(click on any photo to see them larger)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Birthday, Abby!  I had not even met you when I knew I loved you already.  Dennis had come home from college talking about you.  He showed us a couple of photos of you.  So pretty, so classy, so tiny.  And then the part I really loved…he gave me a hug, lifting me up in the air.  As he sat me back down, he said…she’s just the same size as you.  Well, I had seen the photo, I knew that we were NOT the same size.  But I loved it because HE thought we were the same.   He was crazy about you and from what I saw when we finally met you, you we crazy about my Dennis too.  It is hard for a Mom to not be the object of her little guy’s adoration, but for you, I easily knew I could share him!  I know it has not always been easy to be his partner in helping him succeed in his career.  You had to change some of your plans in order to move across the US and live so far from family and the life you knew.  Then when you thought it was finally over and he had graduated…his career goals moved the two of you to another state…and it was a COLD one!  But you hung in there and now are beginning to see the results of your choices.  You make a great team!  So happy he has you for his wife.  We couldn't have chosen a better one for him.  And even if we are NOT the same size…I love that you have become a valued part of this family!  
Josiah was in his first Sunday School Christmas program today.  We were not sure if he would even go through with it, but he marched in with the kids and stood there just fine.  But I had a feeling about that little kid next to him right from the start.
 Good idea...check out what to do from the older girl...
 yep...get your hands in your pockets...
 hmm...look around, ignore that goofy boy on the left...and then he just could not resist and joined in with him goofing off...I am not sure if he ever sang.  At one point he started talking to me, I was sitting on the floor in front of them to get photos. I don't know what he said, I was just trying to ignore him so he would stay standing up with the group.
Emily and Joshua came to our house for a night while their Mom and Dad went away for their anniversary. We went for a drive to look at Christmas lights, ordered in pizza and watched movies.  They also spent a little time sculpting.  I think their projects turned out really cute. 

Friday, December 20, 2013



I got to spend a few hours all on my own with Josiah and Arianna a couple of days ago.  Having grandkids around is so much different than having your own kids at this age. Somehow, all the other things I have to do are so easy to just let go and enjoy the time I get with them.  I love the excitement and awe they have for every little thing, especially right now with Christmas decorations out that are all new to them.  
We received a call that John's Uncle needed some help with health and aging issues, so we decided to take a quick trip to Oxnard to see what we could do.  It was a relief to see things were not as serious as we had feared, but we are now prepared to help him with choices that will need to be made in the future.  The huge bonus of the whole trip was that we got to attend Gabe's school Christmas program.  He did a great job singing and acting and it was fun to see it all in person.  After the program, we went to dinner with Abby's parents who had also come to the program.  We feasted on some great Korean food.  Then went back to Gabe's place and watched him open the gifts we had brought down for him.  


Cyndi had a 'swag' party.  Yep, we all (McCool family women) went to her place and made swags.  If you don't know what a swag is, it is a bundle of greenery from fir trees tied together and decorated with pretty Christmas decorations.  Then you hang your swag on the door...in place of a wreath.  Actually it is just like a wreath except it is not round.
I took this photo on the way to her place for the party.  I was there at just the right moment as the sunset hit the steeple of the church. 
We had our first bit of snow.  Only a slight dusting, but I had to laugh when I saw the tiny footprints right outside the door....

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

 We had a cooooolllddd snap! 
 But with no precipitation, the roads were clear of snow and ice, so it was a perfect time to drive up the gorge and see the frozen falls .  
Latourell Falls
Wahkeena Falls Creek
Horsetail Falls
The Columbia River bank
Multnomah Falls


