Archive for the ‘Moving!’ Category

This is a CONDO?

When we moved from our up north home on fourteen acres nine years ago, into a four room condo in SE Wisconsin, family members and friends were raising eyebrows, rolling eyes, and just generally not quite believing it.  A CONDO?  Four rooms?  Joe and Margaret Been?

To back up a bit, I have a decades-old reputation for being an incurable (but very neat and well-organized) pack rat.  And my husband, Joe, via osmosis, has become a pack rat as well.  We would simply have to change and we probably would be miserable.  Ha ha.  That’s what they thought!

Well we didn’t change a bit.  We left a few things behind, but began adding new rummage and antique store stuff to our new digs within weeks after arrival in September, 2009.  We not only kept our space-consuming hobbies; we have added more.

Joe has a garage workbench area, and also works in his den.  He makes wooden models and flies drones.  My card table art work has morphed into sometimes 3 different work areas in our four rooms and many paintings which I’ve done since ’09, stashed everywhere.  A few years ago,  I began painting silk scarves.  Two spinning wheels occupy our living room and they are constantly whirring like there is no tomorrow.  My hand-made yarn dangles everywhere.

One friend was shocked to learn that I am still making soap—a couple hundred bars per year of drop-dead-beautiful complexion soap.  But all it takes is a stove top for melting fat, and a few standard kitchen supplies plus a small stash of molds, cosmetic grade color pigments, small bottles of fragrance oils, some sodium hydroxide, a few bottles of rendered fat which do not need refrigeration, a small scale, and some distilled water.

All of this equipment is stored in the kitchen.  My computer (Joe and I each have our own computers in our own private office areas) accesses the online sodium hydroxide calculator where I enter each oil by the number of ounces used, and the calculator computes the amount of sodium hydroxide and water needed for the recipe.  Not exactly pioneer stuff.  Sure glad for that!  Much of the soap stuff is stored in our dishwasher.  I dislike dishwashers!  With gorgeous antique dishes which are fun to wash, we never use a dishwasher for anything but storage—and it is GREAT for that!

Books continue to breed and multiply here, thanks to the hoards we moved with us, and dozens more thanks to Amazon, other online sources, ST. VINNIE’S and GOODWILL, and rummage sales.  Joe built a bunch of bookshelves, plus we have books stacked on the floor all over the place.  And plants!  And the piano.  Essential in our home!  And we will always have a play area with books and toys for our great-grandchildren, now numbering nineteen.

So you see, our family members were relieved, and friends (although shocked) are comforted to know that we are blissfully happy here in our four room condo.  No basement, but a garage crammed with odds and ends from our rummage and old furniture obsessions—and a delightful Granny’s Attic type storage closet which is under the upstairs neighbor’s stairs to his condo.  Heaven on earth, in Nashotah, Wisconsin!  🙂

Just scroll down for a tour.

Yes, it’s a CONDO!  Along with everything else that goes on here, we entertain A LOT!  Family and friends, right in the midst of art making, soap making, music making, reading, drone flying, etc.  Even sleeping!  A couple of weeks ago, I entertained nine ladies (including moi)—mostly friends from WAUWATOSA HIGH SCHOOL, class of 1951.  We chatted and ate our refreshments around the living room coffee table.  So delightful.

Often the dining room table is 1/2 full of art making, leaving only space for three diners.  So we simply dote on our dinner guests in the living room.  There are places for nine to comfortably sit with odds and ends of tables for plates and silverware.  Thankfully, both Joe and I came from interest-filled open homes where people came for coffee, tea, and/or dinner frequently, and loads of animated chatter.  Joe and I cherish this heritage, and believe it’s the only way to live!

I rarely bother to dust or clean other than a runaround with a vac and a swish of a woolly duster—and certainly never for company.  Just for fun when I feel like it.  Everything gets carefully spruced a few times per year whether it needs it or not.  Occasional cleaning projects are fun with Irish music blaring. 

Of course the exception is routine kitchen and bathroom maintenance which we do constantly just for the two of us because we are civilized and we like clean bathrooms and kitchens.

