Monthly Archives: June 2009

Pearls

 

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. 

 

 

orchid2+

 

 

 

Taken at Orchid World, Barbados.

 



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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.

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Filed under Travel, Trinidad & Tobago

BFF

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?

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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

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Eulogy

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.

 

IMG_9638

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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

Room for Women

 

 I am re-reading The Woman’s Room by the recently deceased Marilyn French. This book is considered a landmark novel of the feminist era and I think I read it in my early 20s.

I feel a strong kinship for the women in the book, their trials, their entrapment, their sacrifices and their unwitting acceptance of their lot in life. While they fight against the powers of society that grant men more choices and freedoms then they, I am feeling immensely grateful to the women who came before me, who carved out the freedoms that I now enjoy. Feminism in some circles has become a dirty word, but I am still proud to call myself a feminist and grateful that I no longer have the same need for the word that propelled women’s lives beyond dirty dishes and into the workforce. But. And it is a big But. While men’s and women’s roles in the home have meshed and overlapped, other problems have arisen. I think while many men come home from a grueling day at the office and turn to diapers and dishes, they sometimes long for the comfort and clarity of the roles their parents enjoyed. It is a tricky one and as I re read this great tome of groundbreaking feminist literature I wonder if feminism may have swapped one set of confinements for another. Not to suggest that the lives of women are not improved, they are and greatly, but are women really happier? And what of men?

My daughters. whose big brown eyes watch their dad make lunch, dinner, grocery shop and still have energy left to embrace them and make them laugh will become adults with very high expectations of their husbands. I hope those men in the future are ready for what awaits them.

I hope that my daughters will one day read The Women’s Room, find it irrelevant and close the book feeling grateful.

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Filed under Lying in bed with books

A little Pie with that Antique Bossy Waffle?

 

I would like to introduce to you some of my favorite blogs.  I don’t read them all everyday, some more than others but these are the ones I check into often.

 

 

Bossy is the first blog that ever made me laugh. She is smart, witty, a funny and great mom, a good friend and a cashew lover. She paints, saves money, is a frugal decorator and also has a blast driving to get her hair done in Manhattan and stopping for drinks at the railway bar ( if she takes the train.) She would be a friend that I could share a bottle of wine with. (At 2 in the afternoon.)  And she is good at taking photos too. And oh my Gawd I love Stella the Dane.


Antique Mommy is sweet, smart, nurturing and an artist at heart. She will find art in her son’s dropped ribbon, she has a son who drops a ribbon, she is a person who feels blessed and reading her makes one feel that way to.

 

Belgium Waffle. What to say about Belgium and Waffles? So different from the others. Her I read ‘cause she reminds me of the smarter girl at school, the girl who was sharp, dramatic and sometimes trouble. I read her for her intelligence. I love the way she writes, I like her mind. She spends too much, thinks she neglects her children, has frequent melt downs and depressive rants but she is also charming and a droll observer, She is very London-Euro.

 

This the first blog I ever found. The name was definitely the catch. My Boyfriend is a Twat pulled me straight in. I love Zoe for her crossness, her humour, her readiness to admit when she needs to hand over the reigns to the twat. He is erudite, funny and a great writer. I like them both. I think they probably have a lot of fun mixed in with the stress at home. Her son is trouble, her daughters are delightful and she takes funny photos of wall art. 

 

Desire to Inspire is eye candy and interior design porn. Love the delicious places these girls from Canada and Oz pick for us. So cool that I don’t even feel pissed off about not having them. I am just content to dream for a few minutes. Found them through Martha Stewart’s blog but I don’t even read hers. Weird.

 

Mommy Pie is one of the first I read, She is lovely. A single mom of an adorable little girl and she lives in the Mountains. (She looks so pretty in a jacket and pink hat in the snow.) Anyway she recently became engaged (through the blog!) to The Boy who is an old classmate  she hooked up with through facebook! It is a real love story! She also runs a cool site called Swap Mamas so she is an entrepreneur too. Busy.

 

The other day I came stumbling onto a new blog by perusing Waffling in Belgium’s blog list. Scrolling down I was fascinated with the choice of names and decided to find the coolest name and that is the one I would open. The choice was clear:Thus Sayeth the Bitter Old Bitch.  Judging from the name (and who said you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover?) she was going to be person who acted witty but probably wasn’t and was quite fond of referring to herself in the 3rd person. I was wrong. Anyway, this is a person who has way too much time on her hands, and spends it going through the treasure trove that is the internet to find the oddest strangest and funniest photos and images. This woman knows her way around  google.  Of all the people who have way too much time I am now glad it is her, for she finds me the funniest things. I like her sense of humour.

 

Talking of stumbling onto blogs. I sometimes check out how people find me, what were they clicking on? Lime sorbet made with 3 limes?  And it appeared I had been transferred from a rather naughty website. I had written about booty, here and here, and so had she apparently! Only her booty is way more fun. Kids this one is not for you. (Incidentally, if you do give it a peep let me know if you think she is for real or just a bored housewife in Wichita with kids and diapers strewn across her floor.)

 

 

Eddie, lemons and flawed are all fabulous and dear to my heart. I have mentioned them before and anyway they deserve their own blog post so you’ll hear about them next time.

 

 So there you have it! 

 

I think it is quite fabulous that the people above are such good writers. And that most of them have interesting enough thoughts to share.

 

 Bloggers need to write. It is like oxygen for us. Finally somebody is reading our diary.

 

 

Random thought: I think all bloggers drink wine.

 

 

 

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Filed under I have no idea where to put this

The Girl who saved the day ( and killed a roach.)

Teenagers care immensely what people think of them. Their sense of self is being developed and their egos take a crushing blow. The other day in class a young man that we shall call Tom opened his backpack to slip out a book. What crawled out instead was a very large and very brown cockroach. I don’t do well with roaches. As an aside I’ll mention that I once handed over my pocket money to a friend in return for the killing of the large cockroach making its way across my room. I am a wimp with a capital W. A wimp moving to Africa where I hear the bugs are super-sized.

Apparently Tom didn’t do too well with cockroaches either judging by the speed with which he leapt, white faced onto the nearest desk. While he was shaking like a lilly white leaf the girl of his dreams, the one everyone knows he adores, we’ll call her Nat, was slipping off her shoe and giving that cockroach what-for. Within minutes she had that roach crushed and swept up in a tissue much to the applauding, cheering and jeering of the class. I was outside of the room, hand on forehead, quivering until the beast was dispatched to the garbage. With a stroke of perfect timing, at the exact moment that all this was going on, in fact at the moment that Nat was running to the garbage in the corridor, roach in hand, the head of admissions was passing by with a prospective family who were visiting the school with a mind to enter their child next year.

Now, Nat is the hero of this story, the coolest chick in the school, the brave roach squashing student and object of Tom’s admiration. Tom, on the other hand, is now considered a “girl” and his emasculation proved the subject of much hilarity in the lunch room. He now looks upon Nat with Awe, in addition to Lust but hopefully his feathers have barely been ruffled. His sense of humour and his ego are intact but still, that must have hurt a tad. What was once an infamous tale of unrequited 10th grade love is now a tale of girl rescues boy. I, of course, was thrilled by the display of girl power, and a smidge jealous of her bravery.

I might need to brush up on my shoe wielding skills.

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Filed under Might be funny, Teenagers