For Those Who Made The Sacrifice

I recently received a number of surprise emails with attachments from the sister who happily dives into piles of old photos and documents, sending me anything that she thinks might catch my fancy.  Louise had turned up a number of WWII era letters to and from Alvin D. Saucier (my father’s younger brother) after his enlistment; the kind of letters that say a lot without saying anything at all.  The folks at home trying to make out like things were normal, and the son in the service so obviously lonely for news of home and family.

I’ve had a wonderful time working through the letters; simple, everyday chatter of babies getting heat rash because the summer had been so very hot that year, the menfolk getting in quality fishing time, but who didn’t catch a lot because the summer had been so very hot that year, and recent overnight showers that cooled things down a bit and will do the garden good because the summer had been so very hot that year.

There was even news of Mrs. Sweeney returning home after an extended and mysterious absence, and that piece of news prompted me to ask myself a few questions:

  1. Who on earth was Mrs. Sweeney?
  2. I wonder where Mrs. Sweeney went for a number of weeks in June & July of 1943?
  3. I wonder if Mrs. Sweeney went to Chicago and took her cow along?  No. Wait. Back up. That was Mrs. O’Leary along about 1871.
V-Mail to Alvin D. Saucier from his mother, Ida Hoffmann Saucier

V-Mail to Alvin D. Saucier, from his mother, Ida (Hoffmann) Saucier, wife of James Garfield Saucier

(Note: You can click on any of these items for an embiggened view.)

The answer to my first question was buried in the pile of email in another letter to Al, this one from Bill Sweeney, dated 21 September 1945.  My best guess is that Bill was the son of the much-travelled Mrs. Sweeney, and in his letter, Bill made no mention of the weather.  His talk was all soldier-to-soldier, mostly concerned with daydreams of life after mustering out.  He did, however, mention that he was just back from “a typical sailors’ leave, one that he wasn’t much proud of, but had to admit it was fun”.  Okay.  A period can be put on that topic.  Moving along.

letter from Bill Sweeney to Alvin D. Saucier dated 21 September 1945

Bill Sweeney and Al Saucier - 1945

Bill Sweeney and Al Saucier – 1945

More letters, more news from home, and the very last attachment included assorted photographs that Al had saved – one photo in particular caught my eye, it was older than the WWII items – and then I realized what I was seeing…

Battlefield burial site of Charles Clide Saucier near Nancy, France

Battlefield burial site of Charles Clide Saucier

And For Those Who Made The Supreme Sacrifice

Charles Clide Saucier 1895-1918

Charles Clide Saucier 1895-1918

The photo was a burial registration photograph for Charles Clide Saucier, who on 27 September 1918, died of wounds received during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  This photo managed to reignite my search for great-Uncle Charlie’s final resting place, and allowed me to close another mystery – the date on great-Uncle Ben’s letter home during WWI.

Along the way, I’ve discovered a few more documents and newspaper clippings that not only shed a little light on Charlie’s time in the Army, but from his draft registration, we know a bit about his physical characteristics as well: tall, gray-eyed, with light colored hair.

WWI Draft Registration Card Charles Clide Saucier 5 June 1917

WWI Draft Registration Card Charles Clide Saucier 5 June 1917

Franklin County Tribune (Union, Missouri) Friday, 8 Nov 1918 page 4

Franklin County Tribune (Union, Missouri) Friday, 8 Nov 1918 page 4

From the clipping above, I think that it’s safe to infer that Ben’s letter home was one of the letters written on September 25, 1918.  In the letter, Ben wrote of being bivouacked outside of Nancy, describing his surroundings along with non-battle related experiences in a very general way.  The American Expeditionary Forces had liberated Nancy September 16, 1918, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive began ten days later on September 26, 1918.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Tuesday, 5 Nov 1918 (Main Editiion) page 4

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Tuesday, 5 Nov 1918 (Main Editiion) page 4

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Thursday, 14 Nov 1918 page 6

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Thursday, 14 Nov 1918 page 6. The Mrs. Thomas O’Donnell referenced in the clipping was Louise (Lulu Saucier) O’Donnell, one of Charles’ sisters.

Application for Military Headstone/Marker - Charles Clide Saucier

Application for Military Headstone/Marker – Charles Clide Saucier. The application was made by Mrs. Wm. Pace of Washington, Missouri aka Henrietta (Hattie Saucier) Pace, another of Charles’ sisters.

St. Anthony's Catholic Cemetery, Oak Grove (Stanton), Franklin County, Missouri.

St. Anthony’s Catholic Cemetery, Oak Grove (Stanton), Franklin County, Missouri.

I’d long assumed that Charlie’s headstone at Stanton, Missouri was a cenotaph, no remains, simply a marker for family members to take comfort in.  I’ve been through every database I could find, the final say coming from the American Battlefield Monuments Commission – there is no record of Charles Saucier being interred in any of the recognized cemeteries overseas.  Which brings me to the conclusion that Charlie was, after all, brought home.  The one unchecked item remaining on my to-do list is to apply to the Joint Mortuary Affairs Center for Charlie’s repatriation records.

Wish me luck that the records survived the fire of 1973 at the Personnel Records Center in St. Louis (records for Army personnel discharged November 1, 1912 through January 1, 1960 equaled an 80% loss).

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A Redhead With A Leopard-Print Handbag

Colored glamorous shot of Lucille Ball and Arnaz standing.A true blast from the past has been lurking in the back of my brain lately, an episode of I Love Lucy© from December 17, 1955 titled: The Passports.

If by some strange turn of events you’ve never-ever seen this episode (perhaps you’ve been off-world on an exploratory trip to Alpha Centauri), this is the episode where, after finagling a tag-along trip to Europe with Ricky, Lucy finds that she doesn’t have the necessary documents to get a passport. In addition, she’s somehow misplaced the only blood relative who can vouch for her… her mother.

Long story short, after finding that there is no record of her birth in her home town, she goes through the motions of trying to find someone older than her, who knew her as a child.

Lucy locates Helen Ericson Sears Kaiser, the woman who babysat Lucy as a child, only to be stymied when Helen won’t admit her real age in front of her husband. With Helen explaining the situation to her husband in some truly irritating baby talk, all the while calling him ‘daddy’ (Ack! I’m sure I coughed up a hairball during that scene!), the story gets twisted around until Helen and her husband decide that, of course, Lucy was the babysitter, and Helen the child.

[Lucy Trivia: the leopard-print handbag in the photo above made appearances in several I Love Lucy© episodes. Sometimes it belonged to Lucy. Sometimes it belonged to Ethel. But I think that I would luv to have that handbag most of all.]

Determined to make the European tour by any means possible, Lucy decides to stowaway on board the ship in Fred and Ethel’s old vaudeville trunk – a trunk that had been purchased from a man with a seal act, ergo the handy air-hole for ventilation. Lucy tries the trunk on for size, and of course the trunk locks, and of course the key to the trunk is in the pocket of the skirt that Lucy is wearing.

Just then, the doorbell rings, and who should walk in? Why it’s old Doc Peterson, the man who delivered Lucy in (West) Jamestown, NY.

At last, somebody who can identify Lucy! But Lucy’s still locked in that darned trunk…

  • Dr. Peterson: (speaking to Ethel) I couldn’t sign anything until I’m sure that she’s really Lucille McGillicuddy.
  • Lucy: (from inside the trunk) Oh, no.  I am, Dr. Peterson, I am. I’m Lucille McGillicuddy.
  • Dr. Peterson: Well, I don’t know. Uh, I thought she (points at Ethel) was you at first.
  • Ethel: Oh, no, now, you could see her. (points to the hole in the trunk) There’s a hole right there in the trunk. You look right through there, you can see that that’s Lucy.
  • Dr. Peterson: Well, I’ll take a look. (Bends down and looks through the hole in the trunk) Hi… I can’t tell a thing.
  • Lucy: Oh, now, wait a minute, Doc. Wait a minute. (from inside the trunk, Lucy puts one eye up to the hole) Here’s one of my eyes. Here’s my other eye. Here’s my nose. Here’s my mouth. Put them all together and they spell Lucille McGillicuddy!
  • Dr. Peterson: All that is, is an eye, an eye, a nose and a mouth.

Realizing that she’ll never get her passport, never go to Europe, and likely spend the rest of her days locked in the trunk, Lucy bursts into tears. Doc Peterson cheers her up by remembering a song that he taught her when she was a child.

And so, with Lucy singing ‘Skip to My Lou‘ from inside the trunk, and Doc Peterson dancing a jolly little jig, a perfect opportunity presents itself for Ricky to burst into the apartment with a classic, “What’s going on here?!”

And I was going where with this?

Skip To My Lou quilt: by way of sample blocks with an assist from Lucy Ricardo.

ribbon swirl quiltingI’ve spent a lot of time lately – when not rerunning old sitcoms in my head; cleaning the sewing room, and culling and organizing fabric, including some much needed rearranging of storage furniture and worktables. The cleaning, sorting and organizing went fairly smoothly.  I’d reached the point where I could stand back and admire my hard work – all except for three boxes.  What was in those boxes you ask?

Stuff that hadn’t been unpacked since we moved to Oklahoma (cough… thirteen years ago). If pressed to admit the truth, those boxes had been packed up when we left Texas and relocated to Colorado, and then from Colorado to Oklahoma. A time capsule of quilting ‘stuff’, untouched by human hands for centuries… um, maybe let’s just say years.

applique orphan block doodle quiltingThere were orphan blocks and sample blocks and vintage coverlets, but mainly lots of sample blocks.  Sample blocks from my earliest quilting days when I still regularly made sample blocks.  And I clearly remember saying to myself, “Save these, you’ll be able to make an entire quilt with a stockpile of sample blocks someday.”

Well, that someday never came until those blocks and I had traveled down a long, long road together.

I had two choices: pitch ’em or use ’em. Of course I went with the opportunity to procrastinate, and so the cleaning, and the culling, and the organizing, and the generally satisfied feeling of a job being well done went right out the window.

orphan block sampler quilt checkered doodle quiltingSometimes when faced with orphan blocks, the blocks seem to stare right back at me through an (imaginary) hole in an old vaudeville trunk, saying, ‘Here’s my eye. Here’s my other eye. Here’s my nose. Here’s my mouth’, and I can’t see enough of anything that will suggest a way for the blocks to come together.

But making this little quilt was one of those moments when the blocks and I didn’t end up in a standoff, they very nearly jumped into place themselves.

And the truly amazing part of this sampler?  Only one – count ’em one – inset seam. How ever did that happen? Dunno. Some days, and some quilts, just go skipping along like that – even quilts made by a crazy lady who can take a life lesson from an episode of I Love Lucy©.

orphan blocks sampler little quiltstars applique doodle quilting

Whimsy: It’s Icing On The Cake

In my book, someone who turns down the opportunity to let a little whimsy brighten their day is as sad as a lost ball in high weeds.

I’ve been making headway on the patches I salvaged from the scrap bin – haven’t had the time or the energy to cut any more scraps, but I’ve got more than enough to finish up the current project.

pinstripeThe lightweight gray suiting?  After spending too much time dithering, and doing my best Jimmy Durante imitation trying to decide whether to use the right side or the wrong side, I finally decided to go with the pinstripes.

I had so few stripes in the scrap bin – florals I’ve got, with some checks, and a few dots, but I was definitely stripe poor.  I love geometrics and have a tendency to use everything I have quickly, so pinstripes were the only way to go.  You know the rule of five, right?  Large floral, small floral, check, stripe, dot.

Lately, Edyta Sitar has been claiming the rule of five as her formula, but truthfully, decorators have been using it for decades.  And that’s fine; Edyta is a quilting goddess, and I can forgive goddesses quite a bit if they keep the eye candy coming.

Oh, that was kind of off topic.

As I was saying, the 32-patches were stacking up as a result of staying with the leader/ender method, and I had the suiting already cut into rectangles to fit, so I decided to start slapping parts on the design wall.  Then, when I wasn’t looking, this lil’ guy popped in.

Applique Swallows

And before I knew exactly what was going on, he whistled up some friends.  I suspect that these five are outriders for a whole flock, and that makes me just about as happy as a boardinghouse pup.

Whimsy… gotta love it.

Outriders of the flock

 

Sturgis Union School

Sturgis Union School

Here’s a brick wall that I’ve been taking a semi-masochistic pleasure in butting my head up against.  A single photo found among other family photographs that has no identification other than the imprint on the left: Sturgis Union School.  Is this a keepsake from a cherished friend?  Or is there (fingers crossed) a family member here?  So far, all research has ended in a null result.

Date?  1860-ish.  The original size of the photograph is not known to me, and the only other clue is the sepia toned albumen print on thin paper that has been mounted on card stock – it could be either a carte de visite, or a cabinet card – both were popular in the 1860’s.  I dislike being ambiguous, so for starters, let’s put this one in the late 1860’s.  I arrived at that date through the details and hints in their clothing, and by keeping in mind that these people were almost certainly school staff and would dress conservatively to set a good example for their students…

Nearly bandbox fresh:  Bodices of the 1860’s fastened down the front with buttons, and the buttons got progressively larger as the decade drew to a close.  Small white collars often fastened by a brooch were considered fashion forward.  Shoulders were long and sloping, with sleeve openings that circled the upper arm.  Bishop sleeves, jockey waists with belts, full skirts with a slightly flatter front, hints of braid and bodice trim, and quietly prominent jewelry, all suggest the early part of the decade had been left behind and trends were moving towards the more flamboyant styles of the 1870’s.

Coiffures: Crimps were worn in a girlish and playful style, but the conservative fashionistas often wore their hair center-parted and pulled back into a bun, with a hair net, then let the bun release to fall down the neck.

Birds of a different feather: Let’s not exclude the less showily dressed – and perhaps more telling members of the group.  These two men seem to be dressed in a transitional style; the jackets are baggy (sack jackets), with large flat lapels and low collars, a style very popular in the late 1850’s, but both men sport single-breasted vests, high shirt collars with narrow silk ties, and not the double breasted waistcoat and two-inch wide and knotted silk ties of the previous decade.  On the other hand, neither one wears the wide and squared-ended neckties worn low on the throat that were so popular in the 1870’s.  Their coats and vests are made from contrasting fabrics.  Ditto suits – where all components are made of the same material – were still a novelty in the 1860’s.

The latest from the tonsorial parlor: Hair is cut ear-length in the back, parted on the side, and combed smoothly back with neatly trimmed sideburns and whiskers – a huge departure from the longer, over-the-ear style with a high front wave and the smoothly shaven face of the 1850’s.

I’ve spent so much time being fascinated by the details found in the photograph – from the obvious (that carpet!), to the not-so obvious (is that a pelisse or a paletot?), that even if there is no family connection, I still have a piece of history that has given me a lot of enjoyment.  I adore the nearly matching plaid fabrics that two of the young women are wearing, and the older gent with the far-seeing eyes blows me away.

And the poses; one man’s hand placed on a woman’s shoulder, another woman has her hand on a chair back, the two women in the back row turned slightly inward, one posed in 3/4 profile, and the favorite; the young woman seated in front – yes, the one who is wearing the jacket – fingertips resting on her face, and lounging with an elbow braced on the central figure’s knee.  All of this seems to suggest the idea of a casual family group, but I don’t see any similarities in the faces, and that leaves me firmly in the camp that says this is a group of coworkers (note the bands worn on the ring fingers of the two women in plaid – they weren’t students).

But… there is one young woman, center row left, whose features bear a certain family resemblance, and teaching as a vocation keeps popping up in the Saucier family – could we be connected to one of the people in this photo, after all?

Oh, Why Not?

So Many Scraps

Everybody is doing it apparently.

It’s being done at Temecula Quilt Co., and they’re doing it over at A Quilting Life, too.  Repro Quilt Lover is doing it in my email inbox – thanks to a well meaning favorite SIL.  Even my friend Katell is doing it over at La Ruche des Quilteuses, but with a slightly different twist.  Yes, it’s that time of the year when every quilter in cyberspace has announced the same pesky resolution, the one that I try to sidestep most every year, because the message is the same as always: LET’S USE THOSE SCRAPS!

All through January, I heard the catechism about organizing and reducing the size of my scrap bin.  As if I don’t carry enough guilt already about the mountain of scraps that sits idle in my sewing room.  Since the first of the year, my mantra has been: I can ignore it. I have ignored it. I will ignore it.

And it’s not as if I haven’t got yardage to work with.  Come on… I just got back from my annual pilgrimage to the Houston Quilt Festival.  When it comes to yardage – I’m flush.

I can be mule stubborn when it comes to not doing something just because I’ve been told that I should do it, but my goodness, that bin fills up with offcuts faster than I can use them.  After much internal debate, I’ve decided (again), that the pile of fabric must lose the contest of wills this year.

But actions always speak louder than words.  It took me a full day to translate a bit of this…

scraps

Into this… so neat, so tidy.

Scrap Tin

Folks,  that’s a whole lot of ironing and single cuts inside that not-quite-filled tin – but a rough estimate tells me that there are about one thousand 2.5″ patches in there.  And that pile of remainders in the upper right corner?  Those will be cut down into even smaller, usable patches.

{{Sigh}}  Why didn’t I start doing this years ago?  Wait.  I did.  But then I gave up after one of my “ooh shiny” moments and moved on to another project that didn’t involve cutting up itty-bitty scraps.

I’ve no plans to drop everything and start another quilt – the last thing I need is one more UFO (unfinished object) cluttering up my design wall.  The master plan is that I’ll use the patches as leader/ender projects.  For you non-quilters out there, that is when you run a few sets through the machine before starting in on the main event, namely the current project, and before you’re finished for the day, you run a few more sets through.  Leaders and enders.  All the while you’re gradually sneaking up on an extra quilt finish.

It’s been a week since I’ve begun taking a whack at the contents of my scrap bin.  So far, I’ve completed nine of these 32-patch units simply by using the leader/ender method.  Where am I going with these?  Dunno, but I’m sure something will occur to me.

Leader/Enders

pinstripeIt’d be nice if the “something that occurs to me” includes this gray pinstripe.  It’s 4 yards of vintage summer suiting that was gifted to me by, you guessed it, Miss G.  But which side should I use?  The right side pinstripe is very nice, but the wrong side has a shot cotton effect that is equally intriguing.

However it works out, I’ll keep one thought uppermost in that fluffy little brain of mine:  this is not a resolution, it’s simply another episode in my quilting adventure.

Crazy lady here, saying toodles and happy trails!

 

 

Did It Happen At The World’s Fair?

More buried treasure from central Missouri unearthed by my sister, Louise – a cache of photos of Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier (1888-1963), and her husband, James Garfield Saucier (1887-1962).

Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier 1888-1963

I have a theory that this photo might’ve been taken during a trip to St. Louis, when Ida went to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition along with a Miss Saucier, Flora Mack, Minnie Rueppele, and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Schmuke, all of Stanton, MO – a newsy tidbit pulled from the Republican Headlight of Union, MO dated 29 July, 1904.  Ida would’ve been 16 years old… just about right, I’d say (no corroboration, just happy daydreaming).

I suspect that the photo above was a proof provided by Sidney Studio of St. Louis – the photo does seem sloppily mounted – and that the following photo is the finished portrait.  It’s the same shot, but cropped, and done by L.J. Newton – perhaps a photographer that was local to Stanton or Union?

Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier 1888-1963

Then a pair of professional portraits of Ida and Jim from a little later, possibly the late 1930s or early 1940s.  The photographs were shot by Ruth Rust in Jefferson City, MO (at one time, Miss Rust was the official photographer for members of the state legislature and state officers).

Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier 1888-1963

James Garfield Saucier 1887-1962

Last but not least, a snapshot of our grandparents from the early 1950s: Jim and Ida Saucier in front of their home out on Route M in Taos, MO (or was it Route Y?).  The house is still standing – perhaps my ancillary database (Louise) will tell me where it is.

Ida and Jim Saucier - Taos, MO

A Lot Of People Like Snow…

225bI find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water — Carl Reiner

Oh dear, it’s winter again.

So what do we do when a storm rolls through two days after Christmas with winds gusting 60-70 mph, leaving 3.5 inches of ice in it’s wake, knocking out all of the electrical sub-stations in our area, and leveling utility poles for miles?

Refugee out, because we knew it was going to be an uphill climb back to normal.  Eight days without power if you’re counting… and I was.

233bWe stuck it out at home for three days, and are old pros at making our coffee and meals in the fireplace.  But our water is supplied by a well – no electricity, no water – and we haven’t gotten around to adding a solar system to power the pump, so water soon became the real issue.

When it got to the point that we’d used up the emergency non-potable water, and found ourselves gazing longingly at the water troughs the donkeys use (and the occasional silly rabbit that quickly becomes a dead silly rabbit)… well, it was time to think about 4-wheeling out in search of more civilized living conditions.

220bWe did our best Grapes of Wrath imitation and loaded up clothing, bedding, incidentals, and all three dogs.  First stop was the vet’s office, and after some undignified begging – we weren’t the only homeless family that week – Big Jack, bigger Tank, and lil’ sister Tilly had a new home for the duration.

Then it was off to the hotel for us – land of temperature controlled rooms, running water, lights, and free breakfasts.  Best of all?  A flat screen television and an outlet to plug my sewing machine into.

You didn’t think that I’d leave my sewing machine at home, did you?  Did you, really?

234bAnd living in a hotel isn’t that bad.  All of our meals were eaten out; no cooking, no washing up.  No cleaning up after myself either, a maid came in every single day and tidied up after me – coooool.

Lots of cable channels to choose from, a generous block of time spent in my “sewing area” after work, but before the cocktail hour, and a pile of books received as Christmas gifts to help fill in the blank spots.  All in all, a fairly sweet deal.

227bNote to self: a hotel-sized mini microwave is too small for a standard size bag of microwave popcorn… the burned smell lingers.

There was also enough time to wander the halls in the hotel, snapping random phone pictures of the room numbers.

So… can you identify the international chain that we parked our big-old-fat-ones in?

One of my sisters also chipped in with some interim entertainment (I forgot to mention the free WiFi).  Louise had been rummaging through a cousin’s keepsake bin/box/trashcan, and turned up a treasure in the process.

A birth announcement for a 10# boy, born 5 May 1910, son of James Garfield Saucier (with a big assist from Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier).  The postcard was addressed to Arthur Glauser, care of Judge Glauser.  Arthur was the husband of Julia (Hoffmann) Glauser, Ida’s older sister.  I haven’t been able to ferret out any information on Judge Glauser, but my bet would be that he was Arthur’s pappy.

As for the 10# baby boy?  That would be our dad, Leo James Saucier.  Thanks sis – you did great!

Still Life With Donkeys

Earlier today, my favorite SIL posed the question: What are you working on?

Honestly?  I’ve been having a love affair with 9-patches.  This weekend I put a check mark on a reproduction quilt top begun ten years ago.  I had the field of blocks complete, and the cheddar sashing mostly done, when I began cutting the wholecloth borders.  Then… full stop.

Now there’s this thing about the fabric I used in the border.  It’s kind of ugly.  But I kind of love it for all of its ugliness, and it was a millennium fabric done for Quilt For The Cure, so it was kind of like guilt free spending at the time.

Sort of.

I had long suspected that it was a reproduction fabric, and I’ve since found the likely source – the backing fabric used on a pineapple quilt, supposedly dating to 1876.  The website where I found the quilt listed is called 1stdibs; a site self-described as “the world’s leading online marketplace for the most beautiful things on earth.”  And the price tag for the quilt?  $4,995.00.

(yowza)

lady liberty 1876 1stdibs

Lady Liberty 1876 1stdibs

A little artistic license was used in recreating the Quilt For A Cure fabric.  We still have the beehive, cornucopia, and wheat – all symbols of prosperity and abundance – but the corn has gone AWOL.  Lady Liberty, her shield, and anchor remain, but Anno Domini and MM were added to the anchor… and that leads us right back to where we started: millennium fabric so ugly only I could love it.

Quilt For A Cure Millennium Fabric

Rewind to ten years ago: I botched the border cuts.  Devastated, I folded everything up – toe-tagged it, bagged it, and forgot about it.

Fast forward to early yesterday morning: I was flipping through an old quilt magazine (American Patchwork & Quilting – February 2005), when I stumbled across the pattern for the not-quite-forgotten quilt.  The pattern is called Civil War Soldier Patch, by Julie Bragg.  What originally caught my attention ten years ago, was that the quilt was based on the dimensions for a U.S. Sanitary Commission cot quilt.  During the Civil War, hospital quilts and blankets were made long and narrow to cover the body, but not drag on the floor, and that translates into a perfectly sized quilt for a couch potato like me.

Imagine this: any Saturday night, with something on TV that is probably too violent, too graphic, likely something by Quentin Tarantino.  The floor is littered with candy wrappers, spilled soda and popcorn.  But my nifty new quilt never has to brawl with movie night detritus, it hangs nicely above the muck.

And I remembered why I’d buried the quilt top – those pesky borders – but I gave myself a stern talking to.  “Get over it, it’s a utility quilt, get it done”, I told myself.  So back up on the design wall it went.

