Thursday, January 29, 2015

The End of January? Already?

Can it be the last days of January already?  This first month of 2015 has flown by.  I am glad I have the Friday Fave Fives to make me stop in the whirlwind which is my life and give account of the blessings of the week.


1.  After way too many months, I finally finished this shawl.  Made from my handspun alpaca fiber, it is something with which I'm quite pleased.  The finished and blocked size is 26 inches by 84 inches.  The pattern, Bird's Nest Shawl, can be found in Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle.  The recipient, she who I call 'the world's best neighbor' looks lovely all wrapped up in it.

2.  My mother taught me by example to notice and appreciate the beauty in the world around me.   I'm not usually one to rise before or with the sun.  In winter, it's a bit easier since the sun lies abed later.  I do love watching that busy old fool, unruly sun, gliding over the hilltop behind my house and pushing through the high fog--if I'm awake.


3.  Truly, I'm more likely to be attentive and appreciative of sunsets.  The mountains across El Camino Real to the south glowed with gold in the sunset.


And to the north behind my house, the setting sun highlighted the rock outcropping which stuck up from the green grasses.


4.  January is nearly finished.  I will need to trim the mandarin orange tree.  So the last few ripe fruit will be eaten this week.  I try to ration them out because I love them so much.


5.  My dear friend, The Blueberry Lady, dropped by and delivered---blueberries!  Freshly picked and frozen by her, these berries are now in my freezer and waiting to be consumed with my breakfast cereal.  As much as I love my local blueberries, handpicked with love, the best part was sitting and chatting and sharing a cup of tea.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Books, Birds, Birthdays and Veggies

This week's Friday Fave Fives is focusing on the little blessings that I noticed throughout the week.  Nothing profound or particularly significant.  Some weeks are like that, and that's OK.

1.  The Professor's car has been been at the mechanic's shop so we have been sharing my car I have been driving him to the university.  I am always struck with the beauty of the campus with its California mission architecture and its signature 'bell tower'.   I'm thankful that his place of work is so pleasant. (And his four classes are full with waiting lists...)


2.  I love where I live.  Did you eat any fresh vegetables this week?  Those vegetables might have come from my county.  These cabbages are growing in the fields between our neighborhood and the university.

 Support Ventura County agriculture.
Eat more cruciferous vegetables!

Are these little lettuce plants?


A lemon orchard


3.   Even the herons love living here.  Finally, there's a bit of water in the river beds.


4.  It was Son #2's birthday this week.  He is a remarkably content young man.  I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, and his reply was simply, "Nothing.  My birth and life is gift enough."  I think I'll take him out for Ethiopian food next time he visits.

5.  I discovered that my Thursday TA loves Elizabeth Goudge's books as much as I do.  Whenever we chat between classes or at the end of the morning, we discover more and more reasons we just 'click' as people.  It's a great blessing to have a congenial and dynamic woman to work with.  And obviously, if she reads Elizabeth Goudge's novels, she's a perceptive, brilliant, discerning reader, too. Right?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sunshine

These photos are especially for those of you who are snow bound in northern places where the sun refuses to shine.  May they cheer you up!  All of these hills were burned in The Springs Fire in May 2013.  Since we have had some rain this winter, they are now verdantly green.





Just so you know, not every day is sunny.  This morning's fog covered the entire Oxnard Plain and shrouded the Santa Monica Mountains.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rain and Shine

Hello!  It is time for Friday Fave Fives.  What kind of a week have you had?  I hope you have found some things in your week that have encouraged and blessed you.

1.  Last weekend we had rain.  This rain was a slow, steady, soft rain which nourished our parched hillsides but didn't cause any more mudslides.  We are at our 'normal' rain fall averages this season after three years of drought, and we desperately need rain.  Gentle rain in its season is a wondrous thing.

2. The weather has warmed up considerably.  Thursday's temperature was 76F.  That means we could get outside and mess around in the new shed to put away the tools and camping equipment that has been sitting outside in the rain and dust.  Evening walks have been more pleasant.  And I puttered around in the garden in the sun.

3. We replanted the native California rye plants and buckwheat in the front garden.   They had been languishing in pots for the past three months waiting to be transplanted after their home was destroyed and rebuilt.  Every time I turn into the driveway and see them there, I smile.

