• You’ve still got it Phil!

    I am not so sure how good a long range weather forecaster ole Phil the groundhog is, but I am amazed how that for over fifty years he never seems to change.  I have grown older and more gray but Phil still rocks.  I’ll bet he doesn’t even dye his hair.  I do not think that old man winter out in LA got the word about six more weeks of winter because I hear the thermometer is to hit 80 degrees tomorrow.  For what it is worth Phil, thanks and I hope you had fun on your big day!

    My oldest son has glided into his last semester of high school.   It is true that time does fly as you begin to get older.  Don’t know why but it is true.   What a great gift he has been. He has been a good student and a tenacious athlete.  He has been accepted into a few universities while awaiting decisions on a several others including his dream school.  I am most gratified at how his character and intellect has developed and how teachers have spoken and written about him.   He has dated a very nice girl for some time with practically no drama.  Who does that?! 

    We have had fun touring the schools and it has allowed me to step back into time.  I have joked with my nephew I’d like to tell my kids of some of my old stories but they wouldn’t believe me anyway!  I know he has been leaking some of the info out anyway.  Anyway I know I will miss him when he goes away.   I will have a tough time over that.




  • A Long and Winding Road

    If your heart has ever been broken you never forget it.  The combination of physical and mental pain can be extraordinary to the human condition.  Sometimes the very foundation of your soul can be rocked to the ground.  With time and age you learn to cope as challenges in life present themselves. This is welcome because life has a way of laying out unexpected challenges. 


    Given the precipitous decline in her physical condition, I was no longer able to transport her outside my home.  The simple joys and stimulation of going for rides, dining out, and attending the kids events were no longer possible.  Being home bound further contributes to the decline of the mental state as well.  I cared for her as long as I could.  Her physical needs and our ability to meet them were exhausted.  While we were a good family to begin with, but this ten year experience taught us newer depths of patience, perseverance, and love.  How to put the needs of someone else almost always before your own.  I had learned this many years ago having children.  I thought I was good at this.  But we all had to learn how to subordinate our selfish interests.  The kids were unbelievable in their ability to cope and adapt.  And yet, this journey would have to come to an end.  We all needed to heal and recuperate in our own way. 


    Though it is ostensibly winter, this fateful Saturday was a beautiful warm afternoon that felt more like spring.  Under the precept of going out for lunch, we gently loaded her into the van.  This took some time because she lacked the muscle strength to lift herself into the seat.  All buckled in, I backed the van down the driveway.  The thought that she would never come back to the house was pounding inside my head.  My eyes filled with tears and the cliched lump in my throat felt like my breathing was restricted.  Being outside revived her spirits and she seemed very happy to see the blue sky and the trees.  Especially of the different varieties that always stay green and blooming regardless of the time of year.  I was maintaining my emotions until she spoke about my sister who has passed.   She didn’t notice the tears rolling down my face or that I could barely speak.


    This long and winding road would not have a happy ending. We were not going to lunch.  We were taking Mom to an Alzheimer’s facility.  I took this same drive years before with Dad and it was just as painful.   This isn’t like introducing an elder into an assisted living environment.  It is simply implausible to tell such a patient who has virtually no short term memory what lies before them.  To do so, would create awful anxiety which they cannot manage.  I helped Mom out of the van and we walked to the front doors of the facility were we were met by the Director.  With great skill from having to do this every week with new patients, the staff takes Mom through the doors and up to the special unit that provides the care required.  And just like with Dad, I had to stay outside to avoid the dramatic separation.  It is gut-wrenching and mind numbing. 


    The reality is that at this point, the patients typically do not recognize you as a son or daughter.  Rather, they just know that somehow they belong to that person.  And in a child-like way, they walk through the door and quickly lose the association.  The family is encouraged not to visit sometimes for a week to allow the patients to adapt to their new caregivers and try and work through the drastic change.   The emotions and memories, flood your mind as you drive away.  And while, after some time, you can always come for a visit, that life has tangibly ceased as you have known it.  It has been like having to view a fatal car crash one frame at a time.  Knowing the conclusion without any ability to slow, or speed up the events. 


    Since that day, I have a some time to decompress.  Having managed with this over many years with little or no help, there is a great sense of relief for me and the family. Everyone is in better spirits.  Now that I can leave the house, there will be some tee times reserved at Pebble Beach very soon.  And as the weather clears across the pond, there is an old course due north of Edinburgh that I want to meet up with and engage…







  • Just Desserts are being Served

    Tonight the Mayor of Los Angeles dines at the White House honoring the President of Mexico.  These events create extraordinary energy.  Behind the speeches and toasts, ambitious men and women play the power game evermore.  Here, the ends, meaning the effect on the citizenry at large is not in question.  It is the opportunity and the pure pleasure of basking among the players that matter.  This is always the way these events operate regardless of who is in power.   And yet the pendulum has not only turned, it is picking up speed rapidly. It is a curious thing to know if the players tonight are aware how quickly the momentum against their policies is building?  From my experience, most of them do know what will happen in November come election day.  A few do not.  Most are simply positioning themselves for the next move.  Such is the game. 

