Friday, November 27, 2015

Things I gave thanks for this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I was thankful for a holiday that is all about eating and drinking with family or friends or both, carries no gift giving obligations, and tees up a three day weekend very nicely.

I was also thankful for a table that was big enough to seat seven adults and three toddlers. An oven big enough to hold a 17lb turkey. And I was thankful that as a result that we could be, at last, the ones who host the Thanksgiving 'orphans'. That just felt really nice, in the new house and all.

I was thankful for all our lovely guests and all the food they brought. And thankful that this is a holiday where everyone brings something (even if it means you end up with enough cranberry sauce to drown an actual living turkey in).

And finally, I was thankful that no-one saw fit to bring this turkey shaped ice cream cake:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The historic sights of ye olde Hermosa

I just overheard a woman telling her daughter, as they walked past our house, 'Hermosa Beach is an old beach town'.

I suppose everything's relative. But only in California, surely, would Hermosa be considered old. It was farmland up until just over 100 years ago and was incorporated as a city in 1907.

The woman's bold claim reminded me of this tourist map I picked up a couple of months ago. We were expecting an influx of visitors, including my parents, closely followed by my sister and her family. I wanted to be sure I had all 'things to do in Hermosa' bases covered.

As you can probably tell from the map, even at this size, there's not a lot of ground to cover. All of those blue and red dots are shops, gyms, bars and restaurants. The squares are historical sites. Not a tonne of them, are there?
They include some murals painted in the 2000s, a 9/11 memorial, and the surfer's walk of fame which I believe was started in 2003. So far, so not very historic. Oh, and a windmill from 1903. So there is that, at least.

The thing is, Hermosa just isn't old enough: there haven't been many people living here for long enough to create any real (as in, old) history.

Fortunately for our guests, if you like wandering along the greenbelt, grabbing a coffee, and relaxing on the beach there is still plenty to do. So my parents were happy enough. And we found enough to amuse my sister, her surfer husband, and their 5 year old twins on the days they weren't driving to Disneyland or the California Science Center. On top of the beach, the strand path and the parks, there is Hermosa Beach fire station: children who ask nicely can look around, and will even be given a fire hat and a sticker. Now that's something they should put on the 'Sights of Hermosa' map.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Weather conundrums

For most of my adult life I had no problems wearing weather appropriate clothing. A quick glance at the weather forecast and I had an outfit all figured.

Now, living too long in LA has ruined me. On a business trip to Portland last week I saw that the forecast was 12c and had to ask myself 'what does that mean? Is it a jacket, and trousers, but bare ankles? Or does it require tights, a wool coat and maybe a scarf?' I chose the former but (and maybe I'm just getting soft) I think I should have gone with the latter.

The clocks have gone back, and the shadows are longer for a greater part of the day. And sometimes in the morning it has felt a bit chilly.  So I have ended up dressing Lady P in something autumnal a few times recently. Only to strip her down, apply sunscreen, and roll my eyes at this ridiculous climate, a couple of hours later.
Looks pretty autumnal, doesn't it? She was actually sweating.

Lady P abandoned her leggings to play in the water feature
TLOML and I even lit our fire last week, and made S'mores. An hour later we had the doors and windows open because it was too warm. I should be more British: we know that there's no need to light a fire if you're sitting around in shorts and a t-shirt.

If it helps, I'm not the only one who's confused. I saw this good looking Hermosan family at a beach diner this morning:
Getting some wear out of their snow gear
The girl was wearing a woolly hat with a t-shirt. The mum was wearing a padded gilet with shorts and flip flops.  Maybe they, like me, are hankering for some cooler weather.

They might be local and not know any better. For me, well, I've forgotten what real weather is like, and I miss it. Pictures like this one in Lady P's book always tug at my heart strings, but they have a particular resonance this time of year. I crave a rain-heavy sky.
Grey skies, a scarf, and falling leaves. Sigh.
File this post under 'High Class Problems' too, I guess.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The highs and lows of Halloween on 8th Street

In accordance with our Halloween tradition I bought about 400 pieces of candy, only for TLOML to say ‘that’s not nearly enough’ and go out and buy the same amount of sweets again. I was expecting, in accordance with our Halloween tradition, to have to concede to TLOML over an empty bucket that he was right all along and we did need a tonne of sweets.

But no. The bucket remained untouched. Admittedly we do live on a block that isn’t very conducive to trick or treating. It’s a busy through street which is a little short on sidewalks and single family homes. Still, there are some families, and we trick or treated them successfully. When we ventured further down the street, we left a lit jack o’lantern glowing brightly on the drive, which is the time honoured signal for ‘we have candy!’ and I left a little bucket full of Sour Tart Zombies out for people who called while we were out.

When we returned an hour later that little bucket was still full.

Meanwhile we had ventured just four or five blocks west where we found the most Halloweeny street ever. One guy built an actual haunted house in the walkstreet, full of dry ice and spooky music, for kids to walk through in order to get their treats.
This was a lot spookier after dark. Kudos to the man who built it.
Another guy was dressed as the Joker and danced out across his front yard screeching ‘whaddaya want’ at enthralled/ terrified children. A witch a few doors down cackled as she handed out M&Ms over her white picket fence. There was a ten foot tall inflatable black cat outside one house, and another one at the end of the block. And plenty of families sitting out on their porches with Jack O'Lanterns giving out sweets to happy trick or treaters. Lady P and her two cousins had an absolute blast, and we headed back up the hill feeling all caught up in the spirit of spookiness and tooth rotting treats.

And then we got home to find our bucket was full. I left it out anyway, to save us answering the door, and thinking maybe some of the 20 and 30 somethings who walk down our street to head to the beach bars might enjoy a sweet treat en route. During dinner on the deck TLOML even shouted down at a couple of passers by 'hey, help yourself to candy' to which came the reply 'no thanks man!'. We literally couldn't give the stuff away. I left the bucket out overnight thinking that maybe some late night drunks might enjoy the treats. By morning it was still full.

So now, for the first time, we have a significant surfeit of Halloween sweets. And that's over and above the surplus in Lady P's haul (fortunately she can't count much above 10 so we are okay to whittle her sweet collection down).

TLOML suggests we save the excess for next year. But I'm not sure next year will be any different. Unless, of course, we have won the lottery and moved to a walkstreet by then. So now I'm weighing up the merits of giving them to troops vs just eating a couple of treats a day for the rest of our lives.