Saturday, March 28, 2009

It was a beautiful day, so it is time to fire up the garden. I rake leaves from the lawn in the fall, but leave the leaves in the flower beds. The leaves are a blanket and they work just fine. I touch the leaves and feel heat from decaying compost. However, the leaves have to come off in the spring or the flowers will be smothered. There is such a thing as too many leaves. Last year, I was late with this task. I had to hand pick handful of leaves and stuff them into a compost bag. I could not use a rake, as the daffodils were blooming. If I used a rake, I would pull up the flowers.

So, here I am, rake, bag, sunshine and energy. Five bags later, time for a break. Most of the leaves are off. As I work, I note that the crocus have spread all over. It is a riot of purple flowers. That's wonderful. Color is always welcome. I make notes to myself about where the bare spots are, which bush needs to be pulled and divided, which hollyhock died over the winter.

Having a garden has no end. It is never finished. These are living things, those little plants. It is my pleasure to take care of them, to plan for a display of color every month of the growing season. In the mddle of summer, there is a lull. The spring display is finished. The fall display isn't here yet. This is the test of a good gardener. What shall be planted to bloom then? Dahlias? Sunflowers?


Sunday, March 22, 2009

They were on Craig's List, one county over. There were pictures, too. The man had metal kitchen cabinets. He said they were Youngstown brand, but when I went to see them, I couldn't find the logo, or the tell tale boomerang handles. Bought them anyways, as the size was right.

I have bought other brands and found out that it didn't make a difference what brand they were. Once they went to the auto body shop for rehab, they all looked like the same set...just so long as they fit the space. I have extra boomerang handles for the newly bought base cabinets.

The one that was the hardest to find, was the corner cabinet. I didn't care if it had a turntable in it or not. It just had to fit the space. A visiting grandson helped me move the cabinets to the kitchen and placed them to verify that they fit their assigned spaces. Yup. They fit. Tomorrow, they go to the auto body shop for sanding, priming, painting and clear coat...just as if they were a car.

This means that there is only one more step to take before the kitchen is complete. I will have a counter top made for them and perhaps, some spacers between cabinets,if needed.

How did my mother-in-law function in that kitchen? When I inherited this house, it had no cabinets in the kitchen. She must have walked back and forth from the pantry. I am sorry that I didn't remember to take some "before" pictures. It was awful...institution pea green and sickly yellow asbestos floor, inadequate wiring, outdated refrigerator and stove. The only thing I loved was the cast iron enamel sink with its two drainboards. The commitment to the sink meant that I needed to keep the metal cabinet that contained it, hence the commitment to metal cabinets. It turned out to be a good decision.

I've met some very competent tradesmen: asbestos abatement people, plumber, electrician, the guys at the auto body shop, the floor man, the tile crew. Couldn't do it without these guys.


Saturday, March 07, 2009

Imagine turquoise water, blue skies with wispy clouds, sunshine that goes right to the bone and warms you, relaxes you. Now add the sound of the waves as they break on the beach. Breath in unpolluted air. Ah! Warm sand underfoot. Clear water awaits swimming. I had all this, almost all to myself. The beach was practically deserted. I could swim anywhere I wanted. At the rise of the sand dune, sits a bar with no walls. It is open to the air. Breezes blow through. A roof shades customers from the sun. I sit with a rum drink in hand and listen to the sound of the waves. Pure bliss....and a good lunch, too.
At Sprat Hall, my hostess and her daughter greeted us with a surprise dinner. How many hostesses would do that? It was a completely unexpected pleasure. Greeting us as We drove up, was a pack of dogs....all good burglar alarms, but all friendly. Horses, chickens and roosters, guinea hens, banana quits....lots of birds and animals made just sitting on the veranda interesting. One old dog adopted us for the week. Yet a gentlemen, He would never come into our cottage unless invited. One day, a peacock sat on the roof of our car. Everyday, a mongoose crossed the road. (Why does a mongoose cross the road? Why, to get to the other side, of course.)
There is no sleeping in at Sprat Hall. The roosters are fighting each other for the attention of the hens. Little chicks follow mama chicken around, so some rooster was successful. This is heaven for animals. They are free to roam as they please. Dinner is served to all. Each animal is free to behave in a normal manner. Dogs congregate in one area, or they spread out and patrol the whole plantation. Every morning, the roosters told us when it was time to get up. Judy has horses. At one time, she lead tourists on a horse riding experience, but no longer. The dozen or so horses are all pets. I saw one horse walk up to Judy and lay his head on her shoulder...pure love between them.
Joyce's beloved husband, Jim has died. She runs the entire place by herself and with the help of her daughter, Judy. Joyce could not have been a more devoted wife to Jim...who deserved the loving care he got from Joyce. There is a whole chapter about Jim that I could write. He was a blimp pilot during world war 2. He was a botanist. The place is planted with trees and flowers, fruit trees, date palms, coconut palms...all good things to eat. We ate oranges and tropical fruit that grew on the plantation. Walk outside and pick breakfast. Lovely.
The plantation at one time had slaves that worked the sugar trade. There is a sugar mill on Sprat Hall plantation. Joyce renovated it for a wedding. It is now a restful place to sit in , read a book, or gaze out at the view. Jim is buried just before the sugar mill. How I wish I could ask him to tell me stories about his adventures. Jim's brother, Bob, was my across the street neighbor. Bob died several years ago. The two of them must have been a lot of trouble growing up for their parents. They had the Irish devil in them...spirit!
After breakfast, We took a ride to explore the island. We saw the mongoose in the tropical rain forest. We saw one a day . It wasn't the same one. If it was, He sure got around a lot.
Lunch on the road and then home again. Afternoons were spent reading. We sat on the veranda and read paperbacks. Not a word was spoken. We did not even look at each other...just read. A casual observer would think this was very queer, but it isn't so...when two people are readers. Books belong in the luggage when one is on vacation. A vacation is a time to read.
Sometimes We ate in. Sometimes, We went out to eat. Back home early and to bed. I slept soundly, did not wake up once.
The rooster told us when to wake up. The week went quickly. How disappointing to have to leave paradise.
There were mini adventures in the Miami airport and in the Porto Rico airport. It seems all We did was to keep going through security. At last, We arrive home in Hartford. How disappointing to learn that winter hasn't dissipated while We were gone. It is dark and cold...and about a 45 minute ride to return to Milford...and then to bed.