Friday, November 28, 2014


RIP Josephine Etienne.

Thanks for the pear juice.
I  hope they play cricket where you are

See 3/22/14 Notes From Sea View Restaurant

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Older Ladies

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Here are some little stories for your entertainment.

Yesterday Carol, a Ross U spouse and friend,  had to appear in court for a minor traffic mishap. The proceedings were recorded, by the judge, by hand!  They were asked  to stop every once in awhile so he could catch up!  No tape recorder, never mind a person, other than the judge to write down who said what. This is a true story.

I took a small package to the post office to send to Peter. I had it nicely addressed and sealed for its journey to Canada. The little post office guy demanded that I open it. Why? I questioned. So we can see what is in it. I coolly looked him in the eye (not easy here as they avoid eye contact) and answered, "It is none of your business what is in it. The contents will be listed on the customs sticker.  Its contents are the problem of the receiving post office, not yours." We went back and forth for a bit. The post master got involved and my package went off intact.

Ross University is constructing a large new building.  An American firm is doing the work and have hired  local workers.  Many of these workers have long locks which they pile on top of their head or bind under a kerchief.  There is an issue with how to perch your hard hat on top of your hair.  The American safety officer is insisting the hard hat fit snug to the head, the construction workers are saying, "impossible."  Dominicans are very fussy about their hair.


Muddah                                               Mother
Fahdah                                                 Father
Come awhile                                      come here now
Just now                                              Wait a minute
Irie                                                         Good
Tanks                                                    Thanks
Portsmouf                                          Portsmouth
Fig                                                          Banana
Pear                                                       Avocado
where you be?                                 Where are you?              
I dere wi                                              Right here
Bobul                                                    A corrupt person
Fockeries                                             Foolishness
meg                                                      skinny

Friday, October 3, 2014


Let's talk about being wet, constantly, inextricably, relentlessly wet.  Not damp, or humid, just wet - all the time. It's one's own juices that render one wet all over all the time.  Certainly it rains hard and often and you will get caught on the wrong side of the street where there is no overhang for shelter, but that is not the wet I am talking about.  From that you will dry quickly. The sun will blast forth and dry everything except YOU. I am talking about sweat.  
Your eyeballs sweat and you feel like you are crying; the soles of your feet sweat and you slid off your shoes.  The elastic in your bra rots and your underwear, no matter how scanty is your panty, gets wet and stays wet! The striking sun does not dry your person, it makes it wetter. You may go into a building that is air conditioned only to now be clammy and wet!

I guess they don't call it the rain forest for nothing.

And I would rather be hot and wet than cold and bundled up.

Morne Diable - an active volcano

Saturday, August 23, 2014


As I grow in age, I value women who are over fifty most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:

A woman over fifty will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask, “What are you thinking?” She doesn’t care what you think.

If a woman over fifty doesn’t want to watch the game, she doesn’t sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do. And, it’s usually something more interesting.

A woman over fifty knows herself well enough to be assured in who she is, what she is, what she wants and from whom. Few women past the age of forty give a hoot what you might think about her or what she’s doing.

Women over fifty are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won’t hesitate to shoot you, if they think they can get away with it.

Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it’s like to be unappreciated.

A woman over fifty has the self-assurance to introduce you to her women friends. A younger woman with a man will often ignore even her best friend because she doesn’t trust the guy with other women. Women over fifty couldn’t care less if you’re attracted to her friends because she knows her friends won’t betray her.

Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over fifty. They always know.

A woman over fifty looks good wearing bright red lipstick. This is not true of younger women. Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over fifty is far sexier than her younger counterpart.

Older women are forthright and honest. They’ll tell you right off if you are a jerk, if you are acting like one! You don’t ever have to wonder where you stand with her.

Yes, we praise women over fifty for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it’s not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed hot woman of fifty-plus, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some twenty-two-year-old waitress.

Found somewhere on the internet - this, together with Maya Angelo's statement on what every woman should have, is truth!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Walking into Portsmouth

I walk to Portsmouth from Glanvillia and back at least once a day, a short 15 minute jaunt  that usually takes 20 to 25 minutes. Usually the sky is high, and bright and intensely blue, by 9AM the sun is already striking and it is 80 degrees  F.  My morning trip goes like this.

After I clang the gate behind me,  the first   thing I pass is Angie's bread hut. 
Usually there are people leaning over the counter chatting with Angie and buying  their morning loaf.  They wave a cheery good morning and wish me a 'blessed day'.  The hut faces an abandoned building which houses several generations of little screech owls who sit on the wire across the road at night, screeching, and  keeping the rat population under control.  The building is on posts I can smell the goats who sheltered there over night.

