Dominica’s ‘Ti Domnik Tales’ at Four: A New Chapter Unfolds

IMG_7354

Gwendominica has really enjoyed walking the security dogs at Carib Sand & Stone near Pointe Michel. She is pictured here with (Fortune) 42. Photo taken by Charleston Charles, C.S.S.

Readers of Ti Domnik Tales might be curious to know that while I have been quiet in terms of the blog , I have been very active in a different way: preparing to relocate to Canada.  I did mention this in my last adventure, which was a fun-filled day touring around Soufriere Dominica.

While I pack up, distribute and organize this international move, I have had plentiful opportunities to reflect on my 19 incredible and unforgettable years of living full-time on the Nature Island.  Some of those wonderful experiences here have been included in this blog, which has just passed four years of existence.  Never fear, for there is

DSCF7087

It would be very difficult to stay away from the natural beauty found at Papillote Wilderness Retreat near Trafalgar.

much more to come. I am leaving half of my heart in Dominica, with the complete expectation to come back for more of this beautiful tropical island once winter sets in ‘up north’.

In fact, as I write this piece, there are several stories in the queue, so do stay tuned, as the adventures on Dominica are far from over! I do plan to continue to contribute my musings and stories whether on-island or elsewhere! As the  170 posts on the site approach 100,000 visits, I have no inclination to disappoint interested readers.  Besides, the capacity to write about this tiny Caribbean paradise is virtually endless, in my opinion.

DSCF7137

To think I’ve hiked up Morne Anglais, one of Dominica’s highest peaks three times over the years!  The 360 degree views on a clear day are, well, breathtaking! (as seen from Morne Bruce, above Roseau)

As well, the compilation of an eBook format of Ti Domnik Tales is in the formative stages.  I have been fortunate and delighted to discuss my ideas with an established Canadian editor, Rachel Small and popular Canadian-Caribbean author, publisher and friend Susan Toy.  I hope to move forward with this concept in time to come, hopefully sooner than later!

In the mean time, additional posts are pending as plans fall into place and new adventures await!  I also hope to resume contacts with the very active Commonwealth of Dominica Ontario Association in Toronto and the Rotary Club of Ottawa South when I return to my ‘home and native land’.  Those two Canadian organizations (among others)  helped to raise funds and supplies for Dominica immediately following the devastating Tropical Storm Erika in August 2015.  They certainly have the Nature Island’s best interests at heart, and “I in it!” which is an enthusiastic expression on Dominica.

DSCF7125

I’ve spent thousands of hours in Roseau, Dominica’s charming capital. It’s a fascinating and historic Caribbean city. (as seen from Morne Bruce)

DSCF6190At the end of the day (and this post) I daresay that “the joy of life is the trip.” I have been so fortunate to include a very long stay on Dominica as part of my journey, and I expect to return to again and again!

 

 

 

 

Ti Domnik Tales Turns Three! The Adventures Continue on the Beautiful Nature Island

Gwendominica is delighted to celebrate the third birthday of Ti Domnik Tales in March 2015!

Gwendominica is delighted to celebrate the third anniversary of Ti Domnik Tales in March 2015!

Ti Domnik Tales, my personal blog about adventures, experiences and personalities on Dominica has just turned

This map of Dominica, located in the dining room of Papillote Wilderness Retreat was crafted by a local artisan.

This map of Dominica in the dining room of Papillote Wilderness Retreat was crafted by a local artisan.

three!

I wish to express profound thanks to my extended family, 99 Followers, 116 Facebook friends, growing Twitter tweeters, those who have ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ me and  all other supportive readers over the past 36 months.  Your interest and encouragement definitely keep me inspired to describe various aspects of my life as a Canadian expatriate who has resided for 18 years (this month!) on the Nature Island.

While this blog has a very specific niche in a very small country, I am delighted to report that there have been over 60,000 visits to the 135 posts on this site. This figure does include several re-blogged pieces  from Canary Gal about my  wonderful trip to Canada in the summer of 2014 and an incredible visit to Paris in December 2014/January 2015 from my home base on the Nature Island. However, the majority of musings (about 120) are dedicated to Dominica!

