Thursday, October 30, 2008

Friday Fave Five

It's (almost) Friday and I am excited to share my Fave Five for this week.

1. I love the vibrant colors of autumn leaves. I found this branch of red leaves lying on the side of the road on one of my walks this week and brought them home to enjoy.

2. Not every day in Southern California is sunny. Sometimes it's foggy, like last Saturday. The pelicans and seagulls were up to something, swirling around the mouth of the river at the beach, swooping and diving into the water and then taking off again up into the grayness.

3. I finished the student testing on Tuesday and received an email of thanks and commendation for my efforts. I really appreciated the thanks since I had worked extra hours for several days to finish in good time.

4. By far, my favorite fave this week was seeing Chaplain Dan on Sunday! He is home from his deployment safely.

5. The whole family was together on Sunday to celebrate Dan's return with him. The New Boy got to meet his uncle for the first time!

You can read more Fave Fives at Living To Tell The Story.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ventura County Spinners and Weavers

I mentioned last week in my Friday Fave Five that I had been to the Ventura County Spinners and Weavers Guild Open House. The open house event is mostly an opportunity to browse and buy fiber, books, and spinning and weaving accesories. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, ran in to several friends and chatted with them as I eyed the fibers and finished projects.

There was a vendor selling spools of yarn for weaving. I loved the vibrant colors and thought about how I could move my belongings around in the house to accomodate setting up my weaving loom. So far, I haven't come up with a good plan, although I keep thinking, "If I got rid of half my books and bookcases or sold the piano, I would have the space. Or maybe I could set up the loom in the kitchen; no one would mind, would they?"

I settled for purchasing some soft grey alpaca/merino blend and I've already spun it up and decided that it wants to be a scarf knitted in a lace pattern.

The 4 oz. of silk/merino blend is absolutely wonderful to spin. It just glides through my fingers. I tried to photograph it so the colors -the blues and purples- would be visible in the best way. This photo is almost exactly true to color on my screen. It does not show as much of the purple as there actually is in the skein. I've spun and plied one little section and oh yes! it's amazing! I'm thinking the 4 oz. will make a couple of scarves.

Now that my busy time at school is done (I finished testing the last of the students I needed to work with this afternoon), I'm hoping I'll have some afternoons to sit on my porch in the pleasant Southern California autumn sunshine with my cup of tea and my spinning wheel.
I have not posted an update about the Doing Not Thinking Challenge for a while. I have been thinking about what to do next. I have accomplished all but one of my goals, which was sewing the skirt for Kiti. I decided to wait until spring to sew it because it's white and more appropriate for spring and summer wear. I have had a goal for YEARS of organizing all the photos and putting them into albums. I have boxes and boxes of photos from my parents, grandparents, and other ancestors. I am tentatively putting the photo project on my challenge list. Any suggestions, ideas, recommendations would be welcome. This project is an overwhelming one for me.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Fave Five

Welcome to Willow'sFriday Fave Five!

1. Our Southern California weather has been crazy this past week. We've had cool mornings and evenings, and we've had hot mornings and even hotter afternoons. My camellia bushes don't know what to think of these extreme weather conditions, so they decided to bloom, just in case.

2. Last Friday afternoon, The Professor and I decided to take our walk along the beach at Thornhill Broome State Park. We walked close to the surf, at the water line, running from incoming waves, stepping over the stones and shells that littered the beach.

3. Saturday morning I drove to the university to visit the Ventura County Spinners and Weavers Guild's Open House. Many local and not so local vendors were there, selling books, yarn, fiber, dyes. I bought three items: two 1 oz grey rolls of wool, 4 oz of blue and purple dyed silk and wool blend fiber, and a book:

4. Occasionally, The Professor earns some extra $$ doing technical lighting for the performing arts department at the university where he teaches computer science. (Yes, it is not always usual for computer science lecturers to moonlight in the performing arts department, but The Professor has many wide ranging and hidden talents and interests.) Last night, he did the lighting for a fantastic performance of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale by Actors From the London Stage (which consisted of five British Shakespearean artists from such companies as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre of Great Britian, and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre). I was able to go to the performance, and we took Kiti and The New Boy.

