Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Room for Finishing

Here in Willow's Cottage, I have the tiny back room. Sometimes I sit there in the afternoon, sipping tea, reading and finishing my projects. When we move to the new house I will have to find another quiet spot.

The Earl Grey joined me this afternoon.

What could be more pleasant than a yarn project and a couple of good books?

The Granny Square Afghan is stitched together! Forty-eight squares, each one unique. All that remains is the crocheted border.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Walk In the Park

Expostion Park is 1.5 miles from our house. Yesterday we walked east to Vermont Avenue, then south along the east edge of USC, past Adams Blvd, Jefferson and Exposition and past literally dozens of Jacaranda trees. These trees were planted along many Los Angeles residential streets and most of them still survive. They are nondescript green fernlike-leafed trees that are just 'there' all year until they bloom in May and blanket the whole city in purple trumpet flowers. When you are driving along one of the city freeways, you can look out and see rows and rows of Jacarandas, laid out straight as the streets.

I had never been to Exposition Park even though I know that's where the Memorial Coliseum is, as well as the Natural History Museum, Science Center and African American History Museum.

The park has a Rose Garden. As a native of Portland, the City of Roses, I have a great affinity to roses, so I enjoyed walking through the rows of rose beds.

Daydream, a shrub rose, in full bloom

A pink rose, name plate missing

Misty, in honor of Mia's roommate Misti, who graduated from Biola University on Saturday

And this amazing Hot Cocoa rose. Doesn't it look yummy enough to drink?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Downtown Disney

Last night we went to Downtown Disney for dinner at the Storyteller's Cafe with Deb and Jeff and some of their friends. The Storyteller's Cafe is in the Grand California Hotel which is decorated in Arts and Crafts style.

Elizabeth organized the dinner. Here she is looking up at the details in the hotel lobby.

Other people were there including a very cute three year old boy. I won't post his picture because I don't have his parents' permission. Trust me, though, he's really very cute.

Dinner (build your own pizza) was ok, not spectacular. But we enjoy these college friends of Deb's immensely and join their quarterly or semi-annual dinners whenever we're invited. As the friends scatter from Los Angeles to other places it's becoming harder to get everyone together which is why last night was that much more special as people came from all over LA County, Sacramento and Visalia.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Seven Random Facts

Several bloggers whose blogs I read have posted their seven random facts and then stated that they won't tag anyone, just feel free to post your own seven random facts about yourself. So I decided to do that this morning.

Here are mine:

1. I am a native Oregonian and my father was a native Oregonian. I was born in Portland, he was born in Norway, Oregon, a little dairyland coastal wide spot in the road in Coos County. When I returned to Portland to live in 1990, I was driving a car with California license plates. People would pass me on the freeway and glare at me or honk. In the 90s a lot of people were moving into Oregon from CA cashing out on their homes and buying big places in Oregon and making the housing market shoot up. I was returning home, but they didn't know that. There was a joke going around during that time, the punchline of which was "what do Oregonians fear most? A Californian with a U-Haul." I wanted to roll down my window and yell, "I have Oregon roots from 1915! When did your family get here?!"

2. I've had dinner with a cannibal. Really. We lived in the jungles of New Guinea on the Indonesian side of that second largest island in the world. When we first moved into the Moskona tribal area we hiked in from a helicopter base to visit the "chief" of the tribe and ask his permission to live there. Yikmemo was the biggest, fiercest chief, had ten wives, many sons, and was reported to be one of the last cannibals in the area (our villagers always maintained that THEY had never eaten people, but the people in the next village down river did; we'd go to that village and hear, we never were cannibals but those people upstream were.) I was five months pregnant with Mike, so I was walking a little slower than the rest of the group. Our friend Doug took off with the carriers and Dan and Deb, and John stayed with me. When John and I arrived twenty minutes after they did, muddy from slipping and sliding along the jungle trail, breathless, and a little concerned about our pre schoolers, we found them sitting by Yikmemo, happily consuming sweet potatoes while he stared at their little blonde heads. So we just sat down and joined them.

3. I learned to knit left handed when I was six years old by sitting facing my Grandma Rylander and copying what she did.

4. I love to read children's books. When I was in grad school getting my teaching credential I took a Children's Lit class. It was one of the best classes I ever took and the teacher's love for children's books ignited mine. One of my life goals is to own (and read) all the Newberry Award books.

5. This spring I walked into two arrest incidents on the streets near my house. We are living in LA's inner city and we like to walk. One night we were going north on Vermont, saw four or five LAPD cars, and were told as we approached, "There are a lot of reasons why you don't want to pass along here." Those reasons were lined up against the wall, hands over their heads, waiting to be frisked. We went around the other way, about 1/2 mile out of our way. No problem. The other time we saw what we thought was a tow truck with lights flashing so we just kept walking along the side street. We didn't realize until we were about 10 feet away that the USC Security Patrol was handcuffing a man who was leaning against the wall. Don't know why USC Security was on a public street a mile from campus, but we decided not to ask...

6. I've always loved the beach. My first memory of seeing the beach was waking up one morning in a motel room where we had stopped on the way to Coos County to see my grandparents and seeing the beach and ocean. I fell in love right then and there. How appropriate that John loves the beach too and that we spent much of our courtship year going to the beaches in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

7. When I was a young girl, I collected coins because my brother Jim collected coins and I wanted to do everything he did. I still have a lot of the collection, particularly my penny collection. I lost the 1943 steel penny at some point and I'd love to have one again.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Home of Our Own

We went up to the new house today and we are now home owners! We have the keys, clickers, and pool key to prove it. And while I was there I did not take a single solitary photo even though I had my camera with me and I planned to take lots and lots of pictures.

We did do lots and lots of measuring for rugs to have made to put down on the pergo floors. We did talk to home insurance agents and we went to one car repair place and it was closed until May 29th, so we went to another and had a very nice conversation with the very knowledgeable rep, a nice young man.

I did go out to the back of the new house when I heard the automatic sprinklers come on and checked out how they were working. One was shooting straight up in the air about ten feet. It's going to need tweaking.

I don't think the change in our lives has sunk in yet. I know we're moving, I know we're looking for new jobs, I know we're leaving some friends and moving closer to others, but it doesn't feel real yet. But June 30th is coming and maybe on July 1st, it will feel as real as it will be.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thursday Afternoon Fun

I have been wandering around the house this afternoon, not able to perch anywhere for long. I suppose it's because I am distracted by the fact that the house transaction is taking place as I write. Funds are transferred, agents are calling each other about keys and clickers, and we are sitting around looking at rug samples, paint chips and cloth swatches.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week at school. The focus of the parents' efforts seems to be filling us teachers up beyond the brim with wonderful food both breakfast and lunch. I just can't keep up with the offerings so I have been opting out of breakfast at school and eating my usual banana and cereal at home. But, oh the lunches. Carne asada tacos today. Homemade salsa. Salads. Rice pudding. Yesterday was shrimp and crab salad. Tuesday? Two kinds of fried chicken. Everyday, all the jamaica and horchata we can drink. Maybe it's hard to concentrate after eating so much.

Next week will have to be fasting and exercise week!

I have stitched together two of the six rows of eight granny blocks and I am almost finished with the third one. No photos because I can't figure out how to photograph long snaky columns of granny squares.

So here is a picture of a single blossom a friend gave me last night.

