And to show that I am not only transfixed by football ... Texas wins its tenth NCAA swimming championship under 32nd-year head coach Eddie Reese Sunday in Columbus, Ohio. The Longhorns used nine top-eight finishes on the final day to power past Cal en route to the title. The team totaled 500 points and finished 30.5 points ahead of second-place California after trailing the Golden Bears by 18.5 points through day two of the three-day meet. We Bears fans are cursed.
Wednesday, March 31
It is half-time in the Champions League and Arsenal v. Barcelona drones in the background, Eitan glued to the wireless (as Christian notes: a "mouth watering" match-up)(photo from Barcelona FC website). Barca one of Europe's class acts, certainly on par with the Red Devils or Chelsea or AC Milan. Eitan and I are still recovering from last night's ManU-Bayer Munich, who won 2-1 on a goal in the final seconds of extra time+Wayne Rooney down with an ankle injury. Eitan to bed, dog faced. And what does this mean for England? Without Rooney we don't have a chance in South Africa this June (World Cup, mom). Now I am not superstitious and would never suggest a curse but I have followed Cal my entire life and we have not been to a Rose Bowl since '58. Now that is cursed. Will I suffer same here? England mad for soccer, which is one of the great joys of living here. All the more chez-nous as Eitan's KPR Blues tops in their division and assured a promotion next year. Then the games will be tough but for now we enjoy, if not breath, the beautiful game.
So today a day of endings: Sonnet enjoys her last day at the V and A (her colleagues organise tea). We say good-bye to Natasha, who has been our nanny for three years. And tomorrow is the kids last day of school before Easter Break. I am the only one missing some conclusion of something. But really I am pre-occupied: Must. Make. Money.
Me: "Madeleine, if you don't eat your greens, I am going to give you more."
Madeleine: "That is so unfair."
Me: "Sorry, kid, there are some things out of my control."
Madeleine: "Dad, you are either with me or against me."
Me: "That is a pretty strong statement coming from an eight-year old."
Madeleine: "Which one is it?"
Me: "On the greens, I am against you."
Madeleine: "I cannot believe my own dad is against me. My own dad."
Tuesday, March 30
I seem to be on memory lane so here are my college room-mates Bruce and Roger. Bruce is now a doctor.
Here is yours, truly, in 1983 at Dave's house after a Saturday over-night (I am pretty sure). Dave's English mum Judith (from Hamstead Garden Suburbs or "the posh" part of town) sends me this photo last month. How our past never escapes us. Back then, Dave and I the same stature -- 98 pound weaklings -- while an ongoing joke (to this day I emphasize) our height: he nips me with an afro but otherwise I top him. We both hid behind our yufful obsessions: swimming and saxophone, which enabled us to dexterously side-step those awkward teens. Chicken shits were we, but one adapts as one can [I own a strange memory of biking past the Ellis house every morning, 5:45AM, on my way to swimming practice at King Jr High pool - dark, cold, often raining and two hours and five miles of swimming ahead.] Today, Dave a buffed black dude with shaved head and somewhat menacing goatee. A bad ass. And serious, too - he continues to perform and enjoyed the #1 jazz album in the country in '06 with "State Of Mind." I still swim a few laps myself but not so much.
Monday, March 29
Sunday, March 28
Sonnet off to South Kensington to meet Rana on her return from Copenhagen and before she flies to New York. Since finally we have some warm-ish weather, the Shakespeares and I head for Richmond Park (Madeleine armed w/ bread for the ducks). Eitan says smoking should be banned, which leads into a conversation about personal choice: should we stop at smoking? He ponders this and notes certain things - like smoking and fighting - should be stopped as "only stupid people do them." I ask how we decide who is stupid? Eitan: "if they smoke and fight" (I walk into this one). I introduce Marx and communism and Eitan listens politely before moving adroitly off the subject.
On Thursday, Eitan announces he will cut his hair short. I find this hard to imagine and assume he will not follow up. But yesterday he brings it up again and, since the poor lad a bit glum, I ask him to sleep on it. Yet now arrives and his mind set: we head for the Turks and a date with clipper no. 6.
Saturday, March 27
Wednesday, March 24
Tuesday, March 23
Madeleine and I pass time at the mall awaiting Eitan, who is with his Monday tutor. Madeleine rummages the toy store and comes away with a frog, pictured, though she insists it is a lizard. Well, I think it is a frog which also seems appropriate given the frog eggs (update: we observe with excitement the spawn elongating towards tadpoledom). It is hard to convey, dear reader, how a green rubber with red tongue can provide hours of amusement.
Sunday, March 21
Madeleine mills about the backyard on the first spring-like day on the first day of spring: "Dad! Come quick! Frog spawn!" she shouts. Eitan drops his rake and we run over to the pond: indeed, a batch of eggs. How unexpected. A frog darts below. The goldfish, too, re-appear after a long cold winter which froze the pond water -- I thought for sure they were dead but apparently they hang out on the pond's bottom where it is warmer. Eitan and Madeleine both familiar with frog spawn which is a Year 2 project. Madeleine goes to work: Tupperware - check. A few stones - check. Some seaweed and algae. Double check. She uses a soup ladle to scoop about a hundred eggs which now rest on the kitchen counter. Assuming Madeleine can keep her hands out and Sonnet allows it in the kitchen, we may have tadpoles. Fun!
