Saturday, 28 December 2013

Tens of Thousands of Words

Road trip!!!

Ahh, yes. The sound of music to a vacationer's ear; a lovely note on which to end this year.

I'm happy to have shared these posts with you in 2013. Glad you took the time to read what I wrote. #writeorsuffocate

The road trip in December took us to Mystic Mountain Rain Forest, St. Ann, Jamaica.  It's easy to understand why folks take dozens, if not hundreds of pics, of a breathtaking view! It's an effort to capture "unphotographable beauty". :-)

The staff at Mystic Mountain were excellent! They helped make the day wonderful and unforgettable.

These pics say tens of thousands of words. Hope you enjoy 'em. Better yet, hope you go!

All the best to you and yours for 2014!

Mount Rosser, St. Ann

Mount Rosser, St. Ann

Mount Rosser, St. Ann

Folks riding the Sky Explorer, Mystic Mountain, St. Ann

End of the line - or the beginning of the next!

The Look-out Tower, Mystic Mountain Rain Forest, St. Ann

Jamaica's motto - "Out of Many, One People" - as it appears on the Coat of Arms

Flora and Fauna in Jamaica

The next few pics: Jamaica's Maritime History

Bobsledding and such


The Hummingbird - The National Bird of Jamaica
The Hummingbird - "Doctor Bird"

View from Mystic Mountain Rain Forest, St. Ann
Crystal clear water in the pool at Mystic Mountain

Bobsledder on track

Long water slide - for adults and children - ending in adjacent pool

Bobsledder on track

Sled - pool - slide - view

Mainly for the children...

Visit already! 

Humming Bird

Humming Bird 

View from the Look-out Tower - looking west

Riding the Sky Explorer - 700 ft above sea level - on the way back down

Canopy of trees

A gorgeous day for sailing

Las' lick!


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Year of the Tomato

This year was The Year of the Tomato. Before you start racking your brain and doubting your knowledge of world and cultural affairs, please note that this title was solely attributed to my home. See, I had tried growing tomatoes for the first time last year. I feel compelled to add a bit of background here. Last year summer, I stopped in at Walmart to purchase a packet or two of seeds - in late July! The Walmart Associate seemed just a tad annoyed that I would ask for seed packets in late July. He let me know that they were no longer available or some such thing. 

But, I was intent on planting. So, Plan B. I got home and made a visit to my fridge. I retrieved two of the store-bought tomatoes and sliced and diced them. I then prepped the soil in my planter box and got to planting. The long and the short? The frost came just as the first blossom did. With a heavy sigh, I uprooted the foot-long plants. They were lush and green but getting by solely on looks was not cutting it. I promised myself to "try again next year."

Last spring, in haste, I made my way back to Walmart - in MARCH! I got all the accouterments for soil preparation and seeds/seedling planting. At the end of April, wanting to follow the instructions to a T, we finally got to planting. (I invited my 4yo niece to participate, thinking that she would enjoy making this journey; seeing her handiwork come to fruition and so on and so forth.) My sis took some pics of the "then," as I had a really good feeling we would have something luscious to capture in the "now." We used the bio-degradable seedling boxes - the ones that you simply stick into the soil outside/in planter box, when the seedlings are a bit grown. I gave my niece her tray of boxes and I kept a few for myself. 

Imagine my horror when, one evening, about three weeks later, (my seedlings having not yet burst forth, but, in an act of clumsiness), I knocked my trays off the work table. This, coupled with the fact that my niece's seedlings had started shooting up, was too much for me to bear. Tears came to my eyes. Why? Why my seedlings? Not to say I was wishing such ill-fortune for my niece's lot, but, after all that effort, I felt the little tomatoes had me beat. I pouted, stooped and scooped up the dirt and poured it back across the trays, refilling each. In the beginning, they had been carefully planted - two seeds in each. Now, I just didn't care!

