Thursday, April 10, 2014

It's the Basics

Not every week is filled with exciting adventures.  Sometimes it's good to focus on the little things, the basics.  That's what I did this week.  Here is the Basics Edition of Willow's Week in Friday Fave Fives with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story.

1.  I am thankful for sunshine.  I know the the scientists among us will point out that without the sun, we will all die.  In like five minutes.  No sunshine = no heat.  No sunshine = no light. No life.  We should all be thankful for sunshine.  Specifically, I am thankful for the additional light we are getting as we have passed the spring equinox.  Yay, sunshine!


2.  I am thankful for green plants.  There's that whole photosynthesis thing that happens with sunshine (see #1)  and then the result is green plants.  Green plants mean food.  Food means nourishment.  Nourishment means health.  In Southern California, green plants also mean we just had some rain and the wild plants are growing again on the hillsides so the soil won't erode away and cause landslides, the deer finally have something to eat besides my rose bushes, and it's much prettier to look up at the Santa Monica Mountains and see green, not black ashes and brown dirt.




3.  I am thankful for clean water.  Many people in the world don't have clean water.  I remember having to boil every bit of water we consumed when we were living in the Papuan jungle.  Don't take clean water for granted.  It's a luxury.

4.  I am thankful for my automatic washing machine.  Last week as I was driving around town, I noticed that the car in the traffic lane next to me was filled with stuff.  Upon closer inspection, I realized it was piles of laundry.  It was evident the driver was either going to the laundromat or to Mom's to do laundry.  Have you ever lived without laundry facilities in your house?  Wasn't that FUN?  I've done our laundry in a river.  By hand.  That's not much fun either.  I may have actually kissed my washing machine.  Certainly, I regularly give it's white metal top a little pat and tell it, "Thanks!"

5.  I am thankful for books.  On facebook, I noticed a comment posted by a friend telling that when people asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she replied, "Your favorite book."  She received a wonderful variety of books as gifts.  That caused me to ponder -- what is my favorite book?  How can I choose only one??  I love British authors.  Elizabeth Goudge, Scent of Water. Miss Read. The Year at Thrush Green.  Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night.  I also love children's books.  The Door in the Wall.  The Trumpeter of Krakow.  Just a fraction of my favorite books.  This week I was gifted four Miss Read books. [THANKS, Mary!)  My Easter Break reading!  I *heart* books.

These are simple pleasures.  Just the basics, ma'am.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Batik and Roses

How was your week?  I hope yours was full of blessings!  Here we are in April.  It's really April.  Almost Easter.  This first week of April was mostly a quiet one here at Willow's Cottage which was totally fine with me.  I am sharing my week in Friday Fave Fives with Susanne.

1.  I took a rest day and accompanied a friend to the studio of a batik artist.  My friend had commissioned her to transform two old white linen tablecloths and give them new life as vibrant batik creations.  Having lived in Indonesia, I have a deep love and appreciation for batik.



You can choose most any color or combination of colors from the samples.


Kathryn Hermann is an artist who lives with her art.

Tying up the citrus tree with blue batik scraps


THE damask rose
It smells heavenly


Of course, when I photographed this bloom, I was sure I would remember its name. Huh.  It's a pinkish lavender orchid.  I think.


Oh yeah.  My kind of garden art.


This guy looks real, doesn't he?


2.  Rain.  Twice this week I woke in the night to hear 'pitter pitter pat pat patter' as rain dropped onto our parched earth.  Rain on the roof, on the car, in the street, is the sound of my childhood.  Obviously, I wouldn't want to listen to rain every night, but this week it was a wonderful sound.

3.  The Professor has been busy most evenings with tech rehearsals and dress rehearsals for the play for which he is lighting director at the university (this is his moonlighting job).  I miss him being around but I have savoured the quietness of just sitting and reading* and knitting.  *reading may include reading of student compositions

4.  Decluttering.  I declutter rooms in my house on a regular basis.  You know how stuff just sneaks in and piles up?  I have to wage constant war on the creeping clutter.  Last week as I was cleaning the master bath, I noticed some medicines I had been overlooking.  You know how your eyes just pass over something because it has been there for so long?  We went through all those old meds and were able to toss all but one bottle into the plastic bag which I then dropped off at the local police station.  Decluttering makes my heart happy because I love a clean, simple, uncluttered space.  [Stay tuned for more decluttering--I may be in the mood...]

5.  I've been puttering around in my own little garden this week.  Mostly I have pulled weeds and dumped a few pots which had dead plants in them.  But I picked the first rose.


I hope you will take a few minutes and ponder your blessings and focus on what is on your gratitude list this week.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Hope

Spring is a wonderful season.There is so much freshness, newness and brightness in spring.
It's easy to find things to be thankful for when the sun is shining and the flowers are bursting in to bloom.  Here are my Friday Fave Fives full of brightness, newness, joy and thankfulness.

