Monday, December 7, 2009

falling stars.

so there he was. standing there with a blank face and an armful of stars.
a pile of them lay at his feet.
what the hell, i must have muttered.
we stared at each other and before either of us could take a breath, he dropped them.
little crashing bells and splinters of glass and ice. slow motion like in the movies.
so i straightened him up and left him, blank faced and silent, hands in his pockets (if he'd had any) staring down at the pile of fallen stars around his feet.
you see, i was going to do it the other way around. ya know, standing there, bending down to collect an armful of the sparkly maasai stars for you. until first born walked in and poked his nose into this odd little creative endeavour.

he said, ag no ma. it should go the other way. it's better.

i think he's right. yeah.

toodely toot y'all...bises X.X.X. oh. sparkly starry ones. x j

Sunday, December 6, 2009

manda channel situation

(last born boogy boarding, pangani. 2009)

presently, i feel like the time when i thought it was a good idea to body surf across the manda channel, (between lamu and manda islands)...towed by a dhow. i desperately clung onto a rope, stoically rubbing up the finest finger blisters that side of the equator, as the dhow caught the thrifty kazi kazi winds winging their way down from mogadishu. the time when i nearly drowned. and if i hadn't drowned (or hadn't had drowned) i would've surely been sucked out to sea by the nasty undercurrents of that particular channel if i hadn't had water pedalled so furiously. so bloody magnificently. i tell you.

the fear of being sucked out to sea is an old one. it's a dreamed one. a real one.
i am away now. for a month. arusha - zanzibar - dar es salaam - lusaka - joberg - durban - joberg - lusaka - dar - pangani - arusha.

the chances of things going wrong are enormous.
the chances of things going right are slim.
my bets are on the latter. risky but damned fine.

isn't it miraculous when your luggage arrives the other end?

i think so.

a wood man in africa: 6th december 2009:

here he is, the little wooden man. so jaunty like, on top of my piano.
nothing chistmassy about him. he has no idea.
i might try to blog somewhere along the line.
here i go, inshallah, zig zagging 'cross east and south of the continent.
so, toodely y'all. toodely (bravely waving a hankey in the wind)
bises X.X.X. torn, stormy ones x j

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

the bad thing and the wooden man

it's raining cats and dogs on the hill tonight.

and i'm thinking all good things come to an end.

about everything. (except about school)

ya know that feeling when you're having too much fun, when you're too happy, when the world tremors ever so slightly with light? when you hold your heart on a string like a balloon, taught straight strings and your head is thrown back, hair wild across your face, sun on your back and you're just skipping? skipping. doolally and foolish like.

but in the back of your mind, your mind of scribbles and stick men, you simply know that The Bad Thing is waiting just around the corner to push you back to where you belong.
"you git back there, you."
slap slap.
"wha-? me? oh. it's you again."
"this is Life, donchaknowit? it ain't all Fun, Loser."
whack on the back of your head.
"what on earth were you thinking, Fool."

i hate that.
and don't tell me it isn't true because it is. that's what a client said many moons ago when he pooed in his pants on a walking safari and we were trying to commiserate with him. well. safari c was. stoically poker faced. heroic in fact. i was stuffing tea towels into my mouth behind the camp bar, trying to act normal.

he sadly said to us, (after he'd cleaned up of course - as the camp froze, poised on the edge of uncontrollable mirth) he sadly said, "and don't tell me this happens to everyone. because it doesn't. it isn't true. "

i mean what do you say?

"oh ken. i'm devastated you pooed in your pants on a walking safari for no apparent reason. and even worse - oh god i'm sorry - in front of your petulant teenage daughter who already hates you and is dying of embarrassment just by your being alive...i've never seen anything like it EVER before. so sorry. why. don't. you. just. die."
no. of course not.
you say," gosh ken. don't worry. it happens to everyone."


but lucky old lucky me, recently i've been keeping The Bad Thing in check. i've been sitting on the edge looking in. being terribly careful of not having too much fun. of not believing too much in anything. of delighting in irrelevancy. i've been standing next to The Bad Thing. so he can't surprise me.

man. i've been holding his hand. sometimes.

i hate that.

but i love it that i can see beautiful things in intense simplicity. in terrible things. i love it that we can if we want to. slyly. when The Bad Thing isn't looking. i love it that we can choose to see things the way we want to. no matter how delusional. (you can always grab hold of The Hand) i love it that i rode past a choir yesterday, under a single tree out on the plains - singing a song i didn't understand. its angelic strains floating on mischievous little rain winds. and how my horse was scared of the skinny cow rustling amongst the dead dry maize stalks. . .

i wish it wasn't there, the Bad Thing, but then perhaps the rain wouldn't smell so sweet.

i have a new toy, oh bestests. which will start to be a regular feature. i am not sure what to call it/him/her. right now, the only thing which springs to mind is Wooden Man.( lashings of apologies to the sisterhood. yes. he does have breasts) another name which leapt ever so easily to mind was, she perhaps mistakenly confesses, is Man. he has travelled all the way from the fairest cape for this assignment. a one way ticket. so instead of the old kitchen board, y'll all be seein' him. hell. maybe somtimes in front of the kitchen board. but as i was sayin' , all good things must come to an end. i give you wooden man. be kind.

these things take time. i might even sew him a little hat in time.

wooden man: tuesday night - rainy - ngorobob hill. sometime in november.
oh and the bad thing is that i don't think he can sit because of the large steel rod up his bottom.. this is rather unfortunate because it means i can't bend him into the Thinking Man position. sigh sigh. oh well.

