Arnold Machin who died in 1999 at the age of 88, is remembered as the creator of the iconic image of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth that has, since 1967, appeared on more than 175 billion Royal Mail stamps and is this year celebrating its 40th anniversary. Arnold was also a skillful sculptor, illustrator and ceramics designer.
I find an enormous spider in the bathtub while brushing my teeth this morning. The thing was, like, six inches leg-to-leg. The kids are fascinated and Madeleine shrieks for me not to hurt it as I scoop it up and chuck the thing out the window. Sonnet fortunately had left early jogging to work - otherwise there would have been screams.
Friday, August 31
Arnold Machin who died in 1999 at the age of 88, is remembered as the creator of the iconic image of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth that has, since 1967, appeared on more than 175 billion Royal Mail stamps and is this year celebrating its 40th anniversary. Arnold was also a skillful sculptor, illustrator and ceramics designer.
Thursday, August 30
With Natasha, I take Eitan and Madeleine to a free NHS eye exam at Boots the chemist (this, I note, is the first time the word 'free' has appeared anywhere in this blog, or London for that matter). Eitan bravely goes first and politely answers the Optometrist's questions. Madeleine is naturally curious as we sit through the exam, much of it in the dark, and with strange contraptions like the one Eitan wears now to check peripheral acuity. Madeleine gets her turn too and I am happy to report that both children have excellent vision and do not need spectacles (much to each's great disappointment).
Madeleine during Eitan's eye exam: "What would happen if a knife went in your eye?"
Jeff: "Well, you would probably lose that eye."
Madeleine: "How about a really sharp nail?"
Here we are at the River Thames near the Putney Boat House famous for rowing. In fact, this is where the Oxford-Cambridge boat race begins, stroking its way to Mortlake four miles or so down the river.
French ex-Prime Minister Pierre Messmer has died at the age of 91. Messmer was a faithful Gaullist and served under President Georges Pompidou from 1972-1974. Says President Sarkozy: "France has lost one of its greatest servants." Messmer's political career was inextricably linked to former President Charles de Gaulle. when France fell to the Germans in 1940, Messmer joined de Gaulle's Free French forces and fought in Italy, France and North Africa. After the war, he served in de Gaulle's government as defence minister.
Eitan loves a hamburger. This photo taken at the McBurger on Putney High Street, after which I take the kids to have their eyes checked. Over lunch we discuss the concept of "a strategy" as Eitan eats his least to most favorite items in order. For instance, Eitan's Happy Meal strategy is to eat his chips, then chicken nuggets and finally his cheeseburger. He does this at every meal - veggies first, then potatoes or starch and finally the meat or fish or whatever he likes best. Madeleine is a bit perplexed when I ask her for an example and she tells me her lunch strategy is "to eat with my mouth." I suppose this may qualify but the limited alternatives in her example to some kind of an outcome does not really seal the point (I tell her). Despite me, Madeleine enjoys her Happy Meal.
Wednesday, August 29
Senator Larry Craig (yes, Republican; photo NYT) said Tuesday that he regretted his guilty plea in connection with an airport restroom incident, and he accused an Idaho newspaper of hounding him in recent months - it's the media's fault, God damn it! (Craig was arrested 11 June, 2007, at the Minneapolist-St Paul Airport on supicion of lewd conduct. Craig insisted upon his innocence, disputing the officer's version of the event by stating that he merely had a "wide stance" and that he had been picking a piece of paper from the floor). Says Craig outside the downtown Wells Fargo building: “I am not gay; I never have been gay.” With wife holding hand, Craig, 62, apologized for “the cloud placed over Idaho” by his arrest and guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. His deepest regret, he says, is that he pleaded guilty when he had done nothing wrong (this is a Senator, mind you). Craig said he had chosen to plead guilty without consulting a lawyer and before telling his family, in the hope that the case would just “go away.”
Separately, Wells Fargo issued a statement that it, too, is not gay.
Tuesday, August 28
This picture is from our first London neighborhood circa 1998. I post today, our tenth anniversary in the U.K. - I would never have imagined. Let us see, the year we arrived also saw: Diana's end, Tony Blair's beginning, The Merlins win the World Series in 7; Mad Cow Disease; California smoking ban; Titanic wins 11 Oscars; Viagra; the first euro coin minted; the Lewinsky Affair; Pakistan goes nuclear; France beats Brazil 3-0 to win the World Cup; the Russian financial crisis; Google is founded and the world does not come to an end (though it rained a lot in England).
