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Lunch at Las Cuatro Milpas in Barrio Logan

As the seagull flies, Barrio Logan is a short distance from Balboa Park (the magnificent place in San Diego I recently wrote about here): As regards ambiance, Barrio Logan is as far removed from Balboa Park as is earth from the backside of Venus. The intrigue of both places is immense–at least to me, but then you might want to know I’m attracted not only to such doings as elegant dining, the viewing of remarkable architecture, and the hearing of music as it soars from symphony orchestras, but to “hole-in-the wall” eating joints, street banjo players, and the wandering down nondescript alleyways. More than once Jerry has said to me, “Shirley, you’re going to get yourself in trouble one of these days.” (Or sweet and caring words to that effect.)

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Las Cuatro Milpas

is located at 1875 Logan Avenue in the region of San Diego called Barrio Logan and has existed in all its glory in that very location since the year 1933. The rare eating place has been owned and operated by the same family since its opening day. A limited, but exceptionally tasty, menu includes, among a few other things, tamales, steaming bowls of beans with chorizo, rice, fresh tortillas, either chicken or pork tacos, and salsa so hot your tongue will mistake itself for a fireplace lighter. The place is highly recommended by food critics, and its clients include tourists who have been so lucky as to learn of the place, business people from downtown San Diego, and the “regular people” who live in the fair city on the bay. You walk through the door, read the menu high to the right of you, order, then move down a ways, pay the cashier, pick up a tray with your food on it, and select one of the picnic tables where you will sit to entangle yourself in some of the finest Mexican food known to man!

We used to live in San Diego and have been going to Las Cuatro since our children were babies. The place was so small then, I believe there was one–might have been two–picnic tables, and there were no lines. From the visible pop case we’d choose our bottled drinks and order our tacos and beans. Couple of dollars would be the charge–maybe three.

untitled (4 of 23)Now, every day, every single day, lines lead from the front door, down the sidewalk, and sometimes turn the corner and head down the next block. We waited about twenty minutes on Friday, I believe.

untitled (6 of 23)A grocery store operated by the same family used to be here, but now some of the walls have been knocked out to make additional space for more picnic tables, and no longer does the store exist.

“I’ll find us a table,” I said to Steve when we reached the door and could now order, and we wanted to sit in the kitchen, and I was lucky enough to find us a spot.

untitled (11 of 23)It is the same kitchen. The same. The one they began with.

untitled (12 of 23)Take a look at the mixer. That apparatus beside the mixer that resembles an old wringer washing machine actually makes the tortilla mixings into round balls, that are then patted out by hand.

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untitled (17 of 23)A few hours before, we had met Pastor Ron Willis who had flown in from Fort Wayne, Indiana and he had joined Steve, Jerry and me for lunch. He was ecstatic from the first bite.

untitled (19 of 23)“Do you have Mexican food in Fort Wayne,” I asked him.

“Not like this,” he burbled, grinning widely.

One of the sisters of the family sat at the other end of our table and filled us in on details of the family saga. She agreed that I could take her picture.

untitled (20 of 23)“Did you work here when you were little?” Jerry asked her.

“Did I work? Everybody worked. If we wanted to eat, we worked,” she sweetly, but firmly replied.

As I scouted out a place for us to eat, and had walked into the kitchen area, I saw a couple of pigeons pecking about in the flour on the tile floor. I guess they’ll be shooing them out any time, I thought, but I was wrong, for the women working back there gave no heed to the birds, and the pigeons with red feet and beautiful iridescent blue heads scampered here and there, nibbling up lunch!

untitled (15 of 23)Three more things you need to know:

_____________1. Las Cuatro Milpas means the four wide fields. ( I think. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

_____________2. The flour tortillas warm from the grill are “just so” stretchy, with a slight floury feel . . .best anywhere.

_____________3. The restaurant uses up 300 pounds of flour every day.

A thing I need to know:

Have you eaten at Las Cuatro Milpas or a similar “joint”? I would love to hear about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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The Catch of Friendship (Part 2)

Not enough to serve us a dynamite meal on Wednesday evening, and to engage in hours long sweet conversation, but breakfast on Thursday was in the friendship plan. So at 10:30, we gathered back at the Johnny Hodges place to delve into a sumptuous breakfast; fresh fruit, juice, Eggs Newport, sausage, English muffins…..

It was the middle of the afternoon before any of us made a move to leave. It had been a time of reflection, of reciting the wonders of God, of delving into our pasts, of bragging on Jesus and His people. So overcome with emotion he could hardly speak, Berl recounted how God moved to bring his grandson to be the pastor when he was ready to retire. He opened his heart as he told of the beauty of the transition and their remarkable relationship now as Bishop and Pastor, grandfather and grandson. He wept. . . as did I, and as did others.


