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text 2018-02-12 18:47
No safe spaces
The Mountain Artisans Quilting Book - Alfred Allan Lewis

Commentary, but not a review.  Maybe later.


I purchased my copy of this book at a Friends of the Library sale years and years ago. The price was $1.00.


Yesterday my artists' group held a show at a local restaurant.  Outdoors, in a lovely but very dusty setting where the set-up and take-down is incredibly awkward and difficult and frustrating. 




The weather was perfect, and we had a lively, steady crowd.  Overall, the event was financially rewarding enough for me not to complain too much, other than to say I was completely exhausted by the time it was over and very glad I have no more similar shows until next fall.  Yippee! 


I'll spend most of today unloading the car, washing table covers, and getting ready for our Spring Fling Studio Tour in April.  At least will take place here at my own house.  I can set up over a period of several days and do the same when it's over, rather than having to do everything in a single day.


Most of the customers at these events are wonderful.  They come into our little booths genuinely appreciative of what we do, whether we are "artists" or mere "crafters."  (That distinction is a subject for another post!)  Sometimes they try to bargain on prices, but it's up to the individual vendor whether to go along with it or not.  I personally don't, and most of the time the customers understand.


The few annoying customers come in a variety of techniques.  Some want you to tell them exactly how you do your creative thing, as though they will be able to absorb years of study and practice and failure in a few minutes, then go home and replicate your work.  They can completely monopolize your time, while other customers go unaddressed.  Others want to tell you all about their own art, or their grandmother's.  We even have a few who try to sell their work to us, or who want to know how to get into our shows, or . . . a dozen different ways.


Fortunately, these nuisances are few and far between.  Most of them are easily dispatched, too, with a few pointed words or even a laughing brush off.


Yesterday, however, I had one who was less easily brushed off.  And he was actually more frightening than almost any I've ever encountered before in over 40 years of doing art and craft shows.


He started by complimenting me on my work, saying it was really beautiful.  I thanked him, and said, as I always do, "I have fun with it."


He asked if I did everything myself.  I explained that most of my pieces are made from stones I have gone out into the desert and collected myself, but that I do occasionally buy rough material or slabs at rock shows and estate sales.


He asked if I did all the wire wrapping.  I answered that I did every single bit of it.  I have no helpers.


He was eating a large, crumbly cookie and holding a plastic glass with what looked like iced coffee.  Cookie crumbs were landing on my table covers, and the iced coffee was sloshing enough that I feared he was going to spill it on my jewelry.


At some point in the conversation, some ladies came into the booth.  I greeted them, not just because it's what I do with all potential customers but because I was also trying to subtly hint to the guy with the cookie that this was my place of business and that if he wasn't going to buy something, I had to attend to other people who might.


The ladies didn't buy and soon left.  Did they leave because the guy kept hanging around and blocking their access to part of my merchandise?  I don't know, but since he did keep hanging around and he did block their access, I had to think that might have been at least part of the reason.


After they left, he said again that my jewelry was very beautiful.  Again I thanked him.


And then he said, "And so are you."


I laughed and thanked him again, even though I knew that was the wrong thing to do.  I knew it meant he would stay longer, that he would be encouraged to continue the conversation, that he would think . . . whatever.


But what else was I supposed to do?


Ten or fifteen more minutes passed.  He maintained this kind of conversation no matter how I tried to steer it away.  More customers came in, more customers left.  I began to think they saw me as having a personal conversation with this guy and they were deliberately leaving me alone with him.  More cookie crumbs landed on my table.


He hadn't done anything physical, there were plenty of other artists and customers around that I think they would have come to my aid if he did.  He didn't, and eventually some ladies came in who showed serious interest in a couple of pieces so that I excused myself and turned all my attention to them.  I just literally turned my back on the guy with the cookie. 


Finally, he left.  How long he had been in my booth I'm not sure.  How many potential sales he cost me, maybe none, maybe a lot.  I brushed all the crumbs from my tables and tried to brush off the whole experience.


I thought about saying something to the other artists around me -- all women, by the way -- to see if they had had similar experiences.  I ended up not saying anything, however, because I feared they would laugh and tell me he was just an old guy trying to be nice to me, paying me compliments.  That they would tell me I should be flattered.  That he was harmless.


But this is my place of business, I kept thinking.  I didn't bust my ass to set up this morning because I'm looking for a date.  I'm here to sell stuff, to make a living, to pay my bills and buy my groceries.  I don't have time to humor some old guy with a messy cookie.  And what gives him the right to harass me but I have no right to complain?


