Friday, September 27


Battersea Rise

My photo taken less than 100 meters from Clapham Junction rail station, the busiest in Europe, in one of the densest neighborhoods of London.

Netball Action


Emanuel School takes on Ipstock Place in an exciting back-and-forth thriller that is won by the visitors. Netball new to me and a mix between basketball and ultimate Frisbee - no dribbling.  The girls race across court screaming 'ball!', trying to get inside the opponent's goal box for a shot on basket.

Netball began in England in the 1890s and today there are 60 countries competing in the International Netball Federation. In the UK, girls play from secondary school. It is way competitive.

Our gal plays on the 'A' team.

Wednesday, September 25


Schacter, Kristoff, Orenstein & Berkowitz or "SKOB" (Kristoff and Orenstein reversed)

I help Madeleine practice her spelling words.
Me: "If you get the next one wrong I am calling your Grandfather."
Madeleine: "You're calling Moe?"
Me: "Spell 'lawyer.' "
Me: "Moe is a lawyer."
Madeleine: "L.. O. ."
Me: "I'm calling your Grandfather."
Madeleine: "This is why I hate doing homework with you."

Tree Surgeon

Kingston Train Station

Jaime, the arborist who took care of the backyard scots pine, returns to trim the front tree, a holm oak. Jaime's dreamy, too - in shape, deep eyes and rugged unshaven face. Of course he rides a motorcycle. Even our neighbor, Helen, agrees, and she is proper Brit : Reserved.

So Jaime reduces the overhang by 30% yet leaves the job unfinished as he finds a nest with three baby birds that he does not wish to disturb.  I tell Madeleine and she falls in love instantly.

Me: "They really trimmed back the tree."
Madeleine: "Yep."
Me: "So how would you rank a plant?"
Madeline: "Like what do you mean?"
Me: "All creatures great and small.  Would you pick a flowering plant or a mosquito?"
Madeleine: "A flowering plant."
Me: "Thought so."

Tuesday, September 24

The Dog Shot

Rusty at the office

Sonnet notes that "getting Rusty made Madeleine happy" but truth is the dog is part of the family and gives us joy and consternation in equal doses.

Today I walk Rusty on the Thames Path - gorgeous Indian Summer - talking business on my mobile, reminding myself not to scream at the dog who gallops into the river after a raft of ducks. Worse, he can't climb up the riverbank as the tide out and the brick edge steep. He follows me for half a mile until he finds some stairs and I am relieved of having to retrieve him from the muddy riverbed.

Self Portrait XXX

Madeleine and I do some shopping in Kingston, since its Monday, visiting Topman and Uniqlo and River Island and Monsoon and and and. .. She's interested in trainers as, is, yours, truly but JD Sport and three other trainer shops leave us flat footed.  Trainers are a big deal for anybody but especially an 11 year old (or 46).  We catch the train home as the sunsets and Madeleine puts her head on my shoulder.

Sunday, September 22

Aggie & Madeleine

At the Opera House

Sunday evening which means family dinner followed by the NFL (me), football (Eitan), bed (Madeleine) and swim-team data entry (Sonnet).  Rusty looks balefully at the remains of a leg of lamb and we have to laugh at his transparency: all the dog wants in this world is a mostly eaten bone.

Lions v Eagles

Halftime breaks

Eitan's Sheen Lions play the Bedfont Eagles FC notable for the pitch's proximity to Terminal 4 and, damn, those planes come in, too. Wham. Wham. Wham. I find it amazing that houses are built so close to the busiest airport in Europe.

The boys lose, 2-0, to a team that is bigger and more physical - the Bedfont goalee looks about 17  and snatches anything that comes within ten feet of the goal box. Eitan gets used to playing mid-field and has a few disruptive plays and a couple of shots on goal that fizzle out. The team still coming together.

Football is followed by more football and I put my feet up to watch the Manchester Darby: ManU v Man City. Eitan records the action since his weekend homework now overdue.