toodely ole toot y'all. bisous. fresh rainy new ones X.X.X. x j

Monday, November 9, 2009

bonfire night

it rained last night. and rained. gently on the peeling green tin roof. it swept in and out like waves. i lay in the dark listening and thinking. thinking i could hear the grass growing. i slept. i woke. i slept. i woke. and then i was just awake for what seemed like hours. until the grey light crept like a cat through the windows. monday arrived. ever so pearly and grey. ever so slyly.

i've hit the ground running, it seems. at least i'm running and my legs haven't buckled. yet. my mother always told me "the more you do the more you can do." yes. she was right. but my god it's tiring. sometimes. sometimes i want to pull the blinds on the world. to shut it out. to hear silence, white and muffled. and only open the blinds when i am fully re charged. i have no idea how long that would take.

on saturday afternoon i found myself lying on the floor of the office, not thinking anything in particular, but just how cool the floor was. feeling how my spine knuckled itself against the cool concrete. i lay star shaped. until clingy beetle marched in, all medusa like, her rats tails and serpents alive and curling from her beautiful head, and started looking at me askew. and asked if she could look at one of my diaries. she seems to like flicking through the pages finding old receipts and cards but most of all, my funny drawings and curly letters. she stares at them for hours. asking questions. but mostly just staring.

what wires are being crossed, i muse.

i am trying not to be scared about the enormity of nothingness. i am trying not to be scared about x, a young girl in my class. who apparently wants to pull the plug. she is only 14. and so beautiful. but wants to be free from her gold skin. her shiny eyes. her brilliant poetic wit. her smile that would stop more than a thousand ships. hell. helen would be sulking, i tell her, holding her hand.

i saw her at bonfire night, all aglow, all summer evening breezy, all young. we watched the fireworks blaze across the hot november night, with a storm flickering far far away across the steppes. i ooed and ahhed and felt unimaginably happy. until i had a blazing row with first and second born, who promptly stormed off to the car, me storming behind them, with Thing 1 and Thing 2 and Clingy Beetle all silent and wide eyed, sort of stumbling behind. as the last car door slammed shut, Thing 2 erupted into psychotic screaming, volume 15.5. someone had slammed his fingers in the door. by the time we got home, he was fine but first born, second born and i were all in tears. gotta love those nights. the fireworks were unforgettably dazzling and never ended.

i want to know what the eyes of the girl holding the orange lolly pop are telling me. in her twee faux leather orange coat, waiting for the fireworks. . .

Kitchen Board: Monday Night: 09 november 09

it's a round piece of wire to hold the mosquito net in a perfect round circle. in case y'all were wonderin' . . .

toodely old toot, y'all. bisous X.X.X. faintly fragranced with summer orange and fireworks x j

Friday, November 6, 2009

boston legal and the brady bunch

ok. this has to be quick, people. like thirty minutes quick. this is what things have come to. short little spurts of dedication. no matter how hard i try and not to become a slave to the clock, it ain't working..... the thing is, in thirty minutes all children must be cosily ensconced in bed. i Am The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe ( pink) Who Had So Many Children She Didn't Know What To Do. Thing One and Thing Two have come to stay for 5 nights. their father left for cape town, to join their mother. his parting shot was, oh, and i think they have lice. toodely.
well. the old woman does actually know what to do with The Brady Bunch. spank them and send them to bed. after beans and rice, because she isn't as mean as the other one. with immediate effect. so she can watch more boston legal, to which she has become unromantically addicted. after a quick blogging fix.
even though the old woman from the hill finally made it to the Saloon ( hair salon in tanzania), she has nothing better to do than watch boston legal. without prompting, beloved T, our stalwart worker of great hair art a la educating rita style, said, "so? do i need to check you for lice?" straight out. just like that. how does she know?
Oh. My. God.

purple faced, i assented. i mean. wtf? and sat squirming for a good three minutes as she performed an entirely thorough and professional sherlockian search.... and thank baby jesus and his good family, i was given a clean slate. work began.

i am back on the hill, in the very pink house (it has recently had a fresh very pink lick of paint) feeling ever so jennifer arniston like, straight locks banging about the place, with RED nails (very short, very red nails. my excuse was i needed to stop biting them. who nervously nibbles on red enamel nails? if truth be told, as we like it to be, i was inspired by ali, whose short very red nails caught my bored wandering eye a few weeks ago. she told me she needed to stop biting them. i have never used scissors or files so a reasonable conclusion must be that i shape them with my teeth. today my nibbled working hands were Filed (would you like them curved or straight? curved please filed) and Painted.) my toes are deep purple too. just in case you were wonderin'. i daren't don my north stars. yet. in case it crinkles them. or shower. yet. in case the hair turns back to this:

as i floated out, lice free and terrifically straight haired, from the saloon, i passed someone who was sketchily familiar, who said, jeez, where are you off to?
um. home, actually. to watch boston legal, you?
Kitchen Board: a hot november windless ngorobob night. 2009.
gram flour? haven't a clue. let's see what pitches up on monday morning Campaign shopping . could prove inspirational.
last interrupted and vaguely decodable message from safari craig, who is presently somewhere in the northern serengeti mara river region, TANZANIA, was this: client: aw gaad. south africa is BEEWDAFOOL!~
. . . .
stunning. just stunning.
so toodely, ya lovelies, bisous X. X, X. ridiculously red, straight ones. x j
and ps: i promise you that the chilren's pained and saddened expressions in featured pic, is NOT because i am wildly psychotic and a completely careless and rubbish child carer, but because 2 on left hand side of pic were wrenched from some random mind numbing computer game, 1 on very RHS of pic was cruelly snatched from a play station world cup game of soccer and as for the 2 in the middle, clueless. absolutely have no idea. (well. one is blurred so no one could ever tell anyway.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

circumnavigation . . .

