Recently Read Books

  • A Delicate Truth- John Le Carre (fiction)
  • Perfect - Rachel Joyce (Fiction)
  • The Expats - Chris Pavone (Fiction)
  • An Event in Autumn - Henning Mankel (Fiction)
  • Winter in Madrid - C.J.Sansom (Fiction)
  • The Brothers - John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles - non-fiction
  • LIfe Among Giants - Bill Roorbach (Novel)
  • Empty Mansions - Bill Dedman (non-fiction)
  • Woodrow Wilson (non fiction)
  • Lawrence in Arabia (Non-Fiction)
  • In Sunlight and In Shadow by Mark Helpren (Fiction)
  • Lesson in French - Hilary Reyl (fiction)
  • Unbroken- Laura Hillenbrand (Non-Fiction)
  • Venice, A New History- Thomas Madden - (Non- Fiction)
  • Life is a Gift - Tony Bennett Autobiography
  • The First Counsell - Brad Meltzer (Fiction)
  • Destiny of the Republic - President James Garfield non-fiction by Candice Millard
  • The Last Lion (volume III)- William Manchester and Paul Reid (non-fiction, Winston Churchill)
  • Yellowstone Autumn -W.D. Wetherell (non-fiction about turning 55 and fishing in Yellowstone)
  • Everybody was Young- (non-fiction Paris in the 1920's)
  • Scorpion - (non fiction US Supreme Court)
  • Supreme Power - Jeff Shesol (non-fiction)
  • Zero day by David Baldacci ( I read all of Baldacci's Books)
  • Northwest Angle - William Kent Krueger (fiction - I have read 5 or 6 books by this author)
  • Camelot's Court-Insider the Kennedy Whitehouse- Robert Dallek
  • Childe Hassam -Impressionist (a beautiful book of his paintings)

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Drive, Part 2

After Mullen, I headed down Highway 2 to Broken Bow. Although with a population of 3,500 or so, Broken Bow is a small town, it is the biggest town I had been in since Sidney. I filled up with gas, stretched my legs and bought a bottle of water. One of the things that I find interesting in these small Nebraska towns is that most of them have one or more large grain elevators. They look like skyscrapers as you approach the town. You can see them from several miles away. Many of these towns have been built around the grain elevators. At Ansley, I turned on to Highway 92 that would take me to David City and the Lovely Sharon. Arriving in David City I checked into the Rose Motel, the only motel in town. Sharon was staying at her parent’s house but I wanted to have a little down time in the evenings so she made me a reservation at the Rose. After a quick shower and a change of clothes, I drove to her parents’ house.

When Sharon opened the door, I got a little misty eyed. I had not seen her for some three weeks and not much since mid September. It felt good to hold her again. She had obviously had a trying week but she looked beautiful. Her father came to greet me as well. You could see the pain and loss in his 78 year old eyes. The three of us spent a quiet evening together. I was getting tired after the long drive and headed back to the Rose to read and then sleep. However, except for a single light in the corner of the room, all of the lights were either missing or burned out so there was no reading on Saturday night. The bottom fitted sheet on the bed was too small for the bed and every time I rolled on the bed, the bottom sheet popped off at the corners. I got up a half a dozen times to fix it but each time it popped off again. So I just left it. I slept like a baby in waddling clothes.

On Sunday morning the Lovely Sharon asked me to get a few things at the stores in Columbus, a town of more than 20,000 about 25 miles away. I drove to Columbus, had breakfast and did some grocery shopping. It seemed like I was the only person in the town that was not wearing a University of Nebraska shirt, hat, sweatpants, sweatshirt or coat. So guess what, I bought me and Sharon matching University of Nebraska tee shirts and I bought me a Nebraska baseball hat. So I am set, almost a native, “Go Huskers”.

Back in David City we dressed for the viewing and rosary. Sharon’s sons arrived just in time from Salt Lake. We visited with many family members and friends at the viewing. I didn’t know the friends but after three or four visits to Nebraska in the last 6 years, I was well acquainted with many of the family members. It was nice to see them again, hug them, and talk to them.

