Pumpkin seeds and tea cups

May 11, 2009 at 4:27 pm | Posted in art, baby, blogging, country life, country living, dating, dogs, faith, family, flowers, gardening, Life, love, marriage, pets, photography, relationships, romance, travel | 5 Comments
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21apr09_teacakeWhen my children were babies my parents tried to tell me how very different it is to be grandparents as opposed to being parents. I did my best to understand what they meant, but I realize now that I needed to be a grandparent myself to actually get it. So, Dad and Mom … I get it now.

[FYI: New knitting content was posted at The Knitting Blog 20 May 09.]

My daughter and I lived with my parents when she was born, and we lived with them for her first two years. Today my daughter and her daughter live with my husband and I and they will continue to do so for a few months still.

She and I take turns at night, being the one on call to listen out for little Sweet Pea, change her diaper when needed, rock her back to sleep. Of course, she takes care of all the feeding and I am on call as her back up doing what I can to help make sure this new mother gets some much needed sleep.

I alternate back and forth between some sort of super-human adrenalin-induced state that precludes my normal need for sleep and the sudden, instant onset of a “must sleep now” command that only hits at a time when I am not on call. Some parts of my body are feeling older than I thought I could feel, while emotionally and mentally I still feel complete odd calling myself “grandma” … it sounds so much older than I ever think of myself as being.

21apr_crocusMy mother was several years younger than I am now when I was the first of her five children to make her a grandmother. She didn’t look like any grandmother I had ever seen, and I suppose I don’t look like that mental image picture I have in my mind of what a grandmother is. My mental image is based on my own grandmothers, who seemed quite old to me when I was a child.

Oh well, what does it all mean anyway. Age is both relative and inevitable. There is a certain unavoidable math involved in parenthood and grandparenting. I believe you would need to be at least approximately 25 years old to become a grandmother, and as some of we women have proved, you can be two times that or older to be the mother of a newborn child.

I wonder, as I write this, what image might be in the reader’s mind of what I might look like now that you know me to be a grandmother. Picture me as a tiny little round orb of green-blue light orbiting round your garden on a hot summer night … remember, I am a firefly not a human being. What does that make Sweet Pea?

21apr09_7We have already begun making progress on Sweet Pea’s Sincere Pumpkin Patch project. A while back I ordered seeds for several varieties of pumpkins:

  • Big Moon Gigantic Pumpkins
  • Wee Be Little Pumpkins
  • Howden’s Field Pumpkins
  • Rouge d’Etampes Pumpkins
  • Cotton Candy Pumpkins
  • Long Island Cheese Pumpkins

We are going to try to make one or two vines of each variety grow and see what kind of pumpkins we can make appear by the end of summer. Pray for us, because we are not farmers even though we live on a farm. Well, pray for the vines and the pumpkins that God and the powers that be might be merciful with them and grant us (me in particular) a super-firefly ability to make this garden grow. [As I type this we are already behind schedule on starting our seeds indoors. Hopefully this is not a fatal error. It is, we will learn from our mistake.]

21apr09_5We will requisition a piece of our arable land back from the real farmer who rents from us and make that our experimental pumpkin patch. The idea, if you don’t recall, is that my husband and I will experiment with growing pumpkins and see what we can learn and accomplish within the next three or four years. If we can figure anything worthwhile out about it and produce some viable pumpkins, we will then pass on our knowledge and experience to Sweet Pea to help her grow her own pumpkin patch each year — that is, if Sweet Pea has any interest in this project.

Hopefully we will all become proficient enough that we will be able to have an annual “let’s go pick out our own jack-o-lantern” pumpkin picking day and Sweet Pea–if she is so inclined–can have a roadside pumpkin stand to earn a bit of her own pocket money and learn something about being an entrepreneur.

21apr09_1Spring in our area came early this year and is especially sweet and beautiful. The photos I am sharing on today’s blog are a bit outdated, because we are beyond this point by now. The fruit trees are all loaded down with blossoms, the lilac tree out by the back of the barn is plump with an abundance of lilac buds, some of the heirloom/antique vines and shrubs growing around the farm are alive with color, Rhoda (my heirloom tree peony) has so many buds this year I haven’t even counted them all.

Last week one morning I stepped out to take my daughter’s dog out for a stroll and it was beautiful outside I literally caught my breath. It was one of those perfect moments of spring beauty when the light is still golden after a morning shower that has just barely cleared out.

There are three swans hanging out on the piece of river we see from our kitchen and living room. I love the very fact of being able to walk through my house, look out the window and see a river and get the bonus of three swans lingering and feeding our side of the bend.

