Saturday, December 27, 2014


I don't make New Years Resolutions.  It seems to me that resolutions fail epically in encouraging people to make positive changes in daily activities. Usually, one makes a resolution but doesn't have the plan in place to make that resolution last and so the momentum lasts only a few days or weeks at the most.  I prefer 'hopes and goals'. Some years at the end of December or early January, I have chosen a word that I think will identify what 'hopes and goals' I want to focus on during the coming year.  In 2011, I wrote a blog post about my word of the year which was Simplify.  Evidently, in 2012, I didn't write about that year's word because I have no post in my archives.  My word in 2013 was Save.  I seem to have skipped 2014, too.  In keeping with the trend of choosing a word every other year, I am focusing on LIVE in 2015.

This coming year I want to:

Live simply.  Continue to reduce the clutter and excess possessions in my life.  I don't plan to get rid of everything but 100 items and throw away things I use on a regular basis.  But I will keep what is useful, beautiful and has a happy memory which makes me smile.

Live healthfully.  I am making a commitment to exercise more consistently--three times a week for a half hour.  That doesn't include the nearly daily three mile walks I take.  We are still working on the details of this one.  Should we join a gym?  How about buying the equipment we would need and doing it on our own?  Healthy living also involves healthy eating.  We mostly have this part covered as I eat a whole foods plant based diet and The Professor adds in some cheese and meat.

Live mindfully.  This one could cover so much.  Here I am focusing on limiting my schedule to allow time for rest and relaxation.  I want to choose activities which add value to my life, my family's lives, and which are in line with my life values.

Live devoutly.  I want to focus more of my hours on prayer, Bible study and meditation.

Live thankfully.  Being thankful and grateful means not complaining or comparing.  Many people write a daily diary stating three things they are grateful for.  I'm not sure I have the discipline to write a quotidian journal, but I want to think thankfully on a minute by minute, hour by hour basis.

These 'hopes and goals' for 2015 which are embodied in the word Live are not new to me or unusual for how I have lived my life for years and decades.  They simply have a slightly different emphasis in the details for this year.

Have you made resolutions, written a list of hopes and goals, or chosen a focus word for 2015?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day

I like the fact that Christmas Day leads right in to Friday Fave Fives this year.  Yes, I realize that I was awol last week.  Everything was just too much.  We were exhausted from moving back in to our house.  The Professor was finishing up his semester grades.  We had no internet.  This week we still have no internet but Son #2 and The Professor showed me how to tether my phone to my computer. Wah lah!  Internet!

So here are my Friday Fave Fives for the two weeks.

1.  Obviously, we are happy to be settling back in to our home after all the changes and renovations.  The best part is unpacking and having everything available again.  All our clothes are in their proper drawers.  My yarn is collected in the same spot as my needles.

2.  Son #1, his wife and our PAL came for a whirlwind three day visit.  They shared our first night of sleeping here again.  Would you believe I took NO photos??  I wasn't even sure where my camera was at the time.  I know. I know.  Epic grandmother fail.  Our little one is growing and is two months old.  She coos.  She smiles.  She's adorable.

3.  In our family, we don't load up on Christmas gifts.  Our tradition among the adults is to draw names and buy one special gift for one person.  My daughter in law received my name this year.  I have to say she is the BEST gift giver.  Knowing I love children's books and collect Newbery Award Books, she bought me several of the volumes I didn't own yet.  Now my collection is nearly complete.  I am missing only 1989's winner and the two most recent award books.  The best part?  I have books on the shelves waiting for winter reading!

4.  Our nephew and family were in the area for a family gathering and we caught up with them on Sunday for lunch after church.  They too have a new little girl, only a month old.  They stopped by the house to pick up a little knitted gift for her; her big four year old brother played Legos, and we chatted for a bit before they left for their across Los Angeles County drive home.  A pleasant time was had by all.

5.  Our streets are mostly clear of mud now from the mudslides in our neighborhood.  One morning a three man crew from our church arrived with shovels in hand to help us scoop mud from the front street gutters which were still filled and blocking any rain/water run off from flowing to the drains.  They cleared the areas in front of two of our neighbors too who could not get out to do the work themselves.  We were certainly thankful and grateful for the help of those strong young men.  And we continue to be thankful for how small our damage was compared to the people who live just 1/2 mile from us.

I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas week.  May your last week of 2014 be filled with joy, peace, simple pleasures and many finished knitting projects.

Friday, December 12, 2014

December Faves, Take Two

I love Christmas, but it is also a stressful time.  This month it is more important than ever to focus on for what I am thankful.  Thanksgiving may be so-last-month, but giving thanks is always a current event.  Susanne's Friday Fave Fives is a great venue for doing that.  As I stare at mud everywhere on my street and in my neighborhood, I have been reminding myself of this quote I read last week (my paraphrase):  Be thankful for the many things that are right, and don't focus on the few things that aren't.)  Yes, my neighborhood is a mess.  But we are safe.  If you google mudslide, Camarillo Springs, California, you can read more about it.

1.  Strong and willing helpers were definitely a fave this week.  We had to move our piano.  Although it is a smaller upright spinnet, The Professor and I can not move it ourselves without help.  We asked around and could find only one young big strong guy to help us (huge shout out to Jason who is awesome!).  Then our dental assistant replied to our comment that we were stressed about moving the piano--as she was cleaning our teeth---her husband is big and strong and willing to help. And they brought another strong and big guy with them.  So we the guys got that thing moved right in up the five steps and into place in its new home.  They also moved all the book boxes (they asked, HOW MANY boxes of books do you have???) and the book shelves in less than a half hour total.  What a blessing it was for us to have found willing and strong helpers.

2.  As of Thursday afternoon I am on Christmas Break!  No more explanation necessary.

3.  Oh, those students of mine--they are hilarious and adorable.  One set of classes wrote poems and made cards.  One girl wrote a cinquain poem:

Ms. (my last name)
You're very nice.
I think that you should know
that I love you. Have a Merry

4.  This hawk has been hanging around.  The little wrens and finches aren't thrilled, but I think he's quite handsome.

5.  Blogger got hacked this week.  Did anyone else have a problem?  My blog spent about a day redirecting to some ad site.  The Professor did some research and found out where that issue was and knew google was working on the problem.  I'm thankful it's fixed and I can just let someone else do the fixing.

Have a happy weekend!  Hug the people you love, and be gracious to the people who are grumpy.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

December Faves, Take One

Hmmm, it is Friday and I am a bit stumped.  I'm not going to lie or pretend.  This has been a crazy and challenging week.  Therefore I am searching my memories of the past seven days to find the little blessings to share with you in Friday Fave Fives.

1.  Oh yeah.  Saturday!  We took a hike!    I love this hiking trail.  It's easy.  It's level.  It's gorgeous.

2.  After hiking, we stopped by S*bucks and I ordered a soy hot chocolate.    Yum!

3.  Rain!  About 1.5 inches.  Any amount helps us fight the drought.  And sometimes rain comes with rainbows.

4.  And no mudslides.  Following the disaster from Halloween night where our neighborhood was inundated with mud in the first rain storm of the season, our local fire department and disaster relief teams gathered in the parking lot of the golf course and evacuated people from 75 homes.  But fortunately, although there was A LOT of water running down the streets and through our gardens, there were no mudslides and no more homes destroyed.  [If you want to know more details, google Camarillo Springs mudslide or just click here.]

5.  An email from Son #1 that stated "We checked our schedule.  We can come for a visit December 16-19."  'We' means Son #1, his beautiful wife and our newest grand girl!  Can't wait!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Crochet, too

Sometimes it is a good thing to switch from always knitting.  Crocheted granny squares are simple to create and singularly adorable when they're finished.
Best relaxation therapy ever:  Our PAL's new blanket for her crib.