ta raa.
i'm still here, oh bestest blogging babies. all three of you. is there anyone out there anymore? it's been a while.
it's just that presently things are, well, a little overwhelming. ever so slightly.
i've been north, where the wild things are. where the skies are bigger than anything you can possibly imagine. where the winds scream and tear at your tent. where you sleepily watch the strange stars slide behind the etched silhouettes of gnarly campiphora trees, circumnavigating the sky.
i've been to a circus and eaten popcorn and sodas. i watched, open mouthed, the contortionist who can climb (so help me god) eloquently through a child sized racquet sans strings. and then met him in real life. freak.
i've been ridin'. not the kind i usually partake in, tearing uncontrollably 'cross the plains, skimming over aardvark holes. no. i've been coached by a swedish grand prix dressage champion...on my little spotted hoss. who didn't think much of the whole show, it has to be said. still. he kicks butts. of any kind.
and i've been teaching. of sorts. and am completely overwhelmed by the work load. because i've left it all to the last minute. and by the very act of blogging, am circumnavigating the pressing issues at hand. all about planning ahead. which i've never ever been very good at. completely rubbish, if truth be told. which it shall be, tommorrow morning, when i sit in ms r's office. with my wings unfolded and flyin' the grace of god there go i. where angels fear to tread.
kitchen smitchen board. i don't even know where town is anymore.
so toodely ole toot y'all - bisous X.X.X. circumnavigational ones, if ya catch my drift. x j

Monday, October 12, 2009

elephants in my soup...

(lovely harmless zebra)

half term has arrived just in keep those wolverine dead lines away from my door...i was so looking forward to lazy mornings in bed, lie ins, simply picking my nose and idly gazing at the view and every now and then pretending to work. but oh no. safari craig has returned from um, safari. just like that. pouf. and has plans. Plans. PLANS. so off on safari we must go. oh but MUST we? she whines. look. i'm not complaining or anything like that, you understand oh bestests. god no. but - just a little lie in? a little of not going anywhere? please?

we have recently returned from tarangire. a national park literally up the road. a couple of hours. as i've said before, things are bleak out there. dry dry dry. as general sir anthony hogmanay melchett sighed as he stared at the blank side of a map, "my god it's a dry and desolate wasteland out there..." so did i. en route to tarangire. one good thing about it being so desolate is that game viewing's a piece of old takkie. herds of buffalo, wildebeest, impala, zebra and hundreds of elephant scattered over the silale swamps like hundreds and thousands on a cake and round every blinking bend of the dwindling river. and around each corner of the path leading to your tent. and around the swimming pool. how they weren't in my soup boggles the mind. a simple walk to your tent to collect your cozzie demands extreme caution. you've got to run the goddamn gauntlet. or stay put. as t from fushandchips ( so aptly wrote: "...there's NO ways I'd do that ****, unless I could drill some eye holes in a 44-gallon drum, squat down and scootle around like a ned kelly-armoured dung beetle, protected from all sides and above."
(bloody baby arrogantly hoovering up desert dates whilst blocking path to my tent. enormous mother lurking just to the right of screen in ambush for any unsuspecting wandering fool)

well. my sentiments precisely. completely sensible. unlike the two swedes who foolishly had their photographs taken standing, oh, a few metres from the mama of the above, as i peered cautiously from behind the swimming pool wall holding my breath. (while penelope cruz look a like actually ran to the other side which had me sniggering. even second born, aged ten, thought she was hot. along with every other male in the near vicinity. so shallow.)

what in gods name were those swedes thinking?? at least penelope knows fear. godsakes. someone will be unduly squashed if caution does not prevale. i tell you.

(bloody family of elephant behind kitchen in car park planning next tactical manoevre. have you ever?)

i will confess i fell asleep for perhaps half of our all day drive - mouth unashamedly agog, head lolling side to side, waking every now and then to blindly swipe at and curse "these fucking tsetse flies...", vaguely notice another elephant two inches from the car and then return happily to my head lolling snooze. god. i am itchy.

now. as if that's not enough, the said safari c is now paving the way north. like bloody dr livingstone. to tangle wood and desert drear - the north side of lake natron - which really really is another planet, i kid you not - somewhere near the kenyan border where only the odd shifta walks - where the wind screams and howls like a choir of desert banshees, tearing at your tent and the heat is unspeakably oppressive. that said, i am never one to say no to new roads. i've always taken mr frost's risky advice. and also i don't want to appear whiney and wimpy. it's just not cricket old girl. so. i haven't even unpacked and northwards we shall go the day after tommorrow....donning arabic kanzus, wet kikois and those dashing dust goggles, which again, will be a sure feature. i've already booked a pair.

so. see you 'round like rissoles, oh bestest beloveds, soon. soon.

