Monday, July 27, 2009


The building, naming and launching of Sono's boat has been the centre of things for me for a while. These photos should tell part of the story. Sono named her, (he is a Capricorn), I designed the logo. She will go fishing in the very near future. I really want to get these images up in order, but they want to go alphabetically

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Art in Roseau and Customer Service

The office of EXPOSURE, a newspaper published for the visual artists of Dominica is housed in a pretty little white house on the main street in Roseau, the capital city. Volumn 1, Number 1 was issued in February 2009. It is an excellent newsletter, nicely laid out and well written, covering painting, sculpture, photography, a featured artist , Kelo Royer, various art classes and activities and a film review.

This is the only nice thing to say about it. The tiny front porch and small front room were clogged with young people lounging around, which is not so bad if they would take the trouble to move their long legs out of the way to let others pass into the building. The young woman at the counter was beyond surly. She was aggressively rude, did not have basic information and clearly was not going to take the trouble to get it. There was a wall rack with art cards and some paintings on the walls that looked interesting, but it was not worth the unpleasantness to have a look (and who knows, maybe purchase something).

Instead, I recommend going around the corner of the adjoining building, passing through a lunch stand, down a little short alley and visiting the small studio, of Ellingsworth Moses. There I found a soft spoken man (and his young son) quietly sitting at his easel, working on a mixed media landscape piece. We had a friendly chat, he directed me to some art supplies (this is another story), I returned to his studio and bought a little print of a flamboyant tree. You can see his work at

There are other artists’ galleries to visit, and I will find them without the questionable help of the people at Exposure.

Customer Service: Generally speaking, customer service is not Dominica's strong suit. Eye contact is not practiced, items are flung at the customer, clerks take their own sweet time and will keep a customer waiting while they finish their chat with a colleague, or on their cell phone. It is maddening beyond words. Only in the farmers' market or the fish market or the small convenience shops can one get a half way friendly response. I have taken on the challenge of developing a customer/vendor relationship with several locals to make things easier on me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Glanvillia Beach

I go to the beach everyday around 4 PM and I always take my sketch book and do quick drawings of the children playing in the sea, the fishermen, or whatever is going on. The children often come and ask to see what I am doing. They are quick to offer suggestions and to critique! I have several nice little drawings that they have done in my book.

Gardening in the Rainforest

Sono has 400 acres of bush on the side of a mountain. It is about 2 miles from his house through groves of wild guava, banana trees, mango and coconut palms, and other unknown (to me) vegetation across a river, up and down slippery slopes. For Sono and the children it was a walk in the park, for me it was hard going, but I did it, and I don’t think I held them up too much. However, by the time we got there, I was wet and hot and there was no way I felt like gardening!

The garden is a ‘clearing ‘in the bush. Don’t be fooled by the word clearing. Nothing is clear in the bush. This clearing is beside a ravine with brackish flowing water. The soil is gravelly, deep, red and extremely fertile. Sono had brought some tomato seedlings to transplant, and he dug some holes for dasheen plants which he will bring up next time he goes. The only tool was his cutlass and a fork. The tomatoes he planted last week were doing well, as were his bananas and mangoes. I asked why anyone would bother planting mangoes and bananas as they seem to grow in biblical abundance. Apparently the cultivated ones are “not wild”. Right!

I have lost so much weight that my jeans didn’t fit me and kept sliding down. I was also wet, so they would stick to me. I felt trapped inside my pants. Sono cut a branch of something fibrous and tied up my jeans so at least I wasn’t tripping on the pant legs.

We then proceeded on to what is known as “the flat”, which, this being Dominica, isn’t. In fact it was a trail on the steep side of a mountain clogged with vegetation which Sono and Guyva chopped through with their cutlasses. Suddenly we stopped because we were there. Where? It all looked the same to me – green, lush, verdant, luxuriant. But there we were, at a spot they recognized, and soon I saw the little fire pit. The fire was lit, the pot set to boil (water from the stream that I could not see for the undergrowth), rice, chicken pieces, salt, appeared and were tossed in the pot while we drank coconut water and Guyva went off to dig wild yams and dasheen to roast. I lay down on a banana leaf. Lynthia and Guyva played games on their cell phones. How’s that for incongruity.

We ate our meal, (delicious, satisfying) and it was time to go down. Much easier to go down. Sono and the children were carrying heavy loads of bananas, and mangoes. We picked about 10 pounds of guava along the way. We did a small detour for Sono to show me some big iron pots left over from the days the slaves made molasses from the sugar cane plantation that had been there (on the side of a hill?). He also pointed out a track, (like a lumber track) along which the molasses was transported out, but again, I couldn’t see it for the undergrowth.

Finally we reached home. I went strainght into the shower and bed, Sono, Guyva and Lynthia went into their house to make a gallon of guava juice.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Grade Six Graduation

See, "A Humbling Experience: below.

This morning I was invited to the graduation of the grade 6 class at St. John's Catholic School. It was pouring rain when I set out on the 20 minute walk. I was soaked through before I even got down the stairs. It was worth every drop and was a spirit, heart, mind opener for me.

The grade six class was moving on to secondary school in September. Most of the children had been at St. John since Kindergarten, and most had started out with Sister Clare, who will also be moving on this fall. The ceremonies took place in the RC chruch Hall, just across from the school, in the presence of the Bishop, members of the PTA, the school board, parents, friends, relatives and well wishers. Mrs. Hyacinth was the MC and did a brillant job. Miss Joanne Charles, a former St. J's student gave the key note address and it was a barn-burner of a speech, accompanied by cheers, amens and applause from the audience. There were more speeches, songs and then finally the certificates and prizes were presented to the 28 graduates. Each child was mentioned, each child was praised for their effort, all with equal attention. Devon Brewster, with tears streaming down his face, gave a valedictory speech that would do anyone proud.

This was a very emotional and moving 2 hours. The atmosphere was palable with love and good will, with hopes and dreams and expectations for the future. These children are truly blessed.