Friday, October 31, 2008

pants and things

"...the hills step off in whiteness.

People or stars

Regard me sadly. I disappoint them..." Sylvia Plath

this persistant and not unfamiliar melancholy just quietly walked in and lay down beside me. now it sits next to me sulking. i wish it would go away. or cheer up.

my mind has wandered to some extraordinary places this last hour. and it's not even dark outside. (it is now.) it stretched out millions of tentacles, into the heart of whatever matter it chose to look at. and brought me images of great beauty, alarming sadness and stark clarity. my mind made a statue out of me. immoveable. peeling gold paint under the sun and wind.

until i opened my email box and read my daily message from Mr Universe. oh no. he's not a winner of a body building competition. not at all. in fact, could be Ms Universe, Master or whatever you bloody want it to be. Dame, Madame, Mrs Margaret. whatever. it's The Universe speaking.

in a, um, aherm, trice, it made me ridiculously happy.

Remember, janelle, the whole point of this "drill" - you know, living in the jungles of time and space - besides the daily adventures, falling in love over and over again, and the color purple, was simply to give you a little vacation from being Me.
You don't have to take everything so seriously.
Enjoy, "Hombre" - The Universe

PS: It was also the perfect time to get you out of your mansion here so that we could install the ski lifts, riding stables, racetrack, waterslides, and private Prada boutique. Hey... you were supposed to return several lifetimes ago, janelle.

HOWZAT!!!!!?? i yell.

i mean. how does he know i love prada and horses? oh. and waterslides? only seen a ski lift once though. from afar. in switzerland, many many years ago, when by a series of quite unfortunate life changing choices and events, i found myself being, of all things, a nanny for two small french speaking children in the dead of a swiss winter - in fact one of the heaviest since the '60's.

i was motherless (she had just died), fat (ate toblerones to try and stop being sad - about 6 large ones a day in between lashings of cheese fondues and pastas which completely went against my oath to develope anorexia so everyone would worry about me) and fucking cold. the mother of these two little bastards, was a ski instructor. this fact alone, the "ski" bit, raised my grey caterpillar depression, with completely false hopes of giving ski-ing a bash. finally a chance to slide down these extraordinary white steep extremely foreign slopes. to experience snow first hand. the only snow i had seen was in those little jars you shake up and down..with those little christmas scenes inside. and it's all a flurry of snow. (which takes me back to my russian vision, where i am a russian jew in a past life in snow and - oh ok .... swifly moving on though. swiftly.)

i still LOVE them. i had not seen snow until, by a series of misinformed decisions (to reiterate), i flew to switzerland, to unostensibly learn french. i was 18. and african. and motherless. and, obviously, confused. the only ski lift i saw was at a distance, while maman slalomed off, all blond, slim and laughingly glamorous in her dusty pink and fine furs. she left me definitely stationary, sipping cocoa, with her brats, fat, alone and with a terrible hair cut. like a lost michelin man.

my hosts had recently taken me to a congolese hairdresser in geneva. duh. why? one asks. not sure why. perhaps because of the african connection? only? he gave me a very very bad pudding bowl cut, which did absolutely nothing for me, for my round white sad full moon face beneath it. it looked nothing like the magazine picture i had shown him. absolutely nothing like it.

yes. so there i sat on those white slopes. sad and foreign.

so actually The Universe, please scratch ski lifts from that little list. thanks. unless you are also
involved in karma (the instant kind) and the results thereof. perchance? for no extra cost or skills in computer technology? if yes, please arrange a swoppsie with that mother. just for that exact moment in time. or p'raps not. because i don' t think it would leave me feeling all that well.

all i really wanted back then in cold geneva, with its piles of snow and wayward st bernards with little bottles of booze strapped to their collars (i kid you not. they were there, the little bottles of booze. i checked.), was a pair of white leather pants. trousers. for the life of me, i have no idea what prompted this inappropriate crush. abba? mourning my mother? who knows? that year, when i was in geneva, it happened to be, apparently, The Year Of The Friendly Shopkeeper. could have fooled me. bunch of miserable little swiss duka wallas. nevertheless, there i found myself, in a very upmarket, very small, boutique, in the old posh part of town, on a dark winters afternoon. sad. fat. and moon faced. and motherless. and absolutely desperate for a pair of white leather pants.

