Knitting, and painting, and writing …

June 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Posted in art, country life, faith, family, gardening, gifts, health, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, summer, travel, women | 9 Comments
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Good morning … I hope you are having an enjoyable summer so far.

I give mine mixed reviews.

I spent the first part of June in Denver visiting with my parents, which was wonderful of course but not without some bittersweet feelings as well. I love living here on the farm in New York, an I would not trade my life here with my dear husband for anything. We enjoyed our sixth wedding anniversary this past April and continue to feel amazed and blessed that our 3-month online courtship and subsequent marriage worked out so very, very well.

It is, however, not fun at all to be 1,500 miles away from my parents. They have always been two of my very best, dearest friends as well as parents who I cherish, respect, and love. I wish circumstances were such that we could all live close together so that I could help them more. Dad continues to give prostate cancer a run for its money, and Mom does an incredible job taking care of him through that battle. When we all lived in California, very close to each other, my kids and I were on hand to help them if needed … and of course during all of the years when I was raising my kids my parents were very nearby and always on hand to lend a hand, a hug, or a listen whenever it was needed by us.

We have a dream that by some miracle the universe aligns and Dad and Mom are able to come and live here with us. Miracles can happen, and we will continue to pose that dream to the universe and see what we along with the universe can make happen.

Meanwhile, there is love and there is a wealth of technology for staying in touch at least.

I came back from Denver with bronchitis and then had the fun of that segueing to a sinus infection back in New York. I am much better now, but much of June was devoted to the trip and the recovery.

I did manage to take a brief little vacation, right in our own backyard, with my husband last weekend. I shot a number of photos during the vacation using the Instagram app on my Android phone and shared those on Facebook and Twitter. That little app is so amazing, and quite fun to use. I am planning on creating an Instagram chronicle over the course of this summer as a photo journal of a summer living in vacation.

Every year I am stunned all over again at the complete, innocent and rustic beauty of this place and the environment around it.

Creatively, I am enjoying a very productive time these days. I created two small oil paintings while on the mini-vacation, am almost complete with my watercolor of the swans, and have started writing my first novel. I am determined to write at least 500 words each day for the next several months until my first novel is complete. I realize 500 words per day is a tiny little writing target, but making sure I do at least that much work on the novel will ensure I do produce a full-length book over the next year. I have also been knitting: I completed a Biscuit Blanket as a mystery gift to someone I have not met as of yet, am making another attempt at a summertime blanket for myself, and am working on a new design for something I am calling a Friendship Square … more on that later.

Oh, yes … I also managed to make a triple batch of strawberry-rhubarb-cranberry preserves that resulted in a 26 jars of some very delicious jam. The strawberries and rhubarb were locally grown, and the cranberries were from a stock of frozen cranberries I always have on hand. Oops, I just remembered another thing … my husband and I got this year’s Sincere Pumpkin patch going.

I also have been creating some new art prints for knitters … I posted two of my new designs this morning in my Etsy store. They are philosophical, and slightly humorous. I hope you will enjoy at least taking a look at them and enjoying the sentiment as well as the pretty colors I am using.

That is about it for me for now. I want to work on some more paintings today, because I have the August Art Trail to prepare for and a beautiful day to thoroughly enjoy.

Warmest wishes to you and yours.

~firefly

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How do I love my Kindle …

October 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Posted in country living, gifts, inspiration, Kindle, knitting, Life, shopping, women | 2 Comments
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It is a dark and stormy Saturday morning; I am sitting at the dining room table writing, sipping coffee, and enjoying the view outside of the barn, the field of corn out beyond it, and the trees swaying in the wind as rain falls from the dark clouds.  The tapping sound of rain on the windows adds to a cozy mood; my husband is sitting on the sofa in our dining room reading the paper by the warm glow of a lamp, the giant English Mastiff is at his feet, while Blu is laying beside of me.  I hear the low rumble of The Duke (my son’s English Bulldog) snorning in my studio.  I need to fetch a pair of socks, because there is a draft that is making me cold.

I Love my KindleThis morning my Kindle reader is on my mind.  My husband gave it to me for my birthday back in August, and I have been surprised by my feelings of love and attachment to this wonderful electronic device.   Of all the electronic devices and gadgets the surround me today, the Kindle is the one that really stands out as being something much different in my mind.  It doesn’t actually seem to be very electronic, in fact, I refer to it as my “book”, not my “Kindle” and I take it with me everywhere in the house, in the car … it is my constant companion.

Books have always been dear to me, and I will continue to love the look and feel of a real book in my hand, on the shelf, the coffee table … decoratively and functionally, books are a treasure to me.  However, as life has progressed I have found that books are not as comfortable to carry around and hold as I read.  With my Kindle, I can carry hundreds of books around with me, including a fully loaded dictionary — and I can do this pain-free.

