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.

Of Peppadews and Goat Cheese

A couple of Sundays ago after morning worship, our longtime friends, the Garretts, and our new friends, the Stegals, joined us for lunch at Macaroni Grill in Redlands. Holly and I each ordered a nice salad, and split a chicken dish. Someone ordered appetizers and when one of those dishes came to me, and I bit into a portion, I knew I was tasting an extraordinarily delicious food.

“What is this I’m eating?” I asked one of the waitresses, probably with my mouth full and with delectable droolings cascading down my chin.

“Peppers,” she said. “Peppadew peppers stuffed with goat cheese.”

She smiled as I raved at the incredible taste of those little morsels. “Some of our customers come in and order only appetizers.”

“I fully understand,” I replied.

Into my computer at home I typed the words Peppadew peppers served at Macaroni Grill, and voila, up came a recipe that looked to be exactly as the incredible dish had been prepared. DSC_4289Peppadew. Never heard of them, but I was hooked. Problem was, I could not find the peppers. Checked at Stater Brothers, Trader Joes, Von’s Pavillion, Jensen’s Fine Foods, and Goodwin’s Market. Holly checked at Gerards. Nothing. I did find them to be available on the internet,  so a few days ago, I ordered 12 jars of Peppadews! Today they arrived.

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A few minutes ago, I assembled half a dozen of these delicacies. Heavenly, I tell you.

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I’m taking a little issue with the recipe. One half teaspoon of goat cheese is nowhere near enough. I stuffed in more, probably a rousing good tablespoon.

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We’re having a little backyard  end of summer BBQ next Saturday, and I’ll be passing around these glorious sweet peppers. Stop by and I’ll hand you one . . .maybe even give you one of the eleven jars I now have in my pantry.

 

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.

Of Home, Family, Friendship, and Food

Our house is on the large size, rather more than Jerry or I need in our later years, but for the most part we enjoy having it, for often we have others here with us in Crestline, including our family of four children and all those who now trail along with them, including grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Friends. Neighbors.

20141225-untitled (79 of 114)We’re into our fifteenth year of living in these beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, and I’m not exactly sure in which one of those years we met Robert who lives down on the part of Wabern that merges into the woods. We were walking when we met him–sure of that–for it was years before we coaxed him into our home, so our relationship was cultivated as we walked past his house, and as we lingered to talk if he happened to be outside. I estimate his age as being in the late 40s, he’s of a reserved nature, of few words, and he shows a kind spirit. During these years Jerry had a serious heart attack even to the extent of a cardiac arrest in the ambulance as it headed to the hospital, and of course over the years, we told Robert of Jerry’s severe accident in 1994, and sometimes we discussed his residual problems, so maybe because of those things Robert assumed a posture of gentle concern for Jerry. Robert’s dark hair is styled into a ponytail that flows down his broad back. He is a recently retired operating room nurse. Sometime throughout these years, he married Jennifer, a charming, friendly young woman.

Much goes on at our place; a fair amount includes Winston, our grandchildren, and food.

20140805-untitled (62 of 187) 20140821-untitled (165 of 187) 20140824-untitled (171 of 187)Some of our oldest friends, both in age, and in the length of friendship, are Sam and Lil White. They live in Arizona now, and because he understood they would be by themselves for Thanksgiving, Jerry drove to Arizona and brought them to our home. They are each 92, vigorous in mind, but failing in their bodies. When Jerry had helped Lil into the house, she immediately sat down in a chair near the door and began crying. “What’s wrong, Lil? Why are you crying?” I asked.

“Happy, Shirley. These are tears of joy. I’m so glad to be here.”

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During the Christmas season nearly every year, Jerry and I host an open house for our friends and neighbors. 20141213-untitled (97 of 119)Usually we have around thirty people or so attend. I cook lots of food.

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This year Robert and Jennifer came. (Not pictured.) As they prepared to leave and as I gave them a small gift, wrapped up in a tiny beautiful Christmas bag, I sensed they were very touched. Something about people loving their neighbors enough and loving Jesus enough to spend a bit of time and money and arrange for a winter’s evening of joy for a couple dozen people touched them deeply. I could tell. I don’t understand it, for lots of people go to lots of parties, and Robert and Jennifer are certainly not backward people. Perhaps I had just forgotten, though, maybe I had not fully understood, how sometimes an open door, a hand on the shoulder, a slice of cake on a fine plate, a direct look in the eye can move another human.

