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)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Road Not Taken

I like poetry. Not all poetry but there certain poets and certain poems that just grab me. My all-time favorite poem is the Road Not Taken by poet Robert Frost:

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This poem was written in 1920. It is easy to understand what is going on in this poem. A man is walking in the woods and comes to a fork in the road. He stands there contemplating which fork to take, the right fork or the left fork. He looks at and thinks about both forks and determines that each fork is equally worn and equally overlaid with un-trodden leaves so neither fork seems to have an attribute or appearance that would cause him to select it over the other fork. The man selects one of the forks, telling himself that he will someday come back take the other fork. Yet he knows it is unlikely that he will have the opportunity to do so. In the last paragraph he thinks about being in the future and looking back on his decision and concludes that he would have chosen the road less traveled.

The concept of this poem sums up each of the large and small decisions that we face each day and from time to time. As a teenager, the decision to get involved with one group of people over another group of people can make a significant difference as to who we become. For the better or for the worse. The decision on what college to attend, what major to choose, or whether to attend college at all, sets us down a life path that may possibly not be altered. The decision to date a particular person, to marry, or to divorce are our folks in the road.

Most of the time, we don’t know if we made the correct choice at the time we make the choice. We have to analyze our choice in the future, looking back in time. As I look back on my choices, I regret some and I applaud others. But regardless if they were the right choices or the wrong choices, they are now part of the fabric of my life and make me what I am and who I am.

I think when it is time for me to cross over from this life to the after-life, I would like this poem read to those that might be gathered, and when the reader finishes reading the poem, reading in a serious tone, like poetry readers seem to have: an earnest tone if you will, I would like the listeners to cheer. To cheer for my choices and to cheer for their own choices. I would like smiles around and warm embraces of each other.

As I continue on in life I look forward to making choices, choosing forks in the road.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Where Would You Go For Three Days

I like fantasy or day dream questions. I always have. When Son Alex was a boy and then a teenager we would ask and answer fantasy questions at dinners. It was fun if his friends were with us each, in turn answering the questions. The Lovely Sharon and I ask and answer fantasy questions from time to time, but I don’t think she gets the same enjoyment as I do from the exercise. There are an unlimited number of fantasy questions and the beauty of it is thinking up a new one. Some of my favorite questions are:

- Who would you like to have dinner with- can be a living person or a historical person?
My Answer- Winston Churchill

- If you had to live somewhere else for six months, where would it be?
My Answer – London

-If you were going to operate a small business, not for money but for pure pleasure
My Answer – a book store.

-What is your favorite hotel?
My Answer – The Berkley in London

If you be fluent in a foreign language, what would it be?
My Answer - French

What is your favorite period of history?
My Answer- 1930 to 1950

What President would you like to be personal friends with – living or dead?
My Answer – Bill Clinton

Who would you like to hear pontificate on any subject – living or dead?
My answer – Conservative author, columnist and commentator William F. Buckley. Although I am not a conservative, I loved this guy’s brain and ability to put words together.

What actress do you have a crush on living or dead?
My Answer- Audrey Hepburn

What food do you wish you were an expert chef for?
My Answer - soup

I love these fantasy questions and I like to hear the responses of people to the questions.

Here is a fantasy question for you. If you could spend three days somewhere, all expenses paid, where would it be? Your three days are exclusive of travel to and fro. Your destination could be near or far. It could in a foreign land or in the good old USA. Your visit could be during any season, summer, autumn, winter or spring. Three days gives you enough time to get a feel of or experience a place but not long enough to do “10 countries in 10 days” type of stuff.

My answer is Paris. Paris in springtime. I have never been to Paris. I want to go to Paris. I want to stroll the banks of the Seine and observe young and old lovers holding hands, embracing and kissing. I want to kiss the Lovely Sharon on the Banks of the Seine. I want to drink strong coffee while sitting in an outdoor café. I want to sip wine and nibble on French bread in an outdoor café while watching people walk by. I want to browse in the Shakespeare and Company Book Store. I want to go to the Louve. I want to go to mass in Notre Dame on the Ile de St. Louis. I want to hum “every little breeze seems to whisper Louise” in a phony French accent imaging that I sound like Maurice Chevalier.  I want to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I want to walk the streets of Paris and think of Hemmingway; imagining him during his time in Paris.

