28 June, 2007

get us off this treadmill!

Oy veh, as my friend Alyssa would say. The clock is winding down to the end of the school year and everyone involved (me included) seems determined to fill every available hour. Let's see, in the next seven days we have: an art exhibition at school, a horseback riding lesson, a skating lesson, an acting lesson, one after-school party, one birthday party, a play to go to on Saturday, my own dinner party on Sunday for ten, two performances of the school play, another riding lesson, my writing class, a friend's going away-Fourth of July party for 80 to help organise, the school Prize Day and a pizza party. Can this be true? Surely by the end, when we step onto the plane to go home for the summer, we will all be in a state of nervous collapse. And consider this: we adults aren't actually even DOING most of this stuff. It's the getting-to and home from more than anything else.

But there have been wonderful bits. The stable-wide Pony Club horse show on Sunday was, despite the persistent drizzle, an absolute delight. The day started off with a bang when Figaro, the largest horse in the stable, threw Avery off and onto one of the jumps. Ouch. Her little finger still hurts today (luckily she doesn't need it much). She was roundly applauded for getting right back on, but Figaro was having none of it and finally the instructor decided caution was the better part of valor, and put her on Smokey. This fulfilled her long-held dream, because normally Smokey is held back for inexperienced riders, while Avery's put on the back of anything that moves too quickly for other people. A nice reward for bravery.

A friend had called the night before to ask if I wanted to take part in a bake sale at the show, to pay something toward the farrier's inevitable bill, so sure, I produced some really odd brownies from a couple of boxes of Betty Crocker mix. Two things proved to be true as a result of my efforts: Thing One is that you really do need the number of eggs the box says you need. My casual, devil-may-care attitude of around 1 a.m. the night before the show ("Four eggs, three eggs, what difference does it make?) was proved misguided in that the brownies simply didn't rise. They remained obstinately slumped, which the rain did nothing to improve. Thing Two I learned, however, was that slumped brownies are, in the eyes of hungry young pre-adolescent horse-crazy girls, much better than the kind that used four eggs. So there.

Becky contributed delicious cookies and my other friend rice-krispie treats (which virtually melted in the humidity), and other delicacies. Through it all we consumed our own lunches, brought in husband-boggling abundance (Mark asked, "can't we just each pack a sandwich?", silly man), to be consumed under the amazingly effective tent my friend brought along on the shoulders of her son, on his way to college. What a way to spend your last day, shouldering burdens in the rain with a lot of girls in jodhpurs running around on sugar highs.

It was so cozy to be there with two of my favorite girlfriends in the world, gossiping, praising each other's completely remarkable children, watching our husbands chat and take pictures. Once when John and Becky walked to her car to get something, and I watched their backs as they strode away, talking sixteen to the dozen, I thought, "Don't let anything change. Everything is perfect just as it is." Later that day Avery was to be found in her bedroom, adding the day's quantity of rosettes to the already bulging ribbon strung around her bed. "I can't really justify these two being here, since I didn't earn them. They were just the favors, remember, from my last birthday in New York." She's nothing if not brutally honest.

Let's see, what else has been happening? Oh!! Tuesday I met, in person for the first time, my blog friend Lara. We have long been corresponding about the enormous probability that we've already seen each other, since we haunt the same grocery store, patisserie, bookstore. But finally we made a plan to meet up at her flat quite near to me, and size each other up in person. And "size up" was indeed part of the experience, as she is unexpectedly tall and quite simply gorgeous, in the way of a particular sort of English girl, I'm finding. Perfectly natural, casual, and yet with the sort of effortless grace that I think comes from being descended from generations of interesting people. Truth to tell, she's a dead ringer for one of my favorite British actresses, Keeley Hawes. If Lara weren't such a nice person I'd be dreadfully envious, but we got down to serious chatting right away and the couple of hours we had at our disposal disappeared very quickly. I've said it before and I'll say it again: life would be very sad without girlfriends. I had a serious case of toddler envy when her little boy woke up from his nap and entertained us by saying the words for everything that crossed his field of vision.

Then yesterday I had a lovely time with my friend Dalia, gossiping over lunch at Richoux just around the corner, and then we headed to the Curzon Mayfair to take in "Tell No One," a really scary but clever French filmic take on the hugely popular Harlan Coben novel. Great acting, characters you really care about, a complex plot with a couple of holes (or maybe I'm just being dumb). If you can take a bit of violence, and quite a bit of frantic nail-biting, go see it.

I would close with a recipe, as is my wont, but... I don't have one! I've been cooking all the same old stuff lately, but I promise to try something new in the next day or two so I have something to tell you. Wouldn't want to let you down.

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