Monday, December 31, 2007


To everybody out there, have a HAPPY NEW YEAR! Dream whatever you desire to dream, go wherever you wish and seek whatever you desire....because life is how YOU shape it.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Auld Lang Syne

As a child I always wondered what that meant....I'm still not sure but it's one of those traditions that have stuck. The talk in my office is always good and today has been no exception. We're a committed bunch of people, or maybe that should read a bunch of people who should be committed, either way it works. I have two graphic designers working in the department, both are great guys. They keep me on my toes because they continually challenge me to keep thinking, inside/outside/upside etc, the box. The senior guy in particular pushes me all the time, I'm glad he does because that's what makes me tick.

What does any of this have to do with the title line you might wonder. All week long we've talked about our traditions, it makes me realise how much I miss some things and others not at all. Talking to these people in my department, some of whom I've known for a long time and others who've just come along I am struck by how much it can be like family in a way. Some of them you like more than others but basically you all have to get along so you find ways to make it work. Not everyone has the same traditions but we can still share.

As the old year fades and becomes new again I'm wondering what is coming. Whatever it is, I'm sure we'll all tackle it with our usual equanimity and style or something like that. The philosopher Basho said, " every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home".

Thursday, December 27, 2007

An era ends...

Benazir Bhutto was assasinated this morning. Whatever Ms Bhutto may have been, she was seemingly trying to change Pakistan for the better and became a martyr.

Ms Bhutto was brilliant academically and a role model for many women of my generation becoming at 35, the youngest person and first woman to head a Muslim majority state in modern times. Her life is chronicled widely on the Internet and will be replayed ad nauseum on CNN and other news services over the next week. It is useless to wonder what might have been or at the motivation for this act.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Every year about this time I go into a reflective mode, it's my time to look back and to decide on the things that worked and those that didn't. This year I'm choosing to do something a little differently. Instead of looking back, I'm looking forward. Whatever happened this year is past, gone. I'll try not to repeat the mistakes but time and experience has taught me that you do that sometimes anyway. Forget it and move on.

All those things that I keep putting off, well, that's not on. So, to my friends who take the time to read this, Merry Christmas and a happy, happy, blessed New Year. Let's get together. Adele, we'll be working on that book I keep talking about. Mark, give me the number for the personal trainer, bro- get planning, I'm coming to visit! And to everyone who I've cancelled plans, let's stop making plans and just do it.

Merry Christmas everybody.

It's Christmas..

My friend J, gave me a really wonderful gift this year. It didn't come in her usual inventive, beautiful wrapping unless you count the great outfit she was wearing when it was delivered. J and I have a little tradition, twice a year we get together for a celebratory lunch/dinner. We get together at other times just for so but on my birthday and pre- Christmas we have our little celebration.

Now J is a really happening girl, she's beautiful, she's intelligent, she has a great sense of humour and she's hugely talented. I think she's the bomb and she likes me too. Nice ay. Did I mention that she gives great presents. Anyway, we'd almost missed our date due to the crazed rush that hit us both at the end. Being the determined women that we are we managed to hook up and we sweet talked our way into Angelo's.

I won't tell you what we talked about other than to say we had an absolute blast! After a difficult time, J reminded me of who I am, and that's the best Christmas present. So to J, thank you for caring, thank you for sharing and most of all, thank you for being you! And yes, I started on the things that we talked about....

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gotta love the advertising!

Americans, I love em. They can come up with a name for every damn thing and a medication to fix it! Restless leg, SAD, Mad you name it. It's not your fault, it's some weirdness in your wiring or too much sugar or whatever. Terribly funny in a sick sort of way to those among us who have more legitimate ailments.

One of my closest friends has been HIV positive for ten years, every day healthy is a gift even if he's not always appreciative. In the face of that, my depression really isn't so bad. They make meds for that. Yes, it fries your brains eventually but then, your brains are already fried since you're bloody depressed anyway. Oh, for you well meaning types. Don't. Save it. You really don't know so contain yourself please. I cannot "snap out of it", you think I like this? You're one who needs the meds.

I read the paper because I have to, if I didn't, I wouldn't. The crap that people do to other people is astounding. I don't know if we're all lost our minds because we seem to be inured to it all. I blame CNN, all that news at the "top" and "bottom" of the hour business. We've lost any sensitivity or sense of balance. On an aside, when did the hour have a top and a bottom? But I digress, KC and the Sunshine band are playing and I'm grooving while finishing up my days labours...another whole day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And speaking of

Families, you sure can't pick 'em. At least the one you're born with, then there's the family you marry, at least you can divorce them if it doesn't work out. But what about if you can't stand HIM but you like THEM. Well you find ways around it has been my experience.

Which brings me to my former mother in law. Have you ever seen the movie Monster In Law? Jane Fonda has nothing on my former mother in law. Marge certainly had her moments and I'll tell you, we had our ups and downs which I prefer not to think about now that's it's over. I am forever greatful to her though and I've reached the point where I can again think fondly of her.

Marge was a woman of great style. My own mother, while well dressed was and even stylish was not exactly full of style. I got that from Marge, I also got my appreciation of art from her. Whatever else might have been, she never pooh-poohed my love for sculpture, paintings, books, words and fine food. That I learnt many things from her is undeniable and that I am better for the experience is also so. Marge had many frustrations of her own in life, she played second fiddle to a brother and then a husband sometimes at the expense of her own dreams and ambitions. I can relate!

Marge has been gone from my life for several years now, we lost touch inadvertently. I miss her sometimes, just because. But in hindsight, I'm thankful that I did have the experience of her, she helped to make me. It might seem that I've gotten all nostalgic in the last few weeks but I'm returning the favour if you will. The right person will know what I mean and everybody else, thanks for the indulgence.

Happy Birthday Brother

Sunday evening, the sun had already sunk below the horizon as I headed home singing along to Coldplay in the car. I was thinking of my little brother, it was his 35th birthday and he was spending it in transit to his new job.

Thirty-five years ago my parents in their infinite wisdom decided that I needed a sibling. They never asked me, if they had, I would have indicated a preference for another puppy, I already had a perfectly good brother. I think it was explained to me that N was not in fact my brother but my cousin, well, I don’t know about that. For three years, I’m three years older than him, the little bugger had followed me around every waking moment of the day and night. He was my confidante, my partner in crime, my shadow and my alter-ego. We fought desperately but you could not stick a pin between us. So I guess it goes without saying that he’s still my brother today.

