Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sophie's First Christmas

Sophie's first Christmas was spent chasing her around until that magical hour, 6 PM, her bedtime. We tagteamed. Whoever wasn't doing vegetable prep, dishes, table setting, helping Lottie by changing Molly or her English friend, Emily, or sitting in an exhausted heap in a corner somewhere, was on Sophie duty. Eleven months old, almost 17 pounds, and walking since she was nine months, this baby is one for the books. Even she embraces her crib at 6 PM, completely exhausted. The tough thing is for all the adults in her orbit not to follow suit. She already knows how to ride her new trike. Did I mention she's been walking for a while? Did I mention she's only 11 months or that she DOES NOT STOP?

Somehow, dinner came together miraculously well and was served within minutes of Sophie's bedtime. At one point there were four of us in my daughter's kitchen. One mashing potatoes, one carving the boneless rib roast, one making gravy and one making a horseradish/mustard sauce and snipping a parsley garnish for the roasted root vegetables. Here's what we had.

An almost seven pound boneless rib roast
RBG (rich, brown gravy)
Mashed potatoes (butter, cream, uh huh)
Roasted root vegetables (butternut squash, sweet potato, parsnips and carrots)
Fresh green beans
Individual Yorkshire puddings
Horseradish sauce (Jane's recipe) and hot English mustard

Then Christmas pudding and mince pies and cream and custard

Last year's Christmas we stayed awake and at Jane's until midnight, playing Trivial Pursuit and distracting her from her nine-months-full of pregnancy. And then there was Sophie and it was Christmas '06 and we all were ready for bed at 9 PM.

Lottie made it to 8 and then she just needed her bed and she needed it now. Of course, Molly and Emily had to be wrestled into their pajamas (there's a reason these dolls are recommended for girls 8+ and it has everything to do with wrangling their limbs into their wee little shoes and frilly socks and party frocks). Before bed, though, Uncle Colin and Lottie took some time with the fabulous MOMA pop-up book from Aunt Anne.

Did I mention how good it feels to have our son, Colin, in town?
Just in case you thought it was some ordinary pop-up book, this book is somewhat like getting an original Calder for Xmas, but instead of these fabulous hanging mobiles they're securely and mysteriously mounted and tucked into the folds of a book. Within each pop-up, there is a hidden two. It is fabulous.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Back Where It's Supposed to Be

It seemed somewhat appropriate that one of my favorite bloggers wouldn't be able to meet me for coffee on Friday morning due to her very own refrigerator issues. Because on that day while she was trying to figure out the fix it/get a new one riddle, we were finally able to get our July new fridge finally shoved back into where it belonged.

Our saga began in the hot mid-summer when the temperatures hovered at over 100 degrees day after day and when I noticed the softening innards of my freezer. It's not exactly riveting reading, but it consumed my thoughts for many, many days. The old refrigerator was hauled out, carefully measured by Himself (an engineer so he knows how to measure) and double-checked by me (because I'm like that) and it was determined, after visiting multiple appliance stores, that we had a great kitchen with a stupid, dumb little space for a fridge. We could only buy another puny little fridge which we did. The next day it was delivered. Same measurements as the old one, but guess what? It didn't fit. Then the identical fridge to the old dead one was delivered, exact same measurements and this time the same style, but, you know the drill, it too didn't fit. New fridges bulge on the sides...just a tiny bit, but that 1/4" bulge is critical to some folks (ahem). But that didn't stop me from insisting that the delivery guys shove it in as far as it would go, Needless to say Roger was out of town because, I assure you, he never would have encouraged delivery people to lay on the floor and shove with their feet to get the bottom part of the fridge wedged in and with their shoulders to shimmy it in as tightly as it would go. But, I asked them to do that and they obliged. It didn't fit. And it stuck out a good five inches or so and we didn't get used to it and I remained profoundly embarrassed that I'd asked these guys to do such a stupid thing. I also was profoundly thankful to my husband for not glaring at me every time he opened it. Oh, did I mention it was tilted backwards? That if you opened the door, and didn't hang onto it, it would either slam shut (hard) or fly open (hard) into the glass cupboard door next to it. We got used to holding onto it. The picture below shows the cabinet guys getting ready to take the doors and shelves out of the cabinets so they can do their very expensive refit. The cabinets had to be moved to get the fridge out of the hole I'd had it shoved into. They had to completely rework where the cabinets hung and thank the powers that spacers had been used and there was room to rework them.

And then, finally, after five hours of wonderfully exacting sawing and pounding and measuring, it was in.

What's missing, if you look closely, are all the flippin' dishes and liquor bottles and crap that hangs out in these cabinets. They were all over the kitchen, covering every available surface.