Thursday, September 19

A Small Spec

Moon over Richmond Park

Walking to the train station this morning.
Me: "They really built that house fast. People can do anything when they set their minds to it."
Madeleine: "No they can't."
Me: "Oh?"
Madeleine: "People can't land a plane on the sun. Or eat a mountain."
Me: "Good points. But we can talk on a mobile phone and walk on the moon. That's pretty amazing."
Madeleine: "Yeah, I guess" [Madeleine texts while walking]

Me: "Hey, Madeleine, come and check out the full moon. It's beautiful."
Madeleine goes to the front door: "Where is it?"
Me: "Are you really asking me to help you find the moon?"
Madeleine: "I'm just saying I can't see it."
Me: "If you can't find the moon then there really is no hope for this family."
Madeleine: "Gee, thanks, Dad."

Wednesday, September 18

Post School - Pre Swim Practice

Eitan's mileau

I no longer pester the boy about keeping his room tidy or his homework organised. One must choose one's battles.

I take one for myself, following a full day in Paris, which entails sleeping in, jogging, going for a stroll in Tuilerise, checking out the Jeu de Paum and catching the 11:13AM Eurostar to London. I am home at a most reasonable hour.

Tuesday, September 17

A New Normal

Danske Bank's 'A New Normal' ad campaign

Eivund Kolding, CEO of Danske Bank, Denmark's largest lender, was dismissed with the admission from the bank that it needed a boss "with stronger qualifications within banking." Oi vey.

Danske's 2012 advertising campaign included an Occupy Wall Street protester with a dollar bill taped to his mouth, a female MP holding her child in parliament and some kissing lesbians, pictured. Kolding was forced to apologies after heavy criticism in Denmark.  Prior, he worked at a shipping company.

This reminds me of the time I stuffed my face with candy at the co-op and my mother forced me to return to the cashiers to pay and say 'sorry.' Humiliating stuff.

Sonnet in Oregon and Minneapolis St Paul to secure museum interest for the Italian show post V & A. In Minneapolis she visits Mike and Gretchen where she completes her book, submitted electronically, before catching the return flight to London.

"We all agree - both the board and the management - that the marketing campaign was not as successful as we would have expected it to be, to put it mildly."
--Ole Anderson, Chairman of Danske Bank

Saturday, September 14


Moe in '64

And here is my father, before career and kids and life took over. And what a rich life it has been and yet will be. Photo taken in Malawi where he and my mother spent several years in Peace Corps #1.

I drive Eitan and Joe to football and Def Punk's "Get Lucky" on the radio.
Me: "So what's this song about anyway."
Eitan, Joe:
Me: "What do you think? It's probably about gambling. Getting lucky at the slots."
Eitan: "Dad it's about sex."
Me: "I think it's a song about Las Vegas."
Eitan, Joe:
Me: "Playing the slot machines in Las Vegas."
Eitan under his breathe: "Whatever, dad."

Here are the top ten Billboard songs from 1964:
1. I Want To Hold Your Hand, The Beatles
2. She Loves You, The Beatles
3. Hello Dolly, Louis Armstrong
4. Oh, Pretty Woman, Roby Orbison
5. I Get Around, The Beach Boys
6. Everybody Loves Somebody, Dean Martin
7. My Guy, Mary Wells
8. We'll Sing In The Sunshine, Gale Garnett
9. Last Kiss, J. Frank Wilson & The Cavaliers
10. Where Did Our Love Go, The Supremes

Friday, September 13

Man's Best Friend

Pink tongue.

And it's Friday.  Madeleine at a school all-nighter to bond with her fellow year-7 s.  And bond they will since they are in sleeping bags and tents and it pours rain as I write.  Eitan and I take advantage of our evening watching television and chilling out on the coach. Woof.

Me: "Whenever I watch these commercials I think: 'this is the dumbest country in the world.'" [Dad's note: we watch a commercial where a baby plays keepie-uppies with a football]
Eitan: "We're not the dumbest, but we are pretty dumb."
Me: "The UK has like some of the smartest people ever. Crick and Watson, for instance. Newton and Darwin. "
Eitan: "Yeah."
Me: "But if the British are like anything on TV they are definitely behind other countries like France. Maybe the rest of Europe." 
Eitan: "We have good schools."
Me: "So there's hope."
Eitan: "Could be."

