Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Christmas feast

I wish I had taken a picture of the food we prepared on Christmas day. Delicious vegetable skewers, succulent pork ribs and rare juicy steaks all chargrilled on the barbeque. Bacon and black olive polenta cakes, nshima* with a fragrant tomato relish. Followed up by the best banoffee pie known to mankind.

That was the plan anyway.

"We'll eat at 4" we say.

So the husband has charge of the braai. The barbeque. The meat and veg is cooked to perfection. I am in charge of the polenta cakes and the nshima. And the pudding. I am halfway through the polenta cakes when the baby starts to cry. Real proper oh-my-god-I've just witnessed-that-fat-boy-from-next-door-eat-my-hamster kind of crying. The grandparents try to console her but she's having nothing of it. So I go to her and leave a glutinous, lumpy pot of Matter on the stove. The husband tries to deal with it. "What must I do?" looking all distressed.
"Just, add the onions and the bacon that I cooked earlier and a bit more stock if you need to and then put it in the oven" I say
He looks at me like I've just asked him to diffuse a nuclear reactor. Or fly a plane solo with no prior experience.
He comes back a minute later. "It's all lumpy"
"Okay, I'll come and deal with it just now"
All of this shouted at top decibels over the baby's screaming.

Finally the baby settles and I come out of the bedroom to see a perplexed looking mother-in-law and husband standing over the pot of said Matter. It is indeed lumpy and shiny and glutinous and looks ab.so.lutely disgusting. No matter, I put it in the pan and whop it in the oven nonetheless.

Now to the nshima. Halfway through making it I'm thinking, "This isn't right. It shouldn't be so wobbly, so lumpy. It should be grainier than this" Now where I come from unga is mealie meal. Maize meal. Here, unga is flour, it is mealie meal, it is basically anything powdered. So the unga I was using was not mealie meal. It was flour. I had, on the stove a gloopy wrist deep pot of white sauce except without the milk and butter. And with A LOT more flour. It looked like a huge albino wad of wood glue, left out in the sun.

And in the stove I had... well... words can't really describe it. It smelled good. But who knew flour could get so shiny? We decided the best course of action was for husband had to take over the fragrant tomato relish action ("Will this tin of tomato and onion mix do?" "Hell yeah!") while I tried to salvage the nshima issue. Found the real proper mealie meal, made a burnt bottomed passable pot of nshima. The polenta cakes? Well, I didn't bother trying to salvage those. I scraped off the cooked top bits and the bottom bits, which were alarmingly jelly-like, and put them in a pretty dish on the table. I tasted a little. The dogs enjoyed the rest. With coaxing.

And the braai? Had you forgotten about the braai? Coz we had. You would be forgiven for thinking we were serving up pieces of tortoise shell and bits of tractor tyre cut up just so. The vegetable skewers were unrecognizable. Even by eating them you couldn't tell what was what.

The funniest thing though, is that no-one said a word. We all sat around in our paper hats and everyone was all "Hmmmm, this is good! Well done guys, great meal!" And I felt like standing up on the table and cackling manically and saying "REALLY? You reckon?" But we all so hungry (we'll eat at 4? Yeah, right!) that we gobbled it all down like it was the succulent meal we had originally intended.

Oh, the banoffee pie was good though. (HAha! Just caught a typo that said that banoffee pie was food though. Yes, well....)

Maybe next year we'll go out.


*Nshima - a stiff mealie meal porridge thingy. Sounds disgusting but (usually) delicious! Called Nshima in Malawi and Zambia, Ugali in this part of the world, Sadza in Zimbabwe and South Africa

The picture window last night

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Great Christmas Tree Heist

So the other day we went a-Christmas tree hunting. No firs or pines or whatever the traditional trees are in these parts. So we cut down a sisal stalk. On Wikipedia it says that Tanzania is a major producer of sisal (used to make rope and such). There's certainly a lot of them around. So we went down to the bottom of our hill and found a suitable one to cut.

There they are in situ - you can hardly see them really but they're there, two brothers looking out over the Maasai Steppes

So the father-in-law and I got chopping with the panga.

while the neighbour's cat looked on

And the parents-in-law and I carried it up the hill to our brave little pink house (the tree, not the cat!)