Kitchen Board: Monday Evening: early october 09

there will be a major packing of supplies tommorrow. must must not forget the coffee or the sugar. that would be a disaster of terrifying magnitude.( terrible things might happen out there if i forget the coffee, she gasps, wide eyed.) oh. and a 44 gallon drum. just in case. pre perforated.

toodely old toot, then y'all, bisous X.X.X wild 'n dusty ones, hooah. x j

Sunday, October 4, 2009

red moon sunday

sunday rolls in like a big ole evil watchamacallit.

like the bad penny. that's what my gran said one hot zululand sunday afternoon when my zimbabwean brother in law landed surprisingly at her door, long haired, veld skoen toting and rowdy.

"aha. i see the bad penny's rolled in again..."

maybe that's why some people go to church on sundays because they simply can't bear to face it. well why on earth? especially sunday evenings. the rest is too awful to consider. monday. monday and being sensible. monday and the week-end weight like an albatross. anyway. who is ever ready for monday? maybe god feels like this on saturday evenings...thinking about doing angel register early sunday morning...michael? present. neat black tick. gabrielle? present. neat black tick. lucifer? ah, lucifer? his bus is late sir, mumbles gabrielle, smoothing the feathers on his wings. muttering "goddamit", god marks a perfect red circle. again. hating sundays.

after that little rant, i must confess mine hasn't been too bad. in fact, it's been rudely beautiful. rollicking around on horses all morning after a 12 hour sleep laced with underwater secret lake 'n japanese holy men dreams; lashings of good tanzanian coffee. hearing the first rolls of thunder with the midday sun beating unrelentlessly and directly onto my head whilst i sipped cranberry juice and vodka; whilst i munched on cheese and poppy seeds. (ok and olives and camembert and chilli chutney and more cheese and pickled onions and whatever else was vaguely edible in sight and then asked what was for main course secretly meaning it.) storm clouds made a decent appearance north of the mountain. 'bout bloody time too. where ya bin all this time?? sweet jesus. i watched my friends fight while claire and i spoke in shrill voices about the weather and the children, ducking the peanuts which swiftly followed the "well fuck you!" i watched the full moon rise tonight from behind the crooked branches of the old acacia. a lazy blood red moon, briefly hooked like a balloon in its branches. so fat. so round. so red. so congruently auspicious.

i imagine i smell rain far away. scenting the dust wind ever so slightly.
ever so slightly.
My New Presents Board: Sunday Night: early october 09.

nothing quite like surprise prezzies, eh? and oh such beautiful ones. from beautiful friends. a bag made from old patched up lamu dhow sails (note rope), carefully handstitched. hand painted with LOVE. casually slung over present number 2: a hand sewn little leather jacket which smells like a new car and fits like it could've only been meant for me....oh. oh. oh my. how lucky am i?
toodely, oh bestest beloveds, bisous X.X.X. slow full red moon ones x j.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

firecracker .....

life on the hill is brittle right now.

as in dry dry dry. snappy.

as in my lips are constantly chapped. peely.

as in constant crackliness.

as in alarming growth rate in crows feet around my eyes.
as in don't be careless with fire.

droughts are just not funny. not in the teeniest littlest way.
droughts are unemotional haunting unamused unselective skeletal killers.
armies of skeletons ridin' black hosses 'cross the plains.
i don't want to be a weather bore ( or a children bore or a horse bore or a plain bore.)
swifly moving on.

i had to go to a funeral today. to gisella's funeral. she was legendary. she left war torn germany when she was 16. she met and married her first husband, a dashing handsome mauritian who immediately whisked her out to a wild and wooly lake rukwa in tanganyika where he hunted crocodiles for their skins. she told me once that he would spend all the money on fast sports cars then crash them en route to dar es salaam. she had three husbands and five children and thought nothing of letting children eat more chocolate than you can shake a stick at BEFORE lunch. i am not very good at funerals. i don't like them and they always make me feel sad. this time i was fine, until i went to throw roses into her grave and i saw her childrens broken faces. . . it's horrible saying good bye to your mother. horrible.

i can't remember his name. but there is a lovely man who lives down in the valley below. he has lived in london and new york and run restaurants in the capital of israel and probably in the capital of france too. his grandfather fought the nazis (for the russians) and was in a POW camp, (probably auschwitz) and drank vodka everyday. after the ordeal, of course. he recounted these tales over a few espressos at my favourite coffee shop in town, misumbi coffee shop (best coffee served on the planet, by the way) five cigarettes later he said he couldn't understand how anyone here could say they were stressed. or that they were busy. he says we don't know the meaning of stress. for him apparently it's like being on holiday all the time. he is in The Security Business. And Israeli. i'm just sayin'.

he paid for my espressos. which i thought terribly kind.

but honestly it is. stressy and BUSY. and well, full. to the brim. to the edge. to where you're either going to burst into cracks and love. or catch on fire. i have resorted to stiff vodkas and orange most evenings.

although not tonight. not tonight. i am tired and sad. and the vodka is finished. so that's the end of that little problem.

school is intense. teaching is like being on stage for 7 hours a day. but without feather boas, diamonds, fuschia lipsticks and dressing room light bulb framed mirrors. but you do get to meet people like say, PK, who can't string (as in write) a sentence together but is the smartest kid on the block. he draws The Periodic Table during library time sayin' " gaad, this is goin' to take me aaaages to finish....shoooo."
he said This the other day:

" i live to kayak. if i can't kayak i shall rip my heart from my chest and feed it, feed it to the wolves which roam around my house..."
there aren't any wolves. as far as i know. keep kayakin' darlin', i say. for godsakes. he lives down the road. there are striped hyena, though. you usually see them as road kills on the way down to mohammeds. pk ain't no ninkanpoop. no siree.

