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, December 28, 2013

Christmas Thoughts

Another Christmas come and gone.  Presents opened, colorful wrapping paper discarded.  I had a wonderful Christmas season with family visits, cold weather in Utah and warm weather in California. The Lovely Sharon and I had dinners with friends; we had Christmas Prime Rib at home and attended a lovely Christmas morning Mass. 

 Beginning around December 1st I started watching the Hallmark TV Channel round the clock Christmas movies.  I especially liked the Dog who Saved Christmas.  That Dog was a good actor and was so in tuned with the Christmas Spirit.  I cried when he high fived the 12 year old son of the family at the end of the movie. You just are amazed at how a dog can figure out the family problems, develop a sound and effective plan to solve those problems and get it all done by Christmas Eve.  That is truly a great dog.

 From watching all of these Christmas movies, I was surprised how many people (the “harassed family member") rent fake boyfriends, fake girlfriends and fake fiancée’s (the “fake beloved”) to bring back home to their small town family Christmas celebration, never thinking that the rental of a fake beloved might result in some zany problem and embarrassing disclosure to the unsuspecting family.  I saw three or four of these movies.  The plots are pretty much the same.  The harassed family member going back home for Christmas is tired of the harassment from the family for not having found someone who they would eventually marry.  The harassed family member hires someone to play their beloved for Christmas.  The fake beloved is given a crash background course about the family and the harassed family member. A phony history of the fake beloved and the harassed family member is created so the unsuspecting family can be told of how their wonderful romance developed.  The family really likes the fake beloved and the harassed family member actually falls in love with the fake beloved. in a two day period  The fake romance is found out and the fake beloved leaves and everyone is sad, angry and/or disappointed.  The family realizes the harassed family member has, over Christmas, fallen in love with the fake beloved and they all tell the harassed family member to go find the fake beloved and bring him/her back to the family.  The fake beloved is brought back, everyone is happy and no doubt a wedding will occur in the near future. 

Courting and marrying the Lovely Sharon was hard enough and our relationship was and is real.  If she would have been my fake girlfriend and then my fake fiancée, can you imagine how tough that would have been?  Come to think of it, when she took me back to Nebraska for the first time, she gave me a crash course about her family and she took me to visit the members of her extended family and she took me to visit the members of her ex-husband’s family.  We did not get married until a couple of years after that trip.  I wonder if for that trip and for the next two years if I was the fake beloved?


Monday, December 23, 2013

Life Among Giants

I just finished reading a novel entitled Life Among Giants  by Bill Roorbach.  An unusual but compelling story.  I learned of the book from a review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. The lead in the story is David "Lizard" Hochmeyer and the book tracks his life from high school through the next 40 years.  There is  a double murder, a world famous ballerina, a dead rock star, and other interesting characters. The novel had a Great Gatsby feel to it.  I am not suggesting it is derivative, it is its own unique work.  I really liked the David Hockmeyer character.  He was a good guy, trying to do the right things, entranced by the ballerina and other girls and women throughout his life. 

The following is from the New York Times:

An enchanting, darkly mysterious ballerina. A dead rock star. An unsolved double homicide, decades old. A father felled by a shadowy past. An older sister as beautiful as she is mad. A gay vegetarian chef covered in tattoos. His transvestite lover. Secret passageways, nighttime trysts, affairs, embezzling, illicit recordings — all of it revolving around one 6-foot-8, humble, sincere, Ivy League-educated orphaned professional football player. Really, what more could you want?

I thought it was a very good read.  Check it out

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Valoy Eaton, Artist

About once a year or so I get the urge to post something about Utah Artist, Valoy Eaton.  I think this is my third post about Mr. Eaton.  I have one small original painting by Mr. Eaton and I love it.  As I have stated in previous postings, his paintings look like Utah; they feel like Utah.  Although I have never met Mr. Eaton, he has sent me an email or two after coming across my blog entries about him. I do hope to meet him one day and thank him in person for how his paintings make me feel.

Here are a some paintings from Mr. Eaton's website:


There are originals and print's a Valoy Eaton's work available on his website.  Check it out

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Santa Claus is White, Santa Claus is Black and Santa Claus is Brown

What is all this fuss about Santa Claus being white and not black.  Like many of these meaningless controversies they seem to start at Fox News or blown out of portion by Fox News.  The big question is who gives a sh*t.  With all of the issues in the country and in the world, what I wonder why black vs. white Santa is even discussed.

Santa Claus was apparently based on St. Nicholas.  I found the following on

The story of our modern Santa Claus begins with this same Nicholas, who was born during the third century in Patara, a village in what is now Demre, Turkey. His wealthy parents raised him as a Christian. But they died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young, and he was left with their fortune. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his inheritance to assist the suffering, the sick, and the poor. During the persecution of Christians by Roman Emperor Diocletian, Bishop Nicholas was exiled and imprisoned along with thousands of other Christians. Though he suffered for his faith in Jesus Christ, mercifully Nicholas survived this persecution and was eventually released.

After returning to his post as bishop, Nicholas was called upon to defend Christianity against the heresy of Arianism. A contemporary of Nicholas and an early church theologian, Arius taught that God the Father and God the Son did not exist together eternally. Arius also taught that the pre-incarnate Jesus was a divine being created by (and possibly inferior to) the Father at some point, before which the Son did not exist.

Tradition tells us that Nicholas vigorously fought Arianism, and was listed as a participant in the First Council of Nicaea. This important gathering, held in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day Iznik in Turkey), was convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 325 A.D. This was the first ecumenical council of the early Christian Church, and it produced the first uniform Christian doctrine -- the Nicene Creed.

St. Nicholas Becomes Santa Claus

According to the Saint Nicholas Center Web site, after the American Revolution, New Yorkers were looking to break with British tradition, and they remembered with pride the colony's nearly-forgotten Dutch roots. John Pintard, an influential patriot who founded the New York Historical Society in 1804, promoted St. Nicholas as the patron saint of both the society and the city.

In January 1809, Washington Irving published the satirical Knickerbocker's History of New York, which made numerous references to a jolly St. Nicholas character. This was not a saintly European bishop, but rather a Dutch burgher with a clay pipe. The jolly elf image received a big boost in 1823 from a poem destined to become immensely popular, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," -- now better known as "The Night Before Christmas."

Washington Irving's St. Nicholas strongly influenced the poem's portrayal of a round, pipe-smoking, elf-like St. Nicholas. The poem generally has been attributed to Clement Clark Moore, a professor of biblical languages at New York's Episcopal General Theological Seminary.

In North America, the popular name Santa Claus was taken from the Dutch Sinterklaas, which originated with a contracted form of Sint Nicolaas (Saint Nicholas). The "Mall Santa" that we are all familiar with -- sporting a red suit with white cuffs and collar, and black leather belt, became the popular image in the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century because of the "Merry Old Santa Claus" images created by political cartoonist Thomas Nast.

Beginning in 1863, Nast began a series of annual drawings in Harper's Weekly that were inspired by the descriptions found in Washington Irving's work. These drawings established a rotund Santa with flowing beard, fur garments, and a clay pipe. Nast drew his Santa until 1886, and his work had a major influence in creating the modern American Santa Claus.

In the mid-20th Century a series of Coca-Cola advertisements featuring a rotund and jovial Santa Claus was drawn by artist Haddon Sundblom and further popularized Nast's depiction.

There are, of course, controversial aspects of the American Santa Claus fiction. Some Christians believe he takes the focus of Christmas away from Jesus Christ, placing it on a fictional character with little redemptive value. Others insist that it is unhealthy for parents to lie to their children to enforce their belief in Santa Claus. And others say that Santa Claus is a symbol of the commercialization and consumerism that has seized the Christmas holiday in the West. Still for others, Santa Claus and the modern celebration of Christmas is seen as an intrusion upon their own national traditions.

But beneath all the symbolism and tradition that has been attached to the modern American Santa Claus, he, like so many other "Father Christmas" characters before him can hearken back to a simple Christian bishop who loved God and loved people. Bishop Nicholas displayed his love through the giving of gifts, just as our Heavenly Father gave the gift of His Son to us that first Christmas morning 2000 years ago.

In this season, we celebrate how God gave His Son, Jesus, to bring hope to the world. May each of us prayerfully consider how we, like Nicholas, can give of ourselves to help restore hope to those that God brings into our lives.

