Praise me neutrally or inanimately … nah. Give it to me real!

Perhaps it is the Caribbean in me or more precisely the Barbados in me, but when someone publicly hails me up as beautiful, I smile a ‘thank you”. Here, in my region, we don’t seek a thigh gap to be beautiful; our role models of beauty are not yet prescribed by a man-made industry but are varied. The determination of beauty is very much in the eyes of the beholder.

So why should I be offended by such a comment focusing on physical beauty?  It seems that in the United States, this is a source of annoyance. Yet that is a country where the fashion and movie industries push beauty in a sea of reckless materialism. Are their comments the manifestation of an effort to pull back one side by unwittingly decimating it? An all out tug-a-war of two sides, is it?

On two recent occasions, United States President Barack Obama was ridiculed for referring to feminine beauty, both times, intelligence and beauty were part of his comment,  directly or implied. When the President said California Attorney General Kamala Harris happed to be the best-looking AG ever, an avalanche of verbal spears flew in the same way they did when he said his daughter had grown into” strong, smart, beautiful young women.”

I asked myself: was the outcry encouraged by those who cannot subtly or directly stomach black beauty and black intelligence. Is it a fear thing? No, they say it is a feminist thing. Then why are these women wearing make-up and why are they not merely going to the store and taking an outfit based only on size and price?

How can calling a woman beautiful subtract from her intelligence? Aren’t the two mutually exclusive? Why should a black woman’s beauty be muffled or muzzled?

I imagine their perfect world, where (even in bed ) the only compliments will be ‘you have a sharp brain’ . Ouch, that would be degrading, a touch too close to the physical. You’d have to give her /him a side look. Nah, that would parallel flirting and be condemned as sexual harassment.

I suspect that only acceptable comments would be: ‘that project or paper or garden bed etc. was well done.” Let’s get on with the inanimate praising.

Why concern myself about the US behaviour, I’ve asked myself.  I do so because in this era where digital communications facilitates cultural penetration at a higher speed than previously, this template of neutralism would soon be transmitted into Caribbean Community cultural.

I love that we can say: “he is so sexy and so bright” (if we believe it) and men can say “you go it” whether they mean beauty, brains, a winning personality or whatever appeals to their fancy. But in the US, keep your mouth close, don’t look, walk with eyes in the air and if in bed, do only a body jump.

I am stumped here, so I’m asking just to be politically correct with my US friends, can I say to a parent, your baby is cute? Or is the correct compliment in this genre: “he’s talking, that brain is developing”?

Coming out with all … powered by social media

Someone I knew came out. Nothing new but she is an ordinary person and I always associated ‘coming out’ with celebrities so her public declaration surprised me. In fact, I never understood coming out.

“Was I still inside, I asked my buddy who snapped that I was insensitive to gays. Honestly, I was provoking him into discussing the issue, to help me figure out why make the announcement.  Was it necessary?

“To have to come out suggested that you are different,” I say, ‘in any case is coming out only for gays?”

“It means you were keeping a part of your life private and is now making it public,” he replies.

“Why,” I ask.

“Are you a child that you have all these whys,” he answers and returns to his reading leaving me to ponder.

I’ve always thought that gay people and everyone else should follow his or her sexual orientation in choosing a partner and introduce that person to the important people in their life. So I never understood ‘coming out’ apart from the cases of celebrities, into whose lives outsiders feel they have a right to poke.  After all the speculation, a celebrity is likely to say ‘this is the story, takes it and leave me alone’.

I argue with myself that all relationships are kept private during the delicate early period and when you reach the couple stage, you allow it to become open. Some people you seek out to make an introduction, like your best friends or parents; others find out naturally. You don’t deny it, you admit it with pride.

Is that coming out, I ask myself. I instantly think I am wrong because ‘coming out’ suggest a public announcement.

Then I thought once more about this ordinary young mother posting her female lover on Facebook and proclaiming “me and my boo” to the world wide web of people.

Perhaps her reason is the same as that of the celebrities: “let the people talk and get over with it.” The avalanche of criticisms, congratulations, that peak of gossip/discussion will soon decline to a few whispers and then silence. Why walk slowly up the hill of gossip and hidden partnership when you can race to peak and head for normalcy?

