Archive for June, 2012

More Potato Chips!  With button holes and buttons, no less!   Like with the edible variety of chips, you can’t stop at one!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, 2012

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Today Joe and I are celebrating fifty-nine years of wonderful marriage.  What a blessing, to look back over the years and smile—and to experience such amazing contentment NOW!

Pictured above is one of my hand made anniversary gifts to Joe:  a mixed media collage with a photo of the two of us, taken at a ROTC Ball at UW-Madison in 1952.  Typical of formal dances in those days, a big band played—I think it was Stan Kenton’s.  Dancing was always big in our lives.

Fantastic years—and a beloved family of six children, thirteen grandchildren, and sixteen great-grandchildren!  Soon we may be renting a hall or park pavillion for family reunions.  I know this sounds like bragging, and perhaps it is.  But I give God the glory for keeping our love affair fresh and sweet, protecting our family, and navigating us during times of challenge—as well as throughout those many memorable decades of delight. 

God willing, Joe and I will celebrate by going out for breakfast and then strolling through a newly opened antique mall in Waukesha.  Who knows what next?  Maybe family visits, and certainly a time out for iced tea on our shady patio in the afternoon.

Here we are in the 21st century, 2011 to be exact:  ↓

Oh how I love my man!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, 2012

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. . . God is still God.  The Lord Jesus, living in His people, will never forsake us.  Nothing in Heaven or earth can remove us from His constant, loving care.

“For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, not height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8: 38-39

Margaret L. Been, 2012

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Three summers ago, when we were packing to leave our beloved Northern home and move 5 hours south, one question kept bugging me.  I knew I was giving up a lot of beautiful nature, but I also knew that beautiful nature abounds in the area to which we were relocating.  No wolves and bears in Southern Wisconsin, but plenty of nearly everything else—including deer, raccoons, ground hogs, muskrats, and (something we did not have in the North) possums.

As I packed, I realized I was giving up quick access to water, but hey!  I knew we’d be surrounded by water in our new locale—from lakes and rivers down to the picturesque pond with a fountain just a few yards from our door.

My concern was not for the loss of nature and water.  What bugged me was the fact that, after nearly 30 years of living in the midst of acres with no close human neighbors, we were suddenly to be transported to a community where we’d  see people—perhaps lots of them—every day of our lives.

That sounds anti-social.  It sounds like I don’t like my own species, but nothing could be further from the truth.  I do and always have loved most people:  family members, friends, and people in general—so long as the “people in general” were not crowding around me, or a part of my everyday experience.  So I packed and prayed, and we moved.

Now, nearly three years later, I can’t begin to express how much both Joe and I enjoy living in a community.  We do see “people in general” every day, but guess what?!  They are not just “people in general” after all.  Each one is a special person.  I realize that there are many places in the world where neighbors are not sweet and pleasant, but we have been blessed.  We are surrounded by sweet and pleasant people.  What a joy to pause in our comings and goings, and chat with a neighbor. 

In the beginning it was hard to get acquainted with fellow dog walkers because our Dylan was so ridiculously impossible around other dogs—straining at the leash and barking as if he wanted to kill.  Now even Dylan has changed.  He still strains a little, but the barking has mainly been replaced by a deep inner rumble.  Now we can sometimes visit with the other dog people.

Along with my original concern about living near “people in general” was my question about living around the noise that people inevitably make, as I’m a lifelong lover of quiet.  The first noticeable difference in the noise level around our new home was the presence of happy sounds—children playing in our front yard park, softball games, soccer games, picnics in the pavillion, etc.  These sounds were, for me, love at first hearing.  The cacophony created by people having fun outdoors is truly wonderful.

Not quite so wonderful was the ongoing hum of the air conditioners, positioned outside our bedroom window.  Every condo here has an air conditioner along with the gas furnace, and nearly everyone along our side of the garage row uses their artificial air at night.  We don’t.  We are “open door and window freaks”, aided by a ceiling fan in each room of our new home.  We simply fling our windows open as wide as we can—night and day—and pull the strings on our ceiling fans. 

We moved here in the September heat of 2009, and those humming air conditioners were a considerable issue for me at first.  I truly wondered, “Am I going to be able to live with this?” 

But after those first few warm weeks, the air thingies outside never bothered me again.  If I’m conscious of hearing them, I simply think “How great that people can be comfortable—even with closed windows!”

We have a neighbor across the lane, who drives a snazzy new car and goes in and out with his car radio blasting country tunes.  We always know when Mike is coming and going—and we love him.  He is going on 93 years old, a WW2 veteran, and one great guy.  He goes out nearly every morning to play golf.  Mike’s country tunes assure me that he is thriving, and I thank God for such a fine neighbor. 

