Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fave Five, First of 2010

Happy New Year! Welcome to Willow's edition of Friday Fave Five, First Week of 2010!

Are you ready for a new year? I'm not! I'm just finishing up my Christmas celebrations. Because our family was scattered to other places this year, we played revolving doors (and beds) in an attempt to spend some time together during Christmas week. We did not succeed in having everyone together at the same time, but we all saw each other long enough to say, "Merry Christmas" and share gifts.

1. My Fave Fives this week will be curtailed by my first fave- a new computer! I have had a new laptop in my possession for a few weeks, but moving files and uploading programs has been a slow process. Knowing I had to learn Windows 2007 on my new computer, I dragged my proverbial feet and finally today I made the final computer switch over. However, it's not going so smoothly and therefore my FFF is being affected. All in all, though, I'm thrilled to have a computer now that will read and upload cds and dvds which my old computer had quit doing a long time ago. Because the new computer is doing something 'weird' and I can't upload any more photos or use it until The Professor performs some magic tricks with it, I have moved over to his computer to finish writing my FFFs.

2. Being with family is the best! We loved spending a few days spoiling our New Boy.

3. We enjoyed a couple of walks at Ventura Beach during the week. We are so blessed to live near the beach and in a climate that allows us to walk there year round.

4. Giving my adult children free rein in the kitchen to cook and clean up was definitely a favorite part of my week! They're all competent cooks and willing washers.

5. I loved putzing around my cottage for a couple of weeks without having other obligations like tutoring and teaching sessions. Knitting, reading, and playing games provided just the right amount of activity.

Here we are, 2010, a new year in a new decade, looking back one last time at 2009. What wonderful events impressed you this week?

You can share over at Susanne's blog, Living To Tell The Story.

Happy New Year! On we go to 2010!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Math

This is the way Christmas is adding up this year.

1+1=2 (Willow and The Professor)

2+1=3 (The Grad Student)

3+2=5 (Kiti and The New Boy)

5-2=3 (Kiti and The New Boy leave)

3+2=5 (Kiti and The New Boy return)

5+2=7 (Chaplain Dan and The Princess)

7-2=5 (Chpl. Dan and The Princess leave)

5+2=7 (MamaMia and The Marine arrive)

7-2=5 (Kiti and The New Boy fly away New Year's Eve)

5-3=2 (MM, The Marine and TGS go home)

Willow and The Professor, empty nest in January.

I should have made up a spread sheet.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Mary, Did You Know?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the Lamb.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I Am!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Friday Fave Five, #67

Wow! Is it really FFF #67? Sixty- seven weeks of celebrating our blessings! Thanks, Susanne, for hosting us every week.

It is The Week Before Christmas Week, and I have finished my teaching and tutoring for the month/year 2009. Now is the time I can focus on preparing for Christmas and enjoying social activities.

1. Christmas cards. Because I love receiving cards every year, I also send them. The Professor and I worked together to update our address list on the computer, print out labels, write a Christmas letter, stick labels on envelopes, stuff the envelopes with cards and letters, seal them and affix correct postage. For more than one hundred cards, that's a lot of folding, stuffing, licking and stamping. The project is done and now it's up to the US Postal Service to do its job of placing the cards in the appropriate mailboxes.

2. Driving PCH--which means Pacific Coast Highway, not Peace, Charity, Hope--to spend the day with friends in Manhattan Beach. With the beach on my right on the way there, I drove through Malibu, peeking at the ocean whenever I could take my eyes off the road for three seconds. Mist, a few clouds, low flying pelicans, crashing Pacific Ocean waves, bikers, runners, surfers.

3. Celebrating a special birthday with friends! I spent the whole day with the birthday girl and enjoyed lunch with several of our mutual friends.

4. We decided that we ought to walk off our pizza lunch and cookies and ice cream dessert. By the time we finally left the restaurant and drove to Manhattan Beach Pier, the sun was thinking about setting. The temperature was still in the high 60s, so we didn't take our jackets with us. (You can see in the photo that the children digging in the sand are wearing summer beach attire.)

