Ital (eye'-tal): of or from the earth; vital; life giving; natural.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Our shipment from Brooklyn has finally arrived! After months of waiting and Mo (with the patience of Job) spending 11 hours at the wharf and numerous fees paid, our stuff is again, ours. I know I wrote not too long ago about living without so much stuff but there is a certain comfort in being able to eat off your own plates and view familiar faces smiling at you from picture frames. In all honesty, we really didn't ship much. 90% of our things consist of books and papers associated with our careers as artist and architect. The other 10% are sentimental items collected over the years whether they are photographs, works of art or bits of ephemera and memorabilia plus a few essentials for Baby Q and our kitchenware. Our tiny space is starting to feel more like home. Mentally, we are feeling less like we are on extended vacation and more like we are living here. The place is a mess with mounds of books and boxes everywhere, but it will all get sorted out soon enough. I'm feeling the nesting instinct kick in so it is actually enjoyable to open each box, unwrap the contents and think about where its new place will be.

Peace and Wellness,

A Few Things to Remember about Our New Home, Part 2

13. Before setting off to a Bureaucratic Office, remember to ask if there is a dress code!

14. After checking to see that you are attired properly to go to a Bureaucratic Office, remember to pack snacks because you will be there all day and if you leave, you give up your place in line.

15. Exceptions will sometimes be made for a very pregnant woman ignorant of the above.

16. People are always willing to help, but you must ask. And sometimes the answer will be so vague that you will have to ask a second, third or fourth opinion...but again, people are eager to be of assistance.

17. There is a huge difference between getting documents stamped by a Justice of the Peace and getting documents notarized by a Notary Public!

18. A Justice of the Peace does not perform wedding ceremonies. Nor do they keep "office hours" at a court house. They are elusive, upstanding citizens of the community that have a stamp which you need to prove a document to be official. But only certain documents.

19. Opening a bank account is akin to having a root canal...or at least I imagine it to be so. And will require multiple trips to the bank with various stamped and notarized documents.

20. Going to the post office is a bit like going to the circus. There is music and vendors and taxis and buses and dancing children and the occasional dog roaming around. The clown act is the only thing missing.

21. Booking a room at the hospital to deliver a baby is less hassle than opening a bank account.

22. It is true, the best place to eat an ice cream cone is on the lawn of Devon House.

23. Ants will invade the faucet in your shower of all places!

24. A 4 year old will quickly pick up the less savory local vernacular.

25. Repair people will give you a time frame for service and then come after the appointed time frame...just like in Brooklyn.

26. Music created by the band Chicago from the 1980's gets heavy air play on the radio.

27. Freshly squeezed orange juice on a Sunday morning is HEAVEN in a glass!

More to come, I'm sure...
Peace and Wellness,

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Spice of Life

Mexican food is hands down my most favorite cuisine. I could stuff myself silly with black beans, tortillas, guacamole, jalapenos and tomatoes. In fact when I was pregnant with Shine, I couldn't get enough of anything made with black beans. (Perhaps I over did it as now he absolutely refuses them!) And Baby Q says bring on the tomatoes! Lucky for me, both babes enjoyed spice in utero so I did not (do not) have to back down from the hot peppers!

During my college years, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to live in Chiapas, Mexico. On my way to and from school, I had to pass by the farm market where they sold avocados by the buckets! And the tortillaria was two shops down from my house! For those who have never experienced a fresh tortilla, it is a little bit of heaven rolled in your hand. Top it with fresh avocado and tomato, perhaps a squirt or two of lime and ahhh, just thinking about it is making my mouth water!

So, how happy am I to be living just a few hundred miles as opposed to a few thousand miles from Mexico! In my naive little mind I was thinking,' with such close proximity, similar climates, certainly the same foods, there must be some cross over in the cuisines somewhere.' But alas, Jamaican food, albeit excellent, is a far far cry from my beloved Mexican comida. There is but one "sort of" Mexican restaurant in all of Kingston! And although, I have yet to try it for myself, I've been warned that I will be sadly disappointed.