    When the beautiful desserts are served with that oh so rich coffee, I wonder if the aforementioned jet-setting Mayor will think of the $1 billion dollar deficit that hangs over the City.  Or how he will pay for the defined benefit pension plans which require most of the existing deficit.  And how will the last bite of that dessert taste when the thought comes charging into his consciousness that it will grow in just ten years to a $10 billion deficit.  The thought will pass and the game will continue if, only for a while longer. 

    While it may seem I have an axe to grind with this fellow, his little story is representative of so many political leaders.  He is one of many and California is filled with them.  Their hopes and dreams for the people really revolve around their personal desires.  Nothing more. And look how far that has taken us.  While this is a story about current political life here in California, the same scenario plays out throughout the country.  The invitees will be funneled back to the limousines that will take them to hearth and home of whatever measure.  And a question will be ringing in the back of some of their minds…….is their party really over after all?

  • A Tipping Point

    A few decades ago the local chambers of commerce bragged about all of the businesses that were relocating into Southern California.  People came from all over the United States to build something new here.  People from all over the world came here to be a part of that diverse and creative place called California.  Small towns were becoming vibrant cities in their own right with tall buildings just like Los Angeles.  New housing communities sprang up everywhere, and in all directions, to provide home & communities for a burgeoning economy.  There seemed to be endless opportunities which encouraged risk taking. Prosperity was contagious for a long time. The Greater Los Angeles area is such a large place with so many people that it fuels it own demand.  But there comes a tipping point. 

    In a relatively brief period of time, California went to from the #1 public school system to the bottom of the 50 states.  From having a solid tax base to having a skeletal tax base where smaller and smaller numbers of prosperous areas struggle to support increasingly poorer communities. Where 3.8 million people have pulled up stakes and left for other states.  Many took their businesses too. Impeccable bond ratings (which enables the state to borrow money at premium interest rates) have fallen.  The state of affairs within various governmental institutions is delusional.  Really, this is not hyperbole. They cannot function as a logical group of citizens to gravitate towards common sense decisions.  Not even in the face of bankruptcy.  While such decisions are not emotionally easy ones, they are not as intellectually difficult as it seems.  And therein lies part of the problem.  They truly do not know what to do.  It seems, though, that the rest of the population has figured out that things are not working.  The people will most certainly be kind enough to let those self righteous pols know that the tipping point is at hand.  To be continued…   –BTB



  • Reclining into the Christmas Spirit

    When a blustery winter storm blows into Southern California its does so with great fanfare.   For all the media and local citizenry is a buzz with threats of landslides, flash floods, and other calamities.  These things can, and do, occur so the news value is there as well as ratings.  Rain in the flats and snow in the higher elevations.  I am in a hilly area but certainly not with an elevation worthy enough for the white stuff.  Just as well….I do not own a snow shovel!  Though the clouds like to linger about dumping plentiful rain on my fruit trees and poinsettias.  And so I am happy for that. 

    My oldest son has grown into a strapping young man and is now a wrestler in high school.  A handsome young man and a good student.  Certainly brighter than was I.  I say this in a good spirit, of all the attributes wrestler’s can have, generally good looks are not among those typically mentioned!  It was a tough looking crowd but good looks do not win matches tournaments.  My son did well and I am proud that he works hard at this most challenging of sports. I spent nine hours Saturday shuttling him to school at the crack of dawn and watching matches in a never ending tournament.  I had spent the last two days traveling for business and was ready for a rest.

    The storm had made it’s way in on Saturday and it rained throughout the day.  But the brunt of the storm was to arrive Saturday evening and last through the night.  So as we made our way back home dodging downed tree branches I was looking forward to an evening by the fire.  And this was my reward.  As the wind played with the Christmas lights hanging from the eaves and blew the rain across the deck, I began to relax.  For those of us here in this arid southland have come to appreciate, a big rain storm here can have a similar affect of a big snowstorm can in other parts of the country.  It quiets things down by eliminating so many other activities that we might otherwise by doing over a weekend.  So I sat back and watched it rain.  I put the Christmas music station on from the cable and watched the kids activities going on around me.  They wrapped presents while the cats were fascinated with Mother Nature.  This was all old news to my Chesapeake who was thrilled to think I watching her try to chew a lacrosse ball for hours on end.  I guess it worked, for that is what I did through the evening.  Such is the wild life I lead.


