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.

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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.

Trying to be a Tree

I spied the little fella yesterday as I was cleaning out a flower bed, noted his beauty, and since then at length have considered  his lesson. This morning as I set out for another day of yard clean-up, I carried my camera down the stairs with me for I was remembering from yesterday this little creation.

He is trying to be a tree.

He was ordained to be a tree, and somehow in his “guts” he knows he is destined to be such a living thing. It is in his genes, his DNA. Even so, it has not been easy for him. He has fought obstacles including the beating about of fierce winds that come off Lake Gregory and that tear around the corner of our house. Through the winter months cold, edgy snow piled high over him, drenching rain poured off our roof at the spot where he lies, and even sometimes after walking Winston if the garage door is closed I toss a little doggie business bag in that area, that stays there until later when I will retrieve it and plunk it into a trash can. Even that, as you can see, did not deter him. He pushed and shoved. He grew, he grunted, he persevered until finally he was strong enough to crack open his restrictive acorn walls, to flaunt his bright green oak leaves. For you understand, don’t you, that God designed him to be a tree.

DSC_7141 I actually did not know he was there until yesterday, and even then I paid him scant attention. It was only when my rake hung up on him, and I found him to be well rooted into the ground that I considered him. It matters not to him that neither Jerry or me, or anyone else for that matter, had taken note of him, that no one encouraged him with pep talks, or strokes, or positive words. Alone, he continued on his way toward being a tree. He’s a winner, this little seedling of mine. He’s rare. Rare, you say? An acorn? There must be millions in existence, or billions. Yes, there are, but I tell you that out of the mounds of acorns I bagged today, only this one will be a tree. The others have lost their way. Their dreams have died. Their visions of soaring into the sky, of birds nesting among their leaves, of little boys climbing and building club houses in their branches have vanished. Tonight they nestle against the other losers in black trash bags that set near the fence on the east side of our drive way.

And what of you? Of me? What of the gifts God and genetics have placed inside us? What of the urging to break through the binding walls that threaten our going to our graves with our potential unfulfilled, our talents silenced, the world deprived of our gifts. Let not the wind, nor the cold, nor loneliness, nor pressure, nor agedness, nor youth, nor past mistakes, nor anything else now or in the future defeat us.

. . .for even a few rare acorns become trees.

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My little fella is growing in a place that is undesirable. That I now consider him special, I will transplant him into a container. Because we have many oak trees and no room for another, I’m offering him as a gift to you who live close by. Any takers?

Is Fall My Favorite Season?

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Jerry went ahead of me into the lodge where we would eat lunch. “Let me tromp around a bit with my camera. I’ll meet you inside in half hour or so,” I had said to him.

Beams of noonday sun danced among newly fallen leaves, fiery orange and yellow. Acorns and pine cones and wispy weeds with seed heads of harvest lay spread about, and I reflected again: autumn is my favorite season . . .but again there is majestic winter . . .the pulsing bud of spring . . .the languid sweet days of summer . . .

And you? What is your favorite season? Can you decide?

Days 5, 6, and 7 of 16 with the Grands *Sleepover, Picnic, and Church*

What a pleasure these grands continue to be. Dependable and cooperative, they follow the few house rules we’ve laid down, and are even quick to do their school work right after breakfast each morning. Ella has finished her entire packet, so she’s far ahead of schedule. They talk frequently with their parents in Hawaii by “FaceTime” and don’t seem to be homesick to any great degree.

In preparation for our attending a church musical concert in Rialto on Friday evening, I had them select the clothes they would be wearing. At this point, Cole discovered that somehow he hadn’t brought his dress clothes. Off to the thrift store we went, where he could find no pants to fit him, but he did find a shirt that he would match up with a nice pair of jeans he had. Nathaniel had called to see if they could spend the night and of course that was fine with me. At church after the concert, Ella approached me about her being a part of the sleepover with her cousin. Aunt Becky said it would be fine, that she had an extra toothbrush and such. So hubby and I made the trip up the mountain late Friday with no youngsters.

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Days ago we had planned a picnic down at Lake Gregory for Saturday, so it worked out fine for Rebecca to bring the children home and be a part of the festive day. I fried 15 drum sticks, whipped up some potato salad, and she brought chips and peanut butter and oatmeal cookies she had baked.

dsc_4480dsc_4482Of course we took the dogs. Although not from the same litter, Rebecca’s Shih Tzu, Paisley, is Winston’s sister. A ball of activity, she loves to play fetch.

dsc_4496Winston splashes about in the lake up to his belly, but he never takes off swimming. Brady took him for a couple of walks through the beautiful wooded areas lining Lake Gregory.

dsc_4484Handsome, talented Cole.

