Thursday, July 31, 2008


just to let you all know that the house is full again of dear friends from zambia, their darling children and wonderful noise, light and hecticness... not a moment to spare for blogging...

more like "ok everybody. can you keep quiet for 5 minutes? oh ok for um one minute? BLOODY WELL SHUT UP WILL YOU!????" and stalking back into the kitchen as medievil racousness breaks out joyously in my wake.

quick updates:

sirrocco's (the old war horse) stitches are out and wound has healed beautifully.

my car is now being rewired as we speak and can't wait to get it back.

safari craig is home and buried underneath gadgets, punctures and such things. . .

polar bears are no joke. it has been freezing.

i have started running again.

arranging a huge party for tommorrow night for all my utterly divine friends. and think i shall go out and buy snacks....instead of cooking...whew... or maybe cook in the large big round black pot over a fire. yeah. that'll do. straighten hair so i look like jen as in arniston - heavy locks to throw about. make an effort and all that malarky.

not smoking is not an issue. not smoking is not an issue.

i watch my thoughts and monitor them - swiftly removing the bad ones. practising hard at this.
the universe is responsive. the universe is responsive.

dare i say it, my second album will happen. oh MY GOD.
swiftly moving on. don't dwell there...just in case and all that.

i suspect i am a grown up now. finally.

toodely pip then and of course, bisous - mingi. xxx j

Kitchen Board: Thursday 31 July 2008:

Contributors: pam, miranda's famous artist mum and one of my most divine guru friends ever.

Comments: what IS that inside his sister?

Friday, July 25, 2008

abdi's dream house. . .

this sms yesterday evening from dearly beloved, in the middle of bloody no-where.

bad signal. can't phone. saw baby elephant die. herd picking it up. In huge thicket.. Trumpeting. Panicking Mexicans. Getting late. Me worrying. Crying daughter. Just got here to LMTL (sic. Lake Manyara Tree Lodge)

the art of the sms. words, calm as apples, on a screen.

i can't quite get out of my head this vision of mexicans in large sombreros huddled together in the car with wildly ranting elephants crashing about in the undergrowth....and safari craig keeping it all together. whew. note to self: must get story and pics when he gets home.

reasons why i must not smoke again:

because it was so hideous giving up. cold turkey. sweats, shakes and lets never forget The Rage (which i clearly smoked away for twenty years or so). i now run it away. once in a blue moon, it seems.

everyone says my skin is much better. (not convinced - think they are just being polite and anyway of course all the wrinkles are stretched out because i have put on weight since quitting.)

my voice is stronger when i sing. love this.

i feel healthier.

its an intelligent life affirming thing to not smoke.

and i don't want to be a fat smoker. that's a lose lose situation.

its the week-end. farrier abdi came up this morning. to shoe all the horses. i asked him how life was for him.

hard. life is hard. he said.

if abdi could have one thing that would change everything in his life, by the geni, he would choose a three bedroom house, in moivaro (foothills of mt meru). it would be blue and "rangi ya maziwa" - (colour of milk) so i said Oh white? and he said no no no! me: cream? abdi: yes yes. i love that colour. i love that colour. like elephant teeth.

later i am supposed to be going to someone'e 40th. which means i will most likely have to change. what an effort. it also means i will have to cut short my schooling time with the horses. because it starts at 5:30. i have to drag all the chidren with me. what a bloody drag.

if i don't go the few friends that will be there will all talk about me and worry about me - that i'm not socialising enough, that i'm bored, that i need to do something with my life (but why, i wail), that essentially i am deeply unhappy. unfulfilled. apparently allegedly and all that.

maybe i'll go anyway. and prove them right.

hah. fun.

national anthem of the week: Burning Down The House by Talking Heads. (replace "house" with "car")

song dedication to a martian: Road by Nick Drake.

toddely pip and bisous xx j

Kitchen Board: Groovy Saturday Afternoon: 26th July 2008

Contributors: Daniel, Miranda, Janelle and Eliza

Comments: its TRUE! they are.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

the car, she is buggared. . . .

i am speechless. for various reasons.

firstly because i am so tired and hung over from my two person party with horse riding buddy marina (got to sleep around three thirty - checking up on you bloggers...god. talk about addictions, eh?)

and secondly because i have just seen my car.....

going back in time. . . . to recap. (since last posting)

here i am at three this morning. (before seeing car, after blogging and certainly feeling invincible and brave) and, um, happy.

here i am at eight this morning, before seeing car, checking up on COMMENTS (eyebrows wriggling frantically and obviously in your direction). here i am suffering from self inflicted lack of sleep and a hideous hang over but "hanging in there" nevertheless, because i am special, or so i have been told..picture entitled: Brave Face Running Horse, which was my apache name in a previous life. agh. whatEVER. eyebrows raised to keep eyes opened.

en route to see car. me, gabby and amnaay driving (because i am not With It this morning) in landrover. hooray amnaay our dearest fix it man on the entire planet is back!!! he makes everything ok. everything. he remained tight lipped though, when i told him about the car.

my car. oh dear. my car. what a mess. what a tragic mess. the car she is "buggared", apparently. according to the chief auto electrician at the workshop. at least she isn't "fucked" which would mean that it would be unfixable. every single wire is melted. frankly, it looks "fucked" to me. how we did not rocket up to space in a ball of fire is, according to yorkshireman mort (mort the mortician in charge of workshop), "fooking unbelievable." angels. we have angels. if that is correct then i am calling in all Money Angels. calling in all Money Angels. please. because its going to cost a "fooking lot of money mate". according to mort. (note steering wheel position and wires wires wires wires everywhere)
a close up for those interested, present company excluded. dash board. that is the dash board. god. to get your bearings, see small gear lever in bottom right hand corner.

still. deeply unimpressed after seeing my car. me on back of landrover sulking tired hungover and cold. picture taken slyly (and secretly delightfully) by first born.

but gabby gets to see her sunflowers next to the airport. finally.

my god its freezing today. those polar bears will be back. i know.

