In my book pile

I keep lists of books to read. The likely ones end up in my pile.

Pile of Books

Here’s my most recent pile: Damming the OsageEating DirtGreening VermontHoneycomb KidsIn Wildness is the Preservation of the WorldNiagara DigressionsNuclear RouletteThe Greening of Oz; and The Last Atoll. This pile is only partly by my choice. I agreed to review nonfiction books about ecology and the environment. The reviews are due by May 15! I cleared my started pile and redefined it with the books to be reviewed. I did keep Into Thick Air: Biking to the Bellybutton of Six Continents just in case I needed to clear my head while reviewing.

I started the review process by looking at the pictures in In Wildness is the Preservation of the WorldGreening Vermont; and Damming the Osage. The photos are great! Without them I may have become overwhelmed by the process. (I’ll come back to the text later.) Then I began reading Eating Dirt which doesn’t have any pictures, but is very readable. I hope they all are this appealing.  Wish me luck!

Stitch a little stitch

I’ve been working on embroidery for at least a year. Here are some of my recent projects. These flowers are adapted from a design by Clare Youngs in the book Scandinavian Needlecraft. It was noted how similar this design is to some Ojibwa designs.

Flowers embroidered on a towel

This Día de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead) inspired design is my own. The design was sketched during a Wisconsin Library Association conference. (I contend that I can listen better when my hands are busy with a repetitive task.)

Embroidered Day of the Dead Skull

I was pleased with the results. The first attempt was freehand on the towel, which didn’t please me very much. Part of the problem was that the hoop was quite a bit smaller than the design, so I couldn’t see it all at once while I was working on it. Perhaps I will “fix” it someday by adding some pretty brains, but now I am interested in other projects.

Embroidered Trial Skull

Here’s another freehand, doodle design. I would like it better if the flowers had been based on actual plants.

Embroidered Square Flowers

The tree design was adapted from one by Aimée Ray in Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection. There is a design to inspire almost anyone in this fun book.

tree small

An upcycling project that I had been considering was to make a rug from old t-shirts. The process of cutting the strips held me back, even though I use a rotary cutter. Enter one of my favorite thrift stores, The Clothes Closet of Hettinger, North Dakota. I purchased two latch hook rug canvases, fabric strips, and a latch hook tool for one dollar! One rug was started, with a fabric strip for each “hole” in the canvas. It was bunched-up, but I thought that might be due the small size of the started rug. I added more strips. It didn’t get better. I took apart the rug and washed the fabric strips in a lingerie bag. The washing made the fabric curl up and easier to latch to the canvas. The Crafty Woman blog has detailed instructions on how to make a jersey rug and spacing the strips made the rug much easier to hook and it laid flat right away. The fabric strips that I used are 3/4″ wide by 6″ long.

T-shirt Rug

A project that I want to start is re-covering the cracked vinyl covers on four kitchen chair seats. Jenny suggested that I should cover the fabric with a clear vinyl so that they are easy to clean. What a great idea! If you have any suggestions before I start, please let me know. Here’s the fabric that I picked up  for the chairs at another favorite thrift store, Waupaca Thrift Store.

Chair Seat Fabric

While I was writing this post, I was listening to an audiobook until it got too difficult to write and focus on the story. Turns out that I can fold the laundry, but not compose, while listening. The book is The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken by Tarquin Hall, featuring the fictional private investegator Vish Puri. Besides the great title, the book provides a great description of contemporary India, detailed characters, and a good mystery without being too cozy or too violent. I highly recommend it to mystery readers. If you are a Wisconsin resident with a library card in good standing, you may download the audiobook through Wisconsin’s Digital Library. There is no additional cost for Wisconsin residents to check out this book, since it has already been paid for through taxes.

Stuff wants to be kept

I have stuff. George has stuff. It all wants to be kept.

