Tuesday, 8 September 2015

New Home!

Hi. It's the 8th of September. You might not yet have been wondering where today's post is. After all, many of them have been rolled out only when I got in the mood of last minute panic :-) Well, not really, but you get the idea.

Guess what? My blog has found a new home: www.cyopro.com! My website still needs a few touches, but I made sure to get the blog section populated first. Everything else took...it took a while. Jah know. If I hear anyone say the word plug-in (technically, that's one word), I think I'm gonna give them "the look."

Okay. Lemme not go on about my WordPress work. I'm glad to let you know the site is up and running, and that's where my blog posts are going to be from now on. I wanted to make sure the first post on the new site made it at the start of this year eight.

Seven years at Blogspot. Wow. I think I'm already missing Blogspot a little. But, I have to let go of this thing, for the something new. :-)

Reminds me a bit of Mr. Monk and the Badge. Start watching at 3:44, but that tear-jerking clip starts at 4:50. You didn't think I'd leave here without mentioning Monk, did you? Have we met? (Also a Monk reference. Lol!)

Sigh. Thank you, so very much, for sticking around here with me.

Join me over there, won't you?

www.facebook.com/cyopro - Yes. Facebook. It's not personal. It's a Page. :-)

Friday, 28 August 2015

What to Expect When You're Expecting to Be Published

Yeeaah. I don't know what other soon-to-be-published authors feel with mere weeks to go before their first book is published, but, right now...

Ohhhh myyyy Godddddd! My first book is coming out soon and people, like, real people, are gonna read it!! What if they do read it??!! Uggghhh! What is that rumbling in the pit of my belly??!! Wait. What if...oh no! What if nobody wants to read it??!! What if people don't read it?! Or, what if they read it and they think it's crap??!!

What is that rumble?

Ah, yes. The fluttering of so many butterflies. And I'm constantly whipping them into V-formation.

Neither my image - nor my butterflies.

Seriously, it cannot be that others are as cool as a cucumber in times like this. No way. There must be a heavy dose of adrenaline coursing through the veins on any given day - and twice on Sunday.

Now and then I think, "I did it. I really did it." It may be crap, but it's my crap. (Umm, that didn't come out the way I had it in mind.) Point is, we are constantly bombarded by life-affirming and ability-affirming quotes and memes and books and speakers and influencers and and and... We hear and read so much about moving forward against the odds; facing your fears; winning; taking a leap; go for it, etc., etc. Inevitably, though, after we reach our goal, or, if after much effort we fall short, as night follows day, some will find something to pick at. It comes with the territory.

This is not to say that as creators, and humans doing, we should not be open to getting frank feedback about our work. Very few get it right the first time around. So, we "tek telling" as the Jamaican expression goes, and work toward better. It is to say, rather, that the naysayers we have always with us. "It's what it's" - as a funny tweep wrote the other day. Lol!

Fear. The fear of not getting it right. The fear of people laughing at what we've created. The fear of what people will say. Fear in some shape or form is what keeps us from starting, doing, finishing. Know what? Do your dream because: (1) It is yours to do. No one else in the world can do your dream like you. (2) Some people will always have negative things to say. It's like it's in their DNA. Plus, they don't matter. (3) You will feel good, real good, after beating the fear and doing what you set out to do! I promise.

This book is rather personal - and telling. As one reviewer had said, by the end, readers will feel like they know me. Still not sure whether I'm ready for that reality. But, it is written.

They will know this book is about life and love and heartbreaks and that...that I dared to get back up. Every. Single. Time. And hope. They will know that, although it often feels like Love has kicked the crap out of me, I'm still here. (I feel a voice-over coming on: We the unbeatable, do the "impossible", and remain hopeful "in the face of aridity and disenchantment.") I've made the choice to embrace the good and be inspired by the joy of those close and not so close; to hope that, come what may, I will always choose to live fully in each moment.


I hope in God to lift me and set me up upon a rock; to make my feet like hinds' feet; to make me mount up with wings as eagles; to restore to me the years the locusts have eaten... Hope is a good thing. Where I place it is even more important. Many don't mix their creative work with worship. I do. I am, after all, blessed and highly flavoured. Chocolat. To God be all the glory for His favour and His hand upon me and this writing journey and this new book. And the new website. (It's getting there.) His thoughts and actions toward me are terrible, awesome, wondrous, and beautiful. He is about to blow my expectations of success - millions of copies sold worldwide; published in several languages - and my dreams of positively touching lives, out of the water! #ExceedingAbundantly. He loves me, and if I knew nothing else, that would be enough. But, I also know this: He is holding my heart. 

Funny, at this point in the post, I don't feel as anxious as when I'd started. :-)

Here's the thing: If I'm not gonna dream big, then what, pray tell, is the point of dreaming at all? I dream big (and in colour) to the point where it sounds ridiculous - and scary! And, I put in the work, too, and continue to do so. I'm not just referring to the decades of putting pen or pencil to paper. I'm talking about the more recent writing, and editing, and working with the publisher who said they'd like to work with me. I'm talking about finding... no, making time to write. I have a full-time job which, occasionally, has me travelling. I've whipped out my phone and got to writing during my morning and evening commute on the GO Train; at lunch; at work (shhh); on vacation; on the plane en route to my vacation destination; on staycation; at the park by the Lake; in the bathroom (don't ask); in bed... I have even been awoken by a vivid thought and scribbled notes while half asleep, and, come morning, tried to decipher what the heck I had written on the post-it pad.  But still I write. #writeorsuffocate

I learned to reach out for help. I even know what it feels like to woman up and ask a complete stranger for their take on an excerpt. Why? I try to keep my focus on that which cannot be seen by the naked eye. I keep telling myself, it's going to be beautiful. And, I want to leave behind something bigger than myself; something relatable; something new.

One of the reasons I'd wanted to publish this anthology at this time, is that I wanted to...make room, if you will, for the new phase of love in my life. And, the new phase of me, too - ready to be loved thickly in return. Pretty brave of me to come right out and say that, but, given that this book is a go, well, I must get used to the idea of allowing those words to leave my lips. Plus, as I've learned, love alone is not enough. Deciding to be with someone for the rest of your life takes, among other things, courage.