Here's the old photographer in his train cabin, circa 2002 when he was touring Canada's West.
Speaking of places I would like to visit, Sonnet and I are thinking about Christmas in... Poland! (her idea) while I have yet to see Prague or Venice. Soon enough, if not already, Eitan and Madeleine will be able to travel long-haul to exotic locations and I hope we do this while I can still boss them around. On my day-dreaming list I include Alaska (sadly we did not visit during our California courtship when a trip would have been painless), Patagonia and Egypt. I would also like to return to Central Asia to trek in the Pamirs or Karakorums famous for K-2. One day I will do the John Muir trail with the kids when they are older, and the Dolomites too. This is just a starter, mind you. Happily I can check off the Empire State Building with the kiddies thanks to Katie.
I found this photograph, taken by Moe, while cleaning the attic over the weekend. In 2002 (I may have the year wrong), Moe and Grace explored the Pacific Northwest's British Columbia, taking a train through some of North America's most dramatic country. I don't know the f-stop or other data behind this image (perhaps Dad can email me) but the outcome catches the eye: a ripple adds movement to an otherwise peaceful setting bracketed by trees and the mountain. It is the perception of depth and stillness that I like, however. Not bad work for The Amateur Photographer, critiqed by An Amateur Photographer.
Monday, August 27
Today marks the tenth anniversary of Diana's fatal crash. Not surprisingly, Fleet Street covers the incident while Camilla Parker Bowles decides not to attend the remembarance ceremony after public polls showed we find her attendance inappropriate (now that is different, thank you Tony Blair). It is remarkable how much media attention Diana continues to receive - and how much speculation is given to her "destiny". My opinion is that, post-divorce from Charles and The Firm, Diana would have worked for Blair somehow exporting the British culture through public channels and taking on humanitarian causes - famously she raised awareness of mines by walking through a field in Angola. She also raised the profile, and love of the otherwise stiff and left-footed Royal Family. What politician would not want her endorsement? Diana would have battled the Royal Family for her place in history, and possibly been restored to the crown via Prince William. It would have been terribly entertaining, a secret pleasure for the Brits and America, and undoubtedly would have sold many copies of Tattler and People magazine.
Sonnet and I disembarked in London from Kazakhstan the day following Diana's Paris. Unawares, I awoke Sunday to find every television station showing documentaries of her while we were greeted to the incredible outpouring which lasted visibly months after her death. Kensington Palace was covered with flowers; Tesco's super market offered remembrance books and people queued for blocks to sign; the Royal Family was forced to acknowledge the tragedy while privately despising her. The fall-out goes on and on. The strangeness of those early days took years to reconcile against the British we know. The emotional cry in 1997 was against character, to say the least, and allowed for a collective expression of grief. My young secretary at Botts & Co., who I barely knew that year, was taken to tears for England's - and her own - loss.
Photo from The Reagan Library.
The kids have another couple weeks of summer holiday while Sonnet and I dig ourselves out of work, mail, gardening and housecleaning following America which already seems a distant memory. Looking forward, we plan to ease into autumn with Shakespeare, Brit Pop (various concerts to be seen: Fiest, Maximo Park, Editors, Frey, Chemical Brothers) and perhaps a trip or two to Europe.
Yesterday we head outside London to berry pick at the Home Cottage in Buckinghamshire - this being one of Sonnet's favorite Martha Stewart things (we will return in autumn for the pumpkins). We find blackberries, raspberries, sweet and sour plums and early cooking and munching apples both red and green. Sonnet spends the afternoon preparing berry crumble which we have with vanilla bean ice cream - it is out of this world and Madeleine's eyes glaze over as she eats. In the afternoon Eitan and I practice football while Sonnet and Madeleine ride Madeleine's bike. Madeleine no longer needs a hand getting going and is skilled on her wide turns. Nearby, our common offers the perfect manicured grassy field where falls don't skin. The common is otherwise the home of our local cricket club who meet Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays during the summer (all newcomers welcome - goofy gear not provided). I learn that the common has been a public place since 1040. It was once used as a gentlemen's shooting grounds then a ladies golf course. Almost one thousand years - go figure.
