For Memorial

Three of my four children, along with some of their families, came to our home–Jerry’s and mine–during the Memorial Day Weekend. We had a fabulous time.

DSC_7240

On Friday afternoon Andrew and his clan fought such traffic from San Diego that the typical two-hour or so drive took more than four. Rebecca, Nathaniel, Michael, and Melina made it in on Saturday. Jerry had smoked a turkey on Thursday–best turkey I ever tasted–then on Saturday spent most of the day tending his smoker and grill so that when we sat down for our evening meal we were treated to exceptional ribs and juicy steaks. The kids brought food, Jerry tended the grill, and I cooked some things. We feasted.

But the best part was not the steaks, nor–to be honest– the flags, neither the bunting, or the chocolate cake or Bek’s special oatmeal cookies. The best part was time. There was time to reflect and talk about the meaning of the flags and of Memorial Day itself. Our children gave us, and each other, the gift of time. Time to talk, to laugh, to reminisce. Time to speak of plans, of failures, of successes, of God, of our babies growing now into adults, of death of parents and other loved ones . . .of life.

DSC_7161Those who follow my blog know I am an amateur photographer, although pretty serious about it. However, in these family gatherings at my home I get so caught up in other things that I take very few pictures, then later I’m sad at the dearth of images that are mine. Andrew snapped this one of Mike and me a short while before Mike and Melina left . . .

DSC_7175. . .and on the front deck I preserved this image of Andrew and Shauna. Little more.

Time included us piling into cars and plying the roads, streets and lanes of Crestline and its neighbors for the annual Memorial Day Mountain-Wide Garage Sales. We all scored.

DSC_7247 This antique game bird collectors plate is Bavarian, and is one of five I bought for the grand price of $3.00. Not each. For all! (Told you we scored.) Along the side of the road as we meandered about was a box with free items in it. I was riding with Gentry when I wondered what it might be.

“Do you want it, Granny?”

“Yes.”

Brady jumped out, and popped the box and its contents into the trunk beside our other treasures. Turned out to be a George Foreman large grill with interchangeable plates–about $100.00 new someone said when they checked the internet . . .and so we had waffles from our found treasure. Had waffles on Sunday evening, and they were so delicious we ate such fare again on Monday morning before everyone left.

The highlight of the weekend was Sunday morning when three Buxton families worshipped at a nearby church. As we stood together in the altar area near the end of the service, I was happy for this time, for this Memorial Day weekend.  Thankful.

At the lodge by the lake, by myself on Monday morning at 11:00 I attended a service honoring those who have fallen, who have given their lives. Stories wafted through the air, as did films, and other presentations. Veterans marched with guns, flags were posted and presented. Tears glistened in the eyes of a hundred or so people as we watched and as we listened. We stood and sang God Bless America, then the poignant, unmatchable tones of Taps sounded through the room, and the time was over.

DSC_7213I walked a short distance on Lake Gregory shoreline yesterday, and as I rounded a corner near this log, I saw two turtles. One of them eyed me, so I sat down on a likely spot and communed with the critters for 20 minutes or so. They move slowly, do turtles, deliberately and with no appearance of haste. They have time. So did I.

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.

DSC_7117

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

DSC_7099

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?

Reflections on Mother’s Day 2015

The days leading up to Mother’s Day had found me the recipient of flower deliveries, cards, phone calls, and gifts. On Saturday Jerry said he needed to go somewhere, and when he returned he had in his hands a small azalea plant of the most pleasant pink hue, along with a very touching card. No doubt one of the reasons my children are so good to honor me is because their dad set the bar high throughout their growing-up years. Thoughtful. Never misses an anniversary, and sometimes for no reason, he may pop out into the yard and bring in a rose he has snipped from one of our plants.

20150508-untitled (64 of 69)

None of the children were able to actually visit in our home for the special day, but we had made plans with Rebecca. Sunday morning we drove by her house, dropped off Winston, then drove on to Inland Lighthouse Center in Rialto where with her we worshipped. Before we entered the sanctuary, though, Jerry snapped a few pictures of the two mommies!

20150510-untitled (7 of 43)The greeting of many friends always makes it such a pleasure to visit the church that Jerry formerly pastored. Multitudes of glorious memories. A great church.

After the service as we continued to visit, Rebecca hurried home to finish preparing our meal.

20150510-untitled (20 of 43)She had set a beautiful table with her fine platinum rimmed china. A pasta/sausage dish was the entree, the salad was fresh and delicious, and. . .and. . .these scrumptious cheese biscuits. I watched her scoop out the dough and stick them in the oven. I probably shouldn’t confess, but I ate two of them, and they weren’t small!

