Sunday, May 30, 2021

Weekly update, part 2: finishes, a start, OMG, and reading


See the previous post for this week's wildflower photos!

I finished the pomegranate mug rug for my friend who will become Bat Mitvah on May 31. ("Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol of righteousness because it is said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot, or commandments, of the Torah. For this reason and others, it is customary to eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah. Moreover, the pomegranate represents fruitfulness, knowledge, learning and wisdom." Source: 

It arrived on Saturday, just in time.

  She sent a picture showing it in action. 

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Barb of MB Services did a great job quilting Grassy Creek. I picked it up Monday and bound it this week.  It will be a raffle contribution.  94 x 94 is a big quilt!

I used a vintage print (red) and a rummage sale bargain (9 yards for fifty cents!) for the back.

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I achieved the two parts of my declared One Monthly Goal.  Part one was to piece the back for this quilt. I did that and finished the quilt. 

Part two was to assemble the blogs for the comfort quilt I am coordinating. There were many block-makers. I managed to make all the blocks fit. 

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Last fall I worked diligently to bust my 250+-yard CW reproduction stash.  I barely made a dent, as you could guess.  I tossed usable scraps into a box.  This quilt by Etherington and Tesene caught my eye. They used truly little scraps -- their units are 1-1/2". I took their idea and made 2-1/2" units.  

The gold strips and the green inner border are not CW prints but they work well with the CW palette. 

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Just one book this week -- but it was a good one! (My husband read it first and kept saying, "You're going to enjoy this." He was right.) 

Caracaras are western-hemisphere falcons native to South America documented by European explorers (Darwin) and colonists. On the Falkland Islands the striated caracaras are called Johnny rooks. They are curious, intelligent, and sociable to the point of being pests. Jonathan Meiburg describes their present status on the Falklands, further north in Guyana, further inland on the Altiplano, and life in captivity in nature parks in Britain -- all of which he traveled to. He also writes about their evolutionary history with hypotheses about their future. Oh, yes -- he fits in a lot about the Argentinian/British naturalist and writer W. H. Hudson. 

"The researchers who study our planet today live in an age as full of insights and discoveries as the nineteenth century, and it must be maddening to be confronted again and again with the fact that many people simply don't care. Every scientist I'd met seemed to wonder how often they'd have to repeat that there's far more to learn about the world than we already know, how much of it lurks in the guise of the unimportant, and that all it takes to break new ground in the pursuit of knowledge is a desire to do the hard work of seeing. (p. 260).

Meiburg writes wonderfully. Now for a couple of National Geographic features and a PBS Nature about the caracara!

Linking up with One Monthly Goal, Oh Scrap!   Monday Making,  Design Wall Monday

Weekly update: similar but different (part 1)

 [I'm breaking the Weekly Update into two parts.]

It was warm when the week began and I pushed to get the vegetable garden planted.  I bought tomato, herb, and squash and cuke seedlings but planted seeds for beans and sugar snap peas.  Midweek we had a little rain (hardly enough) and a real cold snap -- we had to turn the furnace on!  

The poppies are popping one by one -- the flowers don't last very long.

The peonies have lots of buds but no blossoms yet.

Farther afield:

On Saturday afternoon we revisited Pine Dunes forest preserve. Wildflowers were blooming profusely.  

Ohio spiderwort, water lilies, false Solomon's seal aka false spikenard.

Cow parsnip, broadleaf arrowhead aka duck potato aka Indian potato, tall thimbleweed

Wild white indigo, longbract wild indigo, golden Alexander

Blue flag iris, oxeye daisy

There was not a cloud in the sky.  

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Sunday afternoon we went even further west to Volo Bog .  We'd been there long ago for a guided hike in January. High time to see it when it's thawed out!  

There is a nice interpretive center that explains what bogs are, how they differ from other watery ground (fens, marshes, swamps), and why they are fragile and important.

Tufted loosestrife, Canadian anemone, water arum.

A pair of swans on a very weedy inlet.  (The water levels are very, very low.) 

And I heard, but didn't see, sandhill cranes bugling.

P.S.  The interpretive center has a research library.  Lots of books and media (VHS!).   And....a card catalog!

Thanks for reading!  Quilting updates will be in the next post. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Weekly update: wildflower time and some progress

The water is still cold!
  My sister came to visit on Friday.  We walked in the ravine (at the end of our block) and in the state park.  Though the drought continues the wildflowers are beautiful and the migratory birds are trilling away. 

Phlox, false Solomon's seal, Golden Alexander,  Star of Bethlehem (a garden escapee), fringed puccoon aka narrowleaf stoneseed, sweet Cicely, mayapple, wild columbine (aquilegia).

Puccoon, blue-eyed grass, lupine, chokecherry, daisy fleabane, and what the i.d. app calls Umbellate Bastard Toadflax which to me sounds like a Shakespearean insult.

Every year I look for this patch of of hybrid iris alongside the road to the beach (Camp Logan unit). It's flourishing! I imagine someone tossed leftover rhizomes out the window one year. 

