Wednesday, June 21, 2017

On The Road: Part Three

 After our two nights at Spearfish, it was time to get back on the road. This was going to be a long travel day; our destination was Cody, Wyoming, and a Holiday Inn rather than a historic inn.

With different scenery, too.

Unfortunately, this wasn't a fabric shop, but with such a terrific name, it warranted a photo.

Not as much wildlife this day, either.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

On the Road: Part Two

After our three nights at Custer, it was time to get on the road again. There were other destinations! Not far away was Spearfish Canyon, and we took our time getting there. Our home was to be Spearfish Canyon Lodge, a beautiful, elegantly rustic place with a lovely lobby, immense fireplace, and spacious rooms. We found a stuffed buffalo toy waiting for us on our bed, available for purchase in the gift shop.
 Our room was on the second floor, not far from the hot tub which we enjoyed on our first evening. 

Spearfish is located about midway between Deadwood and Lead. We didn't have any particular interest in either town, but thought we should put in an appearance. Deadwood was full of casinos, but we did find a fine, old-fashioned saloon for dinner (I like fine, old-fashioned saloons). There was the requisite sawdust on the floor and an appropriately rough-looking clientele, but when we said we wanted dinner, we were sent upstairs to the "social club," where, unfortunately, the waitresses were wearing traditional garb rather than the corsets I'd anticipated. Atmosphere to the contrary, the walleye was delicious!

The next morning Joe got up early and went out to lie in a gulch to wait for animal sightings while I had the good sense to sleep in, enjoy the lobby area, and catch up on postcards.

Upon his return, we were off to Lead, home of a museum dedicated to the gold mining era. Our guide there, like every other guide we met on this trip, was knowledgable and personable and I enjoyed the mining museum much more than I had anticipated, despite some of the dangerous individuals in the area.

Monday, June 19, 2017

On The Road, Part One

 Near the end of May, we left home for a trip that Joe has wanted to do for quite some time. We were gone for two weeks.

We flew into Rapid City, South Dakota after changing planes in Denver and as soon as we had picked up our rental car, my very wise husband said, "You mentioned a quilt shop in Rapid City. Let's go there first." The Quilt Connection, Etc., turned out to be a terrific place! Mindful that this was Day One and that we were going to have to personally carry home any purchases, I limited my selections to a collection of FQs for a baby quilt. 

Soon we were on our way to Custer State Park where we stayed for three nights at the State Game Lodge, a place that Presidents Coolidge and Eisenhower had both enjoyed visiting.

The lodge was beautiful. We had a buffet breakfast there each morning and enjoyed their dining room in the evenings. Our stay was just before the "season" was to open, and the wait staff in the dining room was a bit green, but we found them to be charming. The food was lovely; we tried bison and elk both.

The morning after we arrived, we went out on a safari to see wildlife, and wildlife we did see: antelope, western meadowlarks, deer, bison, and a prairie dog or two. We were the only participants on this particular safari; perhaps others were deterred by the temperatures which were in the upper 30s! I had on my shirt, sweater, and coat, and was wrapped up in a blanket with my scarf holding my hat on my head and my hood on top of all of that! Everywhere there were signs cautioning us not to approach the buffalo, warning us that they can move at remarkably high speed and are not to be trifled with.

One afternoon we drove up to see what the Bad Lands were all about. We found them to be gorgeous and unusual and were surprised to learn that these formations had pushed their way up out of the sea originally. 

Of course we visited Mount Rushmore, undeterred by the falling snow and again wearing more clothes that we though would be expected in June. We liked it!

And a brief stop at the famous Wall Drug was in order, too. We were unimpressed.

One afternoon we drove to a place famous for hot springs. Considering the snow of the previous day, hot springs sounded good, but our destination was a woolly mammoth archeological excavation site. It was fascinating.

We saw so many animals: buffalo by the bazillion, prairie dogs, antelope, elk, mule deer, white tail deer, eagles, osprey,  big horn sheep, and long horn cattle. Sometimes the animals were distant and we had to use binoculars or the close-up lens of Joe's camera; other times, they were almost within touching distance.

And speaking of within touching distance, Custer is home to a group of fourteen burros that pretty much hang out together. The day we saw the mammoth dig, just after re-entering the park, we were fortunate to see the burros gathered in a field across the road. We stopped the car to take pictures and before we knew it, we were making new friends! So much for all those signs about the danger of getting too close to wildlife! They ambled right up to the car and politely asked if we just happened to have any grey poupon crackers and fortunately we did! This was totally unexpected on my part and one of the absolute high points of the trip. I found myself putting my hand right into a mouth with these big soft lips and chiclet-like teeth, and laughing, laughing, laughing with delight!

