Friday, 31 August 2012

A Worky Worky day

Yesterday when I woke up, I thought I was going to spend part of the day refurbishing/reupholstering my office chair, but little did I know that things would not go according to they ever???

On entering my office, and reaching to open the window, I realised that the screen was dirty, so I decided that I would wash the screen off.   Outside I traipsed, and gave it a good wash-off with the hose.

After removing the screen, I saw that the window grille had a few minor rust spots, so I decided to sand it and repaint it.

Between the coats of paint, I used an old painter's trick..

Stored the paintbrush in a secured plastic bag safely on the the bristles would not dry out between painting

Freshly painted window grille

Of course, it was only natural that the window would need to be cleaned as well....obviously.

When I looked at the sill, it just didn't look fresh enough, so I decided to paint the window sill and frame.

All finished.....a nice clean outlook on the world.
(You can't even see the screen, it's so clean)

Wow, how did I get myself involved in these maintenance chores today?  I was supposed to be covering my office chair with new fabric.....maybe tomorrow.
Talk about a worky worky day.

Thursday, 30 August 2012


After falling and damaging my scar-prone skin yesterday, it was only fair to me, myself, and I, that I should venture out to cheer myself up.
There was a Sunset Jazz Concert and CD Launch at the Frank Collymore Hall, which I had wanted to attend, and I decided to stick to my plans. After all, I had been looking forward to the performance for many weeks.
Now, I don't know how many times I have mentioned that I LOOOVE jazz, so I was not about to let any HUGE bruise and painful shin keep me away from my jazz sireee!!
Not only that,"The Hall" as it is affectionately known, is closed during the month of September for maintenance and repairs, so this was the last concert for a while.

"The Original Unit" jazz trio was launching their first cd, "Present Day", along with a musical presentation, and I needed to be there.

  Stefan, David & Neil

 From the programme: "The Original Unit is a Barbadian jazz trio consisting of pianist Stefan Walcott, bassist Neil Newton, and drummer David Carnegie. Their music combines elements of Caribbean music, straightahead jazz, soul, electronica and free improvisation.
David, Stefan and Neil started playing together at Harrison College and went on to pursue music at The Barbados Community College and in the UK.
This project came about because it was the fist time in more than a decade that the three of them were going to be in the same place long enough to record an album. This album draws on their myriad musical experiences, shared and otherwise, and is hopefully the first of many together."

These guys played exceptionally well together.  All of the songs were composed by them, and the programme only included one cover, "Well you Needn't" by Thelonious Monk.
Stefan played the piano with a comfortable style, while Neil played his bass guitar with grace, and David played the drums with such ease, that they all three had me captivated all evening.

Even though it was all new music, it seemed as if they had been playing together forever, each feeding off of the other in a true symbiotic relationship.

I know I have mentioned before that learning to play a musical instrument is on my Bucket List. I was leaning towards the steel pan, but after last night's performance, I think I'm going to buy a drum set.
The drummer David Carnegie made playing the drums look so effortless, and EASY.

All I can say is, the evening was magical, the music was captivating, and if I had to sum up the performance in one was........SWEET!!!!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

My big old bruise

"Watch out Brownie!!  It's wet and slippery....please be careful." He continued to run playfully down the incline of the pavement, stopping at the bottom wagging his tail.
In the next second, I had slipped and fell.
It had rained during the night, and I had gone outside a little earlier than usual to bait over my neighbour's wall, from whence the Giant African snails were coming.  Walking and throwing snail pellets with total abandon, I was a bit too hasty, and in a split second I was sitting on the pavement in total disbelief. I had actually fallen and landed on my butt, grazing my left shin on the low retaining wall. The bruise was HUGE....and hurt like #$@%&*.
When was the last time that you took a tumble?  Falling so simply was just not the thing to do today.  I had so much stuff planned to do.
Limping inside and wincing in pain, I applied the medical stuff of choice....hydrogen peroxide and an antibiotic ointment, ever so gently.   It really hurt to touch.
I was not looking for sympathy, but Brownie stepped up to the plate and came and gave me a lick, as if to say, "It's going to be okay...just rest today."   And that is exactly what I did. Took myself to the couch with a good book, propped my injured foot up, and read all day...what luxury.

I have spared you the photo of my bruised is not pretty, and it hurts like @#$%^&*.
In the evening I finally got up, and went out to cheer myself up.....more on that next time.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Oh what a beautiful morning....

Oh what a  beautiful day......
Took a quick walk around the garden this was still quite early......but from the tinge of bright colour creeping into the morning hue, I could tell that it was going to be a beautiful day.