Granny Squares Crib Blanket
Crochet hook #G
Cotton Classic Yarn, 100% mercerized cotton
70 squares, all different combinations of five colors (red, light green, dark green, blue, yellow),
edged in light cream

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Thanksgiving

Perfect Timing = Thanksgiving Day  +  Friday Fave Fives.  Thanks to Susanne for leading the Fave Fives each week.

1.  I am so very thankful for my family!  We skyped with both daughters and their families and Son #1 and his family.

2.  Son #2 and a friend were here in person.  They helped cook and did the dishes after dinner.

3.  The Professor's sister and her #2 Son were with us, too.

4.  Son #2's other friend and his dad spontaneously accepted our invitation to join us at our Thanksgiving table.  There is never any shortage of conversation with these friends.

5.  Son #2's friend's little sister stopped by in the evening and we just picked up a chat about knitting and kids books.  So much fun!

I do love Thanksgiving!  Family, Friends, Fun!
How was your week?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Week Begins

We are entering Thanksgiving Week.  One week from today, Americans will be recovering from a huge feast, still sleepy from all that tryptophan consumed in the form of roast turkey, satiated with an overdose of sugar and fat bombs, also called desserts, pies or cookies.  But that's not the real reason for Thanksgiving.  In 1789, the first US President, George Washington, proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November to be a National Day of Thanksgiving.  Usually, we think of this day as a Family Celebration Day.  I like to think of Thanksgiving as a season to focus on the abundant blessings I have.  Of course, I do this weekly here at Willow's Cottage with others via Susanne's Friday Fave Fives at Living to Tell the Story, but in November it's a bigger deal.

As I concentrate on my week's blessings, I keep being reminded of my Fave Five from a few weeks ago when I focused on the basics.  I just have to do that again.

1.  Abundance of Nourishing Food.

2.  Warm clothes.  This includes shoes and socks, slacks, sweaters, shirts, jackets and gloves.  I love my gloves.  Because my hands are unusually sensitive to cold, I wear those gloves in the mornings as I drive to work.  Even when it's only 50F, I'm wearing those gloves.

3.  Shelter.  One of the paragraphs I model for my students during Thanksgiving week is my appreciation of safe and secure shelter.  I've lived in many types of homes from vacation tents and bush houses constructed from native materials to large four bedroom homes.  I cannot count all the places I've called 'home'--just too many.  Basic shelter is truly a blessing.

4.  Clean Water.  I don't have to boil it before I drink it.  I turn this little knob  at the end of pipe and presto! the water flows out and into my pan or cup.

5.  Transportation.  I have a great, economical car which is in good repair.  And money enough to buy gas.

As of today, I am on Thanksgiving Break!  It looks like our housing situation is going to return to normal within the next week.  I am looking forward to reduction of  the stress--oh how I am looking forward to that!  (I may even pull my camera back out again.)

SO MUCH to be thankful for!  If you leave a comment here, I hope you will share ONE thing for which you are thankful.  I will rejoice with you!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Where Have I Been?

Absent With Leave.  That's what I was last week.  I was given an opportunity to travel.    I flew to the rescue of my grandson who needed a nanny for a few days while his mama was busy in meetings for work.   Who wouldn't happily take that option?  I had a few weeks' notice, so I arranged my schedule.

Here's how it all played out with wonderful blessings along the way.  I'm linking this to Susanne's Living to Tell the Story Friday Fave Fives.

1.  A great substitute teacher.  It's not easy to get a sub for my job.  You have to have had training as an IEW teacher.  Last summer I spent a few days working and helping to train four women who are now teaching the curriculum alongside my boss and me.  Finally--I can confidently take a week away from classes and know my students will smoothly move on through the program.

2.  Time with that New Boy who has grown up so much.  In the mornings, I monitored his schoolwork.  Easy peasy.  He just sat down and did it.

It turns out that the heated swimming pool was the best attraction of the days we were in a city in the northern climes (read:  colder than California!)  It was beautiful, though.

On the last day, we finally persuaded him that a trip to the park would be OK.

3.  One of the best parts of the trip was meeting many of my daughter's colleagues who obviously respect her abilities and expertise in her field of work.  Of course it was fun to listen to the interaction of the brainiacs around the dining table.  I am incredibly proud of this amazing woman--my daughter!

4.  To sweeten the deal, my daughter added three days in Phoenix with our new little PAL to the offer!

The cousins meet for the first time.

New Boy definitely had fun with his uncle!  Who had the most fun??

5.  The Professor had a hand surgery already scheduled for the time while I was gone.  Although it was a simple surgical procedure, he needed 'supervision' for a day.  Son #2 to the rescue!  How I appreciate my son who just rearranged his grad school academic schedule and came from the San Francisco Bay area to hang out with his dad for three days, drive him around, and watch football with him.

So that was my little adventure to Utah and Arizona.  Now it's back to the routine.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Travel Light

Last week I spent three nights in Utah and three night in Arizona.  Because I flew, I decided as usual to travel with only carry-on luggage.  For me, it's a fun challenge to work out a system where I can carry everything I need in one nineteen inch rolling suitcase and one computer bag.  People often ask how I can travel without checking a bag, so I thought I'd write a bit about how I pack.  My basic reminder of what to pack is advice from Rick Steves:  if you're not going to wear it three times, don't take it.

Layering was the most important part of my wardrobe planning because I was going to be in two very different climates.  I took a navy fleece jacket and a black fleece vest.  I also threw in a red hoodie which it turned out I only wore once.  My reasoning for taking it was two-fold.  It was a possible gift for my grandson, but it didn't fit him.  And if it was really really cold in Utah, I would have a third layer to keep me warm.  Accessories included a light turquoise cowl, a long turquoise silk scarf, a dark teal pashmina shawl (for the plane), a thin black fleece cap and a pair of black gloves.  I wore everything except the hat.

Here is a list of the other clothes.  I needed enough for the whole seven days I was gone because I didn't want to do any laundry.
2 pair of black slacks (probably could have limited myself to 1 pair)
1 pair jeans
1 short sleeved t-shirt (dark grey for casual times in Arizona)
2 long sleeved t-shirts (1 white, 1 light aqua)
3 light weight sweaters (lavender with white and black argyle, purple also with argyle, aqua with cables)
2 white camisoles (to wear under the sweaters)
1 white sleeveless top (for Arizona)
1 3/4 length sleeve white cardigan (again, for Arizona)
small purse to use while not in transit

I took 2 pairs of shoes, but it turns out I only wore the slip on flats a couple of times.  I could have taken only the other pair of black tie shoes and been fine.  Add 4 pairs black socks.

Because everything was color coordinated to match the black slacks or jeans, it was easy to layer the black vest with a long sleeved shirt, add a cowl or scarf and be toasty warm and still look dressy casual.

The hardest part of carrying those layers was packing up the two fleece pieces in the suitcase on the last leg of the journey from Arizona back to Los Angeles.  It was just too warm to wear them, so I stuffed them in the suitcase.

The other trick to not checking a bag is to have only small amounts of liquid items.  Through the years, I've collected little bottles to use for air travel.  Lotion, make up remover, mouthwash and shampoo all go in travel size bottles.  Often I wrap them in their own sandwich baggies and then put them in the quart sized bag.  When I'm in transit, I keep the baggie in my computer bag for easier access.  Soap, toothpaste and non liquid make up go in a separate bag with cotton balls and q-tips.

