Of Buddy

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.DSC_3376We 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.

 

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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.

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.

__________

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.

Leash

20150219-untitled (35 of 45)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.

20150218-untitled (2 of 45)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

20150218-untitled (3 of 45)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.

20150219-untitled (40 of 45)Sometimes he’s in danger and has no sense of it at all.

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

Words From Winston

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.

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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.

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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 . . .

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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.

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A Day of Curiosity

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john Dewey said it:

The curious mind is constantly alert and exploring, seeking material for thought, as a vigorous and healthy body is on the qui vive for nutriment. Eagerness for experience, for new and varied contacts, is found where wonder is found. Such curiosity is the only sure guarantee of the acquisition of the primary facts upon which inference must base itself.

I admit to the owning of a hefty portion of inquisitiveness, to the extent that Jerry has sometimes grown impatient with me if I wander off when a group of us is exploring a new city or a fresh countryside, afraid I’ll get lost or someone will nab me!🙂 Yesterday our electricity was to be off for four hours while a new pole was installed behind our house, so I decided on a roaming about the mountains shindig, and Jerry was persuaded to come along with me, as was Winston.

During our trek I became hungry, fast-food places are scarce here in the San Berdoos, so while I was in the market to pick up a few groceries, I snagged a few items. We would have a picnic! In Lake Arrowhead after driving down a steep road that came to a dead end and doing a turn around, I spied wild apple trees. I stopped the car, grabbed my camera and leashed up Winston for a romp. I shook the tree, but nothing fell, so all I left with were pictures. Our picnic area overlooked both Lake Arrowhead and tiny Papoose Lake. No one else was in the area where we were, except that when we first arrived, I saw a gentleman across the road walking his two large dogs.  The day was glorious, our food was fresh, the ambiance remarkable.

It was while I was photographing the gigantic pine cones that Jerry called. “There’s an eagle.” I pointed my camera skyward and caught a shot of this majestic bird as he dipped and wheeled through the magnificent sky.

I also inquire in my mind, and though I would never think of embarrassing anyone, I would love to know why anyone would mutilate his body as has the young man pictured above. We saw him on our first stop of the afternoon trek at a vintage car show where he was displaying the most unusual Volkswagen that runs on, of all things, smoke from burning wood. (I’ll post more of this later.) But why? Why do people want to appear this way?

Right away, there will be some who reject my right to question this action implying that I am judging him, and that I have no right. I’m beginning a thorough study of scripture that warns against our judging others, thinking there surely is a time when we are to be distressed about actions we see around us. Jesus did. Plaited a whip and went into the temple and overturned the tables where deception and dishonesty were being paraded. I’m not suggesting that because of his appearance this young man has low morals or is dishonest. Not at all. I am suggesting that such an appearance likely will make it difficult for him to be gainfully employed.

I’m worried about our country. Concerned about morals and deceit and downward spiraling. I’m curious, so while I fling about the countryside enjoying the splendor, tromp with my great dog through dusty paths, and watch eagles wing and hover overhead, I am thinking. I am gravely concerned.

Rebecca’s Gift

Someone had said to her, “Let’s go out front. Want to show you something.”

20140920-untitled (38 of 134)“Oh, that’s a really pretty car.” 20140920-untitled (39 of 134)It’s yours, Rebecca. A gift from your brother Steve. 20140920-untitled (40 of 134) 20140920-untitled (41 of 134) 20140920-untitled (43 of 134) Aw, Aunt Bek, we love you so much.20140920-untitled (53 of 134) 20140920-untitled (54 of 134)We were down at Steve’s to help celebrate his 20th pastoral anniversary when last Saturday all this happened–Rebecca’s generous, giving brother Stephen surprised her with a shiny red Cadillac.

20140920-untitled (50 of 134)I believe I have mentioned before that our dear Rebecca has suffered cruel breaks in life, the major one being extreme and deadly health issues. Literally, she has more than one time been at the point of death. She is divorced and not able to work. Her old car was choking and heaving.

20140920-untitled (56 of 134)20140920-untitled (61 of 134)Sir Winston dressed for the occasion.

In the midst of this disheveled, gone crazy world, where only yesterday in Oklahoma a woman was beheaded in her work place…..there are still those who care, who love, who give. Lots of them.

 

At Least This: One More Dawn

I am but a pilgrim, a rather pitiful one at that, certainly not a sage. So when an isolated few pitch honor my way by consulting me and by speaking of my wisdom, I cringe, for of my extreme incompetence am I aware. I shudder, really I do, to consider what a mess this world is in if I am among the wise, except perhaps if it is understood that I am standing on the bottom rung of such a group. For I easily recall the thinness of the pool of wisdom from which I draw.

At least in one thing, however, do I admit to wisdom, that one thing being the acknowledgement of the wonder and the glory of dawn–the awakening to one more day on this earth.

From my unpublished novel, THE SOUL OF ABRAM CLARK

Fingers of dawn began their scribble over the dark sky, and the sun pulled up the edge of night so that paint of pink and blue filled the sky. Now between the trees could be seen the changeling sky, as its fresh self took to the day, its glow serving to note one more night’s survival.

. . .and from another chapter.

He moved along the trail and now a hint of rising sun played on the canyon walls, the inky blue of midnight having grayed to dawn. A watercolor pallet of sunrise threw its tones about the walls and the hues of the rock named the light and became burnt tangerine and creamy raspberry. Abram snapped the shutter of his camera with such rapidity the buffer filled and he must stop to let the processor catch up. By the second, the light changed and the monuments and temples of stone moved forward and backward as the sun rose ever higher, and shadows came, and then reformed.

