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Archive for the ‘Winter Survival’ Category

I have a huge problem with the hackneyed saying:  “Less is More”.  I know that’s the current trend in decorating and other areas of everyday life, but in most of those areas I disagree.  In many instances I believe that MORE IS MORE!  For example:

MORE SILLINESS ↓

jammy time 2

MORE MESSES↓

Art 3

MORE FIBERS ↓

Fiber studio

knitters

Knitting

MORE GARDENS!

Fox Gloves

MORE CREATURES!

adversarial buddies

(Now we have one corgi, Baby Dylan, but there were decades of multi dogs and cats—not to mention but I will, Guinea pigs—and finally years of sheep, angora goats, rabbits, geese, ducks, and chickens.)

Little Treasure

(↑This little treasure was born in the burrow beneath our patio garden, a couple of summers ago.  One of our favorite pastimes is sitting outdoors and watching the chippies scurry hither and thither.)

silly cat

(Debbie’s “Skids”)

MORE TEDDY BEARS ↓

DSC01818

Sunday is a day of rest!

MORE TEAPOTS ↓

Tea 3

MORE RESPONSIBLE DRIVERS ↓

Behind the Wheel

MEANWHILE

My Childhood River

. . . winter is lovely but I confess, I wouldn’t mind just a little bit LESS!

Margaret L. Been, February 24, 2016

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Valentine bears etc.

1)  Bears:  In recent years I’ve received a Valentine Bear most every Valentine’s Day.  This year I decided to move the Valentine Bears from our bedroom settee to a living room sofa, to celebrate their day.  Well, you should have heard the hullaballoo coming from the Other Occasion Bears who were left in the bedroom.  “Unfair!  Discriminatory!  We are Entitled!”

So I promptly moved the Others to the sofa to join their Valentine friends, thinking they could all spend the day there and I’d move them back to the bedroom at bedtime.  Then Joe and I went out for a Valentine dinner.  When we returned home, we were greeted with a petition.  It seems the bears had a secret meeting while we were gone.  They unanimously decided to Occupy Sofa through next Thursday when a young man named Lucas is coming for wiener roll-ups, pop, and an afternoon of art.  Wisely, the bear contingent choose Senior Paddington Bear to present the request to me, as they know I love British accents.  And of course I caved in.  After all, that sofa is an extra.  We have plenty of additional places for people to sit.  And Lucas will definitely enjoy the bears.

Now, Dear Readers I know exactly what you are thinking:  “This woman is eighty years old, and the February Blaaaas have pushed her over the edge.”  Sorry, but I have news for you.  I’ve always been this way.

Shawls Galore

2)  A GOOD YARN:  My fellow Knitwits will love this one.  The stats always soar when I post a yarn and needles bit.  Above you will find a just off the needles shawl.  Who says old dogs (or people) can’t learn new tricks?  Up until a year ago I had Circular Needle Phobia.  But I have overcome, and now I can’t quit making shawls.  This one will go to our local Vince Lombardi Cancer Center, as my family members and friends are by now completely shawled, scarfed, and hatted out.  Note the colors.  They give you a clue as to what is frequently on my mind as I gaze out on our garden buried in snow.

Southwest

3)  FRESH DECOR:  It’s fun to greet a new season with a few changes.  For years we went to Colorado and New Mexico—often at this time of the year.  We love our old comfy couch (not the bears’ sofa, but the one Joe and I normally hang out on).  New fabric on the couch brings the Southwest right into our living room.

Taking a step

4)  THE BEST BLAAA CHASER OF ALL—A CHILD:  This is our littlest sweetheart.  A week ago last Thursday, Tuks came for an entire day.  She is eight months old, and has begun stepping between close furniture rather than dropping to her knees.  We had so much fun with Tuks.  She took good naps for us, and maintained her sunny personality throughout the eight hours.  She loves to eat, loves people, loves dogs, loves life!  Who can ever have the blaaaas with someone like that around?!!!