20150510-untitled (24 of 43)More gifts, sweet talk, lingering.

20150510-untitled (38 of 43)Rebecca let us read the hilarious card Nathaniel had given her. We watched on his phone a video of his preaching a few nights before at Bakersfield. So very exciting.

20150510-untitled (14 of 43)Treats drawn from his pockets sent the dogs running to Master.

20150511-untitled (4 of 4)Back home. Early evening. I gathered my gifts and cards, pulled out a dining chair, sat down, looked at them, and reread them. I thought of each of my three sons, and of my one daughter. I recalled their births, their childhoods, their escapades, their accomplishments, their disappointments, their strengths, their challenges. I wept for love.

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.”

20141129-untitled (107 of 117) 20141129-untitled (98 of 117)

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.

20141213-untitled (90 of 119) 20141213-untitled (95 of 119)

20141213-untitled (99 of 119) 20141213-untitled (102 of 119)

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.

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!

Labor Day Escapades

I suspect few people actually consider the significance of the holiday we celebrated last Monday; I’m among the sorry group, although I did labor a bit, but mostly I meandered through the day with the subject of labor being quite removed from my mind.

Here in this area of the San Bernardinos, it is customary on Memorial Day weekend–and to a lesser extent on Labor Day weekend–for us inhabitants to engage in mountain-wide garage sales. Well, I invest in the customer side of the garage sales, for although we’re into our 13th year here in Crestline, the Buxton household has not once indulged in dragging our excess belongings to the driveway, arranging them on tables, and erecting a SALE sign. Nope, I gather up dollars, rev up our Jeep engine and tear down the streets following the poster board neon orange signs and the dream of finding a bargain or two, or perhaps even a treasure that calls to be ensconced somewhere in our domicile.

“I’ll be up around 8:30,” Rebecca had told me. While I waited for her to arrive, I baked a chocolate pie–her favorite–boiled potatoes in their skinny jackets, then chopped, and mustarded and mayonnaised until I had thrown together a great potato salad. Rebecca brought fresh corn and Jerry and Nathaniel whipped up to Stater’s for the ribs, which he labored over for several hours, utilizing a little smoker column Patrick had given him sometime back.

untitled (31 of 37)Rebecca is good for me; she’s of a slower, more deliberate nature–compliments of her Buxton genes–while I tend to tear around, flapping my wings and rushing about to get on to the next stop or the next project or the next event. We probably spent 30 minutes at the first sale site and had it not been for her I would have already been scouting out the next place. . . and would have missed the sweet, slow visit with the fine people who have a tiny shop featuring rocks, gems, and antiques on Alder Road in Crestline. They had popped up an outdoor tent featuring many items from their store, along with tables of clothes and miscellaneous items, including beautiful old bottles, some with rusted caps, and antique glass turned amethyst from the interaction of chemicals and sunlight.

untitled (27 of 37)“My name’s Pam,” said the female segment of the couple who owns the place, and before we left Rebecca had arranged to take a young boy she teaches up to a little class with Pam. Sweetest lady.

untitled (28 of 37)“May I take your picture?” I asked as I watched him wiring crystal droplets.

untitled (23 of 37)We moved on, did Rebecca and I on Labor Day, and I bought a couple of things, as did she, then on our way back to the house, she wanted to stop and look at a lawnmower she had seen when we first started out, and it seemed like a good deal, but she wasn’t sure, so she told the man, “I’ll send down my son and my dad to check it out,” and Jerry and Nathaniel drove to the place and for $60.00 bought a fine Craftsman power lawn mower, loaded it into our Jeep, then transferred it to their car when it was time for them to leave.

Oh yes! the meal. Turned out great, except after we had arranged the table on the back deck and were setting out the meat, here came the meat-eating bees, and because we didn’t want to fight with them, we gathered up and sat ourselves down in the dining room where we tore into the ribs. Delicious, smoky, succulent. “I’ll bring you one,” Rebecca had called over the front deck railing to Nancy across the street, and because they hadn’t yet cooked the chicken they had planned and we had extra ribs and everything else, we packed up the food and shared with our neighbors.

untitled (36 of 37)See this beautiful jacket. ALL CLOTHES $1.00 said the sign at Pam’s garage sale. “These jackets are probably not included in that, are they,” I asked her. “Yes,” she replied. “All a dollar.”

I’ve been wanting a brown leather jacket, this one fits me perfectly, is adorable, and cost one dollar! The bargain of the day. It is missing the front button, but I will buy a beautiful button somewhere . . . that will not match the sleeve buttons . . . but will be beautiful anyway. When you see me wear it, don’t mention the mismatch! Well, since I have already revealed the slight fault, I guess you might as well go ahead and finger the front button on the buttery leather jacket and then lift the sleeves and note the mismatch. Promise to smile.

