Doing My Chores

snowy cabinHere in the northern hemisphere, we’re preparing for winter. Yes, it’s only September and we still have weeks of splendid autumn to enjoy but we all know what’s coming after that. We see the inevitable signs.

The geese are flying south, the squirrels are gathering acorns, the cats are finding patches of sun to in which to park and nap.

We, the people, need to prepare, too; we can’t let winter catch us unawares. We’re putting the gardens to bed, doing outdoor chores, pulling out recipes for soups and slow-cooker meals.

Winter is the time for hunkering down, for working indoors, for getting in touch with the heart of the home again, for making our own warmth to sustain us.

Here, at out house in upstate New York, the warmth comes from the kitchen, the loom, the quilt frame.

I need to be ready. I’m lining up projects and feathering my nest. I’m doing the chores that will ensure a happy, productive winter.

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week assessing my readiness for candy season. As you may recall, I make and sell chocolates between October and May, so I have been gathering ingredients, deciding how much chocolate I need to buy, and finding the pans and bowls and spatulas I put away months ago. I finally located the candy thermometer and today will look for the candy boxes and labels I stored, to see if I need to order more.

I don’t particularly enjoy all this organizing and planning—I like making the candy! But I need to do these chores so I’m ready for the fun part.

I’ve also been making decisions about a weaving project. I don’t want to stop weaving but, right now, I don’t have the time or inclination to start anything challenging or fancy or artsy. I’ll leave that kind of weaving to my husband; I’m going to make some dishtowels. Some nice dishtowels, in a cotton and linen blend, off-white, with a red stripe down the sides, just like the vintage towels I love so much! Once I get the loom set up, I can weave a few inches whenever I please and watch the fabric grow like magic.

I don’t particularly enjoy all this measuring and planning—I like weaving! But I need to do these chores so I’m ready for the fun part.

My other preparation for winter involves quilting. I haven’t done any quilt-related work since I finished the 1812 quilt, and I miss it. Winter is the perfect time to do hand quilting because it means settling yourself beneath the quilt, while you stitch, warm in your cocoon.

As you know, I love college football and will watch any team play, any time. I want to get a quilt top basted and ready to quilt so I can work on it while I watch football. As it happens, I have quilt tops made by my grandmother’s aunt and by my husband’s grandmother, beautiful hand-pieced vintage tops, just waiting for me to finish them. I’ve picked one and will buy backing fabric this week.

I don’t particularly enjoy all this basting and planning—I like quilting! But I need to do these chores so I’m ready for the fun part.

The chores need to be done so, during winter, we can be secure and productive and content as the cold winds whip the snow into drifts around us.

How do you prepare for a comfy, cozy winter? Have you begun your chores?

 

Céad Míle Fáilte, Penn State

IMG_0537For the past couple of weeks, while the cats have been posting foolish photos of themselves, my husband and I have been in Ireland.

We love Ireland for many different reasons that I’ll probably enumerate soon but the catalyst for this particular trip was to combine our love of Ireland with our love for our alma mater, Penn State University.

Penn State opened its college football season in Dublin, against the University of Central Florida. For those of you who aren’t from the US, and even some of you who are, this whole fascination with college football must be confounding.

But for those of us who are ensnared, nothing could top this game! My husband and I have five degrees from Penn State between us—one BA, two MAs, and two PhDs. That’s a lot of years and a lot of football games attended—it gets in ones blood.

So, on the last weekend in August, we and about 20,000 of our closest Penn State friends showed up in Dublin, and what a welcome we received!

The focus of much of the activity in the days before the game was Temple Bar.

An estimated 10,000 Penn State fans showed up for the pep rally. That’s a lotta navy blue and white!

The Penn State party was held at the Guinness Storehouse. I never would’ve believed that a party of that magnitude could be pulled off without feeling crowded, without incident, and with such flair!

The game was at Croke Park—what a great place to see it! Before the game, two sky divers targeted the stadium, to deliver game balls. The one with UCF colors and flag missed the stadium entirely—do you think that was an omen?

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Penn State skydiver hits the mark!

It was a wonderful game, at least for Penn State fans. Lots of great plays, tense moments, the grim feeling that the game was lost . . . only to win on a last-minute field goal, as time ran out! Woohoo!

The kicker who made the successful field goal is Sam Ficken. My husband and I were at a game two years ago, where Penn State lost by one point, after this same kicker missed 4 field goals. From goat to big-time hero—who wouldn’t be happy for this guy?!

Sam is in the middle of this throng!

Sam is in the middle of this throng!

The city of Dublin has many new American fans, I’m sure. The people were kind and so tolerant of the hordes of fanatics dressed in team colors, behaving in odd ways. They provided at least 100,000 welcomes.

Thank you, Dublin—sláinte!

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All Star Quilts at Shelburne Museum

It’s been a great year for viewing exceptional old quilts made by Amish and Mennonite quilters!

I’ve written elsewhere about antique quilt displays and about Shelburne Museum, but I haven’t put the two together and written about the antique quilt display currently hanging at Shelburne.

The Shelburne Museum, in Vermont, is known for its terrific focus on folk arts and for its collection of over 500 American quilts.

This summer one of the special shows has been All Star Quilts. These quilts are all from the 19th- and early 20th-centuries, mostly made by Amish and Mennonite women, made of solid color fabrics, and all made with patterns based on stars.

The quilts come from the collection of John Wilmerding. Wilmerding is best known as a preeminent art historian, collector of American fine art, and curator. But his grandmother was Electra Havemayer Webb, an avid collector of folk art and the founder of Shelburne Museum.

Wilmerding came honestly by his appreciation of folk art quilts!

As was the case with the antique quilt show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, many of these quilts were displayed against black walls, which made the quilts appear to just glow with color!