Here is Natasha's dog - no surprise the kids have fallen in love with her especially Madeleine who has been begging for a pet for - like -ev - er. Alphie is six months and will get a lot bigger then this.
Obama's DNC speech has been well covered in Britain, finding the front page of several newspapers. He is regarded as America's savior - or at least a friend to Europe. By contrast, when McCain visited London in March for a fundraiser I recall his meeting Super Gee as awkward, but then again - Gordon Brown is awkward. PM-in-waiting, Tory David Cameron, kissed McCain's ass - they seemed attached at the hip. I was not in London more recently when Obama was here in July, but it is fair to say he has this and other European cities enthralled - especially France who hate George Bush, mon Dieu! Il est une merde. Obama has it about right that the United States needs the Europeans to take on the Ruskies and China and global-warming, something the Bush administration has failed to do with gusto. I just cannot imagine "Old Europe" and especially the younger generation here embracing McC... he is, well, too old - put bluntly.
Friday, August 29
Obama's got our attention. I watched his last night's speech on YouTube and thought it direct and efficient- clearly he is going on the attack after waiting many months. A nice strategy. Obama speaks a bit like a preacher with similar hi and low-tones, emphasizing a point on a down-swing (usually it is the other way around). Also he places short and barely noticeable pauses between words giving them greater strength. Here are some key notes:
“It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care. It’s because John McCain doesn’t get it.”
“America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.”
“You know, John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won’t even follow him to the cave where he lives”
"Next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Chaney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight. On Nov. 4, we must stand up and say: ‘Eight is enough.’ ”
“We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job — an economy that honors the dignity of work.”
And here is John McCain's response:
“Tonight, Americans witnessed a misleading speech that was so fundamentally at odds with the meager record of Barack Obama."
Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for McCain.
Thursday, August 28
Madeleine contemplates. Do note her "buddy" placed purposefully in the photograph.
From the airport the other day, I meet a Pakistani (who I will call Iqbal) and we discuss the Punjab and being a foreigner in the UK, which he has been for thirty years. Iqbal has strong features BTW and a large mustache - like our famous Jauquab Shaw. Iqbal moved to the England to earn a better life and repatriate funds - which is common - and eventually moving his wife to London. He has two children, born here, who attend University; he has extended family in Asia Minor. Iqbal and his family spend several weeks to several months in Pakistan each year, and he informs me that he believes himself "to be Pakistani-British" while his children are "British Muslim." They wear jeans and trainers to school or outside but in home they are mindful of the family customs including how they dress "though sometimes they do not care" he says. The Punjab BTW a region between India and Pakistan where the "Five Rivers" meet: Beas, Ravi, Sutlex, Chenab and Jhelum which are each tributaries to "the mighty" Indus. It is also a religious cross-roads for Sikhism, Hinduism and Islam. Iqbal tells me that people "get along and are happy" in this region despite religious differences, and further: there are more muslims in India than Pakistan and a large Hindu population in Pakistan. His greatest lament is "the younger generation" who no longer listen to their elders. "We muslims respect others and our world. We are not selfish, we do not do only for ourselves. The youngsters today have a different view." I ask him about sex, drugs and rock and roll, and Iqbal says "we are in Pakistan each year so our children know what are values." And how do they feel about attending Western Universities? "Well, they are now British. Pakistani, for sure. But British too."
Wednesday, August 27
"SEXY Keeley proves she’s a golden girl.
The gorgeous Page 3 babe was spray painted to mark our British Olympic heroes' success at the Beijing Games.
The Team GB athletes returned home yesterday after they shined at the games – winning an amazing 19 gold medals.
Our winners included triple gold-winning cyclist Chris Hoy and double gold winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington.
Keeley, from Bromley, Kent, said: "To go to the Olympics and win so many golds was brilliant. All our athletes have made the nation feel great again.
"And it was made even sweeter because we finished so far ahead of the Australians. It really was a 24-carat gold achievement."
There are many things I missed during our summer away and Fleet Street one of them. Today, the newspaper that brought us the Max Nazi Race Cars Orgy reports that underwear model Katie Green, pictured (photo News Of The World) once modeled, well, without underwear. Surprise! Katie recently signed "up" (ar ar- get it?) with Wonderbra and me thinks the brand would have googled her at least once - go on, do it yourself Dad. One quickly finds the scandalous hot-tub pics with two other bare skinned women. The News Of The World was so outraged that they forgot to "censor" one of three photos that appeared in today's "journal." It is good to be home.
Fleet Street is fun and a diversion similar to Marx's religion, oh brother. Also reported in today's rags: A) the average house price in England and Wales over $350,000 requiring two years salary to equal a down-payment; B) Britain set to be Europe's most crowded nation as immigrants swell population to 77 million within two generations; C) Government loses another 2 million account records and data including signatures and D) Medvedev announces Russia prepared for another Cold War. Oh, and Manchester United loses to Porchester and has yet to win a game in the Premiereship's early season.
Eitan jet lagged and up at 1AM again (Madeleine sleeps right through - 12+ hours each night, so far): "I am sooo bored" and "maybe the sun is coming up soon?" He ponders this last thought with Sonnet.
Tuesday, August 26
Autumn officially arrives with football season and when, perhaps, I miss the US the most. Especially Game Day at Memorial Stadium when, for us Bear fans, hope mourns eternal. We kick off against Michigan State this Saturday.
