Monday, September 20, 2010

Big mean girls

You know how when you're little and a girl's mean to you, your parents tell you all sorts of reassuring reasons why: 'She's insecure; she's just jealous; she's threatened by you, etc., etc.' And you try to take comfort in this, though it's hard to fathom why a cheerleader would feel threatened by a girl who wore her pants up to her armpits and had glasses so thick her eyes nearly disappeared behind them. But okay, if it's due to jealousy, then...maybe she wishes she too could read in the corner of the playground during recess and had arms so long that she didn't know where to put them.

But at this age when a girl isn't nice, it's different. Meanness takes on different shades of gray as an adult, and like a star, it can be difficult to see when you look directly at it. It isn't as straightforward as when you're young, when it's simply, 'Get off my monkey bars.'

There's one such girl here in London, part of a book club that I used to go to. Her mean is sly, the sort of thing where if you tried to describe it to someone, you'd come off sounding paranoid and crazy. For example, we'll be in the middle of a conversation when a mutual friend will come up to join us. Instantly she'll turn to them, cooing wildly and affectionately and asking them all about their day, putting her back to me and leaving me alone with my unfinished story: ' thought the play sounded...interesting...' She also likes to exchange looks with other people while I'm talking, like, 'Are you HEARING this?' And just last week, I was telling her about an episode in which I couldn't get on the bus because I didn't have enough fare, so I joked that I 'shed a little tear then decided to top up.' She responds with (after exchanging a glance with someone): 'You CRIED?!' 'Um, no. I was kidding.' (Another exchange.)

See what I mean? I sound nuts. And the worst part is, she's absolutely the most wonderful person with everybody else; she's adored and adorable, spirited and fun. Everybody is constantly exclaiming about what a joy she is. So it's not like I can say anything to anybody without coming off like a complete loon.

Alas, we're thrown together often enough, I've just got to deal with it. And heck, maybe I AM just being paranoid, and I should give her the benefit of the doubt...we can all be rude if we aren't paying close enough attention...

Though I AM pretty good at the monkey bars.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A starlet, a pizza, a crazy London sky

Happy Saturday, ya'll. I don't know what you have planned today, but mine has been nice and quiet--a skillet burrito for breakfast, a small errand to make me feel productive, and a day spent with my book and laptop. Just the way I like my Saturdays, really. I'm going to make a potato and thyme pizza for dinner; I hope it goes well. I'm trying to use up a bunch of nearly-done produce in one go--tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes, peppers--and what better way than throwing everything onto a pizza? It's either that or a quiche, right? I don't have mozzarella cheese, though, just gruyere. I know that could really mean pizza FAIL, but I'm going for it. Unless of course somebody leaves a comment in the next hour saying 'WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T USE GRUYERE! GO GET THE MOZZARELLA!' But man, that would mean I have to run another small errand, and that's not what Saturdays are about.

I've got another picture of my niece for you. I can't stop loving her face. Whenever I see her I have to take four thousand photos and she always humors me for the first two thousand and then the hand starts to flappin'. In her defense, I do get right up in there, and I * can * go for hours. Peypey, my other little niece, has equally-lovely leanings, but her two-year-old-perpetual-movement means I rarely get a usable photo. I get a pigtail, or a heel. This is why if you were to look through my photo archives, you'd see about a 6-to-1 Hunter : Peyton ratio. I don't mind, though; I'm sure once Peyton gets to an age at which I can tie her up, we'll even it out.

But Peyton--should you ever read this blog in the future--let it be said--from one second child to another--that there aren't fewer pictures of you because you're number two; there are fewer pictures of you because you're FAST. Unlike me, so wholly underappreciated... 
* dramatic sigh for my therapist *

Oops, still here. Forgive. 

My niece, with a flourish:

I KNOW. Like my sister, gone Hollywood.