For your interest, here are the top 15 posts in the first three months of 2015 ( click on the title to get to the piece):

1. Dominica’s Carnival 2015 Opening Parade: A Spectacular, Sinister, Sensational Masquerade*
2. Dominica`s Floral Splendour: The Giraudel-Eggleston Flower Show 2013
3. ‘Paradise Found’ in Dominica’s Papillote Tropical Gardens*
4. Scenes from a (Tropical!) Winter Wonderland: Dominica’s Carnival 2015 Season*
5. Recognizing Acts of Kindness at Christmas-time on Dominica, the Nature Island
6. Dominica’s Carnival Celebrations: Original, Traditional, Fun!
7. A Walk Around Freshwater Lake in Dominica’s Morne Trois Pitons National Park
8. A Warm Welcome in Wotten Waven, Dominica’s ‘Natural Spa’ Village
9. Learning about Indigenous Kalinago Culture and History in Dominica
10. Strangers in Paradise: A Canadian Family Spends an Unforgettable Day in Dominica!*
11. Springfield Dominica: My Favourite Place on the Nature Isle*
12. The Voice of Ti Domnik Tales (Page about me, Gwendominica)
13. The Marvellous Tastes, Sights and Sounds of Creole Day 2014 around Roseau Dominica
14. Celebrating Creole Day in Dominica
15. A Canadian Canary Visits Paris: A New Year Adventure in the City of Light

And for those who are curious, the TOP THREE POSTS of the past three years are:

Papilotte Wilderness Retreat is a piece of paradise nestled near the village of Trafalgar in the Roseau Valley.

Papillote Wilderness Retreat is an intimate hotel set in tropical  gardens with natural hot and cold pools. It’s nestled above the village of Trafalgar in the Roseau Valley.

1. The Voice of Ti Domnik Tales (Page about me, Gwendominica)

2. Spending a Spa Day at Dominica’s Papillote Wilderness Retreat

Morne Watt, in Morne Trois Pitons National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) can be seen from the heights of Wotten Waven, a very friendly village in the Roseau Valley with plentiful natural spas!

Morne Watt, in Morne Trois Pitons National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) can be seen from the heights of Wotten Waven, a very friendly village in the Roseau Valley that offers plentiful sulphur spas and access to the Waitukubuli National Trail!

3.A Warm Welcome in Wotten Waven, Dominica’s ‘Natural Spa’ Village

Watch for more pieces about Dominica’s  Roseau Valley, as the popularity of this area is confirmed by numbers two and three!

Thanks for reading Ti Domnik Tales!  Sincerely, Gwendominica

Thanks for reading Ti Domnik Tales! Sincerely, Gwendominica

And look for other tales about my life on Dominica in due course.  The possibility of an e-book may become a reality too!

Thanks for reading Ti Domnik Tales!!!

 

My Life in Dominica Featured on ExpatsBlog.com

Gwendominica in contemporary Creole wear.

Gwendominica in contemporary Creole wear.

If you are curious about how and why I have lived as an expatriate in Dominica, then have a look at my commentary by clicking here.

Admittedly, I have been candid and would like to remind everyone that what I have said about my life on the Nature Island is not  necessarily representative of other expatriates. I have tried to emphasize that as we are all individuals, we all have different perspectives and responses to our experiences.  That’s what makes being a citizen of the world so interesting!  Please feel free to comment at the bottom of the interview, if you are so inclined.

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Karen and Liz for being the first two people to comment on the ExpatsBlog.com website about Ti Domnik Tales.  Their kind and thoughtful remarks are very much appreciated.

It is hoped that this additional exposure on the ExpatsBlog.com website will generate more interest in lovely Dominica, the beautiful Nature Island. I am honoured  to have the privilege of spending so many years  in this remarkable country and delighted to have an improved quality of life because of my long-term residency here.
You can go directly to the interview from RIGHT HERE.

