4 Stars–and Not a Book Review

When I once said I wasn’t quilting because I was reading, one of my friends chided me for not doing both. Sounded reasonable, so I tried. Yesterday I planned to read a bit then sew.  Nope. Too easy to get into one-more-chapter mode. Today I tried sewing first. Has potential (unless a due date at library looms).

So I made four stars for the Irish Stars #2 quilt. (You are not surprised that I am working on a top instead of the sandwich pinning, are you?)

1 4 stars

I guess my reading attention span is longer than my sewing span because I stopped for lunch then pulled out my book. But not before laying out a little sample of finished look.

1 star layout

I explained earlier (here) why the alternating square blocks are still in strips. (I will admit to being surprised that is has been on the back burner since April. Old blog posts keep me honest.) Mine is the 2 1/2-inch square version.  Deanna, of Wedding Dress Blue, made the 1 1/2-inch square version, and it is her header photo (here); she also has a tab for the quilt along where the tutorial can be found.

Should take a couple days to finish the stars (depending on how interesting the reading), then out comes the design bed for lots of fun layout pondering and moving of pieces. Then sewing real fast so I can have a living room again.

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A Different Sort of War Story

Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War IILast Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II by Svetlana Alexievich

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Never having lived in a war zone, I was hardly prepared for these vignettes. I had to pause often as I read this collection of memories of those who were children during WWII. Amazingly, the style of each is poetic, so I wondered to what extent Alexievich had edited them. (Of course what I read was a translation, but I am assuming the translator retained the style of the original.) That I even asked that question may have been a way to gain distance.

Alexievich, the bio says, has spent most of her life in Belarus, and most of the vignettes referenced Minsk, though one was of the siege of Leningrad. The age range of the children at the start of the war ranges from 0-13–a few had not been born at the beginning of the war.

I did not see a pattern to the arrangement other than alternating between the very young and 10-13 year olds. Although all were deeply moving, some were more horrible than others–those were spread out, and the last several seemed to have more detail about the victory.

What amazed me most was children having to see their parents shot, then having to make decisions about what to do. Others had been left at home and had to decide between waiting for mother to return or evacuate when other neighbors were leaving. Some had an older sibling, but others (6-8 year olds) were the older sibling. Some hunted Mama. Some started out with a parent, but got separated.

Hunger was ever present: the siege of Leningrad, 900 days; hiding in the forests; orphanages making do with what they had.

Many of the 12-13 year olds wanted to help fight; some did though the official age for joining was 16. One told of shooting a man.

All telling events no child should have to experience.

And all the while, as I read, I couldn’t help think that there are children having these experiences now, caused not by Germans but by us, directly in Iraq and Afghanistan, indirectly in Yemen and Syria. This is a book all leaders should read before the choice is made to go to war. This is a book people like me who have not experienced war first hand need to read.

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Gingerbread Union Station

It is time for my (almost) annual visit to the Benson Hotel’s gingerbread creation by Chef Duffendorfer, a delightful tradition. While the castles he creates are elegant, I especially like recognizable creations like this year’s Union Station.

1 union station left s

The roof tiles, station windows, and bridge are chocolate–15 lbs of dark chocolate were used. See the snowman under the bridge?

1 snowman underpass s

The photo makes it look like a snow mouse, but it was a snowman IRL. The snow is made from white chocolate, 30 lbs of it.

Here’s a front view.

1 union station center s

The train and tracks are not made from chocolate (nor was the train running), but what is a train station without a train? IRL there is no pond, but it makes a prettier creation! I love the details: especially the decorated tree and another snowman.

 

And the chocolate “gravel” on the path! Thirty lbs of marzipan were used in various details.

The White Stag sign is a Portland landmark.

1 union station right s

The White Stag building is in the NW area, but not so close to the station as the creation looks.  But it is so Portland, that it is great to have it in the creation. Around Christmas time the white stag is turned into Rudolf. Alas, even my detail photo doesn’t show the red nose.

1 white stage detail

And gingerbread.  The creation took 200 lbs of housemade gingerbread to complete. I couldn’t smell the gingerbread this year, but I believe it was there.

 

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Easy Move from Finishng Up to Starting

My plan for the week was to make backs and sandwich five tops I’ve made recently. (I have lots more tops, but they are out of sight.) I started with this top

1 QBB front

Its beginning and pattern information are here.  Most of my backing fabric has large print designs. That just wouldn’t work with the binding I’d cut.

1 QBB binding

The first place I start looking is among stuff that is out lying around. I spotted some solids that would combine nicely and made the back.

1 QBB back.jpg

The largest piece is darker than photo, more cranberry; the narrow piece deep maroon.

As I was folding the top and back together, I remembered why the fabrics had been lying out.  They were possibilities for the stars in my Irish Star quilt (see QAL button in sidebar) that started as a leader-ender project and has been waiting for its next step. Two fabrics had tails I could make stars from; the other two had been all used up.

So I interrupted my finishing streak after one top to cut the stars so I don’t make the same mistake again. (Starting is always more fun than finishing.) As of now my plan is to cut, then return to finishing. No promises.

 

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Ursula Le Guin Was a Blogger

No Time to Spare: Thinking About What MattersNo Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wish I had known Ursula Le Guin was a blogger while she was alive and blogging! Second best is reading this collection from her blog entries.

They are arranged relatively thematically, definitely not chronologically. Pard, the cat, entries are grouped in small groups and spread throughout. I think that works to maintain interest in them, having them pop up now and again. And as humorous relief. The small groupings each have a theme: finding and adopting Pard, Pard claiming the mobius scarf and time machine, Pard and the mice. My favorite line from these is “He just doesn’t accept the lap hypothesis” (30). People who love cats will especially like these entries.

Given my interest in resisting ageism, it is not surprising that I liked the first section, “Going Over Eighty.” Mostly it is an honest assessment of aging and the changes it brings; it also involves poking fun at euphemism. Another favorite statement:
“‘You’re only as old as you think you are!’
Now, you don’t honestly think having lived 83 years is a matter of opinion” (13)

Essays cover many topics: war, the economy, literature, language–many involve looking closely at something often overlooked. Her love of language shows in her analyses and in her descriptions.

A book to read more than once.

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Two Baby Quilts and a Doll Quilt Finshed

All finished and ready to take to guild tonight. The last two, as the others, got meander quilting.

1 squares finished

1 animal finished

I thought the animal print was really cute and that the dark blue would set it off well; it does but it makes for a rather dark baby quilt. To lighten it a bit, I quilted it in bright green.

1 animal detal

It helped only a little.

After a lot of dithering, I bordered the butterfly doll quilt. A dark showed up the butterfly much better than the light I had started out with. It took several tries to find the right dark.

1 buttrfly finished

16 x 16

And a cuddle fabric backing.

1 butterfly back

Sometimes the cuddle fabric doesn’t shed, but most times it does. Not sure what the trick is when cutting it. I’ll be glad when the stash of it is used up. I’m getting there–most have to be pieced now.

History: Beginning (here); process (here and here). It’s pretty rare that posts in a row contain start, process, and finish.

If I remember I’ll edit later to join Let’s Make Baby Quilts and TGIFF.

 

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A Pleasant Surprise

Usually tasks take longer than I anticipate. Not this time. Three of the baby quilts are finished, the lotto-block quilts.

3lotto fnished

The quilting is mostly meander, though I couldn’t resist putting some stars in the ship’s night sky.

3boat quilting

I didn’t wait to blog until all 5 were finished because I wanted a finish to link up to TGIFF (Here) Beginning of the quilt here.

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