Tuesday, February 24, 2009

waiting in the dark....

i'm sitting here waiting for my hair to dry.
my body aches for bed.
but GK (granny kidson or, as we fondly referred to her as, The Blue Headed Lizard) told me i would get "brein siekte" (brain sickness) if i ever went to bed with my hair wet.
i know it's all bollox. but still.
she also told me never to swim for an hour after eating or i would get cramps and drown.
and never let a cat sleep near a baby or the baby would choke on its fur and die.
(oh no. that was granny martha)
and spell chocolate and you'll get one...
what are grannies like?

so i'm sitting here waiting. waiting.
at least i have electricity tonight.
last night i sat next to a tiny candle.
with a whispering wind. a dark night and the cats on edge.
i sat. thinking. waiting for the lights to come on.
which they did.
at two thirty in the morning.
when i was fast asleep.
and everyone came on together.
in a rude blinding flash of light. while i went spastic with shock.
wicked lights.
don't you hate that?
i just couldn't be bothered to get up, stumble downstairs, trip over a cat and turn them all off.
TANESCO did it for me, five minutes later.

i really shouldn't be here you know. boring you like this.
but there isn't anything else to do.
so fuck it.
bare with me, will you? you see. this is how you lose Followers..not that i had too many of those anyway...don't leave me this way, i can't survive, she croons. i'll lead you in circles. and the road will never end. exhausting, rather.

i sat in the dark and drank whisky. not too much. only about three.
then started taking honest self portraits with my camera.
bloody awful.
but it was an interesting exercise.
staring from a distance at myself, a long nosed crone, and still thinking after 42 years, my god, do i really look like that? is that me?
how weathered.

i used to stare at myself in the mirror and scare myself silly when i was little.
distorting my face into horrific contortions and then running down the dark corridor imagining the image had leapt from the mirror and was after me. moving as fast as wind, snapping at my heels, slicing through corners and doors and shadows. my heart in my throat and feeling nauseous with fear.
how heavenly the sitting room was, with the lamps, and my mother sitting reading Birds Of Southern Africa, held to the side in one hand. her glasses perched on the end of her nose, bare feet curled underneath her corduroyed bottom, and the clink of ice on glass as she quietly had another sip of her whisky. everything was always completely fine again. completely fine. i caught my breath and the demon melted back into the mirror. until the next time.

sleep seems to evade me lately. how annoying. i adore dreaming. i dreamt of evil bush pigs on my car bonnet last night. one stood glaring at me with burning red eyes, snarling. they were hunting lions. what was that about, i wonder? scary threatening devil beasts. On My Bonnet. and then suddenly i find i am in a gypsy camp bumping into ghosts of the past. and then BOOM. the lights came on.

in that same corridor of long ago, i once hid, behind the shower curtain, in the dark, waiting menacingly for GK as she hummed to herself, shuffling towards The Blue Loo (the other one was The Pink Loo). i crouched behind the shower curtain, a statue but for my pulse which was thumping as loudly as a generator. i waited. and waited. i leapt out at the most perfect moment. my granny almost had a heart attack. it really scared me. my mother didn't even have to shout at me.

the blue loo and oh. my. god. Fat Pat. a 60 something spinster farmer, square, large and obnoxiously brilliant at bridge. she either wore hibiscus red or fuchsia pink wax on her lips, large thick spectacles and a moustache. she was fierce. (but not as fierce or as thin as nora, her mother). she filled the space of her tiny car and loomed menacingly over her terrified steering wheel. she won prizes for her sponge cakes at the Heatonville Women's Institute. no-one crossed Fat Pat. was it a farmers meeting at home? was it a rain party after another drought? or was it one of those unplanned piss ups? i forget. (we never had security meetings...we still had party lines in those days and no radios or electric fences) but what i do remember though, is that it was raining and there was no electricity. Fat Pat disappeared into the blue loo. shortly afterwards, we heard a piercing scream, Fat Pat exploded back into the room, bouncing off walls, crushing people and stools along the way, operatic and irrational. at that precise moment, the lights came on. there she stood, her bloomers around her ankles and her spectacularly large and lunar bottom on display. gripping onto this pimpled lunar landscape was our cat, growl tiger, who looked spiked and electrified. he had been having a quiet drink from the blue loo, when Fat Pat had calmly lowered herself upon him. poor growl tiger. he was never quite the same after that.

sorry, what was that? have i seen what?

oscars? what oscars?





no kitchen board. as it's blank. yup. dealt a swift blow by a multi tasking domestic goddess. well. actually. thanks to amneey. who completely keeps my life together. thank-you amneey.

