Friday, August 31, 2007

Fantasie Frolick

Prime Minister Patrick Manning may not have moved into the prime-ministerial $148 million mansion and diplomatic centre at La Fantasie in St Ann’s, as yet, but these two dogs, which were able to gain entry onto the private premises, took time to swim, frolic, relax and lovingly rub noses in a man-made watercourse during yesterday’s media tour of the residence.

(Photo and excerpt from today's Guardian)

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I SPY

Behind the scenes of "I SPY Things in My Garden" ...
(Photos taken by Rosanna)
Christon looks fixedly into the LCD screen of the video camera.
Why did the chicken cross the storyboard?
Two members of the film crew hang around during a break
*
Soon I will have a special little launch for the children (age 7 - 10) who worked on the I SPY documentaries so that they and their parents can see all four episodes and I can present each child with his/her own copy of the DVD. I just need to fix a date and get things in order.

Four children worked on I SPY Wildlife (only these children so far have seen their work).
Four children worked on I SPY Trees.
The whole 4H Club from Cunapo St. Francis RC School worked on the I SPY Recycling episode.
The nine children of the Gunsam/Joseph family worked on I SPY Things in My Garden.

So, if all of them can make it ... in all there could\ be about almost 40 children and their parents!

I think the experience will make the children feel important. Not only will they be seeing themselves on screen with footage that they shot themselves, but they will also be getting interviewed by the media and will be on TV. I imagine most of them will be shy ... but it will be a whole new adventure.

Their I SPY documentaries will also be shown daily in the kids slot at the TTIFF 2007 (Trinidad and Tobago International Film Festival) in September. How exciting for them. They get to tell all of their friends that their documentaries are showing in Movie Towne!


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Thursday, August 30, 2007

New beginnings: unlimited success

The blog reader called 'dumondoj' left a comment on yesterday's post wondering if it was random that ABBA had received her beginning during Beginnings. Whether it was random or not, she definitely did get her new beginning during Beginnings. In fact I think Beginnings brought about many new beginnings on the whole.

Soon after the ABBA story, my sister Kathryn sent out a heart-wrenching e-mail about her own dogs. She and her son Liu, my nephew, have cause to move and unfortunately had to give up their dogs ... since finding another house with a garden at a price anyone but a millionaire can afford is not easy.

Mandy (one of the pups from Hindi's second litter of which Pippa is a sibling)
*
Amazingly, she was overwhelmed with responses. Everyone was forwarding the e-mail far and wide to their various networks. All kinds of people she didn't even know where calling to express interest in the dogs and/or to offer words of comfort and condolence. Someone even offered counseling to assist them as they made their shift in parting with the pets. Within about a week the dogs all had new homes with animal lovers! Mandy went to a young woman who is going to get another dog for her as a companion. This young woman even bought a special cover for Mandy to sit on in the car - "as opposed to just putting an old towel," as Kathryn pointed out.

Spike, who wandered into Kathryn and Liu's garden one day and never left.
Fidel (otherwise known as Feedie): a strange mix of Rottweiler and a small pompek-ish breed. How that mating session was possible is anyone's guess.
*
Spike and Fidel, the two males, will be moving together, to live with a family in South. These people are animal lovers and apparently recently adopted a stray dog. People who adopt stray dogs and love them go up in my books. They don't care whether the dog is 'a breed'. They love him/her for who s/he is.

In a world ... or more specifically, on an island where it's tough to get homes for animals (especially cats), we've definitely been seeing some success stories as of late!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Beginningsend


The title of this post, two words merged as one, has two meanings:
1. I've come to the end of making my Beginnings (Beginnings' end)
2. I sent the last 5 yesterday (Beginning Send)

The first set I made were not like 'cards' per se. But the last few I made became more simple and card-like (like the one displayed above). Each Beginning, whether card-like or not, felt special, like something I myself would love to receive.

I know this person and this person already got theirs. Pretty soon the other eight recipients will as well.

I would choose the material with which I was going to make the Beginning, then I would open the book where I'd written the addresses, close my eyes and select one at random. Then based on the feeling that person's name gave me, I would make their Beginning. That's how everyone got what they got.

Now that it's all over, I can't remember what I wrote, drew or made for each person. The one that stands out most in my memory is the one that I made from the thing I picked up on the grassy cliff in Toco where I was drumming the other day. If I remember correctly, that Beginning went to Canada. The other nine all went to addresses in the States.

It was an enjoyable process. Not sorry it's come to an end, though.

The end of Beginnings is a beginning in itself.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Video haiku: Along a country road


video
(39 seconds)

Wet sky has fallen
Shiny ribbon reflecting
The day up ahead

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Hilarious!

Infrared goggles may be the next hot style on Frederick Street.

I came across this hilarious blog today: The Secret Blog of Patrick Manning. It contains posts (secretly) written by the Prime Minister of TT ... and posts written by his wife Hazel, who quips in one of her entries:

Doo-doo, you really thought you could keep this blog secret from me? Who controls the mouse in this family? I’m surprised you could even turn on the computer by yourself. By the way, I saw you and “Chrissy” perfectly clearly from the TV room window using those special infra-red goggles that came with the last blimp. […]

Tee hee ...

Can't wait to tune in again to Westwood ... I mean Manning Park ...

