Thursday, April 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday

I've felt nostalgic the last couple of weeks when I haven't been preoccupied with the basement and preparing for the AAUW convention and investigating sites for the 2016 quilt guild show. 

 Forty years ago this month I moved to Texas to begin my professional career as a public librarian.

That school year I was a leadership consultant for Alpha Gamma Delta, a wonderful job that let me travel to more than 40 college campuses. In February I was sent to Texas A&M to start an Alpha Gam chapter. I had begun my library job search and called on Mrs. Hazel Adams Richardson, the head librarian at the Bryan (TX) Public Library. She did not have any openings, but she took my resume. When the board of the Nancy Carol Roberts Memorial Library in Brenham needed a new librarian they called Mrs. Richardson who told them about me.  I rented a car, drove the 40 miles from Bryan to Brenham to be interviewed, and they hired me! I gave notice to Alpha Gam and flew home to Northbrook in mid-April.

 I rented a studio apartment in Brenham sight unseen. I knew nothing about negotiating salary or benefits. (My mother said I could not not have health insurance, and called the library board president on my behalf. Health insurance had not occurred to the library board, either, but the board president was able to get me on the city’s plan.)  I had to buy a car. My dad was on a business trip so he couldn’t help. My mother didn’t know much about buying cars, but together we found a year-old Ford Maverick that had only 600 miles and still had the new car warranty.  I emptied my savings account and got a $1000 loan to pay for it.  I packed the car and set out for Texas!  I got as far as Romeoville, Illinois, 65 miles from home, on I-55 when the car broke down. Fortunately I had Amoco Motor Club (like AAA—free towing) and fortunately there was a Ford dealer less than 5 miles away. The service manager,  Roy Hoover (I remember!) was so nice. When my mother came to retrieve me (imagine her state of mind) he told her he had three daughters and he hoped that if they were stranded someone would be sure they were okay. The car’s engine block cracked.  Mr. Hoover located a replacement, the warranty paid for it, and Mother took me back to Romeoville two days later.  [In those days Romeoville was out in the country. Now it is suburbia. The Ford dealer is still there. Every time I take I-55 downstate and pass the dealership I think of my experience.]

I think it took three and half days to get to Brenham. I stopped in Normal, Illinois, to visit a colleague who was the Normal PL children’s librarian. She gave me a crash course in setting up a summer reading program and giving story hours. (My plans were to be an academic reference librarian so I did not take any public library courses.)  I visited college friends in St. Louis and in Dallas.  Since the apartment lease did not start until May 1, one of the library board members, Mrs. Stinnett, let me stay at her house. On my second day on the job she said she’d been at the beauty parlor and heard about another furnished apartment owned by the mayor’s mother-in-law.  It was closer to the library and it was less expensive than the studio.  I cancelled the studio lease and moved into 208 Baber. At first I was in an apartment adjacent to Mrs. Durden’s house.  Two months later I moved to a garage apartment in back of her house. I lived there until December, 1979, when I moved to Kansas to be director of the Pittsburg Public Library. 

It was a great first job.  My ignorance was tremendous – library school taught theory but there’s a lot more than theory in running a small-town public library. I learned on the job, sometimes the hard way. I am grateful (and in retrospect, I'm amazed) that the Fortnightly Club (NCRML’s library board) was willing to take a chance on a not-quite-23-year-old.    I had a wonderful time!

The whatchagot box arrived

I hosted a "whatchagot" box swap for the Block Swappers.  The idea is to send "what ya got," that is, quilty stuff you no longer love, to your assigned recipient and in return receive quilty stuff from your assigned sender.  I sent a box off to Corinne in Washington.  Today I received a box from Joan in Michigan.

