Sunday, September 26, 2021

Weekly update: shoes, quilt projects, OMG and reading

 I was beginning to despair that I would not find suitable shoes for our granddaughter's October 23 wedding.  I didn't want black.  I didn't want too-strappy (partly October and partly that I have bad feet). I can't wear pointy toes or high heels.  The dress (see it here) is silver-blue, further limiting the color. Why, oh why didn't I start shopping two months ago?  Anything possible on online sites was not in my size.   No luck at two DSWs (but I found a pair of navy casual shoes which will be great for fall). No luck at Rogan's. ("We've had a lot of people shopping for dress shoes," the clerk said. "Did you try J. C. Penney?" as I purchased a pair of Keen sandals (20% off).)   No luck at J. C. Penney (no purchase, either). Then I went to Chiapetta's, a full-line store that sells shoes for all sizes (a good orthopedic trade).   The salesman measured my feet (when was the last time that happened?) and brought out a stack of shoeboxes.  

Shoes for the wedding

Not what I expected but perfect. And perfectly comfortable. 

(Brand is BeautiFeel.) 

Shoes for the reception

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In the studio:  the slab blocks are all set. The tilted triangles are tricky.   Per Bonnie Hunter's instructions, the straight grain is sewn to the block. The outer edges are a slight bias. And that slight bias stretched.  Will the stretch quilt out?  I hope so. I pressed assertively. I'll baste heavily.  56 x 63, 4-1/4 yards used. 

My One Monthly Goal for September was to complete the AAUW holiday quilt. I did that and took it to LeAnn-the-quilter on Thursday.  I've shown the photo but I'll repeat it for the sake of the OMG September Finish Link Up

I'm working on more daisy-print mug rugs for a P.E.O. project.  

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I first learned about Belle da Costa Greene earlier this year when Smithsonian magazine published an article about her. The article referred to Heidi Ardizzone's biography "An Illuminated Life." I borrowed the book from the library but it was 450 +/- pages and I just couldn't concentrate on it. I was delighted to learn about The Personal Librarian -- Belle's story in an easier-to-read (and much shorter) format.

The story is fascinating and illuminating on many levels. Belle's father Richard Greener was the first Black graduate of Harvard. He was a professor at several colleges including Howard University School of Law. Belle's mother's family were well-established in the Washington Black community. The Greeners separated and Mrs. Greener took the six children to New York -- where they changed their name to Green and their family story to pass as white (of 'Portuguese' descent). When Belle worked in the rare books division of the Princeton University Library she attracted the attention of millionaire tycoon J. P. Morgan who was investing in rare books and manuscripts. He hired her as his personal librarian. As Benedict and Murray tell it, Belle was instrumental in acquiring many valuable items for Morgan. She mingled with the elite of the early 20th-century (pre-WWI) art world including the critic Bernard Berenson, with whom she had an affair. (Berenson had many secrets about his own origins.)

There's suspense -- will Belle slip up and reveal her true origins? Will she reconcile with her father? What about Berenson, after all? And how close was she to Morgan?

[My quibble is with a few anachronistic references. For example, "how close you and your dad were" (150)--dad? not father? "That's okay," p. 150. "That's part of my job description" (172) -- was that term used in the early 1900's? Frequent references to "back home in DC," "going to DC." Calling it DC without punctuation seems very 21st century.]

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See what other quilters are doing at  Oh Scrap! One Monthly Goal  Monday Making   Design Wall Monday 

Weekly update: gatherings online and in-person and two parks

 [Next post will have quilting updates and the one book I managed to finish this week.]     

The 75th International Convention of the P.E.O. Sisterhood was held virtually this week. Because it was virtual any member could 'attend' at no charge. I registered months ago and fully intended to tune in -- but Life In General intervened.  I did watch the opening ceremony on Wednesday and one of the workshops.  Now I need to go back to see the results of the voting on amendments. There were many.  Like so many organizations P.E.O. is striving to improve its diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

I did take a selfie for the online photo booth.  The seven founders' names are on my t-shirt.  

