Archive for December, 2011

Sanmi and Martina Adesokun, 12/30/11 

Last night I went to sleep bathed in the afterglow of a perfect day.  Our daughter, Martina, and Sanmi were married in the morning—before the fireplace at the gracious clubhouse in our condo community.  Salvation Army Major Dale Hunt officiated at the ceremony, which was relaxed and beautiful in every detail—even down to the background harmonies of George Winston’s arrangement of “the Pachabel”, as Joe presented Martina to her groom.

Sanmi and Martina are both in their mid thirties.  Neither one has been married before; they’ve waited a long time for each other.  Sanmi arrived in the USA from Nigeria on Christmas Day.  The rest of our family’s week was filled with last minute preparations for 12/30/11—a day to remember!

Margaret L. Been—2011

(Photos by our granddaughter, Alicia Stokes.)

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Star Shadows 

Tiny child, lost in sleep—

 inexorable sleep

winged on Hebrew lullaby . . . 

Did one small hand emerge in sleep 

from swaddling cloth,

a tiny starhand

 turning under stable-filtered light

 of greater star?

 And did that greater star

 spill shadows on a mother’s pondering?

 As she grasped the starhand, did she see

 a shadow path from Heaven

 to Calvary?

 ©Margaret Longenecker Been

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Meet Mia Valentine, not quite 1 week old at this moment.  Mia is our 16th great-grandchild.  Each one is a treasure, and we are so thankful!  🙂

Margaret L. Been

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Coming Soon!

Wonderful news!  Our daughter Martina’s love (Sanmi with a silent “n”) is scheduled to arrive at O’Hare from Nigeria on Christmas Day.   A wedding will follow soon after his arrival.  I’ll keep you posted on this site!

Margaret L. Been

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Yesterday my friend, Karen, and I had our annual Christmas tea and gift exchange, at my home.  It was a special treat, as last year at this time Joe was in the hospital—and Karen and I met at the hospital cafeteria for the festive occasion.  What a joy to gather with friends anywhere, but especially at home! 

I have always loved setting a table, as this was my job as a child.  I was free to arrange the settings and decorate the table however I wished.  My mother imbued me with her passion for quiet elegance—candlelight, pretty dishes, attractively presented food—and best of all, the joy of sharing leisure time with family members and friends.  My parents entertained frequently, and even when it was “just family” we valued slow paced ambience at our table.  Nearly every evening meal was a lovely occasion.

At our tea party, Karen and I observed that gracious entertaining is not so common among people today as it once was.  How unfortunate!  The rapid pace of 21st century lifestyles may play into this dearth of ambience.  Yet our mothers were far “busier” than many women today—even some of the “working women”.  Our mothers worked hard and diligently at home, without a plethora of the time and labor saving appliances so common in contemporary homes. 

Now technology has largely replaced elbow grease.  In many instances, an attitude of “Let’s get the jobs done as fast, mindlessly, and mechanically as possible” has replaced that wonderful sense of creative accomplishment and pride in the home arts which motivated women in the past—the same wholesome pride that my friend and I continue to experience today. 

I do not believe the current disregard for loveliness can be traced to economic factors.  My mother entertained during the Great Depression, sharing whatever she had—as elegantly as if she were a queen.  (Indeed she was a queen, in our home!)  A lovely table is not a matter of “what we have” so much as how “what we have” is arranged!  Pine cones in a humble wooden bowl are as beautiful as glass fruit in a crystal compote.  Mismatched tea cups and plates, culled from rummage sales and resale shops, can be as charming as a set of matching bone china dishes when arranged with an innate love for beauty.  Most certainly, it is not the “What“; it’s the “How“!

Some women may be deterred from entertaining due to a concern for “What will people think?”  That pointless, ridiculous question has no place in my life.  It cannot even be imagined when we focus on creating a pleasant setting for people we love!  I’m thankful to have lived many decades without ever worrying about what someone else might think of my home activities! 

Apparently leisurely entertaining and elegant family meals are simply non-priorities in a number of homes today.  The lack of ambience has created a glaring deficit in our culture.  A vicious circle twirls in perpetual motion:  when people fail to create a slow lane atmosphere at home, that failure adds to the frenetic tempo of the fast lane. 

A dearth of gracious dignity and decorum is evident in many other areas as well as homes:  in the careless attire, loud public behavior, and rude manners which prevail.  A case in point is the sloppy attire seen everywhere (even in fine restaurants and in churches!)  Dining out has been rendered pedestrian by the ringing of cell phones.  Somehow, an entire culture has forgotten a basic fact of civilization:  that most forms of gracious behavior are ultimately a matter of respect for other individuals.  In this “Me” generation, respect seems to be a dying virtue—no longer regarded as essential!   

Meanwhile, a little ambience would go a long way toward restoring the soul of our nation!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

Note:  The ruby footed goblets on the luncheon plates await servings of trifle.  Easy, attractive, and so-o-o yummy!

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Remember the 1946 film by the above name, starring Jimmy Stewart?  I’m not inferring that you were around in 1946, although I certainly was.  But the movie has been shown on TV nearly every Christmas season for years, so you may recognize it.

I’ve been musing on how wonderful life is for many of us, even today when the world is so messed up!  Recent reflections have been inspired by the community of friends I’ve discovered over the past few years, friends through blogging.  (I gave up on the FACEBOOK friends because I just didn’t have the time and energy to keep up!  Younger, peppier folks can go that route.  They stay up later at night!  🙂  )

It has dawned on me that my blogroll list is like a magnified trip to the mailbox every day that I go online.  This “trip” includes uplifting reading, and beautiful photos and/or art which someone has been delighted to share—just as I love sharing with you.  

As I enter another Wisconsin winter, sharing is especially precious and comforting.  Wisconsin winter is lovely, scenic, and “breath taking”.  (At minus 10 F, it actually takes your breath away!)  For months I miss digging in the garden and lounging on my patio.  As for lounging outdoors and sipping iced tea in January here, I think you’d regret trying to do it!  🙂 

Meanwhile home, family, our corgi, houseplants, and a plethora of hobbies make a huge difference, and winter is a beautiful time for me—despite the long cold months.  Friends mean so much:  friends who live nearby and drop in for tea; friends from far away, who come occasionally. 

And now, the kindred souls I’ve discovered online.  Through these friends I can savor the kind of life Joe and I enjoy, set in the context of a different locale.  That’s really a trip, without standing in line at airports!  For readers who enjoy visiting cyber friends, here is one more kindred spirit that I’ve just added to my blogroll:  Roberta at http://inotherwordsandpictures.wordpress.com/ 

Roberta lives in Southern California.  Ahh, that’s a world apart and afar—even with our Badgers’ upcoming journey to the ROSEBOWL!  But we have a granddaughter, Nancy, living in Long Beach, CA.  Nancy grew up in Washington State.  Now I can read “In Other Words and Pictures” and get a glimpse of Nancy’s new environment.  Roberta writes about things Joe and I love—scenic drives, pleasant restaurants, arts and crafts, antiques and wonderful junk, snail mail, and everything homey that makes for a wonderful life. 

If you visit Roberta, you’ll be very glad you did!  Her site is heartwarming—and much more “warming” all around, than trying to drink iced tea outdoors in January in Wisconsin!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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Every year at this time, since I began blogging, I’ve commemorated Pearl Harbor with a photo of the disaster.  This year, I can’t bring myself to feature the photo.  Recently, whenever I think of Japan I think of the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Necessary from a military standpoint?  Yes!  Unthinkably tragic from a human standpoint?  YES! 

We need to remember history, mainly because we could benefit from learning.  History could provide foresight and wisdom.  But it’s been shown again and again that people do not learn from history.  We may remember history, but we simply play it again.

As Christians, we are commanded to forgive.  Forgiveness is the very core of our faith, and the reason why we are standing here rather than decimated and plowed under by God’s wrath.  Yet there are historical characters whom I cannot forgive in my fallen humanity:  especially Hitler, for his atrocities to God’s people the Jews.  And Stalin. 

And, going way back—Oliver Cromwell.  I read a lot of documentaries on Irish history.  I’m currently experiencing a formidable challenge knowing that I have to forgive the British Empire, not only for its mindless brutality in Ireland but for centuries of power lust and domination in India and Africa.  My husband, always the wit, suggests that I gather up all my English tea and dump it in the harbor a mile from our home.

However when I think England I want to think tea and English country gardens—along with Shakespeare, Jane Austin, Keats, the Brontës, Thomas Hardy, John Galsworthy and other authors too numerous to name.  I want to think our precious English language, and English theatre which (in my opinion) is second to none. 

When I think Russia I want to remember ballet and Tchaikowsky who, tortured as he was in his personal life, left the world a legacy of hauntingly beautiful music.  When I think Germany I want to recall Bach and Beethoven—and the tradition of gemütlichkeit reflected by German Americans in the cultural history of Wisconsin.  When I think Japan I want to focus on centuries of exquisite art traditions:  painting, poetry, gardening.

Every nation on earth has its shame as well as its pride.  Individuals are born sinners.  National shame is sin multiplied.  America is not exempt from national sin.  Just ask the decendants of the Cherokee and other Native Nations who walked the Trail of Tears from the deep South to Oklahoma and points West.  Or ask the descendants of slaves.

There is only One Remedy for sin, and that was accomplished for us at Calvary.  God’s Remedy for sin came to us as a baby, born in a crude and humble manger some 2000 plus years ago.  He is coming again!  “And He shall reign forever and ever!”

Meanwhile I will remember December 7th, 1941.  Remember, but move on!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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Epilogue of a County

Go gently, Autumn,

spilling sunlight out across stone walls,

soothing ancient land

where glaciers scooped our hollows,

piled moraines, and thawed

a legacy of lakes. 


Life has been the thrust

of this dark soil,

of oak and hickory woods,

abundant springs,

and prairie interludes

where cornfields call

to Angus clustered hills. 


the forest echoed Cymric rhyme

(and still of restless year-end nights

a melody is heard—

wind singing old Welsh tunes

in dying oak). 

Go gently Autumn,

remembering those quiet country ways,

Savoring the texture of these days.

©Margaret Longenecker Been


1st Place winner in the 1981 BO CARTER CONTEST, Epilogue of a County was published in MORNING IN MY EYES, a collection of poems by MLB—SHEEPY HOLLOW PRESS, Eagle, Wisconsin. 

That’s “SHEEPY” HOLLOW, not “SLEEPY”.   The publisher (Yours Truly) was a sheep raiser in those days.

I think I’ve posted this poem in past autumns.  That’s okay.  It fits today. 🙂


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