Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Online

I have been thinking about getting offline , pulling off my blog and just, disappearing for a while, but last week convinced me otherwise.
I had a clear way of putting down thoughts when I blogged so I better get back to it before I start thumb printing my documents.

So fans, come back :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nyĩrĩ

I remember telling Michael, Botswanian Michael as we called him- hey hey not beyond my wrist- when he would shake my hand- poor boy, that must have been so offensive. But I was not fully to blame for such a view point, I had just landed from a society, which still adheres to the code of boys on one side, girls on the other, even in public meetings by the chief, no no now, we mustn’t get too close; yet S.T.Is and Bastards abound, everywhere.

Hear I was, in the midst of Africans, the easy going Naija people who’ll call you brother on their first meeting, the happy beer loving Botswana people who like to hang out most of the time, the friendly Mugambe people, the smart- ly dressed Tanzanians, the Waswahili from the Kenyan Coast, from Oman, the curly haired Sudanese, now northeners, the Indonesians from Florence, the Tamil, and the Stiff Kenyans.

Ivy, from Uganda would tell me- Kenyans are so stiff, you’re like robots, why so serious all the time, fear, perhaps, no no now don’t get too close I don’t want you coming over to borrow salt and chai whenever you feel like. I’m from the highlands, hugs are a new education.

So Michael would shake my hand and give hugs all around. A month later I was a changed woman.

Last week I met my friends, a couple fro long ago and on impulse I wanted to jump in with open arms, but then it clicked, it’s a cheek to cheek greeting for the woman( Man! I hate those!), and a firm handshake for the man, with a slight eye contact for acknowledgement.
I am re-learning what I re-learnt and this time, honestly I feel like bursting out of this town and never coming back , end up somewhere on Ogingo Island or Kamchatka, where people hug and nod to Lady Gaga’s Poker face.

Things I have to remember:
If you have boy friends over- you are a prostitute
If you wear jeans – you are a prostitute
If you wear make up – you are a prostitute
Hug men- you are a prostitute
Wear a short skirt- you’re a prostitute
Wear a long skirt- your religion tells you to wear long skirts

The middle ages I tell you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Farm Diaries, Jane of all trades

I got up at 5 this morning, it took effort since I slept quite late last night. See, every evening, I have to milk a goat, cook, food and tea and clear my neighbour's kitchen. A lovely old lady who has many tales. Anyway I really enjoy helping her out. She has experience in a lot of things, like slaughtering rabbits. Last Sunday she got up early so she could slaughter one and get it ready to cook in the evening, it needs to be hang up for drying. She said to me- If I ask someone to help me slaughter this tiny thing, they'll expect meat, so what I'are we supposed to eat if we serve the butcher a platefull?

We cooked the rabbit in the evening, three of us, the young child she is bringing up loves meat, she ate most of it, yeah and last night she vomited in her bed for eating too much, but we love the young one, she lost her mother only two weeks ago and is coping with it in her own way, like narrating funny stories about her mother to us. She told me, when my mother comes back, I'll be big, in my own stone house and I'll never get married. Her great grand said to her- she won't come back, you'll go to her, she said she doesn't want to die.

So when I got up, at 5.15, I made instant coffee and threw in a ginger root into my mouth. I'm not a fun of coffee, but ginger coffee is nice.
When the old woman got up some minutes to seven, I went in to rouse the child, who complained about a tummy ache, but we knew it was from overeating, and she has been looking for excuses to miss school.

Many times I pause and think,hmm today was another funny day, like the night when a strong wind blew and fell several avocados on top of my neighbour's roof. She is a teacher, lives with her daughter and a househelp, they begun screaming to the ends of the earth, and I, the good neighbour helped them. When other neighbours came with sticks and rungus, we thaked darkness that hid our embarassment. But that happens when women live alone,among coffee plants; they get hallucinate.

So today I'm going out to buy a thermos, and garlic if my budget allows it, I might get a heavy curtain too. I keep thinking a thief, banana thief,they are plenty where I live might come peeping one evening, I'm not ready to scream like that day.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

cooking a fish

I’m a lover of fish, infact for a very long time I couldn’t forgive my uncle for not letting me taste a fish he once brought home, bought off a boy who had caught it in a river. I was six or seven, and I promised myself when I grew up, I would go to the Indian Ocean and catch myself a fish. I grew up and learnt that grand ma had said to uncle not to give the child any fish, incase I died and he’d be blamed. A lot of people won’t eat fish for a number of reasons. Fish smells bad my friend Mel says, the fish bones will kill you according to a lot of people in central province, majority have no clue what to do with a fish so they just opt for other meat.