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Healing (a video/music collaboration)



Video: Elspeth Duncan
Soundtrack: Anita Katakkar

A word was chosen at random: Healing
The music was created inspired by the word
The video was created inspired by the music

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

How to play the Avalo (video)

video
Yesterday there was a request from Kelly for me to post a pic of my hands drumming (to go with the "to-to te" transcription).

Here is a simple instructional video showing how the Avalo is played. (N.B. A sleepy Jasper in the background looking on). I did it in steps so you can understand the "to-to te" method of remembering the rhythm. I played it slowly so you can understand ... and softly, as it is early Sunday morning and the neighbours are still asleep.

(For some reason Youtube is not uploading this morning, so I have uploaded this video using the new Blogger video upload feature).

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

The First Recipient of a Beginning

Just got back from drum class. Today we drummed an Orisha beat to accompany some dancers. Also learnt Avalo, Congo, Bele (Belair?) and Pique. In order to practice the beats at home, I had to devise a method that helps me remember how the particular rhythm is constructed.

I decided to go with sounds, like how Indian percussionists say things like te taka te ta taka tiki ta ... (etc).

I use "D" to differentiate the left hand from the "T" of the right hand ... and the different vowel endings to indicate the positioning of the hand on the drum (- o: bass; - a: mid; - e:rim)

E.g.
Left hand:
Do (bass) da (mid) de (rim)

Right hand:
To (bass) ta (mid) te (rim)

So Avalo for example is:
To-to te
To-to te te
To-to te
To-to tetete

Bele is:
Da-te da
Da-te da
Da-te da
Da-te da

And so on ...

In other news, a blogger named Kizz left a comment saying she received her Beginning. I think I had posted hers second ... so it must have been this one (?) I can't remember ...

I haven't been keeping track of who is getting what.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Five more Beginnings to go ...

I just posted off two more Beginnings and will probably make the remaining five today or over the weekend. None of them look like postcards.

As for 'new things' beginning in my own life ... right now, I can only come up with three:
1. I began new drum classes last week
2. I will begin singing classes soon (the other class I was supposed to go to got postponed indefinitely and rather than wait I will go with someone else)
3. French class begins on 3rd September ( I bought the required text today: Breakthrough French 2)

Maybe there are more new things but I'm just not seeing them right now.

Surprise me, Universe.

To quote a friend of mine: "I give thanks for the unexpected blessings on their way into my life right now."

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An Expensive Mistake

I'm not sure how many of you saw (in yesterday's Express) the photo of the $100,000TT-per-plate invitation 'to converse over dinner with the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.' (Oh ... I just read that 'negative publicity' has caused him to cancel it ...)

Anyway, for an event that is asking people to pay $100,000 per plate you would think that they would at least get the invitation right! When I first read the invitation in the papers, this jumped out at me:

The first line of the second paragraph blatantly begins: "Meaningful changes takes time" ...

So does proofreading!
*
*
*
Below is a copy of the article:
$100,000 A PLATE
Dinner with Manning



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Thursday, August 23, 2007

At last ... a success story!!!

Hoorayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!
Surrounded by a small circle of people, adorable ABBA, formerly known as 'Dancing Queen' is the centre of attention in the cordoned off area of Glen's workshop where she spent the night after being found on Tuesday. (N.B. Her belly has gone down considerably. When I found her it was like a balloon).
*
Debbie and Sita Sammy (Glen's administrative assistants) are adopting ABBA! I was elated to hear this when I went to visit her the morning after. Apparently the members of the Sammy family really spoil their dogs ... so we can be assured that ABBA is going to a great home. The excited family even left a comment here about their new adoptee.

Indeed ... a time to dance and celebrate!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Magical Mud pimple day (with video)


(Brief summary of today's journey to Manzanilla with Adrian and Joanna)It was a partially dark and stormy day ...
We walked along the beach and found enlightenment.
As we sat on a piece of driftwood in Mayaro munching rotis for lunch, this beach dog (of which there were many) waited patiently for a few morsels.
One of the day's many highlights was this mud volcano (in Kernaham Village), which we re-christened "the mud pimple". Volcano seemed to be too dramatic a word for this pimple which stood there bubbling politely, much to the delight of the crowd of onlookers we met upon arrival. It is not clear whether the girl in the shot is running from the gurgling mud pimple or from the camera.

For live mud pimple action, see the video below.

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The next few days ... (update)

Starting today:
WED 22 AUGUST
1. 9:00 a.m. Go to Manzanilla with Adrian (Canadian artist) and his wife Joanna - also an artist whose students do work on HIV/AIDs; interested in hearing about the video approach I will be taking (with my project on the same topic). I think it will be a day of fruitful creative discussions and activity.
2. 6:30 p.m. (if I'm not too tired to go by the time I return from Manzie, which I think I will be ...): Talk being given at Raj Yoga Centre by visiting London representative.

THURSDAY AUGUST 23
1. 9:30 a.m. Funeral of another friend's mother in POS
2. At some point, maybe before the funeral, take ABBA to an animal centre - if Glen does not decide to keep her ... which I hope he does).
3. From 2 p.m., kayaking through the Caroni wetlands with a tour group (for an article I have to write on touring T & T)

FRIDAY AUGUST 24
1. Check UWI Bookstore to see if the book for French class is in yet.
2. 10 a.m. Biking for two and a half hours through Caroni (also for touring article. I'm hoping 'two and a half hours' includes stopping off to listen to the tour guide talking. I can't imagine riding for so long in the hot sun)
3. 6 p.m. A friend is having a symbolic gathering at her home. (It sounds like it will be great fun, but I may not have the energy to go)

SATURDAY AUGUST 25th
1. Leave 10 a.m. to go to drum class, to be in time to "drum for de dance class so you go get some experience wit dat" (says Desmond). Return home in the early afternoon.
2. My friend Charlotte's birthday.

