Sunday, July 25, 2021

Weekly update: wildflowers! , blocks assembled, and reading

 Signs of progress:  the Zion Woman's Club board and the AAUW Waukegan Branch board met this week. Both groups met in person for the first time in over a year.  It was so good to be together! 

(Left: though this is specifically AAUW, it's representative of the other groups I'm in.  Sitting next to one another in someone's living room after a potluck dinner!)





Stevens and I made several visits to different parts of Illinois Beach State Park and also to one of the forest preserves this past week.  Here are just some of the many photos I took.   

This was the first time I'd taken the Dead River loop (red on the map). I went south that way and came north on the Dunes loop (yellow).  


I waded in the lake today. I have water shoes to protect my feet from the stones.  I had a nice chat about local history with a man who was taking his dog to the beach. The man said that paths like the one on the upper right photo are the remnants of streets from the days when there were houses along the lakefront. (In those days the lake was about 1000 feet farther out than it is today, due to severe erosion.)   


Right: compass plant, bull thistle, nodding onion, cutleaf coneflower, sensitive fern, catnip.
















I picked a half-dozen of the ripest blackberries. They were still very tart.  Lower left: hoary verbena. Upper right:  harebell (another name is Evil Twin!), bittersweet (also climbing spindleberry, "an opportunistic climber and climbs any available tree or structure"),  toadflax or butter-and-eggs.


Left: pickerelweed in the Dead River, a Hallowe'en log (the shelf fungus was very hard). Right: anemone, mountain mint, lady's thumb.


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I have assembled the blocks for the wedding quilt.  

I haven't figured out the sashing between the blocks but I've begun assembling the border blocks.  

I'm ahead of schedule with this project. Barb-the-quilter has it on her calendar for early September.  I gave myself extra time just in case.  That means that I have not planned out or begun the guild challenge. The challenge reveal was going to be at the August 4 meeting.  We will be Zooming again because of a conflict in the meeting place schedule, so maybe they'll have the reveal in September.  I will have to check.   


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"The goal of this work [is] not to resolve all of the problems of a millenia-old phenomenon but to cast a light into its history, its consequences and its presence in our everyday lives." (p. 380)


I learned a lot from Wilkerson's descriptive history of caste vs. class, with comparisons of racism in the U.S. to the Nazi persecution of Jews (and other groups they deemed inferior) and to the centuries-old Indian caste system. I am the audience to whom she's pitching: a member of the "dominant" ethnic/racial group (the story of the three white American women self-identifying by family origin was familiar). "The injustice!" is a natural reaction to the stories, both historical (beatings, lynchings) and contemporary (Wilkerson's own lived experience during her reporting career).

Wilkerson's description ends with the beginning of the prescription: "All of us can sharpen our powers of discernment to see past the external and to value the character of a person rather than demean those who are already marginalized or worship those born to false pedestals." (p. 380) "WE had nothing to do with having been born into privilege or under stigma. We have everything to do with what we do with our God-given talents and how we treat others in our species from this day forward....We are responsible for what good or ill we do to people alive with us today." (p. 387)
I, for one, hope I can be more discerning, patient, empathetic, and kind.


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I very much enjoyed this thoroughly detailed history of a specific collection of quilted textiles. Each piece is placed in context with as much as can be known about the maker, about the type of fabric used, and about the sewing techniques. I learned a great deal about the English-American textile industry and the transatlantic trade. In 2009 a traveling exhibition of Winterthur quilts made a stop at the Milwaukee Art Museum. (I'm sure this book was in the gift shop but I wouldn't have paid the $40 list price. Fortunately in July, 2021, the book on the giveaway table at the quilt guild meeting and I took it! Waiting paid off.)





The Scarlet  Thread, published in 1956,  is the second of five mysteries featuring Gil Donan, a part time sheriff's deputy and part time potter  who lives on an island off the coast of Maine.  ("Note!  Fox Island is purely fictional It lies nor'-nor'-east or sou'-sou'-west, as the reader may wish, of Vinalhaven and North Haven Islands.  Any resemblance to real Penobscot Bay folks is entirely coincidental.") 
A beautiful young woman from exotic New Mexico has rented the old Bickford house.  When she is found dead from a fall down the stairs Gil Donan investigates.  A cast of eccentric characters includes lobstermen, the town librarian, the sisters who run the dry goods shop, the town doctor, the undertaker, wealthy summer people.  Who did it -- and why?  

I came across this copy at an antiques mall a few weeks ago.  It was $3.00 (original price $2.75, which would be about $28 today). It was discarded from the public library in Menominee, Michigan.  Its last due date was was March 12, 1970.  Where has it been for 51 years?  

