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The Yin Yang of Spring

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Sweet little Yin the kitten on Fireflys farmYin Yang. That's what we named Cat Cat's two kittens because there are just the two of them and they cuddle together in a perfect yin yang. Yin is the darker kitten, Yang the one with more white on his/her body. They are still very young but have just this week begun to take tiny wobbling little steps. They recognize me and Yin in particular seems to quite enjoy being up on my shoulder, nuzzled in my long hair. Mostly they spend their time sleeping or nursing and almost always cuddling with each other and their sweet mother, Cat Cat. They get all of Cat Cat's milk to themselves, so they are the fattest little kittens you can imagine. Yang's tiny little tubby tummy nearly touches the floor when he shakily "walks" along. Oh, they are just too cute, too scrumptious almost for words. Dear little Yang kitten on Fireflys farmWhen we first realized Cat Cat was going to have a litter of kittens, we started telling friends and neighbors (anyone who would listen) that we would have kittens come spring and would be looking for good homes for them. Now that we see there are only the two of them, and with Cat Cat being such an outstandingly good natured kitty, we have decided both Yin and Yang should stay here on our farm with their mother. They will all three be our "magic" cats. How fun is that? I love watching them as they have first begun to be aware of an environment just a wee bit larger than that created by their own bodies and that of their mother. When they first began to lift up their little itty heads looking around in fits and starts, heads tilted ever so slightly to denote a sense of curiosity, I felt a wonderful thrill of "life" rushing through me. I find it interesting how just the tiniest little tilt of the head creates the definitive body language that communicates to an observer ... curiosity. Interest. Awareness. Pink tulips from fireflys cottageTheir growing sense of awareness born of kitten curiosity reminds me of the evolution of spring itself. Just this morning as I looked out the living room windows toward the river I felt almost as if I were in a lush jungle, the growth out there is so full and varied by now, but still the tender, pale green of early growth. Wow. Much as I love winter, and I do love winter, this thing of springtime with everything waking up and living and breathing and growing in a progression that is both thunderous and subtle simultaneously, well it is a thing I would never want to miss. I do cherish each season in and of itself, just as I cherish the stages of life -- each one separately wondrous in its own right. Of course, flowers play a big part in that which I particularly cherish about spring. A couple of weeks ago I spotted some pale purple tulips growing on the property by our cottage, five miles down the road from the farm. Although it is only those few five miles away, we don't get over that way very often so I cut the tulips (there were about a dozen) and brought them home to enjoy inside, in a vase by a sunny window. Emily sweater a hand knit sweater designed by fireflyI was going to photograph them, but became busy and missed doing it in time. The morning I believed to be my last chance to photograph them, I found all of their petals laying on the table. So sad. I gathered the petals and put them in a box to dry in a cupboard. Then I went back over the cottage where I found pink tulips beginning to bloom, so I cut those and brought them home. The pink tulips I did photograph in time, and I plan to use them as models for at least two paintings. Both the purple and the pink tulips were planted years ago by my mother-in-law at the cottage, which she refers to as "the place in the country". It amuses me, because she lived in a small town, but always referred to the cottage as "the place in the country". I can see why it would have been that to her, after all, she grew up in Buffalo and moved to a small town when she got married. To her, the cottage by the river, a good hour away from the small town where she and her husband raised my husband and his sister, was definitely out in the country. By Los Angeles standards, the small town she lived in would be a place in the country, but her persepective was quite different. Emily sweater stitch pattern detailNow she is nearly 93 years old, confined to a wheelchair in a nursing home and has no short term memory. She does speak from time to time about "the place in the country" and how close she felt to God whenever she was there. Occasionally she reminisces about planting flowers there, and I know she is recalling the tulips or daffodils or peonies she planted that grow there to this day. And here I am, a newcomer to a world she was long ago deeply familiar with and I get to see and enjoy some of the beauty she left behind, flowers which symbolize the love she had for the place and the time she spent there. I will memorialize her flowers with my paintings and photography, and we are going to move them from the cottage over here to the farm. We have to do that, because they grow beside of an old dilapidated farm house by the cottage, and the farm house is going to be demolished. We want to move her flowers here to the farm to preserve them and ensure they continue to be enjoyed for years to come. In other news ... just this morning I completed the sweater I was knitting for our pastor's little baby girl. I loved this project for a number of reasons. First of all, the baby girl who will wear it is very, very sweet natured. I have held her during church services a couple of times and she just smiles and winks and sleeps and squeezes my finger in her tiny little hand. So, of course I thought of her as I knitted this sweater for her. Buttons and stitches detail on the Emily hand knit sweater by fireflyAnother reason I love the project is because of the stitch pattern I chose, "Ears of Corn". That seemed appropriate for a baby born in a farming community where corn is such a prevalent crop. I love how the white cotton yarn showed off the stitch pattern so well. I look forward to publishing the pattern in the next few days because it will be a very economical project for those who need to be economical in their knitting choices these days. I bought a two pound cone of high quality, beautiful white cotton yarn for just under $7. It was plenty of yarn for the sweater and will also be enough to make a matching hat and booties. I'm sure there will be more left after that as well. [27 May 08 Update: The Emily Sweater and Matching Hat pattern are now available in my Etsy Store. A simplified version of the hat pattern is also available for free at ILiveonaFarm.com.] For practical as well as decorative purposes, I used half a dozen bright pink buttons from the "stash" given to me by my friend Dorothy and the lady I lovingly call "Winny of the Buttons", a stash I have immortalized by referring to it so many times in my blog. (Five-hundred years from now, will this blog still exist on the Internet?) There were a total of eight of those buttons, so I saved two to use as a decoration on the matching hat whenever I get that made. Dear little Yin the kitten on fireflys farmI recommend the "Ears of Corn" stitch pattern, because it is a very enjoyable and lovely little pattern to knit. Hope you enjoy my photos of the finished sweater and details. Last week I mentioned my having opened an Etsy store; I have knitting patterns there as well as note cards and original oil paintings. I would like to share a few nice comments I received from recent customers (notecards and patterns):
"More than I expected the photos are simply gorgeous and delivery was quick!! Thank you!!" ~ dogquilter
"I am SO happy with the note cards. The pictures on your site don't do them justice. You are an excellent photographer, along with your many other talents." ~ Beverly K.
"I've been looking for a pattern like this for a long time. It is a hat I know my husband will wear! The hat and scarf are very classic. The extra pages are a nice touch!" ~ bonvino
"I loved these little prints on your blog. The cards are fantastic. I'll be keeping one of each for me and sharing your art with my friends with the others ... a gorgeous product!" ~ radarkaty
"I just received the Biscuit Blanket pattern and wanted to let you know how tickled I am! The presentation is beautiful and the extra pattern, recipe and project note pages are incredibly thoughtful! I can’t wait to get several of these made and on hold for Christmas gifts!!" ~ Filyaw
On that note, I will end off here and head for my studio where I intend to draw those pink tulips as well as some other flowers I will be painting over the next few weeks. Wherever you are headed, I wish you well on the journey and the season. ~firefly

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