Mouthing off over a big hole

“US$25.6 million?  To redo Harrison’s Cave? That money should go to developing projects to ease poverty; like building factory shells to attract investors and bring jobs, unemployment over 10 per cent.”

“Maude, hush, the cave attracts tourists and bring in money to spend on all those things.”

“Tourists, what?   First, you have to spend money encouraging them here. Things tight in the big countries too, so you have to give them discounted holidays. Before we recoup that repair bill, we will have to repair again.”

“Girl, you ain’t no economist or financial analyst, you didn’t even go to college. You think our Prime Minister’s stupid; we’re getting tourist dollars including entry fees to the cave. They buy from souvenirs from the shop that covers the cave’s mouth, too.”

“Spend money? Not these tourists nowadays. I don’t have letters after my name but as a hotel maid, I know what’s going on upfront before the analysts. They look at the picture afterwards as figures; I talk to tourists as people. Visitors ain’t spending, they aren’t even buying a postcard not when it is cheaper to take pictures as souvenirs; they don’t have to buy or develop film no more. Souvenirs? Most of the trinkets at that shop are marked “Made in China.”

“Maude, you’re behaving like an opposition politician, and they aren’t so negative about this.”

“Only Saying, the tourists don’t buy a lot from us … they’re into circulating their own money. We buy food and everything else from their countries so they can get what is familiar when they get here. Tourism is the reason we import 75 per cent of what we use in this country.”

“So if you’re against tourism, why you don’t find another job?”

“I’m speaking facts, I’m not against them. I’m saying a developing country CAN’T AFFORD TO spend thousands for tourists to go down a glorified hole to see the earth’s guts.”

(Postscript: This was written for Trifecta competition which asked bloggers to produce a post including the word ‘mouth’  defined  as:

3: something that resembles a mouth especially in affording entrance or exit: as

Related articles:

How Long To Pay Back $51 Million Barbados “Investment” In Harrison’s Cave?

Harrison’s Cave Reopens ( Barbados Government Information Service)

Tribute to Doverock: another Moses in the ultimate Promised Land.

Today Daily Prompt says: write your own eulogy. Here is mine.

Eulogy to Doverock

Good morning mourners, I am getting more ‘Goodbyes’ today than I’ve ever had”hellos”. That speaks volumes to the networks of my friends whom, I  believe, most of you are here to support.

My non-cyber space friends were few, three to be exact. I hid behind my computer, an anti-social blogger, writing posts hoping to cheer up the world, to make the world think and to make the world act. At times, I sought to educate or integrate; other times, I aimed to entertain or simply agitate.

My soul mate Caribbeanmarvel, often described me as an enigma; someone antisocial yet pro-social and expansive. But I did not see myself in descriptive terms. I was not an adjective rather I was a Caribbean woman on a mission, a modern day Moses leading thousands of followers  along the virtual timeless, borderless communication route towards the promised global village but unlike the Biblical Moses, my followers were not of one race or from one place.

English: Moses Sees the Promised Land from Afa...

English: Moses Sees the Promised Land from Afar, as in Numbers 27:12, by James Tissot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I attracted and sought after people from all classes, nationalities, cultures, races, creed and sexual orientation. With my blog as my staff, this modern day Moses shared perspectives among my diverse group of followers, parting the sea of ignorance, freeing those enslaved by discrimination and ridding the world of pockets of bigotry.

I was not always liked or respected. Some people sampled my offerings and left without a comment not even to briefly acknowledge that they’d liked  or dislike what I had provided. Caribbeanmarvel, the describer, was always calling me a tenacious character; and would remark on my ability not to be thrown off by a man or woman’s fickle behaviour or disagreements over my ideas and methods.

Let me give you an example. Once I took a break, to read and research, so I could be better at my task but some people found a replacement. They said they had another hero. They went on to like someone else, in fact to worship someone who was freshly pressed, she was gold minted. But I forgave them and welcomed them back.

A friend said to me, “You are a sucker for punishment; and to think you are not paid for this job. All bloggers are egomaniacs, though and you are the chief among them.”

So mourners, this journey of blogging to a better tomorrow is a hard one with no thanks. I believed that by getting to know each other through blogs and other social media, we will lead others to the promised land of a globalised world, where mankind equitably share all the earth’s fruits.

I have gone to another place, but I hope you will draw from my experiences. To help you, I’ve summarised ten simple rules that helped me. Store them on your iPad, or any tablet of your choice.