My new heliconia species was blooming for the first time.

The special baby croton was coming along nicely too.

My dwarf heliconia had a visitor. The good snail was hanging around....notice there are no bitten leaves.

What's this I spy? I hadn't noticed it before...the first flavour pepper from my anyone?

The blue vervain wants to take over the entire garden bed....need to dry some leaves for tea.

White desert rose in all its glory, after a good dose of unused tea bag leaves. The abundant rainfall has damaged the frail flowers.

White mandevilla has had too much rain, hence the yellow leaves at the bottom

My new pride and joy......the Japanese privet seems to like under the Japanese fern tree.

I'm happy about the rainfall that we had, but I'm even happier now that the sun is shining again.....I don't have the heart to show you, but the grass needs cutting terribly.
I've got my week all planned out......weed....cut grass.......weed......cut grass.....cut grass....cut grass.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

I hear paper wrack-a-ling

Have you ever tried to do something quietly? Without drawing attention to yourself?  Not making too much noise?
Common, take your minds up out of the gutter.
You know how sometimes you want to camouflage a sneeze in a lecture hall when everyone is so attentive, you can hear a pin drop?
Taking your parent's car out of the garage for a spin by easing the handbrake down, and engaging cruise control?
Eating something decadent that you don't want to share?
I'll tell you a story.
Years ago, my auction buddies and I attended a Saturday morning sale. Usually there are sales people selling snacks on the outside, but this day in question, oddly they did not show up.
It's kinda hard to sit quietly after a certain time, and not favour the taste buds with at least a candy.
So there I was, sitting with my girlfriends, sharing some sweets amongst ourselves.
Trying desperately to open the candy without creating a stir, nor drawing attention to the fact that we were eating.
As fate would have it, the more quietly I tried to open the candy wrapper, the more noise it made.....what are the odds?
Then, lo and behold, a lady who was a staunch auction sale aficionado who was sitting in the row in front of us, turned around and announced, (I couldn't make this up if I tried), "I hear paper wrack-a-ling."
It was so funny, but we gave her one of the sweets to keep her quiet.
Last night reminded me of that Saturday morning. My daughter was sitting on the couch watching tv, and trying in vain to open and eat a raisin biscuit without Brownie hearing.
Brownie's ears work at optimum all the time, so she did not have a chance at fooling him. There she was sitting on the couch with her hands closed and her mouth quiet with no chewing, and he KNEW there was food around.
He had heard paper wrack-a-ling too.....

I KNOW you have something eating up there....

What have I got to do?  Jump through hoops?

He was eventually rewarded for being such a smart dog, and not giving up.
(Not any raisins though)

Friday, 24 August 2012

Who wants to go Back to School?

I have not been posting as regularly as I would like to recently, because I have been caught up with some home renovations.
I am one of those DIY-ers, you know the kind......watched every episode of Home and Garden, Yard Crashers, Spice up my Kitchen, Bath renovations, House Hunters, This Old House, etc.
I can answer most questions on home maintenance, tiling, building, painting, demolition, plumbing, wiring, irrigation, planting, composting, and on it goes.
I like to help myself, and with so many of these shows around, you can gain the know-how with the flick of a switch....uhm, sorry, the click of the remote. 
An honorary mention must also be made of the worldwide web and YouTube...what would we "once before novices" do without them?
My friends call me up whenever they have a question about dogs (I am also somewhat of a Dog Whisperer/vet expert), home repairs, vehicle maintenance, financing, where to locate stuff, phone numbers, anything......I seem to be the go-to person.....the information hub so to speak.
The conversation usually goes like this...
"Vee, I'm looking for a blue bucket, 10 inches deep with a big gold handle."
"Oh yeah, I saw one of those at the hardware in the south of the island, they also had pink, and it's on sale for $20.00, less 15% until the end of the month."
"Thanks Vee, I knew you would know where I could find one."
With that we hang up.  No big production, no small talk, no pretend conversation. Blue bucket has been located, end of story.
What was I saying....oh yes, I'm in the middle of a renovation, which I knew I could not complete on my own.  Had to hire some help. Well what do you know, good hired help is hard to find these days.
They come by and work on your job for maybe one day, and then the next day they're off on another job....leaving their tools with you for another three or four days, before they show up again, for another few hours, before heading off again.
House full of dust and debris, and an unfinished project on your hands.  We are now into week three.  No sign of them for the entire week four.  Week five and a half, they show up, but I've had enough. I have moved on. I can finish it off.....I'm a DIY-er.
It will take a bit longer, but I am more than capable.
Today I was working merrily on my own, when I realised that I needed some stuff from a city store.  I don't really favour going into the city to shop. It's crowded and noisy, and it takes time to park, and get to the store etc....
Anyway, I'm headed to the store, and I'm walking minding my own business, when suddenly this bell is being rung to catch my attention. I turn and look, and this is what I saw.....

