Saturday, June 30, 2007


Every now
and then ...
a shift.
How can
I put
into words
what need not be said?
Only done.

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It is time

... for many great things.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Money, money, money, must be funny ...

Most of what I've done creatively, I've done without funding. I have evolved as a creative being who is good at doing a lot with a little and making something out of nothing. The funding I have received in my lifetime, I've managed to spread it far. The analogy I use is: getting butter for a slice of bread and spreading it over the whole loaf.

It can be mind-boggling to consider what I could do if I had a lot.

Someone once told me of a very rich old woman who so loved a young American artist's work that she not only bought his paintings, but funded his work and, when she died, she left him millions for the continuation of his art. Not sure I'm remembering the story exactly, but the fact is, without strings attached, this woman saw value in the creative person and contributed greatly towards the output.

This is one old woman. How many large conglomerates do we see doing that kind of thing? I admired Richard Branson (Virgin) for the prize of $25 million he offered to "anyone who can come up with a system for removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere". This is the kind of thing multi-million/billion corporations should be doing with their money. Contributing widely and largely to projects and initiatives that are thoughtful, progressive, encouraging to the 'creators' and beneficial to many, if not the world at large.

I part with the words of dear ABBA:

Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich mans world
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich mans world
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
Its a rich mans world


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Librans unite!

I haven't done Sunday Scribblings for a while, but I'll do it today. This week's prompt is 'What's your sign?'

This prompt conjures up fond memories of days spent as young teenagers, 'rocking' for hours with a childhood friend on her verandah. 'Rocking' consisted of going over to her house (especially during holidays), sitting for hours in rocking chairs, drinking cold Maltas and talking about how great it is to be Libran ... or "Libs". This completely baffled her mother and sister who, not being Libs, could not comprehend. Fellow Libs will readily agree. We are always quick to confirm that we are the best zodiacal sign. This is not being said with vanity, as Libs are humble creatures. Our zodiacal superiority is a known fact.

It became somewhat of a joke ... this superiority of being 'a Lib'. One day, in jest, I started up a 'newsletter' called TLC: The Libran Club. Our motto was: Librans Unite! It was a quaint blend of sarcasm, astrological tongue in cheek and serious fact. I sent it out as a joke to my Libran friends ... and soon there were more Librans on the growing mailing list, from all corners of the world. They all looked forward to these TLC newsletters and, despite finding them amusing, did not lightly dismiss the contents. I had a ball writing and sending out the TLC Newsletter. Haven't done any in a while, but I'll post one here. This was a June one (seeing that we are in June now).
The Libran Club Newsletter
TLC Newsletter

Librans Unite!
June 2006 Issue:

The Opening

Fellow Librans,

This newsletter will be short, sweet and to the point.

The month of June is that time when we begin to feel the insistent rustle of October, beckoning to us in the distance with the promise of opulence. Come July, we will see a sharp rise in our popularity as others are drawn to our magnetic emanations. Come August, the world will begin to put on shades in preparation for the brilliant rays that will be emitted from our inner glow (which, as we know, is so strong that it shows outwardly to almost blinding proportions). Come September and the world will not know the difference between day and night (so bright we will be). Come October and everyone who is not fortunate enough to have been born at the pinnacle will wish that they could turn back time, returning to the point of conception … and somehow convince their parents to choreograph their copulation so that all offspring (themselves included) will be born in late September – late October (the desired Libran time frame). Alas, ‘tis not possible … which is why one of our lessons in this lifetime is to learn to share our grandeur with others … to grace them with our presence … so that they may vicariously live off of our zodiacal bounty.

June’s Moon
There is something special about the June Moon 2006, whatever stage she is in. Be it new, half or full, waxing or waning, she is making it her duty to look over Librans with a special eye this month. Why this month? The month of June is named after Juno, the goddess of marriage, also known as the queen of heaven and classed with Mary of the Christian tradition. Be it known that she has also been described as ‘the divine watcher over the female sex’. (N.B. This does not exclude our male TLC member in the UK who is blessed with female energies). As we all may know, the Moon is female energy (as opposed to the Sun which is male energy). Add two and two together and you will see that this is a very female month for us Librans. We are in good hands.

The female, healing powers of the June Moon act upon us like a divine key, opening our hearts, minds and souls in ways that we could not even have imagined if we wanted to. This is the month to simply relax and be silently aware of our inner workings. Whilst this may sound far fetched or unattainable to some, it is quite the opposite. We do not have to strive to attain this inner connection with ourselves, for this is the gift that June’s Moon brings to us. She works herself into our system with ease when we are asleep, infusing us with special energies to inspire ‘the opening’ process.