(amneey LHS)

oh. hair is dry. the mosquitoes have gnawed off my left foot leaving an itchy stump. the lights are brightening and dimming with an alarming regularity and familiarity. to bed to bed i must go before i am caught in the dark again....

so toodely old toot then, You. bisous bisous, comme toujours....dark ones....X.x.x. j

PS: i just want you to know that i have waited precisely TWO ENTIRE days to post this. because TANESCO blew up my radio for internet....its fixed ish..but could implode at any given time....i'm out of here before it does...cheerio.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

an unfortunate aardvark and other things...

(pic by tira shubart)

greetings! (as she dusts off her spanish leather boots)
or better still, Howdy! (to the clink of spurs and spanish leather)
yes. i'm back. and waving madly truly deeply back at you.
(whilst she packs her cowgal annie get your gun persona very quickly and tidily away)

there were starscapes.
cowboy songs sung. (at times the words escaped us)
decent amounts of whisky drunk.
hardly a "silent safari". (what was i thinking?)
my head and heart feel even more beautifully befuddled.
than ever before.

isn't that The Point? her wayward guru self muses.

we almost bumped into elephant in the desert thickets,
escaping delightfully, thorns tearing into my arms.
we stumbled over black volcanic rocks with the sun beating relentlessly on our backs and necks.
with the horses trying to tell us they weren't dik diks. and failing.

the wind blew dust into my eyes. and made them feel scratchy and used.

pepper ticks seethed, making my skin itch, the horses irritable.

each finger had a dark slither moon under each chewn nail.
i love my hands like this.

or, on the other hand, scrubbing and washing was unimportant....

as i have already mentioned to my most beloved mind, i pretended i was riding the rio grande, escaping bandito mexicans and stealing injun ponies.....(see the feathers in the spotted one's mane, intricately and lovingly woven over time)

(pic by j. doria, famed vaquera horse stealer of the northern desert wastelands)

she lived her cowgirl dreams. in a way.
oh and i haven't told you about dirk.

dirk. whose entire life revolves around elephants (primarily), other wild animals and their language. at the moment, dirk works with a ten year old elephant, who i shall meet, next time i pass through those tangle wood haunts. he will not teach her to carry people, in case he has to leave. his love is tangible. dirk looked after an aardvark whose hind legs had been permanently crippled in a snare (if i rightly recall). dirk slept all day and awoke with the moon and the aardvark. he would lift the aardvarks back legs and wheelbarrow it around all night, while it hoovered up termites. he tried to make a wheely thingimabob, (to replace himself) but it didn't work out. only him, his heart and his back worked. what happened in the end? well. the wildlife department didn't quite approve.....and dirk's back was crooked.

dirk can play his guitar and sing for an impressive eight hours solidly without repeating one song. his repertoire is legendary. he plays the irish drums too. but needs to work on his percussionary confidence...
(pic by eliza deacon, notorious compadre of wanted horse stealer doria)

(a rendition of Like A Rolling Stone...)

actually. i have been back for a while. but have been horribly sulky and unreasonably petulant about being back on the hill and picking up the domestic reins.

read on.

The Terrifying Kitchen Board: Saturday Night. Late. Feb 2009.

Contributors: of course veronica. because i would be completely useless. i would have the family eating crushed light bulbs or something.

Comments: monday monday monday. the list will be dutifully crossed off. with germanic precision and anal joy. and we shall have nutella. lashings of.

tooodely pip, You. wild tumbleweed kisses, x x x , desert ones. j

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

leaving you. . .

righto people. it's time.
it's time to leave the hill.
to get out into the world a bit, don't you think?
to escape these lonely, often ridiculous, ramblings.
words like whirlwinds in my head.

i'm out of here tommorrow.
on safari. with my spotted horse.
into an enchanted landscape - into hidden vallies between mt meru and kilimanjaro.
a place of silence, but for the wind.
space as wide as the sky.


elephant paths between the whistling thorns.