To no avail however, in the ensuing nine months my dog disappeared, the pregnant woman could not be around him. N disappeared briefly in the conflict surrounding his parent’s divorce. Needless to say, the new kid was not greeted with cries of joy from this quarter. He was a pale squalling kid; I have pictures to prove it. I couldn’t stand him and wanted him returned at all cost, I got N back though not the dog but the world was okay. What was I to do with this loud kid that I was so much older and wiser than?

We spent many years fighting, me trying to get away from him, he, trying to be my friend. I think there was some jealousy involved. I will admit neither of us had it easy and there were times when it got a little hairy. But, I found out that I did in fact like my little brother, in fact, I grew quite attached to the little rascal though you would have to pull my nails out to get me to admit it.

I’ve spent a great deal of my life looking out for him and I will admit, he looks out for me. I say unequivocally, there are few things that I will war over, but if you hurt my brothers or my dog, I will hunt you down and do damage. I’ve always known that he would be a star, and he is. I’m proud that he admits to having me as a sister. As he starts on his new adventure, I wish him all the best. Bro, you turned out real good, you've made my life a lot richer and I'm glad that you're here. I have no more advice but I’m always here for you. Note however, I do have a back up plan, notice the large hound. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


This has been a tough week in a year full of tough weeks. My guilty pleasure has been to devour Nasty Bits, the semi-new book by Anthony Bourdain. As I've said before, I like Bourdain, in a way, he reminds me of what I could be. Years ago a friend bought me a book about writing. It was called, If you can talk, you can write. Bless her, she thought I would be further encouraged because we all know, if talking were an Olympic sport, I'd be right up there with the gold medallists. Bourdain has one of the best scripts I've ever heard and his producer swears that's really him talking with a text that he writes. If that's so, this guy can really TALK.

A lot of my day is spent reading tedious documents, written in governmentese, a totally separate language from anything you will ever experience. An Australian friend introduced me to Terry Pratchett's books about eight years ago. His fantasy Discworld with it's clever caricature of government in a flat world is hilarious. When I have a crap day, Pratchett makes me laugh at myself and the officiousness of the world that I inhabit. I was crushed this week to see that he's been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers. Why is it always the brilliant ones! I hope for his sake and mine and the millions of other readers worldwide that the doctors are wrong. Or that if they are right, that the drugs can stave off the inevitable fading for as long as possible. Terry, we love you.

So to the authors to numerous to mention, who save my sanity after those long, hard days, thank you!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Thank God it's them instead of you...

Driving to work the other morning the radio DJ played Band Aid’s “Do They Know it’s Christmas”. It was a moment that conjured up memories that included my best friend V, dancing to George Michael and despite my best efforts to pretend otherwise, a not so worldly teen existence.

That song is rife with references to my mis-spent youth, I can identify each one of the voices, a testament to how much time I spent listening to the radio and watching bootleg MTV. It also reminded me of the do-gooder passion I once had, to save the world, to preserve our heritage, to, well, to do a lot of things. What happened?

In the twenty-four years since that song, some things have changed, but not so much that we don’t need to be reminded that there is still world hunger. That people are still dying in Africa and elsewhere for the stupidest of reasons in “our world of plenty”.

I’m a West Indian, Christmas for us is a time of family, food and fun. We do with all our hearts. This year as I indulged in my ritual closet clean for my friend’s charity haul I realised that I will not be indulging in Christmas, it has become an expensive luxury at a time when I have much else to do.

Will I miss the pastilles, ham, fancy biscuits, and all those other things that we MUST have for it to be Christmas? No, I won’t, I will miss seeing my little brother who is working and will not be home. I'll drink to the friends I lost or said good-bye to, thank goodness I had Granny for another year. The hound and I will continue our tradition of the beach on Christmas Day, I get to watch waves pound the beach be happy, heh gets to displace a heck of a lot of sand! And yes, there will be singing along to Band Aid and hats off to Bob Geldof for having the courage of his conviction to do something, to try to change the world.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I cook therefore I am

You may not believe it but I am gainfully employed, I get up and go to an office every day, sometimes weekends too. I can be a workaholic. I used to be one of those awful people who went around telling everyone with not so secret relish how little time I had. My work was too important, too many things to do, look here's my organiser, my laptop, my spiffy phone!

Tripe, all tripe. One day the organiser died, my life did not end though I thought it might, then the laptop crashed and required huge transfusions of cash and time to be repaired. All was not lost, I had the numbers stored in the phone, sure I hadn't backed up everything else but I would soldier on. Until the night Zeus ate the phone. You heard me, the damn dog chewed the phone to bits as recreation as I lay in bed, clutching my hot pack and wallowing through a sea of painkillers to mitigate the pain caused by a car accident. Can I tell you the loss of the phone was worse than the car being in the shop for three weeks! I was truly traumatised.

I gave in a bawled at that point. All of this had happened in the space of three weeks! I was so incoherent that the man got frightened and went out and bought me a new phone just to get me to stop blubbering. Guilt may also have something to do with it but I've let all that go....

Now how does any of this relate to cooking you might wonder? Over the years I've evolved several survival mechanisms, one of them is cooking to keep me grounded. And I can cook, well, or so I'm told. I've never had a "career path", I've ALWAYS worked and found myself in the right place somehow. One of the things that make me laugh is how much stock some people put into titles and labels. Once, when I was being truculent and refusing to play the label game someone asked me what I did as though the answer would illuminate the world. My reply, I cook, therefore I am. Figure it out for yourself.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanks for the lovies

He arrived in a cardboard box as the rain pelted down, Pat handed him to me over the fence as I made a mad dash for the car. Bunged under the dash, he didn't make any noise at first, by the time the first whimper came I was navigating the twisty roads in pouring rain and couldn't extracate him without ending up off the steep drop. Stay in the box he would until Woodbrook.

I left him in the box as I ran into the pet shop to pick up puppy chow. Poor thing was truly traumatised, he'd been yanked away from his mummy, litter mates and kennel, thrown into a box and passed to a strange woman who'd only seen him once before. And yet, he forgave me all of that. I did take him out when I got back into the car, he sat on my lap in front of the steering wheel and looked up at me with his doggie face all trusting.