TP and weary X's

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

" caught between heavan and hell..."

so i was driving down the road this evening ...after dropping the kids off at the kind, christian, PLAY-STATION-ACTIVE family for a sleep over... and i understood the pink floyd line "caught between heavan and hell", for the first time. it's a state of mind. rather. as flippant as a switch.

there i was driving into a paltry grey afternoon, with the last born, 5 or something, shouting at me because i didn't stop at the sunflowers outside the airport because she needs to see one close up. for the first time ever. i remember when i first saw her. in the charitable hospital, arusha, being scanned by a somalian gynae in a grimy grey cold dusty building, who was so shocked because i couldn't remember when my last period was. so i didn't dare ask him if this could possibly be an immaculate conception because i couldn't actually remember having sex.
and there on a flickering black and white screen was a heart beat. racing. clearly, beautifully, immaculately.

maybe i'm thick or something. it's taken me a while.

stuff kitchen board. boring. its two in the morning.

toodely and all...
bisous xxx
oh and ps. my car is fucked. completely. and apparently we are bloody lucky we didn't all die in a ball of flames.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

robin hood rules & rude lillies.

and it's not an official tongue twister.
robin hood rules. he has lived in our lounge since yesterday morning. the boys have watched the series for, ouf, must be 20 hours, with a night's sleep somewhere in between. amazing. it must have something to do with going cold turkey on the PS. todays journals are filled with sketches of bows and arrows.

i have escaped these bizarre screen addictions by riding my amazing white steed. ditched the prince and stole his horse. common around these parts. my. he is a fine horse, my rhino. (his name). he impressed a dressage fundi no end today. flipping intelligent.

sat and drank coffee under the african winter sun next to the lillies in the yard (lillies are delightfully rude and beautiful). i love them.

i am feeling grossly rotund, red faced. and sweaty. like a, um, big fat eastern european man. don't even begin to ask! refusing to change out of my grubby white jodphurs and chaps when i took the kids out for cabbage and beer today - (oops, i mean pizzas) - is not what people refer to as Helping Oneself, is it?

people were staring a bit.

so i say tentatively to the kids, " god. i feel like a big fat eastern european man....." sigh sigh a brave testing of the waters, i say.

so first born says, in all horrible honesty, " that jacket you're wearing, is like a gestapo jacket hey ma?..."

thought bubbles: "oh blast. buggar. damn. whatever," as i goosestepped to the loo.

Kitchen Board: Sunday Night: 20 July 2008

Contributors: Veronica, Janelle and Gabby.

Comments: . . . . pass.

Friday, July 18, 2008


and ps...going out door. for dinner. bloody excited.

a demain.

toodely pip and all that...



(pic by buzz)

to add on to last night.

see miranda's posting from yesterday. it's about the same story but from a different angle..a great read because she got it exactly right...all the good bits too!

but, more importantly, much more importantly, THERE IS A PICTURE OF THE FALSE LION MANE WAISTCOAT.

and the band.

i have batteries finally. just back from town.

tp and xx. j

Thursday, July 17, 2008

the second eye.

wah wah wah wah. i tend to go on a bit eh?

yesterdays posting was a marathon. by the time safari craig gets home, i should have at least ten novels penned. i'll be spoken for. no more words.

hope not too boring (wriggling eyebrows again in your direction). where did i lose you? the client bit? in the middle of bloody no-where bit i bet. hah.

universe blitzed in mo today. again. i mean, how original?

no matter. WE HAD FUN. mo walked into our first class of the course Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain.
Henri Matisse talking to his friend Andre Marchand: Do you know that a man has only one eye which sees and registers everything; this eye, like a superb camera which takes minute pictures, very sharp, tiny -and with that picture man tells himself: "This time i know the reality of things" and he is calm for a moment. Then, slowly, superimposing itself on the picture, another eye makes its appearance, invisibly, which makes an entirely different picture for him.
Then our man no longer sees clearly, a struggle begins between the first and the second eye, the fight is fierce, finally the second eye has the upper hand, takes over and that's the end of it. Now it has command of the situation, the second eye can then continue its work alone and elaborate its own picture according to the laws of interior vision. This very special eye is found here," says Matisse, pointing to his brain.
Marchand didn't mention which side of his brain Matisse pointed to. - J. Flam. Matisse on Art.

2nd Born (on hearing the title of the book): ah der ma, we only have ONE brain.

hateful mother: um well actually you don't but ouf. whatever. sit up will you?

anyway, yeah. mo walked in and joined the drawing class (more like brawling bawling class) at the very point where i lost it with first born for sighing and always been angry and negative then throwing his pencil to the floor. the other two kids (and mo) were round eyed, silent and rather owl like, i thought. so it was tears and me dragging him to the room to talk and us both crying and hugging each other and telling each other how we love each other and how sorry i am but anyhow, back to the drawing board darling. back onto the horse. then gabby cried because she found drawing her hand way too hard. and i shouted at her for always dropping her pencil, at which point mo pointed out, it breaks all the lead inside the pencil and as pamu (mo's ma and famous artist) says you might as well throw it away hah i have such a thing about dropping pencils...and blah.

hmmm. messy. messy.

slamming doors and screaming ensued. beautiful. this is such FUN.

unt vee vill haff fahn, ja? rauss rauss.

