Dustin Brown, 25 year-old, 6 ft. 5 inch Jamaican German flying the Jamaican flag, currently ranked 106 by ATP. Watch out for him at Wimbledon and maybe US Open! Check out his ATP profile page with videos and photos: http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Br/D/Dustin-Brown.aspx?t=mf

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Progress :o)

May 31, 2010

According to CNN:

The World Bank has canceled Haiti’s $36 million debt, the institution announced Friday.

Haiti owed the money to the International Development Association, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries. The nation, wracked by a devastating earthquake on January 12, now does not owe any more money to the World Bank.

[. . .]

The debt cancellation was made possible by contributions from Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, the World Bank said.

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/05/28/haiti.world.bank.debt.canceled/index.html?hpt=Sbin

Thank you (most of) Europe, Japan and Canada! But where’s the UK and USA? Thought they were a big part of the world economy. . .?

What we did in Fallujah

March 5, 2010

UPDATE: CNN reports this story on May 11, 2010: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/10/fallujah-birth-defects-ra_n_571119.html

If you’re afraid of seeing and hearing the truth of who really loses in war, then don’t read this. If you’re already saddened by the tragedies of the natural disasters in Haiti or in Chile, then you really shouldn’t read this. Because this disaster, which will be happening for at least a generation, did not have to happen. It happened because of what most people now agree was and is a needless war.

And the Iraqi government is not speaking up about it because they don’t want to offend the Americans. This report was bravely made by the doctors working in the hospital that was built with American aid. With tied hands and open mouth, here’s what they had to say:

From the BBC, March 4, 2010: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/8548961.stm

From the Guardian, November 13, 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/13/falluja-cancer-children-birth-defects (story and video)

I checked on CNN this morning and there is no sign of the story. So, for now (and I hope only for now) it doesn’t exist in America and for Americans (including me) who are partly responsible for it. In fact, it corroborates the cases of U.S. military personnel suffering with Gulf War Syndrome and other debilitating, deforming consequences of chemical warfare. And if memory serves me correctly, we are still getting around to the idea of connecting the sickness of these soldiers to the war in Iraq.

The nay-sayers may be able to explain away the soldiers as willing participants who are suffering nobly or by choice, but I’d like to see an Independent Panel of anybody look at these kids and explain it away.

Fishing for warmth

February 24, 2010

I know it’s the end of February, but Britain has been COLD this winter. Snow showers are regular and temperatures have been hovering around the 0 degree celsius mark for months. It’s more WILD than MILD, which is what London winters normally are.

But that’s enough moaning. Time for some optimism to bring on the warmer weather. And what a day I picked to start writing again. The temperature may reach 10 degrees today, and it’s been sunny all morning. And the sun is staying up after 5 pm these days. The dark days–the 3pm sunsets–are over!

As an encouragement for the eminent arrival of warmer days and to celebrate making a deadline today, I made  a Caribbean-style lunch for us. I say Caribbean-style because this particular meal would usually be made with snapper, grouper, or parrot fish–something gotten out of the actual sea– and would come, served with a little sand here and there on a 20-year old plate with cracks on the edges and would be enjoyed while sitting around in the delicious heat with friends or family enjoying a view like this:

Anyway, using the jar of escoveitch pepper sauce that Burgess made at the end of the summer from the hot peppers grown in our garden (with seeds smuggled in from Florida), we had pan fried rainbow trout and festival. Bet no one’s ever done THAT in the Caribbean!

As we spooned out layers of beautiful vinegar-soaked red pepper, onion and scotchies over the sizzling fillets of trout, we had our doubts about whether it would taste ‘right’.

But it was better than right, it was WICKED!!!!!

It was just like we were sitting off at Hellshire or Fort Clarence beach, like in this picture.

We just needed the Red Stripe.

And the heat.

And the beach.

And the sea.

Ok, I’m beginning to lose the thread of optimism here.

We should have taken pictures of our lunch to show you, but we were too hungry to wait!

Recipes

Fried Rainbow Trout

Rinse rainbow trout fillets with vinegar or fresh lemon juice. Then marinate in a mixture of milk, salt, pepper, dried rosemary, and any dried spices you like. Dust on both sides with a batter made of flour, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. I didn’t use eggs (because I didn’t have any) and the batter ‘stuck’ just fine.

Place fillets, skin side down, in a pan with vegetable and olive oil mixture at medium heat. Use enough oil to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Cook both sides of the fish. You’ll know the first side is finished when it starts to curl up and you can see the that the skin is browned.

When finished, drain fillets on paper towels and then place on a plate. Spoon escoveitch sauce generously over the fish, to your taste.

Escoveitch Sauce

Roughly chop these vegetables and place them in a clean, sterilized jar, layering them neatly to make it decorative, if you like. I tend to just chuck them in, but Burgess did this layering thing which made it quite pretty.

