Thursday, January 31, 2019

The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers

I don't gamble. I don't buy raffle tickets or lottery tickets or visit the casinos. To me, it's throwing money away. I harbor no dreams of "hitting it big." I don't find it intriguing and it doesn't sound like fun. Then, I'm not motivated by money, although I never had much either.

That made me standoffish about Bridgett M. Davis' memoir about her mother who for 34 years was a numbers runner working out of her Detroit home.'s Detroit...and I had to at least take a look at this book.

The book is a paen to Fannie Davis who used her wits and charisma--and a lot of hard work--to ensure that her children had a comfortable home and a good life.

The Davis family had moved to Detroit for the same reason as my family did: the dream of a job in the auto industry. Davis loved her father, but with frail health no regular work, he was unable to support his family.

Fannie didn't want her kids growing up in a vermin-ridden slum house. So, Davis's mom had a choice: work in the home of a white person, for little pay, and away from her own family all day, or get creative.

She got creative. And built a business.

This memoir offers a good understanding of Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s, filled with specifics and local color. One learns the history of numbers in the African American community, it's economic importance, and how it works.

Davis talks about the secretiveness about her mom's work, how the legal lottery impacted the numbers, and her desire to get away from Detroit for college and work.

Above all, Fannie Davis shines as her daughter paints a larger-than-life image of her mom.

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

The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers
by Bridgett M. Davis
Little, Brown and Company
Pub Date 29 Jan 2019
ISBN 9780316558730
PRICE $28.00 (USD)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

WIP Quilts, Books, and News

Winter arrived in Michigan! It has been bitter cold. It's perfect weather to quilt and read.

I completed a project from my weekly quilt group's "free table" exchange. Another quilter had started a twelve block quilt in wool and flannel. The incomplete blocks were given up. I finished the embroidery, cobbled together pieces to complete one block, and machine quilted the project.
I finished the Little Red Riding Hood quilt top. I set the seven 1919 Redwork patterns with other vintage patterns that seemed to fit the story: a basket, strawberries, Grandma's house, bunnies hiding in the woods.
I loved the Little Red Riding Hood prints from Riley Blake. I used two from the collection for the top and have another for the backing. I'll bind the quilt with the red fabric.
 I used perle emrboidery thread for the Redwork.

I decided the Thistle fabric quilt needed a border. Now it is ready!
I won a wonderful gift on American Historical Fiction Facebook Group! The giveaway from Anne Howard Creel included a signed first edition of her new book, a lovely tote bag, and pretty coasters. Anne's book is about a flood, an abused wife, and her step-daughter.
The Sunday paper's Parade magazine highlighted two memoirs I have read and reviewed. The World According to Fannie Davis by Bridgitt Davis (my review will appear tomorrow) and Maid by Stephanie Land, which I reviewed last week.

Books I have on my table include the memoir Lost Without the River by Barbara Hoffbeck Scobie, courtesy of Caitlin Hamiton Marketing & Publicity,
and Make Me A City by Jonathan Carr, a LibraryThing win.
painting by Joyce Gochenour, my mother

For some reason, I have won a record number of books on giveaways! From Goodreads I won That Churchill Woman, Camelot's End by Jon Ward on Kennedy and Carter, Unmarriageable by Sonia Kamal based on Pride and Prejudice, and Northward by Chuck Radda. And I won Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by Bill McKibben from LibraryThing. 

I just read and reviewed The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin, a LibraryThing win; look for my review next month. I an also reading an ebook win from Goodreads, Imagine That! by ark Finn about an eight-year-old boy with an active imagination.

My NetGalley shelf is thin because I am going to have cataract surgery in February and March! No more trifocals! I know I won't be able to hand as much reading for a while. I am excited because I am going to get a special lens to correct the astigmatism that has plagued me all my life! 

I am reading The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books about Christopher Columbus's son and his quest to build the largest library; Three Sheets to the Wind about nautical terms that have come into our every day language; and The Road to Grantchester, a prequel to the Grantchester series. 

TBR is The Editor by Stephen Rowley author of Lily and the Octopus, The Life and Death of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story, and The Electric Hotel by Dominic Smith whose The Last Painting of Sara DeVos I read.

We have been dog sitting our grandpuppy Ellie! Our son had long days at the office and dropped her off before work and picked her up at the end of the day. 

