Friday, September 28, 2007

Boobs & Utah

I know, boobs and Utah in the same post.

Well apparently I don't know as much as I thought I did about my friends back home in Blighty. I've just learned that some of them are hiding more than what God gave them underneath those handknits. Good Lord!

I will take their identity to the grave (hint: it's a woman) because with our history I owe this person some discretion, but honestly, who has a secret boob job? Are they possible? Apparently so.

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled program, with a satellite delay of only three weeks. Sorry! I'm rubbish and also a very busy person....

So there we were leaving Las Vegas, the creature all fueled up with Old MacDonalds FIES! Then we hit a snag. The first hint was when LK said 'I don't want to alarm you, but'. He is not a man for superlatives. For him 'Houston we have a problem' was probably a bit overstated.

I turned down my ipod and braced myself for disaster.

We were 25 miles outside Vegas on the most deserted, windswept piece of desert highway you could imagine. It was 3 o'clock in the afternoon and 110º. The last turn-off we'd so blithely passed was appropriately 'Caliente, Nevada' - and for good reason. The temperature gauge needle was vertical and we were spewing engine coolant. LK pulled off the freeway in to the sand and scrub and 'popped the hood' (opened the bonnet) to survey the damage. There wasn't even a lone Joshua Tree for shade. The trucks thundering by mere metres from our heads were creating quite a breeze, but breeze is a misleading word isn't it? You automatically think, cool, refreshing. This was like standing in front of a hairdryer to keep cool. If you haven't been to the desert before this kind of heat is surprising. The first time I ventured anywhere with that dry, arid heat I was casting my eyes around for the fire - for the open oven, for anything that could generate such fiery energy.

Don't say 'but it's a dry heat'.

The rest, three weeks later, is all rather anti-climatic. LK poured several canisters of coolant back into the molten radiator, we did an extremely ill-advised but absolutely necessary U-turn on Interstate 15 and crawled back to Vegas on the hard shoulder at a measly 17mph, our sweltering tails between our legs. Neither of us daring to breath in case the temperature needle started to climb again. Our favourite Vegas road-trip game of 'spot the car-fire scorch marks by the side of the freeway' was not quite so entertaining this time. I have never wished so fervently for a GMC Behemoth or a Dodge Leviathan, something absurdly large and garish with ice-cold AC. There are occasional reasons why American 'cars' are giant tank-like gas-guzzlers. Our little sedan had thrown in the towel.

The miracle of the situation was not that the head gasket had not blown (it's not that I don't love double negatives), it was that we didn't see a cop for the entire 90 minute mis-adventure. We ended up limping back to Santa Barbara in the dead of night, with no air conditioning, to take advantage of the cool 90º night-time temperatures. We did not get to Utah to visit the cabin that LK's Dad built entirely by hand. A cabin I've only ever been to once. But if we had made it to Utah and taken pictures, they would have looked something like this:

Oh well, next time. In our Ford Four-Miles-to-the gallon McMansion on wheels.

And no, for the record, it was not lost of me on my 10th anniversary that I am married to a man who is not only smart enough to think ahead to buy engine coolant, and a cooler with ice and gallons of water, but who knows how to 'pop the hood' and is man enough to work out how to fix the damn thing too.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Paint Wars

The other night was Anna's first parents evening, or rather our first parent-teacher evening. It was more of a social gathering than an earnest 'how's my child doing affair'. Unsurprising really, considering she's two.

So there we were, all nattering away, and the teacher asks if anyone has any issues. A couple of people mention some things, (Chauncey has a food allergy, Skylar can't remember if s/he's a boy or a girl etc etc) so I bring up the fact that Anna pretty much always comes home covered head to toe in paint, and could they start using washable paint please because it's not coming out. A couple of parents mumble agreement, and a few offer suggestions, which to my insecure parenting mind sound like "oh, I suggest, Simple Green, and well, superior laundry skills". Parent smiles with mouth only.

With blind persistence and this snotty English accent which in hindsight probably made me sound like a right Mary Poppins, I suggested some options:

a) Anna wears a smock. Well, apparently she does, but it does not appear to limit her creative endeavours vis a vis paint and her clothing.

b) Under her smock she wears 'painting clothes'. I could tell this wasn't popular, and I sort of understand. It's hard enough to get 6 toddlers wearing smocks let alone special clothing underneath.

c) She paint nude. Come on people, this is California after all.

d) Washable paints!! Why are these paints only removable with superior laundry skills?? I think those bitches were lying.

e) Shut up, admit defeat and buy 500 long sleeved white T-shirts at Tarjay.

I think I'm going to have to go with plan e) because when I picked Anna up from school today she was liberally daubed with green paint. Is it just me, or were they trying to make a point here?

This picture does not do justice to the true horror of the situation.....

Obviously I'd much rather she trash a few outfits than stay pretty and clean in the corner with a pair of white gloves on and a nice book, but please, we're not made of money.

Any suggestions? Simple Green? Soylent Green? All-black clothing? Chill the fuck out?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fawl and Boobs

I know, I owe you all a post on what went wrong with our trip to Vegas, but quite frankly it’s hard to get in to the mind-set of being stranded in the desert in 110º heat when overnight autumn has arrived in Santa Barbara.

Sorry, ‘fawl’ as you imagine I say.

I love autumn. It’s so much easier to consider a large glass of pinot and some Grey’s Anatomy when it gets dark at 5pm than mid-summer when by rights you should be out ocean-swimming past 8.

