Saturday, 28 March 2015

"You Learn"

Lemme just squeeze in a short poem of mine, as a prelude to a well-known poem. Okay, I think it's well-known. And not just by many, but by heart. Someone introduced me to it when I was in my late teens. At the time, it was attributed to good ol' Anonymous. Enter, Google. The writer was Veronica Shoffstall - or so I thought. The Keepers of the Knowledge of Rightful Attributions - okay, that's not a thing, but it should be - came to the defence of Jorge Luis Borges, an Argentinian writer, pointing out that his was the beautiful soul that had penned those poignant words. It reminds me of Marianne Williamson's "Our deepest fear..." constantly being attributed to Nelson Mandela. But, I digress. The jury should be back by now on "You Learn". (It's sometimes referred to as After A While.) It's the Internet, who knows? What I am sure of is the high degree of relatabilty that burns within the poem. Well, "high degree of relatability" for some. For others, I think you'll appreciate it, nonetheless.

*squeezes in*

All In My Head

Fool me once - shame on you
Fool me twice - shame on me
Fool me thrice - I must like it when you "fool" me.
For a fourth time? I have been fooling myself.

It was all in my head.

Now, over to you, Jorges. (Yes. #TeamJorges.)

You Learn

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth…

And you learn and learn…

With every good-bye you learn.

 - Jorges Luis Borges


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

When Dogs Fly: Part Deux

I'm reporting cessation of Operation Puppy Immigration.

In my previous post, When Dogs Fly, I mentioned I had submitted an online query on CAL's site for CAL Kingston, and I'd got some quick responses. Gonna get into the exchange a bit more and share the responses. You know? Just in cases.

You'll also see why I've had a change of heart and mind re getting a pup from Jamaica to Canada.

About two hours after submitting the query, I heard from Laura. She requested some more information. I gave her guesstimates. And, as I wasn't sure at the time whether they transported pups younger than 12 weeks, I covered both possibilities – in case I had to wait until she got older:

Kennel for 9-week old puppy approx: 15" (L) x 10" (W) x 12" (H) 
Kennel weight approx: 15 pounds
Puppy weight approx: 15 pounds
Kennel for 5-month old puppy approx: 36" (L) x 25" (W) x 27" (H) 
Kennel weight approx: 20 pounds
Puppy weight approx: 30 pounds

Laura replied about an hour after.

Based on these weights the dogs will have be sent via our cargo service. Please see freight cost below:

9 week old puppy at 14kgs actual / 5kgs dimensional
Freight charge             USD $7.68 x 14kgs    140.00 (minimum)
Fuel Surcharge            USD $0.41 x 14kgs     25.00 (minimum)
Security Surcharge      USD $0.07 x 14kgs      10.00
Airway Bill Fee            USD $9.00                     9.00
Total Charge                                               184.00

5 month old puppy at 23kgs actual / 66kgs dimensional
Freight Charge           USD $7.68 x 66kgs    506.88
Fuel Surcharge           USD $0.41 x 23kgs      25.00 (minimum)
Security Surcharge     USD $0.07 x 66kgs      10.00 (minimum)
Airway Bill Fee           USD $9.00                     9.00
Total Charge                                              550.88

Our flight to Toronto operates three times weekly which are Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Our flight departs at 8:30am and arrives at 12:45pm
All shipment must be booked at least three(3) days prior to actual departure date.

I had just a few more questions. Last set. Honest.

So, would we have to visit your office and book in person, or could that be done by phone? 
It is a non-stop flight. So, she would arrive at 12:45 and we proceed to clear her through customs, etc., on that day. Right?
And, I take it CAL Cargo in Kingston would provide us with all details on where to go to collect her when the flight gets in; where to pay landing, processing and handling fees (I called CAL cargo in Mississauga this morning and they told me about those fees), and Canada Border Services Agency, etc.? 

I sent that in the late afternoon. She replied early the next day.

Yes. Our flight is a non-stop into Toronto.
All paper and customs process will have to done the day before departure.

Documents required for shipping
The dog will have to be fully vaccinated by a private vet. You will receive a letter to take to the government vet and from there you have to obtain an export licence from Trade. Also, you will be required to obtain an import permit from country of destination before the dog can be shipped.
(Note: I recall the person I spoke with at Canada Food Inspection Agency saying Canada does not require an import permit. More on Canada's import requirements here.)

