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Saturday, September 9, 2017

A busy month is underway -- fabric included

September began briskly!  Labor Day weekend is Zion's Jubilee Days.  Sunday evening we went to the Lake County Symphony concert in the park followed by fireworks.

The Prayer Breakfast was Monday morning. It's sponsored by the ministerial alliance. The speaker this year dressed in period costume and talked about the Black Robed Regiment -- 18th century preachers who sided with the Americans in the revolution.  Monday afternoon was the big Jubilee Days Parade. It draws about 15,000 spectators and has 90 parade entries.  I was the announcer this year.  I spoke for the video camera, not to the audience, but it meant I sat in the reviewing stand. Every other year I've thrown candy while seated on a float or walking next to one (for the library or Rotary). This was a new perspective.

Tuesday afternoon the Zion Woman's Club had its first meeting of the season. That evening I went to the Alpha Gamma Delta alumnae club meeting. Most members live farther away than I like to drive at night but this time the hostess lived in Lake Forest. It was so nice to see those I've known for a long time (one back to 1972 when I was in college) and to meet new, young (under 30!) alumnae.

Wednesday we went back to Lake Forest for the opening meeting of Reading Power, the tutoring program that my husband volunteers for.  We sat with my AAUW/quilting friend Eleanor at lunch. I hadn't seen her for a long time and it was great to catch up.

The quilt guild had a potluck dinner Wednesday.  These were the table favors.  Clever!

Rotary met at the usual time -- 7 a.m. Thursday -- but at a different place. We dedicated a bench to honor Bob's 50 years of service to Rotary. The bench is in their garden.

I had two more meetings Friday (Coalition for Healthy Communities and P.E.O. Round Table). AAUW had a potluck breakfast Saturday morning.  (Topic:  the simple truth about the gender pay gap .) I have minutes transcribed and am nearly finished with the AAUW recap for the branch newsletter.

And now on to quilts and fabric.

This is the mini-quilt my Teal Swap partner made for me. It looks three-dimensional! The bright teal squares are the common fabric.
The swap raises funds for ovarian cancer research.

I was not going to buy any fabric in September but that lukewarm resolution evaporated when I went to an estate sale on Thursday.  48 yards for $64 -- that's $1.33/yard!   The selection includes Moda, Kaufman, and Hoffman and a 5-yard piece of white-on-white that will be very useful.

These vintage finds came from the sale. The Irish linen napkins are still in their souvenir box.

I stopped at a garage sale on Saturday afternoon.  How could I not spend $2 for these?  Back home I measured them: 6 yards.  That's .33 per yard!

Tree Farm is about 75% quilted.  It will stay that way for the next ten days.  The limo will fetch us at **4:30 a.m.** tomorrow and take us to O'Hare. Our Road Scholar course -- Ottawa, the Thousand Islands, and Niagara -- begins tomorrow evening!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Newbery Reviews: the best summer

Because Labor Day marks the end of summer it's appropriate that I finally composed the review for this essence-of-summer Newbery winner. 

Thimble Summer             (1939)
By Elizabeth Enright

When I was in fifth and sixth grade Elizabeth Enright was my favorite author. I read Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away a dozen or more times (in fact, I checked out GAL and renewed it repeatedly so that the checkout card had my number (C2353) in a long string).   I have the copies of the Gone-Aways that my parents special-ordered from the small bookstore.  Around that time my mother checked out The Four-Story Mistake for me to read when I was home from school with a cold. I loved it and soon after discovered the other three books about the Melendys – The Saturdays, Then There Were Five, and Spiderweb for Two.   I have the trilogy The Melendy Family (comprising the Saturdays, FSM, TTWF) with Enright’s prefatory essay explaining the background for the books.  I also have an ex-library copy of SFT.   I wrote a fan letter to Enright in 1965.  The response   was a form letter from her son (a professor in North Carolina) saying that Enright had passed away.  I cried.

Oddly, Thimble Summer was not an Enright that I read repeatedly, nor did I acquire a copy.  I was aware of it, for sure, because the chapter “Locked In” was part of the Childcraft anthology.  (I blogged about it here:
The color illustrations have Art Deco overtones.