(sic. ed. bad bad.)

mo said: wow. this is really working beautifully.

and me scowling into the mirror, drawing a 92 year old self portrait. unlike my last one. an oil. which i thought was bloody good. showed it to safari (and obviously sleepy) craig and said what do you think? at which he said "is that michael jackson?"

in the end we had fun in the drawing class and there is a future to this. there is.. if anything, we will learn to see carefully, i hope.see the spaces, not the lines. the meanings in the gaps between the words.

we even made it to mitumba - the second hand clothes market. it's a riot. of colour, clothes, people. piles and piles of seond hand clothes, blankets, towels, hand bags, sequined belts, indian kaftans, baby clothes, hats, shoes of all kinds (todays best siting was a pair of knee high, about size 5, silver SILVER cow boy boots.), underwear, sweaters, tracksuits oh just EVERYTHING. and when you rummage you find classics - sequined gowns and mumbai princess wedding saris. a visit to mitumba demands time, creative thought, letting go, feeling like a free wheelin' hippy and knowing the deal and how the hell to stick to it. walk away just walk away. love it. love mitumba. love the haggling, me beating down the exhorbitant mzungu prices. and mo speaking fluent slick street wise swahili. throwing out trendy casual slang, impressing everyone. bitch.

rubin needed trainers. daniel needed sandals. gabby needed more toys of course. so mo and i and the kids pile into the landrover. boys have to go on the back because there is no space in front cab. talk about snaggle toothed hill billies heading for town.... goddang. half way there, the boys bang on the roof to tell me to slow down. nerds. they said they were cold. so i relented and let one into the front and leant the other one my fake lion fur waistcoat. imagine? driving all the way through town? i nearly leant him those new zanzibari aviators too. it would have looked incredible. unbelievable. embarrassment (naturally and almost to my relief) flickered over his face and he muttered something like, "but what happens in a traffic jam?" i thought he was talking about you know, robbers and stuff but in fact i don't think he wanted to be seen DEAD in that coat.... its really warm. and really synthetic. it looks like you have a lion mane draped over you. in fact, its a really really weird waistcoat. i met some professional hunters the other night at the bar (yes i went out, imagine?) who said my god, we've been looking for a mane like that (pointing to my coat) in maswa (a hunting area) for years....(god. whatEVER dudes...oooooergh. so refined. so refined. bowls me over.)

i have never given my pukey fake lion mane waistcoat much thought really until today, when it caused such a stir at the market and i found myself turning down deals for it. i never even bought the damned thing. dear friend sooby gave it to me. and i love it. i saw its star potential. i am very very attached to it like i was to my green datsun twelve hundred. i wear it all the time and it keeps me warm. its glamorous, for fucks sake.

we drove home with second hand T-Shirts (about 5) , a pair of trainers, a pair of sandals, two small bears called "March" (???? i know!) and Valentina (the pink one), one double duvet and two hawaii shirts. all for 90 000 tshillings. divide that by 1150 to get dollars. hmmm about $78. (used my cell phone because solar calculator doesn't work at night) is this a lot ? or is this cheap?

everyone was very happy with their purchases and deals and i was more than delighted, faith and humour happily and instantly reinstalled when i discovered my phone in the landrover which meant no-one had pick pocketed me. phew.

then it was the ngorobob grassroots blues band practise back up in dem snaggle toothed blue grass country hills..

rubin (9) on bass, jasper (5) on rhythm and lead guitar, gabby (5) on violin and finley (3) on percussion (egging) and me the conductor (25) . this is the beginning of our song. its all on E (e string, em or emajor chord, doesn't matter - any form of e will do at this stage). 1 2 3 4 the guitars boom down on "1" and the violin comes in for 2,3,4 with egg shaking on "4".

what a mess. and so beautiful because everyone thought they were on time and utterly brilliant (even i did, surrounded by so many little prodigies in the making). mo is official band photographer.

it was exhausting trying to keep this lot together. in time, you know. the rudimentary beginnings of rhythm are ever so vaguely there. we have hope. the musicians soon tired and started opting out for biltong snacks and a game of doctors or mummies and daddies or god help me telly tubbies. these kids are so backwards, they don't even know about telly tubbies.

rubin said poker faced " everyone's dropping out of the band. it's like spinal tap. what are we doing next mum?"

gave peter, jane and pat a wide berth tonight. oooooergh.

right. think i am blabbing on again.

no kitchen board tonight because guess what? i forgot to buy batteries for my camera. again. and the old ones rattling around in the bottom of the camera bag are really really flat now.

and anyway - its only bread and paraffin on the list so far for tommorrow. must deposit cheque and maybe order some more water...and check horses wound, tennis..
toodely pip then and xxbisousxx j

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

coincidently, where was i?

does everyone go through this blogger crisis? like what to write? feel that if nothing major or dramatic happens then frankly, what is there to say? i fear this blogging malarky will lead me into wayward distractions. into trouble. so i at least have something remarkable about which to write. what did bacon say about leading extraordinary lives? or was that someone else? it was oscar wilde who said something about us all lying in the gutters but some of us are looking at the stars...

you know, i get this daily email from the Universe. yes. It. .and i know there was all this silly hype about that book The Secret, you know, all consumerist and see the big house, the flash car, the healthy body, the sexy wife and all that and whoosh suddenly you have it and you can, apparently, laugh away cancer...but, these little emails i receive are little inspirational daily reminders. yesterdays one was crap, clearly, or maybe i didn't understand it enough...but i liked todays:

If you just whistle every now and then, janelle; skip every thousandth step or so; skim the odd stone across the odd pond; go dancing on the occasional blue moon, if only alone in the dark; dress up sometimes, even with nowhere to go... for simply stirring up some little bit of hope, no matter how silly or disconnected your actions seem to be with the rest of the world, magic flashes in the unseen, friends are summoned, connections are timed, stars are aligned, opportunities are crystallized and serendipities are calculated, creating possibilities for new realities that cannot now even be imagined from where you presently stand.
Shazaam - The Universe

man. a great way to start the day. deluded? maybe. maybe not.

you know, i love the jungian theory of coincidences...or not coincidences.

i digress.

at present, after only two days sans The PS (playstation for those not in the know), my life is remarkably similar to a telly tubby life. (but without the uncontrollable toaster) god. remember those little freaks?

anyway. the last two days have been a little bit like being stoned with the telly tubbies in their telly tubby garden. so it was with huge relief (in retrospect) that mo and i crossed paths this morning and she joined us in our telly tubby frolic of tennis, learning new card tricks , cooking classes and dressing up as princes and fairies on was Bloggers Unite all over again and for real. .i was getting desperate. are there any adults out there, i dreamt? I NEED ATTENTION. and whoosh the universe blitzed in mo. could have blitzed in that italian from vietnam, though. the one that mo and i dreamed up to cross the pedestrian crossing in front of manjis petrol station. he didn't quite shimmer into view at that particular point in time but i tell you, thirty minutes later outside the ice-cream shop he cruised past..... no matter. it was lovely beautiful miranda, soul sister of mine, today.

detail your wishes. detail your wishes.

i feel as fat as a telly tubby too. bloody hell. why won't the telly belly just go away? and i am only on DAY 2 of my great big bloody marvelous idea of confiscating The Playstation. . . . . things are stacking. starting to stack.

so yesterday we ran walked 5 kms. must confess it was rather far for gabby...who was in tears (ish) by the end but had healthy ruddy cheeks and had to listen to my lecture about not crying because think of all those little maasai girls who have to walk miles to the clinic by the church because a dog bit their cheek and their mummy's don't carry them and blah blah blah a not too dissimilar lecture to the ones previously used on the boys about homeless sudanese kids with no parents or food only bullets raining down on them and the streets kids lying in the cold nights on the pavements, exposed to hunger and dangerous grownups oh and lets not forget the kids in mogadishu and BLAH. she still cried and i ended up carrying her for all of five meters before dumping her and making her walk the last twenty or so.... she is bloody heavy, man.

...violin and guitar lessons in the afternoon. my students were dreadful. useless sausage fingers. one forgets about one's rough calluses after thirty odd years of strumming. i'm like growling at the kids "darling. HOLD your finger hard on the string....but keep the note clear...PUSH with your no. like this. like THIS..stop picking your nose and look,. i said like THIS (as i wrench the poor child's hand around) rubin: maaaaaaarm. our fingers are sore.... ow. you're hurting me. i can't do this.

me: FOR GODSAKES DARLING. ok okokokokokokokokok sorry. ok well give your hand a rest then..sigh sigh....

hateful mother: oh stop whining. come on darling! be tough. oh ok. sigh sigh.

great mothering skills, huh? and a rubbish teacher. need that suzuki music methodology teaching aid: How To Teach Your Child To Play An Instrument Without Resorting To Violence.
the exact book which was gently yet kindly edged towards me by one of the mothers at gabby's violin lesson yesterday.

so i guess a 5 and 9 year olds fingers are far tenderer. still. hell. where do you start? hang down your head tom dooley? jamaican farewell? whats the history little miss mystery? there really is nothing complicated about D and Em....
and the journals continue: I rodde rhino. i played tenis. i went to cook.
above entries shared between two authors.

well. clearly playstation addict rage seems to be abating yet moulding into plain, horrid conventionalism. i will not comment lest i block this latest creative surge, dedicatingly scrawled into their much loved journals.
i read, under great duress, gabby's Level 1A with her. amazing. jane and peter and pat (the dog, a rather handsome looking red setter, if you remember ) are still knocking about the place, playing on idyllic beaches and deep green forests with silky soft thornless lawns - something from dreamland, with obviously absent parents or child minders. every now and then, like at The Toy Shop - you see a kind pudgey looking lady in the background, dressed ina 1950's crimpolene butter yellow frock, dark curls about her kindly cream and strawberry complexion. buxsome. she must be The Kindly Shop Assistant (although we don't get to Assistant or Kindly in Level A1.) Peter and Jane predate everything. everything. they are comfortingly wrong. they are pre war england. almost.
we can deduce, naturally, that jane is either mental or deaf because of the way peter talks to her:

Here is Pat, Jane. See Pat come Jane. Look. Look Jane. jane! JANE! Jaaaaaaaannnne! Jane, pat is coming. Look. Here is Pat. Peter likes Pat. Jane likes Pat. Jane do you like Pat?Pat likes Peter. Pat likes Jane. and onandonandonandonandonandonandonandonandonandonand on WE GO.
jane is hellova special.

and when i point to the word "Like" and ask the young gabriella what it says, she doesn't have a bloody clue...

might be good for learning to read but it makes for brain draining, suicidal bedtime reading. try reading above extract with expression....whew. and look at yourself in the mirror when you say it...
must must find Dr Seuss alphabet. far more fun, i say.

had to buy contact lense cleaner for safari craig to send out on the next plane headed his way - far and beyond to the middle of no-where tommorrow. i have a great affection for the phrase :In The Middle Of No-Where." we once had a client in zambia who had to make a business phone call. we drove miles through the dust and heat and tsetse fly infested country to get him back to the main lodge for his phone call. the main lodge, in those days, was like Town. Humming. Busy. Where EVerything Happened. i was lurking about the office door, sort of half listening sort of half not, to his conversation.

