Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Armageddon Wet

It's raining
It's pouring
And my old man is snoring....

LK works outside, so when it rains, he pours.....himself another large cup of coffee and settles in to watch the Australian Open. And crikey did it pour down today. It may not rain often in this dear old town, but when it does it is a thing to behold. No polite British drizzle here, the storms slam in straight from the Pacific and literally spew rain.

Here's a quick shot of some disappointed car owners only a couple of blocks from our house:

So there's me thinking that after working all day, dealing with feisty transcriptionists and a backed up office sink gushing rainwater that I'd earned some downtime. In our cobbled together marriage rules, working trumps not working in terms of Anna-sitting and sundry domestic duties so I'm driving home thinking, I'm chuffing golden.

Imagine my surprise when I suggest the vaguest possibility of going to the pictures with the girls and he says:

....'but you had a bath last night'.

If there was ever a sentence that summed up marriage after children it would be that one. And for the record, I did go to the movies, which must kill my free time allowance until about March I'd say.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ramble On

I feel like I'm getting a cold because, what, it's been almost two weeks since my last brush with viral death so I'm clearly overdue. What the chuff immune system?

Now I realize that I'm lucky enough to be woken up most mornings by a crusty snot-covered toddler breathing heavily into my face or, double-trouble, licking my nose whilst meowing and pretending to be a cat but sheesh, where's my bug fighting stamina? I'm beginning to think that somewhere in my monogamous 10 year marriage I've managed to contract AIDS. Did I tell you that after my last dose of flu I had a raging yeast infection in my mouth? I really hope you're not reading this first thing in the morning, with a visual of little mushrooms growing on my tongue. Sorry. After much urgent 3am googling I discovered that's a sign of a depleted immune system, oh or AIDS. Despite appearance to the contrary I am still sane enough to figure out that I might just be a little stressed and run-down. Do you know how I know that? Because I'm hiding at work right now....

It's late and everyone's gone home and it is so deliciously, beautifully quiet. Just me and the hum of several dozing office machines. Aaahh. Off the clock obviously, but it is just so peaceful here that I'm finding it hard to leave. No-one to demand I wipe their bottoms, no-one asking me questions about construction loans or renters. I'm tempted to pull an all-nighter - all I'm missing is a large glass of wine.

It's too late now to pick up my dry-cleaning, which is a shame because my cold-weather winter wardrobe consists of 3 cashmere sweaters from Costco all of which are now locked away for the night at the dry cleaners. I have no idea what I'm going to wear tomorrow to keep warm - maybe my entire summer wardrobe all layered on top of each other? It is cold here - I heard that harumph New England, but really, it is verging on the chilly. I had to spend five minutes de-icing my windscreen this morning. You can trust that 4.5 minutes of that was spent locating the de-icing doohickey on my new car, but still. Actual ice, and all me woollens are being held prisoner.


Friday, January 18, 2008

A Little Pivacy Pease!

In the true spirit of revolution, reminiscent of women burning their bras, Anna has decided to potty train herself. She is saying no more! to nappies, and don't let the door hit you on the derriere to diapers. Her plastic Elmo potty lies dusty and discarded, untouched for months. No, Anna suddenly decided she wanted to use the 'Big Potty' and with very little else in the way of coercion, maybe a few chocolate-covered pretzels, she is now using the 'Big Potty' several times a day.

I've bought a couple of those plastic child-seat inserts because the sight of her tiny white peaches teetering on the edge of that massive precipice made me a little nervous. Not for her you understand, just the possible humiliation of being that parent whose child drowned in the toilet. So, safe in the knowledge that she's protected from diving head first down the Big Potty I left her to her 'privacy'. And yes, two year-olds in this day and age do ask for privacy, I even heard one of her preschool friends the other day saying he needed 'to hydrate'. Precisely.

So, Anna asked for privacy, and I knew I'd childproofed the bathroom.

