Recently Read Books

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  • Winter in Madrid - C.J.Sansom (Fiction)
  • The Brothers - John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles - non-fiction
  • LIfe Among Giants - Bill Roorbach (Novel)
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  • Woodrow Wilson (non fiction)
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  • 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, September 30, 2011


Autumn, my favorite time of the year. After a most difficult past seven days, it is time to write of something that brings some joy to me. Utah autumns are beautiful.  No wonder Brigham Young said "This is the Place". He no doubt moved here for the beauty of the autumn.  It has been more than ten days since I first notice the trees on the Wasatch Mountains surrounding the east side of Salt Lake City have started to turn colors. Reds, yellows and oranges. Reminders that the days of summer are gone and winter is but a couple of months away. It has been unseasonably warm in Salt Lake this year. Normally, our temperature would be around 72 degrees but for the last several days it has been more than 85 degrees. The sky has been cloudless for most of the past 10 days. The blue skies of autumn somehow seem a little different to me than the blue skies of summer. I don’t know why, they just do.

The golf course at Hidden Valley Country Club is spectacular in the autumn.  Sometimes it is difficult to concentrate on golf as you look at the colorful mountains, the turning trees.  The deer seem more active, meandering through the course eating the fallen apples.

The Lovely Sharon and I have a park-like back yard and some of the leaves are starting to turn yellow. A few have already drifted down from their summer home on their respective tree to the still green grass below. I won’t be raking for another couple of weeks and for now will let the few leaves that have fallen be picked up by the lawn mower.

Autumn has always seemed like a new beginning to me, rather than a sign of the end of the year. It is probably because autumn marks a new school year. I was always happy to start a new school year from elementary school through law school. I always liked buying new supplies to start the new year. What would my classes be like? Would my teachers and professors be interesting and helpful in the learning process? Would I do well in my classes?

I like football. I played football at Granite High School so many years ago and autumn brings me back to memories of those long ago days. I remember gathering with my teammates to watch the first year of NFL Monday Night Football. It seemed thrilling to watch football on TV on a Monday night. I still like watching Monday Night Football.

The squirrels are active now, getting supplies stored up for winter. Sharon told me there was one on our deck yesterday. She looked at the squirrel and the squirrel look at her. I think they had some unspoken communication going on. He was no doubt looking for parts of cushions or something else to provide insulation for his winter home. The Lovely Sharon not doubt communicated “No way buster, get off the deck”. I am familiar with her non-spoken communication. I have frequently read her thoughts when she has communicated “no way buster” to me.

Well I better go shower and get ready for the day it is almost 5:00 a.m. I woke up around 3:30 and read for a while and then decided to write something for the blog. Nothing of substance, but something to help get me back to some form of normal life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Doug and Beckie

Last Friday, our hearts were broken. Many of us received such unbelievable news, unbearable news, from a phone call network of friends. We were stunned. We cried, we ached. We could not comprehend the news we heard. Our dear friends Doug and Beckie were gone. They had a long list of golfing friends and acquaintances from Hidden Valley Country Club and the devastating news was relayed from friend to friend. People were not being gossipy, they were dumbfounded, they sought understanding, they sought answers, they sought solace and they sought closure.

Over the last ten years, my wife Sharon and I have had many golf rounds and dinners with Doug and Beckie. We have been at their house in Salt Lake and their home in Palm Desert. They have been to our houses here and in Palm Desert. By and large, their friends were our friends and our friends were their friends.

Beckie had a long association with the ladies at Hidden Valley where she was involved with golf, with bridge and with an investment club. She had been the president of the Hidden Valley Ladies Association. For most of her life Beckie had been active in many things, socially and as an owner and operator of small businesses.

Beckie was tough. You could not push her around. But she had a soft and gentle side as well. Nearly 10 years ago, a time before I married Sharon, I needed a ride to St. George. Sharon was in St. George at a ladies golf tournament or some other ladies activity. I was still courting Sharon and she told me to come down to St. George on the weekend. I did not want to take my own car since Sharon had her car with her. I wanted to be able to ride back to Salt Lake with her at the end of the weekend. I wanted to ride home with her and convince her I was the guy for her. Beckie heard that I was looking for a ride to St. George and she called me. She asked me to ride down with her since she was heading down for the weekend. I cannot tell you what an enjoyable four hours we had. We talked non-stop about lives and loves and work and friends. We talked about golf. We talked about life changes and we walked about family and friends.

