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, June 25, 2011

Farewell to a Dear Friend

It was around 5:00 or so last Saturday afternoon. I had just showered, put on some golf shorts and a tee shirt. I was tired after working all day in my yard with the Lovely Sharon and Son Alex. It was a tiring but a good day, working side by side with the two people who mean the most to me. Son Alex had left for his house and the Lovely Sharon was showering and washing her hair. I sat on a soft chair on my deck and decided to check my email. I saw two emails from Wayne, a good friend from Palm Desert. Wayne is the godfather of my Ironwood Country Club men’s golf group. Since most of the group is gone from Palm Desert for the summer season, I thought he must have sent some dumb joke or some inspiring email like we all get more often than we care to. As I opened the email on my cell phone I was only half paying attention to it. When I did read it, the words hit me like someone had struck  me with a club. Wayne was informing our group of men friends that our dear friend Glenn has died in an automobile accident the previous evening and Glenn’s wife Diane had been injured.

The news was numbing. I ran to Sharon and told her what had happened. The phone number of one of Glenn’s sons was on Wayne’s email and I called him. He and Diane were at the funeral home arranging for the funeral and burial. This was all unbelievable. I ached and had tears in my eyes as I hung up from the call.

Glenn was just about as unique of a person as anyone I have ever met. I have been friends with him for ten years or so, meeting him and his first wife, also named Diane, at Ironwood Country Club. I played dozens of round of golf with him over the years. I had dinners and lunches with Glenn, I attended many parties that Glenn also attended. I knew this man and knew him well and the thought of him not being alive was more upsetting that I could have guessed.

Glenn had a love of life, a love of golf, a love of jokes and a love of his family. His first wife, Diane and he had been married for more than 40 years when she passed away from cancer. The Lovely Sharon and I played golf with Glenn and Diane not too long before she died. She was ill and we all knew that she would not be getting any better, but during our golf round, Glenn was still trying to help her with her swing. I can still remember that day when Glenn was trying to get Diane to try a new, in the vogue, golf swing and I can still hear her objection telling him in a rather bothered tone that “I don’t want to do ‘stack and tilt’”.

Most of the time when I saw Glenn he would come to me, shake my hand or put his arm around me. He would frequently say something about the Lovely Sharon’s golf shoe collection or he would tell me how good of a golfer she was and how bad I was. He was right on both accounts. He would always have some very dumb joke that took forever to tell and he would have forgotten that he had already told it to me. I would always let him tell me the joke again because I loved how much pleasure he got out of telling the joke. Sometimes his jokes or comments were a bit risqué and I think more than a few ladies at Ironwood, were not happy about his adolescent behavior. Adolescent is a good word for Glenn. He had a joy of life and friends and golf that was boyish in its enthusiasm. He was 69 years old but he was not an old man. I think Glenn’s emotional age stopped around 16 or 17 years old. Some of us just get to be grumpy old men as we age and we lose that adolescent ability to see wonder or humor or awe around us. That was not Glenn, he enjoyed his life and when I was with him, he made me enjoy my life more.

After Glenn’s first wife Diane died, Glenn was alone and he was not a man who was meant to be alone. Glenn needed a partner. He needed someone to impress, to laugh at his jokes to scold him when he needed to be scolded which was fairly often. He was lucky to find a new lady and coincidentally, she was also named Diane. They were married this spring near the 14th hole at Ironwood’s South Course, the same place where the Lovey Sharon and I were married in March 2004. The wedding was short and sweet and so very private. There were only seven of us there including the bride and groom and the retired judge who conducted the ceremony. I was pleased to be one of the witnesses signing the official state of California form of marriage. A week or so later, the newly married couple had a reception at the Clubhouse which was attended by so many friends. There were hugs and laughs and heartfelt pleasure that these two people had found each other. Glenn and Diane asked me to give the official toast at the wedding reception which I did and which I was so honored to do.

Glenn read this blog and frequently said something about it. He made fun of me or suggested new topics or told me he liked the blog. Last year at a party he came up to me and told me to write a blog entry about him. I did and if you care to, you can read it at http://www.bheadman.com/2010/02/dentist-glenn-from-minnesota.html.

