Tags: country living, faith, family, home, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, marriage, personal, relationships, spirituality, Upstate New York, women
It has been falling steady all morning. I knit, and write, and I sip hot cocoa.
This kind of cozy, relaxing morning is fulfilling to the soul.
The world is very quiet on a snow day. Watching the steady flow of softly falling flakes can be mesmerizing, leading to deep thoughts and philosophical contemplations.
At least, that is how it is for me.
This morning the snow along with the and the contemplation that comes with knitting have worked together to lead my mind to you, dear reader.
I have known many of my readers for a little more than eight years now. It has been a long road, and there have been poignant joys so rich as to make my heart ache with the satisfaction of long-awaited happiness…joyful, magic moments many of which I have shared in this ethereal place known as my “blog”.
Side Bar: Blog is such an unattractive word. I wish a prettier word had been created for it.
There have been heart-wrenching losses also, along the way. Some have been shared, though most have been suffered through silently as far as the blog is concerned. Anguish is not what you come here looking for, so the moments in life of anguish are kept from public view and knowledge.
We all have them, our private trials and sufferings.
That is life. There are times of joy and happiness, of creation, and jubilant reflection. Oh, how those> moments glow.
And in contrast there are the … other things we must deal with and endure.
I started my blog in the summer of 2006, and from the very first time someone left me a comment and I knew people were actually “listening” I have carried you, my reader, in my heart. Sometimes there have been thousands in a day coming to this place, other times a few hundred come daily.
It is a unique friendship and relationship between writer and reader in this virtual world known as “the blogosphere”. I don’t know what it is like for other writers, I think I have a somewhat unique relationship with my readers in that I started writing shortly after my entire life turned upside down and began anew.
When I moved from Los Angeles to this farm in New York back in May of 2006 I had not heard of or read any “blogs”. I had much experience with computers and the Internet. I had been an Art Director and VP of Strategic Creative Services at an Internet start-up company and had quite a bit of experience with online marketing and consulting. Still, I was not familiar with blogs.
My then new life on a farm was destined to be more relaxed, less stressful, and certainly would involve zero traffic jams and so I looked around for something new to do with my Internet skills, something that would allow me to focus on my first love, which was writing.
My son suggested I get into writing a blog, and he said I should just pick a subject I knew something about and start writing about that. So I made a list of things I enjoyed and also knew something about, and knitting was one of those things. Earlier than that, when I was still living in Los Angeles, it was my son who also suggested that I turn my focus to writing rather than general Internet consulting. He helped me center my focus, and it was a key factor in what led me here … to my dear husband, to this farm, and to writing this blog.
Another Side Bar Item:I mention my son quite often on my blog and in my emails, even in some of my patterns. If it hadn’t been for him, I might never have come to be here writing this blog, designing knitting patterns, and sharing them with you. We all have a great deal to be thankful to him for. It is inevitable that he is therefore, an integral part of the adventure. So, I mention him, and I link to his online store where he sells prints of his designs including City Neighborhood Typography maps like this one of Los Angeles, vintage inspired Eye Charts, city minimalist posters, and subway signs and bus scrolls.
In August 2006 I posted my first entry. I look back now and see I made 21 posts that August.
My goodness, that was a long time ago.
At that time, my life had turned upside down, inside out, rolled over a few times and flipped up in the air at least five times. It was a dream come true to live on a farm. Each and every day held treasures of discovery in my new environment. I literally engaged in an entirely new and different life, begun right in the middle of my already well-established life.
What I am trying to say is this: I think it is a pretty big deal I started writing a blog not long after arriving in my new life and that so many readers have been a part of this adventure. You have read my words, enjoyed my photography, cheered my joys and victories, felt my pain, and even knitted a few of my designs.
I have carried you right along with me through many of the steps and turns and magical developments along the way. And it has been great. I have to say, I came to love you guys, my readers, and I still do. You are a part of my world and my universe, even if you don’t realize it.
But there is something I feel very bad about, and I want to say something here about that.
