The Advent of Santa: Day 2

December 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Posted in baby, Christmas, country life, country living, dogs, family, gifts, Holidays, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, pets, photography, snow, socks, stockings, yarn | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It snowed heavily for much of the day yesterday; after about the first hour or so it started sticking to the ground.  We got several inches of snow, and the dogs had a particularly good time romping in it.

In today’s Advent of Santa you see a second Santa Claus from my collection.  This one my son bought for me in Colorado when he was about eleven years old.  He was visiting with his father before Christmas, and saw this Santa in a shop window.  I love how whispy and ethereal this particular Santa is, plus he has great sentimental value to me because of the connection with my son.

Speaking of my son, his English Bulldog is boarding with us on the farm for a while and, being a Los Angeles-raised Bulldog who was born in Texas, yesterday was his first time in the snow.  The first moment I took him outside he instantly looked all around excitedly and started snapping at falling snowflakes, trying to catch them in his mouth.

He ran around, jumping belly first into the snow and then twirling around, making his own version of snow angels.  I had never seen a dog making snow angels before, and I couldn’t help but laugh heartily.

He isn’t trained on the electric boundary fence yet, so I have to take him out on a leash, and he was running this way and that pulling me along, joyously jumping into the air (quite a sight to see a chubby, short-legged bulldog doing that) to try to catch the snowflakes. He is definitely a snow-loving dog.

This morning did his first ice-skating on the frozen autumnal pond that has filled in out by our grand old willow tree.  He took one step onto it and started skating around before breaking through.  Such a cute little guy, and so much fun to see him discovering an entirely different world.

I just finished this long, long, long hand knit Christmas Stocking for my daughter.  I will release a pattern for it next week sometime, but wanted to show a photo of it today because it is long and skinny like the Santa Claus in the top photo.

This is knit from two hansk of Foot Notes Sock Yarn I purchased from Fiber Optic Yarns (Kimber Baldwin Designs) last winter.  The two colorways I chose were her low contrast Batiks, Tomato and Pale Watercress. Amazingly, because her hanks of yarn are so generous in yardage, I still have plenty of left over yarn. I even knit a miniature version of this stocking for the Christmas tree, and still have plenty left over. I think will knit a pair of real socks for my baby grand-daughter from the remaining yarn … and even then will probably have some left over!

It is snowing again, the Nutcracker ballet is playing on the television in the background, and I am feeling rather Christmas-ie all up and down and inside and out.

I hope your advent of the season, whatever it is, is going well.

Until tomorrow …
~firefly

Copyright © 2010 J. L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Pumpkin seeds and tea cups

May 11, 2009 at 4:27 pm | Posted in art, baby, blogging, country life, country living, dating, dogs, faith, family, flowers, gardening, Life, love, marriage, pets, photography, relationships, romance, travel | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

21apr09_teacakeWhen my children were babies my parents tried to tell me how very different it is to be grandparents as opposed to being parents. I did my best to understand what they meant, but I realize now that I needed to be a grandparent myself to actually get it. So, Dad and Mom … I get it now.

[FYI: New knitting content was posted at The Knitting Blog 20 May 09.]

My daughter and I lived with my parents when she was born, and we lived with them for her first two years. Today my daughter and her daughter live with my husband and I and they will continue to do so for a few months still.

She and I take turns at night, being the one on call to listen out for little Sweet Pea, change her diaper when needed, rock her back to sleep. Of course, she takes care of all the feeding and I am on call as her back up doing what I can to help make sure this new mother gets some much needed sleep.

I alternate back and forth between some sort of super-human adrenalin-induced state that precludes my normal need for sleep and the sudden, instant onset of a “must sleep now” command that only hits at a time when I am not on call. Some parts of my body are feeling older than I thought I could feel, while emotionally and mentally I still feel complete odd calling myself “grandma” … it sounds so much older than I ever think of myself as being.

21apr_crocusMy mother was several years younger than I am now when I was the first of her five children to make her a grandmother. She didn’t look like any grandmother I had ever seen, and I suppose I don’t look like that mental image picture I have in my mind of what a grandmother is. My mental image is based on my own grandmothers, who seemed quite old to me when I was a child.

Oh well, what does it all mean anyway. Age is both relative and inevitable. There is a certain unavoidable math involved in parenthood and grandparenting. I believe you would need to be at least approximately 25 years old to become a grandmother, and as some of we women have proved, you can be two times that or older to be the mother of a newborn child.

I wonder, as I write this, what image might be in the reader’s mind of what I might look like now that you know me to be a grandmother. Picture me as a tiny little round orb of green-blue light orbiting round your garden on a hot summer night … remember, I am a firefly not a human being. What does that make Sweet Pea?

21apr09_7We have already begun making progress on Sweet Pea’s Sincere Pumpkin Patch project. A while back I ordered seeds for several varieties of pumpkins:

  • Big Moon Gigantic Pumpkins
  • Wee Be Little Pumpkins
  • Howden’s Field Pumpkins
  • Rouge d’Etampes Pumpkins
  • Cotton Candy Pumpkins
  • Long Island Cheese Pumpkins

We are going to try to make one or two vines of each variety grow and see what kind of pumpkins we can make appear by the end of summer. Pray for us, because we are not farmers even though we live on a farm. Well, pray for the vines and the pumpkins that God and the powers that be might be merciful with them and grant us (me in particular) a super-firefly ability to make this garden grow. [As I type this we are already behind schedule on starting our seeds indoors. Hopefully this is not a fatal error. It is, we will learn from our mistake.]

21apr09_5We will requisition a piece of our arable land back from the real farmer who rents from us and make that our experimental pumpkin patch. The idea, if you don’t recall, is that my husband and I will experiment with growing pumpkins and see what we can learn and accomplish within the next three or four years. If we can figure anything worthwhile out about it and produce some viable pumpkins, we will then pass on our knowledge and experience to Sweet Pea to help her grow her own pumpkin patch each year — that is, if Sweet Pea has any interest in this project.

Hopefully we will all become proficient enough that we will be able to have an annual “let’s go pick out our own jack-o-lantern” pumpkin picking day and Sweet Pea–if she is so inclined–can have a roadside pumpkin stand to earn a bit of her own pocket money and learn something about being an entrepreneur.

21apr09_1Spring in our area came early this year and is especially sweet and beautiful. The photos I am sharing on today’s blog are a bit outdated, because we are beyond this point by now. The fruit trees are all loaded down with blossoms, the lilac tree out by the back of the barn is plump with an abundance of lilac buds, some of the heirloom/antique vines and shrubs growing around the farm are alive with color, Rhoda (my heirloom tree peony) has so many buds this year I haven’t even counted them all.

Last week one morning I stepped out to take my daughter’s dog out for a stroll and it was beautiful outside I literally caught my breath. It was one of those perfect moments of spring beauty when the light is still golden after a morning shower that has just barely cleared out.

There are three swans hanging out on the piece of river we see from our kitchen and living room. I love the very fact of being able to walk through my house, look out the window and see a river and get the bonus of three swans lingering and feeding our side of the bend.

21apr09_4Saturday my husband was out restaking the white flags of the electronic fence for the dogs when I had a powerful urge to go out and tell him I love him and give him a hug for all the work he does around here. So I took off out through the yard and the field of dandelions, amongst the apples trees along our drive, past the willow and her little “gum drop” evergreen buddy. The sky was dark and stormy but in a soft, sweet spring sort of way. There was something so powerful about the scene with the dark clouds in the distance, the muted lighting in the immediate area, and all of the space surrounding us. Meeting up with him out there and sharing that instance of time and nature was one of those perfect little moments you come across that burns itself into your mind and heart forever.

Speaking of perfection … I asked an artist friend of mine to create a pencil portrait of sweet Blu as a birthday gift for my husband. His birthday isn’t until the end of May, but I received the portrait in April so I gave it to him as an anniversary gift instead. He loved it, and I am certain you will see why if you follow the link I provded. Christine Sargent is the artist; she draws and paints children and pets primarily, but also landscapes. She is a dear, dear friend of mine for many years from the L.A. area and a very talented professional artist. She was thoughtful enough to include a free print of the portrait as well as the original. So, we have one here at the farm to hang on the wall and he was able to frame one to hang in his office at work. Quite a treat, quite a treat indeed.

And yes, it was our anniversary just recently … April 29th. We have been married three years and are now grandparents together. In just three short years we have already faced some tough situations together and experienced much joy. After three years we have decided that this little Internet experiment of ours is working out just fine; for us the whirlwind romance of meeting online and getting married three months later worked out better than we even thought it would.

It’s a good life, and I am joyful and grateful to have found someone to help me make it so and that I can do the same for. Here’s to us, honey! May others find something like what we have found.

« Previous PageNext Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: