Monday, November 2, 2009

Double Down on the Wolverine Talisman

On Monday, I took a big chance. A very big chance. Shea gave me a most excellent "Wolverine" T-shirt for Father's Day. This is a very cool shirt and I only wear it on special occasions. I decided to experiment and see what wearing both the Wolverine belt and the Wolverine T-shirt might produce when I went fishing. I suspected that this would be something akin to Gandolf the Grey accepting possession of "The One Ring" in Lord of the Rings. It would be a power too awesome to consider. Well, on Monday I wore both "The Belt" and "The Shirt" fishing. Suffice it to say that I was almost magical. I landed 19 fish in total. Although I missed a lot of fish, I was still regularly hooking up big fish. I was pretty picky and kicked off a number of fish that were foul hooked, small or Chinooks (You can't keep Chinook on the Klickitat after November 1st). Nevertheless, I placed 6 fish in the cooler. Most importantly, I ended up being one fish away from filling out my catch card. A first for me. Say what you will, but I will never even think about fishing without first putting on my most excellent Wolverine Shirt (Thank You Shea!) and strapping on the Ultimate Talisman, the Wolverine Belt. Above is a picture of me with a nice Steelie hen caught on a fly rod a few years ago.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My Barefoot Contessa

The other night I came home and was overpowered by the wonderful aromas of the Shewolf's kitchen. It was thick and sweet and tangible. I could smell the garlic and the onions. Was it also cumin? Definitely, there was a sweet, smokey flavor in the air, almost like honeyed ham. You know the aroma that you experience when you walk into a ridiculously expensive restaurant. Well, it was just like that, except I was home. Okay now I am going to make all of you extremely jealous. This happens all the time when you live with and sleep in the same bed as the "The Barefoot Contessa." It was about 7:30 pm and I had worked late. I knew I was in for a real treat when I entered the garage and could smell the tale-tell delicious aromas wafting in the air. My Barefoot Contessa was no where in sight, but in the warming drawer was the most sumptuous Proscuitto wrapped Halibut with Roasted Winter Garden Vegetables (Butternut Squash, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes and Yukon Gold Potatoes). It was truly a feast. My Barefoot Contessa had been experimenting with some new recipe. No, this was not my birthday. This was not even a Sunday meal with special guests. It was just a typically Wednesday night on a day that My Barefoot Contessa was not entirely swamped with church work. It was like being in a restaurant, but way better because I get to sleep with the Executive Chef after the meal.

Every man who loves his wife, loves his wife best naked. However, barefoot is also good. Who ever coined the phrase, "Kissing don't last, but Cooking do" was a certified moron. The adage is better phrased, "Cooking rocks because it leads to Kissing!" I absolutely love coming home to the aromas and ambience that has defined My Barefoot Contessa. I had no idea what Sheila's talents were when I married her. I loved her because she was hot and fun to be with. I know, I know. It was shallow and not at all on what I should have focused, and yet somehow, deep inside I knew that I didn't need to ask any further. I found what I wanted. I felt compelled to spend every waking moment with this most delicious creature. It was like a drug, truly. Idyllically, I envisioned my future--an amazing life filled with adventure and fun and children. However, life is nothing like what I imagined pre-marriage when I was begging Sheila to marry me. We have experienced our fair share of heartache and disappointment. We have endured some very dark, crushing moments--not at all what I had envisioned pre-marriage. And yet, there have been moments so sweet and encompassing that my pre-marriage vision pales in comparison. Better, much better.

I had no idea that Sheila would develop culinary skills worthy of Stadium Kitchen. That was not part of the deal. However, it has certainly enhanced the deal. When we built this house, I really wanted Sheila to have a kitchen worthy of her skills. I think she made some really good decisions: A second prep sink, two dishwashers, two ovens, a warming drawer, two kitchen aids, a large gas range top with indoor grill, a pot filling faucet above the stove, a large walk in pantry, and lots of counter space. My Barefoot Contessa has made the most of her kitchen. My life with the genuine Barefoot Contessa is way better than anything I could have imagined as a 21 college student madly in love with a beautiful brunette co-ed. Last Wednesday night proved that in spades!
Below is the Sous Chef--Lil' D, and Grandma She She holding Baby Ally.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Aquaman and the Wolverine

I have been pondering some of the weighty and existential questions of life this past month. Now by weighty and existential questions of life, an average reader of this blog might be thinking of questions such as:

What is the meaning of life?

Is there a life after death?

Why is the sky blue?

What is beauty?

What is truth?

Nooooo! More astute followers of my vast worldwide readership will know that there are even more fundamental and mighty questions that must be answered--questions which previously have not been seriously addressed by standard philosophical thought (Is it because these questions are too deep and vexing to solve?). At any rate, the great questions of life which I have been wrestling with in recent weeks are as follows:

What makes for a great fisherman?

