Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christmas: A Time for Celebration

Christmas is a special time of the year when we bring in a tree from outdoors and in lighting it bring joy to the season at a time when it is dark by 4 p.m. In grammar school, the Christmas season would begin with the Advent Calendar. I do not recall how the calendar was constructed and I have since seen many variations but it is a way to count down the 25 days leading up to the Big Day.

"Patti" in 1955 with tea set, Jill the doll, and a Chimpanzee

Our house was always bustling with activity and guests in December. My godfather would stop by with his daughters to bring me a gift, often a "society" doll that wasn't meant to be played with. My aunts and their families frequently visited. The brunt of the work in preparing a holiday for six family members fell on my mother. She would be busy making fruitcake, Stollen, and Christmas cookies. Somehow, she also knew that Santa preferred Coconut Layer Cake with jelly or jam between the layers, frosted with white icing.

We always had a turkey on the holiday and loads of pies: Custard, Mincemeat, Apple, Pumpkin, and Chocolate Cream Pie. You can see that Mother was busy in the kitchen, in addition to all the holiday shopping she did for our family and extended relatives.

Santa cross-stitch that I made years ago

My oldest brother "Jack" listened for the hooves of Santa's reindeer on the roof and would lay bug-eyed until that happened. Then he would wake up his younger brother who shared the same bedroom and together they would go downstairs to see what Santa had left. Somehow, they never managed to catch "Santa" leaving the presents under the tree!

Our tree was a "real" one. I am not even sure if artificial trees were manufactured at that time (1950s). We would load it down with garlands and tinsel that looked like icicles and lots of shiny ornaments and old tin ones that my mother had had for ages. Under the tree would be a ceramic manger scene and on the fireplace our stockings were hung.

Santa ceramic Christmas card holder made by me in 1973

All sorts of small items would appear in our stockings. I always enjoyed finding a new finger puzzle, a piece of jewelry, candy bars and candy canes, chewing gum, and an orange in the toe of the stocking. Santa was very imaginative but also practical. He left a new toothbrush every year.

Growing up, I had no idea of how other people celebrated the holiday or whether or not they celebrated at all. It has been fascinating to learn how the day is celebrated in other countries. Rick Steeve's European videos give a good idea of some of the festivities, especially in Austria.  When I lived in Spain, I learned that most people there do not celebrate Christmas with gifts. They wait until January 6, the Epiphany or Feast of the Three Kings, to exchange presents. In 1972, I celebrated Christmas by traveling around Granada by myself, a college student on winter break.

However you celebrate the holidays, I hope they are happy days for you. Music certainly adds to the merriment as do your own special traditions.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Origin of "The Weaver" poem

I recently received a Sympathy card that has lines that have been rearranged and is presented as a poem called "The Plan of the Master Weaver." In copying the lines of the original poem, the name of the author has been lost and even a Google search could not come up with his name. I have a book that he wrote. Here is the original poem he wrote.

"The Weaver”: A Poem

A contemporary of Ellen Emeline Hardy Webster (1867-1950) - about whom I wrote a biography - was Rev. Grant Colfax Tuller (1869-1950), a minister in New Jersey. He was born two years after Mrs. Webster and died the same year. Like her, he was religious and the following poem is written from that point of view.

The Weaver

My life is but a weaving
Between the Lord and me
I may not choose the colors;
He knows what they should be;
For He can view the pattern
Upon the upper side,
While I can see it only,
on this, the underside.

Sometimes He weaveth sorrow
Which seems strange to me;
But I will trust His judgment
And work on faithfully
'Tis He who fills the shuttle;
He knows just what is best;
So I shall weave in earnest
And leave Him the rest.

Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas,
And explain the reasons why
the dark threads are as needful,
In the weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

From the look of the images seen online, there have been a number of Sympathy cards produced that feature lines from this poem. Just goes to show that what is old is new again!

Patricia Cummings

Monday, November 20, 2017

Late Fall Musings

Winter is almost upon us. My husband Jim has put the garden to bed for the winter, removing all spent flowers and foliage and cutting back the raspberry canes to the ground. Almost every day wild turkeys can be seen meandering through our yard. They discovered the crab apple tree several days ago, perhaps remembering it from last year. This year the blossoms were beautiful and the fruit abundant.

