Friday, February 27, 2009

Shhhhh ... Listen.

This afternoon in traffic on my way into town for a meeting, I was directly behind a car which had this quote printed clearly on its back windscreen:


When I looked to the right of the car, heading towards me on the other side of the road at that exact moment, was a big FedEx truck.

What did this "ironic" moment tell me? That I should have chosen FedEx and not DHL?

No. To say that would be to harp back to the past and wish to change what has already been done.

What in fact that moment told me (yet again) is that I must tune into, listen to and trust my inner voice above any other. I clearly haven't been doing that lately. Twice I didn't listen to myself in relation to my camera. The first time, it fell. The second time is all that is happening now.

On a larger scale is this message about the camera? No. A camera is simply a piece of equipment at the end of the day. The larger message, a very important one, is about me.

Time to be quiet ... intend and not extend ... listen to and trust myself and the signs around me.

Unfortunate Source of Aggravation

So ...

1. The customs department in Ohio still has my camera "on hold" (today makes it seven days there in Ohio), for mysterious reasons that cannot yet be explained to me, to the courier offices here or to Jane (who I'm beginning to think is a robot programmed to send standard responses to customer emails).

Subsequent to writing that paragraph, I called the couriers and was told that US customs can sometimes hold a package for as long as a few months without even giving a reason! It is not in the couriers' hands and it is experienced from time to time 'depending on the package'. When I asked it my package can at least be sent back to me, I was told that it would have to be "released" ... and even that could take months if customs felt like it. But ... it's SUPPOSED to be released on Monday. We wait in hope.

And even if I wanted to go up and personally collect and deliver my package myself, I couldn't because ...

2. This morning I am denied renewal of my Visa for travel to "The Land of Opportunity" because (quote from one-page document given to me after rejection): "... you have not demonstrated sufficiently strong family, social or economic ties to your country to ensure that your stay in the United States would be temporary." (unquote)

Seeing that we all want to go and live there ...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Neptune (hooping video)

As far as I can help it, I think this is the last hooping video I'll record using the camera on my laptop. It's convenient to just switch it on while practising ... but the quality isn't good (in the event that I one day want to do something on a bigger scale with the videos).

So I'm going to start doing proper hooping videos:
(i) using either Karishma or the smaller video camera that I use when doing video projects with children
(ii) setting up the videos in specific landscapes, with costuming, etc.

I love the idea of recording my hooping progress in video, but as a multi-media artist I am also enjoying exploring it within the context of the media that I use (video, music, photography in particular).

I wasn't going to upload this video, Neptune, because I didn't like the quality ... but it is priceless to me because it records the moment in which I successfully did neck, chest and arms-at-sides hooping for the first time. Prior to this occasion, I had been wondering how on earth I would ever learn to do it. Then it "just happened" ...

I shared it with a friend, saying that even though I felt and looked like a flailing sea mammal, at least I finally got the chest hooping. She responded that it looked like I was floating in the ocean, with the hoop as the ocean. To emphasize that perspective, I adjusted the hue of the video, slowed it down a tad and applied one or two simple effects to give it more of an under-watery feel.

The sounds in the sound track are:
(i) my Tibetan singing bowl with reverb-type effects applied
(ii) a small wooden flute with effects distorting it (so that it sounds like a whale)

Resurrecting my French novel

2nd page of "Chapitre Deux" so far ...
On Sunday I started back working on my French novel after having done nothing on it for the past month or two. My French on the whole was suffering from abandonment. As a result I was losing touch, losing interest, losing my vocabulary.

But ... starting back with the novel seems to be a good thing, like striking a new match and applying it to the coals, so to speak. The flames aren't flaring yet, but they're glowing. In order to learn and retain, my brain does best when it finds creative ways of applying and experiencing the learning material (rather than just having it on the pages of a text book). Hence the novel.

This is basically how I'm writing it ... whenever we do a new chapter in the textbook, with whatever new vocabulary there is, I include it in the next stage of the novel and allow it to guide the plot. I find that makes it easier to recall and retain the new vocabulary, because I remember the story and the words that I used to construct it. Having a visual mind, I remember how the French word looks on the page (of the novel, not the texbook) and, from the image of it, I remember what it meant when I wrote it.

I confirmed this last night in French class when we were looking at a copy of the front page of a French novel. The word éblouissant was in one of the titles and notre professeur asked us what we thought it meant. I remembered it instantly because I had used it in the novel. I remembered that at the time I had thought "This is my new favourite word". I couldn't remember what it meant until I visually saw where I had placed it in the novel and saw the scene unfold like something from a film:

... inside the big tent, the colourful circus lights, the transfixed audience and the clown coming onto the stage in her dazzling outfit.

"It means dazzling," I said to le professeur.

That's what I mean by remembering vocabulary visually through the novel.

I'm supposed to be reading something at Campus Literature Week (1st week of March). I agreed to do a reading without knowing what I would read! I don't have anything new that I've written/been writing other than my French novel ... so I think I'll read an English translation of a portion of it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The camera plot thickens

Enough is enough
I called DHL first thing this morning as business hours opened. I got Donna, the same woman who had dealt with me when I'd called the other day.