I thought that this morning I’d try snapping an interesting photo or six to share, but real life, in the form of my pair of donkeys, got in the way.  Some photos have just noses.  Some photos have just ears.  But most of the set-up shots have a stealth attack involving one or more donkeys.

Still Life With Donkeys

“Oh.  You wanted to take a photograph of that old thing?  Really?”  So I settled for a standard “let’s spread it out on the grass” shot , sans donkeys.  See the cotton field across the road?  A few more weeks and it’s picking time.

The soldier’s quilt finished at 54.5″ x 84″ (app. 138×213 cm).

Soldier's Quilt

Still Life With Donkey

I’ve also been playing with Miss G’s bag of orphan blocks, fifty two of which are 9-patches.  Let me tell you about those blocks – Miss G, being a housekeeper all her life couldn’t gift me with (probably) old and musty fabrics.  She laundered them all.  And yes, they frayed, but her heart was absolutely in the right place.

So after much blocking and pressing, I cut all fifty two blocks down to uneven 9-patches, and that’s when they began to take on a life of their own.  I decided that a riff on the Sister’s Choice block would be a good place to start, and I knew that I wanted to use two different blocks in the quilt.  But the second block eluded me…  time to go stash diving for inspiration.

When I surfaced, I had found four fabrics: a black gingham, plus three more fabrics that had been given to me (again, from my favorite SIL).  One was a red/white check that reminded me of growing up on the road, seeing the Purina logo on storage silos in the rural towns we passed through.  The second was a bit of gorgeousness: an entire vintage feedsack in blue with a ditzy fan and flower motif.  Lastly, a good green.  Love me some green in everything!

The gingham became points for the Sister’s Choice blocks.  The red check, blue feedsack, and that good green became Hens & Chicks.  The blocks finished at 14″, and the entire quilt top is 70″ (177.8 cm) square.

Twelve of Miss G’s orphan 9-patches down.  Forty to go.

Sister's Choice/Hens & Chicks

Sister's Choice & Hens & Chicks

It Was A Scrappy 4th of July

A typical 4th of July for me?  Long hours anticipating the pyrotechnic portion of Independence Day.

I did my best to dodge all thoughts of mundane chores – mowing being one that could be put off – managing to stay distracted until the time when my in-house grill master could work his magic with the all-American hamburger.  Then, just a short wait for the crump, crump… crump, of fireworks.

Sitting up on our little bit of a rise in a flat terrain, I anticipated good views from both the back porch and the front porch – yay!  If you can imagine me trotting through the house from porch to porch, greedy to see all of the fireworks, then you’ve got a true picture of what a little kid I can be.

In the meantime, the clock would be ticking incredibly slowly, not at all like the biological clock of Mona Lisa Vito (My Cousin Vinnie): “My biological clock is [tap-tap-taps her foot] TICKING LIKE THIS and the way this case is going, I ain’t never getting married.” – so I pulled out some scrappy bits and pieces to fashion a quilt with a patriotic theme, it was the 4th after all.

Inspired by a timely post called Olde Glory, a free pattern from Temecula Quilt Co., our flag and American roses would be my starting point.  Then I stumbled across a few miniature spool blocks left over from an older project.  I had almost all of the components ready to while away the hours.

Mission accomplished – the doll-sized quilt will finish at 18.75″ x 21″ (47.625 x 53.34 cm).

A Scrappy Fourth

Ostrich Humor – Anyone?

ostrich

OSTRICH, n. A large bird to which (for its sins, doubtless) nature has denied that hinder toe…  The absence of a good working pair of wings is no defect, for, as has been ingeniously pointed out, the ostrich does not fly. — Ambrose Bierce

Occasionally, when meeting the world head-on sounded like a drag, I’ve been known to do a fair Struthio camelus imitation.  I’ve had my head in the sand a lot lately, but I’m still kicking, nonetheless, and no, I don’t have a nest of eggs that needs checking on.  I’m aware that the ostrich effect is a myth except when describing behavioral finance… but I still like the metaphor.

Lots of books, music, and movies have gone under my wheels since I last posted.  My binges have included, but not limited to, all 10 books in the Bernard Samson series by Len Deighton, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse have been my constant quilting companions, with side trips accompanied by the likes of Steve Winwood, Cream, and Joe Cocker.  Movies: too numerous to list here, but here’s a hint – puredee escapism.

Elmer Tipton OK F2 TornadoThe weather here in Tornado Alley has finally driven me back to the computer; we’ve had a couple of “holy cow that was kind of close!” tornadoes blow through – friends and neighbors sustained damage, but our little piece of paradise is, so far, intact.  And the rain… we went from exceptional drought and near-dead lakes to ground that’s reached its saturation point and flooding in the last 3-4 weeks.  Highways to anywhere have been closed and a nearby town is dealing with evacuation procedures.  We’re in moderate drought now, but I have it from a reliable source that as soon as the new statistics are tabulated we should be listed as merely abnormally dry… huzzah!

The most recent quilting check mark – which, incidentally, rhymes with aardvark, airpark, autarch, ballpark, blue shark, bookmark, chop mark, debark, demark and D-mark – that I’ve seen lately, is my scrappy red and black version of Barbara Brackman’s Threads of Memory project.  The finished top measures 72″x87″ or app. 182×220 cms.

threads of memory barbara brackman quiltI still need to get three blocks plus borders finished on my Fig Tree & Co. fabrics version of the same quilt.  Never fear, I will get there one of these days.

On another quilting note: I finished quilting and binding my Bonnie Hunter Easy Street quilt from 2012 (seriously, 2012).  I was somewhat eager to show it off here, but disaster managed to strike first.  The pre-washed mauve fabric that I’d used as backing fabric bled…. and bled and bled and bled.  I’ve used every commercial product I could think of, and it’s still bleeding.  All of my nice white background fabrics are an ugly pinkish-mauve, ditto the greens and the aquas that I used.  But there is a silver lining – the purples are still purple.  My last ditch alternative is going to be using an ammonia solution – cross your fingers please – otherwise it’ll be designated as dog bedding.

Speaking of dogs: we lost Boomer this spring, one of a pair of big yellow dogs that lived with us, but we’ve since acquired a pair of litter mates as company for Boomer’s brother Jack, who badly missed having a wing-man.

Tank & TillyHave been puzzling over so-called designer dogs since our new puppies are a Labrador/Rottweiler mix, and what to call them.  Labrador/Rottweiler is a mouthful, so I’ve been reading about hybrid dogs with names like Yorkipoo, Alusky, and Labradoodle to name just a few of the recognized crossbreeds.

Where do Tank and his sister Tilly land?  Officially, they’re Labrotties, but I think instead that I’ll follow the Labradoodle logic and call them Labradotties if asked.  The name rolls off the tongue easier and sounds like a lot more fun.  Besides, Labrottie, when said aloud, makes me think of some old and dignified Italian breed.  Too much responsibility to put on a pair of rough and tumble puppies.

Where’s Lilly?

Remember these fabrics from Miss G?  I had thought that it would be the absolute last fabric that I would find a spark of inspiration in.

Key West Hand Print FabricI often surprise myself – these bright Floridian prints that are so unlike anything that I gravitate towards were the fabrics that caught my attention when I was trying to decide where to go next while exploring Miss G’s treasure trove.

I had read that Lily Pulitzer often used Key West Hand Print Fabrics as a source for her fashions.  On further investigation, I learned the fabrics printed for Lilly Pulitzer, Inc. had the name “Lilly” incorporated into the the design itself.

But of course I just had to know if Miss G’s Key West Hand Print fabrics were Lillies, so the hunt began, and as it turned out, these fabric scraps are ALL Lillies.

Sometimes the Lilly is easy enough to find.  Other times not so easy.  Then at other times, after days of hair-pulling frustration, I’d find the next Lilly.

I’ve plumb forgotten to mention that the fabric has inspired me to begin a new quilt.  The pattern I drew up is based on probably the most famous dress designed by Lily Pulitzer: The Jacqueline Dress.

Can you find the Lilly in the following examples?  Here’s a tip – look for the dot on the “i”.

Hey – I Found My Stuff!

Miss G, who incidentally happens to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 92 to 96 years young – depending on who’s asking –  has long enjoyed going to estate sales and auctions.  When it comes to hauling her loot home, Miss G gets it there by way of her Fire Engine Red Dodge Ram pickup truck.  She drives it well enough while peeping over the top of the steering wheel (Miss G is five foot nothing, after all), and she does drive it straight as an arrow, if really, really, really slowly.

Coming from a generation that shies away from throwing things out, she sorts through her purchases, then tries to find suitable homes for the items she doesn’t need or can’t use.

Over the last several months, Miss G has decided that I was the candidate mostly likely to use some of the goodies that she’s been saving up from sales: all things quilt related plus sundry items she thought might interest me.

Cereal box templates that were shared between quilters and sent via the US Postal Service.  When could a person mail a letter for three pennies?  The answer is anytime between 1851 and 1958 – but judging by what was stamped on the envelope above, 1940 would be today’s correct answer.

There’s even a wee treasure, a 2½”x4¼” envelope in beautiful condition that’s chock full of Peter Pan fabric samples – colors that go by the names of Copen, Orchid, Canary, Cameo and Coral Bell.

There also seem to be enough pre-cut fabrics ready to be rocked into a Dresden Plate quilt.

Scads of patterns cut from newspapers and magazines, yards of vintage 1920s fabrics (about 90 years old!), with all of the motifs for an Oriental Poppy quilt cut out and many already basted.  You can see in the photo below that even the original pattern has been preserved.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then there are the orphan blocks.  Lots and lots of orphan blocks.  I’ve got a stack of Nine-Patch, a veritable tower of Improved Nine-Patch, blocks that I don’t recognize and haven’t identified yet, and so many hours went into making these blocks – they were all hand pieced, the stitches small and even.  So how can I ignore them?  Can I leave them to languish in bins and boxes?  Or should I simply pass them along to another quilter?  The answer to all of the above is, I can’t.

Stacks of orphan blocks

Whaddaya Mean You Didn’t Use Templates?

To kick off my latest personal challenge, I’ve made a quilt out of a few of the orphan blocks.  The maker of these particular blocks knew how to stitch, but was maybe new-ish to quilting.  She or he didn’t bother to use a template, and as a result, few of the circles were actually… um, how will I phrase this nicely?  Circular.  When assembled, there was only one block that was within miles of being circular.

Not a problem – a few down and dirty stitches embroidered onto the top to give the impression of circularity, and “hey presto!”, a primitive style little quilt.  A phrase springs to mind, one I heard while watching White Men Can’t Jump when I was binding the quilt, and when I heard it I barked with shocked delight.  “You can throw a cat in the oven, but that don’t make it a biscuit.”  So here’s a photo of my Biscuit Quilt – it’s not symmetrical, it’s not traditional, but it’s a quilt.

The finished size of the Biscuit Quilt is 45″x54″ (114x137cms).

Biscuit Quilt made from orphan blocks by JoT in 2014

I’m Really Not Changing Horses In Mid-Gallop

Miss G didn’t limit herself to traditional quilting fabrics when she was piling up treasure for me – she also included vintage fabrics from the Key West Hand Print Fabric Shop that began operation about 1960 (think Early Jet Set Chic).  For today’s bonus round of fabric trivia, you should know that the Queen of Prep, Lily Pulitzer Rousseau, had many of her fabrics designed and printed at Key West Hand Print Fabrics.

Just for grins – a short history of the shop can be found here, a pictorial history of the shop is here, and an overview of Lily Pulitzer Rousseau’s link to KWHPF is here.

I am completely open to suggestions when it comes to these fabrics – I think that they will be my biggest challenge to date… smiling pink monkeys kind of creep me out.

Thanks Miss G.  You are a pip!

Key West Hand Print Fabric Leaflet

Key West Hand Print Fabric Cutting Room Floor

Key West Hand Print Fabrics

 

A Nearly Wordless Wednesday

A volume of Longfellow poems: Photo credit Carol Jost FanconiA school prize - but so sad that the person who inscribed the volume of poems to Gertrude wasn't an apt speller: Photo credit Carol Jost FanconiFamily record keeping, penned by Gertrude Saucier: Photo credit Carol Jost FanconiSaucier Children and facing page of the Longfellow volume: Photo credit Carol Jost Fanconi

Voices of the Night

Hymn to the Night

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Aspasie, trillistos.

I heard the trailing garments of the Night
      Sweep through her marble halls!
I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
      From the celestial walls!
I felt her presence, by its spell of might,
      Stoop o’er me from above;
The calm, majestic presence of the Night,
      As of the one I love.
I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight,
      The manifold, soft chimes,
That fill the haunted chambers of the Night,
      Like some old poet’s rhymes.
From the cool cisterns of the midnight air
      My spirit drank repose;
The fountain of perpetual peace flows there, —
      From those deep cisterns flows.
O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear
      What man has borne before!
Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care,
      And they complain no more.
Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer!
      Descend with broad-winged flight,
The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair,
      The best-beloved Night!

 

[Edit: Serendipitous that Gertie chose the Longfellow poem that began with a variation on her younger sister’s middle name, don’t you think?]

The Saucier Family: One Last Word

The Saucier Family circa 1900

Top Row: Wayne, Gertie, Hattie, Lulu, Clara, Flo, JoJo, Jim

Middle Row: Stumie, Eugene Saucier, Louise Saucier, Ben

Front Row: Gene, Ethel, Mabel, Cack

It’s been over a year now since I posted a call for help on the photograph of the Saucier Family, and at last I feel that I can put a “period” to this topic.  My thanks go out to everyone who’s contributed gentle advice, corrections, family stories and anecdotes in the process of sorting out the facts.  Thanks specifically to generous cousins of the Cowan, Howell, Tappel, Fanconi, Saucier, Thomas, Cotrufo and Goodin variety, we have photos of each of the children later in life.  Some you’ve certainly seen before, but there are a few that may be a surprise.  There is one photo that I’ve cropped out of a group shot for lack of anything better, but over on the sidebar you’ll find a gallery where you can see the original photo prior to my snip-snip with digital scissors.

I’ve put the photos in the same order as they appear in the photo above, not in order of their ages.

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Everywhere I Look, I See Stars

Closeup of Summer Stars 2012 by Temecula Quilt Co.First official finish of 2014 – and is it really the end of June?  The year is half over already.

This little quilt began as a free summer sew-along pattern by Temecula Quilt Co. from 2012 titled, Summer Stars.  I usually begin at least one red, white & blue project in the summertime – and 2012 was no exception – but I didn’t want this one to scream RED, WHITE & BLUE.  Burrowing into my scrap bin I turned up a group of reproduction fabrics with definite possibilities, fabrics with softly faded personalities, and they gave the quilt just the look that I was after.

While I enjoyed making the star blocks that summer anyone who knows me, knows that I’m often compelled to put my own spin on the overall design.  An idea for setting the blocks didn’t spring immediately to mind, so the eight wee star blocks ended up languishing nearly forgotten on the design wall for nearly two years.  Two years!

Inspiration finally clobbered me over the head a few weeks ago and the star blocks came down off the design wall.  I’ve added 9-patch setting blocks plus borders from another repro fabric.  The star blocks finished at 3.25 inches, and the finished quilt measures 15″ x 23″ or 38.1cm x 58.42cm.

Variation on Summer Stars 2012 by Temecula Quilt Co.

First Star To The Left… but of course you know the rest of the J.M. Barrie quote.

Canada Star by Barbara BrackmanAnd if you’re wondering yes, I’m still living in a dream world, a world where I really and truly believe that I can demolish my pile o’scraps.  This has become quite the funny ha-ha joke in my sewing room, and I think even the dogs are laughing at this point.  So clap if you believe.  But clap for me, please, not Tinkerbell.

In the continuing saga of my scrap quilt challenge, first up is the Threads of Memory project by Barbara Brackman.  I’ve pulled every red, white & black scrap that I could find – there are quite a few of them – and the group of star blocks has begun to remind me of a setting for a summer picnic.

I hate to admit what a complete slacker I am, but as of this weekend, I’m two months behind in the Brackman project.  I’ll get off my bigoldfatone soon and get caught up.  Right after the next round of visits from family.  And then there’s the Saucier Family Reunion July 19th.  Right after that.  Maybe.

Do you wonder if I really have a Master Plan for the destruction of the scrap bin?  Certainly, and the following photo will give you an idea of where a major portion of the scraps will find a home.  But scraps aren’t the only items in my sights this year… idle yardage will also get used up wherever and whenever possible.  Example?  I’ve had some American Jane Alphabet fabric in my stash for years, and that fabric is in the process of becoming a border of words that evoke summer for me… a perfect coda for this summer’s string pieced star quilt.

String Pieced StarsPulling together a summertime words border from American Jane Alphabet

Regarding Stories of the Saucier Family by Louise T. Saucier

Louise T Saucier

Louise Theresa Saucier

I’ve been having the most wonderful ongoing conversation with Claire Saucier, who stepped forward a few weeks ago and generously shared information she received from her aunt, Louise Theresa Saucier (1916-2012).  Louise Saucier was not only the daughter of Anthony Wayne Saucier (1885-1926), but she was a family historian.  Louise faithfully recorded both the hard data and the family stories we’ve heard since we were children… plus a few more items to be treasured.

Anthony Wayne and Charley Saucier, Washington, Missouri 1923

Anthony Wayne and Charley Saucier

Claire has gathered and organized this information into a book titled: Stories of the Saucier Family by Louise T. Saucier.  How many times have I read it cover to cover, or referenced back to a particular photo or piece of information?  Couldn’t begin to say, but I will say that the book is a delight mainly because much of the focus is on the day to day life of Wayne and Theresa (Walz) Saucier; and their three children, Louise, Charley and Bill.

I’ve been given permission to include a few photos from Claire’s book.  The first is the photo at the top: Louise costumed for either a high school or college production (both of which are mentioned in the book).  The second photo is of Uncle Wayne and his son, Charley Saucier, taken at Washington, Missouri in 1923.  I’ve also added several photos to the new photo gallery located on the sidebar (as if you hadn’t noticed it already), two of which are photographs of Aunt Clara and a more recent photo of Louise.

As a result of this new info, I’m going to reopen the topic of the key for the Saucier Family photograph.  Those lucky enough to have corresponded with Louise will recognize the writing.

Saucier Family Photo Key by Louise T. Saucier: courtesy of Claire Saucier

Saucier Family Photo Key by Louise T. Saucier: courtesy of Claire Saucier

 

The Saucier Family

The Saucier Family

Another cousin and I were discussing the family photo only yesterday, and my conclusion was this: in my experience, a family portrait taken around the beginning of the 20th century was a very big deal.  Not only was every family member included, but also at times, horses and buggies, cats and dogs, prized furniture and sometimes even a quilt or two.  Louise’s key makes so much sense to me, not only because she was Uncle Wayne’s daughter (and in Claire’s words, a daddy’s girl), but also because she grew up in close association with her aunts and uncles.

Saucier Reunion – 2014

File:MOMap-doton-Taos.png

Click on image to see map of Taos, Missouri

I have an update regarding the Saucier Reunion that’s being held July 19, 2014 at St. Francis Xavier Hall, 7307 Route M, Jefferson City (in the old Taos township), Missouri 65101.

The lunch will be a catered affair and our hosts and hostesses, the Alvin D. Saucier kids, are trying to get an idea of how many mouths they should be prepared to feed.  While drop-ins are more than welcome, I thought that I’d try to see what kind of interest there might be so they will have an idea of what kind of invasion to plan for.

I’ve so enjoyed corresponding with all of my newly found cousins out there, and would dearly love to meet you – and continue our conversations – in July.

So call, email, or text your mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, kids, & grand-kids… and bring them along as well!

John Wayne Always Got The Best One-Liners

It seems forever since I did anything besides paddle around in the deep end of my genealogy pool.  Some people may think that I’m ruthlessly single-minded at times, and that could be a good thing if we were faced with something along the lines of a zombie apocalypse.  But as of this moment in time, in my particular version of reality, that’s not even a blip on the radar.  I do try to journal about things that interest me, and hopefully others as well, but lately I’ve been fully immersed in the whole Ghosts of Family Past thing – fairly heady stuff.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMoving along… Stitchin’ Witches Mystery Quilt-Along is complete and I hope she leads another one soon.  The big reveal with assembly and border instructions hit my inbox last month, so I shifted into D (after spending a couple of late winter months in N).  I was already two blocks behind in the project – plus, I’d never gotten around to finishing the signature block.  For those that are interested in how I completed the siggy block, I let my heart make the decision.  I embroidered it by hand, and I’m mightily glad that I did.

Kaye England Civil War Legacy Quilt The Stitching Witches Quilt AlongAs for borders… since I was working strictly out of my scrap bin I didn’t have the option of a whole cloth border. So I asked myself what kind of pieced border could I make for a quilt made almost entirely of half-square triangles.  The answer was obvious – more half-square triangles, of course.  I had a few ‘reject’ HSTs left over, and with the aid of the Magic 8 method, the remaining 240-plus went quickly.  I found an alternate method – after the fact, of course – to make 4 perfect HSTs at a time in a Craftsy video.

The pattern for this quilt, minus the HST borders, is Kaye England’s Civil War Legacy.  Overall, I’m very pleased with the way the quilt top turned out, especially since I managed to hold myself to the absolute bare minimum as far as tweaking or modifying blocks.  That’s a very hard impulse for me to control, and in most cases I never-ever try to rein in those “how would it look if” thoughts that go blasting through my brain.  For this one, single, quilt, I managed to follow most of the instructions (yay!).

Finished dimensions: app. 60″ x 78″ (152cm x 198cm).

civilwarlegacy

 

Hot Diggity, Dog Ziggity!

Sometimes I wonder about myself.  Sometimes it seems like I’m more than just a little slow.

A few weeks ago Tom Saucier sent me the cabinet card of Pelagie Roussin Saucier.  Attached to his email, Tom included a bonus, a photograph of a lovely but unknown woman.  I’ve marveled over the details in the portrait, the silk dress, ear-bobs, wedding ring, and brooch; this well-dressed woman was posed with her right hand resting gracefully on a book that perches on a side table draped with a piece of tapestry.

zoeBut the woman’s name written at the bottom… I read it as Mrs. Zoeda Beaumer or perhaps Beaumen.  I’ve been through my files over and over again, confirming what I already knew – there is no Zoeda in my family tree.

My aha! moment came this morning while staring at the writing – it’s not a “D”, it’s an “L”.  Not Zoeda… Zoe La.  Seriously.  Imagine an old Disney animation, maybe something along the lines of Snow White… the clouds parted, the sun beamed forth, the air was filled with trilling and tweeting birds – all of that happening around me when I realized who the lovely woman was.

Mrs. Zoe La Beaume, wife of George Hammond La Beaume, born Zoe Pelagie Saucier in 1839.  Daughter of Eugene Frederick and Pelagie Saucier, older sister of Eugene Felix Saucier, my great-grandfather… which makes her my very own great-grandaunt.

I recalled that there was a La Beaume mentioned in the 1943 Roussin Roundup Bulletin, where Madeline Roussin writes of Zoe (La Beaume) Steffen, whose sons Jack and Paul were serving in the armed forces during WWII.  Zoe Clotilda Steffen was Zoe Pelagie La Beaume’s daughter.

Roussin Roundup FragmentAnd just for grins, I confirmed the link again in a letter from Louise T. Saucier to Glen Cowan.

I think that I’ll need to start my own gallery soon, a collection of family photos seen at-a-glance.  For now, there’s Kith & Kin, where I’ve begun indexing links to specific posts containing family photos.

Toodles for now… I’m off to work on the next mystery.

Pelagie: A Rose By Any Other Name

Pelagie Roussin Saucier Reunion

Mesdames et Messieurs – I present to you Pelagie Roussin Saucier, born about 1815 – died 1902.  In her youth, Pelagie was described as little, black-eyed, and redheaded.  As far as I can tell, I didn’t get but one of my great-great grandmother’s genes… the black eyes.  What about you?

Another Saucier cousin – a grandson of Anthony Wayne Saucier – stumbled across this site a couple of weeks ago and generously shared the photo from his files.  The image is from a cabinet card, a larger photographic portraiture than the popular cartes de visite that were in wide use until the 1860s.  The cabinet card was given to him by his aunt, my father’s cousin, Louise Theresa Saucier, before her death in January, 2012.

I took the liberty of digitally cleaning and doing a little restoration work on the photograph, but I left the reverse of the cabinet card untouched.  Wondering about the possible date of the photograph, I went on a side trip to uncover some information on the photographer, Charles F. Meier.  As it turned out, he was prominent in the world of 19th century St. Louis, Missouri photography, and from 1875-1887, he operated a studio at 1406 Carondelet Avenue.  About 1892, the address on Meier’s cabinet cards changed when the studio moved to a location on S. Broadway.  Meier continued in the photographic business on S. Broadway until at least 1900.

Pelagie Roussin Saucier Reverse Side of Cabinet Card

I find it somehow reassuring to see Benjamin Harrison Saucier’s Woodland, California address scrawled on the back of Pelagie’s photograph.  Both images are a treasure, and I can’t begin to express my thanks to another newly found cousin.

