Turban Squash, the Woods, and Us


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Although we do not have as large stands of color as is seen in wooded areas in the midwest and in the eastern parts of the United States, the San Bernardino mountains where we live do boast some rather spectacular scenery this time of the year. Our alpine forests gleam, their deep green splashed here and there with swathes of red and gold that when illuminated by slants of autumn light are little short of spectacular.

imageJerry decided to go with me last Friday when I said I wanted to tromp through some areas around here hoping to get a few good photographs. The hour was toward noon before we left, so I whipped up a couple of fine sandwiches, filled a slim thermos with freshly brewed coffee and snagged from the cupboards a hand-full of fun-size candy bars. Winston made three of us.

A few weeks ago when i bought pumpkins and other fallish items to create a display near our entrance door, included in my purchases was a turban squash which was so beautiful that I moved it into our house and set it on a chair in the study. I loved the way those two simple items looked. Then I envisioned them set among thin weeds in the woods.

I carried the chair and the squash to our trusty Jeep. i drove, looking for the perfect spot.

imageI stood on one of the highest reaches of Crestline when I snapped this picture which affords a stunning glimpse of highway 18 winding its way from the valley floor into these mountain communities. But it was when we drove down a canyon trail that I found the spot.

imageI moved the chair about until I found the right place with the best light.image . . .and then it was as I imagined.

The temperature hovered around 40 degrees, a bit chilly for an authentic picnic, so as we sat inside the car, we ate the delicious ham sandwiches and drank the steamy coffee. Winston sat on the console between us, looking from one to the other as he begged with his round glossy eyes.

imageNot one car came by us on the canyon road as we lived out the afternoon squash/picnic/photography spree.

imageA beautiful spot with streaming light lay across the trail. I moved the chair, and when Jerry and Winston had sat down in it, I shot the final photo of the day

Silence of the Ages


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A 44-second stare is a long one; possibly intimidating, uncomfortable, even maddening.image I watched a few days ago as Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, took such a stance before the United Nations. He preceded the stern stare with these words:

Seventy years after the murder of 6 million Jews, Iran’s rulers promised to destroy my country, murder my people; and the response from this body — the response from nearly every one of the governments represented here — has been absolutely nothing,” a defiant Netanyahu said. “Utter silence. Deafening silence.

I admire Mr. Netanyahu. His passionate speeches inspire me. His recent stare, and his words utter silence and deafening silence made an impact on me; on my mind, my emotions, on my soul.

For one day–of a surety the day will come–the eyes of the Almighty will bore into mine, and in that great silence–the silence of the ages–I must give account of my life on this earth.

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Revelation 20:12

I cringe when I consider that moment. I shudder to think of the opening of “my book.” The eyes of God will surely be riveted on me. Screaming around me will be the silence of the ages.

Enter twins: Grace and Mercy.

The Dogs of Forrest, and A Cat


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imageIsabel is her name, she weighs 75 pounds and her proud owners, Junior and Sandy, report she has recently lost 10 pounds, which puts her at a normal weight for an English Bulldog of her frame. I laughed at her repeatedly as I visited my brother, for she is downright funny. She takes three or four plodding steps, then plops down hard wherever she is, which may be right at your feet. Her head is monstrous.image

She reminds me of both a pig–look at those legs, regular hams–and a rhinoceros. Would you believe, though, she gets up quite a head of steam when she decides to chase one of the beautiful chickens. Izzy sleeps in Sandy’s room, although one morning when I arose before the others I found her on the fine leather couch in the living room. She languidly opened one eye, then closed it and resumed her snoring. When Sandy found her there, she promptly scolded Isabel and shooed her off the couch.

Once Sandy dropped off Isabel at an obedience school. When she returned to pick her up after the first day of training, the coach in a friendly way said, “You know what. Some dogs are made to just be companions. We’ll refund your money.” Seems she just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) learn the most basic of commands! Sandy put a leash on her, and Izzy waddled to the car.


Pugsley is a Shih Tzu, a little ole man, nearly blind, either 12 or 13 years old. He is tended by Sandy, a little touchy and wouldn’t let me pick him up. He sleeps in a crate in the office area. Sometimes when a treat is promised, he performs a little trick.

imageimageimageYou’re met Sally before. A beautiful, sweet boxer, she thinks Pugsley is her pup. One evening as we all sat in the living room, Isabel did something mean to Pugsley. Next thing we knew a dog fight was roaring with Sally atop Isabel holding her down and biting her ears. Junior and Sandy broke up the fight; Sandy held Isabel down hard to the floor a bit for punishment. A little later Sally went to Isabel and sweetly licked her ears.image

One cold winter night, Junior heard something mewling outside the house. He opened the door, and in the howling weather found a tiny, drenched, black kitten. Kitty is now a beautiful, sleek cat who lives in the Forrest home, mostly in Junior’s area. Name is Gato which is cat in Spanish. Not sure whether Gato is a boy or a girl. Forgot to ask. Sally thinks Gato also is her baby. Sally sleeps in the bed with Junior. Gato sleeps somewhere in the area.

