Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Midweek: positive is not good, but some small finishes

 Both of us were sneezy on Sunday.  My husband suffers from allergies year-round (dust and mold as well as pollen) but I only react in late spring when pollen is very heavy.  We took quick Covid tests and both read positive.   I don't have a fever, just sneezes and sniffles and a few aches.  He, meanwhile, is grumbling because we got our second booster shots last week so we should be immune, right? Umm, no.  I've pointed out that sniffles are a lot better than being hospitalized.    CDC guidelines say to self-quarantine for five days (=through Friday). I had to bail on two luncheons that's I'd really looked forward to. (Fortunately the reservation for one of them will be transferred to next month.)   I gave a heads-up to people I'd seen over the weekend.   I rearranged several other activities.    

The bright side:   I can get this over with before next week which is crazy-busy.

I made seven more daisy-print mug rugs for an ongoing P.E.O. project.  My chapter's long-time fundraiser is selling yearbook covers. They are quarter-page-sized ring binders.  We work with another chapter (they do the finances, we do the order fulfillment) and each chapter nets between $3000 and $5000 per year to benefit P.E.O. projects (listed here) to educate women. 

A coupon for a mug rug is put inside each shipment of yearbook covers.  I started doing this last fall and more than 20 coupons have been redeemed so far. 

Linking up with Wednesday Wait Loss  Midweek Makers

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Weekly update: turtles, music, sewing UPDATE!, and reading

It rained all day Friday -- 1.8" accumulation, which helps compensate for the severe drought we had in 2021.  Saturday was glorious:  80 degrees and sunny!  I walked the entire 2.5 mile trail at Pine Dunes.  I saw two turtles and three hawks.  

The Lake County Symphony Orchestra's annual jazz + classics concert was Saturday evening featuring five compositions by Dave Brubeck followed by Dvorak's New World Symphony.   Wonderful music!

There was a Covid outbreak among the church choir members after the Easter service.  No choir this morning and we were back to alternating pews and masks required.  (Follow up is that no one got terribly ill.)

(We got our second Pfizer boosters on Wednesday.)

Rotary helped with a diaper drive this afternoon -- just long enough for a photo op.  

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In the studio:   The tote bag body is complete.  Hooray!

I should have a Finished Object soon.   

I finished it later on Sunday.  Now I can link up to OMG. 

I'm up to 64 asterisk blocks. (I'm aiming for 90.) 

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This week's reading:  

I've had the ARC (advance reader copy) of The Vanishing Half on the TBR shelf for a year and a half.  When the AAUW Jane Addams Branch announced it as the April book club selection it was time to read it!  
"People thought that being one of a kind made you special. No, it just made you lonely. What was special was belonging with someone else." (p. 88)
Identical twin sisters Desiree and Stella Vignes escape the confining, limiting expectations of their Louisiana hometown and create very different lives for each other. Desiree identifies as Black and escapes an abusive marriage by returning home with her daughter. Stella passes as white and marries a wealthy white New Englander. They settle in southern California and also have a daughter. The sisters lose all contact with one another. Years later their daughters unexpectedly cross paths -- one a college athlete and the other a wanna-be actress -- and long-held secrets come to light.

I don't recall who recommened Eight Flavors, but I'm glad I followed up and borrowed it from the library.  
 There are many interesting (and tasty!) nuggets of information in this history of eight ingredients that are now indispensable in American cooking. Food historian Sarah Lohman writes about pepper (1700's) vanilla, chili, curry powder, soy sauce, garlic, monosodium glutamate, and sriracha (1970's.  Recipes are included.

"The American kitchen is not static; it's cumulative, and it evolves," Lohman concludes. "All it takes is a special event that creates an interest in a flavor." (p. 221-222)

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

Friday, April 22, 2022

Friday check-in: quilt presented, asterisks, and fabric pull


My husband's barber is moving out of town.  The shop closes on Saturday. We stopped by yesterday to thank her for five years of great haircuts (and for listening to his stories).  She said her new stepkids love to read with her and now they can snuggle under a quilt.  (It's my version of Bonnie Hunter's Bitcoin.)

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I'm having fun making asterisk blocks in Christmas prints!   

