A Day of Beauty

A couple of errands I needed to run led me traipsing about the majestic San Bernardino Mountains today, in particular through Crestline and Blue Jay, then into Lake Arrowhead. The weather was perfect; azure skies against which now are flung golden leaves and red and scarlet.

dsc_4633dsc_4638Along the roadway I traveled, a rusted truck stays parked. Today I noted a person near the pumpkins that were in the back of the truck, so I pulled in beside it to say a friendly hello to my fellow mountaineer. As I drew closer I was surprised to see other “persons” in the truck cab. They were of a friendly nature and didn’t seem to mind my snapping a few shots.

dsc_4628dsc_4630A splendid cabin set nearby, and once a young man walked close to me, and asked if I needed help. “No, just taking a few pictures. Thank you,” I replied.

“Have a good day, Ma’am.” He grinned and returned to his work.

Within a couple of hours I was home again. I’m quite interested in our world, try to stay abreast of what’s going on around me, and of course current news reports are jammed with accounts of our election progress. No one asked me, but I’ll tell you anyway; the whole thing is a mess. I’m sad at the depths to which our glorious country has fallen.

So . . .tonight I checked out of all that. Jerry built a roaring fire from eucalyptus wood our son Steve brought to us a few weeks ago. Indeed, it is glorious. The perfect ending to a beautiful day.

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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.

 

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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Integrity

I gazed as she spoke the words: Words at once so awful that even at their long memory she surely had wept bitter, scalding tears, and yet so glorious that as the words fell about me it was as though I had been showered with a gentle holy rain.

He spoke with no rancor: Indeed he had moments before told of assuring within himself he held no bitterness nor unforgiveness. Tears sprang though, and his eyes reddened, this mature, handsome, godly man who had been wronged.

In the one case, a parent had lovingly, but frankly, warned a friend of the inappropriateness of a certain relationship with a beloved child.

In the next case, people in authority, aware of desperate flaws in a person, failed to be honest with my friend; a decision that led to grief as heavy and dark as that found in the coldest cave in the deepest earth.

Integrity: Its edges push against ignorance and the averting of an eye. Its margins dangle into difficult places far beyond that of sums and of products and of dividends.

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A Consideration of Under the Table Kicking

As many of us eat in restaurants after Sunday morning worship, I have a piece of advice for ladies who will dine with gentlemen today.  Taken from The Alice in Wonderland Cookbook and Lewis Carroll’s Guide to Dining Etiquette are these words:

As a general rule, do not kick the shins of the opposite gentleman under the table, if personally unacquainted with him; your pleasantry is liable to be misunderstood – a circumstance at all times unpleasant.

As written, these instructions seem to leave us with the option of kicking the shins of the opposite gentleman under the table if we are personally acquainted with him. However, in considering this, I strongly feel led to suggest you entirely leave off the dining room kicking maneuvers.

Have a blessed Sunday. Rejoice. Smile. Be happy.

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New post on God Things here.

Mall Trip with Three Teenagers

The continuing saga of the teenage grandchildren’s visit took in a visit to Ontario Mills on Monday, a place that is touted as the largest single-story mall in the Western United States. It consists of a huge food court and 200 stores that cover 1,473,000 square feet! Right, you read that right: One million, four hundred and seventy-three thousand square feet! . . .Feet?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Did you say feet?

Maybe I should not have done this, but I had a terrible time restraining myself when we passed by this set of massage chairs. Later, as my own legs were yelping, I wished I could find these people and apologize–well, actually I wanted them to scoot over and share their place.

untitled (17 of 52)Before we actually entered the mall, just across the street, we took a quick duck into Tai Pan Trading. The boys weren’t too excited about prowling about a gigantic home decoration store, but they did fine, I believe, in entertaining themselves.

“Twenty minutes, that’s what we’re giving you, Granny,” Nathaniel ordered, and Gentry agreed.

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untitled (10 of 52)We shopped . . . and shopped . . . each trying to find the outfit they wanted, that fit, that was in Granny’s budget.

untitled (18 of 52)They laughed at belts that would almost reach around Gentry twice. Along the way we had picked up a couple of honorary grand-youngin’s that Patrick and Holly had dropped off.

untitled (45 of 52)Finally, many hours later, each of them had treasures in their hands, and we headed for the exit.

untitled (34 of 52)But one more thing: Those sweet youngsters gathered about me in that huge mall and as Rebecca operated the camera, they gave me a group hug! Love it!

Trekked all of them up to our home in Crestline, where we all fell out of the car totally exhausted. Even the youngsters complained of sore legs.

We prowled about the kitchen for food. The boys opened the Balderdash box and soon uproarious laughter came from the dining room. Pictures that will make you laugh are here.

The Luminance of A Durable Friendship

Even though one of their characteristics is a certain ebb and flow, it is important to maintain them lest they be lost, for once completely unraveled, the knitting back into form may be difficult. Constraints of time and various responsibilities will push against their keeping.

From the relationship laughter will result. So will tears.

Jerry and I have been at this one–this friendship–for about 65 years. At least segments of our friendship with the Stevensons and the Hodges have been that long-lasting, for Jerry and Johnny Hodges met when they were still in high school. Our friendships are sterling, and on Friday they drove up from San Diego and spent the night with us.

Snippets:

untitled (3 of 26)Johnny lost his phone, so strong man Jerry tipped over the chair where Johnny had been sitting, and there underneath was the phone.

Nita wasn’t able to come as she had gone to northern California to visit with her sisters. To punish her we almost planned a dinner engagement at her house…but being the sweet friends we are, LaVelta and I had mercy on her and didn’t mark anything on our calendars.

I’m above tattling on anyone, (by name) but the two diabetics in the group refused the sugar-free ice cream and strawberries I had prepared, and licked up instead wide wedges of lemon meringue pie.

untitled (8 of 26)………………………….   Three Precious Cronies   ………………………………..

Lavelta leaned toward me across the table where we lingered after breakfast on Saturday morning and said,

People like to be appreciated, don’t they?

untitled (9 of 26)………………………….Beautiful friends, the Stevensons……………………….

We talked into the night of our families, our churches, vitamins, and antibiotics. One of the diabetics injected the other with insulin. I grinned. We ate, and drank iced tea and pots of coffee and spoke of Boston and general conferences over the decades, and one rolled his eyes heavenward as he recounted the long waits on the other. Financial reports, board meetings, and the Mary Kay in St. Louis. Jerry and Berl argued about exactly where they were when Jerry prophesied about a certain sort of private matter. 🙂 We talked about holy living and doctrine and motor homes, and about missing Brother Gray. Lavelta showed me pictures on her phone, and from a table I picked up a picture of Nathaniel and showed her how handsome he is, and I bragged about his goodness. Lavelta spoke with pride of the three Manzano children and how involved in the work of God they are. We talked of progress and of dangerous regression. We asked rhetorical questions and pontificated at length on answers.

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We spoke of strokes and of dishes and of souvenirs from our trip to the Philippines, and Berl played with magnets we had bought once on a trip to Silverton, Colorado. We spoke lovingly of Sam and Lil White and I reminded them that Sister Francis had recently celebrated her 100th birthday.

I recalled that from both these men who visited in our home I had heard profound preaching. . . . and I added in Jerry, and excuse me . . . you may want to tune out for a minute, but I knew I was sitting in the presence of three holy exceptional men.

Johnny slept late, and as Stevensons and Jerry and I lingered over breakfast, Berl picked up my Bible which lay close and prepared to read Ephesians 4:32. “This is my life goal now,” he said. “This is how I want to be.” “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

I lined them up on the deck for one last picture. We had prayed inside, our hands joined.

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The Computer and I

They called me a bookworm–always have your head in a book–when I was a child, and I suppose I was, for I adored the library over on Central Street, and I recall many days as I walked home from school that I read as I walked down the sidewalk. I walked carefully, slowly, lifting an eye occasionally to avoid stepping off a curb unexpectedly or stumbling over a crack in the sidewalk. At other times, I read in the car, on the school bus, on the city bus, and at night after my dad made us go to bed, by beams from a flashlight, under the cover.

My parents taught me to read the Bible, and at youth group sessions, when we had “sword drills,” I was the fastest to find the called-out reference, because I was a reader. My sister and I were fascinated by tales we read in fairy books, and as we washed and dried the dishes from our evening meal, untitled (8 of 8)we acted them out, and then we made up our own stories. I don’t think I wrote any of them down, but if I could read them now I would probably see they strongly resemble something I had previously read. Every year from the school library, I checked out The Boxcar Children, and all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and that biographical series of Great Americans–orange and green colored, they were. One of our neighbors had every one of the Hardy Boys and the Nancy Drew books and she let me read all of them.

As I grew older I read newspapers and magazines and learned of such a fabulous thing as a thesaurus. And now, I read the computer. Oh, I still read books and magazines and newspapers, but there is nothing quite like a computer. I read the news, gossip, weather prognosticators, untitled (6 of 8)events taking place here in my mountains, church news, live streaming of church services, YouTube, concerts, hear from some of my kids and some of my friends, learn things, study how to write books, load my digital pictures from my camera, process them with Lightroom, study photography and understand how hard it is, write articles, write books, edit my novel The Soul of Abram Clark, learn about publishing and agents and fuss about in forums, and find recipes. I keep track of our personal banking. I “talk” to people around the world, post pictures for friends and am encouraged by sweet remarks from friends on Facebook, and hope to encourage them a bit. I make travel reservations, pull up our tax bill when I don’t receive a paper one, utilize Mapquest, and just yesterday I found the location of the nearest Subway to the Lighthouse Theatre in Redlands, then emailed the address to Holly and to Rebecca, for we will snack there on Saturday before we attend a performance of Miracle on 34th Street. And get this–right down at the bottom of my sweet Apple is a thesaurus. Amazing thing. I tweet. I blog. I learn of life . . . and I learn of death.

I suspect I am still a bookworm, and sometimes people say, “Shirley, I don’t know how you can stare at that screen so much.” Sometimes I hide, although it’s a bit harder with a computer than with a book and a flashlight.

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How about you? Are you a bookworm? Your face always stuck in a screen or a book or in a Kindle? I’d like to hear from you.

Apples: From Tree to Oven to Mouth

When we moved into our Crestline home more than ten years ago, a small apple tree was growing in the back yard. It appears to be quite old, but has never produced a very large crop. The apples that do come from the tree, though, are of exceptional quality–very sweet and juicy.

During recent weeks, we’ve occasionally picked one or two to eat out of hand, but yesterday in my kitchen I found that Jerry had picked and brought in quite a few. “Thinking apple pie,” he had mentioned before.

Earlier today, into a large copper bowl, I placed the apples, and as I listened to a morning talk show, I peeled and sliced them. I then mixed the apples with sugars, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice.

I lined four small pans and one larger one with the pie crust I had whipped up, and then spooned in the apple mixture. I hadn’t made quite enough crust, so the top strips were a bit skimpy. Set the oven, poked in the pies, and relaxed for the hour or so it took for the pies to bake.

After the pies had cooled, I wrapped the four small ones in cellophane and tied them with small strips of raffia. While I cleaned up the kitchen, Jerry delivered them to our neighbors on each side of us, and to Ken and Nancy who live across from us.

The other pie–the bigger one–resides now on the counter in the kitchen. In a couple of hours, I’ll make coffee in our Keurig, we’ll each have a slice of pie, and we will call that dinner.

Come to think of it, we won’t eat the whole thing. There’s enough for you. 🙂

Rebecca’s 50th

She was born 50 years ago during those ancient days when parents did not know the sex of their baby until the baby was born. We already owned Steve and Mike and I was eager for my third one to be a girl. In the delivery room I heard her wailing and I asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?”

“It’s a girl. A healthy little girl.”

I recall vividly through my hazy state of mind that I continued to ask two or three times if it really was a girl. Finally, my very friendly doctor said, “Mrs. Buxton, I’ve had lots of experience telling a girl from a boy. This is definitely a girl baby.”

And so she was. Tiny and beautiful. The best daughter anyone could ever have, she has brought unspeakable joy to Jerry and to me. She is kind, giving, a Christian, thoughtful, loving, steadfast, optimistic, determined . . . and on Friday the 19th will be 50!

I planned a surprise family party, found a date that would fit all my children’s schedules and made reservations at the Claim Jumper in San Bernardino. Everyone was in place (except Steve and Dearrah who couldn’t make it after all because of Steve’s knee surgery)when Holly and I walked in with her. A massive balloon bouquet was flying from her chair, gifts were on the table, everyone yelled surprise, and she was! Totally–didn’t suspect a thing.

Holly (whom we count as family 🙂 ) helped me pull it off by inviting Rebecca and me out for dinner. “I’ll take pictures of you and Holly since you’re best friends, so be all dressed up,” I told her. We had to cancel plans for taking pictures at an outside location because of pouring rain, but in her house we grabbed a couple of instruments and I snapped pictures of the two while we stalled for the party people to assemble at the restaurant.

She posed with her dad and with Nathaniel before Jerry whisked Nathaniel away and in the car told him of the surprise party.

We had a wonderful waiter, we all ordered from the menu and had a delightful visit as we ate our delicious food, drank coffee, and ate from the huge cake the staff so wonderfully presented. It was so big, we had 8 boxes left over.

Another large group in the room was celebrating a birthday, so Mike and Rebecca loosed one of the balloons from her bouquet, and Mike took it over to them and wished a happy birthday. A delightful aura of happiness and human good-will was the atmosphere that night. It was a great party for an exceptional person.

(All the birthday pictures are posted over on my flickr account.)