Tuesday, August 30, 2022

August Get-Away

Ya'll know that last Friday was our 50th wedding anniversary. We decided to take off last Wednesday morning with no destination in mind other than we wanted to be on a beach. Before going we did an Internet search for beachside condos and hotels, but didn't have a destination city locked-in. Turns out that such spontaneity can be fun and cost-effective!

Stopping at several places to check rates, we chose to stay at Bellwether Resort on St. Pete's Beach (Florida). Turns out that walk-ins get a better price than those making an on-line reservation! We figured our four night stay was half what we would have paid with reservations. Also, the beach was quiet. 

We got a balcony room, beachside - on the Gulf of Mexico - and saw a range of skies and sea colors.

Saturday morning the sky was filled with a full rainbow, and a partial double rainbow. This picture doesn't begin to capture what it really looked like. 

I didn't filter or edit this camera photo of a glorious sunset.

Another treat was visiting the Chihuly Museum in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. 

Dale Chihuly's glasswork is simply amazing. If you ever get a chance to see an exhibit, I highly recommend going. 

Like viewing quilts, it's the colors and designs that had me in awe.

It's difficult to sense the scale of this piece, but imagine... it's about 14 feet from top to bottom. 

Each of these bowl-shaped blossoms was two to three feet across. Remarkable!

One long hallway had this installation on the ceiling. 

This "Fiore" exhibit had a room to itself. 

We spent nearly as much time wondering how in the world the glass was moved - intact - from the glass-blowing facility in Seattle, Washington, to St. Petersburg, as we did trying to figure out how the whole structure was constructed!

We had a lovely time away - easy-going and relaxing. Champagne on our 50th anniversary was courtesy of the Bellwether concierge. Dinner was a walk down the street to Crabby Bill's... a far cry from the A&W Root Beer drive-in we stopped at after our wedding, as we were driving to the Black Hills, South Dakota! We ate chili dogs on August 26, 1972. 😀

During this time away, nary a book was read, nor a stitch taken. But now it's back to business fun, as usual. Just the way we like it. Linda

Friday, August 26, 2022

50 Years

Fifty years ago today, on a Saturday at 2 pm, we were wed at Trinity Lutheran Church in Mason City. Iowa.

Today we're remembering how we met - on August 28, 1971 in a Hy-Vee grocery store parking lot - and our whirlwind courtship, Three months later we were engaged!

Though I've completely lost touch with two of the bridesmaids (my sister was the third), we're enjoying reminiscing about where we've been and what we've shared - the places we've lived (especially being in Iowa for more than 30 years), two children we raised, our five dear grandchildren, and retirement in Florida.

How about that ball of flowers?! And check out the ruffle on the cuff of his shirt. Weren't those the days? My talented mother made my wedding gown and veil. 

In the Sewing Room
With my Kantha quilt finished (see my last blog post) I almost feel like I have oodles of time on my hands!

Since giving a Kawandi-making demonstration (six times, as members rotated through a series of demo tables) at our August Central Florida MQG meeting, it's been nice to now return to work toward completing the Kawandi I started. This is another one I'm making with Grandma's vintage scraps.

Batting is a piece of Quilter's Dream Request, and thread is Aurifil color 2021, #12-weight. 

I've kept up with the #30daysofimprov being led by @shannonfraserdesigns and @broadclothstudio. I think you can see which shapes I prefer by the quantity of each!

Stripes, Polygons, Triangles, and Curves
Making these was actually easy. But (uh-oh!) here comes the part where I most often botch it... putting everything together! Too often I end up with something that looks like mush rather than a cohesive layout. I still don't know how to do create a beautiful improv layout, so I'm not optimistic that these units will become a pretty quilt.

Speaking of mush... for those of you who may be interested, that's what my (92 year-old) Dad's been saying about his mind and thinking since having COVID - "brain mush" and "brain fog" aren't unusual with COVID, right? We all know someone who's gone through it. 

