Tree Peonies of 2011

June 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Posted in art, blogging, country life, country living, faith, family, flowers, food, free knitting patterns, gardening, gifts, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, recipes, relationships, romance, shopping, travel | 9 Comments
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You may have wondered where I have been.  After fighting off a flu back in April that lingered for several weeks, I took a bit of extra time off to recuperate and do some long needed planning regarding my blog, my website, the knitting patterns, my writing in general, my fine art paintings and photography … to mention a few items on my mind.  I have also had some on again, off again computer problems over the past two years that have been quite annoying at times and during my recuperation I had to deal with that.

With a very reliable, brand new computer securely on my lap I am ready to begin writing to you, my reader, once again.  Doing so, I feel at once as if I have returned home after a long time away.

I always have the feeling when I begin a blog that I am genuinely sitting down with a good friend, having a cuppa joe, perhaps a cookie or something tasty, and enjoying a pleasant chat.  As I begin to write I feel my shoulders relax just as they do when a good friend drops by and we sit down to visit for a while.  Sigh.  It is so sweet.

As I write this blog, I will share recent photos I shot of my wonderful antique Tree Peony — I just shot these photos three or four days ago when her blooms were at their most delicate moment of perfection.  There are also some shots of other varieties of Tree Peonies I shot at Linwood Gardens this past Saturday during their annual Tree Peony Festival.  At one point, while I was photographing the peonies at Linwood Gardens, I told my husband there was so much beauty I felt I was going to pass out.  A lady nearby heard me say it and said, “Yes!”

Another lady nearby was also photographing the blooms and I heard her gasp, just as I gasp over and over gain when I am focusing my lens on the spectacular blossoms.  As we made out way through the gardens I heard more and more people gasping in just the same way as they focused their cameras.  Oh dear me, their beauty just takes your breath away and it is so very, very fleeting it makes everything within me ache.

I am so thrilled with the photographs I have shot of my peony over the past five years, and now of the peonies at Linwood Gardens, that I have decided to work quickly and diligently to make professional quality fine art prints of the best I have selected out of hundreds and hundreds of photos I have shot.  I went through them in meticulous detail over the past few days and selected twenty four or so of my very favorite shots, and I have ordered samples of half of them for my review before I put them up for sale at Etsy.

Hopefully I will have the samples within three or four days — they will be printed at a professional lab on Kodak Endura Metallic paper and hopefully will be quite amazing.  I will let you know how that goes as soon as I can.  Hopefully, anyone who does buy one will gasp when they see look at their own print for the first time.  I want so much to share the astounding beauty I have had the pleasure of beholding, and if I can make others gasp when they see the photographs I know I will have accomplished just that.

Now on to news related specifically to my blog and all of the other items I listed in that first paragraph above.

My husband and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary at the end of April, which means this August will be the fifth anniversary of my blog.  Isn’t that something, that I have known you for so long.  When I wrote my first blog post on August 2, 2006 I had no idea where it would lead me.  It is funny how things come full circle though, because I started my blog on a suggestion from my son.  And now, five years later, he has started his new business which has an overlap with my business that grew out of my blog.  Neither one of us planned it that way, but it is interesting how it has all worked out.

Something I have decided to do, and I think the five year anniversary is a good time to do it, is I am going to consolidate my blog and my website into one online destination.  The url will be www.ILiveonaFarm.com, which of course already exists.  But, sometime in August I will release the brand new look, feel, and functionality of ILiveonaFarm.com with the blog incorporated into it.

This blog, the first five years, will remain right where it is.  I had thought of transferring it all off of WordPress and over to ILiveonaFarm.com, but I think that would be a mistake.  All of this content, located here on WordPress for people to find, is important.  It is the history of what  has happened in our lives and  with our evolving publishing business.  I don’t want to disturb it or move it and possibly lose contact with some people who might come back and wonder where it all went.

Once the new website is launched, you will go there to follow new blog posts but you can always refer back to this one for earlier content, knitting patterns, recipes, etc.

The new website is going to solve a problem for me and that is the fact that as things have evolved and meandered along here, I have ended up with a cumbersome assortment of websites, Etsy stores, and blogs to manage featuring my several different ventures — the blog, my fine art paintings and photography, my knitting patterns, my two Etsy stores (one for knitting patterns, the other for art).  And then there is Facebook and Twitter, which any serious online business person seems to need to involve themselves with these days.  It is quite a bit to manage, all very time consuming–especially considering that I am on a satellite connection which is not as fast as high speed Internet, no matter what the commercials say.