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11:20 am 9/22 Revision

Whoops! Forgot to add that on Sunday, the 7th day of the grand visit we dressed for church and drove down to Rialto to attend The Lighthouse Church where Rev. Tim Spell was the special speaker . . .and singer. Rebecca had been sweet enough to invite us to her home for lunch where she had prepared burritos made of buffalo sauce and chicken. Delicious. Mid afternoon we headed up the hill where in the evening we “attended church” by way of live-streaming. At the Anchor Church in San Diego Rev. Fred Childs preached a moving, vital, powerful message.

Serendipity

dsc_4488In the mix of the liveliness of my visiting grandchildren I grasp solitary, private moments. In the distance they played. Beside the lake I walked. Caught among high weeds, a feather of fine lines, splendid in its golden light, became a one-man art show.

The Case of the Missing Camera Card

IMG_0222.jpgYou see this camera. For a couple of years now, it has belonged to me. It’s a great camera that takes wonderful pictures . . .

…………………..unless the operator (think me) neglects to insert the card into the little designated slot. If that dreaded situation happens, when the holder of the camera (think me) lifts the beloved to take a wonderful picture such as that below, a little signal shows in the viewer that indicates a missing card. Alas. Alas.

DSC_2900This morning I stood on the banks of Lake Gregory, where a few days ago, I had snapped this shot, also of Lake Gregory, but on the opposite side. I have a new lens–85mm 1.8–that had given me this exceptional photograph.The light was gorgeous. I was excited thinking I would get another spectacular shot . . .Again, alas, alas, for my beloved Nikon had no card. Helpless.

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I finished out the walk with Winston, urged him into the car, with the resolve that I would drive the very short distance to our home, find the card, insert it, then return to the lake quickly before the light changed drastically.

The card was nowhere to be found. I had warned myself of this happening many times, for too often after taking the card from the camera, inserting it into my Mac to transfer the images, then removing it from the Mac, I lay it down on the arm of the couch, as I eagerly check out the photos I’ve loaded into Lightroom. Sickening. I just could not find it.

Off came the cushions of the couch and the cushions of two chairs. Nothing. Well, nothing that thrilled me too much. Only bobby pins of varying styles, ballpoint pens, dust balls, a large paper clip and small portions of doggie treats. (Winston has a propensity for saving his treats from time to time. Never know when a famine might arise, must be his thinking.) Did Winston find it and snag it as a chew toy? I ran my fingers under the edge of the couch, Jerry tipped it up so I could see behind it (too heavy for us to move.) Finally I gave up. “We’ll have to run by Best Buy on our way to the graduation tonight,” I told Jerry.

DSC_2954My mind would not shut down, though. I had a faint memory of taking the card out yesterday in an unusual place. What did I wear then? Grey skirt, red sweater . . .with pockets. Surely I would not stick that card in a pocket. Would I? I rushed to the closet, pushed my hand down in the pocket of the cardigan sweater, felt something thin . . .Voila. There it was!

Herein lies a couple of important messages. To you photographers who use cameras such as mine, no matter how beloved is your little treasure, it will not work without the card. Believe me, it is disconcerting to stand with a vision in front of you, with magnificent light falling on the scene, to lift the camera to your eye, and see a symbol of a camera card with a black slash drawn through it. The second lesson applies to all of you (and especially to me): Store things where they belong. Now. Always. Without fail.

Vintage Car Show at Lake Gregory

20140927-untitled (2 of 48) 20140927-untitled (4 of 48) 20140927-untitled (5 of 48) 20140927-untitled (11 of 48) 20140927-untitled (13 of 48) 20140927-untitled (14 of 48)Yesterday on our prowling about the San Bernardino Mountains, our first stop was down by Lake Gregory where a vintage car show was in progress. One of the most intriguing units was this Volkswagen which in this canister burns wood which produces smoke which fuels the vehicle. Amazing. This young man was the owner, told Jerry all the details of the vehicle’s operation.