Ellie is only four months out of the puppy mill. She was dropped off at a vet for putting down! Safe Harbor Animal Rescue in Vermillion Ohio was contacted and now Ellie is a pampered pooch.

She is blossoming into a lovely girl. 
Rescues make the BEST PETS.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Falconer by Dana Czapnik

Sometimes a book finds me that I would not have found by myself. That is how The Falconer by Dana Czapnik came into my life--as an unexpected package from the publisher.

Reading it was about a seventeen-year-old girl in 1993 New York City whose passion was basketball and who has a crush on her best friend Percy, I wondered if I would care for the book. Sure, there was advance praise from Column McCann, Salmon Rushdie, Chloe Benjamin--but could I relate to the story?

I opened the book and started reading. The opening scene finds the protagonist, "pizza bagel" Lucy, playing basketball with Percy. I've seen basketball games. Only when the tickets were free. But the writing was so good, I found myself drawn into the scene, turning pages. There was something about this book, about Lucy's voice.

On the surface, I had nothing in common with Lucy. And yet Lucy felt familiar, her concerns and fears universal.

In telling the story of one particular girl from a particular place and time, the author probes the eternal challenges of growing up female: conformity and acceptance by one's peer group while staying true to oneself; crushes on boys who don't see you; concerns about our attractiveness; what we give up for love; is the world is chaotic and without order, or can we find joy and hope?

There was a multitude of lines and paragraphs that I noted for their wisdom, beauty, and insight. I reread sections, scenes that elicited emotion or thoughtfulness.

I felt Lucy was channeling Holden Caulfield, who I met as a fourteen-year-old in Freshman English class in 1967. The Catcher in the Rye was life-changing for me, a voice unlike any I had encountered in a novel. The New York City setting, the wandering across the city, the characters met, the rejection of the parental values and lifestyle, Lucy's misunderstanding of a song line--Lucy is a female Holden, updated to the 1990s.

Lucy tells us that in Central Park is a statue of a boy releasing a falcon. She loves this statue but resents that only boys are portrayed in the way of the statue, that girls are shown nude or as children like the Alice in Wonderland statue. She sees in the joy and hope in The Falconer.
The Falconer, Central Park
Lucy experiences many things in the novel, including some pretty bad stuff. But she is resilient, holding to the joy and beauty she finds around her, the "the perfect jump shot" moments. She will inspire young readers and offer those of us whose choices were made long ago a journey of recollection and the affirmation of mutually shared experience.

I received a free ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The Falconer
by Dana Czapnik
Atria Books
Publication: January 29, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5011-9322
$25 hardbound

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Peacock Feast by Lisa Gornick

Lisa Gornick's The Peacock Feast is a multi-generational historical fiction novel with a deep and universal theme that can speak across the generations. Gornick's characters take the burden of the past into their futures, cutting them off from a full life. Suppressed memories are as constricting as those which consume us; neither allow us to risk a full life.

The Peacock Feast was Louis Tiffany's "performance art" dinner for a select group of top-tier society men, every minutia controlled by him. Prudence is in her nineties and the event is her earliest memory, watching the parade of girls carrying the cooked fowl redressed in their gaudy feathers. She recalls her hand over the mouth of a small boy.

Prudence's parents were employed by the Tiffany family at Laurelton Hall, the Oyster Bay home Tiffany designed. Her father was his gardener and her mother worked as a housekeeper. After Tiffany blew up the breakwater that created what he believed was his private beach, and which the town insisted was for all, Prudence's family left. Her older brother Randall couldn't stand their father's drinking and ran away from home, never to see Prudence again.

Prudence made a career, married a man because she'd be crazy to say no to, and later in life fell in love but was afraid to say yes. Now, in her last months, Randall's granddaughter Grace has sought Prudence out and together they piece the mystery of their family's history and the traumatic incident that divided them.

The story skips back and forth in time between generations; a family tree on your bookmark may be helpful to keep track of them. Reoccuring choices appear in the family, generations unwittingly mirroring each other. 

Gornick has given us a beautifully written book, complex with characters' stories across four generations. For all the sorrow and heartbreak in her character's lives, we are left with understanding and hope.

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

Read an excerpt and find a reading guide here.