Well, Thanksgiving came and went...wow...how do you slow down the clock?!  Thankful that we are still able to celebrate the holidays with our parents.  Mom's birthday fell on Thanksgiving day, so we let her cook our Thanksgiving dinner as usual.  How nice of us, right?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Josiah is 3!!!
Another year has gone by so fast!  
Of course he had a Garbage man theme.  He was in trash heaven with the house decorated with paper egg cartons, cereal boxes and whatever else, saved up from the recycling can and food was served from mini trash cans.  We ate Sanitation Soup (potato), Yard Debris (green salad), Fruit Compost (fruit salad), Junk Mix (Chex mix) and nibbled on gummy worms before we sang Happy Birthday to the suddenly shy boy and cut into his requested garbage truck cake from Great Grandma.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Happy 12th Birthday to Joshua!  
It just can't be another year gone by since he had his last birthday!  I can't believe Joshua is in middle school now and growing up so fast!  He is still breaking his times and loving running as his cake shows.  Great Grandma used a photo of Josh running in his last cross country meet as a decoration for his cake.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The photo is of Emily and her running partner from high school.  They are freshmen, but run with the varsity team.  They run side by side and encourage and press each other on, but they don’t win any of the races.  So why do they do it? First off it is an honor to be chosen to run with the varsity as mere freshmen.  Now they didn't have to say yes, they could have said that they would rather run with the freshmen, said they were not ready, didn't want to earn a varsity letter, wanted nothing to do with varsity runners… all kinds of excuses.  They could have chosen not to run at all.  It is a lot of work, dedication, she gives up a lot, has to be careful what she eats and drinks, get enough sleep, and give up some fun times with her non-runner friends. But not only did she decide to run, she gave up running with her peers.  If she ran with the freshmen, she would pretty much be assured of placing in the top, maybe even getting first place in all the races.  Instead she settles for making her own personal best times, she works to improve herself, while at the same time she is pulled ahead by the older girls and they drive her on to bettering herself as a runner.  At the same time, she contributes to the overall good of the team meet points, helping her school win.  Isn't that a perfect picture of how it is to be a Christian?  First off, we are given the gift of running the race...Jesus won it for us, but now we can run for the “team’ bettering the name of Christianity, at the same time improving ourselves for the sake of Christ.  We could just say no to Christ, forget about Spiritual food and drink, spiritual growth.  Forget about eternity in Heaven.  But when we say yes, we run alongside others who pull us, push us and sometimes drag us towards the goal.  Sometimes it is us who has to pull others along with us and encourage them to the end.  We can all look ahead and be encouraged by those who are ahead of us and know that there are others following behind us in our footsteps. 
(Not quite what you expect those 'Golden Gates' to look like, huh?)

