Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Last One for the Year

This is the last Friday Fave Five that I will post for 2011.  Thank you, Susanne, for faithfully hosting FFF so we can focus on being grateful for the large and small blessings of the week.

The past week has been symbolic of the way the whole year has gone---busy, busy, busy.  There has been almost no time or opportunity for online time.  But my time has been taken up with much more important things.

1.  We have been down almost at the Mexican border with California being 'Meema' and 'Bapa' to three very busy preschoolers.  The New Boy has been getting to know the two little ones who may become his cousins.

2.  The boys had a special day with Meema and Bapa.  We rode the San Diego trolley around the city.

Watching out the window

Snuggling with Bapa for security

3.  All my children were in the same city at the same time.  This is a very unusual event, so unusual that we commemorated it with formal pictures.

The Four Siblings (in birth order from youngest to oldest)

4.  Morning snuggles with The New Boy.  he tiptoes into the room and peeks to see if we're awake.  Then he jumps up on the bed and climbs in under the blankets to say, "Good morning!"

5.  My Christmas present from The Professor:  it's not something you can see, but it's something you can hear.  He hired a piano tuner.  When we're back at The Cottage, I'll be able to play my favorite tunes (such as Moonlight Sonata) without wincing.  Thanks, Honey!

Happy New Year 2012 to everyone!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Birthday

My Dad
Along the (Mighty) Columbia River Highway
On the Oregon side
Summer 1942
(I know it was summer because he isn't wearing a coat and it's not raining)

This photo was taken when my dad was twenty years old.  He had left the dairy farm where he had grown up in southwest Oregon.  The youngest of three boys, he had had his fill of milking cows and mucking out stalls.  So, shortly after he graduated from high school, he moved from Myrtle Point with several friends from the football team and took a position at Boeing near Seattle working on planes being built during the run up to the US's entrance into World War II.  Soon after this picture was taken, Dad left for Army Air Force basic training.

Yesterday was his birthday.  He would have been eighty-nine.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Not a White Christmas

More like a Brown and Blue and Green Christmas

Just a few miles north of the Mexican Border

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Fourth Week of Advent and Christmas Day

Merry Christmas!

Or as The New Boy announces,

Happy Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Third Week of Advent

It's the third week of December.  As of Friday, December 16, there are nine days until Christmas.  Cards are arriving in the mailbox.  Christmas music is playing in the house and car.  Soon, soon, maybe I'll begin addressing envelopes (yes, I'm running really late this year).  As always, since it's Friday, I'm pausing to post my Friday Fave Fives which is hosted each week by Susanne at her blog Living to Tell the Story.

1.  My daughter's surgery last week was 'uneventful' and considered by the doctor to be 'successful'.  I am thankful for wise and skillful surgeons.

2.  My drive from near the Mexican border north through FOUR Southern California counties, much of it during rush hour traffic, took FOUR hours!  I think that's a record for me.  A facebook friend asked how I'd done that--it was truly mostly luck in choosing the fast lanes and ducking around the back-ups.

3.  We have had alternating rain and sunshine.  The rain we need because Southern California is an arid place.  The sunshine we love because, well, because we're Southern California sunshine addicts.

4.  I think I have received a year's supply of goodies as Christmas gifts from my very sweet students--chocolate truffles, peanut brittle, chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate covered raspberry candies, to name just a few.  Undoubtedly, I am going to need to ration these desserts out for the next fifty-two weeks and share them with family, friends and neighbors!  But I'll keep the Starbuck's card for myself.

5.  Anticipation!  I am now on Christmas Break!  Three weeks!

And this Sunday I will light the third Advent Candle.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Second Week of Advent

It's Friday and time for Friday Fave Fives which is hosted by Susanne on her blog Living to Tell the Story.  Firday is the day I look back on my week and think about what events or activities impressed me with grace and gratitude.

1.  How many times during this week did I say, "Wow!  It's SO clear!"  (At least fifty!)  Because the Santa Ana winds blew again most of the week, the skies were crystal clear and everywhere I turned, I could see the mountains and beaches and islands that I know are there but not always visible.  We could see the silhouettes of the Channel Islands miles out from the coastline.  And the sky itself provided rich beauty in brilliant clouds and blowing palm trees.

2.  On Saturday and Sunday, we doggie-sat our friends' pit bull.  They live near the beach so we took advantage of the location and walked along "The Strand".  Windy days are perfect for kite flying on the beach.

We walked until the sun dropped below the horizon.

Sometimes boats really do sail off into the sunset.