careful what you wish for. there they hung , as i had dreamt them up, my White Leather Pants. there was only one pair. it was now or never. i rushed excitedly to the changing rooms. they came exactly up to my knees. i said to myself, "Fuck it. I'm buying them. I'll fit into them eventually. iwilliwilliwill".

i lumbered up to pay the very rude spaghetti thin Chanel sharp nosed pearled completely elegant shop assistant. she held the trousers aloft, looking carefully at them, her plum coloured lips pursed, sizing them up, then looked slowly down her beautiful nose at me, sizing me up, then back to the trousers, then very slowly back to me and said "end do zay feeeeet??"
i went purple and nodded furiously. she shook her head. i paid a fortune. and fled into a dark winter afternoon, to eat a toblerone and drink some hot chocolate, my petits pantalons en cuire mockingly at my side.

i finally fitted into those trousers, a year later, in the sweltering humid tropical heat of a durban summer. i wore them about three times.

and then evolved.

to levis.

Kitchen Board: Friday Night (at home. missing the halloween party.) 31 October 08

Contributors: Veronica, Gabby, one hartebeest (skull. sorry. RIP)
Comments: our little halloween effort. along with four boxes of smarties.
so whoooooooooo tooooooooooooooooodely pip then and bisous, comme toujours xxx long wild dusty ones.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

ben and the universe

so dr ben parker died today. he was my lecturer, boss, mentor. a friend who i so admired. he was safari craig's good friend.

he's been sick for a while. Ag. and i am glad he is out there now. floating out there amongst the stars...above all the shit. but still. it's sad eh? whoa. sad. i keep remembering them both in that beautiful old house in kloof..ben smoking and telling us all about lecturing in 'Maritzburg (because it was way more progressive than the durban campus where we knew him, maybe not quite as rad as westville where he eventually ended up, but still...) di, an ethereal earth hippy maths wizard mother, a raphaelite beauty, who if she had been born a few hundred years ago, would have graced a thousand canvases. and their two tousel haired boy children, nut brown and fucking hectic, chasing each other with knives, bellowing, tearing through the lounge like mad little dervishes, flying plates and glasses in their wakes....and ben and di just being so, um, laid was beautiful. they were beautiful. .ben lectured me in psychology in education...(one settler one bullet sort of thing)...his were the only lectures I vaguely attended. political and psychedelic in nature... he let me know on the phone, the night before the exam, which topics to spot. he was spot on. i passed. every other exam i had ever cheated in, i had failed. i managed to fail an entire second year, an achievement I don't usually admit to (the failing even after cheating bit). that year, i had an entire French dissertation transcribed into the margins of the tiniest novel, on which we were being examined. almost word for word, accent for accent.. and still failed.

Ben inspired Craig and I no end...we really loved him. guru Ben. i'll light a sparkler or two for you ben parker, over divali. now you can go surfing whenever you want. and think about the next time round....

poultney emailed to tell us about ben this afternoon. another great mad friend. our bearded anthropologist golden earringed fearless buddy, with whom i canoed down the flooding croc infested pongola river, where i spotted my first fin foot ever. craig and i were not on talking terms. he was paddling with moses posega, the witchdoctor from mozambique, who lay stoned at the back of the canoe the entire way, steering their canoe into thickets of fevers trees. they got a little caught up for a lot of the time, much to my utter delight, the sicko i am....) poultney can drink as much whisky as me and still stand (or ride a horse at dawn). i think that's immensely impressive. he used to stand on his head every morning so his hair would grow. (don't try it. it didn't work) he is a white zulu kabisa 100% and has a laugh not dissimilar to a fierce viking. he is the only real friend i know (apart from ben who just died) who really was active in the mkhonto we sizwe ( i know i can't spell it) - the military wing of the at-the-time-banned ANC (African National Party - the one still in power now in South Africa). oh and he's quite adventurous - slashing paths through the Congo jungle, blazing the way forward for commmunity conservation and tourism...dealing with his sinus issues by sniffing freshly jarred sea water (this works. try it) and, in case i didn't mention it, he also happens to be a little clever. i answered his email and told him to stop being a slacker and a politico, hanging out with big fat fish, and to hurry up and read my blog. his response:

What the fuck is a responsive universe?

well. he asked. so i took it upon myself to try and explain what i thought it was and quickly realized that in fact, i had no bloody idea either. der bloody brain. i had the nerve to give it a twirl, nevertheless...nothing to lose but my entire face, eh?

