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!