3.  Winds bring beauty to our area but they also can bring wild fires.  On Saturday morning we had to detour from our usual exit to by our home because there was a fire right on the edge of the freeway less than a mile from our house.  Why would I choose this as something I'm thankful for?  I'm thankful that we have an excellent and well trained group of fire fighters in our county.  They respond quickly and know how to deal quickly with a potential disaster.  This nearby fire was contained to only twelve acres, there was little damage to property and no one was injured.  Things could so easily have ended very differently but for our wonderful fire fighters.

4.  Thursday afternoon, I drove to San Diego to stay with my daughter after she had surgery.  I'm thankful that I have a job that allows me to be away on long four day weekends so I can be available to help when I'm needed.

5.  Because I stopped in Orange County to have a late lunch with the pit bull's 'mommy',  I managed to hit San Diego right at rush hour.  The shining red lights of the cars in front of me were strung along the lanes like Christmas lights around a roof and the white lights facing me for miles on the opposite side of the freeway were as bright as Christmas tree lights.  Fortunately, I was relaxed, knowing that eventually I'd arrive at my daughter's house.  I had the company of Celtic Woman and Boney M singing Christmas carols and a marvelous choir performing The Messiah.  Do other drivers sing O Come All Ye Faithful and Little Drummer Boy at the top of their lungs, or am I the only one?

So that was Willow's Week.  I hope your week has been filled with beauty and song, too.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

First Week of Advent

1. I admit to not yet being in the Christmas spirit. Because I'm not a shopper, the gift giving part of Christmas does not excite me.  However, our family tradition of drawing names and buying ONE gift for ONE person helps me generate a little bit of interest in that part of Christmas.  This month I'll be planning and purchasing a gift for my youngest girl.  Of course, The New Boy is exempt, but we'll be choosing a small gift that will fit in his suitcase and instead focusing on an activity to enjoy together during the days we'll be together.

2. However, I do love Christmas music!  As I am typing this, I am listening to Celtic Woman singing O Holy Night.

3.  Although there are no decorations inside the cottage yet, the December camellias have been decorating their bushes along the side of the front porch.

4.  The box of hats for the Chicago area food pantry kids' Christmas party was sent off just before Thanksgiving.  I heard this week that it had arrived--all twenty-six hats inside.

5.  Now I am knitting some Christmas projects.  No photos of those yet--obviously.  That would spoil the surprise.  I'll give you a hint, though.  They involve several balls of different colors of yarn and a knowledge of fair isle technique.

I shall light the second Advent candle this weekend, the candle that represents LOVE.  It follows the first candle, HOPE.  This week, among my offerings of gratitude through Friday Fave Five, I send my LOVE to all, friends and family, and my thanks to Susanne for hosting FFF every Friday.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Simple List

It is Thanksgiving Day and it's time to write up Friday's Fave Five.  I have a simple list.

1.  I am thankful for my husband, he who carries the wallet, who drives so I don't have to, who trails after me into knit shops all over the world.  We sit quietly together in the evenings.  After all these years, we still talk and laugh daily.

2.  I am thankful for my children--four of them with a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law.   And a precious grandson.  Simply, I love them.

3.  Because I've lived in places where they were not available, I am thankful for clean water, secure shelter, and abundant food.  I hope I never take these things for granted.

4.  I am thankful for friends.  I am truly blessed with many old and new friends.

5.  I am thankful for the ability to read, access to a seemingly endless and infinite supply of reading material.

This is by no means an exhaustable list of thanksiving, just a quick and simple list.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!  Please visit Susanne to link up for Friday Fave Five.

The Marines Came

The Marines know how to bake pies--fruit, apple, and pumpkin.Who knew?

They also know how to carve the turkey.  And wash dishes.  They are awesome help in the kitchen.  They can repair planes, shoot guns and secure unsafe places, too.

The Army and Navy were also well represented.

Now they're all playing chess and slapjack.  I'm knitting.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I had not intended to fall off the 'post-every-day' regimen.  But I seriously underestimated the amount of time I would have during my Thanksgiving break.  Since arriving by train in San Diego, I have been trailing behind my daughter and have realized how busy her life is.  I can't keep up.  However, I have finished my main part of the Thanksgiving Day dinner (homemade cranberry sauce) and am now sitting resting before returning to the kitchen to start on the family famous Grandma Rylander Rolls.  Obviously, there hasn't been much time to post on my blog or read other blogs since last Thursday night.

