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Archive for the ‘Collage Art by Margaret L. Been’ Category

North

My above-pictured collage, simply titled “North”, tells a story—an account of eight years when my husband and I lived, year around, north of Highway 8 in the Wisconsin Northwoods.  Included in the collage are photos of our lake and the Big Elk River around the bend, snippets of my cropped art, bits of aluminum foil, Japanese lace paper, some cheesecloth, lots of acrylic paint, and a favorite quote from a beloved American author:  Henry David Thoreau:  “I had three chairs in my house . . . one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society.”  Walden

People who know me may laugh when I share this favorite quotation.  They know that:  1) I have far more than three chairs in our home, as well as far more than three of most anything else.  I’m a collector of everything! and 2) My idea of “society” is a lot more than three people.  We have a gargantuan family.  All are welcome to come and sit on our multiple chairs—although many are still in the stage of running around rather than just sitting.  (My “up north” friend Sandy commented after viewing a photo of our family, “That’s not a family; that’s a tribe!”)

Meanwhile, aside from Thoreau’s eastern philosophical views, I love most everything that he wrote.  His chair quote, to me, symbolizes an inner peace and unswerving stability.  A true Yankee at heart, Thoreau was never swayed by customs, crowds, human opinion, or even his own precarious health issues.  I have his complete diary spanning 24 years and two huge volumes.  Right up to his last entry, when Thoreau was dying of tuberculosis, his focus remained on the wonders of creation and the intricate details therein.

The wonders of creation predominate around our home in Northern Wisconsin, along with solitude and an undescribable stillness.  Black bears abound. Despite the fact that they tore up a few bird feeders and pulled a screen off our front deck, I loved the bears (but my husband did not!).  Perhaps the most unique thrill of all was seeing timber wolves on the ice in front of our pier.  The wolves brought unforgettable excitement to a minus 25° morning.  (That’s 25 degrees below zero, folks!)  But nature’s wonders notwithstanding, my most precious memories of up north have to do with the friends we made—friends forever.  As always, I was thankful to have more than 3 chairs in my home!  :)

Now we are back in the Southern part of our state, where much needed medical care is within 13 minutes from our door.  And family!  In recent years, 16 great-grandchildren have appeared on the scene and we live close to 9 of them.  We are watching the little people grow up.  We attend their school concerts and some of the birthday celebrations.  I attend church with children, grandchildren, and 7 of our great-grandchildren.  When out-of-state family members visit, we are all together in one county—so tribal gatherings are easily managed.  Joe and I enjoy our condo home, my little gardens, the good neighbors on our lane, the park and woodlands beyond our door, and quick access to great restaurants and bistros.  A new grandbaby is due in June—within rocking and cuddling distance. 

Yet now and then on hot summer nights—when I lounge outdoors on the patio while viewing the hazy moon and scanty stars over our nearby metro area—I recall those northern night skies, plastered with millions of stars.  I often think of my friends up there, and I’m thankful that we stay in touch. 

We never really lose the beloved people or places in our lives.  There’ll always be a part of my heart labeled, “North of Highway 8″.

Margaret L. Been, ©2013

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Our patio is no longer our “living room”, unless we bundle snugly and clutch a mug of hot coffee.  The dried leaves are poignant reminders of the sunny green months, now stashed away in memory, like potatoes and carrots in a root cellar—waiting to be unearthed for winter nourishment.

This glimpse of garden glory was captured the day before a killer frost ended the reign of the mums.  Now they have drooped, and they are looking earthward—anticipating their long sleep.

The garage is ready for winter.  Vestiges of warmer days are stored here with the accoutrements of fishing and gardening, outdoor decorations, and our wonderful, weathered vintage croquet set.  The Christmas wreath and funny little fake tree—both gleaned at rummage sales for a few cents—will be pressed into service soon. 

On some of the most bitter winter days, Joe and I sit in the sun in the shelter of our south-facing garage and luxuriate in the sight of summer stashed and waiting for a new season of rejoicing outdoors.

