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Animals Christianity/Religion Crestline Devotionals dogs God Life Photography Shih Tzus Weather/Nature

Leash

20150219-untitled (35 of 45)Usually I walk Winston along our street, sometimes going into the woods that is a part of Thousand Pines Christian Conference Center here in Crestline. Yesterday, though, I put him in the car and drove the mile or so down to Lake Gregory, where, in an area near the San Moritz Lodge, we accomplished our morning walk.While he nudged small stones, and snuffled around fallen leaves, trying to sniff out at least one of the myriad animals who prowl about the area, I reveled in the day. Getting on toward the end of February, the weather should be described as storms of snow and rain; instead we’re having Spring, and although I’m wanting the cold weather, I’ve decided (since I can do nothing about the amount of heat or cold that stacks up about me) to enjoy these gorgeous days, and to avoid too much whine about the other stuff.

Winston walks on a leash. A leash that I control. I snap it on him, and take it off him. I’m in charge of Winston, and I tell him where we’re headed, when to go, and when to stop. Sometimes he obeys me. Others times not. Sometimes he doesn’t want to come for the leash and he’ll dance around, and tease, but before we head out for the walk, he is securely tethered by his leash–the leash that is in my hand.

20150218-untitled (2 of 45)I  wear a leash too. Despite, though, how closely you look about my neck or how thoroughly you peer about my shoulders, you will not see my harness. It is invisible, rests easily about me, yet is highly effective. I’ve worn my leash a long time now, and should it slip away, should it be lost, I would suffer. My leash is of The Spirit. My leash is the Holy Ghost. I cherish this restraint, for it guides me through this very treacherous life, along roadways littered with stumbling stones, through neighborhoods of evil report.

With David, I cry:

Prepare my goings in your paths and do not let  evil rule over me. Psalm 119:133 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

And to my Savior, I lift my hands, and extend my body for the leash for He has said:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go. Psalm 32:8

20150218-untitled (3 of 45)We care deeply for Winston, we provide for him, we pamper him. Despite being the smart little rascal he is, without us he would lose his way. One day he would frolic away to the camp or to the lake, not remembering the coyotes that prowl our woods and our streets, nor the occasional huge cat who might very well rest in the limb above his furry little head.

20150219-untitled (40 of 45)Sometimes he’s in danger and has no sense of it at all.

And so Winston wears a leash, as do I. For sometimes I’m in danger, sometimes I head toward the wrong path, sometimes ungodly creatures lie in wait for me, but I’m safe, for I yield to the leash.

My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled. Psalm 17:5

Categories
America Animals California Life My Family Photography Weather/Nature

A Day of Curiosity

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john Dewey said it:

The curious mind is constantly alert and exploring, seeking material for thought, as a vigorous and healthy body is on the qui vive for nutriment. Eagerness for experience, for new and varied contacts, is found where wonder is found. Such curiosity is the only sure guarantee of the acquisition of the primary facts upon which inference must base itself.

I admit to the owning of a hefty portion of inquisitiveness, to the extent that Jerry has sometimes grown impatient with me if I wander off when a group of us is exploring a new city or a fresh countryside, afraid I’ll get lost or someone will nab me! 🙂 Yesterday our electricity was to be off for four hours while a new pole was installed behind our house, so I decided on a roaming about the mountains shindig, and Jerry was persuaded to come along with me, as was Winston.

During our trek I became hungry, fast-food places are scarce here in the San Berdoos, so while I was in the market to pick up a few groceries, I snagged a few items. We would have a picnic! In Lake Arrowhead after driving down a steep road that came to a dead end and doing a turn around, I spied wild apple trees. I stopped the car, grabbed my camera and leashed up Winston for a romp. I shook the tree, but nothing fell, so all I left with were pictures. Our picnic area overlooked both Lake Arrowhead and tiny Papoose Lake. No one else was in the area where we were, except that when we first arrived, I saw a gentleman across the road walking his two large dogs.  The day was glorious, our food was fresh, the ambiance remarkable.

It was while I was photographing the gigantic pine cones that Jerry called. “There’s an eagle.” I pointed my camera skyward and caught a shot of this majestic bird as he dipped and wheeled through the magnificent sky.

I also inquire in my mind, and though I would never think of embarrassing anyone, I would love to know why anyone would mutilate his body as has the young man pictured above. We saw him on our first stop of the afternoon trek at a vintage car show where he was displaying the most unusual Volkswagen that runs on, of all things, smoke from burning wood. (I’ll post more of this later.) But why? Why do people want to appear this way?

Right away, there will be some who reject my right to question this action implying that I am judging him, and that I have no right. I’m beginning a thorough study of scripture that warns against our judging others, thinking there surely is a time when we are to be distressed about actions we see around us. Jesus did. Plaited a whip and went into the temple and overturned the tables where deception and dishonesty were being paraded. I’m not suggesting that because of his appearance this young man has low morals or is dishonest. Not at all. I am suggesting that such an appearance likely will make it difficult for him to be gainfully employed.

I’m worried about our country. Concerned about morals and deceit and downward spiraling. I’m curious, so while I fling about the countryside enjoying the splendor, tromp with my great dog through dusty paths, and watch eagles wing and hover overhead, I am thinking. I am gravely concerned.

Categories
Apple Computers Books/Library Life Weather/Nature Writing

At Least This: One More Dawn

I am but a pilgrim, a rather pitiful one at that, certainly not a sage. So when an isolated few pitch honor my way by consulting me and by speaking of my wisdom, I cringe, for of my extreme incompetence am I aware. I shudder, really I do, to consider what a mess this world is in if I am among the wise, except perhaps if it is understood that I am standing on the bottom rung of such a group. For I easily recall the thinness of the pool of wisdom from which I draw.

At least in one thing, however, do I admit to wisdom, that one thing being the acknowledgement of the wonder and the glory of dawn–the awakening to one more day on this earth.

From my unpublished novel, THE SOUL OF ABRAM CLARK

Fingers of dawn began their scribble over the dark sky, and the sun pulled up the edge of night so that paint of pink and blue filled the sky. Now between the trees could be seen the changeling sky, as its fresh self took to the day, its glow serving to note one more night’s survival.

. . .and from another chapter.

He moved along the trail and now a hint of rising sun played on the canyon walls, the inky blue of midnight having grayed to dawn. A watercolor pallet of sunrise threw its tones about the walls and the hues of the rock named the light and became burnt tangerine and creamy raspberry. Abram snapped the shutter of his camera with such rapidity the buffer filled and he must stop to let the processor catch up. By the second, the light changed and the monuments and temples of stone moved forward and backward as the sun rose ever higher, and shadows came, and then reformed.

Few persons had risen so early. The quiet trail led to a widening of the canyon where in a spot that claimed a panoramic view a bench had been placed. Abram sat. A haunting mood took him and he knew the throaty notes of a flute should whisper, or should be heard the plucked strings of a harp.

Then the sun tipped all the way over the eastern edge of the vista and the sky striped itself crimson. Ice glittered on the trees and a veritable world of magic had been struck.

——————

More than a year ago, I finished the first draft of this novel and made feeble attempts to get the attention of an agent and/or a publisher with no positive results. (My attempts were so feeble that, sorry to say, I didn’t even follow up on all leads I was given. 😦 See I told you I’m not very wise.) Since then the book has been simmering in my mind, on the hard drive of my MacBook, and printed out on white pages, punched, and inserted into a leather binder. Today, I finished one more draft and believe I have polished the book to the highest sheen of which I am capable. The book is an excellent one, and I plan to try to get it published.

Would love to hear feedback from you!

Categories
Animals Children Crestline Lake Gregory Life Photography Recreation Weather/Nature

A Walk at Lake Gregory

Image This is one of my favorite places down at the lake and I can’t calculate the times I have lifted my camera and snapped my shutter for another picture. When I walked there a couple of days ago, a duck couple swam lazily, the elegant male lounging about in the center where I could easily photograph him, while his busy little lady was dipping and tucking, many times only her brown tail feathers visible, as she gathered lunch

ImageSpring flowers have shot through the warming earth, shafts of color that tell the new season.Image

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This was only the second day I had walked Winston very far around the lake and I had expected him to bark at the ducks, but he didn’t; merely starred at them as they paddled about, then flew high, and skidded again into the cold water.ImageImageI thought of my grandchildren as I walked, and a lacy throw of sadness fell about me–not too heavy–but there, for they’re much older now, and situations have changed, and I don’t have them up here as much as in years before.

The grounds around the lake were filled with picnicking families, and a couple of ball games were in progress. Once I heard behind me a little voice say, “Granny,” and even though on some level I knew that call was not for me, I turned, a miniscule flash of hope thinking maybe some of them have made a surprise visit, but the child was not mine.

A foursome ran by Winston and me, three eight or nine year old little girls followed by a boy about the same age, who couldn’t quite keep up. He yelled–seemingly to save his pride. “I’m not running as fast as I can.” I grinned. Winston tugged on his leash. He too wanted to run through this glorious spring day.

Winston didn’t want to leave when we arrived back at the car; instead lay as an unmoving lump on the pavement, so I gave in, and walked a short distance away into a wooded area near a parking lot. I sat down on a large rock. Winston lay beside me, and we watched the people as they parked their cars and pulled fishing poles, picnic hampers, and balls and bats from their vehicles.

Two little boys raced up the incline where we sat and ran past us. In a minute I felt a gentle poke on my shoulder. When I turned I was looking into the face of a six-year-old or so boy. He pointed to the parking lot where a bright red bike sat. “That’s a dirt bike.”

“Sure is. Can you ride a dirt bike?”

“Yes, mine is blue and orange.”

“Where’s your mom,” I asked him. “I want to take your picture.”

“No pictures.” He yelped and grinned and raced down the hill to his family.

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Winston and I sat a while longer, then we walked to the car, and I drove the few minutes it takes to reach our home. Winston napped the rest of the afternoon.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Christianity/Religion Death The World Weather/Nature

Devastation in the Philippines

The group of Islands called The Philippines is dear to my heart. Several years ago Jerry and I joined with others to minister in Cebu City and in Manilla, and those beautiful people won our hearts. While Jerry was in rehab after his terrible accident, the majority of his nurses were Phillipinos . . . and we came to love them deeply. Now, again–just weeks after a 7.2 earthquake–the islands have been struck with a major disaster. The AP reports: “ALL SYSTEMS ARE DOWN’: Death, destruction after Philippines typhoon.

OFFICIALS IN THE Philippines say that as many as 10,000 people may be dead in Tacloban, above, while 300 are confirmed dead on another island after one of the strongest storms in history swept through the archipelago.”

I am acquainted with Apostolic ministers and saints in both the UPCI and the WPF, and today I grieve for these people. One of my sons, Steve Buxton, does extensive church work on the island of Bohol. Please join with me in concerted prayer for all those who are suffering this Sunday morning. The Red Cross and other such organizations are making appeals for help today.

In this day of instant communication, the world is small, and so quickly we learn of the plight of our fellows. Of one blood are we all made. These are my brothers who at this moment suffer. I care, and I’m sure you do also.

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‘ALL SYSTEMS ARE DOWN’: Death, destruction after Philippines typhoon

Photo from AP

Categories
Christianity/Religion Conferences/Seminars God My Home Photography Weather/Nature

The Cusp of Wonder

Edgy. I live on the edge, the glorious edge, where every day I am astonished—I never take it for granted—at the beauty, the success, the hint of the hereafter that surround me. For in all areas of my life I find myself balanced on the cusp of wonder. Rising from my bed in the predawn hours of the newest day, I finagle my clothes, flip on the coffee pot, and settle into my favorite chair in the dining room with its wide windows that look across the chasm of Lake Gregory to the untitled (4 of 4)trees of the alpine forest that rise as a standing army on the other side. I read, think, pray, write, contemplate, cry sometimes, and frequently take on a heavy feeling of compassion and concern, and my chest compresses, and at times my heart breaks, but there is nothing I can do about that. I smile occasionally, though, at what I read, and sometimes at my own thoughts. Jerry comes and I pour his coffee, or he pours his own, and he sits in his chair . . .

“It’s just over 70 miles to Palmdale,” was the first thing I said to him this morning as he stood by the coffee pot, “but it will take us about two hours to get there.” He sweetly grunts, (his becoming fully awake is a slow process that can’t be rushed) and hugs and kisses me.

Other points of wonder around me go to political insanities which daily assault my listening ears, disappointment that my beautiful squash plants produced only gigantic yellow blossoms but no zucchini or yellow squash, and discussions with Jerry about buying some kind of screen to secure over the tubs and pots where I will untitled (3 of 4)again plant spring-flowering bulbs. The screen bit is in hopes of keeping the mountain critters, throughout the winter, from filling their little bellies with dinners of un-blossomed tulips, hyacinths, and allium.

