Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's Thanksgiving, and we're going nowhere

It's about this time of year that TLOML and I start talking about our next move.
Happy spinsterdom, in my old pad

Five years ago, I had just moved out of my little London garden flat and into TLOML's bachelor pad in LA. We were looking for a place in Malibu, so we could enjoy a few months on the beach before moving back to London sometime in 2010.

Four years ago, we were blissfully happy in Malibu, but knew the beach life was not forever. We were working on a move to Manhattan early in 2011, as a sort of stepping stone for a few months, on route to London. The great journey East was finally about to get underway.

Three years ago we were making the most of our New York base (with jaunts to Jamaica, Florida and Argentina and a bucket list of things to do), before we moved back to London in January 2012

And two years ago we celebrated Thanksgiving in London, with a big baby bump and much talk of spending a few months of maternity leave in Saltburn in 2013. Before moving back to London for good. (Yes, that return to London is a recurring theme.)

This time last year I had just enjoyed my nephews' birthday party, a few doors down from our house. Lady P was giggling and gurgling and crawling. And we had ordered the largest turkey Saltburn had ever seen, for a big Thanksgiving dinner we were hosting. There was a poignancy to our celebrations, the first and last we'd have in Saltburn. For we were already planning our next move, the return to California. We were debating San Francisco vs Los Angeles, and working on securing my visa.

And this year? It's the first time we'll celebrate Thanksgiving in a town where we might actually stick around for another Thanksgiving - and who knows how many more. The first November we haven't been planning a move since 2009.
The Sugar Cube: a place to stay awhile
And for that, I am truly thankful.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Literary tastes

Lady P loves a good story, and has little caches of books all over the Sugar Cube.

So do I. I hope she and I will share the love of books that I share with my mother. We get a lot of pleasure from lending or giving each other favourite reads. But then, my mum and I have a fair amount of common ground in our literary tastes.

Lady P's interests, by contrast, leave me cold. Her fascination with the Tana Hoban 'concept' books, for example, which we have taken out of the library many times.
 I guess Hoban was all about celebrating street life. And so we get pictures like these:
Ooh, look at that drain, with all the dirt and rubbish!

Bin bags! Fascinating to Lady P. Not doing much for me though.

Here's a man looking for somewhere quiet to smoke some crack.
 And this book, which I bought for its kitsch value, has proved popular way beyond my expectations.

Perhaps because her father works from home, she finds this one endlessly fascinating

Good luck 'storytelling' anything at all about this bonkers picture. I always say 'there's a little girl having a think and...' then I just dry up. Why is there a racoon there too? And with what or whom is the cat boxing/ dancing? My imagination cannot stretch that far. So we just sit in silence and look at it till Lady P shouts 'all done'.

Another inexplicable favourite. Took me a while to spot that beetle, too.

I hope her tastes change. Until then, Lady P's book club is one I do not want to join.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Potty-friendly piers

Spurred on by thoughts of reducing our environmental footprint (and not at all motivated by the fact little Shayla from the playground is already out of nappies, of course), we decided to potty train Lady P. I know it's a little early but she was up for it, once she realized how many stickers she could earn, and it was a fairly painless process.

But for a few days we didn't want to go more than ten minutes from home. Unless it was to somewhere we didn't mind whipping out the porta-potty in public. Roadtrips to Malibu, long brunches, and leisurely walks along the beach were all out.

Hence, an afternoon at Redondo Pier. Which is a ten minute drive, and also somewhere it is okay to pee in public. Redondo Pier - like the rest of Redondo - should be really nice. It probably was, once. And then the seventies happened. And the old storm-battered wooden fishing pier was replaced by a strange, concrete development, anchored by a multistorey carpark, with a pier in the shape of a horseshoe, some amusement arcades, and a fish market.

Even the outdoor tables have a TV

Oriental Breeze: hot dogs, french fries, funnel cakes, icecream...

...and sushi. And live fishing bait.

A pier staple since 1952, but the vibe today is pure 1980s, complete with bar tenders in tropical shirts and a building that looks like a crow's nest

Old school pier cuisine

Thai, Cajun, Whatever. This building is part of the carpark.

