Wednesday, August 26, 2009

on having all your cake. and the trimmings.

" have one's cake and eat it too or simply have one's cake and eat it (sometimes eat one's cake and have it too) is the instance of an individual consuming, exhausting, taking advantage of or using up a particular thing and, then, after that thing is gone or no longer reasonably available, still attempting to benefit from or use it. It may also indicate having or wanting more than one can handle or deserve, or trying to have two incompatible things. It is a popular English idiomatic proverb or figure of speech and is most often used negatively. The proverb's meaning is similar to the phrases, "you can't have it both ways" and "you can't have the best of both worlds."..." wikipedia

golly. what a conundrum, eh? i can tell you that niamh happily had and ate all her cake. jake didn't get anything. not even a crumb.

these days i have a nagging sunday evening going back to boarding school feeling. only a few more days of lush free time before it's back to the chalk board. white board whatever. honestly. i love what i do. but oh the gruelling routine. the tired mornings. getting everyone out the door. strategic military planning. being the cheerleader. rauss rauss. the rigours of the clock...ticking. can't be late...why not, i say? wtf not?

the kind of life we've been leading has been more on the dreamy side...wake up whenever, pancakes and wild honey for breakers over lazy cups of coffee, a late mid morning ride, idle shopping, nattering with buddies at msumbi coffee shop, wild and woolie safaris to where the wild things are, time to simply stare out the window.

be warned: i hate these sort of rebukes to any of my laments:

well. everybody has to work. hmmm. nope. not true. there are a few filthy rich bastards out there who have never had to lift a finger. who don't know the meaning of work. i'm not saying it's a good thing. but WHO said it?

well. you can't have your cake and eat it too, you know. again. who says?

everything has a price. there are lots of fish in the sea. maybe. but who wants an eel which bites? tell me. who? let's be particular, shall we?

you can't always get what you want.

bollox, i say. utter bollox.
it's yours for the taking, said george's dad as he rode out to slay the dragon.
i reckon you can have your cake and eat all of it. and the cherry on top along with the perfectly iced complicatedly clad christmas fairy on the top of the tree. snap that little sugar sparklin' halo off. yum.

i always eat the trimmings - the little perfectly carved radishes, the tomatoes carved into flowers, carrots like chinese fans, the little forests of parsely clinging to snowy mountains of mashed potatoes, the zenned out spring onions, the zig zag drizzle of chocolate sauce prettily decorating the edge, chocolate leaves, cherries.

one has to be careful these days, though. some restaurants use Plastic decorations. is this only a tanzanian thing or does this happen anywhere else in the world? i bet it happens in china. i bet you.

which reminds me there is a chocolate cake in the kitchen waiting to be eaten. i shall fight the children fiercely for it until it's entirely mine. and i shall eat it. all. eventually.

i once saw a vast sun yellow canvas slashed with red and violet, with a sort of red riding hood wolf theme....and written underneath in black wobbly writing was:

" i'm not your mother. i'm the big bad wolf."

Kitchen Board: Thursday Night: End of August and All Things Unhampered by Time.

watch this board fill up once school starts. watch this space.

oh i am sad the holidays are finished.

so toodely toot, y'all, bisous X.X.X. wistful polaroidy ones x j

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


the pink house is bulging at the seams. from all sorts of things. let's not talk about the termites just yet. bulging mostly from the hill children. everyone from the hill is here, except for niamh and oscar, because they went on a long road trip with their ma and pa. like a really really long one. all the way to south africa, via namibia. they're still driving, i guess. lara isn't here. because, well, she is still too little.

the line up: gabby clingy beetle doria (5) jasper (5) finley titan bell (3) daniel (12) rubin (10).
so it's been like hectic, my chinas. but wildly wonderfully this is life at its best (almost) hectic. i like a sprinkling, ok a summer storm, of chaos around me. i really do. it allows me to be messy too. but i'm an organized messy person. i know where my shit is in the pile. i mean at least i know where my pile is. unlike FIVE OTHER PEOPLE I KNOW AROUND THESE PARTS. like have i ever "lost" my shoes? ever? at least daniel is the same shoe size now. he "lost" my shoes. Wtf?
i like edgy. i feel particularly edgy tonight. i'm taking this as a good thing. obviously.

