Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Last Quit of 2013

My friend and her son lost their beloved dog to cancer this month. I made a small quilt based on my friend's favorite photograph of her son and their dog, Zorro.

I used fused applique, machine quilting, and a sheer net overlay to soften the image, the way our memory softens the harsh angles leaving us with the beloved ideal.

I hope that next year I get more quilts finished than started, lol. And I have read over 50 books this year but only blogged about a few.

My big accomplishments this year included having my quilt "I Will Lift My Voice Like a Trumpet" in two American Quilt Society shows, starting an etsy store, Rosemont Needle Arts, which I have been lax about promoting and adding to, and working harder on my blog. And I joined Esther Aliu's Yahoo group to make the Love Entwinned 1790s applique quilt.

We also have been preparing our retirement house with new doors, a new front window, programmable thermostat, LED light fixtures, insulation in attic and basement, and the purchase of a new refrigerator. Also a replaced garage door opener, painting of the family room, new drapes for the family room, and some other minor items. Next year: washer and dryer and water heater and landscaping issues. We also have fun researching ideas for the kitchen upgrade and flooring options. Somehow this table I got at bargain prices has to fit into the kitchen plan!

I hope your year has had its successes and accomplishments. And that 2014 brings exciting and new experiences, books to read, and quilts to make and success in all your endeavors!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Michigan 101: Winter Wonderland

Some decades ago the State of Michigan used the motto "Water Winter Wonderland." The state really is a wonderland of water, and well winter offers lots to do with skiing, snowmobiles, ice fishing, and cross country skiing.

Of course my husband and I consider winter activities to include a book, a quilt, and a cup of hot tea. And if we have a nice picture window, we look out and think, "SO GLAD to be inside!" One parsonage was in the woods, and the view could be quite nice in winter.

The shoveling part is not so nice, especially when no snow blower is provided. We lived for a time next to a parking lot and they plowed the snow into a huge pile next to our driveway.

They say in Michigan that if you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes and it will change. One spring it decided to snow when the tulips were just up!

My brother loves the outdoors, regardless of the weather. He takes wonderful photographs. The first photo is from Clear Springs near Montague, MI. The next is a Sandhill Crane at Kensington Metro Park outside of Metro Detroit.

Make no doubt about it, Michiganders know how to enjoy the Winter Wonderland.

St Nicholas And His Aeroplane

A Year With The Fairies by Anna M. Scott and illustrated by M. T. Ross, published in 1914

Jack Frost
Elfin pictures on the pane
Mean Jack Frost has come again;
Lace and ferns and vines and flowers,
Snow-capped peaks and fairy bowers.

Castles gleaming opalescent,
Rivers flowing iridescent;
Jewels set in filigree,
All in crystal fantasy.

Lady Winter clothed in ermine
On the North Wind gallops in,
Over crystal bridges bright,
Over carpets snowy white.

Winter Sports
On sleds of holly leaves they coast,
Of silver skates they proudly boast
And snowball fights with tiny forts--
These are their jolly winter sports.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Old Photos, Being a Trip Into the Past

I have been organizing old family photos, taking them from the 'magic stick' page albums and putting them into boxes. I plan to find some envelopes to protect individual photos. It is a real trip down memory lane. Plus I have photos from my husband's family as well. I upload pics to ancestry.com to preserve them. Here are some of my favorite family photos.

Barbara Reed Ramer
I was still a teenager when my Grandfather Ramer gave me this daguerreotype photograph. He was unsure if it was his mother or his grandmother, but I know from the dress style, and by comparing photo images, that it was his grandmother Barbara Reed Ramer. 

They lived in Milroy, PA where Joseph ran a lumber mill.

Their daughter Esther Mae was my Grampa Ramer's mother.
Lynne lost his mother and his grandmother when he was nine years old, and his grandfather had died before that. So he was taken in by his aunts and uncles. Gramps worked himself through college and seminary, then went into teaching. He fell in love with one of his students, a beautiful young blonde named Evelyn Adair Greenwood. They married when Evelyn was 17 and Lynne was 26.  
Evelyn's parents had come from England in 1911. Cropper Greenwood was born in Bacup, Lancashire and generations of his family all worked in the cotton mills. But Cropper worked in the quarry, where he apparently learned about engines. He became a chauffeur. He met Delia Victoria Smith, who was a domestic servant working in Manchester, England. Delia was from Irlam on Moss, her Irish father being a horse breeder; her mother was from Scotland. Below is Cropper Greenwood. He immigrated to America with a job working for 'a rich man' and sent passage for Delia to join him. They married the next month.

