Thursday, September 29, 2022

Looking to the Skies

On Saturday evening at 7:32 pm, I had a chance to go outdoors to watch the latest Starlink rocket after its launch from Cape Canaveral which is about 100 miles (160K) from my house. Even though I've seen several of these before, they don't lose their wonder. 

Looking skyward also had us thinking about Hurricane Ian that bore down on Florida on Wednesday. For more than a week, we've known it was coming. Being more familiar with tornadoes in the Midwest, if given a choice, I'd rather be warned of a tornado. At least you can hurry below-ground, wait 20 minutes to an hour, and come back up to normal life. With a hurricane, it's the knowing and anticipating and wondering - "What path will the hurricane take?" - that drives one mad!

We followed Ian's projected path, first 91 miles to the west of us. Then 54 miles to the west of us. Then directly over us!

At that point, we moved outdoor furniture from the screened-in lanai into the house, put towels in the window frames on the south and east sides of the house to catch rain water that might be blown in, and waited. Rec centers closed at noon Wednesday. Grocery stores closed Wednesday, and are expected to reopen Friday.

Wednesday was spent glued to The Weather Channel, watching as Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, and Sanibel and Captiva Island were pounded by nearly category 5 winds (127 mph). This morning we're learning that possibly 100 people lost their lives. This news and the devastation are unimaginable. 

For me, staying-in meant keeping the TV on, emailing and texting friends who checked in on us, and sewing. 

I'm again working on my improv log cabin quilt. This is the one I'd thought to make and use neutral-colored blocks to fill in the four "points"/corners of the on-point center. But I chucked set-aside those blocks after a FaceTime consultation and brainstorming session with my improv guru-friend, Candi. 

I got the idea to make triangle-shaped log cabin blocks for the four corners of the quilt top. It's certainly going to be challenging to get them to fit together. And it's a terribly messy business cutting-up all the color and values, but I'm making slow progress.

Several days ago I finished machine quilting my #30daysofimprovqal quilt, and am now big stitch hand quilting with Wonderfil Eleganza, size 8 perle cotton. 

I absolutely love the texture the extra stitching is creating! This is so fun to work on. 

I also completed another Kawandi. It's the twelfth one I've made since learning how to make Kawandi in a November 2020 virtual workshop with Sujata Shah @therootconnection. This Kawandi is 14" X 20" and made with scraps in a specific color palette that coordinates with the backing fabric. 

The backing print is a retro kitchen utensils design. I'm thinking I'll eventually sew this into a zipper pouch or bag. 

Book Recommendations
Buried in a Good Book
 is the first book in a new series by Tamara Berry. I understand how it's a set up for future investigations with Tess, the protagonist. While the book is good enough, it's also difficult to score. The story is sort of weird, with some unexpected, inappropriate humor thrown into gory murder investigations. 

Tess is a famous author who has written a series of popular detective novels. She's just inherited her grandfather's rustic cabin in the woods of Canada. With her teenaged daughter, Gertie, Tess arrives at the cabin just as several loud booms disrupt the peace. Someone has been "fishing" in the pond behind the cabin, using explosives. When Tess is asked to identify the man doing it, she uses her sleuthing skills to help the local sheriff identify the arm that also flew out of the pond. The sheriff doesn't appreciate her help, nor her humor, but when Big Foot is sighted, Tess becomes more involved than ever. She befriends the local book mobile librarian, but later suspects the librarian is hiding something behind her innocuous job. 

I think the author is attempting to create an annoyingly adorable protagonist, but hasn't quite pulled it off. Or maybe the narrator is over-acting. In any case, I'm scratching my head, trying to decide whether I liked it or not. If you read it, I'd like to know what you think.

Linda's score: 3.5/5.0

The Dark Angel
 by Elly Griffiths is book #10 in the Ruth Galloway series. The stories are getting better and better! In this one, Ruth is invited to Italy by an archeologist friend, to help identify bones found in an ancient Roman dig. Needing a break from Norwich, mostly due to the death of her mother, Ruth takes six year-old Kate for a two week holiday, along with Ruth's best friend Shona and her little boy. Of course, the bones aren't the only thing Ruth must deal with. After she finds the body of a beloved village priest, she becomes  involved in the case which is most definitely a murder. When Nelson learns that Italy has suffered an earthquake, and he can't reach Ruth, he heads to Italy, leaving Michelle and his daughter Laura exposed to unanticipated danger since the release of a prisoner Nelson helped put behind bars. 

