Sunday, December 14, 2014

I Lit a Candle Today.....

Twenty eight years ago today, the 13 December 1986, you left us and life has  never been quite the same.  It was unexpected and I was very, very  angry.  Angry with God that He had taken you home.  Angry because my daughter was only six months old and would not know you.  Angry because my eight year old son who idolized you was devastated. Angry because your wife, my mother had no idea of how to cope without you.  Angry because my husband lost who he considered, was his best friend.  Angry because you went two weeks short of of my fortieth birthday.  Angry because you were so full of life, had a sparkle that so few possessed and  had a love for life that was all consuming. We were not ready.

I now understand why thirty years after your mother's untimely death, you would cry.  

I lit a candle for you today and prayed that you are at peace, reunited with  with your wife, my Mummy and that next year the emptiness for me, will have eased slightly.

I wrote the following post last
year and even now, so many years on, every year seems like it was only yesterday.

Twenty seven years ago today Daddy went home. It was unexpected and a tremendous shock to us as a family and all who knew him.  The pain never really goes away.  Today I raise my glass to a great man -a no nonsense man who had amazing charisma, a great sense of humour, did not suffer fools gladly, who under a strict tutelage helped make me the person I am today and who was a mentor to many.

This photo was taken in the early 60s  in Germany when his regiment was on exercise  (playing war games), probably with the thought that taking over Berlin was not beyond the realms of possibility at the time!  Here he is having a drink with those he commanded.  He looks terribly relaxed but anyone who knew him, knew that he was so sharp, nothing would escape him.  He could talk with Queens and the men under him, inspire from afar and indeed there are still people  around today, who say they are where they are today because of him. He left us far too soon.  

And because this photo was taken in Germany, I say "Prost!  -ein Toast!" .  To you my darling Daddy. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mein Namenstag - Fourth December

Being of European origin on my mother's side (Austrian) as a child my Namenstag (Name Day) was celebrated with happiness and much vigour!  I began to wonder if it was more important than my birthday which falls between Christmas and New Year.  As a child my Christmas and birthday presents seemed to meld into one!   Tomorrow, the 4 December is in Austrian, Mein Namenstag - in other words, my Name Day.

There is a  great deal of speculation attached to St Barbara  but whatever there is, the lady was removed from the Liturgical Calendar of the Roman Rite in 1969. In other words, made redundant!  She was removed by Pope Paul VI apparently because there was no reference to her in early Christian writings.  Strange then that one can actually find quite a great deal written about her.  St Barbara seems to be quite a popular saint even now in modern times.  She is known as the Patron Saint of artillerymen, military engineers, miners and others who work with explosives because of her legendary association with lightening and mathematicians. Here is where our association could well end as my interaction with mathematics was a disaster throughout my school career. Never mind that a great deal of my working life has had to do with figures!!  It is also said that she is the Patron Saints of Masons which may have more to do with her being banished to the back benches than the supposed little reference to her works in early Christian writings!!

Barbara was the daughter of a rich pagan, Dioscorus who kept her shut up in a tower in order to preserve her from the outside world. (What, no Rapunzel!?)  Unknown to her father she became a Christian after which she rejected the man her father had chosen to be her husband.  Legend has it that her father before leaving on a long journey had a bath house built for her.  (The first bathroom???)   During his absence, Barbara had three windows installed as a symbol of the Holy Trinity.    I am not sure why this is relevant but historians and theologians obviously thought it significant as originally only two were proposed.

When Barbara's father returned from wherever he had been, she revealed to him that she was now a Christian which made him pull out his sword - either to frighten or kill her. Who knows?  She prayed and miraculously the walls of the tower opened and she was apparently transported to a mountain gorge where two shepherds were minding their flocks. Dioscorus, following his daughter was rebuffed by the first shepherd but  the second betrayed her after which he was turned to stone and his flock, to locusts. Taken by her father to the Prefect of the Province,  Martinianius Barbara was cruelly tortured. (Nice father!) During the nights, the dark prison was bathed in lights and miracles occurred.   Every morning it was seen that her wounds from the torturing had healed.   Torches that were lighted to burn her immediately went out when they were put near her so finally she was condemned to death by beheading.  Her father carried out the evil deed.  On his way home after the beheading, the man was struck by lightening and in flames, burned to death.  Barbara was buried by a Christian named Valentinus and her tomb became the site of many miracles.

