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America California Christianity/Religion Church Crestline Culture Family Food God Home Lake Gregory Life Photography San Bernardino Mountains seasons Weather/Nature Winter

Another Foggy Sunday

Our home sets at an altitude of nearly 5000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California with winters that are typically mild with only three or four significant snows in a season. Around 40 inches of rain fall during an average year. This has not been a typical year. We’re at 60 inches, and the winter–which season I generally love– hatefully drags on, as persistent as the ring of robocalls. The fog–since first light to this hour of early evening–has been as thick as cowboy coffee, and the thermometer hanging just outside my kitchen window refuses to stretch to the 40 degree mark. Within the last hour I saw a report of tornados touching down in central California, an extremely unusual situation.

So, for the second Sunday in a row, we did not go to church. We just don’t do fog. Last Sunday on my Facebook account I mentioned what a blessing internet live-streaming of church services is to Jerry and me, and how it provides the opportunity of being with groups of people all over the United States as they worship God. First thing this morning we went to church in Indianapolis with Pastor Mooney, then to Alexandria, La. with Pastor Mangun. We watched both Brother and Sister Larson minister in San Diego, then this afternoon Cherie Wilkins texted me a link to her church in Texas, pastored by Brother and Sister Tuttle.

Because we couldn’t go to regular church, we ate. Splurged. Indulged.

Sorghum Molasses

We’re now a bit on the lethargic side.

We’re warm and cozy.

Weather forecast: Rain all night. Possible snow from 1 to 3 am. Rain all day tomorrow.

Hmm. . .wonder what I can whip up!

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California Children Crestline Flowers/Gardening Friends grandparents Home Life mercy Photography San Bernardino Mountains seasons Spring Weather/Nature

Of Daffodils and Forgiveness

My camera has been in the shop, the weather has been the wintery kind that lectures people with bodies a bit on the agey side such as mine to stay indoors, and I’ve been busy with the wrap-up of Dream Shards. Such are the reasons I have not taken many pictures lately, and why my photography fingers have been itchy. (NEW SUBJECT stuck right here in the middle of this paragraph: I’ve decided to take up word invention. Consider the word right there in the third line–agey. My dictionaries indicate there is no such word, while my common–or inventive–sense tells me there should be. Aged is available–a regular, ole word, but that just does not have the right sound–or look. So, agey it will remain, at least here on my column, although my smarty-pants dictionary built into my Mac snarks a red line every time I type the word!) Anyway, I got my camera back, tugged cleated boots onto my feet, slipped my hands into warm gloves, plopped a fuzzy cap atop my head, and set out.

The grey birdbath aligned by the side of these daffodils is filled with water that through the weeks of this long winter has alternated between a state of frozen slab and of liquid thin enough that the occasional bird has dipped its head, and taken a drink. At the slender feet of these magnificent flowers is a spread of white, a remnant of the record-breaking snow and rainfall we have experienced here in the San Bernardino Forest this year.

We have planted bulbs since we moved here, adding to the number that pushed through the earth and revealed themselves the first spring we lived here in Crestline. When the daffodils are in full bloom, as they are now, they sketch a golden swath of color across our front bank, truly magnificent.

Ken and Nancy, who live across the street are the best neighbors anyone could have. Three of their grandchildren are visiting now, and a couple of days ago they came onto our front deck. “What’s up, kids?” I asked them

Jake, the eldest, handed me an envelope, even as he was chattering away. “We’re sorry . . .about the flowers.”

Krista is a beautiful little girl with long black hair. Six years old, I think. Her face wore fright and sincere sorrow. She said nothing.

I opened the envelope and read the notes.


They’re allowed to play in our yard, and in the neighbors to our right, for their grandparent’s property has little flat ground. It seems they had started up a little business; selling daffodils to each other. Our daffodils, and Kerry’s who lives two houses away.

I told them it was okay, and that I knew they wouldn’t do it again. I really can’t even tell any of the flowers are missing. “Kerry thought it was a really bad thing,” Jake said in a defensive, little bit arrogant way.

A couple of days after this happened, as Jerry and I were walking back from the woods, I looked intently at Kerry’s yard. They have no daffodils. Every single flower is gone.

But Krista’s letter. Did you notice it? At the bottom, I believe she said, “Do you forgive me?”

I do. I hope Kerry does.

