Slug IPA

A wonderful spring vacation last year, in May, the prime spring gardening month, led to an extremely unusual June in the garden. My strawberry patch had produced well the previous two summers. My husband had built a wire fence arch over the top which we covered with bird netting. The berries grew red, juicy and plump. Yet two weeks away from home last spring had put me seriously behind.

One cool evening in early June, I strolled out to wander through the lush garden. I leaned over to peer closely at the berries, adjusting my glasses a bit.

A slug!

I picked him off, throwing him in the grass and twisting him into the ground with the toe of my garden shoe. I turned over a few strawberry leaves to see if there were more there. There always are!

Yes! Lots more.

I picked and smushed and picked and smashed. Once I grew weary of this routine, I retreated to the house, found a small jar lid and pulled an IPA beer out of the fridge. Back in the garden, I sunk the jar lid into the ground just far enough for the soil level to lead the vermin straight into the lethal beer. I poured the rich smelling IPA into the lid, then resumed my slug hunt.

Two minutes later I looked up from my search under a particularly large strawberry plant and spotted slugs everywhere, headed straight for the beer “barrel”. Who said slugs are slow? Not me! They were all making tracks straight for the IPA, more coming out of the shadows all the time. My stomach sank. This was a true infestation.

I gave up and went inside. I thought I would empty the beer barrel in the morning and start again.

Early the next morning, I tiptoed quietly out to the strawberry bed. The beer barrel was overflowing with dead, slimy slug bodies. I gave a deep sigh as I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had not made a dent in the slug population.

That evening, I refilled the beer barrel and left the wire fence off of the strawberries. I just knew the birds would come and eat any slugs that couldn’t fit in the beer barrel. Smugly, I went off to bed, sleeping well at the thought of my genius.

The next morning, I rose early and dashed out, expecting to see a clean strawberry bed. The beer barrel was tipped out of the ground and thrown a foot away, half of the strawberry plants had been thrashed, and sliding along through this devastation were countless more slugs.

The birds had drunk the IPA, eaten what strawberries the slugs had missed, and apparently waved a hearty good-bye to the slugs as they flew off, well satisfied with the slug IPA I had served up for them.

Invisible Forces

The evil king of Aram was out to kill the king of Israel and plunder the countryside. 2 Kings 6 Time and again he plotted where and when to attack the Israelites. Yet the king of Israel was warned each and every time and made well his escape. When the evil king was notified that Elisha the prophet was the source of the military leaks, the king sent horses and chariots along with a strong army force to get rid of the man of God.

The Arameans surrounded the city where Elisha and his servant were staying. In the early morning, Elisha’s servant stepped outside to begin preparations for the day – there was the enemy army! They were all around!

The servant ran back inside and shouted at his master, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?”

Elisha was not concerned. “Don’t worry about it,” he told his servant. We have a bigger army than they do. As a puzzled servant stood there with a muddled look on his face, Elisha prayed. “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.”

The servant did not know what was out there. Even the enemy army did not know what was out there. Yet God had provided all that was needed – more than what was needed. They just couldn’t see it.

For we live by faith, not by sight.   2 Corinthians 5:7

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  2 Kings 6

Chris Tomlin wrote a wonderful song about this “God of angel armies.”

The chorus goes like this:

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind

The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

Listen to the entire song here:

Angels are real. Angel armies are real. But most importantly, God is real. Pray and ask Him to open your eyes.

The Delicious Honeyberry

This little-known berry bush is beginning to make itself known here in the States. I found this Canadian native peeking out from the pages of garden catalogs for a number of years, but I was too hesitant to try something brand new. Then, three years ago, I ordered two blueberry bushes. By mistake, the garden company sent me one blueberry bush and one honeyberry, so in the ground it went. Last year it produced four scrumptious berries that I savored! This year it is loaded with blossoms!

A three-year old honeyberry bush tucked into an east facing corner of my garden.

