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Archive for August, 2011

September 2011 marks the third anniversary of my online writing adventure.  Northern Reflections began when we lived up north by the above-pictured wild woods and water.  Shortly after that, I added God’s Word is True, Grace with Salt, and Riches in Glory.  A year later Joe and I moved to the (not-so-wild) woods and water of Southern Wisconsin and I added Northernview (now The Messy Palette) to the mix.

Obviously, Northern Reflections leads the pack in number of readers.  God’s Word Is True and Grace with Salt are close to each other in numbers of viewers, amounting to second and third place respectively.  Riches in Glory comes next, followed by the “new kid on the block” Northernview/alias The Messy Palette.

It’s fun to go back to square one and view the search terms used to access these sites.  The stats show which entries are most frequently read.  Blogging is rewarding for me as a free lance writer, because things I wrote online many months ago are still being read. 

Communication is my whole purpose for writing!  For many years I wrote articles and essays for magazines and newspapers—not nearly so satisfying as web writing because:  1)  When writing for publications, I never knew if anyone actually read my published pieces—feedback was rare; 2)  Magazines and newpapers get discarded, whereas cyberspace writing lingers on!  Writers have to LOVE this technology!  🙂

Here are the topics most frequently accessed, per search terms, on my blogs. 

1)  Northern Reflections:  Life before Antibiotics, Polio and Dr. Salk, English Country Decor, Flea Markets and Garage Sales, Edith Schaeffer, Circus Lore and Circus Topics, Decorating with Junk, and Joyce Kilmer’s Poem about Trees.   2)  God’s Word Is True:  “Converge Worldwide”, Purpose Driven Apostasy, The Emergent Church, Israel/God’s Chosen, and Psalm 23.  3)  Grace with Salt:  Scriptures about Forgetting, Scriptures about Pressing On, Dealing with Toxic Relationships, and Dealing with Verbal Abuse.  4)  Riches in Glory:   Most People Don’t Understand Chronic Illness and Pain, Invisible Illness, Introverts and Extroverts, and (this one cracks me up!) Humphrey Bogart Smoking.  5)  Northernview/The Messy Palette:  English Country Gardens, Garden Junk, and Soap.

What a great adventure!  I enjoy the contacts I make through my sites—the responses from family members and friends, and comments received from new kindred-spirited friends as well.  WordPress is a fantastic web host!  The support people are ever-ready, and have helped me wade through a lot of my cyber confusion. 

Thank you, readers—and thank you, WordPress! 

©2011, Margaret L. Been

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One of the many advantages of living outside of cities is the ever-present panorama of sky.  At our northern home, we had sky over water.  Now, in Southern Wisconsin, we view the sky over a park and nature preserve.

This has been an odd summer around here, in that the really warm (sometimes HOT!) weather did not set in until July.  Everything is different from last summer.  Perennials which were mushrooming and spreading in May, 2010 never even made themselves known this summer until mid June.  

Consequently, the obvious harbingers of autumn are late in appearing.  Our neighorhood wild prairie has yet to flash in the sun with goldenrod; coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and Queen Anne’s lace still flourish there.  The sumac along the park path barely hints at the glory it will soon display, whereas in most years the turning sumac leaves provide an early sign of change.

The cardinals still “cheer-cheer”, cheering my heart in the process.  Mourning doves still mourn their poignant “oooo-oooo-oooooo”, reminding me of catapulting years of mourning doves—since I was a small child, first thrilling to their threnody.  Every evening at dusk, a flock of sparrows roosts in the tree outside our bedroom window.  They chirp and rustle in the leaves and branches until dark.  Then all is still, until the first ray of dawn when the birds resume their chirping, and take off for another day of foraging. 

Flocking birds are a sign of seasonal change.  I treasure the busy little creatures who hang out in the tree beside our window, because at this point I do not want summer to end.  But end, it will! 

