Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Duck, Duck, Goose

 Remember that game when you were a kid?  I couldn't help but think of that when I took photos of the latest finishes and not finishes.   When we were locked down I pin basted five quilts and saved them for this winter to quilt.  I forgot, though, constant quilting is a terror on my hands and my thumb splits so it didn't go as fast as I'd hoped.   BUT! I do have these to show



I gave this one to a machine quilter.  There was no way I could get my fingers to accept all of these seams AND these fabrics are all very old and very different from each other.  Friend Jan gave a pile of these stars to Friend Marilyn and I and we split them between us.  Marilyn gave me the background fabric and I appliqued them down.  Frazzled edges,  silks, shirtings, there were so many different fabrics.  I sent it out with the instructions to "just get the seams secured!" 

                                                                       Not finished.

Friend Sally was cleaning out.  She asked if I'd like some dresden plates.  I said sure!  So she sent a box.  In the box was a pile of dresden plates all in original 30's fabrics,  many hexie flowers and these blocks she got in an exchange.  I didn't want to add to the pile on MY shelves so simply put a sweet border on each block and attached them together.  But there were only eleven.  I didn't want to make another one.  I took one of the dresden plates, appliqued it down to a white and bordered it.  If you notice that one and the green one ext to it are out of seam alignment with the squares above them.  That will be fixed.  I was trying to decide if I could live with it but it's an easy fix so I will.  This isn't big, it would make a nice size for a little girl.   And I don't think that little dresden plate is out of place at all. 


Again, too many seams so I sent this along with the star strip quilt to be machine quilted.  You have to understand this is a huge concession for me.  It's completely out of my scrap tub and no rhyme or reason to placement. But I love it and have been curling up with it at night.


The backing for this one?  An April Cornell tablecloth. The French toile scene is perfect for the Belgian waffles and strawberries .

                                                                          Not finished.  

Almost. But not quite.  It will be a pillow and that's why it isn't finished.  I've made exactly one pillow in my quilting life and while this needs and will get more quilting, it's the pillow construction that's holding me back.

I made some bunny cookies a couple of weeks back and stuck them in the freezer for decorating.  It came to me that maybe using stiff, cheap, dollar store paintbrushes would be a good way to frost them.  Paint it on.  So I made some frosting, called the girls over and they got to work.

 It turns out stiff, cheap paintbrushes are a great way to decorate a fuzzy bunny cookie. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

What I Learned

 A year and a week ago we returned home from England.  Three years ago we met Brian for the first time. He is my grandpa's nephew but Grandpa never knew him. Never knew Brian's father, his brother.  Adoption can do that to families, this story starts in 1905, and searching for family through Ancestry.com can bring families back together.  We fell in love with Brian immediately.  Never have we met someone who we both instantly connected with and didn't want to leave.   So, last year we went back to Brian.  

Because we had the leadership we had here in the U.S. we didn't think this Covid thing was anything to be overly concerned about. Certainly not in the pandemic category.  But while we were there the world imploded.  England wasn't in a panic when we first arrived. Life was normal, subways were crowded, trains were peopled, stores, restaurants, pubs, theaters all open, crowded and normal.  We had our jet lag day of rest then left with Brian for Brussels for three days.  It was in those three days that all hell broke loose and we started to hear people talk, hear the phones ring in the hotel with cancellations, see empty restaurants, quiet streets.  Upon returning to Brian's home outside London we discovered we had to get out as soon as possible.  With his help - because he is far more tech savvy than we are - we found a flight home via Amsterdam.  Brian kept track of us all the way.  In Amsterdam I got an email message, "You made it to Amsterdam!  Good!  Flights are shutting down here"  in just a matter of hours.   When we arrived in Detroit I got another email, "You made it home!  Good!  Delta has pulled out of London!"  All in one day.

We were so relieved to be in Michigan again, when we deplaned I said I now understood why the astronauts kiss the earth when they return.  But, oh, we were so sad.  So lonesome for Brian. We counter that by talking about him every single day.  Open a bottle of wine? Toast Brian. Tink.

We returned to absolute silence.  No cars, no stores open, empty expressways, no school buses, no sound anywhere because everyone was hunkered down, hiding for what we thought would be two weeks. We were ok with that because having arrived from England we were ordered to stay quarantined for 14 days.  Surely this would be enough?  We walked in the cemetery across the street for fresh air and exercise.

But those two weeks became a year.  And this is what I learned.


