Thursday, August 11, 2022

Friday check in: five columns and a stack of blocks

 I made 98 homespun monkey wrench blocks.  The inspiration was a FB photo (I didn't get the maker's name) that alternated the pieced blocks with an assortment of squares. 

On point? Hmm.

Controlled selection?  But I'd need at least 2 yards if I used just one fabric for the squares.

I asked a half-dozen other quilters who thought the inspiration photo was the best.  Thank you all!  I got to cutting and then to piecing.  

As of 9:15 Thursday evening I had five columns with a stack of wrenches and squares to go. 

And "go" is the important term right now because tomorrow morning we're going on our long-awaited Road Scholar trip to Alaska.

See you later!

Linking up (early Friday a.m.) at Finished or Not Friday


Sunday, August 7, 2022

BOTW: two for fall

 Two more ARCs (advance reading copies) from the ALA Annual Conference in June. These will be published in October.

The Wilfs have lived on Division Street in suburban Avalon since the late 1960's.   Ben is a family physician, Mimi is a community volunteer. Sarah and Theo are typical suburban teens. On a summer night in 1985 their universe shifts when Sarah and Theo Wilf cause a deadly car accident. They survive but they never forget. Nor does their Ben whose effort to save the victim is unsuccessful. 

Fourteen years later, on the eve of the new century, Ben again is at the scene of a medical emergency. Alice Shenkman, the across-the-street neighbor, goes into labor. Ben gets there before the EMTs and successfully delivers Waldo Shenkman. Waldo has a tough childhood as a social misfit obsessed with astronomy, completely misunderstood by his hard-driving business exec father. Waldo finds a friend in Ben and, as Ben was present at Waldo's birth, Waldo is in turn present at Mimi's death.

The story skips adroitly from decade to decade and back again.  [Including 2020: pandemic (see Delphi, below).]  The younger generation find their places in the firmament -- Sarah as a Hollywood producer, Theo as a renowned chef, and Waldo as an astrophysicist. A wise, compassionate, and thoroughly absorbing story.

The never-named narrator is a British academic with a Classics specialty. She views her personal pandemic experience through the lens of prophesy in the tradition of the Oracle of Delphi. Each short chapter refers to a different divination -- tea leaves, entrails, animal behaviour, guttural sounds. Her experiences are so typical of families trying to adjust to pandemic-caused upheaval. She teaches on Zoom. Her husband works on Zoom. Their ten-year-old son doesn't adapt to at-home onscreen learning. She cannot easily go to visit her elderly mother. There are shortages of all kinds of products as well as a shortage of patience. And in the end, a faint glimmer of the bottom of Pandora's box: hope.

I've observed before that contemporary literature has a new demarcation: set before or during the pandemic. (We can look forward to those that are set firmly after. Soon?)  

Weekly update: stash enhancement and more homespuns

Some of the wildflowers on this week's walks:
Broadleaf Arrowhead in bloom, bumblebee on purple prairie clover, prickly pear cactus (it grows in the sandy soil at Illinois Beach State Park), bull thistle, compass plant, prairie pinnate coneflower.

# # # # # #

Woo-hoo!   My entry in the Wisconsin Quilt Show was accepted!   

The quilt is Crown of Thorns. I made it in 2019 in response to the fire that destroyed Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.  They saved a relic purported to be a piece of the Biblical Crown of Thorns.  (And that day's daily quilt block in the perpetual calendar in my studio was Crown of Thorns.  Perfect.) 

In lieu of a walk on Tuesday we met Paula and her husband in the parking lot of Old Orchard Shopping Center.  Two years ago Paula downsized her stash and gave a lot of it to me.  She still had some more and her sister-in-law contributed.  Fabric and books!  I was able to give some of it away at Wednesday's guild meeting.  

The guild program was about Project Linus, presented by two members who are very involved in it.  Their presentation made me reconsider the contents of the box in the upper photo -- Paula had a lot of circus-themed fabric that I was going to give away.,  Now I'm considering using some of it for Linus quilts. That will compensate for some more new fabric on the left side of the box in the lower photo--Linus giveaways.  I'm going through the books, many of which I have, or once had.  

# # # # # # 
 We are having significant work done on our house while we are away (August 12-21). The living room will be replastered and painted, the bedrooms will be repainted, the doors and baseboards will be replaced, and the flooring will be replaced (new carpet in living room and hall, vinyl in the bedrooms).  That requires moving EVERYTHING off shelves and walls.   Our housecleaner was able to help me.--it took us 8 hours.   (It's easier to box up stuff when it is someone else's. If it's yours you think about what you're packing up.)    

# # # # # 
And, finally, on the design wall:  5-1/2" scrappy homespun monkey wrench blocks.  I'm planning to have plain blocks in between.  I'm aiming for 98 blocks.