The strangely named Bank Holiday Weekend is upon us. It is the last one of the summer and mercifully the sun shines (Almost always it rains - this dates back to at least 1997 our first and wettest summer in Great Britain). Yesterday kicks off in front of cartoons, pictured, while Sonnet prepares waffles and scrambled eggs,comme toujours dessus dimanche. Saturday was spent doing serious yard-work while the kids took care of the potted plants purchased at the nearby nursery. I'm a bit sore from all the bending over - middle age, no doubt. NB, favorite cartoons are Spongebob Square Pants, Powder Puff Girls and various gross-outs which I've never heard of before but they can name character for character. Where do they pick it up, I wonder?
Eitan wears his new football sweat pants, lads style. I order him to put on shorts (hot weather). He refuses adamently, stating: "I am myself, dad!"
Friday, August 24
Photo taken by Moe on the porch of 1860 San Ramon, Berkeley. In the basement of the house, which I vaguely recall, Moe built a dark-room complete with chemicals, clocks and an enlarger to complete prints started with his Nikon F2 - the first camera to have a built-in light metering system which he purchased in Tokyo in '64 travelling with Grace after the Peace Corps. Interestingly, the b&w has two thumb tack holes so this shot was on display somewhere in the house.
Sonnet and I celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary today and the best decision I ever made. We were engaged in San Francisco in '95 shortly before I left California for New York and business school - that was a hard trip. Sonnet joined me three months later with her cat, and we haven't been apart since (me and Sonnet that is - the cat is in North Carolina somewhere). Sonnet supported us in NY working at Ann Taylor which also gave her a lovely and endless supply of new shoes. I studied away, made some good friends and was graduated in 1997. We then travelled Central Asia and the Karakorum Highway with Katie and prof. Ray Horton landing in London for Sonnet's graduate work at the Courdault Art Institute and many years with the V&A. Then: an investing job, the Internet, millions, kids, no job, no money and now Trailhead Capital. Life has been good all the way, baby.
Thursday, August 23
Here's a classic taken on the 80th floor of the Empire State Building. Eitan refused to make a funny face leaving me holding the bag.
We got back yesterday morning after an eventless flight - in fact, the kids slept five hours and very proud of themselves. We're greeted at Observatory by Natasha, our new afternoon care-taker, and Sonnet and I ditch to go for a lap-swim and lunch at the Petersham Cafe, which is fabulous and unexpected. It is one of Richmond's best and only open in the mornings and for lunch due to noise restrictions in the area. Everybody to bed by 8PM and Sonnet falls asleep reading the bed-time story.
Madeleine: "I can't wait to be in my own bed!"
Wednesday, August 22
We arrive safely to... rain! of course. Apparently the UK has seen about six good days of weather since we left mid-July. While bad for us, it is good news for some slimy creatures and the BBC reports that the wet cool weather is optimal for slugs who now may number 15 billion (photo from the WWW). That's 161, 290 per square mile. As one gardner says: "I'm a bit cruel when it comes to slugs. I chop them in two with a shovel." Of course this being England, the BBC will most certainly receive heated messages from the animal-rights quackos. This allows for a nice segue to London's most recent WWII memorial on Park Lane, honouring the fallen animals with the caption: "They did not have a choice." No shit mister. Neither did the soldier who charged Omaha or fought to save Stalingrad. Who are these people?
I photo the TWA Flight Center on the way out. The center, designed by Eero Saarine, was the original name for Terminal 5 at Idlewild Airport — now named the John F. Kennedy International Airport — for Trans World Airlines. The terminal was groovy with wide interior glass windows that opened onto parked TWA jets; departing passengers walked to planes through round, red-carpeted tubes (think: 2001 Space Odyssey). It was a far different structure and form than Saarinen's design for the current main terminal of Washington Dulles, which utilized mobile to take passengers to airplanes.
Design of the terminal was awarded to Detroit-based Saarinen and Associates and completed in 1962 and is today a National Historic Landmark. The building was the first airline terminal to have closed circuit television, a central p/a system, baggage carousels, an electronic schedule board and precursors to the now ubiquitous baggage weigh-in scales. JFK was rare in the airport industry for having company owned and designed terminals; other airline terminals were built by Eastern Airlines and American.
Following American Airlines' buyout of TWA in 2001, Terminal 5 went out of service. The Port Authority has proposed converting the main portion of the building into a restaurant and conference center, but some architectural critics opposed this move.
