…Working my core

…Working my Core
Well school’s out.  I live for times like these. Nope.  I’m no longer in school (well, sorta, does online study count J?) but I have 2 that still are.  When school in Jamaica is out, my normal 1 ½ hour commute becomes a 40 minute one.  Can I get an Amen? This allows me lie in bed a little later.  I normally rise at 4:30 to exercise.  This morning my alarm went off at 6:00.  I had put out my work out clothes from last night (cause you know that if I don’t do that, I have another excuse NOT to get up and work my butt) and I had already determined that I was gonna do the Pilates routine…such a great workout!  My core gets tested, my spine lengthens and I’m left feeling all supple and energised.  I really, really enjoy Pilates…once I get into it J. So anyways, the alarm went off.  I promptly turned on my lamp and reached for my kindle.  LOL!  So much for putting out the work out clothes from the night before.  I’m decisive, if nothing else.  And in a split second I deferred my work out from this morning to tomorrow morning. Not an ounce of guilt.  And I sank with pleasure back into my pillow, pulled the comforter higher (it’s deliciously chilly in my neck of the woods now) and proceeded to pick up where I had left off the night before.  I’m in the middle of “Love..From Both Sides” by Nick Spalding.  I’m starting to chuckle as I type.  Here’s one review from Amazon:
‘Absolutely hilarious. Seriously, I’d warn you not to read it in public as people will look at you strangely as you attempt to do that supressed belly laugh thing that makes you look demented. Anyone who’s ever had a cringeful date that’s ended in humiliation (that’s pretty much all of us, then!) will heart this.’ 


Listen to me…my core may not have been tested by Pilates, but five minutes in, my core was certainly contracted as I convulsed in laughter.  I struggled to maintain control in deference to my sleeping husband.  But the tears streamed, the core contracted and I had to rise quickly from the bed and head to the kitchen, where I grabbed on to the counter and had a good belly laugh!!! 
Breakfast completed, coffee had (sweetened with organic coconut sugar- delish! –that’s another blog post though) I retreated to complete my ablutions. I will spare you the gory details, but once again, my core contracted as I sat on the throne reading more of Mr. Spalding’s work, trying desperately to control my laughter since I was the only one in the house up at that hour.  It was an exercise in futility.  After a couple minutes of trying to stifle my laughter and control my core contractions, I gave up.  I put down the kindle and let it rip…the laughter that is.  I threw my head back and I roared.  I let the tears roll.  I snorted.  I screeched.  I moaned.  I roared some more.  The laughter throttled down.  I wiped my eyes and then it began all over again.  This went on for some time.  I was indeed working my core! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it! 

Be warned: the book has in some “language” and “explicit scenes”.  If it were a movie, it would be rated A18

about surviving in the Information Age

I wrote to the Gleaner and they published it as an article:

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130319/cleisure/cleisure3.html

Spark Youth Interest

Published: Tuesday | March 19, 20130 Comments

Kelly McIntosh, Contributor
The evidence of poor problem-solving skills and the lack of ability to think critically is all too evident in the state of Jamaica today. Sure enough, corruption is at the root of many of the issues that beset our nation, but we cannot downplay our collective ability (or lack thereof) to make sound decisions and to tackle complex issues.
We need to start now, as early as possible in the education system, to teach our young how to analyse problems, how to approach solutions, and how to think critically.
When I was younger, the challenge was ferreting out information to do projects and complete assignments for school. Many of us can remember having to go to an actual library and being guided by the index cards housed in the wooden catalogue drawers.
Fast-forward to 2013: the challenge now is to decide what information to discard! Students simply Google the question or the topic. I have had to teach my own children basic research skills like cross-referencing and fact- and source-checking as they wade through the plethora of available information.
I do not think it is possible to critically analyse any issue without a sound grasp of language. Again, we are at the mercy of this new information age. Children write in shorthand, use creative acronyms, and learn to express themselves in 140 characters or less (think Twitter!). And while creativity is good, and the ability to summarise useful, this must be balanced by other opportunities where ideas can be fleshed out and opinions challenged and defended.
Here are my proposals for equipping our young for success in the information age:
1 Encourage reading from early. This is best done by giving children access to information about what interests them. Your son who is interested in animals, for example, will not read that book that you thrust into his hands with the best intentions in the world about toys coming to life after dark.
2 From as early as kindergarten and basic school, emphasise compre-hension. Have the children do more than merely answer questions based on facts contained in the passage. They must be encouraged to criticise and imagine. This can be done individually, by writing, and collectively, in the form of class discussions.
3 Treat maths as a language describing a situation, yet providing the way to a solution through the application of basic steps one after another. Emphasise the understanding of the fundamentals over mechanical replication. The children need to be taught to determine what the particular maths problem is asking them to do and what information is provided. Once they understand the fundamental operations, application in search of a solution becomes intuitive, rooted in common sense, and not necessarily the purview of the ‘math genius’ in the class.
4 Relate everything taught to everyday life, so applicability is always at the forefront.
5 Simply have conversations with your children. When driving, turn off the radio and, most definitely, put down the cell phone. Ask them about their day. Talk about something you read in the papers or saw on the news. Ask them their opinions. Have them defend their point of view.
Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and kkmac218@gmail.com.

