Archive for the ‘Funky Patio’ Category

March Swamp I

It is no secret that our soul climate on any given day can be reflected in the expressions of our soul—be they in the form of a poem, a song, or a painting.  For this reason, counsellors who work with children will pay considerable attention to the “climate” of a child’s art.

I normally spend from 20 to 30 hours a week at my palette.  A few days ago I realized that my work was becoming “dark”—not in subject matter, but in actual hue and tone.  Skies were murky.  Water was muddy, and mountains were drab rather than sparkling.  There has been a distinct absence of sunlight, moonlight, and fleecy clouds in recent renderings.  I didn’t need to look far afield for the answer to this puzzle; in fact it really wasn’t a puzzle at all.  Two weeks ago a family member was diagnosed with cancer.  Hence my paintings have darkened. 

So three days ago I decided, this will never do.  I am not a “dark” person—although I love dark skin, and “work hard” to obtain it in the summer!  I have passion for light, and so does my loved one who has cancer.  There is no way I can help her (or myself) through the days and weeks ahead by “painting dark”!

Now things are looking up in every way.  The cancer is Stage II, and it is believed that chemo will not be needed after surgery.  And I’ve pivoted my palette, paper, and paints back to the light.  The above print depicts a subject I love—a swamp, in this case a “March Swamp” with the sap of life rising above melting snow.

And below you will see another subject of love and light—one that may be wearing you viewers out because I feature it so often:

 Living on the Patio with Iced Tea

“Living on the Patio with Iced Tea”

SOON!!!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, 2013

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Virginia creeper creeps up 2 trellises, reaching for the sky.  Also called woodbine and Engleman ivy, Virgina creeper is my favorite name for this hardy vine because that is what it’s called in English novels.  Behind the creeper on the left, a grapevine thrives—amazingly because it scarcely gets any sun on that wall.

The rest of the plot is packed with numerous perennials and herbs.  Lavender, sage, chamomile, chives, mint—all back from last year—fill our lives indoors and out.

Around the corner—in my garden pictured below—lemon thyme, rosemary, sweet basil, and additional ubiquitous mint rejoice with another grapevine, mums, hydrangea, daisies and other perennials whose names I’ve forgotten.  Whereas the above garden is private just outside our living room, my below-pictured garden can be enjoyed by anyone who walks on the public sidewalk which borders the plot.  Get those delphiniums!  They are nearly finished, yet still gorgeous.

I wonder if those who live where things grow all year can possibly appreciate the fleeting garden weeks as much as we do here in the north.  The cycle of blooming goes so fast, it’s breathtaking.  Roses were blooming in a parkside garden last week.  Now they are gone.  My daisies are just opening.  After their season in the sun, they’ll fade and give way to black-eyed Susans.  The mums will follow, vibrant yet poignant, signalling that the 2011 glory days are nearing a close. 

Bird song will diminish to an occasional whisper.  That final, blatant burst of color will explode in the sumac, goldenrod, wild asters, maples, and oaks—and then, silence again.  Beautiful Wisconsin.  We store the garden moments in our hearts, against whatever lies ahead.


Margaret L. Been ©2011

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Our daughter, Laura, made this whiligig at a workshop near her home in Washington State.  The beauty is a composite of treasures culled from rummage and estate sales in her area.


Those of us who enjoy junking are NEVER BORED—and we’ll probably never be tempted to go off the deep end financially with our passion for collecting, because the stuff we prefer doesn’t normally cost that much. 

The items we love best are those which many folks disregard, discard, and even look down their noses at.  These people don’t get it.  They’re missing a huge chunk of abundant living to be found in foraging garage sales, scrap yards, and curbsides!

Now that rummage season is in full swing, our joy cups run over on a regular basis.  We come home from a morning of foraging renewed, refreshed, and super charged with creative ideas as to where we will place, or how we will use, our newly acquired treasure.  One thing is certain:  where junkers are concerned, there are no two homes alike.  Our decor is highly individual.  It can be simulated, but never cloned!

In celebration of junk, junk, wonderful junk, here are some outdoor shots of our comfy little condo where Joe and I live contentedly with loads of junk:

↑  The small blue granite pitcher peeking out of the Hosta is mounted on an upside down lamp base from one of those derelict “Made in China” lamps which, after 2 years of use, tend to become electrically unsafe.  The base (hidden in the photo) was too pretty to discard, so I cut off its cord and glued my vintage blue pitcher on its bottom.  Behind the pitcher is a broken, circa 1930 plate.  I never discard broken china or pottery, as it can always find a pleasant home among my garden or house plants.

And observe the old watering can, complete with its “rose” on the spout.  These are pricey now, as most everyone wants an old watering can.  Fortunately, I found mine years ago.  🙂

 ↑   A saxophone playing frog leans against the bird feeder, with our mutant Bleeding Heart providing a background.  Froggie was actually a new purchase, a gift from our daughter Laura. 