While on sports: Paula Radcliffe finished 23rd in the Olympics marathon despite owning the World Record by over three and one half minutes (2:15.25 at London, 2003) making her one of the the greatest athletes ever. She has won many world-class competitions including The Wold Championships (marathon, '05), Commonwealth Games (5,000 meters, '02); World Cross Country Championships (01' and '02)+marathon victories (NYC 3X, London 2X and Chicago). Unfortunately this year Radcliffe had a stress fracture which threw off her training and delivered yet another agonising Games - tears and all - which has become familiar to the Brits, oh boy. I recall watching Radcliffe place out of the money in Sydney '00 in both her 5,000 and 10,000 meters, where she held a gutsy lead before being overtaken in the final 200 meters by the Africans. By Athens in '04, she switched to her specialty the marathon yet broke down and dropped out by mile 23. . Radcliffe is a well known sports figure in the UK but the general view is she must earn her status with Olympic Gold- silver or bronze simply won't do. Her visible grief has netted scorn from the nation which can do without the the emotion, thank you very much. In many ways the Brits are used to rooting for the under-achieving favorites: we have England Football, after all. The country's best graces come forward when their team is the underdog... and we still get trounced. I am aware of the symptoms, dear father, rooting for Cal since 1970.
This is why we love American football:
"When I see guys doing cartwheels in the end zone, I'd like to get out there, like we did in the old days, and see how many cartwheels they'd be doing then. When you got hurt, you didn't bury your head in the Astroturf and wait for cameras to focus on you so you could take off your helmet and run off the field. You dragged yourself off the field before giving your opponent the satisfaction of knowing you were hurt. I'm not sayin' football was better then, I'm just sayin' the attitude of the players was more to my liking."
Dick Butkus, Chicago Bears 1965-1973
Monday, August 25
Our flight leaves 8PM so we burn our last Denver afternoon at the movies - "Space Chimps." Yes, it is as awful as it sounds but the kids love it. At one point the chimps make bottom shaking movements and the movie theatre erupts, oh boy. I try to discretely read news-feeds or anything on my Blackberry.
We are at the airport watching my kids run amok - "Stop it!" comes quite naturally by now, Dear Reader. Eitan flies by on the moving escalator.
Madeleine on airplane food: "Is this food, dad?"
Madeleine requests, ad nauseum, for a "buddy" (stuffed animal). I tell her she will be in for it should she ask again. With fingers, she signs "b-u-d-d-y."
Sunday, August 24
The last day of this moving circus awaits: over-night return to London and the normal routine, whatever that means following this endless summer. We celebrate a gorgeous day by the pool until the kids scrape - I watch from the start to finish as they move from joyful play to annoyance to fisticuffs. In this instance, Madeleine throws the first timid slap then thrown-goggles, fists and finally Eitan twists Madeleine's swim suit until she screams murder and I am forced to put my book down. I order them banished from the water and each walk off in a huff. I return to our room to find Madeleine standing in the hall-way glaring. I remind her that she, in fact, raised the stakes by "going physical" (which she denies, of course). I think everybody tired and ready for their own bed after a fabulous family holiday.
Our hotel is poised and cocked with Demo greeters at reception. I greet them and we discuss politics - Denver is excited, oh boy. The last time the Rocky Mountains hosted a national political convention BTW was in 1908 when Denver held the DNC (despite the buzz and all, there is nothing more deserted than a hotel on a Sunday at mid-day when the sun is shining - which of course, Dear Reader, is where we are and trying to make a get-away). I learn that the convention brings >50,000 delegates, politicians, media and political enthusiasts and circus animals from, like, everywhere. The city has 38,000 hotel rooms with nearly 17,000 rooms held for convention week so presumabely some of these folks will shack up together. The lucky ones at least. The hottest ticket in town is Barack's acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium - the DNC received >60,000 ticket requests within 24 hours of their availability, according to the Denver Post. Bring it on, baby. Bring it on.
Barack and Joe, together at last (pic from the Chicago Tribune). Here is a quick web troll on Deleware's Roman Catholic Senior Senator:
"Currently in his sixth term in the Senate, Joe has served for the sixth-longest period among current senators (fourth among Democrats) and is Delaware's longest-serving senator. He is the chairman of the Foreing Relations Committee in the 110th Congress. Joe has served in that position in the past, and he has also served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Joe unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 1988. He again ran in 2008, but withdrew after the Iowa in January.
My close (conservative, Texas)friend Dale says: "optimistic for the first time this year." Dale sends me a NYT report from September 22, 1987, which I produce below in its entirety. This is what the Dems are up against - I mean, 1987?
Biden Admits Errors and Criticizes Latest Report
By E. J. DIONNE JR., SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES
LEAD: Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. issued a formal statement today acknowledging that he had misstated several facts about his past last April in a campaign appearance in New Hampshire.
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. issued a formal statement today acknowledging that he had misstated several facts about his past last April in a campaign appearance in New Hampshire.
But the Delaware Democrat insisted today, as he had Sunday night in an interview with The New York Times, that some of the disputed statements were true and that his misstatements were the product of a faulty memory and the fact that he lost his temper.
Mr. Biden, whose Presidential campaign has been shaken by news reports about his unattributed use of speeches from other politicians and a plagiarism incident while he was in law school, said in The Times interview that he was ''frustrated'' and ''angry as hell'' over the reports.
Mr. Biden was going through his political agony even as he presided over hearings tonight on the confirmation of Judge Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court. Exhausted top aides found their attention constantly torn between the crucial hearings and their principal's political future.
Intends to Stay in Race
Late tonight, for example, Mr. Biden called a meeting of his senior staff to discuss the effects of the recent developments on his campaign. But senior aides said they did not know if it would even take place as the Bork hearings dragged into the night. Although a high-level aide denied that Mr. Biden was contemplating withdrawing from the race, several Washington politicians here said they believed he was considering this possibility.
On Sunday night, Mr. Biden said emphatically that he intended to remain a candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination. ''I think if I can get by the next week, I can pull out of this if I can just get my story across,'' he said.
Most of Mr. Biden's statement was in response to a report in this week's issue of Newsweek magazine on a tape recording made by the C-SPAN network of an appearance by Mr. Biden at a home in Claremont, N.H., on April 3. It was a typical coffee-klatch style appearance before a small group. The network regularly records and broadcasts such events as part of its coverage of the Presidential campaign.
