Sunday, January 28, 2007

Wine Tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley

Proving there are some definite, oh-so-tangible
advantages to having an in-house babysitter for
two months.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Santa Barbara Film Festival

Last night LK and I scored platinum passes to the SB Film Festival courtesy of our friendly Chilly Chia Pet to see Helen Mirren be given an award by William H. Macy for the year's Outstanding Performance Award. This is the sort of opportunity that does tend to come up in SB, which is one of the reasons it's not such a struggle to live here. It's definitely a bit of a change from my home town where the big annual occasion is the 'Great Yorkshire Show'. They don't make Chief Pig Steward's like that in California I can tell you that right now.

The passes meant we got to sail up the red carpet past at least ten, maybe twelve other people anxiously waiting in the general admission line. It was quite a moment, ruined entirely by us wearing jeans going 'what, this way? are you sure? should we ask that guy? do you have your pass out? shit I wish I hadn't worn jeans everyone's looking' etc etc. After buying and consuming our own body weight in popcorn and listening in on some truly wankerish conversations around us 'I could ask several of my very famous friends to help produce my script, but I'd rather just, you know,' err, languish in obscurity? Please do. 'Most people don't realize how much of a meritocracy LA actually is' - as compared to what? Clearly the problem with his script is that LA is a meritocracy not an up-your-own-arse-ocracy. There was some high class people watching to be done, which is always a lot of fun, and a large number of women with that brittle over-dyed and overblown hair that makes you long to throw a match in it.

The real gem of the evening though was the bloke asking the questions, Roger Durling. What a shocker he had. LK summed it up best by likening him to the Chris Farley interviewer in Saturday Night Live. In his defence it was apparently his first time as an interviewer, and it must have been stressful to be engaging such an intelligent actress in front of so many people, but he seemed absolutely incapable of deviating from his pre-prepared questions, despite whatever juicy tidbit she'd just offered him. At one point he asked her about how she managed to excel at such a tremendous range of characters and someone heckled 'err, she's an actor'. It made me nervous just watching him. Still, it was a real treat to be able to hear Dame Helen Mirren talk about her life's work. She is an incredibly classy woman, who clearly has a great sense of humour, and a great deal of humility to not embarrass Mr. Durling any more than he was managing himself. It was also brilliant to hear William H. Macy (who I will always think of as Filliam H. Muffman courtesy of the Colbert Report) laud her so eloquently.

Thanks Chilly, you're the real star. It was nice to be able to go out on the town and grab a bit of kulcha instead of the usual three hastily downed margaritas and a chimichanga.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Who Knew Parenting Would Be This Much Fun?

When I started this blog, almost three months ago, *gasp*, one of my intentions was to use it as a tool to preserve Anna's formative years for posterity.

I have been absolutely chuffing useless at keeping up with her baby book (first smile/first walk) etc etc, and I knew that the real joy of parenting is not necessarily recorded through milestones, but through the WTF firsts of family life. For example, first vegetable shoved into an orifice other than the mouth, and now, first inorganic article to pass through child's intestines. Answer, a barrette, or as they say back home a 'slide' - how ironic considering it must have slid through several miles of toddler gut.

Apparently Anna had eaten, digested and pooped an inch-long hair accessory (unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, if you're eating lunch right now, there were no photos). A huge piece of plastic and metal, and yet she valiantly managed to poop it out who knows how many days later. I did stop putting barrettes in her hair a while ago, but only because she kept pulling them out, and hmm, putting them in her mouth, and I've switched to a a lovely headband which you would think would be less appetizing. I hope. So Lord knows how long that barrette had been working it’s way out.