Meanwhile, the clouds clearly forecaste change—those famous clouds of August.  Due to changing air currents, temperatures, and moisture, August clouds are distinctive.  After a suddenly cooler night, the clouds are seen as mist rising off the ground in our park.  Up north the clouds rose off our lake in August and September, reminding us of the picturesque lochs we saw years ago when we traveled the back roads of the Scottish highlands.

Clouds of change!  We who live with four seasons (one of which seems a lot longer than the other three in Wisconsin!) are accustomed to change and ready for it.  Already I’ve done some shifting around of clothes in my closet, so that when the first brisk day arrives I’ll have something warmer at hand.   I’ve laundered the summer blankets and taken a wool blanket out of its cleaner bag. 

I’m preparing my heart for that blast of sheer beauty which Autumn brings—followed by the silent, white months.  But we can never be totally prepared for the metaphorical clouds of change in our personal lives.  Last year, as August whispered sweet promises around us, little did we know that we were about to enter a ten-month period of severe medical issues—with one emergency compounding another. 

We can never accurately predict our seasons of circumstances.  All we can do is remember that emergencies are Holy Ground.  God gets our attention and speaks to us through times of crisis.  All we can do is take off our metaphorical shoes and say “Yes, Lord, whatever You will shall be done.”

Actually, for the Christian all of life is Holy Ground.  To recognize that fact is to experience the peace of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit every day, regardless of whatever the clouds of change may bring!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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The gift of finding unexpected treasure in unexpected places—that’s serendipity.  Since I customarily do find some treasure on most every rummaging foray, I tend to think of garage sales not as serendipity but rather simply pleasant business as usual.  But yesterday’s excursion yielded far more than the considerable haul pictured above.  I’ll remember that day as truly serendipitous!

The garage sale sign indicated an uphill driveway through woods.  I parked and began the hike, wondering if whatever was nestled beyond the trees was worth the climb!  Many garage sales feature clothing and games.  I forage mainly for antiques, furniture, books, vintage jewelry, collectible kitchen junk, and art.  I hoped my huffing and puffing up the hill like “The Little Engine That Could” would result in something interesting.

Yes, the ascent was definitely worthwhile!  My eyes could scarcely take in the wonder of a driveway full of gorgeous wares!  Kathleen, the woman who hosted the sale, is a fiber artist, mosaic tile artist, and painter.  She spins, weaves, sews, and creates art papers out of rustic materials.  Everywhere I looked, I saw evidence of Kathleen’s creativity which stretched beyond her handcrafted art to encompass an enchanting yard full of cottage gardens celebrating a relaxed quality of life. 

I asked if I could take pictures around Kathleen’s yard, and she graciously granted permission.  Here are some samples:

Then, as if I were not already reeling from the serendipity of just walking around outdoors, Kathleen invited into her home to view her handmade paper art on her walls and take more photos:

So what did I come home with, after this heady experience?  From Kathleen I purchased an old window screen (which I’m currently using as a display for some of my art—propped against an always-open bedroom door), a charming petite footstool with a needlepoint top and legs painted lavender, and a beautiful shelf exhibiting Kathleen’s mosaic work.  All of these are pictured above, along with treasures from two other garage sales.  But here is a closeup of the tiled shelf, waiting to be hung:

Serendipity!  Treasure may be found most any time, any day.  All we need are eager ears, open eyes, and a willingness to climb uphill through the woods to discover the unexpected!   🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

Note:  The photos have been posted on this site with Kathleen’s permission.  Thank you, Kathleen!

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Here is “Yours Truly” ↑ anticipating a favorite meal at our nearby Lumber Inn, located in the City of Delafield:  roast pork, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy washed down with iced tea.  There was a time I’d have added caramel apple pie with a streusel crust and ice cream to the above feast, but I can no longer handle that much food in one sitting.  The pie and ice cream would be a meal in itself.

