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.

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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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.

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.

The Dogs of Forrest, and A Cat

imageIsabel is her name, she weighs 75 pounds and her proud owners, Junior and Sandy, report she has recently lost 10 pounds, which puts her at a normal weight for an English Bulldog of her frame. I laughed at her repeatedly as I visited my brother, for she is downright funny. She takes three or four plodding steps, then plops down hard wherever she is, which may be right at your feet. Her head is monstrous.image

She reminds me of both a pig–look at those legs, regular hams–and a rhinoceros. Would you believe, though, she gets up quite a head of steam when she decides to chase one of the beautiful chickens. Izzy sleeps in Sandy’s room, although one morning when I arose before the others I found her on the fine leather couch in the living room. She languidly opened one eye, then closed it and resumed her snoring. When Sandy found her there, she promptly scolded Isabel and shooed her off the couch.

Once Sandy dropped off Isabel at an obedience school. When she returned to pick her up after the first day of training, the coach in a friendly way said, “You know what. Some dogs are made to just be companions. We’ll refund your money.” Seems she just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) learn the most basic of commands! Sandy put a leash on her, and Izzy waddled to the car.

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Pugsley is a Shih Tzu, a little ole man, nearly blind, either 12 or 13 years old. He is tended by Sandy, a little touchy and wouldn’t let me pick him up. He sleeps in a crate in the office area. Sometimes when a treat is promised, he performs a little trick.

imageimageimageYou’re met Sally before. A beautiful, sweet boxer, she thinks Pugsley is her pup. One evening as we all sat in the living room, Isabel did something mean to Pugsley. Next thing we knew a dog fight was roaring with Sally atop Isabel holding her down and biting her ears. Junior and Sandy broke up the fight; Sandy held Isabel down hard to the floor a bit for punishment. A little later Sally went to Isabel and sweetly licked her ears.image
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One cold winter night, Junior heard something mewling outside the house. He opened the door, and in the howling weather found a tiny, drenched, black kitten. Kitty is now a beautiful, sleek cat who lives in the Forrest home, mostly in Junior’s area. Name is Gato which is cat in Spanish. Not sure whether Gato is a boy or a girl. Forgot to ask. Sally thinks Gato also is her baby. Sally sleeps in the bed with Junior. Gato sleeps somewhere in the area.

Every morning Junior holds “Doggy Day Care” where he feeds the animals and washes their faces. One afternoon while we were there, he cooked up a batch of hamburger meat for their lunch. He grinned at us when he admitted the deed.

Trip to Pennsylvania–Part I

On Monday Jerry and I traversed a couple of jetways, flew through placid, beautiful air, and a few hours later landed in Pittsburg (snapped this shot from the car) imagewhere my brother, Junior, picked us up, helped us with our luggage, then drove us to his beautiful home which sets on 80 acres. Since his retirement, he “pretends” to be a farmer. Beautiful roosters scat about the property, one rooster lives in the enclosure where the hens do their business. Their chickens only recently began laying, and with great flourish we visited the egg plant and gathered the eggs.

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Sandy lives with her dad in the house that consists of 4500 square feet, 5 bathrooms, two kitchens….I think the chickens are hers.

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The bees are Junior’s pride and we spent an hour or so tending them. They are amazing.

imageimageI donned protective gear to “help.” My brother wears none, and has never been stung. Sandy went to the barn and came back with an apparatus with small bellows that produces smoke that for some reason calms the bees. Junior pulled out the trays, and even though it is not time to harvest the honey, already were drenched with honey. We poked our fingers in and licked off the delicious sweetness.

o                                                               imageIn the distance are the Laurel Highland Mountains.

Close by in another direction are the Alleghenies.

imageDeer by the hundreds graze around here. Last night after dinner–around 10:00–we drove around in Junior’s truck to spy on them. He had a spotlight which he would shine across the fields. We saw several.

Lots to tell, but at this moment I must get dressed for we are leaving for Smicksburg which has a large Amish population.

More tomorrow.

A Party for Winston

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Yesterday was my birthday, and I am now two years old. Mistress is conflicted between wondering if I have edged into my terrible twos, or if I’ve entered my teen years and am now a fourteen-year-old.

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Before they came home from church yesterday, my people stopped at a 99 cent store to buy things for my party. No suitable hats, so Mistress decided a birthday cup would work, and so it did. From the gift ribbon and paper area upstairs, she brought down this beautiful blue ribbon, punched holes in the cup, and tied a bow under my chin.

Purple pom-poms was the background for my party and my plate was beautiful as you can see.

.imageRefreshments consisted of a small scoop of ice cream, and a cookie nibble. I wasn’t allowed much of the cookie for it had chocolate in it, and they tell me I should not eat chocolate. I did try to snatch up the glittery purple stuff, but Mistress pulled the slim strands from my mouth, laughing, saying they would not be good for me.

As I dipped into my refreshment plate, my hat slipped. Mistress removed it, so I could lap up my birthday treat without unnecessary hindrances.image

I thought you’d like to know about my birthday . . .and in case you didn’t know and didn’t send me good wishes yesterday, you may do so now. And, uhm . .presents. Well, I’m told it is not nice to ask for any. . .so just listen to your heart, I guess.

Good-bye from Winston–Sir Winston of Crestline, that is.

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.

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.

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.

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

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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 . . .