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Archive for the ‘Mother’ Category

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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Reflections on Home

®®New Play Area

My philosophical mother left me with many quotes on which to ponder, one of them being:  “It takes all kinds of people to make a world.”

That certainly is a fact, as each of us was created to be unique.  Each of us is an original piece of art.  Although we may have similarities we were not intended to be prints or reproductions of another human.

I try to understand other people whose style and preferences differ from mine, and it’s just plain fun to discover whom people are and what “makes them tick”.  Perhaps the best way to get acquainted with another person is by visiting in that individual’s home.  I want to believe that most people who spend considerable time in their homes have some pastime they love, some kind of a life within their walls.  This life may be reflected via the books on the shelves, the cookbooks and appliances in the kitchen, baskets and tables overloaded with crafting supplies, the presence of houseplants indoors and gardens outside the windows, a dog or cat (or both), and of course a musical instrument—perhaps more than one.  The presence of art on the walls and family photos on shelves and tables says a lot—if indeed the walls, shelves, and tables are laden with pictures which are worth a thousand words.

But occasionally when visiting a home I draw the proverbial blank.  No books, no projects, no art to reveal a period or style of interest, no messes, no pets, no plants beyond the “tastefully correct” one or two—potted in matching, stylized planters rather than those ice cream buckets and COOL WHIP® containers which frequently hold my overflow of greenery.  Not even a happily messy computer corner!  Sadly, only one piece of equipment normally characterizes the apparently wasteland homes:  that ubiquitous television.

Quite possibly, the homes which appear sterile, sans personality, may not actually be like that at all.  When one is a guest, one seldom sees all the nooks and crannies.  In the most generic of furniture store homes, there are apt to be hidden away places where the residents read, craft, make music, or whatever.  As interested as I am in people and their lifestyles, I certainly don’t want to be crass and ask to see their hidden recesses—the NO ENTRY zones of a house.  So I give my host or hostess that benign benefit of the doubt.  Certainly they have some life passion, some activity that causes them to jump out of bed each day and say “HELLO, WORLD!”  Probably my host and hostess simply have chosen not to divulge exactly whom they are and what they are about.

I accept the preference for anonymity, and I understand that I may be the odd one in today’s world.  I LOVE to share.  I love to be transparent—an open 1000 page book with loads of information on every page.  As much as I love to know, I love to be known.  And as far as I know, that’s the way life was originally intended to be!  Unlike that pair in the Garden after the fall, I have absolutely no desire to hide from God or anyone else!

Meanwhile, since Joe and I have moved into a four room condo it is easier than ever for visitors to ascertain what we are all about.  Our interests pervade every corner of our home, for all to see and enjoy.  We have never had more of ourselves on our walls, tables, shelves, and floors—and we are delighted beyond expression with the overflowing abundance of our current time of life.  Crowded, YES!  Even CLUTTERED—although to me “clutter” bespeaks random chaos, and I will have none of that.

Tidiness and order rule the day, and we can always stuff one more meaningful object into the order of our home.  Minimalist gurus (who for some odd reason find no significance in memories manifested all around them, no joy in the colors and textures of a life well-lived) will call us “hoarders”.  I call us “LOVERS OF LIFE”!  Thus the spinning wheels (which really spin beautiful yarn from luxuriously fleeced sheep’s wool) lurk behind a favorite easy chair, accompanied by baskets of wool and more baskets of yarn—plus needles and other accoutrements of knitting.

My piano hosts an assortment of music books—and musical scores printed out and taped together so that I can play without turning pages.  Our kitchen contains the necessaries—toaster, coffee pot, blender, crockpot—plus a representation of bygone eras in funky kitchen collectibles.  Our dining area buffet serves as a display area for my soap industry—while hundreds more soaps are stacked in drawers and stored in huge plastic bins under furniture and in closets.

Our bedroom is also my art studio, with a messy table for acrylics, collaging, etc., and another table for watercoloring.  Crammed into a bedroom corner is my writing studio with my very own laptop, printer/scanner, and voluminous files (I will always love paper).

