Tuesday, December 30, 2008


"...we will ride, way up high, where the cold winds blow..."
-The Horses, Rickie Lee Jones

right people, you would think that after being away for so long, the words and stories would be swirling out like dervishes. but oh no. The Dreaded Block has happened. again. plain, white and square. if i could just crack the surface. . . . it's all under there....where to start, really.

so once more, i scratch my head. oh heaps of ideas raise their arms with clicking fingers saying mememememememememeeeeeeee. i consider them. one by one. one being the spotty horse move up the hill. another, the second to last night of the year with all its magnificence and sickness. . . . . the horse move wins. and then i think. well, it would be this:




and this:

and then?

nah. yawn yawn for the rest of the non horse loving Universe. my father being one, (Belgians don't count), and maybe you, she thinks alarmingly. my dear father who, time and time again like a stuck record, whenever he hears a decibel vaguely similar to "horse" or "pony" or "let's go riding!" or "equestrian", pipes up gleefully, "Bloody horses. I tell you, man. Dangerous at the back. Dangerous at the front and uncomfortable in the middle..." and then with his nut brown eyes dancing, he balances his empty whisky glass on his head, which is the universal sign to fill it up. you feel like you've won something if you notice first.

i remember, when i was a teenager, absolutely horse mad, him loading my horse before the crack of dawn, the last morning star hanging in there to take me to another show. there was always drama. my mother would stand there shouting, " for christsake ron. calm down. just go away and let us do it!" as my fiery mare would lash out from the front and kick like a zebra from behind. my father would stalk angrily away muttering "Bloody horses!" yet as i tore around another round of looming jumps, completely out of control and beyond terrified, jumping over the moon, he was the one cheering like mad. as i stumbled back onto the grand stand, somehow clutching a rosette (probably for breaking a world record for fastest round ever) he would say,

"heh heh koeks! don't slow down. give it stick! hell. bloody horses eh? dangerous at the blah blah blah blah" and he would be the proudest person on the entire grandstand. beaming. beaming.

which makes me think, maybe this is the reason which drives me to do silly silly things. like the time i swung off the highest mast of a 1910 schooner off the zanzibari coast. to impress the crew? the crew who looked about 12 and their upturned faces the size of peas, from my height. as i perched queerly in the heavens (in my effing bikini), they shouted up to me, " you can do it princess..." "queenie to you darlings," i smirked back at them, as i grabbed the rope and stepped off, grimly forgetting the wise words of the nubile swedish mermaid caterers, "Never do it in your bikini," they crooned...

too late. i plummeted boulder like and tore into the sea, which was hard as a table by the time i reached it, bikini top warply wrapped around my neck, the bikini bottoms covering only half and my hair the wrong way around. i looked up to see my colleague taking photographs. bastard.

but i bet if my dad had been standing up there, he would have been beaming. beaming.

indeed, i am entirely exhilarated by the new horses. entirely. i feel like the luckiest vaquera on the planet....i am the luckiest vaquera on the planet.

and tonight, when i close my eyes, in my soft warm bed, staring at windows jammed full of my lucky stars, listening to the owls and the spotty horses rustling in the yard, i will think of a girl, a woman, perhaps just like me, on the Gaza strip.

Kitchen Board: Tuesday Evening 30 December 2008
Contributors: well, me, gabby, niamh. oh wait. yes. and veronica
Comments: actually, the board should look a whole heap emptier. i have been a busy little fish, you see.
toodely old pip, you. bisous, nostalgic old year ones, last ones xxx j

Saturday, December 27, 2008


hello! we're back. hoorah. horses dogs cats all alive and joyous to see us. we are fat, brown and smug with holidayness. (i know its not a word but its the truth). buoyant in fact. i loved waking up this morning hearing strains of musical swahili wafting up the hill, having the cats pounce wildly onto our bed. waking up at home.

it's been a while, eh? oh we've had the most splendid time. splendid.
zambia is always like going home. it's where i grew up. everything is so familiar and rich to my senses. evocative. ghosts on the wind. we didn't quite make it into The Bush. it's an african expression. the bush. oh we're going to the bush. what? which one, you might think. the bush is the wild. where the wild things are. so nope. we didn't quite make it there. but we hung out on the sweetest farm on leopards hill road, called sugar bush. nestled into a forest of brachystegia trees. sweeping lawns, horses, red dust roads, guinea fowl calling and wet smudgy rainy season moons. . .

we played the old cowboy songs. oh yeah. of course dylan, the stones, fleetwood mac, john prine. until dawn. until stoned and awake we sang the beatles to yup, here comes the sun... we loved each other all over again, laughed and remembered other times. my friend is pregnant with her third baby and felt as sick as . one afternoon, with a hot summer storm blowing outside, we lay on the bed, me supposedly to keep her company in between vomits and lashings of sweet tea... i fell into the deepest sleep i've had in years. i was rubbish company but met my ghosts of the past in my dreams.

it was nostalgic. my childhood rushing to greet me....those dark forests, the red roads, the blue very distant hills, the rain. the summer rain. . . and the smudgy moon.

i have also come to the conclusion that i honestly really utterly detest airports. especially dar es salaam airport. it's like walking into a sauna. no. really. it is. not a fan or conditioner works. finding your check in counter is lucky. never mind boarding the correct plane.

awfully smug passenger in dar es salaam airport checking into what he suspects is zambian airways: yes, well, i am flying to lusaka, he is going to new york and she is going to hong kong. i would like this bag to go to accra, that one to empangeni and that one to paris.

