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Birthday Number 86

Occasionally the celebration of a significant event aligns so well with the vision in my head that its conclusion brings about glowing chatter, face-stretching smiles, and a sated sense of perfection. Such were the days surrounding Jerry’s 86th birthday.

It began with The Nieces.


Three of them live in Louisiana, the other two in Texas. “We’d like to come out and visit Uncle Jerry for his birthday. Would that be a convenient time?”

Of course it would, so although I hadn’t planned to throw a party, that these dear ones would make that long trek to California certainly called for a major celebration. I told Jerry I had decided on a birthday party, but I told him nothing of the trip his nieces would be making. Debbie flew to San Antonio, Nita and Pam drove to the area in Texas of Linda and Sharon’s homes, where, with their mounds of luggage, they all piled into Linda’s van and headed west.


Rebecca and Holly beautifully decorated the room we reserved at The Claim Jumper in San Bernardino. The party was scheduled for 2:00 on Saturday and all the guests had arrived when I drove Jerry into the parking lot. My children knew of the secret guests, passed the word to the others as they arrived so that the only ones seated at the table when Jerry walked into the room were his dear nieces. He was stunned.

The party was perfect in every way. The food was delicious, pristinely presented, and served without a flaw. The guests consisted of a sweet mix of family, ministers, neighbors, and other friends from Crestline. During the meal various persons stood and in moving ways–sometimes humorous–spoke accolades to Jerry. It was a glowing, memorable afternoon.

Although we would be a bit cramped, the nieces and Michael and his wife went home with us, filling up all the guest rooms, and throwing down mats and blankets for sleeping. We had a blast.

Jerry opened his gifts.

DSC_9313We ate breakfast . . .and more meals. We went to Stater’s, bought a whole brisket, and Jerry cooked it all Sunday night. On Monday we feasted.

DSC_9315Some had to leave. Others came.

DSC_9343We did lots of this.



On Tuesday morning, these precious women headed home, to their families, to their jobs. They left behind magnificent memories of hugs and kisses, of deep and meaningful conversations, of  tender tears and of uproarious laughter. Jerry has said more than once, “I just can’t believe they drove all the way out here to celebrate my birthday.”

There are some really fine people in this world. Several of them belong to the Buxton family.


My Family

Birthday Doings

Michael’s birthday was on Thursday, the 4th, and we had made plans to meet him in San Diego for a few days, taking in the world-famous zoo, perhaps its sister facility, the Wild Animal Park, and in other ways enjoying the splendid world-class city. Remember Michael lives in Lake Havasu City, AZ, often the hottest place in the United States, and he and Melina were anticipating cool Pacific breezes, being totally eager for the nearly perfect Mediterranean climate of this magnificent southern California city. Guess what. On the day all of us drove into San Diego, we were met with record-breaking heat. National City, (a San Diego suburb) tied with Riverside as the hottest spot in the nation with a temperature of 101. Wild. Hotter here than in Lake Havasu!

But true to the area’s real nature, the temperature dropped nearly 15 degrees yesterday, affording us a pleasant day when we spent 5 hours at the zoo. If a gauge were concocted, that laid over our foreheads would measure the level of enjoyment, I wouldn’t be surprised if I turned out to be the winner. There was a nice group of us: Mike, the birthday boy and his wife, Melina, Andrew, Shawnna, four of their kidlets, and Jerry and I. We had a wonderful time. It was tiring, though, and by the time we left most of us were anticipating a couple of hours rest before we would meet for dinner.

I never before had been this close to a gorilla, and with only a glass between us, I stood four or five feet away. I loved staring at this napping animal.

Take a look at that foot/hand. Amazing.

Again, I was just feet away from this polar bear. Poor thing; it has been so hot, he’d snooze a bit, then get up and with his huge paws, throw out the warm sand, and dig a new cooler place for himself.

Andrew arranged dinner at Lido’s, a neighborhood Italian restaurant on Broadway in the Lemon Grove area.. “Of all the places I’ve tried in San Diego, this is my favorite,” Andrew told me as we were exclaiming over the delicious food. It was jammed, with lots of families, a birthday party, and noisy, happy exuberance. I’ve forgotten the name of the owner, to whom Andrew had introduced me as we entered, but she followed us outside when we left, a charming, charismatic lady.

Edit Sunday: Her name is Liz.

(more tomorrow)

My Family

Jerry’s Happy Birthday

Today is Jerry’s birthday and he’s already had one great birthday party. Last Sunday we drove to our Crestline home, and on Tuesday, Rebecca put together a lovely dinner, complete with party hats and noise-makers. The best part though were the people. Our dear friends the Patrick Garretts joined for the celebration, as did Sherry.  Patrick cooked a couple of mean Tri-Tip roasts, and Rebecca made all the side dishes.

The three boys were definitely into the party mode.

The grand finale was a choice between carrot cake and sour-cream apple pie; Jerry chose the pie, his favorite kind.

Today is actually Jerry’s birthday…and at 6:00 we’ll be off to Mike and Mel’s where they are preparing a Cajun Boil to celebrate. I’ll let you know how it all develops.

In the meantime, happy birthday to my sweet hubby.

You might enjoy reading a little of Jerry’s history that I wrote on his birthday post last year.

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My 70th Birthday Party

Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the country, the home of 15 museums, several renown artistic venues, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo: altogether, the park covers 1400 acres. Pepper Grove is the section Rebecca had chosen, Jerry and I took written directions the hotel furnished, and we found the area with little delay. Others coming from different streets, despite the large BUXTON signs stuck around the park, had a tad bit of trouble finding the group. The park is set among rolling–sometimes steep–hills and finding a certain area can be a challenge given the very large area Balboa covers.

The setting was idyllic; the finely clipped lawn stretched wide, then plunged steeply into a narrow canyon, its far edge rising to other green hills where grew also ancient California Pepper trees akin to those whose gnarled trunks and low-hanging branches stood before me in stately form. I gazed as Jerry parked the car, taking in the white tent that had been erected and the red and white checkered cloths that covered the tables.

Grandchildren ran to us, and thus began the party.

If the party had not been perfect, I wouldn’t try to convince you of such a notion, but in all truth, I can affirm that it was. From setting, to food, to conversations, to treats, “entertainment,” and to guests it was a sterling, perfect party, and it is safely ensconced in my memory bank, filed as a very special time and event.

“I want this to be a simple affair, Rebecca,” I had told her in the early stages of planning the party that my children were pitching for my 70th birthday. “I want my family and a few close friends there, but I don’t want anything extravagant; I don’t want it to be a burden on anyone.

“”Okay, Mom.”

That was the genesis of the party style, and I left it that way. Somehow these four marvelous youngsters of mine executed exactly what I wanted, even though I didn’t precisely know myself just what I envisioned. It was a dream party.

I had wandered around, admiring and exclaiming over everything, including my baby and childhood pictures that were displayed, which Rebecca had pilfered from our “picture room” in Crestline. The decorations were adorable and included bouquets of sunflowers and white daisies, stuck into large Mason jars and tied around with raffia streamers. Such was the thoughtfulness of these children of mine, that on every table, as part of the centerpieces, were resin ants, high-legged ones. I suppose those bug-eyed and fetching critters were to insure a realistic picnic ambience, just in case the natural born insects failed to make an appearance.

I was so engrossed with these things, that they had completely set up and were playing music before I even saw them. Those responsible were watching my reaction and later told me it was as though I was oblivious to them as two young women moved across the lawn, set up their instruments and began playing. I turned and saw that a cellist and a violinst had been engaged to furnish music for my party. Beside the people, who of course, ranked first, this music was my favorite part of the whole deal. With only a couple of breaks they played for the better part of two hours. That the music was so hauntingly beautiful, and afforded such a splendid visual sight, and that my children had thought of such a treat, moved me so that I stood in tears as I took it all in.

Michael had bought prime rib roasts and hand cut them into steaks, which he grilled to order, along with chicken breasts, and hot dogs for the children. Corn boiled in a giant pot, gourmet cheese was passed and green salads and luscious bread and plain butter and herbed butter, and fiery red watermelon slices were handed around. Then was the cake, black and gooey, and there were huge cupcakes with sunflowers in their centers, and gifts, and Happy Birthday sung to the string accompaniment and then I said, “It’s Shawnna’s birthday,” so we sang again, and this time I joined in.

They thought of everything; had engaged people from Andrew’s church to help serve, brought bottles of bubbles for the children, and their paper plates of food were served atop a Frizbee, so that when they finished eating, a Frizbee game went on for hours.

We visited for a very long time, and then the light began to fade, and we gathered for group pictures.

My four marvelous kids and their daddy and their mama.

And after this picture was taken, I said, “Okay, all the adults be gone. I want a picture of my grandkids with their granny.”

In no way do I deserve the life I have lived; the marvelous husband I married, the astonishing children God gave us, our 12 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren and the large number of loyal and loving friends. I’m thankful for health and physical possessions and that I live in this wonderful country, the United States of America. I’m ecstatic that I’ve been blessed with 70 good years on this earth.

This morning, we had a two-hour breakfast with Steve, at 3:00 we’re meeting Rebecca and Andrew and their families at the beach in Imperial Beach and at 7:00 we’re having dinner with our dear friends, Nita and Johnny Hodges.

The birthday lives…:)

NOTE: Click on the pictures and they will enlarge.