Thursday, May 29, 2014


Friday always means Friday Fave Five here at Willow's Cottage.  No matter what has or hasn't happened at home or on the blog, my Fave Fives are an anchor in my week.  Susanne has been posting Friday Fave Fives for a LONG time, and I love participating because it forces encourages me to focus on thankfulness every week.  So, here they are.  My Friday Fave Fives:

1.  World's Best Neighbors.  They just put themselves up yet another notch on the list.  Due to work needing to be done on our house, we had to vacate it for a couple of nights this week.  Enter Best Neighbors Ever.  They offered to let us stay in their beach house over night.  And the place comes complete with close proximity to Hollywood Beach.

2.  Lunch out.  A friend invited me for lunch this week, let me choose the restaurant.  We chatted and had so much fun we will be making plans to meet up again this summer.

3.  More Clearing Out.  It's a great feeling to see the difference in the cottage.  So. Much. Lighter.  And it motivates me to keep on clearing.

4.  Jacaranda trees are blooming.  I think I mention these flowering trees every May.  All year they just grow and act boring.  THEN.  In May, they bloom and it's glorious.  Purple flowers in the trees, purple flowers high in the sky, spent purple petals on the ground in parking lots and streets and gardens.  I had thought jacarandas were California natives, but no, they're not.  Evidently, they're native to South America.  Wherever they originated, jacarandas certainly love our mediterranean climate.

5.  You can never have too many flower photos, right?

That's Willow's Week Wrap Up.  And I leave you with one quote:  'Thankfulness can chase away a thousand thoughts of shame.'  Emily P. Freeman

Clearing Out

I mentioned last Friday that I have been cleaning out stuff from the house.  I'm on a roll!  More things are boxed up to be dropped off at the thrift store.  This includes, yes, another set of dishes.

Why would a wannabe minimalist have yet another set of china?  Well, the story behind this set is that it too was a wedding gift.  I used these dishes (white stoneware) until we moved across the Pacific Ocean to the end of the world.  It's a bad idea to move breakable china that far.  So I loaned the dishes to a friend to use.  Twelve years later, when we returned the final time from Indonesia, my friend told me she had given the dishes away.  No big deal.  Except.  About six years ago, she found them in her attic and returned them to me!  My younger daughter took them, used them happily.  But now she has moved across the US and elected to not take them.  Back those dishes came to me.  I don't need them.  I don't have room in my little place.  So those dishes are history.  And I'm OK with that.

Then there are the other things-- a few knick knacks, a few books, some yarn that I will never knit into anything.

One other item that is leaving is a wooden quilt rack.  Back in the day when I lived in Oregon and had a business that involved displaying handspun yarn and other fiber related items in a pleasing fashion, I used the quilt rack to hang those things on.  But I don't have a useful reason to keep the rack now.  It has simply been in the way in the guest room.  After advertising it for sale on a local resource exchange, I have a buyer.

What amazes me is although I have been decluttering and decluttering on a mostly consistent basis, there is still so much stuff around.  Obviously, I still have a ways to go to be comfortable with how much I've cleared out.

Monday, May 26, 2014


Yesterday afternoon, while I was in my bedroom I heard the ubiquitous chirping of the neighborhood quail.  I always enjoy the sight and sound of the quail, so I peeked out the back window.  This is what I saw.

Tiny little baby quail.  A covey of ten itty bitty babies.

The adult quail were in a tizzy.  Somehow they had all gotten to the bottom of our slope, and those babies couldn't get back up.  No matter how much chirping the adults did, those fuzzy balls of feathers weren't able to jump, hop, or fly up those cinder blocks to get up the slope.

The chicks ran back and forth, tripping over their toes and nose diving into the cement walkway.
I sneaked around outside to catch better photos.  Those quail were frantic.

I knew we needed to help.  The Professor found a box and we started rounding them up one by one and herding them in to the box.  Ten little furballs.  Some of them I had to pick up and cradle in my hand until I could move them to the box.  

At the top of the slope the granddaddy quail was clucking, calling, and directing the operation, none too pleased at our intervention.  He didn't know what we know.  There has been a hungry gopher snake hanging around the place, too.

We released the babies at the top of the slope. 
 I hope they're safe and sound in their nest now.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Five Faves for This Week in May

The weekly Fave Fives are here.  If you want to, you can join and post your Friday Fave Fives at Susanne's blog.  This is Willow's Week in Five Easy Favorites.

1.  On Sunday I did my FAVE gig of the year for the Ventura County Weavers and Spinners Guild:  Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest and Folk Festival held every year at Paramount Movie Ranch in Agoura Hills.

If you ever watched a movie, and the movie was a Western, if it was made by Paramount Studios, and even part of it was set in a town, then it was most likely shot at The Ranch.  Does it look familiar?

Every year we sit on the porch and weave and spin all day.  And all day, people -boys, girls, men, women- stop at the porch and watch us, ask us, "What are you doing?", and tell us, "That's awesome!"

People look through my hats which are for sale and sometimes they buy one--or two.

Of course, the main reason people attend the festival is not to watch us but to listen to the music.  You can listen to some of the contestants HERE.  Everywhere, people gather to jam.

