Thursday, September 24, 2009

firecracker .....

life on the hill is brittle right now.

as in dry dry dry. snappy.

as in my lips are constantly chapped. peely.

as in constant crackliness.

as in alarming growth rate in crows feet around my eyes.
as in don't be careless with fire.

droughts are just not funny. not in the teeniest littlest way.
droughts are unemotional haunting unamused unselective skeletal killers.
armies of skeletons ridin' black hosses 'cross the plains.
i don't want to be a weather bore ( or a children bore or a horse bore or a plain bore.)
swifly moving on.

i had to go to a funeral today. to gisella's funeral. she was legendary. she left war torn germany when she was 16. she met and married her first husband, a dashing handsome mauritian who immediately whisked her out to a wild and wooly lake rukwa in tanganyika where he hunted crocodiles for their skins. she told me once that he would spend all the money on fast sports cars then crash them en route to dar es salaam. she had three husbands and five children and thought nothing of letting children eat more chocolate than you can shake a stick at BEFORE lunch. i am not very good at funerals. i don't like them and they always make me feel sad. this time i was fine, until i went to throw roses into her grave and i saw her childrens broken faces. . . it's horrible saying good bye to your mother. horrible.

i can't remember his name. but there is a lovely man who lives down in the valley below. he has lived in london and new york and run restaurants in the capital of israel and probably in the capital of france too. his grandfather fought the nazis (for the russians) and was in a POW camp, (probably auschwitz) and drank vodka everyday. after the ordeal, of course. he recounted these tales over a few espressos at my favourite coffee shop in town, misumbi coffee shop (best coffee served on the planet, by the way) five cigarettes later he said he couldn't understand how anyone here could say they were stressed. or that they were busy. he says we don't know the meaning of stress. for him apparently it's like being on holiday all the time. he is in The Security Business. And Israeli. i'm just sayin'.

he paid for my espressos. which i thought terribly kind.

but honestly it is. stressy and BUSY. and well, full. to the brim. to the edge. to where you're either going to burst into cracks and love. or catch on fire. i have resorted to stiff vodkas and orange most evenings.

although not tonight. not tonight. i am tired and sad. and the vodka is finished. so that's the end of that little problem.

school is intense. teaching is like being on stage for 7 hours a day. but without feather boas, diamonds, fuschia lipsticks and dressing room light bulb framed mirrors. but you do get to meet people like say, PK, who can't string (as in write) a sentence together but is the smartest kid on the block. he draws The Periodic Table during library time sayin' " gaad, this is goin' to take me aaaages to finish....shoooo."
he said This the other day:

" i live to kayak. if i can't kayak i shall rip my heart from my chest and feed it, feed it to the wolves which roam around my house..."
there aren't any wolves. as far as i know. keep kayakin' darlin', i say. for godsakes. he lives down the road. there are striped hyena, though. you usually see them as road kills on the way down to mohammeds. pk ain't no ninkanpoop. no siree.

i take to the saddle most afternoons and of late, walk to the tippy top of the hill every evening; just as the electricity predictably blinks off (yes. as darkness falls someone turns all the lights off in tanzania.) and the sun lazily sinks behind monduli mountains. the dogs leap and dance around me. rootin' around in the undergrowth. i march. the wind whistling in my ears, my hair whipping my face. i march with music in my ears right until the top. and my. how the world lies flung wildly below me, taking my breath with it. there are always surprises at the top. usually there is at least one augur buzzard or a lannar falcon, slicing the last winds of the day. but yesterday, with js bach and M83 dominating my world, there, high above me, lazily floating on the sky currents was a PELICAN. yes. a PELICAN. he was obviously looking for greener pastures. they're hard to come by these days. i think he'll find that the grass is as brown and tinder dry this side too.

i spied a shooting star monday night. not just any old one. a HUGE blazing ball of light hurling its way across the crest of the ngorobobs - bravely fat, pulling a raging tail of red and green brimstone behind it. of course i made a wish.


sometimes things just sidewind you.

