Archive for July, 2009

LisaJanice HernandezCongratulations are in order. Janice got her  story published so we now have another published writer* in the family —  I definitely have to catch up.

Lisa and the Light Dancer, a story for children, came out recently and we were thrilled when daughter Holly called to say it was on Amazon. The book is  based on the belief that  most children have a sense of right and wrong but sometimes it needs a little nudging to tap into their own child wisdom.   She dedicated  the book to  three kids from next door, “for the joy they bring.”

And if this wasn’t enough, Janice is  now working on a novel, set mainly in Trinidad, but also taking you to England and Arizona.

Janice is a retired advertising executive and has written ad copy as well as travel and newspaper journalism. Pittsburgh born, Janice spent most of her life in Trinidad before we moved to Arizona.

We’ll keep you posted, for sure.

* Lolita Hernandez.


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Red Stripe

Pride of TriniddHave you noticed? One of the beers the President will have on hand for the Crowley-Gates summit at the White House this week will be Jamaican Red Stripe, one of two beers Professor Gates is said to be partial to.

Red Stripe, like reggae, does seem to get around. Even here in Show Low, population 11,000, you can avail yourself of this Jamaican at the local Walmart  and Safeway. But never a Carib.

The Beer of Trinidad simply doesn’t make it. Besotted, apparently, by oil, the good people of Trinidad seem to see export mostly in crude terms, and methanol, too, with little more than lip service to tourism, and to Carib.

Last month, in Trinidad, I was confronted by the local elixir and, in a fit of nostalgia, actually took a picture of a Carib bottle to bring back to Show Low.

It was a fine morning in Blanchisseusse, taken there to the home of prominent architect, Ken Holder, by our host to share in what you can easily imagine as a postcard Trinidad Sunday morning.

Ken’s pavilion is on a hill overlooking the sea, with waves crashing on the rocks below on cue, the sea visible through a broadwalk among the foliage.

There were Glasgow and Greenidge paintings on the walls and, on the table, black pudding, bake and fruit among the generous offerings, with coconut water, bottled now, and with the possibility of an endless supply to temper your scotch.

And on the deck overlooking the ocean a breeze barely ruffled the huge umbrella presiding over the table around which were lively Port of Spain accents, inflected with a little French, and a visiting Belgian.

True, I haven’t printed the Carib picture since my return, but, in the prevailing spirit of things, I propose a toast, with my imaginary Carib, to Crowley, Gates, the President — and to rapprohment of some sort.

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The great gathering of hummingbirds and fans at the Sipe Nature Center has ended for this year and 800 visitors were on hand to celebrate.

This event is held the last Saturday in July, every year, and is growing: last year 600 drove to the center just outside the town of Eager, and today we drove the 60 miles to the hummerfest.

The High Country Hummers are prodded and poked, gingerly, of course, for data, are weighed and banded so that, when recaptured, they can divulge information about migration patterns. Some of these critters winter in Mexico and they range the southwest.

Handlers from the Southwestern Arizona Bird Observatory are also stars of the show. They capture the hummingbirds with contraptions suspended over the feeders and they can be electronically collapsed, trapping the birds.

The trick is to place them on thir side, after this, making them momentarily lose their equilibrium — the Trinidad word for this is bazodee. In this condition you weigh them — usually between three tenths to seven tenths of an ounce — and affix a microscopic band.

When the checking is done the fun part begins. You place the comatose hummer upright into the outstretched palm of anyone willing, and the little fellow would lie there, sometimes for a minute, before catching himself and, realizing that, hey, I am free to be on my way. And buzzes off.

After the crowds departed we took our ease on the huge wooden swings on the back porch, in close proximity to some feeders, and watched as the birds swooped and hovered, and poked at the nectar, sometimes challenging intruders.

It was quiet there in the evening and the hummers didn’t seem to mind one bit.

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Our tree

A tree from our neck of the woods is going to Washington.