All the children but one (along with the New Boy) are here in San Diego.  The girls took off to buy a meat thermometer, the boys are playing a game, the dog is wagging her tail incessantly, and the cat is huddled into her hidey-hole.  The Professor and I are sitting and smiling.  We are happy.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

fff nov XI 2 XVIII

Friday Fave Five happens every week.  Choose five events from your week which you are thankful for, post them on your blog and then link them up to Susanne's blog.  Thank you, Susanne, for hosting this every week.  Here are mine:

1.  expectation.  The anticipation of our Thanksgiving visit with our family in San Diego.  Most of the fam will be together.

2.  flexibility.  I'm thankful that my schedule is flexible enough this weekend and next week, so I can hop a train to San Diego today (Friday) and help my daughter MamaMia with some stuff in preparation for Thanksgiving (see #1).

3.  transportation.  I love taking the train and Amtrak's Surfliner is special.  The views are world class!

4.  yumminess at Minimalist Woman.  My friend Meg has just published an e-cookbook.  I have been reading the introduction and browsing the recipes.  What I truly appreciate about this cookbook is the simplicity of the recipes.  I'm not a fancy cook and I *heart* one pot recipes which is what Meg's book focuses on.  I am definitely going to be trying the Pacific Soup (think sweet potatoes, coconut, and pineapple) and the Cranberry Orange Muffins.

5.  a purchase.  This week I bought -- wait for it-- railroad ties.  We are in the process of doing a bit of stabilization on the steep bank behind the house here at Willow's Cottage.  We'll be planting some California natives and are using those massive blocks of wood to keep the dirt from sliding down the slope.  Having the railroad ties means that the work will soon be completed.

Before next week's Fave Five, we will have celebrated Thanksgiving in the US.  So I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cap Recap

I promised to knit twenty hats for a Chicago area food bank's children's Christmas party the first week in December.  My goal has been to make twenty hats.  Currently, I am knitting Hat #19.

A friend handed me four hats last Friday.  So as of Wednesday evening, November 16, I have twenty-three hats to send (as soon as I finish the hat which is now on my needles).

Shall I go for twenty-five hats total?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November Flowers and Leaves

I am fascinated by the camelia blossoms.

They bloom at the same time the sycamore leaves turn red and orange and then drop to the ground.

The iceberg roses are still blooming and the bumblebees are still bumbling.

This is November in Southern California.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven Eleven Eleven

Willow's Fave Fives--a little late this week.  But here they are--

1. When our espresso machine broke a few weeks ago, The Professor looked for a replacement part online to fix it.  Unfortunately, the part could not be ordered.  In typical Professor fashion, he attempted a couple of fixes and found that using a 3/8" socket drive would turn the broken handle.  Then he realized that if he had a piece of 1/4" steel stock, he could cut it to fit and repair the broken 'turn thingie' himself.  Where to find such an item?  I emailed my friend Roxie and her amazing husband posted a 6 inch long cylinder of 1/4" steel stock to us.  We're back in production thanks to The Professor's ingenuity and Roxie's hubby's generosity.

2.  I wrote earlier this week about my fun adventure in teaching some girls to knit.  This afternoon, I'll be doing a return gig to instruct them in increasing and decreasing.

3.  Today is 11-11-11.  On this day, we celebrate and thank the men and women who have served the United States in the military.  As the daughter, niece, and wife of veterans, and as the mother and mother-in-law of active duty military personnel, I have much invested in this day of thanks and remembrance.  THANK YOU TO ALL THOSE WHO HAVE SERVED MY COUNTRY.

4.  In addition to this day being a federal holiday, it is also the wedding anniversary of my son and daughter-in-law.  HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

5.  Weather.  I just like weather.  I've been noticing that the quality of the light during day hours is changing.  I'm not sure why or how, but it just seems like winter and it's the LIGHT which makes me realize that we are moving nearer to the winter solstice.  This week we have experienced some warm, sunny, windy days and also some rainy days, like today.  Unexpectedly, the leaves turned from rich magenta and vibrant tangerine to sodden, drab washed out versions of the purples and oranges.  Perhaps tomorrow while they are still hanging from the branches, the leaves will brighten back up again in the sunshine.  Even in Southern California weather can be (a little) interesting.

This has been Willow's Weekly Fave Fives.  If you want to join in focusing a weekely post on thanksgiving and gratitude, you can link up at Susanne's blog Living to Tell the Story.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


I did not post here on the blog yesterday although I did write many many words on student papers.  Mostly, I scribbled 'Excellent!', 'Very creative epilogue!', and 'Wow!  You really understand alliteration now!'  A couple of times I penned, 'Fragment' or 'Watch your punctuation and quotations' or 'Oops! Banned Word!' 