Tomorrow morning we will go up to the new house and pick up our keys and clickers, walk around the neighborhood, get any paperwork we need. We have a long list of places we want to visit, too. Mechanic, insurance agent, maybe the school district office.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Afternoon Tea

Yesterday I decided to make our family's favorite rolls because it was gray and because freshly baked bread is John's favorite smell.
This recipe was my Grandma Rylander's. So these are Grandma Rylander Rolls. Unfortunately, they aren't really. I ran out of unbleached flour and had to use 1/2 whole wheat flour. And then I got distracted and put in two eggs instead of one. People, I have made this recipe hundreds of times and I put in too many eggs. Do you know what? It was okay. They're delicious. Maybe the heavier whole wheat flour needed the extra binding agent of the second egg.

These rolls are best served warm, with a pat of butter.

Twining's Earl Grey tea is a good complementing drink.

Enjoy your tea while listening to four new cds and crocheting the edgings on the last six granny square blocks.

Monday, May 21, 2007

May Gray

It is not true that the sun always shines in Southern California. Sometimes it rains really hard in the winter, the kind of rain that soaks you to the skin and is driven sideways by the wind and you can't protect yourself from it. And sometimes it's just gray and cloudy. Along the coastal plains, May and June are gloomy months. We call the "early morning coastal fog and low cloudiness" May Gray and June Gloom. May Gray is out in all its dismal force right now. Today the sun never managed to burn the clouds off. It was sweater weather.

I got an email from a friend this afternoon titled with just the name of an older mutual friend. When I saw the email, my heart sank. Oh no. She's going to tell me that he's dead. I have gotten so many of those emails with the title just being the name of a person. Do people title their death notice emails like that to mentally and emotionally prepare us for the deadly news? My fil used to teach a class titled "Aging, Death and Dying". He always instructed me to ease into telling bad news, to say, "Are you sitting down?" or "I have something to tell you and it is not the best news," or some statement like that. Maybe writing the name of a person like the title of an obituary is the way it's done on email now. How do you title an email "Bad news about your friend"?

I didn't open the email for awhile. I had to steel myself for the shock. So when I finally opened it, the email had much better news than I was expecting. I was actually pleased that our friend is home from the hospital and "only" had heart surgery.

Things are moving ahead smoothly on the purchase of our home. It looks like we will be home owners on Friday.

My weekend was lovely. I got up Saturday morning and pulled on beach walking clothes and went for a solitary stroll along the beach for almost an hour. There were already people out surfing, beach combing, walking their dogs. It was relaxing and when I got back to the house, there was a cuppa from Starbuck's waiting for me.

Yesterday after church we had dinner with the blueberry ranch friends. We've been close friends for many, many years. We just sat and chatted over pasta. We're looking forward to many more lunches, dinners and coffees with them.

Then we spent three hours chatting with John's sister. Mart always makes me laugh. I'm looking forward to living in the same town with her, too.

This afternoon John returned bearing a gift: my Mother's Day present from the Soldier and the Princess! Four cds by The Liberated Wailing Wall! When our car was vandalized over at the Long Beach Ave house, all our cds were stolen. Our wonderful children are systematically rebuying our favorites for us for birthdays, Christmas and other special days. We are thrilled and it makes it easy for them to know what to get the mom and dad who need everything :). Not really. I have most everything I want or need, especially the people who love me. Thanks, Chaplain Dan and Jennifer!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


This weekend I am going to this lovely place with some lovely ladies.

Hopefully, it won't look like this:

Or this:

I shall take my camera, a good book, some movies, and of course plenty of knitting. Probably the Cashsoft...I went to my lys yesterday but ended up not choosing a pattern. Just too many options. I know I want to knit a cardigan, but there were so many choices--no collar, big collar, plain stockinette, ribbed, cabled. I left with ideas but no decision. I'm going to take my needles and cast on and see what happens.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

An FO Alert

Last summer I went shopping in the Fashion District in Los Angeles. This is always a dangerous activity for me. I wonder along blocks and blocks of shops selling fabric, rugs, jewelry and more fabric. I'm not much of a shopper and have a lot of sales resistance to most consumer goods. But I do love fibers, fabrics and the color blue.

