Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Getting chilly on Wednesday

When the sun is behind clouds, it is pretty cool indeed, the low 50's (Fahrenheit; single digits in Centigrade). I've been trying to lay off my handyman routine, trying to rest up before the big race in just a couple of days. It is hard, though; the are lots of small projects I'd like to do (let alone the big ones!)

Sooz has been busy painting the little house. I've been cutting moldings for the floor and ceiling. But I need to stop running up and down ladders and scrambling over the rocks...just relax and give the legs a rest. We have a few episodes of the UK version of the Apprentice to catch up on. All three of us like to watch that show!

It will be interesting to see if I can actually spend a whole day on Aspö without putting on my work trousers...! In the meantime, there are lots of photos on the web gallery.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hello from Aspö

We got in last night with a barely-manageable load of stuff which managed to get up to the house. The marathon next week should be a dawdle compared to the uphill slog we underwent.

Today, Grant and I worked on stairs, and Sooz painted the little house. Photos of both of our endeavours are available here.

Tonight, it's Sardinian gin & tonics and then the Dancing With the Stars finale, courtesy of the internet....!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

We're here!

...all together with Marcia and Rutger. Eurovision starts at 9 tonight. I'm sure my excitement will overpower my jetlag. Updates during the show...

Update: Loreen is the winner! And I will be there in the Globen next year to see it in person, I swear!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Eurovision 2012!

I have been so busy at work lately I haven't had time to hardly think about Eurovision this year, let alone blog about it. But whether I pay attention of not, we're less than 48 hours away from the big day!

CNN has a great article about the phenemenon of Eurovision from a US perspective. And the Guardian comes through with a superb précis of the first semi-final.

I don't believe I'll have time to blog again before the big event but I will keep up here during the show itself on Saturday. I can't wait!

Monday, May 21, 2012

A day in the (good) life.....

It's a first for me: home alone on Aspö. Lots of time for contemplating my navel and....putzing. Which I am very good at, I might add.

But I have actually done something constructive: I painted (finished painting the 2nd half of) the guest house/little house/Love Shack on the inside, a brilliant white-white. I am thinking I need to paint the window frames a different color,just for fun. Maybe a nice light turquoise?

Then I cleared brush and set things up so that Grant may do a nice fire when he's here next week.

I just came in from a walkabout since it's a clear and warm day and ran into Tony and a very nice lady named Birgitta. We puzzled over a broken tree and how to possibly retrieve the broken part: it's wedged in at the very top, about 50-60 feet up. Hmm. Nothing decided on that one. Stay tuned for developments.

Now as I sit here, I am watching the tiniest of ticks stroll across my hand. Hmm. How can we remotely protect ourselves in the face of such a minute enemy? Sigh.

But no time for worrying about that. I need to concentrate on getting a glimpse of "my" moose and hope to hear the nightingale again tonight....

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sooz is on Aspö!

Just a quick post but Sooz and her friend Sharyn made it Tuesday and all is well. There was some confusion about the hot water but that was fixed. Now Marcia and Rutger have joined the girls for the weekend.

Sooz is sending a few photos from her iPhone; a new gallery is available here. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday, May 30, 1999

I'm just about to head out this morning on my big 20-mile training run. I'm not leaving before dawn to beat the heat; rather I have to be back by 9:00 to watch the season's final match in the English Premiership: Manchester City vs Queen's Park Rangers.

As sport sometimes does, this match sets up a brutal binary: win, for glory and an end to 44 years of humiliation and suffering; lose, for yet another tragicomically heartbreaking failure, and, even worse, to hand triumph to our great rivals.

I ran 20 miles on that May Sunday in the previous millennium, through the Windsor Great Park. When I got back, a friend took me to my first City match, at Wembley stadium. In almost inconceivably dramatic fashion, we managed to win and scrabble out of the potential oblivion of the old Second Division. In a few hours, the same friend and I will watch the match on TV here in Texas; we live just a few miles apart. Funny how life works out.

I have a few videos I always keep on my iPhone just in case I need cheering up. This is the one, from that day, that I've watched the most over the years:


Let's hope, that a few hours from now, I'll have a new happy video to put on my iPhone. 

UPDATE: My run went very well, 20.5 miles in a bit over 3 hours, and I'm feeling pretty good, if I say so myself. And as for the football, well let's just say that after a dramatic repeat of that match in 1999, I have a new happy video: 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

RIP Carroll Shelby

Carroll Shelby passed away last night. He was 89 years old, and had spent the last 21 of those years on a transplanted heart. Mr. Shelby was a tough old bird from East Texas, and he did a hell of a lot in his 89 years.

The New York Times and ESPN both have eloquent obituaries of this influential sports car racer and designer. But I have a more personal story to tell.

As readers of this blog may know, I have one of Mr. Shelby’s cars, a 1968 GT500KR convertible that I’ve owned since 1978.  I had the opportunity to meet him a few times at car shows over the years.

When I worked in London, a friend called to tell me Mr. Shelby was flying into Heathrow and could I meet him and assist his arrival into the UK?