This beauty wandered into our yard in 2008

We have not seen deer in the yard for several years now. Just as well. The only attraction for them in dead winter are the very nutritious rose hips that cling to the rosebushes that line our front fence. They will wade through the deep snow to get at those. Mostly, in the winter, deer stay together in small areas in the woods where there is browse available such as hemlock trees, a favorite winter food for deer.

The other day I was upset to see a video on Facebook which showed deer eating fruit from a table set up for them. It is best NOT to feed deer or wildlife in the winter. Their digestive systems have already adjusted to a lesser food supply and they can actually die from a sudden change in diet. Also, it is best to leave them alone and not make them reliant on human sources for food. They do better if they do not have to expend energy in traveling.

Christmas quilt by Patricia Cummings / design by Marti Michel

I once made a Christmas quilt featuring deer panels in a Double Irish Chain setting. I gave the quilt away and now wish I had it back as it was one of my favorites! The designer of the quilt is Marti Michel and I found the pattern in a quilt book.

With Thanksgiving just several days away, now is the time that my thoughts turn to the holidays. I have a quilt that needs to be pieced. I have the parts cut but have not taken the time to make it. With that particular quilt (a tee-shirt quilt), which involves fusing, I have procrastinated successfully for two years now. Somehow, I do not believe that that quilt will make it under the tree this year either.

I read today that millions of people have given up quilting. This may be a trend. It may be associated with so many quilt magazines going out of business, The Quilter included and also another favorite, Miniature Quilts. I have kept all the back issues of the latter (and of course, all of the 92 articles I wrote for The Quilter). I do miss writing for the magazine!

Bird seed wreath attracts junkos, chickadees and other small birds

With winter closing in, I will be in my den continuing to hand-quilt on my big hearth hoop. I am still working on a queen size, all-white, Welsh design, wholecloth quilt. I listen to music as I quilt. This week it has been Andrea Boccelli and Paul Pasch. The den is really quiet otherwise, removed from the sound of traffic that passes by my home daily (30,000 cars). The room faces the back woods where a stream attracts wildlife and birds. Soon I shall make my bird seed wreath which hangs too high for bears to reach. I will wait until there is snow on the ground and the bears are safely hibernating in their own cozy dens!

Here's to a wonderful Thanksgiving for you and your loved ones as we give thanks for all that is in God's world and our many blessings!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sweetheart & Mother Pillows

Last Friday night I was invited to present a program on the topic of Sweetheart & Mother Pillows (also the title of my book). I was thrilled that there was a good turn-out for this event. I provided a brief background about how I came to collect so many pillow covers and write about them and then I showed 30 slides of various examples of pillow covers from World War I, World War II, and the years of the Civilian Conservation Camps. I ended by showing a pillow quilt composed of 20 pillow covers.

After my talk, many people came up to congratulate me and say how much they enjoyed it. Some purchased my book. I feel very grateful for such an outpouring of warmth and appreciation.

In preparing for the presentation, I must have re-read my book about five or six times, learning more each time I picked it up! The captions, though tiny, are packed with information. I suggest using a magnifying glass. I know mine comes in handy, even though I have 20/20 close-up vision with glasses. Even if someone did not want to "read" the whole book, the 247 beautiful color photos are a compelling reason to purchase it. Each photo represents a piece of history.

Souvenir de France:  two soldiers march victorious through the
Champs de Llysses in Paris. This is hand-painted silk with ribbon
work. Collection of Patricia Cummings

I did a search online to see who else was selling my book. I found one person in Australia that is selling it for $80 plus dollars including postage. Someone in Portsmouth has it listed for over $100 dollars and there are many other prices in between, depending on where one looks. I still have copies of the book available and can customize them for holiday giving by signing them. My price is the original retail price of just $24.99. Of course, I do charge $3 dollars for shipping. To inquire, please write to me at

The books serves as an historical document with anecdotes and descriptions of generals and enlisted men alike. It is also a price guide, providing a suggested range of price for each pillow cover. There is a chapter on care and conservation of these historic vintage and antique textiles. No one else has ever written a book about them so my book is a landmark study. It truly is beautiful and honors all branches of the military except that I could find no U.S. Coast Guard pillow covers until after the book was published. Even the Merchant Marines under the U.S. Maritime Service are included.