About a week later, finally! A burst of white and green. I transferred them about two weeks after that, into the planter box. Little did I know the journey was just about to begin. For the next two and a half months, I watered those plants - and waited; talked to them - and waited; nurtured their soil - and waited; infused their water with Miracle-Gro now and then - and waited; tied them to sticks - and waited; changed to longer sticks - and waited. The plants were healthy and big and a few of them were getting all sort of entangled with their neighbours. Friends and family would come by and remark on how lovely they looked. And I agreed. I just wanted to add, "But, I'm not growing tomato plants! I'm growing tomatoes!" Where were the tomatoes? Why were they taking so long my goodness gracious meeee!  It got to where I just told myself that I was just interested in seeing where all this would lead. Even though I could not remember how long the back of the packet had said it would take for them to bear, there was no way on earth - except in the planter box at my home, apparently - should it take this long! But, I kept at it.

I remember it as if it were yesterday. I got home with the intention of transplanting some of them. Maybe they needed even more sunlight? I decided to dig up the ones not-so-entangled and move them to a garden area downstairs. Lo and behold! What did I see? The first blossom! I did my happy dance right there! Then, like any normal Twitter user (a probable oxymoron for another time), I tweeted a picture! You would not believe the joy that welled up in my bosom. Sheer joy. That was about July 10 (as if!) It was July 10. Then came another period of more talking to them - and waiting; watering them - and waiting, etc. On July 30, I spotted the first fruit - or three. Tweeted. I kept nurturing; they enjoyed an occasional shower blessing and more fruits kept coming. When they grew to, what I thought was, an appropriate size, I grew impatient. Again. On August 31, another pic. Another tweet. Another question: "Any day now, ripe?" 

By this time, this felt like a roller-coaster journey. But, I knew I could not hurry the process. I simply had to do my part and Mother Nature would do hers. Come a mere four days later, I spotted the first ripe tomato! The usual: happy dance and tweet. And, "Thank You, God!" I also sent pics to family members and friends. Sheer joy. Not to brag, or anything, but these were some sweet tomatoes! I gave away a few dozens to family and friends and had the pleasure of gracing my meals with my home-grown tomatoes.

Fall came. Many of the plants dried up - the circle of life - but, even then, a few fruits were still coming. I just kept reaping until the frost came.

In this The Year of the Tomato, I learned quite a bit about myself - and my writing journey.

The Voice
Speaking of journeys, this is the morning after the night before Tessanne Chin was announced the winner of NBC's The Voice. I recall reading something she'd said about this being a dream come true; a remarkable place to be on her journey; giving thanks to God for "exceeding abundantly above..." Loved that! Indeed, most dreams do not come true overnight. They take work and commitment - and it doesn't hurt to have strong family support. Congrats again, Tessanne! You are an inspiration to fellow Jamaicans, and people all over the world. I/we wish you all the very best on your new adventure. #WhatARide!


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Mandela's Death is All About Me. And You. And Him.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela died last week Thursday, the fifth of December. Mr. Mandela was the main icon of the anti-apartheid revolution and one of the greatest fighters for freedom in modern times. Much has been written about his life and, upon his death, his legacy and impact and inspiration. It is a universally accepted truth that, indeed, the world has lost one of the greatest human beings ever.

It's All About Me
I held Mr. Mandela in high esteem. I recall the moment in Jamaica when friends and I heard he was released from prison in February, 1990. The clanging of pot covers, shouts of joy from hither and yon, and music filled the air - for a long time. At the time, I could not yet wrap my head around the enormity of the significance that his stand, his imprisonment and, then, his release, meant. After all, many of the historic moments were yet to follow. Still, I knew in my own heart I admired this man who stood for something, for so long, against so many strong and unrelenting odds. To overcome all of that, to the point of presidency of South Africa; to the point of continuing to work on behalf of others (even when he had done far more than enough by then), and to the point of inspiring countless lives, all that was a demonstration of an enviable measure of strength, resilience, persistence, humility, graciousness, forgiveness and kindness that few possess. And that is what moved me about his life: He was put through the furnace of affliction and he came out as pure gold.

I honestly don't wish to regurgitate everything we've seen in newspapers from around the globe and in books and so on. (The Toronto Star carried a timeline.) Information is now at our fingertips. What is not at our fingertips; what may not be touched on screen, is the impact and inspiration he was, just by doing what he did with his life. For me, he made the world a better place. He certainly left it better than the way he found it. And, I am so very thankful that our lifetimes intersected. True, I was saddened on hearing the news, but, after quick acceptance, gratitude took over.