We have lots of books. We acknowledge that we could fully insulate our small house with them, only if we could keep them on the shelf instead of in stacks and piles everywhere. It is pretty shocking to see what this librarian does with books. The library work is good for me though. I don’t need to own every book. Some can be borrowed physically. Some can be accessed digitally. Still, we have too many books. Especially the ones that George wants to keep! Do we really need to keep that c.1979 Biological Paths to Energy Self-Reliance by Russell E. Anderson Ph.D? There must be something more relevant that we can borrow and return anytime.

I suggested that we send Bentley Farm Cookbook by Virginia Williams Bentley (c.1974) on to a used book sale. George likes to read and re-read cookbooks. Reading for entertainment and education is good. But Bentley Farm actually spends a lot of time on the shelf. George responded with he was keeping it for this recipe on p. 267:

Never-Fail Pie Crust

(Enough pastry for a 9-inch, one-crust pie)

Be sure to have waxed paper on hand!

2 c all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur unbleached flour.)

1 t salt

1/2 c corn oil

1/4 c cold milk

Stir ingredients together, lightly, in order given. Form into ball. Flatten and shape into a circle on a piece of waxed paper. Cover with another piece of waxed paper and roll out, with a rolling pin, to desired size. Peel off the top piece of paper. Place pie plate, upside down, onto the pastry. Holding pastry and plate together, turn plate right side up. Gently peel waxed paper off pastry. If pastry tears, it is easily mended. Press pastry firmly into plate with fingers and fork. If you are going to bake shell with nothing in it, prick it all over with a fork so that the pastry will not blister.  Otherwise, do not make holes in pastry, for the filling will hold it down. Make a nice, rippled , upstanding edge with your fingers, and then push edge inward a bit, so it is not stuck to the rim of pie plate. This holds the filling in better, so it doesn’t run over, and also keeps edge from browning too fast. A good pie should not be stuck to the pie plate anywhere after it is baked. Ideally, it should slide around in the plate. This makes for easy serving. This recipe is a little more than enough for one pie, so you have plenty of pastry to play with to make a good high, thick collar.

Warning: Never chill this pastry before rolling. Chill it all you want after it is arranged in pie plate. In fact, I always place the pie plate in the refrigerator while preparing filling.

For baking pie shell alone: Bake in preheated 475° F oven for about 10 minutes. Cool on rack for maximum crispness.

George has written the following note in the book: Add 2 T oil and water to make 1/4 c. 2 T sugar. He is not as descriptive as Virginia as what to do with these ingredients.

Perhaps that this recipe is now here for him to access, he will be able to pass the book on to someone else. Would you like it?

Another post that I want to write is about junk and recyclables that want to be kept. I can support my favorite school, prevent breast cancer, and encourage the troops by gathering, distributing, and/or entering codes from the products I buy. But, I’m in a good mood now and want to spare you from that diatribe.

The complete quilt

Mom taught me how to sew when I was in second grade. One of my first projects was a t-shirt. Another project was a big stuffed whale. Mom had to help me with the zipper…the mouth had zipper lips to open and close it. I was delighted when she made the mistake of sewing the zipper in backwards (the zipper pull was towards the inside of the mouth). My part of the sewing was perfect…the biggest error was Mom’s.

What Mom didn’t teach me was how to finish a project in a timely manner. She has very little interest in finishing one project before starting another. This has been very freeing to me. Perhaps a little too freeing. I have no idea how many started, but unfinished projects I even have.

In the fall of 2011, a book caught my eye. It is Scandinavian Needlecraft and includes great embroidery designs, mostly on wool. The book wasn’t in our library system at the time, so I tried Scandinavian Stitches instead. Author Kajsa Wikman has lots of great designs in it, including soft baskets and stuffed fabric birds. I loved one of the baby quilts in the book, but I wasn’t about to make a quilt just to hang on the wall. It occurred to me that Jessie was having a baby in December and the quilt has lots of blue in it (a color that she might not see enough of these days). A winter theme, lots of blue, and a December baby…a perfect combination.

