Bittersweet

May 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Posted in art, faith, family, flowers, gifts, knitting, Life, love, women | 54 Comments
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Bittersweet.

I look outside my studio window as I write, viewing a great bounty of lush green growth.  

Trees, green grasses, flowers, an abundance of life that is breathtaking in its simplicity and rustic charm.  Several Amish families in open, black buggies pulled by elegant dark chestnut colored horses have passed by on the road, their children wearing straw hats in the bright morning sun.

I am blessed.

I look over at the watercolor painting I am working on with two swans I photographed on our river last year on a perfectly gorgeous June day.  It is amazing to me, that I have access to a river, to swans, to green fields, the canopy of trees, toads, our grand willow … too much to catalog even if I had a lifetime to do so.  The visual stimulation to me the artist is sometimes overwhelming in scope.  And yet, somehow I push through the abundance of subject matter and find something simple to create.

Yes, I am blessed.

Our hostas are amazing, yet again.  I don’t think I will ever cease to be amazed at the overflowing abundant green beauty of the hosta plant and the ease with which it is grown, managing itself with perfect timing and expanding affluence year after year.  My husband and I planted the hostas all around the house four or five years ago and by now they come back each spring huge and just so lovely I can hardly stand to contemplate it.  I am eternally grateful for the the hosta.

Our antique tree peony had a bit of a misfire this year.  March was unusually warm, then winter temperatures came again and many plants became confused as to what they were supposed to do.  The tree peony sprouted three buds very early on, but then the very cold weather in April gave her reason to take some more time off.  By the time things warmed up all she had to show for the year was the three buds.  They opened a few days ago, some two weeks early … very noticeable for a plant the opens her blossoms exactly like clockwork year after year on Memorial Day weekend.

I am not complaining about the three blossoms — they are as extraordinary as any tree peony blossoms ever are.  Last year we had, I believe, something like two dozen blossoms so I am merely noting a rather drastic difference.

For quite some time my freedom to create, whether it be knitting, needle felting, writing, or painting, was restricted by happenings in family and in life.  Life changes much as a river ebbs and flows and I am finding much time these days to do all of the creative things I love so much to do.  I am an artist, and when I cannot carve out the time and peace to create it takes a toll on me spiritually.  

However, I am also an eternal and almost annoying optimist so even when I get down about now being able to create I know things will change I will be able to create again, so I remained hopeful even if a bit sad.  And now, here I am with plenty of time and peace for my creativity.  My studio is like a chapel or temple, my place of religious retreat where I find comfort, meditation, spiritual room to fly, peace to contemplate and pray.

So many blessings brush my cheek as their misty truths cross through my mind: 50 acres; four seasons, Canada geese enjoying remnants of last year’s corn in the field, this year’s Sincere Pumpkin patch, the most wonderful and dear husband, two children to love dearly, a precious granddaughter, three crazy happy dogs, wind, rain, snow, sunshine, water, autumn, rivers and streams, a home, a cottage, more friends than I can count, you my reader, biscuits, laughter, the promise of fresh fruits and vegetables affordable and within easy reach at farm markets all over the place in our area, swans, ducks, song birds, wild flowers, paint, fiber, memories … you get the idea.

I am blessed.

My title today is bittersweet, because with all that I have to be thankful for (and I have only mentioned the tip of the iceberg in terms of the many blessings in our lives) is all so very bittersweet because my father, my dear sweet friend, has prostate cancer.  He was diagnosed with it many years ago and has done a great job with help from my mother in keeping it at bay.

Together they have done a great job with that.

But today, my father needs your prayers.  And my mother too.

Please.

They are truly two of the dearest, most loving people you can imagine and they have done much in their lives in service and kindness to others. They have earned the universe opening up today and enveloping them in a great big, comforting and loving embrace.

Your prayers will help.

Love you Dad and Mom.

~firefly

More knitting photos

September 9, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Posted in baby, country life, country living, faith, family, flowers, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, shopping, socks, women, yarn | Leave a comment
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Read my blog on Kindle. You can also find my funny short story for knitters, “A Matter of Perspective” at Amazon for Kindle.