SUNDAY AUGUST 26th
1. Rest.
2. 5:30 p.m. Go to my friend Malik's birthday celebrations.

MONDAY AUGUST 27th
7:00 a.m. Leave early for a 'press tour' of the Nariva Swamp (also for the article).

In between all of those things are the little things to take care of and catch up on: printing things, collecting things, dropping off things, posting things, making calls, depositing cheques, paying bills, checking and responding to e-mails, following up on outstanding things, thinking and jotting down things, etc.

And in between those things: eat, drink, sleep.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Animal lovers needed to help solve recurring problem

Unfortunately I don't have a photo of ABBA because I didn't take my camera to the funeral ...

On the way to the cemetery, I spotted a cute toffee brown and white pup under a bridge, busily digging in a box. I slowed down and pointed it out to my friend Michele (also an animal lover) who was following in her car. Someone had dumped the pup in the box. Because she was so friendly, she was dangerously running towards oncoming cars wagging her tail. We decided to return after the burial to get her.

When we returned, she was still there near to her box, which was filled with Crix, a small bowl of water and a dirty t-shirt. We emptied the box of its items and put her (in the box) onto the passenger seat of my car.

As I drove up the highway with her, she gazed lovingly up at me: gentle doe-like eyes, slender face, wet black nose, huge sticking-up ears which she will have to grow into, a very round belly (due to worms and most likely lots of Crix), a long tail (with a curled white tip at the end) which wagged and thumped against the box for 90% of the distance. She was having her own drum festival. Now and then she would emit a funny little howl and dance around in her box.

During the funeral someone was going to sing "My Heart Will Go On", using a CD backing track. The person operating the CD pressed the wrong song and "Dancing Queen" by ABBA started playing instead, giving the congregation a good laugh. In honour of this moment, we named the pup "Dancing Queen". This has since been shortened to ABBA.

Since I could not keep her (3 dogs already) and neither could Michele (also 3 dogs), I took her to the home of a friend, Glen, who said he would keep her until I can take her to TTSPCA on Thursday. I would rather not take her there ... but what else can be done? Will have to seek options.

This is a severe problem. People in Trinidad & Tobago are generally not animal lovers and many don't like pot hounds or feel "they are used to the streets!" Most people want "a breed". What is to be done about the recurring problem of stray animals who are being dumped, mistreated, misunderstood, scorned, etc? I'm being serious. This needs to be rectified. What can we do? It is disheartening to pick up stray animals, knowing that finding homes for them is near to being a gargantuan task.

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TLC Newsletter: August 2007

THE LIBRAN CLUB Newsletter

Librans Unite!

The theme of this long-awaited but belated August 2007 Issue is:
WELCOME!


Dear Fellow Librans,

Welcome! Welcome! Welcome! There have been repeated requests to bring the TLC Newsletter out of its dormancy. So said, so done! How can I ignore the pleas of my astrological kindred?

GREAT NEWS!
In keeping with the honourable Libran sense of justice of all, I have decided to post TLC on this blog (instead of sending it only to Librans via e-mail). This is so that:
(i) wandering global Librans may chance upon it
(ii) other signs of the zodiac (who long to be like us) may vicariously partake of our birthright and its many blessings.

HONORARY LIBRANS
As longstanding TLC members will know, in the past we have had many 'honorary Librans' on our mailing list ... i.e. other signs of the zodiac (Aries, Virgo, etc.) who have stepped forward out of the shadows and asked to be members of TLC and receive the Newsletter. Don't be ashamed. This is completely understandable. It must be difficult to stand longingly on the sidelines, watching and listening as your glowing Libran friends talk excitedly about all the great things in store for us on a daily basis. This is why, in the true Librans spirit of fairness, we have always embraced other signs of the zodiac and welcomed them as honorary TLC Members. After all, if you can't be born Libran, you might as well spend your life imagining you are one.

So, welcome, dear readers from other signs of the zodiac. Make yourselves at home!

STAY TUNED!
Despite the fact that August is almost over, I decided to go ahead and publish a newsletter for this month ... simply to create a space in which we can welcome ourselves back into the astrological garden (as it were), emit our fragrances and display our beauty. This issue also gives us the opportunity to welcome those who wish to be honorary TLC members and to let them know that now is the time to sign up!

WHY IS NOW THE TIME TO SIGN UP FOR TLC?
As the year gallops forth like a wild stallion, Librans all over the world begin to feel the insatiable tug of that which can only be described as 'the astrological pinnacle': September 24 - October 23 ... Libra. At this auspicious time, the Universe opens up its floodgates and pours its gifts upon us. Upcoming issues of the TLC Newsletter will celebrate this annual phenomenon.

WHO CAN SIGN UP
1. Any Libran who is reading this and who is not yet a member of The Libran Club, feel free to sign up and become a member by e-mailing me with your e-mail address. I will promptly add you to the existing mailing list. I don't need to list the benefits of being a TLC member. Being Libran is enough of a benefit.

2. Other signs of the zodiac who wish to become honorary TLC members, please do the same: send me your e-mail address and I will add you to the existing mailing list. Once you sign up, you are eligible to also receive cosmic TLC blessings. Those other signs of the zodiac who have become members in the past have fitted in well and enjoyed receiving.

