Thursday, January 31

Weird Times

Here's one from business school - I'm not really sure what happened to this guy.  I do recall he wrote a weekly for the "Bottom Line" newspaper where yours, truly, the Chief Editor, a title I shared with two others, in our spare time.  The paper took in money from i banks and consultants who advertised jobs to the graduate students. I decided we, the editors, should get paid and so negotiated a contract with the Dean's office which gave us a healthy cut of the profits; I then raised the ad rates and we did something like $80K net, which covered most of our trip to Central Asia.

Me: "How was school today."
Eitan: "Fine, we are doing the planets."
Me: "Fun."
Eitan: "When the teacher said 'Uranus' every one was trying hard not to laugh."
Me: "Oh?"
Eitan: "He said, 'and since 2001 we've seen Uranus 200 times.' Ha! Ha! Ha!"
Eitan: "You must admit, it's pretty funny Dad."

Wednesday, January 30

Go, Man, Go

Richmond Park near the Ballet School, 2005

I make the blunder of suggesting a running date for Eitan with Zeno, the kid who won the borough x country championships and a footballer in the Surrey League who Eitan sees from time to time (Zeno's mom and I in a communication over a photo I took of the boys racing).  Eitan aghast : "Dad! I cannot believe you did that." I recognise immediately my mistake having been in 7th grade once myself. The two will pair off tomorrow in the Middlesex cross country finals. 

For the first time, last year, the number of world tourists surpassed one billion (says the OMT).  By 2030, it may be 1.8 B.  Europe is the most popular destination ttracting 537 million guests in 2012.  We are One Big Museum.

Tuesday, January 29


Madeleine and Sonnet

I sit next to Madeleine in the living room and blog while she does her homework, which is a review of Belshazzar's Feast.  Before, Madeleine and I have dinner together as Eitan at swimming and Sonnet in Italy scouting for La Moda.  Madeleine and I talk about the usual stuff - school, lunch, friends - and somehow it has snuck up on me that this kid is becoming a young woman. 

Balshazzar's feast BTW a painting by Rembrandt that I have seen on many occasions at the National Gallery: Its source taken from the story of Belshazzar and the writing on the wall of in the Old Testament Book of Daniel (mildly terrifying).  Madeleine meanwhile examines the choral work on the same subject composed by Englishman William Walton in 1931.  My 6th grade, at Longfellow in Berkeley, we were counting our fingers.

Madeleine: "I never get why these old fashioned pieces have a long name so they torture you when you have to write it in class."

Sunday, January 27

Mad Men

Lars and Puk last night

Madeleine's drama try-out goes well and she is satisfied with her performance. From there, it is Alex's birthday party - Madeleine reconnects with her Sheen Mount gang as though no time passed.  I know she misses her final year at SM but she also enjoys Emanuel and the initial shock-transition behind her.

Eitan bakes a banana raisin cake to sell to the neighbourhood.  Lars points out that he, and other neighbourhood Danes, unable to find a certain type of Danish whole grain bread - a hole in the market ? Eitan, for now, focuses on the sensuals.

Me: "How can you listen to that stuff on the radio? It's terrible."
Eitan: "No it's not."
Me, singing something I heard on Capital FM : "I know by your look that you gotta little crush.  The bulge in your pants it makes me wanna blush."
Eitan: "Ha! Ha! Ha!"
Me: "How can you stand it?"
Eitan: "I dunno. It's just good."

Saturday, January 26

Annie Hall

Annie Hall, which I watched for the first time in jr. high, provided the first insights into an adult relationship. I saw it next at the Avon Theatre in Providence, Rhode Island (Midnight showing) and then again this afternoon with Eitan.  Annie's growth (contrasted to Alvy's stagnation) presents the movie's tension - she moves on leaving Alvy stricken.  I love California portrayed as a cultural wasteland ( yet such an inviting contrast to Manhattan).

The best scene in the movie BTW when Alvy and Annie Hall at a deli and she orders a pastrami on white bread with mayonnaise and tomato and lettuce. Woody Allen's eyes roll (my photo from the TV)

Alvy is invited to try cocaine.
Alvy: "I don't want to put a wad of white powder in my nose. There's the nasal membrane..."
Annie Hall: "You never want to try anything new, Alvy."
Alvy: "How can you say that? Whose idea was it? I said that you, I and that girl from your acting class should sleep together in a threesome."
Annie Hall: "Well, that's sick."
Alvy: "Yeah, I know it's sick, but it's new. You didn't say it couldn't be sick."

