Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Book Meme

Meggie posted this on her blog earlier in the week and then Bookfool posted it today. I'm not sure whose list it is but it looked like fun and I thought I'd join in. It seems to be such a strange mixture of current and past best sellers, Oprah books, with the odd classic thrown in. I'm not aware of Margaret Laurence, and two of hers are mentioned. Is she worth looking into? I've put a star next to the ones that I would reread.

Look at the list of books below:
* Bold the ones you’ve read
* Italicize the ones you want to read
* Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.
* If you are reading this, tag, you’re it!

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)*
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)*
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)*
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien) I usually reread this series every few years
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry) Definitely worth reading
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown) One Dan Brown was enough
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving) Tried and abandoned
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)*
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)*
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)* see Tolkien above
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) I reread this many, many times in high school
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)*
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)*
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant) On my to be read someday list
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible (part of it, anyway)
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy) Actually on my bedside table waiting
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)*
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)*
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver) In the pile of books I'll get to someday
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)*
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)*
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)*
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy) high school, sophomore year--never again!
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)* one of the best books I've ever read
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) in French, in high school, oh boy!
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje) also on the to be read pile
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)*
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)* I just finished rereading this and it is still wonderful
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)* one of the finest children's books ever written
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)* I wore out my paperback copy in high school
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)*
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)*
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)*
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce) Someday...

Strange list. If you see anything on there I simply must read, let me know.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Quick Finish

Once I started on this today, it all came together quite quickly. The top, I mean. I haven't even begun to think about quilting it. I'm just glad to move it from the tops-in-progress list to the tops-to-be-quilted list. No telling when the quilting will happen.

This is my student teacher's last week with me. She has already returned the reins to my hands since this last week she will be doing observations of other teachers in the building and finishing her paperwork. She moves on to middle school after next week. Eighth grade special education.

Say a prayer for her.

The guild round robin is going to be fun. I've been looking through some of my books for a border for the block I received. The colors are way out of my typical comfort zone (lilac and soft green), but I picked up some fat quarters and I'm having fun trying different things out. I'll post a picture when I have something more definite.

(BTW--someone else made the same square as I did, in different colors--great minds think alike!)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Quilt Guild Night

I feel like the amazing bionic woman with my new glasses, although my husband is, I'm afraid, getting very bored with me saying, "Hey, I can see those trees (cars, people, houses, etc.) perfectly now!" Anyway, I will quit boring the daylights out of everybody and just say that it is really, really nice to be able to see clearly once more. I have the deepest sympathy for anyone who has problems with their eyesight; my sight is my most precious sense.

Coincidentally, my Amazon order arrived the day after my glasses. I bought myself a copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. I had ordered it for a reread after seeing part of the movie on television. This was one of those books that we all read in junior high school (another was Gone With the Wind). The library copy was always hard to obtain, maybe because the book was so long, maybe because once someone started to read it, everyone else just had to read it too. We had a bit of herd mentality in junior high.

It's always interesting to reread a book after so long. So many things in it went right over my head as a rather naive thirteen year old! How could I have missed that one of the aunts worked in a condom factory? Did I even know what condoms were at that age? I can't remember. What makes this book so fascinating is that it tells what it was like to grow up in a tenement in Brooklyn, New York during the early part of the century. For the most part it is matter-of-fact and unsentimental. People were hungry. Money was scarce. The streets were mean. People did what they had to do in order to survive, but once in a while life could be sweet. Rereading this reminded me of Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt) and also The Dollmaker (Harriette Arnow). And for some reason, the Little House on the Prairie books. It's definitely worthwhile reading.

Tonight I'm headed off to quilt guild. I'm passing out part two of the mystery quilt directions and we're having a program on quilted postcards. I've seen so many of the postcards on various blogs, but I'm not sure what they are or how to make them. One of the presenters does them quite extensively I'm told, so it's sure to be an interesting meeting.