It's a blind faith in thinking you might have something to do with what happens in your life. With your life. With, sometimes entire nations. In actually thinking that possibilities lie with you, in fact, deeply've got to believe it before it happens, act like its already happened ... even pretending. you know, play play. it can bring porches to your garage. and spouses to the alter (or the courts, whichever way you see it).

It's putting out genuine (ok and preferably intelligent) positive energy, thoughts and words and in due course receiving some of it back. (even if it means becoming part of a website called "tut" or something bizarrely inane like it, which sends you daily feel good emails and signs them The Universe...and says things like You Rock Janelle. Groove it Baby and other feel good phrases, particularly effective on monday mornings or sunday evenings....i know I know. At least it isn't drugs or alcohol...she lies poker facedly... not THAT different from the least it doesn't mention sinful things and a killer god...) This is where the faith bit comes into it, you see... Man. This better be right or else I'm just going be a fucking bitch from now on.

It seems to me that the unfriendly man sitting in the corner over there, with a glinting scythe over his shoulder and a really pale face, doesn't quite see it the same way. quite frankly, he couldn't give a spinning shit if you were positive, negative or ACDC, now could he? Ven eet ees time eet ees time, shentelmen.

(...gulp gulp. maybe that's who its been...not a fat red faced german gentleman alter ego at all...she says in a VERY small voice.)

some people think its perfectly acceptable and fine to discuss these departing issues with the man with the scythe. that tall pale very unfriendly fuckin' freak in the corner. yup. the one with the outdated black hood over his face. he looks eternally medievil. man. he is scary and so not bloody welcome in this happy place...and they say, oh lets just go and have a little chit chat with him over a nice cup of tea, shall we. i'm sure he'll understand that its not quite convenient for me to leave the planet just excuze me...? sir? whack.

i don't think so buddy. you must be deluded or have some kind of funky psychotic death wish.

him aside (he's definately a man. women just don't do that kind of thing), a responsive universe should laugh when you laugh. and make magic because you believe in it and love it, and put pots of gold at the end of the pretty rainbows it says it can do it apparently...oh and stop global warming, mass genocides, abject poverty, homelessness, rape, child abuse, wars, physical abuse and neglect, cancer...

Of course.


I'll be off then....and if you didn't laugh I will never speak to you again. (or comment. ever.)



Kitchen Board: 28 October 2008: Tuesday Evening:

dressed in yeller...

Contributors: Gabby and, god, who was that, dropping into board space....? spooky.

Comments: up to date. oh and just so you all know. i totally winged it at school for the last two days and delivered my best lessons to date. mime. so all shut up and act these out. invisible boxes. climbing invisible ropes. invisible ladders, ice creams, cars, elephants, door knobs and while you're at it, peel a banana and slip on its skin. they did it all. commendably. so.....

toodely old pip then. and watch out for the weirdo in the corner wearing that spooly black coat. it should be outlawed..

and of course bisous bisous bisous, toujours, xxx j

Sunday, October 26, 2008

a dreamy life then....

this and silver mornings...

football games in the twilight...on lilac sandpeaking at blazing white sands over my toes, steadfastedly ignoring any alarming promises i made to myself to work. who executes lesson plans for six months ahead ...? who plans for tommorrow anyway? when you can step outside into this? now.

so much blue. and turquoise. and purple. and green. a dream. a life.

one thing is for sure. these three people are the best thing to have ever happened to me. i am one of the luckiest people alive on the planet. for sure. oh yes. i am more than deeply grateful for this, my beautiful blue green life.


here i am. home. back in the little pink house on the windy brown hill, brown as only a brown hill can be.

here i am. back in the blogosphere. catching up.

here i am. returned. ish.

very ish.

best foot forward though. bite the bullet and all that malarky. try our level best at school for the next six weeks. until the christmas hols. and try hard not to take any of it too seriously.

kitchen board can wait until tommorrow. along with the lesson plans... i think i dread school more than the children.
boo hiss. can't be helped.
so many bisous. many... sandy salty windy zanzibari ones xxx j

Monday, October 20, 2008

zanzibar, obviously.. . . .