I've begun reading book #11 in this series, though this one means I'm back to e-book reading on my iPhone. 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

Each Sunday I continue to worship virtually with Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, Iowa (my "home" church). I am also in a weekly Wednesday morning virtual Bible study. We're doing Gospel on the Ground with Kristi McLelland.

Hope has started a Book Club too. They're meeting in person, which of course I cannot do, but I noted their reading list for the next three months. I'll look for these titles, and thought you might be interested: 
  • Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  • The Shack by William P. Young
I've read The Shack twice, but gosh it would be nice to be part of a discussion about it.

As of this (Thursday) morning, the worst we've suffered through Hurricane Ian (now downgraded to a tropical storm) has been to listen to the wind blowing against the house making the kitchen and bathroom vents flap, and see a bit of rain water that was blown into the tracks of the sliding glass doors. 

Today is gloomy, spitting rain, with 17 mph winds gusting to 27 mph - a far cry from the Gulf coast winds of 156 mph! 

Our Bismarck palm suffered a broken branch, and we lost many blooms from Allamanda bushes, but as you can see we're fine - blessed.


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Quilting and quilting

Last weekend I put together Tilted Tiles, the quilt blocks I pieced while on retreat. I mentioned that the designer, Charles Cameron @feltlikesweets is brilliant, and I thought this all the way through to finishing the quilt top. 

Though it's difficult to see, this picture is meant to show sections of the quilt. Charles calls them "panels," and instructs that 13 panels of blocks are to be created, then joined. 

His instructions were very clear, and the top came together beautifully. It's 64" X 88" and has been set aside for quilting at a later time. By the way, this "intermediate" semi-improv pattern is free to members of The Modern Quilt Guild. 

Since finishing the quilt top, I've been quilting and quilting. At the moment I have three pin-basted quilts that are demanding my attention. Currently, this #30daysofimprovqal quilt is under the needle of my Bernina 770QE. 

The whole quilting design is improv-y. I began by doing some walking foot quilting, making waves across the quilt top. Then, I honed-in on particular sections to do some straight and curvy ruler quilting, which I then followed-up with free motion quilting. I still can't resist quilting circles. 

This quilt is about 53" X46" (wider than it is high), and I expect to finish quilting in a day or two. 

On the home front, hubs has been cooking, and making some of my favorite foods. Once again, I'm showing you his incredible pizza.  

It's made with a scratch crust (he begins making it early in the morning), and homemade pizza sauce. 

At my request, he made a batch of ham salad. You know, the one made with bulk bologna... 

...that magically becomes "ham" as it's pushed through the grinder. It also contains hard-boiled eggs, sweet gherkins, onion, and mayo with a little bit of seasoning. So-o good!

Book Recommendations

The Keeper of the Light
by Diane Chamberlain is the first in the "Kiss River" series of three books. The Kiss River is near the Outer Banks of North Carolina where an old, beloved lighthouse and keepers house have been since the late 1800s. Dr. Olivia Simon works as an emergency room doctor, and lives with her husband Paul. However, Paul's past involves a local woman, Annie. When Annie dies in the emergency room - Olivia has tried to save her - Paul walks away from his marriage to Olivia. Annie's husband Alec is bereft without his beloved "Saint Ann" who was a renown stained glass artist and the most altruistic woman imaginable. Yet, when Paul's past actions come to light, it also becomes clear that even saints aren't perfect.

While I enjoyed this story, I was also put off by what to me was unnecessary, detailed sexual escapades. Not to be prudish, but in most cases, I couldn't see how these insights were relevant to the overarching story. Hence the reason for my lower score. I'm uncertain whether I'll read the second book in the series.

Linda's score: 3.7/5.0

The Chalk Pit
, by Elly Griffiths is the 10th of 15 books in the Ruth Galloway series. Interestingly, I listened to the first book, read e-books of two through nine, and was able to again listen to the 10th book! I'm glad to have had the chance to hear the correct pronunciation of several locations and characters. Dave Clough's last name is pronounced "Kluff." Who would have guessed?!

