Monday, September 25, 2017

Heritage Waterways: Road Scholar in Ontario, part II

We checked out of the Kingston hotel on Friday morning and went to Picton. It's a small town on a peninsula that drops down into Lake Ontario.  I knew about it because one of my library coworkers grew up there and made frequent trips back. (She'd leave here at 3 a.m. to get there mid-afternoon. It's quite a haul.  Now they've retired to Colorado.) Picton is just the right distance from Ottawa / Kingston / Toronto to be a popular weekend destination.  We learned more about early 19th-century Canada at the historical museum housed in the old Anglican church and its vicarage. 

The  vicarage had quilts. Isn't this 1830 Prince of Wales Feather a beauty?  (The clamshell hearth rug is hooked.)

Lunch was at the Waupoos Estate Winery with a wine tasting and a delicious meal in their beautiful restaurant looking down to Lake Ontario.  [Waupoos means Little Rabbit. If you read William Kent Krueger's mysteries you'll recognize Wauboo as the name of daughter Jenny's adopted son.]   Grapevines and wineries have replaced acres of apple orchards. 

On to Toronto!  It's the largest city in Canada and the economic center.  (We were last there in 2003.)   

Saturday morning began with Toronto history in a presentation by a local historian.  The rest of the group went on a walking tour.  That was more than my husband could manage. Instead  we got tickets for the hop-on-hop-off bus . (We could have taken the subway but then we wouldn't have seen very much.)  We arrived at the Royal Ontario Museum in time for a free Collection Highlights tour.  We followed that with time in the First Nations and Early Canada galleries, then had lunch in the museum cafeteria.   

The rotunda is Venetian mosaic. Each tile is backed with gold foil and set at a different angle so it sparkles. The wording in the center medallion is from Job: "That all men may know His work." The rotunda was the main entrance until the 2007 opening of the modernist   Crystal building. (I didn't get a photograph of that. It's quite controversial.) 

The bus ticket included a 1-hour ferry ride around the Toronto harbour islands.  Heavy rains early in the summer flooded the islands.  The residents (who by statute must live there year-round, no summer/weekend houses) had to evacuate to the mainland.  It was great to be on the water on that hot, hot Saturday afternoon.    

 The  group dinner was just up the street from the ferry dock.  Instead of seating all of us at one or two long tables we were at tables of four.   Our Magpie friend Lynne joined us.  It was so nice to see her in person again. Great food and great conversation.   

Sunday: from Toronto to Niagara-on-the-Lake. We had a walking tour during which our knowledge of the significance of the War of 1812 was refreshed. In the afternoon we saw "Androcles and the Lion," one of the performances in this year's Shaw Festival  A Road Scholar bonus: a post-performance chat with two of the actors. 

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a charming town that with many restored homes. The main street has beautiful plantings -- more so now at the end of the season when the annuals are at their peak. 

Our next stop:  two nights in Niagara Falls, Ontario.  It was like Las Vegas of the north with a lot more water.  We learned that 20 million people visit the Falls annually -- 12m on the Canadian Side, 8m on the U.S. side.  That traffic is pretty much crammed into the  April-October season (peak is June to August).  There are three waterfalls:  American and Bridal Veil on the U.S. side of Goat Island and Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. Collectively they are called Niagara Falls.

First dinner:  the Keg Steakhouse at Fallsview.
What a background!


LED lighting under the rim of the falls changes color. 

Monday: a Niagara Park ranger provided history of tourism and hydropower at the Falls, then led us on a bus tour along the parkway. We took the Hornblower boat ride. (When Hornblower obtained the rights on the Canadian side a few years ago the Maid of the Mist moved to the U.S. side. The first Maid of the Mist sailed in 1834.)

After lunch: Steve rested at the hotel and I went back to explore.  (Our hotel on Fallsview Blvd. was just up the hill from Niagara Parkway that runs along the river/falls.) There's a beautiful public garden. Nikola Tesla's alternating current won out over Thomas Edison's direct current.

Our final dinner was at the Skylon, a 520-foot tower overlooking the falls. We ate at one of the restaurants. (The view was better than the food.) 