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In the studio:

  I set the Magpies' blocks for the comfort quilt. I had to buy (!!) sashing fabric -- not too white, not too creamy, with just a touch of red.  I was sure the border would use a particular red-on-dark blue from my stash but I found out it is a  Indian cotton (think of a soft-hand Madras) and the texture/weave was just too lightweight.  I think I've found a substitute, but if it doesn't do the trick I'm sure a quilt shop can sell me something just right. 

Photo shows the substitute print.

I'm making a mug rug for a friend's Bat Mitzvah. I know it will have pomegranates but I haven't decided to go arty-abstract or lively-graphic. So I have rough drafts of both. 

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I've written of my disappointment with inaccuracies and anachronisms in some of the books I've read recently. That was not the case with the two historical novels I read this week -- if there were errors, the books were so well-written that I didn't notice or didn't mind.  

The Cold Millions.    Spokane, 1909: the town's mining/lumber barons wield power and influence (and corruption) over the city. The IWW has come to town to organize labor protests, led by fiery agitator Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Gig Dolan is an idealistic drifter who gets caught up in Flynn's orbit. His younger brother Rye treds a safer path to the middle class. It's an absorbing story about a not-so-long-ago chapter in American life.

Margreete's Harbor.    When her mother Margreete's dementia becomes apparent Liddie Furber, her husband Harry, and their children Bernie and Eva move back to the rambling house on the Maine coast to take care of her. Margreete does indeed provide a harbor for her family during the tumultuous 1960's when far-away events (the march on Washington and the Viet Nam war) affect their everyday lives. Eleanor Morse's style is reminiscent of Anne Tyler: people aren't perfect and sometimes their quirks are annoying -- but that is real life.


I was pulled right in to this fast-paced cozy mystery starring small-town reference librarian Greer Hogan.  Author M.E. Hilliard is a librarian and she absolutely nails the library details.   Here's the first page.  Enough said!  (Need I add that I'm a Trixie Belden fan?) 

Linking up with Oh Scrap!  Monday Making    Design Wall Monday

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Weekly update: wildflowers, a small indulgence, a flimsy, and reading

Don't miss the previous post about the Bisa Butler quilts at the Art Institute!

On a clear day you can see the Chicago skyline from Illinois Beach State Park. 

On the same hike I saw an egret and prickly pear cactus. (Yes, it does grow this far north.) 

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On Tuesday we drove to Elm Grove, just west of Milwaukee, so I could shop for fabric at Patched Works. 52 miles -- the farthest I've driven in months.  Milwaukee highways are a spaghetti bowl and I was glad I was driving mid-day rather than at rush hour.

I could have spent a lot of money and bought a lot of fabric but I exercised tremendous restraint. I got what I needed and a little bit extra. 

We enjoyed lunch at a restaurant across the street from the shop. 

I cut into the new fabric that evening.  It's the sashing for my version of Nine Patch Square Dance, the 2021 American Patchwork and Quilting Sew-Along.  I had just enough of the leafy green print for the border.   

This week I also quilted the scrappy black-and-gray flimsy.  It's lap-sized.

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Serenade for Nadia was an interesting love story. It was published in Turkey in 2010 and published in English in 2020.  Maya is an administrative assistant at the university of Istanbul.  She's juggling: her job, being a single mother to a teenager, dealing with her ex-husband, her sometimes boyfriend, her parents.   She is asked to chaperon  Maximilian Wagner, an 87-year-old professor from Boston who had taught at the university during World War II.  He is coming for a last visit to the place where his wife died in 1942. She was a passenger on a ship overloaded with Jewish refugees en route from Romania to Palestine. The Soviets sunk the ship. [That is a true story.]  Maya helps Prof. Wagner come to a resolution.  He in turn helps her come to terms with her situation.

Sunnyside Plaza is a book for upper-elementary kids to adults.  It's told by Sally Miyake, aka SalGal, who lives in a group home for developmentally disabled adults.  SalGal and her friends help the police figure out how two Sunnyside residents died mysteriously.  

Scott Simon signed the ARC (advance reader copy) at ALA Midwinter in January, 2020.  Seems like forever ago, doesn't it? ("Winthrop Harbor?" he said as he read my nametag. "I've been there."  [He grew up in Chicago.])

Linking up with Oh Scrap!    Monday Making    Design Wall Monday 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

A day downtown, part 2: Bisa Butler's quilts!

 Bisa Butler's magnificent portrait quilts are on exhibit at the Art Institute.  Wow. Wow. Wow.  Here is AIC website.  They're large -- 6 x 8 feet or so. 

Butler bases her portraits on photographs. 

These are the girls who died in the Birmingham Church bombing in 1963.

The corridor between galleries was wallpapered.

The exhibit catalog was sold out at the museum store.  They said to log into the shop website to see when they restock.  I contented myself with a packet of postcards. Okay, two packets. :)