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Christianity/Religion Christmas Culture Food God Goodness of man Home Life love Pentecostal Photography Weather/Nature

The High Road of Humility

During the exceptional funeral of the late George H. W. Bush, our 41st president, former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson in his droll way said, “Those that travel the high road of humility in Washington are not bothered by heavy traffic.” In my living room, I smiled and considered the heavy truth of the matter.

While I never had the pleasure of meeting President Bush, and while I am not familiar with the little traveled high road of humility in Washington, I am well acquainted with an exceptional couple who traipse about on a similar road here in California. Pastor Patrick Garrett and his wife, Holly, are the leaders of an Apostolic church in Yucaipa, CA.  I’m overcoming my lack of fondness for cliches, when I say to you, “They walk the talk.”

The combination of very cold weather, and our decreasing wood stack which our son Steve heavily contributed to a few months ago, prompted a conversation between Jerry and Pastor Garrett. “I”m bringing you wood, buying it, . . .and  some young men are coming with me to stack it on the deck for you.” The response to Jerry’s insistence that he pay the young men for their efforts was, “No, I checked with them, and they will not accept any pay.”

On Saturday morning, here they came; nine strong, willing, young men, along with their pastor and his wife; exceptional Christians, people with the true love of Jesus Christ emanating from them.

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Pastor Garrett did not find that truck load of mixed hard wood sufficient for us, so after the first was unloaded and stacked on our deck, he pulled his truck out of our driveway and drove back to Yucaipa for another load–close to an hour’s drive.

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I was astonished to see and hear what those young men did next. While their pastor was gone, they took it on themselves–in 40 degree weather–to tackle yard work around our place. As though it were a spring cleanup, they grabbed rakes, hammers, trash bags, and blowers. Cleaned our property until it was spotless. They hosed decks, folded tarps, repaired wall hangings, swept under the front deck, reorganized containers, and from time to time asked, “Is there something else we can do?” My jaw had dropped.

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During the original discussion Jerry told Pastor Garrett we would cook up something for the workers, so on Friday evening around 7:00 Jerry fired up his smoker and for 14 or 15 hours he smoked to perfection a Farmer John Pork Shoulder. from which then he deboned the meat and formed delicious pulled pork sandwiches. I whipped up cole slaw, a huge pot of pinto beans with ham hocks, and crusty corn bread baked in iron skillets. Holly brought desserts . . .and we had a feast.

dsc_0863.jpgOnce while I was in the kitchen one of the young men came to me, so thoughtful and thankful. So sweet, so very sweet. “The table looks like it is for rich people.” His deep brown eyes stared into mine.

“It is for rich people, Caleb.” And then I expressed to him that people with principles and spirits such as this group possessed were rich; indeed they are the richest people on earth. In honor of these rare and treasured people I had set the table with shiny red porcelain plates. and their red and green cloth napkins were held by festive Christmas napkin rings.

IMG_1581Our ears ring daily with horrific tales of disgusting, dishonorable, evil activities. But there are others. Among the few who conscientiously tread the high road of humility and of true godliness are Pastor Patrick Garrett, his wife, Holly, and a number of glowing, exceptional young men.

Just before they left our home, I again thanked Pastor Garrett. “You are a true Christian.” As is his way, he bowed his head, and wept.

I continued. “And following behind you in a steady tramp is an impressive row of young Christians–just like you.”

When President George H. W. Bush removed his coat to warm a cold usher at church one Sunday morning, I was not there. When he wrote personal notes to scores of people, including some I know, I was not there. When he adorned our White House with exceptional ethics and grace I was not there. But recently, and often, it is my distinct favor to mingle with a godly couple and with an expanding flock of beautiful people who contribute to the beauty of this world as they walk the high road toward Heaven. Jerry and I are beneficiaries.

(Sad PS. That is either Gabriel or Joseph whose head I neatly sliced. My sincere apology!)

 

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Culture family celebrations Food Holidays Home Humor Life Photography

Cinnamon Roll Saga

How is it that sugary goo tangled arm-in-arm with sunshiny-yellow butter morphs into a creation that snaps our tastebuds into smiling salute, but at the same moment prompts our doctors to caution, “Watch it now, Easy does it.”? Ah, life. Incredibly wonderful, yet patently unfair as regards the consumption of such things that at their origin told of golden-grain fields, herds of glossy girl cows, cackling hens, and not to forget the standing forest of trees whose bark yields the aromatic twirled spice that is basic to a notable cinnamon roll.