Friday, June 02, 2017


Well, I went with my gut and with the majority of the opinions rendered, and put the squares in the middles of the white areas. I'm not convinced that this was the right thing, but it is done now. My eye is drawn to the squares and not to the individual snapshots. But it is a baby quilt, and the baby will be viewing it at closer range, so I think it is fine.

Snapshots is a flimsy, the third of four baby quilts I will make before October to help raise awareness of The Baby Bureau.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Refugee Update

Late last August, I became part of a four-congregation group of volunteers who worked to resettle a refugee family of eleven; these people had lived in a camp in Tanzania for years after being forced to leave their home in the Congo.

The two children who have been in elementary school astonish us with their grasp of the English language. One of the two who attend high school had a great deal of English before coming here and he, too, has flourished. The other high school student is less motivated and the team is struggling to understand her. The three preschoolers will be in kindergarten in September, so there is every reason to believe that they, too, will do well.

The parents are working full-time at a meat packing plant. The work is hard but they are paid well, have health benefits, and even have their own retirement accounts. The other two young adult women are working as hotel maids. So much has been accomplished in these ten months, and yet there is still so much more that they need to learn, to master, to accomplish.

The resettlement team leaders have a weekly conference call and the rest of us receive weekly news bulletins. The most recent bulletin contained a brief report that I found endearing and reminded me that our adult refugees are still somewhat childlike because of the narrowness of their life experience.

"I had fun teaching F and J [the hotel workers] how to mail a letter. (There is a box . . . across from park area.)  They giggled as the letter disappeared.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

With or Without?

With or Without? In Philadelphia, that question ordinarily has to do with one's preference for or against onions on one's cheesesteak. Just sharing that info, in case you come to our city sometime.

I've been making these fun 9" finished blocks, not quite Churn Dashes, not quite Shooflies, but something quite marvelous, IMNSHO. 

I put them up on the wall, and all I could see was Snowballs. 

Then I thought, what if there were tiny squares in the centers of those big white spaces. Would I see the blocks more or would I still see Snowballs. So I cut some little squares and stuck 'em up there. I think I like it better. What about you? With or Without? Squares, not onions.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Charming Apron

Every time I post a picture of one of these aprons, someone will ask what pattern I used. I've made aprons from this pattern for years, ever since Nicole at Sisters Choice introduced her readers to it (and I bet even Nicole doesn't remember how long ago that was!). I usually make the waist ties longer than the patter calls for, and the cat food apron I made for Sherry was the first time I just used a plain piece of fabric insert rather than make those cute little pinwheels. Charming Trio by Anka's Treasures.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

We'll Always Have Paris

 A little more than a year ago, Himself and I were in Paris in anticipation of our Viking river cruise to Normandy. The day that we arrived, we met up with our darling great niece, Abby, who was spending her second semester of her junior year studying there. I believe we were the first folks from home and she was awfully glad to see us. We had a wonderful time together.

Now Abby's graduating college and plunging right into a master's program. A family celebration was held in her honor.

Here's Judy modeling the gift I made for Abby while we were on retreat a couple of weeks ago. I believe you can click the photo to enlarge it and see that the apron fabric is all scenes from Paris. I made my niece a pair of pot holders from the scraps.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Black Rock, April 2017

Five of the usual suspects eight participants went away to Black Rock a couple of weekends ago. Three of us went on Thursday and were joined by the others the next day.

I was productive. I had brought along several different projects and got everything done that I wanted to.

My daughter has been fascinated by the idea that there is fabric with cat food on it. She's never been an apron-wearer, but declared that if she had a cat food apron she'd wear it! Here's dear Judy modeling the CF apron that I made for Sherry. There were enough scraps of cat food that I could make her a pair of pot holders, too. Also I put together the tops for a set of four placemats, but have to get some fabric for the back before I can finish.

I managed to get my bee blocks for the month together as well as two other projects that must remain a secret for a time; I'll reveal them within a couple of weeks after they've been given to their rightful owners.

My major accomplishment for the weekend was the completion of this granny square baby quilt that I'll be donating to an agency that helps young moms who don't have a lot of money to get started. My Circle will be gathering baby things in October for this agency and my hope is to have four little quilts ready for them by then.