5. I've had a busy week at school, testing students as well as doing my usual job. This morning, I had to be at school 1/2 hour earlier than usual and had to park on the street and walk to campus. I passed this beautiful and fragrant rose. The extra walking was worth the pleasure seeing and smelling it.

I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse in to my week. To see more Fave Fives, go to Susanne's blog, Living To Tell The Story.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

From Canada With Love

A package came for The New Boy a while ago. He had to try on the pressie right away!

He looks so cute! He's ready for the Vancouver Olympics! Do you know if there will be a crawling competition?
I reminded him that he needed to send a thank you email to Lovella.

He assured me he'd get right on it!

Dear Lovella,
ASKLRJAWEI;ORda;ekjgkjl lkjadj;l kfj ;leadf lkjreoifdsfdgalk
aefdl erkjSFDL ERWKsdwekhvkfskj skwe; uw e e gk
Love, The New Boy

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Fave Five

I love doing these Fave Five reports! Each Friday I pause from my busy schedule and reflect on what a great week I've had.

1. We go to the farmers market every Saturday. We purchase our salad greens, cucumbers, corn on the cob, and other veggies and fruits. I am acquainted with Lilia the flower seller and sometimes she'll hand me a few blooms. This week she shared these two gerber daisies with me.

2. First grade took a field trip to our local library where we toured the new $$$ million dollar building and listened to a couple of stories read to us by one of the librarians. The library really deserves its own post because the new building is truly stunning in its multi-story architecture and fanciful decor.

3. I am thankful that the fires here in Southern California seem to be out or under control and the weather has cooled down some. Today there is a light breeze, blue sky and gentle sunshine.

4. I received this in a package from Flower! Chocolate tea! MMMmmmm!

5. Most exciting of all, I found the blue bird of happiness in a neighbor's yard! I snapped a photo of it before it flew away!

To see more Fave Five posts, go to Susanne's blog, Living To Tell The Story.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Heat and Fire

Southern California has entered the wild fires and Santa Ana winds season. While people 'down under' the other side of the equator are warming up for spring and the rest of the north is hunkering down for rain, snow and ice, we are facing wind, heat, and fire.

So far, Willow's Cottage has been affected only by the smoke from the Porter Ranch fire just north of Los Angeles. I saw the bank of smoke rolling along the foothills yesterday on my way home from tutoring and called The Professor to check and make sure that our area had not caught fire. No, it was the smoke from east of us.

Today, the students at my school were not allowed to run and jump at recess. Walking around the school yard was permitted. It seems that our air quality is at red alert. Ellen and I elected to pass on our walk this afternoon and spare our lungs.

I'm going to water our back garden before I leave for tutoring. And I plan to take extra water and a snack, just in case I am delayed getting home.

It's quite warm here so my thoughts are on cooling beaches and crashing surf!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Friday Fave Five on Saturday

Well, I'm a day late posting my Fave Five for this week. Yesterday was a very busy day as the whole week has been.

And that leads me to the first Fave.

1. I have been reminded this week that a full life is way more fun than an empty one. So I am thankful that my life has been full of family, fulfilling work and exercise. I haven't had much time to spend in my garden doing this:

2. Secondly, I have enjoyed my walks with Ellen and most days have logged over 10,000 steps on my pedometer. I think that my position in First Grade involves more walking because I came home at noon with twice as many steps as I had last year in Kindergarten. The weather was quite warm, in the 85-90F range, and that means that while the rest of the US is getting ready for winter and the temperatures are hovering near freezing at night, our flowers, like this hibiscus, are still blooming their little hearts out.

3. Last Sunday we took a walk along the beach in Ventura.
The waves were crashing and the surfers were out in full force and outfitted in their wetsuits to catch the waves.