So last Saturday night the Lovely Sharon and I sat on our deck and toasted Glenn again. I cried several times that night. For some reason this gentle adolescent man had made an impact on me. I will miss him. I will miss his laughter and I will try to be just a little more adolescent.

Good Bye my dear friend.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fitted Sheets

I absolutely hate putting a fitted sheet (the bottom sheet) on a bed. You think it would be easy to take your sheets off the bed, take off the pillow cases from the pillows, throw them all in the washer, wash them, put them in the dryer, dry them and then put the clean sheets back on the bed and the clean pillow cases back on the pillows but noooooooo! When I take the clean fitted sheet in my hand and stand over the bed getting emotionally ready to attempt to put the fitted sheet on the bed, I start to panic. I begin sweating, my heart starts pounding and I feel somewhat light headed. I hold the sheet, I look at the bed and I try to figure out what ends of the fitted sheet are the top and bottom. You know what a fitted sheet looks like in your hand; it is not easily apparent where the top is. I get it wrong almost every time. I almost always start by trying to put the top and bottom on the sides of the bed instead of on the top and bottom of the bed. They don’t fit that way. Trying to make them fit that way is an exercise in futility.

There is nothing on the fitted sheet that provides easy information as to what is the top and what are the sides. Consider the flat sheet, which is the sheet that goes on top of you not under you. The flat sheet has a 3 or 4 inch hem on the top. You look at the flat sheet and within seconds you can tell which of the four sides is the top of the sheet. There is no guess work. You do not have to spend 8 or 10 minutes revolving the sheet around the bed until you determine which side is the top. If I manufactured and sold sheets I would put the word “Top” on the top of the fitted sheet. If this were done poor saps like me would be able, without stress, to easily determine what goes where.

Even if you finally figure out which side is the top of the fitted sheet, it is like a wrestling match with a monkey trying to get the fitted sheet to stay adhered to the bed by being wrapped around the corners of top mattress. I take one corner of the fitted sheet and I loop it over a corner of the bed. Generally, I start with the top right hand corner of the sheet where I hook it over the top right hand corner of the bed. I then take the diagonal corner and walk carefully around the bed to the bottom left corner. I carefully, oh so carefully, slide the left hand lower corner of the fitted sheet over the left hand  lower corner of the bed. It seems that I have done this perfectly so that the two diagnol corners seem to be secure. I then gently take a third corner of the fitted sheet in my hand and carefully move to the corresponding corner of the bed. Then it happens; one or both of the corners of the fitted sheet that I truly believed were securely attached to the two diagonal corners of the bed, spring free. It is like pulling back the elastic or rubber part of a sling shot where the tension occurs in the sheet and it goes sailing across the bed. Then it just lies there on the surface of the bed. I look at it, now wadded in a heap and it looks at me. It looks at me with a smirk and you can almost hear it whisper “Want to try again”? What are you going to do? You have to try it again because in order to make the bed you have to start with a foundation of the fitted sheet properly affixed to the bed before you put the top sheet, blankets and bed spread on the bed.

So I try again and get the same result but this time the sheet is flying around the bedroom and lands on the floor. Now not only do I stare at the sheet but I use some choice language (language you would not use in front of your mother) encouraging the sheet to be more cooperative. Usually after 4 or 5 attempts I get three of the four corners secured. At this time I stop for a glass of wine and sometimes refresh with a shower. Then I move to the fourth corner very slowly and quietly. I act as though I am doing something else like straightening books or measuring the dust on my night stand. That way the sheet does not know exactly what I am going to do next. It lets it guard down. It relaxes on the bed as I get closer and closer to the elusive fourth corner. I keep my head turned sideways so it appears that I am looking somewhere else when I am in fact looking at the sheet. Finally, I get right next to the sheet, quickly bend down, grab the final corner and slip it over the last corner of the bed. I stand up majestically, proudly with my hands in the air, like a rodeo cowboy who has just tied to the legs of steer after jumping from his horse and lassoing it. As I back away, inevitably, one of the other corners of the fitted sheet pops free of the bed. Now I get angry, not a little angry, but really angry. I start over. Ultimately I win; I get the fitted sheet properly secured to the bed. But it takes 15 minutes and causes me significant frustration. I am pretty certain the fitted sheet wants to be on the bed but it it believes there is a certain sport in the event, a competition between me and the fitted sheet and it  loves that competition.