These are 6.5" unf.  I'm planning on making 90 blocks.

Here is the fabric pull for the tote bag that's my OMG for April.  (Will I have it finished in a week?)  

Linking up at Finished or Not Friday

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Midweek: new projects

 When I went into the Parts Department box to get HSTs for last week's project I came across a ziploc bag with 32 3-1/2" pinwheels. They were made from the cutaway corners from a long-ago project.   Look what happened!   

The old pinwheels are in the nine-patch blocks.  I made new pinwheels for the cornerstones with a different gold print -- but, by golly, I still had some of that very same tone-on-tone neutral.  

This is an odd size -- 39 x 51.  Maybe I'll add another border. Maybe I won't.

If you do the math you'll note that 6 blocks times 5 pinwheels = 30.  Yes, I have two of those old pinwheels. 

The guild BOM for April is Gwen Marston-style baskets.  Here's my entry.  

While going through patterns-torn-from-magazines I found Asterisk.  (This particular pattern was by Karen Griska in McCall's Quilting, but it was also a Block Lotto selection.)  I think I've got the beginning of the 2022 AAUW holiday raffle quilt.

What I *really* need to work on is my OMG project, the daisy-themed tote bag.  Maybe by this weekend??

Linking up with Midweek Makers  and Wednesday Wait Loss

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Weekly update: a cold Easter, memories, a finish!, and good reading


In fourth grade we had a unit of "weather legends."  One that I remember is, "If it rains on Easter Sunday it will rain for the next seven Sundays."   I recall the saying each year but I have never tracked the precipitation between Easter and what I now know is Pentecost.  This year, about the latest Easter can get, it's sunny but darned cold!  

Left: the paschal moon on Friday evening as I left the tenebrae service at church.

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My mother died April 16, 2002 -- twenty  years ago yesterday.  I miss her still. I spent a half hour going through photos. One scrapbook leads to another. Friends, flowers, family, books, travels. (And you never forget your mother's handwriting, do you?)

These notes were in the back of a photo album. I take copious notes during our trips, too -- an inherited trait?

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In the studio: a fast finish! I have a box of 3.5" nine patches from the long-time Block Swappers group. I had a ziploc bag with 3.5" HSTs. I've made this design before. The most tedious part is pinning all the diagonal rows together.

The back is a 58" wide cotton print. Or cotton mis-print -- there was a smear where the printing plate didn't strike cleanly. You can't tell because I sliced through it and added the insert strip.

I used my machine's serpentine stitch with the walking foot to quilt it.

54 x 60, approx.

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I read some good books this week!

Nine people across the country get envelopes in the mail. The contents are the same: a list of nine names, theirs included. None of these people knows any of the others. There is no indication of what it means to be on the list. But because one of them is an FBI agent an investigation gets underway immediately and when the murders begin the mystery deepens.

The similarities to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None and The A B C Murders is not lost on the reader. Peter Swanson adds other literary references, too, in this fast-paced and very suspenseful story.

Wheeler Catlett is the fulcrum of these six short stories set in rural Port William Kentucky. Each is a snapshot: click! 1930 when the young attorney goes to town to retrieve Uncle Peach from his latest bender. Click! 1947, when son Andy goes to work on the farm. Click! 1933: Wheeler guides a complicated real estate transaction. Click! 1965, twice: Mat Feltner reflects on his place in the universe. Click! 1967 now Wheeler looks back on his life and career as farmer and lawyer.

Wendell Berry documents the interconnected lives of families across decades and generations. As Burley Coulter tells Wheeler, "The way we are, we are members of each other. All of us. Everyhing. The difference ain't in who is a member and who is not, but who knows it and who don't. What has been, not what ought to have been, is what I have to claim."

I've owned this 1986 collection of short stories for more than 20 years but only now have I taken it off the shelf to read -- no, to savor every precisely-placed word.

"On the spectrum." "Neurodivergent." Those may be the technical terms to describe 25-year-old Molly Gray, but she doesn't label herself that way. Instead she tells us in precise detail (because that's how her mind works) about her life with her late Gran and her job as a maid at the upscale Regency Grand Hotel. It's hard for her to detect subtle social cues or irony. When the wealthy Mr. Black, a regular guest at the hotel, is found dead in his room she is framed for murder. Fortunately (thank you, Gran) she has a friend with resources and, eventually all turns out well.

