My Home Photography Weather/Nature

Birds of Crestline and of the Jungle

Humming bird in flight on red rose, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

A significant appeal of living here in the San Bernardino Mountains, some of which I wrote yesterday, is the wildlife. Many varieties of birds frequent our yards and sometimes we consult bird guide books as we try to identify them. We have feeders which work out well, except that we have so many squirrels, beautiful squirrels, fat ones, and with long bushy tails.The squirrels drive Jerry crazy. They won't leave the bird food alone, climb right into the feeders and dig around, while eating prodigiously. They flick their feather-duster tails, and fling bird food to the ground. Last year, Jerry decided to outsmart the critters, fastening around the post that holds the main feeder, a thin sheet of galvanized metal. It kept those rascals out not at all. They easily scamper up the metal and help themselves to the tasty morsels. I love the squirrels, but I have to admit they annoy me sometimes, for they delight in digging in my flower pots, burying acorns, nibbling on petals, and then they paw around as they try to find the acorns they buried. Their memories must be abysmal. They're quite tame, often come on our deck while we sit there, and I believe they would eat from our hands. We don't chance that, though, for fear of a friendly nip.

Two varieties of blue birds come often into our yards: Stellars and scrub jays. The scrubs are so friendly they eat peanuts from our hands. Once, as he was reading the paper, one of them flew onto Jerry's shoulder–scared the liver out of him. Humming birds come often, and I spied this one as she sipped nectar from a rose. She lingered, flew away, then returned to feed again.

Yesterday, I discovered a most remarkable video of a bird. The Lyrebird is a jungle bird who amazingly mimics other birds and human sounds. It is an awesome three or four minute film. The sounds that come from this bird are astonishing. Among others, you will hear a camera winding, a chainsaw, and a car alarm–all coming from the throat of a bird.

Photography Weather/Nature

Jack and His Bear

Jack and His Bear, an AP photo originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

Okay, here it is. The picture of Jack watching his treed bear. Read the story in the following post.

Children My Home Photography Social Weather/Nature

Cats, Bears and Trees

There are many bears in California, and their population is greatly increasing. In 1985, it is estimated there were 5,000; today there are 35,000. Many of them live in the San Bernardino Mountains, and residents here in Crestline occasionally have them wander into their yards. I have never seen any on our street since we have lived here, although Bill reported seeing one cross between our houses last year. Walk through a portion of the woods at the end of our street and you come out in Thousand Pines, a Christian Conference Center. Sometimes we extend our walk through their camp, especially if the grandchildren are here. Once as we did so, one of the workers stopped us and said, "There's a bear right down the way. He's in a culvert sleeping." Adventurous soul that I am, I wanted to go closer. Jerry, wise man that he is, and leader of us all, said simply, "No." …and we headed home. A couple of years ago, a Mama and two babies wandered through the streets of toptown Crestline. Our bears are called black bears, although they are actually a dark brown color. Their weight ranges from 150 to 300 pounds, but they have been known to weigh as much as 600 pounds.

I've told you we have a few cats around here–the tabby kind, although I hear we also have wild cats in the woods. Mary's cat wanders through the neighborhood and occasionally I see one or two others. We have many coyotes, so sometimes household cats don't do too well, left to run free around here. I have mentioned Nancy's two beautiful cats who are so pampered, their precious little feet have never touched the ground.

But I have not heard that in our neighborhood is a cat even closely resembling Jack, the 15 pound orange and white tabby who recently chased a bear up a tree. You heard me right. Yes, chased a bear up a tree. When I heard this AP story yesterday, I resolved to share it with you.

Sat Jun 10, 5:52 PM ET

WEST MILFORD, N.J. – A black bear picked the wrong yard for a jaunt, running into a territorial tabby who ran the furry beast up a tree — twice.


Jack, a 15-pound orange and white cat, keeps a close vigil on his property, often chasing small animals, but his owners and neighbors say his latest escapade was surprising.

"We used to joke, 'Jack's on duty,' never knowing he'd go after a bear," owner Donna Dickey told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Friday's editions.

Neighbor Suzanne Giovanetti first spotted Jack's accomplishment after her husband saw a bear climb a tree on the edge of their northern New Jersey property on Sunday. Giovanetti thought Jack was simply looking up at the bear, but soon realized the much larger animal was afraid of the hissing cat.

After about 15 minutes, the bear descended and tried to run away, but Jack chased it up another tree.

Dickey, who feared for her cat, then called Jack home and the bear scurried back to the woods.

"He doesn't want anybody in his yard," Dickey said.

Bear sightings are not unusual in West Milford, which experts consider one of the state's most bear-populated areas.

Any of you run into bear problems in your yard, call me and I'll give you Jack's number.

My Home Weather/Nature

Dancing Underground

In retrospect, I see the clues that should have caught my attention earlier, but it was only a few days ago that I actually figured out what has developed under the turf here in the mountains of Crestline. The animals are partying. Tell you how I know. For one thing, my flowers are disappearing. I recognize now that the animals are using them to decorate for their festivities.

It was five years ago that we moved into this house –in the dead of winter–between snow storms. Came springtime, in the front yard, tall iris stalks rose from the dead earth, and I waited eagerly for blooms. There were none and every year I watched and there were none–until last year. Then from those stately stalks, burst purple irises–so dark they ran to black. Meticulously, we tended them, and, when I thought Jerry couldn't hear, I whispered words of instruction and encouragement. There is something regal about an iris, high-standing, they start out with sturdy shoulder but then the flower is not quite sure it wants to be that high, and so their petals bend inward and flutter together as though they were elegant old friends…mumbling and muttering. They bloomed again this year and I gazed and calculated and then the next day as I gazed and calculated, I noted one to be missing. Not wilted, or knocked over or bent down–missing.

Before we moved to Crestline, I had never met a gopher. I had heard of them, and clearly recall Jerry fuming about the lawns being ruined at our church property and what should they do… But none made house calls in our neighborhood, so all those years, I missed making the acquaintance of even one gopher. The neglect was readily ameliorated our first year here. I believe the word rippled through the underground that throughout my earlier life I had been bereft of gopher contact. Many came and left their cards.

Once, through a window, I saw a recently planted flower begin to shake in the wind. Problem was, there was no wind. Puzzled, I scanned oak trees for leaf flutter, but none stirred–the day was still and hot. Before my eyes, the plant grew perceptibly shorter, a fairytale, a reverse Jack-In-The-Beanstalk. Then the plant was gone, not bent over, not broken, not wilted–gone.

The gophers have scouted about. They have counciled and designated our neighborhood the place to be. The new Hollywood, the new Central Park. The MacDaniels live across the street, and the other day Ken came home with two tall fan-like objects. "What are those?" Jerry asked.

"They're for the gophers," Ken snarled as he affixed them to the earth.


"Yes, Gophers. I found these at Harbor Freight. Lady there said they are a marvel. The fans set up a vibration, the gophers don't like it, so they move away." (Probably move into our yard, I thought, when I heard the story.)

We get a fair amount of wind up here and Ken's two fans looked kinda cute, the blades whirling in his garden, clearly visible from our dining room window. "Think I'll get a couple of those fans," Jerry muttered last week as he dropped in some choice food and closed yet another gopher hole. (Eighty-two year old Bill next door goes for the jugular with steel traps.)

"Are the fans working out, Ken? Think I'll get me a couple."

"Don't bother, Jerry." A sheepish grin spread over Ken's sweet face. "I don't think it helps a lick!"

Over my garden, flowers continue to disappear, and finally, I have figured it out. The fans are banging out underground music and my flowers are supplying the decorations and the snacks. Beneath the turf in Crestline, grinning gophers are dancing away as they throw extravagant parties. They've chosen the tastiest food and the most elegant of floral arrangement. Come party's end, they gather chairs, bring out the notebooks, stick pencils behind their ears, and aggressively plan for advancement.

Blogging Children Christianity/Religion Medical/Technical My Home Photography Social Travel Weather/Nature Writing

The Face of This Blog

I surely can’t locate it for you, but somewhere during my extensive reading yesterday, I came across a gentleman’s writing in which he addressed his disappointment at the lack of personal blogs. “Used to be more,” he said, “but now there are few. I like personal blogs,” he continued as he went on to describe his enjoyment of sharing in the day of a blogosphere resident.

When I began writing here at WordPress, I was asked to describe the weblog and tell of its intent and purpose. It was hard for me to find a category that was a perfect fit. Would it be music, travel, social, family, religious, photography, political, bookish, medical, technical? (the technical question was easy: NO 🙂 ) Finally, at least in my mind, I decided I was writing a personal blog. And, now, as a seasoned blogger (I wonder, though, can just over three months of blogging earn the title seasoned blogger?), I am satisfied to call my blog a personal one.

However, I’m not sure yesterday’s writer would agree that my blog is personal, for a fair amount of these pages contains material about God, politics, family, photography, travel, medicine, current events, the sciences and the weather. I plead not guilty, though, of addressing the technical, and think I have spoken little of music and books, except for the Bible.

Since I am unaware of a tight definition of such, I persist, however, that this is a personal blog. I feel safe enough, for I have never heard that Matt of WordPress roves this nebulous sphere, and, in a wily mode, snatches away the page of such writer as would dare hold forth on ideas that reside outside his or her self-designated bailiwick.

Oh, yes, this is a personal blog. It is a blog of me, my ideas, my family, my fellow bloggers who both agree and disagree with me, my politics, my faith, my God, my beautiful grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and Jerry, my husband of 50 years, my 4 accomplished children, my home, my charming town of Crestline, my friends, my joys, my sorrows, my fears and concerns, my insight, my ethics, the lessons I’ve learned, the course corrections I’ve made, my warnings, my teachers, my speaking and traveling and Bible reading, my church, the preachers in my life, my garden, my defense of the Gospel, and my pride in my country, even as I acknowledge its imperfections.

Oh yes, this is a personal blog. For a person is not an empty form, nor a vacant entity. Rather, a person is a being of life, of thoughts, ideals and of mission.

Tags: blog, blogging, personal+blog, WordPress, blogosphere,

Children Food My Family My Home Weather/Nature

Why Rice Krispies Go Snap, Crackle, Pop!

(Edit November 11, 2006. It appears that part of this article has disappeared into the nethers. Sorry about that. )
Suggestions that explain this noisy cereal.

Well, why not? I have five visiting youngins’ today, one wanted oatmeal, but dry cereal won out. I pulled out the boxes, and, with great consideration, these breakfast cereal affectionados made their gourmet choices. Alas, not a box of Rice Krispies on the place, although there were other crunchy morsels upon which they chomped.

Lunch will be better. Still a nip in the air, but it’s bright and sunny, besides, lots of community jackets, caps, mittens and boots reside year round here at Granny’s. When the youngsters come, they, with particular discernment, pick what they need. Works great. In addition, we have planned ourselves a picnic. Just inside the woods at the end of our street will be our dining spot. We’re hauling everything in by wooden wagon, its sides outfitted with red sideboards.

read more | digg story

Blogging Travel Weather/Nature

Amazing photographs of rainbow

I thought I'd seen my share of amazing rainbow photographs until I saw this one.

Majestic and unspeakably grand, the rainbow is at once a source of beauty and of mystery. Merely by His Word, or perhaps with a wave of Spirit Hand, God set them.


"This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

I do set my bow in the cloud…and it shall come to pass…that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

And I will remember my covenant…and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh."

The Genesis

(Please click on this link to see these spectacular pictures. They load very fast.)

read more | digg story

My Home Weather/Nature

Gripped by the Fist of Winter

It was raining a bit when Jerry and I tucked ourselves in our downy den last night. He drifted off first, making gentle sleep noises. For awhile, I lay quite still, listening to the wind as it blew from the lake, bustled through the lanes and roads, then slapped up the hill where sets our house.

Around 3:00, we both awoke to the sound of pelting rain and punching wind. I knew Jerry was awake, for I heard him mutter his displeasure as he buried deep into the covers. He's sick of winter.

At 5:30 when I arose, I pulled the front blinds, and stared into thick fog…and across the way, white roofs. Looking more closely, I saw our lawn was again white, with a thin layer of totally unpredicted snow. The thermometer hanging outside the kitchen window read 31 degrees.

He has a robust fist, this man called winter '06. He arrived late, but has pulled up an easy chair, poured himself a drink, and thrown off his shoes. He likes it here.

Uncategorized Weather/Nature

Proof for Unbelievers…and the rest of you!

There may be a way to do it, but I cannot see how to insert a hyperlink here. Help, someone.

For proof of the storm, go to, click on gallery, then on March 2006 Storm.

Let me hear from you, believers and unbelievers!


Unbelievers, the Snow Storm and Nikon

After my post yesterday, someone emailed, demanding proof I had survived such a storm. "Surely, you have pictures?" she said, and proceeded to suggest the rearrangement of this beautiful blog page to include said photos.

The conversation is a perfect springboard to talk of my new camera. But first: No, I don't have pictures of the wondrous storm, although I have a few snow shots, taken many days after hearty shoveling and strong sun melting had occurred.

Any who are involved with fairly serious photography have surely, in recent years, considered the relative differences between film and digital photographic images. The conclusion of such a discussion generally gives the edge to film cameras, although in recent years and months, such improvement has been made in the digital mode, and it has so many advantages, that most agree digital is now the preferred way. My friend Martha Fertado who is a professional photographer indicated that digital seems to be the wave of the future. The thought has been advanced that someday in the future there will be no such thing as film.

Anyway, here I was in the middle of this conversation, far from a professional, but having always enjoyed photography and for many years, owning expensive 35 mm cameras. I always had Minoltas, and was extremely happy with them. About ten years ago, through circumstance whose details I will not discuss, my camera–bag, lenses and all–was left on a commercial plane. Several of us were traveling together, I missed it right away, and reported it at the airport where we deplaned. It was never seen again.

Jerry bought me a new camera–a Nikon this time. It was model N50, their entry level, I believe, and we have had a fair amount of problems with it, including expensive repairs. Enter the digital/film discussion, here a few years later. My thinking was we had so much money invested in camera and lenses, that I hesitated to buy a digital camera, although the ability to immediately see the picture taken especially intrigued me. Bottom line: If more repairs became necessary, we would buy a new digital camera.

Toward the end of February, during our trip to the Bay Area, our camera suddenly stopped functioning. It seemed stuck with the shutter closed. Changed batteries, etc. Nothing, then a string of zeros appeared in the readout area. Strange.

The snow came: No camera. I was dying to take pictures. Nada.

After Jerry came home from San Diego, he conversed with Andrew who has been checking out cameras and Andrew suggested the D50 Nikon…seemed to be the best buy…some specials were running…we could use our same lenses…A few days later in the mail came my new camera!

I have been in the throes of finishing Link to Excellence, so I have not done much photography, but I'm itching to get at it. The camera was surprisingly easy to begin using.

So: No, I do not have snow pictures, but I do have a new Nikon camera (purchased with the money a very generous church group gave me for speaking. You know who you are.) Any who pass this way and have digital tips for me, I'd love to hear from you.

Thought-provoking postscript: I was reading the Nikon manual in bed last night before I went to sleep and came across this interesting bit of information: "In extremely rare instances, unusual characters may appear in the control panel and the camera may stop functioning. In most cases, this phenomenon is caused by a strong external static charge. Turn the camera off, remove and replace the battery, and turn the camera on again…. If the problem persists, press the reset switch and then reset…"

Hmmm…makes me wonder about the old Nikon since it was showing a string of zeros…although I did change the battery…I don't know if it has a reset switch. Will check.