The Peacock Feast
by Lisa Gornick
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sarah Crichton Books
Pub Date 05 Feb 2019
ISBN 9780374230548
PRICE $26.00 (USD)

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Diary of Helen Korngold: January 20-26, 1919

Helen Korngold, December 1919, New York City


Monday 20
Up—eat—Wellston—good lesson. Class—Dr. McKenzie is too sweet for words. Suggested that we indulge in Shakespeare a few minutes after wasting almost whole hour. Home. Folks all gone. To bed early.

Tuesday 21
Wellston—kids act awfully cute. Met Ruth on car—nice conversation. Classes. Wells & I had argument over possibility of being blind and not knowing it. He’s too dogmatic about it. Basket ball. Senior luncheon—good. Refreshing shower—tease Paul. Home—dinner—Kroeger lecture. Summer came, loves McKitrick! Uncle Sam & home.

Wednesday 22
Up—dressed-eat. 8 a.m. Dan phones—made a date for a party at Orpheum on Sat. eve. Dates so easy—popular—oh gee! Wellston school—best pupil is absent—arms  broken. Too bad. School all day—Senior meeting—discuss caps & gowns. Home—practice—Study—date with Falstaff! Dr. [Hubler/Huebler] called up 9:30 P.M.! He knows my late hours!

Thursday 23
Wellston—pretty good—Class—topic in Ed. 12 O.K. home with sore throat. I have to write a theme, but oh gee! Such excitement! Kale & pop have just tried on their handsome robes! I’ll say they’re good-looking! Summer just phoned—Dewey located—K.C. Kale & I have a little tête-à-tête over Dewey. Karol looks cute in his robe—We’re in his rooms.

Friday 24
Wellston—rotten lesson. Class. Dr. McKenzie has yet to settle class hour. Dancing. Morris, Sam & Summer came over in evening. Played penny-ante. Summer brought me a variety of cotton samples. He’s a good kid. Morris is so clever. Sam’s a regular kid. Loaned Summer my copy of Return of the Native.

Saturday 25
First morning I slept until 8:30 this week. Pictures of kids party good. Class—home—a good bath and a refreshing nap. Box party at Orpheum. Harris girls and Anson K., Phil J., Dan Wolf & myself. Chop Suey and dancing at Ciardi’s. Home at 3 A.M. oh, boy! But we had one swell little time! I wish it on myself again—getting ambitious.

Sunday 26
Up at 10:30. Fool around—dinner and study. Expect to go to concert this evening. Rose R. going with us. Karol [her brother] says I’m stepping out—poor boy complains that he isn’t in my class anymore! Well, Annette Kellerman certainly thrilled me last night. I’m trying to imitate her—K. says I’m deluded!


January 20

McKitrick perhaps the John Collins McKitterick in Helen's class at Washington University. In 1915 as a freshman he was on the interclass football team. He was also in the Obelisk honors society.

January 21

Wesley Raymond Wells, Ph.D., Asst. Prof. of Education

1913 U of Vermont. 

From the 1927 Lake Forest yearbook

Earnest R Kroeger was the head of Kroeger School of Music. He talked on The Emotional and the Picturesque in Music that day.

Unc Lou was Louis Lieberstein (Dec. 18,1879-1931), husband of Helen's Aunt Beryl. He was a pharmacist. His parents were Max and Bertha, first-generation immigrants. His WWI draft card shows he lived at 4720 Newberry Terrace in St. Louis. His work address was on Euclid. He was stout, of medium height, with brown hair and brown eyes.

January 22 (Washington’s Birthday; school holiday)

The Orpheum Theatre was built in 1918 at the corner of 9th and St. Charles Sts. It was a vaudeville theater built in the Parisian style at a cost of $500,000. Annette Kellerman was playing there.

Dr. Huebner may be the Gustavus A. Huebner who appears in the 1887 City Directory as a teacher.

January 23

Kale may be a family nickname for her brother Karol Korngold. 

January 26

Annette Kellerman (1886-1975) was an Australian competitive swimmer, vaudeville star, and movie actress whose movie Queen of the Sea ( ) was just out.  

According to a Reno, NV newspaper article on January 14, 1919, Kellerman played a naiad in a ‘submarine fairy story’ that was ‘packed with thrilling stunts’ and ended in a high-wire act with an 85-foot plunge into the sea. 

Her 1907 performance in the Hippodrome’s glass tank led to the popularity of synchronized swimming.  

