Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Birthday and All Souls



Today, the 2nd November is All Soul's Day and my husband's birthday.  I normally write about All Souls and just tag on the fact that it's my husband's birthday but today, it's the other way around.

As I write, my husband is very ill, lying in a hospital bed in Port of Spain General Hospital where he is being taken care of by the most amazing team of doctors and nurses. Even though so ill, he insisted that the family take cake and ice cream for the medical staff today. Hardly able to speak, he called me at 6am this morning to ensure I had everything set up including plates, spoons, forks and napkins.  By 9.00am my daughter and I were at his bedside having handed over the goodies to the nursing staff. Visiting is normally 11 am to 1.00pm and  4.00pm - 6.00pm.  We were allowed to stay on the ward with him from the time we arrived until whenever we chose to leave.  I have always made an occasion of  special days in the lives of each family member but I did not for one moment think that today I would be by my husband's bedside in a hospital.  However he is in good hands and we keep positive, strong, united, have faith and a determination  that he will survive this terrible ordeal and heal.


Having brought some people up to date on my husband's state of health, I will now say that All Soul's is a Catholic day of Remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away.  On this day, during Requiem Masses,  the Office of the Dead has to be recited.







The theological basis for the Feast is the belief that those souls which have left the body not perfectly cleansed, or have not fully atoned for past sins, cannot yet see God.  According to some tradition those left on earth  can apparently help these souls on their journey from Purgatory  by praying for them, offering Masses and giving alms.

Today and this evening many families will go to their family plots and graves, gather around and even bring picnic baskets to celebrate those who have gone before them.  Tonight every forgotten grave will be lit up by candles so that the cemetery/ graveyard will just for one night of the year, be bathed in candle light.    I would like to think that visitors would also light a candle on graves of  the forgotten.  In many instances those graves where the loved ones lie are  not forgotten. It's just that for various reasons not everyone can visit a loved one's grave.  My father lies over 4,000 miles away and there is no way I could fly to be at his side tonight. But I can and do light a candle for both he and Mummy at home this evening.  Even now it's burning brightly beside a photograph of them together.

I like  the customs and traditions of some European countries where candles are burning continuously  (24/7)  as one did  on my Austrian grandmother's grave.  Sadly there is no one left there to  look after my grandmother's grave but I do know that the graveyard keepers,  when they know there is no family left, do keep the candles lit.  In some of those countries there is a photograph of the deceased together with an eternal flame.

It would seem that the origins of this day have been attributed to various religious orders.  Some say the Cluny Order (the nuns still teach here in Trinidad), others the Benedictines who are also  still very much here, on Mount St Benedict, a major land mark in this country.




The Benedictine Monastery, Mt St Benedict, Trinidad 

 Whoever it was, it was a wonderful  custom which to this day, is celebrated, not only here but in many Catholic countries.


My wish on this All Souls is that the souls of my departed relatives have found peace.  And whilst I am wishing them peace, I also wish for complete healing and for peace of mind for my very sick husband.  Happy Birthday darling! Uncomfortable though it is and somewhat painful, you can do this!



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

All Saints 1 November 2016




Today, 1 November is All Saints Day which is believed to have been established in the early part of the fourth century and was known as 'Martyrs Day'.  It is a Feast Day which honours all Christian saints whose names we know and those we don't.  Western Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans celebrate this Feast today whereas the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates it on the first Sunday after Pentecost.

In early days many Christians were persecuted by the Romans and died for their belief in God.  To remember those martyrs, various Dioceses set aside special days to celebrate. In the early seventh century the Emperor of the Roman Empire handed over the Pantheon Temple to the then Pope who removed the statues of the Roman gods and consecrated it as 'All Saints' in recognition of all who had died from persecution during the first  three hundred years after Christ.  Pope Gregory 111, in the Diocese of Rome,  instituted the 1 November as All Saints as he consecrated a chapel to all the martyrs, in St Peter's Basilica.  Pope Gregory IV extended the Feast to the entire Church and except in the Eastern Orthodox Church, that is where it remains today.

Then, this is how people came to be made saints and when Christians became free to worship openly, the Church found other ways to recognize sanctity. Early in Christianity people were made saints by popular acclaim which was then sanctioned by the local Bishop. For the last five hundred years or so the path to sainthood has been a much lengthier and a more difficult process.   Sainthood certainly doesn't come as easily as it once did!  Today there has to be proof of extraordinary sanctity in the form of at least one if not two miracles before canonization.  However there are exceptions to every rule as in the case of John XXX111 who does not have a miracle to his name but has other amazing attributes.