Linking up with 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

BOTW: the book of the summer


Every summer deserves a book like this. It is a deliciously long 576 pages. Do I read fast to find out what happens, or do I slow down to savor every scene, every utterance, to catch every clue? The setting is achingly beautiful. The characters, primary and secondary, are memorable.

Agnes Lee and Polly Wister have known one another since birth. Their great-grandfathers, Philadelphia Quakers, built the rambling shingle "cottages" at Fellowship Point on the Maine coast (near Sorrento, I figured out). They have spent every summer of their lives on the Point. "They knew each other so well that their speech was as vertical in nature as a good poem." (p. 81).  Agnes became a famous author of best-selling children's books featuring an intrepid girl adventurer named Nan. Polly married a college professor, had four children, and poured all her energy into her family.

In 2000 the women are 80. Agnes has been diagnosed with cancer. Polly's husband dies. There is talk among the other Fellowship Point residents and heirs about selling out to developers. And Agnes gets a new editor, an ambitious young woman who wants Agnes to write her autobiography. Secrets hidden for decades are revealed. There are misunderstandings and fallings-out. But in the end true, lifelong friendship prevails.

Every summer deserves a book like this, but not every summer gets one. We are fortunate that 2022 is one of those years.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Weekly update: wondrous wildflowers, a new flimsy, and the stash report


Lots of wildflowers on display this week!

Cardinal flower / lobelia was a new one for me. It was growing alongside a stream in a shady patch.    

Coneflowers. The Latin name, echinacea, means spiny and the flower centers are.

Teasel is invasive  This patch was right next to the path so I could easily get closeup photos.  The upper and lower right photos show it in bloom, with all the little tiny flowers.   

The lower landscape photo is the Des Plaines River at Sedge Meadow. The middle landscape photo is one of the ponds at McDonald Woods.  From the LCFPD website: Acquired in the 1970s, the preserve was named after prior landowner, A. B. McDonald. He created a private nature preserve on roughly 295 acres in the 1940s, building three lakes and planting a pine grove and other trees. These habitats, along with the grasslands, provide homes for wildflowers and food, cover for birds and mammals, and respite for humans.

# # # # # # #

Here's the new flimsy!  8" blocks, 64 x 72.  4-7/8 yards used.  (There is no discernable reduction in the homespun stash.)

The stash report for July: 

Fabric out 51-3/4

Fabric in:  10 yards, $6 (a set of cotton sheets and a gift)

Fabric out YTD: 119-3/4

Fabric in,YTD:  1520-5/8, $855 (average $1.78/yd)  [I bought a huge destash in June]

Linking up with Oh Scrap!   Monday Making  Design Wall Monday

P.S.  A dragonfly stayed still long enough for me to take a picture.

Friday, July 29, 2022

A day downtown: Cezanne and more


The Art Institute's big summer show is a retrospective of works by Paul Cezanne.  It opened in May and closes September 5. I finally quit dithering and went to see it this past Monday.  

I walked the mile from the train station to the museum.  I'm an AIC member so I could get in at 10:00 (general public at 11:00) with no lines.  This was the second AIC visit I've had since the pandemic. (Here is my post from May 2021.)

The AIC lions were reinstalled a few weeks ago after a month-long cleaning and re-waxing.  (Here's how they did it.)  (And her is the story of the lions.) 

 From the AIC website:  This exhibition is the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in the United States in more than 25 years and the first exhibition on Cezanne organized by the Art Institute of Chicago in more than 70 years. Planned in coordination with Tate Modern, the ambitious project explores Cezanne’s work across media and genres with 80 oil paintings, 40 watercolors and draw positions from public and private collections in North and South America, Europe, and Asia.   

I got photos of landscapes, still lifes, and portraits but none of the many baigneuses (bathers).

The galleries weren't terribly crowded but I wore a mask to be on the safe side. 

I saw a few other favorites (Chagall and Sargeant shown here).  

I usually take Adams St. from the station to Michigan Ave. but this time I took Washington St.  

The Methodists were the first to establish a church in the settlement that became Chicago. (Church 1830, city 1837.)   After several buildings on this site they built an innovative tower. There is a sanctuary on the lower floor and a chapel at the top with offices (leased) on the other floors. Stained glass windows at street level depict scenes from congregation's beginning.  [Sometime I will go inside.]

The Chicago Cultural Center (on Michigan at Washington) was built as the Chicago Public Library.  The Grand Army of the Republic Hall is now an event venue.  It is topped by the largest Tiffany dome in the world. (One source values the dome at $35 million.) 

I didn't get an exterior photo -- you'll have to look it up! -- but I did take pictures of the mosaic floors.

There's another Tiffany dome at Macy's / Marshall Field's.   (State & Washington) 

The Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington) is called just that -- Picasso never gave it a name.   It caused quite a stir when it was unveiled in 1967 but over the decades it's become a familiar part of the downtown streetscape.