my friend sue said as we get older we should "go edgy". she was muttering on about styling her hair pixie style. she said my new frenchy tango high heels shoes were edgy. my new "retro" coat (present), sporting only three enormous moon white buttons (and perfectly placed darts), is also "edgy" i'll have you know. but you see, tonight, i would describe the kids bathroom as most definitely edgy. way edgy. like way over the edge.

as i said. i like edgy.
i walked out to start the generator. no tanesco tonight. but hey, what's new? i walked out into a brisk mercurial evening. all round. inside and out. my nose felt cold. a small plane flew over the hills. i knew it came from far away. you could just tell. and it was way late. it looked so brave against the dark, cold we shall be forced to camp sky. it's headlights shining bright. unwavering. coming home.

i thought, as the little plane droned hurriedly towards its descent and landing, in the dark,
"edgy. way edgy."

Kitchen Board: Wednesday Night: 19 august 9 (i think) 2009.
the board was empty tonight. completely. but i found this old image from a few weeks ago so i reckoned it was better than nothing. or a blank board, i reckon.
i think i did the stars. or maybe not.
toodely old toot y'all..bisous X.X.X. dark chocolate an' cherry ones... x j

Saturday, August 15, 2009


a week-end looms. and i feel oddly blue.

maybe i have a case of the PPD's (post piss up depression)? or let's nip it in the bud right here. bah.

our crazy little band of hill dwellers had a haphazard tent warming get together last night, for my spaghetti thin riding buddy, tati. it wasn't planned or anything. there were four of us and five wild children. and a sky full of stars and um, three bottles of champagne and a bottle of wine. and a general feeling of instability surrounding the small bowl of radishes, carrots and feta cheese. there was a vague consensus that the planets must be cartwheeling or something. although i've been told that that was ages ago. still. maybe things take longer to catch up here. oh who knows.

the wild things played sardines. finley (4) drank someone's entire mug of champagne. the wild things had piggy back races over an obstacle course around the tent (and the paraffin lamps) while we drank more and danced and laughed more. we made enough noise for at least sixty people. this was good. and spoke of frivolous things. well. damian and paul tried to talk about serious things like buildings and architecture and politics. i broke that up fast. we decided the factory lights looked like fallen stars and that i was flushed with love, life and all things good. i can assure you, oh bestest beloveds, this morning it's as drab as anything.
and i can hear my heart rattling in my bone brittle skeleton.

godsakes. so. in order to chase the lurking black dog i have murkily decided to pluck us hence from these grey hills and head to the club where apparently there is a seven a side rugby afternoon going on....last time we went to watch the cricket. when the batting team lost their temper and refused to carry on with play. it was delightfully shocking and eye brow raising bad sportsmanship. i was desperately wanting a punch up, after the caught batsman threw down his bat and cursed the umpire in excellent swahili. but no. everyone managed to keep it together. buggar. anyway. yes. this grey cold afternoon. yes. the wild things can romp around the field and i shall attempt to make a single solid connection with at least one person. instead of staring out to the distant horizon with a head full of floaty notions.

this sense of terrible discombobulation is well, terrible. terribly lovely. terribly unsettling. terribly devastating. beautifully and dangerously ungrounded. dis-connection moving into something separate and surreal. it's like someone just cut my string and i am a loose kite. a free kite.

and the unpredictable wind's picking up....whoa. . .

Kitchen Board: a blustery grey cold saturday afternoon, 15 august 2009: 14:18HRS and counting.

will grab milo and fatty milk from mohammeds. small fish are coming from kisongo. . .
toodely oh toodely, bestests. bisous X.X.X soft icy ones on a warm neck. x j

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

natron thoughts...

we have recently returned from where the wild things are. well. actually, aren't. or not very many of them at any rate. we have been to wide open spaces - where dreams are richer and deeper, where you have space and time to dwell unconsciously on Random Things, ponder by accident on Important (or unimportant depending on who you are)Things, trip over surprising Heart Things, think marvelously about Any Things. and there are fresh spaces in between your thoughts, where the horizons are so wide.

where you feel very little and small in many ways.
we have been to a flat wild windy fiercely hot place called lake natron. where the wind tears at your hair and the dust crowds your eyes. (unless you were wearing a pair of superb dust goggles and a dashing scarf).

