Friday, June 26, 2009

of all the gin joints...

serengeti stars by dom lever,
do not steal. or i will send you to mogadishu.

do you see the southern cross? just above the broken arms of this dead and dying tree? upright and tilting ever so gently to the left. i like dead trees. and, as you know, i am presently obsessed by star scapes. bear with me, oh bestest beloveds, things could be worse.

it's friday night. and i could be donning little sequinned dresses, feather boas, marlene dietrich red lipstick and silver sparkly eye shadow and hitting the town, doing the occasional casual tequila body shot en route. while driving, smsing. ya know, multi tasking. just because it's friday. and head to, aherm, the, aherm, god, the maasai camp? the greek club? the lively lady? stiggis?she mumbles in very small voice. like when i admit to liking abba.

i mustn't be mean about them. the arusha night spots not abba. they are, all four, arusha institutions (not abba), where many murky glorious moments have been spent. one which leaps to mind, oddly enough, was when the 12 year old pilot tried to pick me up at maasai camp. a beautiful young thing who had been flying weapons of war into darfur sudan for a, (should i even divulge?) russian aviation company. this in itself a conversation stopper. he was on "off" (taking some leave) when he bumped into me. and he was a mess. mad. obviously. he courageously, and almost immediately, tried to convince me that every woman wanted a shining knight on a white horse to rescue her. my eye brows arched. he said i looked like i needed rescuing. . . .my eye brows ticked the cob webbed ceiling. really? well let me tell you something, darlin', i smirked...

he was a mess. and clearly deluded. he had been paid well. but the weight of his actions weighed heavily on his bright young thing shoulders. i thought about rescuing him but instead we dropped him at the impala roundabout never to be seen again. julie and i drove home at one speed, over all the speed bumps, in the middle of the road into a blazing dawn, fried eggs, a hazy sunday morning and a mammoth brain cell killer maasai camp hangover.

what? oh. we were driving a toyota.

my moment of glory at stiggi's was when i single handedly and alone picked a fight with seven scottish road builders who had just climbed kilimanjaro. the climb had not dented their sense of well being. they were looking deep into a whisky bottle. i would like to say they all wore kilts and shoes laced up their very strong log throwing legs. but no. they sported gold chains and bad hair styles. some of them were, i remember, red headed. ish. it was the evening when i said to myself, on finding myself alone and a little bored again, (never a good combination, in my experience):

tsk tsk god janelle, don't be afraid to go out on your own! you can do it! blah blah.

oh okokokok i answered.

and i took myself all the way to the maasai camp. it's all the way on the otherside of town. it's miles away. like an 80km round trip from the ngorobobs. ok. say 70kms then. no one was there except the barman. so we had a few. well i did. and if i rightly recall, so did he. and then popped into stiggis on my way home. it wasn't late. but i was feeling very brave and in need of conversation. i swaggered in, and there they were. the road builders. i sat around the corner of the bar from them. and eavesdropped their conversation. they were rabbiting on in what vaguely resembled english, about how rubbish the tanzanian roads are. (true. but still) i think that's where the argument began. the owner had to rush in and save me after i said something like oh please scotland belongs to england or something careless like that.

how happy am i to be sitting here tonight? under the southern cross. tucked up on the hill. far away from terrible moments like those. and i haven't mentioned the time i argued with the askari outside what i thought was the colobus (a hideous nightclub near maasai camp filled with cheap neon gin, bad music and thieving whores) entrance gate, because he wouldn't open up and let me in...i pleaded formidably until he stuck a machine gun through the window. i politely reversed, smiling and nodding very fast and garbeling asantesanaasantesanaasantesana and realized it was the coca cola bottling plant next door. still. the machine gun was a little over the top, i thought.



i like to see the sparkly dress twinkling in the corner though. the boa draped temptingly nearby. but, sigh, for another friday night. some other time, she wistfully muses.