    P.S.  My daughter won her softball championship game. I hope no one was holding their breath! 

  • It is hard to believe my daughter’s softball season is almost over.  I have been coaching this team since February.  We can start pretty early here in Southern California because of the mild winters and early spring.  Which means that we often end our season before other teams in the rest of the country start.  I remember traveling to Wyoming in May when a snow storm kicked up. (Not unusual)  I had to visit a Kinkos in town and was surprised to see a grownup head to toe in a baseball uniform copying schedules for his players.  That morning was to be his first team practice but five inches of snow put a chill his plans.  He was not very happy! In fact, I thought there might be some “crying in baseball” that day.  In contrast, my son’s team at the time had already completed their season!  And this poor old coach’s players were throwing snowballs instead of baseballs. 

    So we have been practicing two nights a week under the lights and playing two days a week including doubleheaders and traveling locally for games.  We have made great progress and are set to play for the league championship this Saturday. On paper we should run away with it.  I am very proud of my daughter.  She has played well and practices hard.  On the field and at home.  She plays with intensity and is open to constructive criticism….most of the time!

    To further challenge my aging muscles, I also coach my son’s little league team.  Practicing two days a week and playing two days a week.  At least his practices and games are earlier than my daughter’s on days where their schedules overlap.  I was lucky that I only had one game in conflict with another.  Squeezed in and around are my other kids events.  Being the Chief Shuttle driver and Mr. Mom is tiring.  And I am feeling it!  The joke now seems to be is how many extra events can they surprise me with on a daily basis.  I used to think I was a tough guy but these kids have my number.  I think the word is pushover!  I think I need a rest.  Maybe a nice spa resort replete with landscaped gardens & orchards, championship tennis & golf, a quiet villa under the palms.  I know the place well.  But not until one more month of little league! 


  • Old frogs never draw the ball, they just fade away…

    The desert trip for the Guys was a great success.  Sunny 84 degree days on the golf course in January.  Old Daddy likes.  My sons had a great time…got to meet some of the best golfers in the world and a few celebs to boot.  The Hope Classic is one the few PGA Tour events where celebs play with the pros throughout the week.  No frogs though!  However….Alice Cooper without makeup looks a little froggy. 

    Sorry to say no real good old girlfriend stories were shared by the old guys.  I did finally have to tell something of my days.   My old girlfriend and I dated a long time throughout high school and into college.  I thought sure we would get married.  And eventually we got married….to other people!  While it didn’t work out for us as a couple, we have been married to our respective spouses for a very long time.  More than twenty years and less than one hundred.  My wife and I joke that it feels closer to one hundred.  Somethings it is no joke. When my in-laws celebrated their 60th anniversary, my father-in-law kidded with some of us that the first fifty were the hardest!  Some comfort that is.  But there is some wisdom embedded in the humor if you think about it.

    When we broke up, I had to date four new girls at the same time just to try and keep her out of my mind. Now this wasn’t serious dating just the casual….ah hell I was running as hard as I could!  And I had a fifth lined up too.  I don’t think she never knew that.  My friends asked if I had run out of energy.  I  laughed….yeah right!    Plenty of energy back then, but not enough pesos to carry on all that dating for very long.   And that wasn’t who I really was anyway.  The guys didn’t believe me.  HaHa.  And this was before the “Girls had Gone Wild”  Thank God.  I would have never survived or graduated.  I was then able to devout all of my time and energy to my studies.  My GPA went up dramatically to A’s.  Just in time too. I am not sure how to even talk about how our relationship ended.  Sometimes today I am not sure what really happened.  I thought I could here…but I can’t.  No one can hear this anyway.  Trying to complete a conversation with yourself is hard work.  I guess I am the one who is gun shy.

    Back to the girlfriend.  She married and had children soon thereafter.  Her kids are in universities now and are doing well I guess. By all accounts, she is an outstanding mom.  I saw a picture of her sometime ago and she has grown into the beautiful woman I thought she would.  Her husband sounds like a terrific guy and he has become a great success in his chosen profession.  Patience is a great virtue.  They are leading a blessed life and my guess is that they struggled hard for it.  Like me, nothing was handed to them on silver platter.  Not the wild story you might have imagined,  but a happy one just the same.  –BTB




  • Off to the desert!

    I am planning a father/sons event to the Palm Springs area for the Bob Hope Desert Classic.  This will include about six of my friends and our sons to fly/drive in to the desert house for a weekend at the end of this month.  Now the daughters are invited as well (especially mine!).  But at their collective ages, they are young enough to abhor being around all boys who want to play golf around the pool area in their swim suits, fart, and chase frogs at night in the bushes.  And I am talking about the sons…not the fathers!  I think the girls would rather chew a stick of dynamite than have to mix it up with the boys on those terms.  But in a few years…God help me!