Jerry’s Birthday

untitled (15 of 16)

Because he has been so sick–housebound for four weeks, except for our trips to the doctor–we knew the celebration of Jerry’s birth today would be a simple one. We hadn’t heard that any of the children would be able to be here . . when on Monday as I returned from the post office, Jerry handed me his phone. Steve was on the line, and within the hour he and Dearrah would be coming to visit, and would spend the night!

As I scurried about the kitchen and had decided to cook a ham that was in my refrigerator, Steve called again. “Don’t worry about food. We’re bringing steaks.” Within a couple of hours he and Dearrah had arrived as had also Rebecca and Nathaniel, as had also 6 untitled (2 of 16)of the thickest steaks I ever saw, cards, and a huge cake. We had a feast. Steve and Nathaniel cleared off the back deck grill where it had recently been covered with snow, Steve prepped the steaks, then grilled them, Rebecca peeled potatoes, Dearrah set the table, I made a salad and soon we sat down to feast.untitled (3 of 16)

Rebecca taped her gift onto the lamp where Jerry sat so he could be encouraged.untitled (7 of 16)

Jerry was so touched by the surprise celebration he was crying. It was a wonderful visit. Rebecca and Nate stayed until around 9:00 in the evening, untitled (8 of 16)and Steve and Dearrah didn’t go home until 2:00 this afternoon. While Christmas and Thanksgiving family gatherings are wonderful, we cook and clean and feel such pressure, not always do we get to just enjoy each others presence. There is something precious about quiet hours of talking and remembering with no rushing about, no pressure: Priceless, unforgettable moments. Those are the kinds of hours untitled (12 of 16)we spent today. Simple food, toast, a bowl of cereal, a bite of cold steak, a sliver of cake. Nothing pressed us, except our love and affection for each other.

And then Steve prayed for his dad. Dearrah and I joined, and then they were gone.

untitled (9 of 16)

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.

untitled (4 of 12)

untitled (6 of 12)

untitled (7 of 12)

untitled (8 of 12)

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.

untitled (11 of 12)

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.

untitled (1 of 1)

She Can’t Swallow

“She has suffered a severe stroke and can no longer swallow.”

Can’t swallow? I thought. Gave the notion some time, and considered such a disability and its awfulness. Suction tubes. Dependence. Embarrassment.

Can’t swallow anymore.

I don’t believe I know this person, for she is a facebook friend of a friend sort of thing, but I was stricken when I read of her.

Here it is the Christmas season. We’re planning and cooking and wrapping gifts and hanging twinkle lights. We drink untitled (28 of 34)eggnog and write on cards and wait in line at the post office to buy stamps whose style we have selected from a poster the clerk  indicated, and that way we get to decide whether to buy Santa Claus or the baby Jesus or something in between.

We writers do the writerly things of edits and proposals and agent chasing and dreams of bestseller lists and the scribbling of another draft and wrestling with fears of rejection, or an even untitled (34 of 34)worse agitation, perhaps, when we think of the resounding thump of no response, for have they not said on their site, “If you haven’t heard in 4 to 6 weeks, consider . . . ”

We photographers talk of light and settings and film and digits and lenses and focus and software and how much post-processing is okay.

And well we should do these things for life must continue.

Yet, someone has said, “She had a severe stroke and cannot swallow.

And so I say a prayer and my heart aches.

untitled (25 of 34)

Eden, a Lily, and the Manger

That I would notice is proof of creation and of Eden and of the sixth day. That I would question Holly as to the classification of the flower, and that I would even think to do so, is proof that God made me quite a different creation from that of a dog or an elephant or a monkey. For which of those animals give any indication of caring about Holly’s tiny, neglected (so she told me) plant?

That I would lift my camera, focus with care, and process such an image tells of God and of how He made me. Biological evolution, you say? Creatures squirming from the sea, ascending then into trees, evolving into chattering monkeys, and then into me? You say? You think?

Been around any photography stores lately? Did perchance you see a monkey or a dog customer? Even one–just one– orangutan peering around the corner, or through the show glass just a bit reluctant to walk up to the counter and inquire about cameras and settings and price?

That I would see the tiny flower, that I would note its struggle for existence, (for it is as small as a paper clip), and that I would detect its pressing to unfold from its confining sheath, and that I would process its image is of God. The eternal, omnipotent, all-wise One. The One who somehow was born of a woman and laid in a manger of Bethlehem.

untitled (5 of 237)