What motivates fish to bite?
Would the Apostle Paul have been exclusively a dry-fly purist?

Why is bigger always better when it comes to fishing?

It is difficult to admit this to my vast worldwide readership, but I have not yet got my head around these vexing questions, and so, I will not attempt to answer these mighty and ponderous questions in this post; however suffice it to say that I believe that success in life (and in fishing) is a matter of both luck and skill. Now, I know I have the skill. If fish are being caught, I am pretty much able to catch fish also.

Several weeks ago I had experienced a bit of dry spell--I went fishing three times without landing a single fish. In modern parlance, I had lost my "Mojo." It was absolutely frustrating. Fortunately for my tender ego, pretty much no one else was catching fish either. However, it was really, really perplexing--there were salmon jumping everywhere, we just couldn't catch them.

Then I had a thought...a really good thought...a game changing thought. "Maybe I need some luck?" "Maybe I need some lucky talisman in my life?" As a superstitious fisherman, I had been religiously wearing my lucky hat (A hat that parenthetically will never be washed, but this is fodder for a different post). And then I thought to myself, "What is my most prized possession?" And perhaps, more importantly, "Would I sacrifice that beloved article on the altar of fishing to catch fish?" Hands down, my most prized worldly possession (at this moment) is my Uber-cool Wolverine belt. This belt was painstakingly and lovingly forged (by the Wolverine himself) in the rugged mountains of New Mexico this past summer. "Would I dare risk marring or damaging such an amazingly beautiful and precious possession?" "What if I got a fishy smell on it and then couldn't wear it to important social functions?"

In the end my need to catch big fish outweighed the love I have for "The Belt." Yes, I sacrificed my the Wolverine belt on the altar of big fish and wore it (along with my lucky fishing hat) and went fishing. I am delighted to report that it was a total game changer:

That Friday: I landed 7 salmon in two hours.

That Saturday: I landed 4 salmon in 3 hours.

The Next Monday: I landed 9 salmon in 8 hours.
Woohoo! The Wolverine is back! I fish a lot with a friend who works for the Department of Ecology in water management, Alden Hartwig. He is a very fishy guy. He is affectionately known by fishermen as "Aquaman." He knows all things fish and all things fishy. Below are a couple of pics from a recent Salmon Adventure of ours.

Lastly, some pics of "The Belt." Note the authentic Wolverine slash marks in the second pic. You can see some of the superb detailing on this belt. The workmanship is clearly of superior quality. Trust me, these pics are an injustice to "The Belt!"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Intervention

I was introduced to a 12 step program a few years when I had "Steelhead Fever" really bad. I never really believed in the program, but went along with it to save my marriage and family. We are having a 30 year high on the Steelhead runs in the Northwest. I was planning on doing some climbing this fall when the weather cooled a bit, but when the fish counts coming over the Bonneville Dam went off the charts, I started curing shrimp and lying again. Lying to my staff, lying to my wife, and sadly even lying to myself. I used to laugh at the adage: "I fish, therefore I lie." No longer, my very life might hang in the balance. For the last month, I have been making up excuses to miss important family functions, work obligations and non-Sunday church meetings. Okay, it's time to come clean--I have been fishing! I have been fishing A LOT. I am willing to admit that I might clinically be considered an "addict." I am not sure exactly how this happened. Somewhere between that first 19lb native Steelie that I caught at Drano a decade ago, and the 14 pounder caught on a barbless hook on the Cowlitz River last week, I have developed a bit of an obsession with Steelhead fishing. Salmon are strong, and sturgeon are montrous, but pound for pound, a Steelie will rip line and kick your bootie. They are trout on steroids. They fight like Mini-Marlins. They are the end all to fishing for me. Their bite is typically very light, which makes them really, really, really hard to hook. Once you finally hook one, they are ridiculously difficult to land. They jump and run and engage in absurd acrobatics that sometimes, you almost want them to spit your hook because you respect the fight in them and admire their ability to survive in the ocean against fish much larger and faster. They survive because they are smart and fast and have fight in them like no other fish on the planet!

FYI: I have been fishing twice per week. We typically fish on Monday and Thursday nights. We fish from 11:00 pm to 4:00am. We get back to Yakima by 7:00 am. I sleep for an hour, take a shower and get to work by 9:00 am. I take a nap during lunch. I am able to meet all of my family and church obligations. I have convinced myself, that no one is harmed by my little addiction. It is, however, a brutal schedule. I keep telling myself, it's only on until the fish quit running. I have another month of spectacular fishing and then my life can go back normal, whatever that is.