i take to the saddle most afternoons and of late, walk to the tippy top of the hill every evening; just as the electricity predictably blinks off (yes. as darkness falls someone turns all the lights off in tanzania.) and the sun lazily sinks behind monduli mountains. the dogs leap and dance around me. rootin' around in the undergrowth. i march. the wind whistling in my ears, my hair whipping my face. i march with music in my ears right until the top. and my. how the world lies flung wildly below me, taking my breath with it. there are always surprises at the top. usually there is at least one augur buzzard or a lannar falcon, slicing the last winds of the day. but yesterday, with js bach and M83 dominating my world, there, high above me, lazily floating on the sky currents was a PELICAN. yes. a PELICAN. he was obviously looking for greener pastures. they're hard to come by these days. i think he'll find that the grass is as brown and tinder dry this side too.

i spied a shooting star monday night. not just any old one. a HUGE blazing ball of light hurling its way across the crest of the ngorobobs - bravely fat, pulling a raging tail of red and green brimstone behind it. of course i made a wish.


sometimes things just sidewind you.

Kitchen Board: windy friday night: late september longing for rain 09.

there is something that i will never ever be able to do gracefully.

carve a roast chicken. i fervently maul 'em.

just thought i'd share that with y'all.

toodely pippety ole toot, oh bestests, bis X.X.X. sad lingering ones x j


Friday, September 11, 2009

flyin' high...

this is not the sort of thing you like to read in an aeroplane when you're about to do a lollypop flight in a cessna caravan around the highest single standing mountain in the world. i mean, little aeroplanes and tallest mountains aren't two things which should go together. usually. and if they are going to meet, then surely external position data should be, well, at least Valid?
it was a relief when the propellers starting spinning that the invalid thingymajig blinked off and other little obviously relevant signs flashed up.

first born turned 13 today. he is an official teenager. his present was a flight around kilimanjaro. what happened to a fishing rod, a jar of tadpoles and pass the parcel, one might ask? anyway. i never say no to any flights of any sorts. he was allowed to invite five pals along.

i know what you're thinking. i thought it too. imagine if this plane flies into the mountain? it'd be all of us gone in a flash. and everyone else's kids too. i repeated my hail marys on take off. i always do. i've even been known to clap on landing. along with all the indians and italians. and my kids sitting with their heads inside my handbag.

it was perfect flying weather. a dreamy indian summer afternoon. l, the little french pilot demonstrated how to use the oxygen masks. we were going to be that high. in a very little plane. d the other pilot said that if he spoke french and l started speaking afrikaans, i would know they were short on oxygen. jeez. jokes all 'round. rah rah. chortle chortle.
(the big looming blob on the LHS of the screen is mt kilimanjaro and the little blob near the plane is mt meru. again. not a little mountain. it looks awfully close, don't you think?)

away we soared up and up and up and up and bloody up. i had my ipod firmly plugged in. always good to die with music in your ears. and even better, to live with music in your ears. and up we went until there, just above the clouds we spied her peak. kilimanjaro.
everyone had oxygen masks on at this point. everyone was all eyes and breath. we were close so close. and so high. our little plane looked so brave on the gps map. so brave and so little. as we edged closer. and closer. and higher.
until we reached so high my ipod froze and refused to didn't matter.
what lay below me, next to me, what seemed a breath away from me, was more than enough. and i can tell you, there really really isn't much snow left on the top of kilimanjaro, people. the glaciers lie shattered and wrecked yet enormous and old and magnificent. the desert is dark, foreboding and unforgiving. i will never climb that mountain.

and there we are. slap bang on top of the mountain. brave, little and flyin' high....
not a bad friday arvie, eh? i'm sure i wouldn't forget turning 13 if was danu pops. no. i'm sure i wouldn't.
the kilimanjaro winds rattle my windows tonight, the ngorobob hill small. and flying dreams shall surely take me tonight. surely.
toodely old pip, y'all. bisous X.X.X. flyin' ones x j

Sunday, September 6, 2009

cowgirl dreamin'

you know it's been a good week-end when sunday night rolls in and your finger tips have tough little callouses from steel guitar strings and the top left hand corner of your right hand thumb nail has a black smudge from strummin'. your legs have a deliciously tired ache from ridin' hosses and your voice is a little whispery from too much singin', talkin', smokin' and tequilla. yeah. i guess it's been a good week-end.

the socks ruffled 'round my ankles need a hasty pulling up to my knees, ready for monday.

friday night: "Parents Welcome Evening" chez ecole. i dress in black and paint my lips bright red, scaring my kids and anyone else i zoom in to kiss. i left a trail of bright red lip marks on random cheeks. (i wasn't kissing parents, you understand) parents diligently sought me out though, already wanting a low down after only one wobbly week of teaching their little darlings. i mean, what can one say after one week? not much. oh yes. he could be a genius but then again, maybe not. maybe not. i stuck by the rules and stayed off the hooch. i drank one red bull to keep me awake and smoked one cigarette behind the bougainvillea bush.