Friday, March 19
Thursday, March 18
Sonnet at Buckingham Palace yesterday to prepare for a British clothing industry reception. That evening, she meets Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, here pictured with Sophie Dahl in a red dress (photo from the BBC). Sonnet tells me the Queen and she chatted: "this group of young students is very talented" said her Royal Highness. The Queen also commented how sad that one of the designers working for Alexander McQueen -"That must be very difficult." Prince Philip, being Philip, flirted with the younger talent and grumbled to Sonnet: "well, I hope you are at least British" probably wondering about the Pakis or "slitty-eyes" which is how he once described the Chinese. The Queen's living quarters upstairs while the reception somewhere below her, so Elizabeth may breeze downstairs and greet her guests. She has 300 staff, at various households, who ensure things run smoothly and kept tidy (Sonnet notes there is a Coutts ATM in the palace - this England's most prestigious bank). Sonnet meets Frank, who lives on the palace grounds, and has been a part of the Royal Family's entourage for 28 years, visiting over 40 countries on his savings. Unmarried, Frank does not pay for his residency nor utilities and probably not board either. A bachelor's life in a glamorous pad -- imagine him bringing a date home. Budda bing. Sonnet sees a father walk his daughter from the palace to school. In all, while the palace the largest residential space in Central London with an enormous grounds, it provides a working backdrop for the pageantry of the Monarch. "A stage set" Sonnet remarks. How nice to be invited now and again.
Tuesday, March 16
This photo of Sonnet taken, I am guessing here, when she was ten though perhaps Stan or Silver can provide some detail. Madeleine keeps the picture with her valuables - she holds it dear - so I pinch it for now to scan and blog. Tomorrow, Madeleine's class will visit the British Museum as they study ancient Egypt. Eitan did the tour last year and took the family back for the highlights including "Ginny," a petrified mummy with a carrot-top hairdo pasted to her ghostly skull. 5,000 years look'n back atcha.
Monday, March 15
London a great city for many reasons but my favorite: who knows what pleasure around the next bend? In this case, pictured, I poke my head into St James's cathedral at 11AM to find this wonderful, serious, trio warming up for a noon-time performance. I have them all to myself for about 20 minutes allowing me to reflect upon the the piano with some mild regret - I never paid attention despite my mom's best efforts (my grandparent's imposing Steinway in my parent's living room). The last thing I and Tom Sawyer wanted to do on a summer's afternoon was practice the piano. As life repeats, I feel momentary pangs of guilt that ours not more exposed to music (and I do, dear reader, include the trumpet). There is a balance between structured activities and a kid's freedom and, for now, the kids fairly loaded up. Exhibit A: this blog. We cannot do everything so let us hope we at least do things the Shakespeares sometimes enjoy.
Sunday, March 14
Eitan and I out the door by 8AM for his double-header at Esher in Surrey - to retain KPR's top-of-the-league a double win needed but instead we get a split winning the first and tying the second match in a wild 4-4 thrilla. Eitan scores a go-ahead left footed shot moments before the first-half ends but Esher come back firing and soon up 3-2; KPR ties then Esher 4-3. With a minute to go, Eitan scores the equaliser and our side erupts in joy. It is a cracker, too, spreading two defenders and a gentle tap into the net. His a safe pair of boots the dads comment.
From Esher we drive to Crystal Palace so Eitan can swim in the British Gas County Championships which are held at the National Athletic Center. I am so used to grody London pools that a well-designed 50-meter indoor pool, even if dated, catches me by surprise. Our frogger in two relays and begins by leading off the 4X50 medley relay - backstroke not his best stroke yet he gives his all, coming in last of eight. Later, his 4X50 freestyle team wins their heat - I get a big thumbs up and happy grin as he looks up for me in the stands - but his squad disqualified for an early start. What ref would do this to the 9-10 year olds? For Pete's sake. Eitan is sanguine: "we still won anyway."
Sonnet spends her Mother's Day with Madeleine, who is up late last night making a card: "you are a very good cook" she notes lovingly.
Saturday, March 13
Our neighbours Helen and Martin have a bouncer in their backyard, pictured, which receives a joyous whoop! from the Shakespeares. They are invited to give it a test-run. Eitan says, looking at the photo, "I think it was really fun and big. Uhhhh" (his contented sigh similar, dear reader, to an extra serving of desert and I raise an eyebrow). Martin meanwhile an electrical engineer and I admire the wiring which he did on his own. In the dining room, for instance, a master control connects 16 switches to each ceiling light - or, as Martin says, "to confuse everybody." Me, I think it is genus. It reminds me of Arthur. Their house has all sorts of fun peculiarities like the fold-down stools in the kitchen or the bunson burner like stove. They also have a wonderful border collie, my favorite dog ever, and a pet rat (Madeleine notes that the cage a good one - she should know ). Helen and Martin's daughter engaged yesterday - bravo.