Another reason is: I wanted for my mom to behold this completed work. She has been one of my main cheerleaders, and it would give me joy and pleasure to see her reading my book. Tee hee. And, just so you know, all my birth family and close friends have been supportive. They rock! Muahh!

Yet another reason: For one, or two, or three people - a girl can hope - who will be able to say, "I can relate." Yeah. Relatabilty.

Today marks the 7th anniversary of my blog. I've said it in this space a few times before, Usain Bolt's performance on the track at the Beijing 2008 Olympics helped to light a fire within. On Sunday, August 23, he sprinted to victory in the 100m at the World Championships - again in Beijing. He wasn't in top form, physically, and there'd been much talk of a Bolt/Gatlin face-off. At the finish, he came through in 9.79s to his main rival's 9.80s. Someone made the point on Twitter that he is mentally strong. I agree. One needs to be able to silence the demons and the negative voices in one's head; rise above the fray, and persist to succeed. I smiled in agreement and admiration as Bolt articulated this bit in a recent Puma ad: "...when he says, "On your mark," and I take a deep breath, look down the lane and...it's time to go." Love that. Live that.

In the end, I did it for me. It was time to share this part of myself. As I've said in the intro to my book, I do not have a story. I am a story. I have a voice.

Fourteen to Fortyish: The Formative Years speaks volumes. I truly hope that you will give a listen.


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

All of Life is Happening

Among other reasons, I decided to make my website (cyopro.com) a "real website", as my first book is about to be published. The author's bio for Fourteen To Fortyish does make reference to my website, and, well, I did not relish the thought of readers heading to a starter page on Yahoo!

So, this past June, I made the leap! I asked around and went with the strong recommendation from one of the IT guys at work. I bought a template from Template Monster. The Live Chat guy was very good. He knew his stuff, and he was patient. Over three hours later - I had to choose from hundreds! - I was all sorted out. We'd narrowed it down to a WordPress theme, given that the flagship feature is going to be about the book and, a close second, my blog. Yes, this blog. Plus, he'd also walked me through purchasing hosting services from Blue Host. They're pretty good, too.

Thanks to help from sis, @MizDurie, who refused to have me languishing in the throes of copy and paste, I learned there was a plug-in to transfer blog posts from Blogger to my new WordPress-themed website. The transfer took about five minutes. It might've taken less time, had I not stopped to read and take screen shots of the instruction pages. Y'know? For my files? (Like I'm asking.)

Let's move on.

So, that's where I am now. I've changed the title of the home page; done some font changes; added photos, and populated the home page with starter copy. I recently referred to the write up/rationale for cyopro in its genesis. The words I'd written in my notebook back in 2010 still hit home: "...a vibrant place of engagement where stories are told and experienced...where authors go..." Okay, that's enough of a sneak peak. :-) The plan is to tighten it up here and there. I believe it will speak to someone. Relatability, right?

It's all coming together. Some days it feels like baby steps, and on others, I look back and think I've taken a leap. Annette did appear! :-) The timing of all this is something else, too. It has been an extremely busy year - so far!  I expect that the pace will not slow down and that things will be better. I've changed jobs; left the country a couple times; sold and bought new homes; moved; unpacked. Correction: I'm unpacking... During all of that, I finished and submitted my manuscript; provided write-ups; worked on the cover, and did the first revision of the interior file. And now, I've taken to work on my website. Yes, it does feel like all of life is happening - at once! :-)

You remember that saying, right? "Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different." - C.S. Lewis

Yeah, it's kinda like that.


Saturday, 8 August 2015

Unphotographable Beauty Is A Thing

Unphotographable beauty. I came across that term for the first - and only - time in Toni Morrison's Tar Baby. Its use has been warranted more times than I can recall. For, who among us has experienced a pang of disappointment when, upon reviewing a photo of a majestic scene, realizes that the picture simply does not do it justice?  Go on. Raise your hand. I'll wait.


The term came to mind - and use - again, during my recent visit to Jamaica. Reuniting with family and friends was a joyous experience. The highlight of the trip was the wedding. Sis, Durie, got married to her fiance, Ric. I was honoured and humbled to have been asked to be her Maid of Honour. Their special day was a beautiful one in Ocho Rios, St. Ann.

The visit yielded hundreds of breathtaking photos. Hundreds, for, as you know, while there's storage, there will be pics. And that was just from one camera (read: smartphone).

Here are a few I thought I'd share. Again, that term comes to mind. Unphotographable beauty.

Approaching (the dreaded) Flat Bridge, Bog Walk, St. Catherine


Almost there...

Over it!

The rather popular "vaggie rock". You can see why. In colloquial language, it goes by another name. 

View from the North South Highway.
(If yuh want good road, toll haffi run.)

The folds of the rolling hills, the dramatic suspension of the clouds...

Panoramic view.

Making our way through the curves and turns of Fern Gully.
Yes, it's two-way traffic. #GotSkills?

Heads up! Fern Gully.

Clean, clear, cool (I guess), and inviting.
As far as the eye can see...sea!
Ackee and Saltfish (the national dish) with fried bammy.

Polly did not want a cracker. Well, we didn't offer one. And, I don't know whether her name is really Polly.

The clouds were striking! Look! There's a cartoonish character chasing a small dog.



Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Travel: Would You Like Sighs With That?

Bag Drop. But, Not Really.

I checked in for my flight on West Jet the evening before. When I got to the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA), I approached one of the designated kiosks, thinking it would allow me to print baggage tags. It didn't. It spat out a duplicate of the boarding pass I already had. No worries. I moved on to the Bag Drop line. (Side note: About a year and a half or so ago, the Bag Drop line didn't work. As in, sis and I had enquired - having checked in prior - and were told that "everybody is in the same line." That did not make sense to me. What, pray tell, was the point of a designated Bag Drop line - with sign indicating that, btw - if those who'd checked in before were made to stand with those who had not? I had asked then and was told that it was on that airline's say so.)

