Monday, 31 December 2012

My year 2012 in review

This year, 2012 was a strange year.  Started out like normal, but then shifted into some kinda fourth gear, and went helter skelter along, bringing with it, all kinds of unfortunate and unexpected incidents, but some were good as well.
January dealt me a double whammy with the death of my last two bow wows (Shaggy and Einstein) from my canine crew of six. I thought the tears would never stop.
Then Brownie came to live with me, and the depression that had crept up on me, went far away.

 Brownie my sanity saviour

My other canine friend Wilf the Pon also died this year....cried bucketfuls at his passing too.
My pc died and it had to be resuscitated with new memory, motherboard and hard drive, oh yes, and a new dvd  burner.
New pc did not like my old printer, so I had to purchase a new printer, which is the worse printer I have ever owned.
Despite all these incidents, I still continued to be thankful, for I knew I was still very fortunate, as there were many others in worse off situations...reminded me of the saying, "I was complaining that I had no shoes, but then I saw a man who had no feet."

I decided to start my first blog, and I found lots of new friends in Blogland,..... genuine, caring, loving folks, whom I have never met, or may never meet in person, but yet they crept into my world, and now they're like family, and I love all of them.

Lots of changes too:
My Shell gas station is now Sol

 My Texaco gas station is now Rubis.
"Is it the same gasoline" I asked the attendant, "Oh yes" came the reply."

Cultural changes too:
Old Years is being taken over by New Years Eve...why I don't understand. 

We have always had Old Years night, and now all of a sudden advertising has changed to New Year's Eve,.... this is an import from the US. Why we don't respect our own culture, I will never know.

Our road was resurfaced after many years of promises, and a new drainage system was put in place on the front road.

My tooth broke off, and I'm still laughing at the surgery repair cost.
 Had a hard fall on the wet and slippery walkway at the side of the house, and also caught the "nearly kill me dead" flu, both of which were experiences not encountered in many years, and which made me quite miserable.
Traveled to see my friends in the US, and explored new sights.
Mums, and one of my dear friends, and a neighbour passed away, and are now resting in peace, away from the cares of this world.

Some of my favourite singers passed away this year too, including singing divas Whitney Houston and Donna Summer.
Two of my girlfriends became grannys.

 Brazen monkey caused all manner of havoc from the beginning of the year until the end....maybe his world will end  soon.

Worked tirelessly trying to whip my Japanese inspired garden into shape.

Continued working on reducing my carbon footprint on the earth.

We had a fire started by some "damn foolios", which smouldered for days afterwards, even after the fire service had put it out......their quick response saved the neighbourhood from a potential disaster.

Both small and large businesses are closing every day, but some continue to hang on.

Roberts Manufacturing Company (makers of butter, spreads, and dog food)

With high unemployment, many more miscreants have surfaced.   This year I saw police command posts in high traffic areas, like in the supermarket car park.

Our government is not the best in the world, and it seems as if both parties are harbouring snollygosters in their midst. Elections are constitutionally due next year, so it's left to be seen what transpires.
The usual unexpected household and vehicle repairs, along with unusual weather patterns made for an interesting year.
This was the year that the world was supposed to come to an end (December 21st), but this prediction never phased me, since no one knows the appointed time.
I'm glad 2012 is over, and I hope that 2013 will bring more goodness, health, and new opportunities for us all. 
Happy New Year to all!!!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

An afternoon celebration

As we get older, most of us tend to treasure the times we spend with our friends and family more.
Birthdays are given special treatment, and we make an extra effort to celebrate these occasions.
Such it was yesterday afternoon.  A time to celebrate and a time to give thanks for another year lived.
My girlfriend was the honouree, and I went by to share in her joy.
Her garden is an old established garden with a vast variety of trees, shrubs and flowers.

Yes, that is a blue plumbago (auriculata) almost as tall as that Dracaena


 Petrea volubilis and Bignonia magnifica living in harmony

  Close up of Bignonia magnifica flowers

 Close up of Petrea volubilis

A well manicured Bay Leaf tree (Pimenta racemosa)
West Indian Bay Leaf is used to make bay rum and wine, and also a liniment for sprains and arthritis (remember I bought Bay Leaf wine at the Farmer's Market a few months ago?)
Thunbergia erecta - this is supposed to be a shrub?????

Plumeria pudica

The orchard with all kinds of fruit trees

....including this Carambola tree so heavily laden....

....that it could not hold all

 Kalanchoe bloom amidst the ferns

 Christmas candles (Cassia alata)


Beautiful ixoras  in pink and red

 And let's not forget all the beautiful desert roses (Adenium)


What a lovely way to spend an evening celebrating life.  Walking in nature and enjoying the last rays of the evening sun as it set for us, and on its way to becoming a beautiful sunrise for others somewhere in the world.
Be thankful for your blessings and always remember to......
Celebrate Life!!!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

So what is going on?