(above photo by claire chan 05)

so the kids and i are off to zanzibar tommorrow.

and i have a socking great stye in my eye. more like a dozen carbuncles. i look like someone's given me a hefty punch. i look hideous. i am popping panadols like smarties, like marilyn, and dying for someone to feel overwhelmingly sorry for me. me? needy? get outta here.. .

i hope the clear zanzibari seas shall wash all this infection clean and away. wash away all the ngorobob dust...and the white coral sand shall clean my feet. and i shall i have clean brown feet again. and late in the afternoons, lounge in deep purple shade on lilac beaches, or so they seemed.

oh we are so excited. the children can barely sleep and are thundering about upstairs playing hide and seek, in a room no larger than a small shoe box. the fun police shall be paying them a visit like, any minute now. and boy do i look like the fun police, or what?

it seems everyone has fled the ngorobobs lately. some to kenya and the rest down to the sea. with me following hot on their heels. i hope the little pink house, with its delightfully clueless menagerie, shall survive sans moi.

i have booked a little palm leaf "banda" (word for hut) on stilts on a perfect little white moon crescent of a beach. . . . situated on a sea urchin infested bay, north east of the island, where we shall bob about snorkling. at high tide of course.

the beach artists will be there again. with their paintings of maasai. every single painting is the same. tinga tinga. the fishermen will be mending their boats, in between kneeling at prayer times. and in the late afternoons, when the palm tree shadows stretch across the width of the lilac sand, there might be a game of football.

at night the tide sneaks right up to our rope staircase - or sometimes the tide is so far away, it's almost quiet. you wake up sweating from the heat, no wind, no fans. far away you can hear the waves on the reef. and the whine of a mosquito weaves itself between jasmine petals from last nights pillow, all tangled in your hair.

so. that's where i'll be.



Kitchen Board: Monday Evening: 20 October 2008

contributor: gabriella lara rosa.

comments: "happy loving couples make it look so easy."

oh and important, very important notice, to anyone who read the post on wealth. um doc cairns is still very much in heart. . .thanks Chantal...whoops bloody whoops eh?

and for the rest, "to rose lipped maidens and lightfoot lads..." and back on sunday evening, inshallah...

bisous, deep ruby red ones. xx j

Sunday, October 19, 2008

mummy just missed her mouth.

when i say "cyberspace" i have visions of stars, planets, russians, clever americans and things far beyond my possible imagination , but not my yearning.

oh. ok. and if you insist, google wobbles determinedly, on a crazy axis, across the imagination screen. and autres choses americains.... a few loose stars falling from a limp flag. at a push.

but mostly the visions are of marble sized earths twirling hazily lazily crazily through a wildly twinkling darkness, ours spinning on a particularly unstable axis towards its groovy little implosion, a mona liza smile across its ocean blue face.

the blogosphere is part of this galaxe extraordinaire. this unkown twinkling " Space"

it's beautiful. and ample.

like somtimes i say to the children. righto. stretch your arms out. see? This Is My Personal Space.

load of rubbish.

so when someone who you don't even know from a bar of soap, drops into your Space and says things like:( i have capitalised the word space.)

But that's not enough. I'm not sure that I've ever come across something so brilliantly written and engaging out there in Space

Anyway, this thing of wonder, your blog, simply astonished me . . .

who cares what came before and after.

it made My Heart space burst open like a very big, very wide wild field of flowers.
it made me smile as i'm driving on a sunday afternoon.
and made me miss my mouth.

Kitchen Board: (Long Overdue It Must Be Said): Sunday Summer Tanzania East African October 2008

Contributors: Veronica, Gabriella, Bridget
Comments: tonight's dinner must be The Worst Dinner Ever Served On The Ngorobobs To Recoded Date. .... burnt scrambled black egg, very plastic square toast. and tight boerewoers.....

tant pis....bisous, lightening in clouds ones...x j


Thursday, October 16, 2008


(all photographs by safari craig.

who has it? who doesn't?

what is it and who says?

and how much does one person need, for godsakes?

the world has gone crazy.

my friend michor in amsterdam, said that the biggest bank in holland has just crashed and has been nationalised. in the mean time the boss man just walked away with 23 million euros in his back pocket. how come? if the bank ran out of money how come he got it all then? who gave it to him? why didn't they put that money back into the bank to save it? and how come he got SO MUCH? what FOR? he clearly mis managed the entire frigging bank. why didn't get he get fired, with 500 bucks in his back pocket?

and then i read of children dying of malaria and other easily curable diseases in the DRC because there are simply no clinics and no drugs. there are doctors. who are desperate.

call me stupid but i just don't get it. i don't understand it at all. feel free to rise to the challenge and explain it to me in simple terms.
i don't buy the "oh its all relative". what's relative to 23 million euros in the back pocket of some failed dutch banker?