Client: Hello? HELLO? (to himself, christ this line's shit) HELLO!? Frank CAN YOU HEAR ME? Yes. Its Alastair. Yes. Fine, fine. WHAT? Oh. in the middle of bloody no-where.

at the opticians i purchased a pair of aviators (oh nameless lableless zanzibari cheapos) for ten bucks and received another diamante pair for free! hah. deeply suspicious and fear that it may be an al quaeda ruse, with invisible poisonous dust on the lenses which will slowly make me blind...heathen pig that i am.
kids had a blast at tennis. then home where mo taught everyone more card tricks and clever things to do with a piece of string. intricately wind it around fingers, tug and it all falls away freely without knotting. so clever. way beyond me of course.

and then, oh then, THE COOKING CLASS. what a blast it was. such fun and so productive. sal was simply amazing and wonderful...decided to do a picture story on cooking class...

walking over to cooking lesson with fellow blogger miranda, apron donned. (

preparing the dishes...polenta cutlets and tomato sauce and awesome carrot muffins.

everyone had tasks but the zizzerizer was the most popular.

and some had good old fashioned things to busy themselves with like buttering the pan, licking the dishes and the spoons...

some of us were into more esoteric things, like the orgasmatron - a "thing" apparently invented in australia, circular, with copper prongs shaped for a head, manoevered by a wooden handle. its lowered slowly onto your head, light scalp pressure, then lifted, twisted and lowered be repeated until sensation has gone... its whacky and LOVELY! look carefully you can just see the copper prongs...every house hold should have one.

...and mo loving The Blue Ball which matched her jersey exactly.

never quite got round to the piano lesson but heard first born tinkling, teaching himself mary had a little lamb, of all hits? ? stabbing it out with a single second finger. keep it simple. keep it simple. tommorrow it'll be chopin baby.

ended the day with fancy dress and horses. the horse fairy and the prince on a fine white steed called rhino....delightfully dreamy and more alice in wonderland than telly tubby land...

i think i dreamed up today.

i think i did.

Kitchen Board: Wednesday 16 July 2008:

Contributor: me.
comments: dedicated to Dumdad...All About Lists.
xbisousx comme toujours - off to watch that movie i promised myself.

Monday, July 14, 2008

an electric complicated wiring story: more tales from The Pink House On The Hill.

bollox to a responsive universe. i never dreamed up today. i know i didn't.

perhaps i have forgotten to practise gratitude. well. THANK-YOU THANK-YOU THANK-YOU from the bottom of my enormous gooey heart for the new battery in my car. but You didn't have to make it catch on fire at the bottom of the hill now did You? so there i was with my second and last born children and godwin's old dad who lives in a village at the bottom of the hill, trundling into a wet wintery african morning, armed with shopping lists, money (at long last) and a fairly positive attitude. christ. i stopped and picked up godwin's old dad, didn't i? i mean how thoughtful is that? eh? eh? You there in the long white dress with the big white beard... yes You, You deaf old biddy.

next thing i feel a coldness. i think. oh that's odd. windows are all shut. i feel the air coming out the air con vents. i make sure all switches are off. strange. the air con hasn't worked in years. how very odd. next thing the cold air is accompanied by an even more bizarre odour, smartly followed by smoke. which increases by the second. it suddenly dawns on me that we are on fire. forget about moses and the burning bush. jesus. try janelle and the frigging burning toyota. so we screech to a halt at the bottom of the hill and i shout at everyone to bail. "GET OUT QUICK! THE CAR IS ON FIRE! THE CAR IS ON FIRE!" the kids leap out like baboons. the old man sits still and stares in front of him, cradling his walking stick and thinking of happier times; he hasn't even registered we have stopped. oh jeez. " haraka haraka! iko moto indani ghari! hatari sana! haraka!" my atrocious swahili aside, the next minute godwin's old dad swings into action and fast. i try and turn the car off but it won't. it simply won't be turned off. oh hell. oh bollox. we are about to explode a la james bond film. how miserable. under this old flame tree on a grey miserable morning. argh. so i try and stall it, forgetting that the old man isn't as fast or nimble as the kids and is still busy bailing...because of fast declutching to stall the flipping car, i knock the old man off his feet, banging him on the head with the car door as he is down in the mud. oh for godsake. its terrible. rubin second born " maaaarrrrhhhhmmmmm - you hit the old man. you hit the old man!" as if i hadn't bloody well noticed. i mean it wasn't like we were speeding along you know... and the car still won't be turned off... i scream back " FIND WATER! FIND WATER!" last time it was "FIND A MAN! FIND A MAN!" so off the kids run shouting "maji! maji! maji!" while the old man stares closely at his knee. a nanosecond later our maasai neighbours appear with buckets of water. one man tries to open the smoking bonnet, which i thought rather brave of him. the bonnet refuses to open. he begins to violently wrench the bonnet repeatedly. eventually the car turns itself off. there are hisses and spits sparking inside the engine. we manage to prise open the bonnet (keeping it in tact at the same time). not to be a mechanic bore, the earth wires (but not the most important ones, the little ones that go off to the left and into the bottom metal bit) are burnt to smithereens. no flames and no more smoke. a finger is pointed and i hear " A Short. This Is A Short."