Tuesday, August 21
Here is our return forecast, for those-in-the-care. Note the clouds by London - but finger's crossed we have the wettest behind us. And what a miserable summer it has been weather-wise for the Brits. Record rain-falls, flash floods, river breeches... It ain't California, that is for sure.
It is fair to say that the kids love water. Any day - like today - that has a pool is A-OK. They've been in lessons since age 2 and are not afraid of the deep-end. Devon and Eitan in fact swam laps. I have Grand Visions of Madeleine swimming the 200m butterfly a la Olympic champion Mary T Maegher (a Cal grad). I recall her '81 US Senior Nationals in Wisconsin where Maegher set world records in the 200 and 100 meter butterfly. The times for both records were considered astonishing, especially the 100m of 57.93 seconds which was the first time a woman was under 59 second for the distance. Both records stood for nearly two decades until the 100 was broken by Jenny Thompson in 1999 and the 200 by Susie O'Niel of Australia in 2006.
Our plane leaves JFK at 2020 arrving UK time tomorrow morning - groan. I ask the back-seat kids what they look forward to about their return to London. In unison they: "Nothing!" Yes, summer's end is a hard-knock but at least they have school and homework to look forward to.
Monday, August 20
Eitan and Madeleine pose for what may or may not be our Xmas photo (since this is not the Philip Johnson house and instead somebody's backyard where we are trespassing - hello! - the holiday allure is dead). We are greeted this afternoon by Marcia who has returned from Vermont. The easy plan for tonight is pizza take-away and television. Bedtime will be early.
We say our farewells this morning and hit the road for Bronxville and our last night in America. Sonnet suggests that we visit Philip Johnson's Glass House, an early work of his in New Canaan, Connecticut. Irritatingly, the $25 per person tours are booked solid for '07 and '08 and the in-town visitor center won't give us the address so I beg directions from a taxi who eventually tows us to a place which turns out not to be The Glass House but I take this photo of the imposter anyway. Beforehand, we have lunch on the cute little High Street and watch perfectly groomed mums, their nannies and totally hot, manicured teenagers wearing prada or La Coste moving along in packs. It turns heads, or at least mine anyway. I don't think I would last more than two hours in a place like this. At Starbucks, I comment to the cashier that New Canaan takes itself seriously to which he replies: "yeah, man, and you don't know the half of it." As I'm being served my dry, grande, light capocino a wistful mother-with-baby asks about moving to London. Grass is always greener, they say.
FYI - THIS is The Glass House which was probably 100 feet from us. So it goes.
That's me in front of the West Cornwall Covered Bridge in Cornwall, Connecticut. Litchfield County. The bridge was built in 1864 and crosses the Houstatonic River. It was not featured in "The Bridges of Madison County," Thank God. Nor does it have anything to do with Cornwall, England, which is the county farthest Southwest of our beloved Britain and home of famously named Land's End. It IS a lovely red bridge which has been servicing traffic, one way, for a long time and drawing tourists to the charming nearby town all year but especially autumn. Otherwise, Amado and I play our second game of tennis, which he wins 6-1 (my yesterday defeat: 6-0). Still, it is good to hold a racket a sunny Sunday. We end the afternoon swimming some laps at the club's 25 meter pool which prepares us for a final family dinner together on this visit. Rob, Sloan, Mary and I stay up late gossiping, googling people and dreaming of things to come and next togethers.
I ask Madeleine if she notices anything different (I've shaved my moustache). She: "Do you have new glasses?"
Madeleine in the SUV pipes up several times: "Daddy has new glasses!"
Mary and Devon and Simon. Devon, the older one, has turned eight and Eitan looks up to him for all that he is - and especially his age. Devon plays football (check), is on the ski team (check check) and lives in New York City (check! check! check!). Simon bops in and out and the boys amuse themselves by "hiding" from us during our walk. Devon and Simon attend a primary school for Columbia profs where Amado teaches maths to 13 and 14 year-olds. He is well respected and serves as a confident, I understand. Without doubt those kids are in good hands.
Mary, Sonnet, Devon, Eitan, Simon and I walk the Pine Nob trail, which is a small piece of the Appalachian trail, which is over 2000 miles (3,200 km) long on the Eastern Seaboard extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. Along the way, the trail also passes through North Caroline, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. The trail was conceived by Benton MacKaye, a forester who wrote his original plan shortly after the death of his wife in 1921. MacKaye's Utopian idea detailed a grand trail that would connect a series of farms and wilderness work/study camps for city-dwellers. Our chunk is uphill for about two miles offering us a lovely view of the green leafed Berkshires (come back in four weeks and the colours do their famous change). We have p&j's and eat gorp before finishing up on an earned downward slope.