And we decortaed it with butterfly hair clips...

...and beaded stars bought from the Maasai market in town...

...that catch the sunlight...

...and make pretty shadows...

Merry Christmas y'all

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chinese Whispers

I have a friend who is trying to adopt. Let’s call her Jane. She has found the cutest little baby girl in an orphanage near here. The baby was left at a market stall by a woman asking directions to the toilet. She asked if the marketeer could please hold her baby while she went to the loo. And she never came back. So the baby was sent to the orphanage and my friend Jane is loooking to adopt this baby. Just to be clear here!

So yesterday I bumped into my neighbour at the butcher. As you do. And she said “what’s the story with Jane? I hear she went to the toilet in Usa and someone gave her a baby?”

That’s small towns for you!!


Picture window today

Two little monkeys peering in

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On this day in history

The chapel


The picture window this morning. Misty, with neighbours cows trimming our lawn

Monday, December 14, 2009

what I did today

Inspired by PurestGreen I shall let you in on the exciting and rollercoaster life of one Ms. Miranda. What I did today:

- Read some blogs


- Googled my name with wants and laughed at the results (also inspired by PurestGreen)
Miranda wants me to stop also
Miranda wants us to drink shit
Miranda wants Taylor NOW
Miranda wants a horse to call her own
Miranda wants to sleep

- Ate some fudge. Made by my fair hand a few days ago (had opened a tin of condensed milk to satisfy a sugar craving and thought I'd better make something with it or I'd eat the whole tin in one sitting and wizz around the house and bounce off the furniture like a balloon that you've blown up and not tied a knot in and let go. (phew that's a long sentence). Or Tom Cruise)

- Coughed and spluttered and blew my nose 265 times and cursed the coldey fluey thing I have 482 times. Although I do like my new Tom Waits voice

- went out with the in-laws who are staying. A lunch of pasta salad and tamarind juice

- went to friends Maasai jewelry shop and watched as baby gal got passed from person to person and laughed at all the ladies with their jingly jangly Maasai jewelry (the baby did the laughing, not me). Persuaded the women that they didn't really want to keep her

- hid from the rain

- drove back on a road that had literally turned into a river

- took a picture of our picture window.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sundowners at Owani Lagoon (working title)

Okay, so the book. You really wanna know? Okay.

Its about a girl
a boy
a safari camp
a film crew
a bar
an ex fiance

You know the drill

It's unashamed chick lit. Not a literary masterpiece and I'm fine with that.

Here's an attempt at a synopsis/back cover thingy for ya'll

Unlucky in love Nell has grown up in the bush and works in a safari camp. Her boss Felicity is an aging It Girl from London and when Nell falls for the dishy cameraman filming a reality TV series on Felicity's new life, she feels her luck has finally changed. But will it last?

Quiet, witty Andrew, escaping a broken heart and ruined dreams has come to work a season in the safari industry. Will he be able to resist Nell's quirky charms? Or will his ex fiance Alice come and mess up everything?

Sundowners at Owani Lagoon explores the stereotypical differences between men and women in a hilarious and fresh new light.

(or something like that!)

I'll see if I can salvage an exerpt or two

Oh and suggestions for titles most welcome!

Monday, November 30, 2009

What now?

So operation NaNoWriMo is complete. 50,000 words in 30 days. I did it. I am now standing on the sidelines handing out Lucozade and cheering on my sister who is also whizzing along to the finish. She got snagged up a bit (jobs and real life tend to get in the way, annoyingly) so she has a fair amount to catch up on but right now she is 42,500 or thereabouts. Oy ve.

I feel extremely pleased with myself but realise that I now have a lot of shite to wade through, some gaping holes to patch up and about 6 years of intensive editing and rewriting and then maybe, juuust maybe I'll have something worth showing close family!

But still.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pots of gold

At the bottom of our slushy muddy road there are a few people building little shops and houses, so there are lots of piles of sand here and there. And yesterday we were driving along and WHAM right in front of us was this melodramatic rainbow. You could almost see it throw it's arms out and say "TADA!"

