Holiday “Doings” at the Buxton’s

A few days before Thanksgiving, I opened the closet in the study where much of our Christmas decorations are stored and began setting out boxes. At ground level of our front deck, I ducked my head, walked under, opened a storage door and pulled out a couple of boxes that hold outdoor lights. Never before Thanksgiving had I festooned our home for Christmas. This was a first–a glorious first. I reasoned (in case someone would complain, which they did not) that last year because of my cancer surgery, my Christmas celebration had been limited. I’d make up for it this year.

What a season it has been.

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Rebecca brought up a lighted bare-limbed tree and felt leaves on which each of us could write down one blessing, and at the table before the sumptuous Thanksgiving meal, we read aloud our thanks. (Imperial Sir Winston knows he is a major treasure in our lives, and thus positioned himself.)

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The weather described perfect winter holidays. Cold, foggy and snowy. Some of us piled into our trusty Jeep and drove the mile or so down to the lake, where Andrew and I braved the cold and ice to take pictures.

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A soup so great that at the end my guests were tipping the huge crockpot to scoop out one more bowl was central to the food we served at our “almost annual” neighborhood party the first Saturday of December. Twenty-six relatives and other friends graced our home.

dsc_5259Among them was this gorgeous baby boy who resides with our new neighbors who live just around the corner on the street that leads to the woods.

dsc_5153            Mrs. Claus dropped by, as did the “real” Santa, another new neighbor, but I didn’t get a good picture of him. You know how sneaky Santa can be sometimes

And . . .wonder of wonders . . .for a few hours before Christmas Day was done, each of my children was here in our home.

Before we opened our gifts that Sunday morning, our patriarch led us in a simple time of worship. He wept as he spoke of the love of God, and for the love of his family. Each of us, except the very youngest, told words of love and blessing. Jerry asked Nate to read from Luke the story of the nativity.

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The gifts were distributed by a very skinny Santa. Gentry is 6’3 and almost 19 years old. These are his legs.

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Our gifts to each other were simple, for we are a simple family, and are old enough and wise enough to understand value and deep joy lie in places other than within the contents of beautiful boxes tied up with elaborate bows.

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Even a couple of greats showed up with their dad, Chris, and because we were out of beds, they joined the others who had stretched out camp bags and quilts, or snagged a couch for sleeping on Christmas night.

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dsc_5441Winston (and us) was blessed to have four of his dog cousins join us for the holidays. He liked some of them; others, sadly, he did not. You’re seeing Charley here, who lives with Andrew and his clan in San Diego.

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During all the holidays, no one had won a game of checkers against Cole. He is the family champ. On the day before they were to leave after Christmas, he challenged me to a game. He had beaten me badly during their Thanksgiving visit. Embarrassing, and I had escaped him . . .until now. Guess what! I beat the little rascal . . . whipped the socks off him. He grinned, and said, “Want to play another one, Granny?”

You must be kidding, I thought. “Nope, I think not,” I very wisely said.

The deed is done. The 2016 holiday season is finished, and we have moved seamlessly into the year of our Lord Twenty Seventeen. None of us know what the days ahead hold. Both joy and sorrow will visit us; success and failure; good days and bad ones; laughter and wretched tears. For us, the extended Gerald Buxton family, we put our trust, our confidence, and our faith in God, in Jesus Christ, the righteous

Blessings to you and yours.

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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Days 15 and 16 of 16 Days with the Grands *Preparations for Leaving*

The last two days of this great visit I encouraged the youngsters to be sure they had all their things gathered, so that they would leave nothing behind. I believe I have mentioned before that these grandchildren like to discuss what we will be having for meals. I had told them sometime before that on the 16th day, which would be Tuesday, we would have fried chicken. And so we did . . .along with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans (which they spurned !) and a green salad.

dsc_4564As she had for every meal we ate in the dining room while the youngsters were here, Ella set the table. She always does a fine job, setting the silverware properly and choosing cloth napkins to blend with the dishes we have chosen to use.

Andrew and Shawnna’s plane arrives in the late evening, so arrangements had been made that they would not come to our place until Wednesday morning, which was actually the 17th day.

On Wednesday morning, I did final laundry for them, spruced up the house, urged them to get their bags packed, and helped them remake the beds after I washed the sheets. Jerry had decided to smoke ribs for the big afternoon meal, and Rebecca and Nathaniel would join all of us. The day was warm; we set up tables on the back deck.

. . .and then they were here.

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I became distracted and got few photographs after that.

We spent several hours together before they had to leave, hearing a few of their adventures and seeing pictures of magnificent Hawaii on their computer. Andrew and Shawnna both have quite an artistic flair, and each of them produces beautiful photography. She uses a cell phone. Andrew has a Nikon. The youngsters told of their adventures, and Cole even snookered his dad into a game of checkers.

On the north shore of Oahu, actually within the sea, Andrew had the good fortune of finding a large piece of coral. He and Shawnna gifted his dad and me with this magnificent piece. . .and with this very touching card.

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And then they were gone.

It is quiet now. Too quiet.

 

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.

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!

Day 4 of 16 with the Grands *Pay Jobs*

Being the organized slavedriver that I am, when the youngsters are here to visit they are all assigned chores, and I give them no money for tackling these little jobs. Not too many; just enough to help train them to pull their own weight. These chores include taking their dishes from each meal to the sink, taking care of their own rooms, making their beds, putting dirty laundry on the washer, and putting up their clean clothes after I wash them. At various times I add other little jobs that take just a few minutes after they have done their school work each morning.