In Catholic countries All Saints is a Public Holiday and is seen as a Holy Day of Obligation meaning that one is required to attend Mass.  In other countries, as with many other Feasts, the day has been moved to the nearest Sunday.  Countries and their cultures have different ways of acknowledging and celebrating this Feast.  In Spain, Mexico and Portugal offerings are made.  In Belgium, Hungary and Italy flowers are brought to the graves of dead relatives.  In other parts of Europe, eg Austria, Croatia, Romania  and Poland it is customary to place lighted candles on the graves of relatives.  In parts of Asia, particularly The Philippines, the Feast of All Saints is also observed.  Relatives of those deceased go the graves to clean and repair them, lay flowers and light candles.  In France, church services are held  but by evening the focus has moved towards the dead.  People crowd cemeteries and there is a great deal of cleaning and lighting of candles.  All Saints is closely tied to All Souls which falls on the 2 November  and is dedicated to prayers for the deceased who are not yet glorified.  

All Saints is not a Public Holiday in Trinidad and Tobago but the tradition of the living visiting the family plots in preparation for All Souls is strong and very much part of the culture.  This evening many Trinidadians still put candles in their windows carrying out the age old belief that 'lost souls' will be able to find their way home.  



Happy Feast Day!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Our House - Racquet Versus Mosquito.


Not for the faint -hearted! Strong language!




Only a few of my friends know that my husband has not been at all well for the last few weeks.  In fact, he has not been well for a few months but his health has deteriorated drastically over recent weeks.  However, all is not lost.  He is undergoing treatment for what has already transpired  and all being well, when the 'detectives' find what else is going on in that body of his, we will know what the next move is.  Suffice to say, dialysis is on the cards.

All drama has its humorous moments and as many of you will already know,  especially in our house! My daughter has been spending a great deal of time at home since my husband's health took a bad turn.  Well, you can imagine:

We get alot of mosquitoes. No amount of spray, coils, citronella or other products seem to keep them at bay.  We have what looks like a tennis racquet which is used to zap them.  This is charged so when the little  blighters are zapped, a flash of blue light appears together with a cracking sound  and you hear them leave this earth.


Heard in the Lake household yesterday evening:

A zap!

Daughter: 'There you go mother fucker!'
Me: 'Oh! Really?'

Three more zaps one after the other.

Daughter: 'Aha!'
Me: 'It had brothers and sisters?"

I love it when she comes home!






Friday, August 26, 2016

Blank, Just Blank!

It is so long since I wrote anything, that I wonder if I am still a Blogger.  On my various sites I say I am but since the last bird flew the nest, the Our House series seems to be a thing of the past and with Tess Kinkaid putting Magpie Tales on the back burner,  I seem to have lost interest. Or my poetry disappeared along with my Muse. That damn Muse has given me a great deal of trouble over the last year or so. It also means I don't tweet as much, only occasionally post on Instagram and you may get a daily  'good morning cup of tea with love' out of me on Face Book. That's not to say that nothing is happening in my life! There is plenty happening in my life but nothing that I really want to write about including the fact that I was stung last week by an 'unknown' and ended up having a hydrocortisone steroid fed into me intravenously!!

I could tell you about my days at work, my weekend cleaning sprees, events at the supermarkets, my love of wine, the unusual people I come into contact with who insist on telling me their life stories even though they've only been in my life for two minutes.  My sense of humour seems to have bombed recently.  Maybe it's because of the months of  exasperation when an obviously unwell husband decided he is 'not going to the doctor' but the good news there is that he did go earlier this week.  The tests now begin!

I have lost too many friends for my liking in the last few months and too many friends have lost their husbands/wives. That I believe, has a great deal to do with my lack of interest .  The biggest shock was my ex husband dying unexpectedly in a tragic accident last February.  We hadn't seen each other for over 20 years but had begun to make contact again albeit only occasionally but it seemed that we were slowly learning that we could communicate again without either one making a mountain out of a molehill.  We have a son who had to fly to England to start the 'sorting' out process.  His father was meticulous so it wasn't too bad but it's ongoing which makes life somewhat fraught for him and his two sisters.  Dying is expensive. The one good thing that came out of this, if there is any good to be had in death, is that my ex sister-in-law novelist Elizabeth Harris/Alyc Clare ( http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/37137.Alys_Clare) and I are now back in touch and she kindly sent me wonderful photos of our happy times together.

I have a friend who has been lying in a hospital bed since last October.  She is in a coma.  No tubes apart from one for feeding. Yesterday we received news that a friend of my son and daughter-in-law's whom we also know, had a massive stroke and is lying in the same hospital.  She is in her early 50s, was full of life and cannot now, communicate.

Oh there have been some happy times too - four days in the beautiful sister isle of Tobago,  son and his rally partner doing so well in Rally Barbados 2016, daughter celebrating her 30th birthday for an entire week, son celebrating his 38th birthday for an entire night, our 31st wedding anniversary (well that's a miracle and all part of the 'Our House Series'!!!), babies being born, baptisms and other family celebrations.

It's not all bad.  Apart from the will to write, I need to get my sense of humour back into my writings. I see that there is a 'new' feature on Blogger. Well new to me anyway!! Apparently I can add a 'featured post' which will be dug up from my archives.  Maybe I'll run a couple of the 'Our House' series but then again, I may go with something more serious such as 'Je Suis Charlie' which is on Up Front and Serious   http://exukbritbrat.blogspot.com/




Who knows! I may do nothing at all!