Remember the Contadina commercial? -- "How did they fit eight great tomatoes in that little bitty can?"
That's how I felt about Joan's box.  Look what was inside. Novelties, batiks, paisleys, dots, patterns, and a dishcloth.  Thank you, Joan!
P.S. Since I sent a comparable quantity to Corinne, I consider the Whatchagot Box swap to be a wash in my acquisition/use calculation.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

DWM: special events while still displaced

Special events this weekend:  on Saturday the 13 P.E.O. chapters in Lake County held their annual Founders Day celebration.  I have gotten to know many of the women in area chapters over the years and it was nice to see so many again.  The program featured four women who have been recipients of P.E.O. projects funding. Three of them are now members. One received an International Peace Scholarship and came from Germany to study at the University of Illinois back in 1953. She married an American and stayed. Two received Program for Continuing Education grants for women whose post-high school studies have been interrupted. (One is a nurse, the other is a counselor.) The fourth is a graduate of Cottey , the women's college that P.E.O. owns. All of their stories were inspiring and it was wonderful to see the results of our fundraising in person.

On Sunday I drove to Wilmette to hear novelist Jane Smiley. Her book Some Luck is the Wilmette Public Library's community reading selection.   The sequel, Early Warning, has just been released.  They are two thirds of the Last Hundred Years Trilogy, chronicling an Iowa family from 1920 to the present day.   I got advance copies of both at ALA (one last summer, one this winter). I'm including them in my spring book review lineup -- presentations tomorrow (April 27), at the AAUW-IL convention this coming Friday, and for another group on May 8.  (Ms. Smiley said that volume 3 will be published in October. I can't wait!)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:
Our phone was disconnected the day that the insurance adjuster tried to call us. Since she couldn't reach us by phone she sent a letter that arrived Monday. I promptly called. Her schedule for the week was set and the soonest she can come is this coming Wednesday, April 29.  We need her to see all the damage before the new flooring can be laid, and the contractor has other jobs before us. He told me this evening that the preparation, the installation, the baseboards, and the carpentry will take 3-4 days.  Then the ServiceMaster crew comes and moves the furniture, fabric, books, etc. back.

I will be patient. My husband will be patient.  It will be beautiful when it is all done.

Here's the scrappy project I made this week. I had many of the 1.5 x 7 strips already cut. I was able to get to the bin of blue FQs in the garage so I could cut more strips.  This is 60 x 60.  I may put a border on it, or I may add another row or two of blocks to lengthen it.

This is the beginning of the tote bag that I need to finish for the P.E.O. state convention in June. It's adapted from a pattern in the August, 2005, AmP&Q.  (The strippy center fabric will have a yellow border. The body of the bag will be black. I have the fabric for the lining, too, but I need to find batting (in the garage, somewhere). )

Under the needle now: 3.5" red rails blocks. I made two red rails quilts a few years ago. I've been cutting 3.5" strips for a while. When they filled these candy boxes I decided it was time to start sewing. 66 blocks made so far.

See what other quiltmakers are working on at Beth's Monday Making  and Judy's Design Wall Monday

Family quilts

Pam lives in the town twelve miles west of me. We've known one another since grade school, but our paths diverged. We reconnected on Facebook after more than thirty years.. She mentioned that she had some family quilts I might like to see and we finally got together last Monday.

The quilts were most likely made by Aunt Alice, who was actually Pam's cousin Sue's great-aunt. (Pam and Sue are paternal first cousins. Aunt Alice was Sue's maternal grandmother's sister. Got that?  Nearly everyone who knew Aunt Alice called her that -- including me.)   All are machine-pieced with a slightly-wider-than-1/4" seam.

These wonky log cabin blocks are made from silk and rayon neckties. (1950's?)

 The medallion may be as late as the 1960's.

There were two 30's bricks quilts: one was unquilted. The other was tied. Note the nifty 30's backing fabric.   (The bricks are about 3" x 6".)

Aren't they wonderful?  I've given Pam the name of the closest appraiser so that she can have proper documentation. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The sew must go on

Sewing centers me. When I'm upset or I feel displaced I cut up some fabric. As I sew the pieces together I calm down and regain equilibrium.

Knowing that, and faced with the prospect of not having access to my stash for two weeks (see the previous posts for details), I created a sewing room in exile.  It's also our office, which is already full of files and books. I chose my Pfaff rather than the Featherweight or the 301 just in case I want to do zigzag. I kitted up (is "kit up" a real phrase?) some fabric to get a start on a few scrappy projects.  I made sure to include spools of thread, extra rotary cutter blades, pins, and sewing machine needles.

I pieced and assembled Safari Strings.  It is this month's HeartStrings flimsy.\ (One of my 2015 goals is to make 48 HS blocks each month, enough for a "standard" HS quilt. Click on the HeartStrings label to see the others.)  The animal prints are left over from the quilt I made for DGD's graduation last year (this one).   I didn't have enough of any one animal print for the center strips, so I used a black printed with coppery-gold suns.  Each HS top (strips plus fabric foundations) uses 8 yards.

Now underway: I'm sewing 7"x 1.5" blue strips into sixes, then trimming the blocks to 6.5".  I'm not sure how I'll assemble them.

I'm linking up with other quiltmakers at Judy's Patchwork Times and Beth's Love Laugh Quilt

Basement update

On  Monday morning the flooring contractor inspected the basement. The diagnosis: all the carpet had to go.  Also, the frames for four doors and a closet had taken on water so frames plus doors need to be replaced. He talked to the insurance agent and brought in the ServiceMaster manager. By Monday afternoon the ServiceMaster crew had boxed  the contents of my studio and hauled the boxes to the garage. They moved the larger furniture (sewing table, cutting table, treadle machine) to the laundry room.
              Note:  both the flooring contractor and the ServiceMaster mgr. *complimented me* on how well-organized the contents of the basement were. (Nothing special, just how I shelve                            fabric/magazines/books/stuff.) I asked them to repeat that to my husband. :)  They told some tales of work done in the homes of hoarders and near-hoarders.

 On Tuesday and Wednesday the flooring crew pulled up the carpet and scraped up the underlayment.  Industrial dehumidifiers were brought in.   The internet cable was stapled along the floor molding. When it was pulled to remove the damaged molding the internet/TV/phone service was cut off.  I went to the AT&T store for help and a patient service rep connected me to the repair call center. The AT&T tech came on Thursday. He was very helpful--not only did he reroute the interior wire (so it runs along the ceiling molding rather than the floor), but he also installed a new jack, upgraded the DVR box, and explained everything.

The replacement flooring is vinyl, wood-look ("elm").   When the basement is dry enough (one of the workers comes by every afternoon with a humidity measurer) they can install it and then replace the doors.

Monday, April 13, 2015

DWM: April showers bring blue fans.....and some finishes

See the water stains?
 We got 3" of badly-needed rain on Thursday. "The new sump pump runs so quietly," I observed to my husband.  After supper I went downstairs to sew. The sump pump was so quiet because the breaker had tripped and the pump wasn't pumping.   We used the shop vac to remove water from the concrete floor in the laundry room and the tile floor in the bathroom but the carpet in the family room (my studio) and the spare room (the Deep Stash + seasonal clothes storage) had taken a good soaking. I have a huge streak of optimism and I am grateful that (a) I caught the flood when I did and not a moment later, (b) it was only the circuit breaker (one click and the pump was back in business), (c) the basement floor has just enough slant that the water didn't get damage any fabric.                                            

We rented the fans from the hardware store (gratitude (d): hardware store is open until 8 p.m. on weekdays and had fans in stock that evening) and they've been blowing (noisily) ever since.

We've filed an insurance claim (we have extra coverage for sump pump failure).  What I really want to do is replace the carpet with vinyl.  The carpet was nearly new when I moved in. Of course the best time to replace any flooring is when the space is empty (as in, pre- or post-moving).  I have a LOT of stuff in those carpeted rooms. The flooring guy is coming today.
Boxes from the storage room crowding the cutting table

 BUT I did sew this week!  Pre-flood:  I finished Scrappy Joy.  Before and post-flood:  I finished Sparkling Diamonds -- quilted, bound, labeled, and presented to the AAUW past president who will present it to the AAUW outgoing president in May. (And the past president insists on compensating me (we settled on what a longarmer would have charged).)