(christ. i hope we don't get close to any elephants. the spotted one will be terrified. he's been chased by them before. apparently elephants don't really like horses.) so yes. from a distance will be perfect. elephants have a knack for hiding themselves in small places....

i shall be sleeping under canvas and watching the stars and cleaning my head.
and my heart.
if i can tell the difference.

so. until next time, oh best beloveds.
whenever that shall be.

toodely pip then. bisous, comme toujours, x.x.x. wild ones...yeah. j

Saturday, February 7, 2009

state of mind.

(if i knew how to do it, i would upload Blackbird, by the Beatles, to be played again and again all the way to the end. its Perfect. is that a metronome in the background?)

so there we were, sitting on the steps outside, wondering where the mythical place was? other than where we were sitting at that precise moment in time.

tentatively pondering on whether the mythical place of complete happiness, pleasure, peace was all intricately to do with The Point Of Life. The Big Thing Point.

it was a real conversation killer.

the silence was, well, blaring and ever so slightly uncomfortable. so i blabbered on about some jammy old spiritual evolution. reincarnation. aren't we evolving souls, as i was lead to believe by his holiness the dalai lama? well. judging by lots of messed up people in the world, i must be almost there. nirvana lies waiting for me just beyond the ploughed up field, if i could be bothered to walk down there. some examples? people who kidnap children for sex slaves, child pornographers, war mongerers, rapists, murdering thieves, people who stab you for your cheap nokia phone, robbers who shot the fish selling lady at the market who dared to shout out mwizi mwizi (thief thief) when they were conducting an armed robbery in a paltry little internet cafe next to the main market at four in the afternoon. why did they have to kill her? those radical islamic bastards in somalia. all those post independent african leaders - who plundered their nations coffers of their futures and became psychopathic murderers, killing anyone who vaguely muttered about change, or anyone who vaguely questioned their preposterous behaviour. those chaos, poverty inducing people have probably all reincarnated by now. into homeless parentless clothless bombs raining down on them kids in southern sudan. karmic stuff, man. positively karmic.

on the side: before one continues, it's terribly important to understand that i am busy reading The Shackled Continent: Africa's Past, Present and Future by Robert Guest. light bed time reading. (oh that must be why i have been sleeping with the light on, eyes wide open at three in the morning...maybe) favorite most inspiring lines so far in the book (only just started ) are:
" ...In the long run, I believe Africa will prosper..." pg 23
"...Price fixing is a bit like jumping off a tall building shouting "I abolish the law of gravity"' (in his section on Mugabe in Zimbabwe.)

which, patient reader (if there are any left?) lead to the two of us sitting on the steps outside thinking what are we doing here? where is The Mythical Place? which lead me to think, it was just beyond the ploughed fields. or right where we were sitting IF you opt for the evolving soul interpretation. the buddhist approach. which, has to date, made the most sense to me. especially the tibetan book of living and dying. i loved the idea that there wasn't a white male god sitting in a giant shining mother of pearl throne, sort of slouched in The Thinker position, comfortably bored of seeing sinner after sinner, looking sternly down at me, wondering whether he should forgive me or not. toying with the idea. i am more comfortable with the idea that actually, it boils down to whether i can forgive myself or not, no matter how difficult this might prove to be. god forgive me if i have got the whole thing completely wrong. please. oh puhleeeeze?? shit.

which brings me to my next Big Thing Point,

"...if you are to die well, you must live well," said his holiness the dalai lama.

because, we are to conclude, the end is the only certainty on this crazy trip. well. what's that then? living well? by my book (idealistically speaking), its riding, music, whisky, full moons, love as it comes, stories in process, stories completed, cigarettes, mood enhancing drugs (to be used intermittently) and completely living on the edge while at the same time being a Responsible Mother, a Loyal Wife, and a physically (like doing daily exercise, preferably yoga (box still to be ticked), for at least twenty minutes, minimum, so you are overwhelmed by happy feel god (or good)hormones...what are they called again?) and mentally (centered, bright, happy, emotionally stable and intelligent, patient) healthy, compassionate (always understanding what its like to be anyone else and making a difference to alleviate human suffering - get mega browny points for this apparently and evolve much quicker although gurus past and present don't like you to think about it this way but i can't help it. i do.) being. well. do the two match? hardly. in fact barely at all. so you kind of end up in a muddy pool in the middle. or you sway radically between the two, on a steady crazed remote controlled pendulum, verging on schizophrenia. my poor children.