 I was invited to join a Bible study group of neighborhood women who have met for years.  I haven’t been in a group study for a while, even though I have been active in quite a few through the years.  They meet up on Friday mornings in a little espresso bar one mile from here. I only knew one of the women in the group and so I was a little nervous before I got there.  I almost decided not to go.
Well, as always, when I almost decide not to do something, but end up going through with it, I was so happy that I had made myself go.  It is a really great group of women and I know I am going to like being a part of their study time.
They are just finishing up the book of Hebrews. They were in Chapter 12.  I have read the verse so many times before, but their discussion of verse 1 really struck me in a different way than before. 
“Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of faith who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
 Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.  I guess because our family is so into running, anything that refers to runners sparks a little extra interest in what I am reading.  I have read a few other verses about running the race in the Bible.  I always thought of it as to earn THE prize.
 1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run but only one receives the prize.  Run in such a way that you may win.
Sometimes I have to admit, I have felt a little nervous about that because there is only ONE first place...and if we are to run to get THE prize, then it is pretty sure that I am not going to win that prize.  I mean there are so many good Christians out there...sometimes the ‘works’ part of Christianity gets a little cloudy mixed with the ‘faith’ part.
 Well, last week I was able to think of it in a different way as these women sat around discussing ‘running the race’.  I thought back to last summer when I got a wild notion to run the 3K at the Bush Park Run that the kids and grandkids do every week during the month of August.  Emily was not going to run, but I asked her to run with me. She agreed.  I was in my normal summer clothes.  The only ‘running’ clothes I had on were my shoes.  I felt like it would be a simple thing.  I had been running all summer for my workout, and I was running farther for my workout than this run was going to be.  Well, I didn't think about it being the hottest day of the summer.  I didn't think about running over a bumpy grassy field forever before we got to some smooth pavement, I didn't know how many hills were out there!  so much I didn't know.  Poor Emily, she really hung in there with me.  And here I thought it was such a great idea to encourage HER to run it.  At one point, she looked behind us and said, ‘Grandma, we are almost the last ones!”  I told her she didn't have to keep running with me, to go on ahead,  but she stayed back with me anyway.  She encouraged me by saying that most of the ones that had been behind us had just dropped out. A while into the race, I was breathing really hard and told her that my heart was beating really fast, she grabbed my arm and said “Don’t have a heart attack, Grandma”  Then I got  thirsty and I started whining to her about that.  A little ways off the home stretch trail, there was a water fountain...she pointed it out and I actually considered a detour.  But we were so close to being done, and I didn't want to be dead last in the race so I decided to tough it out. Don’t get me wrong, we were laughing a lot too. She was such a good companion!  So there we went, together on up to the finish line...there were people there cheering us in...happy for us, even if we were not the first, we were finished, we did it. I was so happy and relieved and proud! that was my prize.  With Emily’s help,  I did it!
And I now realize that only one comes in first. But to each person crossing the line, THAT is the prize for them.
 Philippians 3:14  “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
And I can now picture it as we cross on into Heaven, those who are already there will be cheering us in...just crossing the line will be all the prize we need.  Sure we could take a different course, or just plain quit like so many runners do, take a detour for a drink, do what we want to slow us down, but if we really want to, eventually we will cross.  Some of us will cross first, better trained, better dressed, fully ready for that run, others will show up like me,  half hearted, untrained, with somebody who pulled us along, cheered us, cared about our heart, offered to us a drink, but didn't give up on us, even if they could have run on ahead and been with the stronger runners to cross that line.  Sometimes in this race called LIFE, we are the runner and sometimes we are the cheerleader helping another with their race.
Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
We are all the same in Jesus’ eyes.  The prize will be given out to all who cross the line who have placed their faith in what Jesus did for them.  The prize? To be forgiven for our sins, to be in the presence of Jesus, who already ran the PERFECT race for us, who gave it all, including his life, to assure that I will be able to make it over that finish line.  No matter how ill prepared I am for the race, how little I put into it, how little I knew about it before I ran, even if I had taken a detour, with all my lacks, I still will be able to cross into heaven and have him say 'Well Done!' 
2 Timothy 4:7  I have fought the good fight I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My shoes match again! 
9 weeks after my break, I was given the OK by the doctor to stop wearing the boot and walked out of his office in matching shoes!  Funny how it is the same pair I was wearing when I fell. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Favorite Trick or Treaters
Josiah has a fascination with Garbage Trucks...and trash too!  He knows exactly what kind of trash goes in what can.  Every week, he waits for the trash collector to come and they rush out to watch him pick up their trash.  Once, the trash collector actually allowed him to press the button to raise the can up!  He was in heaven!  So this year he dressed up as a trash collector.  He was so into it!  I don't think he really got the reason everyone was putting candy bars into his leaf recycle can, but he allowed it.  
Arianna was a little mouse.  We didn't put it together in the beginning, but later on got a chuckle out of her being a mouse to go with the trash theme.  
Monday is trash day at their house.  You can be sure he will be on the curb waiting in full costume to show off to the trash collector.  His birthday is in 2 weeks.  Guess what the theme is?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
The scariest thing I could think up this year for Halloween is to have another broken ankle...ever!  Here is a very edited version of what I now have forever in my ankle.  Hoping for a safe one for everyone!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Birthday, Rachel! 
I knew you were going to be my daughter-in-law the day John said “..she’s just like you, Mom…”.  To what you were just like me, I don’t remember, but I remember thinking, “he is going to marry her”.   I have to admit, when John first brought you into our family, I didn't think you were really going to fit.  You were so quiet, so smart, so sensible.  I wondered how in the world you were going to put up with this family, especially with John.  But then the day came when you told us a little story about your future husband.  You said “John wants to go on an archaeology dig in the Middle East, then we talked about going to Africa…we went to Dairy Queen.”  And THAT is when I knew you got him,  that is when I knew you were going to be the perfect half to that boy I raised.  You know how to dream with him and how to make his reality real.  You have helped him become a man.  Thanks for being a treasured part of our family!