So now we know.  Santa Claus is from Turkey.  Was he white, was he black, or was he brown. Who cares?  The story of St Nicholas  - Santa Claus is to be cherished.  The men who today represent the image of Santa are from all walks of life and from all backgrounds.  I for one believe in the Christmas Spirit that each Santa brings to us.

Both of these Santa's work for me.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Life of Patrick Leigh Fermor

I just finished reading a biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor written by Artemis Cooper.  I can tell you this is a very interesting book about a very interesting man.

 A description of Mr. Fermor from New York Review of Books:

 Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) was an intrepid traveler, a heroic soldier, and a writer with a unique prose style. After his stormy schooldays, followed by the walk across Europe to Constantinople that begins in A Time of Gifts (1977) and continues through Between the Woods and the Water (1986), he lived and traveled in the Balkans and the Greek Archipelago. His books Mani (1958) and Roumeli (1966) attest to his deep interest in languages and remote places. In the Second World War he joined the Irish Guards, became a liaison officer in Albania, and fought in Greece and Crete. He was awarded the DSO and OBE. He lived partly in Greece—in the house he designed with his wife, Joan, in an olive grove in the Mani—and partly in Worcestershire. He was knighted in 2004 for his services to literature and to British–Greek relations.

From the Sydney Morning Telegraph newspaper

 In 1933 Patrick Leigh Fermor was 18 years old and washed up: he'd been expelled from school, couldn't get into university and had no idea what to do with his life. So, inspired by the likes of Peter Fleming, Robert Byron and Alexander Kinglake, Fermor decided to walk from London to Constantinople with the vague idea of making a book out of his adventures.

Paddy [as he was also known] Leigh Fermor was born in London to a father who was emotionally and physically distant (while the boy went to a series of boarding schools Sir Lewis Leigh Fermor continued his work with the geological survey of India). After his epic Constantinople walk, with no career plan, Fermor moved permanently to Greece and he was there when World War II broke out. The British recruited him as a secret agent operating behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied Crete, where, somewhat incredibly, his small band of partisans managed to capture the German general in charge of much of the island.

Fermor's literary reputation was established by the books he wrote about his post-war travels in the Americas and his time spent in Greek monastic retreats. Gregarious, witty and ebullient, Fermor seems to have known everyone who was anyone - the great and the good all making the pilgrimage to his beautiful villa in Greece. He was rumored to be one of the models for his friend Ian Fleming's James Bond.

Fermor was handsome and was popular with the ladies. His was life was one of adventure and travel, friends and lovers.  I highly recommend the book.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holding Hands Redux - Repost from September 2, 2010

Here is a repost of one of my favorite blog entries

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Holding Hands

Most days I drive the 17 miles from my home in the southern end of Salt Lake County to my office in downtown Salt Lake City by way of surface streets rather than by way of the freeway. I generally avoid the freeway on my way to work because frequently there is a car crash or some other event that slows traffic down to a crawl. My return home at the end of my business day is generally also accomplished by way of surface streets. 

Each morning I leave my home between 6:15 and 6:30. In the summer it is that time of day when the night has left but yet the sun has not yet come up. Its dawn, when the sky is starting to lighten up but the moon, the stars and some of the planets are still shining. As I drive to work the sky continues to lighten. When I look out toward the western part of the Salt Lake valley, I see the sun is shining on the Oquirrh Mountains and the adjacent west side neighborhoods. The moon has such beauty at this time of morning that I occasionally will pull over to the side of the road just to look at it.

My usual route is to drive down 1300 East from 10600 South to the Van Winkle Expressway at about 5200 South. Each day I pass the same homes, schools and businesses. I have come to know and recognize their normal early morning look. I recognize the cars in their driveways. I can see if the newspapers have been delivered or whether the paper boy is running late.

For the last month or more, I have driven past an elderly couple walking on the west side of 1300 East between 6600 South and 6200 South. This couple intrigues me. They appear to be in their late 70’s. Every day he is dressed in long gym shorts and a white tee shirt. He wears a hat. The same type of hat that the golfer Byron Nelson wore. In his right hand he holds a walking stick.

His female companion, who I assume is his wife, wears a white blouse. She wears what, during my boyhood, were called pedal pushers, but in more recent time are referred to as capris. Hers appears to be denim.

