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?

Mother’s Day 2017

Stephen Forrest Buxton is our eldest, thus it was his birth that made me a mother. Over the years followed Michael Ray, Rebecca Jean, and our caboose, Andrew Brian.

Often, I sit in my home and think of those four children of mine, and I must tell you sometimes I weep. I weep not for sadness, but for love, and awe, and thankfulness. How did it happen that these little rascals of Jerry’s and mine developed into the exceptional people they are? Often I am brought up short when I learn of their accomplishments, their gifts, their triumphant over adversity. None have been without challenge, but I tell you they have taken on the garment of upright people who are making positive contributions to society. They care deeply for their father and me; they assist and coddle us.DSC_7102

So, of course Mother’s Day is a significant one in my life. Let me tell you of yesterday. I began its celebration by jumping out of bed early, drinking coffee, and roaming about the house admiring the flowers and cards that had arrived from said youngsters and recalling the drama that Rebecca and I attended on Saturday. RUTH was the simple name of the Lighthouse Theatre production, so well done, so excellent that both Rebecca and I cried. After Jerry had been up a bit and we had our morning talk, I stripped our bed, washed and replaced the sheets, dusted both our bedroom and the living room, and vacuumed both the floors. I had a little time left before we would leave for church, so I went out back and planted our “farm.” Two tomato plants, three stalks of corn, and one bell pepper. The zucchini and yellow squash must wait until another day for I had used all the potting soil.

I subject you to the mundane list of my Sunday morning activities because I am thankful all my energy has returned! This time last year I was recovering from breast cancer and a subsequent mastectomy, chemo therapy, and 25 radiation treatments. The chemo knocked me winding sucking every bit of energy away from me. But now I’m well! My energy and strength are soaring. I’m extremely thankful.

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We met Rebecca at her church in Rialto; afterwards Jerry treated us to a delicious Mexican lunch at Hortensia’s.DSC_7080

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Early on in the church service the staff had sent a lovely orchid corsage to where I sat. Later, as Bishop Booker prepared to speak, he came to our pew, honored me with glowing words, and pressed a significant bill in my hand. Totally unexpected. Gracious and honorable. This morning, I placed water in this piece of carnival ware and floated the beautiful flower there.

DSC_7123When I called Mike to thank him for the present I had received, I teased him. “What did you send me, Mike? Do you know?”

“Uh, I used to, but I have forgotten.”

“A bird feeder. You sent me a beautiful porcelain bird feeder.”

We laughed together, for I know that most of my son’s wives actually buy such presents. Indeed Mike told me that Melina always shows him the present before she mails it to us, saying this is what we bought.

DSC_7115I’m still reveling in the beauty of the flowers and all the other ways my family (including my sweet hubby, Jerry) and friends honored me yesterday. I’ve wandered about the house taking pictures.

DSC_7111One more thing before I let you go! Another reason yesterday was special to me is that on Mother’s Day when I was 10 years old, I was filled with the Holy Ghost . . .and from that day to this God has lived in my heart. Is that not the coolest thing?

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.

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 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!

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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Of Ron, A Cup, and Roses

Back from walking Winston this morning, Jerry carried in his hand, then set down on the deck as he dealt with the leash, a cup I recognized. The cup is from a long-ago trip when several friends traveled with us as we trekked all the way from the west coast to the east, where in Maine we ate lobster and drank coffee at the Maine Roaster Coffee place. Five couples, all in very long motorhomes towing vehicles, had the trip of a lifetime, and that fine mug you see here came to be part of our kitchen things in that way. “Motor homing” is in our past and some of the souvenir cups that once bounced around in frisky cupboards now reside in sedate, non-moving shelves in our kitchen.

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But here it was in Jerry’s hand on this foggy, chilly morning in Crestline. And in the cup were two perky roses.

It was Ron’s doing. He lives five or six houses down, and last week when he popped in for a word he accepted Jerry’s offer of a cup of coffee. I recall him walking out the door, holding the cup in the air. “I’ll get your cup back to you.”

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Neighbors. Sweet neighbors. Thoughtful neighbors. With few exceptions those are the caliber of persons who live here in our “neck of the woods.”

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Ron brought me great joy today by placing a couple of stems with roses and buds into the mug he had drunk from last week.

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I wasn’t satisfied by merely looking at these treasures, for surely something as exquisite as these deserved a snap or two by my fine Nikon.

And just so, I posed them. I thought of Ron and his wife, of neighborliness, of roses, of their beauty. Of God who made them.

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And I thought of you, and wanted to share.

A Visit on the Bank of Greer’s Ferry Lake

Lots of life questions hound me, so that I am unsure of many things. Of this one subject, however, I am positive; my life has been unusually blessed by an outstanding, talented family, and by many friends who possess sterling qualities. Two such are the Rev. Jesse Emerson and his charming wife, LaDoyne. A couple of weeks ago, we were privileged to spend part of two days with them at their lovely home whose acreage leads down to the waters of Greer’s Ferry Lake in Clinton, Arkansas.

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Although Brother Emerson does preach from time to time, they no longer are in active ministry and feel blessed to have found this home where they can spend their retirement years.This giant cup holding a magnificent plant speaks to the theme of their lives–I could tell.

