Archive for the ‘Trains’ Category

Leonardo Aguilar II:  I know I posted this hombre before, but I couldn’t resist posting more.  Little Leo will be effortlessly bi-lingual.  His Dad reads to him in Spanish, and his Mom (our granddaughter, Jamie) in English.  Maybe I can pick up a word or two of Spanish from our youngest great-grandson!

Little Senor 4

More Little Leo, in Great-Grammy’s Shawl:  I made this garment for a Teddy Bear, and then thought “Hey.  It would look even better on Leonardo II!”  He’s smiling as if he likes his colorful snuggy.

Little Senor 3

A Backyard Retreat:  My friend Karen is a Master-Gardener, and she has the greenest thumbs (and fingers) of anyone I’ve ever known.  Here are some photos she took of her beautiful sanctuary in Waukesha.  Karen laid yards of winding brick pathway for an enchanting, rustic touch.  Along with the gorgeous gardens to grace her neighborhood, Karen has a Little Library where anyone passing by can exchange books.  How great is that!

Karen 5        Karen 4

Karen 1

A Memorable Outing:  My friend Liz (pictured below) treated me to a day of antiquing, etc. just across our border—in Richmond, Illinois and the surrounding area.  The day was just right:  perfect weather, delightful browsing, good food, fun acquisitions, and best of all great company!

Liz 23    23 1 R

23 3                      23 4

A Time to Be Silly:  Our daughter Debbie took some of her grandchildren (our great-grandchildren—DUH!) on a surprise train ride and a vacation at a Wisconsin Dells water-park resort.  The Amtrak speeds by our road every day at approximately 4:20 p. m.  So on the day Deb was taking the children to the Dells Joe and I walked a few yards from our door, and waited at our road beside the Fire Station, so we could wave at the children as the train roared by.

Frequently I cannot resist being utterly silly where my children (of all ages!) are involved, so I had to do what I call a “Do Do Dee Dee Dance” with my derriere aimed at the passing train windows while Joe looked on very sedately from his 4-wheeler.  (Joe doesn’t do Do Do Dee Dee Dances.)  Meanwhile Debbie caught a blurry, impressionistic shot of the vaudeville act.

do do dee dee dance

And Our Private Heaven:  That long cold winter has morphed into luscious spring.  A month ago it looked like nothing was going to happen.  But now . . . !  The treasures in our patio garden are better than ever (I say that every year), and our patio is the perfect outdoor living room—with sun in the morning and shade for hot afternoons.

G 14 3    Garden June 1 - 2    Garden June 1 - 3    G 14 1

And SKY:  Those of you who have checked this site on occasion over the last five years know that I have a thing about sky.  As a child, I spent countless afternoons lying on the grass, watching clouds while searching for dragons, genies, and horses in the sky.

Now I recline on the berm outside our condo courtyard and watch clouds, with Baby Dylan (corgi) at my side.  That is our warmish day agenda.  On steaming summer days I flop on the patio lounge for afternoons of reading and cloud gazing, with ice tea ever handy.

Never has cloud gazing been more rewarding than it is here in the Lake Country, with the open expanse of park beyond our door.  We are surrounded by lakes, so there are nearly always clouds—ever changing, ever exciting to view.  I have years of cloud photos, enough to create a picture book.  (That’s a great idea, for next winter!)

Meanwhile, here are some recent gems, starting with a sunrise:

Sunrise 1  Sunday morning sky 2

Sunday morning sky  Sunday morning sky 3  Sunday morning sky 4

Yes, I’ll always have my head in the clouds.


In closing, here is a confession of something that I never thought would happen.  (Daughter Laura, are you ready for this?)  My man is planning to get me a TABLET.  Yes, family, I’m finally taking the plunge.  Ever since tablets surfaced, I’ve said “No, I don’t want one”—and I meant it, at least I think I did.  But recently something snapped.  Now I look forward to having my very own tablet.

People with tablets appear to have thousands of pictures.  (Hyperbole intended, but perhaps it’s not hyperbole.)  Is this writer turning into an ex-writer, perhaps a “recovering” writer?  Maybe a picture is worth a thousand words.  🙂  Well, we’ll see about that.

Margaret L. Been, June 2014

Read Full Post »

Three summers ago, when we were packing to leave our beloved Northern home and move 5 hours south, one question kept bugging me.  I knew I was giving up a lot of beautiful nature, but I also knew that beautiful nature abounds in the area to which we were relocating.  No wolves and bears in Southern Wisconsin, but plenty of nearly everything else—including deer, raccoons, ground hogs, muskrats, and (something we did not have in the North) possums.

