Thursday, November 29, 2012

Five Times Twenty-nine

Five Times Twenty-nine equals Friday Fave Five.  On this 29th day of November, I am continuing to post my list of gratitude and thankfulness for Thanksgiving Month.

1. I am near the end of my research for a solution to the No Photos Allowed Debaucle.  Thanks to friends who have given advice when I've asked, I may be Back In Photo Business soon.

2. Gifted.  A friend knew I was looking for a side table that matched my living room decor.  She is stream-lining her furniture and offered me a sleek teak table that's exactly the right height.  It's perfect.

3. This week I have overcome one of my irrational dislikes.  Normally, I won't walk in the rain.  I'm not a rain person because I dislike getting soaked and cold.  Southern California rain storms can drench you to the bone through several layers of clothing in five minutes or less.  This week's rain has been more mild and gentle.  I ventured out twice to walk my neighborhood. In. The. Rain.

4. It's the week after Thanksgiving.  You know what that means!  Christmas music!  (and The Professor says to add Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee)

5. Starbucks Peppermint Mocha.  With Soy.  No whip.

Thanks to Susanne for hosting Friday Fave Five every week, every month, not just in November.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


This evening I am thankful for the rain that has fallen today.  I can't believe I wrote that considering I moved from a very rainy Pacific Northwest climate to mediterranean Southern California on purpose.  I'm not a rain fan.  But today was magical in a damp sort of way.

After teaching, I changed into walking shoes, athletic style pants and a rain resistant windbreaker and walked the paths of the local golf course.  Since it was nearly dark, the course was mostly deserted although I did notice four crazy people hitting wet golf balls on the greens.  Walking (and singing) in the rain is a wondrous thing.  Today's rain wasn't the usual torrents and lashings Southern California normally receives during rain storms.  It was the gentle, misty, Pacific Northwest type of precipitation.  It made me nostalgic.  A little.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

#26 and #27

#26.  Thankful for my two day teaching week.  That  means I can manage my own time the other three days.
#27.  Thankful for the internet.   I needed a pattern for making crocheted flowers.  Google 'crochet flowers pattern' and presto!  I have a myriad of options.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


I never said I would be able to keep up the daily pace.  I said I'd try.  Obviously, interstate travel and daily blogging don't mix.  So I grant myself grace to play catch up on writing down my blessings.

#23  Extended family, those people who are related by marriage, bring joy and laughter.  I'm thankful that my children married in to happy families.

#24  A safe trip from Phoenix to home.  While there are always a few crazy drivers out there on the highways, people just want to travel from point A to point B safely.  Stay in your own lane.  Don't block traffic.  Don't speed.  I'm thankful that we arrived home in a record seven hours.

#25  I love walking in to my little cottage after traveling.  Although I'm somewhat of a vagabond at heart, I love coming home.  I need that grounding of 'a place of my own'.  Sunday afternoons spent sitting with a cup of Earl Grey tea, a knitting project, a book, or a good movie is always a joy.  Surrounded by the natural beauty of my neighborhood, I love tidying the garden, too.

I recognize that God's grace abounds in His care of my basic needs--food, water, and these days after traveling, the shelter of my home.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


One week can include many contrasts.  Willow's Week certainly did.  I'm thankful for the contrasts in my week because they keep my week interesting.  In noting the contrasts, I can also see the blessings which I share as Friday Fave Fives.

1. A visit to California Science Center near downtown Los Angeles contained the longest chronological contrast.  The Cleopatra Exhibit focused on the time period of the Century before Christ's birth.

2. On the same visit to CSC, I got up close and personal with the Endeavor Space Shuttle. That's Twenty-first Century.

3-4. Contrasts exist in geology and geography, too.  This week I experienced the view from 6400 feet with a 360 degree panorama of the Mogollon Rim in Arizona with its unending pine forests and also the low, hot desert of Palm Springs with the in between of saguarro cactus, manzanitas, and yellow sand.  We are spending Thanksgiving weekend in Arizona.  My cousin lives in the mountains north of Phoenix (that's where we found the more-than-a-mile-high views) and our son and daughter-in-law live in Phoenix.  Both areas are definitely contrasts, although beautiful and enchanting, to my coastal climate along the Pacific Ocean.

5. It may be Thanksgiving but I'm knitting for Christmas.  Right now, it's Christmas stockings for each member of the family.  Currently, I'm working on stocking #7.  (Will I finish by Christmas Morning??)

*I am again experiencing the very annoying difficulty of being unable to post any photos.  Much of the enjoyment I derive from blogging comes from sharing my photos, so I am seriously disappointed.*

Linking to Friday Fave Five at Susanne's blog here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Thankful for so much!
For a safe trip from home to Northern and Central Arizona.
For a beloved cousin who waited up for us to arrive at 11pm.
For her husband who gave us the Payson and environs grand tour.
For my husband who is my BFF.

