Thursday, May 19, 2016

It's a Wrap

Happy Friday!  Happy Friday Fave Fives!  Here is Willow's Week...

1.  The door on my front loading washer broke.  As I was pulling it open after it finished a load of towels, the plastic handle snapped.  It wasn't completely detached, but I couldn't open the door.  As I stood there contemplating how I was going to rescue those wet towels from a moldy, mildewy death, suddenly I had an inspiration.  One might call it a McGyver moment.  DUCT TAPE!  Duct Tape will hold that handle together.  Duct Tape fixes everything.  So I did.  And it does.  To be sure, this is merely a temporary solution, so in the next few weeks, there may be more Faves on the subject of either new washers or repaired washers.

2.  "You are invited..."  My nephew's wife is imminently expecting their first child.  Last weekend there was a baby shower.  So I nudged my sister-in-law into accompanying me on that perilous journey to Los Angeles County to celebrate this new addition to the clan.  Other sister-in-law was there too and we had a gay old time laughing together and hanging out with the grandmas to be and the aunties, too.

3.  Congratulations to me!  As of this week, I am RETIRED!  I taught my last regular writing class.

4.  The end of the year is always fun and the students were in great form as we closed out the year.  We played Mrs. Willow's IEW* Jeopardy which they love. They shared goodies and also showered me with lovely gifts.  Obviously, they are aware that I love my coffee because there were a couple of caffeine related gift cards.  *Institute for Excellence in Writing--the curriculum I teach.

5.  I think the best gift I received was orchestrated by my most creative teenage helper who is practicing to be a TA.  She secretly arranged for all the students in the Thursday classes to write notes to me which she printed and bound into a book of memories. So. So. Sweet.  I will treasure it forever.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Willow's Cottage on a Tuesday

I have a new coffee mug!  The rule here at Willow's Cottage is one in, one out.  I've needed to replace one of my morning mugs which has developed a crack.  So I found just what I wanted at the potter's stall at Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest on Sunday.  All my favorite colors!  And yes, the coffee tasted great this morning!

You can never have too many photos of the California state flower!  These poppies volunteered this spring in my back garden.  I love the yellow and orange combo.

The delphinium is blooming its little heart out.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mothers, Sons and Sunsets

Happy Friday!  Here is Willow's Week in Friday Fave Fives.  This edition is mostly about Mother's Day.

1.  None of my children live within the same state where we are, so holidays aren't often celebrated together.  Chaplain Dan's military assignment brought him to within 100 miles of us last weekend, so we happily hopped on a couple of Los Angeles freeways to drive to where he had a couple of hours free before he returned to Arizona.  So I got to spend a bit of Mother's Day weekend with my first born.

2.  I posted the above photo on facebook on Mother's Day and was delighted to see that it received more than 100 likes/loves from friends.  Yeah, I know it's facebook, and it's not like it's hard to 'like' a photo, but it still made me happy.

3.  Although they are spread out across the US (and sometimes the world), my four adventurers always check in with me on special days.  I wonder if they know how much those phone calls mean to me.

4.  I always love a sunset.  May and June are great months to photograph sunsets here because the seasonal fog which creeps in most evenings creates interesting shapes in the sky as the sun sets.  This photo was snapped from the car as The Professor was driving home from our meet up with Chaplain Dan in Orange County (#1).

5.  I hope you like bug and caterpillar pictures!  Here is a monarch butterfly caterpillar (larva).  In spring they are usually crawling all over our milkweed plants and devouring all the leaves until nothing is left of the poor milkweed.  Evidently this one was either scouting for more leaves or searching for a spot to build its cocoon as it was meandering aimlessly around my patio which is completely devoid of milkweed.  Which end is his head and which his tail?  Why would I choose caterpillars as a fave?  Well, I like them.  They're cute.  And they're fun to photograph.

Monday, May 09, 2016

They're Everywhere! They're Everywhere!

          After writing a bit on Friday about jacaranda trees, I have been noticing them everywhere.  They're in the Trader Joe's parking lot.  They are growing along the freeway.  Obviously they have been planted in the dead spaces at the on and off ramps on The 101.  I've noticed those gorgeous towering blooming branches in the neighborhoods next to mine, along the avenues, and at the doctor's office.

