Spring sprang a pond

March 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Posted in country life, country living, crochet, family, free knitting patterns, gifts, Knit Alongs, knit-a-long, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, shopping, travel, yarn | 6 Comments
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Each year when the snow melts away a vernal (vernal: 2. appearing or occurring in spring: vernal migratory movements-ref: Dictionary.com) pond reveals itself out by our willow tree. It is always a little bit different in shape, range, and depth. Sometimes it lasts for a very long time, sometimes it goes away too quickly.

This is my fifth spring here on the farm, and the vernal pond is one of my favorite elements of early spring and summer. This year’s pond is the largest we have had, and what you see in this photo is actually not the largest it has been this year; quite a bit of it has already drained into the earth. During the colder part of winter we could have gone ice skating all back around the willow tree because there we had several inches of frozen water in quite a large area.

Today is a beautiful day to share a photo of the willow and the pond, with the gorgeous blue sky and fluffy white clouds as a backdrop. Canadian geese have been flying overhead in large flights each morning and birds of every voice are filling the air in song from early morning to sundown. There are two ducks that appear in the vernal pond each year and they have already returned — I assume it is the same two ducks because it is always just two ducks, never more.

The snow drops have already pushed up through the ground and blossomed, while the alliums have come through the ground but have quite a long way to go before they are tall and skinny with bubbles of color atop their graceful stems.

I have had a cold much of this week and am needed some extra rest today, so I will not be writing a very long post today. There is knitting progress on my Summer in the Country cotton blanket, and the knit-along has gotten off to a nice, friendly start with some very sweet friends making up the group. If you would like to join in, have a look here to get started.

Other news is that my son (designer and Etsy seller FlyingJunction) and I have decided to host a give-away this week. There will be three prizes as follows:

1. Grand prize will be one set of three subway signs from from his shop, shipped directly from his studio with his very special, awesome packaging

2. First prize will be winner’s choice of either a Knitter’s Eye Chart or a Crocheter’s Eye Chart (new!) from my Etsy store

3. Second prize will be winner’s choice of any three knitting patterns from my library as online downloads

Here is how this drawing will work:

1. You must be on my email mailing list to enter — so if you are not on the list yet, sign up here.

2. I created a Treasury at Etsy titled “Love Letters”. Go to that Treasury list and be sure to click on Flying Junction’s item in the Treasury. After viewing his Etsy shop, return to the Treasury and leave a comment at the Treasury — not at this blog, but at the Treasury — using at least two words from one of his prints or signs.

You have from now until 12:00 midnight, Sunday March 27, 2011 to do this. I will hold a random drawing Monday the 28th of March to select our three winners. Winners will be announced here on my blog Tuesday March 29, 2011 and will have 48 hours to get back to me with a their valid email address. Winner’s email addresses will be cross checked against my email mailing list, and if not found there a new name will be drawn — so be sure you are on the list.

One other thing, I have a client who is working on coming up with a name for a new radio show he is doing. I have posted a survey to help him narrow down the names he has come up with so far. If you are willing to help by filling out that survey you could win a $25 Gift Certificate to Amazon.com. Survey entries need to be completed by Sunday evening March 27, 2011 at midnight to be eligible for the drawing.

Now I must go get some more rest … cough, cough, sneeze. I need to get my energy back.


When we were cowboys

November 1, 2006 at 3:02 pm | Posted in country living, crochet, faith, family, free knitting patterns, Halloween, Knit Alongs, knit-a-long, knitting, love | 21 Comments

Jack06 and SquashBabe1Looks like things worked out well for Jack06 last night … he and SquashBabe1 spent a candlelit evening together on our porch. There were no signs of Trick or Treaters last evening, but this morning I found evidence of pumpkin love when I happened upon this happy family nestled amidst a warm blanket of leaves on our front lawn. Jack06 … you devil you.

While I was out in the yard taking the trash to the road for pickup and moving the pumpkin family back to our porch, I had some fun scuffing my feet along in my husbands big yard boots, kicking thick layers of damp leaves up into the air … quite fun, you should try it if you have leaves outside today. Someone went driving by as I was scuffing along enjoying myself and slowed noticeably as they went by our house. I hope I inspired them to be childlike rather than to laugh at the crazy California woman in long johns, husband boots, and a rather fetching handknit Lavender Hat running around like a loon on her lawn.