For six days Dad was hospitalized and given Remdesivir. Now he's been moved to a skilled nursing facility where he continues to get Remdesivir and an Albuterol inhaler for shortness of breath and coughing. His physical capabilities are also being assessed. He can be unbalanced, and we're fearful that he'll fall again. I'm praying he doesn't have to stay in the facility too long though. We've all glad to recently learn that the facility where he's been living independently has an opening in assisted living. When he's released he can move into an area where we can be assured he'll receive continual care. 

Randomly, I've continued to work on improv log cabin blocks with skinny insert strips. I made about 20 blocks in all-neutrals, with only one wee insert of the black and white print insertion. When I realized the stripe insertions made the blocks look like inch worms were crawling across them (go ahead, it's okay to tell me they look like inch worms)...

I consulted with my friend, Rosemary who suggested adding skinny inserts of solid colors. So that's what I'm doing... taking apart the blocks I've already pieced to add color. 

Book Recommendations

I read (listened to) The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen at the suggestion of my friend, Karen. (She's the one to blame thank, for me writing these hundreds of book reviews!) Karen also knows my tastes!

As this is the second book I've read by this talented writing team (I also recommend You Are Not Alone), I've come to know that Hendricks-Pekkanen books are good.

Avery is a therapist who's lost her license, but now feels free to offer counseling according to her unique methods that include more than a little sleuthing and advice-giving. When married couple Marissa and Matthew Bishop visit for their first consultation, and Marissa admits to one night of infidelity, Matthew's anger is apparent. Yet Avery is sure she can help them restore trust for one another. As their ten-sessions of counseling continue, Avery comes to realize that neither of them are telling the truth. There's more going on. A little investigative work into Marissa's health club, her shop employee, and another mom at the Bishop's son's school, and the mysterious delivery of roses and messages raises questions about who is really interested in Marissa. 

Linda's score: 4.1/5.0

Karen also recommended a title by Sandie Jone, but I had to put my name on a waiting list for it. So I looked for another title by Sandie Jones, and checked out The Other Woman.

Emily thought she was in love with Tom, but when she found her best friend and Tom in a compromising position, she didn't think she'd find love again. Now she's met Adam. He might be the man of her dreams. However, he's reticent about his family, but as she presses him to meet them, he finally acquiesces. Emily meets his mother, Pammie, and his brother. First impressions are excellent, but then Pammie begins saying things to Emily at odds with how everyone else perceives Pammie. She's a "b*&^%!" says Emily. When Emily finds evidence that Pammie may have had something to do with the death of Adam's first love, and that Pammie is faking an illness to prevent the marriage of Adam and Emily, Emily wants to confront her. But she also fears for her life.

Linda's score: 4.1/5.0

I'm still very much enjoying the "Ruth Galloway" series of books by Elly Griffiths. Except for the first one, all of them have been E-books with The Outcast Dead even a little better than usual.

In this book number six in the series, Ruth is involved in the unearthing of a Victorian-era childminder's (we'd call her a nanny) bones that remind everyone of the tale of "Mother Hook," the child-minder with a hook for an arm, and a murderer of children in her care. When a television series comes to Norfolk to record an episode about Mother Hook, Ruth is filmed as the forensic archeologist expert. As this is happening, Norfolk erupts. There's a child abduction, and this abductor is called themselves a child minder. DCI Nelson and Ruth are involved because the child who's taken belongs to a co-work/friend.
Linda's score: 3.9/5.0


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Kantha Sew Along Finish!

In the middle of May, I began hand-stitching a Kantha quilt when I joined the 2022 Alison Glass Stitch Club Kantha Sew Along. I finished it Saturday, August 20. 

In my four decades (plus) of quiltmaking, I've never spent more time hand-stitching any quilt than I have this 54" X 75" Kantha. Even hubs, who usually doesn't pay attention to what I'm working on, recently remarked, "Isn't that thing dead yet?!" 

Last week I knotted all the thread ends and clipped off the tails. 

Then I finished each side of the quilt by turning in the sides and securing them with a hand overcast stitch.

I'm sure I spent an inordinate amount of time stitching not only because I'm slow, but I quilted rows more densely together than necessary. Rows are about ¼" to ⅜" apart.

Though Kantha is usually made with a single front layer of fabric and a single back layer (no batting), a pre-washed layer of flannel is in between the front and back of mine. That's because prints on the front were shadowing through the yellow fabric on the back. The flannel didn't make it any more difficult to stitch. 

Fabric on the back is mostly this yellow Paintbrush Studios prairie cloth...

...but I also pieced in this busy Sally Kelly print. 

When viewed outdoors in the natural light, the texture can't be missed! 

I chose hand-embroidered words for the back that are from the Bible:  A glad heart makes a happy face; (...a broken heart crushes the spirit). Proverbs 15:13 

"glad heart. happy face."

Even though I can't reach the lower branches of our Bismarck palm for quilt-hanging and photos,  it's nice to still see it above my quilt stand. 

Stitch Club Kantha Quilt, 54" X 75"

Since this quilt took so long to make, I did some number-crunching when I finished it. I hand stitched:
  • 194 passes along the 75" length of the quilt (not counting the edge finish)
  • an average of 145 stitches in each pass
  • making a total of approximately 30,066 stitches
I emptied these balls and a spool of #8 Eleganza perle cotton, and several #8 Prescensia Vinca.

Total quantity of thread used to make a 54" X 75" Kantha quilt:
  • 15,268" that's equal to 
  • 424 yards that's equal to 
  • .241 miles of perle cotton (.388K) 
Wonderfil and Prescensia companies must certainly love me! I'm happy to call it done, and relieved to be finished before the August 31 deadline. Linda

Thursday, August 18, 2022

No Sewing

Well that was a nerve-wracking experience! Though the QuiltCon registration process is more fair than in previous years, it wasn't any less challenging. 

When QuiltCon registrations opened at 10 am Tuesday morning, I was waiting  - had set my cell phone alarm - and I clicked to enter the QuiltCon website. I was immediately in a waiting room... 1129th in line. Good grief!

Below is a screen shot, one minute later when I was 1062nd in line. The green bar across the bottom with the profile of a person walking, indicated my forward progress.

It took until nearly 10:25 am for my turn to come up. 

While I appreciate that this new process allows more fair distribution of chances for getting the workshop(s) desired, as well as chances for being selected to receive a swag bag, I learned from an MQG comment on Instagram that 3000 people were in the waiting room before 10 am, and that everyone's place in line was then "randomized." 

I'm not complaining though. I got my first choice workshop: "Reimagine the Classic Tied Quilt" with Laura Loewen; and my second choice: "Jogakbo with Ssamsol Technique" with Youngmin Lee (though not in the daytime workshop I preferred). I did not get into my third choice: Cassandra Beaver's "Matchstick Quilting" workshop which I was also unable to get into at QuiltCon 2022, even though I was also on the waiting list. Happily, I've learned that Central Florida MQG has contracted Cassandra to virtually teach matchstick quilting in June 2023. I'm sure pleased about that!

For me, registering for QuiltCon also means six lectures. But as there's no reservation limit on those, I will probably return to the QuiltCon site to register for a couple more lectures. I'm looking forward to going to Atlanta next February, and reconnecting with friends I get to see only at QuiltCon. Will I see you there?

Book Recommendations
You can probably guess that I'm still hand stitching my Kantha quilt because I have two more audiobooks under my belt.

Violeta by Isabel Allende is a saga-type book that's typical of this author. If you haven't read any of her books, I recommend her - I've read Zorro and Ripper. Ms. Allende is a Chilean whose books are translated from Spanish to English.

Violeta was born into a pandemic world during the height of the 1920 Spanish influenza. She was born into a household of privilege, the only daughter with six male siblings. Raised indulgently and spoiled, she had fits of temper and exhibited frequent fake illness until an English nanny came into the family to challenge Violeta, and teach her proper behavior.

When the family's fortune fails, they retreat to a rural environment where no one knows them. So begins Violeta's true life experiences and education based on hard-work and important values. She learns about politics, dictatorship, oppression, and women's rights, and discovers love and true love.  

