My vintage heart

February 12, 2007 at 4:55 pm | Posted in country living, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, health, Holidays, knitting, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, Valentine's Day, yarn | 24 Comments

Thank you to all the readers who have checked out the new I Live on a Farm website. Today I posted some free Valentine eCards there … in case you would like to take a look or send one.

Fireflys Vintage Heart Made of ButtonsWe continue to enjoy a cold and snowy winter here. Each day more snow falls, if even for only an hour or so. I am more relaxed now when I go out in temperatures below 10 degrees … I still feel the cold, but it doesn’t make me tense up the way it did at first. I have had to, on a number of occasions, go outside early in the day to take the trash to the road or run an errand or such. I can get out there and scrape snow and ice off the truck in zero degree weather and not particularly think about the fact that it is cold. In fact, it is actually fun to face the elements and best a storm, when given an opportunity to.

A week ago, we had an emergency situation after dinner one evening. It was snowing wicked heavy and strong gusts of winds were blowing. My husband drove us along, in white-out after white-out and got us to where we were going safely. The view from inside a moving vehicle when the wind blows snow so dense you can’t see anything beyond your own windshield is frightening. However, I didn’t feel frightened or scared even one time as he drove. He has lived here his entire life … and he has skills.

Afterwards, though I would have liked not to have had the emergency situation in the first place, I was grateful that something in life had gotten us out into that weather together. I came away with a warm and comforting feeling that he and I can indeed weather any storm, and best the elements together whatever life may bring.

For several days in a row last week various elements of a difficult and trying situation needed to be faced and dealt with. In the beginning I felt tense and worn out, willing to face whatever had to be faced but wishing very much it didn’t have to be faced.

Fireflys Barns in the Community in the SnowA few days later though, I was driving along one of our pretty country roads, with beautiful snow everywhere, drifts blowing across here and there. As I drove I was of course thinking about the events of days and the day I was in. I started seeing the faces, one-by-one, of the various people who had helped in one way or another in the parade of difficulties I had been feeling enveloped in.

Then my attention shifted from resisting a difficult situation, to thinking only about the subject of help. When I focused on that aspect of it, I saw several days of beautiful experiences, and beautiful people all pulled together in various ways to do one simple thing … help.

The opportunity to help one another brings out the best any of us has to offer. It is an interesting thing, because help benefits both the person receiving the help and the person giving the help. Helping someone else, coming to someone’s aid and knowing you did something that actually touched another person, is one of the most profoundly simple and beautiful feelings that can be experienced … in my humble opinion. Perhaps it is a divine pay off for doing that which you are best suited for. And I think helping one another is what we are each best suited for.

What about you, do you think help is possible?

Fireflys Barns in the Community in the Snow 2As I drove along I realized the emergency and subsequent “difficulties” were in fact a blessing, and that when I was struggling with it all and resisting and tensing up and feeling worn out, it was all because I wasn’t getting it. Life had presented an beautiful opportunity to find resolutions and friendship and warmth from a somewhat broad range of people right here in this sweet community I now live in. It was all a good thing, and the entire experience was something I had every reason to be grateful for.

How many times am I going to learn this lesson in life? I was sure it had already gotten through my thick head … embrace life, whatever happens, whatever comes my way. It is all good, it is all a part of the adventure. Every bit and speck and piece and parcel of offers something to be sincerely grateful for if I maintain a healthy perspective.

I am pretty certain I will learn the lesson again and again throughout my life. Many times I will keep this lesson learned in my heart at the outset of events, rather than remembering as I gaze through a rear-view mirror. Other times I will be thick-headed and cause myself stress and distress unnecessarily, and then later recall the lesson again through that ever clear rear-view mirror.

That’s cool. I can take it.

And, now that I am no longer alone … we can take it.

We can best life’s storms and thoroughly enjoy the elements, together.

Fireflys Oil Painting of the Summer Vacation Spot in CaliforniaMeanwhile, back at the farm … I knitted a pretty hat for my daughter last week and am working on putting together a kit so people could order the yarn and pattern together over at my new I Live on a Farm website. I will continue to design and offer free knitting patterns there, but I want to work up some kits as well.

I also complete an oil painting yesterday. This is a scene from a family summer vacation spot in California, south of Lake Tahoe. I haven’t given the painting a name as yet, but the name will come to me within a few days most likely.

I painted this for my son; it is about 18″ x 24″.

Here’s to storms, and here’s to love,


Copyright © 2006 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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  1. I absolutely LOVE your button Valentine heart. How very clever!

    Driving in white-out conditions are horrifying. We’ve been through them at our mountain cabin when you have ZERO landmarks to navigate by. Where oh where is that road ? Not much fun under any circumstances, and yours sounded stressful indeed.

    I certainly hope you and hubby are fine … ?

  2. oops … forgot to comment on the painting. You are one talented lady! Beautiful painting; very realistic. I’m impressed! 🙂

  3. The button-heart is beautiful and really clever. I have filed it under “Damn, why couldn’t I think of that?”, haha.

  4. Your button heart is very pretty.

    It is very hard to see a difficult situation as a good thing when you first into it. It isn’t until everything/everyone starts to come together that the picture becomes clearer. Like a painting. At first it’s just colour here and there, but the more layers that go down, the more the idea shows through.