The tape, which was made available by C-SPAN in response to a reporter's request, showed a testy exchange in response to a question about his law school record from a man identified only as ''Frank.'' Mr. Biden looked at his questioner and said: ''I think I have a much higher I.Q. than you do.''
He then went on to say that he ''went to law school on a full academic scholarship - the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship,'' Mr. Biden said. He also said that he ''ended up in the top half'' of his class and won a prize in an international moot court competition. In college, Mr. Biden said in the appearance, he was ''the outstanding student in the political science department'' and ''graduated with three degrees from college.''
Comments on Assertions
In his statement today, Mr. Biden, who attended the Syracuse College of Law and graduated 76th in a class of 85, acknowledged: ''I did not graduate in the top half of my class at law school and my recollection of this was inacurate.''
As for receiving three degrees, Mr. Biden said: ''I graduated from the University of Delaware with a double major in history and political science. My reference to degrees at the Claremont event was intended to refer to these majors - I said 'three' and should have said 'two.' '' Mr. Biden received a single B.A. in history and political science.
''With regard to my being the outstanding student in the political science department,'' the statement went on. ''My name was put up for that award by David Ingersoll, who is still at the University of Delaware.''
In the Sunday interview, Mr. Biden said of his claim that he went to school on full academic scholarship: ''My recollection is - and I'd have to confirm this - but I don't recall paying any money to go to law school.'' Newsweek said Mr. Biden had gone to Syracuse ''on half scholarship based on financial need.''
Says He Also Received Grant
In his statement today, Mr. Biden did not directly dispute this, but said he received a scholarship from the Syracuse University College of Law ''based in part on academics'' as well as a grant from the Higher Education Scholarship Fund of the state of Delaware. He said the law school ''arranged for my first year's room and board by placing me as an assitant resident adviser in the undergraduate school.''
As for the moot court competition, Mr. Biden said he had won such a competition, with a partner, in Kingston, Ontario, on Dec. 12, 1967.
Mr. Biden acknowledged that in the testy exchange in New Hampshire, he had lost his temper. ''I exaggerate when I'm angry,'' Mr. Biden said, ''but I've never gone around telling people things that aren't true about me.'' Mr. Biden's questioner had made the query in a mild tone, but provoked an explosive response from Mr. Biden.
'Legitimate Questions of Press'
As for the continued, minute probing of his past, Mr. Biden told The Times: ''I guess every single word I've ever said is going to be dissected now.''
In his statement today Mr. Biden acknowledged that inevitability, saying:
''However trivial, I certainly believe these are legitimate questions of press inquiry. And I will be as responsive to these and other inquiries as I possibly can.''
Mr. Biden's campaign staff met this weekend in Wilmington, Del., in an effort to come up with a strategy in face of the building controversy. A senior adviser to the Biden campaign dismissed speculation that he would withdraw from the contest. ''Of course he's going to stay in,'' the adviser said, dismissing the recent reports on Mr. Biden as ''random press frenzy.''
The adviser said the latest troubles might ''free'' Mr. Biden to ''get into being himself'' and to campaign as an aggressive ''populist, anti-Establishment'' candidate and a defender of the interests of the American middle class.
Saturday, August 23
We make one last splash and dash before leaving Pueblo county which BTW bills itself as "the gateway to the Southwest." Sonnet and I roll our eyes but then, truth, Walsenberg is on HW25 which goes straight to Santa Fe. This area is popular with Texans for its altitude, skiing and forestry. But here we are now as I write - at La Quienta - a family style hotel in Denver on the eve of the Democratic convention. Unfortunately for us, the traffic is terrible and access to Denver's museums almost impossible, we are told by the hotel. The convention centre is across the street from the Libskand MOMA, which Sonnet and I would like to see. Barak chose Biden for his VEEP- a good second fiddle and qualified white guy for the elections. It would have been cool to have an all-black ticket - LeBron James anyone? Biden has raised something like $8MM to Obama's $102MM so far this year (and it is all about money) so it is clear who is and will be in the driver's seat. Biden brings on foreign policy experience I guess, though he voted against NAFTA which ain't good. He seems fiesty and willing to take the fight. I would have liked to see Virginia Gov Kaine or Senator Jim Webb, also VA, on the ticket - who can forget Webb telling Bush to more or less stick it up his ass when Bush asked about Webb's serving son? Ah, el Presidente - do you think the Ruskies care as they bed down in Georgia?
Madeleine waxes philosophic on our hotel (it is 2 hours past bedtime): "A desk. A computer. A boy with a big fat bum."
Eitan makes a new friend, in this case Arthur who is the son of Sabine, the brother of Paul who is the brother to Bridgette who is married to Shelton who is brother of Stan and father of Sonnet. Any case, Arthur is a "special needs" child - mainly, he is too smart of his public school and so causing stress for his parents. Public schools no doubt cater to the lower end which is unfair to the talented youngsters who otherwise might not have an outlet. But this is someone else's battle - oh boy, as I beg and cajole Madeleine to do her Kumon. She's like weeks behind ("I'll do five tomorrow, I promise" which makes me think of Popeye's Wimpy: "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.") I tell Madeleine if she does not get her asthmatics under control it will only get harder. Her reply: "It is not my fault, dad." Hmmm. Eitan is not Scot free either as I inform him he will feel the fool for not doing his summer-journal, as required, which rests, Dear Father, mostly blank. He rolls his eyes - "what me worry?" - but I am happy to report he opens the book sans bullying to do some writing. As today is officially the last day of holiday, he has a lot of remembering to do.
We have dinner this evening at a surprisingly good Italian near our hotel by the airport. It is Sopranos style, columns and all - a pianest plays on a stage with a movie screen back-drop of a fireplace and fire. Classic.
