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9 months old … dolphins, sunsets and watermelon

October 6, 2012

Very long post alert … go and get a drink and sit down …

This week Hope celebrated her 9 month birthday … and it was an incredible week, the only sadness was not sharing it with her father and her precious Granby.

Hope’s friend the pelican

So many ‘firsts’ that I am sure I have forgotten some of them already… and all wonderful, there is one downside to being here however, which is that during the day if Hope’s godmother takes the car to work, we are ‘stranded’ here (an odd word to use when ‘here’ has a pool, sunshine and peace) and with no extra pair of hands to help out it means that work, writing and lolling by the pool (in that order) are hard to do as I’m either holding Hope, playing with her, feeding her or asleep the rest of the time … so as soon as she dozes and I’ve done a little work, if I have the chance I dash to the beautiful pool for a splosh but then generally Hope wakes up and demands to be taken for a swim (she loves it especially the little ‘waterfall’ type jobby at the end which she plays with using her fingers and toes) … so, it’s only now that Auntie Clare has taken Hope to the shops, (aaaggghhhh how odd does that feel) that I have time to sit and splurge and work out how to download / upload the photos on my mobile phone to my laptop so I don’t lose them.

sunset at Hermosa Beach

palm trees on the beach

Anyway, where was I? Yes, Hope is now 9 months old … and ever more gorgeous, funny, determined and inquisitive. She still has no teeth and is plagued by gum pain which she stoically deals with and her curl is growing thicker and her hair is getting more and more fair.

Hope absorbs new experiences like a cheerful sponge.

This last week she has been swimming with me in the pool most days and has walked on some wonderful beaches hanging infront of me waving her arms, kicking her legs and holding onto my fingers, she’s been pushed along the ‘boardwalk’ or ‘strand’ beside the beach and looked at all the even tanned, white teethed, flawless Californians jogging past and she’s fallen in love with pelicans.

My highlights include:

– sitting with Hope on my lap watching the sunset at the end of Balboa Pier at the wonderfully retro and perfectly positioned Ruby’s Diner. We watched the fishermen, their rods silhouetted against the sunset and the huge pelicans stalking around their feet or just standing on the railings, we saw 3 dolphins playing in the waves at the end of the pier, and Hope grinned gummily at the passers by and enjoyed sharing a little (how greedy am I?) of my delicious milk shake. Now then, when I say milkshake, if you are from England you will imagine some nesquick type drink… nope not in California; it was two huge dollops of vanilla ice cream floating in milk and almost too thick to suck up the cheerful red straw.

– a trip from the marvellous Davey’s Locker in Newport Beach out to whale and dolphin watch.

dolphins … quite magical

We saw none of the former, and literally hundreds of the latter. Auntie Clare came too and we drank a beer with a slice of lime and basked in the sunshine (covered in suncream and Hope in her hat)… when the little boat went out of the harbour and into the Pacific, I put Hope in the carry pouch and stood in the prow of the boat … she stretched her arms out as if she was Kate Winslet and turned, looked up and beamed broadly. Then, and I can’t think where she got her excitement from (her other godmother Susannah thinks her first word will be ‘wow’ as she hears it from me so often), she flapped her arms and gasped with glee as first 3 and then about 100 dolphins came alongside the boat; racing in the water, curving their graceful bodies up gleaming in the sun, playing all round us it was just magical.  We also saw sealions sitting on the buoy at the harbour entrance, with the sonorous bell clanging as it moved when they jumped on and flopped back off… a truly blissful afternoon followed by another milkshake at Ruby’s.

Oh wow! Happy girls after seeing dolphins

– Mexican food, yes I’m addicted to tacos, to chile rellenos and to chipolte sauce, guacamole and cilantro … poor Auntie Clare has been forced to eat it almost every day either at home or in little hole in the wall diners which she’d never normally frequent. The best to date has been at Hermosa Beach, just Hope and I and she really enjoyed the sauce on the taco after the sun had gone down, and at Newport Beach at a scruffy wonderful little spot called Great Mex … it really is that!! I’ve barely drunk any alcohol for the last 2 years but I have enjoyed a couple of margaritas since I’ve been here.