i have understood that people borrowed too much money from the banks (people who shouldn't have been leant the money in the first place), to buy their houses, and then couldn't repay the banks back. why is it that we need to drive ridiculously expensive cars, why do we need ridiculously expensive and overlarge ostentatious houses? or even worse, why is it that for the tiniest of concrete living spaces, so tiny you couldn't swing a cat in it never mind keep a cat in it, in some of the biggest cities of the world, we would pay about the same as we would for a luxury sailing yacht??? my very clever friend johnnie b tried explaining it to me on sunday by the pool. i glazed over, nodding distantly, like i do when i look into a car engine, or when someone tries explaining the art of car mechanics to me.

actually, i think all these big bank people and hedge fund people (hedge funds???? wot ees theez - money under the hedgerow?) have just been too goddamn greedy and wicked. i might be walking on very thin ice by saying this, but that's how i understand it, from my lowly, african perspective. GREED.

someone should write a book: Beginners Guide To The Great Depression Of The Twenty First Century: What Went Wrong.

Or rather The Idiots Guide To.....

i understand wealth, almost like a maasai. the maasai think they own all the cattle on the entire planet. (that's why craig and i never went into cattle farming. it wouldn't work around these parts...our cows would be theirs automatically, of course. maasai do not understand fences.) the maasai herds wander the great dusty northern maasailand plains and mean everything to them, second to their children. they kill for their cattle. their homes (bomas) and their children and their cattle mean everything. a man without children or cattle, is not a man. a woman who does not bear children is not a woman. a warrior who winces during circumcision will be forever derided. rules are clear and tradition is strong. there is still connection to ancestral spirits and the earth. of course the weather means everything. if the rains fail, so do the herds.

i remember speaking to a manager at a zanzibar resort, who is maasai. he said there is a real problem with boys leaving school at the age of 14 /15, when they become moran. warriors. when you become a warrior, no-one can tell you what to do anymore. all you have to do is look good, for the women to admire. you wander after the herds and you go walk about - to see the world - before you have to take on all the responsibilities of an adult. so he said, who on earth would want to miss out on this opportunity? on this freedom? indeed. who on earth?

from an early age, the children play games with stones or clay figurines representing cows. once they are old enough to walk and talk, the small kids are given the goat herds to tend to...and of course, once you become a warrior, its the herds you are responsible for. my friend lieve, who is a vet, said that the maasai are about the only people around these parts who pay her cash up front for all the work she does for them. beating the posh horse owners to it.

the maasai nomadic way of life is changing. all cultures change. nothing is static. the grazing lands are shrinking. maasai are becoming less nomadic. the missionaries are trying to make christians out of them. hideous three eyed missionaries with barely an education in hand, only a misguided fear of some puritanical god. don't get me started. i am permanently outraged by missionaries thinking they know better than a maasai warrior who owns over a thousand head of me a favour. convincing them that unless they convert they are doomed to some, say, islamic hell???

i wrote a song once, which has a vicious little verse in it....

"keep your gods in all your temples

your missionaries at home

keep your guilt on the genocides

and your fears of the unkown."

dangerous subject. missionaries have also done some incredible work in africa. saving lives, starting schools, clinics, and dedicating their own lives to the alleviation of poverty. living in remote places. i remember doctor cairns from katete mission hospital in zambia. he was at one stage regularly beaten up by renamo fighters, coming across the mozambique border into zambia. he never gave up. he stayed on, saving life after life, as many as he could. he is an unsung hero. a good man. my mother died in his mission hospital, after her car accident. he was so kind and supportive to my dad and the other casualties, my father wanted to repay him for his kindness. he and his wife loved music so my father wanted to buy him a stereo and some classical records. when he asked him which was his favourite music, doctor cairns simply gave my father a list of drugs they were desperate for at the hospital. he was a very good man. he gave almost 50 of the best years of his life to the zambian people. and died poor in possessions but rich in heart, i should imagine.

perhaps its the right winged missionaries i'm thinking of.

it's the self righteous notion that someone else's foreign god is more important than yours, or rather the one in existence...more important and right than belief systems which have been in place, and changing naturally, for thousands of years.

for the most part, the maasai are still rich.

mess with their cows and they'll kick your arse (and your gods) to outer mongolia, whilst nicking all the cattle from there (and some of your women) and bringing them home in one victorious, whooping, wealthy dust cloud.

if i'm not mistaken.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

wish you were here...

