Sunday, February 14, 2021

My Long Bamboo My Valentine Bamboo My Holland Bamboo


Do you have a go for Valentine’s Day?  Or, is it just another day for vendors and merchants to beckon you to sample their goods? Valentine’s Day seems to be up to us these days to define love in many ways. 


Evergreen! Ever nourished! Turgid! Rings and grooves! Erect! Long bamboo! It's a Valentine bamboo love fest. Solid as a rock like the little island in the Caribbean named Jamaica.  I looked around my dwelling at my bamboo plants. I then approached my favorite, stroked it and said, Honey, it’s Valentine’s Day! What shall I do with myself? Trapped inside by COVID-19 restrictions I wished there was somewhere to go and have fun. And perhaps if I decided to become a law breaker and find a place where there is fun, it would be guaranteed that I would be the only one to get caught, arrested. So the best thing to do is stay home: cook, eat, drink, be merry and enjoy my bamboo plants in my apartment. Of all the bamboo plants, I always admire the one seen in the picture more than the others. At its pinnacle it has three shoots. Three heads, I would say, which from a christian perspective could be in sync with the trinity: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost. 

Nonetheless as Valentine’s Day festered, a nostalgic mood overcame me sweeping away the thoughts of the trinity. My love for nature helped to eradicate anything further.  And more so the many uses of bamboo. And on Valentine's Day, there is no better place to find a good and enticing look at bamboo than Jamaica. It is the home of Holland Bamboo, a very beautiful tourist attraction in the Parish of St. Elizabeth. It’s located on one of the main roads. Driving through that stretch of clustered arch of bamboo allures the mind to invite romance. A pitch of matrimonial calling. It provokes and invokes love of all sorts to arrest the soul and free it from stress. 

If I have never been a cheater in my life, here on Valentine’s Day, in this crippling season of COVID-19 I have petitioned in my mind to be one. I am somewhere in North America with my long bamboo placed in a plastic water bottle but my mind is on Holland Bamboo, Jamaica, a little island in the Caribbean dubbed: The Rock. Little Paradise. 

Tah-tah! Love is love. 

Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2021

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

No 2020 Rejects Allowed At 2021...Wishful Thinking

 “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” - 2 Peter 2:22


There is a place for rejects, handled by a quality control officer. Things that are not fit for human consumption are discarded. Thrown away. Burnt. So are items with imperfections. Even among the finest china. All of that sounds good. It is honest behavior. Fairness towards consumers. And courts healthy living. On the other hand it has been said time and time again that One man’s garbage is another man’s wealth. And that is true because some people do make a living and a substantial one from items that are no longer useful to others. Garbage bins are hustled and harassed daily with the hope that something good will manifest from finds.

But inasmuch as garbage business can yield happiness, how deceptive are the people who operate such a business? What unhealthy conditions were the items in when discovered? Foods with expired dates, a broken dish, broken furniture, a puked garment, a handbag which contained a shitty nappy and a nose rag...just to name a few. Is the pursuit scary? And with the age or recycling in our midst who can fault the seekers of garbage. Behold all things of a broken and contrite look have become new again. Washed, cooked, polished, painted, glued. Brand new second hand according to the phrase.

Rejects come in many forms, not only the ones in disposal units. Reject sickness, covetousness, bantering...especially dancehall bantering based off alleged obeah/mystic, malicious gossip, poverty, stress, selfishness, unkind acts, scamming, crooks, corruption, bad leaders, infidelity, bad men and women of the cloth, bad mind, bad men and women of the law enforcement, disorderly citizens, biased media, dutty politics, pedophiles, evildoers, bullies, unfair employers, dishonest employees, control freaks, liars, rude and obnoxious beggars and the list goes on and on. The wish is not to encounter any rejects or hold them as trophies. Unfortunately the human mind is a powerful mechanism. Different in views and behaviors. Sometimes we quickly gather back the things we cast away as rejects, finding it hard to let go of them even when we know that they are not good for us. Is there comfort in having a relationship with things that maul us?  Is there sweet pleasure?

