Thursday, May 30, 2013

Willow's Wild Weekend

Well, Willow's Week turned out to be rather more of a week than I expected.  A whirlwind visit by #2 Son the Grad Student. And a more whirly whirlwind trip to San Diego.  And in the midst of all the craziness, there were the many blessings.

1. Spending the few days with The Grad Student before he left to return to Indonesia was a wonderful gift. Also, the email telling us that he had arrived safely in Jakarta made this mama's heart happy.

2. The visit with Youngest Daughter and her sweet family was all the sweeter for being only twenty-four hours.  We didn't go any fun places except the park, but that was enough.  Hanging out at home talking and laughing is best.

3.  Little sweetnesses like this dandelion corsage which Little L picked for me and insisted that I wear tucked in my buttonhole.

4.  Beginning the 'organizing the photos' project.  Yes, I did start!  Hopefully, the small beginning will continue and a large dent will be made in this gigantic project.

5.  Possibly we have solved the deer problem.  A concoction from the big box home store which includes red pepper may be the solution.  Here's hoping.

A couple of bonus photos which I finally moved from my phone after way too long.  Both were snapped across the freeway from my neighborhood.

Sunset over the golf course

Avenue of Poinsettias

So that was Willow's Wild Weekend in Five Simple Statements.  How was yours?  You can link up to Susanne's blog and share your Friday Fave Fives.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Friday Fave Five
Focusing on the small and large blessings of my week.  Ignoring the sad destruction of my little garden by the hungry deer searching for any nourishment in a burned out habitat  (really, deer?  tomato vines??  ALL my snap pea plants???  rose buds??)

1.  It's jacaranda season!  For most of the year, jacaranda trees just stand there and provide shade.  They're nothing special.  But when they bloom?  Oh my!  Purple heaven.

2.  I've been rereading a book which has been on my bookshelf for many years.  Published in 1992, the thoughts in 'Tis a Gift to be Simple by Barbara DeGrote-Sorensen and David Allen Sorensen are completely contemporary with minimalism and voluntary simplicity principles.  Simplicity is not a new idea.  I've been loving this reread.  In fact, I keep writing down quotes and I've not read even a quarter of the book.

"Moving down--beginning the process of living less extravagantly than we once though possible--is called "voluntary simplicity". Voluntary simplicity is a way for us to live asking only our 'fair share' and allowing us to generous with the rest."

Two of ten reasons for choosing a simpler life-style--quoted from Jorgen Lissner.

As an act of faith performed for the sake of personal integrity and as an expression of a personal commitment to a more equitable distribution of the world's resources.
As an act of celebration of the riches found in creativity, spirituality, and community with others, rather than in mindless materialism.

As I read through this book, expect to see more quotes here!

3.  On Sunday I spent all day at Paramount Ranch with other spinners and weavers from our local handweavers and spinners guild.  We demonstrated our arts and enjoyed the festive atmosphere of The Banjo and Fiddle Festival while listening to some awesome music makers.  It's my favorite venue to attend with my spinning wheel.  People are fascinated with our wheels and looms.  (I wish I had photos but since I was sitting and spinning, I didn't take any pictures.  However, if I had a nickel for every picture people took of me, I'd be rich.)

4.  Another book I'm reading is The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge.  I was perusing the library shelves and catalog for more E. Goudge books because I was in the mood for a good dose of solid British culture for which she is famous.  The only book not checked out was The Little White Horse (evidently other people have been struck with the same bug.  Is it a spring thing?) which was listed as being in the children's section.  What a delightful story it is!  Sort of a fairy tale.  Absolutely wonderful as all EG's stories are.

5.  End of Year Luncheon.  Each spring when classes are finished, my boss invites us out for lunch.  It's a fun way to wrap up the school year.  This week we enjoyed lunch at Wood Ranch which is a local bbq restaurant.  Yes, even a vegan can enjoy barbeque--  bbq sauce on a vegan burger.

That basically sums up Willow's Week's Friday Fave Five.  I've linked up as usual to Susanne's blog Living to Tell the Story.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Plea from Willow's Garden

Deer have been in my tiny garden.  They have destroyed my snap peas.  They have trampled on my lettuce.  They have eaten my roses.   They have even consumed top half of my tomato plants.