And here’s a parting thought to cheer you on:  In three weeks, DAYLIGHT SAVING!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, February 2014

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I don’t draw or paint animals very well.  They always seem to look like people, especially in the area of the eyes and facial expressions.  Now it may be argued that dogs are practically people—at least that goes for Collies and Pembroke Welsh Corgis.  But Ground Hogs are definitely not people and I won’t try to paint them.

Meanwhile, I’ve always LOVED Ground Hog Day.  In Wisconsin, the traditional “take” on the day is confusing.  Whereas in some quarters 6 more weeks of winter may be considered “bad news” (for those who don’t ski), in our proverbial neck of the woods ONLY 6 more weeks is cause for a big HOORAH (provided you don’t ski).  Whatever . . . .

Here is a painting of what the Ground Hog may see, not in 6 weeks but perhaps in a few months—when he does come out to inspect my garden.  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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At last, winter has dumped its trademark on our Northern land.  The world around our country condo and quiet park is heaped in the quiet beauty of winter.  Our little patio is heaped.  I love the charming top hats on the bird feeder and saxophone-playing frog—leaning against the feeder as if he were a bit inebriated.  Against the patio door you will see a five dollar poinsettia plant (fake of course) wearing a dusting of snow.  Soon the Christmas plant will be replaced by other fake blooms, until next December.

Now our local ski trials are being groomed for the cross country crowd.  “Downhillers” who long ago exhausted the limited thrills of Midwest runs will throng into airports and board for the high country.  I no longer ski, and I never was intrepid in the high country, although the Colorado Rockies are like a second home and I love to experience their beauty in any season.  While the rest of my family skiied in Colorado, my favorite sport was just sitting outside the lodge in that glorious Western sun and clear, dry air—while savoring a natural Rocky Mountain High.  But there is another winter sport that, in my mind, beats all:  the ceremonial indoor change to spring. 

Here is how it goes around the year.  Late every August I stash my Russel Wright IROQUOIS® dishes, Vaseline Glass pieces, and lemon yellow Depression Glass in a cupboard so that we can adorn our dining table and buffet with Carnival Glass pitchers and bowls, and a harvest-motif set of English china decorated with baskets of luscious autumn produce.  In mid-November, the harvest dishes yield to English Transferware in red and white—paired with ruby red Depression Glass.  Sometimes the red dominance remains in view until after Valentine’s Day, but not this year.  As of today, our village of Nashotah boasts 18 minutes more daylight than we had at the winter solstice.  I’m feeling those minutes.  Extra daylight, winter sun on fresh powder, and the joie de vivre have catapulted me into the new year in celebration of the sparkling season on hand and anticipation of glorious days ahead.

So last evening at dusk we made a seasonal change from red transferware and ruby red Depression Glass—to toothpick holders* and other accent pieces of Vaseline Glass, our lemon yellow Depression Glass sugar and creamer, and (once again) the Russel Wright IROQUOIS® Casual China in soft hues of yellow, green, blue, and pink.  Included in the dining table setting (pictured below), is the Prince Albert MOONLIGHT ROSES® teapot which Joe and I brought home from Cornwall in 1993.  A MOONLIGHT ROSES® cup and saucer accompany the teapot. 

The cliché “What goes around comes around” certainly fits!  Joe and I woke up this morning to sparkling snow outside, and a breath of springtime within—thanks to my passion for, and perennial delight in, seasonal ceremonies.

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

Note:  My parents gave me their gorgeous collection of toothpick holders, many of which are very old.  For years at other homes, we kept the entire collection on glass shelves in large windows.  Now I simply rotate these treasures around the seasons, color-coordinating the glassware with the time of year.

I often reflect on the toothpick holders.  Within my memory are many years before TV, cell phones, and Daytimer agenda books—when folks had time to sit around the dining room table, picking their teeth to remove those shreds of leg of lamb or pork tenderloin. 