I caught the 1:32 train, arrived in Waukegan at 3:15, and was home before 4:00.  ("Why don't I do this more often?" I wonder.  I need to!) 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Forty years ago: the new librarian in town


On July 26, 1982 -- forty years ago today -- I began my new job as director of the Auburn (Maine) Public Library.  **

 At the end of June, 1980, we moved from Pittsburg, Kansas, to Portland when Stevens was appointed dean of the library at the University of Southern Maine.  I'd been very unhappy in Pittsburg (a long story) and he wanted to return to New England and we looked forward to the new opportunity. 


 I had two job interviews lined up (Windham PL and APL) and I got offers from both.  What an ego-booster that was.  Auburn was larger, paid better, and I loved the elegant 1904 Carnegie building.   It was the right decision.  In the 11 years I was there the library made progress and so did I.  

The long-time clerk to the APL board was an attorney. He wrote great minutes, getting all the facts and adding commentary. (See para. 5: "as usual, it was reported . . .) 

Two Hilyards in the state newsletter, Downeast Libraries. 

There was a month between our move and getting settled into our Portland house (two blocks from the USM Portland campus) and starting the new job. That was when I took note of two wildflowers growing in profusion in vacant lots and along roadsides:   Queen Anne's lace and chicory.  Every July since then (four decades now) when the long-lasting lacy white and heavenly blue come out I think back to that happy summer with so much promise and potential.

** Dress for Success and "doing your colors" were all the rage in 1982. I was in a quandary about my first-day outfit which I bought at Benoit's in downtown Portland.  The wrap skirt was light green and the blouse (ruffled placket and collar) was white with pink, green, and blue pinstripes. The wrap overlap was hard to keep together so I didn't wear the skirt very long but I wore the blouse for years.  

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Weekly update: wildflowers, mug rugs, and homespuns

Thunderstorms between midnight and 5 a.m. on Saturday brought very welcome rain.   The sun was out the rest of the weekend.

Wildflowers at Illinois Beach/Hosah Park on Saturday and Lyons Woods on Sunday.  

Pinnate prairie coneflower, jewel weed, rosin weed,  bluebell (campanula), spurge, joe pye weed.

# # # # # #

I do find time to sew, of course!

I used the picnic basket block (the guild July BOM) for the next batch of daisy mug rugs for an ongoing P.E.O. project.   All the baskets use the same daisy print.   (2 yards for all 16.)

On the design wall now:   8" checkerboards and variable stars.  I'm thinking about making 64 checkerboards and 8 stars but it's early yet. 

Linking up with Oh Scrap!   Monday Making Design Wall Monday

Bumblebee on purple loosestrife / lythrum.  The plant is a nasty invader.  Concerted efforts at eradication have greatly reduced the quantity but there are still patches here and there. 

Afternoon sunlight at Lyons Woods.  Pine trees growing in straight rows are evidence that the land was a nursery a few decades ago.

BOTW: mystery and history with recipes

 BOTW = Books of the Week. It's the new name for my weekly reading roundup.  

Mia Manansala's debut is a fast-paced cozy mystery featuring a Filipina-American protagonist and her extended family. When Lila's ex-boyfriend drops dead during lunch at her grandmother's restaurant Lila is considered a prime suspect. She enlists her friends to help her find the real culprit. Assumptions are made mistakenly, conclusions are leaped to, and there is a lot of food (Filipino and otherwise).

One of my favorite genres, narrative nonfiction, combines with one of my favorite subjects, American regional foodways, in a well-researched but never dull account of ground corn, better known as grits. Author Erin Byers Murray posits that a big reason that many people say they hate grits is that all they've known are gummy, pasty, mass-produced instant variety that cook up fast but are processed to the point of tastelessness. Murray travels throughout the south to meet people who are growing heritage corn and those who are milling it to make the most of the flavor. She writes about the inventors of milling equipment and the people who are keeping century-old machines going. She talks to chefs who develop new recipes and who tweak classics like shrimp and grits. Recipes are included. I intend to check out the specialty mills she mentions and place an order.      

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Midweek: a finish

 The batik crumb geese quilt is finished. (Anyone have suggestions for a better name than "crumby geese"?)

You can just about see the orange binding.

I used two batiks for the back. They blend so well that you can barely see the "zipper" that combines the them. 

I usually don't use batiks as quilt backs because I still consider them "special." However, I'm trying to use up batik yardage as well as scraps.

Closeup of the zipper.

 I have new projects in the works! Come back on Friday to see them.

 Linking up with Midweek Makers  Wednesday Wait Loss

Left: monarda (bee balm) at Illinois Beach State Park on Monday.  It was too hot (93) to take a walk yesterday afternoon.  During hot spells like these I'm grateful for central air conditioning! Hope you are able to stay cool, too.