Saturday, June 28, 2008

Where are you going now?

Jasper claims my suitcase. Ears back, eyes slightly flattened means he's not too pleased about my departure. "Where are you going now?" He thinks that if he sits on (or in) the suitcase I won't be able to go anywhere. I'll most likely return to find the usual welcome home gift of a dismembered animal carcass somewhere in my bedroom.
*

Dear All,

From tomorrow (Sunday) through the next three weeks (to July 21st) I will be away. Not overseas, but inland and incommunicado. I was one of the (ten) writers from the Caribbean selected to be a part of this year's Cropper Foundation writers' retreat ... so that's where I'll be.

The retreat is on the coast. I don't think we'll have internet access and, even if we do, I won't be using it. Neither will I be using my cellular phone. I'll use the opportunity for its intended purpose - simply to write, away from the everyday 'distractions' of the civilized world.
A snippet from Lily (haven't touched it in months)
*
During this time I won't be blogging. Possibly the longest I've gone without it since starting. Sounds like some kind of drug fix. Maybe there will be some withdrawal symptoms ... but that's okay. The energy will go into whatever I am writing. Maybe I will continue and complete the refining of 'Lily' ... or maybe something completely new will grab me and sweep me away in a huge flood of inspiration. I will be open to whatever comes ...
My purchase at the market a few mornings ago. The only thing I didn't eat was the melongene.
*
Cooked meals are being provided. So I told the organisers about the raw foodism and they were very understanding and accommodating. They said I can use their juicer and blender (rather than having to bring my own), fruits and vegetables will be provided with every meal and the 'House Mother' will go and buy extra fruits and veg for me as I need them. I will bring my extras: the nuts, seeds for sprouting, whatever supplements, etc. It will be my first time away from my home environment since being raw, so it could be challenging in ways ... but I may go with the flow and eat other things if I feel like. It's not Nazi Germany.

3 weeks of surrender, flexibility and openness.

Blogger has a feature (scheduled posts) which allows you to write posts ahead of time, set them at an intended date and they will be published automatically while you are away. I was thinking of using that feature, to keep the blog going while I am gone ... but I think I will leave it as is ... dormant for the time frame.

There's a lot here already and even more over at the original blog, Now is Wow. Feel free to stop by and explore any time you feel like.

So, my friends, until 21 July or thereabouts, keep well, be safe, be happy.

Elspeth

Centre

Overhead view of candle after one of my morning yoga sessions looks like my tattoo on fire.
*
Find your centre.
Be in your centre.
Extend from your centre.
Return to your centre.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What makes you spring back to life?

Looking down into the backyard:
Ylang Ylang tree on left, orange tree on right, sapodilla tree (with dream catcher) to the back.
*
This morning I looked down into the garden and was amazed at how green the ground looked. Just a few days ago when we were in the hammock, most of it was hard, brown and dry, from dry season. (See below shot).
The growth is natural, yet miraculous. With just the few days and nights of rain we've been having, the grass is eagerly springing back. The Earth was thirsty for rain and now it is receptive and responsive to each drop being given.

Even looking up to the hills, which often become brown and black (the combination of dryness and burnt out areas from bush & forest fires) ... they regenerate with amazing rapidity every year. From one day to the next the brown becomes a memory.

Something to think about. What makes humans ... us ... me ... you ... spring back like that?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What moves you?


Be still.
Breathe.
Move the world
Inside
Outside
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*
*
*
*
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Location of video: The poui tree on the hill in the garden on a windy day
Director: The Wind
Soundtrack: My Breath
Inspiration: Moving beyond this question





Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Orange Orgasm

Another of my raw culinary inventions:
The delicious psychedelic orange beverage which I've named
'Orange Orgasm' ... or Svadhistana Sweetness.
*
Yesterday my first customer got an exciting raw lunch delivered to her office. Being one who wants to eat raw but doesn't yet have the time to really get into it, she ordered a meal from me. What fun. I had a great time inventing raw concoctions and intuitively putting it all together, thinking as I did so: Wow ... this is not just a meal, this is a whole experience!


Yesterday's exclusive Raw Experience menu was:

MAIN MEAL
Wishing Star Cabbage Lasagne
Layers of raw goodness topped off with a five finger star
(Eat the star and make a wish then dive into this special dish)
*
BEVERAGE
Orange Orgasm
A sweet, wholesome fruit mix spiced with Cinnammon
(Better when shared)
*
DESSERT
Skin & Dip
Banana dipped in creamy 'chocolate' carob sauce
(So decadent it's good for you).