In order to produce well it needs to be pollinated by another variety of honeyberry, so I planted one last year. The one pictured is my three-year-old. Last week we had sustained winds up to 50 m.p.h. and these two bushes did just fine. They are set in a sheltered corner of the house – just in case. The day after the winds, an artic blast flew down out of Canada. Our night temperatures were in the low 20’s. Then yesterday I took a look and this silly honeyberry bush is bursting with blossoms!

That’s my kind of berry!

Blossoms like this cover my three-year old honeyberry bush.

It is cold hardy to -55 F and the blossoms can withstand 20 F. They have a higher level of antioxidants than blueberries and can be eaten fresh or made into jam or used in any blueberry recipe. It is also disease and pest resistant as well.

If you have a corner of your yard or garden you need to fill, take a serious look at this crazy berry!

Stark Brothers photo of a honeyberry bush full of fruit. I will be ever grateful for their mistake.

If you have any honeyberries on your property, please tell us how it’s doing and what you think of it. What other suggestions do you have for fruit or flowers this year?

Daffodils

My Garden – April 30, 2019

This morning I woke to find my dainty, miniature daffodils succumbing to a spring snow. William Wordsworth’s famous poem ‘Daffodils’ came to mind.

My rhyme and flow are no match for any poet, especially Wordsworth, but I had fun with it. Here is my version of ‘Daffodils’.

I wandered sad beneath the clouds

   That sits so low o’er river and peak,

When all at once I saw a sight,

   A host, of frozen daffodils;

Beside the walk, beneath the trees,

Bending and brittle in the snow filled breeze.

Falling low as the flakes that tumble

   And veil all the land,

They yield lower ever still

   Never to rise once more:

Listen close to hear their cries,

   Bowing their heads in icy demise.

Now for those of you who haven’t read the real thing, here is a quick link. It is one of my favorite poems.

https://allpoetry.com/Daffodils

The Caribbean – Part 4

My husband and I jumped in the taxi at the Red Hook Ferry terminal. We were headed for the rental car company that had confirmed a car for us for the next few days.

Ten days earlier, when we had arrived in St. Thomas, Budget Rental car at the airport had confirmed a car for us, but they had not saved us one. That is not the way it is done in the States, but I do understand. St. Thomas is such a small island and there are an overwhelming number of tourists. The rental car companies have to do the best they can. There simply is not enough physical space on the island to hold all the rental cars that are needed. If they hold a car for someone, then if that person does not show up, they lose a significant amount of money. I understand the system, I simply wish they had told me that when I made the reservation. To get off the airplane, tired and hungry from the long trip, expecting to have a car, and not have one, is a bit disconcerting. Yet, in the end, it saved us a lot of money to do taxis for the first week we were there. Also, it gave us time to get used to the roads and the flow of traffic. In the end I was very happy.

So now, here we were walking into the Dependable Car Rental Agency on St. Thomas recommended by our bnb. Would they have a car for us? Yes! They did! They were very kind and had an extremely comfortable and clean SUV waiting for us. We were off!

The Fort

The bnb (Casa Grand View on Airbnb – check it out!) that we had booked for our last few days was up on top of the mountain with a fantastic view out over Megan’s Bay, out to Tortola, and beyond. But, to get there we had to follow some very interesting directions. Drive past the Fort, take a left at the light, follow the road up the hill (there was a left turn not mentioned but we figured it out). Follow the winding road till you come to an arch and a burnt-orange wall. Hmm, several arches, but no orange wall. Finally, after a few more zigs and zags, there appears before us a huge burnt-orange wall on our left, and lo and behold an arched doorway just before it. There we take a left. A few more zigs and zags, then a stop sign that is very well hidden. Oops. Didn’t make a stop as the road turns very quickly up to the right around a sharp corner. Next came Sib’s restaurant. (Great place to eat.) Take a right. Watch for the lime-green school and the Catholic church. There we take a left. Looking for a grey house with green shutters. A mile or so down the road and we are “home”. Great directions.

Megan’s Bay

The view is fantastic! We stand on the deck and just stare. God’s creation is beyond belief!

Once we have settled in, we drive down to the Fruit Bowl grocery store. We hear it is a bit on the expensive side but they have lots of fruit and a fantastic salad bar. We picked up some hot food and a few salad choices for our evening meal, much cheaper than going out to eat again and the food was delicious. We returned the next day because we loved it so much.