In the 12th century Barbara's relics were taken from Constantinople to St Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in Kiev where they were kept until sometime in the 1930s.   They were then transferred to St Vladinimir's Cathedral, also in Kiev.  

Orthodox Christians including Anglicans have never stopped venerating St Barbara and I think it's sad that she was removed from the 'official list'!!  Artillery regiments throughout the world celebrate their Patron Saint on the 4 December.  The US Artillery Associations both army and air defence maintain the Order of St Barbara and in the mining town of Kalgoorlie in Australia, she is venerated in the annual St Barbara'd Day Parade.  (They know a good thing when they see it!).  "Mein Namenstag" is also celebrated throughout Latin America.

I'm not sure I look a great deal like her and I'm not sure that I'd have had her courage!

Patron Saint of Miners

Postscript:  The beauty (or irony?)  is that my father, after realizing that a Michael John had not come into this world, wanted to name his daughter Josephine.  My mother disliked the name and promptly set about convincing her husband that 'Barbara' was a great name.  He finally agreed not knowing that that was the name of the heroine in a book my mother had just finished reading!! Having done a recent research on my paternal grandmother on I learned that her middle name was Josephine!  I never knew that before!  I am so glad that my mother was reading that book because I think 'Barbara' has a better story to tell than 'Josephine' who was not admitted to the scrolls until the 1800s.

Four Burners, One Light htpp://

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Advent - A Time of Waiting

The Advent Wreath in Christ Church Cathedral, Photograph  Patrick Comerford 2010

(This was taken in part from my blog Advent and the New Roman Missal, 27 November 2011)

Tomorrow, Sunday 30 November 2014 marks 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.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

For all my American friends, it's that time of year again.  Thanksgiving.  So to each and everyone of you in my life, either on line or in touching distance, I wish each of you,  a very Happy Thanksgiving.   May your lives continue to be filled with blessings and an abundance of all good things.    May your day and your holiday weekend be filled with joy as you give thanks and may you all be surrounded by love, peace and fulfillment at this special time.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bleak Winter


Snowstorm, Maurice Vlaminck
Courtesy Tess Kinkaid :

Winding country roads
In so many places
When cold, stark winter 
 Takes over 
Northern hemisphere

The story's the same
Blizzards and muddy sludge
In New York  State
North Europe 
Yorkshire moors 

Motorists carefully steering
Over treacherous black ice
That cannot be seen
Transparent beneath
Churning slush

Dark dreary afternoons
All around is dim
But distant lights shine
Welcoming home
Loved one

Barbara M Lake  ©
Trinidad WI
November 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Without A Song

Magpie 246

Photograph courtesy  of Tess Kinkaid
Magpie Tales on Blogspot:

So many songs
Have been sung
About highways
And those

Long Ninety Nine 
Miles to LA
Will you 
Be There?

You drove all
Night to be 
With me
You should've

This is not
A country road
Taking me 
Home but famous
Route 66

So many songs
Too Many memories
Better you
Hit the Road

Barbara M Lake ©
Trinidad WI
November 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Awesome Start to Conference

Awesome start this evening to our 2nd Annual Catholic Women's Conference being held here in Trinidad, West Indies by The Missionaries of the Divine Potter, headed by Bernadette Burke who apart from speaking locally, speaks in Tanzania and Latin America.

We have four international speakers. Today was not an easy day for me for several reasons but when we opened this evening, all my concerns went out of every window in sight.

This weekend promises to be awesome.  With an amazing choir which has been practicing for months we welcomed Carolyn Yendell who is an inspirational presenter who plays an active role in women's ministry and has participated in Conferences in St Louis, Missouri. She is the Director of Liturgy and Pastoral Associate  at St Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church.  That is only part of her  portfolio!

Dr Anna Kasafi Perkins, a theologian and former Dean of studies of St Michael's Theological College in Jamaica gave a fantastic talk. You can learn more about her here.

Theology students use her papers when studying but let me tell you, apart from the serious side, she has a fantastic sense of humour when it comes to addressing a convention.