Thursday, September 12

Cool Cats

Green Park tube

31% of London's population is 24 years old or under.  Where are these people, I wonder?  Mostly working entry jobs, reading books and hanging out in Starbucks. Sometimes I see them at the Southbank Center or Shoreditch or smoking fags outside Imperial College maybe between class. The Apple store on Regents St a good place to spot them. London's young are mostly not found in East Sheen or Mayfair, where I spend my time, so I always perk up when I see a young dude on the underground, pictured, and wonder : where to ?

School Run

Interstellar porch

Madeleine and I walk, 7:05AM sharp. It remains light but the the late morning darkness encroaching. Soon we will be used to street lamps at this hour.

My day sees a bunch of meetings about a bunch of deals that I am working on and  hope will conclude and all the better if by year-end.  Inshallah.

The Voyager 1 space probe leaves our solar system after 40 years and 12 billion miles.  Despite the wars and terrorism and the general human cruelty and failure to communicate we, the human species, can do something together that is magical.

Me: "How was school?"
Madeleine: "We had to write an auto biographay. So I wrote about bugs."
Me: "Makes sense."
Madeleine: "Do you remember my pet slug named 'Jerry'?"
Me: "Um, no."
Madeleine: "Eitan cut him in half and threw him over the fence. So I wrote about that and bugs."
Me: "Sounds like a pretty good autobiography."
Madeleine: "Yeah, I guess. I wasn't sure what to write about."
Me: "You could have fooled me."

Tuesday, September 10

Mid Week

I return from Paris greeted by Rusty. Sonnet working like mad to meet her book deadline of July. The kids both at swimming practice. England plays Ukraine in a World Cup Qualifier.

Sunday, September 8

New Stripes

Palewell Park

And autumn, along with work, comes football.  Today Eitan's new team, the Sheen Lions, play Worcester Park to a 1-1 draw after going up 1-nil.  The equaliser a flook goal that graces the upper corner of the goal box, unreachable by Max, the goal keeper. That's the way the ball bounces.  Marc stops by to see Eitan and Jack in action.

Me: "I remember being your age and not wanting to listen to my father."
Me: "Now I actually feel like I have something to tell you."
Me: "But I get it."

Saturday, September 7


Man in coffee bar

Madeleine picks blackberries from the neighbour's bush, enough to make crumble, served with single cream, for all of us.  Recipe from Martha Stewart (Sonnet: "I am embarrassed to admit it.").

Neighbour Martin grew up in the house - his mother, Kitty Godfree, won Wimbledon a number of times and there is a plaque at the front recognising Kitty's achievements.  I enjoy Martin who knows a bit about everything and has a garage filled with every possible tool imaginable. I borrow them whenever I can.  Martin an electrical engineer who is working on a number of tunnels near Brighton.  He shares my view that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

I'm ripping all my DVDs to our family network drive.  Right now, it's Airport '77.

It's All Upward

Waterloo Station

Eitan back in football action as Hampton School defeats Sutten Grammar School 5-1.  He plays left-centre back.

We host the boy's new club team, the Sheen Lions, for a post-practise Friday evening beer and pasta party which allows us to put some names to the parent faces, instantly forgotten, and a season ahead. Blessedly, the home pitch is Palewell Park, a seven minute walk.

Me: "So what do you want to do for your 13th birthday party?"
Sonnet: "I'm going to get tickets for Fulham." [Dad's note: Fulham is in the Premiere football league and not far from Sheen]
Eitan: "Dad, see, you never pay attention."
Me: "I always pay attention to you."
Eitan: "You pay attention half the time and remember 25% of the rest."
Me: "So how much is that?"
Eitan: "Huh?"
Me: "How much do I retain?"
Eitan: "Twenty-five percent."
Me: "Bad math. It's 12.5%."
Me: "Let's at least be clear on the insult."

Thursday, September 5

London Sunset

Facing eastward from the Shell Mex House on the Strand

Indian summer is here and we join Puk and Lars, who celebrate his second book, 'Investing Demystified'.

Me: "How was your first day at school?"
Eitan: "It was OK."
Me: "You're no longer the youngest guy there. That must be pretty cool."
Eitan: "Yeah, I guess."
Me: "Do you boss all those year 7 s around, letting them know who's boss?"
Eitan:  "Not really. It's not like America or something."

Wednesday, September 4

School Cut

Madeleine at the stylist

And with a 6:30AM scramble, the kids are up and off to school. 7th and 8th grades, wow, how did that happen ?  Soon it will be college.

