Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A fritillary, some flowers, and forty FQs

We saw this pretty butterfly when we walked at Hosah Beach in Zion yesterday. It is technically a fritillary and its common name is Aphrodite. 
(I looked it up here "Fritillaries are a smaller group within the butterfly family Nymphalidae. All butterflies in this family have tiny front legs that lack claws (in most other butterfly families, the front legs have claws). This family includes many other common butterflies, including viceroys, checkerspots, and heliconians. Togther, all of the butterflies in this family are known as brush-footed butterflies.")

We also saw wildflowers:  spiderwort, hoary puccoon, and more daisies.

 I bought these 40 Moda fat quarters from an advertiser on the Quilters Flea Market group. What a great assortment of neutrals and tans at a bargain price.  Most of the prints were new to me.  These will be very useful.
And now with three posts in one day, I'd better log off and finish packing for the ALA Conference!

Birthday week

You can't hide from birthdays if you're on Facebook.  I had more than 150 birthday greetings on Monday, with a few the day before and a few the day after.  It was a pleasant day:  I wrote a book review, took a walk, pulled some weeds, and finished a quilt.  

The book review was one of two I will present at a panel program at the upcoming ALA conference.  (The program will be taped for BookTV and I will try to remember to share the link.  I'll be talking about Becoming Tom Thumb and Shadow Woman.)

The walk was along my usual  route in our neighborhood --about a mile and a half.

The weeds were mostly  convolvulus -- better known as bindweed.  It takes over the front flowerbed.  It reproduces by rhizome so under the surface there is one huge convolvulus plant. All I can do is pluck, and pluck, and pluck some more.

The quilt is my version of Bonnie Hunter's Tumalo Trail.  I posted a photo of the assembled center a couple of weeks ago.  The border is a cheerful, busy April Cornell print that works very well with the multi-fabric center.  I quilted abstract leaves in the center and straight lines in the border.  It's 72 x 72 and used 10 yards in all. (Those little patches have 20.5 square inches each!)

Little museums

   On Saturday, on our way home from our committee meeting in Bloomington, my friend Ann and I stopped at the Norsk Museum in Norway, Illinois.  Norway  was settled in 1834.  It is an unincorporated town in northeast LaSalle County, about 100 miles from where I live.  (Ann lives in a west-southwest suburb only about 30 miles away so this was in her neck of the woods.)

 The former Lutheran church, closed years ago, houses the museum.  (The Methodist church a block away is operational.)

I enjoy visiting small local museums with displays of items donated by townspeople (and descendants of townspeople). The emigrants' trunks were the most Norwegian things in the museum.  From the farm implements and household items it appeared that the townspeople were well-assimilated by the turn of the 20th century.

Yes, there were quilts. There was also a sewing machine. (I did not lift the lid to see what model).

One of my retirement gifts was a booklet with information about all the local museums and historical societies in Kane and DuPage Counties.  I'd like to visit all of them!  Summer road trip?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Quilt presented!

 I finished the second t-shirt quilt on Tuesday evening.  6 yards for the setting, backing, and binding. I used a motif from one of the shirts for the label.

I met Michael at the library this morning to give him the quilt. (Allen and Dustin helped hold it up, though Dustin stood behind the quilt.)  Michael was very pleased which meant I was relieved. He gave me a thank-you card with a nice surprise -- a Visa gift card! (The quilt was a raffle prize for which he had the winning ticket.)

I'm so glad to have the two t-shirt quilts completed!

Monday, June 16, 2014

DWM: Acquisitions

796.42 is the Dewey # for running
Where did the week go?  I need to look at my planner to remember! Woman's Club board meeting Monday evening, AAUW summer luncheon Tuesday, a long-overdue visit to the attorney to update my trust on Wednesday, Chamber of Commerce committee lunch and Rotary installation dinner on Thursday, *nothing* on Friday, the Reading Run on Saturday morning (I didn't run; I emceed the awards) and the Chicago Bowdoin Club's annual lobster boil on Saturday afternoon.   

I woke up in a swivet on Sunday realizing that I had two audio reviews due to Library Journal two weeks ago, a column for the Zion-Benton News due on Tuesday, and two book reviews for a program at the ALA Annual Conference at the end of June.  I am pleased to report that the LJ reviews and the ZBNews column are in and the ALA reviews are underway.

T-shirt quilt #1 is finished -- quilted and bound. T-shirt quilt #2 is set, basted, and half-quilted.  Hooray!