Czech Invasion

Kamila in town to see "the monuments" which means Top Shop, H&M, River Island - in short, Oxford Street to Westfield.

Madeleine tries out for a school scholarship in drama :  She must act a passage from The Dawn Treader in the The Chronicles of Narnia.  I ask if she is nervous? "My goal is not to throw up on stage" (she tells Sonnet).  Madeleine selected, with 19 children, from an applicant pool of 100 ; the top three earn the honors.

Sonnet: "Say 'break a leg' "
Kamila: "Why say that?"
Sonnet: "It is meant to bring good luck."
Kamila: "I hope you break both your legs."

Friday, January 25


The Church of St. Leodega (completed 1639)

Friday, Friday, Friday.  Madeleine and I catch the bus, 6:50AM, to her school and I attire myself in running lycra to make good use of the return journey.  Unfortunately this includes about two miles via Wandsworth and grinding morning traffic and exhaust fumes; I seek relief on the Thames path and enjoy the last four miles in peace - a different world.

Madeleine and I always go for the upper deck (Silver's favorite).  This morning a young couple join the front row - he in a track suit+trainers;  she, perky and made up. My guess, : early 20s and first relationship. They are comfortable with each other, despite the hour : he makes silly statements and she provides comfort support.  It is this way the world round.

Me: "Why do kids hate museums?"
Madeleine: "I don't hate museums. I just don't like some of them."
Me: "Which ones do you like?"
Madeleine: "The V and A."
Me: "I hope so."
Madeleine:  "I like paintings with lots of color. Like David Hockney."
Sonnet: "Excellent."
Madeleine: "I don't like old fashioned paintings that are kind of dark and faded."
Sonnet: "Well, Madeleine, what will probably happen .. ."
Madeleine: "I know, I know - my tastes will change."
Sonnet: "Yes, they will."

Beecher Stanfill, September 7, 1937 - January 19, 2013

Sonnet's beloved Aunt Beecher has passed away. I remember her most for the gleam in her eye, always awaiting the next laugh, and with a touch of mischief. She was bigger than life. Beecher welcomed us into her homes in Denver and Cuchara, Colorado. She adored Eitan and Madeleine and shared with them her enthusiasm for society and the arts, introducing the children to the Egyptians and the Denver museum. Her life was well lived without a moment lost.

Thursday, January 24

Up Or Down

As David Cameron goes for broke on the European Union - Britain up or down vote by 2017 (the clever bastard vitually ensures his continuation as the PM of the Tory party) - let us consider what is at stake.  Britain habitually plays the role of the fence sitter, weighing in when it makes sense to do so, pulling back at other times and forming alliances as need be.  The EU has handicapped some of that, for sure, and Britain the second largest contributor to the fiscal agendas (ie, Greece and other bailouts) following Germany. I have heard we contribute somewhere between £180 and £200 billion pounds annually.

On the flip side, the UK is Germany's largest trading partner (greater than China, greater than the US) and about half British exports go the continent. But that really underweights the situation: the City is the world's financial centre strengthened by common form cross border regulation. And let's face it : without the square mile this country falls pretty quickly into second tier (London the sixth largest city in the world by economy, led by finance and professional services).   London exports £20B to the rest of Britain (despite the most  transportation congestion, hospital wait times, school rankings. .. ).  Without the Union (corrupt, inept and it all) this is an island for tourists and Russians.

So should we, the people, vote? Yes. Britain's Democracy not as ancient as Greece nor as large as India but it dates back to principals suggested in the Magna Charta.  A decision by Britain may forces others (the givers; Germany) to consider their involvement in the EU 'project'. And should they go, will civil unrest result  on the periphery and evolve into open conflict?  Europe did an atrocious job handling the Balkins.

So Cameron plays a dangerous game.

Wednesday, January 23


These fellows work away in the sculpture wing of the V & A underneath the marble Jason.  They seem to enjoy what they are doing, chatting and happy to spend a moment with me discussing their job : filling cracks.  Afterwards I meet Jane, who heads corporate development, about various financial support of the museum.

Monday, January 21

Keep On Toking

Obama in college

President Obama's second inauguration takes place, fittingly, on a national holiday honouring MLK.

Sunday, January 20

Visitor Pass

Eitan lies on the sofa watching The Simpsons: "I seriously hope they cancel school tomorrow."
Me: "Every day is an opportunity. Unless, that is, you are lying in bed."
Eitan: "Unless the opportunity is to lie in bed."
Me: "Touché."