When I lived on an island, I ate a lot of fish, different fish and when I came back to the mountains, I longed for the days I had bought 5 medium sized tilapia at Tesco for Rm.2.50 on holiday sales.

So when my friend suggesting a fishing trip, I could have jumped up and down.
I live in Tetu, and you can see a lot of Wangari Maathai’s green belt movement’s efforts. Trees are more than the population, unlike most places in Kenya, the beautiful surroundings are a treasure. There are a couple of public dams around my area, not many people make good use of them though and discovering the dams have been happiness itself.

I must say the scenery was more enthralling than the actual fishing itself, especially when the sun begun to set; the green reeds were reflected into the water giving the dam a soft green luster. The long legged white birds with the black, red breasted diving ducks, the kingfishers all completed the ideal setting for a fishing afternoon.

We arrived at 1.00p.m and at 5.30 none of us had caught a single baby fish. But you should have seen the determination. Someone caught a tiny one, which we threw back later, honestly, you can’t carry home a finger’s length fish and tell people you went fishing.


On another fishing trip at a different dam, on one Kamanda’s farm, the wife hailed her workers who came and dragged the net in the dam and caught us five fish-yeah!. We disappointed them though because immediately after we continued throwing our grasshopper baited hooks lines into the water. They left us to our mad experiments, and Maureen, by accident, haha, caught one, for which we celebrated.

Fishing is fun, as much fun as learning to play a guitar. I think you get the same excitement as you do when you learnt to play two notes of Snow Patrols’ Chasing Cars. I need about 15 more lessons before I can at least get a fish out of the water.

To cook a fish, unless it’s fish balls you’re aiming at, don’t boil the fish, like potatoes.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fragrance Of Rice

I brewed, I harvested, I met, I fished, I sat for hours trying to understand written text. I wrote poetry, yes I am writing poetry once again.

June has been a good month, thinking about it this morning in the train, I felt a sense of satisfaction, and smiled. The girl opposite looked at me perhaps wondering what was there to smile about. She should have asked, I would have told her- honey, you have one option every morning,initiate happiness which will reflect on others' faces.

Radio was playing- lifestyles of the rich and the famous by good charlotte. My mind was humming a one man guitar I heard earlier: You gave birth to a daughter, my mother's name won't simply disappear, and you've told me you're preparing yourself to have another, our house will expand- totally inappropriate to be humming such songs in the morning.

Anyway June didn't help to make my mind more organised, actually I've had to write down the things I need to do more than before, but I end up forgetting where I put the list, so much for organising myself.

Looking back though, June has been a great month. I learnt something important to look at another human in the eye and ask: what did you do that for. Well, not exactly but I've learn to ask.
I always preferred to just wait and see the turn of events, to be polite but June has taught me to fight, and how to harvest potatoes without piercing too many. It's been really enjoyable, harvesting potatoes. I like it when I pull out a wispy stem and discover six big round ones attached.


I get a similar excitement when each evening, I realise, a foundation takes time to build. It costs time and needs thought. I'm learning, slowly to accept help, to give way to others and not look at it as interference. So bottom up, I'm getting stronger. And when my young cousin, all by his own initiative came to visit me, the word -worth- came into my mind. He brought his friend along, and we had a blast, I admire the vivacity of teenagers. He's grown up, that boy, and he was looking cute, I didn't tell him, but I said- the cream you're using is making you nice and lovely, his friend said it was make up. He said he was discovering what's good fro his skin.

A little girl once said to me: why don't you stay here, It's better when you're around. I didn't want to be a burden. I later went back, and as much as I wouldn't admit it, I needed that young girl , and she needed me, and together, we managed some emotionally difficult days. She wasn't a small girl, she was 20,but she knew a few things about life.

I would like to wish July won't be so cold, but that's a dream, I've got to get another blanket.

