We’re back from London, where we rode the London Eye (again, blah, I never understand why it attracts such crowds – though I kind of do understand why it attracts my mother, who has a bit of fear of heights and gets to feel daring in a safe way); went on a bus tour to Windsor (wow), Stonehenge (did you know they’ve recently, like in the past couple years, figured out that it was used as a ritual cemetary?) and Bath; saw the National Portrait Gallery and shopped in Hamley’s; went to St. Paul’s Cathedral (Mom climbed up to the Whispering Gallery and is very proud) and to Sir John Soames’ house. Our hotel, the George, was a bit out at the corners. My room was a third-floor (that is, American fourth-floor) walkup, and Mom’s was on the second floor – this travel has been all about stairs, poor Mom. The rooms showed a lot of signs of wear, which I suppose is reasonable in a Georgian crescent, but the location was extremely convenient. It was a short walk from King’s Cross-St. Pancras, where our Eurostar train came in, and an equally short one to Euston and Russell Square Tube stations.

Today we got the move accomplished, though of course there are still lots of boxes to be unpacked. Since I’m only here for a week before leaving for Taiwan, they will probably stay that way for a bit. The new place is driving me a bit nuts; it’s larger than the old, but I am missing my closet (a rarity in this country!) and the huge bookshelf. I not only have no idea where Ted will put his clothes, I don’t know about fitting all of mine. Well, I can probably manage mine but he’s SOL. I foresee a siege with Ikea allen wrenches in our near future.

Mom’s driving me nuts too, but it seems disloyal to go into too much detail. Not a speck of it is malicious; she just needs a lot of watching, and a crash course in table manners. It’s a basic lack of situational awareness, sense of direction, and something I can only call economy of motion or maybe grace. Aging isn’t helping and neither is being out of her comfort zone, but those are mostly just exacerbating existing issues. Every time I’m with Mom I’m grateful for the things I inherited from Dad, though to be fair the converse is also true. I’ve been reminding myself of the patience and care Taiwanese people show their elders (who often seem to be similarly challenged – probably not surprising given the rate of change in Taiwan) and also of all the people I know who were essentially raised by wolves or worse, and of how grateful I am to have been raised by someone who did her best. (See, LA? If you never get the gratitude you deserve at least you’ve helped other kids appreciate their parents!) I’ve also been trying to be conscious of how much of my annoyance is me being intolerant and spoiled from spending all these years only having to put up with Ted, who might be annoying in other ways but who is supremely competent. I’ve yelled a few times* but mostly for things like her standing in a bike lane with oncoming cyclists, and I did try to apologize.

*Or more accurately, raised my voice. To quote a recent tag on Facebook, “I’m not yelling, I’m Jewish. This is how we talk.”