Monday, January 30, 2006

I Suspected it Wasn't an Allergy Sneeze

My daughter and her husband have done some mighty fine manners work with Charlotte and the result is a little girl that adults enjoy being around. She's still young enough to need reminders, but just because a kid needs a reminder doesn't mean that all that "excuse me? don't forget to say thank you, are you forgetting something?" isn't taking (even though it often feels that way to the parent). Basic manners just make the business of life a little bit easier.

Basic Manners 101

The Simple Stuff for the Early Years

We seem to be overly concerned at how the question is framed, i.e., using May instead of Can, but any request is always softened and pretty much always acceptable when Please is used. Keep gently reminding your child until it becomes habit.

Thank You. Just use it and people will choose to do more for you because of your graciousness. Keep gently reminding your child until it becomes habit.

Eye Contact. When you're speaking to someone, look at them. You don't have to stare them down, but let them know it's a conversation. Keep gently reminding your child until it becomes habit.

Hello/Acknowledgement. Seems pretty obvious, but when someone walks into a room, remind your children to acknowledge their presence. They don't have to leap to their feet, shake hands and fawn over the new arrival, just a smile or a hello is sufficient. Keep gently reminding your child until it becomes habit.

If those simple behaviors are taught, many doors will open for your child.


Coughing and Sneezing.
Just cover your mouth. Keep gently reminding your child until it becomes habit.

Runny Nose. Use a Tissue. Sometimes you have to use your sleeve, but use a tissue when you can. Keep gently reminding your child until it becomes habit.

Hand Washing. Just do it. You will be a lot healthier for it. Keep gently reminding your child until it becomes habit.

How do you teach this stuff to strangers? You don't. And so when I walked through a shop assistant's cough a week ago, I said an out loud DAMN! and pretty much knew that I would come down with a miserable cold a few days later, and I did.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Unattended Children

Understand, please, that for the most part, I like little kids. Understand, also, that many of the parents of these very same young children just plain piss me off. And so, if I truly ruled this country (as I do per Caroline's blog) and I owned any kind of store then I would for certain carry out this threat ...

(Thanks, Marisa)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Winds

They're blowing...hard. Last night I slept with my bedroom door open in case firemen happened to pound on my door at three AM telling me to GET OUT GET OUT! They didn't, although brushfires are burning all around Los Angeles right now. Quite a few folks are without power and I'm knocking on planks that it doesn't happen up here. A power pole went down yesterday afternoon on Topanga and Fernwood Pacific but besides a few stutters, the electricity stayed on. Candles have been strategically placed and I'm ready. A little insurance when Himself is away always makes sense.

As I said, good friends Kim and Jenny are now back in the UK. Jenny trains dogs, or more specifically, she trains their owners and will eventually train dogs as assistance animals to the handicapped. As an animal lover, she really wanted to see some of the denizens of the coyotes or bobcats or [shudder] maybe a mountain lion or a rattlesnake. It being winter and all, I knew her chances of seeing any snakes were slim so I thoughtfully laid fake ones around the property, just for that frisson factor.

Last winter coyotes would regularly sit at the bottom of the drive waiting for us to go to bed before they headed this way for clean water and amusement. Our fountain bubbles underneath the carob trees and the water and choolattie carob pod flavors proved to be coyote crack. Every morning I'd shovel out their scat and look forward to the last pod dropping and the coyotes moving along to some other addiction. This year, those fickle animals showed no interest in the pods and I could only speculate that someone must have been feeding them straight chocolate elsewhere in the Canyon. So, it was with some amusement that when I wandered out to water the potted plants this morning, I almost tripped over some scat. Mere hours after K & J left, Roger and I had two separate coyote sightings...together, so Jen can know that I'm not lying for the benefit of a posting. Himself doesn't exaggerate or lie.

I have seen some big buggers, though. Lost, I expect. So, before lifting them with a spatula and depositing them back in the brush, here's a pic. More to follow...

The wind has stopped. I should have posted this before I went to spend time with my wee granddaughters. It's completely different now and I need to put my candles away since instead of looking prepared, I just look untidy now that it's calm again.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Christmas Cards from Pembrokeshire

Good friends from Pembrokeshire, K&J ( see K above) have just left us after playing chez nous for the last week. While the weather here in Topanga was a bit sunnier and warmer than at their rural digs in Wales, K didn't gambol about in the same state of undress as he did at home. Creation of their annual Christmas card is taken very seriously and so the early November snow presented the perfect opportunity. They're old, dear friends and we already miss them keenly.

Blog for Choice Day, January 22, 2006

It seems most fitting that in the month I celebrate the birth of my beautiful new granddaughter, I choose to also blog for choice, thanks to Grace Davis.

In the spring and summer of 1992, I became more involved (than just sending a check a couple of times a year) with the Pro-Choice movement in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the 80s and 90s, anti-choice fanatics targeted cities around America in an effort to close down clinics that provided, among other services, abortions. A strong supporter of Planned Parenthood and NARAL, I was asked to join a group of pro-choice activists at a clinic to provide a counter balance to anti-choice groups led by Matthew Trewhella and Randall Terry.

