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Archive for April, 2012

I’ve always celebrated vintage, old, torn, tattered, rusted, and falling apart in home furnishings.  To me, the timeworn look represents high end elegance due to that priceless mystique of memories and stories.  In the case of inherited treasures, we sentimentalists frequently think of the people who formerly enjoyed the object in hand.  And when we decorate with stuff culled from a rummage sale, antique shop, or curbside, we fondly remember the occasion of the outing:  whom we were with that day, what the weather was like, and where we had lunch. 

The timeworn look involves putting stuff in a manner that no one else ever will be able to achieve.  Those of use who love to rummage and decorate our homes will always have different and unique material with which to work.  Many found and inherited treasures go into our definition of home elegance. 

I cannot resist a derelict screen.  Two are pictured above on our patio.  I find these for a few cents at garage sales, or waiting for the garbage truck by the side of the road.  They provide slow-lane ambience in an era of sterile aluminum or plastic window treatment with oppressively shiny surfaces. 

Another passion is derelict chairs, like the above patio rocker, decked out in a garage sale basket loaded with pine cones gleaned from beneath a nearby, generous tree.  Of chipped and scruffy chairs we have many—and they are frequently a curbside blessing, as well. 

I also love rust.  At the end of our patio lounge (where I read and watch clouds all summer) sits a cast iron stove—another rummage sale treasure.  The stove stays out in all seasons, getting rustier and more beautiful with each passing year.  A deer skull with antlers, found in our northern acres, tops the stove.  Visiting friends unearthed the skull while we were hiking on our land.  I thought they should take it home with them, but alas (happiness, for us!) a polished white deer skull and antlers simply “wouldn’t go” with their suburban home decor.

Also, in the above photo, you will see yet another screen, plus some of my vintage coffee pots and favorite rocks.

Indoors our favorite table decor includes fresh flowers, rocks, pinecones, nuts, and shells.  A mirror tray, originally intended for perfume bottles on a dressing table, accents this shell collection along with glassware reminiscent of the sea.  Glass bottles—old and new, clear or clouded by age and stress—are way up on our list of decorative favorites.

If you study the above picture closely, you will see a tear in the upholstery on one of our sofa cushions.  This tear is very precious to us.  Every day, our Dylan gets a doggie cookie after his morning walk.  If we forget to give him the cookie, you can be sure we are quickly and efficiently reminded of our error.  Immediately on receiving his cookie, Dylan goes from place to place—burying his treasure, then digging it up and moving it to another spot. 

The cookie may go to our bed, then to my knitting basket, then to beneath the drapes on the floor, or to our living room sofa—where Dylan sticks it behind a pillow or underneath a cushion, before removing the cookie to still another hiding place.  The scratchie mark denotes Dylan’s great effort, exerted in his primal instinct to bury and preserve his food.  Many days later, the cookie might be unburied and eaten.  Obviously we have doggie cookies hidden all over the place here, continually. 

Although cleanliness and the aesthetics of order are tremendously important to us, Joe and I do not care a hoot about “mint condition” furniture.  Since we love the marks of happy and robust living, we find the look of new furniture perfection to be sterile and sadly bereft of soul.*  The “Dylan scratch” is one of my very favorite decorative features.  If we ever feel a need to replace the sofa for comfort’s sake, that treasured cushion will still have a place of honor somewhere in our home—as Baby Dylan will always have prime time in our hearts!

A well-appointed home is one where family members relax, rejoice, and do those things they love best.  Fiber art is one of those things I love best.  Some condo owners would have used this counter and the space beneath it for a food bar with stools.  I’m fairly sure the designer had that in mind, but what did he (or she) know about living to the hilt?  Not much, in my book!