Few persons had risen so early. The quiet trail led to a widening of the canyon where in a spot that claimed a panoramic view a bench had been placed. Abram sat. A haunting mood took him and he knew the throaty notes of a flute should whisper, or should be heard the plucked strings of a harp.

Then the sun tipped all the way over the eastern edge of the vista and the sky striped itself crimson. Ice glittered on the trees and a veritable world of magic had been struck.

——————

More than a year ago, I finished the first draft of this novel and made feeble attempts to get the attention of an agent and/or a publisher with no positive results. (My attempts were so feeble that, sorry to say, I didn’t even follow up on all leads I was given.😦 See I told you I’m not very wise.) Since then the book has been simmering in my mind, on the hard drive of my MacBook, and printed out on white pages, punched, and inserted into a leather binder. Today, I finished one more draft and believe I have polished the book to the highest sheen of which I am capable. The book is an excellent one, and I plan to try to get it published.

Would love to hear feedback from you!

A Moment of Thanks

Reluctantly I pulled the word from that dark place where it lives, for certainly I must examine its aspect and its whole being, knowing it was unwise–indeed impossible–to ignore what the doctor had spoken to me: “Mrs. Buxton, you may have cancer.”

I recall those moments in that cold ultrasound examining room (where I shivered so much until they gave me a warm blanket), and remembered when Dr. Mikhail spoke that sentence I did not feel overly anxious, nor did I have a sense of fear. I was calm as he pointed to the screen that showed multicolored wavy lines, and when he indicated the places of concern. In two weeks I would check into the Ontario Outpatient Surgical Center for a biopsy. “I don’t believe for sure it is cancer, but it could be,” he had finally said.

I told my husband and my four children that more testing was required, and although they probably sensed it was serious, I didn’t use the word cancer. I did ask one of my sons to be with Jerry while I was in surgery, knowing it would be a blow if the surgeon came out with a devastating report.

The Sunday before the procedure we attended church at Brother Claborn’s in San Bernardino. His sermon astonished me, and reminded me again how personal God is, and how He truly and absolutely keeps track of us, His children. He is divine, and this life we live is supernatural, unexplainable, definitely of another world. No doubt others in the congregation were ministered to that Sunday morning, but had I been the only one in the building, not one word would have been wasted, not one word would have been extraneous: instead the words flew as shot arrows to minister to those vulnerable places in my being, my heart, my soul, my emotions. During the altar service I whispered to Brother Claborn that I would have a procedure the next day for which I needed prayer. He laid hands on me and prayed.

The routine: Nothing by mouth after midnight, charming hospital gown, cute little paper hat, IV started, sweet nurses, visit by the surgeon, visit by the anesthesiologist, questions, answers . . . waiting. Finally they let Jerry and Andrew come where I was, and once I said to the nurse, “My husband and son will be praying for me before I go to surgery. Would you like to join us?” She smiled, and as we prayed she also did. “This opportunity has made my day,” she said to me. “Thank you.”

“Here’s your cocktail.” The friendly nurse grinned as she fed another medication into my system, and quickly I became woozy and hardly remember the gurney ride to the OR.

The procedure lasted about 20 minutes. The surgeon’s eyes were full of hope and his words were positive as he spoke to my husband and to Andrew. “I don’t believe there is cancer at all. We’ll know for sure when we receive the biopsy reports.

A few days ago I sat in one of those little rooms and watched the door open as Dr. Mikhail came in. He carried a sheaf of papers in his hand, later telling me they were my copies. “All benign, Mrs. Buxton. We biopsied three places. All benign.” He smiled. I smiled. We shook hands.

Today, I give thanks.

 

 

A Surprise, Glorious Visit

The message came by email: “Surprise. Short notice. We’re be at your place by three or four o’clock in the morning,” or something to that effect.

“Jerry,” I called across the room, “Andrew and Shawnna are coming in tonight!”

We were ecstatic. Before I went to bed I walked upstairs, arranged bedding on couches, and pallets on floors, swished out the guest bathrooms, and turned on lamps in the bedrooms.Image

“Don’t wait up for us, of course,” Andrew had said. “I have a garage door opener and we’ll let ourselves in.”

4:00 AM Arrived eight humans, one goldfish splashing about in his/her bowl, and one basset hound, whose name is Charley, and who drools like you can’t believe, and who is the sweetest, most affectionate dog, and who travels drugged up because of his extreme tendency toward car sickness.

ImageCome daylight, no one was up early, of course, so while the house lay quiet, I stirred around and snapped pictures of my dear ones laid out here and there.

Image“I heard you taking our  pictures, Granny,” Chloe said later in the day.

ImageCole was gone.

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Ella and Chloe had the floor of the game room.

I fried bacon, whipped up biscuits and gravy, and some of them ate at the bar, while others carried their loaded plates to the back deck where Pappy was drinking coffee.

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Chloe wrapped Winston in a doll blanket and carried him about as a baby. He didn’t like it.

Speaking of Winston: At 4:00 am, before either Jerry or I heard them, Winston bolted up in the bed (Yes, we now sleep with him,) and began barking. Such a good watchdog, guarding the castle and all that. However…..by the time the family of seven had traipsed in, bearing a friend with them, and lugging in suitcases, and afore mentioned goldfish and basset hound, the place was in such an uproar with chaos reigning, that Winston yelped, ducked low and crawled under our bed, still barking out commands.🙂

So much for guarding the castle.

By mid-afternoon they were gone. Sweet, quick, surprise visit.