Saturday, July 20, 2024

Dancing, Space Center, and Selvedges

The past week was mostly about activities other than quilting. 

Monday afternoon was spent in a three hour line dancing workshop. A local instructor arranged to bring Niels Poulsen from Amsterdam to teach. I attended his intermediate level workshop, and boy, did his dance routines test my ability to recall 64-count dances! Here's a line dance Niels choreographed called Ghosted. Or you can watch Niels dancing it here.

On Wednesday hubs and I headed to Titusville where we stayed for two nights to revisit the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). We'd been there in March 2017 when Di came to visit from Australia, but it's a place worth visiting again. 

The all-inclusive price allows visitors inside a number of buildings where videos and exhibits can be seen. A bus will take you past the ginormous vehicle assembly building, where it appears that on this Thursday morning, many people were hard a work. The bus unloaded us at the Apollo/Saturn V Center.

There you can see actual capsules and rockets used in different missions. 

After a while, some of the rocket and shuttle names became blurred in my mind. A rocket is used only one time; the next generation is shuttles that rocketed upward, but then flew like a plane to land on earth. No waste!

Being at the Kennedy Space Center, and watching numerous video presentations about the space program since 1962, including President John F. Kennedy's speech about it, made me really think about what we've already experienced. Anyone else besides me remember July 20, 1969 - TODAY, 55 years ago - watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon?!

Now we're seeing what the future holds as other companies join the journey into space. Here's a model of the Artemis II that will send a crew to the moon for "a long term presence for science and exploration." 

The KSC IMAX theater program is about the James Webb Telescope - more powerful than the Hubble telescope. It was fascinating to learn about! After $1 billion was spent designing and building the Webb telescope, it was launched from French Guiana (because the location was near the equator) on December 25, 2021. It has been sending incredible images back to earth. 

The Boeing Starliner has been in the news. After experiencing a helium leak and thruster issues during docking with the International Space Station, it's not yet in condition to return two astronauts - Suni Williams and Butch Filmore - to earth. I can't imagine being in their space shoes!

Honestly, some of the space stuff is unbelievable, yet dozens and dozens of astronauts keep going. The "Heros and Legends" building is an impressive acknowledgement of everyone who's been in space.

After that well-spent day, we were ready for food. A search found Grills Seafood Deck and Tiki Bar in Port Canaveral. Turns out it's on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship dock! In port was the newest cruise ship in the fleet - the second largest cruise ship in the world, Utopia of the Seas - 6,700 passengers; 21 places to eat; 23 bars; 5 pools; 3 water slides, and 2 casinos. No, thank you!

We sure enjoyed our meals at that green-roofed restaurant though! As I've mentioned before, I'm not much of a fish-eater, but I was definitely won over by the delicious fish reuben recommended by our waitress. Can you imagine? Swiss cheese and sauerkraut with fish? It was amazingly good! The fish was cobia, a lean, mild-tasting whitefish. A Key Lime Colada went down real easy too. Hubs ate a fish Cuban.

It's nice to have these mid-week getaways, which affirm that: 1) crowds are thinner; and 2) motels are less expensive. Our Wednesday and Thursday night stay at a Hampton Inn jumped $70 more on Friday night. 

Not much happened in my sewing room this week where I focused only on making foundation paper pieced selvedge blocks for the Bibliography quilt. Thus far, 24 blocks are made. I'll stop at 30. 

Specifically using selvedges with text that includes a year, I was happy to find 2015 and 2013 selvedges for this block.

But when I found a selvedge from 1997 - whoo-ee! I texted Amy Friend (the pattern designer) to tell her. She texted back, "You win!" 😀 The 1997 date was on a selvedge of pink Moda Marbles. Were you quilting back then too?

Book Recommendations
A Novel Proposal
 by Denise Hunter is a sweet story about Sadie, a writer. She's already received a $20,000 advance on her next book, and must switch from her favorite Western genre to romance. She's never read a romance, let alone written one. Sadie's best friend suggests getting out of NYC to really focus on writing. She finds herself in one half of a duplex on a South Carolina beach with a stack of romance novels to read. 