Kellerman ’s movies include The Mermaid in 1907, in which she was the first to wear a swimmable mermaid costume, and A Daughter of the Gods in 1916 which included the first filmed nude scene. She is on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

Kellerman was the first to design and wear a one-piece bathing suit, which led to her arrest.  She marketed her swimwear.

She never used a double but did all her own stunts. She was a vegetarian and a writer about fitness and beauty. She has a star on the

Friday, January 25, 2019

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

"Poverty was like a stagnant pool of mud that pulled at our feet and refused to let go." from Maid by Stephanie Land

I'll be brutally honest, and you can "unfollow" me if you want, I don't care, but ever since Presidents Roosevelt and Johnson created social programs to help the poor there have been politicians determined to slash, limit, and end them. And one of their methods is to vilify the poor as blood-sucking, lazy, ignorant, "self-entitled" criminals who live off the hard earned tax dollars squeezed from hard-working, honest, salt-of-the-earth, red-blooded Americans.

I have known some of "those people," and yes, they sometimes made bad choices, but they also worked to improve their lives. Like my cousin who ran away at sixteen and returned, pregnant, without a high school degree. She was on welfare and food stamps. She also got a GED and learned to drive and found a job...which was eliminated by budget cuts. After floundering for some time, she found work again, and even love. Then died young of a horrible autoimmune disease.

Or the couple who worked abroad to teach English as a second language to pay off their school debts, then returned to America and could not find jobs. The wife returned to school for an advanced degree. She graduated after the economy tanked and still could not find work in her area. They relied on WIC when their child was born. They have lived in poverty their entire marriage, the woman working for ETS and online tutoring.

Stephanie Land had dreams, hoping some day to go to college. Her parents had split up, her mom's husband resentful and her dad broke because of the recession. She was self-supporting when she became pregnant. When she decided to keep her baby her boyfriend became abusive. She was driven to take her daughter and leave him. 

And so began her descent into the world of homelessness, poverty, the red-tape web of government programs. She worked as a maid, even though she suffered from a pinched nerve and back pain and allergies. The pay was miserable, her travel expenses uncovered. She found housing that was inadequate, unsafe, and unhealthy. Black mold kept her daughter perpetually sick with sinus and ear infections.

I know about that. Our infant son was ill most of the year with allergies, sinus infections, ad ear infections. It made him fussy and overactive and every time he was sick it made his development lag. We were lucky. We could address the environmental causes. We found a specialist who treated him throughout his childhood.

Maid is Stephanie Land's story of those years when she struggled to provide for her daughter. She documents how hard it is to obtain assistance and even the knowledge of what aid is available, the everlasting exhaustion of having to work full time, taking her daughter to and from daycare, and raise her child on a razor-thin budget. All while cleaning the large homes of strangers.

And that is the other side of the book, the people who hire help at less than minimum wage, some who show consideration and others who like her invisible. How a maid knows more about her clients than they can imagine. 

Land worked hard. Really hard. She had to. Finally, she was able to go to school and write this book. She crawled out of the mire. What is amazing is that anyone can escape poverty. You earn a few dollars more and you lose benefits. 

Land is an excellent writer. She created scenes that broke my heart, such as when her mother and her new husband come to help Land move. Her mom suggests they go out to lunch, then expects Land to pay for the meal. Land had $10 left until the end of the month. Even knowing this, they accepted it. Then, her mom's husband complained Land acted 'entitled'. I was so angry! I felt heartbroken that Land and her daughter were shown so little charity. 

I think about the Universal Basic Income idea that I have read about. How if Land received $1,000 a month she would have been able to provide her daughter with quality daycare or healthy housing. She would have been able to spend more time on her degree and work fewer weekends. She would have been off government assistance years sooner.

But that's not how the system works. Because we don't trust poor people to do the right thing. We don't trust them to want to have a better life. We don't believe they are willing to work hard--work at all.

Remember The Ghost of Christmas Present who shows Scrooge the children hiding under his robes, Ignorance and
Want? We have the power to end ignorance and want. We choose not to. Instead, we tell people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, even when they are without shoes.

That's my rant. Yes, progressive liberal stuff. But also in the spirit of the Christ who told us that if we have two shirts, give one to the poor. The Christ who said not to judge other's faults and ignore your larger ones--judging being the larger one. The Christ who taught mercy to strangers. 

