Friday, November 30, 2007

Thank The Lord

Oh Thank God. Hello December.

I have enjoyed NaBloMoFo really, in the same way that I enjoy training for a triathlon and then it being over. The pressure though, bloody hell. Sitting at the computer each morning sent me straight back to being 8 years old and sitting on the piano bench with my fingers poised over the keys only to hear my Mum yell from the kitchen "Ali, you haven't done your piano practice" (how very middle class). Every time I log on I'm constantly reminded that I haven't yet performed.

I had stuff to write about too, stuff with substance. Want to hear about my battle with US immigration? Want to know the real differences between Americans and Brits, other than we have better bread and chocolate (I'm sorry America, we do. Deal with it.) Don't they sound entertaining? Well, you're probably right. A few token photos and Anna-ecdotes was all you got, and you're probably much happier for it.

**Edited for content**

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Third Time's The Charm

I don't have a good success rate with Disneyland. The first time I went was two weeks after arriving in the States, back in 1996. Last century. I've honestly attempted to go back but it's never worked out. LK and I tried to go with his sister and her kids about 7 years ago, but my boss wouldn't let me have the time off work. Funny, I don't work there any more. We tried again a few years later, but the morning of our scheduled departure I decided to get a bit of early triathlon training in, cycled into a tree and badly broke my collar bone:




















We called my sister-in-law from the ER to say 'sorry to break it to you' pun intended, and she suggested I get bandaged up and hold the bags and sodas while they went on the rides. I think she was joking.

On Monday night Anna woke up screaming in pain. She's never been a crier so we knew something was horribly wrong. After what seemed like hours of 'use your words', 'point to the owie', 'stop crying or I'll really give you something to cry about' (my suggestion not LK's) we concluded that something was hurting in the ears/mouth/teeth area. We did what any thoughtful, caring parents did and dosed her up on baby Tylenol, put Wonder Pets on extended play and kept our fingers crossed our trip to Disneyland hanging in the balance. She eventually fell asleep and that was that. Another Disneyland nuclear-mushroom-cloud averted.

Or so we thought.

Turns out she had hand foot and mouth disease. We noticed the blisters on her hands and feet when we put her in her carseat to drive back home to SB. It's a fairly mild but incredibly virulent virus that is now affecting every single child under five who went to Disneyland on Tuesday.

Our bad.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Anna in the Mouse Hizz-ouse

Sorry to leave you in the lurch, but I have to take the creature to Disneyland today. If we manage to fight the LA traffic and get back before midnight I'll post some pics.

I know, my life is hell, pure hell.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sunday Walk

If there was ever a photo that summed up my family it would be this one:















As I've mentioned before, the Sunday walk was one of the things my brother and I would dread, particularly in our petulant teens, as if staying at home and watching The Waltons was any better alternative. I miss it now though. These photos my Mum sent make me long to grab my wellies, some kendal mint cake and that extra pair of thick socks.
















Of course, it's completely possible to hike in SB, and there are some beautiful trails. It's just that you have only two options; you either hike straight up to the top of the mountains, or you walk along the beach. There is nothing in between.

So here's a picture of me struggling with the inequity of living in Southern California and not being able to walk through some muddy cowpat-strewn field in my wellies:














Sometimes I don't know how I manage.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Come on you Railway!

England didn't qualify for Euro 2008.

The more I think about it (and I have had a few days to mull this one over) the more I'm certain this is akin to rabbits eating their young so the fox won't get them. If we don't qualify, then we won't lose on penalties will we?

Being an ex-pat means experiencing this kind of thing in a vacuum. It is strange to have something so personally momentous happen and for it to cause so little stir in your immediate surroundings. As if a tree fell in a crowded forest and no-one heard a thing.

Being an England fan this kind of travesty is nothing new, and fortunately, being a football fan you can usually find something else to cheer about (even if it's only Chelsea losing at home). My silver lining to England's giant nuclear mushroom cloud is Harrogate Railway still being in the FA Cup.

For those of you not in the know, the FA Cup is a competition any football team in England can aspire to win. Any team no matter how lowly can work their way up through grueling early rounds played on dodgy pitches with only two old blokes and a dog for support, to having the BBC film your next match. Can you imagine that happening in baseball or basketball? I don't think so.