the moon rose and i left for band practice at tom's fruit factory, bouncing down rutted roads in the old land rover, carefully circumnavigating wee hedgehogs scuttling across my tracks, under the rudely beautiful light of the bald moon, my guitar propped up next to me in the passenger seat and me thinking unusually wild and windy thoughts. i love driving at night down sandy tracks when the moon is out, my window open and the smell of grass and dust and night.
the fruit factory isn't what you think it is. peaches and pears perfectly created by machines and robots. oh no. it's a little quaint building in the middle of a fever tree forest twinkling with stars and the rippling calls of nightjars, where tom and india dry fruit in nifty wooden boxes. the room smells of apricots and summer. we've renamed the band Side B. well. things have changed, haven't they? i drove home late, when the music was done, the moon was low in the west and my mind a hummin' hive of bees, notes, scribbled words and peelings of love.

saturday night: the gig. at a private house, which had twinkly lights strung over acacias, a fire blazing on the lawn, a bar heavy with hooch and a crowd wide eyed and expectant. a glossy magazine party. last night i was, naturally, terrified but swiftly remedied this with gulps of fine tequila. it's always worked for me. firewater. i sang my heart out and even ventured to lift my eyes and smile. i couldn't hear a blasted thing. the monitor decided to be a bastard and not work. heaven knows what we sounded like....i have a vague recollection of the road home. through the karongo. where one dark night i am sure the banditos will be waiting.

sunday past below me in a cloud of dust whilst i cosied up with my writing pal in her little stilted tented abode, nestled underneath the western slopes of mt meru with gobsmacking views across maasailand, sipping minted vodkas, idly watching auger buzzards hanging on the wind and putting the world to right. fiercely and truly. n stringing together clever little analogies of love and shopping: window shopping and walking on, or actually going in to look and try and then, ouf, if the shoe fits then, well, you can buy them or balk at the price, hand them back and swiftly walk on down the road without looking back. she raised her pretty eyebrow and said, "everything has a price, you know." my eyes became round and owl like and i was quiet for a little while.

she's off to paris next week.

and this cowgal's off to bed. with the wind rattling the tin roof and the moon sadly and sweetly framed in her attic window...

even cowgirls get the blues. sometimes. even cowgirls.
Kitchen Board: Sunday Night: early september. 09.

see ya 'round like rissoles.
toodely ole toot, y'all. bisous X.X.X. luscious red lipped ones, x. j

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

fishy. . .

(a pam ghurs carr painting)

life in the wee pink house has become regimented. shockingly regimented. yes. that's it. i think i am in shock.

school has started.

i now wake up at the ungodly hour of six thirty. and then sort of shock myself into a levitated position, about a meter above my bed, before i stumble out the net, mumbling all sorts of curses. narrowly missing stomping my toe against the stairs. and throw on pin stripes and pearls. with my takkies. as my brain audiably chugs into life, throwing out a million things to remember at once. along with a pretty tendril of smoke from an ear or two.

not good. not good.

i have been neglecting my daily little gratitude ritual. which goes like this:

open eyes to a soft dove grey light. a blurry light. i am awake. i think. yes. i am. i lie still, not moving a muscle. a lash. sometimes i curl over to my right and find my little silk piece of silver satin, smooth as water (called a lala. don't ask.) which i rub against my cheek. i throw a hand over the edge of the bed and blindly feel for my phone, knocking yesterdays earrings into the cracks of the floor and try and focus on the time. this can take a while. reading the time.
after messily staggering off the bed i fall through the mosquito net. i stare out of the window, look longingly at the mountains and southwards over the maasai steppes. i pointedly ignore the factory, appreciate the skies and the tiny deep red desert rose below my window. in a wee while i start remembering all the things for which i am deeply thankful. the list grows as i go along. and grows. uncurling itself like a sun warmed snake. so by the time i carefully and lightly wind my way down the spiral stair case, i feel well, like an incredibly lucky, lucky, lucky little fish.

this is a good feeling. and i want it back.

something is up in Bloggy World tonight. the font is cunningly and ever so slightly not the same. i don't seem to be able to see the posted picture. it appears as lines of secret printed codes. bold and italics are being tricky little upstarts and refuse to do what they are asked to do.

it's all a little odd. do you think wordpress has sent little gobbling aliens?

in which case, i shan't be posting the kitchen board.

so you won't know, oh bestest beloveds, that we need:

de worming dawa for the dogs
to fix the bearcroft gate post
to mend the fence on the upper paddock
to mend the gate to the schooling arena.

and other such rivotting things.

i hope the handsome blogger fix it man has his spanners out and is wearing a crisp navy blue overall rounded off with squeaky clean gumboots. and a shiny silver space age gun to detonate any wordpress invaders. i sure hope it's him doing some maintenance to our sparkly spinning blogging planet and its not our tanzanian network - which i am now convinced consists of an intricate web of fish line and tins. . .

this could get complicated.

even for an ever so lucky fish like me.

toodely ole toot, y'all...bisous X.X.X. fishy ones. on ya nose. x j

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

on having all your cake. and the trimmings.

