Saturday, May 31, 2008

witchcraft, happiness and things...

so i must be the only person in the entire region without a hangover today and boy am i smug and self righteous about it. hah!

much juju in the air since last night...(more on this another time - maybe). witchcraft exists. lately there has been lots about arusha. a man found with a bucket full of chopped off boobs and a head or two. kids getting their tongues chopped out. nigerians and somalians are blamed. but it happens right here. some say its the miners. looking for luck. luck to find the biggest tanzanite ever to end their hard and brutal times. how heads, boobs and tongues achieve tanzanite blue luck is quite beyond me. and frankly i don't like to dwell on it.

once in the paper (Arusha Times) it was reported that two witches were found in a mango tree near kijenge (an arushan suburb). there they were in the newspaper, pictured in a shabby little mango tree surrounded by police. it was alleged that they flew in from tanga (coastal town and miles away) on, i promise you, flying mats. their mission was apparently, to steal people's crops. one of the witches denied these what he called false allegations and said he had only come for the ride and for a change of scene. they had an accident and fell from the sky into the mango tree. you might think, yeah right, two psychotic stoners. maybe. but as i said previously, anything is possible in africa. absolutely anything. i've seen and heard some seriously funky things. (oh lots to tell here but not now)

anyway - the juju i am experiencing is different. and being outrageously obvious.

oh and a word of advice for those out there who love masks and wooden congolese effigies stabbed all over with nails - don't buy them. and if you do, don't keep them in your houses.

someone said last night that what i needed was a trip to new york.

"this town is not normal, you know..." she said, speaking of arusha and looking at me sideways.... no shit sherlock. but where in the world is "normal"? what exactly IS "normal"?
happiness (or sense of peace) comes from practising detachment. and being ok with it. I THINK.

so am off on a little mini safari this afternoon to spend the night on west meru (the western face of the mountain - overlooking northern maasailand) with my friend N who is a writer and a huntress. the picture above is the view from her place. a little wooden house in a sea of hills. the wind is wild and the mountain is close as are the stars. and you feel high just on the air. and the views. and on being alive.

i love sleeping there. the wind screams and you can see stars through the windows and it feels like you are in a boat in a green rolling sea...without the sea sickness. it's so cosy and far away.
taking the kids and marshmellows for the fire. and a kite.

Kitchen Blackboard: Saturday afternoon: 30 May 2008
Contribtor: Veronica (pictured)
Comments: shopping to be done on monday. we're off to fly kites on the mountain. vero is off for the rest of the week-end. we are off the ngorobob hill until tommorrow...wishing my dear few readers, a wonderful happy week-end. toodely pip then....kesho.

Friday, May 30, 2008

fuschia and chocolate suede: do they go?

so i'm off to a party tonight. m (m of the silver party fame) said she was going to dress for boogying. she is such a good dresser. she always looks a million dollars. and sexy as hell. although of course she doesn't think so.

what has happened to me? i am so unsure about how i dress these days. i used to be so confident about it something about being 40 ish and heading upwards, while the body heads south for winter, like you're on the cusp of um, dear god..... something...? or is it that i now lack imagination and drive - oh so comfy in my levis, white T-shirts and north stars? you know, jeez - isn't this fuschia a bit young - mutton dressing up as lamb - clang clang go the alarm bells? or is it too barbara cartland...oooergh the eye shadow? do boots really go with the fuschia kaftan? (it comes to the knees and is indian, deep YOUNG fuschia silk, and brightly embroidered...does it go with chocolate brown suede boots from cannes? with square heels? HELP - ALL COMMENTS WELCOME PLEASE) see pics above....what do you think?

its just ridiculous. i mean. when i was about 17 i used to walk around public swimming pools like an arab. with literally only my eyes revealed. now i walk around in a bikini and i could't give a shit. how did THAT happen? my boys sort of nervously say," maaaaaaaa your boobs are hanging out. i think that bikini is too small ...maaaaa..." ME: " oh stop being ridiculous rubin. honestly. its fine. its so not too small..." and wobble out of the change room into the splendid sunlight and a crowd who i assume couldn't care less either. with my two boys clearly distancing themselves from me. walking on the other side and lurking in the shade...for a bit. then they too get over it.

when i was 5 months pregnant with gabby, craig was on safari in the selous for weeks, so i decided to head for two entire weeks to zanzibar east coast (Paradise Beach Bunglows - chez Mama Saori - a terribly polite and wonderful human being). and i wore a tiny kate mossish bikini. and i was quite large. everywhere. but the boys were little then and they didn't mind. we played on the white sand under the palms .i could have written a book called " 283 Sand Castle Designs".
i even had the notorious beach boys harassing me. they MUST have been desperate. quite times. " Hey mama how about it?" i was so outraged. ME: " Look. Will you puhleeze leave me alone? can't you see i couldn;t be less interested? now buggar off and leave me alone. i could be your MOTHER!" everyday after that they would ride by on their yamaha, stoned, rasta hair flying, and shout out " Jambo Kali Mama! Don't be so kali mama...mwah mwah..." ah, whatever....those weeks were bliss. i lay on a hammock and ate coconuts all day, ate fish and sea weed soup and piles of fruit. ... me my boys and the butterfly in my tummy.the big fat butterfly in my tummy...!

if craig was here he would tell me - if the pink and brown and the entire ensemble worked or not. he is dangerously honest - "ouf! yes. your bum looks HUUUUGE." or "hmmmm yeah - tight round the hips..." or " are you really going out in that nightie?" and i trust him. but there have been times when i have popped into the loo to check up that my face is still straight on my head, that both my eyes are looking in the same direction still and diligently noticed mascara literally half way down my cheek and my zip undone. and he hasn't said anything. remarkable.

won't be drinking tonight. the halo is getting very big and heavy. tempted by the mango vodka natasha brought back with her. it's in the deep freeze. but no. no. bad idea. bad idea.

gabby on the pink kaftan: yes you look ok mama but PULL it down!

anyway. can't be too worried. its the kaftan and the boots. here go i....

Kitchen Blackboard:Friday Evening 30 May 2008

Contributors: Veronica

Comments: gotta run! party time! toodely pip and love love. always

Thursday, May 29, 2008

horses like sugar.

so i said at tea time. " i wonder if the horses would like sugar?"

today has been a beautiful day.

i cancelled my dental appointment. gabriella had her teddy bear's picnic with her school. she said it was her best day ever. i jogged and stopped and walked and didn't beat myself up about it. i walked and listened to some dylan.

daniel does not have malaria but a cold. phew. relieved. but he is addicted to his play station. and looks so handsome in his glasses. he looks just like his dad.

i have decided that i will play music next week. so i have confirmed two gigs and they are solo....i shall dedicate the week-end to the music.

i had lunch with mo who happens to be one of my favourite people in the world. she stopped me from doing it again. saying the wrong things. in front of other people. i sensed it.

we were having tea and eating chocolate on the verandah after lunch. the horses strolled past and i said "i wonder if the horses would like sugar?"

later in the afternoon we rode. gabby on sirrocco. me on rhino. all the kids came. and rode. jasper told me that horses knees are higher than a humans knees because horses legs are longer. all high and mighty with the late sun dancing in their eyes and what seems like all of africa flung below us.
baker dogs, doria dogs and bell dogs all met up in the schooling ring and had a fight. it was all action. colour. and shining shining life.
it seemed a painting.
so between horses, sugar, kids - my life - did i really dream this all up?
it's been a beautiful beautiful day.

The Kitchen Blackboard: Thursday Evening: 29 May 2008.