tired, overworked, couldn't care less, underpaid check in counter person in dar es salaam airport: oh i'm sorry we can't do that sir.

extremely smug verging on punchable passenger in previously mentioned location: why not? you did it last time.

you might well end up in ougoudougou (or flipping mogadishu if you're really unlucky) or even worse, left in dar es salaam when you were meant to get to lusaka... no-one bothers to hang up signs. or willingly give out information. it's just too damned hot. oh. and no-where to sit. zambia airways did it's thing. i would've knocked its block off if it had simply not arrived due to bankruptcy or something inconvenient like that. it was happily delayed for ouf, two hours. i harassed the air hostess with the mostess with irritating regularity. and gave her mamba eyes for the entire two hours. as if she was solely responsible for each singular delay in my life. (by the way air tanzania has been grounded for not living up to any known international air regulations IATA - something like 500 things were wrong with their planes, yet on they blissfully flew with one wing only.)

no. i shouldn't be so, um sardonic. in fact, apart from a little delay here and there, it was like, um, clockwork. really. and i am deeply thankful for our uneventful flights. really i am.

i still hate airports though....

on our way back from zambia we overnighted in bloody dar es salaam. hot as hades. still. doldrum like. no swaying palm trees here. and were driven, albeit chaotically, to pangani on the coast the following day, by mohammed himself, narrowly missing a head-on with an overloaded pineapple truck just passed bagamoyo. the wayward pineapple truck driver was still shouting at us from about 1km away...arsehole. like it was US on the wrong side of the road. mohammed amazingly kept a steady pace throughout our narrow escape from certain death. for us all. even as we surfed the steep curb. inshallah.

the coast was bliss bliss bliss. empty white beaches. no irritating fake rasta beach boys. in fact, barely a fisherman insight. we lolled about in warm blue water. we spent hours bobbing above reefs adorned with one blue star fish and a myriad of fish. we marvelled at fresh turtle tracks and sang like desert jinns around a bonfire on the beach.

god is great, i thought, alhamdoolelah.. . indeed.

and whoosh, here i am back up the hill. in the little pink house. with my life i left behind, standing in the courtyard like a fat old deeply responsible matron, hands on her hips, saying:

hello then! about bloody time too. well stop standing there staring at me like a useless holiday sloth. get ON with it...here's the list: new horses arrive tommorrow. no saw dust so get that too and we ran out of bloody horse shoe nails didn't we you bloody airhead. children need school uniforms and stationery and dentist appointments and new shoes and the fridges are dead empty.. git yer lilly white arse in there and to the kitchen board. AND WHAT ABOUT THE BLOG FER CHRISSAKES!!!!? and remember school starts on 5th of january and of course, you haven't done a bloody thing about it have you? you think you're going to get away with winging it again, don't you and....

on and on and oooooooooon she went...

i pushed her aside and wafted into my airy beautiful empty fridged house and decided to fire the old bag. and get a new one. a high hippy achiever one. who still loves revolutionaries. and believes in a perfect marxist world. and a responsive universe.

do the two match? she quietly muses.....

Kitchen Board: 27 December saturday night 08

Contributors: Janelle and Gabby.

Comments: pass.

and toooooooooodely old pip, you. glad to be home again. bisous comme toujours xxx j

oh and ps: i started smoking again. damnit. and i have lice.....she confesses in very very small letters....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

tricky days...

flip its nearly christmas and everyones birthdays..as well the obvious one. and haven't done a sodding thing about it. at all. and i suddenly realized that we are about to embark on a massive three week safari and that i wouldn't be talking to you for a very long long long time and thought it proper to swing by and say happy christmas y'all.

time is reeling along - it's like a marlin running with the hook in a wild ocean. well. right now my boat is being towed by this great fighting fish called Time, and i'm hanging on for what its worth. trying to slow the buggar down, tire him out. i'll catch up with him. you'll see.

so many things have happend. oh the play the play! you will hopefully be as delighted as i was when i tell you we had to be censored! we performed in front of the primary school and someone, no names mentioned, (not you jd in case you sometimes still visit) stormed into the secondary head's office shouting her head off that the entire play was a disgrace, filled with explicit sexual inuendos, that it was disgusting, that the whole thing would have to be called off because paying parents would be horrified and blah blah after repressed blah. she was outraged over MY group of girls who were reinventing the musical Chicago.

"oh what will the fathers say?" she bleated on.

um. what about the mothers? i wanted to say afterwards. what did you expect a bunch of 16 year olds to perform? the fucking sound of music in striped pinafores?


i was stupified. What was even more gobsmacking was that she didn't raise her sexually repressed eye brows in the first section where the Nigerian Girls gyrated completely explicitly across the stage. oh no. that was ok apparently...you know, them being africans and all....suddenly i loved and adored the play. this was art. it created ripples. it exposed. isn't that what good art does? anyway. last night, it was excellent. i was so proud of all of the kids. they pulled it off impeccably and everyone loved it. ah. ah. ah.

so. phew. the play is done. and it was magnificent in the end. i am so glad i hung in there. when is the next one?

school breaks up tommorrow. we head to zambia en famille on monday. but BEFORE that:

1: friday afternoon end of term tea party at c's house ..have i ever? but i know the cake is going to be unbeatably delicious. definitely worth the sacrifice. and everything will be so proper and safe and comfortable. lovely. crisp mint lush lawns and white linen and silver outside.

