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Posts Tagged ‘Condo Gardens’

So beautiful . . . the crunch of wind-felled leaves, and chestnuts harvested from beneath their tree in the park, just a few feet from our front door.  No one else wants chestnuts, and the park lawn mower would destroy them if I didn’t get there first.

People stop and ask me what on earth I am doing.  When I offer chestnuts to them, they ask, “Can you eat them?”  Of course the answer is no—these are horse chestnuts, not real chestnuts as in “Chestnuts roasting o’er an open fire . . . .”

The next question is accompanied by dumbfounded looks.  “So what do you do with them?”  And my answer:  “I look at them, and hold them.  I have years and years of chestnuts all over our home.”

Now speech becomes abrupt, and the looks tend to get strained, as if the person who has paused in his or her stroll can’t get away fast enough.  “No thank you.”

I do share chestnuts with visitors, if I feel the gift will be welcome.  People who deliberately come to our home are not so apt to be freaked out by our lifestyle as those who whiz by on the park path.  Children invariably love chestnuts, just as I did when I was a kid sitting in our front-yard chestnut tree in Chilton WI.  In case you haven’t noticed, I’m still a child.  I never even began to grow up, and I certainly don’t intend to start now!

As you scroll down the page, you will see a plate brimming with some of this Autumn’s chestnut gleanings—gleaming like gorgeous polished wood.  And you’ll see many other glimpses of life in Nashotah, at that season when we once again spend more time indoors.  You’ll see tea party bits, some art, knitting, and some of our fun and funky home décor.

Joe and I are celebrating the many textures of Autumn, indoors and out.

Autumn 1

Autumn 3

Chestnuts

Royal Doulton

Special things

 Rust

Season of mellow fruitfulness 1

Fall Arrangement

Fall KnittingIndian Village again

And, in my estimation, the most painterly Autumn poem of all in our beautiful English language:

Ode to Autumn

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring?
Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies                         
                                                                  John Keats
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Birches II

In recent years, I find myself giving more advice—breaking a lifetime policy of rarely inflicting personal opinions unless requested to do so, or in situations where someone’s wellbeing is threatened apart from my input.

Always having found advice-givers to be highly annoying, I’ve militated against joining their ranks.  But now I’m holding forth because I believe that most anyone’s wellbeing is jeopardized without the following, standard bit of wisdom:

Find a passion!  Don’t grow old without it.  And especially if you live with chronic illness or pain.  Don’t neglect those creative aspects of life that make aging and chronic health issues not only do-able, but downright enjoyable—even exciting!

I’ve been blessed with many passions:  family, friends, my precious corgi Dylan, books, writing, knitting, wool spinning, music, gardens indoors and out, and now painting.  Art making is new for me; even ten years ago I did not have the foggiest idea that I’d be able to enjoy a lifelong dream.  God saved that one for me to launch when—along with all the other passions—I needed it most.

Most essential to ortho and other health issues, is to keep this body moving! Sitting for any length of time is a huge challenge.  I’ve even learned to stay home from church and other chair-confined events on the most dicey “no sit” days.  Lying in bed (supine or even with pillows) is the second greatest challenge, and for those sleepless nights painting is my great friend.  I paint standing up, and incorporate whole-body motion into the piece of work.

Art making would be wonderful enough if it ended right here, in my cozy bedroom corner studio beside a husband who is contented to sleep through soft lighting and my nocturnal whims—along with George Winston providing a mellow piano background.

But also, painting has led to a spate of new friendships, activities, and opportunities for sharing my art in our community.  Meanwhile, the history of art movements and artists has become a fascinating, inexhaustible area of study.

Thus I feel not only justified in giving advice, but actually responsible for sharing.  Don’t forget your passion.  Don’t grow old without at least one, and every day will be a fantastic adventure!

We are created in the image of a Creative God.  He desires that we somehow reflect His creativity.  Yes, He will answer prayers concerning ways we can honor him with the gifts He has given us.  When God moves, He brings a whole new quality of refreshment to an already abundant life!