There is a barely perceptible chill in the air, at the tail-end of a breeze or in the shade of a building. That feeling that there's just a little more oxygen to breathe. Brittle-cold blue-sky days are by far my favourite, but they are as scarce in Santa Barbara as they are in North Yorkshire, so I will take this sudden greyness just for a change.

Seasons are nothing if not subtle over here. You can tell it’s autumn by the fact the temperatures will occasionally creep below 70 and it says September on the calendar. That’s about it. There is even the half-hearted promise of some rain in our future, although it's been so long since we've had a decent downpour that I might have to explain to Anna what the chuff is going on! It is so strange to live in a place where rain is talked about as an event days in advance. Where people watch the doppler-radar for a hint of green with awe and reverence. Ok, maybe that's just my husband who gets the day off work if it rains....

I've been reminiscing recently about rain, about that sharp breeze you get as a pre-cursor to a shower in England, the one that blows all the leaves backwards exposing their silvery undersides like a sylvan shoal of fish. Trees don't really have leaves here, not big fat deciduous leaves, just small spiky drought-resistant leaves. There is no 'fall', no leaf-mulch, no season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.

So you see, I can’t really write about being stranded in an overheated car in the middle of the Mojave, when there’s a slight chill in the air and I’m forced to think about maybe grabbing a cardie. For the love of God!

So I’ll talk about boobs instead.

My muppet assistant handed in her notice last week. Then a couple of days later she told me she was taking 5 days of her 2 weeks notice to get herself a nice new set of boobs. I have two assistants and they both have fake boobs. Hello California! They are so prevalent here I’m surprised they don’t come free if you buy 3lbs of House Blend.

I don't know anyone in England with fake boobs. Quite frankly, under all those woolly jumpers what's the point? Living here makes you think about it though, particularly after nursing leaves you feeling a little, how should I say, 'deflated'.

So I said to LK, "What would you think about me getting a boob job after we're done having our eleventy-billion children" and he replied "you don't need a boob job, you've got a great rack" etc etc.

Good man!

But then a few weeks later he said "So, if you were going to get a boob job......."

Ten years of marriage, and he is still human.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Honestly, who wouldn't remarry a man who'd wear trousers like these?

My feathery top was a pale rejoinder.

The definite highlight of the trip was renewing our vows in the cheesy Little White Chapel of Vegas. It was sort of fitting too, as we'd originally got married in the Little Red Chapel in Pannal.

Not at all similar though. Oh no! I was expecting Vegas kitsch, but it was just Vegas tired and cheap. Worn-out carpet, dusty faded silk flowers, papier-mache cherubs, you get the picture. Very polyester bride. What was a little scary was that it was past 8 o'clock at night, we were, 'casually' attired, not a little drunk after waiting for our 'slot' at the bar next door, and we had a bored and hungry two-year old running around, yet were asked repeatedly if this was a renewal or an actual wedding.

I think the Little White Chapel should have a web-cam, because clearly, they see it all.

Leave it to LK to bring the class though. He managed to go down on one knee in his too-tight, borrowed Vegas-casino-carpet trousers, and he re-proposed and produced a Tiffany ring.

What a keeper.

Then we went back to the Mirage and tore it up K style by drinking three bottles of champagne and doing fat lines of coke.

Or we may have just drunk champagne, had take-out from the Carnegie deli (see below) and watched Blades of Glory. You be the judge.

Oh you Americans.....why you're not all ridiculously overweight is just beyond me.

Definite thanks go to Red Fox and to Cindy for our fantastic anniversary present. I'm glad we have photographic evidence that the booze came with chocolate-covered strawberries, because frankly, neither LK or I remember eating a single one. Hmm.

5lbs of chocolate-covered strawberries can seriously affect the waistline, as our little Paris Hilton discovered to her horror the next morning.........

That's all for now. Next installment - When Good Vacations Go Bad.

* I shamelessly ripped off the title of the post from Mrs. Skeletor, who, if she has a problem with that, can get her own damn blog.

Which, is rather unlikely, as she can't operate comments.

Thank goodness.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Surfer and the Intellectual. Who Knew?

Yes, somebody did once say that to me, and no, I was not quick-witted enough to reply I'm really not that much of a surfer.

We are off to Vegas this afternoon, to celebrate this:

Ten years ago tomorrow, I was officially off the market, leading to headlines such as these.......

It was 'The Week The World Mourned', perfect timing for a wedding really.

More when we return, but in the meantime, here's a picture of the groom with a chicken. A photo that proves (Pierre) that it's the informal wedding photos that usually sum up a wedding best.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Were You Born On The Sun?

It's hot; muggy and hot.

The nice thing about Santa Barbara is that there's only a couple of days a year when you need air conditioning and a couple of days a year when you need central heating. The unfortunate thing about Santa Barbara is that because of this, most houses have neither.

I feel molten. I am fantasizing about thunder and lightning, about the clean smell of rain, and the swishing of car tires on wet roads. Instead I'm surrounded by white heat, glare and stultifying air. I feel like I'm cooking from the inside.

At least our present house has a lovely cave-like living room, unlike our previous apartment which would get so hot that candles would melt. Unfortunately the computer is upstairs, so sorry, I was going to write a post about my upcoming 10th Wedding Anniversary *yikes*, but urgh, the heat.

It's like living in one of LK's tennis socks.

Instead I think I might just have a nice cold shower and go and stand in front of a fan, so in lieu of a proper post here's what happens if you give a 7-year-old felt tip pens and sweets.......(markers and candy for you Yankee Doodles).......

I think your buttyful too.