Tag Archives: personal

The Times They Are A Changin’

The whole house is silent save the persistent bird who sounds rather cross outside my window. Handsome Husband, recovering from one of those weeks where the fight between Ugandan bureaucracy and sanity was bloody and valiant, still sleeps, Princess lies upon her bed as if a fallen angel from Mars, dreams of her own funky world, Trooper is away at yet another sleep over where she can enjoy the company of other teens, those strange creatures.

And I cannot sleep because my mind is a buzz with change, more change, the fear and excitement of it all. How can any family endure such frequent change and still stay normal? What is normal? We are living in the eye of the storm, the centre of a a whirling tidal wave and this time it is going to up chuck us onto an island.

Bahrain.

Say it again. The long ahhh, the soft, caress of the H and the promise of sweetness in the rain.

A tiny blip of an island sandwiched between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a place no one had really registered until it was plastered on the front pages less than a week after we had agreed to go. What timing.

I thought we would be in Uganda for longer, at least one more year and then, the plan was: we would see. But now the plan has been tossed, like a pancake right back into the fire.

There was a time I feared being trapped here. What if we never left? What if we became one of those who stayed in Africa forever, until the red soil crept under my nails, my skin and never left? I worried I would grow strange here. People who never leave sometimes do. I worried it was not my place, I never felt comfortable here, not truly. I didn’t like wearing the scratchy coat of the perpetual Other.

I should have trusted my gypsy soul. How could we not move? Isn’t there some giant conveyor belt beneath my world, pulling, tugging, propelling me to pack, say good bye, leave, un pack, say hello, begin again?

Handsome leaves in one week. He is the one who is pulling up the anchor, taking us away, to a better job, a more exciting opportunity for him. I am fiercely proud. And we must sit and work and wait for three more months, live here but have my heart over there, pulled by invisible marionette strings between Uganda and a tiny dot in the Gulf.

Bahrain.

Never would I have guessed.

So good readers, those of you who followed me from Trinidad to Uganda, will you follow again?

“Come with me on a journey across the sea.”

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The in-between world of 3limes

Excuse me while I pat myself on my back. I have been writing 3limes, posting on average 2-3 times a week for two and a half years. This morning Princess asked me this question:” What if you don’t have a good week or nothing fun happens, what do you blog about?”

Good question. The rigour of finding something to say, that might not bore my readers to tears is a discipline I need. No matter what is going on, I need to find something to write, say, and comment on, photograph. I am generally an open book who finds it hard to hide behind words. There are things I cannot write, people I cannot mention, and a school of which I cannot write. There are marital dramas, painful episodes, loss, love, picking up and wondering how you got there, wonder at it all, fear, discomfort, anger. All these things can be hinted at but rarely spoken. And yet I persevere, keep writing, leaking little clues.

The other day I met a woman who knew within days of moving here that she would stay here for life. She instantly loved it and felt at home. I envied her, wishing that I too had that certainty about where I live. As a child I moved every four years, I never broke the spell until Montreal and for that reason despite my gypsy rearing, Montreal has always been home. And yet it is no longer. I fight the desire to return.

I live in an in-between world. I am a teacher but don’t live the life of an expat  teacher, having a family, a husband and being generally 10 years older than most, not having the freedoms they have. I am an expat but do not have the husband with the job that provides the expat perks, I am English but so very not English, more Canadian really, but then again, really not Canadian either. I am writer, but not published, a photographer who is too busy to organize the exhibition that is brewing in my mind. I am a mother of two girls who wishes for a third, a son preferably, yet I will not have any more children. I am a sister, a daughter and aunt but live 5000 miles from any family.

I live in Africa on borrowed land. This is not my place.  Whenever I complain to Handsome Husband that my soul is uneasy, I do not feel myself here, he asks the million dollar question: “so where?”

And all I can ask for is the sea, where I find the peace my wandering soul asks for.

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Faltering.

Handsome Husband seems to think that my blog is faltering. Faltering? Do you know what I have to do around here to get five minutes to tap furiously on the lap top in hopes of producing something somewhat entertaining or meaningful for my reader? Okay perhaps, I have taken my eyes of the target and been a little distracted. I am teaching the teens, surviving, living, going to the doctor, nursing sick princesses, co directing a pantomime and cooking for 19. I am planning for guests, reading the books, shopping the shops and walking the walk; so, faltering? Really? Am I not good anymore? Nor fun, not amusing? So I went and checked my stats. Not aways a fun idea because what we can learn from strangers who accidentally find me while hunting for Ugandan girls singing in the rain and killing chickens? Or the best one yet: Do Hippos Roar at the Moom? I mean how many of that number are real readers and not just people who stumbled by looking for Roaring Hippos and Trini Carnival?

