Monday, December 27, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I am a cat lover.
Anyone who knows me, knows that. I even admit to having a cat psychic so I can communicate with Mr. Tig and understand his grievances. But we have this really annoying problem. Another cat—who's identity remains a mystery—has started doing his business at both our front and our back doors.
We live on the upper level of a Spanish duplex. Apart from being disgusting, can you imagine how traumatized poor Mr. Tig must feel? He's an indoor-outdoor cat and his territory is small, but it's still his. The mystery cat has clearly got bolder. He's moved from using my plant pots (inexcusable as I love to garden) and has stepped up his game. It's quite clear we are living in his old house and he doesn't like it.
Even if I discover the culprit (my husband suggested an all-night stake-out but I think he was joking), what can we do? Cayenne pepper? Anyone got any ideas?
This problem reminds me of one of my favorite children's books. The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It was None of His Business. If you're stuck for a gift for a child or an adult who never really grew up (i.e. English men who went to boarding school - no offense, I love you all), then this is the gift for you.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
I know I'm not alone in feeling completely overwhelmed at this time of year. I'm also not alone in struggling to think up suitable ideas for gifts to buy family and friends. My own family love exchanging tons of presents. The process of unwrapping lasts about two or three hours as we focus on each lucky recipient one-at-a-time. Our ritual includes watching the Queen's speech at 3.00 p.m, drinking mum's homemade Sloe gin and eating far too many chocolates.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
My husband and I have always shared a passion for history - particularly both world wars. Last night we watched "All Quiet on the Western Front." I'd read the book years ago and had never seen the movie. Even though it was made in 1930, the brutal images were so distressing that at times I couldn't watch it. Maybe it was because the memory of the First World War was still vivid in the minds of the creators and carried the message of "never again" or perhaps it was seeing the carnage on the fields of northern France, we knew another war would come just nine years later and all those brave souls had died in vain.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Okay. You'd probably think I was lying but I have not been in the outdoors since August - and that was in England. Up until this morning, the only time I breathe in the fresh air and feel the Californian sun on my face ... is walking to my car. The weather has been so glorious that I was determined to go for a hike in Franklin Canyon TODAY!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
It’s been a strange time. Where did October go and now, November is upon us—and it’s only weeks until the holidays. I’m not ready for the end of the first decade!
My sister’s big birthday is coming up and my daughter wanted some photographs. I got out my old school trunk of neatly organized photo albums. As I poured through them and was instantly transported back through time. Those memories were tangible. I could feel them. I was back there—as a young girl at the beach with her Cindy doll (I’m British – Barbie was regarded as a bit of a tart), holding my first dog Snuffles at age 8 (who had just thrown up on my coat), a disastrous camping expedition in the Girl Guides where I was told off for sticking a wooden stick in a cowpat, a wild time in Cardiff as a rookie reporter with friends who, now I’ve seen their laughing faces again, I’m determined to track down. My daughter’s first steps 26 years ago, wonderful memories of Africa and endless, endless photos of my first ever trip to Disneyland (what was I thinking?)
I could go on and on but what struck me most was that these past five years I’ve kept all my memories on iPhoto. If I do look at them, it’s more of a quick skim. I don’t relive the memory at all. It’s not the same as leafing through dusty albums, each page promising a surprise. I’ve also noticed that I take dozens of photos with digital cameras because the bad ones can be erased. Yes, I’m making myself sound old, but there was something magical about getting your photos back from the developer to see how—and in my case, if—they came out.
What about you? Do you still keep photo albums or are you an iPhoto fan? Do you think a part of our memory is erased too in the Digital Age?
Photo: Christmas 1977
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Yes, I'm alive and well but too busy to blog. My day job at Davis Elen Advertising has become insane these past two weeks. I have my typeset pages for THIEVES! to send off tomorrow; I'm finishing up a proposal for a new series --- and there is a sudden deluge of work to be done for Sisters in Crime AND the California Crime Writers Conference
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
A distressing thing happened to me this morning. As I was dashing out of the house, I couldn't help noticing our resident squirrel in a terrible state. Even though I was late for work (as usual), I couldn't ignore the frantic tone in his voice.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
There is nothing more startling than being woken up by an earthquake at 5 am. I hate the things and still can't get used to them. Even though it was tiny and somewhere out in the Pacific off San Pedro (I believe) - it sends my heart racing and it's impossible to go back to sleep.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Nothing startling to report here apart from the fact that I have zero time to write my blog. I had SO many good intentions after returning from my vacation but frankly, getting up at 4.30 am to work on my new series (still top secret) sort of zaps my creative energy. A full day at the advertising agency leaves me feeling a little peaky and of course, if I end the day with a very intense spinning session at YAS downtown ... I'm seriously pooped.
Monday, August 30, 2010
As always, I return from my vacation filled with resolutions. I'm determined to be the perfect employee; to arise at 5 am to write my books; to zip off a daily blog filled with wit and flair but most of all to maintain a zen-like aura of efficiency, grace and good humor. As always, these resolutions don't last. In fact, my boss gave me until noon of my first day back—but I managed to make it to mid-week with a smile. This time, the chaos that greeted me at my day job has left me reeling. It's a far cry from the tranquility of Devon.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I've finally come up for air after returning from two and a half weeks in lovely, wet England. It was a wonderful trip even if it did start off somewhat vexing. The purpose was foremost to attend a family wedding in Devon. My nephew James was tying the knot with his childhood sweetheart Sarah Florence—not to be confused with my Sarah. And confused, people were.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
You'd think I'd know how to pack by now. In my misspent youth, I was a flight attendant for years. At one point, I worked on private jets and was on call twenty-four hours a day with a pager (no cell phones at that time). I'd often get paged in a supermarket and told to get to Heathrow Airport in 2 hours for a one-week trip to an unknown destination. I had packing down to a fine art then—or perhaps it was because I never really unpacked. On this trip my husband and I are having a competition. Who can pack the lightest. We're both planning on taking just one carry-on bag! My daughter Sarah says it's impossible. What I haven't told either of them is that I've already shipped a box of shoes to my mum's house in Devon. Is that cheating?