It's All About You
There can be, and will ever be, only one Nelson Mandela. You are not him. I imagine that's the balancing act some people, now faced with the breadth and depth of the life of Mr. Mandela, have suddenly found themselves trying to manage. Of course, Mr. Mandela was around for a long time. For some people, the length of time he'd spent in prison was equal to or greater than how long they'd been alive. Since his passing, however, and the fact that news outlets everywhere have been at pains constantly to feed us with all things Mandela, it may be hard for some not to feel overwhelmed, under-valued and unfulfilled. All of a sudden, those folks are thinking that their not-perfect-but-ok life has taken a turn for the inadequate. I'd have one thing to say to them: Stop it. Ok, more than one thing. Remember that bit I'd written a few months ago, encouraging us to arise and shine? Funny, the excerpt by Marianne Williamson is usually attributed to, you guessed it, Nelson Mandela. I saw a tweet with the misappropriated attribution just yesterday. The truth of it still holds, however. And, how fitting that the same sentiment is used to reinforce the point I'm making:

From her book, A Return to Love, this is Marianne’s piece, the excerpt popularly known as: Our Deepest Fear.  (And, no, I don’t know her like that, but I don’t think she’d mind.)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Hey, you are who you are. And, you are neither called, nor expected, to be anyone else. Shall I start quoting Dr. Seuss up in here?

Today you are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you. ~ Dr. Seuss

In the light of Mr. Mandela's life and death and legacy, it would be remiss of you to miss the point of his life. I'm positive that there are many lessons to learn from him. I found this AP report of athletes paying tribute to him particularly heartwarming. But, I believe the essence of his life was this: Do for others. That was it. Do for others. It may be looked at and dissected to reveal: Do something. Stand for something. Help others. Forgive. Be kind. And, so on and so forth. I believe that if we start feeling small in his light, we dishonour his memory and prove ourselves to be bad students. Let it not come true in our own lives - that we learn from history we do not learn from history. (So it has to repeat itself, is the idea.) Let's take the torch and continue the work. It will be alright, in the end. And, as that saying goes, since everything is not yet alright, I can assure you, it is not yet the end.

It's All About Mr. Mandela
After all - and we're not in any way deifying the man - he was one of the great ones. We cannot deny that there was something about him and in him; something that coursed through his veins and heart that made him continue the fight. He deserves the kudos and the accolades and the honours and the esteem and the pedestal and and and. Yes, he had support. But, he, himself, had to - and did - make the choice not to give up. And, after coming forth as pure gold, how magnanimous he was toward his former oppressors; how he lived the exemplary life of forgiveness and kindness. I like that quote from the AP article: "If I hate, I would not be a free man anymore." So thankful for his life and what he did with it.

Remember, remember, the fifth of December. What a life on which the sun set that day.

Walk good, Mr. Mandela.


Thursday, 28 November 2013

You Can't Mess This Love Up

I hope when true love blindsides you, it will find you in the best of health - emotional health, mental health and a healthy approach to life.

There is no fear in love.

Be happy.

Be glad for those who are genuinely happy for you. Be understanding of those who are not. Be thankful you're able to tell them apart.

Have you waited so long, when true love finally arrives (that day when your ship comes in and you're not at the airport) you're almost afraid to touch it, much less embrace and enjoy it? Touch it. Embrace it. Enjoy it. You'll think if you squeeze it too tightly, it might break. You can't break this love up.

You may catch yourself thinking that, at some point, you're gonna do something stupid; that it's only a matter of time. Ever get that? Stop thinking. Stop over-thinking. You are who you are and how you are. You have been, and are being, true to yourself. You are the you with whom he/she has fallen in love. All your persnicketyness and what-nots have been duly accounted for. Finally, someone who also turns the hangers facing in. Honey? You can't mess this love up.

Have you heard the one about not wanting to go to sleep because reality is now better than your dreams? Now you'll know what the heck they were talking about. (Brownie points if you now wake up smiling. Uh-huh.)

Oh! And the one about when you finally meet the one, you'll understand why it never worked out with anyone else? It will finally make perfect sense as the pieces fall into place.

Oh! Oh! And the one about there being somebody, somewhere, who's wondering what it would be like to meet someone like you? Well, honey, they are about to find out!

Whaddya know, those who cared about you were right all along. You'll find it's effortless and beautiful. You can't make this love up.