It was, as usual, a really wonderful getaway with lots of laughter, too much eating, and the joy of just being together. Interestingly, there was another group of quilters at the retreat center, about thirty representing the Flying Geese Guild of Hereford or Harford (unclear exactly which), Maryland. These fun ladies invited us to come up for a game of chance on Saturday night and -- rather embarrassingly -- one of our number was the winner of 72 FQs!

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Letter to Lloyd

April 30, 2017 

Dear Lloyd and Reberta,

This is a picture of a chocolate bag, a “recommended” dessert at McCormick & Schmicks restaurant. But I am getting ahead of myself.

It’s been a busy week here in Lake Woebegon — erm Near Philadelphia. All good things but too darned many of them. 

The high point of the week was Thursday night, when we went downtown. The Philadelphia Orchestra had a three-day Rachmaninoff festival, and we were fortunate to have tickets for the first night when two different artists each performed one of his piano concertos (the Fourth and the sublime Second). The Orchestra’s organization made quite an event of this festival. Mr. Rachmaninoff's great niece was present, introduced on stage, and spoke warmly about Uncle Sergei. Each concert was preceded by a short play written for the occasion and involving characters from music history of Sergei’s time and each concert was followed by a brief offering of his chamber music. Alas, we decided not to attend any of the pre or post events. It was a very full week, and we needed our sleep.

The City of Philadelphia was all aflutter over something called the N F L Draft, which one or both of you may know much more about than I do. Why, we do not know, but the Art Museum steps and the entire Benjamin Franklin Parkway and for blocks around were shut down from traffic for the whole time. Radio people warned us constantly not to attempt to drive into the city. The public transit was adding trains, we learned. So despite Joe’s misgivings, we drove to our church and parked and went to the adjacent train station where the platform was crowded with people wearing green Eagles shirts, many of which had a name, not the wearer’s own, on the back. Some people were dragging along elementary school children. The air was festive.

We preceded the concert with dinner at McCormick & Schmicks where we shared an unconventional, tasty, but not memorable or traditional Caesar Salad and individual glasses of wine. Joe had a gigantic filet of salmon stuffed with teensy shellfish delicacies in what he said was a succulent sauce. I had the Chilean sea bass (I did not ask to see its credentials; for all I know it may have been from Argentina or Ecuador) with a glorious mushroom risotto. 

I didn’t think dessert was necessary but Joe persuaded me that I should share something he would order. And, of course, he went for the Chocolate Bag. This concoction appears to be a bag made out of chocolate and, indeed, that is what it is. And it is filled with white chocolate mousse. And a variety of fresh berries. And sitting in a puddle of raspberry puree. Several times during its consumption, Joe mentioned how much Reberta would have enjoyed it. We both worked very hard to put it away, too hard it seemed later, but left a full third of it on the plate. We felt like failures but our charming waiter assured us that we had done admirably and drew our attention to an entire FAMILY in the corner struggling with THEIR chocolate bag. It was good.

It was unseasonably warm and, of course, we had a much longer walk than usual to the Kimmel Center, and although we arrived in plenty of time, the combination of all of that mousse and the long trek and the humid air made us feel a bit unwell as we took our seats. 

We have recovered.

After the concert we took a cab to Suburban Station where the transit system personnel were in jovial, good-natured form, the trains were not running on time but not-to-worry additional trains had been scheduled (also not running on time). Once again, we were the only people in “civilian” clothing; everyone else (including people up way past their bedtimes) was wearing Eagles apparel except for a guy who sat alone in his New England Patriots shirt. No pushing, no shoving; people were in good moods — apparently whatever the N F L Draft is, it had gone well.

So that is my report. It was a very different evening out and utterly pleasant. A gorgeous summery night, the company of many, many people unlike ourselves, a scrumptious dinner, and a beautiful concert. Life is good. Come to Philadelphia to visit! We'll gladly show you around downtown and even take you to McCormick & Schmicks if you like. But if you want the Chocolate Bag, you're on your own. Bring $14.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Of Concerts and Blocks

This week Facebook was all aglow with people who were listing ten concerts that they'd attended, except one of the ten was a lie. People were to figure out which one. Sounded like fun, so I started my list:

1. New Christy Minstrels
2. Ferrante and Teicher
3. Leipzig Gewandehaus Orchestra
4. Philadelphia Orchestra
5. Cleveland Symphony
6. Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra

I couldn't even come up with nine that were true!

