When strangers lend a hand

January 29, 2007 at 3:11 pm | Posted in country living, dating, faith, family, free knitting patterns, knitting, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance | 19 Comments

Firefly Flies to New York to Meet Her HusbandToday is not a particularly special, momentus day for most of the world. We do have a beautiful, fresh layer of snow from a few hours of snowfall last evening. The cedar trees I see out my window have puff balls of snow covering them; little birds will come by and knock them all down as the day goes by in what will look like private little snowball fights with the snow covered ground below.
But for me, today is a particularly fine and special day.

The snow, the birds engaged in snowball fights, the woosh of cars driving past every now on then on snow covered roads … the beauty and grace of the place in which I live, is icing on my cake of life.

Fireflys Barn in May of Last YearA year ago today my now-husband first contacted me via email and three short months later I found myself sitting on the back door stoop here on the farm in New York watching him drive around the barn on his tractor, mowing the lawn.

Ten days earlier I had been living in the foothills above hot, crowded, cranky Los Angeles. I had lived there for thirty-six years. As I sat on the stoop, I was feeling quite dazed as I saw him take another turn around the barn.

The barn. I had a barn. And a husband. And he was on a tractor, mowing our huge lawn on our fifty acre farm. I had a farm. I was on our farm, in New York and I had a husband and he was driving a tractor. And we lived on a river. The world was suddenly green and vibrant and cool and lush. I was married … and dazed.

It had been early March, just five weeks after we first made contact via email, when we knew for certain we were going to be married. We had not met face-to-face, but we knew and there were no misgivings, only amazement. I knew for certain I had been tapped on the shoulder by God and the only prudent thing to do was to go with the flow. He felt it too.

So, in early March he bought airline tickets for me to fly to New York to meet him and the farm and the community and for us to verify what instinct and faith was guiding us to do. I would be flying there to meet him on March 30th, only three weeks forward. So much to do, so much excitement and enchantment.

Firefly Flies to New York to Meet Her HusbandThe day of my flight it was pouring rain in Los Angeles. As I made my way down a long flight of stairs with my heavily packed suitcase, I struggled with an umbrella hoping to keep some part of myself dry. My jeans were a little too long, and though I walked a bit on tiptoes, they inevitably got wet and became heavy and cold. They were low-rise jeans, and a little too large for me because I had been walking four miles a few times each week since the beginning of the year, and I had gone down a size. The weight of the water pulled on the bottom of the legs of my jeans and every few steps I had to stop and hitch them back up as I made my way through the parking area between the garages of the townhouse complex where I was temporarily renting a room. If anyone was watching, it was most likely a humorous sight.

Finally I made it to my car, but only after walking through some serious mud between the sidewalk and the curb. I was already running a bit late, and the heavy rain gave me cause to worry about traffic conditions on the way to the airport. What if I missed my flight. For a moment I thought of praying for the rain to let up but then I thought to myself, “Okay, so God has seen fit to lend a hand in my meeting the man I am going to marry after many years of being alone. And, what am I going to do, ask for the rain to let up on top of that.” No, I thought I would just stick with being incredibly grateful for the real miracle I was in the middle of and not mention anything about the rain.

Traffic was definitely heavy, but I decided to make up for the time by using the valet parking at Burbank airport, so I could just dash across to the terminal and hopefully get through security in time. Valet parking would be awfully expensive for five days of absence, but I was on my way to meeting him and nothing else seemed to matter very much.

Of course, that day there would be a snarl up at security … only one machine was working and the line went back, and back, and back, and back until it reached all the way to another terminal. Yikes.

I just kept reminding myself that I was going to meet him, and it would all be okay. Not to worry or fret, just get through the line and be grateful air travel is possible … no matter the hassels involved. I mean, really … don’t we all quibble about “inconveniences” when truly our lives are gloriously blessed with every ease and comfort imaginable (well, almost anyway). By means of the Internet and cell phones, long distance calling plans, airline travel and airports, valet parking and rolling suitcases, just to mention a few conveniences, I had an opportunity to find and meet my soul-mate though he lived more than 3,000 miles away. Did I really have anything in the world to complain about?