Contributors: Janelle & Gabriella

Comments: she was laughing so hard because i was pretending to be outraged by her saying " upyourbumandaroundthecornerstinkystinkycalifornia" - that great big belly laugh.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

down town mbauda.

i rode up the hill this evening, on my white horse called Rhino. i swear he is a Moon Unicorn. yes. i am in love with this horse. we rode to the top of the back hill where the views are blissful and addictive. its like you've been thrown into the middle of a painting..a giant giant landscape 3 D.

if you look eastwards, you see Mt Meru and Kilimanjaro (on a clear day ) - both dormant volcanoes; slowly scan right and flung as far as you can see, are the great Maasai Steppes - the plains, sprinked with odd soothing round hills, some small dead volcanoes, with craters in the middle. and behind me the giant knuckles of monduli mountain. the wind was wild on top of the hill, with grey winter clouds steeling their way towards us, a lanner falcon slicing the air. and nestled just below mt meru lies arusha. the A Town, as its fondly referred to on kiss FM.

arusha is a crazy place. there is no planning. at least there has been no town planning in the past, clearly. everything is just mixed up. the good, the bad and the ugly. god and allah. the devil and the angel. mealies in the rose gardens. mud walls and the marble counters. shops selling dubai wonders (like singing osama bin laden puppets) and plastic gold sparkle next to a market place in a cart. maybe that's how the effing factory got to be where it is....marring our pastoral scene. our sense of how it should be...

down town arusha, called mbauda (pronounced IM BAA OODAH emphasis on the BAA and which slowly morphs into another area called majengo) has sorted itself out. it just grew that way. organically. out of the black volcanic ground - lining The Main Road. feeding from and into the town. a grey vein. craig calls it angela's ashes. you won't see anyone slouching sleepily and picking their noses doing nothing. everyone is busy...from the thieves to the iron mongerers, like tadeus, who can make beautiful wrought iron french-style beds, carpenters making and selling heavily varnished furniture with red and gold velvet cushions, mechanics, market ladies sitting like giant magnolias over their calm plump red tomatoes all piled in little pyramids in symmetric shining rows; hands of green curly sweet bananas, small dukkas (shops) made out of wood and tin - like a string of faded wooden pastel beads, dusted in charcoal and black earth, strung crookedly together, leaning against each other with lopsided fabulous hand painted signs- all selling the same thing - kangas ( african printed cotton cloth), washing powder, matches, sembe (mealie meal sugar, Nido and lots of made in china trinkets. bicylces lean up against the dukkas. goats. ducks. chickens. kids squabble in the mud, poking in the drains for treasures. and there are computer places, colleges, molasses being sold from the big blue trucks, mosques amongst the mangoes. young maasai moran (warriors) strolling hand in hand, their spears casually slung over their shoulders, their red or purple shukkas (robes) reminiscent of Rome, kokatenis (carts pulled or pushed by people) weaving in and out of the traffic and onto the pavements with their heavy loads. it's a busy place. you always have time to absorb the mbauda scene because there is always a traffic jam.

mbauda only gets to sleep after midnight. as twilight descends, the lanterns are lit by the Magnolia Ladies. the fires burn and there is a toasty smell of roasted maize or even better nyama choma (roasted meat). women crouch fanning their fires and turning their maize. people idly chat huddled around the fires. the bars are blue and full. indigo blue. the Saloons (hairdressers and barber shops) are places of great beauty, action and light. blue and pink. the whores lean wearily against walls, waiting. being harrassed. high heeled and hot. i worry for them.

i worry for the women and the children. i want them to be off the streets and into a light warm safe place. away from the darkness - the drunkeness, the unkown.

mbauda is a dreamscape. a flowing celluloid mirage of possibilities, hopes and chaos.

Kitchen Blackboard: Wednesday evening: 28 May 2008:

Contributors: Janelle, Daniel, Rubin and Gabriella.

Comments: ok ok ok. so i tampered with it. god. i PLANNED IT! i broke my solomn (sp???) promise to you all. man. now you're never going to trust me again. its just that there was nothing on the board this evening - dull dull dull. tam ( commented that i should write "Mum Is A Word Queen" . so i did. the kids doodled waiting for their macaroni cheese...
SEE THE W X Y Bracket Lady on the very LHS....i told you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

where do i begin...

there is so much i don't say. because i don't know how to. to you, my dear and few readers.

its about africa and africans. and being one. its about this crazy tapestry we weave. our weird, wonderful warped tapestry in the richest hues and moods you could ever imagine. i feel that i need to contextualise my writing and my life within these african brackets. i am not seperate from this. it informs how i live and what i say. it grabs me by both arms and shakes me and shouts at my face and won't leave me alone. it scrapes at my door and stares into my car window. i can never be anonymous. i am always seen. my thoughts are heard before i have spoken them.

it's about "casual atrocities" (william boyd) and the clinking of ice and champagne. its about having everything and having nothing. its so sensitive and complicated and riotous. its so devastating its impossible. its so wild and unpredictable. its so rich and so hopeful. its tough. its cruel. its heartbreakingly soul flyingly beautiful. its insane. its hard. its uncaring. there is always something new, something crazy, something to make you laugh. and there is almost always some sun to be found and someone dying. an horizon. a drought. a flood. a war. a smile. displacement. a helping hand. a juju killing. and a lesson.

the priest. the catholic priest from the rwandan genocide. the UN holds court for all the crimes against humanity in rwanda here in arusha. i attended his trial. he was responsible for ordering the killing of 1500 people in his church because they were tsutsi. they came to him for help. he locked them in the church. when they asked where they could urinate he turned to them and said," you can shit on the alter. you are tsutsi. you no longer have a god." he locked them up and refused them food. the gendarmes (guards) were ordered to kill anyone who tried to pick some bananas. he then ordered a bulldozer to bull doze down the church. with 1500 women, men and children. of course the few suvivors were all children who had been protected by their parents. they crawled out from the rubble and were rounded up and slaughtered by the gendarmes.

a friend of mine visited the memorial sites in rwanda for all those who had died..nearly a million. her tour guide was a young man, then about 16years old, a genocide survivor. he had hidden under his dead mother. he was 5 at the time. my friend asked him how he could stay in the same place where his entire family had been killed by the people in his village, who he saw every day.

he said," when i see them coming down the road, i just walk on the other side."

i saw him sitting there, the priest, in the court room. defending himself. a man. in a church robe. a man of god. the first catholic priest in the history of our time, to be charged with genocide.

i know rwanda isn't tanzania. or zambia.

africa is outrageous and anything is possible. anything.

i can't write anything more about it tonight. i want to. but there is much to say and i don't know where to begin.

Kitchen Blackboard Tuesday Evening: 27 May 2008
Contributors: Veronica, Janelle
Comments: Gas was purchased. children collected. i ran. i collected not only baby fever trees but also baby sausage trees, baby albidas and baby magnolia trees. 34 in total. car papers were in fact delivered to mark. and bah to the rest. in fact the service was so bad at shahins so i stomped out to make a point. silly me. have to go back there tommorrow now. because they do make really good mozzy nets. and i just hope that parking angel procures the same parking space one remembered to edit the board...interesting.....?

Monday, May 26, 2008

when is it due?

well. it happened this afternoon in the supermarket. i bumped into a certain german acquaintance (woman) in the cat food and matches aisle, and she sort of raised her eye-brows and said," Hmmm, belly?" eyeing me below the waist. she said it almost straight away. funny that. now that i think of it. there weren't really any pleasanteries or normal greetings before it. it was just like that. "hmmm, belly?" no " hey hi! loong time! how are you how are the kids you look great fancy meeting you here god its been cold eh? how are safaris and so on and so on." it plopped straight out, dead pan, straight "hmmmm, belly?"

so i thought , "golly. this sweater really is too small and oh shit, my disgusting water bed stomache has been hanging over these jeans because they are wayeee too tight and oh my god, how embarrassing...". so i sort of smiled and pulled my sweaty sweater down, vaguely mumbling "oooergh yes hmmmmm..."

and then she said those words: " no. no. your belly. when is it due?"

