Wednesday, November 28, 2007


We got married 39 years ago at the Registry Office on Tavistock Hill, Hampstead (NW 3, London). I wore a filmy blue maternity frock I’d bought at Lady Madonna in Golder’s Green and Roger wore the suit he’d slept in the night before. Due to the drink he’d consumed at his bachelor party, his head ached and he felt a bit queasy. Due to the wee baby taking refuge in my uterus, I too felt a bit off. And because of our fuzzy heads, our shock at our upcoming parental status and the fact that we hardly knew one another (except of course in the biblical sense), the day was barely memorable. We have one photograph of the moment, taken by some stranger who would hang around the Registry Office and take pictures. As I remember it cost us 10 shillings; it was before decimilization. We both look tired and neither of us is smiling. We don’t look grim. just tired and a bit surprised. It was not a memorable day.

So yesterday when I was out looking for birthday cards for Roger down at Topanga Homegrown, I saw some anniversary cards and it struck me then that our 39th anniversary had been and gone, the day after our big party. And tonight when Roger arrived home after a long day in Ventura (where he’s working all week), we had a dinner worthy of 39 years, a wine even worthier and a cake I’d made to honor such a number of years. This year I remembered first. While there is no prize, whoever remembers the anniversary first garners a moment of glory.

Next year it’s 40 years and we’ve decided we must do something special, if we remember.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

On a Clear Day

Roger and I drove up the opposite ridge just to see. On one side, the hills fell away, undamaged and whole.

On the other side of the road the view was different. The sky was thick with the burn and planes made quick water drops and then turned back to the sea for refills.
DC-10's flew low and slow and dropped chemical fire retardant at the fire's edge

The flames and smoke reflected on the Pacific Ocean.

Do a raindance or seed the clouds or whatever mystery magic you can conjure. It's dry here, very dry.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Day After

Thanksgiving Day

The Menu:

A Diestel turkey: 16 and a bit pounds and roasted in our convection oven. As usual, since I'm not a comfortable convection cooker, I fretted and involved my husband in the angst. The bird was good, although the juices ran a little pink. So I just shoved any pink-tinged slices in the microwave till the color ran true. I nuked the stuffing, too, just in case.

Stuffing: It was good. I made some inside the bird and some outside the bird.

Mashed tatties: Yum. No way you can screw up a potato when you add cream and butter to it.

Mashed sweet potatoes with chipotles in adobo sauce: Spicy and fantastic. Recipe courtesy of Chef Bobby Flay. These are fantastic for grown-ups, not so much for kids.

Mashed sweet potatoes with marshmellows on top. Kids like these.

Okay, that pretty much takes care of the carb-heavy foods.

Fresh roma beans, french-cut, and not played with. These are so full of flavor it's criminal to do anything else with them besides serving hot.

Fresh peas cooked with fresh mint and then mixed with sauteed mushrooms, spring onions and fresh mint.

Brussells sprouts: Interesting recipe that involves an incredible amount of prep, including pulling every leaf you can from the sprout and then sauteeing them in a huge frying pan with the already prepared mirepoix (pancetta, onions, carrots) and finishing off with a little white balsamic vinegar. Delish.

Fantastic gravy.

Mama Stamberg's cranberry sauce. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving for us without this recipe.

And for dessert:

Pumpkin pie that my daughter made from scratch: EXCELLENT

Raspberry and Apple Crumble that my daughter's sister-in-law Julie made: EXCELLENT

The guest list:

My daughter, Jane and her husband Matt and two daughters: Charlotte (6 yrs) and Sophie(22 months)

Matt's brother, Jeff and his wife Julie and daughter Jordan (19 months)

Roger and me.

So not too many of us, but a little lively, due to the little ones.

And then today:

There were those very same folks as above, but also another five folks for lunch. What did we have:

A HUGE arrugula, avocado, cilantro and sweet onion salad with fresh lemon/olive oil dressing
and leftover turkey with great hunks of baguettes

And then more of the desserts.

The reason why I took no pictures of the meal. They just couldn't stop dancing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Just Saying...

Yesterday I decided to go to Ikea because I didn't want to go get my annual lobotomy. What other excuse would work because quite honestly, no one in her right mind would choose to go there (65 mile round trip) a couple of days before Thanksgiving in L.A. Talking to two friends, Kathy in DC and Betsy in Monte Nido helped enormously. But still, it made no sense. I needed oh, nothing pressing and something only vaguely specific...maybe a bookcase for the little bedroom...the one my granddaughters use and the one in which kids' books are piled haphazardly onto every spare surface. Maybe a garlic press! Yes, a garlic press. I will drive 30 miles in crazy traffic for a garlic press. Oh, and maybe some light bulbs for that lamp in the hallway. The one that will accept no bulbs except for bulbs from Ikea, but wait, I forgot to take a sample bulb with me and mon mari wasn't at home to feed me the right info and of course they no longer sell that particular lamp and oh, maybe a door mat that will hopefully be thin enough to allow the inward swinging door to smoothly glide over it and, wait, what's this? It looks like a little wooden doll's bed, with bedding and I think (I pray) that Molly or Emily will fit on it, thus assuring them a decent night's sleep.