P.S.  Don't forget to tip the maid!

It's 5:15 p.m. and the lamb is ready to come out of the oven.  I hope you've had a celebratory Easter, too. 
Linking up with  Oh Scrap!     Design Wall Monday   

Friday, April 15, 2022

Friday check in: a fine, a field trip, and a finish

Wednesday turned out to be an expensive day.  The first expense was to the electrician who came after lunch. He replaced the 8' fluorescent tubes in the laundry room with two 4' LED fixtures. It's bright enough to perform surgery in the laundry room now!  ($$ to pay him.)   

 Then I drove up to Joann's in Racine to buy batting.  I usually buy it by the bolt but I couldn't get the Joann's online system to take the five $25 gift cards I wanted to use.    I was nearly at the mall when I got nailed by a cop.  No, I did not know that the speed limit dropped from 55 to 35 just south of at intersection.  (And of course I was going over 55.)   $$ for that ticket. (To add insult to injury, the officer said, "Drive careful!"   I drive more grammatically than that!)

I was so irritated with myself that I went right to the batting, bypassing the fabric.   "Oh, that's a speed trap," the store clerk said as she measured 5 yards of batting for me.   At the cash register I swiped a gift card, and another, and another.  They did not go through.  Hmmm.  Did the online system take them and is that online order pending?  I will have to investigate.  $ for the batting.   

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Gusty winds but sunny

Thursday afternoon seven of us from AAUW enjoyed a tour of the Frances Willard House in Evanston.   She was an educator (dean of women at Northwestern) and social activist (longtime president of the WCTU and very active in the suffrage movement).  

 From the website:  Frances Willard was a social reformer who stood out against gender inequality and fought to give a voice to society’s disenfranchised.  Willard forged a prototype for community organization and social reform that transformed our cultural landscape. The basis of our modern social welfare policies can be found in the initiatives fomented by Willard. Her life’s work is an example of what can be done when one is devoted to a cause.  Her ability to work hard and to mobilize others to work hard is a model of personal determination and amazing leadership skills.  To this day, Frances Willard continues to be “re-discovered” as the prototype of the modern, forward-thinking woman.

Life-sized cutout -- Frances was small and mighty. 

Dictation machine, arts & crafts touches in her upstairs office.  

Fellow quilter Dorothy and I noted the quilt (no information about it).  

I paid close attention to the speedometer as I drove.   It was nice to chat with my passengers Dorothy and Betsy. I've known both for a long time but they didn't know one another. 

I can relate to this.  

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The finish!  

Hopscotch, front.

Hopscotch, back.  The blue fabric has been in the tub of backing-length for a long, long time. The HSTs in the insert strip are from this long-ago project.  

Linking up with other bloggers at  

Finished or Not Friday

P.S.  Quilters always take photos of floors! This oak parquet pattern was in Frances Willard's office. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Weekly update: more happenings, some sewing, and wonderful books


Saturday was pleasantly event-filled.

We enjoyed the Kiwanis pancake breakfast. I bought raffle tickets and won a $10 Amazon gift card, a $25 Hobby Lobby gift card, and an ice cream sundae basket (all the fixings -- just add ice cream).

The AAUW Fellows Luncheon returned after two years’ absence. It was lovely to join Deerfield Area and Waukegan Area Branch friends. AAUW American Fellowship recipient (and newly-minted PhD) Natasha Ferguson told us about her research in integrated biomedical sciences. (Specifically, HIV Mucosal Immune Response,) She said the fellowship made a world of difference as she conducted research, coauthored papers, and had a baby during the pandemic.

The luncheon is the kickoff for the spring quilt raffle. This is, hmm, the 20th? quilt I've donated to benefit AAUW. Frolic has been waiting patiently since the Covid pandemic cancelled 2020 and 2021 in-person events.

AAUW friends. (Black slacks for all of us. Karen and I and several others chose purple tops, too.)