This is a brief post to share a couple more knitting photos … it is great to be able to knit more once again.  Little Sweet Pea is being so good about not ripping out my needles any longer.  She actually sat in my lap and watched me work on her little eyelash yarn skirt last night.  I’m going to call this one “Sassafras Tea Skirt”, because I intend to have a tea party with her once it is finished.  I’m using Size U.S. 9 circular needles for the skirt, so it is a very quick project.

Here is another photo of the Slouchies Socks, to show the contrasting colors in the heels and toes.  She sure does love her little socks — and when pulled all the way up they come above her knees, but then slouch back down just enough to be cute but not bothersome.

It looks like we are going to have sunshine today; that will be great after a week of temperatures in the 60’s with gray skies and rain off and on.  We would enjoy having a little bit more NY summer, pretty please. I’m looking outside at our barn as I write. There is array of tall wild flowers, cat tails, and milk weed arranged artistically by nature on the south side, where the wood block painted with a quilt square hangs on the barn, the sun is illuminating the scene. To the right of the barn, and back further I see the field of corn topped with golden tassels. Blue sky above, puffy clouds floating gracefully past and way back behind the corn field, our stand of woods.

Quite a healthy, beautiful scene. Wish my son were here to enjoy this with me, over a cup of coffee and some homemade biscuits. It is his birthday tomorrow, oh how I wish he were here.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and a I’ll “see” you next week.

~firefly

Corn and pumpkins

July 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Posted in art, country life, family, flowers, food, gardening, knitting, Life, love, marriage, recipes, shopping, summer | 6 Comments
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The farmer who works our fields planted corn this year; it has been four years I think since there was corn growing out there. By this time corn around here (and lots of people grow corn around here) is usually taller than I am. This year, however, we had such a wet spring that many of the crops are behind schedule. Our farmer planted the corn late, which he pretty much had to do because there had been standing water out in the fields.

At first, it just looked sort of sad to see little struggling corn stalks coming up — tiny little things compared to what we were seeing in other fields. Now those tiny little stalks are a good three to four feet tall, and growing taller quickly. I love the look of corn growing in a field — it is a very hearty, healthy looking plant with the tall stalks and broad blue-green leaves. I also love the look of those big heavy leaves flopping over the way they do. I am excited to know there will be beautiful, healthy tall corn growing in our fields when the Artist Road Show art trail happens on August 27th. As I have said in an earlier post, we will have several artists here at our place set up in plein air tent studios. Some will be painting, others will be hanging out and meeting with the public. And the corn in the fields will be a beautiful backdrop for all of the activities.

The past few days I have been very busy writing a press release and other materials to put together a professional electronic press kit to help promote the event and our artist group, Artists of The Oak. It was a of work, and I have to say I am happy to have it behind me now–only because it was a lot of work outside of my normal responsibilities in life, and had to be squeezed in between other things that already keep me plenty occupied. I am at a point where the only way I can add more to my load is to stay up even later at night or get up even earlier in the morning. Not complaining, just saying …

Speaking of knitting, several optometrists who happen to be knitters have purchased our Knitter’s Eyecharts — I think that is so cool. When my son and I first collaborated on them, we didn’t even think about the optometrist/knitter demographic — but, they exist! I’m sure they won’t be using them for actual eye exams, but they will be awesome as office decorations. Here is a cool someone made when leaving feedback about the eyecharts recently,

“LOVE THESE!!! And for my non-knitting co-workers, they are very confusing which makes for interesting conversation.”

“This is too fun – hangs on my office door and get many fun giggles and comments – great idea!! Thanks!!”

“Love these — bought two sets — one for me and one to divvy up as presents.”

“The Eye Chart is just great…printed on heavy paper and shipped in a very hard tube that protected it perfectly. Just thrilled with this transaction.”