“What is the benefit of this?” you may be asking. The answer is simple. Have you been ‘stuck’ in any way? Have you felt at any point as though something wants to ‘come out’ of you but just is not moving? (… and this is not referring to constipation. This is about ideas, new thoughts and feelings, revelations, things to be said and done, etc.) June’s Moon will open the way that once was blocked, allowing the river of energies to flow through us Librans, enabling action, truth and successful communication.

Let us surrender and enjoy our unfolding, my friends. Do not resist the inevitable.

Be Light
Be Love
Be Libran


(No other signs of the zodiac were harmed during the writing of this newsletter).


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Wind (video)

Collaborative music/video/spoken word project between Trinidad and Germany.

The video was created first in Trinidad and edited with 'silence' as the soundtrack. Without seeing the video, Susanne (Gary's wife) was asked to say something in English about the wind - 20 seconds in length. This narrative was sent back to me and added to the video which I then sent back to Gary in Germany. He viewed the video and composed the music, which was then sent back to me to edit into the video.

What is interesting is that Susanne had no idea that the location of shooting (Temple in the Sea, Trinidad) is a sacred site. On the shores, Hindu people are cremated outdoors on a large open-air pyre. Listen to her words. They poetically reflect what happens when 'bits' (smoke, ashes) of the cremated person are carried on the wind to the sea around the Temple.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Now you see them, now you don't

Strangely enough this was the only image left. I'm not sure why ...
Yesterday I got into a spring cleaning mood and accidentally deleted allllllllllllllllllllllllllll of my photos that were stored in iPhoto on my laptop. All of the photos I had taken since getting Satya earlier this year. All of my pre, during and post Toronto photos.

As I emptied the Trash, innocently thinking I was creating space by deleting a few images, I saw a little message pop up saying that I was deleting 2,000 and something objects. That was when I realised something was wrong ... but it was too late. I heard the little 'crrrunch' noise that accompanies deleted files ... then I went to iPhoto and saw absolutely nothing.

I went on the Mac site, I called a technician here, I e-mailed two friends who are more technological than I am and who also have Macbooks and I e-mailed a Mac expert. There is software called 'Filesalvage', but it must be purchased and I didn't get the feeling from anyone I knew or from reviews that it was so great an option. The long and short of it is that those photos are g-o-n-e.

I was not traumatised. I simply realised that:
(a) I need to back up
(b) I need to be less impulsive when cleaning out and emptying Trash
(c) Even though the photos had been deleted, they are not the real thing. The memories are still in me and I can always create new ones.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Magic (video)

Video: Elspeth Duncan
Music: Gary Winter
Length: 3:11

The music I used for this video is one of a few mp3s Gary of Psychedelic Zen Guitar had sent me when our first collaboration was underway. The video was shot using the iSight camera on my Macbook, Satya.

We are doing three short collaborations to present to you. Stay tuned for the third one sometime this week. For that one, I also invited Gary's wife, Susanne, of Creative Mother Thinking to take part.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007


Sign on Leslie Street Spit, TO.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007


Take a deep breath in ... let a deep breath out. Repeat for the rest of your life.

A short while ago I was driving to the art store to get a matte put on the above photo, as someone wants to purchase a print of it. On my way there I took a Curepe back street to avoid a long line of traffic.

On this narrow back street there were cars parked along one side, making it possible for only one car at a time to pass. I'm going to omit all of the frustrating details that occurred before this particular incident. Suffice it to say, the men driving the cars that all came speeding towards me, forcing me to reverse onto a junction (thereby endangering my own life/my car) were all "in the wrong" as the obstruction was on their side. But it is clear that this traffic 'rule' does not exist in sweet T & T.

To cut a long story short, I ended up in the middle of the junction next to a man in a green car who was being very obstinate.

As Mr. Green car forced his way next to me, he looked me straight in my face and shouted at me, his large, black toad-like face dripping with beads of sweat and contorted with distaste: "You is a C*NT?!!!"

The venom with which he hurled this at me was like nothing I had heard before. I looked straight back at him. My body shook in disbelief and rage, but my response was in my calmest voice possible: "Please don't use that language with me!"

He glared at me in a way that made me instantly remember what my parents always tell me (Elspeth, be careful. You know how you like to tell people things on the road when they give you a bad drive. These days they could pull out a gun and shoot you). If he had one, I wouldn't be surprised if he had done it. He looked cold, unfeeling and really pissed off at me.

He sucked his teeth in frustration and shouted at me again: "WHAPPEN?! YUH CYAH DRIVE?!!! YUH HOLIN UP DE TRAFFIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" (Meanwhile, he is causing the block-up ...)