2; friday night: staff party (last night i allegedly made drunken promises to the music teacher that we would be performing Georgia, Summer Time, Autumn Leaves and I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas vocals: me, keyboard: him. this is simply so not going to happen tommorrow evening. what on earth was i thinking? i know what i was drinking.)

3: saturday morning: recover. squeeze in one more ride if it doesn't rain. take the white merc out for a canter or three...clear the head.

4: saturday afternoon: hair salon. last desperate attempt to look young and vibrant before i attend farewell party for friend getting divorced from psycho ex friend. it will be an emotionally high charged afternoon undoubtedly. i will be late because of salon.

5. sunday morning recover. start long and hard thinking packing for safari, packing up the house, getting all the kids packed. lunch time at the H's to see visiting brother from Europe.

6. sunday evening: rush to music festival in the fever trees - perform solo. (note to self: insert in all of the above - guitar practise.) finish gig. drop into bed exhausted.

7. monday morning: leave for zambia. then dar es salaam then pangani at the beach then home on 26th december.

whew. and before ANY of the above: pay TANESCO bill, truck of murram, truck of sawdust, landrover full of horse food, blah blah and on we went.

AND on top of 4 horses (soon to be 7), 4 dogs, 3 cats - there are now 2 hedghogs trotting about the house...they are the darlingest little pin cushions i have ever laid eyes on....i tried to take a picture for you - the darlingest little creature eating from the cats bowl. . . but he scampered away too soon.

and lord above, i haven't even started on the great recession....

so my blogging bestest, it might be a while before the next time.

unless i can squeeze in some blogging between now and monday.

i am going to skip kitchen board. not because there isn't anything on the board, but because the gate is locked, i can't be fagged to open it and it's certainly my bed time. . .

so instead, tooooodely old pip until next time. merry christmas and all that malarky. bisous, cheeky ones under the holly... x x x j

yeah happy christmas. . .

Monday, December 1, 2008

crazy moon...

...the moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild... Sylvia Plath

so safari craig called us from our monday evening busyness (i wrote it with an "i" but then it doesn't mean the same thing at all...as in each being busy in our own things) to the door.

we looked up, all crowded around at a crescent moon perfectly framed by jupiter and mars. (well some say its venus but it looks dusty and red to me, so i say its mars. bets are on.)

safari craig says, " you can't have two planets so close together, man!?"

"who says?" i think. who says?

all crowded together, my children so close to me. me secretly smelling them. and loving them. and watching the moon and knowing how desperately fortunate i am. i have everything to lose. everything.

how perfectly extraordinary.

and i saw one of jupiter's moons. safari craig doesn't believe me. but i did. at two o clock. it was hard to see in the binoculars because the planet was so close to our moon.
it was hard to hold my little camera still. sometimes i didn't. most of the time i couldn't. so the same picture above came out as a three moon shadow below....

it made me think of this philip larkin poem called Far Out.

Beyond the bright cartoons
Are darker spaces where
Small cloudy nests of stars
Seem to float on thin air.

These have no proper names:
Men out alone at night
Never look up at them
For guidance or delight,

For such evasive dust
Can make so little clear;
Much less is known than not,
More far than near.

i, on the other hand, am deluded enough to think that most things as in people, animals, weather, plants, hair length, birth, death, love situations, you know, Things, are mystically influenced by, amongst a world of other Things, the position and alignment of the moon, stars and planets. how, i have no clue. yet i am so sure of it. and i have not yet begun on love matters and looney moon Things to which i am hopelessly devoted.

that and chocolate.

Kitchen Board: Monday Evening: 01 December 2008

Contributors: Janelle

Comments: you see? shopping all done this morning. some things we forgot, though. because maybe we were talking too much. or acting too clever in the bank which made us lose the shopping list...

tooooodely old pip then. bisous. oh yeah, crazy moon ones. lots ...xx j

oh and ps. how could i have forgotten? i thought of you when i spied this beautiful new blog, by eliza that i know you are all going to love and be totally be inspired by. she's a new girl in the blogosphere....take a peek... http://eliza-pix.blogspot.com/
she's a travelin' gypsy princess...

and pps: i also forgot to tell you how i nearly had a punch up with an octogenarian at the restaurant opening after too many vodkas and being overwhelmed with joyousness. oh yes. it was over capital letters. he was incensed.

righto. off really now.


ppPs: which made me wonder if you even get past the Kitchen Board....in which case...

right. i'm gone.

Friday, November 28, 2008

circles 'round the sun...

pic by paul oliver (www. pauloliversafaris.com)

righto. lashings of apologies. i have been thinking about blogging everyday since the last post. truly. just been madly busy educating the masses, you see.

and riding horses. and raising my kids. and dealing with psychotic ex friends. and oh, morphing into a theatrical director, with, aherm, aggressive aplomb.

but the beautiful week-end has arrived and i fought for this space, for this time To Blog.

here i sit. . . . fingers drumming away on the desk. me staring vacantly out over the valley which is slowly turning green before my eyes. we have had gently soaking rains, accompanied by spectacular lightening storms. great pulsating veins of light lashing out at the hills. cross fingers it doesn't lash out at our hill. not going to say anything silly like " if there is a god strike me down on this very rock" like i did once, temptingly, many years ago in a storm. i was not struck. not going to risk it again though. he might have been joking. whoops. He might have been joking.

yesterday at school i found my class gathered outside, squinting heavenwards into the sun, pointing at this wondrous rainbowed circle around the sun, all thinking this heralded the end of the world as we know it.