I will freely admit that I was the one who installed the plastic childproof latches on the bathroom drawers, and I will also confess that I'm more Spongebob than Handy Manny, but I was not expecting this after her requisite five minutes of 'pivacy':

...and a poop! Everyone's a winner!!

Is it just me or does she look like Courtney Love?

Recycling Is Good For The Soul

Goodbye old bills, hello free guinea pig bedding.

It's so poetic to know that our guinea pig Louis gets to treat these old bills with the respect they deserve - and poop all over them.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Winter Sunset on the Beach

A couple of shots from tonight's family bike ride down to the beach:


I'm working on a post about place, about what it means to me. For any survivor of a modern Human Geography course it's a word fraught with meaning and half-forgotten murmurings of 'post-modernism', 'urban polemic' and horror of horrors 'social justice and the city'. Did you know that the field of Human Geography barely even exists in the US? That Geography over here is relegated to GPS mapping and everything else is lumped in with Geology?

In the meantime though I'm finding it hard to concentrate on serious writing, because the chuffing fleet's in town, and what am I doing tapping away at my computer when Santa Barbara's literally awash with 6,000 sailors!

Six THOUSAND sailors. Surely one of them could babysit? Surely one of them is over the age of 17 (on initial inspection during my morning power-walk along the beach I would have to say, no, sadly they all looked thoroughly prepubescent -or maybe it's just the ludicrous trousers?).

So, in lieu of a deeply thought out post, check out this fantastic article about Geography written by Guy Browning of The Guardian:

How To....Do Geography

Geography is the study of where things are, what they're doing there and why they aren't somewhere else. In the old days, it used to be the study of places and maps. This is now seen as an outdated approach, and to suggest that a certain place might actually be somewhere else is bordering on cultural imperialism.

Geographers have many unique skills. For example, they are the only class of people who can ask for directions and then understand where to go after they've heard them. Geographers also have an instinctive grasp of spatial layouts, and can walk quickly through any given department store to its toilets without walking through the centre of the lingerie section.

Many geographers opt to study the sexier side of geography, which is natural disasters. For example, a lot of work has been done on how volcanos can wipe out advanced civilisations that stupidly decide to live near volcanos. Another favourite topic is tectonic plates and earthquakes, and why California is about to experience the tectonic equivalent of a Greek wedding.

Human geography is a study of who is doing what where. That sounds gossipy, but in reality tends towards the study of tram systems with which geographers seem to have an almost mystical bond. Physical geography, on the other hand, is excellent for understanding the landscape and answering tricky questions such as "Why do rivers always flow straight through the middle of big towns?" and "Why does the sea fit so snugly round our coastline?"

Geographers like nothing better than studying the effect of ice on the landscape and how early man survived on Glacier Mints. A trained geographer can pick up a loose piece of rock and explain exactly where it came from, how old it is and what forces have acted on it. No one will be there to listen to him, but it's pretty impressive in its own way.

Like other academics, geographers love conferences. Interestingly, they can never decide where to go or how to get there. When they all finally get together, it's noticeable just how much corduroy geographers wear. That's because in long meetings they can look closely at their jacket sleeves and imagine they're studying ridge and furrow cultivation on a periglacial landscape.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blogging About What I Had For Lunch

LK often says that I'm a creature of habit, to which I reply you're damn lucky I am mate otherwise I'd be flinging my ovaries at any sailor in a fine pair of trousers. And then we laugh and both wistfully look around for that sailor.

Anyway, I have my little routines and today, I threw caution to the wind and did something different. I can understand that to the casual observer someone capable of moving thousands of miles from home may not seem like a nervous Nelly when it comes to change - but it's one thing to make the decision to emigrate, another entirely to live with it. As this blog is endless testament to.

I've been feeling a little hemmed-in lately, with a creeping desire to push my boundaries and try out the unknown. The last few years of our life have been so crammed full of change that I comforted myself with the known, the routine. Buying your first property two weeks before you have your first child, then trying to remodel whilst learning how to be landlords made 2005 a bit of a corker. I'm finally recovering, and I'm not sure if it's the advent of the New Year, or just fiscal restrictions making me want to break out, but I'm wanting to move on. I thought lunch would be a safe place to start.

