Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Travel Ailment That Dare Not Speak It's Name

I threatened promised a post on that most agonising of travel conditions. By process of er, elimination, you may want to skip this one if it doesn't affect you...there is too much information below on every level.

Oh how many vacations has this ailment ruined for me? Every one. I listen to people's stories of Turkey(insert the country) Trots and just feel envy. Anything would be better than this.

Remember this? Me hiking the Waikaromoana trail (NZ) at Christmas. Longdrop dunnies in the background

At some stage I always end up walking around looking six months pregnant and in agony and afraid to eat anything in case it makes it worse.  I've tried everything: fruit (makes it worse), oatmeal, not eating, weetabix, kiwi fruit. And of course the constipation tablets from the pharmacy that cause an apocolyptic situation.  Magnesium has some results. But the only thing that works for sure is: "A call from your mother." You read that right. And I've heard that advice from friends in NZ, US and Japan.

The only thing about  having this condition is the magical lessons you learn about life.

*There's always someone worse off than you:
I thought I was bad while traveling in Egypt, Jordan and Syria. (The bananas and pita bread were not a good combo for me ) It was days, then weeks and even my elasticised cotton trou were screaming with the pain. In the Wadi Rum, Jordan, I accidentally bumped into an acquantaince from university days. "It's been six weeks" she said (and she'd been to boarding school so was well used to communal bathrooms.) "Montezumas Revenge is looking like Nirvana right now."

*Everyone has a story:
When she first started dating her now husband, my friend went to stay with his family on the East Coast. Everyone was so excited she was coming that a couple of Aunts came to stay too. So there was six people staying in a tiny house with a teeny bathroom that was off the kitchen - and the bathroom also had the washer drier in it.
"As you can imagine" my friend says "By the end of the week I almost had to be treated by a surgeon with a pickaxe."

*Endlessly fascinating how people look at things:
When I was a chalet girl in Champery, Switzerland, cooling and cleaning for ski guests, one of the guests, a beautiful, sparkling London girl-about-town who I won't name, confided that she had the same ailment. "There's one thing I've learned in my life so far" she said "Sex is overrated and pooping is underrated."

We're off to a restaurant called Red Dog tomorrow night. I should be doing this..

But I want to do this.

Red Dog comfort food

The heart wants what the heart wants.

Friends, go in peace and ease ...or just... go.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Home Again, Home Again

Over the weekend I fully embraced my Eileen Fisher years, though I hope they are more ninja than nanna. I have lowered the hems of all my dresses (regulation convent school length!)  The ones that are still too short I am using as floaty moatey arrangements that sort of soften the bingo wings as you hold out your glass of wine to be "freshened" (love the boozing expressions here!) and shield innocent eyes from that inevitable "whale tale reveal" as you bend forward.

Doing an Eileen Fisher to my old Patterson J. Kincaid dress

The dress worn as a dress...those days are gone. Four years ago with Cy in Central Park,  New York

This one did not translate, donated. With Tallulah and Grandma Patty in front of  Natural History Museum, 2010

In The Plan 20-day diet news: I'm a blimin' diet school delinquent. Yesterday, Day Seven, I was sent back to Day Four for not following it properly. I ranted and railed but like an 11year-old arguing with her teacher, but she was right - I had strayed from the course. On top of several misdemeanors (misuse of goat's cheese!) I had drunk a second glass of wine on Saturday  - and worse, it was champagne which sent me into a ghastly vortex of queasiness and headspins for two days. Diagnosis: I have an allergy to yeast. Farewell Gold Madame, I knew you well. The broccoli-arama meal plan torture continues.

What my dreams are filled with. See you on the other side, Ye Olde Cooked Breakfast

Tallulah and Cy arrived home with Kevin from the East Coast (PA, New York and then Stone Harbor which they all loved.)  Jackson stayed behind in Sea Isle with a friend for a week. I think the two weeks Kevin spent with the three kids by himself had its ups and downs "We laughed, we cried" (see our last trip to NY which will make you feel good about yourself) and he had to ban all sports talk as it left Tallulah out. They found out they all loved Friends so watched a couple of shows a night and spent many golden hours discussing (all ranked Joey as the best, heated disagreement about whether Monica likeable).