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It was wonderful to see AAUW, P.E.O., and GFWC friends at the first Clara Cummings Book Club luncheon since October, 2019.  Clara Cummings is a book club in name only -- it's a luncheon gathering with a literary-based program or historical portrayal.  (I gave a book talk several years ago). The presenter this time was Jenny Riddle who appeared as Catherine the Great based on the biography by Robert K. Massie.  Jenny dispelled a lot of "myth-information" about Catherine. 

The Zion Woman's Club participated in the 30th annual Beach Clean Up sponsored by the Alliance for the Great Lakes . We had checklists to indicated what trash we picked up--foam pieces, plastic bottles, cans, cigarette butts, etc. (Someone found the rusty barrel of a BB gun.)  21.5 pounds! 

It's been sunny, warm, and (still) dry -- great for our park explorations.  Stevens and I revisited   Fort Sheridan.  The forest preserve is adjacent to the old-new Town of Fort Sheridan. When the lakefront property was decommissioned as a fort (1992)  it provided a superb opportunity for nature preservation and historic preservation.  It's on  the flyway and there were hawk-watchers (volunteers counting and documenting the hawks they see). 


Clockwise: toadflax, a hillside of asters, tall boneset, Maximilian sunflower and asters, and vetch. 

This gives you an idea of the height that Fort Sheridan is on.  (Farther north our section of the lakefront is very flat and marshy.) 

The quarters of Fort Sheridan have been redeveloped and renovated as upscale housing -- single-family and condominium. 

   Moraine Hills State Park is just over the county line in McHenry County.  From the website: "Major acquisition of the Lake Defiance area began in 1971, and construction of park facilities took place in the spring of 1975. The present Moraine Hills State Park opened in October 1976.​ The park name is derived from a geologic formation known as a moraine, which is an accumulation of boulders, stones and other debris deposited by a glacier. The 48-acre Lake Defiance, located near the center of the park, is one of the few glacial lakes in Illinois that has remained largely undeveloped, maintaining a near-natural condition."

Clockwise:  false Solomon's seal (aka false spikenard or Solomon's plume); a gall on a goldenrod stem; oriental bittersweet vines; sunlight on a mossy log; Japanese rose hips. 

Top:  Lake Defiance.  I walked 1 mile of the north loop -- maybe half way? - and turned around.  

Where will we go next week?  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Midweek: quilt mailed off and a new scrappy project


Welcome autumn!  A cold front came through on Tuesday and the temperature dropped 10+ degrees. Our afternoon outing to Lyons Woods was very comfortable both for me to walk and for Stevens as he sat in the car.  (He's unable to walk long distances -- especially at the pace I've developed over this past year of near-daily walks!)

Oriental bittersweet or spindleberry.  The vine grew across a 2" gap (right photo) to wind around the tree trunk (left photo).  I've only seen bittersweet at Lyons Woods.

Left: the rose hips from Japanese or Seven Sisters roses look more like berries than rose hips.  It's a non-native rose with profuse white blossoms.  Right: the rose hips from native rugosa (wild roses) are larger. 

The sumac looks ready for Christmas with its red-and-green foliage. 

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Thank you all who commented on the quilts I bought at the estate sale last weekend.  An update on the signature quilt:   I did some more searching and figured out more relationships (grandmother, daughters, cousins).  I couldn't get a definitive church affiliation. Then I discovered the Itawamba Historical Society which has a museum, archives, restored buildings, and a genealogical library.  I wrote a letter explaining how and from whom I got the quilt, boxed it with the quilt, and send the package off to the historical society yesterday.  

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In the studio:  I prepped the back for the Christmas basket quilt. I'll deliver it to LeAnn tomorrow.  She quilted the Magpie Hug a couple of months ago.