My sister standing next to a carved bear at Mancos State Park in Colorado

Recently I lost my sister, Barbara. She was a cheerleader for all of my efforts in writing. I sorely miss her but you know, as I gave that talk Friday night, I did feel as though an "angel on my shoulder" was helping it to go smoothly. As I was remembering the brave veterans who sacrificed so much for our country, I was also thinking of her, a veteran of life who had overcome so many storms until she met one that was too much to surpass.

"Pride of Nation" wool pillow cover from World War I. Please disregard
the url for Quilter's Muse Publication website page which has been discontinued.

I am thankful for the opportunity to share the story of some of the beautiful pillow covers I have collected. I really do enjoy presenting, which hails back to my training as a teacher of Spanish  (and quilting). Maybe that is the last time I shall do anything like that or perhaps not. It is always hard to predict what life has in store for any of us. We must seize the day (carpe diem) and make the most of all that life has to offer!

Patricia Cummings

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Heartbreaking News Coming Out of Houston

Although the people of Texas had ample warning, many of them decided to stay in place and weather out the storm. A group of people seen on television were drinking beer as they made the pronouncement that they would not be driven away by the storm. I wonder what happened to them.

The most startling image I have seen was a room inside a nursing home where residents sat with water higher than their waists. I since learned that they were successfully evacuated. My heart goes out to those with medical problems or who have small children or pets. During Hurricane Katrina, thousands of pets perished. Already, people have lost their lives as a result of this natural catastrophy.

An official on television said they are not even counting the dead. Instead, all of the efforts are geared toward saving the lives of the living and getting people to safe havens. With thousands of phone calls coming in to 911 lines, I would hate to be the operator who has to decide how to prioritize requests.

Evidently, Rockport, TX suffered a tornado as well as flooding. I believe it is true that it will take years and billions of dollars to rebuild the damage done by Hurricane Harvey.

In the midst of the storm, other storms were brewing in Washington. I want to weigh in as being totally against the presidential pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He was very mean and acted in a very bigoted fashion toward the prisoners under his care in Arizona, subjecting them to inhumane treatment that may have led to the wrongful deaths of several of them. Believe me, even if a Mexican were stupid, he could understand the words "stupid Mexican." Another favorite term for illegal immigrants was "wetbacks." Arpaio was found to be criminally in contempt of court for his continued racial profiling since 2011. Yet, he continued on his dastardly mission of terrorizing the Hispanic community. He was not even yet sentenced when Trump issued the pardon.

There is injustice in this world, some coming from a Higher Source, and some coming from our current administration. There is just a lot wrong with the way some people think! It is probably a very good thing that Trump is going to wait to go to Texas. He can add nothing but confusion, and expense for such a trip.

It will be a long time before Texas gets back on its feet. The storm itself will be around until next Thursday. The storms in Washington are also ongoing as political games are played by a petulant president who will do anything to get his own way (and he thinks, get re-elected). I hope that the country can come to its senses and realize the game being played of "divide and conquer." Trump's world is one of "us" and "them." Even while he is denouncing hatred, his actions tell a greater tale.

I do not usually veer into politics on this blog but the recent events have caused me to speak what is in my heart. I will continue to wish for the best for all Texans and others caught in the storm and I will continue to pray that we can one day have a president whom all can respect for his fairness, his benevolence, and his charity toward all.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

"Queen City Quilts" Exhibit Celebrates Amoskeag Mills

Today we traveled to Manchester, NH to visit the Millyard Museum which has a new exhibit "Queen City Quilts," a collection of quilts from the Manchester Historical Association. Upon entering the hall where the quilts are on display, one first sees a beautiful quilt made by the Amoskeag Quilters Guild of Manchester. I grew up in Manchester and so I remember some of the (former) business establishments whose names were embroidered in gold metallic thread:  such as "Pariseau's," a dry goods store that sold clothing, "Ferreti's," my mother's favorite place to do grocery shopping, and "New Hampshire Fire Insurance," where my sister worked. The quilt is like a walk down memory lane and the quilters certainly did great work!

The quilts show great variety in their construction and their coloration. A Friendship quilt that was signed by parishioners of a church is actually made with a counterchange of solid red and muslin patches in a pattern commonly known as "Drunkard's Path." Then, in red, green and white is a quilt sometimes called "Peony" or "North Carolina Lily" - although it is not an exact replica of either pattern and the configuration is quite delightful. The tiny green leaves appear to have been "stuffed" for a trapunto effect.