Monday was the funeral. We awoke to a foggy, cold, dismal looking day. It looked like a day for a funeral. The funeral was held at the 98 year old St. Mary’s church in David City. It is a beautiful church yellow brick with a tall bell tower and tall spires, warm and colorful inside, with wonderful stained glass windows. It was a lovely service at the Church and at the graveside. A luncheon was held after the service at the Knights of Columbus Hall. I spoke at length with the parish priest about life, dogs and other matters. After lunch, the extended family met back at the house for four or five hours of family time.

Tuesday morning I started my journey back to Salt Lake and arrived home on Wednesday to quiet and cold house.

A death of a loved one, especially a mother, is one of life’s saddest moments. But the events and interactions that surround a death are some of the warmest moments of life. Sweet goodbyes, a gathering of friends and family, and recollections of a lifetime of memories. Tears and laughter abound. The old photographs are brought out; black and white photographs with the pinking shear type edges. Some of the photos were hand tinted color photos of a beautiful young woman frozen in time 60 years ago, a girl with a full life ahead of her. There were pictures from a time when aged parents were children themselves. There were pictures of high school dances, pictures from a wedding more than 55 years ago and pictures of life on the family farm. This family is an impressive family of quiet strength, hard work and strong values. I am honored to be part of it.

During the last several weeks Sharon was able to spend extensive time with her mother, father and brothers. She was there to help make important and final decisions. She was there to provide strength and support at a time when strength and support were needed. I have written about Sharon in humorous essays about “The Boss” and other episodes of our life and I will not doubt do so again in the future, but I continue to stand in awe of my quiet, lovely wife.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Drive Part 1

Last Thursday evening I had just packed my car for an early morning drive to Palm Desert anticipating a Thanksgiving holiday with the Lovely Sharon in our beloved desert. Now it is 5:30 a.m. Sunday, November 22nd and I drinking coffee from a plastic coffee cup at the Rose Motel in David City, Nebraska. Let me take you back a little and share with you the chain of events that brought me to this sterile motel room with four of its seven lights burned out and bed sheets that don’t fit the bed.

On Tuesday, the Lovely Sharon was called back to Nebraska from Palm Desert to be with her mother and family; the second trip in less than a month. In October, the family was told that her mother had nine to twelve months left. This time frame was subsequently shortened to two-four months. Sharon had arrived in Palm Desert on Saturday, November 7th and on Monday, November 16th she received a call advising her to make another trip to Nebraska, her second in three weeks. By Tuesday afternoon she was in a hospital room in Omaha with her mother.

Our plan was that I would drive to Palm Desert on Friday, November 20th and Sharon would fly back to Palm Springs from Nebraska on Saturday and we would spend 8 or 9 days together. During the last 60 days or so we have been apart for more than forty days as a result of one obligation or another. During the last week we kept in touch by phone and I was kept up to date on events in Nebraska. Sharon’s mother received last rites and was transferred from Omaha to her home town of David City by ambulance. There wasn’t much more that could be done in Omaha. On Thursday night after returning from the hospital in David City, Sharon called and told that me she better stay in Nebraska for awhile longer. This did not surprise me as throughout the week I told her that if it looked like she needed to stay, then she must stay and I would either go to the desert or remain in Utah for the holiday. After her call I decided to go the desert.

Within 30 minutes of the initial call, Sharon called back and told me her mother had just passed away. I told her I would be in Nebraska by Saturday night for Sunday rosary and the Monday funeral. I unpacked the car with the Palm Desert items and I repacked for a trip to Nebraska. I could have flown although flight options were limited and prices were high as a result of Thanksgiving. So I decided to drive. Straight through it was 900 hundred miles but I had two days in which to get there. I decided to take the two days, and drive through country I had not seen for awhile, thinking about life, death, family and friends. I set out for Nebraska on Friday morning.

Friday’s drive through Wyoming was not particularly scenic until I reached Medicine Bowe. Although there is not much to see in this town of 275, the nearby Medicine Bow Mountains and grazing antelope are of interest. Finally, I drove into Laramie. This is high altitude plains with strong winds. When I stopped to fill the tank in Laramie I was standing on ice and a cold wind made me shutter while I cleaned the car windows. I grabbed a steaming cup of coffee and headed off to Cheyenne followed by Nebraska. Did you ever notice that restaurant coffee almost always tastes rich and flavorful, better than you make at home, but gas station coffee is just hot. You don’t savor it; it just reminds you that you have some place else to be. When I reached Pine Bluff (the border of Wyoming and Nebraska) it was dark and I was tired. I had not driven through Nebraska in almost 50 years, which I last did with my parents when I was seven or so and I decided I did not want to do so now in the dark.