Coming home...Cy and Tallulah so so happy to see Teddy

Harley continues to learn the cotillion three times a week for a friend who is having her Filipino coming of age. Her party is not until October and the dance practices - there are 16 kids in her "court" -  are intense, but he continues to show up when a lot of the others don't... funny what kids commit to.

Harley, 16, and my bro, Tony, 53, before the tennis match

My brother, Tony, drove over the bridge on Sunday to visit. Tony is a year old than me at 53, and he's is an ex-professional squash player (once 28th in the world) who needs frequent competition fixes. He whalloped Harley in tennis despite hobbling around on a variety of replaced and repaired joints and tendons. Way to show how AARP rules, bro!

Whatever age those pesky digits tell you - hope you had a youthful weekend?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Plan

I have joined that most annoying of tribes - of which my husband is a charter member - people who talk about their current diet. I've had gone on The Plan, a 20-day diet invented by Lyn-Genet Recitas which apparently aims to eliminate those "surprising" health foods that are making you fat and feel bad.

Turkey, salmon, greek yoghurt, eggs, cauliflower, beans, oatmeal and tomatoes are all healthy -  right? Wrong! She reckons that for many people these foods cause a toxic reaction that triggers weight gain, premature aging, inflammation, and a host of health problems including constipation (that's mine and a fascinating post that I will save for next week...something to look forward to)  migraines, joint pain, and depression.

She reckons weight gain has nothing to do with carbs, calories or fat.

I am incredibly cynical about diets and I've promised myself I would never do one, but I was so tired of feeling so tired all the time and of above-mentioned ailment, especially when traveling. So for 20 days I've put my life on hold and broccoli galore and flaxseed here I come.

I paid for the fully monty. It starts with an initial phone conversation with the author Lyn-Genet Recitas and email-updates with her every day. My skepticism meant I was pretty grumpy on the phone call but what she said started to make sense.

Broccoli and carrots galore. It feels like a  lot of shopping for herbs, spices and doing recipes but maybe that's me being disorganised.  I was constantly re-reading the pages all day long

You eat a special diet that adds a few different things each day and if it doesn't suit your body, there will be a reaction and the scales the next morning will show that you've put on weight.

When we analysed how much water I drank (pretty much none except for herbal tea), turned out the watermelon I inhaled was the only thing keeping me from being a rocking-back-and-forth mess. I like what she said next.  Don't pretend you're going to love drinking water  -  just get it down you - think of it as chugging a beer or downing a shot. I started chugging four pints (of water) a day. Funny thing I once complained to a friend that I didn't drink enough water and he said: "Pay to do a course" Now here I am.

Day One: Yes! I can do this!'s a lot of work... (five trips to grocery store and health store). Stay close to loo.

Day Two: Kept misreading instructions, menus take over life. So much much zucchini...ugh.

Day Three: Can't face flaxseed granola. Bingewatch Parenthood to take my mind off things.

Day Four: By this time find coconut milk and papaya are not good for me.

Fay Five: Dizzy. Blurry vision, smuggled pop chips into my mouth, fantasizing about Sthern BBQ. Glass of wine (allowed) tiny bit chocolate (allowed). Chocolate blows up my stomach - no more choccy. Haven't been out or seen anyone for days except my Parenthood friends... they're my friends right?

The Day Five Blueberry-Avo smoothie was good though

Lost 2 lbs from Monday to Sat morning -  which if you're trying to lose weight, would be a bit soul destroying. I will persevere but not in a good place. I don't usually think about food, now obsessed about getting to dinnertime for wafer of chicken.