Fast forward to this most recent episode. I joined the Bag Drop line for Kiosk/Web check-in at approximately 11:45 a.m. and stood behind three parties. There were between 2 and 4 people in each party. One agent stood at the counter made for two. The queue to my right was for those who had not checked in prior. I watched as their snaking line moved steadily with new people joining, checking in, getting baggage tagged, and leaving the counter, while I waited for half an hour before being called up. When I approached the counter at 12:15, I knew I had to ask. Hi and hello over, I tilted my head forward to get a closer look at his name tag, "I have a question, Wayne," I said. (That's not his real name, btw. It's close enough.)
 "Yes?" "You're an employee of West Jet, correct?"
"Okay. Could you help me understand why I just waited half an hour in the Bag Drop line, when people were coming and going in the check-in line?"
"Well, as you can see, I'm the only one at this counter. Sorry about the wait."
"Yes, I can see that. I don't think this is what West Jet had in mind, though." I told him I'm gonna have to talk with them. I mean, if they need to hire more people to uphold the quality of service many have come to expect, so be it. Many Jamaicans are in need of jobs. There must be a waiting list. In the meantime, it makes no sense to me to have passengers stand in the Bag Drop line for longer than passengers checking in at the counter. What's the point of encouraging passengers to check-in early? At Toronto Pearson, the kisok had spat out baggage tags, and we had quickly gone over to Bag Drop, joined a short queue, and were done in under five minutes. Please do something about this service at NMIA, West Jet.


Still at NMIA. I went through without a beep. While waiting for my stuff on the belt, I stepped to the side and softly said to the security officer who had just waved me through, "May I ask you sopm?"
"The last time I came through here, I didn't beep, but I was pat down anyway. Why? I thought it was a standard thing, if you don't beep, you don't get pat down."
She smiled. "Well, it depends. If, say, 50 people go through and the machine doesn't go off, we check the next person. It depends on the instructions we get for the day - every tenth person or after 50 and so on."
"Oh, so it's company policy, not what makes sense...in my head?"
This time, she chuckled, "Yeah."
I told her thanks and moved on.

No Backtracking 

This term took on another meaning as we waited in line at the gate. Passengers had cleared the distance between the agents who check for boarding passes as you exit the food court, and the gate. I overheard a man ask no one in particular, whether he could go back to get some food. Apparently, it had just dawned on him that he might need more than the pretzels and/or cookies to tide him over to Toronto. In the next breath, he asked someone whose uniform looked like a security guard’s. The security guard told him no, he could not go back to the food court – even though we were all the way toward the back of a very long line.

(And the hits just keep on comin’!)

I had to ask. 

I waited a few minutes.

As the security guard paced his way back down the line, I stepped to the side and got his attention. I made out a part of the crest adorning his dark blue uniform. Special Constable. Oops. My bad.
“Excuse me, I have a question.”
“Could I go back and get something from the food court?”
“Hmm, no. You can’t go back up there.”
“Ummm, why not?”
“It’s the airport’s policy, a security thing.”
“Okay. Thanks.”

I waited a few more minutes.

I saw another man who was attired as an airport worker – I figured. I stopped him as he walked toward my section of the line and asked him. Because, you  know, I  wasn’t going anywhere for a while; I was out of Snickers, and, sometimes, information isn’t consistent. I asked the same thing. He told me he didn’t see why not.

I waited.

This time, I asked the West Jet employee who was checking boarding passes. Yes, we were just about to board now.
“No, not at this point.”
“I understand that. I meant earlier when we were all the way back in the line.”
“Mmm. Technically, you could, but it’s airport policy and a matter of security. So, no. I mean, if you had to, someone would have to escort you back.”
“Oh, so in exigent circumstances, then.”
“I see. Thanks.”

I proceeded to board.

A matter of security. Right. Now I know. And now you know.

I…I just don’t know. Smh.


Sunday, 19 July 2015

Dear Travel-related People, It's Not You...It's Me

Making my way from Jamaica, as I approached the security checkpoint, I removed all items from my person that'd likely set off the alert. Holding my passport, I made my way through the arc. No beep. I started eyeing the belt that held my laptop and hand bag. Next thing I knew, the security officer was telling me to "step this way" and immediately proceeded to start patting me down. No heads-up. I protested. "The machine didn't go off!" I said. "We can still pat you down," she said. As her hands made their way over my body, it took every thing in me not to slap them away from me. I was incensed! I had done everything I was required to do to prevent such a thing from happening, and it happened anyway. As she continued to pat, involuntarily, I backed away. I have traveled many times by air. I have never been pat down by hand before. The one or two other times were by wand. I could not get away fast enough. If there's no beep, one is allowed to proceed, isn't one? Somehow, I was of the impression that that was a standard rule that applied at all airports. Not so at the Norman Manley International Airport. Apparently.

Making my way from Toronto, as I approached the security checkpoint, I removed all items from my person that'd likely set off the alert. Holding my passport, I made my way through the arc. No beep. I started eyeing the belt that held my laptop and handbag. I approached the belt unhindered.
"Is this your bag?" The security officer on the other side of the belt enquired.
"Yes, it is," I replied, stiffening.
"I'm gonna take a look at what's inside," she said, half to me and half to the other security woman seated at the x-ray machine.
She proceeded, with gloved hands, to shift items and remove items and walk back to the x-ray officer then back to the bag then back to the x-ray woman asking her something or the other about the pack of Clearasil face wipes she'd happily discovered. X-ray woman must've told her they were okay. She came back to the bag, and dug and searched.
"What are you looking for?" I'd had enough.
"...", as she proceeded to dig.
"What are you looking for?" I asked again.
"...", face down ignoring me.
"Are you not obligated to respond?"
"I'm just looking for something." She looked up, while digging.
I shook my head and picked up my purse from the bag.
"Ma'am, please calm down," she said.
"I'm simply removing my purse with my very valuable items, ID and such," I replied.
She proceeded to search for God He knows what. Just because she could. Apparently. A few seconds later, she was done.
"Thank you for your patience," she said.
It was better to remain silent, so I did. I retrieved my bag and left the area.

Making my way to customs in Jamaica, I held my bag of left-over lunch and fruits (cherries). I had indicated on the customs form that I had fruits. The customs officer asked what they were. I told her. She said to "put them in the bin over there." On my way to the bin, I dropped the bag and stepped on it. Then, I put the bag in the bin. In under 5 seconds, she was about 6 inches from my face yelling and asking why I did that. I didn't flinch, nor was I offended by her animated and aggressive approach. I was dealing with Jamaica's customs officers and I expected no less - truth be told. In rapid succession, she asked why I did it. In rapid succession, I started to reply. Finally, as we were both not getting anywhere, I said, "If you will allow me to reply, I will let you know." She took a deep breath, held her hands together below her very pregnant tummy and said, "Okay, go ahead."
"If the fruits aren't good enough to enter the country, then they simply aren't edible," I told her.
By then, about three or four other customs officers had come around. One of them kept asking me the same thing. I told her the same thing. She asked again. I told her the same thing. Again. Not sure whether she was expecting me to tell her something else; something she wanted to hear. She called me rude. That was...telling. They took it as an affront. Apparently. I wonder why. (I don't, actually.)