Firefly Flies to New York to Meet Her HusbandUh … no.

My flight plan would take me through Denver and Pittsburg, before catching a third flight into New York. I did make my first flight out of Burbank. There was a wonderful young man from Libya (or somewhere) sitting next to me. He was flying to Chicago to perform (he was a musician). He didn’t speak much English at all, but he and I found ways to communicate with each other. As it turned out, he was deathly afraid of flying. Unfortunately, the flight was very rough; the entire country seemed to be having bad weather that day. The shaking of the plane caused him to clench his fists and look quite terrified.

I distracted him by engaging him in more of our “conversation” and I also did what I could to communicate to him that the shaking of the plane was quite normal and not to be feared. It felt good to be able to help calm another person, especially someone who was suffering so. He showed me a photograph of his girlfriend, gave me one of his business cards, and someone or other I got it across to him that I was on my way to meet my fiance. Of course, he wasn’t technically my fiance yet, but he would be.

The flight from Denver to Pittsburg got off the ground late, and the flight schedule lengthened while we were in mid-air because of a huge storm hovering over the midwest. The plane had to fly north to avoid the storm, and was also slowed down by fighting against head winds much of the flight. The window of opportunity for me to make my connecting flight in Pittsburg was diminishing rapidly.

On that flight there was a very nice older couple returning home from vacation. I was feeling so terribly excited about meeting him, and I told the couple I was on my way to meet my fiance. I told them a little bit about our romance, and they were very excited for me too. I also told them I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make my connecting flight … the flight attendant had made an annoucement about that particular flight and that if it was missed there would be another one three hours later. Yikes, and double yikes. Stay calm, my beating heart.

Firefly Flies to New York to Meet Her HusbandWhen the plane finally landed I had about three minutes to get to the other gate. The older couple had a plan to try to help me make it; the woman said her husband was going to get up quickly when the plane touched down and block everyone behind us so that I could jump out and get off the plane as quickly as possible. That was pretty cool.

So, the plane touched down and he did his maneuver and out into the aisle I went. When I came off the ramp into the airport, there was a guy in a cart waiting for me specifically … I have no idea how that came to be, but he whisked me off and zoomed me through the airport trying to get me to the other gate. He walkie-talkied to the people at that gate to let them know he had me and was speeding me in their direction. They said they had already boarded, but that I might be able to make it. He was driving that cart so fast my hair was actually blowing out behind me. It was very exciting.

When we go to my gate I grabbed my bag and ran, not even paying attention to any details ahead other than … run – for – that – gate. When I got there I noticed there was one tall lean man … a passenger … standing at the desk, and no one else was around. The door was closed, and I could see the little commuter plane out on the runway, looking very much like it was about to head off down the runway.

I was stunned and disappointed, but I calmed myself down and gently visuallized myself on the little plane, arriving in New York on time.

Several agonizing minutes later, and flight attendant came in and looked at the man who was standing there waiting to get on the flight, then she looked at me. She sized us up, and said she would take me. Turns out, they were close to their weight limit and I was much smaller than him so I got my seat and off I went.

Firefly Lives on a RiverThat flight was noisy and bumpy, but I sat beside of a young man and I was so bursting with excitement I told him I was on my way to meet my fiance, who I had never met face-t0-face before. As it turned out, that guy had met his fiance online and things were working out very well for them. We had a very nice engaging conversation and before I knew it the flight had landed in New York.

My stomach was fluttering as I made my way off the plane and headed through the little terminal. I stopped in a restroom to freshen up, but my hands were shaking so much I couldn’t do much. It had been a long day of travel that started out with me getting very wet and damp in the rain in Los Angeles. Oh well, it was time to go out there and meet him no matter how my hair or makeup looked. He was right out there somewhere and that was all that mattered.

I have to end off here today. Thank you for reading my tale. It was a good day, a fine day … and it all stared one year ago this day. January 29th. A day I will always treasure.

I will also always treasure the memory of that day of travel to meet him for the first time. There was such a spirit of help, fellowship, and mutual cooperation on the various flights. I even told a male flight attendant on the fllight from Denver to Pittsburg that I was on my way to meet my fiance. He became very interested and wrote several places of interest in the upstate New York area on a napkin, suggesting I ask my fiance to take me to those places. That napkin is posted on our cork bulletin board by the front door to this day.

