Thursday, 29 September 2016

Safe and sound

An overcast day.
A view from my patio 12.52pm
 The weather disturbance that affected our island yesterday was upgraded to Tropical Storm Matthew just as it shifted ever so slightly to the north.
Once again we were spared the full onslaught of the system but now it is ravaging other islands in the Caribbean with a few deaths already reported.
We had  lots of rain and some gusty winds which resulted in a few plants being toppled in the process, but we need to count ourselves lucky that our island did not sustain any serious damage.
The airport is open again today and flights that had been diverted from northern climes will be able to land.
 After the ALL CLEAR was announced early this morning, it's back to business as usual, however schools will remain closed.
We can't rest on our laurels however because a brief glimpse of the Caribbean Satellite Weather Map into the Atlantic just off the African coast I see there are two more disturbances headed across the Atlantic Ocean.
This time of the year is when we have to keep a close watch on the weather and believe me I will be doing so until November 30th when the hurricane season ends.
My thoughts and prayers today are for my Caribbean brothers and sisters who are being affected by Matthew.
Stay safe.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

I'm watching you!!

 Tonight we are all keeping our eyes on this weather system.
 We have made preparations all day. Even though not a named storm as yet, this strong tropical wave brings with it large gusty winds accompanied by thunderstorms and lots of rain.
We are taking no chances.
It is expected to become stronger and will be named Matthew when it gains storm strength.
My little island is the wee blue silhouette in the 7th square. 

Monday, 26 September 2016

The vengeful grasshopper

I decided to plant some lovely white bougainvillea in pots in the back garden a few months ago.

They were filling out so beautifully and the sprays of white flowers were gorgeous....I admired them daily.

Then to my horror one morning I saw that some pest had eaten the flowers during the night.

It was on...I had to find the critter that had done this.

Night after night after night I went looking for the critter.  No slug trails or any identifying traces could be found...nothing.
I threw a few slug/snail pellets into the pot, but caught nada.
One morning after breakfast I took a stroll outside and my goodness gracious that darn critter had now started on the leaves.
I knew it had to be a flying critter.

That night I staked out my poor plants and waited, but again nothing.
I turned those pots upside down, inside out , dug around in the soil checked under each leaf carefully and still I found nothing.
On Thursday last week I told my friend Dawn she could come by and take them for her garden before they were completely need to tell her twice, she came over immediately.
Would you believe that that very same night I heard an insect butting itself against my front door.  Brownie was on the patio and he was going crazy trying to catch whatever it was.
I peeped through the curtains and there was the BIGGEST brown grasshopper that I have ever seen in my life.
There he was flying against the glass door over and over as if he wanted to come in to do me harm.
He come to "pick a fight" with me...oh mercy what a thing.
BUP!!!  Why you move my dinner plants?  BUPP!! I come out tonight looking to get something to eat and the plants gone!!  BUPPP!!  BUPPP!!  You know how long I was feasting on them and laughing at you wid yuh torchlight at night trying to find me?  MEEE???  You want to find me?  BUP!! Come out here  if you is  a woman!!!  BUPP!!! BUPPP!! I guine show you who is boss! BUPP!! BUPPPPP!!!
I am sure he was probably throwing me a few cuss words too in between not suitable for this blog.
I thought for sure he would break the door if he continued this way.
Brownie had had enough. He took one spring and pounced on him after one of his landings, and bit his head off and BUP! that was the end of him.
Can you imagine the audacity?  A grasshopper coming to take revenge on me? For protecting what is mine? How vengeful could he be?  Just like some people.  They watch you work hard for what you have and then they come along and want to rob you of what's yours.
Ain't gonna happen on me and Brownie's watch....oh no way!
Now I have to find some new plants to put in those pots...something that is not on the buffet menu for pests and critters....wish me luck.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

A blaze of glory

It rained all day today and I couldn't give Mr. B the bath I'd promised him.
As a result we were cooped up in the house all day but.....we were rewarded with this beautiful sunset this evening.
The sun made a brief appearance and then said goodnight in a blaze of glory.