– grocery shopping … Hope got to ride in a trolley for the first time, and in her little white lacy dress the blue strap holding her into the seat made her look like a small Alice in wonderland … I loved pushing her around but really enjoyed the absolute pleasure and pride her godmother had pushing round her small charge … Hope had a great time and grinned the whole way round Whole Foods.

– feeding Hope outside in the garden in her little chair, she absolutely adores watermelon and also tacos (soft ones) and is fond of Auntie Clare’s pancakes and has huge fun smearing herself in strawberry and also yoghurt … I love how she takes things in her finger tips and examines them before seeing if they squash and then stuffing them cheerfully into her mouth … she is eating well now and seems to be learning the art of chewing with no teeth. Eating is a messy affair but we both enjoy it!

– trip to the nail bar … Hope sat on my lap transfixed and very excited while I had my revolting feet descaled and made less revolting … the ladies in the nail bar loved her and, foolish though it may sound, I felt so proud!!

Girls afternoon at the nail bar

– feeding the cats in the morning. I’m not a cat person at all, I am allergic to them and, well, lets just say that I prefer dogs. That being said Auntie Clare’s two cats are gorgeous, practically tigers, and Hope it seems is as much a cat person as her godmother. I love it in the mornings when Clare has had her shower and sits on her bed to put her make up, a long established ritual, and Hope now joins her and together they chat to the cats and give them “biccies”. She reaches out and just gasps with delight when she is near them, it really makes me smile to see.

– Crystal Cove … a lovely spot on the coast where various films were shot way back when and many of the old film set houses still there, clinging to the cliff just beside the most glorious beach. Just above the beach is the Crystal Cove Shake Shack (yup, another milkshake … Auntie Clare had a malt which was one step too far for me), and on the beach is Beachcombers (I think) a lovely bar with fabulous music and scrumptious margaritas… we had a lovely walk, watching the sun set, the little wading birds scampering around in the shallows and looking at the most remarkable rock formations (I so miss my father who would have been able to explain the geology).

– Hope spent her 9 month birthday (she was sung to twice, once by Clarey and I and once on Skype by her father and Granby)

@thedigitalbaby on skype to her folks back home

seeing places where I lived as a child and having lunch with a very very special man, my 94 year old distant cousin and his 80 year old girl friend … they both got in and out of the convertible car Clare has lent me (good choice of godmother by me I think …) far more easily than I did, and we had a very happy time … seeing Hope with this dear man moved me to tears and she was so happy sitting beside him on the sofa and looking up into his familiar face and hanging on to his every word.

9 months and 94 years

I spent alot of time in Southern California as a child and over subsequent years for work so I have many friends here and seeing them and introducing them to Hope means the world to me. Now the jet lag has receded and I am back in the way of driving on the ‘wrong side’ whenever I get the chance we shall be off exploring. Yesterday when we headed the hour or so north to turn off the 405 freeway at Hawthorne Blvd, Hope didn’t fall asleep in the car seat like she normally does, she looked around and watched everything going by.

We watched the sun sink in to the Pacific and the beautiful California people playing volley ball and I know that when she’s older Hope will love this little pocket of the world as I do, and I hope she will feel as at home here as I always have. I was here when I was around 9 months old and maybe that’s why Southern California has always seemed a part of me … and now it is a part of my girl too.

Good … they’ve just got back from the shops … it went well and she’s now asleep so maybe I’ve time to have a quick dip in the pool as well as having done lots of writing … Hurrah.

Happy 9 months Birthday Hope … Esperanza … you pefect girl.

at the end of Hope’s happy 9 month birthday

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 10, 2012 11:22 am

    Wow, what a fantastic post! It was so engaging I didn’t realise it was a long one. You have made me want to visit California for sure! I am so in awe of how you take everything so calmly in your stride and create so many wonderful and magical moments for hope! How wonderful that you got to see your cousin and get the beautiful photograph of Hope with him. And to catch up with your friends from life ‘pre-Hope’ (can you even remember that now lol). Can’t wait to catch up with you very soon! Enjoy the rest of your Californian Vacation!xxxx

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