I call her “Rhoda”

May 25, 2007 at 6:09 pm | Posted in country living, faith, family, flowers, free knitting patterns, gardening, gifts, Holidays, knitting, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, yarn | 30 Comments

The Beginnings of RhodaI used to say this flower was a rhododendron. I created an oil painting of one of the blossoms and titled the painting “Rhododendron” because that is what I thought she was (I have since renamed the painting to avoid confusion.).

One morning last spring I went out to the street to bring in the newspaper and something on the right of our garage caught my eye. Large pink … no, huge pink flowers where there had been no flowers. I remember gasping, literally. I ran inside and got my camera to capture the phenomenon for proof or reference material for my paintings or something.

Last year’s blossoms were at least ten inches across when I first saw them. I could not understand how I could have missed something so magnificent. Such large, lush blossoms would certainly have been there waiting patiently to be noticed and appreciated but I only discovered them as they were beginning to fade. How could I have been so unobservant?

Fireflys Rhoda Flower Shows a BudThis year I have been determined to watch and catch their every developing stage. I wanted to witness the magic that was the gigantic “rhododendron” flowers first-hand this time.

Rhoda, as I have come to call her, has been growing right there in that spot for more than twenty five years or something. She was here when my husband’s parents bought the place more than twenty years ago. Somehow she has survived my husband’s unique landscaping philosophy (“If I can’t mow it, I don’t grow it”–everyone around here knows him for that philosophy) .

She is beautiful. I love and treasure her though I have only known her one year. Bless whoever planted her, whenever, such a long time ago. Bless my husband for not mowing her down completely curing the years he owned the place, before I came.

I know now that she is not a rhododendron, she is a tree peony. The problem is that I have referred to her as a rhododendron for an entire year, and I have called her Rhoda so often in my mind that I am having trouble replacing the word and the name with “tree peony” … not that there’s anything wrong with “tree peony”, it just isn’t in there in my mind or on my tongue.

Fireflys Rhoda Flower Shows a Bud and it Opens a BitIn my mind, I have created a new kind of hybrid plant. She is the Rhododendron Peony. She isn’t hybrid in the traditional sense of the word, she is hybrid only in my mind, in my imaginative universe and it is only her name that is hybrid.

Her name is Rhoda.

Oh, and now I know how I failed to notice her magnificent display last year until it was almost too late. She blooms so quickly and fades so fast that you really have to be watching or you might miss it. Every morning and every evening for the past few weeks I have been checking on her, watching her buds as they developed. I knew that at some point a huge blossom would peak out. I was amazed that something as large as the flowers I saw last year could possibly fit inside those blossoms.

Yesterday morning I went out to have a peak at her and oh … my … goodness. There she was, one blossom fully opened over night when there had not even been a hint of pink just the night before.

Fireflys Rhoda Flower Opens MoreI have been tracking the opening of the other blossoms with the camera, and sadly having to watch the lovely first blossom so young and vibrant and full of life only yesterday morning fade too quickly, almost before my eyes.

Thanks to my digital camera, I will always have Rhoda and her blooms to brighten any day.

The painting I did of her was in gray scale, but I plan on doing more in color. She is far to beautiful not to paint frequently.

And now my reader, I give you … Rhoda.


Fireflys Rhoda Blooms Beautifully in May

Fireflys Rhoda Blooms Beautifully in May

Fireflys Rhoda Blooms Beautifully in May

Copyright © 2007 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Free patterns posted for sweater and shortcake

May 23, 2007 at 3:14 pm | Posted in baby, biscuit recipes, country living, family, food, free knitting patterns, Holidays, knitting, knitting for babies, love, photography, recipes, yarn | 9 Comments

Just a note to let you know I have posted the teddy bear sweater pattern, and the strawberry shortcake recipe.

Have a beautiful day.


Buttoned up

May 21, 2007 at 2:33 pm | Posted in biscuit recipes, charity knitting, Christmas, country living, dogs, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, gifts, Habitat for Humanity, knitting, love, marriage, pets, photography, recipes, relationships, romance, volunteerism, yarn | 16 Comments

Fireflys Vintage Button ShopI enjoy shopping for buttons, picking out special buttons for a particular project.

I especially enjoy shopping for buttons now because it consists of grabbing a cup of tea and heading to the comfy sofa in our sitting room to sort through my treasure bowls and tins of vintage buttons (graciously gifted to me by Dorothy and Winnie, friends of ours at church).

