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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

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“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

Homeward Bound--1

“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

Treasure the Moment!

Leo 7 monthAlicia's wonderlandThree preciesrecent workIF

There is no room for naivité in today’s world.  All I can do in light of the barrage of news we receive is to go on preserving and treasuring the world I’ve always known.  Indeed, my insular world may last only a moment—so I treasure each moment as a gift from God.

Beyond a series of moments on earth lies an eternity of joy for the Christian believer.  Meanwhile my precarious earth moments are filled with prayers, family, friends, a corgi, music, paintbrushes, knitting needles and yarn, spinning wheels, gardens indoors and out, poetry, books/books/books, antiques, junk, never ending batches of soap from our kitchen, and a whole lot more.

A common thread connects the moments: BEAUTY.  I know I’m not alone in determining to pursue and celebrate Beauty—and to TREASURE THE MOMENT!

Margaret Been, February 2015

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Baby D again

Again Sweet Mia

knitters

Daane Boys

IF

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Leeds Castle Stock Photo

Just when we are finally putting our feet up—unwinding from the joyous but exhausting round of Christmas season activities—the Brits grab us, lock us up, and throw away the key!  We are captured, captivated, and incarcerated in DOWNTON ABBEY and its cast of characters.

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So why is Carson so caustically snide to Mosely who happens to be one of the nicest guys aboard?  Will Mary ever make up her mind?  Personally, Lord Gillingham bugs me.  Kind of a slime-ball!  I think Mary’s brother-in-law, Tom, is her soul mate!  And why is Mary so snotty to her sister, Edith?

Cora is acting very silly; maybe she’s menopausal!  You know, the mid-life crisis thing.  I certainly hope Cora doesn’t make a cuckold out of her well-meaning husband?  Unfortunately, things like that sometimes happen “as the world turns”.  And Thomas Barrow?  For years I’ve detested him.  Now I’m beginning to feel sorry for him!  I wish I could hand him a Gospel Tract!

Anna and Bates have been making me cry ever since I first met them.  So sweet, but so dreadfully vulnerable!  My husband, Joe, is turned off by the Russians.  He doesn’t care for aristocracy—especially the former Russian style.  Every week we review how awful life was for common folk under the Czars.  It definitely was!  But Lenin and Stalin didn’t make matters any better!  The charitable Rose’s immigrants have lost their homeland and some of their family members!  And they have holes in their shoes!  

Sarah Bunting may be the most obnoxious individual I’ve ever encountered!  What an arrogant jerk!  She inappropriately wheedled Tom into a tour of the castle when the family was in London.  And her holier-than-thou pontifications at dinner!  Never mind that I agree with her views!  If only she had some sensitivity and tact!  Miss Bunting deserved to get reamed out by Lord Grantham and it remains to be seen if she can become even remotely caring for anyone other than herself and her ideas.  (She reminds me of an arrogant individual way up at the top of our U. S. government!)

But Edith!  She is where I melt down!  She’s been denigrated by her sister, Too Pretty Mary, from Day One.  Edith has matured from a rather irritating, thoughtless young person into a graciously beautiful woman with profound inner strength and a great capacity for loving and giving.

I’m sorry about Michael* and the Brown Shirts.  Horrendous times are coming!  Meanwhile, if Edith doesn’t get to claim Marigold as her very own little treasure, and raise this child with the family’s blessing—yes, even with Mary’s blessing—I think I might scream!  “As the world turns!”

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Now isn’t that the grand purpose of literature be it poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or drama?  To plumb the human soul— absorbing the reader or viewer to think, analyze, identify, take sides, process, and feel?  When captivated by a novel or drama to the point of considerable pondering and getting into the skin of the characters, we grow inside!  Finally the story ends, but our life story continues.

For centuries the English have produced the finest contributions to Western Civilization in the form of poetry, fiction, and drama—whether classic**, hilariously satirical (case in point: the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan), popular, and/or just plain fun.  What a legacy!  I’m delighted that the Brits have incarcerated me in DOWNTON ABBEY, and  I don’t even mind that they threw away the key!  :)

NOTE:  A friend, Linda (alias “Sunshine”) has reminded me in her comment:  “What about the dowager?”.  Yes, Maggie Smith is one of those cinema “absolute GREATS“!

Margaret L. Been . . .  January 27th, 2015

*I have a Hollywood-type dream resolution for Edith:  that Michael never had an insane wife, or any wife for that matter:  that the wife story was a cover-up, and Michael really went to Germany as a spy for the British MI6.  Maybe it’s not only Hollywood indoctrination from the 1940s which makes me hopeful that Michael will return to Edith and Marigold.  After all, Jane Austen’s novels have happy endings!

**Consistently, DOWNTON ABBEY has reminded me of a beloved series of novels—the three trilogies by John Galsworthy:  FORSYTE SAGA, A MODERN COMEDY, and THE END OF THE CHAPTER.  These masterfully crafted novels trace the history of a family—not of landed nobility but rather of England’s professional and commercial Capitalist class which came in on the tide of the Industrial Revolution.  Galsworthy’s fiction deals with changes in English society from approximately 1886 to 1930, and his characters are unforgettable.

NOTE:  The above graphic, Leeds Castle, was culled from a royalty free castle website.  The DOWNTON ABBEY sites did not appear to have any Free Royalty Free images—at least that I could find.  So this will do.  MB

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In a good week I have four or five of them:  piano days.  I never sit down to play without thinking of childhood.  How pleased my mother would be with this daughter who, when young, preferred to putter in the shallow creek at the base of our property (crunching on ice floes in winter and catching pollywogs in the summer) to the discipline of piano and violin.  Yet practice I did, many hours per week.  Mom gave me no alternatives.  I had to do a couple of hours of music before messing about in the river.  Mother was passionate about music.  She was a classical pianist, and sat me down at a piano long before I can remember.  At age eight I began my 10 year stint of violin lessons.  I thank Mom for her music passion.  Throughout adulthood, music (especially vocal and piano) has been one of my passions as well.

Mother was unique—so different from some Moms, and how I praise the Lord for that!  Now and then I was allowed in the kitchen to make chocolate chip cookies.  After every meal I helped with the clean up; Mother washed the dishes and I dried them and put them away.  (That was special bonding time.)  But I NEVER cooked a meal.  I picked up a few tips from kitchen observation, but I was not taught to cook.  Mom’s famous words were:  “Soon enough you will grow up and have to cook, and since you can read you’ll be able to manage!  Anyone can cook!” 

I was taught to work.  I had to clean the bathrooms and do the ironing (both of which I absolutely love to this day).  But Mom was the cook.  We frequently had company for dinner and my job—my wonderful job!—was to get out the silver, china, and stemware, and set a beautiful table.  The centerpiece was my domain; I had free reign to arrange flowers, candles, and whatever else I could dream up.  Even when there were only the four of us at the table—my parents, my sister, and me—I dressed the table and took enormous pride in the job.  I still do!  My mother wanted me to invest time in reading, knitting, stitching, and doing other creative things along with the music—rather than cooking.

Obviously, as a wife and mother of six children, I did end up doing a lot of cooking and baking over the years!  My mother was wise.  She schooled me in the even more vital, life energizing creative things that bring grace, beauty, and elegance to those chores we have to do in the midst of life’s inevitable challenges.

I’m eternally grateful for both of my parents, and the older I get the more I think of them.  My father traveled frequently because the company he worked for (Lauson Motors in New Holstein Wisconsin/the company eventually became Tecumseh) was knee deep in wartime production.  But when Dad was home, he was my Dad!  He frequently came home with the gift of a book for me, and he always wanted to read whatever I had been writing.  The greatest boost I can recall was when, at age 11, I showed Dad an essay I’d written for a school assignment.  Dad read the text carefully, and said:  “You really think thoughts!”

I could go on forever and bore you readers to distraction about my delightful life, but I won’t.  I hope to stop short of causing abject ennuni!  Meanwhile, much as I have always thought New Year’s resolutions to be rather silly, I have set a goal for the coming year:

To constantly evoke a rather maudlin, corny old Bing Crosby tune the lyrics of which went:  “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative . . . “.  Not that I subscribe to “the power of positive thinking”.  Mankind is fallen, and without intervention of the life of Jesus Christ we are lost.  The power of positive thinking is hogwash.  I cannot eliminate ISIS by thinking.  We cannot change our nation, by just thinking; we must pray and WORK—and then only God’s Spirit will make a difference!  Just “thinking” will never deal with the horrendous world issues which our clueless, muddleheaded, and/or downright evil President refuses to acknowledge.

Only God can change the world, and eventually He will—as He has promised through ages of Old Testament prophecy confirmed by the Lord Jesus in the Gospels, as well as in the New Testament Epistles!  Meanwhile, as I pray and live as the Lord leads, I can—as old Bing crooned—“Accentuate the positive”.

Here is an example:  rather than continuing to spout off about Obama’s idiotic State of the Union address, or grousing about the Packers’ failure to complete their great start against the Seahawks last Sunday I can (and am!) robustly cheering Speaker John Boehner for his classic End Run around our President, by inviting Benjamin Netanyahu to address The House of Representatives on the threats of Iran and Islamic terrorism.  Clearly, the Seahawks—even Obama’s speech—fade into the back of my mind, next to Boehner’s Play of the Week—maybe the play of the year!

To summarize, my goal is to continually and faithfully focus on and publish good news.  But specifically, what do all these musings have to do with a piano day?  Simply this:  On my piano days I begin by struggling over the few Chopin nocturnes I can even dream of playing, adding some easier classics such as George Winston’s arrangement of Pachelbel’s beloved Kanon, lightening up with a Scott Joplin rag or two, and ending with my treasured book of Gospel hymns including Amazing Grace. 

AMAZING GRACE!  Forty four years ago almost to this very day, I was catapulted in the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  It was a bitter cold day in January of 1971 when I entered the Kingdom.  The sun pounding down on the pristine banks of snow was so bright, so exquisite, so unspeakably and amazingly beautiful that I still experience a flush of joy when I think of it.  And every time I play Amazing Grace, the wonder, brilliance, and joy of that day is new—all over again!

Salvation and eternal life in Christ.  That is the “positive” to accentuate, the Good News which tops all else—yes, even John Boehner’s Fabulous End Run around our misguided, muddleheaded, and possibly (quite probably!) evil President!  :)

Margaret L. Been—January 22, 2015

Note:  Here is an aside:  my pick from the cast of GOP contenders for nomination is Dr. Ben Carson.  Someone new, someone non-political, someone with real straight arrow values—although others in the list, including our own Governor Scott Walker, project straight values as well.

In his book, ONE NATION, Dr. Carson begins by demonstrating how “political correctness” has undermined our nation, as it is literally killing freedom of speech and promoting dishonesty at many levels.  I can accentuate the fact that I positively agree 

Dr. Carson is outspokenly Biblical in his views on the sins of abortion and homosexuality.  He is not afraid to quote Scriptural references, and point to God’s Word as the ultimate authority.  Coming from a distinguished man of science, this is especially refreshing!

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