my children: A Mother’s Reflections

We’ve been compiling a list of “Interesting People we’d like to have at a Dinner Party”. To qualify, you have to be an original thinker. You have to be articulate.  If you have a personality quirk or two, all the better!  No, I’m not going to release that list here and now, but I’d like to talk about 2 people who have already qualified.  One is Little Master and the other is Miss World.
After a lie-in, I got up refreshed this morning and ready to enjoy Sunday.  Only Little Master and I were up.  Our body clocks are in synch in a kind of “early to bed, early to rise” kinda way.  The other inhabitants are the exact opposite.  So still in our PJs, we jumped into my car.  Destination: Red Hills for the Sunday papers.  En route I had a most fascinating convo with this 9 yr old.  Essentially he lectured me on the importance of brand in gaining market share.  He spoke at length (and oh so eloquently and knowledgeably too!) about Nintendo, Sega, Sony and the like and the fact that Nintendo has managed to remain the preeminent gaming system because of their “lovable mascots”. 
I couldn’t refute him as I am oh so ignorant of all things gaming.  But he cited facts, history, trivia about home consoles, arcade consoles, lawsuits and Atari, 16 bits, 64 bits, target audiences and the like.  Amazing how our children have their own personalities and thoughts.  Who would’ve known that Little Master would become/is becoming an authority on all things gaming.  And Nintendo has an avid fan and admirer right here in Coopers Hill, St. Andrew, Jamaica.
Miss World now does not wear her heart on her sleeve like Little Master.  She is our go-to person for all things tech.  She taught me Blogging 101, Twitter 101, how to rip audio from video, where to get great MP3 files, how to create a playlist, what a meme is and on and on.  She still keeps me clued in to the norms and rules of social media, rolling her eyes and sighing when I’ve violated one of the many in my tweets or when I’ve used a current term inappropriately.  I find out what’s going on in her world through her tweets and blog.  Man!!!  I am laughing here just reflecting on how my almost 17 year old is her own person.  Yes, sometimes her tweets border on PG13.  Yes her blog posts are peppered with choice language.  But if you know me well enough, you know that I have a pretty liberal stance on language: there is no such thing as indecent, only inappropriate, and at the same time I try to challenge her on being articulate in Standard English.  Without apology. 
  But back to Miss World’s mind.  She is her own person.  She is expressive. Funny as all hell in a dry, irreverent, disrespectful kinda way.  I crack up at her running commentary on twitter, while trying to be Serious Responsible Mummy as I admonish her: “remember that what you put into cyberspace remains there forever, Missy!  And be kind!!!”.  She is nearing the stage to decide what she wants to do with the rest of her life.  And not unlike me when I was her age (shhh…nuh tell her, do!) she doesn’t know what she wants to do.  I have to confess, these days my chest tightens when I think about the future where she is concerned.  I worry about if I’ve done enough to prepare her for life “on the outside”.  I worry about mistakes she will make.  I think about what I’ll do to the perpetrator of her first heartbreak.  I want with all my heart for her to be able to use her God-given talents to contribute to the world and to make a living and to be happy all at the same time.  Ah boi….
My two are wonderful people.  I just hope I am doing enough as their steward right now, preparing them and equipping them.

Usain St. Leo Bolt, SUPERSTAR!

