Monday, July 27, 2009

beach generator. . .

so we're back from the beach. it was well, simply perfect. tati said i would meet someone inspirational. i never did. i looked. but no-one strolled past in shiny white robes with a halo. or in bell bottoms holding a guitar. in fact no-one strolled past at all. apart from the odd fisherman. and two maasai who came to bury the dead cow which washed up, all salted, onto the beach. maybe it fell out of a dhow between zanzibar and pemba.
nevertheless. it didn't matter. i knew it was going to be like this. . .
i sure found time to sit and stare and think. and watch the children run wild up the empty beach. watching them being dumped by little vicious waves, which made me smile. chin in hands, elbows on bent knees. watching. and i managed to pen two new songs. which was extremely pleasing. i love the process. and i'm even happier, when waking up slowly, seeing the light filter through the palms outside, still between dreams and waking, and i hear a riff, and the words float past and i suddenly remember this is a new song. it has stuck. it has begun. god. i love that. loads don't hang about. so when they hook, it's so much more than a bingo moment.

i also managed to successfully deliver an 171kg generator to the camp on the beach. this was no easy feat, oh bestest beloveds, i can tell you. it's a very long drive from arusha to pangani. a beautiful road which goes on and on and ooooooooooon, winding its way between the pares (say it like paarez )mountains, the usambara mountains and the great deserty plains to the right. we drove most of the way into a steady wind. (there are signs warning you against strong winds along the way. i mean what do they think? the sign writing people? that the wind will blow me and the old green land cruiser with an 171kg generator and three children in the back OFF THE ROAD? ) because of the hefty, unwieldy generator our top speed was max 90kms an hour. when the going was good. there was only one thing for it: donn the stetson, plug in the iPod (with the best soundtrack in the world. picture Going Mobile by The Who - keep me movin' over 50, keep me movin' like a hippy gypsy) and cruise. between 40 (up hills into the wind) and 90 (down hills into the wind). every now and then doing blind swipes into the back seat to maintain law and order amongst the three little baboons being all territorial about space on the back seat and who every now and then chorused in that sing song voice:

" Are we nearly there, ma?"

ma: (snatching head phone out of ear and snapping) whatTT??

"are we nearly there maaaa?maaaaa?"

ma: of course we aren't. we're only going to get there like in another six hours. have another boiled egg darling. (and plugged her head phone back in and thought of the open road and other things).

the secret to travelling with three children under the age of twelve and above the age of 6 is lashings of hard boiled eggs, saamies,the odd mis judged smack and an iPod with good music which will last at least 8 hours.

if your children are younger than 5 there really isn't a single positive point to long road trips. children under 5 are irrational and hungry. and they eat beach sand. and upon arrival have a sudden fever of 42. they only do this when there are no doctors around and you forgot to pack the suppository panadols. so you end up insane at 4 in the morning, pinning child to bed forcing the syrup version down their throat, most of which ends up all over your pillow and bed. the rest gets vomited up seconds later. all over the pillow and bed.

we eventually arrived at the pangani river. hours, days, years later, unfrazzeled but egged out. pangani is an almost forgotten outpost, perched on the edge of the river and the sea. it seeps history and's just well, so forgotten and old.

as i said previously, the ferry/pontoon was out of order. and there isn't a bridge. so this meant heaving the yellow effing generator (who, i now noticed, had ungenerously flattened the wheel arch of my car. completely) out of the car and into a rickety old wooden boat. thomas was there to direct operations. cool. calm. collected.

along with abu. and five or seven other strong men. they neeeearly dropped it into the river, from the sheer shocking weight of the bastard. i watched aghast. open mouthed. but they didn't.

then the kids and i clambered bravely into the same old rickety boat and pootled across the river. we went through the same clumsy process on the other side. some kind soul tried to carry my guitar. i sharply wrapped his knuckles saying NO ONE touches this guitar. abu held open the passenger door of the old blue landrover pick up for me, clearly held together with spit and shoe strings (really it was held together with legging - stripped inner tube), which i thought was entirely gentlemanly of him. he firmly told me to hold it while he drives because, well, it doesn't shut. i love a man true to his word. and we were off. sort of coughing into a start, bamboozling our way along a windy red dust road, through the old sisal estate, into the dark green jungle before bursting out into the coconut plantations with glinting sea and beach behind. flapping doors and the effing generator.. . .

and guess what? it never worked. bastard thing. after all that. but who cares. i've two new songs.

and tommorrow i have to go to the dentist. again. if tam's latest post is anything to go by all i want to do is lie foetally curled on the floor, hands over my ears and blubber no no no. but i cannot continue popping neurofens like smarties, washing them down with good whisky. no. this will bite me soon enough. a very kind friend suggested the swill and spit brandy trick. i ordered the cheapest. and the biggest. result: tanzanian brandy which i suspect tastes most similar to meths or brake fluid or paint stripper. anyway. it seems to do the trick. after stripping my gums from my bones, the steady throb of tooth pain seems to abate a little while. only for a little while. so it's tommorrow folks. dee day, yes sirree.