By this time I wasn't able to be so calm. "When the obstruction is on your side, YOU have to wait!" (I know. Waste of breath).

The man behind me (who could see I had nowhere to go, but probably thought I was parked up having a pleasant chat with toad-in-green-car) was now shouting at me as well: "Move yuh cyah nah woman!!"

(Is this what they call male bonding?)

I don't know what happened after that. It was a blur. Somehow someone moved and next thing I knew I was driving again. I almost went back home but I kept going, thinking that if I turn back home and don't take this photo to be matted, I just won't feel like getting on the road again to do it later. I was shaking with anger at the way people are on the roads these days. The cumulative effect of other incidents on the way to that junction just made it all worse. The anger, the aggression, the lack of courtesy, the rush to get to God knows where - at the expense of other people's safety! And that man who probably thinks cussing women is what it means to be a man.

By the time I got to the art store, I handed the girl the photo and told her what I wanted. Then, after a short while, I just blurted out my fed-upcy and told her of the incident, accompanied by tears of frustration. I told her that there was a time when I thought the ignorance in Trinidad could change and things could get better, but now I don't think so anymore. It's actually getting worse. She agreed with me.

And the ironic thing is, there I was driving along my merry way with a photo called "HOPE".

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Friday, June 22, 2007

In Time for You

Open your mind.
Tune out ... and tune in.
Relax ... and fall asleep if you want to.
Have a far out (yet right inside) experience.

IN TIME FOR YOU is a meditational vibrational experience, open to all who wish to be present.

Admission: FREE

Date: Saturday 30 June
Time: 4 - 6 p.m.
Venue: The Centre for the Arts, 1 DeVerteuil Street, Woodbrook (625-2843)

Bring a yoga mat or thick towel.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing.

This intimate event is a part of Greenlight Network's (resumed) once-a-month interactive happenings for the healing of our inner and outer environments. All we ask is that you be either early or on time ... (not Trini time)!

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Check out this site (Baratuques). I had never heard of body percussion before ... even though it's something we all do from time to time - using parts of our body to make rhythms and sounds.

Click on 'English' in the lower right corner (unless you speak Portuguese).


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Oh well ...

Yesterday when I called to get directions to the drum class I found out that there was no class because they have to practise for a competition in two weeks' time.

Last Wednesday when I'd called, I was told the same thing (that they had to practise). I began to wonder if I was wasting my time or if I should go elsewhere. I don't want to call every week and meet cancellations.

Anyway, the new plan is for Saturday afternoon. Then (they won't be practising) I will begin to learn "the language of the drum", proper technique, stretching and warming up for playing and a lesson plan will be drafted out based on "how fast" I can pick up what I'm being taught.

As Xavier says: "I does just dive into de rhythms one time."

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dandelion goes to school

I've found someone (Xavier) in Santa Cruz who gives drumming classes (djembe). So hopefully Dandelion and I will be going there this evening for 'the beginners class from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.'

I had been to the launch of a short animation film earlier this year and had asked a drummer (one of the performers) where I could find someone who gives drumming lessons. (At this time I hadn't gone to Toronto yet and didn't have Dandelion). I was given the number of the drummer Tamba, who is from South. Upon calling Tamba, he told me he would give me the contact information of someone up North, closer to me ... but I did not actually get this number until I called him a few days ago (after my return).

According to him, every drummer has his nickname. He gave me a contact for 'Redman' and one for 'Lion'. Speaking to Lion was interesting.

Me: Hi, is this Lion?

Lion (deadpan): Yeah.

Me: My name is Elspeth.

Lion: Yeah.

Me: I got your number from Tamba.

Lion: Yeah.

Me: He said you're a drummer.

Lion: Yeah.

Me: You give lessons?

Lion: No.

He then explained (briefly) that he had not drummed in a while and that I should "call dis man". He gave me the number for Xavier, a Malick Folk Performer who gives lessons.

I'm looking forward to this. It's the first thing about returning to TT that has me excited.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Now showing at a blog near you

Music: Gary Winter
Video: Elspeth Duncan
Length: One minute

Recently a German blogger/musician, Gary, left a comment at Now is Wow and became a regular visitor, leaving frequent comments, which I greatly appreciate. In checking out his blog (and also becoming a regular visitor of/commenter on Psychedelic Zen Guitar), I found his short musical improvisational pieces to be quite simple, experimental and diverse. I asked him if he would like to collaborate by sending me a one minute piece of his music. He said yes and we agreed that this initial collaboration would be 'Step #1'. The result of our combined offerings (music and video) is above.

The collaboration continues now with us inviting you (readers) to come up with a name for the piece. What would you call it?

