Archive for the ‘Photo Albums and Scrapbooks’ Category

Looking at pictures has been a popular form of recreation ever since the invention of photography, and before that throughout the centuries of capturing people and scenery via sketching and painting. 

When I was growing up, one still found stereopticons on coffee tables.  For those who do not haunt antique shops, a stereopticon was a wood and wire thingy in which a double image (often of a travel scene) was inserted into a holder.  The viewer held the stereopticon to the light and slid the wire holder until the images came together.  (If I haven’t clarified that concept, just GOOGLE “stereopticon” and you’ll see it for yourself.)

During the 1930s and early 40s we had albums of tiny photos taken with a primitive Brownie camera, and also 8 mm family movies.  Later my dad bought high tech cameras with multi dials, settings, filters, and lenses—the likes of which I could never figure out in a million years!  Then Dad graduated to making 16 mm movies, and finally to slides and a slide projector.  Slides were the “picture shows” of the 1960s.  Many an evening one had to sit and watch someone’s slides of what seemed like every single cathedral in Europe!

Joe and I skipped the video cassette stage, and kept on taking photos with a Minolta® automatic 35mm which served us well right up to a few years ago with the onset of digital cameras.  Now we can sit and view the cathedrals of Europe on friends’ ubiquitous laptop computers.  Likewise, I can potentially bore my friends to distraction with my computer full of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Nonetheless, a picture show is a fun and sharing way to spend a social hour!  At the rist of boring you to distraction (I hope not!) here are some of our family classics:

Our son, Karl, at age 13 in 1975.  When Karl was younger, he looked a lot like John Denver.  Now Karl no longer has a John Denver haircut, but guess where he lives:  you’ve got it, Denver.  (Actually, Centennial which is on the south side of Denver.)  Karl still enjoys that natural “rocky mountain high” depicted in the above New Mexico scene.  I think those are the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the background.


The two on the right are Karl’s sons, Nathaniel and Joelly, teaching their 1st cousin-once-removed, James, how to be silly.  It seems to come naturally, even for those of us who do not live in or near the Rocky Mountains!


Going back many years, here is my favorite wild west character.  I don’t know if he’s a cowboy, gunslinger, or U.S. Marshall, but I love him and have been married to him for nearly 58 years!


About the same time as the cowboy photo was taken, an adventuresome kid was racing (I think it was a 2 horse power engine) around Lake Winnebago—Wisconsin’s biggest inland lake.  Life jackets were something used in the Navy; we never had them when I was growing up.  And look at that!  We wore dresses in boats, at least I did! 


Fast forwarding to 2004, our Baby Dylan did not have his legal “temps” (and still doesn’t).  But a lot of youngsters have learned to drive on the remote sand roads of the Chequamegan National Forest in the Wisconsin Northwoods. 


Now it’s 2007 in the picture show.  I was supine on our living room couch—recovering from a roast pork, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pie dinner at the Phillips’ Cafe when this Sunday visitor dropped in.  I’ll be forever thankful that I had my camera handy!  🙂


You’ve seen this one before and you may see it again!  Great-grandchildren! 

We have 5 more wonderful great-grandchildren not featured here.  I’ll publish the other five as soon as I get some photos of them from their moms. 


Ooops!  Here are 2 more “classics” which recently came in from a friend.  These photos date back to 1982, when we were getting hay for my sheep.  Can you believe we did that (22 bales!) to a vehicle?  And drove the 6 or 7 miles home? 

Margaret L. Been

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“We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”  George Bernard Shaw

What a profound truth!  I know people who think and act “old”, simply because they stopped playing long ago.  And, conversely, I know individuals in their 90s who are still “young”, because of an interest in life and a passion for hobbies and creative play.  My own father lived to be 102, and enjoyed life nearly until the end when his eyes gave out and he could no longer read!  

Creative play is one of our greatest gifts, as we were made in the image of a creative God.  People who have never learned to play are bored, and they are apt to be boring!

I’m thankful to have had parents who realized the intrinsic value of play!  I’m thankful for years of gluing, cutting, coloring, digging in mud (nearly to China!), and grubbing for tadpoles in the river which bordered my childhood home. 

I’m thankful for a mom who let me keep the tadpoles in a fish bowl in our kitchen (until the critters lost their tails and sprouted legs; then they went back to the river). 

