Is Fall My Favorite Season?

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

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

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

Serendipity

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

Day 1 of 16 with the Grands *Settle and Spaghetti*

Our trip home with the three grands on Sunday evening was smooth and uneventful. By mid-evening they were settled into their rooms and had stored their things. I was able to arrange drawers for Ella and Brady who are sharing an upstairs guest room, but in Cole’s room downstairs there are no drawers. “It’s no problem, Granny,” he assured me. “I’ll keep everything in my backpack.”

Shawnna had arranged their schoolwork with their teachers; Ella’s is in packet form, while the two boys work is assigned through the internet.

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Ella does her work on the dining room table, but close by is an antique secretary with a cubby where she places her supplies when she is not working. Ella is nine years old, in the fourth grade, and is an avid student who loves school.

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She also is extremely helpful and eager to work in the kitchen. For years she has been able to set the table, almost entirely by herself, even choosing table cloths, napkins, and placemats. We would be having spaghetti for dinner, so of course, she chose the butler dishes.

dsc_4417In one of the buffet drawers I have kept place cards she has made over the years, and for Pappy’s place she added a tiny violin, as well as a special ornament for each of us other four.

dsc_4420Brady poured olive oil and balsamic vinegar into the tiny butler dipping dishes.

dsc_4423You will never meet a sweeter person than Brady. On his last birthday he became a teenager, and is now in the 8th grade.

dsc_4421You see Cole there, bending over his Pappy to help with his computer? He looks almost exactly like Andrew, his father, did at that age, even down to the hair style. It startles me occasionally when I catch a glimpse of him in such a way that it appears to be Andrew. Cole is in the 10th grade. His long-term plans include an engineering degree, although I’m not sure, for I recall a few years ago when I asked what he wanted to be when he grew up and he replied, “I want to be a candy maker, Granny.”

The spaghetti dinner was delicious. My grands? Exceptional, wonderful, glorious, handsome, beautiful, smart . . .and mine! How blessed I am to have them for these few special days.

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.

Of Peppadews and Goat Cheese

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. DSC_4289Peppadew. 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.

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A few minutes ago, I assembled half a dozen of these delicacies. Heavenly, I tell you.

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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.

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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.

 

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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A Rather Fine Day

We met Elinor a few years ago at the lodge down by Lake Gregory where often on Tuesday we go at noon for a meal served to adults of senior age. She is charming, spunky, beautiful, and 85 years old. During one of our noonday conversations, as we talked of gardening and plants, she indicated she had a dogwood tree seedling.

“Would we like to have it? Did we have a sunny spot?” she asked.

A few days ago Nathaniel had prepared a hole on our back bank in which to plant the little tree, so we were ready.  This morning we drove to Elinor’s place, following the perfect map she had drawn. Jerry was outfitted with gardener’s gloves, a bucket and a hefty shovel.

DSC_3279First, before we tackled the transplant, Elinor showed us about her place. Flashing her majestic smile, she stood behind her glorious rhododendrons for my first photo of the day.

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Both the rhododendrons and the dogwoods are past their prime for the season, but the light was so beautiful on this branch, I snapped a shot anyway. Our seedling is from this mother tree which Elinor planted 40 years ago. She has lived in this same place for 47 years. Amazing.

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As Jerry prepared to dig up the little plant, she kindly pushed him aside, saying, “Let the old woman do it.” Jerry stepped back a bit, and as they both bent back and forth, scraped, and scooped, the little fella was soon in the bucket and placed in the back of our Jeep.

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Late this afternoon, Jerry maneuvered our rather steep back bank and settled the two-year-old dogwood tree into its prepared place. Sets now on Buxton property. One day it may reach a height of 40 feet, and perhaps there will be someone around who will say, “Yeah, Jerry Buxton–remember him?–he planted this great tree.”

I had the ingredients I needed, so early this morning, I baked four loaves of banana bread. I took one to Elinor, still warm from the oven, along with a small note thanking her for her friendship.

A fine day? Yes, rather a fine one.

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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.

Turban Squash, the Woods, and Us

Although we do not have as large stands of color as is seen in wooded areas in the midwest and in the eastern parts of the United States, the San Bernardino mountains where we live do boast some rather spectacular scenery this time of the year. Our alpine forests gleam, their deep green splashed here and there with swathes of red and gold that when illuminated by slants of autumn light are little short of spectacular.

imageJerry decided to go with me last Friday when I said I wanted to tromp through some areas around here hoping to get a few good photographs. The hour was toward noon before we left, so I whipped up a couple of fine sandwiches, filled a slim thermos with freshly brewed coffee and snagged from the cupboards a hand-full of fun-size candy bars. Winston made three of us.

A few weeks ago when i bought pumpkins and other fallish items to create a display near our entrance door, included in my purchases was a turban squash which was so beautiful that I moved it into our house and set it on a chair in the study. I loved the way those two simple items looked. Then I envisioned them set among thin weeds in the woods.

I carried the chair and the squash to our trusty Jeep. i drove, looking for the perfect spot.

imageI stood on one of the highest reaches of Crestline when I snapped this picture which affords a stunning glimpse of highway 18 winding its way from the valley floor into these mountain communities. But it was when we drove down a canyon trail that I found the spot.

imageI moved the chair about until I found the right place with the best light.image . . .and then it was as I imagined.

The temperature hovered around 40 degrees, a bit chilly for an authentic picnic, so as we sat inside the car, we ate the delicious ham sandwiches and drank the steamy coffee. Winston sat on the console between us, looking from one to the other as he begged with his round glossy eyes.

imageNot one car came by us on the canyon road as we lived out the afternoon squash/picnic/photography spree.

imageA beautiful spot with streaming light lay across the trail. I moved the chair, and when Jerry and Winston had sat down in it, I shot the final photo of the day

The Dogs of Forrest, and A Cat

imageIsabel is her name, she weighs 75 pounds and her proud owners, Junior and Sandy, report she has recently lost 10 pounds, which puts her at a normal weight for an English Bulldog of her frame. I laughed at her repeatedly as I visited my brother, for she is downright funny. She takes three or four plodding steps, then plops down hard wherever she is, which may be right at your feet. Her head is monstrous.image

She reminds me of both a pig–look at those legs, regular hams–and a rhinoceros. Would you believe, though, she gets up quite a head of steam when she decides to chase one of the beautiful chickens. Izzy sleeps in Sandy’s room, although one morning when I arose before the others I found her on the fine leather couch in the living room. She languidly opened one eye, then closed it and resumed her snoring. When Sandy found her there, she promptly scolded Isabel and shooed her off the couch.

Once Sandy dropped off Isabel at an obedience school. When she returned to pick her up after the first day of training, the coach in a friendly way said, “You know what. Some dogs are made to just be companions. We’ll refund your money.” Seems she just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) learn the most basic of commands! Sandy put a leash on her, and Izzy waddled to the car.

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Pugsley is a Shih Tzu, a little ole man, nearly blind, either 12 or 13 years old. He is tended by Sandy, a little touchy and wouldn’t let me pick him up. He sleeps in a crate in the office area. Sometimes when a treat is promised, he performs a little trick.

imageimageimageYou’re met Sally before. A beautiful, sweet boxer, she thinks Pugsley is her pup. One evening as we all sat in the living room, Isabel did something mean to Pugsley. Next thing we knew a dog fight was roaring with Sally atop Isabel holding her down and biting her ears. Junior and Sandy broke up the fight; Sandy held Isabel down hard to the floor a bit for punishment. A little later Sally went to Isabel and sweetly licked her ears.image
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One cold winter night, Junior heard something mewling outside the house. He opened the door, and in the howling weather found a tiny, drenched, black kitten. Kitty is now a beautiful, sleek cat who lives in the Forrest home, mostly in Junior’s area. Name is Gato which is cat in Spanish. Not sure whether Gato is a boy or a girl. Forgot to ask. Sally thinks Gato also is her baby. Sally sleeps in the bed with Junior. Gato sleeps somewhere in the area.

Every morning Junior holds “Doggy Day Care” where he feeds the animals and washes their faces. One afternoon while we were there, he cooked up a batch of hamburger meat for their lunch. He grinned at us when he admitted the deed.