Here’s an open letter to Mr. Bolt:

Dear Usain:
I just wanted to go on record at this time with my real feelings about you.  I am puzzled at your own reticence in styling yourself a living legend…and as for Mr.  Rogge’s insistence that you are a mere icon and not a legend…Ha!  He is simply in awe of your natural talent and is fearful that you could smother it with youthful vanity (remember his issues with your chest thumping in Beijing?) and he needs you to continue your legendary performances which are the main attraction at this year’s Games.  He really needs you to fill stadia in the next Games.
Listen, Usain: you became a legend in my eyes when you smashed the WR in both the 100 and the 200m.  And it is not just the fact that you did it, but it is how you do what you do!  I am ashamed to admit that I had to ask who came third in the recent 1,2,3 Men’s 200m sweep in London 2012.  You see, my eyes were on you and you alone from the beginning of the race to the end.  That’s how it always is, Sir.  I think I literally stop breathing every single time I see you run a corner.  It starts with you slowly uncurling your totally unsuitable sprinting frame (yeah right!) in such an ungainly manner from the blocks, so infuriatingly slowly and then…you become like this massive anti-gravity Transformer who just defies the laws of inertia on the turn and then you simply expand into an even more massive unbeatable machine for the last 40 or so meters of your race.  Such power, such long strides and such speed! 
Yes, Asafa Powell started this whole sub 10 attack on the 100m.  But I don’t watch the races because of Asafa.  I don’t dream about what he will do next.  You see, for me, I have to insist that it is not just about the speed.  Again, it is how you do it that sets you far apart from men who you beat by mere seconds.  Your antics before and after your race speak to a facet of your own personality that I find absolutely charming.  You are a fun-loving person!  And since one of my own personal mantras is: “I eschew unhappiness and unhappy people”, I am totally charmed by your joie de vivre.   It’s natural, it’s infectious and it reminds us that it is possible to achieve fantastic outcomes without looking like or behaving like the destiny of the universe rests on what I am about to do here and now.  
Don’t think I don’t see you acknowledging the young people who are tasked with carting your basket of gear off the track before the race starts.  Nobody taught you to do that!  Don’t think I’ve forgotten how you prodded Asafa to certain victory in that 4 x100m relay.  Don’t think we don’t realize how you’ve deliberately and genuinely motivated young Blake and Weir.  You whispered something to Weir at the start of the now historic Mens 200m in London 2012, didn’t you, when you saw this awesome young man buckling at bit before the start of the race.  He ended up with a bronze medal from an awesome field of runners…  It is not lost on me, Usain how you have the press eating out of hands.  You actually stop and talk to them and you recently took away a camera and literally turned the tables on them.  Did somebody suggest to you that this would be a charming gesture, sure to endear you more to the press and your adoring public?  Methinks NOT.  You see, Usain St. Leo Bolt…you are a Natural.  My children are sick of me saying: “Bolt is such a Superstar.”  It’s how you do what you do.  You win races in outstanding fashion, you frustrate top athletes who run out their heart strings to beat you only to be relegated to 3rd and 5th and 6thwith tears in the eyes and a mixture of despondency and awe in their hearts.  You charm children and princes.  You quietly help people…I recall your donations to the earthquake stricken people of China and your quiet donation to Sam Albert  to help her finance her own Olympic journey.  
And I think it is because your success has not been handed to you on platter, that I am in even more awe of you.  I love Glen Mills for taking you and working with you when you just did not know how to deal with your twisted spine and resultant repeated hamstring injuries.  Without that early intervention, there would be no Usain Bolt, Superstar.  You accepted the guidance and the rest, as they say, is history. 
I love it that you train right here on the rock.
I love it that you make no secret of the fact that winning is what you do.  You are competitive in a manner not seen in many athletes. 
I love it that you live your own life.
I love it that you have made and will make so much money. 
Yes, when Blake beat you at the National trials some weeks ago, I was worried.  I really was.  I wanted to see more of your utterly disrespectful victories!  It wasn’t until I saw you in the 100m semis in London that I truly relaxed and hugged my family and shouted: “HE’S BACK!  HE’S GOT THIS!!!!!!”
I’m going to share my personal fantasy where you are concerned: (hushed tones) I get goose bumps when I think about you running the 400m flats. Usain!  You and the 400m…picture it…feel it….see it!  My other country man, Kirani James (I’m Grenadian too you know) is a formidable athlete too, but there’s enough room for both of you.  Yes, yes, yes…I know training for what I consider to be the Ultimate Sprint is horribly hard and I know you would rather party.  But here’s the thing: I am hoping that you will soon, naturally, temper your partying and just decide to mash down the 400m.  Note I did not say “stop your partying”.  
Juliet Cuthbert recently made the point that many athletes go the college route and we college grads all know what it means to put the P in Party.  You opted not to go the college route, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t get to place the P, now does it!  All I ask is that you remember MODERATION.   Take care of yourself.  Protect your body, Usain.  Asafa seems to be a better motor car driver than you.  Let him do the driving.  Hahahaha!  Hold your family close.  Our families have the knack of keeping us grounded.  Guard your mind and heart and keep moving forward.
Good luck to you and the team in the relay finals later today.  I feel that something great is afoot. I’ll be going with my daughter to Half Way Tree to watch the race with the thousands of others that will bring traffic to a standstill this afternoon. 
Oh!  We will both celebrate birthdays on August 21 week after next.  Happy Birthday when it comes!  I expect to be living it up with my family and Mickey Mouse.
With a full and grateful heart , I remain one of your millions of fans across the globe.
Rock on,
Kelly  

