Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reading, Knitting, Eating, Etc.

Here at Willow's Cottage, we had a quiet week of finishing the big kitchen painting project.  The last of the cupboard doors are done.  When we put the doors back up, I'll be decluttering all those shelves yet again. It was also another week of watching for those little things that make me thankful--those quiet moments or slow hours that slip by almost unnoticed.  Friday Fave Five helps me to be mindful all week to not take them for granted.

1.  Worthy quotes I read this week somewhere but I can't remember where.  I think I need to heed my daugther Mia's advice and keep a notebook of quotes and thoughts I want to remember, writing them down as soon as I find them.

“The bread that you store up belongs to the hungry; the coat that lies in your chest belongs to the naked; the gold that you have hidden in the ground belongs to the poor.”   St. Basil the Great

"Live simply so others may simply live."   Mother Teresa

2.  Books I am reading this week.

Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes.  In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.  The Throne of Fire by Richard Riordan.  All three from the library.

A friend has again passed on to me another collection of mostly fiber related books from a relative's estate, but a small booklet titled Plants of Shakespeare by Adelma Grenier Simmons was tucked in the bag and I'm enjoying it as much as the weaving and spinning volumes.  The majority of the books and magazines will be passed on to my spinning/weaving guild for its library, but the deal is that I can keep for myself any books I wish.  Another booklet I plan to keep at least for awhile and read is Plants Used in Basketry by the California Indians, a reprint of an article from 1923 in American Archaeology and Ethnology by Ruth Earl Merrill.  Fascinating stuff, at least to me.  Evidently, anthropologist/archaeologist children come by their passions honestly from both parents.

3.  Knitting this sweater, February Lady Sweater, by Pamela Wynne.  It's a free pattern I downloaded from her blog FlintKnits.

I'm knitting February Lady in a dark greyish blue acrylic yarn (passed on to me from someone else's stash to use up), not for me, but for my older daughter, Our Boy's Mama, who has requested longer full length sleeves instead of the three-quarter length ones shown here.  No pictures yet.  I've been too lazy this week to pull out the camera for a photo shoot.  I'm thinking maybe I'll knit up this same pattern for myself in some handspun alpaca/silk blend if there's enough yardage in the yarn I'm considering using.

4.  Fantastic fresh fruit.  The apricots from the farmers market are perfectly ripe and oh so sweet.

5.  While I was running a little errand at the pre-fair set ups for the Ventura County Fair, The Professor took his bike and rode along the beach route up the coast from Ventura toward Santa Barbara and back.  Then we met up to eat our packed lunches and enjoy a cup of coffee before heading home again.  That's what I love about summer--having the time to make an errand into a day trip.

How have you captured the slower flow of summer this week? (or winter, if you are living below the equator)  What has made it on to your list of thankfulness?  You can share with others by linking up at Susanne's blog Living to Tell the Story.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Theodore Payne Foundation for California Wild Flowers and Native Plants

This sign was posted at Descanso Gardens, but I thought it was a wonderful tribute to Theodore Payne, the pioneer of modern California native gardens.

At both Descanso Gardens and Payne Nursery the wild flowers were abundantly featured.  Many of these beauties will be planted in my back hill garden among the poppies that already bloom there.

Sages and grasses are important staples in a California native garden.
Cleveland sage

Point Sal Sage grows low (2 ft) and wide (8 ft). We've already purchased two of these wonderfully fragrant sages.  I plucked a leaf for my neighbor to smell and she kept it, crushing and sniffing its pungent odor throughout the day.

Native grasses help to stabilize slopes.  I think these will add structural interest when they poke up through the sage.

I'm wondering if our interest in California native plants is unusual or if people from other regions of the world encourage the growth of native trees, bushes and flowers.  Where you live, do you focus on native plants from your area?

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Promise Fulfilled--Descanso Gardens

This visit was not our first one to Descanso Gardens.  Four years ago, we spent a day there with Mia to celebrate The Professor's birthday.  You can see the posts I wrote at that time here and here if you care.

This year, we skipped the rose garden and focused most of our time on the California native section.  But the entire garden still drew us in and fascinated us.

near the entrance

japanese gate

oak tree canopies

Everything from the mundane green beans spiraling up an inverted tomato cage

to exotic lilies

to unusual tree blossoms blooming concurrently with little buds and shriveled pods

to tree needles that simply caught my attention.