The palms along the walkway are all planted in threes. I looked at the way they grew and formed W and was reminded of Jimmy Durante's line in "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" when he is dying and tells the other characters that the treasure is buried "under the big dubba ya."

4. One day this week the Office Monitor in First Grade had an errand to the office and when he returned, the rest of the class was on the floor surrounding the teacher listening to her instructions. He opened the classroom door with a flourish and announced, "Ta da! I'm back!" I had to turn around and cover my mouth so he wouldn't see me laughing.

5. What would a Fave Five be without a photo of The New Boy? Here he is, in his 8 month birthday week, standing up in a big cardboard box, thinking he's really big stuff when he's actually been stuck in there to keep him from wandering off down the hall while Nana is busy prepping tutoring lessons.

Have a wonderful week! To enjoy others' weeks with them, go to Susanne's blog.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Autumnal Sock Knitting

I imagine that someone who knows me well might look at these photos of autumn orange and yellow palettes and think, "Where is my friend Willow? And what have you done with her?" because I seldom, if ever, select any yarn, other fiber, clothing, accesories, furniture or anything else in orange, brown or autumn yellow. I just don't like those colors. However, at The Knit and Crochet Show last month I received two skeins of Red Heart sock yarn in self striping bright orange and brown which I traded with someone for this mostly green yarn. I have been knitting the first sock and been fascinated to watch the patterning appearing right on my needles (size 2US). Caveat: This does not mean that I love love love the colorway of this yarn; I'm just 'experimenting' in expanding my appreciation of color.
Looking at the sock's colors, the green, blue, orange, yellow, purple (purple?!), I was reminded of April Cornell who said in one of her books that she took her inspiration for her colors and designs from nature. That got me looking at the colors of a Southern California autumn in a new way, a new light, if you will, and I discovered that my sock yarn should be called "SoCal Fall".

Purple and Yellow

Yellow, Orange, Red

Everywhere here in Southern California during October, I can see --

'my socks'.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Sweet Farewell

Anna and William, those little twins--I knew they were up to something last week! They were sitting out of sight of Eleanor Elizabeth and whispering. Anna was saying something funny to William, and William was laughing and hiding behind his ears.

"Mama!" they called. "Mama, we heard 'bout an adoption program for bunnies wanting to immigrate to Can'da. Can'da sounds like a really fun place to live. Can we go? Please, Mama, please?"

I thought about it for awhile and finally agreed. After all, they are of age and they are such very GOOD bunnies. And they're twins and ALWAYS do everything together. I knew William would be responsible and take care of his sistertwin, she who has a little tendency to run off too fast for lettuce or carrots or some falling leaf. I had a long talk with them about their manners and about COLD weather (that's ok, Mama, they said, after all, we have fur, they said) and about people who say, "Eh?" in Can'da.

Anyway, off they ran to Lovella's farm. They took a few days and we, Lovella and I, think they might have taken a little detour somewhere, a little side trip somewhere, a quick detour around Oregon or Washington, maybe. They did arrive and like the GOOD bunnies they are, they called right away to let me know they are safe and they LOVE their new home and the FARM and their new friends. They even think Can'da's cold weather is fun. "Water falls from the sky, Mama! It's really crazy. Like taking a shower outside."

Eleanor and Edward miss them terribly. I'm certain there will be many phone calls and letters and emails. But we all wish them well and know they will love being Canadians, eh?

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Autumn weekends are reserved for Oktoberfests! This is how Oktoberfest is celebrated in
Mt. Angel, Oregon.

Oktoberfest is a time to focus on German and Swiss traditions and customs.

German folk music


Traditional clothing


Mt. Angel is not just the location of Oktoberfest, it is also the home of Mt. Angel Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery. The abbey staffs the local parish church, St. Mary Parish.

The abbey was established in 1882 by a group of Benedictine monks from Switzerland.