STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, photographer, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On My Bookshelf...

Have you read any good books lately? I always have a book on the go, always. I read every night (in bed, usually) before I turn out the light, even if only for 10 minutes.. but usually an hour at least. It relaxes me and helps me forget the stresses of the day. I keep an ever growing list of books I want to read and am always open to suggestions, if you have any.
Today's review is brief, as is the book. Sold by Zana Muhsen is a true account of modern slavery. When she was fifteen, Zana and her younger sister Nadia who were born and raised in Birmingham England, were told by their father (a Yemeni) that he was sending them on a six week vacation to Yemen so they could get to know his family better. What sounded like a wonderful vacation trip quickly turned into a nightmare and it didn't take the girls long to figure out their father had literally sold them into marriage and they were helpless prisoners. They had to adapt to their tragic fate and a very foreign way of life where women have absolutely no rights, living lives of servitude. They lived in very primitive conditions and endured rape, beatings and childbirth with no modern "assistance". After 8 years of living this nightmare, Zana managed to escape, leaving her younger sister and children behind. Without giving away any more of the story, I will say it was a captivating read. The best written book ever? No. A heart-wrenching story? Yes. It opens your eyes to what women in such male-dominated cultures endure in their daily lives of  such a wretched existence. It's a quick and easy read, and it makes one appreciate what a wonderful life we have, living in North America where we take for granted such things as running water and electricity, anaesthetics, contraception and medical care. Others are not so fortunate.
I have just finished reading The Clifton Chronicles by Jeffrey Archer, all five of them. That will be my next review. I'm currently reading A Higher Call by Adam Makos, a true WWII story. What are you reading these days?


"Maybe Heaven will be a library. Then I will be able to finish my to-read list." ~ Kellie Elmore

Monday, June 29, 2015

On the Edge... and in the Garden....

We're on the edge... of summer! Technically summer arrived over a week ago. On the calendar. But we're still waiting for "summer weather." Summer temps... sunshine... you know, the lazy hazy crazy days of summer... We're waiting...   on the edge..    the brink..   the cusp...  But we continue to have overcast grey days, and lots of rain. After the winter we had, and the long cool spring, I was really hoping for a nice summer. Still waiting... Could someone please check and see if Mother Nature got the memo that summer started a week ago...?

This is how things look around the hosta garden today. Yup, lots of water drops...

My large hosta bed across the front of the house is one of my favourite "subjects" especially after a rain (or maybe I should say days of rain...?) Anyway, they were covered in water droplets today. The droplets are like beads scattered, and roll as easily as beads of mercury... I can imagine the fairies, bowling with them...

With all the rain we've had, plants are growing at an amazing rate, and buds are sprouting up earlier than usual. Many hostas are already budding, as are the echinacea, filipendula and many others.

Up next, On My Bookshelf...


God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done.  (Okay, the housework is done! Bring on the sun....)