DSC_0347For some time now I have observed the practice of foregoing the creation of these and similarly cautionary delectables until Jerry and I have company . . .or some analogous festive occasion that might beg for such formation. Through the years I have tweaked recipes until I have settled on a basic yeast roll, and in so doing, have wondered if said dough could serve as foundation for a master cinnamon roll. The problem lay in the fact that while reserving such for guests, I also have an aversion to test-driving on company. (What’s a girl to do?) So, a couple of days before Independence Day I announced to a few persons of interest that on that day–this special holiday–I would conduct a cinnamon roll test-run. Perfect!

DSC_0352DSC_0353About mid-morning Rebecca called saying her earlier plans had dissolved, and she’d be up for a visit. I smiled, told her of the cinnamon roll experiment, and what time we would be eating.

“I’ll be up to help you judge, Mom.”

I had told Jerry we would have one for breakfast, but although I was up at 5:30 to get them started, things happened, and we wound up eating a regular breakfast, holding the thought that the rolls would be great for a coffee break. Or dessert for our big meal if worse came to worse.

DSC_0355We would eat at 3:00. Jerry grilled brats. I fried potatoes, made a salad, and Rebecca put together a green bean casserole, using Mozzarella I had in the fridge instead of the Swiss she needed. Saved a market run.

We dined on the back deck, and well before we had cleared the table after eating the tasty food, I announced there would be no interval between dinner and dessert. Too eager. We made coffee, I plated the huge rolls, and carried them out. They were soft and gooey. . . And! perfect.

DSC_0358DSC_0359DSC_0364Rebecca decided against taking any home with her. I wrapped two, placed them in the freezer, and placed one on a dish, covered it with a glass dome and placed it inside the oven.  Should stay fresh like that and Jerry would have it the next day for a snack, I was sure.

DSC_0371I believe it was around  8:00  in the evening when I detected movement in the kitchen, and as I watched a gentleman moved from said area, a well-filled plate in his hand. Jerry grinned.

“Where did you get that cinnamon roll?” I asked.

“In the freezer.”

Well, here we are on July 5th, and this nice cinnamon roll  I saved for Jerry is still available. I suspect in a couple of hours, though, that it will not remain in such fine form; rather it will have become a sweet, gooey memory, and its origin of flora and fauna will be a forgotten speck of the ages.

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America Arizona boating Culture dogs Family affection Home Lake Havasu Photography Travel Weather/Nature

Trip to Lake Havasu

“We’ll be there between 5 and 6,” I had told Michael earlier in the day.

“So you’ll be here for dinner. Good.”

Jerry had a late-morning eye exam in Redlands; just before noon he was finished and we pulled onto the 10 freeway heading to Arizona. A heatwave had clamped down around us, so we knew it would be hot in Lake Havasu. It was. When we drove into the city limits, our sleek new car registered the outside temperature as 118. At Mike and Melina’s home we greeted each other, finding it impossible to avoid the usual jokes about the heat, including the line, “See we don’t need our jackets today.”

What a great time we had those days last week visiting with our son and his dear wife. We ate at home. We ate in restaurants. We talked. We played. We went to church. We discussed serious matters. We laughed. We discussed death, and  we talked of Kelly’s baby who will be born in December. Once when we were looking at something he owned, I said to Michael, “You’re a blessed man.”

“Yes, I am, Mom. Far more than I ever expected.”

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Melina’s dad Ralph lives across the street, and he and Michael recently flew to Colorado where he bought a red hot rod. We all tootled around in his garages admiring his toys.

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He’s working on that old Winnie which Mike says he probably will never take out of the driveway.

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We indulged in a fair amount of this.

DSC_0005On Saturday evening Mike helped us onto his beautiful vessel, and we boated 30 miles or so down the Colorado river to Havasu Springs where we had dinner. It was truly a delightful time. The burning heat yielded to the cool of the water as we roared over its surface. The sky lay clear against the mountains that rose in the distance.

“About 35 miles an hour,” Michael answered when someone asked how fast we were going.

DSC_0035Mike and Melina.

DSC_9986Gorgeous loves being on the boat. She is a rescue dog that could not be more lovable.DSC_0054Arizona boasts magnificent sunsets. Added to the beauty of the evening as we headed back to Lake Havasu was this giant orange ball, that as we watched, sank behind the Whipple Mountain Range. Amazing. Truly.