In this book, Detective Sergeant Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearing of a "rough sleeper" (our US term would be "homeless person") when two of the men she has just questioned are found stabbed in the heart. It's time to investigate rumors of an underground community of rough sleepers who travel through a network of chalk tunnels under the city of Norwich. When a young mother of four goes missing, followed by the disappearance of Cassandra, Clough's partner (fiancé), DCI Nelson, his team, Ruth, and the new department chief Jo Robinson, join to find the missing women. Meanwhile, on the home front, Nelson is coming to a new realization about both of his relationships, just as his wife Michelle (ME-shell) is also facing a new realization. 

Linda's score: 4.1/5.0


Friday, September 16, 2022

Retreat and What I Did(n't) Do

Our Central Florida MQG quilt retreat was pretty great. I was the fill-in media coordinator, so here's the CFMQG blog post I wrote about retreat.

On Friday, I arrived at Luther Springs by 11:30 am and was one of the last of people to get there. Only two more quilters came after me, making our group 21 people. 

We set up our sewing stations in the chapel, a relatively new building on the grounds that was designed with quilters in mind - electrical outlets in the floor, four large uncovered windows on two sides of the room, and a kitchenette.

An empty space in the kitchenette wall that I thought was meant for a dishwasher will be where a wine frig goes! It's nice that a Lutheran camp isn't rigid about alcohol use. I also learned that an eight-foot long shelf is being constructed to display quilts. When quilters are in the room, the quilts can be rolled up to reveal a cork wall - a design wall! Since Luther Springs also furnishes tables with risers, and cutting mats, it's no wonder 50 quilt groups rented Luther Springs in 2021!

Our room was sort of quiet at first, probably because we have so many new members in our chapter. We're up to 60-some members now. It took a while for us to get acquainted. And with nine of the retreat attendees being first-time retreaters, we happily led by example!
My goodness! I went on my first quilt retreat in 1990 (perhaps?) with Des Moines Area Quilter's Guild that held two retreats a year. For at least a half-dozen years, I attended both. I've also gone on annual retreats to Riverside Lutheran Bible Camp in Story City, Iowa, with Hope Quilters (I created the Hope Quilters blog); private/small group-type retreats with close friends; and Central Florida MQG retreats that began in 2015.
I figure I've gone on at least 50 overnight retreats, ranging from two to six nights! That may seem like a lot, but since I took up quiltmaking in 1976 - 46 years ago - that doesn't seem like too many retreats.... does it?
This retreat is probably the one where I made the least progress on projects.
I sewed. I took pictures. I called my Dad every day (my siblings moved him into assisted living last Friday). I gave an impromptu Instagram lesson to seven quilters. I attended a Central Florida MQG Executive Committee meeting. I practiced the ukulele. I ate. I sewed. I ate. (Miss Sarah is an excellent cook!) I sewed.
I pieced all the blocks for Tilted Tiles, a pattern designed by Charles Cameron for members of the MQG.

I'll be perfectly honest and say that this Tilted Tiles pattern isn't for the faint of heart! It's somewhat challenging to understand Charles' "shifting" method of arranging fabrics, but once you work it out, you'll agree that he has a brilliant acuity for designing! "Who thinks like this?" is what I kept asking myself as I worked my way through making three different blocks. I would have accomplished more if I'd had a design wall, but it was easy enough to pick up another project.
I made 22 of the 64 blocks I need for my improv foundation paper-pieced design. Blocks are nice and easy to sew, almost boring. This is a best I could manage for laying out blocks.

Since we had to be out of Luther Springs by 10 am Monday (another quilting group was coming at 11 am), many quilters packed up Sunday evening. So, Monday morning we sat around and chatted. I worked on this Kawandi. It's my 12th Kawandi since learning this method.