On Tuesday the coach bus took us across the border to the Buffalo airport.  We bid goodbye to our fellow Road Scholars. They flew back home.  We rented a car in order to tour Buffalo, a city neither of us had been to. We were able to check into our motel early (a room was ready at 11 a.m.!) We went to the Albright Knox art museum (and entered just before Mrs. Knox walked in; brief chat with her about Yale). The museum guards were the nicest we have ever encountered--knowledgeable about the collections. The 1905 St. Gaudens building and the 1962 wing will be augmented by a $180m addition in the works. Then around the corner (well, a drive over the expressway) to the Buffalo History Museum housed in a 1901 building, the only permanent structure from the 1901 exposition. They have a new building coming, too.

On Wednesday we went to the Martin House. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for industrialist Darwin Martin and built between 1904-1906.  Mrs. Martin disliked it and the family lived in another house for many years. The house was abandoned (compare to Boldt Castle) and sold for $1 in lieu of back taxes to the nonprofit group that is still working on the restoration.  The horizontal planes of the Prairie Style are a sharp contrast to the three-story late-19th century houses in the residential neighborhood.  The Tree of Life window design is widely reproduced. Note the view from the pergola: one way to the entry and the other way to the Nike at the end of the conservatory. 
Rotary sponsors the acousti-guide. :) 
 Carolyn is a librarian friend who lives in Buffalo. She picked us up at our motel and took us to a suburban outlet of Anchor Bar, the restaurant that invented Buffalo wings. We had a side order of those along with weck.  That's kimmelweck--a soft roll topped with coarse salt and caraway--piled high with thinly-sliced roast beef. Delicious!  

Thursday: home!  Our flight left on time and we walked in our front door at noon.   It's good to be home, but, boy, did we have a great trip!

Heritage Waterways: Road Scholar in Ontario

This is part 1 of the travelog.

Our 36th Road Scholar trip was a tremendous success.  The group leader, Paul, was one of the best ever. He was knowledgeable and caring, aware of all of us without being intrusive.  The weather was extraordinary: unseasonably warm  (good thing we packed short-sleeved shirts; we never wore our fleece jackets) and sunny every single day.  The other people in the group were interesting and friendly.  

In 2014 we drove across Ontario to get to our Road Scholar program on Grand Manan Island. We detoured off the highway at Kingston and discovered the Thousand Islands. We didn't have time to explore but we knew we wanted to go back. We were delighted to find out that Road Scholar had a program specifically for that area.  Here is the official description of "Great Lakes and Heritage Waterways: 1000 Islands, Toronto, and Niagara Falls."   The title is misleading because we only went to one great lake (Ontario) and we spent two days in Ottawa which isn't mentioned in the program name.  

Sunday, September 10:  our flight left O'Hare at 6:45 a.m.  That meant we were up at 4:00 for the 4:30 limo.  Fortunately the hotel had a room ready for us when we checked in at 11:00 a.m.  We had lunch at Tim Hortons....when in Canada, eat the local fast food.

We had free time until Road Scholar check in at 4:00 and dinner at 6:00 so I took a walk.


I went to the main branch of the Ottawa Public Library which was busy that afternoon. You can send the librarian on vacation, but . . . 

Monday, September 11:  
House of Commons 
View from the top 
We began with a presentation about the Canadian system of government. (We observed that Canadians are more knowledgeable about U.S. government and politics than we are about theirs.)  After Confederation in 1867 Montreal, Kingston, and Toronto all wanted to be the capital of the new nation. The honor went to a little trading town called Bywater. It was not on Lake Ontario and thus safe from the U.S. It was renamed Ottawa for the Ottawa River. 

We took a coach bus to Parliament Hill and had a tour.  The Peace Tower is 98 meters high (321 feet) and has a huge carillon. 

The Memorial Chamber honors Canadians who have given their lives for their country.  The pages in the Book of Names are turned daily at 11 a.m. with great ceremony. 

We had a tour of the Canadian Museum of History, followed by lunch on the museum's riverside terrace. We had free time to see more of the museum.  

That night: the light show projected on Parliament (just a few blocks from our hotel) was terrific!   Even after dark it was warm enough to just sit on the grass (along with a thousand other people).

website photo, mot mine!

