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Bee

Long time, no blog!  From April till way into Autumn, my heart is outdoors.  But that has never kept me from writing before.  This summer has been different—perhaps one of the loveliest summers ever.  With the exception of an occasional entry on my art blog, journaling, letter writing, and jotting Bible study notes, I decided to take a vacation from writing.

Now our white hydrangeas/turning pink are at full tilt and awash with beautiful bees. So much to love about summer!  Six years ago to this very day (Saturday August 29th, 2009) our son Eric and grandsons Joshua, Adam, Jason, and Jeff (grandson-in-law, but a true grandson indeed!) loaded a large U-Haul, our family business truck, and a some vans with our belongings.  We were moving from our up-north “permanent” home of eight years to Southeastern Wisconsin where we’d originally lived for decades and where much of our family has lived and still does.

The banter between our family moving helpers was hilarious.  They did a perfect job with no damage to our furniture or the walls of the home we were leaving—and most importantly, with no damage to my precious piano.  The day was pleasant and memorable.  But please forgive me for using a cliché:  My heart was in my throat.  We were abandoning the place we’d thought we’d live “forever”.

Two months earlier Joe had suffered serious health complications which immediately mandated the change of locale in order to be close to family and easily-accessed excellent medical care.  In late June we’d walked into our present condo home for the first time.  We placed a down payment on the condo after twenty minutes of inspection.  So July and August of 2009 were filled with packing.  Anyone who knows our lifestyle understands that the packing was a piece of work!

Over those weeks I consistently walked Dylan (corgi) on a leash so that he’d make the transition from running freely around fourteen plus acres to being a proper condo dog who wouldn’t be a nuisance to neighbors.  As I walked our wild woodsy trails, I wondered:  How will I be able to get along without all this? 

Yes, we’d be surrounded by beloved family.  I had missed the family between visits.  Down in Southeastern Wisconsin the great-grandchildren were coming pop/pop/pop like popcorn.  Joe and I love and enjoy the little people.  I certainly understood that children are more special than bears and wolves.  But . . . . ?

Nonetheless—after two months of packing, walking, and wondering—that moment of departure six years ago was amazingly pain-free.  Weary as Joe and I were from the process of moving on short notice, we experienced a mutual, growing sense of excitement; it occurred to both of us that we were coming home!

And we came home to boundless blessings.  Family!  Long time friends!  A carefree four room, ground floor condo—just right for our time of life.  Several gardens to tend and love—ours and those of neighbors who don’t want to bother with gardening.  And trains frequently roaring back and forth on the busiest track in the area—from Milwaukee west to the Rockies and north to Canada.  My passion for the sight and sound of trains is no secret to anyone who knows us.

What have I learned in the last six years?  More than I can squeeze into a blog.  But for starters:

  1. People in their “mature” years, do not need a large home.  Compact and cozy are delightful adjectives.  I enjoy cramming lots of stuff into small spaces, and I love the task of efficient organizing.
  2. It is very nice to have garbage collection at our garage door.  Up north we took our garbage to the  dump—a fun experience but not when it was twenty below zero!
  3. It is wonderful to have snow removal.  Joe did that himself up north, with a snow blower.  It took two hours or more, to clear the driveways at the two houses there—the one we lived in and the guest house we had built up the hill.  Now on a blizzardy winter morning we awaken and savor our coffee to the scrape/scrape of plows on our lane and shovels on the walkways.
  4. Here is a vital lesson:  One does not need to own land, to enjoy it.  We have a lovely community park over the berm outside our courtyard, and a woods and prairie preserve with foot trails beyond the park.  These fulfill my hunger for natural beauty.
  5. In the last six years, health challenges have become the norm for Joe and me.  These challenges are Holy Ground.  Always, I experience God’s “peace that passes understanding” .  With the Lord Jesus in my heart and life, every day is Holy Ground.  But health issues—Joe’s emergencies and my chronic concerns—are a showcase of God’s Grace.  Some friends understand this, but others simply do not.  The “others” are those who say things like “Oh you poor thing!”  When I hear that I want to scream, but I try to stay calm.  My answer is, “In Christ we are never a ‘poor thing’. We are “more than conquerors.”  Holy Ground!
  6. No home on earth is “forever”.  Although I love where we are, and I am totally contented and grateful, I anticipate with profound excitement that final “move”—right into the presence of my Lord Jesus!*

Six years in retrospect.  Understandably, I sometimes think of “up north”—especially when strolling outdoors after dark.  Here, twenty-five miles west of Milwaukee, we have a moon and sometimes part of the Big Dipper in the night sky, and rarely much more than that.  I recall many evenings of sitting on our lake-facing porch up north, enthralled by millions of stars:  so many that there was more starlight than black space between.  The stars reflected on the lake so that the entire expanse—Heaven and the water below—was one huge lit-up sky.

But happily now, six years later, we sit in the front row at church, surrounded by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  They are my stars!  :)

Margaret L. Been—August 29, 2015

*Nearly every day I reflect on a family story I first heard when I was a very little girl.  My great-grandfather had been bed-ridden and unresponsive for days—surrounded by family members during his slow process of dying.  Then suddenly one day he sat bolt upright in bed.  His face was glowing as he loudly exclaimed, “Oh Glory, Glory!”

Immediately after that, Great-Grandfather Longenecker moved to his final, glorious HOME!

Revolution!

My Great-Great Grandfather on my Mother’s side was named after one of ancient history’s wealthiest men, but Solomon Soper left a humble legacy:  $50.00 to each of his four minor heirs.  Actually that may have been a substantial inheritance back in 1843 when Mr. Soper died—but obviously not a fortune.

I have difficulty reading the photocopy of Solomon’s personal goods listed in his will which I received from the Illinois Regional Archives Depository in Springfield, Illinois.  Here are the items I can read:  1 two-horse wagon, 1 chopping ax, 1 iron wedge (or widge), 1 pot, 1 tea kettle, 1 pan, 1 pail, 1 pitcher, 1 plate, 2 mugs, 1 saddle/’bridle/reins, 1 tin box, 1 bed and bedding, 1 bag, 1 smoothing iron, 37 bushels corn, 1 curry comb—and that is all I can decipher.

The ancestor splurge has been triggered because I’m in the process of joining the Daughters of the American Revolution.  I’ve been asked why in the world would I want to do that—and the question has been posed with an underlying inference that maybe I’m some kind of a snob.  Well, my Revolutionary ancestor was a Private in the Continental Army, so I’m not exactly descended from General George Washington.

Since my Mother and Maternal Grandmother were members of the D.A.R., joining that organization has often come to mind.  So when our Granddaughter, Nancy in L. A., decided to join, both her Mom (our Daughter, Laura in Washington State) and I agreed it would be fun.

Along with the family connection the D.A.R. has appealed to me for it’s traditional stand on patriotism and the importance of our U. S. Constitution—both of which have been egregiously undermined by President Obama and his minions.  Rather than grousing while watching the news (or maybe along with grousing!) I want to be involved in some tangible activity that reflects my values.  Currently the D.A.R. sponsors projects and fund raisers to benefit our veterans—and that suits me just fine.

You may be wondering why, with a Mom and Grandma who were D.A.R. members (and I have the provenance of their membership cards) wouldn’t that suffice to let Nancy, Laura, and me into the group?  Well apparently there is a current rash of applicants due to the ease of online ancestry searches—and some of the claims are invalid.  Our Registrars–West Coast and Wisconsin—are leaving no stone unturned in order to connect the dots in our lineage.  (Please forgive those two clichés.  Yikes!)

So I have journeyed back four generations to get Solomon Soper’s will.  Solomon married Phoebe Wood—the granddaughter of Private Ebenezer Wood.  Solomon and Phoebe’s daughter, Electa Lusetta Soper, married Reverend Daniel Alexander Campbell—a Scottish descendent Yankee who pastored the First Congregational Church (really the first!) at Pine River, Wisconsin.  These were the parents of my Grandma Kate—a woman whom I’ll always revere for her Scottish backbone, and especially for her love for the Lord.

Meanwhile, I’m touched by the list of Solomon’s goods—truly a litany of basic things. I have far more than 1 plate, 2 mugs, etc.  But I have no reason whatsoever to be a snob!  Solomon’s will reminds me of that!

Margaret L. Been, April 2015

 Where sheep may safely graze 2

“Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . . . But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray.  We have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  Isaiah 53: 4a, 5-6

“But unto you that fear My name, shall the Sun of righteousness rise with healing in His wings . . . .”  Malachi  2:3a 

“But God who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved):  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”  Ephesians 2:4-7

“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.”  Colossians 3:3-4

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Have a beautiful Resurrection Day!

Winter Breakup.jpg 2  “To think to know the country and not know

    The hillside on the day the sun lets go 

    Ten thousand lizards out of snow!”  Robert Frost, A Hillside Thaw

Although I admit to sometimes dreaming about warm, sunny places during our long Northern winters, I would not chose to trade my home locale with anyone—anywhere, anytime (except for an occasional week or two in New Mexico).

I truly wonder if friends who live in warm places ever experience springtime euphoria—that crazy, headlong, potentially mindless and blithery joy known as SPRING FEVER, when poetry floods one’s soul!  Perhaps that euphoria is common in four season climates around the world.  Certainly in the USA, where April has been designated as NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

Anticipating April, while loving every remaining moment of tumultuous Wisconsin March, here are some snatches of poems from kindred souls—in addition to the above lines from one of my most beloved kindred spirit poets, Robert Frost.  Also I’ll plug in some of my watercolor renderings.  The marriage of a poem and a painting is called Ekphrasis.

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“The Skies can’t keep their secret!

They tell it to the Hills –

The hills just tell the Orchards –

And they – the Daffodils!”  Emily Dickinson, #191

Traces 2

“I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore . . . .” 

William Butler Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innesfree

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“Now as I was young and easy under the apple bough

About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green . . . .”

Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill

. . . the dawn's early light

“O April, full of breath, have pity on us!

Pale where the winter like a stone has been lifted away, we

        emerge like yellow grass.

Be for a moment quiet, buffet us not, have pity on us,

Till the green come back into the vein, till the giddiness pass.” 

Edna St. Vincent Millay, Northern April

From Seed

These are only a whisper of the many poems and poets whom I read again and again—immersed in the introspections, nuances, innuendoes, and life metaphors gleaned from a sensitivity to the turning of the year.  I believe that sensitivity is shared by most poetic four-season souls!

Margaret L. Been, Spring 2015

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Watch for another “Perfect Storm”, Katrina, earthquake, or whatever—especially if Kerry signs on with Iran and Obama seeks UN pressure to fall on the only humane, democratic nation in the Middle East:  Israel. I normally don’t go out on a prophetic limb, at least publicly, but I can safely stand on Scripture.  God repeatedly asserts in His Word that the Jews are the “Apple of His Eye”—and He will deal with nations that oppose Israel.

For detailed documentation you can read John McTernan’s book:  AS AMERICA HAS DONE TO ISRAEL.  This author is only one of many who have researched American disasters coinciding (but not coincidental) with feckless policies which have undermined and depleted Israel and compromised God’s people, the Jews.  A Google foray will confirm and elucidate McTernan’s findings. Meanwhile, I am praising God for Bibi Netanyahu and the Israeli people’s good sense represented in their recent election.

If anyone doubts that the Jewish people are unique—and if their continued existence after many centuries of dispersion and persecution coupled with the 1948 return to Israel fails to convince—I recommend searching on Amazon for Iddo Netanyahu’s  ENTEBBE:  A Defining Moment in the War on Terrorism. The author is Bibi’s younger brother.  Iddo’s suspense packed book documents the July 4th, 1976 raid—led by the oldest of the three Netanyahu brothers, Jonathan (Yoni)— which freed more than 100 Jewish hostages plus faithful crew members of Air France from the Entebbe, Uganda airport. (Non-Jewish passengers had been released by the terrorists, but the pilot and other crew members opted to stay with the unfortunate captives.)

Yoni Netanyahu was the only Israeli death casualty in that incredible raid.  Modern weaponry and tactics notwithstanding, the account leaped right out of the Old Testament book of Joshua as I read non-stop into the night.  Equally riveting and poignant is the DVD, FOLLOW ME:  The Yoni Netanyahu Story.  From this presentation, along with chronicling Entebbe the viewer is treated to insights concerning the remarkable Netanyahu family. I fail to understand how anyone alive today, especially anyone who remembers WWII, can help but love Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu.  Only one other statesman in my lifetime parallels the Israeli Prime Minister, and of course that would be Britain’s Winston Churchill.

Margaret L. Been, March 2015

Short Memories

A large crowd on an airfield; British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain presents an assurance from German Chancellor Adolf Hitler.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain holds the paper signed by both Hitler and himself on his return from Munich to England, on September 20th, 1938.  Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Here is part of the text of Prime Minister Chamberlain’s speech upon return
“We, the German Fuhrer and Chancellor, and the British Prime Minister, have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe. We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe. My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor.  I believe it is “peace for our time.” Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”
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A little less than a year later, Germany invaded Poland.  In May of 1940 Hitler invaded Holland, France, Luxembourg, and Belgium.  Then September 7, 1940 marked the beginning of the “blitz”.  Here are excerpts from the Wikipedia account:

Starting on 7 September 1940, London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 57 consecutive nights. More than one million London houses were destroyed or damaged, and more than 40,000 civilians were killed, almost half of them in London.  Ports and industrial centres outside London were also heavily attacked. The major Atlantic sea port of Liverpool was also heavily bombed, causing nearly 4,000 deaths within the Merseyside area during the war.  The North Sea port of Hull, a convenient and easily found primary and secondary target for bombers unable to locate their primary targets, was subjected to 86 raids within the city boundaries during the war, with a conservative estimate of 1200 civilians killed and 95% of its housing stock destroyed or damaged.  Other ports including Bristol, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Southampton, and Swansea were also targeted, as were the industrial cities of Birmingham, Belfast, Coventry, Glasgow, Manchester and Sheffield.  Birmingham and Coventry were heavily targeted because of the Spitfire and tank factories in Birmingham and the many munitions factories in Coventry; the city centre of Coventry was almost completely destroyed.

Ironic words, “. . . a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor . . . .”  It would be a long time before millions in Britain and across Europe would have a nice quiet sleep.

Our President and his minions are looking for a piece of paper to bring “peace with honor.”  Meanwhile one of the few honorable statesmen of our day, Bibi Netanyahu, will address Congress on March 3rd.  From proximity to barbarism comparable to that of Nazi Germany, from an understanding gleaned from two-thousand years of persecution, Prime Minister Netanyahu will warn Congress and our nation of the palpable threat to Israel and the entire world.

Whether clueless or unabashedly evil, our arrogant and self-serving President of the United States of America (along with a disgustingly substantial representation of Congress) will be missing Netanyahu’s speech, and also missing any kind of reaching out to the Israeli Prime Minister.

And our aging Hippie Secretary of State—who outlandishly took a guitar folk singer to Paris (can you imagine anything so crass?) to cheer the French people in the wake of unleashed terror in Paris—is currently overseas working on that illustriously misguided, inane, and meaningless piece of paper.

Either Obama and his White House minions (who either love him or are too chicken to blow the whistle on him) and Secretary of State Kerry never studied world history, or they have very short memories!

Margaret L. Been—March 2nd, 2015

NOTE:  For an astute treatment of the above and a lot more, please GOOGLE “Kingsjester’s Blog” . . opinions from a Christian American.  We are not alone in our observations and concerns!

 
 

Serendipity

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Who can deny that some of life’s most memorable events are spontaneous—those unplanned occasions which we would not have dreamed up in a million years?  Such was a recent serendipitous party in our home, with our granddaughter Leah and her four children.

They dropped in at 3:45 p. m. on the way home after Leah had gathered up the older children at school, to pick up (now 10 year old) Olivia’s birthday gift.  There was no question in my mind, that the visit would be short.  Leah puts in long hours with her family, with helping out at the children’s school—plus riding shotgun on her very endearing but rambunctious 3 year old, Carter.  Still ahead in a long day for this sweet family was a 25 minute ride home, dinner for the children and Daddy Jeff who would soon be at home waiting, and then all the evening rituals—homework, baths, bedtime stories, etc.  (After all these years, I still remember when!)

Olivia’s birthday gift was a St. Vinnee’s mint condition treasure:  a cookbook with 175 recipes for cookies made with cake mixes.  How fun for a 10 year old girl!  And, as it turned out, fun for an 83 year old great-grandpa—my Joe!

Joe was almost as enthusiastic about the cook book as Olivia was.  Right there on the spot he announced, “We are going to make peanut butter cookies NOW!  Although not a gambling woman, I would safely put money on the hunch that Leah’s reaction and mine were in sync.  Yikes!  Late in the day.  Tired.  And, in the beautiful words of poet Robert Frost, “. . . miles to go before I sleep.”

But both Leah and I realized that a spur of the moment cookie party would provide a signature memory for the children—and adults as well.  So into the kitchen went Joe, Olivia, and younger sister, Brynn (in red) who likes to be in the center of any action.

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Over the years, Joe has focused on being a wonderful Husband, Dad, Grandpa, and now Great-Grandpa.  He has cared for us diligently and lovingly.  While he has worked hard at bread-earning, I naturally have tended the affairs of the kitchen.  Joe is very adept at some kitchen jobs.  He makes coffee, measures the carbs in his breakfast cereal (he is diabetic so carbs matter), makes wonderful peanut butter and jam sandwiches, mixes a fantastic soy milk chai for me every night, micro-waves soup or left-over dinners, and sometimes creates yummy Swedish meatballs.

But baking?  The mad search for utensils amid requests of “Where’s this, where’s that?” was too humorous.  We no longer have a gargantuan Kitchen Aid mixer on the counter; all cakes are mixed with a 5-speed hand blender which hides in a  round-about cupboard between assignments.  All dry ingredients live in decorative tins scattered hither and thither; I automatically memorize the contents by the designs on the tins—but since Joe normally has no need for stowed dry ingredients, he has not learned the code.

Thus Joe looked to the dining room table for the small amount of sugar needed in the recipe.  I just happened to wander into the kitchen a split second before he dumped Sweet and Low into the mix—thinking it was real sugar.  I have Sweet and Low in a sugar bowl on our table, for our daughter Judy’s coffee.  How was Joe supposed to know it wasn’t the real thing?

Understandably Joe had not thought of the fact that cookies take a bit of time to prepare, given the rolling of balls—and in the peanut butter cookie instance, criss-crossing with a fork.  Upon my mentioning that the old, battle-seasoned cookie sheets would need a covering of oil, I again forayed into the kitchen just as a pan of cookies was oven-ready—and the raw cookies were swimming in olive oil.

Joe is amazingly proficient at cleaning up as he goes; for this reason I never shudder when he does KP.  In college he earned his meals as a “Pot and Pan” boy, and to this day he loves the challenge of washing up.

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While history was being made in the kitchen, Leah and the boys—Lucas and Carter—played a game at the living room coffee table.

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Well, no one can make cookies without immediately testing them to make sure they are “fit to eat”.  So we are right back to the first photo:

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The coffee table was cleared for a party with cookies and milk.  Delicious!  And thanks to a wonderfully imaginative Great-Grandpa, a good time was had by all.  Joe has always been loaded for fun.  That’s one of the countless reasons why I love him!

Serendipity!

Margaret L. Been, February 2015

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