Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pink and brown blocks

To the left is last week's block for the "Virtual Bee" I'm participating in. Each block is 6" so by the end of the year, I'll have a nice little quilt. There were a few pieces left after I made this block, so I made another.

This week's block is called "Darting Birds" - it's week 22. Amazing that the year is nearly half over.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Thursday night, at about 9, toward the end of a particularly bad thunderstorm, we had a call to come down to the Old Labor Hall (brick building at right) because the basement was filling up with water. The business district along Main St. was closed off, so we had to travel via back streets. Just past Capital Candy, I debated about driving through a huge puddle, but with a fire truck and police car further down the street, I decided to brave it. The Granite St. bridge was closed, but Paul asked the officer if we could go over to get to the OLH. We parked just beyond it and saw a huge lake covering the OLH/Pepin Granite parking lot and Granite St.

The lights were on, though, and Chet and Karen were there putting together electronic equipment for the concert Saturday night. After a while, Mike and Tess appeared, followed by some other neighbors. One had a sump pump which we put down in the basement. The water was at the top of the bottom step and pouring in. We left at about 10:30, again going over back streets.

At about 1:30 am, Chris called from Montpelier to say that people living downtown were being evacuated. He is about 3 blocks from Main St. and one block from the Winooski River which was 3 ft. above flood stage. I told him to come on over but to take the high roads. Then I went back to sleep. In the morning, he wasn't here, and apparently when he tried to get to Barre, he found most of the roads under water so he turned back. His place wasn't flooded, thank goodness. Thurs. night 50 people stayed in a shelter in Montpelier and 100 in Barre.

Fri. morning, there was 5 ft. of water in the basement of the OLH - affecting the restrooms, elevator, furnace, and elderly refrigerator (which must be dead by now). The sump pump was trying valiantly but couldn't handle it all. In late afternoon a fire truck from another town came to pump the basement out. Main St. was passable but Granite St. was still a lake. I am so glad I persuaded Paul to buy those tall rubber boots last year!

The concert, planned for tonight, is still going on, but at the Barre Opera House which has generously allowed the use of the space. The historical society will have to pay for a sound technician and a custodian. 75 singers are coming up from Boston, and many are staying in area hotels and motels. We cancelled the Sunday brunch at the OLH, though. Restaurants downtown appear to be closed, so I'm not sure what we'll do about food. We had planned to have two singers stay here, but I am preparing myself to have a few more. And this morning I made a couple of salads, just in case.

Haven't talked to Chris this morning, but I imagine he is staying put. I did hear from the community garden people, and many of our gardens, including the one I just planted Wed., were washed away. I'll go down and check out the damage tomorrow. Right now I'm staying close to the phone to answer questions about the concert. This is definitely an "interesting" time, but I'm really feeling lucky that we live up on a hill and still have power and water.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Busy here and there

This morning's sun turned to angry clouds and then it started raining, just after lunch when I was planning to go downtown to my garden plot. I even had the tomatoes and basil all ready to put into the car. Guess I'll wait til tomorrow.

Yesterday, Paul and I made a self-watering planter for a cherry tomato plant. It required only one trip to the hardware store because I already had two large white plastic buckets that my friend and former neighbor Lori got from Ben & Jerry's. One sits inside the other, with a "wick" (a former ricotta container) inside. The top bucket and the wick have holes punched in them for bringing the moisture up to the plant. There's a piece of plastic pipe (that's what I got from the hardware store) that one uses to fill the reservoir below. Today, I received the latest issue of Sunset magazine which has directions using a nicer plastic pot. While they aren't decorative, the ice cream buckets should work just as well. I'll take a picture if it ever stops raining. Yesterday I also bought some impatiens for my flower boxes out front and some pink geraniums and lobelia for a pot for Mildred's grave. They look very pretty together.

This morning I put together another raffle basket for the library, featuring two new, autographed copies of books by Barre authors Russell Ashe and Russell Belding. Ashe is a firefighter whose crusade for upgraded fire detectors led to a change in the building code. His book is The Fire that Changed Everything. Belding's book is Hidden History of Barre, Vermont, and includes tidbits from various newspapers from the city's growth period - the late 1800's to early 20th Century. Along with the books are some historical notecards, a historical poster, a gift certificate to the Bag Ladies Cafe, and a gift certificate for a free car inspection from AJ's Sunoco. Best of all, there's a Live Free or Pie t-shirt from the Wayside Restaurant. Drawing will be July 27 after Russell Ashe's talk at the library - I'll ask him to do the honors.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rain and more rain

These Green Mountains are sure living up to their name as things green up more and more due to the incessant rain we've been having. The sun peeked out for just a minute this morning before hiding again. Still, the grass is growing apace! I am dying to get outside and do a little planting, both around the condo and in my space in the community gardens. My planters are lining the driveway soaking up rain, and I plan to take one back to the porch later and plant it with lettuce. I do have a soggy hanging set of petunias outside already. Just need a shot of color!