3. If you know of any Librans who may want to be a TLC member, let them send in their e-mail addresses as well. The more the merrier!

Until next time ...

Be Light
Be Love
Be Libran
*
No other signs of the zodiac were hurt during the writing of this newsletter.

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Good thing I began when I did

In all I've sent off three Beginnings and have two more waiting to be posted. Good thing I started on this early, because now things seem to be getting so busy ...

The 5th 'Beginning' I made was from something I found when I was on the grassy cliff in Toco. As we were leaving, walking back to the car, I saw it and picked it up. I like it. It's very simple. Strong yet fragile. Came home and added to it. I think it will travel well and arrive in one piece.

Tomorrow I'm supposed to be going on a day trip to Manzanilla with the Canadian artist who has been occupying my ex studio. I anticipate it will be relaxing and productive day. Always good being out there. Maybe I'll find some interesting things in 'magic Manzanilla' to make the rest of my 'beginnings' with.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Without Worry

Went to visit a spa in Sans Souci with two friends yesterday. The lovely meaning of Sans Souci is 'without worry'.
On the way back, I spotted this lovely grassy cliff overlooking the sea and we made a Dandelion stop.
Taking Dandelion out of her case and preparing to put on the strap.
(Photos of me & Dandy taken by Nish)
Trying to remember one of the beats I learned in the class yesterday.
Messages traveling over the sea.



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Sunday, August 19, 2007

My name is 'Djembe'.


In tassa class
*
Yesterday I had my first drum class with the stick fighters. It's 'all the way' in Sangre Grande, in the Civic Centre - and the only students are a young Indian man (who's been doing in the class for 4 weeks so far) and I. Upon arrival there, I found out that in addition to learning traditional folk rhythms on the djembe , we will also be learning to play tassa. Talk about a rhythmic multi-cultural baptism. The two tassa teachers were there as well. The first 60 - 90 minutes of the class are for djembe and the next 60 - 90 minutes are for tassa.

I only discovered this on the drive up to Grande: turns out that this is an actual 12-week course (a free one) being offered by the Ministry of Culture. At the end of it we will get certificates.

Around midday, I picked up the teacher, Desmond, in Arouca, then we picked up his son, 'Rattas', and drove to Grande. Desmond can't remember or pronounce my name, so he had me stored in his cellular phone as 'Djembe'. That (and sometimes "Doods") is what he has christened me and continues to call me. He is an interesting person - big and solid with a jolly spirit and a dry, rootsy way of saying things ...

On the drive up to Grande he was telling his son (about me): "Ah not letting she go! She stayin' wit we! Ah want alla dem group to see we have a woman playin' wit we!"

And telling me: "Doods, by de time we finish wit yuh, you go be cuttin' dat djembe like nuttin'! Watch and see!"

When we reached to the Grande Civic Centre ...
Desmond: Yuh have Chinee in yuh?
Me: No. Carib.
Desmond (starts up a rhythm on his djembe): Dis is de 'Carib' riddim. Dis is your riddim!!!
Me (looking at his features): You have Carib too?
Desmond: But how yuh mean?! Yuh know de ting self! My mudder fair-fair jes like you and she hair like you too. She a Carib.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dear (brown Executive) Diary

Yesterday I didn't end up doing much of what was on my list. I watched 'Born Into Brothels' and that was about it. The day had a list of its own. I spent much of the late morning into afternoon at my friend's house, as her father had died. After, when I came home, I had intentions of going into Port-of-Spain to drop off some DVDs and then go to Alice Yard to lime, but I started feeling drowsy, so didn't bother ... and was in bed by eight.

Today the intention is (was?) to go to a new drumming class in Sangre Grande, being taught by the stickfighters I drummed with some nights ago. But now that I am awake, I'm wondering if I will ...

Yesterday's list made me realise that my daily life has become a series of lists! I have a list for every day which more or less determines what the day will be. I have a brown diary (Executive's Weekly Minder 2007) into which I write appointments, meetings, events, deadlines, etc. as soon as they come up: (a) so I don't forget and (b) so they don't clash and overlap. Some days are chock full, some have one thing written on them ... and increasingly fewer days are empty. Every day I write down the lists on paper and walk around with the paper, crossing things off as I go along ... otherwise I forget or get side-tracked.

This feels so un-me. When did my life suddenly become a series of lists?

These lists are not full of things I necessarily want or love to do, but things I "have" to do or "should" do (I don't like using the word 'should', but I will use it here) in order to get things done. It all comes with some degree of 'responsibility' and a sense of 'organisation'.

I don't see myself as an "Executive" ... so why do I have an "Executive Minder"? It's one of those diaries people give away around Christmas because they have accumulated too many for the upcoming year. What is the symbolic relevance of organising my day-to-day life in a brown book that's "not me" and which someone gave away because they had too many and didn't need or want it?

I will make my own.

What would life be without that brown office diary and those lists-of-things-to-do? Would I remember anything that I 'have' to do? Most likely I wouldn't. So much is going on now and within the next two months. I would miss 'important' meetings and deadlines. Are they really that important??? Would there be chaos and disorganisation? I don't think so ... and definitely life would change. Daily priorities will shift. I would wake up and have a blank slate in front of me.

What would I do?

(To be continued ...)

This week's Sunday Scribblings is "Dear Diary".

