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Archive for the ‘The Need for Respect’ Category

80 years old

Summer began around solstice time, with our 60th wedding anniversary celebration.  This was held at our condo clubhouse, so no one’s home got stressed out—but I promise we will not plan a big whoop de doo for our 70th, as our hard working children and grandchildren went many extra miles with planning, serving, and cleaning up after the delightful June 22nd event.

Above, is a photo of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Been—gleaned from our daughter Debbie’s FACEBOOK page and taken a week ago beside Debbie and Rick’s pool.  Although (fortunately) there are not 80 candles on the cake, that is how young I turned on August 8th, 2013.  I think I am freaking out my family and friends by telling them that now I can start being eccentric.  Predictably they are wondering, “Yikes, what’s next?”

In between these two family landmarks, I received my Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement.  The six weeks mark was reached last Tuesday, and now I am able to hang up the sling and walk around with two arms free.  It’s a treat to eat with my right hand again.  (Actually I eat with spoons and forks, but they are held in my hand).  I never did get graceful with the left, and I held my fork like it was a boat oar—very clutzy.

So now I’m watching the early morning mist form over our park, a characteristic of late summer.  How can the days whirr by so fast?  Constantly, I’m overwhelmed when I reflect on the blessings we enjoy every day and will never never take for granted!  My recovery from surgery has been a gift from God worked out through the prayers and benevolence of family members and friends.

I’m thankful for Joe’s daily concern and assistance in so many ways—including weeks of enjoyable eating out together at our favorite restaurants.  We began this two days after my surgery, along with resuming our rummaging adventures.  (There is something so essentially wonderful about doing “normal” things after the trauma of rather radical surgery, with a 6 inch incision scar to prove it!)

I’m thankful for our daughter Laura’s visit from Washington State, starting on my surgery day.  Laura helped me through those tentative first days when every move hurt and just getting washed, dressed, and groomed seemed like an insurmountable challenge.  And for Debbie’s every ready concern—checking in on us, bringing good food, and scrubbing our floors.  (Debbie knows how I love CLEAN!)  I’m thankful for the phone calls, letters, companionship, and encouragement of many over the past weeks.

I’m eternally grateful for the medical expertise which made an effective shoulder prosthesis possible for me.  The Reverse procedure is new within ten years in the USA.  Twelve years ago there would have been no way to fix the considerable pain which is no longer there, thanks to amazing technology.  The Standard replacement simply would not have addressed my issues.  I’m thankful for a surgeon who performs this new procedure, as many orthopedic surgeons have not begun.

I’m thankful for the quiet hospital just minutes from our home—with private rooms for all patients, and plenty of comfortable space for one’s spouse to stay over night.  I’m very grateful for the sweet young man, a Physical Therapist named Daniel, who encouraged me and helped me so much prior to my hospital discharge.  His soft-spoken, gentle kindness—while showing me the only movements I would be allowed for weeks to come—has stuck with me as a stellar example of professional expertise at it’s most personal best.*  There is nothing like quiet kindness to promote healing, and Daniel’s sensitivity has overcome any unpleasant or jarring memories I have had of my hospital experience.  Thanks to him, I’ve been able to “do it right” from start to finish!

I’m thankful for my precious Pembroke Welsh corgi, Dylan.  He never fails to make me smile.  I am certain that he understands most of everything I say to him, although admittedly I don’t launch into a lot of meaty philosophical discussions with Baby Dylan.

And here are photos (also gleaned from Debbie’s FACEBOOK page) of some other precious individuals (great-grandchildren) who never fail to make me smile:

too too sweet

My cup runneth over!!!

*I obtained all of my medical records of proceedings from the day of my discharge from the hospital on 7/3/13.  For a 90 pound person, I have a very strange body chemistry:  I sleep like a well-fed puppy on caffeinated beverages, while narcotic pain medications (which plow most people under) make me “bright eyed and bushy tailed”—and, I fear, loquacious.  So I was naturally curious as to my conversations and interchanges recorded by the medical personnel on discharge day, after I’d received 24 hours of morphine via IV.

Although I might have knocked Daniel over with my bright eyed and bushy tailed verbal input, he recorded me as “Doing very well”, “Able to verbalize movement precautions”, “Independent” in all listed categories, “No difficulty” in doing what needed to be done, and “Agreeable“.  Using the word “Cooperative”, my surgeon recorded the same observations in his write-up of our 7/3/13 exchange.