21apr09_4Saturday my husband was out restaking the white flags of the electronic fence for the dogs when I had a powerful urge to go out and tell him I love him and give him a hug for all the work he does around here. So I took off out through the yard and the field of dandelions, amongst the apples trees along our drive, past the willow and her little “gum drop” evergreen buddy. The sky was dark and stormy but in a soft, sweet spring sort of way. There was something so powerful about the scene with the dark clouds in the distance, the muted lighting in the immediate area, and all of the space surrounding us. Meeting up with him out there and sharing that instance of time and nature was one of those perfect little moments you come across that burns itself into your mind and heart forever.

Speaking of perfection … I asked an artist friend of mine to create a pencil portrait of sweet Blu as a birthday gift for my husband. His birthday isn’t until the end of May, but I received the portrait in April so I gave it to him as an anniversary gift instead. He loved it, and I am certain you will see why if you follow the link I provded. Christine Sargent is the artist; she draws and paints children and pets primarily, but also landscapes. She is a dear, dear friend of mine for many years from the L.A. area and a very talented professional artist. She was thoughtful enough to include a free print of the portrait as well as the original. So, we have one here at the farm to hang on the wall and he was able to frame one to hang in his office at work. Quite a treat, quite a treat indeed.

And yes, it was our anniversary just recently … April 29th. We have been married three years and are now grandparents together. In just three short years we have already faced some tough situations together and experienced much joy. After three years we have decided that this little Internet experiment of ours is working out just fine; for us the whirlwind romance of meeting online and getting married three months later worked out better than we even thought it would.

It’s a good life, and I am joyful and grateful to have found someone to help me make it so and that I can do the same for. Here’s to us, honey! May others find something like what we have found.

An extraordinary find

March 2, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Posted in art, country life, country living, dogs, faith, family, health, knitting, Life, love, marriage, pets, photography, relationships, snow | 15 Comments
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17feb09_treeA lady who owns a shop in our village that the comment that, in her opinion, I find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Truly, life is chock full of the extraordinary even when it seems most humdrum.  A person might believe themselves to be caught up in the most mundane, banal, ordinary, blah-de-de-blah life imaginable when in fact the opposite could be true if only they would look beyond the obvious.

Wandering around the farm I find many things to look at, especially when I go out with my camera in hand. Last week I wrote about a wonderful photo op day when a hawk lured me outside, though he eluded both me and my lens.

One of the treasures I carried back inside was a series of shots of what seemed to be an ordinary Mulberry tree. “Seemed to be”, that is the key thing in that statement.  I shot several photos of the tree because I liked the green on the bark and the way the sunlight was flickering golden dappled designs all along the trunk and branches.

27feb09_owl350A few shots later I suddenly saw something beyond the ordinary details of a tree … two eyes and two ears, a face.  I felt startled and delighted as I did a double take and found myself face to face with –, well I am certain there is a spirit in that tree, an Ent just as Tolkien wrote about.

Side Bar: If you would like a print of the Mulberry Ent photo above, or this warm and fuzzy needle felted owl, please visit Firefly’s Studio at Etsy.

That tree might grow mulberries, but he is no ordinary tree. The point could be argued, I realize that.

To some people the old mulberry tree is and will always be nothing more than an ordinary tree and am I am nothing more than a writer with an over active imagination.

To me however, he is an Ent and now we have looked into each other’s eyes.

Perhaps I am just a person with a very fanciful imagination.


Take a practical-minded person beside of me in our backyard and have us both look at that tree. I will see an Ent, the practical-minded person will see a tree. I will say there is a spirit in the tree who has made the impression of a face within its bark. The practical-minded person will scoff and think of me as a loon.

The practical minded person might make fun of me and feel very smug about the fact that he is happy not to be such a loon as that crazy writer lady standing next to him.

As for me, I just thank God and my lucky stars that I am a person of imagination because my life will always be rich and full of millions of sparkling lights whether anyone else can see them or not. If I am a loon because I see a spirit in the bark and branch stubs of that tree I am perfectly comfortable with being a loon, because I get to have the thrill of feeling and knowing and being magic.

I might be crazy, but I am having a lot more fun in my life than that practical-minded person who smuggly goes back to his ordinary life seeing nothing but ordinary trees along the way.

17feb09_shadowart3Sometimes you see in movies or read in stories about a child telling “stories” about things he sees or imagines in life. Adults get serious and tell the child they must not lie. That always bothers me, the comparison of a beautiful imagination to an ugly act of dishonesty.

A child goes home and tells his mother that he just saw a dragon by the drain pipe, and the dragon rose up on its hind legs and spat out fire.  The child doused the fire with a bucket of water that happened to be on hand. Then, the dragon turned into a cat, jumped up in the air and spun around as it called out like an eagle and flew away straight to the sun. Then he saw the eagle/cat/dragon burst into flame and go out in a hundred billion different directions all at once. It was magical and wonderful and scary. His mother says, “Now Johhny, you mustn’t lie.”

