Sunday, August 30, 2015

Being Rapunzel: Everything, Everything by Nicola Joon

Maddy is eighteen years old. She has spent her life in the safe and sterile 'bubble' home her mother has created. Maddy has never been outdoors, breathed fresh air, touched another human being other than her mother--after her mother has gone through a sterilization process that removes outside containments. Anything foreign could bring on an allergic illness that could kill Maddy. And the family has already lost Maddy's father and brother in a tragic accident. Maddy has SCID, Severe Combined Immunodeficiency.

Maddy has accepted her reality until a new family moves in next door. From her bedroom window she watches them, especially the son Ollie. From their bedroom windows and through instant messaging the teens communicate and fall in love.

Maddy is like Rapunzel in her tower, Ollie thinks. Unattainable, locked away from the world.

Nicola Joon's young adult book Everything, Everything  keeps one's interest and is an enjoyable read. Maddy's voice is charming. I liked her very much. There are cute illustrations of Maddy's thoughts and drawings, keeping things upbeat and funny. Love interest Olly has an interesting back story with his own family secrets and tragedy. Teenage girl readers will love Ollie. My early hunch about the ending proved correct, but teen readers will be surprised by the twist at the end.

(SPOILER ALERT!)* The couple find a way to meet, they run away to Hawaii, discover sex, and Maddy has a near death experience. *(Alert Ended)

The story of young love and impending doom, the interlude together, and the inevitable separation sounds like The Fault in Our Stars but with a happier ending. I am sure it was meant for the same market. I don't much care for the message that true love sex is 'everything'. But this book was not meant for me. It's meant for romantic young teenage girls who like wish fulfillment and fairy tale endings and characters that are likable. A story with just enough philosophy, nothing too deep, not too much angst. This book will suit them just fine.

I am interested in the mother's need to protect her daughter from the world and keep her to herself. The theme has a long literary tradition: The girl child forced to remain at home, dependent, protected, and safe, or to be the parent's companion and compensation for other losses. Ollie brings up the image of Maddy as Rapunzel, foreshadowing a reality not yet discovered.

"...she saw that he was young and handsome, she thought: "He will love me more than old Dame Gothel does, and she said yes, and laid her hand in his." 

"Ah! you wicked child,' cried the enchantress. "What do I hear you say! I thought I had separated you from all the world, and yet you have deceived me!"

from Rapunzel

The 1844 short story Rapaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is about a daughter kept in a poisonous garden by her father; the daughter will poison anyone who touches her. She meets a man, they fall in love, and he discover's the father's selfish plot to keep the girl for himself. The story of a poisonous girl can be traced back to ancient India.

In Poldark season one Ross's cousin Francis is against his sister Verity marrying an 'unsuitable' man: he is not their kind and he is associated with scandal. After she runs off to marry her man, another reason arises: the family and servants are all ill with 'putrid throat' and Francis bemoans that his sister should have been home to care for their needs. He has kept Verity single and dependent for personal interests.

Sometimes daughters are wanted at home to be servants, to run the household or play hostess. Or to play nurse to aging parents. Sometimes parents desire to protect them from the world. And sometimes they are wanted at home because a parent is afraid of being alone.

Sadly, children, especially girl children, have often been victims of a parent who demands their life time loyalty. As a girl in the 1950s we had a neighbor who never married. Her mother had died, her brother went to war and then out West. Her father demanded she stay home and care for him. She lived in her unchanged childhood home all her life, her last years alone and in worsening poverty. She cleaned houses. She sold off her family heirlooms, which had become valuable antiques, and the land that had been the family farm, even the barn and garden plot surrounding the house. We loved her father, but now I see his old world values had defrauded his daughter of a life.

Maddy's mother undergoes therapy to deal with the trauma of loss and her over-protectiveness of her only surviving family member. Maddy's life began at age eighteen, when she gained everything, everything.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Everything, Everything
by Nicola Joon
Random House Delacourt Press
Publication date September 1, 2015
ISBN 9780553496642
$18.99 hard cover

"Yoon gives readers complex characters and rich dialogue that ranges from humorous to philosophical. This heartwarming story transcends the ordinary by exploring the hopes, dreams, and inherent risks of love in all of its forms."
— Kirkus, Starred Review

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Up the St. Clair River

My completed row CCGS Samuel Risley- Sunrise
Yesterday we took another day trip, Row By Rowing up the St. Clair River. The St. Clair runs from Lake St. Clair to Lake Huron, dividing Michigan and Canada. (The Detroit River from Lake Erie turns into Lake St. Clair along the east side of Metro Detroit.)

