Wednesday, January 28, 2009

mind you....

gosh you're a prolific lot, aren't you? churning out post after delicious post....and i stare and stare at the same old same old....

i have considered stopping blogging...gasp gasp...miranda and i chatted about it over a coffee the other day. but here i seems this isn't going to happen just yet.

these days, i spend more time searching the web for crits on poetry than blogging ...(jane eyre is buttoned up..have FILE loads of the stuff). last night i was researching a poet called kevin halligan who wrote a poem called The Cockroach...where he watches a cockroach scuttling mindlessly around his kitchen...(although it seems he thinks it scuttles around with something in its mind) and draws the conclusion that perhaps it's not too dissimilar to him....the cockroach that is.

i mean, isn't poetry a one? how the fuck do we actually know WHAT the poet had in his mind? or the cockroach, come to think of it. we can allude. that's all. anyway - there really isn't much on old kevin, it must be said. but i found a wikipedia site ( - and there were a few lines which read:

Hi Samantha. I am the ex of John Kevin Halligan whom he dumped and left with his baby seven years ago in Cambodia. I like to think his poem 'The Cockroach' is partly autobiographical since I now live in a third world country as a single mother of a young daughter and Halligan does not feel compelled to pay child support. If you succeed in getting in contact with him, could you ask him to at least email us? Thanks.

i am taking this line. bastard. doom is what this cockroach needs. doom is what my cockroaches get.

safari craig has returned. jet lagged. he sent me an email before his return: i have bought you a present which you are going to LOVE.

the thing is, when he says things like this, i have absolutely NO idea what he has in mind. after all these years you would think that i might be able to guess. it could have been a number of things...leopard print chuppies, a sex toy, a pen, a calculator, some jodphurs, cowboy boots...but this time it was a BRAND NEW LAP TOP!!!!! my very own. my first very very own lap i am extremely blissed out over this. and shall jealously guard it from other people's fingers...

whoops. time to rush off to school and deal with Economy. one of my students. who happens to be the most uneconomical person you have ever met in your life. i caught him sleeping behind a shelf in the library yesterday when he should have been in my ESL asleep. what was he thinking???

Kitchen Board: Thursday 29 Jan 2009

Contributors: Eliza and Janelle

Comments: veronica is helping eliza with her english...and at the same time with my swahili. and it still hasn't rained. the clouds are lurking around. in the afternoons, there is the odd roll of distant thunder and then pouf! it all goes away....torturous.

toodely pip, you. bisous, genuine sweet thursday morning ones, stolen. xxx j

Friday, January 23, 2009

self portrait...

(pic by safari craig taken at olduvai gorge.)

once not too many years ago, i decided i would like to paint. actually. it was just after we had moved from zambia to tanzania. and i was sitting in this little cottage we had rented (which had a ghost in it), perched on the edge of a dark motionless volcanic lake, called lake duluti, which definitely had monsters living in it and a woman spirit which ate small boys. and many other strange things...not exactly a live happy kind of lake. it was dark grey green and still. and VERY deep. i was told the germans threw a heap of guns and bombs in it so that the english wouldn't get their hands on them....safari craig had gone on, um, a safari and there i sat. with How To Speak Swahili hanging limply in my hands, thinking vaguely of somali shiftas and of friends far away.

and i was as sad as a sad person could be.

i became tired of being sad after while; slightly bored of staring southwards over the maasai steppes, imagining zambia just over the horizon. slightly bored of this empty sad feeling. so i rummaged around on the book shelf and found a book called The Artists Way by Julia Cameron...all about unblocking the creative self. i had done the course about three times already and always stopped at chapter 7, feeling marginally creatively unblocked.