While paying the JMD$10,000 fine (I had stepped outside to get the funds from my dad. I had CAD funds, but the thought of changing them at the dismal exchange rate at the cambio right there, pained me. Side note: I later handed my dad the funds in repayment. He said to keep it. Bless his heart.) I heard one person in line at the cashier saying how he was charged for his laptop. A friend of his had bought him one on sale a month ago. The customs officers decided it was new. He paid JMD$6,000. As he shook his head in dismay, he ended his story, "Is alright. Next time mi know wha mi a go do." That was...telling.

I paid the fine for breaching S.198(4) of the Customs Act. I had destroyed the item to prevent seizure by a customs officer or stte. The officer had originally written $5,000, but her supervisor said to change it to $10,000. I possess no qualms about facing the consequences of my actions. It's a personal philosophy. I realized...figured, rather, that if I proceeded to ask them to define seizure and prevent and destroy, I would likely have another $5,000 or $10,000 slapped on as a "mouthing off" charge. Because they could. Also, depending on the nature of the breach (I s'pose) one could be fined up to $100,000. (And  the whole thing had already taken about 45 minutes. Because they could.) I let it be.

Just before handing my passport back to me, the customs officer decided to explain the procedure for acquiring a permit to bring fruits into the country. I asked whether that would mean I would not be charged a fee if the inspecting officer decided the fruits were okay. She assured me that's what it meant. I quickly imagined that my definition of okay might very well differ. Plus, I'd only bother to go that route simply to test that theory. I said none of this. I did tell her that the rationale for the "breach" was something we disagreed on. I shrugged, closing the door to further conversation. My people had long been waiting outside. We said our goodbyes and I took my passport and left.

It took several days but I finally put my finger on what really bothered me about that customs episode. Comments from friends and family with whom I cared to share it, telling me good on me because seizure usually resulted in them taking the items for themselves, didn't make me feel better. The certainty that others who hear it at some point will say I was mean, won't make me feel worse. The thing? It becomes a major challenge for me to accept going along with what is required, when what is required makes absolutely no sense to me. That was the button that pushed me. I eventually assured myself that everyone has their button. After all, I'm only human.

"Human. It's been a while since anyone's called me that." - Monk

Between the impositions and intrusions and a host of things up with which I don't want to put during cross-border travel, I'm seriously considering staying put for a while. Canada is a big country. I should get out more and see more of it.

(Oh, btw, this post was due on the 18th. Sorry. I...I was way too tired to write yesterday. Thanks for reading!)


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Cover Story

On a visit to Jamaica earlier this year, my parents and I went on a road trip, or, as we call them sometimes, a drive out. My dad loves to take us on those trips. They were a staple of our childhood, and are pretty much expected now when we visit Jamaica.

This road trip took us to Manchester. I had made a special request for roast yam and saltfish. I knew exactly where we were headed - Melrose Hill. Or, as it is often called, Yam Hill. Actually, I think Melrose Hill is the name of the original road (the old road) where the vendors used to sell. It has been a long time since, but the vendors relocated to their current location on that section of the Winston Jones Highway after the highway was cut.

And, you know, this post isn't even about Yam Hill. Lol! See, before we stopped there on our way from Clarendon, we went all the way up the road to Mandeville. We conducted our business and quickly headed back toward Clarendon.

It was just after we  passed the mud lake on Winston Jones Highway, that I saw a really beautiful sight. I thought it would make a really lovely picture. I immediately shoved my phone to the front of my dad's car - a gesture he's grown quite accustomed to - and snapped away from the back. He didn't question the gesture, he simply obliged. My mom, as usual, leaned a little to the left in her front passenger seat so I could get proper photos. (Just so you know, drive on the left in Jamaica, and the majority of vehicles are right hand drive.)

About five photos later, I figured I'd got what I wanted. At least two or three of them could be used. They didn't do the natural scenery justice - unphotographable beauty is a thing - but they would bring me pleasure on reviewing.

Fast forward a few weeks later. My publisher asked me to provide write-ups - along with book cover artwork - for the upcoming poetry book, Fourteen To Fortyish. I did. I submitted my best rendition of one of the images, complete with overlaying text and all. I knew we would have a bit of back n forth, but I still wanted to have a very good springboard.

Well, during those exchanges, I reached out to family to hear how the cover spoke to them. I even learned the term "dichromatic" from one of my sis, Lat, an artist. The final rendition shows a dramatic and fitting transition that captures the essence of the journey. I'm very pleased with the cover now.

I've shared a section of the cover on other SM platforms - Twitter and Instagam. Here, though, in my little space in cyberspace, I'm sharing the full cover. It's a good time to tell you, dear reader, that I am also working on making my website, cyopro.com, into a real website. :-) These blog posts will be moving over to my "home in cyberspace" - if you will. Or, even if you don't, actually. :-) Those baby steps? Yeeahh. #LeapAndAnnetteWillAppear. :-) I've learned so much in the past several days about what is required to make this happen. I bought a WordPress theme template, and switched hosting services. Gonna be bonding with the new site over the next little while. Please bear with me. It is a work in progress - a work in progress that has to be finished before my book gets published in September 2015. No pressure!

(((Drum Roll)))


Sunday, 28 June 2015

One Judge. I Am Not Him.

God has a sense of humour. Some things you don't see coming. He does. When they appear, well, between the both of us, we got this. Nothing is of a surprise to Him. His Word says, "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiates 1:9) (I like the poetry of the KJV.) As a matter of fact, another verse says, "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past. (Ecc. 3:15)

I am Christian. I believe in Jesus, and daily seek to maintain a close relationship with Him. I believe the Bible is the word of God. To get to it, in the last week, much happened regarding gay rights in the USA. (Same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since July 2005.)  As a Christian, when I utter my thoughts on this sensitive topic, I fully expect to be derided and ridiculed and accused of being homophobic and being a Bible Thumper and and and... It's the way it is. True, there are Christians who go about expressing condemnation of members of the LGBT community. They spew vitriol squarely directed at them at every opportunity. So, Christians who are more mild in airing their views are lumped in with that batch.