OH capital full stop MY capital full stop GOD. many capital exclamation marks. bitch!

feeling exceedingly hot under the collar and clearly bursting out of my skin and clothes, i said as brightly as i could, "um. nope A actually i am just plain old fat...ahem..gulp gulp..." (and m had only just said to me in the morning over coffees and paninis that the sweater was very slimming??? well i guess my belly was hidden by the table.but still.) so i sort of mumbled something about giving up smoking and eating too much and just imagine how large i would have been if i wasn't running 5 bloody kms three times a week finishing it all off with very shrill hah hah hahs.

i think she felt embarrassed. but you can never really tell with her. and she's always been reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally slim. and blond. she sort of squirmed a teeny little bit and then said "oh but when you stand straight it doesn't look pregnant at all!" nice try. nice try. by this time we had edged along the aisle to the citronella candle section and i was barely breathing, holding my tummy in. and my arse. literally pulling myself towards myself whilst pushing the trolley. no easy feat.

we checked out together, exchanging pleasanteries, as one does along the terrible way. me feeling really quite large and sweaty by this point, and my sweater feeling really small and unbearably hot and inappropriate and me desperate for a packet of M & M's but didn't...should've but didn't - and said as i grabbed my shopping, "well. cheers A and will let you know if it's a boy or a girl."

jeez. well. i believe in instant karma. i had done precisely the same thing, not too long ago, in the butchery, to a lady i sort of know from school. a fellow parent whose name always escapes me but we wave in each other's vague direction in the car park almost every day. and i should have known better. i thought i knew a pregnant belly when i saw one. christ. i've had three of them and an obviously acute, finely tuned mother earth intuition. but still to be sure i went through the whole conversation in my head "- no don't say anything janelle! she might not be. of course she is! that just so is a pregnant belly. oooh janelle...oooh i wouldn't.. "and i went and opened by big silly mouth anyway " oh. so um. WHEN IS IT DUE?" and the laughing and the no, i am just fat. and me henceforth swallowing an entire unchewed piece of biltong with a purple face. choking to death would have been a perfect escape.

still. you've got to love the world and the way it works.

Kitchen Blackboard Monday Evening: 26 May 2008:

Contributors: Veronica, Janelle and Gabby.

Comments: GAS only item remaining on list.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

the kitchen blackboard concept: a step towards domestic goddessism

what a sunday its been. jogging, riding, eating, laughing. eating. eating. eating. and eating. i can hear my friends all saying, "well no wonder she can't lose her belly and her arse...she should try laying off the food a little..." man. those oat honey biscuits at sal's house are lethal. i ate six. and an enormous lunch and still at it...scary. just because i went running this morning (more like staggering this morning) and have sanctamoniously given up drinking, i am under the incredibly incorrect impression that it gives me licence to eat solidly and randomly until i roll into bed. call me betty the vacuum cleaner.

my poor horse. i should really be more considerate. rubin rode with me this morning on sirrocco and hokaido came along too, riderless, bucking and farting alongside the two of us which was really annoying. although he looked magnificent. he made rubin a little nervous on sirrocco coming down the steep hill...but rubin was brave and strong and rode splendidly.

lunch at sal and damian's...always good. lots of laughing especially about the planned Shag Shack. but that is another story entirely...

i was like the pied piper this afternoon (and betty the vacuum cleaner). all the hill children ended up chez moi. spent a faded pink and entirely delightful afternoon trailing FTB (finly titan bell - sal and d's youngest) and OTB (oscar tom baker, claire and marc's youngest) - star wars or what? - FTB calling OTB roger roger over and out - around the stables because they are the littelest and not to be trusted. last time fin ended up in the molasses bucket. and before that he walked into the lounge naked and covered from head to toe (balls and everything!) in thick greasy red make up stuff...still not sure what it was....something like granny's wax rouge from the 1920's...and then he wanted to jump all over the white couch...(ftb in the photo on the left after a busy busy day, power napping...a while back) and OTB (pictured with gabby in the RHS pic ) is highly likely to swing off the side of the stable onto a horse...or get his little fingers nibbled off by one of them or plop off the edge of the water tank like a ripe fruit. craig calls him "mr mimi anguka (sp?) hapa" which is swahili for i fall here... T was there too de ticking her horse. and i played my guitar for the horses. they seemed to really like it!? sang Billy by Dylan for them and thought they would like Wild Horses by the Stones. they seemed to. otb and ftb looked at me as though i'd finally gone totally potty. but they hung about anyway to see what would happen, probably.

there is a new term floating about with a very hidden meaning: it means letting people know that you are going to have sex...apparently its "Making Cookies" or "Baking a cake." i might as well just say "oh we will be having sex" because the likelyhood of me baking a cake or making cookies is as remote as me having sex. does that even make sense? and anyway, who wants to know?

it's been a shiny day. except that craig left on safari for ten days. he will be riding horses for three days in maasailand..lucky him. and then off to the Crater and Serengeti for five days...camping amongst the migration. and won't be making any cookies i assume....

you will notice that from today onwards, at the end of every bloggedly blah, there will be a small photograph, centrally located, of my kitchen blackboard. i solomnly promise not to tamper with it and shall portray it in all its honesty and disarray.

craig thinks its a really bad idea and that no-one will look at it. but it's the kind of thing that i would read or squint at. anyway - comments appreciated. let me know if you read it at least. it can say a lot sometimes. and it changes every so often. and hopefully this will force me to pay attention to The List more regularly so i don't embarrass myself with my domestic ineptitude on the blog...i am a domestic goddess. i am a domestic goddess. i am a domestic goddess. i am a....

contributors to the kitchen blackboard: Veronica (Main Scribe), Daniel, Rubin, Gabby, Janelle and Craig. (when he is not on safari) and sometimes my passing they will add " good looking funny sexy single man x 1 for n. URGENT! Monday." and silly things like that. or the boys will teach other kids how to draw naked ladies using W X Y and brackets.

up above is saturday nights'...and below is tonights'. promise to zoom in more for future postings.

toodily pip then.

don't leave me alone with this baby, baby.

(note: all readers for this blog MUST know the tune of My Favourite Things from The Sound Of Music. Please. and if not, please borrow the record from your grandmother (or download it, Smarty Smug Pants. der)

"...raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
these are a few of my favourite things..."
when the dog bites
when the bee stings
when i'm feeling sad
i simply remember my favourite things
and then i don't feel so bad. (spinning off into the green eidelweiss covered mountains, happy and rosy cheeked, even, in a striped pinafore and so on)...
and now my version sung in same tune as above (a rendition of, so to speak):

rainy day lie ins and coffee in bed
lalas and back tickles, massage my head,
champagne and oysters with chocolate and bling,
these are a few of my favourite things.

when the kids scream
when the dog gets bitten by a bloody bastard puff adder three times and dies
when i'm feeling sad
i simply remember my favourite things like cigarettes and whisky and lashings of nina popadopalis's chocolate cake,
and then i don't feel sooooo bad. (spinning off into another pre menstrual, hormonally induced, momentary depression and lack of reason.)

so. i had a gig last night (and no, i didn't perform the above) - at the singer songwriter's evening at umoja music school in town...all lanterns, intimate crowd, no big lights or mics and speakers (thank god! mics complicate matters), a list of surprising artistes, all of us to solo and everyone is there to listen to you. they really are. it's terrifying. terrifying.

someone said last night, as i slouched in a dark corner with a dark hat, my hands all a flutter, "oh you can't be nervous!? you've done this loads of times before!" it's like when you have your second or third baby and the nurses say "Oh you've done this before. You know all about it. ." and walk briskly out never to be seen again. you hold this pathetic little scrap of humaness in your arms, knowing it depends entirely on you for its survival and you want to shout out, "NO! DON'T LEAVE ME ALONE WITH THIS BABY! HEY!? HELLOOO? is there anyone out there.....? " and you become exasperated with unsurmountable amounts of love, confusion and desperation. and terror. sheer. at least, i did.

well. that's what it's like when you stand up there even when you've done it a thousand times before. it's just like the first time. it's simply terrifying. its the edge of everything. you leap into your breath, toes pointed, and along your arms into your fingers and spill out onto the strings and fretboard like splatter paint and your spirit zooms out on your voice, surfing the wave, wobbly or not. your fingers feel seperate from your body and is this me singing? it's probably not too dissimilar to jumping out of an aeropane for the first time. its possibly about letting go and hoping like hell the parachute opens.

