Sunday, December 30, 2012


Having over the last few days, read horror stories of the weather conditions in  the US and seeing numerous photographs being posted of snow and icicles, I decided to share a particular picture which is a long time favourite of mine.

I couldn't be bothered to dig out the memory stick with the pictures  so I googled it and was most surprised when Google took me to my own website right here on Blogger.  I had posted in 2010.

For those of you living in cold climates and who may be in doubt as to how your icicles are made, here is the answer!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Birthday Girl!


I celebrated a birthday yesterday!  When I was growing up it was a disadvantage as far as I was concerned.  Christmas presents rolled into birthday presents! It fell during the school holidays so once I was away at boarding school and home only for holidays, there were no parties. 

When my husband and I were first married he threw surprise parties for me - a quiet dinner for two at a favourite London restaurant would turn into anything from a party of six to a busload of twenty plus!  It was fun at the time and being with friends I loved was most enjoyable.  Those times are no more but that's fine with me.  They were happy times and we are still in happy times but things change, people change.   Fortunately family, even with its ups and downs stays constant and that is what is important to me.  That and the fact that I still have good friends - different friends. 

Yesterday, apart from my daughter packing madly to leave for New York later in the evening, was relatively quiet.  Her  boyfriend gave me his very own homemade Red Velvet cake which is to die for! I cut it before they left!  I had a ball on Face Book where my cyber party was in full swing.

I don't need parties and  diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire  jewelry designed by my husband and made by bespoke Jewelers.  I need only peace of mind, a happy family, good friends and the ability to thank God for life.  

So whilst I fly from my imaginary chandelier, I thank God for all the experiences I (good and bad) that have made me into who I am today.  People may not like it at times but what you see is what you get!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Happy and Joyful Christmas 2012

I know I haven't been here for a while and my only excuse is the handing over and winding down on the job - which for many reasons, was not easy.  It seems that I will have much more time in 2013 although I do have plans to keep my hand in!

To all who come to my page, in case I don't get back to here before Christmas, I wish each and everyone of you a warm and beautiful Christmas filled with love, laughter, joy, peace and many, many blessings.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Countdown and Karma

Well it's almost here.   The dreaded day could be this coming Friday but I'm now in the situation where I just cannot wait for it to be here.  I have absolutely loathed what has taken place over the last few weeks so it's far better for my loved ones, my health, peace of mind and spirit that we get to it as quickly as possible so that I can let go, smile and walk away!  Imagine after everything that has happened, being told in all seriousness, to make myself available next year as my successor will need my expertise and help!! 

So when I'd picked myself up from the floor, I just shook my head and decided that someone must have a screw loose!

I will probably write about the traumas of it all after my departure when I will be in a position to tell certain people publicly, where to get off.  Names will not be mentioned but they will know who they are.

In the meantime, I can see that karma is already at work!  

I shall pray for those who stabbed me in the back and ask for them to be blessed.  It's the only way I will be able to deal with the unnecessary hurt. 

"Forgive them for they fouled up."


Sunday, December 2, 2012


 Today is the First Sunday of Advent in the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican calendars. Advent is the beginning of the Church Year for most churches in the Western tradition. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30 (the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle) and ends on Christmas Eve, 24 December.  If Christmas Eve is a Sunday, it is counted as the fourth Sunday of Advent.

The word 'advent' is Latin for 'a coming or arrival' so Christians look on Advent as a season of preparation.  It is a time to get ready for the birth of Jesus Christ.

Practicing Christians do special things to mark the holy purposes of the Advent season and many churches have weekly services with a lot of praise, joy and song.During the Advent season many families start making their own creche or manger scene. It has been said that St Francis of Assisi popularized the creche. 

The Advent wreath is part of the long-standing tradition but the actual origins are uncertain. There is evidence of pre-Christian Germanic peoples using wreathes with lit candles during the cold and dark December days as a sign of hope in the future warm and extended-sunlight days of Spring. In Scandinavia during Winter, lighted candles were placed around a wheel, and prayers were offered to the god of light to turn “the wheel of the earth” back toward the sun to lengthen the days and restore warmth. 

The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life. The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly, and yew, immortality; and cedar, strength and healing. Holly also has a special Christian symbolism: The prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns, and one English legend tells of how the cross was made of holly. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. Any pine cones, nuts, or seedpods used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection. All together, the wreath of evergreens depicts the immortality of our soul and the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, who entered our world becoming true man and who was victorious over sin and death through His own passion, death, and resurrection ( Thanks to Fr  William Saunders - The History of the Advent Wreath - Arlington Catholic Herald). 