phone safari craig who happens to be in town, entre safaris. the car shall have to be towed. there are no two ways about it. if we start it, its likely to catch fire and burn - completely. so best we don't. it was towed away sadly. it sits in the workshop as we speak. if anyone is interested in knowing what was wrong, please comment me and i shall fill you in as and when i know. its an electric, complicated, wiring story. but what absolutely gets me everytime is WHAT CHANGED since yesterday? me and machines share no common bond. i get The Screen Saver face when staring into an engine. any engine. i really couldn't give a &@*(. it must just work. and if it won't then it must go away and be fixed by someone who loves and understands engines. and they mustn't try and explain what went wrong and where the problem is. i am simply not interested. never will be. is that too much to ask?) like in my guides exam, in the mechanics section, i kid you not, there is the question: explain how 4 wheel drive works? numbnuts. clutch, and throw the smaller gear into low range, pop out and make sure your hubs are locked (an easy thing to forget - when you are stuck in the mud...of course i locked the bloody hubs for godsake....lemme just check....oh ()@*&$%&*^@#) - not to labour a point or anything careless like that...

moving swiftly on. next. onwards and upwards. kids and i squashed into a landrover, which works, rah rah, chug merrily into hideous town to cross off another shopping list. will it ever end? will it? this endless list making? did i omit lists in my last life or something? perhaps i didn't itemize well enough? or maybe i was some selfish egyptian queen who sent slaves off into cairo with reams of shopping lists whilst i lay next to the Nile being cooled by palm fans and oiled with essential oils? and was a thankless mean old cow.

i have to say though, i crossed paths with a few angels in town. you know, people being helpful when they didn't have to, helping me reverse out of tetchy parking spaces into roaring unforgiving traffic, with smiles on their faces. people letting me into the gas shop, as the doors were closing for lunch and allowing me the last minute. friendly warm people in the queues at shoprite (an african tescos but completely crap) maybe i just looked desperate today??? or maybe i shone?? who knows?

i have confiscated the play station. yes. i have. and have concocted up projects for the 11 yr old Boy), the 9 yr old (boy) and the 5 yr old (girl) for their long summer holidays: i have decided to wholeheartedly Raise My Children, for once. (snigger snigger, i hear you, lets see how long THIS one lasts...)


1. Daily Journals - chronicles of their days. todays:

Rubin: Smoke came out of my mum's car. It came from the A.C.D

Daniel: the writing eminating from his head, in the speech bubble below, says: I had nothing to do so I just drew what I had in mind and this is what came out.
worrying or WHAT? do i give back The Play Station?

2. Drawing course (Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain) - all lectures conducted by me. book on desk to be perused and course to be followed stringently. rauss rauss unt kartoppelkopfing.

3. Sports: tennis, running, football, riding (and hitting polo ball with mallet in ring to try and keep boy interest peaked) learning to ride bicycle for 5 yr old, and motor cross for older kids.

4. everyone has to learn a musical instrument to carnegie hall concert level and no less by the end of the holidays or else: last born - violin (outside teacher) and piano by mother. second born - guitar taught by rock star mother. first born (one nearing puberty and hormonal turmoil years (don't think i ever left those) - hatefully opted for piano taught by hateful mother.

5. cooking classes conducted by darling sal from next door (in exchange for teaching her first born jasper guitar; jasper who is allegely excited and is in full knowledge about the latest turn of events. as i said. allegedly). boys fear cooking shall turn them into girls. (gasp gasp gasp - WHAT?)

6; photography - bird pics for danu p's bird book. work on movie script with kids. ask rich client to bring video camera from the states . make movie and sell rights to spielberg and make millions.

all children were coerced in helping with latest disaster this evening as chronicled below. i felt it would be good for their sense of community and responsibility, and hey, who knows? it could be the start of The Day I Knew I Wanted To Become A World Famous Horse Cardiologist. i asked them to please halter the wounded horse and bring him to the house. minutes later i hear;" it won't fit!" and there they are trying to put the halter on upside down wrong way round. "oh i thought the eyes looked through here." bloody clueless.

first born took the pictures then felt queezy and begged permission to leave "operating theater" (which was front garden and verandah). second born assisted vet admirably - passing scissors and things. last born assisted by merely being present - making fairy houses amongst the injections, blood, bowls of dettol, and steel implements.

so there i was, home, after burning cars and horrible town, settled in front of computer about to update blog and CHECK ON COMMENTS (eyebrows jiggling in your direction) when mwali, the syce, reports old horse sirrocco has " very very bad cut". i go to inspect and OH MY GOD. it's a huge huge GASH....a foot long and an inch deep between his front legs...hideous hideous hideous. i call our amazing vet Lieve, who drops her banking chores in a jiffy and cruises out bee bar bee bar bee bar to our hill.

lieve is one of these amazing woman. she hales from belgium but has lived most of her adult life in africa. she has worked on several projects here in tanzania, one of them with the maasai and their cattle. she would travel out to the middle of no-where - northern maasailand and inject over a thousand head of cattle. she said that these people were the best payers ever. i deeply admire her for her toughness. i would be way too wimpy to go all that way alone, inject 1000 cattle or more for fierce warriors, camp out on my roof and head home on lonely roads with trunk loads of cash...

even though sirrocco is old (26) and today badly wounded, he is a very very strong horse. he wasn't having any of it, even after a hefty tranquilizer. there i was, trying to make him stop and stand straight, and to stop him from plummeting over the edge of the hill. my god. lieve giving me strict instructions not to let him fall on her because well, then, what would we do? quite. ok um. " now you stand up you big old17 hand horse, you hear?" whoa. whoa.

bloody hell. anyway. hats off to lieve. she cleaned and stitched up the wound.

we ended the day with a single malt. or two. standing in the kitchen, heating up the soup whilst swapping tales of our lives and felt much better for dolce vita. si.

Kitchen Board: Monday Evening 14 July 2008

Contributors: Rubin and Daniel Doria (entirely)

Comments: could this be the beginning of the blockbuster? is that how daniel sees his mum and dad? ? gasp gasp...or his brother and himself? tant pis. at least the shopping list is done. hah. toodely pip and xbisousx

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"i had a dream i stood under an orange sky..."

