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Too weird not to tell

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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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