Now why would anyone call a cool story like that a lie? Who is to say what the child saw or didn’t see. Maybe it was not even just his imagination, maybe he can see into a world that others cannot grasp. Why should the majority rule when it comes to what is real and what is not.

If I want a dose of “reality” I can turn on the television and watch any newscast and find out what is “really” going on in the world. Boy, isn’t that fun. I mean, the guys in charge of the news really have a handle on reality. They go out there and they dig it up and uncover it and report on it just as it is because we have a right to know and afterall, it is all so very “real”.

Personally, I would much prefer to listen to the child telling me about the dragon/cat/eagle. I think he has a much better handle on the world than the media ever will. The media does serve up a certain type of “reality” but what they will never tell any of us is that, on any given day, the good acts of man, the little moments of quiet heroic decency passing from human being to human being on this little blue globe actually far outweigh the bad.

17feb09_jupiterThey have to work pretty hard and spend all kinds of money, time, and resources finding as much bad news as they can to form into a big ball of “bad” to serve up and call “reality”. They need sponsors who will spend millions of dollars for ads to run in order to support their habit.

Right now the reality that is being pounded into heads all across the world is that the economy is “bad”, things are dire, we are all doomed. We must worry, we must be afraid, we must picture the future ahead as being scary and dark and filled with uncertainty.

So what do you do? Pull in, contract, get smaller, think of yourself and your life as being less.

That is the intention, you know. To get you and I to do that.

I have a little subversive plan I would like to share with you.  My plan is simple and does not require billions or trillions of dollars to execute.

My plan is this … “CREATE!” 

I can always create something, even if all it is is the creation of an idea within my own mind that makes me feel better about life.  I choose to decide for myself what my outlook is going to be. When I go outside to look around at the trees and the river and the cats and the snow or the mud or whatever, I choose to endow some magic into the things I encounter, because frankly it makes me feel better about life.

I have had to learn to do this because I survived for many years as a single parent of two young children in a tough and expensive city.

17feb09_shadowart4You see, I already had my economic crisis and uncertainty a while back.  There were ups and downs, but most of the time there was not ever enough to pay for all the things that had to be paid.

What I learned is what many families learned back in the 1930’s. I learned to create. I could create my own mood, I could create beautiful things out of pretty much nothing. I could create gifts by using no more than pencil and paper. I could create love in abundance so that no matter what my children had to go without, the one thing they never had to feel any shortage of was my love.

I had a dream last week, and in the dream I was having a conversation with two of my brothers. I was explaining to them that I had finally worked out what is real happiness for me, in my life. I told my younger brother that money had nothing to do with my happiness, but that if money does it for him that I don’t dispute it at all or think it is wrong. It just isn’t what I am looking for.

I have found great happiness in my life, and I continue to find it nearly every day. Love is the key, love and the ability to create. And I think they tend to go hand in hand.

I think about the people in my life — my husband, my children, my parents, our neighbors and friends, associates, the readers of my blog, people who spend a little money buying a knitting pattern or notecards or whatever, and I have to say that I have a genuine feeling of love for them all.

Love is the key and I believe it goes hand in hand with creativity and with endowing extraordinary in the ordinary.

17feb09_blu1You and I, we are the ordinary man and woman on Planet Earth. We are out here living our lives and doing a few good things, making a living, supporting our families, doing laundry, cooking a meal, working the land, whatever. We are the ordinary, and it is us, the you-me-and-we of us that is the extraordinary that mankind has to offer.

No matter what reality any of the guys out there in politics, or the media, or Wall Street or whatever are trying to pawn off on us we have it within us to create the extraordinary, to see and be the extraordinary out here in life. We can create the “reality” we choose to live and we can agree with one another rather than agreeing with them.

What do you say?


The hawk came calling

February 17, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Posted in art, cats, country life, dogs, faith, family, flowers, knitting, Life, love, pets, photography, snow | 11 Comments
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17feb09_prettystuffOne morning last week, when we still had much snow on the ground, I was sitting in the living room with my daughter when she said she saw a hawk high up in a tree over the river. I looked out the window and saw him too, way up on a branch sitting perfectly framed close to the trunk of the tree. It was a great photo op. I hesitated though, because I was lounging in my red union suit — yes, it has a flap in the back and everything — and I knew that by the time I threw on some snow pants, a coat, a scarf, some gloves, boots, and a hat and got out the door with the camera the hawk would most likely be gone.

A couple of minutes later he was still there and I realized I needed to seize the moment regardless of how likely it was it he might leave. I ran through the house, grabbed the camer and changed to a long lens then ran to my snow clothing that is piled on things around the back door. After bundling up and grabbing for the door knob I heard my daughter yell from the living room that the hawk had flown away.

