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Archive for the ‘The Funny Side’ Category

Valentine bears etc.

1)  Bears:  In recent years I’ve received a Valentine Bear most every Valentine’s Day.  This year I decided to move the Valentine Bears from our bedroom settee to a living room sofa, to celebrate their day.  Well, you should have heard the hullaballoo coming from the Other Occasion Bears who were left in the bedroom.  “Unfair!  Discriminatory!  We are Entitled!”

So I promptly moved the Others to the sofa to join their Valentine friends, thinking they could all spend the day there and I’d move them back to the bedroom at bedtime.  Then Joe and I went out for a Valentine dinner.  When we returned home, we were greeted with a petition.  It seems the bears had a secret meeting while we were gone.  They unanimously decided to Occupy Sofa through next Thursday when a young man named Lucas is coming for wiener roll-ups, pop, and an afternoon of art.  Wisely, the bear contingent choose Senior Paddington Bear to present the request to me, as they know I love British accents.  And of course I caved in.  After all, that sofa is an extra.  We have plenty of additional places for people to sit.  And Lucas will definitely enjoy the bears.

Now, Dear Readers I know exactly what you are thinking:  “This woman is eighty years old, and the February Blaaaas have pushed her over the edge.”  Sorry, but I have news for you.  I’ve always been this way.

Shawls Galore

2)  A GOOD YARN:  My fellow Knitwits will love this one.  The stats always soar when I post a yarn and needles bit.  Above you will find a just off the needles shawl.  Who says old dogs (or people) can’t learn new tricks?  Up until a year ago I had Circular Needle Phobia.  But I have overcome, and now I can’t quit making shawls.  This one will go to our local Vince Lombardi Cancer Center, as my family members and friends are by now completely shawled, scarfed, and hatted out.  Note the colors.  They give you a clue as to what is frequently on my mind as I gaze out on our garden buried in snow.

Southwest

3)  FRESH DECOR:  It’s fun to greet a new season with a few changes.  For years we went to Colorado and New Mexico—often at this time of the year.  We love our old comfy couch (not the bears’ sofa, but the one Joe and I normally hang out on).  New fabric on the couch brings the Southwest right into our living room.

Taking a step

4)  THE BEST BLAAA CHASER OF ALL—A CHILD:  This is our littlest sweetheart.  A week ago last Thursday, Tuks came for an entire day.  She is eight months old, and has begun stepping between close furniture rather than dropping to her knees.  We had so much fun with Tuks.  She took good naps for us, and maintained her sunny personality throughout the eight hours.  She loves to eat, loves people, loves dogs, loves life!  Who can ever have the blaaaas with someone like that around?!!!

And here’s a parting thought to cheer you on:  In three weeks, DAYLIGHT SAVING!  :)

Margaret L. Been, February 2014

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Recently our daughter, Laura, shopped for upholstery fabric for her sofa.  Laura wanted a print which would incorporate the soft colors she loves, to accent the muted gold walls in her new home.  At her first stop, Laura was told emphatically that patterned fabrics are unavailable because they are “not in style”.  Only solid colors are “in”.

At the next store Laura was told that patterns were scarce, but the decorator/clerk was helpful and willing to look.  Amazingly, she came up with a print in a traditional design which contained all the colors Laura desired.  Both our daughter and the clerk were delighted! 

Since hearing Laura’s account of shopping for fabric I’ve been musing on the patternless trend in decorating.  Not only does a lack of pattern go against my grain—it seems totally unnatural.  Nature is full of patterns.  If we are observant we cannot look anywhere without seeing a variety of designs.  Even in vast expanses of sky and sea, patterns are evident in moving clouds and undulating waves.  And our personal lives overflow with patterns as well!

Not only do I love patterns, but I love to mix them up and feature them together in the smallest of areas.  How many patterns can you detect in the below photo?

In this room alone, I have counted at least twenty-two patterns—including those in furniture, throw rugs, table runners, decorative shawls, afghans, and pillows.  Not taken into consideration were the patterns in dishes on shelves and art on the walls. 