Evelyn and Lynne's oldest child was my mother, Joyce. Mom was the Jiggerbug Queen of the 'Projects', temporary war time housing for factory workers. Gramps worked as an engineer in an airplane factory during WWII.

Mom saw my dad on the bus and tried every way to get his attention. Well, she did and they married and a few years later I came along and then my brother.

Me at three years old

I grew up and married. Here is a photo of my mother-in-law when she was a teenager. She loved church camp at Gull Lake, MI and the summer this photo was taken she said she was 'dark as an Indian' and was asked by a Native American boy she met if she was an Indian.

Gary's father lost his father at age 13. His mother Loretta Valdora was a member of the UAW and supported the famous GM sit-down strike by bringing food to the striking workers.

Val/Etta/Girl (she went by many names over her life!) spent a winter at Vermillion Point, MI on Lake Superior taking care of the life saving station children.

Gary took this photo at Longwood Gardens outside of Philadelphia. It is such a beautiful photo because of the setting.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen

In 1978 at Temple University I took an honors seminar on Jane Austen taught by Prof. Toby Olshin. I enrolled in the class because my first year at Temple, in a class on literary criticism, Prof. McFadden told us we should take three courses: the year long honors seminar on Austen, the honors seminar on James Joyce's Ulysses, and the course on John Milton. I took them all, and they were great classes but Olsen's Austen was the real life changer.

We read all of Jane's works, published and unpublished. Our small class of eight did a careful line-by-line reading. My textbooks are full of notes. The second semester covered her letters and juvenilia and her literary influences. I later bought an 1894 edition of Austen's complete works, including her letters. And later my husband gave me the Oxforn edition of her complete works.

Jane was not always the cultural phenomenon she is today. She had a modest following in her lifetime and some years afterwards. She pretty much fell off the radar then. Mark Twain disdained her! Her first rediscovery came a hundred years ago after her novels were republished, and a 1911 essay by A.C. Bradley brought Austen into the realm of academic study. With the rise of the Women's Movement, Jane's works were reevaluated and brought into new light.

Jane's second rediscovery came with movies based on her novels, and today she has Fan Fiction galore because we can't get enough of Jane. Darcy is a modern heartthrob!

I designed and made two quilts based on Pride and Prejudice, an applique and Redwork version. I wrote about them in a post some time ago. http://theliteratequilter.blogspot.com/2012/02/pride-and-prejudice-story-book-quilt.html

I have the patterns available on my Etsy store Rosemont Needle Arts.

Prof. Olshin helped us gain a full understanding of the world Jane lived in. We studied Georgian material culture and visited Philadelphia Georgian houses. When puce gloves were worn by a character, we knew what color they were. She was a Freudian, and brought depth psychology into our understanding of the novels, including evaluating readers responses. We loved Jane for her social satire, her irony, her biting commentary that dissected society's foibles and skewed values.

Because I graduated in 1978, I had to audit the second half of the class in the fall semester. It does not appear on my transcript nor did I receive any credit or grade.

One member of our class went on to become an award winning singer songwriter! Julie Gold's song "From a Distance" won song of the year in 1991. When I knew her she was singing in venues like Kyber Pass in Philadelphia. http://juliegold.com/

Class member Vincent Schiavone's mom had created Aid for Friends, a meals-on-wheels program that provided cooked meals for shut-ins.  http://articles.philly.com/1994-03-02/food/25849942_1_food-aid-meals-food-assistance and http://www.aidforfriends.org/index.cfm?active=1

I wish I could remember the other class members.