There is a small oil painting I recently created of one of the vintage buttons in the photo above up for auction at eBay. Take a look, if only to see the painting and see if you can find the button from the painting in the photo above … that could be fun.

Fireflys Hand Knit Teddy Bear Sweater with Vintage ButtonsThis morning’s task was to find buttons to put on the teddy bear sweater of my own design I just finished knitting. The sweater isn’t anything particularly fancy. It was more of an exercise in getting into the swing of designing and knitting sweaters; a precursor to designing and knitting a sweater for myself.

Blu watched and followed my every move, giving me his opinion here and there. My teddy bears were on the fireplace mantle watching the process as well, wondering which bear would get the sweater. I could almost hear them saying, “Ooh, ooh … pick me, pick me!”

I decided to use three mix-matched buttons on the front button band, but I also decided to use two round leather-covered buttons to secure the collar, hopefully making the sweater look a little more masculine. That was necessary because I decided to give the sweater to D. L. Merrill, one of the larger Boyd’s Bears added to my collection by my children one Christmas.

FIreflys Teddy Bear Models his Hand Knit SweaterHe liked the sweater and was more than willing to sit for a photo shoot, joined by a number of little buddies. Blu was an excellent consultant on the shoot, but that almost goes without saying. (See photos of Blu helping with photo shoots at the I Live on a Farm website.)

The pattern for this teddy bear sweater will be available a little later in the week.

Yesterday was a cool, rainy day. We spent the entire afternoon cuddling, napping, and watching a bit of television. I also took the opportunity to work on one of the Gracious Parcels blankets. I’ve got six out of seven strips of seven 7″ squares sewn together. Tonight I will finish the last strip and over the next couple of days I’ll sew the strips together and one blanket will be ready. If I could set aside most of one day for hand sewing I could complete one blanket in a day, but I don’t ever have an entire day I can set aside for anything so I make time where I can.

Close up of Vintage Button PlacementFortunately, the Habitat for Humanity house we are building isn’t quite ready for the family to move in, so the blankets will be completed in time to be given as a house warming gift, in spite of my limited sewing time.

Knitting and sewing–even writing for that matter–are slower going these days because I now have a fifty-pound (and growing) puppy who prefers to be on my lap whenever I am sitting anywhere. He is soft, and warm, and full of love…very difficult to say no to. When I knit, he gets up on the sofa and lays right up against me with his head, and as many other parts of him as he can fit, on my lap. As I sewed squares together yesterday, he kept changing his position in an attempt to get himself onto the squares. He loves blankets and he must have known those squares were destined to be a blanket of some kind. It was an amusing challenge to work around him.

Gracious Parcels Spring 07 Blanket Number One in ProgressYesterday I also made a strawberry shortcake from a recipe of my Grandma Johnson’s which I have adapted to my way of baking. The problem with this “short” cake is that it tends to come out large. The shortcake itself is about fourteen inches in diameter after baking. By the time it is cut in half and layered with strawberries and whipped cream, it is a very magnificent looking dessert. I will post a recipe for my version of the shortcake later this week.

Other farm news is that the grasses and dandelions are growing so rapidly on the three acres of lawn around the farm house and barn that we have no choice but to get the tractor out and mow more than once a week. My husband also has to get over to our cottage, a few miles down the road, to mow that lawn as well. I help him with the mowing at the farm; I take care of the area back behind the willow tree in front of the corn field north of the barn, from the road over to the other corn field to the east of the house. I also take care of the large area of lawn all along the eastern corn field, between there and the trees by our driveway.

Being out on the tractor for a while a couple of times a week is a wonderful experience. I appreciate the fact that my husband accepts my help with the chore, and that he lets me use his favorite toy: the tractor. Seeing deep blue skies above our corn fields, the woods, the neighbor’s fields, and our farm is beautiful and serene. The warmth of the sun mixed with the inevitable cool spring breezes in the air feels good inside and out. I feel myself expanding and filling up the largeness of open space before me. Ahh, the calm happiness of open farmland.

Fireflys Strawberry ShortcakeBirds fly here and there, landing on tree stumps, limbs, chopped off cornstalks, and what-have-you watching me do my work. I can even hear some of their voices calling out as I pass by the trees out behind our barn. They seem very interested in the work I am doing and have quite a lot to say to each other–or perhaps to me–as I go.

On that note, I suppose I will end off for the morning. Hope you have a wonderful day, getting going on a wonderful week.

Thanks for stopping by.


Copyright © 2007 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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