In my class, students are not allowed to use say/said, get/got, come/came, go/went, or see/saw/look (this list is representative but not complete) because those verbs are overused and have become meaningless and boring.  Students are required to use their thesaurus (gasp! yes, really) to discover stronger, more vibrant verbs to substitute in their stories.  I also have banned the use of very and really as adverbs.  Pretty and ugly can easily be replaced with more descriptive adjectives.  How many times have you heard someone or something described as 'pretty ugly'?  Banning boring words increases my correcting times but at the same time increases my enjoyment quotient while reading stories.  How fun it is to read a nine year old's paper where the characters 'admonishingly stated', 'replied smugly', 'demanded', 'shouted' and 'exclaimed'.  Another child (also nine) wrote that his characters 'fumed' and 'inquired'.  However, my favorite substitution for said this week was 'whined woefully'.

Now it is time for me to depart for my class where I will enthusiastically teach my students to exchange 'gallop, run, trot, race, proceed, saunter, and stroll' for that boring banned verb 'go'.  Gotta go leave now!

Monday, November 07, 2011

My Legacy

Having missed yesterday, which was Sunday, I think I should declare Sunday to be a sabbath rest day from posting on my blog.  That's my excuse.

On Friday afternoon, I spent two hours teaching several ten to twelve year old girls how to knit and purl.  The feedback has been wonderful.  Three parents (including a dad) have seen me at church, on the street, in Starbuck's, and informed me that their daughters are so excited about knitting.  The dad told me that he has to insist that the girls observe their usual bedtime, and his daughters have replied, "Just a minute.  I have to finish my row!"  I assured Dad that The Professor has heard those words literally thousands of times as I've raced through the last ten stitches before turning out the bed lamp light, opened the car door, or started cooking dinner.  Evidently I'm teaching these young ladies well to understand what's important!

I choose to use my leisure time passing on my fiber art skills.  I consider it part of my legacy to the next generation.  Who will knit charity hats, cozy scarves and sweet baby sweaters after my hands are cold and stiff if I don't show these girls now how to work the purls and knits, the increases and decreases, the pick ups and bind offs?  Hanging out with enthusiastic tweens keeps me young.  They make me laugh.  They make me proud.  I'm lovin' it.

Because I'm a left handed knitter, I have enlisted the help of a brilliant and creative seventeen year old young lady who is the TA in four of my writing classes.  Pen can learn a technique on Thursday and teach it on Friday.  I do not want to confuse anyone with my "Hold the empty needle in your left hand, no, your right hand. Umm, wait a sec... yes, your right hand, no, your left hand..." mumbling as my brain works to translate left handed to right handed knitting.  Pen's young and agile brain can make those transfers so much faster than I can.

I'm looking forward to this Friday!  The girls will learn to decrease and increase and then they will be able to make this scarf--

The instructions for knitting this scarf are free online here.

Details for my scarf:  Willow's handspun superwash wool, leftover from a spinning project done for someone else.  Size 9US needles.  3 1/2 inches wide, 78 inches long.  Usually, I wear it doubled and then looped around my neck because I like the warmth.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

One Day

One day's knitting.
Plain vest by

I've knitted this little size 1 vest before, also in pink.
But this time, I used a much lighter shade.
The button choice brightens the plainness.

If you need a quick knit for a baby shower gift for a new little girl, try the Plain Vest.
Details here.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Because It's Nine PM

Because I am hoping to post something here on my blog every day this month, because I was lazy and preferred to sit in a coffee shop with my husband and contentedly sip a decaf soy mocha (no whip) this afternoon, and because I spent two hours with seven sweet pretween girls helping them improve their knitting skills, I have not prepared a fascinating paragraph for publication.

All I can say here is, "This evening I walked two miles,"  which is exciting to me since that is farther than I have walked in the past nine weeks.  My severely sprained ankle is finally healing!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Slow and Simple

Slow and simple.  That best describes this past week. 

1. Logging slow miles.  Actually, to be precise, I logged a mile.  Each day this week, I've walked a little farther, and on Wednesday, I walked ONE mile.

2. Last week, I mentioned that I have been knitting hats.  I posted about the Chicago food bank which will be giving away 1,000 or more hats to children who attend the Christmas party the first week of December.  I just cast on stitches for Hat #10.  My goal is to send twenty hats.  If you are interested in helping by knitting or crocheting hats, check out my post HERE.  Simple knitting can reap wonderful warm benefits.

3. Santa Ana Winds would not normally be on my faves lists because, well, it's windy.  On Wednesday the Santa Anas blew gusts up to 40 miles per hour from the desert to the ocean.  What I enjoyed was the aftermath, not the blown leaves, the downed power lines at The Professor's university, or the small fire that burned at the side of the freeway, but the crystal clear air that resulted from everything dusty and hazy being blown away.  A simple thing like a beautiful day makes me happy.