Other international speakers coming up this weekend are Dr Carol J Razza, full time faculty member and formation advisor at St Vincent de Paul Seminary, Florida. ,

Dr Dr Carol J Razza

And  Teresa Tomeo bestselling author, talk show host and motivational speaker with over thirty years experience in tv, radio and print

Teresa Tomeo

I am somewhat overawed by this line up!  But I know the rest of the weekend is going to be awesome!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Natalake 101: Hey I'm Mixed

I am sharing my daughter's blog which is her take on being, for want of a better expression, the product of an interracial marriage.  Honest, interesting and refreshing.  She has it right but then again I wouldn't expect anything less from her. She's a star!

Natalake 101: Hey I'm Mixed: Being mixed today is celebrated on social media. When you meet people for the first time they ask "What are you?" . I have been m...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

So Farewell Gracie. Soar with Angels.....

This evening a group of us gathered to say final nine night prayers for our dear Gracie who died the Sunday before last at the age of 84.  This was no usual 84 year old. She never made a fuss but was an active and driving force in Ministry, nothing was ever too much trouble; on the Saturday before she went home she was hard at it helping out at a parish retreat; she  drove her car during the day (without glasses) and had two wonderful dogs who are now bereft.

Gracie went to Mass that Sunday morning, did what she had to do in setting out the gifts, talked to and welcomed parishioners into the church  and after Mass, went home. No one really knows exactly what happened next.  It would appear that she sat on the settee in her living room, had a cup of coffee and suddenly, totally relaxed, legs stretched out and feet crossed, went home.  No one thought to call her or check on her on the Sunday afternoon when she did not come to open the church for the end of the retreat. Had the people who had been running the retreat been  our normal crowd of which Gracie was very much a part, someone would have gone to find her.  But someone else opened the church that afternoon  and no questions were asked.  That was perhaps a blessing because had any one of us gone, they wouldn't have known where to start. Gracie for all her loving ways, humour and willingness was an extremely private person and no one would have known who to contact.  A very good friend of mine who was close to Gracie and heard her stories did not know until the death, that she had a half sister who we all know and interact with. 

On Monday morning Gracie's mechanic went to her home. She had expected him in Saturday afternoon but he was a no show.  Apparently he tried to call her on and off on Sunday but there was no reply to those calls.  He went to her house on Monday morning and found the front door which leads into the living room, wide open. He went for a neighbour and together they entered the house.

Gracie was 'asleep' on the settee.  The dogs who are usually extremely vocal  had not barked, according to a neighbour, since Sunday morning. I have visions of them lying at her feet.

Sleep well darling Gracie - "well done good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25: 23).

Soar with angels beautiful soul.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Belgian Breakfast


Photograph courtesy of Tess Kinkaid,Magpie Tales

I have very small feet
That can weave themselves
In and out of 
Any situation

I can stand on the table
In between breakfast clutter
Reaching for the
Cookie jar

I munch my way through
Belgian choco drizzled biscuits  
No footprints left
Toes protected

Barbara M Lake  ©
Trinidad WI
Oct 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Shub Divali 2014

To all my Hindu friends who are celebrating today, I wish you blessings, peace and love.

For those of you interested in this Festival you may like to go to one of my earlier posts on Divali. I think over the years I have probably posted about four!

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Magpie 239  

Autumn in Madeira - Yacek Yerka
Courtesy of Tess Kinkaid, Magpie Tales

Car direct tv
Squatters living on the lands
Stolen from the State

Barbara M Lake ©
Trinidad WI
October 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Childhood Lost

Mag 238

Photo courtesy Tess Kinkaid, Magpie Tales on Blogger

Now that I'm grown up
And know the world
Walking through water
Is so different
To when I was
A child

Then it was splashing fun
Carefree and innocent
Jumping in glee
Now I feel 
The wading weight
Of loss

Barbara M Lake 
September 2014
Trinidad WI

Thursday, September 25, 2014

There Is Always Hope.

Yup, I've done it again. I haven't posted for over a month. No Magpies, no titbits, no updates.  Sometimes I forget that I used to be an avid blogger with daily posts covering everything from household happenings to world events.

Today I look around and I see destruction. I see wars that should never have been allowed to happen. I see people fleeing their homes, barbarism, an unwillingness by those who could,  send help to  those going through hell because they are of a different faith and a terrible, terrible fear comes over me that if this is allowed to continue, we will all eventually be affected.  