I worked at public library in Auburn, Maine, for 11-1/2 years. I read many books about Maine and a lot of mysteries -- and many Maine mysteries.  I don't recall seeing any books by Margaret Page Hood.   I looked her up.  She was born in Connecticut in 1891.  By the time she wrote the Gil Donan mysteries she spent winters in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and summers on Vinalhaven. (In The Scarlet Thread there are references to Old Mesilla, the old neighborhood of Las Cruces.)   She died in Las Cruces in 1983.The Maine State Library has correspondence between her and the librarian in charge of the Maine Authors Collection. 

(I'm going to try to track down the other books in the series.) 

Linking up with  Oh Scrap!
 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Frida Kahlo: Timeless


 My sister's birthday gift to me was a ticket to the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Carney Museum of Art at the College of DuPage.  She had a ticket, too, and we met at the museum on Wednesday.  (The first observation both of us made was the prevailing demographic of the attendees: women like us.)  

I didn't know much about Kahlo other than that she was Mexican and married to Diego Rivera.  (I have not seen the biographical movie Frida which came out in 2002.)  





Her father was Wilhelm Kahlo, a German immigrant who changed his name to Guillermo. He was a professional photographer. Her mother was mestiza (Spanish/Indian).  The family lived outside Mexico City.   She aspired to study medicine, but at age 18 she sustained severe injuries in a bus-trolley collision -- spine and pelvic damage that gave her severe pain for the rest of her life.    While she was bedridden recovering from surgery she began painting.  

Frida married Diego Rivera, already an internationally-famous artist, in 1928. He was 20 years older than she.  Their relationship was turbulent --  they divorced and remarried.  They both had lovers.   But he inspired and encouraged her career as an artist.  Their home base was La Casa Azul in Mexico City while they traveled extensively.  And all the while she was in pain and had many operations of varying success.

She died in 1954 (Rivera died in 1957).  Her greatest fame has come in the decades since her death.  This exhibit puts her work into the context of her life, beyond the pop art posters and the unibrow photos.  

Actually, there was more ABOUT her than by her. 


Her self-portraits often show her injury/disability. 










Frida often wore Tehauna-style dresses because the loose blouses covered the back braces and corsets she had to wear.

College of DuPage students recreated these dresses based on photographs. 



"There is perhaps no space that played a larger role in Kahlo's life and development than her bed.  As a child she contracted polio and was bedridden for nine months. The bus accident at age 18 confined her to bed again.  It was in her bed that she began her artistic career, using a custom-designed easel....The bed was her refuge when she was ill....She took center stage at her first solo exhibition appearing in her bed..."

This replica of the bed was funded by the DuPage County area Rotary Clubs in recognition of Rotary's campaign to end polio worldwide.  



And here we are with Frida!  




Sunday, July 18, 2021

Weekly update: the flock is growing, and this week's books

 (Just a short post this time.)


I need 100 Birds in the Air blocks for the wedding quilt.  They'll be assembled in 25 sets of four -- 13 of one color and 12 of the other.  That means 52 + 48 individual blocks.  Each cutting creates two blocks so I just used each of the blue prints until I'd used them all -- more than 52, I'm sure.  I'm now working on the greens.

(Confession:  I went fabric shopping to get more greens.)


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All That She Carried,
by Tiya Miles

In the 1850's Ashley, a 9-year-old enslaved girl in South Carolina, was sold. As a parting remembrance her mother Rosa gave her a cloth sack that contained "a tattered dress, three handfulls of pecans, and a lock of Rosa's hair." We know that because in 1921 Ashley's granddaughter Ruth Middleton embroidered the story on the sack. The sack was discovered at a flea market some 20 years ago and was given to Middleton Plantation, a historic site in South Carolina. Scholar Tiya Miles uses each element -- the sack, the contents, and the women who possessed it -- for a full recounting of the economic, social, and political milieu of slavery and plantation culture.

"The story of the bag and of their family ripples out like salted waves off the coast of Lowcountry, South Carolina, flowing into the histories of African America and the United States of America....this story cloth captures the emotional texture of Black women's lives during and after slavery, and reveals the staying power of love across time..." (p. 292)

I came for the textiles and stayed for the explication. (Truly, a story based on fabric spins out into history.)  All That She Carried  is an outstanding example of material culture scholarship.

