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



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