Quite obviously, eclectic decorating is (and nearly always has been) a dominating pattern in my life!  Back in the 1990s, I received so many comments (pros and cons) about my “style” that I recorded the following message on our telephone answering device:  “You have reached the Beens, and the headquarters of Outrageous Home Decor.” 

Unfortunately many callers failed to comprehend my funky brand of humor, and they registered rank confusion.  They just didn’t get it.  So we replaced that message with one that was thoroughly boring and “socially correct”.*

Returning to current decorating trends, there IS HOPE!  This week I went to TARGET, in search of towels for my bathroom.  We have two bathrooms in our condo:  a big one for Joe and and a sweet little one for me.  A private loo!  How wonderful is that?!!!  Having my own loo means it is ALL MINE, and I can decorate it however I wish.  At TARGET I found incredibly gorgeous towels in Southwestern-ish stripes of many colors. 

I bought several towels and wash cloths, and rejoiced all the way home with this amazing bounty for my bathroom which abounds in cowboy pictures, art reminiscent of New Mexico, photos of family members with horses, my Dad’s spurs, and glass ARIZONA TEA® bottles with a Western or Native American motif.  (Fondly, I call the loo my “Louis L’Amour bathroom”.)

I’ve been waiting for a grandson to come over during his school break, to paint the above described bathroom.  But hanging the new towels set an idea moving in my patterned brain.  Wouldn’t it be fun if . . . ? 

Below, you will see the fun (and funky) outcome of that idea:

When we moved here three plus years ago, the bathroom walls were already sponged with blotches of tan.  I added life to the room by charging the walls with blotches of vibrant color, plus a few of my favorite words. 

Having (just this morning!) added these fresh patterns, I guided my husband into the bathroom while instructing him to keep his eyes shut until we were in the room with the door shut for full effect.  Even in my wildest imagination, I wasn’t prepared for Joe’s response.  He broke into an immense grin and said, “That’s BEAUTIFUL!”

Then Joe added that instead of painting my bathroom we should keep my folk artsy walls this way, with the words and colorful blotches—while using the gallon of paint we’d purchased for my loo, for painting his den instead.  The paint is BRIGHT, BRIGHT RED!  That’s the result of nearly sixty years of happy marriage! 

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

*We could only stand our generic, “socially correct” answering machine message for a very short time.  Finally we changed it to one that remains right up to this minute—and will remain:  “You have reached the LOVERS—Joe and Margaret Been.  Please leave a message, and have a great day!”

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This somewhat diluted-by-sunshine teeter totter adventure features our 4 year old great-granddaughter Brynn and me (the old one).  The reason for the photo involves another great-grandchild, 5 year old James.

Earlier in the summer when James was still 4 years old, I took him and his 2 year old sister, Lyla, to our neighborhood playground.  James saw the teeter totter and got very excited.  He ran and sat down on one end of it.  Little Lyla followed, and stood with her hand on the vacant seat—obviously wanting me to put her on it.  I joined the children, so that I could give Lyla “a leg up” as they say in horse racing.

Meanwhile, James thought I was going to get on the teeter totter myself.  His face registered shock, disbelief, and consternation—and his comment was sweet and precious, as well as hilarious.  James said, “Oh no!  You’re too old!”

Joe and I have been chuckling about James’s concern ever since.  So recently, when we went to the playground with Brynn we asked her mom to take a photo of the old grammy teeter tottering—and then to share the picture with James since he and Brynn are cousins.

Kids’ words have got to be among the funniest and/or most touching and wonderful things on earth!  I hope I’ll never be “too old” to enjoy them!  :)

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

Note:  There’s an addendum to this adventure.  Last week James came to visit again, and we went to the playground.  I decided to really impress him, by swinging on one of the swings.  Back and forth I went, pumping higher and higher—like the child in Robert Louis Stevenson’s A CHILD’S GARDEN OF VERSES.  My it was fun.  But later, I paid the piper with a spine that could scarcely move let alone straighten up.  I was gimped. 

Maybe James was right!  :)

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I’m not knocking it, Facebook that is.  Of course I like faces, and I’m very fond of friends.  But I’ve just de-activated my account on that great worldwide “hold hands around the campfire” site, because I am totally convinced that Facebook is not for me.