This was a week of fabric acquisition rather than use. 

On my way back from the attorney's office I stopped at Hancock Fabrics. I bought these Indonesian batiks on clearance (50% off).

When I got home I found that the Whatchagot Box arrived. Joan in Indiana sent this wonderful assortment of fabric and patterns. Thank you!

Batting is 40% off at Joann's.  I decided to buy an entire bolt of Warm & Natural (40 yards) -- three $25 gift cards and the sale would save a lot.  After the clerk rang up the purchase she gave me a 30% off coupon because I'd spent more than  $50. I got to thinking: batting would be on sale after the promo. If I returned the batting and spent $50 on something else then I'd have sale price + gift cards + 30% off --- another $90 savings on that batting.  The clerk processed the return and put my name on the bolt (so no one else would buy it).  I bought some thread and these 50%-off-Red Tag bargains [that's $2.50/yd] to total $50.00.

 I went back to Joann's on Sunday to get the batting.  Now I am well-supplied.
[List price with tax: $632.57.  After the sale and the 30% coupon, plus tax: $265.56. I saved $367.01.]

I'm linking up with other quiltmakers at Judy's  Patchwork Times

Monday, June 9, 2014

DWM: all set (almost)

 I have been muttering about the two t-shirt quilts I *have* to make.  They are on behalf of the ZB Run Squad which coordinates six 5k run/walk events.  Each run benefits a community agency, two of which I'm involved with (the library and the Coalition for Healthy Communities). The library's assistant director is on the Run Squad steering committee. Last year she said that they were brainstorming ways to encourage people to participate in all six races.  I suggested a raffle for a t-shirt quilt and the committe took me up on the idea.  People bought tickets at each run in 2013 and the winner was announced at the final run of the year. 

Heretofore I have made one t-shirt quilt.  It took me months. (Here is the finished product.)  Because of that experience I approached the Run Squad quilt with trepidation.  Then I had double trepidation because the steering committee asked if I'd make a second quilt as a surprise for one of the members who devotes a lot of time to the committee. 

I've had the t-shirts for months. The 2014 run season is in full swing. This week I got going.
I abandoned all thought of fancy sashing. Lime green is indeed a neutral, as the folks at Quilt Country say.  The flimsy on the left is for the committee member (a woman).   It's half-basted as I write this post. I'm using a bright print sheet [$3 at Salvation Army] for the back.  The flimsy on the right is for the raffle winner (a man).  He had more t-shirts so his quilt will be larger. I ran out of sashing fabric and I don't have any other lime greens that will suit. (Trust me, I searched--I have lots of FQs but I want WOF strips). This particular lime is at Hobby Lobby and I will go there today. 

See what other quiltmakers have on their design walls at Judy's Patchwork Times.

Monday, June 2, 2014

DWM: stash report for May, and work in progress

Fabric acquired in May: 96-7/8 yards.  Of that, I only paid $49.68 for 27-1/4 yards.  (2 yds at the craft show in Perth; 6-1/4 from Salvation Army; 19 yards ($5) at an estate sale.)
The remaining 69-5/8 yards were free!  52 yards were retirement gifts; 3/4 yard was a jelly roll that I won; 1-1/2 yards were gifts from the Magpies; 15-1/8 were from the woman who gave her stash to the guild.

I used only 7-1/4.  But then I was out of the country for two weeks!

 Quilt fabric is indeed expensive in Australia -- as much as $24/metre!   Much of the fabric at the vendors' booths at the Perth show was American. I bypassed all of that and bought 8 FQs of Australian prints.  I think they'll make a nice tote bag.

Here are all the souvenirs I brought back from Australia. I think I exercised remarkable restraint.

This is on my design wall.  It's Bonnie Hunter's Tumalo Trail. I made all the nine-patches as leader-and-enders in early spring.  With those ready to go, it was easy to make HSTs from pairs of 4" squares (trimmed to 3.5").  Bonnie's pattern has a piano key border. I don't think I'm going to do that.

My priority this week is to work on the two t-shirt quilts for the ZB Run Squad.  Check back for my progress! 

See what other quiltmakers are up to at Judy's Patchwork Times.

Patchwork Times.

Australia: wombats and wallabies, kangaroos and koalas, quokkas and quilts

We returned from our two-week trip to Australia last Monday.  Jet lag from the return trip affected both of us the rest of the week. I left early Friday morning to go to Springfield for the P.E.O. state convention and got back at 6:00 last night.  Now it's Monday morning, June 2.  I hope this week will be more routine.