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

  1. Remember that as a blogger you are both a follower and a leader. No other positions are more important than these.
  2. Do not believe that your opinions are supreme. No one has all the answers, no one is always right.
  3. Do not misuse anyone’s intellectual property.
  4. Take time off from your blog- to read, research and explore.
  5. Honour fellow-bloggers and visitors to your site. Reply to their comments and say ‘thank you’. By doing so, others will respect you and your days as a blogger will be rewarded.
  6. Be honest in your criticisms though sensitive enough not to kill another blogger’s spirit.
  7. Be faithful to those who you follow and your followers. Visit their blogs, comment on their posts. Don’t ignore them for months while you enjoy yourself with other bloggers. Provide good quality, well edited posts for your followers.
  8. Do not steal other people’s posts; re-blog, if permitted.
  9. Do not purposely misquote numbers, facts, and figures.
  10. Do not covet your fellow blogger’s freshly pressed award; his or her trifecta winner’s logo or any other blog challenge trophy ; his or her sense of humour or turn of phrase.

Your beloved departed is resting in peace and will rise in glory, Amen!

P.S. written for Daily Prompt: Dearly Departed.

Self-plotted – Number 2

Diana drifted into consciousness to find George frenetically fanning her and mumbling the “Lord’s Prayer.” He was not a church goer and this was the only appeal to God, he knew.

Alternately, he’d passed a vial of smelling salts under her nose. She hated smelling salts but he felt it was exceptional at reviving people who’d fainted.

Realising she was alert, George raised his index finger to his lips  said, ‘I know’  and strolled towards the music room.

Soon the notes from the piano filled the house – harsh and violent. He was escaping, as usual. She’d married to a stranger who communicated through things.

(P.S. Remember I said I wanted to see if I have a creative writing cell within me. To do so, I am answering a challenge to write a 100 -word piece that contains, “the notes from the piano” and adding it to my earlier piece of “self-Plotted”. Tell me how you think I am doing. Criticise me, laugh at or with me but please tell me your reaction. I am listening! Thanks!)

Paperless office … Ha, ha! Gotcha traitor.

Angela Aspen was willing to sacrifice her life.

“Take me instead of Princely Pine, I am softwood too,” she begged but the man in the big boots – aka Mr. Tablet Logger- consulted his handheld computer  and placed an orange neon sticker on Princely’s trunk.

What could she do? She had grown very fond of Princely. They did not share DNA nor did she have papers formalising their relationship but Princely was as much her offspring as if he had grown out of her roots like one of her many clones. She and he were joined by their hearts which were now being ripped apart by Princely’s imminent dislodgement from his spot a few feet away from the edge of her canopy which was his home all his life.

“Human beings seldom fulfil their promises, except those that lead to destruction of lives by war or by wreaking the ecosystem,” Angela Aspen cried.

Judas Hangs Himself

Judas Hangs Himself (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She was inconsolable. Her leaves, renowned for fluttering and trembling ever since Judas Iscariot hanged himself from one of her foreparents, were now quaking out of control.

Panicky and in pain!

She had given Princely hope every time Mr. Tablet Logger passed their way. Countless times, she reassuringly told the pine that he was young and by the time he was matured enough to go to the pulp mills, the humans would have long fulfilled their promise, thanks to digital technology.

Her thoughts drifted back to the day of the promise, about three decades ago when as a sapling she felt the growing excitement and hopefulness that was sweeping through the tree farm. She knew very important news was being shared because all the trees from every family in Tucky Timberlands- the Oaks, Birches, Spruces, Pines, Firs, Larches and Hemlocks – no matter their heights or flexibility were bending sequentially to each other like sports fans doing the Mexican wave.

Angela had heard about the wave from the gigantic elders who could see into the stadium, a few miles away. They had seen jubilant soccer and cricket fans celebrating in that fashion and had practised the motion. Afterwards whenever the wind blew strong, the whole of Tucky Timberlands ‘Mexican waved’ in celebration of any event that suited their fancy, for example the change of a season or the achievement of a goal by a tree or animal.

That day in question, they were Mexican waving, unaided by wind but spurred on by a desire to spread gripping news. She wondered what could be so important.

Eventually the news wave reached Angela. She learned that the only friendly and trustworthy human beings they all knew, the nature lovers, had been talking about a new development that would lead to a paperless office. The environmentalists, who were camping in the woods, said the development was causing much talk and their peers were joining leading business and financial experts to debate the implications that night on Radio 640.1.

Bob Braden plots the future of the paperless o...

On the dot of 9:00 p.m. when the campers turned on their battery-powered radio, every tree leaned in to get the facts first-hand and they cheered at the prediction that a paperless office was only a few years away. This, they heard, would be accompanied by recycling programmes worldwide that would see used paper transformed into usable materials.

The woods erupted in thunderous applause; branches and leaves snapped, breaking away from their hosts in glee. Everyone felt suddenly free; all the other plants and all creatures in the woods resorted to their primal sounds of merriment as they joined the tumultuous rejoicing. So loud was the noise that people in the nearby towns and villages called the meteorological office asking whether a typhoon was in progress.  The humans did not address him but Bullish Birch proffered an apt reply: “Fewer trees will be destroyed, the ecosystem MUST rejoice.”

