In 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.
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.)
Brady wagged in a shop vacuum to take care of messy housekeeping by some of our vagrant mice families.
I 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.
. . .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.
I “blew it” on the first day the youngsters were here, but I didn’t find out about the mistake I had made until the next day. When by snickering whispers, knowing looks, and finally a confession, I learned what I had done. I felt like poking every one of these three in the middle of their funniest bone to make them suffer. Happened this way:
People who live here in southern California will probably find it hard to believe, but these youngsters of mine have never been to Disneyland. Never. Now I don’t believe they have suffered in any way for this lack of entertainment for they’re well adjusted friendly people, and don’t seem at all disadvantaged or in any way abused or neglected. 🙂 Anyway, I decided to treat them to such a trip while we are keeping them, ran the details by their parents, then ordered and printed out the tickets. It would be a secret, I decided. They would know we were going on a very special outing, and only when we arrived at the gates of the “happiest place on earth” would they know our destination to be Disneyland.
I was so excited. And so dumb. Left the tickets in full sight on the desk in the study; a desk that is not off limits, a desk where they are allowed to work, and to get tape, pens and such from its drawers. Ella saw the tickets first, ran to tell Brady, then Cole saw them a few hours later. None of the little rascals right away said anything to me, but when I mentioned the secret trip they had blank looks on their faces, nodding wisely and sweetly. Finally Cole whispered to me, “We’re going to Disneyland, aren’t we Granny?”
“These youngsters of yours are little rats,” I later told Andrew on the phone.
“How did they find out?” he wanted to know. “Brady emailed me last night that they were going to Disneyland.”
Amidst slightly embarrassed laughter, I told the deed. And now you also know the saga of the almost secret trip to Disneyland.
For breakfast on Tuesday we had biscuits and gravy, and when we were eating dinner, Brady said, “I love biscuits and gravy, Granny. We could have that for breakfast every day.”
During these days we’re eating breakfast and lunch at the bar, and since we only have four bar stools I’m usually not sitting with the rest during these times. Love seeing Pappy with these special grands, hearing him say a prayer over the meals, or asking one of them to do so. Unforgettable, dear times.
Yes! Andrew asked Jerry and me if we would be able and willing to keep three of their children for 16 days while he, Shawnna, and their eldest son, Gentry, vacation in Hawaii. Gentry graduated from high school in the spring, and the trip is his graduation present. I was delighted to say yes!
On Saturday, we traveled down to San Diego to meet up with Andrew’s family and with our second son, Mike, and his wife, Melina, who were there to celebrate their 26th wedding anniversary. Around 2:00 in the afternoon we all met near the jetty in Mission Beach. Relaxed in the afternoon, did “beachy” things, ate snacks, then just at dusk the men and boys built a great bonfire.
Ella and her mom on the sands of the great Pacific.
The descent. At the edge . . . then gone. How quickly so. And Brady . . . merely days before, a baby. Now a fledgling young man.
So ended Saturday. On Sunday morning Jerry and I were extremely blessed to be in church with our three sons and some of their families.
Great barbecue place after church. Loved being with my family. Loved seeing Jerry stand close to our wonderful boys, for through the years it has become almost impossible to get all our four children together at one time. I cherish such rare occasions and consider them precious. (Just sorry Rebecca didn’t make it down.)
At Andrew’s we loaded up Cole, Brady, and Ella, and by 2:30 were on our way to Crestline. We would see their parents in 16 days.
A couple of Sundays ago after morning worship, our longtime friends, the Garretts, and our new friends, the Stegals, joined us for lunch at Macaroni Grill in Redlands. Holly and I each ordered a nice salad, and split a chicken dish. Someone ordered appetizers and when one of those dishes came to me, and I bit into a portion, I knew I was tasting an extraordinarily delicious food.
“What is this I’m eating?” I asked one of the waitresses, probably with my mouth full and with delectable droolings cascading down my chin.
“Peppers,” she said. “Peppadew peppers stuffed with goat cheese.”
She smiled as I raved at the incredible taste of those little morsels. “Some of our customers come in and order only appetizers.”
“I fully understand,” I replied.
Into my computer at home I typed the words Peppadew peppers served at Macaroni Grill, and voila, up came a recipe that looked to be exactly as the incredible dish had been prepared. Peppadew. Never heard of them, but I was hooked. Problem was, I could not find the peppers. Checked at Stater Brothers, Trader Joes, Von’s Pavillion, Jensen’s Fine Foods, and Goodwin’s Market. Holly checked at Gerards. Nothing. I did find them to be available on the internet, so a few days ago, I ordered 12 jars of Peppadews! Today they arrived.
A few minutes ago, I assembled half a dozen of these delicacies. Heavenly, I tell you.
I’m taking a little issue with the recipe. One half teaspoon of goat cheese is nowhere near enough. I stuffed in more, probably a rousing good tablespoon.
We’re having a little backyard end of summer BBQ next Saturday, and I’ll be passing around these glorious sweet peppers. Stop by and I’ll hand you one . . .maybe even give you one of the eleven jars I now have in my pantry.
A text message alerted me to call Rebecca. I called.
She asked. “We’re putting Buddy down tomorrow. Can we come up and have you take pictures?”
Buddy is one boy’s dog. Has been since Buddy was rescued from an animal shelter and presented to Nathaniel when he was in the 4th grade. Nathaniel who is now a man. Nathaniel who graduated from high school last year, Nathaniel who takes college courses now, and who works as a roofer. Buddy is a black dog, nine years old (they think). Buddy is sweet. Has kidney failure. He’s big, and can be scary.
Buddy is one family’s dog. Truthfully, since Nathaniel has reached his manhood and taken on such responsibility, much of the care of Buddy has fallen to Rebecca, my daughter, Nathaniel’s mother. We’re all lovers of animals, and both Jerry and I were attached to Buddy.
“Sure, all of you come on up,” I told Rebecca.
I did not take a picture of Buddy wearing a diaper, for it seemed demeaning to that beautiful animal. Blood and urine and pain. Nathaniel would dig a grave . . .in their back yard.We talked. All of us spoke of grief and love and attachment.
“It’s worth it though, Granny,” Nathaniel said once. “The fun, the love, the good times I’ve had with Buddy makes this time of sorrow worth it.”
Rebecca sent me pictures of the grave and of Buddy’s body. Jerry said, “I don’t want to see them.”
I cried . . .as have we all.
You 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.
This 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.
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.
My 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Usually I walk Winston along our street, sometimes going into the woods that is a part of Thousand Pines Christian Conference Center here in Crestline. Yesterday, though, I put him in the car and drove the mile or so down to Lake Gregory, where, in an area near the San Moritz Lodge, we accomplished our morning walk.While he nudged small stones, and snuffled around fallen leaves, trying to sniff out at least one of the myriad animals who prowl about the area, I reveled in the day. Getting on toward the end of February, the weather should be described as storms of snow and rain; instead we’re having Spring, and although I’m wanting the cold weather, I’ve decided (since I can do nothing about the amount of heat or cold that stacks up about me) to enjoy these gorgeous days, and to avoid too much whine about the other stuff.
Winston walks on a leash. A leash that I control. I snap it on him, and take it off him. I’m in charge of Winston, and I tell him where we’re headed, when to go, and when to stop. Sometimes he obeys me. Others times not. Sometimes he doesn’t want to come for the leash and he’ll dance around, and tease, but before we head out for the walk, he is securely tethered by his leash–the leash that is in my hand.
I wear a leash too. Despite, though, how closely you look about my neck or how thoroughly you peer about my shoulders, you will not see my harness. It is invisible, rests easily about me, yet is highly effective. I’ve worn my leash a long time now, and should it slip away, should it be lost, I would suffer. My leash is of The Spirit. My leash is the Holy Ghost. I cherish this restraint, for it guides me through this very treacherous life, along roadways littered with stumbling stones, through neighborhoods of evil report.
With David, I cry:
Prepare my goings in your paths and do not let evil rule over me. Psalm 119:133 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
And to my Savior, I lift my hands, and extend my body for the leash for He has said:
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go. Psalm 32:8
We care deeply for Winston, we provide for him, we pamper him. Despite being the smart little rascal he is, without us he would lose his way. One day he would frolic away to the camp or to the lake, not remembering the coyotes that prowl our woods and our streets, nor the occasional huge cat who might very well rest in the limb above his furry little head.
And so Winston wears a leash, as do I. For sometimes I’m in danger, sometimes I head toward the wrong path, sometimes ungodly creatures lie in wait for me, but I’m safe, for I yield to the leash.
My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled. Psalm 17:5
Occasionally Winston and I discuss his part in my blog writing, and with sad brown eyes he emphasizes that a great period of time has passed since he has been allowed access to my computer, and he feels quite sure that many of you are wishing to hear from him. Sometimes as I sit on the couch in my living room and type on my computer, he sits beside me, and when he lifts a fuzzy white paw toward the keyboard, I know he is feeling creative, and is wishing I would let him have a turn.
Because of his very black face into which his dark eyes are plunged, Winston is hard to photograph. Yesterday, though, I snapped a few good shots of him, and when I loaded them today I decided this would be a fine moment to let Winston tell you about them.
Winston here! Sir Winston of Crestline, I’m sure you recall.
My people have a thing about the trash. Well, I suppose I have a thing about it too, but they have quite a difference in opinion about the trash from mine: They even go to the extent of placing the trash baskets on top of the toilet fixtures in the bathrooms, so I can’t share them. The kitchen one is a compactor which I haven’t learned to manipulate, but the study! Oh, the trash can in the study is wonderful, and even though Mistress pushes it under the desk I easily get under there and knock it over. It’s a glorious place, mostly filled with paper, envelopes, used up pens, and cellophane pieces, along with an occasional Kleenex or paper towel.
Early yesterday I visited the study, and when I left I looked behind me, and there scattered about was quite a trail of wonder; papers gathered all about the black plastic wastebasket I had tipped over. I knew Mistress would not like it, but I just couldn’t help myself, and maybe if I could figure out how I could scoop all the litter back into the can, but I just don’t know how to do that. Later, as I sat atop the stretched-out legs of Master who was reclining in his favorite chair, I had some moments of reflection. Mistress had taken me to the vet on Monday for boosters, and I was thinking about beautiful Dr.Nicole Stanclift, and all those stunning nurses . . . just remembering how sweet they all are, and how I didn’t bark, or yelp too loud when I got the shots . . .when I noticed Mistress heading toward the study.
Now Mistress is not mean to me, never has been, but sometimes she gets really upset when I do a couple of things I shouldn’t, and she makes a loud voice. Same mouth as her regular one, but the sound that comes out scares me a little bit, and I know then I have done something wrong. Same thing with the trash can as when I nip at her to play: She says, “No Winston. You don’t bite.” and I try to tell her I’m not really biting, but I’m just wanting to play. I think she understands that for I hear her explaining to people about my nipping. The thing is I love Mistress and I don’t want her to be mad at me, and about the trash . . .I just don’t know what comes over me . . .
One thing I’ve thought about is that I am so beautiful, and my people love me so much that sometimes when I’ve been a little naughty, I remind them of how lovely I am . . .like wagging my gorgeous fluff of a tail really fast, and looking at them in a very sweet way with my deep doggy eyes.