Don’t Touch That Dial!

I still have a little more information to share that I hope interests at least some of you.  Save the date: there will be a Saucier Family Reunion on July 19, 2014 in Taos, Missouri – southeast of Jefferson City, Missouri – at the St. Francis Xavier Hall (otherwise known as the school cafeteria), from Noon to 4pm.  Lunch will be served at 1pm.  We’re all invited – the more the merrier!

I was told that more details will follow… so stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted as soon as I learn more.

Winter, Say Sayonara… Please

My apologies for the month-long silence.  So what exactly have I been doing?  During my absence I’ve been mostly holding a lot of incredibly boring and one-sided conversations with myself and sleeping through an amazing number of movies.

Con·va·lesce: to become healthy and strong again slowly over time after illness, weakness, or injury.

One quick snip during an emergency surgery rid me of a bothersome appendage, my appendix. Since then, I’ve had plenty of time to peruse the statistics that I didn’t fit neatly into – appendicitis can affect anyone, but it most often occurs between the ages of 10 and 30 years of age.  My best guess is that I’m simply a late bloomer in the extreme.

I was happy-happy when I was released to go home – in my opinion, a hospital is no place for a sick person.  What with the constant chuffing of the IV machine, and the liberal visitation policy (the woman in the next room, 92 years young and quite hard of hearing, still had visitors at 11pm), and the inflating of the automatic blood pressure cuff every five minutes, and the certified nurse’s assistant waking me up at 2am to ask if I wanted to get up and brush my teeth (seriously?), or to record my vitals, and the quick bursts of cackling from the night nurses who were apparently holding a hen party in the hall just down from my room… I couldn’t get home quickly enough.

Oh, I’ll just fess up and admit that I’m probably not an easy patient – at least not until I’m told that I can go home – then it’s smiles for everyone.

Washington's Sidewalk Kaye Egland Civil War Legacy Stitchin' Witches Quilt AlongFeeling much better, thanks, but I find that I now have a whole lot of catching up to do.  As of this morning, I was officially two months behind on Stitchin’ Witches Mystery Quilt Along.  I’ve not done the February segment yet, but I did get the March segment, Washington’s Sidewalk, knocked out – it really was a lot of fun to plan and piece.

North Star Sawtooth Kaye EnglandHere’s my January segment, a sawtooth North Star.  So glad that the instructions for this block arrived before the February interruption.  I’m still waiting for my quilting mojo to return, and I don’t think that I could have done justice to all of those points just yet.  We’re getting so close to a finish, and I’m very excited to see how this mystery quilt will come together.

Barbara Brackman’s newest Civil War quilt along, Threads of Memory, began in late January.  The blocks for this project are 12 inches finished, and when that information was released the crazy woman decided to do two versions, sadly neither is in Civil War reproduction fabrics.  Okay, so I’m more contrary than crazy.

portsmouth star Barbara Brackman Threads of MemoryLike a lot of quilters, I’ve got a scrap bin that’s turned into a bit of a beast.  As a matter of fact, it’s grown so much that it’s overflowed onto what I now term “the scrap table”.  Something needed to be done, and done quickly, so I shopped my scraps and came up with a nice assortment of appropriate bits in red, black and ivory/cream.  Wish me luck on my quest to vanquish the scrap monster, but please note that I never-ever said that I wouldn’t purchase new fabrics while I was trying to reduce the pile o’scraps.

portsmouth star Barbara Brackman Threads of Memory Perhaps I was needing relief from a seemingly never ending winter when I spied the fabric line, Honeysweet by Fig Tree Quilts.  It is so outside of my comfort zone, but I was absolutely smitten from the first moment I saw it.  Whatever the reason, I’m now the proud owner of a layer cake plus some yardage of my favorite prints, and I have the next ten months to make the fabrics work in my world.

That’s it folks, I’m mostly caught up except for a mountain of email.  Toodles for today… this crazy woman is signing off.

Nothing Up My Sleeve… Presto!

butterscotch yellowInterview With A Quilter: by James D. Snoope

I spent the last few miles of my journey checking the rearview mirror, amazed at the rooster tail of red dust that was kicked up in the wake of my rental car.  When not looking back at where I’d been, I focused my attention on where I was going and keeping the small economy car from rattling itself off the washboard road.

I checked my watch, I was still a few minutes early for my appointment.  I’d fought my new boss for this assignment, a much sought after interview with the semi-reclusive quilter, Savannah Threadwell – such an article would be considered a coup in the world of quilt journalism.

A new, leather bound notebook lay open on the seat next to me, a present from my parents after I landed this job, my first real job after college.  I stole a quick glance at the the scribbled driving instructions, nearly missing the last turn in the process.  Gripping the wheel, I made a wide, sliding curve onto the gravel driveway of a rambling red brick house, braking hard to avoid the farm equipment parked there.  The trailing dust cloud caught and enveloped the car – a small blessing, I thought, that I wouldn’t have to see the business end of a bale mover connect with the front end of my car.  It really was a shame that I had declined the extra rental insurance.

In the next moment I realized that the car had not only stopped but stalled, the only sound I heard was the ticking of the engine as it cooled.  When the dust settled, I could see that I had avoided both financial disaster and a K.O. to my budding career.  In my notebook was a photograph that had been procured by our research department and I’d studied it well in preparation for today.  The snapshot had been taken quite a few years before, but there was no doubt in my mind that the woman standing beside the bale mover was Ms. Threadwell herself.

A tall woman.  Her once dark brown hair was worn shorter now, and more than lightly touched with silver.  She was flanked protectively by two yellow-orange dogs.  If they had been cats, the color of their fur would be described as marmalade, but I knew by looking at their hard and alert eyes that no one could ever mistake them for jam sweet doggies.

As I took in the tableau, I noticed that Ms. Threadwell had accessorized carefully for today’s meeting, a shotgun hung easily across her left arm.  With justifiable caution, I climbed out of the rental car and introduced myself, adding, “I’d be wary of casual strangers,too, if I lived as far out in the country as you.”

Savannah Threadwell’s reply didn’t warm me.  She said it quietly, and the words hung heavily in the air before she turned to lead me into her home to begin the interview.  “Strangers don’t scare me.  Zombies do.”

James:  Ms. Threadwell… may I call you Savannah?  I’ve read a lot of stories about the project that you, and many other quilters around the world are working on, a quilt designed by Bonnie Hunter called Celtic Solstice.  I’d like to question you more closely on that subject, but before we begin, could you shed some light on one thing for me?  Did you really say zombies?

Savannah:  Would you like some coffee, Jimmie?  I…

James:  Uh, the name is James.  But maybe you’d be more comfortable calling me Jim.  And thanks, I could use a cup.  Black, please.

Savannah:  Oh, right.  As I started to explain, I don’t worry about strangers so much as I do zombies, Jimmie.  As a point of reference for your readers, I read, and books always make a strong appearance as Christmas gifts.  While what interests me is such a mixed bag – everything from hardboiled detective novels to hard-core science fiction – my one constant is to have a good horror story in the pile.  It really starts the new year off with a bang.  You may not know this, Jimmie, but in the horror market, vampires are un-dead meat, so to speak – zombies are the monsters of choice right now.  So to answer your question, Jimmie, when one has a lively imagination, one must be aware of strangers wandering onto one’s property.  Have one of those peanut butter cookies, Jimmie.

James:  I thought we’d settled on Jim?  Are you trying to say that these books frighten you into paranoid, er, delusions?

Savannah:  Oh no, not paranoid.  Let’s just call it a heightened state of awareness.  Banana bread, Jimmie?

James:  [blink] Okay.  So, regarding your quiltingI’ve heard that Bonnie Hunter hosts a mystery quilt-along every year, beginning on the day after Thanksgiving and finishing with the reveal on New Years’ Day with a link-up party after each weekly clue.  This seems very intense.  As a rule, do you always work at such a pace?

Savannah:  Not at all, Jimmie.  I think that I could best be described as a lazy quilter.  I cut a little fabric, I do a little piecing, and I stare at the progress a lot.  If I worked on every quilt as intensely as I do during Bonnie’s mysteries, nothing would ever get done.  You’ll notice, if you haven’t already, that the Christmas tree and holiday decorations still haven’t been taken down.  Then there’s everything that goes along with the general neglect that you see; a lot of meals out of cans, and the drawers are nearly empty of clean laundry.  Well Jimmie, all of that is just an unfortunate by-product of this once a year quilt bash.  Try some of that canned Spam, Jimmie, it’s a treat.

James:  When making a quilt from a designer’s pattern, do you follow the instructions down to the last detail?

Savannah:  Well Jimmie, it’s all about tweaking the pattern to make the quilt your own.  Sometimes it’s something as simple as adding a border of your own design.  At other times, it’s changing up the block pattern just a bit – a variation, a deviation, or perhaps the process could be best described as a mutation.  Mutants!  First there was Godzilla, then Rodan, and now me.  Fudge?

James:  Yes, please.  Have you ever considered an alternative pastime?  What if you could no longer quilt?

Savannah:  Do I have a Plan B?  That’s a very interesting question, Jimmie.  As a matter of fact, I do.  In the past I flirted with several musical instruments; the harmonica, the dulcimer, but it’s the accordion that has always held a special place in my heart.  I’ve often thought that if all else failed, I could rely on my accordion to sustain me.  Have you noticed how much airtime the song Shipping Up To Boston by Dropkick Murphy’s has been getting lately?  It was used to great effect in Scorsese’s film, The Departed, but now the song has been featured in a mainstream beer commercial – that’s the accordion for you.  Some Vienna sausages, Jimmie?

James:  And your husband, your family, and your friendsare they as supportive as you hoped they would be?  What do they think of your passion for quilting after all these years?

Savannah:  Nuts.

James:  Thanks, but that fudge really filled me up.

Savannah:  No Jimmie, that was in answer to your question.  Nuts… as in nutty.  Everyone I know thinks I’m barmy.  Fruitcake, Jimmie?

celtic solstic bonnie hunter reveal[Edit.: I have one more border to add yet, a scrappy green border that didn’t get done in time for the last link-up party – close, but no cigar.  My version of Celtic Solstice with an extra border will finish at 83″, or 210.82 cm. square.]

I Like Red… A Lot

redwork embroidery toujours l'amour french market threads need'l loveThe color red always makes me hungry… apples, beets, cayenne pepper, cherries, cranberries, currants, guava, kidney beans, pomegranates, radishes, red bell peppers, red cabbage, red plums, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon – yum!  So how many more food items have I left off the list?

Is there anything more truly luscious than red?

It doesn’t much matter the tone – I like reds anywhere from the reddish-pink to a very nearly burgundy red.  Currently (and that gets me thinking about that red of a different color), I favor the tomato red.

I like reds in hand embroidery.  The image above is a piece of redwork that I finished (mumble) years ago and it’s been languishing in a UFO drawer ever since.  I know that it wants to become a pillow, and I’ve been waiting somewhat patiently for inspiration to strike, but it better strike soon or I’ll have to start referring to this piece as my vintage redwork.  And what if it begins to compost… (gasp)?

If you’re curious, the pattern is from a Needl’l Love book called French Market Threads, and happily it’s still in publication.  There are a lot of fun projects inside, including some quilts that are still on my to-do list.

I like reds in a quilt, too.  Anything from itty bitty pieces in a scrap quilt, to an entirely red quilt (with some neutrals tossed in just because).

Kansas Troubles Kaye Egland Civil War Legacy Stitchin' Witches Quilt AlongAnd as of today, I am all caught up with Stitchin’ Witches Quilt Along.  I have officially pressed the last seam in segment #8, Kansas Troubles. I had the idea that perhaps this would be the segment where I toned down the reds somewhat.  Wrong again.  If anything, I think that I added more red prints than before – that green almost looks like an oversight.

split triangles bonnie hunter celtic solstice mystery 2013No, it’s not red, but I do like orange as well.  I’m still plugging away at the components for Bonnie Hunter’s mystery quilt, Celtic Solstice.  I’ve got everything finished in Parts 1-4, but a mere 5 of the split triangle units for Part 5 are completed (sorry – that doesn’t make for much in the way of scrappy variety for the photo).  I only need 100 total of this particular component, and I’m positive that I can get the remaining 95 knocked out easy before Part 6 goes live on Friday morning.

We’re getting so close to Bonnie’s reveal.

mikado tomatoo seed packetPS – Barbara Brackman has given us a heads-up on a new Civil War BOM that begins January 25, 2014.  I haven’t quite decided for sure, but I’m wavering.

I’m such a soft touch when a quilt along is mentioned.

Are You All Right, Mr. Scrooge?

snowbelle 003The wee snow-lady above is called Snow Belle.  She was designed by Susan Fuquay and made by me way back in 2005, so she isn’t one of my newer quilts – on the contrary she’s a retread.  But aren’t many of our holiday traditions and decorations retreads?  We haul them down out of the attic, or from a high shelf in a closet or garage year after year.  The season would seem a little off kilter if I didn’t bring out the well used, and in some cases, the tired and faded components of what constitutes Christmas in our home.

Would it really be Christmas without the tawdry little yarn snowmen I made for our Christmas tree the year we were married?  And the egg ornaments, decoupaged with brightly colored calicoes, from that same year?  Christmas traditions come in many forms; the cinnamon apples at dinner when a certain brother-in-law comes to visit, peanut butter cookies and peanut brittle for my sisters, and let’s not forget the Christmas movies – they’re the gravy on the mashed potatoes, the ice cream on the apple pie, the melty marshmallows on the candied yams, the aristocracy of retreads… or at least they are in my world.

fredschristmaspartyIt doesn’t matter how much decorating goes on around the house, the holiday season hasn’t officially begun until I screen the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim.

What in particular do I love about this movie?  For one, the soundtrack is exceptional.  How about the music played by the fiddlers at Mr. Fezziwig’s Christmas Party?  The name of that ditty is Sir Roger de Coverley, and I dare you not to tap your toes when you hear it played.  There isn’t a better musical introduction for the Ghost of Christmas Present than Oranges and Lemons to convey a child’s sense of wonder and plenty.  Then the hauntingly beautiful song, Barbara Allen.  It was played as background throughout the movie, and sung as a duet at Fred’s Christmas party.

Oohoohooh – and what about Mrs. Dilber’s happy shout, “Bob’s yer uncle!” when Scrooge, for the first time, gives his charwoman a Christmas present?  (Niagara Falls, Frankie Angel)

Is this way more about A Christmas Carol than you ever wanted to know?  Okay… moving along.

rudolph2A Christmas Carol must be followed immediately by the Max Fleischer cartoon, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, from 1944.

After that, it’s Katie, bar the door… the evenings leading up to the big day are filled, in no particular order, with Scrooged (1988), A Christmas Story (1983), White Christmas (1954), Christmas In Connecticut (1945), Holiday Inn (1942) which  happens to be the Mister’s least favorite, Penny Serenade (1941), and How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966).

One last thought:  It’s odd, but Snow Belle has never made it out of the sewing room.  Oh, she gets moved to the front of the stack of little quilts so I can spy her whenever I walk past, but perhaps this year will finally be her year to shine.

Well Begun, But Not Quite Finished

Clue #4 of Bonnie Hunter’s mystery, Celtic Solstice was published last Friday.  All the strip sets have been joined and cut, but sadly, only 80 of the required 120 4-patches have been finished.  My excuse?  …..Christmas!  Hopefully, I’ll get the remaining 40 finished before next Friday.  Then again?  Maybe not.

4patches 002

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.  Don’t clean it up too quickly.  ~  Andy Rooney

Yay! It’s Ugly Sweater Season

theuglysweatershopLike a large part of the US this past week, it’s been cold enough to be considered sweater weather here in SW Oklahoma.  We had a little freezing rain, some sleet, and for us, a whole lot of snow.  Enough snow that the small town bank where I work didn’t open for business one day.  A snow day for adults (woot!).

The snow has finally melted in the last few days, turning our dirt road into a muddy bog – but even with the extra play day that saw me hunkered down in the house with our two dogs, I find that the closer it gets to Christmas the more hurdles there are trying to keep up with ongoing and time critical projects. No surprises there.

Stitchin’ Witch has sent out the instructions for Segment 8 of her mystery sampler.  The pattern is Kansas Troubles, a beautiful block, but I haven’t had the time to even contemplate fabrics or color placement.  Perhaps I can make some progress later on this week.

bonnie hunter celtic solstice part 3 pinwheel hstNote to self: use more pinwheels in future quilts.

Part 3 of Bonnie Hunter’s Celtic Solstice mystery project posted the morning of Friday the 13th, which as it happened, turned out to be a wild and wooly day at work.  In addition, it was just a couple of nights away from a full moon.  Perhaps it was those two events so near to each other that caused things to get so weird around the edges.  At any rate… after all of the bizarre and curious events of Friday, I decided that rotary cutting would be better left until the weekend.

For the small quilt, we were required to make 200 HSTs, using 100 to make twenty-five 3.5″ (8.89 cm) pinwheels, reserving the remainder to use somewhere else in the quilt.  Every time I make pinwheels, I’m reminded of how much I like pinwheels.

This time last year – while working on Bonnie’s Easy Street mystery – I fell behind, eventually finishing up weeks after most of the other participants.  I’m determined to stay on target with this year’s project, so I cut on Saturday and pieced on Sunday, putting a period to this segment.

We finally have enough components to start playing around with.  The yellow floral stands in for the unknown parts of the blocks – with so many possibilities, it’s a guessing game.  In all probability I’m way off base, but use a little imagination to fill in the blanks…

cstar

cshedgescsmaybeI’ve added a photo (and link) from Bonnie Hunter’s website.  The image below is a portion of the floor from Christ Church in Dublin, Ireland.  It’s easy to see that Bonnie was inspired by the palette.  More than that?  Only time will tell.

bonniehunterchristchurchdublinfloor

Where’s My Stuff?

I’ve semi-rearranged the sewing room to make room for the new quilting machine and in the process I’ve managed to misplace most everything – I can’t find my stuff.

I use the word rearranged very loosely.  It was more of a case of “shove this cart over into a corner, and this table over there.  Then stack a few things on top of whatever was most recently moved.  Okay, put a few more things on top of that tower of fabric, it shouldn’t topple over.  Oh yeah, and push this out of the way, too.”  The sewing room has reached critical mass, and I can’t find one thing in all of the chaos.

I could start cleaning this evening, but I think I’ll pull a Scarlett O’Hara – I’ll think about it tomorrow, meanwhile ignoring the mess while I sip on an adult beverage while I sit in front of the biggest time waster of all, my computer.

I’m still hanging with Bonnie Hunter and have spent the weekend hunkered down with Segment Two of the Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt.  Thank goodness that I’m only making the small quilt which measures 75″ or 190.5 cm square.  The fact that I don’t own a king-sized bed had a lot to do with my decision, in this case size does matter.

If I had opted for the large quilt, I would have needed to cut a total of 1,464 fabric patches to make 244 chevron units.  As it is, I cut 600 patches to make a grand total of 100 chevron units.  Each chevron measures 3.5″ or 8.89 cm unfinished.  Ten more chevron units and I can color this segment complete.

butterscotch yellowI had a last minute change of heart over the yellows.  When shopping my stash for this project, I pulled every piece of caramel colored fabric that I owned.  But within the last few weeks, I’ve been gifted with a number of bags and boxes of fabric and with the occasional surprise of quilting related buried treasure.  (Note: if I could find my stuff, I’d show you).  While burrowing through one particular bag – or maybe it was a box – I found a scrap of yellow fabric that made me think of butterscotch the minute I saw it.  “Too bad,” I thought, “that there’s so little of this fabric.”  I smoothed it out, and set it aside while I delved deeper into the bag (or box).  Soon after, I shouted “Eureka!” while hauling out several yards of the same fabric.

Selecting greens is easy – all greens live together in nature.  Blues can be a bit tricky, and in my world, so can reds, and oranges, and yellow.  So I chucked all of the caramel colored yellows in favor of the lighter, and in my humble opinion, happier butterscotch yellows.

Bonnie Hunter Celtic Solstice

It Followed Me Home… Can I Keep It?

December already… crazy.

midarmI’ve managed to fill my time somehow since my last post.  Mostly I’ve been playing with the new machine that I acquired on the final day of the Houston Quilt Festival.  Oh… did I not mention that a mid-arm sort of found its way to my house?  I’ve burned through masses of leftover muslin and batting since its arrival.  Some might call it practice, but really, it’s nothing but play time as far as I’m concerned.

machine quilting practiceHere’s To Whittling Down That Stack Of UFOs

I’ve been getting check marks on a couple of unfinished tops as well, but I’ve begun with baby steps.  The take-along project from the Houston trip is complete – although it only got taken out of the project bag for show and tell while stuffing my face with pizza one night.  I never got around to actually working on it until after my return.  The little “Giddap” donkey quilt finished at 18.5″ or 469.90 mm square.

Giddap: The Democratic Donkey Quilt Reproduction of a vintage quilt patternAnd the Itty Bitty Pinwheels quilt gets a ta-da, too.  This one finished at 10.5″ or 266.70 mm square.  You remember this one, maybe?  The one that very nearly drove me insane while I was working on it?  The one with the 1″ blocks?  Yeah, that one.

itty bitty primitive pinwheelsReds: Gotta Love ‘Em

And segment seven of Stitching Witches Quilt Along is sewn up.  After much consideration (aka: sitting and staring for hours when I probably should have been doing something else), I came to the conclusion that the green check fabric demanded just a little too much attention.  A “Do-Over” was declared.  The red is not nearly as exciting as the green, but the final version of the Corn & Beans block is more in keeping with the overall look of the mystery quilt so far.

Stitching Witches Quilt Along Corn and BeansStitching Witches Quilt Along Corn and Beans

How About A Whole Bunch Of Scrappy Fun?

Last, but not least: the day after Thanksgiving also signaled the start of Bonnie Hunter’s 2013 Mystery Quilt Along.  Bonnie’s 2012 Mystery Quilt, Easy Street, was so much fun, and turned out so well that I decided to join the party again this year.  It’s not a block a week, or a block a month, more of a… make 188 of these units this week.  Don’t know how or where these particular units will fit into the overall picture, but I know from experience that eventually, they will.

Celtic Solstice Bonnie Hunter Mystery 2013 The entire project is a little intense, but in a very, very good way.  Last year, we finished in 6-7 weeks.  I adore working on a schedule, I wish I could push myself to piece like that a little more often.

Another reason I’ve looked forward to Bonnie’s next mystery quilt is her scrappiness.  The last thing that I need to do at this time of the year is go out and buy more yardage.  Bonnie makes color suggestions but puts a lot of emphasis on using scraps, the more the merrier – and boy howdy, scraps I’ve got!

It’s not too late to join…

Easy Street Bonnie Hunter 2012I’m sitting here writing about the Bonnie Hunter 2013 Mystery, when all of a sudden, it hit me – I never posted one single photo of the Easy Street top from last year.  Here’s a sneak peak before it goes into the machine.

The Marquee Should Have Read: Welcome Back

Welcome Quilt Festival Houston 2013It’s such a good thing that I don’t go to Houston, Texas for the International Quilt Festival every year.  No, seriously, if I made the pilgrimage annually, I’d be in a constant state of quilting induced poverty.

As it is, I’ve certainly gone over my quilting budget for this fiscal year, and it’s highly likely that I’ve depleted my quilting fund for the next few years… yeah, that’s very probable.  It’s the last day of the festival that gets me.  The day when the vendors give fairly deep discounts so they won’t have to pack up the remaining stock and schlep it back to home base, wherever that might be (and there were all those shiny long arm machines singing a siren song).  Lucky for me I have a large stash and plenty of supplies.

vendorhallaThe photo above is just a small portion of the vendor hall, and it truly is a quilters paradise.  Does the floor look empty to you?  Good reason for that.  The photo was taken before the opening bell.  Try to imagine this with 60-odd thousand quilters in here over a four day period.

Crazy and awesome all at the same time.

It’s the perfect opportunity to stock up on all of the necessary notions, and believe me, you can find it all here: a rainbow of threads, machine and hand sewing needles for every occasion, and rulers, and gadgets, and patterns, and fabric of course.  Fabric pre-cut in fat quarters, half yards, and full yards.  Fabric on the bolt.  New fabric, hard to find fabric, hand dyed fabric.  Cottons, wools, and silks.  Classes and lectures on nearly any quilting technique that you ever wanted to learn.  Conversations being held in English with accents from assorted countries, French, Spanish, Japanese, and a few that I had an inkling about, but couldn’t identify for sure.

There was an ooh-shiny-pogoing-up-and-down-on-the-tips-of-my-toes moment every time I turned my head.  It’s nearly impossible not to return home inspired and ready to quilt… and slickly separated from your money.

But it’s worth every penny spent.

fromconventioncenter1

Houston, Texas Sunrise Quilt Festival 2013It was such a treat to be back in a city again.  All the people, the traffic, the noise, the restaurants, and don’t even forget the posh hotels.

Waking up early in the morning humming with the anticipation of goodies not yet seen.  Entire days filled with nothing that wasn’t quilt related.  I ate, drank, talked, slept, and breathed all things quilty.