A circle of elderly friends were we. And then Johnny told of the time he and Elaine had been in Israel, and from a distance he had pointed to Golgotha. “That’s where my salvation was purchased,” he said.


And on yesterday afternoon, we all gazed as he recounted the event, and we were moved to our core, and knew it to be so, and recalled that such a knowing was the glittering, silver cord that connects us six friends.






We prayed . . . and then left.

Catch it if you can . . . the spirit of enduring friendship.

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The Catch of Friendship

As we parked our car, Nita came from the opened front door of their home, walked down the steps, and then welcomed Jerry and me, as she did also the Stevensons who had pulled up behind our car. We had been invited to dinner with our friends at the Johnny Hodges place!Image

We talked and talked, and of course someone was bound to mention that through the years our conversations had changed drastically, and we all smirked and nodded our heads as we agreed we no longer talk of Pablum, toddler doings or of teenage mischief, rather of blood pressure readings, sugar levels, slugs of Pepto-Bismol, and of walking canes.

“I call my cane a sympathy getter,” Jerry said.

“Mine steadies me,” Berl said.

“I don’t want one,” Johnny said.

“But you need one,” Nita said as she looked lovingly at her sweet, frail husband.

untitled (5 of 26)In the kitchen, she fried fish and shrimp. At the table Johnny prayed and we ate and ate, and after we rested awhile from our labors, we moved to the back patio area, and ate pie and drank coffee. We talked seriously of our love for God and for truth and of regression and of progress.

untitled (16 of 26)We three beauties posed. Jerry snapped the lens.

untitled (23 of 26) . . . and the men were little boys again . . . and roared.

Catch it if you can . . . the spirit of enduring friendship. Hold it if you’re able . . . the smooth feel of enduring friendship, the solidity, the heft. Hear it if you can . . . the music of enduring friendship, the moans of shared past griefs, the silvery tinkle of corporate accomplishments, the echoing words of message and song. See it if you can . . .the tombstones, the hospital records . . . and cry . . . and hold a hand and wipe a tear . . . and know how special, how rare, how blessed you are.

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Dinner with Friends

On Tuesday, I scurried about, prepped, set the food to cooking early, and then delved into the fun part as I set the table with the finest china and silver I own. Company was coming! A missionary couple neither Jerry or I had met would be joining our dear friends the Garretts for a meal in our home here in Crestline. The night before I had prepared the Texas Bites Jerry would grill as appetizers, and had rolled the pie crusts. Now I filled them; one chocolate, one lemon.

ImageThe Garretts had taken the Schreckhises on a little tour of Crestline, all the way around tiny Lake Gregory before they pulled into our driveway, walked up the front steps and through the open door said, “We’re here.”

Missionaries to Honduras, Brother and Sister Schreckhise are here in the States to raise money for their continued support for their vital work in that country. Baby Samuel, five months old, was the star of the evening. He eyed the food on mama’s plate, and I believe from one of her fingers, he sucked off a smidgen of gravy.


ImageSuch a joy to not only entertain long-time friends, but to make new ones.


ImageWe three women and Zac gathered about the piano upstairs and sang old hymns of the church, and I heard that Lori Schreckhise had a beautiful voice, and we sang longer, and sometimes we cried because God is so beautiful, and His people are so dear, and we are so blessed.

untitled (42 of 48). . . and Holly brought flowers . . .

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Mall Trip with Three Teenagers

The continuing saga of the teenage grandchildren’s visit took in a visit to Ontario Mills on Monday, a place that is touted as the largest single-story mall in the Western United States. It consists of a huge food court and 200 stores that cover 1,473,000 square feet! Right, you read that right: One million, four hundred and seventy-three thousand square feet! . . .Feet?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Did you say feet?

Maybe I should not have done this, but I had a terrible time restraining myself when we passed by this set of massage chairs. Later, as my own legs were yelping, I wished I could find these people and apologize–well, actually I wanted them to scoot over and share their place.

untitled (17 of 52)Before we actually entered the mall, just across the street, we took a quick duck into Tai Pan Trading. The boys weren’t too excited about prowling about a gigantic home decoration store, but they did fine, I believe, in entertaining themselves.

“Twenty minutes, that’s what we’re giving you, Granny,” Nathaniel ordered, and Gentry agreed.

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untitled (10 of 52)We shopped . . . and shopped . . . each trying to find the outfit they wanted, that fit, that was in Granny’s budget.

untitled (18 of 52)They laughed at belts that would almost reach around Gentry twice. Along the way we had picked up a couple of honorary grand-youngin’s that Patrick and Holly had dropped off.

untitled (45 of 52)Finally, many hours later, each of them had treasures in their hands, and we headed for the exit.

untitled (34 of 52)But one more thing: Those sweet youngsters gathered about me in that huge mall and as Rebecca operated the camera, they gave me a group hug! Love it!