A long tradition comes to an end this Easter season. The Zion Passion Play has been a part of our community since 1935. (History here.) This is the last year that the Fine Arts Mnistry of Christ Community Church will stage it. (It's difficult for people to commit the time and of course costs increase.) This year the staging, casting, and costuming were the best of the three or four editions we have been privileged to see.

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Hopscotch is under the needle.

I have a labeling session in the near future.

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I'm so pleased that this is the April selection for a book group I'm in because otherwise I would never have checked it out. One elegant black dress made for a New York fashion house by its 90-year-old patternmaker -- now, there's a story. It's first worn by a young runway model for her first big show -- another story. It become The Dress of the season, available at Bloomingdale's --yet another story. And on it goes -- nine women and several men, bringing long-time love and brand-new love, a bit of revenge, and tremendous success. It's a charming story!

Once again Anne Tyler takes us into the lives of a family who may well be the people next door. The Garretts -- father Robin (plumbing supplies distributor), mother Mercy (an aspiring artist), daughters Alice and Lily and much younger son David -- love, despair, and generally cope with one another, putting up with foibles and (sometimes) admiration. In 2020 David looks back over the decades. He recalls the French braids his daughter once had: "When she undid them her hair would still be in ripples...for hours...That's how families work. You think you're free of them, but you're never really free; the ripples are crimped in forever." [Who but a Tyler character would speak with a semicolon?]

The minutiae of one family's life over 60 years might be rendered tedious and boring in the hands of a less-skillful writer. But Anne Tyler carries it out pitch-perfectly to our great satisfaction and (yet again) delight. 

# # # # # Monday Making     Design Wall Monday   Oh Scrap!

P.S.  Palm Sunday origami!  

Friday, April 8, 2022

Friday check in: a busy first week and a flimsy

 The first week of the month is always busy with regularly-scheduled meetings. 

It was wonderful to have dinner with P.E.O. sisters on Monday after months of Zooming.  We had great fun with our white elephant exchange (sidelined for two years due to Covid).  I'd had custody of one of the perennial white elephants -- a funny plaster pig--and successfully handed it off.    

 Deb got the bead-and-safety-pin basket.   Lenee got the owls--we think they are travel jewelry holders. One owl has been around for 20 years. I got the other owl and the basket at this estate sale way back in 2009.

In return I got a never-used giant beer glass that can serve very nicely as a vase.

I didn't take any photos at the Zion Woman's Club meeting on Tuesday because I was too occupied with presiding at the meeting and doing the powerpoint for the two speakers.  Wendy talked about the BUZ, Building Up Zion, our status as a monarch butterfly city and a community garden project.  (Our Rotary Club is sponsoring the signage for that project.)  Harriet talked about Grandparents and Kin Raising Children Lake County, the agency she founded.  GKRCLC will be the beneficiary of ZWC's Cinco de Mayo fundraiser.   (And on Thursday Marilyn and I interviewed five candidates for the ZWC scholarship, $1000 awarded to a young woman graduating from Zion-Benton Twp High School.)

And, yes, there was quilting.  (Isn't there always quilting?)  The guild met in person Wednesday.  Guild member Barb presented a trunk show.   She has a long arm business and has quilted many of my quilts.   She does beautiful work.

I'm co-chairing the guild BOM this year.  Participants brought several months' worth of blocks to distribute to those who have won the monthly drawing. 

Rose with Feb. log cabin baskets, Donna with Jan. batik baskets, Joanne with Nov. Thanksgiving baskets, Sunny with October Halloween baskets, Helen with December cactus baskets.  The March handkerchief baskets were handed in and awarded as well.  Co-chair Marge has us making Gwennie's Baskets for April (a la Gwen Marston) and is coming up with an idea for May.  I'll have June and July.

Despite all this activity I had time to sew.   The pattern that inspired the hopscotch blocks (see the previous post) had an on-point setting with red for the alternate squares and side triangles.  Remember that this is a stash reduction effort and I'm using what I have. I auditioned several reds and found one that would work.  I had enough for the squares but not the side triangles. What to do?  I switched to a straight setting and cut the setting squares into 2" strips. I added contrasting cornerstones. There was enough of a blue print (a bit of gold, a bit of red) for the borders.  Success!