4. A simple lullaby.  My older daughter, mama of my New Boy, wrote this post yesterday about her singing a song to him as she tucks him in at night.  I loved it.  Made me cry.  And miss him.  He's growing so fast.  It is probably time to knit him another new sweater.

Gratuitous photo of him modeling the sweater I gave him in July.

5. Simple meals.  Warning: if you are an enthusiastic cook, maybe you should skip this one.  Because I've been fighting a cold (and mostly losing the battle), my interest in preparing exciting dinners has been at a low low low ebb.  This was dinner one evening this week:  leftover brown rice with canned organic black beans dumped on the top.  The Professor steamed some broccoli to accompany his meal and added barbeque sauce and green salsa.  I went the minimalist route--before I microwaved my bowl of rice and beans, I threw fresh spinach on top and heated everything together then topped it with the green salsa.  It was a very simple yet tasty and delicious dinner.  (Ellen, I warned you!)  But we followed it with chocolate so perhaps the lack of forethought and preparation can be forgiven.

There you have it.  Willow's very quiet and simple Week in Five Faves.  I've linked up with Susanne's Friday Fave Five as usual.

How about you? Was your week complicated or simple?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Writing Teacher's Challenge

This is National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short.  I'm feeling uncomfortable. I don't write. I teach writing.  Instead of simply correcting student papers every day, I should be writing more myself.  Although I'm not even remotely interested in writing a novel, I decided to challenge myself to write a daily blog post this month.  We'll see how long this lasts.

Today's story is a simple retelling of the traditional tale of The Hare and the Tortoise.

Slow and Steady
by Willow
      In a pleasant evergreen forest there lived a community of woodland animals. A tortoise, who had escaped from a nearby farmhouse many years before, lived among the rugged gray rocks on the edge of the meadow. Under a large fir tree, a loud, lively hare had dug a den for himself. Hare loved to boast about his ability to outrun any forest animal even the red fox. Because Hare was a bragging boaster, he did not have many friends. Obviously, most of the other animals preferred to avoid him.

      One day Hare and Tortoise met by chance near the brook which bubbled through the clearing in the middle of the forest. As Tortoise trudged along the path, Hare viciously taunted him. "Out of my way, Tortoise! You are so slow you may not make it across the clearing before dark, and then the night owls will swoop down and grab you for their breakfast!" "I am fine, Master Hare. If I keep walking steadily, I will be safely back under my rock home in time for dinner. In fact, I could beat you," replied Tortoise mildly. "Ha! I'll race you across the clearing and we'll see who's the fastest creature in the forest," challenged Hare. The other animals heard the loud voices and curiously hopped over to listen. Hare yelled, "Hey, Red Fox, will you mark our beginning and finish lines? I'll prove to this old reptilian slow-poke that he should never question the fleetest runner in the forest!" Red Fox agreed. Carefully, he mapped out the route along the creek, through the farmer's garden and up the slope to the fallen log on the other side of the meadow and then indicated to the two contestants the start and finish lines. "Ready, set, go!" Tortoise placed one leathery claw in front of the other and slowly made his way past the crowd of animals which lined the trail. Hare sped off. Soon he was out of sight. When he approached the farmer's garden, he slowed down a bit and noticed that the carrot tops were poking through the moist soil. He decided that he needed a sweet snack and stopped to nibble a few green shoots. Then he spied the lettuces. After eating his second helping of carrot tops, he became sleepy. Having forgotten all about the race, he curled up under an apple tree by the edge of the path and fell fast asleep. Meanwhile, Tortoise reached the end of the path along the creek and hurried as quickly as his short stumpy legs could move past the farmer's garden. He noticed Hare. He did not waken him.

      Eventually, Hare awoke and leisurely sat up. He observed Tortoise near the top of the meadow and suddenly remembered the race. Although he hopped twice as quickly as he usually did, Hare crossed the finish line twenty seconds after Tortoise. All the forest animals excitedly cheered for Tortoise as Hare stood there in humiliation and disbelief while Fox placed the winner's garland of springtime flowers on Tortoise's head. Fox turned to Hare and remarked, "Slow and steady wins the race."

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Calling All Hat Knitters!

Do you have yarn lying around in your stash waiting to be knit up?  Do you have little balls of fun colors which were left over from various projects?  If you do, you can knit them into HATS!  I imagine you are thinking, "Once they're knitted up, what can I do with them? All my family members and friends already have been gifted with my marvelous fibery prowess."  Well, do I have the perfect opportunity for you!  This month, you can pull out those partial skeins and knit (or crochet) them up in to hats to keep little heads in the Chicago area warm this winter!

