Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hands 2 Help Challenge is Back!

It's time once again for the Hands 2 Help challenge. Sign-ups begin on March 11. Click on the H2H button in my sidebar, and it will take you to the explanation of the charity challenge. There are three different charities you can send quilts to. You can choose one, two or all three of them to donate quilts! It's always so much fun to learn about the different charities and to see all the gorgeous quilts that people send in. Quilters are so generous! I love that about us.

One of the charities is taking tops (not finished quilts) and the size must be 50" x 70". Guess what. Just today I finished a top that is exactly that size. So I am already 1/3 of the way completed with this year's challenge. How serendipitous! This is the top I just finished:

Can you help donate a quilt(s) this year? Just follow the link and start sewing!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Book Review: Beartown

Beartown by Fredrik Backman. This story takes place in a small town surrounded by forest. (The forest plays a role in the book.) The townspeople rally around their local boys' hockey team, in fact almost get their identity and fulfillment vicariously through the team. Two things I didn't like about this book: (1) it was about hockey, which I don't like and (2) it seemed to encompass all the stereotypes I don't like - kind of a 'boys will be boys' mentality surrounding the hockey team.

Friends who have read this book loved it, but I have my reservations. It is not ALL about hockey. The hockey culture is a key player in the story, but after a traumatizing event takes place, other viewpoints emerge. I felt that those other viewpoints slipped in too quietly and even surprisingly when the whole town, at least on the surface, seemed to thoroughly embrace the bad parts of hockey culture. Those other viewpoints were a breath of fresh air, but.. too little too late? I would have liked those voices to speak out louder and much earlier than they did.

I hope that if you read this book you will love it, as my friends have. If you're like me, however, you may not enjoy it as much as you hope. If you read it, please tell me your thoughts.

This is not me. Unfortunately. I am reading indoors under a quilt, surrounded outside by snow and cold.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Tripping Down Memory Lane

The college where husband and I met and from which we graduated is celebrating its 50th year of existence. My future father-in-law was its first business manager. Its first class opened in the fall of 1967. My future mother-in-law was a member of that charter class.

Each year they added one more class. I arrived in the fall of 1970, the first year they had four classes of students on campus. And that spring, in 1971, my future mother-in-law graduated with the charter class. I didn't know her or my hubby at the time, but I played in the band at her graduation ceremony.

Hubby and I started dating in the Fall of 1971, graduated in 1974, married in 1975, and now, suddenly, it's a million years later. How did this happen? Time is a funny thing.

We decided to take a road trip down to our old college and see what it looks like these days, and to peek at an art exhibit which has a piece of mine hanging in it. This exhibit is part of the college's 50th anniversary celebration.. they asked for alumni art and then picked the pieces they wanted. The exhibit changes about every six weeks. (Note: there were no classes in session on the Friday that we visited, so campus was very quiet and very few people show up in these pictures.)
I'm in the car on the way there. The college was built on a flat prairie; you can see the flatness out the car window. We were happy to see that the baby trees, planted while we were there, have grown up and are large and good for shade.

First thing we did was drive around town to see what we remembered. A lot has changed! This is the house my hubby and his family lived in since he was about 12 and while I dated him. It has been remodeled and is much bigger now. (My in-laws moved away long ago.)
Here we are!

The first picture is of my missing dorm. During my first three years on campus I lived in a dorm that was on this spot of ground. It has since been torn down.
The fourth picture, the dark and fuzzy one, is of the dorm I lived in during my senior year. The other pictures are general campus pictures; some scenes are things we had never seen before.

The next day we went back in the daylight. These two campus scenes are what we remember. The school was so new, it had only three main buildings. This courtyard was in the middle, and what we see in the picture is what we mostly remember. The campus is now much bigger. It looks great!

This structure was in the new student center which was finished about a year before we graduated. It had a skylight-type of dome over this structure. You can see it depicted in the next picture. Later the dome was removed, and they built more around and on top of this structure.

Here's the art exhibit I was in. Can you see my name on this sign outside the Whipple Gallery? Prof. Whipple was the Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts while we were there.
Some of the other art work.. the one below is a print of 400 sketches of horses, some very rough, some completed. I took a shot to show a detailed look at the small parts. Hubby is examining the big piece.

Bill Holm and Philip Dacey were two of our professors in English and Literature back in our day. The 2nd shot shows some book covers of books written by Bill Holm.