Maybe I'll catch a fish this July, but if I don't I'll keep practising. I wanted to learn how to ride a bicycle but never got the time. Maybe July will provide the opportunity.
Posted by Ciss at 7:52 AM


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coffee berries and the cappuccino query


Yesterday around 10.00a.m, when the drizzling subsided, we went to the coffee plants to remove suckers. I didn’t know what a sucker was before. Now I understand the weight of the insult- you sucker. Ever painted a  high wall with a roller or fixed a few light bulb holders? De- sucking is the same  pain in the neck. I can’t say I enjoyed  the job. The coffee plants are long and with the morning drizzle, the minute you pulled the plant towards you got a wet splash across your face. See, 100gm tin of ordinary coffee goes for ksh.200. A kilo of raw coffee beans is selling for ksh.106 at the moment, the highest pay they say. At times they get ksh.20 per kilo.
Yet the  farmer prunes, weeds, de-sucks, harvest for that  kind of cash. Somethings have me puzzled. A farmer grows coffee he cannot afford in its final form, yet lives in a lopsided, temporary shelter. I’m trying to put away the thought- how much does a 500gm tin of Java or Nescafe  coffee cost? A small cup sold for ksh. 120 four years  back.
So as we  de-sucked the coffee plants and got wet from the dew, I kept thinking about sweet potatoes and terere(pig weed) you are better off planting every inch of your land with those.
After that neck biting task, we beat some macadamia to snack on as we warmed lunch.
Macadamia has two outer hard  covers. You can tell it is ready  when the outer  green cover  breaks   to reveal the  harder  brown  shell. If you roast them for a while, when you break the hard cover, they come off the shell easily, the heat enhances the taste too.
I read in an Awake!  Magazine that Macadamia nuts regulate blood pressure. Funny, I live in a place where every third person has issues with B.P or diabetes, or both, they all have macadamia trees, which is a children’s  snack. The rest is carted off to the international market.

One day, I might understand farmers’ logic. The patience, the hard work, the undying hope. I never  met  a farmer  who didn’t believe in God.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Some days shine, some days glitter, some days are as bright as yellow curtains, inside my heart

Radio played my favourite song. That is significant because, I was feeling quite low, so sipping Rosemary tea and thinking about getting into bed, but not yet, I wanted to write a poem feeling that the moon rising earlier that evening should be honored with a poem, but the kind of poetry I've been composing lately involves my camera.
So shiftening channels on my uncle's transistor radio, they played Corrine Bailey Rae-Records On, I didn't think that station knew her, they play Luther and other dead people like the dude with a bass which John from Ally McBeal used to impersonate, what's his name- my first, my last, my everything, that guy.
Anyhow. I had gone from wishing I had a brother, or a father, to wishing I was man, to concluding that God must be a superwoman long story that. I had to go somewhere in the evening so I couldn't go alone, my aunt was not around otherwise she would have gone with me. I needed company, preferably male with the rise in rapes and muggings .


On further thought, I realised even if I had either, a brother or a father, they'd probably not want to go with me. If I were a man, I wouldn't get the chance to wear flowing cotton skirts and ballet shoes so that thought didn't last.

So I decided that either way, thank God God is not a physical ,an and since no one has ever seen God, I'm free to imagine him as a superwoman: Kind, patient, helpful,with a smile, hardworking and tough, yeah.








Smelling cats

Tata, Me, picking plums
My aunt thinks I am mad. I saw the look she gave  me when I asked her to smell the  cats. I had shared some insight, which ofcourse I’ve researched on, that cats have a certain scent especially those with a bit of fur. Two of our cats- Kilucy and Kamau have the scent, I like it, it is like a warm frumpy duvet(Not
that I’m thinking of  making a blanket out of their fur, although, I wonder  would grow back if I shaved them?)
The othe r two, Sox and Ming ming have silky hair which doesn’t smell at all. So she picked them up one by one, that’s when she gave me the look and I regretted saying somethings out loud.
“A, a, I can’t smell.” She said.
We had been slashing away at a field of overgrown sturdy pigweed  the sun hitting us had, it wasn’t enjoyable so I offered to bring Tea and Githeri.
Things are bad when tata thinks I’m  mad since she is the one human who has had my back over the years even in my mad schemes. If I called her and said- hey tata, I want to go to Pluto- She would send me pocket money for the trip. So I told her never mind it’s probably my nose.
But tata is mad too, probably why we get along. Her madness takes another form- Unimaginable positivity, that’s the best phrase I can come up with to describe her take on life.
I remember one time someone came and packed up her chicken, all her laying chicken . The next day she  went out and bought others. A week later, she was getting about six eggs a day .
I guess, if someone planted a mountain infront of tata, she would not  blast a way through it, but she would  find a way round it, maybe by negotiating with the mountain to please make way. She is the woman mentioned in proverbs 30.