(all photographs by andrew buswell, my dear brother in law - from our beautiful time together)

i love the pale blue goldness of an african winter - and the deep amber of the aloes.

and the crispness of the air. and the love in my heart.

pale blue sky, golden plains, inky hills.

to use a bob dylan line - it sets my heart a reelin'.

cart wheelin'. yeah.

over those hills - mini volcanoes, carelessly scattered over the plains - like coins in a christmas pudding. secret but there.

everything is distilled. and romantic. its those little yellow wild flowers, distant smudgy ink stained hills, the pale gentle sun - pushed northwards.

on the side of my face, on the edge of my elbow.

on my shoulders.

on the edge of my world.

ho hum. it's this time of year again.

and everyone's leaving. going.

we watched out of africa again, with myrtle. and i nearly lost complete control. i was so close to great heaving gut wrenching sobs, lying in a foetal position next to the fire, when they flew over the great rift valley...meryl is simply fabulous. but WHY WHY oh WHY did they cast robert bloody redford? which begs the question: who should have been finch hatton?

so by the time it was the funeral, on the ngong hills and she was harping on about garlands and curls and girls, i was finished. finished. god. i looked a mess the next morning though. great red puffy eyes, my skin taking hours to pop out (pillow creases and exzema). my brother in law commented : whoa. walking add for l'oreal coming in. bastard.

safari craig is back for three days. it is beautiful to see him again. to hear him again. to smell him again. and laugh at his funny stories about his safari. all the mis-translations by his clients which drive him nuts:

maasai are masiah

mt meru is mt mary

maasai boma is masiah burma

baobabs are boababs

and i say tomatoes and you say, um, tomatoes.

client: so um craig, where are the dunes?

Safari Craig: um bob, no dunes in the serengeti. nope. ah, no its not a desert. are you sure you're not thinking about the sahara?

client: oh yup. that'll be it.

Ten days later:

client: um so craig where are the dunes?

safari C: um bob, no dunes in the serengeti. nope. ah, are you SURE you're not thinking about the sahara

Client: oh yup that'll be it.

21 days later:

Client: um, so craig where are the....

so its the end of The Holiday and this great reunion. i feel shattered. shattered that they will all be gone. and i am already sad.


yes. everyone is going, going, gone. tommorrow.

there it lies. between every hello and goodbye. between each breath.

as i said before, i hate goodbyes.

i say.

" rose lipped maidens and lightfoot lads."

Kitchen Board: Saturday 12 July 2008:

well. they've all gone for a last drive out onto the plains then over to God's Toilet (pay attention Mr G) - which is a beautiful mini crater. and they took my camera. so i can't blip a shot of The Board. so instead ......below.

chin chin to these rose lipped, lightfoot people....yeah. yeah. x bisous x janelle

Friday, July 11, 2008

..awards and being tagged! cor.

and finally, here is My Award from Family Affairs!
thanks thanks THANKS lulu!!!!
and and AND - i have been tagged by millenium housewife! and am supposed to tag five blogs and say why i love them.
well: quickly then:(no order implied - they are all GREAT!)
1. Family Affairs (site as above) - funny real intelligent touching - a bloody gem.
2. The God Diaries ( - bloody funny, intelligent and confusing at, is this For Real? or is he just pulling our legs?
3. Holey Vision ( - real, intelligent amusing. an insightful account of having visual impairment. real and unsentimental. adore adore adore tanvi!
4.Piffle ( because she is a doctor with superlative use of language - and again enormously real, funny and clever!
5. and The Times of Miranda and Fleeing Muses because they are MY SOUL SISTERS! and they are both beautiful, clever, gorgeous human beings and i want the world to know them.( and (
6. and and and reluctant memsahib...our darling anthea stuck in the middle of nowhere, reeling out inspirational real tales from The Outpost...from her heart.
ok i know thats seven, but what the hell, eh??
more to follow later. news and whatnot.
toodelypip then.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

...lion in the grass...

just back from the land of baobabs, lion and elephant. tarangire. a mere hour and a half away from crazy town arusha, and one is inundated with elephant around every bend of the river, lion creeping through golden grass, zebra, baobabs and great rollicking african sunsets...myrtle had her fair share of elephant...we sat on a hill and watched a valley full of them was like watching a fish bowl but instead of fish, elephant. extraordinarily beautiful - and intensely soul refreshing and neccessary.
being in the bush is primordial. it reminds us of our true place; in the natural order of things. we are hunters, from the plains, not free from predation. remember where we came from not so very long ago. this piece of writing is one of my favourite and has lurked in my life as far back as i can remember, reminding me every so often of who i am. i thought i would share it with you. perhaps it will strike something in you. please, all us nyummy mummies, excuze mr ardrey's clear exclusion of the female species in below extract. am sure we are included. feminism perhaps hadn't quite raised her hellenic head when he wrote this.
"...not in innocence, and not in Asia, was mankind born. The home of our fathers was that African highland readhing north from the Cape to the Lakes of the Nile. Here we came about - slowly, ever so slowly - in a sky swept savannah glowing with menace.
In neither bankruptcy nor bastardy did we face our long beginnings. Man's line is legitimate.Our ancestry is firmly rooted in the animal world, and to its subtle, antique ways, our hearts are yet pledged. Children of all animal kind, we inherited many a social nicety as well as the predator's way. But most significant of all our gifts,as things turned out, was the legacy bequeathed us by those killer apes, our immediate forebears. Even in the first long days of our beginnings we held in our hand the weapon, an instrument somewhat older than ourselves.
Man is a fraction of the animal world. Our history is an afterthought, no more tacked to an infinite calender. We are not so unique as we should like to believe. And if man in a time of need seeks deeper knowledge concerning himself then he must explore those animal horizons from which me have made our quick little march...
...we are minor beings before gods as appropriately insignificant as our own imagination. We are transitional species, natures first brief local experiment with self-awareness, a head above the ancestral ape, and a head below whatever must come next; we are evolutionary failures, trapped between earth and a glimpse of heaven, prevented by our sure capacity for self-delusion from achieving any triumph more noteworthy than our own sure self destruction..." - ROBERT ARDREY - AFRICAN GENESIS

pearl spotted owls whistling before dawn under fat morning stars. the low elephant rumblings rolling up from the valley below in the soft twilight and the distant whoop of a hyena. smell of dust and the mirage across the great silale swamp. my soul heaves a great sigh. a great sigh.