Friday, July 17, 2009

gone to the beach...

i've gone to the beach, oh bestest beloveds.

" kiss me and smile for me
tell me that you'll wait for me...:

but i'm not leaving on a jet plane. we are driving 7 hours in an old green toyota landcruiser, carrying a very large, very heavy generator. which takes 4 large men to quiveringly lift.

crossing the pangani river will be a challenge.

the pontoon (ferry) is broken. again. so we have to cross by boat. with the generator. and then most likely the rest of the way in an old green landrover.

so toodely then. see ya 'round like rissoles in a week.

Kitchen Board: Saturday Morning pre departure: sometime in july

so tooooooodely ole toot, you....miss ya already ..bisous X.X.X. white sandy beachy ones...pouf! x.j

Monday, July 13, 2009

fishy tales....

so that pesky little sun bird arrived at the window again this morning. his burning yellow chest bright in the early morning winter sun.
the last time this happened, my music buddy died.
apparently in hawaii, when a bird appears persistently, it's not bringing good news.
hmmmm...yes. so i wasn't exactly elated to see this bejeweled winged creature this morning.
it made the wings flutter in my stomache.
he once again flew into the house and sat looking at me. his head cocked to the side. early this morning. oh bother. now what? who next, i warily thought.

please no. no.

this time around, to my deepest relief, it was The Fish. danu p's fish. he lived with us for two years. quietly. kept mostly to himself. he was a siamese fighting fish. a lonely little fellow. never quite got the hang of english. went by the name of aherm, bob. after my hideous trip into town, where i lost it in the bank because the man behind me in the queue kept stepping on my heel, we discovered bob had left us for more heavenly fresh water. at least this time we didn't have to dig a horse size grave, or a dog size one. just a really little one, amongst the grasses....the panga was a little over the top, i thought. a teaspoon spade would have done the job perfectly well.

it was a quick burial. and hardly solemn. many ribald songs were sung which sort of went like me and bob used to swim in the ocean even though he was a fresh water fish amen...and then everyone laughing loudly and thoughtlessly.... what are these people like? thought the visiting photographer. mama paka (the cat) was sited as main cause of death. bob had a slice under his throat.

as i said, not a tear was shed. heartless, the lot of them. flowers were bought to the graveside though. at least. teeny weeny little yellow ones. perfect for a little cherry red fish.....

and lovingly arranged upon his cold little body which wasn't as beautifully scarlet as before....

rest in peace bob. up on the windy ngorobobs. a little forgotten grave of a lonely warrior fish. he who had gone where no other siamese fighting fish had gone....

Kitchen Board: Monday: Sometime in July.

shopping done.
being monday.
but ouf, i need to get out of this town. . . very soon.
the traffic jams, the queues in the bank oh just everything.
thinking of beach. and beautiful book stores and coffee and highways.
anyway, thank god it was only bob who died today. thank god. godspeed bob.
so bestests, toodely toot...bisous X.X.X. little yellow wild flower ones...x j

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

things i know....

star scape by the indomitable, hugely talented, soon to be blogger dominic lever
i am serious. Do Not Steal. the stars belong To Me.

i am in one of those moments when i know i know absolutely Nothing about Anything. ( including anything to do with teaching A Level Literature and Language)
i know there is nothing fake about those stars above.

it's refreshing.

it so let's you off the hook.
most of the time.

take the internet for one. how on earth is it possible for me to speak to my sister and brother in law in sweaty singapore and me in polar bear invaded arusha tanzania? AND see them in a little video? how? ok. don't preach the oh der the underwater internet pipes, or anything clever like that, eh? i'm saying how Exactly Does It Work? i mean. wireless internet? how in Allah's name can you think all these things, type all these words and bingo? out it glitters into space amongst the stars. cell phones? i can type in a little message and send it across oceans in a tickie. our thoughts and words tumble intentionally across our dark star ridden skies...invisible lines must be tort. doesn't it freak you out? just a little? i mean, what's happening Out There? it sure must be busy. surely there are some repercussions? i mean, for godsakes, where are The Wires?

you see. soon we won't need to speak. we will be able to simply transfer our thoughts. direct them. immediately and absolutely. in the blink of an eye. literally. no screens or keyboards or anything. this will be a good thing. it will save us from ear cancer. it will make everyone more disciplined about their thinking. no idle dreamin', ya hear? because before you know it, it will lightening its way KAPHOEMP FLUMP UNT BLITZ CATAPAULTING. . .WOMP.
and you'll be blitzed.
you'll be seeing stars.