Moab, Utah

As for today's snow fall, well, the old timers tell me about the winter of '62-63 , the second coldest on record, after 1683-84. Everything froze solid: canals, lakes and rivers, including the Thames. The Big Freeze, as it became known, went until March with the worst in January : pipes burst, schools shut (no plumbing) and neighborhood water trucks supplied potable water (their faucets frozen tight); the electricity grid down and gas supplies insufficient for demand.  Waterways and commerce came to a grinding halt. Snow drifts 20 feet. No doubt tomorrow's commuters will suffer their fate at 15 cm.

Madeleine has a sleep-over with Marcus'  and the intrepids spend the morning fending off abuse from Marcus's older brothers who stuff snow down his shirt and generally pummel the poor dears.  Eitan teams us with Cyrus to romp in the snow at Palewell Park.

Sheen Lane

Red House

The Red House located at the junction of York Ave, Richmond Park Road and Sheen Lane, an ancient road, which follows the route of medieval field boundaries. It linked the market town of Kingston with the village of Mortlake and the river to London.  

The street lamp (pictured) burned gas until '64 when South West London switched to electricity; prior, a council man peddled through the ward igniting the flames with a long wand, returning the next morning, at dawn, to extinguish them.

Saturday, January 19

A Boy And His Dog

All sports events cancelled and we enjoy an unusual morning at home.  We take the pooch for a walk, before it all goes to slush, and Madeleine builds a snow man.

The Sony Building goes for $1.1 billion - 2007 all over again.

“We’re flawed because we want so much more. We’re ruined because we get these things and wish for what we had.”
--Don Draper

Friday, January 18


Ten centimetres of snow bring the capital to a stand still (that is less than four inches people).  Flights  and buses cancelled, schools across the country closed (including Hampton but not Emanuel); this morning's trains late at the sniff of foul weather and I have a hard time getting a return taxi to Sheen since, outside the centre-city, the snowpack "unpredictable, mate, I can't be taking the risk " As if.  The BBC dedicates 30 minutes of top-of-the-hour news to the weather: "a 'crocodile line' of five cars stuck on the motor route in Wales! We came across a lady who had been in her car for a while and she was delighted to see us." There is a run on the grocery store.  As the Radio 4 concludes solemnly: "A day London put to the test."

The British love a good weather crisis and, since Friday, an unexpected long weekend.

Photo: Telegraph

Thursday, January 17

Shoe Laces

Eitan ties

This morning I meet a gal at Ontario Teachers who is full of pep and vigour: she opened the London offices and it doesn't hurt that the pension manages $117 billion, second largest in Canada (after CPP). This the future of 180,000 teachers, principals and administrators while already supporting 120,000 retirees.  A reason the pension so large: 10% IRRs over ten years.  Still, the pension "gap' about $10 B, which means more contributions from its members.  Without higher-return illiquid assets like infrastructure and private equity, it would be worse.

Madeleine in a good mood.
Me: "How was swimming practise kiddo?"
Madeleine: "It was cancelled."
Me: "Oh?"
Madeleine: "A kid poo'd in the pool."
Me: "You're kidding."
Madeleine: "We saw some one fish it out with a net. And they did an evacuation bell."
Madeleine: "To get every body out."
Madeleine: "And some one had a heart attack."
Me: "Is this a public pool?"
Madeleine: "Yep."

Wednesday, January 16

Tilden Trail

Tilden Park trail

Earlier this month Katie takes us on a run that goes up and then goes down. Puff puff puff.

A bench plaque at the top honours Brian Maxwell, the founder of Berkeley based PowerBar which became the go to food of ultra athletes and i bankers. Maxwell himself a runner and, despite being told as a teenager of his congenital heart condition, he persevered, and in 1977 was ranked third in the world in the marathon by Track and Field News. At 51 years of age he died of a heart attack.

The scientist and co founder of PowerBar, Bill Vaughan, the father of childhood friend Brian, who is now CEO and owner of sports gel GU.  My friends and I tested GU on the San Francisco and Sacramento marathons in the 1990s.

Linebacker Patrick Willis on 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick's performance against the Packers: "It wows me."

Tuesday, January 15

Glory Hole

Lake Berryessa, CA

The morning glory spillway in Napa, California, is the largest in the world and allows water to bypass the Monticello Dam when at capacity.  The Glory Hole is about 61m from the dam; the distance from the funnel to the exit point - which is situated in the south side of the canyon - is about 213m. The outside diameter is 22m, slowly narrowing to 8.5m at the exit (Photo from The Earth Story)

I jog around La Cité on a dark cold deserted morning and wonder, as I sometimes do, whether I incorrectly set the alarm and it is really 2AM.