Closer to home, in the last seven days - the first beginning last Friday, I know five families who have each lost a loved one.  It is totally overwhelming and whilst I do so want to write, I cannot get myself together to a find a topic that would be uplifting, humorous and intelligent.  I could of course write about the present government in Trinidad and Tobago but given its shenanigans, am not sure that that would be labelled 'Humorous' or just plain 'Sad'.  I could write about the intersection on new highway in my area that seems to have stumped a great many motorists and from where I am sitting, can hear numerous bangs one of which resulted in a death.  That would come under 'Stupidity' because people do not read the signs. I could also write about the upcoming 2015 General Election but that would have to have the heading 'Dirty Politricks' and because of what is already going on, I cannot face that yet.  I could talk about the reaction of Trinidadians to the fifty two armoured vehicles that the government thought necessary to bring into the country as if they were expecting a war along the lines of Israel and Palestine or the Syrian government and ISAL but I'm not sure what that would come under. 'Over the Top' perhaps?

I could write about my frustration on the work front because in the past, that was always good for a smile or giggle.  But downright hostility is not good for the soul although I could write about it under "Affecting My Spirit".

To those who are suffering, who are grieving, who feel that there is nothing left for them, I say 'take heart'.  There is always hope. Whilst there is breath, there is always hope and whilst there is life no matter how bad it may seem, there is always hope.

For the bereaved, I send flowers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014



Starry Night by Alex Ruiz
Courtesy Tess Kinkaid, Magpie Tales on blogspot

Overwhelmed by the
Pure perfection of nature
A man contemplates

Barbara M Lake ©
Trinidad WI
August 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dark Chocolate, Friends and Red Wine.

I know, I know! I've been remiss of late.  I don't or rather haven't written as I used to.  I could give a million reasons but there's no point.

For those who have been with me for years, the above picture will be familiar.  I have used it on several occasions when writing about a disturbed spirit, depression, an inability to focus, dramas ahead and the like.  In fact, it is one of my favourite pics and one day I fully expect someone to contact me and tell me that I cannot use it as it belongs to him/her.  Bit like the cake! I found a picture on Google of a beautiful cake and used it when writing a humorous piece on how to bake a Christmas cake.  After a couple of years the owner of the picture contacted me asking me to remove it as every time the cake was Googled, the searcher ended up on my page instead of hers. I was mortified, couldn't stop apologizing and could quite understand why she would be pissed off.  Hers  is a serious foodie page - mine a mish-mash of good, evil, fun and sometime in the past when my heart and soul was into blogging,  terribly, terribly serious subjects.

However, I digress - which of course is my wont.

The past three days have seen that black cloud hanging around.  Yesterday morning it had me in tears. (Daughter: "did you take your happy pills?") even though the evening before I attended my first ever Taiz√©  event after which I was supposed to be uplifted.  That's an entirely different blog.  Not the supposed upliftment,  but the event. And because I copied and pasted Taiz√© from its site, I now have a white background which I cannot get rid of!

So this morning there I was in my 'second' office when a girlfriend arrived to do some business. She took one look at me and asked me what on earth was wrong. Was it really showing?? I'm normally excellent with the mask that hides the pain.   She didn't wait for an answer (I would have lied anyway!) and said "'You need chocolate. Dark chocolate!". I said if she had some on her I would have a piece to which she said, "if I had some on me, there wouldn't be any". That figures!  I haven't eaten chocolate for weeks, and weeks and weeks........not since an ever-so-slightly-over-the-acceptable bad cholesterol count was discovered. At this point I do not want to see another almond or oat for a long time!

Friend, after talking about a possible sugar drop left, ensuring I was serious when I said I didn't want chocolate. I continued to go through the motions of every day business. It was as though I was on autopilot.

Ten minutes later friend returns smiling,  throws a black bag at me as she says 'never tell me what not to do'.  I took out a bar of Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate and suddenly it was imperative that I ate it.

I did actually hold off for a while - at least until she had gone and then had the first piece. The bar of 190 calories actually lasted  until after lunch.