So what is going on?

I did not have to cook today, since there were lots of delicious leftovers in the fridge.
Why do leftovers often than not, taste so much better than on the first day???

Vegetarian Lasagne, Baked Stuffing, Heavenly roasted herb Chicken, Stir fry medley of broccoli and bora bora beans with carambola chutney and herbs.

My girlfriend who grows her own vegetables and herbs for the farmers market, sent over a large bag of produce, which I shared among my friends.

Brazen is probably off enjoying the holiday season with another troop of monkeys, since I have not seen him for a couple of days.

Brownie has been sleeping inside the house at night, as the temperature is cooler, and invariably it rains as well, giving the patio a good dousing.

Lots of yard work to be never stops does it?

 Garden debris being closely guarded....not a leaf can escape.

But I'm rewarded with a sweet smelling floral display from the Lakeview Jasmine.

Lakeview Jasmine (Murraya paniculata)

The house under construction in the village downhill from mine continues at a steady pace. The first floor has just been cast, and I anticipate the second floor will be completed soon.

 First floor being cast with hydraulic concrete equipment

The  drainage project on the front road has also been completed (finally), and so no longer looks like this.

Still had to run some errands down town. The mobile police command post bus is still stationed in the middle of the city (just in case).

 Life goes on.......

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

I saw three ships, oops, four ships, oops, five ships come sailing in

Lovely bright sunshiny day.
It's a holiday here...Boxing Day.(*)
I saw three cruise liners in the port at first......then they were four.........

 Carnival Victory,  Aurora, MS Maasdam, and Riviera

....and then the biggest-a$$@#%*ss cruise liner steamed in,

Celebrity Equinox
Can you see how tiny the tug boat is compared to this monstrosity?

Fancy meeting you guys here........

Make room for me.......

Come on guys, move over, I need to get in here........

and then they were five.....yes, FIVE ships in the harbour.

I am sure that all the taxis and tour operators and stores had a wonderful Boxing Day.

(*) More info on Boxing Day here.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Wishing all of you, 
                       my blog friends and family, 
                                    all the best of everything for this holiday season.

Monday, 24 December 2012

'Twas the day before Christmas

This is the first Christmas that I'm not stressed and trying to get everything done like a crazy person. 
Today I am at home, relaxed, writing my blog post, and sitting here merrily listening to jazz carols, while drinking a glass of apple cider.
I can imagine the total bedlam on the outside. All the stores are filled to capacity with shoppers rushing around doing their last minute shopping.
It's a rainy/cloudy day here on the island. I can hear my neighbours in the rain cutting their lawns. I can actually see someone in the village down the hill from mine completing some painting work on his house.
In the supermarket on Friday, while waiting to check out, an announcement was heard that all the hams had been purchased, and that another delivery would be made around 1pm....never in a million years did I ever think that such a thing could happen. If it's one item that Bajans must have on their Christmas dinner menu is a ham. It's not Christmas without a ham they say. It's probably never Christmas at my house, since I don't eat ham......
There was a cashier with very long nails who was operating her touch screen register with her knuckles...I kid you not...wish I had a photo. In the post office was the supervisor calmly sitting reading a romance novel nonchalantly. The line was long, and I'm sure she could have helped out by at least dispensing the packages that were to be signed for and collected.
One thing I've noticed this year is the lack of Christmas lights adorning the many houses as in years past. I myself have not even put my usual tree up, I have scaled down considerably with only two miniature trees....and no, the photo below is not my miniature tree.
I always have a list of five items that I need (all below $20.00) that my friends may not know about. This is a code between my girlfriends. We all have this list, so that we have a guide for gift giving. This year, all I really need is a new secateurs for my gardening chores.
One of my girlfriends turned up yesterday with some of her homemade Carambola Chutney. She knows I love it on grilled cheese, so it was a perfect gift, and very much appreciated.

Christmas Eve was the day my brother and I would search the house from top to bottom, looking for our presents that our parents had hid from us.  We did this while they were at work of course!  Sometimes we'd find them and open them carefully and take a peek, and place the scotchtape back oh so carefully. It was a real pantomine act to pretend to open them with shouts of glee and feigned surprise on Christmas Day...oh my we should have won Oscars for our performances....we were that good!!
Tonight, I will be attending midnight mass and witnessing the blessing of the Crèche. There will be a vacant seat beside me, but I know for sure that "Mums" will be there in spirit.