First stop was Marine City, right on the shores of the St. Clair River. I recently watched on Netflix an episode of Under the Radar Michigan which featured Marine City. It was as charming in real life as on television. A wedding was taking place along the river near the lighthouse.
Marine City from the water. Our restaurant was the far left brick building.
Quilting Dreams was in an old house across from the lighthouse park. It has a wonderful selection of Reproduction fabrics--and Downtown Abbey for all you fans of the show. Their Row is a Snail's Trail in pale blues and white; the kit has all the pieces cut and ready for paper piecing.

We had lunch on the water at Anita's Restaurant, watching the ferry to Canada, and even spying a small freighter.

Next stop was East China's River Place Quilt & Sew. Their Row is the CCCS Samuel Risley-Sunrise. (This is the Sunrise Side of Michigan after all!) The kit included laser cut pieces for the appliqué. It is based on a photograph by Jenny Terhune of Marine City, taken in winter of 2014. The Risley is a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker.

Risley block detail from River Place website
Next stop was was a shop that is fabled in Michigan--Port Huron's Sew Elegant! Port Huron is where Michiganders often cross into Canada on the Blue Water Bridge. (Which we have been over, but this trip we were UNDER it! Impressive view!)

I picked up their pattern for mama and baby ducklings on the water.
Swimming Lessons from from Sew Elegant's website
The shop has a huge amount of fabric and books galore, many older publications no longer available elsewhere.

It is likely our last Row By Row collecting trip. :( It ends September 8, and next week my husband undergoes cataract surgery. I wish I could have traveled further as there are beautiful rows still out there...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Three More Row By Row

I am getting the rows made. When they are all complete I will arrange them into wall hangings or quilts. Three more completed!

Top: Delphine's Quilt Shop in Gaylord, MI has 'pools' in a pieced block.

Bottom: A Little Quilt Shop in Waterford, MI uses pleated fabric for the waves. My version looks different from the store sample as I made it without the photo.
 The Quilt House in Indian River's pieced fish taught me a new technique.
I had hoped to visit more shops further away, but time is running out and my husband has cataract surgery next week.

Where did the summer go? These past few days in Southeast Michigan it has been overcast and cool, so cool I was tempted to turn on the heat last night! I am not ready to see summer end. When I was younger I didn't mind winter, but now I dread the long gloomy, snowbound days.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

AQS Grand Rapids Guild Challenge Favorites

I have enjoyed the Guild Challenge Contest quilts at the AQS shows I have seen. Participating guilds each have a theme.

I loved the Famous Female Faces quilts from Journeys Thru Art of Martin City, FL.
Pebbles by Kathy Rentz
Diana by Pam Post
Lucy by Karen Marchetti
Carmen Miranda by Marian McCoin
The Oakland County Quilt Guild challenge included this charmer:
Ice Cream at the Detroit Zoo by Cyndi Anderson
West Michigan Quilt Guild's theme was No Matter Where You Roam, Your Heart Still Hangs At Home.
Blanket of Leaves by Nancy Roelfsma
Fiber Art Friends of Eureka, CA based quilts on A Day At Woodley Island.
It Could Have Happened by Jody Rusconi
 Unbounded Imagination was the Des Moines Area Quilters Guild theme.
Green Luna Moth by Lynn Randall
Out of the Box Design Group of Jupiter, FL had the theme of Flowers: Always and All Ways
Sunkissed by Theresa Olson
Flower Seed Packets was the theme for Happy Heart Quilters of Louisville, KY

Heart & Sow by Carla DeSpain
Checker Seed by Godron L. Vogt
Springhill Seed Co by Karen Laundroche

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hawaiian-Inspired, American Themed

In her new book Creating Hawaiian-Inspired Quilts, Judith Sandstrom has adapted traditional, large scale, symmetrical Hawaiian appliqué patterns to paper-cut designs manageable for quilters of all skill levels.