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Last week, we had two All City cross country meets to go to.  One for Joshua in Junior High and one for Emily in High School.  It is so strange to see my grandkids now in the same event that I took their Dad to so many years as a kid.  Both Emily and Joshua are amazing runners.  Joshua is 6th grade this year, but ran with the older guys.  Emily is a freshman but ran varsity.  She even earned her varsity letter her freshman year.  Her Grandpa and Dad both earned their varsity letters their freshman years, so it was really great to see her carry on the tradition.  
 Last Christmas' gift from Mom and Dad was a massage and dinner for everyone at Skamania Lodge in Washington.  We all went  last weekend and had our Christmas gift together.  Well, not Dad, he wants nothing to do with a massage, so he waited for us while we enjoyed ours.  Then we had a great dinner together.  Such a great gift!!  Thanks, Mom and Dad!!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I should have given a description of some of the photos in the collage of my ankle.  First off there is the one of the x-ray of the break.  The one next to it, would you believe it?  John took a picture of me after I fell, once I had recovered from the nausea and nearly passing out part.  I didn't even know he took it.  I guess a little bit of my photo obsession has worn off on him, huh? The pain pills that I had on hand 'just in case', which thankfully I only had to taken the night the 'block' wore off from the surgery.  The nurse had warned me to take the pills at first even if I didn't feel any pain, because once the block wore off it would hit all at once.  And it DID!  She was so right.  I took a pill before bed and glad I did.  It wore off in the middle of the night and woke me up.  I wonder what it would have felt like had I not had any medication in me.  It really was the most intense pain I can remember, even more than the initial break.  But another  pill went to work right away and it never hurt like that again.  The other photos show the different phases of cast from the Urgent Care, boot, swollen ankles, bruising, the first cast they sent me home from after surgery, the stitches, me on my crutches at Lake Tahoe, my crutches in Reno,and one leg in the spa at Skamania Lodge,  the doctor said not to put it in hot tubs yet,  Ending with the x-ray of my new hardware after surgery.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Its all about the ankle!

I'm almost done with my 7th week since I broke my ankle.  Pretty strange to me how my focus has become mostly about the ankle, how all the things I normally do from day to day suddenly could be put on the back burner until it is healed up.  7 weeks ago, when I realized that I was going to be housebound for a while and pretty much restricted to where those two crutches could take me, I set all kinds of goals for myself. I did manage to achieve some of those things.  I read a few of the books I have been meaning to, went through my computer files and sorted things out, mostly the photo files. I am actually pretty pleased with what I got done.  There are a lot of things I didn't get to...yet.  I wanted to get some knitting done, to sew a little and finish up going through my huge albums of photos, eliminating the junk ones, cutting down on the amount of albums I have sitting here on these book shelves. But I will get to those things still, winter is on its way.
Last week, I had my doctor visit.  He said that as soon as I felt able to, I could start using my foot along with the crutches and as soon as I got better with that, I could ditch the crutches.   
I walked out of there without them and have not used them since!!! 
I have been going slowly, really with the boot on still, there is no option but to go slowly. I have been doing some exercises on my ankle, trying to stretch the tendons and muscles back to what they were.  Dr. Dales said that by my next appointment in 3 weeks, he expects to send me home in my own shoe! 
 Here's to hoping he is right!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The last week of September, my doctor said that it would be OK to continue with our plans to go to Dennis, Abby and Gabe's place in California.  We spent the first few days at Uncle Jim's place in Oxnard.  I took the pigeon photos above in Oxnard at his place.  I thought it was pretty funny to see how many of them decided to sit on those wires...and how evenly spaced they were.
 We had a good time spending time with Gabe.  It is so nice to see that he remembers us from the last visits now and so fun to have him excited to have us around. 
We took a detour on the way back to Oregon, stopping off at Lake Tahoe for a night.  We had a beautiful view from our room, with nothing between us and the water except a few pine trees.  It sure was pretty at sunrise and sunset. 
Our waitress at dinner told us that the Kokanee Salmon were spawning just a few miles around the west side of the lake, so  we decided to see what was there.  The park system was closed with the government shutdown, but she told us there was plenty of room beside the road to park and that it would be easy for me with the crutches.  Sure enough, there was a paved bike path just a few feet off the highway that took us right over a footbridge over the stream where the salmon were. It was a beautiful sight...thousands and thousands of fish, about 14 inches long, were filling the stream in both directions.  They turn this color red when they begin spawning.  So sad to think that as soon as the spawning is over, the fish die.  We also were warned to look out for bears.  Signs were up everywhere, which under normal conditions would have been so exciting, but being that I was in a boot that would have made it impossible to run, I was a bit relieved that we really didn't encounter any this time around.
Since I could not hike around and I wanted some closer shots of the fish, I gave John the camera to get closer to the water.  He took this one of me waiting for my camera back.  It does not show the boot very well since I was behind that bit of grass.  It was really hard to be there and not be able to hike upstream...maybe we will make it back sometime...and maybe we really will see bears then.
The Aspens were changing color.  Just so beautiful to see the morning light coming through them...

