Monday, February 28, 2022

Keep Your Sweet Pepper And Tomato Out Of My Ackee And Saltfish





It has been said many times that food is the staff of life and we are also what we eat.

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I love eating ackee and especially when it’s joined in matrimony with saltfish. Most exciting, the national dish of the island of Jamaica is ackee and saltfish. It is delicious and is on most menus at Caribbean restaurants in North America. In most places one has to dig deep into their pockets to pay for a meal of ackee and saltfish. 



It’s February 2022 somewhere in one of the Southern States of America. And where a purchase of ackee and saltfish served with two fingers of cooked green banana and two slices of cooked yellow yam totalled thirteen United States of America Dollars and no cents, ($13.00). Did the price cause your eyes to bulge? Mine did when I looked at the menu but at that moment it was better than purchasing the ingredients and going home with my tired body to cook. Furthermore, I think I warrant a treat from me at least once a month. I strongly believe that financial provisions should be in place to allow me to give myself a feel good moment. Even if it’s buying an ice cream in a sugar cone.



As much as I enjoy the ackee and saltfish, there are times when I am disappointed in the way it’s being prepared at the local eateries or restaurants. I find that like in everything there is an upgrade. Things and times will change, and upgrades will come but when it comes to old time ways and styles of cooking certain dishes, I believe with all my heart that they should not be tampered with. Leave things in the way it was in the beginning. Modern touch can take away the delicious taste of the things of old. And their beauty too.


I recall when ackee and saltfish was seasoned with onion, scallion, scotch bonnet pepper and black pepper and tasted finger licking good. Delicious! Toes, wiggled while eating a well prepared dish of ackee and saltfish. And just in case you have heard about seventh heaven and would like to get there; try frying a piece of pork and adding it to the ackee and saltfish. Yum! Maximum Niceness! Divine! Heavenly! Today, some people cooking at home, including me, have discontinued adding pork because of dietary or religious reasons. Regardless that the heavenly feel has been removed the savory delivery of this dish: there still remains a delightful taste but only when green, red, and yellow sweet peppers and tomato are not added. 


And here’s why I wish those ingredients were excluded: sweet peppers have overpowering flavors. They prevent me from enjoying the full flavor of the ackee. I also notice that tomatoes produce liquid and the ackee will lose its fresh taste if not eaten within a certain time frame. And frankly, in my mind sometimes I do believe that when the ackee is not enough those vegetables and fruits are added in abundance. The elders back in the day would have said such an action is done to make the amount of ackee look greater than what it is. Or, who knows maybe it’s inadvertently done to get us to eat more fruits and vegetables. 


And in all of my ackee glory and love, there are some people who cannot tolerate it. We are all different. And everyone moves to the beat of their own drum. Namaste!



Tah-tah! Seven brothers; seven different minds. 



Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2022


Friday, December 31, 2021

Viagra For Worship Required In These Times

God helps those who help themselves.

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For some people worship has become a part of life. Some may find it in religion, some in material things, some in foods and personal pleasures. Whichever worship becomes a person’s choice it is obvious that the association or connection can draw criticism from outside sources. People will pay attention to others or be in other people’s affairs instead of theirs. Perhaps such individuals are not aware of what they are doing or it could be that they are with a deeply rooted habit: to meddle or be nosy in the name of concern, personal interests or extending help. Or, even in the name of God because he is expected to mend and fix.



Most people at some point in time have dabbled in religious beliefs or worship and then only to see them relinquish or relieve themselves of such enthusiasm. To be more specific, church worship has become dull. Some Pastors have lost their zest in winning souls. In my Jamaican vernacular it would be: Nutten nah gwaan fi church (nothing is going on for church). The members have become far and few between. Missing from church activities. The Pastors’ sermons and preaching have become dead and so are the congregants. Their words of exaltation have fallen on deaf ears, sleepy people and social media enthusiasts. They can no longer charm the heart of a dead rat bat. The result has seen many vibrant churches which once had many members now reduced to a handful. And Pastors and their repetitiveness in the name of Malachi’s words about tithing have further driven one half of the remaining handful away. And to further compound things, when one thought that technology had already stopped the flow of in person attendance to places of worship, up came the pandemic due to COVID-19. 


When it comes to the congregants or even the public at large, the cry about lack of faith and not putting trust in God are the new punctuation marks by most Pastors. Period! LOL. But, have they really assessed the situation to find a strong reason or cause for the behavior? Is it that people have lost faith in the word of God? Or, is it because information has become readily and more available and controversial? Whatever the root cause of dwindling interest towards worship is, Pastors need to get to the bottom of it because soon they will be speaking, preaching and teaching empty pews. There will be no more talks about “where two or three are gathered in His name”. Instead people will be at home cooking, eating, drinking, dancing, arguing and more with very little interest to cultivate undivided time for worship.