One of the constant sounds of civilization is the racket made by mowers and blowers involved in park and condo community maintenance.  Like the air conditioners, these annoyed me at first.  But my whole attitude has changed.  The area is kept beautifully groomed, and we appreciate that!  The workers are always pleasant and considerate; they are careful to not to clip or mow into our gardens.  When I see the maintenance crew at work, I thank God that these people have jobs.

Throughout that 2009 summer of packing, I knew of one sound at our new locale which would be absolutely thrilling to me:  the sound of trains.  If I have blogged about any subject more consistently than potato chip scarves, that subject is undoubtedly trains.  I can’t say enough about them:  the lumbering, chugging freights, and the whooshing AmTrak—mentally transporting me to Colorado or New Mexico.  At the risk of being entirely silly I could run around and sing, “The tracks are alive with the sound of music!”  🙂

All of this causes me to muse about how people can change!  Who would every think that this lover of quiet solitude could rejoice in the sounds of music, condo style?  Perhaps the proverbial “bottom line” is this:  we can carry our peace and quiet inside ourselves—right in the midst of wherever God has placed us.  I praise Him for that!

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I wonder if a lot of readers are like me, prone to reading in streaks.  I can look back over the last couple of decades and dovetail our family’s history with my reading.  Several years ago I read most of Charles Dickens’ novels—this took some time, as they are large!  Then I read everything I could find about the sea—documentaries of shipwrecks past and recent, plus novels like Conrad’s LORD JIM.  I have spent a couple of years tracking with Brian Jacques’ REDWALL series, when riveted by anthropomorphic fantasy—a lifelong passion of mine. 

The streaks come and go, and periodically repeat themselves, ever branching into newly discovered books.  I have English mystery streaks as in Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh, and long spells of devouring Irish history—in documentary and fiction.  I have read John Galsworthy’s 3 huge trilogies of novels cavalcading English society from the 1880s up to 1930.  I’ve spent days in drawing rooms with Jane Austen.  I’ve discovered Wilke Collins and our son-in-law, Rick, has lent me Collins’ books.  (They are fantastic!)  And I’ve labored over Dostoevsky’s casts of characters—each with at least 3 melodious, hard to spell Russian names.

More and more I’m loving documentaries:  accounts of daily life in the far northern wilderness; historical records of wars and plagues; legends and histories of cultural groups; biographies of writers, artists, statesmen, and rulers; discourses on social trends, etc.

Two excellent books consumed a part of my last winter:  TEAM OF RIVALS, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, 700 plus pages of well-researched documentary on Abraham Lincoln’s political genius and his remarkable character; and THE JUDGMENT OF PARIS–the Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism, by Ross King—the subjects of which are implicit in the book’s title.  As well as depicting the tumult of the Parisian art scene in the 1860s and 70s, this account sheds detailed light on the Franco-Prussian War and those deprivations suffered by the resilient, resourceful French during the siege of Paris.

Most of all, I loved THE JUDGMENT OF PARIS for its thorough and insightful treatment of the art revolution—at the time when the camera came into existence, releasing artists from the responsibility to record history and events realistically.  Before the camera, artists were needed for accurate renderings of people, places, and scenes—to establish a form of provenance.  If it hadn’t been for Holbein, we’d have no concept of the breadth and girth of Henry VIII or the physical appearance of his serial wives!  I love the art revolution because it freed artists to operate out of the right brain—and I’m reaping the joys of that freedom in my studio today!

Now that summer is nearly upon us (and indeed the weather has frequently been summer-ish!) my favorite spot for reading is our above-pictured patio outside our living room.  It’s an outdoor living room, and I literally live there morning, afternoon, and sometimes evening in hot weather.  My right brained art on the patio wall and the rug showing on the lounge chair are indications of my current reading streak, one that occurs and re-occurs on a regular cycle in sync with one of my most beloved decorating themes.  (See the fake barrel cactus on the right, for another clue.)

So I’ll spend many happy patio afternoons—imbibing CRYSTAL LIGHT® or iced tea (or a combo of both) and feeding my streak.  For fiction mood days I’ll turn to that matchless creator of scene, characters, and action, Louis L’Amour.  And when documentary is the hunger of the day, I can choose from two recent antique store sale purchases (totaling $3.02), pictured below:

To accommodate our ever expanding home library, and to rescue towers of books from constantly toppling on the floor, Joe built more shelves—this time in our front hall.

An amazing sight—my man on a ladder!  Those readers who were with us on this site a year ago will definitely agree.  🙂 

Happy Reading Streaks!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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