One day we drove down to Hull Bay. It was quiet (no cruise ship people) and pretty, but not much of a swimming beach. We sat and watched the surfers for awhile and ate at the restaurant. Great food!

Another day we drove down to Megan’s Bay. Absolutely gorgeous!! We went early and staked out some shade under a palm tree. Follow the beach down to the left and it won’t be so crowded. We had great fun watching the pelican’s diving for fish right in front of us. On the way back up the hill from there, we stopped at a restaurant called Brooks Restaurant and Bar. The food was incredibly delicious and the portions were gigantic! You have to go there.

We visited the Mountain Top view spot. The view was great, but not any different than our bnb. The gift shop was lots of fun. There was a wonderful pirate on the wall which I wanted to buy, but the lady just laughed at me and said he was not for sale.

One other beach we visited was at Secret Harbor. Most of the beach is for the resort, but go down to the end on the right and you can rent lounges and umbrellas. We got there early so the parking was easy and the umbrella available. Before long, the cruise ship people came and they were out of luck. The snorkeling was good, and the best part was the restaurant had a beach waitress so we didn’t even have to move from our chairs to get drinks and food. Loved it!

And so our Caribbean Trip came to an end. As one sign said, we had “Sandy toes and salty kisses.” The Caribbean is a fantastic place to visit – but we are always glad when we reach home.

There’s no place like home!

The Caribbean – Part 3

St. John – Red Hook Ferry

Riding the ferry to St. John, we saw numerous nearby islands, floating on the Caribbean Sea. It was a quick 20-minute ride. As we departed the ferry terminal in St. John, we were quickly surrounded by taxi drivers. We dove through the group and swam out the other side. Our ride was waiting for us. The lady who hosted our bed and breakfast met us in the cute little park opposite the ferry terminal. Since we had no rental car, we decided to try the taxis for a day or two. Our hostess said her house was about a mile and a half from Cruz Bay.

“That’s not very far.” I told my husband. “Let’s just walk to Cruz Bay in the morning and get a taxi from there to the beach.” Our hostess smiled and said, “Well, it is a difficult walk,” and she gave us phone numbers for several taxis. She drove us around Cruz Bay in a quick tour and then headed up the hill, then around some crazy corners, then down a hill, then up a very steep hill, then down some more hills, more crazy corners, then up, and up again, then waaaay up. That last hill was incredible—I never thought any vehicle could make it up that hill!

My husband looked at me and said, “I am not walking to Cruz Bay!” We climbed out of the car, grabbed our bags and headed into the house. It was a beautiful view straight through her living room, out the sliding glass doors, and out over the Caribbean Sea. Tropical greens and blues spread out before us as far as the eye could see. Our room was upstairs with its own balcony looking out over Rendezvous Bay across the sea and even out to St. Croix, over 40 miles away! We simply stood in awe. The room was beautiful, extremely clean and private. Check her out on Airbnb. It’s called Hawk’s Rest, Cruz Bay, St. John USVI. She went out of her way to make sure we had everything we needed.

The view from our balcony at Hawk’s Rest.

The next morning, she gave us a ride into Cruz Bay where we bought some sandwiches and easily grabbed a taxi headed out to the beaches. The taxi was an open-air Safari taxi. It was fun riding along looking out over the bays and islands, not worrying about keeping my eyes on the road. As the wind was up, we chose to start on Maho Bay. The waves were up, but not too much. We dove right in and swam to our hearts content. We did try to snorkel, but the waves had stirred up the sand so there was no visibility. Instead we built sand castles, stretched out in the sun, ate our delicious sandwiches and swam to our hearts content.

When we were ready to head back to our room, we stepped out onto the road behind the beach and looked around like we were lost. What if no taxi ever comes again? Before we had all the sand brushed off our feet and our shoes back on, a taxi came to our rescue. The following day we spent some time shopping in Cruz Bay and had a delightful strawberry and banana smoothie! Cruz Bay is quaint and delightful during the day. In the evenings, everyone has music blasting and the bars are overflowing with people having a great time. When Friday came, I announced it was time to rent a Jeep tomorrow and drive ourselves. Our hostess mentioned that most car rental companies are closed on Saturday, so we headed down immediately and found a Jeep available at the first place we stopped.

