My Takes

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Archive for the tag “St. Vincent”

Memories Of My Centenarian Granny

Note:  Last week, my grandmother hit another milestone.  She tied her own mother in terms of longevity.  I spoke to her for her birthday and she boasted that she is the eyes of her daughter, my aunt Ermine.  “I still does thread the needle my boy.” She related.  “I do the reading for Ermine too because her eyes not too good.”  To commemorate her birthday, I dug up this blog that I wrote when she turned 100.  Here’s hoping that Nenny lives to see many more birthdays in good health.  What a blessing!

Nenny, as my grandmother is affectionately called by her children, grandchildren and villagers alike, celebrates her 100th birthday today, June 22nd.  No one in the family is surprised.  After all, her mother, my great grandmother, lived to 103.  Up until the day that she died she was still gardening and tending to her bananas and other crops.   Nenny is healthy for the most part and walks about 3 miles to church every Sunday.

I have many treasured memories of Nenny as a kid.  Her story telling was legendary among her grandchildren.  No one could bring a story to life like Nenny and even though we requested them nightly, we would still get the chills and cower in fright as she told us a jumbie, (ghost) story about some dead person coming back to avenge their untimely death.  Our favorites were the stories told about a cunning spider called Brer Anancy who would tricked the other animals to get whatever he wanted.  They were appropriately called Nancy stories.  Every Caribbean kid fortunate enough to have a grandparent tell them these stories, loved them.  We never got tired of hearing how Brer Anancy tricked Brer fox.  Nenny would also share her growing up stories with us and we enjoyed sharing in her memories just as much as she obviously enjoyed sharing them.

Some nights, Nenny just wanted to sleep but us kids had other plans for her.  We would beg and beg until we finally learned how to trick her into telling us a story.  One of us would start re-telling one of her favorite stories and intentionally messed it up.   Nenny would get so annoyed at this that she would interrupt with ‘That not how it goes!” “It is!” We would reply. “How does it go then?” She would then correct us and before she realized it, would be deep into telling the story.  We would look at each other and smile conspiratorially.

Coupled with her penchant for telling stories and a hard worker, Nenny also possessed one of the most colorful vocabularies of anyone I know, complemented with a great set of lungs.  She could cuss  you out in any shade you prefer and it could be heard for miles.  (Apparently, this is something she inherited from her mom and maybe a secret ingredient to long life).  Her use of profanity was also well known and shyness was not one of her weaknesses.  Young, old, black, white, rich or poor, no one was exempted.  (The poor Governor). If one of us did something wrong, Nenny would verbally tear a strip off us, dropping F- bombs like it was Hiroshima all over again.   Even though she never hesitated to go ballistic on us, she would not tolerate anyone else taking the same  liberties. No way! Not her grand kids.  If Nenny called us idiots, don’t mistakenly think you could too.  Many learned that lesson the hard way.  Nenny never hesitated to put on her fighting gloves and go to war for us.

Nenny had her own quotes for everything. “Bwoy, ah way oil ah oil yo?” was often used when I was misbehaving. It simply meant, ‘Boy, what is the matter with you?’  “Play Play does bring belly” meant that too much playing could result in someone getting pregnant. “Leave me ah Jesus feet” was one she used to tell us to leave her alone.  “Yo ah a watch me like how Johnny ah watch town basket” was one I never quite figured out. I know Johnny but not exactly sure what a ‘Town Basket’ is.

I remember Nenny would accompany us to dances and fetes and wait outside until they were over then walk us home.   She would bring a flashlight to guide us through the pitch-black darkness of the 3 mile walk home.  We would never get embarrassed by her escort. Well except for this one time when my cousin took too long to leave the dance hall and Nenny asked the doorman to let her in and walked around the dance floor looking for my cousin.  She found her slow dancing and untangled her from her partner and escorted her outside.  That was Nenny.

In her 90’s, my grandmother detested clothing that made her look her age.  “Yo tink me old!” She would often say when we tried to dress her in age-appropriate clothing.  She wore high heels and dresses and enjoyed the comments from her fellow church goers on how young she looked in her stylish attire.  She would often comment, “Did you see sikkay bikkay ah wear de same frock like mine?”  (Sikkay Bikkay was her code for anyone whose name she didn’t want to say). Yes, but you wore it better, Nenny, even though she was more than half your age.

Nenny is the consummate matriarch of  the family.  She is like the queen on her throne. the family revolve around her. It’s a blessing when someone lives to see 100.  It’s an even bigger blessing that in my 40’s, I still have my grandmother alive and well.  Incidentally, both my grandmothers are alive.

Nenny, thanks for all the stories and memories.  We hope that you will stick around for a few more birthdays.  Today, you will be in the presence of the Governor General and other dignitaries so please use restrain.   As you would tell us when we talked too much, ‘Piece ah yo tongue war clip!’

