Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pigs In Heaven

Barbara Kingsolver is an author who is universally renowned and for me, at least, always associated with The Poisonwood Bible. 

That assumption has since been quashed. 

I beg you to read her books, The Bean Trees and the sequel, Pigs In Heaven.  I'm a mess.  My eyes are puffy, and my head is heavy.  I've read both books within 5 days of each other - which is saying something seeing that my blog posts teeter on the verge of taking forever to materialise - and spent this afternoon surrounded by tissues as I turned the last page. 

Her characters are pure magic and the writing pure genius.  Cut yourself loose and buy them now, you'll kick yourself if you don't.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Winds of Change

It's official.  I'm a person who cannot commit to writing a blog until at least two months have passed.  If I were given the challenge of having to stitch every shining star onto the night sky it's obvious I'd pull that one off at astonishing speed when compared to the time it takes to compose 3 lines.  After my last posting, which featured members of the human race in various different poses, I was thrilled and shocked to find I had 5 followers.  It was at that point I felt the pressure to perform, and subsequently panicked.  It's a thin and flimsy lie to say that it was my gang of followers who pushed me into hibernation, but without listing excuses and rubbish reasoning it's the one I'm going to use!

As it stands right now I'm watching the dark of night envelope the cold of day.  Autumn in England is pulling like a freight train and there's no warmth in the vanishing wintery sun.  Africa, England is not.  It's back at home that I currently find myself, having flown across the dark continent to the motherland 6 weeks ago.  It's great to be back, to hook up with old friends, to have cups of tea and eat cream cake with my grandma, to meet my tiny nephew who looked, on first impressions, more like a gecko than a human being - but in the following weeks he's filled out and taken on the role of an angel.  My niece Grace is a trick, she's 2 years and 4 months going on 8.  She's hypnotic, enchanting, as cute as honey and as naughty as a chimpanzee.  It's wonderful to be back in the tight family fold.

I've walked the river path alongside my parents house and it's here, at the shoreline, where we scattered half of Ella's ashes, that I spend some quiet time.  On my first return visit I spoke aloud into the wind and into the bright sunlight that made me shield my eyes and catch my breath and told her that I loved her.  Just before I flew in from Africa Chris and I spent the day honouring Ella's memory on what was the 2nd anniversary of her passing.  We lit a candle, planted more flowers in a cemented flower bed we created around her tree and lay back listening to an album of songs we made in her honour.  The rest of Ella's ashes were scattered there, on the banks of the river Nile, and it's in both of these special places that Chris and I feel a peace in our hearts - knowing she's there in what we see and in what we touch.

Being back in the First World (a term I find difficult to comprehend) often throws me off kilter, it's nuts.  Fridges are full of delicious and wonderful dairy products.  Clothes seem to cost the earth and fashion is a statement that leaves me lost for words.  In the heat of Africa dragging on shorts, t-shirts and flipflops gives you a fistful of time to sweat the big stuff, here the big stuff seems to be about what to wear.  The economy is twisting on unlevel playing fields, the new Coalition Government is talking huge cuts and huge job losses.  Two years down the line Mr Jo Bloggs continues to suffer because of the greed of a community of bankers that are hell bent on making everyone else pay for their downright disgusting behaviour.  However I understand that at the flip of a coin it happens in Africa where the mad despots cream off the top in a strikingly similar way but on the back of aid money, UN food distribution and Global handouts....through my eyes no one's got it right.

Chris came over for a two week stint just as my parents crossed the Irish sea on a boat destined for Cork.  It was a filthy day and rain poured over the whole of the England.  The phone call I took as they approached Wales was, 'christ, who knows if the boat will set sail in this weather'!?  It did and they rocked and rolled into sleepy Cork the following morning where they spent a week in the Emerald Isle, one of their favourite places.  In the interim Chris and I house, dog and fridge sat living like a proper married couple in a proper house complete with central heating and carpets.  We booted about, ate fish and chips and got on each other's nerves as only we can when thrown back into the chaos that is England.  It's as though we have itchy feet and find it strange to be visiting in a country we still call home, but where we feel like the odd ones out. 

So my husband came and went, boarding a plane back to Uganda as the Chilean miners were shot out of a hole having spent 2 months locked underground.  Chris announced upon his return that it had been a long trip back.  What with picking up our truck in Entebbe, repairing the engine and driving back into Jinja as night settled, the journey had indeed been a long and knackering one.  But as I often find myself being the voice of reason I pointed out that a Chilean miner stuck underground for 69 days was what you'd call, 'a bloody long trip.'  It was at this stage the line went fuzzy and I was told he couldn't hear me.  I wish to heaven we both could have made the journey together, back to the warmth of the African sun, where the soil is orange, the countryside is spray-painted a green so bright it makes the eye widen in wonder and where the prolific birdlife challenges every attempt at sleeping in. 

But I can't, not yet, as Chris and I have a miracle of a firecracker growing inside of me that we can't risk loosing.  We're thrilled, terrified, delighted and overwhelmed.  It's a combination of emotions that catches us daily.  I smile as I type the words, 'as of today I'm 15 weeks and 4 days pregnant'.  Can you believe?  I still have to pinch myself as I float on a cloud of hope. 

I'll write within the next few days, not the next few months.  This time you have my word ;)