Kitchen Board: windy friday night: late september longing for rain 09.

there is something that i will never ever be able to do gracefully.

carve a roast chicken. i fervently maul 'em.

just thought i'd share that with y'all.

toodely pippety ole toot, oh bestests, bis X.X.X. sad lingering ones x j


Friday, September 11, 2009

flyin' high...

this is not the sort of thing you like to read in an aeroplane when you're about to do a lollypop flight in a cessna caravan around the highest single standing mountain in the world. i mean, little aeroplanes and tallest mountains aren't two things which should go together. usually. and if they are going to meet, then surely external position data should be, well, at least Valid?
it was a relief when the propellers starting spinning that the invalid thingymajig blinked off and other little obviously relevant signs flashed up.

first born turned 13 today. he is an official teenager. his present was a flight around kilimanjaro. what happened to a fishing rod, a jar of tadpoles and pass the parcel, one might ask? anyway. i never say no to any flights of any sorts. he was allowed to invite five pals along.

i know what you're thinking. i thought it too. imagine if this plane flies into the mountain? it'd be all of us gone in a flash. and everyone else's kids too. i repeated my hail marys on take off. i always do. i've even been known to clap on landing. along with all the indians and italians. and my kids sitting with their heads inside my handbag.

it was perfect flying weather. a dreamy indian summer afternoon. l, the little french pilot demonstrated how to use the oxygen masks. we were going to be that high. in a very little plane. d the other pilot said that if he spoke french and l started speaking afrikaans, i would know they were short on oxygen. jeez. jokes all 'round. rah rah. chortle chortle.
(the big looming blob on the LHS of the screen is mt kilimanjaro and the little blob near the plane is mt meru. again. not a little mountain. it looks awfully close, don't you think?)

away we soared up and up and up and up and bloody up. i had my ipod firmly plugged in. always good to die with music in your ears. and even better, to live with music in your ears. and up we went until there, just above the clouds we spied her peak. kilimanjaro.
everyone had oxygen masks on at this point. everyone was all eyes and breath. we were close so close. and so high. our little plane looked so brave on the gps map. so brave and so little. as we edged closer. and closer. and higher.
until we reached so high my ipod froze and refused to didn't matter.
what lay below me, next to me, what seemed a breath away from me, was more than enough. and i can tell you, there really really isn't much snow left on the top of kilimanjaro, people. the glaciers lie shattered and wrecked yet enormous and old and magnificent. the desert is dark, foreboding and unforgiving. i will never climb that mountain.

and there we are. slap bang on top of the mountain. brave, little and flyin' high....
not a bad friday arvie, eh? i'm sure i wouldn't forget turning 13 if was danu pops. no. i'm sure i wouldn't.
the kilimanjaro winds rattle my windows tonight, the ngorobob hill small. and flying dreams shall surely take me tonight. surely.
toodely old pip, y'all. bisous X.X.X. flyin' ones x j

Sunday, September 6, 2009

cowgirl dreamin'

you know it's been a good week-end when sunday night rolls in and your finger tips have tough little callouses from steel guitar strings and the top left hand corner of your right hand thumb nail has a black smudge from strummin'. your legs have a deliciously tired ache from ridin' hosses and your voice is a little whispery from too much singin', talkin', smokin' and tequilla. yeah. i guess it's been a good week-end.

the socks ruffled 'round my ankles need a hasty pulling up to my knees, ready for monday.

friday night: "Parents Welcome Evening" chez ecole. i dress in black and paint my lips bright red, scaring my kids and anyone else i zoom in to kiss. i left a trail of bright red lip marks on random cheeks. (i wasn't kissing parents, you understand) parents diligently sought me out though, already wanting a low down after only one wobbly week of teaching their little darlings. i mean, what can one say after one week? not much. oh yes. he could be a genius but then again, maybe not. maybe not. i stuck by the rules and stayed off the hooch. i drank one red bull to keep me awake and smoked one cigarette behind the bougainvillea bush.

the moon rose and i left for band practice at tom's fruit factory, bouncing down rutted roads in the old land rover, carefully circumnavigating wee hedgehogs scuttling across my tracks, under the rudely beautiful light of the bald moon, my guitar propped up next to me in the passenger seat and me thinking unusually wild and windy thoughts. i love driving at night down sandy tracks when the moon is out, my window open and the smell of grass and dust and night.
the fruit factory isn't what you think it is. peaches and pears perfectly created by machines and robots. oh no. it's a little quaint building in the middle of a fever tree forest twinkling with stars and the rippling calls of nightjars, where tom and india dry fruit in nifty wooden boxes. the room smells of apricots and summer. we've renamed the band Side B. well. things have changed, haven't they? i drove home late, when the music was done, the moon was low in the west and my mind a hummin' hive of bees, notes, scribbled words and peelings of love.

saturday night: the gig. at a private house, which had twinkly lights strung over acacias, a fire blazing on the lawn, a bar heavy with hooch and a crowd wide eyed and expectant. a glossy magazine party. last night i was, naturally, terrified but swiftly remedied this with gulps of fine tequila. it's always worked for me. firewater. i sang my heart out and even ventured to lift my eyes and smile. i couldn't hear a blasted thing. the monitor decided to be a bastard and not work. heaven knows what we sounded like....i have a vague recollection of the road home. through the karongo. where one dark night i am sure the banditos will be waiting.

sunday past below me in a cloud of dust whilst i cosied up with my writing pal in her little stilted tented abode, nestled underneath the western slopes of mt meru with gobsmacking views across maasailand, sipping minted vodkas, idly watching auger buzzards hanging on the wind and putting the world to right. fiercely and truly. n stringing together clever little analogies of love and shopping: window shopping and walking on, or actually going in to look and try and then, ouf, if the shoe fits then, well, you can buy them or balk at the price, hand them back and swiftly walk on down the road without looking back. she raised her pretty eyebrow and said, "everything has a price, you know." my eyes became round and owl like and i was quiet for a little while.

she's off to paris next week.

and this cowgal's off to bed. with the wind rattling the tin roof and the moon sadly and sweetly framed in her attic window...

even cowgirls get the blues. sometimes. even cowgirls.
Kitchen Board: Sunday Night: early september. 09.

see ya 'round like rissoles.
toodely ole toot, y'all. bisous X.X.X. luscious red lipped ones, x. j

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

fishy. . .

(a pam ghurs carr painting)

life in the wee pink house has become regimented. shockingly regimented. yes. that's it. i think i am in shock.

school has started.

i now wake up at the ungodly hour of six thirty. and then sort of shock myself into a levitated position, about a meter above my bed, before i stumble out the net, mumbling all sorts of curses. narrowly missing stomping my toe against the stairs. and throw on pin stripes and pearls. with my takkies. as my brain audiably chugs into life, throwing out a million things to remember at once. along with a pretty tendril of smoke from an ear or two.

not good. not good.

i have been neglecting my daily little gratitude ritual. which goes like this:

open eyes to a soft dove grey light. a blurry light. i am awake. i think. yes. i am. i lie still, not moving a muscle. a lash. sometimes i curl over to my right and find my little silk piece of silver satin, smooth as water (called a lala. don't ask.) which i rub against my cheek. i throw a hand over the edge of the bed and blindly feel for my phone, knocking yesterdays earrings into the cracks of the floor and try and focus on the time. this can take a while. reading the time.
after messily staggering off the bed i fall through the mosquito net. i stare out of the window, look longingly at the mountains and southwards over the maasai steppes. i pointedly ignore the factory, appreciate the skies and the tiny deep red desert rose below my window. in a wee while i start remembering all the things for which i am deeply thankful. the list grows as i go along. and grows. uncurling itself like a sun warmed snake. so by the time i carefully and lightly wind my way down the spiral stair case, i feel well, like an incredibly lucky, lucky, lucky little fish.

this is a good feeling. and i want it back.

something is up in Bloggy World tonight. the font is cunningly and ever so slightly not the same. i don't seem to be able to see the posted picture. it appears as lines of secret printed codes. bold and italics are being tricky little upstarts and refuse to do what they are asked to do.

it's all a little odd. do you think wordpress has sent little gobbling aliens?

in which case, i shan't be posting the kitchen board.

so you won't know, oh bestest beloveds, that we need:

de worming dawa for the dogs
to fix the bearcroft gate post
to mend the fence on the upper paddock
to mend the gate to the schooling arena.

and other such rivotting things.

i hope the handsome blogger fix it man has his spanners out and is wearing a crisp navy blue overall rounded off with squeaky clean gumboots. and a shiny silver space age gun to detonate any wordpress invaders. i sure hope it's him doing some maintenance to our sparkly spinning blogging planet and its not our tanzanian network - which i am now convinced consists of an intricate web of fish line and tins. . .

this could get complicated.

even for an ever so lucky fish like me.

toodely ole toot, y'all...bisous X.X.X. fishy ones. on ya nose. x j