These are not professional players, they all have full time jobs elsewhere, my brother used to play the occasional game for this side, and now the BBC are to pay £75,000 for the rights to show the match because they've hung on long enough to reach the 2nd round where the League Teams are introduced. Hopefully some of that money will trickle down to the players this time.

The match is to be played on Sunday December 2nd - I'm sure you'll want to check ESPN or your local listings(!) If they win this match they get through to the 3rd round where the really big boys enter the fray, the Premiership sides. I can see it now, Manchester United v Harrogate Railway.

Stranger things have happened - as it says in the flyleaf of my Christening Bible, '1973 The Year Sunderland Won The Cup.'

Come on you Railway!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Don't Let Your Daughters Grow Up To Be Cal Girls

Today is 'Black Friday' - a bit of American 'kulcha' for you - Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving when everyone wakes up from their triptophan haze and says 'fuck me, it's officially Christmas time, I must shop NOW'. Unless like me you woke up at a friendly 8:30am realizing you were already 3 1/2 hours too late for the JC Penney sale. WTF America? Who needs this so chuffing early, or quite honestly at all?

No, I did the next best thing and rolled over to ask my bleary-eyed toddler what she wanted for Christmas.

"Spongebob-underpants" was her reply - eyes glued to the telly. This of course prompted LK to say "I love lamp".

Not to be undone by her flagging attention span, I tried again.

"Anna, if you could have anything you wanted for Christmas, something you don't have perhaps, what would you like?"

Ha, this time there was a glimmer of recognition, of the enormity of the question, the potential ramifications. She thought long and hard, and came up with;

"A diamond"

Don't let your daughters grow up to be Cal girls.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving, or if you're reading this from the UK, Happy Random Thursday!

Obviously this is a quintessentially American holiday, but honestly I'm surprised it hasn't caught on in the UK, because a holiday devoted entirely to food - how brilliant is that? It's definitely a holiday I would carry back to the UK should the situation ever arise. Much better than that other American holiday, July 4th which I'm still struggling to get in to. A little too much jingoism if you ask me (perhaps I just need to get over the fact that you lot won).

The only downside to mountains of mashed potato, gravy, turkey and pie is the familial guilt that's often involved. So thankyou English family who are no doubt right now helping at 'Riding for the Disabled' or at either badminton or pilates. No guilt - more food! I think for Thanksgiving to be a success you have to either have an unbelievably amicable relationship with both sets of in-laws, or one set has to be foreign and happily oblivious.

Whilst mashing a Matterhorn of potatoes this morning I told Lance that come the inevitable divorce I would quite happily let him have the kids on Thanksgiving. He took a thoughtful sip of coffee and said 'nah, there's always an amazing swell on the holidays, you have them'.

How could I divorce a man like that?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I'd Like To Thank.....

Memes are to NaBloPoMo as Baby Einstein DVDs are to parents of infants. After a while you have to give in and use them because you've run out of options.

StickyFeathers tagged me yesterday on 7 random facts. I'm going to tweak this one a little, because I'm fresh out of random facts (I'm simply not that random) so in deference to the upcoming holiday I'm going to list 7 things I'm thankful for:

1. The 10 days in November & December when we don't have house guests.

2. Interest rates being cut. Oh you have no idea.

3. The upcoming 5 day holiday (yup I'm tacking on Monday too).

4. I finally got upgraded to OS10 at work. So long hamster!

5. Anna's kick-ass 3 hour naps that have been going on for months now.

6. The fact that I not only love but genuinely like my family.

7. You, my faithful bloggy readers - yes all three of you! Your comments, and support regularly make my day - even though some of you are clearly insane.

Christ, 7 things, that was a toughie.

OK, I'm sending this to a few of my favourite people. I need 7 things you're thankful for. Points for sarcasm.

Sticky Feathers, Dafodilly, Currently, Scribble Nation, Fresh Hell, Amy, Little Britainer

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Commute

I've been tagged on a meme by stickyfeathers, but it's another 7 random things, and I've just posted 10, so you'll have to bear with me on finding another 7 - maybe tomorrow!!

So in lieu of a meme, it's finally come down to this - if you thought my last posts were scraping the barrel, I bring you:

My Drive To Work

I have a five minute commute so this is going to be a short post. A tiny commute, but four distinct socio-economic zones. How fascinating is that? OK, maybe you're not all geographers.

