A Peek into the World My Grandmother Grew Up In

This morning, I was browsing through the email of headlines that I receive from the New York Times every morning.

Mostly I just read the headline, and sometimes the tagline, but usually there’s one or two or three that I will click on to read a little more. Occasionally, I will read the whole article.

There was one such today: “Found Footage Offers a New Glimpse at 1906 San Francisco Earthquake: Nine minutes of newly found footage, restored from an aging film reel that was revealed publicly this weekend, shows the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated San Francisco in 1906.”

My mother’s mother was born in San Francisco in October 1891. When the earthquake hit in April 1906, she was 14-1/2 years old.

Towards the end of the article, it ways, “The recovered film was shown publicly for the first time this weekend in three sold-out shows at the Edison Theater, a century-old venue restored by the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum [in Fremont, California], where Mr. Kiehn is a film historian. The movie will be played again in early June at the 1,400-seat Castro Theater during the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

“Mr. Wright said he plans to post at least some of the video online and will keep an archival copy for himself and share another with the Library of Congress.”

Several paragraphs into the article, there is a link to a video, of an 8-1/2 minute silent film shot just a few days BEFORE the earthquake by the same outfit that filmed the post-earthquake footage.

silent film 1

At first, it seemed kind of monotonous. There’s no sound (obviously), and it seems there’s just a whole lot of random activity.

But after a couple of minutes, it became weirdly hypnotic. It is still random, but somehow fascinating.

It must have been shot from the front of a cable car. You can see the tracks in front of the camera, and there is another set of tracks to the left along which other cable cars move in a steady procession in the opposite direction.

silent film 2

Throughout the film, pedestrians jaywalk . . .

. . . and horse-drawn wagons, and automobiles veer in and out of the frame, crisscrossing left to right and right to left.


At one point, a boy runs along ahead of the cable car.

silent 11

As the film progresses, the Ferry Building straight ahead comes into clearer view. About halfway through, an electric trolley rolls through.

silent 17

Toward the end, a couple of multi-passenger conveyances drawn by two horse come into view.

silent 5

The film ends when the cable car reaches the turnaround at the end of the line and gets ready to head back the way it came.

silent 18

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The Sweater at the End of the Tunnel

It’s been almost three years since I purchased the kit to make this sweater.

Ana sweater

I last posted about it in November 2016.

After joining the side seams, it sat for awhile. A few months ago, I knit the ribbing for the sleeves.

Then it sat some more.

Last weekend, I picked it up again to knit the ribbing for the bottom band.

purple sweater

To get a nice bind-off on the ribbing, I consulted by big book of cast ons and bind offs. In the index, it’s listed as an elastic bind off, but I found that to be not-so-true. So I’m just binding off pretty loosely.

After the bottom band is done, then I will knit the front and back top bands, sew the side seams, and I’ll be done.

It should only take another year or two . . .

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My Favorite Fabric

I bought this fabric back in the late ’80s, I think.

favorite fabric

I don’t remember how much I bought, maybe a yard or two. There’s not much left — just two pieces, one about 9″ x 20″, the other about 5-1/2″ x 7″.

I bought it, along with some other fabric, to make a sampler quilt. I did make a number of blocks. I may have sewn them together into a top, but I’m not sure.

Even though I really liked this fabric — and still do — I wasn’t thrilled with the blocks. This was early in my quiltmaking, and I think that the other fabrics I chose for the blocks weren’t a good fit, or I hadn’t used this fabric to best effect.

Eventually, I donated the blocks to a quilt group to make into a quilt for charity.

But every time I sift through my bin of floral prints, this one never fails to catch my eye.

I cut into it sparingly. This weekend, I cut out some hexagons and half-hexagons for a Grandmother’s Flower Garden block.




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My New Obsession Part 2

I am so into English paper piecing!

Here’s what I’ve done so far.

Plus I’ve prepped the pieces for 3 or 4 more, which involves cutting out the hexagons or half-hexagons and gluing them to the paper templates.

It’s fun going through my bin of floral fabrics, and picking out complementary pairs. Sometimes, there’s not enough to make a whole rosette. So then I will just make a half rosette, because I will need some of those too.

I keep my thread, snips, and the pieces I’m currently sewing together in the kitchen. It’s so convenient to work on them while my husband makes dinner, or while I’m waiting for him to text me that he’s on the bus and it’s time for me to drive over to pick him up at the transit center.

