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)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween

Today Halloween is celebrated in Utah.  I don’t know about you heathens in other states, but in Utah, there is no way that we will let our kids dress up as ghouls, monsters and Lady Gaga on a Sunday.  There is no Utah law requiring trick or treating to be on Saturday when October 31st falls on a Sunday, but I can tell you that most of us here in Utah have received a vision or other inspiration causing each of us to just know that trick or treating is not a Sunday activity.  There is an unstated Scripture.  “Thou shall not beg for candy in monster costumes on Sunday”.  We have a similar prohibition when July 4th falls on a Sunday.  When that happens we celebrate Independence Day either two weeks before or two weeks after July 4th.  Hey this is Utah, I love it but there is a lot of goofy stuff and goofy people in Utah, including me. In Utah we can have 4 or 5 wives but you can’t watch fireworks on Sunday. Go figure.

Tonight all the kids will be knocking on doors and ringing doorbells and the musical cries of “Treat or Trick” will fill the darkened skies.  When the little kids come to the door it is cute and sweet, but you also get a lot of 17 year old hoodlums.  I think they want cash or tires and not candy.  A guy comes to the door dressed as a gang member with chains in his hand and teardrop tattoos on his face. The blood on his shirt is real blood not fake blood. Do you really think that guy wants a Snicker’s bar?  He wants your wife’s necklace.  He wants 10% of your weekly income.

I have never been a big Halloween fan.  Never once in 33 years of practicing law have I ever dressed up on Halloween for work.  Usually I go to work dressed as a casually attired lawyer.  Do you remember when your children were young and they dressed as princesses or lions or something really cute? Do you also remember when they got older and started dressing like hookers?  That was when you realized life had changed.  When there were young, you held their little hand and walked them to a few houses on your street.  When they hit Junior High School, they left early for a candy run and told you they would be home by 11:00 pm.

Have you ever notice how many workers at banks and grocery stores go all out for Halloween?  It’s crazy.  You go into the bank to cash a check and the teller has an axe in her head.  I mean if she is a little slow in getting your money to you, are you really gonna complain to a woman with an axe in her head with blood dripping down her face?  (A side note - Do you ever wonder if it is “AXE or AX”?  Well I googled it – There is no difference; they are simply variant spellings for a heavy tool or instrument used for chopping and cleaving. Ax is the preferred form in modern American English. The word(s) derive from Latin ascia and Greek axine. The plural is axes. I like Axe better so don’t email me and tell me I made a mistake.  The word is also used in urban areas in connection with a question, such as “let me axe you this”.)  

Ok back to Halloween.  You go to the grocery store and the butcher has blood all over his apron.  Makes you wonder if he just chopped up a cow or if he is in costume. Either way it kind a makes you want to eat veggie.

The worst part of tonight’s Halloween is that the University of Utah football game is on at 5:30.  They play the Air Force Academy.  Air Force is always a tough game for the U of U.  So I am going to be affixed to my chair tonight watching the game.  No door answering for me.  I don’t know if the Lovely Sharon realizes it but tonight I will pass her the candy handout baton.  It will be her job tonight to handle the cute little kids and the hoodlums.  If she has a problem, she can call 911.  I need to full concentrate on the football game.
Tomorrow is Sunday October 31st, the real Halloween.  I might go to church tomorrow.  I have not been for a while.  Maybe I will go down to St John the Baptist dressed up for Halloween.  I am not certain what I will wear. Maybe I will go dressed as a man whose wife is mad at him for not handing out candy on Halloween.  The axe in my head may be real. 


Monday, October 25, 2010

Two Hats

Most of my time at home is spent in the Bud Cave.  The Bud Cave is a suite of a bedroom, a bathroom, an office/den and a coffee room where I make coffee every morning.  The coffee room also serves as a storage room. There are a number of shelves in the coffee room that hold mesne supplies, books, financial records and other things. Lately, when I have ventured into the coffee room, my eyes have focused on two hats stored on these shelves.  Each of these hats means something to me; a special meaning.  To see these hats sitting on a shelf, triggers memories, makes me think back to earlier years, and makes me contemplate life. To look at these two hats they don’t appear to be anything unusual or special but they are, they are worth more than money.  Do you wonder how two hats could have special meaning to me? Well here is their story.   

