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
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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.

Too weird not to tell

June 20, 2008 at 6:33 pm | Posted in Christmas, country life, country living, dating, faith, family, gifts, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, Quilt Trail, relationships, romance, summer, travel | 10 Comments
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Firefly is getting ready to make strawberry preservesI woke up at 6:00 a.m. today fresh from a weird dream. Usually if I preface a statement about one of my dreams with “weird” it is totally redundant (to anyone who knows me that well) … but of weird dreams, this one was especially weird in some of its features. Too weird not to tell.

I was involved with some business people is some sort of company, and I was the annoying “talent” in the mix. There were these two “suits”, a woman who was in charge and a man, and they had set up a meeting with some potential client without “info’ing” me. I heard about the meeting (after all, it was my dream so it was difficult to keep it from me) and crashed it, which really annoyed them even more.

The meeting was at a very nice restaurant, and I remember the colors were very pleasing. So, this meeting is going on and I’m there annoying these two conservative “suits” by my mere presence as an observer.

I suppose the meeting became boring because all of a sudden I was off in a different dream that was a movie. There were these two little girls who were twins and they lived in a war torn area, and there were bombs going off in the distance and these little girls were some sort of heroes who were spies or some sort of operatives working for “good”. They had red hair.

So that went on for a while, and then everything morphed back to the world where the restaurant and meeting were. I thought to myself, “Wow, that was quite a flight of fancy, wasn’t it?” And I had a sense that my being distracted by my imagination was probably going to annoy the “suits” even more.

Blu greets Dorothy as she arrives at fireflys farmI walked (somehow I was not at the meeting anymore and had to return to it physically), anyway I walked back and as I approached the table I noticed the woman “suit” was in fact Catherine Bell (the actress) and she was confiscating a bunch of my knitting needles which I had apparently brought to the meeting and left at the table while I went off to imagine the red haired child heroes in war torn wherever.

She was stuffing a bunch of my knitting needles into a big purse, and then I noticed the guy “suit” was also confiscating some of my needles. They both were so antagonistic to me, it was perturbing. I said, “Hey, what are you doing with my knitting needles?” And Catherine Bell looked up at me as she continued stuffing them into her bag and said, “We’re just going to take these now and put them away.”

“Why?” I asked, innocent and dumbfounded yet cognizant that they were really wanting to hurt me by taking those needles away and it was some kind of punishment.

Then I grabbed some of the needles out of Catherine’s (now that she has handled my knitting needles, I feel familiar enough with her to refer to her by first name only) hands and then I noticed they were bent all out of shape–the needles, not her hands.

I said, “Why did you bend my knitting needles?” Then I grabbed more and they were all bent, and I looked at her and she looked smug and scolding all at the same time–you know how people get those two looks on their faces simultaneously.

Just so you know, the needles were not just slightly bent. They had to have been put through some kind of incredible thick metal bending machine. They had perfect “U” shapes bent into them, they were bent in several places, bent at right angles … it was incredible. Catherine had bent all of my needles she had gotten a hold of.

I started crying and said, “Why would you do that to me, why do you want to suppress my creativity?”

Fresh strawberries from Partyka Farms in the blue bowl firefly bought at a garage saleAfter sobbing for a few minutes as I drew more and more mangled knitting needles out of her bag I woke up and said out loud, “That was weird.”

Okay, why Catherine Bell? I don’t have anything against her, but I’m also not a particular fan or anything, and I don’t dislike her or associate her with anything unhappy or antagonistic. She’s just, ah, Catherine Bell.

Honestly, I just don’t get it.

And that’s how my day started, today.

Yesterday, however, ended with my husband and I out at my friend Lora Partyka’s farm picking nine quarts of fresh, deep red strawberries in her U-Pick field. While we were picking berries it started raining, lightly at first so we kept picking. By about the time we got our ninth quart basket filled up it started raining pretty hard so we high-tailed it back to our truck and ended off.

Back across the road at her farm market we sat down to a couple of dishes of double-scoop Perry’s Ice Cream. It was perfect. Going out to a local farm market for Perry’s Ice Cream is my favorite “date” we go on. We haven’t ever been to a movie in a theater together because there just aren’t any theaters within miles and we would both rather watch movies at home away from crowds anyway.

So, my favorite date is to just head over to a farm stand with an ice cream bar and sit outside at one of their tables together eating, chatting, listening to birds, and enjoying the sunshine (or rain as the case may be).

It was a great way to end a few days of very hard work I have been engaged in publishing my new hand knit Christmas Stocking Patterns. You might be surprised if you knew just how many hats have to be worn by a person engaging in the adventure of self-publishing. I wear them all — designer, knitter, technical adviser, editor, writer, photographer, copy editor (both technical and language), proof-reader, typesetter, graphic artist, web master, Internet technical advisor … well, you get the picture. My husband takes care of the printing for me, and the printing is superlative I must say. Then I do the cutting and the packaging or prepping online downloads. Then there is the marketing (both retail and wholesale), sales (not the same hat as marketing) and the order fulfillment and customer service.