my parents left early this morning - pre dawn. of course the driver was late. my dad started getting anxious - bringing on a wheeziness....bah. so called mohammed at like 5 in the morning...driver arrived thank god. we had to call in to see dear dr patalia last night just to make sure that dad was ok to fly. we were worried about dvt's and flying and him not being on his blood thinners for a few days...dr patalia fixed me with his black eyes - that alone put me in my place! and reassured my father that all would be ok....whew. okayeeee...still think dr p is an angel. in disguise.
yup. so they are gone. and i hate goodbyes. i like them to be brief. no lingering hugs, no messing about outside the car. get on with it. quick. go. just go.
just go. safari njema. safari njema....oh oh oh.
Kitchen Board: Tuesday 8 July 2008:

Contributors: Veronica

Comments: if i do another shop i shall platz...but what is life without ovacados and fruits?

bisous x janellex

Saturday, July 5, 2008

" let them eat cake"

(back row: liane big sister, myrtle the turtle sister's mother in law and dear friend, step mum liz, dad ron, first born pulling tongue. front row: nephew ant, seond born rubin, neice erin. not sure where last born was. or brother in law.???)

hello! hello! hello! so i'm back. from out of space, but ever so briefly. ever so briefly.

we are like a flock of gannets. we can eat an ox, an entire garden of potatoes, a banana plantation, 5 liters of tobasco sauce, 3 liters of sweet chilli and a lake of wine in one sitting. don't mention the scotch.

i am at a loss for words.

poor dad has been ill. asthma. so we had to dash into town in the night to see sweet dr patalia at the hindu temple. i had smsed him because it was after hours and the next thing he called us to let us know he was waiting for us at the hindu temple. how kind is that? it makes me believe in angels all over again. dad is much better but still weak. it's terribly frightening not being able to breathe, to fill your lungs with air... myrtle, (who now resides in the tent at which, dear readers, uncle fuzz turned his nose ...) also needed a doctor because of plumbing complications. i tried to warn (or rather remind) my dear sister, buzz (brother in law) and myrtle, that dr sheriff's rooms at first glance appear grim. GRIM, rather, with everyone and their aunty crowded into the dark manky corridors. but i think the first world has softened them somewhat and they returned home wide eyed, furious (some) yet armed with pills. whew. what next?

in fact, speech school. where our second born won SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR!!!! and received an incredibly glamorous glass award with mirrored writing. of course i cried and cried with love and pride. what a bloody great big shining gorgeous star he is....oh oh oh. he has done The Eating Tribe proud.

see images of first born and last born really really Into Speech Day below. The princess looks positively injured. mortified is an understatement. all my fault, indeed. we call this look mamba eyes.

and we had sports day too somewhere in between slaying a herd of sheep, harvesting a field of maize, cooking it all and eating it, safari to maasailand and speech day.

safari maasailand was a hit. thank god. we ate ourselves out of camp. the cook was shocked at our consumption levels and i know my bank manager is never going to believe me. like where all the money went. on muesli and cornflakes and sausages. kilimanjaro and meru put on fine majestic displays and everyones hearts felt full (along with our stomaches). the air was sweet and vistas wide and far and simply mind blowing. big sister and kilimanjaro below.

tommorrow we head to tarangire national park to camp and see elephant. kids are dead excited and we look forward to scaring the hell out of them.


oh and ITS MY BIRTHDAY TOMMORROW. all expensive gifts welcome. DHL operates into Arusha and Tanzania. (why does my family think i like practical ethnic things? i love, adore and cherish impractical expensive things.)

Kitchen Board: Saturday Afternoon: 5 July 2008 (day before MY BIRTHDAY)

Contributors: Veronica and Eliza

Comments: meet Eliza. ON RHS of pic. she is here to help whilst family is here and most likely will stay on. she is VERY dear. and VERY sweet. and we all love her already. here vero and her say "cheese" as they clean rice for our evening meal - curry. (i am over my crush on the indian restaurant owner)

toodely pip then to anyone who has been kind enough to hang about waiting for the next post...whoever you are, know that you are loved. LOVED. XXX

PPS: safari craig on safari. deep in the hinterland. somewhere west.
PPPS: a wild bunch of bees have decided that my loft bedroom is a really excellent place to make their hive and honey. wrong. doom and mosquito coils have failed to deter them, only infuriate them, which leads to me running through the house, armed with cans of deadly anti any flying insect spray (dear god. its probably why my dad has developed asthma) chased by furious bees attacking my head which has been cleverly protected in arctic wooly hats. but looks really silly.

sigh sigh. i wish the bees would leave. it makes going to bed quite another experience. one has to sweep aside hundreds of bee corpses and duck from their furious relatives. is this what god feels like, ernest?

even so. there is something quite magical about wild bees.... and in a strange way, i like it that they have chosen my room to "hove" in, for a while....
toodely pip. . . x