I bet you have a place you would where want to spend three days. I would be interested in your response and I would also be interested in your fantasy questions.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Our Pathethic Congress

Our wonderful congressional leaders are so inspiring. Whether they are polictically left leaning, right leaning or in the middle, they are suppose to be adults, they are suppose to be looking at the good of the Country, the good of the average American, but by and large, they are uninspiring and are primarily interested in one thing only, their own reelection.  Look at the following email sent by a Republican Congressman from Florida to a Democratic CongressWoman from Florida:

From: Z112 West, Allen (Republican Congressman from Florida)

Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 04:48 PM
To: Wasserman Schultz, Debbie (Democratic CongressWoman from Florida)
Cc: McCarthy, Kevin; Blyth, Jonathan; Pelosi, Nancy; Cantor, Eric

Subject: Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman-Schultz

Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional ,and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!

I am bringing your actions today to our Majority Leader and Majority Whip and from this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior……which dates back to the disgusting protest you ordered at my campaign hqs, October 2010 in Deerfield Beach.

You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!

Steadfast and Loyal

Congressman Allen B West (R-FL)

This does not sound like words from a statesman, it sounds like an angry neighbor in a fenceline dispute. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly stated that his biggest goal is to cause President Obama to be defeated in the next election.  He may not like the President, he may hate the President's policies, but to state that his biggest single goal is to defeat the President is a telling statement.  McConnell's highest priority is not to help turn the economy around, it is not to save social security, it is not to aid in the creation of new jobs, it is not to help bring needed tax reform, it is not to help reduce the deficit, it is to defeat the President. Really, that is your biggest goal?   His biggest goal is not to win the game but injure an opposing player.  Would you want this man to be your next door neighbor.  You wouldn't let your dog out of the house when McConnell was out in his yard.

As citizens do we really think that our "leaders" can set aside differences for the common good? Ansolutely not. 

My suggestions:

1. Term Limits, Term Limits, Term Limits
2. All laws applicable to the rank and file American must be applicable to Congress and all members thereof.
3. No pension nor retirement benefitis should be paid from the US Government to the President, Senators or Congressmen.  Election to office is not suppose to be a career. 
4. Cut congressional staffs in half.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Emerald Green Shoes and Other Adventures

The Lovely Sharon hates my shoes. Ok, she doesn’t hate all of my shoes, just some of my shoes. I have the normal shoes: black wing tip dress shoes, oxblood loafers with a single tassel, brown wing tips, oxblood tie dress shoes, and a gaggle of tennis shoes and boat shoes. I also have coven of golf shoes, although I probably have about 135 fewer pairs of golf shoes than does the Lovely Sharon.

The shoes that I have that the Lovely Sharon hates, is embarrassed by and avoids standing next to me when I wear them are:

I have a pair of Myjoy golf shoes that are putty and bright orange. If you are asking yourself what color putty is, well putty is sort of a grey with a hint of tan. The body of this pair of shoes is the putty color. The saddle color is the bright orange. I wear these shoes maybe 4 or 5 times per year. Whenever I do, people look at me as they might look at a serial killer. They don’t want to stare at me but they cannot keep themselves from doing so. Usually there is some confusion in their eyes as though they are not certain what they are seeing. When I purchased these shoes and they were shipped to me, the Lovely Sharon told me that she assumed that Foot Joy (the Myjoys company) must have made a mistake on my on-line order. I told her that there was no mistake, that I had carefully selected this color combination. After I said that, she just looked at me with a look that asked if I was kidding. I told her that I was not kidding. She just got quiet and left the kitchen. I later learned that she went to lie day on the bed with a damp cloth draped across her forehead.

I have a pair of neon yellow Adidas golf shoes. These shoes are solid bright, bright, bright yellow. I cannot tell you how bright the yellow is. It is bright. I did not actually select these shoes when I ordered them on-line. I thought I was ordering silver shoes with black highlights. When I opened the box after the shipment was sent to me, I was pretty surprised to see that I did not have the silver and black shoes but instead had my very own pair of bright yellow golf shoes. I don’t think I have ever seen a similar pair of shoes on any person or at any golf shop. When I look at the Adidas web site, it does not appear that they are even offered for sale any longer. Do you know what that means? That means I have a one-of kind, collector pair of golf shoes. They could be very valuable. I think I might leave them to Son Alex in my Will. “ To my beloved son Alex, I leave my bright yellow golf shoes”. I bet that would help ease his mind over my passing to the afterlife.

I have 2 pairs of multi-color boat shoes. I bought these shoes about 20 years ago. They are Cole Haan brand. One pair is off white, light green and light orange. The other pair is off white, light blue and light pink. These shoes are soft and comfortable. The Lovely Sharon keeps telling me to throw them out, but no way, I am keeping them forever. The pink and blue pair is in my golf locker. The green and orange pair is here at the house. I wear them to the grocery store sometimes. They fit in nicely in the vegetable department. These shoes may also be left to Son Alex upon my demise. He has to be loving the prospect of getting such a legacy.

