Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Away and Back, Again

We're back home from another four day trip, and are settling back into a routine of "just us." 

Having seen an episode of Aerial America featuring Georgia  we decided to return Tay to a Montgomery, Alabama meet-up with his mother by way of Georgia's Providence Canyon State Park, also called the "little Grand Canyon." The site is a geological formation that started in the 1800s when farmers cleared and planted in this area without regard to soil management. Now, aided by rainfall, the area continues to erode at the rate of up to five feet a year. 

Different minerals in the canyon walls create a range of interesting colors. It was a nice change-of-pace to hike the trail to the bottom, squelch through the water trickling through the area, and check out several of the numerous canyons. 

While in Montgomery, we visited the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art. It's a beautiful facility on 175 acres of the Blount Cultural Park. I appreciated being able to see this portrait by John Singer Sergeant, one of 41 pieces (only this one was on display) in the museum's collection. 

After spending ten days as a threesome, saying good-bye to Tay wasn't easy. We enjoyed his visit very much! We miss him, and hope he made some good, long-lasting memories. 

Traveling by car is really challenging these days. Traffic is more congested than ever, with the Interstate being the last place we wanted be. Roadways are full of post-pandemic vacationers, and I'd estimate that 30 percent (or more) of vehicles are semi's. The odds of encountering an accident are higher than ever.

When driving to Kansas City earlier this month, we'd made reservations at a Paducah, Kentucky motel, and anticipated arriving in Paducah a half hour before Hancock's of Paducah closed. Yep, I thought I'd do a quick, 30-minute run-through of the quilt store! Twenty minutes from our exit, we came to a standstill on I-24. For more than an hour. Needless to say, shopping at Hancock's didn't happen. Motels are also full. Every one we stayed in was at capacity. I highly recommend booking ahead if you intend to travel. 

Getting away for a change of scenery and focus has proved restorative. My previously stalled sewing room activities have been reinvigorated. My enthusiasm for creating and making has been restored - a happy surprise!

Since being at home, I have:

1) gone as far as I can on my braided rag rug which is now 34" X 40". A thrift store visit is needed for more orange clothing or home dec items; 

2) begun to machine appliqué Applipop circles onto my Curve Around Challenge quilt. I'm using 100-weight Invisifil thread and my Bernina 20C appliqué foot to zig-zag stitch around circles; and,

3) cut, pieced, and basted a Quick Curve Ruler Mini Runner. In August, I'll be teaching a Quick Curve Ruler workshop to Kingsland (Georgia) Quilt Guild, and Jacksonville MQG. Students have the option of making this runner using the mini QCR, or Urban Abacus using the full-sized QCR. I've made my runner with Painter's Palette solids, and a Grunge background. Batting is Quilter's Dream Green (recycled), which gives the background a greenish hue.

I'm excited to quilt because... well, it's been ages since I've done any FMQ. I've missed it! 

Book Recommendation
The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner is about Sophie, a young Irish immigrant living in New York City who answers an advertisement to become and wife to Martin, and mother to five year-old Kat, who live in San Francisco. Sophie is settling into her new life in a nice home, feeling well-fed and wearing new clothes, and warming to Kat, when an unknown woman, Belinda, comes to her door to make inquiries about Sophie's husband. Sophie's realizes that her uneasy concerns about Martin have been justified, so she prepares to leave. Just then, San Francisco is rocked by earthquakes and the city is on fire. When Belinda goes into premature labor, they're forced to flee for help, and everyone's intentions change. 

In the face of the unknown, fear, and possible exposure to law enforcement, Sophie, Kat, and Belinda find strength in one another - a family united by love. 
Linda's score: 4.4/5.0

Having a manicure and/or pedicure are treats I normally don't indulge in, unless I have a special friend visiting, (Patty P., you know it's you!) and we go together. But before my high school reunion, I indulged in both. What I realize is that I feel more confident with groomed toes and fingers. I had both redone yesterday.

These are "dipped" nails, a type of nail creation I was unfamiliar with. I've found they're very strong and durable! In fact, except for my left index fingernail which is fake because it completely tore off, these are my nails! I'm definitely sold on this luxury.

How do you indulge yourself?

As of July 1, Google Blogger is discontinuing its Feedburner email auto-delivery of blog posts. This will affect all of the blogs you follow by email - mine, or anyone else's!

If you previously registered to receive email notifications of my posts, and would like to register to receive email notification of my blog posts, you'll need to re-register. Complete the Follow It form I have installed on my home page - upper right-hand menu. 

Thank you - every one of you! - who have registered to receive my posts by email! Linda

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

June Travels

On Wednesday, June 9, we drove to Kansas City, and returned home Wednesday, June 16. 

In Kansas City I got to see my dad for the first time since visiting last October. This time I actually hugged him - more than once! -  and on two different occasions, sat in his living room for a good chat. It was so great to see him!

From Kansas City, we went to Iowa for four days, our first extended visit since moving to Florida nine years ago today! While in the West Des Moines area, I had the opportunity to meet with Hope Quilters and see how that group has grown - and what a huge stash they have! - to become an extremely giving organization.

Hope Quilters began in about 2010, when I first taught a series of beginner quiltmaking lessons to a group of women at Lutheran Church of Hope. This is also when I wrote my book, First Time Quiltmakingbased on the many beginner quiltmaking lessons I taught in area churches. The first blog post for Hope Quilters was written by me back on February 24, 2012.  As they say, "The rest is history." So, it was a real treat to be with them again.

I also got to worship in person at my beloved church, attending the traditional service at 8 am Sunday morning. What a joy to be in that spirit-filled place again!

On June 11-12, hubs accompanied me to my high school reunion in Newton, Iowa. Our class has held a reunion every five years, so this was the tenth time we've gotten together. I attended eight of those ten times.

Hubs took a blurry picture of classmates being photographed for a formal group shot. But, you get the idea that of my class of about 380 students, 73 of whom have passed away, the turnout of 151 classmates was great!

When we drove back home, we brought our 11 year-old grandson, Tay, with us. Though the car ride was long and tedious, he was a good trooper.
playing putt-putt

At the moment, his preferring method of travel is by golf cart! Daily swims at the pool are a must...

... unless it's to go to the ocean, which we did for two days. He was absolutely thrilled to play in the Atlantic Ocean at New Smyrna Beach, and had a grin on his face the entire time we spent being knocked around by the rough waves. I can attest to the grin and the rough waves, because I was with him 100 percent of the time. I have the bashing and spotty sunburn to show for it!

Tay also proved his love for oysters by eating an appetizer's worth of them. 

We're spoiling him rotten while we can! Trix, Grape Crush, pudding parfaits, and key lemon pie are favs.

Needless to say, I haven't accomplished much. Stitched just a few of these English paper-pieced Prudence blocks while in the car.

While the fellas watch soccer or wrestling on TV, I did some more braiding on my rug. In Kansas City I raided our daughter's clothing donation pile, and found the perfect, orange-colored long-sleeved knit top to strip-cut. My rug is about 34" X 37", near to being finished.

Happy News!
In May I chose two of my quilts to submit for the MQG's Modern Quilt Exhibit at the International Quilt Festival (IQF) in Houston this coming October 28-31. Each year the MQG allows its members to submit two quilts (at no charge) for exhibit consideration. If a quilt is accepted, it's automatically entered also into QuiltCon the following February. 

I didn't anticipate the email that arrived last Thursday, letting me know that a quilt of mine was accepted! "Illusions of Victor," the quilt I made in April 2020, for the Central Florida MQG Mid-Century Modern Artist Challenge, will be displayed at IQF in October, and at QuiltCon 2022 in Phoenix! 
"Illusions of Victor," 48" X 65½"

I've been beside myself with excitement! This means SO much to me, having attempted two previous times to have a quilt juried into the MQG's special exhibit in Houston. 

My only regret about making this quilt is the backing I chose. Because we were in the midst of pandemic quarantine, I made do with whatever large chunks of fabric I could pull from my stash. The back does nothing to enhance the quilt.

If I could figure out how to cover it up, or do it over again, I would! But at this point, it's part of the quilt's story. "Illusions of Victor" won't be winning any prizes, but I'm honored that it will be displayed among the quilts of other, much more renown modern quilt makers: Michelle Wilke; Steph Skardal; Katherine Upitis; Karen K. Ray; Sarah Lefebvre; and Patty Dudek... to name a few. Our new Central Florida MQG media coordinator, Rosemary, wrote a nice blog post about it

I'm also excited to begin teaching again, in person, and have begun scheduling guild workshops. I have three solid bookings, so far, through 2021. See my Programs and Workshops tab at the top of this blog homepage. 

Book Recommendation 
The Four Winds
 by Kristin Hannah is the author's latest release. (Remember her other great titles? The Nighingale and The Great Alone.) Interestingly, she finished writing the book during the pandemic.

The story, ironically, is all about hardship due to the Dust Bowl, in the early 1930s. The story follows Elsa a well-to-do young woman who ends up in a shotgun wedding, and learning the life of a hard-working Texas farm family. When drought and dust storms threaten her life and those of her children, she makes the difficult decision to go west to find something better way. Yet even in California, she suffers ill-treatment as just another of thousands of migrant workers who have fled the Great Plains. Elsa's story is sad - a long-suffering woman who endures her husband's desertion, and her teenage daughter's aloofness and rebellion. Though this story is depressing because Elsa's life is so full of hardship, there's always hope for the next generation.

At the conclusion of the book, it was helpful to listen to an interview with the author and narrator, Julia Whelan. Ms. Hannah's process for researching and writing a novel, giving voice to her characters, and then bidding them farewell is enlightening. And it was fascinating to learn how Ms. Whelan researches and prepares to give voice to and act each character. I have a huge respect for what a skilled narrator can do for a book!

Linda's score: 4.6/5.0

Today marks the ninth anniversary of our move-in to this house in Central Florida. On June 21, 2012 we moved in just as Tropical Storm Debby started. I can't believe how quickly the years have flown by, even with a tediously long year of Coronavirus. We're very content in this house with no itch to change anything, or relocate. The weather suits both of us, and though the distance from family has not always been easy, the wonderful visits we've had - back and forth - help ease that gap. God is good! Linda

Monday, June 14, 2021

Dabbling at Many Things

Summer quiltmaking means a season of touch and go projects. There's at-home sewing time at a sewing machine, and on-the-go handwork. 

At home, I'm going through scraps - pieces too small for a Scrap Snap Quilt - to sew pairs and quads. 

They will eventually become another Scrap Vortex Quilt, a free design by Amanda Jean Nyberg that's still available on her CrazyMomQuilts blog. This is how far I've gotten... and have a long way to go.

In 2015 I made a 88" X 92" Scrap Vortex quilt that's now on our guest room bed. Making another Scrap Vortex is a good way to empty scrap bins again. 

When on the go, I'm hand-appliquéing. For the first time, I'm using 80-weight Aurifil thread, and it's wonderful! 

It's so fine, yet strong, and color 5021 is proving its "hide-ability" with each of the solid colors I'm appliquéing. These are blocks for the Central Florida MQG Chip and Charm Challenge. 

So far, I've appliquéd 63 five-inch squares.

When I bought the spool of 80-weight Aurifil from The Craft Table, a shop owned by my friend René, I also bought a variety pack of Applipops. They're steel rings that can be nested together and pressed to make turned-under edged circles for appliqué. 

I've used a couple sizes of Applipops to make little circles for this project that's on my design wall. I don't know yet where it's going, but I'm having fun using the 100 fat quarters of Superior Solids I won from Benartex in March!

The project is for the South Florida MQG Curve Around Challenge due in November. I'm the chapter's challenge chair.

I've also been using my serger and my new favorite Morrison Top and Dress pattern by Blue Dot Patterns to make several tops. I like the style because of the cap sleeves and front pleats that help hide my "fluff." This orange print is a Kaufman knit from Fabric.com. Bring on summer!