Three miles of walking along The Strand, gazing at this sunset:

5. After driving home along PCH in the dark, with the ocean on my left, I arrived at the cottage to find The Graduate Student sitting in the family room--home for the holidays!

It has been a most pleasant week here at Willow's Cottage! How was yours? You can share in the comments or go check out what others have to say over at Susanne's blog.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wild Red West

Here in the Wild West, poinsettias do not come only in puny little pots sold in grocery stores in December. We grow them big and tall along roadsides and in gardens, where they swiftly turn in to large perennial bushes or trees.

On a grey day, the giant red blossoms brighten the side of the road leading to a park on the edge of town.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Golden Opportunity

I realize that I'm in the minority, but I like Christmas Fruitcake.
And the fruitcake I like best is this golden one.

Lots of nuts and even more fruit. Lemon extract. Apricot brandy.
Stirred, baked, and mailed to me with love.

Flower and I love our fruitcake!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Friday Fave Five

Welcome to Friday Fave Five!

It's time to check in with Susanne and share our favorite events of the week.
1. Back to back rainstorms. It is raining as I type. We really need the rain, and I do love the sound of the splattering drops on the cottage roof and gushing water overflowing the flooded gutters, although I don't love going out in it.

2. The rainstorms and colder temperatures provide an opportunity to wear warm sweaters. Southern California weather does not usually get cold enough to allow me to pull out my wool sweaters. I'm taking advantage of the dip into 30s and 40s to snuggle up in cold weather wool scarves and pullovers.

3. Christmas Goodies. Wow! From the looks of my crowded kitchen counters, I am not going to need to bake anything. My students (and their mothers) did my baking for me. And it's all yummy!

4. Because I sometimes work as a private tutor, my schedule has to be flexible to accomodate student needs. One student I've worked with for more than a year has had a hit and miss (mostly miss) tutoring schedule this fall. Today I finally had a very successful hour of helping with homework! I invest a lot in my students and when things are going well, it makes my day.

5. This past week, the last full week of work before the Christmas break, I've been thankful for quiet evenings spent at home with The Professor. We've shared mugs of nutmeg sprinkled eggnog as we sat and read or watched a movie. My knitting has given a calming constancy and rhythm to those few hours of relaxation.

It has been 'one of those weeks', and I realized this afternoon that I have hardly taken a single photo all week. Note to self: Find a remedy for that picture-less blog post syndrome. Take photos!

So, here is a random photo of what is blooming in my garden right now.
Variegated Camellia

To share in FFF by either posting your own or reading what other people have written, go to Living To Tell the Story. And check out the pictures of SNOW on her deck!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Rainy Day

If you wander around in the shallow water of a wildlife sanctuary,
you're a bird who doesn't mind wet feet.
These San Diego Bay shore birds would have liked today's weather!
It rained all over Southern California today.
Except for the places it snowed...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Friday Fave Five

Friday Fave Five

1. Time spent with my family. We spent Friday morning riding our bikes with our daughter-in-law and eating lunch at a bakery on Coronado with our kids. Oh, that was so much fun! Yummy soup and sandwich served with a fantastic latte. Celebrating our family was much better than celebrating Black Friday.

the view of the southern end of San Diego Bay from the bike path

2. On Saturday, MamaMia and I visited her lys (local yarn store) and chatted with the clerk while we chose some new knitting needles. After stopping for coffee with our hubbies, we headed home in the middle of a rain shower complete with a brilliant rainbow.

3. The first Sunday of Advent. I love the Christmas season and especially enjoy reviewing the preparation for the coming of the Messiah through the four weeks of Advent.

4. Lovely weather. Not too hot, not too cold. Just the right weather for walking in the late afternoon.

5. Baking. It's a good thing we at Willow's Cottage aren't on the Atkin's Diet. Those homemade sour cream cinnamon rolls with cream cheese topping are really tasty. Oh, and the corn bread that went with the minestrone soup on Wednesday evening--yum. That's not counting the honey whole wheat bread that's in the oven right now.

