Island Soul City Dreams

I love New York, but my heart has a Caribbean beat. It pulsates to the traditions of my people. Attuned to the rhythms of this City, I stay West Indian to the bone. I reflect. I analyze. I speak my mind. ~ I Keep it Irie ~

Archive for the tag “St. Vincent and the Grenadines”

RIP: Remembering My Grandmother, Who Died Thanksgiving Day 2016

with-gran

The last time I saw my granny alive: At her house in St. Vincent and the Grenadines 2013.

My granny would grind cocoa beans and make cocoa sticks rich with cinnamon and all the good spices and send them from her home in St. Vincent to my mom in Barbados. She’d instruct my mom, “Send some for Maquita in New York .” I’d boil my water, drop in my cocoa stick, add some milk and a lil sugar and it’d make for the best homemade hot chocolate in the world!

I last saw my grandmother this month three years ago when I visited her for a week on the idyllic island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the place where my maternal navel string is buried. She’s not one for much chatting, but y’all know I’m little chatterbox, so I sure got her chatting. We talked about everything from how she currently spent her days to reminiscing about her childhood and young adult years. Most of it was marked by hard work, parenting, scarcely an idle moment, and every day spending time reading her Bible and giving God thanks.

On the penultimate day of my visit, while in the nation’s capital, Kingstown, I called and asked granny to make me her famous Johnny Cake (aka dough boy). It was almost 5 o’clock in the evening, “She responded, uh now yuh uh call fi Johnny cake? Is late, yuh see di time?” Anyway, she said to bring her a few pounds of flour and she’ll bake ’em for me.

Almost three hours later I got back to her house with about 10 lbs of flour. 🙈 But before I could step inside, I was greeted by a delicious aroma coming from the kitchen. Granny had gone ahead and used whatever flour she had and made me not one, not two, but three large Johnny cakes, that way I’d have enough to take some back to NYC. It was the best Johnny cake I’ve ever had. And not merely because of granny’s skills and secret recipe, but because my grandmother made everything with love.

As I left her house that November afternoon, I repeatedly hugged and kissed her, told her that I loved her and that I’d soon see her again. My grandmother looked me in the eye and said, “Girl, yuh nah see me again.” And then she too said she loved me.

Granny was right. This morning, I awoke to the heartbreaking news that my grandmother, Doreen Peters, 87, a dedicated wife of more than 50 years (predeceased by her husband) a loving mother of 11 (predeceased by one son), a doting granny to countless of us, a matriarch of her village and more than anything, a devout woman of faith, went quietly to be with her Lord and saviour.

So on this Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks for this incredible woman that helped impart in me a spirit of generosity, selflessness, strong discipline, work ethic and enduring faith in God. This woman who was the best mother to the best mother I could ask for, Victoria Peters.

Granny, I will miss you sorely. I will miss calling you and hearing the excitement in your voice when you realize it’s me, I will miss your laugh, your soft spoken voice and you always encouraging me to keep the faith. I love you to infinity. Say hi to my granddad and my Uncle Moses . May you Rest In Peace and rise in glory. 😢😘

~ I Keep it Irie ~

Not Me And Dat Eating Thing

My dear friend Hazel in Barbados often says: “When it comes to eating, I ent busy!” Like her, I feel the same. Well, for the most. I’m not a greedy girl and don’t accept service from any and everybody, but I do enjoy some good eating. Anyone who knows me is aware of my passion for the culinary arts and I’m especially thrilled when I meet a man that’s equally passionate. There are a few things as sexy as a man versed in this area. Ever since my first boyfriend showed off his amazing skills on me and served up the most mind-blowing treat, I have been sold on the idea that when it comes to eating, I’d rather relax and let a guy do the work. Read more…

Why I Call Mine, ‘Bajan Brown Sugar’

The one thing I am most proud of is my Bajan Brown Sugar.  If yours were as sweet as mine, you would be boasting too. Even as a little girl, I knew I was blessed with something special and over the years, many men and even women have lauded me on this priceless asset. Their actions alone indicate how they feel, but they further reassure me with words like “what you have is a true treasure.” It’s amazing the things they all do for me – just because of my Bajan Brown Sugar.

I have heard many people; especially men call theirs all kinds of names. After all, that’s their prized possession. Read more…

Freshly-Baked Homemade Bread, Anyone?

Bajan salt bread hot out the oven.

It is rare for me to buy bread. Not because I don’t like it or as some folks would say, “I’m trying to not eat too much flour,” but because I bake my own bread. It is a family tradition dating back several generations. My maternal grandparents hail from lovely St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where unlike my homeland Barbados, it is commonplace for families to bake their own bread. All 11 of my grandparents’ children and their children bake bread. I grew up watching my mother make every type of Caribbean bread, cake, pastry etc, and her skills were so stellar, neighbors offered to pay her to bake. Baking thus became a key aspect of her livelihood. Mommy didn’t sell everything she baked though; she would often take some to church and share with members of the congregation, drop off a few by a friend’s house or call and invite them over for the freshly baked goodies. If that wasn’t enough, she’d cut me a handful of slices to take to school and share with my friends, and package some for my favorite teacher or the principal. Years later, when I started working as a reporter, she would send similar treats for my colleagues, many of whom became her loyal customers.

I can still remember my first time baking bread. Read more…

I Got Mail – A Handwritten Letter!

Dear Aunty: A handwritten letter from my nephew, Nicholai.

As I do must days, as usual, I got mail today. But it wasn’t the usual mail. Okay, maybe my Verizon mobile bill was part of the usual mail, as was the alumni correspondence from grad school, but the “via air mail” envelope with a postage stamp from Barbados – that was definitely unusual. Breaking the seal, I opened far more sunshine than beautiful Barbados boasts in its 365-day-a-year of sea and sun. I opened a handwritten letter from Nicholai, my 10 year-old nephew. The first thing that grabbed my attention was his impeccable penmanship. From the carefully poised address and date in the upper right corner, to his salutation, “Dear Aunty,” to his endearing sentiments and descriptive storytelling, I marveled at Nicholai’s expertise with ink. But what impressed me most was the clarity with which he expressed his feelings and his command of the English language: grammar, syntax, punctuation etc. In this digital era where crafting thoughts can now be encapsulated in tweets of 140 characters via a computer, tablet or mobile device, these skills exhibited by Nicholai and in particular, the handwritten letter are almost seen as a dying art. Read more…

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I love New York, but my heart has a Caribbean beat. It pulsates to the traditions of my people. Attuned to the rhythms of this City, I stay West Indian to the bone. I reflect. I analyze. I speak my mind. ~ I Keep it Irie ~