A couple of days later, Robert and Jennifer knocked on our door. They brought a gift, a tiny holly plant wrapped in festive paper, and as we sat together on the couch, Robert said, “Thank you for inviting us. Thank you. We had a wonderful time.” I believe both their eyes glistened.

20150112-untitled (25 of 25)This has been a difficult post to write, and I’m not sure even now, I have expressed what I am feeling. Hope you “get” it. 🙂 Did you? Please tell me.

Kathy Hodgson At Rest

ImageBy honored men she had been carried to the earth.

ImageThe sun beat down on those who had now gone as far with dear Kathy Hodgson as was possible. “This is the day she lived for,” her treasured cousin spoke as we huddled and whispered and moved about.

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Elusive. As absurd to think of holding the tail of a wind as to hope to find words to soothe the grief.

ImageA small mark, a tiny plot. Impossible to encase such a life.

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ImageColleagues and friends. Some have traveled from far points across the country because they loved her.

ImageAnd so it is finished. Except that only now has life begun for her. Mysterious. Sure.

And for us life continues to move, steadily, unstoppable. And one day, we too, will be finished.

Honor to Whom. . .

Since I was a friend of his, Holly had said more than once to me, “I need to meet him. I want to thank him and remind him of how he has influenced my life,” or words to that effect. Then when she heard that he and other dear friends would be at our home on Tuesday, she asked, “Do you think it would be okay if Patrick and I come up and talk with them?”

The situation was this: Quarterly, we three couples–friends for most of our adult lives–rotate to our homes where we share dinner, and a breakfast the following morning: Stevensons, Hodges, and Buxtons. Holly and Patrick Garrett, our young friends who pastor a church in Yucaipa, CA., had not met either the Stevensons or the Hodges. It was in particular Johnny Hodges that Holly wanted to meet.

Earlier in the evening, I had phoned Holly and asked if they would be coming up. “Yes,” she replied. “We’re finishing drama practice and will be up in about an hour.” Our scrumptious dinner was over. Jerry had outdone himself on smoked St. Louis style ribs, (that’s another great story in itself), we had eaten dessert and had drunk strong coffee, Johnny had removed his shoes, and we had all slumped about in delicious old-time-Imagefriend conversations when the Garretts arrived. We made the introductions, offered food and drink, then rather quickly, Holly addressed Brother Johnny Hodges.

“I don’t know if you remember all the details,” she began, and then summarized the story. Her parents, Joyce and Richard Pierce, were not serving God, but because of family connections in the church asked Brother Hodges to marry them. Then sometime later when Holly came into the family, the Pierces asked Brother Hodges to dedicate their baby daughter to the Lord. He did so, and during the ceremony he urged them to continue to take little Holly to God’s house. Thus began the conversion of the Pierce family. He became a minister, and years later started a church in Costa Mesa, CA. It was there that Patrick Garrett found God, and where he and Holly fell in love. They married, have two sons of their own, and now pastor a church in Yucaipa.

“I want you to see the fruit of your labor, Brother Hodges,” Holly said as she pointed to Patrick, who was listening intently.

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A sweet presence of God surrounded us on Tuesday night in our living room as this beautiful young lady sincerely honored the man who those long ago years reached out to her parents, and thus “effected” her salvation, and those of her parents, her husband, her children, and those to whom she and Patrick minister today. I admired her for her thoughtfulness and for her sincerity. It was an unforgettable moment.

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Brother Hodges is now 82 years old, declining, and in very poor health. Many do not recall the days of his youth when he was an honored district leader, and was a preacher of rare skill, anointing, and distinction. Holly, too, has no memory of those days, but she has listened to the stories, and has heard their message, and has inculcated its meaning into her very soul. May there be more Holly Garretts in this world. May there be more Johnny Hodges.

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Seven Thousand and Counting

It grieved me to hear that a highly respected elder minister of the Gospel felt in good conscience he could no longer attend the church he had pastored for many years. The relative who had followed him as pastor has chosen a “new” gospel. The names lack significance. The message cracks with consequence.

As a counterpoint to the short piece above that I recently posted on Facebook, and which received many affirming comments, I present a young couple. Their names are Anthony and Shauna Allen.

ImageAnthony Allen is a young minister, and he and his darling wife stand as the antithesis of the relative noted in the paragraph above. On Sunday at the conclusion of their (and his parents) short visit in our home, Jerry spoke a short devotional.

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ImageAs I gave a final hug to Shauna, she spoke soft words me: It is such a blessing to be in a home where I feel so strongly the presence of God.

Image Our Sunday morning devotion in our living room ended in this way and I was reminded again that across the world there are innumerable honest, ethical, God-fearing people who are not deviating from the doctrines found in the Bible. Young ones, middle-aged ones, and older ones. I recalled that great prophet Elijah who once got to thinking he was the only one doing right. God rebuked him and cited 7000 who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

I smiled. . . and decided to tell you about it.

Thanksgiving at the Buxtons 2013

Here it is only five days from Christmas, and I have not posted about Thanksgiving, so tonight that little problem will be remedied, for indeed it was a special Thanksgiving. I believe we will remember this holiday of 2013 as the Thanksgiving of The Dogs. Oh, there were plenty of humans about, wonderful humans–Rebecca and Nathaniel, Andrew and his family, and untitled (157 of 167)Scott Shoemake and his family, and of course Jerry and me. But there were also dogs–three of them to be exact. untitled (105 of 167)Winston’s litter-mate brother, whose name is Milo was here, as was Charley Brown, a lumbering, slobbering, wet-eared Basset Hound who belongs to Shawnna, and whom Andrew had originally planned would be housed in the garage, but who within one day had nosed his way into the house, for after all there were two other dogs bouncing about, were there not?untitled (108 of 167)

untitled (73 of 167)Charley Brown snuffled about mostly ignoring the two little black and whites who nipped and yipped, and he’s so sweet, and once during the day he and Gentry took a nap together on the floor.untitled (77 of 167) Our patriarch read scripture of thanksgiving as we stood around the table before we were seated for our grand meal.

untitled (85 of 167)A drive about the area to show the Shoemakes our beautiful San Bernardino Mountain area, including Lake Gregory here.

untitled (151 of 167)Whoops! Almost forgot to tell you about Brady. “I brought my fish, Granny. He has to be fed every day, so I couldn’t leave him home.” So besides the great humans we had two lively Shih Tzu puppies, one sweet Basset Hound, and one blue fish who swam about in his container, and who survived, although once or twice, he missed a meal.untitled (125 of 167)We explored Dart Canyon and took pictures of the old buildings and cars there.

untitled (154 of 167) untitled (155 of 167) untitled (160 of 167) And then came the time when after all the games, and laughter, and puppy business, and eating good food, and tasty leftovers, and hugging and loving, and being thankful . . . the people, the fish, and the dogs were gone . . .except for Jerry and me who stayed here in our home for it seems a pretty good place to be. Winston stayed too, our newest treasure, a little pup who has entwined himself deep into our hearts.

Onward…it’s almost Christmas!

Sam and Lil White’s 70th Anniversary

“Do you know what today is?”

The gentleman addressed the question to his tiny wife who sat across the living room. Always small, she now is tiny, legally blind, and suffering from a painful Shingles attack. She did not answer.

“It’s our anniversary, Lil. Today is our 70th wedding anniversary.”

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And so it was, as my Jerry discovered today when he talked by telephone with his longtime friend Samuel S. White.

I am so sorry I did not recall their anniversary date, and thus did not call or send them a gift, or at least a card for this very significant day. I am sorry they were alone. . . and almost forgot the special day themselves. I am so sorry, for they are dear and precious people and deserved more from me.

Many of you know these exceptional people. Some of you might not have met Jesus except for this rare couple. We have benefited from her leadership among ladies, from his dynamic preaching, and from their generous spirits, and from their sincere love.

I hesitate to post their address, but I know many of you will want to acknowledge this special day in their lives, so I am posting my own address and if you would like to send a card or a letter I will bundle them and send them on to these our friends. Mail letters: Rev. and Mrs. Sam S. White c/o Shirley Buxton P. O. Box 4577 Crestline, CA. 92325

If you’d like to post a message to them here, I will make a copy of your words for the Whites.

Thank you.

News from Sir Winston

I’ve told you before how gracious and generous are the Pastor Robert Allen family, but their generosity almost excelled itself when Sister Allen said to Chloe, “Would you like one of the Shih Tzu pups?” I wasn’t there when they had the conversation, but a few hours later I learned of the potential gift when I too was offered one of the little dogs.

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“You’re giving me one of the puppies?” I asked.

“Yes, we often give one to our friends who are in ministry.”

That night I met Sir Winston and Milo . . . and my life has forever changed, for how could I look into such a face, and say, “No, thank you.”

Chloe called her dad for permission. Her dad said, “Yes, but we’ll keep it a secret from your mom,” thus arose the need to delay the earth-shattering news. She picked Milo, a tiny little fella with a beautiful white face.

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It was Friday night when we met the pups, and Jerry had said yes, I could have the remaining puppy. I hesitated for all the reasons I’ve mentioned previously.. . . but when we pulled away from Tucson we had two beautiful pups in a big cardboard box and were on our way to Lake Havasu where Mike and Mel were preparing dinner for us. Chloe and I had plans. We stopped at a WalMart the other side of Phoenix for we had to lay in supplies for our babies. Jerry kept Sir Winston in the car: ImageChloe tucked Milo in her purse and nearly caused a riot in the pet section when several people spotted him, called their relatives to see, and even had their picture taken with him. (We’ve learned since that we shouldn’t take them out in public yet, for they are too young for their shots, and they might pick up a disease.)

Chloe and I hid our pups behind our backs when we arrived at Mike’s, said, “1, 2, 3” and then popped out Milo and Sir Winston. Mike grinned . . . laughed . . . and called Melina to come see. We had bought puppy shampoo, so before dinner Chloe and I gave our babies their first bath.

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Jerry had preached in Lake Havasu Sunday, we drove home Monday, and by Tuesday afternoon, we had arrived in San Diego, and all the family had been introduced to Sir Winston and Milo. Shawnna was totally surprised, but excited.

From everything I’ve read and with conversations with other puppy owners, I’ve come to think Sir Winston is an exceptional dog. Excuse me while I brag.

1. Yesterday at Pet’s Mart, I bought a kennel for him. With no difficulty at all, he slept in it last night, by the side of our bed. He had his last potty trip at 10;00 . . . and slept without a sound until 5:00 am!

2. He almost never whines . . .

3. When I take him to the back deck, he immediately pees, but to finish his job, he wants to run around and sniff here and there. Our deck is one story high with open sides, and every day he walks a little faster, and I’m afraid he’s going to fall off the deck. So, today, Jerry and I made him a private bathroom. He does not like puppy papers, rather prefers the outdoors. To accommodate both his needs and his wishes, his area has many leaves, dirt, and other plants. I’ll probably put a paper out there, to help him get used to it for the days when freezing rain is falling and he will be forced to such a lowly thing! (He’s just much too elegant for plastic puppy papers; rather he needs a portion of God’s green, cool earth.:) )

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Early this morning, Sir Winston got lost. I had been playing with him for about an hour, could tell he was tired and was probably ready for a nap. I worked on my computer for a few minutes, then looked around for him, and he was gone. Gone! I mean. I called, looked under chairs, couches, in the bathrooms, under beds . . . calling all the time. I could not find him. I even went outside, called there. Nothing. Finally I went to the bedroom where Jerry was still asleep. “You didn’t come in here and get Winston, did you?”

“No,” he said as he roused and began to dress.

Sir Winston likes to sleep under my green chair in the dining room. I had looked carefully under there, had even run my hands around on the floor to feel for him. Nothing. Now, I retraced my steps, and decided to move the chair completely out. There. There on the bottom shelf of the bookcase, tucked way far back, he was curled fast asleep.

“You little rascal,” I said as I gathered him up. I took him to Jerry and said, “Winston has been a bad boy.”

I said that two or three times as Jerry was rubbing the thick black and white coat of little Sir Winston, then Jerry quietly said, “Shirley, you’ve scolded him enough.” I smiled inside.