I’m grateful for the live Easter bunny I received one year, and for always having a dog to cherish.  I’m thankful for litters of kittens who entertained our family with their antics, back in the halcyon days when cats were allowed to roam at large and actually act like cats! 

I’m thankful for my mother’s huge box of elegant velvet and taffeta evening gowns from the early 20th century, for her plumey hats and beaded reticules—and for countless rainy afternoons of spreading these garments all over the room and dressing up in them.  (My friends and I were allowed to play “Dress-ups” in my parents’ bedroom, because my mother had a full length mirror before which we could parade, primp, and be absolutely silly!)

I pray that—whatever happens in the future—I’ll never grow too old to create at least some little thing with my hands.  I pray I’ll always have a spirit of pizzazz and panache for living, no matter what!  And I pray that, to the best of my ability, I’ll never stop playing!   🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2010

Note:  I recently posted the above entry on my Northernview blog, and am putting it here as well.  As I face a major surgery next week, play seems more important than ever to me!  My plans for knitting, collaging, and painting projects will carry me a long way to recovery!

When we have things we love to do—creative activities that stretch the mind, imagination, and hands—we can always manage to focus outward rather than inward!  🙂

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When I was in grade school, teachers frequently gave the assignment to write on the subject of “My Pet Peeve”.  That’s about as much “getting in touch with our feelings” as we were supposed to do, back in those sensible days before introspective self-focus was the norm. 

I often think of that assignment, because I do have a Pet Peeve—and I like to write about it, in order to let off some proverbial steam.  My Pet Peeve is anyone who gets all hoity-toity about “getting rid of clutter”.  It’s fine to get rid of clutter if that’s what you really want to do.  I respect that!  But please don’t pontificate—as if divesting oneself of collections were a kind of saintly thing to do.  I’ve aired this issue via my blog before, and I’ll do it again!  🙂

PAH!  What does getting rid of clutter have to do with a gracious, mellow, slow-lane quality of life?  Nothing! Clutter is the grist of a life fully experienced:  the tangible evidence of people cherished, occasions recalled, creativity nurtured, and imagination unleashed. 

Clutter equals fun.  Although we certainly are not to put our faith in stuff that moths can eat and rust can destroy, or worship things as if they were eternally valuable, we have been put on planet earth to make life lovely and interesting for those around us.  We owe it to our fellow man (and woman and child) to create an environment that is fun, funky, and pleasant.  God has given us life!  It’s fitting and proper to respond with gratitude, by wholeheartedly expressing la joie de vivre.  Therefore, let us celebrate clutter!

Obviously, the happy detritus of life needs to be organized.  Organization is a DUH, and one of life’s great joys!  I love organizing clutter nearly as much as I love accumulating the clutter to begin with!  And my husband has always built the most wonderful shelves for me, in nooks and crannies of wherever we’ve lived.  Pictured above, is the storeroom in our condo—all mine!  Joe completed the shelves this week, and I’ve had a time of euphoria, settling in.

Everything is conveniently “to hand” in my storeroom:  boxes of photos, scrapbooking paraphernalia, writing files not currently in use in my studio, gifts and gift wrap, soapmaking supplies, our electric pancake griddle, my canes for those rough “ortho days” when I grope around like Quasimodo, my broom and woolly dusters, dog food, dog meds, and a whole lot more.  My storeroom thrills me so much, that sometimes I just step inside and GAZE!

Even in compact surroundings, like a condo or small apartment, there is always room for stuff we enjoy—along with creative options for display.  One of my favorite contemporary authors is writer/photographer Mary Randolph Carter whose home in a Manhattan high rise apartment is filled with family mementoes and “junk” culled from rummages, resale shops, etc. 

In her recent book, FOR THE LOVE OF OLD, Carter has a chapter titled “The Secret Cupboard”—with charming photos of a pine cabinet in her home where she has arranged childhood treasures, books, some of her sons’ baby garments, etc.  Her cabinet is kind of a mini-attic.

I love this concept of a memory display cupboard, and I’ve created exactly that in an Edwardian era side-by-side in our dining area.  The side-by-side is packed with little things which our children and grandchildren have made for me, or given to me, over the years—and toys which they loved when they were younger.  When the great-grandchildren visit I encourage them to handle the treasures, and I share the stories.  Here are some glimpses of what I’ve named “Grammy’s Museum”: 

I believe we all need an “attic” of some sort, at least a few memory-packed shelves where we can experience REALITY!  The sterile, fast-lane, “get rid of clutter” mentality is not real—and certainly not conducive to a relaxed quality of life!

