Wrapped in scrumptious

October 27, 2008 at 5:53 pm | Posted in art, baby, country life, country living, faith, family, flowers, gifts, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, travel | 12 Comments
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The trees in Western New York continue to be wrapped in the scrumptious colors of fall. Although it is nearly the end of October some of the maples are still glowing with deep red leaves on the outside powered by golden leaves beneath, enriched by green leaves deeper in toward the trunk. The visual effect is stunning, and we are blessed to have one such tree just across the road north of our place on our neighbor’s property. I see it each morning outside the living room window as I knit with my morning coffee and Blu in my lap.

Last evening we had a beautiful storm come through with gusting winds blowing swirling leaves past our windows dramatically as rain and a bit of hail pounded the windows, lighting struck nearby and thunder rumbled all around us. It was just a bit before dark, so we were able to fully see the storm in the many windows of our farm house … a perfect mood for the last week of October.

You may have noticed I have not posted an entry since the 13th of October–if you came looking and I was not here, I apologize. This month has been especially busy for us, as my husband and I were organizing a very special evening event for our church, which just occurred this past Saturday (the 25th). Oh, what a time we all had.

When my husband and I met online back at the beginning of 2006, we both mentioned Mark Twain as being a favorite author. I was intrigued to learn that he had kept a Mark Twain anthology on his bedside table for years, because I too had kept at least one book of Mark Twain’s short stories on my bedside table for years. That was one of many little and sometimes strange things we discovered to have in common … little things that were like bread crumbs leading us each through the forest of life until finally our paths joined and became one.

Soon after we were married his brother-in-law (now my treasured brother-in-law as well) asked if we would like to attend a showing of Mark Twain Live! performed by a gentleman by the name of Mike Randall. Unfortunately, we were not able to get tickets to any show of his in 2006. However, last December we were able to attend a performance by Mr. Randall of a Charles Dickens reading of “A Christmas Carol”. It was fantastic; he seemed to be Charles Dickens himself as he performed the monologue in full make-up and costume, fashioned after an actual tour Dickens made in America in the late 1800’s.

Earlier this year the thought came into my mind that I wished Mr. Randall would come to one of our local villages to perform Mark Twain Live!, and my husband and I started coming up with all kinds of ideas of how that might be possible and what we might be able to do in order to instigate such an event. Realistically though, every idea we came up with seemed to require quite a bit of time-consuming work and coordination which we knew would be very difficult to fit into our lives because of all of our other responsibilities and commitments.

One day as I was knitting and letting my mind and imagination wander (something I am quite apt to do) a thought suddenly occurred to me: why not have him perform at our church as a fund raising event. The church is accustomed to putting on fund raising events routinely, we have the space and facilities, my husband is most often in charge of the fund raising dinners anyway, and we could replace a dinner event with an entertainment event so it would actually fit with our current responsibilities and commitments. The idea seemed so good it sort of hurt my head to think of it and not be able to utter it instantaneously … do you know that feeling?

The first chance I had, I ran it by my husband and he liked it. So, he ran it by whichever appropriate board at the church, and they all liked it. We got in touch with Mr. Randall, set a date, got a contract, signed it and got to work.

The past couple of weeks I had quite a lot of work to do personally to make sure we had all of the collateral materials needed to make the event extra special. I designed a large lobby playbill, a program, bookmarks with Mark Twain quotes, bake sale menus, tickets, posters, and flyers. The tickets, posters, and flyers were actually done back in the summer and all of then I designed and we printed the remaining materials over the past couple of weeks. For the bookmarks, I used 12 different quotes from Mark Twain. At each place setting, guests found the bookmark as a take-home favor and each guest at each table had a different quote. I imagined they might read the quotes to each other, much like sharing fortune cookie quotes with one another–and they did.

We also packaged all of our bake sale items professionally in clear boxes, with labels matching the graphics of the other event-specific items.

The tables in our fellowship hall were decorated with pumpkins, apples, leaves, milk weed pods, nuts, holly cuttings, teasels, dried flowers and candles. Our tables looked wonderful, and the cool thing was that the only item in our centerpieces that we had to pay for was the votive candles. The pumpkins and apples were donated by local farmers, my husband and I gathered the milk weed pods, nuts, and teasels which I then cleaned and dried. Our friend Dorothy gathered the leaves from her own yard, and trimmed the holy cuttings from the church grounds.