Saturday, June 20, 2015


If you are local, and looking for something to do this evening, I have a suggestion. Get yourself up to FHS before 7:30pm and buy a ticket at the door for eXpendable at the Tom Morrison Theatre. It is a musical, conceived, written and directed by local playwright Joanna Doak of Chameleon Jo Productions. It features a cast of local very talented young adults, all with good strong voices and a good deal of experience on the stage, one of the strongest casts I have seen in a long while, short of Broadway.
Now I do have to warn you, this is not a show for children. Cinderella it is not. The subject matter is mature, and not what one would call "pleasant or humourous." It deals with the subject of sex trafficking. Yes, we're all aware that sex trafficking exists.. we've heard of it in Thailand, or India, or Las Vegas. But it happens much closer to home than you would care to think. Young girls are taken from the streets of Maritime cities too... Halifax, Moncton, and yes even Fredericton. They are put on a circuit, and moved frequently so they are difficult to find. American stats tell us that sex trafficking is a $32 billion dollar a year industry in the U.S. victimizing between 300,000 and 400,000 American children every year. It is estimated there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, and 5.5 million of those are children. It's been proven that whenever and wherever there are large sporting events such a SuperBowl, the demand goes up.
The eXpendable storyline is fictional, but the characters represent stories that are very real. The cast do an amazing job of portraying very believable characters and you cannot help but become emotionally invested in their situation. (I will tell you there is no actual violence in the show, no one is harmed, but the suggestion of assault certainly is there...) This is not an easy show to perform, I'm sure. It is challenging and emotional, as well as being educational. We have a great deal of talent in our city; I know several of the actors and am so very proud of all of them. Actually I know one very well- she is my sweet young great-niece, Mallory. The youngest in the cast at 17, she plays a very convincing role as Lily, an innocent 14 year old who has just been coerced into the sex trade world. It was not easy to watch her be drawn into this world of control, abuse and assault. I admit I much preferred her previous roles as Ariel in the Little Mermaid and Belle in Beauty and the Beast. But we don't live in a Disneyland world, do we, we live in a real world where sex trafficking is a fact. I know her parents struggled with whether to let her participate in this project, and difficult as it was to watch her play this role on stage, it has been good for her, and I'm sure has opened her eyes to some of the harsh realities of life, good preparation for leaving home and heading off to university in another year. She is becoming a very good actress, clearly conveying her feelings with her facial expressions and body language before she even opens her mouth to share her wonderful voice. The years of training with voice lessons, TNB and school musicals is paying off...
After tonight's performance, the cast prepare to take this show to Ontario next week. Good timing with the Pan Am Games coming to Toronto soon... They will be doing two performances in Toronto, and one each in Hamilton and Welland. They still need to raise more money to cover their costs, so why not get yourself up to FHS tonight and take in the show. You will be amazed and impressed with the talent, I promise. And you will leave the theatre a different person.


"You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know."
~William Wilberforce

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Hurrier I Go...

Have you ever heard the old Pennsylvania Dutch saying "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get..."? Well that seems to be me these days. Life continues to be crazy busy and I am having trouble accomplishing what I want to get done... Tuesday, our driveway was completed, with fresh asphalt, so at least that is now done. Yesterday our sewer line had to be dug up, and some pipes replaced. So now that is crossed off the list... I also just found out an aunt in Ontario passed away, and that my aunt who lives in Idaho is not in very good shape. I sure wish she was closer so I could be of more help.
I finally got the rest of my bedding plants into the ground this week, so I guess I am making some progress. My vegetable garden is all up... and Mr. Resident Groundhog has already found it.. he has chewed off one cucumber hill (3 plants)...grrrr... He has avoided the trap so far (but we did catch one frisky squirrel!)
I spent most of last weekend inside... not where I wanted to be. The weather was beautiful and I really wanted to be outdoors working in the garden. However, on Friday night we seemed to be suddenly invaded by tiny ants. Yep, the ants came marching... ten by ten it seemed! So I spent a good part of both Saturday and Sunday cleaning kitchen cupboards and trying to figure out how/where they were getting in. (Never did solve that mystery.) I did however find two rogue Honey Nut Cheerios spilled in the cereal cupboard and let me tell you, the ants were all over them! Literally. All over them. So I made fast work of that... Anyway I now have very clean cupboards and the issue appears to be much better.. I hesitate to say "solved" or "cured".. don't want to jinx it!! Hubby spread some borax and sugar solution along the kitchen exterior wall/foundation and that seems to have helped considerably.
Greens of every shade, from lime and olive to teal and emerald...

On the sewing front, there hasn't been a lot happening. I have been cutting (for a while now) 2" and 2.5" squares for a scrap quilt that a friend and I are both doing. We are sharing our fabrics for more variety; the colors are greens and blues and various lights. I love the combo of green and blue. Hubby commented that he thought it was a bit strange and I replied, "it's the colours of nature- the blue sky and the green earth." I do have a small project underway that I will share with you when the time is right... just not yet.