10 more Olympic questions…

1.  Why do so many Asian athletes change their hair colour?  Methinks brown and shades thereof sell hard over there.
2.  Does anybody else get confused over the many countries that have Chinese or China in their names?
3.  Has anybody else lost count of how many countries were formed from what we used to call Russia?
4.  Does anybody else fret for the Russian and Chinese athletes when they don’t win gold?  They look so unhappy and frightened!  Dem must know why…
5.  The women tennis players make quite a bit of noise when playing.  Does anyone else find this quite entertaining?
6.  How do you decide to when to say Team UK or Team GB?
7.  All these countries that end in “stan”…does anyone else shudder with a bit of trepidation when they hear those names?
8.  Have you ever seen anybody black in the rowing events?
9.  Let’s name ‘em: what Olympic sports will you never see a black person in?
10. Let’s settle this once and for all: are we all agreed that Semanya is a woman?

about the London 2012 Olympics thus far…some (not so reverent) thoughts

It’s July 31, and all of Jamaica is waiting on track and field to start, me included!  I can’t help but feel though, that Beijing was as good as it’s gonna get for us.  Look at the USA male gymnasts and swimmers…not living up to expectations are they! The thing is, there are so many extremely hungry competitors just straining at the bit to compete and win. All of this notwithstanding, I remain respectful and in awe of the talent of our athletes.  I sincerely hope that Usain Bolt not only defends his titles, but that he sets some new world records too.  Greedy?  I think so…but hey…Usain is a SUPERSTAR, in terms of his amazing talent (have you ever really looked at him over the last 40m of his race?) and also in terms of his natural ability to interact with people…so darned comfortable in his own skin.

And I absolutely love VCB and Shelly-Ann and ma girl Melaine.  Man…I wish them well.  And as for Asafa…I’m going to say it here: if anyone is to beat Bolt, I would like it to be Asafa.  I would be happy.  I am so nervous though.  In the sprints there is absolutely zero room for error, and the rounds are taxing, and the whole false start thingy….we just have to wait and send love and positive vibrations to our Team over there.  GOOD LUCK, GUYS!

Let me say, I enjoyed the opening ceremony.  It was entertaining and not too long, and reflected what Britain is quite well.  I still say that LA 1984 will remain my favourite opening ceremony.  Who can forget the 84 grand pianos playing in unison? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_B-lgIc2_w  I will admit that the fact that I was watching the opening ceremonies with my family while enjoying pizza and drinking rum could have contributed to my overall enjoyment of the proceedings!  And then came Team Jamaica on to the filed, resplendent in their edgy and colourful uniforms. Awesome!  I suspect that at the next staging of the games, Olympic uniforms will undergo a paradigm shift from the traditional boring and stodgy to something more in the vein of our uniforms, and the parade of the athletes will take on a vibe not unlike a haute couture fashion show!  No problem as far as I am concerned.

I am pissed at the fact that I can’t watch the games on NBC.  It’s great that we can watch the events live.  But I don’t think our local station would lose viewers if we had the option of watching the games on cable that we have already paid for!  I guarantee you that in any event with a Jamaican, Jamaica would turn to CVM.  Simple.  But I want the option to take in NBC’s perspective too, and to relax and enjoy the delayed coverage that they are offering.