But today, sapling Angela Aspen had grown into  “Disappointed tree” Angela Aspen and yet again she was mourning loss. She bowed her top so low that like Judas she kissed the clones that look up from her roots.  It was an accidental kiss of betrayal that happened because she was so ashamed to have believed mankind’s promises. She had only done so because the environmentalists were so positive about the outcome of man’s technological inventions.

Now she wanted to give up. She had grown weary of gaining and losing companions. Oh, how she had betrayed Princely Pine and all the trees that looked up to her for advice and hope. She cried out loudly, her voice echoing in the distant: “Take me! Take me! I have gained Judas’ character, I have caught his virus.”

But the logger with the big boots and tablet ignored her pleas. He moved on to chat with a worker in green overalls who displayed the company’s logo proudly on his left breast.

Princely saw Angela’s pain and opened his branches to form a specially conduit.  Normally when the wind filtered this special intertwining of branches, a cheerful tune would fill the woods and Angela would chuckle loudly and dance. But Princely’s unhappiness was so great that his branches responded lethargically and the song that escaped was a haunting dirge. More tears slid down Angela’s bark creating a pool of loneliness, desolation and hopelessness  that covered many of her clones.

The willowy aspen was almost friendless. Over the years, saplings were planted or they sprung up; they matured, were felled and carted off to become paper, lumber or fuels. But she remained to produce clones for Tucky Timberlands. Some said she was lucky but she felt she was a Judas and today underlined the fact that she was a helpless traitor like him.

The situation was hopeless for all trees in the farm, Angel thought.  She had reached that conclusion, a few days ago when a strong wind swayed her head so she got a peek into Tucky Timberlands’ office.

It was cluttered. Several stacks of paper documents were piled high on desks. There were also scores of files filled with paper receipts, bills and contracts as well as lots of containers of pencils and pens. The volume of paper bothered her most.  She had seen more paper in that one five-second peek than she had seen in the same office many years ago when she lived next door in the  nursery as a seedling.

In addition, the aspen had overheard a nature lover lamenting that nowadays every house had a computer and printer and householders were always printing something. He had added that every person who could write a sentence was calling him or herself an author and the number of self-published books was growing exponentially. Thanks to the same technology that was the promised route to  ‘paperlessness’.

So Angela knew the inevitable was happening. Her days with Princely Pine were ending. She thought about falling on Mr Tablet-Logger, as his punishment for sending Princely to the pulp mills. The logger was no match for her; she could take him down any time.

Aspens in Autumn, Elk Mountain Ranch, COAs she considered her next move, Angela saw Mr. Tablet Logger looking intently at his computer.  “They will need fewer workers, soon,” he said.

“It says here that ‘Google and a group of other  companies are encouraging users to help the environment  while saving  time and money this year by adopting a New Year’s resolution to go  paperless’.  The Paperless Coalition, which also includes partners HelloFax, Manilla,  HelloSign, Expensify, Xero, and Fujitsu ScanSnap,  is asking users to sign an  electronic pledge to go paperless in 2013,  and invite others to do the same.”

“I know this will mean fewer of us. Demand is going to drop more than in the 2009 recession when newspaper sales fell and things looked shaky for the industry here. Fujitsu is also bringing out the latest version of their ScanSnap line. Say it will bring the paperless office closer to reality.   Fewer workers, layoffs  … ” Mr. Tablet Logger grumbled unhappily.

He looked grim and afraid, so Angela roared with laughter as she imagined him getting his comeuppance. She was so excited that she didn’t hear his companion, Tory retort: “Yes? Heard that before!”

Here it says that ‘before encouraging people to go paperless, and particularly inferring that electronic services are better for the environment, Google and others need to examine their own impacts and perhaps might reflect that, on balance, print and paper can be a sustainable way to communicate’,” Tory countered.

“It is big business against big business, you think they will ever be a paperless office?  No, not unless trees get up and form they own multinational corporations.” He put his iPhone into his back pocket and walked towards Princely armed with a chain saw.

(P.S. Hi readers… here is my attempt at writing fiction. It was motivated by the paperless announcement. Tell me what you think. Criticism will help me grow. I am listening.)

Why sweeten the sweet?

A pedestrian walks along a remote road lined w...

A pedestrian walks along a remote road lined with sugar cane. Saint Philip, Barbados. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dark, I had to talk to you. It is about this sugar thing, I don’t mean diabetes but brown sugar, de type my daddy used to boil down at Three Houses factory; de type dat you tell me my great grandfather, Judge Maynard used to help mek by stoking fire at Three Houses. Every way I go I finding muff, muff sugar.