DSC_0072.jpgMichael was up and out of the house by 5:30 on Monday morning. The plan was that at 9:00 we would meet him at Rusty’s Cafe for a final meal before we headed home. I saw Melina scurrying around in the kitchen, and when we prepared to tell her good-bye, she handed over this bag loaded with food. “Don’t want you to get hungry on the way home”

It was filled with fruit, cheese, pecans, fried chicken, fat cookies, and icy drinks. Ate some of the snacks on the way home, and saved the fried chicken for dinner that night. What a family God has blessed us with. What a life.

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Children Christianity/Religion Crestline Family affection family celebrations Food Home Mom's love Photography

Buxton Family Days

Some of you may recall that Jerry and I have four children, all grown now, of course, and you probably also have heard me tell of their excellence, their upright and godly ways, and that I am extremely proud of them. You may or may not, though, have heard me express how difficult it is to get them here to visit their mama and daddy all at the same time, and how that distresses me.  Now I know how busy each of them is, especially the three sons. (Our only daughter Rebecca lives alone and has more free time than anyone else in the family.) Steve, the eldest, pastors a thriving church of a few hundred persons in Chula Vista, CA. In addition to that, he is in charge of several churches in the Philippines, to which country he flies several times a year. He also makes other trips throughout the year–both in our country, and abroad. Our second son Michael is also incredibly busy. He is the founder of Buxton Drywall in Lake Havasu, and in addition he manages a construction retail store in Lake Havasu, and for awhile managed (maybe still does) one in Kingman, AZ. Andrew, my youngest, has five children, all still at home, works “9-5” in construction and sales, and is on the ministerial staff of The Anchor, a United Pentecostal Church, in San Diego.

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They’re busy. I get it. But we all have the same amount of time–24 hours each day, and we get to choose how we fill those hours. And I had decided I wanted them to be here with their parents for a fair chunk of hours, and all at the same time. So, this MAMA took things in hand, and around Memorial Day placed a call to each of them.

“Labor Day weekend. Check your calendars. Do you have anything planned?”

No one did, except Michael, and he sweetly said he would change those plans.

This past Friday and Saturday seventeen of our family converged on our home bearing food, smiles, and tremendous attitudes. Children, grandchildren, and great-grands made up the splendid group.

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DSC_8210DSC_8238We laughed, and ate, and ate, and washed dishes, and washed dishes, and washed dishes, and romped, and were funny, and had serious discussions, and took pictures, and collapsed, and ate . . .

I tell you that last Saturday was one of the happiest days of my life.

. . .and in this way the glorious Buxton Family Days of 2017 came to an end. How rich, how very rich, I am.

FullSizeRenderThis annual affair will convene next on Labor Day weekend 2018. All you Buxton and Forrest family members are welcome–actually your presence is coveted!

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California Crestline Culture Family time Flowers/Gardening Home Photography San Bernardino Mountains Shih Tzus Weather/Nature

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.

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Crestline Culture fall Home Life My Home Photography San Bernardino Mountains Social Weather/Nature

A Day of Beauty

A couple of errands I needed to run led me traipsing about the majestic San Bernardino Mountains today, in particular through Crestline and Blue Jay, then into Lake Arrowhead. The weather was perfect; azure skies against which now are flung golden leaves and red and scarlet.

dsc_4633dsc_4638Along the roadway I traveled, a rusted truck stays parked. Today I noted a person near the pumpkins that were in the back of the truck, so I pulled in beside it to say a friendly hello to my fellow mountaineer. As I drew closer I was surprised to see other “persons” in the truck cab. They were of a friendly nature and didn’t seem to mind my snapping a few shots.

dsc_4628dsc_4630A splendid cabin set nearby, and once a young man walked close to me, and asked if I needed help. “No, just taking a few pictures. Thank you,” I replied.

“Have a good day, Ma’am.” He grinned and returned to his work.

Within a couple of hours I was home again. I’m quite interested in our world, try to stay abreast of what’s going on around me, and of course current news reports are jammed with accounts of our election progress. No one asked me, but I’ll tell you anyway; the whole thing is a mess. I’m sad at the depths to which our glorious country has fallen.

So . . .tonight I checked out of all that. Jerry built a roaring fire from eucalyptus wood our son Steve brought to us a few weeks ago. Indeed, it is glorious. The perfect ending to a beautiful day.

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Culture Family Home Life Photography

Day 4 of 16 with the Grands *Pay Jobs*

Being the organized slavedriver that I am, when the youngsters are here to visit they are all assigned chores, and I give them no money for tackling these little jobs. Not too many; just enough to help train them to pull their own weight. These chores include taking their dishes from each meal to the sink, taking care of their own rooms, making their beds, putting dirty laundry on the washer, and putting up their clean clothes after I wash them. At various times I add other little jobs that take just a few minutes after they have done their school work each morning.