But, no matter how mild the approach, the Christian with a point of view borne out of their belief is often not... (what's the word? Allowed?) ..."allowed" to express his/her dissenting view. I don't get it. I'm Christian, and I believe homosexuality is a sin. Should I acquiesce and go with someone else's view just because I don't wish to offend them? That is ridiculous. I have relatives who are gay. By the time I found out, well, I had already loved them to pieces. No judgment. I believe we will someday all answer to one God for the time we spent here. Meantime, my duty is to love and shine, including when I join the conversation on controversial topics. I have made a choice to believe what I believe. Look around. The world is a mess. It takes more than wealth and popularity to attain that which is most precious in such a time as this - peace of mind.

Earlier, I referred to the Bible. If someone does not believe the Bible to be the Word of God, it is pointless to quote from it as an authority in support of the point being made. Enter grace, through faith - and time. We live. We believe. We live according to our belief. Philip Yancey - atheist turned Christian - wrote in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew: "God's terrible insistence on human freedom is so absolute that He granted us the power to live as though He did not exist, to spit in His face, to crucify Him. Although power can force obedience, only love can summon a response of love, which is the one thing God wants from us and the reason He created us."

So, people are free to do whatever with whomever. I don't bash friends who don't share  my faith, for example. Love them and leave them to Jesus and time. I believe He can and does make a wonderful difference in people's lives. People make the difficult decision to "come out of the closet". No judgment. And, it's not because the skeletons in my closet have skeletons in their closets. It is because I am not the JUDGE. I cannot be presumptuous to think I can judge and mete out sentences to whomever I think is not living according to God's word. Especially when I am a daily beneficiary of His amazing grace.

It seems, though, no matter how many times as a Christian you say and demonstrate love and kindness even as you disagree with "the masses", you will be ridiculed, vilified, etc. Not everyone will share my views. I get that. Still, one word in dissent, and many immediately go for the jugular. Yet, they are the same ones exercising their right to speak their views freely. I don't get that.

You know what's not funny? We can be angered and get freaked out by the news that a three year-old girl has been raped by a 30 year-old man. Why? Because something inside our make up says it is wrong. There is still wrong and right in the world. It's not always black and white, but it exists. It is not, as much as we would like to think, a case of anything goes. Consensus doesn't mean right. Humans are fickle beings. What is right today is not necessarily right tomorrow. But, God's word and standards do not change.

In today's " Look at me!" world, it is not surprising that some compromise on their beliefs for the sake of popularity; for adulation; for likes and favs and retweets. "Do you, boo!" But, as a person who seeks to abide in Christ, my choices do not often coincide with the world's. And that is to be expected. I don't think my final words on my deathbed will be, "Oh, I wish I had been more popular on Social Media." Nope. The Christian journey is not an easy one and every day is a struggle, but I try to keep the proper perspective and focus on what really matters. The Holy Spirit does not leave me alone.

Speaking of expectations, what also seems to be expected is that folks like myself should go sit in a corner somewhere because we have a dissenting view - no matter how much in love we express it. Yeah. About that. We have been commissioned to share the good news of Jesus Christ. And, we will and do have a belief out of which we speak. I think it was the ancient Greek philosopher, Epictetus, who said, "All religions must be tolerated...for every man must get to heaven in his own way." *raises hand* Umm, about that "in his own way" part? No. The Word I live by quotes Jesus as saying He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Him. Hmm. Not only do we want to live however we want, we also want the assurance that it's okay. And, some of our spiritual leaders, sadly, have given in to this. For myriad reasons, I suppose - the desire not to offend; not to step on anyone's toes; not to lose popularity, etc. The unadulterated word of God can be hard-hitting. Nobody is perfect and has it all together in this walk. Enter, grace. 

Sigh. The criticisms for expressing particular - and particularly dissenting - positions will come.

We got this.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

A Book of Any Length...

Not too long ago, I came across someone on Twitter whose bio said he'd written scores of books. Given how challenging it is to realize even that first book most of us have inside, it left me wondering just how lengthy, and of what quality, those books were. How is it some people make writing look so easy? You know what they say, right? Every writer soon learns that a book that's easy to read is hard to write. (Or something like that.)

As I make way for hundreds of writers in my Twitter space, I've begun to pick up on a few things. One of them is this: A very short how-to book that has been published solely for an e-reader platform is still considered a book. Got an eBook of 12 pages? It's still a book. And it's been published. So, the author can (and does) claim to be a published author. Write a few scores of those kinds and you can in fact claim to have written scores of books! 

Here's the thing: In years past, I probably would not have claimed very short (adult) books as books per se. I'd have probably called works of that length short stories or viewpoints or something, then compile them for a far lengthier work for which I could more worthily claim the title of author. But that way of thinking is what would've been left over from a programmed perception, if you will.

Fast forward. I've been thinking of a few short pieces. Enter eBook ideas. The following is part of one of these yet unfinished pieces. Perhaps I could embark on a series of eBooks in which I share something along these lines - and what can't be read between the lines. I've always thought of developing (or publishing "as is") some of these blog posts. I shall ponder this in my heart. 

There have been times when I held on for too long after I should have let go, second guessing my gut and wondering whether my impatience had yet again overridden longsuffering. I don't let go until the ugly is undeniable and irrefutable. A big step up from cutting them off at the first sign of betrayal of trust. But, a long way down from what is sensible. Then, I let go. I take myself away. The words go first. I follow on their heels. A moment to embrace my new normal is necessary. Given the signs, the cleaning and cleansing had begun - bit by bit. After letting go, I breathe; I hold myself; I assure myself I need this time, this moment, to just be still. And I declutter, starting in my mind. I am strong. I find comfort in knowing I am not worse for the wear. I sowed good seeds. And, I was sincere.


Monday, 8 June 2015

Turning Point

A couple of years ago, Dove came out with an ad to encourage women and girls to accept themselves as beautiful.  The ad, dubbed Camera Shy, made me smile. It also made me think. Good on Dove, for I imagine that that's part of what they were after. It becomes rather revealing when we stop and think about whether as adults we are now camera shy, and what led us to that point.

If we are, there may be several reasons for it. The least of them might not be a matter of privacy. There may be a legitimate concern about how an innocent and candid photo may end up being used on the Internet. Apart from that, however, may be the more grueling issue of our perception of our natural beauty, whether it is...enough at any given time. And, if it isn't, when did we start thinking so? And, can we go back?

But, this post is not about that - per se.

Something came to mind other day. Remember that line in Mr. Monk and the Very, Very Old Man, when Stottlemeyer was asked why he hadn't done something or other? His response was stteo, "I'd hurt his feelings... That's my new full-time job - not hurting people's feelings."  It's one of those lines that stuck with me because it's indicative of that shift between worlds. There is a turning point between the childlike (and often entertaining) innocence that produces frank, unfiltered responses, and the caution we employ as we get more emotionally aware and considerate of people's feelings. It happens. We learn it from family, or the other social structures to which we become exposed as we grow. Yeah, it happens. And, little by little, we begin to apply filters and cushions and, in no time, we become very adept at not saying what we really mean.

I believe most adults do not enjoy that luxury I love to refer to in a favourite C.S. Lewis quote: "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."

It does sound oh-so-good on its own, doesn't it? The larger piece from which I grabbed it not only provides context, but answers, on point, the reason we often remain in our new-found comfort zone, having made the transition between worlds; the reason it's hard to go back.

“Lightly men talk of saying what they mean. Often when he was teaching me to write in Greek the Fox would say, “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.” A glib saying. When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the centre of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about joy of words.” 
- C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Consent Implied

I was on the GO train the other day when a young woman embarked. She sat diaginally across from me in one of those double row seats. She appeared to be a student. Beside her, and straight across from me, sat another young woman - older, professional, complete in business suit and all. This was in the still chilly March weather.

To my left, and in the corner, sat a gentleman. He might've been in his late twenties, early thirties. Bear with me. I'm going somewhere with this.

Shortly after we left Union station, the student and the gentleman struck up a quiet conversation. After all, we were seated in the Quiet Zone. It may have been about...ah! Yes. It was about his watch. There was something she found remarkable about it.

Shortly after that, she took her drawing pad and a pencil from her bag. And, she started drawing. I made a polite glance and realized she was drawing a caricature of the man. I cast a furtive glance in his general direction to catch any expression of surprise I could. Nada. Either he was blissfully unaware that his "likeness" was being reproduced, or, he was aware and didn't mind. Or, he did mind  but chose not to be confrontational. Or some like thought.

She continued drawing, rather fast, I might add. She really got that talent down pat. While she did, the young woman next to her reached for her smartphone, then held it up at an angle to direct the lens toward the notepad. Yes. She was unabashedly taking a few photos of the artwork in progress.

By this time, the guy being drawn was clearly in the know about the representation of his image. I'd caught him looking at the notepad. He'd said nothing. I wouldn't go as far as to say he seemed flattered. That'd be a romantic unfounded notion. But, at the least, he did appear a bit amused and totally, as in totally, not bothered.

The younger girl continued her drawing. She too didn't seem to care at all that her work was being photographed by a total stranger - in such proximity!

It was like an unspoken agreement among them.

Of course, when she wrapped that up and started in a new page and glanced a couple of times in my direction, I had to ask, "Are you drawing me now?"
"No," she answered with a smile.
The young woman and the man smiled, too. But, I needed to add, and so I did, "Okay, 'cause I'd have to, y'know, change seats," I said with a feint smile of the pursed "so-there's-that" lips kind. They did a mix of polite smile and chuckle.

At the next stop, our little community disbanded and life went on.

So, we are here. Total strangers all up in total strangers' faces like that. Someone who's performing pretty much expects the smartphones to come out. But, here was a guy, going about his business and voíla! There'd been no request for permission to draw him. There'd been no request for permission to take a photo of the drawing. The characters in this true story simply did as they pleased, as though based on the assumption that the man was worth drawing, or the drawing was worth snapping, consent was implied.

A few weeks after that episode, I spotted a tweet re an article about a young woman who'd had a kind of altered rendition of her Instagram pic put on show. The blown-up photo was said to be sold for about $90,000. Just. Like. That.

I've said before that, these days, once you leave your house - or anyone else's house for that matter - be prepared to be caught up in someone else's video or photo. (Alas, you may be photo bombing and not know it.) It's as though your decision to be out and about in public means your consent to be caught on camera is implied.

I read an article recently about a (perhaps little-known) by-law in Toronto that forbids the taking of photos in parks. And I've visited at least one library that forbids the taking of photos within its walls - no matter how cute you think your niece and her playmates are, standing beside the giant stuffed gorilla. Just sayin'.

Well, you have to leave the house at some point. Correct? Whatyagonnado. Take comfort in the fact that most people couldn't care less about the people who happen to be caught in the background of their pics. Really.

You can leave the house now.


Monday, 18 May 2015

The Sound and the Fury: Fireworks!!!

For years, sis (@MizDurie), has been inviting me to behold the spectacle that is the Toronto fireworks show at Ashbridge's Bay. Years. This year she tried again. This year, I agreed. I decided to see what the fuss was about.

I get it now.

Credit for all photos: @MizDurie


Friday, 8 May 2015

Happy Dance In My Head

On the last day of April - which was a fantastic month, by the way - I was travelling home on the GO Train. I was seated in one of the upper level cars, in one of those rows that face another. On rush hour trains, the upper cars are designated Quiet Zone areas - short and quiet conversations are okay; passengers may plug in to their personal devices, as long as they don't disturb others, etc. 

It was a little after 4:30...okay, it was 4:36. I had checked, just as the thought crossed my mind to ask a favour of the woman seated across from me. She had been reading The Cruellest Month - a rather thick novel. I figured if she is a reader, then she could be relied upon to give valuable feedback on a totally new piece. Before I gave myself a chance to talk myself out of it (that sounds funny), I spoke up. I had read in Blake Snyder's Save The Cat that it's a good idea to ask someone at, say, a coffee shop, to look at you work or draft or idea. I totally get that. I imagine you'd likely get great feedback from a total stranger with no hangups about hurting the feelings of someone they'll probably never lay eyes on again. And, if they do, they'll probably change coffee shops. Or, you could change coffee shops. Okay! It's not about coffee shops.

So, as I was saying, before I interrupted myself, I spoke up. 