A character hired by the store to advertise for Back to School savings. A school bell ringing loudly in one hand, BA-LING! BA-LING! and a broom to sweep away the high prices in the other.
His sign advertised the savings that could be had in the store.
When he saw me going for my phone, he cried out, "Take my picture, take my picture!", and with that he swung the sign to the other side which read "Explosive Performer. He who laughs last thinks slowest."
Didn't see any children dragging their mums' hands to go into the store.....I think he was scaring them away...he certainly made me laugh, but I was not inclined to go inside the store, not even to have a brief look around..
I left school many moons ago.....who wants to go Back to School anyway??

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Rain rain go away....come again another day

It rained all day today.....not even  a brief respite of sunshine ....just rain, rain and  more rain.
From the moment I opened my eyes, I heard the raindrops beating down....not a day to open up the windows, not even a tiny bit.  Drab and grey, cold and wet, not my kind of day at all.

There were lots of gusty winds as well.   Tropical Storm Isaac was passing farther north of the island, headed towards the Lesser Antilles, so we were experiencing some of the effects of the outer bands. 
Dark, menacing clouds enveloped  the Carnival Victory as it arrived in port.
I felt so sorry for the tourists aboard that ship. They had been looking forward to visiting the island and enjoying all it had to offer, including our famous sun, sea and sand......but not today......what a bummer.
Must have been a rough sea crossing too, for there were lots of squalls and choppy waves.
All aboard must have been very happy to cruise into port....what's that old saying..."Any port in a storm?"

Rain up north........rain down south...........everywhere.......... rain, rain, rain

There she goes..........Arrived in the rain.......departed in the rain

If I were a tourist, I would feel cheated. I'd want my money back.
Years ago, The Barbados Tourism Authority sponsored The Barbados Perfect Weather Guarantee for travel during May - December. They were so sure that perfect weather would prevail, that travelers were given cash back when the weather in Barbados was not perfect. Once the traveler had registered at no cost after purchasing their vacation package, they could participate.  If the weather did not cooperate, they would receive $100.00 for every day the temperature fell below an average of 78 degrees Fahrenheit and an accumulation of more than a quarter-inch of rain.

Couldn't risk a promotion like that these days....the weather pattern worldwide has changed drastically, there is just no guarantee that the weather will be perfect for any given time......c'est la vie!!!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Blackbird nuisance

Brownie has a another nuisance in his life.
Before he can even finish his lunch, these annoying Blackbirds or Grackles (Quiscalus lugubris) are waiting to eat the leftovers.
They are the most common birds on the island. With their sleek jet black feathers, wedge shaped tails, and bright yellow eyes, they are quite pretty, especially when the sun reflects off their plumage.
However, be warned, they are responsible for messing on freshly hung laundry and just washed cars.
They are extremely fast and very bold. I always think they would make great pickpockets, and they somehow remind me of a magpie in their manner of stealing food.
They are extremely LOUD and demanding, and even more so, when Brownie cleans his plate entirely leaving nothing for them.
Every day like clockwork, they show up at lunchtime.

I believe these two are the scouts.
Then more arrive........
 And soon, there are about ten of them, all screeching and hawking and making a "big bundle of noise" for what they believe is rightfully theirs.

They do wait patiently though without advancing until he's through eating.

They love it when he leaves some for them.

I think Brownie takes his good time eating, just to make them wait.  Sometimes, he moves away as if he's finished, and then springs back into action when they go near. They scatter squawking their heads off.
You go Brownie!!!

Here is a link to some articles about these birds which I found interesting.
And yet another link with some more information on these birds.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

An evening out

"Where are you going?"  "Who are you going with?" "What time will you be back?"
If those words bring back memories of younger days of your parents queries as you left "their" house, you have gone back too far.
Believe it or not, those were the words that my daughter accosted me with as I was about to leave for an evening about the tables being turned!!
Oh well, it's nice that she still cares about her mum's whereabouts, although I would have told her anyway.
So where was I off to?  The Frank Collymore Hall to see The Good-Will Military Band of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China.
They were performing solo, as well as with our local Royal Barbados Police Force Band, The Barbados Defense Force Band, and The Barbados Cadet Corps Band.  I was looking forward to a musical extravanganza of combined stylings.
I enjoy the sunset concerts at the Hall. It's always a nice evening out and I get the opportunity to see lots of folks that I won't normally see, and meet new folks too.The concert started a little later than the 7pm scheduled time, but after the opening remarks by the Ambassador to Barbados for the People's Republic of China, His Excellency Dr. Xu Hong, the concert was on the way.
When  the Chinese Military Band walked on to the stage and took their places, I knew I was in for an unforgettable treat.

