Saturday, May 28, 2005

Tim's Favorite Cherries

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Tim's favorite cherries aren't real. It's cherry season in Southern California and my marble cherries still look almost as good as the real thing. I found them in a shop in Santa Barbara, one of those overcrowded places where the store buyer just doesn't know when to stop... when enough is enough. These cherries were on the bottom shelf of a mahogany whatnot. That's what the shop owner called it...a whatnot. I saw the cherries and thought, why not. They were $45. For all the attention they get, I still think they were a steal. Or, at least I thought they were a steal until my good friend, Ellen, sent me a link to a website where I saw the cherries...and they cost $30. At least I know what Tim's getting for his birthday.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Happy Birthday Dear Jane

Today we celebrated Jane's birthday AND THE FACT THAT SHE IS PREGNANT with Baby Number Two!!!!! Thirty-six years ago Jane was born in the Princess Mary Maternity and Lying/Laying-in Hospital in Hampstead, England. This hospital had been built for the wives of officers just after World War I ended and in the late 60s it was catering to just about anyone who was lucky enough to live in its catchment area and whose pregnancy was proceeding in an unremarkable manner. While it is now a mental health facility, it was still a maternity hospital when I needed such a place.

So, today is the day that I reflect upon the joy my daughter has brought to me. [Note to Number One Son: On October 29, I will reflect upon the joy that you have brought to me, because it is just as immeasureable...but today is your sister's day!] Tonight I will just write down memories from May 22, 1969. While some are blurred, others are quite clear...Jane's first day begins.

It was early. I remember that daylight was just beginning but hadn't yet blurred the edges of night. I still loved sleep, the way teenagers and young adults do, so this early morning light was novel. Something had awakened me and I wondered as I stood before the window in our living room if this would be the day our baby joined us. I wasn't having contractions, but something felt different and I certainly was more than ready to have a baby so I rummaged through my bag looking for the
What to Do When Your Baby is Ready to be Born instructions. I couldn't remember if I was supposed to call an ambulance or a taxi. An ambulance seemed overly dramatic, but I seemed to recall reading something about that. As I stood there, a sudden whoosh of water left me in no doubt that my waters had broken. I knew the right words, I sort of knew what to expect, but I didn't really understand the whole process entirely. I was not yet 21 and was clearly out of my depth. Grabbing a towel, I sat on the side of the tub reading my hospital checklist. I scanned down to the What to do When your Waters Break section and BINGO, I was right, I was supposed to call for an ambulance.

I tiptoed into our bedroom and leaned over the bed and whispered to my young husband something like "Today's the Day. I've called the ambulance. You stay there and I'll call you later from the hospital." When I think about that now it seems completely bizarre that we didn't go to the hospital together, but I remember he had worked late the night before and, well...I just thought I'd go to the hospital by myself and get prepped and then call him, so that's what I did. The ambulance ride was short and lacked drama and I can remember feeling pretty excited as they walked me to admissions.

I've pushed the ghastly memories of razors and stomach clearing well beyond any easy recall so my next strong memory, since I wasn't really in hard labor at this point, was the hospital staff trying to figure out where to put me. I rang Roger and told him it would be ages yet and that I'd brought a good book with me so I'd give him a call closer to the time. We both seemed remarkably comfortable with that. Again, that seems pretty extraordinary to me, given the "We're pregnant" times that we now live in, but that's the way it was. I was found an empty bed in a ward filled with women who had some health issues with their pregnancies and were on bed rest. It was a comfortable ward with around eight beds and beautiful natural light filling the room. I seem to remember that at one end there was a balcony, but I could be imagining that. Once I'd been settled into my bed a wave of hunger washed over me that was aggravated even further by the smells coming from the kitchen. I remember it was a good English school dinner smell. I asked the woman in the bed next to mine how the food was at Princess Mary's. She told me meals were the highlight of her day. I hopped off my bed just to have a quick read of my chart that was hanging at the end and sure enough,
NO FOOD BY MOUTH was inked in big red letters on a plain piece of paper. I moved that offending bit of paper to the back of the clipboard and climbed back in bed. How else could you take in food, I remember thinking to myself. The dinner ladies cheerfully pushed their trolleys into the ward, checking our charts at the end of our beds before handing us the appropriate dinner. Since I had no chart, ahem, they handed over a plate of shepherd's pie to me. I was in hog heaven. Halfway through lunch, the head matron wandered in. She was all big bosom and heavy starch and I knew that if she took my lunch from me, I wouldn't get it back. I shoveled in a couple more mouthfuls when she said, "Aren't you in labour?" I answered her back something coy like..."Possibly, but I'm feeling no pain yet." She became all agitated about where's the NO FOOD BY MOUTH sign and you shouldn't be eating you naughty girl and flipping through my chart where...duh...she found the no food edict. I seem to remember being given a glass of barley water to drink and then ignored for a bit. Apparently I was in a bit of trouble but a sweet young nurse snuck in and told me not to worry that there'd be a shift change in an hour and matron would soon be gone. It was now about 1 PM.

