Friday, October 30, 2015

Harvest Festival

In the UK at Harvest Festival children bring tins of food, and dry food, to school. The school collects all the tins of beans and bags of rice and so on, and puts them into food parcels. Then the kids go out and deliver those boxes to local people who will appreciate them, like old people.

At least, that's how it was when I was a kid. I don't think it's very different now except I'm guessing they probably don't send unattended children into strangers' homes anymore. Still, it's about gathering in the fruits of the harvest and sharing them with the community.

Today we went to a Harvest Festival at Lady P's school. I was confused. This is what went on:
Lady P dressed as a pumpkin, playing 'Honey Drop' in return for a plastic spider prize

A spider's web dance party
There was a pumpkin patch and place to decorate pumpkins. Lots of little fairground style games. A popcorn machine and a pizza lunch. A bounce house. And absolutely no harvesting or giving to the poor going on at all.

So I learned a couple of things today. Harvest Festival is what the Montessori school cunningly call their Halloween party, presumably because someone devout once complained about celebrating a pagan festival. Nice job Montessori, you almost had me fooled.

The other thing I learned is that the Halloween Party Harvest Festival is my opportunity to demonstrate what a cool, creative, firm bodied mother I am by dressing up as a banana, a Dr Seuss character, Princess Leia, or a cat. There were a lot of fun/ foxy costumes on display at 10.30am in the Montessori playground today. I did not seize that opportunity, choosing instead to dress like someone who skived off work for 45 minutes and was in a hurry to get back to it. Damn those Manhattan Beach mums with all that time on their skinny hands!

Maybe now I understand what's really going on here I'll do better next year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The DIY household

If the local message boards are to be believed, this is not a town where people like to do things themselves. I have seen requests for information on 'someone who can come and clean my grill' and 'a company who will install baby gates'. I've also met no fewer than three different women who claim to be professional organisers (aka tidiers).

But TLOML bucks the trend. He likes to do his own dirty work. He cleans his own grill and has been known to install baby gates. (And he has me permanently on staff as an organizing force). So when we decided we needed to start rinsing sand off before entering the house, he installed a shower.

The first shower he installed was from a kit, which made it less impressive. We were hoping the white plastic look would be Skandi-chic, but in reality it just looked a bit ghetto.
So he went back to the hardware store (oh, just realised they dn't call them DIY shops here. Maybe DIY really isn't a thing here at all). He bought various pipes, shower heads, joiners, flashings and the like and constructed an actual, working shower.
Best of all it has a foot wash, which is just the right height for Lady P to rinse her grubby little hands in. I am very proud of him. And very happy about the big reduction in sand in our house.

The problem is now he's getting some big ideas. He wants to personally hack down the massive spikey palm leaves that hover 20 feet above our deck. You know, the ones which are touching the power lines. I'm counselling against. I'm saying that he's made his point, he's very capable, but we can pay a man to tackle that hazardous situation with specialist tools. And I know I can find one on the local message boards.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sirens over Hermosa

Every day at noon, a siren goes off over Hermosa. It blares out from the tower at City Hall, and Hermosa being the size of a postage stamp, it's audible across pretty much the whole town.

Although I've lived here for over 18 months it still sometimes catches me by surprise. Like when I'm relaxing on the deck, enjoying the gentle rustle of the breeze in the palms, when suddenly...
...strange isn't it? Makes you feel  like you're in a war zone, and maybe under attack. But I scanned the horizon and there were no enemy craft heading our way.

Apparently the siren was originally set up to remind the kids of a 9pm curfew, presumably back in the day when life in Hermosa was like Footloose's Bomont.

Nowadays they just blast it out every day to keep the siren from getting rusty and dusty. So if there is an invasion, from the Pacific, or Redondo Beach, I guess we'll be well prepared.

Monday, October 5, 2015

On the American way of laundry

This is our garage. It includes several fire extinguishers, some old paint, a water heater, various wheeled vehicles, and a washing machine and tumble dryer. This is normal, in America.

It's very much not normal in the UK. There, if you don't have a laundry room, you keep your washing machine in the kitchen. Your tumble dryer? That's what clothes lines, clothes horses and radiators were for.

I think we can all agree that keeping your laundry in the garage (or the kitchen) is not ideal. Ideal - on both sides of the Atlantic - is a laundry room. Or a utility room where the washer/dryer rubs shoulders with a massive chest freezer, mops and brooms.

But failing that, in lots of homes in the US the laundry machines - including your dryer, even in sunny SoCal - set up in the garage. It took me a while to get used to. They're surrounded by dirty things, like cars, bikes and surfboards. But, like so many aspects of American life, it now makes perfect sense to me. Why on earth would you want to take up valuable kitchen cabinet space with something that has nothing to do with cooking and eating? Plus the machines are, of course, massive. They wouldn't fit in most UK kitchens I have known.

Suffice to say, till we buy that mansion with the laundry room, I'm a convert.