Archive for March, 2009


The Red-Wing males have arrived, and my cup is overflowing.   The males move in first, to stake out their nesting spots.  The females come a week or two later and pick their mates.  The female chooses according to the accommodation she likes best, not the nest-mate.  

Albeit practical, that makes me smile!   If a woman were to choose the house first and then take any “bird” that went with it, we’d call her mercenary!  But maybe some human females do it that way. 

As the birds wing in, we’re getting ready to wing out in 48 hours.  Prayers are welcome, for me to be secure on my feet.  My recent airport record is not good:  a popped ACL while boarding a plane in Seattle last March, and a ripped meniscus while waiting to board in Denver last July. 

Several people have advised me to stay out of airports–but I simply refuse to get mystic.  (Also, I do not welcome unsolicited advice!)  With family members in various points west, I’ll fly–popped ligaments and torn cartilage notwithstanding. 

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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You are looking at a shot of our kitchen.  What you don’t see, because this photo was taken weeks ago, is that (at this moment) a cable runs through it.

I’ve been having Computer Daze.  A couple of weeks ago, we installed some new security software, firewall, etc. and since then my wireless is everything-less.  I can’t go online any further than the Airstream Homepage.   All additional clicks pull up a sign saying, “Internet Explorer Cannot Display This Page.”

Joe and I each have our own office/den/studio in our home.  His office is 3 rooms across the house from my studio.  Now, so that I can (hopefully) entertain you with blogs, he has strung a cable (I believe it’s called “ethernet”–but maybe I imagined that) from his router box on his pc, into a small hallway and part of the living room, down another small hall, into the kitchen, and over the partly pictured pass-through from the kitchen sink down into my computer room where I have plugged the cable into my silly little pc friend.

Something of a hassle?  Yes, but it works.  Obviously we can’t live 24/7 with this arrangement.  We would trip over the cable, and it’s not pretty–although the aqua blue color is nice. 

But I can schedule my blogging, bidding on ebay, checking email on WebMail, and pressing GOOGLE for information once or twice a week for scheduled periods.  Then I can wrap up the cable and go play outside.  Hooray! 

Do you ever look back fondly at those days when a “web” was something the spiders did, a “ram” was a Daddy Sheep, a “hard drive” was a 9 hour grind on the interstate, and “cookies” were something wonderful that came out of the oven?

I do look back, but not with regrets for where we are today.  I’ve found new friends online, and won some great collectibles and antiques on Ebay auctions.  Shopping is so much easier without driving to malls (free delivery on Barnes & Noble and Office Depot), and the instant “library” of reference material is astounding. 

So I guess I’ll keep my Computer Daze–cable and all.

P. S.  Even with the cable running through it, this may be the last entry for a spell.  We’re planning to leave next Monday for a spring vacation to the sunny West.  We’re flying out of the little city of Rhinelander, Wisconsin–to Minneapolis, and then on to Denver where our son, Karl, lives with his family. 

Meanwhile, the Canada geese are back.  Music fills the air!  🙂

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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No, the ice isn’t out yet and the cattails haven’t started to green up–but there are black streaks from the river channel, and patches of grey ice turning yellow in our bay. 

The Red-Wings have arrived “Down Under” (my name for Southern Wisconsin–with apologies to the Aussies).  Normally they land here about 2 weeks later.  (The Red-Wings, not the Aussies.)

Any minute now!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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Earlier this week I stepped outdoors on a gorgeous 40 degree day, and heard A TRAIN!  This may not seem unusual or noteworthy to some of you.  But our home is located 10 miles east of the closest railroad track.  We’ve only heard trains from our home a handful of times since we moved here in 2001–once in awhile when the wind is just right.

We sometimes see and hear a train when we go to town.  One runs through on some Sunday mornings while we’re in church, and I have to restrain myself from jumping up and shouting, “Hallelujah, praise the Lord!”  Those words may be appropriate in a worship setting, but not  because of hearing a train.

I guess you’d have to be inside my head to understand why I’m so blithery about choo choos.  I’m not even sure myself, except that many hours of my happy childhood were spent on trains.  During WWII gas was rationed and we often rode the rails.  I can shut my eyes and still hear the hiss of the steam, the chugging and clacking of the massive engine and cars, and the station master’s call, “All Abo-o-o-o-oard!”

Later I rode the Union Pacific to Colorado, where I attended CU for my freshman year.  What an adventure for my roommate and me, to board in Milwaukee and change trains in Chicago! 