Violeta's story is told to a grandchild in a way that reflects her experiences as well as her values.... all the way through to 2020 and the COVID pandemic. 

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

Before She Was Found is another Heather Gudenkauf title. She's the Iowa author whose crime stories I enjoy because they take place in Iowa. 

This time, the small Iowa town is called Pitch, and it's not far from the new Children's Hospital in Iowa City.

Three 12 year-old sixth-graders, Cora, Violet, and Jordyn have a school assignment to work on together. The girls don't always get along, but agree to create a presentation about Jonathan Withers, a teenager who, 80 years ago, supposedly killed a teenage girl - well, she disappeared. When Cora finds Jonathan in a "dark" online chat room, she thinks it's possible that Jonathan is still alive. The girls arrange to meet Jonathan in an abandoned railroad yard, but it doesn't happen as it's meant to. Cora is attacked and suffers knife wounds to her abdomen and face.

The girls are each covering-up what happened, and it will take each girl's parents and a grandfather to work out what really occurred.

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

Blogger Change
If you comment on this blog post, you'll notice that I've switched Blogger comments from an embedded comment form to a pop-up comment form. I know the pop-up is frustrating because you have to choose parts of a picture to "prove you're not a robot."

But I've also learned (through Google Blogger Forum) that there's been a recent rash of "anonymous" comments. These anonymous people are commenters I know who have regularly commented! Sigh. It's another step Google has taken toward making blogging more difficult.

Anyway, the workaround, to prevent anonymous comments, is to switch from embedded comments to pop-up comments. It's working for at least one of my regular blog commenter/friends (Yay, Susan!) so I'm keeping this new setting for a while. 

The lesson in this is this: If you're someone who's suddenly become "anonymous" when you comment, or you're a blog-poster who has been getting more-than-usual anonymous comments, when blog settings are changed to pop-up comments, it makes a difference! 

My quilty activities have been practically nil this week as I've been helping, long distance, monitor care of my dear 92 year-old dad who was diagnosed with COVID on Monday. He's been in isolation, in a Kansas City hospital room, so us three children (I'm the oldest) are doing our best to keep tabs on how he's doing (I'm talking to him at least twice a day) and what type of care he'll need when he's released (anticipated) on Sunday. Though he went into the hospital with an oxygen count in the 70s, and was told he had COVID pneumonia, he's improving! Remdisivir helps. We're all feeling relieved, and very grateful he's doing okay. Linda

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Middlin' Through August

Last week we were away for a few days, visiting our friend who lives on New Smyrna Beach (Atlantic Ocean). It's always lovely to see her, and get a fresh perspective on life in Florida. This is a morning view from her tenth floor condo.

An outdoor lunch at the Outrigger (restaurant) was especially nice. 

We couldn't believe our luck at being beachside when another Falcon 9 rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral at 10:14 pm, carrying 52 satellites! I really wished I'd taken my camera along, rather than capture poor, grainy iPhone photos. The rocket was orange. It was remarkable to hear the sound too!

A thank you gift to our hostess, for her always-generous hospitality was my Seaglass quilt #2, finished in May. This is the one made with a linen background. She seemed to love it, and intends to hang it in her condo. 

Machine-piecing time has been very sporadic, so there's not much different happening with my improv log cabin quilt top. 

Starting August 1, I've been participating in "30 Days of Improv QAL" #30daysofimprovqal hosted by @shannonfraserdesigns and @broadclothstudios on Instagram. Though it's suggested that in five days of block-making each block should be about 5" X 5", we're free to do as we wish. I am.

Week 1: Stripes

Week 2: Polygons
I chose to focus on trapezoids. I'm keeping this totally improv and haven't been using any rulers, but my blocks haven't been very wonky. I've spent too many decades rotary cutting precisely using a ruler! The un-wonkiness of my blocks may be something I correct once I start joining blocks together. 

The end is in sight with my Alison Glass Stitch Club Kantha Sew Along! Good thing; it's due August 31. I have 16 more rows (75" long) to stitch. You can see the blank spaces that need to be filled it along the bottom of the dark blue section. 