Monday, June 23, 2008

When.

*
*
*

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

If your heart is in your dreams
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do

Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing

Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through

When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sweetie

Hand in hand
*
Yesterday after doing my morning sadhana, I was hungry and, having eaten off most of what I had in the fridge the day before, I decided to walk to the market and stock up.

The market was more alive and colourful than I'd ever seen. The first stall that met me was one with a whole set of large bananas ... some for $3 (a pound), some for $4. I said "Good morning" to the woman behind the stall and stood looking at the bananas, deciding which hand to buy.

The woman said to me: "Which one you want, sweetie?" Her voice was warm and genuine and so was her face, which was noticeably bright and clear.

"Not sure yet," I said.

"Okay, darling." She continued doing whatever she was doing before my arrival.

Eventually I took up a large $4/lb hand (the one in the photo above) and gave it to her. She weighed it, told me the price, with a gentle 'sweetie' tagged on to the end and then ripped off one banana from another hand and added it to mine. Every time she said 'sweetie', she said it so lovingly that I actually felt it soaking through my skin and spreading around inside my body.

I said "Thank you" and tried to put the bananas into the bag I had walked with, but was having some difficulty holding them in one hand and opening the bag with the other.

"Let me help you, baby." Without hesitation, the woman reached out and opened the bag for me so I could slip the bananas in. "Theeeere you go!" she said, beaming and looking straight into my face.

This struck me most, the way she looked at me directly ... because on the way to the market I had passed a woman who looked me in the eye, and before I could acknowledge her eye contact and say good morning (as I would to anyone who made eye contact on my morning walk), she quickly looked away, almost as though embarrassed to look longer or further. I kept walking, thinking to myself something I have often observed and experienced: "Very few women seem to be able to look another woman - especially one they don't know - straight in her face or eyes for a long time. Men do it more easily, maybe because they 'can' ..." (either because they are socialised to believe they are 'more dominant' or because they are openly flirting).

"Gosh, you are so lovely!" I said to the banana woman, genuinely moved by her warmth. "So refreshing!"

She smiled and said "Thank you", looking a bit surprised, but in a pleased way. Even though she was saying 'sweetie' and 'sweet' so many times, it didn't feel or sound overdone because it struck me as being natural and sincere. Obviously that's just how she is.

Beyond

Beyond the resistance
Is the flow.
Go.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

What interests you?

A raw cookie, perhaps? Experimented further with the carob/tahini/honey paste by rolling in some raisins, sesame seeds and oats. Flattened the mixture into circles and dehydrated for 1 and 1/2 hours.
*

The other day I asked my friend Nic what she thought people could ask instead of: "What's the next project?" ... or (upon meeting for the first time): "So, what do you do?" In other words, a question that focuses on the person, rather than on extraneous things like what they do or where they live.

She said: "How about - what interests you?"

Hmmmm. We thought about that for a while. What interests you isn't necessarily what you do for a living. Some people work in a bank but they are not interested in banking. They may be interested in anything from stamp collecting to ancient Mexican history to people watching to hydroponics.

I imagined someone asking me: "What interests you?" The first answer that came to mind was 'raw foods'. I am reading a lot about it, talking about it, blogging about it and literally eating it all up. It interests me because it's something new, something I want to know more about, something that fits with and reflects a lot of what I already do or am interested in (art, the environment/nature, yoga, meditation), it is something I can do alone or share with others, it impacts upon me positively, opening me up to an increasing consciousness of self and what my 'self' wants and doesn't want on all levels (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual).

'Self' is another interest of mine. I started this year saying it would be a 'me' year ... and, without even trying, it is turning out to be that way. If someone asked me 'What interests you?" I could truthfully answer: "I am interested in me." This is not vanity. I have to be interested in 'me' as much as you have to be interested in 'you'.

We all need to be self-centered. Not in a vain, selfish, egocentric way (as definitions of the word imply) ... but by literally being centered in self ... the position from which we can increasingly know and be who we truly are.

I thought further about that question: "What interests you?" and took it deeper. I'll share that one in another post.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Swinging from the Trees

Earlier this year I bought a hammock and a mountain bike in a garage sale. The hammock is massive: large enough to fit two people either lying vertically or stretched out horizontally across its width. Day before yesterday was the first time I used it. I took it along to Caura Valley where I'd gone with a friend who had an appointment with someone. I strung up the hammock in a bamboo grove and, while they were meeting, I lay there, cocooned in the large white folds, reading a novel and munching on various fruits and nuts. Being out in the country, hearing only birds, breeze and the creaking of the bamboo all around me, I eventually drifted off to sleep.