This is the first year I have had any difficulty keeping my garden secure from the deer which freely roam our neighborhood.  Until this spring, the deer have ignored my garden in favor of more easy pickings.  Really, my garden is no easy to navigate.  It is extremely steep, built in three stair step levels three feet deep and about forty feet long.  The top level is covered in native California flora which it turns out the deer are not eating.  Instead they are hopping down the bank and having at my mandarin orange tree on the middle tier and feasting on the kitchen garden plantings on the first three foot high level even though parts of it are covered with wire netting.

I am seriously sad.  Each spring we plan and plant our square foot beds and lovingly water and weed.  I knew the deer had spotted our garden because last month all the rose buds disappeared one night.  Understandably, things have gotten much worse, nutrition-wise, for the deer since the wild fire swept through the mountains which is their habitat.   I know I should share.  But it's gone too far.  They're taking everything.

What can I do to save the little bit of garden I still have?  Any ideas other than chasing the deer away with a shotgun?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Birds and Bees

I am not the only one who loves the gardens at The Getty Villa.

Lucky things.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

More May Days

Welcome to this Third Friday in May for Friday Fave Five, Willow's Week edition.

1.  Mother's Day!  All my children called me.  It's a tradition since we live far apart.  The one who was home  decided that evening dinner should be eaten 'out'.  Pad Thai.  Yellow curry.  Green curry.  Wanna know why there are no photos?  We ate it all too fast!

2.  The end of the school year!  That's all I need to say.  Think sleeping in.  Leisurely hikes.  Road trips.  For Three months.

3.  It's also a bit bittersweet.  My students make me laugh every time they read their stories in class.  They let me know they appreciate me.  As the wisdom of this proverb inside the wrapper of a Dove dark chocolate candy says--All you really need is love and a little chocolate doesn't hurt.  My students must know this because as thank you gifts they gave me on the last day of class:
          Chocolate topped toffee.
          World's Finest caramel filled chocolate.
          Godiva chocolate morsels.
          Dark chocolate Tahitian vanilla caramels.

4.  They also know I love to garden.  They gave me:
          A five gallon pink hydrangea plant.
          Potted succulents.
          A vase of garden flowers.
          Home Depot gift card.

5.  Since I am a writing teacher, I often receive notes and poems:
          Dear Mrs. Willow,
             Thank you so much for being my writing class teacher.  I learned a lot.  My absolute favorite thing was writing the 'why story'.  I hope that I have become a much better writer.

          Mrs. Willow is super awesome,
          there is no part of her that's dumb.
          She has a great smile,
          that reaches a mile,
          and that is why this note has come:
          (has come, and that is why this note has come!)

          Our year is finally done,
          everybody has had some fun!
          We partied all year,
          and it is so clear,
          you get a thank you from everyone!

For me, it's officially summer.  More knitting soon.  What shall I cast on?  Any suggestions?

NICU hats?

More felted bowls?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Flowers Everywhere

Flowers blooming in the gardens at The Getty Villa, Malibu in May

A little flower love for the week.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

May Flowers

Willow's Week Fave Fives

1. This five minute Ignite Phoenix talk by Joshua Becker about how minimalism has changed his life and enriched his family.  I've heard Joshua speak in person and have read his blog for several years and find his posts always wise, thoughtful, and encouraging.

2.  On Sunday afternoon a friend and I visited five local gardens which were part of the community garden tour. We toured five gardens and discovered elements of each one which we loved.

My kind of back garden--whimsical and practical. 

3.  My favorite architectural style is California Mission and this inner courtyard surrounded on three sides (including a bell tower complete with bell) by the home and the fourth side by a high wall was lovely.

4.  Bright bougainvillea and white roses greet visitors at this home's front entrance.

5.  My photographer's eye invariably zeroes in on the details.

This Sunday is Mother's Day.  I am going to have a special treat.  My world traveling graduate student son will be home!  That's my bonus fave!

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Lessons Derived from a Near Catastrophe

The Springs Fire in Southern California burned much too close for my comfort.  Three Hundred Feet.  The Professor stated, "This is the closest I ever want to be to a major wild fire."  I concur.  After the fire burned and blew through our neighborhood and moved on toward the university where The Professor teaches and then to the Pacific Ocean, I sat and contemplated my reactions and the lessons I learned.  Here are four although I'm sure I will think of many more through the next week.

1. A prosaic day can turn climactic in an instant.  One word from our neighbor changed our direction.  We decided to continue on to our jobs but take what few things we felt we absolutely needed to save in the somewhat unlikely event that the fire would directly affect us.  (This was at 8am before anyone in our neighborhood realized just how fast and furious the fire was moving.)