Bill and Martine host a BBQ at their ranch, and I am surrounded by a large number of Sonnet's family from everywhere. Sonnet's cousin Whitney, pictured with Tess and Thea, arrives Thursday to stay at the family cabin in Cuchara, where Beecher hosts at least 14 and I think 18 this weekend. I first met Whitney in London when their was only Eitan, and I recall walking the Grand Union Canal in Maida Vale not far from our then flat. She is a cool chick and a disciplined mother - I see similarities to Sonnet fer surz. Martine makes her famous beef brisket and onions, which are slopped on sandwich rolls with straight-up BBQ sauce. I have three of them. Also on offer - Bill grills shish-kabobs while the youngsters make ice-cream the good old fashion way with a crank. Meanwhile, Eitan and Madeleine get horse rides from Nugget and Honey, accompanied by Maire who surprises us with her visit from Denver. Maire was our first nanny, you see, bravely living with us when Eitan five-months and Sonnet back to work. She has a special style and is groovy with the kiddos who clearly adore her. I wonder if children imprint like ducks? Possibly maybe but regardless ours have good fixtures.
At Banana Republic Eitan bursts into tears: "I am sooo bored" (a handsome little boy is a sexy accoutrement or do I discover the obvious?)
Waiting for Sonnet at the mall I make the mistake of getting the kids a sugar cookie. They go mad and I am unable to contain them. A security officer directs them to "sit or leave!" Rest assured I keep mum.
The West Spanish Peak, pictured and nearby Le Vita Inn, is the higher of the two Spanish Peaks, two large igneous stocks which form an eastern outlier of the Culebra Range, a subrange of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Though not a fourteener, it is the twelfth most topographically prominent peak in the state.
Due to its position well east of the Culebra Range and on the edge of the eastern plains of Colorado, West Spanish Peak enjoys great local vertical relief in almost all directions. For example, it rises over 5,200 ft (1,585 m) in less than 4 miles on both its north and south flanks.
While the Spanish Peaks have the appearance of volcanic cones, they are actually stocks, remnants of an igneous batholith which formed underground around 25 million years ago. They are surrounded by radiating dikes, up to 14 miles long, made of the same material. This feature makes is unique and draws geologists from around the world. It ain't a bad place to spend some time.
Friday, August 22
I take an enthusiastic Eitan for a power-walk this morning, 0705h. The girls sleep (Sonnet set her watch alarm for 6AM to run but didn't happen).
I go to Frenchs Barbershop in Walsenberg while the kids at the water slides. Inside I ask the barber for the usual "number three" which, Dear Reader, any fellow will tell you is the number-three blade on an electric shaver. It is generally understood that such ratings are the same throughout the world. When I go to The Turks in Richmond I get the same cut each time - number three - and every time it is exactly the same. Number three. I have been chopped in Mayfair - number three - same. Tony's in Berkeley - same. Rockefeller Centre - same. In Colorado, however, The Three equals a razor shave and boy do I get it. The kids instantly crack up after reading my expression ("is dad pissed?" I can almost hear them think). Sonnet soothes: "Don't worry honey. It will grow back." And then worried: "when is your next meeting?" I tell Eitan he is lucky as By God the boy needs a haircut. We giggle that I look like a "French poodle, dad." Great.
Here is fishing pond at 7,500 feet, facing due-west.
Sonnet and I discuss Jon Edwards or rather, I give her my opinion and she listens. What is it with these middle aged men and their dicks? Women, it would seem to me, have different requirements from a relationship over time. They want love and validation in many various ways which is not necessarily sexual- in fact, I might suggest that this drive declines. Men, on the other hand, view middle-age as the last chance for a final hurrah. For youth itself. Many freak out and I ask the inevitable question: is this inevitable? What happens when something new presents itself following perhaps years of monogamy? Edwards, Clinton and just about every rock star I can think of provide an answer - balls in! There are two ways to avoid the temptation's nature: stay away from it and share it. With your partner. When it happens - as it will. It is when the communication stops that trouble begins. Luckily for us, I cannot not tell Sonnet everything which (indeed I appreciate) drives her crazy. But I think it also makes her feel loved, and needed. So on balance it is pretty good for both of us.
Strangely at a restaurant, Eitan orders soup for dinner. Madeleine orders a BLT - she had the same for lunch. If left to their devices, both kids would eat Fruit Loops until their end.
I am definately missing Michael Phelps. The Olympics pretty boring this second week, though Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh's gold in the beach volley-ball exciting. So is Jamaica Bolt's double WR in the 100 and 200m which is equally impressive to Phelps eight (well, not really). Jamaica Bolt could not have come at a better time for the sport, which seems as doped as the Tour de France. Marrion Jones really killed it for me - I trusted her skill, speed, poise and beauty and it turns out she was a Balco client who lied smiling. What a fraud. Of course the worst was likely Florence Griffith Joyner who in Seoul in '88 ran 10.49 in the 100m. Drugged up Marrion Jones clocked a 10.65 in '98 and nobody comes closer. Flo-Jo died age 39 and while she never tested positive her untimely death adds suspicion.
We stop by Bill and Martine's ranch and the horses gallop up to say "hello." The creatures give Madeleine a big sniff and I am certain they remember her. For Madeleine's part she is not shy- feeding them straw and grass and murmuring quietly to them. Bill gives her a few pellets and reminds us how to stroke the horse to make them feel comfortable. They are beautiful, well cared for animals. Both kids thrill to ride them.