I believe that the little irksome question on the temple recommend questionnaire: "Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?" might cause me some problems during my next interview. Admittedly, it is rather a subjective question. Technically, my fishing addiction has not led me to engage in outright lies, but I have not been telling the "whole truth." The following dialogue with one of our High Counselors is illustrative on my little Steelhead problem:

HC: "Are we still meeting this Thursday night for that planning meeting?" (This meeting was tentatively scheduled last Thursday with 3 HCs and President Armstrong and myself.)
Me: "Uh...this Thursday? Are you sure we were going to meet this Thursday?"

HC: "What's the matter, do you have a conflict?"

Me: "Uh...actually, I have a commitment that night that will make it absolutely impossible to meet. I would not want to disappoint my 'family.'"

HC: "That's OK. How about the following Thursday."

Me: "Definately, a no go. I have another very important 'family commitment' that night. Could we possibly meet on Wednesday?"

HC: "Well, that would likely inconvience me and my family, but if it's important for your family, I guess I'll sacrifice."

Me (with no hesitation): "You're the best! That's just another reason why you are one of my favorite HCs. My 'family' will really be appreciative. I owe you big time!"

*Note: I have actually told no lies, made no actual misrepresentations, and I must say, I give myself props for how kindly I treated the HC. By "family", I was, of course, referring to two brethren in my "ward family," who had planned on going fishing with me on Thursday night and who would have been deeply disappointed had my "prior commitment" to go fishing been cancelled. I did not technically lie. Every word I spoke was the truth, although I have to admit that I wanted the truth to be understood according to my needs. Mission accomplished. We went fishing. I had 5 amazing Salmon hook-ups on Thursday night and landed 2 fish--the largest was 22lbs. Two of the fish were amazing. I fought them for a quite a while before they broke off my 8lb. leader. My left arm ached from fighting fish. What a night!

My committee meeting will likely take place this week. We will meet in sufficient time to accomplish everything in a timely fashion. However, had I not kept my prior "family obligations" to brothers whom I love, I would have missed the joy of fighting really big fish under the bridge at the confluence of the Columbia and White Salmon rivers, my "brothers" would have been cheated out of a wonderful night of fishing, and my wife would have missed an opportunity to see me as I desperately want to be seen--as the He Wolf who can slay the beast and put sustenance on the table and in the freezer. And so I continue to resist all attempts by family and friends to intervene. I believe I am in control and handling my "situation" quite admirably considering the depth of my commitment to landing ridiculously large fish.
Below is a picture of me with a big Sockeye taken a couple of years ago. I have not taken any pictures this year because we fish at night and I usually filet the fish in the dark and throw the filets in the coolers. A filet, regardless of how impressive doesn't make much of a picture.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Criminals Afoot at Philmont Ranch

On the way to Philmont Ranch the She-wolf and I had an interesting conversation:
"I hope I have some down time so that I can ride my bike."
"Have you read the Philmont Ranch packet that I downloaded for you to read?"
"Uh, was there anything important in the packet?"
"Depends on your definition of important." The She-wolf then emphatically read the following:

"Prohited Items:

1. Firearms

2. Bicycles

3. Pets

4. Drugs and Alcohol"
And with a tone of sarcasm added, "Don't worry it's only the second prohibited item on the list. If they really wanted you to adher to this rule, they probably would have listed 'bicycles' first...besides you're the Wolverine. No one tells you what to do, right?!"

Well, I was going to ride my bikes in Utah, so hauling them on the back of the Suburban was not a total waste. I did get the chance to ride downhill routes off the chair lifts at Deer Valley, which was utterly amazing. This is a must "to do" on all future Utah trips. After arriving at Philmont and discussing the rules related to cycling with several "in the know" and "authority figures" (the kid at the snack bar and young woman serving food in the dining hall--both of whom said, "No problemo" to riding bikes as long as you don't ride on the hiking trails and don't ride around camp.) I was in luck. I brought my road bike and enjoyed a couple of fun rides during the little down time that we had.

On Wednesday we had a 3 hour block of free (family) time. The She-wolf was gone for the day, driving with Glenna Grow and Gail Armstrong to pick up the Grow's car in Pagosa Springs, CO, where it had been in the repair shop. I thought I'd take advantage on this down time and hike the Tooth of Time trail. I didn't have a map and so I drove towards the Tooth of Time until I saw a trail heading in the general direction of the Tooth of Time.I parked my car in a small parking lot of a gravel pit. I spent the next 4 hours finding the trail and hiking to the Tooth of Time. It was a wonderful little hike. Upon returning to my car with sore feet and a few blisters I found my car had been "booted." Apparently, I was in a "No-Parking" Zone. How was I to know? I had asked the really intelligent looking kid at the snack bar and he said I would be fine parking there. He was wearing a very authoritarian red staff shirt--surely he must be in-the-know? Fortunately, I had my illegal bikes on the back of my illegally parked (and now quite disabled and booted) car. I continued my criminal behavior by riding my mountain bike the several miles back to camp to try to find the idiot that booted my car. I was in luck. After creating havoc in the camp by riding my bike all over camp (really just to make a point of civil disobedience), I found the "Director of Security" who fortunately was not authorized to bear a firearm, otherwise, I'm pretty certain, he would have taken me down on the spot. After receiving a stern lecture about "critters in them thar hills" he reluctantly agreed to "un-boot" my car. He made me sign a form that essentially placed me on Philmont Ranch probation forever, and in general was a confession of high crimes and misdemeanors against the BSA and Mother Nature.