One of the "stars" of the show is a cigar band quilt common to Victorian times. Some of the cigar bands are from the Sullivan Cigar Company where my aunt's husband worked for a time when he was quite young and was an immigrant from the Netherlands. I'm sure that was before he entered the U.S. Army and accompanied Admiral Byrd on two expeditions to the Antarctic. He was in charge of the sled dogs. But, I digress.

There is a Log Cabin quilt, unusual in its construction which included black sashings. Some beautiful floral embroideries grace four of the inset triangles on the edges. The Crazy Quilts included in the exhibit are from the late 19th century (the heyday of the Crazy Quilt was in the 1880s). They are in excellent condition with only minor areas of shattered silk. I was enchanted by one of the Crazy Quilts that features an embroidered motif of a girl, in purple, sitting on a fence, the same design that is presented on the cover of my book Redwork Embroidery and Needlework Traditions in Europe and America.

Then there is a ruffled, monochromatic quilt that depicts the portrait of "The Hermit" of Manchester with an alternating block of "The Brook." The quilt was done with a photo transfer process called cyanotype (??).

A quilt with 44 examples of different "delaine" fabrics (a combination of muslin and wool), produced at the Amoskeag Mills, is also on display, as is a doll quilt in a Nine Patch variation that was supposedly made by a five year old child - a statement that is hard to believe due to the expert piecing of it and fine hand-quilting. Her name is "anonymous."

One quilt that has everyone perplexed as to its construction method is a bed size quilt made of strips of fabric prints. The quilt is very "busy" and colorful.

It was fun to re-visit the rest of the museum as we had not been there for awhile. I enjoyed seeing the textile exhibits, including a fabric gingham sewing bag that had Sunbonnet Sue figures embroidered on it. The fabric matches some buttons also produced by the mill. In the textiles area, there is a video about the mill workers and their various ethnic groups. Manchester was certainly a melting pot of various groups drawn to work in the mills. The names of streets and monuments around the city are testament to the ongoing influence of them.

The quilt exhibit will be in place until October 21, 2017. Be sure to visit it, if you can! With all of its other fine exhibits, the Millyard Museum is worthy of a visit. It tells the story of early Manchester, settled by Indians, via extant artifacts. On display is also a miniaturized version of the statue of Molly Stark, wife of General John Stark, that is located in Wilmington, Vermont. A swatch of Molly's wedding dress is also displayed. There is so much more but you can discover all of it for yourself when you visit!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Summer Rewards

We have been putting up with days and days of hot and humid weather but today it is raining, a nice respite. The greatest joy of the summer is our gardens. We think that the yard out front looks exceptionally nice this year. It is planted with a mix of annuals and perennials.

Front of our 1821 home that has a variety of garden flowers

We have had good luck with plants re-seeding themselves. The Chrysanthemum plants came back and are doing well, promising fall blooms. The portulaca (moss rose) has gone crazy, spreading everywhere.

Portulaca that has spread with wild abandon, growing among Argeratum

The Gloriosa Daisies are blooming once again. The Geranium we over-wintered is spectacular. The other day I counted 30 blossoms on that lone plant with many more buds!

A perfect orange Zinnia

Of course, we love Zinnias and do not know why we do not plant them more often.

The vegetable garden is going great guns, too. The Pollinator mix which consists of Cosmos, Dill Weed, California Poppies, Bachelor Buttons and other flowers is doing its task of attracting beneficial insects to the garden. I learned this week not to disturb eggs that are laid in a triangular shape under squash leaves. Those are the eggs of a beneficial killer wasp.

Our vegetable garden

Jim has been busy grating Zucchini for use in recipes this winter (chocolate zucchini cake is my favorite). He made pickles. He is freezing Blackberries galore and we have our winter supply of Rhubarb all cut up and stored. The other night Jim made an enchilada casserole with Zucchini and Summer Squash. It was delicious!