I usually cut scraps into predetermined sizes (squares and strips) except when I don't feel like it. Those go into a medium-sized plastic tub. The tub was getting pretty full so I made a bunch of slab blocks.  They're 6.5" unfinished. I think I'm going to set them with topsy-turvy triangles (one sample on the wall).  

You know better than to ask if I emptied the tub.  <grin> 

Linking up with   Midweek Makers

P.S.  One more flower photo.  Field thistle.  

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Weekly update: quilt rescue and reading


Be sure to read the previous post to see the week's wildflowers and other activities.

On the way back from a lake shore walk we saw two cranes at the edge of a pond in the park.  I was able to get pretty close to them.

This weekend there was an estate sale about three blocks away.   I had walked past the house often but I didn't know the people who lived there.  (I looked them up: he died in 2012 and she died earlier this year.) I went on Saturday when  everything was 50% off.

There were three undistinguished Kenmore sewing machines, a huge bin of embroidery floss in ziploc bags, sorted and numbered by color, the usual assortment of cross-stitch leaflets and evenweave cloth.  

What caught my eye was the stack of old quilts -- $20 each but it was 50% off day, so $10!  Most were in bad shape.  I got two quilts and an unquilted top. 

I think the bow quilt is a kit. The bows look like they were die-cut and the elaborate quilting design ooks like follow-the-dotted line.

I have another quilt from the 1930's that is quilted with blue floss.  

The thread tails are expertly buried on the back.

These Lone Stars are hand-pieced. The background is osnaberg-ish (rough texture).  They all lie flat. 

 A couple of the blocks are in rough shape but I can salvage several others.   

Love the quirky substitutions!

The third quilt is very, very lumpy.  I had to buy it because of the signature blocks -- who were these people? Where did they live? How did the quilt end up in northern Illinois? 

Thanks to I was able to trace the quilt to Itawamba Co., Mississippi.  (Two of the names are Zelon Jackson and Lelon Jackson -- unusual enough to be easy to find.) 

 Beatrice "Beddie" Petty was the grandmother of the man who lived in the house.  The man's mother and three aunts also signed blocks. (Beddie had eight children.)  

Beddie's son, his wife (a block-signer), and their family were among the many people from the Tupelo, MS - Red Bay, AL area who migrated to Waukegan to work in the factories during WWII and into the 1950's.  

I think I've figured out what church all the signers went to.  It's still in business and I'm going to send it to tthem. 

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I finished just one book this week.  

Vanishing Fleece was published two years ago. I'm sure that readers who knit know all about it since Clara Parkes is a very well-known chronicler of knitting and wool.  It will be of interest to quiltmakers and anyone who works with fiber and fabric.   

Parkes’ experiment in processing a bale of wool takes her from the New York sheep farm to processors in Texas, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Maine. There is a lot that goes into the production. As a result of her investigative reporting I am more informed and far more appreciative —particularly in the science and technology involved.

It's a "shear" delight. I give it five stars!

Linking up with  Monday Making Oh Scrap!,  Design Wall Monday

Weekly update: wildflowers, golf, and a wedding


The last week of summer has been sunny, warm, and dry.  

Top center: closeup of goldenrod florets; middle center: liatris with a bumblebee; right center: aster; lower right: another aster.  Lower left:  thistledown! 

Fringed gentian are blooming now.  Look closely at the petals to see the fringes.  What a beautiful color!

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The 21st Annual Jack McElmurry Golf Outing was Friday.   We used to have the event in May when it was likely to be chilly. The pandemic pushed the 2020 outing to September.  The change worked well both years and we're going to stick with it. 

We are 'major sponsors' which means we have a golf foursome -- Ben and Gabe from the library, Tom who used to work at the library, and Ben's dad. They have a great time every year. 

Stevens gave the invocation.  (He did not turn water into wine; the wine was already there.)

Harriet created elaborate and beautiful gift baskets.  I won this one -- filled with flavored coffee and coffee treats. 