As furious/frustrated as I am with DHL right now - and in the midst of my venting of displeasure - she remained calm and spoke so peacefully and kindly that I found myself softening and my bristles lying back down.

Well, I softened as much as one can when:
(i) one imagines one's camera possibly passing from hand to hand of strange customs people who may or may not be honouring the FRAGILE sticker
(ii) one learns that in US customs they like to "hold" things, especially in Miami and Ohio (the latter is where my cam has been since Sunday)
(iii) There is little that DHL TT can do other than re-open the trace on my item (which the US people closed when the shipment left Miami) ... and wait.

"Do they think my camera is a bomb?!" I asked Donna (feeling very explosive myself).

"Miami customs will hold anything for a long time ... even a document."

She is re-opening the trace and will get back to me when she learns why the camera is being held.

I told Donna that as a first (and last) time user of DHL, all of this is beyond ridiculous ... and at this point I just want my camera to arrive in Texas in one piece with no more damage done to it than the LCD crack I sent it off with.

So, I've done what I can ... contacted DHL USA (twice) where Jane is investigating ... and now there's Donna in TT re-opening the trace. Either one will contact me when they find out what's happening.

I hereby let go and close the matter with an affirmation:
My camera arrives at the Laredo Repair Centre in Texas, safe and sound within (at most) the next two business days. It is repaired swiftly and successfully, at no or minimal cost to me and is returned to me safely and soon ... like brand new, ready to begin again.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First and Last Time (camera update)

When DHL Trinidad told me my package would reach by Wednesday, perhaps I was overly optimistic to assume that they meant Wednesday 18th February ... when they really meant Wednesday 25th.

As you can guess, my package has not reached its destination. 9 days later. Even though I knew yesterday was Carnival Monday and businesses are closed until Wednesday, I still rang DHL Trinidad to find out what is going on. I was told by the voice message that the operator is unavailable ... which means she was no doubt out on the streets prancing around in her Carnival costume. For those who don't know, Trinidad and Tobago is in the midst of our annual Carnival, billed as 'the greatest show on earth'. The whole country basically shuts down for Monday and Tuesday to party ... and kind of goes back to normal on the Wednesday (Ash Wednesday).

Rather than wait until Wednesday to contact DHL Trinidad and possibly be told that they "don't know" what happened to my shipment, I contacted DHL in the US with the necessary information and asked them to investigate.

In a few hours I received the following from a customer service rep called Jane:

Dear Elspeth,

Thank you for contacting DHL.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Regretfully the package is being held by United States Customs officials for further inspection. Once the shipment is inspected and released DHL will expedite delivery to the receiver. DHL is unable to advise how long the inspection and/or release may take by United States Customs officials.

However, if the shipment is not delivered within 2 business days then please get back to me so that I can research further.

If I can be of further assistance please advise.

Thank you for using DHL.


Earlier this morning I checked the tracking information and was relieved to see: "Processed for clearance at DHL Wilmington Airpark - USA" (where it has been 'on hold' since Sunday).

11:50 a.m. Just checked again, thinking maybe I would see an update like: "Shipment on way to Texas".

But no ... what do I see?

"Shipment on hold" (... at the same place it's been at since Sunday! DHL Wilmington Airpark, OH - USA!)

This is the first and last time I'm using DHL.

I'm being followed by Epiphany

From my archives
On Saturday I sent an email to client re a development within the video (Out of the Box). He wrote back saying "Looks like you've had an epiphany."

The day after, I went over to Dion's for us to tie up the edit. When he opened the door, I told him a thought I'd had about the video upon waking (seems like that's when I have my clearest thoughts ... maybe because I dream the answers) ... and Dion responded similarly: "You've had an Epiphany."

Came home after editing at Dion's to find a message from an art peer, asking a group of us: "What images come to mind when you see the word Epiphany?"

All of this within 24 hours of each other.

Then yesterday I saw on Sarah-Ji's blog this image that she took inside The Epiphany, a church in Chicago.

Four times in a row? Something is up ...

There are different meanings of the word Epiphany (which comes from a Greek word epiphania, essentially meaning to manifest or show). See below. I've put in bold the parts that jump out at me in particular, based on the way certain things are coming together ...

Middle English epiphanie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin epiphania, from Late Greek, plural, probably alteration of Greek epiphaneia appearance, manifestation, from epiphainein to manifest, from epi- + phainein to show — more at fancy

14th century
1 capitalized : January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ

2: an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being

3 a (1): a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2): an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3): an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure b: a revealing scene or moment

Monday, February 23, 2009

Neon (hooping video)

42 seconds
I used a portion of a piece of my original music in hooping video #4. This was a simple moment when I realised that I was getting my hands easily in and out of the hoop as it revolves around my body.

You can see my other three hooping videos here.

Technical note:
I shot this video using the little video function in Mac Photobooth. Pulled it into iMovie to do minor editing and apply effects.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Out of the Box" video project

Out of the Box. Second video my company, Happy Hippy Productions, has been contracted to do on women, girls and HIV/AIDS in TT. First was Invisible. Started working on Out of the Box in December. Continued through January. Had to pause for a while. While I was recuperating, Dion edited. Client had requested a ten minute piece, but Dion felt there was so much interesting and usable material that he did a 45 minute first edit (actually it was even longer ... and he cut it down to 45). We subsequently went back into edit with a machete and cut it down to 10 minutes 4 seconds. Finished yesterday. Just to tie up loose ends and finalise today before burning to DVD for approval.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

(Re)connecting with You

Our Spirits ... connected
Our Bodies ... ready


Trusting Time
Trusting Place
Trusting Self
Trusting Grace

Friday, February 20, 2009

The adventures of my camera (cont'd) ...

Photo taken using Photobooth on laptop
My camera was supposed to arrive in Texas on Wednesday ... but up until yesterday when I tracked it, status message was "Clearance delay at Miami". Yesterday (Thursday) I called DHL and a woman answered. I gave her my airway bill and she tracked it.

"Hmmm, it's being held in Miami," she said.

"Why?" I asked.

"I don't know ..." she said slowly. I could hear her thinking. "Did you fill out a Commercial Invoice?"


"I'll have to call them tomorrow and find out what's happening. And I'll call you back." She referred to the information she had in front of her. "Okay, your name is E-l-s-p-e-t-h Duncan ... Your number, (868) 89 ..."

I stopped her there. "My number doesn't begin with an 89 ..."

Sigh. Whatever number she had for me was the wrong number. How come, I don't know, since I had personally written it on my documents. I guess the wrong thing had been typed into the system ...

Anyway ... tracked the package again this morning and it says "Clearance processing complete at Miami Gateway - USA."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

In Loving Memory

I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.

- Jules Verne

I'd taken this pic a few days ago, when I still had Synchronicity
Pandy (short for Pandora), my parents'/sister's cat was put to sleep today. She was getting on in years (about 16, I think) and was frail and ailing. Putting an animal to sleep is never an easy decision, but sometimes it's the best decision ... for the animal's sake.

You had a great life, Pandy ... and a peaceful passing. We know you're now up in pet heaven frisking around with all of the other pets that have been in our family.

Cindy (golden labrador retriever) - my first ever pet, my birthday gift for my 1st birthday
Gobberlina (cat)
Mehitabel (cat)
Tuptim (cat)
Tarzan (dog)
Zola (dog)
Kizzy (dog)
Kiku (dog)
Sheba (dog)
Martina (dog)
Patch (dog)
Tarka (dog)
Misty (dog)
Daisy (dog)
Bijoux (no longer with us ... but hopefully still alive and well in a home that loves her)

I think that's it. Hope I havent missed anyone.


Finally Cut

All over T&T there are people counting down to Carnival, which is this weekend, Monday and Tuesday. That's not what I'm counting down to in the above photo, though. I'm playing around with a new Photobooth feature on Satya (my laptop). The feature allows you to take four photos during the camera countdown. I bought Satya some new 'toys' the other day ... upgraded her OS to Leopard (which is what has, among other things, new features in some of the programs), bought a terabyte external drive and increased her RAM.

The computer I used to edit all my videos on (see right hand side bar for some videos) conked out the other day and it makes no sense to fix it. It was a PC (Windows). The only reason I would have wanted to fix it is that I loved the editing program I used - Sony Vegas (hm, there's that Sony name again). Unfortunately that editing program doesn't run on Mac :(

Mac people are always on about Final Cut and often laugh at anything else, but I genuinely loved Vegas. I found it powerful, customizable and 'intuitive' (to use the word people sometimes put to technology). Sometimes Mac/Final Cut editors would come up to me and say: "Wow, how did you do that?" or "How did you get it to do that/look like that?" Then when they heard it wasn't anything to do with Final Cut, they would be surprised. Well, it's not always what brand name you use or what equipment you have ... it's what you DO with what you have.

Anyway, I miss editing. Without my Vegas I've been tinkering around in iMovie, which is very limiting, but okay for putting together quick, simple things. Kind of like being without Synchronicity and getting my photography fix by taking screen shots and using Photobooth.

Seeing that I'm "a Mac girl" now, the time has come for me to switch to Final Cut. Plus, it's "the industry standard". I've used it before but didn't think it was sooooooooooo great. Kind of like going to see a movie that everyone is raving about and then wondering why (as often happens with me). But ... I feel this time around I will love FC and be really glad that I'm using it.

For now I'll use Satya for editing (which is why I got her those new toys), but at some point I'll need to get another system (computer). Many would advise a Mac desktop, but I'd rather a laptop, because of mobility/travel and wanting to carry the system with me when I go. Who knows? Time will tell what is what.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


My 3rd hooping video (maybe one day I'll stop counting).

Keep looking and you will see the big HEART that appears. I didn't expect it ... but saw it when looking back at the video after applying effects. It's what made me decide to post the video.

On this particular day, I was trying to:
(a) hoop faster, using fast music (you'll vaguely hear this Ofra Haza remix playing on my laptop in the background).
(b) bring the hoop from waist up to chest
(c) bring the hoop from up in the air twirling around my hand down over shoulders and chest to waist without stopping rotation

None of these things are as easy as they look! But I'll get there one day.

(Video recorded using Mac laptop camera and edited in iMovie HD)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Off to Texas, protected by Angel Gabriel

My camera - body only
Today I sent my camera off to the service centre in Texas, using DHL. As I was filling out the relevant forms in the DHL office, two men in the lobby were on about DHL's service. They were dissatisfied.