So, in a moment of weakness and total suspension of disbelief, I purchased a piece of filmy blue and white silky fabric thinking I'd whip up a little skirt. I was sure I didn't need a pattern and since my sewing machine doesn't much like light weight material, I decided I could hand stitch this little thing.

I forgot how annoying it is to cut out slippery material. You just can't get the stuff to lie still. It squirms all over the cutting board. Why did I think that a gored skirt with triangular inserts was a good idea?

But I really loved this material. I persevered until the weddings and moving hit, hand stitching those wiggling seams. Then I stuffed it away with all but the hem finished. It was too cold to wear during the winter anyway, right? There it might have stayed stuffed away in a box and hidden from the world except, you know, I'm moving again, and I have to pull out the boxes and empty them out and repack them again. Nothing like moving to reveal those UFOs, huh, Flea?

I love this fabric so much that I may even wear this skirt and hope that others will be equally mesmerized by the exquisite color and drape and not notice the horribly uneven hemline.

And look! The Rowan Cashsoft matches!

Mother's Day

I am so blessed! Mother's Day was a joy as always to me. My kids are wonderful!
Tim and Mia came up on Saturday afternoon to spend the rest of the weekend with us. They sneaked around at Trader Joe's after church on Sunday and got these flowers for me. I put them in the cobalt vase (naturally) that was a Mother's Day gift several years ago from Deb and Jeff.

It's nice to know that my children like me. They think I'm chic...

and a cooler than average mom.

Thanks to all of you for making my day so happy with cards, calls and flowers. Oh and thanks to John for making me a mom and cooking me salmon on the bbq.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


I have spent quite a bit of time lately thinking about color, thinking in color, looking at color palettes, gathering paint color samples and picking up fabric swatches because we will need to paint the new place and furnish it.

We need to purchase a set of living room furniture (sofas and chairs) so we have visited a lot of furniture stores and sat on a lot of sofas. I want the furniture to have washable slipcovers, and the deal is that the sofa and chairs have to be comfortable for both of us, even though I am 5'4" and John is 6'2". We have found a set at a brand store and we can choose the color of the slipcovers. That's where the stress gets stepped up. I have to choose colors.

I spend a lot of my time working with fibers. But I seem to be color challenged or at least choosing color challenged. In the past, I have chosen colors and been disappointed. I have bought books about color and decorating and I still don't SEE it.

I know the colors I love:


turquoise and other shades of blue

and beach and ocean colors

I know I'll figure it out. I THINK we will get blue sofa and chairs, light gray/stone carpets and paint with light, light blue and a grayish white.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What I Will Do During My Summer Vacation

Willow's Cottage is on the move. Again. After 4 1/2 years of living in Los Angeles's inner city, we have made the decision to change our surroundings. The reasons are many, but some of the more obvious ones are the changes in our family as Chaplain Dan leaves for the mideast soon, our approaching retirement, stresses of living with noise, dirt, air pollution and violence.

So, we have gone looking for housing and employment. First, where shall we live? We have life commitments and goals that in part guide our decisions. We want to be near our children, but they are scattering to the far reaches of the globe. (Why should we be surprised when our kids do this? It is what we did and what we taught them was normal behavior. We moved around a lot when D and D were young and we were in grad school, and ended up in Indonesia on the island of New Guinea for most of the 80s and M and M were born there. After 12 years in Oregon, we migrated south to Los Angeles. Our kids are just following our examples of wanderlust and adventure.) We want to be near other friends and family and not have to start all over again building community and putting down roots. We want to be able to afford to live without spending our whole lives, every day, for the next thirty years, working to make a house payment. We are committed to living simply, remaining physically active, having time to pursue our interests.