The motifs are 'pure American', including butterflies, tulips, daffodils and bluebirds, Christmas Cactus, and Christmas themes.

She offers a new technique for pattern transfer with step-by-step photographs. Needed supplies and basic directions for making the quilts are included.

Innovations include incorporating more than one color in the appliqué and using several different design elements to make the appliqué. Patterns make wall to twin bed sized quilts. Several of the bed size patterns include pieced blocks.

Sandstrom begins with an overview of traditional quilt making in Hawaii and photographs of the contemporary Hawaiian quilts that are her inspiration.

The 26 patterns included in the book are:

  • Hawaiian Seas four patterns: scallop shell and starfish; Angel Fish and coral; crab and Stingray; turtle and jellyfish
  • Hawaiian Christmas with four blocks including bell and angel; snowman and wreath; candelabra, cane and star; tree gingerbread man, and Holly leaf
  • Christmas Cactus wall hanging 
  • Hibiscus and Tulip Bouquet 57" x 57" quilt
  • May Maze wall hanging
  • Butterfly Trails wall quilt
  • Four Color Tulips 43" x 43"
  • Tahitian Dream twin/full size
  • Exotic Purple Lily twin size
  • Amazing Amaryllis twin size
  • Daffodils and Bluebirds twin size

I made a Hawaiian sampler quilt in my early days of quiltmaking.

I decided to try Sandstrom's method and chose the Christmas angle and bell block. My block is hand appliquéd but Sandstrom notes that one can also machine appliqué. The patterns can also be used with fusible appliqué.

Hand appliqué is traditional and a favorite method of mine.
(Note: The pattern was altered from the original as I forgot to cut out a section in the bell.)

I folded the background fabric as suggested and traced the pattern on the appliqué fabric according to her method.

I used spray starch on the appliquéd red fabric to give it more weight and make it easier to handle.

Using small scissors with a sharp point I cut the fabric on the traced lines.

I situated the appliqué on the fold lines on the background fabric. Small appliqué pins held it down as I basted the appliqué to the fabric, then the pins were removed.

Using thread to match the appliqué piece I needle-turned the fabric, making small clips at inside curves. It took me two evenings, about four hours, to complete.

I had trouble with the very narrow part of the bell clapper. So I would warn to be sure not to skimp when cutting that part; it can always be trimmed later. And be sure not to take too deep a turn when sewing down one side or you will find there is not enough seam allowance on the other side!

The patterns are very original and cute. I wonder if I can make just one?

I thank Schiffer Publications for a free book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Creating Hawaiian-Inspired Quilts
by Judith Sandstrom
Schiffer Publications
ISBN: 9780764348587
$16.99 soft cover
80 pages; 83 color images

See contemporary Hawaiian quilts at Quilt Inspiration 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Favorite Quilts from AQS Grand Rapids 2015

The award winning quilts are shared by the  American Quilt Society, but there are many other wonderful quilts at their shows.

We especially enjoyed the DeVos Center as a venue for quilts. We could get quite close and far away, which enables the viewer to see a quilt at its best.

Here are some bed sized quilts that I especially liked.

I was drawn to this quilt every time I saw it. I Like Circles is by Roberta Amstadt of Traverse City, MI.

Shower of Roses by Donna Derstadt of Libertyville, IL is a Susan Garman pattern.

Chieko Shiraishi of Saitama-shi, Japan appliqued a handmade Irish crochet lave on the pattern of antique lace to create this amazing Irish Crochet Lace quilt.

I am a sucker for pictorial quilts. There were many amazing ones at this show.
Blue Season by Jan Berg-Rezmer of Gladwin, MI is based on a photo in Michigan
Fancy Flamingos by Beverly Curtis of Muskegon MI
The Finish Line by Bonnie Marshall Creel of Big Bear Lake, CA
Spanish Arches by Lenore Crawford of Midland, MI
Larger Than Life by Carol Kolf of Sheridan, WY uses amazing thread painting
Sunset Sentinel by Cathy Geier of Waukesha, WI
Daisagi-Great Egret by Chris Eichner of Franklin, NC
Judy DenHerder of Zephyrhills, FL made Big Red, a Michigan landmark
Peaceful Evening by Beth Schillig of Columbus, OH 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Stories We Tell, The Stories We Need To Know

"I can still call to mind the precise shade of the water that day. I call it summer blue, the color of water in July--all of promise wrapped up in it, and every disappointment too."

