Sunday, January 30, 2011

Which Direction?

MAG 50

Photograph courtesy of Tess Kincaid, Magpie Tales

Behind me
Well trodden
And worn

Before me
Pristine perfect
And pure

Left of me
Unappealingly dull
No interest

Right of me
Mysteriously enticing 
Decision made


Friday, January 21, 2011

Before Feminism

Mag 49 


 Photograph courtesy of Tess Kincaid,  Magpie Tales

 Before Suffragettes

Chained to fences

Before Emmeline Pankhurst

Saw jail three times

Before Emily Davison

Died under a horse

Before Margaret Mitchell

Wrote  Gone with the Wind 

Before women gained

Their right to vote

Before miniscule minis

Showed everything off

Before Germaine Greer

Said burn your bra

Before wonderful Woodstock

Spawned free love

Before Erica Jong

Wrote you-know-what

Before Linda Lovelace

Shocked us all

Before the seventies

Flower power era

Before animal rights

Made us feel guilty

Ladies in furs

Wrapped for the weather

In bonnets and muffs

Took untold delight

In spending their time

Skating on ice

With what seemed 

Not a care in the world


Before you judge

Their frivolous  pastime

Give a thought

To their past

And their legacy


Barbara M Lake

January 2011, Trinidad WI


Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Notes of Life

Mag 48


Photograph courtesy of Tess Kinkaid

A breve
A semi breve
A minin
A crotchet
A quaver
A semi quaver

Flat sharp
Double flat
Double sharp
Flat and a half
Sharp and a half

Symbols written
On a 

A decrease
An increase
So many
Notes and terms
On paper
Describing life

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Haiti - A Year Later & Oil

A year to the day after the Haitian earthquake in which more than 230,000 lost their lives  and over a million still remain homeless what has been done?  Not only did the nation suffer that devastating quake but before it could even begin to think about regaining its strength, it was hit by Hurricane Tomas.  As if that wasn't enough, Cholera hit and to date over 3,500 people died.  They died because they weren't properly treated, medically.  Cholera in this day and age is not a killer - except if one lives in the devastated Haiti. Add all that to political savagery and you have a country which really has no chance of ever getting off the ground.

I was  watching BBC World News this morning. A Director from one of the British Aid organizations said that things are exactly as they were a year ago.  Nothing has moved or been moved.  Rubble is still lying where it fell.  Faith-based workers insist that some progress has been made but given that in addition to the rubble, the Presidential Palace is still in ruins, thousands are living in 'tent city'  and others are living in tents amongst broken stained glass windows and  more rubble in the grounds of the destroyed Catholic Cathedral, that's hard to believe.
The aid response has been severely criticized.  Questions are being asked as to the whereabouts  of  missing monies and why monies pledged from various governments have not come through.  

As a service was conducted at a mass burial site in Haiti with President Preval laying a wreath to commemorate the dead, President Obama released a statement in which he   commended the US's role in "one of the largest humanitarian efforts ever attempted" adding that helping the poorest nation would take decades.  "Still too much rubble continues to clog the street, too many people are still living in tents and for so many Haitians progress has not come fast enough."

So just why hasn't more been done? Billions of dollars in aid were promised from countries around the world, nonprofit organizations supposedly raised hundreds of millions in the weeks following the quake and the Roman Catholic Church here in Trinidad raised over 3 million US$ in less than a week.  Many of those countries have not followed through on their pledges and it is alleged that crucial funds have been misspent.

According  to a Chronicle of Philanthropy survey of 60 major relief organizations 
the US gave more than $1.4 billion to relief aid but only 38% of that has been spent to provide recovery and rebuilding aid.

A leading international charity has criticized the relief effort, calling it a "quagmire" saying that the recovery commission chaired by former US President Bill Clinton had "failed to live up to its mandate". Clinton's response was that he wished more could have been done. "Look, nobody has been more frustrated than I am that we haven't done more".

Why has the world given up on Haiti?  Granted Haitian Presidents have ruled by fear, corruption has been rife for years and years but that together with the fact that it was barely running prior to the earthquake is not an excuse.  People are involved here. Human beings who deserve to be able to live their lives with dignity. 

Where has the money that was supposed to deliver the goods, gone?         