We stay at the La Vita Inn which has not change a bit since last time - in fact, we are in the same room. There is a cozy bar and after dinner I head their to finish my wine and watch some Olympics. Madeleine stops by the check out the scene - me and other, ahem, alcoholics drinking Manhattans or whatever - and I of course tell her she is not allowed. Before my message actioned the bar-tender insists Madeleine stay: "I am co-owner of this joint" she says, and promptly serves Madeleine a fruit punch cocktail. This much to Madeleine's delight, no doubt. I get into some low-grade trouble when Madeleine bursts into our room (it is well past 9PM bedtime) announcing loudly: "I just had a drink at the bar!" Later, after the angels asleep, Sonnet suggests "a bar might not be appropriate for a six year old." Oh vey.
We see an old friend.
We visit a National Forrest Office to get a stamp for Madeleine's stamp-book. Alas, the National Forrest is not a National Park and so no imprint. Oh well. The ranger gives us a few good trail heads and notes that bears have been in nearby La Veta (the kids give each a worried check: hiking?!). I learn a few things about a bear: if spotted, do not run (this triggers their chase instinct); avoid eye-contact and talk softly to reassure the bear that no harm meant. Try to show no fear. I tell Madeleine if she runs, she must run faster then Eitan which elicits an ar-ar from the city-wise kids: is this the best dad can come up with? We have been in the US well over a month - family style, Dear Reader, fa-ma-lee style. I am able to get away with this thanks to mobile technology - my phone and Blackberry never off while our hotels have wi-fi. It is a mixed blessing: I can be with everybody while still getting stuff done yet being always-connected means it is hard to shut off. Even for an afternoon (though alcohol helps). Despite this aggravation the balance is well worth it. I would rather be here than an office. And I'm not going back to a bazillion emails.
How rich is rich, I wonder? McCain thinks $5,000,000 a year. Interesting as the per capita is about 40 grande. Property records reviewed by The Associated Press give McCain and Cindy at least eight homes: A ranch and two condos in Arizona; three condos in Coronado, Calif.; a condo in La Jolla, Calif.; and another in Arlington, Va. The number of houses is a bit trickier to determine since the ranch has at least four houses and a two-story cabin on it. Not a bad trade-up for the man. Not bad at all.
We plan our full day around the Walsenberg Water Slides and the kids press their faces against the car window to better see the yellow, red and blue tubes as we near the park. But calamity! Despite the perfect day - hot and blue skies - the park closed despite the hours: "10AM to 7PM, Seven Days A Week From Memorial Day to Labour Day." Rest assured it is 10:01AM when we arrive. Hope fades by noon and a grounds keeper tells us the the closure may be the result of school, which started today and stolen our life guards. It is a bust and the Little Shakespeares devastated and grumpy, taking out their irritation on each other and on us.
We stroll the Walsenburg High Street and have lunch at a caf complete with booths and a Formica counter, where we sit. The chairs green Naugahyde and well-worn, as they should be since this place has been here at least 40 years. The best part is the signage: "Alpine Rose Cafe" complete with over-sized light-bulbed arrow pointing to the inside (light-bulbs long dead). There are Denver Broncos schedules dating back to at least the early '90s and a signed John Elway poster: "To Rose," he writes smiling. Despite a few busy tables, there is one waitress and I ask her if she has help. "Yea" she replies "she's over at the court-house." Sonnet anticipates disaster and I'm thinking it will take an hour to get our food since the waitress also the cook. Yet we are surprised: the gal arrives carrying everything - four plates of food and our drinks - in ten minutes. We are impressed. Both kids have "a classic" BTW: she a BLT and he a steak-sandwich.
From the caf I go to the barber shop, who is "out to lunch 'til 1PM" but never returns. The barber has been here since 1977 and I imagine he was punctual his first three or four years. After that - why bother?
Thursday, August 21
We depart Santa Fe this morning and pull off HW160 for lunch in Las Vegas... Colorado (my photo driving to the Santa Fe Trail, a National Monument, but we chicken out due to the electrical storm). Las Vegas has a DQ and the kids go nuts for it - the only thing worth reporting, other than the cashier's wicked afro, is Eitan's hand which gets stuck between the car. And the car door. A nice guy runs into the gas station and brings a bag of ice for our little hero. Boy I looked into his eyes when it happened and I thought for sure we had the first bone-break in our young family - as a good doctor once told me, "every boy has at least one." Encouraging, for sure.
This morning Sonnet and I take advantage of Stan who minds the kids allowing us to stroll Canyon Road in Santa Fe. This is where the serious art is and the Stanfills knows most of the proprietors - in fact, Shelton bought three pieces the other day. We get some warm welcomes, naturally, and meet a retired curator of Frank Lloyd Wright, who lived in one of Wright's houses before moving to New Mexico "13 months ago and three days." He's excited to be here. We share thoughts on the V&A and London and he tells about Wright's ability to bend light and how this effects the "spirit and emotions of place." Pretty cool. I kick Sonnet to retrieve his card - afterall we considered an architectural tour of the US this year. It was to be this year but I think maybe not for another few or at least until Eitan and Madeleine can appreciate it. Or we send them to camp. Better.
Madeleine (a bit jealous): "Eitan didn't actually break his hand."
Eitan: "Can Michael Phelps beat Usain Bolt?" (Bolt sets World Records in the 100 and 200m at the Beijing Olympics)
Eitan: "Can Michael Phelps beat Auntie Katie?"
Madeleine and Eitan sit at the bar at the La Vita Inn. I tell them to keep quiet "or you will have to show your identification."
Madeleine: "What is that?"
I tell Madeleine one day she will be married and I will lose her forever. Says she matter-of-factly: "don't worry dad, I'll come and visit."
Madeleine on providing grand-kids one day: "Definitely one or two. But not three. Or four, Dad."
Wednesday, August 20
Here is Katie in a convertible in San Francisco. She is in the BA for meetings at Stanford. Go, girl.
We watch Obama's speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and even the kids are spell-bound. Obama offers a contrast to McCain's "I'll chase Osama Bin Ladin to the gates of hell" which got a standing ovation at the Saddleback - just what we need America. Obama's maternal grandfather served in WW2 BTW and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. Boy I'll bet those American Swift Boat scum would otherwise wish to do him in.