Note the Virginia Creeper creeping up the trellis—one of my all time favorite vines, also called Woodbine or Englemann Ivy.  It’s indestructable in our northern climate.  More damaged pottery rests on a handmade-by-Joe bench on the right as you view the photo.

↑  A closer look reveals the frog’s companions:  a bunny and a skull from the Southwest, reminiscent of artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

↑  The hangy thingy next to the hummer feeder was assembled by a local artist who has a business called FUNKY FINDS.

You can see the tops of a couple of old screens.  Screens and shutters with chipped, peeling paint are always welcome—indoors or out.  One can never get enough of those!

↑  Here is our patio, right off the living room so that we savor a year ’round indoor/outdoor atmosphere.  The patio is the setting for many lazy spring, summer, and autumn days spent sipping iced tea, reading, snoozing, and cloud gazing.  The patio faces east, so that we can sun bathe in the morning and rest in the afternoon shade. 

This picture was taken in a downpour.  The card table gets covered with a lovely vintage cloth on sunny days.  It also serves as a place for my art equipment and afternoons of sketching and painting.

The smashing antique croquet set was a rummage sale treasure which cost $5.00.  It has all its mallets, balls, and arches—with an old rag tied to each arch.  We can take the croquet set up the berm to the park, just a few yards away, for killer games.


In closing, here is one of my most precious photos of our grandsons, Nathaniel and Joelly, with their creation from their finds from a junk yard near our up north home.  Nathaniel is the driver of this unique vehicle.  I’m not sure what Joelly is doing with the stick—I think it’s a car window cleaner.  ↓

Upon all the evidence, I rest my case!  Junk is wonderful! 

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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Here it is, after 4 months of growing weather.  The garden faces due east and is protected on 3 sides, so it thrived victoriously—spring frosts notwithstanding.  Our hot, humid summer has agreed with this garden, as it gets sun in the morning and shade from 1:00 p.m. on.

The rose bushes which were decimated by slugs have been restored, and they are blooming in there among the other perennials and herbs.  For an account of the rebirth of the roses, and a photo of them in all their new glory, see http://northernreflections.wordpress.com/

Every day I glean messages, inspiration, and a fresh sense of wonder from my gardens.  I have several around our part of our condo, but this patio garden pictured above is my favorite because—as you can see from the photo—it’s an extension of our living room.  The little garden is with us every day, all day, and we love it.

Margaret L. Been, ©2010

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Back in 1993, Joe and I went abroad for our first and probably last time.  We spent 17 days traveling back roads of England, Scotland, and Wales—in a rented car which Joe drove on the “wrong” side of the road.

We stayed at sheep farms and small town inns, and it was wonderful.  Touring the British countryside had long been my desire, and we were not disappointed.  Adventure and beauty greeted us around every bend, and we were not in the least bit tempted to venture into a city . . . .

. . . . except for on the last day.  Scheduled to fly back to the U.S. from Gatwick, which is 30 miles or so out of London, we spent our last night at a farm near Dorking.  We decided to ride the commuter train from that village into London, where we planned to transfer from Victoria Station to Paddington Station and (hopefully) buy a Paddington Bear to take home as a souvenir.

The train ride into London was fascinating, as the track ran through the back yards and alleys of old—I mean OLD!—neighborhoods.  From the windows, we saw one consistent sight in even the tiniest city yards:  carefully tended, interesting plots with funky “art” and a sweet little potting shed in the corner of most every garden.

How the Brits love their gardens!  I was totally captivated by the concept of a LITTLE garden.  At the time we lived on acreage, and I had very unruly gardens scattered hither and thither—plots which I couldn’t begin to manage.  The idea of a tiny garden right outside one’s door got planted then and there in my head, where it has remained dormant until just 2 weeks ago.

Now in our small condo, I’m enjoying a tiny garden plot alongside our patio—with about as much space as the gardens we saw where the train ran along the back yards of London.  Bleeding hearts, chives, tulips, and a couple of hardy rose bushes had already been planted here, and I am dividing and adding.  By the end of May, I hope to have an English garden packed with perennials spilling over each other in quest of the morning sunlight, and then relaxing side by side in the afternoon shade.

On clear days, I toss colorful fabric and a Southwestern Indian rug over patio chairs—and my Teddies go out to bask in the sun.  Sometimes Paddington Bear goes out too, although when this photo was taken he was “still sleeping” so I left him inside.

Incidently, there were no Paddington Bears at Paddington Station.  I got my Paddington Bear at K-Mart, in Waukesha, Wisconsin.  Go figure!  🙂

Margaret L. Been—All Rights Reserved

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