I noticed a post on Robyn the minimalist knitter's blog about making hats for all the children who attend a Christmas party at a food pantry in the Chicago area.  Since I have an abundance of those little leftovers and I have been steadily knitting down my yarn stash, I thought this would be a great way to use my yarn and talents and also bless those cold ears from wind and snow.  I contacted Robyn who put me in touch with Kathie.

Here is Kathie's response and explanation:

"When I first started knitting the ladies in our church were very supportive. One lady volunteered in a food pantry and she thought some hats would be great for the children who come to a holiday party in early December each year. Last year I knit 60 hats and she said they went fast. When I asked her how many children came to the party, she said over 1,000 children. I just couldn’t believe it.

The food pantry is in a middle class neighborhood on Irving Park Rd. in Chicago. Last year they gave bags of food to over 30,000 people. This is a very small location that is only open 2 days per week. The most wonderful group of volunteers work there and they think there will be an even larger group of children coming to the party this year. So I’m looking for people to help crochet or knit hats. I’ve knit over 100 hats this year and have received 130 hats from people on Ravelry so there is over 230 hats ready to donate.

I’ve been putting descriptive labels on them that say the name and state of the person that made them. “Handmade for you by Mary in Georgia”. I want to show the kids that people from all over the country have thought of them and volunteered to help. My hope is that they will see this and feel special. Hopefully some day they will think of others and pass on their talents.


Kathie needs to turn in all the hats by the end of November so we have only a few weeks to knit and crochet and drop those boxes in the mail.  So far, I've knitted seven hats and have cast on for my eighth!  According to Kathie, any size is welcome although women's small or medium caps are a good general size.

You can contact Kathie through ravelry (her Rav name is kathied5732) or you can e-mail me at for her address.

Don't leave all that yarn in a bag in the back of your cupboard when it could keep a child warm this winter!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


1.  This has been a momentous week!  I am now back in the driver's seat of my Honda!

2.  I took my first short walk post ankle sprain, eight weeks ago.  It was simply up the hill and around the corner to my neighbor's house.  But still.

3.  This chat conversation with my older daughter is typical of what our discussions are like.  Some are less serious.  (With her permission):

her: I'm trying to think of more interesting stuff to post.
me: Post about your new appliances

her: and how they use less electricity!

me: How old the frig was. Or the washer--exaggerate. It was a hand cranked wringer style. haha
Yes. How you evaluated and rated to choose therm. NOT by color

her: Nope, it wasn't even a washing machine. I had a branch of the Licking River diverted through my basement, and I had to beat the clothes with paddles to get them clean.

me: My situation was that I sneaked down to the local swimming hole at night to wash my clothes.

her: I had to wait for rainy days so I could go stand out in it. Fortunately, it rains a lot in Ohio.

me: lol

4.  Knitting down my yarn stash a little bit more.  This time around, I'm knitting hats.  They will most likely be traveling to a snowy climate to warm up cold little ears.

5.  This quote which I stole found and copied from Colleen in Australia's blog“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

And that's why I write my Fave Fives every Friday.  You, too, can share your gratefulness and, if you want, link to Susanne's blog here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Things That Make Me...

1.  Laugh.  This week my friend MARILYN brought me a cup of coffee at the end of my class.  The barista had written her name on the side of the cup.  But it was spelled MARYLAND.

2.  Smile.  Spending several hours Wednesday evening with my daughter Kiti who was in Los Angeles for business meetings this week.  Chatting, laughing, talking over a yummy Thai meal, I realized that there is no substitute for face to face conversations.  Skyping, texting, and chatting are great but sitting across the dinner table is best.

3.  Relieved.  My grad student son who has been wandering around Indonesia for three months is back stateside.  When I saw that the phone call I missed during class Thursday morning was from his 'domestic' cell phone, I realized he was 'home'.

4.  Pleased.  With another finished sweater.

and buttons sewn on this one.

5.  Thoughtful.  The combination of what I have been learning in my Precepts Bible Study on the book of Daniel (that guy in the Old Testament--you know, the one who got thrown into the lions' den), my discussion group about the book The Power of a Whisper, Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond by Bill Hybels, and my continued (slow) reading of Richard Foster's Freedom of Simplicity has provided me with ample thought-provoking and challenging material to meditate on this week.