I have never been to Africa, but since I’ll soon have a Nigerian son-in-law the great continent of Africa is close to my heart.  A glimpse of sunrise over our Southern Wisconsin park reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of the Serengeti.  Of course a giraffe or two would have to replace that line of trees in the background of the photo.  And in Wisconsin we do not have any lions lurking behind a bush.  I can’t say I regret that!  The domestic cats I know delight my heart, and satisfy my need for feline wildness in my life!

Here are some reasons our sixteen great-grandchildren should enjoy winter.  I recently completed the last one—the wee baby hat on the bottom right.  This little pink chapeau has been presented to the parents-to-be, and quite possibly Baby Mia will wear it home from the hospital in early December.  The remaining hats will be Christmas gifts.

Hot tea has replaced my beloved iced beverage for a few months.  My consolation lies in the hot tea paraphernalia, which in this instance includes most of my ethnic roots:  a Swiss tea kettle, English teapot/cup/and saucer, and Scottish Breakfast Tea ready to sip.  (The cream in the tea is Wisconsin raised.) 

The gorgeous green in the new kettle could reflect my Irish heritage, but alas—that heritage was Orange not Green, although my political sympathies have always been with the Green!  And I don’t see any Alsatian artifacts in the picture.  But I’m sure I could find a bit of German chocolate to go with the tea.

Now we drink our tea beside the (electric) fireplace, rather than outdoors.  Overseen by my collage art, the fireplace mantel collection of dysfunctional clocks and watches reminds me that time is relative.  Each piece tells but one time, correct only twice in twenty-four hours. 

There’s a lot of mellow living to be had when we realize that the aesthetic beauty of a clock far exceeds its worth in practical terms.  Each season in our Wisconsin homeland beckons us to suspend time, savor the moment, and contemplate that which is eternal!

“For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”  Psalm 90:4

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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A lot of Wisconsin folks went to sleep happy last night!  Even those of us who are normally not rabid football fans are smiling today!  And yesterday made me smile for additional reasons.

The success of the day began with my supermarket purchase of a magazine called Flea Market Gardens.  After our noon meal, I poured myself a SIERRA MIST®, reclined on the couch for my mid-day siesta, and began to browse through my new magazine. 

Besotted is too mild a word for my response to the pages of this periodical!  With 5 foot deep snow piles all around our part of the world, I was suddenly transported to the charm of junk gardens:  annuals and perennials spilling insouciantly from pages and pages of GLORIOUS JUNK—rusty metal beds, warped wooden dresser drawers with peeling paint and rusty hardware, shards of cracked and crazed English teapots and platters, simulated trees sprouting blue bottles, fences and birdbaths slung about with tattered textiles, stoney paths through randomly strewn rose gardens, Gypsy beads hanging from broken chandeliers on patios, herbal wreaths and dried blooms decking porch walls, mosaic garden tables replete with vintage tumblers and pitchers of lemonade, and more!

Half way through the magazine, I sprang up from the couch.  Something had to be done, NOW!  With weeks of winter ahead, I could at least refurbish our inside digs—and beautify my own flea market garden indoors.  So I embarked on the dual project of hiding the uglies and enhancing the garden decor.

As you know, a corner of our master bedroom doubles as my art studio.  What may not be public info is the fact that this corner contains some gorgeous house plants.  But unfortunately the space must also be shared with a bunch of abysmally yucky functional items, too butt ugly for words—these items being 1) a DVD player for viewing our English films and my art tutorials, 2) a laptop computer which I am using at this moment, 3) a scanner for scanning paintings and photos into said butt ugly laptop, and 4) a printer for printing pictures and the provenance of my online shopping (along with blogging, the positive upside of having to live with a computer).

Above, you will see my treatment of the ugly DVD player.  It now serves as a display for art when not in use.  To the left of my collage, the scanner is disguised beneath a woven scarf and the printer (beneath) still lurks in plain sight, albeit flanked by Teddy bears.  Both scanner and printer reside on decorative antique wooden crates used for filing office stuff.  Faded splintery wood makes all things beautiful.  And even a printer can’t be over the top yucky when decorated with bears! 

