Friday, June 14, 2024

Piecing, Quilting, and Sarasota

I'm 14 days into my 100-days of Quilt Your Life, and I've made 22 blocks! Jiminy!

It feels like I've spent hours making blocks, and I have! But I'm committed! I had to revise my spreadsheet to make it easier to track and count blocks. Besides this spreadsheet on my computer, it's also available on my iPhone through the iCloud, making it easy to record while I'm beside my cutting table and sewing machine.  

I've made a little progress on quilting the "minimalist - ha!" quilt. I've gotten into a pattern of machine quilt for a while, and then pausing to add hand quilting with size 8 perle cotton. I'm very happy with how it's looking.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been easy to quilt by hand. I'm guessing it's the batting that's making it a little more difficult. This is the first time I've tried to hand quilt through Hobbs Cotton Wool. I'll remember that the next time I'm choosing a batt. My favorite, go-to batting will always be Quilter's Dream Cotton Request. 

Book Recommendations
Last week I listened to The Women by Kristin Hannah. I've been unable to stop thinking about it.

The story begins in 1966 and follows Frances (Frankie) McGrath, a newly-trained nurse living a wealthy lifestyle in California. She has idealistic dreams about helping people, and in spite of her parent's' desires for her, what better place to begin than as an Army Corps nurse on a tour of duty to Vietnam?

Frankie becomes a combat nurse, learning quickly by trial, while forging enduring friendships. She's a "good girl" who experiences first-time love, yet each day faces severe injuries and death caused by war. The toll is both physically and emotional.

After her tours of duty, Frankie returns home to a country that literally spits on veterans, and refuses to acknowledge the critical role played by women who served. Even when Frankie seeks help, she's turned away. Living through Frankie's experiences with her was more than frustrating. 

Perhaps this story is fascinating because, though I lived through this time, I didn't know anyone in the Vietnam conflict. Years later hubs and I were in a Bible study group with a couple who became good friends. He, Larry was a P.O.W. at the Hoa Lo Prison ("Hanoi Hilton") for seven years. Larry was always open about his experience there, even to describing the tapping code prisoners developed to communicate with one another. So I felt Larry's story through Frankie's experiences.

Admittedly, I have been naive about this sad time in our country, but through Ms. Hannah's book I have a better understanding of it. This book is a must-read for anyone who can't imagine what it was like to experience war, and the return from Vietnam. I have never been more moved by a book, and the score I'm giving it reflects that. Linda's score: 4.8/5.0

Another book I recently finished is The Holy Spirit by John Revere. I chose it to provide me with a greater understanding of who the Holy Spirit is, how He is present in my life, and how to communicate better with Him. I don't want to score a book that's meant to edify one's faith, so I'll just say it was a very worthwhile read. I'm already revisiting particular chapters.  

We took a side trip this week and spent two nights in Sarasota, Florida. We enjoyed eating out - seafood one night; Amish food (Der Dutchman, a chain based in Ohio) the next - did a little shopping, and enjoyed going to The Ringling.

The Ringling estate abuts the Gulf of Mexico, and is where John and Mable Ringling - he of the Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey Circus fame - built their winter home called Ca' d'Zan. It's now owned by the State of Florida, and valued at $200 million.
Banyan trees cover the U-shaped drive to the front door of Ca' D'Zan

Ca' D'Zan

Inside, from the main living area looking toward the ocean.
Light in this room, reflecting off the ocean and through the glass, was amazing.

From the side of the house, see the outdoor spiral stairs that leads to a viewing cupola on the roof?

Oceanside patio with stairs and dock

Also on the property is a 21-gallery museum Mr. Ringling had built to house his extensive collection of huge-sized 15th century paintings, as well as two rooms of the Astor mansion he purchased in New York City before the home was demolished in 1912. He had those rooms - including enormous fireplaces - moved and installed in two custom-designed galleries of his museum! Words can't begin to describe the art he amassed. and the special building he had designed to house it all. Incredible! It was all bequeathed to the State of Florida in 1936, when he died, though the art was stored in warehouses while the estate was held in probate for 10 years!
Note the Gulf of Mexico at the back of the property. 

The museum also offers special art exhibits. These two pieces were in the "Skyway" exhibit, and caught my eye.

Time and Place: Egmont Key - Indian Territory - LA - Oklahoma by Tony Tiger, 2019. It's "acrylic on panel." I see modern. And transparency. 

I don't know the title of this curtain but it was made by Rachel de Cuba of Sarasota. It's knitted white plastic bags! 

There's also a circus museum on the grounds. Among other items, you can see the 1896 custom-built Pullman railway car - The Wisconsin - that the Ringlings often traveled in between New York and Sarasota. It is totally luxurious with wood paneling throughout, plush furnishings, and toilets in several of the sleeping rooms.

We spent about 4½ on the grounds, but I would love to go back and peruse it again.  

The advantage to going to a place like this at this time of year is that we practically had the museum of art to ourselves - just us and a docent in each gallery. And not many people were touring the circus museum, mansion, and property. The disadvantage is that it was hot outdoors (90+F), between buildings, and we had to do a little rain-dodging.

But gosh, the place is so amazing. Mr. Ringling is a story himself. His financial downfall came during the Depression, and when he died in 1936, he had only $311 in his bank account. From the museum shop I bought a book about him, and look forward to learning about the impact he made in Florida. 

A midweek get-away is nice. I'm feeling refreshed and ready to return to my usual activities. Linda


  1. My brother Brian had service in Vietnam. He joined the army specifically as he was so against Communism. There was no conscription here in New Zealand and several units were sent over, as were dome from Australia.

  2. Good progress on your projects. We lost the best man in our wedding to the Vietnam war. Cannot imagine the horror Larry experienced. Your trip- just lovely. That's a place on my "want to visit" list.

  3. Keep up your good progress and send a little motivation my way. You're doing better than I at the moment. I'm adding to my reading list as I don't know much history from that war. Thanks for the review. Your trip sounds interesting. It amazes me what some people do with their lives.

  4. Wow, you've certainly had a busy time with quilting, reading and travel. Your break away looks amazing.

  5. Pamela Dempsey in Northeast Texas 😻June 15, 2024 at 10:26 AM

    What great progress! Enjoyed your trip pictures, what a beautiful place he had 😻

    1. Hi Pamela! I appreciated having a break from so much piecing and quilting. Our little get-away is just what I needed, and has given me much food for thought. Last evening I began reading the book about John Ringling, and am finding his life very interesting. Also, I was tickled to know he was born in McGregor, Iowa - the state I claim as "home." Indeed his home, Ca' D'Zan, is beautiful, and I admire his vision and foresight to leave it as a legacy for the State of Florida.

  6. I appreciate your thoughts on The Women. It's on my list! Bummer about the difficulty quilting with the wool batt. Hopefully worth it!

  7. I’m so glad you were able to come back to Sarasota and visit the Ringling. The city is a lot of fun and we love it here. I know you got very inspired!

  8. Your Life quilt is looking super interesting, Linda! I'd love to tour that Ringling estate someday. My cousin lives in Baraboo, WI, the home of the Ringling Circus. That crocheted curtain--were there no words or letters on the plastic bags? They look pure white, which surprises me.

  9. I'm glad for you that you could make this trip and even enjoyed it so much

    1. Thanks, Anonymous! It WAS a fun get-away, and actually, I'd love the chance to return to "The Ringling" for a second visit. Much to see. It's great getting to know my new "home state." We've lived here 12 years today (June 23)! Wow.


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