Tuesday, August 19
Photograph by Sonnet. There is a textiles wing at the Indian Museum and she buries herself for an hour or so while I tell the kids a story: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles battle Submarine Man who has caused an earthquake turning California into an island. From there, he drags the detached state to Carvagio at the bottom of the Pacific where he plans to enslave Californians and eventually use them in his attempt to conquer America. I am a genius. Any case, pictured is a Southwestern loom and beautiful in its simplicity. The amount of work that goes into a simple garment staggering then - yet as now, taken for granted I am sure. Sonnet takes photographs of the interesting tapestries, clothing and technologies for herself and colleagues at the V&A.
Eitan: "I'm so borrred." Repeat endlessly.
In back of the car, both kids repeat "chicken pie" over and over and over until I scream at them.
Eitan gets pretty pissed off when I suggest that he is DDG and he will get loads of smooches from the girls when a teenager. I then make kissing noises. This usually elicits a glare of sheer hatred: "Stop it Dad! That is not funny." Yes, these are the easy years in that regard.
We see the toy-museum on Museum Hill and it is fab. The exhibits are collected from every country and displayed in simple show boxes; they also cover different epoques. What is surprising (or perhaps least surprising?) is how similar the crafts - regardless of continent the themes of religion, community, war, family and farming hold true then and now.
We're tired after the morning and Sonnet picks up lunch from Whole Foods - the first healthy meal in like a month I think. Eitan is thrilled beyond belief to find ManU v. Newcastle on the tele - it is a taped game but so what? Heaven, My Dear Friend. Heaven.
Eitan is bored and I tell him to enjoy it. "How can I enjoy IT when IT is not enjoyable?" he asks.
I tell Eitan I will take him to the pool in a half-hour. He replies: "Aw, Dad! I cannot possibly wait that long!"
Another beautiful day in Santa Fe, another museum. This time we go to "museum hill" where we visit the Indian contemporary, which includes cultural items, a history of the geography and tribes and a retrospective on Indian comics - cool for many reasons but mainly because they give out DC and Marvel comics - the new ones too, with lots of bad-ass characters like Wolverine. The older issues I recognise from way-back when Berkeley's Telegraph Ave. had two comic book shops. The ancient 10¢ books had all kinds of stereotypes, surprise-surprise. The most offensive cover: "Indians Run Wild And This Is 1959!"picturing a touristy homey with his black camera strapped from his neck. He is tied to a totem pole and next to his wife who is hot and vulnerable. Arrows fly, boy. Arrows fly.
Santa Fe is a mixture of white trash, (rich)(white) retirees, monied tourists (white), the indigenous and the poor who are vaguely menacing. Ford trucks tail-gate regardless of your lane. The culture here is world-class for a small town and amazingly supports museums, crafts, fairs, dance and the opera too of course. Visitors feed the economy with their buying and the historic plaza takes advantage of our need to spend: we visit a cowboy chic shop and the French sales-woman comments on my "French shirt," an Izod, and then is surprised when I reply en francais justifying my Jr year exchange. She is from Paris and now here, lucky her. Sonnet exams a belt with a $2,400 price tag and we are assured "it is one of a kind." And one that will stay there, I assure her.
Eitan asks how long until we arrive? Again. And again. And again. Finally I counter: "if we are 40 miles from our destination and driving 40 miles per hour, how long do you think?"
It is beyond him. For now anyways. Sonnet meanwhile suggests that she learned eight times seven in the fifth grade.
Me: "What was your favorite thing in the museum?"
Madeleine: "I liked that thing with heaven and hell."
Me: "Do you understand what that means?"
She: "Hell is when you put pins in your eyeballs forever."
Bill is husband to Martine. He is also a horse whisperer - he has a gentle way with people and animals which is patient and calming. Bill and Martine's ranch in Le Veta is a highlight of our trips to Colorado and Madeleine especially has taken to their extended-family. Both kids follow the horses lives via the occasional update - this year 27 year-old Charlie passed away which brought tears to Madeleine's eyes. Bill and I discuss the Boléro - I am not sure I can get away with one in London but I love the look and am contemplating, Dear Reader. We enjoy Santa Fe yesterday and visit the IAIA to see the Fritz Sheldon exhibition. Sheldon a Native American trained in European techniques and encouraged to include his nations experiences. Not surprisingly it is dark and violent. It reminds me of German George Baslitz whose post WW2 abstracts capture the horror of his post-war country.
Eitan is insufferable this morning so we try something different: silent treatment. It works. Boy does it work.
Marcus goofs in front of ... ?
"Every July and August since 1957, opera lovers have been drawn to the magnificent northern New Mexico mountains to enjoy productions by one of America's premier summer opera festivals. Here, The Santa Fe Opera's dramatic adobe theater blends harmoniously with the high desert landscape. It is this fusion of nature and art that leaves such an enduring impression on all who come. More than half the audience of 85,000 comes from outside New Mexico, representing every state in the union as well as 25 to 30 foreign countries.
"More than 1,600 performances of nearly 140 different operas have been given here, including nine world premieres and 40 American premieres, among them Lulu, The Cunning Little Vixen, Capriccio, and Daphne. Recent premieres include the world premiere of Madame Mao, commissioned from Bright Sheng, in 2003, the premiere of the revised version of Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar, in 2005, the American premiere of Thomas Ades's The Tempest, in 2006, and the American premiere of Tan Dun's Tea: A Mirror of Soul in 2007. The 2008 season brings the American premiere of Adriana Mater by Kaija Saariaho, whose L'amour de loin received its American premiere here in 2002."
Stan and Silver have been attending since 1974 and have seen "oh, at least 50 operas since then."
