Sunday, August 31
Saturday, August 30
Friday, August 29
Madeleine, Willaby and Lizzy head to the Southbank skate park to spray paint their names and graffiti on the walls. It is also a way to support the park, which is under threat by developers who consider it an eye sore. This was Madeleine's idea and initiative and, dear reader, I am impressed.
Wednesday, August 27
I had braces at 10 or 11 - the fabulously named Dr Wompler did the work - and I recall the rubber bands and all-night head gear that left your jaw aching in the morning. Ghastly stuff. Now there are a number of options from interior to exterior of mouth, clear or coloured style. . . the metal is glued to the teeth so no hooks or wires which made things very Frankenstein in my day.
Tuesday, August 26
Meanwhile the French celebrate summer's end by disbanding government. Prime Minister Manuel Valls says the new cabinet will be "consistent with the direction [the president] has set for the country." Consistency ? The country lurched from cook-the-rich in 2012 to a pro business in 2013 yet growth is flat and public spending now 56% GDP.
In the 1970s President Valery Giscard d'Estaing's tough love in reaction to the oil shocks rejected for Mitterrand's dreams of socialism and expansion. The chickens are coming home to roost.
Monday, August 25
Me: "When someone calls me, even though I see their picture, I always act like I don't know who it is. "
Madeleine: "Use the phone, like, for talking?"
Me: "So I say, 'Hello?' which gives the caller a chance to start the conversation. It's polite."
Madeleine: "I don't know. We just talk, I guess."
Me: "Does that mean you just launch right into it ? Like, 'did you do your homework?' or 'what time is class tomorrow ?' "
Me: "When I was your age, and when your grandparents were your age, all every kid did was talk on the phone, every night, for hours. One phone line. It drove our parents crazy."
Madeleine: "What's a phone line?"
Me: "Life was pretty rough back then, I admit."
Sunday, August 24
A trip of a lifetime.
God Bless America.
Larry prepares special photographs for an upcoming exhibition, Legacies, Landmarks and Achievements: Celebrating 350 Years – Eastchester, Tuckahoe, Bronxville, which opens Sept 4.
Friday, August 22
We see Duccio's 'Madonna and child,' which the Met acquired in 2009 for $46 million, their most costly purchase ever, raised in 48 hours, when the curator discovered it was coming to market. One can imagine the calls along 5th Avenue.
Prior to the 13th C, the Byzantines painted 2D 'cartoons' and religious icons with hardly any emotion. Duccio changed all that - his paintings put figures in architectural settings. He began to explore and investigate depth and space with a refined attention to emotion - in short, "Duccio is where Western art begins, " says Nick.
We unload for the last time - thank goodness - and head for pizza in neighbouring Eastchester and a restaurant straight from the Sopranos. We order pepperoni (Larry: "Best pizza anywhere").
From the road: Southern Vermont Arts Center, Manchester, VT; Bennington Museum, Bennington, Vt, Locust Grove Estate, Poughkeepsie, NY; Mid Hudson's Children Museum, Poughkeepsie, NY; Home of FDR and US Presidential Library, Hyde Park, NY, Elenore Roosevelt House, Hyde Park, NY. Henry A Wallace Visitor Center, Hyde Park, NY,
Tuesday, August 19
The hike notable for the return : Katie and Sonnet disappear. Like really disappear. Several returning hikers have not seen them and I begin to worry, retracing our steps, until the end-point. No sign.
Turns out that Sonnet and Katie take a different path back, exiting three miles south of the car-park. I was ready to call the police.
The mouth of the Batten Kill is in Easton, New York, and the source of the river is in East Dorset, Vermont, not far from my photo, which captures the view from Larry and Marcia's property. The area is protected and a special place in VT.
"We - our leaders and the public - are not getting the information and ideas we need to make the best decisions. Our world conversation is currently an echo chamber that reproduces the same narrow range of (85% male) voices over and over. Even worse among academics: a May 2008 Rutgers University study found that 97% of op-eds by scholars in the Wall Street Journal are written by men. What is the cost to society when so many of our best minds and best ideas are left out? What could we accomplish if together we invested in our missing brain power?"
--From The Op-Ed website
Madeleine and I have a conversation about growing up.