Sadie meets the handsome landscaper, Sam, who lives next door. He seems to be a curmudgeon and will barely speak to her. She continues to meet friendly people, and decides (with the duplex owner's permission) to build and install a Little Free Library next to the duplex, right on the beach access boardwalk. While tending the library, Sadie finds the book Christy by Catherine Marshall (I read this book about 25 years ago. You too?). When she opens the book to leaf through the pages, she finds a space cut out of the pages and a box within it. 

What follows is a quest, with Sam's assistance, to return the book to its original owner. You might guess where all this is headed, and you'd be right - a predictable romance. Apparently this book has been made into a Hallmark movie. 

I appreciated the book recommendations Sadie made to people using the Little Free Library which is what prompted me to read my next book - Julie by Catherine Marshall. 

Linda's score: 4.9/5.0

 by Catherine Marshall was written in the 1970, but wasn't published until after her death in 1983. It's based on Catherine's own life during the Depression, and is definitely worth reading, even decades later. 

Julie Wallace is 18 years old, the oldest of three children. Her father was a pastor, but they've left that church in Alabama to live in Alderton, Pennsylvania where Ken Wallace is the new owner of the Alderton Sentinel. Though he knows nothing about the newspaper business, the whole family have jobs to do. 

As Julie learns more about her father's business, she becomes privy to concerns in the community - the risks and treatment of men working in the steel mill; living conditions of workers in a flood-prone area called The Lowlands, and questionable practices of the community's elite. When a engineer's report is missing - about the condition of an earthen dam, holding back water above several communities, including Alderton - Julie and her dad raise concerns. Their family is threatened, and all of Alderton is at risk. 

Julie is a captivating story that's a good reminder about how far we've come since Depression-era working conditions and safety standards. Scripture and Bible lessons are woven into the story too. I know this book will stick with me for a long while.

The only negative thing I'll say is that the narrator is Cassandra Campbell. After hearing her read dozens of books, I'm a bit tired of her voice which is okay, but not a favorite.

Linda's score: 4.4/5.0

Friday, July 12, 2024

Binding the "No Name" Quilt

I'm absolutely delighted about finishing my 65" X 71"minimalist quilt - the one that's certainly not minimalist, and I've called by several names.... none of which are keepers. So, my No Name quilt is done and currently lies across the guest room bed, awaiting its outdoor, styled photo shoot with better pictures to come.

For binding, I used my favorite binding method. First, I marked the quilt perimeter.

Then, measured it and a strip of binding, to make both the same length. I sewed binding, separately, to four side.

Corner are left free, for machine-sewing.

After sewing corners together...

... ⅜" from the sewing line, I rotary cut to trim batting and backing.

I have a 2009 tutorial for this "No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine method here, but I'm wondering if it's time to write a new one... though I wouldn't be telling blog-readers anything different. 

Here's an honest picture of my sewing room today! Since finishing the quilt (It still needs a name; did I mention that?) I've continued to make a few Bibliography selvedge quilt blocks (royal blue blocks on the far right and bottom left). Yes, that's a heaping, messy pile of selvedges on the table.  I'm keeping up with my 100 Days of Quilt Your Life - 42 days into 100 days. I have made 63 blocks, and am only (at the moment) four blocks behind. 

I'm also hand-quilting the second of four wedges for the modern potholder quilt. See the last picture of Pot  Luck here
Book Recommendations

Nothing Else But Miracles
by Kate Albus takes place in the Lower East Side of Manhattan (a place I've never been), where 12 year-old Dory and her brothers - one older and one younger - are trying to get by on their own. Their mother has died, and their father has been called-up to WWII service. 

Head-strong Dory often does things her elders tell her not to do. They're getting along fine with their father's monthly paycheck and people in the neighborhood who offer baked goods or a weekly meal. Their landlord is kind and understanding. But when he suddenly dies, the children find themselves in difficult circumstances, in the watchful eye of a new, unyeilding landlord. It's through Dory's tenacity that they find a place to hide, beyond the prying eyes of the landlord and the authorities to whom he's reported them. 

I found this is a deliciously charming tale about plucky children, fending for themselves as best they can in unfortunate circumstances. This story is unlike any you've read before. 

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro was a reflective story about families growing up on the same street, and how neighborhoods turn over and change through the years, yet how people remain the same. 