My photo of a mushroom (I think) on an oak. This was the only formation I saw like this today
Sunday, August 19
I take this photo the only moment the kids are without motion - watching "Spirited Away". The first night, all share a bedroom with double-bunk beds and lay away mattresses making for a Late Night. There is too much energy to go around and at least half the crew chattering away at midnight despite threats and extortions. The adults, for that matter, are not too much better off and happily lubed with adult drinks and conversation (I groan at the morning after). The order from left to right: Devon, Jaimes, Sophie, Simon, Maya, Madeleine and Eitan. There has been a little jockeying between ages and sometimes a younger kid or opposite sex is (purposefully) left out but overall they entertain themselves nicely and with good compromise and cheer. It is fun to observe their size and change plus we have a good few years before they are teenagers.
On Sloan's marriage to Rob: somehow I am blamed for a sloppy attack he made on her at a black tie ball... but that is for another story and anyway I am happy to be a part of the legend. Sloan's Sextant Partners now employs 60 people while she remains one of the top-producing partners - this while cutting back her practice to one client. The girls immediately head out for an afternoon run and I await her mint cocktail martinis.
We arrive Friday at Mary and Amado's house on Woodridge Lake not far from Litchfield and less than two hours from the Upper West Side door-to-door. Eitan and Madeleine peel out of the car to hug Devon, Simon and Maya who they last saw in Paris. Stories of the four hour line to the Eiffel Tower are gleefully recalled then an afternoon free-for-all takes place in the backyard. Adding to the excitement is the arrival of the Sloan and Rob, who flew in Thursday with their team. Sophie and Jaimes join in the melee while us adults grin at each other and our kids. Our afternoon is spent catching up, jogging, canoing, dining and drinking vodka cocktails and beer. Rob has a go on the jumper - pictured.
Rob and I spend some afternoon discussing college football. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio, so the Buckeyes are a Big Deal - he frequently joins his friends at College Bend to see the important games. The Bears are ranked a place or two ahead of Ohio State in the pre-season polls and about ten below USC who again is #1 (ho-hum)
Friday, August 17
I buy three Hackey Sacks for Eitan and Madeleine - the third is back-up for the Inevitable Loss followed by the Inevitable Tears. Eitan understands that Hackey is a good practice for football and he becomes obsessed with getting the moves right, arguing with me and Madeleine on the best technique. Madeleine goes along for the ride happy to be doing what Eitan is doing (much to Eitan's discontent). Any case, I recall Hackey from about the 10th grade circa 1982, when Ivor Brown and a crew of malcontents picked up the game. Ivor quickly dropped the sport to pursue other Ivy League enriched activities like water polo to get in to Brown but there you have it. For me, I pick up the game for the first time now and suggest to Sonnet that this may be better than an evening martini and television - she chortles. We prepare our departure from Vermont momentarily and I sneak in this last blog from here.
World record for hackey sack consecutive kicks is held by Ted Martin with 63,326, accomplished over 8 hours, 50 minutes and 42 seconds on June 14, 1997 at the Midwest Regionals in Chicago, Illinois. He was totally stoked!!
Thursday, August 16
We go to a local working farm to see the pigs, roosters, horses and baby sheep which has Madeleine going "awwww" (I resist the urge to connect chops and bacon). Eitan is not into the scene and lallygags. "I hate this place" he groans. I think it is also likely that he is jonesing from a sugar high: blueberry pie for breakfast and chocolate cake with chocolate chip cookies after lunch. Ah, the holiday will come to a painful end next week. From the farm we head for the swimming hole then pizza dinner. Everybody is tired so we take the edge off with a Disney movie - the same one from yesterday and the day before. But hey, for Eitann and Madeleine - repetition is insight. For us: two hours bliss.
A quick read on London's weather: 55 degrees and rain. Bunk.
A quick game of Buggo is played this morning before clean-up, swim and my parent's departure. The object of the game, I think, is to match the insects and get the most pairs. In the background is a human skeleton - one of mom's mind-friendly presents. Madeleine's stripey night-gown once belonged to Sonnet when she was a kiddie growing up in Alaska - go figure. BTW the kids are so sick of my camera that the going rate for a posed photo is $2, up from (an undefined) "treat" or $1 in Colorado.