So I did all that Lost- in-Ikea crazy shopping and when I was almost home decided to pop into the grocery store. That's when I discovered I was missing something important. Yeah, my wallet. I drove home cursing myself roundly. Try calling the Big Blue and Yellow and getting a real person in under 15 minutes. Go on, I dare you. Then try getting a real person whose answer to your hysteria is, "Um, I'd just call and cancel all your credit cards as a precaution." Then try telling your husband that you don't know where your fucking wallet is because you fucking lost it in a calm voice. We went back and forth, phone calls, tears, and then guess who called? No, not Ikea. It was Triple A. Ikea called them since my AAA card said if lost or stolen please call and they'd already LOST MY FLIPPIN' number that I'd given them 45 minutes ago (as in if you find my wallet please please please call me right away)... and they called me. AAA. Even though I'm two weeks late on my renewal. Wow. I'm going to upgrade.

And so I found myself in the car again, this time a lot closer to rush hour. And something just struck me as very odd. And it had to do with a particularly English speech (searching for a word that is unoffensive since I don't want to use defect) pattern...there...pattern. That's not offensive. Here's what I heard:

Radio Host: And how long is it, Mr. Wawwington (Warrington) that you have been intuhwested (interested) in this subject?

Mr. Wawwington: Welw Awice (well, alice) I'm sure you're aware that I gwew (grew) up in Edinbuhwah (Edinburgh). (small chuckle)

Radio Host: Absowutely, Mr. Wawwington. I don't suspect our audience knows that we're owed (old) fwiends.

I found myself listening with fascinated disbelief and thought to myself. There's nothing wrong with talking like that, but only in Bwitain would one actually get a job in broadcasting with that speech 'pattern.'

And then today, again on NPR, I was listening to an interview with the wonderful chap who wrote The Man Who Misstook his Wife for a Hat and guess what...he talks like that too!

Just saying...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Haven't We Had Enough?

Courtesy of Ms. Huffington

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oblidi Oblida

We first met when his mother, a teacher of mine, enrolled her ex-reform school (borstal for my abroadie buds) son in my suburban Washington, DC high school and we became fast friends. He was smart, athletic, involved in H.S. theatre and best of all, kind of edgy. We never dated but were extremely close and loyal friends and while we kept tabs on one another in those years just after school, we had lost touch by the time we were in our mid 20s and I was back in England. He stuck with his acting and when I last saw him, in the early 70s, he was on his way to Australia with a touring company of Hair which I always found interesting since he never had that much on his head. I remember him looking at me like I was a complete dolt when I said something like, "You? Hair? Really?" He probably said, "Fuck you, too. I'll wear a wig you moron." Not long after that he took off.

But back to high school. One little story of our friendship.

Picture a huge suburan high school; too big even to have a freshman class. Too big to have any architectural style, it was thrown together quickly in the early 60s and by the time we graduated in '66, even more schools had been built in the area. There were just too damned many of us; just like today. We started as sophomores and there were over 800 in our graduating class. Baby BOOM action. Just trying to shift feed this enormous number of starving kids was a logistic problem that was only solved by having the youngest students eat lunch at 10:30 AM, next group at 10:55 and so on, until we worldy seniors were allowed in, so hungry we could eat our arms, at 11:55. Jon, for some inexplicable reason given his shady past, was a hall monitor. On most days, his particular duty entailed sitting outside the door of the lunchroom in his letter jacket, chair tipped dangerously back and explaining to anyone who wanted to leave that they couldn't (until 12:25) unless it was a, you know, bathroom emergency and then he gave you a hall pass. And that's where he was that day as I headed out of the lunchroom on my way to the girls' room, tears welling in my eyes and mashed potato encrusted peas in my hair.