I was overjoyed to discover that I behaved myself like the lady I always desire to be!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, 2013

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Have you ever felt like Rip Van Winkle, suddenly waking up and realizing that changes have taken place while you were sleeping or simply not focusing on a particular thing—perhaps a thing that you grew up with, something ineffably lovely—and now that “something” has vanished?

Although my husband and I are certainly not “bar flies”, we recall an era of poignantly sweet piano music emanating from the bar areas of fine restaurants—or, in the case of a Supper Club—in the dining room itself.  How elegant dining out used to be!  We lingered over the treat of a restaurant meal—eating slowly (like the French reportedly do), and relaxing over many cups of after dinner coffee while enjoying the melodies from the piano bar.

Dining out is not the experience it once was.  The cell phone sometimes provides the only “music” at a restaurant these days, but more often there is music—or rather noise—loud, thumping, blaring, and totally inconducive to gentle, cultured conversation.  It has become virtually impossible to go out to dinner and relax over coffee in most public places.  And no one seems to care—no one, that is, except for my husband and me!

Whatever happened to the piano bar?  Whatever happened to the glorious experience of dining out, with its built in ambience?  There is a charming restaurant two minutes from our home which still does provide quiet elegance, and the environment is beautiful—like an old English inn.  But at from $20 to $36 per entree, Joe and I don’t choose to go there very often.  And, the elegant fine dining place in our neighborhood does not have a piano bar! 

So waking up to the reality of a piano bar-less pop culture, Joe and I have done a fun thing.  We’ve created one at home.  In recent years I’ve focused on learning some favorite classics (easier versions of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, etc.).  I am working George Winston’s arrangement of Pachebel’s Canon up to tempo (how I love that piece of work!), and homing in big time on Scott Joplin’s rags. 

But recently, in a mode of nostalgia, I dug out my old sheet music and unearthed decades of treasures like Deep Purple, As Time Goes By, Moon River, Born Free, Lara’s Theme, and many more—a couple of which are pictured above.  Joe copied the pages individually and taped them together.  Now loads of lovely ballads are strung out on the piano.  I no longer have to go through the frustration of pausing to turn a page, or continuing to play with one hand while frantically turning pages with the other.  Paper clips keep the whole shebang from flying away and piling up on the floor between sessions.  When I finish one piece I simply remove it and lay it across the back of the couch which is close behind my piano—and procede to the next number.

We serve iced tea, Crystal Light®, or Sierra Mist® at our piano bar.  The player sometimes goes on for an hour or two—until it’s necessary to quit and fix dinner.  And then, dinner does not cost from $20 to $36!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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Yesterday my friend, Karen, and I had our annual Christmas tea and gift exchange, at my home.  It was a special treat, as last year at this time Joe was in the hospital—and Karen and I met at the hospital cafeteria for the festive occasion.  What a joy to gather with friends anywhere, but especially at home! 

I have always loved setting a table, as this was my job as a child.  I was free to arrange the settings and decorate the table however I wished.  My mother imbued me with her passion for quiet elegance—candlelight, pretty dishes, attractively presented food—and best of all, the joy of sharing leisure time with family members and friends.  My parents entertained frequently, and even when it was “just family” we valued slow paced ambience at our table.  Nearly every evening meal was a lovely occasion.

At our tea party, Karen and I observed that gracious entertaining is not so common among people today as it once was.  How unfortunate!  The rapid pace of 21st century lifestyles may play into this dearth of ambience.  Yet our mothers were far “busier” than many women today—even some of the “working women”.  Our mothers worked hard and diligently at home, without a plethora of the time and labor saving appliances so common in contemporary homes. 

Now technology has largely replaced elbow grease.  In many instances, an attitude of “Let’s get the jobs done as fast, mindlessly, and mechanically as possible” has replaced that wonderful sense of creative accomplishment and pride in the home arts which motivated women in the past—the same wholesome pride that my friend and I continue to experience today. 