Along with fostering a leisurely quality of life, toothpick holders and toothpicks were probably a substitute for flossing.  Certainly a Vaseline Glass toothpick holder and toothpick afford a lot more ambience than could ever be found in that yucky floss which dentists and hygienists badger (no, order!) their patients to use!

As I enjoy the toothpick holders and all the other lovely old glass collections in our home, it is also fun to reflect on how American glass manufacturers produced such exquisite wares during the heyday of art glass—due to special sands and soils in places like Ohio and West Virginia, and the amazing skills of the glass-artisans who immigrated from Eastern Europe.  We have a special cultural history, here in the USA!  MB

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He (the infamous “weather man”) was wrong again.  According to yesterday’s TV map, a rainy belt ran through our Southern Wisconsin counties, with snow piling up in the north. 

Joe and I have an entire day at home, with no clinic appointments.  This is a treat.  I’d planned to grab an umbrella, and walk in the rain.  Then I got up and looked out the window.  Well, I’ll just change the plan a bit and walk in the snow and ice yet one more time!  

Later today I’ll pull my little “rebellion and denial” act which consists of brewing super strong Earl Grey tea, cooling the tea, and pouring it over—you’ve got it—a tall glass full of ICE!  Iced tea is my very favorite beverage on the face of this earth.  Drinking iced tea on a cold, snowy day is a means for my rebel soul to say “Okay, life goes on—and I’m going to enjoy it!”

I’m recalling a Saturday back in 1999.  I ‘d arrived at Mitchell Field, supposedly to board a 7:00 a.m. flight to Denver for a week’s visit with our Colorado son and his family.  The weather was much like today, and conditions were odd.  Planes were taking off from Mitchell, but they were not able to land.  My plane to Denver was stalled just a few air minutes away, in Madison, Wisconsin—waiting for the “all clear” to land in Milwaukee.

It was a congenial bunch of people who sat in that concourse for—I kid you not—8 hours!  What else can you do, but make the most of a delay!  We read, snoozed, ate, and visited the day away.  It was like one of those novels where a bunch of diverse people are thrown together and become “friends” for a short, once-in-a-life period of time.  Stories are shared along with destinations and reasons for travel.  One is definitely “part of the human race” on a day like that!

But one woman could not relax and make the most the occasion.  She was dressed for the slopes, and had planned to meet friends in Breckenridge around noon.  The woman kept fidgeting, frowning, grousing, and running up to the check-in clerk—spilling out the reason why she had to get on a plane to Denver that very moment.  The clerk’s patience was legendary.  He kept apologizing (as if the weather conditions were his fault!) and trying to smooth the feathers of this woman who wouldn’t stop quacking.

Finally, I strolled up to the counter where the unhappy traveler was pestering the clerk and said to the woman, “You know, you are talking to the wrong person about the weather.”  I pointed heavenward and added, “You should talk to SOMEONE UP THERE!”

I don’t know whether or not my two cents worth made any difference in the unreasonable woman’s thinking, but I’m sure it helped the beleagered clerk know that he was not alone!  🙂

The weather is a microcosm of life!  Tomorrow Joe goes for his (we hope!) final surgery—a rotator cuff repair on the shoulder which literally stopped the front left wheel of our large, rolling HONDA® van last October.  Although the 4th degree burn on his leg has been the most life-threatening of Joe’s injuries, the 2 torn shoulder tendons have caused the most pain—excruciating pain! 

Facing surgery is like waiting at the airport for a plane to land or take off.  We select our surgeon, just as we select our airline—with research and that necessary degree of trust in human invention, as well as intervention!  But we relay all of our concerns, and our thoughts on the matter, to the ONE who is in control:  SOMEONE UP THERE!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

Note:  Due to ubiquitous unwanted input on my 5 blogs, I am dis-allowing comments at present.  I can’t go back over 2 and 1/2 years of entries and dis-allow comments on each one, but I can start with the most current. 

It amazes me that so many people have nothing better to do than: 1) advertize where advertizing is banned; 2) promulgate trash; 3) indulge in arrogant pontification out of pure cussedness and a contentious spirit! 

So it’s “spam aloft”!  However, I am not sending the edible variety aloft.  I give my readers credit for being cerebral enough to eat all things circumspectly, delicately, sparingly, politely, graciously, fastidiously, thoughtfully, intelligently, and in moderation. 

If you enjoy your occasional canned product (or deli sandwich which often is equally packed with sodium) you will receive no supercillious judgments from me or anyone else on this page!

Regarding Hormel’s world famous product recently reviewed on this site, there’s an Israeli rendition of SPAM®—beef rather than pork shoulder, which inspires me to mention another once-in-awhile comfort food treat:  HEBREW NATIONAL HOT DOGS, blessed by a rabbi.  Mmmmmmm, good!  🙂   

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Just inside the door from our snowy patio, more gardens thrive:  one on a vintage trunk which I decoupaged with wild west art and cattle brand-type symbols, and the other on a pie crust table.  Both trunk and table were unearthed at rummage sales in Price County, Wisconsin.

The trunk features beloved African violets, overseen by a fake barrel cactus on a stool with a deer skull from our land up north.  Our friends, Mary and Bernie, found the skull so it’s theoretically theirs (finders/keepers!) but they said it didn’t fit in with their decor.  Fortunately, skulls look great anywhere we choose to put them!  (I still have a couple of cattle skulls in our northern home, for that classic Georgia O’Keeffe look.  You pay big bucks for skulls out west!)

The pie crust table provides a mini-museum for artifacts, as well as room for more indoor gardening.  Leaning against the watering can on the left, with it’s rose intact, you will notice a rather bizarre piece of work.  This gem was a Christmas gift from our grandson, Jason, and his wife, Sandy.  They “won” it at a white elephant party.  Jason and Sandy didn’t really want or need the pot, but they knew exactly what to do with their acquisition:  Give it to Grandma!  (This grandma welcomes elephants of any color!)

Resting in the shade of the spider plant, is a slab of petrified wood from (of course!) Arizona.  The white pottery mushroom behind the Native American vase was a gift from its creator, my friend Barbara.  In front of the vase, chestnuts sit in a toile box.  The nuts are part of my ever growing chestnut collection, begun years ago and replenished each autumn by the horse chestnut tree just a few yards outside our front door.  The toile box came in a nesting set, from T. J. MAX. 

The plant on the right side as you face the pie crust table is called “Candelabra”, for obvious reasons.  It’s a new kid on the plant block here.  I was attracted to it’s shape.  The plant looks like it popped off the pages of a Dr. Seuss book. 

On the floor, in a basket crafted by yours truly, you will see something very funky:  raffia paper vegies, purchased for a few cents last summer at a garage sale.  I look at the vegies and smile—not from wanting to eat them, but rather from recalling the joys of past rummages and anticipating a whole new garage season soon to begin.  (Two months, or certainly three!)

Moving from still life to live life, I finally got some snap shots of Baby Dylan, the shy one.  The sleeping beauty photo was fairly easy to procure because Dylan was zonked out on the floor.  (Like Joe and me, Dylan takes his naps seriously.)  The other picture was more fleeting.  Dylan normally hides when he sees the camera, and here I sneaked up on him; it didn’t take him long to sense the “danger” of having his picture taken and a moment later he had split!

Finally, here are some indoor friends who do not have to be watered, and do not have any paparazzi phobias.  They just sort of take life as it comes!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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A lot of Wisconsin folks went to sleep happy last night!  Even those of us who are normally not rabid football fans are smiling today!  And yesterday made me smile for additional reasons.

The success of the day began with my supermarket purchase of a magazine called Flea Market Gardens.  After our noon meal, I poured myself a SIERRA MIST®, reclined on the couch for my mid-day siesta, and began to browse through my new magazine. 

