Gathering up the wild things, 2011

October 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Posted in art, Christmas, country life, family, Holidays, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, shopping, travel, Vintage | 3 Comments
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This is what I see today, as I look out the window of my studio writing. Though I didn’t shoot that photograph today or this year, it is pretty close to what I see out there right now. Just imagine the same scene with darker clouds and a steady rain, and you will see what I am seeing right now.

What is the weather like where you are? How has the season evolved in your corner of the world so far?

A couple of days ago my husband and I did the coolest thing: I noticed over the past few months a number of older wild grapevines around our farm about 1″ to 1 1/2″ in diameter, and those grapevines got me to thinking. I love to cut wild grape vines and make wreaths with them, so I wondered if we could cut the thick old vines and fashion them into a very large wreath to hang on our barn. We have wanted to make a large outdoor Christmas wreath to hang on our barn and it was exciting to finally have a natural ingredient we could use to make one.

As you look for unique, inspired gift ideas for people on your list this year remember to check out our Knitter’s Eye Charts (as seen in Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits this fall) and other gifts for knitters in the I Live on a Farm Etsy store.  Or, give an inspiring eBook or Kindle book to someone you love. My son carries a great variety of vintage-look Subway Roll Signs and Bus Scroll Prints representing New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, London and more — he also creates custom signs with the same vintage look. You can find my original paintings, fine art prints, photographs, and note cards in my Fine Art Etsy Store.


There was a little window of opportunity two days ago when he got home from work, before it started raining, to get out and about and cut the vines we wanted to use. Cutting the vines off of our trees will help the trees survive longer, plus and it provided us with plenty of thick vines to coil around for a four foot diameter wreath. It is beautiful, rustic and hearty looking. We will still need to find things to add to it in order to make it more decorative and I hope to be able to light it up somehow at night so people will enjoy it as they drive by.

Our closest neighbors have a beautiful huge red barn, and they hang a large wreath on it every Christmas season. It is lit up at night with an outdoor light and is a very lovely sight to see if we happen to be out on a snowy winter night. I hope our wreath with bring the kind of joy to others that our neighbors’ wreath has brought to us.

We will hang it right over our quilt square, and it should harmonize with the square because of the double wedding ring pattern on the square. (If you are not familiar with the quilt square we have hanging on our barn, here is a link to my blog on that subject from back in 2008 when we first hung the quilt square.)

08dec08_2carolersoutsideWe have also been out gathering up wild things from our environment this week for use in a new generation of my Thistleonian characters. It was important for us to get out and gather the wild things I need for the little guys before the elements start making them look too weathered.

One of my favorite ingredients is not wild; I use soybeans to make their little arms. The farmers around us who are growing soy beans this year were out everywhere bringing them in a couple of weeks back, so that was our cue to get out to someone’s field and snag a few remnant bean stalks from the edge of a field. Though they are not “wild”, they are natural and perfect for Thistleonians. The soy beans inside are small and cream colored and are beautiful to use as accents as well.

I have also started drying milkweed pods– my all-time favorite of beautiful wild things to gather from the outside world. Beginning in early October I watch the pods (they grow in front of our barn, beneath our Quilt Square Block along with various wild flowers) for signs they are ready to harvest. What I am watching for is the first pods that burst open on their own to release their seeds and silky threads. When that happens, I can gather as many as I need and start getting them ready for drying.

I enjoyed spending time with my husband, driving around and raiding fallow fields and soy bean crop remnants to gather the items I need. We did this kind of “wild thing” foraging the first couple of years after I moved here but it has been a while since we did so and it was just great to get back out there and spend that kind of time together. I treasure him for many things, and this is an example of why. He not only supports me in theory on my various creative activities, he gets involved and plays the game with me on those things he can. (Thank you, dear husband.)

I am looking forward to spending some cozy time during dark and stormy autumn days (much like today) working on Thistleonians. I also have on my list of creative things to do the knitting of a new pair of knuckle gloves or fingerless gloves for myself, as the pair of Fetching fingerless gloves I made my first year in New York are frayed and will have to be replaced. I would also like to knit some socks for my mother and x-mother-in-law (what should I call her now?), lacey fingerless gloves and a scarflett for my daughter, a sweater for my grand-daughter, something I have not figured out for my son, and a new hat for myself. Oh, to be able to knit the many things I have on and in my mind to knit.

The past couple of weeks my husband, my son, and I have all been working to prepare for a group photography show in December at a nearby art gallery. The show will feature pieces by me, my husband, his deceased father, and my son along with poetry written by my father; I will do a poetry reading of some of my father’s poetry opening night of the show. This show will be at the local art gallery in one of the nearby villages and the opening will be Friday December 2nd in the evening. If you are in the Western New York area and would like an invitation to the show, contact me via email or with a comment on this blog and I will send one as soon as they are ready.