Wherever Joe and I live, our entire home is our “attic”—filled to overflowing with evidence of life well lived!  And as long as we are still here on earth, there’s room for more! 

Margaret L. Been—All Rights Reserved

P. S.  Nostalgia!  As I grew up we had a summer cottage, with no running water for drinking. One of my chores* was to pump buckets of water from an outside well, and store the water in a milk can in our kitchen. 

A dipper hung by the milk can, supposedly to be used only for transferring water from the can to our drinking glasses.  We were not “allowed” to drink from the dipper.  But guess what?  We always did, when we thought no one was looking!

Because of childhood memories, dippers are precious to me.  Hence my collection of dippers, pictured below, hangs over our kitchen sink.  Sometimes I grab a dipper and drink from it, whether anyone’s looking or not! 

*My other chores at the summer cottage were emptying the slop buckets (our night-time “toilets”) into the outhouse and cleaning the outhouse.  My folks knew how to be parents!  🙂

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The two circa 1967 flower children happen to be our son Karl (as he used to say, “bare topping”) and his lifelong friend John (the one with the T-shirt).  I guess I’ll have to tell these guys, now in their 40s, that one of their childhood Kodak moments is on “Candid Internet”.

For years this shot (which would delight any mother’s heart) was accessible only when blown up on a screen (or white sheet) from a slide projector.  But recently my husband scanned a plethora of slides from our children’s tender years into his computer. 

From there the slides-turned-prints went on a memory stick, and now they are also on my computer.  A whole new era of family photos has been unleashed–as I’m printing these out on glossy photo paper in preparation for sticking them into albums.  Making prints is fun, especially when you live where there are 5 or 6 months of winter. 

We have stacks of photo albums starting with those containing early family snapshots taken with an ancient Brownie camera.  The Brownie snaps sufficed until the 1960s when suddenly slides were the thing.

Now the slide gap has been spanned, as explained above.  After slides, came the years from 1972 through 2006 when I went through 2 Minolta automatic 35mm cameras, and took enough snapshots to paper the walls and ceilings of a 500 room castle.  (I love hyperbole, don’t you?)

Our early photo albums were primitive and drab:  simply photos glued in military precision on black paper–not acid-free.  We’d never heard of “acid free” in those days.

The last 6 albums, created since 2000, are unique Creative Memory productions.  I use whatever I can get my hands on:  wrapping paper, Dover Publications’ books of William Morris patterns and Scottish tartans, English country-patterned fabric, lace, yarn, faded pages from old cookbooks blotchy with stuck-on cookie ingredients, wallpaper cutouts from leftover rolls of Victorian rose prints, concert and graduation programs, news clippings, etc. as background for not only the photos but theatre stubs, invitations to wedding and baby showers, greeting cards, assorted Victorian scrap, stickers of “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” plus old-fashioned dogs dressed up like lords and ladies, personal bits of art, poems and quotes from favorite authors, and plenty more. 

Each page is a world in itself:  a great adventure of color and pizzazz, a let-it-all-hang-out experiment in aesthetic funk.  Items are collaged every which way.  No more boring military precision.

Needless to say, the albums are a joy to make.  But I’ll never catch up.  Although all of our family members are represented in the albums–even the great-grandchildren–only a teeny amount of existing photos have made it from boxes to books.  Snapshots not only overflow from cartons on shelves and in closets, but multitudes are also packed in a huge cedar chest. 

Sometimes I view the boxes and feel just a wee bit overwhelmed.  No matter how diligently I work on albums (and I do enjoy making them) there are always thousands of photos patiently waiting.  Of course I don’t need to use them all.  Who needs 5 pages of donkeys in Custer State Park?  I can focus on the donkey pictures which include grandchildren.  

Most of the time I happily plug away whenever the spirit moves me to spend a day scrapping over albums and building pages for posterity.  I’m thankful that we have a huge family.  I hope someone will continue assembling the memories after I’m gone! 

Meanwhile, the point is not to get finished but rather to enjoy the process.  The only finished work on earth is what Jesus did!  🙂

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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