An art show obviously isn't the venue to make a scene over some guy trying to hit on me.  But the experience brought home once again how pervasive the harassment is, and how easy it is to brush it off as harmless and inoffensive.


No, sorry, I was highly offended.  Not by the compliments, but by the guy's assumption that he could invade my place of business and take up my time with his compliments and flattery as though he had a right to.  As though I should be so flattered that I would give up the opportunity to make a living in my chosen field in order to make him feel . . . flattered.


No, sorry, guy with the crumbly cookie and sloshing coffee, I was not flattered.


Our art group meets on Wednesday afternoon.  I'm going to bring this up and see what the reaction is.  Anybody wanna bet a nickel I get the "Oh, he was just an old guy trying to be nice!" response.

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review 2018-01-07 05:33
Piecing Together a Love Story
The Patchwork Bride - Sandra Dallas
The Persian Pickle Club - Sandra Dallas

Ellen is getting older and wondering how long she and her husband, Ben, can stay on their beloved ranch, when her granddaughter, June, gets cold feet and runs from her wedding. Ellen is working on June’s wedding quilt, which contains pieces of the wedding dresses from the women of the family. As the two women sit together, Ellen tells June the stories of one woman, named Nell, and how it took her 3 tries to find the man she would marry. The story of Nell’s first beau, Buddy, is full of cowboy swagger, the second story, about James, is a bit of a shocker, and the story of predictable, solid Wade has a not-so-predictable twist in the end.

The strengths of this book are the depictions of the relationships between the women characters, and the easygoing voice the story is told in. Readers who liked The Persian Pickle Club (which is referred to in this story) are sure to enjoy this latest novel.

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review 2015-09-02 16:14
Gone But Knot Forgotten (Quilting Mysteries (Mary Marks)) - Mary Marks

Author Mary Marks is back with another delight installment of her Quilting Mystery series.


Please be assured, you do not have to know how to quilt to enjoy this series, not do you need to have read the first to books in the series to read this one. But it is always fun to go back to the other installments to see how it all started.


In GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN, protagonist Martha Rose suddenly finds herself executor to a friend’s estate. A friend she hasn’t seen in twenty years. Things don’t seem right to Martha, and then another body is discovered. Add to that the theft of items worth millions of dollars, and Martha knows she has to get to the bottom of things.


I truly enjoy Ms. Mark’s style of writing. I really liked that she explained some of the rituals of a Jewish funeral. I’m Christian and my grandmother was a minister, so learning more about other religions is fascinating to me.


GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN was a wonderfully crafted mystery. Ms. Marks takes us through a sleuthing at a perfect pace.  There were more twists and turns than a quilt has stitches. More suspects than a few, and questions that felt like there could be no answers to. All leading up to an amazing reveal that had me completely surprised.


I look forward to what author Marks has in store for us next! 

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review 2015-06-02 01:14
Tying the Knot: A Southern Quilting Mystery - Elizabeth Craig

This is the first book I’ve read in the Southern Quilting series, but it won’t be my last. I’d also like to add that this is the fifth book in the series and I didn’t feel lost at all. It has just made me want to go back and start with book one so I don’t miss one word of this excellent series.


I didn’t plan to read this book in one setting, but once I started, I couldn’t put it down. Author Elizabeth Craig has a smooth, flowing writing style that simply encouraged me to keep reading into the night. This was a wonderfully crafted mystery that really kept me guessing, as well as second guessing myself all the way up to the satisfying conclusion.


The setting was delightful, and I enjoyed every moment spent with Beatrice and the rest of the Village Quilters. They made me wish, not for the first time when reading a “crafting” cozy, that I could be a part of a group of ladies like this. And speaking of the characters, I simply adored Miss Sissy! I would truly love to read more about her.


Rather you’re a quilter or not (I’m not), you’ll love this southern cozy mystery. Just like a quilt, it’s full of warmth and character stitched together by a skilled and talented hand. Oh, and of course, murder! (That just didn’t blend with my warm quilt comparison) ;-)


Be sure to check the back of the book for some yummy recipes and helpful quilting tips!