I learned that I am grateful and lucky. I always knew it but now I know it.  We are retired.  We didn't have to worry about a paycheck or losing our jobs or homes because we couldn't pay for them.  We knew where our next check was coming from, and it did, regularly.  We had good food to eat, we had a view out the windows, we have a warm home, we have a home.  

I learned that wearing a mask isn't a big deal and in the winter actually keeps my face warm.  I learned that it's a very small price to pay to protect myself and the people around me so this stupid virus doesn't continue to spread.  What I don't understand is the people who refuse to mask are also the ones condemning the shutdowns.  Do they not understand the dot-to-dot?

I learned I have very little patience peopling with people who don't or won't do the simple little thing of wearing a mask to keep each other safe.  I was sad to learn how so very many of those people are so selfish. Up until now I knew selfish was out there but didn't know how many were out there. Now I do and that makes me sad.  But a lesson learned.  I can be stubborn, too. 

I learned that I am not fond of Zoom birthdays with grand kids - I know how fast time goes and don't want to miss one of theirs, but I also learned a Zoom birthday with the grand kids is better than nothing.  Conversely, I have come to love that Zoom is a way to see quilt friends in Australia and all over the world and Dodie in Florida and yes, Brian.  Don't you wish you knew and bought stock in Zoom?

I learned that sometimes when doing something for yourself you are unwittingly doing something kind for someone else, filling their need.  And dammit, right now, kindness DOES count.  We are seeing too much selfish and not enough kind.   

I learned that being away from people for so long, it's an adjustment to be around them again.  For a year it's been PH and me and we know each other well enough after 47 years to know when to get out of each other's way.  But I also know that after years of working and kids and working and kids we are here alone and have been for this year and if anything happens after this, well, we had this year together.

I learned not to take friends for granted because someday someone could take them away - for a year. I spent time this year keeping in touch.

 We haven't been inside a restaurant, movie, anyone's home nor they in ours. Cancelled were birthdays and holidays and quilt retreats, festivals and concerts. We don't have small children to educate at home while balancing our work lap top on our laps, and we don't have loved ones in nursing homes and none of us got sick because we were hyper careful. I learned that even in these seemingly endless days the days do develop a rhythm and they pass, one after another. We are healthy, fed, housed, in touch, and I learned that we may not have everything we want but what we have is enough. And for that I am grateful and lucky. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Buried Treasure

 It was a bright, sunny, blue sky day today so we took a ride to Lake Michigan to see the l882 shipwreck of the Comfort  that's reappeared.  For decades it was covered with sand but the high lake level the past years has washed the sand off and now revealed a buried treasure.

It's just right there, as you walk along the approach to the pier and the dune gives way to the beach and lake, it's just right there like a whale skeleton.

They ask that people resist the urge to take a nail or a splinter of the wood as souvenir and I hope people listen to that plea though in this day and age, I doubt they will.

There were maybe ten people there, all helping each other take pictures of each other and stepping out of the way when we wanted a particular angle to our own.  Kind of like Senior Citizen Day at the beach.
It sure was a pretty day on Lake Michigan. Chilly but so pretty.
On the way home we stopped for ice cream at Norm's.  A single serving was about a pint in size.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Strawberry Waffle


One year ago today we were in Bruges, Belgium with Brian.  We knew as food went we had to have Belgian waffles, fries, beer and chocolate.  The first thing we did after putting our bags in our hotel rooms was to find the waffles.  We were hungry after the train ride under the English Channel and into Belgium and waffles were on top of our list.  

We all chose something different as we settled into a restaurant that served only waffles.  PH had chocolate ice cream, Brian had vanilla and I had strawberries and ice cream.  When we got home I found, quite by accident as I was looking for something else, these checked fabrics in beigey colors.  "Hmmm..." I thought. "These look like the squares in waffles."  It was about 1 a.m. but I was pulling everything I could find that said waffle. Then I thought, "strawberries!" and started pulling pinks and reds.  The next day I was cutting squares (waffles) and sewing them together (by hand) into a strawberry waffle quilt.  Now a year later I'm quilting it and in keeping with the waffle squares it's just quilted in squares. At first I was not happy with myself that it took a year to get around to quilting this but on second thought decided it's a good way to remind myself why I made it and who we were with and everything happens for a reason.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Good Eggs

Good Eggs: A Novel  Good Eggs by Rebecca Hardiman

If ever there was a story to smile through, it's Good Eggs.  You can't help but be charmed by and root for Millie, the 83 year-old mother and grandmother who is just this side of dotty.   She shoplifts and gets caught and asks only to be paid some attention.  After the last shoplifting episode, her son, Kevin, finds a house helper for her.  Sylvia is a charm and Millie is finally taken care of, befriended and out of Kevin's hair.  Not so fast.  The madcap is only just beginning.  You see it coming.  You even say out loud while reading, "No, Millie! Don't!" But she does and you shake your head while she gets herself out of her fix.  

And she does, too.  Because Millie might be 83 but she does know what's right, how to fight for it and yes, win in the end.  No quest is too large, no possibility out of the question.  

You will smile at her reasoning, laugh the image of  her trying to crawl into the window of her burnt out apartment, and wonder if you could do that yourself (nope.)  Her son and his family are maybe more normal that I remember chaos being, but living now quietly I can only hope they survive themselves and Millie. 

Oh, reading this was like watching the movie play out in my head and imagining Dame Judy Dench playing Millie.  Feisty, full of life, proving age doesn't mean you don't still have it.  If you are looking for something to lift you out of this virus encrusted life, read this.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Sunday visits

 The weather is changing and fluctuating almost every day.  Last week it was sunny but quite cold. This week it's going to be sunny and quite warm.  Yesterday was in between.  

I don't like to fry inside the house and found if it's too cold outside the frying fat just doesn't get as hot as it could/should so when we get a nice March day and I can set up my hot plate on the porch it's a good day for the cruschiki (Polish bow ties.)  When we were growing up it wasn't Easter if my grandma didn't make these and I've taken up the torch.  Even though Easter will be quiet again this year these have to be part of the day.  I always make them ahead and freeze them.  I remember every year going to my grandma's on Good Friday and watching her make these, bake and prep the food for Easter. 

I use my mom's cast iron skillet - actually, this one is her peanut brittle skillet because it's deep.
About halfway through the cooking the grandgirls walked over with the dog for a visit.  Elizabeth loves these and was impatiently waiting for the powdered sugar sprinkle part.  Adelaide eats them raw.  Not cooked.

 Her favorite thing to do when she comes over here is to bake something.  She doesn't follow a recipe, she just adds eggs, oil, butter (sometimes), flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla and hopes for the best.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  

One year ago today we left for England. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The Rose Code


 The Rose Code: A Novel

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

      I am going to be a little snippy right now about how many books are being written with World War II as the backdrop but I must also immediately counter that with saying there are so many different things to talk about it’s going to be a long time before there is nothing new to say. I find I like best the very different takes on what life was like if you weren’t a soldier. I recently read one about the use of homing pigeons and am now reading one about what it was like to cook with rationing, both gave me a new perspective. The Rose Code was another.

      Perhaps you’ve seen the program The Bletchley Circle or Enigma Code. The Rose Code takes us on the same journey but with the depth a book can use as a tool. Details you might miss in a program. In The Rose Code, three young women of very different backgrounds find themselves giving their lives to the war in the way we are finally getting to know about. Women with brains who are allowed to use them. 

     Bletchley Park was a deep secret even the people who worked there didn’t know about. If you worked in Hut 4 you didn’t know what Hut 11 was doing. You didn’t need to know, you just did your part of the puzzle with your head down. Secrecy was sworn to under the threat of treason. But the devotion to the cause really made that a given.

     Osla was the girl with everything, looks, privilege, even a Prince. Mab, the complete opposite. The two young women discover Beth cowering in her home with her domineering mother and mouse of a father. Beth has her own set of talents and brains and Osla and Mab bring her in to Bletchley.

     I found it interesting to read how they actually worked out codes, the process they used, the machines they used, the struggle to find that one word or letter that opened up the whole message.

     The author discusses the use of asylums as a means to dismiss women who were nearing collapse from the incredible tension of working days on end with no rest and the pressure of knowing too much. If they cracked, what would they reveal? Keeping them drugged in a place where, if they talked, what they said could be excused at incoherent ramblings. There was the introduction of the lobotomy. A tool that was considered to show great promise.

    And then there is the problem of a spy in their midst. I thought I had that figured out but I was wrong.

    The Rose Code was an intimate look at the lives of the code breakers of Bletchley Park, the pressure to find an answer quickly because of the lives depending on it, and knowing something that could not under any circumstances be shared. This is not just any story using World War II as a backdrop, the author drew on actual people who worked there and tweaked their stories with a bit of artistic license. There is real substance here.