Tuesday, August 31
Monday, August 30
Martine, Sonnet's Aunt, in front of her horse-trailer in La Veta. The road to the Minnis ranch unpaved, heading straight for the Spanish Mountains - I cannot imagine a more stunning vista to return to every day. At some point it must become who you are, which certainly seems the case with Martine. Her love is her animals and around the house are several cats (dog Guinnes passed a year ago) and, of course, the horses which she cares for single handedly when Bill in Denver where they have their second home (the ranch is closed during the winter and the horses "boarded" at nearby stables). This means moving 100lb barrels of hey and removing equally heavy manure, exercising the animals and putting them to pasture every day. They are healthy beasts as, Martine points out, "they fart all the time." This being a good sign. Martine used to teach at Boston then Denver public schools up to the second grade; she did a sabbatical year in Oxford where she taught and took some classes (there are photos of the Royal Family throughout the house). Martine a grandmother of one and soon to be two as Maire announces her pregnancy over the phone during dinner (Martine and Bill knew before of course). She went to Vassar (see: T-shirt) while her stories as interesting as her life. We enjoy her. She sure looks after Eitan and Madeleine.
Friday, August 27
What are we to make of the Times cover story that over 1,000 UK girls, aged 11 or 12, are on the pill? Well, firstly, the suggestion that these girls are sexually active is tosh: many pre-adolescents are prescribed hormonal contraceptives for heavy periods, acne and endometriosis which is a lot less eye-catching interesting than "11 year-olds on the pill." Secondly, the report relies heavily on the Christian Medical Association (enough said). Here are the facts, according to The Lancet, 2001, study: "We recruited 11161 men and women to the survey (4762 men, 6399 women). The proportion of those aged 16—19 years at interview reporting first heterosexual intercourse at younger than 16 years was 30% for men and 26% for women; median age was 16 years. The proportion of women reporting first intercourse before 16 years increased up to, but not after, the mid-1990s. There has been a sustained increase in condom use and a decline in the proportion of men and women reporting no contraceptive use at first intercourse with decreasing age at interview. Among 16—24 year olds, non-use of contraception increased with declining age at first intercourse; reported by 18% of men and 22% of women aged 13—14 years at occurrence. Early age at first intercourse was significantly associated with pregnancy under 18 years, but not with occurrence of STIs. Low educational attainment was associated with motherhood before 18 years, but not abortion."
Thursday, August 26
Following the success of our 10-mile day hike to Nambe Lake off the Winsor Trail and two-miles from the Pecos Wilderness boundary (we are rewarded with spectacular lunch spot and water too cold to swim in) we take a different trail across desert terrain - pictured. The Galisteo Basin Preserve is a land conservation and community development project located in Santa Fe County’s Galisteo Basin—a high-desert area of fragile land and water resources "celebrated for its scenic, cultural, and wildlife values." The preserve designed to conserve and restore 13,000 acres of open space and promote "thoughtful, stewardship-oriented community development." Our flat walk interrupted by the occasional adobe house with visible development for more -- still, the lots are minimum 26-acres and houses separated by a band of no less than three-acres. There are plots of 600 acres or more. If managed properly I think it could work though I would not recommend the trail for unspoiled beauty.
Wednesday, August 25
Monday, August 23
We drive by St Francisco di Assisi.
Friday, August 20
Denver to La Veta is due south and a pleasant drive through open space. We pass through Pueblo, Fort Garland (Air Force academy there) and Colorado Springs where we pull off the highway for lunch at Chilli's (ghastly) and I run across the street to a 7-11 to use the pay-phone to call Astorg Partners. I learn that there are very few public telephones left while mobile to Europe stupidly expensive. 7-11 is a vision of hell. A woman waits for a call and smokes away - two-feet from me. Another, not unattractive, pulls in to buy fags and fill her brown Dodge with gas. There is a video rental machine next to me. Scruffy children buy candy that would make mine cry if they were here. Nasty. The other thing about CS, and I think most sprawling cities, is how difficult it is to walk. Crossing the town's main street, which is more like a highway, takes patience and care – these driving bastards will hit you. There is a narrow, unused, crosswalk and, to somebody's credit, I find a pedestrian light. I wait five minutes for 20 seconds which is barely enough time to cross five lanes. After Chilli's we complete this American moment at Baskin Robbin's 31-wonderful flavors. Gotta roll with it.
Eitan examines a box of Russell Stover chocolates: “Oh, I need to eat this.”
Many US public schools now begin the fall term in mid-August. What's up with that? School hours also seem to be longer with the day ending at 4PM. The American summer a cultural occurrence, unifying generations of families and a God Given Right for any youngster lucky enough to grow up in the US of A. Who wasn't bored out of his mind by Labor Day? From my generation, it was not unusual for both parents to work so kids were left with .. a lot of freedom. Combine that with the suburbs and pot, well, a lot of good memories there, for sure. For me, this meant walks across the UC campus to Telegraph Avenue to buy comic books or vinyl records followed by Blondie's pizza or frozen yogurt (the first fro-yo in America, my sister tells me). Eventually swimming soaked up the free time while MTV took the rest. My pals and I in Walnut Creek did nothing between morning and afternoon practice - it was fab-u-lous. Sonnet and Marcus's solution was summer camp: Trojan Ranch and Prairie Mansfield in Colorado. These long breaks a far cry from England where the annual holiday time might be about the same – 12 weeks or so – but spread across the year. Each good in its own way.
Me: “Are you guys missing anything from school?”
Thursday, August 19
The kids have been good travel companions excluding those moments when, Sonnet points out, "they about to kill each other." This is a far cry better than their earlier life when an air plane meant only one thing: screaming. Loudly. Non-stop. We reminiscence about the time Eitan nine-months and we flew to Florida for my Grandmother's 90th - the boy good from London to Washington but inconsolable from Dulles to Sarasota. We received a number of dirty looks on that one, oh boy. Now they quietly sit in their seats drawing with crayons or, more likely, plugged into the entertainment unit watching whatever catches their fancy and Sonnet allows - from London to SFO, ten hours, uninterrupted. No wonder long-haul means something different to them.
Tuesday, August 17
Monday, August 16
We re-union with Rob and Sloan, Sophie and Jaimes plus one new addition to the family: Ozzy, who receives some considerable attention from Madeleine who is 'dog mad' (Ozzy is a "golden doodle" which is a mix between a Golden Retriever and a Poodle). Sadly missing are Amado and Mary and their clan, who have moved to Seattle while Mary starts her new posting as Head of Strategy for Starbucks. This is a Big Ticket job and none of us are surprised though of course we are keenly interested to know how things are going six weeks into her tenure (full disclosure: Sonnet and I go to Peet's in Berkeley, one of my favorite places). I am buying stock in the company.
Friday, August 13
Kids snapping at each other. Patience in limited supply. Yep, we are well into the holiday. Yesterday sees us at the lake where we have lunch, pictured -- Madeleine has her quotient of 'burgers' or one a day (at least). We are blessed with blue skies and perfect alpine temperatures allowing us to keep the windows open throughout the night. I tap away at some work, sometimes stressful work since I am away from my office, but it is hard to beat the scenery. How nice to be away from all that concrete, if only for a brief while.
Wednesday, August 11