Friday, April 03, 2020

Bad News Good News

Is it really April??  Wow.  This fast pace (on one hand) is making my head spin.  The slow pace of being at home (on the other hand) is also making me lose track of days.  It seems like our world is full of Bad News/Good News.   I am trying to focus on the Good News part.  Here are my Bad News Good News Friday Fave Fives.

1.  Bad News.  We are fighting a pandemic.  Good News.  We're all working on flattening the curve.

2.  Bad News.  We can't meet with friends and coworkers.  Good News.  You tube Sunday morning church services.  Zoom small groups.  Skype calls with some of my besties.

3.  Bad News.  Some people can't get out to shop.  Good News.  Our community, neighborhood, church are banding together (metaphorically speaking) to make sure people have what they need.  Example:  I just now had FRESH STRAWBERRIES dropped off on my door step.  Bliss!!

4.  Bad News.  Our health workers in the county are struggling to have enough masks.  Good News:  Some people in our community have banded together to make masks.  Personal detail here:  my friend (the same one who dropped off those strawberries) is providing fabric to make the masks. I think people are going through their stashes.  Some people are cutting the fabric.  Others are delivering it.  After burrowing around in our storage unit, we found the box where my sewing machine is packed.  I brought it home, set it up, and made fifteen masks yesterday--almost done; I just have the ties to sew on.  Also, we've ordered fabric from a store (drive by store pick up) so I can make masks for ourselves since our county is starting to require everyone to wear masks out in public areas.

5.  Bad News.  No.  I jut can't do any more bad news.  Good News.  The Professor and I are safe and well.  We have plenty of food to eat.  We are feeling the love of our community and are able to give back some of that love.

How are you handling the Bad News and Good News?

Friday, March 27, 2020

Blessings in Isolation 1

Hello, world!  How are you all faring in this new situation of isolation, fear and pandemic?  I hope you are able to focus on the blessings of finding new ways to connect with people.  I've discovered how Zoom for Bible Study classes and Skype for friends to chat can almost take the place of meeting together in real life.  I love how our church has quickly developed ways to stay in touch, see/hear sermons, and offer help.  It would be easy for me to focus on the fear, but I find that noting (and writing) my blessings daily and weekly is a huge help.  Here is Willow's Week in Friday Fave Fives.

1.  More walks.  Since the parks are closed, we have been walking around (and around) our neighborhood.  One day, we logged over five miles.

2.  More friendliness.  We've noticed on our amblings around the area that more people are outside, and they are friendlier.  They say, "Hi!"  They smile.  They wave.

3.  More knitting.  I've finished the blanket for a soon to arrive baby girl.  (Can you imagine telling your child, "Yes, you were born in the middle of a pandemic"?)

4.  More garden.  Since everything has stopped in the real estate area, I decided to assume that we won't be moving in the next two months; so I planted my garden.  Cauliflower. Broccoli. Celery.  Lettuce.  Tomatoes.  Basil.  It's a start.

5.  More kindness.  I have a tendency to always be the one to offer help.  But this week, we were blessed by two young women in our church.  One went to the store and got some almond milk.  And a second one drove over and dropped that wonderful gift on my porch.  It was a good opportunity for me to work on accepting the blessing.

And here is a bit of humor that I documented on one of our walks.

Geese doing their part for social distancing

But evidently they haven't been properly training their goslings.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Five Birthday Faves

Hello from sheltered Willow's Cottage!  Yes, I'm in California.  That means I'm home.  Being forced encouraged to stay home is not a really hard thing for this somewhat introverted person.  We have food and water, books and more books.  Right now, we're good.  I want to be an encourager--here are five things that I am thankful for this week, my FRIDAY FAVE FIVES.

Usually, my birthday is celebrated all over the world with parades and green glitter.  This year, none of that happened, but this birthday is certainly one I will remember.

1.  We went shopping at two grocery stores.  Fortunately the lines weren't long and the stores had everything on our list.  I am thankful for food.

2.  We made one more stop:  for a birthday pie.  I didn't choose the St. Patrick's Day cookies or cupcakes.  I wanted pie.  Thank you, Professor, for letting me stop and get it.  And thank you, Marie Callender's, for being open.

3.  Other than that one day of grocery shopping, we have been home.  We have taken two walks every day which has been encouraging--sunshine, clouds, flowers, bunny rabbits.

4.  My son and his family sent me birthday gifts which are coming slowly via Amazon delivery.  So far, I have received THREE books (YAY! I have time to read!) and a beautiful skein of merino wool sock yarn.  Note the color:  hummingbird.  PAL was so excited to tell me she chose it because it is 'hummingbird'.  I know what I'm going to be doing the next few days.  All other knitting projects will be put on hold while I knit my hummingbird socks.