Clothes and personal items have become easy for me to downsize and limit myself during a trip.  Where I still struggle is in taking too many books and too many knitting projects!  Why am I always so optimistic about how many books I will read and how many hats or scarves I'll knit?  I thought I had done well to choose 'only' three books and three projects!  I did read two of the books and I would have finished all the knitting projects except I ended up BUYING two skeins of yarn to make a hat for grandson's friend.  It was one of those balls of yarn that fell out of my computer bag in the security line and made a run down the aisle.

When you travel, do you check a bag?  Do you take only carry-on bags?  What's your best tip for easy travel?

Friday, October 31, 2014

A List of Little Loves

In the midst of another whirlwind week, I am pausing to give thanks for the little blessings.  Friday Fave Fives with Susanne, as usual.

1.  Happiness is sitting quietly watching the glowing pink and turquoise sunset.

2.  Happiness is also sitting quietly with a morning cup of warm coffee and watching the sunrise.

3.  Happiness is rain in the weekend weather forecast.  Here's hoping!  (I NEVER thought I'd EVER write that!)

4.  Happiness is proficient and careful workers: dry waller, plumber, electrician, cement pourer and brick layer.

5.  Happiness is anticipation of a week to spend with my grandson The New Boy.

A bit of knitting therapy.  Gryffindor House scarf.

And tea with a friend.

Happy Weekend.  I hope you can find a list of little loves, too.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Unlnteresting Can Be Good

Hello, it's Friday Fave Five time.  Lately, I've been so overwhelmed with life and responsibilities that I have hardly had time to write here at Willow's Cottage more than once a week.  Hopefully, soon, I'll be back on track.  But I am committed to focusing on Fridays and being thankful for the blessings from the week.  Thanks, Susanne, for leading Friday Fave Fives.

1.  I can tell it's autumn.  It's a little tiny bit cooler at night.  There have been a few foggy mornings. No leaves are shimmering gold or glowing burnt orange.  This is as autumnal as it gets here.  Yeah, it's not much...but it's a sign.  What a re-leaf.

2.  I am enjoying the birds which gather at my neighbor's bird bath daily.  Although I have no idea what kind of birds are playing there, I am amused by them.

3.  I do love my job.  Teaching late elementary school students means I get the best of all worlds.  They're still children.  But they're old enough to interact and contribute to discussions.  Why is it that the GIRLS write stories with sad and brutal endings more often than BOYS do?

4.  Last weekend we were in the land of dry deserts and palo verde trees and saguaro cacti.  The more than fourteen hours in the car was a small price to pay to see our new grandgirl.  Her parents asked me to bring the baby sling/wrap I used to carry my babies, but it is temporarily packed up with the rest of our belongings, so I made a new one.  Gotta love facebook!  I put out a request to my Papua friends to measure the dimensions for an Indonesian selendang, and within just a few minutes, I had the information I needed.  A quick trip to the fabric store for batik material and a spool of thread, an even quicker cut and sew session, and we had a perfect fit.

5.  My husband knows me so well. I asked him if he had a suggestion for a fave.  His immediate thought was, "Sharky's burritos".  Oh yeah!  We do love Sharky's!  I dropped by this afternoon and picked up two burritos to go for dinner--they're generous enough that they fill us up for two meals.  Sharky's = nom noms.

My week wasn't exciting, but it was one of those quiet work-a-day weeks which most often fill our months and years.  And that's ok.  I've been blessed with an uninteresting week.

Friday, October 17, 2014


I have the best reason in the world for showing up late for Friday Fave Fives.  How could I say anything about my week without making THIS my best, first fave?

Introducing my new little PAL.
Born on Monday evening.

We drove out to Phoenix Thursday afternoon and immediately ran upstairs to see her and hold her.  Oh, she is adorable!  Everything else about our week dims into insignificance.

However, in accordance with finding five faves in my week, I will add four more...

2.  Music.  On my way to work, I get a little bored in the car.  My brain tends to subconsciously move to singing.  I never know what song is going to pop up.  This week it was How Great Thou Art.  I felt like I was channeling George Beverly Shea.  Surprised that I remembered all the words to at least two verses, I sang all the way to work.

