Monday, June 21, 2010

This glass is half full

That's all.

Picture Window, with sunlight

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I have frozen peas for brains.

I really want to write more on this here blog, I do. But what to say? Every time I open my mouth, put fingers on grubby white keyboard this is what comes out 




So I look through my pictures to see if I can at least show you something from there.
Maybe one of those old ones. Lets see.  Ooh yes, here we go. Monkey

Monkey was my soul mate. No, seriously!

I went to Germany when I was 1. I claim to remember but no-one believes me. I'm not sure I do either anymore! We went to the circus. I remember the clowns bursting terrifyingly out of a stripy tent, white faces and big noses. Seals playing with coloured balls.  An elephant riding a bicycle. But... I was 1, so... maybe... maybe I don't really remember... Oh and a tree house. (Geli? Was there such a thing? Maybe that was somewhere else)

Aaaanyway. Apparently (this bit I don't remember) we went to a big old toy store. And I saw Monkey on the shelf and I grabbed him and would. not. let. go. So Monkey stayed. 

Even Blue Teddy took second place to Monkey.

See that worn patch on his mouth? Yes, I kissed that hole to existence. And then would try to feed him through it. And cut his hair and wondered why it didn't grow back. 

The biggest trauma in his life (possibly aside from being yanked off the shelf in a nice cozy shop in Germany and thrust into a new life in the middle of the African bush) was when our horrid little dog Baked Beans chucked him onto the fire. I must have been 4 or so and my mother came to me with Monkey one morning, looking worried (this bit I do remember). And she said that Monkey had been in an accident but he was fine. She had already done some First Aid on him and he was all bandaged up. His one leg was completely burnt off - now a bandaged stump - and his other leg had a bandage around the ankle. And I gingerly looked underneath the crisp white bandage and saw charred flesh. Poor little guy. But he was very brave and wore those bandages for the rest of his life. If possible I loved him even more. 

Monkey went Ev-rey-where with me. I kissed a worn patch on his mouth, his limbs had come off and been sewed back on several times. His head too, I think (in a tug of war with some horrible person who wanted to take him from me). 

His stint with me ended one day when I was about 12 or 13 on a hot and dusty day in Lilongwe, Malawi. My mother was driving up to see us at boarding school (why Monkey wasn't actually with me I'm not entirely sure. Maybe we were starting to go our separate ways already) and Monkey was in the back of our old brown open sided jeep. Along with all my mother's art materials (I think she was planning on spending a week at the lake working). And she heard a rustling in the back of the car, turned around and it was all Gone. She made a valiant attempt at rescue. Chased the thief through the mealies. But he was not to be caught. 

And so Monkey I hope found another home, made another child as happy as he did me. 

Or not.


Life goes on.   

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Go to sleep my weary hobo

My baby often thinks that 3 in the morning is a very pleasant time to sit up in her cot, lean over, poke her mother in the eyes and start chatting. I tend to disagree with her but what can you do? Oh yes, all sorts of things really. Almost every new mother I meet has a) a baby that sleeps through the night and b) numerous ad hoc techniques that will get my baby to sleep like... well, like the proverbial baby. Sleep training, let her cry it out (It even has an acronym - CIO - which usually results in the 'I'm awake now, lets chat' state of mind), change of day time routines. Bottle at night, sleep association. Bla bla bla. I'm bored of it all frankly. I've read up loads, I've taken much of the advice to heart and now it's all yawn yawn (and not just because of the lack of sleep). There are bigger things happening out there in the world. This isn't forever (they sleep a lot as teenagers, right?) and lets-talk-about-my-baby talk is boring even me, a new mother. 

So last night I found myself singing. Again. There is a particular Zambian lullaby that she seems to like. A beautiful song, all lilting and exotic. But after 11 months of singing it every day I am soooo sick of it! So I thought I'd try something new. I wasn't brought up on The Wizard of Oz so I don't really know the songs, but last night I heard myself singing either the Yellow Submarine, or Follow the Yellow Brick Road - or possibly a mixture of the two - the first few lines then morphed into a song about someday, sailing a small boat to Bombay, buying a parrot on the way, who would sit on the boat, and clear its throat. 

There was more, I forget though. It sounded pretty good at the time.

No picture window today. The man has gone off to the bush for the week with my camera. But outside it is cold, a few stray wisps of mist, low cloud and I think I just spotted a polar bear lumbering past.  

Monday, June 7, 2010

Boys and Girls

Our closest neighbours have two little monkey-boys. Four and seven I think they are. They are very cute and wild and crazy. And our neighbours across the hill Janelle et al have three kids, the youngest of whom is the sweetest little girl you ever will meet (apart from the baby gal of course!) Her name is Gabby, also seven. 

The two monkey-boys came screeching in here one day armed with sticks. Gabby was quietly playing on the floor with a little box of glittery treasures. The boys, wild eyed and crazy shouted:

"Gabby! Gabby! We're going to go and kill a real live CAT! D'you wanna come?"

And Gabby pondered this for a few seconds and then in a polite little voice said:

"Ummmmm, no thanks"

And went back to her box of shiny treasures.
Picture window this evening

Saturday, June 5, 2010


I wrote this yesterday. And didn't think it was appropriate to post. I'm still not sure. I may take it down again. Or not. Hmmmmm

At the moment my mind feels like its half full of water, with old pieces of toy floating and sloshing about. Farmyard animals - a sheep with chewed bent hooves, a bit of old plastic fence. A piece of scuffed red lego, a barbie’s hollow leg, all filled with water.


And I can’t seem to be able to sort through my thoughts.  My good friend here in Tanzania nearly died. She got cerebral malaria and was medivaced to Nairobi where she was in ICU in a coma for a few days. I heard this news while I was in Zambia and I was fully expecting her to die. It is really something of a miracle that she didn’t.  She has a little boy who is a month older than my baby gal. While she was in the hospital they did some tests on the little boy – to check that he didn’t also have malaria and because he wasn’t looking too good. And while his mother was in a coma they discovered that he has leukemia. They had to fly to Europe that night – the boy and his father, leaving the just out of a coma mother with a friend in the hospital. And she’s finally starting to feel a little better (physically). Her and her friend drove back from Nairobi the day before yesterday and I went with her to book her ticket. She flies tonight. I spent most of yesterday with her and saw her briefly today.


What do you say? How do you balance the creepy shoulder squeezing “how are you” with being too upbeat? I find myself talking about the times I have had malaria, how I felt afterwards – in an effort to sympathize and understand but surely that comes out as all memememe? And she says yes, please come and visit I’d love to see you. How do you balance that with overstaying your welcome? Will she feel weird seeing me breastfeed my daughter in front of her?


And how can she possibly even begin to deal with recovering from malaria (which is a bitch at the best of times), and nearly dying, let alone the fact that her son has leukemia and she hasn’t seen him for weeks. How do you even begin to offer comfort? To sit in silence mostly? To listen? And other people come and visit and if I’m feeling irritated by their questions (can’t you see she’s tired? Can’t you see that’s an inappropriate question?) then what must she be feeling? As irritated by me as I am by them?


And is she strong enough to travel? Should I have encouraged her to spend a few extra days to recover more? Surely she needs her family around her, needs to see her boy, her husband. But will the flight and seeing them be too much to cope with? Will she have a relapse? The doctor says no. How can we be sure?

And the thing that bugs me most? Why am I making this about me? Am I? grrrrrrrrr