I stopped for the evening at a town named Sidney. Was Sidney a first name or a sur name? I don’t know. I have always wondered what prompted a town to be named what it is. Who made the decision that would last forever. Salt Lake City? That’s easy, just look to the west desert. Some towns are named after trappers such Ogden, Provo and Fort Bridger. Some are named after explorers or adventurers such San Francisco (Sir Francis Drake). The town of Sidney, Nebraska was an unknown name on the map but I was tired and it was dark so I stopped. The motel was nice, relatively new and clean. I checked in and then walked across the parking lot to a restaurant.

The restaurant was full of people, life and conversation. Although I was alone, with my reading spectacles and a roadmap, it was nice to hear voices around me after a day of driving. Parents telling kids to eat their food, men flirting with the waitresses and old couples talking about the day in quiet tones and few words as though a lifetime together allowed for the communication of thoughts with few spoken words.

Back in the room I looked at the map and decided to take a route out of the way, off of the interstate through the backs roads of Nebraska. I decided to drive to the Sand Hills Golf Club a renown golf course designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore in an isolated part of the sand hills of Nebraska. This course was built in 1995 and since that time has been ranked in the top ten courses in America and the best course in the last 50 years. Sharon, her father and her brothers, were preparing for the funeral and the burial and were generally tied up with matters than I could not help with so I had a day to deal with before I reached David City. I thought of the uncertainties of life, that I may never again have time to drive that way and so I decided to head north toward Mullen, Nebraska, population 459.

The Nebraska sand hills span almost 20,000 square miles (one-fourth the area of Nebraska), it is the largest sand dune formation in the Western Hemisphere. Following the last ice age, wind took hold of the loose sand, blowing it into vast dunes, now covered with prairie grasses, reaching up to nearly 400 feet in height and stretching vast miles across the landscape.

At Ogalla I left the interstate, drove through town and onto highway 62. I left the flat lands of Nebraska for the rolling sand hills. Heading north for a 100 miles or so, I drove through rolling prairie, no doubt looking like it looked a hundred years ago or two hundred years ago, with the exception of  a few farm houses, popping up from time to time like desert oasis. Many of the farm houses were in compounds surrounded on four sides by thick evergreens to protect the inhabitants from blowing snow and blowing sand. Not much corn here, mostly grasses in hues of muted light browns and yellows. The season’s grasses had for the most part been cut and were in gigantic rolls, haystacks or bales most of which still in the fields to be moved. Every so often I passed a herd of cattle, seemingly unaware that I was passing by. I passed  a few cars, a few big rigs and a few pickup trucks. It felt like it was me and the rolling hills together but alone. I stopped from time to time just to look around and feel the wind in my hair. I finally reach Highway 2, the town of Hyannis where I turned right for Mullen.

I stopped at Mullen to ask for directions to the Sand Hills Golf Club. I was told to head down Highway 97 for about 10 miles and if I came to the Dismal River, I had gone too far. I headed down Highway 97 on the lookout for a sign. Finally I saw a small sign that read “Sand Hills Golf Club”. As I turned off 97, there were signs that said private road. Since I was out in the middle of nowhere and I had made a 150 mile detour, a private road sign was not going to stop me. I drove down the road for a couple of miles but came to a locked gate that looked like a cattle gate. The road meandered through tall grass covered sand dunes so you couldn't see what was on the other side of the dunes.  I back tracked and went down a couple of sandy side roads but still no golf course. I saw a house down a sandy lane and drove up to it. As I got out of my car I saw a teenage girl walking up the front steps of her house. She was carrying a shotgun in her right hand. She stopped and looked at me but said nothing. I asked her where the golf course was. She said “just a minute” and she went into her house. A few seconds later a man came out and asked me what I wanted. I told him I was driving from Utah to David City and took a detour just to see the Sand Hills Golf Club. When he told me it was closed for the season I asked him if there was a sand hill where I could stand on just to see the course. He looked at me for a few seconds and said I could follow him in his truck to a vantage point. So I did. We drove a few hundred yards down a sand road where he stopped his truck. I got out of my car and there it was, the famed Sand Hills Golf Club spread out and meandering through the seemingly endless sand hills of Nebraska. The holes did not run parallel to each other but end to end routing through the hills and valleys surrounded by native grass which by this time in late November was dormant. I took a few pictures, thank my guide and headed back to highway 97 where I turned left back to Mullen.