I am sorry to say I have not written the pattern yet for the toddler slouchy socks I have shown photos of recently, because I have been busy creating the PR materials for the Artist Road Show. I should be able to get started writing the pattern this weekend, and if that does occur I will be able to publish it late next week.

Here is what is happening with my weight loss this week. I have lost a total of nine pounds, and am losing an average of 1.3 pounds per week. I am very happy with that rate of weight loss. It feels great to have lost nine pounds, and I reached my first “milestone” (for those who didn’t read last week’s post, I am doing Weight Watchers online). Now I have a second goal, which will be another six pounds. I like it that they recommend breaking your overall goal down into smaller more attainable goals. My ultimate goal is to lost a total of twenty-five pounds, so you can see I am well on my way. Taking it several pounds at a time makes it much more likely that I will continue to feel motivated, looking forward to celebrating small victories along the way.

It sort of reminds me of knitting, really.

I put together a salad recently that is the most delicious salad I have ever tasted … ever, really. I don’t have a photograph of it, but trust me and give this recipe a try. If you are on Weight Watchers, this salad is 6 PointsPlus values and is very filling. I usually have this about mid-afternoon or for an early dinner and it is very satisfying.

Firefly’s Tasty Arugula Cilantro Salad

1 MorningStar Farms Grillers Prime pattie, grilled and cut into small chunks
2 small handfuls of thick sliced mushrooms, grilled and chopped into medium size pieces
2 big handfuls of any salad greens
1 handful of baby arugula, chopped
1 small handful loosely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup mandarin oranges (packed in juice, drained)
1/4 cup elbow macaroni pasta cooked al dente
2 Tbsp sliced and chopped radish (optional)
1 Tbsp Newman’s Own Ginger Sesame Salad Dressing
2 tsp olive oil
salt to taste

Though I like croutons on salad, they tend to be pricey in terms of point values on Weight Watchers because of the combination of carbs and fat. Something I do when on Weight Watchers is use less “expensive” carbs otherwise you will get way too hungry. Plus, the less expensive carbs are foods that will help speed up your metabolism, so you’ll loose weight more reliably making those choices as often as possible. I have come up with an alternative to croutons that adds texture to my salad — elbow macaroni cooked “al dente” (pasta cooked to be firm but not hard). I cook a batch once a week and keep it in the fridge, then when I am making a salad I measure out 1/4 cup and sprinkle that over the salad. It only adds one PointsPlus value to the salad, but it is a very nice taste and texture to have in the mix.

To make the salad, I get the Griller Prime grilling, and when it is done I put the mushrooms on my Griddler and let them grill until browned. While the Griller Prime is cooling and the mushrooms are grilling, I put the salad greens, arugula, cilantro, pasta, mandarin oranges and radishes into a good sized bowl. When the mushrooms come off the grill I chop them and then toss them and the Griller Prime cut into chunks on top of all the salad stuff. I sprinkle with a little sea salt, then drizzle the tablespoon of Ginger Sesame dressing around on top of everything, and then I drizzle the olive oil.

That’s about it. I stir it up and sit down and enjoy my incredibly tasty salad, thinking about how healthy it is. My husband loves this salad too, just so you know. I like it so much, I could literally eat it every day and not get tired of it.

Remind me to tell you all about cilantro sometime … cilantro is a big part of why I write my blog, but that is a story for another day.

And, speaking of my blog. Today’s title is “Corn and pumpkins.” I told you about corn, but there isn’t anything in here about pumpkins. Oops.

We failed to get our little pumpkin crop in last year for the second annual Sincere Pumpkin Patch, so this year we were determined not to miss doing that again. We started a whole bunch of pumpkin seeds indoors on our sun porch, but alas only a few sprouted and even those did not survive. My friend Lora Partyka started a few more for me, and now we do have six pumpkin plants growing out in the field, right beside of our farmer’s corn. Most of the pumpkin plants have blossoms on them, and we are hoping pumpkins will not be far behind.

Next time I blog, I’ll share a recipe for black bean hummus with lime … a tasty treat indeed!

Until then, I am your … firefly

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