Friday, May 22, 2020

Late May

Hello!  It's Friday!  Time for Willow's Week at Friday Fave Fives (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).  How was your week?  Mine was just the same old, same old.  Hanging around the house.  Staying safe.  Taking walks.  Being thankful for the small things.

1.  I've been doing a bit of sketching and really working at improving my skills.  I love the satisfaction of finishing  a sketch.  (The photo is a bit blurry, sorry.)

2.  This week, I received an email from the mother of a former student, thanking me for the input I had in her daughter's life.  Oh how my teacher heart glowed.  This young woman is surging forward in her writing!

3.  Ya'll doing Zoom and Skype sessions?  I know that, for me, sometimes I am 'zoomed-out'.  But I am thankful that during this time we have the option of 'seeing' people and 'spending time' with them.  I know it's not the same as really face to face interaction, but it's better than nothing.

4.  We woke up Monday morning to RAIN.   I managed to catch a few photos of raindrops on my flowers.  And the rain didn't bother the monarch caterpillar at all.  They just kept on chewing on the milkweed.  I do love my garden.

5.  It's still jacaranda tree time.  Normally, when we drive down the streets of our city, I don't notice the trees except that they're there and provide green and shade.  But during Jacaranda Season, oh my!  Those purple blossoms just celebrate spring!  Here are some photos of jacaranda trees in various spots around town.  [please note:  BEFORE deciding to plant a jacaranda tree, understand that there is no middle ground.  They're beautiful. BUT, they're messy. See bottom photo.]

Yeah, they're really messy.

I hope you had a good week and are staying well.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Mid May Faves

Spring is blooming in full force now.  The California poppies are still showing their orange blossoms; the bougainvillea are blooming in all their vibrant shades.  Roses are opening on the bushes.  I love spring and love the idea of new growth.  I'm thankful as always for the beauty around me.  Here are the things that have popped out at me that made me thankful this week.  My Friday Fave Fives.

1.  I just can't help sharing!  Everything is blooming!  The jacaranda trees!  We had an outing to the grocery store, and because we haven't been driving around town, we hadn't seen that the jacaranda trees are blooming!

2.  PAL graduated from preschool this week.  There was no ceremony, but the teachers came by her house and she put on her cap and gown and received her graduation diploma.  We are able to watch the 'ceremony' via skype.  Then her parents sent us these pictures.

In honor of all the masks I've been sewing, I decided to have a bit of fun and sew a mask for Eleanor.

3.  After I sent a picture of Eleanor wearing her mask to show PAL, I decided that her bunny Beatrix needed a mask, too.  So I made another one and mailed it off to her.  It's important to keep our bunnies safe, too.

4.  We miss spending time with The Professor's sister who lives in town.  So today we got take out from our favorite restaurant, Sharky's Woodfired Mexican Grill, and took it to her house where we sat on her front porch and had a social distance lunch with her.

5.  My wonderful art group friends are special to me.  Every Friday morning at 7:30 am, we get together on Skype and chat and pray and discuss a book we've chosen to read.  Now we are reading Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer.  I love this special time with my friends.  We share our art projects and it doesn't matter if we're in our robes sipping our morning coffee.  We just love our time together.

I hope even during this very weird time in our lives that we will continue to keep on keeping on.  We can still be thankful for all the blessings in our lives.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Mother's Day in May

Hello from Willow's little cottage!  It is May and Friday and almost Mother's Day.  It's also 2020, and life is not normal.  Let's put some normalcy into our week and focus on what we are thankful for daily and weekly.  Here is Willow's Week in FRIDAY FAVE FIVES (the link for you to join us).

1.  It has been really hot (for us) this week!  I am thankful for air conditioning!

2.  What we see on our walks.  This week, we walked in the back part of the (closed) neighborhood golf course.  That's where we see deer and bunnies and geese.  Sometimes, we see birds like hawks, owls, quail, and egrets.  And road runners!  The picture isn't great, but Road Runner took off with his crest and tail feathers sticking up.  We don't often get to see the road runners, so that was fun.

3.  My favorite time of day is sunset.  I love the painted skies!

4.  I also love watching the moon rise above the mountain ridge behind our house.

5.  Did you notice that three of the four Faves are about nature?  I love God's creation.  He was the first landscape architect and shares His beauty with us.  My mother was the first person to constantly share her love of nature around us, and I carry that in my earliest memories.  "Oh, look!  The mountain is beautiful today!"  "See the beautiful forest?  There are fir trees and ferns and flowers!"  "Oh!  The ocean is so blue today!"  I'm thankful that my mom instilled her love of nature in me.

my mom in her early 20s


Friday, May 01, 2020

May Day!

