Sunday, June 24, 2007

Seven Facts

Laura at Diva of Quilts tagged me to give seven facts about myself. Prepare to be underwhelmed.

1. Big news! In October I'm going to be a grandmother for the first time--twin boys. This has still not quite sunk in, although I've known for a while, obviously. I'm not sure the true impact on the parents to be and their two-income-no-kids lifestyle has registered for them either.

2. I took piano lessons for SIX YEARS as a child. Can I play now? No. My mother later told me that she gave me the lessons because I was so totally unmusical she thought piano lessons might help. Thanks, Mom. (Many people in my family are musical, so I guess my total lack of talent was painful to her.)

3. I qualify to be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, but don't plan to apply, although when I was teaching I used to laugh that after retirement I'd like to be one of the old ladies from the DAR who came around and give citizenship awards. Maybe when my hair is blue...

4. And while we're on childhood experiences, I belonged to 4-H for over ten years. That's how I learned to sew, and believe me, the quilt police have nothing on those 4-H fair judges. I used to hide to avoid having to finish my sewing project. Funny, unlike playing piano, sewing is something I'm glad I learned how to do. Mitred corners, curved seams--piece of cake!

5. Almost twenty years ago, my husband and I built a "green" house. It is a super-insulated house, with very thick walls, and we have no furnace or air conditioning. It is designed to be heated by a Norwegian wood stove which is built in and looks like a fireplace, and some electric baseboard heat as a backup. We have 15 acres of woods so the wood for the stove is no problem, as long as Bob stays able to cut it. So far, he enjoys it, but down the road we will obviously have to make other plans. Unfortunately, 20 years ago, global warming was not on the horizon, and so our house is better suited for the cold northern Indiana winters of the early 80's than the hot summers of the present. The insulation and shading works well as long as nights stay cool, but with increasing nightime temperatures, there are times in the summer when it's uncomfortably warm. But I don't have to come "out of the basement" too much.

6. To borrow one from Laura, I also find TV boring. It seems to move slowly and the quality of the "look" (I guess "production values" is the correct term) doesn't make up for that, so I lose interest very quickly.

7. I used to be a voracious reader. I have two degrees in English and taught for almost thirty years, and I used to read for hours on end. Can't do that anymore. My mind has other agendas. Age? I hope not; maybe a passing phase.

There you are Laura, and anyone else who's interested. I think I'll pass on the tagging though. But please, someone pick it up. These things can be fun to read.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I have this piece I began in Jane Sassaman's class at the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show in March ready to quilt. I had an incredibly difficult time deciding on a border, considering that this one I settled on is extremely simple, even obvious actually. The creative process is a strange thing. Now I am debating about the little triangles I scattered in the background: whether to leave them, take them out, add more. Other than that, I like this, and definitely want to try something else using the technique. Everything is backed with fusible interfacing, which gives wonderful body to the top, making it easy to work with. Jane's book, The Quilted Garden, gives a good summary of the process. The class was one of the best experiences I've had as a quilter--a delight from start to finish.

I intend to keep the quilting simple, outlining and accenting the shapes (veins on the leaves, for example), probably with diagonal lines in the background.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Family Quilts

Since I don't have anything of my own work to show at this moment, I'm taking the opportunity to do something I've intended to do for quite a while, post some pictures of family quilts. My mother, grandmother, and my husband's mother and stepmother were all quilters, and I've inherited a collection. There are others that my mother still has, many of them in the real made-for-daily-use category, but some are interesting.

The first was made by my mother. It's hand pieced and hand quilted (of course--she still turns up her nose at anything else). The pattern is Dove in the Window, I think. I don't know when it was made, probably the 60's, but Mom always used scraps from clothing or from her stash, so the fabric could be any era. Mom's work isn't as good as the other two ladies here, but it's still nothing to be ashamed of.

The appliqued basket quilt was made by my mother-in-law, sometime in the 40's or 50's, I think. It was apparently from a kit. She did beautiful hand work. It's odd-- I used to think these colors were so weird, but they look fairly stylish now, thanks to some of the retro color schemes you see around.

The last one, and my favorite, was made by my father's mother. She was a real quilting star. My mother says she always bought fabric just for her quilts, very unusual at the time. Another thing about my grandmother's quilts is that she had a rather sophisticated eye for color and fabric and her quilts do not look at all like other quilts of the time. Although I guess red, white, and blue is fairly classic, that yellow separates it from the common herd, IMHO. If you click on the close up you can see the quilting stitches. There's an unfortunate stain in the upper right hand corner, but this quilt is still a treasure.

I still talk quilting with my mother although our tastes are very different, and I often think about my grandmother and mother in laws, wishing they were around to talk to also. Anyone who still has an older-generation quilting friend, appreciate it!

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Paris Morning

Life in Paris is not all croissants and cafes, foie gras and champagne. Sometimes you have to do the laundry. So I thought I'd share my walk through the streets to do this little chore, and show some not-typical shots. They aren't glamorous, but they're different, and so unlike life here that perhaps they'll be interesting.
Here's home: on one side of this church building on a corner of Blvd. St. Germain are flats the University rents to visiting students and faculty:

Here we go down Rue Jacob on a rainy Monday morning.

It's the day after Pentecost, a semi-holiday in France, so there aren't many people around. We're going all the way down the street and around the corner for several blocks. Rue Jacob is a fairly typical street in this part of Paris: a few hotels and cafes, lots of shops selling expensive jewelry and clothes, decorators, and art galleries. The street originally ran along the northern wall of the Abbey of St. Germain de Pres, which took up most of the land in the area until it was shut down during the French Revolution. Except for the church and the Abbot's Palace the remaining abbey buildings were torn down during Napoleon III's major urban renewal project in the 1860's.

This building predates the destruction of the Abbey, because according to the placque on the front, in this building in 1783 John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and representatives of Great Britain signed the Treaty of Paris ending the American Revolution and establishing the United States.

Now we see some glamor shops: sorry, pictures don't show too well.

Off to the right: Rue Echaude--this used to be the eastern wall of the Abbey. Obviously street widening did not happen here. There are more lovely expensive galleries and shops up there.

Here's the destination. See that little maroon sign? It says "Laverie" (laundry), but the windows are almost hidden by posters, and of course the garbage can in front for pick up doesn't help either. Two years ago, I came with precise written instructions from a friend about how to find this place, but I couldn't find it. I looked for a week, and then--there it was! I hope you can see why I had trouble. (No, it wasn't sideways--blame that on Blogger :))

Here's the inside view. This is it, in its entirety except for three chairs at the front. It takes a lot of patience, good manners, and "pardons" to manipulate laundry through this space. One pays at another machine in the front, not at the machine, which means more siddling back and forth.

After I put the laundry in, I usually went and bought a copy of the International Herald Tribune at this shop. Too picturesque, isn't it? Usually there are so many people around that you don't notice.

And then back home dodging some typical urban hazards:

This round-trip is almost a mile, and I carried laundry in my handy-dandy L.L. Bean tote bag. Then I usually went out again to do the grocery shopping, carrying groceries back the same way. Did I mention we lived on the third floor, no elevator? THAT'S why French women don't get fat.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


We arrived back in Indiana yesterday morning after a very uneventful flight, the best kind. There is much laundry and cleaning to be done, but I'm patient about that. Here are some pictures of Paris, all taken on my favorite place, the Pont des Beaux Arts. There are beautiful views from all directions: to the south the dome of the Academie de France (behind my husband), to the east Ile de la Cite with the spire of Notre Dame visible in the background and the Pont Neuf to the left and of course me in the foreground, and to the west the next bridge over the Seine (I think it's the Pont Royal) with the Musee D'Orsay on the left bank. To the north is the Louvre; somehow I don't seem to have picture of the outside of the Louvre, so here's the courtyard. From the bridge you would see the other side of the tower facing you.

The Pont des Beaux Arts is a footbridge, and on warm evenings it's full of people picnicing. Most of them are young, but not all. A great people watching spot, and fun to drink a bottle of wine too. As I said, not everyone there is young.

Next time, I'll try to post some "daily life" photos.