We all have inherited family stories. We believe they are true. The Color of Water in July by Nora Carroll portrays a woman who determines to dismantle the stories, finding that the truth allows her to become the person she wanted to be.

Thirty-three year old Jess's grandmother has died and the family cabin on Traverse Bay in northern Michigan is to be sold. Jess returns to the cabin for the first time since she was seventeen years old. At first Jess is uninterested in the history and family heirlooms and papers. She is encouraged to sell it by her boyfriend Russ, a writer for Architect's Digest. He sees a story. He sees the money. The cabin will become a cover story, remodeled, and sold.

Jess feels haunted by the events of her last summer with her grandmother, the year when she fell in love and believed her future was set. Before events escalated and she decided to leave the man she loved behind.

Alternating chapters tell the story of Jess's grandmother, the sister she lost, and the baby she raised who became Jess's distant mother, a Pulitzer prize winning journalist. Layers of the story are gradually stripped away, revealing a reality Jess had never imagined.
"I need to be sure that you really want to know.""That's what I came here for, said Jess."
Jess must decide what really matters and how to hold on to it.

The book has mystery, surprises, and lots of local color. The epilogue ending was somewhat tacked on and not necessary; I think we all realize what was coming. I enjoyed some fine lines, such as, "It had turned to August now, you could feel it right away, the lack of sincerely of summer, the hint that it was already planning to leave." I have not lived as far north as Traverse City, but I have lived down the Lake Michigan coast and know how true this feeling it.

It is mid-August as I write this. The last weekend for tourists and the cabin summer folk is soon coming. After Labor Day the "Trolls" leave but the townies remain year round. Resort areas start closing up shops by the end of September, not to reopen until Memorial Day. The color of the water will change to gray and white, the calm water whipped up to high sprays. If you go near the beach the sand in the wind will get into your nose and hair, scratch your glasses. You will feel the grit in your mouth. Summers Up North are short.

I thank the publisher and NetGalley for a free ebook in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The Color of Water in July
by Nora Carroll
Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: August 18, 2015
ISBN: 9781503945630
$14.95 paperback

The color of water on Pentwater Lake in July
Pentwater Lake in early winter

Lake Michigan in July

Thursday, August 20, 2015

AQS Grand Rapids 2015: Quilts By Friends, Real and Virtual

It was cool to see quilts at the AQS Grand Rapids show made by people I actually am friends with, or have meet, or who are virtual friends.

Theresa Nielson is a local quilter in my guild and weekly quilt group. Her embellished quilt was in the Quilt Alliance Contest, Animals We Love.

Theresa is a prolific quilter who loves crazy quilts. She is also an author and mother to a houseful of birds, dogs, and cats.

Virtual friend Tim Latimer had two quilts in Animals We Love--based on his beloved companion Teddy.

If you don't follow Tim's blog you have to check it out. Tim is a hand quilter, restorer of unloved vintage quilts, and master gardener. What better way to spend a few minutes than seeing quilts, gardens, and Teddy?

Tim's contest entry was Reindeer-Go-Round, his original hand cut paper snowflake pattern brought to wall quilt size, quilted by hand with trapunto.
Two years ago Tim won best in show for hand quilted wall hanging at AQS Grand Rapids. I was able to meet him at that time. He also has an Etsy store where you can buy the pattern for the Reindeer Snowflake Quilt.

I reviewed Mary Kerr's book Recycled Hexie Quilts earlier this year. Her Quilt Alliance entry was adorable, incorporating vintage embroidery and hexie quilt.

See all the Animals We Love quilts at the Quilt Alliance website here. They will be auction online in November 2015.

We lived for ten months in Norton Shores, MI. I met three great ladies at church who were part of a weekly quilt group and they invited me to join them. The group was founded by Pat Holly. One member was Lynne Osborn whose Caribbean Sangria was in the show. It is a BOM designed by Pat Holly and Sue Nickels.