On to the travelogue.  In one word, it was WONDERFUL.

The  Magpies, the online quilting group I've been part of since 1997, have an in-person meet up every other year.  The Australians have come to the U.S. several times and they declared it was our turn to visit them this year.  A quilt and craft expo in Perth (May 21-24) provided a focus.  There were five U.S. 'Pies, three husbands, and a daughter (plus a sister and brother-in-law who have lived in Australia for many years).  Each of us made independent travel plans before and after meeting in Perth. 

This was the longest and most involved non-Road Scholar trip we've taken. An Alpha Gam sister is a travel agent in a neighboring town. She was very helpful in getting our flights and arranging for side trips.  We decided on three days in Sydney, three days in Melbourne, and five days in Perth. 

We understand now why people take three or four weeks to tour Australia. Not only is there a lot to see but it also takes a long time to get there (and return).  The LAX to SYD leg is 12-1/2 hours (preceded by 4 hours from ORD to LAX). 

In Sydney we stayed at the Sydney Harbour Marriott. It two blocks from Circular Quay (where the ferry boats dock) and in walking distance to the Opera House and other center city attractions.
Thursday, May 15:
*Museum of Sydney, the historical museum, which gave us a refresher about Australian settlement. The special exhibit was about Chinese immigrants. I had forgotten about Australia's 70-year policy of "whites only," which excluded non-Europeans from immigrating. (The Asians already there could stay.)
* Sydney Aquarium -- we went there because it was closer than the Maritime Museum. We had such a wonderful time at the Quebec Aquarium in December and we were not as impressed by this aquarium.
Friday, May 16:
* In the morning we took the ferry to Manly -- the end of the line on the east side. Manly is a beach town. Though May in Australia is November in the U.S., the water was warm enough to wade in!
* In the afternoon we had a bus tour of Sydney provided by AAT Kings (like Grayline). That gave us a good idea of neighborhoods and historic sites.
Saturday, May 17:
* Sydney Opera House tour at 10 a.m.  They're really good at tours--online booking, two groups per hour, lavalier radio receivers so everyone can hear the guide. The building is distinctive outside and in.
***Walking back along the quay toward our hotel I met a librarian friend from Kentucky! 
* We took the ferry to Parramatta -- the end of the line on the west side. We had lunch and walked around the downtown. (Parramatta was a small town west of Sydney that is now a suburb.)
 * We returned to the Opera House at 8 p.m. to hear the Sydney Symphony Orchestra perform Mendelssohn's Elijah.  There were 100 instrumentalists and 200 vocalists. (We purchased discounted tickets after the morning tour.)  It was splendid!
Opera house after the concert

Sunday, May 18:
We had a mid-morning flight from Sydney to Melbourne and arrived at the hotel about 1 p.m. We stayed at the Crown Promenade. The travel agent booked it and I learned a lesson: look it up.  The Crown is part of a big casino complex but moreover it is across the river from downtown. We were able to walk downtown, but we'd have preferred staying in one of the downtown hotels.

Stevens had a meetup!   Norman Young was the youth fellowship leader at the Summit Methodist Church when Stevens was in high school.  Norman returned home to Melbourne after he received his PhD. from Drew.   Stevens had not had any subsequent contact, but a Google search found Norman in connection with the theological college in Melbourne.  Norman came to our hotel and we had a lovely chat. He remembered the Hilyards and many other people from that congregation.

Monday, May 19:  
Captain Cook's cottage
We met Magpie friend Katie and husband Monty (who also stayed at the Crown Promenade) and Magpie Carolyn (at another hotel) for a half-day AAT Kings tour of Melbourne.  We especially liked the stop at the Botanical Garden. After lunch Stevens and I took the tram (trolley bus) around the downtown loop.  

We all had dinner in Chinatown with Elizabeth, another Magpie who lives in Melbourne. (With four former librarians  (Katie, Elizabeth, Stevens, and me) at the table our conversation turned to wacky reference questions we had fielded.)

