A small town “Hallmark” Christmas

December 11, 2006 at 2:43 pm | Posted in Christmas, country living, dating, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, humor, knitting, love, recipes, relationships, romance | 27 Comments

Fireflys Critters Can KnitI found out this weekend the critters I have been making are able to knit. I was not aware of their having that particular talent, but I came downstairs early this morning and found three of them sitting around in a little circle knitting away and having a wee chat by candle light. Somehow or other they had managed to get ahold of some little finishing nails to use as knitting needles, and they had bits of my yarn. It was all very sweet, and this one was kind enough to sit for a photo. (I could be wrong, but I believe their intention is to contribute squres to my Gracious Parcels project.)

Recently my husband and I have watched two or three made for TV Christmas movies. You know, the type that is set in a sterotypical small town where someone from a city somewhere for some reason ends up in a charming small town. Inevitably they meet someone and fall in love over the Christmas holiday, and there is snow, and there are kind faced folks, and Christmas music magically dances on the air. My husband pointed out there stories often include a barn with horses and a fire, and the horses have to be saved.

We have mused over the fantasy people seem to have, or that movie makers seem to have, about that kind of scenario. What is it about small towns, anyway? Why is that picked as the setting for the perfect Christmas? Who are these Hollywood people trying to fool anyway?

Fireflys Critters Can Sing and Play the BanjoAnother steryotypical element I have noticed in television shows and movies alike is that so many main characters work for ad agencies, or marketing firms, or they are writers of some kind or another. I’ve been commenting to my husband about that, and wondering why it is that Hollywood writers seem to think everybody has that kind of a job? What is up with that, anyway? Can’t they imagine a different kind of job?

One day last week I drove to one of the nearby villages to pick up more Gracious Parcels packages. While I was there I had to stop in at the one little general store in town to pick up a loaf of bread. As I was walking back to the pickup truck, on this charming little small town street, with the charming little small town storefronts, crunching through the snow and enjoying the Christmas music that was playing on the street in the town I looked around quizzically and a bit in wonder. “Wow”, I thought to myself, “I am in one of those movies.”

A couple of nights later, my husband and I went to another small town about twenty five miles from here for a Christmas tour of a restored Victorian era home, complete with costumed carolers and mulled cider. The house is situated on a handsome street among other beautiful homes from an earlier time. Fresh snow carpeted the neighborhood, and we walked along hand-in-hand on the snowy sidewalk toward the house. There was a very distinct feeling of Christmas in the air, and there I was hand-in-hand with a great guy who I just recently married. And I had that strange feeling again. I said outloud to him in a whisper, “Honey, I am in one of those movies. It feels like I am a character in one of those movies.” We both chuckled.

Friday of last week I spent most of the day working for one particular client … my favorite client in fact. I have been working on a copy re-write for his website and had come up with what I thought was a quoteable slogan for his homepage. I was working on a graphic mockup to make a presentation to him. It was a very productive day, and I felt very good with what I came up with. So, I emailed it to him and pitched the idea. He phoned me later to say he loved the concept and the mock-up. It is a wonderful feeling when you pull something off and make a client that happy.

A Detail Shot of One of Fireflys CrittersLater, as my husband and I drove along on a little country road to go into town to buy ingredients for the Christmas cookies we would be baking over the weekend at his sister’s house, I was telling him what a great day I had and how things went with my client. I told him how strange it is that I don’t have specific educational credentials or training that led me into the field I am in and yet here I am writing marketing copy all the time, writing website content, writing my blog, and even at times designing ads and ad campaigns.

As I was saying that to him I said, “Oh my gosh … I am a character in one of those movies! Here I am, newly arrived in a rural area, met a great guy, married him, I work freelance on a farm as a writer and do some marketing and advertising work, and we have a barn, and there’s snow, and its Christmas!” No horses though, so I think our barn is safe.

And, add to it the whole thing of going to that fair back at the end of September and entering pies and biscuits in their competition and winning blue ribbons. I mean, what is this anway? What is going on?

Okay, now I might be arriving very late to the ball, but honestly, it is all just now dawning on me. Is that what some of you have meant when you have made comments that I’m living a fairy tale life?

This is so strange, so weird. My life has become a Hallmark movie … or something. I am living one of those movies. I am dazed.

Perhaps you all got this before I did. Perhaps I have been too caught up in the living of my new life to take a viewpoint exterior to it and see how much it resembles certain movies I have seen in the past.

It is very, very weird to suddenly feel as if you are a character in a story. Is someone writing me and all of this? Am I real, or am I a figment of your imagination, or my imagination … or worse, am I a figment of the imagination of some Hollywood playwright?

I think I need to go have a strong cup of coffee. If I go down there and find that several of you have magically appeared around my fireplace with cups of coffee and knitting projects in hand, I think I might not be too awfully surprised the way things are going just about now.

Fireflys Christmas Story Book CoverOn another subject, I am now offering paid downloads of the eBook of my story, “A Christmas Story”. At least fifty percent of the proceeds will be donated to our local Habitat for Humanity Affiliate. The story is one I wrote, with illustrations by my sister, and self published back in the eighties when my children were little.

A that time, as a young mother I wanted to write a Christmas story that would inspire my children to look at Christmas not so much as a time when they were receiving gifts from others, but instead as a time to be giving of themselves to others, whether it be by gifts or by actions.

My sister works at a private school in Soutern California, and many years ago she began reading my story aloud to various classes in the school. The children of the school loved the story so much, it became an annual tradition she continues to this day.

I hope you will consider downloading a copy of this book … and more importantly, if you do download it I hope you will read it aloud to a child in your life and pass the message of love and goodwill along.

Meanwhile, I wish you a beautiful day.


Whatever happened to ol’ Bernie?

November 29, 2006 at 5:28 pm | Posted in country living, dating, faith, family, free knitting patterns, humor, Knit Alongs, knit-a-long, knitting, love, Thanksgiving, yarn | 19 Comments

Barn of the HorsearseBack in the summer, on our way back from church one Sunday morning, we stopped up the road a bit so I could shoot a photograph of a nice old barn I admired. I got the shot I wanted, but as we pulled away I caught sight of a second, smaller barn that was back a bit behind the first one. The second barn had boards falling out of it, and light spilled in from the back side wall, lighting the little barn up from within.

Standing near the door, and with only his rump and hind legs showing, was an old sway-backed white and grey horse. The lighting was perfect for lighting up his rump … and I thought to myself, “That’s the shot!”

But alas, I did not say anything to my husband who would have gladly stopped and gone back for me to capture the moment. The next week I made sure to take the camera with me, hoping to see the shot again. It didn’t happen. For weeks afterwards, anytime we went that way I took the camera along and looked for the shot, but the horse was never standing right there at a time when the barn was lit just that way again.

Fireflys Post Thanksgiving Photo OpsMy husband and I have shared a number of jokes about what to call the shot if I ever get it. I would actually like to make a watercolor painting of it. My final conclusion is that the horse wants my attention and he gets it as long as he fails to provide me with the shot I am looking for. He is guaranteed, as long as he doesn’t stand just that way in just that light, that I will look for him and look at him whenever we drive by as long as we both shall live.

I’m cool with that. I have come to feel very fond of the sweet old sway backed horse. He has a cow for a friend and a good sized flock of geese. Those geese will often stand milling about in the road early in the morning. As we approach in our truck they just stand there gabbing and looking us up and down. They are quite reluctant to budge although they usually do waddle away complaining loudly as they turn their backs and step aside after bringing us pretty much to a complete halt.

Perhaps they just want some attention as well.

There was a turkey walking amongst them for a while, but I believe he is elsewhere now. Oh well, such is the life of a turkey I suppose.

Fireflys Post Thanksgiving Photo Ops 2My grandmother on my father’s side (we called her “Granny”) had a goose named Bernie on her farm when I was a little girl. He was a big, white goose with a strange sense of humor and a bit too much mischief for my taste at the time. For some reason he liked chasing me through the rows in her garden, nibbling at the buttons of my coat and pecking peevishly at my legs. I have a vivid recollection on one sunny autumn day of me running back and forth amidst the rows with the goose chasing after me while Granny chatted amiably with someone in the garden, seemingly completely undisturbed by my anguished flight back and forth through the rows.

Bernie was also mischievious with my grandmother’s pigs. He would get in the pig pen with them and chase them around, annoying them no end I am certain. His favorite antic was to grab a hold of a pig by its squiggly tail and then run along behind the pig flapping his wings and lifting off a bit as the pig ran squealing all around the pig pen.


One Thanksgiving Granny went out to feed the pigs and found clumps of feathers and Bernie’s beak in the pig pen. Horrible though it is to think of, the pigs evidently had a Thanksgiving day feast that morning at Bernie’s expense and the feathers and beak were all that remained of our mutual tormenter.

Oh Bernie. You were a pretty goose, despite being an annoying tease. You frightened me, but I have never forgotten you, you old goose.

The moral of this little story: Don’t go messing with a gang of pigs on major holidays. Evidently they have their own way of dealing with lawlessness and it ain’t pretty.

I mentioned in Monday’s post my husband took me out on a drive late in the afternoon this past Saturday to see if we could find some photo ops. Our first stop was the Barn of Horsearse (as we sometimes refer to the barn I described above). We also shot a couple of red barns glowing in the golden hour light. I have such a thing for barns.

I love going out shooting photos with my husband. He lets me use his wonderful Nikon digital camera: even though he is as much of a photographer as I am, he is happy to be the driver when we go on a shoot. I can ask him to stop anywhere, go back to any point, turn this way and that with the vechicle, wait for me while I take twenty shots of the same thing … and never a complaint. He seems quite happy to offer that kind of support to my artistic habit.

Did I mention I love him?

I think back to when he and I first met … he sent that email to me on January 29th of this year. By the weekend after Valentine’s day we were talking on the phone for the first time, and by the first week of March we were already making plans for our wedding to be the last weekend or so of April. At that time, we still had not met face to face.

Fireflys Hand Knit Blue Boa for a Little GirlI was speaking with him about it again a few days ago and told him that though it seems like such a “leap” of faith we made back then, the truth is it wasn’t a leap at all. It was definitely faith. But, a faith so strong and secure there was no “leap” involved. It was sound judgement on my part and on his to act on faith of that character.

I’m so glad we did.

What does faith mean to you? I mean faith itself, faith in yourself and in what you know and see whether it relates specifically to your relationship with God or not. I am interested in knowing more about you.

See that bright blue bit of fluff in the photo with the teddy bear? I am knitting a “boa” for my husband’s nephew’s little three year old girl. She loves to play dress up. My husband wanted us to give her a little something extra along with the bigger toy we ordered for her, so I offered to knit up a boa. It is a cute little pattern I devised using this incredibly soft polymide fiber. I’ll post yarn info and directions on Friday. It’s a quick one-evening knit, so there is still time to make one for a special little girl you know.

Have a beautiful day.


Mistakes and whims

November 17, 2006 at 4:20 pm | Posted in country living, dating, faith, family, free knitting patterns, humor, knitting, love, relationships, stockings, yarn | 13 Comments

Firefly Gets Winter Berries from her Sister in LawLast night we went to visit my husband’s mother at the place where she stays. I have written of her before: she has Alzheimer’s and lives in a very lovely assisted living facility about an hour from our farm. She is very sweet and loving. I enjoy our visits with her because, while she might not have current memory that lasts more than a little while, she does remember much of her younger life including the time when my husband was a little boy.

Side Bar: This morning I published the pattern for the new knitted gift bag I mentioned in my post a couple of days ago. I hope you like it.

Back to the Blog: Her reminiscing tends to focus on and romanticize the best of times from her past, which I think is wonderful. Her descriptions might not match up perfectly with “reality”, but reality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be anyway. I enjoy her stories, especially when she talks about the time they spent at our cottage on the river, five miles down the road from where we live. She brings it to life and as she speaks adoringly of days gone by, my imagination lights up like a firefly and roams the countryside of her bygone days.

After our visit with her, we drove over a few miles to the next town to stop in for a visit with his sister and her husband. I love my new sister-in-law … we have even said, “I love to you,” to each other recently. It was a thrill to be able to say it and know it is true. She is a lovely, creative lady. She grows flowers, vegetables, and herbs in her large yard and garden. An abundance of gorgeous healthy living plants spring from the work of her slender hands. She dries flowers and other plants which she then uses in a myriad of creative projects.

Fireflys Magestic Golden Willow TreeShe and her husband grew a bunch of gourds this year, and they have been busy making gourd bird houses together. He makes delicate drawings of flowers, fruits, vines, grapes, leaves, etc. and applies them to the gourds and she paints them. The designs are fine and tender … I would not be able to bring myself to put one of those gourds outside because they are such works of art.

Last night she showed me her attic, where bunches and bunches of flowers and other plants hang in clumps from the rafters, drying in the darkness of a scrumptiously old home: the house she and my husband grew up in. (Our farm is a place his parents bought over twenty years ago, just before his father died.)

That attic with the drying flowers was a very inspiring space to explore.

She gave me a bag full of dried items to use in the critters I will be making for our Christmas tree. I plan to get started on them this afternoon when my husband gets home from work. I am axiously awaiting that time …

Fireflys Hand Knit Elf Christmas StockingShe also gave me a few branches of winter berry to put in a vase. The branches are a dark charcoal grey and the berries are a wonderful Christmas red. I had to take the cuttings outside after I put them in my vase for an outdoors photoshoot. And lookie there … why I do believe there is an Elf Stocking hanging on one of the branches.

I knit that little stocking up yesterday morning for the collection I will hang on our tree. I have one other one I brought here with me, and I will be making several more. Next week I might be publishing patterns for a set of four or six Elf Stockings along with the letter from Mrs. Claus which is supposed to accompany each one if they are given as gifts. Next week I also hope to publish an online version of a Christmas book I wrote and self-published (with illustrations by my sister) when my children were little. It is a sweet little story about giving rather than receiving, and about being grateful for life around you … through the eyes and actions of a little girl and her young brother. I am hoping that by publishing the Elf Stocking patterns and Mrs. Claus letter along with the Christmas book I might be able to raise some money for our Habitat for Humanity. We’ll see how it all goes. Something for you to look forward to, perhaps, if I can pull it all off.

The latest entries in the parade of fall colors are willow trees and apple orchards. Though most of the gorgeous autumn leaves have fallen and turned rusty brown, the willows and apple trees have just gone full golden over the past several days. I am hoping to get out to the apple orchards this weekend to catch them photographically before the pretty yellow leaves disappear.

Today it is cold with a very chilly damp wind blowing in, I believe from the southwest (if I am reading the bending trees correctly). This morning when I went out behind the barn to photograph our magestic willow in her golden glory, the ground was so wet it tried several times to hold onto my husband’s boots (I usually slip on a pair of his boots when I go out on my photo journeys around the property in the mornings). The pulling of the mud on the boots, the way it tried to keep ahold of them whenever I raised my foot was an interesting sensation. I haven’t felt that particular sensation since I was a child and lost my new — brand new — shoe in a bit of hungry mud while walking home from school one day. It makes a very cool sound when you do manage to get it to let go.

Fireflys Barn on a Cold November DayEach time I am out in the yard shooting photographs, there is usually an interesting shot of the barn. I am impressed with the steadfastness of our barn. I love to look at it and talk to it … afterall, it has been standing there about two hundred years and must have seen many things during that time. I wonder sometimes what the future holds for that barn and I while I am here. It will be interesting to get to that part of this adventure someday.

Next week I will give you more of the story about how my husband and I came to marry each other a mere three months after having met online via email. But I will say this one thing, because it is on my mind just now. It was just about one year ago that he and I both just happened to, on a whim, sign up at that online dating site for farmers, ranchers, and rural folk. As near as we have been able to figure it out, we both signed up pretty much on the same day.

We didn’t “meet” until a couple of months later when he happend to, by accident, forget to limit his search results to people within a 400 mile radius of where he lived. Hmm. Now, wasn’t that interesting and fortuitous? Luckily, when he made that “mistake”, I had just reinstated my memebership at the site. Thank goodness for mistakes and whims.

Have a beauitful, productive weekend.


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