5.  Peace.  Trust.  I am focusing on some Bible verses.  Joshua 1:9. Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.  Psalm 28:7.  The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.

In these distressing days, where are you finding thankfulness, peace and comfort?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Photos to Cheer You Up

Here at Willow's Cottage, we have been staying home.  The corona virus has necessitated that.  So I have been focusing on all the things that make me happy here at home.  Enjoy them with me!

Birthday pie.
I much prefer a good pie to any cake.

Flowers in my garden

The monarch caterpillars are chewing away at the milkweed, getting long and chubby.  They are about ready to spin their cocoons and undergo metamorphosis to become magnificent monarch butterflies.

This bunny was left in the garden by the former owners of the cottage.  No, he's not real.  He's a small statue.  I have adopted him, and he will be moving with us to our new garden.

And finally, a blankie and a book.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Lent, Week Three

Happy Friday Fave Fives!  I hope you are staying well and being careful to avoid getting sick.  It is so important to find the blessings and sunshine in the midst of this storm.  Here is a link to where you can find others who are sharing their Fave Fives.

1.  My older son, Chaplain Dan, received notification this week that his name has been posted to the promotion board and he is in line to be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel!  We don't know when the ceremony and promotion will take place, but we will do everything we can to be with him and attend the ceremony!  I'm so thankful for this confirmation of his hard work, scholarship and dedication.

2.  World's Best Neighbor has a little patch of rhubarb in her garden.  Whenever she has some freshly picked, she shares it with me because she know I love it.  This week, I made a small rhubarb strawberry crisp.  YUM!

3.  March is my birthday month.  In fact, I share my birthday with a very special person--St. Patrick.  So this week at our monthly Mom to Mom group meeting at our church, the other leaders surprised me with a bouquet of roses, a tiara, and a Hobby Lobby gift card!  Surprised is the exactly correct word.  I had NO IDEA even as our co-leader called me up to the front.  I thought she was going to have me make an impromptu announcement or something.  And all the young women wrote notes on a card.  I feel SO LOVED!

4.   I am really thankful that we were able to meet with all the younger moms because it may be the last time for awhile, considering all the closures that are happening all over our county because of the corona virus.

5.  RAIN!  We have been getting rain this week.  I am convinced that we were responsible for the first day of rain.  Why?  We took a nice long walk, and when we were at the farthest spot away from the house, of course, the rain started.  By the time we made it home, we were truly 'soaked to the skin'.  You're welcome, Southern California!

I think it's important to find the sunshine even in the rain.  Let's find the sunshine, the blessings, in the rainstorms of every week.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Lent Week Two

Happy Friday on this second week of Lent.  I'm late posting my Friday Fave Fives (see below for my excuse).  The link is where you go to join the FFF bunch. I hope you have found blessings in this week as I have:

1.  Foggy mornings.  "Early morning coastal fog, giving way to sunshine later in the day."  It seems like our usual May and June weather has arrived early. I love how the fog sits on the mountains and hovers over the valleys.

2.  Dinner with out of town friends.  They were visiting this week from Arizona, so eight of us got together and enjoyed a fun time.

3.  New cell phones!  It was really past time to replace the old ones. The Professor did all the research and we walked in to the store and just like that we had our new phones.  This time we also bought an 'otterbox' for each of us (it's an extra sturdy casing for the phone).  I'm so thankful for a new cell phone.

4.  This really deserves its own fave.  The new phone has a great camera!

The poinsettia bushes that line the road up to Camarillo Grove Park

5.  I had intended to write this post earlier today, but we decided to take our walk first.  Well, that walk turned into a regular hike and we just kept on going.  There is a park (Camarillo Grove Park) about 1.5 miles from our home, but we hadn't been up there since the city had added a nature center and trail.  Our three mile walk turned into a four mile HIKE.  The nature trail is basically a mountainside switchback up and down and around.  And we didn't even do all of the trail because it was getting late (and cold).  So we will plan another day.  I love the serendipity of an unexpected and fun hike.

Where did you find blessings in your week?

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Bloom Time

It's bloom time at Willow's Cottage.
The sun is shining.
The sky is blue.
California poppies are popping up everywhere in my garden.

The calendula plants are self sowing.
I love their cheery faces.

Potted plants are proudly showing their colors.

Spring always means camellias.
Frilly light pink ones.

Dark pink camellias.

Variegated pink blooms.

Even the pansies are showing up in their pots.

Oh how I love Bloom Time!