Sometimes I pay, though, and Thursday was such a day. Eight dollars an hour were the wages for the boys; five dollars for Ella. They worked hard and deserve every bit of money I have paid (and in Ella’s case, will pay). One of our basement rooms was the object of our furious overhaul, and as I sorted and judged, they carried out items and/or stacked them neatly on shelves. We have hundreds of books displayed inside our home, and in this basement room we had boxes of others that we had considered discarding, but just could not take the step to do so. Now was the time. I refused myself the luxury of poking through these boxes, for I knew I would grieve at letting go of some of them, although Jerry checked through them after the boys had carried them out to be discarded. (I confess right now to have snatched from destruction  three books that were on the top of one of the boxes, and which now are lounging on a table in our bedroom.)

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Brady wagged in a shop vacuum to take care of messy housekeeping by some of our vagrant mice families.

dsc_4510I can’t sew a stitch and don’t even own a working sewing machine, so it is quite strange that once upon a time I fell in love with these antique chairs and thought somehow I could recover them. In my mind I even picked out the material–a black and white glen plaid. They would be stunning in one of the upstairs guest rooms. Since the time of those regal dreams the green tufted objects have been mouldering in subject basement room, occasionally eliciting negative murmurs by the master of the house.

Out they went to the discard stack.

dsc_4511. . .as did this formerly handsome rattan chest, which now boasts a bashed in top, and was stuffed with winter jackets and snowsuits of all sizes. I sorted through the snow clothes, discarded tiny ones, and Cole lugged the rest of them into the house where I laundered them, then hung them on hooks in the garage.

After a milkshake break, and a half hour or so of work afterward, we were finished. Brady looked around, remarked how nice it appeared, and said, “We should have taken before and after pictures.” He’s right. We should have, but we didn’t

Jerry has spoken to Ken, our across-the-street neighbor, about borrowing his trailer. Tomorrow Jerry and the boys will hitch it to our Jeep, load up all these discards, and travel to the dump that is located over on Highway 18. Cool thing about our dump; a thrift store is there. So all the books, a stroller, a pitiful lamp, the beautiful green chairs, a huge suitcase . . .and such . . .will go the thrift store side. The rest? Dumped.

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Children Family affection Food Goodness of man grandparents Home Photography Shirley Buxton Photography

Day 1 of 16 with the Grands *Settle and Spaghetti*

Our trip home with the three grands on Sunday evening was smooth and uneventful. By mid-evening they were settled into their rooms and had stored their things. I was able to arrange drawers for Ella and Brady who are sharing an upstairs guest room, but in Cole’s room downstairs there are no drawers. “It’s no problem, Granny,” he assured me. “I’ll keep everything in my backpack.”

Shawnna had arranged their schoolwork with their teachers; Ella’s is in packet form, while the two boys work is assigned through the internet.

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Ella does her work on the dining room table, but close by is an antique secretary with a cubby where she places her supplies when she is not working. Ella is nine years old, in the fourth grade, and is an avid student who loves school.

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She also is extremely helpful and eager to work in the kitchen. For years she has been able to set the table, almost entirely by herself, even choosing table cloths, napkins, and placemats. We would be having spaghetti for dinner, so of course, she chose the butler dishes.

dsc_4417In one of the buffet drawers I have kept place cards she has made over the years, and for Pappy’s place she added a tiny violin, as well as a special ornament for each of us other four.

dsc_4420Brady poured olive oil and balsamic vinegar into the tiny butler dipping dishes.

dsc_4423You will never meet a sweeter person than Brady. On his last birthday he became a teenager, and is now in the 8th grade.

dsc_4421You see Cole there, bending over his Pappy to help with his computer? He looks almost exactly like Andrew, his father, did at that age, even down to the hair style. It startles me occasionally when I catch a glimpse of him in such a way that it appears to be Andrew. Cole is in the 10th grade. His long-term plans include an engineering degree, although I’m not sure, for I recall a few years ago when I asked what he wanted to be when he grew up and he replied, “I want to be a candy maker, Granny.”

The spaghetti dinner was delicious. My grands? Exceptional, wonderful, glorious, handsome, beautiful, smart . . .and mine! How blessed I am to have them for these few special days.