I remember him looking at me and then sitting up quickly, his folding chair clanging to the floor. He wanted to know what happened...everything, no matter how stupid it sounded. And to start with, why the hell did I have food in my hair. I started the story somewhere in the middle, but he wanted still more background. Why would they do that, Linda, why? I said something like, "You think I threw food first? Are you nuts?" In that massive lunchroom, everyone had a table, unassigned but common knowledge that it was their's and thinking back, it seemed that most tables were given the name of the most dominant personality or what they were involved in. Athletes sat at the jocks' tables, thespians sat at the actors' tables, etc. Although I wasn't involved in high school theatre, I sat with the thespians, an honorary member due to my routine histrionics about everything, no doubt. So my tormenters were all sitting at Sammy's table. Sammy Carbonera's table. Why would Carbonera's friends throw food at me Jon repeatedly asked. Where was Sammy when this was happening? And at first I had no answers. While Sammy was sort of a hood, he had never been anything but super polite to me and while there had been some rumor a few weeks before that he was going to ask me to the Winter Wonderland Dance and I can remember being completely shocked that he would even think of asking me, arrogant little heifer that I was. Anyway, as I was giving Jonny the background, it dawned on me that his friends were lobbing food at my table because somehow (my gabbing no doubt) word had gotten back to them about my bitchy reaction to the idea that Sammy would invite me out. To this day, I feel badly that I had hurt a perfectly nice kid's feelings. But to Jon, rejection was no excuse for throwing food at a girl.

I knew that Jon was a loose cannon and that the athletes and hoods alike gave him a wide berth. Nobody messed with him. He was nice, but there was a side of him that was different. Even to me it seemed that this was a guy who had been itching for a good fight for the three years he'd been at my school. The predictability and safety of suburban living was making him squirrely... something I'd noticed whenever we'd gone out as a big group. Strangers (kids from other schools) might look our way and he always had that "You lookin' at me? What the hell are you lookin' at? Stop lookin' at her or I'll beat you up," ready to rumble look about him. We all felt pretty safe when Jon was with us.

Jon threw his jacket on the ground and quickly made his way into the lunchroom, fists clenched at his side. I was half running behind him, yammering on about it really wasn't a big deal and c'mon Jon, stop, you don't need to do anything. He never once turned around, but kept going, his eyes on the target table. The three miscreants were still there, two of them on one side, not facing us and one whose eyes definitely widened as Jon approached. He knocked that kid off his chair in one swipe, leaned across the table and with a fork he grabbed on the tray, stuck it under one kid's chin while bunching the kids shirt in other fist. Slight pressures from the fork forced the boy up to a standing position. Jon only said, "Did you throw food at her?" nodding towards me. I was crying and asking him to stop and every kid in the cafeteria was by this time crowding around the action and yelling and whistling and screaming "Fight, fight, fight. " The boy nodded his head to the affirmative and as he went to say something, Jon punched him once and then in one fluid movement upended the table spilling the trays of leftover food and milk all over the two kids.

And then there was silence. Mr. Ward, the vice-principal made his way towards us. Within five minutes Jon was in his office, I was in another office and the three food tossers were separated and in guidance counselor's offices. Upshot: Jon was suspended for three days, the tossers were out for two days and for inciting a near riot, I was out for one day. My mother and I appealed and it was reduced to a half-day sentence. Bastards.

After not hearing from him for decades, he'd called me six years ago when I had some health challenges. Then when we moved out west, our friendship was revived. Every now and then I'd see him on TV shows or movies and was glad he'd been able to do what he wanted. But some things don't change. We had a party last Saturday night and seventy people came, including Jon and his beautiful (much younger but not so young that you feel uncomfortable) wife. My husband recounted an exchange that occurred when he introduced Jon to a neighbor of ours. The neighbor asked Jon what he did and when Jon replied that he was an actor, this neighbor rudely said, "Dime a dozen." Jon replied (according to my husband who never exaggerates or lies), "Well, I'm not really an actor, I'm a boxer and I'm going to punch your fucking lights out." The neighbor looked suitably shocked and then Jon smoothly said, "No, no, I'm Jon _______, pleased to meet you." And the moment was quickly over, the neighbor sidled away and Jon grinned.

Later that evening I overheard him asking some friends if I'd ever told them the story of how he beat someone up, coming to my defense.

Oblidi oblida...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

This Little Piggy Went WAH WAH WAH WAH all the way home

Roger was in Ventura yesterday so I did what I do when he's gone. I replaced the broken CD player, wired the speakers, hauled the speakers up a stepladder and plonked them high up on the bookshelves so they won't sit on the floor, moved the furniture off the rug onto the hardwood floor, moved the HEAVY glass topped coffee table onto the floor, grabbed the bigass rug and pad and oriented it opposite to the direction I always thought it would only work, then moved the couches back onto the rug and then tried to drag and push the coffee table back into place only to drop it on my big toe which it then, somehow, pulled the nail halfway off while simultaneously gouging it deeply underneath.

How did your day go?