Every morning Junior holds “Doggy Day Care” where he feeds the animals and washes their faces. One afternoon while we were there, he cooked up a batch of hamburger meat for their lunch. He grinned at us when he admitted the deed.

A Man and a Dog


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From the time of his birth, my mother doted on him, and should she have lived to see his maturity her impressions would have been confirmed. Along with many others who now understand, she would have known my brother, Farrell E. Forrest, Jr., to be a rare individual. Our mother died at 39 years. Junior was seven. I was twelve. Our sister was ten.

He left home at seventeen, served in the military, spent time at university and obtained a degree in electrical engineering. He invented things, the main one having to do with mining procedures. After his wife died of cancer, and after he had retired, in conjunction with his expertise, he lived for years in Antofagasta, Chile, which is heavily involved in copper mining. In his late fifties or early sixties, beginning with six workers, he founded a business. Before he sold it and retired again, the company employed a thousand people. He exceeded the expectations of a “regular” company owner providing unusual perks to his people, including health insurance.

On the streets of Antofagasta roam many street dogs. Of a particular one, he learned. She is of the Boxer breed, around nine-months-old, the vet thought, skinny, scared of golf clubs, a tendency to cower, and with burn marks on her neck. Junior took her home with him.

Then it was time for Junior to retire from that phase of his life and to return to the United States. Sally. She is incredibly smart, loyal, and beautiful; he could not entertain the thought of leaving her. A handler accompanied her as she was shipped home in an enormous crate. The trip included lots of shots and being quarantined in several countries . . .but finally she arrived in Pittsburg and the handler transferred her to Junior’s vet. The cost? $10,000.

“Ten thousand dollars?” I exclaimed.

“Yes. Ten thousand dollars, and I’d do it again for this dog.”


Sunday after church I dragged a chair onto a lawn. “Pictures, Junior. I want pictures of you and Sally.”

imageI, too, love Sally. She is an incredible dog. Tried to talk her into packing up some bags and moving to California. “Lots of Spanish talk there, Sally,” I told her. “You’d feel at home.” She declined my invitation.

imageFarrell, E. Forrest, Jr. My brother. A man. Kind, gentle, generous, successful.

Pennsylvania Trip–Part 5


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Yesterday was our last day for major sightseeing, for today we’ll be going to church, then gathering all our things this afternoon, for tomorrow we leave for home.

imageFirst thing in the morning, from his kitchen downstairs, my brother carried up this fine specialty ham. Processed, and shipped from Spain, the meat is cured so that it requires no refrigeration. The thin slices are delectable.


In Pittsburg, we climbed onto one of these amphibious Duck Boats, which we rode for a tour through the beautiful downtown area. The architecture is stunning, a fine mix of modern buildings, and aged classic structures. Then our driver drove down a ramp, and straight into the water, where we passed many people cavorting about, having fun on this beautiful day. Pittsburg boasts more than 450 bridges.


Major rivers play a significant part of the city which sets among hills and high bluffs. During the major “steel” era, many inclines were constructed to aid in the transportation system. imageA couple of them are still operational. We clattered to the top, then we indulged in very fine dining. Our table was set next to wide windows which gave to one of the most magnificent city views I have ever seen. Truly, an experience.


…………..and the setting sun played against the magnificent skyline.


….and came the night.

Trip to Pennsylvania–Part 4


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The setting of Duquesne University on the Ohio River near downtown Pittsburg makes for a stunning campus. Moriah, who is my brother’s granddaughter, obtained her BS in their nursing program. Yesterday we drove about the area, taking in the beauty of the river, and the rolling hills on which are set the fine buildings.imageimage

imageA joy of traveling are those moments when a chance encounter involves us for a brief moment in a significant part of a stranger’s life. Such was so yesterday as a wedding party stepped down the sidewalk beside our moving car. As I pushed my camera lens through the open window, the bride’s photographers looked at me and grinned.

imageThe culmination of our city prowl took us to South Side Works, a small square with shops, restaurants, and music by street performers. We traipsed through a fine kitchen store, then I sat on a bench and indulged in a bit of street photography.


. . .then the evening food.



Just before midnight I tumbled into bed . . .a wide smile on my face.





Pennsylvania Trip–Part 3 Rust and Pods


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Well may you ask the connection between rust and pods, and further may you question the significance of a post about either of them. And I confess, I have no answer, except that something about each class intrigues me. What is it? The passage of time with its connection with our own lives? Durability? The charm of the flawed?

Near one of the stores where we shopped yesterday was an ancient gasoline pump. Broken. Rusted.  Beautiful. Its sides were pitted with decay.imageimage

In a clump beside the old pump was a stand of yellow flowers (black-eyed susans?) that with a flourish had shot up the side of the flawed metal.        .image

image   Its brand was legible.     imageNearby in the things of rust was a fence.imageChains and iron of decay.

Pods abound here on my brother’s property. I’m enchanted.image.imageimage

Trip to Pennsylvania–Part 2


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Among some Amish people–perhaps all–is a sensitivity to being photographed, so despite my proclivity for wanting to snap pictures of everything, I’m careful to be inoffensive to those about me. Yesterday we trekked to Smitsburg, a small town an hour or so from my brother’s with an extensive Amish population. Not many of them were out and about, but when Junior drove the car in front of a tall white farmhouse to pitch in $2.00 and take up a fat pumpkin, a school bus pulled up and off stepped an Amish youngster.

image“May I take your picture?” I asked, and when he nodded I snapped a couple of shots. He ran up the hill to his house, but I called him back to give him a dollar. His father was watching from the barn. I waved and spoke to him.imageimageEarlier we had eaten a meal in this restaurant, and Junior asked, “Have you eaten perogies” and when we said we had not, he placed a small order. They were delicious. Turns out they are dumplings made from unleavened dough, boiled, then covered with butter and grilled onions. Often stuffed with potatoes, sometimes cheese, probably lots of things. They were delicious. I could have eaten a plate full all by myself! image

imageWe browsed antiques store, tramped down gravel driveways, shopped in chocolate shops and drank water and root beer and handled packages of specialty flour and nuts and popcorn and looked at cases of cheese and followed Amish buggies down the road way, then . . .our last stop.

“I’m cooking steaks for you tonight,” Junior said. My eyes widened at the meat he chose, and the total that rang up. Seven steaks. One rib roast!image


Jerry found an old tape once we arrived home. What a day! What a trip! What a brother I have!


Trip to Pennsylvania–Part I


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On Monday Jerry and I traversed a couple of jetways, flew through placid, beautiful air, and a few hours later landed in Pittsburg (snapped this shot from the car) imagewhere my brother, Junior, picked us up, helped us with our luggage, then drove us to his beautiful home which sets on 80 acres. Since his retirement, he “pretends” to be a farmer. Beautiful roosters scat about the property, one rooster lives in the enclosure where the hens do their business. Their chickens only recently began laying, and with great flourish we visited the egg plant and gathered the eggs.


Sandy lives with her dad in the house that consists of 4500 square feet, 5 bathrooms, two kitchens….I think the chickens are hers.


The bees are Junior’s pride and we spent an hour or so tending them. They are amazing.

imageimageI donned protective gear to “help.” My brother wears none, and has never been stung. Sandy went to the barn and came back with an apparatus with small bellows that produces smoke that for some reason calms the bees. Junior pulled out the trays, and even though it is not time to harvest the honey, already were drenched with honey. We poked our fingers in and licked off the delicious sweetness.

o                                                               imageIn the distance are the Laurel Highland Mountains.

Close by in another direction are the Alleghenies.

imageDeer by the hundreds graze around here. Last night after dinner–around 10:00–we drove around in Junior’s truck to spy on them. He had a spotlight which he would shine across the fields. We saw several.

Lots to tell, but at this moment I must get dressed for we are leaving for Smicksburg which has a large Amish population.

More tomorrow.

Food for a Rainy Day


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Here in California we are experiencing severe drought conditions; farmer’s crops are failing, and deadly fires are raging, especially in the northern part of the state. We woke this morning to dense fog, then throughout the day a steady rain poured from the sky. It’s a great day–dark, but wonderful, and one that called for a change in our plans.


We had thought to eat a light breakfast, then go down to the lodge at Lake Gregory for lunch. We both agreed we didn’t want to go anywhere, rather we wanted to enjoy the glorious, stormy weather, so Jerry carried in wood, set the fireplace to roaring, and I “set in” to cooking.

Breakfast would be hearty and delicious.




Gravy, bacon and eggs. Each person is entitled to his own opinion, but ask mine and I’ll tell you I think these items constitute the world’s finest breakfast.



The Kris Keyes family, our dear friends from Safford, AZ., recently sent us four jars of jelly they had whipped up in their kitchen. Today we chose to indulge in the mixed-berry variety. Slathered the jeweled sweetness on our hot, crunchy biscuits. Sweet butter drifted here and there within the fine morsels.


I’m pretty careful about not wasting food. When I have small bits of left-overs I place them in freezer bags with the thought of eventually using them to make soup. Perfect day to utilize these tasty morsels. In the drippings from the bacon, I sauted chopped onions, peppers, and celery in this pan, dumped in the soup bag things, added lots of water, a tablespoon of chicken broth power, pepper, and set the pot to simmer.

imageAlso in the freezer was a small bag of pecan pie mixture I had left over once when all the filling would not fit into the pie I was making. A frozen round of crust was also there. I whipped out these tiny pans, rolled out the crust, poured in the filling, added a few pecans, and shoved them into a hot oven.


We’ve eaten all the breakfast items. Same with the soup. All delicious. Now waiting on the counter are these two little pies. In an hour or so, I’ll turn on the Keurig, brew a couple of cups of strong coffee, and we will indulge.

What a day. Over 2 1/2 inches of rain. Food fit for royalty.


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