Me: "One day you will grow wings and fly from the tree."
Madeleine: "You mean I'm going to fall and die or something?"
Madeleine: "What's so funny Dad?"
My mom's father made pitchers of dry martinis and Manhattans to serve guests while entertaining, or hosting bridge, in Upper Arlington, Ohio, in the 1950s.
Madeleine: "Blech! That is so awful."
Larry: "It is an acquired taste."
Thursday, August 14
Me: “You got me there.”
Wednesday, August 13
In 1987 Marcia and Larry discovered Dorset, a small semi-rural community outside of Manchester, Vermont, where they found a red house with a pond and a fourteen-foot dam immediately adjacent to the property. They fell in love with it immediately. Since then, they rebuilt the dam (including relocating at their expense a family of beavers), modernised the home and added a large ceiling kitchen and sun room next to the Battenkill river, beneath the dam. The living room overlooks the pond, and its ducks, with all-glass windows. It is the perfect gathering place for family and friends.
The property began its life in the early 19th century to polish marble from a nearby quarry - the dam's ancient turbines provided the energy. The marble was then sent to New York City including the New York Public library, which uses marble from the Dorset quarry about .75 miles away.
Robin Williams commits suicide, age 63. Lauren Bacall passes away at 89.
Tuesday, August 12
Off the Road:
Saratoga High School: “Why fit in when you can stand out?”
Madeleine: “Dad can I get Ju Ju Fish because they don’t sell Laffy Taffy ?”
Me: “Are you expecting a reasoned answer ?”
Monday, August 11
Following a tour of Buffalo including two Frank Lloyd Wrights and a Louis Sullivan, we end up at Adrienne's cousin's house for a High School graduation party and backyard BBQ (taped to the beer chest: "Must be 21"). The Shakespeares overcome their fatigue and bashfulness and engage in the teenage action while Sonnet and I enjoy our extended family, including Patrick, who is implementing Obamacare in NYC and owns a tall building in Manhattan's East Village, and Judith, who creates costumes and hires out stock for films, theatre and television.
Sonnet and I bike along the Erie Canal (363 miles from Albany to Buffalo, 36 locks, total elevation differential of 565 feet. Opened October 26, 1825, an engineering marvel).
Madeleine: "You owe me five dollars. Can I have it?"
Me: "Since when ?"
Madeleine: "Two dollars that you borrowed. One dollar for walking ten feet with a plastic cup on my head. And the rest is interest."
We enter the park, our second day at CP, at 9AM and close it down at Midnight. I would not have thought possible - 15 hours ! - but the best part after dark when the temps down to 70 and the crowds have dwindled and lines fast. There is a new found camaraderie between us and the park. Eitan's voice hoarse from screaming and Madeleine proud of her thrill rides.
It is kitsch and cheesy and joyous and unawares. Is it ironic ?
Sunday, August 10
Last time I was here was July 2004 with Grace and Moe en route to Akron and Kelly’s wedding – a visit notable for Madeleine, who had the chicken pox which appeared first day of our 5 week vacation. Poor kid unable to go in the hotel swimming pool where Eitan spent hours.
Cedar Point next to a lake offering wide beaches and the smell of Coppertone, taking me right back my childhood summers visiting my grandparents in Upper Arlington, Ohio. The Big Choice was King’s Island or Cedar Point, both about 2 hours from Columbus. I was unable to sleep the night before and, joy of joy, many of the rides still around, only a bit dated, like The Gemini, a twin-racing roller coaster that, when completed in ’78, was the longest and tallest roller coaster in the world. It’s icon so Logan’s Run. In '78 I waited three hours in a spaghetti maze for the 2 minutes of pure terror nirvana. Now there is hardly a line as the thrill seekers have moved on to taller, higher, faster.
Friday, August 8
Cincinatti hosts the second largest Octoberfest in the world after Munich.
We duly attend a Cincinatti Reds game at The Great American Ballpark and are treated to a home victory over the Cleveland Indians, 8-3, including a couple of home runs. The kids allowed three ballpark food items. The Reds will host the 2015 All Star Game and the 2015 All Star logo is uncovered first-time to fireworks, woo-hoo. But it is a Big Deal for the city, which is tearing itself up with new roads and highways, buildings and a waterfront path anticipating next year's summer classic.