" have one's cake and eat it too or simply have one's cake and eat it (sometimes eat one's cake and have it too) is the instance of an individual consuming, exhausting, taking advantage of or using up a particular thing and, then, after that thing is gone or no longer reasonably available, still attempting to benefit from or use it. It may also indicate having or wanting more than one can handle or deserve, or trying to have two incompatible things. It is a popular English idiomatic proverb or figure of speech and is most often used negatively. The proverb's meaning is similar to the phrases, "you can't have it both ways" and "you can't have the best of both worlds."..." wikipedia

golly. what a conundrum, eh? i can tell you that niamh happily had and ate all her cake. jake didn't get anything. not even a crumb.

these days i have a nagging sunday evening going back to boarding school feeling. only a few more days of lush free time before it's back to the chalk board. white board whatever. honestly. i love what i do. but oh the gruelling routine. the tired mornings. getting everyone out the door. strategic military planning. being the cheerleader. rauss rauss. the rigours of the clock...ticking. can't be late...why not, i say? wtf not?

the kind of life we've been leading has been more on the dreamy side...wake up whenever, pancakes and wild honey for breakers over lazy cups of coffee, a late mid morning ride, idle shopping, nattering with buddies at msumbi coffee shop, wild and woolie safaris to where the wild things are, time to simply stare out the window.

be warned: i hate these sort of rebukes to any of my laments:

well. everybody has to work. hmmm. nope. not true. there are a few filthy rich bastards out there who have never had to lift a finger. who don't know the meaning of work. i'm not saying it's a good thing. but WHO said it?

well. you can't have your cake and eat it too, you know. again. who says?

everything has a price. there are lots of fish in the sea. maybe. but who wants an eel which bites? tell me. who? let's be particular, shall we?

you can't always get what you want.

bollox, i say. utter bollox.
it's yours for the taking, said george's dad as he rode out to slay the dragon.
i reckon you can have your cake and eat all of it. and the cherry on top along with the perfectly iced complicatedly clad christmas fairy on the top of the tree. snap that little sugar sparklin' halo off. yum.

i always eat the trimmings - the little perfectly carved radishes, the tomatoes carved into flowers, carrots like chinese fans, the little forests of parsely clinging to snowy mountains of mashed potatoes, the zenned out spring onions, the zig zag drizzle of chocolate sauce prettily decorating the edge, chocolate leaves, cherries.

one has to be careful these days, though. some restaurants use Plastic decorations. is this only a tanzanian thing or does this happen anywhere else in the world? i bet it happens in china. i bet you.

which reminds me there is a chocolate cake in the kitchen waiting to be eaten. i shall fight the children fiercely for it until it's entirely mine. and i shall eat it. all. eventually.

i once saw a vast sun yellow canvas slashed with red and violet, with a sort of red riding hood wolf theme....and written underneath in black wobbly writing was:

" i'm not your mother. i'm the big bad wolf."

Kitchen Board: Thursday Night: End of August and All Things Unhampered by Time.

watch this board fill up once school starts. watch this space.

oh i am sad the holidays are finished.

so toodely toot, y'all, bisous X.X.X. wistful polaroidy ones x j

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


the pink house is bulging at the seams. from all sorts of things. let's not talk about the termites just yet. bulging mostly from the hill children. everyone from the hill is here, except for niamh and oscar, because they went on a long road trip with their ma and pa. like a really really long one. all the way to south africa, via namibia. they're still driving, i guess. lara isn't here. because, well, she is still too little.

the line up: gabby clingy beetle doria (5) jasper (5) finley titan bell (3) daniel (12) rubin (10).
so it's been like hectic, my chinas. but wildly wonderfully this is life at its best (almost) hectic. i like a sprinkling, ok a summer storm, of chaos around me. i really do. it allows me to be messy too. but i'm an organized messy person. i know where my shit is in the pile. i mean at least i know where my pile is. unlike FIVE OTHER PEOPLE I KNOW AROUND THESE PARTS. like have i ever "lost" my shoes? ever? at least daniel is the same shoe size now. he "lost" my shoes. Wtf?
i like edgy. i feel particularly edgy tonight. i'm taking this as a good thing. obviously.

my friend sue said as we get older we should "go edgy". she was muttering on about styling her hair pixie style. she said my new frenchy tango high heels shoes were edgy. my new "retro" coat (present), sporting only three enormous moon white buttons (and perfectly placed darts), is also "edgy" i'll have you know. but you see, tonight, i would describe the kids bathroom as most definitely edgy. way edgy. like way over the edge.

as i said. i like edgy.
i walked out to start the generator. no tanesco tonight. but hey, what's new? i walked out into a brisk mercurial evening. all round. inside and out. my nose felt cold. a small plane flew over the hills. i knew it came from far away. you could just tell. and it was way late. it looked so brave against the dark, cold we shall be forced to camp sky. it's headlights shining bright. unwavering. coming home.

i thought, as the little plane droned hurriedly towards its descent and landing, in the dark,
"edgy. way edgy."

Kitchen Board: Wednesday Night: 19 august 9 (i think) 2009.
the board was empty tonight. completely. but i found this old image from a few weeks ago so i reckoned it was better than nothing. or a blank board, i reckon.
i think i did the stars. or maybe not.
toodely old toot y'all..bisous X.X.X. dark chocolate an' cherry ones... x j

Saturday, August 15, 2009


a week-end looms. and i feel oddly blue.

maybe i have a case of the PPD's (post piss up depression)? or let's nip it in the bud right here. bah.

our crazy little band of hill dwellers had a haphazard tent warming get together last night, for my spaghetti thin riding buddy, tati. it wasn't planned or anything. there were four of us and five wild children. and a sky full of stars and um, three bottles of champagne and a bottle of wine. and a general feeling of instability surrounding the small bowl of radishes, carrots and feta cheese. there was a vague consensus that the planets must be cartwheeling or something. although i've been told that that was ages ago. still. maybe things take longer to catch up here. oh who knows.