Me: "Do you know why we put on sun tan lotion?"
Eitan: "So you don't get a tan?"
A very sad Eitan on everybody's departure: "It is going to be sooo boring."
Sonnet and Gracie's pie from last night. The recipe includes blueberries, sugar, lemon, lemon zest, cinnamon and corn starch. The pie crust is Crisco, butter, flour, salt and sugar. Grace notes that the recipe comes from Mother Manning's (my Great Grandmother) "Fanny Farmer's Cook Book." It goes especially well with morning coffee.
Katie's friend Cara from the Columbia International Affairs school arrives last night for dinner and a stay-over. Cara lives in Burlington and consults world organisations like UNDP and CARE on their H.I.V. policies to eradicate the horrible disease. Gracie, Moe and Katie return to New York today leaving us by ourselves for the first time in a month. Wow. Tomorrow we drive to Connecticut to visit Mary and Amado's lake house and to see their kids Devon, Simon and Maya - a Paris re-union! Rob and Sloan will join us from San Francisco and everybody is way excited for the weekend.
I ask Eitan if he wants blueberry pie for breakfast. He, bug-eyed: "really?"
Madeleine goes the extra yard: "can I have chocolate cake too?"
"It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten a mongoose, because he is eaten up from his nose to tail with curiosity."
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, by Kipling
Pre-Spider Man and the Hulk, which I collected with madness, I recall the Fabulous Freak Brothers found in the back-bin of Berkely's North Side book store which sadly closed in the early '80s. (Sonnet and I watched American Splendour last night about R Crumb's contemporary Harvey Pekar). Freddy was a creation from the late 1960s during a time of free love, Vietnam War protests, Berkeley marches and underground comix. The spelling of 'comix' instead of 'comics' helped differentiate them from the mainstream comic books available. The 'x' also warned the reader that contents was sometimes adult-oriented. From the off-campus book store I found "The Adventures of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers." Created by Gilbert Shelton, it featured three brothers: Phinneas, Freewheelin' Franklin and Fat Freddie, the '60s equivalent of the Three Stooges. The brothers were usually found in some form of wacky hijinx, chasing girls or running from the 'fuzz.' Fat Freddy Freekowtski had a tom cat, known as 'Fat Freddy's Cat,' who became a regularly featured character in the series. Fat Freddy often forgot to feed the cat, who would then eat his weed, shit in his boots or cat-claw the water bed. I'm pretty sure Grace was unaware that I was sneaking reads and hoping for tits (and utterly clueless about marijuana but curious too). Those were good times to be in Berkeley, a promise eventually fulfilled in the public school system-- but that's for another day.
Wednesday, August 15
Eitan takes a leap from a relatively small craig at the marble quarry. About Vermont: the state ranks 45th by total area, and 43rd by land area at 9,250 square miles, and has a population of 608,827, making it the second least populous state second only to Wyoming. VT is the only New England state with no coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and is further notable for the Green Mountains in the west and Lake Champlain the northwest. I have yet to see a black person or a person of any colour while the locals are hearty and just like those in Colorado: beer drink'n and reds smok'n (overheard at the quarry: "her nickname is Peter Pan b/c she is got so drunk she peed 'er pants" ie, Peter Pan- get it?). It's a beautiful place - more so in autumn for sure - and we are happy to be here taking it all in. Willie Nelson sings as I write and the naked kids play nearby with their buddies.
I stay up late - 1030PM - to watch Riding Giants, a tale of surfing the Big Waves of Hawaii and Northern California from riders Greg Noll, Jeff Clark (who surfed Mavericks in Norcal 15 years before they were "discovered" in 1991) to icon Laird Hamilton who caught the perfect wave in Teahupoo, French Polynesia - a once-in-a-100 years wave that was thought un-surfable and on film for posterity. The sport has evolved from the early, heady days of beach-bumming in the '50s and '60s to sophisticated tow-and-drop operations allowing surfers to ride smaller boards and 60 foot drops. Legendary spots include Jaws' at Peahi, Maui; The Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay - all North Shore; and of course Teahupoo. For me, I fondly recall expeditions up the Highway 1 where Dan, Adam and others would walk through cabbage and broccoli fields to skinny down cliffs for the breaks at Four Mile and Three Mile points (Danny wrote a book, "Caught Inside," about this). Sitting in black-ink, 60 degree salt water in a kelp bed often surrounded by fog at the dawn allows for some contemplation of nature or one's loneliness. But then the rollers come in obliterating life's worries replaced by movement and joy. Amen.