The Straw Hat.  One of the hats is is a light colored straw hat with a tan hat band.  Its brand is a Dorfman Pacific.  I don’t know for certain how old this hat is.  I know it is at least 8 or 10 years old, maybe older.  I doubt it was very expensive. It is a functional straw hat that you might see on the golf course.  I know that because that is where I first saw this hat, on the golf course.  This hat belonged to my friend Don Wingeleth.  I am not certain that I ever saw him on the golf course without this hat on his head.  I would suppose that if you saw Don on the course without this simple straw hat you might not have recognized him. Don passed away a few years back.  He was married to our sweet, dear friend Sallie.  They were sweethearts from the time they first met to the time he was gone.  Don and Sallie.  Those three words almost seemed like a single word. One word to describe two people, two people that almost seemed like just one person.  I met Don and Sallie more than dozen years ago standing in line waiting for a Diana Krall concert at the Salt Lake Hilton Hotel.  We were standing in line hoping to get good general admission seats and as we passed the time we started a conversation. We were pleasantly surprised that each of us was a member of Hidden Valley Country Club.  We talked for close to an hour before the concert started.  That was the beginning of my friendship with Don and Sallie. From this chance meeting, we became part of each others’ lives.  I met their children, all of whom were grown and married. We played golf together in Palm Desert and Salt Lake. We dined together and we attended parties together.  When the Lovely Sharon and I married on the 14th hole at Ironwood Country Club on March 21, 2004, Don and Sallie played in the pre -wedding ceremony golf round, watched us get married in our golf clothes and golf shoes and joined us for a celebratory dinner.  Don and Sallie were special friends to Sharon and me.  Three or four years ago, Don got sick, very sick.  Don and Sallie and their family fought his illness for a year in Utah and Texas.  Finally the fight was over and Don was gone.  Sallie asked me to be an honorary pall bearer at Don’s funeral.  What an honor for me to share one last event with Don.  After it was all over, Don’s sweetheart Sallie told me she had something to give me. I wondered what it could be.  You probably guessed, it was the straw hat. When I took the hat into my hands I had tears in my eyes. What a gift for me from Sal. To give me a part of Don’s life, of their life together.  From time to time while my coffee is brewing, I look at the straw hat.  Occasionally, I reach for it and hold it and think about friends, life and death. To some it’s just a hat to me, it’s more, much more.




The Stetson

The Other hat is a tan felt Stetson.  My grandfather, Everett Headman wore this hat and others like it for as long as I can remember. He was born in 1902 and passed away in 1978.  He had an active life and served as a Justice of the Peace in Salt Lake County for many years.  He was a lifelong Democrat and I blame my Democratic tendencies on him.  As a boy and young man he hunted and fished.  He was a well known baseball player.  As he got older he played golf.  He loved flowers and was frequently working on the mums with my Grandmother.  Everett had an outgoing personality and everyone seemed to like him. He was fun to be around.  More often than not he had a smile on his face.  When I was a boy he told me stories about political events he organized well before I was born.  He showed me dozens of colorful campaign badges.  He told me tales of conventions, meetings and parties.  He told me of one party where everyone got drunk and tried to ride a donkey.  Apparently most of them were bucked off.  He told me that in the 1920’s he hit a home run at a ball park in the Butler Hill area and the ball rolled down Butler Hill into a barn.  According to his story, the barn was torn down some thirty years later and the ball was found.  He told me he had new car in his garage when my father was a boy and my father somehow set the garage on fire and the new car burned up. According to granddad, the neighbors came over to watch the car and garage burn down. Apparently it was an interesting neighborhood event.   I used to spend a lot of time with my grandparents as they lived next door when I grew up.  After my grandfather died I was given his hat.  I don’t remember who gave me the hat; it was either my grandmother or my father.  But I have had the hat for 32 years.  It is stored in the same hatbox it came in when he bought it.  Maybe once a year I take the hatbox off the top shelf of the coffee room and look at the hat. I hold it in my hands feeling the still soft felt.   It makes me think of playing in my grandfather’s yard, jumping in piles of leaves cutting his law for 50 cents.   It makes me think of sitting on his front porch with my big sister swinging in his front porch swing.
It makes me think of driving in his truck with him.  It makes me think of the day he had some big trees in his back yard cut down.  One of the tree cutters got drunk at lunch and after lunch he went back to work on granddad’s tree.  The worker had a rope tied around his ankle as a protective device.  The next thing I saw was the tree cutter hanging upside down from the tree with the rope around his ankle.  He had fallen out of the tree and the rope saved him from hitting the ground.  I remember laughing but I don’t remember how they got the fellow down from the tree.  I know they got him down because the tree is gone.  That had to be in 1958 or so when I was about six years old. Like Don Wingeleth’s hat, my grandfather’s hat is more than a hat.  It is something than conjures up memories from a period of time when I was 4 or 5 years hold to my grandfather’s death in 1978.




