Saturday, June 11, 2016

Californian closets

It turns out bedrooms are not required by state law to have a built-in closet. Which surprises me because realtors will say stuff like 'It's really four bedrooms but they've listed it as three because this one doesn't have a closet'. As if a closet is as essential as a door and a window.

Requiring a closet might not be the law but it is pretty common practice. All the houses we've lived in or snooped around have built-ins in every room. And most master bedrooms have walk-ins. To the extent that I now think that closets like this are normal.

I'm not showing off when I saw I know people with closets like this. I've been in closets like this. I think this is how clothes ought to live (now I'm a Californian).

Sadly our new house, despite its ample storage, does not feature a walk in closet. I know. It's pretty unbelievable. Instead our clothes are stored in a series of closets in and around the bathroom. I've learned to live with it by calling it a dressingroom-cum-bathroom but the more aspirational real estate I see, the harder this cross is to bear.
Our closet-cum-bathroom. I know.

I daydream about ripping the whole dressing-room-cum-bathroom out and replacing it with a walk-in and a wet room. But I also daydream about a pergola, new dining chairs and a new bannister. Meanwhile TLOML not only dreams of (but actually sorts out) termite-free fencing, and new window cranks.

So for now I've had to go for a cheaper facelift. It's hard to describe just how happy I felt on achieving this transformation.
BEFORE: The horror of mis-matched hangers

AFTER: Aaaah
I guess I don't need a fancy walk in closet when $30 worth of hangers makes me feel so good.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The beauty of June gloom

June gloom this year is absolutely glorious. It barely lifts at all! Never mind the bold blue sky that usually emerges around noon. We are in wall to wall grey. And it makes me want to put on The Smiths and have a nice cup of tea.

Glancing down a walk street on my way home I could almost have thought I was back in Yorkshire. Sigh.
4.30pm on a June day!
 Our deck is positively autumnal all day long.
Mellow mists...
Admittedly it does spoil our peek of a sea view. But think of the time and money we are saving not having to bother with the daily chores of sunscreen application.
The Pacific is definitely over there somewhere
No-one else seems to like it much, but I am feeling right at home and I love it.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Holidaying with intent

Most Bank Holidays in the UK are fairly aimless affairs. With the exception of Christmas, New Year and Easter, the rest are just intended to enable an afternoon in a beer garden, a day of DIY, or a mini break, depending on your inclinations.

By contrast, most public holidays in the US mark something. This is true of all the minor ones - like MLK Day, or Cesar Chavez Day, Columbus Day  (i.e. the ones only schools and Post Offices close for). And the big ones too, of course, like Thanksgiving or July 4th.

This weekend, while the UK was aimlessly enjoying a long weekend, the US was purposefully celebrating Memorial Day. This is a day to remember those who have died in military service. It is also officially the start of summer.  And the first long weekend (unless you're a teacher or Post Office worker) since New Year. It's a big one. Hermosa being where it is, it plays host to everyone who wants to mark the start of summer with a drunken day by the beach, by putting on a big street fair.

If we were younger we would no doubt spend the weekend hellbent on getting wasted at Fiesta Hermosa. The number of discarded solo cups on our walk to the beach suggested plenty of people had gone that route. They come by the bus-load, buy cheap hats and heavily discounted t-shirts, eat from the food trucks and drink and drink and drink.

Since we are 40 something parents, we chose instead to get to the fair early - at 10am, when some kids are just embarking on the walk of shame from the night before - so Lady P could enjoy the childrens' rides and the ukulele music before the serious, drinking-oriented crowds not to mention the out-of-town kids swept in.

TLOML went back to the Fiesta with friends on Sunday and reported it to be 'messy'. I stayed home, and sober, in order to be prepared for another big Memorial Day activity: the Murph workout at my Crossfit gym. Some people do it in uniform, some with a weight vest, to honour military heroes. My only equipment was a band to assist my pull ups. I plan on doing it again next year, and maybe if I work hard I won't need a band.