Willow's Week was just a normal work week, full of daily commutes and chores, dishes and laundry. But it is important to find the blessings and joys in our daily lives. To post your fave five for this week, or to read what others are thankful for, go on over to Susanne's blog. And be sure and say 'thanks' to Susanne for hosting us every week!

Monday, November 30, 2009

There Has Been Knitting

There has been lots of knitting.

When I heard that someone I know is making regular trips to the chemo clinic, I decided to make a warm, cozy prayer shawl for her. I asked for help in choosing the perfect pattern. In the end, after much deliberation, I knitted a wide wrap that has five distinct lace patterns worked across 400 stitches.

This shawl was not a quick knit, but it was an exercise in precision, careful counting and patience. My work was simply a reflection of the persistence and patience that all chemo patients need to persevere and win the cancer battle.


Sampler Shawl from Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle. Interweave Press, 2000.

SPA yarn from 75% acrylic, 25% rayon from bamboo. 5 -6 balls (I lost count) in Misty Taupe.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday's Fave Five, Thanksgiving Weekend

I am confident that all American FFF participants are going to include Thanksgiving Day festivities in their post today. Not wanting to break the trend, I will focus my FFFs on Thanksgiving Day 2009.
1. Our alarms rang early! We were up and on the road to Balboa Park in San Diego. The starting line was here:

Museum of Man

2. We walked with thousands of our best friends!

3. and four of our Best Friends Forever! The Father Joe's Thanksgiving Day 5K Run!

4. Dinner at MamaMia's. We had earned it! There was no turkey on the menu, but we enjoyed barbecued salmon and a pot roast. Mashed potatoes, beans, apple and pumpkin pies, etc, etc...

5. Skyping and talking with our family who couldn't make the trip to the rendevouz point near the California-Mexico border. Building memories of Thanksgiving Day 2009.

What did you do to make memories this week? Share them at Living To Tell The Story!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


From my little cottage on the edge of the Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California,

To all of you, my friends, wherever you are!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Art

Art at the Getty

The works of art displayed in the pavilions at the Genter Center in Los Angeles at any one time represents only a small portion of J. Paul Getty's collection. Rooms are filled with statues, furniture, books, photos, paintings and decorative items. While the Getty Villa focuses on displays of works of antiquity, most of Getty' acquisitions of medieval through modern art are housed at the Getty Center.

The Getty Center website describes the different galleries and collections like this (writing is copied from the website, photos are mine):

"The galleries at the Getty Center are housed in the Museum's five exhibition pavilions, plus the Getty Research Institute Exhibition Gallery.

The East Pavilion features primarily 17th-century Baroque art, including Dutch, French, Flemish, and Spanish paintings as well as sculpture and Italian decorative arts dating from 1600 to 1800.

The South Pavilion houses 18th-century paintings and the majority of the Museum's European decorative arts collection, complete with elaborately furnished paneled rooms, dating up to 1800.

The West Pavilion features sculpture and Italian decorative arts of the 1700s through 1900, as well as 19th-century paintings.

The North Pavilion presents paintings dating up to 1600. The plaza-level galleries that house Renaissance sculpture and decorative arts are closed for renovation. They will reopen with a new thematic installation in late 2009.

The Exhibitions Pavilion features changing exhibitions."

Paintings from each century are rotated on a regular basis. I have a couple of favorite paintings that I enjoy viewing on each visit, and I rush into the room to see if they are on the walls. (I tried to copy the portraits from the website and couldn't do it, but here is a link to sweet little Maria Frederike painted by Swiss artist Jean-Etienne Liotard.)

In the West Pavillion, you can see original paintings by Monet, Manet, and van Gogh and many other Impressionist artists. Irises is on permanent display and I am always amazed that I can stand only one foot away from that beautiful oil painting! (If I get any closer, the guard will come up and ask me to step back a little.) Another gallery contains display cases filled with brilliantly sketched and painted illuminated manuscripts. I wander through those rooms, gazing at the intricate and detailed writing and drawing and wish I knew how to read Latin.

