Good Friday. A day of solemnity. A holiday here. No shops or stores are open. Throngs of worshippers headed off to church, all dressed in black and white, as somber as possible. A day to commemorate the crucifixion of Christ. A quiet reverent day. Beaches practically deserted since it is not a good thing to go to the beach today. There are many Good Friday traditions here on the island. Going to the beach today is bad luck. There have been instances of persons drowning over the years. Allegedly the sea claims a sacrifice on Good Friday. Fish sales at the markets and supermarkets have been steady for the Lenten season, but most households will definitely want to have fish on the menu today....it's tradition. Lunch today will definitely include fish and vegetables, but no meat. It is traditional to eat fish today. Abstinence from eating meat ensures that no blood is shed in the slaughtering of animals. My mum would fast during the early part of the day and not take anything to eat until returning home from the three hour Good Friday service. I find myself fasting as well, but not attending the service. I spent a quiet day, I prepared a fish lunch for both myself and Brownie, since daughter dear went off with friends dressed in a swimsuit... "Don't go to the beach," I told her. "Is it okay if I go into the pool then?" she queried. "Yes." I replied.
I don't consider myself superstitious, but why tempt the fates? I had considered making some "real" hot cross buns, but then decided not to...sorry. I ended up watching a movie this afternoon. A movie I had been saving for a quiet day like today. And here is where the coincidence comes into play. I watched the movie "Lincoln." Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on the night of Good Friday, April 14, 1865. I did not know that. Wikipedia has a full account of the assassination which can be read here.
There is just no substitute for a well-made hot cross bun, like what I remember from my childhood. Back in the day (did I just say that?), oh well, back in the day, my mum would make hot cross buns during Lent, and we would eat to our hearts delight, especially on Good Friday. They were tasty spiced buns full of goodness like raisins and fruits, and topped with a cross of ginger icing. Mum's hot cross buns were a memorable part of Easter, and my brother and I always looked forward to them.
These days, one can hardly find a well-made hot cross bun, except one makes it from scratch oneself. Now, they're mass-produced by various bakeries on the island, and have lost the authenticity of a true hot cross bun. My daughter brought some home a few days ago, and they're just not what they should be. But then again, whenever has mass-produced anything ever equalled to the real thing?
Local bakery hot cross buns
Definitely not one a penny, nor two a penny
Even Brownie was not interested.
Traditionally eaten on Good Friday, many stories abound on the creation of hot cross buns.
Thought to have pagan origins where the Greeks and Egyptians ate certain types of cakes in honour of their gods, as well as the Anglo-Saxons in honour of Eostre, their goddess of light and spring.
"Here are some of the old superstitions from folklore about hot cross buns:
• The buns, if baked and served on Good Friday, are said to be impervious to spoilage for the coming year •
Hot cross buns have medicinal qualities to help those who eat them
recover from illness. Keep a bun or two to use throughout the year for
medicinal purposes •
Sharing a hot cross bun with another is believed to ensure friendship
through the coming year, especially if the phrase, “Half for you and
half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be,” is uttered while sharing • Throughout the years, seafarers contended taking hot cross buns on a sea voyage prevented shipwrecks •
Hanging a hot cross bun in your kitchen each year will protect your
kitchen from fire, as well as ensure the baking of all breads will come
Today's buns originated in England in 1361, when a monk, Father Thomas Rockcliffe of Saint Alban's Abbey distributed them to the poor. They became extremely popular in England during the 18th and 19th centuries, and ended up being the subject of the nursery rhyme above.
They were made throughout the Lenten season, but were originally made for Good Friday only.According to the BBC website, the bread may represent communion and the spices may symbolize those used in Jesus' entombment. The symbolism of the cross is obvious.
I may end up baking some "real" hot cross buns after all.....
You may read more here on St. Alban's hot cross buns.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/03/28/3307638/traditional-hot-cross-buns-full.html#storylink=cpy
Yesterday morning, the two pals were at it again. I called my daughter to come have a look. She could not believe that I had not staged the scene. "Mum, how does Brownie get Monkee to sit upright like that? As if he is really on a stakeout?" "I have no idea my dear. Made me laugh when I saw the two of them."
What are the two of them yabbering about Brownie?
Women are always yabbering my friend...yabber, yabber, yabber...they go on and on...thank goodness we've only got these two to deal with
Just ignore them Monkee and they'll soon leave us alone.
Keep your eyes out for those varmits......wish they would stop yabbering and come open this patio gate so we can get outside.