Trekked all of them up to our home in Crestline, where we all fell out of the car totally exhausted. Even the youngsters complained of sore legs.

We prowled about the kitchen for food. The boys opened the Balderdash box and soon uproarious laughter came from the dining room. Pictures that will make you laugh are here.

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The Luminance of A Durable Friendship

Even though one of their characteristics is a certain ebb and flow, it is important to maintain them lest they be lost, for once completely unraveled, the knitting back into form may be difficult. Constraints of time and various responsibilities will push against their keeping.

From the relationship laughter will result. So will tears.

Jerry and I have been at this one–this friendship–for about 65 years. At least segments of our friendship with the Stevensons and the Hodges have been that long-lasting, for Jerry and Johnny Hodges met when they were still in high school. Our friendships are sterling, and on Friday they drove up from San Diego and spent the night with us.


untitled (3 of 26)Johnny lost his phone, so strong man Jerry tipped over the chair where Johnny had been sitting, and there underneath was the phone.

Nita wasn’t able to come as she had gone to northern California to visit with her sisters. To punish her we almost planned a dinner engagement at her house…but being the sweet friends we are, LaVelta and I had mercy on her and didn’t mark anything on our calendars.

I’m above tattling on anyone, (by name) but the two diabetics in the group refused the sugar-free ice cream and strawberries I had prepared, and licked up instead wide wedges of lemon meringue pie.

untitled (8 of 26)………………………….ย ย  Three Precious Croniesย ย  ………………………………..

Lavelta leaned toward me across the table where we lingered after breakfast on Saturday morning and said,

People like to be appreciated, don’t they?

untitled (9 of 26)………………………….Beautiful friends, the Stevensons……………………….

We talked into the night of our families, our churches, vitamins, and antibiotics. One of the diabetics injected the other with insulin. I grinned. We ate, and drank iced tea and pots of coffee and spoke of Boston and general conferences over the decades, and one rolled his eyes heavenward as he recounted the long waits on the other. Financial reports, board meetings, and the Mary Kay in St. Louis. Jerry and Berl argued about exactly where they were when Jerry prophesied about a certain sort of private matter. ๐Ÿ™‚ We talked about holy living and doctrine and motor homes, and about missing Brother Gray. Lavelta showed me pictures on her phone, and from a table I picked up a picture of Nathaniel and showed her how handsome he is, and I bragged about his goodness. Lavelta spoke with pride of the three Manzano children and how involved in the work of God they are. We talked of progress and of dangerous regression. We asked rhetorical questions and pontificated at length on answers.

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We spoke of strokes and of dishes and of souvenirs from our trip to the Philippines, and Berl played with magnets we had bought once on a trip to Silverton, Colorado. We spoke lovingly of Sam and Lil White and I reminded them that Sister Francis had recently celebrated her 100th birthday.

I recalled that from both these men who visited in our home I had heard profound preaching. . . . and I added in Jerry, and excuse me . . . you may want to tune out for a minute, but I knew I was sitting in the presence of three holy exceptional men.

Johnny slept late, and as Stevensons and Jerry and I lingered over breakfast, Berl picked up my Bible which lay close and prepared to read Ephesians 4:32. “This is my life goal now,” he said. “This is how I want to be.” “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

I lined them up on the deck for one last picture. We had prayed inside, our hands joined.

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Roll Out the Pumpkin Rolls

One of the joys of Christmas–at least for me, and I suspect for many people–is that of cooking great food, and especially so if there is a big group of loved ones together in the kitchen who join in the peeling, chopping, untitled (3 of 12)stirring and baking. That’s the best way of Christmas cooking, even when it involves cookies that disappear as fast as they are taken from the oven. The second best way of cooking for Christmas is to do it alone, but in glorious anticipation of sharing with friends and family. I’ve been doing a lot of that latter kind lately, and my freezer is full of cookie dough of four different varieties, fudge, and date bars. On Thursday, I rolled out pumpkin rolls. Jerry doesn’t like to lick the beaters or the spoons, and there were no grandkids about, so I was forced into my own lickings. Not a difficult challenge.

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I prepared five of them and while they were cooling, I did this: Our weather has been frigid, with snow still on the ground. I stuck my feet into a pair of boots, pulled on a heavy jacket, and grabbed up a butcher knife. I went out the back slider, onto the deck, and into the back yard, where at the edge is a row of towering cedar trees. I reached high, pulled down a lower branch, and with my butcher knife sawed off a couple of green boughs. Back inside the house, I gathered up ribbons, paper, ornaments, and along with the cedar cuttings, I prepared five beautiful pumpkin roll packages. Yesterday, we drove to San Diego and gave them all away.

We knocked at each place and had four wonderful visits. We found our dear ones of the fifth house to be not at home–we had not called them–so by the front door, on a chair, we left their gift. On a little card I had taken with me, I wrote: With love, From Santa.