    Now, as for the fathers….this is an exceptional group of men if I do say so myself.  The kind you would like your sister’s to marry.  You might not want to marry them because we don’t look like Clooney & Pitt anymore!  Not that we ever did to begin with.  These are guys have known each other for twenty years.  Some even longer.  Steaks, some drinks, tons of talk about golf, politics, business, and kids activities. The same stories over again.  We don’t care.  Huge laughs.  Maybe even some old girlfriend stories.  Not I though.  Well after being a closed book for a couple of decades, I have opened up a little more on that.  Nothing like the GIRLS weekend, or so I understand.  Jeez.  Who knew?!  Of course, none of the guys believed me anyway.  Just as well.

    And the older boys are hanging around the father’s table a lot more now since they are teenagers.  They are finding the old man’s stories are more fun here.  They are all great kids.  We are blessed.  And we have worked hard at being there too.  Not because we have to, but because we love it.  I love planning these events.  And I know my sons love it too. Happy Days.  Far from perfect….but they are Happy Days.

    Does anyone else know of, or participate in events like this?  –BTB


  • It is just a few days after Christmas and I already miss the holiday music.  Earlier this month while flipping the TV channels I came across a choir from a small college university performing a taped performance on PBS.  They were singing Handel’s Messiah and rather well too.  I am not an expert on this piece but I recall there are several beautiful parts.  The work in its entirety is really magnificent and the Halleluah part is really special.  I recently came across this Leonard Cohen song called Halleluah and while it is interesting, I am not sure what he is driving at.  I understand that in Great Britian it simultaneously held the number 1 and 2 spot on the charts this Christmas. One was by a cover artist.  It must speak to many people.  But does it fill whatever need the people seem to have while gravitating to Cohen’s work?  I do not know.

    I first heard Handel’s Messiah when I was in high school.  An old friend sang in her high school choir which was quite large and an exceptional one   Actually, they were the best I have ever heard. In fact, they were so good that they were once recorded live. At the time, I used like to imagine I could pick out that one angelic voice over all of the others.  And sometimes I thought I did! 

    There are all kinds of Christmas music and I like most all of them.  Give this one a try next year.  If there is a performance in your area, give a try.  You will not be disappointed.  I plan to take my children next year earlier in season before my holiday schedule gets crazy.  And it always does. 

    As I alluded to in the last post, professionally things did glide to a successful and calm end to the year.  I am very fortunate.  I know things are not well with many people and I have been there too in years past.  Life can throw you some nasty curves.  I have learned to expect it.  Personally, it has been a year of great highs and challenging lows.  Last New Year’s Day my youngest was involving a nasty sporting accident which requiring plastic surgery.  What a start!  The little guy made a total recovery and you can hardly tell what happened.  We were all very lucky that day.  A couple of inches in either direction and we would have lost him.  It is funny how you can go for years, and for me now, decades without health issues and then they seem to abound all around.  You just keep pushin’ and keeping your faith.

    I try to keep those that I love and care about close.  It is not always easy. Every one has their own issues and crosses to bear.  For those who are younger, you will collect some as you move forward.  Expect it. Learn to manage them.  Over time you will begin to handle the rough seas on a more even keel.  And trust me, there was most certainly a time when I didn’t.  And when you don’t, expect to pay a price.  I have a strong faith in God and, for me, it fills in many of those pondering questions.   I think maybe that Handel’s peice had a big impact and stayed with me!

    I hope your New Year is a good and prosperous one!  –BTB





  • Holiday Spirit

    I am beginning to get into the holiday spirit extra early this year!  For the first time in almost a decade it looks as if my year end will be fairly relaxing.  Over the years, my projects have kept me on a rather frenetic pace.  And that’s not all bad, for some of those activities are lots of fun and certainly fit into the holiday spirit.  But this year things are wrapping up quite nicely.  Which means a certain amount of frivolity.  Like the guys weekend – replete with flights to the desert house, tee times, cocktails and steak…Ugh, sorry,  I veered right off of Santa Claus Lane! (to be continued)   Meaning to say…With time to catch up on my reading. There a couple of books that are on my stack that I must complete and one that comes highly recommended.  Hmm?!  

    Did you ever have the experience of reading a story and feeling like the author was writing about parts of your own life?  I did recently.  I know of course that it is impossible but there were bits and pieces that were just…..Naw, it couldn’t be.  But bust my spurs, I sure wish it was though!  Guess you had to be there. 

    Picked up the new Enya Christmas CD today.  I don’t really have any favorites yet.  I do like the way her music takes you places with such wonderful imagery.  –BTB