I have shot upwards of 75,000 photographs since I moved to New York — most likely many more than that. I went through about half of them in an effort to select the best ten for our show. I wanted the photographs I am showing to be of a fine art nature, to reflect my artistic ability with the camera as well as my eye for composition and color. The photographs needed to also reflect my particular artistic style and communicate something important about my vision as an artist.

After many hours reviewing photographs, I narrowed my choices down to a couple of dozen, then my husband helped me select the best fifteen of those. We tried to go with ten, but could not cut it down further than fifteen–which is still quite an accomplishment I think.

The photograph at the top of this blog is one I chose, and sprinkled in the blog you will find others. If you would like to see more, I have posted prints of some of them for sale in my fine art Etsy store as 8x10s.

We also went through my husband’s photographs as well as his father’s and chose fifteen of each of theirs as well.  My husband’s father brought cameras home with him from Europe after World War II ended, and he trained himself in the use of those cameras.  He shot some wonderful photographs at our cottage featuring family, friends, and the family dog.  You can see from the shots he captured that he had a good eye for composition as well as a understanding of the wonderful natural light in this part of the world.

My husband’s photography reflects his deep love of the landscapes from his childhood and lifetime spent on and around the Oak Orchard River.  He is also a self-taught photographer with a great passion for cameras and photographic technology.  He had devoted many years to studying cameras and photographic techniques and has gone out in the field with a variety of cameras and different types of film plus digital media to apply the knowledge he gains from his studies.

I haven’t seen my son’s choices yet for his photographs for the show, but I know they will be awesome. He has done some very interesting, and quite beautiful photography around the farm and our cottage but he also has some breathtaking portraits of The Duke (his English Bulldog), wild life photography, and street scenes in Los Angeles and New York City. I have no idea, out of his large body of work, which ten pieces he will choose to show … I am looking forward so much to getting a chance to see! The gallery owner also wants to devote a section of the gallery to display  his digital artistry, reflected in his reproduction New York Subway Signs and Vintage Maps.

Our photography show will primarily feature photographs shot over a period of sixty to seventy years in and around the same locations — but through the eyes of four different photographers, using various films and cameras and photographic technology as it has evolved. The photography will be gently tied together via the poetry of our fifth artist, my father.

Once we have everything printed, matted, and framed and hanging in the gallery I believe it will be very interesting to see our various takes on this beautiful environment we have all explored and enjoyed over the years.

Well, I have a two and a half year old crawling back and forth across my back while I try to write and my poor back just can’t take it any more this morning so I am going to end off here.

Here’s wishing you and yours a beautiful week-ending, and weekend coming up!


Day dream believer

October 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Posted in art, blogging, faith, family, gifts, inspiration, Kindle, knitting, Life, love, photography, women | 2 Comments
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I often day-dream, and sometimes my day dreams take on a realistic, picture perfect you could even say, form. Some are ethereal thoughts that float by like a soft summer breeze, others race by my nose faster than light breaking the sound barrier on their way, still others begin as fleeting thoughts that quickly materialize into moving pictures. Very entertaining stuff, these day-dreams of mine.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the village to drop off some paperwork at the library and parked in front of a recently refurbished unoccupied building. The village has wonderfully old buildings along Main Street much like you see in movies featuring characters in small town America — fitting because this is small town America.

The building I parked in front of had very large pane glass windows facing the street, so it was easy to see inside. I noticed a sign out front stating space was available for rent or lease. Hmm. I wondered to myself what sort of business might settle in there, and whether or not it would make it.

After dropping off my paperwork, as I returned to my car the sign about the space being available caught my eye again and I looked into the building once more, trying to imagine a burgeoning business going on behind those big glass panes–thus the launch codes for my day-dreaming imagination were initiated. For some reason, the business I dreamed up in there was the bustling business of a successful periodical of some kind.

I don’t know it was a magazine or a newspaper, but it had everything going on:  writers and photographers, assignments, advertisers, headlines, etc. As my day dream evolved, a concept became clear: this was a purely digital periodical, with no printing at all. Every “printed” word was electronically printed and yet the business was hustling and bustling just as if it were a busy newspaper or magazine from back in the 40’s or 50’s–the two eras were intertwined.

I saw all of that activity, mind you, going on behind the big glass windows of the building as I walked (now slowly) back to my car. Then I saw the person running the operation: it was me. Oh, such happiness and productivity glowing out of every fiber of my being.  “Ha, interesting,” I said to myself as I got into my car and drove away.