The four candles that decorate the wreath represent the four weeks of Advent. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken during this season and the rose candle is lit on the third Sunday marking the the midpoint of Advent. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world.

The light signifies Christ, the Light of the world. Some modern day adaptions include a white candle placed in the middle of the wreath, which represents Christ and is lit on Christmas Eve. Another tradition is to replace the three purple and one rose candles with four white candles which will be lit throughout Christmas season. 

Since Advent is a time to stir-up our faith in the Lord, the wreath and its prayers provide Christians with a way to augment the special preparation for Christmas.  The tradition helps us to remain vigilant in our homes and not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. 

For those of you celebrating this wonderful time of 'waiting' I wish you a joyful Advent season.

A note!  When my son saw this photo on my desk top last year he asked in typical  British humour fashion: 'so what happens to the next candle when we get to week two"!!  You think it's easy?!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fiery End


Photograph courtesy Tess Kinkaid, Magpie Tales

They said you were comfortable
In your early days
You were younger

Everyone wanted a part of you
On your sturdy arm  
Needing total ownership 

No one was able to have you
You were aloof icily
Forever standing alone

I never liked you anyway 
Just like your owner 
You're joining him

Barbara M Lake ©
Trinidad, WI
November 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012

To all my American friends, a very Happy Thanksgiving

May your lives be filled with
blessings and an abundance of all things good 

May your day be filled with joy as you give thanks and may you be surrounded with love, peace and fulfillment on this special holiday.
 and  I  simply cannot let this day pass without posting my all time favourite photograph.
If anyone is having problems trying to find the turkey, you may just want to check unlikely places around the house!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Sorry friends!

Am not around here at all until after Saturday.  Am part of a team bringing the final touches to a Convention being held on  on Saturday 24 November and it's all systems go!  I need sleep!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Carols and Gas

Magpie 143

Verdon 1917, by Felix Vallatton
Photo courtesy Tess Kinkaid. Magpie Tales on Blogger

Christmas Day
Nineteen fourteen
A friendly call
From the trenches
Both sides and allies 
Wandering into no man's land
Exchanging gifts
Singing carols
A game of football
United in Christ
Boxing Day
Nineteen fourteen
Back to the trenches
Fighting a war
With mustard gas
And bullets

For my grandfather who was there and whose birthday it is today
He did aged 98 in 1981

Barbara M Lake  ©
Trinidad WI
November 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Divali - Festival of Lights (A Repost) November 2012

 Divali - Festival of Lights (Trinidad Style)

Today Tuesday 13 November  is the Hindu Festival of Divali otherwise known as the Festival of Lights which celebrates light over dark, good over evil. 

Divali was first brought to Trinidad by Hindu indentured labourers in 1845 and is a five day festival. The word Divali itself means "row of lights" During the festival homes are completely cleaned and windows are opened to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Lamps are lit as a greeting to Lakshmi, gifts are given and festive meals are prepared. 

The climax of Divali is the lighting of deyas after sundown - a delightful experience that should never be missed. In yards, open spaces, staircases, roundabouts and porches, deyas are lit by the thousands. 

They are also placed on bamboo stalks bent into fantastic shapes and designs. In villages where there is a strong Hindu presence, it is common to see whole streets decorated in this manner.

Bamboo bending is an absolute art in itself and it takes hours to produce the beautiful designs.  The men normally work in teams to create the centre pieces for the festival. Last year (2010), in the Trinidad Guardian, according to one team leader, Boodram “Gable” Bissoondial, "one of the first things is to start with the end in mind."  Meaning what you want the product to look like when completed. 

Bamboo is not just bamboo. One has to choose the bamboo very carefully. For “road way” bamboo designs (bamboo lengths running parallel to each other placed on short stubs), Gable noted that you need to choose long lengths of bamboo that are not very wide in width. He said, "for bamboo that would form “rose designs,” you need to consider width more than length, since you have to split that type of bamboo into eight pieces. 

Safety is of major importance when bamboo bending. According to Gable, there is no need for "fancy-fancy" (local expression) tools, just the need for rolls of wire and two-and-a-half inch nails, with hammer in hand.. The pieces of bamboo must be tacked down to ensure they don't fall out causing harm to anyone and the edges of the bamboo have to be shaved so that no one can be scratched. Unshaven bamboo can be painful!

he following is taken from and written by Dr. Kumar Mahabir (October 14, 2009) 

Divali is the defining event that marks Trinidad as a multi-religious, multi-ethnic society with Hindus comprising the second largest religious group (24 percent) after Roman Catholics in the twin-island population of 1.3 million people. While Divali is essentially a Hindu festival, people of all faiths actively join in celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. Non-Hindu adherents are attracted to the festival's universal message as well as to the extravaganza that is not only unique but also provides a clean environment for the cultivation of a healthy body, mind and soul.
Nowhere else in the world do non-Hindus and non-Indians actively take part in the lighting of over 10 million deyas on a single night in the year. These tiny clay lamps are lit in homes, yards, streets, offices, public parks and playing fields. It is perhaps only in Trinidad that one can find split bamboo tubes transformed into magnificent works of art on which the deyas are placed. The split bamboo strips reach out toward neighboring houses, streets and communities to symbolize the popular local mantra "all ah we is one." 