I joined Facebook a few weeks ago, inspired by our son Eric who said:  “Mom, you should do Facebook just to see the precious pictures of your great-grandchildren.  I love photos, and my great-grandchildren are indeed precious as well as highly photogenic—as you can see from the 4 faces (4 of 15!) pictured above. 

So I did.  I signed on—creating yet one more password based on the cuteness of Pembroke Welsh corgis.  What a shock I received when I “arrived” on Facebook and discovered a raft of individuals evidently just floating around, waiting to be my “friend”!  I knew most of these folks, and I’d really thought they already were my friends.  But then there were some I didn’t recognize.  I guess they were friends of my friends.

Over the ensuing weeks, I kept getting emails saying “So and so wants to be your friend.”  Not wishing to be offensive, I accepted these people—again, most of whom already were my friends plus some relatives who are also friends.  Trying to get in the proverbial swim, I even asked some people if they would be my friend! 

A corker was one email I received, containing a long list of unknowns who wanted to be my friend because—like me—they’d attended Colorado U. at Boulder.  I wonder if they had any idea I’d “been there, done that” way back in 1951-1952!

Then I got an email asking me if I would receive a hug from a young friend.  Now this person is very special to me, and if I were to run into her at the supermarket or anywhere else, I’d certainly give her a huge hug.  But a cyber hug?  I didn’t know how to do that.  Anyway, again being my pleasant (most of the time) self, I agreed to the hug.  I had to access Facebook to do this, and behold—I was confronted with a string of names and the caption, “Would you like to give these people hugs?”  Is that silly, or what?

One day I decided to use the Facebook facility for one purpose which is tremendously useful:  that of locating a long lost friend with whom one has completely lost touch.  I entered the name of a friend from the late 1940s and early ’50s.  This young man had been born in the USA so he was an American citizen.  But he was raised in Switzerland by his Swiss parents, and then returned to the USA during his high school years.  He had a distinctly German Swiss name.  All Joe and I knew, after last seeing him, was that he’d joined the air force during the Korean war and finally settled somewhere over the rainbow in California.

I entered the man’s first name (Hans) along with his last name (___________________) and up came a page of men with that name.  One of them was about the age that our friend Hans would be.  The Facebook Hans was pictured with his smiling wife.  Indeed it was a Germanic type face, but much different from that of the Hans I remembered.  Our Hans was tall and angular with deep set, brooding eyes.  The Facebook Hans had a full, jolly face.  He looked more like a knackwurst and beer-garden Hans.

How much can people change in 60 years?  A lot, I thought.  Maybe the smiling wife had something to do with Hans turning plump and jolly.  So I clicked the box asking Hans if he would be a friend of Margaret Been.  Somehow, I then meandered to a page where this Hans’s activities and other friends were listed.  That page was all in German, and so were all of Hans’s jolly friends. 

Ooops!  Our Hans would have been all in English.  As a young adult he’d refused to return to Switzerland to claim Swiss citizenship.  He’d chosen to be an American!  I have to grin when I think of the Teutonic Facebook Hans wondering who in the world is this American woman who wants to be his friend!  As far as I know, I never did strike up a relationship with him!

Finally, there was a place at the bottom of the page where one could click on info about more people with the name “Hans ____________________.”  I clicked, and alas.  Our Hans came up on the top of a GOOGLE page—or rather his obituary came up. 

The obit ran true down to every detail we’d known of him until we’d lost touch, and the remaining information fit.  Hans died in 2007, of a rare cancer.  The rest of my day was poignant.  I mourned the loss of a person I hadn’t seen in decades.  Circuitously Facebook had made the connection. 

After all of that, and a few more forays to see those darling great-grandchildren’s photos, it dawned on me that I simply don’t have time for Facebook—as efficacious as it may be for many people.  I see the great-grandchildren in person!  I have photos of them, given to me by their parents!  I take snapshots myself! 

Blogging and shopping comprise all the time I want to spend staring at a monitor!  So, late last night, I de-activated my account.  The screen indicated that many hearts would be broken because I was leaving.  “Your friends will miss you,”  Facebook said.  As if that were not enough to germinate a guilt trip for turning my back on all these friends, I then had to give an excuse for leaving. 