Jack06 You Devil YouI asked my husband the other night if he could recall the last time he skipped … you know, skipping, the physical activity of childhood days. Childern skip, but adults generally speaking do not. Do you ever see an adult skipping around the yard or at the park? Have you yourself skipped any time recently? What I have noticed is that you cannot skip without feeling happy. There is a carefree abandon that goes along with skipping that cannot help but make you smile. My husband asked me why I thought adults don’t skip, and I told him I think it is because they become too serious about life. Try skipping again sometime, and see if it doesn’t lift your spirits and bring back a little feeling of childhood and magic.

I have updated information for the knit along I am hosting; if you are participating or following along as an observer, be sure to check out that page. The nap blanket (subject of the knit along) I am knitting for my mother-in-law for Christmas is very cute and pretty. The size (roughly 36″ x 52″) is what makes it cute in my opinion; the colors are very warm and cozy and the feel of the blanket is scrumptious. It is a quick knit, so a good choice for an elegant handmade gift this holiday season for someone you love. While I am making it for an adult, the same blanket could be made in more youthful colors and given to a child.

Jinnys Vine Knitted Blanket ProgressNow … to continue with the story of How I Met My Husband.

In all good stories there is heartbreak, struggle, sometimes overwhelming odds, good guys, bad guys, sadness, etc. The negative elements make the postive outcomes that much more rewarding and fulfilling. That having been said, you might want to refill your coffee cup and grab a couple of tissues.

For years I have secretly dreamed of living in the country again, or living on a farm. Sometimes my dreams were passive, sometimes they were very proactive and alive. Often, very often, over the years when I was raising my children alone, I examined my life thoughtfully and came to the conclusion that I was destined to be alone. I was dedicated to my children, my daughter needed extra help and care because of her physical problems, and I was also devoted to various volunteer efforts (and still am) in life. I never was into dating particularly and I had never met a man in the normal course of the river of my life who I could share my life with. You might think in a city as large as Los Angeles it would be fairly easy for people to find each other. I found it to be just the opposite. But, I was attatched to the area for family and business reasons, so I believed I was destined to be alone.

Jinnys Vines Knitted Blanket Progress ShotAnd I was okay with that. I am very strong, very independent, always able to take care of myself. I honestly did not need a boyfriend or a husband to make my life complete. If anything, I had more than enough life going on and didn’t have room to add a man into the mix. I was certain I could be a single woman for the rest of my life and make that a beautiful thing. I stand by that belief even today: if I had remained alone, I would have made it a beautiful thing come hell or high water … I just happen to be that stubborn and willful.

And yet … inspite of my best intentions, I continued to have a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that my “husband” was out there somewhere in the world. I could feel his presence even though I had no idea where he was. I could not shake the feeling completely, no matter the logic I applied to my situation. My intuition told me he was somewhere far removed from Los Angeles, but that somehow one day our paths would cross and we would know and all would be well.

Between the summer of 2003 and the winter of 2005 I suffered many losses in life. It was puzzling, because I was truly being grateful for everything good and positive and right in my life. That isn’t to say I stayed perky and happy, because I didn’t. A business I had been certain of had pretty much gone nowhere (a toy company I tried to start and invested a lot of time and money in) and my main consulting client who had provided my bread and butter income for two years went south, cutting my income in half unless I could bring in new business. During that time, however, my family needed me more than ever and I had no time to devote to bringing in new business.

There was the incident with pneumonia which slowed things down even further, and I could not get my consulting business to expand at all. My heart was not in it any longer and I was very distracted with family responsibilities. Even our cherished dog, a magnificent Boxer named Luce, became very ill and perished. It was a sad and difficult time. I was challenged constantly to find what I could be grateful for in what seemed to be the demise of everything I had worked to create and build. None of it made sense to me at the time, but I did maintain unshakable faith that it would make sense to me sometime further up the road. I was certain that, painful though my circumstances were, there was something ahead that would bring it all into focus and take away the feelings of loss.

In September of 2004 my parents moved to Denver to be closer to my two older brothers and their families. It was a good move for them but it was sad nonetheless. My children and I had been very close with my parents over the years, spending much time together with them. Our lives were very intertwined and it was sad to know we would no longer be able to run over to their house to visit, pick them up to go on a drive, eat soup and play cards on a Friday night, or have them over for a movie and a good chat.

