Sunday, November 29, 2009

Twilight Sampler

The blocks I received in the Twilight exchange came to the top of my swap block box (say that three times fast!). I put them up on the design wall just to see what they looked like....and here is what they became. This is still a flimsy (unquilted top) and I expect it to stay that way for a while. It's 84 x 84.

Monday, November 23, 2009

T-shirt quilt: finished!

"Out of the strain of the doing, into the peace of the done."
I offered a t-shirt quilt in the 2008 Rotary auction. Cindy B. was the successful bidder. She wanted a quilt for her son Chris, who graduated from high school this year. In August Cindy brought me the t-shirts that Chris selected. It took me a while to choose from among them, and then decide how I wanted to set them, and then how to quilt the result. (Reading blogs and discussion group posts about t-shirt quilts provided almost too much inspiration!) It's big -- 84 x 87. The quilting isn't perfect (despite fusing the motifs to interfacing, the t-shirt fabric still stretched). But it's done! And Chris will have a quilt for Christmas.
I hope to have a burst of productivity now that this logjam has been broken.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish

I make this relish every year. We love it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

84, Charing Cross Road: 60 years ago today, and my follow up

From today's edition of "The Writer's Almanac"
"It was on this day in 1949 that Helene Hanff wrote her third letter from New York City to a used bookshop at 84 Charing Cross Road, London. It was the beginning of a flirtatious epistolary friendship across the Atlantic that lasted for 20 years and revolved around classic literature. The letters were collected into 84, Charing Cross Road, a book Hanff published in 1970 and later adapted for the London stage, into a Broadway production, and into a film starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins (1987).....
"After 20 years of corresponding with Frank Doel, Hanff received a letter from the bookstore that he had passed away. She had never made it to London nor met him in person. The day in 1969 that she found in her mailbox the news of his death, she also found a rejection slip for a play script she'd submitted.
"She decided then that she was going to share the story of her correspondence, but figured it would be in a magazine article. But in 1971, she ended up publishing the letters in a slim book, just 97 pages long. It was a huge success (though no one had really expected it to be) and became a best-seller. The Wall Street Journal said of her book: 'A real-life love story … A timeless period piece. DO READ IT.'"

In 1981 I created a booktalk based on Helene Hanff's three books: 84, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, and Q's Legacy. My booktalk included her reply to a fan letter that I had written her (I still have the letter) and an article she wrote for Reader's Digest about the success of 84 in which she mentioned the number of books people sent her (c/o the address in the book, which was several apartments prior to where she lived then), not thinking to enclose return postage, and the reviewer who suggested that people sent her money to help fund a trip to England (which they did, and she did).

In 1990 I was co-chairman of the Maine Library Assn. annual conference. I thought I'd invite Ms. Hanff to be the speaker at the banquet. That was before websites and e-mail, of course. I went to the library's collection of telephone books and, yes, she was in the Manhattan directory. So I called her -- and she answered! In an evocative throaty (smoker/drinker, most likely) New York accent, she said that she appreciated the invitation but was unable to travel.

I confess that I haven't seen the stage play or the movie. I like the mental pictures that reading these charming books provides.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Book review

I'm giving a book review this evening for the Women's Club at Our Lady of Humility church. It's become an annual event, which is nice because I have gotten to know many of the women. (You know you're settling into a community when you see people you know at the grocery store and the post office.)

Here are the books I'll be talking about:

*American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld -- a novel about the first lady of the U.S. (not quite Laura-and-W, but almost!)

* Broken for You and Sing Them Home, by Stephanie Kallos -- she writes like Anne Tyler with quirky characters you are so glad you're not related to, whose stories are so compelling that you have to keep reading

* Emily Post, by Laura Claridge -- "daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners"

* The Red Leather Diary, by Lily Koppel -- this is a one of my favorite books this year. Koppel found a diary in the trash and was able to find the woman who wrote it.

* Unfinished Desires, by Gail Godwin -- to be published in December, an intriguing, un-putdown-able story about the alumnae of a Catholic girls' school

* Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog and Script and Scribble, by Kitty Burns Florey -- the first is about diagramming sentences, which she and many people (including me) liked to do; the second is about penmanship's heyday and its decline

* I Feel Bad About My Neck, by Nora Ephron -- this is a collection of essays with some spot-on observations. My favorite is about purses.