Peypey stood still only this long because her sister was doing some sort of acrobatics on the swing set behind me. Then she was off to try her sister's tricks herself, despite her diminutive size. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see her become a cheerleader in a few years...

Now that I think about it, they're both like my sister.

And on another note, look at how my apple and red chili jelly from last week turned out! Isn't it beautiful??

Thank you, Marie, for the best recipe ever! It's ridiculously tasty. And so versatile! It can be thrown in with pork for a sweet/spicy kick, dolloped over a log of goat cheese as a snack or appetizer, smeared onto a slab of crusty bread--or let's be honest, just eaten by the spoonful...

Speaking of goat's cheese--I'm reminded of a funny conversation I had with my SF-roommate, a professional chef (and discovered hater of goat's cheese). A friend had emailed looking for goat cheese recipes, and forgetting my roommate's aversion to the monster, I went to her for ideas:

Me: Hey! What would you do if you had a bunch of goat's cheese?
Sara: Throw it in the TRASH because it tastes like GARBAGE.

I nearly cried from laughing. I always hear her voice in my head when I shop for goat's cheese now: 'Throw that in the TRASH, because it tastes like GARBAGE.' It's just too GOOD!

Speaking of too good, check out the identity crisis London suffers every day: neither sunny nor cloudy, just dramatically poised in between.

I must be off now, big hugs!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

On making jelly, blind dates, and my favorite nieces

I have wonderful salt and pepper shakers*.  I got them years ago at the SFMOMA store as a thank you gift for a graphic designer who had helped me out with a project. I ended up keeping them when he tried to receive payment by calling me 'honey' and 'sugar' and asking what we should name our firstborn. I decided to thank him with a card in the mail. And now I've got these wonderful shakers, bobbing happily away in front of me. * sigh * * affectionate nudge to my salt *

Question: is £60 too much for a watch repair? The cobbler/keymaker/watch-repairman said he will have to take the whole thing apart and put it back together, hence the price. Does this sound right/normal? And why do I have the sneaking suspicion that my mechanically-brilliant grandfather could've fixed it in five and a half seconds if I had thought to show it to him when I was home last?

I'm currently making apple and red chilli jelly! I made apple butter two days ago and have been loving it with English cheddar as my late-afternoon, I-can-make-it-to-dinner-without-chewing-off-my-arm snack, and I'm excited to try this apple jelly when it's finished. Right now the fruit is dripping torturously slow in a subtle attempt to test every single ounce of my patience. I can see why they say to leave it overnight, as to watch this thing all day is to court madness. And every website in the world on the topic of jelly-making says 'DON'T SQUEEZE THE JELLY BAG!' as part of the instructions, because apparently it will make my jelly 'cloudy' and 'destroy the human race' or something, but look at this and tell me it's not begging to be squeezed:

Just a little pinch?

But I'm holding it together. Now when I enter the kitchen and see it, I bite my fist and leave immediately. 

I'm meeting a possible new friend on Monday! It was orchestrated through a mutual friend in San Francisco. I had blind dates like this last time I was in London--the girl and I would be put in touch via a friend, make plans to meet for lunch, one of us in a blue peacoat, the other wearing a yellow flower so we'd recognize each other, then we'd sit at a table in a hip cafe, making conversation and hoping to hit it off since our mutual friends swore we would 'absolutely LOVE each other.' And sometimes it'd click and we'd make plans again, and sometimes it was just nice and we'd go through the motions of trying for another meet-up but after three cancellations each, things would naturally fade out. I have good reason to hope this one will be a good match: she takes lots of pictures and she's cute and she's been funny in our digital communication. This is pretty much all I require out of my friends; that and a little bit of madness.

Speaking of madness, look at my darling nieces! These pictures are from my last visit home:

On the left is Hunter, a voracious reader and a formidable opponent in Bananagrams. She also tells a LOT of interesting stories. You should see the monologues my sister gets on video. It would put any theatre major to shame.