Dr. Ben Wilf and his wife have raised two children on Division Street. Ben unexpectedly meets his new neighbors, the Shenkmans, as Mrs. Shenkman goes into premature labor. The son who's born, Waldo, is one of the main characters, an 11 year-old who's noticeably quiet, unusual, and has a fascination for star-gazing. Though Waldo's father loves him, he's doesn't "get" him, so when Waldo encounters Ben with whom he finds understanding, an unlikely relationship forms. The same night they meet, another encounter changes Waldo's and Ben's lives forever. 

Woven throughout the story is the Wilf family's terrible experience - a tragedy they never talk about, but haunts all their lives. 

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

The Clinic
by Cate Quinn is a somewhat far-fetched, yet engaging story that will draw you in.

Readers go with Megan to a remote, coastal part of the Pacific Northwest to The Clinic, where celebrities stay in a plush, exclusive facility for rehabilitation from alcohol and drug abuse. Meg's going, under cover, because her sister, the famous singer, Haley Banks died while in The Clinic. Though Haley's death is ruled a suicide, local police investigate to learn that more is going on than a suicide. 

While Meg promises her partner, Harry, that she'll give up her alcohol and drug habit while she's in The Clinic, she will also find her sister's killer. Meg comes to know the other guests - three women and two men - as she receives threatening letters warning her to leave. Then her life is in danger too. It comes to light that everyone in The Clinic is involved in rehabilitation using a new, experimental treatment that dredge's up painful, traumatic memories. 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

I've been playing Wordle for a while now. You too? In fact, I've played 891 times, but I've lost several times. My longest streak was 164. No doubt you've got longer streaks than me! 

Anyway, it doesn't often happen that I can guess the word in two guesses, so I had to document it.

I've been following Debbie J aquilterstable as she's been making pieced chairs. Her project brought to mind an old pattern I kept (one of a few) of a set of pieced chairs. The pattern, called "Come Have a Seat," was published by Four Corners in 1994 (!), and when I recently opened the pattern sleeve, I found an extra chair I'd made in 1995 when I made and gifted this quilt to a co-worker at Drake University. One of these days (ha!) I'd like to make this little quilt again. 

Friday, July 5, 2024

Same, and disappointing

To me it seems that not much is being finished, though I am daily in my sewing room working on something. 

I continue to machine quilt - a combo of walking foot, ruler quilting, and free motion quilting - the minimalist blue quilt. What's left now is a little more big stitch hand quilting in strategic places. 

Louise Wackerman @imfeelincrafty released July block instructions for the Like Totally BOM, so I made those half-rectangle triangles.

Also I finish, very disappointingly, the Irina dress made in the Bernina sew along. On the hanger, it looks nice enough.

And I'm pleased with the chicken scratch I did on the bodice and sleeves.

But when I tried on the dress... ugh! I look terrible wearing it. It's too high-waisted. The loose-fitting style makes me look very frumpy. Hubs commented that I look like someone from the 1930s. I'll never wear the dress. It's utterly "not me." So much wasted time, effort, and money spent on linen fabric. Sigh.

This week I mostly exercised, trying two new-to-me line dance classes with two different instructors. Both went okay, with me fumbling through quite a few new-to-me line dances that everyone else knew. Thank goodness for Copperknob, where I can access step sheets and videos of dances, for practice at home. 

I finished only one audiobook this week, and it too was very disappointing.

Book Recommendation 
In The Locked Room, by Frieda McFadden, the reader meets Dr. Nora Davis, a surgeon who is still trying to put the past behind her. Twenty-six years ago, her father, "The Handyman" was put in prison for life for murdering at least 18 women, and severing their hands. Nora must live with the fact that he performed these atrocities right under her nose, in the basement of their family home.

Now, two of Nora's patients have been found murdered, both with severed hands. The police come to her to make inquiries, expecting Nora to provide explanations. She isn't sharing anything, including that someone is leaving notes, in her father's handwriting, inside her door; that she found blood on the floor of her basement; and that she found a hand in the trunk of her car. Is the person behind all this the man she's begun seeing? 