I was delighted upon my re-reading the story.   When Garnet Linden is nine she finds a silver thimble in the creek bed near her Wisconsin farm home. She considers it a good omen and the summer vacation that follows is a time of discovery and delight.  Harvesting crops, working in the garden, going to the fair, a new foster brother – plus, of course, an unexpected night in the public library – make an ordinary summer extraordinary.  

I’ve been to south-central Wisconsin where the book is set. (Enright grew up in Oak Park. She was a cousin of Frank Lloyd Wright. The family came from Richland Center, Wisconsin. ) I’ve been to a lime kiln and to county fairs.  I’ve spent many evenings, including an overnight, at the library.  I can feel the shimmering heat, the smell of the welcome rain, and the taste of freshly-baked pie. 

Many devices that Enright used in TS are used in her later books.  It was fun to make the connections. The runaway farmhand Eric whom the Lindens welcome into the family is like Mark in TTWF.   Mr. Freebody, the old bachelor who comes to Garnet’s rescue, is like Jasper Titus (TTWF and SFT).  Older brother Joe is to Garnet what Rush Melendy is to Randy. Names like Garnet and her best friend Citronella are like GAL’s Portia Blake and Minnehaha Cheever.  

What a joy!  Thimble Summer reaffirms my admiration for a favorite author.

Newbery Reviews: old and new

Original cover

Ginger Pye, by Eleanor Estes   (1952)

 Jerry Pye is ten and Rachel Pye is nine.  They live with their parents in Cranbury, Connecticut, halfway between New York and Boston.  Their grandparents live close by with Uncle Bennie, who is their mother’s younger brother and is just three years old.   Both Jerry and Rachel have lively imaginations and ambitions.  Jerry wants to be a “rock man” (geologist).   Rachel wants to be a “bird man” (ornithologist) like their father.   Jerry is impulsive and has big ideas.  Rachel takes action and then worries that she’s done the right thing.

Current cover 
Jerry sets his heart on getting a dog and enlists Rachel in raising the funds to do it.   Ginger Pye the fox terrier becomes a beloved part of the family.   When Ginger goes missing everyone is bereft.  (Spoiler alert:  Ginger returns!)    

There’s enough dramatic tension to keep the story from becoming treacly-sweet.  There are some seamy characters.  In all, this is a warm family story set in a kinder, gentler era.  (The book was published in 1951. The text doesn’t state it, but one of the illustrations is a newspaper story dated 1919.  Cranbury is West Haven where Estes grew up and worked as a children’s librarian.)

Though the book was republished with contemporary cover art, the text still has Estes’ illustrations, which are very amateurish.  Why didn’t the publisher commission a professional artist in the first place?

Miracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorenson (1957)

I remember reading this when I was in grade school but I mis-remembered the location.  All these years I’ve thought that Maple Hill was in Vermont but actually it’s in Pennsylvania. That surprised me but it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story.

Marly’s dad was a prisoner of war and returned to Pittsburgh jittery, prone to dark moods, and unable to work.  The war isn’t named.  Nor is Dad’s condition, though now we call it PTSD.    It would be best for Dad to have the peace and quiet of rural life for his recovery so the family opens up the long-shuttered country house where Marly’s mother spent childhood summers.   They arrive in late winter when the maple sugaring season has just begun.  Their genial neighbor Mr. Chris shows them how he taps the trees and boils the sap to make maple syrup.   “Your great-grandma used to say there is all outdoors in that smell,” he tells Marly. “She called it the first miracle when the sap came up.”

Dad stays in the country while Marly, brother Joe, and Mother return to Pittsburgh. They return for summer vacation to find that Dad is doing much better – not quite his old self, but on the way – another miracle.  It’s a glorious summer with adventures and discoveries.   They decide to stay and the children enroll in the local schools.  Mr. Chris ends up in the hospital but recovers (another miracle).  And then it is maple season again:  the cycle of seasons, the cycle of miracles.

The illustrations are by Beth and Joe Krush, one (well, two) of my favorite illustrators.  I love the detail of their line drawings.  (I can’t help wondering about the untold parts of the story: what was their income with neither parent working?  What did they do about their city house?  The rural town is somewhere northeast of Pittsburgh, but where, exactly?) 