1. High School
We live a stones throw from a high school, so close in fact that it's impossible to get out of our road between 7:45am and 8am without getting sucked in to the schoolkid drop-off vortex. Still, as I sit there, waiting for the slowest kids of all time to shuffle across the crosswalk I do get the opportunity for some stellar people-watching. The outfits are obviously the main draw. There are so many distinct cliques that it would take a proper post, not a bit of NaBloPoMo fluff to do them justice. Let's just say I am so glad that I got to hide my nerdiness and relative pauperism behind a school uniform when growing up.

2. Financial District
OK, that's really a tad euphemistic. This is a few blocks of downtown SB that's home to most of the financial and legal firms, where it seems you have to wear the Santa Barbara business uniform of chinos, pale blue cotton button-down shirt, navy tie and styrofoam cup of coffee. Women and men. I think this is the only area of town where people don't wear flip-flops to work. Honestly.

3. Athletic Grannys
Just before I get to the hospital I have to drive through a neighbourhood full of fiercely exercising Grannys. It's an area of large multi-million dollar homes, up by the Santa Barbara Mission. Beautifully manicured properties, sprinklers gently spritzing the perfect lawns and Mexican gardeners coiffing the bouganvillea. A place where no person under the age of 70 can afford to buy, and the only reason these old zealots are hanging on financially is because they come from old moneyed East Coast families and their property taxes haven't changed since 1923. The power-walking Grannys are always out in force as I scream through at 7:58am. They have a uniform of sweats, hats with ludicrously large brims, and absurdly large sunglasses (the kind with the wraparound sides). Their skin has not seen daylight for decades. They generally appear in packs of 3 0r 4 and they move with a fierce intensity towards who knows? Coffee? Sanatogen Smoothies?

Hospital
Lots of medical people wearing scrubs and white coats with stethoscopes snaked around their necks. Don't be alarmed pedestrians, we are medics and are here to save the world!

Told you I was scraping the barrel.




Monday, November 19, 2007

Phoning It In

I've just deposited an Anthem BlueCross BlueShield check for $0.03.

Thanks, Anthem - thorough!

(and the NaBloPoMo award for shortest post goes to......)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Word To Your Mother

Here for no particular reason (other than sweet f.a. to write about) is a list of words I have to continually look up in the dictionary. I simply cannot make these words stick:

Atavism - nope, not a clue.
Sobriquet - aliblahblah
Sardonic - a sardine-like smile?
Sanguine - if there is a word least like 'cheerfully optimistic' I'd like to know it.
Solipsism - moi darling
Polemic - it is impossible to write a Geography paper without this one.

It's as if my brain reached maximum capacity at 21 and simply refuses to learn anything new.

Of course, I am blonde.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Earthquake in Santa Barbara!

We had an earthquake last night!

I know everyone who lives in the UK thinks we have ten earthquakes before breakfast here, but no, sorry to disappoint.

My very first morning in California I woke up thinking crap, this is it, it's an earthquake, only to realise next door had their washing machine on. I used to look at people's houses, with their rows of wine glasses on shelves and think 'God you complete muppets, these'll be gone within the week'. Several false alarms later (train rolling past, overly enthusiastic neighbour on treadmill) I stopped giving it a second thought despite SB being built on one big fault line.

I've experienced only three earthquakes since being here (bloody lucky I know) and one of them was last night!

Look, do you see that big blue box at the bottom of this map? That's our chuffing house!


















It was only a baby earthquake, more of a foetus really at 3.4 but SB was the epicenter which explains why we felt it. There was just one large jolt, as if a really big lorry had just driven by. I honestly didn't think much of it until Red Fox called to confirm. Then Mooks called to say she'd got in to a fight about it as her husband had yelled 'get in a doorway' and she was not sufficiently spry and would clearly have faced IMMINENT! DEATH! if it was a bit more powerful.

So, what do you do if you've just experienced nature's fury? You go out dancing that's what.

LK and I went out on the town and tore it up K-style, and this morning I woke up wobbly and bleary to find Anna munching away on my 'guaranteed hangover cure' Jalapeno Cheetos from the night before. That child is like a waste disposal.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Football v Basketball

Proof positive that LK is having a serious effect on UK culture:




















For some reason he didn't believe my Mum and Dad when they said they'd run in to a Lakers Bar near Keswick.

Perhaps basketball is going to become the world sport after all (!)