Sunday, January 13

Nestle Toll House

Eitan bakes

Eitan puts his baking business in to action, preparing the first batch of chocolate chip cookies. "Today", he says, "I am just going to do some cookies. I've decided not to do muffins.  I have enough to make 18 cookies so I plan to sell 15.  The remaining can be for the family" which is awfully nice of the boy.

As for the cookie .. . .the original chocolate chip cookie, the Toll House Cookie, was "invented " by Ruth Graves Wakefield in the 1930s. Ruth and her husband owned the Toll House Inn, near Whitman, Massachusetts. Ruth cooked for her guests, and one day had to substitute semi-sweet chocolate for baker's chocolate in a cookie recipe. She chopped the chocolate in bits, but when she took the cookies from the oven, the semi-sweet chocolate had not melted into the dough as the baker's chocolate had.

As it so happened the chocolate bar had been a gift from Andrew Nestle of the Nestle Chocolate Company. As the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe became popular, sales of Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate bar increased. Andrew Nestle and Ruth Wakefield struck a deal. Nestle would print the Toll House Cookie recipe on its packaging and Ruth Wakefield would have a lifetime supply of Nestle chocolate. (source:  Nestle website)

Eitan, before doing the door-to-door: "I really want to go. I am excited. And kinda nervous."


Eitan has a couple of thrilling football games this weekend.  Yesterday, his Hampton School defeats Dulwich College 5-4 in a hard fought affair that never sees our side trailing (Gordon Ramsey checks out the action). Today Elm Grove advances to the final eight in the Surrey Cup by defeating Barnstead Colts 2-1.  Coach on Eitan's second half: "electric."  We now watch Man U v. Liverpool because that\s what people do in the country.

Madeleine swims a personal best in the 50-meter freestyle at the Epson Rainbow Leisure Centre.  Her time of 37 seconds one off the Surrey Championships qualification time and we are thrilled by her performance.  Today she competes the 200 freestyle.  Me, I am shortly to Paris and in to the full swing of 2013.

Saturday, January 12

New Yawk

Grand Central Station Oyster Bar

I am back from a one-nighter in Manhattan which I would not recommend. Nor would I recommend two trans-Atlantics in one week no matter how effiicient.

I stay at the Waldorf Astoria which, while not The Roosevelt, somehow appropriate as Sonnet and I watch the final two episodes of Mad Men , season 5 (In season 2 Don Draper lives at The Roosevelt during marital problems).  My favorite use of the Waldorf sitting in the beautiful lobby after an early jet-lagged run in Central Park, drinking coffee, people-watching and making calls.

And did you know the Waldorf Astoria the first hotel to offer room service ?

Thursday, January 10

Tube 150

Piccadilly tube at Barron's Court station

London celebrates the oldest metro in the world and there are days when the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines feel every bit their age, clunking and clacking between stations, pausing for no reason or to allow other trains to pass, taking their good sweet time. This somehow charming or even romantic unless, of course, you are a commuter.  The more recent tracks more efficient, carrying 1.2 billion passengers in 2011/12 or third most in Europe after Moscow and Paris.

Justin and I watch the Chelsea Blue lose to Swansea city at Stamford Bridge; beforehand I use a fork and knife on my beef burger.

Tuesday, January 8

Work Time

At Columbia Business School, ca '97 (photo from Adam Ballachey)

Back to the job for most of us. Unfortunately eurozone unemployment is 11.3% or 19 million people out of work; Spain the worst off at 26% and half of young people without a job.  Greece (25%) and Portugal (17%) not far behind. The difference of the haves (Germany, Netherlands and Austria below 6%) and have-nots striking : could this lead to social unrest ?  France thinks so as the taxi drivers to strike on Thursday and, since they are French, they will use their idle time to block the motor routes and central roads making everybody miserable.

Madeleine a trooper on her first day back to school (Eitan boots up tomorrow).  We walk to the bus stop in darkness; our gal frets about her pe kit, left at school on the last day of term . I worry about signing a next client.  Usual stuff, across the generations.

Madeleine: "I love taking the bus home" (Madeleine started taking the bus by herself last term).
Me: "Oh?"
Madeleine: "It is, like, freedom."

Monday, January 7

Welcome Home

Brentford council estates from the M4 

We arrive to London, greeted by what our pilot cheerfully describes as "seasonal weather" - cold, grey, dreary - but, as I tell a colleague on my mobile, "we choose to live here. " This always gets a chuckle as the counter party knows the alternative California.