Carpark on top, fishmarket-cum-amusement arcade below
I'm being rude about it, and that's easy to do because it is so unfeasibly ugly. And yet, there are many redeeming features. The seafood market is one.
This place is also part of the carpark (in the background) and looks crappy

...but had a dozen types of live clam for sale

Not to mention live sea urchin for less than we paid for 2 pieces of nigiri last weekend
 There are also plenty of sweet fish themed murals, which delighted Lady P.
 It's a pretty nice place for a father-daughter stroll.

And best of all, no-one looked twice when we stopped, mid-pier, to use the potty. I suspect this is the first of many trips to our new favourite pier.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Home Alone

He's gone again. Gallivanting around Argentina leaving me holding the baby. Not literally - she's too squirmy these days - but metaphorically.

Such is the gilt TLOML feels about taking a trip, and so attached is he to me and to Lady P, that he has kept this one short. He left at 4am Tuesday and gets home at 12noon on Saturday. Which is a brutal 40 hours of travel for 3 days in the office.

I appreciate him keeping the trip as brief as possible. Being sole parent is tiring. There's no-one to nudge when she wakes up at 6.45am. And when the diaper genie looks almost full, there's no solace in the 'squish another one in and let the next person deal with it' option.

Plus it's boring. No-one to make me a gin and tonic at the end of the day, no-one to cook and savour a good dinner with, and no-one to chat to in the office.

Still, in the boredom is a mine of productive energy. By the time TLOML had been gone for less than 24 hours, I had cleared out our clobber by the door, and my baking drawer. Yes, it needed it...

Also I completed my seasonal wardrobe change. Actually that's a bit redundant here, I'm not sure I'll really need those fur lined boots, and I didn't dare pack all my sandals away. Still, I did a wardrobe tidy up that was long overdue. I also managed to get through a couple of episodes of that great Girls' Night In treasure, the Gilmour Girls.

He's been gone now for two full days and two evenings and I'm almost at the end of Season 2 of Nashville. I've reorganized Lady P's wardrobe, and all her toys, and created a new dressing up box for her. Oh, and mended all the broken flaps on one of her many tattered Maisy books.

I have just under two days left of going solo. And there's no doubt I'll be happy when TLOML is home. But if he were to stay away another week who's to say what other miracles I might accomplish. Or what other trash TV I might get through. Hmmm. On that note... hurry home TLOML and save me from myself!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

My first Halloween

I don't count the ones before I moved to the US, for obvious reasons. Or the ones when I lived in the US but was not in the same place as TLOML, because I never went to a Halloween party without him. And home alone, no-one really trick-or-treated our apartment in Malibu or Manhattan, or Fox Corner. Last year was my first chance to do the whole 'baby in a cute costume' thing, and I was out of town.

So I consider 2014, here in Hermosa Beach, my first proper Halloween. And I loved it.

Lady P went as a cat. A little unimaginative I know,  but she does a great 'miaou'. She also incorporates the  straight arm wave of the lucky cat in the window of Thai Top...

...and a strange yawn, I think because cats in books are often yawning.
Add these interpretive elements to Lady P's costume, and take off the ears and tail (as she did) and it's a rather nuanced portrayal of a cat. Still, she had a good cat face, a clear 'miaou' and clearly had no idea why we kept insisting on dressing her up as a cat. She was in costume for storytime at the library, and for her music 'class', so by the time actual trick or treating came around the costume was a little worn but the routine and the face paint were well rehearsed.

We stocked up big on sour candies, lit our pumpkins and headed out to meet up with our neighbours. 

In the assembled gaggle, there was a kid dressed as a banana, a ladybird, a couple of super heroes, and a 9 year old boy dressed as a pretty cheerleader, blonde wig and all. Oh, and TLOML in his Elvis costume. Not at all embarrassed to be the only adult in costume. And rightly so.

After a little neighbourly chilli, we three headed out and hit up about five houses on our block. Nice way to meet the neighbours (and judge them for the quality of their treats and costumes).
Then we headed home to hand out candy to the gangs of costumed kids. They really make an effort around here, and I like that. I also like how many people were out and about, trick or treating. I guess this is how Halloween is meant to be. And I like it.