Maybe you lot can weigh in on this one for us. The first night I met LK we got into a debate about whether football (soccer) or basketball would be the most global sport in 50 years time.

I said football he said basketball (well, duh).

It's scary to think that so far 10 years have already passed but I'm quite confident that I still have the upper hand here.

I have been known to be a tad biased though, so any thoughts?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

There's an animal in trouble.......

The phone! The phone is ringing!

Some of you with small children will already know what I'm talking about.

The phone! We'll be right there!

Anna's favourite show right now is Wonder Pets! Supplanting even Dora in her devotions. A guinea pig, a duckling and a terrapin who all don capes after preschool hours and save animals from certain doom. Stuck in some tree sap? Paw caught in a brambly bush? They'll be there just as soon as they get that call.

There's an animal in trouble!

She absolutely refuses to watch this show alone, presumably because of the ABSOLUTE! HORROR! of a bee being stuck in some jam and unable to fly, and it MIGHT RAIN! I suppose it's good that she's not watching telly by herself at the tender age of 2 (although when else am I supposed to blog??), but this theme tune, repeated every 4 minutes throughout the show is like a mental chinese burn. I have been singing it all day. My subconscious is ready to grab a cape and go.

Oh yes! My brain is melting!
There's a animal in trouble and it's me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

You Are What You Eat

I am flying, heart racing, palms sweating from a hastily downed lunch of left over pasta and thickly buttered bread - the remnants of yesterday's pharmaceutical company sponsored lunch. We get a catered lunch practically every day as drug reps vie for the attention of our doctors. I know, your overpriced prescriptions are feeding my face. I feel guilty I do, but there's no time for a debate on the ethics of drug sales, sorry, this is NaBloPoMo, I have no time. Must post fluff!

What I wanted to talk about is, 'You Are What You Eat', and right now there's a carb-bomb going off in my stomach. I've been glued to this program on BBC America where a fearsome Scot terrorizes people with visions of what they've eaten in the past week. Then she guides them towards the peppermint tea and celeriac casserole. The trainwreck/salvation aspect of this program does make compelling viewing (more compelling than Dora) but I have several issues with the show. Firstly, the presenter is the most terrifyingly pinched and anaemic looking nutritionist. She doesn't glow with health, just with zeal for converting people. Mostly though, I'm cross at how it's always the woman of the house who's faced with making the Aduki Bean Casserole for the family dinner, from scratch, using four hours of her 'spare' time each day. While blokey no doubt sits down in front of the telly sneaking a can of lager and some prawn cocktail crisps.

What I find interesting is not the inevitable, 'wow don't we look better we've lost weight' reveal at the end of the show, it's how the people feel better, have tonnes more energy, their sex drives leaping about with very un-British candour. I like how she addresses each mineral's particular job, how so many Brits, overweight or not, are malnourised when it comes to some key nutrients like B-vitamins and zinc. She has a very interesting way of judging your health by examining your tongue, and then your poop. Apologies if you're eating. I am fascinated by the idea of kick-starting my flagging immune system and energy levels by just eating better. But why is it so hard to remember that before you down that giant bag of jalapeno Cheetos?

If you can, try and catch the show, because not only might you learn something, you can't deny the comedy aspect of some bloke from the dodgy end of Leeds clutching his shopping list and trying to find quinoa and miso soup in his local Co-op. That's worth watching right there.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Marbles, What Marbles?

Just when you thought it was safe to stash the old bikini in the bottom drawer, it's chuffing 80º here today. I'm roasting in my rather tasteful cable knitwear. That'll teach me not to watch the weather forecast before leaving for work.

Having lived here for over a decade *breathe* I know this to be typical Thanksgiving weather. Nothing says let's roast a 18lb turkey in the oven for hours like it being over 100º outside.

I don't have anything of value to write about, and for that I apologize. I have so much work sitting on my desk, so many sheafs of paper that I'm thinking of executing a controlled burn. Nothing major, just a very localised inferno.

There is one refreshing thing about working where I do though, and that is just when you think you're so busy you're going nuts, you're reminded what it's really like to be losing your mind:

Case in point, I overheard this particular gem this morning.