Meanwhile, I've been sewing quite a bit. Yesterday, I got ready to do a brief demo on trapunto for our guild meeting last night. I took a very old UFO apart (it's been moved twice!) to see if I could do a little trapunto to improve it. A few days ago, I made this tote out of a block I made last winter in my black, white, and red phase. It was a sample for the applique class I taught, and I also have a similar block in batiks and one in 1930's prints. Thought it was time to move at least one out the door as a gift!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Favorites from the Quilt Show

Here are a few of my favorite quilts from the Central Vermont Quilt Show this past weekend.

Scrap Baskets and an interesting log cabin are both by Yvonne Isabelle. Scrap Baskets was hand quilted. The machine quilting on the log cabin was amazing. It included pine cones, ducks, and cattails.

My Favorite Things by Diane Fielder was machine quilted by my friend Mary. Diane included buttons and hand embroidery for a very sweet quilt. In real life, it's much brighter and sunnier.

This very elegant quilt, Quilt Village by Marie Fortier, will be featured in the Vermont Quilt Festival this summer. It won the Viewers' Choice Award in the large quilt category. There is a great deal of hand quilting as well as embroidery and applique. Truly a labor of love!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Primo Maggio!

We had a wonderful weekend, celebrating Primo Maggio (May 1) at the Old Labor Hall. The Barre Historical Society sponsored two events that drew crowds each evening, and we were lucky enough to make some new friends. The weather couldn't have been more cooperative, showing Vermont's beautiful early greening.

Saturday morning Paul and Chris joined a group at the hall to set up for Saturday night's film and Sunday's Italian banquet. Meanwhile, I attended the opening the community gardens where I did a few preliminaries to my plot which is the same as last year's. I also signed up to be on the garden committee with my former neighbor Lori. Then I headed over to the hall myself to help set up chairs. Anticipating a crowd, we formed a human chain to move the clunky old folding chairs up from the basement.

Later in the day, filmmakers Gianfranco Norelli and his wife Suma Kurien arrived from New York and, after settling into our guest room/sewing room, we went down to Lucia's to meet other BHS members for an early dinner. We met Mary Anne Trasciati, Saturday night's speaker, and her friend Paulette in the parking lot where they unfortunately had had a flat tire on their rental car. Paul tried to change the tire but the flimsey jack collapsed. Avis promised to send someone to change it, so after we ate, I waited with Paulette until Kyle from Tunbridge arrived and put on the "donut." When we got to the hall, the film, Pane Amaro (Bitter Bread), was just starting to an audience of about 150 people. This was ten times what I had anticipated, so I was thrilled. The reception was positive and questions for Gianfranco and Suma afterwards were thoughtful.

Sunday morning, we drove out to East Calais for brunch with Chet and Karen. The weather couldn't have been more beautiful, with everything beginning to green up. All of the out-of-towners went to Hope Cemetery for an in-depth tour with sculptor Giuliano Cecchinelli who, they said, was just great. We had just enough time to freshen up before heading back to the hall for the banquet prepared by the men ofthe Mutuo Succorso Society and attended by about 200, many of whom stayed afterwards to help put away chairs and tables.

Over dinner, we got some insight into the process of putting together a historical documentary. Gianfranco won my heart by saying that filmmaking is much like putting together a quilt - you arrange and rearrange all the pieces and also insert pieces for transition until you are satisfied. After the whole work is done, he said, you may see things you might have changed but by then you have moved on to another work. Isn't this just what happens in quiltmaking? I remembered this quilt, Star of Apeldoorn, in which I found a very prominent mistake only years after making and showing it. It is well-loved, however, because it's a memorial to my Tante Jen.

It's funny how easy it is to connect with some people, and we certainly did bond almost instantly with our guests. After a quick Monday morning breakfast, Paul and the Norellis visited a sandblaster and a granite sculptor before they returned to say goodbye. We hope they return sometime, and we will certainly look them up if we are ever in New York. They urged us to consider staying in their apartment in Rome, too, which sounds increibly tempting!