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Our friend Marilyn married Mike on Saturday afternoon.  The event was at a Kenosha restaurant.  (I was a little nervous about social distancing and so many strangers.  Hope that the vaccines will keep us all healthy.)   

We haven't been this dressed up in ages!  

Looks gray but it is blue!
Speaking of weddings --  I bought a step-grandmother-of-the-bride dress on Wednesday afternoon.  I 'd looked online. It's one thing to buy a flannel shirt without trying it on and something else to get a special-occasion dress. I debated asking a friend to come along but deciding which friend and then scheduling time for a shopping trip was just too complicated.  I went to J.C. Penney and Macy's and bought two possibilities (better to get them while they were there), tried Nordstrom Rack and TJMaxx because you never know.  Then in the shopping center on the other intersection I saw David's Bridals.  Why not? They had the best customer service and best selection -- and I found the perfect dress.  It's light blue, a  different color than what the other 'senior' women are wearing (stepdaughter is wearing champagne and her mother is wearing deep plum--don't know about bride's stepmother or groom's mother but I don't know them).    I don't have to alter it other than hem it.  I think I can still sew a hem .. .  This coming week I will shop for shoes. 

Next post:  quilt rescue!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Midweek: Christmas baskets flimsy!

Zinnias for Zion is an annual initiative in the community that encourages people to plant zinnias.  They represent beauty in diversity (and hardiness, considering the drought we've had this summer).   This photo was taken at the entrance to the library yesterday.  

In the studio:  the Christmas baskets quilt is a flimsy!  I had just enough of the green/red plaid print for the border.  (It's the same print I used for  last year's AAUW Christmas quilt.  There are only scraps left now.) 

69 x 69. 6 yards by weight. 

The blocks are 8x8 finished. They were rather tricky to make. The HSTs in the handles were 1-5/8" unfinished. I chose to cut large (2" squares) and trim down.  I had to mark the 1-5/8" lines on the ruler to be sure I didn't over- or under-trim.

 I adapted a pattern by Avis Shirer in American Patchwork & Quilting.   The very strong diagonal effect of this setting makes me want to tilt my head (or turn the photo).  I think the straight set I chose will be easier on the eyes!

Linking up on Susan's blog at Midweek Makers

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Weekly update: golden composites, an 'heirloom' is hung, planned and unplanned quilting, and some books

It used to be that the "where where you when..." question was about Kennedy's assassination or, for our parents, Pearl Harbor. Now our "where were you..." prompt is twenty years old. On September 11, 2001, I was in the conference room at the North Suburban Library System headquarters.  Lynn S., Sandra N., and Carol L. and I were there for the initial meeting  of a fellowship/support group for women library directors. The big-screen TV was turned on to the news--the first tower had been hit. We thought we were seeing a clip from a disaster movie as we watched the jet fly into the second tower, then we paid closer attention as we learned that it was not fiction. It was real.

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For decades Labor Day in Zion meant Jubilee Days.  The Mayor's Prayer Breakfast was at 8:00 in the high school cafeteria. The 100-plus float parade attracted 17,000 spectators. It started at 1:00 p.m. -- except for those who were riding on floats for whom the lineup was at 12:15.  I was a float-rider or a float-walkalong -- for the library and for Rotary, tossing candy to eager kids along the 1-1/2 mile route.  Some years it was blazing hot. Some years it was chilly. Some years it rained.  

Jubilee Days was cancelled in 2020 and again in 2021.  The weather was beautiful both times.  (Sheridan Road, the main street and the parade route, is being repaved right so it's just as well there wasn't a parade to be re-routed.) 

We enjoyed outings to Illinois Beach State Park and Van Patten Woods this week.  (Stevens will now volunteer:  "If you'd like to go out this afternoon I'd be delighted to accompany you.") 

Left: on a sunny day you can see the Chicago skyline 40 miles away.  [Click to enlarge the photo and look closely at the horizon.]