Saturday, 24 September 2016


 Wolfgang "Ted" Maritsch
1966 - 2016
I met "Ted" many years ago through my friend Frank.
"Heyyy you have to meet my friend Ted," he'd said, and so it was that not only me but everyone in our circle of friends met the infamous Ted.
Frank claimed he had christened Wolfgang as "Ted" because he looked like a "Ted."
Ted was Austrian (originally from Oberndorf bei Salzburg) but he had made his home in Barbados when his family migrated to the island years ago.
He was a breath of fresh and calm with a sense of humour that made you feel as if you'd known him for a long time.....we welcomed him with open hearts and he fitted into our crazy group instantly.
I became "Werginia.....that's how Ted pronounced my name....a remnant from his Austrian roots....I liked it....the only thing about that was that everyone in the group started calling me "Werginia" too.
Our friendly get-togethers were such happy occasions and one of them sticks out in my mind.
Ted's family lived on the beach and one evening we were hanging out at his home.  We lit a bonfire on the beach and roasted some breadfruit and fish....a local Bajan ritual.
Ted's dog (for the life of me I can't remember his name, but it was something funny) wanting to get into the action "nosed out" a crab from its hiding hole in the sand, and then that dog (I kid you not) held that crab in its mouth and sauntered over to the bonfire and dropped the crab into the fire to be cooked, as if to say "Hey, that one's for me!!"  We all laughed, but Ted pointed out that his dog caught crabs all the time.
We had good times, lots of good times.
At his Service of Thanksgiving yesterday afternoon, we were serenaded with many inspirational songs but it was still hard not to feel sad.
As the words "I make my journey through eternity" from Immortality lingered in my mind, I left the Chapel in a pensive mood.
Outside after the service as I stood waiting in the bright sunlight a large firefly landed on my shoulder.  I was startled.  "What the heck," I said to myself, "what's a firefly doing out in this bright sunshine?" but I cooly brushed it off where it landed on the ground unharmed..  I kept my eye on it for some time, and then I looked away for a brief second, when I looked again it was gone.
My friend Ted knew I didn't like bugs...I laughed, Okay I thought, you get the last laugh Ted.
So long for now my friend Ted, my Manchester United loving Ted, my lover of the outdoors Ted, my hearty laughter Ted, my friend who teased me Ted, my "Werginia" Ted.....I know we'll meet again.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Another year has gone by

 The best father in the world!!
Always in our hearts.

Two years ago today you were ripped from our lives but not from our hearts.
Missing you more than you know. 
Nat enjoying a beginners lesson of tennis from  a pro who was patient, kind and full of love...her Dad.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Soursop Punch

My friend Angus of Bob and Sophie's French Adventure blog recently posted about seeing a strange fruit in his supermarket.
The strange fruit was a Soursop (Annona muricata)/Graviola.
Soursop is in the same family as the custard-apple. 
This tropical fruit has a prickly skin on the outside and its pulp is made up of individual sacs filled with seeds on the inside.

My girlfriend had gifted me with a freshly picked soursop from her tree about two weeks ago but since it was not ripe......

I had to wait until it was ripe to make a Soursop Punch.
I wrapped it carefully in a sheet of newspaper and waited (impatiently).
One morning I knew it was ripe from the heavenly scent that enveloped the kitchen as I walked in. Unwrapping it I saw that the skin had now turned yellow and was ready to be used.
Soursop has a distinctive taste...a mix of tart and pineapple and melon or papaya....a candy like taste.

First I peeled all the skin off.

Next I cut the fruit in half and removed the stem (heart) in the middle.

Then it was time to remove the seeds.
Most of the sacs are seedless and the seeds are black and shiny.

The seeds are encased in individual sacs inside the fruit.

Seeds and non usable pieces for the garbage.

Time to strain the delicious juice.  A large strainer over a glass bowl was perfect for this task.

Using the back of a large spoon, the juice was pressed/squeezed from the pulp.....

Leaving about a cup and a half of fresh soursop pulp.
At this stage I could have either made ice cream or a smoothie, but I was making Soursop Punch.

I'm not an advocate of cow's milk  and most folks use condensed milk and regular milk to make the punch.
You can use any kind of milk, I may even try soya milk next time.
Instead I added a tin of coconut milk, a tablespoon of vanilla essence and a few tablespoons (maybe 4) of sugar.
Blended the ingredients up in the blender till it with nice and  creamy.

The reward?  A lovely glass of fresh soursop punch.
Tasty!  Delicious!  Nectar of the Gods!
No I didn't drink it all at one time although I could have easily done so.  The remainder was shared with daughter dear and some was bottled and stored in the fridge....which didn't help matters at all since it was still consumed within a few hours.
Also check out my previous post on Soursop Ice Cream here.
The lovely vase above was a Christmas gift from my friend Frank many years ago. He had attended an estate sale and didn't buy anything for himself but he thought I would like the vase and he was right, I love it.  Now that the ginger lilies are fully grown and blossoming, I make sure that my table has fresh flowers everyday, and now every time I look at it I will be reminded of my friend Frank forever more.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

My friend Frank

December 8, 1968 - August 15, 2016

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads his white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. He is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch him until, at length, he hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, "There, he is gone"

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. He is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as he was when he left my side.
And, he is just as able to bear his load of living freight to his destined port.

His diminished size is in me -- not in him.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, he is gone,"
there are other eyes watching him coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here he comes!"
Adapted from "I am Standing Upon the Seashore" by Henry Van Dyke.