And, when he/she tells you, you are perfect, just smile knowingly and say, "No, we're just right for each other."

You will remember the adage: "If a relationship has to be a secret, you should not be in it." And, you will be glad you took heed.

Vulnerability. Yeeeaah. About that. Here's the thing: Can you  trust that person with yours? And, as they learn your imperfections, do they love you anyway? Yes? Then, beyond the jones, you've got a good thing going on.

Does being with him/her inspire you to be a better human being? 

Is the default set to repair or replace?

What of your core beliefs and values? Hey, "Opposites attract but likes stay together."

Have the difficult conversations. You must.


No games.

Have at least one song that no one else in the world knows you both listen and dance to. Together.

Have a "This is our song!" song you can dance to - or not - in public.

The whole of your happiness together should be greater than the sum of each happiness apart.

My Marlena. Of all the sentiments expressed in that love story "Water for Elephants", that's all I remember. My Marlena. Whose my will I be? (Sit still my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall.) Heh heh.

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:11-12) Love the way that's put.

God is holding your heart. And He has promised to restore to you the years that the locust had eaten.

Behold His Something New! It is indeed Something Beautiful and Something Far Better. And, yet, would you be willing to give it all up for Him? Yes? Know that He honours and rewards that faith.

Stand still.

Sit still.

Be still.

Kiss with your eyes closed. Always. And, when you do, nothing else in the world should matter - at all.

Make love with wild abandon as you honour the divinity in each other.

Love thickly. Don't be afraid of being loved thickly in return. Didn't see that coming, did you?

Me neither.


Monday, 18 November 2013

Love and Other Beautiful Ideas

Even just the idea of love is a beautiful idea. I'm not making this love up.

Don’t be afraid to know yourself. And, when you discover the beautiful person you are, love yourself.

Treat yourself to some tough love. What advice would you give to someone you love facing a similar situation? Take that.

Forgive. But, learn the lesson.

If you won’t be happier being with him/her, then, what’s the point?

Age is just a number. The question is: How old is your soul? 

Laugh a lot. Really live. Grow in wisdom. Travel light.  

There will be pressure on the journey. It’s not pleasant, but it is necessary for growth; for your better – whether you like it or not.

If you haven’t yet experienced the joy of a relationship in which someone is serious about loving you, that’s okay. Do not compromise on how you love. Many say it comes when you least expect it. And, it will be effortless – and beautiful.

People change. People don’t change. Both are true.

Don’t let others tell you how to feel. Convictions are from the heart. If you’re not going with the flow, there’s a reason. Identify it. Be honest and clear in your response. 

Do not be afraid.

What you’re able to live with is your call. If you can stand the toilet seat up, do. If can stand fogged mirrors after a hot shower, do. It really is your call.

Show up. Apply yourself.  Follow through. 

Love thickly.  

Kiss with your eyes closed. Always.


Friday, 8 November 2013

Love Always Finds A Minute

There’s a difference between someone who makes you feel like just another one and someone who makes you feel like you’re the one.

Don’t hanker after someone God is taking you from. Don’t run away from someone He’s pulling you toward. No fear. It’s new. It feels strange. But, it’s something far better.  

One may make you feel butterflies in your tummy. But, does s/he make you feel butterflies in your tummy and help make your tummy butterflies fly in V-formation?

Fool me once. Shame on you.
Fool me twice. Shame on me.
Fool me thrice. I must like it when you “fool” me.

Happened more than twice? Followed by, “That’s not really how I am”? No, that’s really how s/he is. Really.

A man who does not keep his word is hoping one day to become a man. A woman should keep her word, too. Some things you don't see coming. Life happens. Communicate.

With myriad media to communicate, if s/he does not call, visit or write/text you, s/he does not want to. From the days of pen & paper to today, love/interest has always found a way to be impressed upon another’s heart.

Do not depend on love/interest to be "understood", or assume that it will be. Love/Interest is action.

If someone does not want to stay, for Heaven's sake - and yours - let them go. No loneliness feels as bad as being miserable hurts.

No matter how busy the day, love/interest always finds a minute to say, "Hi."

Be kind. But, don’t be a doormat.

Trust your gut. No gut? Develop a gut. Trust it.