(they seem to be doing rather well on it though, i think....anyone?)

at any point in the giant pendulum swing of life, when i start veering too far away from the muddy middle, clinging desperately like a colobus monkey to the huge gong bit, i scurry back to the bookshelf, grab anything orange and purple with his holiness the dalai lama's face or name on it. and read.and think. and try harder....but even better, i remember the words of johnnie b who assured me, no matter what, no matter where the mind goes, that i (me me me!) would always find The Center again. such calming words. and actually i believe him. if he can, anyone can! love you johnnie soul evolving b. love you. your words have given me more courage than the dalai lama's. they float behind me as i race out, like balloons, their tender strings clutched in my aging hands. or when i gloomily sit looking for nirvanic shine at the end of the ploughed up fields. in the gouged out hill. in the deforested, littered eroding field next to the factory. it lies, the glowing auric light of nirvana, under the shrinking tangled forests on the slopes of meru. under the disappearing glaciers on kilimanjaro.

no really. i am fine. really. so centered in fact that i am going riding. so toodely then. will finish this later.

oh no. apparently i'm not. i got the time wrong. i told mwali (our long suffering syce) in my finest centered swahili (read shamefully appallingly atrocious swahili), that we would be riding at ten. now. in swahili, you have to convert the time back by seven hours AND remember your numbers. moja, mbili, tatu, nne, tano...etc etc.challenging for even a godlike multi tasker like myself. so for years i just couldn't get it...i just couldn't do it fast enough...minusing seven hours from the present. i would stand there saying saaaaaaaaaa, um, saaaaaaaaaa, errrgh." fidgeting with my fingers and bottle tops and counting beans, until either the person bored and confused simply walked off or i said in clipped english "oh fuck it. we will be coming at ten o clock ok? thanks awfully. bye bye then"....
this was insufferable UNTIL some brilliant person (think it was a child) told me that all you had to do was look at a clock (with a face) and go directly symmetrically opposite and there was the time in swahili. so for example, ten o clock would be four (saa nne), or twelve o clock would be 6 (saa sita). simple. oh my, how absolutely clever and life changing. i was joyous and felt liberated buoyant.

well. i got it wrong again this morning. (even after being analogically enlightened about 3 months ago or was it 6?) the horses have left for greener pastures..i had said two. and not 4. oh well. boo hiss. can't be helped. two it shall be. (which is, now, let's see, saa nane - 8)

go figure.

it has given me the chance to finish this jabbering lengthy (lashings of apologies all round) post.

because its sunday. because i am feeling in a, um, singularly different state of mind, we will not, oh best beloveds, be having The Kitchen Board. instead we will have Gabriella Lara Rosa Doria's Sunday Quotes. they are, for now, entirely more thought provoking than the usual Kitchen Board.

GABRIELLA LARA ROSA DORIA'S SUNDAY QUOTE - um, sunday, a week-end in february 09.

"i need a boy to help. catching worms is like fishing and stuff."

"its no use playing with sad people."

so put those in your wise pipe and smoke 'em.

toooooooooooodely old pip, You. bisous. X .X. X. long deeply compassionate ones. j

Friday, February 6, 2009

smell of rain...

whew it's been a white hot day with a rainbow around the sun. again.

twice in one year.

something has changed. completely.

i can smell rain. far away. but i can smell it.

it's heady. sexy.

there is no wind. the night air crackles and tinkles with crickets songs.

and in the distance i can hear a nightjar, like liquid.

i think the rain is close.

something is.

if it's not the rain, then what could it be?

tentacles are out.

should i sing my song? soon it will rain? last time i did the raindrops were as big as golf balls and rivers ran where they hadn't before. i think i'll give it a twirl.

semi naked on her bed /summer rain in her head/in the desert/ there's no pain

in the stillness something dead/behind the curtain dressed in red/she's uncertain/when the thunder rolls.

horses run in midday heat/angels snapping at her feet/vultures spiral/in the widening gyre

soon it will rain/i can feel it in my bones/soon it will rain/ i can feel it i can feel it i can feel it /in my bones

feathers fall like raindrops lost/signs of angels unforecast/clouds are rolling/'round the mountain top

jasmine scent upon the air/windchimes spinning everywhere/streaks of lightening/ in her hair

summer moon behind the clouds/lights are out and so are owls/something lurks/ the black dog starts to howl.

soon it will rain/i can feel it in my bones/soon it will rain/i can feel it i can feel it i can feel it/in my bones.

what the devils going on?

could it be the watery moon?

could it be you, or the lack of you?

or just me?

yes that's it. it's just me.

must be.

and the distant smell of rain...