Interestingly, it has been said that beneath the rubble and tragedy of Haiti lies what some believe to be the world's richest zones for oil and gas hydrocarbons outside of the Middle East.  If this is the case then the rumours of the US, France and Canada working on dividing the island for future mineral control, under the guise of relief work, are possibly true.  Apparently China is objecting to such a division of Haiti's wealth.   So it could be that everyone wants in on the act which would account partially, for the slowness of the 'clean up'

Not even aid comes free!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An Award

I have had such a pleasant surprise.  A fairly new friend, Lady Wellington (aka LadyCat) who has a beautiful blog,  has given me an award -  the  'stylish blogger award' and I'm absolutely thrilled.   Thank you so much LadyCat for including me on your list.

So I'm going to pass it on to recently discovered bloggers although I am going to include just one dear friend who should be a 'recently discovered' to many.  I cannot leave her off my list because her talents which are many,  should not be hidden away!  So I hope LadyCat will not mind that I have included her.

So this is how it works:

*   thank and link back to the person who awarded me
*   share seven things about myself
*   pay it forward to 15 recently discovered bloggers
*   contact those bloggers about the award

Somethings about myself:

..... have lived in Trinidad, West Indies since 1992 - the longest I have ever lived anywhere!
..... am allergic to shellfish

..... can't abide liars

..... have a half written book which my daughter says I  have no excuse for not  finishing now that certain people are dead!!

..... always wanted to go to Drama School but my father said I had to 'get a proper' job!

..... have what my mother called my sixth sense - I dream disasters as they are happening or when they are about to happen - rather wish I didn't but I live with it

..... had a perforated duodenal ulcer at 33 which brought me to he brink of death after which I lost all fear of dying.

And now I pass the award onto these recently discovered (with the exception of  Creative Journey) stylish bloggers.

Bateau deBanane  Birdie's Nest
Blue Chair Diary
dream life
Home Truths
Lupus in Flight 
My Five Men
Things Rattling Around In My Head
under the microscope
Creative Journey

I would like to pass it back to LadyCat but I don't think I'm allowed to do that! 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Not an Option


Photograph Courtesy of Tess Kincaid

Like trapeze artists
Holding on
In the knowledge
That  supporting
Each other
The only way
To ensure
That falling
Is not

© Barbara M Lake   
January 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christmas is Officially Over

Christmas is officially over!

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany  although because the  Roman Catholic church has deemed that it is no longer a Holy Day of Obligation,  it is, in some places celebrated on the nearest Sunday to the 6 January.   I have never been able to understand how certain days are no longer Holy Days!

St Matthew's Gospel is the only one which mentions the wise men and he didn't write 'three'.  He merely mentions them in the plural. The Eastern (Orthodox) Church has always depicted the Magi as being twelve in number.

Matthew does describe them as opening their coffers and giving Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The early church in the West portrayed them as being three in number  which was probably arrived at because of the three gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The Magi it appears were not Jews.  it has been said that they represented each of the three races of the world – African, Asian and European.  Until the arrival of the Magi, all of the characters in the Christmas story are Jewish. Jesus himself was Jewish and his birth, which was foretold by Jewish prophets, was the fulfillment of the promises God had made to his chosen people, the Jews.  But with the arrival of the Magi  bearing gifts and paying homage to the Christ child comes the first indication that Jesus  had come to preach his message to the whole world, not just the Jewish people. 

So today being twelfth night is the day we in the West take down our Christmas decorations.  My mother was hot on that so I hope when I get home this evening my daughter has taken them down.  Funny how everyone is eager to put them up but no one ever wants to take them down and pack them away. Not because the rooms will look bare but because it seems like too much hard work!!!

Happy day whether you celebrate this Feast or not. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tip by Tip


Soft brown leather gloves
Beautifully lined
Protecting my hands
From cold sleet and snow
In depths of a Yorkshire winter

Now by the fireside
Warm and safe
Carefully pulling tips
Of gloves inch by inch
Gently removing each finger by finger 

I had no idea then
How each movement
Gave you pleasure
How much you found
My naturally slow actions so sensuous

Soft brown leather gloves
Bring back memories
Of a time long ago
When eyes gave away feelings
With the simple removal of gloves

© Barbara M Lake
January 2011 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Day 2011