and you wish you had wings. your body feels so heavy you could leave it behind in a flash. you could do or be anything out there. anything.
lake natron is a flat soda lake, where the flamingos stain faded pink ink veins across a two tone sepia landscape. dominating the sky line is oldonyo lengai, an active volcano....with a great rugged rocky heart emblazoned on her chest. the land is flat and dusty and layered in ash and not much grass, scattered with bovine skeletons. only the dogs are fat, from feasting on dead herds. everything is shockingly stark. so close to nothing.

people. we have so much of everything.
when you stand out there, you're not sure where the earth ends and the sky begins. you're not sure where you begin or end.

we struck camp under a few fig trees next to the only river for hundreds of miles. my hatred for camping dissipated as fast as the river which tumbled startlingly with a determined fury to get to the end. we slowly picked our way up a black volcanic gorge to marvel at the water tumbling with breath stealing force down hundreds of feet, stinging our backs and heads. the wind howled around the corners, snatched hats and spat them into the river. and if you looked up to the top of the cliffs, your feet became itchy underneath and your tummy swirled giddy with vertigo. like when i used to climb the roof when i was little. when i wasn't allowed to.

everything is magnetic. it was well, perfectly dreamy. until carlos thought he had swallowed his tooth. it was definitely missing. something has to give in such a sacred place. it turns out carlos never swallowed his tooth. the water fall did. thank christ it wasn't mine.

in the late afternoons, we drove down to the lake shore, dust goggles donned, scarves flying, twisting with the dust devils spiralling around us. we drank warm melon juice and vodka after the sun had dipped and the world shone like mercury.

the lake shrouded itself in silver mirage scarves tasseled pink with flamingos. carlos flew his kite and displayed an enviable patience and tolerance in teaching everyone how to fly the bloody thing. well. he did work for Green Peace for a long time, you know.

of course, i was best. at kite flying and impressed everyone with my staying power. in that i was the only person whom we were sure the wind couldn't actually lift and carry away over the flat white shadowless soda earth to Never Never Land. which crackled and snapped under our bare feet.

in the dead white heat of day, we flaked out under the dappled purple shade of the fig trees, listening to the roar of the river, the distant bells of the maasai cattle as they stumbled over the volcanic rocks from the dusty bald ashened hills. and the kids fighting over a game of cheat or the hammock. until i smacked one on the leg. "ow. that hurt". and me immediately overcome with shame but still said, "it meant to hurt." and immediately felt like The Most Worstest Mother On The Entire Blinking Twinkling Baking Planet.

but, it must be said, the world went back to tinkling cow bells lingering on heat waves and a head full of enchanting thoughts and sleep. . . . .

Kitchen Board: Wednesday August The 12th 2009
kitchen board schmitchen board...

you don't need one when you have a kitchen like this....

all you need is love love love and bananas. red ones. they're waiting for ya....
toodely pip, y'all and bisous X.X.X. rollin' tumbleweed ones x j

ps: just in case you're thinking.... it's always delicious to be back home on the hill, in the little pink house perched on the ngorobob hill, in my own bed, with a window full of stars. . .

Monday, August 3, 2009

immigration laws, clingy beetles and thangs...

this is the fourth time i have sat down to write.
and words just escape me....honestly. this time i am going to splurdge. is that a wordge?
i used to have so much to tell you about life in the little wind battered pink house on the hill. . .
these days it's all well, murky. non-descript. the usual suspects.

someone died at the bottom of the hill. the old man in the second house on the corner. you would always see him drunk as a lord on any day of the week. he fell under his tractor. and that was that. his funeral was on sunday. i didn't attend. i didn't know him. he left a wife and two children and not much else. desperate times.

i have been keeping busy by:

1. ignoring the tsunami amount of school work i should be preparing. although i have been persuing ngugi wa thiongo's book "Decolonising The Mind". to help prepare myself for my course i shall be teaching. all very heavy. this was the last book he wrote in english - which he calls the imperialist language. the rest of his books he wrote in gikuyu (and it IS with a "g" because mr wa thiongo writes it with a "g") , his native tongue. he writes that during the colonial times, people were dislocated from their language, which means that they were dislocated from their culture. . .and they were. and still are.
when he started school he learnt in gikuyu. when the colonial bastards took over, everyone was forced to learn in english. gikuyu was banned. in the morning one child was given a button. if she/he heard anyone speaking any kenyan language apart from english, the button was passed on. at the end of the day whoever held the button had to say who he received the button from until all rule breakers were discovered. and then received lashings from the cane or some other form of brutal corporal punishment. they were taught to witch hunt amongst themselves and to dismiss their language as a thing of the past, as a lesser language, as a "wrong" language. that's where i'm up to. oh and a lot about empowering the peasants along very passe marxist lines. but the thing is, you can't dismiss what the man professes. it's all spot on true. and his words are unwaveringly elegant and erudite. i just wish that pure marxism would evolve into something more applicable and workable. i am trying my best at learning swahili although i suspect we should all be learning mandarin. sod english, eh?

2. riding horses. across mr popadopalis's flower farm - which hasn't been as prolific this year because of the hideous lack of rain. usually its like you've been dropped into a painter's palette. splodges of colour as far as you can see. not this year. in fact the view from the hill is bleak. dry and crisp and yellow turning brown. we are starting to buy water for the hill now because the tanks are empty. depressing. so i won't dwell here. no no.

3. making coffee wood fires in the hearth - because it has been bliksom cold in the evenings. i love spending my evenings here. a bottle of jamesons within arms reach, a good movie, my lap top for in between movies, a pile of beautiful coffee wood, burning themselves into animal shapes, twisted and magical, and the wind blowing outside, with a star smudged sky. yeah. it's cosy and a highlight of my day. i never feel alone on these nights. i only feel alone when i have to go to bed. when i walk through the very quiet house, switching off all the lights, listening to the wind rattling the tin roof, and hearing my steps on the creaky stairway up to my loft bedroom. i jump into bed, switch the lamp off and feel incredibly lucky when i see the half moon perfectly postioned in the little attic window. true and lonely.

4. penning new songs. ok. truth be told. i have penned 2 new songs. but that's enough for now. i officially have enough for a new album. i now need to play play play.....let them all settle...hear them in my sleep. i am not playing enough. and i also worry about the one song being played entirely in D major and variations thereof......? is that possible? isn't it too mundane? oh well. there it is. "...i know it's completely crazy / i know it's ridiculously wild, child / i know if wishes were horses / i know beggars would ride / but still / ooooooo..."

5. raising children. god and they are In My Face. i know all the older people shake their heads, smile slowly and sagely advise," oh you'll miss them when they're gone. enjoy them while they're around." and i know they're right...but every 5 seconds its ma this and ma that or a full blown fight. boarding school has been mentioned with alarming regularity. i pleaded with third and last born, "darling, can you just stop being so clingy?" as i disentangled myself from her sticky, candy smelling embrace. she held my face in both her little fat hands, stared into my eyes and said, "oh mummy, i can't help being like a clingy beetle because i love you sooooooooooooo much." what's a girl's heart to do? melt melt can be my clingy beetle any day. my heart bursts to have its own clingy beetle.

6. worrying about my parents. well, my dad and my step mother. they are in a terrible pickle. and need help. i might very well have to fly down and see them. nothing to do with relationship but everything to do with bad business decisions. enough said. i find it all scary and overwhelming. but unavoidable. oooergh. yes. "lets face the music and dance."

7. being persistantly perplexed and disillusioned with the tanzanian government. it has increased all work permit fees by about 100% or more. a work permit used to cost US$ 1500 every two years. it has now been raised to US$ 3050. all dependants on work permits, of which we have three, have to pay US$ 500 each to be here. all non-citizens have to pay through their noses to live and work here. but if you're a peasant (no definition here) you only have to pay US$ 50 every year. i want to know how i can be a foreign zambian peasant. all ideas welcome. should i start dressing like a medieval milk maid? and on top of this, all foreigners have to pay a special tax to be here which is 6% of your salary - thats over and above all your regular taxes. just because you aren't tanzanian. wouldn't it make you feel you aren't wanted? wouldn't this all make you feel that you should really just leave? i don't know. either i must become a foreign peasant or find sunnier shores to wile away my time. a place you can feel welcome and a part of... not always being stung by ridiculous amounts of money just to live somewhere. sometimes i hate being a white african. a muzungu. constantly paying for the sins of our fathers. i'm just saying....

there ain't much i can do about it. but there is only so much you can take.

other than that, things are perky as ever up on the hill. same same sugar same.

catch me if you can....

Kitchen Board: Monday Morning: 3 August 2009

the board was bland and empty so vero and eliza and "clingy beetle" filled the space with light, laughter and colour instead. shopping was blitzed this morning. phew.

so toooodely ole toodle then, oh bestest beloveds..bisous X.X.X. tender crispy winter ones, x j.