Beckie was the boss at her house. She told Doug what to do in all matters and he did them. If you asked Doug to do something or to go somewhere, whether you were asking just him or asking him for the both of them, he would always respond with, “I have to ask the apple of my eye and then I will get back to you.”

She made the house decisions, the business decisions and the family decisions. Not so different from many of us men, whose most frequent phrase is “Yes Dear”.

Doug Boudreaux. If you just said his name, people had a response, they had an image. They had a visceral reaction. For some people it was a good response, for some it was not so good. Those people did not know the inner Doug. For his friends, the words “Doug Boudreaux” made us smile. We seldom called him Doug whether we were talking to him or talking about him. To us, he was “Boudie”.

How many times on the driving range or in the clubhouse did I hear his pals say things like:

“Is Boudie playing today”?

“Where is Boudie?”

“Did you hear what Boudie said on Thursday?”

I met Boudie in 1988 or 1989. Boudie, Gordon Staker, Guy Toombes and I formed the “Staker Group”. For the first few years it was not much of a group. It was just the four of us who played golf together a couple of times a week. We were truly friends. Over the years the Staker Group expanded, it contracted and it expanded again. Currently there are some 20 men who are either full time or part time members of the Staker Group. The Staker Group is just about diverse as a group can be. Our members are contactors, lawyers, accountants, financial planners, business men, psychologists and real estate professionals. We are Caucasians, Asians, Greeks, and Hispanic. We are made up of Mormons, Catholics Protestants and the anti-religious. Our group includes Mormon Bishops and recovering alcoholics.

Boudie was a fixture in the group. If you were in the Staker Group you have been insulted by Boudie more times than you can count. You insulted him back as many times. As bizarre as it seems, the love for each other was expressed in many ways, man hugs and compliments but particularly in insults. We worried about each other, our wives and our children.

When one of our Staker Group members lost a baby just after birth, it was Doug who talked to him. It was Doug who talked about the afterlife with him.

As most of you know, Doug and Beckie lived on the 8th hole of the Valley Nine at Hidden Valley. If Doug was not playing with us on a particular day, we would hit our tee ball and then head over to his yard, walk through his gate and sit on his patio. We would call out for him to come out and join us on his patio. Over time it came to feel like our patio. Doug and Beckie would come out and sit with us and we would talk for awhile as other golfers passed us by, no doubt wondering why there were golf balls on or near the green. Most of the time the passing golfers just left our balls where they were and we would eventually finished the hole. Doug and Beckie would offer us a cocktail, a soda pop or a glass of ice water. Whatever we wanted they would give it to us. Sometimes if Doug was not at home, Beckie would come out and listened to our jokes and lies. She would roll her eyes and laugh at us. One day, we had sat there for four or five minutes but had not yet seen or heard Doug or Beckie inside the house. Finally, we heard Beckie’s voice through the open window. She said “Doug you better get out there, I don’t think they are going away.” The door opened and there was Doug with his smile, saying “Can I get you boys something?”

Doug, had a skill, a God given talent if you will, to say a word, a phrase or a comment that was either hilarious or disgusting or both. Over the years some of his comments became legendary. His comments became known as “Boudieisms”. There were stories about shop goggles. There were stories about Doug telling a single golfer who inquired about joining our players on the first tee that Doug did not need any more friends. He told the fellow he had enough friends and he didn’t like most of them. The fellow just turned and walked away. The general problem with the Staker Group is that we enjoy the disgusting stuff a lot. We repeated it. We told his stuff to others. Sometimes we claimed a Boudieism statement as our own. Each of us has our own special Boudieisms. Most of the Boudieisms are best left for the golf course or for sitting around the patio with our pals.

On last Saturday morning at 7:30 am, members of the Staker Group gathered on the first tee of Hidden Valley golf course with drivers in our hand and tears in our eyes. It was the appointed time for the regular Saturday game. We took off our hats and listened to the mournful prayer of one of our Bishop members. Golf was not too important that day.