All my life I’ve taught children never to make excuses.  “Just say yes or no”, I’ve said to the little people in my life.  But that wasn’t enough for Facebook.  Facebook was so smitten with me that I had to give a reason before it would let me go!

Whew!  Now if any of you Facebook buddies happen to be reading this, PLEASE know that you are still my friend.  Email me.  Snailmail me.  Call on the phone, or just drop in!  I’ll give you a hug!  You know where I live—as well as where I went to college, etc.  Please stay in touch! 

But if you look for me on Facebook, you won’t find me—or my face.  I’m outta there!  :)

Margaret L. Been ©2011

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Our daughter, Laura, made this whiligig at a workshop near her home in Washington State.  The beauty is a composite of treasures culled from rummage and estate sales in her area.

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Those of us who enjoy junking are NEVER BORED—and we’ll probably never be tempted to go off the deep end financially with our passion for collecting, because the stuff we prefer doesn’t normally cost that much. 

The items we love best are those which many folks disregard, discard, and even look down their noses at.  These people don’t get it.  They’re missing a huge chunk of abundant living to be found in foraging garage sales, scrap yards, and curbsides!

Now that rummage season is in full swing, our joy cups run over on a regular basis—often at way less than $20.00 per outing.  We come home renewed, refreshed, and super charged with creative ideas as to where we will place, or how we will use, our newly acquired treasure.  One thing is certain:  where junkers are concerned, there are no two homes alike.  Our decor is highly individual.  It can be simulated, but never cloned!

In celebration of junk, junk, wonderful junk, here are some outdoor shots of our comfy little condo where Joe and I live contentedly with loads of junk:

↑  The small blue granite pitcher peeking out of the Hosta is mounted on an upside down lamp base from one of those derelict “Made in China” lamps which, after 2 years of use, tend to become electrically unsafe.  The base (hidden in the photo) was too pretty to discard, so I cut off its cord and glued my vintage blue pitcher on its bottom.  Behind the pitcher is a broken, circa 1930 plate.  I never discard broken china or pottery, as it can always find a pleasant home among my garden or house plants.

And observe the old watering can, complete with its “rose” on the spout.  These are pricey now, as most everyone wants an old watering can.  Fortunately, I found mine years ago.  :)

 ↑   A saxophone playing frog leans against the bird feeder, with our mutant Bleeding Heart providing a background.  Froggie was actually a new purchase, a gift from our daughter Laura. 

Note the Virginia Creeper creeping up the trellis—one of my all time favorite vines, also called Woodbine or Englemann Ivy.  It’s indestructable in our northern climate.  More damaged pottery rests on a handmade-by-Joe bench on the right as you view the photo.

↑  A closer look reveals the frog’s companions:  a bunny and a skull from the Southwest, reminiscent of artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

↑  The hangy thingy next to the hummer feeder was assembled by a local artist who has a business called FUNKY FINDS.

You can see the tops of a couple of old screens.  Screens and shutters with chipped, peeling paint are always welcome at our home—indoors or out.  One can never get enough of those!

↑  Here is our patio, right off the living room so that we savor a year ’round indoor/outdoor atmosphere.  The patio is the setting for many lazy spring, summer, and autumn days spent sipping iced tea, reading, snoozing, and cloud gazing.  The patio faces east, so that we can sun bathe in the morning and rest in the afternoon shade. 

This picture was taken in a downpour.  The card table gets covered with a lovely vintage cloth on sunny days.  It also serves as a place for my art equipment and afternoons of sketching and painting.

The smashing antique croquet set was a rummage sale treasure which cost $5.00.  It has all its mallets, balls, and arches—with an old rag tied to each arch.  We can take the croquet set up the berm to the park, just a few yards away, for killer games.

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In closing, here is one of my most precious photos of our grandsons, Nathaniel and Joelly, with their creation from a junk yard near our up north home.  Nathaniel is the driver of this unique vehicle.  I’m not sure what Joelly is doing with the stick—I think it’s a car window cleaner.  ↓

Upon all the evidence, I rest my case!  Junk is wonderful! 