Anyone else out there doing this - want to form a support group? Have you ever been on a diet that was helpful in any way, or found foods that were bad for you?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pennsylvania Weekend

Kevin took Tallulah and Jackson to visit his family in Pennsylvania for two weeks. I stayed home to look after Harley, 16, as he has a job, and Cy, 10, as he had baseball. Saturday night it was a carnivore-arama at Kenny'nMikes place to meet all their rellies (who are from Pennsylvania!)

But first, on Friday night I met my friends at iconic Mexican restaurant,  Dona Tomas.

Always love Vanessa's layering

Vanessa and Nicole at Dona Tomas

Here's a few snaps Kevin sent from Pennsylvania:

Tallulah and Jackson at Lycoming County Fair

Jackson and Tallulah on the Delaware River
Kevin with kids and his father Bob and stepmother Patty at Penn State, just voted 50 university in the world, top 25 in the US (needs some good news after all that's happened.) 
Kevin is taunting me with this photo of Grandma Patty. Rhubarb is my favourite

Tallulah and Jackson are famed for their constant bickering - they do it like it's their job. I asked Kevin how it was going. "I haven't heard them speak to each other so far"he said.  Baby steps.

Then Cy flew out by himself to meet them in New York. He wore me down at the airport at 7am and left for the Big Apple with a big bag of candy. Not my finest hour as mother.

Tallulah, Jackson and Cy at the Yankee Stadium.  Apparently everyone puzzled by their A's gear.  Way to represent Oakland and keep 'em confused
Now some snaps from Kenny'nMike's BBQ.

I wore Nic+Joe blouse I got in France on bike ride -  bit pregnancy but I still like it
Kenny'n'Mikes backyard

Everyone out on the side deck now

Buffalo ribs galore
Not a great photo but you get the idea, forgotten how fantastic scalloped spuds were
Mike and his cousin Ryan. Beards are in! (I'm a fan of clean shaven, what about you?)
Mike and Harley

Awful news about Gaza Strip and the Malaysian Airlines plane that was shot down. The passports of the children flying by themselves; 10-year-old Miguel, who was traveling with his brother asked his mother before he left "What happens when the plane will crash" (the other brother took a later flight.) It's hard to know what to say. As usual FF hit the mark in her post today: "Love Fiercely People."

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wedding Day

Grab a cuppa char or a frosty glass of chard, it's a good one today. It's all about lurve. Your wedding day - do you wish you'd done it differently... or maybe just enjoyed it more?  I love this casual photo of Olivia Palermo in a sweater and tie-on skirt, though can't imagine doing the shorts. This has turned out to one of my favourite posts as some of you were able (with a wee bit o' nagging) to get your wedding photos to me. Friends, you'll laugh and you'll cry...

Olivia Palermo and new husband.  His hand-in-pocket and bent knee looks a bit model-esque (oh but yeah he is is a model)

More iconic wedding snaps...
Covered-up but she carried it off,  still the most expensive dress ever made?

So happy - and tanned!

Provenance of the dress clouds this one

Chanel free spirit
I've told you about our wedding day... We had three kids then and never really intended getting married. Our immigration lawyer (to get from London to the US) said get to the registry office toot sweet - despite having three children I would still be ejected from the US at the airport (tempting on some days...) I bought a white Armani suit which was a bit squeaky on the thighs (dang that M&S full fat mac and cheese leftover from the kids' plates.) Anyway on the day, I couldn't wear it to the registry office because baby Tallulah had a crook tummy and had to be changed every ten minutes.

At the Marylebone Registry Office with Harley, Jackson and Tallulah

Kevin and Tallulah between explosions

Jay who lives in Norfolk, England, says "I love this photo of us on our wedding day  - husband ignoring me and in a hurry to get to the cricket pitch (where we were having the reception) and me checking my not insubstantial cleavage!! - somethings never change..... Confetti get's blooming everywhere!!"

Jay of My Family and Other Cricketers

Elizabeth married her Italian husband in a Basilica in Florence and the old hotel Rolls broke down on the way to the church, so she arrived in a friend's VW: "Racing to the ALTAR on time! My dress was a bit tight and we had to lift it up above the knee to get me up the marble staircase! ...Two Priests married us! Yes, it was all in ITALIAN! My friend Daryl walked me down the aisle, my father did not come because my mother was going to be there."