Then yesterday I strung the hammock up at the bottom of the garden between the sapodilla tree (where the Dream Catcher is) and the purple poui. Being a public holiday, everything was quiet. My nephew was over and he and I lay there chatting, sucking the seeds out of a passion fruit and gently swinging. When he was gone I finished reading the novel.

Nothing like a good hammock. It's a prime investment.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Craving Truth

Delicious paste I made yesterday with carob, honey and tahini,
to satisfy my chocolate craving.
*
About a week or two after I had started eating raw, I thought about going to the cinema and instantly began to crave M & M's. Whenever I go to see a movie I buy a large pack of M & M's and a bag of popcorn to munch on during the film (although I usually finish both before the movie starts because of how long the trailers and ads take).

Having just started the raw foodism, I didn't want to succumb to the M & Ms, so I decided to ride out the craving, observing it from what felt like an objective, detached perspective. I soon noticed there was a difference between what my body felt and what my mind was focused on. My mind was thinking about the chocolate (and wanted it because of habit and association with the cinema) ... whereas when I tuned in to my body, there was no desire for the M & M's at all. As soon as I realised this, the craving disappeared.

This reminded me of the importance of checking in for the truth of how we really feel about what we think we want - not just for food, but for life.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Birthday Gourmet

Yesterday for Mummy's birthday I prepared a minimalist but filling raw gourmet feast. Preparation time, inclusive of all chopping, juicing and blending (with some short breaks and distractions in between - e.g. phone) was somewhere between 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
In wine glasses we had my favourite juice combo: chilled carrot and beet juice with a twist of celery.
I experimented by creating a paste, along the lines of raw hummus, but using sprouted mung beans instead of sprouted chick peas and amending somewhat by adding raisins.
I put generous dollops of the paste along with chopped almonds and extra raisins (for contrast) into strong, flexible cabbage leaves. Wrapped them like samosas, securing each edible ensemble with toothpicks. Fresh, crisp and fulfilling.
Dessert: frozen banana slices ground to an ice-creamy textured pulp, filling two halves of a sapodilla. Topped with one raisin each.
To complete my dessert masterpiece: a walnut piece and sprinkled cinnamon. Keep in freezer and serve frozen.

I think I'll name this piece Sapodilla Dawn.

Since I've been eating raw, a few of my friends have been urging me to create a cook book with quick and simple recipes so that they too can eat raw ... without having to spend hours in the kitchen (they have hectic lifestyles and/or 8 - 4 jobs). I think I may do that.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Life is a Lamp

So, let's say that this is what it's like to be working on the new lamp ... documenting it step by step as I did with the others. As with the beginning of creation of every lamp (where I wash it in a variety of ways, depending on the particular window - see one e.g. here) I think that eating raw (or largely raw if that's what you can manage: lots of fruit, veg, water, etc.) is one way of washing/cleansing the human window ... only it is/can be/should be ongoing. With the cleansing, the lamp is ready to start becoming and evolving. I didn't consciously think of raw foods being a part of the new lamp process when I realised I needed to do one, but it was happening at the same time ... and it fits and makes sense.

N.B. This isn't becoming a cooking blog, by the way. Just sharing the process as usual - and it happens to include the edible.
Sunday lunch: in the middle of a large plate I placed a large sweet pepper filled with delicious raw hummus and soaked walnuts. The pepper coudn't stand by itself (rounded bottom) so I sliced off a section of the top (thick circle) and used it as a stand in which to place the pepper. Surrounded by salad (Sprouted mung beans, soaked walnuts, grated beet, grated carrots, stripped lettuce, raisins, olives, diced tomatoes, diced cucumbers, patchoi strips) and (not in photo) a small, grated raw sweet potato (sprinkled around sweet pepper in centre). Sprinkled spirulina over the salad area. Yummmmm. Very colourful, delicious and filling.
My first consumption for the day yesterday: a large smoothie made with watermelon, mango, sweet peppers, cucumber, flax meal, spirulina, coconut water.
This is what one glass of it looked like after blending ...
with lots more left for a mid-morning top up. Yum.
Even the skins and shavings look good and have their use
(can be used as compost).

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Raw Path

Today I'll tell you about one major shift which has been taking place in my life over the past month.

I have been a vegetarian for 17 years. Lately, since about the 17th May 2008, I've been eating 100% raw: vegetables, fruit, (soaked) nuts, seeds, fruit or vegetable juices, blended raw foods, green smoothies, 3 - 4 litres of water a day, etc.

I had attempted raw foodism some years ago out of curiosity but lasted only a few days. This time I woke up and instinctively began ... and maybe the time was right, because I continued easily, without cravings for cooked foods and junk foods. I have lost weight, even though I didn't really 'need' to ... but this is natural. The body detoxes and releases excess (not only physically, but I find also emotionally, mentally, etc.) and then begins to repair and heal itself, building back up and renewing. I feel light, flexible, energised.

Side view of a raw 'lasagne' I made the other day for lunch.
The 'noodles' are raw zucchini strips. Other ingredients include: snow peas, tomatoes, olives, raisins, grated coconut, thyme, tahini sauce, olive oil, hot peppers, chadon beni, chipped soaked almonds.
*
I love the freshness of eating raw: the colours, the creative process of preparing something to consume, the surprising explosions of natural tastes on taste buds that are daily becoming more sensitive to the distinct tastes of nature. Everything tastes better and eating has become a pleasure. I spend loads more time in the kitchen (compared to almost none) and it's worth it. It is like working on edible art pieces. I say "Mmmmm" for practically every mouthful and know that good things are going into me. I've realised that before, I was eating mainly to fill a space.
Nothing in life should be about 'just filling a space'.
Overhead view of the raw lasagne.
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What I've been feeling on this journey so far (because that's what it feels like - the beginning of a journey) is that conscious eating is very closely tied to conscious living and conscious being. It doesn't happen overnight, but shifts must and do occur.

Driving by a fruit and vegetable stall is now a head turner. It's exciting to see fresh produce. Exciting to go to the market most mornings and see things that I never even knew existed because I would not have been looking for that kind of variety in the past. I used to ignore the mangoes on the neighbour's tree. Now I find myself like a bird, swooping to grab up the whole, ripe fallen ones when I go for my walk in the morning. I didn't realise that two of my neighbours had avocado trees until I started craving avocados the other day and (looking out from the verandah) saw many laden (but not yet ripe) avocados below.

My raw ice cream, which followed the lasagne as desert that day: made with frozen banana, pineapple wedges and grated coconut, all blended together.
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It's all very alive and enlivening. Like I said, it's only been a month now and it feels great. I would not call it 'a diet' because to me that implies something temporary or a fad, which this is not. It is a way of eating and a lifestyle for many people, all of whom have been experiencing its benefits for years. Of course, as with anything, there are detractors, there are those who may appear to be 'extremists', there are those who will capitalize on it to make money (Buy my book! Buy my special blender!) and those who just eat raw for any number of healthy lifestyle reasons. To each their own.
Green smoothie: patchoi, banana, sweet coconut water, spirulina
*
I feel that the 100% 'fits' me naturally and it's what I want now. As I continue to read about it, learn more about the nutritional aspects of what I eat, experiment more with my food options and listen to what my body calls for, who knows ... I may decide to stay 100% raw ... or may decide to amend (i.e. be about 80% raw). Only time will tell. But definitely, I know I have successfully made a distinct movement toward a more raw, conscious and healthy way of eating, being and feeling.
Being raw in Trinidad of course has its challenges ... not just the inability to get some items (supplements, certain ingredients, etc), but also the fact that there is not a huge community of people living raw (or 'loving raw' as I've seen people refer to it in my reading). I know of only one person who went 100% raw 6 years ago. Other than that, I have only heard of one or two rawists in TT, but have not met them. There are other little challenges, like going out. This is a largely fast food, meat-eating society. Now I prepare my own little containers of food and take them with me when I go out for the day (packed in a cooler in my car) ... knowing that when I'm hungry I can no longer pop into HiLo for a quick cheese pie, chocolate, Kiss cake or Choconut (milk drink) or stop off for a roti at Curry Masala, vegetarian pastries at Adams or ice cream at Gelatto's. Instead, I dig in my cooler for multi-coloured salads, fruits, juices (my favourite is carrot and beet), nuts, etc. Or I can stop at the coconut vendor, drink a nut and eat the jelly while he's filling up my bottle with more coconut water.

It's a new life adventure. Good things inside = good things outside.