Brentford btw is the first point on the tidal Thames easily fordable by foot (before dredging). It is believed Julius Caesar crossed the river here during his invasion of Britain in 54 BC.  Today Caesar would be greeted, and repelled, by the chavs (yuf identified through their love of tracksuits and burberry, splashing themselves with the tackiest designer brands and gold jewelery, and Sovereign rings.  Usually they come from a working class background but there are also very wealthy chavs like Jordan aka Katie Price).

Brentford, despite itself, has been on the up-and-up with new high rises and the Thames Valley University here; GlaxoSmithKline's HQ visible from the flyover and the Brentford FC offers some League One action.  It is near near Heathrow and remains affordable. It would have made for a good investment even ten years ago.

Sunday, January 6

West by Southeast

We return to London tomorrow on the over night trans Atlantic. This is kind of how I feel.

Today we visit our friends Rob and Sloan and their beautiful children. Rob's Latin America trade finance business is growing its capital base, producing consistent solid returns before, during and since the financial recession; Sloan's exec coaching business thriving w/ 22 clients and growing.  We re live a number of key development moments like the time we all called it quits on the corporate scene and started our own businesses.

This evening we spend with Roger and Greta and their beautiful children.  They have made the return re location to the Bay Area so Roger can take his eight years at Microsoft to Box, one of the hottest companies in SV, growing 300% per year.  Roger and I re live a number of key developmental moments like the time we shared a flat on the Upper West Side and the roof nearly collapsed from rain fill - only our splashing about the roof deck searching for the plug in freezing dark temps saved the moment and Roger's high end stereo system, about the only thing of value in our place at the time.

Saturday, January 5

Tunnel At Sunset

This the tunnel that connects Cordonices Park and the Berkeley Rose Garden, far side. When I was a kid, the tunnel covered with graffiti and smelled of urine (it has been cleaned up, along with the rest of the park); I found the passage a bit menacing - it has appeared in a dream or two in middle life.

Some Berkeley histrory, from the Berkeley Gazette, September 27, 1933 (and the Web), states: " A pedestrian tunnel runs under Euclid, connecting the Rose Garden with Codornices Park. In this section, from 1912 to 1928, before the Rose Garden was established, a 275-foot-long wooden streetcar and road trestle spanned Codornices Creek along Euclid. In 1928, the trestle was filled in, a culvert laid through it for the creek, and the pedestrian tunnel constructed."


Madeleine spends the afternoon about the house.

We are with Spencer and Alex and their three beautiful children who bracket Eitan and Madeleine by age. Pre-children, the four of us in London from '97 to '99 until Alex's job at JP Morgan relocated them back to US; Spencer took an early role at Silver Point Capital, a hedge fund founded by several Goldman alum, which amassed billions.  The rest, as they say, is history.  During those post MBA early days, Friday evening cocktails were de rigeur.

Friday, January 4

Small Business

The kids contemplate the New Year with new businesses: Madeleine considers reviving her gardening service "Dream Clean" and Eitan selling baked goods.  He puts together a business plan which includes costs, prices, a survey outline and "procedures for my business", which he will do from week to week.  Of course there is some discussion - negotiation - between the Shakespeares on mutual joint efforts and Eitan offers Madeleine a 10% cut for going to Waitrose to buy the ingredients (10% declined as "too little").  Madeleine has the brilliant idea of "prescriptions" (she means "subscriptions") for ongoing repeat customers and this is how an idea goes into action.

Eitan: "Can we get a ping pong table?"
Me: "Where would we put it?"
Eitan: "In the garage."
Me: "Sure. You can save up your money."
Eitan: "I am going to have to put my business in over drive."

Wednesday, January 2

Welcome 2013 !

We spend the 31st at Camp Connell (est. 1923), pictured, drinking beer (me); working (Katie, taking advantage of wi fi); begging for candy or beef jerky (kids); being patient (Sonnet).

The Orenstein Stanfills go to 11PM and reminisce about 1993 to 1994 when I hosted a party on Nob Hill for about 150 people.  Adam brought a professional lighting system to take black and white photographs of the guests; Chip a sound system and I and Jana supplied the apartment, owned by Tyler's dad, with booze to keep us going until 6AM.  Unfortunately I failed to cover the living room's thick white carpet leaving a wall to wall black hole. Sonnet and I drove hours to the one carpet-cleaning rental in the Bay Area open on New Year's Day - Burlingame - and spent the afternoon preying for a miracle.