When You Reach Me   (2010)
By Rebecca Stead

 Miranda is in sixth grade.  She and her mother live in an apartment in New York.  Sal’s been her best friend since they were little kids. When he gets punched by the kid across the street he shuts Miranda out, to her puzzled distress.  Meanwhile her mother is preparing to be a contestant on the $20,000 Pyramid. They’re both dreaming of what they can do with the prize money.  Then Miranda begins to receive cryptic notes: “I am coming to save your life, and my own.” Who is sending them and what do they mean?

The book was set in 1979 though it was published in 2009.  That reminds me of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone mysteries which are also deliberately set in pre-Internet days.  Whether the character is a New York 6th grader or a California P.I., the extra effort to find out whatever it is without referring to Google or Wikipedia helps flesh out the story.  It also makes this a “contemporary historical” story that won’t get dated because it’s already set in the past.

Kids and adults note the references to A Wrinkle In Time, which is Miranda's favorite book.  The library copy has a science fiction spine label. I don’t think it’s quite sci fi – rather, just enough alternate reality to get the reader thinking.

New cover
I, Juan de Pareja   (1965)
By Elizabeth Borton de Trevino

I remember seeing this book at the library – my hometown library and all the libraries where I worked. The cover was odd and the text seemed dense. It just didn’t appeal to me.  In retrospect that’s an odd reaction because I have always enjoyed historical fiction, especially when it’s based on real people. 

Juan de Pareja tells his own story.  He is a Moor, born into slavery in 17th century Spain. When his wealthy mistress dies he become the property of her cousin.  That cousin is Diego Velazquez, the premier portraitist of Spain and, indeed, of Europe.   As the tale unfolds we learn about the restrictions on slaves. They could not earn their own money. They could not practice trades outside of their masters’ establishments. Juan discovered he had talent as an artist but he could not legally exercise it. 

Original cover
Juan’s tone is measured and formal, perhaps because that’s how we think that people spoke centuries ago and also because he had to be careful of what he said, just as he had to watch what he did. Though Velazquez treated him fairly and eventually freed him (thus allowing Juan to be one of the studio apprentices), he was still his master’s subject.

The new edition features Enrico Arno’s cover illustration for the book. It depicts Juan and King Philip of Spain together painting a cross on Velazquez’s self-portrait. The king’s Hapsburg jaw (a famous congenital malformation) is obvious, now that I know about that part of history.

This Newbery winner has more appeal for adults than kids. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

August roundup and September OMG

Rabbit, rabbit!  
It's the first of the month.  
(Here is the explanation of the saying.) 

You can hear the chorus: "Where has the summer gone?"  

Texas friends and relatives report that they escaped major flooding from Hurricane Harvey. I chose to send money rather than quilts to aid relief efforts right now.  I can send quilts later.

I came to the conclusion that the house would not clean itself.  I had really let things get out of hand.   Never again!  I engaged a house cleaner who was recomended by a friend. She spent *18* hours on the upstairs and it looks wonderful.  We're going to have her come once a month.  (My studio is downstairs. I will tackle that.) 

Here's the stash report:  
Fabric in, January-July:  203-2/3, $827.99
Fabric in, August: 47, $177.05
Total fabric in, YTD: 250-5/8, $1005.14, average $4.00
   (among the bargains this month: an all-cotton duvet cover, 8 yards for $3!)
Fabric out, January-July: 336-1/4
Fabric out, August:  48-1/2
Total fabric out, YTD:  384-3/4 
    (that includes fabric given away and fabric sold, as well as fabric sewn)
Net: 134 yards out

My entry for the OMG September is to finish the Tree Farm quilt.  I made two green trees last night. The third tree is ready to assemble.  We will be on vacation (hooray!) from September 10-21 so I won't have much sewing time.  Here is the linkup:  One Monthly Goal 

I took this picture on my postprandial walk last evening.  The ring around the sun and the milky clouds are from the Canadian wildfires 1,000 miles away.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Midweek: the tree farm is growing

It took a couple of blocks to get the hang of cutting the 2.5" strips into the required lengths. (White strips are 1.5" to 8.5" and red strips are 2.5" to 8.5".)  There is some duplication from block to block but not within each block. I tried to put the duplicates in different rows.

The blocks are 14-1/2" x 16-1/2" unfin.

This evening I began cutting strips from Christmas green prints. There will be six green-and-white blocks to alternate with the red-and-white.