Kitchen Board: Friday Night some time in early february

Contributor: oh, completely veronica. perfectly veronica. veritably veronica. there. phew. satisfied now.

Comments: update on the Lady from NYC for interested parties is that she is still at it, apparently. relentlessly so. like after flying 300 feet above lake natron, thickly pink with flamingos, after soaring over oldonyo lengai volcano, the wings tipping so everyone could see this extraordinary sacred active volcano, after seeing game like ants flowing below the shadow of their own private aeroplane, stepped out of it and said, What the .... but in her way. and there are about five of her. safari craig been given strict instructions to notate all details where she and the rest are concerned for y'all....but he said he is too tired to even pick his nose... oh well.

tooooodely old pip, lovely You, bisous x.x.x. poetic nostalgic ones... j . . . x.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

spot the pinky....

i love this picture.

it's Spot The Pinky.

it's I'm An African.

it's kids getting on with the world. with lives. with light. with love and camaraderie. with freedom and simplicity.

its real. like coca cola.
it gives me hope when i look at it.

it's so far removed from grown up bollox. from grown up fixations with global economic melt downs. and impending world doom.

so far removed from colour and race.

i love it when rubin argues in kiswahili and i can't understand him. i think he's getting somewhere. call me deluded.

his best friend, daniel, the one on the very right in the front row, reminds me of barak. he comes from kisumu in kenya.

and they played a blisteringly good game of footie today.

in their bright yellow bee suits. and afterwards ate ice creams victoriously.

i love africa for this.

Kitchen Board: Wednesday Evening: 4 Feb 2009

Contributors: Janelle, Veronica

Comments: must must get more petrol for the generator. we had another power cut this evening. damnit. but obviously its back on now. safari craig has left on, yup, a safari. his clients from new york thought he was joking when he said that there weren't going to be any computers in camp. (?) when they sat down for lunch yesterday - a grand top dollar safari lunch - one lady said well what am i supposed to eat? i don't eat red meat. i don't eat chicken or fish. i can't eat the quiche because i don't eat eggs. and of course i won't eat salads in africa.....
jesus. so they had to make her a special omelet from egg whites with mushrooms. why did she come, i wonder? does she have ANY idea where she is???? one can only hope she will by the time she leaves....
tooooooooooooooodely old pip, you. bisous xxx african ice cream ones....yum.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

seriously, though....

yesterday morning i woke up, sleepily and cosily, to a distant whooping. oh what could it be? maasai ceremony? and then a roar and more whooping. so i tumbled out of bed, still recovering from an all nighter on friday, shuffled through to the fireplace and found the binoculars. indeed. the whooping and roaring was coming from the factory far down below.(remember we live on a hill. ngorobob hill) safari craig thought it was a football match. until i spied someone running along a wall of the factory smashing all the security lights. until i realized it was in fact a full blown riot going on in the mosquito net factory.

i have posted about this factory a long time ago. how we hate it. how it ruined our view. how, it has taught me to accept things you cannot change. and why you should never buy a place because of the view. how views can change. nevertheless, from our hill, you can see more than just the factory. there are also the mountains and the maasai steppes. still. if you wade back a year or so, you will see my post on the factory, fondly referred to as the fucking factory. bill gates gave a lot of money to the factory, thinking it was going to help fight malaria. thinking whoever has the money would do a good job. then he went back to america feeling good about himself. a settled conscious that he had indeed helped the africans.