Happy Christmas Eve everyone!!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

The spirit of giving

Every year, as I seek out "the perfect gift" for all the nice folks who have been good to me during the year, there is always one gift that holds the highest esteem on my list.
From as far back as I can remember, I have had the same vet for all my dogs. A kind, loving and caring vet who has been there for me through all the bad times, the sad times, and the great times.
His staff is a wonderful group of individuals who understand what animal love is all about.
So it was, that Brownie and I set off yesterday to deliver our gift to the best vet in the world, and his staff.
I must let it be known that my friendly vet has a sweet tooth, or should I say sweet teeth, so it is never hard to choose a gift for him.
The veterinary staff all love Mr. Brown Berts, and he was kinda happy to be there too, because he sensed that something was up.
It was time for his nails to be trimmed, since recently I always knew when he was around, because I would hear  his nails tip tip tipping on the floor as he walked.  His ears were checked along with other areas, and he was given a big Christmas hug as we left.

After returning home, I decided it was time for his Christmas bath, and he willingly obliged, standing still and allowing me to bathe him with warm soapy water.
When I was finished, I made sure the back garden gate was closed, so he could not run around and roll all over in the dirt. I gave him a good rub down with his towel, and set him loose in the sunshine.
What makes a dog so fussy with himself when he is all clean....he was beside himself with pleasure.  Running in the driveway...standing still so the wind could blow through his hair....rolling on the concrete walkway...rolling and rubbing...rolling and rubbing until he suddenly sprang up as if bitten by a bug, and off he tore up the driveway again.
So much fun to watch. 
Every day he gives me love and good cheer...his spirit keeps on giving and giving and giving.

Brownie Claus

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Star-crossed lovers

At this time of the year, starting in December (and continuing to February), the island experiences a stronger trade winds breeze that I have nicknamed the Christmas breeze, but the correct term is Christmas trades.
Normally we are cooled by the North East trade winds which blow with great regularity.
However, the strength of these winds coming in off the Atlantic sea are at their peak during this period.  They are gustier, and are responsible for the way way cooler nighttime temperatures which makes me reach for a blanket to stay warm.
During this peak season the winds blow between 15-25 knots, and these higher winds create challenging wave heights for surfers, windsurfers, and kiteboarders who look forward to this time of year.
The 'alize' is a well-known trade wind in the Caribbean that blows from the northeast, mostly between November and February.
Strolling the garden today, I came across two Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) carcasses entwined in the grass like two star-crossed lovers.
I believe they were blown wildly away by these high gusty breezes that we are having.
They were so beautiful......

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

You learn something new every day

This morning as I stood at the kitchen sink looking out the window, I saw the strangest sight.
I am accustomed watching the arrival route of the cruise ships into the harbour on a daily basis, but today was different.
I noticed that a ship was approaching the harbour from the opposite direction. What on earth was going on?

I thought perhaps that there was some bad weather or high squalls on the sea, but the water was its usual calm self.

Then I saw the large "C" on the funnel, and I immediately thought of the Costa Concordia which sank in Italy earlier this year when the captain made an unauthorised "sail by."
Surely, this could not be........

 Sailing pass the entrance of the harbour in order to turn and enter the harbour
 Turning turning turning

The Costa Luminosa
  On its way into the harbour


 Docked safely

I hurriedly took a few photos, and was about to head into the garden, when lo and behold just as soon as the first ship was docked safely, there was another cruise liner arriving from the opposite direction like the first one.
 Here comes the other ship


 Turning turning turning


The MSC Lirica
 Headed into the harbour

 Both ships safely docked in the harbour

Now I was really curious.
I picked the phone up and placed a call to the Port and found myself talking to a very nice gentleman, a Berthing Master who was full of helpful information.
Guess what? Both cruise liners had made the TransAtlantic crossing from the Mediterranean, and their arrival route was the only one that could be taken under the circumstances.....I totally understood.
Barbados is the most easterly island in the island chain, so both ships would have crossed the Atlantic Ocean and then sailed around the south of the island, and enter the harbour from that direction.

The Costa Luminosa  is marketed as "Italian Style Cruising", and it was the first time that it was positioned in the Caribbean on a 7 day cruise.
It left Savona, Italy on December 5th on a 16 night cruise stopping off at Malaga Spain, Casablanca Morocco, Funchal Portugal, Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands, then on to Bridgetown Barbados, St.George's Grenada, Castries St.Lucia, Martinique, and finally BasseTerre Guadeloupe.

The MSC Lirica left Barcelona on December 2nd on a 13 night cruise which included stops in Portugal, Barbados, St.Lucia, St.Kitts, Grenada and Martinique.

Here is a link to more info on the Costa Luminosa
Here is a link to more info on the MSC Lirica.

To access the tracking and live webcams for both ships please click here. Just click on the Exclusive Ship Tracker link and select the name of the ship. The webcam updates every 30 seconds.
Today while both ships were in port, I had a good view of the surroundings in the harbour. During the night viewing there isn't much to see. Would be nice to check out the live cam when the ship is actually docking in the harbour.
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