Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring, During Which Yellow Appears on Southern California Hillsides

A few days ago, my neighbor and I were admiring the flower covered hillsides surrounding our community. I commented, "The giant coreopsis are beautiful this year." She looked at me in confusion and said, "Giant coreopsis? Aren't those mustard plants?" "No, I don't think so. Mustard flowers are smaller, and I think the blooms are a lighter yellow," I replied. But then I looked around again and wondered what spring flowers really were blooming.

That little conversation got me thinking about our Coastal Southern California Spring Flowers. There is certainly a preponderence of yellow. For most of the year, giant coreopsis looks like raddegy deformed cactus. It grows in incredibly unlikely spots such as the edges of cliffs and in rocky crevices as well as steep hillsides. Only during the short rainy season does it bloom, sending bright yellow daisy like bouquets reaching toward the blue sky.

A shorter shrub blooms at the same time. I think this native California plant is a marguerite daisy, but I'm not sure. I did spend a bit of time researching in both books and on the web, but I didn't find any photo identification. These bushes are everywhere in the hills and along the country roads and sometimes grow mingled in with the giant coreopsis. On Saturday, The Professor and I stopped at the Chumash Trail head near Mugu Rock on Hwy 1 along the beach so I could photograph these flowers close up. As I was walking through the brush near the trail, a hiker stopped on his way down the path to warn me that he had just seen a very large snake slither into the very section of underbrush I was approaching! After he showed me a photo of the snake he'd taken, we determined that it wasn't a rattlesnake but merely a non poisionous king snake. Nevertheless, I decided that my photos of these daisies by the trail were sufficient.
These giant coreopsis may own the best ocean view real estate in the county!

You can just barely see some little flowers in the bottom left corner of the photo above. Those are wild mustard. In the photo below, you can compare the size of the blooms with the stones, broken abalone shell, and cigarette butt. Even though the mustard flowers are tiny, they bloom profusely at the same time as the 'daisies' and the coreopsis and when all three plants are scattered all over a hillside, it's not easy to tell them apart from a distance.
What I am sure of is that it is Spring in Southern California, the hills are carpeted with yellow flowers, and they are beautiful!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Friday Fave Five, Spring Equinox 2010

Hello! It's Friday and Fave Five time. On Saturday, we reached the Spring Equinox and crossed over in to Spring! What moments and events have blessed you this first week of Spring 2010?

Here's my list:

1. I must admit that I am rather excited today as I write this FFF. My Spring Break has arrived, and I have two full weeks of vacation!

2. Plane tickets were purchased this week. I'll be flying away to spend 6 days with The New Boy and his mama.

3. Game nights with friends are always fun. The Professor and I joined several other people to play Bananagrams and other games on Friday night. Do you know Bananagrams? Played with wooden alphabet tiles, the game is what I term 'expanded Speed Scrabble'.

4. For the past several years, I have had a different Spring Break schedule than The Professor and any of our children who might be taking college classes. This year is no different. The Grad Student is here for a few days at the end of his spring break and has enjoyed hanging out during the day with his dad who also has this week off. They kindly drove over to share lunch with me on Thursday. A few extra hours spent with 'my boys' is really special.

5. California's state flower is the California Poppy. Usually, poppies are bright orange. But some of these butter yellow poppies reseed in my back garden and bloom every spring.

When I see the poppies blooming, I know that Spring has truly arrived!

I hope you'll pop over to Susanne's blog Living To Tell The Story and join us for Friday Fave Five.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

First Blooms

Spring is an exciting season, full of new beginnings. Like this first bloom on Mayflower.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

FFF- March 19th

This could be titled the Spring 2010 Edition of Friday's Fave Five since Spring is arriving here in North America in three more days. Alternately, I could call this week's FFF the Willow's Leprechaun Birthday Edition.