"don't worry people. the earth will not fall," i said, " it's still spinning and there will be a tommorrow so get into the classroom now and hand in your homework."

hopes dashed, they disappointingly shuffled into the stuffy, hot classroom, which smells of old books and dictionaries. the circle was a wondrous thing indeed. something to do with frozen rainbows making icicles in the sky; if you were close to this frozen circle, i would like to think you would hear icy wind chime music...


where was i? oh school. so yes. been doggedly marching on towards the end of term. this dogged and determined march has been marred by some bizarre nasty twist of fate. the entire school production has landed, by a series of underhanded manipulative "moves", on my and ali's plates. it has morphed into Our Responsibility. our names will be in torrid print on the programme. our reputation as leading bohemian intelligentsia is at stake.

it's just hideous. it all began with me trying to be nice and helpful and being pathetically unable to say NO to assisting with school "clubs" - drama being one of them. my group of adolescent prima donnas decided on doing a spoof on the musical chicago. well actually. i suspect they thought they were seriously doing the musical a favour. not going to crush their inspiration....anyway. we were happily pootling along, them dreaming about being hollywood starlets, and trying on sparkly little (VERY little) black dresses in the girls toilets. ali's group were doing something african...folk tales...running around in green goblin suits and the other lady (still don;t know her name) took on jamaican culture. all i could hear was lots of bob marley tunes wafting lazily on the heat waves under the flame tree. still. guess it's genuinely jamaican. (who is that other lady? she isn't a teacher.) everything was just drifting peacefully and lazily along, until the headmaster announced that this in fact was supposed to be The School Production. oh shock. oh horror. oh vomit in panic. impossible.

so we gathered together, ali and i stricken and pale faced, to watch all the little productions, to see if we could pull something together. quite suddenly, none of the other teachers were there. mr f was apparently vomitting at home. the lady who we never knew her name, popped by and said bob was all they had and vanished never to be seen again. ms j, the one who had got me into this mess, had done a runner. so there ali and i stood. open mouthed and gaping at the prima donnas, singing hit the road jack whilst murdering a wayward lover, tottering about in VERY high black stilletto ankle boots in the tiniest sparkly dresses you have ever seen. the one with the tiniest dress and the highest shoes and the sexiest moves (she is only 16) has the fiercest arab father...

we groaned. we are doomed.

ali managed to convince the head to move the play from town, away from the public eye, back to the school campus in the hope that people won't be fagged to come all the way from town to watch it. she has also convinced the head that we couldn't possibly charge people an entrance fee. but, to date, she has not been able to convince the head that it is absolutely essential to make the audience slightly drunk on some ghanaian brew before the beginning of the play. we thought of making a vicious little cocktail which you have to drink before you enter the ampitheater. he was resiliant. it was an adamant No.

right. plan b. become horrible mean shouting witch director. change identity. kick some adolescent butt. and take this big lumbering misguided bull by the horns and grin and bear it. it's not going away.

we have prayed for hurricanes.

and if these lightening storms and circles around the sun are anything to go by, our prayers might yet be answered by wednesday evening.. . . .

although, wouldn't it be terrible if this whole thing lumbered into next term because of a silly little hurricane?

Kitchen Board: Saturday Morning: 29 November 2008

Contributors: Veronica

Comments: worried that we might be eating too much nutella? safari craig and i have both noted that our clothes are ill fitting, lately. this is not due to nutella. this is due to, well, aherm, carbo overloading? we can't stop. it's almost out of control. something has to be done. watch these lists carefully. soon they shall morph into:

carrot sticks

celery sticks

green tea

living on nothing but fresh air bollox.

oh can't be bothered. how dull dull dull. love my tummy. love my hips. love my bingo flaps. love my breasts. love my big strong lovely healthybody...


love you all. of course.

so toodely pip and bisous comme toujours, rainy lightening ones. XX j

Sunday, November 23, 2008

red hot poker time...

it's red hot poker time. when the clouds hang low, threatening rain, and the grass is really green. the air is still. humid. and always at night far off, there is distant lightening. flickering. i love it. this time of year. its so brooding. expectant. unspoken.

(you see, i'm trying so hard not to be a horse bore. or a child bore.)

ok. so friday night was dinner at the vets house. they are both vets, he italian, she belgian. he is always working in places like afghanistan, pakistan, somalia, sudan (oh maybe not yet, but i know he'll end up there at some point) and she is the brave woman who camps out in maasailand, on her own, injecting 1000's of cattle single handedly then driving home solo with shitloads of cash. tough. beautiful.

he is so charming and italian. like he gave me a scarf from afghanistan and when i asked where i would be sitting, she smiled like mona lisa and said " oh next to giuseppe of course." i was elegant about it. trust me. like the time he invited me out to oldonyo sambu to watch him dehorning maasai cattle. so i donned granny's cloche hat, packed the children and two ayahs ( and a security car following just in case. joking) and followed - "no really its fine. i'll take my car. really! because we have to be at a lunch party at one. no really!", sort of thing. so yes. followed italian vet man into the rolling west meru pastures. and there we sat under a blazing sun, surrounded by maasai, watching mr vet man chasing cows and wrestling them to the ground, topless, and aherm, dehorning them....lots of blood sprayed across bronzed chests sort of stuff.... sweaty dusty work...