And that doesn't include the CA natives or Theodore Payne Nursery because I don't want to overload the senses with too many intoxicating photos in one post. 

Payne Nursery coming soon.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Best of The Week Awards

We've been away this past week visiting our daughter and grandson in the eastern half of the US.  Even though I (well, actually The Professor) lugged my laptop through the airports, through security, into and out of the planes, I connected to the internet with it only once while I was gone.  I think that next trip, I won't bother.  However, the lack of easy, constant online access other than via my phone kept me from reading and commenting on many blogs.  I'm working to catch up now that we're home.  And here it is already, Friday, and time for my favorite post of the week:  Friday Fave Five, hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story.

A chance comment by my husband got me thinking about awards, specifically the "best of" kind.  My week held several "bests" to share.

1.  The Best Los Angeles Friend of the Year Award goes to our friend Kristie who still picked us up from LAX at 2:30AM after our flight was delayed leaving Minneapolis because of a mechanical problem with the plane.  Then she allowed us to crash in a freshly made bed until morning.  She's definitely No.1 Best LA Friend in our opinion!

2.  Best Grandson of the Year Award was an easy choice.  He's cute, he's three, he's our only one.

3.  Best Harry Potter Movie of the Year Award.  Again, it's the only Harry Potter Movie of 2011, but it was still great fun to see Deathly Hallows 2 with Kiti and her friend.  It was fitting that I was knitting the sleeves of a Weasley Sweater for Our Boy during the movie.

"You want me to sit here on the porch and have my picture taken in my new sweater?"


"Are we done yet?  I want to go back inside and play with my trains."

4.  After seven nights away, our own bed was given the Best Place to Sleep Award.  We love to travel and we especially love snuggling with Our Boy on the bed, but you know how it is--it's always wonderful to crawl back in to your own bed when you arrive home again.

5.  Finally, the Best Return to California Beach Walk Award--goes to Pt. Dume (DooMAY) Nature Preserve.  Wanting to put our feet firmly back on Coastal California sand after our truly lovely trip east of the Mississippi River, we stopped on the way home from Los Angeles along Pacific Coast Highway.  The last time I was at Pt. Dume State Beach was 12 hours before I went in to labor with my second child.  I was already a week overdue to birth our little girl and could barely waddle across the sand and certainly could not climb any rise or dune.  But waddle I did along the beach in the wet sand.  Fun memories.  Anyway, we decided to detour to the beach at the 'north' end of Malibu, found an easy place to park and hiked up to the Pt. Dume look out and then down to the beach.  Considering how crowded Zuma State Beach was, we were surprised at how deserted the tide pools at Dume were.  Of course, it's not easy to climb down the stairs to reach the beach and that certainly deters most beach goers.

Killer Stairs--they really are that steep

Pt. Dume Nature Preserve (and beach) is not for wimps. But until I become too old or too wimpish to climb these stairs, we'll be going back to enjoy the relative solitude of this wonderful beach.

This was Willow's Week in the Wild Wild West East.  How was your week?

Thursday, July 14, 2011


It's Friday and time to write up my Friday Fave Fives.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any more photos of Descanso Gardens posted, but I will do that soon, soon, soon.  I do have a couple of good excuses though, as you will see.  Without any more preliminaries except to remind you that Susanne at Living To Tell the Story hosts us every week and you are welcome to join us in celebrating what we are grateful for during the week, here is Willow's Week:

1.  So at 10:30pm Friday night, my cell phone rang.  I didn't recognize the number but I answerd it anyway.  I wasn't asleep, and I could just tell the person on the line that it was a wrong number.  But it wasn't a wrong number!  It was my son calling from Jordan, from the Dead Sea.  After saying several times, "Sorry, I can't hear you very well," we switched over to a Skype call. Clear. Quick. Steady.  Skype calls are amazing!  And then on Monday, he called again from his archeological dig site using his newly purchased international phone.  Oh I love hearing his voice and knowing he's OK.

2.  Our kitchen is newly painted.  Notice that I did not write that I am thankful that we painted the kitchen although we did in fact paint it all ourselves. It was major effort of cutting, brushing and rolling, but it's almost finished.  We still have most of the cupboard doors to paint but everything else is done and the paint is hardening.  What color?  White, of course.  And the added little benefit will be that as I replace everything in the drawers, I will have the opportunity to declutter anything that is just not going to make it back into the kitchen.