As I packed, I realized I was giving up quick access to water, but hey!  I knew we’d be surrounded by water in our new locale—from lakes and rivers down to the picturesque pond with a fountain just a few yards from our door.

My concern was not for the loss of nature and water.  What bugged me was the fact that, after nearly 30 years of living in the midst of acres with no close human neighbors, we were suddenly to be transported to a community where we’d  see people—perhaps lots of them—every day of our lives.

That sounds anti-social.  It sounds like I don’t like my own species, but nothing could be further from the truth.  I do and always have loved most people:  family members, friends, and people in general—so long as the “people in general” were not crowding around me, or a part of my everyday experience.  So I packed and prayed, and we moved.

Now, nearly three years later, I can’t begin to express how much both Joe and I enjoy living in a community.  We do see “people in general” every day, but guess what?!  They are not just “people in general” after all.  Each one is a special person.  I realize that there are many places in the world where neighbors are not sweet and pleasant, but we have been blessed.  We are surrounded by sweet and pleasant people.  What a joy to pause in our comings and goings, and chat with a neighbor. 

In the beginning it was hard to get acquainted with fellow dog walkers because our Dylan was so ridiculously impossible around other dogs—straining at the leash and barking as if he wanted to kill.  Now even Dylan has changed.  He still strains a little, but the barking has mainly been replaced by a deep inner rumble.  Now we can sometimes visit with the other dog people.

Along with my original concern about living near “people in general” was my question about living around the noise that people inevitably make, as I’m a lifelong lover of quiet.  The first noticeable difference in the noise level around our new home was the presence of happy sounds—children playing in our front yard park, softball games, soccer games, picnics in the pavillion, etc.  These sounds were, for me, love at first hearing.  The cacophony created by people having fun outdoors is truly wonderful.

Not quite so wonderful was the ongoing hum of the air conditioners, positioned outside our bedroom window.  Every condo here has an air conditioner along with the gas furnace, and nearly everyone along our side of the garage row uses their artificial air at night.  We don’t.  We are “open door and window freaks”, aided by a ceiling fan in each room of our new home.  We simply fling our windows open as wide as we can—night and day—and pull the strings on our ceiling fans. 

We moved here in the September heat of 2009, and those humming air conditioners were a considerable issue for me at first.  I truly wondered, “Am I going to be able to live with this?” 

But after those first few warm weeks, the air thingies outside never bothered me again.  If I’m conscious of hearing them, I simply think “How great that people can be comfortable—even with closed windows!”

We have a neighbor across the lane, who drives a snazzy new car and goes in and out with his car radio blasting country tunes.  We always know when Mike is coming and going—and we love him.  He is going on 93 years old, a WW2 veteran, and one great guy.  He goes out nearly every morning to play golf.  Mike’s country tunes assure me that he is thriving, and I thank God for such a fine neighbor. 

One of the constant sounds of civilization is the racket made by mowers and blowers involved in park and condo community maintenance.  Like the air conditioners, these annoyed me at first.  But my whole attitude has changed.  The area is kept beautifully groomed, and we appreciate that!  The workers are always pleasant and considerate; they are careful to not to clip or mow into our gardens.  When I see the maintenance crew at work, I thank God that these people have jobs.

Throughout that 2009 summer of packing, I knew of one sound at our new locale which would be absolutely thrilling to me:  the sound of trains.  If I have blogged about any subject more consistently than potato chip scarves, that subject is undoubtedly trains.  I can’t say enough about them:  the lumbering, chugging freights, and the whooshing AmTrak—mentally transporting me to Colorado or New Mexico.  At the risk of being entirely silly I could run around and sing, “The tracks are alive with the sound of music!”  🙂

All of this causes me to muse about how people can change!  Who would every think that this lover of quiet solitude could rejoice in the sounds of music, condo style?  Perhaps the proverbial “bottom line” is this:  we can carry our peace and quiet inside ourselves—right in the midst of wherever God has placed us.  I praise Him for that!

Read Full Post »

Exactly a year ago, Joe and I were totally contented in our up north home—believing we might be there forever, and thinking no place on earth could ever be so special.  On a below zero March day in 2009, I went outdoors and heard the distant shrieking of a train—a rare sound, as we were 9 miles from the railroad track which ran north and south through that part of Wisconsin.  In the eight years we’d lived there, we’d only heard a train 3 or 4 times from our home—on days where there was virtually no wind or when the wind came from the exact direction of the moving train.

On that day in 2009, as I savored the faint, far-away music of the rails, I said:  “If we ever have to leave this beautiful home I want to live near a railroad track—one that is in active use!

Well a year later, here we are—living 280 miles from our northern home, and 280 yards from the busiest railroad in the area.  Many freight trains lumber through each day, and the Amtrak runs from Milwaukee to points west and back again to Milwaukee. 