until we delicately excused ourselves and headed up the completely wrong mountain for our lunch engagement. the children and i and two ayahs ended up in a military zone at the tippy top of a mountain. according to first born, who white knuckedly gripped the dash board as we zig zagged incorrectly up the mountain, grinding along in low range 4 wheel drive, we were higher than an aeroplane. even the soldiers were taken aback to see my little family and i so high and so illegal.

it was the second turn right, not the first, apparently.

so yes, eyebrows were raised all round and there was much guffawing behind white napkins, when pathetic excuses for being late were:
oh man. took the wrong turn up the wrong mountain. yes. at the army radio tower! yes THAT one. i know! oh, before that? i was coming back from oldonyo sambu. well um watching giuseppe dehorning cows. yes. what? yes. dehorning. HORNS. cow horns.. .
oh you know what? just fucking forget it.
and i tucked into my pate with a purple face.

yes. where was i? oh yes. trying desperately hard not to be a child or horse bore. yes dinner at the vets. well. hardly had we finished our pork, with non english speaking guest, amilio, shaking his head sadly at the fact that we were headed to umbria and not his family house in naples in april, when paolo, vets second born, burst into the room, howling uncontrollably, gripping his arm. and a very realistic looking AK 47.... did i say he was howling?

so i said " whoops. looks like it's a dislocated elbow,"

safari craig frowned at me and said " oh rubbish. stop being a drama queen. he's fine."

vet man flew into italian papa mode, making loud noises, accompanied by spectacular arm gesticulations, above the very fine and very loud singer from sicily, still solemnly blaring from the stereo. tough belgian vet mama, calmly made everything right. and flipped the creme caramel calmly onto a platter, for safari craig, me and stefano, vets first born, then fled after paulo and papa into the night.

paolo was medivacced to nairobi at 2 in the morning, with a seriously bad fracture and was operated on yesterday. he will be fine, apparently. phew.

so much for me being a drama queen eh?

i should have been a doctor, i say.

and did i already mention that i rode the appaloosas through the coffee on saturday evening? oh. we have some fine fine hosses.... and that's all i have to say on the matter. so help me god.

and for the rest, i lay on the veranda, drinking tea, watching the crimson breasted sun bird in the fiery red aloes, and dreamed up a storm .....

Kitchen Board: Sunday Evening: 23 november 08

Contributors: Veronica and daniel.
Comments: man. supplies are LOW. especially on sweet things...
so, toodely toodely toodely...bisous X X X red hot poker ones...hooah. x j

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


above pic by paul oliver

and there i found myself....chasing fleeting zebra, tearing through the whistling thorns. riding after wildebeest full tilt over volcanic rocks and aardvark holes...after many vodkas and blackberry juices over a lazy sunday lunch under The Remarkable Tortillis's dappled shade. licking salt off my lips, feeling the ache in my legs, watching. watching.
simple camping under The Remarkable Tortillis with all of maasailand stretched beyond us. stars twinkling in the filigree branches, like you dream it, a fire and distant flickering lightening in the north. watching. watching the moons of jupiter.
i thought of you. out there. and had so much to tell you. its impossible to truly convey, with words. how magical it was. how mindblowing it was. how wide. space. blue. it was. here i sit.

i love the scratches on my arm from the thorns and the beautiful ache in my back muscles. and my burnt cheeks and the faint smell of horse on my hands.... even the pepper ticks which i am still finding in, aherm, intimate places. like, you know, between my toes.

perhaps i found the wildness in me again. at least, a little of it.

thank god. i love it.

i want more.



Kitchen Board: Wednesday Evening: 19 November 08

Contributors: Safari Craig and Veronica
Comments: hmmm, essentials. garlic, oil and pepper.
i am recently returned from an enchanted land, people.
bear with me.
deeply grateful always.
bisous bisous bisous toujours. toujours. xx j

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

wild horses.....

hear the distant flutes
which pull the soul
from my center,
with galloping hooves
over distant dust plains
to dizzying heights;
torn from the lead dead weight
of physicality -
from this tired body.
i am there -
above the buzzards,
where wisp clouds
are frozen
in breathless blue;
where the air is thin
and light is all -
i have left it
spiralling upwards from
the last embrace
the last breath.
your warm hands on my face.
in a flash.
it was so beautiful i could've died.
back and speechless. really.
back and piled under comprehension tests.
back and just bought a little eighteen month apaloosa colt called Sukari.
and an apaloosa gelding called Fancy Arrow.
(where are they going to sleep? the bed's too small)
i am officially addicted to safari life on a horse.
so heart and mind are still somewhere out in the vastness of maasailand but the body is back home and at school. not sure what's left for blogosphere.
i fear that if i don't say something now i never will again.
so. yup. like gary glitter i'm back i'm back its good to be back. did you hang my picture on your wall?
so from a sleepy vaquera, bisous - dusty horse ones....xxx j

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

blank blogging bollocking brain

i feel pressurized to post. everyone else seems so fruitful. except um, miranda. where art thou? i know you're in zambia but it's no excuse. really. it's pathetic.

mr and mrs god from the god diaries? ernest, i see you are preoccupied with more esoteric things like wild mushrooms and fairy circles and things but hell, mr god has realms to run, you know, so hurry up will you....? next posting please. and helllllllooooooo? TPE???...educ edjew oh god? where are you, oh slothful ones?
oooergh. once again. bloggers block.