Elderly Patient: What's the date please?
Receptionist: It's the 13th
Elderly Patient: Of?
Receptionist: Of? Oh, November
Elderly Patient: And the year?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Move Over Destiny

Scribble Nation recently sent me a superb double CD 'A Rose is a Rose', a collection of great female musicians. Now I am to music what dub-ya is to world peace, but I am always interested in hearing something new. What I had not expected was to stumble on an old friend. Her collection rightly included a song by the amazing Nina Simone.

I think everybody has that one song, the one you played on continuous repeat for hours on end as it spoke so perfectly to what you were going through at that particular point in your life. 'I got it bad (and that ain't good)' is that song for me. Hearing Nina Simone on Scribble Nation's compilation was like a time-travelling punch in the gut, back to emotions I haven't felt in a long time.

I played it on continuous repeat for old times sake yesterday, and damn that's a good song. What's amazing to me now is how the lines 'Lord above me, make him love me' use to resonate with me. Had I no self-respect, no sense of self-worth? I suppose the generous response is, who honestly does have a solid sense of self-worth in their early 20s, but crikey, note to 20-year-old self - if he doesn't think you're the dogs bollocks, move on, and hit shuffle on that bloody CD player.

I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to my former flatmates who probably hear that song now and have to fight an urge to open a cheap bottle of Rioja and fling it towards my bedroom door.

At the time, my friend and internationally famous flatmate S. tried to put things in perspective (oh so many times, and over oh so many bottles of wine). We were standing outside the Porters Lodge at College, and she flung out her arms in desperation and said 'Look Als, if he was your destiny, there'd be some sort of sign' - as he cycled past waving.

God it felt good to laugh.

So what's your song?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Bloody Sunday

In order for me to get everything done today I need Anna to nap for approximately 7.5 hours.

So far she is on her third viewing of the same episode of Dora and while my back was turned (OK, while I was on the pompooder) she has managed to do this with my earrings and a doorknob:
















That does not bode well for the banging sounds I now hear coming from her bedroom.

Her father is currently golfing and I am going mental as her favourite word is now why? Why is poop stinky? Why Anna no haf Hallowe'en candy? Why he haf no trousers?

Why who haf no trousers young lady?!

I usually work four days a week. Four days followed by a three-day weekend. I highly, highly recommend it. What you lack in bank balance you make up for in sanity. My rationale is that I get to spend more time with Anna in her important formative years, but truly, I'm wondering how I can get my employers to spin this out til Anna goes to college because working five days a week is for the birds. I know this because for the last couple of weeks I have been back to my old five-day-a-week schedule and it's doing my head in. I am thinking of scheduling time to cut my fingernails.

Which reminds me, I really should go and cut my fingernails.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Vincent Van Chuff

Love is blind. A recent thankyou note from someone who received some of Anna's artwork:

"I see the talent in the brush strokes, the placement of colors. She paints with her soul."

Friday, November 09, 2007

Wait, I Have A Few Suggestions Myself

Anna just had her yearly flu shot, and was her usual stoic self. I don't know how I ended up with such a die-hard daughter. My Dad would faint at the sight of a needle, and I'm not the bravest. While the needle was being prepared (even writing that makes me shudder) I had her singing the ABCs, so that by the time the nurse did the evil deed Anna was part way through the 'now I know my ABCs....' part and didn't stop singing, she just looked over her shoulder at the nurse as if to say 'dude, you are so not helping me here'.

I did not get a flu shot. I feel like I've already had my yearly dose courtesy of Anna, and I'm not pregnant or sickly, so there's all the more for you, you pregnant sickly people of SB. It took me 3 weeks to get over the last bout of pre-school flu, finally having to resort to antibiotics, which I'm usually deathly allergic too and for me is rather like playing microbial russian roulette. Ha! You think this sinus infection is bad, why not try anaphylactic shock on for size.

What I did get was a surprisingly large amount of advice about colds, and infections, and immune systems. I suppose three weeks of me going 'bI'm bine bankyou' had people doubting my cold-fighting techniques. I did receive some very helpful suggestions, and some, well, less so. Large amounts of tequila (helpful), whisky lemon and honey (right this way nurse), washing your hands (less helpful).

It amazes me how many people will tell you that, "Hey! You know what works for me so I don't get colds. Basic hygiene! Why not try washing your hands and not picking your nose?!"

Gosh thanks, that's very helpful particularly when you're woken up at 3am by a snot-nosed toddler meeowing and pretending to be a cat whilst licking your nose and mouth.

That's when you need the tequila apparently.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I Hate You Pompooder

It's a grey and dreary day today here in the 'Golden' State. I'm thinking of cooking lasagne. Can you tell that I'm running out of things to regale you with? I have a fabulous lasagne receipe that I won't share with you, because it's not mine. It belongs to my friend C, and it makes me smile every time I use it because not only is it wantonly loaded with meaty-cheesy goodness, but the recipe was also hand-written by C's older sister and contains such gems as 'it's in the green jar in your fridge' and 'stick your finger in it to see if it's done'. All of the comments are those that an older sister would make who has serious misgivings about her sibling's cookery skills. You can almost feel her going 'for the love of God, move over, I'll do it'.

I miss my friend.

Anyway, a lovely comment from one of my 3 readers has led me to my first official 'you've been tagged' meme. I'd link to her here but I'm blogging on an archaic machine powered by a hamster, so I'll just have to say, check out her link on the sidebar - Squishy Thoughts!!

So, here goes, 10 random facts about me:

1. I cannot stand men whose torsos are longer than their legs. I'm pretty intolerant of men with short legs in general actually.

2. I support Manchester United

3. Growing up I was a huge Anne of Green Gables fan. In 2004 I realized a dream by travelling to Prince Edward Island. I was really bummed not to come home with a decent souvenir. Until 3 weeks later I realized I was pregnant.

4. I could groom my hair for split ends for hours. Literally. It's probably my most unappealing habit.

5. I am a chronic worrier and planner. I know to the day when our next car insurance payment is due, I've figured out our next vacation around 2008's quaterly tax payments and I know enough about our mortgage to wonder how I sleep at night. Actually this IS my most unappealing habit and sometimes I wish someone would just put a bullet in my brain. I once joked to LK that I might accidentally be pregnant and he said 'W, I've seen how you are with our bank accounts, you're not going to be accidentally anything'.

6. I am a situational alcoholic.

7. I drive a car that's old enough to vote. If it could vote, it would probably ask to be put out of its misery.

8. I am a brilliant sleeper. When not worrying about mortgages or immigration I can easily sleep 9-10 hours a night. My daughter is also a champion sleeper. It's one of the things I love most about her although it shouldn't be.

9. Courtesy of Anna I now call computers pompooders, DVDs deebee-deebees and flowers shadows. She might be college-aged before she learns the truth.

10. Anna still sleeps with us most nights. She'd better kick that habit before she's college-aged, for the sake of our marriage and the sake of any future siblings.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Love

Last night was Film Club, a chance to hang out with the girls and watch the kind of movie that would make LK run for the hills clawing at his eyes. Last night's offering, chosen by the wonderful Mooks, was the perfect example of a film that would LK would never, ever watch. I think he'd rather sit down over a cup of coffee with his Mum and say 'hey, got an hour, let's talk, really talk'. We saw 'Nowhere in Africa' which was not only beautiful, evocative, and award-winning but was also in German, with subtitles. See what I mean? No Will Ferrell in sight. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would definitely recommend it, but there is the usual caveat that I was heavily under the influence of some stellar pinot. It was one of those films where you end up caring so deeply for the characters that by ten minutes in we were laying odds on who was going to suffer the inevitable tragic and haunting death. It also made me want to go home, hug my daughter til her eyes popped out and promise her a world in which man's inhumanity to man would cease. Like I say, much wine was drunk.

I have always been a bit of a weeper when it comes to movies, I was inconsolable during Herbie Goes Bananas. Having Anna though has rendered me a sentimental basketcase. I seem to have lost all emotional resilience and, dare I say it, perspective. Perhaps I just have a new, softer, perspective - whatever, it's bloody annoying. Particularly because the one thing that always bothered me before I had kids was people who would say that you never really knew what love was until you had children.

Now a bona fide member of the Mom-brigade (no perineum here) I still find the concept insufferably patronizing and insulting. But is it true?

Is it ever possible to empathize without having gone through the exact same thing? I think it is.

I will be the first to admit that having kids has changed me. It's certainly true that I pay more attention to children now, that I feel more pain at tales involving cruelty or neglect to kids, but to assume that if you're childless you are somehow incapable of understanding the love a parent has for their child is staggering to me. Having Anna has taught me a lot about myself, about how I grew up, how I relate to people, but I still recognize the pre-Mum me. Yes I had different priorities, and much prettier toenails, but I was still human, I could still love and realize the depth of love parents had for their children.