17feb09_blu3I told her I was going out anyway to see if I could find him anywhere. So out I traipsed on outside through the snow in search of the hawk. He was long gone, but I enjoyed searching for him and while I was doing so I found many other interesting sights and sounds.

It was a gorgeous winter day with blue sky and golden sunlight, shadows showed up in crisp detail on smooth a smooth ground of heavy windblown snow. Blu was outside with me, poking his nose around in the snow and running here and there.

When I was out front the cats became interested in both Blu and me. One by one they stretched and made their way off the porch down into the yard toward me. Yin sat up prairie dog style to look up over a snow trench and watch Blu’s antics. She sat like that for the longest time, turning this way and that and watching things going on in the yard.

17feb09_yin1All seven of Kat Kat’s off spring from her two litters do the prairie dog thing. Kat Kat doesn’t do it at all, but all of her “children” do. They look really funny sitting around that way, and I am happy to have caught Yin in that position with my camera.

I made my way out back to the barn and the trees, the various shrubs and branches poking up through the snow. I was fascinated by the flowing shadows giving bare and seemingly dead raspberry canes and wild grasses glow with aesthetic grace.

If you recall Rhoda, our antique tree peony, and how I have captured her many stages of growth. This is what she looks like in mid-winter amidst a deep, hard snow.

This experience with the hawk taught me yet again one of the most important lessons I have learned in life: seize the moment. The hawk landed on that branch and stayed there long enough to get my attention. He beckoned me outdoors with my camera, promising a wonderful photo op once I got myself in gear.

17feb09_rhoda1He didn’t promise I would catch him with my lens, but he did promise beauty and interest. I answered his call, albeit somewhat hesitantly, and was rewarded with rich opportunities that I would not have had otherwise.

Isn’t life like this. Something pulls you onward and you move. The thing you thought you were reaching for eludes you, poof it’s gone. At that moment you can sit there and be disappointed and believe you missed your opportunity. Or, you can keep going and keep looking. Perhaps your opportunity is yet to be discovered and the first thing you reached for was just something to get you moving and alert.

Don’t give up at that point, move and act and look and see. Something is most certainly there but you have to make yourself available.

That’s the trick, making yourself available in life.

17feb09_shadowart1There is a guy who attends our church and he had a powerful feeling that he should buy a little cafe near his home out on the shores of Lake Ontario. He tried to buy the little place last year but it didn’t work out. For some reason he kept reaching for it, and now he found some other people to buy it and they want him and his wife to run it. Now, this guy has a really “good” job right now working at a fairly new hydroponics plant nearby. He is a plant manager there, and in this economy it is a positive thing to have a good secure job.

Unfortunately, the guy he works for is a jerk of some kind who works his people into the ground in order to keep his own profit high. Our friend has had to miss out on many of life’s beautiful moments working long, arduous hours at the plant sometimes seven days a week.

His wife quit her job a few months back — I don’t know why. The plan until recently was that he would keep his unhappy job and she would manage the cafe. A week ago he announced at church that he has decided to retire from his job this summer and will work full time with his wife at the cafe.

Side Bar: For my knitting readers, be sure to see this week’s knitting progress and news of upcoming pattern releases at The Knitting Blog. Also, I have added a few new needle felted items to Firefly’s Studio.

It sounds like a bad idea, doesn’t it? He has a job, it is a pretty sure thing. And he’s leaving it to run a cafe with his wife; doesn’t he know how risky the restaurant business is and isn’t he painfully aware as we all are about the poor economy we are all grinding our way through right now?

But, here’s the thing. He is miserable in his job, and he works for someone who he doesn’t like or respect. He is giving up hours and hours of his life every day and week to do a job he doesn’t enjoy and help a man who doesn’t seem to have regard for his fellow man to become more profitable.

Our friend said it this way, he said that he knows God has some kind of plans for him and he needs to make himself available. His current job keeps him so busy for so many hours of so many weeks throughout the year that if he stays in that job, regardless of the security of it, he will not be available for something that might be more important and more worthwhile. So, he is taking what seems like a big risk and making himself available. I have a very good feeling that things are going to turn out very fine for him and his wife, in spite of all “evidence” to the contrary, because he is making himself available.

17feb09_easterbunnyThat is the key: making yourself available. That doesn’t mean everyone should fly off the handle and quit their jobs. That’s what it meant for our friend, but that isn’t what it would mean for someone else.

It just means that when a hawk comes calling … whoever or whatever the hawk is, make yourself available and see what turns up. Get out there and be involved in your life in refreshing and surprising ways. Bundle up and get out into the world and if the first thing you are reaching for eludes you don’t get discouraged.

Chances are, something even better is just up ahead or around a corner.

I wish you well,

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