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Monday, June 18, 2007


Some photos taken a few mornings ago along my walk to get papers.

The street sign for my street, sporting a backdrop of lilac bougainvilla flowers and wrong spelling (it's supposed to be 'Whinfield').
Maybe the street was called 'Whinfield' because there used to be a beautiful windy field across the road. Now, in its place, we are graced with the beginnings of sprawling multi-storey accomodation for University students.
I think the drivers on the stretch of road across from the construction site can't read. They all speed up rather than slow down when coming around this bend.

Mummy and her family spent part of her childhood in what used to be this lovely house further down the road. When they eventually moved, my grandfather sold it to the Government. Sadly, it was unused and empty for years and was falling to ruin. Then one day it suddenly and mysteriously burnt down.

A common sight these days (as mangoes are plentiful) is mangoes in the road ... either eaten by humans, pecked at by birds, fallen from a tree or squashed by passing cars. Someone was most likely sitting in their car eating this mango and, after sucking the seed, tossed it out of their window onto the street. The Raj Yoga Centre. At this time they are always inside doing their morning meditation and reading of the murli.Walking back home with the papers. On the day that I took these photos, newspapers were emblazoned with news of the Trini on 'Deal or no Deal' who 'chose his country over US$1 million.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy (fill in the blank) Day

Happy Birthday, Mummy.
Happy Father's Day, Daddy.
May you both live to see many more healthy and happy ones.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A message from Jasper

Both this morning and yesterday morning, Jasper has placed dead birds in front of my car. This morning it was a mature bird. Yesterday it was a freshly hatched fledgling with its guts exposed. Some may think this is gory and consider it another reason for hating cats, but this is no evil or cruel act in the mind of the feline.

When Jasper brings me a creature, it is one of two things: a gift and/or a symbolic message. To me, there is an instinctive wisdom in his bringing and I always thank him for whatever-it-is ... even when, purring with pride, he brings them into my bed, under the blanket at night ... alive. Bats, lizards, cockroaches, rodents, manicous, small snakes, small frogs, birds and more. He looks confused when I leap out of bed and then take the 'gift' back outside ... "Doesn't my human want the gift?"

I think the latest act of repeatedly placing dead birds in front of my car is his way of adding to the notes of caution: Be careful on the road. Lots of carnage .

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Public Private Parts

One rarely, if ever, sees women in TT squatting openly in public spaces, by the roadside or against walls urinating. Is it that women have stronger and larger bladders and can therefore wait until they get to the nearest toilet? In the event that females are on the road (in a car) and have 'an emergency', they generally tend to stop at the side of the road and open both car doors (front and back) to shield them from public view. (I've seen this mainly on country drives, on the way to the beach, etc. where the likelihood of a toilet being around the corner is less). Either that or they go in a bush or behind a tree, where they can't be seen by everyone. At Carnival, most women (in absence of a toilet, bush or secluded spot), get their friends to form a circle around them, quite like a human toilet cubicle.

Men however (those who urinate in public) have no problem pulling out their 'penii' in full view of people on the road. Walls, bushes, sidewalks and trees are their main urinary targets. Don't they feel embarrassed about someone they know seeing them in action? Obviously not. In fact, maybe they like the display, because some of them don't even attempt to hide anything from pedestrians and drivers.

Hand-painted signs asking men 'not to pee' against public property are fairly common. One of my favourites is the grammatically incorrect: DO NOT URINE HERE.

What I found amusing about the sign in the featured photo is that it is just outside of a small snackette in St. Augustine. It looks as though the snackette owners are announcing to customers that there's no Urine available today. Sorry, folks. We've run out of stocks. Try again next week.

(P.S. Worse yet, it's painted over an old Lucozade sign ... also a yellow liquid!)

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Virtue of the day: Patience

From yesterday ... two examples of people yet again not being able to pronounce my name ...

Example #1: A Phone conversation.

Me: Hello, may I speak to Mr. Radgman, please?

Woman (who answered): He's not in. Can I take a message?

Me: Can you tell him that Elspeth Duncan called please?

Woman: Esfit?

Me: No. Elspeth.

Woman: Elspart?

Me: E-l-s ...

Woman: What's that? A-l-s-

Me: E-l-s-p-e-t-h

Woman: Oh! Elsphet!

(I leave it at that and our conversation continues. In closing ...)

Me: Okay, thanks. Bye ...

Woman: Wait How you pronounce your name again?

Me: Elspeth

Woman: Elspat?

Me: Elspeth

Woman: Okay, Elspet!