This was a most unfortunate occurence because it gave President Armstrong a reason to start keeping track of my many Philmont Ranch violations.

On a more serious note, we had a great time and learned much. I was so impressed with the conference attendees and the Spirit of Philmont. I am recommitted to Scouting and have a number of pressing items that I want to make happen in our Stake.

Me on the Summit of the Tooth of Time. (Note the really cool T-shirt Shea gave me for Fathers Day--"I Am Wolverine."

A beautiful Sunrise from Lover's Leap.

Sunrise from Lover's Leap.

2 Romantic Hikers at the Lover's Leap Trailhead.

Lil D following her 30+mile Mountain Woman Trek.

Mountain Woman!

The Grows.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cherry Blossom Infused Essence of Pomegranate--"Pro"

For years I have wondered about the Shewolf's obsession with shampoo. As you all know, she has amazingly beautiful hair. She has always been a striking brunette with tints of auburn highlights. There are many women who would kill for hair like hers. Ever since I met her, I have loved the smell and feel of her hair.

As many of my faithful readers know, I loathe having to reveal personal (and embarrassing) vignettes on a blog with a world wide readership, but candor has become an expectation of my readership. So here we go, again...Some months ago, the Shewolf asked me what shampoo I preferred. She was considering changing her shampoo from Cherry Blossom Infused Essence of Pomegranate--Pro (or something that sounds alot like that) to Revitalized Herbal Essence of Lustere--Salon Style (or something that sounds alot like that). I just looked at her quizically. What does a manly man with no head hair say to a question like that? I have used nothing but a simple bar of soap on every part of my body for at least 2 decades. I wondered how could she not know that? I honestly cannot distinguish the quality of hair on my pate from that on my elbow (or any other body part). It all needs to be cleaned; and I can think of nothing better to handle the job than a very manly bar of Irish Spring, or in a pinch a bar of Dove handsoap. While I am satisfied with any bar of soap, the reason, I prefer Irish Spring is primarily due to the ad that used to run on TV many years ago, which showed a tall, and ruggedly handsome sailor stepping off a fishing boat onto the wharf into the arms of a really hot, fawning brunette, and tossing a bar of soap to some admiring young boy who would undoubtedly grow up someday and be just as smooth with the women. Being so manly that a beautiful and adoring brunette would be waiting on the wharf mysteriously had something to do with using Irish Spring. The effectiveness of this ad is truly puzzling to me. Everytime I have stepped off a boat, I usually smell like fish. Somehow the geniuses on Madison Avenue were able to create a loyalty to Irish Spring based upon an image of a incredibly hunky sailor and a mildly annoying Irish tune whistling in the background. Now while this sounds incredibly stupid, look at me: I have mostly used Irish Spring for my entire life and I did manage to land a gorgeous brunette who has stayed with me for almost 30 years now (and as many of you know, I have at times smelled a lot like fish). This might explain my preference for Irish Spring. So when the Shewolf suggests that I try something like Satin Extreme Pantene with Essence of Apple Sheen--Pro X, I comfortably think of the image of the sailor in the Irish Spring ad from my childhood and with confidence know that any shampoo she suggests cannot possibly improve my looks, or my life.

I have included with this post a couple of pics from Sydney's reception showing the contrast between my wife's hair and mine. One could easily conclude from these pictures that Irish Spring is so darn effective that you don't even need head hair for the product to do its thing!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Petunia Boy

Many thoughtful members of my vast worldwide readership have inquired, "What special powers could a superhero named 'Petunia Boy' possibly possess?" Thank you for your inquiries, both expressed and unexpressed. I have included some pictures of what Petunia Boy might produce. Now in all candor I can't really say that production of flowers, arranging flowers or maintaining perennial garden beds could actually save the world in a moment of crisis, but a superhero named Petunia Boy might nevertheless possess some other inate and spectacular special qualities that would only emerge in a time of dire circumstances. Unless the world becomes in need of his unique and special gifts we'll likely never know. Until then, let's all just enjoy the flowers.