the wild things played sardines. finley (4) drank someone's entire mug of champagne. the wild things had piggy back races over an obstacle course around the tent (and the paraffin lamps) while we drank more and danced and laughed more. we made enough noise for at least sixty people. this was good. and spoke of frivolous things. well. damian and paul tried to talk about serious things like buildings and architecture and politics. i broke that up fast. we decided the factory lights looked like fallen stars and that i was flushed with love, life and all things good. i can assure you, oh bestest beloveds, this morning it's as drab as anything.
and i can hear my heart rattling in my bone brittle skeleton.

godsakes. so. in order to chase the lurking black dog i have murkily decided to pluck us hence from these grey hills and head to the club where apparently there is a seven a side rugby afternoon going on....last time we went to watch the cricket. when the batting team lost their temper and refused to carry on with play. it was delightfully shocking and eye brow raising bad sportsmanship. i was desperately wanting a punch up, after the caught batsman threw down his bat and cursed the umpire in excellent swahili. but no. everyone managed to keep it together. buggar. anyway. yes. this grey cold afternoon. yes. the wild things can romp around the field and i shall attempt to make a single solid connection with at least one person. instead of staring out to the distant horizon with a head full of floaty notions.

this sense of terrible discombobulation is well, terrible. terribly lovely. terribly unsettling. terribly devastating. beautifully and dangerously ungrounded. dis-connection moving into something separate and surreal. it's like someone just cut my string and i am a loose kite. a free kite.

and the unpredictable wind's picking up....whoa. . .

Kitchen Board: a blustery grey cold saturday afternoon, 15 august 2009: 14:18HRS and counting.

will grab milo and fatty milk from mohammeds. small fish are coming from kisongo. . .
toodely oh toodely, bestests. bisous X.X.X soft icy ones on a warm neck. x j

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

natron thoughts...

we have recently returned from where the wild things are. well. actually, aren't. or not very many of them at any rate. we have been to wide open spaces - where dreams are richer and deeper, where you have space and time to dwell unconsciously on Random Things, ponder by accident on Important (or unimportant depending on who you are)Things, trip over surprising Heart Things, think marvelously about Any Things. and there are fresh spaces in between your thoughts, where the horizons are so wide.

where you feel very little and small in many ways.
we have been to a flat wild windy fiercely hot place called lake natron. where the wind tears at your hair and the dust crowds your eyes. (unless you were wearing a pair of superb dust goggles and a dashing scarf).

and you wish you had wings. your body feels so heavy you could leave it behind in a flash. you could do or be anything out there. anything.
lake natron is a flat soda lake, where the flamingos stain faded pink ink veins across a two tone sepia landscape. dominating the sky line is oldonyo lengai, an active volcano....with a great rugged rocky heart emblazoned on her chest. the land is flat and dusty and layered in ash and not much grass, scattered with bovine skeletons. only the dogs are fat, from feasting on dead herds. everything is shockingly stark. so close to nothing.

people. we have so much of everything.
when you stand out there, you're not sure where the earth ends and the sky begins. you're not sure where you begin or end.

we struck camp under a few fig trees next to the only river for hundreds of miles. my hatred for camping dissipated as fast as the river which tumbled startlingly with a determined fury to get to the end. we slowly picked our way up a black volcanic gorge to marvel at the water tumbling with breath stealing force down hundreds of feet, stinging our backs and heads. the wind howled around the corners, snatched hats and spat them into the river. and if you looked up to the top of the cliffs, your feet became itchy underneath and your tummy swirled giddy with vertigo. like when i used to climb the roof when i was little. when i wasn't allowed to.

everything is magnetic. it was well, perfectly dreamy. until carlos thought he had swallowed his tooth. it was definitely missing. something has to give in such a sacred place. it turns out carlos never swallowed his tooth. the water fall did. thank christ it wasn't mine.

in the late afternoons, we drove down to the lake shore, dust goggles donned, scarves flying, twisting with the dust devils spiralling around us. we drank warm melon juice and vodka after the sun had dipped and the world shone like mercury.

the lake shrouded itself in silver mirage scarves tasseled pink with flamingos. carlos flew his kite and displayed an enviable patience and tolerance in teaching everyone how to fly the bloody thing. well. he did work for Green Peace for a long time, you know.

of course, i was best. at kite flying and impressed everyone with my staying power. in that i was the only person whom we were sure the wind couldn't actually lift and carry away over the flat white shadowless soda earth to Never Never Land. which crackled and snapped under our bare feet.

in the dead white heat of day, we flaked out under the dappled purple shade of the fig trees, listening to the roar of the river, the distant bells of the maasai cattle as they stumbled over the volcanic rocks from the dusty bald ashened hills. and the kids fighting over a game of cheat or the hammock. until i smacked one on the leg. "ow. that hurt". and me immediately overcome with shame but still said, "it meant to hurt." and immediately felt like The Most Worstest Mother On The Entire Blinking Twinkling Baking Planet.

but, it must be said, the world went back to tinkling cow bells lingering on heat waves and a head full of enchanting thoughts and sleep. . . . .

Kitchen Board: Wednesday August The 12th 2009
kitchen board schmitchen board...

you don't need one when you have a kitchen like this....

all you need is love love love and bananas. red ones. they're waiting for ya....
toodely pip, y'all and bisous X.X.X. rollin' tumbleweed ones x j

ps: just in case you're thinking.... it's always delicious to be back home on the hill, in the little pink house perched on the ngorobob hill, in my own bed, with a window full of stars. . .