a fellow muso, lets call him mr jazz, funky jazz man (who says he's played with sting or someone like that and that he had "done time", twice, but wouldn't say what for, and who wooed the crowd, more like the girls, at The Nairobi Gig and who is so multi and divinely talented) once told me you have to find someone in the crowd to play to, someone who you look at and play for and to. lets call this person A Focus Person. An Ef Pee. oh i wish someone would pick me out for i would be The Best Audience Ever. he said at one gig, he found his ' focus person' in a very large and overwhelming crowd and was playing his heart out for him, every note equivalent of every bead of sweat, and half way through the first set, The Focus Person, the Ef Pee, yawned and walked out. oh dear. wrong choice. where do you go from there? pack up the axe and start a fast food joint? or work as a waiter at kentucky fried drive in take away chicken, evenings only? no. you do it again and again because you love it. and you make damned sure you choose The Right Focus Person. or no-one at all. like me. you sing with your eyes closed (heavily shadowed in silver), or you stare at the floor or the fretboard of your guitar until your neck cricks. but whatever you do, for godsake DON'T MAKE EYE CONTACT. unless you're really blottoed.

it's all about connecting with your audience, apparently. miriam makeba connects. she controls her crowd. she is one mega woman. fierce and commanding and all powerful maia earth goddess. don't mess with miriam. pay attention to every flying note and word. your loss if you don't. ricky lee jones exudes. beams. its like the music beams out of her. swirling.

i am so happy i am not amy whinehouse. and i don't mind that i am a one album wonder. ish.

so last night i was focused and terrified (and sober) and it worked. it was good. i leapt. i hung. suspended.

there were some wonderful pure performances last night. people bearing their soul and being so brave. and a terrific audience. so kind. so kind. and maybe honest. i love playing for children. they really are really really honest. like my little music student luca, all of seven, with his mealie toothed smile and bright questioning blazing honesty and enthusiasm. i didn't know which of my songs to play for the evening so i thought i would ask him which songs he liked best. i explained the situation and sat him down and forced him to listen. when i finished i said, " so? which one did you like best?"

he looked at me with those very large dancing brown eyes, and perfectly freckled nose, which he wrinkled up and said, " hmmmm...none of them." okayeeeeeeeeeeeee. now what?
" play your scale of C major, luca. guess what? the fun police just walked in."
i played them anyway. and one day when luca picks a song, i just know its going to be a hit and i will make millions. i always think that when the eagles finally completed Hotel California they must have known that it was going to be a hit.

and of course my kids think i am a famous rock star. my bestest. i will always always play my heart out for them. always. even when they are embarrassed by me. and i am shamelessly wearing purple and staring into their eyes, connecting of course.

danu pops has returned safely and soundly from the coast.(i haven't dared ask if he was responsible about mosquito dawa (medicine) the malaria is deadly at the coast...). as my friend gabby in kenya says, when you wave goodbye to the little darlings on the bus, you want to send a security van to follow, to pilot fish them . and hell, an ambulance too just in case. couldn't we just have a helicopter on stand by too? i missed his home coming because of my music when i got home last night late from the gig, i softly snuck into his bedroom and stole a look at him sleeping in his bed. how warm and melting and real it was to see my first baby home and tucked up back in our nest. all tall and gangly but still my first baby. and i quietly smelt him and kissed his cheek, so softly so as not to wake him... and then, you know, nothing else matters.
the end of yesterday couldn't possibly have been more perfect.
"... look at the stars, look how they shine for you
in everything you do
and they were all yellow.
i came along i wrote a song for you
in all the things you do
and it was called yellow
so then i took my turn
oh what a thing to have done
and it was all yellow
your skin
oh yeah your skin and bones
turn into something beautiful
and you know, you know
i love you so
you know i love you soooo....
look who they shine for you..." cold play.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

teething problems.

i am so full of myself. as in big stuff. as in wagging my tail my broer. and more superior to everybody else at home. i went to the dentist, and this time, not because i had to. not because i had cavities the size of ngorongoro crater, ingrown wisdoms or throbbing abcesses or anything dramatic like that (which is usually the case and how i end up at the dentist.) but because of an angel pact (as previously blogged) and because i have decided to overcome my insane assume -foetal- position fear of dentists and be responsible about my teeth. what's left of them. and because once i read in an Oprah Mag...that you shouldn't say "oh I've GOT TO go and pick up the kids/go to the doctors/go to the dentist/visit my uncle/water the garden/wash the dishes/ go to the dentist/ go to the dentist." instead you are supposed to say " oh i WANT TO .... pick up the kids/ go to the doctors/go to the dentist/go to the dentist/go to the bloody dentist waaaaaah aaaaargh i want to i want to i want

"Any problems then?" asked the very kind and gentle dr dirani - whose office is below dr sheriff's of almond eye fame.

"Oh no! Just in for a check and a clean. (but really meaning - you know, those six months are up and aren't i the responsible one?" i brightly reply. airily, breezily, confidently for once. "and remember, i am really really scared," i laugh. bloody hell. fucking terrified, more like it. pulse rate already racing, palms sweating.

he is not surprised. my mouth is literally full of mercury fillings. all that lead. it will kill me in the end no doubt. no names mentioned but whew, i have seen some tooth butchers in my time. 1970's zambia wasn't exactly brimming with the latest dental technology, never mind dentists...most of the dentists were sad czechs who had escaped the iron curtain life and found a new zambian socialist sun. they didn't know about anaesthetics and i am convinced they procured their drills from the local trucking yard. in fact, maybe they were simple mechanics from the local trucking yard in retrospect! if you didn't consult a czech, then it was a chinese dentist who practised root canal for fun. it was like you would sort of casually mention, oh my tooth is a little sensitive and before you knew it, you would be staring at your nerve... and again with no anaesthetics. after writhing and squirming with head splitting, nerve shattering pain, and sort of howling through metal implements, she would then say,

"HAH SO! *&(*@#^&!! mING Noi ping po pong *@&&#^*%." as you lay there in a sweaty mess, looking at a wriggling, pink ,live nerve literally inches from your eyes, being held aloft by metal pincers as she sort of grinned savagely back at you. oh no. it was horrific.

or getting my wisdoms pulled in the government hospital in malawi by a scottish VSO dentist who looked like he was 12 years old. all ruddy cheeks and auburn hair. i had met him at the local amateur drama society, behind the bushes smoking pot. i complained of tooth pain and he said, "man. i am a dentist, well almost. pop by and i can check them out for you. hey, pass the doob maaaaan.."

can you believe it? i went. to get into his surgery i had to pass through all the malawian trainee dentists all working on patients in the "waiting room". just horrible. groans and moans. my scots dentist (almost dentist apparently) x-rayed and said "oh easy. they aren't impacted so it will be easy. come on then."