Kamau and Ming Ming

Friday, April 29, 2011

harvesting macadamia nuts

this morning, as I was blowing hard at the fire and making no progress, I stopped to pull out a  thorn from my finger. Dry macadamia leaves  are full of sharp thorns, and I have plenty in my palms since I started using them. I paused to think that in a short while, I've become so comfortable it's hard to tell the difference between me and the locals, which is an advantage to me, fitting in, blending in and getting on with it. So I listed myself as one of the weirdest people I've met, and pounded on a single macadamia nut . My new set up makes me think of  a doll house, playing house(cha mama) fire that doesn't really cook, evenings that end without the usual climax of a steps and orders household, it's all about doing what seems best at that time.

Last night, when I put on the cheap rice to cook, I knew we were set for an amazing super, which  turned out just so, half cooked half burned, and sticky, but there is always a solution to such meals, plenty of black pepper, hot pepper, and avocado, then wolf it down in minutes.

Well, I had to check  how ripe my recent passion fruit wine was getting on, just to clear the former taste. I must say this new wine could see me become a mututho dealer ( http://www.kentv.net/kentv-news/1-latest-news/3179-misery-in-kenya-as-mututho-law-bites), but dreams of self employment are still a length away.

This morning I attended a funeral, my friend lost his father to a disease, he is younger than me,my friend, and now looking at him, I can't help feeling the weight on his shoulders, and seeing the vuta nikuvute(push and pull) from the extended family, I have this thought in my mind: We live only for a short while, if we make it until 70, the rest of the years are filled with misery. So why can't we all move an inch, just an inch so that we can all fit in within the time limit we have to breath. The speaker at the funeral, an aged brother left no doubt that all those in Jehovah's memory will be resurrected.In God's new earth, everyone will have the  freedom to live as they were meant to be, in perfect health.

I'd like to share a soundtrack from Juno, the movie,  the only movie I have watched  ever so many times, only seconded by Pareneeta, but this computer won't allow adobe flash, so I'll just keep humming this song:


You may tire of me as our December sun is setting because I'm not who I used to be
No longer easy on the eyes but these wrinkles masterfully disguise
The youthful boy below who turned your way and saw
Something he was not looking for: both a beginning and an end
But now he lives inside someone he does not recognize
When he catches his reflection on accident ..


It's by the band Death Cab for Cutie, can't get it off my head. Brothers on a hotel bed, and this here is wild rose, Endarasha's finest.




Sunday, April 3, 2011

Thank You



I spoke with an old pal yesterday. He said I inspired him to write after he saw my collection of handwritten books, that was in ’06 I think, so he has been writing and he wanted to know, what to do with the volumes? I told him I have mine locked up in a box, for which I misplaced the key.

I had texted him to ask-was he alright? We are very alike so I haven’t been too worried that we haven’t communicated in a while. I tend to take a break from communication sometimes, and from friends and family, then while I’m getting on with life thinking all is alright, someone shows up at my door wanting to know- Is something wrong?

So my Pal, he’s the one who suggested I get on blogger since I had trouble posting on my webpage.

When he called, I thought it was one of my editors asking why I haven’t sent a story I had opened my mouth to say I had but can’t get round it, so I was pensive, until he laughed.

I guess it’s because of the ease at which me and this old friend can talk. After a year, 3, we just continue from where we left, no pressure, no questions, or judgment on the other’s choice of life.

-So you decided to become a fish trader in Lake Victoria? Fine, what have you written lately?

Whenever I feel unsure or unsettled about my writing, on instinct I end up tracing Ken and if we meet up for a chat, I end up getting any pilled up energy and writing. He taught me that writing, being an art should be taken seriously, we were looking at the art displayed at the Hilton Art shop one evening . “ We are all artists, when humans don’t discover their artistic side, they turn to the basic art of creating.”

Onetime, as I was writing my 2nd novel, I caught malaria and was struggling to write between sick spells. Ken came over, we chat over kahawa no.1( Rough coffee that needs extensive boiling to taste like coffee). I felt better after, and finished my novel.

So this week when I called Ken, we chat and I finally managed to write two stories from my last trip, which is a relief.