3.  As I type this, my precious grandson 'The New Boy' is snuggled up next to me on the sofa at his house.  We are visiting him and his mama for a week.  He's getting so big and he's talking and recognizing that the number at the beginning of the last paragraph is 'two'.  Maybe I should change his name to 'Our Boy' because he's really not 'new' anymore.

4.   Yesterday afternoon, we drove to LA for our flight to Ohio.  We always plan our trips to LA carefully to avoid the worst of the traffic.   Since we had several hours to wait near LAX before we needed to be at the airport, we had dinner with our friends.  It was great to just sit on the patio of the Mediterranean restaurant and chat for a couple of hours without rushing off somewhere else.  Then they dropped us off at the airport because our car is parked in their driveway for the week.  Those are friends indeed!

5.   Because we flew on a 'red eye special' overnight, for four hours, we didn't get much sleep last night.  I claim that as the excuse for BOTH of us to forget that today was a special day.  We didn't remember that it was our thirty-eighth wedding anniversary until our daughter in law called us to wish us 'Happy Anniversary'.  I am so very fortunate to be happily married to a wonderful faithful man.  He makes me laugh every day, he fixes me a latte (or two) every morning, and after all these years, he still tells me he loves me.  I'm truly blessed!
 No photos tonight because I'm typing on my daughter's computer.  If I get my own laptop up and running here, I'll try to add some pictures.  In the meantime, do let us know what you are thankful for in the comments.

Friday, July 08, 2011

THINGS I did this week

This is Friday and that means Friday Fave Five, an opportunity to focus on what happened during the week that made you pause to be thankful and grateful  Here are mine:

1. The Fourth of July was spent mostly quietly at Willow's Cottage.  Puttering might the the best word to describe the morning.  In the afternoon, we did a few quick choresand tidied up a few things.  The Professor pulled out the grill, and I added a tablecloth to the dining table.  Friends arrived.  We chatted.  We celebrated.  Quietly.

2. One of the things on my Summer Get It Done List is documenting our personal inventory list for our home insurance--what furniture do we own, when and where it was purchased.  You know the drill.  Descriptions, receipts, maybe a photo.  I spent parts of two afternoons writing up a doc. file and reorganizing the notebooks.  Am I finished?  No.  Did I get a good start on it?  Yes.

3. The thing about borrowing books from the library is that when you return them, you find new books to read.  This is not a bad thing. Next up on my reading list:  Bella Tuscany (France Mayes) and I, Claudius (Robert Graves).

4. I have 'this thing' about bunnies.  Where we walk in the evenings, there are bunnies hopping and hiding in almost every garden.  Tall ears; fluffy white tails; brown, tan, grey fur.  I knit furry, wooly and acrylicy bunnies, too.  Here is the latest creation.  This little guy is so new he doesn't have a name yet.  Made of my handspun, hand-dyed wool, he's a very special hopper.  He's on his way to live in San Diego at my daughter Mia's home.

5.  I saved the best thing til last.  Yesterday we drove to the hot, hot interior of Los Angeles County.  Descanso Gardens in La Canada is a delightful place to wander through rose gardens, camellia gardens, Japanese gardens and a large California native garden.  Oak groves are the backbone of many California woodlands and hillsides.
We hiked up the Chaparral Trail past the dry creek beds where in the spring the rain rushes down the hillside and then wandered down through a grove shaded by the high canopy of spreading branches.  I haven't had time yet to finish uploading and sorting the more than one hundred photos I took at Descanso and at Payne's Native Plant Nursery, which was our other destination, but I had to share this unusual sage, Cleveland Sage, with you.  I may be in love...

So that was Willow's Week, the things that occupied my time and interest this week.  You can share your things you did too for Friday Fave Five at Susanne's blog.  Have a great weekend!  Come back during the weekend for more photos of Descano Gardens and Payne's Nursery.

6.  PS:  How could I have forgotten this one??  If you were watching the Mets vs Dodgers game on the Fourth of July, you might have seen some shout outs from deployed servicemen/women shown on the big screen.  One of them was MY BOY!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Fourth of July

I wouldn't say that we are a military family although my father, father-in-law, various uncles, my husband and my son and my son-in-law have all served in the military.  The current count of active duty members in my immediate family is two--my son who is an Army Reserve Chaplain currently deployed and my son-in-law who is a US Marine.

What's it like to be a military family?  My daughter posted this on her blog today:

The next time you see a man or woman in uniform, thank them for serving.  And thank their families, too.