Friday, April 30, 2021

Friday check in: success on the third try, snaps, and the stash report

I made twenty batik crumb blocks. I planned to sash them shadowbox style and auditioned some fabrics.   In addition to this purple/turquoise combo I tried a white batik but that contrast was too stark.  [Of course I am using only what I have on hand.]

Then I found a lovely soft brown/tan Indian batik (part of this gift).  I was so sure it would be ideal that I cut all the sashing. 

I wanted low-volume but it was TOO low-volume and the colorful mix of the crumbs got lost.  

I tried a third time, and here's how it turned out.  It's still busy, which I wanted, but the crumbs stand out.  The inner border just about used up this batik.  (No, I don't remember where/when I bought each piece of fabric but that particular print was in the clearance bin at a now-closed local shop many, many years ago.) 

Why call them Snaps? Because they are a snap to make. 

48 x 60.  

Here's the stash report for April:                              Fabric OUT:  42-1/8 yards                                        Fabric IN:  24-1/8 yards (13-1/8 as a gift and  11 yards for $1.50 at the church rummage sale)

YTD fabric OUT: 182-5/8 yards                                       YTD fabric IN:  83-1/8 yards ($1.50 for 11 yards; all the rest were gifts)                                                                   YTD net:   99-1/2 reduction!!

Linking up with Finished or Not Friday   Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?

Monday, April 26, 2021

Weekly update: convention, concert, the whole nine yards, new ideas, and reading

On Friday afternoon I walked along the fire lane at the northwestern edge of the state park, less than a mile from home.  I saw a beaver lodge (upper right) and several beaver-chewed trees.  Were the beavers trying to sabotage the fire lane?   

A brisk northeast wind brought whitecaps to the lake. It was chilly but clear.  There's a pair of bald eagles nesting in that part of the park. My quest this season is to see them one day.  

  Friday evening and a good part of Saturday were spend Zooming with AAUW-Illinois colleagues for the 96th annual state convention. Michelle Duster was Friday evening's speaker.   Her recently-published biography Ida B. The Queen is about her great-grandmother, the trailblazing Black woman journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett.  What a legacy! 

 At in-person state conventions we end Friday evening with a social gathering -- usually in the president's hotel suite,  where we consume too-salty snacks, indifferent red or white wine or not-diet soda.   We avoided all those  calories with Zoom breakouts -- nine people to a "room," three twenty-minute sessions. It was a nice way to catch up with one another and meet some new people, too.  

Saturday morning (Zoom webinar):  Gloria Blackwell, AAUW national executive vice president gave an update on AAUW initiatives that promote equity for women and girls.  

 The second speaker, Kimberly Stratton, is an aerospace engineer who works for Caterpillar in Peoria.  What? They make earth-moving equipment.  Yes -- and that "earth" may be on the moon or on Mars. Developing machinery light enough to transport on a rocket, then figuring out how the mechanics work in a no-oxygen atmosphere with different gravity -- definitely a challenge!  

The third speaker, Dr. Gretchen Goldman, is research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists.  She spoke about the effect of the pandemic on women -- particularly on women with children -- not only on their employment but also family dynamics.  

Following a lunch break we reconvened for a short business meeting and installation of officers. I was reelected to a two-year term as co-v.p. of membership.  All finished at 2:00 -- and no long drive back home!  

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We enjoyed live music Saturday evening when the Lake County Symphony Orchestra performed a tribute to jazz legend Chick Corea followed by Beethoven's Eroica Symphony.  (It was going to be Brubeck and Beethoven--more alliterative--but Corea's death earlier this year prompted the change.)  The church where the concert was held uses chairs rather than pews. The chairs were grouped in 2's, 3's, and 4's.  

This is the second indoor live concert we've been to. We've gone out to eat at local restaurants several times. But we haven't yet been to a movie theater. What about you? 

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In the studio:  

I have an appointment with Barb-the-quilter in early May to quilt Grassy Creek.  While I listened to the AAUW speakers I pieced the back.  The flimsy is 94 x 94 so the back is 102 x 102. Were I buying fabric this would have been a great opportunity for a 3-yard 108-wide backing. But I'm not buying fabric. As you can see, I'm using it up.

Once that huge pieced back came off the design wall a few batiks leaped on.

This is a new batch of batik crumb blocks. I want to make 20 for the setting idea I have in mind.

I'm not sure what to call these 6" blocks other than quick-to-make. I'm now up to 42 of them.   

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Susan Allott's debut novel is an atmospheric and suspenseful story about long-suppressed family secrets and, in turn, about a national secret-in-plain-sight.  

1997: Isla is in London, in recovery from alcoholism and a broken-up relationship. Her father John calls from Sydney. "Please come home," he says. "The police are investigating me for murder."

1967: John drinks more and more to relieve the pressure from his pregnant wife Louise; a demanding job; not enough money; and wanting to do anything, everything for his ten-year-old daughter Isla. After a big fight Louise wipes out the savings account and takes Isla with her back to England. To assuage his feelings of abandonment John is grateful for next-door neighbor Mandy's friendship. Mandy is a housewife married to Steve, a policeman involved in forcibly removing Aboriginal children from their families in the government's cruel effort to improve the children's lives.  The job is terrible and it takes a toll on Steve and on Mandy. . . . And then Mandy disappears.

1997: Isla returns to Sydney, determined to discover what really happened that summer, thirty years before.  

Linking up with Oh Scrap!  Design Wall Monday   Monday Making  

Friday, April 23, 2021

Friday finishes!


We revisited Greenbelt and Ray Lake Forest Preserves on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. It was sunny but cool with very little wind.  The tree swallows are establishing their nests in the nesting boxes.  The flowers are trout lilies and [a yellow flower I have to i.d.]

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In the studio:  two finished projects!

Last in, first out -- I pieced Jumbo Waffles last week. I quilted it in a simple grid using the walking foot. I pieced the four left over blocks into the back before they could be consigned to the orphan box.

(Click on the "waffle stamps" label to see the previous versions of this design.) 

My One Monthly Goal for April was to make a set of springtime placemats.  I used a floral print ("Concord" on the selvage) that I've had for many years.  

The design is from a book I've had for about the same length of time as the floral print.   All the placemats in the book are 14 x 20 finished -- more than big enough for a complete place setting and all the glassware.   I'm linking up with Finished or Not Friday   Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?   and  OMG April Finish
I posted this photo earlier -- potholders in RSC's April blue for Joy's Table Scraps Challenge

P.S. April 20 was National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day. We celebrated appropriately. 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Weekly update: out and about, finishes and a flimsy, and more reading

 On Tuesday Zion Woman's Club members planted pinwheels to recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month. (CAP is a General Federation of Women's Clubs initiative.)  I've driven past the corner a couple of times and the pinwheels sparkle as they spin.     We took our masks off for the photo and then put 'em on again, though all of us are vaccinated.

Our beach visit on Friday was to the main unit of Illinois Beach State Park. That's one building in three photos -- the long-abandoned bathhouse. This story  tells about the innovative architecture.  

And this story tells about the erosion along our part of the lakeshore.  I learned that the phenomenon you can see in the lower left photo is called "overwash."   Severe storms are more prevalent. With no barrier dunes the high waves wash sand and gravel over walkways. When the water recedes the foundation washes away so the pavement collapses. 

Today's walk at the north end of the state park:  marsh marigolds, a fleshy-leafed plant whose name I don't know,  and green-topped fungus (about 1/2" each). 

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Most years I have a half-dozen community events that welcome a quilt to raffle, auction, or sell.  Those opportunities haven't yet picked up and  I have accumulated a big stack of finished quilts.  

I've known that  Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion welcomes quilts for their patients. I overcame inertia and delivered eight quilts this week.  It was nice to see Cheryl (also a quiltmaker) and Tim at the concierge desk.  