Adult beverages and a pizza party in the hotel room in the evening because no one had any energy remaining to decide on where to eat.  For dessert?  Tumbling out each others spoils of the day so we could admire, and covet, and discuss.

I’d also like to mention that it’s some kind of treat when you wake up the next morning to the smell of leftover pizza – even though after my sister-in-law and her daughter-in-law had toddled back to their own room, I stashed all the detritus in the closet and shut the door tightly.

I’d like to send out a special note of appreciation to one who shall not be named, but whose name rhymes with Donnell, who put up with all the 50s, 60s, and other assorted classic vinyl music on the road to Houston, and who never complained once while Gracie and I sang along at the top of our not-so-tuneful lungs.  I sure hope that she’s still speaking to me.  I think she deserves a road trip name.

Did I forget anything?  Maybe a little something about the juried quilt show itself?  I won’t even try to describe the caliber of artistry there, but I will leave you with some images.  Have some fun trying to puzzle out what kind of quilting interests me.  There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to what caught my eye – as you’ll see, I was all over the board.

PicMonkey Collage1bonesPicMonkey Collage2

Do You Ever Wonder Why?

Sitting here this morning, curiously wondering how some quilt blocks got their names.  Occasionally, the name suits the block and other times the name makes no sense whatever.  Ohio Cluster is the name of this block – the cluster part I get.  But Ohio?

According to folklore, the Ohio Cluster block was used by abolitionists as an indicator pointing north towards freedom on the Underground Railroad.  Note my use of the word, folklore.  Although there was certainly a network of routes and safe houses in place during the 19th century, many quilt historians and scholars of antebellum America have questioned whether quilt codes were fact or fiction.

Ohio Cluster Stitching Witches QAL FlickrWhat else am I working on besides the Stitching Witches QAL?  Later this week I plan on a run down to Houston for the International Quilt Festival.  In anticipation of being completely stoked about all things quilt related, I’m pre-cutting fabrics for a take along project.  I wanted something interesting, yet small-ish, so I decided to pick from my ‘gosh-I-really-need-to-do-this’ list; a semi-vintage pattern that was last published in the Kansas City Star in 1977.

Why semi-vintage?  Because I was around in 1977 – coincidentally, I was in Kansas City in 1977 – and if I dropped the ‘semi’ part, that would be conceding that I’m vintage, too.  As if.

Democratic Donkey

A Donkey pattern similar to this was published in the Kansas City Star newspaper in 1931. The pattern was published in response to requests for a pattern representative of the Democratic party, due to the upcoming 1932 presidential election. “Giddap, A Very Democratic Donkey” was designed by the Ladies’ Aid Society at the Sedalia, Missouri, Congregational Church. Kansas City Star patterns were syndicated in many other states, making the Donkey pattern available to many people. — Great Lakes Quilt Center, Michigan State University Museum

And in case you haven’t seen what we have lurking in our pasture… here are Pepper and Donkey Hotie (pronounced Don Quixote), the inspirations for my version of the “Giddap” quilt.

Donkey

Still Living It Up With Color

Quilting in serial form.  Ever tried it?  Most folks call it a quilt-along, but it is after all, October, and I’m feeling like a serial quilter – ooh, scary.  On offer today is the next installment in the exciting saga of The Stitching Witches Quilt Along.

First up is the Montgomery segment.  This is to be our ‘signature’ block, and I haven’t decided what I’m going to put in the blank space at the center of the block.  Wait.  Let me clarify that last statement: I have all kinds of ideas of what I’d like to put there, but I’ll have to do a little winnowing before I can fit what I’d like to see in that small space.  Then there’s the application method: Pigma Pen? – that’s the easy route – Or hand embroidery?  Decisions, decisions.

Spoiler Alert: the pen will end up the winner… guaranteed.

Montgomery Stitching Witches Quilt Along Kaye England Civil War Legacy Scrap QuiltsNext is Yankee Pride.  I don’t usually have large prints suitable for a fussy cut center hanging around in my stash, but I turned up a floral that worked just fine.  I may have erred when selecting fabrics for this block, in particular, the small leaf print that I used to border the red star.  In hindsight, I probably should’ve used a fabric with higher contrast.  But do I think that the low contrast is enough to cry do over?  Nope.  I adore that wee print, so it’ll stay.

Yankee Pride Stitching Witches Quilt Along Kaye England Civil War Legacy Scrap QuiltsTune in next week for another installment… same Bat time, same Bat channel.

Batman Quilt Along Stitching Witches October 1966

Warning: Sunglasses May Be Required

The year long quilting party celebrating the Fight For Women’s Rights is over.  Now what?  For starters, I have no projects in mind that include yellow.  I’ve also joined another QAL, but this time I’m making a scrap quilt.  Am I having fun with it?  Boy Howdy!

Kaye England Civil War Legacy Quilt The Stitching Witches Quilt AlongIt’s such a relief to wallow in color again.  I’ve been diving into my fabric bins and pulling out bits and pieces and yardage in reds and greens and browns.  The only other restriction that I have is that the fabrics must have fun together.  So far so good.

Kaye England Civil War Legacy Stitching Witches Quilt AlongPulling fabrics for a scrap quilt can be likened to a surprise visit from an old friend.  In the photo above I see several fabrics from two different quilts that were made for my nieces.  Loved the fabrics then, still lovin’ them when they pop in again.

You might want to link over to Flickr and browse the group pool at The Stitching Witches Quilt Along, which is hosted by the one, the only, the original, Stitchin’ Witch.  What?  You were expecting someone else?

While you’re there, you might want to consider joining our group – don’t be shy, there aren’t any divas to be found among us, and it’s not too late to catch up.  All the details can be found at the Flickr Group, but in a nutshell: it’s a Mystery Quilt Along, and once a month on or about the 13th, Stitchin’ Witch will email you the pattern and instructions for the next segment.

Kaye England Civil War Legacy Stitching Witches Quilt Along

Block Forty-Nine: An Arc

An Arc Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceAn Arc: Bending Towards Justice, signals the end of Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project.  Barbara Brackman, quilt and textile historian, has generously given us a block a week for forty-nine weeks, accompanied by short history lessons focusing on women’s suffrage around the world.

Admittedly, the subject is one that fires my interest, and although women are enfranchised in many countries, voting isn’t the end of story.  We still have a long road ahead of us before we can say that we are truly on an equal footing with men, not only in the workplace, but in our daily lives.  This last bit is what helped me finish the Grandmother’s Choice quilt project in a way that I’d not imagined.

Grandmother's Choice Barbara BrackmanDuring the course of the project, I’d been busily planning the layout of my quilt, tweaking the overall concept until I was well satisfied with the design, or so I thought.  Additional fabrics were selected for the setting squares, my math was double-checked, and I settled in to begin the final step of making a quilt top.  As I progressed, my excitement faded, the quilt was not making me happy.

I tried different fabrics and values in the setting squares, but still, no happiness was forthcoming.  I persevered, sure that I had hit some kind of wall in the design process and it would work itself out by the time I was ready to add the borders.  I kept laboring on it until at last – huzzah! – the field was finished, and there it hung on the design wall.  What was my reaction?  I turned my back on it and walked away.  The quilt top was flat, bland, and uninteresting.  Boring.  Time to work out the problem without the disappointment of the unfinished quilt top staring back at me.

Capital T Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice I continued to check in on the Grandmother’s Choice Flickr group from time to time, watching as the completed quilt tops came trickling into the group photo pool.  I missed the camaraderie of our Saturday morning group.  Together, we had worked through the challenges occasionally thrown our way, applauded each other’s successes, commiserated and made gentle suggestions when we failed.

One day, I was musing and drifting, thinking about all the women we had learned about over the course of the last year, when the proverbial light bulb finally winked on.  We didn’t win the right to vote through the work of any single woman, but through the execution of the battle plans of many women working shoulder-to-shoulder to achieve a single goal.

Girl's Joy Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceThere was a large problem with my quilt, but the solution was simple – scratch the setting squares – all of that extra fabric simply made them shine out as individuals.  The blocks in my quilt needed to be set together, shoulder-to-shoulder so to speak.  You know what happened next… all of the sewing needed to be undone.

My trusty seam ripper and I became the best of friends for a time, but this has allowed me to become reacquainted with some of my favorite blocks.  Many of the instructions that Barbara gave us have found a permanent home in my pattern book to be used another day, in another quilt.

My version of the “Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights” quilt project finishes at approximately 68″ x 79″ – or 172.7cm x 200.6cm.

GC5

How To Self-Destruct Your Internet Business: or whatever happened to good salesmanship?

There’s been an awful lot of silence on this blog lately.  One might say there’s been a void-like quiet.  On this side of the computer screen, however, there’s been a fair amount of squawking, and at times, screeching going on.

I’ve been looking for a new car, and I’ve been all over the board in choosing the one that I could drive home.  It needed to be:

Fun to drive…

jeep1And it needed to have something of the workhorse about it…

gmcBut with a responsible outlook on fuel economy…

fiatMost importantly, it had to fit within a somewhat austere budget…

donkey

And So The Search Was On

I live in an area that could be described as a geographical oddity – it’s approximately an hour’s drive from anywhere, in any direction.  Because of that one little detail, I was very interested in utilizing the internet: first to do my homework, and then to narrow my choices to a particular vehicle at a particular price point before I invested the time and fuel to drive to a brick and mortar dealership.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I looked, we are indeed living in the 21st century; and the internet – and internet marketing – has been around for a year, or two, or twenty.  During that time, retailers have figured out a few things: that a large proportion of the buying public are inherently lazy, that they like shopping at all hours, and if you’re like me, you love shopping in your jammies.

Car dealers haven’t been slow to cash in on this type of marketing – do an internet search for any car and suddenly you’re bombarded by ads from the automotive industry.

Now, it’s my understanding that in parts of the good, old U.S. of A., car dealers have internet sales staff that actually use the internet as a tool in the negotiation and purchasing process.  Somehow, this information has been withheld or perhaps ignored by the internet sales force at new car dealerships in Texoma – a good sized area that encompasses southern Oklahoma and northern Texas.  Time apparently stands still in Texoma.  Here you’ll find mind-sets unchanged since the dawn of automotive history.

Another oddity – truly amazing.

Here’s my definition of frustration… you send off an inquiry to a dealership in regards to a particular vehicle.  Questions you might expect to ask, and the answers you’re likely to receive:

Q: Is this vehicle still in stock?

A: What’s your zip code?

Q: Do you have a similar vehicle with 4-wheel drive?

A: What’s your phone number?

Q: I see that you only have the MSRP online.  What’s the sale price of this vehicle?

A: What color do you want?

Q: Are you open for business today?

A: Come on in and test drive!  (Silly me – an hour’s drive later I found out it actually wasn’t.)

Never Say Die

It’s incredible that so many dinosaurs (of both sexes) continue to survive, and that they insist on clutching old school sales techniques to their respective bosoms with a death-grip.

But these kinds of responses made narrowing my options easier in some ways.

For instance, at one point in the purchasing process, the owner and general manager (of a dealership that shall remain nameless) sent an inquiry regarding my experience with his internet sales staff.  I made the honest mistake of leaving customer feedback.  Imagine my surprise when that information was turned over to his internet sales manager and I received a response that looked a lot like the opening salvo of a pissing contest.  My reaction to these so-called sales techniques?

Imagine me in front of my computer, innocently reading email… when suddenly my head exploded.  Another new car dealer was scratched off my list.

Car buying on the internet has been an educational experience.  I’ve tucked away some good information for the next time – and there will be a next time – but I’ll be better prepared and better armed.  For now, let’s just say that I finally found the one – color the crazy woman happy.

juke

Block Forty-Eight: Fair Play

For Every Fighter A Woman Worker by Ernest Hamlin Baker. Photo Credit Library of CongressForty-eight blocks down, and only one block remaining.  This week’s block in Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project is in remembrance of the Canadian women who stepped forward during World War I to support the war effort both at home and abroad.  They not only filled the labor force vacancies left by the men that went to war, but also as nurses at the battle lines.  In fairness, Canada awarded women the right to vote in 1917 for the services they provided.

Our foremothers in the United States were no less patriotic, yet they were still denied the right to vote.

WWI ranks highly among the most deadly conflicts in U.S. history.  We suffered a casualty list of 323,155 during the 19 months that constituted our involvement in WWI.  The need for trained nurses was great.

Anticipating the possibility of war, the American Red Cross Nursing Service was organized in 1901 by Jane Arminda Delano, a professional nurse who also possessed outstanding administrative skills.  Jane Delano created the service by uniting the American Nursing Association, the Army Nurse Corp, and the American Red Cross.

Jane Arminda Delano, 1862-1919WWI Nursing poster by Howard Chandler ChristyAnd I Was Talking About What?

I nearly always get derailed by WWI posters, the propaganda and iconography are so compelling.  My first experience with this art form was during a visit to the National WWI Museum at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri; a recruiting poster by Fred Spear that shamelessly depicted innocent victims of the torpedoing of the R.M.S. Lusitania on 7 May, 1915.  Simple, yet effective.

lusitaniaThe American public did not want to become involved in a war in Europe, but propaganda posters, a popular method to attract attention and fire patriotism, were soon being seen across the nation.  James Montgomery Flagg, one of the first great propaganda artists, was commissioned to wake America up with a bugle cry for Liberty.

wakeupAnd our government wasn’t kidding about every man, woman, and child.  J.C. Leyendecker, known for his Arrow© collar and shirt illustrations, depicted a young Boy Scout arming a warrior-like Lady Liberty with sword and shield.

USA Bonds - Boy Scouts of America by J.C. Leyndecker.  Photo credit Library of CongressDon’t make the mistake that sex sells was an invention dreamed up by ad men of the television era, it’s been around a long, long, long time.  Howard Chandler Christy, a combat artist during the Spanish-American War, figured if the lure of action, adventure, and heroism in the recruitment posters didn’t float the boats of red-blooded American men, there was a good chance that the pretty girl next door just might do the trick.

Howard Chandler ChristyChristy devised a backup strategy as well… if sex didn’t sell, a pretty girl casting aspersions on American Manhood – Be A Man And Do It – was certain to compel the most craven of stragglers to the recruitment stations.

WWI poster by Howard Chandler ChristyWomen provided additional services to the war effort aside from being used as a reminder to the boys why they should fight.  With approximately 17,000 casualties per month, female nurses, ambulance drivers, clerks, and switchboard operators freed their male counterparts to fight.  Would you like some numbers?

America provided 21,480 U.S. Army nurses, all women, who served on the home front and abroad.  More than 400 of these nurses died in the line of duty.

The U.S. Army Quartermaster’s Service employed 283 bilingual women as telephone operators and stenographers.

13,000 American women enlisted in the Navy and Marines.  305 women served as Marine Reservists in a clerical capacity, while the yeoman recruits served as couriers, draftsmen, fingerprint experts, masters-at-arms, mess attendants, paymasters, recruiters, switchboard operators, and translators.  They received the identical pay, $28.75 per month, as their male counterparts and were treated as veterans after the Armistice.

Need more specific information?  Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first active-duty U.S. woman in a non-nurse occupation when she enlisted 17 March, 1917.  Walsh became the first woman U.S. Navy Petty Officer when she was sworn in as Chief Yeoman, 21 March, 1917.

Charles Dana Gibson and Clarence F. Underwood were recruited to create posters that helped fuel the the drive for volunteers and funding.

American Field Service by Charles Dana Gibson.  Photo credit Library of CongressBack Our Girls Over There by Clarence F. Underwood. Photo credit Library of CongressOn the home front, a women’s organization called The Woman’s Land Army of America employed over 15,000 women, many college educated, to replace farmers called up by the U.S. military.  A number of well known illustrators and artists provided propaganda posters for the Woman’s Land Army of America, including the man who became known as the the father of the American poster, Edward Penfield.

The Girl On The Land by Edward Penfield. Photo credit Library of CongressThe Woman's Land Army of America by Herbert Andrew Paus. Photo credit Library of CongressDid You Think That I was Off-Topic?

Canada may have seen the logic of enfranchising women who, in peace and in war, did so much for their country.  The United States, however, continued to ignore the lengths that American women were willing to go in service of their homeland.  American women waited 22 months after the Armistice before the 19th Amendment was ratified by Congress on 18 August, 1920.

Fair Play Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

Considering The Value Of Time

old clockWhy can’t there be just a few more hours in the day?  And how many hours, exactly, would be helpful?

Four hours for openers, although I could maybe be negotiated down to two.  So many things that I need to do, or rather, want to do, and there just isn’t time enough to get those coveted check marks.

For instance: where do I find the time to build a working trebuchet in the north pasture?  The way I see it, time spent daydreaming is never wasted, and I can’t tell you how much time I’ve happily allocated to the idea of chunkin’ something – a pumpkin, a piano, a Mazda, anything really that’s not bolted down – as far south as possible.

If I’m lucky, and the wind is just right, maybe I could fling something over the south pasture, across the road, smack-dab into my neighbor’s field.  Now that would be really something – and for those of you in the know, you’ll understand when I say that a perfect pitch into that field would include something along the lines of a dead and mouldering cow.  There are a couple of snags to this pie in the sky idea… where to find an aged to perfection dead cow, and who can I co-opt to handle said carcass?

Never mind.  Messy.

Only two weeks left in the Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project.  I’ve been working on getting setting squares made and borders finalized.  I’d be a lot closer to finishing on time if I only had more… time.

Also, it’s past time to bring this record up to date.  From the top, reading left to right, the blocks are: Star of Hope, Cats & Mice, Childless Wife, Gentleman’s Fancy, Barrister’s Block, and Heroine’s Crown.

mosaic721Imagine me patting myself on the back – I’ve stayed with the program (mostly) and haven’t taken too many liberties with Barbara Brackman’s blocks… sort of.

This project will wrap shortly, maybe then I’ll have the time to begin working on a trebuchet.  As for the payload?  I’ll find the time somewhere to fully consider aerodynamics.

Trebuchet at Caerlaverock Castle

No Wheels? Go By Horse, Of Course.

I’m sitting here at the computer, trying to decide if I should get up and go outside for a little rain dancing.  It’s either that or break out the garden hose and start watering.  We do have an 80% chance of rain this afternoon, and while the sky is overcast – in an on-again/off-again way – I’m thinking that maybe our local meteorologist declared the Happy Hour open just a little bit early today. His prediction doesn’t seem to be based on hard science.

Speaking of happy, my inbox has been a very happy place to be this week.  Cousins have been sharing some very cool family photos, and I’m finally getting around to posting some of them.  (I know what you’re thinking and it’s nothing that I haven’t said to myself… slacker.)

Louise Saucier O’Donnell

First up is a photo from a Thomas cousin.  The photo is labeled, “Bernard, Don, and myself in front of our house in East St. Louis”.  On the back of the photograph, “Aunt Lulu” is written.

Aunt Louise Bernard and Don

Bernard and Don Saucier were Aunt Lulu’s nephews, sons of a younger brother, Eugene Field Saucier.  Bernard was born 17 December, 1915 and Donald was born 23 September, 1917.  Best guess on a date for the photo would be the early 1920s, which would have made Aunt Lulu forty-something – some twenty years or so after the Saucier Family photo was taken.

The information I have on Louise “Lulu” Saucier, is a little hazy: born 25 November, 1880, died 19 March, 1956 in an automobile accident at Times Beach, Missouri.  Aunt Lulu married Thomas O’Donnell, had a large family, and was a long time resident of East St. Louis, Illinois.

I’ve compared this photo of Aunt Lulu to the Saucier Family photo, and I do have a couple of likely looking suspects picked out, with a strong first choice.  That straight nose and determined jawline are very distinctive.  Anyone else care to make a guess?  Leave a comment, or drop me an email.

Eugene Field Saucier

The next two photos came courtesy of a Cardwell cousin, both are photos of Eugene Field Saucier.  Please note that in the first photo, there is equipment hanging on the saddle horn, so Uncle Gene wasn’t out for a leisurely ride in the country.

Uncle Gene Saucier on horseMy dad used to tell stories about his uncles, the Saucier Boys, and how crazy they were for the game of baseball.  I’m pleased to say that I can move the stories from the family legend column, to the fact column.  The next photo shows Uncle Gene, again on horseback, on his way to or from a baseball game, and in uniform.

unclegeneinbaseballuniformCan anyone identify that second man?  He has the deep-set eyes, and a certain look about him suggests, to me anyway, that he is family.  But who?

Francis Field Saucier

If baseball is mentioned at one of our family gatherings, the conversation will soon turn to Frank Saucier, Uncle Stumy’s (Alexander’s) youngest son… but I’ll save that cousin for a future post.

Frank Saucier[Edit.: The rain is pouring down!  Mea culpa for those earlier bad thoughts I directed towards our terrifically smart weatherman – he’s an absolute genius.]

A Promise Is A Promise Is A Promise

June has blown right by with little thought on my part for anything in the way of regular posts.  The only excuse I can provide for the chirping of electronic crickets at this end was the unusual weather we’ve been enjoying here in SW Oklahoma.  We have certainly seen the mercury rise, eleven days over 100° so far (37.7° Celsius for my metric using friends), but other than those few days, when all I wanted to do was to hunker down and ride out the heat, it really has been a balmy spring.  Now my definition of balmy may differ somewhat from yours, but trust me on this one, it’s been a season worth remembering.

Weeks ago I mentioned the existence of a key to the much celebrated Saucier Family photograph.  Both photo and key were generously contributed by Glen Cowan, but time has unfortunately gone into overdrive since I made that promise.  At last, today is the day for the unveiling.

Here’s the photo once again, this time accompanied by the key that was provided by Aunt Mabel’s daughter, Mary Virginia “Ginny” Cowan Wahl (b. 17 June, 1922 – d. 12 September, 2011).  Aunt Mabel is seated in the bottom row, third from the left.

saucier_familysaucier_family_photo_keyGo ahead and click on the image for a larger view – as you will see, there are question marks and omissions in the key.  One glaring error is the line, “Grandfather Saucier… died two years after picture”.  It is known that Eugene F. Saucier died in 1913, so the supposition that this photo was taken in 1911 is, I think, slightly off-base due to the ages of the identified children.

At the same time there are a few tasty tidbits included that give us a glimpse of the people we came from:  great grandfather Eugene F. played the violin, his father played the organ at the Old Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri.  Stumy lived for nearly 100 years – a jaw-dropping 98 years to be exact – and may have played the fiddle as well.  Charles was killed in World War I (in the first days of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive); and two of the Saucier boys, Stumy and Wayne, together with a third man by the name of Dan, bought the Old Mill Farm (aka the Twin Springs Farm) and paid it off in a year.  So here’s yet another mystery – who in the world was Dan?

I had hoped, by some incredible stroke of luck, that the mysteries of the Saucier Family photograph would be unraveled by now.  That hasn’t happened, but perhaps the key will kick-start someone’s memories, or simply spur somebody to step forward to help set the record straight.  Stranger things have happened, and the eternal optimist (yours truly) refuses to give up on this particular little pipe dream.

One of the side benefits of this discussion has been the surfacing of family photographs.  I’ll wrap up today’s post with a few of my favorites:

Nana on horseback sidesaddleHere is a photograph of my grandmother, Ida Louise Hoffmann Saucier (b. 23 June, 1888 – d. 14 September, 1963).  Ida married James Garfield Saucier on 16 February, 1909 at Union, Missouri.  James is located top row, far right in the Saucier Family photograph.  And yes, you have my permission to giggle or chortle over the hat that she’s wearing – I do, every single time I see it!

josephinesauciercowanJosephine Saucier who married Eugene Cowan, Sr.,  photographed at her home in Columbia, Missouri (which, by the way, is still standing at 406 Conley Avenue).  Aunt Jo was one of the eight daughters of Eugene F. and Louise A. Saucier.  Unfortunately, Jo does not appear in the Saucier Family photograph.

Lastly, from another of Josephine’s grandchildren, a photograph said to be of a much younger Jo Saucier with an unidentified man.  The photo captures the final moments of a profitable day spent hunting – I spy pheasant, rabbit, possibly raccoon or maybe just a tangle of squirrels, in addition to some unidentified bits and pieces.

Josephine (JoJo) SaucierI’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – thank you, each and every one of you, who’ve made these wonderful photographs of our family available.

Roussin Roundup Bulletin – 1943

Antique Typewriter

In a recent email from a Cowan cousin, the subject of Pelagie Roussin was raised.  While musing on the subject of the black-eyed French girl who caught my great-great grandfather’s fancy, I remembered a bit of buried treasure that I’d tucked away years ago, a Roussin Roundup Bulletin from 1943.

The Roundup was an annual event with the exception of the war years, when gasoline rationing made travel difficult.  The following bulletin was sent out in 1943 by Madelyne Roussin (later Warnhoff), who for many years served as the secretary of the Roussin Family association.  Madelyne faithfully recorded and reported all of the newsy events of the large clan.

This particular bulletin was found in the papers of my aunt, Gladys Saucier Barron, and given to me by one of her daughters some fifty-odd years after its mailing.  Contained within the bulletin are all sorts of interesting snippets of family doings – names, dates and family connections, births, weddings and deaths.  There’s something here for just about everyone… dive in, the water’s fine.