Some things take guts - your heart-gut and your brain-gut.

Love thickly.

Kiss with your eyes closed. Always.


Monday, 28 October 2013

Can We Do It About Bones?

After giving some thought to today's post, I decided to let my niece, KiKi, write the blog. That is, I'd interview her, and the post would not only be about her, but by her. You might call it her first blog entry via dictation. :-)  

She came on the line this evening quite excited. Her mother had given her the heads-up. 

"Aunty, I'm gonna help you write your blog! Can we do it about bones?"

"What about bones? Do you think you have enough to tell  me about bones?"


"Okay. Sure."

"Say, "Begin.""

"Oh, okay. Begin please."

"If you didn't have bones in your body then you'd just fall down. Wherever the place you are in, you would just fall down. Your whole body would fall down if the bones were out of your body. If you were pretending and you were galloping like a horse, then if somebody took out all of your bones, you would just fall down! Like this!"

We're not moving on until you imagine the fall. Lol!

Done? Okay. Good.

She continued, "And guess what? You know what? You know what? It's guessing time! What protects your body?"

In my defence, I was tired. "Umm, your muscles and your flesh?"

"No. Your ribs!"

"Ok. Great. So, what else do you want to talk about? What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"I would like to be a teacher!"


"Yes! I would like to be a teacher."


"You know why?"

"No, I don't."

"Do I have to tell you why?" 

"Yes." (Given that this was an interview and all.)

"When you are a teacher, you have lots of kids. But your kids might be in a different class."

I'm not sure what the grand idea behind this was. Whether she was looking forward to not teaching her own kids... I got nothin'.

I asked, "Is there anything else that is appealing to you about being a teacher?"

"When you're a teacher, you are helping kids learn and read and do their numbers. That's what happens when you're in SK. But when you're just new to your school, that makes you a JK. You do your shapes. The parents wait in the hall to wait to talk to the teachers. The kids get to go in the classroom -"

"You mean to see what the classroom is like?" I interjected.

"Yeah. If they like the classroom, they stay."

"I don't think they have a choice."

"No. They do not have a choice! They do not have a choice."

"Did you learn about bones today?"

"Let me tell you about my childhood!"

Did she just totally ignore the interviewer's question? It reminded me of a story I'd heard back in high school. A student was preparing for her French history orals and practiced everything to talk about the Princes of France. When she got to the room, the examiner let her know that the topic was about the Kings of France. She replied, "The Kings of France were great...but let's talk about the Princes!" Lol! I love that joke!

Anyway, KiKi continued, "When I was just zero years old, I was just little. I was just a little, little, little baby. And, I was from Jamaica."

"Is there anything special that you remember from your childhood?"

"I was two years old in Canada."

I think we're on the same page.

"I'll tell you something about winter."

Apparently, we're not. "Sure, go ahead."

"I used to like winter. But, now when winter is coming, I hear Mommy, [in her best impersonation complete  with faux Jamaican accent and her mother in the same room] "I don't like di winter. I want summer; I don't like di winter, I want summer." I guess she wants to go back to Jamaica. What I like about winter? I was building a snowman. I said to myself, "Why is there so many [sic] snow?" And then I was digging and I saw grass. It was winter, but the grass was dead."

"Uh-huh. Uh-huh."

"Can I tell you about my holiday?"

"Of course."

"My favourite holiday is Christmas! You know why?  Because of the beautiful lights on the trees. And, Jesus was born." 

Then, I kid you not, Kiki broke into song: 

"There's lights on the tree! 
Lights on the tree! 
Hey ho cheerio,
There's lights on the tree!
And presents are on the way! 
The presents are on the way! 
Hey ho cheerio, 
The presents are on the way!"

I composed myself enough to tell her that was a great place to wrap up, and I thanked her kindly for her time. 

"You're welcome, Aunty! Muahh!"

It was a pleasure to dedicate this month to KiKi. She is a delight to be around. I'm also thankful to her parents - my sis and BIL - who share her with me; with us!

Love you, sweetie! #FeelTheLove


Friday, 18 October 2013

Elmo's Hurt!

Today is Kiki's birthday! She's Five. Uh-huh. Happy Birthday, Kiki! 

She had a great day. I stopped by after work, and she told me so. :-) She said she was smiling a lot when her classmates sang her Happy Birthday. I can only imagine how she was beaming.

