Thursday, November 30, 2006

Stop the press!

I went to the bathroom at work yesterday (this is going to be good, you can just tell....) and I noticed that I'd been wearing my T-shirt inside out for 6 straight hours.

How is that even possible? I'm sure if you're reading this anywhere other than CA or FL you're thinking - I know, how is it possible that someone's only wearing a T-shirt in November! Chuffing weird!. But seriously - 6 straight hours and nobody told me?

Ok, it wasn't that good was it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ocean Swimming

It rained here last night for the first time in months. The first proper rain of the winter, which as a 'Brit' is still gobsmacking to me. No rain for months and months? It's unnatural. My Mum says that people from Manchester have webbed feet due to growing up suffused in drizzle. Not here.

Now for most Santa Barbarans (Sanna Barrbrans) the first rain of the season means turning off your sprinklers and cutting back on your monstrous water bills, or for some it's 'Stormwatch 2006', no joke, rain here is a headline event. For me, it is usually always welcome, except when it's the first rain of the season, because that means the end of ocean swimming.

I ocean swim. By choice. That's one of the things I would never, ever, have envisioned myself doing 15 years ago growing up in the UK, well that and living in the glorious U S of A, but again, that's another story. I ocean swim and I love it.

During the summer a group of us swim at least twice a week; on Sunday mornings which we follow with breakfast, and on Thursday evenings, which we follow with Mai Tais (much better). In fact we consume so many Mai Tais at the Shoreline Beach Cafe that we call ourselves the Mai Tris (as most of us have done a triathlon or two along the way).

The rain means no more ocean swimming for a while because the first proper downpour flushes months of rubbish, pesticides, oil and other chemicals right into the ocean, and for a few weeks at least it will be like swimming in a sewer, which it effectively is.

I love the photo above, because it epitomizes what I love most about the Mai Tris. The camaraderie, the booze, the fact that we're all shapes and sizes, and that we all wear the most thrown-together wetsuits and are generally really crap swimmers. And that's why I'm sad it rained for the first time this winter.
Spice It Up

To all you medical office managers out there silently cruising the web looking for inspiration, or more likely a new job (ha! jaded office managers, what a concept), I have the perfect recipe to get you through the Christmas season.

Literally a recipe. For Spiced Apple Cider. Put a huge vat of it in one corner of the office, mix apple cider with Williams Sonoma mulling spices - crucial 'secret ingredient' and let it sit in the coffee urn and stew. That's all you have to do and the waiting room fills up with this most incredible warm and enticing festive aroma, the patients are lapping it up like it's going out of fashion, and the doctors are chuffed to bits that their office is so popular.

What you should not do however, is send one of your minions out to buy extra Williams Sonoma mulling spices and have her loudly proclaim in front of the doctors 'wow that stuff's expensive'. Because then the yuletide atmosphere will disappear as readily as your Christmas bonus. Trust me.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bugger Off!

I have a new assistant at work, who I personally hired, so I have no-one to blame but myself. In general, she is very sweet and anxious to please, but she has this annoying habit that is driving me bonkers. She trys to mimic me, and it's really, really irritating, especially when she gets it wrong.

I know for certain people it's irristible not to practice your accent when talking to a foreigner, it's like some bizarre nervous tic some have - I'm sure a lot of people don't even realise they're doing it. That's not what's irritating. I'm not talking getting it wrong by doing an appalling accent that swings violently from Ringo Starr to the Queen in one sentence. Often that's more comic than annoying. I've been here for ten years now, and I can't do a passable Californian accent either. That distinctive nasal drawl thing that renders Santa Barbara into 'Sanna Barrbra' particularly when uttered by women. California is an entire State unable to pronouce its t's.

I'm talking getting the basic vocab wrong. Case in point. Bugger! As in, oh bugger it, bugger off, and bugger bugger bugger (a la Hugh Grant on getting stopped on Sunset).

My new employee says 'oh buggers' whenever she gets something wrong, which is pretty frequently considering she's just a fledging after all. She's not the only one either, I used to play tennis with an American lady who would say 'oh buggers' every time I ballsed up a shot (all the time). What are you supposed to do though? Correct someone's attempt at empathetic swearing? It's not even like anyone I know says bugger, it's very southern and posh after all. I'm hoping that with time she'll hear me swearing like a true English girl, (probably not all that much time considering I deal with Medicare on a daily basis) and she will learn to give up the buggers/boogers and start saying bollocks like a proper classy bird.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Turkey Day

Hope everybody had a Happy Turkey Day. Here's a picture of a pie I made, apple cherry cranberry. It tasted much better than it looked. I just couldn't channel enough inner-Martha Stewart to crimp my crust satisfactorily. What's a girl to do.

Here's a picture of Anna looking all gussied up for the occasion. She had a wonderful time, and absolutely loved being dressed up to the nines, which doesn't augur well for the future. I'm going to work hard at keeping my little surfer girl low-key on the girly stuff otherwise her wardrobe is going to start costing us a fortune!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Beautiful Dreamer

LK woke me last night with another of his comedy nightmares. Comedy to me - disturbing and bloodthirsty to him. He's always had them, so he's not that fazed any more, but it took some getting used to for me, to have him cavorting around in the middle of the night trying to thwart evil in the corner of the room.

I used to try and placate him, but that would just make him cross, because I clearly had no idea how dangerous the radioactive spider/sniper/rabid dog in question was, and he would become quite pissed off with how I could be so ignorant of our impending doom.

His suggestion has always been that I should switch on the lights, to snap him out of it, but these days it would also snap Anna out of her hard-to-attain toddler sleep. And yes, she does still sleep with us, which is another post entirely.

Anyway, back to last night. He wakes suddenly, and I hear him talking urgently but incoherently. As my eyes gradually adjust to the gloom I realise that he's reciting something, with his hand suspended over my head, as if he's blessing me, or more worryingly exorcising me. It was really disconcerting.

He sadly has no recollection of it, so I've been spending the entire day wondering if I was blessed or cursed. The jury's still out.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Our Million Dollar Washing Machine.

When I was about 5 months pregnant LK and I went downstairs to talk to our landlords about the possibility of putting a washing machine in our apartment. We had survived for 8 years with no in-house laundry, and while it was always a complete pain going to the laundromat (and later, as we got a bit more flush - dropping it off for fluff and fold) it was always do-able.

We didn't know much about babies, but we knew our laundry situation was going to reach situation critical as soon as Baby K made landfall. Our one-bedroom apartment was already full to bursting with hand-me-down furniture and bikes and surf boards, but we thought that with a little clever reorganisation we could just about fit a tiny European washing machine in the bathroom. Sort of.

We walked back up to our place later that evening after the usual 17 glasses of expensive Pinot (sadly not me), having been told that there was no way a washing machine could go up there. Apparently there was no other alternative than to buy an income property complete with washing machine. Looking back on it it does seem a cunning ruse to get rid of two tenants who were about to bring a screaming addition in to the upstairs apartment. What did happen in the end was that through truly creative (read terrifyingly dodgy) accounting we now 'own' an apartment building, and the first thing we did was install a stackable washer/dryer.

The other night I was lying in bed, and I could hear one of out tenants in the next door apartment discussing laundry-room etiquette. It appeared that someone, someone with a heart as black as Hades, had moved his pile of quarters from the dryer, put his wet clothes to one side, and had gazumped him by washing and drying their own clothes instead. This story was told in a very loud drunken, colourful voice, which I swear, was impossible not to overhear. The interesting thing was, they went through a list of all the other tenants to see who the most likely perp was. Finally after having gone through everyone else, they were left with us, their new landlords.

"What about the K's? Dude do you think it was them?"
"Naw man. They never do laundry. It's fucking WEIRD".

So there you have it. That is what our tenants think of us. Not beyond suspicion, unquestionably dirty, and above all FUCKING WEIRD.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Check 1-2-3

For the longest time now I've been aware of a weird dichotomy with patients who pay us by check.

Those who have the bland, boring bank-issue checks always pay on time and in full. Those who have the personalised, fancy checks always pay their balance in dribs and drabs and are significantly more likely to bounce their checks. The fluffier their checks, the worse their financial situation. If a check has both puppies and flowers, it's sometimes not even worth the time trying to cash it. A check with cherubs on it? Clearly that person is writing the check on a wing and a prayer.

The irony is, we have personalised checks, and ever since we got them our financial situation has started a subtle but irreparable slide. Of course, that may just be because we have Anna now, and children will always render you bankrupt, and I'm sure it's not unrelated to the recent interest rate hikes considering we foolishly have an ARM. But I'm susperstitious. I'm convinced that it's the checks putting some weird economic voodoo on our finances. Every time I write one of those Elvis checks (don't ask) I feel like I'm tempting fate. Flaunting our insolvency. Of course I could just reorder our checks, get some nice safe bland ones, but that's just daft right? I tell you, I'm that close to doing it otherwise we might just be singing Jailhouse Rock with Elvis.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Queen and I

I've just come back from seeing the movie 'The Queen' with two friends, one of whom called whilst we were queuing up to buy tickets to say:
"Am I in the wrong place?"
"Well, that depends where you are"
"I'm at Theatre X"
"Well yes, then you're not here and definitely at the wrong place"
"Shit, fuck, am I really" urgent whispering 'excuse me what movie is this we're watching' "Fuck, Flags of our Fathers. I'm sitting in the wrong movie eating Milk Duds. I'll be right there".

Nice one Jen (who finally did make it, yay)

Anyway, the film was brilliant, as I'm sure more than enough people have already said, Helen Mirren surefire Oscar blah blah blah. The thing is, that time, Diana's death, is a very poignant time for me. Not because I have some special attachment to the 'Queen of Hearts', actually not at all, I personally think she was a bit of a player towards the end; but because Princess Diana's funeral was my wedding day. No joke. LK and I got married in England on the day they buried Princess Di.

