Monthly Archives: June 2009



I am in Barbados, a quiet and gorgeous island, with sea a moving turquoise, sometimes pale, sometimes darker, the beach a white so soft that it looks like a cliche. There really are places this beautiful. It is a lovely place to be sad. Leaving Trinidad was so hard, it was like wrenching my self away from a beautiful friend. I believe that my heart has grown to accommodate all the people that now have to fit in. Looking into the eyes of my students and having to say goodbye was heartbreaking. 


I felt a great deal of love on my last day or two. I heard and read things about me that were sometimes surprising in their generosity, but mainly pleasing that my philosophy of life should have seeped out and infected others. I was told that I look at life as a thing of beauty. When that view is compromised a crack appears and it is most distressing, but I never lose hope.


Maybe I do look at life through rosy sunglasses. I do, in fact have a lovely pair bought in New York. Buying them was a fun moment spent with my mother on 5th Avenue. Instead of that being a mundane activity, it was indeed a real pleasure. Life is like a pearl necklace. Each pearl is a perfect moment of pleasure. And I don’t just mean sexual pleasure although in this theory lots of sex helps, this is a moment of pleasure spent enjoying the perfect chat with friends, a moment of magic in a classroom, a story read before bed, a novel, a magnificent work of art, a beach, the best mango, the touch of velvet, the excellent photo, the joke that makes you laugh, the look of a sleepy girl in the morning, the weight of a soft dog on my bed…the list goes on. Pearls are not handed to us. We need to go out and seek them and even more than that, notice them. There might be some bits of the necklace that are mere string, barren and sad, but pearls are there right in front of you waiting to be strung on that necklace and worn.


Looking at the beach today, listening to my girls laugh and heal after their sad goodbyes, I felt real joy. 







Taken at Orchid World, Barbados.



Filed under observations

Goodbye Sweet T and T

Well here it is, the last post from Trinidad. After this 3 limes will be taking a little vacation while I go and dip my toes in some good Canadian lake water.


I didn’t want to come here. Looking back at that resistance now, the tears and the fears, I, of course, find it ironic, since now I am so sad to go. 


This is a land filled with beauty, colour, song and a thousand smiles. It is also a country of crime, bitterness and anger. I have rarely mentioned the question of crime here since I hate to taint the reputation of the sweet land, but it is a fact. I just think it is a great shame to think “land of crime” whenever Trinidad is mentioned because it is a whole lot more. However, in a strange way the hatred of the crime and the terrible slip in respect for one another is what bonds many Trinis. The vibrant culture sings out “ we are more than that!’


As much as I have loved being here I am looking forward to not looking over my shoulder, except that will probably take some time. I am excited about letting my girls have more freedom, perhaps a walk to the store or park. But I must say, and it should be said that I have had nothing but beautiful times with good people during my two years here. In the vein I would like to conduct a little Trini wrap up.



In Trinidad hot yellow is the new white.

Large earrings are worn to the beach.

Sarong must match bikini.

Doubles are delicious, who knew chickpeas and dough could rock the world?

Trinis love Soca. I mean really LOVE. SOCA.

Cricket is a really big deal.

Rum is like water.

Roosters walk wild, a cow lives by the highway, ancient turtles lay eggs, and there is an animal called an Agouti which looks like a rat from a horror movie.

A LIME is relaxed but if a DJ plays some SOCA wining will ensue.

Parrots fly wild.

The drive to Maracas is magic. 

Men call each other Hoss. Instead of Dawg.

People dress up to go to the movies. People dress up all the time.

You can see Venezuela.

Pepper sauce in Not an option.

My new favorite word is Macocious. It means Nosy. Facebook is the ultimate place to Maco.

Trinis take their time, and Lime.





I hope that you will come back and follow our journey to Uganda. I am anxious to start telling stories from Kampala. 

Here is a little picture of our route to Africa. Trinidad-Montreal-London-Kampala. Luckily that route will take 6 weeks. In that time I hope to freeze my derriere in a gorgeous lake, eat some mighty fine sushi, gorge on cheese, laugh with my “sisters”, visit a giant doll house, meet a new born, reunite with some old friends, drink some mighty fine wine, watch my girls on a canoe, take a red bus and buy some pretty shoes.


Filed under Travel, Trinidad & Tobago


The truth is, a move is harder at 12 than at 9. My eldest brown eyed girl has been going through some changes and moving is making them kaleidescope.

Most days she couldn’t be lovlier but somedays that sweet brown eyed girl, who at one time curled contentedly on a lap, humming and chatting, turns into a grumpy, sour, cross and stomping monster child. It is a gradual change, over a period of some months, but then one day, seemingly overnight, the sweet poppet goes to bed and in the morning a new child is born. For girls this transformation happens between the ages of 11 and 12. They suddenly look different, sound different and act different. It is also at 12 that the Best Friend is born. Before that time. when there are no real secrets to be shared, friends are the best people around to laugh with, play with, splash with. Now, at 12, a friend is everything. She is a confident and the true understander, She is the sharer of secrets and the person you worry to, cry with and share the agony of boys.

