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, October 30, 2011

More Autumn Musings

Yep, its that time of year. (In Utah we can say "Yep" and we do say Yep.  If you lived in New York or Miami Beach, you no doubt don't hear a lot of Yeps).  It is time to rake the leaves. The days are cool, very cool.  In the morning it is cold.  Yesterday at 8:00 I drove to get the Lovely Sharon a mug of coffee (a shot of half and half, then some Neighborhood decafe topped off with non-decafe hazelnut) at Einstein's Bagles.  It was 27 degrees. It was cold 

The Lovely Sharon has been cutting down flowers the last several days, to get the yard winterized.  All of the patio furniture is under wraps for the winter.  We moved Rudy, our rubber plant of several years, from the back deck into the house where he will remain until May.  A couple of other large plants were moved into the house as well.  This last week Sharon turned the outside water off. I devoted Friday afternoon and several hours yesterday to raking the leaves.  There are still a lot more leaves to rake and plenty of leaves in the trees but rather than wait for all of them to fall, I try to make a little progress day by day.  While I was raking Friday, I could see a deer in the brush about 40 yards from me. We looked at each other for a few minutes and then we each went about our business.

I marvel at the effect that Autumn has on my senses. The vivd colors of the leaves in their journey from green, to yellow, red or orange and finally to  brown before disengaging from their trees and floating to the ground.  A beautiful changing palette of color. The changes in the temperature on my skin when I am out of doors. The aromatic smell of fallen leaves.  I have always loved the smell. Autumn is more quiet than summer.  I continue to hear the squirrels but not many birds.  They are off for warmer environs.  No sounds of lawn mowers or edging machines.

If you look at the pictures above, you will see a lonely looking garden bench in the upper left hand corner.  Friday afternoon, in the midst of raking leaves, I sat down on that bench.  I looked around at the yard.  I looked above the branches of the trees and I could see blue sky.  I looked at our house on the hill above me.  I thought about how fast the last five months have gone by.   I thought about friends past and present and about family. I thought about Son Alex and pictured him as a boy rather than the 28 year old man that he is.  I thought about how fortunate I am.  I thought about the Lovely Sharon and wondered how she puts up with me.  I turned 59 a week ago.  I am stunned by that thought.  Although my body feels 59, my mind feels 30. Although I look at the future and at current events and goings on, I find myself more reflective than in years past.  I find myself wondering if I am doing enough for people, if I am giving enough of myself to helping those around me. I need to do better.  After a several minutes of such contemplations I arose from the bench and bagged up each of those piles of leaves.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Autumn Photos

Yesterday was a beautiful Utah Autumn day.  The Lovely Sharon is out of town.  I visited my mother and father, I visited the grandkids and had lunch with Son Alex. I took a few photos of the Autumn colors.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Vanity Fair

I love magazines. I read a wide variety of magazines.  My favorite, without a doubt, is Vanity Fair.  I have read Vanity Fair for 20 years.  It has great stories, photos and blurbs about clothing, cars, products, music and books. When a new issue arrives, I like to sit in the Bud Cave, with a cocktail or a cup of coffee and dig through it. I am reading the magazine this morning with the music of trumpet player Chris Botti playing in the back ground.

When I read Vanity Fair, I typically have at my side (i) a colored pen for underline interesting passages in the articles; (ii)e a pair of scissors to cut out blurbs referencing websites to check out or books to read; and (iii) a small Moleskine note book to scribble notes.  (If you don’t know Moleskine note books check them out on Google.  They are terrific small notebooks handy for pocket or purse.  You can buy them at Barnes and Noble.)

The current issue of Vanity Fair is terrific:

 - An article by regular contributor James Wolcott describing his literary obsession with Norman Mailer and Mailer’s assistance in helping Mr. Wolcott obtain employment at the Village Voice newspaper in the early 1970’s.

- An article about the current tea party with references to the founding fathers.

- There is a regular feature in most if not all issues entitle “Letter from London”.  This month’s letter from London concerns the famous Savile Row tailoring company, Anderson & Sheppard, the tailor to kings, dukes, movie stars, and many others.

- An article about Kathleen Harriman, the daughter of Averell Harriman, who was once the fourth wealthiest man in America.  I have read a couple of books about Averell Harimann over the years.  This article is based upon a letters, journals and other materials kept by Kathleen.  During World War II she went to England with her father who served as FDR’s conduit to Churchill.  What an interesting life she led. She was in her 90’s when she died this past spring

- An article about Johnny Depp.

- Tbe last page of Vanity Fair is always a series of questions asked of well-known people and their responses thereto.  The interviewed person this month is Bishop Desmond Tutu.

- The wonderful photographer Annie Leibovitz photos are often in Vanity Fair

- The notes I made to myself from this month’s issue of Vanity Fair include:
  • read Boomerang (about the debt cris) by Michael Lewis;
  • see if there is a biography of Bennet Cerf, the founder of Random House publishing company;
  • buy Chef Mario Batalie’s new book Simple Family Meals, From My Home to Yours.
If you like magazines check out Vanity Fair.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bacon - Maple Doughnuts

The Lovely Sharon encourages me to eat better.  I need to watch my weight, deal with diabetes, high blood pressure and bad cholesterol.  I think I have found the perfect food.  The following recipie was in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon maple extract

11/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
8 slices crisply cooked bacon, crumbled

Heat oven to 375 degrees and position the oven rack in the center. Lightly coat the doughnut pans with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and baking soda with a whisk. Melt butter in a small pot over low heat. In a medium bowl, combine melted butter, buttermilk, eggs, maple syrup and maple extract. Whisk until foamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour egg mixture into the flour and stir, using a large wooden spoon, until completely combined.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip, divide the batter equally (using even pressure) between the pans, filling about halfway full.