 

 
badge-featured-expat-150

 

 

 

 

Ti Domnik Tales is Featured on ExpatsBlog.com!

 

Did you miss me?  I’ve recently returned to Dominica from a wonderful vacation in my ‘home and native land’, Canada.  While I was away, I received the good news that popular and extensive Expats Blog.Com has selected

Ti Domnik Tales as a featured blog on their amazing website!  I urge you to check it out and have a look at some of the fascinating blogs written by hundreds of expatriates from all over the world about a diversity of experiences in their adopted countries.

I am honoured to be their first  representative for Dominica. If you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures and experiences (so far), then I’d be most grateful if  you could rate and/or leave a short comment on Expats Blog  by clicking on this link and scrolling to the bottom of the page.  I sincerely thank you for your interest and support!

And stay tuned for more adventures as this expatriate, a.k.a. ‘Canadian Canary‘ shares some stories about her memorable experiences ‘back home’ after a three-year absence.

Gwendominica 'limes' while the tide is out at Nova Scotia's Kingsport Beach on the Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy.  Photo taken by Cousin Greg.

Gwendominica ‘limes’ (relaxes) while the tide is out at Nova Scotia’s Kingsport Beach on the Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy. Photo taken by Cousin Greg.

Of course, the  seemingly endless stories of my life on the Nature Island will continue with countless musings on Ti Domnik Tales!

 

Ti Domnik Tales Blog Has Published 100 Posts about Dominica, the Nature Island!

Dominica, the Nature Island as seen from the coastal waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Dominica, the Nature Island as seen from the coastal waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Mission accomplished!  The piece I wrote about Kalinago Culture and History was the 100th article  posted on Ti Domnik Tales blog. I have now realized my original objective with this significant posting about an important cultural aspect of Dominica.  When I created  this blog in March 2012, I was not sure how far I would get in terms of the number of published posts.  But as you can see, the fascinating topics about the Nature Island are virtually endless!

Therefore, I will continue to write about my experiences on Dominica, as there is much more terrain to cover! Postings may be more sporadic though, as I am turning my attention to my other blog which has been dormant for a while.

Gwendominica walks on red rocks at beautiful Pointe Baptiste, on Dominica's northeast coast - to be presented in a forthcoming post.  Photo by Edwin Whitford.

Gwendominica walks on famous Red Rocks at beautiful Pointe Baptiste, on Dominica’s northeast coast – to be presented in a forthcoming post. Photo by Edwin Whitford.

During the summer of 2014, I will be posting on: www.canarygal.wordpress.com

My Canary Gal blog focuses on  environmental  health  issues and personal experiences related to living with  this challenge.  In fact, I moved to Dominica so that I could better manage this increasingly common condition.  Watch for my travel diary as I spend a little time in” my home and native land” – as this Canary flies north for a few weeks.

I will post the introductory paragraphs on this blog for a short time only with a link to each complete piece on Canary Gal.  I do hope you will be able to join me (vicariously) for some Canadian  summer fun and adventure.  If you are curious about what happens next while I am “home,”  kindly click the ‘follow’ box which you will find midway down the right hand side of the page.

I would be remiss if I did not renew heartfelt thanks to my immediate and extended family, friends near and far,  faithful “followers’ (close to 100!) those who ‘like” me (almost 90!) and/or particular pieces, the people who care to share a comment or two and the thousands of  interested readers from around the world.  Your continued support means a great deal, and helps to keep me motivated to write about the wonderful experiences that form part of my  life on Dominica, the Nature Island.

With appreciation,

Gwendominica

Author

Ti Domnik Tales and Canary Gal blogs

 

 

The Incredible Life of Tia-pet, the Dominican Wonder-Cat

Tia-pet (1998-2014) was a lovely and lively Caribbean short hair domestic cat. Photo taken by (Aunty) Jenny Spencer in August 2011.