I could stroll day after day through the pavillions and never tire of reading the descriptions of the works and sitting for a while to concentrate on one particular portrait or sculpture. Realistically, I can spend one or two days in a year there. I hope I live to be a very old woman, so I can return again and again and again.

So much beauty, so little time!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

FFF Short and Sweet

After a very busy week, I haven't much time to plan a Friday Fave Five post. Even so, I find it refreshing to review Willow's Week and focus on my favorite moments.
1. Time spent with MamaMia included a quick trip to Old Town Ventura and lunch at a little restaurant that is becoming a favorite, Nature Cafe. On the menu, we spied an interesting sandwich: portobello mushroom, tomato, white cheese. We declared it a winner!

2. A hike up Lookout Trail along the ridge above the Pacific Ocean.
3. Running in to special Los Angeles friends who just happened to be camping in Sycamore Canyon and saw us walking through the campground on our way to the trail head.
4. I finished knitting two projects this week. One FO is not bloggable yet :) Photos later. The other project is knitted but not yet felted. It will become a new purse for me.
5. The internet has provided several hours of information finding and reading this week as I have been reading up on a couple of my personal interests. It's amazing that so much information is so easily available!

Join in the blessings of Friday Fave Five by dropping by Susanne's blog!

What were the highlights of YOUR week?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Gardens

I had intended to write a little essay about the gardens at The Getty Center, but I decided that words would detract from the beauty of the photos and the place.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Fave Five, Veterans Day Week


Friday Fave Five, Veterans Day Edition!
1. I love walking! This week Ellen and I took our Tuesday morning walk at The Blueberry Ranch. We varied our route and walked through a couple of other ranches that grow raspberries, avocados and lemons. You can see photos on Ellen's blog.

2. My camera arrived back from the Canon repair facility, safe, sound and working well!

3. What does a woman do on November 11th, Veterans Day, if her husband, son and son-in-law are veterans or active military? She goes to Knott's Berry Farm! That's what she does! Because Knott's allows all military personnel, active or retired (with proof) to enter the park free of charge and bring a guest, we decided to meet our San Diego contingent there to celebrate the day and also celebrate Chaplain Dan and The Princess's anniversary.

We stood in line, ate yummy food, rode rollercoasters, explored the Western theme, and enjoyed each others' company. The Professor remembers going to Knott's Berry Farm when he was a little boy, so it was particularly fun for him.

4. An added bonus of meeting our San Diego family was the opportunity to bring MamaMia back with us for a visit. Since her Marine is off serving our country somewhere (THANK YOU!), she decided to spend a few days with us.

5. For my Fifth Fave, I share with you a conversation with a student about poetry.

Her: I hate poetry! I don't understand it.

Me: Listen today to my lesson. I'm going to explain why poets do what they do and then you'll understand and like poetry!

So Mrs. Willow teaches the class about tone, audience, rhyme and alliteration, poetic devices, iambic pentameter, trocaic trimeter.

Her, after class: Thank you, Mrs. Willow! I understand it now. But I still don't like it.

Ah,well. Maybe when she grows up...

This concludes Willow's Week edition of Friday's Fave Five. Please go to Susanne's blog if you would like to read more FFFs.

Have a Happy Weekend!

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Architecture

The first time I visited The Getty Center, I spent the majority of my hours there gazing at the buildings, their structure and material composition.

I was enthralled with the travertine marble which was quarried in Italy and transported to Los Angeles. In the shadows, the marble looks pearly white, but when the sun shines on the rough exterior, the marble takes on a creamy yellow color.

As the stone was cut, fossilized leaves were revealed. You can see many of the leaf images on the buildings' walls.

The architecture so fascinated me that I walked around staring up at the arches, corners and overhangs designed by Richard Meier. I was distracted from the exhibits by the extraordinary beauty of the museum buildings.
Even after several trips to the Getty, I still love strolling along the hallways and balconies, gazing at the pavilions, admiring their size, structure and setting!

This link gives more information about Meier and the Getty Center's architecture.