To all my Hindu friends and all who will be celebrating, Shub Divali

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget 11/11/2012

In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses row on row, 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the Dead. Short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
In Flanders fields.

Sunday 11 November 2012
Photographs below taken from The London Mail on Sunday

Overseas: British soldiers, part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, observe a moment of silence during a ceremony at a NATO base in Helmand province, Afghanistan


Old soldiers Never Die

My heart is in my mouth today as I remember that attending Remembrance Day Services worldwide and seeing my father on parade was part of growing up.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Magpie 142

Charis, Lake Ediza California 1937, by Edward Weston
Photo courtesy Tess Kinkaid Magpie Tales on

With easy grace you look
Into my camera
Which loves you so
As do I
Your adoring husband

Pure elegance unmatched
By any other
Who I may know
No one else
Love of my life

Barbara M Lake ©
Trinidad WI
November 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

All Souls and Happy Birthday Wishes.

Photo taken from  All Souls' Day Customs  adapted from Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs by Fr Francis Weiser

All Soul's Day is a Roman Catholic day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away.  It is celebrated on 2 November, or if it falls on a Sunday. on the 3 November.  The Office of the Dead must be recited by the clergy at all Masses and those Masses are to be Requiem.  

The theological basis for the feast is the doctrine that  those souls which leave the body not perfectly cleansed, or have not fully atoned for past sins cannot yet see God.  Those left on earth can apparently help these souls by praying for them, giving alms and offering Masses which will help in their release from Purgatory.

There are many customs and rituals followed in various countries. In Trinidad, the cemeteries and grave yards are cleaned up in the days leading up to All Souls.  Relatives normally visit the family graves on the 1 November (All Saints) to pimp and preen for the following day.

Today many families will go to their family plots or single plots, gather round and even bring picnic baskets.  Tonight every non-forgotten grave will be lit up by candles so that the cemetery will just, for one night of the year, be bathed in candle light.  It would be nice to think that the visitors will put candles on the forgotten graves as well.  I think it's as well to remember that not all graves that appear to be  'forgotten', actually are.  Circumstances don't always allow for people to visit.

I like the customs of some European countries where a candle is burning at the grave continuously as it was for my Austrian grandmother. Sadly there is no one left to burn the candle but I know the cemetery keepers do tend to keep the flame alight.  Then there are the countries where the grave has a photo of the deceased with the burning candle.

It would seem that this day of remembrance comes from the ancient Pagan Festival of the Dead.  The Pagan belief is that the souls of the dead return for a meal with the family (hence the picnic baskets??)  Candles in the window would guide the souls back home and another place was set at the table.  Children would come through the village asking for food to be offered symbolically to the dead, then donated to feed the hungry.

The Christian  origins of the day have been attributed to various religious orders - some say the Cluny Order, others the Benedictines.  If it was started by St Odilo of Cluny  at the Cluny Abbey in France, the tradition is 1012 years old.  Other monasteries throughout France adopted  the tradition and it quickly spread throughout the western church.  It was only in the 14th century that this day was officially recognized by Rome.

So this evening I will light candles by the photos of my parents.  I do this on birthdays, anniversaries and sometimes just on any day that I feel like it.

And when we have said a prayer and blown out the candles, we will light the candles on my husband's birthday cake and give thanks for his life as he goes rushing into another year with guns blazing.  He  thinks he's still twenty!!!

Click here for more graphics and gifs!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

1 November 2012 All Saints, a Repost

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'.  All Saints is a Feast Day which honours and remembers  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 churches observe it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. 

In the 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 Roman Emperor handed over the Pantheon Temple to the Pope who removed the statues of the Roman gods and consecrated it as 'All Saints in recognition of those who had died  from persecution during the first three hundred years after Christ.   Pope Gregory III instituted the 1 November as 'All Saints' in the diocese of Rome 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 that is where it remains today except in the Orthodox churches.  

That is how people came to be made saints in the early days 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 500 years, the path to sainthood has been a much lengthier process  and includes necessary proof of extraordinary sanctity.