Margaret L. Been — September 9, 2015

Note:  If art rings your chimes, you can check out my MESSY PALETTE blog:   https://northernview.wordpress.com/

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Bee

Long time, no blog!  From April till way into Autumn, my heart is outdoors.  But that has never kept me from writing before.  This summer has been different—perhaps one of the loveliest summers ever.  With the exception of an occasional entry on my art blog, journaling, letter writing, and jotting Bible study notes, I decided to take a vacation from writing.

Now our white hydrangeas/turning pink are at full tilt and awash with beautiful bees. So much to love about summer!  Six years ago to this very day (Saturday August 29th, 2009) our son Eric and grandsons Joshua, Adam, Jason, and Jeff (grandson-in-law, but a true grandson indeed!) loaded a large U-Haul, our family business truck, and a some vans with our belongings.  We were moving from our up-north “permanent” home of eight years to Southeastern Wisconsin where we’d originally lived for decades and where much of our family has lived and still does.

The banter between our family moving helpers was hilarious.  They did a perfect job with no damage to our furniture or the walls of the home we were leaving—and most importantly, with no damage to my precious piano.  The day was pleasant and memorable.  But please forgive me for using a cliché:  My heart was in my throat.  We were abandoning the place we’d thought we’d live “forever”.

Two months earlier Joe had suffered serious health complications which immediately mandated the change of locale in order to be close to family and easily-accessed excellent medical care.  In late June we’d walked into our present condo home for the first time.  We placed a down payment on the condo after twenty minutes of inspection.  So July and August of 2009 were filled with packing.  Anyone who knows our lifestyle understands that the packing was a piece of work!

Over those weeks I consistently walked Dylan (corgi) on a leash so that he’d make the transition from running freely around fourteen plus acres to being a proper condo dog who wouldn’t be a nuisance to neighbors.  As I walked our wild woodsy trails, I wondered:  How will I be able to get along without all this? 

Yes, we’d be surrounded by beloved family.  I had missed the family between visits.  Down in Southeastern Wisconsin the great-grandchildren were coming pop/pop/pop like popcorn.  Joe and I love and enjoy the little people.  I certainly understood that children are more special than bears and wolves.  But . . . . ?

Nonetheless—after two months of packing, walking, and wondering—that moment of departure six years ago was amazingly pain-free.  Weary as Joe and I were from the process of moving on short notice, we experienced a mutual, growing sense of excitement; it occurred to both of us that we were coming home!

And we came home to boundless blessings.  Family!  Long time friends!  A carefree four room, ground floor condo—just right for our time of life.  Several gardens to tend and love—ours and those of neighbors who don’t want to bother with gardening.  And trains frequently roaring back and forth on the busiest track in the area—from Milwaukee west to the Rockies and north to Canada.  My passion for the sight and sound of trains is no secret to anyone who knows us.

What have I learned in the last six years?  More than I can squeeze into a blog.  But for starters:

  1. People in their “mature” years, do not need a large home.  Compact and cozy are delightful adjectives.  I enjoy cramming lots of stuff into small spaces, and I love the task of efficient organizing.
  2. It is very nice to have garbage collection at our garage door.  Up north we took our garbage to the  dump—a fun experience but not when it was twenty below zero!
  3. It is wonderful to have snow removal.  Joe did that himself up north, with a snow blower.  It took two hours or more, to clear the driveways at the two houses there—the one we lived in and the guest house we had built up the hill.  Now on a blizzardy winter morning we awaken and savor our coffee to the scrape/scrape of plows on our lane and shovels on the walkways.
  4. Here is a vital lesson:  One does not need to own land, to enjoy it.  We have a lovely community park over the berm outside our courtyard, and a woods and prairie preserve with foot trails beyond the park.  These fulfill my hunger for natural beauty.
  5. In the last six years, health challenges have become the norm for Joe and me.  These challenges are Holy Ground.  Always, I experience God’s “peace that passes understanding” .  With the Lord Jesus in my heart and life, every day is Holy Ground.  But health issues—Joe’s emergencies and my chronic concerns—are a showcase of God’s Grace.  Some friends understand this, but others simply do not.  The “others” are those who say things like “Oh you poor thing!”  When I hear that I want to scream, but I try to stay calm.  My answer is, “In Christ we are never a ‘poor thing’. We are “more than conquerors.”  Holy Ground!
  6. No home on earth is “forever”.  Although I love where we are, and I am totally contented and grateful, I anticipate with profound excitement that final “move”—right into the presence of my Lord Jesus!*

