Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash


After reading Wiley Cash's novel The Last Ballad I wanted to read more of his books and bought A Land More Kind Than Home.

I sped through this Southern Gothic novel, its dark and unsettling sense of dread drawing my interest.

The details of place and culture are outside my scope of experience, but the insights into human nature are universal.

A con-man turned preacher takes over a church. Hidden from view by newspapers taped over the windows, worship involves faith healing, poison, fire, and snakes. Also hidden from view is the pastor's abuse of power over his parishioners and their blind trust that allows him full rein.

"It was like Mama was lost in the desert and had gotten so thirsty that she was willing to see anything that might make her feel better about being lost." from A Land More Kind Than Home

One woman dares stand up to the pastor and demands the children stay out of worship. She teaches them in Sunday School in her home. It is her way of protecting them. She knows first hand that the pastor is a dangerous false prophet and has singled her out as his enemy.

"People out in these parts can take hold of religion like it's a drug, and they don't want to give it up once they've got hold of it." from A Land More Kind Than Home

When a child witnesses the pastor's sexual abuse of power the pastor targets the boy as 'needing healing'; the child dies during worship. The law is brought in, a man who knows the pastor's criminal record: he once had a meth lab; now instead of drugs he is selling religion.

After the horrible conclusion, in which a kind of justice is dealt out, the community begins to heal.

"It's a good thing to see that people can heal after they've been broken, that they can change and become something different from what they were before. Churches are like that. The living church is made of people, and it can grow sick and break just like people can, and sometimes churches can die just like people died...A church can be healed, and it can be saved like people can be saved." from A Land More Kind Than Home

Cash was inspired by a true story. 

The title is from Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again:

"Something has spoken to me in the night, burning the tapers of the waning year; something has spoken in the night, and told me I shall die, I know not where. Saying: “To lose the earth you know, for greater knowing; to lose the life you have for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.Whereon the pillars of this earth are founded, toward which the conscience of the world is tending-a wind is rising, and the rivers flow.”

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Turned-Intos by Elizabeth Gordon


The Turned-Intos: Jane Elizabeth discovers the Garden Folk by Elizabeth Gordon was first published in 1920 by P. F. Volland in Great Britain. I have an American copy printed by Wise Book Company in 1935. The book is illustrated by Janet Laura Scott.

The book is dedicated to "children who love to work in gardens and who enjoy the big out-of-doors and the little friends who live there."
The Garden Folk mentioned are butterflies and insects, frogs and spiders, bees and hornets.

 Most of the full-page illustrations feature Jane Elizabeth in gardens.
  A few show Jane Elizabeth with her family or at home.


The cricket on the hearth harkens back to the Christmas story by Charles Dickens!
 Jane Elizabeth discovers a ladybug, below, while her cat looks on.
Jane Elizabeth stitching in the garden with her dollies looking on.
 Jane Elizabeth is not afraid of the spider.
 Jane Elizabeth and the honeybees.
 Jane Elizabeth in the cottage garden.
 And skipping through the fields after the butterflies.






This was meant to be a teaching book. Teaching aids include a vocabulary analysis and activities for each chapter.

Next week I will share the illustrations of the Garden Folk!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Vintage Sewing Patterns From My Past

In junior high, I had a required class in home sewing. We made an apron the Bishop Method and then an A-line skirt with darts and a back zipper. I chose to make a deep purple skirt. By the next year, I had outgrown it.

I really liked sewing and imagined making all my own clothing, just as I had dreamed of making Barbie doll clothes a few years before. Mom bought a used machine but she had trouble with it and nothing was made.

My mother-in-law was an addicted sewer. She was making all her own clothes, even pjamas and underwear! I taught myself to sew after my husband bought me a sewing machine for our first Christmas in 1972. While he studied in the evening, I kept busy with my Singer. 
One of my early projects was a snap front robe made with prequilted material.
Christmas 1973, me with our litter box trained pet rabbit.
Before he graduated I was making dresses, t-shirts, blouses, jeans, and skirts. I made leisure-suit coats and even a cassock for Gary! I learned by doing. My first sewing class was a gift when I graduated from university in 1978; I received a Stretch-and-Sew class voucher. I made a swimsuit.

I recently found a great resource for vintage patterns. It was fun identifying patterns I remember making.

This jumper pattern was one of my earlest projects. I made the short version in a yellow and purple acrylic big plaid. I loved the big pockets. I'm shocked there are no photos of me wearing it. I wore it every week to work with a full sleeve white blouse with a deep pointed collar.

Simplicity 5862; ©1973; Misses' Jumper in Two Lengths (Approximate Length of Short Jumper is 36"): The short jumper V. 1 and ankle length jumper V. 2 with bodice and skirt stitched to midriff has back zipper, shoulder straps and bias patch pockets.
I made several long sleeved smock tops with the pattern below. Actually, I wish I still had it. Those pockets are great!
C1973 3522 McCalls Smock Dress
McCall's 3522; ©1973; Misses Dress or Smock. Pullover dress or smock has puffed sleeves. Long sleeves gather into snapped cuffs. A, B, with drawstring in waistline casing has rick rack and eyelet or lace ruffling. B with Button trimmed front band or C with trimming has patch pockets.

These were the days of the 'leisure suit' and I made some coats for Gary, as well as ties, a bathrobe, and a cassock.
My husband in a leisure suit coat I made. 1973.


In 1978 I made a jacket similar to the green one in the middle on the above pattern. I bought a black and white tweed fabric at a designer fabric warehouse in Northeast Philadelphia. Gary wore the jacket when we picked up a vacuum cleaner we won at a local appliance store. I am wearing a woven plaid jacket I made. It had a belt, but it looks unbelted in this photo.



I remember owning this pattern.
I made this dress for my husband's graduation.

McCall's 3871; ©1973; Misses' and Junior Dress. High waisted, back zippered dress has puffed sleeves with elastic in casings, tie belt included in side seams. A, C has lower sleeves. A with lace trim, or B with lace ruffling has standing collar.
Not a good photo, but I made lots of T-shirts like I have on in the photo below,  taken on a trip to the Finger Lakes.


This top could be worn over a turtleneck. Once again...big pockets! I don't recall if I made this pattern or not, but I know I owned it.


Simplicity 6529; ©1974; Misses' Unlined Jiffy Jacket and Pants: The pants, without side seams, have elastic waistline casing and a back zipper. The top-stitched, unlined jacket, with front yoke and sleeves, has a front button closing, flapped patch pockets and elbow length kimono type sleeves wtih turn back cuffs.
Featured in Simplicity Fashion News, September, 1974
I made a short sleeved jacket with a matching skirt, here worn over a sleeveless shell. The print fabric had a bright green background!

The top on the far right on the pattern below is like one I made and embellished with the built-in stitches on my Bernina 830. I often wore it with bell bottom jeams when I was first attending Temple University.


I made this jumper and blouse around 1979. The blouse had a short stand-up collar and narrow cuffs. The dress was a wrap-around with a front and back panel that tied at the waist.
I wore this dress to class during my last semester at university. It had narrow pleats in the yoke.

Around 1980 I got this awful perm, so that dates this dress that I made. The photos were taken at Longwood Gardens in Chester Co, PA.
It had a buttoned bodice. I needed a class in how to adjust patterns to fit better since I was no longer a straight size.
I adored the Folkwear patterns and collected a few but the only one I made was this prairie dress. I wore it for Thanksgiving dinner.

I made this prairie skirt in a small blue and white check.
I loved, loved, loved this coat! The hood and deep pockets were so useful. I made it a herringbone woven fabric in brown and burgundy. 


When I found a patternless dress in a magazine I made it quite a few times. It made a good pregnancy dress. It used the width of the fabric for the skirt and top, cutting out a hole for the head. 
1987 at my baby shower
I made this maternity dress with a large color and huge bow. 
I wore this knit dress for our son's christening. It had dolman sleeves and a gathered waist.
Below, on the right, I am in a patternless outfit holding Chris in a shirt and overall I made that had bunnies on the bib. I enjoyed making lots of clothes for my baby and toddler.

I made this jacket for our son several times. It closed with velcro.

I made this paisley dress in the early 1990s, one of the last items I sewed for myself.
 A short set I made our son. He would chose fabrics.

By this time I was making quilts instead of clothing.