Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A New Year!

2020.  It's a new year.   It's new goals.  Every year I choose a word to focus my thoughts and goals.  Some years the word chooses me.  So it was for 2020.  A friend gave me a drink container with a lid and straw.  I like to use those for drinking my water every day.  This one is special because it says TRUST several times in a ring around the top of it.  I looked at it and it hit me.  That's my word for 2020.  TRUST.  Trust God with my future and where our new moving adventure will take us.

My 2020 goals include:
1.  Making the move to live near our daughters.  This involves selling our house and TRUSTING God for the timing.
2.  Like last year, I want to improve my gardening and herb growing skills.  I'll be learning about a whole new climate for growing.
3.  I noticed that this past year I was posting less often on my blog.  I am hoping to increase my posts this coming year--at least two posts a week.
4.  The Professor is planning a couple of trips for 2020.  More on that later.
5.  Again, this year I want to continue reading through the Chronological Bible.  I didn't finish in 2019, but maybe I can get it done in 2020.
6.  The never ending attempts to knit and weave my yarn stash down continues.
7.  Another continuing goal is my health--eating healthfully and exercising regularly are two great ways to maintain health.
8.  This final goal is most likely to be my hardest one to maintain.  I want to learn more about sketching and watercolor painting.  A friend has challenged me to 'just do it'.  Draw something every day!

Do you make goals (I won't call them resolutions!) or choose a word for your year?  Please share!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Week Between

Christmas is over.  New Year's Day is coming.  It's Friday and we're not home.  But even so, I want to check in here at Willow's Cottage and be thankful for Willow's Week.  Friday Fave Fives is a good practice for me to remember to be thankful all the time.  Even when we're between the holidays.

1.  Traveling in the days before Christmas can be stressful.  We are thankful for a safe trip-- 400+ miles.

2.  A safe trip for Younger Son (Dr. Mike).  He flew in from New Mexico.  (I confess that I loved picking him up from the airport--that first glimpse--There he is!)

3.  Christmas was wonderful!  We celebrated with both of our sons at Older Son's home (Chaplain Dan).  PAL was suitably excited to see us.  AND they have a Christmas tree.  (We didn't put a tree up this year, so I missed having one.)

(This is the kind of photo you get when you leave your camera in the car and the lens gets fogged up.  I kinda liked it.)

4.  We sent out some of our Christmas letters via email and have already received sweet responses.  I love the reconnecting that happens during the Christmas season.

5.  The Christmas Day skype call with our girls who were together a long way away.  I missed being with them, but a video call was a good second best.

We will be returning home tomorrow, bringing Dr. Mike with us.  We just keep celebrating the whole week between Christmas and New Years!

Friday, December 20, 2019

December Means Christmas!

Happy Friday!  Friday Faves Fives time.  And it's almost Christmas!

1.  A hike in the Santa Monica Mountains.  According to The Professor's app, we walked 3.32 miles and almost none of it was level. It was a good workout with beautiful scenery.

2.  Christmas letter is written and printed.  We are ALMOST finished folding, stuffing, licking, and stamping.  And it's not even Christmas Eve yet.

3.  Another Christmas concert.  Two friends performed in the concert Sunday evening at their church in Thousand Oaks.  The program was Christmas music through history.  Sussex Carol, J.S. Bach, Charles Wesley, G.F. Handel, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Matt Redman.  It was wonderful!

4.  Christmas music playing at home and in the car.  What's your favorite carol?  (I don't think I could choose although Mary, Did You Know? is high on my list along with O Holy Night and Silent Night.)

5.  Bluegrass Christmas Campfire.  A young mom in our church (and I'm her mentor mom) sings in a Bluegrass band.  She invited us over for an evening of music around the campfire last night.  We bundled up, grabbed World's Best Neighbor and headed over to listen.  Lots of little kids running around.  Mugs of hot chocolate and spiced cider.  Christmas songs played on banjos, bass, guitars and harmonicas.  It was heavenly, under the stars and around the fire.  And my jacket smells like wood smoke this morning.

