Tuesday, October 31, 2006

nanowrimo and nablopomo

From tomorrow, 1st November, I'll be 'taking part' in two things:

One (which requires participants to blog daily) is easy, since I blog daily anyway:

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(Click on the button if you want to read more about what it is)

The other is more challenging, but I'm sure will be fun: write a 50,000 word novel in one month, starting Nov 1 with a deadline of midnight Nov 30, 2006. November looks like it will be a very busy month with work & projects to do, launches & screenings to have ... but somewhere in the midst of it all I'll find (or make) space to do the Nanowrimo. It will mean being disciplined, setting aside some time daily to write at top speed without thinking or stopping to change anything. That, to me, is the fun of it, because I tend to write like that a lot of the time, where 'nothing matters' and you end up with things you could never have thought of if you were thinking. Stream of consciousness ...

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(Click on the button if you want to read more about what it is)

There are different genres they give you, under which you can classify your novel: literary fiction, horror, sci fi, romance, chick lit, etc. I''ve classified mine as "Other" ... and so far I have a simple idea for it (which will unfold as I go along). The working title is "The Daisy Chain".

The time has come again

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Stone found in friend's driveway about 3 or 4 years ago

There are people all around us who are doing positive, progressive and meaningful work. These people (sometimes unseen, unnoticed or hardly recognised) should be upheld, supported and celebrated. They work from their hearts. Very often these 'heart-workers' struggle to acquire funds to assist them with their cause ... and/or they resort to 'self-funding' (money from their own pockets) to keep going. Many of these people will say that there are times when they have been tempted to give up. But thankfully, their love for and belief in what they do gives them the strength to continue ...
(An Excerpt from HHHA 2005)

We all know people who work from the heart and play an important role by setting great examples in this often (seemingly) "example-less"world ...

Tune in tomorrow and be a part of the HHHA 2006!

HHHA2006 submission form

1. Nominee must be born in T & T (or must be a citizen) and must be living in T & T
2. Someone whose work or continued contribution has one or all of the following: a positive, healing, empowering, uplifting, progressive impact on our society and/or environment - on a micro or macro level. (Does not have to be a member of an NGO, CBO, etc. May also be an 'everyday' person or ‘regular citizen’ who regularly goes about doing good deeds without thought of recognition or reward).
3. Someone who, in spite of financial and/or other obstacles, continues to believe in good and work tirelessly towards the realisation of dreams and goals connected to (i) a particular cause or (ii) the betterment of life
*************** BEGIN SUBMISSION FORM*********************
Please copy and paste the below form into the body of e-mail, fill it out and send to

Your real name (or online pseudonym):

Your spot on the globe right now (T & T, USA, etc.):

Your e-mail:

Your website/blog address if any (a valid web address with evidence of the pseudonym must be supplied by those using an online pseudonym in order for their submission to be considered):

Your nominee’s name:

Your nominee’s field:

Your nominee’s e-mail:

Your nominee’s telephone number(s):

In 200 words or less (could be point form), explain why you have selected your nominee and why s/he should win the HHHA 2006.

*************** END SUBMISSION FORM*********************
Only one nomination per person
Deadline: November 17th, 2006

Anyone, local or foreign, may submit a nomination online, once their nominee is valid and fits the above basic criteria.

Thank you for your nomination.

Elspeth Duncan
Founder and Creative Director
Happy Hippy Productions

Monday, October 30, 2006

One blog leads to another

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About a week or two ago I got an e-mail from someone called Shinji from Japan inviting me to be one of 192 people on his new collective blog: Topics from 192 Countries. (I am now 'the T & T person' on that blog). Around the time when I got Shinji's e-mail I was feeling fed up of T & T and didn't feel like writing about it ... but I accepted the invitation anyway, let a few days pass and cooled down a bit before posting. It's the second 'collective' I've been invited to join. The other is thepancollective. It somehow feels ironic (to me) that I'm on two sites which 'require' me to write about life in TT ... these days when I'm trying not to. At least, on my blog I've decided to stop mentioning the things about TT that rile me and am just focusing on the projects, creative aspects and anything else. I won't even mention Patrick Manning and his 3rd smelter.

Anyway ... the 192 blog was like a link in a chain which led me to A World of Reeholio (by Rhys in New Zealand) ... which led me to A World of Bloggers (which I'm now added on to as the TT person) ... which led me to the Dona Nobis Pacem initiative ... which led me to other blogs in between ... through which I came across interesting things like:
Sunday Scribblings - looks like fun and I did one yesterday.
NaNoWriMo - the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (from 1 - 30 November 2006). 'Write' up my alley as it will require that rapid kind of stream-of-consciousness writing where you don't have time to think and you end up with something you may never have thought of. May give it a go.
Cocomment - allows you to track your comments if, like me, you eventually forget where you commented and want to follow up.
Bloglines - allows me to list any blog I'm interested in going back to read regularly without putting it all as links on this page. More than what I already have in the side bar would be too visually crowded for me. Prior to Bloglines I would remember a few blogs by heart or have them in 'Favourites', but now having Bloglines makes it a lot easier. All the regularly-checked blogs are in one place, one click away - plus I can easily see who has updated (as simple as checking incoming e-mails).