May First!  May Day!  Wow, 2020 is moving along. Some days it seems like it is creeping slowly and other days just zip by.  But here we are in the merry month of May (although it doesn't seem so merry right now).   And it's Friday and time for FRIDAY FAVE FIVES here at Willow's Cottage.

1.  I know that it seems like every week when we are focusing on our blessings that someone mentions acts of kindness that people either give or receive.  This week as I was talking with someone, she mentioned how her mom (for whom she is a caregiver) insisted on knocking on a neighbor's door to say hello when they were on a short walk.  It turns out that the neighbor needed help with some things, and so our church care group was able to step up and help.  A knock on a door resulted in an older man being able to get the help that he needed.  I love hearing that story of kindness multiplied.

2.  My friend is decluttering her yarn stash.  I cluttered up my stash with three bunches of beautiful yarn, one white wool yarn, one deep ruby red alpaca yarn, and one hand dyed variegated blue and green merino wool yarn.  I've been scouring various sources searching for just the right pattern for each yarn.  I see lots of blissful shawl and sweater knitting in my future because of my friend's generosity.

3.  I'm thankful for lots and lots of books to read.

4.  I love those phone calls that begin with, "Hi, Mom!"  Those may be my most favorite words ever.

5.  Do you love cloudy days?  I realize that where I live (right now) that most days are sunny.  That's what a mediterranean climate is.  So when we get those "May Gray" and "June Gloom" days, we are enjoy them to the fullest.  We even had some May Gray days at the end of April.  The fog and low clouds hang on the mountains and hover over the coastal plain.  I think it is beautiful, and I'm thankful for cooler days.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Bye, April

Last week of April.  The end of self isolation is Not in sight yet.  How have you spent your week?  I have been focusing on the beauty around me, on blessing others and appreciating how they are blessing me.  That's a whole lot better than grumping about not being able to get out or not having what I want at the store.  Right now we must all focus on what we are thankful for--I'm thankful for FRIDAY FAVE FIVES!

1.  SPRING FLOWERS.  Super bloom is happening!  The poppies are growing wild!  How I love California's state flower.  We walk around the neighborhood, peek out our back window, gaze at the mountainsides.  Poppies everywhere!!  (warning:  poppy picture overload below)

poppies all over my garden

even 'popping' up in my lavender

cream colored poppy

two toned poppy

ruffled poppy 

2.  SKILLS.  More masks made.  Oops. I didn't take  a photo of the five masks I dropped off at the gathering point on my friend's porch this morning.  The call for masks hasn't slowed down.  I've lost count of the number of masks I've made.  It doesn't matter.

3.  KINDNESS.   I made masks for several couples/families in our small group at church.  Some sent me notes to thank me, one gave me flowers and oranges, another shared some homemade carrot cake.  One of the things I am loving about all this crisis time is that I am seeing the KINDNESS of people.

4.  HUMOR.  This made me laugh.  Even the topiary bunny in our neighborhood is maintaining self isolation and social distancing.

5.  LIFE!  The baby I made this kimono for was born this week.  She is a preemie, in NICU, but thriving.  We've prayed her and her mama through all these months of stress and uncertainty.  Soon she'll be home and wearing this little sweater.

What KINDNESS, BEAUTY, or HUMOR have you experienced this week?  And here's hoping that May will be filled with more positive changes.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Focusing on the Good

Hello, Friday.  It is Friday, isn't it?  Or is it Thursday?  I don't think it's Tuesday.  Well, I'm just going with Friday cuz it feels like Friday.  And I feel like doing my Fave Fives.  I know I didn't do much all week online as we are still processing our situation.  See below for an explanation of my last comments last week.  But I am back and choosing to Focus on the Good.  HERE is the link to Friday Fave Fives.

1.  Food pick up and share.  Our local food share is working differently right now.  My sister-in-law usually volunteers there, but even she can't go in to help.  So we all stood outside and handed our bags to workers and they returned them filled with food (from Trader Joe's!).  We reserved a few apples and other fruit for us and dropped the rest off at the home of a young couple with two children.  A bag of apples got left at our pastor's door.  Few things make me happier than sharing things like food with other people.

