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Archive for January, 2015

Leeds Castle Stock Photo

Just when we are finally putting our feet up—unwinding from the joyous but exhausting round of Christmas season activities—the Brits grab us, lock us up, and throw away the key!  We are captured, captivated, and incarcerated in DOWNTON ABBEY and its cast of characters.

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So why is Carson so caustically snide to Mosely who happens to be one of the nicest guys aboard?  Will Mary ever make up her mind?  Personally, Lord Gillingham bugs me.  Kind of a slime-ball!  I think Mary’s brother-in-law, Tom, is her soul mate!  And why is Mary so snotty to her sister, Edith?

Cora is acting very silly; maybe she’s menopausal!  You know, the mid-life crisis thing.  I certainly hope Cora doesn’t make a cuckold out of her well-meaning husband?  Unfortunately, things like that sometimes happen “as the world turns”.  And Thomas Barrow?  For years I’ve detested him.  Now I’m beginning to feel sorry for him!  I wish I could hand him a Gospel Tract!

Anna and Bates have been making me cry ever since I first met them.  So sweet, but so dreadfully vulnerable!  My husband, Joe, is turned off by the Russians.  He doesn’t care for aristocracy—especially the former Russian style.  Every week we review how awful life was for common folk under the Czars.  It definitely was!  But Lenin and Stalin didn’t make matters any better!  The charitable Rose’s immigrants have lost their homeland and some of their family members!  And they have holes in their shoes!  

Sarah Bunting may be the most obnoxious individual I’ve ever encountered!  What an arrogant jerk!  She inappropriately wheedled Tom into a tour of the castle when the family was in London.  And her holier-than-thou pontifications at dinner!  Never mind that I agree with her views!  If only she had some sensitivity and tact!  Miss Bunting deserved to get reamed out by Lord Grantham and it remains to be seen if she can become even remotely caring for anyone other than herself and her ideas.  (She reminds me of an arrogant individual way up at the top of our U. S. government!)

But Edith!  She is where I melt down!  She’s been denigrated by her sister, Too Pretty Mary, from Day One.  Edith has matured from a rather irritating, thoughtless young person into a graciously beautiful woman with profound inner strength and a great capacity for loving and giving.

I’m sorry about Michael* and the Brown Shirts.  Horrendous times are coming!  Meanwhile, if Edith doesn’t get to claim Marigold as her very own little treasure, and raise this child with the family’s blessing—yes, even with Mary’s blessing—I think I might scream!  “As the world turns!”

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Now isn’t that the grand purpose of literature be it poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or drama?  To plumb the human soul— absorbing the reader or viewer to think, analyze, identify, take sides, process, and feel?  When captivated by a novel or drama to the point of considerable pondering and getting into the skin of the characters, we grow inside!  Finally the story ends, but our life story continues.

For centuries the English have produced the finest contributions to Western Civilization in the form of poetry, fiction, and drama—whether classic**, hilariously satirical (case in point: the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan), popular, and/or just plain fun.  What a legacy!  I’m delighted that the Brits have incarcerated me in DOWNTON ABBEY, and  I don’t even mind that they threw away the key!  🙂

NOTE:  A friend, Linda (alias “Sunshine”) has reminded me in her comment:  “What about the dowager?”.  Yes, Maggie Smith is one of those cinema “absolute GREATS“!

Margaret L. Been . . .  January 27th, 2015

*I have a Hollywood-type dream resolution for Edith:  that Michael never had an insane wife, or any wife for that matter:  that the wife story was a cover-up, and Michael really went to Germany as a spy for the British MI6.  Maybe it’s not only Hollywood indoctrination from the 1940s which makes me hopeful that Michael will return to Edith and Marigold.  After all, Jane Austen’s novels have happy endings!

**Consistently, DOWNTON ABBEY has reminded me of a beloved series of novels—the three trilogies by John Galsworthy:  FORSYTE SAGA, A MODERN COMEDY, and THE END OF THE CHAPTER.  These masterfully crafted novels trace the history of a family—not of landed nobility but rather of England’s professional and commercial Capitalist class which came in on the tide of the Industrial Revolution.  Galsworthy’s fiction deals with changes in English society from approximately 1886 to 1930, and his characters are unforgettable.

NOTE:  The above graphic, Leeds Castle, was culled from a royalty free castle website.  The DOWNTON ABBEY sites did not appear to have any Free Royalty Free images—at least that I could find.  So this will do.  MB

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Piano Musings, Recollections, and Resolution . . . .

music 2

In a good week I have four or five of them:  piano days.  I never sit down to play without thinking of childhood.  How pleased my mother would be with this daughter who, when young, preferred to putter in the shallow creek at the base of our property (crunching on ice floes in winter and catching pollywogs in the summer) to the discipline of piano and violin.  Yet practice I did, many hours per week.  Mom gave me no alternatives.  I had to do a couple of hours of music before messing about in the river.  Mother was passionate about music.  She was a classical pianist, and sat me down at a piano long before I can remember.  At age eight I began my 10 year stint of violin lessons.  I thank Mom for her music passion.  Throughout adulthood, music (especially vocal and piano) has been one of my passions as well.

Mother was unique—so different from some Moms, and how I praise the Lord for that!  Now and then I was allowed in the kitchen to make chocolate chip cookies.  After every meal I helped with the clean up; Mother washed the dishes and I dried them and put them away.  (That was special bonding time.)  But I NEVER cooked a meal.  I picked up a few tips from kitchen observation, but I was not taught to cook.  Mom’s famous words were:  “Soon enough you will grow up and have to cook, and since you can read you’ll be able to manage!  Anyone can cook!” 

I was taught to work.  I had to clean the bathrooms and do the ironing (both of which I absolutely love to this day).  But Mom was the cook.  We frequently had company for dinner and my job—my wonderful job!—was to get out the silver, china, and stemware, and set a beautiful table.  The centerpiece was my domain; I had free reign to arrange flowers, candles, and whatever else I could dream up.  Even when there were only the four of us at the table—my parents, my sister, and me—I dressed the table and took enormous pride in the job.  I still do!  My mother wanted me to invest time in reading, knitting, stitching, and doing other creative things along with the music—rather than cooking.

Obviously, as a wife and mother of six children, I did end up doing a lot of cooking and baking over the years!  My mother was wise.  She schooled me in the even more vital, life energizing creative things that bring grace, beauty, and elegance to those chores we have to do in the midst of life’s inevitable challenges.

I’m eternally grateful for both of my parents, and the older I get the more I think of them.  My father traveled frequently because the company he worked for (Lauson Motors in New Holstein Wisconsin/the company eventually became Tecumseh) was knee deep in wartime production.  But when Dad was home, he was my Dad!  He frequently came home with the gift of a book for me, and he always wanted to read whatever I had been writing.  The greatest boost I can recall was when, at age 11, I showed Dad an essay I’d written for a school assignment.  Dad read the text carefully, and said:  “You really think thoughts!”

I could go on forever and bore you readers to distraction about my delightful life, but I won’t.  I hope to stop short of causing abject ennuni!  Meanwhile, much as I have always thought New Year’s resolutions to be rather silly, I have set a goal for the coming year:

To constantly evoke a rather maudlin, corny old Bing Crosby tune the lyrics of which went:  “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative . . . “.  Not that I subscribe to “the power of positive thinking”.  Mankind is fallen, and without intervention of the life of Jesus Christ we are lost.  The power of positive thinking is hogwash.  I cannot eliminate ISIS by thinking.  We cannot change our nation, by just thinking; we must pray and WORK—and then only God’s Spirit will make a difference!  Just “thinking” will never deal with the horrendous world issues which our clueless, muddleheaded, and/or downright evil President refuses to acknowledge.

Only God can change the world, and eventually He will—as He has promised through ages of Old Testament prophecy confirmed by the Lord Jesus in the Gospels, as well as in the New Testament Epistles!  Meanwhile, as I pray and live as the Lord leads, I can—as old Bing crooned—“Accentuate the positive”.

Here is an example:  rather than continuing to spout off about Obama’s idiotic State of the Union address, or grousing about the Packers’ failure to complete their great start against the Seahawks last Sunday I can (and am!) robustly cheering Speaker John Boehner for his classic End Run around our President, by inviting Benjamin Netanyahu to address The House of Representatives on the threats of Iran and Islamic terrorism.  Clearly, the Seahawks—even Obama’s speech—fade into the back of my mind, next to Boehner’s Play of the Week—maybe the play of the year!

To summarize, my goal is to continually and faithfully focus on and publish good news.  But specifically, what do all these musings have to do with a piano day?  Simply this:  On my piano days I begin by struggling over the few Chopin nocturnes I can even dream of playing, adding some easier classics such as George Winston’s arrangement of Pachelbel’s beloved Kanon, lightening up with a Scott Joplin rag or two, and ending with my treasured book of Gospel hymns including Amazing Grace. 

AMAZING GRACE!  Forty four years ago almost to this very day, I was catapulted in the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  It was a bitter cold day in January of 1971 when I entered the Kingdom.  The sun pounding down on the pristine banks of snow was so bright, so exquisite, so unspeakably and amazingly beautiful that I still experience a flush of joy when I think of it.  And every time I play Amazing Grace, the wonder, brilliance, and joy of that day is new—all over again!

Salvation and eternal life in Christ.  That is the “positive” to accentuate, the Good News which tops all else—yes, even John Boehner’s Fabulous End Run around our misguided, muddleheaded, and possibly (quite probably!) evil President!  🙂

Margaret L. Been—January 22, 2015

Note:  Here is an aside:  my pick from the cast of GOP contenders for nomination is Dr. Ben Carson.  Someone new, someone non-political, someone with real straight arrow values—although others in the list, including our own Governor Scott Walker, project straight values as well.

In his book, ONE NATION, Dr. Carson begins by demonstrating how “political correctness” has undermined our nation, as it is literally killing freedom of speech and promoting dishonesty at many levels.  I can accentuate the fact that I positively agree 

Dr. Carson is outspokenly Biblical in his views on the sins of abortion and homosexuality.  He is not afraid to quote Scriptural references, and point to God’s Word as the ultimate authority.  Coming from a distinguished man of science, this is especially refreshing!

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