Friday, March 25, 2011

.....just get on a bus

after high school I was still a rioting teenager suffering the effects of a troubled mind. I cut ,my long hair but it grew back in offense like kei apple that has been burned to the ground.. I had trouble maintaining curly hair which I wanted to have but I only went about looking like a Somali shepherd boy or like a male Ethiopian athlete like Tlotlego likes to put it.

There was this period I didn't have shampoo, or conditioner  and was washing my hair with course bar soap and using coconut oil( you don't smell it after a while)haha.
I mentioned to someone I knew in college that I needed to wash my hair but wasn't really eager. Would you believe it he said- come over I'll wash it for you-so sweet. It wasn't a trap either, his sisters laughed, I think his brother thought it was tacky.

I was thinking about this when meditating abut Nyeri men. Not a single gentle man exists among them. My aunt explained this fact to me."They love money, are contemptuous and useless, they think property is what makes a man."
Earlier, I only thought they had an ego, but now, as I make my calculations, I could  count the gentle men I've met in this region in our hand. One of them was this  young man who came  up to me after high school and asked- are you alright? With real interest,like he would take what was bothering me and give it a good thump. I had just  realised we weren't as rich as I had always assumed, and I was moving away from my family.
Perhaps it's the Hero factor.

Another thought, very people around here(Nyeri) marry. They have girlfriends, with three children, 3 years down the line; if they make it that far and that could be the third wife- ah.

So anyway. This morning I was walking fast to reach town quick, I got a lift from a friendly shop owner on a motorbike! ( I told him I was recently married nearby),  I was so excited, it was my first and  I  had a 10 o'clock interview but I had been listening to stories by my friend's father, he's the old man I was talking about, he told me his dog- Popi, sleeps the kind of sleep a drunkard sleeps and I laughed like a mad person, he said laughing is good, but he stopped laughing a lot when he realised laughing too much is also stupidity, he also told his  wife that he will die soon, and they'll meet on the other side of the valley. I found that very funny, he has been sick and is faintly worried about not being able to do the things he used to do as a young person, like just, getting on a bus and heading to Arusha.

 I think I'm just gonna stay in Meru

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Animal Tolerance


He was  holding a small brown lamb which made a perfect picture of a shepherd boy. I asked if I could hold the lamb, I've never held one for than  three seconds
He handed it to me, said it was docile because the mother had rejected it after giving birth two twins.
"It chose the white one, so we feed cow milk to this one."

Soon after, I saw the  boy  grab the  mother's  right  hind leg.
"Come and suckle, he called to the lamb, who understood the urgency or the times for  he came quick and suckled with all his might.
"Let me catch another one for you, the boy said to the  lamb. And he fell another mother sheep. " You, come over stop wasting time," said the boy to the lamb. The lamb run.

One old man  said to be the other day- I  only have 1,300 days left to live. I laughed. He is a funny man, he said no one should kill wasps, because wasps eat spiders.
"No one will ever die from a single wasp sting, but a bite from a spider will kill you instantly."
So he won't chase away the wasps  sheltering under his latrine, because they have a purpose, even though they sting him several times a weak.
"You know in China, they use bee stings to for stroke therapy, so I have a feeling, the wasps might be useful  to the nerves."

He also said to me, " don't despise frogs for their look, they eat snakes, but in my life I've never heard that someone died from a frog bite."

I have seriously been  thinking of getting a gun. I'd round up all the donkeys on earth and end their misery.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

fires

I have a hard time getting a fire going.
Be it wood fires, stove fires, charcoal fires any fire. It’s like Math. My uncle says he has a solution  for it each time he finds me going crazy in a smoke filled kitchen.

“It is simple, tell Nyawira to bring me a goat of fire”
translated, he means to say that according to custom, my mother ought to give him a goat on my behalf, so that I can be able to make fires. Mburi ya mwaki he calls it. I should pursue that idea, not for any superstitious reasons, but to find out if say I got married, would the groom be asked to bring along a goat of fire along with the blankets for my mother, the sodas for the cooking women, the lesos for the aunties and the guard of wine for  the uncles.

 Last month I saw a woman get into a taxi with 2 sheep. She was taking them to her maternal home as dowry since her husband died before he  finished off the dowry price. She is in her early 50’s, surely.

I’m told if I was to get married the groom would be asked for my mother’s dowry too, since  she isn’t married (hahaha. Lolz) sorry. I told cucu, when that time comes, I’ll elope and come back a month later with a marriage certificate from the D.C;s Office.