That is one of the defining things between women - have you noticed that there always seems to be a 'we have kids' or 'no kids' dynamic in all relationships, with blokes that is almost never the case. I certainly get on much better with my fellow staff at work now that I have become 'accepted' as a mother. God it pisses me off. Why do women do this to themselves?

Maybe it's just that I won't completely understand what it is to love until I have a son.

It's been suggested.

Seethe.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tennis Rackets




















First of all racquets or rackets? Who knows. As I'm typing they both look wrong, so I might just have to go with 'bats'.

LK collects them, has done for years and at last count we had over 200 of the things in our attic and storage cupboards. They're not small and in a town where land is roughly $1 million an acre, it's not exactly a practical hobby either. They are surprisingly beautiful though, and after years of bundling them all in bin-liners and hiding them away we've finally put some up on display:
















I know - just looking at that magnolia wall makes me itch to paint it 'capuccino' or 'ochre' or some other trendy Restoration Hardware colour. On a side note, I did notice Pottery Barn have a shade of green called 'dill weed' which I would love to use just so when Lance asked about it I could say "it's green. Dill weed".

Aren't they gorgeous? For about $3 each you can find one of these at any thrift store or antique shop and they are works of art. Some of LK's rackets are clearly almost a hundred years old, predating leather grips even. They all have different woods inlaid, and time-worn inscriptions like this one that says "Wright & Ditson, Boston Mass".















Obviously a collection like this makes more sense in our wonderful arid climate. As anyone who's looked for that old racket in the back of the wardrobe in England knows, damp and wooden rackets don't mix, and even those brilliant old racket-presses are no guarantee you won't end up with equipment the shape of Charlie Chaplin's legs.

















Second only to this hobby, is LK's passion for taking one of these 50-yr old rackets to the local tennis courts for a pick up a game with some random stranger. Someone no doubt strutting around with his latest computer-enhanced GPS enabled titanium weapon. LK watches them sneer as he produces his antiquated racket, politely turns down their proffered spare racket, and then he tears them a new one.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Happy Blogiversary To Me

No, I did not expect this to last a year.

I'd toyed with the idea of having a blog for a long time, I'd even set up my account months before I started. Then, for no particular reason, one year ago today I got straight out of bed, logged on and voila my first post. Auspicious beginnings I think you'll agree, can't think why I didn't get more comments.

This was supposed to be a project to help me with my writing. I was halfway through writing a book when I started. I'm still halfway through writing that book. Blogging I've found, can be rather addictive and far more rewarding than slogging away at a novel that is starting to thin a little in the middle and where all the characters sound rather too much like me. Blogging also takes up far, far more time than I have. Which is why I'm doing NaBloPoMo - because I'm a whack-job, certifiable.

What inspired me to start blogging, or rather who, is definitely Fussy. Living next door to a blogging icon for nearly a decade will help motivate, if you can get past the intimidation factor of someone who can whip up a post like a literary souffle. I still think about 'popcorns' and 'WTF little man'. She also wrote last year about those people not doing NaBloPoMo maybe making a resolution to comment on a blog at least once a day. That certainly hit home after many months of writing this, literally sending posts out in to the void. I'd been a 'lurker' for years myself, laughing and crying, reading posts and never saying a word. I think about it now, and can't believe I just let some posts go unacknowledged, like my favourite blog entry of all time. I honestly think about that paella post at least once a week and crack up. Genius.

So, another year? Who knows? I had intended to use this both as a tool to help my writing and also to memorialize some of the parenting stuff that otherwise gets forgotten, but I'd genuinely no idea how much time I would spend writing about how it feels to be a stranger in a foreign culture. Clearly I have *some issues*, and this blog is proving strangely cathartic, so for now you're stuck with me.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Signs Point To 'You're Buggered'

I just ran across a Magic 8 Ball while cleaning like a dervish for our guest's arrival. Our guest who was originally staying for 3 weeks and has now tacked on an extra 2 weeks.

I asked "Will our ******** real estate deal bankrupt us".

* YES *

What happened to "Reply Hazy Try Again?" or "No, Not In A Million Years, You're Quids In Mate"??

I have a feeling this is a trusty 8 Ball. If you have a question for it - post it in comments and I'll happily let you know.......