ho hum. yawn yawn.

hmmm. the rain. been there done that. stretch stretch. scratch. scratch. dangerously umwhimsical. Basic.

the cat got spayed. poor thing. staggering around the house with a bucket thingy around her head to stop her pulling stitches out. in the mean time, crazy wild little kittens bouncing off the walls in all directions. it's wonderfully mad. dropping like butter balls from the stairs...

i have another boil. on my elbow this time. at least not on my eye. like when i was in zanzibar and all the honeymoon couples thought i had been socked by my partner, the one from whom i had obviously run away to the beach, to escape the monster. i read thought bubbles. oh. and they all looked so smug and self righteous, lying on those sun loungers, the bride in her new bikini (one for each day) sipping cocktails and smirking at each other. like they got it so made. so i wished many children upon them. until i conjured up an entire flock of storks, wheeling above the beach as i escaped sniggering to the bar. i think i even slept in the pradas. the sunnies which are of jackoe o roundness and proportion. i adore them they hide my eyes, my wrinkles and half my face. i really looked hideous with the boil in my eye. i think i was even scaring the kids...about the malapas (flip flops ) which they had found in the forest behind our palm banda...so i just casually asked if they knew it was an ancient burial ground?
no mama. its NOT. (says oldest)
it is! ask anyone here...then laughingly added, be careful the dead man's malapas don't follow you, hey...like a dead man's step, piff poff softly behind you down the beach.
i was only joking. my oh my they got into a complete panic. the two youngest crying and imploring the french honeymooners to save them from their mother. they looked fleetingly concerned. for a nanosecond. i almost had to call an armed security company to escort us back along the beach to our banda, the kids were so terrified and wouldn't trust me for a minute that i wouldn't start it again. i really didn't want to confess at that point that i was infinitely more terrified by my own tale and vile imagination, than they were... i have never implored that much ever. ever. good spook idea though. hooah.

a detox is being planned. for next week. i am tired of boils. the blood needs to be cleaned. i shall be drinking parsley tea and eating fresh fruit and vegetables and litres of water. for a week. if anyone else has any other wonderful ideas, for cleaning the blood (excluding a complete transfusion), please comment. deeply appreciated in advance.
only after the horse safari, though, the one to west kili this coming week-end.
with carlos and marina and a hoss named santino.
(actually its santiano. so what.)
it looks worryingly stormy over the kilimanjaro region.
nevertheless. on we shall ride regardless. lightening thunder or rain.
i am so excited.

oh yes. how could i forget?

all secondary teachers received a right bollocking from the headmaster this morning. for a full twenty minutes. non stop. he hardly took a breath. have not received a knuckle rapping like that since, ouf, school? a vvvveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery long time ago. (actually it was more like wet ruler slapping on open hands or on bare back. ow. they were so sore.)
what was it about? the bollocking?
oh. not doing our jobs properly. not going that extra mile. being late. not pitching up for covers. not tightening and straightening ties and blah..of course i was late for the briefing. you could have heard a pin drop when i walked in. ping! everyone stared wide eyed and open mouthed at me. like shocked little owls. so of course, i felt immediately that in fact, the entire tirade was for me. it's this guilt thing i suffer from. even walking through the nothing to declare aisle in airports, i feel and look guilty. standing in supermarket checkout counters...only joking.
do you think everyone felt like me? or was it just me?

anyway. to my hugest relief, apparently it wasn't directed at me. he told me only after i had apologized profusely for being late, for being an impostor, for being me, unthinkingly spilling all my apples. doing the i think she doth protest too much, or however it goes.
but no-one would tell me who it really was for. . . not to press The Big Thing Point Home or anything as childishly pathetic as that....

in a strange way, it was a novel experience. yet vaguely and uncomfortably familiar...normally he is so jolly....?

anyway. socks are pulled wayeeeeeeeeeee up. just in case.


Kitchen Board: Thursday Evening: 13 November 2008.

Contributors: Safari Craig. (alias Morning Coffee In Bed Angel)
Comments: still no cheese. ah well. who CARES?

toodely pip. then. and a basket full of lavender scented bisous to you, you and oh ok, to you too then xxx j

Sunday, November 9, 2008

rainy day frida and hot chili peppers. . .

pic: Chapter 12: The Frida Years by janelle

my friend sue jones as Frida.

..." I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best..."

- Frida Kahlo

the rains have arrived! life giving and refreshing like mint and ice on a summer's day. great rain promising clouds give dimension to what was a white heat sky. now, in the mornings, puddles lie like round glinting silver discs down in the valley below. the air has been washed of its dust and is like champagne again. there is snow on mt meru and at night, i lie cosy, and listen to the rain hammering down on the peely green tin roof of the little pink house on the hill.

sometimes, when the rain stops at night, and everything is still, i think i can hear the grass growing. and the stars twinkling. i watch my world turning emerald green. someone painting as fast as lightning...

satiable saturday was simply sensational. sassy and lacy.

we walked down the longest, oldest (it seemed) avenue of jacaranda, lilac petals under our feet, to watch our football star take on champions.