We are out of firewood most of the days, and we have to use maize stalks, maize cobs and other debris about the house.
Soon we might be using  cowdug. I have a mind to pray for daily firewood. I was going to tell auntie we ought to be saying- give us this day our daily firewood but changed my mind in fear of a lecture against blasphemy.

But seriously we are getting our daily maize meal we might a well expound on our prayers.
Things which facilitate the getting of our daily ugali.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Steady as she goes

Yesterday, I stopped in the middle of the street to laugh. There was this dude singing very loudly, don't stop me from singing, this is not your town. So he looks my way and starts to sing- young girl, why be proud of your two breasts, a dog has eight and it doesn't boast-
I like such characters, maybe because inside me, I sometime am that kind of carefree character, who despite being different, resisting the society's norms, still finds her way, as everyone would were they to live, and not just imitate. Many times I don't quite understand the paths I take though distinct, but relying heavly on instinct like the animals I love, who love me unconditionally, and so far so good.

Last few weeks I've had to look at decisions, weigh them, try to pick out which is the most exciting, fresh,risky. Well, not exactly, but along those lines.

I was staying with my second family for the weekend, a simple, lovely set up. The father of the house loves loud music and everyone goes along with it, the son, just turned 16, in my mind he's stil 13 and a half. He likes to dance and he taught me a few moves. He's in high school so he knows what's in, and we played J Bloogs song- Let's do it again- over and over, late at night, and it didn't bother the sister, who was studying math, or the newest visitor- they always have someone new, everyday- who was reading some magazine half asleep. So we danced, then listened to a classic fm, and sniggered like two school girls.

But in the back of my mind, I have this decision hanging loose like the soot laden strings of old cobwebs in my aunt's kitchen. They become part of the room, that when it rains and they dissolve, you somehow miss them, though you always knew, at the back of your mind, they are not permanent. Perhaps it's the resistance to change. It has been six months and even though I knew they would be over, I resist, despite the warm thought of getting out once again on my own, living a quiet life, reading numerous books and making soup out of this and that every other day, listening to Colbie Caillat, David Tao and Matchbox 20 at the highest volume.
I guess it's the feeling that, these six months will never be repeated. I have to get set up, and as much as I have enjoyed the evening laughs with mama, the late night heart to heart talks with tata, photography sessions with my cousin, he's got quite good at it too, and guessing cucu's mood everyday, it was a season in my lifetime.

I have to leave eventually, and every day of my life I'll remember this stage of my life, like the sign language class I took at the university some years ago, the trip to an Island some few years ago, the saree clad Mumbai ladies with such quick feet the saree seemed to flow. Memories.



Monday, March 7, 2011

paloma kimani waturaco

I wanted to write something exciting, like how this Paloma song is a hit where I live, but I'm yet to decide whether the other Naija version by the same guy is a bigger hit, I would also like to write about the cow theft in my village, how cows disappear at night, only to re-appear as fresh meat in a different county, and every farmer now has to sleep with one eye open like an ogre incase of any new movements. Yeah that's the village news. After pulling water pipes around the farm, honestly, a one man guitar tune is very relaxing. Though the honest truth is I left my farm diaries in the village so I have to use old material, yeah and my computer is acting up.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Oblivious to the City


Yesterday I walked into the market  and felt at home. Somehow above all the din, it was peaceful. Perhaps from the fruity smells and noisy retailers. It reminded me of going to Chowkit market in Kuala Lumpur. I used to call it  the fruit tasting stroll. The peddlers would ask you taste mangosteen, a bit of rambutaan, a slice of dragon fruit . This is a red fruit covered in spikes, it grows from a type of cactus. If you have eaten the tiny cactus fruit, that is the big version of it.
 I have a pain in my right pointing finger  from  two months ago. I saw a nice cactus flower and tried to touch it, ended up with a thorn in my flesh and I’ve tried poking around, dipping my finger in kerosene, it’s still painful.

Like one time in Puchong, Malaysia I saw a  cactus plant ridden with ripe fruits, I was hungry- we had been walking about in the sun and the fruits looked appealing- I picked a handful, and my friends must have thought- ah, maybe her hands can take it. I  must say that was a crazy adventure. I ate the fruits, yes, but only a week later when the pain and swelling in my palms had gone down and a friend  suggested I use a knife and a fork.
So the market, it was interesting seeing  the red and yellow mangoes, fresh ginger, fragrant passion fruits, cheap shoes, which I bought- you can never  have enough shoes, and finally: finally, I got  ballet shoes that fit me. I live them but never get my size. Even though I have to walk with my  toes stretched out, I feel very happy.

