Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Book Review: The Best Girl

The Best Girl by Joan Hicks Boone.
I ordered this book for my Kindle, having heard a very short portion of a discussion of it on the radio. I didn't realize it was a true story. Since I read it on my Kindle, I had not flipped through to see that it had pictures. When I was reading along and came to the pictures, I realized it was a true story and felt even sadder.

It was another hard-to-read book about domestic violence. The author grew up in Minnesota, and I recognized many of the places she mentioned. She grew up in an abusive home and worked hard to be "good enough" and to keep her sibling safe from the violence. It was hard to read yet riveting, and the child perspective (from age 4 to 15) was both endearing and heart-breaking.

Laws have changed since her growing up years, thank goodness. But, of course, we still have a long way to go. Being helpful, friendly, and supportive can be life-saving for people experiencing these acts of violence... even if one does not know what one's neighbors, friends, and co-workers are going through, our acts of kindness may be their lifeline. How important it is to care about each other!

something a Little Free Library steward (I am one) loves to see -- a patron absorbed in a book

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Summer Sewing

Recently I was invited to join a group of friends on a weekend quilting retreat at a home in northern Wisconsin (on Lake Superior). It was lovely, and we had fun and got lots done.

This is a top that spontaneously created itself.. I started by making some big Half Square Triangles, and it evolved into this.

This is a traveling Round Robin which two of us worked on. I made the elephants, and the next person did the circle log cabin blocks.

Here is another Round Robin which we also worked on:
I did the bottom row, next person did the top row. When I made my row, the first block was the one in the middle. I thought it was too busy, so I changed the background in the next two blocks. Now I wish I had left them all with the busier background. I like it! Oh, well.. too late now. The next person is poking her head above... it's my cousin, B!

B. brought along bubbles for a little Play Break.
This top was given to me by a friend; the TATW center was done, I just had to add borders to enlarge it. I wonder why it took me a few years to do this simple task?

Quilts by others in the group. First is the pattern Bob and Weave by Gudrun Erla, made by K. The next is a Villa Rosa pattern made for the quilter's grandson, made by M.

Here are a couple of quilts I made this summer, not during the retreat in Wisconsin -- baby girl quilts.

Finally, do you remember the Weather quilt I was working on in 2016? I finally got it quilted, and here it is.. done except for the binding. I love it and hope to get the binding done soon. (White hearts are on days when babies were born, and the red heart is the day my mom died that year... coming up on two years ago now.)

Friday, July 20, 2018

My Quilts Ready to Serve

I donate quilts to a number of places, and sometimes I send in tops-only, and the receiving program is nice enough to finish quilting the tops for me. Recently I had fun looking at some pictures from the beginning of 2018, at the Quilts Beyond Borders site, and noticing my quilts that were done and ready to go off and serve some people around the world. Here is how they look when being processed and ready to go:

The little white board tells where they are headed. Some went to Navajo people in Arizona, I believe it is. And some say Syrian Refugees and others SCM -- those both mean to Syrian refugees via a couple different routes. And one grouping says Mary's Place which is.. I don't know. I can't remember their description, but I'm sure it was a worthy recipient. I'm happy to know my quilts are going to a wide variety of places and people, and keeping them all warm and snuggly. (In that last photo you may notice that the quilt is attributed to Catherine E., but that's a mistake. It is a quilt I made from blocks that were some of the very first blocks I ever created back in late 1999 or early 2000. After 17 years, I finally put them to good use.)

Here is a quilt I donated to Covered in Love. Well, I donated the blocks and someone made the quilt and quilted it. How nice of them!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Book Review: A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I carried this book around for a long time, in my car, waiting for an opportune moment to put it at the top of my queue. The time finally came, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. This is a very well-done and FUN book. It's about a man who owns a bookstore, and his life and times over a number of years. When the book opens, he is a recent widower and having a hard time finding happiness again. More events take place, and lives of the people around and of A.J. Fikry himself go through metamorphoses.

The characters are living authentic lives, that is, they experience the joys and sorrows that life regularly brings. But through it all there is an atmosphere of optimism, and the book just made me happy. Of course, there are numerous references to other books, titles that are meaningful to various people in the story, and how the bookstore itself fares is part of the story as well.

I think anyone would enjoy this nice, pleasant book, especially if one is a lover of books and words and life's stories.

Don't leave this book sitting in your car for too long. Pick it up and read it!

oops.. I should have combed my hair before posing

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