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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

These women. We met randomly. Our kids all went to Boring Grade School. Not all in the same class, but all in the same school. We volunteered. We were room mothers.  We made cupcakes and planned crazy games for holiday parties. We did fundraisers, like spaghetti feeds, we built a fitness track and helped in classrooms, doing whatever the teachers asked us to help out with. We watched our kids compete in sports, sing, play their instrument in the school band and whatever else it was our kids were doing. We decorated for graduations. We did a carnival. Sometimes we would go out for lunch after an event, pretty soon, the event was going out to lunch, nothing to do with school. We enjoyed each other’s company. We were all so different, different backgrounds, different incomes, different faiths, yet the dearest thing to each of us was our kids and that was what bonded us. There were no judgements, no unasked for advice, just acceptance and encouragement in whatever it was we each were dealing with. I never felt like I had to compete with any of them.   I don’t know how I would have made it through my kids grade school years without these women. For a while, it seemed that every time I entered those school doors, a teacher or the principal would have to have a little ‘talk’ with me about something my kids had done…or not done. So one day, one of girls met me at the door and handed me a set of Groucho Marx glasses to use as a disguise.   There is a 12 year difference from the youngest to the oldest of us. The oldest has the youngest kids, the youngest has the oldest kids. Each year as we dropped our kids off for the first day of school, we would gather at the local eating place and celebrate the start of a new school year. We tried to lose weight together and gained it back together. We managed to do a book read together. Once. We went on trips together, endured bad haircuts and gray hairs.We have had so many laughs and cried a few tears. Got each other through some surgeries. Mourned the loss of a husband and a few parents. We saw each other through our kids weddings and celebrated births of our grandkids. As life went on though, it got harder to find a day that would work for a get together, some moved, some went back to work, others were traveling. Little by little the get togethers dwindled down to not at all. Sometimes we would talk on the phone, sometimes one or two were able to meet up or we would bump into somebody at the store. Well, today we all met up again! It has been about 4 or 5 years since the last time we were together. I had a little brunch and EVERYONE made it! Instantly it was like old times. It is amazing how that can happen, just picking up and going on, filling in the missing years, catching up. So much has happened, so much has changed, but still nothing has changed about our friendship. After today, I know that we won’t let life get in our way! Plans for the next get together is already on the calendar!
Joan Brock, Mary Branagan, Carol Burns, Sheri Antoniskis, Sandie Stewart, Marvel Bell

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

As I usually feel at the end of the month and especially at the end of the summer, 
"WHERE did it go?"  
But as I go through my photos for the month, I see that it was a busy month, full of so many good things and good times. 
First on the list of events for August was the McCool Spa Day.  Our gift from Mom and Dad from Christmas, to Skamania Lodge for a massage and soak in the huge hot pool, then dinner together.
It is such a fun time and fun thing to do as a family.  Dad just can't get himself to have a massage, it just seems like torture to him, so we have stopped bugging him to join us and he enjoys a little time to himself with a glass of wine while we all indulge.

The day after that I had a few of my favorite photographers over for a BBQ.  I have wanted to have them over since we moved here almost 2 years ago, but kept waiting for the right sunrise or sunset or moonrise to get it on the calendar.  I finally found a good moonrise date and put it in the works.  As it turned out, we had smoke on the horizon, so there was no sunset or moonrise to be seen.  A group of storm clouds rolled in and Jake set up his tripod and managed to capture some lightning bolts.  I am looking forward to the next storm, as I took mental notes on how he managed to do that.  I can't wait to try it out myself.  I had met a few of the people I invited over before, but it was in the dark and if not for Facebook, I would not have even been sure of what they looked like.  That is the great thing about Facebook, you really do get to know people from the things they post.  It was so strange to have these 'friend strangers' in my home, eating a meal with me and chatting.  It seemed like we had known each other forever as we talked.  Our little BBQ/shoot that didn't happen turned out so well that nobody left until almost midnight!  That tells me that they enjoyed it as much as I did.
 Bonnie Miles, Jake Egbert, Darlene Cox, Gary Randall, Me, Leon Burkholder
This little watermelon heart just happened as I was slicing up melon for dinner that night.  Really, those rounded edges were part of the natural pattern as I cut it into wedges, it fell out.  Have you ever noticed the pattern of a flower when you slice into a fruit?