Sunday, February 7, 2016

Carnival 2016 and What Recession??


We are moving into Carnival proper here in Trinidad . The Soca Monarch Finals in the Dimanche Gras Show are taking place as I write and the parties continue.  All of this  leads us into J'ouvert which starts at 4am tomorrow morning (Monday) followed by the start of the 'greatest show on earth', the street party that is Carnival Monday and Tuesday.


J'ouvert is the raw heart of Trinidad Carnival. It is a massive, night-time street party and procession which crystallizes in central Port of Spain in the early hours of Lundi Gras, before the daytime carnival parades. Really it is a continuation of the season’s 'fetes', parties, of the night before as tens of thousands of revellers spill out onto the streets from about two o'clock looking for more fun. They dance till dawn and beyond - J'ouvert (pronounced jouvay) is a creole corruption of the French jour ouvert meaning day break or morning and signals the start of the bacchanalia that is Carnival.

J’ouvert is full of symbols of culture and heritage. It is steeped in tradition and playing mud Mas involves participants known as Jab Jabs covering themselves from head to toe and others in paint, chocolate, mud, white powder or just about anything that sticks. It is J’ouvert custom that no one is clean and a common sight is a being hugged by a muddy revelers. 


This traditional part of Carnival starts at around four in the morning and finishes after sunrise. Calypso, Pan and Soca music are the dominating sounds of J’ouvert in Trinidad and the mass of revellers take the street party wining and chipping their way to the Savannah in Port of Spain in the early hours of Lundi Gras, before the daytime carnival parades.

The roots of J’ouvert in Trinidad go back 200 years, with the arrival of French plantation owners. The French never colonised Trinidad, however elements of their culture remained. J’Ouvert evolved from the Canboulay festivals in the 1800’s, which were night time celebrations where the landowners dressed up and imitated the negres jardins (garden slaves). Following emancipation, the newly freed slaves took over Canboulay, now imitating their former masters imitating them. 

Canboulay revellers, who carried lighted cane torches, were seen as a potential risk by the authorities and the tension mounted leading to the Canboulay riots. It was eventually banned, and then was re established as J’ouvert. The Canboulay Riots are now acted out in the streets during the week leading up to Carnival. The spectacular costumes represent characters and events from the history and folklore. Moko Jumbie Bats, Bookmen, Baby dolls, jab molassie, devil mas are all traditional Carnival characters that capture the elements of the past, and continue to tell the story.




So here we go again, when crime will be at an all time low between Monday and Tuesday, when people have spent, although we are in a recession,  thousands of dollars on costumes they can't afford, when there will be integration of all the races that make up Trinidad and Tobago without any trouble (by Ash Wednesday they will be ignoring or fighting with one another again!), when non-stop music will fill the air, when visitors from all over the world will come and spend their US dollars, UK pounds and Euro dollars.  And we really do need the foreign exchange!



It is a lovely time and the only thing that threatens to spoil it at the moment is the strong possibility of rain!!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Birthday, Mortality and Forgiveness!

I wrote this a few minutes ago on Face Book so would like to share it here.

I am copying and pasting (because it's easier and late in the day) so there will undoubtedly be a white background.  That is the least of my worries.  It's the message I want to get across!!



Over the last two weeks, many of us friends here in Trinidad (and probably further afield) have unexpectedly lost family, friends and acquaintances which has more than shocked us. For me, especially as I have a birthday tomorrow, it has made me realize once again, my own mortality. I normally manage to put that to the back of my mind but today, as I have been doing for the last several weeks, I am facing it head on because the one certain thing in this life is that death is inevitable. No one can get around it and bargaining with the man upstairs doesn't actually cut it!
No there is nothing wrong with me - I am not ill (maybe a little off my rocker at times and for those of you who follow me, know I fall alot!!) but I have decided to put certain things that I thought I had overcome and obviously had not, behind me. I am extending my hand in friendship to those who have hurt me and to those I have hurt. You know, at the end of the day, we can either be forgiving or remain remain hard hearted. I have seen what hard heartedness does and it's not pleasant. It manifests in so many unsuspecting ways, including physical illness. Me? I want peace and harmony and wish the same for the people in my life, be they family or friends. Extending the olive branch is never a sign of weakness.
Life is not a rehearsal people! Decide today what you want out of the rest of yours! With love xxx


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Our House - Of Sneezes and Panda Eyes



So yesterday morning whilst on my way to work, completely out of the blue, I had an attack of the sneezes.  Not one, not two but many, many atishoos!  It seemed to go on forever and I could feel very wet eyes.

We are stationary at a traffic light. I turn to husband:
Me: Is my face black?
Husband: Black?
Why nine times out of ten does he answer a question with a question??
Me: Yes, black!
Husband: What do you mean?
Me: Do I have black on my face?
Husband: Where?
Exasperated now!
Me: Do I have smudged eyes or mascara running down my face?
Husband: No.
Me with watering eyes thinks to self  'he didn't look'.
Get into office, look in mirror and guess what! 
Yup - got it in one! Panda eyes!











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