The Makings of a Sudden Trip

I write this first segment aboard a Lufthansa plane, at an elevation of 37,200 feet. Set against a crystal blue sky, the surging aircraft–with me in it–is traveling at a ground speed of more than 500 mph. Far beneath us I see a river. The screen attached to the seat ahead tells me the river is called the Nile, and I think of Moses, and bulrushes, and a floating baby basket. We will reach our destination in 2 hours and a half. The city of the airport is Nairobi, the country is Kenya, the continent is Africa.

I find it hard to believe I am here.

Jerry called from the living room, where he sat with Steve, to me in the kitchen in the afternoon following lunch, Easter Sunday 2017. “Want to go to Africa tomorrow?”
“What?”
“I said do you want to go to Africa tomorrow.”
“What are you talking about?” I questioned as I walked into the living room.

And so began the trip. I knew Steve and Dearrah were flying on Monday to Nairobi, Kenya where Steve would preach during a church conference, then on to Rome for a few days of sight-seeing. I knew that, and that a few people from his church would be going with them. But we had not figured into those plans in any way.

“Why don’t you and Mom go with us,” Steve had said after Jerry casually asked of the airline price for the trip. “We bought rooms at a group rate, and it was cheaper for us to add a room we didn’t need, so your rooms would be paid for.”
Jerry and I stared at each other. Then we grinned, began talking of appointments, hotel reservations and such we had for the coming days, and that we could cancel them all, how that our passports were up to date, how much fun it would be, and that because of my cancer treatments last year when our 60th wedding anniversary rolled around we hadn’t really celebrated it, and this trip could take care of that little lapse, and that the fares were exceedingly reasonable . . .

Steve made phone calls to his secretary, Evette, to assure that seats were available on all the flights we would need. They were. We said yes. We were laughing, Dearrah and I hugged, and Steve reminded us we would have to cancel our plans to attend a drama that evening, get home as quickly as we could for Evette needed our passport numbers, visas must be arranged, travel insurance bought, packing for us, phone calls, and such. Our drive home before we could even begin the process was two hours and a half. The first flight was out of LAX at 11:00 on Monday morning, we needed to be there at 9:00, and the airport is a 2 hour drive from our house, so we would leave at 6:30 am, take Winston to Rebecca’s and transfer our luggage to Nate’s car.

I called Rebecca to ask her to keep Winston and to get Nathaniel to drive us to the airport. “We’re going to Africa tomorrow.” Stone silence. “We’re going to Africa.” When she could finally talk, it was to say how excited she was for us, and that of course she and Nate would help us with the airport trek, and with looking after Winston.
Panic set in a few minutes after we walked into the house. I could not find our passports. I keep mine in a desk drawer in a folder named Important Documents; Jerry keeps his in one of his dresser drawers. Neither passport was in its place. Expired ones were, and a copy of our current, valid one, but I could find neither of our passports. I was trembling. Called Steve. Asked how much time we had. Could the airline tickets be cancelled? “Keep looking, Mom. I’ll make phone calls.”

I tore the house apart, checked in pockets of all our luggage, pawed again through the places they should be, checked folders in the desk, and finally out of two drawers of a four-drawer file I took  every file folder and plopped them on the floor, thinking maybe mine had slipped out of its file. Nothing. I went upstairs to the room where we keep our pictures and travel mementos. Same word: Nothing. I was sick.

Back to the study. I opened again the bottom file drawer, took everything out of there, and discovered a large file with ISRAEL/ISTANBUL scrawled over its face. I looked through it, and there among maps, cards and notes was my passport. I grabbed it up, ran in the bedroom. “I found mine.” Poor guy, Jerry had pulled a chair up to the dresser, still searching, and was just pulling out the entire big drawer when I walked in. “Maybe it’s behind there.” IT WAS! I reached my hand far to the back, and there wedged against the rear wall was Jerry’s passport. Somehow it had slipped over the edge of the drawer and had jammed there.

Sixteen Days with Grands–Pre Day 1

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!

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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.

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dsc_4369Ella and her mom on the sands of the great Pacific.

dsc_4401The 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.

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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.

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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Sam and Lil White’s 70th Anniversary

“Do you know what today is?”