My husband’s den is his bit of Heaven on earth with the TV, his own computer/printer/scanner, filing cabinet, posh reclining chair (suitable for snoozing on), and even a daybed for that occasional afternoon “lie down”.  Joe keeps his clothes in a dresser and closet in his den, while our enormous bedroom closet houses my clothing plus bins and shelves laden with more soap and somewhere between 600 and 800 paintings.  I tell our children they’ll have a post-humous fortune on their hands some day.  (Obviously, I’m joking!  My art is amateur stuff, paying dividends of endless and infinite fun!)

Both living room and bedroom have indoor garden areas—with tropicals in the east facing patio door, and succulents in our south facing bedroom window.  And everywhere are BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS.  Shelves groan with books, tables support the weight of them, and floors feature book towers in every room.

All of that—including a zest for collecting with a partiality for Victorian era art glass produced by our great American 19th century glass companies, English china, and most anything vintage and funky—goes a long way toward telling our guests whom we are, in this happiest of homes which I’m inviting you to tour with me today!

The above play area is a magnet for our great-grandchildren (16 children, ages 10 and under) who visit whenever they can.  And my happy little kitchen beyond.  (Actually, it’s Joe’s kitchen for the duration of my post-surgical, arm-in-sling adventure.)

Fiber studio

My fiber studio resides behind a living room easy chair.  The spinning wheels are not for “show” (although they are very beautiful, made from cherry wood).  The spinning wheels spin, and produce luxury yarns for sweaters, scarves, and hats.  Years ago, Joe made the pine dry sink for me.  It houses my collection of English flow blue china and my Grandma Kate’s English (Aesthetic Period—circa 1885) Indus wedding dishes featuring graceful birds and foliage reminiscent of the British Empire in India.

Most of the baskets in our home are homemade.  The one with the coral insert is an Irish potato basket, and below it with gorgeous ultra-marine blue/violet fleece inside is an egg basket—both crafted by moi.  The larger basket, in the style of Wisconsin Native Americans’ basketry, was woven by our daughter-in-law, Cheri Been.

make art

One of the many perks in our condo home is the fact that Joe and I each have our very own bathroom.  What fun is that!  Joe’s is the larger of the two, and it contains a shower which he loves.  (I HATE showers, probably because they remind me of that most detested of all scenarios—high school gym class!)  I have a tiny bathroom, but it contains a TUB (one of the great loves of my life).

I painted the blotchies on the upper walls, and our grandson, Tyler Been, painted the gorgeous New Mexico-ish red lower walls.  This is my Louis L’Amour bathroom—replete with cowboy pictures, and photos of family members on horseback.  As you can see on the above left, I have hung some of my own Southwestern art here as well.

TPJ 2

Here is another shot of my sweet loo.  The Civil War era folding chair is a family heirloom, with needlepoint painstakingly stitched by my mother many decades ago.  I treasure the no-longer-available glass ARIZONA TEA® bottles, plus my collections of all things horsey and Western.  (The oil painting on the left is not mine.  It was a rummage sale prize, unearthed a few years ago.)

Art 3

The messy inner sanctum of my studio is open to all who venture here, since we always have our company put their wraps on our bed.  That’s an old fashioned thing to do, perhaps dating back to when closets were not so prevalent as they are today.  To me, wraps on the bed are the most gracious way to go.

soap 5

No home photo shoot would be complete without a glimpse of my soap.  I brag about my soap way too much.  It’s excellent, and we have used nothing but my home made soap since 1976.  Today my soap is far removed from that crude stuff the pioneers made over an open fire, using fat drippings from their slaughters and kitchen grease cans.

I use the finest vegetable oils (olive being the Lamborghini of oils!) and pure, rendered tallow—all of which I purchase online from COLUMBUS FOODS in Chicago.  High grade cosmetic pigments go into the soap for color, plus quality fragrance oils.  I have online sources for these ingredients, as well.  Soap making is an expensive hobby, well worth ever drop of cash and elbow grease involved!  And we saponifiers always have a beautiful gift to offer our family members and friends—the gift of the finest soap.