Me: Excuse me. I've never done this before. I'm writing an introduction to my anthology of poems. Would you mind reading it and letting me know what you think? 
She: Yes, of course. 
I handed her my phone. She bookmarked her page, then looked me in the eye, "I'd be happy to read it."
Me: Thank you!
I was positively beaming! I did my happy dance in my head! Heh heh.
When she was finished, she leaned toward me and I followed cue and leaned toward her. We were, after all, in the Quiet Zone. 
She: It's very real. It's very personal, and it's moving. It should go well with the poems as that's what they're about. It needs a bit of editing, but it's really good. 
Me: Thanks so much. Could you tell me where needs editing? 
She: That part where you talk about the relationship? His pillow? Is it a real person or someone you're imagining? The reader needs to be clear on that. Hopefully, that gives you enough to go on? 
Me: Yes! Thank you!

I'm glad I'd plucked up the courage to do it. I got good feedback. She was right, of course. I knew the context I had had in  mind when I wrote that section, but the reader would need more information to make sense of it. 

Can I tell you? That was a wonderful way to end April 2015! I had won the poetry competition at the Lit Café, and @CBCBooks had held a lil #CBCRhymes competition on Twitter one day - and I was one of two (or three) winners! I received a few poetry books as my prize. They came just in time, too. A few days earlier, my publisher had asked me to send the write-ups - acknowledgements, author bio, and so on - for my upcoming poetry book. I had decided on a cover, too. When I got those books in the mail, the first thing I did was pay attention to the covers; how the titles were written; whether the font sizes were too big, etc. And, yes, I will be reading them. :-)

Fourteen to Fortyish: The Formative Years is now in the production process. 

Again, #HappyDanceInMyHead! 


Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Not-so-great Expectations

More often than not, whenever I open the new post page to the blank screen, I tell myself I won't be long. Next thing I know, I'm hitting 600+ words. Tonight, however, I won't be long. I think.

I've been thinking about this blog and where it's headed. I really like the fact that I've carved out a little space in cyberspace and write whatever I want to. However, my first book of poetry (there's at least one other poetry book inside me) is being published - Fourteen to Fortyish: The Formative Years. I'm excited and humbled and thankful...all up in my feels, really. I am also a tad concerned that, as a published poet, my lil blog will be expected to feature more writing about poetry, the writing process, and the like. And, that's not one of the feels. Okay. Lemme stop speaking in SoMe language for a second.

The idea that I may be expected to write more about my work as a poet is a tad unappealing. I relish the luxury I now have - writing about a variety of subject matter. My posts range from dogs to Desiderata; Buju to BlackBerry; writing to World Cup.... You catch my drift. I am a real person, and I find many things in life interesting - even up to a point, at a certain point - and like to write about them.

So, I dunno. I'm thinking the writing/poetry posts will come - the words will force themselves into my psyche - and I will have no choice but to write them. For, whenever I do write about writing and poetry and creative processes, it's because I simply must. I am just a bit wary that I might have to sacrifice subject range on the altar of brand development.

That mightn't be a bad thing. Still, new visitors to my blog will, hopefully, come to understand that writing and poetry, and writing about writing and poetry, are just part of the whole. And, while they're at it, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

All being well, my book will be out in September 2015. Would you look at that? "My book." :-) Thank You, God. At this stage, I'm writing those important sections for inclusion. Y'know? Acknowledgements, intro, bio, and everything like such as... :-)


Saturday, 18 April 2015

Sydney's Home!

We brought my new puppy, Sydney, home today. We, because, although I'm her primary caregiver, she already pretty much belongs to everyone in the family. Yeah, it's like that.

Durie, Kiki and Koko (sis, lil niece and lil nephew) made the road trip to the Kitchener-Waterloo area with me today. It was a joy to finally hold her, knowing she's mine - technically, and yes, I want to be technical - and to share her with the others, too. She's been introduced to all the family via Skype or phone! They think she's a sweetie. :-)

So far, she is adjusting quite nicely. She's used her "pee pad" a few times already, and she knows her way to her food and water. Good girl.

I imagine the first night will be a tad rough for her, but she's already proven she's a real trooper.

Also, you should see her strut her stuff like she's a top contender at Crufts! Lol! Never mind that she's a Pekepoo - Pekingese/Toy Poodle mix. She doesn't know it - and she doesn't care. Clearly.

I'm thankful for her. She is already loved.

Also, also...pics!

It took a while, but I finally got her to stand still enough for a close-up.

This didn't take as long. She knows where to find her food and water.

Yup. She's a snuggler.

Why Sydney? I named her after my favourite TV action character, Sydney Bristow in ALIAS. She was a brilliant CIA agent; a tough kickboxer, and a beautiful, kind-hearted person. Yes, I have the DVDs - in the Rambaldi Box!


Wednesday, 8 April 2015


April is usually celebrated as poetry month. It's in light of this that the Oakville Lit Café holds a poetry competition each April. I think this is the first time (since I started attending) I'll be in town for it. (I'm usually on vacation to celebrate my birthday.) So, I submitted my entry the other day. The entries will be judged by a panel - not the audience. Also, the poems should include three of the judges' given words - all starting with the letter 'E'. Out of the list of about 10 or so, I chose: epiphany, evanescent, and ethereal.

It'd be nice to win.


I hear the distance I travel
I feel the distance I fear
Spanning the height 
Between ground and endless sky
My feet are off the ground
And I am high.

This is neither flying
Nor soaring. An epiphany.
I'm being transported into
A vast nothingness
Losing all sense of context
And motion and time and space
I feel the distance increasing
I go up, up, and away.

Hands over ears
I melt inside
No tears
Can't cry if I can't feel
Now, can I?
Am I there yet?
No, higher yet.

Soon, I morph into a shadow
Of my former self
Looming evanescent
Nothing happens.
My thoughts are crystal clear.

This moving, my doing
This distance, my desire.
Is my fear of heights weaker 
Than my fear of loving you?
Than I fear being loved by you?

I was prepared to die flying
Than I was to die trying
At something new with you.
Something ethereal, yet true.

I don't have a fear of heights
I have a fear of falling
I have a fear of loving
And falling into you.

