For Memorial

Three of my four children, along with some of their families, came to our home–Jerry’s and mine–during the Memorial Day Weekend. We had a fabulous time.

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On Friday afternoon Andrew and his clan fought such traffic from San Diego that the typical two-hour or so drive took more than four. Rebecca, Nathaniel, Michael, and Melina made it in on Saturday. Jerry had smoked a turkey on Thursday–best turkey I ever tasted–then on Saturday spent most of the day tending his smoker and grill so that when we sat down for our evening meal we were treated to exceptional ribs and juicy steaks. The kids brought food, Jerry tended the grill, and I cooked some things. We feasted.

But the best part was not the steaks, nor–to be honest– the flags, neither the bunting, or the chocolate cake or Bek’s special oatmeal cookies. The best part was time. There was time to reflect and talk about the meaning of the flags and of Memorial Day itself. Our children gave us, and each other, the gift of time. Time to talk, to laugh, to reminisce. Time to speak of plans, of failures, of successes, of God, of our babies growing now into adults, of death of parents and other loved ones . . .of life.

DSC_7161Those who follow my blog know I am an amateur photographer, although pretty serious about it. However, in these family gatherings at my home I get so caught up in other things that I take very few pictures, then later I’m sad at the dearth of images that are mine. Andrew snapped this one of Mike and me a short while before Mike and Melina left . . .

DSC_7175. . .and on the front deck I preserved this image of Andrew and Shauna. Little more.

Time included us piling into cars and plying the roads, streets and lanes of Crestline and its neighbors for the annual Memorial Day Mountain-Wide Garage Sales. We all scored.

DSC_7247 This antique game bird collectors plate is Bavarian, and is one of five I bought for the grand price of $3.00. Not each. For all! (Told you we scored.) Along the side of the road as we meandered about was a box with free items in it. I was riding with Gentry when I wondered what it might be.

“Do you want it, Granny?”

“Yes.”

Brady jumped out, and popped the box and its contents into the trunk beside our other treasures. Turned out to be a George Foreman large grill with interchangeable plates–about $100.00 new someone said when they checked the internet . . .and so we had waffles from our found treasure. Had waffles on Sunday evening, and they were so delicious we ate such fare again on Monday morning before everyone left.

The highlight of the weekend was Sunday morning when three Buxton families worshipped at a nearby church. As we stood together in the altar area near the end of the service, I was happy for this time, for this Memorial Day weekend.  Thankful.

At the lodge by the lake, by myself on Monday morning at 11:00 I attended a service honoring those who have fallen, who have given their lives. Stories wafted through the air, as did films, and other presentations. Veterans marched with guns, flags were posted and presented. Tears glistened in the eyes of a hundred or so people as we watched and as we listened. We stood and sang God Bless America, then the poignant, unmatchable tones of Taps sounded through the room, and the time was over.

DSC_7213I walked a short distance on Lake Gregory shoreline yesterday, and as I rounded a corner near this log, I saw two turtles. One of them eyed me, so I sat down on a likely spot and communed with the critters for 20 minutes or so. They move slowly, do turtles, deliberately and with no appearance of haste. They have time. So did I.

Safari

The Nairobi area has experienced a significant drought, so the rain that pelted us at the airport on Tuesday evening was quite welcome, even to the animals that roam the lush savannah lands of southern Kenya. We saw hundreds of them during our safari, sleek, healthy, and beautiful. It was a breathtaking moment as we motored down a dirt trail, saw a spotted neck rise above the trees and a face thrust about, so that we could recognize this being  as an elegant giraffe. They are huge animals, ranging from 15 to 19 feet tall.

DSC_6288The landscape itself was magnificent. The weather glorious. In certain places it was safe for us to leave our vehicles and walk about.DSC_6487Indeed one of the rangers offered to guide us to a spot where a crocodile had recently hatched 15 babies.

DSC_6467DSC_6473Zebras seem impossible. They are so fine, so perfectly stripped. Sophistication with a mask on. We saw herd after herd of these beautiful creatures.

DSC_6369This fella fixed his eyes on me as we paused to consider his handsomeness.DSC_6353What of these horns?

DSC_6388“There’s a lion down the way,” someone in another vehicle told us once as we stopped for something. “A recent kill.”  The lion had killed a cape buffalo that lay beside the road. The lion was a few feet away in some bushes, but unfortunately we could not see him well. We did see his chest moving up and down, breathing hard as he digested his tasty meal.

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A bit of a tourist trap threatened to snag us when after walking with a guide down a trail we were led to this little business venture by some ambitious Maasai. We smiled, fingered the trinkets, but I don’t believe any of us bought anything.

Adventure personified–the day of the safari in Nairobi, Kenya on the continent of Africa.

Days 5, 6, and 7 of 16 with the Grands *Sleepover, Picnic, and Church*

What a pleasure these grands continue to be. Dependable and cooperative, they follow the few house rules we’ve laid down, and are even quick to do their school work right after breakfast each morning. Ella has finished her entire packet, so she’s far ahead of schedule. They talk frequently with their parents in Hawaii by “FaceTime” and don’t seem to be homesick to any great degree.

