Magic moments of light

July 25, 2007 at 2:46 pm | Posted in 4th of July, blogging, country living, dating, dogs, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, gifts, knitting, love, marriage, pets, photography, relationships, romance, scarf patterns, summer, yarn | 19 Comments

In my photography and painting, it is the magic of light and shadow I love most and hope most to capture and communicate. When I look at life outside our livingroom window, or driving down a country road, or as I wait on the bank of the river by our cottage while my husband mows the lawn, I see bits and pieces of light at times that cause me to catch my breath because in those fleeting moments of perfect light I see God.

In Western New York I find many magic moments of light in my mornings and evenings. Golden hour, that ninety minute interval in early morning and again each evening when light turns gold and shadows long, is especially lovely here because of our latitude and also because of the lush growth of trees and shrubs.

More Magic Golden Light at Fireflys CottageThe many branches heavy with leaves crowded together in tight stands create a fantastic texture of light and shadow, casting singular momentary importance on a portion of trunk, a piece of lawn, a particular wild flower. The light gently points out the fact that we are surrounded with perfect beauty in all the little details of life … it beckon us to take notice, take a moment out of a busy life to appreciate some small, seemingly meaningless, detail.

Back in June, just before I went to Los Angeles, Blu and I went over to the cottage one evening to meet up with my husband. He was there mowing the lawn on the upper part above the river, and wanted us to be there when he went down to the river level to mow the lawn by the boat house. My husband wanted to introduce Blu to the river and see how he would respond to water.

It was a beautiful evening. Blu enjoyed sniffing every square inch of lawn, dock, boat house, river bank, etc. he could get his nose to … over and over and over again as I sat with him and my husband finished up the lawn. Afterwards, the three of us spent some time walking along the dock, looking in the water at fish, and hearing the quiet sounds of evening.

Blu is about to go in for a dunk at Fireflys cottageShortly after this shot was taken, Blu slipped right off the dock into the water, dunking fully under and treading water frantically below the surface and looking up at us with eyes wide open. My husband reached in quickly and pulled him straight up and out by the collar. Blu was a little bit startled for a moment, shook himself off briskly and then didn’t seem to care what had just happened to him.

I suppose that answered my husband’s curiosity as to how he would react to water. Fourth of July weekend we had a little barbeque at the farm with some friends. At one point we drove up to Lake Ontario (just a few minutes drive away) and spent a bit of time playing in the water with Blu. It was his first time attempting to catch or fetch a stick thrown into waves on a shoreline. It was great fun, and he seems to love water quite well. I was amazed at how warm the water was that day and enjoyed my own time splashing around at least as much as Blu enjoyed his.

Fireflys Hand Knit Girl Friend ScarfPictured here is a scarf I made as a gift for my son’s girlfriend. When I was in California, she was in Hawaii and she left her car at my son’s place for me to borrow while I was there. I wanted to give her this scarf as a token of thanks for her consideration.

I have promised to share the pattern for this scarf, and it is an entirely easy one. I used two balls of Berroco’s incredibly soft “Plush” nylon yarn in Crema (color number 1901) on size U.S. 8 needles. I cast on 18 stitches, which made a nice narrow scarf about five inches wide. I used straight knitting until the piece was about fifty-six inches long, then I cast off.

Fireflys Hand Knit Girl Friend Scarf Detail ShotTo decorate it, I used scraps of a bronze colored ribbon yarn (I don’t know what the brand was, it was just ribbon yarn I have had a few balls of for quite some time) to make little bows, which I scattered along both ends of the scarf and a few in the body of the scarf — all on the “right” side. To make the the bows, I threaded a short piece of the ribbon yarn into a tapestry needle, and then pulled it through one stitch of the scarf. Then I tied the ribbon yarn into a tight little bow and trimmed the ends to even them up.

Next I took a few vintage turqoise buttons from my collection and sewed them on top of a few of the bows, again a little bit randomly rather than in any particular order. I only sewed buttons on bows that were at the ends of the scarf, but you could sew them on anywhere. I also sewed a couple of buttons directly onto the scarf, rather than on top of a bow.

Delicious Strawberries from Fireflys Amish NeighborsI’m calling this the “Girl Friend Scarf” and will post the pattern on the I Live on a Farm website soon … but you have the directions for it right here in my blog. It is a sweet little scarf, and perfect (I think) for a lovely young woman who lives in Southern California.

Time for me to take a break and have a cup o’ tea. Wish I still had some of these delicious sweet strawberries from our Amish neighbors up the road. Alas, this photo is from way back in June and fresh local strawberries are now a thing of the past. I’ll just have to use my imagination to eat a handful of them this morning.

Best to you and yours,

Summer calls

July 19, 2007 at 2:00 pm | Posted in blogging, country living, dogs, faith, family, free knitting patterns, gardening, health, knitting, love, marriage, pets, photography, relationships, romance, scarf patterns, socks, summer, yarn | 13 Comments

Fruit Arrangement from I Live on a FarmI have learned something new about summer this year; I have gained an appreciation for summer in Western New York which I lacked in Southern California. Here, summer is a brief moment in time to seize and cherish. That is how the season is embraced here. Quite a contrast to the attitude I held toward summer in Southern California.

For some people, the long seemingly never-ending summer in Los Angeles is why they are there. For me, it is why I left.

So here I am, living on a farm in Western New York, embracing a new attitude toward summer. It is a beautiful experience. There is this one liability about it though: people become scarce, just as I have become scarce here on my blog.

However, it is not only the summer that has pulled me away. I did have that trip to California in June, and many arrangements for moving my belongings across country, even after I came back to New York. That was time consuming and stressful at times.