Sprouted mung beans, soaked walnuts, grated beet, grated carrots, stripped lettuce, raisins, olives, diced tomatoes, diced cucumbers, patchoi strips
*
Some benefits I have personally experienced thus far since "going raw":
Cleaner, lighter feeling on various levels
Clearer thoughts/mind
Clearer eyes
Clearer, sharper intuition
Clearer, more accurate dreams
Sharper senses in general (sense of taste, smell, touch, etc.).
More sensitive to energy in body (heightened experience during yoga/meditation).
Naturally deeper breathing
Increasing physical flexibility
Smoother , clearer skin
Increased energy (but sometimes sluggish due to detoxing)
Deeper sleeps (... and waking more rested)
Weight loss
The desire to increase physical exercise/activity (muscle toning)
Greater interest in preparing food and eating it
Greater interest in planting my own food (when I return from my trip toward end of July)

... and lots more to look forward to.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A bird in the hand is worth ...



It is illegal to possess the endangered blue and gold macaw, yet many of these babies are captured and gathered from their nests in the forests and sold through the nefarious animal trade. Like many illegal activities in T & T, this abominable underground business continues to thrive.

Crammed tightly together in cages, often stifling in each others' mess, these animals, like slaves, make the ocean crossing from the South American mainland to their new 'destination', Trinidad (where they are now, not surprisingly, extinct). Along the way, they experience trauma, irreparable damage or death. Those that survive are lucky ... or are they? In whose hands will they end up?

The baby macaw featured in the video clip above was fortunate enough to end up in Detta's hands. From being crammed against other birds in a transport cage, s/he is injured: cannot stand (so therefore sits in his/her own mess and has to be manually cleaned), has swollen, painful joints from the pressure of confinement, damaged rib cage, bone deformities, inability to walk (he was growing while in confinement, so there was no space for movement and stretching of tendons, resulting in shortened adductor muscles preventing him/her from walking) ... and no doubt other internal injuries.

The sounds s/he makes are not so much 'normal baby macaw sounds' as they are cries of pain and pleas for help. When I went to see the macaw last Saturday it was clear to me that, despite the traumatic journey, the little creature was still extremely trusting of humans. They are inherently loving creatures.

I learned from Detta that Trinidad and Tobago, this twin island republic which continues to boast of our 'unique wildlife' in tourism publications, is a signatory to the CITES convention (yet we have never written laws in support of this). There are other acts (e.g. the Customs Act) ... but it would seem that they are all just words on paper.

Will there be any wildlife left for TT to boast about in a few decades?


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Person or Project?

My friends know me, the person ... with or without 'the projects'.

But most other people, whenever they see me (especially after not having seen me for a long time), say: "So ... what project are you working on now?" or "So ... what's your latest project?" or "So ... I saw such and such that you did. Are you working on any other exciting projects now?" or "So ... I saw you in the papers and on TV. What's that project you're working on now?"

Maybe some of them are genuinely interested in knowing. Maybe some of them don't know what else to ask or say to me. Maybe they are filling a space. Maybe people only feel comfortable asking about what they think they already know. They know that I am 'a multimedia artist' and I am prolific, always doing 'something'. Perhaps it appears that my life is a long series of projects.

Or is it that life itself is one long project?

The what-project-are-you-working-on-now question is one I sometimes dread. There are times when I just give simple, automatic answers: "Oh, this and that" ... or "Nothing much, really" ... or "Lots of different things" ... or "The usual." Don't get me wrong. I'm very thankful and very moved when someone feels and understands what I am doing, but very rarely do I go on at length about 'what I'm working on' unless I sense that the person is genuinely interested.

The other day someone asked me what project I am working on and I said: "Myself."

What would it be like if people met me after not having seen me for a long time ... or even met me for the first time ... and asked me about me? Not about things, not about work, not about projects, but about me ... the person.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Project Me. Project You. *

The New Lamp
Is not like my other Window Lamps.

It is not a window.
It is not an inanimate object.
It is me.
It is you.

Plug into the Source.
Nothing needs to be explained.
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
Project Me. Project You. *
A double meaning:
(i) Project (the verb) - to extend outward, to send forth (e.g. project my true self; your true self).
(ii) Project (the noun) - a creative undertaking (e.g. working on unearthing my true self; your true self)


Thursday, June 12, 2008

I called because ...