ANYWAY. julia cameron coaches you through all the ego psycho write your morning pages religiously every morning. three A four pages...of can write shitshitshitshitshitshitshit all the way if that's all you have to say. actually. it's quite extraordinary, because after about a week you will find you are like an onion being peeled because you end up writing shitshitshitshitshit i saw the moon last night..or something to that effect. so there i was unblocking myself...and i arrived at a section where you have to choose something you would like to do...make a list. so i chose:



artist (as in painting)

tractor driver (kidding)

barbel fisherman (jesus)

and can;t remember the rest.

once you have made your list you turn over the page to see what's next. and she says, gasp gasp, "right. now choose one of those and BE it...." fuck. are you serious? so i chose artist. she warns you about your ego voice saying, "god you are ridiculous. you can;t paint to save your life! hilarious! anyway. you don;t have paints or brushes or anything. you're way too old. just stop all this nonsense and get on with what needs to be done, like, um, lose some weight, stop smoking, be a better mother, wife, person, blah blah blah."

so knowing this voice i turned around and said shut up, found a piece of ceiling board, went out and bought some cheap chinese oils (the only ones available) a range of cheap chinese paint brushes, put the kids to bed, put on beethoven and sat down to paint. and paint and paint and paint and paint. i started at 8 in the evening and finished at 3:30 in the morning. i had painted this:

i have no idea where this image came from. i had literally sat there and painted it from my head...when i had finished it, i called it "Little Black Sambo's Last Stand". do you know the story of little black sambo? it was written in the 19th century..about a little indian boy whose dad buys him smart clothes and the tigers take them from him. then argue with each other about who is the finest tiger in all the jungle. the chase each other round and round a palm tree (not noticing little black sambo taking all his clothes back) until they melt into butter... little black sambo's mum makes pancakes out of them, and little black sambo ate 67 pancakes in total. the end. this painting is what happens is the tiger waiting for him....the one that got away.... the one that managed NOT to melt into butter... little black sambo is about to walk around the corner.... what a surprise he will get.... but i hadn't thought about this while i painted. only afterwards....anyway. i was amazed i had painted a picture... so i thought, hey i like this...and decided to paint a self portrait. so i sat one evening, staring at myself side ways in a mirror and trying to paint myself...i was completely pleased by the result and called safari craig.

he sleepily looked at it (because it was late by the time i had finished and my neck was a bit sore from looking at my reflection sideways for a long time) and he said," oh. is that michael jackson?"
the next morning, one of the kids walked over it by mistake....
here is the painting.

adrian told me afterwards that it's only the great masters who dare to paint their self portraits, actually.
and that, oh best beloveds, as far as i can recall, was the end of my painting career.
and, the end of chapter 7.

Kitchen Board: Saturday Morning: 24 Jan 2009
Contributors: Veronica and Janelle
Comments: on it. on it, you see?
jane eyre is such a goodie goodie two shoes, don't you think? how she resisted mr rochester the first time, is quite beyond me.
toooooooodely old pip, you. bisous, hot hot hot ones. xxx j
ps: still no rain. it's not funny anymore....

Sunday, January 18, 2009


dedicated to reya: (not because she's an airhead, you understand...) because of the genre of the photograph...duh.

Oh Rain Wizards! at present i am weather obsessed, as it turns out....this comes from being a farmer's daughter.

yes! you are indeed Rain Wizards. we have had a teeny weeny sprinkling of rain...(like 5 mls in total - although today is burning white again and my eyes scan the mountain tops searching for cloud build up...) so don't stop whatever it is you are doing. of course, you are entirely responsible for this latest change in weather. nothing at all to do with moon phases or the fact that a low pressure drifted past or the time of year or anything like that. i know it. it all happens out on the blogosphere. let's not underestimate the power of thought and intention. i simply KNOW that you have been dancing those rain dances continuously since we last spoke. that my weather predicament is completely central to your radar screen... and that you are totally responsible for this latest sprinkle...yes. perhaps, there might be a low pressure passing through, but only because you've wished it so.

whoever believed the weather man anyway?

loons. the lot of them.

Kitchen Board: Sunday Night: 18 January 2009:

Contributors: Veronica, and Danu P (sneaky!)... just say no to nintendo DS whatevers...NO!

