Sunday, July 29, 2012

No Entry

Do Not Enter

An incredible view of The Pacific Ocean can be seen just a few steps inside this gate, but the casual passerby is not welcome.  This is private property just a block away from The Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara, California.  Even so, the seaside garden and classical pillars evoke a sense of antiquity and peace.

Linking to Toby's Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Spending the Day With Thomas

Some weeks are formed more by activities and others by conversations.  This past week my thoughts have been focused on the quotes by one man.  At a graduation ceremony, I heard a quote by Thomas Merton which took me to the internet to read more about the man and find more of his wise statements.  Here are five which struck me:

1.  “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.

Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”

― Thomas Merton

2.  “To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to the violence of our times.”

― Thomas Merton

3.  “We live in a society whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body and keep it at the highest pitch of artificial tension, to strain every human desire to the limit and to create as many new desires and synthetic passions as possible, in order to cater to them with the products of our factories and printing presses and movie studios and all the rest.”

― Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

4.  "Advertising treats all products with the reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments."

― Thomas Merton

5.  "Be good, keep your feet dry, your eyes open, your heart at peace and your soul in the joy of Christ."

― Thomas Merton

If you want to know more about Merton, you can read this biography on Wikipedia.

I realize that this is an unusual way for me to write about my week for Friday Fave Five, but I just wanted to share.  Thanks to Susanne for hosting FFF.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Window Reflections

I happened on a fascinating window reflection last week.  Taking a photo of a stained glass window in the Queen Anne Cottage at Los Angeles County Arboretum, I ended up with something very unexpected.

These are the two windows in a photo taken directly in front of them which includes the metal mesh bars which protect them.

After snapping that shot, I realized I could see the windows better in the reflection in the mirror across the room.

Then I walked around the corner and took a picture of the windows through another window on the side.  This was the result.

The red and white painted trim on the outside of the porch reflected back from the side window while the stained glass windows are brightly backlighted from sunlight shining through them.

Whimsical?  Yes!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Back to Friday Faves

It has been three weeks since I posted a Friday Fave Five.  We were traveling and that while it provides many opportunities to make favorite memories, it doesn't lend itself well to having time to share them.  Where to begin and what to share?

1. Obviously, any trip to visit Our Boy would have to include photos of him!

Oh, and as you can see, blogger has forgiven and forgotten its threat to disallow me to post photos and is allowing me to upload pictures again.
2.  Safety.  Just before we arrived at Our Boy's house, his area experienced a significant windstorm which uprooted trees and blew down branches resulting in loss of power at his house for a week.  He was safe. And his house wasn't damaged although there were lots of branches and leaves strewn all over the front and back gardens.  Oh well.  We still had fun and practiced some of our old Papua, Indonesia survival skills.

Some really massive trees snapped and fell.

This is one of the reasons why there was no power.

Fortunately, this isn't his house.

But it was great fun to watch the workers fixing the downed telephones wires.

3.  We loved sharing our love of arboretums and gardens with him.

4.  Now we are home.  We missed our ocean views so on our wedding anniversary (that's another fave tucked in here:  thankfulness for a long and happy marriage) we took our bikes to Santa Barbara and rode along the beach bike route from Summerland as far as the Santa Barbara Pier and back.

5.  Lastly, I am truly thankful for excellent books that make me think:  Joel Salatin is a farmer who wrote Folks, This Ain't Normal which is about how far we have fallen from producing and eating 'normal food'.  I wrote a bit about how the book has challenged my thinking in this post.  If you're interested, you can read it.  And I would encourage you to read the book.

I feel like I have barely covered the faves of the past weeks.  I am so blessed with friends, fun, and family.  How about you?  You can share in the comments or link up to Susanne's blog for Friday Fave Five.

Susanne has been hosting Friday Fave Five for 200 weeks!  She asked each one of us who has joined her to tell when we began FFF--it took me awhile to go back far enough, to 2008.  My first Friday Fave Five post was September 5, 2008, just three weeks from the very beginning of this fabulous way to focus on our gratitude.  Like Susanne stated, it has been a wonderful exercise in discipline to choose to look for the positive blessings in each day, each week.  Thanks, Susanne, for leading so many of us in this celebration of discipline

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Worth a Thousand Words

Blogger has again informed me that I cannot upload any more photos to the blog here.  So instead of posting a picture I will have to settle for writing 1,000 words.  Usually, if I wait a few days, blogger forgets what it said and again allows me to post pictures.  In the meantime...

What have I been up to lately?  Obviously, I haven't been online much.  We went to Ohio.  We arrived in the aftermath of a 'straight hurricane' which recorded 65 mph winds with gusts up to 85 mph.  Really. There were downed trees, wires and branches everywhere.  Our daughter had no electricty for a week.  Since we had already made arrangements to travel to the Chicago area, we lived without power until the morning of the 5th and then escaped to The Professor's brother's lovely home for four days.  Upon arriving back in Ohio, the power had finally been restored.  Yay!  Lovely days of playing Legos with our Big Boy, reading books and perusing maps with him, and taking him to a very large arboretum to run around took up the rest of the visit 'back east'.

