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Thursday, December 13, 2018

And then came November..
It started out so innocent.  First off a Bridal Shower for Emily.  Lindy and Cyndi threw it for her.  It was a special time to celebrate her upcoming wedding and spend time with her new mother-in-law and bridesmaids.
Fall hung on with some gorgeous colors.
 Some trees just didn't want to let go.
 We celebrated another McCool Christmas gift card dinner together.
 We finally had some rain.  The river had dropped to just a trickle and one day's rain filled up the riverbed the way it is supposed to be.
 My Thanksgiving cactus burst out in full bloom.  One of its best years.
 With the rain, came the fall clouds and even if we didn't see the sun rise, there were plenty of clouds to make amazing rays as it peeked through the clouds.
The mountain had a new coat of snow to show off when the clouds cleared.  






Joshua celebrated his 17th birthday.  We had dinner at their place.
Josiah had his 8th birthday.  This year he had a fishing theme.  That boy loves to fish!  He is a good fisherman and he is pretty proud of his skills.  Great Grandma did another magical cake for him.

We decided to go to Dennis' place for Thanksgiving this year. He had a few odd jobs he wanted his Dad to help him with and we have never had Thanksgiving with them, so it was perfect timing.
I always love it when we drop down into Warm Springs and the plateaus are in view.  This day, the clouds were just dropping below Mt Hood as we drove through
A while back, I saw signs for some petroglyphs right by the Oregon/California border.  They are at Tule Lake.  Since we were not in a rush and we were going to pass right by them again, we took a little side trip to see them.  They are believed to be around 2,000-6,000 years old.  They were done by the Modoc Indians, but not much is know about the Modocs or what they petroglyphs mean.  It was interesting anyway.  One thing that we noticed that really stood out to us was how quiet it all was there.  It truly was the sound of silence.  I stood there trying to hear something...but there wasn't even a bug flying to break the sound of nothingness.
There used to be a lake around the huge rock where the drawings were, they think that the Modoc used canoes to get out to it and made their marks.  
driving trips give you extra time to see things...like I saw these two lines from planes moving towards each other...it seemed like a sure thing they would hit...but when they actually met up they were way off.
As we drove into Dennis' neighborhood, WOW!  You could see the lines of red from where the planes had dumped retardant on the hills around their home.  It really hit me how close those flames really came to their home and it was a huge wave of thanks for the firefighters that had been there protecting them.
It is so much fun to be there with the boys at bedtime.  A few years ago, we started what we call the "Never Ending Story".  I start out telling a story and then pass it on to one of them and then he passes it on to the next and then it comes back to me and it goes around until I finally put it on hold for the night.  It is pretty cool and gives me a look  inside their minds as we tell our stories.
We stayed the first 3 nights with Uncle Jimmy, then headed to Dennis' place for Thanksgiving.  It was so nice to spend time with Abby and Lanie getting our desserts and all ready for dinner.  John and Dennis went and brought Jimmy to join us for dinner.  It was a really nice dinner and time with everyone there.