We see The Marriage of Figero at the Santa Fe Opera, which has to be one of the most spectacular settings for such a thing in the world let alone Colorado. The hall is surrounded by mountains and faces the setting sun, which we watch through the pink and orange clouds.
I am hooked before Mozart's first note. Joining us are everybody - Shelton and Bill who with Stan unite the three brothers; Bill and Martine, Marcus and Brigitte. Before the performance we have dinner at Tom's adobe house - Tom, you see, is a now-retired Alaskan opthomologist who saved Marcus's life when Marcus had eye-cancer at age five or '73. He made sure that Marcus had the best care anywhere, at this time in Iowa, when radiation treatments were a novelty. After this, the performance superfluous. But sublime.
Monday, August 18
Eitan loses a tooth this AM while chomping on his Fruit Loops. It has been wiggling for some time and the blood surprises a few grannies sitting next to us - but really, it is all good. The boy happily boasts to anybody but mostly Madeleine that the Tooth Ferry "owes" him four bucks (we have a discussion about whether the Tooth Ferry should settle in pounds or dollars). His wrist-band BTW presented to him by an Ouray Life Guard for passing the "Deep End Test." Since I cannot remember his last bath - the band naturally stays on. His last hair cut in June. Maybe.
We leave Montrose saying good-bye to Katie and Mark. On the drive away we stop at the Blue Mesa Dam - pictured - which creates the largest body of water in Colorado and allows for places like Montrose to exist. A post tells us:
Dam Embankment: 3,100,000 CU YD
Reservoir Capacity: 941,000 AC FT
Height above river: 341 feet
Spillway Tunnel Diameter: 21 feet
Power Plant Output: 98 MW
Crest Length: 800 feet
The water is cold too - about 49 degrees - which compares to the Pacific's 60-62 (in these temps your nuts go into serious hiding even with a wet-suit). Still a water skier goes for it bothered only by the fisherman sitting idle in their boats. Not a bad life.
In Seguach, a small town of 500, we visit the local museum interesting because Chief Ouray spent his summers here so there is plenty of his history. Recall, Dear Reader, that Ouray was the Utes, who were moved from their territorial lands to Indian "reserves" in the 1850s; the brave Ouray went to Washington to be told of his people's humiliation. His and other treasures are housed in a white-wall built in 1851 by the earliest settler. Over time, it has served as a home, the blacksmiths, the local high school (until the 1940s) and finally the sheriff's office and jail until 1959. Arthur Packer, the infamous cannibal captured in 1891 and tried eventually in the state capital, stayed here before his transfer. Packer garnished at least six co-travelers on their way to gold in thar mountains. Today the old jail is open for viewing and Eitan and Madeleine have no problem closing themselves behind bolted doors. Frankly it gives me the creeps: two cells each hold bunk beds with light nor room to move. A crapper, in its own contained cell, rests outside the bunks. Prisoners whittled their names or "painted" images using matches on the walls which are visible clearly today. Cool. The children ask good questions and give it their interest, which make the elderly staffers feel good I think. Probably too cuz we are likely the only guests today and perhaps the weekend. Still it is a jewel.
We pull into Santa Fe this evening surviving mountain storms and Sonnet's driving. OK, her driving is not bad usually but I am cranky. We see Bill and Martine who stop by our hotel to say 'hello' and discuss horses; we then meet everybody for dinner including Brigitte and Shelton (Stan's brother) who retired several years ago but still Chairs the Telluride Film Festival, which he founded and begins next week-end. A committee of two select the films BTW and nobody knows what it will be, even Shelton, until the day.
Sunday, August 17
Here is the determination I have known since day-one. In this instance, applied to the jungle-gym but it could easily by Kumon (maths), the classroom, football &c. It is also applied to her brother who constantly rags her these days. I tell Madeleine that Eitan has her button, and after explaining what this means, I advise her the best solution is to ignore him. This is, like, totally impossible so instead they trade blows in the back of the car until somebody (me) screams bloody-hell. Yes, we are at that point in the holiday familiar to all vacationing families: we are about to kill each other.
I learn a cool thing today which I have always puzzled: why is Paris's Left Bank called, well, the Left Bank? It doesn't seem this way on a map, I mean really. The "right" and "left" are determined by the directional flow of the river. So the Left Bank is the left side of the Seine going with the flow.
More on The Gorge:
"We entered a gorge, remote from the sun.... where a rock splintered river roared and howled ten feet below the track.... There was a glory and a wonder and a mystery about the wild ride that I felt keenly." - Rudyard Kipling, 1889
"On August 14, 1882, the first train chugged through the Black Canyon. For the next 67 years, carloads of coal, ore and livestock, as well as passenger cars, traveled this route.
"Later, motor vehicle travel replaced rail service here. The tracks were removed in 1949, but the trestles and railbed remained. Tourists in automobiles drove the old railroad route to reach the superb fishing of the Gunnison River.
"Most of the rail bed has vanished under the rising waters of reservoirs created in the canyon. Today, the trail you've walked is all that's left of the railroad grade. But those who pause here may still feel the "glory, wonder and mystery" of this place as did rail passenger Kipling."
Sonnet gets the three-cheers for arranging our day trip which is now grafted to my brain. Way.
A postage tells us:
"Steep, deep and forbidding, the canyon in which you now stand has long inspired human awe and respect. Ute Indians probably avoided the gorge. Later travelers found it a challenging obstacle.
"Captain John Gunnison explored the are in 1853 His goal was to locate a possible transcontinental railroad route. His party found a chasm so imposing that he gave up his plan to follow the river into this canyon.