Photo of Twiggy Baker at Mavericks by Tom Cozad, Newport Beach.
Susan's Joey Jr will turn one September 14 and is a baby otherwise in motion. He loves crawling around and grabbing anything that moves and small enough for his mouth. He's also into stairs and coffee tables, where he will spend the morning walking round. I'm not the first to suggest that not all babies are cute - but man Joey is cute. It is also nice to see the love affair between baby and mum.
Sonnet makes blueberry pancakes using the blueberries picked yesterday at a berry farm. Blueberries grow on shrubs and are native to North America, Asia, and Northern Europe. I learn that Beginning in 2005, blueberries have been discussed among a category of funcitional foods called superfruits having the favorable combination o nutrient richness, antioxidant strength, emerging research evidence for health benefits and versatility for manufacturing popular consumer products. Anyway, we have enough for another month if not year. The kids want to take them back to London.
Tuesday, August 14
Grace brings a large duffel full of toys to celebrate the kids February and September birthdays. She also makes a Big Cake complete with new year wishes. Before presents, the kids are asked to seek out clues leading to the treasure - which they tear open with abandon. On offer are Tonka Toys, the Solar System model kit, construction magnets, erector sets and more. Madeleine says she loves her "boy toys" (we say: for boys AND girls) and the afternoon is made.
After my two hour nap, Sonnet and I go to the Vermont outlets (J Crew, Barberry, Banana Republic etc etc) for some retail therapy. She has spent the afternoon making her turkey chili, whose recipe has travelled with us from London. Perfect for ten people and yum! Eitan feels cheated because we don't make it to the swimming quarry but is compensated with a Disney movie . They skinny dip as I write this.
The Lee's house was built in the 1940s on Marble Mill Pond whose water powered the turbine to cut the rock. Larry's vision has turned the mill into a jewel with a living room surrounded by trees, water, river and light. There is not a dull moment as the overhead sun changes the vistas and white stone while the grassy greens offer a lovely contrast for croquette or kids. Bravo.
We spend the afternoon at the first commercial quarry in America - Dorset Quarry - opened by Issac Underhill in 1785. The Dig was the town's attraction and main interest for 130 years. Eventually, the Dorset Quarry struck H2O filling the 150 foot deep with cold spring water. Today, the quarry's walls present sharp cliffs for thrill seekers who dive 30 or 40 feet. Not I nor Eitan, who steadfastly refuses to go anywhere near those local teenagers.
"Goodbye, good riddance."
on Karl Rove's departure
Monday, August 13
Dad at the crack of dawn. We lounge around talking about Trailhead Capital, clients and Europe. Moe is handling his parkinson's with class and his mind is straight and clear. From breakfast, he and most of the family head out for a walk (Sonnet goes for a run) while Katie and Grace read their magazines and I doodle away on this blog. Ho hum. Today, should it arrive, may include shopping, tennis, swimming or none of the above.
Eitan occupies himself this morning doing his sums on a plane white piece of paper. He tells Gracie that he is very sad "because I cannot watch television but Madeleine can." When asked why, he say: "Madeleine hit me so I hit her back but daddy only saw me."
I ask Madeleine if she has a lady bird in her hand.
She: "No, it is a dead centipede."
Me: "Oh. What are you going to do with it?"
She: "Bury it of course."
I'm up at 0500 during the false dawn when I take this photo from the pier outside the living room. The house is asleep and I try to find Diane on Fox News but am not able to work the satellite dish. Instead I do some stretching and have a swim. Moe putters around making coffee and then Joey and Susan rise for his early feed. Madeleine snores away next to her brother.
After a four hour drive we arrive at Marcia and Larry's Vermont house in Dorset and Eitan strips clean to take a dive. The red house has been in the Lee family since 1987 and is located on a secluded pond which cascades over a water-fall into a pool for dipping. There are ducks and beavers. In its commercial day, the property was a mill whose blades turned with the water. From the living room where I write (wi-fi!) I see the ridgeway, pond, distant blue mountains and dam covered by an arching cedar bridge. The rushing water is soothing and ideal for looking and sleeping
My photo taken on 43rd next to Grand Central Station. Standing 1,046 feet (319 meters) high, it was briefly the world's tallest building before it was overtaken by the Empire State Building in 1931. It still remains the worlds tallest brick building to this day. After the destruction of the World Trade Center, it is again the second tallest building in New York City.