I would have given this book a higher score if the narrator, Shaina Summerville, hadn't done such a poor job reading it. Each character seemed to have the same voice, and certainly the same inflections that made everyone sound angry or pompous. I'm not alone in my opinion, and found this comment on this post about the book:

I kept trying to listen past the narrator, for the quality of the story, and just couldn't do it. Read this one in print! 

Linda's score: 3.7/5.0


Sunday, June 30, 2024

End of June

The last day of June finds me in a happy place 😄 tallying-up fabric use through the month. 

Though I made a fabric purchase - a total of four yards of Painter's Palette: Aruba, Oyster, and French Blue - on sale from Heather Black at Quiltachusetts....

...I still used-up more fabric than I took in! Yay! I used 8.93 yards, for a net of 4.93 yards OUT of my stash.

Fabric used went into:
  • Like Totally BOM blocks
  • 10 selvedge blocks for the Bibliography quilt (I do not count selvedges as yardage out)
  • a 3.2 pound bag of snippets for pet beds
  • and 50 blocks for my 100-day Quilt Your Life project 

Whoo-ee! Yes! I made 50 five-inch blocks this month that represent ten different activities in which I regularly engage. They're related to faith, friendship, fitness, and fun.

It seems that this month I was most engaged in line dancing - 9 times. Those are blocks with black and white striped fabric. Line dancing is not only good exercise, but learning different dance patterns is great mind exercise. I've been on a search for more challenging line dances (closer to level 4 dancing, out of 5), so I've been visiting different instructors' classes. 

Book Recommendation
It Ends With Us
 by Colleen Hoover tells Lily's story beginning with the death of her father, a man who physically abused Lily's mother. Growing up in this situation, always aware of her parent's fights, Lily finds friendship and understanding from an unlikely source: a young man living in an abandoned house behind Lily's home. 

Now Lily has met Ryle, a man who claims to be a "one night stand" guy with no intentions of marrying or having children. As they slowly fall hard for each other, Lily comes to know a side of Ryle that's difficult to accept. Faced with impossible choices, compounded by an unexpected situation, consequent decisions will not be easy to live with. 

Initially I thought this would be a "girl meets boy and falls in love story," but it's more than that. Some moments between Lily and Ryle are flat-out pornographic, but that part of the narrative is understandable in light of the point of the author's story - abuse of a woman by a man, and how difficult it is to get out of such a relationship. 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

It Ends With Us gives me a total of eight books listened-to in June. Those are reflected in the "book blocks," lower right, of my Quilt Your Life photo. 

Here's my June book recap, in score order:
  1. The Women, Kristin Hannah, 4.8
  2. Someone Else's Shoes, JoJo Moyes, 4.5
  3. The Cutting Season, Attica Locke, 4.3
  4. This Time Tomorrow, Emma Straub, 4.2
  5. It Ends With Us, Colleen Hoover, 4.0
  6. Twist of Fate, D.L. Mark, 3.7
  7. The Last List of Mabel Beaumont, Laura Pearson, 3.0
  8. The Holy Spirit, John Bevere, (no score)
Half way through 2024, my Book Bracket looks like this. Obviously, The Women is my runaway favorite!

June also means we've now lived in Florida for 12 years! It's incredible to think we've been away from Iowa, and living in this "new" house for so long. Time really does fly. Linda

Friday, June 28, 2024

Cedar Key, and Making

It's not like me to go a week in between blog posts, but we were away from home for a few days, on a mid-week get-away. It's especially good to go on these during the off-season - no extra winter tourists or snowbirds. So, we pick a place and head that direction without even making overnight (or two) reservations.

This week we went to Cedar Key, an island on the Gulf side of Florida that was hit by Hurricane Idalia last August. Even ten months after the storm, not everything has been restored. A few restaurants and shops haven't yet reopened. A few rental houses, townhomes and motels sit unrestored,

A couple docks haven't yet been (or maybe will never be?) rebuilt. 

Cedar Key is small and quaint with most of the main street buildings (back and up from the waterfront) built in the 1880s. The best modes of transportation are by foot, bicycle, or electric golf cart which usually comes with a rental.
a wind-surfer

We stayed on the second floor of a two-story townhome on stilts (about 40-feet above sea level), right on the Gulf front - Daughtry Bay - with a wonderful 200-degree view of the ocean and outlying islands. My phone captured this panoramic view, though the picture is an illusion. It seems like the view bowed away,  outward from us. In fact we were "outward" and our panoramic view went over our left and right shoulders.