I walk our gal to the train station, her preferred journey to school, which allows us time to contemplate the morning sunrise and the general state of affairs - she is no longer the youngest nor the newest student, which offers some welcome playground seniority.

Tuesday, September 3

La Seine

Pont des Arts

The river at sunrise, home for dinner at sunset.

In all, there are 37 bridges within Paris and I cross three on my usual morning run:  Pont des Arts, Pont de l'Archevêché and Pont Neuf, the oldest in Paris, inaugurated in 1607.

Sunday, September 1

Ben And Eitan


This year Ben will sit his GCSEs, an exam that determines where one goes to university, more or less. The exams (along with the A-levels) are, for American ex pat parents, well, foreign. And intimidating.

Preparation for the GCSEs begins in year nine (age 14) when students choose their subject preferences from a compulsory 'core'+several electives - in all, maybe 11 tests over several weeks.  There is strategy: students who excel in maths, for instance, may take the maths exam in year ten then the rest in year 11.

University placements are extended based on GCSE results, an offer conditional on the 'A-levels', a further, final, exam taken at the end of secondary school (the two year preparation period called 'sixth form'). School grades, sport and extra curricular activities have no influence on the application.

Despite life's pressures, the kids find a park, with a swing, and have a ball.

Saturday, August 31

Thursday, August 29

Pre Snip

At Valentina

Madeleine and I meet on the High Street for lunch. Afterwards, it's the hairdresser so she can try on a new style just in time for school, which kicks off tomorrow.  I am honored that she wants me beside her as the 'stylist' clips away, snip, snip, snip.

And soon - just like that - it's back to work. Next week looming large. Where did the time go ?

Wednesday, August 28

Cologne Cathedral

And today I am in Germany.

The Cologne Cathedral is Germany's most visited landmark attracting 20,000 people a day, according to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany.  The towers are approximately 515 ft or the height of The Stealth at Thorpe Park.  A lot is going on here.

Aus einem Stein ist schwer Öl pressen.
--German proverb meaning 'you can't get beer out of a stone.'

Monday, August 26

Game Night

Man U v Chelsea

No room for small talk.

Me: "Are you proud to be British?"
Eitan: "Yeah, of course."
Me: "How come?"
Eitan: "Well, it's a small country yet it contributes a lot to the world. It punches above its weight."
Me: "So does that suggest that you have contributed to the world?"
Eitan, after some thought: "No. Not really."

Self Portrait XXIX

The bank holiday comes to a close which is a good thing since all I do is nag the kids and house chores.  Sonnet at the museum all weekend to finish the introduction of her book, 'The Glamour of Italian Fashion.'

Madeleine records a season of 'Modern Family' and I am sucked in. The current show has the kids doing an egg drop project for school and Claire slips on the egg yolk and falls on her ass then starts screaming at her kid. Across the generation gap, Eitan, Madeleine and I howl with laughter.

Madeleine: "People think animals are lesser than humans."
Me: "Well, they are, aren't they?"
Madeleine: "No they are not. Horseshoe crabs can save people's lives."
Me: "Oh?"
Madeleine: "They have a certain medicine or something in them."
Madeleine: "I learned that in my geography class."

We sit in the living room watching TV.
Eitan: "In half an hour I am going to ask everybody to get out of here." [Dad's note: Manchester United vs. Chelsea]
Madeleine: "What?!"
Me: "I get it. 30 minutes. Don't argue this one, kid."

Sunday, August 25

On Dating

Soon to be 13

Over dinner we discuss the difference between dating in the US and Britain. In the US, a 'date' remains as carefree as it was back when : boy+girl+dinner=no commitment. In the UK, Nathan tells us and Eitan corroborates, a 'date' far more serious and implies coupledom. To get around this, kids go out in packs, evenly split between the sexes, and can be found on the High Street or in Pizza Express.

Me: "So I understand Eitan is on a 'date.' "
Madeleine: "Yeah, so?"
Me: "How does that make you feel?"
Madeleine: "I don't know, nothing really."
Me: "I remember it was kind of weird, when Katie or I had dates. It was like things were changing."
Madeleine: "I guess so."
Me: "Does it seem that way to you now?"
Madeleine: "No, not really."
Me: "It's coming."
Madeleine: "If you say so, Dad."