It is like Bajans recognise that sugar is no longer king here and they want to restore it back to prominence. Or perhaps they heard the Minister of Agriculture say that we are not selling anymore sugar to Europe but will use our production for local consumption, so out of patritoism they feel they have to consume all in one mouthful.

But Dark, they misunderstand the Minister because it isn’t like Barbados has lots of choices. It is costing us more to produce one tonne of sugar than the price the international market is willing to pay but the Europeans were doing us a favour. They know they exploited their former colonies excessively, so they owe us, and were buying our sugar expensive when they could get it elsewhere at a cheap price.

Anyway, the rest of countries quarrel and threaten them so the Europeans agree that they will soon be paying us whatever pittance is the going rate on the world market. But that is another story and yes, I was ‘peeping under myself’ I should’ve said the Agriculture Minister played a public relations trick on Barbadians but it is general elections time so I am holding those thoughts close to my chest. I will tell you about our sugar policy in another post, but I want to tell you about misusing sugar, now.

Dark, I know you will say it serves me right because by example and by word you taught me not to buy already cooked food but I was supporting a cause, so I bought two stew dumplings and you know how I love them. I ate one; a single one.

Dark, it gave a belly ache out of this world; I was rolling up on the ground, crying long water out my eyes. Rashidi took pity and gave me a dose of black pepper in hot water but I was bawling so he handed me some peppermint essence to wash down the black pepper tea and then he went outside searching for gully root to boil so I could get lasting relief.

Those stew dumplings were really conkies because they contained more sugar than corn; more sugar than pumpkin; more sugar than coconut. You know what else had my stomachin an uproar? I know this one will shock you so I will whisper.

“The fish cakes had in sugar. As God is my judge that is the truth!”

I will never lie to you about something so serious. It was tantamount to being sacrilegious. It was blasphemy in fishcake town, if ‘fishcakians’ petition the Director of Public Prosecutions to start a trial against the fishcake maker, I will testify.

I wanted to tell you about something else long ago but I know I was disappointing you so I zipped my mouth but I am confessing now. Earlier this year, I went from church fair to church fair and bought pudding and souse. Good thing, I don’t eat pudding stuffed in pig belly strands instead I choose the one cooked in a pie dish.

Nowadays, they washing the ‘pig guts’ with soap powder or blue soap; you used natural water, lime and salt or a tip of vinegar. Not these new fashioned folks! I saw them with the soap and my friend tasted the soapy flavour but I don’t eat strands so it is the sugar in the mixture that got me.

Today’s pudding sweet, sweet, like sugar cake and brown like chocolate; at every fair I attended that is the going flavour and look. Sweet and savour like Chinese food but I am a West Indian, I want all savour even if it contains lots of pepper. I threw away many dollars in pudding. Oh how,  I miss your cooking!

This sugar trend is a serious matter though, not only because of my wasted money but Barbados has many cases of diabetes.

Remember Joe Muggs, well his son, Donville is Minister of Health. You know Joe (for me, Mr. Inniss) is dead. You must know because you must have heard him over there by now, Joe don’t keep his mouth quiet. Donville is like Joe. Donville speaks his mind although being a politician will push him to bend the truth, but  like a loyal Philippian (from the parish of St. Philip), he speaks the truth generally, so I will let you read the Government Information Service story which quotes him.

While noting that the prevalence of diabetes in adults in Barbados stood at 16.4%, Trinidad and Tobago 12.7%, Jamaica 12.6% and Belize 12.4%, he (Donville) said, “Our region, and Barbados in particular, has the highest prevalence rate in the Americas.”

The Health Minister also gave some startling figures on the disease … pointing out that it was the third leading cause of blindness here; that major and minor lower limb amputations averaged almost 200 per year, with Barbados being regarded, over the years, as the amputation capital of world.

He added that 40% of persons on dialysis had some kind of diabetic-related kidney disease, and … the average length of stay for a diabetic patient at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was 17 days, whereas the overall average stay was 6 1/2 days.

So you see the situation is bad. Many organisations, including work places and churches have started health promotion campaigns;  Government too. The television station carried infomercials about living healthy including the merits of keeping fit and the dangers  of the high salt content in processed foods but not a word about sugar use.

We make it so like rum, we have to use it excessively; that seems to be the ethos.Bathsheba, St. Joseph

Sweet Barbados as shown by this scene at Bathsheba, St. Joseph. Compliments: JProject2k2 Production Presents

Barbados is sweet already, so why sweetened the sweet? Anyway, I will talk to you later, I am waiting to hear what everybody else has to say but your comment will reign supreme. Love ya, Dark, the real brown sugar.

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