Ambience (2)

Old painted furniture, dried hydrangeas, British India style shelves, platters and bowls which don’t fit in cupboards and thus are relegated to the floor, family photos, sparkling glassware including Vaseline glass with glass fruit, cookbooks, a teapot and cups and saucers (just a few of a plethora about the home), and a toy bear (also one of many) co-exist in happy harmony.

Now if you happen to be thinking, “This is really weird!” just remember:  “It takes all kinds of people to make a world!”

Margaret L. Been, 2013

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Photo:  circa 1937.  How I love the vintage furniture, doors, and carpet!  But most of all, I love the lady pictured there beside the chunky little kid whom I once was.  My mother was a Victorian, born in 1896 and she lived to age 93.  I cherish memories of her, and think of her every day of my life.  As I “mature”, I frequently add new recollections to my treasure câche of nostalgia. 

Lately I’ve been recalling how she had me memorize Psalms 1 and 23, starting when I was about the above pictured age.  Every night at bedtime, I recited these Psalms to her.  What an imprint.  When you consider those Psalms you realize that they beautifully summarize great truths of Scripture.  Psalm 1 speaks of man’s condition—both with and without the Lord in one’s life, and Psalm 23 (the most beloved of all!) speaks of the Lord’s tender care for each of His sheep.

Then Mother taught me a little verse, which was added to my bedtime repertoire: 

“My heart is God’s little garden

And the flowers blooming there each day

Are the things He sees me doing

And the words He hears me say.”

Anonymous

I recited these gems to my mother until I went off to college.

Mother was equanimity personified.  She NEVER raised her voice, NO NEVER.*  She didn’t have to.  She “walked quietly and carried a big stick”.  The big stick was used when necessary, which in my case was fairly often as I was a bit of a rip. 

While I grew up, Mother brushed and braided my hair every morning—with the possible exception of Saturdays.  This was a giant step, in keeping me “under control”.  I was a melodramatic kid who fancied myself a wild Gypsy—and I had the dark, snaggly thick mane to go with my cherished self-image.  Mom was committed to keeping me from looking and acting like the turbulent thing I liked to think I was.

Although she would always take a stand against anyone advocating or doing something that was morally or ethically wrong, my mother NEVER said an unnecessarily unkind word about anyone—NO NEVER.  Her patience with other humans was incredible.  Often, if a derogatory remark was made about someone, Mother would say, “But she means well.”  When she decided that someone definitely did not “mean well”, she would simply sigh and remark, “It takes all kinds of people to make a world”.

Only one contradictory sentence ever shadowed Mother’s attitude of forgiveness and goodwill, and it was a very funny one indeed.  Over and over throughout the years, I heard her say, “God gave us our relatives; thank God we can choose our friends.”

I hesitate to employ that one liner myself, because my relatives are precious—they are my best friends.  But Mom did have some overbearing relations.  When reviewing Mother’s life with her pastor before her memorial service, I mentioned the “Thank God we can choose our friends” statement—and he laughed so hard he nearly fell off his chair.  He wanted to include that in Mother’s eulogy, but I firmly said “NO”.  A couple of remaining, ancient relatives would be at the memorial service and I didn’t want anyone miffed at the eleventh hour of that venerable Victorian generation!

On past Mother’s Day entries, I listed many wonderful things about my mother—how she was proud of her Scottish and Irish heritage, and how she was a hard worker who trained her children to work as well.  Mom loved her family and friends, and her loyalty was peerless. 

I inherited a lot from this amazing woman—either through the genes or from example.  Mother loved all of life, from the largest creature down to the smallest bird or butterfly.  She loved cats and dogs, classical music, classical poetry, tea parties, antique glassware, and dressing up every day

Before my marriage, Mother said, “Don’t ever let your husband come home at night and find you in the old clothes you’ve been wearing for cleaning and gardening.  Always dress up, and remember to re-fix your hair and face at least once during an evening—especially after dinner!”  This advice is branded in my heart and soul, and it’s an integral part of my life. 