Me: "What do teenagers do when they go out in packs?"
Madeleine: "They sing. They make fools of themselves. They buy lots of things."
Me: "They sing?"
Madeleine: "Uh-huh."
Madeleine: "I know from personal experience."

Saturday, August 24

Bank Holiday

Rusty knows what's up this weekend.

Friday, August 23

The Thames

Southbank, Friday night.  

Sonnet joins us from work. We see some hip hop at Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Madeleine: "What would happen if you put a match in some beer?"
Me: "A match in some beer?"
Madeleine: "Yeah. What would happen ?"
Me: "It would go out?"
Madeleine: "I thought so."
Madeleine: "It's not like some alcohol, or something, that would explode, is it?"
Me: "I think we're safe."

Eitan: "Do you think London is a cool city?"
Me: "You bet, especially East Sheen."
Eitan: "What do you think are the coolest cities?"
Me: "I don't know. LA, Berlin. .. "
Eitan: "Paris."
Me: "Definitely." 
Eitan: "And New York."
Me: "You've only been to like five cities."
Me: "La Veta. . Berkeley .. . Santa Fe."
Eitan: "Yeah."
Me: "Bear Valley. Now we are talking cool."
Eitan: "You're joking, aren't you Dad?"

Dog Days

Sonnet lets loose

Eitan spends the lazy summer days doing, well, close to nothing. A bit of tennis here, a dog walk there. Last night he makes apple banana bread.  Otherwise, he sleeps until 11:30AM and lazes about the house looking patiently into the refrigerator hoping he will find something missed ten minutes before .. . I have to remember this time myself, lying about, reading comics. Bored.

And we try to give him his space.  It is not easy when I would otherwise wish him doing maths review. We've had some battles about this stuff and I have to be comfortable with his ability to deliver the goods on his own.

Thursday, August 22

East End

Sonnet at Dishoom

We head to Shoreditch to meet Suzanne and Daniel, new friends via Diana.

Daniel went to Caltech and Stanford's Computer Systems Lab for post doc work and I can see why : soft natured and cerebral, funky coloured glasses and long stringy hair perfect for his runner's frame which sees four or five marathons a year (he, in his 50s).  Daniel also a software writer and applied mathematician who works his trade at Sony Pictures FX - he created the code behind the wonderful scene in "Batman, The Dark Knight Rises" where the football field collapses into a sinkhole. And, in GI Joe, the Eiffel Tower's destruction ("That one was pretty cool", he giggles).  I ask: who owns his work ? and he thinks for a minute : "I guess I do. Know anybody who wants it?" I am stumped, dear reader.

Monday, August 19

Ferris Beuller & Prop Values

Age 14 (note Sperry canvas Top Siders)

London in a self-inflicted property bubble as house prices for the three months ending July improved 2.1% with prime London postcodes >10% (Knight Frank). I recognise a frenzy when the café guy informs me that his weekend spent cleaning house to sell his Putney flat for £300 grande profit. I mean, Putney ?

Thanks to the UK's 'Help To Buy' scheme introduced in 2012 and aimed at first-rung home ownership, a 5% deposit secures an additional 20% equity loan to be used towards the bank mortgage (ie, 25% down). The loan is interest free for the first five years.

Given British property values, unlike the US, did not collapse post the 2000-07 housing bubble, Britain remains over-priced by most measures like mortgage-to-income or mortgage-to-rent. Our elected leaders learn nothing.

Sunday, August 18

Mouthwash And A Dead Fish

Eitan has not had a shower or bath since returning from the US.

Madeleine: "How do you use mouthwash ?"
Me: "How do I use mouthwash?"
Madeleine: "Yeah, use it. What do you do."
Me: "I gargle it. For thirty seconds."
Madeleine: "See, Eitan, thirty seconds."
Eitan: "I don't gargle for thirty seconds because I do it after I brush my teeth."
Madeleine: "It's not how you are supposed to do it."
Me: "Are you guys having fun?"
Eitan: "Yeah, I guess so."
Me: "Well you are driving me and your mother crazy."