2.  More spring flowers! MY FAVES.
Lance Leaf Coreopsis

Farewell to Spring

3.  Another FAVE!  A big clear out.  I have been feeling overwhelmed by just too much stuff around my house.  Lately, I've been culling things I no longer use or want.  I finally did it.  I gave away my Noritake china set.  And some vases and small glass serving dishes.  I never used any of them.  I thought I'd have a bit of 'post decision dissonance' about getting rid of that stuff, but I didn't.  Not at all.  It was actually a relief to get those boxes of unwanted items out of the house.  I am on a roll now.  More decluttering coming up!

4.  Now that school is done--- oh, yes--THAT'S a FAVE!  We're done with the year!  All my papers are corrected and returned.  The Professor needs only to post grades.

5.  Now that school is done, I can focus a bit more on knitting.  The New Boy wants his afghan made in red, purple and blue.  I've barely begun...but I have all summer to work on it.  Knitting is always a FAVE for me.

Enjoy your weekend.  And be aware of the blessings that happen every day, all the time...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fave Fives in Mid May

It's very late on Thursday night and I am writing my Friday Fave Fives.  It's too late to be creative.  I can't think of a catchy title.  But here are Five things which have caught my attention and made me thought and grateful this week.

1.  How can a sad occasion like a memorial service be a fave?  I've thought about this a bit this week since we attended a memorial service for a friend and former co-worker in LA on Saturday.  It's always difficult and sad to see the family grieving and missing someone they love.  But I was struck by the positive attitude of our friend's husband and children.  They have hope in resurrection and that made all the difference.  It was also great to see so many of our former colleagues--it was like a big party.  I think our friend would have been pleased.

2.  He asked, "What do you want to do on Mother's Day?"  I answered, "No restaurants!"  Then I thought about it.  "Let's go for a hike."  So we did.   Yucca plants are blooming on the hillsides in Hill Canyon and Hawk Canyon where we hiked.

The wild mustard is in bloom, too.

3.  This was the last week of school.  Last week of correcting papers.  As I've stated before, "I teach for free.  They pay me to correct papers."  I enjoy my students and love watching them learn to be better writers.  But I also love my summers.  Can't. Wait.

4.  It's always so much fun to read the little cards my students give me at the end of the year.

 "Thank you for working with us so devoutedly [sic].  It has helped a bunch, and will continue to help us.  Again, thank you!"  

"Thank you for teaching me how to improve my writing.  You are a awesome teacher [sic].  You are kind, encouraging, friendly and always happy.  Have a great summer."

"Thank you for all the fun things we did in class, which helped me with my writing.  I really had lots of fun and look forward to next year.  Enjoy your summer and see you in the fall."

"Thank you for this wonderful year you helped me improve my writing oh so very much.  I made you sugar cookies but my brother ate them. :(  Thank you!!"  [NOTE:  we discussed this--and, yes, her brother really did eat all the cookies she baked.]

5.  It has been really really really hot here.  Like melt-my-chocolate-candy, blister-my-bare-feet, make-me-sweat hot.  In Southern California, heat+wind=fire. Have you heard on the news about the combination of heat, wind, and drought that is causing wild fires in California?  No good news there.  The fave is since our neighborhood burned last year, we probably aren't in danger of having another fire whip through near us.  The other part of this fave is the heat is supposed to break by the weekend, and we can have some relief from the three digit temperatures.  On the plus side, I have noticed that the heat has brought more blooms to the heat loving plants on my patio.

Heat, fire, funerals, flowers, hikes, thanks.  Quite a disparity.  This simply proves one can find blessings in all the hot messes of life.  How are you?

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Flowers and Flowers

Spring is a beautiful season here in Southern California.  Everything is blooming and most of the grasses on the hillsides are still green.  The sun is shining gently (after a very hot few days last week).  I have one more week of classes.  It's all good.  Here are Five Faves for Friday.  Thanks to Susanne for leading Friday Fave Fives.

1.  Sunday was an event packed day. One of our afternoon activities was the Annual Camarillo Hospice Garden Tour. Every spring I love to visit the different featured gardens of our community.  This year there were the usual five gardens, but it seemed like this time more emphasis was put on water wise plants with minimum lawns and drought resistant gardens.

2.  My favorite photo

3.  Sometimes the garden accents are as lovely as the plants.

4.  This week I've been noticing the spring flowers planted in my California native garden.  They make me smile.  Evidently you can't take too many photos of blooming flowers.

Orange and Cream California Poppies
When the cream colored poppies voluntarily planted themselves in my garden a few years ago, I did the research, and, yes,  they are indeed native to California.

Hummingbird Sage

Lance Leaf Coreopsis
These plants grew last year but didn't produce any blooms.  This spring they're making up for it!

Wild Yarrow


5.  Since returning from my long road trip, I haven't done much knitting.  After finishing a fun green cabled slouch hat and a pair of striped socks (hmmm, no photos...must remedy that...), I decided to start back slowly with a black and white striped men's cap.  Truly, the knitting never completely stops.  And it's one of the abiding joys of my life.  Did you know it's also good for you?  (Except--the woman in the photo at the top of the article is knitting crocheting)

Finally, I want to share with you a photo and an article about the horrific situation in Africa about which I'm sure you already are aware.  How can the abduction of 276 girls in Nigeria be a fave?  It's not.  But I will use whatever means I have to bring awareness and to help rescue them.

Last Friday I mentioned writing a post about our experience in Houston.  I did that on Tuesday.  Here's the link, or you can scroll down to read it.