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 ghosts...it'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 http://fleeingmuses.blogspot.com/2009/07/root-of-all-evil.html) 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.

27 comments:

tam said...

good luck. i really mean it. it will be ok. just take yourself to another place. a safe place. oh god. THATS the bloody poInt, you can't do that when its in YOUR head!!!

Strength. I will be thinking of you.
xxx

Bee said...

Have you ever read William Faulkner? I don't know if it was the picture of the dead cow, the description of the road trip, or the useless generator being hoisted onto the boat but it all reminded me of As I Lay Dying. Also The Piano, come to think of it. Not that your story isn't original! But just that your life has an epic quality to it.

I love the way you cleverly highlighted the yellows.

family affairs said...

I LOVE those pictures that just have yellow - those lemons - how amazing - how did you do that - is that photoshop? FAB photos and great that you've been lyrically inspired Lx

Mud in the City said...

Lulu's right - LOVE the clever colour trick and the photo of the horse - beautiful!!

I meant to ask before - how can I get hold of some of your music? If it is anything like your writing I know I'd love it!

Bill Stankus said...

I'm still asking, "Are we there yet?"

Janelle said...

ah tam thanks darlin'!. yes. woke up this morning. going for a run. and just well, longing, yearning for that beautiful nerve root pain. . . xxxj

thank-you bee. i have read Faulkner but not that one. and nope. i have not read The Piano. but i heard the movie was beautiful. yes. i loved those yellow lemons too...after all those boiled eggs..! X J

thanks lulu. picassa did those tricks! xx j

hey mud. thanks darlin'. ho hum. am outta first CD right now. could email you it in bits and bobs? the second album will be better though..more accoustic....starting to work on it on friday...but it will take ages to complete...xxx j

heh heh bill....NO! we're not ok?? have another boiled egg... x j

Lori ann said...

such beautiful photos and words. i'm so sorry to hear the generator didn't work after all that effort, but glad to hear you were suitably inspired to write those songs.
the ocean is a living giving thing isn't it?
lots of love,
lori

Janelle said...

hey lori...yeah. love love love the sea. xxx j

Angela said...

My dentist just called me on the phone and we giggled a bit, like usual. I wish I could send you to him! If you can cross pontoon-less waters, maybe you can come to Hamburg? And then you could bring me your music CD, too! I want one, remember? Love your stories, Janelli. Good luck with YOUR dentist. Stand on your head a little before. It will make you calm and relaxed, snigger.

Dumdad said...

Brilliant blogpost, comme d'habitude. Oh I do like to be beside the seaside too. One day I'll live by the sea, away from the city. One day.

Word veri: garrg. Is that the sound you make when swilling that brandy?

Janelle said...

ah geli your dentist sounds like heaven. acutally just back and it was All Fine...for now...lets see..until the injection wears off....hooah. i know i know you want my music...MUST make a plan..have run out of CD's....!???? i haven;t forgotten. promise..xx j

eh THANKS DD....you should come live in pangani then. its miles from any town and an empty beach and you could live on fish and coconuts...garrg. indeed..swilling brandy...just back...numb and fluffy mouthed....lets see....X j

em for mighty said...

god that sounds like fun!

karen said...

what an amazing journey with generator! the things you do...and your stories bring back such memories of travelling with young kids, they are all the same! glad to hear via comments that the dentist was not so bad!

Miranda said...

So I'm curious, were you transporting the generator for someone or was it for you to use? Great post and pics xxxx. Home soon....

Janelle said...

now miranda! surely you know me better than this.,..would i honestly lug an 171 kg generator around for use at The Beach!!!!??? no. a few candles and a bonfire on the beach would suffice...you're forgiven because you've just had a baby and obviously still recovering from porridge brain syndrom... annette asked my to bring a few things down to coast for her...a little envelope with some money in and a, aherm, GENERATOR..oh its a small one she said. it'll fit in your car....

SafariB said...

J.. man... pleeeeese write a book girl! man this is priceless.

Lori ann said...

janelle,

i'll make angela a copy and send it to her, no problem ☺

Janelle said...

aw shucks thanks B! j xxx

oh lori ann that would be deeply appreciated...i don;t have any more copies....need to burn more...just a matter of finding the time to trek out to habari maalum...on the OTHER side of the mountain XXX j

Tessa said...

Hmmmmm, listening to Dust Angels right now (burned copy before handing over to music person daughter) so very appropriate that I visit Ngorobob while tapping my toe to this sweet sound.

Eh, banaangi...brings back memories. African beach, dead things, luminious loveliness, solitude...

Good luck on tooth day.

Janelle said...

hey tess! thanks for your lovely comment...and thanks for loving the music...! yeah panagani rocks. no where else like it in the world for peace, solitude and er, dead things washed up!? i love the way the sea coughs it all back...xxx

Chimera said...

WONDEFUL post. I loved the photos but its your ability to evoke such vibrant images and sensations that thrills..marvellous. And best of luck for the dentist. Courage!
T xxxx

Reya Mellicker said...

You are such a hero, bravely packing the children and the huge generator and taking off on an epic journey like you did.

As for whether or not it worked, well, that's another story.

I'm reading a long New Yorker article about a guy who drove across Siberia. It's a different land but somehow your stories mesh together.

Can't WAIT to hear the new songs!

Janelle said...

why thank-you reya and tanvir! eesh siberia sounds outrageous! love ya both x j

http://reluctantmemsahib.wordpress.com said...

your words are always lovely. your new photo editing is superb. love it. well done x

Elizabeth said...

How did I miss reading this adventure til now?
A treat for a
Sunday morning.
Curse the generator.
Loved the description of medicine/pillow/small child...

yes, green pink and blue with envy over YELLOW in generator pics.
Evil generator indeed.
Deserves to be yellow

As per dentists, mine is the glorious Brian Rubenstein in suburban Long Island -land of gleaming fangs. The only place I get high nowadays. Almost make going there worth it.

Why is the word verification:
probb?
too much like probe for me.

much love

Val said...

another fabulous blog post - reading yours is like dream time - i just love it :-)
cant wait for the new music! can i make copy of yours and send back the original so you can cut more? its so very cool and should be widely heardx
love love the photos too - just didnt want the story to end. glad you are back safe xx

Janelle said...

thanks darlin'anthea, elizabeth and val...your poetry anthea! love it. oh val just keep your copy, its ok.i have the chrome....but just a matter of getting more made.the thing is i have to get a minimum of 300 done...and then am left with them all sitting in my house! lots love to you all xxx j