its really dry and dusty now. i know everyone's talking about reluctant memsahib at and val over ....and mercury's doing funky things out there according to tam at ...stay home, she advises, detox and don't get on your hosses until, what, the 15th or something? don't panic. that's the main thing, so says lulu at the riotous and blisteringly real ...but i think she was talking about our crashing global economy which makes people panic and jump out of tall buildings and also makes people steal from other people. look what happened to miranda over at . never steal from her. she'll break your bloody fingers man. as reya says (have to add this just now because i can't remember exactly), she think it might have to do with someone called Mr George Fuck It Up Well And Truly Bush.
well. i am holding a particular planet alignment responsible. i can only wonder what dear mr god is thinking about all of this. what silly little joke is he playing? maybe its mrs god. more up her street. to get us back for what we did to that spoilt little revolutionary son of hers...(
ernest will end up like dylan: and become a prophet by mistake.
oh i wish it would rain. the earth is cracking up everywhere. like the cement floor in my house. (bastard builders. mean little builders.). and the wind blows and blows and blows ageing me at a rate of knots, and toying with my mental health, like it's a football or something. like it was the yellow plastic bag i watched this morning, being twirled slowly round and round the courtyard, like a tumble weed..this afternoon there was thunder on the mountain and dark clouds...but of course, they never quite made it out to the splendid ngorobobs. oh no. not to these bald little wind scoured hills. clouds are far too opulent for them.
i might be forced to consult a rain maker. and pay my karmic dividends pronto.

rubin rode with me this morning. two hours over the bare baked plains. the sky was white. and faint church chorals tumbled their way in bits and bobs on wind spirals. distant. beautiful.
i didn't wish to be anywhere else.

now i do.
this evening i deeply wish i was in the ritz in paris in a white toweling dressing gown, sipping prosecco (tick this box: prosecco in hand) with a pile of magazines, dinner delivered, movies all ready to go, an enormous silken bed, with endless oodles of cash waiting to be spent on wonderfully frivolous things like silver or red or pale tan or gold suede high heel shoes, with silk ribbon ties, lotions and potions and perfumes which will take away african sun wrinkles in a jiffy and make one smell of crisp linen and plump roses, hair is all jen (as in arniston - lots of it) pure white linen riding shirts smelling of lavender, new jodphurs and boots all of which have been exquisitely hand crafted only for me. underwear underwear underwear which fits properly and enhances... brown and kingfished blue and plain white cottons...all wrapped in boxes and ribbons. and oh hell. throw in some delicious caroline rummegar jewelry. why not? and three little gold rings of uneven diameter.
uuuuuum...what else? oh definitely a foot massage, chocolate, great sodding piles of letters from everyone i know saying how bloody fantastic they think i am and last, but not least, three of the worlds top record companies , going crazy in the hotel lobby to get me signed up after the single witchcraft changed the history of the world.
oh and dido's my manager.
and then of course, when i've had enough of life this way, a private jet, all paid for, picks me up and whizzes me home to my little battered pink house on the hill, with four horses, four dogs, 5 cats, three children who happen to be three of the most beautiful people on the entire planet, and one ever patient, ever loving, ever handsome, ever absent husband.

put that in your pipe and smoke it mr universe.

No kitchen board tonight because damian has my camera. he borrowed it to go and take photographs of camels.

camels? CAMELS?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

starry nights...

this morning i overheard some smaller kids at school, as i lurked tiredly behind a bougainvillea bush, trying to wake myself up from a class.

- HAH! You said the eff word!

i was a little taken aback because the kids were really little, but more amused and intrigued to hear what would follow next..

- eff aye tee...F A T.

so fat is the eff word these days it seems. i keep threatening myself with really silly things like "right. that's it. going to start smoking again if this is the fat effing case" the hips widen at the same pace as the ice bergs and glaciers melt because of global warming...polar bears synonymous to my thin self...swimming into no-where...drowning and never coming back. it bothers me. slightly. the fat on my hips. the roll of my tummy...(devastated about the polar bears' plight of course) - but it doesn't stop me from swaying them. my hips. it just stops me from wearing all my favourite skirts...because they are tight. its irritating. and it doesn't stop me from eating piles of macaroni cheese, kilos of biltong, bananas and nutella and slaughtering the chocolate cake at tea time, aggressively prodding the children away with my fork.

she hopefully (and steadfastedly) clings to those well loved buddhist notions of impermeability. .that the large body shall permeate into a smaller healthier version. miraculously on its own. without having to put on even one running shoe ever again.
desperate. must must DO something.