Seeing the desperate need for worshipers to be in touch with their faith, again, Pastors and worshipers should fall in unison by some good stimulant: worship Viagra that can joyfully penetrate the heart and soul to a Hosanna in the highest. Inasmuch as each church going person is responsible for their relationship with God, it is likewise important that Pastors cease the way they reprimand congregants if they expect them to draw nearer to God. Stop shouting at them. Instead use their voices in accord with the congregants to make the joyful noise as was instructed to do. Stop criticizing their lifestyles and be amazed at the rain that falls on the just and the unjust. Give thanks and praise from whence and whom the blessings came from. Stop forcing worshipers to give money they don’t have. Instead have an understanding and bless the little they can afford to put in the collection plate. And dare not to invoke the Peter mouth on them. Not even utter an inch of loin cloth that can be easily confused with those rebels of cultural klaat.


Yet, isn’t the house of worship a repair shop? Isn’t it a clinic? Why not sing songs of sweet praise and romance to capture hearts. Where is the admiration for lover man Solomon and poetry man David? Why not use the feel good lyrics which often besiege lovers to give it up in their missionary stance. Stir the congregation to moan and groan in repentance as they surrender their all to Him. Why not by words inflict a tickle here and a tickle there to draw everlasting love. Sweet scented rose of Sharon. Be romantic through and with  the word. 


Until the perfect worship Viagra is found, churches will continue to see less people entering with passion.



 Tah-tah! Inspire and encourage. 




Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2021

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Do You Use The Bible As A Safety Deposit Box And Nemesis Holder?

The simplest definition for the Bible is a book. It is a sacred book for Christians and as a result many have labeled it “the good book”.

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The bible has been a controversial book for eons. Understanding its literature and dynamics is as difficult as saying the names of some of the characters and places mentioned in it. Hence, if someone should strongly engage me in a bible discussion, I quickly sit aside with sealed lips. And frankly I don’t know if there will be an end to doubts about the bible as bits and pieces of new information become available. For example, the most popular talk is that Jesus was black and not white as portrayed in the pictures that have become a masterpiece in most homes. Some people have even engaged in fist fights discussing the information in the Bible. And may the Lord have mercy on the person who writes the name God with a common or lowercase “g”. That would be the epitome of disrespect which warrants a rebuke.



By religious teachings, defacing the bible in any way is not acceptable. It’s a holy book which should be handled with reverence and utmost care. It's not a thoroughfare like the public toilet walls where culprits will scribble: Sit because crab louse can jump 12 feet high. The elders back in the day were enticed by the high standard of the bible. They made use of any available blank pages and inside covers because they found it to be the most suitable and secured place to record birth, baptism, marriage and death within the family. Sometimes they even had the audacity to use it as a deposit box, stashing away legal tender notes for rainy days or emergencies. The easy access to family information made the bible a treasured book and because of that special attention in its handling became necessary. But curiosity over a period of time caused most bibles to suffer physical decline. Even in their poor condition they were kept and not discarded because to do so would have been a sinful act. Modern times and a paperless society have broken the habit of using the bible for record keeping. People have now turned to electronic gadgets to record important information.


But before setting the paper bible aside, perhaps there are other uses. It has been referred to as a weapon. And to determine that, social media sometimes exhibits the traits of anything imaginary and unimaginable. It is a force to be reckoned with. To give an idea: Two people were engaged in a war of words and revelation of character. One accused the other of being evil because it was discovered that the alleged evil person had written the name of a friend in a personal bible. The belief is that it was an apparent bid to dispense failure. It is no secret that most people have eyed the book of Psalm with fear and as I watched the video Live I wondered if the Psalm was used. David was a bad-ass who slew Goliath and the thought that David wrote most of the Psalm left me to ponder a trail of destruction by association. The bible injected fear in me when I was a child. It was a difficult time trying not to slip out of line with neither God nor my parents. Regarding the social media incident I am of the belief that a person who is challenged by the ability of a friend will sometimes see the friend as a nemesis. Justice will be to chant a Psalm for protection. Or, according to the Jamaican street language “bun a Psalm pan dem”.



Tah-tah! Do not cast judgement without facts. 



Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2021

 


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Shitting Cloud...The Malady In Yesteryear




One definition of cloud is: a visible mass of condensed water floating in the atmosphere, typically high above the ground. ____________________________________________


An idle glance at the sky will sometimes give more than one reason to do a double take. After much patronage, I see it as a canvas on which clouds create beautiful abstracts. The time of the day, behavior of the weather, appearance of the sun, moon and stars are not prerequisites for me to peruse the firmament. I can at any desired point look and adjust focus from amazement to wonder. Sometimes with much perplexity too. 



On many occasions I have peered from the window of an airplane, while in flight, to scan the chunks of clouds. A grand exhibition. Some were clusters of cotton balls, animals, humans and a spectacular display of Mount Rushmore with carved images of four past Presidents of the United States of America. Clouds are peculiar and elusive. Nonetheless, quick action and the use of a camera enable one to capture what is seen in the moment. And it serves as great evidence for people who are with the eyes and mind of an artist. Interestingly, the cloud formation of sheep and the picture which portrayed Jesus during my childhood, were frequent and the boldest of all the illusions. If the sky is where God is, then by all means it warrants heavenly thoughts and figures. 


The beauty and the fanfare of the clouds in the sky, does not set aside the behavior of the elders who lived back in the day. They were skilled at reading the sky and its attributes. By doing so, they were able to announce rain, storm, time to sow crops, time to reap crops, fish catching season, sea-travel and the time of the day. Even more fascinating the elders had the ability to scrutinize illnesses, and then matched and named them from the things they saw in their environment.


Inasmuch as the elders had no formal training in the field of medicine, it was commendable to know they were capable of providing remedies and names for illnesses. But none quite as stirring as the name “shitting cloud”, a skin condition which seldom went unnoticed. The face and neck were the areas it mostly attacked. The relevance to fecal matter might be vulgar to some people but that was the way the elders operated. At least the ones I knew. They were blunt. They used statements that were simple, quick and easy to comprehend. Impeccable work. I admired their wisdom and rectitude. The twenty-first century has arrived and I still find all the information those elders provided and shared, during their time, useful and interesting. 


I have never followed up on any new information for “shitting cloud”; with the exception that at some point in time, few people referred to it as “liver spots”. By now researchers or scientists should have found the official name, or medical terminology for “shitting cloud”. Perhaps it is truthfully named “liver spots”. I don’t know.  Besides that, I wouldn’t be surprised if a great amount of people will begin to look at the sky with new and renewed interests. And find for themselves the relevance of linking feces with clouds to name a malady. Chances are they may say to themselves, the elders were smart but naughty and ungodly. Contrary to such analysis, the elders’ works in those days were within rights and with good judgement. And all done in the name of self-help and home remedy.



Tah-tah! Simple methods can produce brilliant work and production. 





Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2021




Friday, April 30, 2021

Is Love An Abstract?




I love you once

I love you twice

I love you next to Jesus Christ 

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I always release raucous laughter whenever I recite the above-mentioned verse. It was a verse known and fancied by most children throughout childhood. To the adults, especially the god fearing ones it was a blasphemous verse. We were taking the Lord’s name in vain. But how could that be? There was nothing else to measure our love against except the few times we decided to share a fried dumpling or sweetie (candy). Those two items were topnotch to children in those times. Treasured as much as salt was centuries ago. Not easily given away. Perhaps that was the ultimate love. Kindness. Sharing.




I am here sitting and writing, without rehearsing anything about love in my head. At this moment in time I am just going with the flow of thoughts. In the end it may be a rant, wisdom or nonsense. Back in the day we used a plant we referred to as “love bush/love weed” to find out if the person we thought we were in love with was also in love with us. That plant is called the dodder. So here’s what we did: we gathered a handful of dodder and threw it at a desired spot. We then spat on it and whispered the person’s name. If the dodder grew in abundance it meant that the person was in love with us. But here’s the truth, the dodder would never die because it’s a parasite.  Any itsy bitsy piece will grow. 


Many decades have gone by since the dodder experiment and I am still confused about the definition of love. I have heard about: strong love, divine love, ultimate love, love like a lizard lying on a tree limb, love like how flies swarm honey, love like ripe mango, love that will leave someone tongue-tied, love until one becomes a fool for love, love to the moon and back, unrequited love, love on hold, sour love, platonic, intimate, romantic and more. The most frightening love to me is when a man says to a woman that the only way he can prove his love to her, is to have her engage in sexual intercourse with him. What kind of love is that? Is it a crash course in making little feet? Or, is it just a letting off of backed up desires. Love is a verb. So perhaps many have taken it literally to its core.


The decision is, whenever love is determined, please let me know if the definition lies in the growth of the dodder and its flaming color. Or, the phallic. Or, if it is an abstract.


Tah-tah! I see what I see. 



Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2021 

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. 

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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

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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