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Posts Tagged ‘Collage Art’

North

My above-pictured collage, simply titled “North”, tells a story—an account of eight years when my husband and I lived, year around, north of Highway 8 in the Wisconsin Northwoods.  Included in the collage are photos of our lake and the Big Elk River around the bend, snippets of my cropped art, bits of aluminum foil, Japanese lace paper, some cheesecloth, lots of acrylic paint, and a favorite quote from a beloved American author:  Henry David Thoreau:  “I had three chairs in my house . . . one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society.”  Walden

People who know me may laugh when I share this favorite quotation.  They know that:  1) I have far more than three chairs in our home, as well as far more than three of most anything else.  I’m a collector of everything! and 2) My idea of “society” is a lot more than three people.  We have a gargantuan family.  All are welcome to come and sit on our multiple chairs—although many are still in the stage of running around rather than just sitting.  (My “up north” friend Sandy commented after viewing a photo of our family, “That’s not a family; that’s a tribe!”)

Meanwhile, aside from Thoreau’s eastern philosophical views, I love most everything that he wrote.  His chair quote, to me, symbolizes an inner peace and unswerving stability.  A true Yankee at heart, Thoreau was never swayed by customs, crowds, human opinion, or even his own precarious health issues.  I have his complete diary spanning 24 years and two huge volumes.  Right up to his last entry, when Thoreau was dying of tuberculosis, his focus remained on the wonders of creation and the intricate details therein.

The wonders of creation predominate around our home in Northern Wisconsin, along with solitude and an undescribable stillness.  Black bears abound. Despite the fact that they tore up a few bird feeders and pulled a screen off our front deck, I loved the bears (but my husband did not!).  Perhaps the most unique thrill of all was seeing timber wolves on the ice in front of our pier.  The wolves brought unforgettable excitement to a minus 25° morning.  (That’s 25 degrees below zero, folks!)  But nature’s wonders notwithstanding, my most precious memories of up north have to do with the friends we made—friends forever.  As always, I was thankful to have more than 3 chairs in my home!  🙂

Now we are back in the Southern part of our state, where much needed medical care is within 13 minutes from our door.  And family!  In recent years, 16 great-grandchildren have appeared on the scene and we live close to 9 of them.  We are watching the little people grow up.  We attend their school concerts and some of the birthday celebrations.  I attend church with children, grandchildren, and 7 of our great-grandchildren.  When out-of-state family members visit, we are all together in one county—so tribal gatherings are easily managed.  Joe and I enjoy our condo home, my little gardens, the good neighbors on our lane, the park and woodlands beyond our door, and quick access to great restaurants and bistros.  A new grandbaby is due in June—within rocking and cuddling distance. 

Yet now and then on hot summer nights—when I lounge outdoors on the patio while viewing the hazy moon and scanty stars over our nearby metro area—I recall those northern night skies, plastered with millions of stars.  I often think of my friends up there, and I’m thankful that we stay in touch. 

We never really lose the beloved people or places in our lives.  There’ll always be a part of my heart labeled, “North of Highway 8”.

Margaret L. Been, ©2013

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Recently I heard a woman of retirement age say that she was selling her large Victorian era home, and hoping to move into a smaller place.  Someone had told her of condos in our neighborhood—with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, and “loft” over the garage.  The woman replied, “Oh good!  If I bought a place with a loft I could take up painting!”

Perhaps the woman was kidding.  But I shuddered at her comment—sincerely hoping that she hadn’t spent her lifetime denying herself of a dream simply because she didn’t have a loft in which to paint!  Certainly a huge Victorian era home could have supplied a spare corner where she could have pursued her dream. 

The compact four room condo in which Joe and I live is not too small for me to have a corner in which to paint and create collages.  I have appropriated one end of our bedroom by an expansive window.  If we didn’t have a large bedroom, I’d find a corner somewhere else—in the living room, kitchen, or our seldom used front hall.  The old adage, “Where there’s a will there’s a way” applies!

I made the foolish mistake of putting off painting until I turned 73.  I used the excuse of “no talent”.  Finally I realized that talent is not (and never has been) necessary in order to have fun.