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Friday, August 17, 2007

The Art of Life


Artist,
Here is your canvas sky.
Paint watercolour clouds.
Wash your brushes in the ocean.

In remembrance of my friend Patti's father, Ian Ali:
son, brother, husband, father, friend, artist and more to the many who knew and loved him.

Day of transition from this life: 16th of August 2007.

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Names I've been called recently

Simple pheonetics: E-l-s-p-e-t-h

Two syllables: EL and SPETH

What makes it so hard?


1.
(Upon leaving a message for someone to return my call ...)
Me: Just tell him Elspeth Duncan called, please.
Man on other end: Elfin Duncan?

2.
I had left my name for a friend/associate to call me back. When he did call back, he sounded a bit unsure, trying to figure out who the voice belonged to.

So I said: It's Elspeth.

He laughed and said: You know, I thought it could be you. The note they left for me says "Call Eltezz".

3.
After a meditation session I went to last Saturday evening, I said hello to a group of women. One of them said to me: You look so familiar. What is your name?
Me: Elspeth Duncan
Woman (kind of rolling it on her tongue as if it's a pleasant taste): Ohhhhhhhhh. Elllllspethhh!
Me (pleasantly surprised): You pronounced it!
Woman: Some of us do read novels, you know.

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Today begins ... and then ... (updated in yellow ... and later in day, red)

Detail on a Beginning.
*
1. I've been up for around half an hour now (since about 4:30).
2. Got up and did a very short meditation. (#s 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7 may be the only sure things about today)
3. Now I'm writing this.
4. Then I will go for a walk ... to buy papers at least. (The papers lady was not there as she normally is at this time. Maybe because of the weather?).
5. If I feel like walking further I will walk around the University and back. (Did not go further. The sky is black, the hills are covered in mist and it looks like we're in for some heavy weather today. Maybe because Hurricane Dean is currently ploughing through the Caribbean). It has not rained yet.
6. Return home.
7. Eat breakfast (grapes).
8. Watch Born into Brothels.
9. At some point in the morning I will go to Glen's office (which we use as Greenlight Network's headquarters) to design the tickets for the upcoming Greenlight Network Environmental Concert: 'Live the Pledge' and design some flyers to put with the Greenlight CD in outlets. For those interested, it is so far available at:
(i) Audiocon Music Store and Recording Studio, Long Circular Road, Maraval
(ii) Trinidad Theatre Workshop, Belmont
(iii) Highway Records, Evans Street, Curepe
... soon also to be available at Mode Alive (Valsayn) and Peake's (Cocorite) among other places.
(Did not go by Glen again, since feeling a bit overwhelmed by #10 and want to spend some uninterrupted time with it. So sent the info, logos, etc. to a graphic artist friend who has agreed to do it.)
10. Come back home and try to devise some marketing strategies for I SPY (Anyone has any great ideas?)
11. Later this evening go to Alice Yard.

Those are the main things for today. Other things may happen in between or the things listed may change completely.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Beginning again

A snippet of another Beginning (made yesterday).
*
Even though in yesterday's post I said I would wait until the suggested date (September 1) to send off the Beginnings, I couldn't resist going to the Post Office with two yesterday: this one and this one. They feel like wild birds which can't be kept in a cage.

The other night I was going to a friend's performance. I ended up chatting with someone (another performer) who told me "Girl! You are lapsing!!!" because I have so much music and I am not performing. He was prodding me to begin again.

What he is saying is true. It's been ages since I've had any kind of show or exhibition and I need to start back.

Today I will begin singing lessons. I took about four in the past, but dropped out because I wasn't very disciplined (never practiced at home in between classes) and it didn't make sense. But this time I will make every effort to practice and be serious about it. I think I have a good voice but it is a rough diamond in need of polishing. (Example of my voice). Apart from me on my own realising that my voice could be better/stronger, two comments from the past made me realise that singing lessons would help immensely.

1. A man told me after a performance: "You have great songs! You should get someone who can sing them."

2. One of my ex yoga students, after a performance came up to me looking concerned and said: "You sing so well when you are teaching yoga. What happened tonight?!"

Those were the only two comments I got of that nature. Even if others feel I can't sing, they've never told me to my face. Then there are those who say the exact opposite - that they love my voice. A friend of mine once said that a friend of his was indoors at a bar (the performances were outdoors) and when he heard my voice he ran out to see who 'that haunting voice' belonged to.

I don't let any of it daunt me. You can't please everyone.

But it is time for singing lessons. I want to do justice to the songs by bringing out the real strength and projection of my voice.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Every day is a new Beginning ...

Close up of the second Beginning, which I made yesterday.
*
These Beginnings are exciting ... both making them and knowing that the ones that are being made for me will arrive some day soon. It's like Christmas.

Whereas I posted one overseas yesterday, I think I will wait until the suggested date to send the rest, which I'll make over the next few days.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Life is perfect

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The beginning of Beginnings

When I first got the list of names for the 'Beginnings' project from Chookooloonks, I closed my eyes and chose one name at random. I got M in the USA.

It's a bit sooner than our suggested mail-out date, but yesterday I couldn't resist making my first 'Beginning' and posting it off to M. I don't know her or what her life is like, but I have the feeling that she will receive this on a day that's perfect timing for her.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Beautiful thing


Found
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You opened yourself
Beautiful thing
In the midst of rubbish.

The eyes that saw you
Belong to hands that held you
And feet that walked wet sands
To bring you

To me.

To see.