For once I decided to forgo the catered lunch at work (so long California Pizza Kitchen, one too many BBQ chicken salads has sent me in to the arms of another.....) and I headed for pastures new. Someone had recommended a deli that has opened in the new hospital multi-storey carpark. I know, that's what I thought! What the chuff! You don't have to be a geographer to think that someone wasn't exactly thinking location, location, location. More like how are we going to get this giant parking structure past the City Planning Board. I know! Spanish architecture and a deli selling Peet's coffee. Sold! I have to tell you though, it was gobsmackingly good, and what's more a fresh Caprese sandwich with couscous salad and a frothy Peet's mocha only set me back $7 which in this town makes you wonder whether Concepcion knew how to operate the till.

Thus in conclusion, change is good. At least for today.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

British Beer vs. American Beer

Or rather, the battle of beer commercials, because I'm recovering from another bout of the flu and have spent too many invalided hours playing around with youtube.

One of the things I miss about the UK is the adverts, the commercials over here just aren't as entertaining. Shame really, considering they're on all the chuffing time. To generalize wildly (and what is this blog if not an overtly biased account of a Brit who clearly can't remember how rubbish the UK is?!), American commercials give you the hard sell. They're full of 'our product is bigger, better, 20% more efficient and far more erect than the competition', who they actually name. British ads just try and make you laugh, the result being you remember the ad, but not the product. Hmm.

Take for example, this all-time classic ad from when I was growing up. It manages to combine all that is dear to a Brit's heart; football, the dambusters, beer and us getting a spanking from the Germans on penalties. Still funny many years later:

The yanks did manage to retaliate in style though. Check out this corker:

Evil Beaver!

So who's the winner? British beer or American beer? I think I'm still going to have to say Britain. For the record, both Carling Black Label and Miller Genuine Draft are crap. Nothing beats a good Old Speckled Hen.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy Chuffing New Year!

I'd been toying with the idea of writing a brief adieu to 2007, but seeing as I woke up feeling slightly fragile this morning (hangover or flu or both, I can't decide) I'm stealing a meme instead.

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before? Parented a 2-year old. Bought a car. Went to Paris. Possibly had a miscarriage.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No, in retrospect they were pretty challenging. I mean, drinking more water what was I thinking?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My good friend Robin had a baby, Hannah. Hannah and Anna, the palindromes. That's going to get more and more annoying.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No thank goodness, but crikey I had to come closer to thinking about it in 2007 than at any other point in my life. When Mum was rushed to hospital while we were visiting in May and they told us they'd found an abdominal mass but they couldn't tell us anything further we were forced to face the unthinkable. I don't think I realized at the time quite how terrified I was. I actually slapped LK across the face at one point, full-on bitch slap, I can't honestly remember why now, except that I was so scared and strung out. It really brought it home how I'd been in the immensely privileged position of not having to worry about the health or safety of those who meant the most to me. That being turned on its head threw me for a loop. I did a lot of growing up in 2007.

5. What countries did you visit?
England, ostensibly to help my Mum celebrate her 60th birthday, in actuality to visit her for 2 weeks in hospital. Oh, and Paris. Neither of us had ever been before, the weather was dreary and bleak, but waking up each morning and heading out the door with coffee and only the vaguest idea of where we were headed each day, that was brilliant.

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
Financial security, and maybe a second child. I am laughing as I write this as I realize they are pretty much mutually exclusive.