There have been times when some of you have left comments or sent me emails and I never got back to you. Not all of the time, but sometimes.
And, there have been long periods of absence on my part as time has gone by. I am sorry for that, I want you to know that I am. I honestly feel that because of the kind of blog I write–where I share both glory and pain in order to inspire others that life’s obstacles can be overcome and dreams can come true–that dropping off and not writing for long periods of time was injurious to the universe I had created as a writer.
That might sound weird, or you might say I shouldn’t carry such a burden but it is my honest feeling and I want to apologize to whoever might still be “listening”.
I had good reason, and I am going to say something very brief about that.
My dear, dear daughter was married to someone abusive and is physically disabled because of that. Then also, my granddaughter came into the picture. They have a right to privacy and safety, and the time I share with them I don’t share publicly via my blog.
This past year I have had more time to knit again, to design, write, and publish patterns and write some emails.
It is challenging to wear the various hats life has called on me to wear while also carving out a bit of quiet time alone time for writing, and so I disappear at times. It isn’t because I have stopped thinking of my readers or carrying you in my heart. You are still there for me, and I hope you can feel me there in your heart as well even when I am absent from this venue.
I shot this photograph at Genesee Country Village Museum this summer. This gentleman is a blacksmith re-enacter (he actually does real old-time blacksmithing work). He reminded me a bit of my dear father, so I shot this portrait of him. I won a blue ribbon for the photograph in their annual Agricultural Festival this fall. 🙂
I don’t think life ever turns out the way any of us thought it was going to. I know mine hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would when I was young and younger. The funny thing is, it has turned out to be a very good likeness of the various dreams I dreamt of when I was younger. It just doesn’t look or feel the way I had imagined, and so at times it is a challenge to recognize it as being the life I actually did intend to create–a version of it anyway.
That’s the way it is, life is, after all, life. I think of mine as a river … remember when I wrote about The River Me?
Over the past year I have designed and published fourteen new patterns for quite a few new items including a variety of shawls and cowls (see photos at the end of this post). In addition to individual knitting patterns, I have published several eBooks with collections of patterns (all are available in my Ravelry store, some are in my Etsy store). Currently I have a number of projects in the planning stages and in the works including children’s clothing, an awesome cardigan for men (I am knitting the sample for my son, naturally), a number of patterns for gloves, more cowls, and several shawls/wraps. I have started developing relationships with yarn artists and have the pleasure of developing some designs specifically featuring their beautiful yarns, and that is a pretty cool development.
In the coming year I will start using test and sample knitters (if you are interested, please let me know) and am looking to establish a good relationship with a skilled tech editor for my knitting patterns.
Realistically, I won’t be able to get back to writing weekly blogs for the time being. I will write when I can, which might only be a few times a year. If you would like to stay in closer touch with me and my life, Instagram is a great choice because I post there sometimes on a daily basis sharing both knitting related photography and photography from this beautiful world I live in.
Follow me on Instagram to see day-to-day photos of fiber related goodies and knitting projects, as well as beautiful scenes from our little piece of heaven. You can find me there as: JLFleckenstein. It would also be great if you would share photos of your WIP of my designs on FaceBook and Instagram using hashtag: #jlfleckenstein
If you leave a comment on my blog or send me an email, I will write back to you. If you don’t hear from me for several days it means life tapped me on the shoulder and kept me away from my computer, usually for a very good reason. But I always come back. I always do.
With so many things I have to be thankful for, I want to take this moment in time to wish my U.S. readers a Happy Thanksgiving holiday, and for my non-U.S. readers, I send you good tidings and best wishes for those things you have to be thankful for in your life.
I began my Santa Claus collection when my children were little, and as the children became teenagers they started buying a new Santa for me each year. Last year my Santa collection was 3,000 miles away in storage in Los Angeles while I enjoyed my first Christmas on the farm in Western New York.