Cyndy, who blogs at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework, offered to swap novelty prints for "happy pinks and yellows." I took her up on the deal.   What she sent is a great addition to my novelty stash. I'm glad we could help one another out.

I'm linking up with Midweek Makers. Thanks for hosting, Susan.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Weekly update: unplanned and an OMG start

Another scrappy detour!  I credit Wanda, who blogs at Exuberant Color, for my recent infatuation with batik HSTs.  

After I made Batik Jewels in June I still had a stack of 3.5" HSTs.  A quilter posted a photo of this block design to the Scrap Quilt Enthusiasts FB group and I prudently saved the picture. (Hers was fall-colored homespuns.)

The sashing pieces were cut 2.5 x 6.5.
This flimsy is 68 x 72 and used 5-1/2 yards.

I *must* get going on the AAUW holiday quilt.  It needs to be done mid-October so I can sell tickets at the fall workshop.  We'll be on vacation for two weeks in September so that reduces my sewing time.  Every year I know I'll make a holiday quilt and nearly every year I have a heck of a time deciding what to make.

This is "Tree Farm" by Oda May for Moda. You can get the pattern here.  I made one block last evening.

Monday linkups: Design Wall Monday
Oh Scrap!
Monday Making
Main Crush Monday

Attic treasures: archives and memories

Throwback Thursday on Monday . . . Bear with me as I reminisce!

I hadn't been up in the attic for a long time though it is easy to get to with a pull-down ladder in the hallway.  I use it for archival storage -- keepsakes I can't bear to part with but don't need to see every day.  I've been in a bit of a cleaning-out mood of late and decided it was time to venture up.

Over the years I've acquired a lot of Alpha Gamma Delta swag.  Some of this was in the attic, some was in the basement.  I boxed it all up and sent it to AGD International Headquarters for their archives.

The ponte knit pantsuit was my travel outfit when I was a chapter consultant in 1974-75.  I wore other clothes from that year for a long time afterward but because this had the coat-of-arms patch it went into storage, first at my parent's house and then at mine.  At the top right is AGD-print fabric from 1979. It's bottom-weight twill, poly-cotton, too heavy for quilting. I made a skirt and thought I'd make totebags or aprons but never did.

I found these notebooks in a box in the home office closet. They're from 1992 (two notebooks), 1994, and 2000.

Out they go!  I am still a library advocate but I will rely on more current data.

Note the medium I used to record pithy quotations.  (The catalog cards are from the Auburn Public Library.)

These are annotated book lists from long-ago reading programs.

In 1985 APL was selected for a pilot "Let's Talk About It" reading-and-discussion  sponsored by the Maine Humanities Council with a grant from NEH. I remember having to explain what a book discussion entailed. The initial program ("Working") led to my involvement with planning additional thematic programs.  The brochure at the lower left is from The Constitution at 200 -- a program we held in the spring of 2007, 30 years ago!  (I remember the coordinators' seminar the previous summer. Stevens, son Harry (then 14) and I spent a few days with S's mother in New Jersey. We went into the city for a day.  We went to the top of the Empire State Building. Harry and I looked over the edge, marveling at the view and the excitement of city traffic. Stevens braced himself against the inner wall, his face green. Heights are not for him!....Later we were near Central Park and a man passing in the crowd greeted Harry.  Both Stevens and I were ready to pull Harry along (stranger danger!)  But the man was actually someone he knew, a teacher he'd had in Florida.....Back to the reading program:  We drove back to Maine by way of Vermont. Stevens and Harry dropped me off at the Ascutney Mountain Resort. That was the location for the seminar for The Constitution at 200 site coordinators from the six New England states.  I got a ride back home with the librarian from Castine.)

 Poignant:  my mother's purse calendars from 2000 and 2001 and her appointment book from 2001.  She always wrote down the dinner entree. She prided herself on making varied recipes. (And the results were tasty.)

Our family vacation fifty years ago was to Expo 67.   The melamine ashtray was in a box in the attic labeled "keepsakes."  I remember that it was behind the bar in the basement family room at home. (The bar came with the house. My parents used it as a catch-all, not as a party center.)

The circle pin has always been in my jewelry box, jewelry store box and all.  I wear it once a year or so. I get compliments, though people think it's a snowflake or something until I remind them of Expo.