 The Procedure to Air Freight Shipment is as follows:
 1. The dog should be place into a kennel that he be able to move around freely.
 2. You are required to complete three (3) sets of forms which are Instructions for Dispatch of Goods, Tally Sheet and Customs C87, which can be purchased for JMD$100.00
 3. You will then take these forms over to the Customs Manifesting Branch, where they will be processed at a cost of JMD $3005.00. You will then return to our warehouse where your documents will be reviewed for acceptance of your shipment.
 4. Your shipment will then be accepted and weighed. All shipment must be booked as least three (3) days prior to scheduled departure and must be delivered to our warehouse the day before departure.

Note: You will need to have with you a valid ID (Driver's Licence, Passport or National ID) and your TRN.

In order to give the cost to ship the dog, we are going to need the weight of the dog inside the kennel as well as the dimensions of the kennel.

Our Handling Company in Toronto info is as follows:

Contact Person: Emile Lazarus
Swissport Cargo Services
Vista Cargo Center, Core G
Silver Dart Drive,
Mississauga Ontario L5P 1B1
Tel #: 905-673-2468
Mr. Lazarus will be able to assist with information for clearance in Toronto.

Kudos to Laura for her fast responses. I let her know how much I appreciated her helping me. Thanks to her, I made an informed decision.

Sigh. And now you know. "And knowing is half the battle." Yeah. Battle. No kidding!

As I'd hinted, I got cracking on researching other breeds - much smaller breeds (or cross-breeds) to boot! Well, wouldn't you know it? I found one! Sis, Durie, and I went to meet her. She'll be ready to come home in about mid-April or so. 

By the looks of it, as Durie said, she's already everybody's puppy! Lol! Another sis, Kar, has already got some puppy food and treats waiting. Another sis, Lat, sent to say she's...and I quote, "Adorable!" Heh heh. My parents really like her, too. My niece, Kiki, can hardly wait! And, yes, I've shown her pic to one of my friends. "Awww." Lol! Don't you just love the Awwws?  All being well, I'll share a few pics of the first meeting in the next post.

Oh! I've decided to name her Sydney.


Sunday, 8 March 2015

When Dogs Fly

The past week had me learning quite a bit about pets and air travel. Well, specifically, having a pup fly from Jamaica to Canada.

Here's the thing: Rotties here are very expensive. I've heard the suggestions to adopt. I've done some homework and have unearthed nothing favourable. Sigh. I really do love Rotties. So, I thought, why not take one back from Jamaica on my next trip? We - yes, we, as I enjoy the pups vicariously through my parents - have the pleasure of watching the latest litter grow. And, a pleasant surprise followed shortly after that litter: Tara gave birth. Her lone pup is coming along so nicely, due in no small part to Mommy's TLC.

Well, I've been doing some research as I contemplate this move - well, the move to move one of the pups to my humble abode. As it turns out, Jamaica has strict regulations prohibiting pets from travelling on passenger flights. So, pets travel neither in the cabin, nor as checked luggage. Pity. With West Jet, the pup would've had to be older than eight weeks, and the flight would've cost only about CAD$75 - a figure I got just before the rep checked again and brought the bad news about the regulations. And, oh! Jamaica's Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has this to say about exporting dogs and cats. And, it says this about importing dogs and cats.

So, cargo. West Jet doesn't offer cargo service from Jamaica. So, Air Canada? They offer cargo service, but they don't take pets younger than 12 weeks. By the time the rep priced out the shipping cost for an older dog (the approximate age and weight the pup would be on my next visit), it sounded like around $600.

So, CAL, then? (Not Southern California. Do keep up. :-))  CAL offers cargo service and they take pups younger than 12 weeks. I called their Mississauga, Ontario, office and a very helpful Emile walked me through the process. Well, as much as he could "from this side." Learned that they'd charge landing, processing and handling fees. He recommended I get in touch with CAL cargo in Kingston, Jamaica, to find out a bit about the process from their side.

I did. I completed the online query form and got a reply from Laura via email shortly after. That was precious. She needed clarification and I had a few other questions. All in all, it was a very helpful exchange. I had to approximate the dimensions of the carrier/kennel - ditto for the pups - but, the long and short, a nine-week old pup would perhaps cost about $180; a five-month old, approx $500. Again, based on my best guesses. The plan was to visit or call once I got there and could provide more concrete info.

The carrier/kennel would need to follow certain guidelines, by the way. I'm sharing West Jet's pets/kennels page because they were pretty thorough in their write up. Of note, the carrier should be strong and sturdy; the pet must be able to stand up, turn around, and lay down, without discomfort. Many airlines make a quick reference to the IATA standards.

But, back to Ontario, Canada. I checked online and subsequently called the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Importation of live animals falls within their jurisdiction. The age of the dog would be a factor. I wouldn't need a rabies certificate for a pup younger than three months. I'd need a vet certificate, as well as a document from a "competent government authority" confirming the country of origin was rabies-free for the six months prior. Jamaica is rabies-free. It's listed on the site. Still, the document would be necessary. Of course, there'd be the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)  inspection fees.

I have also been checking out boarding for when I'd have to leave the little one at home. All these things. Oakville has a nice little place - Wag-a-Way - I would consider...considering when that time comes.

Who knows? I might opt for getting another breed altogether - from here! In the meantime, a trip down memory lane:

Tara's a great mom!

Scoot over! Tara and pups.

Gettn some "me time".

Who's their daddy? (Dreadie)


Saturday, 28 February 2015

Poetry on the GO

There's always something to write about. It's amazing how, once you put pen to paper, or finger tips to keyboard, the words come. They sometimes come in poetry; they sometimes come in prose. But, however they do, they come.

Not too long ago, as I sat aboard a GO train headed for Union Station in Toronto, I noticed a familiar gesture. The woman who sat across from me stared out the window. Her reflection fused with oncoming trees, cars, and buildings. I faced the direction of the train; she did not.

It came to me then, as it had so many times before, that I could use even a seemingly mundane thing as a springboard for a story.
Plus, I take the train so often, I'm bound to fimd gems - if I take the time to notice.

That morning, the words came in poetry. I knew the title immediately. That I would call the collection "Poetry on the GO" came later.

And, while I do not yet have that collection, per se - actually, only one poem so far - I know the others will come. Here now is the first from the...collection.

Tears On A Train

She sat looking out the window 
Of the LSW Train 
Something must've been boiling 
Because, tears came.

She searched her back for tissue 
None was to be found 
So, instead of looking out 
She started looking down. 


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Good Times

My 6yo niece, Kiki spent Valentine's Day Eve with me. Yes. If it wasn't a thing before, it is now. She was off from school because of PA day. I was off from work because I'm an adult and can do whatever I want. Umm. No. Not really. I took time off.

And what a joyous day it was! The child is a treat. I was treated to gems from the back seat of the car. And at the mall. And at home. They went a little something like these...

She: You know why I like Valentime's Day?
Me: ValentiNe's.
She: ValentiNe's. I have a problem with that word.
Me: Apparently. Go on.
She: On ValentiNe's Day, there's so much love. And gifts.
Me: Yeah, for someone special.
She: Well, for anybody, as long as you can give.

As we drove:

She: I was wondering, do you have a Valentine's Day gift for me?
Me: Umm, yes. We`re going home to prepare Ackee & Saltfish - and Festival!
She: Yes! This is the best Valentine's Day ever!

We stopped at the mall because I needed to. Really. Before attending to the purpose for the visit, however, I had to make a small detour into Shoppers. As it turned out, they had gone all...Valentiney. There were stuffed toys, chocolate, and stuffed toys with chocolate...everywhere! Kiki was like, well, she was a kid in a candy store. As we walked down one aisle, (alas, I had given in to her plea for "just one Valentine's Day present"), I heard her behind me:

She: I love you.
Me: I love you to, sweetie.
She: Oh, I wasn't saying I love you to you. I was reading the card on that toy.
Me: -_-
She: But, I love you too.
Me: I love you too. Hmph! Okay, let's pick a toy.

We went from one aisle to the another comparing toys - and prices. At some point, she started repeating after me, "These prices are ridiculous!" I decided to tone it down.

We finally narrowed it down to three little stuffed animals. Little. We had no idea what the price was for one of them. The cashier was gonna have to help us decide. Or so I thought. As soon as the cashier let us know that two of them were Beanie Babies, my niece was beside herself with excitement!

She: Okay. Okay. You choose.
Me: Which one do you want?
She: Just choose for me, please!

I related to her dilemma. Faced with the hard choice, she'd be there all day. So, I chose the purple and white giraffe - don't ask - and earned the title: Best Aunty for the Day. Booyah! (Smart girl. She's very careful with her superlatives re her aunts. She has several. Aunts - and superlatives.)