I dug through my stash and found the perfect colors for the sky. I needed a little more variety and was happy to find a great match at the local thrift store. A couple of small pieces were added for variety and everything was ready to go. The cutting and sewing began at Mom’s house on Thanksgiving weekend. The top went together quite quickly.

Fox peeking out from the snow

The hand quilting took longer. It turned out to be the perfect project for me. I quilted at the hospital while Grandpa Neil was there. I quilted at Grandma Siggie’s while we spent time together. I quilted at the nursing home while Grandpa Neil was there. I quilted with friends while taking time for myself. Some of the stars are less than perfect. Some stars have more than five points. Maybe Ivy and Clara will look for them when they need a quiet project.

Stars in the sky

Since I’ve never finished a quilting project, this was my first attempt at cutting the binding on a bias. I thought about it for quite a while, folded the fabric, and cut. Was I ever surprised to find the zig-zag that it made. Hindsight was much clearer than foresight.

First try at binding

It was a happy day when I got the bias tape cut, ironed, and rolled. The binding finally was domesticated.

Spool of binding

It was time for the label. Jenny made one for the quilt, but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. A friend told me about her label making process: spray adhesive on a sheet of printer paper; apply an oversize piece of fabric on it; cut the fabric to the size of the paper; feed the paper/fabric into the inkjet printer; print with the desired text; and set with a hot iron. Since I hope this quilt will withstand lots of washing, I decided to make the label more permanent by embroidering on top of the ink.

The fine print

It then seemed to take forever to finish the label and sew it onto the quilt. I had put off putting the binding on so that I could sew the label only on to the back of the quilt. I did everything just right for this process until the last moment, a moment of excitement, when I sewed the label through the entire thickness of the quilt. It was fortunate that the bobbin thread was white and nothing puckered in the process! I wasn’t about to tear it out at this point.

The completed quilt

The completed quilt

The finished quilt was ready to give to Jane on March 24, when we celebrated Grandma Elma’s 93rd birthday. Jane and I met for the first time. It was a good day for many reasons, a small one was that this project was completed!

And now for something completely different…

George made a very good supper of squash and nettle lasagna tonight. That’s right…stinging nettles turned into a yummy supper.

Everything is good with lots of cheese

Childhood book

Grandma and I have shared many stories from her youth within the last few months. Grandma moved with her family from Milwaukee to Colby to Abbotsford. With one of the moves, Great Grandma must have culled the family book collection. Grandma wished that the book Poems Teachers Ask For had been kept because she enjoyed it so much.

I went in search of a copy of of the book for Grandma and found Poems Teachers Ask For Book II. I’m not sure if Grandma will recognize the poetry in it or not. Based on my favorite poems in the book, I will like your poetry better if your name is Henry. The number of poems written in dialect (Irish accent, southern drawl, etc) in the book surprised me. I almost immediately skip over these, which is probably a loss for me.

Loss and Gain
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(1807-1882)

When I compare
What I have lost with what I have gained,
What I have missed with what attained,
Little room do I find for pride.

I am aware
How many days have been idly spent;
How like an arrow the good intent
Has fallen short or been turned aside.

But who shall dare
To measure loss and gain in this wise?
Defeat may be victory in disguise;
The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.

If All the Skies
by Henry Van Dyke
(1852 – 1933)

If all the skies were sunshine,
Our faces would be fain
To feel once more upon them
The cooling splash of rain.

If all the world were music,
Our hearts would often long
For one sweet strain of silence,
To break the endless song.

If life were always merry,
Our souls would seek relief,
And rest from weary laughter
In the quiet arms of grief.

The Height of the Ridiculous
by Oliver Wendell Holmes
(1809-1894)

I wrote some lines once on a time
In wondrous merry mood,
And thought, as usual, men would say
They were exceeding good.
They were so queer, so very queer,
I laughed as I would die;
Albeit, in the general way,
A sober man am I.

I called my servant, and he came;
How kind it was of him
To mind a slender man like me,
He of the mighty limb.

“These to the printer,” I exclaimed,
And, in my humorous way,
I added, (as a trifling jest,)
“There’ll be the devil to pay.”

He took the paper, and I watched,
And saw him peep within;
At the first line he read, his face
Was all upon the grin.

He read the next; the grin grew broad,
And shot from ear to ear;
He read the third; a chuckling noise
I now began to hear.

The fourth; he broke into a roar;
The fifth; his waistband split;
The sixth; he burst five buttons off,
And tumbled in a fit.

Ten days and nights, with sleepless eye,
I watched that wretched man,
And since, I never dare to write
As funny as I can.
 

Looking back at India

Here are some of my old notes, written on September 13, 2009:

I used Lonley Planet (c. 2007) recommendations for movies to see about India and then continued to explore others. They are either in English or have English subtitles.
Earth, Water, and Fire, a trilogy directed by Deepa Mehta. These are very good films, but not necessarily happy ones.
Gandhi directed by Richard Attenborough
Mr & Mrs Iyer, directed by Aparna Sen
Monsoon Wedding, directed by Mira Nair; see also her acclaimed earlier film Salaam Bombay!
Lagaan directed by Ashutosh Gowariker  I watched the beginning and end, napped in the middle.
Story of India with Michael Wood.Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Collection 2 Disc 2: Rajasthan, Kolkata/Mumbai – these cities are north of where I’ll visit, but nice to get a feel for India in general. Rick Steves is a little to vanilla for me at times, but Anthony Bourdain is a little too snarky for me at times. Handheld camera and fast shots make me a little sea sick.
The Namesake directed by Mira Nair.
Swades directed by Ashutosh GowarikerMeenaxi: Tale of 3 Cities” directed by M.F. Husain – I gave up on this because the story line didn’t capture my attention and a scratch made the DVD difficult to play.
The Mahabharata directed by Peter Brook. I’ve been intimidated by “The Mahabharata” because it is 5 hrs and 25 minutes long.
India: Kingdom of the Tiger directed by Bruce Neibaur

From  August 31, 2009:

Books about India that I’ve read or listened to:

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup

February 27, 2012

I’ve read quite a bit more about India since my original notes and added them to LibraryThing. I’m currently reading India Becoming, listening to Last Man in Tower, and working on an India scrapbook (finally!) that all have me thinking about India again.

Thinking Finland

There are times when I like to focus my reading, listening, and watching on a theme. Right now it is Finland, land of many ancestors.

Books

Riding with Reindeer Bicycling can be done in bad weather, in areas with so few people that you converse with any animal or object.

The Princess Mouse: A Tale of Finland Love the one you’re with, with great illustrations.

The Year of the Hare The reserved Finns are too much for me. I shall befriend a hare.

Culture Shock! Finland Finns are reserved. Who knew. I found the Culture Shock! India book very helpful and am currently reading the Finland guide.

The Winter War It’s been a while since I read this, but it has helped form my image of Finland.

Louhi, Witch of North Farm Louhi, the Witch of North Farm, partakes in the activities of daily life in Finland. She makes blueberry soup. She looks at the boats. She knits. However, she isn’t in the mood for everyday activities. She wants to do something Witch-Witch-Witchety. Louhi goes out looking for trouble…and finds it!

Living in Finland Just browsed this one.

Music

Finlandia Too many changes in volume for my old car. I was constantly adjusting the volume. I’ve gotten a newer car to try again.

Films

Ultimate Scandinavia I didn’t even know that river boarding was a sport. Now I want to try it!

Mother of Mine A child, WWII, Finland and Sweden.

The Man Without a Past

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale Reindeer, Santa Claus, mining, elves, and a child hero in a dark comedy. Very funny for those with a tough skin.

Aki Kaurisaki’s Leningrad Cowboys

Language

Finnish…In 60 Minutes “…the listener can commit it to memory.” I daresay that the editor of this blub should consider the difference between can and may.

Do you have any suggestions for me?