A Quilting Family


Posted on : 6/21/2021 05:11:00 PM | By : Dann

I recently learned that I am not the first person in my family to take up quilting.  My grandmother, Isabel Cramer (Maybee) Stark, made quilts.  Two of them to be precise.

Grandma Stark sewed a lot.  She made curtains for lots of family members when they bought new homes.  She made clothes for my mom[1] until mom started school.  Grandma Stark also made clothes for her cousin, Charlotte Ann.

I used to spend a week or two each summer with my Grandma and Grandpa.  They took me to see Star Wars; my pick, not theirs.  One summer I discovered her embroidery floss.  She let me make my own patches for my denim jacket.  It was remarkably fun doing something from scratch.

I did 4H one year to learn about embroidery.  Fast-forward a few decades and I have completed roughly 30 quilts.

One of my aunts revealed that Grandma had also quilted.  Her first quilt is on display in my aunt and uncle's home and it will eventually find its way to one of my cousins.

The pattern is known as Mariner's Compass.  I've only completed one quilt using that pattern and I'm unlikely to return to it as it is very time/labor-intensive.  Lots of custom cutting for the pieces.  I had the benefit of some modern triangles to help with cutting each of the various pieces.  Making the same pieces using a ruler and custom measurements would be much harder.

Isabel Stark - Bicentennial Project - Click to embiggen

Parenthetically, that headboard and side table were in the room that was my aunt's for many years.  It was good to see those magnificent pieces of carpentry again.

My aunt sent along the following that has been lightly edited for privacy purposes.

Mom made the quilt in 1976 and deemed it her Bicentennial Project.

She used a large white cotton sheet and appliquéd the stars onto the sheet. Looking it over and holding it up to the light, I can see two machined seams putting the backing together. It was a bedspread, and there is no batting inside.

It looks to me like she probably machine stitched the edges to the backing and then folded the edging over onto the front white sheet, and that is hand-stitched.

I remember her saying that a traditional quilt should be done by hand. All of the stars and the appliqué are done by hand as is the quilting. 

Of course….I have no idea when the long arm machines started to be produced.

Mom only made one other quilt. It was after she finished this one. The second quilt was commissioned by a friend for her mother and the commission went to the church. It was not a formal pattern and was made of many fabrics in a diagonal across the piece. The friend, a professional pottery artist, said at the time that Mom’s sense of color and design was phenomenal in that she never had any formal training.

Compass - Click to embiggen

As described, Grandma created the compasses from pieces and then sewed them onto a flat sheet.  This is a process known as applique.

Compass center detail - Click to embiggen
The center medallions were also added via applique.

Compass detail - Click to embiggen

Here is a detail from one of the compass sections.  

Accent strips - click to embiggen

The additional accents are just strips that are gradually shifted to cross over one another.  They also do a weaving pattern over the medallions located between the compasses.

Back and binding - click to embiggen

Grandma Stark had a great sense of style and color.  I hope that my quilts continue that tradition.  Unfortunately, the Compass I made for my dad hasn't survived very well.  The colors on the Michigan State fabric ran.

[1]My mom would victimize my brother and me by making our clothes while we were young.  There are photos.  There are photos!  I cast very few aspersions towards my Grandma, but setting this example for my mom is one thing we all could have lived without.

Interesting News - 6/14/2021


Posted on : 6/20/2021 08:00:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

The bottom line for me is that the crowd would not have been in DC on January 6th were it not for the lies about the vote and lies about then-Vice President Pence's ability to alter the counting of the electoral votes.  The larger...and one might correctly point out mostly peaceful...crowd provided cover for those elements that wanted to engage in violence in an attempt to stop the just process of counting the electoral votes.  If President Trump and his allies had been telling the truth, then the crowd of protesters would have been much smaller and would not have been able to provide that sort of cover for those bent on mayhem.  That being said, I do think it is useful to understand how they got into the Capitol building.  I think it was largely incompetence on the part of Capitol hill police, but who knows.

This sort of thing drives me a bit nuts.  If we were talking about one of Donald Trump's progeny, the left and the media...but I repeat myself...would be consumed in near apoplectic rage declaiming the entire enterprise as thinly veiled corruption.  But it is Joe Biden's son, so none of our media "betters" cannot be bothered.

The latest in the saga of the real Lady A; vocalist Anita White.  The woke crowd continues their pattern of using their position of privilege to abuse minorities in the cause of appearing moral.

The Babylon Bee has won against The New York Times.  Great news for those in favor of free speech and fact.