This past weekend I unpacked my many Santas, refreshing my sweet memories of Christmases past as I looked at each one. My favorites are those the children gave me … I will try to share them with you as the month progresses. Pictured here is the Santa I bought for myself the last year I lived in L.A. I bought him in Santa Barbara that fall, took him back to L.A., and now he is living on a farm in New York … imagine that.
See the little boxes in the photo? My mother made those out of greeting cards. She makes these perfect, lovely little Christmas boxes from greeting cards and wrapping paper folded very carefully from a pattern she inherited from her older sister. She used to keep a big bowl full of her perfect, magic little boxes and we loved looking through them with an “Oooh!” and an “Aahhh!” at her choices of cards and placements of key design elements such as trees, snowflakes, birds, Santas, and so on.
It has snowed here every day for the past several days, with strong winds blowing much of the time. Today there is neither snow, nor wind but it is cold and white outside. I am listening to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on iTunes at my computer as I write to you, and am enjoying the relaxing warmth I feel at the anticipation of holiday cheer.
Early on in my blogging days I wrote of my daughter giving me a necklace of pearls for my birthday (She Gave Me Pearls, August 24, 2006):
“My birthday was earlier this month, and she brought with her a beautiful pearl necklace and matching earrings she made for me. She designs and handcrafts exquisite gemstone and pearl jewelry. All of her findings are handmade, each piece is worked long and patiently with fine details which are her own trademarks.“I am not much for jewelry, but I must say I cherish each piece she has made for me … and I am fortunate enough to have quite a few. There is something about her jewelry that makes the person wearing it feel very fine and good.”
My daughter is in her late 20’s; she was my first of two children. I still remember her first Christmas, those memories are crystal clear and always will be, I am certain. So much of that first year of motherhood is crystal clear in my mind, poignantly etched indelibly in the deepest places where my love resides.
Out of respect for her privacy, I have withheld something from my readers for quite some time. The truth is, she lives here with us and has for much of the time we have been married. She is temporarily disabled, unable to work due to injuries she suffered from domestic violence. Harsh though that is to put into words, it is the truth and it is healthy not only for the individual, but also for society, for people to speak up and speak out where it has occurred.
She has chronic pain in her neck and lower back from her injuries, and unfortunately her condition worsens when she tries to work on her jewelry, or knit, or do much of anything productive. The past several months have been particularly difficult for her; I have lost count of the number of times we have been to the emergency room for horrific pain she is experiencing that no pain killers will abate. How many doctors have we visited, on how many occasions, how many tears have been shed, and momentary hopes dashed as a new episode of pain descends. Several months ago she was sent to physical therapy, and the physical therapist was very rough on her long slender, tender neck and only made matters far worse. Late in the summer she tried a chriopractor who at times was able to help, but at times the adjustments only seemed to exacerbate her problems.
Recently she has been going to a different physical therapist three times a week getting primarily massage therapy, which has helped at times. But still, the pain continues.
Honestly, it is tragic. It is tragic to see someone going through something like this at all, but when you witness your own loved one suffering and there is little you can do to be helpful, it rips through you like a tidal wave over, and over, and over again.
Yesterday we finally made out way to a pain center, a place that specializes in the kind of pain she suffers from. The information she was given, the diagnosis, the treatment suggestions made a whole new kind of sense … and we drove the one hour drive home feeling light of heart for the first time in a long time. She smiled and told me some very funny stories (she is a great story teller; comes from a long line of them).
When we got home, I felt swept over with a sense of starting over again, newly. I think perhaps this time she found a doctor who could actually say definitely what is going on with her body, what needs to be done to fix it, how much time it might take, and what to expect … what to do. Rather than the mystery of not knowing what was happening and not having any confidence that anyone knew what to truly do to create improvement … today there is hope.
Hope. Hope is one of the most valuable assets of life.
Hope, faith, love, gratitude. They are the jewels that make life sparkle.
She makes life sparkle with her beautiful jewels, now maybe she has a shot at enjoying some sparkle in her own life again.
I added the pattern for her hand knit scarf this week, and a few auctions of some of the jewelry she made before the pain began.
Have a warm, beautiful pre-holiday weekend. We will.