I continue on, past Obiah's shop, more good morning wishes,  down to the corner.  But first I must pass Sono's beloved boat "Capri", rotting away at the side of the road.  I apologize to it and give it a tap. 
At the intersection, on the left is the 'public convenience', toilets and a shower.  If I am going to Picard, (the other direction), this is also the bus stop!  There are always 3 or 4 rum soaked denizens lounging on the steps drinking their breakfast.   They call to me, "Dahlin' you good?"  "Madam, you lookin' pretty", "Baby, have a bless day".  I return the greeting with a smile and a wave and turn right around Cherry Tree Bar, from whence their rum is dispensed!

So now I have the ocean on my left and I am headed directly into Portsmouth.  I walk along Glanvillia Bay remembering my happy days there with Sono,  and always checking to see who has gone to sea today, what boats are on their mooring, and of course acknowledging whoever happens to be sitting there under the almond trees on the beach.

I pass Woody's Pizza, Ma Parson's shop, 2 little Spanish taverns, the huge gas station and the Bank.
The Tourist building
Next comes the tourist office across the road on the  beach,  the Indian River men hustling tourists,  the bridge and the 'canash', the mouth of the River where the boats are tied. I know these men.  They will always  acknowledge me, but rarely call out or wave, a rather dour lot unless they have tourists under their wing!   I look to see if  Gregory is there.  I will stop and sit with him on my way home at the end of the day.  Now I cross the Indian River Bridge.  I look up the River to see who is rowing with a boat load of tourists.  For some reason they will wave and call to me now, from their boat, with tourists there! Crossing the Bridge is like changing zones.  On the other side is Portsmouth and the vibes are different!

west side facing the ocean

east side looking up the River

So on to bustling Burrows Square. Loud, noisy, crowded, dusty.  It is the bus terminal.  Buses coming in from Vielle Case, Thibaud, Dos D'Ane, Bourne, Paix Bouche stop here and buses to Roseau start here.  The square is crowded and the buses drivers are hustling passengers.  They don't leave Burrows Square until they are full although they could pick up passengers on the way.  " Cucumber" (coo-cum-bah)  comes dashing and calling across the street to me to see if I need a bus.  The drivers are all calling, "Madam, Madam, goin' Roseau? Leaving right away." (not true).  ( see blog below "Riding the Buses"). I trip  over the feet of the men sitting on the steps of Miss Olive's  shop, all greet me lustily!  Just a few steps and I stop to chat with Michael, (known as Soul) the shoemaker at his stall just outside Douglas'.  Sometimes McDowell is there and comes out to say good morning.
Michael "Soul"

The next few blocks can bring anything!  I pass Rudolph Thomas hard ware, Mini Cash where I buy electric power and top up my phone, pass and hail (as they say here) several acquaintances, fist bumps along the way, wave to Jennifer in her Salon, look to see if Sea View restaurant is open yet, maybe stop in at the Internet Cafe to get something for school photocopied,  greet the Rasta selling local homemade juice, and on to the Market area and CALLS. Right on the corner , under a big mango tree are several vegetable stalls.  Phillip has the best grapefruit, pink and sweet and juicy!  Into the CALLS courtyard, hello to Rosemary in the laundry and up stairs to see what adventures wait for me there!

A wonderful way to start the day!  Who wouldn't love this!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Notes From Sea View Restaurant

Here I sit in a little restaurant, at the sea side in the middle of Portsmouth.  It is an open cabin really owned by JoJo Etienne.  I just had a good feed of fried plantain and stewed chicken in some kind of delicious sauce with fresh apricot juice.  A cricket match is on the TV.  Cricket is always on here.  JoJo is a fan.  When the West Indies is playing there often is a gathering of women come to watch. 

Many people come and go.  Some arrive walking on the sea wall, some off the street.  Some sit and eat, some ‘take away’.  Now – here comes a German couple, no, Dutch.  They are birders and go out to the sea wall and bring out their serious cameras.  There are not many birds hunting as it is hot mid-day and the fish have gone down deep.  There are two Middle Eastern men at the other end of the table – Moroccans probably.  Dark, silent.

It is hot, but the breeze, always present, is blowing nicely through.  The sea is calm with little ripples There is a surface wind.

When I turn my face to look out the door I see a street winding its way up the hill side, colourful buildings on either side, some children going back to school, a man on a bicycle, a woman slowly trudging up the steep hill.  No trees to shade the houses or street.  Too dangerous, I am told.  Trees fall on your house in a hurricane!

