Wednesday, July 11, 2018

My Solo Vacation

My family owned a lake lot and then a shack and then a "cabin" which is really a house. Now my sister owns it. Her family is large and still growing, so it's hard for me to find time to squeeze in and visit the place. Last week I had the place all to myself for eight glorious days! What a treat! Husband was supposed to join me mid-week, but he decided he had too much work to do and the quiet at home was beneficial for him. The quiet for me at the cabin was heavenly.

I did a lot of sewing, reading, relaxing, swimming, and eating when I wanted to. My cousin came over and sewed with me which was nice; I didn't get lonely. And when she returned to her own cabin, I had the lovely solitude to enjoy again.

I put together these four quilt tops:

I made this bag:

I made over a dozen 12.5-inch blocks and 62 crumb blocks (scraps sewn together into 6.5-inch blocks). I read three books which have been reviewed in posts just before this one. Finished the 4th book upon my return home.

The lake shared with me its many moods; I rode on cousin's pontoon for a July 4th picnic.

That week was a perfect vacation and a highlight of my summer. I only missed having hubby with me, but alone time has its grand benefits as well. Ahhh..blood pressure was way down, I think.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Another Book Review! The Break

I have been on vacation and plowing through books. I finished this one today:

The Break by Katherena Vermette. A community of First Nations people, mixed heritage, and settler-descended people in Canada, present day, is the setting for this book. An extended family tells the story; chapters highlight one person's story at a time. I was grateful for the family tree in the front of the book. I referred to it many times as I kept forgetting who was whose mother or sibling or child.

As the story weaves between participants, you learn more about the family and their past, joys and traumas that have affected the family, relationships as they ebb and flow, and most importantly, a current trauma which takes place and around which the family rallies. At times it is hard to read because of the trauma, but please persevere. The language is beautiful. Watch how love and/or the lack of love affects people. We all long for love and acceptance.

This book is powerful. Five of five stars.

summer reading on the deck

Sunday, July 08, 2018

It's a Book Bonanza! Three Book Reviews

Book #1: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

An aristocrat in Moscow, the main character is sentenced to house arrest in a hotel when the Revolution takes place and his old lifestyle is no longer acceptable. He already lives in the hotel, but his fancy suite is taken from him, and he is moved to a small room in the attic. The book is the story of his life for the next 30-some years as he lives through many societal changes in Russia. The revolution has ended, but there is still a lot of turmoil as society figures itself out. And the world encroaches, as well, with a world war and other impactful events.

The book is very pleasant, despite the outside turmoil. The main character adapts well to his new life and sweetly observes the hotel life around him. The language is beautiful and is told as the Count himself, an educated man and man of etiquette, would write it.

The ending surprised me!
4 of 5 stars

Book #2: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

This is a story about children awaiting adoption in an orphanage in Tennessee in the late 30s, early 40s. There is much more than just waiting in the story of the children and how they ended up in the orphanage. How they got there was appalling and traumatic. The story is fiction, based on the history of the Tennessee Children's Home Society which really existed and really perpetrated atrocities on families.

This could have been a great book, but I felt that the families as portrayed fit too much into certain boxes; personalities too pat and too predictable. Otherwise it is interesting due to being based on a real place and true events.
3 of 5 stars

Book #3: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

This book is phenomenal. The writing is exquisite.. the author says so much in as few words as possible. It often just floored me, and I would stop reading and stare into space, being profoundly awed.

It's the story of two young people who live in a city which eventually is overtaken by war, and they decide they must escape. It's a very timely story. War gradually yet catastrophically destroys their city and their homes until it becomes obvious they must leave. Then they arrive in new places and face many insurmountable hurdles there as well. In addition to surviving, they are building a relationship. They are safe (to a degree), yet.. fleeing is an imperfect solution.

Fabulous book which you can read in a day. I highly recommend it.
5 of 5 stars

Friday, June 29, 2018

Book Review: The Tin Ticket

The Tin Ticket by Deborah J. Swiss

This is a non-fiction book about women convicts from Great Britain being transported to Australia (Tasmania) in the 1800s. The times in Britain were very difficult, and being a convict often meant simply that the person was too poor to survive without resorting to theft. Once transported, they had to serve their prison term in Tasmania in equally difficult circumstances.

Throughout their lives these girls and women had to use their street smarts and cunning to just survive. They were brave and strong and brought those qualities to their new home, passing the qualities on to their families. They became strong pillars for the foundation of a strong, new country (and I realize the original inhabitants were pushed aside.. that part of the story was only very briefly touched on).

The book was very well researched and told in an engaging manner. I had known very little about convicts' lives when arriving in Australia, and especially knew nothing about the women. I am inspired by their strength, courage, and their fierce devotion to their families once they were allowed to be free citizens. Amazing stories.

Interesting note: reviews at goodreads(dot)com are all over the map, from two stars to five. I quite enjoyed the book and gave it four stars.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Treasure From Great-Grandma

My cousin recently contacted me and asked if I would like to have an old quilt made by our great-grandma. No one in her immediate family wanted it. Of course I said YES! She mailed it to me from Washington, and here it is:

My great-grandmother, Emma Pratt Shaw, made this in the late 1930s and gave it as a top only to my Uncle Roger H. Roger was too young to appreciate it. Later, in the 40s, he had his sister, my Aunt Hope, finish it. She repaired some of the squares and sandwiched and hand quilted it. Then it was kept in a closet and basically unused until now. So it is in GREAT shape.

This quilt is very similar to a quilt that was given to my dad.. same story. Made in the 30s, finished in the 40s, and it was in our family and used often as I was growing up. My sister now owns that quilt; it is much loved, very soft and tattered. I am thrilled to have its pristine sister that even has some of the same fabrics in it.

What a treasure!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Random Stuff and a Book Review

Hi, blog world. I think of you way more often than I write to you. If you're looking for the book review, scroll down to just above the last picture.

What have I been up to? I have mostly been reading and enjoying a happy-go-lucky summer. I have done a bit more knitting than usual. I have watched a few TV things on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Next week I get to go to my cousin's cabin, and later in the summer to my sister's cabin. Yay! I will get some sewing done then. And more reading. I love reading on the deck with the beautiful lake in my view. We have no big travel plans for the rest of this year... just a random road trip here and there.

I babysat Bonus again last week. He is turning into a little boy.. no more baby fat. He is still such a sweet and agreeable boy. That's his built-in personality. Isn't that nice?? He loves playing with cars, and he runs and jumps and dances and sings. It makes me happy just to be with him.

I am working very few hours this summer. It is lovely. Last week I did a two-hour shift, and it went so fast. I think I might not work at all in the month of July. I have a dream job at which I get to set my own hours. It is PERFECT.

Here is a little bit of sewing I have done lately:

It was quilted a while ago; I finally got the binding on and will be sending it to Quilts Beyond Borders.

July blocks for the Lotto at Sunshine

I finished a book, so here is a book review for you: News of the World by Paulette Jiles. I really loved this book! The writing is beautiful. You will get a sense of being in the natural environment in which the characters travel. Not only is that beautiful, also beautiful is the relationship that develops between the two characters: a man in his 70s and a 10-year-old girl. Watch how the man responds to the differences between their two cultures. It's lovely. I highly recommend this book.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This is a book about families, relationships, friendships, life styles, and choices. Most of the characters are teenagers, and the other main characters are moms in two separate families.

I liked this book, but I didn't love it. I wanted to love the characters more than I did. I only liked one or two of them. The sheltered and privileged lives lived by most of the characters led to close-mindedness. Yet they thought they were wonderfully settled and clear thinkers. That was probably one of the points of the story. New residents of the town help the long term residents' minds crack open, but not very wide. These transformations require much time, I guess. But do they have to? Is my mind as open as I think it is?

This was a book club read; I'm eager to hear my club members' thoughts. If you read the book, tell me yours as well.

This is my son's friend, all grown up and a good daddy.