That's all for now. The next few days will be busy as I prepare for company next week - darling daughter is coming home for a visit. Insert big smile here....


"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like." ~ Lao Tzu

Monday, June 15, 2015

A New Bulb Favourite

I feel a bit behind in the garden, but maybe I'm not the only one... Look at what is currently blooming. The tag says "Flowering Period: April-May". Well maybe it blooms somewhere in April or May, but in my garden it's blooming in mid-June. I planted these new little bulbs two falls ago, and last year I got foliage but no blooms.
To my delight this year I have five stalks of these darling little nodding bells! Aren't they just the sweetest? Their proper name is Hyacinthoides (which means hyacinth-like) but they are also commonly known as Spanish Bluebells or Wood Hyacinth. The stalks are about 16" high, and each little bell is less than 3/4"long.
I am so pleased with them, I hope they multiply quickly. I can see myself buying more of these in the fall ... I'm quite sure I can find another spot to tuck in a few more small bulbs...  ♥♥♥


"A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust." ~ Gertrude Jekyll

Sunday, June 14, 2015

From My Bookshelf

I'm behind on my book reviews (like everything else!) so it's time for another...
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, set in coastal Maine in 2011, is the story of two unlikely friends, Vivian, a wealthy ninety-one year old and Molly a seventeen year old foster child. Both have been shuffled from home to home; Molly in over a dozen foster care placements, and Vivian, years ago as a poor Irish immigrant from the streets of New York City on an orphan train to the midwest.
Molly is seventeen and soon to be too old for foster care; after attempting to steal a school library book, she is given fifty hours of community service. Molly is not on the best of terms with her current foster mother and is afraid of being sent back into the "system". Her boyfriend's mother cleans house for a senior (Vivian) and when she suggests that Molly could work off her hours by helping clean out the old lady's attic, Molly reluctantly agrees.
It's not long before Molly becomes enthralled with Vivian's story of her younger years, and begins to see the parallels with her own, realizing they have much in common. Vivian's childhood was heart-wrenching. After immigrating to New York City from Ireland, and losing her entire family in a fire, she is turned over to a children's charity who put her on an orphan train to Minnesota. There she endures abuse, neglect and is overworked, treated basically as slave labour, as she passes through several "homes" (and I use that term very loosely) in her quest for a loving family. I won't give away any more of the story, but suffice it to say this was a compelling read.
I knew nothing of the orphan trains, which existed between 1854-1929. Children were told they were lucky to be on the train, to have a chance at a much better life, a good wholesome life in the fresh country air. Reality was often quite different, as many children were abused and treated as little more than farm labourers/slaves. "Prospective parents" met the train at the station, looking for a child to adopt (older boys were usually the first to be selected.) The child could be taken for a ninety day free trial period, and then "adopted" (more like indentured servitude, I'd say) or returned if found unsuitable.  A short history of the real orphan trains, complete with photographs, follows the acknowledgements at the end. I was surprised to learn that more than 200,000 orphaned, abandoned and homeless children were transported on these trains. A sad and little known piece of history.
Orphan Train is a good solid read, a compelling story that you cannot help but feel emotionally invested in. Both Vivian and Molly are strong well developed characters and the author has done an impressive job of knitting their lives, past and present, together. The ending is heart-warming. Kline has written a fine piece of historical fiction. I'll be looking for more of her writing.


Every book contains a life. The more we read, the more we live.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

In the Pink....

There have been far too many busy days around here lately.. and not enough time for blogging! There have also been far too many rainy days. This entire week has been rainy and dreary. Short bursts of sunshine are short-lived as the clouds roll back in... Currently we have a "severe thunderstorm watch" in place. Lovely!  I have managed to get my vegetable garden planted, although I'm wondering if some of the seeds have been washed away... The planters and hanging baskets are all done and in place. I've even planted an herb "garden" this year - in a planter. I have tried herbs in-ground previously and quickly learned that all I was doing was feeding the earwigs. So this year I have planted basil, oregano, dill, mint and parsley in a pedestal planter and placed it on my deck where I can quickly go out and snip off something fresh at suppertime for a salad or whatever. We'll see how it goes.. if I find that the earwigs have discovered it, I'll wage war!!
With all the rain, my perennials are growing like crazy- faster than I would wish. I have not got my plant supports on the ones which grow quite tall.. if it doesn't get done in the next day or two, they'll be too big for me to "handle". (Note to self- get that done today, in between the showers...)

We seem to go through a pink and then a purple phase here at this time of year.. the bleeding heart is still blooming although it is reaching it's end.

My heucherella is in full bloom. I love its delicate little spears of beauty, especially against the bright green of the hostas....

The weigela has just come into full bloom in the last two days... the bees love it!

My rhododendron is just beginning to blossom.

The poppies will be next, along with the deep purple iris....

Ahhhh... spring in the garden....

More excitement (and noise) around here today.. our driveway is being re-done. Part will simply be re-surfaced and a larger portion will be replaced. So this morning we've been listening to saws making cuts and the excavator digging out the old asphalt. At the same time, my nephew has been busy with a chainsaw removing several large tree limbs which needed to come down. Oliver is not impressed... all this racket is disturbing his naptime!! Don't worry Ollie, it will soon be over...


Weather is a great metaphor for life - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and there' nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella or choose to dance in the rain! ~ Terri Guillemets

Thursday, June 4, 2015

We Have a Winner!

Thank you to all who entered my "Celebrating 1000 Posts" giveaway.  62 people left comments.  :)
To be fair, each person got one entry in the draw; several people left two comments, but their name went in the hat once, like everyone else.
I wrote out each entrants name and put them in a hat... okay it was a bowl...

and a name was drawn....

and it was.....

drumroll please................................

Sheila from Sheila's Quilt World!!  Congratulations Sheila!  I have emailed you and am waiting to hear from you....


In the end we only regret the chances we didn't take...

Monday, June 1, 2015

Blossom Time

After such a long cool spring, things are now growing and blooming faster than I can keep up with. Last week's apple blossoms are now fallen and those that remain on the tree are withered and brown. I wish they lasted longer. Thursday's severe storm pretty much ended their fragile beauty. I'm lucky I did get some memories photos earlier in the week and their sweet scent still lingers in my mind. I wish I could somehow make these photos "scratch and sniff" so you too could enjoy their lovely fragrance... sweeter than lilacs in my opinion... but then again I could be a bit partial...

I want to share with you one of my favourite poems about apple blossoms, written by Horatio Alger.


I sit in the shadow of apple-boughs,
In the fragrant orchard close,
And around me floats the scented air,
With its wave-like tidal flows.
I close my eyes in a dreamy bliss,
And call no king my peer;
For is not this the rare, sweet time,
The blossoming time of the year?

I lie on a couch of downy grass,
With delicate blossoms strewn,
And I feel the throb of Nature's heart
Responsive to my own.
Oh, the world is fair, and God is good,
That maketh life so dear;
For is not this the rare, sweet time,
The blossoming time of the year?

I can see, through the rifts of the apple-boughs,
The delicate blue of the sky,
And the changing clouds with their marvellous tints
That drift so lazily by.
And strange, sweet thoughts sing through my brain,
And Heaven, it seemeth near;
Oh, is it not a rare, sweet time,
The blossoming time of the year?

~Horatio Alger

I am linking up with Judith at Lavender Cottage for Mosaic Monday. Be sure to pop over to enjoy more wonderful mosaics. 
And lastly, I am celebrating reaching 1000 posts, so if you'd like to enter my Giveaway, click here and leave a comment. 


The apple blossoms’ shower of pearl,
  Though blent with rosier hue,
As beautiful as woman’s blush,
  As evanescent too.
        L. E. Landon—Apple Blossoms.
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