Kitchen Board: Friday Night: some time in june 09

list building up for a monday. like the carbuncle on my arm. see two barnacles below board. their performance last night was , well, moving.


toodely toot then, y'all. bisous X X X sparkly friday night ones... x.j

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

fat hyaena

for wil (on request. see comments on last post). and for tim. these beasties can eat you. if you fall asleep next to a fire out on the open plains and you forget to clean your face after eating, they will sneak up on ya and chomp your face off. true. promise. cross my heart hope to die. but an african night out on the plains without the eery whooping of these magical beautiful creatures is like a night with no soul. and did you know that both the female and the male have penises? they do. they are pseudo-hermaphroditic. google it, blogging babies.

toodely ole toot, y'all...bisous X.X.X. whooping ones. x j

Sunday, June 21, 2009

wide open spaces...

pic by dom lever (do not steal or i will find you and chop your head off before dom chops mine off.) dinner in the serengeti.

you might think i am obsessed with star scapes.

i am.
someone said "it" was written in the stars. i am sure it is. but i am still learning how to read them. it takes a life time, for some.
i am back, cosily ensconced on the ngorobob hills, from a grand week-end safari to the northern serengeti, the lemai wedge, which borders the maasai mara in kenya...except the tanzanian side is empty of mini buses, empty of anything except rolling hills, dotted about with trees which i am convinced are dr zeuss's truffula trees...the last of them, where nobody can chop them down....empty except for herds and herds of topi, zebra, tommies, wildebeest, eland and very fat hyaena - mile after mile of great skies and wind swept plains....a complete dream scape....
i spent all my hours out there, off roads, following racing cloud shadows over the shiny short grass a ship at sea....feeling the sun on my face and the wind, which is constant, tearing at my hair. this is where i am happiest. these are my "wide open spaces, room to make a big mistake" -this is my dixie chick country. things are as they are. everything is as it should be. the scene is almost prehistoric. even my crazy warped thoughts seem so clear. and right. and fine. and good. and mine.

each night i drifted asleep to the sound of the wind battering the canvas and a distant hyaena whooping to perhaps the stars. curled around a hot water bottle, my dreams were crystalline. i was cocooned under a great spinning star packed world. it's where i am supposed to be. it's where i am from.
it's the beginning and the end of everything.

Kitchen Board: Monday 22 june 2009
monday. shopping day. and i know everything is not on that board. still. some things are better left unlisted, no?
oh. the cats have gone to babati. to a lady who loves cats (?) and lives in the middle of no-where. babati is about 2 million miles south of here. they left on friday. i feel good about this. mama paka is still here. we love mama paka.
and that, oh best beloveds, is that.
toooooodely then, bisous X.X.X. out on the plains cowgirl ones, yes sirree... x j

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

do not adjust your sets...

do not adjust your sets.

this station has been temporarily out of order.

ngorobob broadcasting corporation (nbc) would like to re assure you that their um, technician is hard at work, 24 hours a day, trying to re wire transmission. the government of tanzania is not assisting. they claim the ngorobobs are out of their jurisdiction and therefore a constant internet connection is deemed unnecessary as is a steady or even an intermittent power supply.

oh and the fiber optic cable between here and there has been severed under dubious circumstances.

i have been out of order. so to speak.

i have been temporarily distracted by:

1. a burning hatred for my cats.
2. attempting to educate and inspire a smattering of "challenged"students.
3. de primatising ( or re humanizing) my kids. whichever way you want to look at it.
4. a series of late nights.
5. horses.
6. banditos on the hill. baddies. roaming under a slice of moon
7. terrifying tooth pain.
8. and a string of unmentionably ridiculous thoughts.

in order to remedy part of the situation i have:

1. de balled the cats and thrown them out of the house. which automatically rectified number 4.
2. i have accepted that my children are part baboon part human. accepting things you cannot change is, ultimately, liberating.
3. i have decided that should the roving banditos, who roamed the hill the other night, decide to return, i will kill them. i have lain long and low and dreamed up terrible scenes of violence on my stair case. shotguns up nostrils. that sort of thing. it will make "no country for old men" look like a walk in the park with enid blyton.
4. i have accepted the fact that i shall always be distracted by horses. naturally. this will never change.
5. i have finally accepted that all nighters are completely damaging and it is a terribly lonely thing to be wandering the hills under the pale veil of a grey and misty dawn. cold. and on a sunday morning. it's just, well, horrible.
6. i have resorted to a breakfast cocktail of fruit salad, strong coffee and timothy leary type pain killers. for my tooth you understand.(ok. i lied about the fruit salad)
7. my brain windscreen wipers are on full speed, sweeping away thunderstorms of stupendous thoughts and remains, once more, a marvelous blank slate...
thank-you for your patience. again. do not adjust your sets. it's reality gone wrong. nbc sends lashings of apologies for any inconvenience caused.

toodely ole toot, then, oh bestest beloveds.....bisous X.X.X fiber opticky ones....

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


something has been stealing all my words. my thoughts.

something like the cat in the hat.

i am still in this, well, condition. it's nothing bad or anything. quite the opposite in fact. and i'm Not Pregnant. at all. no. god forbid.

i can't seem to concentrate on anything important. like i used to. like school. like supper. like marking and lesson plans. like getting anywhere on time. like Normal Responsibilities For Any Old Human On The Planet. i find myself staring out the window. staring at blazing green wild grass; or strolling the hills when the red moon is rising and loving how they roll southwards, silver, a wrinkly blanket over the steppes. like watching the sun dapples (sun beams for christ's sake! she alarmingly pinches herself) wobbling, dancing sun dapples in my car at school, while i wrote rambly silly thoughts like these. (and snuck in a camel light) and noticed one purple petal of a common old bougainvillia lying brave and bright against the spiky gravel. look. i'm not denying that one doesn't have these odd little moments. but mine are happening All The Time.

i couldn't care less about what form a school report is in. whatever. i couldn't give two friggin' hoots. instead i doodle in green ink; intricate 3 D roman camps with stars all around them while monsieur mwaipopo, the french master who wears flambuoyant jackets and the best ties ever, arches his eye brows at my brilliant 3 D doodles, smiling bemusedly at me, and feeling ever so slightly uncomfortable about the situation. (we were in the same discussion group). he warm heartedly echoed my dreamy mutterings of " je n'ai aucune idee..." everytime he asked for a little contribution to the group talk. quelque chose les a vole, i should've added. i managed to say yes yes yes vaguely to a few pointers. and by some bizarre and completely mystical trick, some of the meeting's information actually cunningly sieved itself past this majik that has taken hold of me, and hangs doggedly onto my conscious mind. deeply relieved.

tonight i put this majik in a jar. tonight i managed to work. i have managed to write this. tonight i was back to being Minister Of Home Affairs. and The Fun Police. to a relatively bloody sterling degree, i reckon. closing down runescapes against fierce resistance. managing to access all on my own. and actually successfully navigate the site. iamnotaludditeiamnotaluddite. my ideas on report forms are going to win me world recognition for their brilliance. i could be a news reader on CNN or Sky. with dark rimmed spectacles, finger on the pulse, straight hair, and fucking smart. this is all rather relieving and balancing.

but in a minute, i shall peek through the curtains and spy the late red moon slowly float above the quiet hills, for a good while, and then the majik will pop the lid of the jar and steal all my words and thoughts again.
oh well. worse things have happened at sea.
Kitchen Board: Tuesday Night: June 2009

a tampered board...various anonymous contributors. obviously mine is the one in big pissed off a reminder to myself that i have lived in africa for, gosh, what, 4o odd years and EVERY time the electricity fails its customers (which happens a Lot), i can never:

1. find a functioning torch. to find a functioning lighter or match box to light candles
2. find candles.
3. find a functioning paraffin lamp.
4. find a bottle of paraffin to fill last remaining functional, yet empty, paraffin lamp.

and when you do find a match box, most of them are used (and have been put back in box. guilty.), some of them snap in half when you strike them, some of them have no sulphur and you'll be lucky to find the last functioning match.

consequently i have become largely adept at feeling my way to the generator house in the darkness and starting it blindly.

and re: the pot handles...oh well. forgive my slightly embarrassing loss of temper.

so toodely old toot then, You. tumbly bisous X.X.X majiked ones...j

Saturday, June 6, 2009

blame it on the moon...

something is afoot. i can feel it.

perhaps it's lack of sleep.
i have had two mashed ragged evenings in a row. i shall spare you, oh best beloveds,  the details. . .

perhaps it's this telly tubby shiny weather we've been having.
ridiculously shiny green weather where the light splinters on each blade of grass....
and wild yellow flowers lie like fallen stars across the hill.
and burst in wild profusion in my rib cage.

i don't know.
what it is.

perhaps it is simply the cusp of the seasons...heading into an african winter. 

it blows me away. every time.

i feel like the wild witch on the hill. my hair is unbrushed and tangled. free flow. i have been chasing cats all night. one is asleep in the fireplace, dangerously close to the last glowing coals. i walked barefoot across the gravel, over the silent courtyard to switch off the generator. and noticed that the moon is nearly full. all squonky. rudely beautiful.

tonight it is fine to be by myself. fine. i am not scared. i just have wild flowers inside. 'as all. 'as all.

 i am headed to bed, with a funny book - to listen to the wild kili winter wind rattling the windows.
windows full of stars.
framing the a squonky moon.

sometimes it feels like this.



so toodely old toot, You. bisous, windy witchy ones. X. X. X. j

Thursday, June 4, 2009

extended family. . .

i stole these pics from a sleeping african girl....
last night.
she had packed her extended family of dolls next to her...eight to be precise...all neatly lined up. no-one was sleeping except her.
they said they wouldn't tell. 
(that i was taking pictures). 

they're very kind, you see.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

killing fantasy...

if i rightly recall, i opened my blogging career focused on dentists.

it appears that most people dislike, read as passionately hate, going to the dentist. the mere thought of them makes me curl up in a foetal position almost immediately and wish myself away to another planet and dimension. i spent yesterday in a dark corner of the staff room hiding behind my himalayan scarf, pale and peeky.

night before last i was sitting next to the fire (the first this season. winter has sneaked in, whimsically so.) perusing some music, listening to the crickets and the logs snapping in the hearth and happily munching my way through a packet of mini snicker bars when SNAP, my tooth snapped in half. i sat gawping at my enamel chip lying in my hand, amongst glistening globs of chewed toffee. dead panic gripped the pit of my stomach. it's honestly terrifying. almost like holding one's fallen off foot in your hand. i sat tensely, waiting for that particular nerve pain to shoot through my head. nothing.

nothing for it but to take myself off to t, the macedonian (or is she romanian?) dentist. as i turned into her immaculate driveway i kept telling myself i was doing a healing positive thing for myself. which is completely true. but it still didn't stop the galloping hooves of a million horses in the pit of my stomach. i thought: here is a chance to practise finely tuning the think of things more pleasant to distract from the imminent oral butchery. think of like kissing someone, think of someone laughing. think of, well, ya know....

it didn't work. drill on enamel is a powerful, very powerful, tool. it kills fantasy.

i sternly re warned dr t of my fear. yes yes she remembered. of course. the thing is, i am unafraid of injections, just nerve pain. i instructed her to give me as many injections as possible. you know, over do them for christ's sake. and away we went. drill drill poke poke...i clammed my eyes shut and tried my best to think of well, you know, more pleasant things in life... i didn't feel a thing. but the fantasy images were blown away in seconds. i lay coiled, like a cobra about to strike. my friend andre once punched a dentist. dr t forced me to look at the gaping broken tooth. in a little round mirror. i said i didn't want to but she made me. at gun point. at drill point. i blanched.

anyway - she has fixed it temporarily but warned that i might feel severe pain - pain so extreme that i would see so i swung past the chemist and bought special pain killers for teeth. the nice hindu chemist lady smilingly assured me they would work. man. are they wonderful? i popped one last night and was a goner by eight thirty....completely goofed. never saw or felt any stars or dreams. or anything. you could've happily slowly sawed off my toes one by one with a blunt old hack saw and i wouldn't have felt a thing.

just to set the record straight. bad luck comes in threes. friend died. dog died. broke a tooth. think it's over now. better times ahead. for sure. oh. and my little horse was a complete spotty star at the clinic....he flew over the jumps, with little angel wings on each of his feet....we almost won, if it hadn't been for the giant black horse called Dakota from Namibia who pipped us....but everyone knew that delly belly was actually the best horse on the planet ever....(if only i owned a hat which matched his stardom and not an upside down potty)


look. am not sure who wrote "ass". it must have been a boy. otherwise a pure and unadulterated veronica board. all this shopping has been ticked off...apart from the "ass" bit.

so toooodely old toot, y'all. at least we're half way through the week...

bisous, great passionate ones in a phone booth...(huh?) X X X . j