Tia-pet (1998-2014) was a lovely and lively Caribbean short-haired domestic cat. Photo taken by ‘Aunty’ Jenny Spencer in August 2011.

I am not aware of many cats that have lived out all nine lives on Dominica, but I can assure you that my dear little Tia-pet was

Tia was tiny when he found his first parents in a residential area north of Roseau early in 1998.

Tia was tiny when he’ found’ his first pet parents (Lorraine and Steven) in a residential area north of Roseau early in 1998. Photo by S or L Ricketts.

one of a select few felines in this category.  At the age of 16+ human years, he  departed this earth en route to “cat heaven.”  Since  my furry friend passed away at home on May 3, 2014, I feel as if I have the lost the greatest gift I ever received on

Aunty Susan Weeks painted this image of Tia in 2011 . it was based on a photo I had taken of him at play in 2010.

‘Aunty’ Susan Weeks painted this likeness of Tia in 2011 . It was based on a photo I had taken of him at play in 2010.

Dominica.  But I am oh so thankful for all the time we had together; his constant companionship amounted to another enduring and exceptional experience on the Nature Island!

When I made the final decision to move to Dominica, I first settled

at Springfield Plantation in August 1998.  There, I met a British/Dominican couple who had found a little kitten where they lived for some time before moving to the mountainous site to work on the property.  Although  a male, they had named him Tia when he was very tiny.  Lo and behold, they came to me after I had not been there for more than a month and informed me that they would be returning to the U.K.  As they could not take their animals with them, they asked me if I would be interested in adopting the young cat.  As I  was moving in to their little house, I found myself in the horns of a dilemma.  I reluctantly agreed, although I was not really interested, due to allergies and other plans. I figured he would just wander away to another home if I showed no interest. Well, you can see that never came to pass. I resisted and Tia persisted.  He would cry and cry until I let him in and as a very determined little critter, he simply wormed his way into my heart.

I always referred to Tia as being the 'King of the Kiity-Cats' on Dominica.  He sure had a regal look to me!

I always referred to Tia as being the ‘King of the Kitty-Cats’ on Dominica. He sure had a regal look to me!

Perhaps one of the strangest things, and the biggest blessing for me, was that I was NOT allergic to him.  For a while, I thought I had lost that allergy, but then I have proved that I still have it over the years with different cats both here and abroad. Go figure!

TTia as also known as Garfield after  a period of too much canned milk and kibble.  he was put on a strict diet by the vet!

Tia was also known as Garfield after a period of too much canned milk and kibble in his younger years. He was put on a strict diet by the vet!

Tia was a frisky critter and liked to jump from the counter to the fridge-top in his younger days.

Tia was a frisky critter and liked to jump from the counter to the fridge-top in his younger days. But even as he got older, he was always full of fun!

By the time I moved from Springfield, we were firm friends.  I could go on about his adventures and close calls, but suffice it to say that  Tia was one tough kitty.  He was never a cuddly, jump-on-your lap cat.  Instead, he delighted in very rough play.  I and others who dared came away with scratches, superficial bites and sore arms from playing with that cat for hours at a time.  And if he was hungry, or wanted in or out, it was hard to ignore that powerful yowl.

Tia loved to hunt - real critters or toy ones.  He was playful pussycat!

Tia loved to hunt – live animals or toy ones. He was a playful pussy cat!

Of course he was spoiled, but the pleasure was all mine.  He reciprocated with gifts from field forays: lizards, mice and little birds.  Sometimes there were other souvenirs from his outings: a number of vets treated Tia for cat bite abscesses .  Sometimes they were so large they had to be surgically removed.  Although Tia had been neutered when he was young, he remained a territorial type.  At all times of day and night ,I would hear the unforgettable piercing screams of two cats at war. Neighbours would sometimes tell me that my cat was giving their cat “blows.”  But then came the day when Tia could no longer hold his own and his opponent seemed to have the advantage.

