Dry slate, dry,
A giyu quattie bred
Childhood village saying after washing your slate
My new slate is now this portion of the website Caribbean Roots in Canadian Soil called “blog”(what a horrible sounding word!). Being ignorant of this novelty, a blog, I searched for examples on the net and what I saw was a kind of open terrain which seems to run the gamut of presentations done by people who empower themselves to comment about some part of the human condition. The more interesting ones have some expertise to lend to humanity or some perspective to add nuance to human discourse. The less interesting ones are a running commentary of trivial and inconsequential import.
In the movie Julie and Julia, Julie creates a blog where she does one recipe of Julia Child per day over a year to explore the culinary universe of her mentor. A frequency of one per day seems just too neurotic for a single individual (even for one who enjoys writing) and seems ultimately unsustainable unless one resorts to banalities or has a committee or a pool of resources from which to glean material which could contribute positively to the sum of the human experience. I think that twice a month an entry can be done with a view to sustainable interest. Consequently I propose to make a blog entry twice per month in this space on the fifteenth day and the last day of the month for a year.
In our extended social base, families and friends, we have a great many fascinating people with a wealth of talent, expertise and life experience to contribute to sustaining the blog and adding variety to the entries. I have already asked two nieces, Taylor Akin and Michelle Ray to make contributions. Taylor is currently in Togo Africa with a group, WAGES (Women and Associations for Gain both Economic and Social, check it out at http://www.kiva.org). Michelle is writing a cookbook celebrating the cuisine of her youth in rural Jamaica. Many other voices can be contributors and may be moved to contribute as their lives progress and events in the world unfold.
Like every other human endeavour, this blog should evolve beyond its starting point in a way that contributes positively to the people it serves and it should leave the scene when it ceases to function positively. I have imagined four blog entries to cover February and March having to do with perceptions about the world through my own eyes. As a provisory plan, the first of these will deal with matters close to home, (details of a personal and parochial nature as discussed above) and three will be of a more global nature. After those four entries I would love to hear other voices or receive suggestions from other groupings which could introduce themselves to the wider community of extended family and friends in genealogical terms, where they reside and/or how they are connected to the bigger unit or some other devise of their choosing. Stories may emerge at this stage which could/should be pursued. I have no road map but there is no lack of potential material including genealogical information, an abiding area of interest. Michelle Ray Renee Lindsay and Gerry Brown parts of the Henry clan (my Mother’s family) are already involved with this and many will remember that materials generated by John Girvan’s research into the Scottish origins of the Jamaican Girvans found their way into a small project called “Girvanopedia” over 15 years ago spearheaded by Gloria Akin.
This communication is taking place through a miraculous medium where the transmission of ideas is fettered neither by gravity nor by the limitations of the traditional modes of transport (Pony Express, Air Mail, Truck transport) of the materials on which the ideas are written. The hernia producing slate tablets are long gone although the heavy messages that were transmitted on them sometimes remain in modified versions of the original. We are currently moving away from papyrus although the bulk of recorded human experience still resides in traditional, modified portfolios called “books” stored in specialized repositories called “libraries”. Ideas and thoughts, which are lighter than air at their points of origin, can now be transmitted instantly, globally, enveloped in the ether, written on the wind. Consequently, this blog reaches out in a benign way. No quarries will be mined and no trees will be slaughtered in my attempts to connect to you.
I now beg the indulgence of the non-Canadians among us while I begin close to home in the neighbourhood, towns and city where our part of the Girvan/Macdonald/Randall/Akin groupings of the extended family resides. In this blog specific allusions to parts of Canadian culture will undoubtedly be unfamiliar to non-Canadians and will indeed be unfamiliar to young Canadians, Canadians who are not sport junkies or to newcomers to Canada. Next entry (Feb, 28th) will take us to Trinidad and Tobago for Carnival and to the more serious concerns involving our unfortunate Caribbean cousins in Haiti.
In this first entry I also need to acknowledge the power and the widespread nature of the support that I received over the last month as I underwent a radical prostatectomy to excise my cancerous prostate.
I do not wish to parade my condition nor curry your favour for sympathy, for disease is a normal part of the human condition and in due course we will all be doing a slow dance, cheek to cheek with disease, our nemesis, before our exit. I do however wish to advocate that, given all this, we should reach out to our those close to us, disclose our vulnerabilities and give that social base a chance to play a part in the outcome, sometimes positive sometimes negative, of the breakdown of the body or of the mind. Religious groups and spiritual communities have always done this. In the evolution of our societies with the influence of the church apparently irreversibly on the wane, we risk becoming isolated cells, separated by time zones and geography, night and day out of sync, and in our diaspora, yearning for connection, wondering where is home and how we will recognize it when we reach it.
It was heartening in the time of my health concern to be reconnected to many people, family and friends who over the years have been a part of my life in a variety of environments. My Brother Dudley in England who despite recently suffering the loss of his life partner phoned many times to check on my progress. My brothers Akin, Leighton, Philip, Richard and Robert; brother Keith in Miami, my sister June, my Girvan and Dewdney cousins in Jamaica, in Trinidad and in Toronto, Earlis Lund, Allen Hubbell in Prince George, Akin nieces (Taylor all the way from Togo), nieces Michelle and Renee from my Henry family, friends Anna McMahon, Anita and Dave Stewart, Doug Thring, Claude and Gwen Blanchette in Ladysmith, Alan Danesh in Victoria and of course my team of homegrown Angels, Deanne, Allison, Anita, Gabriel, Dunie, Reina and Kieran: all contributed significantly to the relative equanimity that I felt about my recent surgery.
I now don my Grandfather’s hat to report on life on Southern Vancouver Island at Christmas 2009 and New Year.