Our “snack bar” is home to knitting needles, photos, teapots, curing homemade soap, and plants.  The area beneath is part of my fiber arts studio, with my largest spinning wheel tucked in amongst baskets of fluffy unspun wool plus my handspun yarn—overhung by funky garments and more handspun yarn, just a few of the many products from over three decades of a fiber arts’ cottage industry.  Beyond the “snack bar” fiber studio is our kitchen.  But that’s another photo trip, for another day!  🙂

In closing, you will see my bedside stand pictured below.  Every evening, this aging stool holds a soy milk chai on ice which Joe mixes for me at bedtime.  (We get bulk mailings of chai powder—in spice, vanilla, and chocolate flavors—ordered online for just a smidge over 1/2 the price of the BIG TRAIN® brand in stores, with FREE DELIVERY!  Try to beat that!)

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

*I frequently find kindred spirited homes in English decorating magazines.  How refreshing to linger over pages of centuries-old dwellings, tastefully furnished with handsome, tattered upholstered sofas and chairs—replete with sleeping dogs!  The Brits featured in these magazine have their priorities straight!  Dogs should always take precedence over the condition of one’s living room sofa, or even one’s bed!

If you look carefully, you’ll see the cookie in Dylan’s mouth!  In this picture, taken two years ago, he hadn’t yet decided where to bury his treasure.  MLB

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Last week I enjoyed an occasion that has been a frequent event in my life for over 50 years:  lunch with a gathering of special friends.  We’ve known each other since school days in the 1940s and early 1950s, and began getting together as a group when we were young moms.

There were thirteen of us to begin with, a “baker’s dozen”.  (We even published a little cook book in that name!)  Now our numbers have dwindled, but eight of us are still present.  “The girls” supposedly meet monthly, although not every one can always be on hand.  For years we met in our homes, for a gracious three-fork spread.  Now we’re apt to include a restaurant meal here and there.

I’m frequently asked, “How can the same people be friends for all those years?  The answer is what I call “Friendship’s Glue”—and that term actually signifies the lack of gossip.  There isn’t a single backbiter in the group.  We respect each other, we don’t meddle in each other’s business, and we don’t gossip

God’s Word comes down hard on backbiting, also called “whispering”—the King James Version term for gossiping and stirring up dissention, which is one of the six things God hates as listed in Proverbs 6:16-19.  All too often we see the devastation of dissension and the decaying fruit of “whispering”, which separates friends.  And families!

It’s no secret that families are floundering in our contemporary society.  Evidence of unfaithfulness, lack of commitment, and self-centered agendas are everywhere.  Yet hidden among the glaring issues in troubled families, is a less publicized poison—a deadly potion that causes an undercurrent of strife and heartache in what often appears on the surface to be “the very best of families”. 

How many families positively shine on the outside, with a shared value of “togetherness” and mutual support, yet are riddled on the inside with scars and dissensions perpetrated by whisperers?  A group may include a number of backbiters, so that it’s impossible to guess where it all began. 

But it only takes one whisperer, one back-biting telephone call (or, as a friend commented, one entry on FACEBOOK) to set a destructive process in motion—resulting in the walking wounded, those individuals who have been misunderstood or torn to shreds by an unkind and unruly mouth.

How precious, how wonderful to have friends and family members mutually bonded by Friendship’s Glue!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012 

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There is a hunger meat cannot abate,

nor human company assuage.

Food grows tasteless, conversation fails

to feed this cave.

Only hands, committed hands

can feed the hunger

of our broken pact with earth . . .

hands that spin and weave

and love the feel of rough wood,

crumbling sod,

hands that mirror ways

of He Who formed us out of clay.

© Margaret Longenecker Been

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I’m in agreement with Maria in listing “raindrops on roses” as one of her “fav — or — ite things“!  We’ve been parched around here for a couple of weeks, with sunlight and high winds.  Late last night the thunder and rain rolled in.  What a joy to go to sleep and wake to the sound of raindrops on roses and everything else.

I went out early this morning with my little red SONY®, to capture those raindrops.  They don’t really show up on the photo, but the rose bushes do—along with mertensia (Virginia bluebells), hostas, bleeding hearts, some columbine greenery, and other treasures around my beloved derelict red chair.  (The barrel cactus is fake; it stays out all year.)