I wondered if I was actually going to have my baby on May 22, or if I'd be stuck in this ward eating nothing for another day. I started to read and then fell asleep. An hour or so later I woke up and I knew, ouch, that today would be the day. I hobbled down to the nurse's station and asked to use the phone so I could call my husband. That accomplished, they walked me back to my bed saying they were just going to check a few things and then, possibly, move me to the labour room. I remember very little about the next four hours. Roger came and was very comforting as we waited in that darkened labour room. Doctors and nurses wandered in and out, checking me and assuring me it wouldn't be all that much longer. Then I remember telling Roger to go and get someone NOW and suddenly there was so much activity and literally the next thing I knew I was in the delivery room with not one person I recognized. I was asked if I minded if this gaggle of young medical students stayed for the delivery. I guess I said I didn't care, but I did wonder where Roger was.

I have no memory of the actual delivery which I guess is a good thing, but I do remember Roger being rushed in as Jane was being cleaned and primped and his look of absolute amazement and joy. A very kind nurse helped me freshen up a bit and then left Roger, Jane and I together as a family for the very first time. As she walked out the door she said, "I'll have a tray of tea and biscuits sent up...just be a few minutes." Jane was born around 6:30 PM and the westering summer sun just filled the room. The second floor delivery room had enormous great windows that overlooked Hampstead Heath. Roger was very tenderly holding Jane as the westering sun streamed into the room...dust motes dancing around the two of them. I remember just looking at them and feeling so very full of love.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Der Gropenfuhrer aka our Governor

I am so flippin' naive. I am STILL surprised that Schwarzenegger is my governor. I still find it hard to believe that some people who I liked voted for him. My very favorite gift shop in Santa Monica is Casa Allegra. I remember popping in there just before the election. Cathy, the owner, was almost girlie giddy in her endorsement of Schwarzenegger. Because she was giving away really good free margueritas, I didn't engage her in much discussion about the upcoming election except to say, "You're kidding?" every time she extolled this moron's virtues. Mon mari and I were getting ready to head off to Milwaukee for the week leading up to the election. I had cast my absentee ballot and felt that California would vote correctly whether I was here or not. But Wisconsin was a swing state and hubby and I needed to feel a part of the Democratic push for the White House. Wisconsin stayed a BLUE STATE, but barely, and we like to think it was because in some small part to our efforts in that week before the election. I haven't been in to Casa Allegra lately. Cathy's republican enthusiasm has kind of put me off. Perhaps, though, I should go in just to chat about the state of our state.

Speaking of the Schwarzeneggers, a friend of my daughter's was lunching in Cafe Montana a week or so ago and Ahhhhhnold pulled up in some pale, beige expensive car. Out he jumped, dressed head to toe in, socks, trousers, shirt, jacket and tie. WHO IS BUYING that man's clothes for chrissakes. His face had been so tightly pulled back that he looked uncomfortable in his own skin. The sycophantic restauranteurs couldn't have been any more cloying in their delight at his presence. But wait!!! It's not just Ahhhhhnold, it's Maria, too! A HUGE Cadillac Escalade, or something similarly embarrassing pulled up in front of the restaurant in a no park zone. Out hopped Maria. By this time, the entire restaurant was atwitter at being so close to a movie star, a governor AND A KENNEDY. It was almost too much for everyone present. The entire restaurant staff was litterally hopping from one foot to the next, hoping to be able to do just one small thing to delight the celebs. "Your muffins are ready, Maria," said the manager. "Your favorite table is ready, Mr. Schwarzenegger," said the front desk girl.