The shrieking, rumbling, and clacking of trains send me into paroxyms of euphoria grounded in my childhood.  During World War II gas was rationed, and we traveled by train rather than by car.  Our family lived 80 miles north of Milwaukee in Chilton, Wisconsin.  Since the Milwaukee area had been my parents’ home for decades, we kept going back there.  My mother and I made the 80 mile train trip to downtown Milwaukee frequently—staying at the Schroeder Hotel, shopping at the Boston Store and Gimbels, and taking in a matinee film nearly every day of our city adventure. 

The sidewalks of Milwaukee were a sea of sailors from Great Lakes Naval Base.  I recall the spiffy white uniforms with flowing bell bottom trousers, and the cheerful courtesy of young military men in an era when manners and consideration were the norm.

Trains!  I felt like I was entering Heaven’s gate when I stepped into one.  Back then trains belched out black steam, and deposited soot and grime as they rumbled along.  But never mind!  The ride was worth it all!

Perhaps some folks get a thrill when they hear planes overhead.  I enjoyed air travel for 5 decades, but now I find airports to be exhausting and hectic.  Obviously the security is necessary, but the pleasure of soaring above the clouds has been dampened for me—especially since we no longer get a meal on our flights.  I guess I’m a down-to-earth person in essence!

The Amtrak is expensive unless one rides in a coach, so Joe and I undoubtedly will continue to fly when we travel any distance.  Sitting up all night in a train coach was fun in the early 1950s, when I rumbled west to my college in Colorado.  But at this point of maturity, I need a bed for sleeping.

Meanwhile, every day I experience nostalgia trips with the shrieking, rumbling, and clacking through our walls—just 280 yards from our door!  🙂

Margaret L. Been—All Rights Reserved

NOTE:  The above copyright free illustration is courtesy of http://karenswhimseys.com/

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »


Earlier this week I stepped outdoors on a gorgeous 40 degree day, and heard A TRAIN!  This may not seem unusual or noteworthy to some of you.  But our home is located 10 miles east of the closest railroad track.  We’ve only heard trains from our home a handful of times since we moved here in 2001–once in awhile when the wind is just right.

We sometimes see and hear a train when we go to town.  One runs through on some Sunday mornings while we’re in church, and I have to restrain myself from jumping up and shouting, “Hallelujah, praise the Lord!”  Those words may be appropriate in a worship setting, but not  because of hearing a train.

I guess you’d have to be inside my head to understand why I’m so blithery about choo choos.  I’m not even sure myself, except that many hours of my happy childhood were spent on trains.  During WWII gas was rationed and we often rode the rails.  I can shut my eyes and still hear the hiss of the steam, the chugging and clacking of the massive engine and cars, and the station master’s call, “All Abo-o-o-o-oard!”

Later I rode the Union Pacific to Colorado, where I attended CU for my freshman year.  What an adventure for my roommate and me, to board in Milwaukee and change trains in Chicago! 

Our mothers were a bit terrified at the thought of us wandering around the Chicago depot–but we were 18 years old, and somewhat level headed.  We sat up all night on the coach, paying (I think it was) 25 cents for a pillow.  At 9:00 a. m. the next day, there we were–a mile high in Denver.  Somehow we found a bus to Boulder and our university, then known as “The Play School of the Western World”. 

Over the years Joe and I have driven to Colorado many times, as we have family members there.  Interstate 80 runs close to towns in Iowa and Nebraska where freight trains still whoosh in and out.  In the beginning of these westward jaunts, my train-mania caused us to eschew the corporate America inns on the interstate in favor of bedding down in small towns–at “ma and pa” motels nestled beside a railroad track. 

At these quaint establishments Joe slept through everything, while I woke frequently and thrilled to the clackety-clack and whoo-whoo of a train sounding like it was rushing through our room.  Finally, however, we gave up on the town motels–finding some of them to be tacky.  Atmosphere, YES.  But we also like CLEAN!

Two of our grandsons went through a heavy duty train stage when they were 3 and 4 years old.  What delightful years!  We went to train museums. read books about trains (Thomas and Company), and played with trains.  Now Tyler is almost 16 and Nathaniel is 12.  They’ve outgrown trains.  I never will. 

What does the sound of a train do for me?  I hesitate to use the term “altered state of consciousness” because that has New Age overtones.  Rapt euphoria is probably the best description of my mental state upon hearing the venerable chugs and whistles. 

It happens once in awhile when the wind is just right.  🙂

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

Note:  the charming graphic is courtesy of http://Karenswhimsy.com/

Read Full Post »