Monday, August 17, 2015

Happily housebound

It was a scorching hot weekend in the South Bay, and anyone with any sense was at the beach, watching volleyball tournaments, surfing, or enjoying the beach concerts.

Alas, not us. Excursions were strictly limited to Best Buy, IKEA and Triangle Hardware. We did manage a quick yomp down to the pier for a coffee and Lady P's requisite 15 minutes of sand play. But other than that we were all about the house.

On Saturday TLOML installed SONOS while I hung curtains. And on Sunday he wall-mounted the TV and strung up lights on the deck while I reorganized the cupboards in in the garage.
Cupboard categories include 'replenish kitchen sink', 'laundry',' specialist cleaning' 'lightbulbs' and, of course, 'BBQ and car stuff' (aka 'I don't know what this is').

One could argue that it wasn't strictly necessary for me to take everything out of those cupboards and put it back in in a slightly different order. But I needed something to do while TLOML took care of A/V and Lady P napped. And I'd already baked cookies.

One could also argue that Hermosa Beach does not need any more overhead power lines, or indeed, overhead cables of any kind. But we wanted to enhance the ambience on our deck. So we went ahead and mounted strings of lights, and now we love it out there even more. It reminds us of being in a relaxed, friendly, possibly slightly cockamamie bar, in a busy beach town somewhere hot. Surely the ideal vibe.

Despite being housebound we weren't complete hermits. We hosted our first proper dinner in the house, for our dear Manhattan Beach friends. Our old neighbours (the friendship survives!) swung by, and we had some sunset drinks and snacks on the deck with other friends. And at the end of it all, although we looked enviously at other people's beach pics on Facebook, we sat on the deck, under our pretty lights, and toasted with a gin and tonic to the completion of our house move.

Yes, that's really it. All new home improvement projects are officially done. Anything that is left falls strictly under the 'everyday maintenance' category, or stuff we'll do it when we get round to it. I suppose we'll have to wait for the next not-hot, not-beachy weekend to tackle those. That could be a while. Meanwhile, we can relax, and enjoy the house (and the beach).

Monday, August 10, 2015

An education

Lady P's formal education has begun. Two days a week, for now, she is attending a local pre school. More specifically, the Aloha Summer Camp at our local Montessori.

The timing was rotten, with her first two weeks straddling the weekend we moved house. But apart from a torrent of tears on the morning of day one, she has taken to it like a duck to water. Or, like a sociable, smart little girl to a friendly, interesting environment.

We found it rather more difficult. The preparation was tough: I had to pack a disaster kit, in the event of an earthquake I suppose, which made my stomach lurch. 
Processed food, a flannel and a Night Garden book. Sob.
And dropping her off the first couple of times was not easy. 'What is she saying to that teacher?' I wondered, and briefly considered grabbing her, taking her home and watching her closely all day.

I restrained myself. She is having a great time, and far be it for me to interfere with that. She runs into the classroom in the morning shouting 'Good morning!', announces 'I want to sit here and do this', and then does exactly that. From what I see there's a lot of moving small objects from one receptacle to another by various means. The fabric flowers to be transported with a dustpan and brush. The ice-cream scoop and the orange balls. The little silver jug full of coloured rocks. They know just how to entertain a 2-and-a-half year old, those Montessori peddlers.

TLOML and I are delighted she's having a good time. Over the coming weeks we will, sadly, say goodbye to our wonderful nanny and usher in a full time education for Lady P.

But perhaps 'education' is too strong a word. I share below the recipe for coconut juice, proudly advertised as their Hawaiian cooking class. Perhaps I should have managed my expectations for what a 2-3 year old can cook. Still, juice?!

 This is from a worksheet of Hawaiian numbers she brought home. I diligently went through them with her, pointing with my fingers as I counted 'one... two.. Elua, two'.
Then I got to this one. The picture for ten. It has twelve creatures on it. Sloppy work, Montessori!

Again, I guess I need to lower my expectations. Lady P is, after all, there to play and have fun. Thank goodness, as I'm not sure the academic program will be winning any prizes.

Friday, August 7, 2015

What a difference a lick of paint makes

We’ve been busy moving house this past week. It was our shortest move ever – just ¾ mile down the road from the much loved Sugar Cube into our shiny, new house. Shiny and new because we had a little cosmetic work done before we moved in.

We just refinished the floors, and had the whole place repainted. so it really was only cosmetic, but what a difference it made to the way the house looks and feels. Most of all, we made it our own.

We flipped the dark kitchen and dining room into something altogether lighter, brighter, and vaguely Skandi looking. With the bonus of American appliances, natch. Oh, and my upcycled table of course. 