I do not believe the current disregard for loveliness can be traced to economic factors.  My mother entertained during the Great Depression, sharing whatever she had—as elegantly as if she were a queen.  (Indeed she was a queen, in our home!)  A lovely table is not a matter of “what we have” so much as how “what we have” is arranged!  Pine cones in a humble wooden bowl are as beautiful as glass fruit in a crystal compote.  Mismatched tea cups and plates, culled from rummage sales and resale shops, can be as charming as a set of matching bone china dishes when arranged with an innate love for beauty.  Most certainly, it is not the “What“; it’s the “How“!

Some women may be deterred from entertaining due to a concern for “What will people think?”  That pointless, ridiculous question has no place in my life.  It cannot even be imagined when we focus on creating a pleasant setting for people we love!  I’m thankful to have lived many decades without ever worrying about what someone else might think of my home activities! 

Apparently leisurely entertaining and elegant family meals are simply non-priorities in a number of homes today.  The lack of ambience has created a glaring deficit in our culture.  A vicious circle twirls in perpetual motion:  when people fail to create a slow lane atmosphere at home, that failure adds to the frenetic tempo of the fast lane. 

A dearth of gracious dignity and decorum is evident in many other areas as well as homes:  in the careless attire, loud public behavior, and rude manners which prevail.  A case in point is the sloppy attire seen everywhere (even in fine restaurants and in churches!)  Dining out has been rendered pedestrian by the ringing of cell phones.  Somehow, an entire culture has forgotten a basic fact of civilization:  that most forms of gracious behavior are ultimately a matter of respect for other individuals.  In this “Me” generation, respect seems to be a dying virtue—no longer regarded as essential!   

Meanwhile, a little ambience would go a long way toward restoring the soul of our nation!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

Note:  The ruby footed goblets on the luncheon plates await servings of trifle.  Easy, attractive, and so-o-o yummy!

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The 9/11/2011 memorial service at the Pentagon underscored for me the value of reverent ceremony.  I believe that we humans desperately need ceremony with substance behind it.  Obviously, down through history there have been ceremonies and rituals devoid of meaning—and some which have been perverted, pagan, and even evil in content.  But as a civilized nation, allegedly a CHRISTIAN nation (which I wish the USA could still claim to be!) we need ceremonies such as yesterday’s 9/11 memorials—ceremonies which quiet our hearts and minds, cause us to reflect, and encourage the best in us.

Ceremony is characterized by respect, a quality sadly lacking in mainstream America today.  Ramifications of our culture’s lack of respect (and lack of ceremony) may be evidenced in poor manners, which are rampant.  Crass table manners, loud cell phone chatting in public, and sloppy attire at occasions which call for a degree of formality are just a few indications that our nation no longer stands on ceremony or values respectful manners.  Even the ceremony of singing our National Anthem at our pro-football games is highjacked by soloists who belt out “The Star Spangled Banner” as if it were some tawdry nightclub “tune”. 

I’ve always loved high school and college graduation ceremonies.  To me, the concept of a young person launching into adult life is immensely touching.  How disillusioned I was, years back, when I attended a University of Wisconsin, Madison commencement where champagne corks flew and many of the graduates horsed around noisily during the program! 

Conversely, I was recently encouraged to witness a commencement at St. Norbert’s College in Green Bay, Wisconsin where an atmosphere of decorum prevailed, where participants and viewers were inspired by the fact that dignity and respect are not totally dead!

Yes, it really is all about respect!  Respect for our flag, and the values represented therein.  Respect for occasions requiring solemnity.  Respect for others.  Respect for all of life! 

At the everyday level, I treasure ceremony wherever I find it!  When a gentleman opens a door for me, I’m effusively grateful.  My husband and I grew up in families where standing on ceremony was a given.  Hence, to this day my husband and I wait until all diners are seated at our table before beginning to eat—even in situations where we all get our own food at a buffet.  My husband taught our sons to seat me at the dining room table, just as he seated his mother when he was young—just as my father seated my mother!

Table manners are expected in our home.  We try to remember not to talk with food in our mouths.  There is nothing that disgusts me more than the sight of someone talking while chewing, and worse yet talking with food falling out of his or her mouth!  These may seem like little details, but they are tremendously important.  My husband and I want life to be as gracious and pleasant as possible for each other, and for anyone else around us, under all circumstances!

Ceremony!  Respect!  I’m thankful that we saw glimpses of it around the country, in our 9/11 memorials.  I pray that we could see more of it in everyday life!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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