Drops of anointing will splash about me during the next many hours, for we are off to Lancaster today to help celebrate with Pastor Sean Manzano and his family the 7th anniversary of the founding of Rushing Wind Worship Center.

We’re leaving early–around noon–for I want to take a little time to photograph the Mormon Rocks and the trains that are always chugging around that area. The massive rock formation is named for a group of Mormons who traveled through the Cajon Pass in covered wagons on their way from Salt Lake to southern California. We’ll get to our hotel room in time to rest a bit before the service tonight.

I live on the cusp of wonder. Tonight I will sit with life-long friends in a congregation of Apostolic believers, and we will worship and sing and listen and talk. There will be a rush of the Spirit of God, and we will clap and rejoice, and around me will settle as points of light the holy presence of God.

We’ll be tired tonight, Jerry and I, and I will lie on my bed ready to fall asleep, and as I often do, I will think of the comfort of sleep and rest. . . and will anticipate the morning, another day on the edge of wonder.

 

Categories
America Culture Photography Recreation Travel Weather/Nature

Beautiful Balboa of San Diego

We were down in San Diego on Friday for dual purposes; to take care of business and to visit with our two children who live here. Jerry and Steve were busy with manly things, so with my sweet Nikon on the seat beside me in our white Jeep and with my feet snug in great shoes, I traced my way from the 54 W to the 5 N, took the Pershing Street exit 15 B, drove up a steep hill and entered the environs of beautiful Balboa Park. I spent two invigorating hours wandering about admiring, almost gasping sometimes at the splendor, and snapping my shutter numerous times.

Take a look at a few things I saw. Image

The surface of this reflecting pool was afloat with numerous lily pads and blossoms.

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The late afternoon sun slanted, lighting the flowers as though neon flared through their skin..

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Purple blossoms reared their stunning heads among the green circular pads.

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I turned a corner and saw bougainvillea trailing forward, back-lit by the receding sun, the outline of a mission the backdrop for the scarlet flowers.

We in Southern California are blessed by a plethora of magnificence . . . from the awe-inspiriting Pacific coast to our soaring mountains, not to mention man-made attractions such as Balboa with its varied museums and world-class zoo. Does anyone think we may forget to enjoy those things that are so close to us? I’m afraid I may be guilty of that. I’m not nearly as familiar with Balboa as I should be. It covers more than 1200 acres, which range from open trails to magnificent buildings such as some I have pictured here.

Where do you live?  . . . .Is there countryside you should explore? Ancient buildings you should tour? Do historical trails and battlefields lie nearby, or museums, or do stately courthouses line the streets of your Americana? What of the great cities, their alleyways, their trains and buses, their cathedrals? . . . Where do you live? Do you know the place? Sniffed its aroma lately, followed your nose to a neighborhood bakery, trained your eyes to see its grandeur. . . . I’m challenging you: Get out and about. One more thing . . . tell us about it, right here in a comment box. 🙂

Categories
Animals Crestline Flowers/Gardening Life Photography Weather/Nature

Ballet in the Woods

A movement on the rock–rock color, except that it moved, and I saw the scamper of tiny lizard. So small he was, I thought I might have stumbled onto a reptile maternity ward, for surely he must have only just cracked through his tiny egg. I read, too, that lizards may hatch early if a loud rumble or a heavy vibration circles up around the egg, and a sense of danger, the chance of predator, pervades. I hope I had not set up a rumble as I trudged up the small hill into the woods at the end of our street. Surely I did not cause a premature lizard birth this September morning–a morning of perfection, warm, with a faint brush of chill that had seen me to the closet for the first time this season to take out my jacket of lightest weight. I angled down my camera, but he was swift, and escape and hiding were encoded in his ancient reptilian brain, and anyway, he had escaped his crib already, and then he was at the side of the rock, and down, then into the thick grasses . . . and gone. I had not snapped my shutter, of such quickness were his movements.

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The low grasses wave, slender and graceful so that I see they are ballet dancers and the sunlight beams through their stems and fronds and highlights their heavy heads, heads that droop now with seed, precious seed, for therein is eternity. Unmistakable elegance, if one will pause long, and will stare at length; elegance, raw beauty, unmistakably a push against the dismissal of such as mere weeds.

The lizard, gone now, a skitter among the ballet.

Categories
Crestline Life My Home Photography Weather/Nature

Taking Up Autumn

They tell me the daytime hours and the nighttime hours are almost of the same duration on the day of the Autumn equinox, when our spinning globe, because of its slight tilt at the axis, waves in a new season. Now end the days of summer here in the northern hemisphere and we begin our steady approach toward winter. But today! it is fall . . . perhaps my favorite season. (Except that winter stuns me with its beauty, and spring bursting the earth in resurrection is astounding, and then there’s that languid warmth of summer and the lake and the birds . . . )

The ground over which I walk is familiar, and yet strange, for its paths now have lost the warmth of yesterday and my shoes must be of heavy sole to push against the fallen sticks and the acorns which fall from the oaks in abundance here in the San Bernardino mountains. Day and night we hear them–Jerry and I–as they lose their grip on their limbs, and a couple of times Jerry has been thumped, and once last week he said, “I would sit on the front deck with my coffee, but I’m afraid for my head,” for a breeze had struck through the trees. untitled (4 of 6)We drive our car over the long driveway to the sound of snare and the click of fine drum sticks. Jerry sweeps the deck and the driveway and sometimes blows the acorns down into piles where the driveway meets Wabern Court, and then he scoops them up with a shovel and ties up the heavy yard bag into which he has thrust them. I’m always wishing we could come up with a plan that would enable us to sell them by the gunny sack full, (but everyone around here has so many), or market acorn butter or wood floors for cabins. Something like that, but so far: Nothing. Except that years ago when my grandchildren were small and were up here visiting, I let them go to the neighbors and sell our exceptional acorns that look like little people wearing woody hats. “You can’t charge more than a nickle,” I instructed, as they stuffed them into plastic bags, and they came back grinning with quarters in their fists.

When I arose yesterday–the first day of fall–I peered at the thermometer which hangs outside my kitchen window and it read 43 degrees, a drastic drop from a few days before, as though the weather understood that the calendar had declared summer had ended. Our house is amazingly well-insulated, so it was not actually cold in here–67 degrees, I believe, but after he had been up for awhile Jerry said, “Want a fire?” untitled (1 of 10)And so the first fire of the season was laid and lighted, and as is my custom I gazed, entranced, into its flames and saw figures and dreams and had visions.

I’ve put away flimsy summery things, and last night before I went to bed, I removed the pink Chenille bedspread from the downstairs guest bed and replaced it with a much heavier covering, plus I’ve scrambled around in my cupboards exchanging out dishes. untitled (2 of 6)Now there probably is no such thing as fall and summer dishes, but during these days of early fall when I think of pumpkins and Indian corn, I get this urge to bring out my pottery, and to rub polish cloths against my copper pieces.

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Jerry and I will be taking our morning walk in a few minutes. It’s been awhile since we ventured into the woods at the end of Wabern Drive, but today–already I can tell–the intrigue of that curving path aflutter with weeds and leaves and the marks of little creatures just may lure me into its ways.

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New post on God Things here:

Categories
Animals Christianity/Religion Crestline My Home Photography Weather/Nature

The Sabbath Hummingbird

In twenty minutes it would be time to leave for Sunday morning worship. “I’m going down with my camera and watch the birds,” I told Jerry yesterday. “I’m ready to go when you are.”

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I settled myself in a lawn chair about eight feet from the wide bird bath where the timer had turned on the fountain and where the water was now softly bubbling. The morning was calm; perfect, with a temperature in the low 70s and with a breeze that caught in the high trees and that ruffled about the scarlet and pink and orange flower petals on the plants in the stone urns and in the hanging baskets. As I have done numerous time, I admired the lines and shadows of the bird bath with its flat water that was routinely interrupted by the bubbles that escaped from the top and fell below.

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Suddenly, it was there–a hummingbird, its beat of wings so rapid that it was beyond the comprehension of my eyesight, and so to me was a fluttering blur. The bird swooped, flew away, then back, then finally into the bowl, splashing about for its Sunday morning ablutions.

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I watched, then that jewel of a bird was gone.

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Do you recall that Scripture says God is aware of every sparrow that falls? ….really? I suspect then, that He sees me this morning, knows of my day, my challenges, the decisions I must make . . . my successes . . . my failures.

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New post on my photography blog: http://shirleybuxtonphotography.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/the-beauty-of-youth/