"Gunnison's name endures in this country, in spite of his expeditions failure to establish a railroad route. Over 30 years later, another group successfully surveyed the depths of this "Black Canyon of the Gunnison" for construction of the railroad"
Our Ranger Kirk is fabulous and he takes us into a canyon that eventually becomes the Crystal Reservoir or a river depth of ten feet to 240. Just upstream it is dammed again to form Morrow Point Reservoir and the Mesa Blue Reservoir. These reservoirs were formed to "reclaim" waters otherwise "wasted" in the Pacific, creating agriculture in otherwise desert land - Montrose receives less than 3 or 4 inches of water on average (an interesting side-note is that Tucson, AZ, uses one-third Montrose - this because they recycle their sewage and the future, My Dear). The reservoirs are the upper part of the Black Canyon which we know is one of the longest, narrowest, and deepest gorges in the world thank you very much. Below Crystal Dam it begins to roar through massive cataracts and flows through the deepest part of the gorge. It eventually empties into the Colorado near Grand Junction. It drops on average 43 feel per mile - which is more than the Mississippi over 1,000 miles.
Michael Phelps makes it eight! Wow !!
Saturday, August 16
At the Candy Store in Ouray the kids score a bowl of ice scream which is described as "one scoop" (I think the cashier has under-charged us, Dear Reader). Strollers are unable to resist a comment and one guy tells Eitan to put his face in it - which he does to everybody's glee including me, snapping away.
Meanwhile, Georgia falls apart as the Russians fail to honor Sarkozy's cease fire+a Russian general indicates Poland may receive a nuclear strike in return for hosting the US missle defense shield. As Madeleine Albright points out, a game-plan for the Caucusus should have been in place "for months" given the tension in the region. But el Presidente caught off guard - this time we know it is serious BTW as Bush shortens his summer holiday to deal with the crisis (who can forget Bush on vacation August in its entirety in 2001 and of course during Katrina). Yes, our frat-boy leader gets duped again by the foreseeable circumstance - recall his most famous love-in: "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul." George Bush has discredited an entire field of advanced study - all MBAs, including myself, are shamed.
Madeleine: "Do you think Michael Phelp's dog knows that he is a champion?"
We meet Katie and Mark in Ridgway- yes, our third time at the True Grit restaurant but it is between Ouray and Telluride so a convenient point de rendez-vous. Sonnet stays at her folks and the gathering of the Women That Lunch - Silver's book club. The gals are buzzy about London, the V and A AND fashion. Mon dieu - Sonnet has ticked every box and gives a small presentation while I am outta there with the kiddos. From the Grit, we head to the Ouray springs where we soak for like three hours then to the Stanfills for dinner. Meanwhile after dinner and the children retired I cannot find Blockbuster Video - I mean, what is up with that? I drive the sprawl like four or five times and somehow miss the enormous signage which I know is somewhere for Christ's sake. Maybe I am old or maybe they are closed, which seems unlikely on a Friday night. Anyway, I pick up Sonnet a DQ "Blizzard" via the drive-in and feel very small-town. It is a good feeling, BTW. I also check out a young guy and his gal at the City Market. They are super flirty and sexy - he's dusty from his day job and wearing construction boots while she has her tight fitting tighty up top. He cashes a $350 check and after forever they take their beer and Red Bulls into the weekend. Pay day for sure.
Friday, August 15
The Red Barn on Main St is freely described as Montrose's "most famous restaurant" and not far from where we are staying, lucky us. It is a family favorite, without doubt, and serves up mostly Western Fair which means steak (Sterling Silver Certified Premium Beef, Dear Reader). In my opinion they would easily compete with New York's best - and of course, like any good steak house, they take themselves a bit too seriously. Their web site notes: "Where Rumours (sic) end....and Legends begin." There is a terrific bar, darked-out of course, with multiple televisions showing American sports (but not the Olympics). Locals drink mostly hard liqueur (lik-ur) but sometimes Coors. Red Barn has been in Montrose over 40 years and reminds me of The Oyster Bar in Sarasota which is a similar old-style institution my mom discovered in the 1950s when her family drove from Ohio to Sarasota for the summers. The Barns final selling point, also from the website, notes "....all guaranteed to leave you full, not broke." Bravo in my book.
Madeleine: "look I'm getting breasts." (I tell her to pipe down and enjoy her kid-hood).
I tell Eitan and Madeleine we are hiking to the top of a visible peak before the pool. Madeleine wales but Eitan surprisingly cool: "You cannot fool me anymore dad" the boy says.
Madeleine disparagingly to me: "why can't we have a third kid who I can talk to?"
Madeleine on Eitan's newly acquired stuffed bear: "He loves him more than the family."
Thursday, August 14
Some more on Montrose:
Montrose was incorporated in 1882 and named after Sir Walter Scott's Legend of Montrose. The Denver & Rio Grande railroad building west toward Grand Junction reached Montrose later in 1882 and Montrose became an important regional shipping center with a branch railroad line serving the mineral rich San Juan Mountains to the south.
In 1909 the Gunnison Tunnel opened providing irrigation water from the Gunnison River in the Black Canyon to Uncompahgre Valley helping turn Montrose into an agricultural hub as well.
Today Montrose serves as the gateway to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to the east of town, and winter transportation hub to ski areas of the San Juan Mountains to the south.
Katie arrives to great excitement.
Here is some data on Montrose:
As of the census of 2000, there were 12,344 people, 5,244 households, and 3,319 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,076 people per square mile. There were 5,581 housing units at an average density of 486 sq mile. The racial makeup of the city was 8% white, 0.44% African American, 0.98% Native American, 0.58% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Island, 6.55% from other races and 2.38% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.36% of the population.
There were 5,244 households out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.8% were married couples living together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.7% were non-families. 31.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.88.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.9% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 20.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 90.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,750, and the median income for a family was $42,017. Males had a median income of $30,674 versus $21,067 for females. The per capital income for the city was $18,097. About 11.3% of families and 14.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.9% of those under age 18 and 9.8% of those age 65 or over.