Professor Olshin died in 1981 at age 41 after a long battle with cancer. Her obituary called her teaching style "dynamic". When a student poll gave her the highest marks for teaching, she said "I love to teach, I love students, and I love literature." The last time I saw her was in 1980. My husband and I were on the Temple campus walking and we ran into her. I have always credited her to be one of the most important teachers I have had the privilege to study under.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Handkerchiefs

The temperature has been under 20 degrees for over a week and will not reach freezing in the foreseeable future! The only way I stay sane is by keeping real busy. So I am thrilled that today Esther Aliu has the next floral corner pattern for Love Entwined!

Here are some Christmas handkerchiefs featuring poinsettias from my collection.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

1961 Northern Ads

I have been going through my collection of stuff, trying to figure out what to do with it all. I found this stash of 1961 Family Circle ads for Northern toilet paper. So precious! Mom read a lot of magazines when I was growing up, and I have collected quite a number of 50s and 60s magazines over the years.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Love Entwined Update

I have finished the third floral basket corner.

There are so many glorious interpretations of Love Entwined! It is wonderful to see all of the different fabric and color choices and various techniques being used.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kreuger

Yesterday I finished another Kindle ebook, Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. I was very impressed that Krueger has captured an honest and realistic portrait of a Methodist parsonage family. Having been married to a United Methodist clergyman for over 41 years, and having lived in nine parsonages, I am quite familiar with what the life is like.

The novel is told from the viewpoint of the middle child,  Frank Drum, who in 1961 is thirteen years old. Frank is the rebellious child, breaking rules set for his protection. His older sister is a musical prodigy, and his younger brother at age eleven follows Frank everywhere.

Their father is a patient, good man, but whose experience in the Korean War left him with personal demons. After the war he gave up the idea of becoming a lawyer and went into ministry, to the vexation of his talented and beautiful wife who had not signed up for being a pastor's wife. They live in a small town in Minnesota, where expectations for the family are high-- and constricting.

Over the summer a series of events force Frank and his family to reevaluate everything they thought they knew about each other, their community, and God. Their reactions are rendered spot-on by Krueger, as is how they individually and as a family move on from tragedy. There is a mystery to be solved, with enough red herrings to keep the reader guessing.

I appreciate that the faith issues are honestly portrayed, without mawkish or trivial sentiments to cheapen the story. Real people struggle with anger at God, loss of faith, and their religious commitment. The 'ordinary grace' that resolves the story's faith journey is the miracle of a child's simple faith that begins the healing for which Frank is so desperate.

To learn more about the author visit  http://www.williamkentkrueger.com/

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency by James Tobin

"The guy never knows when he is licked." ~ Harry Hopkins on FDR

 "Because he had beaten his illness, Roosevelt thought that he could beat anything." ~ John Gunther

James Tobin's new book The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency covers Franklin D. Roosevelt's life between 1921 when he contracted infantile paralysis and 1932 when the Democratic party nominated him as their candidate for Governor of New York State. Tobin shows how polio brought out amazing strengths of character in FDR and ultimately prepared him to become a great leader.

At age 39 FDR was charming, handsome, rich, and determined to gain the presidency. He had served as Secretary of the Navy and on President Wilson's subcabinet.

Then he encountered the virus that left him crippled. Tobin's narrative accessibly explains the disease, how it is spread, how it attacks the human body, and how the medical doctors treated it. At a time when most children were naturally inoculated through exposure to the virus, FDR's privileged and sheltered life left him vulnerable. Overworked and tired, he arrived at the isolated family summer resort at Campabello and soon after became ill. By the time the doctors knew he had contracted polio, the damage was done.

FDR's mother assumed he would return to his childhood home and live out the rest of his life puttering with his stamp collection and watching the Hudson River flow by. But FDR was not a man to sit and watch life pass him by. He was determined to win the presidency, and he was going to walk to the podium to give his acceptance speech.

His recovery was not a straight or easy path. He did not follow doctor's orders and he avoided painful exercise. He hated the leg braces and crutches. FDR became his own physician, and took to exercising in warm water. So when he read about a polio victim who could walk after therapy at Warm Springs resort in Georgia FDR determined to experienced for himself the properties of the mineral springs. The resort was isolated and in bad repair. FDR was charmed. The warm mineral water enabled him to endure long hours of exercise without pain.