Now we are home at Willow's Cottage.  Unsurprisingly, the garden grew.  No one took us up on the offer to eat our ripe cherry tomatoes so we have an abundance.  Inside, the horizontal surfaces gathered dust.  We are back to our summer home routine.  Gardening, reading, biking, a little dusting.  We did have a lovely two day visit with a friend from our days in inner city Los Angeles.  Mostly, we've just hung out.

Saturday was our wedding anniversary.  To celebrate, we took our bikes to Monecito and rode to Santa Barbara and back.  Thirteen and a half miles for me.  Along the Pacific Ocean and through lovely diginified neighborhoods and past the Biltmore Hotel.  A most lovely day.  Even a short stop at Costco didn't dampen our spirits.

What has been going on in my head recently?  If you know me at all, you know that I am passionate about sustainable gardening and healthy eating.  Joel Salatin's book Folks, this ain't normal has been challenging my thinking even more.  I am convinced that Salatin's advice on farming is desperately needed and absolutely right on.  Go read it!  And let me know what you think.  As Salatin says, you don't have to agree, but it's good to learn and understand what other people think.  The book has sparked conversations with The Professor and other close family members.  It has made me look again at my little garden and caused me to try to figure out how to be even more interactive in 'normal gardening and eating'. 

You know, I always have been a bit of a crunchy granola earth mama, and I come by my gardening roots naturally.  Both of my parents come from a long line of farmers.  My dad grew up on a dairy farm.  Of course, he left as soon as he was old enough and took off for Seattle to work in a Boeing plant making airplanes before he joined the US Army Air Force in WWII.  He didn't like milking cows.  And truth be told, he didn't much like being the youngest of three boys and having to do all the grubby jobs and then getting drafted to help in the kitchen.  He did however end up being a rather excellent cook (he made the BEST gravy in the world), and during the time he had a home, he always put in a wonderful vegetable garden.  My mom's family left their Iowa farm in the late 1920s to move to the Pacific Northwest, following the rest of their family who had made that move a few years earlier.  So my mom cut her farm roots and became a city girl.  But my grandma still gardened until she was well into her 80s.  I remember helping with the weeding.  I loved it then, and I still love it.  Wherever I've lived, I've always had a garden.

Oh, another thing Salatin writes about is cooking.  Cooking with real food.  Wow, I loved that chapter!  The Professor and I eat simply.  But our food is real.  Very little processed food makes it in to our house.  All four of my kids knew how to cook when they left home for college.  And all of them still cook regularly.  Even the boys (now men) can bake bread and make pies.  The girls (now women) are elegant and competent cooks and know how to make soup from scratch.  Their attitude is 'doesn't everybody know that?'  Last year, I sent Son #2 out to the garden to pick parsley for soup, and he commented that most of his friends would have no idea what a parsley plant looked like.  Tomatoes grow on plants not in baskets or cans.

And we compost.  I think we're the only people in our neighborhood who own a compost bin.

Last night, The Professor and I sat down and watched a video.  It's called Seeds of Freedom.  Here's the link to the vimeo thirty minute movie:  Go watch it!  And then tell me what you think!

On the fiber front, I've finished a lovely white cotton Liesl sweater.  This is the third sweater I've made with this pattern and I still love it.  Now I'm on to a rather large project which I began last November.  I am knitting Christmas stockings for everyone in the family.  Three are done and I'm working on the fourth sock.  Each one is unique because every person got to choose colors, style and motifs.  I bought Kristin Nicholas's Christmas Stockings pattern.  If you click on the link, scroll down to see the pattern.  Sad;y, the weaving loom languishes.  I think I'm just not a weaver.

I don't think this post is quite a thousand words; more like nine hundred.  But it's close.  However, I hope that you are still reading and still interested.  Now I'm off to read and read more, knit and knit more, and maybe wander back to my garden to pick lettuce for dinner.

What have you all been doing?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bide a Wee

All Saints By the Sea Episcopal Church

This lovely church in Montecito, CA has the most wonderful door surrounded by stone arches.  The wooden plaque above the stone arch invites you to "Bide a Wee and Pray".

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Sans Power

We are on vacation.  The area of the US where we are visiting was hit by a huge windstorm, and we have no power at my daughter's house.  So, what's a girl to do when she needs to charge her cell phone or her laptop?  She finds the local coffee house and plugs in!  Thanks, Caribou Coffee!

This unusual reflection created an artsy view of a pedestrian window in an office building.
Linking to Toby's Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors.