Good news! I just posted the Irish Soda Bread recipe at I Live on a Farm dot com. Hope you have some this weekend!
Just a few minutes ago I was out with Blu having one of our morning walks about the farm, when I heard the loud voices of Canadian geese speak up over by the corn behind our willow tree. I took Blu back in the house and grabbed my camera, with a good zoom lens on it, and went back out to see if I could grab some shots of the geese.
It was interesting to observe the various stages of their alertness and reaction to me. I have to admit, I would have looked strange even to humans because I was wearing jeans, my dark green fleece robe, my black “puffy coat” (J. Crew down–it was below freezing), my big black Sorell boots, and a pretty handmade hat. When duty calls, you just grab whatever it takes to keep warm and head outside, whether it is to take the puppy out for his business or to try to capture some wild geese on “film”.
At first, as I slowly drew near, they merely turned a bit away and started walking casually toward the corn. They weren’t saying anything, just casually moving a bit to keep their distance from me. When I was looking through the photos, that first one at the top of today’s post reminded of the movie, “Field of Dreams” … baseball players walking out of the corn.
At some point I was a bit too close for comfort, though honestly quite far away and very slow moving because of my strange wardrobe weighing me down. Nonetheless, they raised their voices in alarm, and up they went.
I loved the sound of their wings beating the air as they took refuge where they were certain I could not go … up.
I hope these photos are a visual treat for you, dear reader. This opportunity I have to shoot some photos quickly, get them into my computer, and then live to you when the moment is so fresh is exhilarating.
Thank you all so very much for the tremendous support and friendship you expressed in comments to my last post. This is an exciting adventure, and I look forward to finding where all it leads us … together.
Quite a few commenters mentioned they wished they could own a piece of my art, but that finances don’t allow it right now. I have some ideas that might help make that happen.
It is about 15″ x 22″, and I put it up for a very low opening bid of only $10. There is no reserve and no “Buy it Now” price. My thought is that at least someone who reads my blog will have a chance to have one of my paintings for who knows what price … perhaps something affordable.
I also have been gathering pieces of wood that have been coming off of our dear old barn. The barn is fragile, unfortunately. I might be able to do something to these small pieces of wood to prevent them from deteriorating further. If so, I plan to experiment with doing very small, quick oil paintings on them. If it all works out, they will be affordable little paintings with a very special significance to the readers of this blog in particular. The first experiment will go on this weekend, so we’ll see how it works out.
Have a great weekend.
Copyright © 2006 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
His name is Blu … our five-month-old puppy. He came to live with us one week ago, and of course, he owned us completely before his first twenty-four hours concluded. Someone in Florida rescued Blu because he began his life living in a crate in someone’s apartment. He was only allowed out of the crate to eat and do his business.
He made his way up to western New York after being rescued, and found his way into our home and hearts through our friends Andy and Mabel from church.
Oh, such love. Such adoration circulating amongst us.
[I made a recording of the peepers and the geese and other wildlife as we walked around the farm with Blu last evening. I do not yet know how to imbed it in my text so that it plays automatically. I will learn. For now, if you want to hear it, all I can do is offer you a file to download. You could do that and then play it while you read, if you wish. It is a little over two minutes long. When I downloaded it to my computer, I then had to right click on it and choose "Play with Media Player" in order to get it to play properly.]
When he first arrived his tail did not wag, but now it wags quite freely. He climbs up into my lap over and over and over again as I attempt to work at my computer. Sometimes he actually wraps his paws around my neck and holds on as if he were a small child or a monkey.
There is a chair in the living room at the farm designated as “the dog’s chair”. Other dogs have owned that chair before him. Our intention has been that when we were graced with a dog in our lives, he or she would have that dear chair for their own and we would not allow said dog to get on the other, “good” furniture.
That lasted about 23 seconds after my husband came home from work the first day Blu was here. I left the two of them alone in the living room for only a moment it seemed, and when I returned there was Blu in the good recliner with my husband, all snuggled up and exchanging love.
