A scrapbook of whatever I'm making, collecting, or just obsessing about
at the moment.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A close reading of Neruda "Leaning into the Afternoons"

In the works...

Leaning Into The Afternoons

Leaning into the afternoons,
I cast my sad nets towards your oceanic eyes.
There, in the highest blaze my solitude lengthens and flames;
Its arms turning like a drowning man's.
I send out red signals across your absent eyes
That wave like the sea on the beach by a lighthouse.
You keep only darkness my distant female;
From your regard sometimes, the coast of dread emerges.

Leaning into the afternoons,
I fling my sad nets to that sea that is thrashed
By your oceanic eyes.
The birds of night peck at the first stars
That flash like my soul when I love you.
The night, gallops on its shadowy mare
Shedding blue tassels over the land.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Present Ruth meets Past Ruth for lunch at the Dairy Queen

Today I was out shopping and I stopped at the Dairy Queen on Cork Street for lunch. It was starting to rain hard. Part of me wanted to drive straight home--I'm 60 and my knee was hurting--but my 23-year-old self was calling me inside.

I used to eat at this Dairy Queen once in a while for a treat, in 1980 when I worked as a bank teller in one of those little glass and brick kiosks for drive-through check-cashing. (The same glass and brick kiosk that my branch manager told me I was not allowed to leave the day the tornado went by it, but that's another story.) There were many businesses nearby, some very large ones, and on a triple-pay day with Social Security checks hitting, we might go through a quarter of a million dollars in one day.

It was hectic at the bank. You worked hard and you could not be back late from lunch--even if someone made you late leaving for it. But if I could leave my window exactly on time, if I could turn left on Sprinkle Road without much delay, if I could safely run any yellow lights, and if the service was prompt.... I could eat an almost-tranquil lunch at the Dairy Queen.

So I went on in and sat down with myself there. 1980 Ruth had ordered a hot dog with catsup and mustard and French fries--and a beautiful large frosty Tab, which I was jealous of. I stopped drinking cola ten years ago but still crave it sometimes. I ordered a chili dog and fries--hers were thicker than mine--and a glass of water. I slopped some catsup on my sweatshirt; she was wearing a white silk shirt and pale grey Levi Bendovers and was being careful of them. She had on pretty earrings, very pretty shoes. So I casually got out my Kindle and enjoyed her perplexity at how easily I carry one thousand books with me everywhere I go.

But it wasn't really a competition. She knew, silk blouse notwithstanding, I was feeling very sorry for her. I know she hates her job and that she never has much spending money. I know she misses college, she misses learning things that aren't accounting-related. I know she has seven more years before she finally gets to leave that soul-destroying bank, though she won't spend much more time in the teller window.  It will be a long while before she finds her dream job at the library--a library! I know she's jealous of that.

But she has advantages too. She's a newlywed. She gets to spend Christmas with our parents--her mom and dad are still alive. They come and visit her and our husband; they play poker and pedro; they go on vacations to the U.P. together. All that has sadly vanished for Present Ruth.

She asked me, trying not to be in too obvious a hurry, if I had any advice for her. I could see in her face she hoped I did, that she hoped I'd learned something.  And I have. I've learned everything I need to know. And one thing I know is, she doesn't need advice--she is doing everything exactly right, even though she doesn't know it. She is learning all the things I draw on every day, all the things I need her to learn so that I can be who I am right now, more comfortable with myself than she is with herself, but absolutely dependent on her. I smiled my most encouraging smile, hoping she hadn't noticed that our two front teeth have grown a little apart again after she was so proud that they had grown together.

She had to rush back to work. She ducked through the rain to her blue sedan as I strolled unperturbedly though the rain to my blue sedan. I saw her laughing at how deliberately I was taking my sweet time. She knew I was doing it for her.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Meet Rebecca Jane

Rebecca Jane is a Singer model 27 with the "Pheasant" gold decals and a serial number that points to a 1904 manufacturing date.  She is named for her first owner, the grandmother of a friend who sold her to me as part of his mother's estate. I am so happy to have her in my home and am looking forward to the adventure of restoring her and using her to sew many wonderful things.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Niles, Decatur, and South Bend--Best of the Antiques Haul

Yesterday, DH and I traveled southwest to explore the antique malls of three worthy cities near the south end of Lake Michigan. The weather was perfect, the countryside idyllic, and the antique stores well-curated, but not too suavely for our tastes.

