The Happy Homemaker

The Happy Homemaker

Anne began clutching her pearls after she posed for this photo and realized that she wasn’t actually wearing her pearls in it. What kind of homemaker must she look like, doing her ironing, without her pearls on? The idea for this picture began as a way to show off her new ironing board extension. She built it and I helped. I was doubtful about the idea of it, but she made it happen.

Chris, our friend from Rochester, arrived by train last night. Frankly, I was amazed that his train showed up on time. We picked him up downtown at the train station and whisked off to his hotel, near our house. After he checked in, we went out for dinner at our local Greek place, the Olympia. Today, first thing, we met him at a nearby Starbucks. Then we all walked together in Tower Grove Park, which was one of Chris’s old haunts. Signs of last week’s big storm were still quite evident. After our stroll, we decamped back to Chris’s hotel, so that he could change rooms. We had lunch at also nearby Mai Lee, a Vietnamese restaurant that we like. After lunch we toured the Slammer, admired the Moroccan doors that he had restored and then toured the new Nubian exhibit. Well, maybe new isn’t the right word, since most of the artworks were thousands of years old. I’ll be fixing dinner tonight, so we’ll be staying in air conditioned shelter for the evening. It’s July. It’s Saint Louis and it’s hot, hot, hot!

Cabin Quilt Complete

Happy Father’s Day! The shoemaker’s son finally has a new pair of shoes or rather we finally have one of Anne’s quilts on our bed. She has made many quilts over the years and this is certainly her best. So, I guess that it was worth the wait. Anne began this quilt years ago. For many years it lived at the cabin and she would only work on it in the summer, when she was up there. She called it her quilt in a box. That part of the quilt are the six colorful squares in the center of the quilt. Eventually, she brought the box back to Saint Louis. This year she began putting it all together. In-between bouts of being hunched over a hot sewing machine for hours, she would would go to YouTube U to learn new quilting techniques, to perform free motion quilting. I’ve included a couple of closeups, so you see the artistry that she put into her work. One shows the cabin and the other shows the lake view from the cabin. The following is the dedication that she wrote for this quilt:

IMPROV — The Cabin Quilt
— ~ —
Quilt in a box, Quilt outside the box!
Finished (Finally), For Father’s Day 2021

For Mark,

Thanks for all of your love, support and occasional prodding!

Love you Babes!

— AAR —

Now that she has finished this masterpiece, she has already begun working an even grander project, a quilt that will become a wedding gift for Maren and David. Our bed is only a double, but theirs is a king. So, by size alone it will be a bigger project, but she has made so many strides with the Cabin Quilt that the MaD quilt will benefit from her new experience. She calls it the MaD quilt now, but as its October deadline looms, it could soon become the DaM quilt.

Quilting Retreat

We’ve arrived at Frank and Kathy’s place, where they live in the Gold Country, near Sutter’s Creek, the birthplace of the 1849 gold rush. They have a nice home, out in the country, on a wooded lot. They have two dogs, three cats and uncounted chickens. Frank took us to the Kennedy Mine, an old gold mine, once the deepest mine in the world. He is a docent there and can get us in to see it. Kathy wrote the grant that got the mine listed on the national register of historic places. More about it tomorrow. After the mine, we visited a rental cottage that Frank and Kathy own. Originally, it was the mine’s supervisor’s house. It backs onto Sutter’s Creek. Latter in the week we’ll all head up to Tahoe, where they have a lodge. Kathy earned her living in biotech, but her family made their living by selling dirt. Their Company, called Allen Valley Loam sells dirt to all of the major baseball teams in California, where it prized by groundskeepers for its excellent ballfield properties. Pictured is Kathy’s King Elliot Quilt, created by Kathy Allen, first published in her book, Modern Scot Quilts. We are sleeping beneath it while we are visiting them.

Cabin Quilt

Crafty Anne has been very busy, quilting. Now, she has also been doing a lot of knitting too, but this post is all about quilting, in particular her latest quilt. I’m calling it her cabin quilt, because she began making it while up at the cabin. Every summer, over many years, she would pull this project out of a box and work on it while staying at the cabin. At the end of the summer, she would put it back into the box and leave it at the cabin for next year. She didn’t have a sewing machine up there, so all of her work was done by hand. She only worked on the multi-colored blocks up at the cabin. Once when she had them laid out on the bed, her father Harry observed them and commented, “You don’t do subtle, do you?” But she had a plan and Harry could only see a small part of what it would become. Last summer, she brought the quilt back with her from the cabin and has been working on it here ever since.

This quilt incorporates two new techniques that she had to learn first. She has spent hours on YouTube U. Because this quilt is much bigger than her usual fare, she introduced the technique of block quilting or quilt as you go. I think that’s what it is called. Anyway, she first assembles the component blocks, quilts them and then stiches the blocks together. The other new technique that she is using for this project is the making of much more elaborate and fancy quilting patterns. Different blocks have different patterns. The photos show one of her favorite blocks that depicts the exterior of her cabin as seen from the parking lot. Most of the other blocks use more abstract quilting patterns.

Before she would use one of these new quilting patterns, she would first try it out on a practice block. I made the mistake of asking her what this practice block was called, because she has introduced a lot of new jargon to her craft with this project. First, she confirmed that it was just called a practice block, but then she said, “Some people call it Fred, but that’s its government name and it prefers to be called Lucrecia.” Serves me right for asking. It is still a work in progress, but she is almost done and hopes to complete it, before we leave for California. While in quarantine, I have been receiving regular updates on its progress. In a sense though this quilt is only a practice block for her next even bigger project. 

Dave and Maren—Engaged!

Dave and Maren—Engaged!

On Saturday, Dave and Maren Facetimed us, with their announcement that they are now officially engaged. Sunday, they arranged a Zoom meeting with us and Maren’s parents, Bruce and Kim. On the Zoom call, each set of parents recounted the events of their wedding day. Theirs like ours involved less than optimal weather conditions for the big day. Kim noted that we had both planned outdoor weddings. Moving on, our meeting turned to the discussion of Dave and Maren’s nuptials, which at this point are still TBD.

Our discussion touched upon a few wedding topics, like food (Dave), location like at a winery (probably around the Finger Lakes—that’s my guess.), length of the guest list and 2021. There is a lot yet to plan, but as Maren said on the call, “I like to plan these things.” If the last few months have taught us anything, plan for the unexpected, that way you won’t be so surprised when it happens.

Anne has been engaged in a quilting project since we began our Coronavirus quarantine. Originally, it was going to be a memory quilt for her mother, but with her passing, it morphed into a remembrance quilt. Since then this project has taken on a life of its own. One side of the quilt is a recreation of the family’s tartan and the other side is a collection of family photos. She has special fabric that can be printed on. For weeks now, she has been rooting through the many boxes of old family photos that we have accumulated over the years. I was reminded of this project with a recent New Yorker cartoon. In this cartoon the wife is kneeling in the middle of a pile of old photos. Her husband is standing nearby and in answer to what he must have said, she says, “You’re wrong, Ted, this is absolutely the right time to organize four decades of photos.”

As Anne organizes her four decades of photos, she likes to show me the really good ones. In these old photos, we see our former selves and many others, as they once were. Prominently featured throughout this portfolio are pictures of the boys. While we were so much younger then, our boys were even younger. It is hard to telescope these images of them, some of them in diapers, and think of once little Dave, who is now a man and not so little anymore. It is even harder to imagine that our baby is now ready to take a wife. The feelings that I have over this prospect, have become one of the unexpected benefits of growing old and I look forward to more surprises in the future. Congratulations, Maren and Dave!