At the time of that phone call, I don't believe any of us realized just how familiar Matthew Trewhella of The Missionaries to the Preborn and Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, would become. In those early days of their Milwaukee assaults on the reproductive freedom of women, I got a taste of the nature of these men and what I saw frightened me. What I saw, while Mr. Terry pushed me hard against the door handle of a minivan in the parking lot of the clinic on Farwell Avenue, while screaming and spittle-flicking my face, made me determined to do all in my small power to stop these megalomaniacal men as best I could. The only words I have ever spoken directly to Terry were, and they are burned in my memory, "Get your fucking hands off me. If you honestly believe I can take any man seriously who's wearing a naugahyde three-quarter length, nasty belted coat, you are delusional." And so began my own personal year of insanity that included a court appearance for threatening language (case dismissed), a five morning a week (5 AM to 9 AM) stint as a clinic escort for NARAL that lasted five months and multiple appearances as a pro-choice supporter when I was asked to simply show up so the insane numbers of anti-choice fanatics who were bussed in from all over America wouldn't look quite as huge as they were.

And so, instead of rambling on about my own personal experiences I am going to leave you some links, all worthy of your time, and one small request. If you are pro-choice, become more active in the movement before you lose your right to choose. Always remember that being pro-choice only means that you believe in a woman's right to choose. It does not mean that you are personally in favor of or opposed to abortion. The good people at Planned Parenthood and NARAL can always use your help or your donation.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America


And here's a link to one man who is a true champion of women and their right to choose.

Dan McGuire

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sophie Bronwen Rose

Sophie because her Mummy has loved that name for years, Bronwen in honor of my husband's Welsh roots and Rose because that's what Lottie wanted. She wears each name just beautifully.

Tomorrow I'll meet Kim and Jenny, dear friends from Pembrokeshire, Wales, in Santa Barbara for lunch and then they'll follow me to Topanga.

More to follow. This dotty nana needs some sleep.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dear Sophie (at least that's what we think her name is)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Baking Cookies

Last night my husband had a bunch of his friends over to play poker so I headed over to my daughter's house to watch Charlotte so she and her husband could go out to dinner like two normal adults. Since Christmas is over and I've had more sugar in my diet in the last few weeks than I had previously thought possible (note to friends, family and self: DO NOT EVER GIVE ME CHOCOLATE BARK FROM WILLIAMS SONOMA AGAIN because it is so full of sugar that I feel forced to eat it all so as not to inflict its wicked properties on my loved ones), Lottie and I decided to bake SUGAR cookies and decorate them with more SUGAR. Because, hey, we love sugar and are not quite ready to say ciao to the festive season.

Lottie was dressed for slaving over a hot stove. She had on her leotard, tights, ballet slippers and a whisp of a tutu. I was wearing my "I can't believe it's January in Los Angeles" outfit which consists of sandals, cotton v-neck top, linen pants and fleece vest. The vest is for when the moon rises and I suddenly smack my head in wonderment, remembering it really IS January in the Northern Hemisphere and even it it was 80 degrees earlier on, it will soon be 50.

This child can show some restraint when decorating which impresses me mightily because stick a can of frosting and squirty icing and jimmies in my hands and I just go crazy throwing them over everything and lose patience immediately with the whole venture. She, on the other hand, created cookies with rainbows and happy faces and trees and stars and flowers. And she concentrated...hard...for a full 45 minutes while I washed cookie baking trays and counter tops and exclaimed over her artistic ability.

Lottie wants to grow her hair and it took me a full ten minutes of watching her hair flop over her eyes before I thought...aha... a barette! No brush, no comb, just pull back and clip. Miss L didn't lose a beat and continued her task of decorating the sugar and butter with more sugar.

It was a good evening and helped us take our minds off the impending birth of her little sister. We're all distracted and excited and well, did I mention excited! We can't wait to meet this little one!

Disclaimer: Jane is really quite beautiful but feels all swollen and splotchy and ready to have a baby. While she isn't a fan of this pic, I think it's fab.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Baby Watch

We're on Baby Watch. Grandbaby #2 is due any second and it's really difficult for me to concentrate on anything until this wee little girl introduces herself. Her Mommy and Daddy are quite ready, as well. Finding the wait hardest, though, is four-year old Charlotte. The last couple of days she's felt a little anxious. While she is more than ready to be a big sister, all this waiting is proving difficult. She tried to explain her anxieties to my daughter the other night. Lottie had watched an episode of "Martha and George" or maybe it's "George and Martha" a few days earlier. At some point George said that he just couldn't stop thinking about doughnuts. This was a sub-text in the know, how do you stop thinking about stuff that is just on your mind and bothering you. Obviously this baby business is on Lottie's mind. She turned to her Mom and said, "I can't stop thinking about doughnuts." Then she burst into tears. [sigh]

The Noble Tree

It's now sitting on the basketball court/dead tree limb/crap that fell out of the trees during the last storm and old Christmas tree dumping ground, but for a few weeks, it was a beauty.

Snow White's Interpretation of The Nutcracker

I LOVE this picture and if it doesn't melt your heart, stop reading my blog.