Wasp enjoying a Blue Globe Thistle blossom

Some plants we add just for fun. The Blue Globe Thistle is one of those. Our yard is a haven for bees and butterflies. If we were courageous, we would be bee-keepers. Bees are so industrious during the summer. I guess, like us, they earn a long winter's nap.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ice Cream and Hot Summer Days

This has been an exceptionally hot summer with temperatures in the 90s and high 80s for several months now. When it is hot, I think of ice cream! There is an ice cream map available that tells the favorite places throughout the state of New Hampshire to get the "best" ice cream. Some of the places make their own. Others sell Gifford's ice cream. The stand closest to our home (and very handy) went out of business altogether before the start of the season. The two places in Concord that we like are Arnie's (on the Heights), or else, following the country roads, Beech Hill Farm and Ice Cream Stand in Contoocook. We also love Blake's in Manchester and The Goldenrod in the same city.

When my mother was still living (and she died in 2005), she bought an electric ice cream maker. She brought it to our home and one year we made strawberry ice cream. The maker is still in the box it came in and we decided to drag it upstairs from the cellar where it is stored to see if instructions for ice cream making are still intact. They were! Since I seem to have developed an allergy to strawberries and since we will soon have a large crop of raspberries to process, we have decided to make raspberry ice cream!

The next step was in finding sodium chloride (called "rock salt" or "ice cream salt") that is necessary for the process. We are also filling up our big freezer with frozen ice cubes we are making. The recipe calls for 17 lbs. of ice. The only rock salt we could find to purchase came in a 50 lb. sack! We should be able to make more than one batch of ice cream with that much!

I can't wait to make ice cream! Jim is already scouting out other recipes. The one for Maple Walnut ice cream requires too many steps and too much handling to suit us. With foods, we always enjoy experimenting. I don't always want to try to the results of the experiment but Jim is game for trying many new fried radishes! Of the two experiments, I shall opt for raspberry ice cream in lieu of fried radishes any day!

Someone suggested frozen popsicles. Those may be fine but I try to limit the amount of pure sugar and/or juices. At least with ice cream, there is the benefit of calcium. I am happy not to be lactose intolerant. In the colder months, my craving for ice cream may slow down a little but it is a wonderful food, especially on a hot summer's day "when the living is easy"! Wish us good luck in our experiment. Now we just have to watch for the berries to ripen!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Kalocsa Embroidery

Round doily in Kalocsa work. Collection of Patricia Cummings

Hungary is known for its Cross Stitch, Outline Stitch Embroidery with sayings, Lacemaking, and Folk Embroidery. One of the most beautiful of the types of embroidery done is Kalocsa. Its name is derived from the city in the Great Plain region where it originated. It is said that the bright colors of the buds and flowers symbolize the life and growth of a woman. I have collected a few pieces of Kalocsa and find it to be a very inspiring type of needlework. Here are some more examples.

Typical doily though some are even more elaborate. Collection of Patricia Cummings

Child's Apron. Notice the fine details of the edges! Collection of Patricia Cummings

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Musings on a Summer's Day

One of my favorite songs is "Summertime." It is from the musical "Porgy and Bess." I just know that I like the words:  "Summer time and the livin' is easy/ Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high/ Your Papa's rich and your Ma is good lookin'/ So hush little baby, don't you cry." See the Wikipedia file about the history of the musical here:

Summer is here with its heat waves and threats of thunderstorms. Today, Jim picked the first Blackberry of the season and we are currently making plans for having an ice cream making party when the Raspberries are ready to pick. It looks as though we shall have an abundant Peach crop this year so perhaps we will be busy making Peach jam when those are ripe.

Yesterday I announced on Facebook that my main website will be going away! So far, it has not been removed by the host company.

I'll continue to share information on this blog re:  quilts, embroidery, and musings. At one time, our website was one of the largest on the Internet and unfortunately, we were hacked. We had to take the computer to be completely cleaned out and rid of malware, spyware, and a Trojan virus. It was a very trying time.

Colorized version of a design from the Cunnings catalog

Today I am thinking of a cartoon-like scenario that appeared in Cunnings catalog, circa 1886. I enlarged the design and colorized it and then printed it on fabric. The scene very much reminds me of "The Gossips," a 19th century (1800s) appliqu├ęd picture in silk that was documented in Florida in the 1930s and never seen again. The theme is the same (two ladies with bonnets, sitting in chairs, visiting). I love whimsical motifs and this one tickles my fancy!

The work of the past is always fun to re-visit. I even enjoy re-reading my own published articles. They contain so much information, I could never possibly commit all that to memory! I find myself referencing my own books at times. It's all fun!

Enjoy the summer! As much as we complain about the heat, it is much better than having to shovel snow! So long for now. I promise to stay in touch!

