Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Memory of Violets

 Product DetailsA Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor

Set in Victorian London, Memory of Violets is the story of Flora and Rosie Flynn, two young girls living in extreme poverty in the slums of London.  From the moment Rosie was born Flora loved and looked after Rosie as they sold flowers on the streets to passersby.  Flora walked with a crutch and Rosie was blind, as were many, many of the orphaned children in the same circumstances.

One day Rosie is abducted, leaving a frantic Flora to search for Rosie the rest of her life.  And yes, Flora did have a life.  Mr. Shaw dedicated his life to training the crippled, blind orphans from the streets in making silk flowers in his factory.  He housed the girls, fed them well, and trained them in a craft thus saving their lives.  He loved them all and his flower village grew.   Flora was rescued.  But she never stopped her search for Rosie. 

Rosie, too, was rescued and her life was very different from Flora’s.  She escaped her adbuctor and hid in the carriage of a well to do woman who took her in and raised her.

Enter Tilly.  After an accident at home where her sister was badly injured and Tilly never forgiven, she leaves her home in Yorkshire and takes a position as a house mother in one of the dormitories in the flower village in London.  Tilly makes a discovery of a memory book written by Florrie as she recounts her life in the flower village and her life long search for Rosie.  Tilly is determined to try to try to use the book to solve the mystery of Rosie’s disappearance.

The world of the street flower sellers, the flower village, the art of making silk flowers, this was something I knew nothing about , making for me, a fascinating read.



Monday, January 19, 2015


I've been wandering around blogland the past couple of evenings and discovered there are people who get a whole lot more done than I do. Some of the work is amazingly beautiful, daring, and painstakingly intricate.  Those pointy points meeting so precisely.  It's enough to make me want to break all of my needles and stop kidding myself.  Me?  I like a nap in the afternoon. So I guess that explains my non-productiveness.

   I have been working on quilting this baby quilt intended for a friend in France. I'm not much of a heart person but I thought this was sweet and adapted and combined it from two somethings I saw on Pinterest and after appliqueing these I've been finding myself pinning more hearts lately.  Never thought I'd see the day.

After an evening or two I have to let my under finger heal a bit before continuing so I started this little project.....

For years, we had this panel Santa stuffed pillow thing we put out at Christmas.  Santa is a bit spotted, faded, frayed and forgotten. He comes out of storage every year, sits propped in a corner somewhere and not thought of again till time to pack Christmas back up.  He was never even given a box.  Just kind of tossed in the attic with no regard.
    Along comes me this year, the one who is packing and purging.  I picked Santa up from the corner, I looked.  I looked.   My sentimental side was starting to speak.  I sat down in a chair with Santa and we talked.  I asked him if he wanted to stay.  He said he'd like to. He remembers a lot of Christmases. He sat in a corner and watched then all.  I asked if he would mind being transformed so he wouldn't have to sit in a forgotten corner but could actually maybe be a part of things.  He said he would like that. 
   Just then PH came in for more boxes and he saw me sitting with Santa.  I was purging broken, never used anymore ornaments and just stuff.  He knows the look on my face.  "Can Santa please stay?"  I said yes.  Santa and I had a talk. He can stay but he's going on a diet.
   I used the seam ripper.  I took the stuffing and tossed it.  Then I appliqued him to a green pinstripe fabric, matching exactly the front and the back.

I dug this out of my stash.  I love, love, love this 50's looking Santa fabric.  The Santa I remember from when I was a kid.  I was saving this for something special and decided it would make a nice border for the Santa my kids and grands remember sitting in the corner all these years.  Maybe now Santa will have the chance to be wrapped around someone's little body or maybe even on one of their beds.
    It's a good project to work on while my under finger heals from time to time.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New project

Another baby, another quilt! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

Product Details

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy  by Rachel Joyce
You’ve read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, haven’t you?  I hope by now we all have.  Harold Fry  receives a letter in the mail one day and as he walks to post a reply he decides to just keep walking to deliver his reply to Queenie Hennessey himself.  Of course, he’s completely unprepared for a 600 mile walk. No money, wrong shoes, no phone, but he’s wearing his tie.  Harold walks 600 miles across England (the long way) to see Queenie.  We have Harold’s story.

This is Queenie’s  story.  And I am telling you here and now, if you’ve read Harold Fry, you only have half of the story.  These should be side by side on your bookshelves. If your book club read Harold Fry, then Queenie’s story is your next choice.  You will never forget it.  Read it.  You must.

When Queenie sends her note to Harold Fry, she is in a hospice nursing home. She is dying.  So is everyone around her but for the caretakers.  While Queenie waits she begins to write her explanation to Harold about why she left those many years ago.  She writes about her love for him. Her admiration from afar. Her involvement from a distance in his life.  She explains it all to him. We wonder if he was completely oblivious those years ago or was he admiring from afar, too?  I guess we have our answer to that in seeing he was willing to walk 600 miles to see her one last time, imploring her to stay alive until he got there.  In explaining her leaving she tells him about the little cottage by the sea that she landed at and fixed up. About the sea garden she planted.  She tells Harold everything.  And so we learn Queenie’s story as she writes this weeks long letter to Harold.

While she physically struggles with the writing she is helped along, helped to stay alive, through the postcards Harold sends telling of his progress.  These postcards become the rallying cry for the other patients in the hospice care.  They are the most inspiring characters I’ve met in ages (and I’m reading a lot lately.)  I laughed, I smiled, I encouraged them to stay alive long enough to meet Harold at the end of his journey.  Something they were all trying very hard to do.
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is one I won’t soon forget.  If ever. There was nothing I didn’t like about this story.    

