Days 13 and 14 of 16 with the Grands *The Last Weekend*

Since he was a small boy, Cole has been quite a checker-player, and when he brought the thick board down from the game room to challenge me a couple of days ago, he said he had not played checkers for a long time. Throughout Saturday and Sunday he and I played many games. Sometimes he beat me, and from time to time I “laid it on him.” He also played with Brady, and kind, big brother that he is, he even took time with Ella and instructed her a bit.

One day Ella helped me peel apples and I made a couple of pies. Rebecca had invited the crew to spend the night with her, but Nathaniel was not going to be home, so only Ella accepted the invitation. One of the pies was for Nathaniel and Rebecca, so we drove down to San Bernardino where to Aunt Becky’s place we delivered an apple pie and sweet Ella.

On Sunday we went to church at the Garretts in Yucaipa; afterward we ate together at Farmer Boys, a chain here in California (elsewhere?)  that serves great hamburgers, and a few other things. Had a great visit with Holly who had just spent a week in New York and had lots of pictures to show me. Cole and Brady sat with Zac and Ian, and seemed to have a good time with them.

I continue to be plagued with a cold, and now Brady has joined me in this little fight against pesky cold germs.

These grandchildren of mine are wonderful human beings; responsible, kind, and loving. They’re missing their parents somewhat I believe, but do not seem to be terribly homesick. Every day–sometimes more than once–they FaceTime their parents.

Day 12 of 16 with the Grands *Afternoon at Lake Arrowhead*

After Gentry finished his schoolwork, and after we had eaten lunch, I loaded the three youngsters in the car and we drove to Lake Arrowhead Village. We walked the entire mall, in and out of stores, spent some time down by the water, played around in a small park there, and ended our spree with a stop at McDonald’s for drinks.

dsc_4530dsc_4541“Take my picture here,” Cole said.

dsc_4543Little sweet rascal.

dsc_4539Others visitors were there.

dsc_4550The day was magnificent.

dsc_4551Lake Arrowhead, spectacular as always.dsc_4554End of the outing: McFlurries

Day 9 of 16 with the Grands *Disneyland!*

It was around 8:00 on Tuesday morning when hubby drove Ella and me down to connect with Rebecca and the boys. The Disneyland day had arrived; their gates opened at 10:00 and we didn’t want to miss one minute. It surprises me a bit, but Disneyland allows food to be taken onto their grounds, so we each had frozen bottles of water, and sandwiches, trail mix, granola bars and such were in the backpacks that were the order of the day.

img_0461The women.

img_0467-2The men.

The day was as perfect as any could be. Warm weather, but not too hot. Slightly humid.img_0516-2

img_0495The mouse ears. Love them and the little girl who wore them all day.

img_0496At the entrance Rebecca and I told the boys they could split off from us if they wanted, and as we spoke we decided on a place to meet later in the afternoon for a meal together. However, it worked out that in the early part of the day we were in the same places, in particular we entered the Haunted House together. Ella was terrified. Nathaniel was so sweet with her all day long. He hugged her up when she was so frightened, and often they walked hand in hand. Ella dearly loves her big cousin, Nathaniel.

img_0541I can ride these tea cups, whirl as fast as they go, and never feel a touch of dizziness. We had met up with a family from Rebecca’s church. London shared a cup with us.

Once when Cole and Brady were with us women and we talked of getting some food, the boys entered a food place where we were sitting outside. Somehow they thought they had to spend their own money for this meal and when I followed them in a few minutes later, Cole said, “I don’t think I want to eat here, Granny.” One slice of pizza was $8.00! We wandered around a bit, found a hamburger joint and ordered our food there; Cole’s hamburger and fries was $12.00!

“What do you want to drink?” I quizzed all of them. The drinks were nearly $4.00 each.

“We’ll get water out of the fountain and put in our bottles,” Cole said. I know I have mentioned it before but these grandchildren of mine are really exceptional; thoughtful and not greedy at all.

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It’s a bit strange, I suppose, but Pirates of the Caribbean has always been my favorite attraction at Disneyland. Ella loved it too, and we wound up going there twice. I think all together we covered most of the rides. I did not like Space Mountain. Too dark and loud. All the kids loved it.

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We closed the place down, and even the boys were  complaining with leg and foot pain before we got to the parking lot around 10:00. I chose to wear these not too beautiful tennis shoes, and at the day’s conclusion had only a little pain over one of my toes.

“Granny, those rainbow laces,” Cole had giggled when he saw my shoes early that morning.

It was a glorious day!

 

Day 8 of 16 with the Grands *The Dump, Pears, and Zinnias*

On Monday the phone rang. I answered.

“Granny, this is Nathaniel. What if I come up at 5:30 and bring Paisley to spend the night? And if its okay, the boys could go with me to play basketball at the church this evening. They can sleep over at our place, and we’ll meet up with you and Ella at our house in the morning.”