It was a simple day-dream that breezed by in what was little more than a tiny little moment in time, but it got me to thinking. Mostly it got me to thinking about things I had already been thinking about over the past few months but with renewed clarity. Later that night I told my husband about the building, and about my day-dream.

It wasn’t (and isn’t) that I want to lease that building or play that game the way my day-dream had me playing it. The day-dream was just a flight of fancy, something I do and have done for as long as I can remember. Sometimes these day-dreams lead to something in real life, sometimes they are merely a form of momentary entertainment for my own enjoyment. Sometimes they are ideas that will become blogs or stories, paintings, knitting designs or … nothing.

This particular day-dream was productive though, because it got me thinking about what my blog is, and how I approach it, and what kind of evolution I am involved in here. It is an evolution that you, my reader, are involved in as well.

Of course, there are millions upon millions of blogs out there, and many are personal journals kept online as a means of staying in touch with family and friends, staying connected with others of similar interest, etc. Others are created and maintained with a business or professional purpose in mind.

What I realized when I was speaking with my husband about the day-dream is that my blog is essentially a periodical, an electronic periodical. I have endeavored from early on to publish it as professionally as I possibly can, given my resources and time. And, I have built up a certain number of loyal readers and that number has grown over time. I don’t have any advertisers, and I don’t have any staff other than myself but I do run this blog as if it were a periodical of some sort, although I had not looked at it that way until I sorted through my day-dream with my husband.

Of course, one of the key ingredients of a “periodical” per the definition of the word, is a publication that comes out at regularly scheduled intervals.

There is the rub.

In the early days of my blog, I posted three times a week on average. As time went on and I put more and more into my posts, I could not maintain that schedule and got down to twice a week. Then it went down to once a week, which I was not very happy about. I have constantly felt this drive inside of myself to get at least two posts written a week, but I have not been able to do that. In fact, sometimes I cannot even post once per week.

The problem with that is that readers get frustrated when they depend on a publication schedule and it is not met by the publisher.  They come back expecting something to be there and there is nothing and some get to where they hardly ever come back, or perhaps never coming back at all.

Fortunately for me, I have maintained a loyal base of readers and my list of email subscribers continues to grow. However, I do know this evolution I am going through as a publisher has frustrated some readers at times, and for that I humbly apologize. To those of you who have stuck with me through thick and through thin, I am deeply grateful.  Your comments and emails expressing gratitude and appreciation for my offerings has encouraged me right along and inspired my continuing drive to keep creating and see where this bend in the river me leads us all.

With no advertisers I therefore have no budget to pay my “staff”:  editor, copy editor, proofreader, photographers, assignments editor, style editor, art director, graphic artist, layout artist, typesetter, in-house knitting designer, food editor, in-house craft designer, receptionist, customer service rep, public relations, marketing, product development … well, you probably get the idea.  All of those hats are mine and if any one of them doesn’t show up to work, it slows down the entire process.

If you take a look at any magazine or other periodical and think up all the hats worn to pull off one of those publications, you will get a concept of what someone like me is dealing with in bringing this publication to you on any kind of regular basis. Sometimes the number of hats that need to be worn is completely overwhelming, and yet I feel driven to keep it going, keep creating this for you, and keep the number of readers growing.

Take none of this as a complaint, I just want to let you in on my day-dream and some things it helped me sort out and clarify in my own mind. I am sharing this with you because as my reader (especially if you are one of those who have stayed with me since the beginning) you are a part of the evolution of this periodical and you should be in on this part of the conversation.

Since I was a very little kid I knew I was a writer and I had a yearning to publish things. I used to dream of starting a neighborhood newspaper when I was a kid; when I was in junior high I served on the school’s newspaper as editor for two years.  I got to give out writing assignments, write headlines, oversee layout and printing, and wrote my own stories as well.

When my children were little I wrote quite a few short stories and a few children’s stories. For a while I submitted my stories to various publications and enjoyed every rejection slip I received in reply, knowing the way to become a published author (at that time) was to go through the process of being rejected repeatedly first.

I decided to self-publish one of the children’s stories with my sister as the illustrator. That was a fun although a bit disastrous. I spent $1,800 getting 600 hardback copies of our little book printed. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I had what I thought was an innovative idea about the layout of the book, an idea in the real world made it difficult to sell. I also didn’t know that in order to get a book into book stores and libraries you need to have an ISBN assigned to it.

No regrets though, because this was all a part of a many learning experiences, part of my journey in life. That journey brought me here to you, my reader and I believe this is where I was headed all along.