Here's the 11th Kawandi finished just before going on retreat. It measures 15" X 24", is made with my grandma's vintage scraps, and will be given to a relative.
Kawandi #11, 15" X 24"

Oh! Our Peace, Love, and Ukulele Club performance Tuesday evening went very well. Nineteen of us played and sang to a small crowd at a Leesburg (Florida) Presbyterian church. Here's the YouTube video of our performance. 
Book Recommendation 
The Woman in Blue is book #8 in the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths.
This story mostly takes place in the historic community of Walsingham, (England) where religious apparitions appear, and an annual Passion Play attracts costumed visitors of all types. When Cathbad, Ruth's druid friend, sees a woman dressed in blue in the cemetery late one night, and that woman is found dead the next day, the case is handled by DCI Harry Nelson and his team - Clough, Tanya, and Tim. One of Ruth's college friends, Hilary, returns to the area to attend a conference for female priests and shares with Ruth some threatening letters she's received. Ruth passes them on to Harry. They begin to deduce that the woman's death and the letters may be related.

Electronically, this book was available through my library only as an E-book. The next title, #9 is available as an audiobook! Isn't it odd how availability of a book series switches back and forth between platforms like that? I don't understand why. 
But, I'm really enjoying these! Thanks for the recommendation, Cindy - @liveacolorfullife !
Linda's score 4.0/5.0

Tomorrow, Saturday, September 17, I'm giving a "Ruler Quilting on a Domestic Machine" program at the Central Florida MQG meeting.

The last time I gave this presentation was March 4, 2020 when I went to Maitland to give this program to the Orlando MQG.

I'll begin the program with a Powerpoint presentation followed demonstrating ruler quilting at my Bernina. For the first time, we're setting up an iPhone to mirror video onto a screen. Hope it all works! 


Friday, September 9, 2022

Retreat Prep

I'm going on a quilt retreat with Central Florida MQG at Luther Springs in Hawthorne, Florida. Our chapter goes there at least once a year, and it's become a much-anticipated sewing get-away. I have several projects prepped. 

After taking a virtual "Improv Paper Piecing" workshop with Amy Friend, this improv foundation paper-pieced design is what I came up with in EQ8 . I've printed a stack of freezer paper templates and have cut fabrics - Painter's Palette Clementine, Sangria, and Hot Pink - in anticipating of piecing it. 

As soon as I saw this design in the latest MQG Journal, I added it to my list of "to-make on retreat" projects. Tilted Tiles is called "semi-improv" because a couple of the blocks are sub-cut at an improv-y angle. I thought it looked fun!

From my stash, I chose these colors to make Tilted Tiles. As you can tell, I love my Painter's Palette solids, but I couldn't find any PP close to that Kona Mac 'n Cheese (though I since have, in a new PP solid Butterscotch), so there's a lone Kona among the PP solids. You can also see that I had two options for the darkest color/value, with one of them being the new PP color Redwood. I thought I'd like it, but an Instagram poll had me choosing the darker Claret for more depth of color. Even the designer, Charles @feltlikesweets; and Paintbrush Studio Fabrics @pbsfabrics preferred Claret.  

Now I've got all the quilt top cut out, but I'll have a piece of Redwood at hand, just in case.

If you're an MQG member, you can get the free Tilted Tiles pattern here

I mentioned in my last blog post that KC Maker Studio (Mission, KS) had a Labor Day sale on Painter's Palette solids. The order I placed on Friday arrived Tuesday! I'm impressed. These are some of the new PP colors I added to my stash (including Redwood), though Topaz is actually a re-stash because I used up most of my first piece of Topaz in my #30daysofimprovqal quilt. 

By the way, I have already washed these new pieces with our laundry. I included a Color Catcher in each of two loads, and both times the catcher came out WHITE! I know that doesn't happened with other brands of quilting solids. 

I don't often take my "big machine" on retreat, but this time my Bernina 770QE is going. That's because I want to continue quilting my #30daysofimprovqal quilt. I plan to do some ruler quilting too.

But before going anywhere, this week I had to do some garment sewing. That's because next Tuesday evening our Peace, Love, and Ukulele Club will be performing! All 19 of us are to wear a tie-dyed or brightly colored shirt, and long pants. I've had this piece of tie-dye-looking knit for some time. 

With my old (1985) Bernina serger, I can sew and overlock quickly, especially compared to how long it takes to make a quilt. I made this top in an evening.

Tah-dah! Six of us will be at own mic to sing and play, and I'm one of them! For an hour, I'll be playing and harmonizing and lookin' groovy! I just need some love beads, right? 

Book Recommendation
A Sparkle of Silver b
y Liz Johnson is set on St. Simon's Island, Georgia where a grand oceanside chateau was, in the 1920's, a scene of leisure and wealth. Present day employees of the chateau: Ben, the head of security; and Millie, a period actor for visitors touring the chateau, are on a quest for treasure. Millie's Grandma Joy claims that her mother Ruth, spent the summer of 1929 at the chateau, fell in love, and that Joy's real father was never identified. Grandma Joy also claims that everything that's been kept secret, including the whereabouts of missing jewelry, is written about in Ruth's diary. Desperate for money to pay for Grandma Joy's nursing home care, Millie sets out to find the treasure, inadvertently getting Ben in on the search too.
Mental conversations and verbal conversations in this book were way too elaborate and irrelevant to the story. Too often the author spent an inordinate amount of time rehashing the theme: "I'm not falling for him/her - I'm falling for him/her." It was so overdone, I could barely plow my way through the book. If I missed paying attention to a few sentences during the listening, I didn't miss a bit of the plot. This book was trite and unengaging. I knew what characters would say before it was said. If pressed to state one good thing about the book, it's that Millie, Ben, and Grandma Joy are believers who know Scripture and attend church.  

This book is #1 in the Georgia Coast Romance series. I won't be reading the rest. 

Linda's score: 2.8/5.0

Dan's been doing his famous cooking again, and put together this delicious 8" taco pizza just for me.

It's made with a soft-shell tortilla covered with homemade refried beans (one bag of pinto beans soaked, slow-cooked, and skillet-fried with butter and cheese) and pepper jack and Monterey jack grated cheese. Once pan-crisped and melted, it's topped with grilled chicken breast; salsa; chopped red leaf lettuce (Did you know, red leaf lettuce contains more iron than iceberg?), tomatoes, black olives, green pepper; and taco chip crumbles. Sour cream was on the side. It was so good!

Over the next four days, the forecast for Central Florida is rain, rain and more rain. I can't think of a better thing to do than be on a quilt retreat. Oh boy! Linda

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Diggin' in Again

Since our 50th anniversary has come and gone with a modicum of celebration, I'm back to focusing on my favorite pastimes - quiltmaking and audiobook-listening. 

Keeping up with the #30daysofimprovqal on Instagram, I began arranging the striped, polygon, triangular, and curved blocks and units I'd made during each of the four weeks of the quiltalong. Composition is the hardest part for me. I went into this step with trepidation because this is where, with past projects, I often fail. 

When the quilt top was about halfway pieced together, I had a long FaceTime chat with my friend Candi @candipursuits who lives in St. Augustine, Florida. Candi has taken numerous improv workshops with improv gurus such as Sherri Lynn Wood, Maria Shell, and Sheila Frampton Cooper, and so was able to offer sound advice and encouragement to keep going. 

I did.

By the #30daysoimprovqal deadline on September 2, I completed this 53" W X 46" H quilt top made with five colors of Painter's Palette solids. 

After posting this picture to Instagram, it's been interesting to note what people "see" in the quilt top - a harbour with houses; boats on a lake; a map or town by the sea; a river emptying into the sea, and islands; the beach and boating; and Amsterdam! If nothing else, I've gotten some good ideas about what I might name it!

I rearranged my sewing room to have a large tabletop on which I pin-basted. I've been thinking about how to quilt it and have decided it will definitely get custom work, and probably some good 'ole big stitch hand quilting. These days, I think I must add big stitching to every quilt I make! 

The backing is pieced with stashed fabrics - Grunge, and most of what's left of a print that's at least 15 years old. 

While I had my tables set up for basting, I pin-basted this quilt too. No name. Just a colorful top I finished in early July. 

You can see my improv log cabin quilt is still on the design wall. I'm just not satisfied with the neutral-colored blocks I thought I'd add around the perimeter. I've been re-making each block, adding inserts of color, but they're still not what I'm looking for. Sigh. I don't know how this quilt will end up. 