In preparation for our attending a church musical concert in Rialto on Friday evening, I had them select the clothes they would be wearing. At this point, Cole discovered that somehow he hadn’t brought his dress clothes. Off to the thrift store we went, where he could find no pants to fit him, but he did find a shirt that he would match up with a nice pair of jeans he had. Nathaniel had called to see if they could spend the night and of course that was fine with me. At church after the concert, Ella approached me about her being a part of the sleepover with her cousin. Aunt Becky said it would be fine, that she had an extra toothbrush and such. So hubby and I made the trip up the mountain late Friday with no youngsters.

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Days ago we had planned a picnic down at Lake Gregory for Saturday, so it worked out fine for Rebecca to bring the children home and be a part of the festive day. I fried 15 drum sticks, whipped up some potato salad, and she brought chips and peanut butter and oatmeal cookies she had baked.

dsc_4480dsc_4482Of course we took the dogs. Although not from the same litter, Rebecca’s Shih Tzu, Paisley, is Winston’s sister. A ball of activity, she loves to play fetch.

dsc_4496Winston splashes about in the lake up to his belly, but he never takes off swimming. Brady took him for a couple of walks through the beautiful wooded areas lining Lake Gregory.

dsc_4484Handsome, talented Cole.

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11:20 am 9/22 Revision

Whoops! Forgot to add that on Sunday, the 7th day of the grand visit we dressed for church and drove down to Rialto to attend The Lighthouse Church where Rev. Tim Spell was the special speaker . . .and singer. Rebecca had been sweet enough to invite us to her home for lunch where she had prepared burritos made of buffalo sauce and chicken. Delicious. Mid afternoon we headed up the hill where in the evening we “attended church” by way of live-streaming. At the Anchor Church in San Diego Rev. Fred Childs preached a moving, vital, powerful message.

Day 3 of 16 with the Grands *Winston’s Birthday Party*

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Pappy needed a little help with a couple of things to spruce up the Buxton place, so Nathaniel came up to join with Cole and Brady for an hour or so of yard work.

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Ella baked a cake with the help of Brady and Duncan Hines, I found three candles in a party drawer, and we invited Rebecca’s Paisley, and Shelby, the yellow lab who lives across the street. Wednesday was Winston’s birthday, so of course we must throw him a party.

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dsc_4459We tied gold ribbon around Winston to dress him up a bit, we served doggy treats on party paper plates, but the celebration did not last too long. Shelby and Winston don’t get along too well, and Winston kept barking at his beautiful neighbor. The party broke up after about three minutes and Brady snapped on Shelby’s leash on and took her home.

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The youngsters’ Pappy didn’t seem too impressed with the party favors, but he played along.

dsc_4469Later we showed Winston his birthday cake, helped him blow out the candles, then we ate generous squares of the luscious chocolate. We did feed him a sweet crumb or two.

Of Buddy

A text message alerted me to call Rebecca. I called.

She asked. “We’re putting Buddy down tomorrow. Can we come up and have you take pictures?”

Buddy is one boy’s dog. Has been since Buddy was rescued from an animal shelter and presented to Nathaniel when he was in the 4th grade. Nathaniel who is now a man. Nathaniel who graduated from high school last year, Nathaniel who takes college courses now, and who works as a roofer. Buddy is a black dog, nine years old (they think). Buddy is sweet. Has kidney failure. He’s big, and can be scary.

Buddy is one family’s dog. Truthfully, since Nathaniel has reached his manhood and taken on such responsibility, much of the care of Buddy has fallen to Rebecca, my daughter, Nathaniel’s mother. We’re all lovers of animals, and both Jerry and I were attached to Buddy.

“Sure, all of you come on up,” I told Rebecca.

I did not take a picture of Buddy wearing a diaper, for it seemed demeaning to that beautiful animal. Blood and urine and pain. Nathaniel would dig a grave . . .in their back yard.DSC_3376We talked. All of us spoke of grief and love and attachment.

“It’s worth it though, Granny,” Nathaniel said once. “The fun, the love, the good times I’ve had with Buddy makes this time of sorrow worth it.”

Rebecca sent me pictures of the grave and of Buddy’s body. Jerry said, “I don’t want to see them.”

I cried . . .as have we all.

 

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Turban Squash, the Woods, and Us

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

The Dogs of Forrest, and A Cat

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.

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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
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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

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.
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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.”

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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.

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.

A Party for Winston

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Yesterday was my birthday, and I am now two years old. Mistress is conflicted between wondering if I have edged into my terrible twos, or if I’ve entered my teen years and am now a fourteen-year-old.

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Before they came home from church yesterday, my people stopped at a 99 cent store to buy things for my party. No suitable hats, so Mistress decided a birthday cup would work, and so it did. From the gift ribbon and paper area upstairs, she brought down this beautiful blue ribbon, punched holes in the cup, and tied a bow under my chin.

Purple pom-poms was the background for my party and my plate was beautiful as you can see.

.imageRefreshments consisted of a small scoop of ice cream, and a cookie nibble. I wasn’t allowed much of the cookie for it had chocolate in it, and they tell me I should not eat chocolate. I did try to snatch up the glittery purple stuff, but Mistress pulled the slim strands from my mouth, laughing, saying they would not be good for me.

As I dipped into my refreshment plate, my hat slipped. Mistress removed it, so I could lap up my birthday treat without unnecessary hindrances.image

I thought you’d like to know about my birthday . . .and in case you didn’t know and didn’t send me good wishes yesterday, you may do so now. And, uhm . .presents. Well, I’m told it is not nice to ask for any. . .so just listen to your heart, I guess.

Good-bye from Winston–Sir Winston of Crestline, that is.