These flowers were picked a couple of Sundays ago. 4,000+ square feet of perennial flower beds produce enough flowers do at least one arrangement every day of the week from April until first part of October. I usually only have time, however, to cut flowers Sunday evening after Church meetings. Especially now that I have a greenhouse and spend my time "puttering" in it when I have a few minutes. Now, if only I could muster some superhero powers to eradicate the weeds...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Wolverine

First I must apologize to my vast worldwide readership for taking the past two months off, but I have been extremely busy with yard projects for Sydney's wedding reception, traveling to California for Sydney's wedding, and in general, simply entertaining guests. The past two months have been truly eventful for the Super Smarts. Temple endowments for Shea and Sydney, along with Sydney's temple sealing to Nick were the highlights to be sure. Somewhere along the way I ended up with a really cool greenhouse, which is fodder for a future post.

Seeing Snick's (Syd and Nick) wedding made me think about my relationship with the Shewolf. We have been married for 30 years on June 21st. We had a conversation the other day which truly defines our relationship. The Shewolf was deeply engaged in a book (her favorite pasttime) when the following conversation took place :

"So, when you think of me as a super hero, who do you think of?"

The Shewolf, not looking up from her book, replied:

"I don't really think of you as a superhero."

"Yeah but when you do think of me as a superhero, who comes to mind."

The Shewolf, briefly glancing up, tersely stated:

"Well that's just it, I think of you more as a husband and a father--not really a super hero."

Finally, in frustration and not really understanding her point, I demanded:

"Okay, but when you do think of me and then think about superheroes, who comes to mind?"

By this time, the Shewolf was visibly perturbed and without any thought whatsoever, simply responded with the first superhero that popped into her brain.


"Noooo! Not Superman! Guess again."


"Noooo! You're not even trying! You're just naming the first superheroes that come to you. Seriously, look at me. Now think superhero. Who comes to mind?"

Okay. The Shewolf was now really ticked. I had pulled her completely away from her book; all the while, I was furiously motioning to my imaginery sideburns, and making really cool Wolverine motions and noises. Still, all she could muster was, "Okay Big Guy, who do you want me to say?"

"Are you kidding? The Wolverine!!! Don't you see it?!"

The Shewolf turning back to her book, muttered something under her breath like: "Whatever you say Big Guy."

I sulked for a few minutes, but soon got over it.

About a week later, as I was zipping to work on my Candy Apple Red Scooter, it dawned on me...Well, actually, it was more like a revelation--like a ton of bricks landing on my head and crushing my tender male ego. It was truly a moment of Zen. I realized that I am undermining my efforts to be viewed as a superhero by my wife because of the stupid things I do. Riding a Barbie-Scooter to work, growing pink roses and in general being so nice that's its virtually impossible to muster the rugged surliness that is the Wolverine--these things scream "Dork", not superhero.

So I thought to myself...Hmmmm...Maybe I need to come up with a superhero that truly describes my essence--something that I can actually live up to. Unfortunately, "Scooter Boy" and "Petunia Boy" were the only superhero names that made any sense when I reflected upon my life. But what special powers would superheroes with names such as that possess? When the chips are on the table, does mankind really want to have to depend on "Scooter Boy" or "Petunia Boy" to save the day? Would being thought of as such a superhero really improve in any appreciable way my standing with my wife? Afterall, more than anything, men need to believe that their wives view them as superheroes. It may come as a surprise to my vast worldwide readership, but I have never really been that enamored with the truth, particularly when to comes to me and how my wife views me. No siree! I am perfectly comfortable with fantasyland and have been for many years, which may explain my sincere disappointment when the Shewolf did not see in me rather obvious Wolverine like qualities.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Vast Worldwide Readership

Some have inquired, "What exactly does it take to declare your Blog as a blog with a 'vast worldwide readership'?" While there is little empirical data to support my boast that, in fact, I do serve a "vast worldwide readership", I simply know that its true. I have never trivialized my lofty sense of worth with needless details. Regardless, of actual support for my claim, my "vast worldwide readership" is more an ideal than anything. But to satisfy any pointless inquiries concerning this matter, let me cite to several unassailable facts, which clearly establish my Blog as having a "vast worldwide readership":

1. People have viewed (and commented on) my Blog from far flung foreign countries (Chelsea while in Africa and in South America);
2. People who follow and comment on my Blog have been to foreign countries and are bi-lingual and bi-cultural (For example, consider Rangi (France and French) and Rocky (Brazil and Portuguese);
3. I myself, as author of Darrell's Yakimania, was married in a foreign country (Canada);
4. I can use chopsticks;
5. I am very friendly with foreigners (Take for example, my Chinese neighbor who has a very lyrical name that is fun to say);
6. I eat at Antijitos Taqueria at least twice a week.

If these facts do not qualify me for vigorous boasting as enjoying a "vast worldwide readership" I don't know what does. To be certain there are many other very impressive facts that could have easily been marshaled as proof of the vast worldwide nature of my Blog, but as most of you probably know hyperbole has never been my style.