We watched fishing boats come and go; leaping bottlenose dolphins, and mullets; and enjoyed some great seafood - clam chowder (the area is known for clamming), and the best fish (haddock) and chips I've ever eaten. Not being much of a seafood-lover, that's saying a lot!

Even on a cloudy day, the sunset was lovely. 

Before our get-away, some of the sewing I accomplished was to begin making blocks for Amy Friend's (duringquiettimeBibliography quilt, a pattern of 12" blocks made with selvedges surrounded by a foundation paper-pieced frame. 

Painter's Palette French Blue is my background fabric of choice. I'm six blocks in now, and plan to make 42 blocks. I surely have enough selvedges to accomplish that... and then some!

I also finished chicken scratch - hand-embroidery stitched on checked fabric - on the linen bodice and sleeves of the "Irina" dress I'm sewing along with Bernina. The Irina dress pattern was free during the month of May. We're on week four of the sew along (I've just sewn pockets to the skirt) and expect to finish in a total of eight weeks, by July 22.

I'm still reading the print book Ringling: The Florida Years, 1911-1936, and am about half-way through. John Ringling's character, as a circus man (Ringling Bros. Circus) and business man (oil, ranching, property development) and the mark he made on Florida (Sarasota in particular) is most interesting. Did you know he was born in McGregor, Iowa?

I also listened to two more audiobooks.

Book Recommendations
The Cutting Season
by Attica Locke takes place in present day Louisiana at a plantation, Belle Vie. It's surely a made-up place, but descriptively almost matches Oak Alley Plantation where our daughter was married - right there in front of the house, on the brick path under the canopy of trees.

Even the book cover picture looks like Oak Alley.

Caren is a single mother, living at Belle Vie where generations of her family slaved and worked. Now she's managing the place and is responsible for making it a profitable venue as an educational site for school children, and a beautiful location for conferences and weddings serving delicious Southern food.

A woman's body is found along Belle Vie's fence line that abuts a sugar cane farm. Questions are asked. Where was each Belle Vie staff person at the time of the woman's death? A local detective is particularly interested in the whereabouts of each actor who performs a drama depicting Civil War era life on the plantation. When Caren's former partner shows up, ready to allay concerns about their daughter's strange response to blood found on her school uniform, he, now a lawyer, becomes embroiled in the situation. 

For several reasons, Caren suspects the killer is a young man she knows, but she's determine to think the best of him, and find out what really happened. The more she uncovers, the more she realizes that stories she's been told about her ancestors have not been truthfully revealed.  Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

Twist of Fate
 by D.L Mark is a story that's a little bit demonic, a little bit overzealous religion, and a little bit drug-induced hallucinations. 

Claudine is a self-made, successful communications expert living in London, removed from the odd, psychotic lifestyle of her highly intelligent brother, Jethro. Our of the blue, Jethro comes to Claudine's place of work, urgently talking and making no sense to Claudine. When Jethro is attacked by a madman, right in front of Claudine, she forces herself to return to their home in the marshes to search Jethro's effects, and try to make sense of what she witnessed. 

What she finds appalls her. Yet meeting Jethro's care-giver, Peg, somewhat assuages Claudine's guilt, and makes her feel vulnerable too. Stories arise about Jethro's activities, and how his fervent beliefs about God and the "disciples" he influenced, triggered actions that were anything but "Godly."

This book was far-fetched enough that it wasn't enjoyable. One of the characters wanted everyone to understand that belief in Jesus was intentionally induced by feeding particular hallucinogenic herbs/drugs to congregants in the early church. Sheesh. Linda's score: 3.7/5.0

One more interesting bit about our townhouse at Cedar Key... 

Seeing this on the dining table made me exclaim, "Kantha!" when I walked in the door. But then I flipped it over to realize the stitching doesn't go through the piece. So is this a manufactured table runner? Or a piece of Kantha that, after the fact, was sewn into a table runner? The hand stitching sure looked genuine. 


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