The Chrysler Building was designed by architect William Van Alen to house the Chrysler Coporation. When the ground breaking occurred on September 19, 1928, there was an intense competition in NYC to build the world's tallest skyscraper. Despite a frantic pace (the building was erected at an average rate of four floors per week), no workers died during the construction of this skyscraper.
Prior to its completion, the building stood about even with a rival project at 40 Wall Street designed by H. Craig Severance. Severance increased the height of his project and then publicly claimed the title of the world's tallest building (this distinction excluded structures that were not fully habitable, such as the Eiffel Tower). In response, Van Alen obtained permission for a 125 foot (58.4 meters) long spire and had it secretly constructed inside the frame of the building. On October 23, 1929, the spire was hoisted onto the top of the building in about 90 minutes. Like the building's cap, it is clad with silvery "Enduro KA-2" metal, an austenitic stainless steel developed inGermany by Krupp and marketed under the trade name "Nirosta".
At the time of completion, the added height of the spire allowed the Chrysler Building to surpass 40 Wall Street as the tallest building in the world and the Eiffel Tower as the tallest structure. It was the first man-made structure to stand taller than 1,000 feet (305 meters). Van Alen's satisfaction in these accomplishments was likely muted by Walter Chrysler's later refusal to pay the balance of his architectural fee. In less than a year after it opened to the public on May 27, 1930, the Chrysler Building was surpassed in height by the Empire State Building.
Well here we all are on the lower tip of Manhattan. It's a lot of DNA, which includes from left to right, me, Larry, Susan, Joe, Baby Joey, Eitan, Diane, Diane's new boyfriend Kenny (former Abercrombie & Fitch model and now geologist) and Katie's new boyfriend Jeremy (former world traveller and now Asian Expert, Deloittes), Katie, Madeleine, Sonnet, Grace and Marcia. Our evening ends at the Oyster Bar (again) then Bronxville and bed by 10PM - or the same hour Katie and Jeremy hit the Blue Note in the West Village to see jazz legend Charlie Hayden. Woo Hoo!
Susan Lee on her bowl of ice cream: "I need this like a hole in my head."
Joey, here pictured with his creator Susan, will turn One in September. How time flies. His father Joe (and grandfather Joe and great-grandfather Joe) spends the weekend with us - otherwise, Joe has taken over the family business in South Carolina, which is now in its fifth generation. Joey is one cute kid and always has a smile or a cheerful goo-ga for us adults who ourselves are goo'ing and ga'ing. Since Thursday I have not heard the kid complain or cry once. This makes me think that Sonnet and I were derelect.
Tonight Madeleine happily tells the dinner table how "when I was two or three I took a black marker from Daddy's office and scribbled on the walls and on the bed and on the furniture and on the lamp. And when daddy found me, he said: 'stop that! that's my pen!' and chased me around the room."
Did you know that the "Big Apple" is a nickname or alternate toponym for NYC used by New Yorkers since the 1970s? The name comes from a promotional campaign by the New York Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Its earlier origins are less clear.
One explanation cited by the New York Historical Society and others is that it was first popularized by John Fitz Gerald, who first used it in his horse racing column in the New York Morning Telegraph in 1921, then further explaining its origins in his February 1924 column. Fitz Gerald credited African American stable-hands working at horseracing tracks in New Orleans: "The Big Apple. The dream of every lad that ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred and the goal of all horsemen. There's only one Big Apple. That's New York.'
Sunday, August 12
Here is my cousin Diane - pictured. Diane has always sought the public eye and her talent was obvious from Day One when her lungs filled with air and let out a scream. I recall seeing her in the leading role in Anything Goes performed at Bronxville High circa 1991. In HS she was selected to the NY Girls State and played Varsity field hockey for three years. After Bronxville, Diane attended the Medil School of Journalism of Northwestern University. Today, she is the morning co-anchor for Fox News in Albany covering 0500 to 0830h (yes, that is the AM). The market is (guessing) 500,000 people and her day begins at 1AM.