the house has flowed with beautiful friends, laughter and candlelight. the candlelight because of effing tanesco power cuts...nothing whatsoever to do with mood lighting. TANESCO- our national electricity supplier - is running short of power or something absurd like that...due to a certain MP who stole millions from the coffers last year, which was supposed to have gone towards saving the nations power supply.

i have finally succumbed to turning on the generator. i should say, i have finally overcome another fear of mine. our security guard. the last one was just too leery and weird and kept asking me for i requested a changing of the guards. now we have antonio, who ressembles a multiple genocider, his long teeth glowing , and, if i allow my imagination really get the better of me, his red eyes gleam like coals in the dark . for the first time ever, i am comforted by the presence (an extremely intermittant presence it must be said) by our long term askari, mwita, who has to be the most useless watchman the world has ever known.

ask my aunts from london. about mwita. when they came out for christmas last year we had to climb over his drunken sleeping form, draped down the steps into the house, snoring. if a horde of somali shiftas had galloped over him, he wouldn't have woken. not even for the devil.

mwita reckons the hill is lucky. because "it is very busy" with hedgehogs - which are indeed a VERY lucky sign, in the world according to mwita. he hasn't mentioned the giant eagle owls...which sit on our roof and hoot just before dawn, perched royally outside my window. they are magical really magical. oh no. he hasn't mentioned them. according to many african beliefs, owls are a sure sign of death, particularly when they are on a roof of a house. they are heavily linked to witchcraft, as are house is inundated with both...and a flying broom. which no-one has noticed either. still. antonio looks scary. and i have to turn off the generator just now. give me lion any day.

anyway. antonio aside. i love to walk across the stone courtyard to the generator house, to switch it off before bed...the moon is half full, the stars fat and summery, and the wind, hot, dusty and irrepressibly wild. the world is crazier than its been in decades - but that sky. that sky - oh it keeps me sane, wild and fearless. sod antonio of the long teeth.

tonight when i climb into bed, and blow out the paraffin lamp, i shall see the half moon, framed in my window; sweet, perfect and gently laughing on her back...

Kitchen Board: Thursday Evening: 9 October 2008

Contributors: Janelle and Tira Schubart
Comments: Pete O Neal apparently makes the best peanut butter in town. Pete O Neal was also a black panther many many years ago...and how he got to live in tanzania is a long long story. anyway. his peanut butter is the best.

so toodely starry pip to y'all..... bisous comme toujours jxx

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

winner takes all....hooah

darling lulu from Family Affairs And Other Matters ( gave me a glittering award.
now i just need to win the spotty tie award at school and i will be , well, um, made.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

the crystal man...

so you want to hear about school?

or the crystal man?

completely inspired by my students. an eclectic mix of personalities and cultures. from cote d'ivoire, mali, tanzania, kenya, south africa, canada, chad, states, uk, and on and on. they are funny, clever, keen, typical teenagery, challenging, unique. beautiful.

still feeling like an imposter though but getting to slowly see the greater picture. was secretly delighted when year 11's requested that i teach them at least once a week. please.

i had been "covering" (which means taking someone else's lessons because they aren't there) for ms jura ( who was the lucky one to go to nairobi on an english course and meet like minded people and discuss lesson plans and plenaries and differentiations and things like that...)

anyway, when she returned i started giving back the materials and she said "oh no. please take them again. they asked for you..."

being the sucker that i am i was immediately complimented. fortunately for my more pragmatic and rational side i realised why, of course. damnit.

apparently there is a school inspector coming tommorrow. all the way from england. inspecting for the cambridge exams there was a mad panic end of last week on getting LESSON PLANS in order....lesson plans must include "differentiation" and "plenaries". immediate thought was "wot ees pleenareeeez? pleeeeeze? sorry i am from outer barcelona" . instead i sat in the meeting, twirling my pencil, looking up, every now and then, with a fake intelligent look, from my sketch of a fairy, pretending i knew exactly what they were on about. well. i couldn't ask, could i? clearly everyone knows what differentiation and plenaries cover would be blown if i had asked. THANK CHRIST FOR GOOGLE, i say. and a great uk curriculum lesson plan site...and good neighbour mrs baker.
plenaries are a walk in the park. they come naturally to me. and as for differentiation. phwww.