Jessi and Ariel are giving it a try to not have a babysitter for a couple of months.  That means a couple of nights, I get to have the kids here overnight!  Overnight does not happen very often, so it has been a great thing for me!
 I have discovered with the grandkids, it is such little things that make them so happy.  Like the tiny bottles of water that were left over from the photographer BBQ.  Really, they thought it was so special to drink from those little bottles.  I have now bought a whole case to keep on hand for them.
 Want to entertain them for a long time?  Bake something, let them do it all, but be ready to take twice as long as usual.
 Jessi found pjs with matching pjs for the girls dolls, Josiah thought it would be fun to have a matching set of pjs for the teddy bear he sleeps with, so I sewed him some.
 Nothing has changed about his love for Garbage Day, Garbage trucks, Garbage cans, and Garbage.
 This is one of my favorite shots of the girls.  Just sitting having a little snack, talking away to each other.
 we roast marshmallows, ride croquet mallet 'horses' and just have fun playing.
 And then baths and sleep.  Check out how I found Arianna...
And then came the much anticipated eclipse.  I really didn't think I would try to shoot it.  I thought I would just watch and that would be enough.  So many people had big plans of where they would see it and shoot it. Gary Randall, who had been here for dinner the week before led a huge group camping and did a workshop to prepare for it. As the hype grew, I started to re-think my not shooting plan.  I started reading up on how to shoot it.  I looked on Amazon and being that it was the week before the eclipse, of course there were no more filters.  I had John as the neighbor if he had a welders shield I could use, he didn't, my Dad didn't.  Two days before, I went up to Ace and there was a welders glass!  It was not the #14 that they recommended online to shoot the eclipse, it was a #10.  So I put on my polarizer and taped the glass to my lens hood.  It looked pretty amature, but who cares...I am amature.  I was amazed at how well it worked.  We didn't get totality here, only 99%, which I knew in advance that was what we would get here.  If I knew what I know now, I would have made plans to drive to Salem to John's place.  What a difference it made in the photos to have totality!  I didn't get the shot I had hoped for once I decided that I was going to shoot it.  My photo friend in Salem, Gena Pegg, had a welders glass and she got the shot I had wanted.  Here is her shot and then there is a collage of what I got here.  Such a difference shooting it in totality. 
  The shot that GENA GOT!!!! It really is one of the best ones I saw from all my photo contacts.
 We invited a few friends over and had a little eclipse party.  I made scones and cinnamon rolls and sausage and fruit.  It didn't get totally dark, but the sun did go out and it got colder.  John watched the thermometer and it went down 3 degrees in the 2 minutes we were darkest.  I didn't notice a whole lot else going on around us, except that the humming birds seemed confused, they were flying lower and one almost ran into Jessi.  Things did seem quieter, but I think that is because we were all silent watching the show.
 Some flowers Jessi's neighbor brought me, my crazy camera set-up and the brunch.

 It was the strangest light, not morning, not dusk, just darkened.  The picture shows it lighter than it was.  I really did not know what I expected, but it was a good experience and glad to have shared it with the grandkids.  I wonder if they will even remember it. 
Jessi invited me along on a little walk from Boring down the old railroad pathway.  It took us to the golf course where my boys would walk down to from our house on Hwy 212.  They would get on the golf course and collect golf balls that had been lost in the creek and in a pond.   They brought them home and filled the tub and scrubbed them like new and then I would take them to the proshop and the owner would buy the balls from them.  They loved it!  

There have been so many fires in the Pacific Northwest this month.  Here is a before and after of the sunrise.  It is pretty, but wish it was not at the cost of the forests.
One of the benefits of having the grandkids get older is that they can drive up and visit you!  Emily and a friend and Josh and a friend decided to go to Portland Saturday Market.  They asked if they could stop and have dinner with us!  Like if they even needed to ask.  We had dinner and sat out by the firepit and had a perfect evening.

The big event to end the month was Arianna's 5th birthday.  She went with a fairy theme and Great Grandma McCool made the cake that she requested.
 Getting on her Fairy Dust.

All my spare time has been enjoying the yard.  We have had a few strange plants pop up that were not here last year.  Last year I discovered one called Poke Weed that is poisonous if eaten.  This year, after some research, I discovered we had a Deadly Hemlock growing out front!  It looked something like a carrot family plant, but it got almost twice as tall as I am by the time I looked it up. 
Here is another one weed that volunteered up.  I let this one grow on purpose. It has puffy little white balls that turn green, then brown.

 I have been in charge of the watering system since we moved here.  Once section stopped working.  I was pretty proud of myself, I got online and figured out that it might be the manifold.  I went and bought a new one and installed it myself!  But I was pretty disappointed that it was not the cause.  After a bit more research, I figured out that it needed to be manually opened to clean out and now it is working again.  Not as good as it was last spring, but we have really bad water pressure here and none of the sections are working as good as last spring, so we will see how it does when fewer people are watering once it starts raining again.  
 A few of my flowers this month.
Grandkids are not the only visitors we have had.  A lizard was crawling on the screen one day.  I have not seen it since.  And then there was this huge, I mean like bug.  It was about an inch long with huge eyes. I have never seen anything like it...except a tiny fly.

 I love those humming birds.  We have so many of them here.  The one below was just enjoying the sprinkler.
 It was pretty exciting, (yes, I know, it does not take much to get me excited,) when a family of quail walked on in.  They kept coming every day for a couple of weeks, but now I have not seen them for a while.  Hopefully they will come back.  They had 12 babies!
 and deer...I love having deer walk through.  So far, only a few roses have been eaten. I can deal with that.
 Bazzel thinks the new bedspread in the guest room is his.
Smoky mornings do make for some pretty shots.

Some days we have not even seen the mountain, even though we have clear skies above the horizon.  In the shot below, you can see the mountain through the clouds if you look really close on the right.  Strange how that smoke just makes a curtain.

 amazing color to that sun...this is really how vivid red it was that morning.
the moon has been pretty special too
One day we had a crazy shadow in the sky.  I learned from a photo friend that it is called inverse Crepuscular Rays.  It is not a very common occurrence.  One of the best things about living here is how much that sky changes. 
 It was nice when the smoke finally cleared and we could see the mountain again. 

I just love it when I get a call from one of the kids telling me to get my camera and go shoot something.  This day, it was Jessi telling me to get to the sunset.  I got in the car and went over to Kelso Road and got it!