Madeleine: "Eitan your fish is dead!"
Eitan: "Oh, darn it."
Me: "Is it floating?"
Madeleine: "No, he sunk to the ground."
Sonnet: "Well get a little scooper and take him downstairs then."
Eitan: "Mom it's dead."
Me: "Just flush it down the toilet. And go to bed."
Madeleine: "Nice one, dad."

Friday, August 16


CO somewhere near NM

Fracking : The US unique - if you own the land, it's yours to the core. In the UK, by contrast, the Crown retains all sub-surface mineral rights, which means companies only need buy enough land to get drilling while landowners see none of the benefit from oil or gas underneath, even if horizontally drilled beneath their property. Pretty fucked up given British shale gas deposits may equal 1,300 trillion cubic feet (10% of which enough to supply our needs for 40 years .. .)

Well economics, US: one well (aprox 1 hectare of space) costs $6M to dig and frack, give or take, producing $40M of economic benefit (give or take) of which 20% goes to the landowner as 'royalty.' This is a cool a couple hundred grand to the landowner a year and easily more.

Madeleine: "What do people do on their honeymoon anyway?"
Me: "Make l'amour."
Madeleine: "Really?"
Me: "What do you think they do?"
Madeleine: "Have a nice vacation."

Summer Days

Me, to middle-age woman as we watch our kids on some vomit-inducing ride: "It takes a certain age to enjoy these things."
Woman, after a thoughtful pause: "At least, a certain attitude."

Standing in line for "The Saw" ride.
Me: "You know, all I have to do is say 'pants' and any 12 year old is mortified."
Me: "Pants."
Eitan: "Dad!"

We leave Thorpe Park around 6:30PM, sun setting, day accomplished.

High Ride

At 46, I ride 'The Swarm'

Eitan and I spend the day at Thorpe Park, a real slice of Americana in Britain, where we are presented with 1950s pop songs ('Under The Boardwalk', Clickety Clack, Don't Talk Back' and 'Up On The Roof') along with the corn dogs and cotton candy and ice cream all of which the boy indulges in.

Thorpe Park also owns some of the fastest, tallest and scariest rides in the world. I find my heart racing as we line up for The Colossus, my first roller coaster since Cedar Point in '05 and second in 35 years (Eitan, happily: "Dad you are actually sweating!").  The adrenaline makes me nauseous yet I force myself onto "Stealth" which goes from 0 to 80 mph in 1.8 seconds before hurtling skyward, 460 feet.

I am a fraction from bailing but the joy on Eitan's face (and my potential humiliation) find me strapped into the goddamn thing, full speed ahead. Afterwards (11 seconds) I feel exhilaration - I did it! - and suddenly I am 12 all over again.

Tuesday, August 13

Under The Waterloo Bridge

Madeleine scores a music sheet

A favourite spot of mine is the open air second-hand book market tucked under the Waterloo Bridge on Queen's Walk - it is open daily, rain or shine - and one of the last of its kind in London or, at least, that I know of.

In 1997-98, I ran along the embankment as part of a 6-mile loop beginning in The City, past here, and it was all pretty dodgy : the Southbank Centre an unloved 1960s concrete monstrosity with rumour that Tony Blaire would demolish the complex and start all over.  Happily he never did and today the area vibes with bars, restaurants, locals, tourists, readers, hipsters, joggers and freakos who seek out the river and the arts.

Madeleine and I spot a suitcase on the Thames' shore.
Madeleine: "I wonder if there are a lot of chopped up bodies in there?"

Madeleine and I have a discussion about cows.
Madeleine, matter of factly: "I've eaten leather, you know."
Madeleine: "It tastes just like a beef burger. Literally"

Monday, August 12

Kids Home

National Theatre, Southbank Centre

The kids arrive in London safe and sound, if not a bit tired, and full of adventure to tell.  We meet them at Heathrow, 7AM, and I consider : this is what it will be like when they are in university.

To stay awake, Madeleine and I catch the train to Waterloo to walk about Southbank and have lunch (sushi, of course).  We end up at OXO tower for a drink and to observe the view.

Madeleine: "What would happen if you ate upside down?"
Me: "I don't know. It might not be very comfortable though."
Madeleine: "Would you throw up or something?"
Me: "Sounds like one for the Internet."
Madeleine: "Yeah."

Madeleine: "This is so much fun. We should spend more time together like this."
Me: "Madeleine it is my favourite thing. There is nothing else I would rather do."
Madeleine: "I haven't gone over to the dark side yet."

Madeleine: "Eitan's music playing is so annoying." [Dad's note: Eitan has an electric keyboard]
Me: "Can you hear him in your room?"
Madeleine: "Yes. Do you know what I am going to do?"
Me: "No, what?"
Madeleine: "I'm going to cover my walls with egg cartons. That way I won't hear a thing."
Me: "Good idea."

Sunday, August 11

Eel Pie

Sonnet rambles

Since top of the summer, Sonnet and I sleep until 11AM then go for a walk alongside the Thames from Richmond to Teddington lock.  I water the plants, talking to my tomatoes, coaching them to turn red.

We stroll by the strange Eel Pie Island, an island in the Thames, which I have often wondered about. There is one private access for the 120 or so inhabitants; it was a communal hippie dippie in the '60s and known, then, as a major jazz and blues venue: visitor performers included David Bowie, The Yardbirds .. .The Who and the Rolling Stones. Even Pink Floyd.

Now Eel Pie Island is an oddity and home of the Richmond Yacht Club.

The kids ready themselves for their solo trans-Atlantic flight from Denver. Stan drives them over the Rockies, God bless.

Saturday, August 10

Surrey Hills

Spooky church

Sonnet and I ramble in the Surrey Hills designated as an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty by the UK government.  And it is.

On the top of a tall hill we stop at a church graveyard with stones dating to the 18th century.  Sonnet thinks a lovely place to be married; me, it looks like the perfect setting for "Night Of The Living Dead" or some other such horror movie.  I see zombies crawling from their graves seeking human flesh. Would not come here after nightfall. Strangely, our footpath the only way here - in and out.

Friday, August 9

Rusty Returns

Jail break

I pick up Rusty from the kennel and the dog is ready to get the hell out of there.  He jumps all over me, begging : "home, home, home, home .. . "

A poem posted nearby Smith College as part of Northampton's "June is Poetry Month" Celebration:

Prayer to Artichoke
by Gail Thomas

Strange one, I bless
the day I found you spread
open, plucked and pulled
between my teeth.  Lead
me to your tangy core.
Oh, keep me
wanting more.

On The Range

Meanwhile back in London

The report from Colorado positive. Eitan and Madeleine solo with Stan, enjoying football camp on the mesa, and generally being (i) spoiled and (ii) bored (Eitan). Madeleine relieved to know that Eric and Nelson (the turtles) are doing well. Sadly Stig the goldfish goes belly up (some tears from our intrepid pet owner) .  Madeleine finishes 'The Diary of Anne Frank' and 'Lord of the Flies'; Eitan reads 'Lonesome Dove' (Eitan to Sonnet: "Mom, what's a whore?" Sonnet to me: "Nice one, Jeff")

Me: "Are you two getting along?"
Madeleine, Eitan: "No. Maybe."
Madeleine: "Eitan came in to my room to steal my stuff."
Eitan: "You said I could have those things . .. "
Madeleine: "Did not. And besides, it was while I was sleeping."
Me: "Good to see you kids enjoying yourself."
Eitan, Madeleine:
Me: "No doubt about it."
Eitan: "Yep."

Sunday, August 4


Following a quick review of the Internets to find a window cleaner better than Windex (because, you know, Windex is kind of boring), I create a concoction: 2 gallons of hot water, half-cup of ammonia, handful of dishwasher detergent, and Rain-X which otherwise keeps the car windows de fogged. The reagents act favourably, actually bubbling and popping. I try not to breathe it.

From there, it is up the 32 foot ladder to catch the 2nd story fenestras and the conservatory, that requires, well, walking on the conservatory which always freaks Sonnet out and takes me back to the stupid things I did in college.

I live yet, following a half-days work, my cleaning mixture leaves dots and streaks and I have to re do it using Windex and newspaper.

Going Solo

Coming un done ?

As I am alone since Tuesday, even without the dog, I do what most of us would do in these circumstances : watch the complete series of Deadwood and drink beer.

Since cooking out of the question, I am unintentionally on a weird macro diet: yogurt and berries for breakfast. Maybe something for lunch. And dinner a large green salad that doesn't require the burner. Breakfast of champions.