A home is a blessing to use, share (as much and as often as energy will permit), share and share again and again, and ENJOY!  And that we do—all four rooms plus two loos, one for Joe and one for me.

Margaret L. Been —  April 4th, 2018

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The mantel full of clocks pictured above is the realization of a little dream that cheered me on last summer, as I packed 280 boxes in preparation for our move to Southern Wisconsin.  As the box towers in our living room grew higher, and I grew weary from packing, I thought of how our clocks would cluster and grace the mantel of our electric fireplace in our new home.   

Each clock has a story behind it.  The large, antique clock on the left, with lions’ heads, was won at an auction–for a very reasonable bid.  The tiny wooden gem in front of the auction find was made for our 50th wedding anniversary by our friend, Lee Veldboom.  It’s a replica of a watch and fob, similar to what my grandfather always wore in his suit pocket.

The others featured in the front row, and the imitation flow blue clock on top of the antique one, were gifts from Joe for special occasions.  Our latest addition, the vintage percolator equipped with a clock face, was given to us by our daughter Laura for Christmas.  Keeping company with the clocks on the mantel are a calico cat, stacks of books, and a lamp.

Most of these clocks would function if I bothered to put batteries in them.  But strangely enough, I have a “thing” about clocks that don’t run.  I absolutely love them.  The concept of time standing still while capturing the essence of halcyon moments has great appeal for me.  My clocks represent memories frozen in time. 

The clocks speak to me of a major mission accomplished.  I reflect on the fact that we actually made this move.  I thank God for everything the move has implied in terms of proximity to family members and an easier lifestyle for Joe and me.  And I mentally salute the clocks–for the decorative vision they gave me during a stressful summer!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

Note:  I just wrote this entry on my new blog, http://northernview.wordpress.com/  and then decided to post it here as well, as this site is getting a great number of readers with whom to share our clocks.  🙂

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Beautiful Harvest--3

When one has just moved, little things mean a lot!  People are welcoming, and words can’t describe the fun of being back home with family members and friends after a delightful 8 year hiatus.

But my surroundings are important to me, as well.  Having been suddenly yanked from the woods, water, and sky that I dearly love, I’ve wondered if I’d be able to live creatively in Southern Wisconsin again–even though most of my life has been spent in this area.

In recent days, I’ve had an eclectic welcoming committee of “little things” that said, “This is right for you!  This is where you belong now.”  Here are some of those little things. 

Every where we go, in any direction, we pass farmers’ produce stands.  What is more welcoming than bounty from the fields–apples, squash, gourds, tomatoes, and musk melons that smell like a musk melon should?  Wonderful melons grow around our county–comparable, I think to the Rocky Ford, Colorado melons we enjoyed years ago when we lived in the west.

Yesterday a friend and I relaxed in our living room which looks out upon the expansive park.  Overhead soared a humungous bird, larger than a hawk.  Obviously we are too far south to see an eagle, so it had to be one of the many turkey vultures that breed a few miles south of us near our former home in the Southern Kettle Moraine Forest.

Today Joe and I saw a cluster of turkey vultures, circling and soaring high in the sky, looking for carrion:  nature’s undertakers, keeping the environment fresh and clean. 

Memories stirred and welcomed me home.  To once again see the turkey vultures brought back those decades when we lived here before, years when the sight of these impressive birds was a frequent  treat.

A few days ago, we rediscovered the local Ben Franklin store.  This may be the largest, most well-equipped store for crafters around.  I was thrilled to browse through the treasures and realize that only 7 minutes from my door I can shop for not only items for crafting, but art supplies as well.  I found some Yupo paper–a shiny “paper” made of plastic–which accepts watercolor paint without buckling, and affords amazing textural effects. 

A new-to-me painting ground plus today’s antique store find of the perfect desk (with shelves, a work area, and drawers) was all I needed to get back to normal living and resume painting.  I’ve spent the afternoon sloshing watercolors on Yupo paper. 

My cup is running over.  We are truly home.  The little things are helping us replant our roots!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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Sunday is visiting day

The above picture, titled “Sunday is Visiting Day”, was taken on a peaceful summer Sunday afternoon 2 years ago.  It depicts a neighbor whom we cannot take with us when we move, and a few of the many bottles which we can.