Yesterday afternoon ( and maybe even night) it rained. This morning, it is grey, cool and wet. I guess we can safely and hopefully say that rainy season is here. I've always preferred rainy season to dry season: the lush greens, the nourishment of nature, the cooler weather, the slowing down of life ... perhaps similar (in a tropical way) to how people slow down and go within for winter.

Yesterday evening my cellular phone rang. It was a recently made friend. I had been meaning to call her for a few days, to ask her to sing for an upcoming concert, but kept forgetting. When I realised who it was, I said: "Good thing you called. I was supposed to call you and I forgot." We briefly discussed the performance, then spoke about a few other things in life.

The topic of rainy vs dry season came up. When I said that I preferred rainy season, she said: "I love dry season." She described the starkness of the brown, like a desert ... yet, in contrast, everywhere, the many different kinds and colours of flowers in bloom. Whereas, in rainy season, everything was "just green".

Even though I do notice the many flowers, I had never really looked at dry season in the way she described it - as being so beautiful. Usually I mainly see the dry earth, brown grass and brown, burning hills, think it all looks somewhat painful and can't wait for everything to be green and cool again. But her description gave me a whole new appreciation of the dryness.

As our conversation came to a close, she said: "But anyway ... that's not why I called. I called because it's such a lovely rainy afternoon and I can see a thick mist rolling over the hills." She proceeded to describe the beautiful rainy afternoon scene she was seeing and said: "I couldn't think of anyone else to call and share this with who would appreciate it as much."

What a great reason to call. So simple, meaningful and insightful. I felt like I had been given a gift.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

6 Billion Others

Check out this wonderful Yann Arthus-Bertrand project.

It is the creation of a global portrait 'painted' in video and audio. Its subjects are people all over the world - each being asked questions that deal with the same Universal issues ... and each person giving his or her honest, heartfelt answer. What is Love? What is God? Money, Discrimination, Liberty, Lover, Joy, Dreams, Nature, Fears, Happiness ...

Have a look and you will see the various people, questions and answers. Very intriguing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Interaction ... or inaction?

The Red Earth organizers chose this little wooden house (part of the set of the Merchant Ivory movie: 'Mystic Masseur") as the Red Earth exhibition space.
I packaged Greetings on Behalf of Our Environment very simply and tacked them up on a wall in the verandah of the house.
*

If a tree falls in the forest and no-one hears it, has the tree fallen?

If a piece is interactive and no-one interacts, is the piece interactive?

Unfortunately there will be no messages on behalf of our Environment going to the Minister, as no-one purchased any of the cards. Admittedly I was somewhat disappointed at first, as it would have been great to see people's heartfelt messages going out ... but as one who has been doing interactive work for years, I have come to understand and accept that people are not always into interacting. Many are generally more willing to watch than to 'do' or take part in an activity that they may not necessarily understand or see the point of.

Even though what I do may seem like 'fun' and is presented so simply, I take it seriously. I believe in what I do or I wouldn't do it.

I kept hearing "Great idea!" ... but as I kept saying in response: "Thanks, but it's not about an idea. It's something that must be done in order to work." Without the action, it remains a series of images, which on their own, do not really 'do' anything but fill a space.

People had said they would buy cards and send messages, but then again, one can't depend on words. Many things (intentional or unintentional, avoidable or unavoidable, internal or external, expected or unexpected) come in the way of words. What is said and what is intended as the final action don't always connect.

Sadly, there is a general apathy among Trinidadians, especially in light of wanting the much-desired, much-needed 'change': their feeling that it doesn't make sense to do anything because nothing will happen and no-one will listen, so why waste energy trying. The feeling of waiting for someone else to do it. In this case, maybe even the feeling of "Why should I spend my $20 to send a card to the Minister?" The feeling of "The Minister can't and won't do anything anyway, so why bother?" So many feelings, so many words and no action.

Are people afraid?

Do they not believe?

Have they nothing to say?

No, they have lots to say. Lots to complain about to each other when chatting in groups, lots to discuss in 'online forums', lots to scream about on radio talk shows.

At the same time, don't get me wrong. I do acknowledge that there are people who have good minds and hearts and intentions, who do do things for change and betterment and who never give up despite apathy and adversity ... and I also acknowledge that there are so many 'causes' out there across the entire globe and not everyone can feel the same way about each one or have the time, money or energy to give to every singe one that comes along requesting support.

I will think of something else to do with the cards. Or if any of you have ideas, feel free to share.