I am so blessed and thankful for this wonderful Christmas season!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Exploring England, Part 3

Lately, I have been scrolling through my photos of our March and April trip to England.  Scrolling and scrolling and stopping to gaze at a favorite memory.  Tintagel.  Canterbury.  Manchester.  York.

Glastonbury.  I never had any interest in visiting Glastonbury.  I considered it to be something like Haight Ashbury Street in San Francisco in the 1960s or some place where everyone was performing pagan rituals and dancing in the streets.  I was wrong.

Glastonbury is the site of a marvelous Christian abbey.  Legend says that Glastonbury Abbey was originally founded by Joseph of Arimathea (Yes, that Joseph.  The man who offered his new tomb for Jesus's burial.)  This is the place where, according to more legend, that King Arthur and Queen Guinevere are buried.

And standing high above the abbey is a hill where there was once a church.  Glastonbury Tor.  St. Michael's Tower still stands on the top of the tor.  Feast your eyes on these photos of this Grade 1 listed building, a true treasure of Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Christian history.

The 360 degree view is breath-taking.

Friday, December 13, 2019

December Means Parties

It's Friday!  I almost missed that it's FRIDAY!
Brain clicks in.
Time for FRIDAY FAVE FIVES. (follow link to join in)
What happened this week?

Parties. Lots of parties.  No photos. (Only a little bit of knitting.)

1.  Monday night.  Our church small group of 16 people met for our last get together and dinner for the year.  We had so much fun.  Everyone said as we were leaving that we LOVE our group.  I'm so thankful for these close friends who rejoice and mourn together as we do life together.

2.  Wednesday evening we enjoyed a dinner and long chat with new friends.  Oh, it was good to get to know them!

3.  Thursday was a crazy busy day.  Morning started with our Mom to Mom monthly meeting.  Lots of young moms and a few of us older mentor moms.  This month two young moms spoke about what they have learned and how they've grown in the past few years.  Then I talked about Lessons I've Learned in Life and From Whom.  I'm so thankful for the opportunity to share with all the moms.

4.  I ducked out a little early and headed to lunch with a group of friends from my Friday morning Bible study group.  There are just seven of us, but we love each other like sisters!

5.  One more dinner.  This time it was the Vegan Gourmet Club.  We love this group of people who share a meal once a month which focuses on a whole food, planted based diet to encourage health.  We've been going for three years and have made good friends there.

Food, Friends, Fellowship!

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Celebrating December

I always have such great intentions of posting more her at Willow's Cottage.  And then the week flies by and it's Friday again.  So here I am with the one tradition I manage to keep-- Friday Fave Fives with Susanne.  Click on the link to see what other people are thankful for and blessed with this week.  Here are mine:

1.  Between the rain storms, we managed to get in two great walks. Since Friday was #optoutside day, we chose to walk around Ventura Harbor.  Ocean. Sand. Seagulls. Boats.  Is there a better way to spend the day after Thanksgiving?

 harbor entrance

so many boats!

2.  Then on Monday, The Professor volunteered his time to light a concert.  So I spent the time he was hanging lights and doing whatever it is he does to create that amazing ambience to walk all around the perimeter of the university.  It's a beautiful campus, having been renovated from an old state hospital done in mission style architecture. (and only 1 mile from the Pacific Ocean!)

 a view of the campus from above on the hill with the water tank

looking east through the palm trees to the hills that surround the campus

3.  The concert!  Channel Islands Community Chorale which also includes students from the university sang two concerts on the weekend.  We attended both--Sunday afternoon and Monday evening.  The Professor wanted to hear the concert before he did the lighting.  I have friends who sing in the chorale, so it was a double blessing for me to hear them sing Mozart and Rachmaninoff as well as numerous contemporary composers.