"DHL has become Trinidadianised!" one man, clearly upset, was saying. "They not doing things properly like they used to!"

I finished filling my forms and was ready for my baby to be packaged carefully. The DHL man gave me one of those regular envelopes with one layer of bubble wrap to put the camera in for shipping. I looked at him like he couldn't be serious.

"What? This has to be wrapped in at least 2 - 3 inches of protective material and then put in a sturdy box!" I said, quoting the exact recommendation on the Sony repair form.

"It will be okay. It will be in this envelope and then in a box." He showed me a flimsy box. I didn't know if to feel angry, upset or if to burst into tears. Is this the way a courier service handles a fragile and valuable item? I felt like I was watching myself or a loved one going in for an operation, into the hands of a doctor who had never studied medicine.

"You don't have proper packaging?!" I asked in alarm. I had thought that they would package items in a professional way. At least that's what a friend (who had once shipped his camera out for repairs) had told me would happen.

"No,well, you have to provide packaging for it if you want more protection," the DHL man said.

"Well where can I get bubble wrap around here?" I was starting to get frustrated ... the opposite reaction to the thorough service I had received over the phone yesterday from Sony USA.

"I don't know where you can get packaging," he said.

The man who was saying DHL is now Trinidadianised started going on about the envelope the man wanted to put my camera in. "You mean that is what they will put an expensive piece of equipment in?! You ever see how those men fling boxes?! Whatever you do, you make sure you see how they package your thing! And make sure they write FRAGILE on the package! If that breaks, they're not liable!"

What a feeling ... sending my camera off into the wilderness with people who didn't seem to care.

The guard whispered to the DHL man that I could get packaging at a place around the corner ... so I went. When I got there (a dark warehouse filled with large wooden crates and cardboard boxes), a polite gentleman came out to deal with me. "All the packaging men are out," he said. "But I'll see ... maybe I can find one."

He came back shortly with a slim, older Oriental man who, upon seeing the camera and hearing I was sending it via DHL, immediately started giving me a whole set of advice. "Make sure this ... make sure that ... Make sure they do a,b,c,d,e, etc etc etc." He then got bubble wrap and wrapped the camera body so carefully and securely that I felt my concerns fall away. He then put it into the box the DHL man had given me and taped the bottom and sides securely, leaving the top open for DHL to inspect, etc.

"Make sure you see them tape it up properly," he said. "And make sure you sign up your customs form stating REPAIRS so you don't have to pay when the camera comes back. Otherwise they will kill you with that price, like bringing in a new camera!"

I left, feeling a lot more secure about the safety of my camera on its journey.

"What's your name?" I asked the slim Oriental man as I was leaving.

"Gabriel," he responded.

My previously concerned face broke into a smile. It felt like Angel Gabriel had been sent to protect my camera on its journey (literally ... with both bubble wrap and angelic vibes).


WOW ... I just looked up Angel Gabriel ... and check this out ... S/he is patron saint of (among other things) postal workers!! (DHL can fall into that category) ...

Some people believe that Gabriel is a female spirit; others hold that angels have no gender.

Because of Gabriel's role as a communicator and mediator between Heaven and Earth, Catholics hold the Archangel to be a Patron Saint of broadcasters, telecommunications workers, diplomats, messengers, postal workers, and stamp collectors. Because Gabriel helped the prophet Daniel interpret his dreams, those seeking similar aid with their own dream work may petition the Archangel for help ...

Interesting indeed! And ... this is this and this are the other things that popped into my mind when Gabriel said his name. An interesting coincidence that would take a whole other post to explain ...

Something about today

... feels like it will be interesting.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Synchronicity still takes shots ... but I have no idea how they look until downloaded.
Here, the image on my computer screen is reflected in Synch's lens.

I called Sony e-support in the States to find out what can be done for my camera after yesterday's unfortunate turn of events. I got a rep called Adrian.

Like most people, he didn't know how to spell my name, but politely asked "Can you please spell your first name for me, Miss Duncan?" (As opposed to "Eh? Was dat? Nesbit? Lispet?")

It was refreshing to actually deal with someone who asked specific, professional questions and could knowledgeably answer the queries I had about my camera and the process without sounding like "the valued customer" was bothering or interrupting them.

What a huge difference is made by: (i) a well trained, polite service rep and (ii) good customer service. Trinidad and Tobago has far to go in that respect. In bigger countries, companies stay on top of the game with customer service, knowing that it can make or break their image and build or break their customer base. Here in TT people just accept "whatever" or laugh off bad customer service with a casual "Dat is Trinidad, yes ..."

As the afternoon progressed, I began to feel overwhelmed by thoughts of what to do with my camera. After further discussions with the Sony people (this time with a rep called André) and Chookooloonks, who called from Texas (where the Sony reps told me I would have to send my camera) ... I'm still not sure what I'll do in the end. But ... I intend to have a clear course of action soon.

In summary, what have I learned from this experience? A few things ... but the main one:
Listen to my inner voice above any other voice(s). Don't second guess myself.

The 'good' and 'bad' of yesterday's Valentines Day ...

This will be a long post. Yesterday, "Valentine's Day", was a mix of good, fun, interesting and ... what can I say ... unexpectedly and unanticipatedly upsetting?

