Thursday, June 30, 2011

Slow Summer Days

Because we were traveling again last week, I missed Friday Fave Five.  I wondered if I would gradually lose focus and not think about those special moments and events of gratitude.  But I think I can recreate two weeks' worth of faves although they may not be in any particular chronological order.  And this week I can link up to Susanne's blog for Friday Fave Five.  If you want to join, click HERE.

1. San Diego Zoo.  What a beautiful place it is.  We spent several hours wandering through only a small portion of this splendid place.  What were my favorites?  Hmmm, that's a hard question.  The meerkats were highly amusing.  ADHD kitties, always busy, always hyper focused.

This little guy was on sentry duty and took his job very seriously.

The sleepy koalas didn't seem nearly as concerned about security.

2.  Wandering around Coronado.  We decided that after a long drive into East San Diego County (very mountainous and much hotter than the city of San Diego itself) that a long walk on the cool, coastal Coronado Island would make a nice contrast.  The weather at the beach was our typical June Gloom overcast.  But in every block and on every street there are unique homes, some small cottages and others gigantic mansions, and all are architecturally interesting.

3.  Sunday was The Professor's birthday.  I think he spent it just the way he wanted which included a lunch with friends, phone calls from all but one child (and he sent greetings the only way he could--via email), 'Happy Birthday' messages from friends and siblings.  We had had a little party in San Diego too, so the celebration lasted more than one day.

4.  We also drove over to Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa State Park this week.  Nestled in the coastal hills, connected to Point Mugu State Beach and part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, it's the perfect place to walk in the hills and observe the California native landscape.  Because we've been researching what California native plants we would like to add to our back garden, seeing many of the plants in their native habitat was helpful in identifying what we'd been reading about in Gardening with a Wild Heart by Judith Larner Lowry.

5.  A wonderful part of being a teacher on an academic schedule is, well, the schedule.  Summer afternoons this week have been spent dropping by the local library to pick up this or that book to read, then taking our books (and my knitting) and sitting somewhere either at home on our front patio or in a local coffee place to relax and read.  Summer doesn't get any better than this!

So that has been Willow's Two Weeks.  Traveling, celebrating (I didn't even mention the TWO graduations we attended in Los Angeles), and relaxing.  How have you been whiling away the summer days?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Zoo

The Tropical Rain Forest area reminded me of the jungles of Indonesia where we lived.

I've always been fascinated with gorillas.

I wonder if they're fascinated with me.

Birds blend in to their surroundings.

Adult male homo sapiens in their natural habitat.

Young ones play and pretend to be stomped by the elephant statue.

How could anyone be bored at the San Diego Zoo?

Sunday, June 26, 2011


This time it was San Diego, not San Francisco.

Cuddly koalas

Marine Corps Meerkat sentry, always on hyper alert status

This little primate amused the watchers with his novel method of taking a drink of water.  He only miscalculated one minor detail.

He wasn't the only one using the pond.

More photos another day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Slower Days of Summer

This has been a quieter week here at Willow's Cottage.  We needed a slow, simple week.  My faves have been small ones, close to home.  And that has been just fine with me.  I've linked this Friday Fave Five to Susanne's blog HERE.

1. Facebook chat with a long time friend who I haven't connected with for several years.  It was great to catch up with her and her family!

2. Crossing several items off my Summer To Do List already.  Of course, the list is very very long and certainly over-ambitious, but nevertheless I love marking the item done when I've finished it.

3. Progress on the photograph organization.  Promising myself that this summer I would truly make it a priority, I have started on the daunting task of finally sorting and organizing the years and years of family photos of which I am custodian.  This week I made a good start on them.  I pulled them out.  I sorted.  I culled.  Things are looking hopeful.

4. Progress on my goal of owning all the Newbery Award books.  At the local library used book store, I found three more books on my list.  The current count of books I still need is FIFTEEN!

5.  I broke a self imposed rule this week, and I'm really excited about it.  The first email came in and stated, "Free alpaca fleeces for guild members".  Although I already own way too many llama fleeces waiting in bags to be spun into beautiful yarn, I decided to just 'go over and check them out'.  Ha!  I knew I'd bring one home and I did.  This alpaca fleece is a creamy white color and absolutely gorgeous.  I haven't photographed it yet as it is still sitting in the back seat of the Honda.  The Professore asked me if I was going to leave it there all summer, but I am just waiting for a day when I have enough uninterrupted hours to lay it out on an old sheet, spread it open and 'skirt' it, cleaning the short clippings and picking the 'junk' out of it.  That process takes a few hours and it's easier to do if I am not stopping and starting the work over a couple of days.  I've been daydreaming about what to knit when I eventually have it all cleaned, carded, and spun.  A sweater?  An afghan?  There's enough poundage in this fleece to make several projects.  It's not like I really needed more fiber, though...

