Celebrate gratitude

November 20, 2006 at 3:33 pm | Posted in country living, dating, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, Knit Alongs, knit-a-long, knitting, love, pumpkin recipes, recipes, relationships, soup recipes, squash recipes, stockings, Thanksgiving, yarn | 18 Comments


In the lifetime of a human being
There are many things to be grateful for
Too numerous perhaps to consider individually
And yet
In the open, roaring sea of my gratitude
I see you;
I am overcome
Most of all
When I consider you.

Happy Thanksgiving
~ Celebrate Gratitude ~

To forward this peaceful message to a friend click here.

Copyright © 2006 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A matter of faith

November 15, 2006 at 2:19 pm | Posted in country living, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, knitting, love, recipes, soup recipes, sweet potatoes, yarn | 16 Comments

Fireflys Gracious Parcels Knitting ProjectThe first two squares for the Gracious Parcels 2006 project were hand-delivered to me last night by my husband. Winnie of The Buttons (my new nick name for her) made two in a pretty rust color. Winnie is moving away to be closer to her daughters in a couple of weeks, and yet she took the time to knit two squares … what a sweet and dear woman she is.

Several fellow bloggers have mentioned and linked to Gracious Parcels on their websites, and to each of you … thank you so much. The help is very appreciated.

This morning while I was having my tea I finished up the knitted drawstring gift bag for my niece’s Christmas gift … designed especially to match and accomodate one pair of Knitty.com’s “Fetching” fingerless gloves. (Photos further down in today’s blog.) Anyone familiar with that pattern will recognize the 4×1 ribbing and cables. I added buttons as embellishments, and accented the bag with a touch of the blue from the gloves. All in all, a very fetching gift … if I do say so myself. I will share and post the pattern this coming Friday (the pattern for the bag, not the gloves as the gloves pattern doesn’t belong to me).

Fireflys Blue Enamel Amish BowlI have a thing for little bowls. When my husband and I were in the Finger Lakes region a couple weeks back for a three-day mini-vacation, we stopped at what was promoted as being the largest Amish market in New York. There were four or five large “barns” filled with all kinds of goods and products. I imagine some were Amish made and some were not, but I am not certain. I saw this cute little white speckled deep blue enameled bowl there … and bought it.. Late every morning I have a scrambled egg sandwich on a whole wheat english muffin and I use my pretty little bowl to whip them up.

I baked some yams in the oven last night because later today I plan to experiment with a soup I have in mind using yams (or sweet potatoes), banana, and ginger. My daughter had some incredible soup in the Sonoma Valley in California several years ago made of those three key ingredients and I’ve wanted to experiment with the concept ever since she told me about it. Today is the day … I’ll let you know the results on Friday.

I was thinking this morning about the role faith played in my husband and I getting to know each other and accepting the idea of marriage rather quickly. I don’t know if I have mentioned it before, but he and I had agreed to marry and knew we would go through with it before we ever met face-to-face. It was wild, but not. You see, we were going on a profound sense of faith that could not be shaken.

It began on Valentine’s Day last year, or just a day or two before. I was feeling hurt and confused about whatever was or wasn’t going on with the Viking. When the Viking and I were getting to know each other, even then faith was the driving force behind my actions. The feeling of knowing what to do and the natural rightness of my actions was huge and unwavering. When I drove to Nebraska after Christmas to meet the Viking, it was faith that gave me confidence. After New Year’s when he went out of communication bit by bit, because my faith was so strong I continued to hold on to the idea that things would turn out okay in the end. The feelings, the knowledge, the sense of rightness, was all much too powerful, clear, and serene to ignore. So, I went with it.

Fireflys Hand Knit Fetching Fingerless Gloves Gift BagNonetheless, when the Viking went out of communication it was very disturbing. I struggled with many feelings and did not understand how such a feeling of faith could be met with such evidence that faith was leading me in the wrong direction.

For me, it became a personal and somewhat valiant effort to continue to have unwavering faith no matter the evidence to the contrary. I held close to my sense of faith and coached myself a number of times into being faith, accepting faith throughout my very being. Everything in my life for at least ten years had led me to the conclusion that my lack of faith at times was what caused me the most difficulty and suffering in life. To go with the flow of the river me was an ultimate act of faith and goodwill. I felt that I was on the precipice of the most crucial point in my life, when a calm sense of complete faith would make the difference and that I must not falter.