But the truth is the number has gone down, the readers are running away!

So now to be perfectly honest I am having a bit of a wobbly. I am not entirely sure where I am going with this blogging thing. I am not sure how many grocery store mishaps, safari trips and Kampala stories I can write. I don’t want to winge nor complain but quite frankly often that is all I can do over here. It is not easy. But you don’t want to read about my homesickness, my longing for shiny shops and restaurants with clever handsome waiters.

Part of the problem is that I am not allowed to write about Camp Hormone anymore, well not in any detail and that is really what I do all day and I used to love writing about the teens. Not anymore.

So this is a small crisis. Not a big one, and certainly to be expected after 2 and a half years of writing 3limes.   Just feeling a bit lost and faltering, that’s all.

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Another bit of fun? Why not…

Procrastination is always one of my favourite things to do and guess what I found? Another pleasant waste of time.  Play along if you wish.

Favourite time of day

I don’t get to enjoy my favorite time of day very often because I have to wake up too early and teach the teens but I love after midnight when the house is quiet and I can pad around and write, read, talk on the phone. I love the night, the dark. Unfortunately I am in bed long before midnight these days. So on a school day I would have to say that I love climbing under crisp, freshly washed sheets to read a book and enjoy the sensation of a day well lived.

Where and when did you meet the love of your life?

Dahab, Egypt 1992. We are still married and he is still handsome. See here for the full and rather romantic story.

What three words would your friends from outside the blogging world use to describe you?

Honest, loyal, funny and Fairy Godmother of birthdays.

What country would you like to visit and why?

Argentina. The people are beautiful, the music is beautiful and I have always wanted to learn to Tango.

What’s your favourite dish to cook?

Lasagna and brownies. They are my specialty, and my friends have come to expect and depend on them.

Salt or sugar?

Sugar, in the form of chocolate. Preferably Toblerone. I have a long and complicated relationship with Toblerone. The only thing that might get in the way of our relationship is Crème Brule. Which is cream and sugar with more sugar on top.

What are your favourite make up and beauty items?

Not long ago I  unpacked my bathroom and having spent a good long year in a Shoebox with no shelves to display my “spa” I am now shocked to see how many products I actually have. I might have a problem here that I had hidden in boxes and bags! So my favorite things are hard to choose but here is my effort:  OPI nails ( I like We’ll Always have Paris),  Bare Minerals powder foundation, Estee Launder moisturizer, Shu Uemura eye liners and Diptych perfume. Oh and I am recently addicted to Morocco Hair Oil.

What are your favourite flowers?

Orchids. I just adore how they look and how stubborn they are to grow and love.

What are your worst vices?

Can I publish that here? There are parents and teachers and students reading! Okay, I’ll find one or two. The odd cigarette, but only after dark with red wine ( I have my rules), Impatience, Handbags, hating exercise.

At what time of your life were you happiest and why?

Hardest question of them all. I believe that life is like a pearl necklace and we collect perfect moments as pearls as we move through time. I have had extraordinary moments of joy which may arise in a pretty dark period. I was very happy when I was 22 and traveling, having my babies, beach days in Trinidad, vacations just the four of us, my 40th birthday party in Montreal, surrounded by my sisterhood, this past summer in London, driving in the passenger seat of a 1973 VW orange Beetle through the Manitoba prairies, laughing in the Trini Sin room with good friends. When I am with the people I love in beautiful surroundings I am happy.

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Ambitious projects for the remainder of the year.

Time is skipping on by, winged chariot and all and there are things I really must do before 2011 rolls round and I am hit with that awful sense of zero accomplishment. Is there a word for that? I will make one up: under-accomplishment. There.

Perhaps if I write a list, put it up here in the most public of places then it will be more likely to happen, owing to the shame and name rule.  So here it is: my short list of big things to do.

1.     I must buy a spare bed. We have guests arriving from the far away Land of Oz and there is nowhere, presently for them to sleep.

2.     Buy Christmas gifts, easier said than done if you live within money throwing distance to a glorious temple of commerce, otherwise known as a Mall. Here the options include African crafts, handmade tree decorations, Wildlife Photography books and some lovely material to wrap around one’s waist.

3.     Invite people over to dinner. Why is this so hard to do? I can teach a room full of Camp Hormone inmates, co-direct a pantomime, drive a car through scary pot holes…but invite people over to my house to eat? Not.

4.     Throw things away. I hate clutter and there is a scary pile that has appeared on my desk. Not entirely sure where it came from, but there it lies, taunting me, and I need to head into the red room and sort it all out. Soon.

5.     Find a costume for Veruca Salt. Apparently she needs some sort of fur wrap. Likely one that. More head scratching needed.