Update 2015-04-30: I won! :-)


Saturday, 28 March 2015

"You Learn"

Lemme just squeeze in a short poem of mine, as a prelude to a well-known poem. Okay, I think it's well-known. And not just by many, but by heart. Someone introduced me to it when I was in my late teens. At the time, it was attributed to good ol' Anonymous. Enter, Google. The writer was Veronica Shoffstall - or so I thought. The Keepers of the Knowledge of Rightful Attributions - okay, that's not a thing, but it should be - came to the defence of Jorge Luis Borges, an Argentinian writer, pointing out that his was the beautiful soul that had penned those poignant words. It reminds me of Marianne Williamson's "Our deepest fear..." constantly being attributed to Nelson Mandela. But, I digress. The jury should be back by now on "You Learn". (It's sometimes referred to as After A While.) It's the Internet, who knows? What I am sure of is the high degree of relatabilty that burns within the poem. Well, "high degree of relatability" for some. For others, I think you'll appreciate it, nonetheless.

*squeezes in*

All In My Head

Fool me once - shame on you
Fool me twice - shame on me
Fool me thrice - I must like it when you "fool" me.
For a fourth time? I have been fooling myself.

It was all in my head.

Now, over to you, Jorges. (Yes. #TeamJorges.)

You Learn

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth…

And you learn and learn…

With every good-bye you learn.

 - Jorges Luis Borges


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

When Dogs Fly: Part Deux

I'm reporting cessation of Operation Puppy Immigration.

In my previous post, When Dogs Fly, I mentioned I had submitted an online query on CAL's site for CAL Kingston, and I'd got some quick responses. Gonna get into the exchange a bit more and share the responses. You know? Just in cases.

You'll also see why I've had a change of heart and mind re getting a pup from Jamaica to Canada.

About two hours after submitting the query, I heard from Laura. She requested some more information. I gave her guesstimates. And, as I wasn't sure at the time whether they transported pups younger than 12 weeks, I covered both possibilities – in case I had to wait until she got older:

Kennel for 9-week old puppy approx: 15" (L) x 10" (W) x 12" (H) 
Kennel weight approx: 15 pounds
Puppy weight approx: 15 pounds
Kennel for 5-month old puppy approx: 36" (L) x 25" (W) x 27" (H) 
Kennel weight approx: 20 pounds
Puppy weight approx: 30 pounds

Laura replied about an hour after.

Based on these weights the dogs will have be sent via our cargo service. Please see freight cost below:

9 week old puppy at 14kgs actual / 5kgs dimensional
Freight charge             USD $7.68 x 14kgs    140.00 (minimum)
Fuel Surcharge            USD $0.41 x 14kgs     25.00 (minimum)
Security Surcharge      USD $0.07 x 14kgs      10.00
Airway Bill Fee            USD $9.00                     9.00
Total Charge                                               184.00

5 month old puppy at 23kgs actual / 66kgs dimensional
Freight Charge           USD $7.68 x 66kgs    506.88
Fuel Surcharge           USD $0.41 x 23kgs      25.00 (minimum)
Security Surcharge     USD $0.07 x 66kgs      10.00 (minimum)
Airway Bill Fee           USD $9.00                     9.00
Total Charge                                              550.88

Our flight to Toronto operates three times weekly which are Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Our flight departs at 8:30am and arrives at 12:45pm
All shipment must be booked at least three(3) days prior to actual departure date.

I had just a few more questions. Last set. Honest.

So, would we have to visit your office and book in person, or could that be done by phone? 
It is a non-stop flight. So, she would arrive at 12:45 and we proceed to clear her through customs, etc., on that day. Right?
And, I take it CAL Cargo in Kingston would provide us with all details on where to go to collect her when the flight gets in; where to pay landing, processing and handling fees (I called CAL cargo in Mississauga this morning and they told me about those fees), and Canada Border Services Agency, etc.? 

I sent that in the late afternoon. She replied early the next day.

Yes. Our flight is a non-stop into Toronto.
All paper and customs process will have to done the day before departure.

Documents required for shipping
The dog will have to be fully vaccinated by a private vet. You will receive a letter to take to the government vet and from there you have to obtain an export licence from Trade. Also, you will be required to obtain an import permit from country of destination before the dog can be shipped.
(Note: I recall the person I spoke with at Canada Food Inspection Agency saying Canada does not require an import permit. More on Canada's import requirements here.)

 The Procedure to Air Freight Shipment is as follows:
 1. The dog should be place into a kennel that he be able to move around freely.
 2. You are required to complete three (3) sets of forms which are Instructions for Dispatch of Goods, Tally Sheet and Customs C87, which can be purchased for JMD$100.00
 3. You will then take these forms over to the Customs Manifesting Branch, where they will be processed at a cost of JMD $3005.00. You will then return to our warehouse where your documents will be reviewed for acceptance of your shipment.
 4. Your shipment will then be accepted and weighed. All shipment must be booked as least three (3) days prior to scheduled departure and must be delivered to our warehouse the day before departure.

Note: You will need to have with you a valid ID (Driver's Licence, Passport or National ID) and your TRN.

In order to give the cost to ship the dog, we are going to need the weight of the dog inside the kennel as well as the dimensions of the kennel.

Our Handling Company in Toronto info is as follows:

Contact Person: Emile Lazarus
Swissport Cargo Services
Vista Cargo Center, Core G
Silver Dart Drive,
Mississauga Ontario L5P 1B1
Tel #: 905-673-2468
Mr. Lazarus will be able to assist with information for clearance in Toronto.

Kudos to Laura for her fast responses. I let her know how much I appreciated her helping me. Thanks to her, I made an informed decision.

Sigh. And now you know. "And knowing is half the battle." Yeah. Battle. No kidding!

As I'd hinted, I got cracking on researching other breeds - much smaller breeds (or cross-breeds) to boot! Well, wouldn't you know it? I found one! Sis, Durie, and I went to meet her. She'll be ready to come home in about mid-April or so. 

By the looks of it, as Durie said, she's already everybody's puppy! Lol! Another sis, Kar, has already got some puppy food and treats waiting. Another sis, Lat, sent to say she's...and I quote, "Adorable!" Heh heh. My parents really like her, too. My niece, Kiki, can hardly wait! And, yes, I've shown her pic to one of my friends. "Awww." Lol! Don't you just love the Awwws?  All being well, I'll share a few pics of the first meeting in the next post.

Oh! I've decided to name her Sydney.