Saturday, June 29, 2013

bee karma

 i found myself heading out for an actual walk last wednesday afternoon, deciding to take warmth and solace from the last of the syrup golden sun and extract my mind from silly, temporary sadnesses.  look.
 i took a photograph of some boda boda riders heading home down the hill.

how sweetly the acacia stretch, almost making an arch over the dusty tracks which smell of smoke and winter.

i stopped in to say hi to c, d’s mother, who hales from kenya. she is an absolute tonic and inspiration and has lead a life more colourful than most. she raised all her children in zanzibar, living through the revolution of the early '60's. she sheltered 6 other children (of Indian and arab extraction) as the revolution swept the island, slaying arabs and indians.  the revolutionaries came to the house, banging and shouting at the door. she opened it,  so petite and elegant, very calm, very beautiful, still is. the young, fiery armed revolutionaries looked inside and counted 9 children, all of vaguely similar age and height, but clearly of different families, race and cultures. they barked at C, “are these ALL your children?” “Yes they are. All of them,” staring cool as a cat calmly and elegantly back at them. “ALL of these?” they disbelievingly insisted. “Yes. Every. Single. One of them. They’re all mine,” she unblinkingly replied, standing her ground.   they left, obviously convinced. i definitely wouldn't have bought it.

this, oh besties, in my book, is heroic stuff.

 she learned to ride on giant English race horses as a child and, consequently, has never climbed back on one since. not even a shetland. she is the only person i know who has drunken liquidized quat, a somalian speed weed which all the truckers CHEW to keep them awake and driving all night. (or google for a better descripton) in fact, i don’t think anyone else in the world has ever thought of making a juice out of it before. the thing is, you’re supposed to chew quat. C wanted the full monty, I guess. she said it made her feel quite ill for a couple of days and has never tried it again, like horses.

we sat drinking some berry juice. she said I could smoke inside because she’s terrifically cool. i adore making her laugh, and I can, about the most serious of matters. she throws her head back and howls with laughter at what should be, at best, tragic stories of broken hearts, espionage, broken up families, allusions to intellectual midgets until we both quickly remind ourselves of our inherently Buddhist natures and say nice things about everyone and the world and feel terribly good inside.


so there i was, jabbering incessantly, trying my best to make her laugh, and succeeding, when I felt insecty tickles on my neck. i unthinkingly, midsentence,  put my hand up and WACK, was karmically stung by a bloody bee. on my thumb. “Oh, it’s just a bee,” i hear you say. as i say to my children…”At least it wasn’t a scorpion. Or a wasp. Or CHILDBIRTH. Now that’s sore. So come on. Chin chin.  It’s nothing. It’s just a bee sting. Pah. Etc etc” but FMS, it was sore. my hand is still swollen two days later. the children think it’s vile and disgusting and won’t touch it or let me touch them. if i hold it under first born’s nose, he shudders.  my friend and colleague at school, Charles Charlie Charles (the art teacher) said “Oh pole sana! But it just looks like you have a fat baby’s hand.”  charming. today it’s so itchy I could chain saw it to pieces because no one will tickle the itchies to death. and to think of how many  bees i’ve saved from swimming pools….hive loads, i tell ya.

at least it didn’t sting me on my neck. i might be looking like ET today. or a giant baby. (Confession: i’ve always thought ET was disgusting. i thought it was a horror film when i watched it. that child needed guidance. couldn’t they have made ET a little more attractive? or at least furry - ish? he was like a giant frog, for kerrist’s sake….ew)

and another thing…(oh. don’t go away….!) … for the record, i just can’t get into boy bands….i really would like to love Rose (as in Rohzeh the wine. i don’t know how to do French accents on the keyboard) by The Feelings, a beautifully filmed music vid in Abbey Road for Burberry (a string of super nostalgic, classy associations right there, I think)….annoyingly, i  couldn’t get over the Rose wine metaphor….i couldn’t take it seriously. (going to have another listen and peek before I press ‘publish’ on this…) ok. done.  they will never ever be The Beatles, no matter how  hard they try, how many videos they make at abbey road, or of being mini people in acquariums, with oversized lizards, snakes (and lapels) and, god forbid, FROGS lurking horribly close to the mini people and stuff (look here. just do it.). oh but the strings and transitions in ‘Rose’ are quite beautiful… have a look  (that IS a link so click away, babies) and let me know if I am missing something and if, in fact, they are what one would call a Boy Band? or (be kind now) am i just getting old?

the singer just seems, well,  a little too earnest in his love and, frankly, damn those lyrics.  and the Rose with an accent. give me a Jamesons, and say, jake bugg or the the tallest man on earth (they ARE modern),  any day. (loving the linking, by the way. so you'd better watch or i'll hunt you down. i will, you know. )

chin chin y’all and bisous.X.X.X. honeyed ones on yer bee stung lips. X j

Monday, June 24, 2013

home fires.

i know i know….i told you both not to adjust your sets and now look…I’ve left you there staring at the screen saver, patiently waiting for tales of spice tours, stone town tours, prison island tours, giant tortoises and mr alphonse who considers himself a swimmer of international repute and mr bongo (from the congo. poetry. fact.) who took such delight in the sea and sand, he made himself into a doughnut.

but, she sighs, that was so long ago now.

winter has since arrived. shadows have grown longer and days shorter.  in any case, this winter is a fine winter, as african winters go, because we had good rains.  it’s suitably crispy;  the butterflies are taking full advantage of the last of the april wild flowers and stars are spikey.  it’s crisp enough for a fire at night.