"WHAT? NOW? no ways pal!" as i gripped the door knob white knuckled, fierce and cornered. he quickly backed off and we made the appointment for the following week. at least i had time to mentally prepare myself. i drank four brandies prior to the appointment. i had at least six injections before the extraction. i must admit, i didn't feel the teeth being pulled but i heard it.

and then dear dr r, the tanzanian dentist. whose hands are as big as plates. it wasn't so much the drilling which hurt, but the way he held the little mirror against my gums, scraping and bruising them...while he filled my teeth with those large hands. his fingers are the size of usa river zuchinnis.

and none of the above had calming fish tanks, or music, or laughing gas. nothing. just brown industrial views out horrid little windows.

so dr dirani is like a walk in spring. fresh. kind. hopeful. he is quiet. he doesn't have a fish tank either. or calming music. but he has a lovely painting of a mosque in the desert somewhere. AND he doesn't do that thing which every single other dentist has done, as soon as you open your mouth:

" oh! gosh! wow - you've had some work done, eh?..OH! MY! GOD! that hole is HUUUUUUUUUUGE! oh well, we can see you are a smoker eh? tut tut tut! ok lets fill it might hurt,....hmmmm this is reeeeeeeeeeeeallllllllllllllllllllllllllllly close to the nerve......" and just when your mouth is full of every single goddamn metal implement possible and you can't move a thing and you're about to drown in your own spit, because the nurse who is supposed to be in charge of the spit vacuum has gone off to never never dreamland, the dentist says ," so how are the kids? craig? your music going well? when is your next gig?"

how the hell you are supposed to answer beats me...or they say " is this hurting?" and all you can do is sort of widen your eyes or punch him to get your answer out.

dr dirani doesn't do any of this. like i said. he is like a walk in spring. i have to go back next week to check if there is a cavity in one of my back teeth. please please please please angels let there not be one...if there isn't one i will um give up um (ciggies? done. booze? done) uuuum......eating?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

missing zambia...

sometimes i miss zambia. i just do. we go back so far together. in fact 42 years. i was born there, my mother died there. the dusty years of my childhood. indelibly printed somewhere deep in my mind...mud in my toes and finding mushrooms in the rains...the red dust roads around lusaka and the brachystigia. the way the sky is hazy. the searing bush fires. the dry air and the blue hills - so particular -...the yellow flowers in may. the thespinia which grows inches in a day along the side of the road in mfuwe. may time when the carmine bee eaters arrive back. it's the smell. it's that little finger of cold in a crispy air and the new moon, the smell of grass and smoke in the twilight. my heart. my heart. oh i don't know. i just miss zambia sometimes. mopane wood fires. mopane and elephant moving quietly under the muchenja trees like silver ships in the night, the low rumble... and the bite of a tsetse on my ankle on the O5.

maybe its just this time of year. may. when our african seasons shift. summer ends and winter begins...we breathe between the rains and the dry season. green shifts to gold.

i miss zambia. it will pass as it always does. but it never goes away.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

dark, very dark places and little dark secrets....

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And sorry I couldn't travel both

and be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other one, as just as fair

And having perhaps the better claim

because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day.

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

what on earth did we do that for, huh? take the less travelled road in this bloody quagmire? (see above pic)

for the adventure? the romance? to learn something? because it's more interesting? because we were young once and that's what you did? well. we ended up getting so bloody stuck it's not true. (although heroic bush husband craig never gets stuck - he gets temporarily delayed...) . this is the road which leads to our hill, ngorobob. this is what the effing factory has done to the road, by using tractors and trailers on it after like 2 inches of rain. this mud is called black cotton soil. you get stuck in this kind of mud. especially when there are craters in the tracks in which you could hide ten volksie beetles...and hell, maybe even a cattle truck or two. i shouldn't complain. really i shouldn't because we have a tarmac road all the way to this point, built by the Effing Factory. sal thinks we would be better off without the factory and the tar road. and i agree with her. even if it meant getting stuck more often. anyway. we have the tarmac road, the factory and this chocolate mousse mess to consider on a daily basis. and such is life. because it leads home. home high on the hill.

fortunately for me it did not rain last night. (remember i wrote a piece called "spring has finally sprung"? well. i lied. it hasn't. its been frigging freezing and grey and wet since then but the yellow flowers and flame lillies burn bravely on in the cold grey of what seems to be a sly winter sneaking in the back door earlier than usual. and we have officially started lighting fires at night!) anyway. yes. it did not rain last night so the road below was dry ish. no 4 wheel drive neccessary en route to the salon today, or rather The Saloon as salons are called in these parts. this is a rare and divine treat.

call me jen now. as in jennifer arniston. get it? my hair is all blond and straight and flappy and even if i say so myself, totally vogue and glam. LOVE it. this lasts, along with my euphoria, precisely 24 hours, before i go back to being janelle and frizzy haired. in fact, i went to the saloon because i needed that wax, which i mentioned last week already! so you can imagine?? well. don't. it's nasty. i felt and looked not too dissimilar to babette the baboon spider previously blogged about. um - very hairy. i reckon i lost about 2 kgs in body hair.

i love the saloon. i love everyone who works there and the atmosphere and all the people you meet as you sit there looking like an astronaut who has just stuck his silver helmet through the cheese grater, with all those foils in your hair....or some strange sea person from the city of atlantis, trying to deal with webbed feet (like in training your toes to stay seperate so you too can be an earthling) , with those yellow rubber things between your toes and that big black batman cloak. no wonder i made a scene in the little shop when i went to buy myself a chocolate for lunch. yellow rubbers, foils, my batman cloak. i scare people. (god. i do. and mostly without the costume.)

i had to confess to T (our highly regarded hair executive and owner of saloon, who has the dubious task of making sure we all look presentable and jouge) that indeed we had a lice problem at home and maybe she should just check before she infested the entire saloon . thank god no-one else was there at the time. and thank god i was clean. massively relieved! tra la.

but it's the magazines! oh joy. to have the time to idly flip through pages and pages of "Style" and what's "in" and glossy "Blah" whilst your feet are massaged and painted is beyond bliss. i read a piece about men's G Spots. (why are they called G as opposed to "O!" Spots?) anyway. apart from the obvious, the other main "G" spot is in a dark, very dark place. and i throw flowers in the path of any girl brave enough to dig deep enough to hit it. (oh and it said make sure your nails are trimmed before you, you know,you um, insert ......oooooooooooeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrgh) . S pointed out that there was an article on what to do to your girl, if you are a guy, of course, well i assume.

sigh sigh. haven't we all had enough? can't we just stop? i say, rolling my eyes to the back of my foiled head.

at the saloon you get to meet all your mates...hastily rushing in to de hair, re hair, paint their nails and have a coffee and a chin wag. it's all delectably girly and warm hearted. and men are more than welcome. saw M this morning looking all sporty in her trainers and track suit. she has recently walked out of her job, and rightly so. she had to endure some weird psycho who was constantly stalking her to check up she wasn't stealing or something crazy like she decided to walk the plank rather than stay on psycho's sinking (and stinking) ship. i adored her facebook update which said ," Mental Men Should Be Kept In Dark, Very Dark Places." we discussed the various options; her container in her garden which gets so hot it can burn your hair right off seemed to be the most reasonable one. and it's dark. very dark. i mentioned this to one of T's customers in the saloon, the only man in fact. he shyly replied that he wasn't sure whether he should be scared or not.

he should be scared. and act sane at all times, especially when M is around.

gabby managed to ride her little blue peugeot bicycle in a straight line, well, almost, towards the rain gauge. we had to stop suddenly because she had this very very dark secret she had to tell and i promised not to tell anyone.( i shall be struck down, i know it.) so i leant down (not too close because i don't want to catch her lice although i think i have combed them all away...but still not chancing it now that I have a clean bill of hair..) and she whispered:

GABBY: "Do you know that the easter bunny really isn't a bunny?" round eyed and deeply sincere.

ME: "God! No! Really? Then who brings the eggs?"

GABBY: staring around to make sure no-one is in the near vicinity to partake in this deep secret, " It's Paul Oliver. He is the bunny. He makes all the eggs."

Paul is a dear friend of ours. Another bush hero. ( and i had NO idea that he doubled up as The Universal Easter Bunny. But now i do and everything falls into place and it makes so much sense.

received an sms all the way from pangani from daniel's teacher. i have to share it with you. it makes my heart burst from its straps in my chest, burst into a riot of flowers of love:

Congratulations.your son is a joy 2 b with. u shd be very proud.

more than anyone can possibly imagine. my sweet golden gentle danu pops. you see. that camping training down in lake eyasi is paying off.....