I can change the font size of the display, so that if I can’t find my reading glasses or don’t care to wear them I can still comfortably read.  And, I love the display — it is this cool electronic ink that looks like ink on paper.  It does not have an electronic look to it at all.  Another cool thing is that photos and other graphics look beautiful and crisp in the Kindle-screen monochrome.

I love my Kindle so much I have set up a page on my website devoted to the subject.  Amazon has a widget thing that I was able to put on that page where I can share the Kindle devices I love as well as books and blogs I have found in the Kindle store and enjoyed enough to recommend to you.  I can update the widget as I have other items to recommend to you.

The first book I downloaded and read was “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett — it was a wonderful read, and I can well understand why it has been at the top of the NY Times Best Seller’s list (combined print and ebook) for a while now.   I have also sampled a few different knitting books on Kindle to see what that experience is like, and I am very pleased with how patterns display on the Kindle as well as how comfortable and easy it is to refer to a pattern on a Kindle as I knit.  There are a ton of free old books of knitting education, patterns, techniques, etc. that you can instantly download to the device.

So far I have only published one of my patterns for Kindle, but I am working on a Kindle book (as well as eBook version) that has all of my Christmas Stocking knitting patterns in it.  Soon as that is ready I will announce it on my blog and in an email to my readers.  I have set up my blog so people can subscribe to it on Kindle, and I have published two books so far for Kindle (one is my father’s book of inspirational poetry, and the other is my humorous short, short story for knitters).  For those who do not own Kindles or other electronic readers, I also published these books as regular eBooks that can be downloaded to your computer and printed out or read on your monitor.

If you don’t have a Kindle yet, I really recommend you look into getting one.  They range in price from $79 to $400 and … well, wonderful really.

Hopefully my heartfelt review and comments will be of help to some of you, my dear readers.

Have a great weekend.

~firefly

Not quite what you thought it would be

November 11, 2008 at 6:42 pm | Posted in country living, faith, family, knitting, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance | 9 Comments
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11nov08_bluA few days ago I was watching something on television while my husband sat in his reclining chair reading the paper. There was a scene in the show featuring a middle aged man walking his dog along a street at night. The scene was illustrating the thoughts of married men in a typical suburban neighborhood, and for this scene the narrator said the man was thinking, “Oh crap, my dreams are never going to come true.”

It was a funny, unexpected line and it made both my husband and I laugh a little. We both knew that while it is funny, there was quite an element of truth to it and it led to a conversation on the subject of dreams people have and how life events and developments do cut people off from their dreams … often.

That is a sad fact, but let us not leave things there.

I look at myself, and I have been experiencing the opposite for the past few years. Many of my dreams have come true and continue to do so.

But, here’s the thing: these were not my original dreams. Well, some of them are not original, or older dreams. Many of the dreams of mine that are coming true now are dreams that have evolved over the course of my life.

What then, makes the difference between someone whose dreams do come true and someone whose dreams fail?

I have a theory, purely a theory, based on my own experiences. In my life, I have certainly experienced many challenges, some of them very dire and painful. There have certainly been many tears and many perfectly good reasons to cry.

11nov08_oldbarnPerhaps you have read in one of my earlier blog posts that I admit to there being times when I (much to my chagrin) felt sorry for myself. Woe is me, or woe was me.

Even now, though I am experiencing one of the very best times of my life, there are plenty of unexpected developments that come along to challenge my faith, my ability to dream, and my ability to make dreams come true.

The difference between me now and me about twelve to fifteen years ago is that now when challenges and disappointments come along, they do not give me cause for alarm. You see, I know I can get through and live through pretty much anything. I have confidence, based on actual life experience, that I have an unlimited capacity to create new dreams and go after them and to re-evaluate earlier dreams and let go of them if I need do so.

I have dreamed up many things I would like to be, do, or have during my life. Some were fun, playful ideas that really did not have a great deal to do with who I truly am — even though they seemed to be at the time.

Others though are more basic to me, and those are the dreams that seem to stick around and keep shining on a golden hill that does not seem entirely out of my reach. When I was a little kid, I knew I would be a writer. Through my teen years, I wrote much poetry which I was far to shy to share with much of anyone at all. Someone I loved, a boy, unfortunately made some unkind comment about one I dared to share with him and punctured the delicate film of the poetic bubble I was keeping myself inside of. My heart was exposed to open air, and a beautiful flow of poetry ceased to release itself from within me.

11nov08_applesWhen I was in my early twenties, with two young children and a home to care for, I continued to dream of writing. I longed to write novels, and felt incredibly and ridiculously (now that I know better I can say that) impatient to have the time to write. Oh, how my heart ached to write stories. The frustration at never having the time to devote to it was painful.

Honestly though, what would I have written about? What did I know of life at that time? Of course, I felt as if I knew so very, very much. Oh yes, I was wise beyond my years in my own estimation of myself.

