Children Courage Culture Friends My Family Photography Social

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.

untitled (4 of 52)untitled (5 of 52)untitled (7 of 52)

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.

Christianity/Religion Friends Goodness of man Honor Life Pentecostal Photography Social

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.


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)………………………….ย ย  Three Precious Croniesย ย  ………………………………..

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

untitled (4 of 26)

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.

untitled (6 of 26)

Apple Computers Blogging computers Culture Internet Macs Photography Social Uncategorized Writing

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.


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.

Food Life My Family My Home Photography Social

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

Goodness of man My Family Photography Social

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ ) 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.)

Death Grief Life Money Photography Social

Treasure This Moment

Walter Samaszko was 69 years old and lived in Carson City, Nevada. He also died there, alone, and it was more than a month before anyone noticed that he had gone missing. Walter Samaszko was a “loner,” who didn’t trust many people. He lived frugally. In his checking account was $200.00.

But after neighbors notified authorities that something seemed wrong, and after his decaying body was found, it was determined that his house must be sold. As workers were preparing for the sale, an astonishing discovery was made: Hidden within the house were boxes of gold bars and gold coins worth at least 7 million dollars.

When I read this story a couple of days ago, I was struck by its sadness, for here, from all accounts, was a man who was afraid of life, (even afraid to go to the doctor for fear of dirty needles) and who instead of enjoying travel and museums and hobbies and philanthropy hoarded his gold bars–and died intestate–totally alone. A solitary cousin has been found, who after the government takes their large share of the estate, will inherit the wealth of Walter Samaszko.

(image from Getty)

Such a dynamic lesson is here for all of us: Let us treasure every moment of every day, and to the fullest extent of our ability take advantage of each benefit that comes to us, without waiting for something better, or something perfect, or something greater.

Every season of our life is precious, but is of quicksilver and is fleeting. Should our hands wait to caress the jewel of this second, when we reach again, only vapor may be there . . . and a memory of chance long past and opportunity forever gone.

My Family My Home Photography Social

Mike and Mel’s 22nd!

Of course they could spend the night was my response when Michael called a few days ago. “We would love it.”

Mike and Melina are celebrating their 22nd wedding anniversary and he had planned a secret trip–to San Diego. “What sort of clothes should I pack,” Melina had asked him.

“Something for the beach.”

I’ll spare you the report of their trip from Lake Havasu, and her finally understanding they were heading for her in-laws’ house, (What? our anniversary!) but it was just for the evening where I had planned a special dinner for them, and where we had a great evening, a wonderful visit, and a fine meal which we ate on the back deck. Jerry splendidly grilled and made a beautiful presentation of luscious salmon, finished with a raspberry-orange balsamic glaze. This morning bacon and eggs . . . and now they’re gone to their real anniversary celebration at the Marina Marriott in San Diego.

I’m wishing this wonderful couple–these children of mine– every blessing of God and many more years together.

Arizona Firearms Photography Social

Yuma Territorial Prison (Day 10 Summer Road Trip 2012)

On July 6, 1876, the first seven inmates entered the Territorial Prison at Yuma and were locked into the new cells they had built themselves. Thus began the legend of the Yuma Territorial Prison. A total of 3,069 prisoners, including 29 women, lived within the walls during the prison’s 33 years of operation. Severe overcrowding forced its closure on September 15, 1909″ Source: facility brochure

We’ve visited Yuma several times, and although I had always wanted to do so, we had never visited the historic old town area, nor the quite famous Yuma Jail. Today we remedied that situation, and it has left me shaken. Sin is so awful, so painful, so ugly. Crime is devastating, and those who live such lives suffer greatly; their desperate histories that reveal their wretched lives have stirred up something very unpleasant in me. I’m bringing you a few pictures here and will most likely post several more at a later time.

I haven’t processed a picture good enough to post here of inside of the dark cell, (not sure I even can) but let me tell you about it, for it was this part of the jail that so unsettled me. It is nothing more than a dungeon, a cave where prisoners who were causing trouble within the system were thrust. The stay in the dark cell lasted from a few days to several months. The prisoners were fed with only bread and water. There was no furniture; the prisoners had to lie on the bare, cold floor where was the cruel ball and chain. There were no sanitary facilities at all. I am completely unable to assimilate such information. I do not believe I could survive such punishment, but would fold in on myself and die. God help me if I’m ever faced with such a situation.

Perhaps it is a cliche to compare physical chains, locks, and imprisonment to the spiritual chains, locks, and imprisonment satan has inflicted on humanity, but cliche or no, such comparisons beg to be heard–often. Bondage by satan is ghastly, pervasive, and real. The frightening shackles I saw today are as nothing compared to the shackles whose horror is concocted in hell.

This is an image of one of the regular cells where six prisoners were housed. The place was filthy and rampant with vermin. The prisoners bathed once weekly.

Christianity/Religion Family Lake Havasu My Family Photography Social

Evin’s 15th

Evin is cool, a polite young man, my oldest great-grandchild. Yesterday was his 15th birthday and we celebrated with a little family dinner at Dolce, an Italian eatery, Evin’s favorite here in Lake Havasu.

His parents presented him with a new jet ski, and had already spent a couple of hours on the lake playing around in the water with the new toy.

“Brody, you’ll understand later. It’s like this being 15!”

Brody is 4 and having a celebration of his own on Thursday evening. He’s graduating pre-school! I admired his mom as she polished his manners and refused to talk to him as long as he had a whiny voice. He is beautiful and with a little coaxing sang part of a piece from the graduation ceremony. I picked up a few words…”we have worked hard…”

Proud daddy Ryan beamed from the head of the table.

Grandpa and Evin.

Grandma and Evin

As we prepared to leave, I watched Evin walk over to thank his Pappy for the gift and for helping him celebrate. I was touched, thinking of the life-challenges that inevitably Evin will face. I love him. Prayed for him at that moment, and do so now.

Food Friends Humor Photography Social

Facebook, Friends, Shrimp Creole . . . and Paula Deen

Started out this morning, when contemplating dinner preparation, I pled on Facebook for a delicious recipe using the shrimp, bell pepper, and onion I had on hand. Friends came to my rescue and I decided on Shrimp Creole, using a recipe from Paula Deen.

When I went to the cupboard for the canned tomatoes I thought I had, I found I had none, only tomato sauce. I substituted a chopped fresh tomato and added a splash of water.

“Can you help me out,” I asked Jerry.

He looked up from the work he was doing in the study, followed me into the kitchen where he measured out the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. (The reason for him doing it, of course, was so I could snap a picture. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Chefs, especially those who specialize in French and/or Cajun cooking, refer often to a mixture of vegetables as the holy trinity. Equal amounts of chopped onion, bell pepper and celery claim the title, and when I tossed these vegetables into the hot olive oil in my iron skillet, cooked them until they were soft, then added the chili power, the mixture did indeed caramelize. The aroma carried a hint of heaven, a slight hint to be sure, but it was there.

At this point, I plopped everything except the shrimp into my small crock pot, and it began its three-hour simmer, rather quickly giving off a tantalizing aroma.

I set the table, steamed the rice, made a salad, cleaned the shrimp, poured our drinks, then added the shrimp to the simmering pot. Three minutes for the shrimp just did not seem long enough to me; I let them cook for about 10 minutes . . . perfect. I only had a pound of shrimp, and although the recipe called for a pound and a half, there was plenty of shrimp. Jerry had two helpings, I had one, and there is enough left for two small servings.

I will be printing out this recipe and placing it in my recipe notebook. It is delicious! Wouldn’t change a thing. Cheers to friends, especially to those on Facebook who came to my rescue this morning . . . and well, to Paula Deen.