5-1/2 yards for the flimsy.

Linking up with Finished or Not Friday


P.S. We were delighted with the news of Judge Jackson's confirmation!

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Weekly update: passages, a finish, hopscotch, and two great books

Signs of spring: the scilla have begun to bloom.  The aquilegia (columbine) have sprouted. Bring on the daffodils! 

In home improvement news, the 50-year-old windows were replaced this week.  (The exception is the five-pane bay window in the living room which has to be custom-ordered.)  My bathroom remodeling is finally done with the last wall patch plastered over and painted.  

We had to bundle up on Friday to plant blue pinwheels for Child Abuse Prevention Month.  It's one of the GFWC-Illinois signature projects.  

Sad news:  two Zion Women's Club members passed away last week at age 91 and 89.  Our next door neighbor's father passed away last week, also at 91.  Our good friend Bob has added hospice to his caregivers. He's been taken off all his medications, though when I went to visit this afternoon he was visiting with the pastor and another church friend while wife Liz and the four daughters were enjoying their weekly Scrabble game. (They live just the right distance for me to get a good walk.  I share books with Liz. The book I took today is reviewed in this post.)

On the other hand, I saw an estate sale sign when I left church this morning. I knew the house!   I was relieved when the estate sale people said that Genny has moved to assisted living so the sale was to downsize.  I bought a few things, including  yellow and red Pyrex mixing bowls.  (I got the turquoise bowl at a sale last year....hopefully there will be a green one at a bargain price sometime soon.)   When I got home I called Genny.  "I'm going down to lunch," she said cheerfully.  She's moved to a congregate housing place in Zion, a decision entirely on her own. She's fine and happy at 94.   I aspire to her example!

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Creme de la Crumb is quilted and bound. 

The bright primary-color 'fruit salad' print on the back looks like a contemporary retro -- but it's genuine vintage CranTex (Cranston), 45" wide.  I got it at a thrift shop a couple of years ago.  The green insert is to add contrast and so that I didn't have to try to match the two pieces.

I've made 26 CW hopscotch blocks. The pattern calls for 42.

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My husband is a big fan of the Joe Pickett mysteries by C. J. Box. I've begun listening to the audio version narrated by David Chandler.  (He also narrated the Cork O'Connor series by William Kent Krueger.)  I've finished #1 and am nearly done with #2.  Stevens has #22, published in March, in the stack next to his chair.) 

Listening aside, I read two great books this week, one by a long-time favorite author and the other by a new writer.  

"The Rembrandt light of memory, finicky and magical and faithful at the same time, as the cheaper tint of nostalgia never is," writes narrator Paul Milliron about the momentous year of 1910 -- when Halley's Comet entered the heavens and when Rose Llewellyn and Morrie Morgan entered their prairie farming community. Rose came to be housekeeper for the Millirons (widower Oliver, Paul, and younger brothers Damon and Toby). Morrie came with his sister and when the schoolteacher eloped with a traveling evangelist he stepped in as a most unusual and inspiring schoolmaster in the one-room rural school.

Ivan Doig's writing is exquisite and his storytelling is memorable. A couple of years ago I acquired a paperback copy of The Whistling Season. It's been in the "someday" stack. My husband read it ("This is good," he said) and it went back on the stack. Someday finally arrived and, oh, I so enjoyed traveling back in time to the Montana prairie.


"What is the purpose of a map?....Maps were love letters written to times and places their makers had explored. They did not control the territory--they told its stories....[Maps] bring people together." (p. 372)

When cartographer Daniel Young dies suddenly in his office in the Map Division of the New York Public Library his estranged daughter Nell, herself a cartographer, finds a not-so-old map in a hidden compartment in his desk. What is the significance of a 1950's gas station road map? As Nell soon learns, someone wants that map very, very much. Nell's investigation into the map's history and its meaning to her parents and their once-tightly-knit circle of fellow cartographers uncovers long-hidden secrets and a long-hidden town.   It's a grand adventure!

Linking up with Oh Scrap!   Design Wall Monday  Monday Making