Friday, February 28, 2020

Lent Week One

I love Christmas season.  And I love Lent season.  Lent arrived very early this year--in the end of February.  I have had to jump in, ready or not.  I have felt like that about my whole week, too.  I really needed to stop this week and consider the blessings.  Here are my Friday Fave Fives. The link is to Susanne's blog where you can join if you want to do your own FFF.

1.  I am thankful for The Professor who was a prof in computer science.  He knew what went wrong with the scroll pad on my laptop and diagnosed it as a hardware problem.  And he convinced me to get a mouse.  He even showed me how to fix that 'little rodent' so it works with my left hand (backwards)!  Now, I'm learning to use it.

2.  I survived Sunday.  It was a loooong day.  All morning at church, of course.  Then a luncheon meet and greet with a missionary our church supports.  THEN a baby shower for a friend's granddaughter. evening with friends.  Yup.  It was amazing that I didn't fall asleep. (And we had company on Saturday--two young men we call our 'grandsons' who drove up from LA to have The Professor show them step by step how to do their taxes. And then we enjoyed s meal with them at our favorite burrito place.)

3.  Here is the little outfit I knitted with the new baby.  It's a girl!

I am also making a kimono and matching hat and a blankie which I will show here - when it's finished.

4.  I love it when the birds randomly show up.  I glanced out my front window and discovered this egret posing on my neighbor's driveway!  I am thankful for God's beauty all around me!

5.  It is Lent season.  My artist friends and I are reading a book and meeting each Friday morning (early!) to discuss it.  We chose Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson. We met today and I think I'm going to like this book.  At first, I wasn't sure, but as we talked about it together, I began to see so much more in what Peterson wrote.

Bonus:  A quote (one of many!) from the book:  "Since we were made to glorify God, worship happens when someone is doing exactly what he or she was made to do."  If I am made to create things out of yarn, that is worship.  If I am compelled to grow a bountiful garden, that is worship.  If the Professor is made to solve all those technical problems, that is worship.  And "The spark of the idea (for creating) was HOPE; the work that led to (the creation) was FAITH; the completion of it leads to WORSHIP."

Friday, February 21, 2020

Stop, Think, Be Thankful

Wow!  What a week here at Willow's Cottage!  It was busy, just plain and simple, busy.  But in the busyness, I stopped every once in a while to think, "I'm thankful for this" and "I'm thankful I can do this".  This is why I post my Friday Fave Fives every week.  It's a way for me to remember to stop, think and be thankful.  Here is the link if you want to join in:  Friday Fave Fives.

1.  On Sunday, we attended a conference.  The WHOLE conference is one that is focused on health.  This is the fifth or sixth year I have attended and The Professor went with me this time.  Excellent speakers on how to prevent dementia and other diseases through diet (whole food plant based) and life style choices.  We came home with renewed focus on what we can do to remain healthy.

2.  Usually, we don't host the sermon-based small group we attend because there are seventeen people in it and our little cottage simply won't hold that many people  But since three people were sick and six people were out of town, we were able to invite the remaining eight people to our home.  It is good that we have to keep our home 'show ready' for potential buyers and that means it's company ready, too.

3.  Lunch at Ventura Harbor with long long time friends.  I've mentioned them before because he is The Professor's oldest (as in longest time) friend.  They are moving in less than three weeks and wanted to have lunch at their favorite seafood restaurant at the harbor.  So we met them there.  Then after lunch, we wandered along the harbor a bit and ended up at a little French cafe for coffee and a bit of dessert.  We know we'll see them again soon as they are moving only a day's drive from where we will be living (when we move).

4.  A Day to remember!  Our son, Dr. Mike, was at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. conference this week in Orange County, CA.  For those people not from the West Coast, think Disneyland.  In fact, the convention center is next to Disneyland, so we waved at Mickey as we drove past.  Anyway, we spent a wonderful day with Dr. Mike following him around as he visited the exhibitors and posters in one hall.  That was information overload for me, but it was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!  We were able to meet some of his colleagues and also learn a bit more about his work. (No, he is not Dr. Bones.  He consults with forensic scientists.)  It was a day that will remain high on my list of 'best days of my life'.

Horrible photo of the three of us taken in the covered hotel driveway with the light above us.

5.  That day when NOTHING was on the calendar. Smile. Sigh. Rest.

What happened in your life this week that made you Stop, Think, and Be Thankful?

Friday, February 14, 2020

Coffee and Three Bench Hike

After a busy weekend and busier than I like week, here we are on Valentine's Day and a Friday so I am posting my Friday Fave Fives. (follow the link to join others in posting our weekly blessings)  Here is Willow's Week:

1.  There is a new French(ish) cafe/coffee shop in town.  The owner's grandmother is a close friend of ours.  I met another friend there for afternoon coffee.  Lovely place and lovely time.