My 12 year old beauty is going to have to say goodbye to these friends and to the Trinidad that she calls home. The world is very intense and small when you are 12. Yes, there is Facebook and MSN and email (which I didn’t have when I said goodbye to my friends at 13) but it is also THE END OF THE WORLD. Young teens have no perspective and teaching it is a near impossible feat. We just need to hold them, pull them up and remind them that the world is only beginning, not ending.

I also have friends that I need to say goodbye to. The practice of bidding farewell has served me well and I can numb the pain in the way that a child cannot.

The one that will really pinch is Cassandra. We have, if not seen each other daily, then at least spoken multiple times a day. We have been each other’s best friends for well over a year now but more than that we have also been each other’s family. She is the person who knows exactly what I mean when I call her and groan. She knows what I am thinking just by looking at my face. She can tell my kids to behave, tell my dog her ears stink, tease my husband and watch me sort out kitchen cuboards. I have learnt all sorts of advice, from her. She has taught me cooking tricks, and to wear deodorant on my thighs so they won’t chafe. Like me she can laugh on the beach, sneak wine into the movies and worry over her kids and the move.

She is moving too. But unlike the 3rd world adventure that I am jumping into, she is moving to a wonderful city in the US complete with big and plentiful grocery stores. There will be the joy of concrete sidewalks, museums and safety and I know that after 10 years of moving she will finally feel at home.

In this week of goodbyes ours will be a hard one but I  know that we will be connected for life.

Of my friends that I met when I was 12, my best friends, my sleep over buddies, I am still friends with a few. Others have been popping up on facebook. In this funny thing called life it is the people that matter. I hope that my sweet monster girl, the one whose brown eyes will be so sad in a few days, will carry those special people in her heart.

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Filed under Sisterhood, Teenagers

MSN and the art of letting go.

Kids don’t communicate by talking any more. They MSN. Sometimes whole romantic relationships go on this way and when they see each other they are almost awkward. It is like a relationship with a pen pal. But it is not the same as a telephone relationship. Then you hear voice inflexion, emotion, and mutual laughter. A dialogue that is verbal is different from texting.

They can be lost in their MSN world for hours, talking to perhaps 4 people at once, back and forth. Sometimes they even pretend to be someone they’re not so that they can deceptivley find out if someone “likes them.”
I brought this up at dinner the other evening. My sweet eldest had no idea that impersonating someone for your own gains was wrong. She simply didn’t see it like that since “everyone did it.” I asked her how she’d feel and she immediatly widened her eyes and realized what it meant.

It is fine line. Teaching awareness, self confidence, self esteem, and empathy is hard. Mostly you need to teach by example ( and that is not always easy) and often you need to just point it out.

If my daughter relaxes by spending most of sunday on MSN, in the pouring rain, after a busy week, with all her possessions in boxes and her room in ruins, is it a bad thing? Better or worse than a day in front of Hannah Montana and other Disney kack?

Parents need to let go and hold on all at once. Let go too much and you not only lose the control but the dialogue too. Hold on too tight and they harbour more secrets than usual. MSN is here to stay. I cannot forbid it nor ban it. I can control the hours spent on it but I cannot prevent either of my girls from communicating the way all her friends do. I hear that if you miss a night of MSN banter, you miss a lot and arrive at school a little out of the loop. Being a teen is hard enough, we don’t need to make it harder.

But still.
I pause for thought and wonder if my internet free childhood was that much better?


Filed under I have two girls, Teenagers

Where does the love go?

We have found a home for dear sweet Zola. She is going to our housekeeper who knows and loves her. The parting will not be sweet nor easy. Knowing we only have 2 weeks left with her is a rather strange feeling, somewhat like knowing the moment of someone’s upcoming death. I look into my dog’s liquid brown eyes and I ask myself “ What will I do with all the love?” The love doesn’t stop when we go away. I cannot box it up and send it along with her bed and bowl. The love will remain.

These last few weeks have been an intense love affair between us. Rather than pull back and protect myself, as would be the safer option, I am constantly rubbing her head, tickling her belly and staring into those eyes. As I read  one hand hangs down absent mindedly rubbing her neck, her warm chin, her back. She is the softest being I have ever touched, Now I can kiss her nose and feel the softness of her neck when I feel the love. What will I do with all this love when she goes?



those eyes


Filed under I love dogs


My grandmother, Joan Beer, died today. She was 90 years old. It is hard to imagine that she is no longer in this world. Here are some memories of Granny.


It starts when I am three and I jumped into her suitcase in South Africa wanting to leave with her. She had given me a doll called Cherry who came outfitted with an entire hand knitted set of clothes. I hated her because she wasn’t blond. She is now one of my treasures possessions.

Her house at 109. Watching the hedgehogs in the garden after dark, eating Wiener schnitzel and filling up on chocolate buttons.

Then summers at Blandings playing in the enormous wading pool or Wendy house. Driving around London listening to Abba, playing air hostess with her box of scarves and gloves that she always kept by the door. Buying dress up clothes and assorted fun things at Woolworths and WH Smiths on the Broadway.