Example #2: Ooops! What am I doing here?
Last night I went with a friend to a nocturnal meeting which he had told me about and which I thought (we both thought!) was about saving animals and the environment. Believe it or not, my friend had got something wrong somewhere ... and it turned out to be a political cottage meeting! When I realised this, I wanted to turn around and leave (I don't like politics) but decided to stay and listen, even when it went 'beyond my bedtime'. Afterwards, everyone in the small gathering was asked to say their name and ask a question or give a comment on what had been said by the party members. At one point I put up my hand to say that I had thought this was a meeting about animals and the environment ... and I began: "Hi, my name is Elspeth and ..."

A chorus of voices came from some of the party members, each with a colourful variety of pronunciations of "Elspeth". I repeated my name about twice before they got it and continued ...


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Letter to Editor(s)

(Yesterday I sent the following letter to the three daily newspapers)

The Editor:

I recently returned to Trinidad after spending six weeks abroad. A few days after my return, I got an e-mail from a friend which simply said:

Dear Spec,
Good to have you home. Be careful on the roads. Alot of carnage.
Love ,

A strange little welcome back, I thought ... but unfortunately it is true. Another friend, speaking to me on the phone when I returned also told me something similar: "Be careful on the roads, Specky. There's a lot of carnage."

Indeed there is. When seven people can die in different auto accidents in one weekend (or was it one day?), something is wrong. This happens (too often to be acceptable) and has become 'commonplace'. The shock is no longer based upon the number of people who have died or the fact that they have died all 'in one go'. Gradually, the shock factor comes with the realisation that the face of someone you know/knew is staring at you from the newspaper. Thus far for me it's been (very rarely) people I know 'of' ... rather than people I know well. God forbid that it reaches to that. I'm sure others reading this will agree.

The same day I got that e-mail from my friend, I decided to hop in my car and go for a drive. It was an early weekday afternoon. As I reached some traffic lights just past Arima on the highway, the lights turned amber. I slowed down. They turned red and I stopped. Out of nowhere, a car (or maybe it was an aircraft - it was going too fast for me to make out what it was) flew past me. I had glimpsed it in my rear-view mirror speeding towards the light even as it was red. I've never seen any vehicle go at that rate before. Straight through the red light and out of sight in no time, causing my car to shake with the pressure it created as it passed. Not even an ambulance or fire engine goes at that speed.

When the light turned green, I found the next turning spot and came right back home.

One cannot look at that kind of driving and brush it off as some 'young boy' who just got his license or some drunk person returning from a fete. It cannot be glibly excused as "well, de road was empty" (which it often isn't these days/nights) or "well, dat's how dey driving now, yes."

In the Newsday (12 June), I read that Deputy Police Commissioner Winston Cooper 'expressed concern over the carnage'. Quoting the paper: "Cooper said drivers must exercise responsibility and avoid drinking and driving. Cooper also advised persons to stop talking on their cell phones while driving." In my view, this is too serious a matter to be simply 'advising' people to not drink and drive or talk on cellular phones. As it is, many people here already blatantly disregard the laws of the land. Will they listen to and follow concerned advice?

Concerned advice is something we can expect to get from loved ones. Not from our police force and 'those in power'. I (and others, I'm sure) want to see the relevant authorities get moving on seriously addressing this issue of 'road carnage' and enforcing strict laws as swiftly as they can. As swiftly as 'those drivers'.

Elspeth Duncan,
St. Augustine


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Maybe ... (audio)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Monday, June 11, 2007


Since I've been back, whenever my nephew Liu is over and I'm playing Dandelion, he appears and gives me coins. The first time, he ran up to me and gave me two 25 cent pieces. I asked him what they were for and he said: "Aren't you busking?" (He had seen this video while I was away). The second time, he gave me one 25 cent and one of the big 50 cent coins. In total, $1.25TT.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Soundtrack of Boredom (audio)

On my 2nd day back in TT (yesterday) ... I was feeling 'bored'. As a friend of mine once asked: "What is boredom?" Another friend described it last night as a state of angst. For me it is a state of restlessness and impatience ... for some reason not feeling the 'right fit' of myself in the place or moment. I couldn't think of anything to do or anywhere to go that would satisfy me. So ... to entertain myself, I played Dandelion and recorded the rhythm using Garage Band on Satya. Added some simple synth sounds. Called my friend Nicola to see what she was up to. Had to use my cellular phone, as my land phone is dead. Nic was also 'bored'. We kept calling each other back and forth in frustration, trying to come up with ideas for things to do. In my idleness I recorded my end of one of our conversations. The cellular connection was bad. She kept breaking up.

Listen here
for the resulting soundtrack: "Conversation".
(At the beginning you can hear the birds outside, having a conversation of their own).

