Lest yesterday’s poignant piece leads you to believe that we harbor sadness around here, please think again. I experience the poignancy of change, but always with gladness and appreciation of the moment and season at hand. Each has its beauty and meaning. Each is accessible when we have layers of wool, and I do. Each has its unique message, new every year. And due to God’s faithfulness, each season will return. So I will take you on a photo tour throughout our home, which we dearly love indoors and out. Indoors is especially cozy and inviting.
Above you will see one of my two highly efficient fine spinning wheels on which I produce beautiful yarn for knitting. For 18 years I raised my own spinners’ flock of quality wool sheep: Border Leicester, Cotswold, Romney, Targhee, Corriedale, and Shetland—plus Angora goats for mohair. I still have some of my Shetlands’ gorgeous brown wool. But being a color freak, now I purchase dyed fleece and roving from suppliers of which their are loads—readily accessible online. The green wool in the baskets pictured here is Merino—the world’s softest fiber with the exception of silk which I also order and spin.
In this spinning wheel scene you can see some of our eastern exposure winter garden. Here the fussy, shade lovers reside. When we moved to Nashotah in 2009, it didn’t take long for us to realize that our violets did not enjoy our new home as much we did. Here we have natural gas heat, and alas there is a heat duct blowing down over both of our winter gardens.
The succulents featured in the next photo do not mind hot dry air a bit. But African violets are really jungle plants. They thrive on the moist ground in the humid section filled with tropical trees and lush undergrowth in Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Horticultural Domes. Now, after 5 years of prematurely loosing violets, I have installed them in Wardian cases (one of which is visible behind the wheel)—attractive little greenhouses patterned after an invention by a 19th century English doctor (Dr. Ward) who built the house-like glassed in shelters to protect his plants in his London home.
Above is a glimpse of our southern facing indoor garden replete with succulents. These plants, along with my Louis L’Amour novels provide a western fix for the Colorado and New Mexico aspect of my life.
Back to the fiber thread (pardon the pun), here are some recent renderings from my yarn baskets and knitting needles. (Unlike many folks, I knit all through the summer, even outside on the warmest days. That is called “being a knit wit”.)
On the left is a shrug in process, knitted with my handspun yarn. Next is a finished fringed shawl, also in handspun. The almost center garment is a cape. I make loads of these, because they are so much fun! As well as adding buttons for decoration, I include buttons and button holes so that the garment will stay on the shoulders with comfort. On the right is a HUGE poncho, probably good down to 20 degrees above zero over a big wool sweater. The cape and poncho are made from commercial woolen yarns with a few funky synthetics thrown in for fun.
And saponifying—that is, soap making—another year round delight. These bars, made just yesterday, look good enough to eat. But I wouldn’t advise that!
And art making, also enjoyed year around but really beefed up on winter nights!
And winter tea parties. Of course I continue my beloved iced tea all year (I didn’t think I had any Southern blood in me, but that’s what friends below the Mason Dixon line do). However, when company comes, it’s hot tea and a chance to show off my English tea pots. Guests may pick their pot, and cup and saucer of which there are MANY.
Finally, here is a shot from last year. It’s coming! I’m thankful for all of the above, especially for my family and corgi, and of course for books bending multi shelves and stacked like leaning towers all over the home!
When the sun shines again (and it will) I’ll try to get some shots of glorious color. That’s coming too—hopefully before the above pristine stuff!
©Margaret L. Been, October 2014
Posted in "Old" is Creative!, Age 80 and growing younger every year!, Ambience, Ambience in Decor, ART!, Artists and art, Arts and Crafts, Autumn, Books, COLOR!, Condo Living, Contentment in the Little Things, Creating Beauty at Home, Creative Aging, Creative Living, Creative minds are never bored!, English and Bavarian china, Entertainment, Fashion, Fiber Arts, Fine Arts, Fun and Funky, Gracious Living, Great is Thy Faithfulness!, Growing old is a great joy!, Hand spun yarn, Hearth and Home, Home Arts, Home grown art, Home is an art gallery!, House Plants, Knitting, Knitting with handspun yarn, Life, Life is full but never busy, Lifestyle, Living abundantly in a condo!, Painting, Reflecting God's Creativity, Retirement Joys, Small Town Living, Soap Making, Soap Making Delights, Spinning, Spinning Wheels and Wool, The Home Arts, The joy of artmaking, The Joy of Creating, The Joy of Keeping a Home!, Watercolor Painting, Weather, Winter in Wisconsin, Yarn | Tagged African violets, Arts and Crafts, Beautiful Homemaking, Condo Living, Creative Living, Fun and Funky, Gracious Living, Indoor Gardens, Jensen Spinning Wheels, Knitting, Life, Louis L'Amour, No Stress Allowed, Patio Gardens, Retirement Joys, Soap Making, Spinning Spinning and Spinning Wheels, The Gift of Time. Gracious Living, Wardian cases, Watercolor Painting, Winter Survival | 2 Comments »
Gradually, almost imperceptibly the seasons turn. Summer lingered, and thanks to plenty of moisture our woodland view remained green far longer than normal for a Southern Wisconsin Autumn. For weeks I played make believe—drinking iced tea in the morning sun and making believe it was still, and always would be, Summer. Then the mornings turned brisk, and I switched my sun and iced tea habit to the south side of our condo—rocking in a large pink rocker and absorbing every bit of warmth I could, to store against the inevitable onslaught of change.