Lastly, after looking closely at the quilt from Grandma's house that my cousin kept (see it in this post), I replicated the block after finding it in the third edition of Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Blocks. It's a version of the "Radio Windmill" block and is called "Arabic Lattice." Grandma's old quilt is pieced with half of the blocks like this, and half of the blocks in a mirror image. 

Did you notice how I wrote the block name in the picture? I found an old Scrabble game at our grandparent's farmhouse and snagged the alphabet tiles for photo play.  

Book Recommendation
Be Frank With Me is Julia Claiborne Johnson's first novel. It was a delightful listen centered on a young boy - Frank - who's "unusual," to say the least. He's extremely intelligent, can spew facts like an encyclopedia, and his interactive skills are nearly non-existent. (Think Dr. Shaun Murphy in the TV series "The Good Doctor.)

When Frank's mom, a one-hit wonder novelist who desperately needs money, must knuckle down to write another book, her publisher sends his assistant, Alice, to Bel Air, California, to attend to Frank, chauffeur, cook and clean. What Alice's quickly learns is that she must learn to deal with difficult people, and that secrets are being kept that she wants to know.

Linda's score: 4.4/5.0

I hope your summer is starting with lots of good things, especially being able to spend long-awaited time with loved ones. Linda

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Visiting Old Florida

My maternal grandparents were hard-working Ohio farmers. It was rare that they ever traveled more than a few miles from home. However, in 1959 my parents convinced them to leave the farm and animals in the care of two of their children, and travel by car with my parents to Florida. 

When I came across a cardboard box of Florida memorabilia in our grandparents home, I claimed it, brought it home with me, and have been marveling at what my parents and grandparents did and saw. Many of the places are not far from where I live now!

They drove to and from Florida mostly along highway 301. There was no Interstate 75 cutting north-south through the state. After finding a small bar of soap from a motel in Gainesville, Georgia, I could see that their route to Florida avoided Atlanta, like we try to do when we're traveling!

Of course, there was the standard must-keeps - a bag of moss, seashells, and a bottle of Orange Blossom perfume that cost 75¢. The moss and seashells have been tossed.

Brochures reveal that they visited Silver Springs in Ocala; Cypress Gardens (current home of Legoland);  attended a Passion Play and heard the Singing Tower - Bok Tower (where we celebrated my birthday in March!) in Lake Wales; and the Seaquarium in Miami.  

I'm really curious about this place in Ocala: "Uranium Valley and Caves." 

Ticket stubs are from Silver Springs, and Ross Allen's Reptile Institute. Who wouldn't want to see 'gators for $1.15? 

In the Silver Springs souvenir book is a picture of swimming in Silver Springs, in 72℉ water. This doesn't exist anymore.

A little 15¢ box of photos was interesting. 

Black and white pictures are of Silver Springs (that famous arched palm) and a Stuckey's in Belleview. 

My uncle traveled to Florida before my grandparents did, so it's possible he visited Bok Tower earlier, in 1956. 

He would have been there, to hear the bells, on my birthday. 

Forty-five color postcards show the tourist attractions and sites of Florida in the mid-1950s.

These four postcards were jumbo-sized, so they must have been favorite places. 
Top L-R: Cypress Gardens, and Bok Tower
Botton L-R: Miami, and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the Keys.

This alligator is a nut cracker.

And someone liked Cracker Jacks. 😁 

This is the only picture I have of them in Florida. L-R: my Mother, Grampa and Grandma. Looks like they're at Cypress Gardens. My dad took the picture.

It's nice to have these things (and more that I didn't share) that give me pause to think about how times have changed... and not changed. Generations of people vacation in Florida, and knowing that my ancestors did, makes me feel good.

Book Recommendation
Another great listen! This title was recommended by a line dancing buddy, Judy. 

Raft of Stars by Andrew J. Graff is a charming tale that came, for me, at just the right time because it made me recall times spent with my grandparents.

"Fish" (Fischer) spends time with his grampa in this story about Fish and "Bread" (Dale Breadwin) who are two young boys growing up together in Wisconsin. Bread's dad is abusive, so when Fish sees him beating on Bread, Fish shoots and the boys run. Two fatherless boys take off cross-country, encounter the wilds and its perils. Chasing the boys are four adults: Fish's grampa; Fish's mom; Sheriff Cal; and Tiffany who works at the local gas station. But more danger awaits the boys than any of them realize. 

I found this story captivating with nice visual imagery of wildlife, forests, marsh, meadows, river, and stars.  Linda's score: 4.4/5.0


Friday, June 4, 2021

Goodbye to an Era

After having been away for more than 30 years, it was an emotional experience to be at my Ohio grandparent's farm again, where many of my best childhood memories were made.

Nine of us grandchildren, along with spouses, and several great-grandchildren, gathered at the farm over Memorial Day weekend to finish cleaning out the house. During two previous visits in 2019, cousins began the laborious task of sorting through and purging decades of accumulation.

Grandma and Grampa raised five children at the end of this quarter-mile-long lane. My mother, who passed away 19 years ago, grew up here, the youngest of five children.

Since I'm the oldest of nine grandchildren, and lived in Ohio until I was 14 years old, I have good memories of several summer weeks spent with Grandma and Grampa who passed away in 1990 and 1975 respectively.

While sorting through the detritus of 150 years of family keepsakes (including books and Bibles written in German from the mid-1800s), we came across a scrapbook with pictures of the house being build in the fall of 1946. It was beautiful!

Until a few years ago, a bachelor uncle lived here, until the age of 93. The property was neglected for many years. My grandmother was known for her beautiful gardens - flowers, vegetables, grapevines, and fruit trees. The structure attached to the right side of the house was her greenhouse that was added later. Grandma's iris that were found blooming were dug up to be relocated near family.

As a kid, I remember running up the concrete walkway to this side door into the house. It makes me sad to know the house will be razed.

Though it may not look like it in this picture, the barn, which was built in 1948, is still in good condition.

It was constructed with sturdy lumber and hand-hewn timbers.

Now it's being dismantled to reuse in other structures.

I watched Grandma hand-milk dairy cows in this space.

This was Grandma's chicken coop... where I wasn't allowed to go because I might unsettle the chickens so they wouldn't lay! A neighbor stopped by and shared that she remembered Grandma, and paid $1 for three dozen eggs.

Two finished quilts were found in the house... and tossed on the burn pile! But wait. They were not burned. Because this one has holes, it was used to protect a piece of furniture removed from the house and put in a trailer to be relocated. According to the third edition of Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Blocks, this is Monkey Wrench (Ohio Farmer 1898 - seems appropriate!)

I convinced my cousin to take this one. Those indigo colors are lovely, and the design is very interesting - four patches set in a diagonal block. According to the third edition of Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Blocks, it's a version of the "Radio Windmill" block called "Arabic Lattice" (Kansas City Star 1941). Both quilts are tied.

She has already washed it and sent me a picture taken after soaking and rinsing it three times! She said, "It was brown with dirt!" 

So, what about those 44 items I made from Grandma's vintage scraps? See previous blog post. My siblings, spouses, cousins, and cousins once-removed took them all. They couldn't have made me any happier. 

I also gave away two quilts. This "Plaid-ish" quilt, made from my scraps, is for the cousin who has been dealing with legal matters over the past two years. We are very grateful for everything he's done.

Another of my quilts was given to this sweet one month-old from my dad's side of the family. She's technically my first cousin twice-removed... a little doll.

I didn't bring too many things home with me from the farm because storage space is at a premium. Thankfully, a shirttail relative is taking Grandma's Singer treadle machine.

But I brought home whatever fabric items remained - several pieces of old clothing (like children's embroidered rompers) and embroidery - that were in a very old trunk. All those things are being sent to a Texas friend who will appreciate and use them.

Among the fabric items were 91 embroidery blocks, 9" X 9". Some had been embroidered - mostly redwork - and some had not. 

This clothesline peg apron design tickled me. Check out the bright aqua color of those peg people!

I kept these few things. Nothing is valuable; only sentimental.   

Living in nine different states, us nine cousins will likely not meet again. So, I've said goodbye to family, the farm, and an era my family will not experience again. Linda


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