Sunday, October 29, 2006

#31 - Bedtime story

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Once upon a time there was a deep green bottle which believed that its sole purpose in life was to contain Heineken beer. One day a man bought the bottle from a bar and took it to a river lime with his friends. While they cooked curry duck and dumplings and listened to loud Indian music, the man guzzled the Heineken from the green bottle ... until it was empty.
Being somewhat of a litterbug, the man tossed the bottle into the river where it hit a large stone and smashed apart. Lying there broken, the bottle believed that it had served its only purpose and would never be of use to anyone again. It was very unlikely that someone would even pick up its scattered fragments for recycling.
Over a period of time, the river washed the bits of bottle away ... that is, all except for the bottom of the bottle, which was lodged between two rocks. There it remained for a long time, gradually being smoothed to an almost flat green disc by the constantly flowing water.
One day recently I went to that river and noticed the bottom of the bottle on the river bed. I picked it up and looked through it like a filter with my camer-eye. Immediately the whole world was transformed into something beautiful.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

And on that farm he had some ...

Since last Sunday I've been working daily on part two of the Happy Hippy Productions project (I SPY: the environmental series created by children for children). The first episode was I SPY Wildlife. This one is I SPY Things in My Garden ... and it all takes place on a one-acre mixed farm (vegetables, provisions, fruits and poultry) tucked away up a little dirt track in Santa Cruz. The farmer's nine children are shooting it, under my guidance. My friend Rosanna is production assistant and every day that we go there, we feel ourselves slip into a world so unlike the one we meet when we get back on the road to head back to 'civilisation'. (I'll put a list of adjectives and aspects of the farm below so you'll see what I mean).

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My breakfast the other day
Every day when leaving the farm, there is an organic surprise from the garden waiting ... for me by my knapsack, for Rosanna by her bag. Paw paw, padu, bananas, ochro ... The above photo shows what became of the ochros I was given the other day. They were bright green and tasted fresh and firm, unlike the dull green chemical-ridden ones you can buy elsewhere. I stir-fried them in butter and ate them with slices of cheese on thick slabs of the rough, wholewheat home made bread which their father bakes every morning. They'd given me half a loaf to take home.

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On days when we shoot for a full day (Sundays and public holidays like Tuesday gone), their mother cooks large plates of food (using things from the garden). The portions are huge ... amounts I would usually eat over a period of two days! Delicious, simple and healthy eating and living.

The children have done a lot of shooting and by this Sunday we should be wrapping up the main part of it. The camera they are using is the extra camera I ordered in September. This lends to more versatility (in terms of quick cut-aways or 'behind the scenes' type shots), since I can film them while they're filming. In the first episode, the new camera had not come yet, so the children had to use mine to get it done ( it was therefore a one-camera shoot). I prefer them using the new one as it's smaller and easier for them to handle. They can be more fluent with it.

There's so much more to be said about this experience. The funny thing is ... there are people with lots of money and large houses, fancy cars who will look at that family and perhaps find them 'poor'. But, in so many ways, they are not! As their mother says: "We are thankful for what we have. And what we don't have, we make do without."

As Rosanna and I walked down the track to get back to our cars yesterday, we agreed that life on a farm is the way of the future (especially if things continue the way they are going with our prime agricultural land being used for housing!). Who can eat condomniums, smelters and industrial estates? On Sunday the children will be showing/filming the process of making a 'grow box' ... so that people who aren't fortunate enough to live where they do can create their own small, manageable kitchen gardens. Sow and you will reap.

Some adjectives and aspects of the farm: Green, cool, moist, dark earth, space, happy-polite-smiling-respectful children, outdoor games, fresh produce, home cooked, home made, chickens, morocoys, guinea fowl, puppies, humility, thank you, please, "Auntie Spec", "Auntie Rosanna", simple, innovative, spiritual, shady trees, bamboo, outhouse, herbs, provisions, fruit trees, flowers ... the list goes on.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant Us Peace)

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Yesterday I came across a simple and catching initiative: Dona Nobis Pacem. A blogger called Mimi is inviting fellow bloggers to "light up our beautiful blogosphere with Peace Globes from around the world" on November 7, 2006. She refers to it as a BLOGBLAST FOR PEACE. Read more about how to do it here ... and give it a go if so inclined.

Most of what I do creatively is interactive and I therefore love anything that invites interaction, especially for mass positive impact (seen or unseen). Dona Nobis Pacem has far reaching and powerful symbolic intentions. This world could do with a lot more Pacem!

I don't know how many of you are familiar with what a meme is. I don't think I'm the best person to describe it since I haven't done any memes in my almost two year life in the Blogosphere ... but to cut a long story short, when doing a meme, you can 'tag' other people - i.e. invite them to do the meme also. The Dona Nobis Pacem initiative is a 'meme' ... and (I don't know if they'll all see this, but) these are my 'tagees':





Barbados in Focus







Anyone else who wants to do it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Late afternoon

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Sun walks on water to meet me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


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The sand says
I was there.
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The water
will say nothing.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


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A leaf falls effortlessly
and inspires
the first

Monday, October 23, 2006

Try your hand at any or all

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(a) Write a poem by hand and mail it to someone of your choice
(b) Write a positive message on a Post It and stick it up in a public place
(c) Write an uplifting message or word in chalk on a sidewalk
(d) Write a cheque and donate it to a charity
(e) Write an affirmation on a (money) bill and spend it
(f) (If you happen to go to the beach): write something in the sand that you want to release and let the sea wash it away
(... and, if you feel like, let us know which one(s) you do/did)

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Whenever I go to Lopinot River I always find quartz crystals and/or heart shaped rocks. I don't have to look for them. They always seem to jump out or call from a distance "Over here!" Yesterday I didn't find any quartz, but within about 5 - 10 minutes of walking in and along the River, I found these seven hearts.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Answering Laughing Gull's questions about the film

Some time ago Guanaguanare asked some questions about 'Emily' and I said I would answer in a post. (To recap): Unfortunately, due to that earthquake a few Fridays ago and the subsequent nationwide loss of electricity (the day I flew out to St. Lucia), 'Emily' and my other two pieces, as well as some works by other film makers were not shown as advertised at the Film Festival.