 Cheryl said to include a tag with my address because the patients often send personal thank  you notes.  Here's the tag I created [mailing address cropped out].  (The quilts are also labeled.) 

I'm counting these for the Hands 2 Help Challenge. 
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And in the studio: 

  Last week I wrote that I needed to make 8 mug rugs but I was thinking about making 10 just in case.  10 turned into 12.    These are for chapters who sponsor recipients of   Illinois P.E.O. Home Fund .grants.  (As I was typing this paragraph I got a phone call from a P.E.O. in Streator, IL, who had a couple of questions about the application process. I may well need those extra mug rugs.) 

Jumbo Waffles is a flimsy.  I used 2" squares and 2" strips for this version.  

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This week's reading:

 I finished listening to Bloody Genius, #12 in the Virgil Flowers series by John Sandford.  It's a police procedural mystery but Virgil is not a typical cop. Eric Conger's narration of the start-and-stop style is just great.   
On Wednesday evening John Sandford and Carl Hiassen presented a Zoom program sponsored by the library (along with other area libraries).   Sandford's latest Lucas Davenport book has just been published. 

Beloved Beasts, Michelle Nijhuis's history of the conservation movement, is spritely and informative.   From Aesop and Linnaeus she takes readers to the modern roots of conservation:  Early proponents were sportsmen (=white, well-to-do) who wanted to preserve animals so they'd still be able to hunt them.   Others were protesting the feather trade -- women's hats featured not only plumes but entire stuffed birds.   Nijhuis profiles William Hornaday, who shot some of the last bison in order to preserve (taxidermy) for the National Museum of Natural History.  Earl  In the 1920's Rosalie Edge took on the Audubon Society and established the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in eastern Pennsylvania.  [You can read this chapter in Smithsonian Magazine.]
Nijhuis writes about the well-known -- Julian Huxley, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson -- and the lesser-known, at least to me. Their collective accomplishments have raised awareness, cleaned up the air and water, and saved many species from extinction.  Of course this is no time to let up! 
Well-written and well worth reading.

Linking up with Oh Scrap!    Design Wall Monday    Monday Making

P.S.  Rambo lives next door. He came for a visit on Saturday afternoon.   


Sunday, April 11, 2021

Siblings Day

 April 10 is Siblings Day.  (Here is the Wikipedia link.)  

Nancy and Lori, 1955
(I couldn't pronounced Valerie. When she was six she said she was Valerie. When I was 16 I said I wanted to be Nann.)

Valerie and Nann, 1968 




David and Carolyn Blaine, 1924

Carolyn and David, 1936

Marion and Bob Carothers, Dec., 1926.   Marion's first birthday, Bob's second.

Charlie and Marion, 1952.

Marion and Bob, January, 2002.  Bob came when Dave (Dad) died.
Marion died that April and Bob died that July. It was quite a year. 

The Hilyard siblings, Easter, 1955. Betsy 19, Steve 15, Barbara 17, David 14. 

Of course there are many more photos. These are just those I've digitized (and can find!) 

Weekly update: wildflowers, new projects, and reading

Spring wildflowers on my walks this week:
(clockwise):  skunk cabbage leafed out (the flower is the purply-brown "horn"), violets, swamp buttercup, white trout lily (aka dogtooth violet -- "trout" because the leaves are mottled brown/green like a trout); bloodroot. 

Saturday morning:   six of us from Illinois Beach Sunrise Rotary joined other District 6440 Rotarians at a warehouse in Northbrook. We sorted the shoes our clubs purchased through Operation Warm -- new sneakers for kids in our communities.  IBSR's share was 92 pairs that will be distributed through two local agencies.  

Operation Warm also provides new winter coats for kids.  Our club participates in that autumn event.