Elizabeth from Vintage Hen House

Our friend Mike of Mike'n'Kenny says: "Even though we were together 15 years, we rushed to get married the first week it was legal as I did not want to risk the courts overturning the ruling. And we knew that Prop 8 was on the ballot in the fall. So I did not have a chance to do what everyone does - spend 6 months losing weight for the wedding photos. Oh well. Chubby but happy. "


Alexis Grace says: "Lukus and I are coming up on our 5 year anniversary in September. Our wedding was super small with just 18 people in attendance--- that included the pastor and the photographer and us! We decided to do an extra small destination wedding in Cabo San Lucas, followed by our honeymoon in Ixtapa. At the end of our honeymoon we headed to my hometown where my parents threw a HUGE party for family and friends to celebrate with us! Basically our wedding was a 3 week long celebration...perfection!"

Alexis Grace from North on Harper

My writing buddy Burnita says: "I had my dress custom made in New York and I was living in San Francisco. The dress from I. Magnin and we had done several fittings, but the dress got lost and didn't arrive until three days before the wedding. No time for more alterations . The cleavage was too low. Every man I met in the reception line I had to ask him, "What color are my eyes?"

Burnita, who is writing Quiver of the Pure Heart, on her wedding day

Naomi says: "Just to let you know that I still haven't opened up my boxes and as I mentioned my laptop is not working so I took pics from a little book the size of my palm!  We got hitched in 2009 in Marylebone Town Hall.  I postponed it but then we had to get it done bc he had a surgery in October so we planned it in one month and getting married in peak summer meant most good hairdressers were booked out even on a Monday afternoon when we were married! I didn't like my hair but it was the best I could do at short notice. Oh well...but we then went to the Dorchester for a private dinner with no family but my brother."

Naomi of Coulda Shoulda Woulda

Friend Julie L. couldn't resist sending this photo of her almost getting arrested on her wedding day! "Matt proposed to me outside the beautifully lit National Cathedral in Washington DC. We couldn't get married there (very exclusive), but the church across the street would marry us. I thought it would be great to have our photos taken on the beautiful cathedral grounds. They didn't think it was such a good idea since I didn't get permission. I kinda knew it could happen -- it was ask for forgiveness instead of permission. In the end they let us keep our film/photos taken and just asked us to leave."

Julie of Monkey Grass Hill. Police turning up to arrest her on her wedding day!

My writing teacher Ellen Sussman says: "In a two week period my husband and I just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary, hosted our daughter's wedding at our house, and I published my new novel, A Wedding in Provence. It's my Summer of Love!" (by the way her book was just named one of Summer's Best Reads by Time magazine!)

Writer Ellen Sussman and her husband Nick

From friend Lesley: "A photo of my brother sliding me under his legs and I have knee highs on. :) I wore knee highs because I thought they would be more comfortable. I never expected anyone to see them! "

Lesley dancing with her brother at her wedding

And from friend Karen: "Funny bit: great toast, where Nick's friend said that now that we were married, all the men who had a key to my apartment in NYC should come forward and drop the keys in the ice bucket. About 40 guys came up and dropped keys. He said the same for Nick, and one elderly lady tottered up to drop her key! Annoying bit: the second limo for the bridal party was used the night before for prom, and someone had yakked in it. Everyone has to hang their heads out the windows and gasp."

Karen and Nick

Classic! Now head on over to Naomi's place - she's done a really funny post about how you pick the face of the one you love - for example, Camila Parker-Bowles looks exactly like Prince Charles' nanny. And Tabitha has done a post on couples who marry someone very spookily like themselves...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The New Walk of Shame

There's a new Walk of Shame in our town. No, it's not that movie.

Old-style Walk of Shame depicted by Elizabeth Banks in the movie 

It's not that Walk of Shame from the olden days -  the dirty stop-out walk from the taxi to the door with the neighbours watching. It's worse than that. Much, much more humiliating than that.