We turned the fans off in order to be able to hear our Sunday TV shows (Call the Midwife, Mr. Selfridge, Wolf Hall).  I began setting some 30's 4- and 6-patch units that I made a few weeks ago.  I originally thought I'd use white for the setting squares. One of the boxes temporarily relocated from the storage room contains solids. This peach cotton was on top. Perfect for my project!   (Peach squares are 5" unfinished.)

It's Monday, the day to link up at Beth's Monday Making and Judy's  Patchwork Times

P.S. Lots of erosion at the beach.  I took these photos Sunday afternoon. Aren't these carrotty roots remarkable?

Monday, April 6, 2015

DWM: in between projects

We had a lovely Easter: sunny and mild.  At church there was a potluck coffee hour at 10:00 prior to the 11:00 service. (I made a casserole with hash browns/sausage/eggs.)  Mid-afernoon at home we had lamb, asparagus, and fingerling potatoes. Dessert was light cheesecake (made with low-fat cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream) with orange marmalade topping.

On the design wall:  nine Sea Glass stars (white-on-white background) for the April Block Lotto . The instructions specified that the centers are of "made fabric," with at least four different prints in each. These nine-patches have nine different blues/greens.

I am nearly finished quilting Scrappy Joy.  I have two deadlines coming up: a tote bag for the outgoing chairman of the Lulu Corkhill Williams Friendship Fund (to be presented at the state convention in June) and a quilt for the outgoing Waukegan Area Branch-AAUW president (to be presented at the May branch meeting). There is a benefit to having flimsies (unquilted tops) on hand. Sparkling Jewels will be ideal for the AAUW quilt.

Busy week this week, with a meeting every day (some evening, some daytime).

I'm linking up with other quiltmakers at Patchwork Times and Love Laugh Quilt .

P.S.  Throwback Sunday: Easter, 1987, on Gamage Avenue in Auburn. Stevens was in his first year of seminary.  I can still fit into the necklace.  (I bought the jacket on sale at J.C. Penney and wore it for years.  I made the silk blouse (we called them "shells" back then) and the poly/linen skirt.)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bookshelf, bubbles, and bunco buddies

Bookshelf quilt #34!   Started and finished in nearly record time (Monday - Wednesday).
This one is for a recently-retired coworker from ZBPL.  (How many more of these will I make?   For other ZBPL coworkers when they retire; for ZBPL trustees for whom I worked; and for close friends (librarians) when they retire.)

I was not clear about the size of the bubble blocks I posted earlier this week.
The blocks are 15" x 15" finished. Each is made of four quarter blocks.
The CUT size of the pieces:
3" center square
2" colored strips
1.5" white strips

Also available at Amazon.comKaren DeWitt was the speaker at the Northern Lake County Quilters Guild monthly meeting last evening. Karen is an artist, a quiltmaker, a bunco player, and now a novelist.  She's published three books about a group of eight women who play bunco and make quilts. I bought the first two books from her at our guild show last fall, where she was a vendor. I read and enjoyed them both (okay, I read them last weekend in anticipation of her presentation last night!). The third book came out a month ago and I bought it last evening. If you like stories about quilters and quilting friendship you'll enjoy these.  Here is Karen's website: (  -- note that the books are available as audio downloads as well as in print.

Karen's program was about her quiltmaking journey with a trunk show of her work. She is a professional artist (MFA) and a professional picture framer. She has reproduced several of her pen-and-ink and pastel drawings on fabric (with Spoonflower ) and had them for sale along with her books.  (She's also played bunco with a group of women for about 25 years, though she insists that the characters in her books do not portray any of them.)