Monday, May 19, 2008

Angels and Policemen

i believe in angels (and good anti biotics). Because i am well again. while i was sick i made a secret deal with my winged friends that if they made me better (ie if they stopped the mad dashes to the loo from the spare room and that if the dull ache on my RHS could not be liver cancer, please!??) i would quit drinking for six months. a not dissimilar deal to the one made re: the dentist. i promised them that i would go every six months if i could avoid a root canal treatment at dr dirani's (whose office is below dr sheriff of almond eye fame). root canal was avoided and am walking on thin ice because six months have lapsed (just.) wonder what will happen???? godsakes! as my sister's dear mother in law says " well dear. you will wonder and wonder until the crows build nests up your bottom and then you'll wonder how they got the sticks up there." well. quite. best make that appointment right this very minute. (done. just smsed. phew. spiralling upwards again.)

so c and i are driving to town after our run this morning. ( i snarled at him near the end of the run saying "oh just go and beat me then!" nice. pleasant of me. the faster i go he goes. until i always end up running out of breath...or slowing down. it really pisses me off. i really want to beat him but can't, damnit.)

C was worried that the police would catch us in town because our licences have expired and we are waiting for the new ones and we are receiptless and just PERFECT to stop and fine. in short, illegal.

i said, "give me a moment to ask my winged friends to make a shining clear path past all policemen (or better still just to make them disappear in a thin pouf of sweet heavenly smoke). and please oh lovely parking angels make parking spaces for us at the right time at all the right places. i am already soooo thankful." am unsure if c is even slightly convinced. anyway. i said, "there you go. bingo. all will be well and spacious."

guess what? it worked! i kid you not. we saw a policeman floating high above Cultural Heritage surrounded in light and wings and little rainbows while his white hat floated slowly back to earth. AND there were parking places outside every single designated shop with our names on reserved signs...ok. there were parking spaces. anyone who knows arusha down town will know that parking is a rarity outside places like Ikhwans Dry Stores (opposite the soccer stadium) and even more so outside Meat King, our butchery. thanks Parking Angels! and anti policemen Angels!

once near mohammed's petrol station (called Planet Oil - or is it Space Oil?) i forgot to ask the anti policemen angels for their blinding light assistance and before i knew it, i was being waved frantically aside. i am terrified of policemen, since i was a little girl growing up in 1970's zambia - you know, road blocks, afros, AK 47's, platformed boots and camo, stoned soldiers and tatty policemen on the make, and the headiness of being newly independent. and me, little, knowing our landrover was unlicenced and the hooter didn;t work neither did the lights because dad was always avoiding road blocks and just always doing something naughty and risky.... and mohammed ali was gathering force in the congo. so whenever i see policemen my reaction is : oh shit shit shit and the heart flutters, the palms sweat and i just feel guilty while i grapple desperately for my seat belt and gabby lies low and in a small voice says "oh no mummy, are there cops?" so i have successfully passed on my policemen paranoia.

this time, near mohammed's petrol station, i obey every rule. i remove my big black jackie o's. policemen don't like sunglasses. derek told me. i smiled. always smile a nice bright breezy smile. and only speak when you are spoken to. (you could always act completely mental of course and start drooling and grunting and looking squiff eyed and frothy mouthed. apparently this works too. its just too awkward. i don't have the balls to do it. or even to pretend that i can't speak english or swahili in some heavily accented made up language. i just can't do it.)

Police Man:"your windscream is cracked." (he said 'scream') " it is against the law. you are breaking the law."

smile slowly dies. nothing forthcoming from him. no smile. just dead pan and being really serious.

Me: 'um. are you sure? i don't believe you. where does it say that?"

PM:"get out the car."

Me:"no ways! bring the law book here."

PM: " get out the car!"

ME: " No ways!i'm not." butterflies swarming in my tummy.

three policemen later (and one armed paramilitary who clearly was dead bored on a monday and had nothing better to do than involve himself with a mad mzungu (whitey) on the road) the book is thrown in my face through the window and ten fat fingers are pointing at some obscure, grubby law which seems not to pertain to anything remotely close to cracked windscreams. (i knew it wasn't good to have a cracked windscreen but i only had me in the car and wasn't speeding, or squeezing in twenty four people into the back seat or doing ANYTHING untoward like killing innocent cyclists and school children through reckless driving, or riding shotgun , which are common occurances in these parts. godsakes.)

ME:" stop pointing. i am an english teacher. i can read by myself ,you know. and anyway it doesn;t mention anything about windscreens here...look yourselves."

PM: " you have a broken windscream -"

ME: : " Screen. Not scream. Screen. with an en at the end."
I think it was at this point that i lost all reason and safety devices.

ME:" You are just picking on me because i am a white woman."

Wrong thing to say. Just soooooooooooo wrong. couldn't have been wronger if i had tried. Hoo boy. went down like a ton of bricks. just when i thought it was going to cost me dearly and that i would now be literally dragged from my car and fined from here to pangani and back again, a daladala (taxi minicab) went speeding past narrowly missing three school kids walking down the road.

ME: "you see! and you want to catch me just for a crack in my window??? those are the people you should be catching! and i am sorry i am being kali. i am really quite a nice friendly person usually. i really am. and blah blah blah blllllllaaaaaaaaaaaah" and off they rushed after the speeding daladala and i was free to move on. i felt like i could have flown. really.

for about two weeks after this i used the back dirt roads behind the airport to avoid the police road block. why didn't i just ask my angels? they literally blitz policemen.

danu pops has left on the school trip to pangani (the coast) for an entire week. we already miss him. when the kids go away i hate to see their little empty beds and their neat unlived in makes my heart way too sore. my babies. i like to have them all in the nest. they were so excited to be off. away. sigh sigh. he had the balls to ask me for my camera! imagine!? laughable.

met a friend today who was lamenting about her husband who simply does not spend enough time with her and her little daughter. he is a cyclist. and chose to cycle for 5 hours instead of going out to a social lunch. i had to smile when she said" I mean, its not like he is training for the fucking Tour De France or anything..." she probably did not use the F word. but she might as well have. i full heartedly agreed with her.

such is life. and in the meantime i am trying to teach gabby to ride her little blue peugeot bike. bought the training wheels today. i don't think i can recall encountering anyone with such a crap sense of direction. . .

ME: Pedal! Pedal! Pedal for godsakes! Look up! Look up! OH! Watch out for the aloes! Oh darling! Oh for godsakes stop crying. its pathetic. go on. lets do it again...LOOK UP! OH WATCH OUT FOR THE STAIRS! darling you have to look up and the bicycle will follow where your eyes are looking. ok look at the rain gauge (which is perched at the edge of a steep precipice. remember. we live on a high steep hill) ok? now, PEDAL PEDAL PEDAL!!!! look at the rain gauge! look at the rain gauge! oh GOD! WATCH OUT! THE THORN TREE!"

Gabby: "I want to stop now. i don't want to look at the rain gauge mummy! stop saying that. I want to go where the bicycle wants to go."

Right. i give up then. useless mummy. must get sally to teach her. little finley and jasper are racing about on theirs.. i think jasper learnt to ride his before he could walk or run or something really early like that. hmmm or maybe there are Learning To Ride Bicycle Angels out there.

bet there are. bet there are.

and ps: thanks tam for the policemen inspiration!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Geneva of Africa (not), the Effing Factory and Dorothy Parker (again)

Comment by Dorothy Parker

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania

i thought i had nothing to say this evening about today. imagine? so i posted a favourite poem and found a matching jaded, faded see, i have always had this sort of inkling that i was a russian aristo in a past life. anyway. no explanations needed. such a clever little poem.