By the way, the She-wolf and I are celebrating our 30th Anniversary this June. We are discussing what exotic destination to make our romantic get-a-way in late 2009. Any suggestions would be appreciated. We are thinking something that assists with the whole "worldwide" concept of my Blog would be appropriate.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Me and my Flowbe.

Life is really good for me right now. One obvious reason is that I no longer have bad hair days. About once a month I adminster a "flowbe treatment" to my pate, and Voila--there you have it, a perfect haircut. Since my blog is very popular--after all, I do serve a "Vast Worldwide Readership"--I am more than a little concerned about revealing this little personal secret on-line. Nevertheless, here IT is: I was voted "Best Hair" in the seventh grade. What is most impressive about this designation was the era in which this honor took place. Afros were king in 1973. I had a loose tangle of afro-like curls on my head. Coupled with my recycled Navy bell bottom jeans that were meant to be worn as tight as skin around the booty, and a sexy silk shirt with fly away collars, you know that I was "Dynooomite!" However, occasionally, the loose afro thing just didn't work and I would have what women today call a "bad hair day." (Apparently, however, none in the 7th grade.) When your image is based in large part upon how cool you look, a bad hair day can be devastating. Those days are long gone. They ended way before I lost my hair--I think that happened in my late 20s. (Which incidentally coincides with the arrival of multiple children. The older I get, the more I am reminded by my children just how "uncool" I really am.)

I have never seriously thought about Rogaine and the Men's Hair Club, mostly because I am cheap. I have traded my glorious hair days for a most amazing device: the Flowbe. Now, there are some cheaper imitations out there like "Robo-cut", but for the money and durability, the Flowbe can't be beat. It's double strength vaccuum system insures no mess. (Like the ad says, "It sucks best!") It's high quality steel blades insure a great haircut, everytime. It's name insures confidence. Now some of you may think that I am a paid front man for this company. Not so. While it is true, that times are tough and all of us are looking for ways to earn a little extra cash, my commitment to the Flowbe is more personal; much more like a heartfelt expression of deep gratitude. These days, I never hear, "Hey dude, your hair is out of place" or "Check it out, you got a wicked cowlick" or "You must be having a bad hair day." None of that. I get up every morning with the absolute confidence that I'm gonna have a great hair day. I rub my scalp enthusiastically, look in the mirror and say, "I AM natural's greatest miracle!" And while I can't say that I owe it all to my Flowbe, I have to admit, when I look at the same beautiful head every day, I like what I see. As stated previously, I hate to reveal personal/family secrets on such a popular public venue such as Darrell's Yakimania, but I think it's pretty apparent to everyone who has witnessed the interaction between my wife and I just how much the She-wolf really loves my US Marine style "do". Seriously. Watch her carefully when we're together and you will undoubtedly catch her her rubbing my most awesome "do"; or at times looking at me with what is obviously an almost uncontrolable sense of passion in her face that one immediately thinks of Bella and Edward.

Although I must admit that at times when I see a rich, handsome, fiftyish year old man with a full head of hair driving a sports car, I wonder how it's possible. But then I remind myself that I was never tall. I grew up on South 3rd East in Downtown SLC. I have always had "ginormous" ears. Thin is not an adjective that is typically associated with the Smart Family name. And I don't even like tiny sport cars. As I think about who I really am, I feel pretty darn good about my average hair. It compliments my average face and fits in quite nicely in my average life. And although my satisfaction with my hair cannot be entirely attributed to the Flowbe Hair Treatment System, this too fits in quite nicely with my life. Life is, in deed, good.

*Included above is a picture of me in 1981 after a wrestlting tournament holding Darcee Kae. Did I mention how much I look forward to the resurrection and the restoration of all things? Alma 40:23 has always been a favorite scripture of mine: "The soul shall be restored to the the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored their proper and perfect frame."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Wrestlemania at the NCAAs

The Parade of All Americans

2 of my all times favorite wrestlers: Mark Schlagel and Reece Hunter. I think that my shirt (courtesy of Ken Parsons) says it all: "The older I get, the better I was!"

Every wrestler worthy of the title "wrestler" must at some point in his life make the pilgrimage to the NCAA Division I Wrestling Tournament and pay homage to our most worthy sport. This is something akin to a devout Muslim trudging to Mecca, or the faithful Christian visiting the Holy Land. There is nothing quite like it in any other sport. Wrestlers love and hate their sport like no other. They curse the first time they stepped onto a wrestling mat, and yet know that their life would be so much the poorer without the experiences that have enriched their lives. In wrestling, they know there will be pain every day and bleeding most. And so, it comes as no surprise that wrestling would have its greatest success in the heartland of America, and in small towns spread across our great nation. In places where the corn grows high and there is no sun or recreation to distract young men. Names such as Gable, Schultz and Brands are still whispered in reverance and respect because of what they accomplished.

This past week, a small retinue of committed wrestlers, parents and fans made the weary trek to St. Louis to watch the NCAA wrestling tournament. We took 6 wrestlers and about the same number of parents. My brother, Jeff and several coaches joined us from Michigan. There were some memorable matches. The quarterfinals were utterly amazing. The semis always seem to be better than the finals. This year, the quarterfinals were as intense as any semifinal matches that we have witnessed. For many on our trip, this was their first NCAA tournament.

Now to change the subject just a bit. Confessions are very much a part of a well lived life. Well, I keep telling myself this. The older I get, I swear the stupidier I become. Late Friday night, I and three parentless wrestlers became separated from the rest of our crew. These young men begged me to take them to dinner at Hooters Restaurant. You all know the place as a fine establishment with excellent food and impecable decor. Okay, Okay, I know that none of you have been there. The whiny pleas to dine at Hooters are made frequently by grapplers on our wrestling road trips.

"Hooters! Woohoo! Hey Coach how 'bout Hooters?"


"Coach, c'mon, if our parents were here, they'd take us."

"Then get your parents to take you."

"They're not here."

"Exactly. NO! We are going to find a 'nice family restaurant.' "

"C'mon Coach. Pleeeeeeassssse!"


"C'mon Coach. Pleeeeeeasssse!"

"No. And if you ask me again, my answer will include pain--lots of pain."


This dialogue has repeated itself with very little variation on every road trip with the West Valley high school wrestlers this year. Have I mentioned how much I missed Shea this year?

On Friday night by the time we exited the arena, it was late and as we walked past Hooters I realized there was not much open. Our choices were extremely limited. It was smokey bars or Hooters. I trudged on hopeful we would find something...anything but Hooters. In desperation I stopped by the Hotel and inquired with the desk clerk (we obviously weren't staying at the Hilton--there was no enlightened concierge to provide aide). He advised us that the only thing open that late that was not a bar was Show Mes. This is Missouri after all--the "Show Me" state. Show Mes sounded like a great family style restaurant. As I was walking out, he added, "They're famous for their ribs." I was encouraged. Show Mes was a short walk from the hotel through an almost safe neighborhood. My little group of wrestlers were still pouting about the fact that I would not give in and take them to Hooters. I was relishing in their misery (After all I am a wrestling coach. I am never truly happy unless my wrestlers are hungry, mean and really angry. Mission accomplished!) We were quickly seated at Show Mes despite a crowd. No sooner had we been seated, than I realized, what "Show Mes" was all about. Almost in chorus they enthuiasitically chimed, "We love you coach! This is like Hooters, but skanky!"

Now for the confession:
-There really was no other place to eat.
-It was late.
-I was tired.
-I didn't want to spend the money for cab fare to haul these ungrateful teenagers anywhere better.
-I was really hungry.
-My wrestlers had to eat.
-They're famous for their ribs.
-The waitresses seemed nice...blah, blah, blah... It's amazing what enough excuses or rationalizations can produce. We stayed. I would like to say that Show Mes' world famous ribs were worth it. No, not remotely true. As I choked them down with warm water that had a funky aftertaste (they were out of ice), I surmised that their world famous ribs had more to do with the ribs showing on the skinny frames of the waitresses in short, pink hot pants and skin tight wife beater t-shirts. Certainly, their name: Show Mes should have been clue enough. I might just make my personal mantra: "The older I get, I swear the stupidier I become!" It will be a while before I live this down. Coach Smart refused to take his wrestlers to Hooters, but apparently "Skanky Hooters" is a "nice family restaurant." With wrestlers there's no appreciation; no understanding; and certainly no sympathy. You would think they hate me for making them suffer. Go figure?!

In the end, we witnessed some amazing wrestling, with some fantastic young men.


Jace getting hustled in the metro for $20. This occurred a mere 10 minutes after we landed in St. Louis. Did I mention he was out of money by Friday?

Genealogy Does Not Lie!