So that is the story of my two hats.  It’s a good story for me, a story of warmth, of friends and of family. It’s a story that is a little bitter sweet as it makes me realize there is more of my life behind me than there is ahead of me.  You may have a hat story but your story may be about a quilt, a set of dishes, a photo album or a piece of furniture. It is about some object that is not inherently valuable but an object that causes a flood of memories for you, taking you back to a happy time.

Take the time celebrate your hat stories.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thirty Years Later

I turned 58 years old today. I cannot believe it, I am 58 years old. My back feels 58 years old, but my mind, my personality, my excitement for life, and my curiosity are about 22 years old. It is hard to believe that I was 28 years old 30 years ago, in 1980. Lately I have been thinking about things that are different for me, for life and for the world since 1980 and the things that are the same.

Things that are different. These things are not meant to be funny, nor negative nor positive. They are just things are different (or that I perceive to be different) since my 28th birthday.

I had no son 30 years ago. Now I have a fine 27 year old son, “Son Alex” and two fine stepsons. I also have a beautiful daughter-in-law and grand daughter.

I did not play golf in 1980, I now play golf.

In 1980 I did not google anything, I did not email, I did not text anyone. I did not use the internet. Today I actively do all of these things.

In 1980 I did not have a cell phone. I have since had 10 or 12 different cell phones.

In 1980 University of Utah football team was not very good. They lost five games, they won five games and they tied one game. They lost to Boise state 28-7, they lost to Nebraska 55-9, they lost to Wyoming 24-21, they lost to BYU 56-6 and they lost to San Diego State 21-20. This year Utah is currently undefeated.

In 1980 my father was 54 and my mother was 52. My father is now 84 and my mother is 82.

In 1980 I did not care that much for the Palm Springs area. I now love the Palm Springs area.

Not only was I not leery of Muslims in 1980, I did not think much about them one way or another. Wrongly or rightly, I am now leery about Muslims. I now know much more about the Mid East, Islam and Muslims.

In 1980,I never thought about a black person being President of the United States. Now, the fact that a person is black, Hispanic, or Asian would have no bearing on my view of their qualifications to be President.

In 1980 Utah’s Governor was a Democrat (Scott Mattheson). Utah had Democratic Governors from 1924 to 1944 and from 1964 to 1984. All Utah governors since January 1985 have been Republicans.

In 1980, I thought the Republican Party was dumb. Not individual Republicans, just the leaders, elected and otherwise. Now I think the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are dumb.

I never thought about gay marriage in 1980. Now I think about it and frankly have no objection to it.

As of 1980, I had never been to Europe. I have now been to Europe 7 or 8 times.

I did not expect live TV coverage of all news events 1980. I now expect live coverage of any news events: wars, earthquakes, crime, trials, people growing giant pumpkins etc.

I love my friends. I don’t think I knew very many of my current friends 30 years ago.

In 1980, reality TV was the news or sports on TV. Now reality TV is all kinds of everyday life action. 1n 1980 did you ever think you could watch the following on TV (or for that matter that you would want to?)

            New Jersey Housewives fighting, swearing, and crying
            Overweight people getting weighed in front of cameras
            Football players or other athletes dancing
           Watching people clean and  throw junk away that had been stored in their house and garage (the “Hoarder Shows”)
            Watching someone paint their rumpus room green (or any color) on a home makeover show
            Watching big trucks drive the ice road to Alaska

Things That are the Same

I still love reading, books, libraries, and books stores.

I still love going to the movies.

I still love most types of music.

I still love to take photos.

I still like to look at a beautiful woman.