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Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann


Classical references add dimension to this tale of intergenerational family turmoil played out in a small Texas town over the course of one week. After thirty years of marriage June Briscoe only tolerates her husband Peter. His philandering is an open secret in Olympus. Their son March returns home after a two-year absence caused by his brief affair with his brother Hap's wife Vera. Fraternal twins Artie and Arlo, Peter's children from a previous relationship, are back in the Briscoe family orbit. Artie has been the manager for Arlo's music career, though she'd rather spend her time hunting and fishing. [Have you caught on to the mythical references yet? Clue: March's dogs are Romulus and Remus.] When Artie's boyfriend is killed in a tragic accident the twins cover for one another. Multiple strands, not very tightly wound in the first place, unravel rapidly.

No one is completely wrong but no one is completely justified. Epigraphs are quotations from Ovid. Classical lore continues to influence contemporary literature. 

Linking up with Oh Scrap!   Monday Making      Design Wall Monday

Friday, July 16, 2021

Friday check in: Protective Coloration is a flimsy

But first, some state park photos.   As we drove into the park we saw a man on a bicycle, stopped, looking at a turtle in the middle of the road.  I pulled over.  "It's a snapper," the man said.  He retrieved a forked branch from the roadside and I took pictures as he encouraged/urged the turtle to get to safety.  





Monarchs are active now and there is a lot of milkweed in the state park. 

 




 I got some raspberries before the birds did.  (Generous person that I am, I gave these morsels to my husband who downed them in one gulp.) 


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Protective Coloration is a flimsy!  I auditioned several fabrics for the border. Nothing clicked (wrong brown, too dark, too light). I looked on another shelf and found a something just right.  5-3/8 yards.

 Lots to do this weekend, quilt wise and mostly otherwise.   

Linking up with blogging friends at  Finished or Not Friday




Tuesday, July 13, 2021

WHCLIS remembered

 

Thirty years ago this week!
The second White House Conference on Library and Information Services was held in Washington, DC, from July 9-13, 1991. I was one of the "library professional" delegates. It was event-filled, exciting, and energizing. It introduced me to federal bureaucracy and politics, as well as the power of advocacy. I was elected (or did I volunteer?) to the WHCLIS Taskforce which provided a wealth of experience and many friends.
(Note the logo: going from books to floppy discs.)

The delegates' tote bags had the same logo as the button. I still have the tote bag, too. I was the co-chair of the 1992 WHCLIST (=taskforce) conference and later edited the WHCLIST quarterly newsletter. Annual conferences were held until about 2001. I went to many (Washington, DC three times; Indianapolis; Santa Clara, CA; Charleston; Little Rock.) I gave the file box with planning and program documents as well as the 1991 delegate binder to the ALA Archives at the University of Illinois.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Weekly update: wildflower bounty, new scrappiness, and reading

 Wildflowers are in abundance at Illinois Beach State Park and the forest preserves (McDonald Woods).

Left: creeping juniper, also called Waukegan juniper because it is native to this part of the lakeshore; shrubby St. John's wort.
Center: evening primrose. Left: white meadowsweet.  Right: butterfly bush.

Soapwort, pinnate prairie coneflower, creeping thistle.   Turk's cap lily (twice), bladder campion, pale purple coneflower, sawtooth sunflower.  



This was new to me.  rattlesnake master, eryngium yuccifolium. Also called button snakeroot or bear grass.  Note the yucca-like leaves.  It's very invasive. The upper-left photo shows an entire meadow of them, with a few rudbeckia mixed in.  



Last year I made a note of the profusion of teasel along the roadways.  The new crop is sprouting amidst the old. (All three photos were taken in the same patch.)

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 I've made more Birds in the Air blocks for the wedding quilt.  It's easy to make two blocks out of each green or blue + gray combination. 



The BITAs are on the sewing table for the photo because this new project has landed on the design wall.  I was aiming for a woven effect with gold sashing alternating with brown sashing but that seems rather subdued. Let's call it protective coloration.  





Each flying goose is made from two 2-1/2" HSTs. I have a box of those but I am making some more to add to the variety.  

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I'm halfway through an absorbing but dense history book but I had to take a break. This advance reader copy from early 2021 was just right. 

Getting into trouble seems to be a generational trait for the Gogarty family. Grandmother Millie is trying to stay independent but has a small shoplifting problem. And, oh, yes, there are those fender-benders. Just don't ask look to closely at her housekeeping. Son Kevin is a stay-at-home dad, not by choice (the celebrity magazine biz isn't what it used to be). His wife Grace has a successful, high-pressure career so Kevin can jolly well cope with the four children. Sixteen-year-old Aideen is enrolled at a boarding school in hopes that her grades (and attitude) will improve. Of course she hates it and plots a way to escape.


Kevin hires a caregiver to look after Millie. What could go wrong? A brisk caper ensues with twists and turns. It's best not to dwell on the plausibility. Just sit back and enjoy the tale.