Saturday afternoon the magic of Zoom allowed me to attend two events:  the AAUW-Illinois state board meeting and the annual P.E.O. Lake County Round Table Founders Day.  Had these been in person I would have had to choose to attend one or the other, and I might not have been able to get to the shoe-sorting.  

The Founders Day program included cameo appearances by three women who have benefited from P.E.O. philanthropies.  One received  Program for Continuing Education Grant (PCE) in 2010. It enabled her to finish her college degree and get a job at a university where there was tuition reimbursement for both her children. As she said, PCE provided not one but three degrees.  The second recipient was working two jobs and trying to complete high school.  A Lulu /Corkhill Williams Friendship Fund grant allowed her to quit one job and concentrate on her studies. She will complete her AA this spring and enroll at UIC this fall.  The third recipient received a Star scholarship, a very competitive award for first-year women college students. She's pre-med at Penn State.  Hearing from these women helped all of us (the 55 in the Zoom room) realize that our contributions make a difference in women's lives!

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I'm serving on the Illinois P.E.O. Home Fund Advisory Committee. The Home Fund provides grants to Illinois women over age 65 who need housing assistance (rent, mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs, major appliances like furnaces).    Last year I made house-block mug rugs for each chapter that sponsored a HF recipient -- but the state convention was cancelled and the mug rugs were not given away.   This year the convention is virtual and our committee got the go-ahead to give the mugs rugs to this year's sponsors. I had 12 from last year  . (Fortunately I could just peel off the fused-on labels dated 2019-20.)   I need to make 8 more but I may make 10 just in case.   

I started a batch of waffle stamps blocks using 2" squares and 2" strips. (The three waffle stamps quilts I've made used 1-1/2" strips and squares.)  Maybe these are jumbo waffles?  

The blocks are 8" unfinished/7-1/2" finished.  I'm aiming for 72 blocks.

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It's interesting that there are boycotts of many products that are grown, harvested, pumped, mined, extracted, etc., under working conditions that are unregulated, dangerous, unethical, or otherwise exploitive.  Though diamond mining isn't "clean," I'm not aware of huge outcries about the product. Perhaps one reason is the De Beers monopoly's "diamond are forever" campaign. Whatever-- diamonds are a valuable commodity. The vast majority of the world supply comes from southwestern Africa.

Matthew Gavin Frank conducted an independent on-site investigation of that territory. Working conditions are still terrible. Labor laws and safety regulations are routinely ignored. As long as diamonds have been mined they have been smuggled.  Homing pigeons are very effective carriers of those gems.  The birds are secreted in lunchboxes or the folds of clothing. They are bred and trained to go back to their roosts. (Frank explains pigeon anatomy and behavior.)   What happens after the diamonds are gone? Frank travels to ghost towns that were thriving company towns just a couple of decades ago.

Frank takes the story beyond just reporting to include personal reflections, not about diamonds but somewhat about pigeons. It's somewhat distracting but it intensifies the narrative.   

Last week I wrote about my discovery of Idaho writer Kim Barnes.  I read another of her books this week. 

Barnes ended her widely-acclaimed 1996 memoir In the Wilderness at her high school graduation. Hungry for the World picks up where that left off .  At age 18, legally an adult, she rebelled against her parents' conservative lifestyle and Pentecostal faith. She didn't go far -- an apartment in her hometown of Lewiston, Idaho. She got a job at a bank. She partied, drank and smoked* a lot. The most dangerous behavior was her two-year liaison with Dave, a man who emotionally and physically abused her. Through it all she maintained a visiting-day relationship with her parents and her beloved grandmother. Eventually she escaped from Dave's controlling orbit and found a new future for herself as a college student.  (*She refers to cigarette-smoking so often in the three books I've read that I wonder if she's still a smoker, or if she's quit.)

Barnes is now in her 60's, married for many years, mother of three children. How do they react to her recounting in detail of her wild days?  

Illinois Beach State Park on Sunday afternoon
Linking up with  Oh Scrap!  Monday Making and  Design Wall Monday