"Um, I've been here 20 minutes...could I just get someone to take my order," said my daughter's friend.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Not Sharing Memories

A neighbor of mine is going through a painful divorce. I have heard the pain in her voice and it has pierced me to my very marrow. I think her pain is due as much to grieving about the future as it is to sadness about the present.

I have an elderly friend who lives thousands of miles away from me and has always been very honest about her single status. She was married for 35 years to a man with whom she had seven children. She changed her religion to his, because that's what he wanted. She didn't pursue a career because that's he didn't want her to and besides, his was SO important and he didn't want her working because how would that look. She changed the artistic and slightly bohemian way she dressed because he didn't like it. He preferred that she look like a North Shore (of Lake Michigan) Nancy (conservative). And then, when their youngest child left home for university, he decided that he was ready for a change. So he left her. And because she had taken so much for so long, she took this final insult as though she deserved it and now, in her mid 80s, she is alone because someone felt like a change. I think of her so often because of one little comment she made to me many years ago. We were sitting on a park bench, chatting, when an elderly couple walked by very slowly...holding hands. She looked at them long after they'd passed us and then turned to me. "That's what I've missed," she said. "Growing old together and sharing our memories."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Dog Update

As I sit here listening to the moronic dogs bark endlessly next door as some mild-mannered Topanganite wanders past, with great clenching of jaw and gnashing of teeth I don't scream out "QUIET" and I don't scream out, "If you'd just ratchet your energy up one notch and scream QUIET at those flippin' dogs, they'd shut up." No, I say nothing. I reckon I'll take these neighborhood dogs and their more moronic owners on one by one. The Teacher of the Very Highly Extremely Amazingly Gifted no longer chats to me. She has been cross with me ever since my husband told her that he thought Molly (her German Shepherd) barked so much because she was unhappy. In Topanga, that's like saying "You beat your Great-Grandmother, don't you?" Since I've invited Animal Control into the mix, she has declared me invisible, BUT...and this is very cool...her dog isn't trying to attack me and no longer sits on top of a grassy knoll barking for two straight hours anymore. Every now and then her husband shoots me a dirty look as he drives by. I smile cos at least I'm much happier now. And as I've discovered, with these dog owners, it's ALL ABOUT ME and MY DOG and SOD ANYONE WHO DOESN'T LIKE IT. It took me a while, but I finally get it. Today my good friend Betsy asked for the link to Animal Control...not to report Lucky and Marge (her two dogs), but to handle a similar devil dog in her neighborhood.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Saying Goodbye is So hard

Saying goodbye is hard so let's play FREEZE FRAME instead. Nana will take loads of goofy pictures and we can strike poses. Uncle Colin and his girlfriend, Anne, flew out to L.A. for a long weekend and Lottie just couldn't get enough of them. She had such fun and they were so good with her. We'll ALL miss them very much. HURRY BACK!!!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The trucks from Hollywood

The trucks from Hollywood
Originally uploaded by lililsley.

I always wondered where those trucks from Hollywood went. Now I know. My front yard. I also know what they're called...Q-beds. And I also know they'll fit through my gates which are so special (apparently) that they are in a book called "Gates of Topanga." As you can imagine, this is not a book of great appeal, except to the gate owners, and I'm one of them that doesn't have the book. Hey, if you have a copy or know anyone who has a copy, let me know.

It's All About the Cracker.

Here's the reason it all happened...these crackers traveled on an Air Italia flight from Italy with the director. He didn't want the bags to get crinkled or used looking. I'm pleased to say they traveled beautifully and besides the very nice fee they paid us for using our home, they left us with a few bags of Sfoglia di Grano.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Today It's all Calm and Peaceful, but Tuesday...Watch Out

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Barilla Pasta is going to shoot a commercial at our house on Tuesday. We've only ever done still shoots, but this is going to be a full-blown moving shoot with an Italian director, a producer, actors and electricians and grips and make-up people and best boys and...babies. Three babies, I'm told. I'm sure it will become obvious on Tuesday, but as of tonight, I don't have a clue why anyone shooting an advert about pasta would want to include three babies. I'm thinking that maybe Barilla makes products other than rusks. Apparently, a year or so ago a law was passed in Italy barring the use of children under the age of 14 in commercials. So, they're shooting an Italian advert in S. Topanga Canyon to be specific.