          We moved to Southern California in February 2002.  That first spring I saw purple trees.   In that grey cement and black asphalt wasteland which is called Los Angeles, all of a sudden, there was purple.  Purple everywhere.  Magnificent purple trees lined the streets.  Then the blossoms dropped all over the grey and black and transformed it into a fairyland of lavender pathways.  As suddenly as the purple appeared, it disappeared.  I forgot about them.
          The next spring, those invisible trees bloomed again and everyone exclaimed about the 'jacaranda trees blooming'.  It seems that when the jacarandas bloom, it's a rite of passage from winter to true spring.  I assumed that 'jacaranda' was a Spanish word for a Spanish or Mexican tree and was pronounced 'haw-ca-rawnda'.  But, no.  The name originated from the Guarani language (in South America) and is pronounced 'jack-a-randa'.

          Evidently, people either love them or hate them.  They're big.  They're bossy and like to take over.  See those huge pods hanging down in bunches?  It turns out that they're messy, too.

Since I don't have to clean up after their messy throw-everything-on-the-ground-when-they're-done-with-it ways and I don't have to hack-saw them down, I love them.

Friday, May 06, 2016


I was truly tempted to title this post May Day!  May Day!  I think everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is happy that May has arrived bringing spring and flowers and showers and sun.  I know I am happy that's it's May.  It's also Friday and that means celebrating Friday Fave Fives with Susanne.

1.  These trees!  Every year I look forward to finding the first blooming jacaranda tree of the season.  Usually jacarandas bloom in May.  They burst into brilliant purple after standing in nondescript anonymity all year long on streets and in parking lots.  

2.  May Gray.  Normally I'm not a fan of gloomy gray days.  But in May and June our climate is highlighted lowlighted by 'early morning coastal fog and low cloudiness'.  The clouds help keep the late spring/early summer temperatures down.

3.  Because of visitors coming, I put extra effort into having my whole house clean and uncluttered at the same time.  Usually I will focus on one part of the house and then the rest is ignored and gets cluttered up.  But visitors prompted a whole house pick up.  The cleaning isn't the fave--the tidy house is.

4.  Quiet mornings when I can sit and relax while sipping my coffee.

5.  Birds.  They chatter.  They chirp.  They sing.  I love listening to them.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Closing Out April

Happy Friday!  And Happy Friday Fave Fives.  Here is Willow's Week in five short bits of thankfulness.  And so we finish April.

1.  Trying to work on my macro photography.  Jasmine in my garden.  I am thankful for a good camera.

2.  After finishing six hats, I decided to pull out a new project.  Several years ago, I spun some fiber I bought on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.  I knitted a sweater -- nearly finished it.  But it just wasn't right.  It didn't fit.  So I abandoned it.  My niece lives now just north of where I bought the wool.  So this week I began knitting her a shawl to wear during those cold, damp months when this wool fiber will be warm and welcome.  I love a new project!

3.  Watching the 1965 production of The Agony and the Ecstasy.  Having been to Rome and the Sistine Chapel, I am enjoying this story of the painting of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo.

4.  Again this year, I planted milkweed plants in the garden.  The ones I put in last spring didn't survive the hungry caterpillars, the larvae of the monarch butterflies.  So I'm trying again.  This week I planted three more.  Here's hoping these thrive.

5.  This spring I have been studying The Lord's Prayer in my Friday morning Bible Study.  Do you know the Lord's Prayer?  Do you identify with praying it?  I've been reminded that my allegiance is for God and I recognize my dependence on Him.

Pray, then, in this way:‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day [a]our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from [b]evil. 
[c][For Yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

Friday, April 22, 2016

Little Things

This week my focus has been on little things.  Sometimes that is a good thing.  Not every week has to be 'amazing'.  But I'm still thankful.  Here are Willow's Week's Fave Fives, linked to Susanne's Friday Fave Fives.

1.  Garden.  An offer for free broccoli starts.  Planted five in my garden for another experiment.

2.  Garden.  The sweet potatoes are growing.  Some better than others.

3.  Garden.  This seems to be a theme...  We ate our first snap peas and I had a salad today with spinach and kale, all from the garden.

4.  Garden.  Do you know what this plant is?  It's cotton.  Brown cotton, to be specific. Yes, I have another experiment.  Will they grow?

5.  OK.  Changing focus.  Knitting.  I do love my hats!  I've finished four and am nearly done with the fifth.  How many will I make before I am bored with this pattern?  I found it interesting that when I was working on the green hat, two people commented on how they like the color--and it is my least favorite.

Bonus:  The fruit man at the farmers market gives me the apples which he can't sell because they are bruised or have small rotten spots.  Magically, they turn into dried apple slices in my dehydrator.  Over the past two weeks, I've cut and dried A LOT of batches of apples!