Ryan and I have a small balcony off the back of our third-floor apartment. Since the view of the garage isn’t that great, I decided to beautify the balcony with flower boxes. Naturally, I want to plant blossoms that attract bees and butterflies, but which will also last all summer. Native plants too, if I can swing it. And I’ll consider it a bonus if the flowers are fragrant as well!
One of my favourite flowers is the nasturtium, which I think I first read about as a kid in a Milly Molly Mandy book. I wanted the cascading variety that will spill over the window box. A few weeks ago, I started nasturtiums from seeds in my little indoor greenhouse, and over the May long weekend I finally had time to plant them outside (and hopefully there is no more risk of frost). Continue reading →
While in Trinidad visiting Ryan’s family, many relatives told us stories from the past and more recent present. Here are some interesting notes I made while Ryan and I met with his family and friends:
One uncle is an artist, and one day he was setting up his studio to paint. He wanted to sit down on his studio chair and almost sat on an iguana!
Almost everyone we visited appeared to be renovating their houses, putting in new bathrooms, kitchens, wiring, and gardens – and it seems like everyone is doing it all themselves! We didn’t visit any houses that had air conditioning, but they had lots of open windows and fans, and holey bricks laid into the walls to help with airflow. As long as you didn’t move too much, this was perfectly comfortable!
Another uncle told us that when he was a kid, he and his friends used coconut palm fronds, stripped of their pokey leaves, as cricket bats.
Ryan’s dad said that growing up in Trinidad, the family had a big mango tree in their yard. They had so many mangoes that they used to play football with them!
During World War II, Grandma said that she was rationed just 1 lb of rice for her family. Because she was friendly with the shopkeepers, she was able to get 10 lbs of rice for her kids. She eventually had 10 kids, and I met most of them while staying with her.
And the beginnings of a Trini dictionary:
fig = banana
paw paw = papaya
okro/ochroes = okra
channa = chickpeas
babash = moonshine
shandy = a deliciously sweet beer and juice drink; about 1.5% alcohol
Over the Mother’s Day weekend, Ryan and I flew down to Trinidad to visit his grandmother. I had never been before, and the last time Ryan had visited was five or so years previous, so we were both excited to explore.
One day last winter, a Russian-speaking client at work brought me a plastic bucket and a fork. She opened the bucket and heaped some of the contents onto the fork and offered me a bite. I don’t speak Russian, and she barely speaks a word of English, but I recognized the contents of her bucket as sauerkraut. She often buys two or three heads of cabbage at our weekly market, so I asked if she had made this sauerkraut herself. She understood and responded, “Da.” Continue reading →
My parents and I moved on to Capitol Reef National Park, the last of the Big Five National Parks in Utah (after visiting Arches and Canyonlands National Parks on this trip, and Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks back in October 2014). We were on our return to Salt Lake City, so unfortunately we didn’t have much time to hike here.
Capitol Reef National Park is a long and skinny national park that follows the waterpocket fold. We drove through the northern end of the park along the paved highway 24.