Eating more chocolate buttons.

A trip to Bourmouth on holiday when I was 9 was when Granny and Grandad bought the house at Corfe. Wonderful memories at Corfe were soon to follow. Running in the garden, visiting the miniature village, playing in the mini house, having tea parties, eating chocolate buttons.
It was Granny who took me shopping before I started boarding school. Helped me buy all the toiletries and got me ready before she dropped me off for the first time at my new boarding school.

I could always talk to her. She was a happy confidant and loved a good gossip. She was the one who saved me when I accidentally left one expensive black leather boot in a hotel room in Russia. She bought me a new pair and promised to never tell my Mother.

She walked me and a friend around Carnaby Street on a weekend home from school because we were so excited to see it.
But she was strict. She could laugh and giggle like no one but she was very strict. If I crossed a line or upset her I knew it.
Then my sister and I grew up and she made it her mission to ensure that her granddaughters had smooth soft skin, handing us bottles of Dior and Clarins lotions and potions whenever we saw her.
Lunches at Harrods became a firm tradition. First in the fancy room with the piano and later at the terrace with the wonderful smoked salmon sandwiches.

Granny loved being a great grandmother and great she was. I always told her that she was the matriarch of the family and she loved that. She loved to see all four girls at once. Hiding treats in the garden and watching them all run about was the greatest joy for her. She would even make a fairy tea party in the garden and spoil them with little cakes, goodies and wonderful clothes from Paris. She taught them to knit and was always working on some sweater or cardigan for them. They grew faster than she knitted, however. When she stayed with us in Burford she loved being woken up by all four girls, sharing her morning biscuit with them. And how she loved her little great grandson, Sammy. His big hugs! She always looked at him with a special expression of awe and wonder. How could such a special boy exist?

And always chocolate buttons. Before I would leave to return to Canada she would give me bags of buttons for my suitcase.
However far away I was, there was a strong bond. We would chat on the phone and her and my eldest would write to each other. At times she was lonely and cross and would never hide that. She needed to vent a little.
She just loved to go out and have fun. Whether to the ballet, out to dinner…but the visit to Buckingham Palace topped them all. I remember her squeezing my arm and saying “isn’t this fun!” She also said “oh I am happy I lived to see this!”

My Gran was simply the best Gran in the world. She could spoil us, laugh with us, chat away and yet when we were small be strict too. I always knew she loved me. There was never a doubt in my mind that she got huge joy from being a grandparent and great grandparent. Nothing pleased her more that seeing all the children run in her beautiful garden.
She was never an old lady. In fact she always had an elegance about her. She refused to be old or let herself go. The ladies at the Dior counter knew her as well as the people at her local gourmet grocery store.
I can’t imagine a world without her. She had a huge personality and was a large presence in all our lives. I am so grateful that my children got to know their Granny Joan. She made an impression on them that can never be wiped away.
We will all continue to love her.




Filed under Family Stuff, personal

A little indulgent nostalgia.

I am sitting here listening to James Taylor. Carolina is on his mind.  I have a genius playlist made of memories. Nostalgic is my state of mind. 


I have packed and moved so many times in my life. Often the only time I go through old letters and photos is when I am shuffling them from one old box to a fresher one. Why do we hold onto all this memorabilia? I cannot let most of it go, I am attached to it like dust to history.


Today one old diary bit the dust. Most of the time it is too embarrassing to read through old ramblings and diary entries. Maybe the entire lot should be chucked. Imagine someone going through all that once I am gone and realizing that I was just a sentimental, desperately-seeking-love-20-something? My old diaries are not the best representation of who I am today.  Earlier I found a whole tome dedicated to one failed relationship. It felt good hitting the bin. Others, especially ones that I wrote while pregnant I have held onto. Every time I move the purge is more intense. It is not that I look back on these artifacts often, in fact it has been a while this time. But I like just knowing they are there. 


I leafed through some old letters I wrote 17 years ago. I was writing to my husband, except at the time he was only my boyfriend of a few weeks. After meeting in Egypt I went to India and from there I wrote him pages everyday. In those letters are everything I saw, felt, read and thought. It was an unequaled writing opportunity. Despite the fact that they initially scared him off ( I came on pretty strong if you read all 9 letters in one sitting as he did) they are now incredible evidence of our young love.


Caught in the minutiae of everyday life it is easy as pie to forget what brought two people together in the first place. 


Once my genius playlist ends I might take myself back for another walk down memory alley. Sitting cross-legged on the floor I am transported back in time. I can see that girl in school, the eager traveller setting off for the airport, the boyish man I found there, the worries and nausea of pregnancy, the horrors of early marriage. I am finding that young girl in the papers and letters, diaries and photos strewn on the floor and I am forced to look at her.   


Sometimes taking stock of the past is a good idea.   I am on a bridge. Behind me is my past, ahead is Africa. Beneath me, the crumbs I let go.




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Filed under How old am I?, personal