I still believe life tomorrow can be better than life today.

I still like sports.

I still believe in being kind, nice, and honest.

I still think it is important to help people.

I still am not that interested in going to church regularly. I go more often than I did in 1980, but now it’s the Catholic Church not the Mormon Church.

Orrin Hatch is still a US Senator from Utah. When he ran in 1976, his biggest campaign issue was that Utah Senator Frank Moss had been a Senator for 18 years and that was just too long. Hatch has been a senator now for 34 years and will undoubtedly run for reelection in 2012.

I still appreciate my parents.

I still have doubts about self worth.

I still get excited about beautiful things, the National Anthem, the autumn leaves.

Autumn is still my favorite time of year.

I still think neither figure skating or synchronized swimming is a sport. I still don’t like watching either activity.

Arnold Palmer is still an icon.

I still like living in Salt Lake City

As life moves on, some things remain the same, some things change.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Home of the Brave

My friend Sherm sent me this hyperlink.  It is the National Anthem sung by the miltary academies.  It will give you the chills.  Check it out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ETrr-XHBjE

Vampires

What is up with our continued fascination with vampires? Have you notice how many books, movies and TV shows are about vampires? When I was a kid there were a few Bela Lugosi movies that scared me to death, but now the movies, TV shows and books about the living dead are everywhere. In the old days, Bela, as Count Dracula, would fly around as a bat and upon landing would turn into a human like creature. He could hold his black velvet cape out, jump off a balcony and soar like a vulture. He slept all day in his coffin as the daylight caused him great discomfort. You killed him with a wooden stake driven through his heart with a wooden mallet. It was all pretty simple for the non vampire citizens and the movie goers. You were safe during the day, you went to work but you left work early to get your laundry done, cut the lawn and look for the vampire’s hidden coffin that had been shipped to the United States by some royal person in Europe. You had to be back home by dusk because that is when Count Dracula awoke to begin his nightly search for a blood dinner. The Count always had one or two non-vampire stooges who worked for him.  They ran errands for the Count during daylight hours; you know, go to the grocery store, get video’s, get Brylcreem for the Count’s hair (you gotta be old to remember Brylcreem) and do the other day to-day stuff that a vampire needs done. Every old-time vampire needed a non-vampire stooge. These stooges either were deaf mutes or spoke with an English accent. You never really saw a non-vampire stooge speak with a southern accent. The old time vampires always seem to have lots of money or at least lived like they did with big mansions, expensive chandeliers, big screen TV’s and stuff like that. They always had stretch limos with curtains covering the windows. Kind of like Brittany Spears today.

Sometimes the Count would break into a blood bank for a snack. This was always scary because he always seemed to let a little bit of blood drip of his fangs.

The Count ultimately selected a wife. Once she was turned into a vampire she too slept through the day in a velvet lined coffin wearing  a cream colored satin dress with her hair fixed up in a nice beehive style. In the old days you never really saw a woman vampire with a pixie haircut, wearing a tee shirt and jeans. They were always dressed like there were going to the opera.

Today its different. Some of today’s vampires have daily jobs and they seem to be able to co-exist nicely with the non-vampires in the daylight hours. They work at the car wash, in restaurants or in the United States Congress- oh wait that is a different kind of blood sucker, my bad. Today’s vampires don’t want to bite the neck of everyone; mostly they just bite women with big boobs. It makes you wonder why they just bite the neck of these victims.

Some of today’s vampires are in love with non-vampires and the non-vampires are in love with them. These are mixed marriages. I don’t mean marriages between white people and black people or between Mormons and Catholics, I mean the traditional mixed marriage of the undead wife who exists by drinking the blood of the living and her spouse who is one of the living but who eats TV dinners and regular non-human blood cuisine. The vampire wife does not want to turn the non-vampire husband into a vampire so she does not suck his blood. This is the basic difference between a marriage between a vampire wife who does not suck the blood of her non-vampire husband and the non-vampire wife who sucks the non-vampire husband’s blood dry, particularly in a divorce. (I am pretty certain that that last statement won’t seem to be as funny to my women friends as it will to my men friends.)

There are so many movies, TV shows and books about vampires today, you could think it is a real part of life on earth and who am I to say its not. Frequently you read a news story about the discovery of a new species. Just think about it, a new species never before seen. A new jelly fish from the ocean’s depths in Indonesia, or a blue frog in the Amazon jungle or a Democrat in Utah.