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Opening scene: Joey Clarke (as Elliot) broods in the dark.

I'll give a little background before I answer the questions (in red). In terms of the story itself: 'Emily' has been through three incarnations. I first wrote it spontaneously at age 16 as a two-page short story (more like an idea). Even then, I envisioned it in a filmic way. Years later (1995) I was chatting with a friend from Switzerland (Corina) and told her the story and she said “That would make a great play.” We therefore did it as a one hour play, starring Bernard Hazel as Elliot, Corina as Emily and I was Jessica. The play included a filmic music soundtrack and slides as backdrops for the diary, projecting memories onto the stage. Had video been as accessible to us as then as it is now, we would no doubt have projected the memory sequences in video format. Then years later (2002) I was chatting with Cauri and Elizabeth who said they wanted to produce a short film and asked me if I had a script. I said no, but ended up telling them the plot of 'Emily'. They liked it and asked me to write it as a screenplay. I took a few days and did that - the result being the 22 minute film which now exists. Each time (as short story, play and film) elements of the story changed, but the basic plot and turning points remained the same. In retrospect, I can say that people's emotions were more visibly stirred by the play which was more intense and not as subtle as the film version. There were nights when people cried or were visibly moved during the play . (I won't go into the differences between the play and the movie now. That could do with a whole post of its own).

How was that experience?
Due to unforseen and/or unavoidable circumstances the film took longer than it should have: i.e. a few months when it could have taken a few fortnights. In the face of various challenges, it was a good learning and growing experience on many levels (not just in terms of making a film but in terms of life).
Working intensely with a crew and with many different personalities all in one place is not something one gets to do frequently - and that in itself was a multidimensional learning experience. Also, as a 'first time director' and a person who operates emotively/intuitively/spontaneously, there were times when I found it challenging to translate my feelings or visions to the crew, who generally operated from a more technical perspective. It was like learning to speak another language - emotive, intuitive and internal translated to technical, factual and external.

I haven't seen it but what does it feel like to sit and watch a movie that you have created?
In the case of this particular movie, by the time it was finally completed, the dominant feeling was relief. As I said before, it had taken longer than anticipated, with quite a few stops, waiting periods and re-starts. There were parts of the final product that were not as they had been envisioned 'on paper' ... but this is to be expected, as every creative process is organic and has its own life and input beyond that of those who created it. Many times I found myself thinking: "I am not 'the director' ... God is." It felt like we were being directed by something larger - the Cosmic Director - and the film was at times just an incidental.
It has been interesting to sit in different audiences and experience people's diverse reactions. I was present for the Trini audiences when it showed a few times here. Of the international festivals which screened 'Emily', I was only present at the Manchester (UK) one.

Was it difficult to direct the actors??
From my perspective, the actors' personalities already had elements of the characters'. I therefore felt they didn't have to go much further to 'become' them. Since it was my first time working with a crew and directing actors in that capacity, yes, at times it was challenging, but it got done. It's a learning process that can't be grasped at once and there are things that will be different the next time.

Are you planning to continue?
Yes. (Sometimes life leads us down different roads, but right now I will say yes). I've already told myself that from next year I want to focus more on film - creatively and technically (and the operative word will have to be focus). I want to return to/begin developing further 'Lily', which I started some years ago, envisioned as a feature length arthouse type movie (and multimedia book). In future plans I will also explore 'Emily' from scratch as feature length trilogy. I think shorter pieces, whether films, videos or abstract experiments all go towards developing one's style - visual textures, rhythms, etc. The little things I do now, in addition to what I learn (and will learn) along the way, are a part of my preparation for longer works in the future. In working with a team or crew to manifest larger works I ultimately want to connect with professional people who have similar visions and sensibilities and to develop a trusting, flowing, creative working relationship with them to get it done.


Friday, October 20, 2006

A creative definition of "Creative"

Yesterday, a fortunate phone conversation with a woman who was calling me about something else led me to a primary school in Sangre Grande where the children collect plastic bottles for recycling. I may go into that aspect more at some other point, but suffice it to say that they are the perfect find for one of the episodes of the I SPY video project (I Spy Recycling).

To cut the long story short, I ended up at their school yesterday after lunch and spoke to the children (ranging in age from 5 - 11) about the project. At one point I mentioned the word "creative" and was met with blank stares. I then asked: "Okay, who can tell me what 'creative' means?"

A little six-year old girl called Sade shot her hand up: "Making cakes!" (Me: Yes, that's creative). A little boy on far right put his hand up: "Making steel pans." (Me: Yes, that's creative too). Then a little six year old boy, Trey, sitting in front of me put his hand up in all innocence and said: "Making mischief."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

You are the Enchanted Forest

Yesterday was cleansing ... allowing for today, which has been 'working in mysterious ways'.

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A portion of one of the panes of "The Enchanted Forest" window lamp (in progress).
This morning I went to the studio and started on the final pane of the Enchanted Forest window lamp. The final pane is actually the first of the four (in appearance). It contains the form of a labyrinth, which is how we will enter the Forest and make the journey. Each of us is an Enchanted Forest. How far will we go to discover all that exists within?

The other three panes are done (sort of). Two of them simply need tweaking, then the lamp will be complete and ready to be launched.

All of the lamps are interactive in one way or another, but this one in particular is designed to take you 'into yourself' on different levels. This is in keeping with what the recipient/commissioner of the lamp (Karen) has been going through during the process of creation. I have been giving her simple interactive things to do ... some of which she may not understand until it all comes together.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Part I
Winding roads
To sand
and water,
incense wind
Floating in sea spray,
We forgot civilization.
Part II
On sand
We sat.
Front row seats,
Free tickets,
And encores
of waves dancing.