(what is that thing on my head?)

headed down to school to watch the cross country this morning . school is literally down the hill and around the corner (or round the corner and up your bum as my 9yr old son would say)...ten minutes away. in fact the kids could cycle there (in keeping with the poem after a fashion - highlighted in retrospect ) if it wasn't for the enormous mosquito net factory brooding and breeding below us and their killer trucks which speed up and down the road delivering mosquito nets to the congo (?) i presume... Actually, it's not called The Factory. it's referred to The F&*(^%$ Factory by all Hill Dwellers. that's how much we like it. the only way i can stay here and look down upon this utter monstrosity scarring the landscape and our view is that it makes things which saves lives and employs about 3 000 people. and don't get me started on working conditions and such shall never be set free from this crazed ramble. oh no.

if the truth be known, i bloody hate it. but have to live with it and so i genuinely try and apply every inch of buddhism i know of to learn about acceptance and blah. shit. i still hate it. the government loves it and brought george bush to visit it. its a show piece for them. they bring every dignitary who happens to pass through Arusha (also known as the little geneva of africa. how in allah's name they get to THAT is quite beyond me apart from obviously the close proximity to a mountain never mind a range of mountains. geneva of africa when you look at the rubbish floating down the mountain streams....? and the only fountains i have seen is the one on impala roundabout, where all the saturday weddings take place and the two vomitting dinosaurs (the water dribbles out their mouths) outside Shell Oil petrol station in mbauda. no lakes at all. lake manyara being the closest but it can't possibly count. but i digress).

when mr bush dropped by i wanted to ride my white horse, Rhino, down to the junction with the factory road and carry a flag and dress up like a cowboy - rhinestones and all. i really would have, you know, if i had known what time he was passing by. its not that i like mr bush or anything, you understand, only that it would have made a great scene. white horse. rhinestone cowboy. maasai warriors and beleagured lumpen proletariat. i didn't feel like waiting in the sun for hours while every maasai child in the near vicinity crowded around and in chorus chants, in a sing song voice "farasi farasi farasi farais farasi farasi farasi farasi farasi farasi farasi farasi farasi" which means horse horse horse.

no shit sherlock.

of course our boys were utterly magnificent in the cross country. (isn't that where i started? you see? that effing factory!!!!) and duly won medals with grace. i was standing next to Whizzy (nick name) who is the fastest runner in the school. she is really tall and coltish and naturally fast. i ventured to tell her that i could run 10kms (can't resist showing off...i only did it once) to which she jauntily replied "oh easy. i can run double that." outrageous! "well i am an old lady and you are a bright young thing and...." before i knew it the race had begun and she was off and she won. what am i like?
also found myself yelling at the school kids (read other peoples kids who i don't even know) to "Go back to the other side! How many times do you have to be told that you are not allowed here...EXCUZE ME?" as a gesture to help the teachers. i saw ms. GH staring rather hardly in my direction. well. honestly. someone had to keep order at the starting lines. maybe i should have reined it in a little. i remember one of D's little friends saying "man D, your mum is soooo kali!". and he hadn't seen the most of it.

another little friend said "oh but my mum NEVER says no." to which i tartly and promptly retorted, "really? well this mum does. read my lips. N - O." it took him about a year to come for a sleep over. he was terrified of me. rightly so. and damned right too.
toodely pip then.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

oh and ps

oh and ps...what are links and how do you do them?

kalahari ferraris!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

so i have risen from the sunken sick bed and can now safely move further than the recommended 5 m from the loo.(should really write SELF recommended) thank heavens. spent the day resting though and laughing great belly laughs reading lulu's site its just brilliant real and terrifically funny. and gets to the heart. well. nothing quite like laughter to make one feel better. and a dead kali anti biotic equal to the monster bug.

t popped up the hill to ride her tall horse and my 5 year old daughter decided she would tear herself away from the fat hedgehog in the cardboard box (there must be a hedgehog convention or something on the hill..there are hundreds about. this one was found near the boiler this afternoon) and also ride. pea on a drum. she rides the old horse sirrocco with mwali (the syce) leading of course. he is a big old kind horse. my war horse.boys tore in from school and i lay lower...tempted to act sicker than i really am because was so enjoying reading family affairs and laughing so much that i didn;t really want to be disturbed. like a whole day wasn't enough. well. not really. when you have been as sick as i have. in the grips of this Mighty Bug Which Takes No Prisoners. its days are drawing to a close. and frankly, i am getting hungry again and had to seriously hold back from tearing into the cheesy canaloni (sp?)for dinner. i managed two teeny mousy helpings but wanted heaps more.

i even had enough energy to finally wash daughters hair which has lice again...sigh sigh...and comb through and kill four dudus (insects). it will be the olive oil situation again tommorrow but this time i SWEAR to complete the project and keep the hair oiled and combed for at least until the next new moon. it must be something in my DNA. but i love finding dudus and squashing them in my nails. i know i know. grunt grunt.its so primate. but hey.
must go for that wax tommorrow.

i managed to miss parents evening yet again but this time it was completely out of my control and i kid you not. c was the dutiful dad and attended. the boys are doing very well indeed. danu p in the middle of hideous sats exams in year 6. he seems to enjoy them which has to be a credit to the school. or to us as parents, you know, not making a fuss or a scene about fact i had forgotten about them. i was sick. i was sick.

at one point this evening i almost wished to be back in the sanctuary of the spare room. in literally the first half hour of being up i managed to offend two children unintentionally. amazing. rubin and gabby. their outrage was shortlived but nevertheless forthright and loud! and rubbish. seconds later all three are running like mad things through our little house. we have an outbreak of kalahari ferrarris (and i don;t know how to spell ferrari? or is it like mississippi with doubles throughout? you can tell i am a snaggle toothed hill billy from back of beyond). kalahari ferrarris are not ferrarris made in the kalahari but spider like creatures (harmless and not spiders at all - a species entirely to themselves - so says heroic bush snake expert man of mine - although they don't look harmless and i have never seen him catch one) which literally race around at great speed and angles and surprise the hell out of you with their speed and accuracy (for your foot, or arm, or face or whatever is in the way ... your eye). all the ones this evening are babies. they grow to quite a marvelous sci fi size and are impressionable. i am not sure what they eat. babies fingers?

a long time ago, pre kid days, we kept a baboon spider for a pet. well. she was in a box to be observed and respected. a baboon spider is large,black, bulbous and hairy and bites with poison which causes necrosis (rotting of flesh - lovely). when you see one you naturally know not to mess with it. they grow to the size of a clenched fist. like a tarantula type affair.
our one was a female and was christened Babette The Baboon Spider. she was discovered in someones book shelf and was covered in insy winsy baby baboon spiders. all clinging onto her big fat bottom. she was popped into a jar and promptly into an awaiting tank (there were always loads of those at home then) where she swiftly wove an impressive web with a long white tunneled entrance. very grand indeed. and heaved herself deep into her gleaming castle with her big hairy legs.
we fed her with live grasshoppers. we would plop them into her cage. i know. gory. but heroic bush husband was fascinated to learn about all of gods wonderous creatures and their behaviours. i would watch with horror and keen interest as she would stalk with intent down her long white webbed corridor towards the happily unaware little jimminy know, thinking, hoo boy! this is a cool glass center? where did i land? WHOA! and then wait with anticipation for the right moment and then leap and crush the hopper dead with these fangs as long as cats claws, the colour of steel. she would suck all the juice out of the hopper and leave a very neat square juiceless desposit which c would later carefully, very carefully, remove. lovely. when we left for long leave to lake malawi, she wasn;t the sort of pet anyone wanted to look after. so we played Born Free on our old cassette player and chucked her into the combretum thicket behind our house. Nice knowing you Babs....Ciaou for now.

kalahari ferrarris are not of this genre, fortunately. gabby is filled with a mix of glee and fear and a need to impress her she races around the house screaming "karaari karraaris!wwweeeeeee!~" in her bare little pink feet.

i tried to get a picture of our resident KF's to show you but i think the kids scared them all away.

after our kalahari ferrarri circus i watched the kids play Smelly Socks. The aim of the game is to make the person who is on, laugh. if they are unimpressed by your attempts at humour they shout out Smelly Socks! Next! and you have to try again. its fascinating really how literally all three of them revert to toilet humour. willies. showing their bums. farting. boys acting like girls or elvis presley styled rock singers (not that that's toilet humour of course!) and gabby sort of doing a willy thing too. hmm. kept my nose buried in my lap top but, one eye on the antics.