Patricia Cummings

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

It's the Little Things

To enjoy life is to savor the little things. As we were driving up to Bridgton, Maine on Sunday to attend a quilt show there, we decided that we should stop at Reny's, a store in that town that has just about everything one could imagine from clothes to canned goods, stationery, and home decor items. I had just mentioned to Jim that I was in the market for a new table runner and that I had thought of stopping sometime at one of the NH League of Craftsmen shops. Well, knowing how expensive a proposition that would be, he was delighted when I found an alternative solution at Reny's. I spotted a hand-braided, hand-painted, 36" table runner with fir trees. It is perfect for my needs.

Beautiful hand-painted Piggy Bank sits on my new table runner

Once home, I placed my new Piggy Bank in the center of the runner in my den. The bank was a birthday gift and is hand-painted with owls.

The quilt show was a delight! I knew the quilters there would be friendly as I had taught a workshop for the guild years ago and really enjoyed the experience! Quilts were numerous, and vendors offered a variety of unique items. Demonstrators were on hand, there was a snack area to sit and relax, and an offering of many used books and magazines in a "rummage" area. For the fun of it, I purchased a book, How to Make an Amish Quilt, which offers 80 patterns and Amish history. I have some "Amish" solid-color fabrics left over from my trip to Amish country in 1999 and could be inspired to use it!

Jean Simoneau chose Batik fabrics for making "Sweet Ride"

On the way home, we were surprised to see two fawns leaping across the road in front of us. Good thing we were driving slowly! On the way up to Maine, a wild turkey was in the road and finished flying across it. Wild turkeys are prevalent these days. Yesterday, there were three hens and five baby chicks in our backyard, poking around.

All in all, the quilt show trip was very pleasing. The day could not have been more perfect with sunny skies and fair weather clouds. I take nothing for granted these days. On the way to the show I remarked that I realize that the days of life are like sands falling through an hourglass (Anyone who has ever watched "Days of Our Lives" would know that is the theme). At our age, there are less grains of sand available to pass through that hour glass so we might as well enjoy all the concerts and quilt shows that we can. It was a great day! It's good to enjoy the "little things!"

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Look Pleasant, Please!

We found this embroidered textile in an antiques store and although it was in a soiled condition we decided not to pass it up figuring it could be washed. I like the message:  "All the World is a Camera. Look Pleasant Please!"

It is not only important to "look pleasant," it is equally important to "be pleasant." We are not seeing many people on television looking pleasant or being pleasant these days. It seems that all we hear about are the latest crimes, drug dealers, and angry politicians.

I told Jim that I long for the days when I used to know some pleasant old people who have now passed away. No matter what ache or pain beset them, they were always "pleasant." I enjoy mellow people who do not have an ax to grind or an agenda to push. It is becoming more and more difficult to find such folks. I know they must exist. I just do not know them, personally.

We could all take a lesson from the embroidered piece above. "Look pleasant, please!"

More Flower Photos for Inspiration

The third owner of our 1821 home was quite a gardener. In fact, he supplied flowers (Peonies, Iris, and others) to the local Congregational Church which is just a stone's throw away up the street. Consequently, many of the flowers that he planted around the yard are perennials that come back year after year. The man actually had a business that he called "Fair View Gardens." In the 1930s, one could actually see the Merrimack River from the second floor of this old house (and someone took a photo from there). Meanwhile, the undergrowth and trees have obscured the "fair view."

We maintain many of the perennial plantings even though we have moved some of the plants around the yard from time to time. In addition, we plant annuals, especially in the front of the house to fill in where the perennials leave off.

I thought you might like to see a collection of photos taken around the yard yesterday by James Cummings. With all the rain we have had, the pansies are still going great guns and have not dried up like other years.

California Poppy, a plant good for beneficial insects

Daisy-like flower, name unknown

Mullen plant with a spike-y yellow blossom

Pansies with rain drops on them

Perennial Sweet Pea growing near an old railroad tie

Rugosa Rose with nicely-camouflaged insect!

Stella d' Oro Lily just opening

Tiger Lily which some people call "Road Lily" 

White Rugosa Rose, host to a Bumblebee

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Presidential Site to Celebrate July 4

This year, as in other years, the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, will celebrate the 4th of July. The president is the only U.S. president to have been born on Independence Day! Their event is one that is sure to be enjoyed by the entire family. Among other features is a chicken barbecue, and a parade led by the Vermont National Guard (Color Guard) to the final resting place of the president which is nearby. There will be a birthday cake, live music and much more. Currently, there is a textile exhibit in place and possibly there will be craft demonstrators on hand. We have attended this event in the past and liked it very much.

For more information, please visit:

4th of July Parade in Plymouth Notch, VT

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Little Sunshine; A Little Rain

Here in New Hampshire we are in the midst of summer, a favorite time of year when flowers are blooming and the garden is giving forth its bounty of fresh vegetables and (soon) berries. Change is in the air though, although I do not mean outside. Since we are now both "retired," we have decided to "downsize" our online presence. The blog that you are currently reading will remain in place but our main website ( will be going away forever on July 18, 2017.

Patricia Cummings, ready for sunshine or for rain

Why am I telling you this? There are plenty of articles there worth reading, if you have not yet taken the time. Once, it was a mammoth site but since it was hacked in 2011, it is a shadow of its former self, if not still large. The site was in place from 2002-2017, a span of 15 years, a long time to be paying big bucks for something that amounts to just a public service. In retirement, we need to be more frugal. But, it was certainly fun to share my knowledge and new findings, not to mention many photos of quilts and embroidery, with readers!

We will still be attending quilt shows, especially ones in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine and will continue to post quilt show reviews to highlight quilts that have a special appeal.

I really do miss writing articles for The Quilter magazine which went out of business in August 2014. All good things must come to an end. The trouble was that none of the employees or associates saw the "end" coming!

The quilt world is changing, that is for sure. There is more sophistication in making quilts, more use of high-end, expensive long-arm machines, and less emphasis on antique quilts (or so it seems). There is a niche group of avid historians who cling to the past and really enjoy seeing and studying old quilts but there is definitely a trend toward transforming vintage textiles and quilts into updated, machine-quilted items.

Whatever type of quilts or quilting you enjoy, it is a worthwhile pursuit. We say "Happy Trails" to you and may we meet along the way!

Patricia Cummings

Monday, June 19, 2017

Garden Inspirations

This year we have had plenty of rain and the gardens are loving it and rewarding us with more growth and more blooms than ever. The perennials have been grand and the annuals are flourishing with a gusto unsurpassed. Jim asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I can never think of any requests but then when we were in a garden center, I spotted a lovely, little bunny rabbit made of resin that I thought would look cute in the herb garden. So, it came home with us. We'll call that my birthday gift along with a chocolate-y ice cream cake!

Here are a few garden pictures I thought you might enjoy seeing.

A resin Bunny Rabbit, permanent resident of the herb garden

Indian Paintbrush, a New England wildflower

A Peony touched by raindrops

I call this flower "Pinks," not knowing their true name. They seem to be a wildflower
 and a relation to Dianthus.

Lone Poppy

Another wildflower that looks very delicate. All flower photos by James Cummings

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Koshukdon from Mongolia

Some time ago I collected a few small textiles from Central Asia from a seller in Uzbekistan. Among them is a "Koshukdon" Yurta Bag, part of the Nomadic tribal traditions. The decorated bag is made of wool and silk adras and measures 29" x 20". It was made to hang inside a yurt on a wall to hold eating utensils.


This particular Koshukdon was made in the 1910s, according to the seller and comes from Kazakh, Kirghiz, Karakalpakstan, Mongolia. He states that every Nomad's articles, even small bags or pendants always had their own practical function. He further states that Nomadic culture rendered a great influence on Uzbek Applied Art.

While I find this kind of thing to be interesting, some will have just learned a new Crossword puzzle answer!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Celebration of Lupines

During the month of June, it is a good time to visit Sugar Hill, New Hampshire and its surrounding communities. After days of cold and rainy weather, the sun actually came out last Wednesday (June 7) and we headed north, traveling beyond the White Mountains. It is a pleasant drive up Route 93 from Concord, New Hampshire and in a few hours, we found ourselves in the community of Sugar Hill just in time for the "Celebration of Lupines."

