Archive for February, 2013

March Sun

It wouldn’t be very nice to say “Good Riddance” to the month that brings Groudhog Day and Valentine’s Day, and lots of cozy indoor days for reading, knitting, and painting—but at age 79 we tend to say exactly what we think.  And that’s what I think.  I’ve enjoyed February, but I’m not sobbing over her demise!  And I’m glad it’s not Leap Year or we’d have an extra day of February.

A few nights ago, when the full moon rose in the east over our front yard park it occurred to me that the next full moon would coincide approximately with the vernal equinox.  I don’t have to express what this means to us Northerners, and none of my prose renderings could even begin to do the job.  But perhaps a little poem might work.

March Sun . . .

. . . knows a tricky way of turning corners

slipping into curtained rooms through cracks,

crawling under eaves and glinting dust

on wintered dreams.

© Margaret Longenecker Been

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂  Hello MARCH!

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Can't believe the minimalist decor--2

Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle was out-dated when he woke up after only 20 years.  Imagine snoozing away for 50, and suddenly waking up in our present age of electronic technology!  I seem to be fairly current with technology, although I REFUSE to allow myself one of those pokey/punchy little phones or I-Pads.  My laptop is ENOUGH

But sometimes I do wonder where I’ve been for 50 years.  Because I remember that time so well, it seems like the above photo was taken yesterday.  But actually it dates back to (are you ready for this?) 1960.  That’s 50 plus years ago!  The children are (left to right) Eric and Judy Been—now “mid-lifers”.   They are seated with their mother—me.  I’m (thankfully) still their mother.  But the natural, God-given dark brunette hair has long since been replaced by a series of chemical hues from blonde to black with many shades of red in between—and now it’s plain old natural white (with a bit of platinum rinse enhancement from JOHN FRIEDA®). 

The earrings were clip-ons, the kind that ended up pinching like there was no tomorrow so that I would take them off and sometimes lose them.  Judy’s saddle shoes were classics I’d love to see return.  But my 4 inch heels?  No way would I wear such life-threatening catastrophes today—although some young ladies whom I dearly love do wear them very effectively, while chasing after their little people just like I did “back then”!  And The Saturday Evening Post?  That goes all the way back to Ben Franklin.

Someone might look at this “vintage” photo and say, “YIKES!  That mother is wearing a SKIRT!”  Well guess what?  She still does.  The 4 inch heels have been replaced with lots of support, but skirts will always be the main features in my closet, and on my torso.  As chic and trendy as today’s jeans and slacks may be, they simple don’t have it for comfort.  In fact, except for gardening and fishing I find pants to be useless and miserable—there’s no room for moving around in them.  And pants don’t hide a thing, where as skirts can easily conceal that extra dessert.   

Although the people I know who wear slacks and jeans do so with such flare and pizzazz that they are definitely “dressed” up in them and they look very neat, I have been wondering if casualness has gone too far in our general culture.  Whether pants or dresses are worn, there is such a thing as neatness and such a thing as scuzzy sloppiness—or at least there was 50 years ago! 

Recently I sat at the SUBWAY shop in Walmart, sipping my raspberry iced tea while waiting for Joe to finish shopping, and for some strange reason it suddenly dawned on me that sloppiness has become the norm of our day.  That’s why I’m wondering where I’ve been for the last 50 years.  Certainly this didn’t “just happen” last Tuesday or whenever it was that I sat in the SUBWAY shop.  I just happened to be suddenly, blatantly aware of something that has been gradually heating up for decades.  And suddenly I, the frog in the cooking pot, have realized a “cook off”. 

Well yes, I guess I have realized it for some time now—but I wasn’t pondering the change as much as I have been doing of late, and that makes me a boiled frog!  Does that make any sense?  Oh, well!

Some questions swim around in my head, concerning not what women are wearing—either pants or skirts—but how these items are being worn.  Where is self-respect, in a culture given over to sloppy attire?  Where is simply caring about oneself?  Yet more importantly, where is respect for others who have to live with (or encounter at Walmart) the sloppiness?  What is the mental attitude behind confirmed sloppiness? 

Where is a sense of order in our culture?  Does the fact that so many have turned from belief in our God of order have anything to do with the disorder we see everywhere, from litter on public ground to disheveled personal attire?  No, we are not to judge another’s inside from the outside—and yet, wouldn’t order (or the lack of it) on the inside often be reflected in one’s outward appearance?  (Not always, but often?)  Does maintaining a neat and orderly appearance (or the failure to do so) have anything to do with economics?   Is the lack of order really a failure?  Or is it a point blank refusal?

Rather than answer these questions (although I think I do know the answers!)  I’ll briefly share “the way things were” (at least in society as I knew it) 50 years ago.  And 60 and 70 years ago.  We did the best with what we had, took care of what we had, and didn’t worry over what we didn’t have.  We were raised to believe that a neat, presentable attire was like gracious table manners—a matter of respect for other people, and a kind of stewardship of ourselves.  We were raised to realize that our behavior mattered, whether or not anyone was looking. 