We celebrated the incoming New Year at home.  We had two invitations but I made the decision that because my husband hasn't been well since before Christmas and because to be on the safe side, I'd put him on antibiotics, he would go to bed early (in the hope of feeling better today) and I would have a quiet evening.  My daughter turned down all her invitations saying that she would prefer to stay at home.  So husband in bed, daughter and I decided to curl up with drinks, television and lap top.  Come midnight we refilled our glasses (my daughter is a very generous pourer - runs in the family!) and went outside to watch the fireworks. Husband came outside, the three of us exchanged hugs, kisses, good wishes and love  for 2011.  Spoke to my son and his new bride within minutes of the start of 2011 - that was one of the invitations I'd declined.  Husband returned to bed and daughter and I refilled glasses yet again. Phones started ringing, we rang a few friends, sent text messages and refilled our glasses.  We sat, talked, laughed and I'm not sure how many times my husband came outside and went back to bed again or how many times we had refilled our glasses before we decided  at almost 3am to call it a night, go inside and go to bed!!

We spend every New Year's Day with very dear friends at their home.  Well I say day - it starts around 2pm and one can expect anywhere between 80 to a 100 people to be there. They always put on the most fantastic lunch.  The food is wonderful, the bar has every drink one can imagine and the company is sparkling.   I know that a great deal of thought and hard work goes into the day but the hosts make it look so easy. The guests who are scattered inside and outside of the house are made to feel so at home - this generous couple have the art of entertaining down to a T.

One of the highlights of the day is the entertainment after lunch.  In Trinidad we have Parang groups and for those of you who don't know what that is, here's a little information.  I have taken some of the following from  'Soca Parang/Parang Soca compiled by Francisca Allard'.

Trinidad and Tobago is best recognized as the land of Calypso and Steelpan, however during the Christmas season, the music is Parang.

Parang comes from the Spanish word know as "parranda" (action of merry making, group of serenaders). In Trinidad it refers to folkloric music of Hispanic American origins.  Parang's origins are controversial. First theory of parang music originated during Christianity of Amerindians by French Clergy Indians in (Spanish) Missions. This does not explain the frequent references to Venezuela. The second theory is that parang music was introduced by Venezuelans imported to work in the cocoa estates which has some merit. Definitely, the close interactions with Venezuelans where parang is also played has matured to a popular form of music not only in Trinidad & Tobago but throughout the Caribbean.

Traditional parang bands often referred to as "Parenderos" consist of four to six singers accompanied by musicians who play guitar, cuatro, mandolin (bandolin) , violin, cello (violoncello), bandol (bandola), box bass, tambourine, clapper, toc-toc (claves), wood block pollitos, tiple, scratcher (g├╝iro) and maracas (chac-chac or shak-shak).

Parang bands move from house to house in neighbourhoods serenading family and friends. It is customary for families to greet the Paranderos with drinks and food, following specific steps or rituals that accompanied the entry to the home, the dedication of songs to the host, the eating and drinking and then the departure. The festive season begin in mid October and goes approximately to January 6, the feast of Epiphany. 

Lopinot ParanderosThe traditional lyrics of parang which is sung in Spanish were at one time mainly Religious and Christian songs. Today there are new and different styles and categories of parang called Aguinaldos (also known as Serenales), Guarapos and Despendidas. In the last several years Soca and Calypso have fused with parang creating Soca-Parang with lyrics in English which appeals to the North American Christmas with Santa and lots of gifts. 

So today, after lunch the Parang group arrived and as always had the house 'bopping'.   Parang is very happy.  I took quite a few photos one of which I'm sharing with you here.  I only wish that I had recorded some of it.  Maybe YouTube can help me out before the end of the season.

When Parranderos are performing during the season or in competitions, they wear extremely colourful clothes. 


These were our Parranderos today and what wonderful if very different music, they made.

My daughter is still at the party (it's 10.15pm - long lunch eh?), my husband is in bed but feeling very much better thank God and I'm at my computer with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon at my side.  I think my daughter and I killed all the Chardonnay in the house, last night!

So as we celebrate all the elevens - 1/1/11, I have to say that in all honesty I have mixed feelings about 2011. I don't normally make resolutions but  I'm a great believer in 'one day at a time' so this year I'm actually going to listen to myself and do my best to let it be my mantra for the year!

How was your day?
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