When LK called to tell me that we wouldn't be getting parent of the year award, again, I thought it was hilarious, and then like any true guilt-and-angst-ridden parent I started wondering just how long that piece of hardware had been in my daughter, and just what else she’s managed to swallow that’s still lodged somewhere. I feel like running her through an airport metal-detector to see if she beeps.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Hiking on Jesusita Trail

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Scalpel Please Nurse

Minor surgery last night in the K household. During dinner, Anna (and not on my watch I might add) had managed to shove two peas so far up her nose that it was pretty much impossible to get them out. She was absolutely thrilled to bits with herself. LK was alerted to the problem by the constant repetition of 'nose' and 'piss' (peas) and some pretty insistent baby finger-pointing. We tried getting her to blow them out, with little success - trust me they were way the chuff up there - in fact we only realized there was a second pea in her other nostril after a thorough examination.

We considered tickling her nose to make her sneeze, but she was having none of it - I'm telling you, she was damn proud of her accomplishment and she was hanging on to them. This is the point I think every parent reaches when they think - OK, this is ridiculous, I can't take her to the ER right?, but what the hell am I supposed to do? What we should have done of course was consult the trusty internet on the subject - I can't even tell you how many blog posts you get if you google 'peas stuck up child's nose'. Not funny, and apparently not original either.

In the end I had to use the end of a very blunt darning needle to pry them out, and then what did she do? Stuck one right back up there. Who can blame her though - much like her father she obviously believes 'any hole's a goal'.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Arse Over Tea Kettle

They've have some pretty bad weather in the UK recently, which usually means a particularly persistent drizzle, or that it's both raining and blowy, so you can't use an umbrella. Not so last week, Britain had xtreme weather, and Britain as you probably know, never has xtreme anything. It was so bad that my brother's girlfriend was literally blown off her feet, going arse over tea kettle as he put it, landing on her head. She had to be taken to the hospital because of a bad gash poor thing. My brother says she's 'alright in herself' now, lying on the couch nursing endless cups of tea - because that's what us Brits do in a crisis, and she's trying not to ooze on the armrest.

My brother's girlfriends have all followed a bit of a trend recently though, and this just underlines it for me. There was a time when he would go for anything with a beaver and a pulse - his favourite pick-up line being 'grab your coat love you've pulled', but he's since pared it down a bit to 6ft skinny blondes. His present girlfriend, who we all think is the dogs bollocks - that's good by the way - is no exception. She's very tall, very blonde and very skinny. So to me it was no surprise that she was blown over, xtreme weather or not.

My first thought was, that girl needs to eat more pies.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

To The Mattresses

Do you want to know one of things that sucks arse about being a landlord? Do you though? Do you really? Well, sit down and take a deep breath because I'm about to spill all.

Mattresses. It's a mattress free-for-all chez K. One of our ex-tenants left his mattress by the side of the dumpster when he was moving out. LK caught him, and agreed that we'd have the trash people move it and bill the ex-tenant later. Not such a genius plan as it turns out, because not only is it highly bloody unlikely we'll ever manage to retro-bill a student once he's left our cozy slum, but the bin-men did not take the mattress as scheduled, leaving it to get all sodden in the *shock horror* rain, we actually had last night, and then this morning:-


Where are they coming from? This is exponential mattress growth. I'm terrified to go home in case there's an entire mattress-city squatting by our carports.

What an attractive look for an apartment complex don't you think? Nothing says 'welcome home' like the sight of four stained and shredded mattresses as you get out of your car. I'm sure Santa Barbara Magazine are just itching for that double-page spread.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Two Countries Separated by a Common Language

George Bernard Shaw said it best, but I really do find I have to 'translate' myself on a daily basis. I joke that Anna is going to grow up bilingual, speaking both English and American. It's staggering how many differences there are in just your basic ABC book:-

Pants = Trousers
Sweater = Jumper
Diaper = Nappy
Crib = Cot
Candy = Sweets
Food = Boiled Mutton

Last week one of the docs had to ask me to translate for an English patient of his who'd admitted to becoming 'increasingly ratty' with his wife. See, that seems such an obvious word to me, but when you stop and think about it, it could mean almost anything (it actually means irritated and short-tempered).