  • Onions
  • Scotch bonnet peppers
  • Bell peppers (any colour)
  • Cucumber (optional)

Add allspice berries and stalks of thyme. Top up with white vinegar to cover all of the ingredients. Seal the jar and store at room temperature. Leave to infuse. The taste changes over time, as does the vibrancy of the colours. Open the jar and taste an onion or something once in a while. But be careful!

Festival

In a large mixing bowl, combine some flour (if you must measure it–use about 1/2 cup per person), slightly less cornmeal (about 1/4 cup per person), even less sugar (1 tsp per person) and a sprinkle of salt. Mix dry with a fork to get out all the lumps. Then, SLOWLY drizzle in some water. The idea is to mix it all up with your hands until the dry ingredients are bound together.

I lightly rub some vegetable oil on my hands so the flour mixture doesn’t stick. Once the mixture is bound, you can shape the dough. The most common shape is a long oval. I do a slight variation on this so that I don’t ever have too much soft ‘middle’ in the festival. Pick off handfuls and rub in your palms until it’s in a nice egg shape. Then hold at both ends, pull, then twist a bit. It should look like a twisty pastry or a big cheeto when you’re finished.

Place the festivals in a pan on low-medium heat, the oil heated until sizzling. Brown on all sides, turning often. Take them out when the festivals are brown on all sides and drain on paper towel.

Deadline? What deadline?

November 10, 2009

Is it genius, nonchalance or laziness or some mysterious combination of the three.  .  .   You know, that ‘thing’ that causes one to dawdle about while the important business of invention is knocking at one’s fingertips. Perhaps it’s the naked dread that the thing realised won’t be even a distant cousin to the thing I imagined.

Yes, that’s it. This happens to me a lot when I paint. The disappointment of seeing the shapes of the paint conforming to gravity or the forces of material physics rather than to how one imagined them is positively gut-emptying . Perhaps this explains why I also am behind on my painting project.

Oh, Kate, Kate–this being the part where I have a serious talk with myself–just get over it! You have 20 more days to meet the crazy 50K word count. 20! You promised Oliver (nephew) that book for his first birthday. He’s going to be four soon! OK, that didn’t scare me. I shall have to invent some other tactic.

Trouble is, my brain always has a plan to circumvent itself. Way before my ‘left’ brain, that’s the analytical, sensible side–has figured out how long it will take to complete anything, my true intuitive brain–call this one ‘right-but-SO-wrong’ brain because I have a crap sense of direction anyway–already ‘knows’. ‘SO-wrong’ brain also has a way of sabotaging pretty much everything. For example, I finally made good on my promise to self to go jogging on Sunday despite the cold damp.  .  . well, despite England. When I returned home from said jog, ‘SO-wrong’ brain already had a big plan to thwart my quest for health and fitness, involving sitting on the couch and watching the X Factor results while polishing off nearly an entire bottle of wine. Accidentally, of course.

I guess I just go with it. Anyhow, I promise now. . . back to work. Thanks for writing to my last post, caring friends. I feel your cheering me on in the cyber distance.

Name troubles

November 2, 2009

I began my effort at the 50,000 word-this-month goal this morning, but I’ve been thwarted by a conundrum, if that’s even possible. I’m sort of cheating, going back to a story I started last winter then abandoned at the first sign of good weather. In this story, I have characters whose names are not yet there. I mean that I give them names, but then it doesn’t feel right because the character hasn’t fully been shaped yet. The story is based very loosely on my family’s ancestry. Very loosely. I’m imagining lots of it.

I can’t imagine George Eliot having this problem. She is my favorite Victorian writer and I’m now reading her novel, Silas Marner, the one she liked best. I  finished the first chapter last night. I was so impressed by how she drew the character of Silas Marner–his past, his aspiration, his physical and emotional being–in one short chapter. His name, Silas Marner, already gives him so much character. It’s plain, but uncommon. I’m not sure what a marner is, but I imagined correctly that it comes from some kind of tedious occupation. I was sort of right–he’s a weaver and he lives in the time when one still wove a tale, as in cloth. But he doesn’t seem like a storyteller. He’s very quiet, speaking up only once in the chapter, to defend himself against a grave crime.

And I’ve now spent the better part of the morning trying to find a name for this character who’s been part of my mind for my whole life.

So last year, I found out about this kind of manic writing contest, National Novel Writing Month. It sort of reminded me of the dance-a-thons from Happy Days. You remember when Fonzie and some girl were holding each other up and making out on the dance floor at Big Al’s while everyone else was crashed out on the floor?

This one has to do with producing a goal of 50,000 words in the month of November. In an attempt to reach my goal and not get distracted in a rant as I might usually do, the blog this month will feature excerpts of stuff that I’m writing, questions seeking answers, foggy notions seeking ideas, and so on.

Thanks to those of you who have already encouraged me, checked up on me, etc. I need it!