3.  More songs.  Saturday and Sunday, I spent many hours demonstrating my spinning craft at Reyes Adobe Days in Agoura Hills. Across the courtyard under the grape vines, the fiddler was singing and fiddling.  One favorite of the audiences gathered around was The Streets of Laredo.  Okay, I used to sing that song when I was a kid.  But I just realized that I originally learned the lyrics from The Smothers Brothers.  I never knew these weren't the real words.

I can see by your outfit that you are a cowboy;
You can see by my outfit that I'm a cowboy, too;
You can see by our outfits that we are both cowboys;
So get yourself an outfit,
And be a cowboy, too.

So now this song is alternating in my brain with the much more lofty hymn in #2.  Thanks to my posting these lyrics, you can join me in the endless Smothers Brothers Streets of Laredo song loop.  You're welcome.  

4.  Whenever I can, I offer my hand knitted hats for sale.  This weekend exceeded my expectations.  I sold all but ten hats!  Generate Hope is going to get a substantial donation.

5.  More PAL LOVE

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, October 10, 2014

My First World

As I sit at my computer and ponder what are the five best things of my week, I'm hard pressed to decide what to write.  Today I am having deeper thoughts than normal.

Do you know that term people bandy about--"First World Problems"?  I live in a First World country although I haven't always lived here.  I've been considering First World privileges which I don't always value.  I am reminded this week as I write my Friday Fave Fives to be thankful for my First World privileges.

1.  No one shot at me this week.  Now, I've been around 'hostile guns' before, particularly when I was living in Los Angeles.  So that's not just a 'Third World' problem.  But sometimes people will ask me about my day, and I simply say, "No one shot at me today.  It's been a good day."  They look a little startled ,and then they laugh but with an understanding that, 'Yes, we live in a safe and secure spot in the world'.

2.  This week, I took showers with HOT running water.  The water was clean and warm.  Truly, it's a luxury.

3.  My clothes are new(ish) and clean.  The washing machine and dryer did their jobs, and they weren't squatting at the side of the stream scrubbing the shirts and slacks.

4.  I ate my fill of fresh fruits and vegetables.  In fact, I ate my fill of all the food I desired.

5.  Oh yeah, about that clean water.  I drank lots of it.  No need to boil it before I drank it or used it to brush my teeth.

Also, I have the amazing privilege to own a camera and take photos whenever and wherever I want.  Here are three for your enjoyment--just random pictures from my files.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014


Eric at Rethinking the Dream posted a few paragraphs this morning on his blog which got me thinking.  He in turn had been inspired by Faith at Minimalist at Home.  Basically this chain of reactions is about 'what do you love sometimes and therefore can do without?'

Of course I have my list.  Photos.  I have a love/hate relationship with them because organizing all the old family photos overwhelms me.  Dishes.  I inherited many tea cups from my mother and grandmother.  I use my favorite mug for tea.  Then I thought of yarn.  Do I love yarn sometimes?

I think I love yarn all the time (or I love almost all of my yarn all the time).  The yarn I don't love at all leaves the house quickly or never makes it in the door at all.  The rest of the yarn--I love.

As I pondered the why of my loving yarn, I realized that I love yarn because all I have to do is mess around with it a bit with my hands and a couple of sticks, and wa-lah!  I have a hat

 or a cowl or a sweater

 or gloves

or a bunny! 

 And these are all useful things.  I love yarn because it is always, ultimately useful.  I can give up the dishes, (some of) the books, the clothes.  But let me keep my yarn.  I love it always, not just sometimes.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

October One

Friday Fave Fives with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story...