4.  I love Christmas!  I've started doing a little bit of decorating.  First:  advent wreath and candles.  This week is Hope!

5.  We joined several people from a current and former Bible study group for a Christmas dinner.  A few years ago, the group was so large that we split in to two groups.  But we still get together for a holiday celebration every year.  It was great to see these long time friends again.

I think that December is mostly about celebrating.  Celebrating places and people and beauty.  And anticipating Christmas!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy (American) Thanksgiving to you all!  Here we are at the end of the month of giving thanks.  But if you ever read my blog, you know I make a point of posting my Friday Fave Fives every week.  I am thankful every day and we are supposed to 'give thanks for everything' and that's why I do this.

1. Tea with our new youth pastor's wife.  I already love her!  We were supposed to enjoy our tea time at home, but we had a house showing scheduled, so I took her to our nearest tea and coffee shop which is in a commercial and industrial area--I'm sure it's there to serve the workers, but it makes for a great little hidden spot.

2.  I've been in a bit of a knitting slump, but this week I decided to just finish one of the projects which only needed sewing up.  A new pillow cover for the living room sofa.  Details: Caron Pantone yarn.  #7 needles.  Mitered square pattern.

3.  We have been taking our walks before it becomes dark.  Lots of things to notice!

So many brilliant blossoms!

The deer graze everywhere in the neighborhood and aren't shy about it.

Autumn does happen in Southern California.  On one of our walks, I collected some fallen leaves and seed pods.  I love the colors!

4.  All. The. Rain.  There was another fire in the county north of us, so everyone was thankful and relieved to have the rain storm blow in.  Well, almost everyone.  The people who had to change Thanksgiving plans because of road closures due to snow may not have been as happy.  But we need the rain!

5.  Thanksgiving!  This year, our celebration was very low key.  Only The Professor's sister came to celebrate, so there were the three of us.  Other family was supposed to come for dessert but because of the rain storm, they decided to stay home.  So.  Three people and three pies.  Yeah, we have leftovers!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Be Thankful 4

November is steaming along.  It's hard to realize that next week is Thanksgiving in the US.  I really need these pauses in my week to stop and reflect on the many blessings in my life.  One way I do that is to join other people in FRIDAY FAVE FIVES.

1.  Women's Brunch at church.  Yummy food and encouragement from two women who spoke to us.  I love spending time with my friends laughing, eating, praising, and encouraging each other.

2.  All the murder mysteries.  My sister-in-law loaned me her Kindle with three THREE! mysteries by a new-to-me author.  I've been having a great time reading through them.

3.  Rain!  This week we had our first rain since May. Oh I love the sound and smell of the rain.  And maybe, just maybe, the rain will help end 'fire season' here in Southern California.

4.  A day in Los Angeles.  The Professor's oldest (as in longest--since he was one and his friend was three) friend and his wife met us at LA's Union Station and we visited The Last Book Store in Down Town Los Angeles (DTLA).  I have known them since I was eighteen and had his friend as an English prof in college.  Anyway, it was so much fun to spend the day with them!

5.  And of course there are other iconic DTLA places to visit like Grand Central Market for lunch Bradbury Building, Central Library and Angel's Flight (the funicular rail cars going up and down Bunker Hill).  The Professor and his friend remember these places from their childhood, growing up in Los Angeles and riding on Angel's Flight on their way to the central library or the market.  It was a day filled with memories for them.

Bonus:  Son #2 has been traveling the globe this past week.  Knowing his schedule, I checked his flights and destinations all the time often. This mama's prayers followed him every step of the way.   The best news was that he is home safely, doing well at recovering from all the jet lag.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Happy and Thankful

So here we are at the mid point of November and the month of Thanksgiving.  I try to focus every day and every week on being thankful.  Here are my Friday Fave Fives--those five things I have chosen from my week that have made me happy or have made me thankful.  Here is the link to join in:  FRIDAY FAVE FIVES.