Part III
Through mountain clouds
we headed home
with a river of lights
In the valley below.

To Anonymous (singular and plural)

I had written a post already for the day and was about to go on my way when I came across a comment left by one of those Anonymous people. I could have left it, but ...

What I am about to say is not in anger, not in sarcasm, not an attack on Anonymous people ... but just things, responses, questions,comments of my own on these Anonymii who pop up every now and then.

Do you choose to hide behind 'Anonymous' because I know who you are and you are 'afraid' to say to me what you really think? Bizarre. Talk to me when you see me. Write me an e-mail. Don't hide behind a comment based on your lack of understanding of the wider picture or your intolerance for the fact that we all do things in different ways at different times. Or do you choose Anonymous because you can't figure out how to get your name to appear under your comments? Or is it that you could have been 'creative' and made up a clever nickname ... but 'ran out of ideas' and settled for 'Anonymous'?

The Anonymous who inspired this post asked me if I am "running out of ideas". Because I, being human, am writing about things other than my creative work and this is 'supposed' to be a 'Creative Portal' ... or rather my Creative Portal? In my experience, ideas are not things to 'run out of', Anonymous. They are always there, brewing, growing, exploding, resting, evolving, sometimes hiding ... then emerging in all kinds of ways. It is virtually impossible for me (or anyone) to share every 'idea' or report on every creative project in any one place. (1) I have other things to do. (2) I don't want to write down every creative idea here even if I could. Some ideas are spoken about in detail and some are put into action and manifested without a word.

If you are the same Anonymous, (maybe you're not, but when in doubt all Anonymii look the same) ... make up your mind. On one hand I'm running out of ideas. On the other hand my thoughts never get time to rest.

Rather than ask me for updates, this latest Anonymous demands updates: "Give us some updates on your musical artists featured on your site.up coming projects." I have absolutely no problem giving updates when asked for, but I saw no question mark after that 'statement'. The artistes I featured on this blog came to me and 'hired' me to do videos for them (if that's what you're talking about). I am not their manager, I am not their marketing rep. If you're interested in them, feel free to e-mail me and ask me for their contact information so that you can contact them and find out all you need to know. Or if you live in Trinidad, you may bounce them up on the street somewhere or already know them personally. Get first hand updates.

If you would like to know about my 'upcoming projects', there are several options:
1. Be patient.
2. (If in Trinidad), come to the events that I mention now and then and for which I leave open invitations for everyone. When there, you can talk to me, experience things first hand and get to know things that you will not know from this blog alone or from other people's feedback. (Your experience will not be theirs).
3. Ask me directly what you specifically want to know about my 'projects' and have a conversation with me. Monologues can be misleading and misinterpreted.

There's a feature that allows me to block Anonymous people, but I won't do that. Everyone has their opinion. Just sometimes I wonder. There have been Anonymii whose questions make me wonder why they even bother to read the blog at all. Why waste your time on what's not for you?! (And that goes for all things in life, not just blogs).

It all boils down to this: are you really interested in what I do creatively or are you just making comments to fill space? If the former, you know what to do. If the latter, well ... what more can I say?



today today today today today today i am today today today today today going to today today today today today today the today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today beach today today today with today today today today today a friend today today today today today today We today today today today today today will today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today no doubt today today today today have today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today a great today today today today experience today today be today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today spontaneous today today today today today and today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today discover today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today today new things today today today today.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I'm mobilised. Are you?

Funny how a statement like "I'm mobilised" (which sounds so positive, proactive and ready-to-go) when condensed into one word, becomes the exact opposite: Immobilised ... unable to move, frozen, out of circulation.

On Sunday I was immobilised by the mere thought of leaving the house and being on the road ... knowing that even Sundays are no longer spared from traffic. Then yesterday after lunch I felt to go to the studio to work on a lamp. I opened the front door, stood for a while staring out at the sun, heard the distant drone of cars on the Eastern Main Road, closed back the door and stayed put. It seemed impractical to leave. By the time I would've reached to the studio, perhaps frustrated and hot, I would not have had much time before 'leaving in time' to beat after-school/after-work traffic to get back home to go to Capoeira for 5:45 p.m.
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This t-shirt, worn by a man during the Death March (2005) says it all

I'm not the only one feeling like this. Practically every person I've spoken with in the past few days has been complaining about (among other things) the amount of cars on the road. I can't think of anything positive about the traffic situation. Maybe it makes me stay home more? Makes me only go out when and where I have to go? Makes me think more carefully about why I am going where I am going? Makes me want to go and live somewhere else where (there is traffic but ...) at least the public transport system works efficiently enough to be a somewhat pleasant and viable alternative? But it's not about the traffic. That's just a manifestation of everything else that seems to be piling up around us.
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There are many things that have frustrated and angered me this year in T & T. Up 'til the other day I was very sadded and angered when I heard that a lovely young girl I had met last year was murdered by a serial rapist who had managed to 'get out' of prison. I didn't 'know' her (in terms of time or frequency), but she was still someone that I 'knew' and connected with and had interacted with on a few occasions, all of which were positive and genuine. She was a hopeful young woman, barely out of school, who studied hard, volunteered earnestly to help wild animals, was planning to go away and study so she could be a wildlife or marine vet and come back to help animals in T & T. As a child she had many pets and, because her parents didn't have enough money to take them to the vet when they were injured or ill, she would use her instincts and heal them with her own hands - down to putting home made splints on broken limbs and 'fixing' gaping wounds. I remember one day giving her a drop to get a taxi (the second time I had ever encountered her) and she told me that she knew about me from hearing about me and that she was so glad to meet me because I was an inspiration to her. When I think of her being murdered by a strange man breaking into her grandmother's house, I don't see a dead body. I see her smiling face, I hear her positive and hopeful words, I see her with her young boyfriend (who found her body) helping us out at the exhibition we had for wild animals last year and looking so innocently happy together.
When Detta called me on my cell phone to tell me of the murder (I had just returned a day or two before from wonderful St. Lucia) I was heading into town along the highway with a friend. At first, when she told me, I felt nothing and just said "What?!" Then a few minutes later, I suppose as it sank in, I just started to cry and could not stop. It was as though the news was a trigger to release a plug of frustration and anger that had built up in me over this year of increasingly noticing 'things going on in the country'. My friend told me "Pull over", but I didn't. I kept crying and driving and Detta kept talking ... but I was no longer hearing her words. I only saw Shaddie's face and felt the 'unfairness' of it all. What kept running through my mind was: "It doesn't matter how good a person you are." By the time we had reached the traffic lights by Nestle, I got off the phone, suddenly stopped crying, flew into a rage and slammed my fist into the car window (which did not break), then started crying again. I eventually stopped ... decided to forget what I had to do in town, forget the traffic and just go back home.
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Monday, October 16, 2006

... if you didn't know?

The other day in between European movies I was walking around Movie Towne and wandered into a tiny shop that sold scented candles, fridge magnets and cards. Some of the cards had interesting little statements or questions on them. Nothing earth-shattering, just simple 'Zennish' things which could make you ponder, nod in agreement or think 'oh, that's clever'. I only remember one card which said: "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?"

I held up the card and asked the question to the woman at the counter. She said "I would be 25, when I had my figure. How about you?" The first number that came to my head was '6'. Not that I want to be six or think I behave as if I'm six, but for some reason I used to think it was my favourite age. I guess if I didn't know how old I was it just wouldn't matter. What would knowing change?

If there were no numbers and people didn't know how 'old' they were, would they age as quickly as they do?


Sunday, October 15, 2006

A little bag of 'Wow'

On Friday I went to visit a friend who is going away to live. We very rarely see or speak to each other (maybe 2 or 3 times a year), yet there is a connection between us which is not determined by length of time. After a few hours, when I was leaving, he presented me with a simple package (a sealed brown envelope containing a hard lumpy object, a letter and a CD of his original music created over the years from 2000 - 2006). I left his house and went to see one of the European Films at Movie Towne. As I pulled into a free parking space, it started to rain heavily. Rather than run out, get wet and then freeze in the already-freezing Movie Towne air conditioning, I stayed in the car and opened the envelope.

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The first thing I examined was the hard lumpy thing which turned out to be a small, deep green velvet bag which smelled strongly of incense. So much so that I thought that's what was in it ... but loosening the drawstring revealed a glistening rainbow of stones of all kinds - semi precious ones like amethysts, crystals, citrine, jasper, hematite, etc. as well as one or two small 'normal' stones like those flat grey ones found in a river. Wowed, I sat there staring at them.
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I then read the letter, which made my hair raise, not only because of the beautifully expressed sentiments of friendship (simple, but powerful, like the bag of stones), but also because of what was said about the stones. On their own they were beautiful enough, but what was written added other dimensions. The first line of the letter simply stated 'Forty stones, forty years." They are part of a collection my friend began in his childhood when he lived in the States. It moved me deeply to receive this.
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Out of the whole bag, this is my favourite stone: a flat, cool river stone, not even quarter of an inch in size.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

5 minutes = half an hour

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Heading into town along the highway the other afternoon with a friend ...
Thankfully our side of the road was clear.

Yesterday morning I left home at 10:00 a.m. to get to Movie Towne to see one of the European Films which was starting at 11:00. I thought I would get there with time to spare. Normally I don't go on the highway due to traffic or the likelihood of them paving the highway without warning, but there was so much traffic by the Food Giant roundabout that I decided to take the highway. Who told me to do that? It all flowed nicely until I got to a little way before Bhagwansingh's Hardware. From there it took me a frustrating half an hour or more to get to the point where you get the boat to Tobago (which is less than 5 minutes away when the road is clear).

With traffic everywhere we turn, the distance between point A and point B has been lengthened, at least timewise. What used to be half an hour into town can now take over an hour (and that's outside of traditional peak traffic times). It used to take me 5 minutes to get from my house in St. Augustine to my friend Glen's house in Curepe. The other day it took me half an hour!

Anyway, instead of grumping about something we can't fix on our own, we might as well find ways of making 'waiting in traffic' more pleasurable or productive. If driving alone, have a good book on hand, catch up on letterwriting, write poetry or sketch the hours away. If travelling with a companion, a small travel Scrabble board can sit between the two of you on top of the handbrake.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Lips of an Angel, Mother Warned Us

Every now and then a song comes along that sticks in my system. I can't stop singing it or humming it and I want to hear it all the time. Doesn't have to be a technically 'great' song or a song that anyone else likes, but just that some songs hook into us sometimes for whatever reasons. The latest song to have that effect on me is Lips of an Angel by Hinder. These days, almost every time I turn on the radio it's now beginning. And each time it's done, the radio DJs say "That's the most requested song these days, folks". Clearly it's a favourite. I'm attracted to the melody, the expression in his voice and the overall sound texture. (Go here and click on the audio part to hear the song).

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Listening to it yesterday, I got the impression that local 'rock boys' would be feverishly practising this new 'favourite' to play at their shows and impress their intoxicated 'fans' who will be singing and swaying, waving lighters, head banging, maybe even mosh-pitting. The cliche.