Roussin RoundupRoussin RoundupRoussin Roundup

GREETINGS TO ALL

Another year slips by and no ROUSSIN ROUNDUP.  It is the regret of all concerned, but war imposes many setbacks and disappointments.  As true ROUSSINS, dating back to the original strain, we will take it all in the same stride and hope for better times ahead.  Perhaps another second Sunday in August will see us together again having the happy time known to those who have gathered in the past under the banner of the ROUNDUP.

In the absence of that pleasant occasion we must rely on the annual bulletin to keep us in touch with the clan and its most notable events.  I sent out a memorandum requesting information for this year’s issue and in general the response was good.  But I realize the coverage of news is not complete.  There are, perhaps, as many items missing as there are included in this bulletin for all of which I am very sorry but I’ve done the best I could considering handicaps.

*********************

In the beginning, let me tell you about the very serious illness and operation which our esteemed treasurer, Mrs. Floyd D. Roussin, underwent last November.  She is well and strong again now and, like the rest of us, looking forward to seeing everybody at the next ROUNDUP.  Sickness seems to strike the officers of our organization.  Mrs. Hattie Saucier Pace, our first president, has been physically incapacitated for many months and at this writing is under medical treatment at Mt. St. Rose Sanitorium in St. Louis where Bee Casey, sister of Danny and the late Lawrence Casey, is a nurse.  The two get together often and reminisce about ROUSSIN doings.  On my visit back to Missouri in May I enjoyed seeing our president, Miss Anne Waldbart, who seems in very good health.  And your secretary hasn’t been stricken with anything except Washington, D.C.’s insufferably hot weather.

MARRIAGES

Three weddings have been reported to me, two from the same family.  Mary Louise Whitmire married Robert Earney last year and on Jan. 30, 1943, her sister, Eva Whitmire, and Junior Otten of Union, Mo., were wed.  Both are daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Whitmire of St. Clair, Mo.  Mrs. Whitmire is a daughter of the late Ferninand Roussin whose death was reported in last year’s bulletin.  She will be remembered as the one who baked the ROUNDUP’S third birthday cake.

Chas. T. Roussin, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Grant Roussin of Fletcher, Mo., married Betty Leach of St. Louis, Mo., the 5th of last March.  It’s certain that Cupid was more active than this in a year’s time, but no more weddings were reported to me so that’s that.  I might add that a wedding to be in September is that of Miss June Roussin who will wed a soldier at that time.  Many will recall her pleasant personality at the 1941 ROUNDUP when she with others came from Michigan to attend.

BIRTHS

There are four births to announce, two of them in the same family.  To Capt. and Mrs. Thomas F. Nelson a son, christened Thomas F. II, was born on June 26, 1942, at Jacksonville, Fla.  On July 26, 1943, a little girl was born to this same couple at Tampa, Fla.  Captain Nelson is the oldest child of Mrs. Blanch A. Nelson who is a niece of Henry Roussin, our beloved member from Durand, Michigan.

Maxine Sue made her appearance to take up residence in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Roussin.  This Floyd Roussin is the son of Ben Roussin of De Soto, Mo., and is not to be confused with the Floyd Roussin on whose premises the second ROUNDUP was held.

A son was born in July this year to Mr. and Mrs. Ben Saucier.  Ben is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Stuma [sic] Saucier of Washington, Mo., and carries the name of his uncle, the Ben Saucier who distinguished himself in the first World War.

DEATHS

Five deaths were reported to me, two of them in the same family.  Richard and David Roussin, twin sons of Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Roussin, died Sept. 8, 1942.  Their father is the son of Ben Roussin of De Soto, Mo.

Our Michigan relatives had sorrow in the passing of Mina Blouin (Cossett) at Traverse City, Mich.  She was Rose Roussin Cossett’s oldest girl who spent all her life with Mina Roussin Blouin in Ludington, Mich.

On Jan. 5, 1943, Ben Roussin lost the wife who had been a faithful companion for many years and the mother of a large family.  Her maiden name was Anna May Maness.  She enjoyed our 1941 ROUNDUP so much and had looked forward to the next one.  Great tribute was paid her with striking simplicity when her son, Amos Roussin, wrote thus to me about her passing, “Dear Mom, we miss her so much.”

Death came May 8, 1943, for Mrs. Cyrus Curtis of Fletcher, Mo., who with her daughter, Mrs. I.H. Asplin, made the ROUNDUP’S acquaintance in 1941.  She was born June 14, 1864, near Richwoods and was the daughter of Etienne and Agatha Thedeau and the granddaughter of Wash Roussin.

THE BOYS UNDER THE COLORS

Hats off to those of our clan serving their country both here and abroad.  Their number is many and their records all splendid.  I wish a copy of this bulletin might be sent to each one of them.  I am retaining some extra copies and if the parents or other relatives of these boys share my wish, they have only to write me and I will see that everyone is furnished with a copy.

Where addresses were supplied me I have given them herein and again I urge readers of the bulletin to select a name or names of boys in the service to write to.  Make your motto “Get Better Acquainted With My Relatives by Writing to the Boys in Service”.  You’ll be killing two birds with one stone since it will not only promote good will among the clan but also help boost the morale of our fighters at the front.

Corporal Glennon Oscar Thedeau, son of Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Thedeau, is an airplane mechanic with the U.S. Army Air Forces and was stationed a year in Newfoundland.  He is now at Micthel [sic] Field, N.Y. with the 20th Anti-Sub Squadron.

Norman Roussin, son of Clyde Roussin and the grandson of Ben Roussin of De Soto, Mo., is in the Navy.  No further details supplied me.

Robert Earney, husband of Mary Louise Whitmire Earney, since last year has been a private in the Army, 376 Infantry, APO 94, Company F, Camp Phillips, Kansas.

Another “in-law” in the service is Patsy Cowan’s husband whose name I do not know.  He is from California and is the son-in-law of Jo Saucier Cowan of Columbia, Missouri.

Pvt. Chas. T. Roussin, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Grant Roussin of Fletcher, Mo., is stationed at Camp Hulen, Texas, where he drives a truck convoy.  He is with Battery C-555, A.A.A. Bn. The Grant Roussin’s also have a grandson in the forces, fighting in North Africa and the Sicilian campaign, but name and address I do not know.

Pvt. Clement Bourisaw, brother of L.A. Bourisaw, 1469 Graham Str., St. Louis, Mo., is with the 127th Infantry, Company “D” somewhere in Australia.  Mail addressed to the brother will reach him.  This also goes for the following two boys.

Pvt. Clement Coleman with an infantry regiment somewhere in Alaska (having seen two years in service) and Pvt. Linnus Coleman who, at only seventeen, enlisted in some branch of the air service and has already made a trip overseas.  Their father is the son of Sarah Roussin Coleman of Richwoods, Mo.

Lt. Chas. B. Pace, son of the ROUNDUP’S ex-president, Mrs. Hattie Saucier Pace, is now serving somewhere in England with the Corps of Engineers.  His brother, Lt. (J.G.) Jack T. Pace, is an instructor in aviation at the Hutchinson, Ks., Naval Air Base.

Mrs. Lawrence Casey has one boy a “blue jacket” and the other in khaki.  Theodore, in Panama, has been promoted to a captain while Frank (Francis) is a Pharmacist first class in the Navy.  He has served his country three years in service and at present is in Australian waters.

Pvt. Stewart Roussin Fischer, son of Mr. and Mrs. C.H. Fischer and nephew of June Roussin, is stationed at Camp Barkeley, Texas, where he is not only a member of the band and orchestrates some of its numbers but has also completed the cooking course at Cadre School.  What that kind of combination turns out to be is beyond my guessing.  His address is 30-454-756 M.N.T.C. [partially obscured] Band, Camp Barkeley, Texas.

Pvt. John T. Reinhold is the son of John Reinhold and the grandson of Lucy Roussin Reinhold.  Many will recall her gracious presence at the 1941 ROUNDUP when she made her first acquaintance with the annual get-together.  Playing the clarinet and winning for himself many medals for his musical ability during school days, it is no wonder Pvt. Reinhold is now a member of the 343 Infantry Band.  APO 450, Camp Howzie [sic], Texas.

Chas. J. Reinhold, son of Charles Reinhold and another grandson of Lucy Roussin Reinhold, has been in the Coast Guard 2 1/2 years and has seen considerable active duty.  His home was at Mobile, Alabama, but address him now U.S.C.G., CPO USP Docks, Algiers, Louisiana.

Edwin Roussin, the grandson of James Monroe Roussin (brother to Lucy Reinhold), is in the Army but his address is not known to me.  His father, Edwin Roussin, died many years ago.

Jack Steffen is somewhere in the Aleutians, caught as he says “in the world’s worst hole in which troops are stationed”.  He doesn’t expect a furlough until the war is over and he’s been in service 4 years next October, three of which have been spent in the Alaska country.  I think here is a lad who would truly appreciate “fan mail”.  Write him in care of his mother, Mrs. Zoe (La Beaume) Steffen, De Soto, Mo.  His brother Paul has more recently entered the armed forces, March 16, 1943, and is stationed at Camp Butner N.C., where he has been promoted to corporal in the Corps of Engineers.

Lt. Nicholas C. Nelson is a regular Navy man on board the U.S.S. Card (aircraft carrier).  He is the youngest child of Mrs. Blanch Roussin Nelson of Gulfport, Fla.  Her other son, Capt. Thomas F. Nelson is in the Medical Corps and operates five days a week in the Station Hospital at Ft. Benning, Georgia.  She also has a son-in-law in the service, Lt. Leslie Haverland,  Commanding Officer of the St. Petersburg Coast Guard – Aides to Navigation Department.  Six years in the Coast Guard, Lt. Haverland takes care of deep water navigation all along Florida’s west coast.  He married Maxine Nelson.

As far as I can ascertain, the ranks of ROUSSIN have only one feminine member in the service.  She is Miss Rosalie Roussin, oldest daughter of Victor Roussin of Grand Junction, Colo.  That makes her my own niece.  Rosalie is a WAC and the last I heard about her she had been selected as one of seven to attend Radio Instruction School at Kansas City.

Others of the clan reported in last year’s bulletin (but about which I received no information for this year’s issue) I jot down here to remind you of their services given to our country and let us remember them all in our prayers that they may return safely to home and loved ones:  Paul Nicholson (Navy); Joe Roussin (Cavalry); Ester Cotoon’s son (Navy); Ernest Wall’s boy; Rhodell Sherk; Wm. E. and Chas. J. Saucier; Richard and Alex Waldbart; Alvin D. Saucier; the Pratt boys; M.M. Saucier; and Bernard Saucier.

It is with deepest regret that the death of Arthur Sanford (Jerry) Higginbotham is announced.  He died July 16, 1943, as a result of multiple burns following enemy action while in the performance of his duties and in the service of his country.  Jerry, Motor Machinist Mate, second class, U.S. Naval Reserve, enlisted last Labor Day and was serving on a minesweeper in the Atlantic when his number “came up”.  The son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Higginbotham of Potosi, Mo., he was 38 years old and though not long in the service covered himself with glory while therein and was buried an honored hero in the waters of the Atlantic.  A faithful attendant of the ROUNDUPS, Jerry will meet with us no more.  But in memory we will pay him homage and remember how great our debt of gratitude to all who lose their lives fighting this war for us.

*********************

In closing I want to voice the hope that another year will find us clear of the present conflict, free to Enjoy another get-together of the ROUSSIN clan.  In saying this I am echoing the wishes of all who communicated with me in helping fix up this bulletin.  Their regret at the war stopping the ROUNDUP is superseded only by their hope that the war itself will soon stop.

Memories of past ROUNDUPS live pleasantly on as witness this report recently written to me by Mrs. Henry Roussin of Durand, Michigan, “We never tire talking about the wonderful reunion and the wonderful people we met while there.  I only wish we could be with you all longer —– to know you better and you to know us.”  In anticipation of the next ROUNDUP she continues, “And believe me, the next ROUSSIN ROUNDUP will find not one but two car loads on their way to be with you.  Surely hope and pray that will be in 1944 with the war all over!”

I’m sure we have many delightful prospects in store for us at the next get-together.  With more of those Michigan cousins attending, we are certain of added interest.  And I’ve scared up a brand new batch of Roussins in Maine.  That shouldn’t be surprising, however, because all Roussins on this side of the Atlantic came from Quebec so that any descendants living in nearby Maine aren’t near as far from the original stomping grounds as those in Missouri where the tribe seems to have thrived in greatest profusion.

As for Roussins across the Atlantic, history records the fact that Joan of Arc stayed with a woman named “Roussin”.  And lately here in Washington I met a French lady recently from Paris who says she knew several Roussins there.  So we are well represented on two continents.  I have heard it frequently expressed among members of our clan that they wish there was some kind of family history compiled so that they could tell who they are kin to and to what extent.  I have been working on something of this order and any family history you may care to send in will be much appreciated and used to good advantage.

Our organization is running low on funds.  No dues were asked last year, so that while we had enough in the treasury left from the 1941 ROUNDUP to meet 1942 expenses, your secretary is advancing the money to cover postage, paper, and printing costs for 1943’s bulletin.  No set dues have ever been prescribed, but as a matter of policy it is generally agreed that at least ten cents per person be looked upon as nominal dues with anybody giving more that wants to.  Dues should be sent to our capable treasurer, Mrs. Floyd D. Roussin, St. Clair, Mo.  She carefully records all receipts and sees that all bills are paid.

*********************

Added notes:  Though not reported to me by the families involved, I have heard through other channels of the marriage last summer of Virgil Nicholson, twin brother of Velma Robinson and both children of Mrs. Laura Roussin Nicholson of Potosi, Missouri, and also of the death of Fred Collins last June.  He was the husband of Myrtle Roussin Collins and was widely known throughout the ranks of the clan for his friendliness and the hospitality extended to all within his home.

A late item on our WAC member, Miss Rosalie Roussin, discloses the fact that she has been assigned a secret code number and presumably has been sent to England or elsewhere outside the continental limits of the United States to handle the radio work for which she was trained at Kansas City.

And now until another year, God bless and keep you all.

Miss Madelyne Roussin, Sec’y,
1320 Valley Place, S.E.,
Washington, D.C.
 

Quick Update: Grandmother’s Choice

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and I’m ready to head outside for a bit of puttering.  We’re getting very close to the finish of the The Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project.  Forty-one blocks are complete, with only eight blocks remaining.

Block Thirty-Nine: Endless Stairs

endlessstairsSubstitution Alert!  The Endless Stairs block really needed a focal print fabric.  Guess what?  That’s right… I don’t have a focal print for this project.  I substituted a pineapple block for what I considered, if truth be told, a complete yawner of a block.

Block Forty: Art Square

artsquareTweaking Alert!  Once again a block that featured a large and plain center patch requiring a focal print.  Instead, I drafted a foundation pattern that gave a little more interest to the center.  Hmm… looking at the completed block, I’m reminded of a variation on the Maltese Cross – don’t ask me where my thoughts were roaming that day.

Block Forty-One: Contrary Wife

contrarywifeI was amazed, a fast block to assemble without a need for substitution or tweakage.  With that said, I’m going to color this project update complete and head outdoors.

Block Thirty-Eight: Nonsense

i’ll get to the block later – crazy woman talking

I was recently nominated for the Liebster Award by antarabesque – the award being a way for blogs with small readerships to expand their visibility and to learn more about the individual bloggers.

Originally, the award recipient was required to answer eleven questions about themselves and nominate eleven more blogs in turn… a global chain letter if you will.  In its most recent incarnation, the requirements for accepting the Liebster have been downgraded, recipients needing to answer and nominate only five in each category.

After much consideration, I’ve decided to accept a semi or half-Liebster, answering the five questions with as much sincerity and soberness as I can muster, which as usual, ain’t much.  As for recommending blogs?  You might explore the list of blogs I follow, most are small (under 200 readers), and really, not all of them are about quilting.

How many jobs have you had and which did you like the most?  My daddy was a traveling man, and I married a traveling man.  As a result, I’ve turned my hand to whatever opportunities were available at the time, some were good some weren’t good.  I think it would be far easier to list the jobs I’ve never held.  I’ve never been: a carny, a personal shopper, an astrologer, an eye bank technician, an accordion mechanic, a venom milker, a mall Santa, or an extreme AC repairman – though I will say that they all sound like interesting career paths in one way or another.

What was your favorite school subject?  Please refer back to traveling man in the previous question.  I attended a grand total of seventeen elementary schools, two junior high schools, and five high schools in assorted southwestern states.  I was far too busy trying to keep my grades up, with little opportunity to favor one subject over another… unless you’ll let me count ditching class to go to the lake as a favorite subject?

What is number one on your bucket list?  Living forever.  That ought to help me accomplish whatever is currently in the #2 position.

What do you wish you had more time for? Harness training my donkeys, reading, getting a check mark for every single item that appears on my to-do list, more reading, building a working trebuchet, and yes, even more reading.

Do you collect anything and if you do, what? This was a tough one to answer, so I did a full tour of the house, compiling data as I went (complete with bullets and footnotes).  The results of my findings are as follows: Apparently I collect Dust Bunnies and Unidentifiable Leftovers.

liebstersoapthe saga continues: the fight for women’s rights

Once upon a time, and not so very long ago, there were an abundance of idiotic theories that described the morbid effects of physical exercise on a woman’s body.  Anything from operating a treadle sewing machine to bicycle and horseback riding (astride) – and walking with any other purpose than a slow meander through one’s garden was frowned upon.  All exercise was considered an unhealthy pastime for a woman, both physically and mentally, and if a woman threw caution to the wind by ignoring this advice, medical pundits of the day were certain that she ran the risk of permanent reproductive damage.

NonsenseNonsense is the name of the block that Barbara Brackman used to remind us of the propaganda and social pressures to which our foremothers were subjected.

the true definition of nonsense: micro quilting

Moving further into the realm of nonsense, here’s what I’ve been up to in the last week, the Itty-Bitty Pinwheels pattern by Primitive Gatherings.  The quilt top finished at 10″ square (25.4 cm) with 1″ blocks.  A wonderful way to use scraps, but not so great in terms of my mental health.

My Itty-Bitty Pinwheel Quilt

Feeling A Wee Bit White Rabbit-ish

Lately, I find that I’m often running behind myself, but this is my big chance to play a little catch up.  Here are blocks thirty-four through thirty seven in the Grandmother’s Choice quilt project, in clockwise order: Coffee Cup, Granny’s Choice, (Not A) Sunbonnet Baby, and Nameless Star.

mosaic

I wasn’t crazy-happy with two of the suggested blocks in the last four weeks – first up, there was the Coffee Cup block, which was a pieced cup and saucer with an appliqued cup handle.  It seemed more mug than cup, so I opted to draft my own applique block instead – a fairly easy fix.

Then there was the Sunbonnet Baby (groan).  My godmother’s mother was either a close friend or perhaps simply a pen pal of Bertha Corbett, creator of the Sunbonnet Baby.  For whatever reason, the two women corresponded, and several of Corbett’s letters were carefully preserved, framed, and proudly displayed on the ‘wall of shame’ in their family room.  Here’s an example of what the letters looked like, the only difference being the content.

Owing to my early, and unavoidable exposure, I managed to develop an overwhelming sense of twee with all things connected with a Sunbonnet Baby (seriously, there was no way to get around seeing the Corbett letters, when all I really wanted to do was watch the Wallace and Ladmo Show on television).  Imagine my dismay when I saw that block thirty-six was an homage to those very same little darlings.  I simply could not go along with that plan.  In the words of Frank Morgan who played the palace guard in The Wizard of Oz, “Not no way!  Not no how!”  Blasphemous as it may seem, I have fairly strong feelings on this subject, as you may have guessed.

The theme of week thirty-six was Testament of Youth, and instead of a Sunbonnet Baby (shudder), I opted for a block designed by Aileen Bullard and published in the Kansas City Star in 1932.  The original block called for yarn ringlets (probably à la Shirley Temple), but yeah, I had to fix that, too.  The block is very cute any way you look at it, but it’s a cuteness that I can live with.

Granny’s Choice was a breeze, and I think that it made up into a really interesting finished block.  I enjoy looking at blocks that suggest a whirly-twirly kind of movement, and the blades in this block certainly do that – I can easily imagine using the Granny’s Choice pattern for an entire quilt.

Nameless Star was a fun block to plan and piece as well.  But… there I was, face-to-face yet again with a large, plain center patch – and so help me, I cannot resist tweaking those large expanses of fabric.  A pinwheel center seemed the proper way to go.

Backtracking for a minute

So who, exactly, were Wallace and Ladmo?  Oh my, what you missed not growing up with that wacky duo.  It was kid TV at it’s best, a program that ran for 35 years (April 1, 1954 to December 29, 1989) on KPHO-TV Channel 5, in Phoenix, Arizona.

The name morphed over the years, beginning with It’s Wallace?, updated later to Wallace & Company, and finally finishing up as The Wallace and Ladmo Show.  No matter which title ran in the opening credits, it became one of the longest running, locally produced children’s television shows earning nine Emmy awards in the process.

I think, perhaps, that I’ll save the full story of Bill Thompson (Wallace) and Ladimir Kwiatkowski (Ladmo) for another day.

Wallace and Ladmo

The Gibson Girl: An American Ideal 1890-1910

nanapa2Time for me to toss another family photograph in the mix, and the only people that I can positively identify are the couple on the left, my grandparents: James Garfield Saucier (b. 16 April 1887) and Ida Louise Hoffmann (b. 23 June 1888).  James and Ida were married 16 February 1909 in Union, Franklin County, Missouri  [Note: Anyone recognizing the three people on the right, please feel free to sing out.]

This photograph, coupled with the Saucier Family photograph in the May 1st post ought to provide enough clues to help date the latter.  To arrive at that destination, we’re going to take a stroll through the women’s department.  You men out there?  Just carry your lady love’s handbag proudly, and bear with me for a few minutes.

Ladies Fashion Circa 1900

A little bit of background: Charles Dana Gibson was an American artist who realized fame and fortune for a series of pen and ink illustrations satirizing the relationships between men and women.  The women in his artwork personified “a composite of thousands of American girls,” and he portrayed the women dressed in the current fashions.  For thirty years, Gibson’s work regularly appeared in Life, Harper’s Weekly, Scribner’s, and Collier’s, and the illustrations became so iconic that the style of the era was named for him – The Gibson Girl.

First Stop: The Beauty Salon  During the Gibson Girl period, a woman’s hair was her crowning glory, and putting your hair up was still considered a rite of passage – a young girl did not put her hair up until she was considered old enough to go out into society.  The typical Gibson Girl wore her hair piled high on her head in a loose pompadour style.

English: Pen and ink drawing of the Gibson Gir...Second Stop:  Lingerie  The S-shaped, or “kangaroo” corset was in vogue.  Nipped waists decidedly got a thumbs up.  Busks, bustles, and crinolines… nix.  The natural silhouette – and I use that term loosely – was finding favor, but in the 1900-1910 era, that look was still a few years off.

Image: Courtesy of Bridges on the Body - bridgesonthebody.com

Image: Courtesy of Jo at Bridges on the Body

We have the hairstyle, and we have the form to hang clothes on, so let’s slide on past the After Six department in our search for daytime fashions.

Final Stop: Ladies Dresses  Frills, flounces, and furbelows were fading into the background while the tailored look took a giant step forward.  An A-line skirt was the order of the day, worn with a shirtwaist that often sported a high-necked collar.

Love in a Garden, Gibson.jpg

In the Saucier Family photograph, I count six shirtwaists in the top row alone, all with high-necked collars – and please note, every woman is wearing her hair up in the Gibson Girl style.

collarsThe following illustration for Arrow Shirts: 1907, was a lucky find.  I stumbled across it while doing some homework on the Gibson Girl, and it stopped me in my tracks.  Take another gander at the photograph above – the young woman on the far right – she’s wearing a tall, stiff collar and a narrow necktie in the manner of menswear.  Then, as now, fashion houses often based their designs on what was seen on city streets, so it really doesn’t surprise me in the least to see this advertisement dated 1907, especially during a period of conservative fashion.

Arrow Collar 1907Let’s Put A Bow On It

saucier_familyI’m very comfortable with the suggested 1902-03 dating of the Saucier Family photo, but I’ve been toying with the idea that it may have been as early as 1901 – not any earlier than that – and here’s why:

jg3I’ve extracted James G. from both photographs.  If we assume that the photo on the left was taken about 1902-03, James would have been fifteen or sixteen years old at the time.  Looks about right – so far, so good.

I’ve also extracted two more “knowns” – Mabel (b. 18 March 1899) and Eugene Field (b. 21 August 1894).  In 1902-03, Aunt Mabel would have been three or four years old, and Uncle Gene would have been eight or nine (still in short pants!).  Taking a second look, Mabel might be as young as two, and Gene as young seven, but no younger than that – so I think 1901 is a viable possibility.  I would not, however, place the photograph any later than 1903.