In Catholic countries this day is a Public Holiday and is seen as a holy Day of Obligation meaning that one is required to attend Mass.  In other countries, the day is moved to the nearest Sunday.  Countries and cultures have different ways of acknowledging and celebrating this feast.  In Spain, Portugal   and Mexico offerings are made.  In Belgium, Hungary and Italy flowers are brought to the graves of dead relatives.  In other parts of Europe such as Austria, Croatia, Poland and Romania it is customary to light candles which are placed on the graves.  In parts of Asia such as The Philippines it is also observed.  Relatives go to the graves of the dead, 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 much cleaning and lighting of candles.  All Saints is closely tied to All Souls' Day, held on the 2 November which is dedicated  to prayers fir the dead who are not yet glorified.  

'All Saints' is not a public holiday in Trinidad  but the tradition of the living, visiting the family grave in preparation for the 2 November, is strong and very much part of its culture.  On the  night of the 1  November,  some Trinidadians still put lighted candles in their windows carrying out the age old belief that 'lost souls' will be able to find their way home. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dans Le Parapluie Plis


Photograph courtesy of Tess Kinkaid
Magpie Tales on Blogger

Pointy toes almost touching
One another
Hands in pockets
Nonchalant intimacy
For all to see

Misty morning raindrops
Like crystals 
Landing on lashes 
Brushing cheeks
Like butterfly wings 

This day is dawning
Inevitable delay
In saying goodbye
Heavenly tears 
Dans le parapluie pris

Barbara M Lake ©
Trinidad 2012
October 2012

I am reminded of 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ater the Ball

Many thank to Willow of Willow Manor for the fun filled twenty four hours. A  great deal of fun.  Here's to next year!

God, my feet hurt and my head's still fuzzy!  I did not have absinthe or rum - I stuck to bubbly!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

On My Way and Have Arrived. Willow Manor Ball 2012

At last I have left Trinidad!  I was swept through (I think it was the luggage)  and am now sitting at 35,000 feet relaxing.

And when I say relaxing, I mean it.  I passed up on the Buck's fizz and my first drink on the flight  was a Kir Royale the taste of which takes me back to happy times in the Ivory Coast.  A glass of champagne with a touch of blackcurrant liqueur . Bliss!

There was a light change in plan as Placido had to make a guest appearance at a Charity Gala at the New York Met 

but that's not a problem as it gives me a few extra flying hours during which time I can get myself into some sort of order.

The lady below of course if not me but I wanted to give you some idea of what my flight accommodation looks like.

I will be met in New York by  a friend who will ensure that I get to the jet without any hassle.  We will wing our way to Dublin, Ohio where Tess and her friends will soon be gathering.

Placido will be ahead of me by about three quarters of an hour so will be well settled by the time I board.  ( I could die when I think that I took John Travolta last year but one thing in his favour was his ability to dance!)

I thought perhaps you'd like to see the inside. Some I looked at were definitely over the top so I thought we'd go with this one - cheaper too! 

Coming from the Caribbean I know I'm going to feel the difference in temperatures so I threw a  conservative Donna Karan over my arm

which I will wear with a pair of old favourites,  Jimmy Shoo boots

The dress (well two actually) is packed, the shoes are packed, the jewels are packed (in my hand luggage) and the mask is packed, also in my hand luggage.  I had to pay extra to AA because I had more than one suitcase - I should have travelled via Caribbean Airlines because they allow you two pieces.

If I haven't got it altogether now, well - I'll just have to fake it!

I wonder if we'll have any little by the way dramas in the wings! Jealous partners and all that.  It happens.  Last year, or was it the year before, Nigella disappeared at the same time as a prominent figure!  I see hers is a little less rounded these days!

Here's to a happy Willow Manor Ball where elegance will prevail!  See you all there!

By the way, I have already sent the kegs of Trinidad rum aged in oak ahead so that Jacqui and Johnny could check them out before serving.  I didn't send the entire distillery!

Oh and lookee here - here comes the flight attendant again. Thank you so much!

We have arrived and are circulating!

I went against everything I had planned and have ended up in this which I know you've all seen somewhere else before!

The cap sleeves and gloves solved the arm problem!

You can see the jewels so I don't have to describe them.

I have a pair of much loved Jimmy Choos on - shorter heels than usual for me but the dress wouldn't take anything higher.

I decided on some colour.

Why does that man with the twitching eye  keep staring at me?? His eye is hooded. Does that mean he's hoodwinked?? Why isn't he wearing a mask? That would cover the blinking eye!

The Manor looks wonderful as always.  It has been worth the journey.

Ah there's Tess and Helen so will say bye for now and see you all later.
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