The gentleman addressed the question to his tiny wife who sat across the living room. Always small, she now is tiny, legally blind, and suffering from a painful Shingles attack. She did not answer.

“It’s our anniversary, Lil. Today is our 70th wedding anniversary.”

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And so it was, as my Jerry discovered today when he talked by telephone with his longtime friend Samuel S. White.

I am so sorry I did not recall their anniversary date, and thus did not call or send them a gift, or at least a card for this very significant day. I am sorry they were alone. . . and almost forgot the special day themselves. I am so sorry, for they are dear and precious people and deserved more from me.

Many of you know these exceptional people. Some of you might not have met Jesus except for this rare couple. We have benefited from her leadership among ladies, from his dynamic preaching, and from their generous spirits, and from their sincere love.

I hesitate to post their address, but I know many of you will want to acknowledge this special day in their lives, so I am posting my own address and if you would like to send a card or a letter I will bundle them and send them on to these our friends. Mail letters: Rev. and Mrs. Sam S. White c/o Shirley Buxton P. O. Box 4577 Crestline, CA. 92325

If you’d like to post a message to them here, I will make a copy of your words for the Whites.

Thank you.

Our 57th

Seven years ago we celebrated our 50th with great festivities and, sadly, with a few sorrows. You might want to click on the link which will lead you to several posts about those special days. Part of the plan was that our dinner/celebration with many of our friends, Jerry would sing to me I’ll Be Loving You, Always. What he did not know was that as a surprise I would join with him on the chorus.

untitled (1 of 1)…more years have passed and today we celebrate our 57th wedding anniversary. We’re spending a quiet day here, poked about in our gardens, and ate a simple breakfast. This evening we will go down the hill for a special dinner, and Saturday we’re also doing something special.

We’re long past the giddy giggling isn’t he cute, isn’t she a doll state, but are now deeply ensconced in enduring love and in steadfast devotion. It’s a rich place, safe, secure.

55 and Counting!

Summer road trip. Day 26 Monday June 27, 2011

55. Jerry and I spent our 55th wedding anniversary in Globe, AZ. Jerry and Brother Dean, along with Brother Dean’s son played 18 holes of golf beginning early in the morning. I had to take care of some printing and mailing, then poked around this nifty mining town where there are lots of historic buildings.

Suddenly, as I prowled about with my camera, wafting over the warm air, I heard magnificent music. It was 11:00, and coming from this building were clear, splendid peals of church bells. It was beautiful.

Meandering flower shots.

In the evening the Deans joined us for our anniversary dinner. We drove out to Roosevelt Lake, but both the places they had in mind were closed on Monday. No problem, for when we had eaten at the Mexican food place on Saturday, Brother Dean’s steak has looked so delicious, and he had raved about it so much, we gladly went there. Jerry and I shared a 16 oz. rib eye. Fabulous.

An Inauguration Love Story

At home in Crestline, I was buzzing about the kitchen, hearing in the background conservative talk show host, Mike Gallagher, when my attention was grabbed by his saying something about having a Democratic wife and a Democratic son. Whoa! What’s this? I thought. For though I am not terribly familiar with Mr. Gallagher, over a number of years, I have heard him occasionally and know him to have conservative leanings; I’m quite sure he is not a Democrat.

I knew too that some time during the past few months his wife, Denise, had died of cancer.

On the radio this morning, Mike continued with his friendly, upbeat manner, describing how his son Matthew–following in the steps of his mother–adored President-elect Obama, and how that Santa Claus had provided hotel arrangements and money for transportation to Washington D. C. for Matthew and some of his friends. Soon Mike had Matthew on the air, where they spoke in light-hearted manners of the trip and the excitement of the scene in Washington on this the day before the inauguration of our 44th president.

Before I finish this post, please read the following which I took from Mike Gallagher’s website.

Mike’s proudest achievement is his family. On the morning of June 29, 2008, the love of his life, his wife Denise, died at home after a valiant and dignified year-long battle with endometrial cancer. She passed away the day before her 52nd birthday. Mike was holding her when she died, their four boys — Bryan, Trevor, Matthew, and Micah — all present as well, which is just how Denise wanted it. Two of the Gallagher sons live in South Carolina, and the other two live near Mike, which is a great comfort to him. As he promised to Denise, Mike is sleeping each night with beloved beagle Buster and puggle Rory, who constantly shadowed her every move but now seem quite content to take care of him.

On the radio this morning, I heard a love story. I listened in as Mike Gallagher told his son. “I sprinkled your mother’s ashes over Washington D.C a few hours ago, Matthew.” He paused, then added. “I think she would have liked that.”

O’Keefe’s Fiftieth Part II

as I said, fishes swam in some of the centerpieces; all the decorations were striking. The food was delicious, the company was capital, the weather was balmy…and the honored couple were handsome, beautiful, witty, and certainly worthy.

We indulged in tasty appetizers beautifully presented on the front lawn; we ate beef and chicken and drank sparkling cider, and proposed toasts. We laughed at the entertainment, and watched with fascination, as by video, each family in the church lifted a congratulatory glass and spoke words of love and endearment to the O’Keefes. We heard accolades from their sons and from their friends.

We ate cake, and Abby teased.

It was a spectacular event; I cannot recall a more beautiful, handsomely done celebration.

In response to Abby’s long-standing mantra, Don lifted a singular toast. Her mantra? “Drink your milk, Don. Milk drinkers make better lovers.”

They are quite a couple, Don and Abby O’Keefe, married now 50 years; fun-loving, godly, accomplished, successful, and having accumulated a wide circle of adoring friends.

Congratulations once again to a very dear couple.

Click on these pictures and they will enlarge.

(Within the next few days, I will be posting many more pictures of this event on my Flicker page.)

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My devotional blog is here.

People of Grand Canyon

As spectacular as is the Grand Canyon, the experience of a visit there is only enhanced by the observation, stories, and study of the people who in time past–or in time present–have moved through the area.

Making a unique contribution to the settling of the West was Fred Harvey who came to be known as the “Civilizer of the West.” Born in London, he came to America at the age of 15 and finally became a railroad man.

“He clerked for the first mail train and was a traveling freight agent for the Burlington. His fastidious English tastes revolted at the unpalatable dry biscuits, the greasy ham-leather and the week old coffee. The dirty, fly-ridden quarters and the all-too-prevalent custom of fleecing travelers ‘who wouldn’t be back anyways,’ made Harvey angry enough to change things.”

He established hotels and unique restaurants along the route of the Santa Fe through Kansas, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and California. “Rivaling the good food and modern accoutrements that Fred Harvey brought to the West were his “Harvey Girls”–pretty, well-trained waitresses. The girls were recruited from good homes in the East and had a major part in taming the West. The Harvey Girls brought culture, refinement and romance.” Territorial News

The lovely El Tovar where Jerry and I had lunch was built in 1905 and was one of the original Harvey Houses.

I’ve already told you of Buckey O’Neill who was in great part responsible for bringing the railway to the Grand Canyon, and I promised a little tale about his cabin there. It stands along the main Rim Trail that Jerry and I walked to the village, and just outside his cabin is a placard–typical kind of thing that identifies the structure and gives a bit of its history. Jerry stood reading there, and I followed the short walk up to the cabin. It has those doors that are split so that the top half can swing open while the lower part is still closed.

The top half of the door was ajar, and because I wanted to see all the way inside, I swung the door completely open. They are really making this place look authentic, I was thinking, for there were clothes piled around the floor and a general appearance of dissaray. Something is not right here, I felt and then I noticed candy bar wrappers and other modern day notions…hmm.

I closed the door, walked a few steps to the other door of the cabin that was styled in the same way, swung it open and there stood a man. A television was playing, and his eyes were stuck on the screen, then slowly he lifted them and looked at me. He didn’t smile. I didn’t smile. I closed the door, turned around and walked to stand beside Jerry.

When Jerry reads this it will be his first knowledge of this dark secret. The reason I didn’t tell him is because he is always saying I wander off too much, and it is an accurate observation that I have been known to explore in places that were best left undiscovered. Truth be known, I just wasn’t in the mood to confess that evidently I had intruded into someone’s personal space.

Well, anyway, it wasn’t my fault, for there for nothing to indicate the cabin as being anything other than a historical building–the cabin of Buckey O’Neill. No signs, no warnings. Later, though, in some material I read that they sometimes rent out the cabin. …(sorry about that, somebody.)