To be.





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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mystery of the haunted baby

Today some of us went and cleaned up a beach in Balandra. Photo shows my gloves hanging on the tree and Mitch walking by with a large piece of rubbish.

My friends Keshia and Dara drove up in my car. We left earlier than everyone else, as I had to head back up East for a particular time. On the way back we saw this rather life-like baby doll on a stick, 'guarding' a banana and vegetable patch. The doll was obviously functioning as a scarecrow ... I think ... I hope.

It was kind of odd, so we stopped to take a photo of it.

Keshia took a photo of it from the passenger seat where she was sitting. I got out and walked up to it and took this photo. I was then zooming in to get a closer shot when suddenly I heard a noise like a baby crying (one cry). I looked up, thinking it was a large bird. I was not sure because I had never heard such a cry coming from bird, but Keshia then said: "It's a bird."

I positioned my camera again and as I was about to press 'click' the sound like the baby's cry happened yet again. It was a strange kind of "Whaa" noise. I looked at the car, thinking it was Dara making the noise, but it was not. She and K looked as confused as I did.

We decided it must be a goat in the bushes. I was about to press click again when ... "Whaa". It was too uncanny! We all looked at each other with eyes wide open and I turned to walk away.

Keshia suggested: "Try it again ... just to see. If it happens, then it's not a bird or a goat."

I went to press click and the noise happened again. "Whaaa." I got back into the car and we drove off.

Later on we discussed it and arrived at the conclusion that someone might have been hiding in the bushes making that noise to scare us away. Maybe that's their technique for getting rid of vegetable thieves.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rest in Peace

(Source of photo: Mirvish)

Last night I dreamt a friend of mine had died. I have not seen her in years as she now lives in England. In the dream there was a large outdoor funeral, almost like a cocktail gala in a grand garden, with rich guests. It was very much like her. At some point I went to the front where there was a microphone and I asked to share something with the huge crowd. I was just going to talk about her ... but you know how dreams are. They just switch suddenly.

Suddenly I was up on a stage (still in the garden) and the shoes I had on (some shoes I had bought in TO) were making me dance. I had no control over them and the crowd seemed taken aback that I would be dancing so joyfully at a funeral. Without warning (even to myself), the shoes took me gliding and twirling and spinning all over the stage in the long red dress I had on. It felt great. Then I started to show a video which I had on a DVD. In the dream apparently she and I had shot a video one day of ourselves talking and laughing, etc. (things we would normally do) and it had never been seen by anyone. Not even me. The funeral was the first place at which anyone would see it and see her since her death.

Anyway ... the dream went on ... and (in real life now) I will see if the number I have for her in London is still valid and call her today.

Then this morning as I awoke, meditated and opened up my laptop, quite by chance I stumbled across some news ... I didn't realise that Honest Ed Mirvish had died! He passed away on July 11th. Wow ... I remember when I was in Honest Ed's one day (when last in TO) looking at all the photos of him, of the celebrities who knew and loved him, reading about all the amazing things he had done and given to others and marveling that he had lived so long and was still going. It was moving and inspiring. I remember thinking that the reason he had lived so long was because he must have had such a full life .. meaning-full, beauty-full, purpose-full, love-full. I can just imagine what a great, moving and no doubt fun celebration there will be for him on August 12th. Maybe there'll be a huge stage with people dancing in long red dresses and showing videos!

Read about his memorial.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Can't wait to BEGIN!

Karen of Chookooloonks has initiated a postcard swamp (oops, a typo. It's supposed to be 'swap' ... but I'll leave it). I don't mind being swamped by postcards, especially as the theme is BEGINNINGS.

For the postcard swap Karen invited those who were interested to send her our mailing address. (I think about 70-something people in all are taking part). Our addresses were then distributed and sent out and we will each create original postcards or mailable artwork (along the theme of Beginnings) and send it to the people whose addresses we get. This morning I got an e-mail with the addresses of ten people. All are from the USA, one is from Canada.

I love these kinds of things. I love the idea of random people who don't know me/whom I don't know getting something from me (and vice versa) that happens to be just what they may need to see/hear/feel at the moment that they receive it. It's like leaving positive post-it messages in public, only more personal.

The theme (Beginnings) is simple and applicable to everyone. No matter who we are or what we are experiencing in life on any given day, something is always beginning in our lives. Even if it's just the day itself. The idea of these positively intended postcards arriving in the mail, swamping us all with great energy for our own 'beginnings' is empowering.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Devotion and Destruction

I don't know anything in T & T that is like the Temple in the Sea. Temples are synonymous with devotion ... and indeed, when you think of how Sewdass Sadhu (an indentured labourer who came to Trinidad in 1907) built the Temple single-handedly in the sea (because he was forbidden to build it on land), it is clear that devotion went into the Temple even before devotees did. (I will copy and paste the Guardian article at the end of this post, for those of you who don't know what Sewdass went through to build this holy landmark). Now to think that vandals recently desecrated the Temple and destroyed the murtis really raises more than the question: Is anything sacred?
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You may remember my recent collaboration (THE WIND) with Gary and his wife, Susanne. The video footage was shot at the Temple.


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Treasure in the sea

The Temple-in-the-Sea evokes an image of wonder and awe, not so much for its architectural uniqueness but always for the sacrifice that went into the building effort.

A well known site of worship for Hindus and a tourist attraction, the Waterloo temple was built by Sewdass Sadhu, an indentured labourer who came to Trinidad in 1907.