you should see the mess below. you should see the conditions the workers live in. you should hear how much (or rather how little) they are paid. you should hear how long they have to work with no break. things are not rosy. no far from it. you should see the amount of plastic litter which blows in the wind from the factory. you should see how much firewood they take from the forests on the mountain and pile in their backyard. you should see the ugly cement walls and no trees. you should see what they have done to the otherside of the hill where they have gouged out soil for their buildings. you should see their utter disregard for the environment and for the workers. i wonder if mr gates knows this. i wonder if, when mr bush came to visit, he was shown the back of the factory where the workers stay. this factory is, apparently the pride of tanzania.

so, it was no surprise that eventually the workers would riot. a riot in africa is nothing like a riot say in england or europe. where workers carry relevant banners and walk in an orderly fashion with the support of unions. oh no. in africa, when there is a riot there is mayhem. so there we sat perched on the hill watching complete and utter mayhem explode like a fast unfurling flower. we watched workers chasing a police car. we watched workers looting the place. stealing roofing sheets, doors, mosquito nets, lights, cement literally anything they could lay their hands on. three thousand people on the rampage. the security guards (who are unarmed ) got the hell out of there...stones were being thrown. gates were broken. lights were smashed. trucks were smashed. until the army arrived. the field force. in brown landrovers, with red flags flying, guns and tear gas. before we saw the cars, we saw three thousand people running in a million directions into the ploughed fields below. as fast as they could go. and then we saw the army. loud speakers. a few shots. tear gas. within fifteen minutes there was order. workers returned. they gathered in the main gates. thousands left. a group fled up our hill and away. never to return.

and i watched the swallows swooping on the sunday breeze, the european storks whirling in across the valley to hunt for frogs on the ploughed fields...

rubin was scared. he clutched his catapault. i said there was nothing to be afraid of. which was true. but something blipped across my inner radar screen. something which made my heart race a little faster. something which made me think, for a brief second, what on earth are we doing here?

in africa things can go wrong so terribly fast. wildly wrong. psychopathically wrong.

i am not sure what the outcome is. the factory is not working today. the workers who remain, are all sitting outside the gates. gathered. meeting. what next? the workers will have no support from anyone. not from their government, which has heavily invested in the factory and for which they get mega browny points from the west; not from their union, whose employers are probably paid less than they are. not from anyone. i said to sally yesterday well if i was one of them i would pack my bags and leave. and she said, ever so rightly, that yes indeed you might, but most of those people down below don't have a choice. it's a job. it's money. you don't just walk away. you have nothing before or after. i thought about this all day. and i came to the conclusion that you DO have a choice. always. it's just knowing that. it's knowing that it's not about a god. it's about you. and your power. yes. there is choice.....but maybe i am being ignorant. (the last time i was in the other world, the "first" world, i was overwhelmed by the choice of dog foods, of toothpastes, of cereals, of basic essentials. at least here its easy. there isn't one. in a sense it's peaceful.)

everything in africa seems so desperate. so border line . all the time. order to chaos. life to death. drought to floods. the good thing about this is that death is close all the time. it's a reality. everyday. you aren't allowed to forget it for one minute. which makes the colours of being alive so bright and brief. you aren't allowed to forget how fortunate you are when you drive down the hill, or ride out onto the plains past very very poor people. desperate. border line people who have nothing. everyday. there isn't an escape. for your conscious. only a vast beautiful landscape.

i am given the chance to develop deep gratitude and compassion. i try.

and therefore, i am thankful. very. for everything i have. there are times when i feel toughened. and feel, well, it's your own look out my mate. tough luck. and fuck you. and then wonder how on earth i got to be so lucky. and then scare myself by looking at it on a universal level, and realize, jesus, it's a flip of the coin. good old chaos theory. phew. and how truly irrelevant we are. completely. and to think we're any more important than an ant in a whistling thorn is to be utterly deluded.

and on that note, dear beloveds, i turn my thoughts to lesson plans and the monday that lies quietly and haphazardly ahead of me.

Kitchen Board: Monday Morning: 2 Feb 09

Contributors: safari craig (!?) and veronica
Comments: he remembered the fish food...called blood worms. oh we shall miss him when he leaves on safari again tommorrow...for an entire month. and oh how i have slacked off while he has been here....time to pull my socks up i reckon.
and did i tell you we had 15mls of rain on saturday!? glorious. saturating. rain. now i want more. never enough, is it? (except in ireland apparently)
toodely toodely toodely...bisous, xxx riotious ones (!) j