1.  Spring flowers!
The first California poppy blooms in my garden.


Geraniums in a pot.


Well, look at this.  Lobelia volunteers have taken over another pot.


The first blossoms on the first tomato plant.


2.  A new hiking spot.  Why had I never hiked here before this week?  I've passed the road, noticed the signs pointing to the regional park, but I didn't realize what a treasure was hiding within seven miles of my house!
Hill Canyon Trail
Walking between the cliffs 


along a creek with WATER in it! 


The gigantic California live oak tree.


The tumbleweeds, sage, and horses remind me that we are truly hiking in the Old Wild West.




3.  A colleague of The Professor's is expecting a baby-- a girl.
So I knitted a couple of Plain Vests,
a lavender 3-6 month size


and a turquoise 1 year size
cuz you can't have too many Plain Vests


Particulars for those who knit
Plain Vest by Pickles (oh, I love Pickles patterns)
smaller vest, needles size 6US
baby weight yarn
larger vest, needles size 9US
worsted weight yarn
I used the directions for size 1.

4. My students make me laugh.  Last week, one student wrote a story in which one character, a goldfish, was named (my name) and the other character, a raccoon, was named (The Professor's name).  She explained that she looked up our names so she could write about us.  Such a cute story.  Then this week one class had to write descriptions of people they know and one student wrote about me--she said I'm funny--heheh.

5.  I've saved the best until last-- We Have a Date!  Next month, I am going to become the official forever grandma meema to two precious children- ZG and L.  We've waited almost two and a half years for this day when my daughter and son-in-law will finalize the adoption of these two who have captured our hearts.
 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ah, Spring

Yes, it's spring. Vernal equinox.  I do love spring.  It means flowers and sunshine and vegetable plants for the garden.  So much to be thankful for this week, these first days of spring.  Thanks to Susanne who leads Friday Fave Five.

1.  Spring means my birthday has just passed.  I was born on St. Patrick's Day.


 My sister-in-law sent me this prayer--part of a prayer attributed to St. Patrick (written in 433 A.D.).  I love that my namesake day has such a legacy.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.



2.  My birthday was lovely.  It started with a bit of melodrama-- an earthquake.  Yes, all of Southern California celebrated my birthday, shaking and rocking.  Each of my children contacted me to wish me a Happy Birthday.  Other family and friends wished me a happy day.  I celebrated at noon by having lunch with my boss/friend and another coworker.  Cards, emails, many many facebook messages.  It was a Happy Birthday!

3.  Speaking of flowers--


4.  Holding a new born baby.  He's six weeks old now, this little son of our friends, and oh so snuggly.  Is there anything more wonderful than that?

5.  Spring is considered a time of new beginnings.  For me, that new beginning includes my garden.  It's a time of planning what veggies and flowers I'll purchase and plant.  So far I've bought one tomato plant and ordered two more.  I think I need some herbs like parsley and basil.  You can't have too much parsley or basil.  Oh, and flowers!  What flowers should I buy?

Monday, March 17, 2014

What I Eat, What I Buy

When people find out that I follow a plant based diet, they sometimes ask me what I eat.  (That's after they back away slowly, concerned that the condition might be catching.)  It's really not so weird.  I eat a lot of vegetables and fruit.  I love brown rice, lentils, black beans, and hummus.  That's normal.  I just don't eat anything with a mother or a face (link here to a better description) although I very occasionally have a bit of salmon. (Yes, salmon has a face and a mother.  I'm not perfect.)

First:  what I don't eat.  In cleaning out the refrigerator this week, I noticed a half empty jar of sweet relish.  Hmmmm, I don't eat it. I don't remember buying it.  I threw out the relish and recycled the jar.  There was a mostly full squeezable container of Miracle Whip back there too.  Best used by date:  May 2010.  Oops.  Neither The Professor nor I eat it anymore.  Out it went too.  Obviously, we haven't been eating those items.  Or the expired Crisco.  The cooked ground beef stayed and so did the other meat.  Those belong to The Professor.

Now:  what I do eat.


Here's the list from today's local farmers market:

spinach, 2 bags
romaine lettuce, 2 huge heads
carrots, 3 bunches
kale, 1 bunch
cucumbers, a dozen
broccoli, 2 heads
little red potatoes, 12
celery, 1 gigantic bunch
baby bok choy, 6
tomatoes, 3
green beans, 1 bag
brussel sprouts, 1 box
asparagus, 3 bunches
sprouted lentils, 1 baggie
sprouted clover, 1 baggie
strawberries, 3 baskets
apples, 7 large
avocado, 3
whole wheat pita chips, 1 box (my decadent indulgence)
dates, 1 package (his indulgence)


asparagus should be placed upright in a bowl partly filled with water until you are ready to steam or roast it and gobble it up

Then we added a few things from the grocery store like bread, frozen blueberries, trail mix, 2 green peppers, 8 bananas, some anaheim peppers and tomatillos for the green salsa The Professor plans to cook up this week.  We threw in 3 cans of garbanzo beans, 2 jars of olives (for hummus) and some almond milk.  Oh, I almost forgot-- a lb of coffee, and green juice to add to our smoothies, and wine, and chocolate.