It could be a lot worse obviously, the damn yankees do love themselves an English accent, even one like mine that's becoming more trans-Atlantic with each passing year. I reckon I'm just two years away from sounding like Lloyd Grossman, and every time I phone home I think 'bloody hell they sound English' or more likely 'gee Mom it's like you todally sound like the Queen'.

I've definitely found my accent has become more 'proper' since coming here. An English accent is hard enough for most people to contend with on the phone, but a broad Yorkshire accent, not on your life mate. I always, 'regularly' have to say zee instead of zed, and these days am finding I'm translating automatically, a short step away from losing my vernacular completely.

It is funny to me though, that so few people here consider themselves to have an accent. Just try asking a Santa Barbaran to pronounce anything with a 't' in it and they are genuinely surprised to find out that they have no 't', ie 'Montecito' becomes 'Monecido' and 'Cota Street' becomes 'Coda'. It's really chuffing embarrassing to have to order a 'Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity' at IHOP with an English accent, but fortunately that doesn't come up very often.

Pronunciations were even a consideration when naming Anna. We both loved the name Katie, but it would have been weird for me to constantly hear her being called 'Kady'. Of course, I was in for the surprise of my life when one of my Mom's Group generously commented that I couldn't even pronounce my own daughter's name correctly (I do love my Mum's group, I really don't know why I don't go more often). Apparently I say 'Annerr' instead of 'Anna'. For once I was too gobsmacked to reply, but, 'maybe you should try leaving the tri-counties once in a while love and discover that people have accents' wouldn't have gone amiss.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tits A Bit Nippley

I'll admit it's a bit chilly out, especially when the sun goes down. But I draw the line at empathizing with a friend who thought she was in danger of catching pneumonia yesterday.

You know who you are!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Let Them Eat Cake

Maybe you remember our million dollar washing machine. Well, it appears I've now purchased a hundred dollar pile of crumbs and fondant.

My nanny makes wonderful cakes as a sideline, this is the one she made for Anna's first birthday party - gorgeous I'm sure you agree.

Well, Saturday was my friend R's baby shower, and I wanted something special, so I asked the nanny to go for broke. On Saturday morning at 10:30 she called and said there was a problem. She'd been driving the cake over to me, and someone had pulled out in front of her, and now the cake was all over her car. She was devastated, and offered to buy me a new cake. What could I do though? I knew she was on a tight budget, anyone is who has to pay rent in this town, so I offered to pay her $75 for it - the original agreed price. After all, it all tastes the same in the end, and I thought I'd be able was able to dress it up a bit with some flowers and hide some of the more obvious cracks. She agreed.

After the shower, and much wine, I told LK that I'd paid her despite the carnage, and he said 'how much did you pay her?' and I confessed to paying her the full amount because, hey, she did do the work and accidents do happen. Then he told me 'Wrigs, I paid her $40 for ingredients on Thursday.'

Nice one! I think she could have admitted to this don't you?

$115 Spacka Cake. It does look a bit like an old lady's hat though doesn't it?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Leaving on a jet plane...

You know you've been upstairs blogging too long when you hear:-

Anna - "Mumma?"
LK - "Mumma's gone, she died in a plane crash"


Notes on a Scandal

One of my all-time favourite books is 'What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal' by Zoe Heller. If I could write like that I'd be a happy woman, and a rich woman too considering it's just been made in to a fabulous movie with Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. Zoe Heller is one of the best character-writers I have ever come across, her descriptions are succinct, razor-sharp, and often painfully funny. And damn it, I can't find the book, again, which is really chuffing annoying because it's the second copy I've bought. I'm going to have to half-remember a quote from her, which I'm sure is illegal, and will certainly not do her justice, but she described talking to this one awkward and loud bloke 'as if you were conversing with a school play'. Just perfect.

The movie is excellent, but really, if you're at all inclined you should read the book, it's bloody brilliant. So good in fact, that I set it for book club last year - which just goes to show what an utter genius I am, setting a book that a matter of months later becomes a Golden Globe awarded screenplay. I'm modest too. Honestly though, I didn't just set it because I thought it would be an interesting lead-in to see how many of my fellow book club attendees have been inappropriate with teenage boys (you'd be surprised).

Well, my friend C. called me yesterday and asked if I wanted to see Notes on a Scandal, and of course I was all over it, and did whatever it took to secure a few hours of Anna-less time from LK. The man drives a hard bargain. C. asked 'do you know anything about it?' which was a bit of a shocker considering she'd been at that particular book club meeting. What can I say - the wine flows freely, and we don't stick religiously to the topic on hand. But hey, this is coming from the woman who a few months ago asked me what the book of choice was and when I replied 'Modoc, The Greatest Elephant Who Ever Lived', asked 'What's it about?". Says it all really doesn't it?

Anyway, my recommendation, go and see the movie, and set this book for book club if you're in one. It's well worth it, and you might just find out a little bit more about your co-member's pasts than you'd wish to!!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Breeding Like Rabbits

Here's a couple of pictures of jumpers I've finished within the last month due to a recent rash of babies amongst my friends. I have another to bang out by next month too.

I'm quite chuffed with how they've turned out though. The design is a Debbie Bliss sweater with a rabbit pattern somewhat culled from 'Miffy' a cartoon bunny I grew up with but who nobody seems to know over here. Here's a link if you're interested in some good old Miffyness - including a Miffy card game that had me on the edge of my computer chair for a very long time during one particularly dull morning at the office.

Now this obviously begs the question - what have I made for my own dear daughter recently??? How many rabbit sweaters does she own???

Sadly, here's the most recent photo I have of Anna wearing anything I've made her. She doesn't exactly look like she's 19 months old in this pic does she? Although, even if I have to say it myself, she's one damn fine looking baby. Even in that ridiculous outfit.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Say What?

LK calling this morning:
'Wrigs, I just had to tell you before I started my lesson...'

So apparently it's true, I am at present 33% body fat. I asked one of the docs, just conversationally, how these body fat monitor scales work, and he said, and I kid you not 'they measure impotence' at which point, he flushed and 'ahemed' a lot, and quickly added 'I meant impedance', ie the rate at which fat impedes the flow of water. So if you've been working out at the gym you shouldn't immediately go and check your fat ratios, because you're dehydrated and it'll give a false reading. Well, duh, I'm always dehydrated due to the gin. So by my rationale I have no problem. Cheers!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy Bloomin' New Year!

What New Year is complete without the purchase of one of these lovely items? Reasoned my thoughtful husband.

First of all, what the chuff? Why on earth do I need a body fat monitor and scale when I have the zipability of my trousers to measure these things by? And also - I just had a chuffing baby! OK, so that last excuse is wearing a little thin (unlike most things) but honestly, who would buy such a thing and also buy his wife this....

It hardly seems fair. So apparently my body fat ratio is this:-

And I was feeling a little disappointed, and not a little ambushed as I was made to try this torture-scale out after eating Beth's fabulous chicken casserole for dinner. I tried to take a wonderful photo of this casserole for your delight and delectation, but it just turned out looking like a big pile of lumpy lard. Hmmm. Funny that. Besides, why should I trust the recipe of a woman who is capable of flushing her cell phone down the toilet? I mean, does anyone honestly not look before they flush?! And what did she think when she heard that ca-thunk-thunk-thunk as it flushed? 'Crikey - I need to start eating some bran in the mornings?'. I bet she checks now, that's all I have to say.

Anyway, I was feeling a tad sorry for myself, so I did what any self-respecting woeful person does, and I had a bit of wee, and lo and behold I gained 0.8% of my body fat. What the chuff? I was getting fatter by the second.

Honestly though, 33% lard? That can't be right. I'm going to try it again first thing tomorrow morning and let you know.