oh and one more story of the day. when t came to ride she said that c and N from lake eyasi (the place we went camping written about on previous blog) both, on seperate occassions this past week, were attacked by a 4.5m long python while walking in the bush. c was first. just strolling on his own when out of no-where it came and like lightening wrapped itself around his leg. yikes. they eat children (and south african truck drivers according to a zambian daily newspaper). the very next day n was walking with the kids and the dogs and the damned snake attacked her. oooooooooooooooergh. so of course c had to kill it. risky business. riksy business and highly unusual for a python. . its true. i have learnt everything i know about snakes from my craig. about rhombic egg eaters, night adders, house snakes, file snakes (they are cannibals - we like them!) little emerald green usambara vipers with the little horns on their pretty. and how cobras can come alive even when their heads have been shot off with a shot gun...that is another story for another time.

i think that is a house snake on the right. ...(heroic bush husband has peered over my shoulder and loudly guffawed at my identification skills) after all these years...twenty or something...its a bloody olive sand snake...der. and fondly ruffles my he didn't really.

ah its good to feel well again. at least on the path to feeling well again. i shall now safely relocate back into our loft bedroom before the damned mosquitos air lift me there....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

updates and bug fixes (stolen from blogger buzz)

ok. its not even remotely funny anymore. not that it was in the beginning but you know, its day bloody four and am still camped out around the loo. dr sheriff (man with almond eyes) assures me the dawa will kick in after 48 hours. just to be on the safe side i emailed my dear friend doc juergen (fondly referred to as juergy burgy) in china. yes china. he assures me the medicine will fix me. and has given me alternatives in case it doesn't. he cited typhoid amongst the usual suspects ...more than slightly worrying and oh so terribly booooring

he also sent me some wacky photos of his life in china. one of them is a bunch of key rings for sale at the beach. see pic above. and if you look closely there are LIVE gold fish inside each plastic key ring...this should make Wife In The North (
feel much better about her goldfish living it up in the lost city of atlantis... also take note of the shoes of the seller...she idled over and apparently hit juergen on the head whilst he was taking the photo (guilty as hell)...of course the fish would die from lack of oxygen.well. on her head be it when she finds out that there is indeed a god and god is a german goldfish . oh and another thing is, juergen doesn;t get to see this because the site has been blocked by the chinese???? bummer.
today life on the hill has been, from my point of view, from the sunken sick bed, horses strolling past my window, cats curled up snuggly at the end of my bed, the toilet, the shower, veronica bringing me salty rice porridge, the toilet, sally and the kids, my kids, the toilet, craig, one slender piece of chicken, the toilet, and now the lap top. no. its just not funny anymore.
i feel wiped out. literally. tommorrow tommorrow. roll on.

Monday, May 12, 2008

sick bed with a view

been sick as a pike and camped out near the choo (loo) after a splendid friday and saturday. a dastardly tummy bug. won;t go into any details, but whew, its a biggie. had to sms dr sheriff (our shiite doctor who has the most beautiful almond eyes, i kid you not) with symptons, also explaining that i could not come in person to see him as i dare not be less than 5m away from the toilet. he has prescribed some dawa (medicine) which, when you read the small print, kills everything from anthrax to giardii. amazing. dear sal picked it up in town for me along with some white rice. i really hope the drug works.

frankly, i feel like, um, sh**.

i have the best sick bed in the world. i can lie and see kilimanjaro through my window. lucky me. darling c returned from camp to check up on me ( i think more the kids) because they had to make their own dinner last night (toasted peanut butter saamies), their own bath and put themselves to bed last night. i was incapable. hear the violins. hear the violins. at one point they were all bickering and fighting about who gets to sit in the deep end of the tiny bath and who gets the big towel, and i staggered in screaming like a true witch mother
" its bloody mothersday and i am bloody sick so will you bloody well just get into the damned bloody bath now or.,....blah blah blah!" total loss of control, you see. i might even have thrown in the "F" word somewhere in there. and then i heard them snickering when i walked out....

now. rubin was a champion yet again on saturday and won two medals in moshi at the swimming gala . how we beam, seriously. i shall attend the assembly on friday to see him receive them (unless i am otherwise incapacitated.)

bananas apparently are too heavy for a bad tummy. its rice porridge. dear veronica has been plying me with salty rice porridge today...she really is an angel.
whew. here come the cramps again....and a long night ahead.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Snaggle Toothed Hill Billies On Hols

And see us in our splendour.

This is when Ngorobob Hill Billies leave the hill and go camping. I can't for the life of me work out why people LOVE going camping, (or for picnics for that matter).- ants in your saamies (sandwiches), dust in the butter, sticky mibas (thorns) in your sleeping bag and shoes, burning smoke in your eyes while you sweat over a fire trying to cook lunch in the boiling midday heat and then eating it balanced precariously on logs with your knees around your ears, and getting stung by scorpion..oh the list is ENDLESS.

But its always such fun afterwards. Such bloody good fun, I say.
Nevertheless Sal persuaded me that we needed a break from our lofty abodes and that we should head to Lake Eyasi for the week-end and camp out in the palm forest and swim in the spring..."Oh the kids will LOVE it..Come on! Stop being a bore.You've never been there. Blah blah blah .." and i was easily persuaded, a brain fart in time.

After hours of bone jarring, teeth rattling, hideous roads, past stoney barren hills, where people actually make a sort of living from growing onions out of the rocks, we arrived and struck camp.
Don't you love that word? STRUCK camp. It sounds soooo efficient. So military. Bish Bash Bosh Bingo DONE RAH RAH! Here's your medal!And a slap on the back! Brownie Points, Brownie Points. It seems to me that whenever camp is to be struck, it's always at the end of a rather long and hot journey, and this heavy, sweet laziness descends over one like a tranquilizing drug (sort of a zanexy effect), for the entire duration of the camping section. It's like my hands and feet are heavy. Striking Camp becomes A Chore. But maybe it's just me.

Of course, camping equipment is something that our family doesn't own, so Sal kindly leant her tents and sleeping mats. With great fervour the boys (my boys - on the LHS of the pic) set about building our tents. I thought it proper that they learn these manly things early on in life. Help their mama, you know. My temper soon rose to boiling point but I had to keep it under control as there were people about (family doesn't count). And i remember Daniel (he was ten at the time - this all happened last year and we haven't been camping since) holding my cigarette, kneeling down, trying to hammer a peg in or be helpful... while i threaded the ruddy pole through the loops but it kept breaking apart and getting caught in the middle of the canvas loop and it was all just so clumsy and overwhelming....
Nevertheless, camp was struck, against all odds.

And then you have time to lift your head and realize why one goes camping...The sun had dipped below the horizon, Sal had lit the fire and the paraffin lamps, the sky was hazy purple and wind blown, Lake Eyasi lay wild and vast (and sort of menacing - ish...) in front of us, the hyphaene palms sighed like a sea above our heads and the first stars peeked quietly through the trees accompanied by a late old moon proverbially floating like a balloon across the sky. Supper was DONE...brought from Sal's house - chipatis and beans and everyone felt full and peaceful and tired. And dirty. Who cares about showering anyway? and there were MARSHMELLOWS! and cheap warm boxed red wine, which, frankly, tastes divine out a tinned cup when you are sitting in the dust, with a halo of stars on your head. In fact so divine i drank about four (or was it eight? or, um, blah...whatever) in quick succession.

How seductive to lie in your tent with only netting between you and the sky and watch the starry universe cut its old arc, trailing the milky way like a veil behind it....

There is no sleeping in when you are camping. Oh no. First light you are up (with a dull red wine head ache, a Saharian thirst and dust in your throat) huffing and puffing over a stubborn fire because we WILL have tea and coffee, after we have washed the old red wine and bugs out of the tinned cups lying used and abused next to last nights ashes.

Whatever... A few panadols, a liter of water and some very dark sunglasses later, i can courageously take on the white-blue, hazy, lazy African day offering itself so surely to me and float in crystal fresh springs and slow time. Yes. Camping is cool. I love camping. I do.

After a week-end of windblown sunsets, dust in your hair how sweet to get back to our home on the hill, where the wind is crisp and the view is far and your bed is soft. And its home. And we had fun. And we can tell C all about it.

Oh and PS. Rubin won the Spotty Tie at school today for being a good Hitler. (is that possible?) and for going up three levels in reading.

How we beam. How we beam.