Perhaps Land's memoir will make people take a second look at mothers on assistance. Under the cinders is a princess striving to blossom. 

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

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive
by Stephanie Land
Hachette Books
Pub Date 22 Jan 2019 
ISBN 9780316505116
PRICE $27.00 (USD)

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Marmee & Louisa by Eve LaPlante

Marmee & Louisa by Eve LaPlante
Little Women quilt by Nancy A. Bekofske
pattern by Marion Cheever Whiteside Newton
Marmee & Louisa by Eve LaPlante was the perfect book to read after reading the ARC Louisa on the Front Lines by Samantha Seiple and Meg Jo Beth Amy by Anne Boyd Rioux. LaPlante, who is a distant cousin to Louisa May Alcott, had access to family documents and letters. Her book concentrates on the relationship between mother Abigail May Alcott and daughter Louisa while also covering the entire family and Louisa's career.

I very much enjoyed the book, but I didn't always like all the characters...okay, one character...Bronson Alcott, the patriarch.

The March girls, Little Women quilt
Abigail May worked her entire life for women's rights and equality and abolition. Her brother was a leader in the Unitarian church, suffrage movement, and an ardent abolitionist.

Abigail was unable to have the formal education her brother  Samuel enjoyed, but read his books and educated herself with his help. She aspired to be a teacher, someone who contributed to the world.

Then she met the charismatic Bronson, a self-educated man with big ideas and a golden tongue. They fell in love and Abigail hitched her wagon to his star. Samuel was smitten, too, as eventually was all the Transcendentalists who later supported Bronson...even when they became weary of him.

That support was not just in philosophy and friendship but financial. Bronson was too radical to keep his teaching positions and too intent on "higher things" to worry about how to put food on the table or a roof over the heads of his growing family. And he traveled--a lot--leaving his family to fend for themselves.
Marmee learning her husband is in a prisoner of war camp
Little Women quilt
Abigail relied on the compassion of their friends and family but also found any work she could--sewing, teaching, social work, nursing. Young Louisa felt for her mother and pledged to aid the family. She took jobs she disliked but also as a teenager started to write stories for magazines. They were sensational, Gothic thrillers that brought in quick cash. She was particularly adept at imagining these tales.

Perhaps because she was so familiar with the powerlessness of women from watching her mother's toil, hardships, physical exhaustion and decline, mental anguish, while also indulging in acts of charity and working for abolition and women's right to vote.

Louisa was an active girl and young woman, wary of love and thirsting for the wider world, when at thirty she signed up to work as a nurse caring for the wounded men of the Civil War. Within six weeks she became ill and was near to death when Bronson came to take her home. Abigail nursed Louisa back to life, if not health; for the rest of Louisa's 56 years, she suffered from ill health, perhaps from Lupus.
Marmee and Louisa packing for Louisa's trip
Little Women quilt

Louisa kept writing and when Little Women was published became a sensation. She was able to finally support her family as she had always wanted, taking the burden off Abigail.

For the rest of her life, Louisa took care of her mother and family. She fulfilled her mother's dream by voting in an election.

The love and care between these women, Abigail and Louisa, is touching and inspiring, their strength of will humbling, their story timeless.

Learn more about the book and author and discover reading guides at

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

A Ruby McKim Bird Life Quilt Top

I was thrilled when a Ruby McKim pattern showed up at my quilt group's weekly show and tell. I perked up as soon as I saw that red, and when I saw one of the embroidered blocks I knew right off what my friend had: Bird Life, also called the Audubon Quilt.
The pattern was published in newspapers in 1928. This quilt top is a family heirloom made by a woman who passed in the 1950s. So she likely saved the pattern and made this quilt in the late 20s or early 30s.
The embroidery is amazing. For the penguin, the artist used a strand of white and a strand of black and the iceberg in blue and white.

You can find the pattern newly issued at McKims Studios:

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Learning to See by Elise Hooper: A Novel of Dorothea Lange, the Woman who Revealed the Real America

I knew the photography of Dorothea Lange but little about her personal life so I was glad to be given the opportunity to read Learning to See by Elise Hooper.