Oh well. Who could say no to this precious taupe colored bundle of gentle, devoted love. Neither of us can.
He was given to someone as a Christmas gift, but that someone did not want a dog. Fool, absolute fool. That is why he was condemned to a life of confinement. This creature with such an abundance of love–ready, willing, and able. Wasted on someone who had to have been spiritually deaf, blind, and dumb.
The first morning he was here, I took him out on a walk all around our farm and I said to him, “This is yours, Blu. All of this space, all of this freedom, this farm … it is yours boy.” He knows, and it shows in the appreciation he flows to us through his deep pool blue eyes and affectionate little ear and face snuggles.
Last evening, during golden hour, we walked around with him listening to the peepers, the geese, and many other creatures. The willow glowed, bathed in the evening’s golden rose-colored sunshine. Our impromptu pond reflected the blue sky and still bare , early spring vegetation.
Everything is coming back to life. Each morning and evening the din of voices rings out louder and louder … nature is out there whooping it up all around our property, in the trees, and down along the river.
My year in this place has come near full circle now–I first came to meet my husband and see the farm on March 30 last year. Now here we are all married and dogged up, and enjoying our first full-on springtime together.
Much of the time, you have been here with me, my dear reader. I enjoy your company and appreciate your kinship. So many of you have taken the time to express your thoughts about inspiration, aesthetics, gratitude, and friendship related to my humble contributions to the universe of blogs. It is all so encouraging; I feel truly blessed in so many ways including the knowing of you.
I would like to make one note about an issue that may have troubled some of my readers. A comment was made the other day by someone that my blog is somewhat less than genuine now because I am attempting to sell various things (paintings, yarn, one of my critters, advertising at my I Live on a Farm dot com website).
I do realize others may feel the same way.
At first, I was perturbed about the comment. It hurt, in actuality. I thought about it quite a bit and wondered if I should bring the subject up or leave it alone. I have decided to bring it up, because I think that attitude can affect others than just me adversely–so I speak.
Creative people, artists, earn their living (hopefully) by selling some part of their creativity and talent … exchanging something valuable for some money and then they have money to use to pay their bills, buy food, clothing, etc.
In my case I spend sometimes thirty hours or more in a given week writing the blog, shooting the photography, editing the photos, uploading everything, answering emails, planning new patterns, testing new designs, writing up patterns, testing recipes, writing them up, working on various elements of Gracious Parcels. Sometimes it has required more than thirty hours a week.
People seem to appreciate the effort.
When I am working on the blog and all of the related things listed above, I am not working for paying clients in my freelance writing business. This blog has taken over so much of my life, I have neglected to continue to create my freelance business. Something has to give, that is just the way life works.
At the first of the year, I faced the reality that I would need to extremely reduce what I was doing with the blog, or work out a way to make it bring in some income to replace the clients I am not serving now.
It seemed worthwhile to try to keep the blog going, because so much good seems to be coming from it for others. Several people have started their own Gracious Parcels projects, people have used my free patterns to make gifts for people they love, something about the things I have written inspire some people to make positive changes in their own lives, my words have soothed some number of aching hearts, given hope to others who are lonely, given some a nice little break from an otherwise tedious day.
If I have offended you in any way by attempting to find a way or ways to generate income from this work I do, the very cool thing is that you can withhold yourself from reading my blog. I will, and do, respect your choice in the matter.
Remember please: I am a professional artist and writer. This is my trade, and I am proud to be able to earn my living with my creative talents. It is a good, positive way to live.
We need more art, more creativity, and more inspiration in this aching tumultuous world. Artists make that happen. Their creativity soothes and makes sense of a troubled world.
Artists should not be led to feel bad or dirty or morally corrupt for seeking monetary exchange for what they flow out into the world.