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One more thing. Are we not blessed people? Abundantly blessed to have a little bit of flour, a few eggs, and a can or two of pumpkin so that we not only have provisions for ourselves, but have excess so that we can wrap up some of our love and pass it around to a few who are dear to us.

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Of Old Age and the Garretts

For some time now–considering that I am 74 and Jerry is 80–I have grappled with the thought that the designation of old age can be appropriately applied to me. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I say grappled, seeing that the word denotes a bit of a struggle, for that understanding is not of gossamer threads floating in the breeze, nor of magic golden-light to which one naturally gravitates. Nope. Not compelling at all. Rankles a bit, the thought of sticking me in there with those little ole ladies who smell of moth balls and liniment and face powder, coupled with the shriveled-up sweet (or ornery) old men who hang about on walking sticks and who sit on benches in their little groups and rehash the same ole stories. You know the tales; those whose genesis lies far back in the day when the stooped little men were dashing young rascals and the darling maidens were swooning at their feet.

Nope, old age is not a desirable destination–well, except for the cliched line that goes like something this: Considering the alternative, old age is rather cool. Agree there.

Now, to the thrust of this post which is not precisely about old people, but rather about younger people and how neat it is when the young and the middle ones and the agey (no such word as agey, they say, but I’m using it anyway, for that is one advantage of being old–people kind of get out of your way and let you do what you will, anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) all lump up together. Something to be said, I suppose, for youth groups, and singles groups, and old marrieds and young marrieds, and single moms and single dads, and widows and widowers, and over the hill gangs and moms with toddlers, and those who wear purple hats, or those who eat pork chops, or not. Such as that–get it? But I find it distinctly cool to hunker down with a rank that might include a baby or three crawling around on the floor, giggling teen-age girls and supposedly disinterested boys, a couple fresh from their honeymoon, a mid-life mother and father, frazzled beyond words, an adoring nine-year-old with a checker board, a smattering of pappys in their Lazy Boys and a granny or two bossing around the whole mess.

I know, I know, rather smart that way, for I understand that it is those who, as I, look from this far wrinkled edge of life who may find such a conglomeration more appealing than do those who look from the bud of the other edge, or from the middle. I get it, for didn’t I say myself that I’m not overly fond of being plunked down in the midst of bent little ladies, and our ole cronies of the male variety, but find myself sneaking out and trying to wrangle an invitation to the youth group’s Praise on the Mountain.

Which, at last, brings me to the actual crux of this post: My friends the Patrick Garrett family hang with us, and they pretend to like it! We eat meals together and worship, and make secret plans, and they invited Jerry and me to attend Patrick’s graduation ceremony up here at Twin Peaks and we watched them badge him as a Sheriff’s Department Chaplain. And they posed and let me play photographer on the banks of Lake Gregory and in that cool spot down Dart canyon.

I’m not going to ramble on about what their friendship means to me, for you, my readers, are smart. You understand. You know that’s what all these words are about today. You know they’re directed to you, also, to thank you . . . and to make you think.

Don’t tell Holly and Patrick, but when I know they’re coming, I hide my liniment bottle.

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30th Pastoral Anniversary Part 2

The 30th pastoral anniversary of Bro. Gordon Richardson in Manteca was excellent in every way.

Bro. Berl Stevenson of El Cajon, CA., former pastor of Bro. Richardson, spoke on both Saturday and Sunday.

Bro. Gerald Buxton of Crestline, CA. was the preacher on Sunday morning. When Brother Richardson was a teenager, for a short time Brother Buxton was his Sunday school teacher. Hmm…hope he’s doesn’t tell too many stories, I’m sure Brother Richardson was thinking.

Friends! Stevensons, Buxtons, and Richardsons after Sunday morning service.

Sunday evening, Brother Don O’Keefe of Antioch, CA. was the preacher.

The pastor’s wives all spoke briefly on Sunday night. First was Lavelta Stevenson. (On Saturday afternoon, there were many more ministers and minister’s wives at that service.)

Next was Abigail O’Keefe.

Sandi Richardson was last, giving beautiful words of honor to all ministers present, and especially to her husband.

Again, I offer my congratulations to this wonderful couple who have done a tremendous job of building a church in Manteca.

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Pastor Gordon Richardson 30th Pastoral Anniversary

Congratulations to my friends the Richardsons who this weekend are celebrating 30 years of pastoring here in Manteca, CA. Yesterday’s afternoon service was splendid. A great number of ministers came to join in the celebration.

In addition to other things, their church presented them with an Alaskan cruise.

Tremendous preaching by Pastor Curtis Young.

Beautiful singing by Rev. Garza: Thank You for Giving to the Lord.

Nothing much better than friends praying for each other.

Services continue today: 10:00 this morning 7:00 this evening.