After long debate, discussion and prayer, we hit on the solution. It simply was an aha moment for us. Less house=less money=less work=less stress. This is how it works out for us:

We have purchased a place in a 55+ manufactured homes homeowners park in southwest Ventura County, California. John gets his freedom from lawn mowing, but I get enough space for gardening. We will be living less than 12 miles from one sibling, several close friends and a very good and supportive church where we have a lot of long time connections. We will have plenty of opportunities to hike, bike, and beach comb along the Pacific Coast and in the Santa Monica Mountains. Our children love this area and want to visit us there. The cost of living is lower than in Los Angeles County, but we are still close enough to hop the metro train for a day trip when we miss LA and all its weirdness. It looks like there will be ample job opportunities for both of us.

We like to use the term "semi retired" for what our lives will be like.

We will miss our friends and co workers here at World Impact. Over the past four years we have make some really close friends on staff. We'll miss our weekly dinners with our small group at the Peters' house and playing with Olivia and Naomi. We will deeply miss our church, Grace Brethren Church of Long Beach and our Bible studies at Journey of Faith Church in Manhattan Beach. Our plan is to stay connected to people with periodic visits to them and from them, email and phone calls. There is always the grief of parting and we are well acquainted with that grief, having parted so many times from friends through the years. But we will have our memories and we will still have the connections.

When will this all take place? June-July.

It's time to get out the boxes and start packing again.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tuesday Was Eventful

The Griffith Park fire is big news here in Los Angeles. Yesterday afternoon, when we left our house at 2:30, John said, "There's a fire!" We thought at first it was a house/restaurant/warehouse fire, but we quickly realized that there was too much smoke. This was a much bigger blaze. Griffith Park is due north of us, about five miles away.
I snapped a photo from the 10 Fwy/110 Fwy interchange. We could see the orange flames. And of course, we thought of our Fireman Bob and prayed for his safety.

In the evening, I took my usual Tuesday walk along The Strand in Manhattan Beach.



I hope you can see these photos. They are the same ones I posted on Monday. I have crocheted a couple more since then.

I called this a blue-eyed daisy. It really is more a blue, yellow and white daisy with a white eye.


Old rose

Have you all been following the story about the wild fire in Los Angeles? It's about 4 miles from us, almost due north.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Granny is moving along

I have made 36 of the 48 squares for the Granny Square Afghan.

I have not blocked any of them yet. They are lying quietly on the futon in the back of the cottage waiting for their stretching, shaping, and misting.

Each flower shines in its own way, reminding me of a bloom.
Blue-eyed Daisy

A camellia in my grandma's front yard

A damask red rose

I will slip stitch the squares together, then crochet an edging. I haven't decided on the edge trim. Does anyone have a suggestion?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

That Which Was Lost Has Been Found

Last month was one of those months when you wonder if you're losing your mind because you keep losing your possessions. I lost a brand new pair of Skacel circular needles, my scissors, and several other items. While I was upset about the financial loss of the needles, I was especially sad about losing the scissors.
I like folding scissors and had bought this particular pair in Solvang after my former pair had literally fallen apart. I had also attached a scissors keep to it. This keep was a treasure. I had purchased the cross stitch kit for it in York, England, on our visit there in June 2004. I had stitched on it during the long car ride from Haltwhistle (near Hadrian's Wall) to Oxford and then had finished it just a few months ago. I thought I had left it in Mia's purse but she said no it wasn't there.
Yesterday I moved the cedar chest in my bedroom and there it was. I'm so happy! I hope my needles will appear serendipitously as well.

So Victorian and of course I had to have the lavender pattern.

Friday, May 04, 2007

More Spring Flowers

I walked back and forth from the house to the school several times this morning. The spring flowers are still blooming. In fact, a very tall hollyhock has bloomed along the fence. I could hardly photograph the top of it.

By standing on tippy toes and zooming in as much as possible, I could get a photo of the blooms.

The nasturiums are still blooming.

Even the berry vines are showing their stuff as they attempt to crowd out the nasturiums.

An apple pie is baking in the oven, sending out wonderful fruity smells. I have a pot of Earl Grey tea waiting for me. The crochet hook calls.