When sadness or confusion tried to set in on me and settle into my bones, I went outside and took a walk. It was a beautiful time in Los Angeles as we were having a warm and clear winter. Everything was green and fresh, the sun was golden and healing. There was a huge park near where I was living; there was a dam with a walking path that stretched about two miles. I could go there and walk the breadth of the dam and back and get in a four-mile walk.

No matter what I felt like when I started one of my walks, no matter what troubles I might be struggling with, sometime during the walk I would feel a powerful connection with God. It actually felt as if I was having conversations with God at times, examining the subject of faith and having many realizations about the role faith played in life or could play if you let if flourish.

(When I speak of God and faith, I am not speaking of the God of any particular religion, or the faith of any particular set of beliefs. Just God … my own understanding of what God is to me and what my relationship to God is. A non-denominational and universal concept. The struggle on our little blue planet between religions is odd, I believe. That man strikes down man (or woman or child) in the name of God, and faith, and religion is so counter-intuitive it is hard to believe such actions can exist in a society so seemingly advanced as ours.)

Many things were on my mind as I walked my four miles day after day on top of that dam. It was a beautiful, wonderful, fulfilling time for me.

Fireflys Hand Knit Fetching Fingerless Gloves and Gift BagDuring the transition between when I met my husband at the end of January (met him only via email) and when I finally let go of the idea that the Viking was the direction I was headed, I resolved quite a few issues with myself having to do with what my real intentions are in life, regarding marriage, the future I would like to strive toward, etc.

One afternoon right around Valentine’s Day I was washing dishes and felt awash with a fantastic sense of well-being. It seemed odd to me, because I was feeling also let down by the crumbling of the Viking reality. Somehow, though, I couldn’t help but smile. It seemed rather silly, but I smiled anyway. Looking out the window into the warmth of a sunny day I had a clear and distinct thought enter my mind that I would be married by spring, by the end of April specifically.

My next thought was, “Well, that just doesn’t make any kind of sense.” How could that timing work out? The Viking was all but gone, and the only other prospect was this really interesting man I was sharing emails with who lived on a farm in upstate western New York, a place I certainly would never agree to move to.

I reminded myself that faith is knowing what you know inspite of any evidence to the contrary or lack of evidence supporting whatever it is you know. So I thought, “Okay. This will be the perfect act of faith. I have no reason to believe it could possibly be true that I will be married by the end of April. Therefore, for that very reason I will have faith in the accuracy of that knowledge.”

When I made that decision, I felt even more serene and happy. My heart was light and I knew it was a right action to completely let go of the Viking and to not feel that anything I had been believing in or any of my actions had been wrong. I decided that even though he was not the direction I was headed in, he had been key in keeping me walking down the right road to where I was going, and where I wanted to go.

Another point of liberation. Liberation so sweet, and so divine.

The following Saturday was when my husband and I first spoke on the phone and time seemed to stand still.

That is where today’s part of the story ends.

May your day be divine.


Copyright © 2006 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Making amends and freaking out

November 3, 2006 at 2:43 pm | Posted in country living, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, humor, Knit Alongs, knit-a-long, knitting, love, recipes, soup recipes, yarn | 18 Comments

Fireflys Petite Corn Bread LoavesYesterday there was a prediction for snow here in the evening, and my husband and I planned to make a trip to see his mother, an hour from the farm. I knew we would be cold and hungry when we got back home, so I put on a pot of lentil soup in the slow cooker and baked a batch of petite corn loaves early in the day. I recently bought an adorable “petite” loaf pan (I think I might have mentioned it last week) but had not tried it out. My father is probably the world’s biggest corn bread fan, and he suggested I make individual corn bread loaves in the pan. Great inspiration, Dad … and look at the results. So scrumptious. When Mom and Dad come out here at Christmas, I will certainly make more of these little yummies.

This morning, after tea and a bit of knitting, I was on my way upstairs to my office when light coming from the cornfield caught my eye. The corn was ablaze with golden morning light, with a backdrop of dramatic gray clouds. Though it was only thirty degrees outside, I bundled up for an outdoor photo shoot … glad I did. It was splendid and beautiful out world.

Fireflys November CornWhile I was out, I was certain I heard the meow of a little cat somewhere. I have been told it is inevitable a cat will come along and adopt us. My neighbor told me that back in the summer, and I have been watching and listening ever since. A number of times I am certain I have heard the meowing of a little one outside near our house. My husband tells me it might be the sound of a cat bird. I believe he might be right because when I listen closer sometimes I do realize it is a bird I am hearing rather than a cat. I have come to call our future cat the “magic cat” and I will continue to be alert for his or her arrival … especially on cold, cold mornings.