Sometimes I pay, though, and Thursday was such a day. Eight dollars an hour were the wages for the boys; five dollars for Ella. They worked hard and deserve every bit of money I have paid (and in Ella’s case, will pay). One of our basement rooms was the object of our furious overhaul, and as I sorted and judged, they carried out items and/or stacked them neatly on shelves. We have hundreds of books displayed inside our home, and in this basement room we had boxes of others that we had considered discarding, but just could not take the step to do so. Now was the time. I refused myself the luxury of poking through these boxes, for I knew I would grieve at letting go of some of them, although Jerry checked through them after the boys had carried them out to be discarded. (I confess right now to have snatched from destruction  three books that were on the top of one of the boxes, and which now are lounging on a table in our bedroom.)

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Brady wagged in a shop vacuum to take care of messy housekeeping by some of our vagrant mice families.

dsc_4510I can’t sew a stitch and don’t even own a working sewing machine, so it is quite strange that once upon a time I fell in love with these antique chairs and thought somehow I could recover them. In my mind I even picked out the material–a black and white glen plaid. They would be stunning in one of the upstairs guest rooms. Since the time of those regal dreams the green tufted objects have been mouldering in subject basement room, occasionally eliciting negative murmurs by the master of the house.

Out they went to the discard stack.

dsc_4511. . .as did this formerly handsome rattan chest, which now boasts a bashed in top, and was stuffed with winter jackets and snowsuits of all sizes. I sorted through the snow clothes, discarded tiny ones, and Cole lugged the rest of them into the house where I laundered them, then hung them on hooks in the garage.

After a milkshake break, and a half hour or so of work afterward, we were finished. Brady looked around, remarked how nice it appeared, and said, “We should have taken before and after pictures.” He’s right. We should have, but we didn’t

Jerry has spoken to Ken, our across-the-street neighbor, about borrowing his trailer. Tomorrow Jerry and the boys will hitch it to our Jeep, load up all these discards, and travel to the dump that is located over on Highway 18. Cool thing about our dump; a thrift store is there. So all the books, a stroller, a pitiful lamp, the beautiful green chairs, a huge suitcase . . .and such . . .will go the thrift store side. The rest? Dumped.

Day 2 of 16 with the Grands *Biscuits, Gravy, and Disneyland*

I “blew it” on the first day the youngsters were here, but I didn’t find out about the mistake I had made until the next day. When by snickering whispers, knowing looks, and finally a confession, I learned what I had done. I felt like poking every one of these three in the middle of their funniest bone to make them suffer. Happened this way:

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People who live here in southern California will probably find it hard to believe, but these youngsters of mine have never been to Disneyland. Never. Now I don’t believe they have suffered in any way for this lack of entertainment for they’re well adjusted friendly people, and don’t seem at all disadvantaged or in any way abused or neglected. 🙂 Anyway, I decided to treat them to such a trip while we are keeping them, ran the details by their parents, then ordered and printed out the tickets. It would be a secret, I decided. They would know we were going on a very special outing, and only when we arrived at the gates of the “happiest place on earth” would they know our destination to be Disneyland.

I was so excited. And so dumb. Left the tickets in full sight on the desk in the study; a desk that is not off limits, a desk where they are allowed to work, and to get tape, pens and such from its drawers.  Ella saw the tickets first, ran to tell Brady, then Cole saw them a few hours later. None of the little rascals right away said anything to me, but when I mentioned the secret trip they had blank looks on their faces, nodding wisely and sweetly. Finally Cole whispered to me, “We’re going to Disneyland, aren’t we Granny?”

“These youngsters of yours are little rats,” I later told Andrew on the phone.

“How did they find out?” he wanted to know. “Brady emailed me last night that they were going to Disneyland.”

Amidst slightly embarrassed laughter, I told the deed. And now you also know the saga of the almost secret trip to Disneyland.

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For breakfast on Tuesday we had biscuits and gravy, and when we were eating dinner, Brady said, “I love biscuits and gravy, Granny. We could have that for breakfast every day.”

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During these days we’re eating breakfast and lunch at the bar, and since we only have four bar stools I’m usually not sitting with the rest during these times. Love seeing Pappy with these special grands, hearing him say a prayer over the meals, or asking one of them to do so. Unforgettable, dear times.

Sixteen Days with Grands–Pre Day 1

Yes! Andrew asked Jerry and me if we would be able and willing to keep three of their children for 16 days while he, Shawnna, and their eldest son, Gentry, vacation in Hawaii. Gentry graduated from high school in the spring, and the trip is his graduation present. I was delighted to say yes!

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On Saturday, we traveled down to San Diego to meet up with Andrew’s family and with our second son, Mike, and his wife, Melina, who were there to celebrate their 26th wedding anniversary. Around 2:00 in the afternoon we all met near the jetty in Mission Beach. Relaxed in the afternoon, did “beachy” things, ate snacks, then just at dusk the men and boys built a great bonfire.

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dsc_4369Ella and her mom on the sands of the great Pacific.

dsc_4401The descent. At the edge . . . then gone. How quickly so. And Brady . . . merely days before, a baby. Now a fledgling young man.

So ended Saturday. On Sunday morning Jerry and I were extremely blessed to be in church with our three sons and some of their families.

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Great barbecue place after church. Loved being with my family. Loved seeing Jerry stand close to our wonderful boys, for through the years it has become almost impossible to get all our four children together at one time. I cherish such rare occasions and consider them precious. (Just sorry Rebecca didn’t make it down.)

At Andrew’s we loaded up Cole, Brady, and Ella, and by 2:30 were on our way to Crestline. We would see their parents in 16 days.

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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