1.  This week The Professor has been working daily on an outdoor project.  Actually he's been doing this for several weeks.  The project involves clearing paint off concrete blocks and it's A LOT of work.  One morning, two guy friends from church helped him and it speeded up the finish date from three weeks to one week.  Many hands make light work.  I am thankful for friends who help each other.

2.  We took a long walk one day this week.  I hesitate to call it a hike because it was mostly in a suburban area and partly on busy roads.  We walked along the bike paths on both sides of part of the Ventura River.  Of course, the river bed is bone dry.  And of course, I forgot my camera.  I'm am thankful that we have so many places to walk and be outside.

3.  On that walk, we passed many eucalyptus trees.  The leaves smell wonderful.  We found a few branches on the ground and brought them home.  I'm going to love having the aroma of eucalyptus for a while.

4.  The local university has occasional performances by professional artists in conjunction with classes.  We attended a performance by a trio--piano, cello and clarinet--showcasing compositions from Bach to Beethoven to some mid Romantic composers.  It was beautiful!

5.  These flowers from a friend's daughter who was selling her arrangements at a homeschool Christmas boutique.  She's five.  We bought them to cheer up our dining room table.  (and to encourage her)  What's not to love about fresh flowers?

What made you happy and thankful this week?

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Be Thankful 2

Have you been focusing on Being Thankful this month?  November is the month to do that, but I try to be mindful daily about the blessings in my life.  Here are Five Faves that I am thankful for this week.  The link to post your FRIDAY FAVE FIVES or read what others have written is in the link.

1.  One day we drove to Santa Barbara to visit the Botanic Garden there.    Our purpose was to  purchase some California native plants to add to the slope behind our house.  But since we were at the garden, we decided to walk a couple of the trails and view the autumn colors in a Southern California garden.

2.  No garden in Southern CA is complete without the state flower--the poppy.

3.  The view from the top of the trail  extended all across the city and over the sea (which was fogged in) and out to one of the Channel Islands.  That slightly darker line just below the sky and above the fog is the outline of the island.

4.  A friend gifted me a succulent filled pumpkin.  Evidently, what you do is trim the top off the pumpkin and glue succulents there.  The idea is to have the plants take root in the pumpkin which has not been gutted or carved.  I think it's cute.

5.  Coffee time with a college friend.  We found out that an old friend from college who lives in our county is also moving out of state.  This news prompted us to reach out and grab a coffee time with him before we all disperse.  We had a good time and I especially enjoyed listening to the guys reminisce about their dads who both were professors at the college we attended.

Bonus pictures:

There is so much beauty around us!  Let's be thankful for even the little busy bees and tiny rushes by a pond.  Happy Thanksgiving Month, week two!

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Let's Be Thankful

November is the month of giving thanks.  Shouldn't we try to focus on being thankful every day?  One way I do that is to post here on my blog every Friday what are my Friday Fave Fives. (Yeah, I know it's Saturday, but Friday was a bit crazy here at Willow's Cottage.)

1.  Lately, our lives have been focused around keeping the house clean and show ready and then not messing it up.  This necessitates many hours of sitting around reading and knitting (reading for both of us and knitting for me).  It also means spending chunks of time away from the house.  That means hanging at someone else's house or at a public spot.  This week I had a morning of wonderful tea and conversation with a friend.  We share so much in common with our love of various arts.  She paints and sketches.  So she gave me a two minute lesson in how to begin sketching.  I told her, "Pretend you are talking to your grandson Z.  How would you explain the first steps to him?"  So she did, and I got it.  Now I have an assignment to do this week.  I love these conversations.

2.  We also had BYOD with our friends this week. BYOD is Bring Your Own Dinner.  We met at their house and no one had to cook.  We just sat in their 'three season room' and ate and chatted for HOURS.  Their power had been turned off for two days, so they were just thankful that they had electricity again.  I'm so glad we had that time together...