Returning to Mother’s spiritual input in my life, I often recall how—when I was around 6 years old—she told me about the early Christian martyrs in Rome.  She told how they were put into the arena with hungry lions, and how they (the Christians, not the lions) sang hymns as they were being carried off. 

Now isn’t that a strange thing to tell a 6 year old kid?  But I’m grateful that she did!  The essence of the story stuck with me throughout the years.  When I became a Christian believer, at age 37, I began to reflect on that account—and I realized that whatever God was going to allow in my life would be undergirded and enabled by His Grace!  Lions are pretty terrifying, but God has conquered fear!

I think of Mother every day.  Recent Mother’s Days have been accompanied by a kind of inner aching because I don’t have her here.  But I will be seeing her again, FOREVER!  How fantastic is that!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

*I grew up in such a “rose garden”, that I never heard anyone yell—except in a film, or at an exciting basketball game.  But there was one exception in the rose garden.  I heard my father shout—vehemently!—when my older sister brought home a young Communist whom she was dating at UW, Madison. 

Dad and the young Communist (who was fomenting revolution) had a deep discussion, and Dad SHOUTED!   This was very exciting to me, as it appealed to my sense of melodrama.  The fracas also imprinted some strong political views in my head!

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An unseasonably warm spell with lots of sunshine inspires visions of spring.  Certainly we will have more winter.  We could have the blizzard of the century anytime in the next two months, and perhaps even in April.  But today we have 56 minutes more daylight than we had at the December solstice.  The sun is pounding into our sheltered garage opening.  Joe and I sat there this morning, basking in the ultra violet.  Regardless of whatever lies ahead, today we are celebrating our official Opening Day of Sun Bathing, 2012—although only our faces were exposed to the welcome warmth.

I love this season, when each week brings a fresh reminder that winter will give way to spring:  extra daylight, the chick-a-dee’s melodious “chick-a-dee-dee-dee”, a fresh earth fragrance emerging from melting snow.  Every year about this time I recall childhood seasons, and the late winter/early spring tonic administered by my mom.

Born twelve years before the widespread civilian use of penicillin, I grew up on remedies bequeathed by my two grandmothers who were gatherers of herbs and proponents of natural potions.  We had one tonic which was very sound, medically speaking, but not much fun to imbibe—cod liver oil.  I always felt like hiding out somewhere at cod liver oil time. 

But the late winter/early spring tonic!  That was a treat!  Whatever herbs went into the concoction are lost to my memory, but they must have been bitter to begin with because what I do recall is molasses—lots of molasses resulting in a spoonful of something incredibly delicious and sweet. 

Undoubtedly the tonic contained a source of vitamin C, much needed for the immune system as late winter/early spring always set the stage for potentially tragic dramas:  measles, mumps, whooping cough, chicken pox, diptheria, and scarlet fever—spelled out in capital-lettered warning signs on the front doors of homes where disease lurked within. 

I thought of Seasons Past today, as I mixed a beverage with the above-pictured ingredients.  All the good stuff is there—fruit juice with nutrients and sugar, a package of Emergen-C powder, ice cubes, and Sierra Mist® for more sugar and a bit of fizz.  Rather than just a spoonful, I get to enjoy a tumbler of tonic for the Season Present!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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I think most of us have them—days when we feel lackluster and out of sync.  Thankfully, I have never had anything remotely close to textbook or clinical depression.  But once in awhile I just feel “off”!  Today is kind of like that.  My 2nd cataract surgery is scheduled for this afternoon, so I’m experiencing a day without beverages.  Coffee, tea, ice water, juice, Sierra Mist®, etc. are off limits for me until post-op.  Never mind that I can’t eat as well.  Going without food for a day is no hardship.  But how I do love those beverages!