Thanks.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Adopt and adore

As much as I can't condone the dumping of animals, at least whoever dumped these four kittens on Indian Arrival Day (May 30th) had the presence of mind to dump them outside of the home of a known animal lover (the friend of a friend). I told her I would help her get homes for them, so late on Saturday morning, I went and took their photos. They are all male. If interested in owning one, get in touch with me and I will give you the relevant contact information. The woman outside of whose home they were dumped says they are 'her babies' and she will accept nothing but 'great great' (stated emphatically) homes for them.

Don't be fooled by the innocent, pensive look in this shot. He spent most of his time scampering, clambering, jumping and balancing precariously on the furniture.
This little one was very elusive. He was so busy running around, trying to avoid the camera, that all the shots I got of him before this one were blurry. Managed to catch him here in mid meow. Apparently he's also quite greedy.
Gentle and peaceful in this image, but with an active streak just like the others.
Adventurous and inquisitive and somewhat of a ringleader ... but had no problem keeping still and posing for the camera.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Press Releases and Camping

'Greetings on Behalf of Our Environment' got some good visibility in the press yesterday. There was this press release in the Guardian (featuring four of the photos) and Newsday also printed a release , but I can't find the link to that one online. I'm looking forward to people purchasing the cards and sending their environmental messages out. Looks like there may only be the 13 original handmade ones available, since I have not yet seen or heard more about the 100 cards promised by the sponsor ... but the thought was good while it lasted.
Speaking of 'while it lasted', camping and stargazing was also fun. Saw Saturn clear as day through the telescope, as well as some massive star clusters and other planets. Then the stars all disappeared ... covered by rain clouds.

As glad as I am for rain, why, out of all of these dry, hot, almost desert-like days of dry season did nature decide to bring a tropical depression this weekend? The unexpected pitter patter in the darkness became something of a downpour with flashes of lightning, heavy mist rolling from the sea and the drums of distant thunder. To cut a long story short ... the army (who was there protecting us) eventually made us leave, stating: "you all have to go because everyone else going home!" Most of the people there had driven off as the rain started ... and I guess our protectors wanted to go home too.

So much for camping and braving the weather ...

We ended up camping anyway (i.e. sleeping in our sleeping bags) on a friend's verandah. Not the same, but still fun.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Gazing at the Universe

Source of image: Map of the Universe
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Tonight I'll be going stargazing and camping until tomorrow morning at the tracking station on the mountain in Macqueripe with some friends (one of the Red Earth activities). I've camped/stargazed there already in 2006 at the Carina Star Party. It's great.

Work on the new lamp continues. More revealed next week.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Good news and fun things to do this weekend

(Today is World Environment Day, by the way ... but that should be every day)
The stamps I bought for the cards are all environmentally themed.
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Work continues on the new lamp, but for now I want to share some good news about the environmental activism greeting cards (see the whole range here).

A kind sponsor (Lonsdale/Saatchi & Saatchi) has offered to print 100 postcards featuring all of the images in the series. Eight of some images and seven of others will be printed, with the Minister's address printed to the back. Thanks to Ian Royer of Lonsdale who, upon hearing of the concept from Magella (Red Earth Festival organiser), was excited about it, thought that more cards should be made available to the public and pitched the idea to his company.

As with the original handmade set, stamps will be adhered to these postcards, so that they are ready for posting to the Minister, along with people's messages.

These postcards will be sold at $10 each, with the total $1,000 from sales going to WORC (the Wildlife Orphanage and Rehabilitation Centre).
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If you are looking for something different and enjoyable to do this weekend in a beautiful natural setting, check out the Red Earth Eco-Arts Festival. There will be security, in case you feel worried about that aspect. See info below for list of events ... and please spread the word.

******

RED EARTH ECO-ARTS FESTIVAL
Tickets for all events are available at:
*The Cotton Tree Foundation on Ariapita Road in St Ann’s,
*Paper Based bookstore in the Normandie Hotel in St Ann’s,
*Gayelle-the Channel in St James
*the Chaguaramas Development Authority in Chaguaramas.

Friday 6 June

* Schools hike to Edith Falls with CDA - from Golf Course car park, 8.30am (Schools contact 633-6992)

* Workshop for schools, Bellerand Park, Golf Course Rd - 10am to 2pm (Schools contact 633-6992)

* 6:30pm -Open-air cinema (Whale Rider) followed by Stargazing with the Caribbean Institute of Astronomy - Tracking Station - Cost $30.00
(N.B.: you can pay at the tracking station on Friday evening)



Saturday 7 June

* 7.30am-11.00am -Covigne River hike with CDA (must book! 634 4364)
Cost: $50 (children) $65 (Adults)

*10am - 5pm Exhibitions in - The Mystic Masseur Old Wooden House & St Chad's Church.