Is the tide turning against Cancel Culture?  Probably not...yet.  But I trust that people like Kevin Hart and Charles Barkley will help lead the way out of that wilderness.

According to climate change theory, an increase in global temperatures should cause an increase in extreme weather. May is the month with the most tornados.  Yet not only was May 2021 pretty quiet, but almost all of the low tornado months on record have also come in the last 20 years.  Maybe...follow me on this...the dominant theories are subject to a significant level of uncertainty that should cause us to be reasonably cautious about accepting the climate models used to express those theories.

Continuing with the climate change trend, one theory is that humanity is the driving factor in the increasing level of CO2 in the atmosphere.  The Wuhan/Covid pandemic of 2020 caused a significant reduction in global travel as well as local travel.  Yet the trend of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere has not altered one iota.  Maybe human activities aren't as quite as influential as some folks suggest.

Recently, the socialist news agency Propublica presented a report on the taxes paid by a couple of the wealthiest Americans.  They attempted to calculate an effective tax rate.  Unsurprisingly, they utterly failed.  The tax rate is based on one's income, not on one's total wealth.

Here are (one - two) a couple of good articles on race and racial issues in America from Quillette.  Read the whole thing.

An attorney with the ACLU claims that liberals are leaving First Amendment free speech behind.  I disagree with his assessment that these are liberals.  Being a liberal requires being open-minded and tolerant.  The people the attorney is referencing are either leftists or potential future American Chekas.  They neither understand nor desire to be open-minded or tolerant of anything that disagrees with their theology ideology.

One last item for the week is a look back at how the feds were interested in Hunter Biden's fiscal issues back in 2016.  Hunter neglected to pay his taxes - I mean a LOT of unpaid taxes.  Something that would invite the full-court press from the IRS if it were a normal citizen.  But Hunter has connections.  Naturally, the left and the media...but I repeat myself...are disinterested in this wealthy American that can't be bothered to pay his fair share.  Nor are they interested in the appearance of impropriety surrounding his finances.

2021 Hugo Awards - Best Novel


Posted on : 6/18/2021 12:53:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Typing is still a bit hard these days, so this will be brief.  My final ballot for the Best Novel Hugo Award for 2021 will be as follows.  I think.

  1. Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse (Gallery / Saga Press / Solaris)
  2. Piranesi, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
  3. Harrow The Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com)
  4. Network Effect, Martha Wells (Tor.com)
  5. No Award
  6. The Relentless Moon, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor Books / Solaris)
  7. [blank]
  • The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Black Sun was a fantastic read.  It was infused with several mythologies from the pre-Columbian Americas.  The book also contained some elements of the grimdark sub-genre; a personal preference.  I was ignoring everyone so I could read more.  Ms. Roanhorse is a tremendous talent.  This book is a showcase for that talent.  Just read it.

Piranesi was also a great read.  It contained reality-bending elements that were reminiscent of Philip K. Dick.  A worthy nominee, but not quite as good as Black Sun.
An aside before we continue.  I have previously suggested that the pool of Hugo Award nominators appears to have a limited range of authors/topics/publishers that they will consider as suitable for their nominations.  I periodically encounter a modestly provicial attitude that this limited range of experience is suitable because "it's the Hugos".

The result of that attitude is that successive novels in a series end up being nominated even though prior entries nominated in prior years were not selected for the award.  My general experience is that the quality of successive entries in a series frequently declines as the series progresses.  That is partially the result of successive entries either relying on the reader being familiar with prior entries to fully engage with the current entry and/or the author creating a cliffhanger ending to encourage the reading of the next installment.  This award is for the "Best Novel".  A novel should be a complete piece of work.

I am considering the option of a personal rule that puts any novel from a series below No Award unless all of the prior entries have won for the years that they were nominated.  At the very least, I think the bar should be higher for a subsequent entry to win a Best Novel Hugo if the prior entry/entries did not also win the award.  Other people will make other choices.

Harrow the Ninth is the second in a series from Tamsyn Muir.  The first entry, Gideon the Ninth, was fantastic.  I had it in second place behind Middlegame on my ballot last year.  Harrow the Ninth was a fun and engaging book.  While it included most of the same characters as the prior entry, their relationships were substantially different.  One need not have read the first installment to enjoy this book.  Unfortunately, the book ends on a cliffhanger, so this isn't a complete story.  The entire book bends reality in so many ways.  The ending was a completely unexpected twist.  I will read the third installment eventually, but probably not when it comes out as I suspect that it will be heavily nominated for the Hugo Best Novel category.  If this were 2022, then I'd probably put it below No Award based on the principle discussed above.  I think this series would make a great Best Series nominee.