Smartly attired in green uniforms with white shirts and green ties, with clean shiny shoes, they exuded professionalism all around.  Clarinets, Saxophones, flutes, horns, trombones, oboes, xylophone all came together in a well timed and precise performance.

Commencing with the national anthems of both China and Barbados, the evening's programme  continued with numbers like Hey Jude, In the Mood, Mambo No.5, Tequila, as well as Beat It and Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, among many others. The star of the band was a young man who thrilled the crowd with his Michael Jackson dance routines, and received hearty rounds of applause.

What's with these conductors?  They all seem to be comedians.  Mr. Conductor spoke no English, therefore had an interpreter, who he teased as he translated.  He had a flair that engaged the audience, and we loved him.  When it came time for the combined bands to perform, they played as one. It was very interesting to see the Chinese Band playing our local calypsos and Bajan melodies without a problem. Mr. Conductor was even dancing and swaying to our local music as he conducted.
A good time was had by all (on and off stage), as I saw many heads bopping and feet tapping all around.
The rousing standing ovation at the end of the performance was testimony of the audience appreciation, and it was well deserved.
What a lovely evening of wonderful music, I could not have asked for more.

Now some background information from the programme:
"The Military Band of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China was established in January 1948.  As the principal band, it participated in the founding ceremony of the People's Republic of China in 1949, playing the National Anthem for the first time. The PLA band now has 360 members  divided into three symphonic bands.
Serving as the national ceremonial band, it has performed more than 7,000 times over the past 60 years for occasions such as state visits, National Day celebrations, the handover ceremonies for Hong Kong and Macao, the Beijing Olympic Games, the Shanghai Expo, the Guangzhou Asian Games, etc.  It has always been the nation's leader in wind music development.
The PLA Band is hailed as China's Leading Team in Wind Music by media both at home and abroad."

The evening's event was sponsored by the Chinese Embassy in collaboration with the Ministry of Family, Culture, Sports & Youth. After 35 years of bilateral diplomatic relations between China and Barbados, last evening's  goodwill musical exchange between the military bands will go down in the annals as an educational, enjoyable and memorable experience.

 Here is my programme (I folded it in half to fit in my bag on the way home).

 Now the close up photo has a crease...sorry about that!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


Here on the island, we have mosquitoes, especially in our rainy season, which happens to be now.
It is imperative that you keep your surroundings clean and try  to alleviate all places where mosquitoes can breed. To this end, I'm always cutting grass and shrubs, making sure my plant pot saucers are not brimming over after watering, checking garbage items, tossing anything that may be construed as  a receptacle for water, since mosquitoes are very clever creatures, and extremely clever at hiding.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the PITA mosquito that is causing all the problems here.
It prefers to feed on humans, and does so even in the daytime.
The mosquitoes spread dengue fever.  Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes.
In its efforts to reduce the high prevalence of mosquitoes around this time of the year, the Ministry of Health (Vector Control Unit) has instituted an island-wide program of fogging.
What is this fogging that I speak of...let me explain.
Fogging entails using a fogging machine on a truck which then drives through all the districts on the island disbursing the "fog."
Announcements of the fogging schedule are aired on radio and tv, as well as advertised in the local daily news. There is also a vehicle with a loud speaker that comes around the day before the fogging is to be carried out, announcing the times and the rules to follow during the fogging procedure.
These include opening windows/doors for the fog to penetrate the building. Persons with respiratory problems and asthma  (like me) should exercise extra caution to protect themselves from inhaling the fog, and children should not be allowed to play in the fog.
Still want to know more about the fogging?
What do you think is being used to fog the mosquito-ridden areas?  Give up?
Malathion....yes, that's what I said.
Malathion is an organo phosphate insecticide used for mosquito control. It is used in conjunction with diesel fuel to fog where there is an infestation of mosquitoes.  Yes, you read correctly.......malathion mixed with diesel fuel.
Mind you the fogging only attacks adult mosquitoes. It causes no harm to the eggs which I learned can last 3-5 years without water.
So where does this leave us?  We are fogging the adult mosquitoes only, which in my opinion only seem to fly away from the fog and head to safer ground.  I have never seen a pile of dead mosquitoes anywhere after a fogging exercise.
Yesterday evening when I heard the loud speaker announcements for my area, I knew I would be closing up my windows and doors extra early today before the fogging exercise began.....who in their right minds would want to have that putrid smell in their homes.....invading everywhere and everything........making you gag and splutter way to shortness of breath and bad feels........
Looking out from my patio I see that they are on time, and they begin at 4.30pm as announced..