Our mothers were a bit terrified at the thought of us wandering around the Chicago depot–but we were 18 years old, and somewhat level headed.  We sat up all night on the coach, paying (I think it was) 25 cents for a pillow.  At 9:00 a. m. the next day, there we were–a mile high in Denver.  Somehow we found a bus to Boulder and our university, then known as “The Play School of the Western World”. 

Over the years Joe and I have driven to Colorado many times, as we have family members there.  Interstate 80 runs close to towns in Iowa and Nebraska where freight trains still whoosh in and out.  In the beginning of these westward jaunts, my train-mania caused us to eschew the corporate America inns on the interstate in favor of bedding down in small towns–at “ma and pa” motels nestled beside a railroad track. 

At these quaint establishments Joe slept through everything, while I woke frequently and thrilled to the clackety-clack and whoo-whoo of a train sounding like it was rushing through our room.  Finally, however, we gave up on the town motels–finding some of them to be tacky.  Atmosphere, YES.  But we also like CLEAN!

Two of our grandsons went through a heavy duty train stage when they were 3 and 4 years old.  What delightful years!  We went to train museums. read books about trains (Thomas and Company), and played with trains.  Now Tyler is almost 16 and Nathaniel is 12.  They’ve outgrown trains.  I never will. 

What does the sound of a train do for me?  I hesitate to use the term “altered state of consciousness” because that has New Age overtones.  Rapt euphoria is probably the best description of my mental state upon hearing the venerable chugs and whistles. 

It happens once in awhile when the wind is just right.  🙂

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

Note:  the charming graphic is courtesy of http://Karenswhimsy.com/

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The two circa 1967 flower children happen to be our son Karl (as he used to say, “bare topping”) and his lifelong friend John (the one with the T-shirt).  I guess I’ll have to tell these guys, now in their 40s, that one of their childhood Kodak moments is on “Candid Internet”.

For years this shot (which would delight any mother’s heart) was accessible only when blown up on a screen (or white sheet) from a slide projector.  But recently my husband scanned a plethora of slides from our children’s tender years into his computer. 

From there the slides-turned-prints went on a memory stick, and now they are also on my computer.  A whole new era of family photos has been unleashed–as I’m printing these out on glossy photo paper in preparation for sticking them into albums.  Making prints is fun, especially when you live where there are 5 or 6 months of winter. 

We have stacks of photo albums starting with those containing early family snapshots taken with an ancient Brownie camera.  The Brownie snaps sufficed until the 1960s when suddenly slides were the thing.

Now the slide gap has been spanned, as explained above.  After slides, came the years from 1972 through 2006 when I went through 2 Minolta automatic 35mm cameras, and took enough snapshots to paper the walls and ceilings of a 500 room castle.  (I love hyperbole, don’t you?)

Our early photo albums were primitive and drab:  simply photos glued in military precision on black paper–not acid-free.  We’d never heard of “acid free” in those days.

The last 6 albums, created since 2000, are unique Creative Memory productions.  I use whatever I can get my hands on:  wrapping paper, Dover Publications’ books of William Morris patterns and Scottish tartans, English country-patterned fabric, lace, yarn, faded pages from old cookbooks blotchy with stuck-on cookie ingredients, wallpaper cutouts from leftover rolls of Victorian rose prints, concert and graduation programs, news clippings, etc. as background for not only the photos but theatre stubs, invitations to wedding and baby showers, greeting cards, assorted Victorian scrap, stickers of “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” plus old-fashioned dogs dressed up like lords and ladies, personal bits of art, poems and quotes from favorite authors, and plenty more. 

Each page is a world in itself:  a great adventure of color and pizzazz, a let-it-all-hang-out experiment in aesthetic funk.  Items are collaged every which way.  No more boring military precision.

Needless to say, the albums are a joy to make.  But I’ll never catch up.  Although all of our family members are represented in the albums–even the great-grandchildren–only a teeny amount of existing photos have made it from boxes to books.  Snapshots not only overflow from cartons on shelves and in closets, but multitudes are also packed in a huge cedar chest. 

Sometimes I view the boxes and feel just a wee bit overwhelmed.  No matter how diligently I work on albums (and I do enjoy making them) there are always thousands of photos patiently waiting.  Of course I don’t need to use them all.  Who needs 5 pages of donkeys in Custer State Park?  I can focus on the donkey pictures which include grandchildren.  

Most of the time I happily plug away whenever the spirit moves me to spend a day scrapping over albums and building pages for posterity.  I’m thankful that we have a huge family.  I hope someone will continue assembling the memories after I’m gone! 

Meanwhile, the point is not to get finished but rather to enjoy the process.  The only finished work on earth is what Jesus did!  🙂

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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