4. I finally pulled my camera out and shot some close up photos of this:


Rosemary twigs cut from my garden.
I think the flowers resemble tiny orchids.


5.  I'm a definite proponent of simplicity and I loved this post by Joshua Becker about "Jumpstarting your Decluttering".

Bonus:  Reading these words from Mother Teresa.  I know I have posted this before, but every time I read them, I am deeply moved.  Both comforting and challenging.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

Thursday, January 08, 2015

High Five

Five seems to be the number of the week.  As usual, I am posting my Friday Fave Fives, but before I do, here are my other 'fives':
Number of classes taught: 5
Number of hats knitted: 5
Number of buckets of yard debris gathered: 5
Number of episodes of BBC's All Creatures Great and Small based on James Herriot's books watched:  5

Number of photos taken:  0.  It has been one of those weeks.  I have seen some beautiful sunsets but of course I didn't have my camera with me.  But I have been going through my photos from 2014 and trying to choose some of my favorites.  I'll be posting them over the weekend (so come back and enjoy the views).

Here's one---a favorite sunset photo from January 2014.



1.  We have internet at home!  I am actually posting this from my own house on my own wifi.  After three weeks of enjoying the hospitality of Starbucks internet access, we are finally hooked up to our carrier and we can even watch our favorite TV shows and movies again.

2.  On the topic of TV shows--my nephew and his company were featured on Tiny House Hunting!  So proud of Derin and Shelter Wise, his tiny house company.  We watched the episode on fyi.tv this week.  What do you think of tiny houses?

3.  This week I spent a few hours in the garden and finally cut back the rose bushes.  Believe it or not, there were at least a dozen roses still blooming.  I clipped them and gave them to a home bound neighbor.  Her great joy in receiving them made my day.

4.  We have a new storage shed.  It was delivered and assembled on Tuesday and we are already moving our gardening tools and camping gear in.  The best part is that the shed is slightly larger than our old one so there is room to keep our bikes in there.

5.  I've been in a bit of a funk on knitting--not that I'm not knitting but I was becoming a bit bored with knitting hats and more hats.  Switching to making little hats for the local NICU (newborn intensive care unit)  has got me going again.  I can quickly knit up at least one little itty bitty hat every day.  There's a sense of accomplishment and the pleasure of knowing I am blessing a baby and its family.  And it's bringing joy back to my art.

These are the things that encouraged and blessed me this week.  What about you?

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Beginning

January.  New Beginnings.  I read these stanzas from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Ring Out, Wild Bells"

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

I agree.  The old year is gone.  Ring in the new, the true.

As I wrote earlier this week, my word for 2015 is LIVE.  I want to live simply, healthfully, mindfully, devoutly and thankfully.  As part of my LIVING thankfully, I will be continuing to post my Friday Fave Fives every week.

1.  It has been cold here in Southern California.  At least, it has been cold for us.  Really cold.  Don't snort, all you northerners, but it was 30F this morning.  Below Freezing.  We are not used to this and we're not equipped for it, either.  I'm so thankful for a warm home which has a functioning furnace, for hot coffee, for a cashmere sweater and a hat and a scarf and gloves to add to my fleece jacket to fend off the frigid temperatures.


(yes, the camellias are blooming)

2.  We still don't have internet or cable at home.  I'm thankful for our local coffee and mobile hot spot (also called Starbucks) which allows us yummy drinks and internet access daily.  In fact, it's where I am right now typing this.

3.  I'm thankful for long time, special friends.  On Sunday I met up with an old Oregon friend who is now living off and on south of LA helping her parents.  Years ago, we homeschooled together and we still keep in touch.  We had a great time catching up.  It amazes me that sometimes friends grow in the same way I have and we end of being even closer than we were before.  It's like we're sisters.  I can't wait for her to return from her east coast visit so we can continue all those conversation trails we started.

4.  The Autry Museum is across the road from the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park.  We've been wanting to visit the Route 66 exhibit there and New Years Day turned out to be the best time.  Bonus:  it was freeeee!

5.  I'm thankful for being able to live healthfully. We have been walking regularly again.  I love walking the streets of my neighborhood and I'm thankful the mud has been mostly cleared and we can safely navigate the streets now.  Those daily three mile walks do make a difference.

What are you thankful for this week?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Live

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?