Five Star

When you hear the term unequally yoked, you usually think about marriage partners. In the Bible, it seemed to discourage a person from marrying someone who didn’t have the same beliefs because (in modern terms) there was bound to be some friction later on down the road. I saw a Tik Tok video shared on Instagram the other day that was titled “When you’re planning a trip with your cheap friends“. The poster said that was the reason why she only travelled with her husband and her parents. She said that she never liked group work in school either – which I understand ’cause there’s always someone who either doesn’t pull her weight or someone who thinks that “good enough” is – well, good enough. She also said that she was very particular when it came to her accomodations. So it’s clear that a group of friends who are planning a trip – and who aren’t like-minded might have a couple of issues too.

I’m reminded of a trip I took with a group of people which included my husband and my sister-in-law and her husband. Some were friends, some were acquaintances and some I had never met before, but I didn’t think it unreasonable to assume that we’d be suitable (and similarly-minded) travel partners. We decided to visit one of the Windward Islands and one of the persons who I didn’t know was put in charge of finding out the cost for the trip to include airfare and accomodation. The numbers she came back with were agreeable to all and we packed our Georgie bundles and got ready to travel on the next holiday weekend. The flight itself was fairly uneventful. I’d been to the island before, and remembered the nightly showers that resulted in the beautiful flora for which the island was famous. I can’t remember if the minivan that we all piled into was part of the package but I do recall that it was comfortable enough for me to have a good view of the sights on the way to our accomodations.

I knew something was a little “off” when we left the main road. There was a sign announcing the name of our destination, but all I could see stretching out for quite a few yards ahead of us was the dirt road on which we were travelling, bordered on either side by open fields that appeared to be used for grazing. There were no buildings in sight but several cows stopped eating to watch us pass by seemingly asking, “A wey a you a go?” After what seemed like an eternity, we finally pulled up to the place where we were staying. And the examination commenced. It was not a new building which in and of itself is not a crime, but we later realized that the gardens had provided ample distraction because here was a structure that couldn’t hide the fact that its better days were behind it.

We were shown to our rooms which were outliers to the main building that served as the reception area. Although we didn’t intend to live in our rooms (and we knew weren’t staying at Sandals), we were still anxious to see what they looked like. Later, the person who was charged with our travel arrangements admitted that she never saw any pictures of the place, but had left it up to the travel agent. Who we probably wouldn’t ever use again. Old is one thing. Clean is quite another. And our room wasn’t. We found a cockroach hanging out in the tub which may or may not have come in through one of the many torn window screens. To be fair, it probably wasn’t in any of the pictures that the travel agent might have seen. Given this first impression, some of us weren’t too keen on touching anything.

Some of my more industrious travelmates however, were busy looking for things to clean with (😢), while others were waving around their rubber slippers in glee like they’d just won the lottery because they intended to use them in the shower even after it was cleaned (πŸ˜ΆπŸ˜’). The room did have a sea view but we must have been on the Atlantic side, because the water was choppy, which didn’t matter really because the shoreline was hella rocky and (hello!) there was no beach. My husband reminded me that the cook had to be summoned from somewhere off property while someone (let’s call her a room attendant) rushed to put out some rusty wrought-iron chairs on the balcony – leading us to think they were a little surprised by the fact that we showed up.

The person who declared that this was way below her standards and that her husband (who wasn’t with us), would have a cow if he knew where she was staying had me singing the song entitled “I’m With Her”. And we watched with amazement as she got us out of the rooms, apologized to the owners, negotiated a return of most of our money, got us back into a taxi and checked in to a lovely, modern hotel close to town and within walking distance of a beach. I’m pleased to say that everything went uphill from there.

So choose those travel-mates wisely my friends…and watch the Tik Tok video I’ve linked below.

Bird Song

The state of the “gardens” on the galleries attached to my house have been in various states of pretty. Like the ocean, the relative health of the plant life residing there ebbs and flows, depending on the amount of water I can spare from my cistern, the frequency of my attempts at fertilization and how talkative I’m feeling that week.

Lately I’ve been on a roll, so right now I have to admit that not one more plant can fit on the verandah at the back of the house. Every so often however, birds attempt to make nests there – usually in one of the lighting fixtures that my husband has fashioned from two metal orchid baskets. This surprised me, because I thought that birds only made their nests in trees. I’ve since learned that not all of them are that particular.

Most of the time, we attempt to discourage their efforts before they get too far along, by removing the grass and leaves painstakingly brought to fashion a nest. It’s amazing to see the handiwork, as the thin blades of grass are weaved into a bowl-like structure to hold the eggs the female plans to lay. Once when we let them go all the way, we awoke one morning to the sound of the hatchlings asking for food. About two weeks ago a turtledove decided that she wanted to make a nest in one of my newer plant acquisitions that I had placed on a stand about 5 feet off the ground. We, or should I say I, attempted to discourage its formation – because – did I mention it was in one of my plants? However, ‘for hender’ I came off looking a little heartless I let the lady sit down on one side of my variegated “money plant” and lay her eggs.

Days passed and she just sat there. I would pass by the area – because I still have my other plants to attend to – and she would side eye me. If I happened to startle her, she would fly off (probably a distraction technique), and come back later to sit down some more. I wasn’t looking to have the plant die on me, so I would try to surreptitiously pour some water on the side of the plant that she wasn’t occupying. Well! The conduct that ensued because I’d clearly gotten a little too close. In case you didn’t know – bird wings hit hard. Anyway, more days pass and I don’t see or hear anything. I didn’t remember this hatching thing taking so long – I was expecting to hear some chirping noises any day now. Not wanting to disturb the madam (even though I was ‘in mi own yard’), I would walk quietly, or peep silently and would find myself looking into a set of eyes so big it seemed appropriate that we call her Iris. Funny thing is, I found out that both the male and the female take turns in the nest, so I never really knew which one was side-eyeing me.

Rather anticlimactically, the hatchlings appeared without so much as a peep. And days later, I have yet to hear a chirp, a coo or a caw from the mouths of the little ones. My husband tells me that because the nest is fairly close to the ground, the hatchlings know not to make any noise, and I was completely amazed at this fun fact. Talk about being read the riot act early! If true, then this avian mother’s skills are far superior to mine because I’m reminded of a time when my eldest was still young, but old enough to talk. Our former home which was off the main road but still well travelled, was a favourite for proselytizers who always seemed to choose the most inconvenient times to visit. (I know, I know, there’s never a bad time to receive those doing the Lord’s good work). Many times I would be able to avoid the conversations by pretending that I wasn’t home even with my windows wide open, by not responding to the “inside” call coming from the persons standing outside. Except that one morning when the enquiry came and I was at home with my son. He was a child who could play quite well by himself, but as most children do, would call out now and again. I rushed to him in order to prevent such an occurrence and tried to make a game out of keeping quiet, but while he was able to use his inside voice to speak, he hadn’t quite mastered his inside laugh.

So I had to step outside to receive the pamphlet that told me that Jesus Christ was knocking at the door to my heart and questioned whether I was ready to let Him come on in.

Ride Or Die

The odds of dying in a car crash are far greater than those of dying in a plane crash we’re told. 1 in 114 as opposed to 1 in 9,821. Flying doesn’t hold the charm that it used to – even discounting the strip search that was sometimes required. It’s now even harder to convince me that hurtling through the air in a sardine can thousands of feet in the air is safer than another can that I’m in control of with four wheels that touch the ground. How many plane crashes have I been in though?  Thankfully none. How many fender benders have I been in? Well…..

My sister reminded me recently of a game we used to play when we were children, called “Guess The Car”. We would attempt to guess the colour of the car coming down the road facing our house before it was close enough for us to decipher it, or sometimes we would hazard a guess at the type of car it was. Back then there were fewer cars on the road and a limited number of makes and models, so it was a little easier to make a best guess. Years later, I was actually able to guess the make of the car before I saw it based on the sound of the engine, but it’s a skill which has long since left me – save for the obvious timbre of the Mustang and the odd Subaru and BMW. However, for over twenty years I spent my days concerned with the maintenance and upkeep of machines like these.

Like most teenagers I couldn’t wait to get behind a wheel. My lessons began with my mother but continued with someone else owing to her lack of patience – or, having been through it before with my sister, maybe once was enough. While I initially learned on a car with an automatic transmission, I didn’t think that I could really call myself a driver unless I could master the “stick shift”. So later on, I bucked my way to being proficient at balancing brake, clutch and gas. Like a few others I know, I was a regular on the road before I even got my driver’s license, so when I was actually driving up Market Street with the “Driver on Test” sign affixed to the license plate and the police officer sitting beside me, I could have sworn I heard someone exclaim, “Wait, she na ha’ she license yet?” Which was a fair question, given that I’d been busy dropping my classmates home from State College months before the road test.

At last count, I’ve been the permanent owner/driver of seven vehicles and I’ve had fender benders in at least five of them. After giving my first car a good wash one Saturday afternoon, I drove it to church on Sunday and on my way home, collided with a vehicle I neglected to notice as I was making my way out of an intersection. It was a “sports” model whose headlights flipped up when you started the engine, so for weeks I drove the poor thing around with one eye half closed since the collision prevented it from opening all the way. There was a time when I started to think that maybe I should cease the weekend wash-down altogether, because another brush saw me reversing from a “feathered” parking space into the side of a passing vehicle as I was leaving church. One congregant who didn’t take the time to see who I was, said to the offended party – also a congregant – that I should probably be sued. No thanks to him (who I’ve managed to remain civil to despite his comment because… ‘heaven‘), we came to an amicable “fix-back” agreement.

One more accident saw me misjudge the speed of an approaching vehicle causing me to turn when I should have stayed put, and another had me minding my own business as a passenger only to have someone plough into my side when he really should have stopped. The aftermath of that one left me with whiplash and some serious seatbelt burns which stayed with me for weeks. So you’d think that with so many brushes I would be a little wary of driving – or at least confine myself to the back seat. There may have been some initial trepidation but I pushed past it. Years had elapsed since the last episode, and then one day while travelling down a steep hill my husband looks over at me and says, “I don’t have any brakes”. Since one doesn’t joke about these things, I didn’t even need to look at him to know that he was serious. I couldn’t even begin to tell him what to do. Fast approaching was a concrete wall bounding a property, so a split second decision was necessary. I’d like to say my life flashed before my eyes – but there wasn’t enough time for that. He decided to avoid totalling the car by taking a sharp turn which was bound to end it all. And end it did – in a driveway where we came to rest against the bumpers of the two cars belonging to the inhabitants of the house we were going to visit…so we came to an amicable “fix-back” agreement.

So if you don’t take me up on that offer of a ride – based purely on the statistics quoted above of course – trust me, I’ll completely understand.