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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My friend Karen and I visit a lot on the phone.  Such a nice old-fashioned means of communication!  In fact, the only communication venues that can compare with a congenial phone chat are:  a face to face visit and a real letter via USPS.  Karen and I enjoy these as well. 

Karen and I catch up on our family events, and we chat about gracious, homey things such as our gardens* and our home decor.  Both of us relish an occasional afternoon spent in antique malls on rainy days, and on the local rummage sale circuits when the weather is fair.  We collect all and everything that catches the eye, warms the heart, and can be obtained at a bargain price—and we love to share the news of our latest finds.

Yesterday Karen and I were talking about how we love to be at home—baking, scrubbing, dusting, rearranging, and creating vignettes of beauty around the home.  We never tire of our homes, and neither of us looks at homemaking as a chore, but rather a supreme privilege. 

Being a keeper at home—along with nurturing a family—is the most creative occupation on earth.  Our loved ones flourish in an environment that is relaxing, delightful, fun, and (in my case) funky.  People love to visit a home where the lady of the house is fulfilled and happy.  Words need not be spoken, as the atmosphere says it all!  Home is an artist’s canvas.  When the artist is contented the home exudes beauty, originality, and joy! 

Nearly forty years ago our son Eric—14 years old at that time—made a classic statement which makes me smile to this day.  Eric said (with the characteristic fondness that mellow sons have for their mothers), “Mom, you are such a homey simpleton!”

I realized that the statement, from Eric’s perspective, was a tremendous compliment.  He knew that I was in euphoria at home:  arranging vignettes of beauty, reading old books, watering houseplants, raising cats and dogs, baking bread, and stirring up huge pots of chili for Eric and our other children to share with their friends.

After I finished laughing about Eric’s loving apprisal all those years ago, I explained to him that a “simpleton” was the classic town idiot of folklore and fairy tales.  I still chuckle today when I think of it!  But maybe it’s no joke!  The “world” does view those of us who love to be at home as “simpletons”.

Homey simpleton indeed!  The best job description on earth!  How could anyone want to be anything else?  :)

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

*Karen is a master gardener whose gardens, in the city of Waukesha, are unlike any I’ve ever seen anywhere.  Walking through her paths is like a trip to England. 

If all goes as planned, photos of Karen’s gardens will be featured on Northern Reflections in a few weeks.  Things are just beginning to get revved up around here, gardenwise.

And finally, below you will see some of the main reasons why HOME is so wonderful!  This photo was taken at a family member’s home—but these treasures visit us a lot.  We are all at HOME at each other’s homes!  :)

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 “To be as ‘mad as a March hare’ is an English idiomatic phrase derived from the observed antics, said to occur (some say incorrectly) only in the March breeding season of the hare.  The phrase is an allusion that can be used to refer to any other animal or human who behaves in the excitable and unpredictable manner of a March hare.

“A long-held view is that the hare will behave strangely and excitedly throughout its breeding season, which in Europe is the month of March (but which in fact extends over several months beyond March).  This odd behaviour includes:  boxing at other hares, jumping vertically for seemingly no reason, and generally displaying abnormal behaviour.

“Although the phrase in general has been in continuous use since the 16th century, it was popularised in more recent times by Lewis Carroll in his book ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND which has the March Hare as one of its main characters.”  Wikipedia

Old sayings hang on forever because they are so appropriate!  Never before have I felt more like a March hare than today!  I’m not boxing at other hares and jumping vertically for seemingly no reason.  But if I could safely jump vertically, I would.

The vernal equinox, longer days, demise of mountains of snow, and recent full moon have joined forces in making this blogger feel as though she has been shot out of a cannon.  I must move cautiously or I just might display abnormal behaviour (I love the English spelling).  It would be too easy to do something I’d sorely regret, like cut my hair!

So I’ll walk circumspectly, stay away from the scissors, and stroll in the rain with Dylan.  He’s been acting a bit silly—gazing through the patio door and rumbling, when apparently there is nothing out there to rumble at.  Maybe we can find a March hare for him to box.  :) 

Margaret L. Been ©2011

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