This is the hallway where my now-husband surprised me and asked me out on a date. I wasn't even aware that he knew who I was at the time! I was on my way to history class and then sat starry-eyed in class the whole hour without hearing a word the professor said. The second picture is the spot where he invited me to our 2nd date. After that, I don't remember any particular spots of importance.

I end with two pictures of the New - a view from the new student center, looking out toward the campus that we remember. And a view from the administration building, with a view of the dorm I lived in during my last year there.

What a fun visit! Old memories flooded back, and we enjoyed seeing all the changes on campus. And I got a new sweatshirt.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Book Review: Americanah

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie is an excellent writer. Her use of language is superb, and she is so insightful. This is the story of a woman who grows up in Nigeria, then moves to USA, then back to Nigeria. She meets various people, tries to make a life while being very cash-poor, works her way up, all the while observing relationships, USA culture, and marveling that she never "felt black" until she moved to America. Race was a much bigger thing in USA than she was ever used to experiencing in Nigeria. Her observations were astute and eye-opening. Upon her return to Nigeria, she once again makes brilliant observations of the changes and the culture that she had left many years before.

I wanted to love this book, and I sort of did upon finishing it. However, I struggled to get through it because it's long, and there were times when I found it difficult to put up with what was happening. I love the great writing, the main character at times, and the thoughtful insights that helped me see things more clearly. The sloggy parts make me give it a 4 rather than a 5 (out of a possible 5). Two other books by this author were awesome; this one a little less so.

[My favorite by this author is Half of a Yellow Sun.]

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Retreat in the Dead of Winter

I went to another quilt retreat. My cousin and a friend were in charge, so when they still had room, I signed up last minute. It was in northern Minnesota at a conservation center. This was the beautiful room in which we sewed:

I know it looks lonely here, but it was full of action for several days. This is at the end of the retreat when everyone but three of us had left; we were cramming in our last minute cutting and sewing.

It was very cold during our whole time there (at one point as low as -25 deg. F), so we spent very little time outside. My table was at this window, right by the bird feeder, so I had fun watching the birds.

You have probably seen this quilt before. It is very big (ten feet long!), so I had put off attaching the binding. I finally got that done, then I slept under the quilt the rest of the nights. It's a toasty warm quilt.

Jill worked on this; I love the pattern and wrote down the name... now if I can only remember where I wrote it down.

Kathy worked on this:

My sister made this quilt; I added some borders.

Several of us made drawstring gift bags. I'm in the front middle.

I enjoyed this retreat and the snow-covered, colder-than-heck north woods. I did not go crazy taking photos this time.

Monday, January 08, 2018

The Year Begins in Korea...

This year for Christmas my husband and I decided to buy one airline ticket to South Korea. Our daughter jetted off to spend some time with her brother who lives in Korea. They both thought it was a good idea and a good gift. It was for both of them, really. Other than that, they each got a book and a tiny bit of spending money.

Turned out to be an excellent gift which they both enjoyed immensely. They spent a few days in Korea, Daughter seeing Son's neighborhood and where he works and meeting his friends. Then they flew to Naha, Okinawa (Japan) for Christmas. They wanted to go somewhere warm, so they agreed to do this trip within a trip.

Daughter's caption on this photo read: I flew to Korea to see my brother! He looks pleased to see me.

Here's an Okinawa Christmas.

also appreciating the attractive manhole covers:

and the warmth and beauty of the beach:

On Christmas Day they saw Star Wars. It was in English with Japanese subtitles.

Back in Korea, here is a picture of Seoul. You probably know by now that I love to take pictures, and I take a LOT of them. My kids are not like me at all in this regard. This is about all I got to see. But this particular picture is monumental because of its circumstances. Daughter said: Went into Seoul solo while my brother worked. Took a bus, train and the subway all by myself!

They brought in the New Year in the city where Son works. All too soon it was time for Daughter to come back home. Husband and I felt so happy at the great reports we'd heard from them, and this final Facebook post from Daughter:
I can't explain how much this trip has meant to me. How much seeing my brother has meant. All you need to know is that he's amazing, and I'm going to miss him.

We think they're both amazing, and we are very pleased that they had such a magical time together. It was worth every penny.

The treats Daughter brought back for us -- cookies from Okinawa. The purplish ones on the right are sweet potato!