The story I want to share happened some time after she turned Three. She had just got an Elmo toy and he was all the rage. Elmo this; Elmo that. As a matter of fact, during the Elmo years, occasionally, one of her aunts would be dubbed her "best friend, ever!" Then, without warning, we'd learn that Elmo had regained his spot as her BFF. Crestfallen much? Nah. We lived and we learned.

On this particular evening, I stopped by to pay her a visit. Maybe I was visiting with her mom as well. That part is a blur. Lol! More often than not when I visited with them, it was mainly to visit with my niece. She has a charming little brother now - another story altogether. So, anyway, we were all there chit-chatting away. Kiki then started asking for Elmo. We shifted a bit in the couches, but, he didn't turn up. She looked around some more, then spotted a piece of him - maybe it was his arm or something - "protruding, as it were" (a line from Monk) - from under my thigh. Apparently, I had been sitting on her BFF all this time. Flabbergasted, I quickly eased myself off Elmo and handed him to her. 

Well, I was hardly prepared for what came next. 

"Aunty! You were sitting on Elmo!" 
"Sorry. I didn't mean to - "
"And, you've hurt him! Elmo's hurt!"
"Really Kiki? Elmo's hurt?
"Yes, and he's bleeding!"
"What? How do you know he's bleeding?

[Wait for it.] 

[Wait for it.]

"Because, see? He's red all over!"

Even as I type this, I'm laughing! Of course, by this time, I spotted the little smile around her mouth as we cracked up. This happened during that period when we always had to reassure her, whenever we laughed at her funny stuff, that we were laughing with her, not at her. But, on this occasion, she knew she had said something funny. I pulled her to me, "Come here, Missy! You know Elmo can't bleed!" Her mom and I told her she had made a really funny joke and we were definitely going to share it. And we did!

Hope it made you chuckle. I'm still cracking up!

(Photo credit: Scenic Reflections)


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Feel the Love

You may have oft read my stories in which I share a little about my niece. Kiki turns Five this month! #Getouttatownandtakeabus! I pause at that because, well, the time has passed by so quickly. Isn't that something? I'm not sure what, exactly, but, it's...something. And, because turning Five is, as she would say, "a big deal, actually!" I'd like to do this month's posts in recognition of her; in celebration of her life and the joy she brings. And the trip she is! Oh, and, "actually," is her latest flavour-of-the-month. "Actually, Auntie, it's like this..." or  "That's what I was thinking, actually." She finishes that off with raising her eyebrows and nodding her head. Actually.

One of my favourite recollections is of that afternoon when she was egging herself on to get into the car without help. Her little chant to her two-year-old self, "Go, Kiki! Go!" took on a life of its own in our family. I shared it in a blog and in other spaces as well. It was, and still is, truly inspiring.

Two Christmases ago, we'd all got together to have dinner at my home. We had earlier carried out the great tradition of baking a few Jamaican Christmas fruit cakes. Kiki was in the middle of the preparation. Her dad lifted her up to help pour the fruits in the blender; she helped to lick the bowls - a sub-tradition in the great tradition - and, she later was, understandably, very eager for the cakes to be done. Over and over, she asked for the oven light to be switched on so she could peek in. I think we simply kept it on, after a while.

The plan was to have dinner then have the cake for dessert - of course. We took turns explaining the sequence of events. She appeared to have understood. As soon as we cleared the table, she was back at it. "Can we please taste the cake?" We tried again. This time, we explained that, as we had just finished dinner, we'd wait just a bit for dessert. To this, Kiki took centre stage in the living room and, in her assertive tone, replied, "If we don't taste the cake, we're not going to be able to taste the cake!"

We got it. We got it. Funny how some of life's clearest answers can come from the mouths of...toddlers. Whenever we recall that afternoon, her declaration still causes us to nod our heads in agreement. It's true. "If we don't taste the cake, we're not going to be able to taste the cake!"

On another occasion, shortly after she had begun learning to identify letters of the alphabet, she came home from school and was recounting the highlight of that day. As her mom told me, the conversation went something like:

"So, daddy, Meghan and me were at the slide - "
"Meghan and I."
"Meghan and I? But daddy, I am not a letter!?" 