Comments: another Big Shopping Day . oh and BREAKING NEWS: i have been asked by Very Clever People At School to teach an A Level Literature course...ME? me? are you SURE? apparently they are. they said, of course! you've read Jane Eyre, haven't you? me (nodding head way too vigorously, which should've alerted them immediately: oh yes yes! (actually NOT is the case) hence the reason a cop out blog tonight because i make haste back to charlotte bronte's extraordinary book which, by the by, i am loving and adoring. i mean, these days, no-one uses expressions like "i was loaded with general opprobrium" and sweet phrases like "she blunderingly confessed" and "The sleepers were all aroused: ejaculations, terrified murmurs sounded in every room..." and "ladies keep off or I shall wax dangerous..."

alas. i must make haste while the night lasts. monday looms and i'm only half way through. page 206 to be exact. aiming for page 447 before dawn. do you think i'll make it? it's a fat book with the minutist tiniest print you have ever seen. away with me. i must desist from this constant confabulation....

so toodely pip, oh best beloveds, bisous - slightly rain fragranced ones xxx j

and keep up the rain dances please. thanks ever so much. x

ps: it's the next day. and i never made it to page 447, damnit....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ngorobob ramblings.

i have just been sitting outside.
in the dark.
with four dogs. three cats. and six horses.
because the electricity went off.
under a sky packed tight with stars....not a breath of wind.
at least.
which normally would please me more than you could imagine.
but right now, it only heralds another hair dryer hot day tommorrow..
the air has a pink tinge from all the dust.

i walked around my "garden" this evening. actually "my" garden. oh whatever. you get the point.

i am not known as janelle green fingers for nothing.
the lawn is taking this all really badly. personally, i suspect. you know, the weather and all.
the only survivors are, unsurprisingly, the aloes and the whistling thorns.

my zanzibar jasmine and tiny pink climbing rose are deformed. (as well as completely exotic, neurotic and non PC) deformed not entirely from the weather. they aren't exactly suited to saharian conditions. or to my lavish attention. which is rare. or, more to the bloody point, being constantly slammed by a foot ball. i too would be stunted. in fact, i AM stunted. ah no, stun--, ooergh, stumped. yes that's it. stumped.

the acacia are rudely bursting out with yellow poms poms. it's disgraceful.

none of this floral flourish has anything remotely to do with me. obviously.

did you know that if you shake those fat bulbs on the whistling thorn a myriad of biting ants swarms out of the holes? and when the wind blows, it makes a whistling noise?
never heard it myself, if must be said. and i'm not known as Jan The Bush Girl for nothing, you know.

but i've seen the ants.

oh yes.i almost forgot to tell you. about The Main Reason, oh best beloveds, i have been too busy to blog.
of course i've been riding under the full moon this week. like i said i would.
for two nights in a row. in fact.

the first night was very elegant and planned. dressed in flowing white on a white horse. jingling silver, twisting moon beams.
and sober. and proper. and you know, It.

the next night i was in black, touting spanish leather boots. bareback. on a spotty horse. and sometimes hardly on a spotty horse. and a lot of the time half way down a spotty horse. but oh how we laughed. and felt like kings. of ngorobob. rather.
and, hic, high.
as the moon.

in fact, these days, it's the best time to be out and about the ngorobobs.

quite the best time.

Kitchen Board: Wednesday: 14 Jan 09

Contributors: janelle and veronica

Comments: please could someone fedex or dhl or hit their juju buttons, or Do Something ferchristssakes and send some rain. pronto. otherwise i will be this stunned: I
and from next week on, No More Nutella. only locally produced peanut butter. just say No to nutella. it's getting ridiculous.

oh toodely pip lovely you. and bisous, prickly ones. ow. xxx j

Saturday, January 10, 2009

i will survive...

safari craig has left for america. for an entire sixteen days.

and the house is quiet. and there is a large gaping gap. and we're all pretending we aren't sad.

and it's sunday. another hot hot white day, no rain in sight; heat, flies and dust. the heat is relentless. the land is brown, crackly and dry. baked.

and the children are addicted to pokamon cards.

sundays are never usually my favourite day anyway. because mondays the next. but in this case it would've been The Best Sunday Ever, because tommorrow is another public holiday. zanzibar revolution day. when the african shirazi party (ASP) drove the arabs (zanzibar national party ZNP) into the sea, literally, in the early 1960's. another little genocide in africa. an ethnic cleansing. another interesting political historic story. a revolution, i am lead to believe, encouraged by the departing colonials. but i suspect they didn't think it would turn out quite so badly. beautiful unguja beaches and seas, littered with floating bodies. another shameful colonial blip.

safari craig is apparently headed into a Deep Freeze. not the kind you have in your kitchen. the kind which freezes everything around you. i know he isn't prepared for it.

so instead of sitting mournfully on the hill, we shall go swimming. we shall eat pizzas. and come back later when the sun is setting and the moon is rising and the hot whiteness has dipped below the western hills.

and i shall ride my horse under the full moon.

and then its only fifteen days left...

the house is so quiet.