Writing and my urge to publish allowed me to flow along with the streams, rivers, and oceans of technical advances in our society.  Along the way, many circumstances and opportunities resulted in my learning many skills, gaining knowledge and experience in realms that have enabled me to publish this blog and wear the many hats I must wear alone in order to do so.  Even though I cannot wear each and every hat every week and so sometimes my regularly scheduled intervals become irregular and not scheduled, I nonetheless have been able to continue publishing my new-age blog-based periodical for more than five years. I have also managed to grow my readership, and thus my business.

As you know, the blog has led to my publishing many things including knitting patterns, photography prints, art prints, and now Kindle books and eBooks. Really, my husband and I are publishing these things and we, as a family, are building up a publishing business slowly but steadily.

Then there is my son and his publishing business (Flying Junction). He designs and publishes his signs, prints, and posters — that is his business venture, but we work together and share what hats we can, and I find it very interesting that he and I have this thing of creating, artistry, and publishing in common.

Side Bar: Flying Junction collaborated with Five Four Clothing, which resulted in four great new Los Angeles inspired posters, representing four iconic neighborhoods in the LA area. Five Four store has giant renditions of these posters (3 feet by 5 feet) printed on canvas hanging in their Culver City store; Flying Junction sells them online. One of the posters was also turned into a t-shirt, sold online by Five Four.

In September I published a book of inspirational poetry (“I, The Wind”) written by my father and have published it as an eBook, a Kindle book, and in hardback. Here is what two readers had to say about this book:

It was absolutely mesmerizing. The poems are so meaningful … ones you can return to read again and again and never tire of them. The photos are prize winners. It would make a very special gift; the pictures are thoughtfully chosen to go with the poems. It’s truly a treasure…” ~ L.S., Washington

“This is a great book …. and the photos are excellent … what an inspiration … I read the entire book once I downloaded it.” R.T., Kentucky

Monday of this week I published his book, “Timini’s Secret Adventure” and I would like you to give it a try. Of course, I only want you to give it a try if it sounds interesting to you, and it is only $4.99.   It is available for reading on Kindle, but I also published an eBook of it so anyone with a computer can download and read it.  More than anything, I would like you to give it a try because it is a beautiful, tender story which I believe many people are going to enjoy. I published it not only because my father, who is also my dear friend, wrote it — but also because it is a wonderful story I believe will be interesting and entertaining for people–and, I believe it will be helpful and soothing to some.

Here is the product description at Amazon:

Timini has stumbled into a fantastic world of fantasy and delight and is trying to get his wits about him when he is joined by a magical spirit with an inherently playful name. “What is this place, why is that tree speaking to me, and what in the world am I supposed to do now that I am here?” are some of the many questions Timini attempts to find answers to.

If you have ever wondered what comes next, after life, or if you have ever lost someone close to you, you will want to read this book. You might have more questions than Timini, you will most certainly find entertainment, and along the way you just might find some of the same answers Timini is looking for.

Who am I, what will become of me, what has become of those I have loved and lost? Join Timini as he embarks on an inquisitive trek through the land of NODD.

Special fun for me with this book, is the cover I got to design. You may or may not remember but a couple of years back I shot some photos of one of our mulberry trees on a winter day, and when I was reviewing the photos I noticed what looked like eyes on the tree. It was cool and a little bit haunting, because it really looked like the tree was looking back at me from the photo.

There is a magical tree in my father’s story, and when I was reviewing the manuscript I remembered my photo of the tree with eyes and realized it would be perfect for a cover. What you see here is the “before” photo — straight from the camera before I tweaked it for the cover. I did a little bring the eyes out even more, but as you can see the original untouched photo clearly shows eyes on that dear old tree.

As I mentioned recently, I am also working on a new method of showing knitting directions and am in the early stages of preparing a book I will most likely self-publish also teaching that method.

I am so personally and profoundly grateful for all of the technological developments in the world that make it possible for me and many others like me to publish our blogs, periodicals, books, eBooks, Kindle books, patterns, plans, etc. We can publish, and we can publish economically enough that someone like me can start a publishing company by the seat of my pants, hang on for dear life and let the roller coaster take off.

Most of all though, I am grateful to you. You are patient with me, you are loyal, interested, and sometimes you take the time to express yourself so that I know I am doing something worthwhile for others.

Thank you, thank you so much my friend, my reader.


Timini’s Secret Advenure

October 11, 2011 at 12:16 am | Posted in art, family, fiction, gifts, Halloween, inspiration, Kindle, shopping, women | 2 Comments
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I just released the Spiritual Fantasy, “Timini’s Secret Adventure” on Kindle ($4.99). It is also available on my website as a standard eBook that can be read on any computer. This is a short story written by my father, and I did the cover art — and I am the publisher.

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