We are also starting a round robin tonight. This is our first (we are only about a year and a half old). Everyone who wants to participate is supposed to make a square, and then the squares will be exchanged and borders added to them. We are also supposed to include a journal so that those who work on the quilts will be able to communicate with each other.

This little star is only 8 inches, but I wanted something small because I'm probably going to end up hand quilting whatever I get and I don't want to have to spend the rest of my life on it. My inspiration fabric is the floral on the right. It was part of the fabric collection for last summer's shop hop. I helped out at the LQS and cut hundreds of fat quarters of this and the other fabric for the block kits. I didn't buy any more than this fat quarter, but I love the combination of reds, blues, and yellows in this. I'm not sure if we're supposed to add our own fabrics to the boxes with the blocks, but I had little scrips and scraps that I thought might go with it, so I'm putting those in.

I'm kind of excited to see what happens with this. We have some really experienced quilters in our guild along with a couple of newbies. All the results are going to be interesting, I'm sure.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I Can See You!

I FINALLY, got my new glasses today. I can actually see again. Everything is in focus again--what a relief!

Okay, this is the beginning of a rant, so if you don't want to read it, skip down to the double asterisks and I'll never know.

Two years ago I went to the eye doctor to get a new prescription for glasses. My problem is pretty much the same as anyone my age--I can't see well close-up and my distance vision is poor. There is a field somewhere in between where things are pretty sharp, but it keeps shrinking. About ten years ago I started wearing bifocals and I loved them. It only took me a few days to get used to finding the "sweet spot" where whatever I was looking at was in focus. I'd never had a problem getting glasses I felt were working for me.

Little did I know.

Eye doctor #1 (you already know where this is headed) gave me a thorough exam and a prescription for new glasses. I got the prescription filled, looked through the glasses, and immediately knew that something was very wrong. Everything had a halo around it. Kind of neat as a special effect, but not so cool when you are trying to find toothpaste at the grocery store.

So I went back to doctor #1 who told me that the prescription hadn't been filled properly and to take them back. Which I did. Then I took the prescription to another optician. But when I put the glasses on, I still couldn't see very well. Anything that was lit with overhead light still had a halo. You try picking out peanut butter at the grocery store when all the jars seem to glow. So I went back to doctor #1 who gave me prescription #2. Still bad. My distance vision was better without the glasses than with them.

At this point the optician decided (after having to eat two pairs of glasses--due to their guarantee) that he would like his optometrist to have a crack at it. Prescription #3 had even worse distance vision.

After checking around with friends, I tried doctor #2, who assured me that he could get the prescription right. I was beginning to feel like a stereotypical middle-aged neurotic at this point. Why couldn't I see? What was wrong with ME?

Doctor #2 gave me a new prescription--#4. Everything at a distance was slightly blurred and my close-up field of vision didn't seem strong enough. Reading was difficult. Sewing was difficult. I didn't like it. I went back to doctor #2 and got prescription #5.

Prescription #5 was, I guess, the best of a bad lot. The halo effect had vanished (thankfully), but the distance vision was bad. Even though I am supposed to wear glasses while driving, I usually took them off because I could see so much better without them. I didn't really like the close-up either. It was hard to see the clues in my crossword puzzles, reading was hard, and I needed a magnifying glass to see small details in my sewing. I began to wear my husband's glasses to quilt with. He has way more problems with his eyes than I do and he wears a much stronger prescription.

I didn't take prescription #5 back and complain, though, because I was pretty sure that it wouldn't get any better. And I could see (more or less). And I was beginning to believe that I WAS becoming one of those middle-aged neurotic women.

So after two years, I finally sucked it up and made another appointment (doctor #3) to have a check-up and get a new prescription.

What a difference! I can actually see again. Distance, close-up, it's all good. It's all in focus.

Doctor #3, I love you!

**The rant ends here. Thanks for listening.

I wanted to give a shout-out to Jessica at Littleshika for her recipe for green beans, called fasolakia. Just blog on over and check out her archive for the recipe. We tried it the other night with lamb chops and it was great. Her quilts are pretty nice, too.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Inching Along

I am starting to feel a little better after a very restful weekend. I spent most of my time lying on the bed paging through magazines and watching television. Very little quilting stuff got done, I'm afraid.

I have worked on the posy quilt some more, but I am running out of the muslin. eeek! I spent part of this afternoon debating whether or not to just break down and buy more--it won't match exactly, but hopefully the color difference won't be too obvious if I just use it around the edges.

The log cabin has been sitting patiently on the wall for the past few weeks waiting for inspiration to hit. I think I have a pretty good idea where I'm going with this now. I've got some of the border strips cut, and I'm piecing some more strips, so we'll see how that works out.

The rather odd winter weather we've been having continued today, with temperatures rising into the 50's. Contrast that with the weekend when we had more snow and temperatures in the 20's.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What Happened To This Week?

So today's what, Thursday?

I started feeling sick Monday afternoon and by the time school was out all I wanted to do was go home and sink into bed. I ended up missing two days of work, something I never do. All I did for those two days was watch daytime television and nap. I didn't even feel good enough to pick up a book which is saying something for me.

And just for the record, I don't want to know anything more about Anna Nicole. Thank you. But, no.

We missed out on some of the spectacular weather most of the rest of the midwest and northeast received, but it's still cold here with patchy ice all over the place. We had RAIN instead of snow. When the temperatures dropped it froze within the hour. I don't think it's been above freezing since.

I'd like to thank everyone who stopped by and commented the past few days. It's so wonderful to get feedback. I'm trying to get back to everyone, but it might take me a while.

Tonight, after my first day back at work, I'm going to bed with my new issue of Love of Quilting to dream of quilts yet unpieced.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Done and done, as we say around here! I finally finished this last night. It is hand pieced and hand quilted, and I've been working on it on and off for about four years. I have to keep reminding myself that since I began working on it I have also pieced and quilted three baby quilts, pieced several tops, finished a mystery quilt, made the butterfly challenge piece, and worked on several other things. This has always been my stand-by project, worked on when I didn't have anything more pressing since I always intended it to live on the back of the love seat it is now resting on.

I got the pattern for the feathered star from Measure the Possibilities with Omnigrid by Nancy Johnson-Srebro, just about the first quilting book I ever bought. I use this book all the time because it has rotary cutting directions for just about any shape. The rest of the design is mine--I love the little feathers in the border. It measures about 46 in square. The fabric came from Hancock's (not Hancock's of Paducah) which is a chain fabric store like Jo-Ann's. I fell in love with the fabric first and bought a yard of each before I even knew what I was going to use it for. It is some of the first civil war reproduction fabric I bought. One Sunday afternoon I decided to try a feathered star and this fabric just seemed right for it.

It's really difficult to get good pictures of the quilting on such a dull day, but you can see some of it here. I really wanted to try out some fancy quilting in the open areas. In the red border I stippled, following the lines of the print on the fabric, but it won't show up in the photos.
I quilted big smiles in the four light triangles at each corner because I was so happy it was DONE!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Fabric Dreams

Earlier this week I ordered these:

from Hancock's of Paducah on line in order to be able to fussy cut 60 degree diamonds to make these:

which I have been admiring for, oh let's see, two years now. This is the March 2005 issue. The quilt was made by Kim McLean of Lindfield, New South Wales, Australia. It is a re-creation of a quilt in Annette Gero's book Historic Australian Quilts, originally made by Mary Josephson in 1850. Since I love working with hexes and diamonds, I thought I would give fussy cutting a try. Sometime. Anyway, I now have the tool to do it with.

What I didn't bargain for was that Hancock's would helpfully include a nice fat catalog with the order. Oh my gosh. The fabrics! The colors! The patterns! All weekend long I have been carrying the catalog around with me, dog-earing the pages of fabrics I just can't live without. There's a lot in there I can't live without.

I was finally able to get a picture of my failed log cabin border. It is from a Thimbleberries book, I'm not sure which one. My teaching next door neighbor brought in a couple of the books last month when she was trying to decide which quilt she wanted to make. Anyway, this pattern is called Sticks and Stones. Since I already had all those strips anyway, I thought, why not? The trouble is that the "stones" pop a little too much, and distract the eye away from the center. I still like the pattern, though...and I do have enough strips..or I will when I cut some more...and a new project is born.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Busy Week

I'd like to thank everyone who has been reading and commenting on this blog. Over the past couple of months I've come to feel that I am part of community of very creative people. It's wonderful (and still totally amazing to me) that people all over the world communicate this way!

It's been a busy week. I began to realize that I was overdue for a visit to the eye doctor--not being able to see my quilt stitches was the first clue (and they're not THAT small)--so yesterday I went for a check-up. After a very thorough exam the doctor decided to increase my prescription. It's not that unexpected for my age, and everything else looked good, so that was a relief. My new glasses should be ready next week, so I won't have to strain to see what I am doing. The last time I went to get new glasses was a real nightmare--three different eye exams and I don't even remember how many different prescriptions before I finally settled on something that wasn't perfect, but that I could live with. This time I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everything will work out.

I think I posted last week that I had about a week's worth of quilting left to do on the feathered star. That would have been right if I had been able to actually work on it consistently, but other things took up some time. Anyway, I am within a day or two of finishing the quilting, and the binding will be a breeze because I can cut the strips for it as soon as the quilting is done. So far it lies pretty flat, so I'll try to be very careful in the binding to keep it that way.

I've also been working on the posy quilt, and I'm even thinking of making it larger. Since the posies sit so close to each other I'm not using as much of the muslin as I was and I may be able to stretch another row or two out of what I have left. I love the soft, pastel colors.

The log cabin has been sitting on the design wall all week, but no sudden inspiration has hit about what kind of a border would look good. I had an idea I might use a quilt pattern I saw in a Thimbleberries book, but I just don't like it as a border for this one. My camera batteries just ran out so I can't post a picture right now. The funny thing is that I went ahead and made several strip sets to test out how it would look on the border, and since I'm not going to use it, I'm about 1/3 of the way through another quilt! I might just take Molly's advice and not even use a border. That way I could be done with it and move on to something else.

Tomorrow will be wild at work. We will have three teachers and a special education instructional assistant out for illness and another four are supposed to have substitutes so that they can do some professional planning! Our principal is gone for the day too. Thank heavens it's going to be Friday.

Thanks for coming by, and please feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, February 2, 2007

I Found a Treasure

We had exactly the same amount of new snow this morning as yesterday, but schools were open, no delays even.

This morning while I was down in the teacher's workroom running some copies I came across a little paperback gem called all the small poems and fourteen more by Valerie Worth. We keep a shelf of children's books there which are meant to be used by the teachers for various reading and writing lessons. I'm usually on the run when I have to make copies, but this morning since I had time (have I mentioned my very excellent student teacher?) I took a look.

Worth's poems are short, sometimes just one or two words per line, but each one is sharp and perceptive. The poems are about mundane things: lions, fireworks, mosquitoes, slugs. But in reading each one you can feel and see the object she is describing. Here is one:


Such a
Box of
With the
Five senses,
The seven
Seas, the
Four winds
And corners,
All fitted
Exactly in.

Each poem is accompanied by a simple pen and ink drawing by Natalie Babbitt.

I love that image--"bountiful box of tricks"!

I felt as though I had found a treasure right there next to the copying machine.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Just a Little Snow

I had a very fine day today because it was a SNOW DAY! Job dedication notwithstanding, I love snow days. You look out the window at 6:00 a.m., see a little snow, begin to hope, turn on the T.V. and see the magic words: CLOSED! You then retrace your steps to the bedroom, slide into bed (which is still toasty warm), turn over, and slip back into dreamland. Guilt-free dreamland--the very best kind. Snow days are a surprise gift from the universe.

So it's been a day of sleeping late, a little sewing, a little blogging, and a little playing. I mean, what else can you do with an unexpected day off?

And the best news is that more snow is forecast for tonight!