The 85-ft blue spruce from the White Mountains on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests will begin its cross-country trek in November, headed for the U.S Capitol Grounds.

The tree was chosen on July 19, a day which, magically, marks the 100th anniversary since Aldo Leopold arrived on the Apache National Forest to work for the U.S Forest service. Leopold is widely regarded as one of the influences inspiring the conservation movement.

The chap who chose the tree, superintendent of the Caitol Grounds,  said he had been looking for a perfect tree. A local newspapr quoted him as saying that it had to have a straight trunk, dense brnches and an overall conical shape. “The most important thing to keep in mind is that the tree will be viewed from every angle so it has to have an overall uniform appearance.”

Plus the fact that it has to be heathy enough to stand the long journey to Washington. Meanwhile, just to be on the safe side, the location of the anointed tree is being kept under wraps.

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No horse, no dollarI came across a photo CD in a file I must have misplaced some time ago and there were some picures that seemed O.K. Particularly one shot in Monument Valley.

I’d taken a picture of a promontory over a steep drop with a background of pinnacles. But what  attracted me moreso was a faded sign, where I stood, requesting a dollar for a shot with a man on a horse on the outcropping, looking into the distance.

But there was no one in sight when I was there so I took a shot of the rider-less promontory, but including the sign, to tell a story. I decided it was worth posting on MyShuterspace. That was on Friday.

Saturday morning, taking in The Searchers on AMC, I realized the locale was Monument Valley. And before you knew it Ward Bond and John Wayne were on the hunt and Wayne was scrambling through the sandstone, scouting out an Indian village where a rancher’s daughter was supposedly being held prisoner.

And would you know it, Mr Wayne came to the spot in the middle distance, right where the sign had suggested you take a picture of an Indian on a horse for a dollar!

Director John Ford had of course selected Monument Valley for a cowboy location in the early days and first projected the landscape to a wide audience.

The savvy local residents must have caught on to the camera position, hence the sign. And you’ve poossibly seen pictures shot from the same position with a designated guy on the designated horse!

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Under the awning against likely rain, in the backyard of Elle and Gary we sat, picking at potluck specials, being casually communal this Independence Day evening.

Perhaps with Louis Sellier’s emigration blog echoing, I couldn’t help noting the spread of people around the table. Our hosts are, or were, Dutch, having come from Holland in their early twenties, and lived in Colorado,Wisconsin, Michigan, and now were bona fides of Show Low, Arizona,.

Pete and Joyce spoke of Suriame with fondness, both with the Caribbean ease still illuminating their manner. And Janice, from Pittsburgh, via a lifetime in Trinidad.

The gentle, bantering talk, drifted here and there, reflecting different states of being now subsumed under another frame of mind and a host of different reference points.

That night, after sitting out in the road, in the half moonlight, vaguely paying attention to the fireworks that splendored above the treetops, my mind went, inexplicably, to Bert.

Bert is the son of Awing and the late Yuklin Look Hong, then of Prince Street, Arima, when I lived opposed to them as a boy. Bert was a young engineer with the Trinidad government until frustration set in and he made his move — to Australia.

As a new Australian Bert Look Hong gave up the Hong part of his name, became Bert Look, and set about becoming Australian. So I Googled “Bert Look, Australia,” and found him.

The boy from Arima now has a string of initials trailing after his name, representing seven academic commendations including a PhD. He is specializing in geotechnical engineering, with 25 technical papers, and two books, to his name.

It is good that people find their place in the world. And a pity that so many more don’t have, or take, the chance of seeking and finding themselves. We simply have to seek out ways  to discount the implied inevitability of our given set of marbles. Either here or there.

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Ran itnto Jeremy Taylor in the Long Circular Mall and commiserated with him about giving up his Notes from Port of Spain Blog.Was happy to hear he was going to pick up the cudgels again. Later that week, same place, saw Sharon, an ex-colleague, and she is still writing. Her blog is My Chutney Kitchen and I looked it up, finding it wonderful anad rewarding. And duly bookmarked it.

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