I recalled a manager who announced to a staff meeting that his marriage was over. Two months later, it came up during a discussion on invitations for a staff function and it was discovered that workers who were absent from that staff meeting did not know of the separation.  The news had lost its gossip value so quickly that in an office known for rumour mongering, the otherwise juicy bit of information was squeezed dry by the announcement and did not spread outside the meeting.

So the manager came out. Is there a life lesson here for all of us, I asked myself?  Apart from our sexual orientation, we keep some ‘personal matters’ private while the public speculate, should we ‘come out’?

Pregnancy was one of these private matters, years ago. In the Caribbean, you would tell your inner circle that you are pregnant; the others found out naturally as your body grew. Now everyone is coming out with their pregnancy’ check the scans of the four week old blip. I know of the start, finish and mid-streams of many love relationships; I know where everyone is going or went; what they cook and if they got drunk or had a spliff.

Thanks to Facebook and other social media tools we are coming out with everything. We seem to have a desire to bury privacy and expose our every step to the world. Is that why my ordinary friend came out? Was it that necessary? Was the natural road too hard to follow? Is it a fad; a mimicking of celebrities? I am still trying to understand.

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.

Letting Go

From 20 feet away, I saw her looking out her front window, as usual, with folded arms resting on the sill and cradling her head.

I exhaled. Ella was asleep, so I moved stealthily. Good morning“, I heard as soon as I was within her line of vision.

“Good morning Miss Ella,” I replied muttering under my breath, “you have inbuilt motion sensors?”

“What?” she asked.

“I was saying, ‘everyone is fine at home, thank you.” I’d planned to add that to my greeting since she normally asked about my family and while I was replying, she would search for another topic to lengthen our conversation.

I quickened my pace hoping to be out of earshot before her 89-year old brain could react but she was fast.

“Not going to church this morning? I will tell the priest you are off to do the devil’s business,” she chuckled.

“No service this morning,” I replied. Time was ticking on my full schedule while her only chore was trapping passers-by into long conversations but I couldn’t ignore a lonely old lady dressed in her Sunday best on Tuesday.

“Senility isn’t wrecking my brain; it’s loneliness,” she said “old age is a bitch. Eat, drink, look out this window; that’s who I’ve become. No one to chat with, unless someone like you pass by and spare a minute with an old bird.”

My head dropped in shame. I left an hour later, my soul at peace but my schedule wrecked and my heart broken from looking deep inside old age.

She’d spoken with pride about being able, as a single mother, to pay her children’s fare so they could migrate to jobs in London during the 1950’s. They send me money now but I need to feel loved, she’d said, her eyes filled with tears.

“Was I right to let them go? ”

P.S. I wrote this partially true story for the trifecta which challenged writers to produce a story of between 33 and 333 words using the word ‘bitch’ defined as “something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant”. 

Should I have cut my story at three paragraphs before the end and add more words conveying feeling earlier? Or would that be over done? Please tell me?

Acting out “War on the earth” for Xmas … Peace on earth, why?


Christmas reaps havoc on the earth “Peace on earth, goodwill to men?   Stupse!!

As we mad-scramble through shops grabbing the latest gadgets to wrap as gifts; decorations to Yuletide-enhanced our homes or as we  rush through supermarkets with carts overloaded with food, do we remember, Peace on earth or goodwill to men?
Hold the  ‘Peace-on-earth’ part in your mind while visualising the increase in garbage that Christmas behaviour brings.  Don’t counting the garbage that comes from the cleaning up of surroundings that people do at this time of the year. I am speaking about the packaging that engulfs the items we buy; the plastic Christmas trees, the live trees cut down and later burnt and so on.
In other words, I am speaking about the long list of environmentally unfriendly things that we have to dispose of as a result of our Christmas celebrations.  Our Christmas behaviour does a lot of damage to the environment; it is a big problem in our small Caribbean countries where we are battling with landfill and other sanitation related challenges. So my advice to the environment is beware, instead of “peace on earth,” it is “war on the earth” season.

If you add the “goodwill to men” phrase to the peace on earth, what is the result?  Our Christmas behaviour is incongruent to the message of Christmas.