Then the Autumn rains. Now our courtyard is littered with sheddings from a large tree which is, as far as I can ascertain, an American Elm. I love the leaf-littered grass, but realize that many condo owners do not. Most folks around here do not hear my wild drummer, which forever beats to the soughing of wind and soothing of soggy leaves underfoot. When the leaves dry, their crunching will delight my heart beyond anything words can express.
Soon the maintenance crew will vacuum the littered leaves. I must be watchful, to preempt the crew and rake boundless amounts into my gardens for a protective buffer against winter.
Since our patio and patio garden open directly off the living room of our home, I fantasize that I’m still outdoors. I open the patio door and inhale the pungent scent of Autumn rain, ripened and vastly different from the fragrance of April showers. Still I pretend, pour myself an iced tea, close my eyes, and celebrate that stubborn essence of Summer which has always pervaded my innermost heart.
©Margaret L. Been, October 2014
Posted in Autumn, Beauty of Summer Gone Raggy, Condo Living, Creating Beauty at Home, Gardens, Graciously accepting changing roles, Hearth and Home, Life, Lifestyle, Living abundantly in a condo!, Nature, Patio Gardens, Patio living, Peace and Serenity, Rain, Reflective Musings, Slow lane living in a fast lane culture!, Small Town Living, Summer Joys!, Sun bathing, The joy of rain!, Trees | Tagged Autumn, Autumn Rain, Condo Living, Creative Living, Iced Tea, Life, October, Patio Gardens, Reflective Musings, The Gift of Time. Gracious Living | 2 Comments »
Friends sometimes question me with concern when I haven’t posted for awhile on this site. I’m always deeply touched when this happens. One friend asked our daughter if I was okay, because she had not seen any fresh Northern Reflections for some time.
I’ve been aware that each of my five blogs has different readers, and many do not realize that the other blogs even exist. You can check the Blog Roll for my other URLs and topics. But in recent months, my art blog: http://www.northernview.wordpress.com/ — i. e. “The Messy Palette . . . Growing through Art” has been most frequently updated.
I intend to continue this blog whenever and however. But, after decades of words and writing for publication, NOW MY HEART IS IN THE ART. If you wonder why I have not been posting new Northern Reflections, you might just check out the Northern View (Messy Palette) site and see how my world is viewed at present.
I have been reflecting on the language of the arts. Through the “Likes” on my art site, I found a lady in Italy whose paintings thrill me to the core. Truly a kindred soul! Her bio is in Italian which is (metaphorically speaking) Greek to me. I’m comfortable with reading French, but there my foreign language skills rest. Yet this woman’s paintings speak volumes, and words are not necessary when I view her art. Thus the centuries of art and music cross every culture and can potentially dissolve barriers between those who love creative expression.
Have you ever had the experience of feeling terribly embarrassed when trying to communicate with someone whose language you do not know—given the fact that the “someone” is out to sea with your language as well? This has happened to me on numerous occasions. There is a lot of apologetic head wagging and pasted-on smiles as we try to convey friendship and find some common ground. You want to communicate to the other person that you like him or her and want to be a friend. But the smiles and head wags can be borderline inane—like Bobble Heads in the back window of a car.
Try art. Try music. Although our worldview, moral and ethical values, and political leanings must articulate clearly in words, no verbal language is needed to build bridges to simple, every-day friendship—when a passion for the arts is the major motivator. My love for Verdi has long given me insight and appreciation for the pulse beat and intensity of Italy. Viewing Oriental art yields even more regard for Chinese culture than a plate of Egg Rolls (although food works too). Beethoven and Bach are a part of my American family heritage, bringing me closer to my German speaking ancestors: German, German Swiss, and Alsatian. Like nothing else on earth, Celtic harp ballads stir my racial memory and resonate in my Celtic genes.
So through art and music, we can indeed be multi-lingual. If so inclined, or if I don’t post again for sometime on this site, just visit my Messy Palette. :)
Margaret L. Been, September
NOTE: I just updated the ekphrasis page. With the onset of Autumn, I sense the poet is coming out of hibernation, rather than going in. Check out my “Tatters of Time”.
Posted in "Old" is Creative!, "Old" equals FUN!, ART!, Artists and art, Arts and Crafts, Condo Living, Creating Beauty at Home, Creative Aging, Creative Living, Ekphrasis, Fine Arts, Gracious Living, Home grown art, Home is an art gallery!, Living abundantly in a condo!, Painting, Poems by Margaret Longenecker Been, The Home Arts, Watercolor Painting | Tagged Arts and Crafts, Creative Living, Fun and Funky, No Stress Allowed, Poems by Margaret Longenecker Been, Reflective Musings, The Gift of Time. Gracious Living, The language of the arts, Watercolor Painting, Writers and Writing | 3 Comments »
Leonardo Aguilar II: I know I posted this hombre before, but I couldn’t resist posting more. Little Leo will be effortlessly bi-lingual. His Dad reads to him in Spanish, and his Mom (our granddaughter, Jamie) in English. Maybe I can pick up a word or two of Spanish from our youngest great-grandson!