Losing my friend Frank was a terrible blow....ripped me to pieces on the inside.
We met at our workplace many years ago working for a miserable boss.
He a trained Chef of impeccable talent and me a Day Manager. 
We hit it off immediately and we became good friends.
His creativity knew no bounds. Delicious mouth watering delicacies to make your palate sing were his trademark.
His decadent cheesecakes were to die for.  He introduced me to many new flavours and tastes throughout our friendship.  
Our friendly gatherings were a treat .....we all looked forward to sampling fine fare, compliments of Frank.
He could make an old shoe taste like a cordon bleu meal....he was that GOOD.
When we were Offroading we ate Savoury Bread Pudding and fresh salad sandwiches oozing with freshly made goat cheese dressing as we drove over sand dunes and rough island terrain.
At our infamous Get Together Parties we ate tender meats prepared in cochineal sauce, melt in your mouth cheesecake, seafood paella, crazy drink concoctions among other things....we just never knew what to expect from our culinary genius.
He was one of the most loving, caring, unselfish people I have ever met in my life and I am glad that he was my friend to the end.
One year when daughter dear was job hunting, he offered her a position with his newly opened cafe and she enjoyed working with him so much that they too became fast friends. 
Adventurous, he surely was and he loved trying new things.
One night a few of us headed out to a local bar where another friend was the chef there.
He came out to our table to welcome us and announced that he had a bottle of the hottest peppers in the world and that he dared not use them in any of his dishes.
Without missing a beat, Frank said, "Bring one and let me see."
The pepper came out on a plate and Frank proceeded to put the pepper in his mouth...and chew.
The next thing we knew he was sweating profusely and crying out for "Water! Water!!  No Milk!  Milk! Milk!" 
Oh dear we laughed so much that night...we never let him forget it.
He was a true free spirit and his "Frank laugh" and jokes made so many of us "crack up" until we were dying with laughter and our eyes brimming over with tears.
His dry wit and his incredible command of the English language made him lots of friends and Frenemies and these friends became my friends.  As I write this I realise that he was instrumental in bringing our circle of friends together.
Friends of a feather flock together....we have lost a good soul and our lives will not be the same without him.
He was a storehouse of knowledge and could discuss ANY topic under the sun. I was privy to lengthy discourses laced with in-depth analysis and a healthy dose of Bajan rhetoric thrown in for good measure....these kind of conversations were the norm. We all looked forward to talking with Frank especially if it was a hot topic on the island.
He loved animals. Once he adopted a stray dog that continued to hang out by his home. The dog showed up and started to keep an eye on Frank and his family by barking at strangers who ventured too near.
What did you name him? I asked, "Dog," he replied 
How can you name him"Dog?" I asked.  "That's his name...Dog. That's the only name he seems to understand," he said.  So it was. "Dog" and Frank became an item in his neighbourhood.
He was always in awe at the love and respect I had for my dogs.
"When I die I want to come back as one of your pampered pooches," he'd always tell me.  I found that funny so I'd laugh.
As the years went by he took a different path in life which I never understood, and we only communicated every once in a blue moon.
A few weeks ago when my phone rang and we sat and chatted for a long while, he was like his old self, the old Frank, the Frank that I loved.  We caught up on the happenings in our lives and we vowed to get together soon....that was the last time we would ever speak.  If only I had known that then I would have talked for a few more hours.
This weekend I will make a batch of Black Pepper Cookies, one of several recipes he shared with me many years ago.
To you my "free-spirit" friend I wish you a safe voyage on to your next stop along the way as your ashes are scattered in one of your favourite places on the in peace eternal.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Phew!!! I'm back!! or rather We're back!!

Brownie with a paper napkin tearing it to shreds.

What a crazy, hectic, hard-working, energy-draining, HOTT summer it has been.
I am emotionally drained as well. 
So much has happened.  I don't even know where to start.
As you know my friend Carl came home to spend a few months.  He spent a few days here with me and then off he went to spend time with his family.  Brownie enjoyed having him here immensely because that clever dog ended up having two sets of breakfasts every morning and lots of snacks too.
The weather was brutal (and still is) with the heat index just staying at HOTT HOTT HOTT.
As soon as the sun rises, its rays sting the body....yes I said sting.  As we are prone to saying here "The sun was stinging."
The shade provided no respite...the heat was still unbearable.
Even after 5pm the sun still shone with a wicked heat "out of this world." This means that the garden suffered, especially since we are still under water restrictions.
I lost quite a few plants and most of my grass on my front lawn.  A large area has been replanted and it's hard for the grass to spread quickly in this heat but like me it soldiers on. 
Brownie is still keeping watch over his dominion and me too.
Brazen and crew have two more babies in the family and have not lost a beat in this heat...they continue to be full of mischief.
This summer has been a rough summer in many ways.  I've lost two very good friends and now my circle of friends is even smaller.
There was no time for vacation travel either....just too much to be done and the list of To Do's seems to be getting longer every day.
Lots of work made sure that my body was tired at the end of the day.  Most nights I just tumbled into bed and in the blink of an eye I was fast asleep. 
But through it all I am still here.
I will write a few posts highlighting some of my chores...and a few posts about other experiences during this time.
I know a few of you have missed me and sent me kind thoughts wondering if I was okay.
Thanks for the love.
Rest assured that I'm back.
Funny thing....I had to check my password  to get on to Blogger and then reacquaint myself with writing a post.....don't happens to the best of us.

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