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.

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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, 1982, 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.  

(What I learned much, much later was that some of Stevens' ancestors lived just outside Auburn and are buried there.  See the June 20 entry in this post  Small world.)

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.

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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.     

Monday, July 18, 2022

Weekly update: nearly finished


On Saturday evening we saw Sondheim's Into the Woods at the College of Lake County's performing arts center.  Fairy tales retold, and how!   

It was the first live theater we've seen since 2019.  (Bonus:  tickets were only $17 each.)    

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This is what happens when I don't have a specific project to work and I just have to sew something.  The batik crumbs are quilted.  I hope to get the binding (orange) sewn on this evening. When it's all finished I'll post a picture of the pieced back.  

I got a good walk on Saturday afternoon.  After church on Sunday I mowed the lawn (little growth during this dry, dry, dry period) and then buckled down to collate/stuff/label the Rotary golf outing mailing.  I had a good audiobook to entertain me (#5 in the C. J. Box Joe Pickett series).

The colors in the quilt echo the colors in this 
Turk's Cap lily.   (Photo taken at Illinois Beach State Park on Saturday.) 

Linking up with Design Wall Monday  Monday Making  Oh Scrap!

Sunday, July 17, 2022

BOTW: mysterious teens, now and then


Private investigator V. I Warshawski -- better-known as Vic -- is, as usual, supposed to be working for her paying customers when she gets caught up in a complicated series of coincidences. While out running she hears a cry for help and discovers a teenaged girl wedged in the rocks of the breakwater along Lake Michigan.  The girl is taken to the nearest hospital where she is treated -- and from which she disappears.  Finding the girl entangles Vic in a web of intrigue. Vic can never leave her south side neighborhood behind as this new case proves.  It involves a synagogue in Rogers Park, a crumbling mansion on Goose Island, and a nursing home scam on the North Shore.  Chicagoans (and former Chicagoans) will enjoy the local references and all readers root for Vic's strong sense of justice.  

P.S. The setting is current -- that is, 2021, with Covid as a part of everyday life.  It will be interesting to see how other novelists will incorporate this new normal, whether in series or stand-alone.

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I got the ARC of Kevin Wilson's new novel at the ALA conference in June.  It will be published in November. 

"The edge is a shantytown, filled with gold seekers.  We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us."

In the summer of 1996 posters with this mysterious message were plastered all over Coalfield, Kentucky.  What did it mean? Who was behind it and what was their intent?  Everyone had a theory.  National news outlets took notice.   There were sermons, t-shirts, shootings, fires, and an accidental death.  It went as viral as something could in the days before the ubiquity of the internet.

In 2017 Frankie Budge recalls that summer when she was 16. She and her new friend Zeke came up with an antidote for their boredom.   Zeke drew a picture of houses and  a pair of giant hands. Frankie wrote the first words that pop into mind:  "The edge is a shantytown . . ."  And the rest became history. 

Are our long-held secrets truly secrets?  How does the passage of years change the importance of events in our lives?   Kevin Wilson's coming-of-age story is memorable.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Friday check in: batik crumbs flimsy



Bumblebee on wild indigo, baptisia alba. Also called false indigo.  (Pine Dunes Forest Preserve on Tuesday.)

The sunshine and moderate temperatures are great for walking.  This morning (Friday) we are finally getting some rain.   That's fine because I have a lot of office-work to catch up on.

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In the studio:   

The batik crumb HSTs got lost in a straight setting.  

They stand out more as flying geese.

The flimsy used 5 yards.  I still have 2 yards+ of the turquoise batik. (The tag pinned to it said it was a 2014 purchase in the red tag section at Joann's.)

Linking up with Finished or Not Friday

P.S.  Butterfly weed is the most astounding shade of orange.   

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Weekly update: a vintage gift and batik crumbs

We were shocked and saddened by the shooting in Highland Park on the Fourth of July.  Among the victims were the superintendent of one of our local school districts and her eight-year-old son.  (HP is 25 miles south of us.)    

Wildflowers are in abundance!  Our outings this week were to Van Patten Woods, Raven Glen, and Illinois Beach. 

Top: purple prairie clover, purple coneflower, butterfly weed, hoary puccoon, tall cinquefoil, salsify (gone to seed), lead plant, Deptford pink, flowering spurge.


I love Turk's Cap lilies.  The photo collage includes a view from directly above and from directly below.

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When my high school friend Kathie came to work on the reunion nametags (see previous post) she brought me a gift.  Her grandmother hand-pieced this chambray-and-muslin spool top.  It's 80 x 80.  There are some brown spots but it's otherwise in fine shape. I will enjoy being its new owner.

I've been working on batik crumb blocks this week.  I've made some into HSTs (6-1/2" unfinished).   I'd like to use up some yardage and the turquoise check batik seemed the best choice.  I'm contemplating different orientations.

Linking up with Oh Scrap! Monday Making Design Wall Monday

P.S. Wild raspberries are ripe! We helped ourselves to a sample. They're seedy but tasty.   (You can't harvest or forage in the forest preserve.)