Madeleine , beginning of the Reds game: “Do you get to keep the baseball if it goes into the stand?”Me: “Yes. It’s all yours.”
Madeleine: “I am going to catch one then.”
Madeleine: (3rd inning): “If I catch a ball will you give me $20 ?”Me: "You mean a foul ball ? If you catch a foul ball I will give you $1000."
Madeleine: “You are going to owe me $1000 then,”
Me: “Good luck kid.”
Madeleine (5th inning): “If I catch two foul balls, will you give me $2000?”
Me: “I will give you $10,000.”
Madeleine: “What?! Shake on it.”
We shake on it.
Madeleine: “Will you really do that? Give me $10,000?”
Me: “If you get two fly balls, I will transfer the money today.”
Madeleine (7th inning): “Dad if I catch three foul balls will you get me a greyhound?”
Me: “With pleasure.”
Heading to Cedar Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio, Eitan irons his shirt and asks for hair gel.
Thursday, August 7
The Arch was designed by Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen in 1947. Construction began in 1963 and completed on October 28, 1965, at a total cost of $US 13 million ($97,300,000 in 2014). The monument opened to the public on June 10, 1967.
Wednesday, August 6
During the Second World War the company provided bindings for US military uniforms (military issue hats and trousers) and today continues to mfr bindings for hats and in-seam decals, where it is the largest in the US.
We visit Moe's side of the family and cousin Di Di organises a re union at Aunt Ida's Jewish retirement home (next to a Chinese restaurant, of course) which includes Liebermans and Orensteins and Seniors. Ida is 103 years old and sharp - she recalls everybody's face and where they are on the family tree. A highlight is Joy's photo album which takes us back to the 1920s.
Moe's cousin and childhood pal Al is with his wife Alice, a freshman at University City High School when Moe was a Senior. This area was predominantly Jewish until the '70s and so where my Orthodox great-grandfather Horen landed in the late 19th century, speaking only yiddish (Joy tells us). Horen left Russia to escape the pograms of the 1890s and entered America via Ellis Island. Alice tells me Moe was school President, and "very important and so handsome. We all looked up to him."
Devon is a great kid (head connected to electronic toy) and son of Shavon and Danny, who was adopted by Joy and Larry in '72, before mixed adoptions were stopped (says Joy). Danny is 6'4" and Joy 4'11". Shavon is from Oakland and, remarkably, was a Freshman at Berkeley High School when I was a Senior, though we did not know each other.
Me: "What do you think of the Liebermans ?"
Me: "Did you know that you had all these Jewish relatives in St Louis?"
Me: Pretty cool."
Sunday, August 3
Sonnet meets her ancient dear friend Kevin, who drives to us from St Louis. Kevin and Sonnet worked together at I. Magnin in San Francisco in those post college days when life was but a goof. These are the best friendships.
I have the Shakespeares solo so we go for a bike ride along the Missouri River, swim at the hotel pool then, treat-of-treats, Arthur Bryant's BBQ for dinner, the best in Kansas City and anywhere (says Calvin Trillin : "the single best restaurant in the world"). Barak Obama lunched here three days ago. Sonnet and I at Bryant's in 1997 when driving across the country and not much has changed - it has cleaned up a bit perhaps but the pulled pork as good as it ever was. The kids share a full rack of ribs and a plate of fries, washed down with lemonade. It's a restaurant without pretencion , where everybody enjoying themselves, and beats any of London's Michelin stars, hands down.
Today’s route : Montrose, HW 50 to 96 at Pueblo then to Route 40 to 25 North, where we spend the night in Colby, KA, “the oasis in the plains.” It's hard driving, about 8 hours in all, without much to look at, other than the corn fields and blue skies.
Museums : Salida Museum of Local History (Salida, CO), Fort Wallace Museum (near the Fort Wallace, CO, cemetery); Prairie Museum of Art and history (Rte 40, KA); High Plains Museum, Colby, KA; Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Kansas State University, Hays, KA; Czech Museum and Opera House (Wilson, KA); Eisenhower Presidential Library, Albine, KA); Kansas Motorcycle Museum, Minneapolis, KA; Smokey Hill Museum and the Salina Art Center, Salina, KA