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Some Trinidad & Tobago Superstitions

Inspired by the cat superstition mentioned here, I was browsing the net and found this site listing some superstitions from TT:

1) Don't put goat mout' on something. Meaning don't speak of anything negative that has not happened as yet, because it might come true.

2) If done by a Barber/hairdresser with straight hair- the child's hair will end up being straight (considered to be "good" hair ) - If done by one with "hard" hair
( =curly hair)- and considered to be "bad " hair, the child's hair will turn out curly.

3) When pregnant- drinking a lot of chocolate milk will make the baby dark skinned- drinking milk instead, will make the baby looking fair

4) Whatever food the mother is craving at a given moment, she should be given it immediately, otherwise the baby will have a mark on his/her body which will resemble the food

5) Don't bathe in the sea on Good Friday- you will turn into a fish

6) When you menstruate, don't come near any plants, or touch them, they will surely die

Submitted by Claudette Matthews :

7) If you put your handbag on the floor/ground you will never have money

8) If your second toe is bigger than your big toe then you are going to
beat or rule your husband

9) When you comb your hair and what is left on the comb is thrown outside,
if a bird gets it and makes a nest, then you will get a headache

Submitted by Fabrizio Tobago) :

10) . There is no need to use a condom when having sex, because washing your penis after sex with Alovera (a skin cream made from the aloe plant ), is sufficient protection against getting AIDS.

Submitted by Helen Houle:

11) Never take out the trash after 6, you're taking the wealth out of your house.

12) Never give someone a lamp that you have used, it brings bad luck

13) Don't sew on yourself, (like a button) , it makes people talk bad of you

14) Do not sweep over someone's feet , they will never marry.

15) Do not cut your hair on odd days, like tuesday, thursday, saturday, same for trimming your nails, this is also leading the way for bad luck'

16) Don't cross over someone, especially if it is a female over a male or vice versa, it is possible for them to take your illnesses, or misfortunes that way.

17) Always put a hot pepper in food that will be travelling at night, that way you ward off the spirits from entering your home.

18) Always turn your back to the inside of the house when opening the door at night, that way the sprits that have followed you home, will see your face and will not enter

Submitted by Susan McLaugh

19)When a young lady first starts her period if you thread palm leaf around her fingers on her right hand and then cut the leaf between her fingers her period will only last three days .


When can I move in?

Purrson poses for the pussy papparazzi.
(Photo from AWN)
Call Vinmer Vet Clinic @ 622-2773 if interested in adoption.

The kitten in the above photo is called "Purrson" (apparently because he loves to purr). A friend (who recently joined AWN and is encouraging others to do the same) sent me the image so that I would forward it. I decided to put it on the blog. It is a known fact that most Trinis do not like cats. In fact, many people hate and fear them. When I've asked why, most tell a similar tale: "My grandmother told me that cats jump on your neck in the night and suck out your breath." Do they all have the same grandmother?

I have a friend who absolutely despised cats. I had not heard from her in a long time ... until one night she called me for advice. In a very concerned-bordering-on-worried tone she asked if I knew of anyone who could take care of 'Darling' ... (or was it 'Sweetheart'?) ... while she and her family were away.

Darling/Sweetheart turned out to be a cat who had wandered into their house and successfully managed to steal their hearts. Darling/Sweetheart now runs the household and has my friend, her husband and the children scampering to fulfill her every meow. She even has her own room. Just goes to show it is not impossible for the worst of cat haters to be converted when the right feline comes along.

If you know of anyone who will give Purrson a good home, please pass this information on to them. You yourself may even be interested (if you live in TT). He is about ten weeks old and is currently housed at Vinmer Vet Clinic, Pole Carew Street, Woodbrook. Call the Clinic at 622-2773 for more information, to visit and hopefully to adopt.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Spot the difference

Part of a mural on a wall along St Catherine, Montreal
I woke up early this morning as usual and went for a walk. It was pre-dawn and the air was wet and cool (about 25 degrees celcius which, ironically would be 'hot' depending on where you're from). The vegetation was how I like it: green and lush and the mountains looked full (compared to when I had left ... everything then was dry and brown and smoky from bush fires).

I felt different, as though I was returning after ages of being away ... yet everything looked 'the same'. The Raj Yoga Centre down the road had their eternal red light on, wordlessly inviting people to come in and meditate. The newspaper lady's stand was at the bottom of the road (although it was too early and she had not set up yet). The same dogs were staring at me from their gardens as I passed. A few cars were overtaking the traffic pile up on the main road and using the empty side of the road like a Grand Prix race track. The same faces I meet every morning were there as I walked through the University campus (only less people were out, perhaps because of the weather) ...