I flew to South Korea that night to meet with eye frame manufacturers (but that is another story).

Eitan: "I am so bored. I know what, I will try to lick my chest like Rusty. .. "
Me: "How about licking your balls, like Rusty."
Eitan: "Ha ha ha!"
Me to Sonnet: "Two words that crack up Eitan: Rusty and balls."
Madeleine: "Charming, Dad."

Tuesday, January 1

Alpine County

Early sunset at Mt Reba, 8,755 feet, Stanislaus National Forest

175 Foot Short

We walk a familiar trail and I (re) learn the giant redwoods of Big Trees one of three kinds : the Sierra Sequoias, where we are now; the Coastal Redwoods lining Northern California and the Metas (for meta sequoias) in China.  Once these beautiful giants, the largest living things on earth ever, covered the northern hemisphere when the climate warmer; now they remain in groves which offer protection from wind and sun, moisture and a relatively mild climate. The three pictured about 175 feet while the largest in the park, the Louis Agassiz tree in the South Grove, is "only" 250 feet but it is over 25 feet in diameter six feet above the ground.  The Agassiz 'drinks' about 275 gallons of water a day and its roots system covers more than an acre; over a year, she creates enough new wood for a 75 foot tree.

Madeleine: "Auntie Katie I lost a tooth. My last tooth!"
Katie: "Well let me see then."
Madeleine: "It's in the bin. Mum threw it away."
Sonnet: "By accident. It was on a napkin and I didn't see it."
Katie: "Teeth last a long time in our family. Moe has all our teeth, from 35 or 40 years ago."
Madeleine: "Are they moldy ? "
Katie: "He keeps them in a drawer, in their bedroom."
Madeleine: "Isn't that kind of gross?"
Sonnet: "We are not keeping your last tooth, Madeleine, so don't you worry."
Madeleine: "Not even if we brush it or something?"
Katie: "Yeah, even if you brush it or something?"
Madeleine: "It is my last tooth mom."
Sonnet: "And the last one to go in to the bin."

Snow Boots

Eitan: "Mom! Did you know a gold fish can remember things for three seconds?"
Madeleine: "And you can't slam your car door in Switzerland."
Sonnet: "That's nice to know, dear."
Eitan: "Charles de Gaulle's final words were "It hurts."
Me: "Having fun there, Eitan?"
Eitan: "I downloaded an App."
Eitan: "A peanut is not a nut. it is a legume."
Me: "Nicely done."
Eitan: "Men can read small print better then women but women can hear better than men."
Eitan: "Owls are the only birds that can see the colour blue."
Eitan: "The percent of Africa that is wilderness is 28%."
Eitan: "Hamsters love to eat crickets."
Me: "They do?"
Madeleine: "We would never do that. Feed a hamster a cricket."
Me: "No way."
Eitan: "You cannot keep your eyes open when you sneeze."
Me: "Do you believe all that stuff?"
Eitan: "Yes. It says so right here."
Me: "From there to college. Go get 'em, kid."

Skiis Up

We get the kids on skiis at Bear Valley which, for the record, not my favourite activity : awkward equipment, lines, cold and cramped feet .. . (Madeleine: "Way to look at the bright side of things, Dad") so I sit in the lodge and read 'Jane Eyre' while Sonnet and Katie take Eitan and Madeleine through the rentals (one and a half hours), lessons (2 hours), lunch (one hour) and some skiing (half hour).

Both kids pleased with their progress and, despite several hard knocks, are game for more.  Eitan makes it off the 'cub slope' to the chair lifts; Madeleine keeps her spirit and strong until the end.  We are rewarded with a spectacular sunset over the spine of the mountains.

Katie: "How was it?"
Eitan: "My heart leapt and missed a beat."

Lake Alpine

Lake Alpine snowed over, 7,388 feet

We are in the Sierra Nevadas, joined happily by 'Auntie Katie', who is another source of entertainment (and wisdom) for the Shakespeares. I use our first day to trek into Lake Alpine as HW 4 otherwise closed at Ebbetts Pass or 8,736. There is maybe six feet of snow pack and I rely on snow-mobile paths to make my way to the lakeshore; otherwise it is hard tredging.

To my surprise, the lake iced over and covered in a blanket of snow. The sun bears down and cumulous clouds provide little relief ( I shoot with a polar lens).  A storm moves up the Bear Valley and, very rapidly, the sky menacing and I retreat to collect Sonnet and the kids as snow arrives.

Eitan leaps across the living room: "Duck! Roll! Cover! Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat !"