party

Lasagne noodles cooking away.

Crackers for Baked Stuffing - seasoned with lots of fresh herbs and mixed with milk, garlic butter, salt and white pepper.

The final menu consisted of Veggie Lasagne, Rice and Peas with Gravy, Potato Salad, Baked Chicken with new potatoes, Baked Red Snapper, Stuffing and Cole Slaw.

See that glass of blue stuff? I'm not a drinker, but I do like a glass or two of non-alcoholic wine every now and again.
That blue stuff has a story behind it, and I'd like to share it with you.
Remember I told you about the friendly banter that goes on in any queue here on the island.
Okay, so I'm in the supermarket Express Line waiting to check out, minding my own business and the lady behind me peers into my basket and announces, "You should try the blue wine, it taste good."
Now mind you, I already have my favourite wine in the basket, but she thinks I should try the blue one.
After she went on some more about it, I decided I'd give it a try.  I asked her to keep an eye on my basket while I stepped out of the queue to collect a bottle of "the blue wine."
After my items were bagged, she announced again, "You going like it.  I like it. Merry Christmas!"

It's a French wine, so it can't be too bad I thought.  Well, well, well, let's just say it's nothing like my sultry tasting sparkling wine to which I'm accustomed.  For me this "blue wine" has to be an acquired taste.  I don't think I will be purchasing it again.
Moral of the story: Don't take advice from malicious people looking over the items in your basket in the supermarket line.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that you enjoyed everything on your menu.
As for Brownie, he enjoyed his lunch a whole lot....I think I can still hear him smacking his lips in his sleep.

Merry Christmas to All!!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
Wishing you a wonderful and blessed day.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Eve blooms

I was dreading leaving home and getting all caught up in the Christmas Eve rush, but alas, I had to leave the house after all.
I needed to purchase fresh flowers for the graves of my Mum, Mums, and also my brother.
It was necessary to leave home as early as possible and return home early to start my food preparations for lunch tomorrow.
Off I went to one of the floral wholesalers on the south of the island.
I like to use red and white blooms in my festive floral arrangements to remember my loved ones who have passed.
I had called ahead to make sure that the flowers were still available, but I knew that with all the last minute hustle and bustle traffic my arrival would be after 9am, when lots of folks may be shopping as well.
However, my timing was great, and it was an easy in-and-out purchase.

The wholesaler has a large cold storage room where all the beautiful imported blooms are held.
It is cold....cold....cold......brrrr.
I had to put on a thick thick padded jacket before entering the cold room.

The flowers seemed to love it though.

Red carnations - just what I was looking for.
It's so frosty cold inside the room, the photos are blurry.

Safely home and awaiting their debut in my floral arrangements which will be completed on Boxing Day.

Here are some beautiful orchid blooms at my friend's Shop that are enjoying the sunshine-y weather....enjoy.

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