The year 2020 came with many rejects but the most disturbing was the sudden and grand entrance of COVID-19.  A virago. A glutton. A ruffian. My greatest desire for the year 2021 is to see this monster remain in 2020 but like a trail of toilet paper it is expected to piggyback on to 2021 according to the biggies in the science, bat world and big pharma. In God we trust and hope for all things great and of good report for 2021. Follow instructions. According to my Jamaican Granny “If fish comes from the river bottom and tells you that shark is down there, believe it”. There is no time to look into a crystal ball to see if by chance biggies have the handle and peons have the blade. Wear masks. Be safe.

Tah-tah! Keep hope alive. 

Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2020

Monday, November 30, 2020

My 2020 Experience With Onion In Bed

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” - Hebrews 13:5 NKVJ (New King James Version)


I have had a close relationship with the onion for many years, much closer than its relatives: garlic, chives and scallions. The onion is a bumptious vegetable yet I can't seem to let it go. It releases a strong odor which makes me cry the minute I undress it and slice its succulent body. No doubt it’s a defense mechanism against interference. Yet, I continue to eagerly undress it and don’t know when I will stop. If to undress an onion becomes a crime, perhaps I would be first in line to be charged for bodily harm and devouring. And even if I was not seen attacking the onion on account of culinary necessity, my foul breath after partaking of it would be a dead give away. The onion is characterized as an unpleasant odor yet it enhances the flavor of foods in an irresistible manner. Tasteful. Delicious. Gourmet. It’s easy to become a repeat offender.

Besides cooking up the sweetest storms in the kitchen with some help from onions, it is said that they also have powerful medicinal uses. And in the superstitious world it has been mentioned that sliced onions strategically placed in one’s dwelling can heal the sick or keep evil spirits away. To be truthful the only bond I have had with onions is to eat them, raw or cooked. And then I'm sure to mask my intolerable breath with a peppermint candy before someone refers to me as “onion breath”. But what the heck, labeling me onion breath would be trivial compared to the destructive COVID-19.  2020 will always be known as a disastrous year. COVID-19 surfaced and quickly became a pandemic. Mother earth ravished. The fear of the pandemic, to be free from it or prevent it from attacking, forced many people to return to self-help and home remedies. Onions, bushes, orange peels, limes, lemons,  turmeric, ginger, thyme. You name it, anything that is a cooking ingredient inside our homes have now been touted as medicines. The pharmaceutical top-guns must be irate, frothing at the corners of their mouths, that some people in society have the audacity to side step their products and opt for the simple things in our fields and gardens. Hearing about and seeing the deadly behavior of COVID-19, to survive is a big deal. Symptoms or not. It’s all about protection and to still fear. And social media members posted a lot of remedies; too many to try. I have my doubts about some and still do. In times like this there are a few people who take pleasure in exercising their selfish minds and ways. They will piggyback with fake information. 

COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate. I do not disrespect science and our scientists. It’s a new virus to them. Until the scientists put one and one together I decided to try an onion recipe as protection. I prepared it one night in June and before going to bed I strapped sliced and diced pieces of an onion to my chest (this was recommended). I then placed some on my body where it wasn’t recommended: feet, under my breast, around my waistline, and I folded some in a paper towel and placed it in my underwear. I had a good laugh at the item which reminded me of adolescence and hoped it was properly secured to prevent scorching. I then said my prayers and waited for sleep. By morning time, I awoke and was collecting bits and pieces of onions that had escaped from their hold. I chuckled at the mess and onion scented bed sheets all in the name of protection from COVID-19.

My grandchildren were awake in their bedroom so I went in to say good morning. Few seconds after entering, the oldest of the three eased herself up in bed and rested on one elbow.  “I smell guacamole”, she said, piercing me with a steady gaze. I sniffed the air, agreed that I did smell guacamole and then quickly left the bedroom, holding back a laugh. That day she was a magnet. A sleuth. A sniffer dog in law enforcement. Anywhere I went she followed me as if I were a suspect. Guilty of a crime. Guilty of harboring guacamole. Her following me around the greater part of the day and talking about the guacamole odor was a dead give away that she had told her parents about it. Eventually, seeing how hard she was working to prove herself right, I admitted that I had slept with slices of an onion the night before as a protection from COVID-19. The minute I released the information, she laughed and said, “Grandma, I knew I smelled guacamole. I knew it”.  She then ran to tell her parents that I had slept with onion slices strapped to my body. 

Tah-tah! Nothing tried. Nothing done. 

Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2020

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

It’s Over, English Language...Galang Wid Your Words and Grammar


If I were to define grammar, I would say it is the rules and words which embody sentence structure.


The words corrupt and dysfunctional come to mind when I take a look at the English Language. Except for the linguist who toils over its root words to find the correct baby father, baby mother, siblings, relatives and bloodline, everyone else should at some moment in time show anger and frustration. Inasmuch as Standard English/English is my first language, I would not say that I am a clipper at it. One thing I know I can attest to is the fact that I can switch gears quickly between it and my Jamaican dialect. To bamboozle and feel fancy I will sometimes even do a blend of both languages as seen in the title of this essay. Before going further let me translate it: It’s Over, English Language...Go Away With Your Words and Grammar


Oftentimes I have heard others express that the English language is the most difficult language on the face of the earth. Confusing! And this is especially the case when it comes to tenses, singular vs plural, words that sound alike and of course punctuation marks. They are considered biggies and should not be overlooked. Do grammarians ever get tired of patrolling articles to see if they are properly written? And what if they are not grammatically correct but are strong in regards to the gist and logic? Clear understanding. Will the owners of such articles be taken to St. Peter’s gate? Perhaps it would be of benefit to listen to the information shared in those essays rather than to criticize the possessive ‘s not positioned in its proper place or when it represents "it is" and not "its". Or, the mixups between "you’re" and "your" and "there" and "their". And the list goes on and on including the conjunction I used at the start of this sentence. But, there goes another conjunction to start this sentence, after being whipped and reprimanded at school back in the day for using conjunctions to start a sentence; today in the 21st century this bad habit appears to be officially acceptable. Adversely, are the adverbs too, such as the one I used to start this sentence.



Curiosity at some point in time led me to search for the root words of a couple English words. In doing so I came across something very interesting. It triggered my mischievous streak as I processed the newfound knowledge: Scriptio Continua was a common way of writing text in Ancient Greece. There were no spaces or punctuation between words. Itwascontinuouswritingnoperiodsnocommas. Hahaaa I love this! Such fun days would have been a nightmare to the modern day grammarian. Hocus Pocus! 


At the end of the day regardless of who we are or where we are, every Jackman should adhere to rules. And in this case the focus is on the rules of English Language grammar.  However, there are times when certain rules warrant looking into. I often think about the singular and plural forms of words: One pig, two pigs. One sheep, two sheep. One house, two houses. One mouse, two mice. One computer mouse, two computer mouses. Is this a joke? Hoax? And the words: Sing, sang, sung, song! Is it ablaut? Or, is it an assault on the brain? And not to mention the ridicule displayed by some users on social media if the words am, is and are are incorrectly used. For example: You is instead of You are. Or, I is instead of I am. Let’s say a person approached you with a weapon in hand and said, “I is going to kill you”. Would you correct the grammar or make a hasty retreat?


Tah-tah! Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 

Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2020

Monday, June 1, 2020

I Can't Breathe

The Webster Dictionary defines “breathe” as: a) to draw air into and expel it from the lungs; to take in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide through natural processes.  b) to inhale and exhale freely.

My mother whenever she was overwhelmed with domestic chores or perhaps her own thoughts, would say to my siblings and I, “Please I beg you all to give me a little breathing space”, as we gathered around to make much of her or tug the hem of her dress for food or something else. In my mind, I could never understand her “sometimish” response because no one was holding her nose and squeezing it tight to cut off her air supply. So being the obedient children we were raised to be we would scamper away before the count of three. No questions asked of Mama and the breathing space she wanted.

Now, I said all of that to raise the topic of some Law Enforcement officers, Policemen/Cops, in our society who don't quite understand the statement “I can’t breathe” whenever it has been repeated several times by a suspect who is pinned against the ground. I don’t know the details of policemen-training so as a civilian I am not at liberty to say they are wrong or right. Nor would I even consider that they are doing a game of play wrestling like little boys do. Little boys can be mean when they fool around but not to cause grave harm or injury. But if commonsense must prevail, as a Policeman, I would pay attention to the suspect pleading for help or mercy. Never believe that the suspect is trying to weasel a way out of an arrest or situation. Call for advice of backup helpers.  Get that teamwork going. Do not make a decision to the detriment of others or even yourself.

My grandmother loved to repeat the Jamaican adage, “Bullfrog said what is joke to you is death to me”. This adage rings through daily in many of our lives yet we do not take heed.  The statement “I can’t breathe” has become one too many these days from suspects who are pinned against the ground by a police officer. Be it in an arm-hold, neck-hold or whatever the tactical training is, “I can’t breathe”, should be given prompt attention. Don’t take it for granted. Unfortunately, Minnesota experienced an arrest of a suspect who was pinned against the ground crying “I can’t breathe” to the officer who remained on top of him with his knee locked into his neck. The suspect yelled I can’t breathe more than once yet the officer remained in his composure: knee in the suspect's neck and hand in pocket until the suspect became silent….

The May 25, 2020 video account of the death of suspect George Floyd was hard to watch. It was real. My emotions were real. Hence, I wrote this poem called "I Can't Breathe":

Tah-tah! Exercise power with good judgment and commonsense. 

Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2020

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Arrived Like A Bat Out Of Hell And Took My Brother

What is COVID 19? It’s referred to as: virus, disease, pandemic. By any name, one thing is certain and that is: it wreaks havoc. Claude McKay was a Jamaican poet. And as death after death became mountains, his poem, “If we must die”, stood dominant in my mind.

If We Must Die

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

Claude McKay

The year 2020 was dubbed the vision year for everyone. We had great intentions and ideas to improve our lives. Some of us planned to make our biggest mark in life. We were ready to show leap year 2020 that no matter how it tried to lift its tail of usual woe we would be victorious in all we had planned. But just as we began our great expectations all hell broke loose. A new strain of coronavirus swooped down on planet earth. Nation after nation reported about it. By March 2020 it was declared a pandemic. We were told to remain home, wear masks, practice good hygiene and adhere to public health manners just like our elders and parents had taught us to do. 

The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it uncertainty and fear as we listened to public announcements and updates by leaders, doctors and scientists. Fake news about Coronavirus and it's origin sounded plausible, I hardly wanted to dismiss them. Because according to a Jamaican saying, "If it nuh goh soh, it near goh soh". Which simple means that some of the fake news must have some element of truth to them.

As the awful behavior of COVID-19 took charge. People with deep cultural beliefs used remedies of old passed down by ancestors. I for one took advantage of my cultural upbringing and tried bush-teas of all descriptions. I used Jamaican white rum to rub my body here and there and dab the tongue with a small amount just for taste, or clear my throat according to the old time people. I increased my intake of lime, ginger, lemon, turmeric, garlic and onion. The remedies didn’t hurt me as a child, they did more good than harm so why not try them. And especially since they said that the coronavirus carried symptoms like the flu those were perfect choices.

The COVID-19 pandemic took me back to basics in true Jamaican fashion. Items for use against germs were imperative: Carbolic soap, dettol soap, liquid dettol, bay rum, and rubbing alcohol. There was one old fashioned germ fighting item that wasn’t available and that was jeyes. I recall my parents used to wash my siblings and I bodies in tepid jeyes water when we rolled around in dirt. God forbid if we had picked up any germs in the form of a scratch-mark, bump or pimple, the germs would be nipped in the bud. Not get out of hand. When I had my children, I also washed their bodies with the same jeyes formula if I suspected they had mingled with any germs. Jeyes was also used to disinfect floors too. Jeyes was a big deal disinfectant for domestic animals, floors and humans.

It’s weird that I should have written this piece in the past tense as if COVID-19 is gone. It’s still on planet earth doing its ugly and desperate visits. On Sunday, April 26, 2020, it robbed me of a dear sibling, a brother, Norman Washington Fitz-Herbert Dunkley aka Sloopy. He was a resident of the United States of America and a Jamaican citizen. With an already frail body beaten by Parkinson’s and lying in a Nursing Home, COVID-19 seized the opportunity to prey on him. Don’t forget that people with underlying conditions stand less chance of surviving the ordeal. So it was easy when it attacked him. COVID-19 robbed my other siblings of a brother too. He was witty, comical, intelligent and a charmer. COVID-19 robbed his children too. It robbed his grandchildren too. It robbed his nieces and nephews too. It robbed his family, relatives and friends too. You name it!  COVID-19 didn’t care. It took friends, neighbors, strangers, a friend of a friend. It even took my Primary Care Physician as he worked on the front-line.

It is with hope that COVID-19 goes away, RIGHT NOW!  No more lingering. Go away destroyer and evil! GO! ENOUGH!

Tah-tah! Exercise Care: Wear Masks. Cover Coughs and Sneezes. Wash hands. Let all the good prevail among us.

Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2020

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Plan Your Plan And Work Your Plan...2020 vision

A Google search has defined the word plan as: A detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.


One day my younger daughter, at the age of five, idly sat on a stool in the foyer of our abode. My older daughter and I in the meantime were discussing the details of a situation. To our surprise my younger daughter interjected by telling me to follow God’s Plan. You have to follow God’s plan, Mommy, she said, clenching her fist and staring me in the eyes. She was a miniature politician in the moment. I put on a broad smile at her and her matured input and wanted to know where she had heard that statement. The reveal was Sunday School. Damn, my baby is learning at Sunday School, I said to myself.

But what if I don’t want to follow God’s Plan? Every tub must sit on its own bottom is one of my favorite sayings. It also reads like a plan. We are responsible for charting our own course. Here we are in the year 2020 where most people have dubbed it “vision year”. And appropriately so as the number 2020 is associated with the eyes. With such a number in our space, it’s the perfect time to set our sights on something good. Desires. Ambition. Success. Focus on being a better person. Be kind to oneself and others. Lose weight. Gain weight. Travel. Join an exercise class. Become a millionaire or marry one. Buy a new home. Keep fingers crossed with the hope of finding a sincere person with whom to have a sober and healthy relationship. Tackle anything which in the past had seemed far fetched or out of reach.


New Year’s resolutions are expected. It’s a journey, not a fad in my opinion. Participants of New Year’s resolutions project solemnity in the same manner they would assume positions to an office of high calling. Loyal and trustworthy. Or, perhaps their seriousness can be measured against the undertaking of the oath of marriage. To have and to hold. Great testimonials are banked on along the journey or at the end. But amidst high hopes, embosomed resolutions are set to fail for some people. Perhaps a resolution gives a moonbeam effect. It shines bright at first and then begins to fade by the end of the first week of the new year. And by the third month becomes a figment of one's imagination. But hope shouldn’t be lost among the repeat offenders of resolutions. A  plan can be installed anytime.


The street language defines New Year’s resolutions as: same shit different day...just a change in year. In my opinion doing certain tasks requires a strong mindset. And so it is when carrying out resolutions and goals. There must be a plan. A blueprint. There should be precision, focus,   determination and movement for a plan to come to fruition. It requires constant hands on along the way as in operating a standard vehicle, a stick shift. It’s not an automatic and cruise control effort in the case of Plan Your Plan And Work Your Plan...2020 vision.


Should obstacles surface while a plan is in motion, remain confident. Do not be deterred by the noise: violence, greed, hate, racism, ego, arrogance, lackadaisical attitude, liars, doubt, naysayers and political dogma. Move towards your goal.

Tah-tah! Use your 2020 vision to execute your plan.

Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2020