1. My birthday! Since my actual birthday was on a weekday, my San Diego kids drove up to celebrate on the weekend. I chose visiting The Getty Villa in Malibu as THE PLACE to spend Saturday. If you are ever in Los Angeles and are interested in visiting an exact replica of a Roman villa, viewing amazing ancient artifacts, enjoying a superb meal, and strolling through a classical garden, then I would recommend The Getty Villa. Like the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Villa has free entry; you only pay for parking. What could be better than spending part of your birthday weekend meandering through the formal Roman gardens where fountains bubble in four corners among the acanthus, violets, pomegranate trees, daffodils, and boxwood,

where the peach trees are just beginning to bud,

and where you can look up and gaze on the most intricate architectural details
such as ionic columns?

2. Speaking of my birthday, I received several cards, emails, e-cards, skype waves and kisses, and facebook greetings wishing me Happy Birthday. People all over the world, from one of the -istans to Canada, from my friend in Arkansas to the neighbor next door, from Ellen in Washington to sisters, brothers, children, the New Boy, and my long silent cousin in the mid-West checked in to wish me Happy Birthday. I have to say that the email and facebook message from my cuz in Nebraska completely surprised and delighted me since we haven't seen each other in nearly twenty years. Thank you to everyone who sent me birthday felicitations!

3. A few weeks ago, The Professor and I ordered some seeds from Victory Seed Company in Oregon which features heirloom, rare, or old varieties of vegetables and herbs. We received the packet this week and opened it on my birthday. For us, it was an exciting occasion as we looked at the seeds we had chosen and planned our weekend around weeding, fertilizing, and planting. We're hoping to find out if kale and brussel sprouts will flourish in our little veggie patch.

4. I have long been interested in living a life of simplicity, frugal living and minimalism. This post by one of my favorite rational minimalism bloggers really struck a chord of agreement and excitement with me. If you are interested in simplicity/minimalism, you will enjoy and benefit from reading his blog and his new e-book Simplify. I've read many many books on simplicity and Joshua Becker's is one the most readable, accessible and enjoyable ones I've come across. (No, I am not getting any remuneration for recommending this book to you, although I did have the opportunity to read it before publication.)

5. I seem to be a fairly easy and predictable person to shop for. If my family and friends want to be sure to please me with a birthday gift, they know what I like! Books and music! Being a fan of Irish inspired music, I loved the Keith and Kristyn Getty CD the Blueberry Lady gave me. And the books, oh, the books! How can I pick just one favorite? It's not possible! I love each one!

As you can see, this week my faves have mostly been birthday themed. I suppose that is what happens when you reach a milestone birthday of Jubilee plus Ten.

I'd love to hear how your week was! Please share, and let's enjoy the gratitude and blessings together. Even if your week wasn't great or wasn't what you'd wished, you can always find something to focus on and be thankful for. Susanne at Living To Tell The Story has a Mr. Linky where you can publish your post, so others will be able to share the joy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


We've come a long way since this plant was our main source of writing paper.

Papyrus in a Pond at Getty Villa

Monday, March 15, 2010

et tu


Beware the Ides of March!

Photo taken in the TimeScape Room
The Getty Villa
Malibu, California

Thursday, March 11, 2010

FFF- March 12th

Time Magazine has nothing on Friday's Fave Five. What happens in the lives of our families and friends is so much more important than what's happening in the world. What makes us thankful and grateful in our daily lives matters more than national nightly news.

Friday's Fave Five hosted by Susanne helps us focus on the favorite parts our week. It's our own Week in Review. Thank you, Susanne, for hosting FFF every week!

1. There has been a perfect combination of rain and sunshine to make the garden wake up.

2. My friend who owns Ojai Lavender and Roses Farm gifted me with four David Austin roses!
Right now, there's not much to see except a few new leaves on the bushes, but in a few months I'm hoping to have beautiful Fair Bianca and Eglantyne blooms cut and placed in vases gracing my dining table. I'm so very thankful for my generous friend!