When he was 12  years old, I decided it would be in his best interest to become an indoor cat, as he was starting to lose those feline battles.  The vet was worried that he would not adapt well, but Tia took it all in stride.  He still had access to protected porches and balconies and was able to content himself by hanging out in those locations with a view.  And of course, he would always still  play with anyone who dared!

While there were signs of slowing down which became increasingly obvious this past winter when he turned 16, he still jumped up on the porch balcony to check out the birds by day and the bats by night.  But one evening, I  let him out on the porch  alone while I did something else inside for a few minutes.  When I went to check on him, I could not find him.  I took a flashlight, looked down two flights below to the ground – and there he was – still moving.  I ran down, scooped him up and called Tia’s last vets, husband and wife team Dr. Ronnie George and Dr. Nausima Paul in extreme panic.  Fortunate for me, they had just finished their clinic and were on their way home, which is nearby.  They came right away and examined him.  There did not seem to be any obvious or serious injury, except for some sore muscles.  Without access to x-ray or ultra-sound, there was no way to know anything further.  However, from that point in late February, Tia rapidly declined, although he did hang on for some time.

This is the last photo of Tia, taken on February 27, 2014.  By then, he had already fallen off of the back porch and had to be helped onto the bed - but his spirit was still strong.

This is the last photo of Tia, taken on February 27, 2014. By then, he had already fallen off of the back porch and had to be helped onto the bed – but his spirit was still strong.

Those wonderful vets continued to check on him – frequently. They also  received a number of calls from Tia’s scared mummy as his behaviour changed and he seemed not himself over those last couple of months.  It was hard to watch him fail, but that rough cat definitely had the heart of lion, and I was sure to tell him so.  He did not seem to be in pain until the very last day.  I sensed that the end was near and stayed right beside him for many hours.  I am so thankful that I was there when he looked at me wide-eyed and then took his last breath.  I assured him that I loved him, and then he left for that great mouse-hunting field in the sky – “cat heaven” as my mother referred to that celestial abode when I was a little girl.

This whole sad event would have been much more devastating  had it not been for the calm and reassuring counsel of my Canadian friend Nancy from Springfield.  We spoke many times on Tia’s last day on earth.  After he departed, she kindly offered to bury him at Springfield the next morning.  I was  comforted by her generosity, as that beautiful mountain location means so much to me.  Tia had gone full circle and his remains now rest at the place where we first became a family.

It was sunny and lovely on Sunday May 3, 2014.  Nancy drove a distance to collect me so we could take Tia’s body for burial.  She allowed me to sob and cry and unleash my grief while she alone  prepared the ground with pick-axe and shovel.  I offered to help her, but she refused.  I was impressed with her strength and grateful that I could mourn freely.  Fortunately, it was a quiet day and no one else was on the property.  When Tia was placed in the earth by Nancy, we said a final good-bye and she tucked his toys all around him.  I placed some rosemary for remembrance over his towel-shrouded body.  Then we covered him with the damp  heavy clay earth, small stones and  finally larger ones.  I placed a bouquet of white  anthurium lilies and  we put some pretty potted  flowers on top of the grave.

Tia's final resting place at Springfield is in a peaceful spot surrounded by fruit trees.

Tia’s final resting place at Springfield is in a peaceful spot surrounded by fruit trees.

Tia's grave site has spectacular views at Springfield.

Tia’s grave site has spectacular views at Springfield.

Although I was extremely sad, I was content with the knowledge that he was at rest at one of the most beautiful places on earth.  I will miss him for as long as live, but I am extremely thankful to have had endless pleasure from the companionship of a little boy cat named Tia.  “Thank you for being in my life . I love you – forever and ever.”

THANK YOUs

As I think back over the 16 years that Tia was in my life, I am quite amazed at the number of people who have helped me with his care.  I am indebted to all of you and I thank

Neigbour Kristelle was Tia's best friend for many years.  After all, they were the same age!  She ehlped to take care of him many times for me.

Neighbour Kristelle was Tia’s best friend for years. After all, they were the same age! She helped to take care of him many times.

you for what you have done so that Tia could have the best quality of life possible for a cat.  God bless you!

