July is here, July is nearly gone

July 30, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Posted in art, country life, country living, faith, family, flowers, gardening, health, knitting, Life, love, photography, relationships, socks, summer, yarn | 67 Comments
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Hello dear readers, I have been absent from my blog during the month of July.  As it turns out, I needed some time to recuperate from months of intense fine art painting.  Summer also brought with it many activities including a day of plein aire painting on the Master Gardener’s Garden Path tour along with other painters from the county, our annual Chicken Barbeque fund raiser at church, and many chores around our property.

Even today I don’t have as much time to write as I would like to.  However, you have been promised a July Sock Yarn Give Away and we have two days left in July so I am here to give you game rules for this month … at a minimum.

This month’s sock yarn give away features, of course,  two colorways from the Moments series of Foot Notes Sock Yarn by yarn designer Kimber Baldwin at Fiber Optic Yarns.  July’s Sock Yarn Give Away winner will receive one hank of this lovely sock yarn and will choose between two brand new colorways.

How to win it this month.  First of all, as a favor to me and not as a requirement … would you please go to the Facebook page I set up for I Live on a Farm and “like” it.  While you are there, if you would “like” to “like” the page I set up for J. L. Fleckenstein Fine Artist, that would be appreciated as well.  I am hoping that members of the I Live on a Farm page in particular will use that as a venue to meet up with each other, get into conversations, and have some fun.  You are a lovely bunch of people and really should get to know each other.  That is why I set up the page.

Okay, so back to how you can win July’s Sock Yarn Give Away.  Here are the details:

If you follow my blog, you know that gratitude is a theme that continues to appear in my posts.  Every day of my life I work myself over regarding my attitude toward life, events, circumstances, etc.  I have learned over the past several years that creating gratitude within myself and flowing it outward is a vital ingredient of living a happier and more rewarding life.  We all have less than ideal situations in life, losses, disappointments, struggles, and woes.  I have found personally that if I allow myself to be weighted down by the negative energy that comes from bemoaning such things they begin to loom larger than life.  Gratitude is a key that can unlock gloom in life and lead to openess that allows light and beauty to shine in no matter what your circumstances.  I have further found that finding and creating gratitude for those things which are less than ideal is even more powerful than being grateful for the things it is easy to be grateful for. I sincerely believe that this is a valuable, important message worth sharing and reminding others of as often as possible.

I have a challenge for you for the July Sock Yarn Give Away.   Leave a comment to this post expressing gratitude for something less than ideal in your life; find something about that less than ideal thing that you can honestly be grateful for.  If you need some extra inspiration, read this post.  You don’t have to reveal any information that is too personal and you don’t have to be overly descriptive.  You can just say, “a health condition”, or “a broken item”, etc. if you only want to touch on whatever your less than ideal thing is.   We all have these less than ideal things in life, it is inevitable.  In that, we are not alone, and for that I am very grateful.

I am going to extend the deadline for July’s Sock Yarn Give Away into August in order to give every one a chance to participate.  So, the deadline for comments will be midnight August 8, 2010 (that’s my birthday by the way!).  The winner will selected in a random drawing from all who leave comments and will be announced on my blog and notified via email by Friday August 13th.

Good luck, and thank you for being here.

Hope you have a beautiful weekend!

~firefly

Grateful for the Vessel and the Stand

November 25, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Posted in art, blogging, country life, faith, family, food, gifts, health, Holidays, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, Thanksgiving | 12 Comments
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I have written often on the subject of gratitude. There is good reason for doing so, as I have experienced–and continue to experience–a journey of growth and enlightenment in my life based on my own feelings of gratitude, or lack thereof.

One of the most beautiful things I have learned along the way is that, to be grateful is to love, and that without love an understanding of gratitude cannot be enveloped within myself.

I am not referring of love for a person or thing, but rather love as a feeling and concept within myself . It is said that God is love. I have found that to be true for me, from my own personal experience.

From my experience, to the degree that I am filled up with or low on the feeling of love within myself I feel more or less connected to God, more or less a part of God. There is knowing this intellectually, and then there is living it. There is experiencing this feeling of love as an effect that has been caused from somewhere other than myself, and there is noticing that I am falling short on it then purposely straightening myself out to bring all or parts of it back.

This is what I have found to be true, and this is how I can manage to describe and explain my experiences and thoughts.

God is love. I know this to be true from my own personal experience.

When I explore and discover a depth of gratitude, I discover and experience a greater sense of love and thereby a deeper sense of God, a deeper connection with God.

My favorite realization about gratitude is that if I am thirsty and I have I have a drink of water in my hand, it is easy to be grateful for the water … but, there is so much more to be grateful for.

I am grateful for the vessel and the stand. The cup that holds the drink of water, I am grateful for that cup. I am grateful for whoever or whatever saw fit to design and create that cup, the vessel, that holds my drink of water. The cup has a stem and stand, and for these I am grateful too, for the support they afford the cup. Considering the vessel and the stand leads me to gratitude for the faucet I was able to turn that allowed my drink of water to flow into the cup.