Six years in retrospect.  Understandably, I sometimes think of “up north”—especially when strolling outdoors after dark.  Here, twenty-five miles west of Milwaukee, we have a moon and sometimes part of the Big Dipper in the night sky, and rarely much more than that.  I recall many evenings of sitting on our lake-facing porch up north, enthralled by millions of stars:  so many that there was more starlight than black space between.  The stars reflected on the lake so that the entire expanse—Heaven and the water below—was one huge lit-up sky.

But happily now, six years later, we sit in the front row at church, surrounded by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  They are my stars!  🙂

Margaret L. Been—August 29, 2015

*Nearly every day I reflect on a family story I first heard when I was a very little girl.  My great-grandfather had been bed-ridden and unresponsive for days—surrounded by family members during his slow process of dying.  Then suddenly one day he sat bolt upright in bed.  His face was glowing as he loudly exclaimed, “Oh Glory, Glory!”

Immediately after that, Great-Grandfather Longenecker moved to his final, glorious HOME!

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Frog daysDahlia

I don’t want to let go.  Our summer has been so ineffably sweet, I will hang on to it forever. 

Beautiful weather.  No need to run the AC—except that we occasionally put it on for Baby Dylan when we have to leave him for a few hours in the closed-up home.  Okay there were a couple of times when at home, that we broke the humidity by turning on the AC for very short spells, but always with the doors and windows wide open to the out-of-doors.  And due to the ubiquitous AC in most every indoor place, our favorite summer restaurant has become a local pub with outdoor seating. 

Leisurely early morning strolls around our park.  Visits with friends.  Plenty of summer knitting, which always brings woolly recollections of being 8 years old and learning to knit on the porch of our family cottage at Lake Winnebago.  Bookish naps on our shady afternoon patio.  And best of all, mellow days with the three generations which have resulted from our marriage of 61 years!

Too too sweet

More pool

Leo again again again again again

Mia Mia 2

musician

Recently Joe and I had the (probably once in a lifetime) experience of having our portraits painted by a friend, Janet Roberts, who is a professional artist.  We didn’t have to sit it out, as Janet works from photographs.  You can check out our portraits (“Joe in Winter Hat” and “Margaret in Summer Hat”) on Janet’s website.  Just GOOGLE “Janet Roberts, Brookfield Wisconsin Artist” and click on “Gallery” from the home page menu,  Voilà!

Our portraits have inspired a lot of mulling and musing.  With all the wonderful photos I have today—hundreds in albums and hundreds more in my computer files—a painted portrait is something unique.  I reflect on how for centuries paintings and sculptures were the only way a person’s image could be captured and preserved.  I think of the court painters such as Holbein, sent out by Henry VIII so he could visualize a future wife.  (I’d sure hate to have been one of those!)  And commodious stairwells lined with ancestors in great houses down through history.  Photography is an amazingly wonderful art, yet there is something ALIVE about paint in the hands of an accomplished artist such as our friend, Janet.

Mellow days, and a summer to remember.  A summer of quiet contentment and simply joys.  A summer of plenty in a world that grows more crazy, more sin ridden and tragically brutal every single day.  A summer in which I feel compelled to share at every possible opportunity, the one and only LIVING HOPE—that hope which is more real than this keyboard on which I type. 

In the midst of a world where an American journalist is decapitated against the background of an American president deeply engrossed in golfing and fund-raising, Our Lord Jesus Christ will return!  As He came to earth 2000 plus years ago to die for our sin and rise victorious over evil, He will return—to gather His own to Himself, and finally to reign for 1000 years in Jerusalem:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

Margaret L. Been, September 2014 

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All the arguments against Creationism prove ridiculous and fall apart, when we focus on the basic tenet of our Judeo-Christian Worldview:  that we humans are made in the image of God, a Creative God!