3. On Saturday, I joined some friends to celebrate 'our birthdays'. Even though I wasn't feeling the best because of my cold, I had a great time catching up with all the news in the lives of those five dear friends.
4. It's obviously March! The wind is blowing, and the kites are flying! And that means Spring is coming!
5. The Professor and I have been reminiscing in the evenings by sorting photos. He volunteered to choose, classify, and scan some family photos and documents for his siblings, and I have been culling and collating photos from my side of our family. While the process isn't always the most fun activity, the final product will be something our families can treasure in the years to come, in a manageable form. Time and Newsweek may not run an article about The Professor's grandmother winning $1.00 in a crossword puzzle contest or do a feature on my grandparents' trip to San Francisco, but those memories make our lives richer.
How did you make memories this week? What events are featured on your faves list?
Share them over at Living To Tell the Story or leave a comment here if you wish. Thank you for all your good wishes for my health this week. The Professor and I lost the fight with the cold germs, but we are determined to win the battle. Echinacea tea and Airborne are on our side!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In the Wind

I stopped near Marina Park and relaxed while drinking some hot cocoa.
Leaning in to the wind, a sailing ship slipped over the green waves.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Weekly Review - Friday Fave Five

Friday Fave Five is a weekly review of gratitude. Here are my faves for this week:

1. I belong to a spinners and weavers guild in my community. Last weekend, Sara Lamb was the featured speaker at our monthly guild meeting. Speaking for about an hour on Saturday morning, Sara showed us how she had taken white handwoven cloth and dyed designs on using paintbrushes. She was an interesting, enjoyable, and inspirational speaker, and I came away thinking, "Where am I going to put up my loom? I really need to get that thing set up!"

2. After a very rainy and windy Saturday, Sunday was glorious! The Professor and I spent a couple of hours in the blueberry fields with our dear friends where we picked two trays of fresh ripe berries. When we brought them to the house to dry the dew from them and package them, we sampled our bounty!

3. Some days, it seems that when you make one thing well, the next creation turns out, too. Spinning fiber is an art. We spinners talk about not always knowing what the yarn we are working with is going to do, how it wants to be spun and plyed (fyi: plying is the process of taking two of more single strands of yarn and twisting them together). The second skein of yarn I spun for my daughter in law plyed perfectly! It may be the very best yarn I've ever spun. And then, to add to the perfection, the cup of misto I brewed tasted just right because I finally used the correct proportions of coffee and hot milk.

4. How can I have a wonderful week of gratitude without mentioning the beach? The shore birds and local children shared the joy of playing in the sand on a sunny afternoon. I enjoyed watching from my car.

5. One of my tutoring students told me I'm the 'best tutor ever'. Whether I am or not, whether he was trying to distract me from his math assignment or not, his declaration reminded me why I persevere in teaching and tutoring.
How was your week? I'd love to read your list of gratitude. You can post it at Susanne's blog as part of Friday Fave Five or just tell me in the comments. Please know that if I don't respond right away to you or get around to visit your blog, it's because I have picked up some cold germs and am fighting a valiant battle which it seems that I am losing.
Happy Weekend!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Sweet Eleanor

Eleanor is a little girl who has cancer. Her parents are friends of my daughter Kiti's college friend, Wendy. Because Wendy is a knitter, a supportive friend, and a blogger, she has designed this adorable hat and is selling it to help raise money to help Eleanor. Every penny that Wendy makes selling this pattern is given to Eleanor's parents to help them pay for her medical care. You can read about Eleanor's situation on her Caring Bridge website (posted with her parents' permission).

I bought Sweet Eleanor HERE on Ravelry last week and knitted it in a creamy white acrylic/wool blend. I loved it!
Wendy has designed a great, clearly written pattern in two sizes, child and adult. If you are looking for a cabled cap to knit, try this one. You'll get a well written pattern, a really really cute hat, and the satisfaction that you are helping a little girl in her fight against cancer. If you're in to KALs and are a Ravelry member, you can join this Malabrigo Junkiesgroup and knit Sweet Eleanor with them.