Later in the week, Abby and the boys decorated their Christmas tree, another special time that I have not been a part of with these kids.
So I said earlier that I felt like we really needed to go to California to be with Dennis.  Something was telling me we needed to go.  I thought it was for Dennis, but looking back, I now know beyond doubt that God put us there for Jimmy, not Dennis.  As much as I enjoyed our time with Dennis, it was Jimmy who really needed us to be there.  When we arrived at his home on Monday, he seemed really different.  First off, he was having trouble walking.  John caught him once at Burger King and he went all the way down on Thanksgiving.
 For a few years, we have seen dementia slowly take its toll on Jimmy's memory.  But this time, it was unreal how fast he had dropped.  He was having trouble with simple things like turning on his TV and finding his stations.  He could not remember how to open the garage door...so many things.  We had no idea if he was taking the right meds at the right time.  And his driving...well, when we drove with him on Wed to his daily lunch with Fran at Burger King, it was awful.  I got out of the car and told John that was the last time I would ride with him.  We knew we had to do something asap.  The time had come for us to step in.  We had the POA papers, but they had not been enacted.  We set out to start the process.  But we were worried about him being upset.  It was going to be a battle, we were sure.
Well, Friday, we received phone calls all day about his TV, he was upset, and frustrated about not even knowing how to turn it on.  I tried to help over the phone and realized he was doing what I was instructing him to do...only using the phone buttons and not the remote.  So off we went to Oxnard to help him out and have our talk with him. Before we arrive, we received a phone call from one of his friends.  Jimmy had been to her place 3 times that day to take her to lunch!  Their usual time was 12:00, but he had shown up at 9am!  She had sent him home.  Back he was at 11.  She said for him to wait and she got ready and they had an early lunch.  BUT...here he was again at 6, honking his horn and upset that she was not ready to go to lunch!  She sent him home and called.  When we arrived at his home, he was not there.  We waited, we called his two friends...no sign of him.  So we called the police.  They were to his house so fast and searched the house and filed a report.  They made the rounds to Jim's favorite places, Burger King, Costco, Denny's and his two friends homes.  There was not sign of him.  We waited...and waited...and waited.  Hours went by...morning came...no sign of him.  We didn't know what to do or where to look. All we could do is wait and pray. Finally at 8am, 14 hours later, the police called.
They had found Jimmy!
  He had been driving on a bike path and a woman had helped him get off of it and called the police.  He was an hour south of Oxnard by the Santa Monica Pier.  The police secured his car, had paramedics examine him and sent him to the hospital. Ends up he had to stay at the hospital for 3 nights.  His vitamin B12 was non existent as well as his Folic.  They gave him super injections and finally he was sent to rehab to help him regain strength in his legs and hopefully the vitamins would kick in and he would regain some of the memory he had suddenly lost.  John and I set about getting an assistant to come to his home and help cook him some meals and do some light housekeeping when he came home.  We made sure to tidy up things a little in order for the housekeeper to be there and put in a shower chair and hand held head.  We made calls and had meetings and are officially on the POA for him.  He has told us over and over how he does not want to move anyplace else and our deepest desire is to make sure he gets his wish. He has lived there for 80 years! Next week he will be released from rehab and I am flying down to make sure all is in order for his home helper as she begins taking care of him.  Up until now, his diet had dwindled down to nothing for breakfast, something from the dollar menu at Burger King every day with Fran for lunch and then a can of Vienna sausages and a diet Shasta for dinner.  No wonder his B vitamins were gone!  The main task for his aide will be to cook him two decent meals a day...and I will have groceries delivered so that there is always something nutritious for him to nibble on for breakfast and snacks.  I just am in awe how God timed out trip to be there when this happened!  I can only imagine how awful it would have been to have received that phone call when we were up here in Oregon, hours away from helping him.  
Well, some side notes to this story.  Once we had seen Jimmy, the police met us at the hospital and gave us an escort to find the car.  Now that was a relief!  It was Santa Monica, on a Saturday, at the Pier!  The parking lot was packed, we were able to just drive on in and move right through the crowd and over to a little lot where the car was. 
 They had it with a little police note marking it so that it would not be towed away.  The officer showed us where he had been driving on the pathway and chatted a little bit and off he went.  The pathway where he had been driving is on the left of the photo below.
 We did a quick walk around the car and discovered that the front passenger tire was flat.  John changed it, putting on a tiny little doughnut spare tire. 
 We headed for Oxnard...1 hour north on Hwy 1.  We were only a few miles away from Santa Monica when the little doughnut tire went flat!  OF course, right?  So now what do we do?  We threw the first flat tire in the back of John's truck, put the police note back on the dashboard of Jimmy's car and headed north.  The plan was to get the tire fixed and when we went to visit Jim the next day, we could change it.  So, the tire shop could not fix it!  We had to buy a new tire!  But at least the car was still there with that little note protecting it.  Dennis helped John change it and he drove it back to his place and we headed to the hospital to get Jim.
Jim does not remember much about that night...I saw that his tank was full, he said he had to stop for gas twice.  At one station, he said a nice lady came out and helped him fill his tank and wrote him directions back to his home.  I found that note on the seat of his car...and also his two credit cards, one in the door and one on the floor.  During the night, I had called his card thinking we could find out where he was if he had used it, but he had not used it since 3 days earlier.  But I had seen on his bank account that he had taken out some cash in October.  In his wallet was the cash, minus what would be one or two tanks of gas.  The red card is the police note that was left in his car.
So we drove him up to Oxnard to the rehab place.  He had been told by various people at the hospital that he had to go there.  But when we pulled up, he asked John where we were.  I jumped out because I didn't want to be a part of that conversation.  John said that when he told him, Jim's response was "Oh damn"  I had gone in to get somebody to help him inside.  They brought a wheelchair and helped him into it.  But he was leaning forward facing the door of the truck...I moved around so I could talk to him.  That is when I realized he had both hands on the frame of the truck, holding on for dear life.  It broke my heart!  I promised him it was only for a little while until he was stronger, that he would go home again.  Eventually he let go and gave up.  He looked so sad and scared.  I didn't want to leave him, but he has worked hard and is about to go home now.

 A few things had to be done at the house before he can go home.  One thing was to get his walker in order.  Here is how he had his fixed up.  I don't know why he put back wheels on it anyway, he never would use it.  John removed them and added tennis balls instead. 
 We had to make 4 trips to Santa Monica to the UCLA hospital to see Jimmy before he was released.  We drove along Hwy 1 along the coast and through Malibu where the fires had devastated the area.  It was unbelievable to see the miles and miles of blackened hills...sometimes the black was on both sides of the roads.  You could see where homes had been and then the amazement of how areas had been protected and homes were still standing with trees and all!  

So the calm beginning of November turned into a busy difficult time.  But through it all, we felt God always a few steps ahead of us, preparing the way in ways I never would have expected.  How blessed we are!

Friday, November 2, 2018

OCTOBER!
As the month rolled away, I didn't think I would have much to post.  But now as I go through the favorite photos of the month, I am surprised to see what a gorgeous, busy month it was!
 Fall color in the canyon was amazing! 
 It has been such a dry summer and fall, the river is really low.  I have actually watched fishermen walking across it.

 Since living here, I have grown to really love those clouds!
 Even when the mountain is not showing, it is so awesome to see the sun come through a crack in the clouds and make the most amazing rays.
I have heard that a dry summer will make for better fall colors.  I am not sure about that, but something has made the leaves so amazing.  I think I always think that.
 My tree of Hearts...almost bare
How does this even happen?  All those colors in one leaf!!!
 I read a little thing a while back.  It said "The trees are about to show us how beautiful it is to let things go"  How true.



 There are still a few flowers in the yard too.

 I have taken advantage of the clouds and semi warm weather to capture the gorgeous sunrises for as long as I can.  I know that as soon as we switch back the clocks, I may not be up in time to capture them.  I will just enjoy them from bed!


 I love it when you can see the mountain's shadow just before the sun rises.


I decorated the house for Halloween, just in time for the kids to come stay the night. Josiah thought it would be a great idea to take his photo with the cat candle.  I think it turned out pretty cute.
   They all took their turns making  their own pillow cases. I can't say enough how much I have loved showing them how to sew.
I managed to get the little flower girls dresses done for the big wedding day.
The girls loved putting them on and first thing, they had to spin around to see if they were fluffy enough.  Emily asked for them to be extra fluffy.
Arianna really took it in, checking out her dress. 

Lina was normally just as excited as Arianna, but this day was just before her nap and she just didn't want to stop playing and mess with a dress.  The only reason I am posting this is, that it makes me laugh to see her so dressed up and tears rolling down her face.
I also had the task of making the ring boy pillows and covering the flower girl baskets.  Both are made from the satin and lace that I used when I made Rachel's wedding dress.

I went shopping with my Mom and we both found our dresses for the wedding.  Only a month more to wait!!!
 For Christmas last year, my parents gave my sisters and us a spa day at Skamania.  John and I decided to go up a couple of days early and hike around the gorge.  The fall colors were so beautiful.  Those yellow maples were so bright, it was like driving into the sunshine.  The first day we drove the Hood River fruit loop and stayed the night in Hood River.
This is Mt. Adams at sunset.