Photo by Patrick Drickey

The Drive Part 2 will be the next entry

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things I Can Live Without

I try to be easy going, I try to live and let live. I am not a horn honker while driving. However, there are a number of things that just drive me nuts.

I use my cell phone often and it is a wonderful tool. But, I could live without:

                 Cell Phone Use in Restaurants. If someone is sitting near me in a restaurant talking to a dinner companion, it is no problem for me. Part of the enjoyment of a meal is the conversation that goes with it. But sit me next to someone at a restaurant who is talking on the phone and I go crazy. I want to grab his cell phone throw it as far as I can and then push his head in his food. If he has something important to talk about on the phone, leave the restaurant.

                 Cell Phone Use When the Plane Lands. I have practiced law for 32 years and have had many business trips and personal trips during that time. Beginning 6 or 7 years ago, people have gone overboard with phone calls when the plan lands. You know what I am talking about. The plane hits the runway and the flight attendant announces you can now use your cell phone. As soon as that announcement is made, 60 of the 80 people on board need to make a phone call. We have been in the plane for 90 minutes or less and ¾ of the people on board have such important thing going on or events that must be attended to that they have missed during the previous 73 minutes so now they have to make a phone call before we get into the terminal. Who are these people? Is it a flight full of bookies or stock traders (oh I forgot, they are same aren’t they)? Are they calling the cops to see if their kidnapped daughter has been found? For gosh sakes what is so important that they can’t wait 4 more minutes. It makes me want to hit them with one of those little airplane pillows.

                    Cell Phone Use in the Library. I go to the library often. Cell phone use is epidemic in the library. My mother taught me to be quite and respectful in the library. I was in two different libraries today. In the first one, a man was talking loudly on a cell phone about what he needed to buy at the store. In the other library there were two phone talkers talking about who knows what, but they both very loud. Listening to both of them reminded me of listening to the dueling banjo’s song where there is an instrumental duel between a guitar and banjo.      Da Da Da Da Da Da;      DA DA DA DA DA DA DA.

I can live without the guy in the car in the next lane who, as you are approaching the stop light, sees that there is one car ahead in his lane and no cars ahead in your lane. So what does the chowder head do? He speeds up, cuts in front of you and then has to slam on his brakes because he only has only 60 feet before he hits the stop light. Now he is in front of you and you are stopped at the light behind him. Does he not have a clue that this may be rude? I have been driving for 41 years and this has pissed me off for my entire driving career. It makes me want to have a special power where I can pull up next to him point my finger at his tire so that he can see me, flick my finger and cause his tire to explode. Kind a like Samantha in Bewitched. Point at another tire and it explodes and so on until he is sitting on his rims. Then I would smile, wave, pull in front of him and pleasantly drive off. A similar situation is the guy who speeds up, pulls in front of you and then has to immediately turn right at the next corner.  Why didn't he just get behind you? My special finger power (not not the middle finger, I don’t do that) would be used on his tires also.

I can live without Sara Palin. This woman is a perfect politician for a Lindsey Lohan- Paris Hilton society; a society that has no substance. A society where image is far more revered than deeds. This woman in the queen of the intellectual desert. She hasn’t read anything including her own book. You know people just like her. People who blame everyone but themselves for losses, mistakes or miscues. She blames the McCain staff for her terrible campaign performance. She blames Katie Couric for asking her questions she could not answer. Please put her on a talk radio show and let her do and say whatever she wants. Let her work out of the same studio in Miami that Rush Limbaugh works out of. Then when she leaves works, she can see Cuba.

I can live without Barney Frank. Although there are some things Barney and I agree on, I can live without him based upon his manner, his attitude and just the way he looks. He ought to be a police detective assigned to missing persons. Or he ought to be frying eggs in Philly as a short order cook.