On Sunday September 25th, the Staker Group gathered together at Gordon’s house to celebrate Doug, to celebrate our friend. We repeated Boudieisms that cannot be said here. We laughed and we cried. We gave man hugs throughout the evening. We listened to another prayer for Doug and for Beckie, for their children, for their grandchildren and for their friends. We sang Amazing Grace, off key to be sure, but this simple song was sung with conviction and emotion by some 13 saddened men. As the sun set, we quieted down and softly spoke of Doug and how we would miss him. I think our gathering together helped each of us a little. If Doug had been there he would have had us laughing. As for me, as I drove away in my car, my tears had dried but the ache in my heart remained.

The passing of Doug and Beckie has shaken each of us to our core. I think we each have asked ourselves if we could have said something or done something that might have changed events. We will never know. We will forever wonder “What if?”

Neither Doug nor Beckie were perfect people. They made errors and mistakes and in some instances bad life choices. Just as each of us are not perfect persons. Each of us has made countless errors, mistakes and bad life choices. But they were good people. They were good friends. They loved their children and their grandchildren. They were loved by their friends. I am proud to call them my friends. They are forever a part of my life. They are interwoven in the fabric of my life. My memories of times together will stay with me. I will remember them in life, I will miss them dearly.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sounds and Smells

What a blessing to have a sense of hearing and a sense of smell. Sometimes we don’t appreciate the joy, the happiness and the emotion these senses bring to us. The memories they conjure up for us cannot be overstated. I, like most of us, have favorite sounds and favorite smells.

I like the sound of the basketball swish. I like the sound of the golf ball dropping into the cup.

I like the mournful sound of the music of trumpet player Chris Botti early on a Sunday morning when the house is dark and the Lovely Sharon is asleep in her bed and I am reading in the Bud Cave.

I like the sound of cat purring beseeching me to rub it.

I like the sound of a toddler laughing. We don’t have to teach a child to laugh; there is just something in the human makeup that allows us to appreciate something funny.

I like the sound of a church bell calling the faithful to a Sunday morning service. The church bells at St. John the Baptist in Draper, Utah were made in Belgium. When you are walking into the church when the bells are ringing it makes you want to do good, to be better.

I like the sounds of the Lovely Sharon’s shoes on the oak stairs as she descends to the Bud Cave. She never slowly walks down the stairs. It is always a semi sprint with her heels clapping hard on the hardwood stairs. I know she wants me to do something or to tell me something. It is never a bother or a disruption.

I like the sound of squirrels chattering in our backyard. Of late, they have been loud and never seem to stop. I think it is driving the Lovely Sharon crazy but since I am already crazy, I like it.

I like the smell of hot, fresh bread.

I like the smell of chicken cooking on the grill.

I like the smell of a lawn freshly cut. It reminds me of highs school football.

I like the smell of two-by-four boards as they are cut with a circular saw. It reminds of me of my father who spent his life as a contractor carpenter.

My favorite smell, well that’s easy. My favorite smell is the natural aroma of the Lovely Sharon. The smell of her neck. Not her perfume, just her.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The New Golf Swing

I am not a great golfer. I love golf and have in the past been a better player than I am now but I have never been a great golfer. My lowest handicap of my life has been a 10 and I was not a 10 for more than a few months. I was a 12-13 for several years, but 10 or 12 years ago, I developed arthritis in my upper back causing my back bones to fuse together and as a resuklt it has become difficult to make a turn. Because of the difficulty in turning back on the backswing and turning through on the down swing, I have lost distance. In order to attempt to regain distance, I have tried 327,000 different golf swings. I might be exaggerating it might only be 325,000 golf swings. I have tried so many variations and techniques that I have forgotten my authentic golf swing. You might recall my blog essay I think we each have an authentic golf swing, the one we were born with. It can be refined, it can be developed but I think it is hard not to have swing characteristics as an adult that you had as a child, but none-the less, many of us seek the elusive better swing, longer drives,  and more accurate iron shots. It is as though we are each, in our own way, a Ponce de Leon, looking for the Fountain of Youth somewhere in Florida.

(For those of you who do not understand the Ponce de Leon reference, you should have not skipped so many history classes in high school. From Wikipedia - Juan Ponce de León y; (1474 – July 1521) was a Spanish explorer. He became the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish crown. He led the first European expedition to Florida, which he named. He is associated with the legend of the Fountain of Youth, reputed to be in Florida.)

Sometime in early August, I was hitting golf balls on the practice range at Hidden Valley Country Club. I was trying to see what new golf swing I could find. I tried something different (lifetime swing change number 325,001). I started hitting the ball pretty well. It seemed to be going further and straighter. I could do it over and over and the new swing seemed to worked for me. Was I was excited? No I was damn excited. When I arrived back at the house, I sprinted inside to share my discovery with the Lovely Sharon. Ok, I am a chunky 58 year old man with a bad back so maybe I did not actually a sprint. It was more like the waddle of a fast three toe sloth. I located the Lovely Sharon in the Bud Cav. She was writing cleaning advice to me in the dust on my desk. Sometimes I wonder how dumb she thinks I am. She can only write “Dust Me” so many times on my desk before I finally realized that a human wrote the words “Dust Me”. It was not my desk crying out in pain experiencing a stigmata causing words to appear. Since I finally realized the writing was done by human action, I was pretty certain it was the work of the Lovely Sharon. We are the only two who live in the house. I did not think a burglar would break in and write "Dust Me" on my desk in the Bud Cave.

Despite her pathetic attempts at secret writing, I continued to be excited to share my new golf swing with her. I took the Lovely Sharon in my arms; we were so close I could smell her wonderful natural bouquet. My mouth was smiling, my eyes were smiling I could hardly talk. She looked at me with questioning eyes and she finally broke the silence (I was still unable to talk in all of my excitement) and she asked “Did we win the lottery?” I should my head to indicate that no, that we did not win the lottery. I kept smiling.

She then asked if I had cured cancer. I again responded with a no but then added “It is something better”. She asked what could be better than winning the lottery or curing cancer. I told her that I had a new golf swing. Her eyes rolled. I mean they really rolled. They went back in her head so far that only the whites were visible. I thought she had suffered an attack of some sort before I realized that in the last 7 years of marriage, I have undoubtedly told her that I had a new golf swing more than a 1,000 times. She has actually called the cable company and had them remove the Golf Channel from our cable line up. When the pupils of her eyes were back to where they are supposed to be, I told her that this time it was different, this new swing actually worked. With a lack of conviction, she responded with a quiet “We’ll see”.

The next 8 or 9 rounds of golf, I played well, I shot my lowest scores of the year, I hit the ball straight, and for me long. I was in a state of bliss. The Lovely Sharon was happy for me.  She was happy for her as she contemplated a married life without ever again hearing the words “I have a new swing”.

My golfing life has been great the last month. I had finally found the key to success. Bad golf was behind me.

Yesterday in Sunday Couples  golf at Hidden Valley the Lovely Sharon and I were paired with Bill and Martha, two wonderful friends and great golfers. They have won many tournaments over the years. Bill played particularly well yesterday. I was excited to play with them and decided not to say anything about my swing, but rather, I would let my clubs do the talking. I shot 104. It was my worse round in five years. Let me repeat that: “I SHOT 104”. In truth it was more than 104 as the Lovely Sharon took pity on me and gave me a couple of 6x’s when I should have had a couple a more 7x’s. This was a painful round of golf. Sharon, Bill and Martha tried to be kind. They tried to be supportive and, they made the appropriate sounds of condolences each time I hit the ball. They treated me like you tip toe around a friend with an incurable disease. You know he is a gonner but you say something like. “You look nice in that hospital gown”.

I cannot tell you how glad I was to have the round come to an end. I doubled bogey the last hole and frankly, I played so poorly that the double bogey felt like a birdie.

It is Labor Day. I slept in until 6:00. Late for me. The Lovely Sharon is fast asleep upstairs in her bed, no doubt dreaming of her own wonderful golf skill. I am at my desk in the Bud Cave. Its dark outside and the only visible light is the small green shaded banker’s desk lamp on my desk. I have decided that after I shower, I am going to Hidden Valley Country Club and look for a new swing.