Someone else's dining room

Someone else's kitchen

Our kitchen/ diner

We turned the 1980s law library into a cheery workspace befitting a SoCal beach lover and his Brit bookworm.

Someone else's home office


And in Lady P’s room we created a sunny homage to the Sugar Cube, complete with a scaled down front door.
Lady P's 'little house'
The Sugar Cube, seen through palms
We painted pretty much every inch of the rest of the house white, which makes it feel clean and fresh and new. And ours.

We do miss our rambling back garden but are consoled by sunset drinks on the deck. Lady P has done some naked sliding into the paddling pool on the astro turf, and planted some chard seeds, so I feel that she isn’t too badly off either.

One week in and we are almost unpacked. We are still waiting for our new king mattress to arrive so we can move into the mater, and we have the small matter of 40 pieces of art to hang, but other than that I’d say we’re home. And this time, it’s for the long term. It’s a very very nice feeling.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The town house and the country house

Although we are moving less than a mile away, it does rather feel like we are moving from the country to the city.

Part of that is, of course, the location. The Sugar Cube sits on a cul-de-sac which terminates at the back of a school playground and a wood chip path which leads over the hill to the beach. Kids play out on our street all the time, skateboarding, bare foot, and just assuming the occasional car will give way. Which, of course, they do.

The property itself is pretty rustic too. The Sugar Cube is about 1500 square foot of house on a 9000 square foot lot. We have a large, rambling, somewhat chaotic garden. There are lemon trees, a grape vines, and we grow peas and strawberries and chard, as well as lots of herbs. Lady P has spent many happy hours making mud soup, chomping on freshly picked peas, and getting dirt under her fingernails. We hear woodpeckers and raccoons, and we smell the occasional skunk.

'I'm cooking, Mummy!'

Corn, peppers, peas and a lot of rubble

By contrast the new house (still working on a name) is on a relatively busy through-street in a part of Hermosa where there is a lot less space between houses. It's a 2300 square foot home on a 2600 square foot lot. Meaning that there isn't a lot of room for rambling, rustic gardening. Instead, we have a small astro-turfed patch which will be a good place for Lady P to ride her Cosi Coup in, but will be rather short on mud soup making opportunities.
Hanging out in the new yard
This makes me a little sad. But it seems Lady P is not going to be entirely bereft in her new urban dwelling.

After all, our new walk to downtown Hermosa is a half mile stroll along a nice wide stretch of woodchip. Last time we did it, it took about thirty minutes because Lady P was so entranced with the pine cones, rocks, trees to 'climb' and sticks along the way. I guess it felt like a wild adventure to her. Which is good enough for me.
And the other day I saw a raccoon on the house two doors up from our new house. It was trying to climb onto the overhead power cables (it's a Hermosa thing...) and I was oddly comforted. I guess country critters thrive in the urban density of 8th and Ardmore just as happily as they do in leafy Hermosa Valley.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The road to a friend's house is never long (especially when they live next door)

Friendships don't manifest overnight. It takes time.

The best friends, surely, are the ones who've known us the longest - and are still around to tell the tale. The friends who were there when you were experimenting with personalities, booze, style statements and so on. The friends you've had dinner with in more than one decade, and at dozens of different tables. The friends who've seen you through some of life's milestones: first job, first home, breakups, weddings and christenings. These are the friends you don't need to explain yourself to. The ones with whom you can dive straight into the middle of a conversation, drop by at a moment's notice, and unburden yourself of all the worries you're still withholding from newer, less well established friends.

Proximity can speed the friendship process up. That's how come we end up so close to our desk neighbours at work, even if we have nothing in common with them. Because spending forty hours a week next to someone forces a sort of intimacy. Maybe that's why those college friendships are so enduring: not just the rites of passage you go through together, but the fact you live in each other's pockets for three years or so. Some of those friendships endure. Others, it turns out, were purely based on proximity and fade when you move on.

TLOML and I rapidly became good friends with our next door neighbours. It's the kind of friendship where it's okay to suggest a whisky at 9pm on a Wednesday night and schlep over in yoga pants. Where last minute dinners are jointly, casually catered. And where we unburden ourselves of minor irritations and major stresses as if we've known each other for years. Yet we've only known each other for 18 months.

We've fast-forwarded the friendship process and I think its because - as well as being like minded - we live right next door. We bump into each other all the time and getting together is as easy as can be. We don't even need to put shoes on in order to hang out with each other.

So the big question is: will this new, valuable friendship survive when we live all of 3/4 mile away? Watch this space.