The last pair I want to talk about has been ordered but has not been shipped to me yet. They are supposed to arrive next week. This is an emerald green pair of Ralph Lauren canvass tennis type of shoes. These shoes come in several colors but the emerarld greens caught my eye. The Lovely Sharon and I have had a couple of arguments about these shoes. I saw them in the Herrington catalogue and I thought “cool, very cool”.  After seeing them in the catalogue I excitedly left the Bud Cave and sought out the Lovely Sharon who was upstairs working on her computer. I was pretty certain that she would love them as much as I did. Wrong. She hated them. When I told her that I was going to order them she told me that she was vetoing that idea. I defensively asked her how she could veto my purchase of emerald green shoes. Her response was “Because I can and I am”. She told me that emerald green shoes would not go with any outfit on the planet earth. I explained that men wore clothes not outfits and furthermore, that emerald green shoes would go with lots of clothes. She responded that they were not stylish. I told her that I bought clothes and shoes because I liked them not because they were in style or that they were acceptable to a fickle audience. We argued about the shoes and the claim of her veto rights for an hour or so. She thought she won. The next day I ordered the shoes. Here is a picture of them next to a red pair. If the emerald green pair is comfortable, I think I will buy the red ones.

My advice is to be bold, go where no man has gone before, wear the shoes you really want to wear.  Don't let your spouse veto your choice.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Good Golf Last Week

I am always impressed by people who play good golf either in absolute terms or just in comparison to their handicap. Last week there were three rounds of golf at Hidden Valley Country Club that were impressive to me.

Tire Guy Steve

The Staker Group was formed in 1989 by Gordon, Doug, Guy and me. The members of the group have changed over the years but we currently have some 20 members and on any given Thursday we have 8 to 16 players in the group. Every player has three bets against every other player. We play a point part game where a net par is zero points, a net birdie is plus 1 point and a net bogey is minus one point. Each of the front nine, the back none and the combined 18 holes, is a separate bet. For example, if you shoot one worse than your handicap on the front nine and two better than your handicap on the back nine, your point three par scores would be -1, +2 and +1 total.  If I was minus two on the front nine and plus 1 on the back nine, my point par scores would be -2, +1 and -1 total. You would win the front nine bet, we would tie the back nine bet and you would win the combined 18 hole bet. Accordingly you would win two bets from me. Each player would compare their three point par scores with each other player and would either collect or pay (or tiewith ) each other player. Generally, if you shoot your handicap, you win money.

Last Thursday we had 11 players in the Staker Group game, two foursomes and a threesome. I was in the first foursome and one of my playing companions was Steve the Tire Guy. Steve is a 26 handicap and I have played with him dozens of times over the last few years. The Lovely Sharon and I have been to dinners at his house and Steve and his wife have been to dinners at our house. Steve and I are good friends. Like all of us, Steve’s game goes up and down. Well last Thursday Steve had a fantastic front nine. He was +7 in our point par game. Unbelievably he was 7 strokes better than his handicap on the front nine. In all my years of playing in the Staker Group, that was one of the best nine hole point par scores I have ever seen. It was a thrill to see this dear friend have such a great first nine holes. He played his handicap or one better than his handicap on the back nine so for the 18 holes, his point par was +7 or +8. Congratulations pal.

The Lovely Sharon

Late last Friday afternoon, the Lovely Sharon and I played 18 holes of golf at Hidden Valley Country Club. If you know the Lovely Sharon or have read this blog before, you know that the Lovely Sharon is a very fine golfer. Her handicap normally ranges from 3 to 7 and she plays many great rounds. Last Friday’s game was one of her best. Her total score was 73 on the par 72 Mountain/Valley Courses at Hidden Valley. On the front nine (the Mountain Nine) she shot 36 with two birdies and two bogies. Although we all have “should of”, “could of” and “would of’s” in golf, I can honestly the Lovely Sharon should have shot a 35 on the front nine. On the back nine she shot a 37 with a three putt bogey on the 17th hole and a lip out birdie putt on the 18th hole. It was a great round and I was very proud of the Lovely Sharon and it was a thrill to watch.

Head Pro Ryan

Ryan, the head golf professional at Hidden Valley Country Club, is a fine man, a wonderful head pro and a terrific golfer. Ryan plays often with the men and women members of the Club. I have played with him a couple of times. Last week, Ryan shot 60 at Hidden Valley. It is hard to believe that he was 12 under par as he set the new course record. I would have loved to have been there to see such a round of golf. A friend of mine and the Lovely Sharon, Shar did play with Ryan in his unbelievable round. Congratulations Ryan.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Summer Evening

Yesterday I worked from about 6:30 am until around 3:30. I arrived home from work around 4:00, changed into some yard work clothes, put on my Ipod and worked in the back yard for just over two hours. Right before I finished for the day, the Lovely Sharon walked into the back yard and looked around at what more had to be done on a future day. After 20 minutes or so, we walked into the house. I showered and put on some clean clothes and she made dinner. After dinner, I walked back out in the back yard with an icy glass of cranberry juice. It was sweet and cold and refreshing after a long day. The yard was more than just shady; it was dusk as the sun had gone down behind the hill west of our house. I listened to the creek that abuts our back yard and to the chattering squirrels leaping from limb to limb, tree to tree above me. I looked up hoping to spot at least one of the squirrels but they were too high in the trees and the twilight time of evening was upon me and so the squirrels remained hidden from my hopeful view.

I slowly walked by the creek for 30 yards or so, watching the fast water roll over the rocks and sand on the floor of the creek bed. I think for most of us the sounding of moving water is a soothing sound, an appealing sound that draws us to it. I watched the water and listened to the squirrels for 10 or 15 minutes. I looked down stream hoping to see the pair of mallards, a male and a female, that spend considerable time in my creek or on the bank next to the creek. They have been there off and on for at least a year. At first blush, the thought of a pair of ducks spending time at the creek rather than on a pond somewhere seemed strange to me. But I have grown accustomed to their presence and I always look for them when I am in the yard. I suppose the spot in the creek is a good choice for them. It is a quiet, shady and protected spot. We have deer in the yard from time to time by I have not seen coyotes or foxes. So maybe the lack of predators is also a drawing point for my ducks. Yes, I claim them as mine. I have developed an emotional bond with them and their presence at the creek is welcome by me. I doubt they have the same emotional bond with me but when I get near them they just look at me and do not fly away.

As I stood by my creek, it was getting closer to the darker end of twilight. I could see my neighbors on the other side of the creek. They were on their deck about 20 feet or so above the level of the creek. We exchanged waives but not words, which seemed appropriate so we did not disturb the sound of the creek, the squirrels and the birds. I finally walked up to the house, past the waterfall, onto the lower patio and sat in one of the chairs. I just sat there for awhile as it got progressively darker. It seemed that sounds of critters and insects got louder as nightfall arrived. I wasn’t thinking about anything; not the day’s work or the yard work, nothing. I just sat there and observed nature with my ears and eyes until it was too dark to see much other than the lights of the neighbor’s deck shining through the trees 60 or 70 yards away.

I finally stood up and took one last look at the yard, at the evening and went into the house. Summer evenings can bring a quiet joy and comfort that sometimes we don’t take the time to appreciate. I did appreciate last night.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


It is hard to believe that it is already the Independence Day weekend. The days are already getting shorter. The Lovey Sharon and I have spent considerable time the last month working in the yard, planting flowers and trimming everything. But after working in the yard for a couple of hours this morning, I am going to take it easy the rest of the afternoon and then we will join dear friends Norm and Terry for dinner at a new nearby restaurant. Sitting here in the Bud Cave, I have been thinking about our Country. How wonderful it is to be an American. Even the name the “United States of America” does something to me when I see it printed or hear it announced. I have never tired of seeing the stars and stripes flying against a blue sky. I don’t know whether our flag is actually the best looking flag of all the countries or if it just seems so to me.

When I think of the USA I think of many things. I think of the political discussions with my friends. How wonderful it is to debate and argue openly and in public over political and economic issues and to be able to criticize our elected leaders. As Americans it is not only our right but it is our responsibility to voice our opinion to stand up for our ideals and beliefs. How wonderful it is to be able to write on a blog that most of my friends (right leaning Republicans) are wrong about almost everything. How wonderful it is to have friends who tell me I am totally wrong on pretty much everything but yet they are still my friends.

We have so many gigantic issues facing us now, healthcare, Medicare, Social Security, runaway debt, unemployed, crashed real estate markets and spending billions of dollars weekly in Mideast wars that can, in my opinion not change the ingrained beliefs of people that have been solidified for two thousand years. I think about these issues constantly. I watch the news, I read the news and I listened to the news. Sometimes it is just too much. From now until Tuesday morning, July 5th I am not thinking about that stuff. I am going to think about the physical beautiful of our country, I am going to thank God for our freedom, I am going to give thanks to those men and women who have served in the military since 1777; those who gave their time and their lives because they believed it to be their duty. I am going to think about how lucky we are to be able to vote someone out of office rather than overthrow a ruler.

I am going to think of the following:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

America, I love you and I am so thankful to be a citizen