There were also computer woes. I am still resolving some of the fallout from my hard drive crash as late as this morning.

Side Bar: Ah, as I look outside my upstairs window I see it is raining beautifully. I love that rain, and cherish the fact that I live in a place where it does rain in the summer.

Back to the Post: We have also been busy laying the electric wiring for an invisible fence for dear Blu. He is, by the way, as sweet as ever. No, I take that back. He is sweeter, it seems. Neither of us have ever known such a loving dog. One of his cutest recent developments is the fact that he brings his “baby” blanket with him when he is ready to cuddle on the sofa. How cute is that? When we first got him, he owned four things: a blanket, a rope pull toy, a plush toy, and a small doggie bed. He drags his blanket with him everywhere, and has always played with it. But recently he started bringing it with him when he hops up on the sofa to cuddle on a lap. Often it is cool in the downstairs of our house, and so I tend to lay a blanket over my legs when I sit on the sofa. I believe that having noticed that, he has decided that brining a blanket along when sitting on the sofa is the thing to do. I love him so much it makes my heart ache a bit.

Back to the summer: we have put in 1,000 feet of electrical line so far for the invisible fence and have another 400 feet to go. It is enjoyable work out there on my hands and knees pushing the dirt back in over the wire in the trench my husband digs ahead of me. As we were working on the project the night before last, I kept thinking about how wonderful it is to own dirt … more dirt than just the bit you can buy in a bag at the store. Acres and acres of dirt. It is a great feeling to own so much of the stuff that you could grow pretty much anything you want to, whenever you want.

I have also been busy doing some interviews of local people for various articles I intend to write, which is very interesting. There are some very interesting people and places right in our own “backyard”. I will never run out of story ideas. Of course, the same is true of any place on Earth if you really look. I just happen to especially love when I “look” around here.

To top it all off, I have an art show booked that will begin in mid-August and run for six weeks at a beautiful winery up by Lake Ontario. It will be my own, one-artist show and I have many paintings to prepare because they have an abundance of wall space. So, I am painting, painting, painting. I will start sharing photos of some of the pieces next week. I finally did a painting on some of the antique barn wood that fell off of our barn. I like how it came out, so I will be doing more.

I know some of you are waiting for those knitting patterns I mentioned back in June. They are still on their way, but I have had to reinstall various programs on my computer so that I can do all the things I do to make my blog and my website look professional. I’m almost done with that, and will be able to get the patterns ready very soon. So sorry for the delay, my friends.

I have to be off, but I will be picking up the pace again on posting to my blog. My apologies for not being here when you looked for me … but, the summer has begged for my attention and I am learning to seize the day.

Have a beautiful day yourself, wherever you are.


From Sea to Shining Sea: Western New York

July 4, 2007 at 12:03 pm | Posted in 4th of July, blogging, country living, dogs, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, gardening, Holidays, knitting, love, marriage, pets, photography, Pike's Peak Project, relationships, romance | 9 Comments

Beautiful Barn in Western New YorkFrom the top of Pike’s Peak, according to the inspiration behind “America the Beautiful”, a person can see from sea to shining sea across the beautiful land that is America. Today, this 4th of July in 2007, we handful of bloggers have launched the Pike’s Peak Project to give a view of America in word and photograph that does truly stretch from sea to shining sea.

This project began as a tribute to my brother, Dan, who passed away just over two years ago. Dan loved America, the view from Pike’s Peak, and the song that lies at the foundation of this project. If you could sit down with Dan today and tell him what you find beautiful in your piece of America, he would take the time to listen and he would be genuinely interested. He would see the beauty you see, his face would brighten into a very specific “Dan” smile. You would feel that whatever it is you love about your piece of this land or America in general was truly appreciated and validated through his friendly eyes and jolly smile.

If I could tell Dan today what I find most beautiful about Western New York my focus would be on the barns standing sentinel over … amber waves of grain.

barn1.jpgI would tell him, “Dan, I never would have thought there would be such farmland and such barns in the state of New York as I have found since I came to live here.” I would have to tell him that I am entirely in love with this state of New York, and with Western New York in particular. Each time we drive any place at all, we see barns. Barns of every size and state of repair.

Grand old barns, immense in size, gently falling to their knees from age and weather. Small, quaint barns both neat and tidy and worn and disheveled. Some are quite old and burdened by their load of time and wear, but when I see them I feel reassured because through years and generations and seasons beyond my meager life, these barns have stood silently supporting the men and women before me in this little part of the world. These barns have stood as guardians through the endeavors, mistakes, hopes, losses, and dreams of the people who loved and worked this land. They gave dependable shelter to seed, livestock, feed, tools … even sleepy or exhausted human beings at times.

gourd3.jpgAnd even now when their boards and beams fail them, they continue to stand as best they can, and they will continue to do so. These barns of Western New York exemplify the best of the human spirit to me. They hold within their airy walls many ghosts and visions of times past, of struggles and successes of varying degrees with as always present persistence to continue the course come what may. When I gaze upon our barns, I see much more than the temporary material vision of today’s view. I see vignettes of times and people past at happy, productive moments in their lives and in the life of this land.

The barns of America stretch from sea to shining sea, giving us a continuity of life gone by as well as life that is today being created. Whether those barns are new and well kept or tired and fading, they are an essential element of our heritage and livelihood. Like the tiny, fledgling yet tenacious grasp of an up and coming gourd plant these barns hold our hopes and dreams with a firmness and determination that belies their sometimes fragile stance.

These barns, they do us proud.

That’s what I would say to Dan today about my piece of America.

In response, he would smile through sparkling eyes.


Continue your tour by clicking any direction before to find another blogger participating in the Pike’s Peak Project.


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