In fact I think we plan on doing almost all of this again next year. It's a good template for Memorial Day Weekend: take in the Fiesta time, a workout, catching up with friends, and some time on the beach. But at the point that Lady P wants to go down to the Fiesta to hang out with her mates, we'll reverse the plan and get as far away from the crowds as possible.
This is cute now. Fast forward 12 years and I don't think I'll be so keen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Blowing your own trumpet

As I sit here in my home in the so-called greatest nation on earth, I think, 'who says that about themselves?'

Americans. Many Americans say it, and with absolute confidence. A couple of weeks ago I was at a Habitat For Humanity build for veterans, and in the opening remarks the speaker said 'thanks for coming etc, let's build houses for some military veterans, to say thanks for their service and for helping make this the greatest nation on earth'.

I paraphrased the first bit, but that last part is word for word. Most of the people nearby whooped in agreement. Only a couple looked embarrassed. But seriously, who says that about their own country?!

There's nothing wrong with a bit of heartfelt patriotism. But at some point it starts to feel a little blinkered, and rather braggadocious.

As it happens, America might have a good case for claiming to be the greatest nation on earth. After all they did get a man on the moon first, and they have won the most Olympic medals, not to mention invented a bunch of major lifestyle conveniences (garage door opener, the iPhone, etc). It's probably the most desirable place for those in developing countries to immigrate to. Or, as TLOML is always telling me, 'everyone wants to move to America'.

But China is literally greater, by about 1 billion people. The Japanese live longer. The French arguably have the best way of life, by which I mean red wine and cheese. According to this site, Germany is the best country on earth. And there are plenty of countries where veterans don't depend on charities to provide them housing (although apparently not Germany).

Anyway, I've gone down a bit of a rabbit warren there. Never mind about that. Let's just say for the sake of argument the US IS truly the greatest nation on earth. Can they just show a little humility, and let someone else say it for them?

Monday, May 16, 2016

When celebrations collide

Time to clear the cards off the mantelpiece I think. It was my birthday two weeks ago, and they're starting to gather dust. As are, nestled in there, my Mother's Day cards.
Do you see how the Mother's Day card gets a little lost..?
I had a delightful birthday. TLOML took me out for legit sushi and cocktails and a celebratory brunch, and I got some lovely gifts and cards. I had a very nice Mother's Day too. There was an almost unbearably cute Mother's Day breakfast at school, including a little concert. Handmade cards from P, a bumperr sleep in and a lovely brunch and gift from TLOML.

So I suppose I have nothing to complain about. And yet, I do think the experience could be optimised.

The two celebrations are just too close together. Mother's Day has been set by the greetings' card lobby as the second Sunday in May here, which means it falls within a week or two of my birthday. This year it was just six days later. Inevitably, the two celebrations collide. TLOML told me a couple of days afterwards that one of the Mother's Day gifts was in fact a birthday present. And I can't say I blame him. Planning for my birthday consumes enough effort, so to have another celebration follow hard on the heels - well, he's all but run out of steam by then. And Mother's Day here - like most things - is quite a big deal. Brunch tables get booked up weeks in advance and florists make a killing in additional markup.

TLOML did very well to cover the essentials - a good brunch, a card and a gift - as well as making me feel treasured and important all day long. It's no mean feat. I know how he feels, because his birthday is less than two weeks before Christmas. And he is very hard to buy for, so thinking of two brilliant gifts in a short time frame is tough.

There's nothing we can do about that clash of celebrations. I'll just have to start thinking about his birthday earlier. But there is something we can do about the birthday/ Mother's Day mash up.

I have decided - no, decreed - that from 2017 on we (okay, he) will mark Mother's Day according to the British calendar, which is to say, Mothering Sunday in the Church calendar.  It moves about a bit but is usually some time in March. That means there's a decent amount of breathing space before my birthday, and there'll be no competition for brunch tables. Lady P might be confused, as she will have to stick with the school calendar - so I guess I'll get to celebrate it twice. I think that is known as having the best of both worlds. But TLOML will be absolutely exonerated from any Mother's Day duties in May, leaving him clear to focus entirely on my birthday. It's a transatlantic win-win!