Sunday, August 30, 2009

What We Need

What we need right now is some of this~

Not another forest fire.

Praying for our firemen (including our nephew) who are fighting the Station Fire and our family members who are very close to an evacuation line.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Friday Fave Five

Friday's Fave Five, Late Summer Edition

Join me and others at Living To Tell The Story to share what we loved about our week. Here is my week in retrospect.

1. First is Last. Just before sitting down to write this post, I drove The Professor to Los Angeles to catch a plane. The round trip took a total of two hours, home to LAX and back to home, three freeways and freeway interchanges each direction. The drive was mostly easy and smooth, no close calls or crazy drivers. For a quick and safe airport trip I am truly thankful.

2. Messing around with my camera's macro setting. Photo taken Saturday while watching our bikes outside the hardware store.

3. Gifting. I love the give and take of sharing with others, giving away what you don't want or need to someone else who has been looking for just that item. This week I was able to gift away some decorative rock that was in our front garden, placed there by the previous owners. As I was scooping up the rocks, a nearby neighbor wandered over and asked if I or my daughters had any interest in a chair and a desk. I have been thinking for some time that I would like a desk for my laptop. My little Dell wanders around the house and is often placed on my lap while I am typing or browsing. So now my computer will have a home, once I figure out where to put the lovely drop down lid desk. This week everyone wins! I have a desk, my neighbor has more room in her house, and my sister in law has rock for a pathway.

4. I heart my library. I love having so many books available to me through inter-library loan!

5. The Farmers Market. We are fortunate to have a local farmers market that is open 50 Saturdays during the year. The Professor and I shop there most Saturdays and choose fresh, local, often organic, vegetables to eat during the week. This evening's dinner was tomatoes (local: our garden), basil (ditto), spinach and garlic (farmers market) sauteed in olive oil (farmers market) and served over linguine (Trader Joe's).

I hope you have enjoyed this Late Summer version of Willow's Week!

Late Summer Spinning and Knitting

As the summer season slowly winds down, those lazy dog days of late summer slip into early autumn, I look at my summer vacation to do list. While I have accomplished some of the hundreds of tasks I set for myself this summer, I also find I have not completed most of them.

Buy new tablecloths--no.
Purchase a guest room lamp--not yet.
Hang more pictures--nope.
New area rugs--no.
Strip and repaint my grandpa's old wooden chair--mostly done with that.

Ah, but, spinning and knitting? Yes, I've done a bit of that!

Variegated blue superwash wool from Crown Mountain Farm--all spun up, twist set, skeins wound.

More superwash wool, also from Crown Mountain. This one reminds me of Peppermint Candy.

My summer knitting has been simple and uncomplicated. The warmer weather prevented me from working on large, cold weather projects such as sweaters or blankets. In fact, my summer stitching has been so boring I haven't bothered much with photos. A few bunnies. A couple of scarves.

However, yesterday a request came from a family member for me to knit some soft cotton caps to cover a head soon to be free of hair. I am searching my pattern books for sweet, simple, soft hats.

As autumn arrives, I will have more purpose in my knitting. I promise. And maybe, just maybe, I'll finally purchase those rugs, lamps and tablecloths. And finish painting the grandpa chair.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's Fair

After going to the county and state fairs in Oregon, Washington, and California for so many years, I wonder if I'll tire of wandering through commercial buildings, around the craft, garden, and collections displays,

and along the main refreshment thoroughfare.

The Ventura County Fair drew us this year as the fairs have done every year.
Yes, there were fried Snickers and fried Twinkies, but I resisted. I had already eaten half of that strawberry and whipped cream funnel cake.
I learned early in my fair going career that although I still enjoy watching the ferris wheel make its revolutions, I am quickly bored with the rides and games. Carnies are carnies wherever they're peddling their wares and entertainments.

But I'm always up for the tractors and livestock. The fairs, after all, focus on the local economy, and there is still an agricultural presence in most counties in the West Coast states.

No, I haven't tired of spending a day at the fair yet. I don't think I ever will.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


He said, "Shall we ride our bikes to the farmers market this morning?"

I said, "How far is it? How can we carry our spinach and beans and broccoli home?"

As I spoke, I knew those were silly questions. He rides his bike daily and carries everything he needs in a black backpack.

He said, "We can ride to the market and then if you want to wait for me Somewhere, I'll pop over to the hardware store and pick up that screwdriver I need to mend your spinning wheel. And then we'll ride home."