Hooper's novel offers an accessible narrative of Lange's life from her point of view. Lange's childhood polio left her with a limp from a deformed foot. She established a successful portrait photography career until the Depression when her work dwindled. With two children and an artist husband, Lange had to give up her studio to work for the Farm Security Administration.
Migrant mother photo by Dorothea Lange

Using her portrait experience, Lange created iconic photographs that recorded the devastation of the Dust Bowl and the misery of farm migrants. During WWII she was employed by the Office of War Information to document the internment of Japanese Americans.
Internment camp photo by Dorothea Lange

Through Lange's eyes, readers experience the human suffering of poverty and systemic racism.

Lange's marriage to her first husband, artist Maynard Dixon, was strained. Her extensive traveling meant leaving her sons and the book addresses her son's anger and acting out. While photographing for the OWI she worked with Paul Taylor who became her second husband.

Famous photographers appear in the story's background, including Ansel Adams.

The novel is "inspired" by Lange's life. Hooper offers a woman filled with doubts and remorse while facing up to the authorities who repress the photographs that too honestly recorded atrocities and the forgotten.

Lange's life as an artist and a woman will enthrall readers.

Learning to See
Elise Hooper
William Morrow
On Sale Date: January 22, 2019
ISBN: 9780062686534, 0062686534
$15.99 USD, $19.99 CAD, £9.99 GBP

Learn more about Lange at

American Experience:
The J. Paul Getty Museum
The Library of Congress:

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A Glad Obedience: Why and What We Sing

As a young minister's wife in an aging congregation, I was asked to play the piano for the weekly pre-worship hymn sing. They handed me a 1930s hymnal and called out hymn titles.
I did not know the hymns that meant something to this older congregation: Trust and ObeySoftly and Tenderly Jesus is CallingStanding on the PromisesI Need Thee Every Hour.

The people were confounded. I was asked, "If you don't know these hymns what will you think of on your deathbed to bring you comfort!" Other hymns, I responded.

As my husband was moved from church to church there was an adjustment to each congregation's most beloved hymns and the challenge of teaching hymns from the new hymnal.

Hymn singing is a communal act that reinforces a congregation's identity and faith commitment. It is often the highlight of worship for most in the pews. The hymns comfort and they confirm and they spur to be better.

As choral singer since childhood, I have long understood that to sing is to be part of a community, working together toward a common goal. Singing in worship is an act of praise, a confirmation of faith, and can spur a recommitment of intent.

Walter Brueggemann's A Glad Obedience examines the tradition of song in worship, beginning with the Psalms and then considering classic and contemporary hymns including “Blest Be the Ties That Binds,” "Holy Holy Holy,"“God's Eye Is on the Sparrow,” "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling," "O For a Closer Walk With God," “Once to Every Man and Nation,” “Someone Asked the Question,” and “We Are Marching in the Light of God.”

In Part I, he asks, Why do we sing this psalm? Beginning with Psalm 104, a creation hymn, he breaks down its parts to explain what it meant to its original singers. For instance, "the song is sung in an arid climate" and uses water imagery (You make springs gush forth in the valleys) as affirmation that all life, human and plant and animal, "stand together before the life-giving gifts of God."

As Brueggemann walks us through the Psalms he leads readers into a deeper understanding of the text and faith.

"We sing our penultimacy as an act of resistance and as a proposal of alternative. The resistance performed by this singing is against the reduction of creation to a series of commodity transactions because it is all gift...It is the affirmation that we live in a generous context of abundance in which there is enough for all of God's creatures." from A Glad Obedience by Walter Brueggemann

Part Two, What We Sing, Brueggemann considers traditional and contemporary hymns. He "relishes the words, phrases, and images that lie deep in our faith tradition" to show how attentiveness to the hymn lyrics challenge the "dominant worldly ideology" and can lead to"joyous risk-taking obedience."

One of my favorite hymns, God of Grace and God of Glory by Harry Emerson Fosdick, is included. "Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the living of these days," "Cure thy children's warring madness, bend our pride to thy control," "Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore," are lines that seem to be always relevant.

Brueggemann first presents the hymn's historical context, written in 1930, during the depression and in a time when the world "struggled with systemic disarmament." He considers the theological bent of Fosdick's Social Gospel and how the hymn's theology is related to that of his contemporaries Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr (author of the well-known Serenity Prayer). Then he breaks the hymn down with a commentary.

A neglected hymn which Brueggemann admires is based on James Russell Lowell's 1845 poem "Once to Every Man and Nation." Lowell wrote the words as a protest against President Polk's expansionist war with Mexico as a way to add slave states to shift the balance of power.

Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah,
Offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
'Twixt that darkness and that light.
            from Once to Every Man and Nation

Brueggemann relates the hymn's time and purpose to the current president's immigration policy. Brueggemann writes, "...when we sing this hymn...we also sing concerning our own moral crisis in which the quality and future of our common humanity is at stake."

Brueggemann prods us to pay attention to what we sing, to let the words deepen our faith and make manifest in our actions the values we proclaim to hold.

The Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann is the author of over 100 books. Read a sample of this book at

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

A Glad Obedience
Why and What We Sing
by Walter Brueggemann
Westminster John Knox Press
Pub Date: 15 Jan 2019
ISBN: 9780664264642
PRICE: $18.00 (USD)

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Diary of Helen Korngold: January 13-19, 1919

Helen Korngold, December 1919, New York City


Monday 13
Up—Wellston. Class—Dr. Holmes began her lecture. It sounds good. We all cut Shakespeare. Dr. Mck must be raving! Home. Orchestra—a fine rehearsal. Letter from Ruth—Read.

Tuesday 14
Up—Wellston—Class—Dr. Holmes lecture II. I like her. Miss Cozy Cornors & Mr. Atheltia’s party. Home—Dress—lecture—Everybody treats us fine. Summer came. He’s lots of fun. He’s reading my “Without Benefit of Clergy.” Doesn’t like it. I do. Will educate him! Letter from Jewell. 8 pages. Exciting. Home—Bed.

Wednesday 15
Up—dress—eat—Wellston—Class—nothing exciting. Lecture III. Home—eat—dress. Summer took me to War Exposition. Enjoyed it immensely—He’s a nice fellow! A good teaser. He’s a Bostonian propagandist. I love St. Louis! Home—Bed.

Thursday 16
After breakfast—Wellston—Class—good day. Last of Dr. Home’s lecture on Social Ed.—a very fine woman, best lecture of all. Miss Macauley’s tea—she quite fussed me. However--! I can stand it! Home—study—bed. Letter from Lenna King Connley.

Friday 17
After breakfast—Wellston. Kids had good lesson. The boys are cute, but the girls are dull. Class—dancing—home.

Saturday 18
Up—dress—eat—fool around. School. Dr. McCourt is a peach—showed us telescope. Ed. 12—Sip & Margaret Martin & I enjoy that class. Sip giggles all the time. Dr. Usher gave a fine lecture. Junior Council Board meeting & home. Fool around. Bathe. Made date for pop with E.

Sunday 19
Clean up house after breakfast. Dinner. Dress for pop concert. Ernest E. he liked me too well. He’s all right but I don’t fancy him. I amuse myself while with him. Steindel played wonderfully well. Home—eat—Aunt Beryl’s. Home & to bed.

January 13

Professor Holmes Smith, A.M.  taught art education.

Associate Professor of  English William Roy Mackenzie, Ph.D. and Assistant in English Mrs. William Roy (Ethel) Stuart Mackenzie, A.B. both taught at Washington University in McMillan Hall.  The course listing reads:
21. Shakespeare. A close and critical study of six plays: in 1918-19 Twelfth Night, 1 Henry IV, Macbeth, Othello, Winter's Tale, Henry V. Three hours a week. Credit 6 units

January 14

Without Benefit of Clergy by Rudyard Kipling first appeared in MacMillan's Magazine and in Harper's Weekly in June 1890. The story concerns an English Civil Servant in India who falls in love with a Muslim woman. They share a secret life together, outside of society. They have a child, but their happiness ends when the child and ‘wife’ both die. Mixed marriages were not tolerated in Colonial India, and unless the woman converted to Christianity the pair could not have legally married. Thomas Hardy’s novel The Return of the Native was first published in 1878.

The main female character becomes involved in illicit love affairs.

January 15

The War Exposition was a traveling exhibit about Allied efforts during WWI, sponsored by the American Government. An advertisement stated military men could attend free to see “1000s of Relics” from Europe, band music, and a review of the troops. It was held at the Coliseum.

January 16

Martha Gause McCaulley, Ph.D. was Dean of Women and Instructor in English, McMillan Hall, at Washington University.

Lena King Connely was born July 23, 1895, and died Sept. 25, 1989, and is buried in Calvary Cemetery, DeSoto, Jefferson Co., MO.