Included in my spring cleaning was my email Inbox, which somehow always accumulates lots of "stuff that I intend to get back to" but somehow never do. Amongst the residing emails was this one, which I saved because I found it interesting, since I love origami and paper sculpting. I hope you enjoy.
"By Canadian paper artist Calvin Nicholls.
There is nothing simple or ordinary about his paper art. Where we would
simply use a piece of paper and a pair of scissors, Calvin uses
everything you could possibly think of to carve, cut and rip perfect
details onto his creations. The motifs are all wildlife, and that must
be one of the hardest categories of things to make with paper since
there are sometimes impossible details on animals. These details are
amazing and I can't even fathom the time it must have taken to create
these masterpieces of art."
I have been thinking seriously about these paper art images. Mr.Brownie is an expert paper shredder, maybe I can have him hone his skill to achieve some masterpieces like these....hhmmmm.
This last week was not the best it could have been at all. We are still rain-less, and still under water restrictions.
This does not mean that I don't catch a watering can full of water to quench the thirst of my newly planted hedge. We are told not to use hoses to water plants and wash cars, and this I'm adhering to.
We are bombarded with Public Service Announcements on water restrictions, but we don't have a water patrol here, maybe we should.My neighbour seems to ignore these announcements and still waters his lawn.....mine on the other hand is a patch of brown crispy stuff.
I spent the week knee-deep in spring cleaning the house. Cleaning windows and changing curtains and airing cushions/mattresses and a good scrub down on the inside worked wonders. Don't get me wrong, my house is usually clean, but I love a good spring cleaning.
Brownie wanted to help out like the little guy above, but he realised early that it was better to stay out of the way of the Mad Woman on a Cleaning high.
When it was time to work on the outside in the garden, (the weeds in the brown patch still groweth) the plug on my outdoor extension cord went bum, so I had to have it replaced by a dear friend.....thanks goodness for good friends.
Tuesday morning my phone rang quite early, and it was another neighbour asking for help. Some wreckless driver had just ran over a small dog right outside her doorstep, and its leg appeared broken. Gave her the number for the vet's ambulance service, and they went by quickly and took the dog for care, however when I checked later in the day, it didn't make it...too much trauma. Why are folks so callous? The driver did not even stop after he ran over the poor dog. It made me quite sad.
I love my music passionately, so while spring cleaning, my "music baby" was keeping me company as I worked. When my Lionel Richie cd started playing all crazily by jumping all over the songs, I tried another six cds and they all played the same way, so I knew my "music baby" was sick and needed a replacement cd eye lens.....my good friend to the rescue again.
Even though I was out with my girlfriend yesterday on our Saturday jaunt, the day was marred by bad news. First we visited some friends, the husband is in the third stage of Alzheimers and the poor wife is beside herself trying to care for him.....time for him to be placed in an elderly hospice...not sure she can handle this transition. More sad news came via a telephone call later in the day, a friend's cousin had lost her house and everything in a fire. She barely managed to escape with her two month old child. My heart went out to this young mum who now has nothing. I immediately liaised with some other friends to get some necessary items over to her. Makes one stop to think, doesn't it. Here I was cleaning my home, while someone else had just lost their home. "There butfor the grace of God, go I." John Bradford
.......that the trapper is not knocking around....waiting to get him. IF the trapper were around, there is NO FREAKING WAY that Brazen would be sitting in a tree fully exposed for all to see. I watched him this morning for a long while. He sat and surveyed his territory as if pondering to himself..."Now what havoc can I cause today?" "What shall I order my compadres to do that will kick up a stir in the neighbourhood?" "Hmmm,.....what on earth shall I do today?" Brownie kept careful watch of his movements barking all the while. Soon......
My mum was a great cook, and I remember when she baked her famous goodies, us kids (my brother and I), would hang around until we were given the mixer beaters/spoon and the bowl to enjoy. Mum would always make sure that she left a copious amount back on the beaters and also in the bowl, yet my brother and I would end up "calling it" for the one we wanted. Sometimes, we'd end up in the "he's/she's got more than me" place, and my mum would send us both out of the kitchen with nothing. She did not play my mother. She was strict and fair. We learned quite quickly not to argue about who had the most after those instances. I thoroughly enjoyed cleaning the beaters, but I always enjoyed cleaning the bowl as well. Mum would make us take turns in choosing which one we wanted, so that if I had the bowl on the last occasion, it would be my brother's turn for the bowl next time. Today, I felt the yearning for something chocolate-y. Now I'm a lover of white chocolate regularly, but today I felt like the taste of dark chocolate cake. In between cleaning the house (spring cleaning), I baked a quick chocolate cake and iced it with a chocolate icing glaze. You know where I'm headed with this don't you?