I have driven on the left side of the road before so no problems there. But those hills! Sharp corners with extra steep switchbacks make blind driving very interesting. Yet no problems occurred. The speed limit is usually 20 mph and everyone is kind and willing to wait their turn. We spent a few more days swimming and snorkeling, investigating all the beaches in turn.

Our favorite place to eat turned out to be the Sun Dog Café at the Mongoose Junction. Their Shrimp Vera Cruz was excellent! My husband said the Stuffed French Toast was the best food he had ever eaten. The mango and cream cheese stuffing literally explode in your mouth!

Sun Dog Café

The Jeep had to stay on St. John so we turned it in and headed back to St. Thomas. Our final Airbnb recommended a car rental company so we put in a call. Yes, they had a car and yes, they gave us a confirmation number…

The Caribbean – Part 2

Margaritaville, the song, is a lot of fun. Margaritaville, the resort on St. Thomas, is even more fun.

My husband and I spent four nights at Margaritaville. That was just enough time to see everything nearby as well as to have some time to play at the beach.

We booked our room through Airbnb and it was much less expensive than other area hotels. The room was gorgeous and immaculately clean. We had a full-size refrigerator, microwave, and even a dishwasher. There was also a blender for those frozen concoctions and the king size bed was extremely comfortable. Our second story balcony looked out over the pool and beyond that out to the bay.

Margaritaville Poolside Bar

The pool-side bar was very comfortable and did a great job of serving food from the kitchen any time we wanted. There is also a hill-top infinity pool which has unbelievable views out across the bay. It has a sit-down/swim-up bar up there, but they don’t have access to the kitchen, so no food.

Live music in the restaurant was great fun in the evenings and the pavilion next door hosted lively music and dance shows.

Margaritaville sits in Water Bay and while it is possible to swim there, the seaweed continually washes up onto the beach. It’s not too bad, easy enough to step around and they do rake it all up every several days or so. For swimming, Coki beach is a quick walk up the road. It has soft sand and beautiful turquoise water. We did a little snorkeling, but that day there was not much to see. Coral World Ocean Park is on Coki Point as well. They have an aquarium with quite a variety of sea life. We had great fun watching them feed the fish and even train the sharks. The touch pool was lots of fun to play in and the huge sea turtles had their own pool. The little pond turtles were cute (lots of babies) but watch out for the many iguana lurking nearby trying to steal the turtles’ food. The tower in the bay is the perfect location from which to watch the wild sea life. It was fascinating. And when they brought the food out—the myriad of huge fish went crazy! The diver had to wear chain-mail gloves to prevent becoming part of the fishes’ lunch!

Lots of wild iguana hang out with the small turtles.

Their dive tours are popular, as well as snuba and their underwater trail. We also enjoyed watching the trained parrots. The sea lion show was said to be excellent, but we missed that one.

It was back to Coki Beach to swim on our last day, but it was a Sunday and several cruise ships had arrived on the island. It didn’t take long for the beach to be overrun with all those tourists covered in oil!

Amazing Coki Beach

The meals at the restaurant were delicious! We had fresh sea food dishes and the rice had the most incredible flavor. The ribs were also wonderful. Don’t miss them! Though the meals were fantastic, they did make quite a dent in the pocketbook. We walked down to the local market (10 minutes) and bought some milk and cereal for our breakfasts. They had items that we were familiar with, so we bought those, then we bought a few things that were completely new to us—just to try and see. One thing we bought was a plantain. I had heard that they are very similar to bananas. We bought one and tried to eat it with our cereal in the morning, but it was hard and crunchy, not a pleasant taste. I should have googled it! Apparently, you have to cook it. Later in our trip we greatly enjoyed some fried plantain.

The pool/bar had music going most of the day. They even had some games sprinkled throughout the week as well.

All in all, we had a great time and would definitely go back. Yet four nights was enough and we were excited to head on to St. John.