So to sit there and watch all the footage of the media frenzy surrounding her death, and the funeral, was to relive that incredibly frenzied week of my life. I doubt many people get the opportunity to do that.

The night she died I was blissfully unaware of the massive hangover that was ready to pounce courtesy of my hen-night the evening before. Far too much champagne and tequila, coupled with Mexican food from North Yorkshire truly is a recipe for disaster. LK wasn't even in the country yet, and he was the first person I spoke to that morning, calling from the States, neither of us aware bizarrely enough of Diana's death even though it was already all over the news. I went back to bed to continue to be violently ill, and in the end my brother was the one who broke the news. he said 'Di and Dodi have been killed' and I thought 'bloody hell, who'd want to kill them', and then instantly, 'bloody hell, they'll have the funeral on Saturday won't they'. Me. Me. Me.

I went back to throwing up for a couple of hours until my Mother In Law called from Heathrow to say she was catching an earlier flight up to Leeds and would be three hours early. I was still so deathly ill I had to have my Mum drive me. What fun memories this film brought back. I don't really remember too much about the Queen being perceived as being cold and heartless, no doubt because I was in the middle of organising my chuffing wedding. I do remember all the piles of flowers everywhere, the collective hysteria, my hairdresser cancelling because my, sorry, our, wedding was going to be the same day as the funeral. I do remember the Archbishop of Canterbury coming on the telly advising couples who were planning to get married on Sept 6th 1997, that even though they had probably thought long and hard about canceling (I was thinking, what? you're joking - people were already flying in) that 'love is stronger than death' and Diana would have wanted the weddings to go ahead. The Minister actually made reference to her funeral in our wedding service, mentioning 'love is stronger than death'. I do remember that.

There's a lot of gloriously inappropriate and wonderful anecdotes about our wedding, which I will save for a later date when I'm starved for better things to blog about. The point of this entry is; whenever you hear anyone complaining about their wedding disasters, the dropped cake, or the late car, or the rain or spilling wine on their dress, just remember this. We got married on a NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hair-Raising Discovery

Ha! Now it's all over, internet. I've worked out how to post photos, so Anna, it you're reading this (unlikely considering you're only one) don't let me take a photo of you without first running a comb through that thatch.

She has some serious morning hair, my girl, which she gets from her Dad. I have about 3 strands of hair all-told, so it will always look limp and defeated, but never like I've received an electric shock whilst going through a wind-tunnel. That is pure Viking hair.

Flu Shots

Flu Shots

Today was the flu clinic for Anna, which I was totally unprepared for. I'd imagined us having an appointment for an injection, not standing in a Stalin-esque line catching flu from every other child under 5 in Santa Barbara. Actually the queue moved fairly fast, and I am English, so part of my genetic core yearns to 'form an orderly line' at any given opportunity. Anna did her part like a trooper, looked wounded and surprised when jabbed, but didn't cry, and then tried to eat the sticker. I failed on several levels. I didn't bring a pen to sign the form, I also didn't bring cash or a checkbook.

Actually I thought I'd brought cash, but apparently I was robbed last night by my husband. I turned him down when he went on a 10pm snack rampage and threatened to eat the Trader Joes pralines that I'd bought for 'company' as they would say back home. He stormed off to the shops in a huff, and must have mugged my purse on the way because I only had $6 on me when the flu lady asked for my copay. They say that crime never pays, and in his case it was true because I had to call him back on his trip out to find surf so he could rush $20 to me so that I didn't miss my spot in the flu-line. Ho ho ho.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Importance of Ice-Cream

I was on hold with HealthNet the other day, because that is my job, dealing with insurance companies. Lucky, lucky me.

Instead of soothing hold music they have a much more proactive approach, and have a recorded spiel full of useful health tips. Along the lines of 'if you're pregnant - CONGRATULATIONS, now eat some folic acid and don’t contact us for health coverage' etc etc. So there I was, busily multi-tasking whilst still on hold and you can imagine my surprise when I heard the automated voice say 'all children need to get their ice-cream at ages 1 and 3'.

Wow, I thought, Anna is one, and whilst she has had a bit of ice cream in her short life, I haven't exactly been religious about it. But wait - could that be right? Mandatory ice cream? This is America people. Who knows what makes this country tick.

Fortunately though, it was HealthNet that I was being put on hold by, so I had a chance to listen through the full 5-minute healthy life pep talk a further 3 times. And yes, without a doubt it IS important for children as young as 1 and 3 to get their ice-cream. Or eyes screened, as I later discerned. What a shame. Poor old Anna.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Laundry by Remote Control

Sometimes you really can get too early a start on the day. For example. Don't try and wash your bedding at 8am, or you might just find 45 minutes later that you've also washed the remote control too.