I will continue to do all I can to generate income via my blog and my other websites. I hope that others will be inspired by my ability to do so, to give it a try themselves. In this way we might all flourish and prosper.
Most of my readers have been tremendously supportive and given nothing but encouragement, and for that, I offer my sincere gratitude.
On that note, I wanted to show you a photo of the painting I mentioned in my blog entry this past Monday (a larger photo can be seen at my One Painting a Day blog). This painting, along with my critter named “Little Nana”, is up for auction at eBay. There are beautiful yarns over in the Yarn Shop at I Live on a Farm dot com. You are invited to browse, enjoy, and spend money if you see something you want, but only if you wish. You are also invited to continue to merely enjoy my blog and my free patterns and recipes without spending anything at all. I made it all for you, for free, because you are my friend.
This is 100% Pure, Genuine Firefly.
Have a beautiful day, my good friends.
[Note: The auction for the Little Nana, the handmade Knitting Thistleonian critter, ends this Friday morning ... in case you are interested.]
I have learned many things, over the course of the past year, about New York State in general and western New York in particular. Of course, the most important thing I learned was that is there is such an area as “western” New York. It is even referred to as the Frontier Region. New York, a frontier. Interesting thought.
Another interesting fact is that, while people tend to think of Vermont as “the maple syrup state” (I know I did), much of the maple syrup production in this country actually occurs in New York State. Quite a few of the people we know make their own maple syrup; my husband and his family have made it a number of times over the years. The time will come, most likely next year, when I myself will stay up all night helping to tend fires and stirring a pot (or something) for hours on end and help in the process of making a few gallons of maple syrup.
We have quite a few maples growing on the bank of the river down by our cottage–that is where my husband’s family has gathered and made maple syrup over the years. His nephew’s farm, about two hours south of here, is larger than ours and he has quite a stand of woods along some hilly land where many maples grow. They have been hatching a plan for the making of much maple syrup down at his place using gravity rather than what–I don’t know. It does sound like fun though.
Something else to look forward to.
This weekend we went down to the Genesee Country Village and Museum for their Maply Sugaring Festival. They took us on a tour through the woods where they gather their syrup. The woods were lovely, dark, and deep. There were gorgeous and interesting rock outcroppings everywhere, covered with deep green moss. I haven’t seen so much moss in many years, not since I was a child playing in the woods in North Carolina. We used to gather moss in the woods back then to use as carpeting in our woodland playhouses. It was magical.
It was overcast and began raining as we made our way through the woods. I enjoyed hearing the sound of raindrops tapping branches, leaves, earth, and rock in the woods. It was also very interesting to learn about the effort and beauty of making maple syrup, from start to finish.
I now know what a sugar shack is: a little shack by the fires with the kettles that boil down the maple sap. The sugar shack has a little bed in it, and provides a bit of shelter. Now that I know about the twenty-four hour vigil involved in boiling down the sap in the journey toward syrup, I can understand a little shack would be needed. And, I get why it is called a sugar shack.
Each time we visit the Village, they have a recipe printed on the back of our tickets. This weekend’s recipe was for Irish Soda Bread. It is very similar to a soda biscuit recipe, but without the butter in the dough. I gave the recipe a try yesterday and was very happy with it. I added raisins, and used brown sugar instead of white. It was delicious, but my husband and I both agreed I could have used twice as many raisins … and next time I will.
The next time I post a blog entry, I will have my version of the recipe ready to share with you. Get ready with some buttermilk, flour, and raisins because when you get the recipe I think you will want to try it right away. Yummy.
I completed another post-card size painting, this time of two pears. It is titled “Two Pear on Stone Sill”, and you can see it at my painting a day blog if you like.
The scarf I am morphing my spring hat into is coming along quite lovely. Photos in my next post.
We are enjoying a beautiful thunder storm here right now. It is a dark and rainy day. I love it.
Hope you are enjoying yours!
Copyright © 2006 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED