Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: Deephaven by Sarah Orne Jewett

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of vintage books available free on-line.

Deephaven by Sarah Orne Jewett

With her parents planning a summer tour of Europe, Kate Lancaster decides to spend the summer at her late aunt’s home in Deephaven, Maine. She invites her friend and our narrator, Helen Denis, to join her.

These two Boston girls are intrigued by the village which has seen better days. Once a prosperous ship building center today is at most a sleepy fishing village though there are still the remnants of the best families-including Kate’s late aunt, Katherine Brandon and by extension Kate herself.

More a collection of short stories than a novel, these slow moving descriptive tales give a sketch of life in a small village and the people living there. There are no adventures, no men come and save the girls from danger…nothing happens but the passing of the summer-important for some, unimportant for others and tragic for one family.

I can’t really say I enjoyed this book…the slow pace does create a dream like quality. I peeked at a couple of review of this book because I had heard of Sarah Orne Jewett and I was curious what other reviewers thought of this book…well, all I can say is that they read much more into these tales than I did. One reviewer states, “Sarah Orne Jewett presents two American identities in the hope that they could explain each to the other.” I’m not sure if this reviewer meant Kate and Helen or the city vs. the village. Another reviewer writes:

“…closer scrutiny of these descriptions indicates that more than rendering a region they reveal the inchoate concerns of the young women themselves: in that respect the narrative can be better understood as psychological realism in which the women's literal and symbolic (written) ventures into unfamiliar regions allegorize revelatory journeys into the self.1

At the very outset Jewett suggests that the women's writing and, by extension, her own, will involve psychological revelations. Taking up residence in the ancestral house, the two find writing desks with "secret drawers":

I have to say that I saw none of this-no revelatory journeys into themselves other than that while they loved their summer they couldn’t see themselves giving up their busy and very social lives in Boston.

Read by the always pleasant to listen to Betsey Bush, you can download this free audio-book here or the free e-book in pdf. or Kindle format here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A new punchneedle floral: Punchneedle quilt progress continues

With the summer heat and my love of air conditioning, I'm back to working on the punchneedle quilt which I haven't worked on since last summer.

My design wall now features this:
Here's a closeup so you can see that the little flowers are actually orange and the center red.
I've now completed 5 blocks and still have quite a ways to go.

I'm linking to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times so stop by and see the amazing work on the wall this week.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: In the Bishop's Carriage by Miriam Michelson

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of vintage books available free on-line.

In the Bishop’s Carriage by Miriam Michelson

Nance Olsen is in love. She’s so in love with Tom Dorgan, she picks pockets for him. When we first meet her she’s just picked a nice pocket watch from a fat man in the crowded train station and is hiding out in the Ladies Waiting Room. She sees a policeman looking in so she darts off to the inner room where ladies can have their traveling coats brushed and even small repairs done by the attendants. She hangs up her coat and hat and then:

Oh, it was long; long enough to cover you from your chin to your heels! It was a dark, warm red, and it had a high collar of chinchilla that was fairly scrumptious. And just above it the hat hung, a red-cloth toque caught up on the side with some of the same fur.

The black maid misunderstood my involuntary gesture. I had all my best duds on, and when a lot of women stare it makes the woman they stare at peacock naturally, and -- and -- well, ask Tom what he thinks of my style when I'm on parade. At any rate, it was the maid's fault. She took down the coat and hat and held them for me as though they were mine. What could I do, 'cept just slip into the silk-lined beauty and set the toque on my head? The fool girl that owned them was having another maid mend a tear in her skirt, over in the corner; the little place was crowded. Anyway, I had both the coat and hat on and was out into the big anteroom in a jiffy.What nearly wrecked me was the cut of that coat. It positively made me shiver with pleasure when I passed and saw myself in that long mirror. My, but I was great!As I ran down the stairs, its influence so worked on me that I didn't know just which Vanderbilt I was.”

Nance is out of the station but she’s still worried about that policeman. She sees a carriage waiting out front and just ducks into it with the sleeping coachman completely unaware. Then the Bishop comes…

He was a little Bishop, not big and fat and well-kept like the rig, but short and lean, with a little white beard and the softest eye -- and the softest heart -- and the softest head. Just listen.

"Lord bless me!" he exclaimed, hurriedly putting on his spectacles, and looking about bewildered. I was slumbering sweetly in the corner, but I could see between my lashes that he thought he'd jumped into somebody else's carriage. The sight of his book and his papers comforted him, though, and before he could make a resolution, I let the jolting of the carriage, as it crossed the car-track, throw me gently against him. "Daddy," I murmured sleepily, letting my head rest on his little, prim shoulder.

And so Nancy Olsen meets the Bishop and begins to mend her ways. Not immediately and not easily but definitely.This is a wonderful book, beautifully written and with a host of enjoyable characters. A 1904 best seller, In the Bishop’s Carriage caused quite a stir at the time of publication because of the morals and ethics of the heroine and narrator, our Nance. I found Nance quite believable as she struggles to figure out right from wrong, what does loyalty mean and when is it misplaced. I just loved the opening-what can clothes do for a person? Can they change how we perceive ourselves and want to live up to the image we’ve created?

Cheerfully read by Lee Ann Howlett, you can download this free audio-book here or the free e-book in pdf. or Kindle format here.

In 1913, In the Bishop's Carriage was made into a silent film starring Mary Pickford. Unfortunately, it is presumed lost.