The thought of 'Somewhere' intrigued me.

I asked, "Where is Somewhere?"

He replied, "Oh, Somewhere where there is coffee."

He has been encouraging me to ride my bike more. He knows that once I'm out on the bike, on the street, I love it, I feel strong and free. The tricky part is getting me on to the bike. That's where the encouraging part comes in.

He calls it encouragement. I call it bribery. It works.

I said, "OK. How far will we have to ride?"

He didn't say.

We rode to the market, and I felt strong and free, so we rode to the hardware store, where I waited outside and guarded the bikes. Then we decided to ride to the closer coffee place because I wasn't feeling so strong and free. I was hungry and thirsty.

Down the hill on Barry Street. Along Mission Oaks, which parallels the freeway and is actually lined with large, graceful eucalyptus trees, not oaks. Across Santa Rosa and into the parking lot.

He happily paid his bribe.

Round trip: 11.667 Miles

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Friday Fave Fives

Late August. Lasting summer. Lazy days.
My week in review.
Each week I share my five best moments in Friday's Fave Fives, hosted by Susanne.

1. Sylvia has gone to live with a new little girl, born this month. I hope Sylvia brings her many happy hours of comfort and joy.

2. The county fair. Food and Fun. Just The Professor and me.

This was once a strawberry and whipped cream covered funnel cake. We shared.

The Spinners and Weavers Guild was there, spinning and weaving. The guild members were taking turns weaving a bamboo runner.

3. Cool and foggy mornings make for pleasant walks. Every morning this week, our blue sky has been obscured by low clouds and fog. The haze usually burns off by mid afternoon. The morning cloud cover keeps the temperatures in a comfortable mid 70s range.

4. I love living in an area of Southern California where there are still large fields of market crops. I pass this and several other fields on my route to the Pacific Coast Highway where I can go either south to Malibu and Santa Monica or north to Oxnard and Ventura.

Wednesday I drove PCH south (past this field), through Malibu, to Santa Monica to spend a few precious hours with a friend. We met at Le Pain Quotidien on the Third Street Promenade and enjoyed French pastries and excellent coffee served in French mugs.

5. University faculty gathered for dinner and schmoozing Thursday evening, hosted by the library staff. The fortunate librarians have a new and fancy building that was recently dedicated as the John Spoor Broome Library, named for the benefactor of the land on which the university is built. I accompanied The Professor to the dinner and enjoyed getting reacquainted with faculty members that I usually see only once a year, at this event.

Well, here you have it. Willow's Week. It was a quiet week. And it was good.

To share with others, go to our hostess, Susanne, at Living To Tell The Story.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Fave Five

Friday Fave Fives

1. A writing class. I attended a class designed to teach writing to students. Two years ago, I took the class for the first time, and the two part class this week is a review. Institute for Excellence in Writing.

2. Which brings me to Fave #2. The bad news? Right off the newspaper's front page-- CA budget crisis slashes education jobs. Including mine. The good news! I am privileged to take my teaching and tutoring experience and recent writing knowledge and put it to work to help a dear friend (the writing teacher) increase her class load in homeschools and charter schools in the area!

3. Fun trip to the county fair. That's where I will be while you are reading this on Friday. Walking around with The Professor. Eating greasy food. Watching the people. Gazing at photography and knitting.

4. Library books. I love the serendipity of cruising the bookshelves and discovering a new volume or unknown (to me) author. Oh. And library book holds!

5. My camera. I still really really love it! My current favorite photo.

Peace, Los Angeles

To visit the rest of the FFF gang, go to Susanne's blog.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Downtown Los Angeles: Random Views

When you do the tourist thing in Los Angeles, you don't have to limit yourself to looking for the Hollywood sign, cool as it is, searching for Movie Stars, or spending big bucks at Universal Studios. Entertain yourself! Look up and around. Los Angeles provides a crash course in urban architecture.
Olvera Street fountain with Terminal Annex in the background.

Pico House, a notable Los Angeles Hotel, in the early days.

Decorative cornice on an old Main Street building.
Two movie theatres that are great examples of the classical architectural style.
Dept of Transportation building with church in background.
Juxtaposition of old and new, reminiscent of London's constantly changing urbanscape.

Church with Dept of Transportation building in background.

Abandoned buildings provide sad testimony to urban blight.
St. George Hotel missed the memo about luxury loft makeovers.
This building got the memo and reinvented itself as retail space.
Please note here that the advert proves once and for all that knitting is now mainstream.
Clifton's Cafeteria, Downtown restaurant.