we jumped and shouted and ate strawberry lollipops and chestnuts from albania. jacaranda castles were magically and lovingly built in the moss green shade. and we flew the flag.
we worked like mice in the afternoon to make the little hill house sparkle with light and scented with jasmine, to induce and welcome the spirits; and of course to please our visitors and our hearts. we scattered red rose petals, burnt jasmine incense sticks near the Buddhas, lit endless candles and lanterns, positioned crystals for auspicious occasions, chopped extra chili into the beans, sliced sun warm lemons for the tequila, applied mono brows,wigs, granny's jewels and red lipstick and wore high heeled black shoes and long, full, fire red skirts....
... they rode in from the north, south, east and west on apache hosses from beyond the rio grande, searching for hot chili peppers in a blistering sun. i fell in love all over again with Jose Diamond Texeira Perreira (even though he's really portuguese) he has loads of mexican friends (and russian and chinese). he allegedly does illegal diamond and ivory deals with jonas savimbi and grew up in luanda. everyone says he's dodgey. he wore his ray bans all night long. but i could tell he fancied me. i fancied the hell outta him.

frida scattered her jewelry like petals, and spent most of the evening searching for bits and bobs, her pretty mono brow unperturbed. sue (my friend who was frida) felt she was being channeled. well surprise surprise. in fact, we could all see it happening before our very eyes. i could see her autobiography: Chapter 12, The Frida Years...

on sunday i was kidnapped by two random mexicans, who happened to be at the hootenanny the night before. i knew they looked suspicious. but with names like carlos and marina, and a hoss called santiano, it was irresistible.

we galloped over the hills on sunday - our hearts wild and racing with the clouds and passing aeroplanes. i was nervous to gallop but felt exhilarated when i finally let go and risked it. wildly free. the horse checking his stride to fly over an aardvark hole, hidden in the grass. what could have happened flashed past me in the blink of an eye. and was gone in a nanosecond as santiano and i flew to the top of the hill. winged and sunlit. laughing. alive.

hello monday! hello wet rainy day monday. my body aches from my sunday ride. i am preparing for my horse safari next week-end on west kilimanjaro. i already long for smokey camp fires, wide open spaces and horses.

but for now, its monday morning. and school begins. my woken heart and head reach out towards my students. for now, the inspiring creative space at school, whilst thoughts of camp fires, wildness, hosses and mexicans lean against sun warm walls in my dream scape...

Kitchen Board: Monday Morning 10 November 2008

Contributors: me.
Comments: buenos noches watu wote.
toodely old pip. xxx bisous - hot chili peppery ones! j

Thursday, November 6, 2008

winds of change

(the cloud is dust, hurling itself on the wind towards our little lego house, obliterating any view and looking likely to obliterate me. taken yesterday. it didn't)

well well well. what a week. boy am i glad that i am alive on this planet at this precise point in time, to witness mr obama walk tall and deliver his victory speech in chicago and see the first winds, heralding rain. yesterday the rains ALMOST happened, but as it came closer, we realized that it was an haboub style dust storm approaching the hill....we could smell the rain on the far distant steppes, but nothing dropped on the hill....only dust dust dust and wind.

winging it like hell at school and, even if i say so myself, successfully. year 6's want ME ME ME. oh how happy that makes me feel. they actually LIKE me.
well they can't have me again. i am otherwise engaged. they were lucky to have me for three hours of their lives. talking about religion and politics during maths. that's why they loved me. still. isosceles triangles are so done. easy peasy. i was lucky enough to meet a boy who firmly believes that money certainly can buy happiness.

what rot that it can't. i don't believe it for a minute, he said.

he almost convinced me. he should go into politics. not science. he said, in front of his best friend, that oh yes indeed, he would trade in his friend in exchange for all the money in the world. his lap top brings him more happiness than any friend ....
oh YEAH????? you wait and see buddy, i said, waggling my eczema ridden finger in front of his chubby freckled little face. all the buddhist philosophising in the world was not going to change his 11 year old mind. he saw it so clearly and was no-where near being convinced by me.
which planet are you from again, buddy? ARP 147?

but these dry dusted winds have brought, more importantly, world change to our little pink house on the little brown hill. actually it's more likely to be habari.co.tz, our internet provider. still. it's way more poetic to attribute it the wind. Barak Obama has restored hope onto our screens of life. the american people have inspirationally proven that democracy is still alive and kicking. just when the marxists woke up and started getting themselves into equal teams....tsk tsk...missed the boat again, karl, just....don't give up though. the american people have gloriously managed to begin to change the course of american history. in a completely unforgettable way. yesterday was the only time i have ever wished to be american. yesterday i was emotionally overwhelmed. my god that man can talk. and my god, i hope he can do what he says he will do. martin luther king must be having a party up there. doing a jig to we can we can...

africa and the africans are jubilant, of course. they think that BO is going to save them from their miserable lives of war and poverty and actually give them a future. i explained to amneey (a tanzanian driver) that in fact obama was president elect of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and not of tanzania or kenya (even though kibaki made it a public holiday yesterday, knowing that obama is in fact a LUO??? ahem ahem) and that possibly mr obama had enough problems of his own at home, before he can begin on africa and its adolescent ways. i continued, in my appalling swahili, that it was highly unlikely obama's step grandmother from kogelo will allegedly make it to the white house to teach michelle how to make chipatis, which, she claims, are mr obama's favourite food. i might be wrong. i'll eat my hat if i am.

not to detract from this momentous occasion. it's the fact that for the first time in the history of america, a black man has made it to the top. it's this that has inspired the entire continent. it's given everyone hope. particularly me. it now means that maybe one day i can be president elect of zambia.

oooergh. i'd REALLY eat my hat. on camera. if that ever came to pass.

safari craig arrives home on saturday after huntin' chasin' buffalo in the wilds of the serengeti. i am throwing a welcome home party. he wants beans and chillis and tequilla. and a few mexican dancing girls, me of course, being The Main One. i shall paste a mono brow across my forehead, douse myself in piles of silver and jade, drink tequilla shots all night, do the tango, play Juarez and be frida for the night. (as in khalo, just in case any of you were imagining frida in the mountains yodelling in a tight pair or lederhausen...oh now come to think of it. . . )

afternoon winds are ruffling the dust up again, she whimsically notices out her window...the mountain looks dark and stormy..let's see if it's a false alarm again. my children still think a pathetic drizzle is the equivalent of rain. when will they ever learn?