I am grateful for the fact of the flowing water itself, and the pipes that lead it to my cup. Someone laid those pipes; in our case I even watched a few years ago as my husband dug the trench through our yard with this tractor that the pipes were laid in on an approach to our house. Prior to that, some workers came through the area and did the digging and the laying of the pipes that allow city water to come to our home so that we no longer have to use well and cistern water.

I am grateful for the all of the decisions and planning and funding and meetings and preparations that led to the workers who dug the trenches and laid the pipes that made it possible for us to have “city water” at our farm.

I am grateful for the abundant supply of water in our local streams, rivers, and lakes that makes it possible for a super abundance of water to be available for the city water, the wells, and the cisterns all around us. Grateful for the rain, grateful for the earth the rain falls on, the contours of the land that allow these waters to flow and move and arrive where they are needed.

I grateful for the weather that has allowed the rain and the snow to fall that supplies our rich water resources. Grateful even for the foul storms that have contributed to the motion. Grateful for the sunny days in between that have allowed some water to submerge into the earth and reroute itself in other ways so that our land is not flooded over with water unabated. I am grateful to my husband for bringing me here to this land, this farm, this river … this city water, and this drink of water I hold in my hands.

I am grateful for any man I knew or met before my husband whose behavior, attitude, and demeanor–good or bad–led to my ability to correctly perceive that this man is abundantly good and that we would be well suited to each other.

I am grateful for every seeming misstep I made in my life, those things I thought of in earlier times as missteps, that led me to this place I now call home. Each of those steps, no matter how painful, joyous, or uncomfortable, were correctly placed footsteps leading me inexorably in the right direction to a happiness I now cherish.

A simple drink of water, I am thirsty and this simple drink of water quenches my thirst.

My thirst is quenched and deeply, not only from the water making its way down my throat and into my belly but also quenched because of the myriad elements that led me to this drink of water at this particular time in this special place.

Tomorrow we will break bread and have a small feast of Thanksgiving foods and pumpkin pie. I will be grateful for the food, but I will look deeper and wider to find as much depth and breadth as I can for my gratitude. And in so doing, I will experience a fullness of love and a that for which I am most grateful … a closer connection with God.

I am grateful to you, whoever and wherever you are. Thank you for taking the time to read my entry and consider my thoughts today. If you have written to me, whether by comment or by email, I appreciate your words of encouragement and faith in what I offer here. I do this because of the love I feel within myself for you and for my brothers and sisters throughout this tiny world who are my fellow man.

Now, a toast for the good stuff … I raise my cup of water, and drink to love. Have a happy and loving Thanksgiving.

~firefly

Isn’t that something …

August 19, 2009 at 10:39 am | Posted in art, blogging, country life, dating, dogs, faith, family, gardening, health, knitting, Life, love, marriage, pets, photography, pumpkin recipes, relationships, romance, summer | 25 Comments
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fieldofdreamsI started writing this blog on August 6, 2006. That was just a little over three years ago and I had just recently married my husband, driven across the country with him from Los Angeles to upstate western New York and joined him to live on the farm. It was all so fresh and new to me then, and still is in so many ways. But man, how things have changed and evolved in just three short years.

Moving from Los Angeles to a farm in New York was, needless to say, a mind-boggling change in life. Getting married after almost twenty years of being a very self-sufficient, independent single/divorced woman was an enormous change. I remember so crisply the moment when I was sitting out back on the stoop the day after we arrived “home” following our cross-country honeymoon drive and watched as my new husband circled the barn on his tractor and saying in somewhat stupefied* wonder, “I live on a farm. I live on a farm, and my husband drives a tractor.”

*stupefy: verb: “2. to stun, as with a narcotic, a shock, or a strong emotion., 3. to overwhelm with amazement; astound; astonish.” (Dictionary.com)

haybales2When I started writing my blog, I had no idea where it would lead me much less where it would lead you as a reader. I just intended to write a blog about whatever knitting projects I was working on and participate in that online community a bit. It was an experiment to find out what blogging was about and to learn what I could about the process. I chose knitting as my subject because knitting is something I know a thing or two about and so felt I could say something sensible on the subject.

What happened though, is that the blog became an outlet for the process of discovery that I was involved in. As I got to know my new environment here I shared my discoveries in my blog and my readers enjoyed coming along with me on that journey. So, off I went discovering more and more about where I am now and what my new life is all about.

oldcornYou know how it is when you are watching a movie or you see something in life that is amazing or amusing and you want to have someone right there who you can say, “Wow, wasn’t that something?!” to. It is more satisfying and electrifying if you have someone to share that moment with. I think you get more out of the moment or the joke or whatever if you have someone to share it with. Well, so it is with what has happened in my life. This blog, and you the reader, have worked together to expand and enrich the experiences I am having here. It is as if all of you readers as a whole are this great big combined person I have to share a beautiful childlike sense of wonder with as I go about exploring and discovering my new life.

Whenever I am out and about in the yard, or at the river, on a nearby farm, etc. I see interesting or beautiful things and I think of you and I want to say, “Hey take a look at this … isn’t that something!” The funny thing is, I feel you right there beside me in this universe. I grab the camera and shoot a photo to capture whatever it is, and I have you my reader in my mind as I do it and I can feel the moment in the future when I share that photo with you and you get it. You are my companion and my friend, and I know you are there.

Now, isn’t that something.

I know my posts have become fewer and farther between lately, but that is because there is a baby in the house and I have this momentary opportunity to experience first-hand my granddaughter’s development and growth as she begins her journey into a new life with all of the discoveries that go along with it. My blogging will return to a weekly routine before too long, and I will have even more to share with my readers. I promise I am not giving up on this adventure.

cinderellaMeanwhile, what a summer we are having. Three years ago I was a woman freshly arrived from Los Angeles who had tried to grow a garden in the desert and only created more tumbleweeds. Now I am partly responsible for a thriving pumpkin patch on a piece of earth measuring 36′ x 36′ … a trinket sized garden on a fifty-acre farm in Western New York. Not only do we have many pumpkins growing out there, we have big pumpkins growing out there. For me, this is a huge and happy win because I have not had success before this growing plants in or out of the home. Now I can go out back and pick my way among huge happy pumpkin vines with big ol’ cheerful leaves and find white, green, yellow, and orange pumpkins in various sizes, shapes, and stages of development. None of those pumpkins would be there if I hadn’t dreamed up this Sincere Pumpkin Patch, ordered seeds, helped get them started indoors, organized a work party to plant them outdoors, and participated in the activity of planting and christening them.

Of course, there has been some prayer involved and I know it has helped our pumpkins along. If you have prayed for our pumpkins, thank you so much for lending your support as well.

Three years ago I was also a woman who had made one small batch of somewhat runny strawberry preserves in Los Angeles. Now I regularly make preserves that set up right properly to a fine, even perfect consistency. Last year I made more than 100 jars of various preserves including sour cherry, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, and peach. This year I have made wild raspberry preserves, rhubarb, rhubarb-cranberry, and ginger-peach so far. The rhubarb-cranberry and the ginger-peach are special recipes I have developed and they are quite tasty, I must say. I will be making even more peach preserves, and this fall I will make some more of the apple preserves I started developing that first year I came to the farm. I am producing so many jars of preserves that I actually am in need of a jelly cabinet.

cottoncandyNow, isn’t that something.

Last year I even canned four jars of sour cherries, and four jars of peaches. That might not sound like much, but for a first-time canner it was a pretty big deal to me. This year, I have signed up for two canning classes at the local 4-H club, one for peaches and one for apples. Next summer I intend to can more cherries and peaches, and I also want to do something with some tomatoes (which my husband seems to be good at growing).

Another recent development is that we are attending obedience classes with Blu. Blu is a dear dog, and we love him almost desparately. However, he has tended to be an unstable dog who is capable of misbehaving, stealing (and eating) entire bricks of butter, barking inappropriately, and running away in the opposite direction when I say, “Come.”

Last night we attended our third class and he is doing great. I can tell he appreciates the training, because he has become even more affectionate and has become more relaxed as well. I enjoy the one-on-one time we spend together out in the yard each day reviewing his lessons. It is great to be able to walk with him now without having him constantly going in circles around me. He actually walks by my side and trucks along with me. If all we accomplished from the class was just that one thing, that would be plenty right there. Blu, you old silly dog. I do love you so much.

webeelittleBlogging, knitting, and painting have all slipped a bit by the wayside over the past few months because life has been demanding my time and attention in other areas. Now I am gearing up again for quite a bit of painting production for two reasons. One is that five of the paintings I hanging at Zambistro Restaurant have sold over the past year and their walls are begging me for more. On top of that, a lady phoned me recently who is opening an art gallery across the street from the restaurant and she wants to put on a show of my work this coming January, shortly after she opens. I am also supposed to display again at the Cobblestone Society Museum for their Olde Tyme Days event on September 12, coming up here shortly.

I have hardboard panels laying all over the place now being prepped for many paintings to come and I’ve been pouring over photographs choosing my subjects and getting my thoughts all organized. I am up for the challenge and life seems to be arranging itself more harmoniously for the kind of production I need to get into. Somehow I will make it all go right and get everything back on track.

Life, as it turns out, is a great big glorious moving river. Sometimes it slows down a bit, sometimes it gets all muddy and roars right past as it hurries you along. Sometimes it absolutely sparkles with jewels on a perfect summer day, inviting you to jump in and have a swim. Other times it glows under the sublime light of a full golden moon, giving you a few minutes to contemplate the joys and loves and smiles you have been blessed with in life.

sincereAs always, I am grateful for it all. Even the muddy waters that move too quickly and leave me feeling temporarily dazed. They too serve a purpose and I embrace them fully, now that I understand the way life works. It is all good. There are jewels hidden in any and every experience, and it is up to me whether I discover those jewels or not. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t … but I am certain they are always there somewhere.

~firefly

P.S. Today my mother begins chemotherapy. Please pray for her, and for my father. My father is on his fourth round of chemotherapy. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for them to be going through this at the same time. They are the kindest, most loving and gentle people you could ever hope to know and quite strong. I know they will get through this, but I also know that extra love, thoughts, and prayers headed their way will help. Thank you.

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