Monday, September 30, 2013

1841 Graham's Lady's and Gentleman's Magazine, Fashions and Autography

Many years ago we used to vacation at Maine's Acadia National Park, camping out of a VW Super Beetle. My husband somehow managed to get out our camping needs into that car-- tent, Coleman stove and lantern, cooking gear, hiking boots, and some times we even took along a dachshund!

We liked to look at old book stores we found along the way. After a course in Victorian Studies, which included researching the magazines that flourished in that time, I also enjoyed finding bound magazines.

One Maine shop had a sale, and I picked up two volumes, one being a Graham's Magazine from 1841. It included a two part article by Edgar Allen Poe on autographs, or handwriting analysis. Poe offered  comments on the autographs of 100 famous men of his time. I was not a 'believer' but was a Poe fan. Poe explained that the article was meant to offer autographs of the literati, first as indicative of their character, second as of general interest, and lastly for a means for providing some gossip!

Washington Irving was deemed to be slovenly and unremarkable, which Poe thought was a result of easy fame. I admit I also believe that explosive fame and success too often leads to a writer's being less careful, the publisher less interested in editing, because sales are guaranteed regardless.


Poe thought that both William Cullen's Bryant and John Greenleaf Whittier 'had a clerk's hand. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow showed 'the force and vigor' evident in  his writing .But...Poe also thought his work derivative and unoriginal, while still being proportioned and elegant.

The best part of the volume is the hand colored, Mezzotinto and steel engraving fashion plates.The men all look like Prince Albert. And the women a lot like Queen Victoria.

January 1841

November 1841

September 1841

October 1841

July 1841

August 1841

Also needlework color plates appear.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Answered Prayers Are Not Always Welcome

Or, The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings, written by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey and illustrated by Dorothy Grider.

Another childhood book I found in a box! When I was a girl a family friend worked in the schools and when the library discarded old books he brought them to the house and I had first pick. They were truly battered and worn, but I did not care a bit.

I loved this book. Perhaps for the illustrations as much as anything. I don't know that I truly made it's message a part of my life, for I have spent a lot of time over the years wishing I had what someone else had.

White Rabbit is well beloved by his mother and the neighborhood denizens, but every neighbor he meets has some attribute he wishes he had--the squirrel's bushy tail, the porcupine's back full of bristles, the duck's red rubbers. Mr Ground Hog tells White Rabbit about a wishing well, and off he hops to find it. That is when he sees a red bird, and wishes again, this time for red wings.

Well, he gets red wings. Quite excited, White Rabbit takes off to show his friends.

But no one recognizes him. (This reminds me of Little Galoshes, a Golden Book about a farm boy who always wears his galoshes, and when one day he forgets them the farm animals don't recognize him). Even White Rabbit's mother rejects him, and he is forced to sleep in a hole in a tree that is full of burrs.

Luckily, Mr Ground Hog advises White Rabbit to return to the wishing well and wish the wings off again. It works, and White Rabbit is accepted by his mother and friends.

These old stories for children were vehicles for teaching life lessons and seem didactic by today's sensibilities. Modern books for children are also teaching moments, but use real life experiences instead of cute fluffy animals.

I kinda like the fluffy animals myself.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Star Girl by Henry Winterfield

I was clearing out boxes of stuff when I found a box labeled Nancy's Childhood Books. I opened it up and found my Walter Farley horse stories, Black Beauty, and Marguerite Henry horse stories. Also Star Girl by Henry Winterfield.

Actually, the copy was found when our son was young, and I snatched it up because I had loved the book so much as a girl. Turns out a lot of people in my generation grew up loving this book and the high list prices found on used book sites attest to the high demand for a rare book.

Before Encounters With a Third Kind, before E.T., Star Girl is about an alien from outer space who is stranded on the Earth, and is found and befriended by children. The kids have a lot of adventures, partly because the girl, Mo, may speak the language but she does not understand the culture. And partly because the naive kids proudly announce they have found a girl who had fallen from a space ship, which of course gets the adults pretty worked up.

Mo is a beautiful girl with huge violet eyes and fine blond hair. At 87 years old, she appears to be 7 or 8 in human years. Her world is one of peace and plenty. The dissension among the children upsets her. She does not understand the concept that food must be purchased, or that bad behavior is punished. In Mo's world the children learn from glowing screens, and they love education! The only adult who treats them kindly is the librarian, a white-haired lady who truly loves children.

The kids need to get Mo to an open field where her father is expected to pick her up that night. They travel through woods and swamp, and just make it. Mo's planet turns out to be Venus. The round spaceships gather over the open field, where the adults, searching for this missing children, also gather. Mo's father, a tall man dressed in a human suit, thanks the children for their assistance to his daughter. He offers Mo's diamond necklace to the boy who led the group and cared for Mo. It will raise his parents from their poverty.

The author was a Jew who left Nazi Germany for America. He wrote books for adults, and several for children. The illustrator was Fritz Wegner and the translator was Kyrill Schabert.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Met our Rescued Shiba Inu Family Members!

On September 9, 2009 we adopted a Shiba Inu who had spent her first seven or so years in a puppy mill. She likely had six to thirteen liters of puppies, all the time living in a cage with little socialization. When the rescue organization obtained her she was overweight and mangy.

She was placed with a foster family, who named her Shika, which means Deer Face. She had five other dogs  in the house, and two people who lovingly started the process of her adjustment to her new life. She had no understanding of the basic principles most dogs know. She was used to fences and living untouched. Spatial relations were a mystery. She would sneak all the dog toys into her kennel and hide them. Her tail was never up. She would follow at the back of the group when treats were given. 

After a year, she learned to lean into a caressing hand. She started to learn how to play. She was adopted out, but the people soon returned her because she would not bond with the man in the family. Men frightened her, as did loud noises and thunderstorms. Her Foster Family doubted she would ever be adoptable. 

After we lost our Kili, who was a member of our family for nearly 17 years, we waited three years before we decided to find another dog. We wanted an older dog, and wanted to adopt a dog who had not had the charmed life that Kili had enjoyed. We wanted to 'give back' to the breed. 

I searched online and when we saw Suki's  photo decided she was meant for us. The Foster Family warned us that she was a special needs case but we knew we had love and patience. 

This is how she looked when she came to us. She preferred corners and hardly came out, and had little understanding of our attentions. She had an almost feral look in her eyes. The changes sent her backwards for a while. She was easily frightened, and crawled under a bed during a storms. 

We named her Suki, or Beloved. My laundry room was in the basement, as well as my quilt room. Suki became very reliant on my presence and did not like to be separated from me. One day she taught herself to go and down the stairs! She was so amazed at herself that for several days she went up and down the steps over and over.

We decided to foster another rescue dog that was more adjusted to humans, hoping the friendship would help Suki. We got Kara in January. He was brought to Michigan from Missouri. When he arrived he was in terrible shape, thin and dirty, with an ear infection and raw legs where he had bit at himself during allergy season. Still, he wagged his tail at us and he was loving and patient.

We spent $500 in tests and vet fees to get him healthy. Kara, who we called Bo, was a feisty and self assured dog who had spent nine years in a puppy mill. He had been in a cage for two weeks after his rescue, and we had to teach him everything, from house training to coming back in after we let him out at night. He would make a nest in the snow under a bush! When he realized he could sleep indoors in a warm bed, he was eager to rush back in! He loved to sit on our lap, or cuddled next to us. Kara was a runner, and could dig under or climb the chain link fence. Once he manage to get loose during a rain storm. We found him blocks down a busy road, but happily he jumped into the car when we called him.

We moved and the new house had a large walk in closet. We had thrown a lot of blankets in there and Kara found it and the dogs made it their kennel!We let them have the space. Kara and Suki loved to run in the large field behind the house, and Suki learned finally, to play.Their best friend was Jack, and every day the dogs met up for a play time.

Everyone loved Kara and wanted to adopt him. Literally, everyone. But he was in the last stages of kidney failure. Sadly after nine months we had to let him take that walk over the Rainbow Bridge. It was devastating. Suki was so horrified by Kara's decline, and so depressed that she had lost her buddy. So we adopted a dog through Safe Harbor Rescue in Vermillion, Ohio. We named her Kamikaze, Divine Wind, and the name fits her perfectly! She was in very good condition, but had recurrent cysts from standing on a wire cage all her life.

Kamikaze is quite possessive and pushy, and mostly Suki just lets her have her way. But after a year and a half together they are quite good friends.

Suki often comes up to me for attention now. After being fed, or walked, or after a good play she loves to sit and have me scratch her. I often have two dogs at my feet waiting for some loving! Now Suki has a big smile on her face and her tail is held high and often wags. She sleeps through storms, and could care less when strangers are in the house. Suki is now a "Real Dog".

Monday, September 23, 2013

One Hundred and One Famous Poems

"Preface: This is the age of science, of steel--of speed and the cement road, The age of hard faces and hard highways. Science and steel demand a medium of prose. Speed requires only the look--the gesture. What need then, for poetry?  
Great need!"
The summer I turned eleven my family moved from Tonawanda, NY to Michigan. For several months we lived with my grandparents while my folks looked for a new house. All my possessions, save for my Barbie dolls, were in boxes in my grandparents' garage. I was a great reader and perused my grandfather's books for something to read. I found One Hundred and One Famous Poems and read it so often that my grandfather gave it to me.
My grandfather's bookplate

The poems entertained me, taught me to love language, and extolled traditional American values of home, country, initiative, and community. I learned history. I learned about experiences very unlike my own.

My earliest favorite was Eugene Field's The Duel. Otherwise known by its protagonists, the Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat, who "side by side on the table sat." They started a fight that upset the Dutch Clock and the Chinese plate. Next morning there was no trace of dog or cat. "The truth about the cat and pup is this: they ate each other up!"

Now, if that does not warn against the horrible end of those who engage in senseless fights! (find the poem at

The Spider and The Fly by Mary Howitt is a warning to beware falling victim to flattery. The spider entices a fly into "the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy" with "fine and thin sheets." When that does not work, the spider talks about the fly's 'robes of green and purple and eyes like the diamond bright.' She finally is seduced and enters...never to be seen again. The dear children are then warned to take a lesson and "unto an evil counselor close heart, and ear, and eye."

I loved the story poems. Especially Alfred Noye's The Highwayman, a romantic tale of the robber who loves Bess, the landlords' dark-eyed daughter. When the Redcoats tie Bess up and wait for the highwayman to return to her, she warns him by fingering the rifle trigger, sacrificing her own life. I adored the language of the poem: "The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees, the moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,/the road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor."

The language of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven was also gorgeous. "It was in the bleak December, and each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor". "And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain /Thrilled me--filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before." I soon discovered a complete set of Poe on my grandfather's shelves, and ended up taking them home permanently as well.
Edgar Allan Poe quilt by Nancy A. Bekofske
I suffered terrible nostalgia and homesickness for over two years after our move. Out To Old Aunt Mary's by James Whitcomb Riley allowed me to indulge my own fond remembrances of a childhood home so recently lost. He spoke of willow trees, which had surrounded my own home.
my old home with the willow tree

Little Boy Blue by Eugene Field describes the vacant chair and waiting toys of the absent boy, who I did not realize was dead when I first read it; I thought he had grown up as I was growing up--quite against my wishes. The poem's sweet nostalgia transported me to my own future. And John Greenleaf Whittier's Barefoot Boy speaks of the lost freedom of childhood, lost to the "mills of toil."

And the volume warned about the adult responsibilities and horrors that awaited.

Like War. Did the Light Brigade also  have a 'rendezvous with death' when they charged forward? Was their death gentle, as Alan Seeger wrote? This was a world of poppies in Flanders' fields, and of grass-covered graves in Gettysburg so that people asked "what place is this" and did not remember the violence it had seen.

The suffering of the poor in Thomas Hood's Song of the Shirt, "with fingers weary and worn" a women in rags sewed "in poverty, hunger, and dirt." "It is not linen you're wearing bout,/But human creature's lives!"
And immediately follows Shakespeare's "The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven."

What is our purpose on earth? Abou Ben Adhem asks the Angle if his name was in the book of those who loved the Lord and was told, "Nay, not so." He asks to "write me as one that loved his fellow men" and lo! his name led the list of those whom God had blessed.

I was taught social consciousness.

The "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" may have given Hamlet pause. But every other poem condemns his indecision. "It isn't the fact you're dead that counts,/But only, how did you die?" asks Edmund Vance Cooke. "It's how did you fight and why' and "how did you take" the troubles life throws at you. "Come up with a smiling face, to lie there--that's disgrace."

"Be strong!" admonishes Maltbie Davenport Babcock, "we are not here to play, to dream, to drift: we have hard work to do and loads to life. Shun not the struggle--face it; 'tis God's gift."

"Taint no use to sit an' whine," Frank Stanton encourages in Keep a-Goin, "drain the sweetness from the cup.

"Yours is the Earth and everything in it!" Rudyard Kipling cries. "If you can dream, and not make dreams your master."

"Act--act in the living Present!" proclaims Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in Psalm of Life. "We can makes our lives sublime/ And, departing leave behind us/Footprints on the sands of time!"

Natural beauty was extolled in these poems.

"Poems are made by fools like me/But only God can make a tree." Joyce Kilmer will always be remembered for this simple poem.  "What does he plant who plants a tree?" ashed Henry Cuyler Bummer in The Heart of the Tree. "He plants the glory of the plain; He plants the forest's heritage, the harvest of a coming age;/ The joy that unborn eyes shall see--"

William Wordsworth "wandered lonely as a cloud" and comes across "a crowd a host of golden daffodils" which like Shelley's skylark taught him gladness and "unbodied joy."

The book is tattered with bent edges and the paper cover of the book has separated from the spine. Yet it is one of my most treasured possessions, for it brought me to an early love of poetry.

The 1922 edition of  One Hundred and One Famous Poems from The Cable Company is found at the Library of Congress and can be downloaded in many formats.

Caohagan Quilt

My friend Kathryn who attended the Grand Rapids AQS show with me last month ordered a Caohagan quilt and she brought it over to show me. Caohagan is a small island in the Phillipines. In 1996 Junko Sakiyama started teaching quilt making. Today one third of the islands income is generated from the sales of quilts! And the proceeds go directly to the quilt makers.

 The lower half of the quilt was made up of this lovely floral tree surrounded by cats, birds and butterflies.

 The top half pictured the village houses, palm trees, birds and more cats.

The quilt maker's embroidered signature.

Embroidered outlined the animals and gave details to the elements.

The backing fabric. 

A photo of the quilt maker Ayen and her quilt.

Find out how to order quilts at

When you visit their website you can choose which quilt you want to purchase. Kathryn said it was nicely shipped, smelled great, and arrived quite quickly.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My Favorite Season

I have always loved fall. I love the colors. When I was a girl my family would take a fall trip from Tonawanda NY to the Allegheny Mountains to Putt's farm.  I don't even know how we knew the Putts. But I loved the colored trees on the mountain sides, orange, red, yellow, and brown.

I love the cool nights, great for sleeping. I feel invigorated in the fall. When I was a girl, I loved that September meant returning to school. I loved the paper and pencils and books, learning new things, being with all the other kids.

Here are some of my favorite autumn pics, taken Up North when visiting my dad's and brother's cabins.

Lake St Helen

My brother's cabin outside of West Branch, MI

I made this quilt years after seeing red leaves against a brilliant blue sky when walking in Hillsdale, MI. The image stayed in my mind. I used hand dyed fabrics, bleach and pen for details.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Quilting Projects Going Slow...

I have my 'Green Heroes' quilt on the quilt frame but have hardly touched it all summer. The frame is set up in the dining room, which is basically my husband's home office/open area since we gave away our dining room set before we moved. It never fit in in the mid-century parsonages with no formal dining rooms. There is a radio, but no television. I could use books on tape while quilting, but listening to reading out loud puts me to sleep. And I am disgusted by my quilt stitches. Its been too long since I used the frame, and my fingers are not what they used to be. I am quilting a background to the portraits that represent their areas of interest.

I have been working on a difficult hand applique project started by Esther Aliu on her Yahoo groups page. Love Entwined is Esther's pattern based on a quilt pictured in Averil Colby's book Patchwork Quilts, a 1790 wedding coverlet. You can find out more at her blog:

I have done a lot of applique over the years, and prefer the needle turn method. Perhaps because I am basically lazy! I know how to use freezer paper templates, or how to do any number of applique methods to create perfect pieces. Still, I persisted in going along in this disorganized way and the piece looks too embarrassing to share with the hundreds of gals world wide who are making this quilt. The photo gallery is full of amazing, and amazingly different, interpretations of this pattern. I chose a great green background, and am using bright fabrics from my stash, many with a polka dot theme. I may finish the center piece and then start over, doing things the right way this time. Next up are floral baskets in the corners. Then there are seven borders, four with applique...What was I thinking?

Life has been throwing me curve balls lately, plus I started the etsy store and am trying to prepare more patterns for sale. I have books and collectibles I need to sell or get rid of, as part of downsizing to fit into our retirement home. And I am working with a contractor to upgrade the energy efficiency of the retirement home, which means lots of research about things I never knew about, or had to know about since I have spent my married life in a church parsonage! So instead of playing with fabric, I am learning about hot water heaters and fiberglass entry doors! Plus my husband had a bacterial infection, with 40 minute trips to town to see the doctor. The doctor gave him an antibiotic and he soon was  feeling better. And then I found our dog had fleas! This is a BIG house with all carpeting on both floors! That is a lot of vacuuming.

I just want to go into my sewing room and play. I have some great handkerchiefs I want to make into my collage wall hangings. At least I am good at that. I need a confidence booster right now!And most of all, the regenerative peace and strength that comes from the creative process!

Choosing embellishments for this basket of flowers hankdkerchief I bought recently on eBay. Sigh. Must get back to it.