The song also brings back memories of when I was at University (in Trinidad). A few friends and I formed a rock band named "Mother Warned Us." (Although certain audience members used to say "No, mother warned us!"). We used to practise regularly in a little room (now part of Rituals Coffee Shop) next to Infinity Bar. We started off playing at concerts on campus then in time branched out and were asked to play at shows 'outside'. I think we were considered different in those days because of the gender mix, the fact that we did originals and the way we did our own versions of cover songs (which you could say were almost like originals by the time we were finished with them). We didn't inspire mosh pits, but the often classic songs we chose had people singing along and we attracted headbangers on occasion, especially once when we played in Chaguanas, the head-banging capital. But then again, some people will headbang to ABBA if given the chance.

When our first October together came around, we realised that most of us in Mother Warned Us were Librans:
Richard (Libran) on drums
Rennie (non-Libran) on guitar/keyboards/sometimes vocals
Me (Libran) on bass/vocals (hoarse, lower register voice)
Oops. Can't remember-who-did-lead-guitar
Alexa (Libran) on lead vocals (more refined and clearer, higher register voice)
Deborah (Libran) back up vocals and sometimes lead (clear voice)

We had some 'followers' who would always be there when we played at concerts both on and off campus. It was kind of funny actually. Anyway, if we were doing Lips of An Angel, the others might have said "Spec, you sing this one" ... on account of the fact that in those days I had a very gravelly voice (some may say croaky?) and usually ended up singing the Brian Adams, Joan Jett type songs. Although Alexa may not have done a bad job of the song (just minus the grittiness) as she was a 'real' singer. She used to do the Pat Benatar-ish and Chrisse Hind-ish type songs and anything that required vocal dexterity and reaching high notes with precision and power.

I don't think I may have done justice to L.O.A.A., but ... that's okay. It would have been 'our own version' ... and an opportunity for some people to say: "No! Mother warned us!!") All in the name of fun.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thank You

Small key opens big door.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


After a night of profound dreaming, I woke up 'late' (for me) - after 8:00 a.m. this morning and lay in bed wondering what I was still doing there. My mind was blank. Therefore I didn't update the blog early as usual. For various reasons, upon waking I felt this would be a significant day.

Later, I entered a garden in St. Anns and the first thing I saw was an old doorknob - the round, dark brown ceramic looking kind. It was peeking out from under a bush and figuratively 'jumped out' at me, into my eyesight as I walked up the path. Thinking back, I'm surprised I even saw it, as it was almost the same colour as the earth. I picked it up and held it for a long while as I walked around, intending to keep it because I found it highly symbolic ... an old doorknob, attachable to any imaginary door I could want it to be attached to. At one point it started to rain heavily and I held it (to be washed) under the run-off water falling powerfully from the roof. Made me think about what doors I want to be opened for me now.

In the end I did not keep the doorknob. No need for me to have it any longer than I did. The doors are open.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

First class

A capoeira game is characterized by such dynamic movements as cartwheels, handstands, spinning kicks and spontaneous acrobatics. At its highest level of practice, capoeira is considered an improvisational conversation between two bodies.
(From here)
Yesterday I experienced my first capoeira (Angola) class. There are only five of us and we will be taught every Monday from 5:45 for about 2 hours. The first time I ever came across capoeira was when I met Keshia (a friend who lives in Miami but had come to Trinidad to do research). She used to go to capoeira classes and 'played' capoeira wherever she could - e.g. on the beach and other open spaces. It seemed like an addiction. I never actually felt drawn to doing it myself, but it looked fascinating. The movements reminded me of a cross between a crab, an old man, a large bird and a gymnast ... a combo of dance, acrobatics and martial arts. It definitely keeps you fit and flexible!

Just before leaving for St. Lucia I heard a class was being given by a friend and I thought 'why not' and decided to join. I missed last Monday's class as I was being a human pig in Soufriere. But yesterday's class was interesting, challenging, fun ... and funny, the way we (the students)move with the often amusing clumsiness of learners.

As beginners we are nowhere near capable yet of doing some of the more advanced, mindboggling moves. Click here to see what I mean. (They are thumbnails, but you can click to see them larger if you want).

Monday, October 09, 2006

Ode to a Shooting Star

Last night I saw you
unzipping the night
to free wishes
from unseen pockets
of the Universe.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

In the Enchanted Forest (photos & short video)

A friend called me yesterday, not knowing that it was my birthday. When I told him that it was and mentioned that I was 40 he choked in shock and said "My God, I thought you were 28 or at most 30!"

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Photo: With two of the three friends who accompanied me into the forest in the mountains behind Mt. St. Benedict at 6 a.m. for a birthday breakfast picnic. My other friends don't (and won't) get up so early and therefore missed out on what turned out to be a magical few hours. The entire day, full of various things one after the other, was fantastic until the last drop (midnight). Spontaneous, simple and easy-going, I'd say it's been one of my best birthdays yet.
Click here for a short video of the in-the-forest experience, edited to my version of the 'Happy Birthday' song (track #18 on my Moving Pictures CD).
I only had my camera on me only in the morning, so only took shots in the forest. Here are a few.


Saturday, October 07, 2006


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Forty days after a child is conceived, the Talmud tells us, the soul enters the body. Forty, therefore, is a symbol of birth, rebirth and change. (From Source).

Friday, October 06, 2006

The shape of life and numbers

It somehow sounds and feels incongruous to say that tomorrow, on the 7th of October 2006, I will turn 40. I've never been one to subscribe to age, the number ... and the thought of 40 seeming 'old' or 'adult' in the typical sense of those words doesn't fit. Life's 'important' birthday turning points somehow (as dictated by society) have been allocated as 16, 21, 30, 40, 50, 60 ... (those are the main ones, I think). I don't know why.

