Lessons from Nature: Adapting to Change

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Section of my succulent garden

 

The succulent plants in my garden brighten my life. During humanity’s mad dash towards the abyss, their quiet dynamic presence calm my troubled mind. Under California’s scorching sunshine that set dry brush ablaze, my succulent plants have found a way to survive the extreme heat. Some change color; others become more compact in form.

“Flap Jack” or Paddle Plant – Parent plant under heat stress

“Flap Jack” or Paddle Plant – Area of little direct sunlight
Grown from cuttings from parent plant

 

Given their amazing ability to propagate from cuttings, I’ve planted succulents in several garden plots of our apartment complex. I marvel at their adaptation to different soil quality and amount of sunlight.

Aeonium “Mint Saucer” – Area with full sunlight

Aeonium “Mint Saucer” – Little sunlight during early morning

 

The adverse effects of our climate and ecological crises will intensify in the years ahead. It’s already happening here in California. People who have lost their homes in areas ravaged by wildfires must now question the viability of staying and rebuilding. This is also the case for areas facing prolonged drought and frequent flooding.

My birthplace in Georgetown, Guyana, is also under threat. The Guyanese Online Blog recently posted a video (duration 2:04 minutes) demonstrating the gravity of the situation.

Source: Guyanese Online Blog

 

A time is coming—perhaps, sooner than we envisage—when people everywhere across our country and planet will be on the move. Pulling up our roots and resettling in different lands is nothing new for our species. But the climate and ecological changes already underway will demand much more of us.

Like the succulents, will our species adapt to surviving on less water, on less food? How will we adapt to living on a hotter planet?

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Thought for Today: There is nothing weak about being honorable.

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Excerpt from Former President Barack Obama’s Eulogy honoring Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland:

[T]here is nothing weak about kindness and compassion. There is nothing weak about looking out for others. There is nothing weak about being honorable. You are not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect…

“The cost of doing nothing isn’t nothing,” [Elijah] would say, and folks would remember why they entered into public service. “Our children are the living messengers we send to a future we will never see,” he would say, and he would remind all of us that our time is too short not to fight for what’s good and what is true and what is best in America.

Two hundred years to 300 years from now, [Elijah] would say, people will look back at this moment and they will ask the question “What did you do?” And hearing him, we would be reminded that it falls upon each of us to give voice to the voiceless, and comfort to the sick, and opportunity to those not born to it, and to preserve and nurture our democracy.

~ Read the complete text of Barack Obama’s Eulogy for Elijah Cummings, published in The Atlantic, October 25, 2019.

News Update ~ Under the Tamarind Tree: A Novel

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Readers who use the Apple iPhone or iPad can now buy the iBook version of Under the Tamarind Tree: A Novel by Rosaliene Bacchus.

 

Other News

I’ve recently received the following e-mail from a friend in Los Angeles who has been a great supporter of my work.

Under the Tamarind Tree
From: Eileen Xxxxxx (e-mail address)
To: rosalienebacchus
Date: Friday, October 18, 2019, 6:37 PM PDT

Hi Rose,
Based on your short story collection, I am really looking forward to reading your first novel!!!
Thanks for being the great writer that you are. I love your work!!
Wishing you the very best.
Eileen

Eileen is a retired public school teacher and private tutor.

 


Dear Reader, my debut novel, Under the Tamarind Tree, is now available at Rosaliene’s Store on Lulu.com and other book retailers at Amazon, BAM! Book-A-Million, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, and Indie Bound.

Learn more about Under the Tamarind Tree at Rosaliene’s writer’s website.

Get over it, America!

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The Picture of Dorian Gray – Painting by Ivan Albright – 1943
Based on the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1891)
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

 

Get over it, America! I’m doing nothing wrong. It’s all legitimate. It’s what privileged families and corporations have been doing for generations. Because we can. Money can buy anything and anyone. 

Get over it, America! For generations, our corporations have expanded across the world, exploiting, and amassing wealth so that you can live the American Dream. 

Get over it, America! I’m the only one who can save America from its enemies. I’m the chosen one. I’m a stable genius. I know what’s best for America. Don’t believe the fake news: It’s a witch hunt.  

 

Instead of draining the swamp in Washington DC, as promised, our president has forced us into the swamp with him. He exposes the foul depths of the soul of our nation—much like The Picture of Dorian Gray—in which we the body politic are co-conspirators by our complicity, negligence, or silence. Hate disfigures our countenance. Cruelty shrivels our heart. Greed drags us down to the deep.

There’s no getting over the onslaught we now face daily. But we can say, “enough.” We can seek the light of reason, truth, and justice.    