Which brings me back to the reason I’ve started this conversation… who were those extra women in the Saucier Family photograph?  I’ve provided a little more information for you to chew on, but for now, the ball is back in your court.

May Day – Or In This Case… Mayday

Vacations are very nice.  Unfortunately, at some time I have to admit that it’s past time to return to schedules and the workaday world.

I’ve got a new item on my to-do list (as if the list isn’t long enough already): The Frederick F. and Louise A. Saucier family photograph, circa 1902-03. I’ve spent a fair amount of time staring at the photo for the last few weeks, always referring back to the key that accompanied the photo.  Here’s my problem, I’m seeing a few names with question marks after them, and no. 5 in the top row is omitted completely.

Those of you that don’t know me are wholly unaware that I’ve got a wide streak of stubborn, and a mystery like this photo is guaranteed to bring out the mule in me.

Eugene F. Saucier Family Photograph circa 1902-03It occurred to me that it might be entertaining to make this an interactive sleuthing process, so I’m putting out a call to all the cousins.

Here are the facts: One child from a previous marriage, fifteen children born of this union, one foster daughter.  Seventeen possibles but only fourteen children in the photo.

Below I’ve listed all of the Saucier children in order of their birth.  I’ve marked in red the people I could either positively ID or eliminate altogether.  By the time this photo was taken (1902-03), William would have been in his mid-thirties, long gone from the family hearth, Frederick had died in an accident, and Andrew died as an infant (cholera, or so the story goes).  Subtract those three, and we’ve come full circle to the number fourteen again.

William – Married with home of his own
Frederick – Deceased
Gertrude
Andrew – Deceased
Henrietta – Top row, fourth from left
Louise
Alexander – Center row, left
Clara
Anthony
James – Top row, far right
Benjamin
Florence
Josephine
Eugene – Bottom row, left
Charles – Bottom row, far right
Mabel – Bottom row, third from left
Ethel – Bottom row, second from left

So I’m asking for help with this project… mayday.

If you don’t instantly recognize your grandparent, grandaunts, or granduncles in this photo, do you have some old photos tucked away for comparisons?  Pester your brothers and sisters (I pester my sisters mercilessly, one of the perks of being the baby of the family).  Have they seen the photo?  If so, do they remember anything they were told at the time?  I do see one major stumbling block, Clara, who became a Daughter of Charity, no descendants to appeal to.  But if we can ID the other thirteen, all that’s left is Clara – beautiful.

Lastly, I’m not going to post the key, yet.  I don’t want to influence you this early in the game, and logic tells me that if you have a copy of the Saucier Family photo, you probably have a key of your own anyway.

Feel free to comment with your guesses, assumptions, or “I was told” stories.  If you’d like to chat privately, for whatever reason, just leave a comment saying ’email me’, and I’ll do just that.

Color me anticipating your input.

Block Thirty-Three: Not-So-Contrary Husband

contraryhusbandActually, the name of this week’s block is Contrary Husband, and Barbara Brackman selected this block to remind us that not so long ago, it didn’t matter how rotten a man was, if you married him, you were stuck.

Any property you brought to the marriage became his.  Money?  You guessed it, his.  Land?  His.  If you had children with him and decided to leave him?  Yeah, he got the offspring, too.  What if he beat you?  That was your tough luck, because your family and society in general were just as likely to turn a blind eye to his execrable behavior as well your bruises and broken bones.  Divorce you say?  That wasn’t happening either.  The callous old saying, “you made your bed, now lie in it,” seems so much more cruel used in this context.

I’m in such a good mood, I believe that I’ll pull a Scarlett O’Hara regarding this week’s block topic – I’ll think about it tomorrow.  We’re on vacation this week and we’ve been having some high times around the home place.  I’ve had the opportunity to get some flower beds cleaned out and seeded, and the dogs are enjoying the extra freedom.  The donkeys are ready to get shed of their winter coats – it’s amazing how long they’ll stand still when I have a brush in my hand – and one of the two people that live here has been battling the epic number of tumbleweeds dropped on our place by the last few windstorms (psst… it hasn’t been me).

Barbara Brackman Grandmother's Choice Contrary Husband Template

Ms. Brackman’s pattern called for a solid square in the center, but I couldn’t leave it there.  That large center patch was crying out for me to be contrary and add my own touch… why not?

The Great War, A Biplane, & Damson Plums

Ben Saucier Ree Heights South Dakota 1920

The following is the transcription of a letter written by my granduncle, Benjamin Harrison Saucier – that’s Ben in the photograph above – addressed to his younger sister, Josephine (Saucier) Cowan.  The letter came to me through a Howell cousin, who was also the source of the bios written by Henrietta (Saucier) Pace.

Dear Jo,

Yes, I hear from you from time to time but not as often as I’d like, so get on the job and show your class – Am writing this in a greenhouse that is attached to a chateau that’s surrounded by the most beautiful grounds you ever saw.  We are in a small village 6 or 8 miles from Nancy and about the same distance from St. Nicolas – both good towns.  

With the possible exception of the day I was born, yesterday was possibly the biggest day of my life.  Two of my corporals & myself were strolling around a little and wandered over to the aviation field – going down I remarked that all I needed was to take a fly over Nancy.  They ran out a light bombing plane and one of the assistants asked – Who’s going along.  I said – “I am” first, so we soared for awhile — He started straight for Nancy and reached it at an elevation of 5000 feet.  The view was something that I shall not soon forget.  

We circled over the city rising to 8000 feet in doing it, then went out in the country.  It seemed more like a dream than anything I’ve ever experienced – We went to 11,000 feet high and came back over Nancy at that height at a speed of 96 per.  Could only see the earth then in spots for the sky was cloudy & the clouds were all below us.  

The only thing I regret is that I did not enlist in that branch.  It’s too late now to think of transferring.  We were up for about an hour and I wouldn’t exchange it for any other hour I ever spent.  It sure was great – The clouds as seen from above with patches of mother earth here and the mountains in the distance etc. etc. is the most wonderful picture I’ve ever seen.

We came back from the front lines again a few days ago and will most likely be back for a month or 6 wks.  We are altogether yet and feeling fine. – We are out of the mountains – in a beautiful rolling country almost level and for a change it looks pretty good.

There are worlds of damson plums in this vicinity.  I wish you might see this country – Pass this on to some of the rest for I’ve neither time nor stationery to write to all – been writing to Mother at Stanton today — Haven’t seen anything of Eugene’s bro. yet.  Would like to run across him.  Write – Good luck & lots of it to both of you —

Ben — Cack is right with me & is ok.

Sleuthing: It’s Not Just For Hard-Boiled Detectives

Many happy hours I’ve spent daydreaming while reading this letter.  Besides the letter being a cherished piece of family history, I’ve often wondered what kind of impact it may have had on my father, who later became a pilot.  Dad would have been eight years old at the time this was written, and it’s easy for me to imagine the family gathered to hear Uncle Ben’s letter from France being read.

What’s hard for me to believe is that this letter has been on my ‘to-do’ list for well over a decade – funny how time gets away from you.  My goal was to date it as closely as I could with something other than “Sometime during WWI: April 1917-November 1918”.

I was recently provided with a new clue from a Cowan cousin that rekindled my interest in the letter.  That one item, along with the clues supplied in the body of the letter itself have allowed me to narrow down the date considerably.

the clue

For a dove of long standing, I find it just a little embarrassing to admit to an interest in military history, but it helps that I’m aided and abetted by a husband who shares that interest.  Sifting through source material is an engaging pastime for us – so here’s hoping that you don’t find the journey a dry one.

Look Out… This May Be Your MEGO Moment

Shoulder Insignia of th 35th "Santa Fe" Division, WWIBenjamin and his brother Charles ended up in the 138th Infantry, Company E of the 35th “Santa Fe” Division made up of National Guardsmen and draftees from the states of Missouri and Kansas.  They trained for over seven months at Camp Doniphan near Fort Sill, Oklahoma (which by the way, is located less than fifty miles from my back door).

Those seven months must’ve been eye-openers for a couple of farm boys hailing from a green and ‘water fat’ state, finding themselves just a stone’s throw from the 100th Meridian, the onset of the great American desert (only about sixty miles from my front door).

As mind boggling as southwestern Oklahoma may have been to them, the pair probably had little time to gape – the infantrymen of the 35th were drilled intensively by British and French instructors in the use of bayonet, hand grenades, and gas masks.

I’ve provided a few online sources below that you may find interesting, but what it boils down to is this: the 35th division was mobilized, leaving Camp Doniphan in late winter, 1918.  They were moved to the east coast by train, embarking from New York Harbor arriving at LeHavre, France May 10, 1918.  The infantry received additional training in Amiens until June 6, 1918.  Then traveling by rail – 40 men and 8 horses per boxcar – the destination was the Wesserling sub-sector on the Western Front in the Vosges Mountains where they remained through mid-August.  On September 1st, the 35th moved forward to St. Mihiel where they fought their first battle.  Between September 12th-16th, the American Expeditionary Forces liberated the town of Nancy and the 35th bivouacked in the Foret de Haye just a few miles west of town.  The Meuse-Argonne Offensive began September 26, 1918 lasting until the Armistice, November 11, 1918.

The 35th Division collapsed after five days of fighting in the Battle of the Argonne, which has been described as the greatest battle in the history of the American military.  In little more than four months, the division casualty list totaled 7,296 (killed in action – 1,018; wounded in action – 6,278).

It saddens me when I think of Ben’s last line: Cack is right with me & is ok… less than two weeks later, Cack was killed in action.

Charles Clide (Cack) Saucier born April 6, 1895 in Sullivan, Franklin County, Missouri – died September 27, 1918, age 23, in the Argonne Forest during the second day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

Chas_Saucier Headstone App

Sources:
United States, Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 (p. 191-2)
The 35th Infantry Division in the Great War
The Diary of a Doughboy
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive
From Vauquois Hill to Exermont by Clair Kenamore

Blocks Thirty-One And Thirty-Two

What, another twofer?  Yes – seeing as how two weeks ago my iron did a full gainer off the ironing board (long story having to do with my bigoldfatone).  That one event put a halt to all things quilt related, and it took so stinkin’ long for the replacement dry iron to arrive.  Methinks the vendor made a tidy little profit on shipping costs judging by the length of time it took to get here vs. the $$ I paid.

Block Thirty-One: Tinted Chains

The title Tinted Chains, refers to the circumscribed lives of women who were bound to husbands, families, and homes; chattel, denied the right to voice an opinion at the polls.

I pulled in a new fabric, a medium gold plaid, to replace the orange fabric that I 86ed.  No matter how hard I coaxed, the orange just wouldn’t play nice.  I probably spent more time auditioning fabrics for the Tinted Chains block than it took to make, but I do admire the finished piece.

Tinted Chain Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

Block Thirty-Two: Mr. Roosevelt’s Necktie

The block is called Mr. Roosevelt’s Necktie in reference to the Bull Moose (Progressive) Party’s use of the women’s suffrage plank in the failed 1908 presidential race.

Is it a necktie?  Or is it a doggy treat?  My first impression of this pattern was a dog bone – try as I might, I can’t get that image out of my head.  I’m all about the more traditional bow tie pattern, and I admit that I’ve reached the point where I actually kind of enjoy Y-seams, but I don’t mind adding a variation to my pattern book.

Mr. Roosevelt's Necktie Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

Much can be done by law towards putting women on a footing of complete and entire equal rights with man – including the right to vote, the right to hold and use property, and the right to enter any profession she desires on the same terms as the man… Women should have free access to every field of labor which they care to enter, and when their work is as valuable as that of a man it should be paid as highly.  Theodore Roosevelt, 1913

Froggy Went A-Courtin’

I’m in the mood this evening for old folk songs.

I like to say that I grew up in a car, and that’s really not very far from the truth.  My family crisscrossed the American southwest when I was young and we nearly always went by car.  My very first memory of a car was our family Nash Rambler.

Over the years, as both our family and the concept of American transportation changed, the family “beater” changed with us; we eventually graduated to a full-size Country Squire station wagon.  But before we acquired that behemoth, I can remember times when my sisters would stuff me up into the rear deck of the sedan so they could ride more comfortably in the back seat.  (Note: seat belts were not in common use at this time)

In those days AM radio was king.  This was long before the FM band came standard in a car, and the music and chatter would fade in and out as you traveled along the highways.  After sunset was the best.  It was then when many of the AM stations would boost their signals and you’d be able to hold a station far into the night.

SaucierOccasionally there would be times when we couldn’t find a station at all.  At these times my dad would chime in, keeping all of us kids quiet by singing old folk songs in a very acceptable baritone.  Froggy Went A-Courtin’ was definitely the front runner, with The Crawdad Song and Bill Grogan’s Goat finishing in the money.

Personally, I always favored the latter (nothing like a little blood and gore to get, and keep, a child’s attention).

I don’t know why I started thinking about those songs tonight.  All I really wanted to do here was to let you know that I’ve got the final part of Henrietta’s Story posted.  I won’t say that this is the last of Aunt Hattie’s stories, new items turn up from time to time, plus I’m constantly surprised by things that I’ve squirreled away and forgotten.  For now at least, you can find the latest segment here, Henrietta’s Story: Part Three.

Block Thirty: Broad Arrow

Okay, fun subject today… let’s talk about prison uniforms, those items of clothing that were designed with a two-fold purpose: as a mark of shame and to make escape and avoiding recapture difficult.  (yippee-skippy)

Great Britain once used the Broad Arrow symbol, either stenciled or sewn onto clothing, to mark a person as a convicted criminal.  Here in the United States, stripes were the usual mark of a convict.

Either way the uniforms were decorated – arrows or stripes – they instantly shouted ‘prisoner’ to anyone that saw them.  So how does this relate to last week’s block in the Grandmother’s Choice quilt project?

In Great Britain, as here in the US, many suffragettes were willing to risk imprisonment to draw attention to the movement.  Once released from the prisons or workhouses, the members of the Women’s Social and Political Union turned the Broad Arrow into a badge of distinction, proudly wearing replicas of their uniforms in public displays to draw even more attention to the fight for women’s rights.

Mrs. Pankhurst and Christabel Pankhurst in prison dressWhen deciding on fabrics for my Broad Arrow block, I wanted to include a stripe as a nod to the women in the United States who used the same strategy – demonstrations utilizing passive resistance that resulted in arrest, conviction, and imprisonment to promote public awareness of their demand for the right to vote.  (oops… the queen of run-on sentences strikes again)

Broad Arrow Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

Take us home Mr. Sulu.  Full impulse power…

In other words, I’m going to make a sharp left turn away from reality and let you have another peek at the way my brain works.

Whenever I ponder prison stripes – and I don’t really ponder them too often, but when I do – my thoughts often wander over to memories of Krazy Kat, a comic strip created by George Herriman, that ran as a daily from 1913-1944.  Ahem… that was before my time, but my thanks go out to the many devotees who kept the strip alive until I could stumble across it.

The strip took place in Coconino County, Arizona, and the storyline revolved around a love triangle between Krazy Kat, a mindlessly happy creature who absolutely adored one Ignatz Mouse, and Offissa Pupp.. who was patently ignored.

Ignatz absolutely despised the naively curious Krazy Kat, and the one joy in his life was to “Krease that Kat’s bean with a brick.”  Krazy Kat always misinterpreted the brick bombings as a sign of Ignatz’ love.

Krazy Kat at Wikipedia

Meanwhile, Offissa Pupp – the Limb of Law and the Arm of Order – was always on the lookout for a chance to nab Ignatz and toss him in the pokey.  The strip would often end with Krazy disconsolate and alone, muttering, “Ah, there him is playing tag with Offissa Pupp, just like the boom compenions wot they is,” and Krazy Kat, the poetic clown, is left pining for her “L’il Ainjil.”

Of course the strip had many other wonderful characters that popped up here and there:  Mrs. Kwakk Wakk and Bum Bill Bee, Don Kiyote (an aristocratic coyote) and Walter Cephus Austrige, just to name a few.  But I know what you’re thinking… how much fun could it be reading about a perpetual victim of abuse where everyone uses an idiomatic vocabulary?  Lots.  You always knew how the strip was going to end – love always finds a way – and the joy, as in many things, is in the journey.

To our softhearted altruist, she is the adorably helpless incarnation of saintliness. To our hardhearted egoist, she is the puzzlingly indestructible embodiment of idiocy. The benevolent overdog sees her as an inspired weakling. The malevolent undermouse views her as a born target. Meanwhile Krazy Kat, through this double misunderstanding, fulfills her joyous destiny. — e.e. cummings

If you’ve never before heard of Krazy Kat there are several books out there that celebrate the comic art of George Herriman.  Who knows, you might just enjoy the antics of Krazy, Ignatz and Pupp as much as I did do.  Here are some other sources you might find interesting:

Krazy Kat (overview at Wikipedia)

The Comic Strip Library

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Block Twenty-Nine: Australia’s Star

A seven-pointed star for Australia.  You figure out the geometry on this block, I can’t, it’s well beyond my poor math skills.

Australia Barbara Brackman Grandmother's Choice Fight For Women's Rights

This is version two – my first try ended up in the trashcan accompanied by a stream of invectives you’d do well not to even try to imagine.  I’m sure that a few choice words are still lingering in the sewing room, there’s a cloud shape hovering up near the ceiling, violet streaked with black.  Occasionally a rogue syllable comes tearing out of the cloud, goes bouncing off the walls, and just generally has fun hearing its own sly echo (insert gremlin-type cackle here)… oh the shame.

I’m glad I gave the block a shot – two shots to be precise – but I’m happier still that the block is complete.

Block Twenty-Eight: Ocean Wave

Ocean Wave Barbara Brackman Grandmother's Choice Fight For Women's RightsThere isn’t a lot that I can say about this block.  Out of all of the blocks we’ve completed so far, I can easily say this one is my least favorite.  It was a super easy block to do, and maybe that has something to do with my apathy.

I may have to break down and rummage through old quilt books and patterns for a substitute, though I’d prefer not do that.  A little voice… er… my own particular form of logic suggests that there’s no way of knowing what Ms. B has in store for us in the next twenty-one weeks and I’d surely hate to duplicate a block.  I think I’ll leave it for now and try not to look at it much (so shut up little voice in my head, okay?).

I’ve finished the Easy Street top, and of course it was misting the day that I had the time to photograph it.  I will, however, get that done this week – pronto.  I’m so ready to get back to work on several other projects that are pending, but that’s not news.  What quilter doesn’t work on multiple projects simultaneously?

Since Easy Street is off the design wall, I put up the Grandmother’s Choice in its place.  Bad news: I’ve scotched the orange fabric, it just wasn’t cooperating as I’d planned.  I’m now in the process of re-working seven blocks that had orange in them.  Not a lot, true, but so many of them have Y-seams, it may take me a bit to wade through the stack.

But not this evening.  The sun is over the yardarm an hour earlier today (Spring Forward – yesss!), so I think, perhaps, that I’ll declare the cocktail hour officially open.

Tumbleweed Or Russian Thistle?

Trust me, it’s not a “Ginger or Maryann?” kind of question.  There’s a third alternative, some folks just a stone’s throw south of us call them Texas Tribbles.

I’m a roaming cowboy riding all day long,
Tumbleweeds around me sing their lonely song.
Nights underneath the prairie moon,
I ride along and sing this tune.

In case you young’uns don’t recognize the lyrics, that’s the opening stanza from a Sons Of The Pioneers classic.

You may or may not recall a passing remark I made a few weeks ago about a fair breeze blowing and how it was a good opportunity to toss out a few tumbleweeds to let them move on down the road.  I think I also mentioned that as soon as the wind turned, they’d probably be back.

Well, the wind turned, and they’re back, and they brought friends.

When I went out to the truck this morning, I got the impression that all of the tumbleweeds in the county came over for a party last night, passed out, and never left.

We had 50 mph (80.47 kph) winds yesterday evening.  Not a hugely big wind, we see wind speeds like that on a regular basis – not bragging, it’s just a fact of life in this corner of Oklahoma (the land is very flat out here you know).  But I have to say that it was an odd, swirly kind of wind that caromed off the eaves of the roof, hooted down the chimney, and apparently made it easy for the tumbleweeds to go airborne.

Hotie & PepperThe donkeys don’t look too happy.  It could be because of all of the tumbleweeds cluttering up their pasture, or it could be they’re hoping that tonight is the night for a ration of sweet feed.  I know for a fact that there’s a fence lurking underneath all of the tumbleweeds piled up just behind them.

paddockIt doesn’t look too awfully bad in this photo, but maybe I’m just setting up for the big finish.

dogsntmbleweedsOur two yellow dogs trying to figure out what happened to the gate.  They used to be able to squeeze right through, but tumbleweeds are terribly prickly, and that makes the gate an uncomfortable proposition.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe boys finally got into the pasture, only to find themselves stymied once again.

weeorchard3Now I know that the last time I was out here there were a couple of peach trees.

[sigh]… Looks like we’ve got our work cut out for us.  There are far too many tumbleweeds to toss into the next high wind, so maybe I should change my name to woman-who-sets-fires?  And maybe that sounded too much like something from a bad Kevin Costner movie, so I’ll come up with an alternative… later.

Block Twenty-Seven: Grandmother’s Dream

Grandmother's Dream Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoicePlease don’t even ask me how many Y-seams are in this block, truthfully, I lost count.  Careful marking and pinning, s-l-o-w machine stitching, and a constant reminder to breathe got the block done.

It seems to me that my version of this block has a bit of the rosary about it.

All Barbara Brackman had to do yesterday morning was mention Caroline Garlinghouse Houghton’s three daughters: Katharine, Edith and Marion, and all thoughts of women’s suffrage fled my fluffy little head.

That was the exact moment when my brain vapor-locked, because I knew that the eldest daughter, Katharine Houghton Hepburn (a suffragist), just happened to be the mother of Katharine Hepburn (of silver screen fame).

I dutifully finished Barbara’s blog, but much as I love writing about the women’s rights movement, I love old movies more, and I absolutely adore Kate.

Yeah, I could have gone for one of the glamour shots, but Kate was so much more than just another pretty face.  On second thought, I don’t think that pretty is an adjective that should be used to describe her… pretty she wasn’t.  Kate was a handsome woman, her angularity was striking.  Her unique looks set her apart from other actresses of her era and was just one more item in her bag of tricks that she used to great advantage.

Of course her movies can make me laugh and they can make me cry, and sometimes I’ll even find myself doing both simultaneously, but Kate was exceptional at involving the watcher – if only vicariously – in an emotional gauntlet.

How about a top five list, done in no particular order?  Trust me, picking only five was tough, because all of her movies are personal favorites.

What’s not to love when Hepburn and Grant are teamed up?  Holiday (1938) is a classic meet-cute with an angle.  Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy meets girl’s eccentric sister.  This was definitely a movie that made me laugh with delight, but if you screen it, keep that box of Kleenex handy.

While watching Alice Adams (1935), I suffered acute embarrassment, the kind where you’d just just as soon melt away, somewhat like the ice cream Alice serves up to impress Arthur Russell (Fred MacMurray).  Spoiler Alert: ice cream was not an outstanding choice for a leisurely dessert in a pre-central air summer heatwave.

I was so embarrassed for Alice that I was tempted to change the channel just so she could have some privacy.

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959): screenplay by Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal (who had an uncredited appearance in the movie).  Oh, and what a supporting cast – Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and the always eerily odd Mercedes McCambridge.  This movie has more dark twists and turns than a roller coaster, and Kate nailed the performance of a cold and calculating woman.   She was the personification of an overprotective, controlling mother, who always managed to turn a blind eye to her only son’s many faults.

The realization of what lengths people can go to when spurred by avarice, even turning against family, absolutely chilled my heart.

Lucky you, I’ve shared two stills from Sylvia Scarlett (1935).  One of Kate as Sylvester…

…the second of Kate as Sylvia, and why yes, that would be Cary Grant costarring again.  [Note: Hepburn and Grant teamed up a total of four times in Sylvia Scarlett, Bringing Up Baby, Holiday and The Philadelphia Story.]

An undercurrent of fear brought on by helping an embezzling father stay one step ahead of the law, a naive first love, and perhaps best of all, a comedic line that dances throughout the movie.

Kate costarred with Burt Lancaster (yowza!) in The Rainmaker (1956).  A snapshot of a  single day in the life of a plain woman who reaches the conclusion that a lonely life stretches ahead of her.  Galled by bitterness when she realizes just how much her father pities her, and with no one to call her own, she sees herself an outsider, locked into a spinster’s limbo.  Lizzie Curry is a woman empty of hope until Bill Starbuck, an outrageously flamboyant flimflam man steps into her life.

Now your mileage may vary when it comes to favorite movies by Kate The Great, and some of you will wonder at the absence of a single Hepburn/Tracy vehicle – even though they teamed up in nine outstanding movies – but a major consideration in my selection process was the thought, if someone had never seen a Hepburn movie, which five would I recommend?

So t-t-that’s all folks, all that’s missing is a fade to black… but I have always favored a big finish whenever possible.

Block Twenty-Six: Ladies’ Wreath

Perhaps my post from earlier this week regarding my great-grandmother was more timely than I knew.  Louise was mother to a step-son, fifteen biological children, and one foster daughter.

By coincidence, this week’s block in the Fight For Women’s Rights quilt project is Ladies’ Wreath, in remembrance of all the women who destroyed their health, or worse, died, by overburdening their bodies through childbirth.

Ladies' Wreath Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

It was called the social purity movement

In the late 1800’s a form of thinking took root in middle-class American and European homes.  A movement was born that became known as the social purity movement (social was a euphemism for sexual).  This movement fought to abolish prostitution, pornography and other immoral sexual practices.  Additionally, the movement sought to outlaw any form of contraception between married, consenting adults.

Here in the US, birth control in whatever form you practiced was legal up until the passage of the social purity movement backed Comstock Act in 1873.  After that point in history, any form of contraception was not only morally but legally condemned.

Here’s a tasty little factoid for you: After the Comstock Laws were passed, it was illegal for a physician to discuss birth control or even suggest contraceptives to a patient.

And Then Margaret Sanger Stepped Forward

Birth control in the early to mid-20th century was still a risky proposition, but a few drug stores sold condoms as “rubber goods” and diaphragms as “womb supporters”.  Pamphlets were discretely passed around, but a few radicals, free speechers, bohemians, libertarians and utopians among whom Margaret Sanger numbered herself, took a stronger approach as demonstrated in this 1926 advertisement:

1926 US advertisement. "Birth Control"

Beginning in 1916, Sanger not only wrote and openly published periodicals discussing birth control, but founded birth control clinics, which inevitably led to her arrest, conviction, and imprisonment in a workhouse for distributing information on contraceptives. Sanger continued to openly campaign against the Comstock Laws, which she felt contributed to premature death in women and the dangerous practice of self-induced and back-alley abortions.

Major changes were effected less than fifty years ago when in 1965 the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the government to prohibit a married couple from practicing birth control.

Margaret Sanger died in 1966, but she lived to see the Comstock Laws abolished, safe contraceptives made available, and a small portion of women’s personal rights restored.

Small progress, I know, but there is still the fight for women’s rights going on, world-wide, and we’re still swinging away.

Note: If you’re money minded, contraceptive use saves almost $19 billion US in direct medical costs each year.

Sources that I found interesting:

Ladies’ Wreath

Margaret Sanger

Birth Control In The United States

Comstock Laws

Social Purity Movement

Block Twenty-Five: Carrie Nation

Carry Nation, 1910.

We’re just past the halfway mark in this quilt project; twenty-five down, twenty-four to go.

According to Barbara Brackman, this is a Kansas City Star pattern from 1940 celebrating Carrie Nation, who was known for her radical and militant actions against the use of alcohol.

Was Carrie Nation a genius working for the temperance movement, or simply a lionized psychopath?  Hard to say since we can’t get inside Carrie’s head, but looking at the photo at left, I’m leaning towards the latter.  If I met this woman in public, I’d probably be tempted to cross to the other side of the street to avoid her – she frightens me in a Stephen King kind of way, definitely not a person I’d want to bump into during an alcohol fueled free-for-all.  Maybe it’s the hatchet.

A super easy block this week, and the patches were small enough that I was able to use scraps that I scrounged from my itty-bitty pieces pile.  Scraps don’t leave much room for fussy cuts, but the way I see it, those little orts cost just as much per yard as the large piece of fabric did, so why not save ’em and use ’em.  Isn’t this part of the quilter’s ethos?  If not, it should be.

Carrie Nation Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

The 4-patches remind me that I still have a nearly complete Easy Street top on the design board (as if I could forget).  Have I mentioned that there are one hundred and ninety-two 4-patches in Bonnie Hunter’s quilt?  Indeed there are.  I need to take one final look at block placement, then wrap that project up and move on, it’s time.

Speaking of moving on, color me out of here – my sewing machine is singing its siren song again.

Block Twenty-Four: True Blue

I’ll try very hard to keep a lid on things today.  Barbara Brackman’s latest block, True Blue, recalls the term bluestocking which was applied to women (and men) of the 18th century.  Specifically, women that formed literary clubs.

Bluestocking (noun): a woman having intellectual or literary interests.  — Merriam-Webster

And we all know what happens when you educate a woman, they invariably begin to form opinions and get ideas of their own.  Ideas bigger than what’s for supper.  Bigger even than whether or not in their opinion broccoli is superior to green beans.  Next thing you know, they’ll want to discuss more than books or poems, they may actually become knowledgeable about finances and politics… my, my, my.

True Blue Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceI did promise to keep a lid on it, didn’t I?  Oh, well.

Today’s block was a super easy block to complete, and a good thing for me that it was.  Another member of our Flickr group sent up a red flag on the instructions.  The block finished over-sized instead of at 8 1/2 inches (sigh).  So, it was a pencil, graph paper, and calculator for me this morning.

More distressing news, I’ve caught the bug – the Downton Abbey bug.  I’ve finished season one and began streaming season two today.  At this rate I’ll burn through season three as soon as it’s available on Amazon Prime, and where will that leave me?  Haven’t had to deal with the not-so-patiently-waiting-foot-tapping-is-September-ever-going-to-get-here? kind of anticipation since the Kiefer Sutherland series, 24.

Shucks – I survived eight off-seasons wondering what Jack would do next without turning into some kind of zombie that sits in front of a blank TV screen tearing old magazines into thin strips – I’ll survive this as well.

Block Twenty-Three: Girl’s Joy

Girl's Joy Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceI need to quickly upload my photo and add a very brief narrative of the block which is also called Maiden’s Delight.

I suppose in the dumbing down process of the English language, maiden translates to girl, and delight equals joy – that seems simple enough.

But… once upon a time, I remember sitting in my truck, absolutely dumbstruck, while listening to an NPR program – unbelievable!  Somebody had come up with the bright idea to re-write Little Women by Louisa May Alcott in what they decided was a more user-friendly language.  A language that young girls of the late 20th century could better understand.

My guess is that there were too many words of more than one syllable for this person’s liking.

There was one stand-out idea for reworking Alcott’s book – scrapping Beth’s death scene and starting again from scratch – because what young girl of today would understand the allegory of Beth’s little wild birds flying away?  (I think it was at this point that my jaw dropped.)  Seriously?

I did a kind of hit-and-run internet search and couldn’t find anything except a few Cliff’s Notes versions, so hopefully the author couldn’t find a publishing house to pick up the book.  Either that or the book was published, but it so badly tanked sales-wise, that we’ve been able to erase it from our collective memories.

Thankyoulittlebabyjesus!

I’ll leave you with those semi-snarky thoughts because I’m bound for the barn.  I’m needing a shovel and a few tools – there’s a wee issue with a leaky frost-free hydrant that needs sorting out.  Oh wait, I was going to tell you why today’s block related to my ramblings on Little Women.

Did you know that Louisa May Alcott was a strong supporter of women’s suffrage, and that she was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts?

And lastly – or finally, depending on your point of view – if you’ve not read Little Women, no matter your age, do yourself a favor and read it.  Do your daughters a favor as well, give them your copy when you’re finished – or better yet, read it together.

Headshot of Louisa May Alcott

Here are some Louisa May Alcott sources you might find interesting:

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Wikipedia

Orchard House

Obituary (from the New York Times)

Block Twenty-Two: Jack’s Delight

Jack's Delight Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceNo appliqué or curved piecing this week.  Back to basics with Saturday’s block, with the addition of half-square triangles just to keep things pointedly interesting.  Not nearly as many HSTs as the block called Old Maid’s Ramble from a couple of weeks ago, but there are a fair amount all the same.

Thinking about buzzwords and jargon this morning – the shorthand form of communication between two people who share the same field of interest.

HST, FQ, BOW, UFO, QAL, ripping or frogging… and there are many more.  A quilter can be just as guilty of using abbreviations and buzzwords as a rocket scientist.  Who doesn’t enjoy being able to get a point across quickly with the added attraction of cloaking the subject in mystery?

Still working my way through the Easy Street quilt.  I’ve finally begun joining blocks, but sadly, there won’t be a sneak peek this weekend.  Have I mentioned that at times I can be incredibly optimistic – a regular Pollyanna?  No, really.  It’s true.  I’m at the halfway point, so hang with me.  The wait won’t be very much longer.

There’s a fair breeze blowing this morning and the sun has decided to shine.  I may just whistle up the dogs and go clear tumbleweeds off the fence line.  (Hmm… perhaps I should have written those last two sentences as a couplet.)  Anyway, back on-topic.  We learned our lesson the first winter in Oklahoma, tumbleweeds will push a fence over if you let them pile up.  The breeze will carry them someplace else, although there’s a high probability that they’ll be back again once the winds shift.  At least the fences will be out of danger and our property will be a little more respectable looking for a while.

So what kind of odd jobs do you have piling up that you’d just as soon avoid, but can’t because we’re all supposed to be responsible adults?

Block Twenty-One: Parasol

A guilty pleasure this business of blogging.  All of the things that I could and should be doing – oh well, this is so much more pleasant.  Today is a bank holiday, and in my case, that translates into One Free Play Day.

I could be doing some housework: dusting, vacuuming (meh).  The sun is shining brightly, so I suppose I could even wash a window or two.  Somehow that doesn’t quite fit the definition of a play day either.

I could do a little quilting… but alas, I’m out of thread.  I live in the wilds of southwest Oklahoma, so this is an event of major proportions, nearly epic.  Obtaining an item as simple as a spool of quilting thread may not sound like a big deal to you, but it is.  The nearest spool of thread is 38 miles away (61.155 km for my friends who use the metric system).

Lucky for me I had just enough thread to complete the latest block in the Grandmother’s Choice project.  The block is called Parasol, and it refers to the way that the suffragists turned a completely feminine fashion accessory into a public relations vehicle.

Chrome Yellow And Ivory Accented With Black.

In the early part of the Twentieth Century, parasols or sunshades were still an item very much in use.  The suffragists took advantage of the opportunity to put slogans, invites to suffrage teas, and other announcements on their parasols.  How could you not notice these mobile billboards bobbing down a street or gliding along in an open carriage or car?

Barbara’s block is a very pretty little block, and enough of a challenge to keep me entertained.  I look forward to using this pattern in my second quilt with the Liberty of London fabrics.  The Liberty fabrics are so feminine, and they will be perfect for a dainty parasol.

Barbara Brackman’s Parasol Block

But this week I needed a little more of a challenge, so I started playing ‘what if’ and nearly ended up with more of a challenge than I could handle.

I know that you’ve read how much I abhor handwork, I’ve said it over and over and over.  But yesterday I was completely revved up over an idea that had occurred to me – an idea to use the photo of the suffrage parasol for my block, and a deftly wielded blowtorch couldn’t have kept me from doing this block the way I envisioned it.

I used just a smidgeon of artistic license in converting the photo to a workable block, and now my quilt makes so much more sense.  I think that I’d like to add a bit of Seminole patchwork – one of my favorite piecing techniques – to the outside of this block.  Soon enough, I’ll have a medallion block ready to set into the center of the quilt.

Parasol Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's Choice

Techniques used: Curved paper piecing, hand applique, hand lettering and one french knot.

Block Nineteen & Twenty: Old Maid’s Ramble and Memory Wreath

Oh, the holidays may be over, but here it is mid-January and every time I turn around, it’s somebody’s birthday.  The festivities don’t end on New Year’s Day around my house, but I still manage to squeeze in time to piece.  I’d lose my ever-lovin’ mind if I didn’t block out some time for quilt blocks.

Old Maid's Ramble Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceFirst one off the desktop for show-and-tell is Old Maid’s Ramble.  So many possibilities when playing with fabric placement and so much fun to piece.  I am not, however, fond of trying to press the many layers of fabric in a block this intricate.  Thick seams – phooey!

I’d also like to add that I was given a tripod for Christmas, a huge improvement over the stack of books and cigar boxes of varying, but extremely important widths that I used previously as a camera stand.  I think Santa was afraid to borrow a book out of the permanent stack for fear that I’d never be able to get my old ‘tripod’ exactly right again.

I used the new tripod for the very first time when I shot this block.  The initial thing that I learned (after the fact), is that it really helps to point the camera at the subject.  Funny how that works.  Shooting at less than spot-on straight will make thick seams appear even thicker than in the real world, and will make seams look offset – double phooey!  Can’t complain too much, I’m having a tremendous amount of fun playing with my new toy.

Memory Wreath Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceSecond offering today is Memory Wreath – large pieces, lots of room for fussy cutting, and few opportunities to screw up the shot when tripod time rolled around.

I have to make an admission here – I’ve been taking a break from the Grandmother’s Choice project with a mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter called Easy Street.  I’ll also admit that about halfway through the project, my interest was cooling rapidly.  I was not in love with what I was seeing on my sewing table.

I’ve begun to assemble the blocks and I’m very excited by what I’m seeing on the design board.  This is definitely going to be a flash quilt.  The quilt is made up of two blocks, A & B.  Block A consists of seventy-seven pieces, Block B, only sixty-nine pieces.  Seriously flash.

Hopefully in the next few days – dang, that was my optimistic other personality speaking there – let’s say maybe next week, I’ll have the top complete and will be able to give you a pre-quilting sneak peek.  Actually, I can’t wait to see it myself.

Blocks Seventeen & Eighteen: Mother’s Delight & Cheyenne

I’m caught up.  Did you hear the soft echo of a woohoo a little while ago?  That was me.

Mother's Delight Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceI began this block, Mother’s Delight, last Saturday, but I spent most of the day fussing with fabric placement.   When that happens, I know that it’s going to be a long road until I see the checkered flag – a long and pot-holed road.

So how much of a yawner has this restricted color palette become?  The scrappy quilter in me wants out badly – I just need to push through this wall that I’ve slammed into, and keep sewing (classic crash dummy mentality in action).

Cheyenne Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceToday’s block is called Cheyenne, and when I look at my finished block I’m reminded of a running figure.  The name of the block plus the image puts me in mind of New Year’s Day, 1978.

I was in Cheyenne, Wyoming and it was snowing – no, that needs repeating, but with a little more emphasis – it was snowing.  It may well have been the worst snowstorm I’ve ever experienced.  If not the worst,  it was easily in my Top Three.  (Oh, for crying out loud, who scores blizzards?)

Just as the airport was closing, I caught a commuter flight out to Denver.  It was a twin engine, six-seater plane and we flew so low during that storm, we skimmed fences.  When things would start to get dull, a chunk of ice would tear itself loose from one of the props and bounce off the fuselage.  The truly unfortunate part of this story is that there weren’t any in-flight services, (although I could have used an adult beverage or five on that flight).

My final layout design for this quilt is coming together nicely and I’ve decided that I need far fewer blocks with orange fabric in them than I’d originally thought.  You’ll be seeing a lot of chrome yellow & gray, chrome yellow & black and chrome yellow & gray & black combinations in the very near future.  Lots of them.

I ran across another wonderful vintage illustration for the suffrage movement over at Barbara Brackman’s blog.  She was referencing Western states generally, and Wyoming in particular – a pioneer state in votes for women – as leading the fight for women’s rights.

The illustration was done in a popular palette of the U.S. women’s suffrage movement, gold and ivory accented with black.  Still love the colors, and no matter how loudly the insane scrappy quilter inside me screams to be set free, I’m going to stick to my guns and keep plugging away.

Thanks for the inspiration, Ms. B – I needed that spark today!

Mental Soundtrack Courtesy Of R.E.M.

maya2Christmas week already.  The end of the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar has come and gone, and the world as we know it didn’t explode with a neo-Hollywood FX big bang, nor did it wink out of existence with a tired little squeak.

Oh, those crazy Mayans – I do hope they were able to anticipate the misinterpretation of their calculations, and got some enjoyment out of their little prank (insert Mayan chortle here).  I’m really enjoying  the mental image of a crowd of doom shouters desperately seeking last minute Christmas gifts.

Are you looking for a last minute gift for that reader on your list?  You might consider B-Sides And Broken Hearts by Caryn Rose.  If the title for today’s post didn’t get the music playing in your head (come on – you know which song I’m talking about, don’t you?), then I guarantee that with B-Sides, you will have a mental soundtrack blasting from the first page to the last.

2012 has had some low points, both Dick Clark and Twinkies died (well played, Mayans).  Want more?  How about a remake of Total Recall?  But here’s the nadir – Encyclopædia Britannica has decided to discontinue issuing a bound edition (sigh).  I really love eBooks, but THE encyclopædia?  Anathema!

I don’t have a Grandmother’s Choice block for show and tell this weekend – I have half of a block.  I spent a huge chunk of yesterday fiddling around with color combinations and that’s about it.  When I have the block finished, it will have to be another twofer, or maybe even a threefer post.  I’m feeling very lazy, possibly because the insanity of ringing in the New Year is just around the corner, and the thought of everyone trying to make and keep resolutions just wears me out.

Okay, color me lazy and jaded.

I have made some progress in the design department for a final layout of the Grandmother’s Choice quilt – it’s all about the borders at this point.  Just click here to see where I’ve landed border-wise.

Nothing else going on in my world, so I’ll close with this wish: that everyone has a low-stress holiday, one that’s filled with peace, that you are surrounded by friends and family, and that you enjoy a liberal sprinkling of warm and fuzzy moments.  — Jo

P.S.  If you didn’t figure it out, here’s the video.

Grandmother’s Choice: It’s Another Twofer

Centennial Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Grandmother's ChoiceBlock Fifteen: Centennial

Ah… nothing like a cold to make life a little less interesting just when you’re gearing up for the holiday season.

I located enough energy last weekend to keep current with Barbara Brackman’s quilt project, just enough.  I spent a fair amount of time on the couch afterwards admiring the happy orange fabric in this block.  It was me, the block, the TV tuned to Turner Classic Movies, and a jumbo box of Kleenex.

This block was used to commemorate the centennial celebration in New Zealand – the first country to grant women the right to vote in 1893.

Capital T Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceBlock Sixteen: Capital T

The T is for Temperance.  Apparently, many women came to the suffrage movement from the temperance movement.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it was a social movement that urged the prohibition of Demon Rum.

One notable woman was Sarah Pellet who was known as a mighty temperance speaker.  Sarah was firmly convinced of the soundness of the movement, so much so, that she traveled out west during the Gold Rush to address the men in the California gold camps.

I could tell you more about Sarah Pellet, but I think Barbara Brackman did a fine post on the subject, so why not jump over to her blog when you’re finished here?

I’d like to share with you today a little story about my great-grandpappy Eugene, who could’ve given us a first-hand account of gold mining and the temperance movement.  I’ve mentioned him in passing before, but here’s a bio written by his daughter, my grandaunt, Henrietta Aspasia Saucier Pace.  Just click on Henrietta’s Story: Part One.

Block Fourteen: Bride’s Knot

Bride's KnotThis week’s block in the Fight For Women’s Rights Quilt Project is: Bride’s Knot – Invisible Women.

We revisited the subject of women losing possession of everything they owned, even the clothes on their back at the moment they married.  The bride instantly became a chattel, another piece of personal property with no rights of her own… an invisible woman.

This block happens to be a variation on one of my favorite patterns, Churn Dash.  It’s a versatile block, with so many different possibilities, and all dependent on fabric color and placement.

If you’d like to see some different interpretations, jump on over to the Grandmother’s Choice Flickr Group.  The blocks may just knock your socks off.

I could have added in some more colors and made this a lot more intricate and interesting, giving it a true knot effect.  Instead, I kept it simple, using the chrome yellow to represent a plain gold wedding band.

Block Thirteen: Everybody’s Favorite

Still motoring along with Barbara Brackman on her 49 week quilt block project.

Some weeks the quilt patterns give a really smooth ride – interesting and challenging.  Other weeks I’ve felt like a participant in a demolition derby.  Y-seams and hand applique´… (sigh)

English: Competition at the West End Fair Demo...

Competition at the West End Fair Demolition Derby, Gilbert, Pennsylvania. Photograph by Bill Lowenburg.

Knowing that the upcoming block was the 13th in the series, I anticipated some kind of new and inventive vexation – not that I’m superstitious in the least.

After filling up with high-test caffeine on Saturday morning, I strapped on a virtual crash helmet, cranked up the computer, idled over to Barbara’s blog, and… butter my buns and call me a biscuit!  To my delight, Saturday’s block was more along the lines of driving a tricked out 1970 black over yellow El Camino SS454 with a 4-speed box – fast and fun.

Barbara Brackman Grandmother's Choice Block 13

oops… Did I Miss A Block?

Grandmother's Choice SchoolhouseBlock Eleven: Little Red Schoolhouse

To illustrate on what level my mind often operates, let me tell you what I was thinking when I was making this block —

I see a schoolhouse… I see a schoolhouse in the woods, in a valley, in the winter, at twilight; and inside, the lamps are lit and the schoolroom has yellow wallpaper.  (A little childish?  In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, “Eh, could be.”)

Perhaps you’ve noticed that a couple of new fabrics have tiptoed into the fabric pull for this quilt.  Probably not – gray is gray, right?

Grandmother's Choice BreechesBlock Twelve: Little Boy’s Breeches

In today’s post, Barbara Brackman brought up the subject of a failed attempt at women’s dress reform in the mid-19th century.

The idea was simple: Out with restrictive clothing such as crinolines, corsets, hoops and long skirts.  In with Turkish Trousers covered modestly with a much shorter skirt.

Does it not seem odd to you that women got the right to vote well before society accepted such a little thing as women wearing slacks?

Have You Ever Been Beguiled By A Color?

Recently, I was at La Ruche des Quilteuses reading a post regarding the flax plant.  The original post is in French – thank you Google Translate – and it was there that I saw the photograph.  To say that my jaw dropped would be a very poor description.  Smitten?  Certainly, but it was more, I was amazed, thunderstruck, gobsmacked, and yes, beguiled, by the watery greens in a field of flax in bloom.

I found myself drawn back to that photo repeatedly.  I decided that I wanted to celebrate the color the best way I knew how, with textiles, in a quilt.  I confess that I am a green lover, and you won’t find a shortage of greens in my fabric stash, but I was looking for a very particular color of green.

I spent hours burrowing through every bin, box and bag of fabric that I own, and then I found it.  A length of vintage fabric that I’d picked up for a song a few years ago.  It was one of those fabrics purchased without even the foggiest idea of what it was going to be used in.

Seen up close, the fabric is a particularly virulent poison green overlaid with a grass green on white, but when you stand back it all blends into a gentle watery green.

Once I had my treasure at home, I kept trying to use it in a variety of scrappy style quilts, without success.  It looked wretched with everything.  The last time that I had it out attempting to make it play nice with all the other fabrics, I folded it up and with a sigh I put it away.

I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t be seeing that fabric surface again for a while.

But here it was on the cutting table – unfolded and seemingly compliant – what if I just kept it simple (stupid) and paired it with white?  For a pattern, I could use a two-block combination, Snowball and Nine-Patch.  The pairing is a little old fashioned, but when used together it makes a dandy flower pattern, plus, I’d have all of that lovely negative space to work with when the time came to quilt it.

And now, on with the opera. Let joy be unconfined. Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor.   — Groucho Marx: A Night At The Opera (1935)

We don’t have a season that most folks would call Autumn here in SW Oklahoma.  No glorious show of color to bring down the curtain on a growing season.  We do have Fall, if by that definition you mean that all the leaves turn brown and fall on the ground (it usually happens overnight accompanied by a crash).  And of course the wind was up when I wanted a morning shot to play up the soft color in the quilt top.  No surprises here, the wind always blows in SW Oklahoma.  The only place outside that I could find where the top would hang and not flap, was the lee side of the donkey’s loafing shed.

While it’s not a perfect replica of flax green, ‘I done my best’ with what I had, and I was able to use up every last scrap of that lovely poison green.  No more frustrating moments trying to force this fabric to be a member of the chorus when all it truly ever wanted was to be a diva.

English: Sibyl Sanderson, American opera sopra...

Sibyl Sanderson 1864 – 1903 American opera soprano

Block Ten: New York

Feeling deliciously lazy today – it’s day one of a whole week of vacation.

I began my Saturday as usual with a full tank of caffeine and Barbara Brackman’s block of the week, Grandmother’s Choice: The Fight For Women’s Rights.

According to instructions, the upper left corner was supposed to be either a plain patch, or a small pieced star.  I decided that a bit of variation was in order – so I drafted out a wee version of a block from a few weeks ago.

The X to represent casting a ballot.

Tuesday, November 6th is our day to vote here in the U.S.  Do vote.  Voice your opinion.

P.S.  Ask around – do any of your neighbors need a ride to the polls?

Block Nine: Brick Pavement

Today’s block is in remembrance of the March 3, 1913 women’s suffrage parade in Washington, DC.

The event was organized by the suffragist team of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns (no, I did not say Burns and Allen), who secured endorsement from the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), but were required to raise funds to support the project elsewhere.

The parade was to take place the day before the inauguration of President-elect, Woodrow Wilson and the reason given was: “to march in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded.”

In short, they hoped to draw attention to the fact that it was time for a federal amendment supporting the right of women to vote.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/00/Suffrage_march_line_How_thousands_of_women_parade_today_at_Capitol_1913.jpg

Illustration from New York Evening Journal. New York, NY: Star Co., March 4,1913 p. 2, col. 4.