Community and Social Development Minister Joan Yuille-Williams, at a function last Saturday to help Sadhu’s widow repair her house, remembered the struggle to build the temple as she described the man as “a national icon to be emulated as an example of persistence and struggle”.

The story is well-known: Sadhu built his first temple in 1947 on lands owned by the sugar cane company, Tate and Lyle. It was broken down and Sadhu was charged with trespassing and fined £100 or 14 days in prison.

Declaring that if he couldn’t build his temple on the land then he would build it in the sea, Sadhu began the work that would realise his dream. With two buckets and an old lady’s bicycle with a carrier at the back, Sadhu began the laborious and painstaking task of building the temple in the sea.

Five hundred feet into the quiet waters of the Gulf of Paria, it today continues to stand on the very spot Sadhu first built it, if not in the same condition since repair works were carried out with help from the State and private business in 1994.

Over the years, Hindu devotees and tourists alike have made the journey to the Temple-in-the-Sea, once described as the first of its kind in the western world by Dharmacharya Pundit Krishna Maharaj.

Even then, at the 1995 consecration ceremony of the newly rebuilt temple, Pundit Maharaj had noted that the temple has opened up “a treasure box for the country as a whole as, apart from serving Hindus, it could very well be used as a potential for attracting tourists to the country”.

Still others have remarked on the significance of the Temple-in-the Sea, with at least one visiting swami commenting that it must remain a landmark in T&T’s history, and that visitors should have the chance to see it.

It is heartening, therefore, even as we wonder why it took so long, to learn that Government, through Tidco, has decided the site will be a major tourist attraction in central Trinidad.

If nothing else, this decision could help generate the income to maintain the Temple-in-the-Sea so that it endures as strongly as does the story of a man’s faith and determination to fulfill a dream.

(Source: The Guardian Newspaper).

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tyler needs a loving home


The informational piece below was written by a friend of mine who unfortunately has to part with her beloved dog Tyler. She sent it to me along with two photos, hoping that someone loving will be able to give Tyler a good home. Those of us with pets know how hard this must be. If you know of anyone who is worthy of Tyler, let me know and I will give you the relevant contact information.


Tyler is a little over two years old. She grew up in the TTSPCA Tobago and somehow made it over to Trinidad at the beginning of the year. At TTSPCA POS, she was well loved for her personality. She really hated being caged there even though that's what she knew and developed the ability to climb out of her enclosure. Once in a yard however she does not feel the need to practice this art. She is warm and loving, never bit anyone while there (or by me) and would reach out through the bars to passers by and beg to be petted. She loves to stand on her hind legs and hug you and whenever I leave or return to my house the whole neighbourhood knows because of all the respective complaining or welcoming noises she makes. When I took her I really hadn't counted on doing as much traveling as it seems I will be doing very soon. In short, she will not get the attention she craves and deserves. Ideally I think she would be best suited to an older person who wants a loving companion. She is just that. She is a devoted dog. Oh, by the way I guess she can best be described as a 'pothound'. Things like breed don't seem important somehow when you are dealing with people who really love dogs.

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Maintenant je parles ...

Yesterday I made a simple but strategic move and went to register for French classes at the LLC at the University.

First I had to fill out a form, then go and speak to the Director who would assess my proficiency in the language and decide which class I would go into (beginners, intermediate or advanced). I had only done French up to Form 3 in school, but over the years I've had friends who studied French and I would often speak with them.

The Director was a French man with a Polish-sounding name. I sat in his office and he asked me to tell him about myself in French. Surprising even myself, I began to prattle. In French I told him my name, spoke about the things that I do and mentioned that I had learnt French for a while in school but over the years had spoken with friends who studied French, etc.

When I was 'finis', he said to me: "Oh, you are wayyyyy too advanced for the beginners' class. I will put you in 2A." He told me that at times it may be challenging, but: "I think you have it all stored within and now is the time to bring it back out."

As I left the building, after having paid my fees, I felt excited ... as if life was suddenly ablaze with colours and possibilities which I could not yet see, but could feel. Not just because of 'French' per se, but because of the deeper purpose behind it all.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Webgrl strikes again

Because she knows I don't like memes, Webgrl tagged me again last week.

1. first, post these rules
2. post 8 random facts about yourself

3. write a blogspot about those facts

4. tag and name 8 more bloggers

5. tell them that they're tagged at their blog

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8 random facts about myself:
(i) I am 5 ft 7.5 inches tall
(ii) Often when I first see people's hands and feet I find myself quickly counting to see if they have more than five digits.
(iii) I never got all of my wisdom teeth.
(iv) I rock my right foot from side to side to fall asleep.
(v) I love one-a-day Cod Liver oil capsules and sometimes need to restrain myself from eating more than one a day. I love slowly biting the capsule and feeling the oil squirting out, then chewing the rubbery capsule casing. I also love the coddy taste.
(vi) Taste is important, but I enjoy or feel for most food and drinks based more on their texture (rough, creamy, crunchy, etc.).
(vii) A long drive (minus traffic) is one of the most relaxing things for me (whether I am driving or being driven). When I was a baby my parents used to take me for drives to put me to sleep.
(viii) _______________________________.