During snatches of sit-down time (in my aqua swivel-rocker) I pick up this Kawandi. Made with Grandma's vintage fabric scraps, it's nearing a finish. 

By the way, much of sit-down time has been on the phone with my Dad who's in a skilled nursing facility in Kansas City. Though he's out of COVID quarantine, some residual effects are hanging on, like coughing. But he's getting good occupational and physical therapy almost daily, and he's seeing some improvement in mobility. We're anticipating that this coming week he'll return home. However, he'll no longer be in independent living, but will move into an assisted living apartment. Lots of parts need to come together quickly - paperwork, getting rid of some furniture and kitchen supplies, movers coming in, and getting a new bed. Hopefully the transition will go smoothly.

Book Recommendations
At least six months ago, I read a very positive review of The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams, but neither of my library apps had it. A recent re-check found it on Hoopla, so I checked it out right away. 

Mukesh is an elderly man who's wife Naina passed away from cancer about a year ago. Although he receives daily phone messages from his three adult daughters, and occasionally sees his grandchildren, Mukesh lives a mundane, lonely life. When he ventures out to the public library, he meets unkind 17 year-old Aleisha. She's not happy, mostly because her life revolves around care of her mentally unbalanced mother. These two unlikely people forge a friendship through books that several other library patrons also read. That's because they've each come across a particular reading list that's been tucked away in a book, or left on a grocery store message board. These are the titles: To Kill a Mockingbird; Rebecca, The Kite Runner; The Life of Pi; Pride and Prejudice; Little Women; Beloved; and A Suitable Boy. Ironically, parts of some of the books have parallels with the lives they're leading.

I'm glad I've read six of these titles, including The Time Traveler's Wife (not on the reading list), because knowing the characters and themes of these eight books make The Reading List more understandable.   

You'll miss out if you actually read this book in print. The narrative is absolutely fabulous! The man who reads the role of Mukesh, a Hindu man, does it with an accent so well performed that the story couldn't be fully appreciated any other way. Therefore, I highly recommend listening to this one. 

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

Author Sandie Jones came to my attention through the recommendation of another title by her, but since my library didn't carry it, I opted for The Blame Game.

This is about Naomi, a married psychologist who specializes in treating victims of domestic abuse. Her client Jacob has been abused by his wife for years, and has the physical evidence to prove it. When he needs a place to go to escape her, Naomi allows him into their beach home, yet doesn't tell her husband. Then Jacob disappears, just as suspicious emails and text messages appear that lead police to suspect that Naomi isn't as innocent as she claims. Meanwhile, Anna is another abuse victim who also needs Naomi's help to escape. Anna and her husband have become strangers since the death of their little boy. Simultaneously Naomi's life has becoming more upsetting because her incarcerated father, who murdered Naomi's mother, has been released from prison. 

I found this story somewhat implausible because I couldn't imagine a well-intentioned psychologist being able to justify all the lying Naomi does. But coming clean probably wouldn't have made for a very good story. 

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

Number seven in the Ruth Galloway series of books by Elly Griffiths is The Ghost Fields. Once again, my attention was captured by a story that takes place in the eerily lovely marsh fields of north England.

A WWII airplane has been unearthed in a field intended for a new housing complex. Ruth is called in to help identify the body found in the pilot's seat. When it's determined that he's a long-dead serviceman who grew up in the area, all attention turns to the Blackstock family, and their odd, ancient estate. DCI Nelson is on the case, while his beautiful wife Michelle, and a new detective are developing a relationship. Ruth is more involved in the case than she wants to be, so when she reluctantly attends a party at the Blackstock estate, just as monsoon-type rains fall, Ruth finds herself in a place she does not want to be. 
Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

No affiliation with me, but if you need any Painter's Palette solids, I recommend visiting the website of KC Maker Studio a quilt shop I've recently begun following on Instagram that's in Mission, Kansas.

KC Makers Studio carries a nice selection of PP solid colors, including the new ones! There's a 25% off sale going on through Labor Day - on solids and blenders, among other fabrics - so don't miss out on solids at $6.74 a yard! I've got 11 yards coming.

Just trying to be helpful. 

Have a great Labor Day! Linda


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