Then someone more innovative than I listed ten quilt blocks that she'd made, except one was a lie. I was in. I was so in. I listed: Log Cabin, Churn Dash, Nine Patch, Tula Pink #17, Dresden Plate, Pinwheel, Louisiana, Philadelphia Pavement, Bear's Paw, North Wind.

Apparently I am transparent. Half of the commenters guessed correctly. 

Today I decided to remedy that deficiency and made the block I'd not made before. I made it with the Alison Glass fabrics that currently have me swooning, and made it the same size as the Tula blocks. Here it is, hanging out with its friends and neighbors. Go ahead -- see if you can pick it out!

Several years ago my dear little friend Ruth decided there should be a block to connect with my blog. She invented a delightful Near Philadelphia Pavement and made two of them. I was dazzled. But I've never made any myself.

I guess I'm going to have to remedy that, too.

So here it is, standing alone, my first Philadelphia Pavement, made slightly modern by enlarging the outskirts which the original pattern has the same width as the HSTs and solid squares. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Alison Meets Tula in My Studio

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Sharon came to spend a couple of days Near Philadelphia. She had planned to go home to New England on Wednesday but I told her she had to stay until Thursday, at least. Because Wednesday was the opening of the quilt show out in Lancaster. It wasn't hard to persuade her.

So that Wednesday Bobbi and Sharon and I went to Lancaster with our credit cards burning holes in our pockets. The show had lots and lots of "wall quilts," which -- as usual -- were mostly what I consider "fabric art" rather than "quilts." Whatever. The full size quilts were pretty nice and there were more of them than there had been in previous years, I thought. The vendors pretty much left us cold. I had no idea there were no many long arm manufacturers. They and the various sewing machine dealers took up most of the space. There were a couple of bright booths of Kaffe Collective fabrics, but I didn't buy there because I could almost open my own stand of KFCs. I bought a tiny gizmo for cutting thread on airplanes and a yard of lobster red batik to bind my Lady of the Lake, and I think that's about it. The others were pretty empty-handed, too.

So we headed home and Bobbi wisely suggested we stop at what we always called the Renegade Mall -- the vendors at the Continental Inn across the street from where the Lancaster Show used to be (shout out to Marsha!). We wandered around and Bobbi found some brights on whites that she needed and we were about done. And then, reader, then we came across the booth for Amelia's Garden and, by gum, did Amelia have brights! We were all drawn in like moths to a lightbulb. Amelia was featuring gorgeous bright prints by Alison Glass. Everyone bought at least one packet of F8s. I bought three.

Day before yesterday I had the chance to cut into them. They are perfect for those Tula Pink blocks that I adore. I've thrown in some additional brights to detract from that totally matchy-matchy look. And I've only just begun.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Just Us Girls Sewing

For me, 2017 has not had the best of starts. The first quarter of the year was filled with sick and injured friends. Too many to list.

But we're into the second quarter now, and things are brighter. The young mom with breast cancer has had her surgery and her pathology has come back clear. Yesterday, another woman with breast cancer rang the bell at her treatment center to signal that she's completed her radiation. Again, her dissection margins are clean. The hospitalized Circle sister was discharged, spent a couple of weeks in rehab, and today will move back to her apartment. The broken ankle lady is back to work.

That leaves one. Another friend who was taken sick on Christmas Day, has been through weeks of hospitalization, more weeks of rehab, and continues to recover at home. Early in her saga, a group of friends decided that she needed a Comfort Quilt and blocks were begun and tasks claimed. Then, as often happens, life got in the way for some of the makers, and the quilt wasn't completed as quickly as we had hoped.

As you can see, it is finished. Made by ten women from three states. It was delivered to the eleventh yesterday. Her healing process will now accelerate.

Sunday, April 02, 2017


It's been pretty many years since I received the phone call that posed the exciting question: "How would you like to be a great aunt?" My niece quickly went on to say that I was, of course, already a great aunt, and she was about to become a mother! That boy grew up, married, and made me a great GREAT aunt a couple of times over. Now his brother is following in his footsteps, and a second great GREAT niece is expected in a couple of months.

Unable to attend the shower, I sent this flock of sheep along with the great GREAT grandmother to deliver.

Paper-pieced and hand-quilted.

Looking forward to a GREAT visit with this new little girl sometime in June!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sixes and Nines

I think these 6-inch squares and nine patches are all Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics. I've still got a whole tub of them and have halted the acquisition process. For a while. I don't know what else to say about this quilt. Except that I love it.