The new website will bring all of these elements together under one roof, so to speak.  Plus, it will be easy to tie in my son’s designs and Etsy store as well as photography and publishing from other members of the family.  It will all be cohesive and, I hope, even more inspiring than what we have been done so far.  By bringing everything together the way we plan to, I should be able to devote more time to writing, painting, photography, designing/knitting, and cooking … which will of course make you much happier and keep you much more satisfied and engaged.

That is my hope.  These are my dreams.

There are some very cool things coming up the pike. I hope you will enjoy them all!

Best wishes to you and yours, from me and mine.

~firefly

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The year of faith

January 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Posted in country life, country living, dating, dogs, faith, family, knitting, Life, love, marriage, pets, photography, relationships, romance, snow, travel | 5 Comments
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Recently I was out and about the farm watching The Duke (my son’s English Bull Dog) frolicking in the snow.  I thought back to January 2006–I was single, living in the foothills just north of Los Angeles in a 15 x 15 square foot room I was renting from a very nice Australian lady.  My children, who I had raised as a single parent, were all grown up and living on their own.

Everything about my life had been turned upside down and inside out.  Making things worse,  it was over 90 degrees … it was January and over 90 degrees.  That was something I just could not abide.

I was sweltering in my little room, taking walks when I could on Hansen Dam, sometimes along a little trickle (barely discernible) of water known as “The LA River” that crawled along a through a little ravine near the place where I was living.  Weekends I lugged my painting supplies, easel, and a canvas from storage to a nearby park so I could paint … in the heat.

Now it is 2011 and here I am … married, living on a 50-acre farm in upstate New York with a 3,000 square foot farm house, a barn, a garage, woods, a wonderfully flowing river full of real water, and thick white snow as far as the eye can see.

It is January, and today we started our day at about -5 degrees with a fresh blanket of snow.

Fluffy, white, beautiful snow.  And I have a wonderful, loving husband who I love so very much.

Finally I am home.

Five years ago today I woke up not knowing this man or this place existed. Actually, that is not entirely true.

The truth is, a powerful spiritual event occurred in 1987 foretelling this entire scene. That spiritual event involved snow, in Los Angeles, on a day of miracles. From that point forward I knew that my husband did exist and that if I just lived my life and kept the faith the time would come when our paths would converge and we would know instinctively who we are to each other and we would join our lives together.

I knew he existed, but I didn’t have his exact coordinates and could not have described his face or told you his name.

It was five years ago today when I first received an email from him, introducing himself. I have told that part of the story here on my blog before.

He told me he was looking for his best friend, someone who complements him and vice versa … that the two would be greater together than they could have possibly been individually.

Though our story is one of great love and happiness, you might be surprised if you knew some of the trials and jarring realities we have been tested by in our few short years together. This has been, and is, quite a large experience.

We came into this marriage relying completely on a deep and abiding faith that we knew what we were doing and that what we were doing was blessed by God.

We met online somewhat by chance at the social networking site, FarmersOnly.com. He introduced himself by email on January 29, 2006. By late February we were seriously exploring all of the “what if’s” of a possible marriage. My early March we openly acknowledged the fact that were were, indeed, going to be married before the end of spring. On March 29 he flew me out to New York and we met face to face for the first time, already knowing we were going to marry. That evening he proposed to me and broke my rib in a big bear hug. A couple of nights later we had our first date.

On April 29, 2006 he was in Los Angeles, we got in my Ford Explorer, drove to Las Vegas and got married for $25 at a drive through window. Nine days later we arrived home at our beautiful farm.

Now, five years later, we are living a life we love. We have pulled through whatever has come our way, each time with a stronger bond than we had before, reassured that our faith in 2006 was not misguided. My daughter and our grand-daughter live with us, as do three dogs — a Weimaraner, an English Mastiff, and an English Bull Dog plus five barn cats. My son has a room here and visits when he can.

Much about our life has not turned out as we thought it would, but isn’t that the stuff of life anyway?

What we have done with it, now that is where our marriage really glistens. We are best friends, and we are much greater together than we ever would have been individually. What we have found and what we have made of what we were given, I wish on many others. I would love to know that many, many others have found and will find something of what we have.