Network Effect is the latest entry in the Murderbot series from Martha Wells.  I read the entire series in one sitting last year.  It is a great series.  The series is nominated for the Best Series award and I have voted for it for that award.  However, there are a couple of reasons why Network Effect doesn't belong at the top of the Best Novel ballot.  First, as described above, the reader really needs exposure to the prior entries in the series to get the full effect of the novel.  The novel does not stand on its own.  As a separate plot flaw, our protagonist, Murderbot, still isn't wearing armor despite several entries in the series where a little armor would have been very helpful.  While Murderbot is continuing to develop in other areas, they simply haven't learned that part of their old existence, the wearing of armor, might continue to be useful from time to time in their new existence.  Again, if this were 2022, then I'd probably put this below No Award despite finding it to be a very enjoyable book.

No Award - this should be self-explanatory.

The Relentless Moon is the third entry in the Lady Astronauts series by Mary Robinette Kowal.  It continues the tradition of heavy-handed virtue signaling.  The reader is to take but one message from the book and no enjoyment of the book is to be permitted unless that message is received and accepted as gospel truth.  Also, the story involves a level of trust in the competence of the United Nations that has never been justified in the entire history of that clubhouse for national chief executives.  I noped out of this one early.

I am not mentioning The City We Became at all on my ballot.  The book began with a reference to the demonstrably false narrative that modern police in the US kill black men willy nilly without repercussions.  The facts do not support that narrative.  The facts do support a long-overdue national conversation about how police interact with all of our citizens.  The facts do support changing police culture so that Americans that are black are treated with the same level of trust and respect as all other Americans receive.  But no rational reading of the current statistics regarding people killed by the police justifies the narrative that the police are routinely killing American black citizens.  Shortly thereafter, the author included a signal that she doesn't care for white people to read her book.  I accepted her racist language on its face value and promptly gave it the Dorothy Parker treatment.  I rarely regret purchasing a Hugo Best Novel nominated work.  This is one such exception.

Interesting News - 6/7/2021


Posted on : 6/13/2021 09:15:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

 Another weekly roundup.  Enjoy!

Funny how things worked out; A Dry Bones comic.  Not haha funny.  The other funny.

Interesting News 5/31/2021


Posted on : 6/06/2021 09:01:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

The continuing hatred for Tim Tebow mystifies me as well.  He has done nothing to deserve it.

Requiring positive identification isn't a controversial process in Europe.  It should not be controversial in the United States either.

Democrat Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton may not have gotten the memo from the DNC.  But gender is not supposed to matter according to some.  Common sense and human history suggest that it does.

Old but still relevant.  Evergreen, one might say.  Why the Hammer and Sickle Should Be Treated Like the Swastika

Early on, people labeled concerns about the Covid/Wuhan virus originating from a laboratory located in China as xenophobic and fundamentally flawed.  Their allegations of xenophobia were wrong when they were made.  We may never have 100% proof of it coming from a lab thanks to the secretive CCP government.  But we should never have allowed the media and their leftist political allies to prevent the reasoned discussion of the lab origin theory.  It's looking more and more like there was some sort of lab accident and the American people were partially funding certain activities at the lab.

An interesting profile of Sen. Tim Scott (R)-SC.  I'm not sure if he will run for the Presidency, but I think he would make a good one.  Scott-Sasse 2024?  Or the other way around.  Either option works for me.


Typery Foreshortened


Posted on : 6/02/2021 02:48:00 PM | By : Dann | In :

 My typed work will be a bit brief over the coming months.  I am recovering from having the link between my scaphoid and lunate reconstructed.  Typing with only one hand encourages brevity but does little for clarity.

Interesting News - 5/24/2021


Posted on : 5/30/2021 09:00:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

This is the second installment of our Interesting News series.  Enjoy!

Sinfest 5/22/2021 - Tatsuya nails it in one!

Excessive TV rots the brain and the body.  TV time may be a proxy for just being sedentary.  In either case, go for a walk, do something that requires actual thought and action to maintain your health.

Matt (or Mat - I'm not sure) is someone that I have been following (on and off) for several years.  It turns out that he has an affinity for numbers (hence his handle "Polimath") and a talent for data formatting and presentation.  He has had a productive year analyzing Covid numbers.  In his latest from Substack, he challenges people to not believe stories that are too good to be true.  In this case, the media narrative that the D or R behind a state governor's name is not a useful proxy for evaluating Covid related public policies.