After morning prayer and Scripture reading, what do I do with an off day?  I have some good remedies.  Although my music emphasis and training over the years have focused on classical, I have one passion of a different sort:  RAGTIME!  A book of 18 Scott Joplin rags is a joy to me most any day.  On an off day, The Entertainer is a lifeline—sure to make me smile as I play it.  The other rags in the collection are a bit more challenging,  but I’m working on some of them.  Nothing like a little syncopation to get a person back in sync!

When I think ragtime, I recall a long ago friend named Wayne.  Wayne had huge hands, and he played the double bass in our Wauwatosa High School orchestra, where I played the violin.  He also played a great piano.  Frequently, when Wayne was in our neighborhood he would stop and perform The Twelfth Street Rag for my mom and me.  Mother was a classical pianist, but she also enjoyed a good rag—and she loved the young friends who came to call.  We would drop whatever we were doing, and listen raptly to Wayne shaking the room with The Twelfth Street Rag.

My other off day ruse is not as much fun as ragtime, and I’m about to embark on it.  I’ll clean up my household business office, file receipts and paid bills, etc.  My first paid job was that of file clerk for the Wisconsin Electric Power Company, in the Workman’s Comp Division.  I realized early in life that as humdrum as filing may be, it’s necessary. 

Once the filing is done, it will be nearly time to go for the surgery.  After that, another “new eye” and all the beverages I want!  That will be the end of my off day.  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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I frequently meet for lunch with friends from high school; now we are talking about friendships of 60 plus years!  Old friends are comforting and comfortable.  One never needs explain oneself to old friends.  They know who you are.  They know who your parents were.  They recall your youthful endeavors and dreams.  If you’ve kept in touch with old friends as I have, they’ve tracked with you over the years.  They still know who you are today!

New friends are delightful as well.  Often they come from different locales and family backgrounds. New friends share our interests while widening our perspective and understanding of other places and traditions.

My wise mother once said, “Throughout the years you will have a variety of friends.  Each one will be unique in a special way.”

How true!  I have a friend who shares my love for gardens, rummaging, and English cottage decor—and another friend with whom I could literally spend a long day into the evening, discussing books and films:  not only the plots or subjects of books and films but the characterization, character development, character changes, psychological overtones and undercurrents, humor and pathos, irony and subtle innuendoes, historical significance, literary allusions, and metaphorical content.

I have friends who share my love for God’s Word, friends who are fellow fans of dogs and cats, friends who identify with my passion for nature and the out-of-doors, kindred poet-friends who savor gathering for a morning of reading aloud, friends who entertain me with tales of their travels, knitting friends, spinning friends, music-loving friends, friends who relish meeting for a day of making art, friends who share my passion for Israel and Ireland, friends with whom I can laugh, and friends with whom I can cry. 

A friend is one who knows your heart, and encourages you in those creative pursuits which mean the most to you.  A friend is never sarcastic.  A friend desires what is best for you, and responds accordingly in actions and speech.   

Daily I pray that I can always be a friend!  🙂

©2011, Margaret L. Been

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My Dad and MOM—Ernst and Ruth Longenecker, 1968  ↑

Our children, with Joe and me—2009:  Karl, Debbie, Laura, Joe, Margaret, Judy, Eric, and Martina  ↑

When I was 9 years old I thought I wanted to be a detective like Nancy Drew (with a yellow roadster) and a singer like Hildegarde* (with a swanky long black dress), when I grew up. 

Then at age 16, I met Joe Been and never looked back.  I wanted to be a wife and MOM!  No regrets!  (I did once have a yellow SUBARU, but I hardly ever wear black!)

Happy Mother’s Day!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, 2011

*Hildegarde the 1940s night club singer, not Hildegard the famous circa 1098-1179 nun. 

The singer Hildegarde was born in New Holstein, Wisconsin, 8 miles from my home town of Chilton.  With my parents, I saw and heard her perform at a conference at the Palmer House in Chicago–and decided I wanted to be such a chic, sophisticated lady someday.  🙂

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