In today’s knitting photo I offer a mystery object I am working on. I love the stitch in this project, a fun pattern to work indeed. The fabric is tight, which is what I am going for. As soon as the mystery object is complete, I will tell you what it is and share the pattern. This one might make a sweet gift for someone special … we’ll see.

Fireflys Mystery Knitting ProjectIt has been made clear to me by certain readers that I must keep up the pace in telling the tale of How I Met My Husband. There are a few more layers to this tale, and I hope you will allow me to tell the story well rather than rushing through to the punch line. The interest in the story and the stories others have been sharing with me of their own lives and realizations is very encouraging. Thank you all, so much.

During the spring of 2005 I spent two months in Denver with my parents and family, as my brother struggled with cancer and eventually passed away.  After Dan passed away,

I drove back to Los Angeles by myself just before Memorial Day weekend … a spiritual journey of my own. I love road trips and enjoy making them on my own very much. My journey home was picturesque, relaxing, and the beginning of my time of healing.

Fireflys Water Well and November CornThere were some thoughts that had occurred to me as I spent time with Dan during the last two weeks of his life. He and I held hands quite a lot, and we shared precious tender moments of communication here and there as he came in and out of pain and consciousness.

As I sat with him, I thought about many things I had observed about him during his life. A thought that touched me deeply was that he had not had girlfriends when he was in school. He was a very good looking boy, but I think he was shy and tender hearted. Thinking about the fact that he may of been lonely as a teenager and young man made me sad.

As I drove home, I remembered a boy from my own high school days who had had a crush on me. He was awkward and shy and not attractive. Back then I had a very sharp, untamed wit. There were a number of times when I hit him with a zinger in front of other students. Over the years I regretted my bad behavior very much.

When I was back home I decided to see if I could find him so I could make amends in some way. Visiting our alumni website, I found him registered there, so I sent him an email. He eventually wrote back and we corresponded a bit before agreeing to get together for dinner and to say hello after so many years.

Seeing him again was strange because it had been about thirty years and yet there was no mistaking him. He had changed little. We had a good time and fun conversation over dinner. That weekend we also went whale watching up in Santa Barbara and enjoyed a good day and lots of catching up. As it turned out, he had never married and in fact had never even been on a date or had a girlfriend of any kind. He told me he hadn’t even had a friend over all those years … of any gender. He had been in the military for twelve years, and when he got out he moved in with his parents. His parents were his only friends.

Between late August and early October we saw each other a few times and I also met his father two or three times. In mid-October, out of the blue, he presented me with a ring and asked me to marry him. I was very much in shock, because there had been nothing romantic that I had noticed about any of our conversations or communications.

I didn’t want to hurt him, because I believed he needed to be brave in the future when someone else came along who would feel romantic toward him. I didn’t want to be someone who would crush him in any way and thus make it harder for him to reach again and possibly find happiness.

Inside, I was freaking out and didn’t know what to say or do. I told him I was surprised, but that I would think about it and let him know.

A couple of weeks later I gently turned him down, and he seemed to take it well. But, he also made it clear that to him “no” didn’t mean never, it only meant not now.

Oh dear, that was a problem.

In November I happened to hear a news story about an online dating site for rural people and small town folks, farmers, and ranchers. It occurred to me that perhaps I could interest my friend in joining such a place to see about finding an old-fashioned woman to share life with. My hope was that I could re-direct his attention off of me and that perhaps with my encouragement he would be brave enough to give it a try.

So, I checked out the website and found that the only way I could browse and see what kind of people were there was to join for a one-month free membership. So, I joined and put up a brief profile of myself stating I was only looking for friendship, because I honestly was not looking to do any online dating myself.

Then I got busy working on a project for a client, so I forgot about the dating site for a couple of days. Two days after joining, I received a couple of “flirts” from some men at the place. Purely for the purpose of research, I responded but in a non-flirtatious way. However, one of the men did have a very nice face, a cute smile and I thought to myself, “Huh”.

He wrote back again and he had a wonderful style to his writing. He spoke to me as if I had arrived at his house and we were having a cup of coffee on his porch. He described bonfires and moonlight and music and so forth, but in such a way that it felt I was there visiiting with him.

Meanwhile, my daughter told me I could not try to get my friend from high school to go to that site. She pointed out it would be cruel to do so since he was still “in love” with me, no matter what my intention was. Her advice made sense, so I dropped the idea.