Each day I look forward to seeing this couple. I wonder about them. I have passed them no less than 30 times this summer. Here they are walking down the sidewalk before the sun comes up; wearing essentially the same outfits each day. The most remarkable thing is that every time I see them they are holding hands. Each day they walking down the sidewalk he with his hat on his head and holding his walking stick holding hands with a handsome elderly lady.  Are they an old married couple, 50 or more years together whose hands now fit together?  Their hands aging over the years, transforming from the hands of young people to the weathered, leathery hands that come with age.    Or are they experiencing new love, joined together after previous spouses have passed on. Are they holding hands to protect each other from the physical imbalances that the elderly sometime have to deal with or is it an expression of love? They don’t seem to be in conversation when I pass them. They are just silently walking together before the sun comes up.

As I pass them I am flooded with memories of my father’s parents, my grandfather and grandmother. Whenever they drove together in a car or a pickup, he had his left hand on the steering wheel and his right hand resting lovingly on her knee. It was though his touch of her knee provided a reassurance to each of them; that things were alright and they were together.

I hope that in twenty years I am holding hands with the Lovely Sharon, walking down a sidewalk somewhere. Communicating silently through our hands, no need for words, watching the morning sky and content to be walking with the woman I love.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ladies Shoes - Been There, Done That

Many of my friends, know that the Lovely Sharon has lots of shoes.  She has lots of golf shoes and every other kind of shoes.  Last weekend as I was sitting in the Macy's ladies shoe department in Palm Desert waiting for her to inspect every shoe in the department, it struck me that we have been married for approximately 9 and 3/4 years.  Based upon my best estimate, and calculated on 8 hour days, I have concluded that I have spent more than three straight months in ladies shoes stores with the Lovely Sharon.  I have spent another two months looking at costume jewelry at Macy's.

I recently received the following email news story from a friend:

A Chinese man jumped seven stories to his death after an all-day shopping mall trip with his girlfriend, who insisted they visit one last sale. After five hours of shopping at a large Pengcheng Square mall in Xuzhou in the Jiangsu region of China, Tao Hsiao, 38, demanded he and his girlfriend head home, the Daily Mail reported.

Eyewitnesses said they heard the girlfriend insisting they go to a shoe store that had a sale, which led to a fight between the couple, CCTV reported.

"He told her she already had enough shoes, more shoes that she could wear in a lifetime, and it was pointless buying any more," an eyewitness told CCTV. "She started shouting at him accusing him of being a skinflint and of spoiling Christmas, it was a really heated argument."

That's when Tao threw their shopping bags to the floor and jumped over the seventh floor balcony, smashing into Christmas decorations on his way down, the Daily Mail reported. He was killed immediately. No one else was injured, a spokesman for the shopping center said.


I  don't have anything to add to this story except, as in the words of the immortal Casey Stengel, "its like deja vu all over again".

I will probably buy the Lovely Sharon some shoes for Christmas.

The Lovely Sharon

The Lovely Sharon in Hot Pink Golf Shoes

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Scissors Redux- Repost

Repost from - Wednesday, December 5, 2012


There are products we use every day that make our lives easier.  I am not talking about big obvious things like the car or the plane or the computer but little things like scissors. Think about it, life would be much more inconvenient without the simple scissor. Scissors come in various sizes from tiny to gigantic.  Tiny scissors for your nails, scissors for surgery, scissors for kitchen purposes, scissors for cutting paper, scissors for cutting cloth, and scissors for industrial purposes.
Scissors are used by blue collar workers, white collar workers, by surgeons and by first graders.  I use scissors all of the time to cut articles and ads out of magazines and newspapers.  I love to sit in the Bud Cave on a Sunday morning with the New York Times and a pair of scissors.  I cut book reviews out the New York Times Book Section and stack them up nearby for books I want to read a in the future.  The Sunday New York Times has “New York Times Magazine and T- Magazine and the Sunday Review.  I am always cutting out articles, opinions, editors and ads that have websites.  I do the cutouts so I don’t want to save the entire Sunday New York Times, which as you know is a big paper.  I just want to save 4 or 5 items that I will check out in more detail later.  Ultimately these cutout items will be tossed but for now I will stack them somewhere first and then get back to them.  I can tear these items out of the paper with my hands, but I am not particularly good at that and inevitably I tear part of the article or even if I keep the article or ad intact, I end up with sloppy, jagged edges. 
I have a penholder cup on the lamp table next to my ragged leather chair in the Bud Cave.  In it I have a couple of pencils, three or four blue pens, a couple of black pens, a green pen and a red pen or two.  I also have a pair of scissors. I use the scissors to cut out the articles and ads.  I have a similar cup on my Bud Cave desk. 
I read The New Yorker Magazine weekly and frequently cut out a cartoon or two.  Earlier this week I mailed my Canadian friend Ray, who lives in Palm Desert, a New Yorker cartoon about Canadians.  He may not like it but I thought it was funny, I cut it out of the magazine with scissors.  A  cartoon I cut out from the New Yorker:

 You know those 12 ounce bags of coffee you buy at Starbucks or the grocery store?  I needed to open a new one this morning, a Dunkin Doughnuts Columbia Supreme if you must know, and I opened the bag with a pair of scissors I keep in the Bud Cave coffee room.
When I get a haircut, they use scissors. When I want to remove a stray thread from a shirt, I use scissors.  Think about how often you use scissors and for how many different purposes.  Its amazing.  I am getting more excited about scissors as I am writing this article.  I want to walk through the house here in Salt Lake looking for scissors.  I want to count how many pairs of scissorsthere are in this house.  Now that would be something important to know.
I googled “scissors” and learned from Wikipedia that scissors have been around since 1,500 BC.  I think I have that pair in the coffee room.  Wikipedia says the following about scissors:
 It is most likely that scissors were invented around 1500 BC in ancient Egypt. The earliest known scissors appeared in Mesopotamia 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. These were of the 'spring scissor' type comprising two bronze blades connected at the handles by a thin, flexible strip of curved bronze which served to hold the blades in alignment, to allow them to be squeezed together, and to pull them apart when released.
Spring scissors continued to be used in Europe until the 16th century. However, pivoted scissors of bronze or iron, in which the blades were pivoted at a point between the tips and the handles, the direct ancestor of modern scissors, were invented by the Romans around 100.[2] They entered common use not only in ancient Rome, but also in China, Japan, and Korea, and the idea is still used in almost all modern scissors.
During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, spring scissors were made by heating a bar of iron or steel, then flattening and shaping its ends into blades on an anvil. The center of the bar was heated, bent to form the spring, then cooled and reheated to make it flexible.
William Whiteley & Sons (Sheffield) Ltd. is officially recognized as first starting the manufacture of scissors in the year 1760, although it is believed the business began trading even earlier. The first trade-mark, 332, was granted in 1791. 

Pivoted scissors were not manufactured in large numbers until 1761, when Robert Hinchliffe produced the first pair of modern-day scissors made of hardened and polished cast steel. He lived in Cheney Square, London and was reputed to be the first person who put out a signboard proclaiming himself "fine scissor manufacturer".
During the 19th century, scissors were hand-forged with elaborately decorated handles. They were made by hammering steel on indented surfaces known as bosses to form the blades. The rings in the handles, known as bows, were made by punching a hole in the steel and enlarging it with the pointed end of an anvil.
In 1649, in a part of Sweden that is now in Finland, an ironworks was founded in the "Fiskars" hamlet between Helsinki and Turku. In 1830, a new owner started the first cutlery works in Finland, making, among other items, scissors with the Fiskars trademark. In 1967, Fiskars Corporation introduced new methods to scissors manufacturing.

That is pretty interesting stuff, don’t you think? I am going trim my eyebrows.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving in Palm Desert

Thanksgiving has always been special to me; from when I was a boy and it still is.  It is a time of year that I really do think about what I am thankful for.  I think about my blessings, I think about my shortcomings and I strive to improve as a person.  To be a better husband, a better father, a better son, a better brother, a better friends- a better person.

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving week in Palm Desert with the Lovely Sharon.  We went for walks, played lots of golf and went shopping.  We had several dinners friends with David and Wesley and with Art and Aija. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with John and Peggy and Dave and Karyn.

It was a perfect week.  Here are a few photos I took over Thanksgiving:

Ironwood Country Club Looking at No. 3 South Course from No. 6 Tee.

 Ironwood Country No.6  South Course

Ironwood CC Clubhouse

Casa Headman

Morning Sun From Patio