Yes, that is the fog being dispensed in the neighbourhood adjacent to mine.

Here it comes, enveloping everything in its path.

It'll be coming 'round the mountain when it comes.........

There are men on the back of the truck keeping check on the proceedings.

Here are the children that have been warned NOT to play in the fog, and also a van driver trying his best to drive faster before he is enveloped in the fog.

Not sure what purpose the helmets are serving, but the respirators are indeed necessary for a job like this.

Here is another lady running away so she is not caught in the

Mosquitoes or not, I never want that chemical circulating in my home.
I guess in retrospect, fogging is the lesser of the two evils, since we would not want a dengue fever epidemic here on the island. The fact remains that dengue fever is the world's fastest growing mosquito-borne disease. We have to keep on top of the situation, so as not to contribute higher numbers to the worldwide death statistics for this disease.
Over the years, this is the only way that the Ministry of Health has been fighting the mosquitoes, along with house to house health inspection, which isn't done that much anymore.
I'm always in mosquito attack mode at this time of the year.....there is always a large can of BOP (local insecticide) and an electrical mosquito swatter at hand to combat those PITA's.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

It's just one of those days

When I woke up this morning, I realised that the weather was not conducive to my plans for the day.
Before going to bed last night, I had decided that I would work in the garden, but that was not to be.
What do you do when you're all set for gardening, and it's cloudy and rainy outside?
Looked around for my sidekick to see if he wanted to accompany me outside, and look where I found him........
all snuggled up between some of my indoor plants....all rearranged to suit his body contours.

 Why are you bugging me now?

 Going outside?  Now? Are you crazy? It's raining outside.....NO we cannot walk between the raindrops you crazy woman.....who does that?

I like lying here all cozy and warm....please go away....

Mr. Brownberts was having none of my folly today....he did not want to go outside, nor disengage from his idle position. I was dismissed with his closed eyes.
What else can I take care of.....oh yes, an indoor task on my "To Do" list.
I decided to clean my pantry, so I set about removing all the foodstuff and checking expiry dates while concocting menus in my mind for the items that needed to be used soon.
After a thorough cleaning and careful repacking, the pantry was just right.

After handling food all morning, I was a bit hungry, it was almost lunchtime..... time to fix lunch.
I made a big pot of vegetable soup, complete with dumplings made from cassava flour given to me by my girlfriend a couple of weeks ago.

Vegetable soup with veggies, chick peas, potatoes, fresh herbs, and cassava dumplings.

Guess who came to investigate while I was cooking.......he ran back out of the kitchen before I could snap a photo of him.

One job down, many more to go......the list is ever changing.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Give a dog a bone......

Many of my friends know me so well, that they try to keep in my good graces by buying gifts for Brownie.
Not really, they all love him too. After all he does have his own personal fan club....seriously.
Now he has even more friends world over that send him ear rubs and cuddles and belly rubs, and he's loving it all.
Here is an example of what I'm talking about........a friend traveling home to Barbados recently, made sure that Brownie's treats were safely ensconced in his luggage.

The Original Smart Treat - Total Oral Health Solution
Helps control tartar and Plaque

My boy loves them. Look at him go.....

They are shaped like toothbrushes.......and do make his breath fresher.
I cut each one in thirds and he has one as a treat once a week.

Give a dog a bone? Not necessary.  With treats like these, who needs a bone?

Sunday, 12 August 2012

One of my favourite places

Even though I live on an island, and I'm surrounded by beautiful sea and sand, one of my favourite places is a lovely plant nursery in the north of the island.
You already know the drill by now.....that's right......come on, say it.......I'll help you....."Saturday is girls day out" so......yesterday was Saturday, so.......come on............. out with it........I know you know.........."The girls were out together having fun."
Yes, we visited one of my favourite places on the island.......Caribbean Plants.

Now, I must tell you that I can easily get carried away at this nursery, but I was a very good girl. I walked all around taking photos, and chattering away with the two guys who work there.
Let's wander around and see what there is to see, shall we??
No need for me to say anything......the plants say it all....please enjoy.

It's like a jungle in there

Would you be able to choose just one?

Kinda hard isn't it?

And here is Baje, who INSISTED that I include his photo in this post.

Are you tired yet?  Save some energy to view these lovely pots.

Are you carried away yet?

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