Will we eat all of this in one week?  Mostly.  The garbanzos were a stock item and we may run in to next week on the carrots and celery because we still had some in the refrigerator.  I'm sure we will be eating our breakfast oats (me) and eggs (him) and maybe some rice and lentils (and meat for him).  But that's it.

It's simple and so easy to purchase and eat what keeps my heart healthy.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Whirlwind Trip and Home

1.  We do love road trips.  Last weekend, we drove to Arizona.  A trip to Phoenix from coastal California takes us from Santa Monica Mountains into metro Los Angeles, past the San Gabriel Mountains, through the Coachella Valley (Palm Springs) and then into the Arizona desert.  That's a whole lot of climate changes in one day.  We passed peaks with a little bit of snow still on them.


 We blew past the acres and acres of wind mill farms.  Then we whizzed into sand and cactus country.

One small bonus was the spring flowers blooming along the highway.  One doesn't usually connect flowers with desert, but even a tiny amount of rain will cause the desert flowers to bloom.



2.  The main reason we drove a total of fourteen hours on California and Arizona highways was to spend a couple of days with The New Boy.  His mama was busy being a bridesmaid in a wedding so we took charge of The New Boy's entertainment.  It turned out that we spent most of our time in parks, playing.  This was his request.  We also went for a swim.  At least, HE went for the swim.  We watched.  The water was NOT WARM.  Arizonans don't heat their pools in the winter or spring.  It was lovely to have that time making memories with him.  And his mama.

Here he is making his fierce face and posing with his favorite drink, Starbuck's ice water and the paper sword with which he defended his territory.


3.  Also, our oldest, Son #1 and his wife live in Phoenix so we shared many hours with them.  When you don't live near your family, you treasure every moment.

4.  The Professor and I are good road trip buddies.  He loves to drive.  And he's a good driver.  Usually, I sprawl sit in the passenger seat and read or knit.  Once in a while, we'll talk, but mostly, we're quiet.  I'm thankful we are congenial companions.

5.  I have begun meeting again with my artist friends group.  We are reading through the book A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman.  I've barely begun reading, but I think it's going to be a favorite.

I'm keeping up with my Lent gratitude journal.  Three simple sentences each evening which sum up my thankful heart.  I'm thankful too for Susanne's faithfulness in leading us in Friday Fave Fives.

Deep breath.  It's Friday.  I'm ready for the weekend.  My plans are simple--just being home to do the usual weekend stuff.  I'm looking forward to it.  What are your plans?

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Lent Begins, Fave Fives Continue

I missed my Fave Fives last Friday.  I had finished 4/5 of the post but just ran out of time because we were not at home.  We were in San Diego helping Daughter #2 finish up packing for her big cross country move.

1. Speaking of moving, I want to spend every possible minute and hour with our girl and the grandchildren before they are 3,000 miles and 3 hours time change away.  Although we were busy cleaning, decluttering, and packing, we still had plenty of time for hugs and snuggles.

2.  One item that wasn't packed and will stay close to a little girl for long distance snuggling is the afghan I finally finished knitting.



It's a large blankie because she's a tall girl.  We had to measure it.


Details (if you care):  64" x 48".  Size #9 needles.  Simply Soft yarn.

3. A rain storm. Another rain storm.  While this is certainly not an El Nino year of constant rains, we have finally had some rain.  Southern California desperately needs rain, and we are thankful for every drop of precipitation.  The sound of rain on the roof.  For this Native Oregon girl, the patter of raindrops is a comforting and memory inducing noise.  I fell asleep two nights to the pat, pat, pat, swoosh, of rain.

4. A highlight of my weeks occurred the last Sunday in February.  I attended Healthy Taste of Ventura which is a seminar focused on---healthy eating choices.  The premise of Healthy Taste is that eating a plant-based diet is the healthiest diet possible.  Since I have been eating that way for more than three years, I guess I'd have to agree.  It's my choice.  The seminar encouraged me to keep on keeping on.

5.  Lent Season is here.  I can't decide if I love Advent or Lent better.  People often focus their attention on giving up something for Lent.  This year I've decided to do something different--I am 'adding' something.  Every evening during the forty days of Lent, I plan to write into a journal three things for which I am grateful.  I'm not a journal girl, but I've been wanting to start a gratitude list, so this is a fitting time to do so.  Do you have a plan for celebrating Lent?

This was Willow's Two Weeks.  If  I don't get around to read and comment on others' Fave Fives, it's not because I don't care.  It's because I will be traveling again this weekend.  Thanks to Susanne for her faithful leadership in Friday's Fave Fives.