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.

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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.

 

Winston and the Book Shelves

“Where’s Winston?”

“I don’t know. Around here somewhere. I hear him.”

I heard him also and decided to investigate. Found him in the dining room eating . . . a book. From the time he was small he has been fascinated by books, paper, and pens. Chews and eats them all.

ImageHe had climbed onto a hassock, cleared half a shelf of books, knocked them to the floor,  and with his sharp white teeth had destroyed an expensive, old book. I scolded him, cleaned up the mess, rearranged all the books, and got out the vacuum cleaner to finish the job. He lay silently and watched my activities, offering up the distinct look of a chastened soul, which look, I have come to believe, may be contaminated with a hefty portion of hypocrisy.

Later in the day, again I could not find him. Neither could Jerry. We looked everywhere, including the floor-level shelf in the dining room that he had claimed as a tiny pup for a sleeping place, and from which long ago I had cleared all books. He was not there. I called him loudly. Nothing. We began the search again, looking under things and again outside.  I lingered in the dining room when I went there another time. Something out of place caught my eye.

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A dark object had wedged himself behind the books on the shelf. The same shelf. The one he had cleared out earlier in the day.

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“Winston, why didn’t you answer me? What are you doing in that book shelf?”

He opened his sleepy eyes a bit wider, but said not a word.

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The rascal. As I rearranged the books before I lifted him off the shelf, he drifted off to sleep again.

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I suppose I should be impressed with owning such an intellectual pup, but to tell the truth, I sometimes wish he preferred one of his balls or a chew toy over books, pens and papers.

 

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

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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.

 

 

 

 

Transition to Italy

It is just after 3:00 on Wednesday morning, and we’ve spent a few hours in an airport hotel in Amman, Jordan. At 3:30 our luggage must be in the lobby and our bus will take us to the airport where around 6:00 we begin a series of travel today–air flight to Istanbul, then another to Rome, where we will transfer to a train and end in Florence tonight.

Our days in Israel have been such that I have not been able to write about everything, but I will get to them all. Part of the challenge has been the fast pace of the trip, and often I am not able to get on the internet.

A happy group of girls ran our way as we walked toward the Jordan River. They were smiling, so I stopped to talk and take pictures.

“What is your name?” I asked this sweet young girl.

“Elizabeth,” she said. “What’s your name?” She lives in Bethlehem.

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An Anniversary

It snowed, they say, that day in the deep south state of Louisiana when he was born. Now, here he is today 82 years old. Gerald Buxton, my hubby.

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We planned a simple day–some last minute shopping for our big trip that is just days away now, a stop at the pharmacy, a little business at the bank, and a run by Costco for fuel and for treats for Winston. Throughout the day our children called to wish him a happy day, as did several of the grandchildren

“I’m taking you out for dinner for your birthday,” I had told him previously and he decided on the Cheesecake Factory where he would order their Jambalya. But as the day wore on, and we were miles away from the designated restaurant, he talked himself into settling for Cocos which was much closer to home and where he would order the Oriental Chicken Salad. As we entered the restaurant, we both stared at the bountiful, beautiful pies in the glass case, and I said, “We could take one of those home for your birthday.” But through the meal as we ate our delicious food, we decided I would whip up a coconut cream pie at home.

I did.

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Winston whimpered. . .

Image. . .and because it was a party . . .

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. . . and because that little pup is spoiled . . . rotten, I tell you.

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Anyway, it’s Jerry’s birthday, and I cannot imagine my life without him . . .so, I’m wishing lots more pies and cakes. Many more celebrations–rare, elaborate, or simple. But there.

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