I am tired of these politicians and fringe lunatics on both the left and the right who refuse to consider that people do have different opinions. (My opinions on Sara Palin and Barney Frank are irrefutable so don’t comment in favor of those people. I am right on this and I refuse to listen to contrary opinions. If you feel otherwise, start your own blog). Utah is filled with people who believe that if you don’t believe like they believe, not only are you wrong, you are evil. Wellllll, I can live without these people.

Ok, I am done. I am going to have a glass of wine, read an anger management book and settle down. By the way, I can live without those bozos who write anger management books.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Sunday morning I awoke to blue skies and a lawn covered with snow. Not a lot of snow, but enough to make the yards totally white. The weekend before last I had raked most of the leaves that had fallen but on Thursday and Friday the stubborn leaves, those not yet ready to give up their attachment to their particular tree, finally gave up and floated to the ground. So by Friday afternoon, my yard had another layer of fallen leaves. I had intended to rake and bag the stragglers on Saturday but the first winter storm of the season in the Salt Lake valley changed that plan. By 11:00 am on Saturday there was a blizzard. When I walked out of the grocery store, the snow was blowing sideways; it was almost a white out. It was a relief to finally get into the car and head home. The onset of winter is always an adjustment. An adjustment in what you wear, what you eat, who you see and how you drive. There were some 100 car crashes in the valley as residents were figuring out they should have slowed down.

Saturday was a day spent in solitude, washing clothes, reading and watching college football. The house was quiet as no one was there but me. I looked out the window for the Neighbor’s Dog, but he was hiding somewhere from the storm. Keeping warm and dry was more important to him than whatever doggie treat I could give him. I finally decided to cook about five meals that I could freeze and thaw out this week for dinner. The kitchen was warm and the aroma of homemade meals brightened up an otherwise dreary day. I cooked a tri trip roast and several chicken breasts. I also made a big pot of risotto. I ate some of my handiwork on Saturday and Sunday but I should be set for the week.

On Sunday it was a welcome change to have sun and blue sky. It was still cold and the snow was still clinging to the lawns, but the appearance of bright sunshine always seems to raise one’s spirits. I ran a few errands, watched movies, read a novel and paid bills. I wrote a check to the Utah Food Bank and the Salt Lake Homeless Mission. There is nothing like a winter day to remind you that some folks don’t have a warm place to sleep or a warm dinner to fill an empty stomach. Sometimes I am remiss and concentrate too much on my own life and not enough on those who need help.

The last three weeks has been a little lonely in a big house, all by myself. When you walk in the house it is cold. Depending on the time of day, when I walk in it is either dark or dim until I turn the lights on. The only sounds are the burglar alarm that is set off when I unlock and open the door and the furnace kicking into gear when I turned up the temperature. I usually say hello to Rudy, a plant the Lovely Sharon and I named a couple of years ago. Although I say hello to Rudy he looks at me without apparent interest, remaining silent, looking at the window contemplating days of summer. Rudy is a rubber plant, a Fiscus Elastica for those of you who prefer the scientific name. Three seasons ago when we were getting the yard ready for winter, Sharon mentioned that this rubber plant would not be brought in the house and we would have to replace it in the spring. I looked at the plant, he looked at me in a begging, kind of “please help me” way. I told Sharon that I would take him in the house for the winter. She initially said no but then reconsidered. She named the plant Rudy and I brought him in the house. He is now working on his third winter. Rudy and I have an arm’s length relationship. Not much interaction. I water him once a week as he looks stoically at me. Nonetheless, I am glad he is resident in the house.

I am taking care of a half a dozen or so other plants that we brought in for the winter. One of which, a small cactus, spent last winter in Palm Desert but now resides in Utah. I think I will take that one back to Palm Desert when I head back down.

I suppose the snow will melt this week as temperatures rise a little but no doubt there will be more snow soon. The summer and the following Indian summer are gone to wherever good weather goes.

Put on your coat, keep your gloves handy and send a donation to the Food Bank.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You Gotta Read This

I read a lot of online news from a variety of sources. I read political articles, financial articles, humorous articles, sport articles, entertainment articles, and anything else you can think of. What makes you click on an online article to read? Most times it’s the title, right? You gotta have a catchy title to attract a reader. Here are some titles that piqué your interest:

Dolly Parton & Jessica Simpson Talk Big Boobs (Huffington Post 11/3/09). Viagra or no Viagra, there are very few men who could pass up this article. One hopes that by reading the story it would be like talking to an archeologist about the Egyptian Pyramids; the secrets of the ages to be unveiled.