Check out the aggressive behaviour of shoppers, snatching shopping carts and later ‘must-have’ toys from each other; shoving through shops aisles in a race to reach the cashier, first. Then they burst out of the doors and drop a few dollars penitently in the Salvation Army kettle. Is that for absolution or is it the biblical pieces of silver?
The answer lies in their action on the way home; blaring horns at drivers that tarry a second at the change to a green traffic light and cussing pedestrians, including the elderly and children that walk ‘too slowly’ on the zebra crossing.  In the Caribbean, it is “why the F&@K you can’t stand home?” or “ why de R&@S H$%$ you din left home dem children?   Enough say!!

Is  peace on earth a ‘no no’… in this world of unceasing war ? 75px-PeaceOnEarthFilmWe have war zones like the Middle East and here in our Caribbean, there have been so many homicides that a United Nation’s official labelled the region as one of the most world’s most violent; high level of domestic violence in our homes, too depressing!  In history lessons we read about cease fires at Christmas during war with soldiers playing friendly football against each other; that IS history.

I am leaving you to think about Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Man”, this Christmas. That it is in the Bible and you are not Christian is insignificant; if you are celebrating Christmas, don’t you think you  should understand its message? Sorry, you may be celebrating Xmas or following the crowd, but consider giving yourself the think gift.

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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Halved by blood, divided by water

A stab of jealousy penetrated my heart as I noticed how securely my dad held their hands; Mary’s right, John’s left. How complete a family they were, a lonely sick feeling boiled in my stomach. That was 30 years ago.

This morning, as I looked at that photo, my feelings of disconnect returned with as much strength as they did the first time I saw it. Excitedly, I had torn open the envelope with my Dad’s familiar scrawl hoping to find a plane ticket, so I could join him in Britain, but instead found that picture.

I stared expectantly at their faces. I didn’t understand why. Now, I know why. Pictures always meant a lot to me, I believed if you have your picture taken to send to a love one, the depth of that love will bounce off the photo. I know now that was the reason why my eyes shifted frantically from face to face as I held that photo in my hands, 30 years ago. I was searching for the key which would unlock an intimacy between us, though we were miles apart, separated by an ocean.

My heart yearned to feel a connection which I believed would radiate from their body language. I longed to capture a spark of the closeness, which my school friends’ stories led me to think existed between siblings. But that did not bounce off the photo.

What I read from my sister and brother’s expression was childhood boredom and the fight to stay still as they posed with our dad. Perhaps my stepmother was trying in vain to get them to say ‘cheese’, but why did she not ask someone to use the camera so she could be included? Was it because she did not see me as a factor in her life? If she wanted to remain so faceless, so absent from the photo, it meant she did not want me present in their family.

I felt left out and my 13-year-old brain told me if only I could join them in England, then I would prove to be a true sister. But my grandmother said that was impossible; that I would never be thought of as a real sister in England; that people like me who shared only one parent with another person is called a half. Half-brother or half-sister!

“It isn’t like Barbados,” she said, “when everyone is whole; blood is blood. We don’t measure blood but people in big countries, do. Mary and John will call you half-sister.”

That night, I sobbed uncontrollably. I knew I would never be whole.

Like many other young adults of the 1960s, my parents had left Barbados seeking a better life in England. My mum went away when I was two; that was the year after my father left to join the London Transport. She hoped to rekindle their relationship and promised to send for me so we could be a real family. That did not happen and eleven years later I was still living in the Caribbean with my grandmother and had discovered that I would always be a half-sister.

Half in Surrey, where my mum had a new daughter and husband; half in Birmingham, where my dad had two new children and wife. That night, I sobbed uncontrollably, repeating: “Half in Surrey, half in Birmingham; half in Surrey, half in Birmingham.”

Half Siblings

Half Siblings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I vowed then never to look at other picture of my half-families or to be the first to open a letter with an English stamp especially if it carried my father’s tell-tale scrawl or my mother’s cursive writing. From that day, my grandmother opened my letters, removed and kept all the photographs and gave me the dry notes to read. I didn’t know she had stored them in my granddad’s old trunk which she kept next to her bed and which was never opened after she passed away about ten years ago.
Today, I was forced to open the trunk. Wood ants had attacked it viciously and I was salvaging mementoes from its contents when I came across an album filled with pictures chronicling the lives of my two half-families. I thought about burning it, erasing them forever. We were no longer in touch since my grandmother’s death their letters had remained unopened and unanswered, eventually the letters no longer came.