Friends, neighbours and cat lovers:

Special thanks to Vernon Gordon and family, my former neighbours who looked after Tia often between 2004-11.  Their willing assistance and wonderful cat care enabled me to travel all over Dominica for my writing assignments, spend time in other Caribbean countries as well as  summers in Canada and leave quickly when my mother died.

Also to Ursula Joseph, my faithful  helper for 14+ years who was always there for Tia and even rescued him from a couple of scary situations (which gave her a fright).

Nancy Osler at Springfield helped me through the most difficult process of Tia’s imminent death, his burial at Springfield and the painful hours afterwards by being there for me and allowing me to freely grieve.

Liz Madisetti was on stand-by to take care of Tia this forthcoming summer, even though his health was failing.  She was completely willing  to pet sit, despite the uncertain circumstances.

Other caring pet-sitters over the years (also known as Tia’s ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles”) included: Eddie Shillingford, Tessia Butler, Dr. Patricia Rodney, Whitney Sommers, Malcolm, John, Peter, Dr. Caryl Lockhart, Susan and Alden Weeks, Jenny Spencer, Ben Tapley. (If I have forgotten anyone else, I’ll be sure to list you and soon as I remember!)

Veterinarians played a critical role in ensuring Tia’s good  health and well-being over his long cat life, and I have the utmost of respect and admiration for their compassionate work with all animals:

Dr. John Toussaint, Dr. J. Collin McIntyre, Dr. Caryl Lockhart, Dr. Reginald Thomas, Dr. Nausima Paul and Dr. Ronnie George were always available when Tia had an illness or an injury or was in need of a check-up.  I especially appreciate the many times that Dr. Reggie Thomas came to the house to examine Tia as  he became a senior cat.

Husband and wife veterinary team Dr. Ronnie George and Dr. Nausima Paul attend to Florence, beloved pet of Mark Steele at Beau Rive.    These wonderful vets can be contacted at their clinic (767) 440-8387 or by mobile at 277-4811/275-4935.

Husband and wife veterinary team Dr. Ronnie George and Dr. Nausima Paul attend to Florence, beloved pet of Mark Steele at Beau Rive. These wonderful vets can be contacted at their clinic (767) 440-8387 or by mobile at 277-4811/275-4935.

Finally, I am forever grateful to Dr. Nausima Paul and her husband Dr. Ronnie George who provided phenomenal geriatric and end-stage care.  They were basically on-call for the last two months of Tia’s life. Their support, guidance and interventions enabled me to better  understand this phase  and allow Tia to make a smoother transition to the hereafter.

To Tia’s first pet parents, Lorraine and Steven Ricketts: If you ever come upon this blog post, know that you gave me the greatest gift of my life in Dominica.  Heartfelt thanks.

Rest in peace, dear Tia-pet.

Footnote:  In June 2014, Lorraine, Tia’s first pet mummy contacted me out-of-the-blue by email and enquired about me and the little cat.  We had lost touch for several years and I had to give her the sad news of his passing straight away.  However, it was lovely to reconnect with her and to have shared the special gift of Tia-pet, the Dominican Wonder Cat!

Ti Domnik Tales 2013 in review

Happy New Year everyone!  I wish to thank my family, friends, followers and people who ‘like’ me for their ongoing support.  It was an incredible year for the Ti Domnik Tales blog and I am delighted that the current 86 posts received about 19,000 visits.  I extend special gratitude to Liz, who often comments on the posts . I  always enjoy replying to her positive contributions.  And to others who have commented, I am extremely grateful.  To Miss Dominica 2013, Leslassa Armour-Shillingford, thank you for sharing the post that I wrote about you.  It certainly generated tremendous interest at year-end.  Also, congratulations to my neighbour, Antony Agar, whose biographical post received the most visits over the year.

Stay tuned for more of my musings on Ti Domnik Tales in 2014.  I am now 14 posts shy of the 100 mark – which has always been my goal.

All the best in 2014!

Gwendominica

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.