72 degree air

July 7, 2009 at 7:06 pm | Posted in art, baby, country life, country living, faith, family, gardening, gifts, health, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, summer, travel | 8 Comments
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sincere-2-350Can you recall, just now, a perfect moment from your life? Any moment when everything was magically perfect at that very instant. Perfect temperature, perfect time of day, perfect lighting, perfect breeze, perfect level of sound and noise, perfect sense of touch, of well being, everything right in place, right on time, just as you would want it?

On June 26 I sat in our living room having one of those extraordinarily perfect moments. The temperature was a perfect (for me) 72 degrees. I was sitting in our living room, all the windows were open, a wonderful cool summer breeze wafted through the room. The rhythmic sound of the breeze moving in the trees on our lawn and over by the river was soothing like waves against a seaside shore. Song birds twittered, cooed and sang in layers near and far.

The sky was a mix of white and gray clouds against a brilliant blue summer sky. The limbs of trees surrounding our home were heavy with blankets of green leaves flittering in the breeze, sunlight glowing through them as they shone in every hue and shade of green.

green-yardI felt comfortable, content and relaxed as I sat there recalling the preceding week I had spent on our farm with my sweet family and a dear family friend. This is the story of what we, a few of us, did to create and live within heaven on Earth for one perfect week this summer.

It started back at Christmas when my son and I spoke about the possibility that he would return to visit us on the farm in June so he could see what the place and the area are like in early summer. Later in the year, when Sweet Pea was born, we came up with the idea that perhaps we could fly my parents out for Father’s Day and have my son come out at the same time. It would be a great time for us all to see each other again and for the family to meet little Sweet Pea.

All agreed, so the real planning began. At some point I added in the thought that our dear friend who had moved to Florida from L.A. ten years ago might come up to the farm as well. I knew it would be great for him and my father to see each other again so I put the idea out there, and at some point he agreed to come as well.

dadontractorAs the date approached we learned that my father’s cancer had progressed to a point where he would need to start chemotherapy before they headed out this way. At that point I started thinking that we should come up with a project that we could all work together on, some kind of a project outdoors to create something lasting, something for the future.

I have written about some of these elements before, but I am weaving the entire story together for you here so as to make a certain point … of course, that won’t come until the end; please bear with me.

My husband and I already planned on planting a pumpkin patch for Sweet Pea, and one suggestion I had for a group project was that we would put up an entryway for the Sincere Pumpkin Patch. It seemed like a simple enough project that it would not tax anyone’s energy too terribly and playful enough that we could all have some childlike fun working together on it.

We passed the word along, and everyone agreed the pumpkin patch entryway would be a wonderful project to work on together. My husband and I got the seeds started ahead of time indoors so by the time everyone arrived there were 18 pumpkin plants thriving in little peat pots on our sun porch.

planting1A few days before our guests arrived my husband asked me what exactly I had in mind for the entryway. What I told him was that I wanted something that would be along the lines of what a couple of kids would create if they were putting one up. I didn’t want it to be perfect or too symmetrical. I didn’t want the wording to be neat and orderly. I told him that basically I thought it would be cool if it looked as if Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn had put it together themselves.

He loved the idea, and so did my daughter. As our guests arrived and we told them about our plans, everyone agreed it would be perfect and fun.

My parents arrived Thursday evening, our dear friend arrived Friday afternoon. The first couple of days we spent mostly indoors visiting because there was quite a lot of rain. That was perfect in itself, because it gave my parents a chance to get caught up with our Florida friend and for all of us to spend quite a lot of quality time with little Sweet Pea.

planting2My son came in on Sunday, late in the morning and that was the day the fun really began. It was cool and overcast but free of rain and the lawn needed mowing. We had promised my father that he could get on the tractor and help with mowing the lawn while he was here. He was determined to take us up on that no matter what, because of his own fond memories of driving a tractor when he was a boy.

SIDE BAR: My father had his first chemotherapy session about three weeks before they travelled here to see us. Before flying out, his doctor did a blood test to see how his body had responded to the chemo. The results were so positive that the doctor and nurses were jubilant about his progress and sent him off on his vacation with many blessings and good wishes. Shortly after returning home, he went in for his second round of chemo as well as another updated blood test. That test showed that he already had a 91% improvement from just that first chemotherapy treatment. The cancer treatment center he attends has a campaign they are currently running with this motto: “Love heals.” Our story proves the validity of that motto.

fireflyartisticBACK TO THE BLOG: We have about three acres of lawn that gets mowed by tractor, so my husband got my father started on the north section of yard, out past the barn. I was in the house when the action began, and by the time I got back there to see how it was going the paparazzi had arrived, so to speak. Everyone has a digital camera these days, and what I saw as I walked back that way was my mother, our friend, my son, and my daughter each of them with a camera aimed in my father’s direction, getting shots of him driving the tractor. It was a great sight, because the yard is so large and it was all so green and here were all of these people I loved with cameras in front of their faces, taking pictures of my father while he enjoyed one of his perfectly happy moments in time.

Midway through his tractor driving, I took a bottle of water out to him and he told me with a big broad smile on his face that driving that tractor out there was the best Father’s Day gift he could have received. How perfect is that!

After Dad finished up the back part of the yard, my son got on the tractor and got to work on the section on the west side, out by the willow tree and the area we had designated as the official site for the Sincere Pumpkin Patch. It was wonderful to see my son driving a tractor, and I was thrilled that he wanted to do it. He has a great life in L.A. that he loves, is a partner in a wonderful up and coming business (I’ll talk about that more in a future blog). He’s a talented artist and designer, a very professional and hard working guy. Seeing him out here in the open space and lush green beauty of our farm driving a tractor was great and I will treasure the images always … one of my perfect moments in time and hopefully one of his as well.

signpostOur Florida friend got up on the tractor next, and he helped with handling the middle section of the yard where there are a lot of trees and so forth to get around. He is great big, 6 1/2-foot tall man who loves the outdoors and gardening. However, where he currently lives he doesn’t have an opportunity to do this kind of thing so I know it was a great treat for him to ride around on a tractor for a while as well. He looked very professional and serious as he went round and round, and I loved seeing him having such fun.

It was a wonderful feeling to be able to open up this place and this opportunity to some of the people I love most in the world and gratifying to see how much they enjoyed it in turn. I treasure my husband for so many things, and I treasure him especially for his generosity in letting me bring everyone here and letting them all have a shot at driving his most treasured toy in the world … that sweet Kubota tractor.

Monday morning after having coffee and breakfast together, we all set out together to the site designated as Sincere, which my husband had tilled and prepped the week before. We started off with a modest size of 36′ x 36′ and 18 plants. Everyone pitched in and helped out with making mounds in the earth, placing markers, digging holes and planting. It was a perfect day of blue skies, abundant green surroundings, and a soft cool summer breeze.

sincere-signWe set up a line of chairs under a shade tree for anyone who wanted to take a break and have a chat, our screened up tent style gazebo was also set up under another shade tree. Everywhere you looked someone was doing something. It was a productive, happy morning of perfect weather and great camaraderie.

That afternoon we had to take our Florida friend back to the airport with warm hugs and many good wishes for safe travel along with hopes for return trips to the farm.

As the week continued we had more outdoor projects to do including using the backhoe on the tractor to dig out some tree and shrub stumps and planting some new shrubs by one of our porches. Both my father and my son got to participate in the backhoe operation, which was great fun. It was another perfect day of pretty blue skies, wispy white clouds and cool summer breezes. The weather could not have been more perfect and helped create the sense of nirvanic heaven we were all experiencing.

The final project was painting and posting the entryway to Sincere. My husband and I bought some not so perfect wood posts and slats for the job. I drew jagged edges along the ends of the slats for the sign board, and he cut them by hand. I used a carpenter’s pencil to write “Sincere Pumpkin Patch” in crude lettering, then my son and daughter and I painted them in a variety of colors, resorting to finger painting to do the finishing touches. As a last touch, we painted one of my hands white and I pressed it against the sign to make a single handprint on one end.

The next morning my father, my husband and son all worked together digging post holes and putting up the entryway sign.

handprintDuring that week of vacation we enjoyed many good meals together, laughed a lot, worked side-by-side, shot thousands of photos (it seems), smiled, hugged, chatted and napped. Having a house full of people in this old farm house was a spectacular and magical experience. I wonder how many years it had been since so many people slept beneath the roof of this place at one time, how long it had been since there was such an abundance of joy and creative endeavor here all at once. Now that we all have a taste of it, there will be many more such times in the future.

This was a reunion of true friends and family on precious ground. It was a big ol’ down-home party for Sweet Pea, as her larger family got a chance to meet her and welcome her into the world in a big way.

Though everyone has now returned to their other homes, they all know this place is also home for each of them whenever they wish to return.

My father says that week was like a week in Nirvana, and I think he was right.

Heaven, nirvana … home. I call this kind of perfection “72 Degree Air”.

welcometosincere

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.

Perhaps.

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?

Love,
firefly

“Hope you are well …”

February 2, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Posted in blogging, country life, country living, faith, family, gifts, health, Holidays, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, snow, Valentine's Day | 21 Comments
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leafThe title of this post comes from the tag end of a comment left by coffeespaz on the last blog I posted. I just read her comment, just before I set about writing today’s post and decided to open with her close … “Hope you are well, and Happy New Year!”

Today I am well: better yet, I know I am well. Now I want you to know that I am well. I have received quite a few emails over the past couple of months inquiring as to my health because I have not posted many times lately. It is very appreciated, the concern and the friendship.

So, here is the truth and after I tell the truth I will explain an important reason for telling the truth in this public manner.

newyear09_pumpFor the past few months there have been certain phoenomena going on with my body, and I have been two see a few different doctors to see if someone could get a handle on what it was. Of course, the details are not important, details are far too personal. Three weeks ago my primary doctor decided to have a few tests done to rule out a type of cancer: oh yikes, that word. It is a problem, isn’t it.

It is an uncomfortable word to say outloud if it seems it might be any where near you or someone you love. When my doctor first mentioned the possibility he didn’t use the word outright, he used some other word that allowed me to pretend I didn’t entirely understand what he was saying he wanted to have tested and ruled out.

When I told the people closest to me about the tests, I also used the substitute word as if by not saying the real word outloud I could somehow keep it a safe distance away from me and from all of us.

The following day I went for a CAT-scan, and then I waited 24 hours or so to call my doctor’s office and find out that yes indeed, he wanted me to go on to a specialist for another kind of test.

To be very honest, I was very upset by the subject being entered into. My oldest brother died just a few years ago at my age from a type of cancer. He was my age at that time, and it was this time of year when he got the news. A two or three months later he was gone. Those facts were very difficult to keep out of my mind, no matter how positive I was or how strong my faith is. Life is life, and sometimes life sucks and I realized that it could be possible that after all of this recent happiness perhaps my life was going to suck after all. I apologize for being crude, but I that is how I felt about it all.

newyear09_barnWhen I sat down to write my blog and I was stumped. I didn’t know what to say, because my blog is all about positive inspiration, reinforcing dreams, encouraging people to find magic in their lives, and so on. What did I have to say along those lines, what could I do to inspire others when I wasn’t feeling quite right about my own life.

It occurred to me that I could write an honest blog about what was going on with me, but I was torn as to whether or not it was the right thing to do. In the end, I realized I had a responsibility to write about this experience because that is what I do in my blog. I open up about my experiences in life and how I deal with them.

I feel a responsibility to do so at this point because I have received many comments and emails from people who have been touched and inspired by my communication over the past couple of years. I know I have a positive way of dealing with problems and situations that come up in life. By sharing my experiences and how I face them — good or bad — I might touch the life of one person on one particular day when they needed courage and encouragement the most. If each one of my posts touches just one person in that way, somewhere along the line, then I know I am making a difference in a troubled world.

So, I write.

newyear09_wreakageI sat down that day and wrote what I felt was an honest, somewhat raw, high quality post about what I was facing and how I intended to deal with it. Mostly I wanted to deal with it by saying it outloud to someone, removing and releasing fear in the doing.

As I wrote that blog my mind shifted from being worried and somewhat afraid to being strong and actually looking forward to the possibility of an opportunity to face something difficult and finding a way to beat it.

What I wrote about in that blog was what I would do if I was told I had cancer, of how I would create my life and my life’s works bigger, brighter, more colorful, bolder, with more energy. If I was told I had somekind of cancer I would work even hard on creating my life and making it as joyous as I could.

By the time I finished that blog I felt much better and knew that no matter what the doctor’s came up with that was going on inside of my body that I would ultimately be a point of “cause” in my own life in determining my own attitude about whatever news, details, or events would come. I would not allow any kind of illness or medical situation determine my level of happiness, the strength of my sense of faith, or the vigor with which I dream of the future I am interested in experiencing.

I clicked “Save Draft” in my wordpress.com blog dashboard, and waited while the draft was saved. Then I went back to the draft to read through it, and it was gone. Completely and utterly erased as if I had never written a word of it. Gone, kaput, vanished.

Soon my husband came home and I told him about my well crafted blog post I had just written that vanished out of thin air. I told him that perhaps it disappeared because, perhaps I wasn’t supposed to tell that story afterall. Then he said something so simple and so clear, “Maybe it was important for you to write it.”

I knew he was right. I told him I wanted us to say the “C” word outloud to each other, that I wanted us to confront the fact together that I was being examined to see if a cancer was in my body. I feel strongly that if there is something I fear, I need to walk toward it and confront it rather than shirking away. For me, if I can face something scary I have a shot at being bigger and badder than whatever that thing is. If I was going to have cancer, I wanted cancer to think of me as if I was Shaft.

I asked my husband to share in that attitude with me and that together we would face whatever the truth was, maintain strong faith, and win any battles we needed to win together as a team.

He is a very fine and good man and husband. Of course, he was on board with me.

It was liberating to turn the “C” word (with a capital “C”) into the “c” word … lower case.

So, today I went to the hospital and a specialist performed a procedure and then he told me, with my husband there with me, that indeed everything was actually fine. There was a simple, benign explanation for the odd phenomon that ultimately led me down this path. He pronounced me well.

We smiled and here I am.

valentinebunnyBut I will tell you this, even if the news had been different I assure you I would have followed through on my big bold plans and the Shaft attitude. And you know about Shaft, he’s a bad mother … I guess I better shut my mouth … but you can dig it.

By the way, while this has all been going on I have been taking it a bit easy. That has allowed me some time to play around with needle felting, and also to continue on with knitting baby items. You can see my most recent needle felted critters and knitting projects at The Knitting Blog.

Meanwhile, I hope you are well and that you are starting off a great week with a fine day.

Best wishes,
firefly

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