I love it, I love the technology available today that makes it possible for me to press forward in this cottage industry, but this week–because I was working on essentially four patterns simultaneously–has been a particularly hard-pressed week. I’m bushed.

My eyes were so bleary last night by the time I went to bed I just loved the feeling of lying down and closing them. I couldn’t sleep for a while because I had just come off of all that production (I finished all of the final touches last night so we could start printing today) but even without falling asleep it felt awful darn good to just lie there with my eyes closed and my back against the bed, resting every part of me.

Today I am writing this quick blog, but mostly I am in the midst of washing, cutting, smashing, and measuring strawberries. Later this afternoon I will be making strawberry preserves and strawberry shortcake as a relaxing break from the publishing business. Those strawberries smell so, so good — their deep sweet smell is wafting all the way up the stairs to my office area.

If you are in Western New York and want to experience a treat, check out Partyka Farms in Kendall. They have plenty of U-Pick strawberries to go, plus all the other produce they’re selling right now, a summer grill, the ice cream bar, gift shop, free playground and picnic tables — oh, and they are selling bulk groceries now like spices, nuts, dried fruits, soup mixes, rices, pastas, etc. (I still cannot believe what a great price you get on spices from a place like that selling bulk-I can buy a good sized tub of whatever spice for just over a dollar.) I have so many strawberries from the U-Pick that I’ll be making about 24 8-oz jars of strawberry preserves.

By the way, you can get a free map to the Country Barn Quilt Trail at Partyka’s as well, because Lora is the organizer of the trail. Over the past couple of months we have added a free audio tour on the trail. People access the audio tour right from their cell phones, and at each barn you come to there is a sign with the stop number to dial in. When you dial in that stop number, you will hear a voice recording telling the story of that quilt block, the people who did it, sometimes something about the history of their farm or their barn, etc. I happen to know quite a lot about it, because I, er, ah … did all of the voice recordings for Lora (she liked my voice, what can I say–she “gets” me and would never mangle my knitting needles, unlike Catherine apparently). The stories that go along with the quilt blocks are very endearing, and the audio tour adds a dimension to the Western New York quilt trail that others don’t have.

Is this place heaven, or what?

Just a bit more here … last week my friend Dorothy rode her bicycle over here one afternoon to work with me on painting the feed sack fabric details on the “Friendship Ring” quilt block we were going to hang at our church as a part of the Country Barn Quilt Trail. She looked so cute on her bicycle (she even had rhubarb for us in the little basket on the front), I asked her to go back out to the street while I grabbed my camera, and then ride back in along our circular driveway so I could photograph her. As you can see, Blu thought she looked mighty cute too.

A couple of mornings later she came back so we could finish up and mentioned she had been by a garage sale near her place where she bought an old maple school desk. She told me there was another one with a matching chair, and I’ve been wanting one of those so I ran inside and got my husband and Blu, we piled into the truck and headed over. Turns out there was a block-long garage sale at a row of cottages and we had a wonderful time picking up some very cool little things. I got the maple school desk (I’ll show it another time), but also found the beautiful, simple blue bowl you see in one of the photographs. It is such a gentle, summer sky color of blue and I thought it would look perfect cradling strawberries–which it does. I got it for 25 cents, and it turns out it is an artisan china bowl made in London.

And the cute little vintage, folding stools in the photo below … how cute are they. I had never seen anything like that. They are for fishermen, I’m sure and I got the two of them for $1 … my, oh my!

Three houses in a row had plenty of picture frames (and pictures in frames) which I need for my own art, so we came home with a bunch of great frames.

Treasures firefly found at garage sales and an auctionThat large picnic basket you see in the photo, well I got that at an auction up the road at the end of May. I’ve always wanted one of those, and I got this one for $11.

What is the point of all of this? Mostly I just want to say that things can be good, no matter what people are saying about the economy. There are things to do and things to have that don’t cost very much money. People are always having garage sales where you can find treasures for peanuts, and useful things for even less. You help the other guy because he gets a little bit of extra cash in his pocket and a little more room in his house or garage and he helps you because you get to experience the fun of garage sale’ing as a form of inexpensive entertainment and bring something home to boot … and no calories!

Even if you live in a city, the country isn’t very far away and in spite of high gas prices it probably would cost less to take a drive out to the country to follow a quilt trail, visit a farm market, grab an ice cream at a roadside stand, and buy healthy, economical produce at a farm market or U-Pick field than it would cost to take the family out to dinner and a movie right around the corner. Plus it would last all day and you get to take stuff home with you.

Now, how cool is that?

Have a beautiful, creative weekend … and sweet dreams!

~firefly

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