And of course I did. We had a nice chat working our way through immigrations and retrieving his bag. He probably didn’t remember me, but he faked it very convincingly. As I helped him into his ride, a 1967 Shelby (the only one I ever saw in the UK), he gave me a few tickets to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, which he was attending. “Come see me,” he said, “and we’ll have lunch.”

I told Sooz and Grant of my encounter and we made plans to go to Goodwood and to have lunch with Mr. Shelby. Grant, who was 7½ at the time, was especially excited as he was going to get to meet one of my heroes. He was at that age when the Guinness Book of World records fascinated him; he loved the biggest and the best of everything. (It was also an age where my heroes were still his heroes, but I digress.)

In the world of Shelby, the biggest and best was the Daytona Coupe, a special aerodynamically-bodied Cobra that was fantastically successful, beautiful, and rare. Only 6 were made, and at the time, the whereabouts of one of the cars was unknown. Grant was captivated by the idea of the missing Daytona. He was going to ask Mr. Shelby where it was.

We got to Goodwood and immediately I feared our plans for lunch were a fantasy. The place was heaving; hundreds of world-class cars of all types were everywhere. It was hard to move in the crowded paddock. I realized it was going to be hard to get a glimpse of Shelby, let alone have lunch. It was as if I planned to see Elvis at the Sands and have him catch my eye from the stage.

However, I had a son I didn’t want to disappoint, so I gathered up my courage and pushed my way close and gave Mr. Shelby a wave I hoped didn’t look too desperate.

Miracle of miracles, Mr. Shelby did indeed see us. He worked his way over, brought us into the VIP area and said it was perfect timing for lunch. I have to admit I was amazed. He commandeered an official car and we drove to a local pub. At every point, Mr. Shelby was mobbed by well-wishers and autograph seekers. He handled them all with a down-home charm, but he never let us forget we were part of his circle. It was like traveling with a real rock star.

We had a lovely lunch. Mr. Shelby was generous with his time, he paid special attention to Grant, who was a little star-struck, and it was a charming time.

As lunch was winding up, Grant hadn’t asked about the Daytona Coupe yet, so I said, “Mr. Shelby, Grant has a question he would like to ask you.” So he said, “Ask away, Grant”, and in a really small voice, he asked if he knew where the missing Daytona was.

I thought he would have had trouble hearing the question; I barely heard Grant’s shy voice. But sure enough, he had, and he leaned over close to Grant and said in a perfect conspiratorial whisper, “Why yes, Grant, I do know where that car is. A crazy lady owns it. She keeps in the garage of her house in California. But don’t worry, I’ll get it back one day.” And he added with a wink, “but don’t tell anybody!”

One of the things Carroll Shelby was great at was telling tall tales. The thing that made him different from most men was that his tall tales were all more or less true. But this time, I thought that he had told Grant a tall tale to impress him, quite successfully, I might add.

Here’s a photo from that lunch. Grant doesn’t remember much from being 7, but he sure remembers that day.

The best part comes about a year later. I read that a mentally disturbed woman in California had passed away. She was the daughter of Phil Spector’s bodyguard. And in her suburban garage, she had kept, for the past 30 years, the missing Daytona Coupe.

Just like Mr. Shelby had told Grant a year before. Stage whisper or not, he had told my son the straight truth. What a guy.

RIP, Carroll Shelby. They don’t make ‘em like you anymore, and the world is a poorer place for it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

More Logistics

Sooz is in the UK now, enjoying a horsey week with her friends, and then to Sweden next Monday. She will be picking up our halogen lamps and taking them to Sweden with her, but she's leaving behind an extra bag for me to carry, so as to maximize our baggage allowances on the flight from London.

Marcia and Rutger are also in on the act. They've gone to the Systembolaget on Sooz's instructions and come back with a whole load of wine, 18 liters (24 bottles) to be exact. Marcia graciously texted me this picture yesterday.

My favourite picture, though, is my buddy Rutger carrying a case of my beloved Pripps Blå. He is not a big fan of Pripps, so he always finds this errand distasteful. But he does it for me anyways. What a guy!

Now we just have to schlep all this booze out to the house and we'll be all set for the summer.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Marathon Training, part 3

Just under 4 weeks to go until the Stockholm Marathon! I have my longest training run next week, 20 miles, and then I start to taper off in preparation for the big race.

I have to say I'm fairly pleased so far. I am a bit stiff in the patellar tendons these days, but stretching, ibuprofen, and a little knee brace on my right leg is keeping me on the road pretty well.

As I feared, the heat here in Texas is starting to interfere with my long runs. Getting up at 5AM on a weekend adds insult to (potential) injury! But I need to be done before the sun gets too warm, hence the early starts. I look forward to a cool week in Stockholm.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Walpurgis Night

...was last night. In Sweden, it's called Valborg. Exactly six months from Halloween, it is a great opportunity for dancing and bonfires to herald the beginning of warmer weather in northern Europe. There's probably something about witches and spirits mixed in there, too.

I posted about my first, and most memorable, Valborg in 2010. It's here for those interested.

Manchester City 1-0 United

City captain Vincent Kompany with the winner. Hallelujah.