I remember thinking when I turned 30 that it felt great. I saw 30 shaped like the Om sign and the process of turning to that age/number/point of life felt like shedding a skin somehow. And when I look at the stretch of my 30's, I see how many things I did shed and discard, either intentionally or not, conscoiusly or not - things I didn't want or didn't need. At 33 I experienced my most major turn to date. In addition to my own sudden decisions (e.g. leaving my job as a birthday gift to myself) it felt like The Supreme Being beyond my understanding unexpectedly and dramatically picked me up, spun (span? spinned?) me around and put me somewhere else ... where I am now. I don't 100% know why, but that's how it is and it's who I am. If I were a pencil, maybe the 30's would have been my sharpening phase, pointing me to where I'm going, what I'm doing and who I am. However, on the brink of 40, I still don't know in a 100% conscious way where I'm going, what I'm doing or "who I am" but ... life is an ongoing process of experiencing those things ... and 40 feels like the magic number that brings them more into focus: This is who/what/where I am.

A friend told me recently: "We're hitting 40, girl. We're getting old!" I don't see it like that. It feels like a rebirth from a point of having already been (if that makes sense). Where 30 was the shedding, 40 is the carrying forward. When I think that I've been through 4 decades of life, it seems like ages in terms of the amount that has unfolded ... and I think that life could even be another four decades of unfolding. Into what?

Since I've been a child, when I think about numbers or when I'm counting, I see the numbers laid out in a particular shape. I've sometimes tried to describe this to people but they rarely understand or 'see' it as well. Do we all have our own shapes for life's numbers and the way they're laid out?

It would be easier to draw or animate in 3D than to explain in words. 0 to 10 are laid out flat, quite like a straight road and they are glowing slightly. At 11, the road turns like a strand of DNA and starts heading upwards to 20. These numbers are almost on steps - it's not quite as smooth, yet not rough and somewhat hazy. (A psychologist might have a field day with this). At 20 it turns and runs from right to left, flat, like the 'balcony' section of a cinema or opera house, looking over the 0 - 20 design. The ledge-like stretch ends at 29 (on the left) and somehow 30 seamlessly begins the next strand on the right (even though I can't 'see' the bend that takes 30 to the right hand side of my vision). At 30 there is a burst of light and the 'lighting' in the numbers becomes different. In the strand that leads to 40, the numbers seem bigger, as though seen through a magnifying glass. From 40 it no longer seems like a 'strand' of ribbon or DNA, but more like a road. It doesn't climb up in a dramatic way, but keeps winding and ascending almost unnoticeably, like the drive up to Asa Wright ... or, to use a more recent example which I enjoyed, like St. Lucian roads, which are very winding unstrenuously through beautiful green mountains. Interestingly, now as I'm thinking about it, I can't see the numbers after 40. I'm just seeing a road. But the number 60 stands out for some reason.

I remember when I was a child, hearing about someone turning 16 and thinking "Wow, that's old!" Numbers beyond 7 or even 11 seemed beyond my comprehension. I remember Daddy once telling the story of me, at age 7, being told that a family friend (Mrs Sweeney) was also born on my birthday ... and my confusion as I wondered how she could be seven as well when she looked so much "bigger" than I was.

Anyway, 40, I welcome you and what you are bringing. I want this to be embedded in me.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Back in T & T

Here are a few random photos from my trip to St. Lucia. There are more, but this is all I'll put for now.
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On the way to Vieux Forte in the speeding 'bus' (the St. Lucian version of a small maxi - only smaller), this man fell asleep next to me.

St. Lucia is a smiling island

Yesterday morning as I traipsed around town, I stopped two or three people at certain points along the way to ask them questions or directions. The first person I stopped was a middle-aged woman. Before I could even ask her anything, her face broke into a broad smile which did not disappear for the whole time that she gave me directions. It was as though it was her pleasure. The next person I stopped was a man who looked tough and construction-workerish. The same thing happened. I had barely said "Excuse me, please" ... his face burst into a smile and he stopped for me to ask directions, then gave me a clear and cheerful answer.

So far, apart from an aggressive woman in the market who was carrying on about me touching one of her things and not buying it, I've encountered only smiles and kindness on the streets. When I was walking down the hill, I stopped a bus (their mini vans, like TT maxis) to get to town. The name on the bus was PINK. Along the route, various people, young and old, got in, cheerfully saying "Good morning!" (to which the whole bus would respond: "Good morning!")

At one point a woman was getting out and her little son (about 3 - 5 years old) remained seated. She called to him to come out and not keep the bus back and he slowly started moving from the seat, sucking his finger. The whole bus started to laugh fondly. This was just one of the things that grabbed my attention ... out of the many moments where I knew that if I were in Trinidad I would be seeing a completely different response. Even the PINK bus driver, wanting to get through traffic, simply rested his hand on the steering wheel, pointing forward. It was so subtle. Other cars, somehow seeing this, allowed him to go through .. quietly, without fuss and frustration. There was no pushing, cussing, cutting in front of cars and almost causing accidents, leaning out of window and disrespecting other drivers, no horn blowing to say "Get out de %$^& way!" (I have not heard a single horn blow in St. Lucia yet ... apart from me blowing the rental car horn around bends the other day).

Ironically, on my way back home a few hours later, the bus that pulled up was PINK. Along the route I asked the driver if the bus stopped at the roundabout (whereby I would have had a long walk past the airport and uphill to the house) or if it went on further. He clearly remembered me from earlier in the morning and told me "The bus stops at the roundabout, but I'll drop your further, to where I picked you up this morning." He did not have to go out of his way, but it was like his pleasure to do so.

I think it's because St. Lucians seem to be very religious or spiritual (the society) and because there are so many old people who are active in communities. I see them on the streets, in the markets, everywhere, like ever-watchful grandparents and ancestors. They appear strong and integral, not feeble and forgotten. Even yesterday morning as I observed children at the roadside going to school, there were older women (grandmothers) standing with them to stop the bus (sometimes also with the mother) and I've been getting the feeling that these old people play a vital role in the upbringing of the children. They probably instill that politeness and respect in them from birth.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Here in St. Luc, what people think is 'so hot!' is really one fifth ... or maybe even one tenth of what Trinidad feels like. Yesterday, when we dropped back the rental car and were walking near the airport, my friend Mel exclaimed at the heat. Meanwhile, I was thinking 'What a pleasant, cool day.' Yes, the sun is shining on your skin, but not burning through it. And, even though there is heat, there is also wind coming from the sea, which is practically around every corner.

Going exploring on my own today, as the rest of the island returns to work (yesterday was a public holiday for Thanksgiving).

Monday, October 02, 2006

Wallowing in the mud

When I thought of coming to St. Lucia I felt that there was only one thing I had to do and that was to go to the sulphur springs. I don't think anyone can come here and not have that experience. It's fantastic. The day before, we had been randomly traveling and ended up in Vieux Fort. As we walked along the streets, I was drawn to a sign saying something like "Little Healing Spa". We went in and a woman took us into a little back room with scented oils, a massage table, cosmetic/skin products, etc and said they do 'treatments': e.g. full body massage, facial, scrub and reflexology was $180EC. Not a bad price considering one of those could be $200TT depending on who's doing it. The woman told us we must come back, especially me, as I was 'the visitor'.

However, yesterday at the Sulphur Springs as we scrubbed our skin in black sulphur gravel (skin scrub), walked on the gravel, mud and rocks (reflexology), soaked in the black hot water (sauna and steam bath), lathered ourselves in sticky mud (full body massage with natural skin products), we realised we were getting it all for free, from the Source itself (Nature). Minus the chemicals and manmade additions. I'm amazed that people don't go there and bottle the mud, gravel or water. Or maybe they do?

While there we saw two white things float down from the bridge that crosses the sulphur spring. I got up and went closer to see that it was pieces of tissue. Can some humans not tell the difference between a garbage bin and an untouched natural setting? That goes for whoever left the condom and underwear on the rocks.

We didn't wash off in the spring/waterfall, but decided to wash off in the sea, which we never actually 'got' to on our drive back, so I drove back with my head caked in a black helmet of dried sulphur which took a lot of shampooing to get off.

This morning my skin feels soft and smooth ... and no doubt my insides got something too, after being infused with the egg-ish sulphur odours that topped off the experience.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Chookooloonks guessed & a serious note to Patrick Manning and his Government

Well, yesterday my location was correctly guessed by Chookooloonks. As I had posted my clue I thought it was definitely too easy. But, I find St. Lucy (Lucia) fascinating anyway, the fact that her eyes were gouged out while she was imprisoned, and in pictures depicting her, she has black holes where her eyes were and she holds her two eyes on a plate.

Whenever I am out of Trinidad, especially in another small island, I notice the differences between 'here' and 'there'. What strikes me most here is how polite and respectful the people are, not only to strangers or foreigners but also to each other. They are also very strong on customer service. I find myself wishing every now and then that Trinis could learn a thing or two from them. I have not encountered any rudeness. Even 'sooting' and ogling which Trini men do is not a factor with St. Lucian men in general. They seem much more respectful.

I was also amazed when (yesterday) at the cash register in the supermarket with my friend Mel, the woman before her was asked by the cashier if she had a shopper's card. The woman turned to Mel and asked "You have a shopper's card?" Mel casually handed it over, the cashier swiped and the woman got her discount. This would not happen in Trinidad.

It also feels a lot safer. Whenever I'm not in Trinidad, the energy of safety is more glaring. I'm not saying things don't happen in other places, but you can feel the difference as you walk somewhere. I was saying to Mel yesterday that I look back on Trinidad and feel sorry. She agreed saying: "Yes. For the wasted potential."

Coming back home yesterday after a long, not-for-the-faint-hearted ride in a maxi, I noted how everyone getting into the van said Good Afternoon, Good Evevning, Good Night ... and others responded. The politeness is a natural part of it all, not a forced thing at all.

I could go on, but will end here. First rainy day for now (apparently it is rainy season) ... but we are renting a car and driving around the island, doing the sulphur springs and the rain forest ride, etc. I like doing 'everyday' things, so that may be the most touristy part of the trip.

In closing, a note to Patrick Manning and his Government ... and any coming Governments we may acquire: Development is not tall buildings and big highways. The St. Lucia highway looks like our Eastern Main Road, they are not plagued with skyscrapers, smelters and industrial estates around every corner, they do not have rubbish littering the streets, the people look relaxed and, even though most of them don't live in massive monstrosities, they have a good quality of life; their food prices are not flying through the ceiling; customer service is impeccable (not only because tourism is a major industry but because they mean it); people are polite and courteous; there is no sense of anger and frustration in the populace - on their faces, in the way they drive, in the way they move; their telecom and internet problems are dealt with swiftly and with genuine follow ups (from what I've heard), 'things' look as though they work; public transport prices are not astronomical; there is a lot of vegetation everywhere. Do you know how refreshing and great for the spirit it is to look up at the mountains or look around at plains and see miles of banana and coconut, forest, green savannahs, shrubs, grazing horses and cows? Not every nook and cranny of our ecosystem has to be cut down to build a concrete or metal structure! Yes St. Lucia is a 'small island' (and I'm not saying it's perfect or that I know everything about it) but that is nothing to be scoffed at. It is far more developed than Trinidad and Tobago could ever be at the rate we are going.