A few years later I did manage to find the time to start writing short, short fiction stories. That was a beautiful time and I loved the writing. I would feel inspired and rush to grab some paper and a pen and sit down writing frantically in an effort to “catch” my story before it dissipated into thin air. The stories were fun, funny, and bizarre. That was my style, such as I could find my style at the time. For a while I submitted my stories to publishers and had just begun to build an impressive folder of rejection letters when life took a turn that would put my dreams of writing on hold for a little longer … divorce, single parenthood, struggles and turmoil became my lot in life.

I did try writing for a while after the divorce. I remember one particular time when I was attempting to write a story on my computer and the kids were climbing all over me as I madly typed in an effort to capture the inspired thoughts, those darned ethereal creatures that could come and go so quickly. The picture in my mind of that moment is from outside myself. I see a comical scene of a woman sitting at a computer focusing on her monitor as one child attempts to spin her chair and the other climbs up the back of said chair, holding onto the mother’s hair for support with one hand, and grasping across the mother’s face with the other.

11nov08_geeseThe kids won, it was only right that they should.

Life became a series of events and struggles that led me far astray, or so it seemed, from my dreams of being a writer. Food needed to be put on the table, the children needed parenting, the house needed cleaning, cars needed to be maintained, rent needed paying, utilities … you know the story. You do what is right for your family, not what lingers in your heart of the scraps and pieces of the dreams of youth.

Just like the narrator in the television said, “Oh crap, my dreams are not going to come true.” Similar thoughts, worded a little differently, walked through my mind many times.

It doesn’t mean I didn’t love my children. I loved and still love my children more than life itself. They came to me unexpectedly, they brought with them a lifetime of love and adventure. The feeling of longing for dreams and “realizing” you will probably end up never getting there are just honest feelings that have nothing to do with whether or not you love your family.

For me, solving the problem of how to feed my family led me in directions I never expected. I actually became very adept at solving that problem by being a quick study in a variety of fields and trying quite a few avenues of freelance entrepreneurship. The pain of the struggle and the necessity of not failing because the kids were depending on me helped bring out the best I had to offer as a solver of problems.

11nov08_leavesAs a matter of fact, that struggle and solving the problem of “food on the table” led me down a course of events that ultimately led to my discovering when I was in my early 30’s I could draw and paint. That led to learning digital art, which led to my being hired by an internet start-up company, which led to my learning quite a lot about website design as well as the business side of the Internet, and ultimately to where I am today.

It led me to new dreams I never would have known to dream about earlier in my life.

When I take a good look back at how my life has unfolded, solving the problem of “food on the table” led me to where I am today and back to my original dream of being a writer but with all kinds of other cool stuff mixed in.

The summer before I met my husband, I was reorganzing my life yet again. I had closed down a business I had attempted that did not go well, my son and daughter had moved out and on their own, my parents had moved to Denver, my oldest brother had passed away and I had taken a few months off to deal with various family matters.

I was not sure what I wanted to do next, and was sending out resumes and looking for work but not very certain what kind of work I wanted to pursue. My son and I were talking on the phone, and he suggested that perhaps I should just focus on writing. It is funny when I look back on it; such a simple suggestion.

I was looking in the mirror a little while later and I realized, “I am a writer.” Yes, there were many other things I could do, but in my heart what I am is what I was when I was a kid. I am a writer.

When I was a little kid, or a teenager, or a young adult and single parent I didn’t know enough to realize where my dream of writing might take me. My view was very limited by a life still green on the vine. I could not have known back then that there would be this thing called “the Internet”, or something known as a “blog”.

I could not have known that in the middle of my life I would meet a man on “the Internet”, marry him and move to a 200-year-old farm in Western New York. I could not have known that a few months later I would decide to write a little blog about my new life and a little bit of knitting. I certainly could not have known that through various sets of circumstances my little blog would come to be read by several thousand people each week or that I would design some knitted items and start publishing and selling knitting patterns. Knitting patterns, really?

This I could not have known and yet, here I am.

11nov08_pondI am a writer, and I get to write from a beautiful old farm where I also get to live. I get to have a dear husband to share life with, a flowing river right across the road, I get to knit in the morning, write and paint in the afternoons, I get to know and love that dear sweet dog named Blu, and I have two wonderful children who are adults now themselves … learning a thing or two about their own dreams and the unexpected paths life can carry you along as you ease your way through and into dreams that can come true.

The way I wrapped up the conversation with my husband was this: If you came into life with some finite number of dreams you were assigned, then “Oh crap!” would be true. Yes, some of your dreams are not going to come true. I can pretty much promise you that.

Just remember, that is not the whole story of you.

The cool thing is that you did not come into this life with only a certain number of dreams you were allowed to dream. The number of dreams you can dream is infinite, plus they can get better and better the more you actually live your life and learn a bit more about who you really are.

~firefly

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