Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Synchronicity ... my new camera


Say hello to my new camera, Synchronicity, ordered from B & H Photovideo (I usually order equipment from them) and received in hand this weekend when a friend came back from the States. From what I've read and been advised on by friends who are photographers, it is a great camera. One of the main reasons I went for it is the fold out, live view LCD ... a feature which I use a lot with my Canon A620. The fold out capability easily allows me to get shots at awkward, ground, low or high/overhead angles. I like having the option of either looking at the LCD or using the viewfinder. I haven't taken any shots with Synchronicity yet and I'm looking forward to seeing what the results are when I do. I feel I will evolve and get more serious about and creative with my images.

Synchronicity is my third ever (still) camera. Below are my other two:

The above photo shows my first ever camera, a trusty Pentax SLR which my parents (who were holidaying in Canada) brought back for me as my requested birthday gift in 2002. This is when I first jumped into the world of photography. This camera (which I now realise I never named) opened up a whole new world and took all the photos for my first solo photography exhibition in 2004 (Waiting for Elaine).

A few examples:
Book of Hands in Water
Two in One
Mermaid's Machine
Angels on Taxi
Mayaro Walk
... and so many others.

In 2006 I stopped using the Pentax (and film) when I moved to the convenience and immediacy of 'Love Bee', my first ever digital (Canon A620), also from Canada. Love Bee is great quality and more of an 'everyday' camera: small enough to carry everywhere with me (in my bag) and take all of my spur-of-the-moment photos (e.g. those on this blog).

So, the way I see it ... I'll continue to use Love Bee as my blogging/online/everyday camera and use Synchro for special projects.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Symbolic explosions in my bedroom

video

On Sunday, walking through the forest to get to the Dream Tree (see above 1 min video clip), I found this interesting, strange looking thing on the ground. I had never seen one before (neither had the others) and had no idea what it was. I picked it up, put it in my knapsack, brought it home and put it on a shelf on the desk I am currently resting my laptop on.

I was happily tapping away at the keyboard, doing some work when suddenly, right where I was sitting, I heard an explosion, like a gunshot, and fragments of something shattered to the ground all around me. My first thought was that I had knocked something over and broken it. But how could that be when I hadn't even moved? There were brown fragments on the ground all around the desk. I bent down to look at them, thinking they looked like pieces from a dark brown clay pot ... and thinking "But I don't have a dark brown clay pot."

Then I realised that it was the strange looking thing I had brought home. It has exploded and shattered into a multitude of fragments. I was instantly reminded of this post I had read some time ago by Guanaguanare.

In the forest, holding up my 'strange find'.

The below excerpt from Guanaguranare's post mentions the scattering of the diaspora, using the sandbox tree as a metaphor. What an interesting symbol to come across on the walk to the Dream Tree. Is the forest giving messages?

The Sandbox tree that is our nation understands that too many seeds near the base of the tree does not allow for optimum growth, either for itself or for the seedlings to come. It arranges it so that its seeds and as well, its survival as a species, will have the best chance possible. There isn't sufficient light or food or space for us all here. And it does not wait for the wind or the waters or animals. Catáhua people are deliberately pitched far and wide to near and distant shores. If circumstances allow you to return or if the "saudade" drives you to claw your way back, don't think yourself foolish and please do ignore the, "What you come back here for?" comments. On the other hand, if you choose to or have no choice but to remain abroad, understand that even though you are not at the base of the tree which bore you, the life force that propelled you outwards hopes only that you will put down strong roots wherever you are.

(Excerpt from here)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Whatever became of The Dream Tree?

Remember back in May when we placed a multitude of our dreams (which had been deposited in the Dream House window lamp) into a hole in the earth and planted a Flambouyant sapling (the Dream Tree) in that hole in this special tree planting ceremony?

Well, yesterday I went hiking back up to that spot with three friends: Wayne (who owns the estate), Nic and Simone ... to see how the Dream Tree and the other tree (which we had named the Protector) were doing.