Saturday, January 10, 2015

snow and ice

This is for my Australian friends who are in the middle of summer.  We are in the middle of winter and it's finally decided to arrive.  This is a picture of a 193 vehicle accident on a major highway that runs all across the bottom of the state of Michigan. Of those 193 vehicles, 76 are semi-trailer long haul trucks.  One was filled with 44,000 pounds of fireworks and they caught.  This accident happened at 9:30 a.m. on Friday and it's now 11:30 p.m. Saturday and the highway is still closed as the mess is still being cleaned up.  Icy roads and white out snows make treacherous partners.  Sorry to say one person lost their life. It could have been oh, so much worse.        Enjoy your summer! We can't wait!

Photo taken from

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Same Sky

The Same Sky: A Novel

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

Wow.  I could not put this down.  This is the story of two that represent the many. 

        Carla lives in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. When the story begins, she is eleven years old, living with her grandmother and twin toddler brothers.  Carla’s mother “made it” to the U.S. to find work so she could send money back home. Carla begins telling her story “My mother left when I was five years old.”   Times are very hard, there is little money,  poor housing, no plumbing, no schools, gangs, crime a constant fight for survival.  There are two ways to escape.  Try to make a run for the border or sniff glue.

        After Carla’s grandmother dies, desperation turns to desperate acts and Carla and Junior, her remaining brother, make a run for the U.S. border to get to their mother in Austin, Texas. 

        Alice lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, Jake. They share ownership of a barbecue restaurant that is renowned in Texas.  Alice is also struggling to survive.  She had cancer, a double mastectomy and cannot have the children they both desperately want.  Alice’s story begins with an adoption gone wrong which leaves her and Jake gasping.  In her attempt to find a focus for her displaced maternal instincts, she agrees to mentor one of the troubled teens from the local high school. 

        This story is told in alternating chapters: Alice. Carla. Alice. Carla. Alice. We can almost understand and identify with Alice’s struggle.  We can see ourselves in her somewhere. We might even know her.  But not so Carla’s story.  We see on the news the story of children being sent to or escaping to the U.S. to live and try to find work.  Carloads of them.  Truckloads.  Frightened, hungry, drifting, lost children.  But do we really know what the journey of these mere children, is?

       I wasn’t sure how, if or when the lives of Alice and Carla were going to intersect.  The author probably fed clues but I was so engrossed in Carla’s story I wasn’t looking for clues, I was absorbing the story.

We lead very sheltered lives.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


     Today I read two posts, from opposite sides of the world but about basically the same thing.  Who are we and how will we be remembered, especially if it looks to us like we're living very ordinary lives. Chookyblue was recalling two funerals she had recently attended and was thinking on the long, deserted road she was driving, what sort of life she was living and how would her eulogy sound?  Has she done anything memorable, remarkable, noteworthy?  (Yes, you have!)
     I thought as I read her post about how many times I've asked myself the same questions.  Mine sound more like "What's it all about, Alfie?"  What's the point?  Who is going to remember or miss me and for how long?  My name has been in the newspaper a few times other than to announce my birth and marriage, but not because I won the Nobel Prize for literature.  So, who will remember me and why?   I mean, what have I done??
    Then I opened Friend Laurie's page and saw this TED talk. 
    Wow, I thought.  Three references to the same thought process on the same day.  Drew Dudley explains that it's not the big, unattainable things that make it possible for us to be leaders.  None of us will be on the world stage but we can celebrate the small stuff. We can BE the small stuff.  It's the small things we do that touch people in ways we may never know if they don't tell us.  Do you know the author Alexander McCall Smith?  He wrote the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and dozens of offshoots. I heard him speak one day and when asked what he thought the appeal of his characters was to us, he said, "None of us is going to live lives of greatness. We all live our little lives being who we are. We go through our days getting through our days the best we can. That's what my characters are doing."
    Drew Dudley asks if there was a person somewhere in our lives who did something that made our life better.  And then he asked if we told them about that moment.  We have, most of us, in our memory banks the name of such a person.  I do.  And I am happy to say I did tell her. 
  When I was pregnant for our son I was given a new, different prenatal vitamin by the doctor.  I am VERY sensitive to any medications.  They affect me greatly so I tend to let nature take it's course.  But, being pregnant, the doctors want lots of vitamins in us.  Well, every morning after taking the vitamin I fainted.  There was also a toddler in the house, not yet two years old and well, it was inconvenient to faint every morning.  So I called the doctor.  Mine was off delivering a baby so the stand in told me to come into the office.  There I sat in the examining room telling the nurse about the problem.  She went out of the room, conferred with the doctor and came back in with more questions.  I answered them. She went out to deliver my answers.  I never saw the substitute doctor.  A prescription was given.
   I went to the pharmacy to fill the prescription and the pharmacist asked, "aren't you pregnant?" I said I was.  But just. I was still wearing my jeans.  She said, "I'm not going to fill this prescription. It's not safe for pregnant women, especially in the first trimester."  I started to cry from relief and went home and called MY doctor and told him what happened.  HE was angry that the pharmacist interfered.  I said, "God bless her!  At least SHE was paying attention!"  (This is also a plug for going to the same pharmacist for your meds and not skipping around.) 
    About 12 years later that pharmacist walked into the bookstore I was working at.  As I finished checking out her purchase I asked if she had a minute.  "I want to tell you something you did that you probably don't even know you did."  And I told her the story and ended it with, "that baby is now 12 years old and in the gifted program in school." I hugged her and she cried and thanked me for telling her.

     You are the tree.  Every leaf is someone you've touched in your life.  Without you, the leaves wouldn't be.