“A Simple Man” – Poem by Caribbean Poet Ian McDonald

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Front Cover: People of Guyana by Ian McDonald and Peter Jailall
Photo Credit: MiddleRoad Publishers/Canada

 

My Poetry Corner October 2019 features the poem “A Simple Man” by Ian McDonald from the joint poetry collection, People of Guyana, by Ian McDonald and Peter Jailall. Born in the Caribbean island of Trinidad in 1933, Ian McDonald is a poet, novelist, dramatist, and non-fiction writer. After moving to then British Guiana in 1955, he made his home there. Today, he lives partly in his adopted homeland and partly in Canada.

Born into a white family of power and privilege, the young Ian fell in love with literature and writing as a schoolboy. In 1955, after graduating from Cambridge University in England with a Bachelor’s Honors Degree in History, he began working with Bookers Ltd., then owners of the British Guiana sugar estates. When the company was nationalized in 1976, McDonald remained as the Administrative Director of the newly formed Guyana Sugar Corporation until his retirement in 1999.

On one of those days while working with Guyana’s sugar estates, McDonald visited Betty, a former sugarcane laborer, “an old woman in a run-down logie room,” to get details for her resettlement. In his heart-wrenching poem, “Betty,” the poet captures her long life of deprivation, forgotten by society.

she said her life was nothing to her
she said all women’s lives were as nothing
no one had been pleased when she was born
she was sure of that boys were princes 

Once married, she had been abandoned by her husband for another woman, eventually ending up “with old women in this place.” Betty didn’t want to move. They were the only people she knew. Continue reading

More Praise for UNDER THE TAMARIND TREE: A NOVEL

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French Canadian blogger Sha’Tara, blogging at Burning Woman, has posted the following review of my novel Under the Tamarind Tree on my blog: 

I finished reading “Under the Tamarind Tree” last night, or should I say early this morning. I was halfway through when I began reading last night and past midnight there were still a hundred pages to go so I shut down and got ready for bed but I couldn’t let go of the story, got up, booted up and read until I got to the end. Must have been about 2:00 AM.
What a story! So well told. One doesn’t need to be back-grounded in Guyana history to read your novel, the history tells itself throughout. The characters are believable and constant. What a movie your story would make.
Your novel is a “can’t put it down” writing. I’ve read thousands of novels over the years as time constraints forced me to learn speed reading and I can tell you that “Under the Tamarind Tree” ranks up there with the best of them if not actually at the very top. I’m amazed, honestly. I know I shouldn’t be but this took me like a whirlwind. Only one thing disappointed me: it ended way too soon.
Thank you for opening a window of life on another part of the planet I know so little about.
Posted on October 9, 2019

 

I have also received the following e-mail from Amanda Khan, a Guyanese American, who received a copy of my novel as a gift.

Wonderful Book!

Amanda Khan <e-mail address>
Thu 10/10/2019 3:13 PM 

Hi Rosaliene Bacchus! I enjoyed your book “Under the Tamarind Tree” very much. I loved the simplicity of the story. It brought back so much memories to me. I couldn’t put the book down. I love Richard lol A man that loved his wife unconditionally, he was determined to accomplish his dreams no matter what. He acknowledged when he was wrong yet he kept pressing on towards his goals. The humor in this book is outrageous! I love it. Well done Rosaliene Bacchus!  

Amanda

 

I appreciate all the wonderful and positive responses about my debut novel. My protagonist Richard Cheong would be very pleased 🙂

 

The Writer’s Life: Juggling Priorities

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Since entering the world of book publishing, marketing and sales, I’m now engaged in a daily battle of juggling priorities. My focus has become so scattered that I’ve fallen behind with my writing projects. Hopefully, I’ll come up soon with a new working schedule that would provide some balance and reduce my stress.

It’s not all bad, though. At our writers’ critique group meeting on September 4th, I presented a copy of my novel to the owner of Gloria’s Café. For the past five years, our group has been meeting once monthly at Gloria’s where we enjoy their Mexican and Salvadoran cuisine.

Rosaliene presenting copy of novel to Gloria, owner of Gloria’s Café
West Los Angeles – Southern California – September 4, 2019

 

My thanks go out to blogger, Larry “Dutch” Woller On The Path Least Traveled, for purchasing my novel.

