Archive for October, 2015

So beautiful . . . the crunch of wind-felled leaves, and chestnuts harvested from beneath their tree in the park, just a few feet from our front door.  No one else wants chestnuts, and the park lawn mower would destroy them if I didn’t get there first.

People stop and ask me what on earth I am doing.  When I offer chestnuts to them, they ask, “Can you eat them?”  Of course the answer is no—these are horse chestnuts, not real chestnuts as in “Chestnuts roasting o’er an open fire . . . .”

The next question is accompanied by dumbfounded looks.  “So what do you do with them?”  And my answer:  “I look at them, and hold them.  I have years and years of chestnuts all over our home.”

Now speech becomes abrupt, and the looks tend to get strained, as if the person who has paused in his or her stroll can’t get away fast enough.  “No thank you.”

I do share chestnuts with visitors, if I feel the gift will be welcome.  People who deliberately come to our home are not so apt to be freaked out by our lifestyle as those who whiz by on the park path.  Children invariably love chestnuts, just as I did when I was a kid sitting in our front-yard chestnut tree in Chilton WI.  In case you haven’t noticed, I’m still a child.  I never even began to grow up, and I certainly don’t intend to start now!

As you scroll down the page, you will see a plate brimming with some of this Autumn’s chestnut gleanings—gleaming like gorgeous polished wood.  And you’ll see many other glimpses of life in Nashotah, at that season when we once again spend more time indoors.  You’ll see tea party bits, some art, knitting, and some of our fun and funky home décor.

Joe and I are celebrating the many textures of Autumn, indoors and out.

Autumn 1

Autumn 3


Royal Doulton

Special things


Season of mellow fruitfulness 1

Fall Arrangement

Fall KnittingIndian Village again

And, in my estimation, the most painterly Autumn poem of all in our beautiful English language:

Ode to Autumn

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring?
Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies                         
                                                                  John Keats

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DAR Cert

It finally arrived—my official document of membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Months ago I blogged about Solomon’s will which I procured from the State of Illinois Archives in Springfield, as a part of the vetting process.

I have a favorite one-liner:  “If we hadn’t won our American Revolution, we’d be speaking EnglishThis is not meant only in jest.  I have an ongoing feud with the way too many Americans have desecrated the priceless language of Shakespeare and Milton.

I have no bone to pick with uneducated dialogue, that of recent immigrants, and any speech from families who were never exposed to correct grammar.  But I frequently hear college graduates and people who circulate in educated company say horrible things, especially in connection with pronouns—sentences like “Her and me went to the store.”

Yikes, good grief, and a string of expletives which rumble in my head but, having been raised to be a lady, I simply cannot utter! Her and me!”  Come on!  Hardly anyone would say, ” ‘Herwent to the store” instead of ‘she‘ “.  And who in the world would say, ” ‘Mewent to the store” instead of ‘I’ ?

Didn’t any third grade teacher drill into these word miscreants how to separate the pronouns into two sentences if there were any question of discerning object pronouns from subject?  Examples:  “She went to the store.”  I went to the store.”  Therefore: She and I went to the store.”  DUH.

Anyway along with English, American is spoken here and I’m happy to be descended from Farmer/Patriot Ebenezer Wood of Massachusetts.  Maybe Patriot Wood scrambled his pronouns, and possibly some individuals across the pond in Britain do today as well.  Scrambling in no way diminishes anyone’s value as a person created in God’s image.  Language just happens to be a fetish of mine, yet I can also make mistakes.  We are all in good company, as God was the original scrambler of language, at the tower of Babel.

Recently Joe and I watched the PBS series on the American Revolution.  I learned a touching fact that I’d never considered before—how, especially in the Southern Colonies, the war was often Citizen Rebel against Neighbor Loyalist rather than army against army.  Communities and sometimes even families were fractured in the fray.

The PBS documentary stressed the poverty of the Continental Army which was high on patriotism and valor but absolutely destitute when it came to food, footwear, and ammunition.  Except through direct intervention from God, all the valor in the world cannot prevail when an army is starving, barefoot, and empty-handed in the face of a well-trained, armed super-power!