I’ve also been working on them while binge-watching episodes, starting from the beginning, of “How I Met Your Mother” or the current season of “Grace and Frankie” on my iPad.

Last week, I had a couple days off in a row, and it was very rainy, and I didn’t have any freelance work to otherwise occupy my time, and I might have overdone it. Since then, my left index finger has been a little twingy from gripping the pieces.

To help remedy the problem, I’ve been wearing on my left thumb and index finger these little finger splints that I purchased in 2014, originally to wear when I hand-quilt.

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Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect

On Christmas Eve Day, my husband and I went downtown to see this exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum.

Even if you don’t know who Andrew Wyeth is, you probably have seen an image of “Christina’s World,” commonly seen in college dorm rooms, including mine back in 1977.


This was not included in the exhibit, except as a small photo on one of the explanatory placards for another painting.

The exhibit did, however, include another iconic painting, “Braids.”


Many, if not most, of the pieces in the exhibit were meticulously rendered in egg tempera, and featured muted palettes of earth tones. Even when Wyeth did incorporate some color outside this range, they tended to be pale, as in the pink of Christina’s dress in “Christina’s World.”

Two paintings that employed more vibrant colors were “Snow Hill” and “Garret Room,” with the bright ribbons on the former and the patchwork quilt in the latter.

One aspect of the paintings that is difficult, if not impossible, to capture in a photograph is how Wyeth paints fine details such as grass and hair.

When I peered closely at “Trodden Weed,” the blades of grass are communicated not so much by individual strokes of color, but rather the texture created by the individual hairs in the artist’s brush stroking through the paint on the hardboard panel.


Like I said, hard to capture in a photograph. You really need to be able to get up close and see the small shadows cast by the brushstrokes.

A couple Wyeth’s early watercolors were included, sharply contrasting with the painting style for which he is most well known.

wyeth watercolor

“Coming Storm”

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My New Obsession

I first tried my hand at English paper piecing a little more than a year ago, and discovered that I really enjoyed it.

After completing this sampler quilt, for which I did a fair bit of hand piecing, I decided it would be fun to make some Grandmother’s Flower Garden blocks to use up some of the floral prints from my stash.


I’m using purchased hexagon templates, which measure just over 2-1/2″ from side to side. The resulting unit measures about 13″ across — a pretty respectable size.

I have figured out that my stitches can be — should be — very tiny — just one or two threads from each hexagon.


Any more than that, and the stitches are too obvious from the front.


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No Spark of Joy

Yesterday, we cleared out the little closet in our kitchen that we call the pantry, disposed of some items that were well past their “best-used-by” date, and put the rest back in a more organized manner.

It was kind of amazing how much space we freed up by getting rid of some foodstuffs that we were obviously never going to use or eat, such as a box of Softasilk cake flour and a half-full tin of McCann’s steel cut oats.

Among other things that we pulled out was a tray with three (of an original four) plastic containers that had belonged to my mother.

3 containers 2

I remember these from my childhood, and she probably continued to use them until she moved out of the retirement cottage she and my dad had lived in after they sold their house, and she no longer kept her own kitchen.

Her refrigerator was always so organized. She always knew exactly where everything was — a place for everything and everything in its place.

I am like her in some ways, but definitely not this. There is some consistency to where things are placed in my refrigerator; for instance, the milk is always on the middle shelf on the right, the eggs are always just below them on the bottom shelf, the lettuce is always in the right-hand crisper drawer, and the cheese lives in the cheese drawer (mostly).

Other than that, anything else could be anywhere, and where it was yesterday may not be where it is today.

I just put things wherever there is room.

I can’t say now why I acquired these containers. I suppose it was with the idea that I might use them.

Which I never did.

Now, I don’t think I want to. The plastic has, with age, developed a kind of unpleasant stickiness.

On the bottom are stamped the words:

Reliance Ware

Freezer-Refrigerator Container

Reliance Molded Plastics Inc.

Pawtucket, R.I.


A Google search turned up no such company still existing.

However, I did find this patent application for a safety pin design.

I’m a long way from being a convert to the KonMari method of decluttering, but I think I can bid farewell to these well-used containers and send them on their way.





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