That one still cracks me up!

A few weeks ago, her mom and I (umm, let's move on) took her and her little brother out for the evening. At some point, as we sat next to each other, she reached over for my hand, and gently kissed my palm. Then, in fluid movement, she lifted my palm, held it against my cheek and, in a soft tone, she went, "Feel the love, Auntie. Feel the love." Of course, she held out the "looove."  Lol! I was so touched. And, proud of her. She had come up with this show of affection all on her own and it was something that could be our thing. You know, like the fingers-down-face in Face Off but without, well, the face off? It was beautiful. Next, she had me kiss her palm before she placed it against her cheek. It was my turn, "Feel the love, Kiki. Feel the love."

She is a joy to be around. We are blessed to have her in our lives. And, yes, we're feeling her love. Pretty sure she's feeling our love, too.


Saturday, 28 September 2013

"Dear God, I Really F'd Up!"

This needs to be said at the beginning. No. I have not lost it. And, no, I am not losing it. But, before I get into what brought me to that title, I'll share a few quotes that have made an impression on me.

"I don't do performance poetry, so the words matter." - Elka, poet 

"I may already be dead, just not typed." - Harold Crick, Stranger Than Fiction

"He wooed her with words and he won her. He had nothing but words to woo her." - Lorna Goodison, poet

"Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that's the whole art and joy of words." - C.S. Lewis

Words work. Use them. That's a belief I have long held. So much so, I started a blog in about 2004 under that title. But, I did not maintain it. It had not started "hurting bad enough" yet. I like expressing myself in writing. I like to read and widen my vocabulary. I like to meet upon new words and spend the next day working them into sentences. I have a Dictionary app on my phone and the web site is saved in my favourites. Of course, I do consult other sources, but, for a quick go to, it serves the purpose. I suppose it's every writer's or communicator's dream to use the right words at the right time. 

Ahh yes. I do have a love for words. Remember that scene in Patch Adams where the elderly woman had the fantasy about being immersed in a pool of spaghetti? That's me. Except, it's not spaghetti - or food of any kind. It's words. I have a fantasy about being immersed in a pool of words. How that would work, or look, exactly, I am not quite sure. Not thinking alphabet soupish, though. No. The words wouldn't be in a liquid. The words would be the liquid; have sufficient molecular density and create the buoyancy needed. And, every so often, I'd string just the right ones together to make the perfect sentence. Then, one perfect sentence after another...

I've experienced the discomfort and comfort of certain words and terms. Words intrigue me as they strut their denotative and connotative meanings. But, they do not scare me. I do understand that given different contexts such as cultural and social ones, the use of certain words - and the words themselves - may carry particular connotations, subliminal messages, subtexts, and the like. Certainly, if I am not around to explain why I used a particular word weighted with a generally-accepted meaning, it would be interpreted using that meaning. My decision not to use a particular word in a piece of writing, as much as I believe it would hit the nail on the head, stems from that consciousness: Would my use of the word signal a shift in conviction or belief? That sort of thing. Given my broughtupsy in a Christian home and as a result of my own Christian walk, there are words that I do not use. It's funny, really. Not funny haha but funny peculiar. The two things I am most passionate about - my walk with Christ, and my writing - have never had me conflicted. Perhaps that is because I see the one - the writing  - as a medium for the more-important other. What has caused some angst, though, is whether I have been brave enough to say what may be unpopular, but what I feel a conviction to say.

That brings me to the title. I love - as in, love - the fact that I can go to God about anything. I pray to Him about any and everything. The other day, someone hurt me. Bad. I went to God in tears. I was angry and I was sad. After weeks had passed, with nothing near forgiveness yet in my heart, I contacted that person. In short, I received what I referred to as a template apology. Y'know the kind that says stteo: "I'm sorry I offended you..." More time passed. I contacted again. This time, my language was stronger as I said how I really felt. I referred to the half-assed apology and went on about how what was done was unbelievable, especially given...everything! Then came the interruption, "I f'd up, and I'm sorry." Well, y'know, I cried. I had to pull into a parking spot - and I cried. Of course, my friends know I do not use that kind of language. But, I accepted it and, dare I say, appreciated the honesty of it very much. It touched me. The choice of word meant that he meant it. And, I knew that that was the sincere apology.