Okay, no problem, I think, because Mexican food is also my favorite thing to cook. I'll make my own, all the ingredients are available here: beans a plenty, tomatoes to die for, peppers that are beyond spicy, rice of course, even tortilla wraps (although not fresh from a tortillaria, but nor were they in Brooklyn)...oregano, basil, cilantro, parsley, chili pepper, lime, onion, garlic...yup all here...except...CUMIN!! The spice!! The one flavor that brings it all together and shouts, MEXICO!! I scoured every shelf in every grocery store and health food store I came across. One shop had a whole wall of herbs and spices 3/4 of which I had never heard of before, but do you think they had cumin? I devoured the internet thinking that maybe cumin was called by another name and I was just overlooking it, but no. It seemed that it just didn't exist here.

Mo was patient with me and kindly waited while I 're-searched' each time we were at the market. It soon became a half-hearted quest. I resigned myself to asking whoever was coming next to the island to bring some with them. My shelves would look like a 1950's bomb shelter with hundreds of bottles of "provisions" lining them.

Then, on our last trip to JoJo's on Saturday as I'm standing in front of the spices, Mo grew weary of my quest and commented,"We've already looked here three times and even asked if they carry it. Time to move on Rae, time to move on." But then wait, the clouds parted, the heavens opened, trumpets blared...

The most gigantic bottle of cumin I had ever seen!! I took it in my hand and held it high above my head like a trophy. (I swear Eye of the Tiger started playing somewhere in the background...Adrianne, Adrianne...) Mo hung his head and started laughing. My smile was from ear to ear!

When we got home, I took out the tortillas, chopped some cheese, sliced tomatoes and peppers and got out the lime...it was quesadilla time!

Peace and Wellness,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Emancipation and Independence

August 1st, 1834 marks the day that the British monarch declared the Abolition of Slavery in all of its colonies across the globe. With the Abolitionist movement in full swing in Britain, declining sugar production and slave revolts in the Caribbean, the British made into law the Emancipation Act. Jamaica, in particular, was notorious for its rebellious slaves. (One such revolt was led by a female escaped slave known as Nanny who is revered as a National Hero and featured on the $500 JA bill.) It is said that the night before Emancipation Day, slaves gathered across the island to celebrate the approaching midnight hour. Singing and dancing and festivities of all kinds took place leading up to the day they could be free. A contemporary version of Emancipation Day happens pretty much the same way. Dances or "sessions" raging through the night, community fairs in towns all across the island, families gathering to eat large meals, shops and businesses closed.

We spent our Emancipation Day weekend in Mandeville where we enjoyed the company of Mo's extended family and attended a fair in the town of Maidstone which Mo's mom helped to organize. There was plenty of food, live music which included traditional folk songs as well as some contemporary dancehall music, games and rides for the kids.

More than a hundred years later, on August 6th, 1962, Jamaica again had cause to celebrate as it gained its independence from Britain to become a self governing nation. This year marked Jamaica's 48th birthday. As a young nation, it continues to struggle to find the balance between doing things "the colonial way" and doing what works best for its resources and people. Listening to Mo's father talk about how far the nation has come in 48 years is amazing. With its vivacious culture and gorgeous landscape, it is sure to strike the right balance in the near future...as long as it can stay true to its self. (A brief but interesting history of Jamaica can be found here.)

We again set off to Mandeville to relax on the farm for the long weekend. Enjoy the photos.

Until soon...
Peace and Wellness,

Emancipation Day Breakfast: Roast breadfruit, fried plantain, ackee and saltfish and tea

Shine and Earth Mother bounce themselves silly while Warrior stays cool.

Mo's mom in front of her display.

The marl pile...hours of entertainment.


Must be a family trait...Cheese.

Relaxing by the waterfall.

Laundry knows no holiday!


Gathering mint for tea.




Baby Q.

Bringing in the goats.

Looking for Fuzzy.

Found her.


Green lizard.

Capturing the feeling of the holiday.