7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Again I would have to say my Mum's 60th birthday:

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I suppose I should say getting a personal best in the triathlon, getting final ABR approval for our construction project, or even completing NaBloPoMo (ha!), but in actual fact it was probably getting Anna in to the preschool we wanted. That makes me sound like one of those nobbers who put their fetus down on the waiting list at Eton, but it was so hard to find a decent preschool here that managing to go seamlessly from nanny sharing to a great preschool, with no loss of childcare in between is still amazing to me. The fact that this is my biggest achievement of 2007 just shows how much my priorities have changed.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Probably failing to keep my cool when challenged about my 'hugging issues'. I think my classic composure-failure came with me yelling 'I don't have a problem hugging, I just have a problem hugging you'. Nice.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I'm sick as a dog right now thanks very much 2007.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My brand new Honda Pilot. I can't even tell you how long I'd needed a new car. Oh, and a carpet steam cleaner which has already saved us hundreds of dollars in carpet cleaning thanks to a toddler/white carpet death combo.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Anna, on so many levels, but not least because she took 10 flights in 2007 and didn't spack out once. She is an amazing traveler.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
For fear of being Dooced I'd better not say.

14. Where did most of your money go?
99.9% went to the bloody mortgage companies, and the rest to Baby Gap.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My brother getting engaged. Obviously because he'd landed himself a winner, but I can't deny a large percentage of the excitement came from knowing I'd have an excuse to fly home in 2008.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?
Wonder Pets Wonder Pets we're on our way!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder?
Happier and more content. I've no idea why, but I have a sneaking feeling it has something to do with our project moving towards fruition, oh and Anna's 3-hour naps haven't hurt. b) thinner or fatter? Pretty much the same, fitter than I was last year although Christmas has wreaked havoc. c) richer or poorer? Hard to say, 2008 is going to be the decider though. Literally make or break.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I'd had more date time with LK. I also wish I'd looked after myself a bit better, more yoga, fewer 5th glasses of wine at dinner parties, more time by myself.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying. Without a doubt.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
At home in SB with my Mum and Dad. A perfect Christmas, even without the roast turkey and Christmas pud.

21. Did you fall in love in 2007?
Not in the literal sense, but being re-proposed to on or 10th anniversary could certainly count. The Tiffany ring didn't hurt either.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
I know I'm several years behind the times on this one, but I'd have to say Grey's Anatomy. I've been ploughing through each series on Netflix and can't remember when I've enjoyed a TV series as much.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate's a strong word, but not strong enough when it comes to Verizon customer service.

24. What was the best book you read?
I read a lot of really good stuff in 2007, and some pretty whacky stuff too courtesy of my 'It's not about the Book Club', but they came up trumps with 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' by Khaled Hosseini. I haven't enjoyed any book as much as this one in a long long time.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Anna singing Trinkle Trinkle ittle star.

26. What did you want and get?
Honda Pilot. Honda Pilot. Honda Pilot.

27. What did you want and not get?
Building permits and a construction loan. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I'm embarrassed at how few films I saw in 2007, despite starting 'Film Club' in the latter half of the year. I would have to say 'Knocked Up' with the caveat that I really need to get out more.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
34. We were supposed to be at LK's Dad's cabin in Utah waking up to utter peace and tranquility halfway up a mountain. In the end, things didn't quite pan out, courtesy of our aged cars, and I ended up going to work instead.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Sad to say, but large amounts of cold hard cash, and being able to jet to and from the UK on a whim.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?
Denying myself a new pair of jeans until I'm done popping out sprogs.

32. What kept you sane?

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Daniel Craig. Woof!

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The sup-prime mortgage crisis probably had the greatest personal bearing for us, but what stirred me the most was the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. I saw that headline and immediately had the strongest feeling of icy dread. The BBC is warning about the increasing Talebanisation of Pakistan, that this is a country with nuclear weapons and a large population in the UK scares me tremendously.

35. Who did you miss?
Obviously my family. Every day, particularly when Mum was readmitted to hospital and I was back in the States. Also, my friend C, my first friend in California who moved to Tex-arse this summer. Damn her.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
I'd have to say baby Hannah, my friend's daughter who made her appearance in February. She has the biggest baby grin I've ever seen.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007.
I wish I could trust in this with all my heart, but I would have to say learning that financial security is not the be all and end all. That you can always start over, but you can never replace those people in your life who mean the world to you.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Wonder Pets Wonder Pets we're on our way!