 Then I went to the post office to pick up  my stuff from Malaysia. I love my trash, and I carry it around but I might just stop after being charged more than I suppose all those old clothes cost. I didn’t want to argue since I saw an Asian lady almost in tears for the amount they mentioned to her for  a packaged handbag she received. Last night I had a dream that my last  box of things  had arrived, and new things kept popping out, boots for my uncle, valued at ksh. 5,000 by the tax people, a knock off Gucci bag, yeah,. These Kenya Revenue Authority people really got into my subconscious, officially my new enemy.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Comfortable 20's having a drink, listening to the world.

The wood fire burns lazily under the mumbling sufuria(cooking pan). I'm peeling overripe plums for home made jam.
The smell is sharp, like new red wine. My bare legs are outstretched on the earthen floor to catch some warmth from the fire. A radio sounds off jazz tunes. From the window, a few stars sparkle gaily.
The sky has moved, I can tell from the position of the plough and the three stars on a row.. The cat is picking bits of food from the floor. It feels good. I search capital Jazz club on facebook but the link is slow so I put on the jam to cook and imagine I'm close to the sea, with silent waves slapping the sand playfully. It's easy to imagine. The forest is a few meters away, dark and quiet. I know there are animals and bugs I've never met inside that sea of trees, just like in a water sea. One of my favourite mainstream song goes like- I'm with the bartender, if you're looking for me, I'll be at the bar with her. I think if I thought hard enough I'd tell you whether it's T.I or T-Pain in it. It reminds me of days when me and my girl Bridge would get a bottle of red wine well, she mainly got it, I only had enough cash to keep alive.
We would have fries and perhaps home made muffins, I loved the banana ones, as we watched Avatar, the Last air blender Cartoon Series, which would be hilarious than the usual measure.
It wasn't really about the wine and grab, it was more of-Saving the little moments. Sometimes we listened to Norah Jones or Maxwell, other times we watched a different movie on our laptops.
My heart was chipping away like acid rock; but somehow, eating junk and drinking wine with a solid friend was a lovely stage.
I'm brewing a bottle of red wine with plums from last season and an internet recipe. It looks red and rich, but made my mouth smell like Tom's, my dog. Maybe I should wait the 12 months the recipe said it would take. That is, if gran doesn't catch a whiff and send it flying across the Aberdare forest, which is currently on fire.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Farm Diaries- The long walks





I started off by walking a distance of about 25 kilometres two way to visit a colonial house that used be rented by  nuptials for honeymoon. It’s a beautiful house set on a hill, with the great mount Kenya directly facing the most important  windows. It’s in the normal colonial style, wooden floors of the ground, with black paint , and white wash for the huge windows.
There is a separate  kitchen, with a chimney coated black with soot, and a sagging bamboo ceiling. The reason for my visit was, I’ve been simmering with this brilliant  idea  to feature colonial houses in my area, even though a few  people  have told  me it’s  not really  something they wish to read about.
“Would  you imagine if  someone came, took  your  land and your neighbour’s  land too and moved  you  to a small plot and made you his servants? Then on the same spot  you had  your  house  he built his own magnificent mansion?”
So when I heard  about the one  that was converted to a guest house, it caught  my interest, up until that Monday . I was received  by a rather, thin man, he told  me he was  man of God, and said  he knew  what I wanted  from him but I would  be disappointed.
He gave me a comprehensive  history about the Presbyterian Church, his family, and  gave  me a tour of his library, which included different Bible translations and home remedies. He initially thought I wanted to request to host a wedding, possibly mine at that compound, so when I told him I was  a journalist, he quizzed me and asked for my opinion on a lot of things, saying his daughter  has recently graduated  from Mass Communication School and it would be nice  if we  met since he could  tell ‘even though I don’t have  a lot of flesh on me,  I something on my neck”

Seeing I had no story- the house is now a family home to him and his family, a minister’s manse- I walked back and went out to sniff out more stories, but first I sat and ate  the supply of plums I was carrying, the sun  piercing to my very marrow.

I had seen some farmers harvesting onions and I decided to pass by, it was a large crowd of workers, with some happy young men calling out to me, ‘hey, someone wants to talk to you’ so when I  started towards them, they began to disperse . I sat to talk to one woman, who wanted to know my family tree, later I found out they were relatives of my grandmother through marriage and polygamy. We had a nice  chat, the owner of the onions said I needed to show them where to  market their products, since I obviously know more than them. I did some rare quick thinking and said, of course when I write about farming, I am passing on knowledge, so at some point I might have a marketing article. He invited me for their Onion Farmers Association  general meeting.

 As I left, they offered me onions to cook. I could only carry a few, and they thought that was not very appreciative, were it up to them, I should have carried a whole gunia. I think they were happy about the pictures  I took of them and promised to bring them print outs.
I rushed through the rest of the week, doing more interviews and planting peas along with garlic, since my aunt, a seasoned horticulture farmer suggested it, even though what I really wanted was to wait for my sweet potatoes to grow, then I plant some hot pepper.
 
As  the week came to a close I was fatigued, really worn out and I dozed off while chatting with my friends, that was embarrassing.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Cats,Dogs and other fauna



Both of our dogs mad,  the older one is a serious nut case, but we somehow love him and side with him despite his mistakes. He is currently healing a wound on his left ear which he got from his night trips. I always resort to amoxyll, the anti-biotic when the animals are sick and it works, somehow. He had a fever, my aunt gave him a painkiller and a sleeping pill and cleaned his wound. He is fine now, even though the past two weeks he has  been scratching at the would, perhaps to prolong his convalescence  to avoid the leash. When it dried up this week we had him on the leash, and he broke free the first few times, dragging along the leash and getting more  bruises from his night trips. My neighbour said she’d poison him for eating his green maize. Tom, as we call him has two weaknesses. Eggs and green maize, fried; and he hunts for them, oh yes he does. So this morning, when I found an empty container of cooking fat, and a happy looking mongrel, I profusely regretted having left the kitchen door ajar. I’m going to get it from grandmother since I let the dogs out last night. I feel safer when they are running around howling in the compound, even though I know  that wouldn’t prevent an elephant from walking across the house if he needed to, but at least  bad guys won’t steal our cows or sheep while we are sleeping, to slaughter them a kilometer away.
 Not far from home, someone’s cow was stolen in the night and slaughtered, leaving only the dirt from the intestines and the tail. And as the owner, an old widow picked up the tail and swang it  about on her way home, the neighbours felt an urge to tear the thieves, if they were ever found, into little bits.
So Tom, when he’s not  looking for eggs laid out in the bush, he’s eying which doors are open, so that he can grab a container of magarine or butter. The vet says it’s unhealthy.
A few days ago, the two dogs, Tom and Tusker ganged up to steal a baby rabbit. When  my aunt approached, Tom ran off, but Tusker has something wrong with her head, she continued to eat the poor thing like it was legal food. She got grounded and was on the leash a few nights, and a porridge rationing. Tom tries to hunt the cats too sometimes, unsuccessfully. Tusker tries to play with them, they scratch her .
One of the cats who has a family of two not very cute kittens is having a difficult time providing for the family, since, well, grandmother sold the maize and the rats  that had over populated have moved. She is not into the vegetarian food we give them. So she got a medium sized one from the store rooms , brought it to eat by the cow shed- a note about Sock, that’s her name, she’s  black with white toes- she hangs out a lot  with the cows, I think she identifies more with them. So you’ll find her relaxing with them after her meal. A few minutes later I saw a chicken running with a half potion of a rat, instinct had me chasing the hapless fowl with a stick round the compound. Chicken must have powerful lungs. It didn’t drop the ‘hunt’, I got tired and decided I’ll never eat an egg from socks anyway so the chicken might as well have it. Poor socks getting harassed by the chicken, maybe she should  make a better budget  when she decided to add on to the family.

Monday, January 3, 2011

the waiting game


Mama asks, what did the book publishers say. I tell him, they’ve not replied. He says, don’t you think you might  find  your story on the street  with another person’s name on the cover? I laugh and think to myself, he’s telling the truth but I’m not aggressive and sometimes I think I’m in the wrong career, at least for now  when there is stiff competition and everyone is in everyone’s face.

But when my auntie called me to see   two elephants fighting Friday morning, I quickly got my camera.


I have stories  that need to be put down somewhere to decongest  my mind, and I will do  that at  my own timing.

Efficiency, why we must learn to be.

 There are no schools that you will sign up to to learn how to be efficient. Most will teach you a profession or a skill and it's up to ...