Friday, February 17, 2017

Snow, Sun, and Rain

Happy Friday Fave Fives from a very rainy and stormy Willow's Cottage.  (Follow the link to join us in celebrating the blessings of our week.)  I sit in my cosy cottage and gaze out at the falling rain and give thanks for so many things including but not limited to a safe and dry home with indoor plumbing.  Here are five samples of how my week went.

1.  My weather week went from this:
snow at night

to this:

sunshine and green grass on the mountains above my neighborhood

blue ocean and blue skies

2.  I knew that more rain was predicted for our area, so I took a day to work in the garden.  The hyacinth is in bloom now, as are the daffodils.

I planted tomatoes and snap peas and marigolds.  I cleaned up buckets of fallen camellia blooms.  I repotted my chocolate mint.

3.  And today it is RAINING.  Again.  No, I won't stop being thankful for the rain!  With this storm and the next one headed our Southern California way, we might actually move out of drought status.  Fortunately, I finished all my errands yesterday, so I can stay home today.  (Hint:  if you live in Southern California, don't assume people actually know how to drive in rain!)

4.  Our son Dr. Mike happened to be traveling through Los Angeles, so he arranged to spend a couple of days with us.  I flew in to LAX. The Professor picked me up.  Then we drove directly to our favorite Indonesian restaurant and met him there.  Of course we savored our meal.  Since he was here for a few days, The Professor arranged for him to speak at the university on the most recent research he has been doing which was of interest to more than one department--Comp Sci, Anthropology, and Environmental Science.

Mama might have been a bit proud of her boy.

5.  I drove him to LAX the next morning to fly back to snow and ice.  Since it took two hours to navigate the freeways to deliver him there,

I decided to treat myself to a leisurely drive home via Pacific Coast Highway.  The beach photos above were taken near Mugu Beach campground.  Also, on the mountain side of the highway, I noticed that the coreopsis are blooming!  I just had to pull over, jump out and walk up the trail a bit.

Do you see the specks of yellow on the crest of the hill? Those are giant coreopsis.  The large stumps look like dead cactus most of the year.  But in the spring, they bloom with clumps of yellow daisy like flowers.

This  zoomed in photo shows more details. 

 And the poppies are blooming, too!  (See what a little rain will produce?)

I am so thankful for the beauty in nature around me and for my family!

Friday, February 10, 2017

February Faves

I missed posting my Friday Fave Fives last week because I was here.

I left this

and flew east over the Rocky Mountains and across the Great Plains.  The New Boy is now the Big Boy because he turned nine years old this week, and for the first time in many years, I was there to celebrate with him.

So here are my Friday Fave Fives for the past two weeks.

1.  The frequent rains in Southern California (I just can't let that one go, can I?) are keeping my garden happy.

By the time I return from The Big Boy's home, my hyacinth with be blooming!

I planted parsley!

We've been enjoying these daily.

2.  A Lego themed birthday party at the roller skating rink.

3.  On Saturday we spent several hours at the EnterTRAINment museum in Cincinnati.  Eleanor Elizabeth asked to go, too.  She enjoyed it almost as much as The Big Boy.

"Which one is your office?" I asked.

4.  This has been an unusual week since Older Daughter is at work during the day and The Big Boy is at school.  Consequently, I've had a lot of 'down time' at home since a contractor is here working on a bathroom remodel.  And I don't drive in snow.

I'm catching up on some reading for the Herbalism Workshop and Materia Medica classes I'm taking.  As you can see, I'm not alone.  I have both canine and feline company.

5.  Older Daughter has arranged her schedule so she can be home part of a couple of days.  We're organizing and decluttering which I love to do.  There may be some coffee dates in there, too.

All in all, it has been a pleasant and productive time.  How was your week?

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

An England Adventure, Part 3

As I mentioned in the previous post, we followed the path up the hill along the Ridge Way.  We were on our way to find Silbury Hill and West Kennet Long Barrow.  There were few signs and we had to guess where we were headed.  At the top of the knoll, we turned right and walked up to the crest of the hill.

There was Silbury Hill in the valley to the west.  Silbury Hill is an ancient man made mound constructed of chalk.  According to Wikipedia and various travel guides, it is also the site of a Roman town.

For safety reasons, the hill is not open to the public although as you will see in photos at the bottom of this post, sheep are welcome to graze in the fields around the hill.

We walked the path along the river and to the highway.  We knew that West Kennet Long Barrow was across the road to the south.  Climbing over the fences, we came to a gully and crossed on the huge stone 'bridge'.  Later, I looked it up and decided it must be Swallow Head Spring.  There was evidence around the spring that it was a site for Summer Solstice celebrations (ribbons, etc.)

As we searched for any signs or directions for the Barrow, we trudged through plowed fields.  There were broken stones everywhere.  On the outside, they looked like bones, but on the inside, there were shiny black stones.  Maybe onyx?  Of course, I had to stop and investigate.  I kept one small stone.

We walked and walked.  We never did find the Barrow.  Evidently we were about 100 yards too far west when we crossed the highway.  Probably the Barrow is on the other side of those trees and to the right a bit.

Finally, we gave up and decided to return to Avebury as it was getting late and dark and we were getting hungry and cold.  (We figure that there is always an opportunity for another adventure and visit to Wiltshire.)  You can see in the photo that it was almost dusk by the time we passed by Silbury Hill again.

Instead of returning the way we came, we followed the river path back to Avebury.  Wonder of wonders, there was a sign pointing toward Avebury.  We passed a few walkers and their dogs, so we knew we were on a well traveled path.  We didn't want a repeat of our adventure of the night before when we wandered in the dark in unknown and unmarked fields. Even so, it was dark and still rainy by the time we got to the Red Lion.  An excellent dinner revived our spirits.
We asked our server there if he knew exactly where the Barrow was.  Yes, we were one field west of the path we should have taken.  Why, oh why, are there NO SIGNS to these famous ancient archaeological sites??

We returned by bus to our AirBnB, but we made sure that our driver knew where to stop and let us off.  Tea, a cordial hostess, and a hot shower awaited us.

Thus ended our second day of our England Adventures.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Fave Fives, January Style #4

What a week!  It was a week spent inside a Superior Court courtroom and jury deliberation room.  Yes, I spent four days this week (as well as two days last week) on jury duty.  I'm done now with my civic duty for a year.

What are my Friday Fave Five take-aways that I am thankful for this week?

1.  I'm thankful that I live in a country where people can serve on juries and there is law and order, and (for the most part) that law and order are upheld.

2.  I'm thankful for a sweet and wonderful nephew who although he is a busy lawyer took two lunch times to pop over and have lunch with me.

3.  I'm thankful that traffic wasn't bad.  Highway 101 traffic can be terrible, but I didn't really have any difficulty arriving on time or being delayed on the way home.  Even in the rainstorms, the traffic only slowed a little.

4.  Rainstorms!  Yes, once again rain is in my fave five list!  The storm on Monday was impressive.  I vote for a couple more of those in February!

5.  A chamber orchestra concert on the weekend.  The very talented director of chorale and orchestra at the university presented a concert featuring five teenage performers for our county at the concert.  It was amazing, and The Professor and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

No photos this week.  Who wants to see the inside of a courtroom?

Monday, January 23, 2017

An English Adventure, Part 2


Avebury is an ancient village in England.  To give an idea of its location, think of it as west of London, east of Bath, and north of Salisbury.  Avebury is a village built in and around ancient pillars similar to Stonehenge.  In my opinion, while Stonehenge is awesome to visit, Avebury is much more interesting because one can walk around the village and touch the stones in the circle.  Stonehenge is cordoned off, and no one can walk inside the stone circle.

The Professor and I had visited Avebury  in 2004, but my daughter wanted to see this ancient site.  One of her life goals is to visit all the ancient sites on a list she has.  Yes, interest in ancient history is a theme in Willow's family.

The first order of the day was LUNCH.  Lunch in the Red Lion Pub.

Eleanor enjoyed her lunch, too.

It's always a good thing to kiss the lion.

How can I describe the amazing experience of walking around this place?
The village itself was lovely, even in the rain, or maybe especially in the rain as the misty atmosphere added to its mystery.  Wouldn't you love to live in a place like this?

The church and the chapel

And the sheep!  There really were sheep grazing everywhere.  I wonder if it ever occurs to those sheep that they are wandering around in a famous and aged place, or do they just focus on that next chomp of grass?

But it was the standing stones and circles which delighted and drew us to this place.
This link and this link and this link will describe the history and significance of the stones.  There is just too much for me to write, and the official sites do a better job of it.  But here are photos of our experience there.

The stones along the ridge way led us to our next adventure...