The above list merely glosses over the events of the past two days. (Photos later after they are uploaded to the laptop)

I am also thankful that friends included me in their excursion to California Science Center in Los Angeles to view the Cleopatra exhibit and see the Endeavor shuttle in its new hangar.
Instant internet on my phone enables to me keep in constant contact with daughters and sons.
That same cyber access gave us clear directions through the mountains in the dark at 11pm.

I'm thankful for a warm and safe home.
I'm thankful for clean water and indoor plumbing.
I'm thankful for a washing machine and the electricity to run it.
I'm thankful that I am fortunate to live in a pleasant neighborhood.

I could go on and on and on.  So much to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Favorite Books For Kids

Because of a conversation I had this week with my lovely and brilliant TA, I have been thinking about my favorite children's books.  She was singing the praises of The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli which she had just finished reading aloud to her younger sister.  Of course, I chimed in with the information that the book is one of my ALL TIME FAVES of children's literature.

I have a goal to own and read all of the Newbery Award Books.  The award is given yearly to the 'best' children's literature book published that year.  A complete list of the Award Books and the Honor Books from 1922 to present can be found HERE.  I'm close to reaching my goal needing only twelve books to complete my set.  Regularly, I will pull a volume from the bookshelf and read it although there are some books which I reread.  Of course, everyone has her favorites.

And so I present to you a list of recommended kids' lit books, just in case you are thinking of purchasing books for a young person for Christmas or you are looking for excellent reading for yourself.  These books include but are not limited to my favorites, for how can I choose THE BEST?

Some of Willow's favorite Newbery Award Winners
From oldest to newest:

1929.  The Trumpeter of Krakow, Eric P. Kelly

1933.  Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze, Elizabeth Lewis

1950.  The Door in the Wall, Marguerite de Angeli

1961.  Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell

1972.  Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Robert C. O'Brien

The Newbery Awards also include Newbery Honor Books, books chosen as 'also rans'.  Some years, I have preferred the Honor Books to the story chosen for the Award.  But that's just my personal preference.

Some fantastic Honor Books,
From newest to oldest:

1983.  Homesick: My Own Story, Jean Fritz

1982.  Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Beverly Cleary

1980.  The Road from Home: The Story of an Armenian Girl, David Kherdian

1965.  Across Five Aprils, Irene Hunt

1958.  Gone-Away Lake, Elizabeth Enright

Another eight Newbery Honors books, because, you know, you just can't choose five:

1949.  My Father's Dragon, Ruth S. Gannett

1947.  The Avion My Uncle Flew, Cyrus Fisher, pseud. (Darwin L. Teilhet)

1944.  These Happy Golden Years, Laura Ingalls Wilder

1941.  Blue Willow, Doris Gates

1941.  The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder

1940.  By the Shores of Silver Lake, Laura Ingalls Wilder

1938.  On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura Ingalls Wilder

1922.  The Golden Fleece and The Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles, Padraic Colum

Did you notice that FOUR of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books won Honors but never won an Award?  Who doesn't know and love her tales of settling the West?

Are you familiar with any of these children's books?  Which ones would you recommend to give as gifts this Christmas?  I am linking this to Susanne's Friday Fave Five although I just couldn't limit myself to five.

Also, this is my #15 post of Thankfulness:  I'm thankful for the abundance of great children's literature available for adults' and children's reading pleasure.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

#14 Legacy

My paternal grandmother taught me to knit.  I am thankful for that day when she noted that I was bored (and about to get into trouble) and so directed my interest to yarn and needles.

Thanks, Grandma, for giving me the gift of creating garments, blankets and bunnies out of nothing but fiber, sticks and imagination.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

#13 Quail, Fresh not Roasted.

As seen rather cloudily through my side window.

Quail live in our neighborhood.  They consider my garden their personal breakfast nook, lunch box and dinner table reservation. 

 They provide daily opportunities to enjoy local wildlife.  I watch for them as I walk down the street. 

Yes, they do fly into trees, sit on roofs and make sure that one guard quail is always on duty to spot and warn the others of dangerous ladies carrying cameras.

 I listen for their calls.  I delight in their hilarious running gait.
Thankful for being able to share my little spot on earth with cute coveys of quail.

Monday, November 12, 2012

#12 Mondays

I love Mondays. Because I spend most of the day correcting papers at home, my time is flexible.  I'm thankful I have been able to arrange my schedule so my Mondays are (almost) my own.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


On Veteran's Day, I must share two things for which I'm thankful.

I'm thankful for the men and women who we remember this day, those Americans who have served in the US military.  Specifically, I think of those close to me, my husband who is a Vietnam vet, my son who is an Army chaplain currently deployed, my USMC son-in-law (semper fi!), my dad, father-in-law, and uncles who all served during World War II.  THANK YOU!