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Hair of the Dog

I just spent $18 getting my hair cut at Fantastic Cuts or some similar chain. Yes, times are hard, but honestly the thought of coughing up nearly four times that amount for a trim at my usual swanky salon was just too much this time. I get my hair cut on average about twice a year. I don't colour it, and I keep it long, so really there shouldn't be too much to it. It suddenly dawned on me that I was paying about $80 for a head massage and for Montecito Moms with heads bristling with tinfoil to glare at me. Plus, I get the feeling my hairdresser thinks that people who don't get highlights are just a waste of time and money, a hairdressing cock-tease if you will.

I love the colour of my hair but it's fine and limp and throws in the towel with hair product if someone so much as sneezes. I have nothing but respect for people with gorgeous thick hair who selflessly cut off a foot and send it over to Locks of Love. MM & Fresh Hell did that recently, good girls that they are. My ponytail is the circumference of one of Anna's fingers, one of her smaller fingers. My hair needs to put on weight. I'm sure Locks of Love would send it back saying they don't take chinchilla shed.

Maybe because it's so fine I've never had any luck getting my hair 'done'. My coup de grace with hairstylists probably came a few years ago when I took a recommendation from a friend and got my haircut at some bijou salon. I had a pretty nice cut going courtesy of Toni & Guy in the UK, and I just wanted it tidying up a bit. While he was snipping away I asked him if he thought I should ever go for a shorter, bolder look. He picked up one desolate, lank lock, looked me full in the eye and said 'I'd keep it long, after all it's probably your best feature'.

So, QuickCutz it is. It's not half bad, this new cut either. Nothing fancy, I suppose I got what I paid for. A vanilla haircut for a mainstream maven, but just take a look at this picture and see what I was given to work with people. Ever wondered what a natural blonde looks like when she's 6? Ever seen naturally pale blue hair??? Hair so pale you literally blend in with the wall?

Guess which one I am, just guess.















By the looks of me I'd just had my hair done. The pout says it all.

Do you think this photo dates me? I mean, look at the artwork, the carpet (sorry V). At least it's in colour.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Gratuitous Photo Post

November 2nd and I'm already clutching at straws.

Here's a few photos from the Halloween Party hosted by the wonderful Mrs Skeletor.





Yes, those are my old college footie socks. For the wheel!!!
In my defence I've been sick for 3 weeks, and had 5 minutes to throw together an outfit. I should never have worn those fake knobbly knees.








Next year I'm definitely just buying a chuffing wig. How awesome is this?






















Yes she really is that damn cute.
It must be good genes.










.....and finally the piece de resistance. Hans, Franz, and random flamenco guy. Can you believe they're all sober? No, neither can I.

That's a statue of a witch in the foreground, and not a small child of unfortunate head-size, although you'd have been amused at the party to find how many people tripped over her and then apologized profusely.





.....seriously though, check out what she's looking at......








....I think she's right, I think it is a very dodgy stain.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits

Hello November.

I'm going to give this NaBloPoMo thing an honest attempt, but I hope you realize that each of my posts is a carefully crafted essay, laboured over and lovingly edited? Nope? Well that should become fairly apparent in the next few days.

Here's the first in a stream of useless fluff to pad out the month.

My Nanna taught me that the first words you should say on the first of every month are 'Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits' if there's an R in the month and 'White Rabbits, White Rabbits, White Rabbits' if there's no R. If you manage to make that the first thing you say then you'll have a very lucky month. Provided you can spell of course.

This is made far more challenging when you have a small child and you don't wake up gently to sunbeams and the smell of freshly brewed coffee at 7:30am, instead waking up to a 28lb toddler clambering over you at 3:14am, using your neck and boobs for leverage whilst whining 'need Mummy's hair'. It can be a lot more challenging to say 'rabbits, rabbits, rabbits' and not 'get the fuck off me you parasitic little worm'.

I'd always had a sneaking suspicion that 'Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits' was something my Nanna had made up, something to distract me from my requests for a bacon sandwich at 7:06am on a chilly Manchester morning. Upon further research though, it's quite a widely-held superstition, confirmed even by Wikipedia. So Crikey it must be true.

Has anyone else heard of this? Is there anyone out there who will admit to equally ludicrous superstitions?

For the record I did manage to say 'Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits' this morning, although my first actual thoughts were 'crap it's November'.