My week has been one that has simply made me grateful to be alive and well here in my own little corner of California.  Thank you, Susanne, for providing the opportunity to link up for Friday Fave Five!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just Add Buttons

This week (like many other weeks recently) was quite busy.  I have not had much time to be online or visit other blogs.  I'm hoping that my days will slow down a little.  Here are highlights from Willow's Week.  As usual, I am linking up with Susanne's Friday Fave Five as I focus on, not the busyness, but the blessings of the week.

1.  Choosing to spend a couple of hours reading on Monday morning was the right thing to do.  I just needed a short sabbath to relax before the week roared in to high gear.

2.  All that remains to finish the February Lady Cardigan for my daughter is sewing on the buttons.  I am more motivated to do it this weeked in anticipation of seeing her when she is in Los Angeles on a business trip this next week.  Two faves in one; but who's counting?

3.  We rushed down to West Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon after our classes to meet up with friends who we hadn't seen for a couple of years for dinner.  The young woman we watched grow from a jr higher to a lovely adult as a classmate and close friend of our daughter (see #1).  I furiously knitted on a little sweater for their new baby and almost finished it.  Part of one sleeve, the hood, and five buttons left to work.  The yarn came from my stash and so that is THREE faves in one--knitting, using up my stash and cuddling a precious new baby boy.  But who's counting?

4.  More spinning and demonstrating, this time at the Ventura Scottish Highland Games.  We were positioned near the building entrance by the stage where Celtic Spring performed four times during the day.  LOVE their music!  And I sold more hats and scarves which means more $ for Generate Hope.  Another two for one?

5.  Thursday (last) night we attended a dinner at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.  Wow!  What an amazing place.  After the dinner/program, I just stood under Air Force One and marveled at the plane and at the helicopter.  I think that President Reagan would have approved of the function--The Prison Fellowship (Chuck Colson) and The Urban Ministry Institute (a ministry of World Impact) are partnering to provide seminary education to people in prison in a program called Prisoners to Pastors.  Since The Professor is a board member with The Urban Ministry Institute Satellite in Los Angeles, we were excited to hear about the partnership and enjoyed spending a couple of hours with some friends and former colleagues in a marvelous venue.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Some Mobility

Lately, it seems that I manage to post a Friday Fave Five every week, but that is about all.  I find that my days are flying by this autumn especially since I started back to teaching the writing classes.  This year I have more students and more classes.  While I am happy for the extra income and the opportunity to teach more students excellent writing skills, the work has seriously cut in to my photography and blogging time.  And truthfully, recovering from the sprained ankle has taken much time and energy.

Nevertheless, even in the midst of busyness and healing, I continue to focus on what is important to me, what blessings God has provided to me each week.  Because that really is the reason for Friday Fave Five.  Thanks to Susanne for hosting FFF every week!

1. I had agreed two months ago to demonstrate spinning with the weavers/spinners guild at Reyes Adobe Days in Agoura Hills, CA (far northwest suburb of Los Angeles County).  On Sunday morning, The Professor loaded up my spinning wheel and accesories into the car and drove me over there.  I discovered that, yes, I can manipulate the spinning wheel with one foot.  I enjoyed the day spinning a lovely blue and green wool and silk blend fiber. (Photos to follow when the two ply yarn is finished.)

2. The best part of the day was selling several items including two boy bunnies, all but one of the coffee cozies, that sweet turquoise, grey and white striped baby sweater, and several scarves and hats.  All proceeds will be going to help THIS GROUP.

3. The Professor was looking for a particular library book that isn't in our city library system.  He found it was available at the main library location in Ventura so, of course, we drove up there to pick it up.  While he was searching the shelves for his book, I found a volume of all three of Elaine St. James' books which included Simplify Your Life, Inner Simplicity and Living the Simple Life.  This week I'm rereading St. James' ideas.  I had read the books in the 1990s shortly after they were published and appeared in our library in Oregon.  It has been good to remind myself of how far I've come on my simplicity journey and remember some things I'd forgotten in the past few years.  My favorite:  remembering why I love very simple eating (and cooking) habits.

4. We had a lovely and refreshing rainstorm this week.  Our very thirsty, dry, brown mountains happily soaked up the wetness.  I think that just the one day of rain turned the hills a little bit green.  Maybe it's just my imagination.  But they look green to me.

5. These weeks while I've been sitting around, NOT walking much, besides the knitting I've been doing, I've also been tackling the mountains and boxes and files of old photos and slides.  Finally, I overcame my resistance to learning to operate the scanner.  I've been scanning photos and organizing them on my computer.  In a pile of old slides I found this one:

Me on a trail in the Papuan jungle

That was Willow's Week.   How was yours?  Did you reread any favorite books, enjoy a hobby, rediscover an old memory?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

When You Can't Walk-

you can still knit

1. a cabled hat

2. coffee cozies

3. a pair of Girly-Girl Socks

4. and a child's striped pullover sweater.