My husband and I were raised on REAL FOOD.  Our mothers fed us the way I fed our children, with the nutritional food groups represented in most of our meals—followed by dessert for extra “quality of life”.  Now, although I love an occasional foray into ethnic cuisines, I still love old-fashioned American farm style food most of all.

I have total sympathy and understanding for those whose health issues require dietary restrictions.  Joe is diabetic, so we carefully balance our carbohydrates.  But that doesn’t mean Joe has to cease enjoying treats.  He’s had more flack over the years from low blood sugar than from high, so his nightly dish of ice cream is a good safeguard against hypoglycemia. 

Excessive roughage in the form of grainy, chewy breads and an overdose of raw vegies will make me ill for several days.  In contrast to current food fads, I must eat a good share of cooked, even refined foods.  Raw fruits agree with me in any quantity, while raw veggies must be consumed with extreme caution.  Fortunately, the above plate of roast pork (a senior portion!) comforts both my body and soul!

Every individual is different!  That is why I get a little “testy” when I hear the frequent diatribes about food.  I do not go around preaching that everyone should eat roast lamb, beef, and pork—even though these meats are the kindest and most palatable of foods to me.  Therefore I have great difficulty listening to all the trendy propoganda about the glories of white chicken.  My chicken soup may be the world’s best—but when it come to solid meat on my plate I prefer to stare down a lamb chop, beef tenderloin, or a bit of the piggy. 

The issue is not so much what we eat, but rather how much!  Reasonable eating helped to keep my parents on planet earth for a long time—93 years for my mom, and 102 for my dad.  Of course genes played a major role as well.  Most of us can ignore the ever-fluctuating food fads, and thrive on down-to-earth REAL FOOD in moderation!  As the old saying goes, “Call me anything, but please don’t call me ‘late for dinner’ “!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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Some of you “Northern Reflections” readers may not even know that for some time this blog has had a sidekick with more of the same, titled “Northern View”.  Since “Northern View” was kind of an unnecessary afterthought, I have changed it’s complexion and focus. 

From now on http://northernview.wordpress.com/ will have the same URL, but a new common name:  “The Messy Palette . . . for dabblers and lovers of art”.  You can access this site via its URL, or by GOOGLING “The Messy Palette”.  “The Messy Palette” will feature my adventures, and hopefully encourage readers to share news of their artsy activities and ideas.  So much fun! 

Although I’m currently elbow deep in watercolors, acrylics, and mixed medium collages and have a lot to share on those topics, the door on my revamped site will swing many ways to include discussion of various kinds of art—from oils and pastels to decoupage, textile arts, jewelry, baskets, pottery, metal sculptures, you name it. 

So, if you have a few moments after reading “Northern Reflections”, feel free to move on for a glimpse of “The Messy Palette”.

Margaret L. Been

Note:  As a lifetime writer, I used to take issue with the old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words”.  Now I’m beginning to believe it!  🙂

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In two days I will turn 78, and yes Joe and I are still stepping out in faith and buying green bananas.  (Think about that one!) 

Yesterday our daughter, Debbie, had a gala birthday party for this occasion, starting indoors with gifts and cake and ending beside Debbie and Rick’s pool.  Corraling the TRIBE OF BEEN into a corner of a room for a family photo is quite an undertaking, but I did it!  I snapped the above picture.  If my math is correct, 15 family members are missing in the photo—due to work or distance.  After I shot the photo, Joe insisted that someone take another so that I could be in a picture.  So our grandson, Adam, stepped out to do the honors and I sat beside Joe.  ↓

Joe and I like “kissy” photos.  As Joe says, “This all started with a kiss!”

To complete the scenario of yesterday’s memorable celebration, here is a shot of THE DRESS—decorated for me by my artist/niece, Nancy, who lives in Colorado Springs.  Nancy, are you blogging today?  I heard rumors that you will also see photos of your masterpiece on Facebook.  Thanks again for a smashing garment, a certain conversation starter, and a magnificent work of art!  🙂

Meanwhile, we love those bananas!

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