Friday, June 17, 2011

This and That Sewing

I've basted the embroidery Mystery quilt and its ready for machine quilting...I'm still working out in my mind what I'll do. I had a little fun with the back: a bar quilt! Its hard to see in the photo but the black fabric is really a reproduction black/gray print.I also finished hand piecing the little circles that I started in Boston...still thinking about what to do with them.
I did this little embroidery using chain stitch-I haven't ever done much with chain stitch and it was fun. I think I'll frame it. (I don't know why it came out quite this bright-its a batik but its really not this garish!)
I've been quilting at the frame but now I have a dilemma. I use Mettler 40 wt. thread for all my hand quilting. While I was in the US I grabbed two spools of Mettler white for this quilt but now I see I grabbed the wrong thread-the 50 wt. silk finish regular sewing thread. So either I switch threads in the middle or I order on-line the 40 wt. Yes, I will have to put the hand quilting on hold. Oh my! It really annoys me though because I actually was sitting and hand quilting again finally! That quilt will take two years at the rate I'm going.

That's my this and that sewing. I really need to start a new project. The Jane Quilt triangles are preying on my mind so I think I had better make a start on those-I can baste up the applique triangles and then I'll feel like I'm making progress! :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: Frenzied Fiction by Stephen Leacock

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of vintage books available free on-line.

Frenzied Fiction by Stephen Leacock

This collection of short tales contains some hilarious “doozies”. Written by the acclaimed Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock and published in 1918, the humor is different from today’s humor books by someone like Dave Barry. Give these tales a chance-they really can deliver a good chuckle and a belly laugh or two.

My favorites are the first and the next to last. The first, “My Revelations as a Spy” is a spy story of the First World War and trust me it like no spy story you’ve ever read. (I’m smiling and chuckling as I write this.) J

The next to last tale “In Dry Toronto” deals with Prohibition. Now, I never knew that there was Prohibition in Canada. Having lived in Minnesota, I met several people who remembered their grandfathers’ tales of “rum running” from Canada to the US during Prohibition. So what was going on? Well, it seems that Quebec Province was dead set against Prohibition so each province could decide for themselves if they wanted to be wet or dry.

The story begins with our narrator (each story has its narrator) on a train from Montreal to Toronto. On the train, he’s befriended by a man-a true Toronto booster-who takes him around and shows him all the “changes” since Prohibition. This is truly hilarious-you’ll be very surprised by what has and what has not changed!

There was just one story-“The Prophet in our Midst-that I didn’t enjoy…it seems that humor can get too dated and too rambling-at least for me. You may have better luck.

As in the best humor, there are interesting ideas and principles raised and its fun to think that these ideas are almost a hundred years old. How much has changed? Not much.

Perfectly read by Debra Lynn ( in a dead pan way), you can download this free audio-book here or the free e-book in pdf. or Kindle format here.

This month is audio-book month. Stop by Heather’s June 9th post at Books and Quilts for information on audio-book activities and deals this month. BTW, if you're particularly interested in Canadian books and authors, Books and Quilts is the place for you.

Stephen Leacock’s summer home in Orillia, Ontario is now a museum and open to visitors. Find out about the museum and other Orillia fun places here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hannah's Quilt

LOL! Talk about UFOs! My friend Hannah began this sampler quilt 8 years ago! She basted it 3 years ago-planning to hand quilt it. Finally she asked me if I would machine quilt it. She looks very happy that its finally finished!
I used a different design in each block-sometimes a squiggle and sometimes
I followed her markings like in this block and the grid quilting.
I just used a simple 1/4" outline for the sashing as that had been her plan.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: Being a Boy by Charles Dudley Warner

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of vintage books available free on-line.Being a Boy by Charles Dudley Warner

Being a Boy definitely fits into the nostalgia genre. Whether speaking in generalities about a New England boy's life on a farm or when calling the boy John as Charles Dudley Warner sometimes does, it is clear that this book is autobiographical. Charles Dudley Warner was raised on a farm near Charlemont, Massachusetts from 1835-1844 (from the age of 6 until 14). He was a lawyer in Chicago for a few years but returning to New England, he is best known as a newspaper editor, including co-editor of the Hartford Courant. He was also the editor of Harper's Magazine. He published Being a Boy in 1877.

The chapters extol the "fun" of being a boy on a farm with all the moans about chores. The delightful remembrance of driving the ox wagon for the very first time in an early chapter is simply wonderful...the adult feelings about the boy hitting the ox with his whip thoughtful. The story of the boy's first party and the description of the games played vs. forbidden dancing is hilarious. (Yes, the games included kissing games!).

We get a peek into the yearly cycle of a 19th century farm including Thanksgiving (with an interesting aside about pumpkin pies), Maple Sugaring, Sundays, Winter School and more.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book...it is rare to read a childhood autobiography about the first half of the 19th century. The author remembers a Grandfather who fought in the Revolutionary War! Here's a short excerpt to give you a feel for this book and its unexpected take on things:

" Say what you will about the general usefulness of boys, it is my impression that a farm without a boy would very soon come to grief. What the boy does is the life of the farm. He is the factotum, always in demand, always expected to do the thousand indispensable things that nobody else will do. Upon him fall all the odds and ends, the most difficult things. After everybody else is through, he has to finish up. His work is like a woman's,--perpetual waiting on others."

Exuberantly read by Mark Penfold, you can download this free audio-book here or the free e-book in pdf. or Kindle format here.