No brother around, and daughter dear was nowhere in sight, so I had both the bowl and the beaters ALL FOR MYSELF!!!
If I knew you were coming, I would bake a cake, bake a cake......
The chocolate cake was moist yet rich, and was the perfect reward for all my hard work....yum, yum.
On Thursday last week, I called the gas company to order a large cylinder of natural gas. Ours usually lasts for six or seven months, and since the current one in use was installed in September last year, it was time to order before we ran out, especially with all the cooking and baking that daughter dear has been doing recently. Contacted the company to place the order, and was informed that they needed to come by and collect my empty bottle the following day, and then bring a full bottle to me on Monday (yesterday), which is my delivery week day. This was a strange request, since the empty bottle is usually collected at the time of delivery. I therefore queried why, and was told that the company was short of bottles, so this system was in place until things were back to normal. No problem. The truck arrived and the guy took my empty cylinder away. I was given no documentation nor did I sign any documents for the receipt of my empty cylinder. I found this quite strange.
Empty cylinder space on the right
I was busy for the remainder of the day, so I forgot about it.
Yesterday morning, I placed a call to the company to check on my delivery and also to ask how it was that I had nothing in my possession that stated that my cylinder had been picked up to be filled. Well who tell me to do dat? The employee that took my call was "rudely polite" at my query. I know you understand what I'm trying to say here. She answered my query by informing me that "they had all the documentation May-yammm", that "they knew they had my cylinder May-yammm", and that "they knew that my delivery was scheduled for today...May-yammm." The tone and condescending manner that came across the phone line resounded in my ears, and I guess she figured that if she added "May-yammm" at the end of everything that she said, that it was okay. Heck she was rudely polite. I can't complain because she was polite according to the book, but I was not impressed.
Delivery truck with pleasant delivery guys
Thankfully the service guy who makes the delivery and completes the installation is a gem and a well-mannered chap. He certainly made up for her behaviour. Service at its best.
New and full cylinder on the right
I now have a full cylinder on standby, and my daughter can cook and bake to her heart's delight for the next six months with no interruptions.
My Alma Mater held a flea market on its grounds yesterday to raise funds. Being a past Head Girl, it's hard for me not to support their efforts, and so I set off to enjoy the day wandering around the stalls and seeing old school mates.
The tennis courts .....one of my favourite places on the school grounds.
Where many a match was played (and won)
Naturally my favourite stalls were the ones selling plants
I had done some laundry before I left home, which included dear Mousy, who, poor thing is on his last legs.
Therefore I came away from the flea market with this little fellow.
He's not Brazen Monkey, but I'm sure Brownie will "take care of him"
Arriving back at home, I walked into the Better Homes Test Kitchen....dear daughter was at it again.
Chicken meatballs stuffed with pepper jack cheese, accompanied by a big helping of spaghetti
I'm caught! I can't get away! Can't get away I tell you! Help me!! I need to get away!! Although........
I really don't want to be saved. I'm hooked for life. I can't get enough of Downton Abbey. How long do we have to wait for Season 4??? An entire year!!!! See here. However will I survive until then? Help!!! Help!!
Another hot day. Not the best conditions for trimming and pruning in the garden, but it had to be done. Yesterday, I decided that the McArthur palms needed to be cleaned and trimmed. Took the step-ladder out to the base of the palms, and got to work. In another hour the job was completed.
McArthur palms (Ptychosperma macarthurii)
Cleaning and trimming the fronds allows for better ventilation and now I can see through the foliage better
Saw Brownie sniffing around intently by the wall where the Japanese Fern tree is planted.
On further investigation, I found that Brazen had left the remains of a mango that he had eaten.
Note how clean the mango seed has been eaten, this tells me that Brazen and company are very hungry, since they mostly only take a bite or two and then discard...not this time however. Even the skin was cleanly eaten. We have been experiencing some serious heat and outside is dry with no rain in sight. The neighbourhood fruit trees are empty, so they're making the most of what they do find to eat.
I then noticed that one of my newly planted angelicas had been pulled out of the ground, and had sustained some damage.
Replanted the poor angelica, knowing that there was no guarantee that they would be left alone, since Brazen and company were seeking water and food, and they would probably strike again.
Note the dry grass and the cracked earth
After cleaning up the palm fronds from the ground, my nostrils were assaulted by a heavenly culinary smell....daughter dearest was at it again in the kitchen. What could be better than a freshly-baked snack after a hard morning's work?
Hot and tasty baked cinnamon churro
With a cold glass of mauby, the churro disappeared in a flash. All in all, a good morning.