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20150321-untitled (46 of 67)Beautiful voices yet, with perfect harmony. At the end of the meal they sang a sweet song–something about where has our youth gone? We grinned and clapped.

20150320-untitled (17 of 67)She was pulling these from the oven when we arrived.

20150321-untitled (55 of 67)Under this magnificent tree, two white lounge chairs await the languid summer days when the Emersons sit and bask in the cool breeze off the lake. Their family often come to visit and to play in the water.

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20150320-untitled (34 of 67)We talked of sun rooms, and storms that ripped out windows, and looked at treasured old books. We spoke of our enduring friendship and recalled the long ago days of their preaching at our church when we pastored. We spoke of motor homes and recalled they lived in one for years as they crisscrossed the United States doing the work of an evangelist. We spoke of health issues and families and friends; of aging and of progress and of regression. Upstairs they have fitted out three rooms they refer to as the Prophet’s Chambers. Consisting of a tiny living room that looks to the lake, a minuscule kitchen, and a comfy bedroom, they open this area from time to time to missionaries and other ministers who need a place to stay for awhile, to catch their breath, to regain their equilibrium.

And then it was time to go, and we left with hugs, and smiles, and promises . . .to keep.

I cherish those days, and guard carefully my friendship with such dear and precious people. How truly blessed I am.

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And what of you? I would love to hear of your friendships–whether we have mutual ones, or you have others to tell us about.

Ballet in the Woods

A movement on the rock–rock color, except that it moved, and I saw the scamper of tiny lizard. So small he was, I thought I might have stumbled onto a reptile maternity ward, for surely he must have only just cracked through his tiny egg. I read, too, that lizards may hatch early if a loud rumble or a heavy vibration circles up around the egg, and a sense of danger, the chance of predator, pervades. I hope I had not set up a rumble as I trudged up the small hill into the woods at the end of our street. Surely I did not cause a premature lizard birth this September morning–a morning of perfection, warm, with a faint brush of chill that had seen me to the closet for the first time this season to take out my jacket of lightest weight. I angled down my camera, but he was swift, and escape and hiding were encoded in his ancient reptilian brain, and anyway, he had escaped his crib already, and then he was at the side of the rock, and down, then into the thick grasses . . . and gone. I had not snapped my shutter, of such quickness were his movements.

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The low grasses wave, slender and graceful so that I see they are ballet dancers and the sunlight beams through their stems and fronds and highlights their heavy heads, heads that droop now with seed, precious seed, for therein is eternity. Unmistakable elegance, if one will pause long, and will stare at length; elegance, raw beauty, unmistakably a push against the dismissal of such as mere weeds.

The lizard, gone now, a skitter among the ballet.

My Farm Report

I live on a farm, you know, and during these summer days I try exceptionally hard to insure that I stay on the cutting edge of modern day farming techniques. I read widely (well, what I can find on the internet without too much trouble) with the intent of sharpening my farmer skills so that my crops will be abundant, beautiful, tasty, and without tooth marks from the many critters with whom I share my space in these beautiful San Bernardino Mountains.

untitled (16 of 31)(A little aside here. Did you know the Defense Department has just granted more than 3 million dollars to buy land to protect pocket gophers? while at the same time thousands of employees have been laid off because there’s not enough money to go around. What? Say again?)

Anyway, while we’re on the subject of gophers you need to know we have plenty of the little fellas around here and if someone wants to protect them, just come over and I’ll give you free run of my land to catch as many as you can, and you may take them as pets. They eat things; prowl about under the dirt, chomping on vegetable and flower roots, drilling holes in the earth, then popping up for an open air feast.  One evening last week they dined on my beautiful okra plants which are planted in pots, and which I had  carefully nurtured, and which are now encased in fine screen against the onslaught of hungry gophers and ravenous ground squirrels.

Tomatoes are my stars this year. I have three plants; cherry, Better Boy, and Early Girl. They have grown so fast and so tall that the cages and stakes I had provided became woefully inadequate, so a couple of mornings have seen Jerry and me out in the wide tomato field with string, clothespins, and finally with a pvc contraption with which to support these glorious specimens that are taller than I am.

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untitled (15 of 31)Some farmers speak of their land in terms of acres. I’m a little different, so I just go about speaking of mine in terms of pots. In case you’re at all interested, I have: three tomato plants, one yellow squash, one zucchini squash, one jalapeno (which I bought at the 99 cent store and which now is showing a great blossom) and four okra plants. The okra was an afterthought–saw four little shoots in a square container at Lowes, so brought them home and put two each in a couple of pots. One pot is the wooden barrel of an ice cream freezer which Ken and Nancy were getting rid of it. Cute as can be. One day I’ll show you a picture.

untitled (18 of 31)untitled (19 of 31)Before breakfast, by hand, I had watered my entire farm, crooned to the injured okra plants, which are so brave and strong, that they have already shot up new leaves, wondered why I see no little squashes, only beautiful yellow blossoms, and eyed a couple of red beauties which I will pick just before dinner, which I will slice, salt and pepper and serve along with the grilled pork chops I have in mind.

I quite like this farming part of my life . . . and earlier today had this thought concerning expansion: A goat or two! Wonder how Jerry would like it if I ordered in one little billy goat…hmm……or should it be a nanny?. . . milk and all, you know. Goat cheese.