Yesterday, our Central Florida MQG meeting program was "Demo Day." Six stations were set up to show how to choose colors, appliqué, set up quilt photos, use a particular ruler, improv piece, and make Kawandi. Six times I explained and demonstrated Kawandi using two different in-progress Kawandi. This is one I'm working on using more of my Grandma's vintage scraps. 

I mentioned also that Sujata Shah, who taught me Kawandi in a November 2020 virtual workshop, will be teaching Kawandi at QuiltCon 2023, next February, in Atlanta.

This Tuesday morning at 10 AM (Eastern time) QuiltCon registrations open for MQG members only, A lecture costs $14.40 (last year $12.75) and a half-day workshop is $96 (last year $79.20). Just another  instance of rising costs. Still, I plan to be in line online to get my free admission, a few lectures, and two workshops.

Book Recommendations
It's apparent I need to blog more frequently because my book recommendations are piling up!

http://The first review is of an e-book, a very short story in the "Ruth Galloway series" by Elly Griffiths. Ruth's First Christmas Tree is a charming piece about Ruth needing a Christmas tree because her daughter Kate needs to experience a real Christmas. Ruth buys a tree from a roadside vendor, who absconds with the tree and the money paid for it, so DCI Harry Nelson (Kate's father) and Cathbad make sure Ruth and Kate have a proper tree.

This book - number 4.5 in the series - isn't necessary to the plot of Ruth Galloway stories, but was a nice read. I was able to download it at no charge through Google Books.

Because the story is so short, I'm not counting it in my year-long tally of books read with is 56 as of this blog post. Linda's score: 3.5/5.0

A Dying Fall is also an e-book, written in Elly Griffiths' well-done style.

In this fifth book of the series, Ruth is traveling - with Kate and Cathbad - to Blackpool to follow-up on a letter Ruth received following the death (in a house fire) of an archeology college mate, Dan. In the letter, Dan indicates he's found the burial site of King Arthur. As a forensic archeologist, Ruth is intrigued to visit the site and see the bones. When Ruth discovers the bones have been replace (the upper and lower jaws don't match), Dan's computer and notes are missing, and she receives threatening text messages, she realizes Dan's death may not be accidental. Meanwhile DCI Harry Nelson is on holiday in Blackpool, visiting his mother, and reconnecting with an old friend on the police force. when he Nelson learns about the case, and becomes involved because of Ruth and Kate.  Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

Remarkably Bright Creatures is a delightful book written by Shelby Van Pelt.

Seventy year-old Tova Sullivan is a widow who volunteers as a nighttime cleaner at a local aquarium. She takes pride in her work, making sure every surface is spic and span. She also talks to tanks of sea creatures as she works. One night she discovers the giant Pacific octopus, Marcellus, in the break room, tangled in electrical cords. She frees him and helps him return to his tank. From that experience she develops a unique relationship with him.

The story is also about Tova's girlfriends - they're the Knit-Wits; Ethan who owns the local grocery store; Tova's son Erik who disappeared at the age of 18; and the knowledge Marcellus has about what happened that night. When Cameron comes to town looking for his long-lost father, he meets Ethan and Tova, and things begin to change. 

It took me a bit to get my head around this story because much of it is told by Marcellus, the giant Pacific octopus! It's excellently narrated by Marin Ireland and Michael Urie. Linda's score: 4.4/5.0

Dirt Creek by Haley Scrivenor, takes place in a small town in rural Australia. Esther and Ronnie (Veronica) are 12 year-old best friends who have grown up together. When Esther disappears while walking home from school, Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels is put on the case, asking questions of everyone who knows Esther - her parents, relatives and school mates. When school friend Lewis tells Detective Michaels that he saw Esther walking along the creek with a man Lewis has never seen, more questions are raised than answered. Ronnie is determined to find Esther herself. 

Sophie Loughran beautifully narrates this book - don'tcha just love an Aussie accent? This is Hayley Scrivenor's debut novel. I'll be watching for more from her! 

Linda's score: 4.4/5.0



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