I am happy to report that our dreams are alive, lush, vibrant, healthy and flourishing!
Interestingly, the Dream Tree is actually growing in the form of two trees (a forked tree) coming from one base stem. Harmony, togetherness, unity, balance, connection. As Nic or one of the others pointed out: "It is growing so well because of all the Love that went into it from all of us that day." Indeed, a lot of positive energy and healing vibes went into the planting of this special living monument to our dreams. As such, it has a fantastic energy to it. The kind of tree that you cannot resist hugging, touching and/or kissing. (For more photos from that auspicious May day of planting our dreams, see here).
Wayne stands next to the Dream Tree to show proportion. When we planted it in May it was just a few inches above our ankles. Note how lush the surrounding vegetation is with all the rain we've been having. When we planted the trees in May, that area was practically bare.
(l. to r.) Nic, Simone, Wayne, me.
N.B. The Dream Tree in the background between Simone and Wayne.
Perhaps because it was planted in a less moist area, the other tree (The Protector) is much smaller than the Dream Tree. Nevertheless, it is healthy and growing well, at its own pace.
This (which reminds me of a waterfall cascading down a sheer mountainside) is the wax that dripped from the candle we had lit (symbol of light for our dreams) when were planting the Dream Tree. Imagine about 2 - 3 months later the wax is still there on the moss, looking as fresh as if it had happened yesterday.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

R.I.P.

R.I.P. literally, to my favourite footwear ... my Dr. Martens AirWair slippers. This morning the little piece between the toes on the left side ripped just as I was about to walk to the market.

Talk about wear and tear ...

I had bought them in London in 2003 ... so they are about 5 years old. Even after almost constant daily use and lots of walking on all kinds of terrain, wet and dry, they never wore down. The soles don't even have noticeable sinks, indentations or signs of wear, as other shoes may after any considerable length of time. These Docs certainly lived up to their tagline (made like no other shoe on earth). Definitely sturdy ... except for that one little spot that gave in today.

I'm not seeing this style online and I don't think it's something the cobbler can fix ... but I'll take it to him just in case. If not, then time for something new.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Volunteers needed


Dear All,

Work is scheduled to begin on Veronica's House - the house that we are building in partnership with Habitat for Humanity TT. Those who are familiar with this initiative will know that it came to be after I worked on the mini documentary Invisible, which featured HIV positive 'Veronica' and her two children (one of whom is also HIV+).

Volunteers are required for the manual digging of the land on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd of August from 7:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. both days (with rest breaks in between).

27 volunteers are needed to complete the task in 2 days:
(i) 20 volunteers for digging (male and female volunteers are welcome and no experience is necessary, but volunteers should have the stamina to dig the land).
(ii) 7 volunteers for tying of steel

Each volunteer is asked to bring sturdy gloves and a shovel.

If you or anyone you know would like to volunteer for this first stage of the construction of Veronica's House with Habitat, please e-mail me (see top right side bar for e-mail) as soon as possible with your name(s) and contact information.

We would like to confirm numbers by mid next week. Confirmed volunteers will be sent further information and detailed directions to the location.

Thanks.

Elspeth

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My exciting edible souvenir

Some of my sea moss
*
I have never tasted sea moss and never felt inclined to try, mainly because the very sound of it never appealed to me. However, this has changed. Last week in Balandra when I went for a walk with two of the new 'raw sisters' ("Yinna" and June) from my Raw Queendom, I saw sea moss hanging from the rafters of a little wooden seaside stall. I got excited when I saw it and bought a few bags at $10TT each. I was excited because this is a great source of protein and it is something new for me to try in my raw explorations.

It had been freshly harvested from the sea and still had bits of coral (or something akin to coral) stuck on it (the root area). In fact, about an hour later, as Yinna and I hopped in a maxi and took a long drive to Sans Souci (translated, that means Without Worry, which indeed we were), we saw freshly harvested sea moss being laid out to dry in bulk on wooden tables at the roadside. I felt excited, knowing that my sea moss was a part of that migration from sea to land to digestive system ... so primal and part of the immediate environment. Like an edible souvenir.

Over the weekend I cleaned and prepared the moss ... and this morning added some to my green smoothie. Ingredients: bundle of patchoi, one Julie mango, one pear, generous helping of sea moss, flax meal, about a cup or more of coconut water. It was extremely delicious, nutritious in feel and full of exciting textures.

video
Me and Yinna in the maxi, hurtling to Sans Souci,
past the ocean that once was home to my sea moss

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fullness


I took the above shot from the backseat of a car last week, driving past the full moon over the sea in Balandra. The blurring caused by the motion of the car makes it look like a shot of the moon reflecting in water ... or as if I am underwater pointing the camera up at the moon.