Linking up with Oh Scrap!     Design Wall Monday   Monday Making



P.S.  A painted turtle crossed the path at the state park.  


  






The gorgeous orange butterfly weed needs a bigger photo! 




A vintage good-bye

There are old clothes -- that pair of slacks with legs that are wider than current fashion; the sweater that doesn't fit right; the skirt that's the wrong length but can't be hemmed.  I've always been pretty good about bundling those up and taking them to Salvation Army.  (And in turn I've gotten some great new-to-me clothes from thrift shops.)

But there are also Old Clothes that you have had just about forever.  I hadn't realized what my mother had kept from my growing-up years until we had an estate sale after our parents passed away in 2002.  The sale was very successful and lucrative but there was a lot left over -- including some of those Old Clothes.  I folded them and put them in a space bag (remember those? suck the air out with a vacuum cleaner). The parcel was relegated to a shelf in the cedar closet in the basement.  I knew it was there but I just ignored it.  

Finally, this summer, I took it out.  I'd forgotten just what was in the parcel (note: space bag seals fail, and vacuum-packing does not prevent wrinkles).  Here's what I found. 


Senior year dresses. Left:  when our Job's Daughters group went to the state conference in Springfield (April, 1970) we made all-the-same dresses.  Center:  h.s. graduation dress, 1970.  Right:  all-wool "skort"--a jumper with shorts-legs.






High school skirts.  Left:  Garland skirt with coordinating blouse. (I had a cardigan and kneesocks dyed to match.)  From freshman year.

Second: Garland skirt, sophomore year. I had a v-neck pullover and kneesocks dyed to match. 

Third: sophomore year.

Right:  Villager was THE brand to have. It was expensive so I only had a few Villagers.  This skirt was the length of the others when I was in high school.  In college I cut it so short that I only wore it a couple of times.  


(What amazes me is that I was overweight in high school.  These are size 12. Oh, I so wanted to be a 9.)





The third skirt is made from "bonded" wool. No lining required. 


Fisherman's sweaters were all the rage my sophomore year.  This is by Bobbie Brooks and I wore it for many years. 




Another Bobbie Brooks, part of my going-to-college wardrobe. Polyester double knit was the miracle fabric -- and, by golly, 51 years later it is NOT WRINKLED.  







Polyester chiffon over stiff polyester lining from 1974.  I was my best friend Alex's maid of honor. It looks funny on the hanger because the dress has a halter top and there's a capelet.   




My niece buys, sells, and collects vintage clothing. I'm going to send these to her to do with as she pleases.


Thanks for joining me on this sentimental journey! 



P.S.  They are still happily married. Three kids, six grandkids.  

Friday, July 9, 2021

Friday check in: on the map and underway -- with Positivity

 

How cool is this?  My town is on commercially-printed quilt fabric! 

It's BasicGrey "Compositions" for Moda. I bought it because of the soft gray-on gray color and because I like text prints. When I took it out to cut into it I took a moment to read it.

The map image shows the railway depots north and northwest of Chicago.  Winthrop Harbor is the farthest northeast. The vertical white lines are part of the fabric design. My guess is that it's pre-WWI.  There are some stations that aren't towns (e.g. Ontarioville, now part of Hanover Park; Leithton, now part of Vernon Hills). There are towns with railway depots nowadays that aren't on this map. (Example: my hometown, Northbrook, which is between Glenview and Deerfield that are on the map.  Nbk. was  Shermerville until 1929.)   

The other images on the fabric are maps of parts of Central America, Portugal/Spain/France, and the Baltic Sea with coastline of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.  The other text is taken from books or newspapers and is very soft and blurry.  

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I'll only keep one repeat of that particular print. The rest will be used as part of the wedding quilt that, ta-da!, I have begun.  The design I have in mind will require 100 6-1/2" blocks, half green/gray and half blue/gray. 

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I finished quilting Positivity Plaid, my entry in Preeti's Positivity QAL  I pieced extra blocks into the back.  It's 58 x 68.



I took PP for show and tell at the quilt guild's IN-PERSON ice cream social meeting on Wednesday evening.  It was so great to see guild friends in real life after months of Zooming! 

I got so caught up in socializing that I volunteered to be the Block of the Month chair for 21-22, starting in September.  Fortunately Marge C. spoke up and said she'd help. We brainstormed for about five minutes and decided we'll do basket blocks lotto-style. (That is, we'll provide the pattern and a common fabric each month. Participants will bring finished blocks the next month for a pool that one or two will win.  By contrast, the past five years the BOM has been make-and-keep-your-own.)   

If you have a favorite basket block, let me know!

 


Linking up with other quilters at  Finished or Not Friday