I think someone should make a mattress with maybe 30 or 40 fitted sheets built right in the mattress like tissues in a tissue box. You use one and the next one pops up. You use up one fitted sheet, you rip it off the bed and throw it away and the next new clean fitted sheet pops up. No stress, easy and fast. When you have gone through all of the fitted sheets you throw the mattress away.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Books to Check Out

As many of you know I am an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction. The Lovely Sharon is a reader as well. You might want to check out some of the books I have read in the last several months.

Author John Sandford has several series of fictional works. Wikpedia has the following information about Sandford: John Sandford is the pseudonym of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling novelist John Roswell Camp. Camp was born on February 23, 1944, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He received a B.A. in American History and a Masters in Journalism from the University of Iowa. Camp worked for the Miami Herald from 1971 to 1978. In 1978 he moved to Minneapolis and started working for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press as a features reporter before becoming a daily columnist at the newspaper in 1980. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1980, for a series of stories on Native American culture. In 1986 he won the Pulitzer for Non-Deadline Feature Writing for a series of stories collectively titled "Life on the Land: An American Farm Family". The series, written during the midwest farm crisis, followed a typical southwest Minnesota farm family through the course of a full year. He stopped writing full-time for the Pioneer Press in 1989, although he didn't stop entirely until the next year. In 1989 Camp wrote two novels that would become the first books of his two best-selling series. Both novels, The Fool's Run of the Kidd series and Rules of Prey of the Prey series, were accepted and due to be published three months apart. The Fool's Run was published under the name "John Camp", but the publisher asked Camp to provide a pseudonym for Rules of Prey so it was published under the name "John Sandford". After the Prey series proved to be more popular, with its charismatic protagonist Lucas Davenport, The Fool's Run and all of its subsequent sequels have been published under the "Sandford" name. In 2007 Sandford started a third series featuring Virgil Flowers, who previously was a supporting character in Invisible Prey.

During the last few months I have read Sandford’s Naked Prey, Broken Prey and Wicked Prey books. They were terrific reads. I plan to read more of the Prey Serious. The Sandford Website is http://www.johnsandford.org/

A non-fiction book you may consider if you are interested in Cuban History or in Bacardi Rum is Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause byTom Gjelten, a correspondent for National Public Radio. I provided some legal services to a relative of Mr. Gjelten and was fortunate to speak with him on the phone a couple for times and engage in several email communications. Mr. Gjelten sent me an enscribed copy of this book and a nice note. Although Bacardi rum is made in Puerto Rico and other Carribbean countries, the Bacardi family and the rum were of Cuban descent. This book is well written and is an interesting history of the family, the business and Cuba and I highly recommend it.

When I first started dating the Lovely Sharon, she turned me onto Stuart Woods books. Mr. Woods has a series of books about lawyer Stone Barrington. These books are quick fast reads. In the last couple of years a few of the Barrington Books did not quite grab me. With that said, I found the latest entry in the Barrington Series, Bel- Air Dead, to be quite enjoyable. Like all of the Barrington books, this is a fast read with lots of action, beautiful women, murder, jets, and big money. Stuart Wood’s Web site is http://www.stuartwoods.com/.

A very informative, well written and easy to read book is the recently published history of the investment bank Goldman Sachs. Many of the current and former government financial decisions makers came out of or went back into Goldman Sachs. A recent book, Money and Power; How Goldman Sachs came to Rule the World by William Cohan, almost reads like a novel. Cohan asserts that all of Wall Street in general exerts a tremendous influence over the federal government, in terms of helping to write the regulations of financial systems, but he argues that Goldman Sachs in particular has used its power. According to Cohan, "Goldman Sachs especially has been very, very good at getting right up against that line of wrongdoing. They know exactly where that line is, and they're very careful most of the time to just stay on this side, and they help influence the way regulations are enforced."