Now here comes a West Indian man dressed in his naval whites, an unusual sight. Maybe Coast Guard.  He buys some guava juice. Next come some Norwegians who have been sailing the Caribbean. They pick up a beer from the fridge and strike up a conversation with me.  They do not buy me a beer.  Boo.

JoJo’s granddaughter comes in from school and is given a bakes with ham and a pop. Something happens in the cricket game on the TV and there is a loud cheer from the kitchen!  The Norwegians drink up and go.  A fisherman leaps in off the sea wall, calls out to me, and an exchange in Patois with JoJo and several other local regulars begins.  Laughter, teasing, joking. They see me here often and are used to me. 

Well, I could sit here all afternoon and just watch and chat and pass the time. 

JoJo in the kitchen
Looking out the back


Watching cricket on TV

Friday, February 14, 2014

I want to Write

I really want to write.  I like the physical act of writing and I like finding words and phrases.  So I bought myself a pretty new book with blank pages and I got out my favourite pen and I opened the book and waited for the flow.  Nothing happened.  I waited some more.  Still nothing.  I smoked a cigarette and waited some more.  Still waiting.  So while I am waiting for something to write about I will tell you what I see when I look out the window.

I see the mountains that are Dominica, ancient volcanoes standing proud and tall. There is nothing subtle about these mountains.  The peaks and valleys and ridges are distinct. The furthest away is dark.  Mist and clouds negotiate their way around the top.  It is this range I look to every morning to decide if I should take an umbrella or not.

In front of this falls another mountain also dark, but with streaks of sunlight on its west face.  This range becomes a group of undulating hills which disappear behind another mountain.  This one is in full sunlight; there are shadows of clouds sliding over it.

These ranges seem to drop directly into the sea giving way to another power. But no, they do not give way at all.  They steadfastly continue.  The ocean merely floods the valleys and covers the mountain tops.  Coral grow on them instead of coconut and banana.  Fish live there instead of people.

Now that I think of it, Dominica is all sky, mountain, ocean: earth, air, water. and frequently connected by a rainbow.

Monday, February 3, 2014


The community is bereft and on its knees.  Two young fishermen, brothers, have been missing since Saturday, February 1.  I have been around when other fishermen have gone missing, but this is especially poignant as they were young, popular, from a well known fishing family.  Their sister runs a bar just opposite the fish market, their mother is also a local shop owner.  Their father is a respected fisherman.

Nothing has been seen.   The coast guard, the helicopters, the other fishermen, even sailors on their yachts have searched and are continuing to search, but not a trace.  It is said that they went out to place a FAD so they had a very heavy load on board.  The wind was high.  The speculation is that when they tried to throw the heavy load overboard they capsized and sank.  If the boat went adrift it would have been seen or washed up by now. 

Sono is out there with them and will look after them.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Message From Sono

January 18, 2014

Well Sono, we got your message.

I am staying with my friend Kathleen.  This afternoon I was upstairs in the shower, she was downstairs in the kitchen.  The radio was on.  Suddenly she ran upstairs calling to me, “Come immediately, Sono just sent me to get you.  He is sending you this song.”  I ran down stairs and it was Rita Coolidge singing Close the Window, Calm the Lights

Here are the words Sono sent to me this afternoon.

Outside the rain begins and it may never end
So cry no more on the shore
A dream will take us out to sea
Forever more forever more
Close your eyes and dream
And and you can be with me
'Neath the waves through the caves of hours
Long forgotten now
We're all alone
We're all alone

Close the window
Calm the light
And it will be alright
No need to bother now
Let it out
Let it all begin
Learn how to pretend

Once a story's told
It can't help but grow old
Roses do
Lovers too
So cast your seasons to the wind
And hold me dear
Oh, hold me dear

Close the window
Calm the light
And it will be alright
No need to bother now
Let it out
Let it all begin
All's forgotten now
We're all alone
oh-oh, we're all alone

Close the window
Calm the light
And it will be alright
No need to bother now
Let it out

Let it all begin
Owe it to the wind, my love

hear Rita sing it on You Tube.
Boz Scaggs also gives a moving rendition

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Today, as I walked by Glanvillia Bay, the fishermen were just coming in.  I burst into tears and embarrassed everyone...including Sono, no doubt!


Lambert "Sono" Emanuel
January 1, 1954    January 8, 2014

We buried Sono today, January 15, 2014,  under a brilliant double rainbow with the parrots flying overhead.  “For true” as they say in Dominica.  He was buried in the public cemetery, in a field of lemon grass in bloom, on a hill surrounded by his beloved mountains.  His son and brothers and neighbours carried his coffin to the grave.  I stood with his daughters while they lowered his body and shoveled in the red Dominican clay soil to cover it.  He is gone from us now.

Who is going to tease us and call us names? Who is going to say “Stop dat” and "Foolish"? Who is going to fry fish for me?  Who is going to play hide-and-seek with me in the middle of the night?  Who is going to sing reggae love songs to me? Who am I going to read to?  Who am I going to wait for at the Bay?

There was some confusion about which church the service was to be in, but it got straightened out and about 100+ friends and family gathered to celebrate Sono’s life.  Hymns were sung, prayers were said. He lay there through it all, in a shirt, tie and jacket – clothes he didn’t own and would NEVER wear in life.  The detested colour purple was everywhere.  There was no reggae music.  He would have hated the whole thing.

But he would have loved the turn out.  The people who knew the sea as he did came, the people who knew the soil as he did were there, the people who lived through difficult times with him and his children were there, and childhood friends were there.  His brothers and sisters, some of whom came from other islands, were all there.  His children were there. He would have been so proud to see my women friends there, both as a tribute to him and as a support for me.

Guyva, Marian, Lynthia

Sono's sunset

Friday, January 10, 2014

Lambert "Sono" Emanuel

I was on the Glanvillia Beach, looking out over the Caribbean Sea, in my usual quandary, when a tall, handsome, vibrant man suddenly appeared at my back.  Without a word, he picked up a piece of turquoise blue beach glass and handed it to me.  His presence had an instant impact and I immediately felt safe.  Later he told me that 2 weeks prior to this he had dreamt that he saw a mermaid with silver scales on Glanvillia Beach.  This was the start of a relationship that was intense and powerful. Sono and I had 5 filled, wonderful years together. 

Sono was born in the Portsmouth area on January 1, 1954.  He proudly says he was the first baby born in Dominica on that date at the crack of midnight!  He grew up in Portsmouth, Lagoon and Clifton and spent some years in Roseau where he made and sold “sweeties” (candy). He spoke Patois, Creole and French fluently. He was a shipwright, a fisherman, a man of all trades, but foremost a sailor.  He was 13 when he built his first boat and went on to build many more, some of which are still in use. He was one of the young men who revolted against the infamous Dread Act and fled into the bush, and survived the ensuing persecution.  This is a period he would never talk about.  He owns a wooden house in Glanvillia where he raised two of his children as a proud single father.  He was an active member of the St. John’s Fisherfolk Cooperative.

Sono was a talker with a quick and easy wit.  He could tell a good story and he would joke at every chance - as do most Dominicans I have found.  Even on his bed of pain and misery in the hospital he would tease the nurses.  How I used to love listening to him and his friends recount elaborate and embellished tales of their adventures at sea, replete with actions!   He was kind and overly generous to the underdog.  He had an amazing memory. Now that he is gone much history has gone with him.  He could recount the genealogy of any Dominican.  I often derided him about his accounts of who’s who, but it always turned out to be correct. He had a special bond with very young children and animals and a deep respect for the old people.  He was quick to anger, loud, not a man to cross, proud and impatient and stubborn, but  for all his ‘ways’ and for all his foibles, he was a good kind, loving man.

Although a man of the sea he was connected, in that unique Dominican way, to the land.  He knew every plant, its medicinal use and where to find it. He knew every creature, every lizard, and every insect.  He literally could call the birds out of the trees. He was proud of being the sure footed ‘goat’, the Capricorn.  He named one of his boats “Capri.”

He practiced his guitar regularly and loved roots reggae.  He knew them all and had a good collection.

He also had a side that went unappreciated.  Under the quips lay a thinking, reflective man.  Clearly he had struggled with the existential questions we all deal with and had come to his own conclusions.  He mostly kept them to himself.  He lived them, he didn't talk about them.  They became integrated into his being.  As well,  other dimensions to what we know and see and believe to be obvious were a natural part of his day to day life and activities.  He was in contact with the Creator, in whom he had an abiding belief. 

On July 25, 2013, on his way to the airport to pick me up he had a catastrophic car accident.  His neck was broken, C4, C5, C6 were fractured.  He died on January 8, 2014 not only as a result of this accident but also as a result of the appalling lack of medical care and services, and ignorance.

Sono and Marian at Red Rocks Beach