"look, a rainbow!" I said to husband "Lets go dig for gold - it's so close!"
"too late" he said "Someone's beaten us to it"

And indeed 'twas true because it was coming right out of one of those piles of sand.

Ah well, better luck next time. Maybe I'll go and buy a lottery ticket instead.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Still Life with Dhows

My words are all used up. So just some pics of this weekend in Zanzibar. And I would please like to point out that these first two pictures were taken at dawn.


As in veryvery early in the morning

Friday, November 13, 2009

Of writing and other adventures

Oh yes, that's right, I have a blog.

I'm still here.

But I am taking the NaNoWriMo thing very seriously. Some day the words are spewing forth diarrhea like (why is that such a hard word to spell? I had about 6 gos until got it right! Did I get it right??) sometimes I feel like I've used them all up and only had a certain number to give. I flog the horse. He dies. I flog him some more, he wakes up. But. I have reached 20,345. I think maybe sixteen of them are usable but it's the process that counts, or so I keep telling myself. It's in no shape to show you any exerts yet but maybe soon I'll go through and give you some of the worst sentences I can find. "He put a gun in my back and said 'follow me'" was one my dad used once as a kid. "Thousands and thousands of people were dying where no man had set foot" was one of mine (as a kid, I hasten to add!). But I'm sure I have some of those in there.

In other news:
It's finally RAINING!!! Joy of joys
My dear sweet gurgly four month old baby has TEETH!
And tomorrow, dear friends I'm going to ZANZIBAR! (since we've taken the capital letters route). Husband has to go there for work, ho hum what a bore, so we're going along for the ride.

Kay bayeeeee. Back on Tuesday sickeningly smug, with photos and tales of eating prawns as big as my foot.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Walk on the wild side

Yesterday I didn't have the car so it was a perfect excuse to sit at home and writewritewrite. And I reached ten thousand words! And then splutter splutter stall. There's been a lot of splutter splutter and I'm not reading back what I've written coz then I'm sure I'll feel really disheartened. BUT I've reached ten thousand words!! WHOOOHOOOO!

So when my brain got all fuzzy - like teeth that haven't been cleaned in a week (eeooo) - I took the wee gal and we went for a walk. Just a small one up the hill behind our house.

And this is the view from the top

And here, our brave little house

On our way back down we found a prince on his white stallion

Took a picture of us, freaks of nature

Then got home and fell asleep with our rabbit

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

Serotonin Orange

More pictures from Laos. That colour just sets my skin a buzzing. I love it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A book in a month?

I have taken up the challenge. To write a novel in a month. 2000 words a day and hey presto! A 50,000 word novel at the end of it. Granted it may not be a very good one but, hey, worth a try, no? I read my sister’s post yesterday and thought ‘hell yeah, what a good idea.’ And signed up immediately. And then I woke up this morning and thought – WTF?? What have I done!

I am doing this not because I think I have a literary masterpiece in me – I know I don’t – but to channel my brain into doing something useful for a few hours a day. It’s got to be healthier than playing on Facebook, surely? This is the theory anyway, in reality I’ll probably be spending MORE time on facebook coz I’ll be procrastinating like crazy.

And hey, its more pro-active than buying a lottery ticket every week. Coz you never know, maybe I’ll surprise myself!

So it starts on Sunday 1st November and finishes on 30th November. Anyone want to join us?

So I may be a little quieter than usual. I’ll put up lots of pictures tho, and some updates.

See you on the other side.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Queen Bee

I love how different cultures perceive beauty.

The other day a friend said to me, “Ah, Miranda! You have got sooooo fat”
“Thank you” I said, since it was meant as a compliment.
“Are you not breastfeeding? You’re supposed to get thin when you’re breastfeeding”
“Oh I am, but I’m eating lots too!”
“Yes you must be. I almost didn’t recognize you! I thought you were---------- (names a lass who is not so thin).” Looks me up and down with an appraising eye.
“Yes, very very fat! Huge in fact!”
“Thank you! Thank you very much”

Breakfast in Laos