I'll tell you first about the good/fun/interesting part ....

I spent the day-into-night surrounded by hundreds of red roses and different flowers (lilies, tulips, chrysahthemums, etc) as I worked, along with another friend, in our friend Randy's flower shop in Gulf City. When I'd first heard that he had a flower shop I got excited and said I wanted to spend a day in it, working ... preferably doing deliveries. I wanted to see peoples' faces when they received their blooms. He told me that V-Day, along with Mother's Day, is the busiest day and he would definitely need the help. That's how I ended up there ...

This new in-the-shop experience was interesting to me, observing the mass phenomenon which on one hand can be seen as people wanting to be 'romantic' and on the other hand can be interpreted as: "I HAVE to buy flowers for my woman or else ...!!"
Due to the economic situation and "belt tightening" there were apparently not as many customers as usual/as expected. On V-Day the shop is normally a buzzing hive of activity way up to closing hours. Yesterday there were less, but still a steady stream. Mainly men came in to buy flowers. Their expressions ranged from stressed, confused, scared, embarassed ... to innocent, hopeful, eager, cassanova-ish.

Some would come in and mumble something quickly under their breath, forming an entire sentence into one incomprehensible word:


... seemingly embarassed to be buying flowers. Akin to going to a supermarket to buy tampons or sanitary pads.
Some men, upon buying the flowers, were embarassed to walk through the mall with them. One girl from my French class (small world) came in with her brother who was buying a bouquet for his girlfriend. He was shy about buying them and embarassed to walk through the mall with them after purchase. He wanted his sister to hold them and she said "No! You have to." As they left, I noticed him walking with the flowers in front of his face.

Most of the men had interesting ways of asking for flowers ... almost like cave men. One man came in and said simply: "Ah want flowers."

One man came in, cast a swift glance around, pointed to rose bouquets awaiting collection in a corner and said: "Gimme one ah dem ting like dat."
One man came in, pointed to some helium balloons and said: "Gimme wanna dem."

Hmmm ... very eloquent.
(N.B. I'm only highlighting the ones I found were funny. Some were quite normal, politely asking asking for advice on what to get, etc.)

Some of them didn't know what to write on the little gift cards. They get people in the store to come up with words and write their messages for them. I wondered: what does a man say when a woman gushes over a beautiful message that he knows he didn't write? Some of them wrote their own simple messages ... basically To (woman's name) From: (Their name) ... and some would add something extra like "With Love". One man stated that he had to go away and think about his message, but he knew "some Brian McKnight songs so would put in some of those lyrics."

Some men looked like they were under real stress. Buy flowers for your woman or die! I watched in fascination, actually feeling quite sorry for them, realising that (some!) women are very difficult and demanding! I don't think men in general have it easy!!!

I observed people streaming past the shop door, along one of the main corridors of the mall, like robots programmed to buy buy buy. Never before had I sat for so long in a mall, deliberately observing the masses, seeing the drama unfold before my eyes. Made me glad I'm not a slave to the commercial, material world. I noted many women, clearly in their element, walking confidently ahead, determined to buy (0r be bought for) ... with 'their man' slowly trailing behind, looking unenthused and submissive. A kind of "Is Valentine Day. If ah eh come wit she and buy she ting ah go be in trouble."

One man, who came in later in the afternoon to buy roses, said: "Gorm! Ah already get cuss!" I asked him: "Why? Because you didn't get her anything?" His response: "No! Ah order de ting! Look it dey! But ah now comin' to collec! She cussing because she ent get it yet!!"

There's much more to say about that experience, which was interesting, enlightening, funny, endearing ... Glad I did it. A new experience to add to the growing list. I even got to make two or three deliveries to various women who worked in the mall ... and (with my friend Gab, who had popped in to see me), spontaneously gave a rose to a little mentally challenged girl (or very short woman?) who, upon receiving it, folded her arms, twisted her face into a horrible grimace and growled emphatically: "I HAAAAAAAAAATE FLOWERS!!!!!"

Well ...

to cut a long day-into-night short ... let me now tell you about the 'bad' part of the day.


Let's just say that something important to me broke at 9:30 a.m. ... and it wasn't my heart.

It was my brand new, lovely, trusty and might I add expensive digital SLR, Synchronicity ...


I was sitting in a food court, waiting for a friend, Lee, to come and pick me up to head south to the flower shop. I was taking my camera at request of my friend Nish who said "Go and take some nice shots of the store for Randy!" Before leaving home, something was telling me not to bother ... because I was already carrying a cooler with my raw supplies for the day. But ... I went against my instincts. My camera was on my lap in my (padded) camera bag which, as I thought, was strapped around my neck as always. But when I stood up to greet Lee, the camera bag dropped to the ground. I thought nothing of it because it wasn't a hard drop, it didn't drop far (12 inches, if that far) and the bag is padded.

When we reached Gulf City and were in the carpark, I took out Synchronicity to take a shot of some hearts in a window display. I clicked as usual and then went to look at the image in the LCD screen. I saw a set of lines and a strange black blob and NO IMAGE!!! "What?" I thought, thinking it was just that shot. No ... the LCD screen is completely conked out with those lines and strange dark shapes, looking broken within! Aaargh ...!!
This is what my LCD screen now looks like ...
almost like the curtains opening on a stage for the play to begin.