Tuesday, May 20:
Black wallaby
I was about 10 feet away
Katie, Monty, Carolyn, and we got on yet another bus at 11 a.m.  Destination: Phillip Island. Our tour guide, Nikki, was very enthusiastic and energetic.  We had a bush tucker lunch at Rhyll Farm. (Bush tucker is native food, and we had a garden walk to see the plants.) We stopped at the koala conservation centre and had our first glimpse of these cute marsupials. The conservation centre has boardwalks so that you can see the koalas at eye level (they spend their time high in the eucalyptus trees). We also saw wallabies and heard kookaburras. 
commercial image from the webiste (rotated)

But the goal of the trip was to see the penguins!  Little penguins are 10" tall and are the smallest of the 17 penguin species.  Thousands of them live at Phillip Island. They spend their days at sea and return to their hillside burrows at dusk.  Watching them come ashore has become a great tourist attraction.  (More info here .) We had trail-side bleacher seats!  [Photography is not allowed;the paths have special lighting that doesn't scare the penguins but allows people to watch them.] 

Wednesday, May 20:  up early for our flight to Perth.  It's two time zones and 2,100 miles from Melbourne to Perth. The flight path is mostly over water (the Great Australian Bight).
Terri was at the airport to meet us and take us to the All-Suites Hotel downtown.  All the Magpies gathered that evening:  Katie and Monty (Nebraska), Carolyn (Texas), MJ and daughter Rachel (Texas), Jean and Blaine (Virginia), Sylvia and Ray (Monty's sister and brother-in-law, who live in Brisbane), our hosts Terri and Gilly who live outside Perth, and us.

With Bub the Wombat
Thursday, May 21:   We had a wonderful afternoon at the Caversham Wildlife Park!  We posed with Bub the Wombat, got to stroke a koala's fur, and fed the kangaroos. (There were dozens of kangaroos and large bins with kibble for people to feed to them. A kangaroo's face is sort of like a rabbit, with a delicate, little mouth. The fur is heavy but soft.)

There were exotic and less-exotic birds.

 I don't rmember what this carnivore is, but I know it's a marsupial.

Friday, May 22:   the Magpies headed to the Quilt and Craft Fair at the Perth Convention Centre.  (The men were on their own for the day. :))  It was very much like the Orginal Sewing and Quilt Expo -- some quilts but also fashion sewing and, in the case of the Perth event, a lot of papercrafts.  I will post quilt pictures in the next blog post.

Anchors outside the museum
 Saturday, May 23: Terry and Gilly took us to Fremantle on the coast. It's the port at the mouth of the Swan River. (Perth is upstream.)  

The weather turned squally (brief but intense showers). We were glad to be inside the Shipwreck Museum.

kite surfers

the Magpie group portrait

Sunday, May 24:  Stevens and I took the ferry from Perth to    Rottnest Island . It is 11 miles offshore and has become a popular day trip destination.  Only service vehicles, including tour buses, are allowed; no private autos. We took a bus tour from one end of the island to the other. It was a windy day and the scenery was wonderful!   Quokkas are Rottnest's indiginous marsupials. The early Dutch explorers (about whom we learned a lot at the shipwreck museum) mistook them for rats, hence the island's name.  They are naturally nocturnal but they know that people will feed them!  
They put their tails forward when they sleep

Blurry because he wanted the food I offered!

Moreton Bay Fig on Rottnes

West end of Rottnest

We returned from Rottnest in time to join the group at Gilly's house for a final dinner. Gilly's husband Bill  and Terri's husband Jeff and son Matt joined us.  Terri took us to the airport at 9:30 p.m. -- in time for our 12:05 a.m. departure for Sydney.  We arrived in Sydney at 7:30 a.m. and departed for Los Angeles at 10:30 a.m. *That* was the grueling flight. We arrived in LA in the morning -- still Monday, since we crossed the dateline.  One more flight from LA to O'Hare -- and we walked in our front door at 6 p.m.

.50, .20, .10, .05 and $2, $1
* Sydney is like Toronto (British heritage/Queen Victoria) with San Diego climate.  Melbourne is like Chicago with San Antonio climate.  I haven't figured out what Perth compares to.
* I got used to seeing right-hand drive, but that doesn't mean I'm ready to try it.  Australian cars are like U.S. models (same brands).
* So many products were similar or the same, from food to clothing, furniture to books. 
* Many chain restraurants were U.S. franchises: KFC, McDonalds, Subway, 7-11.  We shopped for groceries at the Perth downtown IGA.
* People were friendly and willing to provide directions.
* There were many white Americans, few black or Hispanic Americans.

There was so much we didn't see.  I anticipate a return trip!