It was to be a gala turnout and a peaceful one, led by Inez Millholland, a labor lawyer.  The parade was comprised of nine bands, more than twenty floats, four mounted brigades, and 5,000 suffrage delegates from around the world.  The parade was to begin on Pennsylvania Avenue, and events were planned to cap the event – a pageant at the Treasury Building, and Helen Keller was to speak at Constitution Hall (yes, I did say speak).

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a4/Official_program_Woman_Suffrage_Procession_Washington_D.C._March_3_1913.jpg

Illustration by Dale for the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

NAWSA parade, March 3, 1913. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

NAWSA parade, Washington, DC, March 3, 1913. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

Who Knows What Evil Lurks In The Hearts Of Men? The Shadow Knows!

Much as I’d like to take a sharp left turn to a more pleasantly nostalgic subject –  note the reference to an old radio program – I won’t.  Like a lot of people, I tend to view the past through rose-colored glasses.  Simpler times, right?

Apparently the mere thought of five thousand women with a mission struck fear in the hearts of American men.  After traveling just a few city blocks, the marchers found themselves blocked by an assemblage, most in town to attend the inauguration.  The men were not hampered by the local police; on the contrary, they were often abetted by Washington’s Finest who happily joined the festivities by heckling and harassing the marchers.

The crowd blocks forward progress of the NAWSA parade. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

The parade continued, the marchers often having to pass single file through the crowd of men until things got out of hand.  The marchers were physically assaulted, and according to reports, it took two ambulances six hours to locate and remove one hundred injured marchers.

Red Cross Ambulance, NAWSA parade in Washington, DC, March 3, 1913. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson responded to a belated request from the chief of police – Stimson authorized the use of a troop of cavalry from nearby Fort Myer to help control the crowd.

Ahem – take one more look at the photos – seriously, just a troop?  That’s what, 120 mounted men or thereabouts?

Newspapers the next day were outraged by the humiliation and injury suffered by the marchers – just so much fuel for the fire being fanned by Alice Paul.  It seems to me that Alice learned her lessons well during the time she spent in England with those militant suffragettes – a workable formula – passive resistance, met with predictable violence, drawing syndicated newspaper attention to further engage the moral outrage of the average citizen.

Do you see a pattern here?

A heartfelt thank you goes out to Barbara Brackman, who manages to spark my curiosity and fire my imagination every single week.

Block Eight: Rocky Road To Kansas

No rabble-rousing today, no raised fist for women’s solidarity, if you want a snippet of history to go with today’s block, check out Barbara Brackman’s blog.

When I was finishing this block, I had the nagging feeling that it reminded me of something.  Once I saw the photo, I realized what it was – it’s a piñata – all it needs is tassels!

Now you guess what I’ve got on the brain…

Could it possibly be homemade enchiladas and a big pitcher of margaritas?  Oh, yeah!

Block Seven: Alice’s Flag

I really enjoy fussy cutting, but I may have pushed the envelope a little far today – the pattern was too irregular for cutting five repeated segments.

A couple of the motifs turned out well, others have a squashed look.  The points aren’t exactly sharp and it does wobble a bit, but lucky for me, little flaws like these will quilt out.

No matter how long you’ve been quilting, it continues to be a learning process – and I’m happy enough with the block that I won’t cry “do-over”.

Alice Stokes Paul (Or – Where Did I Hide That Soapbox?)

Today, Barbara Brackman reintroduced me to Alice Paul (b. January 11, 1885 – d. July 9, 1977).  Intrigued, I started exploring further and discovered that Alice Paul was an extremely well educated woman: a BA in Biology at Swarthmore College, an MA in Sociology and a PhD in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania – not stopping there, she earned an LLB from the Washington College of Law at the American University, Washington, DC – zowie!

Alice Stokes Paul, circa 1901

Alice Paul got her chops in activism working alongside Emmeline Pankhurst and other women that caused controversy up, down, and across England, using militant tactics to further awareness of the suffrage movement and secure the vote for women.

Oh yeah, we’re talking seriously dedicated suffragettes here.

Returning to the US, Paul joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association, but when her tactics started to create tension among the leaders, she and that organization parted ways.  With the help of a few of her colleagues and funding from Alva Belmont – a multi-millionaire and socialite – the National Women’s Party was formed.

Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?

The NWP began an active campaign of non-violent protest, and on January 10, 1917 they moved the action to the White House.  Alice Paul and a dozen other protesters simply held banners stating their demand to the right to vote – these women became known as Silent Sentinels.  The picketing lasted until June 4, 1919 when a joint resolution of Congress passed the 19th Amendment.

They picketed for two and a half years.  In all weather.  All day.  All night.  Every day except for Sunday.

Silent Sentinels – National Women’s Party picketers outside the White House

During that time Alice Paul and other Silent Sentinels were assaulted, arrested, convicted and imprisoned at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia.  Alice Paul was sentenced to seven months, and for two weeks she was held in solitary confinement on a diet of bread and water.  When too weak to walk, she was removed to the prison hospital where she began a hunger strike.  Others joined her.

By her refusal to eat, and afraid she might die, doctors prescribed a program of mandatory feedings – three times a day for three weeks a tube was forced down her throat.  I suppose a diet of raw eggs and milk would keep a person alive.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… the assault on the Silent Sentinels continued inside the Occoquan Workhouse.  Guards brutalized the women – they were dragged, beaten, kicked and choked.  Newspapers began to report the treatment of the protesters which helped to create more support for the suffrage movement.

Wasn’t this an ugly piece of American history that we were never taught in school?

Alice Paul survived imprisonment – she served her sentence, and on release resumed the fight for women’s rights.

It is incredible to me that any woman should consider the fight for full equality won. It has just begun. There is hardly a field, economic or political, in which the natural and unaccustomed policy is not to ignore women…Unless women are prepared to fight politically they must be content to be ignored politically. — Alice Paul, 1920

Alice Paul celebrating the ratification of the 19th Amendment – August 18, 1920.

Here are some sources that I found interesting:

The Alice Paul Institute

The Sewall-Belmont House Museum

Jailed For Freedom by Doris Stevens

Block Six: Aunt Eliza’s Star

Barbara Brackman gave us a lovely block to work on this week – a pattern that dates to Martha Washington’s era.  In addition, Barbara related a brief history of Martha’s granddaughter, Eliza Custis.

At age nineteen, Eliza married Mr. Thomas Law, and she may not have made the most suitable choice for a husband – you see, it was said that Mr. Law had a reputation.

The marriage eventually failed due to Mr. Law’s open infidelities, and in the process of divorce, Eliza not only lost the property she brought to the marriage (including property supposedly protected by a prenuptial agreement), but her only child as well.

Children, like a woman’s inheritance, remained with the man after a separation or divorce… In punishing his wife by forbidding her to see her daughter Law was following social and legal tradition on both sides of the Atlantic. His brother Lord Ellenborough, chief justice of the King’s Bench, set British precedent for the male’s sole right to custody in an 1804 case, returning a child to a violent man because the father “is entitled by law to the custody of his child.”  — Barbara Brackman

Until well into the 20th century, with very few exceptions, a woman lost everything during a divorce.  It didn’t matter why the marriage failed, loss of child custody was the likely outcome.

After reading Eliza’s story, I found myself in a retrospective mood when I began selecting fabric for Aunt Eliza’s Star.  One very quiet block was the result.

Block Five: New Jersey

I have to admit that I went to Barbara Brackman’s blog this morning with a sense of dread and just a little trepidation.

As a matter of fact, it was my other half that wondered out loud about today’s block before I did.  Not that I’m not pleased with last week’s block, I am, and I’m mightily happy with both versions, but I will admit that it was a challenge.

During The Fight For Women’s Rights, there were the law-abiding members of the suffrage movement who were known as suffragists, and a sub-group, the suffragettes – and thanks to Paul McCartney, most of us have heard of the latter.

The suffragettes were the more militant arm of the movement and by taking such actions as chaining themselves to railings, setting fire to mailbox contents, smashing windows and occasionally detonating bombs, they made sure that notice was taken.

Anarchists?  Maybe just a little around the edges, but if I had lived during the period of history that we’re saluting with this quilt, I would have been honored to have been numbered among them.

So for all those women that made sure that I could voice my opinion in the voting booth, I decided to make my mark boldly.  I’m tickled pink (or should I say orange?) with this block – the X represents the mark made on a ballot, and I intentionally tried to echo it with smaller versions made by the pattern in the background fabric.

Crazy woman needs to start on version two – and with a waggle of the fingers and a blithe toodles, I’m off to the cutting table.

Block Four: Sunflower

Sheesh… this one was just a bit of a challenge for someone that hasn’t done hand applique in over 10 years – and now week four is under my belt.  I don’t have a lot to say, just awfully glad that I don’t have to hold my breath any longer.  It’s done, it’s done, it’s done!

Okay, so I have one thing to say about it; while I greatly admire hand applique, I think that I’d just as soon somebody hold a blowtorch to my feet and force feed me raw pig intestines while Lawrence Welk golden moldies play on a continuous loop rather than do hand work.

That does sound a little harsh – but… have I mentioned that it’s done?

Block Three: Union Square

I was cutting fabrics bright and early yesterday morning shortly after Barbara Brackman posted the instructions for the third block in her 49 week quilt along.

Why so early?  Because I joined up with a handful of other crazies in the group and decided to make two different quilts, (and an idea occurred to me this morning – a palette for a third quilt – but I’m going to resist that particular little voice).

If you’d like to see how the blocks are looking together as sets, just click here.

Block Two: Amethyst

Here’s the second block in Barbara Brackman’s quilt project recalling The Fight For Women’s Rights.

As a matter of fact this is block two, v. 2 – the first attempt wasn’t great color-wise, so I’m not even going to post it here.

Y-seams (sigh).

I don’t have a lot to say about Y-seams except for one little piece of advice: while you’re making this block, keep reminding yourself to breathe.

Call me insane, but I’m seriously considering making two blocks a week.  I love the colors that I’m using in this quilt, but it does seem a little formal.  I’m thinking something scrappier in a second quilt – maybe try some down and dirty color techniques.

Then again, there is that small collection of fabrics that I purchased at Liberty of London.  I’ve been saving it for something special (close to 15 years come to think of it), and maybe now is the time to pull it out of my stash.

I’ll have to consider this for a bit.

Oh, Those Crazy Americans And Their Cars

September already.  The weather is finally starting to turn, and like a lot of Septembers, I have a tendency to take a Sunday kind of drive down memory lane thinking about summers from the past.

I remember the summer my father died.  So many firsts during that long summer that I moved to Missouri.  The very first ‘first’, was when I inadvertently declared my independence by lighting a cigarette in front of  the family after the funeral.  ‘Nuff of that.

My first job.

My first car.

My ’60 Starliner was white on white with a Y-block V8.  It was long and it was wide and it could fly.  I proved that late one night trying to lose my first, but regretfully not my last, blind date.  Yeah, he really was that bad.  I finally shook him loose when I opened it up and ran that car nearly flat out on the Nebo Hills road.  I’ll swear that all four tires left the blacktop a few times.  I really miss those flat fins.

I bought my first stereo.  How many times did I listen to Joe Walsh on vinyl that summer?

I helped my sister stain the exterior of her house – one particular highlight was climbing down the ladder and stepping (barefoot of course) into a paint pan of red stain.  Sweet… one redwood colored foot.  That was a slapstick  first, and spending the first few weeks of summer not being able to wear my favorite pair of water buffaloes was another.

After a childhood spent outdoors year-round in the Southwest, I peeled for the first time in that Missouri humidity, just like a snake.  Nice.  So much for my carefully cultivated tan, for that summer at least.

Speaking of snakes, I had my first encounter with a copperhead that summer.  After an ineffective attempt to slice and dice it with a lawn mower, which by the way, merely managed to make it righteously pissed off, I dispatched it with a set of post-hole diggers.  Oh, and incidentally, another first – I learned how to tan snake skin.

That summer I read William Peter Blatty’s book, The Exorcist, and I recall one night spent babysitting my nieces and cleaning up after them.  I’ve never been sure if the cause was my first attempt at cooking an entire meal, or a 24-hour bug, but either way, the result was the girls doing their level best to outdo Regan from the book – whip-saw vomiting while still in bed – when one would leave off , the other would begin, then they’d start all over again.  A whole lot of bedding ended up being hosed down in the bathtub that night.

Thank you little baby Jesus they didn’t start spider walking.

Back then, the legal drinking age in the state of Kansas was eighteen.  It was a quick trip to cross the state line for a beer run.  Now I’m not saying that I was legal, but I was close, and that was the summer of my very first hangover.  On waking up the next morning chilled to the bone from the air conditioner, I decided that the only place to hide out and sleep it off was in the backseat of my brother-in-law’s Chevy.  Was it a ’56 or a ’57?  Whatever it was, it just felt so darned good to be finally warm.

I placed my first long distance call that summer.  One call to an ex-boyfriend out in Arizona who wanted me to come home for a Doobie Brothers concert.  I didn’t go home that summer, and I didn’t see the Doobie Brothers either

I did see Elton John in a fabulous concert at Arrowhead Stadium instead.  I went with a cousin who, I’m fairly certain, had been assigned the task of shepherding me that summer.  I don’t know how many times I was introduced to his friends as his fiance.  He eventually got over the embarrassment of having me tag along, and for the first time we became less like relatives – more like friends.

An odd first, nearly surreal, was the night I went to the Twin Drive-in and saw a double feature re-release of a couple of movies I’d never seen: Gone With The Wind and The Green Berets.  What were they thinking when they screened those two movies together?  I loved one, slept through most of the other.  You guess which.

I discovered In-A-Tub and the taste sensation of a taco salad topped with their proprietary blend of powdered cheese.  I know it sounds bad, but really, it was good.

One of my favorite memories of that summer was driving home from town with my sister in her ’73 Ford pickup (I believe it was Mill Valley Green).  We were talking about – oh, everything – and working around to a discussion of a neighbor who had been out to her house for a barbeque earlier that week.

The guy had the most incredibly, wonderful belly laugh.  He was one of those people who sincerely laughed, from way down deep inside.

We wondered: how did he do that?

The two of us ended up parked in the driveway, sitting there in the cab, trying so very hard to imitate his belly laugh…

Hah-hah-hah-hah-hah!

Wait, had anybody seen us?  Then completely cracking up over the craziness of the situation.  Our own laughter ringing out, loud and true, laughing for the joy of being silly together.

That summer began with a death in the family and by the time the summer ended I had a job, a car, a stereo, a worn out Joe Walsh LP, one slightly pink foot, a patchy tan, a much cherished snakeskin, and semi-permanent emotional scarring from reading one of the scariest books ever.

Some might describe that as a so-so summer, some might even consider it pretty tame, but to tell you the truth, it was one memorable summer – time spent in some great cars, having a few laughs, and making that first conscious move towards adulthood.

Block One: Grandmother’s Choice

Barbara Brackman’s newest block of the week, a much anticipated project recalling The Fight For Women’s Rights, kicked off on Sept. 1, 2012.  That date just happened to coincide with the Mayo Family Reunion.

Much as I love my family and enjoy seeing them, I have to admit that I found myself slightly distracted from time to time.  Of course I was daydreaming about color choices and placement – shame on me!

Today, as the last house guest pulled out of the driveway, I threw a final wave over my shoulder and dashed to the sewing room – a fun way to wrap up the Labor Day Weekend!

Barbara’s instructions were spot on, always nice to find that someone tested the pattern before publication.  Thanks Barbara, Becky and Dustin!

Click here to read more about my take on this project, and here to see how I’m progressing with final layout ideas.

Excuse Me… You So Did Not Say Feminazi!

I’ve been asked about the purpose of those odd title lines buried in my last post.  You know the ones I mean – those little reminders of how bad TV commercials can be in terms of stereotyping and their annoyance factor.

The titles started wanting to pop in about the time I finished typing the second paragraph:

For a woman of today, the opportunity to voice an opinion with a vote is something that is very often taken for granted, but enfranchisement just wasn’t always so.  It was such a short time ago that we American women gained that right.

Gonna Have To Get Militant On You

I badly wanted to add more to that paragraph.  I badly wanted to say that without the first baby step of the 19th Amendment, women today wouldn’t have many of the things we take for granted.  I easily could have gone into a really preachy sermon on birth control and managing our own reproductive rights, laws enacted regarding rape and violence against women, about women’s shelters, and about equal opportunity, to name more than a few.

And that last subject is a biggie as well, don’t ever think otherwise.  Just within my lifetime we’ve seen some changes.  I could’ve gone on at length on the subject of women in the workforce.

Here’s a scenario – all of a sudden you find that you’re a single parent.  What are you going to do?  Sit around and hope the child support gets paid while trying to survive on welfare payments and food stamps?  No, you’re going to have to get a job, and not just a low-wage, low-self esteem job – a real job.  You’re going to need the knowledge and possess the ability to compete for that job, and you’re going to have to carry on the fight for the women that come after you.

Let’s go back a few years and take a look at the way American women stepped out of the home and into the factories during WWII.  They weren’t keeping the home fires burning, they were keeping ‘the boys’ supplied with guns and ammunition, planes and jeeps,  tanks, ships and uniforms, and they managed to do it all while living on ration stamps.   When the war was over and the men came home, they took those jobs back from their wives and sweethearts – and with a pat on the head and a not-so-gentle shove, women found themselves right back where they started, grateful that their menfolk had returned, but back in the kitchen nonetheless.

File:We Can Do It!.jpg

1942 Poster for Westinghouse
By J. Howard Miller

Rosie the Riveter was created during that war, but she wasn’t just another poster gal, she later became the embodiment of a movement – “We can do it!” – became a collective shout aimed at women everywhere.

May 1943 Saturday Evening Post
Cover by Norman Rockwell

Rosie as portrayed by Norman Rockwell: he posed Rosie in a position similar to the prophet Isaiah as painted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Cistine Chapel.  Rockwell continued to play with symbolism and put a copy of Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler underneath Rosie’s foot, clad in red sock à la Van Johnson, (a popular film actor of the era) and penny loafer.

Stepping Down From The Soapbox

I enjoy keeping house (okay, that’s a lie), and I enjoy planning and cooking meals (now that’s a really big lie), and I take a lot of pride in my job and the knowledge that I’ve gained over the course of my working years (ah – here’s a nugget of truth).   But all the while I remind myself that to the women of my mother’s generation, most of the opportunities that I enjoy were not available.

Let’s wrap this thing up: those tag lines from commercials were simply indicators that a more cynical side of me was trying very hard to be heard, and that I was having a bit of a struggle suppressing it.  Now the cat’s out of the bag and if you stayed with me through this post, you have the answer to that mystery (and you got at least part of the sermon after all).

It’s Shake ‘n Bake™ – And I Helped!

This morning I’m still thinking about family – and wondering about the women in particular – in conjunction with the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.   I’ve been trying to imagine how becoming politically enfranchised might have impacted their lives.

For a woman of today, the opportunity to voice an opinion with a vote is something that is very often taken for granted, but enfranchisement just wasn’t always so.  It was such a short time ago that we American women gained that right.

On June 4, 1919 the 19th Amendment was passed; it was then ratified by Congress August 18, 1920.  Ninety-two years ago this month.  In a nutshell, the amendment prohibited any U.S. citizen being denied the right to vote based on sex.

Mom… Our House Smells Funny.  New Wizard™ Air Freshener Will Cure House-itosis!

My grandmother on the paternal side of the family would have been 34 years old at that time, and if a contemporary were to describe her you would probably hear something along the line of:  Ida, wife of James, mother of four, homemaker.  All you would need to encapsulate her life for a headstone would be to insert “faithful” and/or “beloved” somewhere.

James and Ida

Now really, looking at the woman in this photo (pictured with her husband James who always looks to me like the proverbial cat that ate the canary), do you think she’d willingly let herself be limited by that definition?  I’d like to think she wouldn’t.

ring around the collar!  RING AROUND THE COLLAR!!

If we switch over to the distaff side of the family, you might be interested to hear about Dr. Ella Green Ware, my first cousin twice removed.  Ella was 50 years old at the time we’re talking about and had already been practicing medicine as a country doctor for twenty-one years.

Ella was the first woman in the state of Texas to practice medicine after graduation from the University of Texas Medical School at Galveston in 1899.  It was said that she had been offered a prestigious professorship, something more suited to a lady doctor, but the position was gratefully declined.  (Note: other sources disagree with the graduation date of 1899.  Karen Mac Smith in her book On The Watershed Of The Ecleto And The Clear Fork Sandies cites the date as 1898.)

Dr. Ella Green Ware

Encouraged by her father, Ella stepped outside of the traditional boundaries set for a women of the day.  During the fifty years she practiced, she not only delivered 6,000 babies, but treated injuries and illnesses as any male doctor would.

Who Jacked This Post And Reminds Us Of Stereotyped Women And Bad TV Commercials?

Would the ratification of the 19th Amendment have changed anything in a woman’s day-to-day life?  Probably not.  But it would certainly have influenced, I think at least subconsciously, how they raised and educated their children, more specifically their daughters, to believe that exercising their hard-won right to vote could help to make a difference.

Mother Pin A Rose On Me

Helen M. Saucier

I’m sure that every family has replayed a similar scene, a gathering of the clan.  The uncles and aunts with their respective spouses, all of the adults lingering in the dining room long after the dishes had been cleared.  Smoke curling from lit cigarettes, the ever-present bottle of Scotch, stories being told, jokes swapped, most of the content unsuitable for tender ears. Tender ears… that would be me, my sisters, my cousins, the kids who were supposed to be safely tucked in bed, and usually weren’t.  Not many of us could resist the lure of crouching in a dark hallway outside of the dining room listening to the grownups talk.  We knew better than to venture into the lighted room – bedtime was worse than Coventry when you’d been sent there for the second time.  Then the rules were strictly enforced. Helen was my father’s youngest sister.  Like all of the siblings, she was quick witted and had a fabulously dry sense of humor.  Long is my list of ‘Helen-isms’, and when I hear myself repeating them, I can see her face, the way she would strike a pose, or point her finger for emphasis. I was rummaging through old letters and documents today when I came across an article written and published by Helen.  Not sure that many in the family have seen, let alone ever read this particular story, I thought that I’d post it here.  If you’d like to read it, just click on Story Time.

Pretensions: A Quilter’s Haiku

In my world, quilting is a humble art. Originally, it was an article made for the home, something to cover a bed, warm the body, filler for a blanket chest or linen closet. Today quilting has blossomed into an art form. Fiber artists have taken the basic utility item and turned it into a fabulous creation of the imagination. But whether you make traditional quilts or art quilts, it’s a pastime that can overtake every moment in life, awake and asleep. Here’s the admission – I quilt.

Fabrics fragmented then sewn together
united with thread in a pattern imagined
warm the body and soul.

Quilting: A Cog In The Economic Machine

Once upon a time, home sewing was an economical way to put clothes on your back or decorate your home. Have you checked out the prices of fabrics lately? Granted, the so-called quilt quality fabrics are very nice, but hasn’t anyone besides me noticed that the price per yard has gone through the roof? I’ve seen some really beautiful fabric this year… at $11 a yard.

So you want to make a quilt big enough to sleep under.  8-10 yards to make the top, the back and the binding for a quilt, (oh come on, you can do the math here).  Crazy!

I am a ruler addict. I’ve got big ones, little ones, square rulers, rectangular rulers. Rulers to cut diamonds. Rulers to cut hexagons. Rulers rule.

Earlier this year I read an interesting book on quilting, Making History: Quilts & Fabric From 1890-1970 by Barbara Brackman. I highly recommend the book, an informative and entertaining read, a nice little overview of fabrics used in American quilts.

Have you seen How To Make An American Quilt? It has a stellar cast, Ann Bancroft, Alfre Woodard, Jean Simmons, Maya Angelou and Ellen Burnstyn for starters. Add Winona Ryder and Dermot Mulroney to the mix and what’s not to love? Beautiful cinematography. Warning: watching this movie while you piece will guarantee you a soggy block, so keep a box of tissues handy – a definite weeper.

Speaking of movies and quilts, have you ever noticed how many quilts are staged in movie sets? For me, quilts convey a sense of home, of comfort, and describe a basic sense of levelheadedness in a character. Look for them and you can spot quilts everywhere, in movies about urban dwellers (You’ve Got Mail), westerns (The Angel and the Badman), and period fantasy pieces (Nanny McPhee).

angelbadman

I wonder if Kevin Bacon has ever co-starred with a quilt and where exactly, would that lead me today?

Hello World!

Eugene Felix Saucier 1841-1913

Felt the need to participate in the noise, so here I am.

Like a lot of people, I have things to say from time to time and I do love to correspond.  But sometimes I feel that I have so much to say that it’s eye-glazing, off-the-chart boring for the lucky person who receives the email or letter.

Instead, or better still, in addition, I’ll be here and if you choose to go along for the ride, wonderful!

If you’re wondering about the photo, that would be my great-grandpappy Eugene, a Civil War veteran who served in the the Grand Army of the Republic.