On the right is Hunter's mischievous little sister, PeyPey. And yes, she's holding her shirt up for this photo. That's just the sort of girl she is.**

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to my Vancouver post.*** Until we meet again!

*And that's not a metaphor.
**Also, like her mother.

Monday, September 6, 2010

More on London life and what to do with a zillion apples

Vancouver is a tricky tranny hot mess and while I have the photos finished on it, I'm finding the text more difficult. How many ways can you say 'SUPER DUPER AWESOME' before you start getting repetitive?

Instead of blog posting, I've had much success in stalling by goofing around Picnik, doing a load of laundry and ironing, changing my fb photo, and running to the post office, where I purchased yet more pyschedelic stamps with the old queen's head that I will no doubt never use. 

In other news: I just discovered that Groupon's in London! Life as I know it is officially complete. Between that and my new subscription to Time Out, I am totally making life-as-a-local headway. I have worrying suspicions that I'm going to become one of those horrible rabid Yelpers while I'm at it, but I take comfort in the fact that Yelp is so new to London that it's not yet a ten-headed beast.

It's raining out. I have my kitchen light on in the middle of the afternoon because it's so dark. After a week of sun, this seems long overdue. And--could it be?--did I hear THUNDER? London, THAT is what I'm talking about.

Sidebar: do you ever go to the grocery store, load up on dinner fixings for the week, and then come home and order a pizza?

I just spent twenty minutes downloading an updated driver for my new wireless mouse (thank you, Grampa! I love it!) before finding out the reason my mouse wasn't working was because I was using it on a glass tabletop and it wanted a mouse pad. Awesome.

I just wrote a paragraph that didn't make sense (wrap your head around that), but not being willing nor able to hit the final 'delete' on it, I copied and pasted it into a document titled 'blog text,' where I keep miscellaneous notes and other such trash-can-text that I can't bear to part with. And while the document was open I saw a note that 'Navajo Indians add powdered milk to their Indian tacos while Plains Indians add powdered sugar.' 

Yeah. That's the sort of useful stuff I keep in there.

On that note, we should wrap up today's show. And because it wouldn't be my blog without pictures that don't relate to the text...more random London! Bottom right is the local butcher, dear sweet old Maurice, third generation owner of E. Wood.  Left of Maurice is a bushel of apples that I * personally * picked yesterday, making me pretty much the coolest girl I know. It also means that I'm in desperate need of apple uses--anybody have some good recipes or ideas?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My first post from London-side!

Okay, rather than tarry on any London postings because my road trip blogging is so grossly overdue, I have decided to ONWARD! this bad boy and do all my road trip postings on Moonpies. I'll just link to them here so you know when it's been updated. That's right--I'll be updating two blogs simultaneously. Says the girl who can barely keep up one. I am determined not to embarrass myself this time, though, and actually do it.


My first four days back in London have been an absolute whirlwind of catch-up shopping (foodstuffs and cleaning supplies, not clothing, I'm proud to point out) and getting my iPhone to work with a UK service provider. After proving that I'm a master hacker by jailbreaking and unlocking it from AT&T's Death Clench of Horror, I then went to O2 and got a local SIM. And get THIS: my plan is not only a fabulous pay-as-you-go service meaning no nasty sticky contracts with the Spawn of Satan but also  incredibly cheap. Guess how much my month's service is going to cost me. GUESS. Okay, I'll tell you. FIFTEEN POUNDS. That's right. FIFTEEN POUNDS, PEOPLE. That's TWENTY THREE U.S. DOLLARS. Do you know how much I was paying AT&T every month for the same service? While on a FAMILY plan? I don't even want to say it. It's just that grotesque.

Speaking of grotesque, how precious is London acting right now? Old ladies sweeping their gardens, bicycles with leather seats and wicker baskets, red doors and tassled's all a bit too much:

I've got to skidaddle now--I've got Seattle pics to work on * cough cough * and other such fun times.

Until luego!