I treasure that wonderful sense of strangers, whose lives touched only momentarily by chance for the breifest breath of time. We were interested in each other, sharing joy and concerns and helping one another where help was needed. That too was a good and fne day.

Now you, have a wonderful day,


Free knitted scarf pattern

January 25, 2007 at 5:26 pm | Posted in Christmas, family, free knitting patterns, gifts, hat patterns, Holidays, knitting, Life, love, scarf patterns, shopping, women | 101 Comments

12-12-2012:  Catch up with me at my latest blog post  –> here.

This scarf pattern is available as a free Ravelry download with the latest updates and awesome yarn recommendations.  Click the link (words “free Ravelry download”) or search “New York Scarf – A Guy’s Woolie Warmer” on Revelry to get your free download

Check out my son’s Etsy shop, Flying Junction. He is an awesome urban graphic artist and photographer with a line of vintage-inspired subway signs, bus scrolls, urban typography maps, vintage maps, other cool urban art. He is the guy I designed this scarf and the matching hat for (see scarf pattern down below).

The New York Scarf for Guys … cozy, metrosexual style.  A slim scarf with clean, simple lines in an easy to knit pattern that is very enjoyable to knit.  (Free pattern further down the page.)  Equally at home out in the country or on city streets, this is a hand knit scarf men of all ages appreciate and actually wear.

Guys can be difficult creatures at times … and for a loving knitter, trying to come up with a hand knit gift for a guy that he will actually use can be a challenge. My son is a great example of a guy who a knitter (that’s me) loves dearly but who has very particular taste when it comes to things he will wear.

The first Christmas after I moved to New York from Los Angeles, I wanted to knit a hat and scarf for my son that he could (and would) use when he came to New York to visit at Christmas. I wanted something that would suit his style and taste, while also providing some much-needed warmth for the northern, winter climate. If I knit him something he didn’t want to wear, I wasn’t going to get very far in helping to keep him warm, now was I?

So, I designed this scarf (see pattern below) and the matching hat. The cool thing is, it worked! He loved both the scarf and the hat and has used them every time he comes to New York. He has even found opportunities here and there to use the scarf in particular in Los Angeles in the cold months, whenever they manage to have some of those.

Over the past five years thousands of knitters have come to this page to pick up this free scarf pattern. Hundreds and hundreds of others have purchased the pattern for the complete set (New York Hat and Scarf). The paid for pattern includes my personal recipe for double chip cookies I gave to my son along with his hat and scarf when I first sent them (guys love that cookie recipe).

It is very heartwarming to me to know that knitters all over the world have been using my pattern to make these two items for the guys in their lives and that those guys are actually loving and wearing their hand knit hat and scarf. The feedback has been awesome, and it just continues and continues.

My son, in the meantime, started a new business (Flying Junction) designing and selling vintage-inspired authentic looking subway roll signs and bus scroll prints representing various neighborhoods in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Washington D.C., and Atlantic City. (He also makes custom signs with the same vintage-distressed look–if requested–that his signs and prints have.)

He has worked as a professional artist and graphic designer for more than ten years. His t-shirt designs (online, in exclusive boutiques, and recently carried in several Urban Outfitters stores) have been worn by celebrities around the globe and are frequently spotted in celebrity photos, television productions, and music videos.

His prints and canvas signs are inspired by original subway signs and bus scrolls dating back to the early 1900’s. He uses hand-lettering techniques to create authentic, vintage looking reproductions of the original signs and scrolls. He says:

“I believe that taking the time and care in my work to come as close to the originals as possible gives the viewer a more powerful feeling of connection with the cities and times represented. “

I’m telling you about this here because I have an idea for an extra special guy on your list. Knit him the New York Hat and Scarf and give that to him along with at least one of my son’s NYC (or another city) subways roll signs. Bake up a batch of the cookies (recipe is included for free in the Hat and Scarf pattern) and give it all to him as a themed gift package.