We all know that France came through with bonds to feed, clothe, and arm the rebels.  But never—until recently when I came across his name in a book*—did I ever hear of Haym Salomon, the Jewish broker/financier who immigrated from Poland to America and literally financed the American Revolution by converting the French loans into cash by selling bills of exchange for the American Superintendent of Finance, Robert Morris.

You can GOOGLE Haym Salomon, to learn more about this amazing man who along with George Washington can be called, “The Father of Our Country”.  Not only did Salomon sponsor our nation with hundreds of thousands of dollars, but he contributed greatly to the Jewish community in Philadelphia—and he worked to end any vestiges of anti-Semitism in the Pennsylvania government.

Salomon had come to America from the Europe of persecution and anti-Semitic pogroms.  He envisioned an America that could drastically alter the quality of life for his beleaguered people.  According to Wikipidia, he answered anti-Semitic slander by the press with these words:  “I am a Jew, it is my own nation; I do not despair that we should obtain every other privilege that we aspire to enjoy along with our fellow citizens.”  Haym Salomon

Haym Salomon’s role in the founding of our nation should be published widely, in schools and wherever a discussion of the American Revolution occurs.  I plan to bring up his name as soon as the opportunity arises, at a meeting of the Daughters of the American Revolution!  And that is precisely why I joined the DAR:  for a vehicle through which to speak up and out about things that matter—issues of far more significance than scrambled pronouns! 🙂

Margaret L. Been — October 15, 2015

*The book that enlightened me concerning Haym Salomon is AS AMERICA HAS DONE TO ISRAEL, by John P. McTernan.

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of gluten, that is!

After a lifetime of tetchy symptoms which sometimes I haven’t even wanted to describe to my family doctor, after ER visits and colon surgery, after still more years of symptoms I finally got a brainstorm:  why not go gluten-free?!  The only other alternative was a colonoscopy—ASAP.

We have a granddaughter, Jamie, with celiac and her dad—our son, Eric—tested positive for that disease.  Although Eric had no symptoms, he immediately went gluten-free upon receiving his test results.  His other daughter, Nicole, had symptoms and has been thriving on a gluten-free diet for several years.  These are some of my close-of-kin.  It occurred to me that maybe the GI health issues started with my family line—so what not follow their dietary example?

It took thirty gluten-free hours for me to feel better than I can recall feeling for years.  I woke up one morning, and simply laid there in the bed thanking God and being AMAZED at how relaxed and “whole” my body felt.  I seemed (and still do seem) lighter than a summer breeze, and “float-y” without GI troubles.  Never mind my ortho issues which, like true love, go on and on,  When the gut is okay, other things fall into perspective.

And the food is GOOD!  Of course fruit, veggies (including potatoes), rice, dairy, eggs, peanut butter, chocolate, honey, candy and syrups, cornstarch gravies, plus meats are gluten-free.  Additional items—breads, cookies, crackers, gluten free pastas, flours, snack-y stuff, etc. are more readily available than ever before.

I can make coffee cakes from rice, tapioca, and sorghum flours—with cooked rhubarb or overripe bananas, eggs, sour milk, salt, baking powder and baking soda, brown sugar, and sometimes chocolate chips.  When I omit the chips, I drizzle a buttercream maple flavored frosting over the top.  Can’t be beat!

And a favorite dinner, Shepherd’s Pie:  a well-buttered casserole of cooked ground lamb and cooked mixed veggies mixed with gluten free gravy and topped with a humungous mound of buttered and seasoned mashed potatoes—baked until the potato mound is deliciously browned.

And another favorite dinner:  Cornish hen stuffed with onion, brown rice, salt, butter, and white pepper—topped with gravy.  (Gluten free packaged gravy is available, but one can easily bang out gravies and sauces with meat stock or whatever, and cornstarch.)  A whole new world of fun in the kitchen!

Joe enjoys the food as well.  I keep his sandwich bread plus ingredients for his favorite wheat flour desserts on hand.  We are not huge eaters, so the extra expense for special food goes a long way.  In fact, never having a full tummy is part of the solution for my GI comfort.  An occasional piece of fruit for a snack, and tiny meals—VOILÀ.  A new me, at age 82!  ↓  (I’m the one with the long hair.)

Margaret L. Been  —  September 27, 2015

art statement photo

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