On my way back, around 6:45 a.m., there was a freshly mashed up car in the middle of the main road, further up from the newspaper lady's stand. The accident must have just happened. It looked like something you would see from someone speeding on the highway. His back wheel was smashed in (s0 he could not move and was therefore creating further traffic), his front was smashed in like an accordian, his number plate was quite up the road (to tell you the speed he was flying at). The other car that must have been involved was nowhere to be seen.

It was when I reached to the newspaper lady's stand that I saw the other car, parked nearby. The newspaper lady was telling everybody what had happened. I suppose for as long as the damaged car is there, she will be repeating her story.

"This lady was turning in here ..." (she points to the other damaged car parked near to her stand) ... "and this man was speeding and overtaking and he hit her and went spinning up the road and he run out and come in the car park holding his head and saying how he could have been killed and I tell him yes you should have been killed at the rate you going so early in the morning! But I ent playing witness for nobody ... for somebody to come and hunt me down and say I say so-and-so?!"

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Slept for most of the flight (aisle seat 7C). Breakfast on the plane (which we got around 1 a.m.) was a herb omelette, hash browns, a spicy tomato and orange juice. Sat next to a woman from St. Vincent who kept waking me up to let her pass so she could go to the toilet.

Dawn was breaking as we flew over TT. I observed the hundreds of thousands of lights and Patrick's skyscrapers poking out from the dense cloud cover. Looked more like USA than TT.

Touched down safely at Piarco at 5:40 a.m. and my cellular immediately started beeping with messages. Apparently it had been on all month and I didn't even know! Surprised the battery lasted that long.

Weather: Rainy, cloudy, 23 degrees Celsius (Nice. My kind of weather).

Did not realise it is a public holiday (Corpus Christi).

It's also my nephew Liu's 8th birthday. I bought him a pair of binoculars.

Jasper looks fatter and is sporting a ripped ear. There is the strong smell of a dead lizard in my room, but I have not found it yet. His 'welcome home' gift.

Oh ... and my phone still isn't working.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Thank you

(Canada Chronicles continued ...)

Walking along a street in Montreal I saw this piece of graffiti.
A few steps along the same street ...
A bit further up the same street ...
And voila! Just a little beyond.
I had no wireless access on Satya in Montreal, so didn't update the blog. Montreal was a good bridge between TO and TT, enabling me to separate from the former so I can return to the latter without feeling too sad about it. In fact, I am ready ... for what, I have no idea ... but I am ready.

Just got in about an hour or so ago and will be at the airport for 9:something p.m. to fly out at a little after midnight. Arriving in TT 6:05 a.m.

Thank you for an unforgettable time, Toronto. It definitely was worth every moment.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Why on God's Red Earth would you want to?

(Canada Chronicles continued ...)

2nd post for the day
1st here

Thousands of miles away ... if I didn't read the TT papers I would be none the wiser. But I happened to check in today to see if there was any coverage of the opening of the Red Earth Festival which Greenlight Network was involved in (with a ceremonial procession of the I DO bride dragging her trail of rubbish behind her).

I clicked online to the Guardian first, saw the headlines emblazoned before me and instantly forgot that I was checking for Greenlight and Red Earth. I sat there bristling in silence, unable to think anything but ... why?

PLOT TO BLOW UP JFK: Trinidadian, two Guyanese arrested (The Trinidad Express)


Wedding drums and Dandelions

Yesterday at the 8th Muhtadi International Drum Festival (M.I.D.F.) there was a wedding. Jakko Bakko (not sure if this is the spelling, but it's the phoenetic pronunciation) married his partner, Valerie. It was a powerful event, witnessed by their loved ones and hundreds of 'strangers' (the audience). The two had met 7 years ago at the M. I. D. F. and decided to have their wedding on stage at the festival all these years later. They were serenaded on drums by the Muhtadi World Drummers. It was a special treat to witness this moving ceremony.

According to Muhtadi, if anyone attending the festival meets their mate there, they have him to thank (... or did he say 'to blame'?).

At one point I was sitting on the grass in front of the stage and a single white dandelion seed came and hovered on the wind directly before me, almost as though saying: "Here I am!" So simple ... it felt amazing. I thought "Wow ..." (it was as if a wish had come to me, granted). I held out my hand and let it gently land in my palm where it stayed until I blew it.