The last person I want to mention is Earl, who was the host of our railroad car for the return trip to Williams. Probably in his seventies, it was obvious from the beginning of our little more than two hours together that he was an exceptional person. He was kind and loving. He bent low over the seats and hugged the children and told simple jokes. About 15 minutes out of Williams he pointed to a road where it intersected the railroad and told us he lived up that way in a small community.

“It’s a good place to live,” he said. “We look out for each other.”

Before we left the train he walked the full length of the car, shook hands with everyone there, and hugged the children again.

“Thank you for riding my car today,” he spoke into the microphone just before we pulled into the station. “Thank you. I love you. God bless you.”

Earl…I may never see him again…chance points to that…but somehow that Saturday evening, I believed him. I believe he has the capacity to really love people, people he doesn’t know and will likely never see again. For a couple of hours that Saturday as Jerry and I concluded our anniversary trip, Earl loved us, too. I think I love him back.

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My devotional blog is here.

Train, Terrain and Thistle

 

 

The Territorial Times says it “wasn’t the cowboys and it wasn’t the cavalry, but the iron horse that finally conquered the West’s great wilderness. And there’s no better example of hidden treasures revealed by the locomotive’s journey west than the Grand Canyon.”

It is Bucky O’Neill who is responsible in great part for making the original Grand Canyon Railroad a reality. Possessing a number of copper claims near Williams, AZ., he also had staked several in the Grand Canyon area, and actually had built a cabin there. (I’ll tell you of my experience with that cabin later.)

He began lobbying for such development in Chicago and New York, and finally, in 1901,  after many delays and disappointments the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Rail Company opened the legendary Grand Canyon Railroad. In addition to hauling copper and ore, the train became the preferred method of transportation for tourists interested in visiting the Grand Canyon. The railroad line thrived.

Unfortunately Mr. O’Neill never saw the fulfillment of his dream. Serving with great distinction as one of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt’s famous Rough Riders, he was killed by a Spanish sniper and today rests in Arlington.

The Railway revolutionized the canyon, sharing its natural wonder with the general public. In its heyday, Grand Canyon Railway had two scheduled arrivals per day at the South Rim, but as many as six special trains might also arrive at the Grand Canyon in one day. Notable, famous people traveled this rail.

And then came the automobile and “as America fell in love with the automobile, the locomotive’s romantic wail faded like an Arizona sunset.” (Territorial Times)

“The final rays of golden sunlight disappeared June 30, l968 as Train No. 14, a diesel locomotive pulling only one b aggage car and one coach car left Grand Canyon Depot with just three people aboard. Beginning the 65-mile trek to Williams, the engineer gave the horn two short blasts heard only by those aboard and canyon wildlife. No one was present to send the train off, or to celebrate the contributions the Railway had made.

As the last passenger train traveled out of sight, the tracks grew quiet and stayed that way for nearly 20 years.” Territorial Times

Then in 1989, after an initial investment of 15 million dollars, Max and Thelma Biegert brought back the powerful pull of the steam locomotive to the Grand Canyon National Park. Since then it has transported more than 2 million people, and every year now offers the joy of the restored Railway to 225,000 passengers.

When we arrived in Williams on Friday morning, I was surprised to see the large number of cars and to learn that the train is not a narrow guage as we had ridden in Durango last year, but a full sized train  including an observation car, a cafe car and one with first class, white glove treatment. Ours was an air conditioned coach that rode smoothly for the 2 hour and 15 minute trek to the Grand Canyon.

We had a charming young woman as hostess who passed around soft drinks, and answered any questions about the Canyon, tours and best places to eat. Then a fiddler entered our car and regaled us with humor and excellent blues type fiddling.

The terrain I observed through the large windows was rather scrubby, but shortly before we pulled into the depot at the Grand Canyon the appearance changed somewhat. The altitude at the South Rim is 7000 and there is little rainfall in this semi-arid high desert area which gives to rather scrubby plant life.

As Jerry and I walked around the canyon area, I spied this strikiing, cottony looking plant. I have no idea of its name, although it resembles thistle blooms.

Cactus abounded.

 

…and trees, their clear green leaves fluttering in the cool breezes.

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My devotional blog is here.