More Little Leo, in Great-Grammy’s Shawl: I made this garment for a Teddy Bear, and then thought “Hey. It would look even better on Leonardo II!” He’s smiling as if he likes his colorful snuggy.
A Backyard Retreat: My friend Karen is a Master-Gardener, and she has the greenest thumbs (and fingers) of anyone I’ve ever known. Here are some photos she took of her beautiful sanctuary in Waukesha. Karen laid yards of winding brick pathway for an enchanting, rustic touch. Along with the gorgeous gardens to grace her neighborhood, Karen has a Little Library where anyone passing by can exchange books. How great is that!
A Memorable Outing: My friend Liz (pictured below) treated me to a day of antiquing, etc. just across our border—in Richmond, Illinois and the surrounding area. The day was just right: perfect weather, delightful browsing, good food, fun acquisitions, and best of all great company!
A Time to Be Silly: Our daughter Debbie took some of her grandchildren (our great-grandchildren—DUH!) on a surprise train ride and a vacation at a Wisconsin Dells water-park resort. The Amtrak speeds by our road every day at approximately 4:20 p. m. So on the day Deb was taking the children to the Dells Joe and I walked a few yards from our door, and waited at our road beside the Fire Station, so we could wave at the children as the train roared by.
Frequently I cannot resist being utterly silly where my children (of all ages!) are involved, so I had to do what I call a “Do Do Dee Dee Dance” with my derriere aimed at the passing train windows while Joe looked on very sedately from his 4-wheeler. (Joe doesn’t do Do Do Dee Dee Dances.) Meanwhile Debbie caught a blurry, impressionistic shot of the vaudeville act.
And Our Private Heaven: That long cold winter has morphed into luscious spring. A month ago it looked like nothing was going to happen. But now . . . ! The treasures in our patio garden are better than ever (I say that every year), and our patio is the perfect outdoor living room—with sun in the morning and shade for hot afternoons.
And SKY: Those of you who have checked this site on occasion over the last five years know that I have a thing about sky. As a child, I spent countless afternoons lying on the grass, watching clouds while searching for dragons, genies, and horses in the sky.
Now I recline on the berm outside our condo courtyard and watch clouds, with Baby Dylan (corgi) at my side. That is our warmish day agenda. On steaming summer days I flop on the patio lounge for afternoons of reading and cloud gazing, with ice tea ever handy.
Never has cloud gazing been more rewarding than it is here in the Lake Country, with the open expanse of park beyond our door. We are surrounded by lakes, so there are nearly always clouds—ever changing, ever exciting to view. I have years of cloud photos, enough to create a picture book. (That’s a great idea, for next winter!)
Meanwhile, here are some recent gems, starting with a sunrise:
Yes, I’ll always have my head in the clouds.
In closing, here is a confession of something that I never thought would happen. (Daughter Laura, are you ready for this?) My man is planning to get me a TABLET. Yes, family, I’m finally taking the plunge. Ever since tablets surfaced, I’ve said “No, I don’t want one”—and I meant it, at least I think I did. But recently something snapped. Now I look forward to having my very own tablet.
People with tablets appear to have thousands of pictures. (Hyperbole intended, but perhaps it’s not hyperbole.) Is this writer turning into an ex-writer, perhaps a “recovering” writer? Maybe a picture is worth a thousand words. :) Well, we’ll see about that.
Margaret L. Been, June 2014
Posted in "Old" is Creative!, "Old" equals FUN!, Age 80 and growing younger every year!, Antique shops, Antiques and Wonderful Junk!, Cloud Gazing, Condo Living, Contentment in the Little Things, Creating Beauty at Home, Creative Aging, Creative Living, Creative minds are never bored!, English Cottage Decor, English Gardens, Family Matters, Friends, Fun and Funky, Gardens, Grandchildren, Great-grandchildren, GREEN!, Growing old is a great joy!, Herb Gardens, Life, Life is full but never busy, Lifestyle, Living abundantly in a condo!, Never say "downsizing"!, New Life in Spring!, Patio Gardens, Patio living, Peace and Serenity, Pembroke Welsh corgi, Retirement Joys, Slow lane living in a fast lane culture!, Small Town Living, Spring Joy!, Sunrise Sunset, The beauty of open space, The Gift of Time, The Home Arts, The joy of collecting, The Joy of Creating, The Joy of Keeping a Home!, Trains, Weather, Writers and Writing | Tagged Antiquing, Beautiful Wisconsin Lake Country, Cloud Gazing, Cloud photos, Cloud watching, Condo Living, Creative Living, Family Matters, Friends, Fun and Funky, Gorgeous gardens, Gracious Living, Great-grandchildren, Life, No Stress Allowed, Patio Gardens, Reflective Musings, Retirement Joys, Richmond Illinois, Spring, Sunrise Photo, The Gift of Time. Gracious Living | 6 Comments »