Blogger Larry “Dutch” Woller
Photo Credit: On The Path Least Traveled Blog

 

More thanks go to the Iranian Canadian, award-winning author, Laleh Chini, for her five-star rating and review of my novel. Here’s her praise for Under the Tamarind Tree: A Novel on Amazon:

5.0 out of 5 stars What a great read.
October 1, 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
What a great read dear Rosaline, well, of course, I wasn’t surprised after being your blog’s fan. You deserve the five stars indeed.
Lalehchini.com
 

The eBook version of my novel, Under the Tamarind Tree, is now available at the following distribution outlets:

Rosaliene’s Store at Lulu

Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble Nook

Rakuten Kobo

I’m awaiting news from my publisher about the resolution of an issue preventing distribution to Apple’s iBookstore. Continue reading

Earth in Crisis: We need another narrative

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There is no wealth on a dead planet
Global Climate Strike 2019 – New York City – USA
Photo Credit: Common Dreams

 

On Friday, September 20, 2019, millions of young people and supporting adults in more than 150 countries took part in the Global Climate Strike, calling on decision-makers to take immediate action to address our global climate crisis. I’m heartened that sixteen-year-old, Swedish environmentalist activist, Greta Thunberg, has awakened our youth to the future that awaits them.

“It’s just not the young people’s house,” Thunberg told the thousands of participants gathered in New York City. “We all live here. It affects all of us. Why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us? That is being stolen for profit? Some people say we should study to become climate scientists or politicians, so that we can, in the future, solve the climate crisis. But by then, it will be too late. We need to do this now.” (Emphasis mine.)

Three days later, at the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, in his opening remarks, reminded the global decision-makers present:

“The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win. This is not a climate talk summit. We have had enough talk. This is not a climate negotiation summit. You don’t negotiate with nature. This is a climate action summit.” (Emphasis mine.) Continue reading

“Mexican Heaven” – Poem by Mexican American Poet José Olivarez

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Front Cover: Poetry Collection, Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez

 

My Poetry Corner September 2019 features the poem “Mexican Heaven” from the poetry collection Citizen Illegal (Haymarket Books, 2018) by José Olivarez, a poet, teacher, and poetry slam performer. Born in Calumet City on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, he is the son of Mexican immigrants. Despite all the odds, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University.

Olivarez’s first contact with poetry occurred through his high school’s poetry slam team. Their poetry had a profound impact on him. In a conversation with Jessica Hopper in July 2018, Olivarez said, “It made me feel like I could question more.” For the first time, he saw a way of becoming his true self, other than the reserved person everyone wanted him to be.

In his poem, “I Tried to Be a Good Mexican Son,” he shares his parents’ disappointment that he didn’t become a doctor, lawyer, or businessman.

I even went to college. But i studied African American studies which is not
The Law or The Medicine or The Business. my mom still loved me.
[…]
i tried to be a good Mexican son. Went to a good college & learned depression isn’t just for white people…
Continue reading

11 September 2001: “Guyanese Roll Call” by Peter Jailall

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Caribbean immigrants remember loved ones at the 9/11 memorial on September 11, 2018
Photo Credit: News Americas

 

On September 11, we will remember all those we have lost on that ill-fated day when a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City turned the world-famous landmark into rubble.

I was living in Brazil when the tragedy occurred, sending a tsunami across the world. More than ninety other nations also lost loved ones that day, including three Brazilian-Americans and twenty-six Guyanese-Americans.

In his poem, “Guyanese Roll Call,” Guyanese-Canadian poet Peter Jailall remembers his twenty-six countrymen and women who died on that day. Their American Dream had been suddenly cut short.

Listen to our roll call
Of those who died
On that dreadful September day,
Following their American Dream: 

Patrick Adams
Leslie Arnold Austin
Rudy Bacchus
Kris Romeo Bishundauth
Pamela Boyce
Annette Datarom
Babita Guman
Nizam Hafiz
Ricknauth Jhagganauth
Charles Gregory Jolin
Bowanie Devi Kemraj
Sarab Khan
Amerdauth Luchman
Shevonne Meutis
Narendra Nath
Marcus Neblett
Hardai Parbhu
Ameena Rasool
Shiv Sankar
Sita Sewnarine
Karini Singh
Rosham Singh
Astrid Sohan
Joyce Stanton
Patricia Staton
Vanava Thompson 

These are our dedicated,
Hard-working country people,
Who travelled from South to North
To savour just a small bite
Of the Big Apple. 

We will always remember them.

Source: Poetry Collection, People of Guyana by Ian McDonald and Peter Jailall, MiddleRoad Publishers, Canada, 2018.

 

While violent anti-immigrant activism spread across America, let us remember that Guyanese and other Caribbean immigrant families also share our nation’s grief for loved ones lost on September 11, 2001.

 


Peter Jailall is a teacher, poet, and storyteller. He has published five books of poetry. In 2011, he received the Marty’s Award for Established Literary Arts in Mississauga, Ontario, where he lives. Since his retirement, Jailall has conducted workshops on Poetry Writing in schools across Guyana and Canada.