I can often spot whether people around here are on my page, by observing their response to rain.  People who just don’t get it are apt to say, “It’s a nice day so far, but later it’s supposed to rain.  (Followed by a grimace.)  But!  But!  In Wisconsin we grow crops.  Barring floods, we need rain.  I lived in the Wisconsin Northwoods for years, and learned that a dry spring is the most fire-dangerous time of the year—as the rising sap in the trees is incendiary.  My gardens need rain.  My soul needs rain.  Rain in moderation and balance, that is.

There is an exception to the “soul need” for rain.  Anyone who lives where it rains for weeks and months on end, with no sight of the sun, is justified in saying “But it’s supposed to rain”—followed by a grimace.  I might do the same thing, if I lived in beautiful, green Northwest Washington State.  We have family members who live there.  Laura, are you reading this? 

Our daughter, Laura, works for a bank in Bellingham, Washington.  She tells a humorous story about when people came to her bank recently on business, from Arizona.  They walked around outdoors in a kind of euphoria, exclaiming, “Isn’t this WONDERFUL?!!!”  After awhile, Laura got tired of hearing the exclamations, and she answered very firmly, “No, it’s NOT!”

Years ago, I visited Laura and her family in January—and experienced the same euphoria registered by the Arizona bunch.  Wisconsin is often below zero in Wisconsin in January.  Our nose hair is apt to freeze up when we go from the house to the car.  So the smell of rain and the moist green Washington earth was heady indeed. 

After I’d exclaimed “Isn’t this Wonderful?!!!!!!!!!” ad nauseum, Laura’s daughter Nancy (then 9 years old) said, “Grandma, doesn’t it ever rain in Wisconsin?”  I think they’d all decided I was nuts! 

This afternoon, more thunder and almost hail sized raindrops are landing on the roses and everything else out there.  It’s wonderful!  But we’ll see how wonderful it is if we have a couple weeks of it! 🙂

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 “Sea Fever” by MLB– watercolor on Yupo paper ↑

Since it is National Poetry Month, I’m including some poems on this home page, as well as in the “Ekphrasis” section.  Especially when the wind howls (as it does most of the time around our home), poems rock in my head—other poets’ verses, that I’ve learned and loved from childhood right up to this day, and sometimes new or older poems that I’ve written.

Lately, John Masefield’s Sea Fever has been rolling in my head.  I don’t really want to be on the high seas with the wheel kicking and the sail shaking.  Although thoroughly at home in a canoe on inland rivers and lakes, I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to rough big water!  But I LOVE to read about oceans and ships!

Above you will find the painting that flowed from my brush in response to Sea Fever, by John Masefieldfeatured below. ↓

Sea Fever

I must down to the seas again to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,

And a gray mist on the sea’s face and a gray dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

John Masefield

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“The life in us is like the water in the river.  It may rise high this year . . . and flood the parched uplands.”  Henry David Thoreau, WALDEN.

What a delight to have water in our neighborhood!  Five minutes in most any direction will lead us to a lake, river, or marsh.  And just a few feet from our door we have a man-made pond with a soothing fountain, surrounded by plantings of trees—complete with benches for reclining.  Much as I love the colors, scenery, and architecture of New Mexico, there’s a major reason why I’m happy to visit rather than live there:  Water!

My little digital SONY® goes everywhere with me these days.  I’ve learned to keep it in my handbag, so that whenever I see a gnarled tree or a watery view on one of our outings I can capture the moment.  It all goes back to my Girl Scout motto:  “Be Prepared“.  🙂

Margaret L. Been, 2012

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HE IS RISEN!

“The angel said to the woman, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.  Come and see the place where He lay.  Then go quickly and tell His disciples:  He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see Him . . . .’   So the woman hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples . . . .”  Matthew 28:6-8

Come!  Rush out

where roaring rivers glorify the One

who broke their winter bondage with His sun.

Hurry!  Waste no time

to greet the wind unleashed upon the land;

and see the fields grow boldly green at His command!

Come!  Praise our Maker.

He has granted one more spring of song and seed.

Sing Hosanna for the Life that sprang out from the Cross

where we were freed.

Come! 

Run to see the empty tomb

the Victory!

——————————————————————————————————-

MLB

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