6.     Gather all the wires, for all the electrical paraphernalia we have, including USB cables, chargers, TV wires, other black or grey wires that have no name and sort-them-out. I am being taken over by wires.

7.     Go out on another photo walk-about-trip.  The last time I did this it was very successful, although somewhat tiring considering the number of times I had to ask people if I could take their photograph and explain who I was and why I wanted their picture and promise that I wouldn’t use it in any untoward way. I think it is time for another walk about. Each time I feel more fully engaged with the place that I live rather than seeing it through fleeting and rushed moments while either walking to school or driving around.

8.  Bake a cake. When I lived in Montreal I was a true baker, often pulling treasures out of the oven 2 to 3 times a week. It has been a while since the warm scent of fresh cake wafted through my home and it is time.

9.   Read something other than a prescribed IB text. I have two books by my bed I am aching to get into. I need to make the time to start them as I have a small window of opportunity before the next IB text rolls around.

10.  Lie in my hammock. Just once.

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Quiet Please

I have been let out of Camp Hormone, albeit briefly for a week’s respite. I am so happy that I can take a whole week off and come back refreshed and hopefully a more inspiring teacher. We can’t leave our performing switch turned to on all the time, and we are performers really, standing up and talking in front of a lot of seated people, though I expect real performers, the ones who people pay to see, have lots more people paying attention. I have often said that the only way to teach kids anything is to keep them awake. Bored kids learn nothing. It is a like a dam enters their brain and stops up the memory hole; everything you say goes in one ear and out their nostrils unless they are entertained. And with a population reared on You-tube and Dora the Explorer they demand a lot from their classrooms. We need to keep moving.

So I am a little tired but have that warm feeling of satisfaction. Now I feel like being very very quiet. Its all been a bit noisy for the past 8 weeks. I hope the kids all have a good rest too, they deserve it.

And the cherry on this plum pie is that my mother, shall we call her, The Queen, is here for a visit. It is the very first time that any one has been to see our lives here and I can’t tell you how amazing it is to show her around school, take her to the Villa, point out our Sunday Scrabble table and the pool I don’t visit enough. Trooper said it was as if both her worlds had collided. It is all quite strange but wonderful. Tomorrow we take off to see beautiful Uganda, land of no smog, enormous skies, wild smells, buzzing heat and exotic animals.

So not only do I get a week off, I get a week off in the wilds. I have a plan to try and limit the animal photos. I’m sure you are bored of those. Maybe I’ll see if I can find something else.

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Filed under Family Stuff, Miss Teacher

Good News

Often I have a nervous Blog Moment. Does anyone really want to hear about my pregnant house keeper? My new house? Princess’s Chatterbox status, starting school? And then I plod on, typing away more for myself than in any vain hope that someone out there in the blogosphere is reading. It is a funny business though. So if you are bored and don’t want to read about the good news brewing in the world of 3limes, stop now.

We might need to change Princess’s name to Princess Chatterbox. Since returning to Kampala we have barely had a moment when she is not chatterboxing away; from the moment she awakes to the moment her pretty head hits the pillow she has something to say and the house is never quiet. Why is this good news? Because it means she is happy and when I think back to a year ago when we were waking up in the Cockroach Palace I think I have a different child.

We are moving out of the Shoebox! In two weeks! While we were in London galavanting Handsome Husband wasn’t just working, swimming laps and sipping beer. No, he was house hunting and after visiting close to 15 houses he found us a real gem. We are hopping with excitement, girls are day dreaming about paint colours and I am imagining sunday morning coffees on the veranda. Handsome Husband will be bending over, shovel in hand planting beans and carrots while I stare at the trees and sip coffee.

We are getting a washing machine. I am ridiculously happy about this point. I am 41 and drooling over a square machine that washes clothes. Is there something wrong with this picture?

Our housekeeper is pregnant.  (Yes I have a housekeeper. I live in Africa people and I will take the perks!) This is not really good news, to be perfectly honest. She already has one child and no husband. However this is her affair. She never told us she was with child, probably fearing the security of her job so finally I decided to broach the subject. After some months of watching her putting on weight it was becoming too obvious to simply blame on an over dose of matoke. The conversation went well. I assured her we would take care of her, pay her during her time at home and informed her that we would be moving to a larger house and that she would therefore be getting a raise. But nothing made her smile quite as much as the news that we were finally getting a washing machine. For 10 months this sweet young thing as has bending over and hand washing for a a family of 4. This is soon to come to an end.

Back to work tomorrow. No this is not really classified as good news other than the fact that finally getting down to some work will appease my stress over the fact that I have not yet read one single text that I am due to teach.


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