Friday, April 24, 2015

April Is Moving On

Hello!  It's Friday!  That means Friday Fave Fives at Willow's Cottage.  It's been a crazy week.  I'm not sure why, but it just was.  Maybe it was the two evenings we spent at the university listening and watching the performing arts students present their capstone programs.  Oh, and the new small group from our church is meeting on Tuesday nights.  Yeah, busy.  So I'm a bit late writing my Fave Fives, but I am nonetheless truly grateful for the opportunity to look back over my week and CHOOSE to be THANKFUL.

1. Medical people.  A friend of ours has been in the hospital for a week.  Finally home, he is still needing a doctor's care.  I am thankful that we have excellent health care and especially modern medicines like penicillin which heal infections.  It's not something we should take for granted.

2. Evidence of spring.  When the jacaranda trees bloom, we know it's really spring!

3.  Funny captions.  My sister-in-law, knowing my love of all things yarn related, sent me this picture and comment.  She is a quilter and mentioned she had seen the same photo with a caption about fabric.  It made me laugh.

4. Adorable students.  I assigned my writing students to write about someone they admired.  I was pleasantly surprised at how many of them wrote about their dads.  So sweet.

5. One of my classes challenged me to write the same assignment.  So I did.  And guess, what?  I wrote about my dad!  Here is what I wrote.  I'm truly thankful I had a great dad.

            I admire my father.  My dad whose name was Frank was very tall.  He was six feet two inches.  By the time he was six years old, he was taller than both of his older brothers.  Like me, Dad had light blond hair, fair skin, and bright blue eyes.  Dad grew up on a dairy farm in Southern Oregon where he learned to drive a tractor before he was a teenager.   When he was thirteen, his father died, so he had to help more than normal with milking the cows and caring for the crops.  He told me he didn’t enjoy helping his mom in the kitchen, but because he did, he was an excellent cook.  During World War II, my dad joined the Army-Air Force.  Unfortunately, he became very ill and suffered permanent damage to his heart, but that didn't stop him from choosing to live a happy life afterward.  Ever since I was a tiny girl, my dad has been my hero.      

 I admire my dad for many reasons.   Obviously, although he was ill most of his adult life and spent much time in the hospital, he still worked hard.  My earliest memories of my dad are of him reading to me.   Every night, he would sit next to me on my bed and read me a book.  I still own some of those bedtime story books we read together.   Since he was not able to attend college which was a great disappointment to him, he insisted that both my brother and I finish our college degrees because he knew that education was very important.   He was our best supporter!  Additionally, he hoped I would become a teacher and encouraged me in that endeavor.  Some people called my dad stubborn.   But I called him determined.   He was so stubborn that he lived to be eighty years old!  All my life I will remember my dad and how he loved me, taught me determination and was my champion. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

When You're Seven

There is so much to do and see in Huntington Beach, California when you're seven.

The sand and surf provide unending adventure.

Bolsa Chica Nature Reserve has birds, more birds and even more birds.

Huntington Beach is a famous place for surfers.

There are always pods of surfers playing in the waves just offshore.

Mr. Seal, Mr. Seagull and Mr. Pelican are hoping for a handout.  Fish, please.

When you're seven, Huntington Beach is the perfect place to spend spring break.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Beach Break

I'm back from Spring Break and in the routine again.  It's Friday, so of course, it's time for Friday Fave Fives.  Things have been a bit crazy as I make the required adjustment, but I am pausing to remember the blessings of the past two weeks.

1.  Fun in the Sun and the Sand.  My job during the second week of my break was being Meema while Daughter #1 was in business meetings.  Huntington Beach for Spring Break?  Perfect!

2.  Time with her after work.

3.  Son #2 drove down from his university to see his sister and nephew (and us).   Precious times!

The boy and his uncle
Uncle and his mini-me

4.  There are certain advantages to having association with the university.  One afternoon, we attended a concert (mini grant presentation by a faculty member) of Celtic music.  I'm a huge fan of Celtic music, so it was a most enjoyable time.  We bought one of the CDs, so I can listen any time I want.

5.  Recently, I purchased a book someone had recommended to me.  Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron deeply touched me and challenged me.  In the book, St. Francis of Assisi's life and example of true Christianity during the late Middle Ages renews the main character's faith.  I highly recommend this story!

St. Francis Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; 
where there is injury, pardon; 
where there is doubt, faith; 
where there is despair, hope; 
where there is darkness, light; 

where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; 

to be understood as to understand; 
to be loved as to love; 
For it is in giving that we receive; 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; 
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

What I'm Knitting

I've been knitting up my stash and finishing projects.

This Christmas stocking is finally finished.  My PAL who is six months old now will have her stocking for next Christmas.

Also, I finished a prayer shawl and a hat for a friend who is doing chemotherapy.  Because I was so focused on completing the shawl and getting it to her before her next round of chemo, I completely blanked on taking photos.  Here are the particulars:  Red Heart Soft yarn in a yummy warm raspberry color.  I knitted it in an elongated moss stitch which looks something like this:


Twenty-five inches wide, about fifty-five inches long.  The hat was a simple 2x2 ribbing and plain stockinette stitch for the rest of it.  Alas, no photo.  Again, I wanted her to have it to wear to keep her head warm and covered.

Since I am doing grandma duty this week, I will be breaking my promise to not begin any new project because The New Boy who is no longer new and no longer small needs a new Weasley Sweater.  We will be shopping and measuring.  Having a Meema made Weasley sweater is a tradition.  Here he is modeling his first sweater with Uncle Grad Student.

The newest model will likely be dark purple with a blue N.

Friday, April 03, 2015

April Fave Fives #1

Pausing in the gaiety of Spring Break (just kidding) to check in and be grateful.  Friday Fave Fives.

1.  A somewhat impromptu and unexpected lunch with nephew and his family.  This is the nephew who lived with us for more than a year while he and The Professor were both working for Intel Corp.  Now he's a husband and daddy to two adorable children.  Do nephews and nieces understand how much we love them?

2.  An evening with Will.  That is, William Shakespeare.  The Professor was lighting designer at the uni for a production of Twelfth Night, so we chose a night to attend and watch.  We shared the fun with three friends.

3.  Daughter #2 is visiting Daughter #1 this week.  Cousins are in playmate heaven. This is an example of their fun:

Overheard while playing cars, in between epic battles with the 'bad guy boss':
L: Want to stop for coffee?
N: Sure! And chocolate muffins. *orders a million chocolate muffins*
L: Are we going to eat here?
N: No, I want to eat at the Bat Cave.

4.  Tuesday was  a holiday for The Professor--the only vacation day we shared this spring.  So he asked, "Where do you want to hike?"  I replied, "Sycamore Canyon!"

Don't let the mileage fool you.  It's nearly straight up the canyon walls, switchback after switchback.

The wild mustard really is that high.  (The Professor is a rather tall man.)

See the tiny toy cars down there on Pacific Coast Highway?

5.  Spring Break always means marking items off the to do list.  I love having the time to pull weeds in the garden (check), see the eye doctor (check), finally choose a set of baskets for storage in the bedroom (still working on that).

As we head in to Easter weekend, I want to wish you all Happy Easter!  As we say in our church services, "He Is Risen!"

Friday, March 27, 2015

It's Spring...

Break!  I'm so happy!  Here are the Friday Fave Fives from Willow's Week.

1.  Obviously, two weeks off for Spring Break has to be #1!

2.  As a run up to Spring Break, our weather has been hotter than I like warm and sunny.  Every day I have spent at least a bit of time outside messing about in my garden.  Playing in dirt has been one of my favorite activities since I was a tiny girl.  I think I may be a bit of a garden geek.  I have prepped the soil and planted four tomatoes and two parsley so far in my tiny garden.  I've already used some of the parsley for soup, and look--the tomatoes are popping out flowers which will soon become tiny cherry tomatoes!

3.  If you live around here, in the spring you will immediately identify the aroma of these white flowers.  They are orange blossoms; these are specifically mandarin oranges.  Can you spot the itty bitty tiny oranges growing on the left and the right?  Come December, they will be ripe and I will relish eating them.

4.  These guys have been keeping me company while I putter in the garden.  This year there are several of these lizards in all different sizes.  They skitter around and pop out from under stones and leaves and surprise me.

The Sunbather

Mr. Body Builder doing his push ups

5.  The past few weeks I have had the tendency to almost finish a knitting project and then drop it to begin something new.  There were five six (I recounted) UFOs languishing on horizontal surfaces. (This does not count the high stack of hats which are finished but need the ends woven in.) Hence, no knitting posts lately.  So this week I declared a 'finish my projects' moratorium on casting on for new projects.  I finished these two almost identical cowls and have a third still on the needles.  These cowls are part of the Use Up My Stash Program.

Particulars for the cowls
Yarn:  Red Heart's Micro Spun 100% acrylic, Lily White, 1 skein (168 yds)
Needles:  size 10 circular
Pattern:  k1, p1 seed stitch.
Gauge: 7 stitches = 2 inches
Cast on an uneven number of stitches to make the cowl the length you want. Follow pattern of k1, p1 around and around until you reach the desired width, then cast off loosely.  My cowls are about 4.5 inches by 60 inches so they can be worn doubled or tripled around the neck.  As you can tell, the measurements do not need to be exact.

So that was Willow's Week of Thankfulness.  Do leave a comment and let me know what blessings you have noticed in your days this week.

Friday, March 20, 2015

It's My Party

Spring!  It's here!  After a few really really hot days (we broke local records kind of hot), the weather has settled into 70s and sunny.  Just in time for St. Patrick's Day and Spring.  And my birthday.  So Friday Fave Fives are all about celebrating my birthday.

1.  I hit a milestone birthday this year.  My Medicare birthday.  The Medicare part isn't the fave; it's that I am thankful (and a bit amazed) that I am that old.  Thanks be to God for giving me these years!

2.  The partying started on Saturday when the texts began binging.  "We're on our way."  "We crossed the state border."  "We're here!"  Our little Princess PAL arrived with her parents entourage for a four day visit.

3.  This is The Professor's Spring Break, so we took advantage of Monday did some sightseeing in Santa Barbara and Ventura.  PAL's mom's BFF and her family joined us from Orange County.  Their girl Faith was an instant friend for me.  We walked all over Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens holding hands.  Answering questions a mile a minute, I was enchanted by her curiosity and enthusiasm.

4.  Princess PAL attained her own milestone while visiting us.  She underwent a rite of passage, Dipping Your Feet in the Ocean for the First Time.  We were honored to attend such an important and solemn ceremony.

5.  I really am a St. Patrick's Day baby.  Born on that lucky day, I love the funny cards I receive. Like this one:  "Your birthday's on St. Patrick's Day?! [insert amusing green turtle looking surprised].  Inside, the message read, "You and a saint.  Go figure."  I think my sister/cousin watches all year to find the perfect card to send me.  My day was made complete with loves and cuddles from my little PAL and phone calls from every child and grandchild.  One grandson sent me a video message wishing me a Happy Birthday.  That's really all I want--love from my family.  Well, a birthday coffee and bookstore visit were nice, too.

Oxalis Oregana
(Did you know that there is an oxalis [shamrock/clover] which is native to the Pacific Northwest/Oegon?  How appropriate that is since I am an Oregon native and very much Irish/British AND born on St. Patrick's Day.)

So, that was Willow's Week in five birthday blessings--welcome to my party!