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


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)

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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.

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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





CONFUSION:

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.

 

ANCIENT GREECE:

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! 


COMMONSENSE:

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.
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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