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Finding time to exercise when working an intense day job and writing books is always a challenge. Yet, next to the shower and ironing, my best ideas come when I am not deliberately thinking about writing—when I'm spinning for example. I was so excited to find that YAS (yoga and spinning for athletes) finally opened downtown. True, I come back from lunch with a face as red as a beetroot but also with some unexpected plot revelations. It also means that I can eat whatever I want for the rest of the day since spinning burns off between 600 and 900 calories per hour! Of course, I'm a tad tired but nothing compared to how our dear friend Colin Walker must be feeling today. He just returned from competing in the grueling Ironman Lake Placid—a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride ... followed by a 26 mile marathon. ALL WITHOUT STOPPING. Colin—you are our hero!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
It's Wednesday and that means it's Barbara's postbag ...
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Yes. Apparently there are ways to stop your husband from snoring—although try as I might, I was unable to locate this vintage product advertised at the monthly Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Today, I'm excited to introduce Barbara Meadows—the Gipping Gazette receptionist and agony aunt (see above), eager to answer your questions in the love department. Barbara will feature every Wednesday. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with DEAR BARBARA in the subject line.
Dear Barbara:Every time my boyfriend comes to my apartment, he goes straight to the fridge and looks inside. It’s annoying because he knows I don’t cook and we always get take-out or eat somewhere cheap. When I ask him why he does this, he just shrugs and says he doesn’t know. Can you help?
Alice, San Diego
Barbara says: “A way to a man’s heart is through is stomach, dear. As a boy, I’m sure he’d come home from school ravenous and head straight for the fridge. It’s a habit few men break out of. Fill up that fridge and your kitchen cupboard with goodies. Learn to cook. There are lots of easy recipe books available if you can’t afford to take a class. My Chocolate Fridge Cake is always a favorite and remember, when you are cooking, add warm, saucy feelings. If you’d like a copy of my own recipe, just drop me a line. Good luck!"
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Like many writers, I have a cat. Not just any old cat, but a very special cat called Mr. Tig. And like all cats, Mr. Tig has a terror of visiting the vet. I'm sure other cat lovers know how wretched I feel thrusting my kitty into a cat basket and bearing him off for hours of tortuous and humiliating examinations. Mr. Tig (nicknamed Mr. Pig because of his obsession for food) recently started losing weight. Not a good sign for a cat of 14.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
One of the things I have rediscovered since becoming a published author, is a real passion for libraries. Despite the Internet, e-books, Amazon—you name it—libraries are still very much going strong. Some of my most memorable and fun book events have been in libraries. Only last night I joined the wonderful Harley Jane Kozak and Ashley Ream at the beautiful Redondo Beach Library- the topic - Comedy That Kills!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I don't deny it. I'm a choco-holic. Always have been, always will. I used to love Cadbury (still stunned at Cadbury's selling out to Kraft - life will never be the same) - in fact, the very first writing competition I entered was for Bournville. I was about eight years old and won a beautifully painted tin filled with delicious dark chocolate biscuits. Now, as I'm older, I've become a complete chocolate snob. I prefer dark chocolate and have a stash in a drawer that I keep topped up. It's a comforting sight to peer in there and see chocolate bars stacked according to their cocoa content. And so I made a happy discovery this morning as I was portioning out my daily allowance (yes, I really am this pathetic). Inside the wrapper of my new favorite - the Belgian "Chocolove" Raspberries 55% is a love poem. Hence - the name of the brand. Sigh. Sometimes I can be a little slow on the uptake. Today's poem called, "I love thee," was written by Eliza Acton (born 1799-1859 and who also wrote one of the first cookbooks aimed at the domestic reader. "I love thee, as I love the calm Of sweet, star-lighted hours." What a lovely way to start my day—though I am quite positive she was not talking about her passion for chocolate ...
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I've only just recovered from yesterday's World Cup football match. My ears are still ringing with the sound of trumpets and foghorns having joined 400 people on the roof of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles to cheer on England against the USA. It was a disappointing draw with an excruciatingly embarrassing fumble by our goalie giving the USA the one goal they needed. I'm not a great follower of football; I don't understand our national game of cricket and much prefer the rough and tumble of rugby. Still, it was great to hang out with Ex-Pats with Brits in LA and wave the English flag. Not many people know that the true flag of England (not Great Britain) is the cross of St. George which is gradually regaining in popularity. The increasing cry is "The flag is for life! Not just for football." As the patron saint of England, St. George's Day is celebrated on April 23. His emblem was adopted by Richard the Lion Heart and brought to England in the 12th century. The king's soldiers wore it on their tunics to avoid confusion in battle.
Having living in California now for over 17 years, I still get the chills when I see that flag and sing our National Anthem.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Courtesy of the IMAX 3D theater at the Los Angeles Science Museum, my daughter Sarah and I spent yesterday afternoon with a few astronauts repairing the Hubble Telescope in Outer Space. It was an astonishing experience, revealing not just the wonders of other galaxies beyond our own but spectacular "star nurseries." The Hubble telescope is able to go beyond the known universe and frankly, it freaked me out a little. At school I failed miserably at science (garnering an "Ungraded" - not even a "Fail") and didn't really know what "stars were for." If only we'd had access to such awe-inspiring technology back in the dark ages. Virgin Galactic will soon be offering flights into space for a mere $200,000 a ticket. I'm going to start saving in my piggy bank.