Besotted is too mild a word for my response to the pages of this periodical!  With 5 foot deep snow piles all around our part of the world, I was suddenly transported to the charm of junk gardens:  annuals and perennials spilling insouciantly from pages and pages of GLORIOUS JUNK—rusty metal beds, warped wooden dresser drawers with peeling paint and rusty hardware, shards of cracked and crazed English teapots and platters, simulated trees sprouting blue bottles, fences and birdbaths slung about with tattered textiles, stoney paths through randomly strewn rose gardens, Gypsy beads hanging from broken chandeliers on patios, herbal wreaths and dried blooms decking porch walls, mosaic garden tables replete with vintage tumblers and pitchers of lemonade, and more!

Half way through the magazine, I sprang up from the couch.  Something had to be done, NOW!  With weeks of winter ahead, I could at least refurbish our inside digs—and beautify my own flea market garden indoors.  So I embarked on the dual project of hiding the uglies and enhancing the garden decor.

As you know, a corner of our master bedroom doubles as my art studio.  What may not be public info is the fact that this corner contains some gorgeous house plants.  But unfortunately the space must also be shared with a bunch of abysmally yucky functional items, too butt ugly for words—these items being 1) a DVD player for viewing our English films and my art tutorials, 2) a laptop computer which I am using at this moment, 3) a scanner for scanning paintings and photos into said butt ugly laptop, and 4) a printer for printing pictures and the provenance of my online shopping (along with blogging, the positive upside of having to live with a computer).

Above, you will see my treatment of the ugly DVD player.  It now serves as a display for art when not in use.  To the left of my collage, the scanner is disguised beneath a woven scarf and the printer (beneath) still lurks in plain sight, albeit flanked by Teddy bears.  Both scanner and printer reside on decorative antique wooden crates used for filing office stuff.  Faded splintery wood makes all things beautiful.  And even a printer can’t be over the top yucky when decorated with bears! 

Below is a shot of my computer desk.  But where is the computer?  Topped with books and surrounded by the aesthetics of art paraphernalia, I can almost stand to live in the same room with the thing!  (The start of this modification of a computer’s invasive hideousness can also be viewed on my January 24th posting.  But I’ve taken the disguise to a new level by removing the scanner from the computer desk and replacing the scanner with my easel.)

Below you can see how art supplies have been dovetailed on one table in order to more effectively present my garden on another table, while still affording working space. 

(Chairs stacked on tables are SO WONDERFUL AND PLEASING TO THE EYES!  This battered orange gem was unearthed at a rummage sale deep in Minnesota’s Quetico Superior National Forest, just off the Gunflint Trail.  It cost all of $1.00.  The lamp is a family heirloom.  As a child, I frequently rubbed it’s metal patina—hoping a genie would pop out of it, as I was enchanted by the TALES OF THE ARABIAN NIGHTS.)

Now, you can scroll on down and see our bedroom garden.  The plants are more visible than before when they were all submerged in the sunken window sill.  I have staggered the height of the plants with a child’s antique chair and a charming vintage stool with worn upholstery.  Our many recent hospital adventures have yielded a plethora of those pink plastic containers, perfect for plants.  Pink is always welcome in my life, anywhere/anytime!

Not shown are some additionally enhanced indoor junk gardens, in Joe’s den and our living room.  Perhaps we can tour those on another occasion! 

My suddenly inspired indoor “re-do” is the next best thing to being in my outdoor gardens MINUS 5 feet of snow!  After hiding the uglies and enhancing the garden decor inside I absorbed the remainder of Flea Market Gardens, prepared an early dinner for Joe and me, and settled down to enjoy Wisconsin’s exciting VICTORY!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

P. S.  Here is an academic question posed by our daughter, Judy, and having nothing to do with any of the above.  If you go to a computer store and want to buy more than one “mouse” do you ask for “mice”?  Certainly not “mouses”! 

Reader’s input is welcome.  I’ll ponder that one for a long time! 🙂 

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