Rideau Hall is the official residence of the Governor General of Canada.  The Governor General is the Queen's representative to the nation.   We had a tour. What did I notice? The perfectly-mitered corners of the fabric-covered ceiling in the Tent Room.   (So-called because in the olden days sporting events (like indoor tennis) were held there. Now it's a banquet hall.)

Tuesday afternoon: free time. Stevens stayed at the hotel. I joined five others who walked across the bridge (from Ottawa to Gatineau, and thus from Ontario to Quebec) to see MosaiCanada 150, a fabulous topiary exhibit celebrating Canada's diversity and history.    WOW!  (And it all comes down at the end of October.)

Anne of Green Gables, Mother Earth, moose, bison, a lobsterman, a Mountie, hockey players, and more.

 We left Ottawa Wednesday morning (9/13).  We saw the Jones Fall Lock Station on the  Rideau Canal. The canal system allowed boats to more traverse between Lake Ontario and Montreal via Bytown, thus bypassing the St. Lawrence River, its rapids, and proximity to the U.S.  The locks were constructed in 1833 and still accommodate pleasure boats. We had lunch at the Hotel Kenney, in service since 1877.
We spent two nights in Kingston, founded on a trading settlement (1673) and renamed for George III in 1787.   It's the home of the Royal Military College (equivalent to West Point) and Queen's University.   A local historian provided commentary for a city tour by coach bus.  Thursday:  the bus took us east along the St. .Lawrence River to the town of Ganonoque.  We went to the excellent local museum to learn about the natural and human history of the Thousand Islands -- actually there are 1,864 of them.  We took a ferry to Boldt Castle on Heart Island.  It's on the U.S. side of the river so we went through customs both going and returning.  The castle was built in 1904 by hotelier George Boldt for his wife. She died shortly before the castle was completed. Heartbroken, he never returned. The castle fell into disrepair and was vandalized (it's easy to reach by boat from either the U.S. or Canada). The Thousand Island Bridge Authority bought it for $1 in 1977 and it's been under restoration ever since.  Tours are on-you-own which is so much better than specific times.  One of the guides told me that they get 4,000 visitors a day in peak season (July).  I estimated there were about 100 people when we were there.  

 Of course I had to take a photo of the hexagon tile floor!

This is the shortest international bridge in the world. The island on the left is in Canada and the island on the right is in the U.S.

End of Part 1!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

OMG and more estate sale bargains

We returned from our wonderful Road Scholar trip on Thursday. I hope to post the travelog tomorrow -- many photos, many great discoveries.

Meanwhile:  I finished Tree Farm, my One Monthly Goal for September.  This is the 2017 AAUW holiday raffle quilt. Proceeds benefit national and local AAUW projects.  The red strip on the left side was because I didn't get the top centered on the back. (I also had to baste it twice. The backing is directional. The first time I basted it upside down.)

Friday afternoon (yesterday) I went to an estate sale in Wadsworth, the next town west.  I mostly wanted to see the house (here).   The bookstore/library display shelving on the upper level is an efficient way to store a lot of media but certainly unexpected in such a house.

It was the second day of the sale so prices were reduced 25%. There was so much stuff that there were other discounts. The finished basement was FILLED with women's clothing, much of it unworn. (Eclectic sources: Chico's to Target to Wal-Mart.) Books/magazines were reduced to 4 for $1.  Out of several hundred cookbooks I bought two published by local churches. (I will give them to the library for the local history collection.) I bought a dozen quilt books and magazines.

Where there are quilt books there is likely to be fabric.

But first:   unused Tammis Keefe cocktail napkins (6"), $3.

Unused tea towels and three unopened packages of Montgomery Ward bandanas (4 per pkg), .75 each.

Quilt fabric was priced by small (1 yd and under), medium (2 yds), and large pieces (3 yds+).  I took all that appealed to me.  Price: $73.  At home I measured:  72 yards.  $1 per yard isn't bad!

As I've said, if I can't help buying fabric I might as well find bargains.

See other September OMG finishes on the Elm Street Quilts blog

Adding Monday linkups, too. 
Design Wall Monday
Monday Making

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.  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.

When I re-read TS last month I fell right into 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 know the feel of 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.