2. All the planning in the world may not make a difference in what I choose to take with me.  I have an emergency list.  I totally forgot to refer to it.  Truthfully, we felt there wasn't time to spend on packing the cars, not because we needed to leave immediately due to fire danger (as did our friends who live in University Glen), but because we were taking simple precautions for our peace of mind before leaving for our respective jobs.  We packed our fire proof security box, genealogical information, photos, our laptops, external hard drive, camera, and various cables.  As I was driving away from the fire up the freeway, I realized that I had left the camera cord, check book, current bills, some cash and my favorite jeans (in fact, we took no clothing at all).  For the future, I need a better plan.

3. The stuff we left really didn't matter.  We have each other.  That's enough.  However, I've been thinking about our stuff.  Among my friends, I am known as the simplicity girl.  They know I maintain a simple house and don't shop for fun.  Perhaps other people wouldn't notice, but over the past few months things have crept in to my house, but other objects have not marched out, so the net number of possessions has increased.  This is not because I am going out on buying binges; it's just inattention to what's happening.  I need to pay more attention and be more pro-active in this area.  If that stuff doesn't matter, it shouldn't be taking up space in my house.

4. I've been feeling overwhelmed with a few areas around the house.  Mostly, I just don't want to deal with the huge task of organizing, filing, and scanning the photos which have collected here.  Somehow, I became the 'guardian' of many of the family photos from more than 100 years ago.  I want to share them with my family.  But there are so many I don't know how to approach the problem.  Also, I have those file folders full of background information about our families.  Truly, I'm interested in putting that genealogical information into a single readable document, but it's going to take a major block of time to accomplish that task.  Finally, I have planned for a long time to prepare a detailed personal property list for insurance purposes.  Fortunately, I didn't need to use it last week.  It's time to get over feeling overwhelmed and just do these jobs.

Hopefully, I won't have to face this problem of evacuation and possibly losing my home to a natural disaster again for a few years unless of course there's an earthquake.  (We are actually more prepared for an earthquake and staying in our house without services than we are for evacuation.)  This has been a wake up slap to get my house in order.  It was a hard lesson that ended well.

Did you notice that I didn't even think about my yarn and knitting needles?  I know those can be easily replaced.  However, how would I have been able to survive those days and nights without something to keep my fingers busy??

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Bullet Dodging

I had some ideas for posting my Fave Fives this week.  I'd sort of been thinking through my little moments from the week.  But. Then. It. Happened.  This. Morning.

Unless you have been living under a rock today in the US and possibly other places around the world, you will have been informed by various news stations that there is a wild fire raging in Southern California.  In my backyard.  Literally.

At 8 am, our next door neighbor yelled my husband's name and informed him that there was a fire burning between us and the 101 freeway (that's a distance of less than 1/4 mile).  As she is quite elderly, her daughter had called and insisted that she put her valuables in her car and leave home immediately.  We could see and smell the smoke when we opened our front door.  Since we were on our way out to work, we stopped for an extra five minutes and threw a few papers, photos and files into our cars and left to teach our Thursday classes.

As I drove up the on ramp onto the freeway, I pulled over and snapped this photo at about 8:15am.

I am grateful for so many things this evening.

1.  No homes in our neighborhood burned. The fire came within 300 feet of our house.  Yes, really.  I walked up the hill less than two blocks and photographed the burned areas.

2.  The Professor texted me to tell me that he had been evacuated from the university.  The announcement came as he was teaching his 10 o'clock class.  He didn't realize how close the fire was to the campus until he had left and was driving away.  I am thankful he is safe and the university did not sustain any damage.

3.  So many people called, emailed and texted to offer a place to stay if we were still on evacuation status.  I am so grateful and thankful for thoughtful friends.

4.  One friend texted me updates throughout the morning while I was teaching to let me know the status and direction of the fire.  There was nothing I could do even if my house did burn, but it was a comfort to KNOW.

5.  That comfort.  Knowing that God was still in control of everything.

As The Professor stated, "We really dodged a bullet this time."

Update:  The area where I hiked last week has burned.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Spring Moves Along

Camellia season is over

as you can see by all the dead blooms which litter the ground beneath the camellia bushes. 

But jasmine season has started!
The month we bought this house in 2007, the three towering jasmine bushes were throwing out their heady fragrance all around.

I'm sure that spring is here to stay when I smell the jasmine.