Alternatively, you can use a gallon-sized resealable plastic storage bag.

Fill the bag and using scissors, remove 1/2-inch from one of the bottom corners and proceed filling the pans as described above.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until doughnuts spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven, invert doughnuts onto a rack and cool completely.

To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar, maple syrup and maple extract in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth.

Dip the top of each doughnut into the glaze and lift, allow the excess to drip back into the bowl. While glaze is still wet, sprinkle with bacon crumbles. Place on a platter and serve. These doughnuts are best served fresh.

Servings » 16 large or 64 mini doughnuts

That is the beauty of Utah. The front page of the LifeStyle Section of the newspaper has a recipie for bacon-maple dougnuts.  If you were reading the New York Times or the LA Times, you would be stuck with some dumb french food recipie or some Thai food recipie.  Not in Utah, we provide recipies of the good stuff, bacon-maple doughnuts.  No wonder Brigham Young said "This is the Place".

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Happy Birthday Mother

Yesterday was my dear mother’s birthday. She was born 83 years ago on October 8th in rural Louisiana to Newton and Mary Ficklin.  She was the little sister to five brothers and one sister.  She moved to Utah in 1945 with her parents and some of her siblings. She has always referred to Louisiana as “back home”.     She married my father in 1948.  My mother is an interesting person and always has been.  She has always been active in associations of many types.  In the 1960’s, together with my father and my  aunt and uncle, she formed a bowling league.  I don’t mean she formed a team, she formed an entire league.  They called it the Mardi Gras league and it was in existence for many years.  Every year at the time of Mardi Gras, all of the league members wore costumes to bowling night and bowled in their costumes.  Usually one of the local TV stations would come to their costume bowling night and film the action for broadcast on the news. She was a good bowler and was the league women’s champion for more years than one.  She also bowled in ladies leagues.

My mother was the president of a local and the Utah State garden association.  She was a relief society president.  She was on numerous committees.  She was asked to be on committees and in associations because she was a person who got things done.  I pride myself on being self-motivated and a person who gets things done, but I attribute that trait to my mother and father who were both that way. 
My mother is fun.  Not everyone is fun but she is and has always been. People genuinely like being around her. She was always up for an event or activity. She played bridge and still plays bridge. When I was a boy, she would shoot baskets with me, play tetherball, play ping pong and do so many other things with me. I do not believe I have ever beat her in ping pong.

She volunteered countless times throughout her life for organizations, charities and just to help neighbors.
Yesterday on her birthday she met another lady at the theater to see an afternoon play.  She has always loved plays and musicals and has attended hundreds over the years at the University of Utah, the Grand Theater, the Hale Theater, the Capital Theater and even in New York the couple of times she traveled to New York.

My mother has always loved to learn.  She taught herself the basics of Spanish and for many years, to my amusement, she carried an English-Spanish Dictionary in her purse.  I always wondered if she ever pulled her dictionary out of her purse to ask a Spanish speaker person some question.   “Senor, por favor me puede decir wheer que es el cuarto de baƱo?”  (Mister, please can you tell me where the bathroom is?)
My mother has always loved to travel. When I was a boy we never had any money but we always went places.  

More important than my mother’s activities and her joy for doing things and being involved in activities, she is a good person; a very good person.   She taught my sisters and me honesty and she taught us kindness.  She taught us to be helpful to others, whether they were people we knew or people we did not know.  She has a spiritual side but has never been one of those persons who believed her beliefs were the only right beliefs.  She went to church but was never a sheep that followed anyone or any dogma blindly. 
She was never afraid to express her opinion on any matter, political, religious or any current event.  I learned that from her.  My little sister Tanya is the same way.

At 83 she is still interested in the world around her.  She will call me from time to time to ask me a question about things going on. She called me once and asked what the Tea Party deal was about.  She will call and ask me what I think about something that is going on internationally or nationally. She asked me why some people are so upset and hateful toward gays.  She has never been one to condemn or be judgmental toward a person because of that person’s beliefs or actions, unless that person was mean or hateful.
I have gone to Mormon Church and I have gone to Catholic Church and have l learned good things at both churches and I disagree with some doctrines of both churches. There is a place in my life for religion but there is a bigger place in my life for the spirituality of trying to be a good person. I try, but for those who know me, you know I am not always successful in this endeavor.   As I look back at my life, I realize that I did not need church to teach me the golden rule or to teach me to be honest or to teach me to be kind.  I was taught those things at home.  The teachings at home were conveyed by words but more importantly, by the actions of my parents

My mother has always taken care of her family.  In 1966, my 16 year old sister died of cancer after a battle of more than a year.  For that entire time my mother was by my sister’s side.  During the long stays in the hospital, including the last five months of my sister’s life, my Mother was at the hospital 15 to 18 hours a day.  When she left the hospital after a long stressful day, my father would replace my mother at my sister’s bedside.  My father has had health issues for 20 years and my mother has been his care giver.  Sometimes she has been overwhelmed by the things and events she has had to deal in her life with but she has never given up.
My mother has always expressed love to me and my family.  How important it is for each of us to hear the words “I love you” from our spouse, our children, our parents and our friends?  I am not sure I can remember ending a conversation with my mother or leaving her house that she did not say I love you.  Yesterday when the Lovely Sharon and I were leaving my mother and father’s house, my boyhood home, she told me she loved me and she told Sharon she loved her. These words are not some mantra or habit that carry no meaning, like saying amen at the end of a prayer, but these words have meaning and  are important to my mother and they are important to me.

Any things about me that are good, if there are any, came from my mother and my father.  Those many things about me that are not so good derive from my own shortcomings and failures.  I have said something before many times to many people and I feel compelled to repeat it here, I was born of goodly parents.
Happy Birthday Mother, I love you.