There's nothing for me to say. I can take it for someone to look at it on Monday ... but from what I see, it doesn't look good. I could send it back to the US for repairs, but ... often the cost of doing that could be more than the cost of buying a new camera. I'll have to investigate all possibilities and move swiftly on my best option. After all, I do 'need' my camera.


As you can see from the shots in this post, I can still take photos with the camera ... but I can't look back at the images I took (until downloaded to laptop) and can't use the menu display, etc without the LCD screen. When I really think about it ... that's just like using a non-digital SLR. You don't get to see the images until you develop them ... and you just have to know what you're doing manually to get your shot.

But ... I still miss my LCD! I want to see my controls and to look at the image firectly after and make sure it's what I want!
That first shot I took (after 'the fall') ... when I realised that something was seriously wrong with the LCD screen.
Immediately thereafter, wildly taking pics of anything (here, car door) to see if LCD was really damaged.
My friend Gab, who came to visit me in the flower shop. This is her face, still in shock, when I was showing her the camera and clicking to demonstrate that it could still most likely take shots. She looked more upset than I did.
Angel in flower shop.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Yerushalayim Shel Zahav - Ofra Haza

Beautiful song, passionate performance, graceful presence and power, commanding a crowd of people (choreographed) to move in the way that they do in this video. Keep watching to see when it happens ...

I'm enjoying the (re)discovery of the inspiring Ofra Haza and finding so many great links to her music and some videos. Let's just call this Ofra Week.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Offering more Ofra

(13) The Poem (New Track).mp3 - Ofra Haza

I've put together a short playlist of some of Ofra's songs - some remixed, some not (see below). Press play and they stream one after the other, automatically ... allowing you to go about your tasks at home or at work in the company of this music. "Poem" (the piece featured above) stands alone though, as it wasn't possible to save it to a playlist.


Ofra Haza

I'm enjoying the (re)discovery of the inspiring Ofra Haza and finding so many great links to her music and some videos. I'll be taking a few days 'break' from blogging ... but will share the Ofra links in blog posts. Let's just call this Ofra Week.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Source of below summary of the film: Secrets - A God Given Voice by Ofer Naim

This is the story of the legendary Israeli vocalist Ofra Haza, her rise to the top and the secrets shrouding her tragic end.

Even more than her deep desire to succeed in her career, Ofra wanted desperately to meet her Prince Charming and get married. After achieving many of her career goals, and at the top of her international fame, Ofra at 38, met the man who would later become her husband. From that moment on her life changed drastically .

In July 1997, Ofra fulfilled her dream of getting married. After the wedding, her new husband decided to control her career and finances and get rid of her longstanding manager, Bezalel Aloni. Ofra and her controlling husband Doron moved from one apartment to another until they settled in a rented villa in Herzelia, the house in which her life would end.

Two and a half years later, after rarely being seen in public, she was bed ridden. The questions surrounding her mysterious and shocking death caused her family to ask the police and a private investigator to look into the case.

Ofra’s death and the handling of her finances and properties were not the only questions that remain unanswered… her will also disappeared mysteriously.

This film is a fascinating look at her life and mysterious death with interviews from many who worked with her and admired her including: Jeffrey Katzenberg, Paul Anka, Hans Zimmer, Don Was, Sam & Shanit Schwartz and others.


Vancouver Jewish Film Festival 2008
Israel Film Festival, U.S.A
Sao Paulo Jewish Film Festival

Ofra Week

I love the various Ofra Haza DJ remixes I've been coming across (audio and video) and I'm continuing to enjoy the energy. I feel like a plant soaking up water after a drought. The pumping song featured in the above video is a remixed DJ version of Ofra's "Love Song" (see/hear her singing the acapella version (live) here). I love the energy in this remix. It feels like European techno club scene meets sacred Goddess and goes driving to Toco with windows down, wind blowing, sun, smell of sea and salt, blasting Ofra on a fantastic sound system with lots of bass pumping (... so clearly not the system in my car, which doesn't even work). The above video is also a visual remix, using images from another video of hers (see below for that full video with original use of the footage for a completely different song).

A friend of mine commented to me yesterday that Ofra's music is 'an acquired taste'. Granted, as with anything else, there are some who won't take to it ... but I definitely do. An unexpected and indescribable seed of inspiration was planted in me yesterday via her offerings and I'm going to step away for a while to quietly nurture it, let it gestate, see where it takes me creatively ... whether specifically in relation to the current video project or whether for something completely different ... or both!

(Refer to below note ... which will appear at the bottom of all posts for this week).

I'm enjoying the (re)discovery of the inspiring Ofra Haza and finding so many great links to her music and some videos. I'll be taking a few days 'break' from blogging ... but will share the Ofra links in blog posts which will still be appearing daily (thanks to scheduled future-dated blog posts). Let's just call this Ofra Week.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Inspired by Haunting Israeli Woman ... Haunted by Inspiring Israeli woman

Kol Ha Neshama (Maor Zohar 2007 Mix) - Ofra Haza

Press play and listen to the above song (a remix) as you read the post below. It's my latest 'song-I-can't-stop-listening-to'. I wonder what she is saying ...