FDR needed a project. He liked to run things. He longed to own something of  his own. He needed a source of income. FDR determined to buy the run-down resort, an economical and practical decision that seemed foolish. He imagined a place where polio victims could only heal their bodies but also find acceptance and normality in a world that shunted cripples out of sight.

FDR's ability to walk again was truly due to physiotherapists Helena Mahoney and Alicia Plastridge who taught him how to use his good muscles to compensate for the lost ones. Working with Mahoney at Warm Springs in 1927 FDR was finally able to walk with two canes.

Tobin challenges commonly held beliefs about Franklin's hiding his infirmity. Although FDR did strive to keep the more undignified aspects of his infirmity out of sight, such as being carried up stairs, once he returned to public life he did not, could not, hide that he was handicapped. Republicans had a field day attacking FDR as a cripple, a 'poor man' of pity who was not up to the job.

"The role he must play was a paradox. Normally the actor puts on a mask and becomes someone else. FDR's role now was to play the man he actually was--a strong man capable of leadership in the highest seats of power. The trick was to remove the mask that his audience would otherwise force him to wear. He must persuade the audience to discard its ancient, inherited belief about a man who was crippled. He must persuade them that a crippled man could be strong."

FDR went on the campaign trail, traveling by auto caravan across New York state. He had to change the way society viewed 'cripples'. Two weeks before the election he faced four thousand people and openly spoke about polio. "Seven years ago, through an attack of infantile paralysis, I was completely put out of any useful activity." People in audience were heard crying. "By personal good fortune, I was able to get the best kind of medical care. The result is that today I am on my feet." And in admitting he was a cripple, FDR also declared himself to be a fighter and a man of action.

I think it was a shining moment in American history when a man's ability made voters forget his handicap, that we judged him by the 'content of his character' and not by his physical abilities or disabilities.

James Tobin's first book, Ernie Pyle's War, American's Eye-Witness to World War II won him the National Book Critic's Circle Award. He was able to leave his position with the Detroit News to write full time. He wrote a companion book to the PBS series Great Projects: The Epic Story of the Building of America, From the Taming of the Mississippi to the Invention of the Internet. It was followed by To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight. 

To me, each book has at its core the story of men willing to go to great lengths to achieve the goals they hold dearest. Tobin's books are inspiring and dramatic narratives. To learn more visit

Note: Tobin used the word cripple purposefully. He explains in his Prologue, "To understand Roosevelt's situation--in his time, not ours--one needs to enter a realm in which the stigma of physical disability was like the presence of oxygen in the air: utterly taken for granted, and therefore terribly powerful."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Some Christmas Quilts

The first Christmas quilt I made used poinsettia florals on black. I made Sawtooth Star and Christmas Tree blocks. A revised version of the tree blocks was published in the November/December 1994 issue of Quitmaker magazine.

This pattern is found in Handkerchief Quilts by Sharon Newman. 

After I taught myself embroidery I made this 12 Days of Christmas by Betty Alderman. It was not easy doing all those little men in the last block!

This Christmas Tree quilt was a kit quilt my husband saw in a quilt shop and really loved. It is made of small squares that had to be fussy placed. It usually hangs in his office.

The first quilt guild I joined was Patches and Pieces in Jackson, MI. They had a fabric exchange of Christmas fabrics and the following year a Christmas poem printed on fabric was given out for a quilt challenge. The pattern was found in a magazine. I used the exchange fabrics.

Not truly a Christmas quilt, but this star often is on my wall during Advent. The pattern was from Eleanor Burns and I made it in a class at Country Stitches in East Lansing, MI. It was one of the few quilt shop classes I have taken.

 I found this great little pattern on eBay and made two versions.


I have used this pattern for a stained glass look quilt several times, once in dark blue for church Advent paraments and this one which I donated to a church bazaar. I think of it as an Advent theme.

I was learning how to use metallic threads when I made this little quilt, which I thought of as and Advent quilt. To me it is about the Light coming into the world. 

I have been lax about updating the quilts hanging in the house. I think this week I will be taking out some Christmas quilts and start decorating the house.