2.  More masks.  Every time I decide I can set aside the mask making for a few days, I get a notice that someone needs a mask.  One day, The Professor and I drove around and delivered  nine masks for medical staff, three masks for a family who is imminently expecting a new baby, and several other masks to various friends.  This morning, I heard that an older man in our church needed a mask.  The Professor had already cut one; I quickly sewed it up, another friend picked it up, and it has already been delivered.  That's team work!

3.  Nature.  One of the advantages of having a closed golf course on the edge of our neighborhood is that the wild animals have decided to take back their territory.  I watched two hawks soaring above the course; they were screaming at each other, obviously both hunting for the same rabbit.  Deer and bunnies are showing up to eat the green grass.  Even the coyotes are becoming braver and walking the course in daylight.

4.  Garden.  The weather is finally dry and sunny, so I have been able to be out in my garden.  For me, a garden is a source of beauty, solitude, serenity, and self sufficiency.

5.  Coffee!  A few weeks ago, our coffee maker died.  The Professor researched and ordered a new one, but we didn't expect it to arrive until the end of April.  (Fortunately, we have a french press.)  But it was delivered this week and we have been enjoying some excellent coffee made with our new coffee maker.  (And THANK YOU to the Amazon delivery guy who dropped it on our front porch.) Coffee makes my day begin with happiness.

Thank you for all your kind comments and your prayers for us.  I can share with you now what happened.  Our 'adopted' son from Uganda passed away very suddenly at age 29.  Everyone who knew him was shocked.  Daniel was living and working in Doha, Qatar.  We had sponsored him through a program called Ugandan Lambs.  He was an orphan, and we had the privilege of sponsoring him since 2004  through middle school, secondary school and technical school, helping him prepare for his career.  He was an unusually charismatic, encouraging and responsible person who spread joy, kindness and God's love to everyone he met.  His smile would just light up any room and include everyone.  The Professor had been in a zoom Bible Study group with him less than two days before he died.  We were in the process of helping him get a student visa and attend college in the US. Now we are awaiting news of his funeral and burial in Uganda.  How can one express the sorrow of missing 'a son we never met'?  I can hear him saying, "O! Wuw! Mummy!  Heaven is amazing!"  Daniel, I look forward to sharing our experiences of Heaven with you some day.
"How precious in the sight of God is the death of His saints." 
Psalm 116:15.

Good nightsweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”
Shakespeare, Hamlet

Friday, April 10, 2020

It's a Good Friday

Today is a very important day.  Good Friday.  The day we remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  Maybe I should call this Best Friday.

My lenten rose has bloomed just in time

This Easter weekend will be celebrated very differently than any I remember.  We may be isolated at home, but we will be celebrating today and Sunday with others via virtual videos.   I need to reflect back on the Good things of this week.  Here is Willow's Week in Friday Fave Fives.

1.  This morning I spent almost two hours skyping with my art group.  We can't meet together, so we do it virtually.  We all agreed that it is a highlight of our week.

2.  I am loving how our community and church are coming together to make masks, both for the medical facilities and for 'regular people'.  I asked for fabric.  Got it!  I asked for elastic.  Got it!  Wow!  Lots and lots of mask making in my week ahead.

3.  Rain.  Southern Californians never seldom grumble about getting rain.  For us, it is a blessing of renewal and new growth.

4.  Books.  As I take breaks from sewing, I grab a book and READ.  I'm loving my reading times.  Almost as much as I'm loving my daily walks.

5.  I read an article that referenced C.S. Lewis's sermon titled "Learning in War-Time" which he gave in 1939 at the beginning of World War II. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who wishes to read it, but I want to share a couple of things in light of our current world situation.  His advice:  Don't get distracted by too much news.  Look to history--life has always been lived dangerously.  Secondly, don't be frustrated or worried.  Focus on your vocation which is what you are supposed to do today.  For me, that's sewing masks.  Finally, Be Courageous during these trying times. [Can you just imagine reading this timely advice during the bombing of London?]   This was a very encouraging article for me.

Finally, I want to mention that I know I didn't get around to read everyone's FFF posts last week.  Right now I just can't go into details, but we are mourning the loss this week of someone very close to us.  Sometimes, I just have to stop and grieve, and I never know when it is going to hit me. I'll try to do better this coming week.