And you can crochet

5. a granny square blanket.

and maybe some other granny circle-squares.

There are many productive ways to use your time when your doctor says, "No driving yet. And limited walking." 
It's important to find ways to be thankful in every situation.

Thank you, Susanne, for hosting Friday Fave Five.  It helps me remember each week to look for areas of thankfulness and gratitude.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thankfulness This Week

It's Friday and that means Friday Fave Five, a time to contemplate the best things that have happened this week.  Susanne provides this opportunity every week for us to remember our Weekly Favorites.

1.  My friends (and husband) who have driven me to the doctor(s) and to classes this week.  Without them, I would never have been able to begin teaching my writing classes this week.  I'm truly grateful for my husband and friends who have helped me so much!

2.  My favorite new fashion statement:  a big black boot to hold my swollen, sprained ankle steady without (very much) pain.  It goes well with my silver crutches.

3.  These quotes from Freedom of Simplicity by Richard J. Foster.  Foster published this book about Christian Simplicity in 1981.  In reference to Matthew 6:22--"If all within us is honed down to the single treasure of Christ and his Kingdom, then we are living in the light of simplicity."  "With our eye focused on Christ the Center, we are to live with glad and generous hearts.  This is simplicity."

4.  One thing I've done while I've been sitting around this week is look through my files and files (and files) of photos.  I've found flowers and shells and beaches, photos I've taken for the past 6 years.  But the photo that touched my heart most was this one of our kitty Angel who moved to San Diego with Mama Mia after she was married but went on to kitty heaven three years ago.  Angel was the BEST kitty we ever had.  What a sweet memory.

5.  The best news I received all week was this text from my daughter in law regarding my Army Captain Chaplain son, who has been deployed over the past year: "He is officially home."  For that, I am truly and completely thankful.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Summer Memories



Sea shells

Memories of summer to hold when the rains come

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Painfully Quiet

The past seven days I have not ventured out beyond my door except for two doctor appointments.  It has been a painfully quiet week of elevating and icing my swollen and bruised ankle.  Finally this morning I decided that if my ankle hasn't healed in a week, then maybe, maybe, I ought to have my doctor have a look at it.
Incredibly, I was able to get in immediately to see the doctor because of a cancellation.  And just as incredibly, a friend was available to zip over, pick me up and take me to the doctor's office.  I am so thankful for

1. a timely appointment and

2. friend in need who is a friend indeed

Immediately, I was sent to the x-ray lab and now I am awaiting the results.  Maybe, maybe my ankle is broken, but maybe maybe it's 'just' a sprain.  I see that I was wise to call the doctor.

However, the entire week was not lost in a morass of pain and pain-killing pill popping.  While I was doing all that elevating and icing, I also spent my days working on lesson plans and

3. I am as finished as I can be at the beginning of a school year.  When I was bored with that, I played around on my laptop,  learning some new tricks, organizing files and deleting others that I no longer need.

Through all the hopping, crawling, grimacing and learning to handle the neighbor's borrowed crutches,

4. my wonderful and patient husband has waited on me, washed dishes, cooked meals and done laundry, all while he was working his own very full teaching schedule.

5.  Mostly I am so very thankful that his position provides health care for us so that when mishaps happen, we can simply pick up the phone and call the doctor.

That was my painfully dull and quiet week here at Willow's Cottage.  It was a week to be reminded to be careful what you wish for.  I had wanted a quiet week at home to focus on the essentials.  It seems I got just that.

Thanks to Susanne for providing a venue for posting Friday Fave Five every week!

Added later:  the diagnosis is 'severe pain sprain', so now I'm just waiting until Monday afternoon to see what further measures need to be taken.

Also, like Ellen, I am having problems posting on many blogs.  If you wonder why I haven't been around to read your FFF or other posts, I have been.  Unfortunately, whenever I submit my comment, I'm rejected.

Monday, September 05, 2011

End of Summer Special

Sadly, it is truly the 'last day of summer'.  Labor Day in the US has always marked the change of seasons from summer to fall because it is traditionally 'The Day Before School Starts'.  With schedule changes, the traditional beginning of school is no longer really the day after Labor Day.  In fact, my daughter in law has been teaching for two weeks, and The Professor's semester has been in session for a week.

However, I wish to honor the 'real' end of summer with this presentation of

The Beach Umbrellas of August