Kitchen Board: Thursday Afternoon: 6 November 08

Contributors: Veronica and Eliza.
Comments: Eliza supports five children on her own. Her husband left her. For another woman. She has no education. She speaks no english.Veronica supports two children. But has a good husband so at least they both earn enough to keep the wolves from the door. These two women are angels. There is much to learn from humility. So much.

so tooooodely old pip then - flying bisous - lightening dusty stormy ones (in lederhausen - garumph garumph - couldn't resist) xxx j

Monday, November 3, 2008

bollox to the wellingtons....

they fuck you up, your mum and dad
they may not mean to but they do.
they fill you with the faults they had
and add some extra, just for you.
- Philip Larkin
my last posts seem so dreary and really, not meaning to be. bollox to that and lets talk about life on the hill, this past week-end. what's really been happening. well. actually. been burning the candle at both ends, so to speak. consequently, am recovering and trying to remember it all. in sequence. you will detect, a vague alcoholic thread which weaves the week-end together.

my mother always said to me, the more you do the more you can do. she is absolutely right, of course.

friday afternoon: dabbled in some smart dressage moves until my horse went lame. very disappointed. evening, strolled over to neighbours in the twilight, admired the quite splendid views of the maasai steppes en route. sat on their verandah, sipping (actually more like guzzling, just in case friday was over in a blink) wickedly strong vodkas and paw paw juice and lots of ice. sitting outside, watching scorpio embrace the crescent moon. got very drunk in an hour and half and was in bed by nine. fast asleep. squiffy. possibly blogged. always a hazardous past time. blogging or emailing when drunk.

saturday: blogged? stared dazedly out at the white heat. attended kids birthday party at the worst time of day, 2 in the afternoon. when the world walks backwards it's so hot. stayed. only because there was free cold white wine and lashings of chocolate cake. oh and because i love m, and love to time in her pink kitchen, watching her artfully ice cakes (she has been voted The Best Cake Maker In The World), solving the world's problems (and b's) all at the same time. sped madly to Bonfire Night at school, (with about six kids in the car) listening loudly (vol. 10) to a song with the eff word in it. and i let the kids hang out the windows at the turn off. a wild sunset moving sunset, warm winds in our hair. laughing and being crazy.

the fireworks were so magnificent i wanted to cry.

sunday up at dawn to head to usa (pronounced oosa) river to watch polo. kenyans against tanzanzia. gideon moi was playing, as in daniel arap moi's son. kenya won. 12-9.
the sun was merciless so was forced to take refuge under an enormous fig tree a cote le pitch and hastily quaff back iced lemoned gin and tonics, as the horses thundered magnificently past. exhilirating stuff. so by the time we arrived at the russian classical guitar concert sunday evening, the kids and i were pooped. nevertheless onwards and upwards. pleas of "maaaaaaaaarm, do we HAVE to go? please? were responded with curt:

oh you'll LOVE it. you'll see. its good for you. stop complaining. OH STOP BLOODY WHINING WILL YOU???? DO YOU KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE? and anyway, can't change plans at the last minute now, can we? armies would never win wars if they changed their plans at the last minute now would they? now come on.

the artist was pavel khlopovski. of course there were vodka shots before, with pate and caviar and little twinkly lights hung delicately around a lemon tree, the stars were just out and it was, magical. i felt perfect exactly where i was. admiring the lights and the stars and the people mingling.

the man is clearly a genius. he most certainly knows the flow state. it was the audience which drove me crazy. it was an audience from hell. cell phones ringing, (even when told to turn them off before the concert), unattended kids scraping chairs and playing games at the back of the hall, old men knocking over glasses, not once, but TWICE..oh on and on it went. it must have been like playing for The Flintstones...my son a prime example. he found me between J.S Bach's Preludium and H. Rodrigo's Invocation y danza, rolling his eyes, absolutely furious with me, saying through clenched teeth, "mum! THIS IS SOOOOOOOO BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORING!!!!" while i clenched my teeth and pretended to be oblivious to anyone else in the hall. of course, i am a perfect audience.

and then before i could say chililambombwe, my god, it was monday all over again. bollox to the wellingtons. monday and tea and biscuits. monday and back to school. monday and loving the kids all over again.

Kitchen Board: Monday Evening: 3 November 08:

Contributors: janelle, rubin, gabriella
Comments: crickets are singing in the house tonight. the resident rat is back. he'd better watch out for the cat. she's hungry and will take no prisoners. the wind is gentle , and the stars dusty. and well. isn't it a nice thought to think that, there is always someone, somewhere watching the stars. . . . .someone pulled something mega out the hat for me this week-end, and i very much suspect it was mr universe...
toodely pip and bisous XXX dusty star ones... all thoughts to the world as we wait for the results of the American elections.