My husband, of fifty-five years, and I enjoy stimulating conversation especially at mealtimes. Take breakfast, for instance. It goes something like this:



“Fix the tea?”


“Fruit on the table.”


I catch sight of the burnt toast but I say nothing. I understand. You see, the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament, showing on TV, is headed for the semis. My husband has been up since 5.a.m. watching keenly.

I place the peanut butter and butter on the table along with the butter knife.

“You pour your tea a’ready?”


And that’s it. Silence….apart from the crunching sound of the toast being eaten.

Of course there is more conversation being nurtured in our heads. However we have to save some chat for lunch and dinner. We can’t afford to be overstimulated so early in the morning.

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THOUGHTS on Vanilla

THOUGHTS – Vanilla

Steps leading up to Big School

As I added vanilla extract to oats porridge, my thoughts were directed to my days in Kindergarten 70+ years ago. The pleasant scent conjured up memories of slates, slate pencils and…water. You see, in those days the youngest children used slates, not paper, for writing on. Using water the slates could be cleaned and re-used. Later you graduated to paper and if you were lucky you used a pencil with an eraser (or rubber, as we say in Jamaica) or even more fortunate you had a stand-alone eraser.

So for the school day, in your bag (no backpacks then) or in your bare hands you carried the slate, a slate pencil, more often than not it was just a piece, (the pencils broke easily and wore down with use) and of course a small vial of water with a rag or piece of sponge, maybe. The alternative cleaner would be ….ahem…fluid produced naturally in the mouth aka spit and no one liked to use that. That would be considered “nasty”.

Well, my favourite water bottle was one that had formerly held vanilla, hence the triggered memory. The bottle was shaped with a “handle” which was like an arm akimbo. I couldn’t find any lookalikes. Each morning my bottle would be filled and off I’d go fully prepared to meet at least some of the challenges of being a kindergartner.

The slate was very precious. It cost hard-earned money and we were taught to take care not to drop and break it. When that happened you would be very unhappy being forced to use the largest broken piece that was salvaged.

Hmmm, a century ago….when compared to e-this and e-that which are mastered by the youngest of children…with handwriting fast becoming obsolete. Progress, I guess.

THOUGHTS – The Undiluted Pleasure of a Good Book

THOUGHTS – the Undiluted Pleasure of A Good Book

I closed the book I had been reading, for the last time. I had reached the final period of the final chapter. Somehow though, I felt for sure these fictional characters would continue living their fictional lives. This quirky piece of literature had engaged my attention from start to finish. I had become immersed in the lives of these small town folk, and could feel a future being born. The newlyweds would start a family, the odd May/December relationship would flourish, the teenage girl would remain with her father.

Set in rural Iowa, this town was dying. Most of its inhabitants had moved away. There were few young people, very few social occasions like weddings, for instance, and it appeared to be a nothing-much-was-happening kind of place. Then in came a young book-loving woman from abroad. And then stuff begins to happen.

I have no intention of recounting the tale in its entirety. As a matter of fact that is as specific as I will get. Suffice it to say the pages of this delightful novel are chockful of the unexpected, the surprising, the gratifying, full of the hurts, hopes and hopelessness sometimes of a small populace whose lives all touch each other. An underlying loyalty for the town and for one another is plainly evident. A good read, I believe.

“The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” by Swedish first time author Katarina Bivald.

THOUGHTS – On a Snail’s Pace

THOUGHT – On a Snail’s Pace

Recently I was pottering around in my yard as I like to do. In an overturned makeshift planter I spotted what I thought was an empty snail’s shell perfect for my small collection. Closer inspection however revealed that this “home” was very much occupied and the resident appeared at ease surveying his/her world. Very carefully I placed it in the open and reached for my ever ready Canon. To my delight this beauty did not retract his/her body out of sight into the shell. Instead the snail graciously allowed me to take photographs for my nature album. With gratitude I replaced the creature where I had found it.