More emails and “flirts” from a variety of gentlemanly men started showing up in my inbox, which very much surprised me. I hadn’t thought I would hear from anyone, and yet a pretty good stream of men were contacting me. They were all quite respectful and well-mannered … nothing like men in Los Angeles. They were intelligent, educated, witty, and sincerely looking for someone to share life with rather than just looking for someone to “hook up” with.

I wrote back to every single man, being friendly and polite and allowing myself to get to know some of them. Still, the one man who had sent the first “flirt” stood out above the others. There was something very special about his emails that was creative, fun, and engaging.

As more and more men contacted me, that one fellow and I continued to correspond until finally we decided to speak on the phone. We shared a few phone calls, and he even wrote a poems for me. Each poem had a theme of the sea and viking lore, because of his heritage. They were beautiful and sincere, and I was quite surprised at the turn of events. After all, I was single, destined to remain single, and I was cool with that.

As I made plans to spend two weeks in Denver with my parents, my daughter, and her husband at Christmas, it occurred to me the Viking and I would be 1,000 miles closer to each other while I was there, and perhaps we should meet face to face. I proposed the idea to him, which caught him a bit off guard but then he agreed it would be a good idea because there seemed to be genuine attraction between us.

Keep in mind, this was a very private activity on my part. The only person I had shared it with at the time was my daughter. I was reluctant to tell my son I was “online dating” … it was so out of character for me, and I thought he would think I was going bonkers or something.

As Christmas grew nearer, the Viking and I agreed we would each drive to a mid-way point between Denver and the area he was from and have coffee at a cafe in a little town in Nebraska. I rented a car in Denver and went on my little adventure. Only my daughter and her husband knew where I was going.

I am not, by the way, advocating that other people do what I did. It was quite a leap of faith. But, I did have the fellow’s home phone number, first and last name, and address. I had googled his phone number and found that his name and the street address did match up in phone records.

Plus, he did not know what vehicle I was driving, and we were meeting at a public place. I felt safe doing what I was doing, but then I am an adventurous soul.

Our meeting was wonderful. He was fun, funny, witty, charming, handsome and warm. We had coffee, then went on a bit of a walk, then a bit of a drive, then back to the cafe for dinner. We spent the entire evening talking and laughing and getting to know each other better. There seemed to be quite a genuine bond there, as agreed by both of us.

We both stayed over night in the little town, but separately of course. Our meeting and “date” was very wholesome. The next morning we met for breakfast and shared a tearful goodbye. He said it was going to be very difficult to drive hundreds of miles back home and I agreed.

Oh, romance when it is not expected! We spoke a few times by cell as we drove in opposite directions; I smiled pretty much the entire seven or eight hundred miles back to Denver.

And after all of that … he went somewhat out of touch.

Hmm. So strange.

We shared a few more emails, and even spoke on the phone a bit … but the emails were fewer and further between and the phone calls were sporadic.

I became very confused, and it pretty much hurt. I do not understand how people can get weird and just leave other people hanging without an explanation. He kept saying he was still interested, and yet something was wonky … obviously wonky.

Finally, in mid-February I got him to tell me the truth about what was going on … we were of different faiths, and he was struggling with the differences between our faiths.

To me, that would be a great reason to talk more rather than less, but his chosen route was to pound out what he thought our differences were without any input from me.

That would not bode well for a successful marriage … so, crash, crash, crash went the romance.

Meanwhile, I had cancelled my membership in the online dating service … thinking I had found my true love in the Viking.

In late January, after examing the entire experience, I decided to rejoin the online dating service but to do it for real this time. The first time I had joined it was insincere, and my profile was written mostly just to put something there so I could be in the community. In January I decided to join with an actual intent of finding a wonderful man and getting married.

That was a huge, bold move for me. It was completely out of character, out of the ordinary, and not something I would have ever thought I would do. But something told me to do it and do it well. So, I did.

This is where the story pauses today. Hang in there with me, the story just gets better and better.

And by the way, when I got back to Los Angeles after the holidays, I told my son about my adventure. The reason I had not told him before hand was that I knew he would say, “That probably isn’t a good idea,” with this gentle, sarcastic yet loving way he has of speaking to me when he hears of one of my impractical ideas.

When I did finally tell him he said, “That probably wasn’t a good idea.” I love him dearly.

This story continues here.

Have a warm weekend, inside or out. “See” you Monday.


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