Thursday, January 28, 2010

ngorobob summer

i think you know everything about the hill now. well nearly everything. almost.

how the winds scream off kilimanjaro in the winter, the droughts, how the rain batters the little pink house in the summer so i have to run in between the attic windows with buckets and a cold box to catch the leaks which change depending on the direction of the wind; the black jagged mountain, the horses and the angle of the moon, how she slides over the hill, dragging the stars behind her. the rainbows. . . the flies. . .the moon on the warm flag stones in the courtyard.

yes. i think you nearly know it all by now. how it becomes unbearably hot between the short rains and the long rains. the still nights twinkling with crickets. and the barely perceptible wind-
its warm fingers twirling the end of your hair, touching your sweaty cheek, and ruffling the horse's mane. when its so hot it's best to ride after six, gallop up Bakers Hill, and watch the ember glow of a day way below you. the world spinning all around you. and i can be queen of the castle and you're the dirty rotten bah and humbug rascal. and all you can do is sigh.

but what you don't know is that lucas, our neighbour, the man with the long maize field next to our shamba (small plot of land) said that our horses had been eating his maize. no they haven't, i said. oh yes they have, he said. only one way to find out. let's ask mwali, the groom. he says of course it wasn't our horses, it was mzee william's cows. mzee william said of course it wasn't his cows. it was your horses, lucas insisted. i saw their tracks and their droppings, lucas said. well. maybe, i mused watching a bee in the lavender, but maybe it was the donkeys from the bottom of the hill? maybe? you never know. and you don't know that the little colt has been broken in and i have ridden him.

what you don't know is that different mosquitoes give you different itchies. no two are the same. you'll see.

what you don't know is that this evening in the late twilight, i found a little glow worm in between the cracks in the wall, blinking under an almost full moon in the courtyard and i still think they're magic and want to sleep in a jar ( a very large one, of course) full of them. weird, i know. "just put your feet down, child, because you're all grown up now," i hear in my head.

what you don't know is that sometimes i feel i could burst out of my skin and leave it blowing in the wind. and be gone in a flash. in a breath. i feel that alive.

and that's a fact.
toodely toot, y'all, and bisous X.X.X. warm flagstones under the summer moon ones. hooah. x j

Saturday, January 16, 2010

ridin' high.

this cowgirl is back on her horse.

she has remembered how joyous it is to trot and canter across the black cotton plains, with donkeys following her, the shrill greetings from the maasai women telling her to go faster and faster, the warm wind in her hair and the smell of horse. and gun powder. (ok. scratch that one out. but just pretend, ok?) yes. she has remembered this.

oh my. how simply sweet and beautiful life can be.

right. back to real life.

i have been a taxi mom the entire week-end. and it's not over yet. when one makes these sort of committments, it's best done with music in your ears so you can't hear the " that's my place" "give it back!" "thump!" "waah". every now and then you have to do a blind swipe into the back seat hoping to connect with anyone really. they're all involved you see. if this doesn't work then you have to actually unplug, stop the car, turn round and shout "WILL YOU ALL JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP! christ." this used to work. now everyone just stares back blandly and sort of mumbles "ag sorry ma." and we carry on.

so, this week-end first born is with the christians. i think he has actually gone to church this morning. i hope he knows what to do and behaves appropriately. i know the others don't.
first born RHS.

second born is with the rwandans down in njiro. miles the other side of town. both parents were in hotel mille collines during the genocide, hiding from massacre and managed to escape to belgium. second born is best friends with their son. i received an sms from the dad a few minutes ago saying "Morning. They want to continue to play. Your son is very kind. Nice day. Francois." oh how my heart swells.

third born went to a hindu princess party. in full regalia. smelling of pink icing, channel no. 19, nylon, dust pink marshmellows, stiff lace and all things sugary and sweet. of course i couldn't find the house. was forced to unplug and grouch "but you've been here before!? obviously you have NO idea...sigh sigh...." until niamh spotted the gardener hanging three pretty white balloons on a gate. third born returned home all sticky and high on sugar. then passed out on the couch, dreaming hindu princess dreams, while i drank wine with my spaghetti thing riding pal, tati, and spoke of love and other such things.