Maybe there are real vampires walking around us. Heck, in today’s political correct world I suppose it would be inappropriate to drive a stake through the heart of a vampire. This would be discriminatory. Instead we would probably have an affirmative action program where vampires could get into schools (probably night schools would be best for them) or there would be parking spots at the mall reserved for the undead while those of us who are human drive aimlessly through the parking lot looking for a spot to park. If a vampire today were in a security line at the airport wearing his cape with blood dripping off his fangs, it would probably be illegal for the security folks to profile him with an extra pat down. He would no doubt be rushed through security with minimum delay while the old geezer with no teeth would be questioned for a half hour.

I will start looking around to see if any of my law partners or golfing buddies are part of the undead. My law partner Vern looks awfully pale and I never see him in the morning. Furthermore he is a bankruptcy litigator and I know for certain that some debtors have accused him of sucking the last drops of blood out of them.

Last Weekend

I haven’t posted any essays lately and surprisingly I have had a number of friends ask me when I am going to post again. So here I am back at it. Last week the Lovely Sharon made a run to the Palm Desert to take down a carload of shoes for the winter. She did have other things in her car but the most important part of the cargo was the shoes. She was gone about six days and she spent time cleaning things up and getting our desert place ready for winter. She returned to Salt Lake on Saturday afternoon. She will head back to Palm Desert for the season in less than two weeks. It astonishes me that it is already that time of year. It seems like she just arrived home in Salt Lake for the summer season a few weeks ago. Even though she was only gone for a week, it was a little lonely without her. However, the weekend was great autumn weather, great fun and some good football games.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Autumn in Salt Lake is particularly beautiful time of year. Most of the days are sunny with blue skies that seem to be a different color of blue than the summer blue sky. Maybe it’s the angle of the sun, or the shorter days, I am not certain but the sky does seem a little different. The mornings are cool and the days are perfect, around 68 degrees. The trees on the mountain side have all turned to oranges, reds and yellows. Some of the trees in my yard have started to change colors but for the most part they are still mostly green. During the last several days, a number of leaves have fallen. Not many but a few. Our back yard is surrounded by trees and the time for raking will soon be upon me.

My dear friends Steve and Cathy invited me to dinner last Friday night. We had a nice dinner, good wine and lively conversation. They have a couple of dogs who seem to like me. Dogs and kids generally seem to like me. Its adult humans who don’t.

Saturday night Sharon and I attended a wine pairings dinner at Hidden Valley Country Club. What a terrific evening with our Salt Lake friends. After a dinner, a whole crowd of us migrated to the soft couches and chairs of the HVCC public room. We sat around talking and laughing about the dinner, public events, golf, friends and other matters. As I sat there amongst these dear friends I considered how important friends are, how much they enrich my life and what a void there would be without them. Some friends I see often, others less often but they all add to the fabric of life. I think it was nearly 11:00 p.m. when we all started to wander out of the club to the darkened parking lot to find our cars and head to our homes. Our friend Terry attended the party without her husband Jim who was out of town. So Sharon and I followed her home to make certain she got in safely.

Sunday the Lovely Sharon and I played golf at the Salt Lake Country Club at the invitation of friends Don and Annette. I am embarrassed to tell you that as I was looking for Annette’s ball which appeared to have trickled into the creek on the 11th hole, I slipped down a muddy slope and hurt my ankle. Two days later it is still painful to walk. To make matters worse, the ball I thought was hers was just an old broken golf ball that had no doubt been sitting there for months. That was not a good hole for me. I hit my ball in the creek, I damaged my club on a rock and I hurt my ankle looking for Annette’s ball. After golf we had dinner together. Despite the happenings on the 11th hole it was a lovely day.

As I sat at work today, the Lovely Sharon called me to inform me that I left the garage door up when I left for work this morning. Luckily no one stole our golf clubs or bikes. I wonder if I close the garage door tomorrow morning if Sharon will call me to tell me I closed the door. Somehow, I don’t think this will happen.

So a week that was more than a little quiet turned into a wonderful weekend of parties, golf, the Lovely Sharon and friends. What more could a fellow ask for.