The performance was outstanding, professional and quite funny. Afterwards we served a gourmet dessert bar with items such as carrot cake, raisin spice cake, cream puffs, fruit salads, and more all prepared by one man from our congregation.

You can gauge the true success of an event like this from the energy in the room and the kind of smiles you see as you make your way around amongst the guests. Everywhere I looked I felt tremendous energy and saw broad, engaging, genuine smiles of happiness and fellowship. There were people from our congregation there, but we also had many people who had never been to our church before. Everyone was positive and happy — it was all so wonderful. There has not ever been this kind of high quality evening of entertainment offered out here in these farming communities (well, not in the memory of the folks who attended this event). Those who expressed gratitude for the event were not only happy about the event itself, but were genuinely grateful for that such an event was brought right here to their own backyard, so to speak.

In the midst of preparing for and pulling of our wonderful Mark Twain event, I have completed a baby blanket and a matching “block”. I’m not sure when I will be able to release this pattern, because it is going to include some baby washcloths as well as the knitted building block, and the washcloths are yet to be designed and worked up. I love the blanket though; it was fun to knit and just looks so precious with the purple border and decorative flowers I added. It is soft and ready to wrap some sweet baby up in scrumptious love.

At the end of September I was completing two new oil paintings for the art trail event I participated in on October 5th. You see here a photo of the 20″ x 24″ sunflower I painted in oil on wood. I must say, it is striking. If you would like to see the other new painting, I have posted it along with the sunflower on my painting blog.

In closing today, I would like to mention one more thing. I love America. I don’t love America exclusively, because I am a loving person and do love my fellow man and the many and varied countries and communities around the world that we all hail from. Being an American, I have a special love for my own country which is a positive and beautiful way to feel. No matter what is going on “out there” — no matter what images and thoughts and negative energy is being directed at us all via the whatever sources — no matter all of that, here we are. You and I, two people connecting up via this new publishing medium called a blog. You might also be an American, or perhaps you are Australian, German, Chinese, Swedish, South African, Estonian or from some other place on Earth.

Here we are, you and I. Two people connecting up sharing thoughts, goodwill, beauty, future plans, love, life, spirituality, hope, dreams.

I love that we have the freedom to do so–isn’t that freedom something.

God Bless America, and God bless your country as well, whichever country it might be.

God Bless us all, the everyday average people of Earth. We are the footsteps and the beauty and the light of tomorrow. We are of such power, grace, love, and brotherhood that we can create a tomorrow worth dreaming of. I want to be officially on the record as stating that I have tremendous, unwavering faith in you and I.


The circle of life, the river of me

September 10, 2008 at 3:43 pm | Posted in art, country life, dogs, faith, family, food, gardening, knitting, Life, love, marriage, pets, photography, relationships, romance, summer, yarn | 11 Comments
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I am a river, life is a circle. Seasons change, life rolls out and rolls along sometimes rushing, sometimes meandering. Just like a river. I am a river, life is a river, we are circles and orbs, each of us, all of us, one of us.

This summer I found my inner farmer, and she is not within me at all but is connected to me. She is in the form of my sister-in-law and her husband who grew these lovely vibrant vegetables. She is the farmer who works our land, who planted winter wheat last autumn and harvested the golden tips of grasses this summer. She is the young Amish farmer from down the road who came to our fields with a team of four powerful honey-colored draft horses to bale the straw left after the other farmer harvested the wheat. My inner farmer is connected somehow with these and others whose paths I cross and whose work I observe and cherish in this wholesome farming community that claimed my heart.

This summer I developed a number of new knitting patterns, with dear Blu in my lap each morning as I enjoyed my Cuppa Joe each morning and knitted whatever new creation was wandering around in my mind. From Christmas Stockings to a knitted bags, and even my 1Bag for planet Earth. This summer has been a productive time for knitting and publishing and working on a new small business that perhaps holds some good prospects for a future game my husband and I can play together. In commemoration of this lovely summer of Blu-in-my-lap-morning-cuppa-Joe-knitting-first-thing-in-the-morning, I am calling my latest creation Cuppa Joe. The new knitting pattern will be available next week and will include the scarflet, a pair of fingerless gloves, and a matching giftbag to place them all neatly inside in case you want to give them away as a gift.