driving home yesterday, plugged into transporting music ( . this should make you want to cry and cover you with goosies. if it doesn't then there has to be something wrong with you.) , i thought what a wonderful thing it is for the children to be so culturally at ease - how good it is that their world is so varied and extraordinary. even if it means i have to take on hour long traffic jams in the process. the music suspends you above the jam. above the world. stops you from throwing The Finger left right and center. stops you from shouting " you stupid *()&^%$ ^$&*!" and other similar pleasantries. music makes me think of things more pertinent. when you're plugged into music, the crazy mad world around you melts into a movie. and everything is fine. just fine. just.

sunday bakes outside my window. shimmering and hazy with the rain from yesterday. cicadas swallows wild flowers. a smudgy world full of potential, of things unspoken and undone. sometimes i think i can hear the grass growing. in the early hours of the morning. when the owl sits on my roof hooting in a rainy grey dawn. i hear him scratching on the tin roof. i love it that he is my alarm clock. i think it magical. most people around here don't. if an owl sits on your roof, with the alarming regularity that this ones does, it means someone in the house will die. nice.

it's sunday. and summer. and my heart is full and overflowing. unusually so, all things considered. it being sunday and all and my regular owl visitor.

full heart box to be ticked at 6 this evening.

so toodely bestest blogging babies. bisous X . X. X. hot sunday summer ones x j

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

spun out. . .

it's tuesday. but it feels like sunday.
i have the same feeling. whoever heard of the tuesday blues?
me neither.

this feeling is not a dancing one. i wish it was. i wish it was. perhaps it's just the usual case of PPD's (post piss up depression). too much chocolate box. (this is a fine fine wine oh best beloveds. no headache in the morning. it's marvelously miraculous)
it's like an "i want my mummy" feeling. i'm 40 something for godsakes....

i'm already back at school. but at least we had a day off....the 12th of jan is a public holiday in tanzania because of Zanzibar Revolution Day, the day when lots of arabs were rounded up and killed by the revolutionaries of the African Sharazi Party. literally herded into the sea one fine day. if you're faintly interested, there is some alarming footage of this event, which happened on the 12th of January, 1964 - not that long ago - in a film called Africa Adieu, a deeply disturbing documentary. it's best watched in italian with english sub titles.

so thanks to this terrible day, we get a tuesday off. god is great. and works in the weirdest ways. tricky tricky little god.

life on the hill is sweet and green and smudgy. i still haven't quite settled back in with authority. with alacrity. with entire presence. the holidays snatched this quite away. i'm stunned rather. something in the air knows. the weather is being perfectly seductive. the views are trying their best to convince me that this is where i should be. little magics twirl on the rain wind, tugging at me. you see, i wanted to tell you about this:

and this:

and this:

but i am speechless. so these will have to do for now.
until i find my feet and my words again.
so, until then, toodely old toot, oh bestests, X.X.X truly madly deeply. x j

Thursday, January 7, 2010

reading with expression. . .

read this with expression, with gusto, if you will. with all your hearts. please. i did. i tried. and you have to read The Names too.

and? was it exuberant? was it? do you feel uplifted? do you feel a little bit sick in your mouth? do you feel a little bit dead?

well. she read it about 8 and half times - every word full of emotion from the bottom of her heart. although at times you could sense a background perplexity. like, what the fuck ? but she read bravely full of hope. right until the end. as i said, eight and a half times.

toodely oh best beloveds. bisous X.X.X. lashings of rockin' enid blyton ones. x j

Monday, January 4, 2010

living on pancakes and air

apparently i once said i could live on pancakes forever. it's a fact. i said it. many moons ago. i still reckon i could. with the appropriate fillings, of course. i love pancakes.

i was reminded of this, with the usual accompanying guffawing, in the hot sweaty flea infested armpit of Julius Nyrere Airport in dar es salaam after i said something equally silly. that i would never ever fly on an aeroplane again. ever ever again. only on my own private lear jet.