In our town it's (cue: da da da dah! ominous chords) leaving the store with your groceries in paper bags.

Here in Oakland the laws have changed. Disposable plastic bags have been banned and if you turn up to a grocery store counter without your own bags you are charged 10cents per paper bag.

I have spent a small mortgage on an assortment of reusable bags. But why do they never make that 20 feet from our (solar-powered electric) car to the store?

As soon as the shop assistant has to say: "Do you need bags?" and you mumble "yes" you are marked. You are the pariah who forgot their bags. You are the one who's killing the earth -  the problem not the solution.

I don my sunglasses, check left, check right and I run my cart back to the car. I know one day they will be waiting.

The dolphins and the bees and the endangered yellow coneflowers will rise up. They will  flap you will their flippers and sting you with their stingers and leave yellow pollen on your white jeans. Because you are the devilwoman!

Arriving at the store today I muttered madly to myself: "I have to put a sign on the steering wheel." That sign would of course read "Remember the Bags!" But then I would need a sign on the dashboard "Look at the sign on your steering wheel!" And then I would....

And then I went into the store. Ooops, I've done it again...

The new style Walk Of Shame

(By the way, on Friday I'm going to do a wedding post - 'tis the season for remembering nuptuals. Please, please send me one of your wedding photos with two or three lines about the funniest, happiest or most annoying thing on the day - to

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tudors and Wonder Woman

Thought I'd kick off with this photo of our friend's living room. Kim and John live around the corner from us and they were having their joint 50th on Saturday night. They have a Tudor home built in the 1936 but inside it's style de melee (remember I've banned myself from saying "eclectic") Love how they've used a painting which their daughter Mandela (then age 10) did of Wonder Woman.

Kim and John's living room

I wore my old Ella Moss top that has copper discs on the shoulders

Turned up the ankle on these in a revolutionary move. I like these DL white jeans but they have a weird ankle: its neither cropped nor long and fitted

Here were the lovely greeters at their home, daughter Mandela and her friend.

Their 15 year old daughter Mandela (right) and her friend Kaitlyn were the greeters
John greeting us in shorts paired with a cream dinner jacket, just because

There are some people who are "anywhere but here" types. (I used to be a bit like that) There are others who stay where they are and make things better. Kim and John have worked really hard in Oakland, putting time and energy into our local public schools and ensuring the buildings here are awarded the historic status they deserve.

Kim and John (right) with friends Hamilton and Gina. Look at all the lovely wood paneling in their house.

Kim and John bought this 1936 Tudor a couple of years ago and renovated it. Funny story - when we moved from London to Oakland (the same place we now own) we found ourselves surrounded by streets named after English towns. Many of the houses here are Tudor built around the 1920's and that style is prized, much more than say our modern house. One neighbour even has a old coat of armour in their hallway.

View from their living room window

Birthday girl Kim with Kevin and Ian 

Kim's new sandals. They were just in Capri and there was a store that made sandals to your design

I'm not much of a sports watcher, even of my own kids' games, but Cy's All Star baseball has been gripping. They won the Section 4 (whatever that is) and then went to champs in Petaluma. He is scared during the hitting but while he is pitching he is extremely relaxed pitching, calm as anything on the mound which would be the opposite of how I think I would be. 

Isn't funny what makes you nervous? I would no sooner pipe up at a small PTA meeting than kill a chicken but I would have no problems addressing hundreds of people from a podium (though funnily enough no one has asked me to do that lately) What inexplicably makes you nervous or calm?

Cy in the dugout

They won! the section four thingy

In hair news, I got a Brazilian. Not that one, it's a hair straightening technique. The bumph says it's all natural but watery eyes beg to differ. Counterintuitive, but all those fresh chemicals actually make your hair shinier as well as straight.

My friend says I did not sell The Way trip to her husband and could I please post a more "realistic" photos. Here you go, bucolic village amid impossibly idyllic woods.

Shoot, how did that second one get in?

What did you get up to in the weekend?

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