Bull thistle, sawtooth sunflower, hedge bindweed and aster, New England aster or Michaelmas daisy with a bumblebee, and a field of "golden composites" that could be sunflowers or rosinweed or another 'daisy-like yellow flower.'

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Our new mailbox has a backstory.  In the late 1990's my mother bought a new mailbox (this one) that bears a decorated, recycled roofing slate. Had I been smarter (and less emotional) I'd have swapped out the mailbox before we sold the house in 2002. The new owner wouldn't allow any alterations.  I told Judy and Mike (who are now the longest residents on that block) that I wished I'd gotten it. Judy remembered and told the man who rented and now owns the house.  When he replaced the mailbox this summer he gave the old one to Judy and I picked it up from her.   Our next-door neighbor (another) Mike hung it for us.  It looks right at home.

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In the studio:   last year I made two wall hangings to give to the then-outgoing co-presidents of the Zion Woman's Club.  Our first meeting of the year -- in person!! -- was Tuesday. I pulled out the wall hangings and realized they were too much of a gift for the occasion, especially considering that the presentation was postponed for a year.  (The board and the club met by Zoom most of 2020-21.)  

What to do?  On Labor Day (24 hours prior to the meeting) I pulled out a stack of 4-1/2" batik cake stands from the Parts Department.  I arranged and rearranged. I cut setting triangles and borders.  And, voila!  Two smaller wall hangings that were just the right size. 

I made four daisy mug rugs for a P.E.O. project. They have a pillow-style finish (sew RST, then turn right side out) rather than bindings.

Speaking of binding -- I picked up the wedding quilt from Barb-the-quilter.  It turned out so well!  I need to bind and label it. 

On the design wall:  the blocks for the AAUW holiday quilt are finished.  I used a pattern from American Patchwork and Quilting for both blocks but I'm setting them differently.  They are 8.5" unfinished. 

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I am sure I was aware of the American Guide series at my hometown public library: thick volumes with black-and-white scenic photos and pages of dense, small print. I learned about them in the government documents class I took in library school. The guides were in the collections of all the libraries where I worked -- at least for the states and regions where those libraries were.

The Federal Writers Project was a WPA entity created to put unemployed and underemployed writers to work. In the process they documented America local history and geography -- with creativity and bias that, in retrospect, has charms but at the time were subject to attack by anti-New Dealers. (U.S. Rep. Martin Dies' investigations were the precursor to McCarthy's HUAC of the 1950s.)

Borchert tells the story through the experience of FWP executive director Henry Alsberg and regional project directors/writers Vardis Fisher (Idaho), Nelson Algren (Chicago), Zora Neal Hurston (Florida), Richard Wright (New York). It's a tale of people and politics and Borchert keeps the many strands from getting snarled. A good history! And now I will reread the Illinois guide that I got at a library used book sale.

Ice and Stone

I've been a Sharon McCone fan since 1977 when Edwin of the Iron Shoes was published. This one seemed a little more hurriedly-written than earlier books in the series but it kept my attention. I appreciate Sharon's passion for justice for those who are too often marginalized.  

When Sue Grafton spoke at an ALA conference circa 1995 I remarked that Donald Westlake and Joe Gores had had one another's characters make  cameo appearances in their novels. I asked if Kinsey Milhone would ever meet Sharon McCone in a similar fashion. Grafton got a little huffy and said no, absolutely not. Many years later (PLA/Portland 2010) I went to an audiobooks dinner with both Grafton and Muller (and their narrators, which was neat!). Darned if I didn't forget totally to ask if Kinsey and Sharon would ever, eventually meet. [And now it's too late since Grafton died a couple of years ago.]

Southern Quilts: Celebrating History, Traditions, and Designs 

Sixteen quilt historians/collectors write about sixteen different designs prevalent in the American South. Each design is illustrated with photos of quilts in that pattern. This is a history book rather than a pattern book.

Linking up with Oh Scrap!   Monday Making   Design Wall Monday