This summer my thoughts have been on my children. Of course my thoughts are often on my children … my beautiful, vulnerable daughter and my handsome talented son. They are both artists, we are many miles apart, and I love and miss them both. They gave me this teddy bear one Christmas back in Los Angeles, a teddy holding a prize pig. He reminds of my new surroundings and my own Blue Ribbon success with biscuits and a hand knit Christmas Stocking the first autumn I lived here. Interesting how something from the past could be a reminder of something in the future. A reminder back then of things to come–had I only known.

This summer my husband and I have worn many hats together, and at times we have grown tired. Tired can be good if you earn it from working hard doing things you believe in, serving others, creating a future. My husband and I have been doing all those things, many of them together. We are a great team, and this summer we have gotten to know that about oursevles even more than we knew it before. When we first got together (only two and a half years ago) we had faith in the concept that we could be a good and maybe great team. But to find it out and know it for sure you have to jump in and experience life. Get your hands and feet dirty, your back sore, you soul dunked in the rushing waters that are the river of life. This summer has given us many opportunities to live, love, sweat, grieve, laugh, worry, recover, create, rejoice. We’ve done all that and more and we have a glimpse now of–yes. Yes. We are a great team. It bodes well for the future.

This summer I learned again that from destruction and chaos can emerge creativity, beauty, and order. We humans normally don’t get that when we are in the middle of destruction and chaos. Some of us get around to seeing it, and make something out of whatever is left. Two destructive, chaotic forces this summer: wind and grape vines. The wind and rain brought down three huge limbs from our beautiful, graceful willow tree. My husband spent a couple of afternoons cutting down, chopping up, and hauling away the remains that lay dying on ‘neath the canopy. As he worked to haul away the destruction, I gathered some of the smaller branches and whips and wove them round and round into wreaths of various sizes. I sat there in our gazebo weaving them into lovely little pieces of creation to create some lasting beauty, while he labored with the big stuff and the thousands of whips that I could not work fast enough to use. As for grapevines? They grow wild all over around here, climbing up trees, shrubs, barns … they can be a powerful and invasive destructive force. I trimmed some of the tender running vines entangled around one of our trees and added their grace to my willow wreaths. Order out of chaos, creativity our of destruction. The circle of life continues.

This summer I dreamed of future times when perhaps there will be more family living closer by. Someday, married children happily living closer by. Perhaps. Sometime, grandchildren. Perhaps. Increased happiness, a longer reaching future. More time on the river, fishing, canoing, lounging on hot summer days, having an ice cream on the dock, watching a little bit of water slowly going by. Enjoy swans, geese, ducks, king fishers, peace and quiet, peaches and tomatoes. Someday, more of the good things will surround us. Even more than we have today. Perhaps. Verdant dreams of summers to come, I like this part of me — the part that is free to dream.

This summer there were picnics and camping and canoe trips–my husband, sweet Blu, and I. Together we enjoyed car trips, pitching tents and gazebos, paddling, smiling and laughing. One of my favorite memories of this summer will be gliding along nearly silent in the canoe on the river. I could feel the strength and guidance of my husband at the back of the canoe as I faced forward and there was Blu, standing next to me with his front paws on the seat, his head close to mine, proudly looking ahead as the river dog that he is. Blu went on his first camping trip this summer and he adapted to roughin’ it beautifully. He went on his first canoe ride and did not spill us all into the river. Outstanding. He also learned what it means when we say, “Get in the car boy,” and, “Want to go home?” Oh Blu, you make us proud.

This summer we went places, we stayed at home, I canned a whole mess ‘o jams, peaches, and vegetable stock. Blu grew up several notches, my husband and I got to know ourselves much better as a couple and noticed that we were doing that, I gave a gift to Mother Earth (1Bag) and celebrated another of my birthdays occupying my little speck of space on her vast plains. It rained, it shined, winds blew, branches fell, the moon circles round over head lighting the night quite brightly at times. The barn stood sentry over it all, graced with our pretty quilt square. We picked cherries and berries and enjoyed some lucky numbers. This summer we served others with gladness in our hearts and planned future service that will gladden us even more.

This summer, the river across from the farm flowed brilliantly as ever.

This summer, the river me enjoyed life and bounty while tripping over stones along the way.

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