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.

Days 15 and 16 of 16 Days with the Grands *Preparations for Leaving*

The last two days of this great visit I encouraged the youngsters to be sure they had all their things gathered, so that they would leave nothing behind. I believe I have mentioned before that these grandchildren like to discuss what we will be having for meals. I had told them sometime before that on the 16th day, which would be Tuesday, we would have fried chicken. And so we did . . .along with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans (which they spurned !) and a green salad.

dsc_4564As she had for every meal we ate in the dining room while the youngsters were here, Ella set the table. She always does a fine job, setting the silverware properly and choosing cloth napkins to blend with the dishes we have chosen to use.

Andrew and Shawnna’s plane arrives in the late evening, so arrangements had been made that they would not come to our place until Wednesday morning, which was actually the 17th day.

On Wednesday morning, I did final laundry for them, spruced up the house, urged them to get their bags packed, and helped them remake the beds after I washed the sheets. Jerry had decided to smoke ribs for the big afternoon meal, and Rebecca and Nathaniel would join all of us. The day was warm; we set up tables on the back deck.

. . .and then they were here.

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I became distracted and got few photographs after that.

We spent several hours together before they had to leave, hearing a few of their adventures and seeing pictures of magnificent Hawaii on their computer. Andrew and Shawnna both have quite an artistic flair, and each of them produces beautiful photography. She uses a cell phone. Andrew has a Nikon. The youngsters told of their adventures, and Cole even snookered his dad into a game of checkers.

On the north shore of Oahu, actually within the sea, Andrew had the good fortune of finding a large piece of coral. He and Shawnna gifted his dad and me with this magnificent piece. . .and with this very touching card.

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And then they were gone.

It is quiet now. Too quiet.

 

Day 9 of 16 with the Grands *Disneyland!*

It was around 8:00 on Tuesday morning when hubby drove Ella and me down to connect with Rebecca and the boys. The Disneyland day had arrived; their gates opened at 10:00 and we didn’t want to miss one minute. It surprises me a bit, but Disneyland allows food to be taken onto their grounds, so we each had frozen bottles of water, and sandwiches, trail mix, granola bars and such were in the backpacks that were the order of the day.

img_0461The women.

img_0467-2The men.

The day was as perfect as any could be. Warm weather, but not too hot. Slightly humid.img_0516-2

img_0495The mouse ears. Love them and the little girl who wore them all day.

img_0496At the entrance Rebecca and I told the boys they could split off from us if they wanted, and as we spoke we decided on a place to meet later in the afternoon for a meal together. However, it worked out that in the early part of the day we were in the same places, in particular we entered the Haunted House together. Ella was terrified. Nathaniel was so sweet with her all day long. He hugged her up when she was so frightened, and often they walked hand in hand. Ella dearly loves her big cousin, Nathaniel.

img_0541I can ride these tea cups, whirl as fast as they go, and never feel a touch of dizziness. We had met up with a family from Rebecca’s church. London shared a cup with us.

Once when Cole and Brady were with us women and we talked of getting some food, the boys entered a food place where we were sitting outside. Somehow they thought they had to spend their own money for this meal and when I followed them in a few minutes later, Cole said, “I don’t think I want to eat here, Granny.” One slice of pizza was $8.00! We wandered around a bit, found a hamburger joint and ordered our food there; Cole’s hamburger and fries was $12.00!

“What do you want to drink?” I quizzed all of them. The drinks were nearly $4.00 each.

“We’ll get water out of the fountain and put in our bottles,” Cole said. I know I have mentioned it before but these grandchildren of mine are really exceptional; thoughtful and not greedy at all.

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It’s a bit strange, I suppose, but Pirates of the Caribbean has always been my favorite attraction at Disneyland. Ella loved it too, and we wound up going there twice. I think all together we covered most of the rides. I did not like Space Mountain. Too dark and loud. All the kids loved it.

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We closed the place down, and even the boys were  complaining with leg and foot pain before we got to the parking lot around 10:00. I chose to wear these not too beautiful tennis shoes, and at the day’s conclusion had only a little pain over one of my toes.

“Granny, those rainbow laces,” Cole had giggled when he saw my shoes early that morning.

It was a glorious day!

 

Day 2 of 16 with the Grands *Biscuits, Gravy, and Disneyland*

I “blew it” on the first day the youngsters were here, but I didn’t find out about the mistake I had made until the next day. When by snickering whispers, knowing looks, and finally a confession, I learned what I had done. I felt like poking every one of these three in the middle of their funniest bone to make them suffer. Happened this way:

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People who live here in southern California will probably find it hard to believe, but these youngsters of mine have never been to Disneyland. Never. Now I don’t believe they have suffered in any way for this lack of entertainment for they’re well adjusted friendly people, and don’t seem at all disadvantaged or in any way abused or neglected. 🙂 Anyway, I decided to treat them to such a trip while we are keeping them, ran the details by their parents, then ordered and printed out the tickets. It would be a secret, I decided. They would know we were going on a very special outing, and only when we arrived at the gates of the “happiest place on earth” would they know our destination to be Disneyland.

I was so excited. And so dumb. Left the tickets in full sight on the desk in the study; a desk that is not off limits, a desk where they are allowed to work, and to get tape, pens and such from its drawers.  Ella saw the tickets first, ran to tell Brady, then Cole saw them a few hours later. None of the little rascals right away said anything to me, but when I mentioned the secret trip they had blank looks on their faces, nodding wisely and sweetly. Finally Cole whispered to me, “We’re going to Disneyland, aren’t we Granny?”

“These youngsters of yours are little rats,” I later told Andrew on the phone.

“How did they find out?” he wanted to know. “Brady emailed me last night that they were going to Disneyland.”

Amidst slightly embarrassed laughter, I told the deed. And now you also know the saga of the almost secret trip to Disneyland.

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For breakfast on Tuesday we had biscuits and gravy, and when we were eating dinner, Brady said, “I love biscuits and gravy, Granny. We could have that for breakfast every day.”

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During these days we’re eating breakfast and lunch at the bar, and since we only have four bar stools I’m usually not sitting with the rest during these times. Love seeing Pappy with these special grands, hearing him say a prayer over the meals, or asking one of them to do so. Unforgettable, dear times.

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.

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.

Pennsylvania Trip–Part 5

Yesterday was our last day for major sightseeing, for today we’ll be going to church, then gathering all our things this afternoon, for tomorrow we leave for home.

imageFirst thing in the morning, from his kitchen downstairs, my brother carried up this fine specialty ham. Processed, and shipped from Spain, the meat is cured so that it requires no refrigeration. The thin slices are delectable.

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In Pittsburg, we climbed onto one of these amphibious Duck Boats, which we rode for a tour through the beautiful downtown area. The architecture is stunning, a fine mix of modern buildings, and aged classic structures. Then our driver drove down a ramp, and straight into the water, where we passed many people cavorting about, having fun on this beautiful day. Pittsburg boasts more than 450 bridges.

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Major rivers play a significant part of the city which sets among hills and high bluffs. During the major “steel” era, many inclines were constructed to aid in the transportation system. imageA couple of them are still operational. We clattered to the top, then we indulged in very fine dining. Our table was set next to wide windows which gave to one of the most magnificent city views I have ever seen. Truly, an experience.

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…………..and the setting sun played against the magnificent skyline.

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….and came the night.

Trip to Pennsylvania–Part 4

The setting of Duquesne University on the Ohio River near downtown Pittsburg makes for a stunning campus. Moriah, who is my brother’s granddaughter, obtained her BS in their nursing program. Yesterday we drove about the area, taking in the beauty of the river, and the rolling hills on which are set the fine buildings.imageimage

imageA joy of traveling are those moments when a chance encounter involves us for a brief moment in a significant part of a stranger’s life. Such was so yesterday as a wedding party stepped down the sidewalk beside our moving car. As I pushed my camera lens through the open window, the bride’s photographers looked at me and grinned.

imageThe culmination of our city prowl took us to South Side Works, a small square with shops, restaurants, and music by street performers. We traipsed through a fine kitchen store, then I sat on a bench and indulged in a bit of street photography.

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. . .then the evening food.

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Just before midnight I tumbled into bed . . .a wide smile on my face.

 

 

 

 

Pennsylvania Trip–Part 3 Rust and Pods

Well may you ask the connection between rust and pods, and further may you question the significance of a post about either of them. And I confess, I have no answer, except that something about each class intrigues me. What is it? The passage of time with its connection with our own lives? Durability? The charm of the flawed?

Near one of the stores where we shopped yesterday was an ancient gasoline pump. Broken. Rusted.  Beautiful. Its sides were pitted with decay.imageimage

In a clump beside the old pump was a stand of yellow flowers (black-eyed susans?) that with a flourish had shot up the side of the flawed metal.        .image

image   Its brand was legible.     imageNearby in the things of rust was a fence.imageChains and iron of decay.

Pods abound here on my brother’s property. I’m enchanted.image.imageimage

A Visit on the Bank of Greer’s Ferry Lake

Lots of life questions hound me, so that I am unsure of many things. Of this one subject, however, I am positive; my life has been unusually blessed by an outstanding, talented family, and by many friends who possess sterling qualities. Two such are the Rev. Jesse Emerson and his charming wife, LaDoyne. A couple of weeks ago, we were privileged to spend part of two days with them at their lovely home whose acreage leads down to the waters of Greer’s Ferry Lake in Clinton, Arkansas.

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Although Brother Emerson does preach from time to time, they no longer are in active ministry and feel blessed to have found this home where they can spend their retirement years.This giant cup holding a magnificent plant speaks to the theme of their lives–I could tell.

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20150321-untitled (46 of 67)Beautiful voices yet, with perfect harmony. At the end of the meal they sang a sweet song–something about where has our youth gone? We grinned and clapped.

20150320-untitled (17 of 67)She was pulling these from the oven when we arrived.

20150321-untitled (55 of 67)Under this magnificent tree, two white lounge chairs await the languid summer days when the Emersons sit and bask in the cool breeze off the lake. Their family often come to visit and to play in the water.

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20150320-untitled (34 of 67)We talked of sun rooms, and storms that ripped out windows, and looked at treasured old books. We spoke of our enduring friendship and recalled the long ago days of their preaching at our church when we pastored. We spoke of motor homes and recalled they lived in one for years as they crisscrossed the United States doing the work of an evangelist. We spoke of health issues and families and friends; of aging and of progress and of regression. Upstairs they have fitted out three rooms they refer to as the Prophet’s Chambers. Consisting of a tiny living room that looks to the lake, a minuscule kitchen, and a comfy bedroom, they open this area from time to time to missionaries and other ministers who need a place to stay for awhile, to catch their breath, to regain their equilibrium.

And then it was time to go, and we left with hugs, and smiles, and promises . . .to keep.

I cherish those days, and guard carefully my friendship with such dear and precious people. How truly blessed I am.

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And what of you? I would love to hear of your friendships–whether we have mutual ones, or you have others to tell us about.