The crisp, bonfire, autumn month of October.  It's filled with pumpkins and orange and yellow and brown.  Except here in SoCal where I live.  Today it was 99F, and yes, it was hot.  Those winds from the desert east of us, Santa Ana Winds, were blowing.  While everyone else in the more northern latitudes in North America is facing FALL, it feels like high summer here. Most of the time I am thankful for my mediterranean climate even though we don't participate in the typical autumn cooler days and possibly rainy evenings.  As I sit here sweating with the windows open to catch whatever breeze I can, I am looking back on my week, considering my blessings.

1. An email received from the mother of two former students just letting me know they miss being in my class and still consider me one of their absolute favorite teachers ever.  Made my whole week right there!

2.  Thai food from the restaurant has been keeping us fed for FIVE DAYS!  We ordered two extra dishes when we ate there on Sunday and with our own rice to supplement, the leftovers have lasted us for the whole week.  I appreciate not having to cook while we are in this limbo state of housing.

3.  Of course, if this is Willow's Cottage, there will be fiber related activities.  Currently I am crocheting.  This time it's a granny square blanket for our new little one who is going to make her appearance THIS MONTH!  Will I finish her blankie in time???  I am thankful for a bit of extra time this week to focus on making our little PAL's cuddle blanket.

About half done with the squares
100% mercerized cotton by Tahki Stacy Charles
Size G hook

4.  A real live hand written on paper letter!  Recently I have been corresponding (don't you just LOVE that word?!) with a long time friend from college days.  We've been writing each other LETTERS.  LETTERS WITH STAMPS. LETTERS DELIVERED BY THE POSTMAN.  I received one this week.

5.  Finally, I want  to wish my granddaugher a very Happy Birthday!  Eight years old!

So this has been a recounting of the Five Blessings from Willow's Cottage this week.  Happy Weekend!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Happy Autumn, Happy Weekend

Here at Willow's Cottage, it has been a Super Busy Week, this first week of Fall  The reason for our overwhelmingly crazy week was that we have moved all our possessions into storage while a major renovation is happening at our house.  I've been so tired, I've been falling asleep holding my knitting needles or my book--just nodding off.  I'm certainly looking forward to a quiet weekend.  But before the weekend begins, I want to share my Friday Fave Fives hosted by Susanne--a necessary part of my week to keep me accountable for maintaining a heart of gratitude.

1.  While we are 'displaced', the world's best neighbors have offered their primary home to us while they 'vacation' at their beach house.   We are able to be right 'next door' to our property while all the changes are happening and we can be on hand to keep an eye on the progress. I mean it, these two are truly the BEST NEIGHBORS EVER!

2.  Two other friends answered our plea for muscles and showed up on two Saturdays this month to help us move big things like pianos and bookcases and beds into the storage pods.  BEST YOUNG, STRONG FRIENDS EVER!

3.  My former TA, Miss P, came over on Saturday and helped me pack up the last minute items like the refrigerator food and the pantry.  We work together well, having had two years of practice in the classroom.   BEST PACKER EVER!

4.  This school year, I have two different teacher assistants assigned to three of my classes.  Partly, they are in class to observe and learn the program I teach, but mostly they just help in whatever way I ask them.   I truly appreciate their help and input in making our classes run smoothly and efficiently.  BEST TAs EVER!

5.  Our mechanic is fantastic.  He is experienced.  He's honest.  This week he gave me great advice on a automobile check up and changed my windshield wiper--for free.  BEST MECHANIC EVER!

I am so thankful for these people who act selflessly and kindly in our lives.

And again--I am dipping in to the archives for photos... four years ago this weekend, we were in Northern California--Humboldt County where we both have roots...celebrating The Professor's high school reunion.  It's a place of rolling surf and fog, gigantic Redwood trees and hanging moss--so very different from where we live now.

Happy Weekend!  Be Blessed!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

More About Natchez

A little more about Natchez, Mississippi.

 It's at the southern end of the Natchez Trace where groups from the north gathered to begin their return trip after having ridden down the Mississippi River in flatboats or larger vessels.

Lovely gracious Southern homes abound in the old down town area.