Don't get used to it he was warned, you're just the substitute. I'd lost my real friend a month before and I was fragile, no dog could replace Gator. Five years later our misadventures are still on. We'd forgotten to tell Zeus that he wasn't human and in return he deigns to share the house. The little fuzzy pup grew into a large beastie who will affectionately hit you with his head a few hundred times to get you out of bed at the crack of dawn, especially on a Sunday morning. Charming, especially when he wants to go walking, in the rain, before leaping back on to the bed, wet. Did I mention he guards? Against cats, other dogs, large tractors, motorcycles, the neighbour's kid are favorite targets. He will bark until they are safely out of his comfort zone. The neighbours three streets down know him, he wakes them up too. He will nag you to throw his ball at him, and is as happy on the three thousandth time as the first.

As maddening as he can be however, he never complains when I work late as I do most days. He never needs me to listen to how sucky his day was but will listen to me rant about mine. He never tells me I look fat in that dress, he loves my cooking (dry dog food!) and best of all, he's always happy to see me when I get home and will let me rub his tummy until he almost pukes in happiness. Need I say more.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Anthony Bourdain fan club

If you've never heard of Anthony Bourdain you must have been living on a dessert island somewhere for the past few years. He's a chef, he made cheffing look sexy with his wry musings on the culinary underbelly. He is a remarkably unsentimental, unabashed son of a bitch who pulls no punches. I LOVE this guy!

He's not one of your "pretty" chefs. But he gets around and his programmes are usually done in his own voice or so say his producers. Guess he's not too affected by the writer's strike! Bourdain has written several books about his life and a few novels.Despite his seeming SOBness he's an entertaining read and you find that you are hooked, he seems not to care whether you like him or not.

Now you know having said this there is no way in hell that he would be found on the Food Network, America's food version of PBS, sanitised and prettified to within an inch of life. Ever notice how few black people there are, I guess we neither appreciate food nor do we cook. You tend to find people with melanin on Bobby Flay's Throwdown, and more power to him. Now I don't have so much of a problem with that, I like good food and I don't care much where or who it comes from.

BUT, I do have a problem with perky, annoying women in skimpy blouses, fake nails and hair flying all over the place purporting to be "chefs". My friend Debbie is a chef, an award winning one. I have NEVER seen her cook in anything but her whites, no clevage showing. Her longish hair is usually restrained oh yeah, and her nails are carefully trimmed. So don't get upset when Tony Bourdain takes stabs at you Rachel. He's not pretty but at least he's not telling you how fabulous and wonderful everything is every five minutes...and he looks like he knows what he's doing.


I might have previously mentioned that I spend a fair amount of time, not while on the job boss, reading Other People's Blogs. Some of them are very entertaining, some are educational and some are downright bizarre but I have few moments to enjoy light relief so I make the most of them.

I've taken to reading Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, the exploits of a gal living on a ranch making babies with her husband. Her name is Ree, she's quite funny and she cooks too. Of course her "reality" is a little initimidating for us bloggers, she's married to "Marlboro Man", she's got four kids and she has a number of blogs which she writes. Hell, she must be Superwoman!

I can barely get my underexercised ass out of bed in the morning to walk the hound far less to be posting blogs at FOUR A.M. When does she sleep?d When did she find the time to make those babies? I bow in the face of her superior time management.

And then, the thought occured, it's the Internet, who's to say she does not edit her reality? And more power to her if she did because she has a lot of fans including me. So Ree, whether you do or whether you don't, I hope you keep writing, at least I too can avoid reality TV and pretend that I too can have it all like you.

“Reality” TV sucks

Why anybody would get hooked on so-called "reality" TV is beyond me. Frankly, there's enough reality going on around me, why on earth would I want to go home and watch that crap? Okay, sheepishly I admit to a former "Amazing Race" addiction that lasted through the first two and a half seasons. Then the scripted tantrums etc got on my nerves and I changed the channel. CSI is about the limit of my endurance, yes I know it's fiction, my point exactly!

I worked in TV, I understand how programmes are done, I made enough of them, it’s hard to take reality TV at all seriously. We all know that they’ve already picked the winner, the trick is how to engage the audience with seeming “realness” to make us watch every single bloody week. There are lots of borrowed soap opera techniques; the dramatic music, the significant pauses from the hosts, the teary farewell speeches. In the studio, it’s even worse; they’re the lights and studio audience or canned tracks to add emphasis. Face facts friends, reality TV shows are soap operas in disguise. It is about entertainment for small minds and someone making money, that’s all.

Despite myself I watched “The Next Iron Chef” on Food Network. How did they pick the first four Iron Chefs one wonders? Their perkiness, ability to look serious while cooking…it must be hard to keep a straight face sometimes really. These guys and gal used to be serious chefs, cooking in real restaurants, but that’s another rant. Anyway, Food Network stages this whole “battle” complete with “The Chairman” ranting…Mark Dacascos, failed martial arts “star” should really learn how to act, at times he appears to be on some kind of drug. Weird tests, overbearing, pretentious judges, the drama queen ingredients were all there. Even knowing that there probably was a winner, you kept hoping for something different. It came down to "rough and ready American" vs " good old Southern Charm Boy".

But, hold on, there is Dancing with the Stars. Even I admit this is purely entertaining just listening to the judges’, the hosts are better on mute I'm afraid! The dancing however, well, let's say that all are not created equal and leave it at that. The pros must spend a lot of time eye rolling. The sad part is that even if you are a great dancer you're basically screwed if someone can out ham you since half your score comes from the average viewer. They must all be ballroom dance experts, their choices are sometimes hard to understand.

I wouldn't care, it is only tv after all, but last night Marie Osmond made it into the finals. I remember her from Donnie and Marie, she was only passing entertaining then. What relentless sentimentality was at play here? Oh, was it "poor her", something has happened to her every week soap opera like. She's fainted, her father died, her son went to re-hab, wow, the writers over at the Young and Restless must be in awe! She should have gone home weeks ago and now she’s in the final? No, I'm not being ageist, nothing wrong with her ACTING skills but this is DANCING with the Stars! Poor Cheetah Girl Sabrina, now that would have been a dance off, her Mel and Helio.

To review, my reality is that I will no longer be watching either Dancing with the Stars or Iron Chef America. Predictably the rough and ready American "Chef" won despite that the other chef had much better technique,was certainly more polished and can we dare say, better looking. These programmes represent some of the worst traits of reality TV, talent and superior skills being traded out to feed some network execs idea of “reality”, though he may be right, the viewers seem to keep watching. By the way, Mike Symon, you may have won but John Besh is still the best.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

And finally...

Twas the night before elections, outside not a creature was stirring or so it would seem. The poll cards had been delivered, the jingles had rocked the windows for hopefully the last time at 6:00 pm and we all breathed a sigh of relief. People scurried indoors early tonight, almost as though everyone wanted to be tucked away in their homes, huddled around the proverbial campfire or something.

The microwave dinged, my sweetbread is warm, the cup of tea steaming gently as I blog. No, I'm not eating offal, sweetbread is a heavy, coconut based loaf that every West Indian knows and turns to when in need of comfort food. You can hear the frogs singing their own ode to rain, the air is heavy with it and the island should sleep well tonight. The past few days have been hard on the nerves. By this time tomorrow it will all be over bar the counting and shouting when results are announced. With any luck we will escape the tribulations that have plagued out last few elections. People get out there and do your civic duty or contain your whining when you get something you don't like!

Yes, I will be trekking to the polls myself. After all is said and done, despite how little credence I place in the process sometimes, it is still the only process that we have so i'll be staining my finger. See you there.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Give us a break!

I promised myself that I would not make any comments on the political campaigning taking place here but being subjected to the 3 Canal song, “Good Morning” every bloody morning and night has caused me to revisit that promise. First off, I like 3 Canal; I always have and it has little to do with the “curb appeal” of Wendell Manwarren, their vibes just plain nice. “Blue” still conjures up immediate images of an extremely cold Carib being consumed at four o’clock Jouvay morning next to the weird Italian marble sculpture up by Queen’s Hall while being slathered in blue paint by the divine looking ras’ Colin. Ah, the memories…but I digress.

The problem is not the song, it’s a nice song, with lots of positive vibes but after hearing it for the four hundreth time it's appeal wears a trifle, never mind the cynical use by a political party to make one feel all warm and cozy towards them before the now daily onslaught. Understand me clearly, besides the fact that you’re not my neighbour, I haven’t seen any of you in the six years that I’ve lived here; I’m trying to snatch those few elusive minutes of peace before I tackle the traffic, bad drivers, etc. Yes, I know, I should be up and out of bed, scrambling to get dressed and off to my wage slave stint but can I at least choose what I want to listen to while I eat my wheaties. Isn’t it bad enough that I can no longer listen to the radio or watch local television because of you.

What is it with politicians? True we might all be deaf from your loud campaigning but that’s no reason to shout at folks at your political meetings. That thing in front of your face on the metal stand, it’s a microphone, it is used to amplify the sound…we can unfortunately hear you miles away, it just sounds worse with you yelling. Frankly people, who writes your jingles and adverts? I have no desire to “step out with Patrick”, or “feel the vibrations with Winston”, you have wives to fit that bill! I don't pay any attention to the other irritating party music from the red bereted man either. Oh yes, I didn’t like Iwer George’s song at Carnival, what makes anyone think that in the ensuing time I would have changed my mind even if he hadn’t changed the lyrics to exhort me to cast my vote for ……. Ditto Akon. And for that matter, what’s wrong with using standard English?

Here’s a novel idea guys, why don’t you assume we all have brains, focus on the issues and tell us exactly how you’re going to deal with them. Think of the example you’re setting by being nasty to your fellow man. I’m sure your parents taught you better than that and if not, ask yourself, why anybody would want someone with no “home training” to represent them. So I’ll thank you all not to insult my intelligence any further with your puerile ranting, disturb my precious sleep time with your noise polluting PA systems and for God’s sake, do not expect me to drop my life and run to the gate to shake your hand. But I do give points to any candidate that avoids falling into the pot hole in the road outside my gate or brave enough to chance the swirling flood waters that we’ve been treated to every time it rains.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Relationships, go figure!

A while aback I was having coffee, what else, with a friend. Not an unusual occurrence at all, we were talking about all kinds of things including relationships. Very little surprises me generally but I confess, I didn't really expect my gay friend to be having the same kinds of problems my girlfriends were having with their boyfriends. Though why it should be any different I don't know. Relationships are relationships and very often problems are caused by the same things.

Okay, bottom line is, people have expectations and come with own own baggage. Our views are coloured by this and it affects how we approach our lives and how we interact with our partners. And that's the rub, we're all different but we expect that our partner will be able to read our minds; anticipate our every need or automatically know what we're feeling. Sorry folks, I hate to tell you but it does not work that way. That's why whomever created us gave us mouths and words.

Of course then there is man speak and woman speak but that's a whole other issue! She says one thing, he hears another! Or, he says nothing and she reads a whole conversation into it. Hundreds of cartoons, books, songs have been sacrificed to the Gods of Man/Woman Speak! And you know what. We still don't get it! So we screw up our lives trying to make sense of all of these convoluted issues and utterances flailing around until we bleed or the situation gets resolved.

Let's face it, humans make their lives complicated over stuff that in the end, is not really worth the energy we pour into it. Now I remember why I live with a dog. He at least does not question why I am late from work (two hours of traffic!), why I "let my figure go", why I have nothing to say, why I want to read my damn book in peace! He's just happy if I lob his ball at him, feed him and rub his tummy from time to time. Now there's a working relationship for you.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Go eat some chocolate - you'll be happier!

See this, this is pure evil. The seemingly innocuous slabs there have led women down the road of rack and ruin. Forget Eve and the apple, I don't care how shiny it is, who wants to eat apples when you can have glorious chocolate!

Every sane women will point out that choclate is one of the five food groups, but alas, it is one of those things that you are constantly told to avoid, like potatoes, another must have. You know what, in my twenties, when I had a figure, I was so afraid of society that I kept it under wraps. I never saw myself the way I was. Now I look back at the pictures and I am stunned! Who is that svelte chick with the masses of hair, fabulous legs and slim waistline. Surely it cannot be me!

Don't blame the chocolate however, in those days I could eat anything and not gain an ounce, pity then that I didn't. It is the job of advertising/marketing people everywhere to make us want to buy things. In today's world, ads/movies/tv/popular culture admires the stick figured woman, one that we forget has been airbrushed to within an inch of life. It is all too good to be true. We are ashamed of ourselves when we cannot conform to the unrealistic body ideals that are touted as perfection. And we deny ourselves any enjoyment as a result. We cannot eat this or that because the food police says it is bad for us or we'll gain a pound or two. Even when we look great we pick at ourselves and hold up ridiculous ideals. How stupid is that?

There are much more important things wrong with the world than my thirty inch waistline, go fix those please! Meanwhile, as an older, more mature woman, I have learnt the value of enjoying my life, if I want to have a little chocolate then I will.

Life without coffee-NOT

This blog was about my musings about life from a caffeine hyped point of view. Yes, I know, pretty self indulgent. But I figured, if I could have a regular job, no matter how stultifying, damnit, I could be as self indulgent as I wanted to be on my own blog. What can I say, it's all that coffee talking.

Did I mention that I love coffee? I do. There is nothing like waking up, stumbling into the kitchen, the packet krinkling with excitement as it comes out of the freezer, the aroma so think you could almost eat it, filling the air as you grind the beans. Set up the coffeemaker and wait for the brown nectar with its promise of wakefulness and the flickerings of intelligence flowing back into you.

Without coffee in the morning I confess, I can be a babbling idiot. On the mad occasions that I have given it up, well, let's just say it's not been pretty. I am however not one of those people who faff around with I can't drink this or that. I do draw the line at instant granules, those are the coffee equivalent of cocaine for what they do to your stomach but any half way decent cup of java is welcome at my house. On that note, I'll take another sip and get down to the business of self indulgence and musing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blogging is serious business

Everyone these days it seems has a blog. Some of them are quite good reads and some you wish the writer would quietly pack up and disappear into the woodwork from whence they came. Says me anyway.

I have a friend who spends quite a bit of time on-line doing research or so she claims. Personally I think its an excuse to skive off and read but then again, I might be projecting. No denying however that she has sent me some incredibly interesting links which enliven my life as I drudge through my day. If my boss is reading this, no I don't do it on your time nor do I blog on your time...ingnore the time signature you see here, it lies.

Looking at the wealth or dearth of material out there has made me realise how lazy I have become. I used to be employed as a writer so it is somewhat incredible that now, I scarcely write anything that is not a harangue to my staff or officious paperwork. Maybe that's what's put me off but it sure as hasn't stopped all those other people out there with things to say. You do have to be committed to be a blogger though. Occasional dilettante scriblings will not work, you must be consistent, no matter how boring you might get.

Honestly, I started this blog because various friends pointed out that I always had these interesting stories that only they heard. So what, I countered. Well, let's say after a protracted period of denial I ended up with a blog. I'd really like to comment on things like the stupidty of politicians and how much money gets thrown around, yadda, yadda, yadda but ultimately, who cares. So for now, will save my ranting for other outlets and encourage you to go read other people's much more interesting blogs!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Save Our Savannah

August 1999 was a part of a difficult time for me, I was awaiting the start of the law term and the date for my divorce hearing while trying to come to terms with how suddenly my life had changed. I had gone from being a long married, creative "arty" type, in the blink of an eye to someone who had no roots and very few references. At the time, I was employed at the Tourism agency and moving to my first post marriage apartment..with not a whole lot of anything.

August proved to be one of those times when a lot of my beliefs and I were put to the test. One morning I came to find myself standing shoulder to shoulder with many of my colleqagues and friends from the environmental movement. A not unfamiliar stance given our history of protests but this was particularly poignant, my ex husband was one of the people who had made the placards and the entity we were protesting against was my employer.

The sun was hot that day, and I was wearing business wear and high heels; standing in between Adele, also in four inch heels and Eden Shand. Clearly the two of us had not planned on being on a building site, far less in the midst of the Savannah. That day there were several Government employees there with a lot to lose, including Adele, Val, Rudy and myself. What it came down to was us standing up for our principles. The paving had been conducted at the behest of a Government Minister in the dead of night. Our network had seen the trucks rolling in and we'd spent the night working the phones, the call to action came early the next morning in the light of day. I was already at my desk. My "boss" had stipulated that we were not to be seen participating at any protest but damn the bridges, I had been doing this a long time and it was important!

The Queen's Park Savannah had long been on our list of things to preserve for future generations. For years incursions had been made on the city's green jewel and we stood to lose one of the most beautiful things we had in our capital. Over the years I have written many stories about the Savannah and environs, including at least a dozen for the tourism website and brochures both before and since that day. Ironic don't you think.

That August morning the trucks started to roll as we chanted and I called various media houses from my mobile phone. The TV6 crew showed up just about when the first dumpster started to pour gravel on the protesters. AS I looked up at the tray rising into the air, loads of gravel slowly and then esclating in speed emptied out the back, we were in the way. My fellow men and the media called out to the driver to stop, there were people under there. I recall the malicious grin on his face in the side mirror as he blithely went on as Adele and I, younger and fitter than Eden, scrambled to get out of the way, our feet and legs bruised and scratched from the effort. Val and Adele's John D students leapt to our rescue and tried to help us out of the way. They were the ones who dug Eden out when the dust settled, another generation of environmentalists was cemented in that moment.

Photographers snapped pictures, people waved their signs and the word came that the Minister had declared a stop, if only for the moment. That day I learnt about myself and my fellow man. I realised that regardless of personal cost, I would uphold my beliefs and do what I considered to be right. At the end of every relationship, if it was worth anything, you find that ground to keep going. That a lot of peoole shared our views but were too afraid of retaliation or paralysed by fear to DO anything. A lot of these people came afterward to share their thoughts or congratulate us on our bravery.

It isn't about being brave, I have fears just like the next person but I believe unless you are willing to do something, you lose your voice and sometimes even your rights. In the eight years since that protest, I have continued to live my life with personal integrity, no job is worth losing yourself and your self respect. To this day, we continue to fight for the survival of the Savannah. I marvel that politicians who fight to distinguish themselves from each other are in fact really all the same for the most part. When will we learn?

Would I do it again? In a hearbeat.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tomorrow never comes

Why is it that we always put our lives on hold for the stupidest of reasons? Every excuse to not live is trotted out, usually most prominent, work. If I knew twenty years ago what I know now, would I do it again? Yes, maybe I would spend 18 hours a day shooting, editing and making TV programmes but I would do it very differently.

I would have enjoyed it a lot more! I would not have felt so conflicted at doing what I loved, but I also would not have given up so much of myself to living up to other people's expectations or needs. Frankly, I would have tried harder to avoid those people who were interested n holding me back. Yes, even my own family. People do many things out of love, but we also do them out of fear.

Life is too short to spend each moment agonising. So instead of dwelling on the negatives, try to take the learning from them and move on to the things that make you healthy and whole. It took me almost forty years to understand that!

So today I stand here and look at my life. Yes I have accomplished many things, but I acknowledge that maybe the time has arrived for me to take the lessons, acknowledge the possibilities and let go. Life is made to be lived. Let no one steal your joy!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Talk yuh talk

I started this blog because it seemed at the time, a good idea. I always have a lot to say, or so you would think if you heard me in full cry. It became glaringly obvious that I didn't have that much to write once I got going.

Okay, that's not really true. Writing is my preferred medium though it's harder to be a showman. You have to write the visual cues that would otherwise be obvious in facial and body expressions. I also realised that since I spent my day essentially talking, the curse of Corporate Communications, that I didn't want to talk at all or by extension write. At least about any of my own experiences. So I started to contribute to a couple of blogs written by friends, artists who bless their hearts, gave me a forum for my own expressions.

Maybe it's a lack of coffee, I haven't had any since Saturday and then it was only one cup of instant which really does not count! I feel duller somehow, like my brain wants to fire but has decided to take a day off. I should really take the advice of novelist Earl Lovelace who, at the outset of my career told me to "write every day", no matter what. You can always edit after. So now to discipline myself, to write, no matter what.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Arrverderci Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti

Tenor, Luciano Pavarotti is the “rock star” of the opera world. He brought opera to mainstream culture with his affable personality, joie de vivre and incredible voice. A baker’s son from Modena, his career spanned forty years and hundreds of performances.

Unlike many of his operatic contemporaries, he performed for not only the opera house crowd but too his music outside singing at public concerts Hyde Park, London, Central Park, New York, in front of the Eiffel Tower and three World Cup tournaments. A philanthropist he has not only lent his voice but also his money and his time to various causes around the world.

Many words will be expended on Mr. Pavarotti in the coming days celebrating h is life and work. Though I have never had the privilege of hearing him live, two performances stand out. At the first three tenors concert, Pavarotti was hitting his high note and his colleagues, Domingo and Carreras exchanged a wry look and patted each other on the shoulder comically as if to say, okay Luciano, did you have to show off. The other was his rendition of his trademark Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot at the opening of the Turin Winter Olympics. It was the highlight of the ceremony and he received the longest ovation.

I have listened to countless of his operatic recordings and I have no favorite. It’s opera, sometimes you love it, sometimes you cannot bear it. The world has lost an incredible talent, arrvederci, grazie I Godspeed e voi signore.

Carlisle Chang - mentor/friend

Trinidad and Tobago became an independent nation forty-five years ago this last month. In the supplements put out by various newspapers there was information about the flag, coat of arms and other symbols of our independence. The creator of the previously mentioned was credited as the “Government Art Officer” or some such title. That would have been the late Carlisle Chang.

Chang had been part of the early Art Society movement with Amy Leong Pang, Hugh Stollmeyer and Sybil Atteck though he was their junior. From an early age, his fascination with the art world was ably encouraged by his mother and his older sister Beryl and he was to distinguish himself receiving art scholarships to study in Britain and Italy. Despite his brilliance, he returned home to live the life of the artist. Chang was a profound influence on many people, author included but the value of his contribution to our very Trinidadianess cannot be discounted. Though a noted painter who generally sold work off his easel, he gave up the brush in 1967 to explore public works of art in the form of large sculptures.

In 1958, he designed the Coat of Arms for the West Indian Federation. This at a time when Caribbean personalities abounded, Norman Manley, Eric Williams, Grantley Adams, it is instructive to observe that the honour did not go to Edna Manley, herself a noted artist but to Chang. He went on to design the TnT Coat of Arms, itself a painstaking experience with meticulous research in heraldry and symbols. Always a scrupulous researcher and even more so when it came to his work, his design is not only correct in terms of heraldic protocol it is reflective of the time and his own sense of nationality.

Incidentally, he was also a member of the committee that was responsible for the flag and insignia, though he never said publicly, he was the driving force of the committee and it is probably Carlisle that we have to thank for our beautiful red, black and white. Chang was also to sculpt some of the most influential works of public art in Trinidad and Tobago, his murals, “The Inherent Nobility of Man”, “Conquerabia” and a host of others at the Central Bank, City Hall and Textel. He pioneered the use of fiberglass as a sculpture material and left behind a legacy that has never been matched.

Through his long life, he received many awards and was recognized in several areas but Chang’s greatest contribution to Trinidad and Tobago was his independence work and the support that he gave to several generations of artists. For this alone his name should be mentioned in the textbooks.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

All that you can leave behind

In the course of my work, I often deal with consultants, usually foreign, who are brought in to tell us, what to do and how to do it. Most of the time, we already know what to do and how to do, are required to tell the consultants what these things are so that they can write it all up in a REPORT and furnish it to us as their "findings". It's an interesting system and as I said before, I get to spend time with them.

Don't get me wrong, most of the time I have no beef with the visitors, I shrug and get on with business as do they. We all know the score. The other night, I tootled around with a couple of them in the car. U2 was on my CD player as is often the case these days. I find Bono non-offensive and I can sing along because I generally understand the lyrics unlike a lot of popular music these days. Gack! I have become my grandparents...but I digress.

Matt was telling Steve that he liked U2 because their lyrics are cinematic. Wow, now that is insightful. Because it's true. If you listen to their work, even the very early stuff it's like a foreign language film. Not the black and white stuff with people entering and leaving rooms suddenly, but those films that make you get past having to read the subtitles, engage your attention so you stay until the end.

You know how it is when you hear a particular song and it evokes an emotion or memory, well almost every U2 song is like that, though even I think that Bono goes a little overboard with the well-meaning causes and sanctimonious attitude. Anyway, that said, I did wonder what Bono would have come up with to describe working with consultants.

Just in case you might think this is a pointless rant, bear with me, I'd had a trying evening which I would prefer not to admit to seeing as it made the newspaper. I started humming U2 songs to keep myself going..."all that you fashion, all that you make,all that you build, all that you break,all that you measure, all that you steal, all this you can leave behind".

That's from "Walk On", if you ever feel like " a singing bird in an open cage, who will only fly for freedom". Then you might understand what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Echoing Adele

An artist friend writes a blog about sex in art. The site was/is a reaction to the duality that exits here, as a people, we have no problem walking around the streets in itty bitty swimsuits and body paint; it's okay to have a hornerman/woman, but somehow, we still refuse to acknowledge the sensual side of life. Many works of art have caused national consternation due to their "explicit" subjects. We want the education ministry to ban a literature text because it contains curse words,stand on a street corner and you'll hear worse live.

I love looking at sculpture. The lines, form, the artist's use of material making you want to run your hands over it. It is a lover's caress, an honest admission of admiration for the work whether or not it is the human form.

In the Chicago, you run into huge, towering sculptures by Picasso, Chagall, Miro and Alexander Calder all over the city. They all provoke thought and are all wonders in their own way. In my island, we build monumental sculptural works every year. For several days they are exhibited via competitions and human portrayals. If they are lucky, they tour other countries. Wow you might say, where can I see them now you might ask. They are the costumes built for the King and Queen of Carnival. I marvel at them, and at a country that pays such scant respect to its art that these works are cast aside and forgotten once the music stops playing.

It is a sad indictment that even as lumber and quest after the trappings of "first world" nations, we equate first world with big, glassed in, air conditioned buildings, not realising that out there, its not about the size of the building, but about the attention to design detail. First world is not about having things, it is about how we value our musicians, artists, writers, actors as well as our businessmen. We talk about the arts et al, but do we appreciate their value?

The evidence is does not show this. So what next?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Knowing when to stop.

Ghandi said, " A man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes".

Monday, August 27, 2007

Blogging my life away...

It's been a while but I felt like I had nothing to say that was worth putting out there. Not like me I know but Richard had asked what the blog was about and I stumbled. Because I didn't know anymore. It's very easy to get introspective and to imbue everything you create with importance. I don't doubt that I could have come up with some highbrow reason, but I suppose it is much simpler. I had stuff to say, was tired of not saying it or repeating it to various friends so I took the lazy way if you will. Now I say, read the blog.

Today, I sat in a meeting that went on and on and I started to write in my head. The headline went something like, "How do you get back the time spent sitting in long meetings" or "is this a waste of time or does it add value" or some similarly trite thing to justify why I was there and not doing something that I really wanted to be doing.

I'm sure my boss would be appalled but after a while I started to think about how I would paint my living room, which needs painting. I would come home from work at a decent hour, start on the back wall, roll on the zen blue paint to cover the icky green. Wall by wall, over a few days or weeks until it was all zen blue. The crisp white edging, the soft curtains covering the windows. Moving the furniture around, it all went through my mind though I'm not generally a house proud type. It was engaging to not engage never mind the other part of my brain was still ticking over in meeting time.

Did I feel like it was a good five hours spent? Maybe not but tomorrow is another day. Meanwhile, I think I'm going to get a paint roller, organise myself and get started on the great change. At least I have control over that!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


For the last few days I've not felt much like writing anything, it seemed too much to have face the blank page and talk. Changes are flowing, people and places are moving on. Adele is making her leap, Elspeth too. CCA7, Art Creators, 2Moons Aromatherapy and a bunch of other places are closing or have closed their doors. I'm not sure anymore what the next few months will bring, all I can do is to quote Bob Dylan, the answer is blowing in the wind.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Budget day

By 2:30 this afternoon much of the speculation will be over, at least for those who understand economist speak, as yet another budget day rolls by. The PM has said his presentation is going to be 3 hours long, but most people stop listening early in the game and wait for the precis by the experts in the aftershow.

Much hype, much pontificating, much speculation, in the end, it will be read and we'll either live with it happily or live with it complaining all the way. But it's not so much about the budget. This is another nine day wonder in a land filled with them. We'll grouse if we don't like it but not a whole lot else. Meanwhile, we go to public consultations and complain about the price of things while we continue to buy them.

I wonder what would happen if consumers got together and started to refuse to purchase, say market produce. I find it instructive that at several of the stalls that I frequent, the owners all drive large, European luxury cars. Now, I'm all for capitalism, working hard and making an honest living and enjoying the fruit of your labour, I try to anyway. But I also know what the payments on one of those cars is, and the insurance. I'm told by several car sales people that there are those who pay in cash for cars that cost in excess of half a million TT. On an aside, I''ve also noticed most people in the food import business also drive expensive cars and live in up-market area with large walls and security to keep people out.

That's a lot of vegetables. These are not the people growing them, these are the people buying and RE-SELLING. Makes you wonder about the mark-up given that they have to, one assumes, pay rent, utilities, staff wages etc. It is a given in today's world, people must buy food. The law of supply and demand. We demand, someone supplies but at what price?

So think while you whinge about the price of things; is it not partially our responsibility to police our willingness to pay the cost whatever? To quote the tag from the Consumer Affairs, The Power is Yours.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Become an M&M

On the lighter side of life, if you want to have some quick, clean, innocent fun, visit It's a cute little site from the makers of M&M's, the chocolate candies that promise that to melt in your mouth not your hand. Like their ads which have taken to showing M&M candies as having personalities, you too can create your very own MM character and then have it star in a video or photograph. It's a fun way to blow steam when you need to give yourself some space but can't do it physically.

Of course your IT department might not thank you for using up the bandwith with frivolities but as long as you don't get hooked and spend all your time there, it beats on-line shoe shopping for entertainment/stress relief value. Best of all, you don't spend any money other than your intenet usage fee, the site is free and you're confined only by the limitations of the templates and extras, modem speed and your creative thinking.

Have fun!

Home; castle or jail?

This morning it poured and I reluctantly left the house, it seemed like a good day to curl up with a book. As I locked my front door, blowing kisses to the hound, I noticed a black handbag perched at the bottom of the steps. Weird I thought. Wonder who left that there. Negotiating the steps in four inch heels is, at the best of times, something you do carefully, on a rainy morning, more so. I didn't pay much attention to the bag until I was almost upon it, only to realise that it belonged to me.

Well blow me down, how in heck did it get there! Last I looked, yesterday evening when I got home, it was sitting on a chair in my living room. Admittedly it's not a handbag that I was using, obviously. But still, it's mine. I circled it, prodded it with my toe and when it didn't explode, picked it up and headed back up the stairs. It was wet, the bits of detritus inside unrecognisable. It could only be that I'd had a night time visitor who'd fished through an open window.

Now let me tell you, that's not easy. My windows are not that close to the stairs. And I have a large, vociferous dog. How could this have happened and does this mean that not only do I have to bar every door with triple locks but do I have to close all the windows all the time, just in case some enterprising thief or worse, decides to play Spiderman and scale the walls. It's bad enough that there are burglar bars everywhere, aforementioned large dog, and the fact that you can no longer sit on the front porch or leave anything lying out accidentally.

This is a violation. I suppose you could say that I'm lucky that it wasn't worse but does it have to be? Someone pulled a bag out of the house, rifled through it and learnt things about me from what might have been in there, while I was in the house, with two sets of neighbours downstairs! Isn't that bad enough. I am oblivious? No, quite the contrary...right, guess I was being watched while the miscreant waited for lights out, well after 1:00a.m. Now how is that for creepy. Does anyone have the number for the guy with a sword for hire?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Is corporate responsibility an oxymoron?

Generally, most days I see something truly cringe worthy from our politicians or captains of industry but manage to keep whichever meal I've had down and proceed with life. Today, I was struck by an article from the Chief at a privately owned house building agency. For more than a year, this agency has undertaken a mammoth high rise, located at the entrance to St. James. An attempt to "gentrify" the neighbourhood if you will. Not that there was anything wrong with it to begin with but that's another story.

The Chief was sitting in his fifth floor office at his shopping mall, a grungy place with awful bathrooms I might add, ruminating on the cost of building the said behemoth, how much the price had gone up on materials, incidentally raising the price of the apartments it contained. I sympapthise, it can't be nice to be out millions of dollars. But this is not what stuck in my craw.

His complaint was that the construction that was taking place across the road from his office at a site, owned by a large trade union, did not have to toe the same line his company did. Let me give you the context, he was upset that he had to keep the noise level down at his site, located in an OLD RESIDENTIAL AREA, wash the dirt and dust generated from the trucks going in and out off the road. Now excuse me, many of the residents have lived there for a long time. Several are senior citizens whose families have been there since World War II. Do they have less rights than you because of the cost of your high-rise?

Over the last year, if you lived in that part of Woodbrook you put up with piles being driven in, orignally round the clock until someone got a politician to listen to them. They've had dust, traffic, trucks and a lot of other stuff too. Actually, the pile driving caused the wall separating the site from Pizza Hut to collapse, something which the Construction company has dutifully ignored. But this is not my issue.

No Mr. Chief, it is not one rule for you and another for others. Just because your neighbours across the Long Circular Road don't take care of their grot in the road, does not make them right. It means that they have no sense of social responsibility. Something you seem to have a problem with too since you admit that that your company only complied because of the complaints from neighbours instead of doing the right thing in the first place. I guess you would happily have continued with your bad behaviour otherwise.

So be a man, suck it up and say, I am taking corporate responsibility for MY project and maybe your neighbours will follow suit. If not, you have the same right as a citizen to let your voice be heard.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Saying Goodbye

A Different View Bookshop, as I thought with wry fondness of the many of the things that happened there, would have made for great tv. During the last couple of years, I’ve said good-bye to a lot of old friends, colleagues and “liming” spots but this one is going to be tough. At the end of August, the current incarnation of ADV will be no more and those of us who have shared time in this space are going to be at a loss.

If ADV was the bookshop version of Perks (the Friends coffee shop),then I would have been Rachel, the character played by Jennifer Aniston, at least without the blond hair and great figure. Unlike Rachel, I am a great wait person so it all balances out. I was fortunate enough to have worked in the bookshop while sorting out my life, tending to the friends who turned up to lime, for coffee, meetings and sometimes to buy stuff. As a lover of books it was a wonderful opportunity to soak them in, many things on the shelves became friends and I also learned how to read without creasing the covers. Valuable when you have to put stuff back on the shelf!

What I didn’t know when I said yes to minding the book store was the opportunity I was going to get in meeting some unusual people, all of whom added a little something to my mix. The characters that came and went were mostly colourful but none more so than the owner, Elspeth. I watched and learnt as she touched people’s lives without being aware of how much she was giving. Elspeth has that truly rare gift of making people feel important and customers came not only to buy books but to just be around her. In today’s fast paced world her gift of time and an ear are more valuable than money.

In my time minding the store, we had an itinerant swordsman, tarot folks, artists, lovers of books, some truly strange people (including me) but I cannot truthfully say I regret meeting anyone. One character was Anthony Habib, former advertising exec but depending on where you knew him, tarot card reader or Unity Minister. An incongruous mix, maybe to some but in the ADV setting, perfectly normal. Over the years we had many meals, I gave him lifts to places and other sundry meetings, we enjoyed many conversations and Tony really enlivened my life. Stricken with several medical conditions, he refused to modify his life and instead, lived it his way. Tony died of a heart attack on Sunday, I’m going to miss seeing him around.

After eleven years of carrying the torch, Elspeth is now moving on and I’d like to wish her the best. For more years than I will admit to, she gave me a place of refuge where I could be myself, she helped me to understand so many things and most of all, she is a truly wonderful friend. Yes, I’m going to miss the place but I do get to keep the friends.

So to my Saturday compadres Adele & Richard (& Aurora) and the other folks Stuart, Carol, Karen & Ian, Andre, Giselle & Anthony, Catherine & Chris and of course Elspeth, thanks for a really great ride along this part of life’s journey, it’s been a blast. I know we’ll be liming in a slightly different view. To the new owners whomever they might be, may you enjoy what we have and may you find your own place in people’s lives.