Wherever I may have been for 50 years, that’s the way things were.  It may sound simplistic but that’s the way things still are, in my world!

Margaret L. Been, ©2013

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Boreal Summer Village 1

“Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.  His understanding is unsearchable.”  Isaiah 40:28  (NKJV)

Late in 2012, I posted an entry on this site, sharing about my Christmas miracle.  A couple of weeks later, I had another miracle:  two barium swallow x-rays showed a mass on my esophagus, but a subsequent endoscopy and CT scan showed NOTHING.  The mass had disappeared.  The gastroenterologist was greatly puzzled and his nurse said, “We simply cannot figure this out.”

I answered, that I could figure it out—it was a miracle.  Again our family rejoiced.  But the joy produced by these miracles has been tremendously shadowed by the recent discovery that a family member, our daughter-in-law Rosemary, does have cancer—and will soon undergo surgery.

When considering my own possibility of cancer, I had an over-abundance of that perfect peace which God promises Christian believers through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  But for Rosemary, I grieve.  Rosemary is forty-five years old.  She has a husband (our son, Karl) and two teen age sons.

I am seventy-nine years old.  But as old as we may be, and as “wise” as we would like to think we are, we are still human enough to plead with God.  I have been pleading, “Why Lord?  Why Rosemary instead of me?”

Of course I know that our Sovereign God is all-wise, all-perfect, all-everything!  He knows what He is about, and all of this has been known to Him since before the foundations of the world.  Praise God, Rosemary and her husband know that as well.  God used my miracles for His glory.  He will be glorified, and He will bless Rosemary through her experience as well.*

God’s understanding may be unsearchable to us, but He is Lord!!!

Margaret L. Been, ©2013

*Rosemary has an honest and valiant faith, and an upbeat desire to encourage others. If you would like to track with Rosemary’s journey, you can visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/rosemarybeen  .

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My above-pictured collage, simply titled “North”, tells a story—an account of eight years when my husband and I lived, year around, north of Highway 8 in the Wisconsin Northwoods.  Included in the collage are photos of our lake and the Big Elk River around the bend, snippets of my cropped art, bits of aluminum foil, Japanese lace paper, some cheesecloth, lots of acrylic paint, and a favorite quote from a beloved American author:  Henry David Thoreau:  “I had three chairs in my house . . . one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society.”  Walden

People who know me may laugh when I share this favorite quotation.  They know that:  1) I have far more than three chairs in our home, as well as far more than three of most anything else.  I’m a collector of everything! and 2) My idea of “society” is a lot more than three people.  We have a gargantuan family.  All are welcome to come and sit on our multiple chairs—although many are still in the stage of running around rather than just sitting.  (My “up north” friend Sandy commented after viewing a photo of our family, “That’s not a family; that’s a tribe!”)

Meanwhile, aside from Thoreau’s eastern philosophical views, I love most everything that he wrote.  His chair quote, to me, symbolizes an inner peace and unswerving stability.  A true Yankee at heart, Thoreau was never swayed by customs, crowds, human opinion, or even his own precarious health issues.  I have his complete diary spanning 24 years and two huge volumes.  Right up to his last entry, when Thoreau was dying of tuberculosis, his focus remained on the wonders of creation and the intricate details therein.

The wonders of creation predominate around our home in Northern Wisconsin, along with solitude and an undescribable stillness.  Black bears abound. Despite the fact that they tore up a few bird feeders and pulled a screen off our front deck, I loved the bears (but my husband did not!).  Perhaps the most unique thrill of all was seeing timber wolves on the ice in front of our pier.  The wolves brought unforgettable excitement to a minus 25° morning.  (That’s 25 degrees below zero, folks!)  But nature’s wonders notwithstanding, my most precious memories of up north have to do with the friends we made—friends forever.  As always, I was thankful to have more than 3 chairs in my home!  🙂

Now we are back in the Southern part of our state, where much needed medical care is within 13 minutes from our door.  And family!  In recent years, 16 great-grandchildren have appeared on the scene and we live close to 9 of them.  We are watching the little people grow up.  We attend their school concerts and some of the birthday celebrations.  I attend church with children, grandchildren, and 7 of our great-grandchildren.  When out-of-state family members visit, we are all together in one county—so tribal gatherings are easily managed.  Joe and I enjoy our condo home, my little gardens, the good neighbors on our lane, the park and woodlands beyond our door, and quick access to great restaurants and bistros.  A new grandbaby is due in June—within rocking and cuddling distance. 

Yet now and then on hot summer nights—when I lounge outdoors on the patio while viewing the hazy moon and scanty stars over our nearby metro area—I recall those northern night skies, plastered with millions of stars.  I often think of my friends up there, and I’m thankful that we stay in touch. 

We never really lose the beloved people or places in our lives.  There’ll always be a part of my heart labeled, “North of Highway 8”.

Margaret L. Been, ©2013

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