I am currently reading a new biography of Robert Redford.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

High School Reunion

Last night the Lovely Sharon and I attended my 40th High School Reunion.   In June 2009, I wrote an essay in this blog about Granite High School - http://www.bheadman.com/2009/06/granite-high-school.html  -  and its closure after more than 100 years of service as an educational instituion.    When I first heard that the 40th reunion would be held in June 2011, I was not particularly excited about attending.  I thought maybe I would attend but maybe I wouldn't.  I knew I would be busy in early June with a family wedding and other events and responsibilites. Except for a few people, I really had not kept in contact with classmates from a class of almost 700. I had not seen most of my classmates since graduation day. As I thought about the reunion I wondered if I would recognized people, remember names or even care if I did.  But then It happened,  I started receiving emails from the reunion organizers encouraging me to attend.  I finally thought,  what the heck, I would go. 
 
The reunion was held at the school, in the cafeteria.  The Lovely Sharon and I arrived at 6:00, the designated starting time.  As we drove into the parking lot, I was surprised at how many cars were already there.  I checked in at the registration desk and was given a name tag with my picture from our senior yearbook.  Sharon was given a blank name tag on which she wrote her name.  It was then time to mingle. As I looked around at faces and bodies, I only recognized a few classmates. But the strangest thing happened.  As I approached people or was approached by people, I looked at their faces, old faces by and large, and then looked at their name tag picture, I was taken back 40 years.  I could picture them as they were back then.  I could remember them and remember the  friendship and warmth I felt for them.  I remembered how they were so important in my life 40 years ago.  This happened over and over all evening  as I was reacquainted with dozens of old friends.   It was somewhat odd that as I talked to classmates and looked them in the eye,  I did not see the almost sixty year old man or sixty year old woman.  I saw the young person they once were.

These were the people that, along with me, transitioned in high school from adolescent to young adult. Forty years ago we shared a common experience at Granite High.  We shared laughter, parties, school events, and high school struggles. On a more global scale, we have shared the history of the last 58 years.  We shared Vietnam, presidential terms, terrorists, natural disasters, technological advancements and financial booms and busts.  We have raised children and contributed to society in various ways during the last 40 years.

At one point in the evening, the reunion organizers paid respect to those who had died since high school.  As their pictures were shown on  a screen in the darkened room, I felt a lump in my throat as I contemplated that these friends had died.  I was aware of some of the deaths but not all of them.  Surprisingly, I felt a personal loss over their deaths, lives cut short, leaving familes and friends behind.

I talked to football and basketball teamates.  I talked to fellow chorus and Madrigal  members, I talked to student government members and to so many others.   I talked to so many people that I was overwhelmed with the flood of memories.  I was surprised at things people told me that I had said to them 40 or more years ago, or things I did with them or for them.  One friend, a basketball teammate, told me that I had taught him to play the harmonica, something I did not recall.  Several people told me that I had shown act of kindness to them or had encouraged them in some way all those years ago.  As you may expect, this made me feel good about myself.  Wouldn't it be sad to think that 40 years ago you were mean or unkind to someone would remembered such unkindness all of these years later.

At one point in the evening we all stood up and sang our school song, "The Song of the G".  We sang with emotion, warmth  and passsion.  I got misty eyed as I sang, recalling every word these 40 years later.  I looked around as we sang and  it appeared that this communal activity of singing this song,  a song that represented a common bond and a time of life when we were innocent and when all things seemed possible, was having the same effect on others that it was having on me.  When we finished the song, I kind of wished that we could sing it again, right then, right there.  It felt like looking at photos in an old photo albumn where you let your gaze linger on the photo a little longer.   Where you wanted to feel the edges of the photo with your fingers and where you wanted to go back in your mind and recall that time.

Life is a journey, a progession where we move forward and get knocked back.  Important life events of college, jobs, mariages, divorces, grandchildren, illness and deaths have enriched and challenged each of us.  Each of us have traveled our own life path, meeting new friends, raising families, working, playing, having new interests, and growing each in our own way. We each have things we are proud of and things we regret  but for a few hours last night we were at a common place together, celebrating each other, celebrating our own lives and recalling times past, times that helped make us who we now are.

I thank the event organizers and workers, Lorrie, Diena, Nancy, Steve, Colby, Vickie, Ralph, Mike, Joe and others for putting together such a wonderful evening.