Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Mid-Spring Book Report and a Summer List

Today was book group day.  A very good day.  Did I tell you that I'm now in two book groups?  (In 2013 I was in 0 book groups!)  And they meet on the same day?  And this month we discussed the same book?  My favorite book from last year -- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  (Have you read this yet?  Please do.)  A very, very good day.

On our pal, Christie's,  recommendation, Clay and I read The Girl You Left Behind last week.  So good.  Like The Goldfinch, this story centers around a painting and the people who become tangled in its ownership.

And then, because Jojo must love me as much as I love her (and she must know how I hate to say goodbye to my favorite characters), she wrote Honeymoon in Paris, a little book which is only available in e-form, and is a quick read and a sweet addition to the novel.

I was excited to read Amy Tan's Valley of Amazement.  But then I was amazed to find I didn't much like it.  I have loved every other Amy Tan novel, but this one was long, repetitious, sad and gave the full inside scoop into early 20th century flower houses in Shanghai (please don't call them prostitutes.  It's completely different.  Did you know that?  Do you care?  After the first 100 pages, I didn't.  After 589, I still didn't.)  I'll read her next one, but if I never see the word "pudenda" again, I'll be really, really  happy.

I listened to The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin in the sewing room, but I want to buy a copy and hand it around to my friends.  This is a beautiful book, set in Washington state at the turn of the century.  It's all about strangers and saviors -- what do we owe to those who simply appear in our lives?  (The reader of this book on Audible was amazing.)

2014 Summer Reading List:

First off, I'm reading Alice Munro's Runaway for our friend, Tim's, library reading group.  Actually, after returning the book to the library after I failed to get past the first story in the two weeks I had the book, I'm now going to listen to it while I sew tomorrow.
Then, for June book group, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

This one, During the Reign of the Queen of Persia by Joan Chase, is an NPR recommendation.  It was published in 1983, and is set on a farm in Ohio.  Why have I never heard of this book?  Crossing my fingers . . .

Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman was recommended by my friend, Becky, who read it with her son's reading group -- they read some very interesting books.  This one is the the story of Nelly Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, who raced around the world in 80 days a la Jules Verne.  I am really looking forward to this one, although my last few forays into historical fiction were sad disappointments (The Aviator's Wife, Loving Frank, The Paris Wife) -- but since I have no great pre-conceived notions about Nelly Bly as I did about Lindbergh, Wright and Hemingway, I bet this willl be enlightening and fun.

I See you Made an Effort:  Compliments, Indignities and Surreal Stories from the Edge of 50 by Annabelle Gurwitch.  Do I need to say more?

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.  This one has been on my Amazon wish list for months.  It was an "if you liked The Goldfinch . . ." recommendation. The story revolves around a 14 year-old girl and a teapot -- I'm not sure where the wolves come in to the story . . .

 And One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, which comes out in July.  I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait.


Also on the list:  My Name is Resolute by Nancy E. Turner, I Shall Be Near You by Erin Lindsay McCabe and Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman.  The summer won't be long enough . . .


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sweet Spring Flowers and a Quilt


I wish you could smell them, because they would make you happy.

Until I come up with something better, my old-fashioned lilac bush is the best place to hang little quilts for outdoor picture-taking.  And when the lilacs are blooming, it's a double treat.

This is my most recent completed baby quilt, made for friends of Will's who just had a sweet baby girl.  The fabrics are from the Wee Wander Collection from Sarah Jane Studios, supplemented with some orange I had in my piles of fabrics, plus the yellow with orange dots I found at Sharynn's Quilt Box in North Vernon. 

I divided the main panel of children catching fireflies and inserted two rows of pinwheels, a la Stacy at freshly handmade -- such a great idea.  I added some sashing, and a border of more pinwheels, because now that I have the great ruler I told you about earlier, these half square triangle blocks are much more fun.  

And I'm doing a little better with my machine quilting.  

After lots of reading, I realize that there are several keys to good machine quilting:  a sharp new needle, good thread and correct tension.  And practice.

I think I went a little overboard on this one, but things were going so well, and I just kept quilting.  And quilting.  And quilting.  

I added a few little words:

Peace is on there somewhere, too.