I am aware that it's said that there are tremendous health benefits in dark chocolate which supposedly include lowering the likelihood of heart attacks/strokes/blood inflammation/diabetes and of all things on an even more positive note, improves the skin. Forget the acne. That was a myth.  Flavonoids found in dark chocolate protect the skin from the sun's UV rays. So they say. 

So all in all, given the pluses of the chocolate and red wine, I should be feeling great.  I'm not.  The cloud is still  there.  Perhaps it really is because I am out of chocolate and only have white wine in the house!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Colonial Past


Yell Sound
Shetland, 2014
RAD Stainforth
Courtesy Tess Kinkaid, Magpie Tales

Not like then
Choppy waters
Dipping through the
Bay of Biscay

Gliding through Egypt's
Manmade waterway
Sandy banks flanking
The Suez Canal

On towards Aden
Colonial territory
Women in purdah
Duty free Chanel

It's peaceful now
Gently steaming
Between lush green
Serene rolling hills

Barbara M Lake ©
Trinidad, WI
August 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Tomorrow, Sunday 17 August 2014 I am coming back to Blogger starting with  a Magpie Tale.  Providing that is, I  have not been deserted by my muse  and the prompt spurs me into action!

In my defence work, family illnesses and a somewhat hairy year to date have stood in the way of any creativity and a willingness to actually sit down and put fingers to keyboard.

This time, I am coming back! (Wonder if I was missed!??) Like a pain in the neck, probably not!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Emancipation Day 2014

Today is Emancipation Day here in Trinidad and Tobago.  I normally write a blog on it but having written several over the years, I won't again this year as the story does not change.  If anyone is interested enough and wants to read the history of the day which is now a Public Holiday, you can refer to my post of Emancipation Day 2011 by following this link:

So as many celebrate this day I wish Trinidad and Tobago a Happy Emancipation Day and say set your heart, mind,body and soul free from any mental chains that bind you.

Monday, July 7, 2014


Tintype  c1850s
Portrait of blind man holding a cat

Photo courtesy Tess Kinkaid,Magpie Tales

I found a find
In a dusty  shop
Among the possessions
Of victims' tears

Someone, somewhere
Lost all they owned
When bailiffs came
Stripping them bare

Here's  a photograph
Dark lacquer coated
Pressed on melainotype
Cast into time

I thought a thought
Saw in my mind
A bad reproduction
Tom Cruise fake

Barbara M Lake  ©
July 2014
Trinidad WI

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Egg Hunt


Finland 1968, photo by George F Mobley
Courtesy Tess Kinkaid,Magpie Tales on Blogger

Wind howling
Like a distant wolf
In pain

Children oblivious
Blinding cold sleet
That bites

April showers
Cannot spoil Easter
Egg hunt

Barbara M Lake  ©
Trinidad WI
April 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter 2014

To all my friends on Blogger, whether you celebrate Easter as a religious holiday or the start of spring, Happy Easter.  May you all receive abundant blessings and whatever you wish for yourselves and more.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Mistress

Mag 215
The King of Cats, 1935, Balthus 
Photo courtesy Tess Kinkaid, Magpie Tales on Blogger

And that's 
Just the man

An imitation
Of master's plan

Carbon copy
Of male's woman

Barbara M Lake
Trinidad WI
April 2013

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Shouter Baptist Day, Vote Catchers and Lunch 2014

Before I try to compose the weekly Magpie I would like to share with you a little of the Trinidad and Tobago culture.

Tomorrow is Spiritual Shouters Baptist Day and is a Public Holiday in this nation.  We have a great many public holidays here!  The government also gives extra days when nationals make their mark world wide as in the case of cricketer Brian Lara breaking the world record with 375 runs and Keshon Walcott winning a gold medal at the London Olympics 2012 for javelin throwing.  I term these extra holidays as 'vote catchers' but in reality when it comes to General Elections, people forget what the government hope they would have remembered!

Rather than writing a repeat of a  past blog about this day, if you are interested, here is the link.

I will not be at home tomorrow.  A girlfriend is leaving for two weeks holiday  in Canada soon and her birthday will happen whilst she is away.  So a group of friends have arranged a birthday lunch tomorrow.  Great way to spend a Public Holiday - girls' lunch.  Haven't been to one in a while and looking forward to it.  
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