Below is a shot of my computer desk.  But where is the computer?  Topped with books and surrounded by the aesthetics of art paraphernalia, I can almost stand to live in the same room with the thing!  (The start of this modification of a computer’s invasive hideousness can also be viewed on my January 24th posting.  But I’ve taken the disguise to a new level by removing the scanner from the computer desk and replacing the scanner with my easel.)

Below you can see how art supplies have been dovetailed on one table in order to more effectively present my garden on another table, while still affording working space. 

(Chairs stacked on tables are SO WONDERFUL AND PLEASING TO THE EYES!  This battered orange gem was unearthed at a rummage sale deep in Minnesota’s Quetico Superior National Forest, just off the Gunflint Trail.  It cost all of $1.00.  The lamp is a family heirloom.  As a child, I frequently rubbed it’s metal patina—hoping a genie would pop out of it, as I was enchanted by the TALES OF THE ARABIAN NIGHTS.)

Now, you can scroll on down and see our bedroom garden.  The plants are more visible than before when they were all submerged in the sunken window sill.  I have staggered the height of the plants with a child’s antique chair and a charming vintage stool with worn upholstery.  Our many recent hospital adventures have yielded a plethora of those pink plastic containers, perfect for plants.  Pink is always welcome in my life, anywhere/anytime!

Not shown are some additionally enhanced indoor junk gardens, in Joe’s den and our living room.  Perhaps we can tour those on another occasion! 

My suddenly inspired indoor “re-do” is the next best thing to being in my outdoor gardens MINUS 5 feet of snow!  After hiding the uglies and enhancing the garden decor inside I absorbed the remainder of Flea Market Gardens, prepared an early dinner for Joe and me, and settled down to enjoy Wisconsin’s exciting VICTORY!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

P. S.  Here is an academic question posed by our daughter, Judy, and having nothing to do with any of the above.  If you go to a computer store and want to buy more than one “mouse” do you ask for “mice”?  Certainly not “mouses”! 

Reader’s input is welcome.  I’ll ponder that one for a long time! :) 

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“But thanks be unto God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.”  2 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)

Our little Christmas tree sparkles in our east window and reflects the dawn.   Glints of sunlight are precious on these bitter cold, Wisconsin December days.  In just a little over 2 weeks we’ll experience more glints every day, as the faithful sun returns to our northern land—reminding us of our ever faithful SON!

Beneath the Christmas tree is an assortment of gift bags, overflowing with tangible expressions of love.  As family members drop in for a visit, we will give them their gifts—thereby stretching  our Christmas festivities out over several weeks. 

This is a sensible and enjoyable way to celebrate a most unusual holiday season at the climax of a most unusual autumn which began with my spinal fusion surgery, followed by Joe’s accident and multiple procedures on his severe leg burns (which are healing nicely).

As autumn began with surgery, thus it will end.  Joe is scheduled for a skin graft on his 3rd degree burn next week, and on December 22nd I am having colon surgery.

Christmas Day in the hospital will not be a sad thing for me.  The beautiful new hospital where we go is only 8 minutes from our door, and we have family members all around.  I will have plenty of company.  And also, I’ll get a much needed rest.  Joe will “vacation” at our son Eric’s home during my hospital stay, and Eric will bring Joe to visit me.  With the presence of the Lord in one’s heart, every day is Christmas!

This morning I made a batch of soap, and scented it with sandalwood and rose fragrance oils.  Our home is redolent with sandalwood and rose.  I pray that, spiritually speaking, I can carry this fragrance with me over the next weeks—as I go to the hospital with Joe for his surgery, and as I check into the same hospital a week later for mine. 

May those of us who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ share the sweet fragrance of His love and saving grace wherever we go, in all circumstances—as long as we have time left on earth!

Merry Christmas!

Margaret L. Been ©2010

P. S.  Due to a rash of obnoxious spam, I am dis-allowing comments for awhile.  For friends and family members who read this blog, please email or call.  I love to hear from you!  MB

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