From nearly everyone our age, we hear a strange-to-us word:  “Downsizing”.  Downsizing is the stereotypical thing for folks our age to do.  Joe and I are “downsizing” in the sense of moving to a smaller home, with no yard to call our own.  Obviously some large furniture items will be left behind.

But when it comes to the items that go inside a home, we are definitely not stereotypical.  In fact, I really dislike the word “downsizing”.  It’s on my linguistic hit list, along with “simplicity”, “minimalism”, and “getting rid of clutter”.  To me, getting rid of clutter would mean getting rid of a joyous quality of life!

Just a little creativity will show you how much we’ll be able to cram into our 4 room condo.  The tangible tokens of memories will move right along with us.  I don’t believe in getting rid of a life–and that’s what “downsizing” would be for us. 

Nearly every object in our home has a story or association attached.  Of course, I ultimately can’t take it all with me.  But, as our granddaughter Alicia says, “That’s why we should enjoy it all now!

I expect some of you readers are saying, “It’s okay to move family heirlooms and “valuable” stuff.  But bottlesArizona Tea bottles?”  And I imagine this is being said in a tone that implies, “Are you nuts?”

Yes, I am nuts.  Nuts about bottles, and really nuts about Arizona Tea bottles.  They ring my chimes.  But in a sense, I am doing a tiny bit of “downsizing”.  From my collection of some 80 or 90 Arizona Tea bottles, I gave many to a neighbor who is a fellow junker and collector. 

For our condo, I saved out one of each design of Arizona Tea bottles.  (All right, with the exception of the Native American.  I’m keeping 2 or 3 of him, because he is so beautiful.) 

A plethora of boxes full of other kinds of bottles are packed and ready to move.  I amost, but not quite, wish I could bring the above-pictured Sunday visitor along with us.  Reason tells me that would be going too far in my desire to remain unique.  I’ll be contented with moving 2 large cartons full of my beloved, cuddly stuffed bears.

But Heaven preserve us from ever being stereotypical!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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More retreat center

Years ago when our children were babies, we had a squeaky board under our kitchen flooring–right in front of the range where I heated baby bottles.  As a bottle was heating, I would rock the baby in my arms while standing on the squeaky board. 

Invariably, the fussy little one would stop his or her hungry crying–seemingly mesmerized by the sound of the squeaky board.  The board was like a lullaby, and I appreciated the soothing “music” as much as the babies did–especially in the middle of the night.

The above-pictured porch glider squeaks, and reminds me of that long ago squeaky floor.  I rock on the glider, and recall all the porches and squeaky gliders that I’ve known.

Other soothing sounds in my past were the bang of a screen door, the thump of the rolling pin in action when my mom made her famous pie crust, and the cranking of old time outdoor pumps from which we drew water at my grandparents’ home–and at our summer cottage.  I’m rich in memories of old fashioned music.

Although our newly purchased home in Southern Wisconsin has a small enclosed patio where we could put our squeaky glider, we plan to leave it in place on the screen porch here–to enjoy when we come back for vacations.   

So what will we do for old fashioned music in our new home?  What can a condo possibly offer in the way of nostalgic sounds to slow us down and invoke memories of the past?

TRAINS!  Our new home in Nashotah, Wisconsin is 280 yards from a railroad track where many trains run during every 24 hours–and 3 or 4 of these trains run at night.  This might not be everyone’s dream come true, but it sure is ours. 

I blither just to think of the old fashioned music we’ll be enjoying in our new neighborhood.  And I warm to the anticipation of memories surfacing as trains whistle, clack, and rumble–practically right through the rooms where we will be living!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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Yesterday I woke up with a strong conviction.  Joe and I needed to spend a “day out”, away from our towers of cartons packed and waiting to be moved. 

We realized we’ve done nearly all we can until that last minute press (5 weeks from now) when a truck arrives to move our life.  Then we’ll have the fun of loading a few clothes, cooking pots, and a handful of dishes and silverware into the van–along with our precious corgi and the African violets.  Considering what we’ve managed to pack in just 3 weeks, a time out surfaced to the top of our priority list. 

We wound through the Chequamegon National Forest, far from electric and telephone poles and houses.  The roadsides are peppered with daisies, black-eyed Susans, butter and eggs, buttercups, and one variety (I’m not sure which) of liatrus.  The forest is deeply green and fresh, thanks to plenty of rain. 

Throughout the forest maples abound, and small shoots of new maples spring up along the roads.  Almost without fail, each baby maple I saw had red and gold leaves at the top.  Autumn comes and goes quickly in the northwoods, while winter waits quietly–ever ready to move in and stay for a long time.

As we traveled the forest roads it occurred to me that we never will really leave the northwoods.  It will always be here for us.  We hope to sell one of our two northern homes–and if we do, we’ll still have one home to welcome us on frequent visits.  And even if we were to sell both homes, the wild woods will remain.  There are cabins and B&Bs tucked away on hundreds of woodsy lakes in Northern Wisconsin.

We are in the process of “going home” to Southern Wisconsin, but we can always “come home” to our beloved north!

The circuitous drive eventually took us to Park Falls and the biggest library in our county.  I found 4 newly-published books on water color painting, and 2 new-to-me Louis L’Amour novels.

Our final destination was the little town of Glidden, another 20 miles up the pike from Park Falls.  Here we enjoyed huge bacon cheeseburgers at a favorite lunch spot–The Green Lantern.  This restaurant is decorated like our home, with antiques and an eclectic blend of dishes and collectibles.  There is a funkiness about the place:  a combination Gypsy, English tea room, 50s retro, Victorian, and chipped-paint-primitive atmosphere that soothes the soul and re-charges the imagination.  In fact, eating lunch there is almost like being at home! 

But everyone needs an occasional time out!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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Garden of the Gods -- Manitou Springs--2

It has been said that we leave a piece of ourselves behind every time we move.  That might be true, but I prefer the forward mindset:  we take pieces of wherever we have lived, wherever we go.

Many years ago Joe and I lived in a crooked little cabin, perched 4 layers of cabins up–on a foothill in Manitou Springs, Colorado.  From our bathroom window, we looked down on the Garden of the Gods.  From our living room window we were inspired by a view of Pike’s Peak.

Since then (1955), the Garden of the Gods and Pike’s Peak have been an integral part of me.  When we return to visit in that area, I feel like I’ve come home.

For 21 years we lived on 3 acres in the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest in Eagle, Wi.  When we left that area and moved north, I brought our back yard of prairie oak and hickory forest with me in my memory cache–along with the cornfields and apple farms abounding in Southeastern Wisconsin. 

Now we’re returning.  Once again we’ll hike our beloved Scuppernong and Emma Carlin trails in the Kettle Moraine.  Again I’ll wax euphoric over the sight and sound of tawny corn rustling in autumn, and the pungent aroma of apple farms.  I’m even mentally saucing our favorite apple, the MacIntosh.

What will we take with us of Northern Wisconsin when we move?  Myriads of sights and sounds:  a bay filled with ducks and Canadas in April; the demented call of the loon on a still, starry night, the fragrance of lake on a warm day; our river with its banks of Joe pye-weed and clusters of forget-me-nots nestled along the shore, and–never to be forgotten–the  numbing experience of a 35 degree below zero winter day.

Best of all, we’ll take the friends we’ve met here along with us in our hearts.  For me this will mean more snail mail letter writing–something I love to do.  Every place we’ve lived (14 so far), we’ve left richer than before we came–due to the people we’ve known and loved.  Many of these people are still close today, through correspondence.

So you see, we don’t lose by moving.  We gain!  Metaphorically speaking, we are rolling snowballs, collecting soul treasures and growing wherever we go.

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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pretty Dyl

Although I still call him “Baby”, our Pembroke Welsh Corgi is going on 6 years old.  That is 42 years old, in people years.  Baby Dylan is approaching middle age–and he’s headed for a doozy of a mid-life crisis. 

Dylan was born on a farm in Iowa.  We adopted him when he was 3 months old, and he’s been Wild Woods Dog–frolicking on 14 plus acres, ever since.  Now he’s in training to be Condo Dog.  He’s learning to walk on a leash, and (hopefully) to do a bit less barking whenever he sees something move outdoors.  Dylan is learning new tricks.

The upheaval of moving from country to community, from a medium size home to a compact condo, is challenging us to learn some new tricks, plus relearn a few old ones.  We think it’s a scream!  Sometimes I almost do scream!

For any who might be contemplating a change, here are some nuggets I’ve gleaned over the years, from the (as of now) 15 moves in our 56 years of marriage. 

Keep it light.  Not just the packing boxes, but the entire day.  Here’s an example:  I love huge novels.  I love ponderous novels.  I normally enjoy plowing into an author such as Dostoyevsky.  But not now.  Not in this place, at this time.

A couple of weeks ago I launched into a Dostoyevsky novel that I’d somehow missed over the years, THE IDIOT.  After picking up THE IDIOT a few times as a “relaxing break” from packing china and crystal, I decided to shelve that book for the duration. 

Next winter when we’re (hopefully) settled in our new home and the snow is piling up outside, I’ll return to Dostoyevsky.  Now I’m luxuriating in Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey.  For some odd reason, cattle drives, mother lodes, and bar room brawls are about all I can handle at the moment–along with an Agatha Christie or Ngaio Marsh.

Most anything can be packing material.  Bubble wrap, tissue paper, and sturdy paper toweling are great–but there never seems to be enough of the conventional wrappings.  And the cost runs up fast. 

Along with all of the above, I pack in whatever I can get my hands on:  sweaters, sweatshirts, long underwear, winter skirts, wool from my spinning stash, fabric from my material stash, towels, cloth place mats, table cloths and aprons (yes, I have loads of these and I use them–June Cleever that I am), supermarket bags, the wrappings we tear off of the bubble wrap and tissue paper, hats, scarves, pillow cases, etc.

Everything but newspaper.  Yuck!  Dirty, smudgy newspaper will never touch our dishes and glassware.  And anything but those foam thingies that fly all over the room and stick to stuff!  Double yuck!

Fun and games are important.  Summer is summer, whether we are moving or standing still.  Time out for Cribbage keeps us from taking life too seriously. 

Our daughter, Martina, is visiting from Nigeria for a few days.  We are playing Scrabble and Anagrams way past my bedtime–sometimes up until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m.  A summer without games would be like a summer without sun and rain.  Incomplete!

Entertaining is vital to our health and well-being.  I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll say it again.  Pausing when guests drop in, serving a beverage or simple snack, taking time to visit–these are the mellow aspects of life that should never be overlooked, no matter how chaotic our physical surroundings may seem.  Moving is all about things.  Living is all about people!  Balance is maintained through the pleasant visits we share with friends. 

We walk often.  Dylan’s new regimen is beneficial to Joe and me as well.  There is nothing quite like a walk for maintaining a sense of physical and mental well being.  And the 3 of us enjoy doing something together.

We purpose to enjoy the trips.  It will take several round trips of nearly 600 miles, to move our household.  This fact is nothing to bite nails or grind teeth over.  There’s beauty along the way.  There’s good food along the way.  There’s companionship along the way.  All of life is a journey.  The trick is to enjoy each mile, rather than stress out over “getting there”.

We savor the moment.  Tomorrow is always uncertain, but we have today.  And moving can be fun when you know a few tricks!

Of course the most essential ingredients of any day and any venture are not tricks.  Prayer and time spent in God’s Word are so integral to life, they are givens–like breathing and drinking water.  Yet they cannot “go without saying”.

Starting each day with Scripture reading prepares me for whatever lies ahead.  All facets of our move and life–every encouraging step as well as the disappointments, frustrations, and setbacks–are given to the Lord and left with Him, in His capable hands.

Packing time is great praying time.  Intercession for others and prayer for the issues in our own lives are “silver and gold”.  Prayer and the fruit thereof will last for eternity.

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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