Another point of interest in Natchez is the Great Sun Ceremonial Mound.  Here is a link to more information about the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians and the Ceremonial Mound.

Boys and Girls, that is your history lesson for today.

Monday, September 22, 2014


I missed a number of days of posting a daily photo.  Hopefully, I can resume and stay on track.

Mississippi River
seen from
Natchez, Mississippi

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Three Great Goods Plus Two

Good Morning!  It's Friday!  Time for Friday Fave Fives with Susanne.

It is said that there are three great goods in life.  This week I have enjoyed each one of them on a daily basis.

1.  A warm shower.

2.  A comfortable bed.

3.  A good cup of morning coffee.

And if that isn't enough to make my week fabulous, two other great goods occurred.

4.  My #2 Son came home!  He has been gone, out of the country, for fifteen months.  Although we have kept in touch via phone, email, text and skype, there is nothing like a "Hi, Mom!" and a huge smile and a big hug.  I love that I can jump in my car and drive only six hours to see him face to face if I need a another #2 Son hug.  He is now the child living closest to us instead of farthest away.

5.  Speaking of sons, I connected on facebook with our Ugandan 'son' who we sponsored for many years.  He has grown up, graduated from secondary school, gained a profession.  If you are friends with me on facebook, you might notice him commenting on my home page.  Isn't technology wonderful?

Because this has been an incredibly busy and harried week, I haven't even pulled my camera out of its case to take even one photo.  Old photographic memories will have to suffice.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Poems, Promotions, Bunnies, and Hats

It's Friday!  After a long and most busy week which included travel for The Professor and airport trips for me, and a new school year beginning, I am looking forward to the weekend and to catching up with friends at Friday Fave Fives.

1.  Some things are just funny.  We spied this guy mowing (well, pretending to mow) the grass near the entrance to the freeway.  Made us laugh.

2.  Last weekend Son #1 was promoted to the rank of MAJOR in the US Army Reserve.  As a chaplain, he carries a heavy responsibility.  This responsibility is one he freely accepts, but sometimes it's hard.  I am thankful that he has been recognized for his sacrifice and service.  The Professor was able to be present for the promotion and pinning ceremony.  It meant so much for father and son to be together to celebrate this milestone.   (Photo compliments of a friend who attended the ceremony.

3.  I didn't fly out with The Professor, but someone else begged and begged to go along.  She was so new that her dress wasn't finished.

But she wanted so much to take a plane and to go visit her new home that I finally relented and knitted like a mad woman all the way down the El Camino Real to the Burbank Airport.  Just in time, with literally no time to spare, I made the last stitch and pulled her sun dress over her ears.  Introducing Alexandra, new companion to our soon to arrive granddaughter.  Here she is happily sharing her first adventure with Bapa. (Note:  you gotta LOVE a man who not only travels with a knitted bunny but takes photos of her IN PUBLIC PLACES.)

4.   Speaking of knitting--I often speak of knitting, about knitting, with knitting, for knitting--I stumbled on a new hat pattern.  The Golden Pear Hat is a free pattern offered by Melissa Thompson on ravelry. Although it is sized for babies and toddlers, it's super easy to adjust and make larger hats.  I think you'll be seeing more of these hats here this fall.  I finished two this week and am about half done with a third--larger than these.

5.  My sister-in-law mentioned a new to me author.  I'm shocked I didn't know about Jill Paton Walsh.  She has written more Lord Peter Wimsey stories in the Dorothy Sayers tradition of LPW and Harriet Vane detective novels.  I read A Presumption of Death and am now cruising through The Attenbury Emeralds.  

I leave you today with a poem:
I Opened a Book
by Julia Donaldson
I opened a book and in I strode.

Now nobody can find me.
I've left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.
I'm wearing the cloak, I've slipped on the ring,
I've swallowed the magic potion.
I've fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in a bottomless ocean.

I opened a book and made some friends.

I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.
I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.