From Tahoe, we met up with my parents in Reno.  I can't believe that the Peppermill gave us two FREE nights!  The rooms are really nice too!  Of course they think they will get the money back from what people gamble, but they don't get much back from us!  I like to play a little, but prefer to sit by the pool and do nothing.  
Crutches and casinos don't really go together either.
We took the back road home to avoid the boring I-5 and saw some different sights.  Nice to see the changing colors in Oregon too, as we crossed over Mt. Hood, the vine maples were in full color.  I took these shots from the moving truck instead of asking John to stop...after 9 hours of driving, I didn't want to add any more time to the drive than I had to.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Surgery done!


The doctor put a plate on the fibula to hold the two broken bones together and then a screw from the fibula to the tibia to hold them together.  I don't know if I will need to have them taken back off or if they will stay with me forever.  It kind of creeps me out to think of a hunk of metal being attached to my ankle from now on.  
My biggest challenge?
 to let others take care of me.  
I have been waited on hand and...wait for it...FOOT!  (of course you saw that coming.) It is so hard to let others wait on you!  It has always been MY job to take care of home, kids, meals.    John will not allow me to do anything but hop from the sofa to the bathroom and back again, he makes sure to get the ice on and off, he brings me meds and food and water, pumps pillows, and gets really irritated at me if i even try to do anything on my own.  He even races ahead of me to make sure to turn the lights on for me before I enter a room.  It is like I am suddenly a celebrity.  
Then there is Jessi bringing over dinner every night, complete with dessert!  She is cooking dinner for her family, plus us, then drops it off on her way to work!  It is hard to accept. 
Second biggest challenge?...the stairs.  
The bedrooms are all upstairs, the sofa is a loveseat, so you can't fully lay down on it.  I have to go upstairs for a bed.  I have not figured out how to get up them with the crutches yet.  But I have figured out a pretty good method to get up without the crutches.  I sit and lift myself up with my arms...one step at a time.  It takes a while, but I get there.  To get down, I sit and go back down on my butt, one step at a time.  At least I am getting a workout on my arms that way.   I make the trip down every morning after my shower and stay down until time for bed each night. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Unforgettable Fall...

 Since retiring, John has decided that he wants to do some hiking.  Of course I don't mind that at all since it gets me out to places I had not thought I would get to shoot photos of before.
They have taken us over bridges...
and bridges...
Over rivers.
 Up mountain sides.
 and through the woods.
I have seen some pretty amazing sights.
 
 This is Upper Punchbowl Falls and then a view of Lower Punchbowl as we hiked on down and then the view of Punchbowl from the bottom.  It was a weekend and the place was so crowded.  I was disappointed at first because I was going for that postcard look with no people, which was impossible that day.  But once I got home and saw this set of photos, I realized that the kids in this shot really added to the look of it.  I like the summer feel to it.  We will hike back on a weekday next time and maybe then I will get that unspoiled shot, but in the meantime, I am pretty happy with the version I did get.
Then came Ramona Falls, up on Mt. Hood.  It is a hike I for sure want to do again.  The whole hike was so beautiful, not just the destination, walking in along a creek was so tranquil.  It is a popular trail for horses too.

 I really love the black rocks with the white water.  The green moss is the topping on the cake.
The next was back up to the Columbia Gorge for Wahkeena Falls. 
Above is the view from the bottom before we began the hike and below is part way up.
 
 We continued on up the trail to Fairy Falls.  It was so pretty and delicate, reminding me of a smaller version of  Ramona Falls.
There is an old bench up there to sit a while.  Not sure if you can see it there beside the trail.
On my list was Wahkeena Springs, so we continued on.  I am not sure what happened, but we never saw the sign for the springs and we kept on going and going...until I finally found a sign...but it said...Angel's Rest.  From my little map, I knew we had gone way too far, but, oh well, I wanted to see Angel's Rest sometime anyway...why not now?
 The view of the Columbia was so worth it from there! Here is a view towards the east and then to the west.
Last Tuesday, we started at Horsetail Falls.

 Continued up to ..you got it...Ponytail Falls.

 Just as we arrived at the cave behind the falls, it started to pour down rain, at first I thought it was just mist from the falls.  We waited it out...about 5 minutes and then continued on up the trail.  The higher we climbed, the sunnier it got.
Next stop on the trail was Middle Oneonta Falls. I had hoped to find the hidden trail to Upper Oneonta Falls, but it remained hidden to me, even though I had a map to the secret trail, I could not spot it.
 The final falls on this hike was Triple Falls.  So worth the climb!!!
 We continued on up to the top of it and past it along the creek.  Sometimes I find that the creeks leading into the falls are equally as beautiful as the main event. 
 I love the quiet the calm and peacefulness there.
 Love those greens.
And then came the unforgettable fall that I had not planned on...
Yep...I fell. 
 Ends up I broke my ankle.  I replay it in my mind.  One minute I was walking along looking for a good place for a picnic and the next I was on the ground. The sound of a pop in my ankle replays over and over in my ears. I am happy to report that my camera seems to have survived it all, even though it hit hard on the ground beside me.  After a couple of waves of heat and nausea, I was able to get back up on my two feet and test them out.  It hurt, but it seemed to hold me up, so little by little we inched our way down.  John donned my camera pack and tripod along with his own back pack and lent an arm all the way down to the bottom.  So many nice people along the way offering help.  One girl sacrificed her ice bag to me.  She didn't know that it had already been activated and was not cold at all, but even so, I was so grateful to have it, as it gave me some support on the ankle to hobble along.  We took an alternate, shorter route to the bottom instead of the way we had come up.  When we finally arrived to the bottom, the sign said 1.8 miles up to Triple Falls where I had fallen!  It had taken us 1 hour and 50 minutes to get down!!! 
Since I was able to halfway walk on it, I was pretty sure it was a sprain.  We went on home, got some ice on it and I assessed the damages.  It was the first time I took off my shoe since I had fallen.  It was already black with bruising and swollen up about as fat as a foot could get.  A while later, I got John to take me in to Urgent Care to get an x-ray.  I was afraid to wait too long and then find out that I had damaged it worse by waiting too long to go in.  Sure enough it was broken.  An appointment was made for me to see an orthopedist this morning.  The verdict was given that I will need to go in for surgery next Wednesday.  Not the news I wanted, but if it helps me heal back to normal, then that is what I will have to do.  Bleh!  I don't look forward to using crutches for the next two months!