Actually, I’ve always disliked excuses made for anything.  As a mother of six children and partner in our family construction company, I had many decades that some would have deemed “busy”.  But I hated the word “busy”.  The “busier” I was, the more creative activities I pursued—my music, writing, knitting, spinning, weaving, gardening, soap making, raising critters, etc. 

Frequently young mothers (or women with outside careers) say they would like to knit, take piano lessons, learn to quilt, or whatever—but they are “too busy”.  I can hardly resist getting on my soapbox when I hear the dreaded “too busy” words.  “Too busy” is hogwash!  These young women might be too busy to leap into five or six restorative hobbies, but a few minutes a week can always be spared for at least one desired activity! 

A hobby is far more than fun and games.  Creative pastimes are God’s tangible, material manifestations of His innovative life.  Perhaps they seem like just fun, or even “fluff” to begin with.  But when life really sinks in, when the storm clouds fall like lead bricks, when adversity strikes big time (and it probably will!) our hobbies help us to get up in the morning, and motivate us to keep on despite the most discouraging of circumstances. 

We need to cultivate the hobby habit before life gets terribly difficult, so we are ready for the disasters that lie ahead!

Some individuals say that people are “their hobby”.  These energetic types seem to need to be constantly talking, and all their spare time is spent with people—either in social activities or good works.  But for one’s own personal deep-level soul survival, much more than people contact is needed.  We cannot even begin to benefit others, if we’ve neglected our own soul need for solitude, silence, and creative expression.

We desperately need our intrinsically quiet private time, in prayer and Scripture, to keep our hearts and minds balanced and refreshed at all times.  Then we need that outward manifestation of God’s imprint on our lives.  We can live serenely in all circumstances when we do some little thing for ourselves—not because it needs doing, but simply because we love to do it.

We need to make music, poetry, and/or art.  We need to plant gardens, and/or nurture house plants.  We need to apply our hands to something, not necessarily useful but hopefully beautiful—or at least whimsical and entertaining.  Making music, writing poems, gardening, and crafting are living proof that we are made in the image of a creative God.  Hobbies may be simply fun at first, but ultimately they are soul sustaining in the larger scene as our life challenges increase with every passing year.

Don’t wait for the loft, before pursuing your heart’s desire.  Just a few feet in a corner of most any room will do.  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

 

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“But thanks be unto God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.”  2 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)

Our little Christmas tree sparkles in our east window and reflects the dawn.   Glints of sunlight are precious on these bitter cold, Wisconsin December days.  In just a little over 2 weeks we’ll experience more glints every day, as the faithful sun returns to our northern land—reminding us of our ever faithful SON!

Beneath the Christmas tree is an assortment of gift bags, overflowing with tangible expressions of love.  As family members drop in for a visit, we will give them their gifts—thereby stretching  our Christmas festivities out over several weeks. 

This is a sensible and enjoyable way to celebrate a most unusual holiday season at the climax of a most unusual autumn which began with my spinal fusion surgery, followed by Joe’s accident and multiple procedures on his severe leg burns (which are healing nicely).

As autumn began with surgery, thus it will end.  Joe is scheduled for a skin graft on his 3rd degree burn next week, and on December 22nd I am having colon surgery.

Christmas Day in the hospital will not be a sad thing for me.  The beautiful new hospital where we go is only 8 minutes from our door, and we have family members all around.  I will have plenty of company.  And also, I’ll get a much needed rest.  Joe will “vacation” at our son Eric’s home during my hospital stay, and Eric will bring Joe to visit me.  With the presence of the Lord in one’s heart, every day is Christmas!

This morning I made a batch of soap, and scented it with sandalwood and rose fragrance oils.  Our home is redolent with sandalwood and rose.  I pray that, spiritually speaking, I can carry this fragrance with me over the next weeks—as I go to the hospital with Joe for his surgery, and as I check into the same hospital a week later for mine. 

May those of us who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ share the sweet fragrance of His love and saving grace wherever we go, in all circumstances—as long as we have time left on earth!

Merry Christmas!

Margaret L. Been ©2010

P. S.  Due to a rash of obnoxious spam, I am dis-allowing comments for awhile.  For friends and family members who read this blog, please email or call.  I love to hear from you!  MB

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