6. And here is a bonus, a photo that has nothing to do with anything but which amuses me.  I caught this king of the chimps sitting on top of a wooden shed in his enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo last week, regally surveying his little kingdom.

Did you mark anything off your to do list this week?  Or break any rules?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Reflections on Traveling

My Friday Fave Fives this week are focused on the short trip we took to San Francisco this week.  It was a week filled with fun experiences and many hours spent sitting in our car.  If you want to know more about Friday Fave Five, check out this link to Susanne's blog.

1.  time spent with my family
          We met up with The New Boy, his mama and the Grad Student, all of us converging at the same time in one spot on this planet although for different reasons.  Spending even a few days with our grandson (and two of our children) gives us great joy!

2.  a random meeting with someone who reads my blog
          We wandered in to a shop and the clerk commented on my felted bag.  One thing led to another and I discovered that wow!  she's a knitter, and she reads my blog!  What fun randomness!

3.  revisiting San Francisco
          When I was a child, my family drove from Oregon to San Francisco every summer.  I have so many memories of that city which I considered the most exciting and exotic place in the world, or at least my little world.  The Golden Gate Bridge

 San Francisco Zoo, Ghirardelli Square

 cable cars, hills and more hills, houses jammed up against each other with NO space between, Presidio of San Francisco, Golden Gate Park.  What fun we had sharing some of those places with The New Boy and his mama.

4.  Half Moon Bay
          Neither of us had ever been to Half Moon Bay even though it is very close to San Francisco and part of the peninsula on the Pacific Coast side of San Francisco.  On a whim, we decided to drive over the hills and visit that famous little seaside town.  We walked along Main Street, wandered in to the absolutely amazing and delightful  Fengari yarn shop and chatted with Ann the owner for a few minutes, stopped for a bowl of soup and a coffee at a local cafe, and ended up at the top of the cliff overlooking the local beach.  In typical Coastal California June Gloom weather, it was windy, gray and misty, so we didn't stay long.

5.  driving along the Central California Coast
          A seven hour drive each way along Hwy 101 allows for extended periods to spend gazing at the wonderful and beautiful California scenery.  We drove along the Pacific Coast beaches, through the coastal hills covered with live oak trees and orange poppies.  Watching the hills, dotted with horses and cows or covered with vineyards, roll past reminded me what an incredible state I live in--one that extends for almost nine hundred miles north to south, encompasses some of the most majestic scenery in the world, and is home to people living on citrus or cattle ranches, in small sleepy towns nestled in the golden foothills, and huge crowded, bustling cities.

How was your week?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Taking a Trip

I am traveling this weekend.  So I am preposting this Fave Five with Willow's Packing Tips.  I haven't heard if Susanne is traveling but you can check in at her blog Living To Tell the Story and find out who else is. 

Willow's Travel Tips--Packing Plans

#1.  Pack your swimsuit first.  Every. Time.  Otherwise, like me, you will arrive at the fancy hotel with the pool and hot tub and sadly realize you forgot it.

#2.  a. Make careful plans for what you are planning to take with you.  Spend about fifteen minutes choosing your clothes and throwing them in your suitcase. 
     b. You'll need a minimum of two hours to decide which knitting projects you wish to work on during your travels and adequate time to gather the yarns, patterns, needles and assorted accessories.  It would be wise to allow extra time for this step.

#3.  Carefully choose your reading material.  Take at least two books.

#4. Pack chocolate(s) and a camera. Remember the camera cables and batteries.

#5.  Before you begin to pack your bag, check the weather forecast for your desination.  If you do not include this step, #2a will take longer since you will need to pull out the short sleeved shirts and capris and repack the bag with cashmere sweaters, long slacks, and a rain slicker.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Old Sarum

Instead of correcting papers and writing thank you notes to those students who sweetly and kindly presented me with end of the year pressies, I've been reading Sarum--The Story of England by Edward Rutherfurd. I mentioned the novel in a recent post because Sara had recommended the author.  I'm captivated by history in general, and I love British history in particular.  Add in the fact that The Professor and I visited Old Sarum and Salisbury a few years ago, and I have a perfect match of interests.

View of the Old Sarum church ruins from the top of the hill

Willow pretending to be Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (Did you ever watch Katharine Hepburn as Queen Eleanor in The Lion In Winter?) imprisoned in the castle by her husband King Henry II

Stonehenge is mentioned in one of the early chapters of Sarum.

I love the memories of our trips to England that Sarum is invoking!