Kitchen Board: White Hot Sunday Morning:

Contributors: Veronica

Comments: i have heard there is a cyclone off dar es salaam....maybe it will rain soon.

toodely pip then. and bisous, sad good bye j

Thursday, January 8, 2009

we need to do more of this....

and this

and this

and this

and this

and and and this

and this

into the wild....

i happily gave all my words away already tonight.

it has taken hours and hours to upload these pictures. i mean, Hours. kitchen board can bloody well wait, ok?

i am sitting over my desk, like The Hunchback From Notredamme (The Paw Paw Stealer - LIKE MY DAD ALWAYS SAYS...not me) drooling into a glass of wine; because this has taken so long i am now not far from being completely sozzled, and on the verge of becoming dangerously sentimental....

so then. toooooooooooodely old pip, You. bisous xxx - hot dry half moon summer night ones when everything is crackly x j

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

joining the dots...

oh i forgot to tell you. guess who i saw on the beach in december? you'll never guess. in her famous blue dressing gown? the queen! on pangani beach. saluting me. with her african corgi. we had a corgi when we were little, growing up in choma, called mango. he died by jumping out of our fast moving peugeot 404 (the one with the pointy lights). he looked more proper than this queen's pangani corgi. we buried him amongst the tobacco. and it made us extemely sad, if i rightly recall...

we were sailing off to maziwi sand island early one morning. and i turned around and there she was. beautiful, wonderfully funny, elegant gill. but she was standing just like the queen, i thought. on an early pangani morning with her guard. here she is laughing.

and i never told you about yves. dear yves. who fell in love with gabriella. he's 60 something. she's 5. he grew up in madagascar then travelled the world. and lived in places like yemen, istanbul, mombasa and now paris. his wife left him because, as he said " zut alors, she just couldn't get used to my geepsee life..." he loves chilli. just like me. he likes to practise his english:

i am zare. ova zare. in zee aberdares.

he has a son called guillaume. who is an outstanding photo journalist. you should look at his pictures at (guillaume bonn) he eventually joined us at the beach. after been stranded in mauritania. then kenya airways got him to accra. stranded him again. due to "technical" problems. got him to nairobi too late to catch his connecting flight to kilimanjaro. so he flew to dar es salaam instead. next day he caught a taxi to tanga. then a motorbike to pangani. when he reached there, the ferry was no longer working. so a boat across the river. then to us. waiting for him. waiting for christmas amongst the coconut palm forests. i caught yves and guillaume sitting silently watching the still lilac sea on christmas eve.

isn't life a One eh? remember i was just telling you about my perfect dreamed up life? in last post. the one about riding across these great dusty plains - living my dream life - only interrupted by perfect movie like exchanges with maasai children....who call me janelli and mzungu. well. life has a knack to keep you on your toes. yesterday, there we were, tati, my beautiful italian crazy inspirational riding buddy, clip clopping past mr popadopalis's flower farm, mt meru towering in the east, the sun in our eyes - and there not too far ahead was a person. not a child. not an adult. a medium sized person, standing very steadfastedly in our tracks with his hand in "STOP!" position. as we approached, his "gang" of much smaller people, surrounding him, all shouted at us "wapi hela?? wapi hela?? " where's the money?! where's the money?! as we drew nearer, with sinking hearts, we saw rocks held neatly in each hand. there were about twenty herd boys. which makes about 40 small rocks. 40 small rocks ready to throw at what could only be us. on our still very calm horses. so i asked the leader what his name was. he shouted back angrily: "Kijana!" which means young person. " where are you from kijana?" i continued, calmly. " Mjini!" "Town!" he retorted, quickly followed by give me your money. well. i didn't have any. and even if i had, like hell he would've been a recipient of even one shilling. his eyes were wild. if he had had a weapon he would've undoubtedly used it. there was only one thing for it and that was to get the hell out of there and fast. so away we galloped. as we shot off we were pelted with stones and insults. all of which missed us...but hit the horses rumps...