In that way the final plans were laid for the Disneyland trip. Rebecca and Nathaniel were joining the Buxton grands and me, as Jerry had decided the trip was a bit too strenuous for him. He would “baby-sit” Paisley and Winston.

First, though, the basement clean-out job must be finished, for the trip to the dump/thrift store had earlier been postponed in favor of something else. Ken lent his trailer, Cole and  Brady helped their Pappy connect it to our Jeep, then loaded it, and tied it down with a tarp. They were off, and in less than two hours were back.

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Sad. There go my green chairs with the beautiful carved legs. 😦

dsc_4519I haven’t engaged in a lot of creative photography since the youngsters have been here, and I’m disappointed that at Disneyland I will not have my camera with me. I have decided not to take it, but to use my phone instead. We’ll be taking bottles of water, lunches and snacks, and my camera and favorite lens are quite heavy.

But in the back yard, the pears are nearing harvest time and are stunningly beautiful.

dsc_4515. . .as are the zinnias, which are nearing the end of their days.

dsc_4521The boys and I sat down at the dining room table as I gave them money to spend at Disneyland and to tell them how proud I am of their behavior, their work-ethic, and their fine manners. They loaded up their backpacks, I fed them dinner, and by 6:00 Nate had come and they were gone down the hill. Disneyland tomorrow!

Pennsylvania Trip–Part 5

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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….and came the night.

Trip to Pennsylvania–Part 4

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.

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. . .then the evening food.

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

 

 

 

 

Trip to Pennsylvania–Part I

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.

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

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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.

Friends, A Cool Invention

Within each lifetime are portions of challenge. Alongside spiraling days of sunshine made glorious by glowing health and abundant prosperity are chunks of heaviness made dismal by days of inky sorrow and of gloomy prospects. True of everyone. None sidestep the issue. Friends are a cool invention, for wisping along with them, as pleasant as any summer breeze, are bubbly snippets of joy. When they come around, invariably along with them come those magical ingredients that whip up some of the happy, unforgettable days of a well-lived life.

Such a joyful encounter was Jerry’s and mine when our friends Pastor Kris Keyes and his charming wife Lisa of Safford, Az. came a couple of days ago to visit in our home.

Jerry and I planned a fine menu. He cooked ribs and a chicken on his beloved smoker that sets on the back deck and I prepared the rest of the meal. I took pleasure in setting a nice table. 20150515-untitled (1 of 1)I chose red plates, used our finest silverware, and stuck floral napkins through the handle of napkin rings made in the shape of watering pots. Winston hung around our feet

20150512-untitled (4 of 19)Winston shocked us by his immediate, almost hero-worship-style of attraction to both of our friends when they arrived. (They had circled around a bit too long on our mountain roads, so finally Jerry went down to our 7-11 and led them to our driveway.) That little Shih Tzu adored them. On Thursday morning he lay at the door of the guest room where they were sleeping, and made sweet, whiny noises, occasionally poking his nose into the space where the door meets the floor. Quite unusual behavior for Winston, as in the past he has generally been hesitant to meet new people, and has not been overly friendly to them.

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20150514-untitled (7 of 19)Stormy weather moved in with plunging temperatures, high winds, and pelting rain that snapped against our windows and doors. It was perfect weather for a long and cozy visit with our friends. We ate the high-calorie food Jerry and I had prepared, lingered at the table, and drank barrels of coffee (well, not quite barrels, but big jugs full.) Jerry kept the fireplace roaring. We talked. And talked.

Kris Keyes is the pastor of an Apostolic church in Safford, AZ. and much of our conversation centered around mutual friends and church activities. Politics, grill types, smoking methods, scriptures and their meanings, recipes, books we’ve read, hiking, and snippets of internet gleanings were among the subjects that filled in the spaces. On their computer, they showed us the pictures of their daughter Sarah’s recent wedding.

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We moved to the study where Jerry riffled through his grill book so that he could print off a copy of his brining recipe. . . and we began saying our good-byes.

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Our society has changed drastically since I was a child; many of the changes are positive ones, making for longer, healthier, more prosperous lives. Some changes , though, fall into the negative heap. One of these is our busyness; bolting through day after seething day, racing to another meeting, grabbing our phones for another can’t-be-missed conversation. Flip open our laptops, for surely people await to read every word that skids through our hot brains, read the news, despair, and occasionally rejoice. Make more money. Buy a newer car, a bigger house, a prettier dress. . .

And seldom do we sit. Sit for long periods. With a friend. With our family. No agenda. No rush. Sit. Talk. Share hearts. (Takes a while to share a heart.) Be quiet. Commune.

Guilty . . .I confess.

During the recent elegant hours Jerry and I spent with these friends I was so touched at one point as we discussed some great spiritual happenings during our  lifetimes, Kris looked toward his wife and said, “I want that. I want that for our church.” Such conversations do not evolve quickly, nor through casual talk, nor through hurried, breakneck-speed words.