It came to me sometime after, that a person who comes to God desperately seeking His help; to be rescued by Him, and pleads, in brokenness, "Oh God, I f'd up, and I'm sorry," does not turn God off one bit. I believe that if God sees the heart - and He does - He does not recoil from the word, but draws that person closer because of the heart. I believe that, in time, in a new walk with Christ - and with the understanding of the social or cultural or whatever other -al connotation attached - the individual will come to express himself in other words. Yes, God is holy. And, I'm not saying we should all come telling God 'the f word' left right and centre. But, you get what I mean. Plus, English is just one language. People the world over pray to Him in hundreds of other languages. There are many other heartfelt taboo words and expressions in many other languages and He is afraid of none. Anyway, you catch my drift. 

I have a similar feeling about Christians who express their grief on losing a loved one. Years ago, a lady I knew lost her only son in a vehicular accident. It tore her up. Another lady, this one I knew to be a Christian, lost her son after someone shot him. She became angry with God. Grief-stricken, she questioned His goodness; how could He have taken her son? How could He have allowed this? I understand that some persons - including Christians - will say that that is not an appropriate reaction. But, I believe that God is not frightened by our grief. He can see it coming. And, surely, different persons handle grief in different ways. But, for someone who directs her anger to God, He must see it coming, doesn't He? He does not recoil from her harsh words, does He? I believe that as she turns to Him with tears streaming, nose snot running, chest heaving in sobs and hands flailing as she thumps His chest with "How could You?! How could You?!" that He leans in to her and puts His arm around her and, yes, maybe even cries with her. Then, as she weakens under the burden of grief, and becomes too drained to fight, He scoops her up in His arms and carries her.

I am thankful that God sees the heart. And, His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. Just sayin'.


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Putting Down Roots

Almost twenty years ago I came across a neat little story about the bamboo and the fern. The fern was planted the same time as the bamboo seeds. In a short while, the fern began growing in all its green an sprawling glory. The bamboo, on the other hand, showed no signs of sprouting. Not in the first year; not in the second. As a matter of fact, it was not until the fifth year that it started growing! Then, within months, it towered over the fern and all the other plants around it. What was happening all those years? It had been putting down roots.

I like that story. It reminds me of a Jamaican proverb: "Everybody pot nuh boil same time."  I get it that some won't embrace the sentiment. They might think if nothing is happening then you might need to find yourself on another road. I read something today to that effect: Just because you've been on a road for so long does it mean it's the right one. I choose to embrace the wisdom from the bamboo story. For, just because you do not see something happening, does it mean that nothing is happening. And, each person has that gut instinct that says whether it's time to fold or keep at it. Hey, if it's your dream; your passion; your love, that is definitely the right road. Keep at it. It is - as you are - a work in progress.

Now and again I get to witness a work in progress - tangible work that you can reach out and touch. I like to see buildings being erected - from foundation to ribbon-cutting or moving in. I just do. Maybe it stems from the whole heap o' construction projects my father had me involved in growing up. #swingbucket :-) So, anyway, when I saw the clearing of the property in Oakville for the new multi-level parking garage, I became excited. I took pics. Turns out, as I sorted this evening to showcase, that I took many. Here are a few, taken with BlackBerry Curve and PlayBook. I say that almost as though I have to make an excuse for the quality. Sigh. It is what it is. The Curve doesn't take excellent pics - mine doesn't even have a flash. Speaking of BB,  the company had so much potential at the start, eh? Now, they're cutting staff by 40 %; looking for a buyer...? I really hope this Canadian company will bounce back. Ok. Where was I?

Yes. The multi-level parking garage started in 2011. I don't quite remember which month, but, these pics start at December 1, 2011. Judging from where it stood at that time, I'm thinking work had begun sometime in summer 2011. Yes, I could look it up. But, why let the facts get in the way of my memory flow? Tee hee.

Thanks to excellent work by those construction workers, we now have a fine specimen of a 6-floor parking garage at Oakville GO station. When the garage finally opened in December 2012 - and, I parked there on the day of the first good snow (I think it was the day of that last pic) - it stood as a testament to something that, for almost a year, had been putting down roots.

December 2011

December 2011

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

August 2012

August 2012

August 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

October 2012

October 2012

December 2012