i think i shall take another route next time. there are too many wars in the world already.

for some bizarre reason, all of this has lead me back to nick drake. and music and song dedications. i play a game called Witchy Moments. you can only play if you have an iPod. you close your eyes and you spin the dial and hit play. and whatever song plays, listen carefully to the words because they are what you need to hear.... and nick drake's song Black Eyed Dog came up.

a black eyed dog he called at my door

a black eyed dog he called for more

a black eyed dog he knew my name
a black eyed dog he knew my name

a black eyed dog

a black eyed dog

growing old and i wanna go home

growing old and i don't wanna know

growing old and i wanna go home.

and then some hellova smart guitaring.

yeah. nick drake took me racing back to the green sugar cane fields of zululand. peugeots again. my brother in law, called buzz, with the fat orange tom cat in a sack in the boot....

never take a dedication lightly.

join these dots and i'll send you a prize....

Kitchen Board: Tuesday 6 Jan 2009 - the year of shine

Special Note: so The Kitchen Board Stays, by popular vote. hoorah.

Contributors: Veronica. Janelle

Comments: fancy arrow has an eye infection. and, i have started school again...and and and....i am taking on shakespeare single handedly. and rudyard kipling. whoa.

so toooooooooooodely pip, Oh Best Beloveds, and bien sur, bisous, comme toujours, elizabethan ones, you know, queeny ones - hooah. xx j

Friday, January 2, 2009


(above pic safari craig 08)

sometimes when i ride out, or visit the mitumba (second hand clothes market) or go for a walk, people shout out "Mzungu! Mzungu!" which translated directly means "White person!" sometimes i don't mind. other times it really annoys me. it's rude. frankly, it could be insulting. there are a million other ways of greeting someone.

anyway. sometimes i answer:

" mimi sio mzungu. mimi ni mtu kama wewe, sindio?"

(i'm not a white. i am a person like you, no?)

nine times out of ten, it's greeted with thumbs up and smiles all round. and should i ever come across it the other way, i would say the same thing. it's to do with belonging. everyone wants to belong. no matter what colour, size, height.

whenever we ride out, we pass villages along the way and are always followed by a dancing excited crowd of children. the children at the bottom of the hill are my favourite. because i sort of know them. there is isaac, who is the only one brave enough to ride his donkey and ali, who is the littlest. whenever i ride past they shout out:

farasi! farasi! farasi! maneno maneno maneno! kitikaa kitikaa kitikaa!

which translated directly means horse! horse! trouble trouble trouble! and then i think kitikaa is a reference to the noise of the horses hooves. someone else said maneno in this case is a reference to a dance - a sexy gyrating of the hips...hmmmm. labda. maybe. and sometimes they call out the horses names. kifaru! kifaru! (rhino! rhino!) my horse is called rhino. he is white. he doesn't get called mzungu. i love it. because they never shout out "mzungu! mzungu!" i feel i belong somehow.

there is a village far across the plains, on the other side of oljoru, the pointy very high hill which we see south east from ngorobob hill. i love to ride out there. to trot for miles and miles across the plains, the mountains out (meru and kili) on a clear day, the wind whipping up the dust, keeping us cool. the sun on my back and my heart on a string above me. passing the lady who always shouts out "Karibu chai!" (welcome for tea!). yesterday as i was slowing down, a little boy, not more than 6, stood on the edge of his village, looking after his fat shiny goats. he shouted out " Mzungu!" so i stopped the horse, and said my line:

me: mimi sio mzungu.

him: wewe ni nini? (then what are you?)

me: mimi ni janelli. (i am janelle)

him: oh. wapi ingine? (oh. where are the others?)

and he made me laugh with delight. maybe he told his friends he met another tribe of mzungu called janelli.

or even better maybe next time i ride by he will shout out " janelli!"

thinking of ditching the kitchen board for 2009. what do you think? not sure...

well, tooooooooooodely old pip then, and bisous, toujours xxx j