January 18

Dr. Walter Edward McCourt, A.M. was dean of the School of Architecture and of the School of Engineering. He taught Geography courses and resided at 6060 Berlin avenue. Course description:

General Geology. The principles of geology, including earth structure, forces modifying the surface and structure of the earth, and earth history. Lectures, field trips, and laboratory work. Three hours a week. Open to all students. 6 credits.

Margaret Gray Martin was a student at Washington University

Junior Auxiliary of the Council of Jewish Woman.  Helen attended a national convention of Junior Council while in New York City on December 28.

January 19

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1880, the second oldest symphony in the country. Max Zach was the conductor at this time. Information about his career can be found at:
Max Steindel
Max Steindel was born in Germany in 1891 and died in 1964 after forty seasons with the St Louis Symphony.

He became lead cellist in1912 at age 21. He was principal cellist for 41 seasons.

The January 19, 1919, St. Louis Dispatch gives the Pops concert program as Tschaikowsky's Variation on a Rococo Theme, Massenet Two Entr-Actes, Clifton's Adagio for Orchestra, and Berlioz Rakoczy March. Index Point_

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Memory Quilts the Modern Way!

This is a memory quilt. It's not the kind of memory quilts I made 28 years ago! It is sophisticated and edgy in design while bringing comfort to family separated by distance. 
Otherwise/Autrement, 45" x 60"
Modern Quilting is all the rage. The use of negative space and graphic design suits contemporary tastes influenced by Mid-Century design. Susanne Parquette shows today's quilters how to mix Modern with sentimental in Modern Memory Quilts: A Handbook for Capturing Meaningful Moments. The twelve quilts in the book are actual commissioned memory quilts made by Paquette, who includes the people and stories behind each quilt.

Many of my friends are Hexie addicts. Here is a Hexie quilt that uses a half-hexagon pattern alternating with full hexies that are fussy cut from a child's clothing. 
Paquette includes advice on how much yardage can be gleaned from shirts in various sizes and quilting cotton.

Quilts can be personalized with embroidery or imagery, as in the quilt below. She used the same pattern with a bird silhouette.

Paquette walks us through the process, beginning with Memory Keeping: remembering, documenting, and perspective. She moves on to Empathy+Design on the "collaborative voice" in memory quilt design. Color Stories addresses color basics. She discusses the tools and construction methods needed to work with clothing.

These memory projects aren't like photographs, they are "hidden in plain sight," blending into the decor.

Striped Half-Square Triangle pillows are very cool and functional. A surprise is the strips of a fur coat! A casual visitor may not recognize them as holding a memory, but the family will recall their loved ones with every use.

The Initial quilt was a "leaving home' quilt for a son going off to college. This is an easy half-square triangle pattern.

My first memory quilts were made from my mother's painting smocks after her early death from cancer. I used traditional quilt blocks. Parquette used a beloved father's clothing in Connect the Dots, made with large quarter-circle blocks alternating with solid square blocks.

Intersections can be made with 10-12 adult clothing pieces or 24-36 baby/child pieces. Here, a pet dog's clothing is included.
Other projects included are a pieced apron, Arabesque, Modern Mandela, an easy Mosiac made of rectangles and squares, bed-sized Arrow quilt.

My mind is filled with ideas! I lost a cousin last year and her children are asking about memory quilts. This book couldn't have come at a better time.

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

A Handbook for Capturing Meaningful Moments,12 Projects + The Stories That Inspired Them
by Suzanne Paquette
Stash Books
8" x 10"
128p + pattern pullouts, color
ISBN: 978-1-61745-565-0
UPC: 734817-112662
(eISBN: 978-1-61745-566-7)
 Book ($28.95)
 eBook ($23.99)
Here are memory quilts I have made over the years.

I used my mother-in-law's handkerchiefs and printed family photos on fabric to make this wall hanging.
My first memory quilt used my mother's plaid painting smocks. It was the second quilt I had ever made.
My sister-in-law gave me some lace that had been in her family which I used these two quilts.

Last year I finally finished this quilt made with my father-in-law's shirts.
Another quilt made with mom's painting shirts.
I used my mother-in-law's counted cross stitch embellished clothing to make a dozen pillows for family members. I incuded her handkerchiefs and trims and buttons from her sewing room.
My mother-in-law's niece loved this dress she wore which I turned into a pillow.