More Patterns from J. L. Fleckenstein and I Live on a Farm –>


Copyright © 2006 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I think he’s pretty

January 22, 2007 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Christmas, country living, faith, family, free knitting patterns, knitting, marriage, photography, scarf patterns, yarn | 16 Comments

Fireflys Snow Barn in January

Snowing, snowing, snowing. Yesterday morning it was six degrees when we got up … sweeeet!

I shot the photo of our barn from one of my bedroom windows. This photograph makes me feel as if I were flying when I took it. You know, like in one of those flying dreams. Sometimes I have flying dreams where I can just sort of fly straight up into the air and hover. This photograph is just what that would be like.

Firefly Finds This Horse to be Quite PrettyThe snow that began gathering about a week and a half ago is still here, and more is sifting down from the sky as I type. Last Sunday morning I was responding by email to comments people left on one of my blogs and as I typed I saw something larger than normal fall past the window. It was snowing lightly at the time, but something caught my eye. I kept typing, and a few more large objects went by the window. So I stopped to watch and see if I could catch sight of whatever it was. There were clumpy snowflakes falling here and there that looked more like small snowballs rather than snowflakes … and of course they were balls of snow. Soon they were falling rapidly. Being heavier than single snowflakes they fell straight down. It was very unusual and almost humorous to see, as if some giant were up there dropping them down, hoping to hit something interesting like an unsuspecting human or the like.

As it continued to snow and I continued to answer emails, horse-drawn Amish carriages began going by, on their way to their church services. There are quite a few Amish families living in our area, and every Sunday morning before we leave for church several Amish carriages go by. It is a quaint and charming sight, and one of the things I cherish about life here. I long to photograph them, but I withhold myself because I don’t want to intrude or treat them like an oddity. I hope they feel a sense of brotherly love as they go by our place, because it is here.

There He is AgainIn the winter their carriages are closed up tight, and you don’t see the people at all. Their horses are elegant and lean, beautifully dignified creatures. In the morning their gait is slow, as they are pulling the carriages uphill; one horse to a carriage. In the afternoon, however, as they go back home on a downward slope, they go prancing by, swift and full of energy.

In the spring and summer months they use open carriages, and I get to see the families as they go by. The boys and men wear straw hats and colorful shirts with blank pants and jackets. The women and girls wear bright and colorful dresses and aprons and pretty bonnets. The women are usually holding a baby in their arms, the children sometimes get to hang their legs off the back.

Last week one afternoon when my husband came home from work we went on a drive to capture what moments we could on camera, when the snow was still fresh and clean. Not far down the road from our place I asked him to stop the car when I saw a group of cows standing all together on a small rise. Though snow covered the ground thick everywhere else, under the cows green grass was still visible. One lone cow stood off to the side … I had to wonder why. They were a bit curious as I stood by the road photographing them; I may have been the only interesting thing that had happened to them all day long.

Funny Snow Cows on Fireflys Photo DriveFurther along, we found a horse grazing by a fence near the road. I photographed him from the car. At first he was shy, keeping his head behind a fence post. I blew him kisses and told him I thought he was very pretty, and then he put his head out front and gave me a nice pose. He stood there patiently, allowing me to snap several shots of him … and I do think he’s pretty.

Before returning home we stopped by our friend Dorothy’s house to check in on her husband; he had surgery last week and we wanted to pay them a personal visit. As we were leaving, they asked us to stop off in their barn and grab a bucket of apples to take home … which we did with gratitude. The people next to them had worked up some snowmen in their yard, and I found their poses and positioning to be very interesting.

Snow Men in Fireflys AreaI finished knitting my son’s scarf. I need to block it a bit and get it in the mail to him right away. He is going up to the mountains soon and the scarf will be needed there. I am also knitting up a blanket for his new puppy with leftover Lion’s brand Suede yarn from the nap blanket I made for my mother-in-law for Christmas. It will be a quick project because it will only be about two feet square. Photos and patterns for both the scarf and the puppy blanket will be available on my next blog.

I need to go heat up my tea and tend to some other matters. Hope you are enjoying whatever weather you have, and that you are sipping a nice cup of tea or coffee as you read.

Best to you and yours,


Copyright © 2006 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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