My favorite vehicle was probably the Forest Service truck, but then look at the red on that other car. Haven’t heard which vehicle had the most votes. All were beautiful

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Of Fathers and Sons

Cole had asked to stay with us a couple of weeks ago when their entire family were here; however it wasn’t a good time, but last Monday was. Jerry and I trekked down to Temecula which is roughly halfway between here and San Diego where we met Andrew and Shawnna who delivered two boys to us: Brady and Cole. I don’t believe any of us had thought about this week as being the one that would lead up to Father’s Day, but a better week could not have been chosen. I’ve watched the interaction of Jerry with these two grandboys, and I’ve thought of leadership and heritage and godliness and progeny and transfer of mantles and of undeserved family blessings. Image

In the kitchen I made pancakes and eggs and tacos and poured orange juice by the gallon and fried chicken in a big skillet. We filled ice chests and these gentlemen in training carried down the heavy things and loaded in the folding chairs and took them from the car when we reached the picnic area at the lake and set them up for us.

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They climbed trees and poked at crawdads and didn’t catch even one. They threw sticks into the water, and when their cousin Nathaniel had been doing lawn work for Bill next door, they both helped him finish his job, and at the end when they had earned no money, I gave them each five dollars. Ambitious, hard working Brady earned seven more dollars from me because the $5.00 job I had assigned was bigger than I thought and because he worked so hard.

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The entire family were away from their home several weeks during the school year, so the boys came to us Monday with online and contract makeup work assignments. Cole works studiously. He also is quite an artist, so down at the lake I let him use my camera, and with his excellent eye, he fashioned a fine portrait of his pappy.

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Blessed. Here is a father who has a heart after God, who has led his family into righteous living, who worked long and hard to dress the bodies of his children and to give us nice houses and good food and days of fun and who read scripture to us and prayed for us . . . and who does to this day.

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And now are the sterling grandsons who weep in the presence of God, who say thank you Granny after every meal and who say thank you Granny and Pappy for taking us to the lake . . . and who take their dishes to the sink . . . and upon whom, perhaps, the end of the world will come.

Shoes. Feet. Paths to follow.

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So . . . yesterday Pappy took his boys down the hill to Big Five.

ImageFor there remain long, treacherous, happy, rocky, important paths ahead. And one’s feet must be shod . . .

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A Walk at Lake Gregory

Image This is one of my favorite places down at the lake and I can’t calculate the times I have lifted my camera and snapped my shutter for another picture. When I walked there a couple of days ago, a duck couple swam lazily, the elegant male lounging about in the center where I could easily photograph him, while his busy little lady was dipping and tucking, many times only her brown tail feathers visible, as she gathered lunch

ImageSpring flowers have shot through the warming earth, shafts of color that tell the new season.Image

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This was only the second day I had walked Winston very far around the lake and I had expected him to bark at the ducks, but he didn’t; merely starred at them as they paddled about, then flew high, and skidded again into the cold water.ImageImageI thought of my grandchildren as I walked, and a lacy throw of sadness fell about me–not too heavy–but there, for they’re much older now, and situations have changed, and I don’t have them up here as much as in years before.

The grounds around the lake were filled with picnicking families, and a couple of ball games were in progress. Once I heard behind me a little voice say, “Granny,” and even though on some level I knew that call was not for me, I turned, a miniscule flash of hope thinking maybe some of them have made a surprise visit, but the child was not mine.

A foursome ran by Winston and me, three eight or nine year old little girls followed by a boy about the same age, who couldn’t quite keep up. He yelled–seemingly to save his pride. “I’m not running as fast as I can.” I grinned. Winston tugged on his leash. He too wanted to run through this glorious spring day.

Winston didn’t want to leave when we arrived back at the car; instead lay as an unmoving lump on the pavement, so I gave in, and walked a short distance away into a wooded area near a parking lot. I sat down on a large rock. Winston lay beside me, and we watched the people as they parked their cars and pulled fishing poles, picnic hampers, and balls and bats from their vehicles.

Two little boys raced up the incline where we sat and ran past us. In a minute I felt a gentle poke on my shoulder. When I turned I was looking into the face of a six-year-old or so boy. He pointed to the parking lot where a bright red bike sat. “That’s a dirt bike.”

“Sure is. Can you ride a dirt bike?”

“Yes, mine is blue and orange.”

“Where’s your mom,” I asked him. “I want to take your picture.”

“No pictures.” He yelped and grinned and raced down the hill to his family.

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Winston and I sat a while longer, then we walked to the car, and I drove the few minutes it takes to reach our home. Winston napped the rest of the afternoon.