making the fire is my ritual and nobody else's. collecting wood, on the other hand, is not. apart from when there is a revolution. i have a secret mexican recipe for starting a healthy fire with no fuss (email me for payment details. the mauritian trick of cooking oil in toilet paper sucks.). i love being the fire keeper. i must watch it like a hawk. woe betide meddlers. my daughter is learning fast. you mustn’t, under any circumstances, meddle with other peoples' fires, toss logs so carelessly on like cushions on a couch. unless you're stealin' other peoples' horses which you would never do.  like a sleeping dog, let it lie. like most everything in life, timing is all.  i consider myself an unashamedly dictatorial goddess at fire making but, oh besties, not in The Boiler. The kuni Boiler. The Rhodesian Boiler. call it what you will.

 frankly, it’s a bastard.

 i think I wrote about it a few years ago, at the beginning of this blog, when I dutifully wrote Every. Single. Day, petulantly infused with heady and ridiculous notions about being discovered and making shit loads of money (how adolescent of me. grow up, for godsake)…i wrote about the time when i singed (as in burnt) off my eyebrows. i have learned much since then and am now very adept at throwing a clutch of burning matches on kerosene soaked logs then jumping backwards like a baboon from a crocodile, before the greedy flames can scour you from here to Timbuktu.  it’s quite an art, i tell ya. laugh not.

last night, being a goddawful sunday night, when dishes are piled high, monday leers horribly and doggedly around the corner, the table at the front door is piled high with the left over belongings of three peoples’ week end and undone homework, someone didn’t make the dog food, you're mildly hungover from your friend's barbeque and disturbingly broody after holding her sister's baby (blink),  the rigors of adulthood weigh so heavily on the heart and shoulders and all you want is a piping hot shower (baths are out of the question. no water, remember?)  and no one has lit The Boiler and nobody wants to light The Effing Boiler.

I. HATE. LIGHTING. THE. BOILER. so naturally, you want to immediately pour yourself a stiff whisky and listen to Ella Fitzgerald instead.... but…cleanliness is next to godliness and no one likes sticky legs in bed. or feet. and a hot shower isn’t a lot to ask for. or to arrange, and you are a responsible mother, you might wearily conclude…

so as you have of late been thankfully reminded, you must take heed of the mundane, of all those little daily chores which chain-link the minutes of your days,( whether it’s opening the gate, locking the gate, making the coffee, or lighting The Frikken Boiler). you pay attention wholeheartedly, mindfully....Light The Frikken Boiler. because that’s all there is to it, at this precise moment. (this is particularly hard to practice at 6:30 in the morning when you’ve got to pick up dog shit in the lounge…)


I spent a good deal of yesterday evening with my head in the fucking boiler asphyxiating myself by practicing an ancient aboriginal art of channeling your breath through fingers pressed together to form a tunnel directed into specific areas of the fire.(learned from an australian play boy) i successfully inhaled cloudfuls of wood smoke, almost died and failed on both accounts. i swore impressively and quite a lot.  and then felt sad. so sad. the vaguely luke warm shower sufficed. it had to. gosh I’m tough.

honestly? who gives a shit about The Boiler? or sticky legs and feet, come to think of it?

 “creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous” – Bill Moyers….put that in your boiler, babies, and smoke it…

and PS: i might not always crack fire making but i DID crack this…

and won.

so there.

(12 yr old self clapping hands and hanging  the ribbon above the piano...)

everyone’s terribly impressed this side of the mountain.

toodely toot y'all. bisous X.X.X. red hot boiling ones x. j 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

titi and the mind...

this is scary. it's been so long.
but i'm still here.
i've quite forgotten how to 'insert' photographs. and, confession, i still don't know how to do that clever link thing.
it's all this focus on keeping a calm mind and an open heart. bloody hard work, i tell ya. terribly distracting. no wonder the gurus head for the mountains and caves.  what a cinch. some of them should try a school trip to zanzibar with 45 children in tow. c'mon big ole yer tricks then, eh? see how calm your mind is when you yell at 24 of them on a bus in the middle of Stone Town, at night, around 8 "ok! are you all on the bus? check to see if your friend is next to you! NOW!" and someone pipes up, "no, titi isn't here." "what? WHATT? well where the devil is he then?" "we don't know..." and you look out the window into a blustery zanzibar night, with piki pikis, dala dalas, the hustle and bustle of the harbour, lights, darkness and titi isn't on the nymota, who you'll meet in a minute, leapt off the bus, in a flash, and into the other bus...and found titi who was frogged marched back to the right bus almost by his ears....


...and then we all went for ice creams on the corniche and watched the local boys dive off the pier which impressed everyone, especially the girls.

this is mr nyamota on day 1: having fun on the Spice Tour:

this is mr nyamota at the end of day 3: after we found titi.

i think he is working on a calm mind and an open altruistic heart in The Passing Show Hotel of Zanzibar.

more to follow another time. the end of term tsunami is in sight. i'm batoning the hatches on all fronts. and, trying to stay calm. with an open heart. 
sometimes it feels lighter. 
at others, insane.
nothing a nice cup of tea won't soothe...or a spotty hoss, for that matter.
toodely toot y'all. bisous. X.X.X. open hearted ones on yer lips.
ps: tales of zanzibar to not adjust your sets.