Unfortunately I wasn't feeling too well so left early ... therefore missing the rest of that day's line-up. I was hoping to return today to take in a few acts before leaving for Montreal, but I think the day will be consumed largely with packing and making sure I'm not forgetting anything important:

Satya - check
Dandelion - check

When I got home last night and was playing Dandelion, my hands surprised me. They were flying all over Dandie's skin, very fluently playing impressive rhythms that (to me) seemed to come out of nowhere ... as if they had a life of their own. Even my cousin, who was there listening to me, noticed a difference. I told her that maybe I had picked up something during the short time I was at the drum festival. Then I remembered the little hovering dandelion seed ...

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Dandelion, the brave Drum

(Canada Chronicles continued ...)

Today Dandelion and I will be going to The Muhtadi International Drum Festival. Yesterday I decided to name my drum Dandelion ... a name of dual significance.

In keeping with the dandelion as a flower, every time the drum is played, powerful vibrations will spread far and wide with positive results (reminiscent of a wish being made, the dandelion being blown and the seeds being dispersed).

The other aspect reflects the meaning behind the 'Lion" part of the name Dandelion. As power animals, Lions are active and fiery, icons of bravery, courage, strength, self-worth. The meanings of the Adinkra carvings on this particular drum echo this.

Kwatakye (or Gyawu) Atiko: bravery and valour

Pa Gya: to strike fire or make fire. (Said to be a symbol of war).

I say Dandelion is brave enough to go where guided ... striking/making the fires of Love ... starting world wars where the bombs being dropped are positive vibes and manifestations.

(I love this write-up about the Lion as a power animal):

Lions are perhaps the most social of the big cats, living in communities called prides. Within this unit, the females are the better hunters, working together to kill their prey. They are the primary caretakers of the young cubs, while the male protects the group from predators. All adults are affectionate toward the cubs, who live a playful and carefree existence.

One meaning of Lion, then, relates to family, cooperation, and community. Working with Lion medicine means understanding that one's well-being is based on being able to live and work in harmony with others, without sacrificing one's individuality. (Think of the lion's proud roar.)

We find the key to this balance between self and others in some of the widespread symbols for this feline. The lion is the astrological animal related to the sign of Leo, which rules the heart. Leo is ruled by the Sun, another symbol of Lion. As the sun provides us with life-giving warmth and light, so the warmth of an open heart provides comfort for all who are touched by it.

The French word for heart is coeur, the root word for courage. Courage comes from the heart and from one's deep sense of personal authority. When we have the courage to be true to ourselves, we have the power to act in ways that are in accord with our own spirit.

This is the true meaning of self-esteem, an honoring of oneself that bypasses false ways of gaining the illusion of self-esteem, such as comparing oneself to others and deflating their worth in order to inflate one's own value.

One who acts from a true sense of worth has a quality of self-appreciation that is inspiring and contagious. An individual who relates to others from the heart is capable of leadership, achievement, and the kind of success that encourages the accomplishments of others.

In ancient Egypt, a young lion symbolized the rising of the sun. So, in working with Lion medicine, we may experience the emergence of our own true, radiant selves.


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Friday, June 01, 2007

Starting to say goodbye

May all of the seeds I have blown into wishes
Take root and grow and bloom.
The last time I felt sad about leaving anywhere was when I left England in 1991 upon completion of my Masters. I cried as the plane took off and I left behind my friends and my life there. I feel this time it will be pretty much the same. Even though it has only been a little over a month, it feels like it's been ages. Whereas I had liked Toronto before, I feel like I have been falling in love with it this time around. My cousin Gene said to me the other night: "You know, you feel like you've been living here for 20 years!"

I will be leaving Toronto on Sunday night and going to Montreal for a few days, returning to TO on the night of the 6th, to head straight for the airport. Going to Montreal will be a transitional bridge between TO and TT ... like leaving, but not really leaving yet.

Even though these last few days are extremely packed (with both work and play), I can feel my energies winding down and becoming quiet.

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More busks for tusks

Photo taken by Nancy at our busking location on Wednesday

(Canada Chronicles continued ...)

Yesterday (a few hours ago) we busked in the same spot on the corner of Yonge and whatever-street-that-is with the "World's Biggest Bookstore". This time we were joined by Mike and Rob from the drum class.
Warming up

Before we began Nancy laid out the elephant booklets we'd been given at Wednesday night's benefit concert and I wrote up the necessary on the sidewalk with chalk. Nancy's roommate had given her a medium-sized wooden elephant (with one tusk symbolically missing) for display purposes. It stood by the large plastic cup we had (instead of a hat this time) for donations.

We started drumming at about 9:30 p.m. and, within 20 minutes, we had made $14 and attracted a small audience of people who also drummed and wanted to join in. They never got to, though. The night's festivities were cut short by a woman came up to us and told us to stop playing because there are condominiums nearby and we were disturbing residents.

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