There are lots of things that we can fudge about in life. My height for example. For years I have confidently stated my height as 5'8". It was an easier sell when I had ridiculously poofy hair. My weight is another prime example of an "almost" that has become a causally accepted truth. I weigh about "185lbs." Speaking of "truth", my brother Rick had a profoundly spiritual experience a number of years ago that created a "belief" amongst most in our family that we are Irish. As a man of faith, there are many things that I have accepted as verities in life without demanding actual proof. I will not bore my vast worldwide readership with the excruciating details of the Ricker's spiritual manifestation. Let me just state that it involved the "gift of accents." Over the years many in our family have assumed that it was a manifestation of the gift of tongues. This is not correct. This is not merely a matter of semantics. In deed, the Ricker's "Irish Miracle" was the gift of accents, which although appears to be a gift without biblical or spiritual reference, is nevertheless accepted widely in the Smart family as a legitimate spiritual gift. Please know, that the Smarts, as a people of faith, have been willing to accept many things exclusively on the basis of well told family stories.
Last year, verifiable and meticulously documented genealogical research revealed conclusively that our nearly pure English blood was tainted green by some wandering leprachaun from Dublin, Ireland. These are hard, cold, irrefutable facts--we're Irish! At times while observing certain family members I have serously wondered whether we had some kind of donkey blood in us. Now I realize that we owe it all to a lost Irish soul from Dublin.
For years, the Ricker (against the tide of public opinion and even harsh criticism from some doubting family members) proudly marched in the St. Patrick's Day parade in downtown SLC. At times, I confess, I too doubted. This year, however, as the "O'Smarts" donned their traditional Irish garb and valiantly marched for Eire, I felt a sense of destiny about who we truly are. To be sure, my blood felt green. While the name the "O'Smarts" is "technically"an assumed name for marching purposes only, make no mistake, we are Irish. Genealogy does not lie!

Irish to the Core!

A lovely Irish Lassie and her not so Irish and very neurotic hound "Clover."

A Beautiful Irish Pair!
Below are some cool pics of my most righteous Irish son chilling in Eire as a beloved laddie of the homeland.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Rollin Like a 3rd Grader!

OK, so I turned 50 something and for my birthday ended up working from early in the morning to sundown. I finished work at the office just in time to go home, get a bite to eat and head to the Stake Offices for High Council. Sheila (AKA "Chuck Norris of Stadium Kitchen") had a tray of beautifully decorated cupcakes to take to High Council. I querried, "Don't you think I'll look just a little bit like a 3rd grader on his special day bringing treats for the whole class?" With all of the sincerity she could muster she replied, "Don't worry Big Guy, they're carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Honestly, what 3rd grader would be caught dead bringing 'healthy treats' for his special day?" I thoughtfully mused and agreed. (I have been a sucker for a pretty face since about the 3rd grade. When the Shewolf speaks, all I can usually see is her beautiful brown eyes and I somehow I end up agreeing with whatever she proposes.) To my chagrin the absurdity of a 50+ year old showing up to a professional setting with treats in hand to celebrate his special day, didn't register until I walked through the door with my loaded tray of spectacularly decorated cupcakes and caught a look of everyone's faces. I was had. I was rollin exactly like a 3rd grader, anxious to celebrate his special day with the entire class. The real "frosting" of this event was the delicate pastel purple napkins she included for my "friends." Several days later, President Grow inquired with a bit of a smirk, "So how was your 'special day'?" "Life is good President, I'm still rolling like a 3rd grader?" was my only response.

I have earnestly tried to remind the She Wolf that I've got a bit of a "rep" to protect:
-I don't golf. I roll with young men on a wrestling mat.
-I have never watched a tennis match on T.V. I am addicted to Ultimate fighting.
-I will never belong to the Country Club. My best friends are blue collar guys.
Men like me cannot just show up with spectacularly decorated cupcakes and then expect there not to be consequences. You cannot just pretend the whole cupcake thing never happened. People talk.

For clarification of my identity, I am posting a pic from a couple of weeks ago to prove that I am not a quiche eating, golf loving, Country Club type....honest!

Monday, February 9, 2009

I Miss My Favorite Wrestler!

CBL 3A Coach of the Year--Rob Laggerquist

Not having Shea around this year has been difficult. I know I smothered and irritated him, but "dang it" that was my job. Without his surly disposition and evasive answers to even the most mundane and harmless questions, I feel lost--without a sense of purpose. Lil' D is too easy to boss around; whereas, Shea at times worked creatively to be disagreeable. Regardless, I really miss him. Not only did our team miss him, but on a personal level, coaching was not nearly as intense of an experience without him on the mat. He would have complimented this team of Seniors nicely and given us a winning record, as well as post-season hopes at 171lbs. This has been a great group of wrestlers. We knew 4 years ago that we would probably do fairly well.

Cody "the Funkmeister" Bruland capturing his first tournament championship under the lights at Grandview.

"The Show" Nick Gautreaux doing what he does best: Dominate!

Ross "The Kung Fu Chicken" putting the hurt on his opponent.

Weston "The Freak" Green getting to the Subregional finals as a first year wrestler. He is truly a freak.

"The Banshee" Jace Elenich doing something spectacular and Irish (ie, crazy) to win.

We have big hopes for DJ "Crazy Legs" Stai next year.

"The Big Nasty" Brad Overand showing how a cradle is done in the land of plenty (ie, at heavyweight)
Jeff Abhold earning his first high school medal, with his patented "assassin" pinning combination.