In January of 2005 my children and I moved our separate ways, out of the house on the hill and I temporarily moved in with my sister and her husband in their downstairs apartment. The day I got settled in at their house we received a phone call from Denver … it was my oldest brother on the speaker phone and his wife and daughters and my parents were with him. He was calling to tell us he had been diagnosed with lung cancer which had spread to several parts of his body.

My family is large and we have always been very close. Five siblings, three of them married, each of us with two children. And my parents. The seven of us, the original family, had been like a band of cowboys the way we bonded with each other and looked out for one another over the years. My younger brother was my little buddy, my best friend when we were children. My sister and I had normal sisterly ups and downs but became dearest friends as life went on. My second oldest brother and I did quite a bit of Internet business together for a few years prior to 2005 and were quite close because of that. My oldest brother was a certain kind of glue, I think now that I look back on it, that held us all together. Perhaps we each were, I don’t know.

I have written of my oldest brother in an earlier blog. He died that April in 2005. His illness and death set off a chain reaction in our family that tore us apart and we have never knit ourselves back together. I would never have thought that could happen to a family such as ours, because our genuine affection for one another and the bond between us seemed to be magic, even stellar in some ways.

In a way, I lost all three of my brothers that April and the sadness of that loss is piercing. Some time I am going to make a large oil painting from a photograph my father shot of my three brothers back when we were all teenagers; maybe the oldest was in his early twenties by then. They were all target shooting up in the mountains in Southern California and the photograph is perfect to my artist’s eye. I’m going to title the painting, “When We Were Cowboys” as a tribute to a simpler, more innocent time when all we knew of each other was the love that bound us together so tightly.

Knowing about the loss my family suffered when Dan died, and the estrangement that followed within our ranks is important to the story of How I Met My Husband. It is unpleasant to write about and a harsh reality to live with. The details of what led to the estrangement would be inappropriate to share in the open forum of a blog, so forgive me as I pause here in my story to take it up again on Friday.

Fireflys River in Mid FallBut I will share this one last thing today: in the midst of Dan’s illness, one night in late February the entire family held a vigil as Dan underwent emergency surgery. The doctors warned us he might not survive the night. Some of us were in Denver with him, some of us were in Los Angeles. We were all held together tightly, willing with every ounce of anything we had that he would make it so we could have him a bit longer … please. He did make it through that surgery and before I went to sleep that night, I wrote in my paper journal a note to God expressing deep gratitude for my brother, for knowing him, for his love, for his life. At the end of that entry there is this:

“P.S. God, somewhere in this world my husband is. If you see him, please point him in this direction. It would be helpful.”

Less than one year later, I met him by chance online. And that, is a story for another day.
I think I should go out in the yard and skip for a while. How about you?

[Note: The story continues here.]

Copyright © 2006 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A pattern to share with you

September 13, 2006 at 2:12 pm | Posted in country living, crochet, family, free knitting patterns, knitting, yarn | 10 Comments

Gentle Waters Hand Knit ScarfThis is a soft, beautiful scarf my daughter designed and knit for me. She makes me such beautiful things, and I always love her taste in colors and textures. This is a classy scarf that doesn’t demand attention, and yet it does gently add a touch of calm style to whatever outfit I wear it with.

The day I first met my husband, I wore this scarf along with a cute little vintage, army fatigue colored jacket with sweet little vents in the back. I also wore a tissue t-shirt with a ballet scoop neck in the same blue as the scarf, but a few shades lighter and a pair of distressed vintage looking Abercrombie jeans. It was a very cute outfit (sorry, not meaning to brag). As I spent the day traveling on three planes, through four airports across 3,000 miles of America to meet him, my daughter’s scarf kept me calm and reminded me of her sweet love and support.

Gentle Waters Hand Knit Scarf CloseupI have named it the “Gentle Waters” scarf because the colors remind me of the gentle waters down at our little place on the river. Also, “gentle waters” is symbolic to me of this time in my life when I have stumbled upon beauty and sanctuary with a dear man I love.

You can find the pattern here for this precious and meaningful scarf … in hopes someone else’s daughter might make such a sweet gift of it that will bring good fortune to the mom as this one I feel did for me.


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