Month: May 2024

The Museum of Lost Quilts Book Review

Elm Creek Quilters

Recently released, The Museum of Lost Quilts is a surprise addition to the Elm Creek Quilters series. According to author Jennifer Chiaverini in her author’s note at the end of the story, the Elm Creek Quilters had at least one more story to tell. But the timeline set forth in a previous novel, The Wedding Quilt did need some minor adjustments.

As someone who did not read the previous book (somehow I missed it) I had no trouble at all with The Museum of Lost Quilts. Indeed, I had not read a novel by Ms. Chiaverini in a while and I am now going to go back to the library and read what I missed.

Summer Sullivan-Lead Quilter in The Museum of Lost Quilts

Summer is the youngest of the original Elm Creek Quilters. When almost finished with her master’s degree thesis she attends a conference where a presenter showcases an almost identical research synopsis. Summer is not only devastated by the other researchers coup, she also becomes unable to complete her work. Thus, she does not graduate on time.

Seeking refuge at Elm Creek Manor, she receives full support from the other quilters. They assure her she can finish by the end of her extension. Furthermore, she is asked to curate a quilt display at the Union Hall downtown. Members of the quilting group as well as the local historical society are desperate to save the old building.

The Museum of Lost Quilts Theme

Chiaverini is known to weave contemporary messages into her novels. In this story, two messages evolve. First, Summer is seeking her purpose in life. A struggle for many in this world. Secondly, the author touches upon the debate of rewriting history in an unusual manner.

Since the novel is taking place back in the early part of the century, it predates much of the re-naming currently occurring in the country. So, Chiaverini stresses the need to remember the past as accurately as possible even if the historical past reflects poorly on the inhabitants of that time.  I fully concur.

Recommendation

This is a library check-out, but I would not mind owning a copy. The characters are well-rounded and it is easy to commiserate with the trials of finishing a graduate degree.  Plus, the book does a wonderful job at reminding one that life and purpose need not be a drudgery. Happiness in one’s work is very important. I highly recommend The Museum of Lost Quilts.

Many Reasons to Read

From Entertainment to Gaining Knowledge

There are many reasons to read ranging from entertainment to gaining knowledge. And there are many types of books, articles and blogs to choose from. Plus, “reading” can be done via listening. Think of young children listening to stories at bedtime.

One of the icebreakers I used at the start of the fall semester was to ask each student what book they read most recently. Occasionally, a student would not have read a book just for fun in many years. Others were clearly readers for entertainment purposes. I found a strong correlation between students who read for fun and those students who gained much from the texts used in the classroom. (This was before the push to eliminate textbooks.)

My Many Reasons to Read

Regular readers of this blog know one of the key reasons I read is my hope to stave off memory loss. In 2013 I realized my mom was having memory issues because she could not finish any fiction books. So, this spring when I kept returning library books partially read, I became concerned.

Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. After struggling with new releases, I borrowed paperbacks from a family member. Two were by often read author David Baldacci and a third was a Stuart Woods. All three were read in timely fashion. They were fun reads.

Knowledge comes from reading. One is never too old to learn. Although I will admit learning about new technologies is difficult. Wrapping my brain around AI is one example. But the knowledge gained aids in investment decision making. Actually, in any decision making.

Reading Formats

Hardcover books are my preference. Paperbacks tend to have a smaller font. Online reading causes eyestrain for me. Even when reading with the blue light lenses. However, many of my family members prefer to read online. Everything from the newspaper to the latest beach read can be found online.

Of the many reasons to read online, convenience is at the top of the list. The Libby app allows you to check-out books online in less than the time needed to drive to the local library. As a bonus, library fines are non-existent as the app automatically returns the book on the due date.

Converting Non-Readers into Readers

Mastering reading is one of the most important tools for life. However, reading does not come easy for everyone. When working with children, it is important to find a genre that encourages the skill. The same holds true for adults.

Then, once a mastery of reading is complete reading across genres and delivery methods provides everything from entertainment to a gain in knowledge. These many reasons to read develop well-rounded, intelligent and thoughtful members of society. We need more readers in this world to produce the critical thinking that keeps the negatives of history from repeating.

I challenge each of you to read for at least an hour this weekend.

Willow Book Review

Coloring Outside the Lines

Willow, a delightful children’s story is penned by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan and illustrated by Cyd Moore. The book is perfect to read aloud to pre-K and the early grades and will also be a favorite of kids who have mastered reading.

The story brings multiple messages to the audience. Creativity is front and center. But kindness and acceptance are woven in as key elements.

Willow the Main Character

Even free-spirited Willow gets the shivers from dour art teacher Miss Hawthorn from time to time. However, Willow loves art. So, nothing and nobody keeps her from expressing herself. She uses her favorite art history book as her back-up.

Unfortunately, the rest of the kids in the classroom adhere to the strict dictates of their art teacher. Of course this creates a uniformity in the art room. Not what one would like to see in a subject based on creativity.

Kindness and Acceptance

Willow is not only creative; she is also kind. At Christmas time she gifts her beloved art book to Miss Hawthorn. The book is the only present the stern teacher receives. And the gesture of acceptance has a profound affect.

Miss Hawthorne sits in the empty school turning the pages of the well-loved book and a change comes from within. By the time the kids return after the Christmas break a major change has taken place.

Recommendation for Willow

Willow was released in 2008 by Sleeping Bear Press, a favorite publisher. The authors wrote a wonderful story. One that encompasses individuality, acceptance and kindness. Art is a subject that calls for individualism and self-expression. Grapes can be green or purple and apples can be blue.

Cyd Moore divinely illustrates the transformation of Miss Hawthorne. And her classroom. I loved the creativity of the story book pictures. Moore conveys the words of Brennan and Brennan-Nelson with ease and expertise.

This book is a great gift. I highly recommend.

Blowin’ in the Wind

Spring Weather

This time of year, everything is blowin’ in the wind. Dirt and pollen and pollen and dirt. And that’s just the normal wind. Unfortunately, spring weather also brings in tornadic activity. So, now is time to review some emergency preparedness. Here on the high plains one of the greatest dangers is blowing dirt. Farmers, just like other occupations range in abilities. Fortunately, good stewards of the land incorporate practices to keep fields from blowin’ in the wind. For example, farmers can leave stubble and plant cover crops.

No Till Farming

Long ago, leaving stubble in the field was considered lazy. Now the technique is known as no till and actually has many benefits. Edward H. Faulkner posited the theory in his work Plowman’s Folly released in 1943. Thus, the text is a reaction to the Dust Bowl Days of the 1930s. Tillage is thought to be a main contributor to loss of topsoil. And loss of topsoil means dirt flying through the air.

Blowing dirt is extremely dangerous for those travelling through farm country in the spring. Even Interstate and divided highways can be shut down from loss of visibility due to flying dirt. But most dangerous are the two-lane highways used as alternates. Unfortunately, fatal crashes occur.

Blowin’ in the Wind

Gale force winds not only blow dirt, but also bring down tree branches and entire trees. In turn, the trees can bring down power lines or block roadways. Unfortunately, a repercussion of downed power lines is the potential to spark a wildfire.

Now as a precaution, high winds in areas with trees and above ground power lines translates into electric companies turning off power for hours at a time. When these hours stretch into a day or more, businesses and homeowners suffer consequences. About the only thing you can do about power loss is to have a back-up generator.

Tornadic Activity

In my opinion the worst part of the spring season is the tornadoes that epitomize blowin’ in the wind. Entire towns can disappear if the cyclone is wide enough and strong enough. The destruction is incredible. Survivors can be haunted the rest of their lives.

Emergency preparedness measures for tornadoes can be accessed from the FEMA website by clicking here. Keys to preparedness include weather radios, safe rooms, basements and common sense. The funnel cloud I videoed was almost five miles distant and moving away. Any closer and I would not have captured it. If the radio says seek shelter, do it now.

In our county last year, a farm family received a reverse 911 call telling them they were in the bull’s eye of a tornado. They retreated to the basement. After the storm everything was gone. Don’t fool with Mother Nature, seek shelter when you are in the direct path of one of these storms. So, sign up for reverse 911 calls. Even cell phones can receive these messages.

Prepare for More Blowin’ in the Wind

Severe storms go hand in hand with the season. Fortunately, my corner of the world has not revisited the straight line 100 M.P.H. winds from a few years ago…at least so far this year. I am prepared for power outages and debris clean-up from wind damage, are you?