Lupines growing near Pearl Lake in Sugar Hill, NH - photo by James Cummings

First we stopped at the famous "Polly's Pancake Parlor," known for milling all of their own grains (except for white flour which they purchase from King Arthur); and for making their own sweet Maple syrup and Maple sugar. The menu has a memorable selection of different gourmet pancakes one can order. The dining room is spacious and was not too crowded on a weekday. The food was delicious. In fact, it was so good, we bought some pancake mix to bring home, along with some bacon! Good thing we remembered to bring the cooler!

The Sugar Hill Sampler - photo by James Cummings

After that late breakfast, we traveled a little distance away on the same road to the "Sugar Hill Sampler," a gift shop, and a museum of artifacts that have been in the care of the Aldrich family who settled the acreage 7 generations ago! I always enjoy looking in the gift shop, even when I am not enticed to open my wallet. Actually, I did purchase a couple of little things that struck my fancy.

Just up the road from there is Harman's Country Store. Jim went in and bought some cheddar cheese (which we had planned to do beforehand and which is why we had brought the cooler in the first place). There is a small post office next to Harman's should anyone want to mail home a postcard or two to friends or family.

Bird on a Lupine plant - photo by James Cummings

Of course, the main draw this time of year are the Lupines of Sugar Hill. The flowers can be seen in four hues:  pink, white, lavender, and deep purple. They grow wild along the roadsides, in yards, and in meadows. In fact, the Sampler sells seeds for the flowers. They do not bloom the first year. It is only in the  second year that blossoms appear. They also do not grow well in hot climates, preferring the cool mountain air. We planted some seeds one year and the plants did not withstand the heat of central New Hampshire.

Someone has written a poem to "Lady Lupine"

Sugar Hill is the postcard-perfect setting with views of the White Mountains. At the Sampler, there is a field of Lupines which features a walking trail that has poetry and inspirational thoughts on markers along the way. A day in the mountains was just what we needed to feel refreshed. If you are looking for quiet entertainment, Sugar Hill is the place to head during the week. If you wait until the weekends, there are concerts, talks, and wagon rides through the Sampler's field.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"The Little House and Tall Pine Tree" Quilt

My birthday gift package from Germany included a photo of a new quilt by Tamara Shpolyanska titled "The Little House and Tall Pine Tree." It measures 47" x 57" and was made in Chemnitz, Germany, finished in May 2017.

Tamara Shpolyanska holding a flower

"The Little House and Tall Pine Tree"

She had suggested the quilt as a project for her quilt group in Chemnitz in November 2016. In June 2017, there is an exhibition of the group's quilts at the "Citicenter." I love the cheerfulness of this quilt and the use of orange and blue, complementary colors. The "tree" motif is repeated in the borders. I always enjoy seeing Tamara's work and it is no surprise that she continues to inspire her quilting students!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day - A Time of Reflection and Remembrance

Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember our war dead, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their "last full measure of devotion," in the words of Abraham Lincoln. It is a day for parades, patriotic music, and flags.

U.S. Army Color Guard stands at attention for the playing of "Taps"

We were very lucky in Concord, New Hampshire. The rain held off in the morning and did not start until well after the parade down Main Street was over and the speeches and music were finished. There is something about seeing the flag and hearing patriotic music that brings tears to my eyes. The Concord (NH) High School Band and the Rundlett Jr. High School Band performed wonderfully-well! To see young people exhibit such musical skill is inspiring!

Concord High School "Crimson Tide Marching Band"

Besides the bands, there were many Color Guards and other marchers on foot. "Caring Paws" participated in the parade and I would like to know more about what the dogs do. The Cub Scouts marched - and it was such a long way for them to go. The youngsters looked so cute in their uniforms. Someone put a lot of work into the floats that were present including the "Religious Freedom" float by the Concord Christian Academy. The Marines drove by with a replica of the Iwo Jima statue in the trailer behind them.

Replica of Iwo Jima statue

Someone was distributing free American flags that have the words to "Taps" attached to the "flagpole." When it came time to play "Taps," the bugler first played it loudly and boldly and then played the tune softly, as if heard at a distance.

Float by the Concord Christian Academy

We have not gone to a parade at any time within recent memory and this event was a real treat for us! It is nice to feel part of a greater community of patriotic citizens. I hope that you have taken time today to consider those who have lost their lives while fighting for (your) freedoms! In addition, I hope that you have enjoyed a day off from work and have spent some quality time with those you love.

Wreaths were laid at the monument in front of the NH State House. Photos by James Cummings