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 10 of 16 with the Grands *Restocking Day*

I had intended that Ella and I spend a chunk of this day down the hill shopping to restock the cupboards and the refrigerator, for both areas were now showing empty spaces . . .and the little mouths, the medium-sized mouths, and the big mouths were still chomping away. But she was tired from the late Disneyland trip, and still sleeping, when it was time for me to go. Brady was up and ready.

“May I go with you, Granny?”

“How about your school work?”

“I only have two more chapters to read, then I will be totally finished. Not just for today, but completely.”

So, he took his book, jumped in the car, and he and I jaunted off to San Bernardino. First stop was the 99 cent store where I stocked up on wonderful sourdough bread, grapes, tomatoes, and a few other things. Second stop was Aldi. Third stop was a remarkable thrift store in Loma Linda, a tiny place, that from time to time places hand-lettered signs on the door that announces spectacular specials. Today a sign read, ALL FURNITURE $5.00. “Five dollars?” I asked the clerk

“Yes.” She smiled broadly. As I say, the place is tiny. Couches were stacked atop each other, fine wing-back chairs were crammed about, and a most magnificent headboard in which I had interest was pressed against the back wall. But I passed it by, for it just was not a good day to be trying to buy a headboard, stick it in the back of the Jeep etc……..

Fourth stop was Wal-Mart, and because my list had nicely dwindled, I canceled stop number five which was to have been Costco. The only problem was I had planned to buy a rotisserie chicken there for dinner. But we had things in the freezer I could pull out.

Home, then. Everyone helped unload all the goodies, and later I baked peanut butter cookies to make up for the less than stellar meal.

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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.

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.

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

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.

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 2

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

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

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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.