Perhaps, I had a hidden desire for a cathartic experience, so I compelled myself to look at the photographs. Immediately I was transported back to that 13 year-old who had bragged to her school friends that her dad or mum would send for her in England only to realise she was a half no matter which family took her. The pain of that discovery was too much to bear, even for a 43-year-old.

I closed the album but as I about to drop it into the bin, the picture of Dad, John and Mary fell out. Again, I stared at their faces, my sister and brother looked afraid of the sun and of my dad, a stiff military-looking character. I saw no active love between them. If it was hidden in their bosoms, it was not reflecting like the love my grandmother and I shared and was so unafraid and unashamed to show the world. If we were the subject of that photo, we would have been hugging, I thought. She would have bent down so her face could be close to mine or she would have sat on the wall with me on her lap.

A bright warm neighbourhood in Barbados

Suddenly I didn’t envy them and for the first time, I dared to look beyond their faces. I saw the ‘brown-ness’ of their surroundings. Outside looked drab and uninviting, I could not imagine a childhood here. It would mean saying ‘goodbye’ to my neighbourhood with its brightly coloured chattel houses, trees, and nearby seaside. I would miss the adults whom we all called ‘aunty, grand, mum dad, pap, brother…’ for we lived as one family; blood or no blood. I was lucky that I didn’t have to trade the warmth of Barbados for the cold of England.
Why did I envy John and Mary when my life was filled with brightness, adventure and love? Why did I not see that I was whole, mended by my grandmother’s sure and lasting love and an embracing neighbourhood?
I put that picture to rest and started to write letters, one each to my two families.

Squarely overworked & overused

“Picture-square?  Pic-ture-squ-are?”  He dragged out the word.

“I can’t believe it!” he added. I was dumbstruck.

Holding a photo aloft, he cried: “Look at this; you surely can’t miss the vibrant colours, the sharp reds, browns and oranges that spell the variety that mark the clay soils of the Scotland District?”  He moved his head slowly from side to side, sighing at measured intervals, and suddenly exclaimed, “This is it; this is it!”

The ‘it’ was a close-up photo of one of the fruit laden trees that grew along the District. A yellow-breasted robin sucking on a large fully ripen orange-red mango brought alive the photo.

“Check out, that rich juice running down this mango and escaping that bird, I can taste and smell the sweetness of the fruit, by just looking at it?

“Can’t you? Then why do you describe my scenes as picture-square, every week. My photos are graphic in their story-telling and they aren’t even square.” he exploded in belly shaking laughter at his own lame joke.

I was relieved.  My confusion over ‘picture-square’ was cleared and the tirade ended but the lessons remain today. I, a junior reporter then, had failed to complement his pictoral portrayal of Barbados’ countryside with energetic writing. Instead I had opted for laziness, for overworking words and phrases.

My colleague died many years ago, but thinking of him now, reminds me of his speeches about cliché behaviour. Any overused activity or notion was enough for him to reach for a soapbox.  I recall him speaking to me about the Barbadian view that workmates often pay you tearful tributes at your funeral but almost immediately afterwards, wipe you from their memories. That is a myth, he said.  I know because I remember Charlie, sometimes when I see a large dog, for these animals starred in his life; and when writing an article, that demands painting a scene with my words, his playful chiding comes into sharp focus.

As I recall that day, I note too that stereotyping is clique-ish at the core. It is a sign of laziness that we do not seek an adequate knowledge of someone, but rather blanket him/her under standardized group and expect him to behaviour in a prescribed manner. Thus we say: he lives in  ‘x’ neighbourhood therefore he is involved in crime or will be involved in crime; she is from a certain race, so she is a lady.

Nothing is wrong with using well-placed cliches, or regular phrases, but it takes skill to do so with impact.

I have pet phrases though, like telling people that “I will not peep under myself” when they urge me to do something I consider as second guessing myself.  I feel no other words can snap the images I want to send, with the precision that this phrase does.  In any case, my pet phrases are part of my informal signature that also vividly conveys my feelings to my friends.  However, I will not be tempted to say these expressions are also picturesque; I am fighting my addiction with that word.