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.

Trying to be a Tree

I spied the little fella yesterday as I was cleaning out a flower bed, noted his beauty, and since then at length have considered  his lesson. This morning as I set out for another day of yard clean-up, I carried my camera down the stairs with me for I was remembering from yesterday this little creation.

He is trying to be a tree.

He was ordained to be a tree, and somehow in his “guts” he knows he is destined to be such a living thing. It is in his genes, his DNA. Even so, it has not been easy for him. He has fought obstacles including the beating about of fierce winds that come off Lake Gregory and that tear around the corner of our house. Through the winter months cold, edgy snow piled high over him, drenching rain poured off our roof at the spot where he lies, and even sometimes after walking Winston if the garage door is closed I toss a little doggie business bag in that area, that stays there until later when I will retrieve it and plunk it into a trash can. Even that, as you can see, did not deter him. He pushed and shoved. He grew, he grunted, he persevered until finally he was strong enough to crack open his restrictive acorn walls, to flaunt his bright green oak leaves. For you understand, don’t you, that God designed him to be a tree.

DSC_7141 I actually did not know he was there until yesterday, and even then I paid him scant attention. It was only when my rake hung up on him, and I found him to be well rooted into the ground that I considered him. It matters not to him that neither Jerry or me, or anyone else for that matter, had taken note of him, that no one encouraged him with pep talks, or strokes, or positive words. Alone, he continued on his way toward being a tree. He’s a winner, this little seedling of mine. He’s rare. Rare, you say? An acorn? There must be millions in existence, or billions. Yes, there are, but I tell you that out of the mounds of acorns I bagged today, only this one will be a tree. The others have lost their way. Their dreams have died. Their visions of soaring into the sky, of birds nesting among their leaves, of little boys climbing and building club houses in their branches have vanished. Tonight they nestle against the other losers in black trash bags that set near the fence on the east side of our drive way.

And what of you? Of me? What of the gifts God and genetics have placed inside us? What of the urging to break through the binding walls that threaten our going to our graves with our potential unfulfilled, our talents silenced, the world deprived of our gifts. Let not the wind, nor the cold, nor loneliness, nor pressure, nor agedness, nor youth, nor past mistakes, nor anything else now or in the future defeat us.

. . .for even a few rare acorns become trees.

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My little fella is growing in a place that is undesirable. That I now consider him special, I will transplant him into a container. Because we have many oak trees and no room for another, I’m offering him as a gift to you who live close by. Any takers?

An Unexpected Storm and Manzanita

Rain last night, accompanied by such lightening and thunder as we seldom see here in Crestline. Our forecast indicated a slight chance of rain, with no mention of thunderstorms. When I heard the first rumble, I looked across the living room and quizzically stared at Jerry. “Is that thunder?”

It was, and thus began the hours-long visual display of lightening, and the drum-like sound of the accompanying thunder.

Much earlier in the day, well before we drove away for our Sunday morning worship, Jerry and I had walked with Winston. On leaving the house, I saw that the light was glorious, carried my camera with me, and snapped these two shots of the men in my life.

dsc_4738dsc_4755Winston’s placid moments were to give way to sheer panic, though, when in the evening the thunderstorms moved in. He was terrified. Once when he went out in the back, a thunderbolt sounded so loudly, that he hid under the ground-level stairs and would not come up, necessitating my going down and carrying him into the house. He trembled for hours. Nothing we did seemed to calm him. He spent the night under our bed.

The storm raged for hours–throughout the night, and has continued today.

Between showers we took our Monday morning walk, and I snagged a treasure. I had eyed the gem from time to time as we walked between our house and the woods near Thousand Pines Camp; today I decided to take it home with me. The small manzanita branch was red, full of leaves, and when I bent to pick it up, I found it to be slightly attached to the earth on the side of the hill. With one firm tug, I uprooted the woody piece, and began the short drag to our house.

dsc_4764“What are you going to do with that?” (Guess who asked.)

“Oh, I’m not sure. Lay it around somewhere. Look how pretty it is.”

“You’re a sight dragging that branch down the street,” hubby sweetly noted.

dsc_4766dsc_4771Manzanita is beautiful wood, drought resistant, and our variety presents itself with  a rich mahogany color. My piece has small orange leaves and resides now on a table that sets on our front deck. Its final place will change over the course of the months and years, for despite its humble delivery to our home, the formation is suitable to anchor a centerpiece for the most formal of occasions, or to be plopped onto a rustic plank in the back yard for a picnic or a barbecue meal.

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The storm is reluctant to leave. While I have composed this piece sitting on our living room couch with a small fire burning within a few feet of me, Winston is still hiding, for numerous showers accompanied by persistent thunderbolts and flashes of lightening continue to fill the air here in the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains.

A Day of Beauty

A couple of errands I needed to run led me traipsing about the majestic San Bernardino Mountains today, in particular through Crestline and Blue Jay, then into Lake Arrowhead. The weather was perfect; azure skies against which now are flung golden leaves and red and scarlet.

dsc_4633dsc_4638Along the roadway I traveled, a rusted truck stays parked. Today I noted a person near the pumpkins that were in the back of the truck, so I pulled in beside it to say a friendly hello to my fellow mountaineer. As I drew closer I was surprised to see other “persons” in the truck cab. They were of a friendly nature and didn’t seem to mind my snapping a few shots.

dsc_4628dsc_4630A splendid cabin set nearby, and once a young man walked close to me, and asked if I needed help. “No, just taking a few pictures. Thank you,” I replied.

“Have a good day, Ma’am.” He grinned and returned to his work.

Within a couple of hours I was home again. I’m quite interested in our world, try to stay abreast of what’s going on around me, and of course current news reports are jammed with accounts of our election progress. No one asked me, but I’ll tell you anyway; the whole thing is a mess. I’m sad at the depths to which our glorious country has fallen.

So . . .tonight I checked out of all that. Jerry built a roaring fire from eucalyptus wood our son Steve brought to us a few weeks ago. Indeed, it is glorious. The perfect ending to a beautiful day.

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Is Fall My Favorite Season?

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Jerry went ahead of me into the lodge where we would eat lunch. “Let me tromp around a bit with my camera. I’ll meet you inside in half hour or so,” I had said to him.

Beams of noonday sun danced among newly fallen leaves, fiery orange and yellow. Acorns and pine cones and wispy weeds with seed heads of harvest lay spread about, and I reflected again: autumn is my favorite season . . .but again there is majestic winter . . .the pulsing bud of spring . . .the languid sweet days of summer . . .

And you? What is your favorite season? Can you decide?

The Fall of the Acorns

dsc_4599Through the night they fall from high oak trees, clang onto our roof, then bounce onto one of the decks, or onto the driveway that leads to the house. In the morning Jerry will sweep them up . . .again. The winds have increased, the temperature has dropped. Autumn, beautiful autumn, has arrived. The scent of ripening pears from our tree in the back floats through the air. The pears are perfection. Sometimes we eat one out of hand, or again on a small plate beside a slice of cheddar or a scoop of goat cheese.

Day 11 of 16 with the Grands *The Savages are Restless*

A touch of tension in the ranks today. Youngsters appear to be growing bored and are pushing the limits Pappy has set for using the computers and the iPads. “Two hours a day is your limit,” he growled a little bit.

“Go upstairs to the game room and get out a game or two. Find something we can all play, and I’ll play with you,” I told them.

So, for much of the afternoon, we four played Phase 10. I love games, so it was not a sacrifice for me . . .except that finally I was a bit bored.

Yesterday I developed a sore throat and an ear ache; today I finally admitted to have caught a cold. Quite a surprise, for it has been years since I’ve had either a cold or the flu. Not bad, though, I’m still functioning.

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.

A Rather Fine Day

We met Elinor a few years ago at the lodge down by Lake Gregory where often on Tuesday we go at noon for a meal served to adults of senior age. She is charming, spunky, beautiful, and 85 years old. During one of our noonday conversations, as we talked of gardening and plants, she indicated she had a dogwood tree seedling.

“Would we like to have it? Did we have a sunny spot?” she asked.

A few days ago Nathaniel had prepared a hole on our back bank in which to plant the little tree, so we were ready.  This morning we drove to Elinor’s place, following the perfect map she had drawn. Jerry was outfitted with gardener’s gloves, a bucket and a hefty shovel.

DSC_3279First, before we tackled the transplant, Elinor showed us about her place. Flashing her majestic smile, she stood behind her glorious rhododendrons for my first photo of the day.

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Both the rhododendrons and the dogwoods are past their prime for the season, but the light was so beautiful on this branch, I snapped a shot anyway. Our seedling is from this mother tree which Elinor planted 40 years ago. She has lived in this same place for 47 years. Amazing.

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As Jerry prepared to dig up the little plant, she kindly pushed him aside, saying, “Let the old woman do it.” Jerry stepped back a bit, and as they both bent back and forth, scraped, and scooped, the little fella was soon in the bucket and placed in the back of our Jeep.

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Late this afternoon, Jerry maneuvered our rather steep back bank and settled the two-year-old dogwood tree into its prepared place. Sets now on Buxton property. One day it may reach a height of 40 feet, and perhaps there will be someone around who will say, “Yeah, Jerry Buxton–remember him?–he planted this great tree.”

I had the ingredients I needed, so early this morning, I baked four loaves of banana bread. I took one to Elinor, still warm from the oven, along with a small note thanking her for her friendship.

A fine day? Yes, rather a fine one.

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The Case of the Missing Camera Card

IMG_0222.jpgYou see this camera. For a couple of years now, it has belonged to me. It’s a great camera that takes wonderful pictures . . .

…………………..unless the operator (think me) neglects to insert the card into the little designated slot. If that dreaded situation happens, when the holder of the camera (think me) lifts the beloved to take a wonderful picture such as that below, a little signal shows in the viewer that indicates a missing card. Alas. Alas.

DSC_2900This morning I stood on the banks of Lake Gregory, where a few days ago, I had snapped this shot, also of Lake Gregory, but on the opposite side. I have a new lens–85mm 1.8–that had given me this exceptional photograph.The light was gorgeous. I was excited thinking I would get another spectacular shot . . .Again, alas, alas, for my beloved Nikon had no card. Helpless.

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I finished out the walk with Winston, urged him into the car, with the resolve that I would drive the very short distance to our home, find the card, insert it, then return to the lake quickly before the light changed drastically.

The card was nowhere to be found. I had warned myself of this happening many times, for too often after taking the card from the camera, inserting it into my Mac to transfer the images, then removing it from the Mac, I lay it down on the arm of the couch, as I eagerly check out the photos I’ve loaded into Lightroom. Sickening. I just could not find it.

Off came the cushions of the couch and the cushions of two chairs. Nothing. Well, nothing that thrilled me too much. Only bobby pins of varying styles, ballpoint pens, dust balls, a large paper clip and small portions of doggie treats. (Winston has a propensity for saving his treats from time to time. Never know when a famine might arise, must be his thinking.) Did Winston find it and snag it as a chew toy? I ran my fingers under the edge of the couch, Jerry tipped it up so I could see behind it (too heavy for us to move.) Finally I gave up. “We’ll have to run by Best Buy on our way to the graduation tonight,” I told Jerry.

DSC_2954My mind would not shut down, though. I had a faint memory of taking the card out yesterday in an unusual place. What did I wear then? Grey skirt, red sweater . . .with pockets. Surely I would not stick that card in a pocket. Would I? I rushed to the closet, pushed my hand down in the pocket of the cardigan sweater, felt something thin . . .Voila. There it was!

Herein lies a couple of important messages. To you photographers who use cameras such as mine, no matter how beloved is your little treasure, it will not work without the card. Believe me, it is disconcerting to stand with a vision in front of you, with magnificent light falling on the scene, to lift the camera to your eye, and see a symbol of a camera card with a black slash drawn through it. The second lesson applies to all of you (and especially to me): Store things where they belong. Now. Always. Without fail.