The Professor remembers eating there 'on special occasions' when he was a child.

On our next visit, we'll have lunch there, The Professor promised.

Thanks, Los Angeles! Until next time...

I'm very excited to announce that my previous post Downtown Los Angeles: Getting There and Getting Around was selected by David McMahon as a top contender for his Post Of The Day.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Downtown Los Angeles: Getting There and Getting Around

If you visit Los Angeles and arrive in a car, you must understand that you will spend a lot of your sight-seeing day here:
[This photograph does not give you the reality of the mind-numbing bumper to bumper congestion that occurs daily on Los Angeles freeways. Case in point: we spent a full hour Saturday evening driving at the wild and heady pace of 5 mph, speeding north on the 405 past the Los Angeles International Airport.]

You must also understand that, like all major cities of the world, parking space is limited and therefore costly. In downtown Los Angeles, parking costs range from $1.00 to $10.00. And that's if you can actually find a parking lot with available parking.

[I hope you do not think me bitter. Not at all. I am merely stating the facts here.]

Would it not be much much better, much simpler, to utilize the mass transit system? Of course it would! Hop on a bus ($1.25 fare) and let someone else do the driving and dodging, accelerating and braking. Disembark from the rapid bus at the newly constructed Metro Train Station at Vermont and Wilshire.

You can choose stairs or escalator. Queue up to purchase your All Day Pass ($5.00).

Trains come and go every few minutes. Stand on the side of the platform that says Union Station. Pretend that you are in London, riding The Tube. Imagine the British accented voice telling you to 'Mind the Gap' as you step on the train.

Grab a seat if you can and count your stops. Three to Union Station.

Look all around you at the old elegance of this still gracious railway station of yesteryear. Notice the high ceiling, the polished wood painted to match the tile motifs on the walls, columns and floors. Think about rail way station scenes from Funny Girl.

Welcome to Los Angeles!

Walk across Alameda Avenue. Straight ahead you will see Olvera Street, the birthplace of Los Angeles. There are shops, museums, and restaurants to explore. There may even be a movie photo shoot happening!

No cars here. The movie location caterer has to walk several blocks from the closest Starbuck's to bring stars and directors their afternoon coffee.

On Hill Street, at the bottom of Bunker Hill, skyscrapers tower above you, built sturdily to withstand even the strongest earthquake.

In earlier times, the Angel's Flight Funicular transported passengers up and down the hill. But now it hangs sadly on its wires, watching the pedestrians huff and puff on the hundreds of steps that parallel its tracks.

You can't see the details of skyscrapers or funiculars if you are cooped up in your car. It's much more interesting to stroll through Grand Central Market over to Broadway and down to Ninth, across to Maple and the Fashion District.

If you get lost, you can always ask the yellow shirted Los Angeles Downtown Safe Team guy for directions back to the Metro Station at Pershing Square. That's what he's there for.

[Thanks to David McMahon for selecting this post as a top contender for Post Of The Day.]

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Friday Fave Five

Friday, August 7, 2009
Thank you, Susanne, for hosting this event every week!

Friday Fave Five!

Here are mine~
1. Time spent with Son#2. He moved last weekend and is staying with us until he leaves for Stanford University to become The Graduate Student. I treasure these hours and days with him.

2. Restful mornings, relaxing with a cup of coffee, watching the palm fronds blowing in a cool summer breeze.

3. I have spent a couple of afternoons this week while we've been kittysitting, typing geneological information into my computer. I have collected information about my ancestors for a long time and decided I wanted to organize it in a database. I've been reminded that I am part Irish, that two of my gr----grandfathers worked their way across the Atlantic Ocean onboardship, that one gr----grandmother was born 'on the way' to California in a wagon, and that one set of gr----grandparents sailed around Cape Horn to get to San Francisco!

4. The Professor and I spent a day in downtown Los Angeles, visiting friends who still live there and then taking the bus and train to Union Station

and walking around the city

ending up in the Fashion District and at Grand Central Market. These are places where we shopped regularly when we lived in Los Angeles and it was great to go to the Fashion District fabric store I used to frequent and find beautiful linen for a really great price!
5. Seeing this food cart in front of the BigBoxHomeImprovementStore in Long Beach on Sunday. Its name made us laugh.

If you want to read what others enjoyed this week or want to add your own Faves to the list, go to Living To Tell The Story.

And I'd love to have you share one fave from your week!