Between Decatur and Dowagiac, we stopped for a hasty photo shoot of cranes in a horse pasture. Gosh, we get all excited when a single pair of cranes visits our field!

I could have spent all day in Michiana Antique Mall, a few miles south of Niles on M-51.

This is one of FOUR aisles, all this long length! Not surprising I found a treasure there.

What treasure did I find? The snappy little fashion doll case from the 60s, shown below. I love the happy design and that mod poppy orange color--and the inside is all a lovely carnation pink.

The accessories box needs a little easy repair work, but that's no problem--I'm just thrilled that the pretty matching case-handle is still intact, as these old cases have broken handles more often than not.

I think I am going to upholster the doll-section of the case with mod pink and orange fabric, to make it even nicer inside.

Very quickly, the rest of the day's haul:

I love samples from the golden age of women's magazine publishing! My favorite years are 1967-1971. This is the February 1969 McCalls, which contains the startling information that Jessamyn West, the author of Cress Delahanty was the cousin of President Richard Nixon and used to babysit for him.

Two piano books turned up for $1 each--I bought these because I really like David Carr Glover's compositions and arrangements. These are levels three and five; though I'm at level four I can still get lots of fun and practice from these.

Mail-order catalogs are such a joy to look through, especially ones from my favorite years. This one is Spring and Summer '68 and contains many lovely dresses I can use for doll costuming.

 My bargain of the day was this nice 12" Ideal Shirley Temple. Last summer at the Brooklyn Flea I bought a 10 1/2" high-heel doll who just happened to be dressed in a slip that was tagged for a 12" Shirley Temple. I thought, well, maybe someday I'll acquire a Shirley to wear it, and before the year was out, here she is! Now I have to remember where I put that slip!

 I seldom buy old books any more, but this treasure was going for a song. The Book of Live Dolls contains three of Josephine Scribner Gates' "The Live Doll" stories: The Story of, More About, and The Secret of. Same thing happens in all of them: all the little girls in a certain neighborhood are visited by the Queen of Dolls, who makes their dolls come alive for a time.

The library of my elementary school, where my mother was the "Library Lady," had them on the shelf and I read and loved them. They are very old books, published in the early 1900s, and they have the kind of flaws you'd expect from that time. But they teach, without being too teachy, the importance of careful house-keeping and child-care, and most of all, of treating others with respect. Because when the dolls come alive, they become real people, and you can't make them do just anything you want to anymore. They are persons, not objects. And that is a truth that may be very old, but never antique.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

McCalls 2123 View D Coat, plus a baby quilt

The View D coat has been on my Habitica do-to list all summer, but quilting took precedence for a while, first to finish my Craftsy Block of the Month quilt and then to make a baby quilt for a neighbor's new grandson.

So here are Tammy and Misty, who wear the coat very well, straight from the pattern with no alterations.

Originally I bought this pattern because I wanted to make the coat out of plaid wool. That would be difficult, needing a lot of fussing with the pattern, adding turnings and facings.

In felt it is very easy to make: all cut in one piece, except for the collar, which lays flat to cover its own seam; and the belt, which is just top-stitched in place. For style there is a pretty kick pleat in the back.

View D is shown with a felt hat and boots, also to be made of felt. 1960s felt must have stretched more than today's does, because this hat does not fit. I thought of re-designing it with four gores instead of two, but there are so many Barbie hat patterns in the world, it doesn't need doing immediately.

The boot pattern is very unusual: it is cut all in one piece, including the sole, and all the seam allowances are on the outside ("public" side) of the boot. Someone was really thinking outside the box when she designed this! Unfortunately I couldn't make it look good at all. Looked like the doll had cardboard boxes on her legs.

If I were going to design a boot pattern, I'd make it out of swim-suit material--that would look shiny like a nice 60s vinyl boot, and would fit closely to her leg. But not today--maybe after the wedding dress is done. Still have that to go!