 The river after dark and at sunrise.
 The next morning, we got up and headed for the Washington side of the Columbia River.  Since the Oregon side has so many trails closed still from the fires last fall.  It was actually nice to see what is over there on the Washington side.  Before we left home, we had decided to hike into two falls, Rodney Falls, Hardy Falls and Pool of the Winds.  They are only about 2.5 miles on the trail up to Hamilton Mountain, which was supposed to be about a 8-9 mile round trip hike.  We were not sure if we wanted to go that far, but we knew we had all day, so decided to hike until we wanted to turn back.  Well the falls were gorgeous.  The Pool of the Winds was my favorite part of Rodney Falls, there is a log jammed down it and then a pool of water in an enclosed area of rock.  The other falls, was not so spectacular, since the water was so low.  I am sure it all looks amazing when there is more water.
I thought this cliff was so pretty...little did I know that we were about to climb all the way up there!!!

 Since it was only 2 miles in, we kept on going.  It was beautiful, peaceful and full of color.
 We saw this along the way in a hole in the rocks.  I had no idea we were going to see foxes in their den!
 That rock below is called Beacon Rock...it is where we had started!  And we were not even to the top yet!
 The trail was pretty step,but we kept climbing...The views were incredible!

 Once we got this high, we just had to keep going...like, who would turn back and just walk down without finishing by this point, right?


 From the top we could see Mt. Adams...I liked the little heart in the side of the cliff.
 We could also see the tip of Mt. Hood in the other direction.
 We were at the top and continued on the loop.  
 Once we made it to the bottom, I just had to take another shot of that cliff that I had taken at the start of the hike.  This time, I left the zoom out so you can really see how far it was.  I could not believe that I had actually climbed up there.
 We were tired and hungry, since we had only taken some chips and water to drink all day.  We stopped at the first place and had a healthy after hike meal.  
My fitbit said I had walked 12 miles!  The maps all said around 8-9 miles, but that didn't count for the extra steps in and out to side trails to see the falls.  AND 248 floors??!! (Fitbit counts a floor as a flight of stairs, 8 feet high.) It was a steep climb, some places were rocky and I had even had to get on my hands and knees to get up the rocks.
Do you see the face in the tree below?  I can see an eye and nose and an open mouth.

 We checked into a room at Cascade Locks for the night.  This was the first time I have ever had earplugs along with the shampoo, etc.  I was a little concerned it might be a bad sign.  But it turned out just fine, maybe I was so tired from the hike, I didn't hear a sound all night.

Here is sunrise from my room and the same view later on with the fall colors and river.
This is the Bridge of the Gods.
 The McCools were not due for massages at Skamania until afternoon, so John and I decided to drive up to another falls that did not require a long hike.  I was surprised that I was not sore, but I really didn't want to take my chances and hike in someplace and regret it.  I decided on Panther Falls.

 It was a long drive, but worth it for the colors
 A short little walk and the most amazing falls!  I can not believe I have not heard of this falls before.  I want to go back when there is more water!


We met up at Skamania Lodge and all had massages followed by an awesome dinner together.  I really love that our family started giving gifts that we all enjoy together throughout the year.
 I can't believe how long Bazzel can stretch himself out.  He sits at my feet like this every morning hoping I will pet him some more.
 Josiah asked me to take him to his Parcore class.  I had no idea what that even was.  He loved showing me all his stunts as he jumped from beams and onto and off structures.  We celebrated with ice cream afterwards.

 Josh finished off his junior year of cross country. He was team captain too! We made it to a few meets.  He did a great job, even beat his own time!!! In the photo above, it shows how he has insisted on tying his shoes ever since he was a little boy.  I can not imagine how he even goes about un-tying them!
I finished off the month with Halloween.  We had the cutest little trick or treaters!  Our only ones, as always.
 Here is what my LA kids looked like.
One more shot of the mountain peeking through the clouds and the new snow.