The cool thing is, we’re just getting started …

~ firefly

Moments Art Show, another go ’round

November 3, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Posted in art, country life, country living, faith, family, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, travel | 3 Comments
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A number of pieces from my 2010 art show, “Moments”, will be on display November 5 through 26 at Marti’s on Main, a European style art gallery in Albion, New York (229 N. Main). There will be an artist reception this Friday, November 5, from 5:30 to 9:00 and readers of my blog are invited to attend. If you will be in the area and would like to see the paintings on a different date in November, please phone the gallery curator (Kim) for an appointment.

There will be signed, numbered limited edition prints of some of paintings as well as notecards available for sale at the gallery.  Some of the prints are matted, a few are also framed.

The painting above (Antique Tree Peony in Khaki Monochrome), a 48″ x 24″ oil on 1/4″ hardboard will be featured in this showing as well as other oils and some of my watercolors as well.

In other news … we had a frost last evening, and I always love getting out in the yard for some photography after an early autumn frost.  The look of sparkling jewels all along the edges of the fallen leaves is newly beautiful each year when I see it again for the first time;  I plan to create two or three paintings in the coming months depicting that pretty crusted frost look.

Last week I wrote about the spectacular look of a particular sunrise, if you recall.  As luck would have it, a couple of days later my husband and I went out to buy some groceries late in the day and as we came out of the store found the evening’s sunset was turning quite beautiful, much like the sunrise two days before.

As we drove home, the sunset became more and more beautiful.  In fact, the more we appreciated the beauty we were witnessing, the more it seemed to expand.  Sunsets in this are of upstate New York are quite different from those I used to see in Los Angeles.  The California sunset is often a gorgeous, dramatic display of fiery oranges, yellows, deep purples, and near black blues.  Here the sunset colors are shades of pale peach, lilac, and lavender fading ever so gradually and perfectly into a soft blue on the sides.  That particular night our sunset was also graced by highlights of a brilliant pale gold, and the clouds in the sky above and below the sun had a look somewhat like folded fabric laying across the sky.

I thought about the point I made in the previous blog about how wonderful it would be to greet each day joyously, so joyously that you would run around literally shouting for joy that another day had begun.  Speaking with my husband about those thoughts, I knew I wanted to write more on the subject.

Can you imagine waking up in the morning and greeting the first person you see — whether it is your spouse, partner, child, or even yourself in the mirror — and bursting forth in the biggest grin and saying genuinely, “Hey, it’s you!  I get to have another day in this life with YOU in it! ”  Imagine what it would be like to feel deep within and throughout yourself that you are just about the luckiest person alive because you get to experience another day in your very own LIFE.  Your house, your feet, your job, your car, your loves, your dreams, your hopes, your challenges, and yes, even your disappointments.

If you allow yourself to do so, you can actually conjure up whatever feelings about your life and all that goes along with it that you care to.

The truth is, too many of the days of my life I have woken up and greeted my day and my circumstances with a less-than-welcoming attitude.  Granted, I am living on this beautiful farm in a lovely and cozy, quiet little piece of the world.  I have a wonderful husband who I love, an adorable grand daughter who I treasure, two children who I love and very fortunate to have in my life, parents who I cherish, a sister, my brothers, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, dogs, cats.  I paint, I write, I knit, I cook, I photograph this lovely world, I have good friends and colleagues, all kinds of materials for creating the things I love to create.

The list could continue to grow, and grow, and grow of all the people, things, and abilities I have that I am so very fortunate to have.

And yet, I still find room to complain about some aspects of my life.  I don’t complain to you: I have a responsibility when I write to be a voice of insight, inspiration, and faith.  However, I have to be honest with you that I do experience discontent with some aspects of my life and still find myself having to battle at times with my own sour attitude.

I have two weapons I use in that battle: gratitude and love.  They are powerful weapons and I find myself drawing them out daily.

There is a third weapon the glorious sunrise and sunset I recently witnessed reminded me to use.

This third weapon is joy.

I have the ability to create joy.  I can look at anything and anyone and choose to greet that person or thing with joy — or not.  It is a choice though, even if I fail to recognize it as a choice.

Joy.

And isn’t it interesting, with this topic in mind, that the season that promotes Joy to the World is rapidly approaching. If you are an adventurous reader, perhaps start practicing the creation of joy now by looking at something or someone you have seen a million times already, look as if you are seeing that person or thing for the first or second time–much as a baby greets the world–and create an exclamation within yourself and throughout yourself of a genuine feeling of joy.

Do this today, and practice it daily. I will if you will.

Joy to you, and joy to your world.

Love,
firefly

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