The icing on the cake at the mall, though, came after I'd completed the business I'd really stopped in for. Now, a new store is coming soon and it'll be on the ground floor. As part of the promotion, there's a ceiling-to-floor picture of a model's face. Standing next to it, Kiki looked rather small. I guess she was fascinated by that. She asked me to take a pic. I did. We made our way around the corner and there it was again - the model's face in larger-than-life depiction.

She: Aunty! Look!
[I turned to see what the excitement was about.]
Me: Eeeww!

I suspended my mild disgust long enough to take a pic. After all, it was the funniest thing I'd seen in a long time!

We got home and ate and watched Ever After High and did some story-telling - with the toys as characters - voice-overs and all. Before her afternoon nap, I wanted to capture the day with both of us, so I told her I wanted a selfie. (We were lounging on the couch, rocking our "bed hair".) I showed her the first shot, expressing my dismay at the state of my hair.

She: It's not important what our hair looks like. What is important is that we're spending time together.
Me: Yeah. You're right.

She was right. So, I have a pic with Kiki where we're both rocking our "bed hair".

Good times. Good times.


Sunday, 8 February 2015

And They're Off!

In a rather unceremonious way last evening, I submitted the manuscript for my anthology of poems to a publisher for review. It wasn't that it was anti-climactic. Rather, it was that the time had come and it was the thing to do.

I've talked a bit about the writing journey, and the recent steps toward the publication of my poems, in a previous post entitled...wait for it...wait for it...Yep! You guessed it. "Fourteen To Fortyish: The Formative Years" An Intro - of sortsFurther to that, I did more work on that body of work. I heeded the points and perspective Daniel was so brutal, yet so gracious, to share. Yes, I cut and clarified and snipped and smoothed accordingly. There were only a few instances where I parted ways with a suggested change in wording or phrasing. I was happy with them as I'd written them.

After working on the anthology for a while longer, I realized there was nothing truly stopping me from making that next step. Nothing, that is, except for the (expected?) angst of letting my poems go; setting them free into the world, and wondering how they would fare. After all, I'd been writing and compiling for decades. Still, I couldn't coddle them forever. I could keep adding a comma here and removing another there; add a space here; break a stanza there, and so on. But, it began to feel like stalling.

So, at some point, I decided February was the month to get some writing projects off my plate. I wrote a piece - well, edited and tailored a blog piece - for submission to a newspaper. I got that done last Monday. We'll see how it fares. I then turned my thoughts to the poems. A day or two later, I revisited the web site of the publisher I'd been in touch with - making inquiries and such. A day or so after that, I got an email touching base, wondering how my manuscript was going. Well, clearly, it was time. It is said writers don't need time; they need a deadline. So, I set the deadline - yesterday - and promised I'd submit it on February 7, 2015.

And, that's what I did!

I went over each of them one last time. I still made a few changes to the three or four of them I'd highlighted to revisit. By the time I was through, I was happy with those, too. I am yet to write the acknowledgements. But, I'd been assured that could come later. And, speaking of acknowledgements, even as I added the finishing touches, I got a little cheering on from sis, Durie. You know, I need to make a list. Really don't want to miss the folks I should acknowledge. I'm also working on a cover that properly conveys the coming of age/journey of life/character catch my drift. In the meantime, I'll be reaching out to three or or four people who've written some heartwarming things about my poems. I hope to get their permission to quote them on the back cover.

When the time came to hit Submit, I decided not to overthink it. I had done a lot of thinking and reading and praying, and even more thinking and reading and praying. It was simply time to do it. I let 'em go - for the publisher's review.

Of a truth, there's also been that feeling of wanting to make way for something new. Yes, life spared, there will be more poems. I'm thinking they will be borne of requited love. Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts. The last section of this anthology speaks to hope. I shared one of the poems from that section in the previous post. I think the next poetry book will continue in the vein where this one left off. Hope is a good thing.

And now, we wait.


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

"Back to Life"

What's a new year without poetry? C'mon. There's always room for poetry. Back to Life was written...ok, I won't say when it was written. Let's just say it's on the sunny side of Without the Kill. Because, well, seasons change.

Back to Life

I thought I had
No more strength or time for love
Until you came
I made the time
Your love gave me strength.

I wanted more of you
Wanting me
You said I gave you hope
By just being me.

In your eyes I see
How you take pleasure
In pleasing me
My love, no need to fear
Losing me at all.

For the first time
No second thoughts
Your strong arms
And long kisses
Comforted me home.

Your words wooed me
Your actions moved me
Into the new me
As you loved me
Back to life.

- Dnafcnatgada