Also, today is the sixth anniversary of my son and daughter-in-law.  Although they are not together on this day, I know that they share a strong commitment to their marriage and always treasure the days they do have to spend together. I'm thankful they found each other.  If you want to read a blog post I wrote more than six years ago, click here.  HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


It's usually the little things in life that I enjoy most.
Today it was the 45 minutes we spent together reading and drinking our coffee at a local coffee spot.  Relaxing is an activity we don't participate in often enough.
Less than an hour was spent, but it invigorated me for the rest of the day.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Five for #8 and #9

During November, I like to post daily to document my thankfulness.  It's not that I am not thankful every day, but Thanksgiving Month offers the opportunity to focus on gratitude.  Of course, with Susanne's Friday Fave Five, we do that weekly.  And so here are my five faves for the week and also my additions for November eight and nine.

1.  I am thankful for this young woman!  For the second year, she is my TA, and this year I have the privilege of training her in all the whos, whens and whys of teaching IEW composition classes.  She is a joy.   She's so smart.  She's also hilarious.  I may be teaching her, but she's educating me about Steampunk, Slender Man, and graphic comics.

2.  Rain in Southern California.  It rained on Thursday and more rain is forecast for Friday and Saturday.  However, even in the rain, the beach is beautiful.

3.  Again this semester, the Professor was lighting director for the play produced by the performing arts department at the university.  Unlike other times, he did not have to be there for all six performances because he has been training students to run the lighting boards.  We attended the play on closing night, and the cast gifted him with accolades, applause and flowers.

4.  Fresh fruit and fresh vegetables from our farmers market.  I could list this as a fave every week.  Cucumbers, romaine lettuce, apples, potatoes, broccoli--all grown locally.

5.  Chocolate.  After a long day.  Just one piece.  Gotta say, I needed it like our parched earth needed the rain.

Your turn.  What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Today I am thankful that I took a walk in my neighborhood with a friend.  I miss having a walking buddy (you know who you are!) and it was wonderful to walk, talk and pray together.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


I'm thankful that I am a citizen of a country which doesn't decide its election results with guns, grenades and guerillas.

Monday, November 05, 2012


Having a good hair stylist is important.  Because I have moved more than my share of times, I have spent a lot of time dealing with the 'new kid on the block' issues.  When you move to a new neighborhood or city, you need to find the best place to shop for groceries, the cheapest gas, the best doctor, the best dentist, the best optometrist, the closest coffee.  It is also important to find the best barber and hair stylist.  Usually the most reliable way to find these people and places is to ask neighbors and friends who have lived in the area for a long time. I'm thankful for the hair stylist my friend recommended to me.  Never under estimate or under appreciate a good hair stylist!

Sunday, November 04, 2012


Today I'm thankful for faithful friends.  My long time friend is also 'my boss'.  I'm thankful she asked me to work for and with her.  She has taught me SO.MUCH. about writing, teaching and passion for changing the world.

Saturday, November 03, 2012


My husband's sister lives in the same town with us, just three miles away.  While we used to see each other almost every day because we worked at the same school, now we sometimes don't meet more than twice a month.  Today we drove together to Orange County to babysit my two little ones while their mommy and daddy were attending a foster parenting seminar.

My husband's sister is a funny woman.  On the way home, I called The Professor for a traffic update.  Knowing I would need the information, he was prepared and instructed me to change my route to avoid a traffic jam.  Sister in law's comment:  "Having been warned by John in a dream, we returned home another way."

Thankful for family and funny commentary!

Friday, November 02, 2012


I found so many blessings today.  It is hard to choose 'just one'.

This evening, I am thankful for long time friends, those friends who have known you so long and so well that you don't have to explain anything, those friends who love you anyway.  Today I enjoyed an 'invigorating' (read: challenging) walk in a very hilly area of my town with my friend and then relaxed with a wonderful cup of coffee over which we chatted and laughed.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Little Things

Some weeks it's the little things which make me grateful.  And this month of November is the month of Thankfulness.
Susanne at Living to Tell the Story encourages us to focus on being thankful, every month, every week.

1.  Yes I did spend four days and nights in San Diego with my daughter and her family.  I drove to school, doctor, hospital, pharmacy, church, and store.  I'm thankful I was available to help.

2.  Riding Amtrak to and from was a wise decision as well as beautiful.  On the trip home, the train was not crowded, and I never had to share my seat.

San Clemente Beach at (almost) sunset.

Sunset in Irvine

3.  On Saturday, the fruit people at the farmers market gifted us with yet more bruised apples which we The Professor turned in to yet more dried apple slices. Mmmmmm!

4.  Fortunately, the hot Santa Ana winds we were experiencing last week did not persist.  Our weather has cooled down some, and that has encouraged my garden herbs to make a resurgence.  My opinion is you can't have too much parsley.

5.  It's truly Christmas season now.
Here is proof positive.

It's also Thanksgiving season.  During November many people post daily one thing for which they are thankful.  I am planning to do it.  No promises.

November 1st:  I am thankful that I could talk with my Ohio grandson, New Boy, today.  The first thing he said was, "I want to come to your house tomorrow, Meema."