On now to the Jamaican athletes who have done well so far.  Samantha Albert (equestrian) remains a puzzle in my mind.  I wonder why she didn’t represent Canada or the UK…methinks she should have been able to do either…anyhows, good effort on her part.  Yes, my enthusiasm is muted, but is so it go.

Alia Atkinson copped a great 4th place in the 100m breaststroke swimming.  She competed like a champion and I wish her all the best in her two remaining events.  She’s strong, and fit and fast with the heart and demeanor of a champion.

In closing, allow me to ask some questions that have come to mind:

1.  If there’s table tennis in the Olympics, why isn’t there netball.  Just saying…
2.  Why can’t the genders compete together in events that don’t require speed or strength?  Take for instance shooting…that requires a steady hand and a good eye.  Methinks the sexes can compete fairly here.
3.  Where are the breasts of the female swimmers?  Is it the swimsuit that has crushed them flat?
4.  I wonder if the condoms that they have distributed in the Olympic village are being used up? I am somewhat intrigued by reports of sexual activity in the village.  As one person in the article I read said: “everyone in the village has a great body!”
5.  What the hell is the Jamaica50 secretariat going to do if Jamaica doesn’t get a gold in the male 100m on Aug 5?  They are planning celebrations around the race…talk about pressure!  It’s never really a good idea to plan around an unknown.  And we still don’t have any guarantee that JA will get a gold in the event.  The damn race lasts for 10 seconds (count them!) and every one of the 8 that will be in the race is a competent athlete to say the least.
6.  Why do all the female beach volley ballers have ponytails?
7.  Why do all the female beach volley ballers NOT get a wedgy?
8.  Why do all the female beach volley ballers look so darned good in a bikini? (can you tell I’m a tad obsessed with the the female beach volley ballers?
9.  Why hasn’t Yohan Blake uttered a word since he’s been in London?

Let the Games continue!

…about Good Jamaicans!

I  had intended this post to be about the future of Agriculture in Jamaica.  You see, last week Wednesday my brother and his family and me and mine made a 2 vehicle trek to Malvern, St. Elizabeth to visit my friend and colleague Kingsley.  Kingsley has been a farmer for decades and in recent times, Kingsley has added to his agricultural endeavours in a really high-tech way.  You see, Kingsley now cultivates crops in what we (ahem!) agriculturists refer to as a “controlled environment”.  You all (ahem again!) would be familiar with the term “greenhouse agriculture”.  Simply put, growing crops under cover allows you to control variables such as water and wind, offers a more suitable environment for controlling pests and diseases and allows you to also optimise plant nutrition.  Sure there’s a high initial outlay (relative to growing in the open field), and you have to use specific seed varieties and monitoring becomes a necessary science.  But the results when you do get it right, is a higher yield per unit area, more predictable yields and improved quality.  You can now operate your farm more like a factory floor, predicting and guaranteeing output.  So yes, this was initially meant to be an expose on agriculture in Jamaica.  But the more I reviewed our excursion, I became convinced that this was more about the soul of the farmer than his activities. What he has accomplished is more about him, than it is about the science and discipline of agriculture.  Come with me…

So we set out from Kingston at 8:00am.  Every time I drive out of Kingston I am impressed by awed by just how beautiful our island is.  Uneventful is how I would describe the drive over.  The view of the St. Elizabeth plains when you are descending Spur Tree took on renewed significance, as I said to my children: “We are most definitely heading straight into the heart of the bread-basket of Jamaica!”.

View of Jamaica’s breadbasket from Spur Tree

Me being me, I asked for directions 3 different times once we made that left turn at the foot of Spur Tree.  I could just see my brother rolling his eyes in exasperation, since I was the so-called expedition leader.  Whatever.  I am “directionally challenged” and lose my sense of direction at the drop of a hat!  

Three hours later we arrived at Kingsley’s house.  By this time we were joined with another of Kingsley’s friends from Kingston, Pat.  He has a massive greenhouse in the front of his property.  No…don’t look for an actual greenhouse. It’s really a metal frame overlaid with a combination of plastic and mesh, designed to allow for appropriate ventilation and light and for the exclusion of insects. In the event of a hurricane warning, it’s apparently quite simple to remove the coverings and lower the plants.  The frame should be still be standing after the storm.

The White Greenhouse

Seedlings are planted in to pre-prepared bags of coir which are set up prior to planting, with drip irrigation lines appropriately placed.  The fertilizer is mixed into tanks with the irrigation water and applied at pre-set intervals throughout the day.  The net result is no water wastage and giving the plans exactly what they need in terms of food.  Kingsley’s set-up  is well equipped with an automatic timer and pH and electrolyte meter to ensure that the water is of the right pH to allow for effective delivery of the nutrients.  Farmers in this neck of the woods rely on rainfall for irrigation.  Kingsley has added gutters to his house and his greenhouse to ensure that not one drop goes to waste.  The water is stored in a combination of black plastic tanks and a pond that he excavated and lined.

The kids (and adults too!) had a great time harvesting the most beautiful tomatoes you’ve ever seen from Kingsley’s greenhouse.

Tomatoes in the greenhouse

The sweetest cherry tomatoes in the world!

Some crops are also grown under a less strict regime: tunnel houses.  The sides and front and back are open in this method.  But drip irrigation/fertigation and covering on top, still afford some measure of control.

Cabbage in the tunnel

Tunnel House

 Kingsley still plants in the open field too!

Irish Potato field

Little Master pulling carrots from the field.
Miss World with her just pulled carrots!

We ate pumpkin bread and drank carrot juice made by Kingsley himself! That is another blog post.

Apart from being totally impressed with Kingsley’s efforts and his fantastic results, I left feeling that Kingsley represents all that is good about Jamaica and Jamaicans.  He has carefully planned and invested.  He has done his sums and the result is a thriving business utilizing the best of Jamaica: soil, climate and people, producing in  a sustainable manner, produce that is wholesome.  Kingsley is one of the hardest working people I know and his sons see this and emulate him.  All is not lost in Jamaica Land we Love. What a great day!  

Kelly and Kingsley

Anger and Choices

It continues to be a rough time for me…emotions swinging every which way.  Sometimes things happen that will do that to you.  That’s called Life.  And in the middle of living, stuff happens. In the last week, two icons passed away, and their deaths gave me pause: Jamaican journalist Wilmot ‘Motty’ Perkins and World Super Singer, Whitney Houston.  

Wilmot ‘Motty’ Perkins

Motty had an incredible mind.  He never went to University, but I’ve never known a topic that he couldn’t speak about with some amount of authority.  But on top of his incredible knowledge, Motty possessed an 
extremely analytical mind.  Knowledge plus powers of reasoning an deduction make for a very interesting individual and an asset to any society.  I used to listen to Motty religiously up until about 3 years ago.  So if he was so phenomenal, why did I stop?  Simple.  Motty appeared to me to be an angry person.  He was most times correct in his analysis, but I could sense venom and bitterness whenever certain topics were broached.  Three years ago I separated from my then husband.  There was enough anger and bitterness to go around in my life at the time and I became extremely selective about what I allowed to enter my mind and my space.  So I simply turned off Motty.  I hate nonconstructive anger…you know…that kind of anger that just goes on and on without creating any kind of change.  Listen, I am sure that when you check it out, most anger that we feel or that others around us feel can be justified.  But when we stop at simply feeling anger and never move on, and when we make decisions borne out of that anger then it gets dangerous.  Unchecked anger will most certainly result in physical illnesses, alienation of those we hold near and dear, compromised decision making and a very unhappy existence.  I still struggle with personal anger.  I can justify why I feel angry.  But I make every effort to be honest with myself in analysing the root cause of my anger, managing my thoughts and in so doing, controlling my emotions.  I have had to learn to forgive and I also acknowledge that this is a process, so change is not often overnight.  As long as we are honest and aware of unproductive emotions and doing the right things (managing thought especially!) in dealing with the so-called negatives in out lives, let it go.  The feelings will eventually fall into place. 

Then Whitney died.  So very sad.  She had such a tremendous talent. Every single time that I look at the video of her singing the American National Anthem at an NFL match in 1991, I am blown away.  Hers is the face of a Champion who knows that she is kicking butt.  She is totally in control, totally enjoying the moment doing exactly what she was born on this earth to do and she knows that she is in that zone where a better performance is impossible.  It does not get much better than that for us Humans!

There was a time when I felt that a little heartbreak would have added dimension to an already fantastic range. Alas..we speak so casually of heartbreak…as if recovery is automatic. Bobby Brown was, well…Bobby Brown. I don’t think he forced Whitney to love him. I don’t think he forced her to do any of the things she got up to with him. Yes, we can speak about “undue influence”, but at the end of the day, the choice is always ours. She was a humongous talent whose humanity was all too evident for us to see. Whitney Houston remains undiminished in my eyes.

Let’s be cognizant of the choices we make and the possible repercussions, especially as it relates to those near and dear to us.  Let’s also consciously manage our thoughts and eschew anger.  It makes for happier living. 

…about Pets!

So Little Master has a thing for animals.  Let me confess: if I could live my life without a single pet I’d be fine…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  We used to have 2 dogs.  One died and Dad got custody of the second one.  I really did not put up a fight.  Although, when he (the dog that is!) passed a few months ago, I have to confess, I felt a moment of sadness.  That dog was born when we were breeding dogs to raise cash to build our house.  He was the dog that my fearless toddler used to harass.  
R.I.P. Lion


Perhaps my apparent antipathy towards pets is really a (sub)conscious attempt to mask and subdue pretty strong emotions deep, deep down when it comes to animals and their lot in life.  I remember when I was in primary school, at about age 9, I saw a group of boys huddled together, shouting excitedly and my utter dismay when I realized that the object of their animation was an injured bird.  So there I was, horrified and totally torn up in the face of the suffering of this poor birdie.  I shouted and rushed in with one single aim: to rescue the bird.  I scooped it up while bawling and marched to my classroom cradling Birdie with the stupid, shouting hoard behind me.  Thank God my teacher was on my side and I was allowed to take it home.  I placed it in an empty chicken coop (we had layers, broilers, goats, bees,  rabbits, dogs and cats!) and nursed it back to health for a few days.  I happily set him free once I realized he was good to go.  I also remember when my dog Polly was hit by a car and succumbed to her injuries.  I grieved for that dog.

Anyways, I reluctantly agreed that Little Master should get a hamster for Christmas.  Sigh.  He already has a pet-the ideal pet in my view!- a little turtle.  No noise, no running up and down, low maintenance.  Sweet.  
 
The ideal pet: Low Maintenance Turtle


So Harry joins the family (be sure to say “Harry” with a British accent please…Little Master’s dictate of course).  Harry is a rat…damn.  He is scary.  Ugh.  Look at his toes!  Look at his beady black eyes!  Have you ever held him?  Have you felt how soft his fine, little bones are?  But, because I am absolutely in love with Little Master, I help in the cage cleaning and the feeding.  And, yes, I’ll confess, Little Master has caught me on more than one occasion sitting in front of Harry’s cage watching his feeding, drinking and playing habits. 

So earlier this week I was in the kitchen preparing lunches and making breakfast when something caught the corner of my eye.  No way!, I thought…a white furry rat on the ground in my kitchen?  Oh hell!  HARRY IS LOOSE!  So there I was at 5:30am shouting to I really don’t know whom: “ HARRY IS LOOSE!  THE HAMSTER IS OUT OF HIS CAGE!”

To my eternal credit though, I switched into Wonder Woman mode very quickly.  I grabbed the green bucket and cornered Harry who looked totally bewildered, by the way.  I covered him and got his cage.  Somehow, his climbing tube had come apart in one place and the little creature had squeezed out.  I then re-set his cage and tubes and opened it up to receive its tenant once again.  I held that little rattus and placed him back in, none too gently I must confess, as even with gloved hands, it still freaks me out tremendously to handle Harry.  My sigh of relief that Harry had not gone AWOL in the house was very quickly replaced with a sudden startling revelation: Harry was hanging out by a rat poison block I had placed in a corner of the kitchen!  Lord have mercy! Did he eat any?  Would he be ok?  By this time, Little Master was up and I was brutally honest with him: we could come home to a dead Harry in the afternoon.  We hoped and prayed (yes I did!) and we were on Harry Watch for the next 24 hours.  If Harry was too quiet, we prodded him out of his little house and cheered as we watched him forage and feed and run.  Poor Harry.  He had very little rest as we sought to assure ourselves that he would live.  Today Harry is as energetic as he ever was, much to Little Master’s joy.  And yes, I’m glad too.
Harry!



Drink up, Harry