evenin' and greetings all round. lashings of apologies. talking garbeldy gook next to my coffee wood fire. (eco friendly, for anyone who might leap on any old tired band wagon). talking rubbish. quite possibly. whatever.

i had wanted to say how desperate this year will be. we have had very little rain. the national maize crop has failed. as far as you can see. maize stalks turning brittle. dry. yellow. dead. things are going to be devastatingly difficult for the majority of people. as if they aren't already. i despise and hate droughts. i am a farmer's daughter. i remember when my friends thought my father was an onion farmer. i remember no water.
next time dance harder people.

this time i am thinking ahead. this is unusual. me thinking ahead. call me hard arsed. call me african. (sic) call me whatever. i am so impressed with my planning ahead spurt. it would be politically incorrect to confess what this entails. i am presently buying a lot of hay.

we are having regular power cuts. i am assuming it's because there is not enough water to tumble through these big magic turbines on some large body of water somewhere north of here. and not because the Tanzanian Revenue Authority wanted to charge the Norwegians, who had donated, repeat donated, Saving Power Saving The Day Turbine Electric Generating Thingies, a large amount of import tax. so the Norwegians said, you know what? fuck you. and took The Power Generating Thingies back to Europe. this could be vicious gossip.

don't you hate it when people say, later or see you or i'll be seein' ya, and they don't mean it? they're just saying it? i do.
is this anal? compulsive obsessive?
say what you mean.
or remain silent.

i know that mars is going to be as large as the full moon on the 27th of august. the next time earth will be this close to mars is in 2738 years time. or something like that. it's a once in a lifetime, bestest beloveds. don't miss it.

i know that when my heart dips and flutters in my rib cage it means love. or fear.
i know it's written in the stars.

this i know.

Kitchen Board: Wednesday Evening. early july. winter. drought. tanzania. 2009.

oh yeah. it was my birthday a few days ago. my age numerically adds up to 7. not an easy number. no siree. perhaps this is why it was so, well, unexpected and extraordinary.

and carlos made me this lovely heart on the kitchen board. for my birthday.

around it is light and warmth. listed. in case i forget.

tooodely old toot, You. bisous, X.X.X. starry unknowing ones. x j

Friday, July 3, 2009

untitled ramble.

hardware vatican shop, kisongo.

i feel like i am in a movie.
with the best soundtrack in the world.
i sit on pause. smiling like mona lisa. side ways, ish.
ok. look. i can be in any movie i dream up. i can sit at tea parties (i never dreamt this up. i just really like cake and by some simple twist of fate, cracked the nod). i can say all the right things. i can entertain.
and boy can i eat an inordinate amount of cake. and even drink green tea. there wasn't any early grey as far as i could tell, in the little boxes, all labelled.
her cakes look like they have simply been removed from a picture and had a wand waved over them to make them real.
i am a useless cake maker.
i love eating cake.
i love eating. period.
fortunately my teeth are hampering this passion presently. i have another dental visit on monday. it was supposed to be today. but the dentist is on safari, apparently. anything to delay the hideousness is fine by me. go on holiday. do whatever it takes. just stay away from me as long as possible.

i'm officially on holidays now.
i should be leaping all about like rumpelstiltskin. if i rightly recall, he did a fair amount of leaping about, didn't he? when the queen had to hand over her baby. a forgotten promise. she was in a right pickle.

yes. hols. yes. i should be.
leaping about.
here i am. snugly ensconced next to a coffee wood fire in the hearth. almost in the hearth. and trying to think of something to say. in this latest movie.
just deny everything balders.
piper at the gates of dawn plays in the background and the coffee logs crack.
and she dreams on the hill. . .
dreams. no words.
so. bestest beloveds, best i be off then.
before i burst.
could be messy.
Kitchen Board: Friday: 3 july 09
don't you love an unlisted kitchen board? a fat smiling princess is all i need.
things i bought today: 5 cheap yo yo's which sparkle when they spin, like my heart, (2 already broken), 2 large bottles of bubbles, which left trails of irredescent majik all along the road behind us in mbauda, g and niamh, heads out window, wide laughter with missing teeth (1 spilt and finished), 6 packets of M & M's (5 finished 1 hidden in the cubbyhole of toyota for secret consumption when i can lose kids) 1 bottle of jameson's (three quarters full , a work in progress).
justin once bought footballs from shopright and they all popped in the car on the way home from the heat. last summer.
toodely old toot y'all....bisous, comme toujours, X.X.X dreamy lost ones x j.