And here's a wee look at the baby quilt I made. My neighbor had bought the print fabric to make table runners for the baby shower. Afterward I offered to make a quilt out of them.

This design is from the book Sew, Slice, Spin, and Sash by Theresa Ward. Hers is a simple concept--just cut fabric strips, sew them together in one long strip-set the whole desired length, then cut them "block width," Then you just turn every other column upside down before adding sashing and sewing together. So you never have to work with blocks as such. But I couldn't do it that way: my print fabric was "one-way" and had already been cut to smaller widths. So I ended up making blocks anyway.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Medallion quilt top finished!

This morning before work I put the last borders of my medallion quilt on. This is the 2016 Crafsy block of the month quilt designed and taught by Lynette Jensen of Thimbleberries. I have admired her style of quilt design since the first ones appeared, and this one has been so much fun to work on.

At this chapter in my quilting story, I had really pretty much stopped making any quilts. I had been knitting and making doll clothes and even starting to sew garments for myself again, which I hadn't done much since high school. But this design was obviously such a good design to use up my scraps and stash, and the monthly presentation seemed so do-able, I just couldn't resist.

And while I was working on it, I slowly started becoming interested in quilting again. I fished out all my rulers and templates, went through my books, watched a few more Craftsy classes, started listening to a quilting podcast....got fired up again.

I'm learning about machine quilting on a home-sewing machine, but I think this one is too big for me to handle as a beginner. So I'm hoping to send it out to be quilted on a long-arm machine--we'll see! Either that happens, or it will remain just a top for a long time!

Monday, August 15, 2016

My very own book display!

The library where I work is doing a series of displays of various staffers' favorite book picks--and this week is my week! I can't describe what a great feeling it is to walk through the lobby and see so many of my favorite books all together!

Here is the list of titles--for me to remember always and for anyone else who is curious.

Baker, Nicholson              The everlasting story of Nory
Burns, Olive Ann              Cold Sassy Tree
Bynum, Sarah                   Ms. Hempel Chronicles
Dallas, Sandra                   The Persian Pickle Club
Gaskell, Elizabeth             Cranford
White, Bailey                    Quite a year for plums


Book Lust to Go: recommended reading for travelers, vagabonds, and dreamers  / Pearl
Why do clocks run clockwise? An Imponderables Book / Feldman
Why don’t cats like to swim? An Imponderables Book / Feldman

On Looking: eleven walks with expert eyes / Horowitz
Find the Good: unexpected life lessons from a small town obituary writer  / Lende

Tasting and touring Michigan’s homegrown food / Beeler
The Hundred Dresses: The most iconic styles of our time / McKean
How the Post Office created America / Gallagher

The Story of English in 100 words / Crystal
Etymologicon / Forsyth
Founding Grammars / Ostler

Dawn light: Dancing with Cranes and other ways to start the day /  Ackerman
Hunt for Vulcan / Levinson 
The Cloud book: how to understand the skies / Hamblyn
Collecting rocks and crystals: Hold the treasures of the earth in the palm of your hand / Farndon
Last Chance to See / Adams [author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy]

Attracting butterflies to your garden / Tampion
Mend it Better / Roach
Hand mending made easy: save time and money / Ides
Alice, Let’s Eat / Trillin

Art before breakfast / Gregory                
Microcrafts / McGuire
The stick book / Schofield
Yellow Owl’s Little Prints / Schmidt
Little Ribbon Patchwork and Applique / Title main entry 

How to read literature like a professor / Foster
The Ode Less Travelled / Fry
Art and Love  / Title main entry
Ink Trails: Michigan’s famous and forgotten authors / Dempsey [When Ray and I worked at the Western Herald, Dave Dempsey was our  editor-in-chief.]
The story of Charlotte’s Web / Sims
The Egg and I / MacDonald
What matters in Jane Austen? / Mullan    

My life in France / Child
Something incredibly wonderful happens  [Oppenheimer]
Hometown appetites: The story of Clementine Paddleford, the forgotton food writer who chronicled how America ate [Paddleford]

Encyclopedia of an ordinary life / Rosenthal
Names on the land / Stewart
How the states got their shapes / Stein
Little Heathens / Kalish