Introducing the Tines that Bind

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Hello! How are you this fine Sunday? It’s fine in The Bahamas anyway. And I have a little extra pep in my step thanks to the time change. You too? This extra hour will soon be lost in the whole ‘shorter day’ thing, but right now it’s making a world of difference.

Remember those times when I mentioned having a new project, and telling you about it eventually? That time is now haha. I’ve started a food blog! It’s called the Tines that Bind, and it explores the way food shapes place and relationships. You can imagine that the first part of my inspiration came because I love food. The second part came from loving this (Bahamian) landscape, this community, and wanting to make it real to non-Bahamians.

The Bahamas isn’t just a tourist destination. People – I – live the mundane and the frustrating and the joyful here too. I hope that in sharing recipes and talking about the everyday things that becomes clearer to readers around the world. Moreover, I consume a lot of food media and have often wondered where ‘my’ voice was in the conversation, why people weren’t talking about the food that I see around me and grew up eating. Initially I figured someone more qualified would get to it at some point, but then I realised since I was the one wondering I could also be the one writing!

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I went to an exhibition opening at our national art gallery over the summer. During the artists’ talk one of them said that there’s something about our (Bahamian/Caribbean) landscape that erases us as people in the psyche of everyone else in the world. That’s the poetic version of what I’m talking about. I felt people around me nodding in agreement, and I know at least one other person wrote his statement down. We want to feel seen, and taken seriously, and not just because we have lovely places for you to stay or have your destination wedding.

As I travel I plan to include food stories from the places I visit as well. The word tines refers to the prongs on a fork (or animals’ antlers) and in the bigger picture I’m thinking about how food is one of the great equalisers. We all have to eat! Whether we live in a powerful city or dreamy paradise. We all have different customs around preparing and eating food. I’m excited to learn some of these traditions and then share them on my blog.

So there you have it! The project I’ve been working on for the last few months. I hope you’ll go and check it out, and maybe become a follower! I still plan to write here, although I’m not sure what that’s going to look like in the long term. I do know that I love how easy and relaxing it is. On an ideal day, I wake up on a Sunday morning excited to write something, and then after an hour or so I’m done. I look for a photo from my gallery or on the web and then come back a few hours later to reread and post. Voila! TiB (Tines that Bind) isn’t nearly as simple. In fact, for any professional and/or veteran bloggers who may be reading, I’d appreciate any tips you have!

Have a great Sunday and a wonderful week. I hope to see you on the TiB side of things! ūüôā

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Nearly Two Decades Later, Finally Finishing LOTR

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Photo by Andres Iga on Unsplash

The first time I tried to read the Lord of the Rings I was in 6th grade. I had an enormous copy that was a pain to lug around and just as cumbersome to page through – like my copy of War and Peace.¬†I never made it past the first volume. I don’t even think I made it halfway through the first volume. But I loved The Hobbit¬†and felt that I could love LOTR too, if I just gave it time.¬†Well, there’s been lots of time. I picked up the book again this summer, and I am thrilled with it.

LOTR has been sort of haunting me (and I’ve been running away from possible spoilers) all of my life. I know so many people who have read it and been left with a lasting, positive impression. The senior pastor of my church in NY made many a reference to the epic in his sermons. LOTR is also all over the place in pop culture; not in an overwhelming way, but enough to continue to taunt me with the mystery of the references.¬†Then of course there are the movies. People love the movies! But I have steadfastly refused to watch them, because I knew that I wanted to read the book first.

I couldn’t just read¬†any copy though. Whenever I went into a bookstore I’d go looking for the epic to see what the covers they sold looked like. Once the movies came out there were cinematic versions everywhere, which ruled all those out. Another quirk of mine is not liking to own books with the movie characters on their covers; you too? So I waited until new covers, or pretty used covers, made their way back onto shelves. Then I dithered over those, and the difference between some manageable one volume copies and other three volume series, and whether I was ready to commit.

Surely you’re tired of hearing of all this now. Suffice it to say I had an elaborate form of procrastination. Years and years went by, and still I wanted to read LOTR before I died. It was at the top of my two-item list, ahead of War and Peace,¬†which I trudged through last year.

Finally, this summer I bought ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’¬†and ‘The Return of the King’ from Strand in NY. Life is short! And it was past time, if I was serious about reading the book. They had used copies, with covers that I liked, in great condition. There wasn’t a matching one from the publisher for ‘The Two Towers’¬†(quirk alert!), but the kind salesperson helped me place an order for the next time that cover came in.

With that, I was ready.  It took a bit of coaxing to get me started Рwas there time enough left in the year to get through the whole thing? What if I wanted to take a break in between each volume and read something else? Ugh Gabrielle just.get.started! РI sighed at myself. And so, I did.

I heard from a couple of people that it was slow going in the beginning – maybe that’s why I couldn’t finish the first time – and I was prepared to push through until things got better. The heads up wasn’t necessary. I was hooked from the first chapter, and as I kept going became even more so. Now I’m frustrated with all the responsibilities that get in the way of my reading time!

I’m so happy I decided to get on with it. It’s hard to imagine how dull I found the book before, but I suppose being a child had plenty to do with it. (Although yes! I know people who read it when they weren’t much older than I was.)

I know this is hardly a review, but I’ll put this quick plug in now and say if you like epics, or fantasies, then LOTR is for you! I don’t even really read either genre, and I still think LOTR is amazing for Tolkien’s incredible vision and storytelling. Also, as a Harry Potter fan it’s very cool to see character and plot parallels between that series and LOTR.

If you’ve read the book leave me a (spoiler-less) comment! I’d love to nerd out with you about it. I finished reading ‘The Two Towers’¬†in the middle of the night two nights ago, and was squirming and freaking out over Shelob and that plot twist I was totally not ready for. Agghh!

Here and There: Pictures from My Days

I carry my (uncle’s) camera everywhere with me now. It lives on the floor of the passenger seat of my car, on hand for whenever I see something picture-worthy. Here are some of the snaps I’ve taken lately:

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There are butterflies are everywhere these days – these orange ones in particular – way more than there used to be when I was younger. I asked friends about this and they confirmed – more butterflies! No one has any ideas why though. If you do let me know in the comments! In any event, it’s lovely seeing them flying around. ¬†They’re not ¬†skittish either, like other animals that run away when you get close. When I took this shot I might as well have been invisible for all the attention the butterflies paid me.

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I’m not sure what kind of flowers these are, but the butterflies were flying around them, so they ended up in my shoot too.

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This is my grandmother! I love her I love her. We went out for her birthday a few weeks ago, first to a studio to take pictures together, then for lunch. This is the back patio of the restaurant, where I wanted to take more pictures of her. She stood for only a few shots before insisting that she take pictures of me. She’d never used a DSLR before this moment, and what’s missing here is our conversation about the viewfinder and me reminding her where to find the shutter button. She posed me just how she liked, and I was surprised at how nicely the pictures came out. I probably shouldn’t have been though, when she was younger she used to model for a photographer so she’s had plenty of practice! I couldn’t resist taking a picture of her with my phone, which prompted her to ask, “Are you taking pictures or am I?” Haha.

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This is Collins Avenue, an historic street in one of the busier parts of the island. In the last century there was a 10 foot high wall on one side of the street, running for two miles around the boundary of millionaire Collins’ property. The wall physically divided wealthy white Bahamians from poor black ones, and it caused injuries when those poorer people climbed the wall to get to work rather than walking all the way round. The saddest and most famous of these stories is that of a pregnant woman who lost her baby in her climb.

Now as you see the wall is gone (for the most part) and this is simply a beautiful street lined with poinciana trees. At the height of summer, when the trees were all in flower, it was a gorgeous riot of red. I took pictures of it then, but now that summer has ended – though we don’t really have an autumn – I think it’s just as beautiful with the leafy green branches. I don’t know who planted these trees, but I’m thankful for their vision! Driving down this avenue is a real treat.

 

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Flexin While His Hands Up

christopher-campbell-33411Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

My youngest brother was in a bodybuilding competition last night, his first ever. Well, technically he was in the physique category, which is for less muscled people, but you get the idea. He signed up months ago, then yesterday morning my mum sent pictures to me and my siblings of him on stage for the pre-judging. None of us knew it was happening so we responded with surprise, but we were all excited for him.

I went to the main show with my mum that evening. The place was “cram jam”, as we say here, with cars spilling out of two parking lots onto the grassy strips beside the main road. We had no idea the event was so popular. Unfortunately we missed seeing Jeremy on stage, but we did get to see his friend who signed up with him. Today I got to hear about the behind-the-scenes, and he demonstrated some of the poses he had to hold for the judges.¬†My littlest brother! Flexing his back and spreading out his chest to show his lats!

Bodybuilding has never been something he’s talked about doing; some guys at the gym that he frequents encouraged him and his friend to enter the competition. He is buff though – took home 3rd place! – and open to trying new things. I’ve been thinking about that – picking up new things – a bit lately, because of learning photography. I’ve always been kind of interested, but it’s never been too high on my To Do list. This foray is a by-product of a new project I’m taking on (that I’ll talk about soon!), a thing I need to learn and want to be good at in order to complement the venture.

I feel a little like those people who pick up a hobby later in life, except it’s not “later in life”. When I first started thinking about it, it felt a little weird, like I was jumping the gun on things, but now I realise, there is no gun! Just like my still-in-his-teens brother who is exploring the world of bodybuilding and physique competitions. I doubt it’s going to become a major part of his life, but it’s a very-new thing he put effort into all the same. Before photography, when was the last time I picked up something new to try and keep my mind sharp? I collect skills based on work that I want to do, and now I see that I can – ought to – open the net wider than that and be ready to jump into more of the things I’m curious about. I don’t need to wait until I’m retired or an empty-nester – life’s too uncertain – or have more time – I won’t. Of course there’s the responsibilities that crowd out every day, but a little intentionality goes a long way.

So thanks to my brother! For showing me what this kind of thing can look like, and generally being a wonderful human. If you met him I know you’d love him (basically because everyone does).

Have you picked up any new hobbies lately? Do they say “cram jam” where you’re from?