The 15 Stupid Products of All Time (Huffington Post 11/3/09). You have to see how many of these products are sitting in your cupboard right now. The Lovely Sharon and I had a slight disagreement last Sunday over whether I should buy Doggy Ice Cream for the Neighbor’s Dog. She won; I lost so we didn’t buy the stuff. But when I saw the product in the regular ice cream section of the grocery store, I thought, “Hey that’s a good idea”. The Lovely Sharon rolled her eyes and said “no way buster”. I wonder if Doggy Ice cream is on this list

Foo Fighters Taking a Break (CNN.Com 11/3/09). I must say I don’t know what a Foo Fighter is. I know what a fighter is but I don’t know what a Foo is. I know what a Fool is (hey don’t even go there; I don’t need some smart-alecky response like “I bet you do”). I have heard of Kun Foo. Maybe it was a misprint and should have been Food Fighter. I was in a number of food fights in high school. Well I guess I better check that one out.

Loon Strips Naked at Brooklyn Polling Place (New York Daily News 11/04/09). I am guessing that they are not talking about the lovely water fowl.

11 Year Old Gives Birth After Going into Labor at Her Wedding (New York Daily News 11/04/09). The only thing I am surprised at here is that this wasn’t about a Utah couple.

Gotti judge on squabbling jurors: Let them eat Twizzlers! (New York Daily News 11/04/09. Here is part of the article:

“Here's a new twist on keeping jurors from each other's throats: Stick a few Twizzlers in their mouths.

The judge in John A. (Junior) Gotti's trial opted for licorice over the lash Tuesday to keep his cranky jury in line, providing the panel with a big bucket of red Twizzlers. The sweets - 105 individually wrapped strawberry-flavored licorice twists - drew smiles and chuckles from the sometimes-sour panel.

"Why Twizzlers?" asked Federal Judge Kevin Castel, posing the question on everybody's lips inside the lower Manhattan courtroom.

First, he said, Twizzlers were tremendous tension breakers: "When you have a Twizzler in your mouth, you can't have a serious conversation."

Second, Castel continued, the red-colored licorice "are kinda sweet ... pleasant tasting. They put you in a good mood."

Finally, Castel noted, there were two ways to eat the Twizzler: Sucking on the licorice, like a baby with a pacifier, or tearing it into small pieces and gobbling it down.
Either way, he noted, the Twizzlers were there to candy-coat the panel's jangled nerves. "If you feel frustrated, you now have something to take that frustration out on," Castel said. Juror No. 1 then carried the red-topped bucket of candy into the jury room.

I love the news

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What A Weekend

You have had weekends that you look back on and you think to yourself “how good was that”. A weekend that you look back on, even months later, and remember with a smile and a warm feeling. Well I just had one. The Lovely Sharon was in Nebraska all week visiting her ailing mother, my dear mother-in-law, Lucille. Unfortunately, Lucille is dealing with some very serious health issues which have caused the family great angst. This week it was hard to be home alone in Utah not knowing what was going on in Nebraska. Each call from Sharon was cryptic with little information being provided since she couldn’t really talk and there was uncertainty on her end as to the results of certain medical tests. In each call, you could hear the worry and uncertainty in her voice. It goes without saying that I spent lonely week thinking about family, friends, health, life and the uncertainty that we all deal with. Things are great one moment and something bad comes out of nowhere. It has happened to all of us.

I read a couple of books this week and worked a little longer at the office each day just to kill time. But when I awoke Saturday it was a beautiful, not a cloud in the sky, day. It was the kind of day that acted like a healing balm on the rough edges of the week. The Lovely Sharon was flying into Salt Lake at 7:00 pm so I had a full day to work with. She called me first thing in the morning and we had a subdued conversation but it was so good to hear her voice. After I talked to Sharon, I called son Alex and talked to him for a few minutes. He was working so I couldn’t see him in person but I felt like giving him a hug, so I called him. He was busy so we only talked for a couple of minutes but we agreed to meet for a late lunch or early dinner next week.