Now I'm supposed to tag eight bloggers. Whoever wants to do it, do it.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Close ... yet far

Well ... the two guesses from Karen and Kelly were close ... and yet so far. I am not back in TO yet ... but rather went to TObago for the second day of the Muhtadi Drum Festival. (Place beginning with T = Tobago, familiar faces = Muhtadi and some of the people who drum, festivities = drum festival)
This troupe from Toronto had the crowd mesmerised. The female MC (who was very amusing) bawled out to TT women: "Allyuh feel you could wine? Well look what real wine is!"
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Unlike the festival in TO which was in a park, this stage was near to the beach. There were local players as well as those from TO and other parts of the world. The entire festival ended with a blessing of the drums - a passionate and rhythmic procession from the performance area to the beach, with drums playing, everyone dancing and (in one case literally) catching the spirit. Unfortunately I only took one or two shots with my still camera because I was too busy trying to deal with my video camera which, after years of trusted hard work, is seeing its last days.

All of the performances were enjoyable, but this one from India was my personal favourite (the MC announced him as Mr. Channa) . To his side you will see the hang, a Swiss instrument which many people had not seen before. It sounds like a pan but he played it like a tabla. Hypnotic. (See and hear it in the video below, shot on my digital still camera).


The sequence just after the hang shows him on some drums in the middle of a jam session which followed the drum blessing and ended the festivities.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Early morning

Blogging tonight, since I am leaving very early tomorrow morning for the airport. Clues to where I'm going below. Guess correctly and win a prize.

1. Begins with T ...
2. Familiar faces (from May - early June) meet again ...
3. Festivities

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Decision


I decided to let go,
Not knowing if I would fall or fly.


This week's Sunday Scribblings is DECISION.


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Friday, August 03, 2007

Surprize!

Yesterday I got an unexpected phonecall from the president of the National Drama Association. He told me he would like me to come to the Cacique Awards. (You could say the Caciques are the TT version of the Tony Awards). When I asked him why, he reminded me of a script I had submitted to earlier this year to the Drama Association's original theatre script competition. I had quite forgotten about this, since once we had submitted, time passed and we didn't hear anything about it ... until yesterday.

Last night they were to announce the results. I dug out some black (always safe for 'formal') and went with my sister Vanessa as my guest. Halfway through the programme the President of the Association made his speech in which he mentioned the original script competition. He then announced that "four scripts have been chosen for further development" and called out the names: Theresa Awai, Kevin Baldeosingh (although they kept calling him 'Kelvin'), another writer (forgive me for not remembering the name) and me (name also pronounced incorrectly, but I'm used to that).

We all went up on stage and were presented with cheques. Thankfully we didn't have to make any speeches. And that was it. A short and sweet ceremony ... and one of the day's unexpected surprises.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sunset drumming

Ended up going drumming yesterday after all. The rain had stopped and my friend Rosanna agreed to come with me. Took my two drums (Dandelion and Love Drum), went to pick her up and we went to the Foreshore.

The sea was unusually brown (form the heavy rains), unusually choppy (the Foreshore is normally like glass) and fringed with a disgusting amount of rubbish! Plastic bottles, styrotex and other strange floating things that are not supposed to be there were there. No doubt the heavy rains had flushed this garbage down from the clogged drains and canals. We agreed that even if we had a lot of garbage bags, we would not be able to pick it all up.

We drummed and sang ra ma da sa, then we just drummed, maybe for about an hour. It was cool and misty and, despite the rubbish, the location felt open and peaceful.

The sea was before us, rolling in and playing with the plastic on the shore. In the distance, the rapidly growing city skyline of Westmoorings choked the horizon. Bizarre how built up POS and environs are getting! Just as we were ending up, the setting sun poked through the grey clouds and sent a path of gold light towards where we were. By the time we drove off, the whole sky seemed to have opened, the grey had cleared and puffs of soft bright pinks and oranges and streaks of gold were everywhere. Perhaps our drumming had emancipated the sky from its greyness.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Celebrating Emancipation in my own ways

I just returned from picking up my plane ticket. I had to collect it by tomorrow for the latest, but it felt symbolic to get it today, Emancipation Day. Flying, crossing water, freedom.

I was talking to a friend on the phone this morning and we were discussing the fact that Divali seems to embrace everyone and even people who are not Indian are wearing Indian clothes, lighting deyas, going for drives to 'see the lights', exchanging sweets, cooking curry, being invited to dinner at Hindu friend's houses, etc. Emancipation Day doesn't have that feeling. The whole nation doesn't seem as involved. Normally I just do my own personal symbolic things for public holidays.

I was looking through the papers and saw an Emancipation ad with the lovely image of a dandelion (one of my favourite things). Immediately it struck me - it's Emancipation Day, people are drumming downtown and I have not even touched Dandelion! I felt to go to down to the sea and drum ... but the more the merrier, so I called several friends and invited them: 4 p.m. @ the Foreshore, by the sea, if you don't have a drum, bring a bucket.

Some couldn't make it, some were not home ... but three of us are definitely going (Dandelion, congas and a bucket) ... and some promise to 'drop by' on their way to or from somewhere else. However, today it's black outside and pouring with rain. Hopefully this will clear up by 4 p.m.! If not, I'll just be drumming at home.

1st August

This year is flying. It is August 1st already. Time has no traffic signals, stop lights, policemen, speed bumps. Soon it will be my birthday again. Then Christmas, then another year to go speeding ahead.

Today is Emancipation Day 2007. I didn't realise T & T was the first country in the world to declare a national holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery. Slavery still exists though.

On Emancipation Day I tend to think of what I would 'free' or let go of in my own life.

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