* 10am Childrens Zone -Art Workshops and story-telling for children, Bellerand Park, Golf Course Rd - (contact Shurland 7832046)

* 3pm First Citizens of the Red Earth - First Nation People of the Americas Cuesua River bed Ritual blessing of the Performance space
Incl: Smoke Ceremony

*3:30p “ W ” - Continuum Dance Project - Cuesua River bed (Choreography Sonja Dumas)

* 4-6pm Songshine Poetry event, Cuesua River bed - (contact Gillian Moor 7604655)

* 7pm - 10pm Rock the River Bed - live performances in the Cuesua River bed cost-$120


Sunday 8 June

* 8am- Beach Clean up-Chacachacare (free) - (Must book, mystichemp@hotmail.com tel: 625 0295)

*10am - 5pm Exhibitions in - The Mystic Masseur Old Wooden House & St Chad's Church, Maqueripe - all day from

*9Am - Nature Tours-Gasparee Caves-
Cost: $125 (Adults) $110 (Children)
(by bookings only – 634 4364CDA)
meeting at:Island Homes

*10Am - walking tour of medicinal plants, Mt St Catherine.

* 5:30pm - 8pm - Fundraising event for The Cotton Tree Foundation - Wine Under the Stars With Poetry and Pan - wine and cheese evening, Bamboo Cathedral cost: $250.00

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Working on a New Lamp

Those of you who know me personally 'in real life' or have followed my former blog (Now is Wow) will know that one of the things I do is make lamps out of old windows: Window Lamps.
The Dream House

The last window lamp I made (earlier this year) was the Dream House. Like most, if not all of the lamps, it was interactive. It was an illuminated receptacle for the dreams of many people here and abroad, raised awareness for a dream home (in progress) for Veronica and her children and was eventually spontaneously dismantled ... ending with everyone's dreams being planted in the Dream Tree ceremony. I feel that the dreams which were planted have already started to grow ... I'm sure even in ways that none of us may yet fully see or comprehend.

I woke up one morning a few weeks ago and felt strongly that I must work on a particular new lamp. I have already started on it 'behind the scenes' over the past week or two. It will be a very different kind of lamp ... definitely interactive, very personal and perhaps somewhat challenging, based on the kind of 'window' I will be using. At first I didn't really know how or where to begin ... but, as with all 'window lamps', I simply dived in and went with the flow ... knowing only that the process is inevitable.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Please, really do this

The Three Boys (Steven, Paris, Stephen) 2.
Image on one of the of 13 cards from the interactive series:

Greetings on Behalf of Our Environment.
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These blank cards offer us a unique opportunity to seriously speak up on behalf of our Environment. The stamped envelope for each card is addressed to 'someone in power' (i.e. our Environmental Minister). I know there are those of you out there who want to see certain areas become protected zones, who have ideas about recycling that need to be put in place on a larger scale, who want and need funding to get important environmentally-related projects done for raising of awareness, who want to see TT cleaned up a lot more ...

Whatever it is you would like to say (whether 'simple' or 'complex'), say it, ask for it, suggest it. Send the message now.

Don't be apathetic and think that 'this won't work'. Don't be disillusioned and think "Those Ministers never do anything anyway". We never know what the smallest and simplest actions can achieve. Even if you don't know what to say or don't have anything to say on behalf of our Environment, you must know someone who does. Tell them about this initiative and seriously encourage them take part.

The cards will be on display, available for purchase (only $20 TT each) at the Red Earth Art Exhibition in Chaguaramas on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 June. Purchase a card, take it home, think seriously about what you want to say, write your message or your letter in the card, get people to add their signatures in support of your message if you wish, slip it into the stamped envelope provided (addressed to the Minister of Housing, Planning and the Environment) ... and drop it in the nearest postbox. Don't wait too long. She will get the full impact of the cards with everyone's messages if they all arrive around the same time.

Please really do it.

Thanks.

Elspeth
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RED EARTH ART EXHIBITION
Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 June 2008
Chaguaramas (along the road to Maqueripe)
10.00am - 5:00 p.m.
* Photographic & Art Exhibition - various artists
Location: Mystic Masseur Old House
*Art Installations - Various artists
Location: St Chad’s Church
Cost: FREE