I have few answers to the dilemma of our frazzled, rushed society, but I do suggest that much peace and restfulness will likely come about when we ask friends into our homes. When we appeal to our families for time. Just time. Days perhaps. When they come and stay awhile, when we talk and listen. We hear. Our hearts pulse together.

A Day of Curiosity

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john Dewey said it:

The curious mind is constantly alert and exploring, seeking material for thought, as a vigorous and healthy body is on the qui vive for nutriment. Eagerness for experience, for new and varied contacts, is found where wonder is found. Such curiosity is the only sure guarantee of the acquisition of the primary facts upon which inference must base itself.

I admit to the owning of a hefty portion of inquisitiveness, to the extent that Jerry has sometimes grown impatient with me if I wander off when a group of us is exploring a new city or a fresh countryside, afraid I’ll get lost or someone will nab me! 🙂 Yesterday our electricity was to be off for four hours while a new pole was installed behind our house, so I decided on a roaming about the mountains shindig, and Jerry was persuaded to come along with me, as was Winston.

During our trek I became hungry, fast-food places are scarce here in the San Berdoos, so while I was in the market to pick up a few groceries, I snagged a few items. We would have a picnic! In Lake Arrowhead after driving down a steep road that came to a dead end and doing a turn around, I spied wild apple trees. I stopped the car, grabbed my camera and leashed up Winston for a romp. I shook the tree, but nothing fell, so all I left with were pictures. Our picnic area overlooked both Lake Arrowhead and tiny Papoose Lake. No one else was in the area where we were, except that when we first arrived, I saw a gentleman across the road walking his two large dogs.  The day was glorious, our food was fresh, the ambiance remarkable.

It was while I was photographing the gigantic pine cones that Jerry called. “There’s an eagle.” I pointed my camera skyward and caught a shot of this majestic bird as he dipped and wheeled through the magnificent sky.

I also inquire in my mind, and though I would never think of embarrassing anyone, I would love to know why anyone would mutilate his body as has the young man pictured above. We saw him on our first stop of the afternoon trek at a vintage car show where he was displaying the most unusual Volkswagen that runs on, of all things, smoke from burning wood. (I’ll post more of this later.) But why? Why do people want to appear this way?

Right away, there will be some who reject my right to question this action implying that I am judging him, and that I have no right. I’m beginning a thorough study of scripture that warns against our judging others, thinking there surely is a time when we are to be distressed about actions we see around us. Jesus did. Plaited a whip and went into the temple and overturned the tables where deception and dishonesty were being paraded. I’m not suggesting that because of his appearance this young man has low morals or is dishonest. Not at all. I am suggesting that such an appearance likely will make it difficult for him to be gainfully employed.

I’m worried about our country. Concerned about morals and deceit and downward spiraling. I’m curious, so while I fling about the countryside enjoying the splendor, tromp with my great dog through dusty paths, and watch eagles wing and hover overhead, I am thinking. I am gravely concerned.

Beautiful Balboa of San Diego

We were down in San Diego on Friday for dual purposes; to take care of business and to visit with our two children who live here. Jerry and Steve were busy with manly things, so with my sweet Nikon on the seat beside me in our white Jeep and with my feet snug in great shoes, I traced my way from the 54 W to the 5 N, took the Pershing Street exit 15 B, drove up a steep hill and entered the environs of beautiful Balboa Park. I spent two invigorating hours wandering about admiring, almost gasping sometimes at the splendor, and snapping my shutter numerous times.

Take a look at a few things I saw. Image

The surface of this reflecting pool was afloat with numerous lily pads and blossoms.

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The late afternoon sun slanted, lighting the flowers as though neon flared through their skin..

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Purple blossoms reared their stunning heads among the green circular pads.

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I turned a corner and saw bougainvillea trailing forward, back-lit by the receding sun, the outline of a mission the backdrop for the scarlet flowers.

We in Southern California are blessed by a plethora of magnificence . . . from the awe-inspiriting Pacific coast to our soaring mountains, not to mention man-made attractions such as Balboa with its varied museums and world-class zoo. Does anyone think we may forget to enjoy those things that are so close to us? I’m afraid I may be guilty of that. I’m not nearly as familiar with Balboa as I should be. It covers more than 1200 acres, which range from open trails to magnificent buildings such as some I have pictured here.

Where do you live?  . . . .Is there countryside you should explore? Ancient buildings you should tour? Do historical trails and battlefields lie nearby, or museums, or do stately courthouses line the streets of your Americana? What of the great cities, their alleyways, their trains and buses, their cathedrals? . . . Where do you live? Do you know the place? Sniffed its aroma lately, followed your nose to a neighborhood bakery, trained your eyes to see its grandeur. . . . I’m challenging you: Get out and about. One more thing . . . tell us about it, right here in a comment box. 🙂