Next day the snail was gone. I searched the environs but there was no sign of my new acquaintance. It occurred to me then that even at a snail’s pace it is possible to get from here to there…and beyond…out of sight even…if that is one’s intention.

thoughts – from denial to joy – memories of a child of the 1940s

We did not enjoy Lent…Starting on Ash Wednesday for our family it was six weeks of NO MEAT and I mean that literally. We had fish prepared every which way. There was even soup with no meat, and I don’t mean chicken broth either! My mother was very inventive and found ways of flavouring the ‘plain water’. For instance she used coconut milk and foods like pumpkin, chocho, potatoes, cabbage and other vegetables. After about two weeks your palate adjusted and then it wasn’t too bad. However, come the 5th week and you couldn’t wait for Easter Sunday.

In addition to the meat thing we all gave up something personal we enjoyed, ranging from sweets to going to the movies to ice cream. Daddy usually gave up smoking his pipe but I can’t think what it was that Mama gave up…maybe ice cream…she had such a sweet tooth.

Good Friday was the next major stop. On that day even the radio station played solemn music and there were no advertisements. You really felt sad…Jesus had died! The mood at home was subdued and only quiet games were allowed, and no cards either. Often we read together the story of the journey to Calvary. There was little, if any, cooking and only on Good Friday morning, not later while He was on the cross. Food for the day was escoveitched fish (prepared the day before) with bread and traditional Jamaican bun and cheese.

I think about it now and I realise that all this denial, all this going without, the solemnity, the moving 3-hour Good Friday service, made Easter that much more joyful. After all, we were being released too, in a way!

Whereas for the crucifixion the church bell tolled, for the Resurrection there was a special ringing which we called ‘tingling’. While the bellringer pulled the rope for the main bell, his assistant hit or played the other(s) with a stick. The result was a bright, happy peal – a succession of rings so close together it seemed to be one continuous note, except that each bell had a different tone. It stirred my heart with such joy I wanted to run and shout and sing. This playing of the bells was often used at ‘society’ weddings and other select occasions like just past midnight on New Year’s Eve. I don’t think they are rung this way anymore, however, many of the Lenten/Easter observances and activities continue today.

Easter Monday, a holiday, was the time for cricket matches, country fairs, picnics, dances, going to the beach and other forms of celebration. Back to normal Tuesday for the adults, but our Easter break from school wouldn’t be over for another week.

THOUGHTS on Bird- watching

I wish I could name the many species of birds that grace my yard each day. I’m pretty sure of the hummingbird – male or female, the woodpecker, after all I see and hear them pecking the tree trunks. They have a voice too, not quite like Woody but loud. Ground doves and the common or garden variety blackbirds are many…regular visitors. One spectacular day I enjoyed a visit from a giant white egret.

But the yellow birds, are they canaries? And what do you call the tiny birds that hop daintily on the grass? Is that the hopping-dick? Or the other tiny ones that flit from one end of the verandah to the other?

Birds about the size of pigeons nest in the mango tree feeding on almonds collected elsewhere. The denuded fruits litter the ground underneath. Then too there’s the occasional owl (which I never see) with the unmistakeable call.

Recently I chuckled at the sound of a bird-friend saying “tweet, tweet” just as described in words by us humans. Most bird-song however is beautifully indescribable and tends to leave one without the words to express the melody of the cadences, the trills, the bird-words. There are occasional duets and rare choruses. Sometimes passages of call-and-answer hold the attention as you listen in on bird- conversation. I admire so much those talented humans who can imitate these sounds
and a bird-song performance years ago by a Canadian choir remains in my memory.

I share this to say how much these creations give me joy, especially their music.


Thoughts – Empty Nest

Here’s a birds’ nest, literally empty, which fell out of the naseberry tree recently. The erstwhile occupants, I like to think, have moved safely to another location, a new home with a new, maybe better view. I wish them well. Hopefully the young are safe, possibly grown up and already embarked on the creation of their own families, all at Nature’s behest.