Yes, the higher mammals have intelligence.  Yes, the higher mammals have forms of communication.  Yes, the higher mammals are capable of great emotion—even that of unconditional love.  I gaze into my Pembroke Welsh corgi’s eyes, and see undying adoration.  My long life has been happily filled to abundance with dogs, and every one has reflected a love and loyalty that many humans can only hope to possess.  

But what specific thing can humans do, that no higher mammal will ever manage?  Made in the image of a Creative God, we can create.  Whereas God created Heaven and earth out of nothing, we must have materials at hand with which to create.  But we do create.

As far as I know, dolphins have never composed operas or symphonies.  Clever and entertaining as they are, primates do not paint masterpieces or design bridges.  My brilliant Pembroke Welsh corgi has yet to bake a cake or stir up an omelette.

On that, I rest my case!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

Note One:  I posted this entry a couple of weeks ago, on my “God’s Word Is True” blog ( http://hiswordistrue.wordpress.com/ ), and decided to post it here as well for two reasons:

1)  Some Northern Reflections’ readers don’t know the the “God’s Word . . . .” blog even exists and so this entry would be new to those readers;

2)  The weather has been so gorgeous that I’ve only been indoors to get meals and change loads of laundry these days.  The gardens and patio have captured my heart.  But I did want to update Northern Reflections, since Mother’s Day is a week behind us.  Anyway, every day is Mother’s Day for moms!  🙂 

Note Two:  Here are some photos taken this week around (and in) our condo home in Nashotah:

(I sit on our patio for hours—sun bathing, reading,  and enjoying our Southwestern decor.)  ↑

(Our foxgloves are reminiscent of Beatrix Potter’s Jemima Puddleduck (silly creature!) and the “Foxy Gentleman” who was sneakily seated amongst the foxgloves.) ↑

(Who can resist sticking a derelict chair in a garden? ↑ ↓)

And last but not least—along with reading and gardening—I’m knitting more of those world famous Potato Chip Scarves!  ↓  This photo has been posted at the risk of non-knitters hurling rotten tomatoes and cabbages my way. 

Yes, I know you may be weary of the potato chip scarves!  Good thing I’m hiding behind my computer!  🙂 

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I’m in agreement with Maria in listing “raindrops on roses” as one of her “fav — or — ite things“!  We’ve been parched around here for a couple of weeks, with sunlight and high winds.  Late last night the thunder and rain rolled in.  What a joy to go to sleep and wake to the sound of raindrops on roses and everything else.

I went out early this morning with my little red SONY®, to capture those raindrops.  They don’t really show up on the photo, but the rose bushes do—along with mertensia (Virginia bluebells), hostas, bleeding hearts, some columbine greenery, and other treasures around my beloved derelict red chair.  (The barrel cactus is fake; it stays out all year.)

I can often spot whether people around here are on my page, by observing their response to rain.  People who just don’t get it are apt to say, “It’s a nice day so far, but later it’s supposed to rain.  (Followed by a grimace.)  But!  But!  In Wisconsin we grow crops.  Barring floods, we need rain.  I lived in the Wisconsin Northwoods for years, and learned that a dry spring is the most fire-dangerous time of the year—as the rising sap in the trees is incendiary.  My gardens need rain.  My soul needs rain.  Rain in moderation and balance, that is.

There is an exception to the “soul need” for rain.  Anyone who lives where it rains for weeks and months on end, with no sight of the sun, is justified in saying “But it’s supposed to rain”—followed by a grimace.  I might do the same thing, if I lived in beautiful, green Northwest Washington State.  We have family members who live there.  Laura, are you reading this? 

Our daughter, Laura, works for a bank in Bellingham, Washington.  She tells a humorous story about when people came to her bank recently on business, from Arizona.  They walked around outdoors in a kind of euphoria, exclaiming, “Isn’t this WONDERFUL?!!!”  After awhile, Laura got tired of hearing the exclamations, and she answered very firmly, “No, it’s NOT!”

Years ago, I visited Laura and her family in January—and experienced the same euphoria registered by the Arizona bunch.  Wisconsin is often below zero in Wisconsin in January.  Our nose hair is apt to freeze up when we go from the house to the car.  So the smell of rain and the moist green Washington earth was heady indeed. 

After I’d exclaimed “Isn’t this Wonderful?!!!!!!!!!” ad nauseum, Laura’s daughter Nancy (then 9 years old) said, “Grandma, doesn’t it ever rain in Wisconsin?”  I think they’d all decided I was nuts! 

This afternoon, more thunder and almost hail sized raindrops are landing on the roses and everything else out there.  It’s wonderful!  But we’ll see how wonderful it is if we have a couple weeks of it! 🙂

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(Karen’s Garden in Waukesha Wisconsin — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom) ↑ 

Poems, by Margaret L. Been 

(Karen’s Rose Arbor — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom)

Feel the ecstacy of cloud, and rose’s beauty pain! 

Inhale the damp of ginger cool, the poignancy of rain.    

_______________________________________________________________________________

  

(Our Northern Retreat — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

June unravels lush across the land . . .

beauty stakes a summer tent and Love

has seized my hand.

_________________________________________________________________________________

(Margaret’s Condo Garden in Nashotah, Wisconsin — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

Last Eon

Last eon old ladies kept gardens—

indolent sweet

lilies of the valley,

Virginia bluebells

ringing up June-wafting peonies,

wicker chaired haunts

for pausing with timeless cups

of tea, mint scented

lemonade and cookie gardens

enticing well-patched fry

from lace-curtained homes kept

by mothers.

Last eon old ladies kept gardens.

____________________________________________________________________________________

(Walden North — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

Another Walden

(In honor of Henry David Thoreau, who wrote “I had three chairs in my house:  one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society.”)

Eaves sagging,

spidered shingles veiling

squirrel-hewn beams.

A one-hinged door

sashays and scrapes

the spintered floor

where field mice scamper

with their seedy stores.

Three chairs are here

for you and me

and company,

and battered cups

for toasting joy

of mislaid schemes

among the shards

of dusty dreams.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

(Our Big Elk River — digitally enhanced photo by Margaret L. Been)  ↑

The Glory that is August . . .

. . . rejoicing in gleaming paint pots

of paisleys, morning glories tripping ankles,

riotous color circles cascading brilliant orange

from coppery berry-stained arms, ruby dollops

dripping from dangling gold, cheekbones

blushing mauve, stormy drapes valancing

languid summer eyes.

Behold her richly tangled gardens

nurtured randomly with whimsical

neglect, where cicadas thrum

and chipmunks scurry—where dynasties

of rabbits glean chamomile and mint

from shards of clay, and crackled

china plates line hidden treasure paths

unearthed by robins, hidden again

in masses of sage secluding

sweet woodruff’s piney green.

Behold her star-embroidered nights

teeming with song of wind and owl

and coyotes calling out the moon,

praising the Author of August beauty—

recalling yesterday, remembering

our long forgotten dreams.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

(Up-North Trail — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

While Summer Stays

I have set a bread to rise

and gone with morning in my eyes

to find a place, while summer stays

where goldenrod lights meadow ways . . .

where birchwood’s warm obscurity

retreats from time, and beckons me

to abdicate a few last days

so haunting sweet while summer stays.

I have set a bread to rise

and gone with morning in my eyes.

______________________________________________________________________________________

(Karen and Lee’s Home in Waukesha, Wisconsin — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom) ↑ 

(Karen’s Quiet Garden — photo by Karen and Lee Veldboom) ↑

I Will Sweep My Rooms

I will sweep my rooms, and tend

my cloistered gardens, brew my tea,

and one who mocked my dreams

will never know the heart of me!

_______________________________________________________________________________________

(Joelly and Nathaniel Mining Wild Raspberries — photo by Margaret L. Been) ↑

Gardens are lovely

when they look as though nature made them . . .

lovelier, when nature did!

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

(The selected poems are reprinted from 3 collections of poetry by Margaret Longenecker Been:  WILDERNESS AND GARDENS—an American Lady’s Prospect, published in 1974 by John Westburg Associates, Fennimore, Wisconsin; MORNING IN MY EYES, published in 1997 by Sheepy Hollow Press, Eagle, Wisconsin; and A TIME UNDER HEAVEN, published in 2005 by Elk River Books, Phillips, Wisconsin.) 

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