    Your painting is beautiful. I seem to be stuck on anticipation. It’s as though the lake, the boat and the scenery are all holding their breath awaiting the rower.

  5. Love the button heart!

  6. Thanks for sharing your experience with others. I know it was hard at the time and you are wise to be able to look back and see the good and the blessing that came from it.

    The picture of the button Valentine is great! And the boathouse painting if wonderful, just like being there. Thanks for it all,


  7. Once again you’ve done another beautiful work of art-before I read your comments, I thought you decided to post a summer “photo” just to warm us up! Very nice painting!
    As to weathering the storms of life, it reminds me of a Bible lesson that’s been helpful to me lately: I Peter 5:7: “Casting all your cares upon Him, for He careth for you.” How many times do I give my problems/struggles to the Lord only to take them back again and worry & fret over them? I’m working on this principle alot, it seems. Like you, I’m going over & over the same ‘life lesson’, hoping to someday have passed this stepping stone. Just proves we’re all human; and we’re all ‘learning.” Glad to be on this ‘walk’ with you!

  8. I pray that you and your husband have a wonderful Valentine’s day.
    Thanks for the wake up call. I often think about things I can do, but I don’t often think of things people do for me.
    Thank you.

  9. Love the button heart! As for the painting, it takes my breath away, so peaceful and beautiful.

  10. Although I love the barn photos, and your beautiful painting and the ‘button’ heart, the phrase, ‘through the rear-view mirror’ triggered something in me. I hope I look at life through the windshield and live it in the moment and do not spend all my time looking through the rear-view mirror at what had been.
    However, that said, rear-view mirror views are memories and I could not live without them, but I do try to look forward and make the most of what is to come.
    Help – both wonderful to give and receive!

  11. Love your painting.

  12. What a gorgeous painting – you have a wonderful talent there. As to driving in the white out – I have never experienced conditions like those, but my part of the United Kingdom was brought to a standstill by between two and five inches of snow last week – this is how unused to this weather we are! It snowed for two days and then all vanished within about another two. I do love the snow though, and am really enjoying your photographs of your local area. Have a wonderful first married Valentine’s Day with your husband tomorrow!

  13. Beautiful writing!

    Thank you!

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours!

  14. Beautiful photos! I loved reading this entry.

    xo… Z ~

  15. Love your red buttonny heart and your painting too. Hope all settles down. Maybe just the shock factor when things wrong is what makes us go into a defensive mode? You’re only human, and a good one at that. My best thoughts and good wishes are being sent your way.

  16. Firefly,

    As usual you make me stop and think about my own life…what changes I can make or am I doing ok. Yes we are human, it’s that human side that makes us afraid or worried or tense. I do the same thing in emergencies and I tell myself give it over to the Lord and there is where I find peace. Is it the first thing I think of unfortunately not. Don’t be so hard on yourself, we are all learning this lesson.
    Love the painting, your son will too! What a great idea with the buttons too!
    The weather in Indy has been quite a challenge today. Lots of snow, wind and freezing rain but I got to stay home from work with my kids and that was wonderful! Looks like we may be home again tomorrow, I can’t wait!
    Stay warm and thanks for sharing as always.

  17. Thank you for posting the Valentine E-cards. I send them to my family and they all commented on how beatiful your pictures are. Thanks very much.

  18. Oh wow… I was sure that painting was a photo!!! It is gorgeous… you should call it Tranquility or Expectations. As someone else commented, it looks as if the rower(s) are going to jump out on the jetty any second.

    Looking forward to your kits 🙂

    Cheers Eva

  19. Thanks for the ecard, it is lovely and I just sent it to two quilting friends. I also enjoyed your musings on help–much food for thought there.

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  20. what you are expriencing is your spiritual sancitification process. “Line upon line, grace to grace”. The brake through you had got you one step ahead. Most people don’t “see” it. All they see is the hardtime, the problem, how it hurt, negitively affected them. You saw pass that. The reward for service is what you felt. Love you painting. I to, paint. I painted alot before I had kids, then had to switch to knitting, crocheting, or cross stitch. It was much neater then wiping oil paint off the 2 and 4 year olds hand. I need to paint more. You are an inspiration.

  21. Your website is so uplifting.

  22. I love old buttons. I gravitate towards them in thrift stores & antique malls. They are magical. Not only are the designs wonderful, but they represent both time past, history, and the future. Where was each button sewn in the past…and where will it be sewn in the future? When my boys were little I replaced their coverall buttons with the vintage variety…and I rescued those buttons when the coveralls were outgrown. Oh, and certain buttons absolutely make you knit something magical to sew them on. Your button heart is just lovely. Happy Valentine’s Day! Kathleen

  23. What a beautiful painting, and a wonderful, thoughtful blog entry.

  24. The button heart is delightful!
    As are your paintings.
    I bought several color sorted cards of vintage buttons years ago and something like that would be a great use for them.
    I came upon the name of your blog in a search that turned up on my site meter. Glad I did.

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