i am home, oh bestests, after haphazardly zig zagging my way from arusha - zanzibar - dar es salaam - lusaka - johannesburg - durban - lusaka - luangwa valley - lusaka - dar es salaam - pangani - arusha. using a flagrant variety of absurdly horrendous and little known commercial airlines. home on the little ngorobob hill which is emerald green and plush and quite full of herself - all swaying and sexy in the summer wind. the safari was glorious except for the flying bit. except for zambezi air and its foibles. which made you miss your connections and sit for hours dreaming violent thoughts: one hundred ways to kill people with a cricket bat (circa 1950). except for security gates where they lock you inside just in case you're going to run away. across the strip into the bush. what on earth? to where for godsakes?

now look here, if you don't let me out for a cigarette i am going to get really really really angry and could you please tell me what actually is the matter with the plane? whilst an angry mob crowded around demanding to see the pilot otherwise they would not get on the plane because obviously we would all get killed.

wide eyed the ticket tearer man mumbled, technical hitch.

but i thought they said it was something to do with a document?

ahem. well yes. there WAS a technical hitch but now they are waiting for someone for Civil Aviation to sign the piece of paper. and well, next please.

before this lovely little delay i had a wonderful welcome back to zambia, the land of my birth, where my father was born, where hazy childhood memories draw me back time and time again against all odds. the smell of the rain in the red dust. the endless forests. the nightjars and ghosts on the wind.

welcome back, the nice immigration man said, but you won't be allowed out the country.

wh--? don't be ridiculous. why ever not? she asks perplexed and edgily.

because you have the Old Passport. you need a biometric one.

now look here. i have a plane to catch to johannesburg tommorrow at precisely one twenty. the chances of getting a bionic pass---
a biometric.
what? whatever. i ain't gonna miss that baby for nothin' y'hear, smoke prettily curling twirling out her ears.

i am just warning you, the nice immigration man answered, his face wooden and tired. we won't let you out. you need an emergency travel document.

that meant a hasty visit to kent house, the passport office in downtown lusaka. kent house which hasn't changed an inch since 1962 and there is honestly nothing remotely hasty about it. it's really dark, musty, old and nasty, filled with sullen overworked and underpaid officials who really really hate doing anyone any favours. ever. all the angels from heaven were summoned. all the ones that were left. the tough ones. with immediate effect. i beamed love and love and love. i ran up and down cairo road like a crazed woman, racing up and down stairways in nameless buildings. i had precisely two hours. i have been a zambian forever. but still you need someone to recommend you. just in case you became congolese in between. but still you need everything stamped by a commissioner of oaths. in fact by two seperate commissioner of oaths. in case one is rubbish. but still you feel like a cheat. like someone's doing you a favour when they really shouldn't be. i sat leant up in a dark corner outside scary mrs zambian passport lady's office. she is really really really important. no one can breath without her. i sat crying. ish. she came out and sternly said, oh stop it while jake, who was on the phone said, cry more cry more.

i made it. and now i'm home on the hill with a bionic passport, living on pancakes and dreaming of my own lear jet. stepping out onto the strip like audrey hepburn without a passport even. with the president of the world, actually, opening the door for me. my handsome pilot in epaulettes and chopper pilot sunglasses smiling and saluting me as i step elegantly and all alone up the steps, quickly quaffing back a chilled prosecco and a slim little mini pancake prettily sprinkled in caviar before i disappear with a brief little wave at no one in particular behind me (the president maybe). i would finally be free from the indignities of flying commercial.

follow that plane, james. johnnesburg please james. as i settle back into my leather divan, seatbeltless, which smells ever so elegantly of chanel no.19. i close my eyes and dream of pancakes on take off.


wouldn't that be nice?

A Wood Man In Africa: 4 jan 2010:

he's either taken up rat hunting or mountain climbing. one or the other. both ridiculous new years resolutions.

well. you can decide how you want to feel about anything.

heri mwaka mpia yote. happy happy happy.

toodely and bisous freshly cut green grass ones X.X.X. j