And ... glancing at that sentence ... "driving past the full moon over the sea" ... the way it's phrased, it could also imply that we were driving over the sea (in the sky) past the moon.

So many different meanings in every single thing ... or maybe one single meaning made up of many different things.





Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm back

Heart-shaped frog spawn and reflections in a muddy puddle in the bush.
*
Hello there. I hope everyone has been safe and well over the past few weeks. I got back on Saturday after an interesting three weeks at the writers' retreat.

Made some great new friends, had good laughs, long talks, some adventures, found lots of heart-shaped rocks (and heart-shaped frog spawn) and crystals as usual, went for walks, went down to the cove ... and didn't do a thing writing-wise that I thought I would have done. That is, I thought I would have been writing feverishly day and night and would have at least a finished first draft of Lily ... but I didn't write feverishly day and night and didn't even touch Lily. Instead, I produced something new, which is more poetic than prosaic ... even though most of it is laid out like prose and it is a true story. I named it Sending Letters.
Four hours a day were spent in sessions in which we critiqued each others' work with our facilitators (Funso and Merle). Most days went like this: breakfast 7 - 9 p.m., first session - 9:30 - 11:30 a.m., lunch 12 - 2 p.m., free time until dinner at 6 p.m. then second session - 8 - 10p.m. (not my prime concentration time, so I slept through many of those!) Fridays we only had one morning session and weekends were completely free.

There were 12 of us in all: 6 from TT, 4 from Bahamas (one of whom is based in TO), one Jamaica, one Monsterrat. Three were playwrights, four were poets and the rest were for prose (or a combo of poetry and prose). It was really a great bunch of people - no friction, just great connection, communication and support - and friendships made. (Hello to any of you if you by chance are reading this). It struck me as souls coming together ... being brought together for a purpose beyond what we understood logically while being there. It wasn't just about 'writing'. I feel those three weeks and all contained within them were life changing for each of us in different ways and on different levels.
Among other things, I had carried mung beans to make sprouts. Here are some heaped on the plate.
*
In terms of eating raw food ... I went there as the only 'raw' person. Upon arrival, Rhoda (our 'house mother') introduced me to the chefs as 'Elspeth, the person who will be eating raw'. Barb, whom I had never met before and who became my main side-kick and room neighbour for the 3 weeks, immediately piped up that she would also like to eat raw for at least the 3 weeks. It was great having the company.

The chefs would prepare our raw plates for each meal and I had also carried some of my own stocks, but those dwindled rapidly. Pretty soon I was renamed 'Queen of Raw' and four (or was it five?) others, lured by the colourful sights of our meals, abandoned the world of cooked vegan foods and entered my Raw Queendom. However, our portions became smaller as the chefs seemed to be spreading out their quota of 'raw' among the increasing converted masses.

Even though they are not 'raw' chefs and this was all new to them, they went all out trying to make each plate look interesting and artistic, carving into cucumbers, making little basket shapes, flowers, etc. Everyone was shedding weight, which is natural ... but even I, who really don't need or want to shed, ended up shedding some more. The truth is, as artistic and colourful as the meals were, what we were being given (through no fault of the chefs, let me be clear) was not sufficient nutritionally and I was eating much less than I had been eating when at home.

So ... by week three, those in the Raw Queendom started to combine basic cooked foods with our raw meals. Some also delved into cakes and pastries. As B very aptly put it ... 'adapt or starve'!! It was interesting to feel the difference after having been raw for 2 months now. Even those who had been raw a week or two noticed how it felt. Ground provisions go down well because they are very simple, so I mainly stuck with those. Peas and anything with seasoning, sauces or cheese tastes overly rich, sits on the tongue and can be felt working up in the stomach almost immediately ... before passing out of the body. But, simple is good. I think I will be consuming more roots from now on (root/ground provisions) ... and adapt and evolve accordingly.
X marks the spot: X-cellent, X-citing, X-tatic
*
There's lots more that could be said about the three weeks and about the writing aspect, but I'll leave it there for now and get on with the day. The time away in quiet Balandra/Rampanalgas was great, but by the end of it, 'life' was calling, we were all ready to return and some had to fly back to their countries.

What does it mean to be back to 'the real' world? Hmmm. We will see. Great things, I would imagine.