I then visited my Mother and Father. Although I talk to them fairly often by phone, I had not seen them for a couple of weeks so it was nice to sit and talk in person. Our conversations are always interesting as we talk about politics, current events sports and who in the neighborhood has recently died or is near death. My parents always know what’s going on in life, politics and society and they always have opinions about those goings on. When I was younger I used to wonder why anyone would have a conversation which focused on illness and death, but as I get older (57 last week), I find myself reading the obituaries and talking about who is ill, dead or nearly dead. I have officially become old. Damn.

After visiting my parents I went home and raked leaves. I know that raking leaves does not sound like recreation but I totally enjoyed the solitude of our park-like back yard. If you have read this blog before you know about the neighbor’s dog and so you know that when I walked out of the house I had two dog treats in my pocket. I grabbed my rake, gloves, and an inventory of plastic lawn bags and walked into the back yard. Yep, you got it. The dog saw me and walked to our common fence waiting for me to feed him some treats. I gave him both treats, rubbed his head, which was warm from the morning sun, and asked him how he was doing. I put on my Ipod listened to music and raked for an hour so. As I worked, the hawks flew over me and the squirrels chattered around me as they scampered up and down the trees and ran through the yard.

I called my sister and talked with her for a few minutes. I need to blog about her. She is one of the best people I have ever met.

After watching college football, I picked up Sharon at 7:00. I can’t tell you how glad I was to see her standing at the airport curb with her suitcase in her hand. I must say I got a little misty eyed when I jumped out of the car to give her a hug. We had dinner at Hidden Valley Country Club and were joined by dear friends Mike and Shar. Having the Boss back home and dinner with friends topped off a very good day.

Today, Sunday was another beautiful day, the kind of Utah autumn day that just feels right. You can smell the autumn in the air. The temperature is cool but the sun is warm on your face. You Utahns know exactly what I mean. I made us breakfast and raked leaves for two more hours. Yep, more treats for the neighbor’s dog. After I cleaned up, we visited son Nick, his wife Ali and the new baby Kendall. What lovely parents our granddaughter Kendall has. Nick is a fantastic man and Ali is about as sweet and pretty as a lady can be. When you look at Ali it makes you just smile. I got to hold Kendall again, fed her and just basically was in awe of her. You look at an infant and you wonder what she is thinking. Does she know what’s going on? Does she know the dog running around her is not a person but a dog? Sharon bought her a Nebraska Cornhusker outfit. As Kendall gets older, I am hoping to convert her to a University of Utah UTE. I am pretty sure that can be done since, although Nick loves Nebraska Football (the home state of his mother and father), he is a University of Utah graduate. I am thinking that by the time she is three she will be singing “Who am I sir? A Utah man am I”.

Holding Kendall takes me back to the time when son Alex was a new born in 1983. I remember how I felt each time I saw him. I must confess that I was a very proud father. When we brought him home from the hospital he was wearing a little black tuxedo with tails and a bow tie. Don’t ask me where I bought, it, I don’t remember. I just know that when he was in the hospital nursery, all the babies around him were wrapped in swaddling clothes but the nurses had dressed him in his tuxedo. There were a lot people looking through the window at this one day old baby wearing Fred Astaire tails.

Tonight we made dinner for friends Bruce and Barbara. Dinner, conversation, wine and catching up with each other. You cannot place too much importance on what dear friends bring to your life. I continue to marvel at how lucky I am to have such people in my life. I don’t deserve it and I don’t give back nearly as much as I receive from these fine people.

The Lovely Sharon has been home just over 24 hours. In that short time, she asked me why I was driving where I was driving on a freeway detour, she told me not to hit a parked car that I was driving past, she told me to change the shirt I was going to wear to Nick and Ali’s house, she told me to knock it off when I tried to fondle her while I was wearing rubber yard gloves, and she didn’t let me buy doggy ice cream for the neighbor’s dog that I found at the grocery store. Isn’t it nice to have her back? You bet it is. What a lucky fellow am I .

As you know from a previous blog, I have been told that I must be a narcissist because I write a blog. I admit that this entry is pretty narcissistic describing a weekend that means nothing to you but meant everything to me. It brought me peace, joy, love and happiness. To get these things in your life and then write about is undoubtedly narcissistic.

Family, friends, home, colorful fallen leaves, the smell of autumn and blue skies are things money can’t buy. You probably know what I mean.