2.  Our Mom to Mom group had its monthly meeting this week.  The speaker was a friend from church and wow!  She hit the ball out of the park speaking on "How to Thrive in Your Parenting".

3, 4, 5.  Three Bench Hike.  Since it is Valentine's Day, we did something we enjoy doing together.  We hiked four miles.  First, it's a mile of mostly level trail in Hill Canyon.  This is the first time we have been able to hike in Hill Canyon since the fire (Hill Fire) more than a year ago since the trail has been closed for repair.

Then, we chose the Western Plateau fork and up the side of the mountain.  We called it the three bench hike because, well, we passed three benches at vista points.  It was a beautiful day and a beautiful hike.
3.  First Bench

First Bench View

4.  Second Bench

You will notice that there is no view photo.  That second bench is situated right on the edge of a precipitous straight down drop on a cliff.  We sat on the bench, but I didn't venture anywhere near the edge to take a picture.

5.  Third Bench
You can see the water treatment plant in Hill Canyon and that shows how high up in the hills we were.

The trail in the bottom right corner of the photo is the one mile trail we hiked near the creek in Hill Canyon. 

We love to hike and it was a perfect way to spend the afternoon together.

Bonus:  The lupine is blooming!

Friday, February 07, 2020

Hello, February!

I am just not ready for February.  It has come too soon.  Do you feel like that, too?  This week flew by!  And here it is Friday and I didn't write any posts.  But I always make sure I write my Friday Fave Fives.  It's important to remember to be thankful every day and every week. (Follow the FFF link to read others' faves and join in.)

1.  February 1st.  On January 1st, the Professor and I drove to Ventura Harbor and walked around it.  On February 1st, we met our friends for a walk and coffee, and at their suggestion, we walked at the harbor.  There might be a pattern emerging.  March 1st?

2.  It was cold(ish) this week where I live.  Yeah, I know.  Southern Californians are wimps.  But 'for us', it was cold.  I'm thankful for extra blankets, warm jackets, hats and gloves!

3.  I have a Kindle.  For a long time, I resisted reading books digitally.  But there has been a series of cozy murder mysteries that we have wanted to read but couldn't find paper copies; so The Professor convinced me that the Los Angeles City Library (yes, we are card carrying members) would loan them to us and I could read them on my Kindle.  So I've been reading through the whole thirty-two books in the series on my Kindle.  I guess I'm thankful for having one (although I still prefer 'real' books.

4.  The decorative pear trees are in bloom!

5.  The New Boy turned TWELVE this week!  It's hard to believe he is growing up so fast.  I am thankful for this grandson!  And he actually answers my texts.  How could this little guy be twelve!?!

Friday, January 31, 2020

Closing Out January

Wow, it's the END OF JANUARY!  How did that happen??  Willow's Week just flew by.  Here are the Five Faves I chose to share for Friday Fave Fives.

1.  I am thankful for clean and running water.  Water that just runs from the spout when I turn it on.  Why am I thinking of water this week?  One day, we had our water turned off for a few hours.  This was a planned event due to work that needed to be done on the water main in our neighborhood.  We were able to plan ahead and put aside some water, fill our water bottles.  But it made me remember the years when our water arrived in buckets from the river and had to be boiled to use.  Clean water is something to be thankful for!

2.  Evenings spent with friends are always a blessing.  Our BYOD (Bring Your Own Dinner) friends came to our house this month.  Having known each other since college days, we have SO MUCH FUN.

3.  I've been knitting socks for more than twenty years.  I love wearing the socks that I knit.   They're warm and snuggly in the winter.  Currently, I have five or six pairs that I am rotating wearing.  And it makes me extra happy to know that I made them myself.

4.  The word I chose for 2020 is TRUST.  I found a necklace that says, "TRUST in the Lord".  Now I can wear my word for the year around my neck.  I can simply look down and remind myself to TRUST.

5.  In closing out this first month, I would have to add the I am thankful I can walk regularly.  I love walking and hiking and am thankful I have the ability and strength to do that (and I've walked, hiked or worked out at the gym twenty-five of the thirty-one days of this month).

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

End of January Knitting Project Update

One of my goals for 2020 is to knit several WIPs (works in progress) and PKs (planned knits).  I have had a month to work on them, and I have successfully finished two and am working on two more projects.


1.  Multi Directional Diagonal Afghan.  Made from leftover sock yarns.  Size 4 needles.  This was begun on our road trip this summer and I just kept adding to it.  Finally, I've declared it done.

2.  I finished the blue variegated socks I started at the beginning of the month.  And I wore them this week.

Almost finished!