Happy 100th Birthday Nenny!!  Say hi to Sikkay Bikkay for me.

Nenny, (left) and her daughter


Pass Me The Avocado With Coconut Oil and Don’t Forget The Oolong Tea

A few weeks ago while shopping at my local Costco, I overheard a woman asking a clerk for help in finding coconut oil. Nothing wrong with that but it made me think.  Not that long ago, when I first came to Canada from the Caribbean, the very word ‘coconut’ was an island thing, something the tourists sampled to take selfies showing they were indeed on vacation. No one outside of the islands knew much about it.  No one knew that growing up, coconut was a regular staple in every household.  The branches made excellent cricket bats, the dried husks were great for starting fires, the coconut water was the perfect mix for alcohol, especially brandy.  Coconut jelly, which was the meat of a young coconut was eaten with a spoon made from the shell of the coconut, when dried, the meat was used to make coconut oil.

Coconut oil is a versatile product, but by now you know this.  it can be used for various recipes, healthy skin and even cure for ailments.  Heated, it was applied to my chest and back as a kid when I had a cold. That was many years ago. Now the benefits of coconut is filtering through to North America, just like the avocado, another island staple.

Next time you are looking for coconut, remember, I saw it first.



Here’s Your Bomb Sir, Have A Safe Trip

English: TSA Passenger Screening

English: TSA Passenger Screening (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember not too long ago when you basically had to go through customs in the nude just to avoid getting hassled by airport security?  Your personal items for hygienic purposes were not allowed on the plane so you had to ditch the cologne and hair spray.  Well you can rest easy now.  Seems like we have no need to live and fly in fear anymore as they have loosened the security at airports.  Well to be fair, Edmonton airport at least.  Canadians eh?

The lax security became evident last September when teenager, Skylar Murphy of Alberta was not only allowed to go through security after he was found to be carrying a pipe bomb, but also handed back the contraband.  The guard tried to hand it back to Skylar who refused saying “You can keep it.”  Hey, noticed that this took place way back in September yet it’s breaking news now? 

Anyways, to save face and not look like the idiots that they were sure to be portrayed as, Edmonton cops were waiting for Skylar when he deplaned from his trip to Mexico.  They had bomb-sniffing dogs and a swat team to greet him.  For all this, the teen was charged with a whopping $100 fine, not even close enough to cover the deployment of the greeting party.  What a mess!

I am not sure what and where to go with this.  I can’t say the guard dropped the ball on this because it would be an insult to ball droppers.  This was not an oversight, just plain buffoonery and ineptitude.  Should the guard to fired? Of course! Without a doubt!  Trying to return a bomb to a passenger so he could take it on board thus endangering the safety of other flyers?  Unacceptable.  He should also be charged with some endangerment misdemeanor. Nuff said.

Maybe I’m too heavy-handed and it was just an oversight by the poor guard.  Maybe he had a stressful day and deserves some pity for his mistake.  But then again, it’s My Take.  Take it or leave it.

Where was this guy when I tried bringing a couple of bottles of rum back from St. Vincent?

Can You Hold My Pipe While I Board This Plane?

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Where In Jamaica Are You From? St. Vincent?

Flag-map of Jamaica

Flag-map of Jamaica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I was talking to a guy who was trying to impress me with his knowledge of Caribbean lingo.  “What’s up mon?”  He greeted,  proudly letting me know he’s a frequent flyer to the island of Jamaica which he incorrectly assumed was my ‘home’.  He then asked me where I was from, meaning where in Jamaica.  I said, “St.Vincent” and started to explain that it was also an island in the Caribbean.  He didn’t let me get to that part.  He interrupted with an excited response, “Oh I have been to Negril and Kingston but never that part”.

The guy continued to extol the beauty of the islands, based of course on his visits to Jamaica and I pitied him for not having a good geography teacher when he attended school.  Darn North American Education!  As I am apt to do, I let him stew in his ignorance and rolled with it.  We talked about Ocho Rios, Ganja and resorts.  I even humored him and spoke like a true Jamaican.  He asked when I was last there and I told him when I last visited St. Vincent.  Then he left.  No wiser than when he walked into my office.  Bad Bad teacher!  No Jamaican rum for you!

Why am I blogging about this?  Well too often it is assumed that because of my skin color and maybe accent, I have to be either from Africa or Jamaica.  It’s not a big deal as I’m used to it but assuming someone is from a particular place because of their skin color is a bit ignorant, isn’t it?  Or is that just my take?

I do not assume every white person is from England.  To do so would be bordering on presumptuous, don’t you think?

Just my take.  Everyting irie, mon.

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