3.  About that power outage.  Many people we know in our area have been without electricity due to the incredibly strong winds and concerns about fires.  Fires?  Yes, There have been two fires in our county this week.  One of the fires burned up to the parking lot of the Ronald Reagan Library (north east of us).  The other is still burning north of us.  We watched it burning Wednesday night.  I'm thankful that we have not had to evacuate from our home and that we have had uninterrupted electric power.  Maria Fire about one hour after it started:

4.  Another thing I'm thankful for is that list of things to take when you have to evacuate.  We've been checking it and making sure we are ready.  From our county fire department website:

5.  And of course in the midst of all this, life continues on.  PAL's mom sent me this photo of her after Trick or Treating in her neighborhood on Halloween Night. "Captain Marvel" brings us so much joy every day, even from a distance.

So that was my week.  Yes, I still have to photograph my knitting and weaving and post some pictures.  I hope to do that by Monday.  In the meantime, Let's Be Thankful!

Friday, October 25, 2019

End of October

I'm a bit late posting Friday Fave Fives.  Things are a bit tense and wary because of all the concerns about fires here in Southern California.  We are fine and there are no fires within fifteen miles from us.  But fire weather still keeps us on edge.

1.  First, I have to say I am thankful for all the firefighters who are out fighting the various fires that are burning throughout California.  With a large fire burning not far from where The Professor's brother lives and another one near our niece and nephew, and a third burning along the beach just up the coast in our county, we know the firemen and first responders are working round the clock to keep us safe.

2.  And yes, it really has been as hot and windy as the news  says.  I am very very thankful that we have air conditioning.

3.  World's Best Neighbor took the train to San Diego and then rode it back at the end of the week.  I'm her Uber driver.  It's fun to get those texts saying, "I'm in LA."  "Just passing Glendale."  I picked her up and after a community meeting we needed to attend, we grabbed The Professor and ended up at a new to us Chinese restaurant.  Yum!  And I'm glad to have her back home.

4.  I haven't been writing about my knitting projects much.  Mostly, they're boring projects. There's really nothing exciting about pillow covers.  But it gives me joy to just knit.

5.  I am thankful for the BEST eye surgeon.  I needed some (not unusual) follow up work on my cataract surgeries.  This weekend, I'll be resting my eyes.  But my vision is doing just fine and I am very thankful for that.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Birthdays and Travels

I'm back online after being out of town for a week.  Where have I been?  See below.  I'm going to share the details via Friday Fave Fives. (Click the link to join!)

1.  Last Friday, The Professor and I drove to Phoenix.  We cleaned up the house to get it open house ready and then we loaded up the car and took off.  You may recall that Southern California was having high winds and wild fires.  Yes, we drove through lots of smoke, but we were never really in any danger.  The rest of the drive was uneventful and we arrived safely at our son's home.

2.  Why did we go to Phoenix?  Well, PAL turned five!  Of course, we wanted to be with her to celebrate her birthday with a pirate party at the park!

3.  On her actual birthday, we attended church in the morning with them and then after a quick lunch we did something I loved.  The Phoenix Symphony playing the music for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.  WOW! It was amazing!  Sometimes, I was so focused on the movie that I would forget that the music was being played right there on the stage, and then other times, I'd be listening to the music and forget to follow the movie!  If you even have an opportunity to watch a movie with live music, do it!  It's fantastic!

4.  A wonderful addition to PAL's birthday was that Son #2 was able to join the party.  He had work meetings this week in Phoenix, so the timing worked out perfectly.  Time with BOTH sons!

Come cook with me, Uncle!
At Children's Museum

5.  We drove home Tuesday, thankful for safe travels, and Wednesday I went to the Beach Cities of Los Angeles for a get together with long time friends.  The over night visit was made all the better by sitting around the outdoor fireplace cuddled up in a blanket and talking into the evening with one of my best friends.

So that's where I've been...gone every day for the whole week.  I loved my times away, but I'm also so happy to be home again.