1.  My younger daughter knitted one sock and gave up on the other one.  I realized why--she had messed up the heel, neglecting to actually 'turn the heel'.  No wonder she quit.  So I took the yarn and now I am finished with one sock and half way through the other one.

2.  No photos of this project yet.  Someone asked me to knit a replacement sweater (which had been moth eaten) for an antique doll.  No pattern.  So I am copying the original and am almost finished.  I just have the sleeves and finishing edges to do.  When the project is complete, I'll take photos of it.

Hopefully, I will be able to finish that doll sweater and move on to a commissioned baby sweater, hat and blankie.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Always Thankful, No Matter When

I've been sick with a cold this week, and I thought I'd just skip posting.  Then I realized, NO. No matter how I am feeling right now, I still have so many things to be thankful for and it is important for me to focus on those.  So here are my Friday Fave Fives, a day late.

1.  I am so thankful for all the ways I can help my body heal from this cold.  Herbal teas.  Elderberry syrup.  Zicam.  Airborne.  Decongestants.   Ibuprofen.  Rest.  Naps.

2.  I am thankful I am not working now so I have the luxury of just resting and letting my body heal.

3.  Time to snuggle under my afghan while I finish knitting the last few blocks.  Yes, it's DONE! (off my knitting project list) Hopefully, there will be photos soon.

4.  I also finished one pair of socks. (knock that one off my knitting to do list, too)

5.  Books to read.  I can curl up with that afghan and my books and read all day.

I am thankful that I should be back and fully functioning tomorrow.  And here are some bonus photos of Southern England in early spring because few pictures make me happier than ones of rural England!

Friday, January 17, 2020


One new week!  Can it be possible that we are halfway through the month of January 2020??  I purposely carved a couple of days at the beginning of the week to relax.  But then the end of this week just got busy and busier.  Truly, I'm thankful for both the rest and the activities.  I just need to learn how to balance it.  So here is Willow's Week in Friday Fave Fives.  The link is to Susanne's blog Living To Tell the Story  where you can find other people's Fave Fives and join in, too, if you want.

1.  While I haven't been as consistent with my sketching as I would like to be, I have been doing well with my goal of exercising more.  In fact, I have walked, hiked, or worked out at the gym EVERY DAY this week.  I feel great.  Except of course for some sore muscles.

2.  One morning, a few of the moms from my Mom to Mom group met to walk part of the same trail I walked last week.  Walking with two and three year olds and stroller is a much slower gait than my usual pace.  But that's ok.  I had a chance to chat with a mom I hadn't really met before.

3.  Normally, I wouldn't add a memorial service to a favorite part of my week, but the service I attended for a Bible study friend was a wonderful celebration of her life.  And the words from the pastor were encouraging and comforting.

4.  As I am writing this, I am listening to 'the falling rain'.  It's one of my favorite sounds.  As a child, it was a most familiar one as I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, ie. the Rain Capital.  And we had A LOT of rain where we lived in the tropical jungles of New Guinea.  Where I live now, rain is always welcome!

5.  I am making progress on my afghan.  The blocks are now 10 x 12!  Photos soon because maybe by next week I'll be finished.  I've also finished one of the socks and have started on the second one.

Here's hoping I can balance the weekend's busyness with some 'down time', too!

Friday, January 10, 2020

January's Fave Fives, Week Two

I totally forgot it was Friday!  This week has been so busy that we have lost track of what day it is.   Willow's Week just kept coming!  But I'm happy to be able to pause, take a breath, and focus on what I'm thankful for this week.  Here are my Friday Fave Fives.

1.  Our Mom to Mom group met this week.  It's a ministry in our church for young moms.  Each month we have a speaker and this month my college friend Sue Moore Donaldson from Welcome Heart spoke on hospitality.  Geared for young moms, it still inspired me to be more hospitable.  And it was fun to catch up with an old college friend.

2.  Then I received two encouraging texts from a couple of moms about the presentation. Yay!

3.  Tangerines!  My tree is bursting with them.  Yum!

4.  I am happy to be staying mostly on point with my 2020 goals and specifically my January goals.  I've started a fun pair of socks, and I am forging ahead with the leftover sock yarn afghan. The afghan is growing--right now there are more than 100 squares.

5.  An extra long walk.  A friend and I walked the creek that flows through our town (usually it's a dry arroyo).  We forgot that the gate near where we parked our cars was locked, and so we "had" to walk part way back up the path to the place where we could get off the path and walk back to the car.  We didn't mind the extra mile--it just gave us more time to talk!

This is what the creek looks like after a rain storm.

What made you slow down this week to say "Thanks"?