29 January, 2006

is it getting better?

I'm sure Avery could teach me how to say that in Latin.  We spent all Thursday afternoon and evening going through her Latin textbooks and teaching each other how to say things like "noli tangere, Rufe!"  Which will come in handy if you have a friend called Rufus that you want not to touch anything.  She is remarkably good at it.  And pulchrituda, too.

In any case, we continue to wade through piles of horse show ribbons, linen napkins, kitty prisons whose screws won't come apart for flat storage but bear adorable labels like "I'm Hermione, a dark small tabby.  My final destination is London Heathrow, please take care of me!"  I succumbed yesterday and took a long nap and when I woke up John had completely settled the kitchen which is a huge help.  I had heretofore been producing roast chicken, spinach and red pepper pasta, roast joints (why is it called a joint?  as far as I can tell it's not an elbow or a knee, it's just an ordinary roast beef, must find out), and countless breakfasts of fried bacon and eggs completely surrounded by enormous piles of dinner plates, useless kitchen appliances and many, many mismatched coffee cups.  Now all is pristine, except for the floor which is covered by boxes of stuff to give to charity.  And tragedy has struck in Crush Land: my darling porter Bob has been kicked upstairs to Senior Building Manager and his replacement Iain, while lovely and helpful, is not crush material.  So applying to him for help in the rubbish line is not going to have any heart-stopping implications.  Oh well.

Let's see, Friday Avery and I had an after-school snack at the lovely Patisserie Valerie in the Marylebone High Street, only she had a gorgeous slice of chocolate sponge cake and I had a horror called "Chick Pea and Potato Soup," whose name alone should have warned me that it would be really odd, and it was.  I couldn't take the whole thing, but anyway I was distracted by Avery's tale of their school excursion to the Unicorn Theatre for a presentation of "Tom's Midnight Garden," taken from the Philippa Pearce book which I had given her but she hadn't read, and we agreed on the failing we both have of literally judging a book by its cover, or at least its blurbs, which were unimpressive.  But the play was magnificent and we are both hoping to go back together.  Then we ended up in the Daunt Bookshop up the road from the cafe, and if you ever get to London you MUST make a journey to this bookshop.  So extensive, so quixotic in its choices, and the staff are original bookworms with motheaten jumpers (sweaters to you Yanks), ironic eyebrow motions and helpful comments.  I wanted all Jamie Oliver's cookbooks, but settled on asking for them for my birthday.  I did peruse a cookery book all about fabulous food stores around the world, which was very enjoyable.  There was one covered that is in Gloucestershire near the famed National Trust House called Chastleton, that John and I stumbled on, derelict, 15 years ago, and then saw being slowly done up during our trip here when Avery was two, and is now finished.  The food store, and farm associated with it, are called Daylesford; the Currans and we shopped there by happenstance over spring break and I have never spent so much money on food in my life.  Rather, I have never asked John's dad to spend so much money on food in his life, since I lost the usual battle for the bill.  Organic everything, in a fabulous architectural setting and much topiary in the gardens.

Yesterday we went skating at the rink behind Somerset House, home of many happy memories for me at the Courtauld Institute Galleries in my art historian days.  The rink is simply luxurious, but I thought it would have been even nicer at night, because it's both lit and heated by enormous burning torches that in the dark must be truly gorgeous.  But we had fun.  Then a far too long walk, starting out happily in Trafalgar Square like compleat tourists, with Avery climbing on the lions, but degenerating into a pointless walk to Conran's for furniture, nothing in stock, and spiraling further downward to Peter Lewis in Sloane Square, also pointless, nothing in stock.  In total annoyance we got a taxi home, none the wiser than a better pair of goggles for Avery's swim class.  Hence my desperate nap.

So this week will be more searching for containers for all our stuff, and people to come take the other stuff we can't live with.  Tonight will be fettucine with asparagus and gammon steak (ham to you at home), in a lemon cream sauce.  For comfort.  Oh, and we've been watching the hilarious competition programme on television, "Dancing on Ice," where they pair a real live skater with a semi-celebrity who has a month to learn how to skate for a competition.  Very soothing.  Everyone is always "completely gobsmacked" at winning, and "chuffed to bits" at proceeding to the next level.  Then they're "gutted" when they're eliminated.  And they say we speak the same language!

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