and boy do i love week-ends. who doesn't? doctors on call? pilots flying? anyway. i adore mine. yesterday was just, well, all lilac lined streets, jacaranda explosion, soft blue skies with little puffy clouds skidding across them, acacia stark in front of early rainy season clouds, heralding a change. drunken in in a blink of a moment, speeding along the road... the tree, the cloud, knowing what it says.

and there we were, mo and i scrummaging around in sparkly sari indian shops..buying sparkly indian tops and jingly things and feeling happy. twinkles in shop shadows, little light sequinned reflections shimmering in dark corners, like the sun. and saying shocking things to each other we wouldn't dare say to anyone else...and laughing our heads off about it in the traffic jam, while watching a witchdoctor trying to trick the crowds and longing to know what he was saying, watching the knife sharpener man - on his bicycle, with all the restaurant owners around him with their knives. mo tried to get a picture but the knife sharpener man became angry. so we ran away. in the afternoon i lounged about at a kids birthday party. all dreamy pastel and fat green telly tubby type lawns and landscapes. oversized extraordinarily large flowers. and children flitting around like those weird little telly tubbies.

i ate non stop. chips and avo dip, popcorn, more chips and avo dip, pizza, chips, wine, tea, pizza, liquorice all sorts, chips and scrapings of avo.and then cakecakecakeCAKE... lashings of yellow butter icing...licking my fingers and seeing the red sun glow at the top of the mountain.

and today. hazy lazy sunday, under an arced kind true blue sky, filled with those fat funny skidding clouds, which generally make one feel dizzy, happy and irresponsible. and give wide open spaces a dimension.

and who should arrive but the crystal man.

as they do of a sunday afternoon. in white saloon taxi man cars from town. all french. searching for The Perfect Crystal. no chips you understand. and looking way too cool for a western dusty windy tanzanian hill with a crooked little pink house clinging to the top of it, bravely leaning into a fiesty little kilimanjaro wind.

the crystal man, haling from a star war city in a desert searching for real light sabres.

i made the right decision. to take that job at school.

oh yeah....plenaries, warts and all....

kitchen board: sunday night: 5 october 08

Contributors: Gabby (section of board)

Comments: i believe in angels. and a responsive universe. and tommorrow is going to be a great and exciting day. even if its monday.
wishing you all an exceptional monday, in which each and everyone of you who read this, is surprised and inspired, even if its momentary....
toodely pip and bisous XXX janelle

Thursday, October 2, 2008

blogger's block & bananas. . .

after powering my way through two beautiful sweet half ripe bananas lasciviously lavished in lashings of nutella and cups of elegant earl grey tea, i feel empowered to blog on regardless of this obvious block i am having....

(note alliteration. can you tell i'm teaching again?)

regardless of the fact that i don't really have anything relevant to report to my few loyal cyber buddies out there APART from the fact that i was very nearly unsaddled this afternoon. lost my stirrups, was shoved to the left hand side and was almost unceremoniously dumped on the side of a hill...BUT because i am such an incredibly experienced rider, i managed to stay on. i lie. shamefully. really. i do. i am not sure how the fuck i managed to stay on but i did. call it a strong sense of, aherm, self preservation? or plain bloody lucky.

plain bloody lucky.

and strangely after my ride, i felt energised beyond belief, adrenalin, perhaps? and i actually went RUNNING. down zee hill and up zee hill.

am i fit? she asks herself. or AM I FIT? well. as i walked home, sort of coughing and retching at the same time, like old pasha (staffie of 405 yrs old), i felt like a very old fat person with a very red face. (the german nudging his way in again perchance?)

or maybe this rare and strange energy was because i slept for 3 hours today? in the day time. under my hyrax skin rug. (the one made of 53 individual hyraxes. so hold me personally responsible for the silent forests these days. )

here i sit, recently returned from the kitchen, my belly full and warm from nutella, bananas and early grey tea, as veronica likes to call it.

i must bid you good night before my entire left foot is gnawed off by very large and voracious mosquitoes.

oh ps, speaking of feet, someone asked me once, "Have you seen My Left Foot?"

naturally i assumed they meant : Have you seen my left foot?" imagining all sorts of unfortunate feet disasters: sharks, mosquitoes, lawn mowers, lions, crocs,

not the movie.

Kitchen Board: Thursday night: 2 OCT 2008

Contributors: Veronica, Janelle

Comments: well. its obvious.

so toodely pip and bisous comme toujours xxxx chocolatey ones...hooah. x j