Years ago I was over at the house of a friend who had great taste in music and therefore a great CD collection. On this particular day he put on one of his CDs at full volume and one of the most haunting female voices I'd ever heard slowly flooded the house and my senses. My hair raised and I said "Wow! Who is that?!" It was Ofra Haza, the popular Israeli singer (1957 - 2000).

Just now, while writing this post ... out of curiosity, I went to Google to find out how Ofra had died so young. I was surprised to see ... died of internal organ failure related to AIDS, February 23. But why was I surprised? 'Surprised' isn't really the word I'm looking for. I jumped when I read the cause of her death ... and since then some dots are starting to connect ...

It's hard to put into words what I'm feeling right now, listening to her voice ... along with this new realisation of her cause of death (which it seems, from various sources, was shrouded in mystery and conspiracy). I started writing this post with the sole reason of sharing her song with you ... but now, hearing how she died is inspiring me in an unexpected way ... for the (work) project I am about to embark upon/started conceptualising yesterday (the second of two videos I've been contracted to do on women, children and HIV/AIDS) with my P.A. for the project - Patti-Ann Ali (whose initials ironically are P.A.)

Timing is perfect for Ofra to step in.

Some may wonder what the connection is between a deceased Israeli singer and a Trinbagonian film on women, children and HIV/AIDS. It is the connection of SPIRIT and ENERGY that truly inspires. It is inexplicable and can come from anywhere ... the most remote thing, place or person. We need to be open to it when it presents itself and not close off the possibilities it offers. Listen to Ofra's voice. Even though I don't understand what she's saying, the deeper meaning inherent in her tone reaches me clearly. On a feeling level we understand what the intellect can't begin to comprehend. She is projecting something Universally powerful and directive.

I can't explain more than that, but maybe you understand where I'm coming from.


Wow! Just looked up the translation of the title of her song ... Kol Ha Neshama (see below). The song on its own is powerful, but the beat and energy in the remix gives it a different intensity which I also find infectious ...

The phrase "Kol HaNeshama" comes from the last verse of Psalm 150, the Psalm that many of us know simply as "Hallelu", perhaps the most joyous of all the Psalms. We chose it for the name of our synagogue both because of the text itself and the way it opens itself to English translations and interpertations.

The Hebrew spelling of "Kol" is K-L, Kaf-Lamed, meaning "all".

The root of Neshama, N-SH-M, Nun-Shin-Mem, means "breath" or "breathing", thus a "living thing".

The simple meaning is: "Every living thing" (will praise God). Some have expanded this to "The breath of every living thing praises God."

The translation in our prayer book, which just happens to be named Kol HaNeshama, is "Let every living thing Yah's praises sing".

Another translation would be "all that breathes" or "all of humanity", signaling a universality in Judaism that includes all of humankind as one entity.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hooping Dervish (my 2nd hooping video)

On Sunday, after my morning yoga (hence still wearing my yoga clothes in the video), one of my favourite songs was playing on my laptop ... and I spontaneously gave my new TO-born hoop, Fireheart, a spin. As promised when I did my first hooping video, I will be sharing the various stages of my hooping (r)evolution on the blog.

This was my first time hooping since the op two weeks ago ... so, essentially, it's Fireheart's "maiden voyage". I haven't had the opportunity to learn & practise any 'tricks' and 'moves yet ... so this is a simple performance. I'm at that awkward "learning to walk stage", sometimes not quite sure what to do with my hands/arms, trying not to knock over anything (as I'm in a contained space)...

This feels somewhat like letting you see me sing in the shower or dance in front of a mirror. But if I only showed videos of myself doing it when I get really good, that wouldn't be a true visual documentation of my hooping evolution. I want to share with you the journey that takes me from where I am now in the beginning ... to what I end up becoming.

I called the video Hooping Dervish because a friend of mine saw it and said it reminded her of the Sufi whirling dervishes (just in a 'me' style). Interestingly, I had thought the same thing when I first looked back at it ... mainly because I have on all white and I'm spinning. Take a look at the artful and simple Whirling Dervish video below. I've always been fascinated by them. I find them beautiful and transcendent.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

When the Heart is moved ...

Just saw these ants carrying a heart-shaped piece of Jasper's food across the wide expanse of floor to the front door.

This (notably special) morning

One of these tall candles always keeps me company as I do my yoga/meditation early in the morning (anywhere between 3:00 - 5:30 a.m.).

Looking out of my bedroom window around minutes to six
Since I automatically wake up so early, I always experience the day as it emerges. The first bird calls, the first light ...

Something about this particular morning - today - feels notably special. Even the light in the sky and something in the colour of the clouds struck me as being 'different' when I first looked out.

I'm not sure what it is and I don't think I am seeing it or touching it yet ... but energetically I know something has shifted, something is happening, something has been/is being given to me and I am ready to receive it. I've been feeling this building up ... and I felt it very strongly yesterday in particular. This morning I felt so thankful for 'it' in advance, that I started to cry after yoga ... and found myself saying (silently, in my head): "Please help me to really see it and know when it comes, to be really open to receive it, to embrace it fully and make the most of it."

Wow!! ... as I wrote that I looked down and there's a Praying Mantis praying under my fan! So of course I had to look it up as a power animal to see what message it has for me. Fitting, as always!

The Praying Mantis under my fan

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Prayer for Trinidad and Tobago

Yesterday I was looking through my photos and, in coming across this one, decided to post it.

One day when Tresa was here we went to the old church in Tortuga (the oldest wooden church in TT and home of the miraculous Black Virgin) to take some photos. I had been asked by a new magazine (Building TT) to write an article, with images, on the restoration of this landmark. It was a public holiday (Republic Day, 24 September) and the caretaker let us in to scout around and do what we had to do. In a small side room I noticed the prayer on a sheet of paper, lying alone on a table. In the silence and solitude it seemed extra powerful ...

Dear Heavenly Father,

We come to you today, humbly lifting up our country Trinidad and Tobago. We ask Lord that you remove that dark cloud of crime that has settled over our land. We know that with You all things are possible and trust in Your love for the restoration of peace, love and community in our country that is called by Your name. Influence our leaders and people living in the two islands so that they can find an effective solution to restore law and order. We pray that you breathe a fresh breath of Your Holy Spirit over our land and remove all ... murder, road accidents, immortality and ... Lord because we believe that You are ...

(... the ellipses represent the words I can't see in the photo)

This morning around 4:00, as I ended my meditation with the Kundalini Yoga closing prayer, I was not alone. I heard a multitude of voices and had a vision of every single person in Trinidad and Tobago, without exception, chanting the words to each other:

May the longtime Sun shine upon you
All Love surround you
And the pure Light within you guide your way on

May the longtime Sun shine upon you
All Love surround you
And the pure Light within you guide your way on
Guide your way on
Guide your way on

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What are the odds of this happening?!!

Talk about uncanny! I had shot this footage when I was in Toronto in May 2007. Some friends and I were at an outdoor Drummers in Exile gathering with our djembes. Fascinated by the fire hoopers, I captured a little footage using the video function of my digital camera. I had no idea who the hoopers were at the time. Some months after, I used this footage for the above video when German musician/blogger, Gary Winter, and I collaborated on a series of short video/music pieces.

Two days ago, digging through my video archives, I came across these collaborative videos and watched them again. As I looked at the fire hooping one, I found that something in the shape and movement of one of the fire hoopers struck a familiar chord. Toronto/Canada/the world is a huge place and the person in the video could have been any one of a multitude of hoopers. Plus the video is dark and her figure isn't very distinct ... but I saw something in her movement and form that I instinctively connected to the Toronto hooper from whom I had ordered my professional hoop in December 2008. I received it in January 2009 just before going on my surgical adventure.

I sent the collaborative video file to her and she wrote back saying "Yes!" it definitely is her and one of her fellow fire hoopers! To think that over a year and a half ago I shot a video clip of a random stranger hooping in a crowded field ... then this year (without even knowing that the dots are connected, until now) I order a professional collapsible travel hoop (made by her) from her! Fascinating ... considering the many other people and places in the world I could have chosen to order from.

Talk about coming full circle, just like a hoop.

When I got my hoop earlier in January, I named her Fireheart (inspired by this). She joins my:
Video camera (Karishma)
Digital SLR (Synchronicity/Synchronici-T.E.)
Drum (Dandelion)
Laptop (Satya ... which, interestingly, I almost named Karishma).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Still fascinated

One of Jasper's recent gifts, in the garage
When I was a child I had a fascination with ants. Sugar ants (indoors) and bachacs (outdoors). I would spend ages closely examining their behaviour. With the sugar ants, I would marvel at their journey across the wall, following each other along the invisible path of what seemed to be a guidance scent left by their leader. None of them would stray from this predetermined pattern until I wiped my finger across the invisible line, breaking the scent. My imagination would peak as they scurried around madly, running back to tell others, to get their news reporters and return to the spot where the giant alien object had intruded.

Sometimes an ant would get killed by the wiping motion of my finger. The others would scurry off to call the ant ambulance and loved ones. Many of them would return, gather around the body in a circle, falling still for a moment, before moving in together, lifting the body and carrying it along the newly formed scent-path. I imagined that later, on ant TV, they would report the incident. I wondered if they knew that a human had done this or if, to them, my finger was the equivalent of a force of nature (like a hurricane, earthquake or tidal wave would be to us). I wondered if they could see me watching them and if they even knew what humans were. Were we God? I used to think that we were probably so much taller and bigger than they were that their eyes couldn't see far enough to perceive us ... and therefore we didn't exist.

Bachac at the crossroads.
I am still fascinated by ants. Between last night and this morning a whole set of them were diligently removing food from Jasper's bowl and transporting it outdoors. I spent some time watching them when I woke up early this morning. I marvelled at the fact that each piece of cat food must weigh much more than the leaves and petals they usually carry ... and yet they were still moving with such ease and determination ... sometimes alone, sometimes running to help each other.
When an animal crops up so often and so disctinctly in my life at any point, I see it as a power animal or animal totem ... bringing important messages. I can see messages here for myself. I'm sure you can see something in it for you too.

Read about the messages brought by Ant as Power Animal:
Symbol of Teamwork, Oneness and Patience
Patience, Order, Discipline (the promise of success through effort)