It's all back together now and no longer looks like this.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Kollikting hid-sits and Other Linguistic Travel Mysteries

Traveling to, say, Italy, where all you know is ciao and buena sera and prego and spaghetti is guaranteed to produce awkward moments, but it truly never occurred to me that New Zealand English might be a bit tough on the ears or the brain. On our outward bound flight on Air New Zealand such cringe times happened when we challenged the flight attendants on a couple of issues...like, um, I don't think these are the seats we were pre-assigned and can I have some ice with that but, other than that, we seemed to be able to communicate comfortably, if not a bit testily. I couldn't help but wonder who designed their uniforms, though. They all looked a bit Third Reich(y) and very strict...no-nonsense uniforms for a no-nonsense crew.

The accent of the flight crew sounded, to my untrained ear, vaguely South African. I suppose I thought they'd lean more to the Australian "Seednie Harbour Breedge" (Sydney Harbour Bridge) English than the clipped South African accent my ear was hearing. I knew I was having trouble with comprehension, though, when this announcement came over the P.A. System shortly before landing: "Ladies and Gintlemin, a flight attindint will walk through shortly to kollikt your hidsits." I whipped my head around and stared vacantly at Roger who translated for me.

Within two hours, I had it almost down pat:

A pen is something you fry eggs in and is spelled P-A-N

A pin is a writing implement filled with ink and spelled P-E-N

A peer is not a peer of the realm but rather two of something and is spelled P-A-I-R

A pun can be either a safety-pun or a straight-pun but is spilled (oops, make that spelled) P-I-N

And very importantly it's fush and chups instead of fish and chips but it really sounded more like f'sh and ch'ps and it always pretty much tasted FABULOUS.

But the one hardest on the ear (to me) was the simple YIS (yes). After a week in New Zealand, though, I could pretty much be heard answering YIS to any question that asked if I wanted chups with that.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Merge Like a Zipper

First indication I had that New Zealand wasn't exactly the land of super highways (a good thing) was the big sign on the motorway that runs through the center of Auckland urging me to "Merge Like a Zipper." I was so busy contemplating that sign and how it would look on my blog and where the hell was my camera so I could get a good picture of it for said blog that I missed the little sign that told me to get in the right hand lane (the fast lane...remember, I'm a'drivin' on the left) immediately because that's the only road going NORTH out of Auckland. The only time we encountered real traffic in NZ was at this point, thus preventing rightward movement. We missed the exit and decided to get off the motorway FAST so we could get properly lost and also to ensure that our snide barbs to one another could be hurled at 56.327040 km/hr (30 mph) as opposed to 100 k/h (max speed anywhere in New Zealand is 100km/hr...62.1371192237334 mph).

Take this tip - merge like a zip

The best way to merge is 'one on one' - like a zip, the sign told us. I wonder what ad agency thought up this brilliant campaign. They were so taken with it, that they also provided this handy illustration on their website...wow. Now I'll never forget.

We stopped somewhere near the university in Auckland in a no parking buses only spot in order to allow even more people to spew a little venom at me. "Sorry," I mouthed through the window. "Car broke down," I lied. Roger ran off to get directions and I started rummaging around the car looking for my camera (left in the boot, damn). After a few confused turns and screams of KEEP LEFT for chrissakes (polite internet version), we were back on the motorway meandering along at 100 klicks (our endearing little way of saying kilometers per hour). If you've ever driven on the Autobahn, the M4 or, say, the 101 in L.A., this strict 100 klicks business is beyond frustrating. For a start, you feel like you're taking baby steps forward. You can identify the license plates on approaching cars...you're going that slowly. Secondly, there's very little flippin' traffic and it's going even SLOWER than the 100 klicks. But thirdly, and to my mind most frustrating, was this little DING DING DING that went off in our rental car every time we went more than 110 km/hr. The first, second and third time it DINGED at us we had no idea what was happening and assumed we were out of oil and ready to break down. By the fourth time we were telling it to shut the f up. It never obliged and we eventually figured out that speed kills. Or was it the sign that told us that. Oh yeah, it was the sign.

Prepared to speed? Be prepared to kill.

But they're not just dealing with road issues in NZ. There's the little problem of the sheep not drinking enough tea and global warming. Think I'm kidding? Read on...

New Zealand Tries to Cap Gaseous Sheep Burps
And if you're interested...you can read all about it right here.

There was a obviously a lot to learn about this beautiful and very green country and we thought we were up to the task.

to be cont.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Oh the weather outside is...

Driving home from my daughter's last night I noted as I wound past Cheese Rocks (they are too called that) that the temperature was 35 F. "Coldest place in the Canyon," or so we were told by our pool 'boy' Kiefer (rhymes with reefer), who's in his early 70s and has lived here forever. By the time I crept a little higher up the mountain, the air temp was 41. I've been sitting in front of a roaring fire all morning, my feet like two iceblocks, trying to finish up some work so I can head over to Costco for reasons that have escaped me for now. Where is that damned list?

Looking over the top of my monitor and out the window I noticed that some of my clay pots were hosting very droopy and sad looking green things. SFD (it's my triumvirate curse only used when I'm cross with myself). I knew I should have covered those plants to avoid frost damage. I screwed up my courage to check out the citrus trees.

Um, they're fine cos outside my house it's a sunny 72 degrees. Gotta go, my plants need watering.