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!