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text 2015-05-25 18:35
Memorial: Widows and Widowers of War
After the War (Homefront) (Volume 2) - Jessica Scott
Somebody Like You - Beth K. Vogt
Secondhand Heart - Kristen Strassel
A Virgin River Christmas - Robyn Carr
A Love to Call Her Own (A Tallgrass Novel) - Marilyn Pappano
Honorable Rancher - Barbara White Daille
I Want to Hold Your Hand - Marie Force
Hometown Girl - Mariah Stewart
Harbor Lights (Chesapeake Shores Novels) - Sherryl Woods
The True Love Quilting Club - Lori Wilde

 In remberance of those who lost thier lives defending our nations, let us also remember those they left behind. 


Here is a list of wonderful Romances featuring Widows and Widowers of our recents wars. 


1.  After the War by Jessica Scott


Captain Sarah Anders lost her husband to the Iraq war and has nearly lost the career she loves. Sent to Fort Hood, she only wants to do her job and take care of the daughter she’s raising on her own. She never counted on running straight into a memory she’d tried to forget. A love he never forgot... Captain Sean Nichols never got over Sarah. He simply tried to forget her amidst the war and the chaos of combat. But when she’s assigned to investigate his unit, he comes face to face with the woman no war or any amount of time could make him forget. A dark secret… As Sarah gets closer to the truth, Sean must accept that actions he took during the war may end the tentative love building between them. And even if Sarah can forgive him, Sean may never be able to forgive himself.


2. Somebody Like You by Beth K. Vogt


Haley’s three-year marriage to Sam, an army medic, ends tragically when he’s killed in Afghanistan. Her attempts to create a new life for herself are ambushed when she arrives home one evening—and finds her husband waiting for her. Did the military make an unimaginable mistake when they told her Sam was killed? 

Too late to make things right with his estranged twin brother, Stephen discovers Sam never told Haley about him. As Haley and Stephen navigate their fragile relation­ship, they are inexorably drawn to each other. How can they honor the memory of a man whose death brought them together—and whose ghost could drive them apart? 


3. Secondhand Heart by Kristen Strassel


Daisy Mangold thought she had her life figured out until a roadside bomb in Afghanistan changed everything. Now a twenty-one-year-old military widow, Daisy moves back home to start over. 

Cam Hunter won the reality show The Spotlight, and thought he was on his way to becoming the next big country star. But when whispers of how he won begin to surface, Nashville is less than welcoming. After he loses his record deal, Cam heads back home to open a country bar. 

When Daisy meets Cam, she isn’t sure she’s ready to let go of the ghosts from her past. Cam’s ex-wife isn’t ready to move on either, and the tragedy she causes will expose Cam’s secrets and shatter Daisy’s family. 

Will Daisy be able to follow her heart into a future with Cam, or will her grief keep her trapped in a past that no longer exists?


4. A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr


Last Christmas Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband, Bobby. This Christmas she wants to find the man who saved his life and gave her three more years to love him.


Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby's shattered body onto a medical transport four years ago, then disappeared once their unit arrived stateside. Since then, Marcie's letters to Ian have gone unanswered.


Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River and finds a man as wounded emotionally as Bobby was physically. As Marcie pushes her way into his reclusive life, she discovers a sweet soul beneath a rough exterior.


Ian doesn't know what to make of the determined young widow who forces him to look into his painful past and the uncertain future. But it is a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it's time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.


5. A Love to Call Her Own by Marilyn Pappano


It's been two years since Jessy Lawrence lost her husband in Afghanistan, and she's never fully recovered. Drowning her sorrows didn't help, and neither did the job she'd hoped would give her a sense of purpose. Now trying to rebuild her life, she finds solace in her best friends, fellow military wives who understand what it's like to love-and lose-a man in uniform . . . and the memory of one stolen night that makes her dream of a second chance at love. 

Dalton Smith has known more than his fair share of grief. Since his wife's death, he revels in the solitude of his cattle ranch. But try as he might, he can't stop thinking about the stunning redhead and the reckless, passionate night they shared. He wasn't ready before, but Dalton sees now that Jessy is the only woman who can mend his broken heart. So how will he convince her to take a chance on him?


6. Honorable Rancher by Barbara White Daille


The hero of Flagman's Folly has been gone more than a year. But he still stands between Ben Sawyer and what he desires most—Dana Wright, the love of Ben's life.

When soldier Paul Wright left for the last time, he made his best friend promise to look after his wife and kids. Ben—good, steady Ben—is honoring that promise. And it's burning him up inside.

Because Dana is shutting Ben out. She wants him—so much—but she can't afford to give in. If she does, she'll spill her secret, and the betrayal will hurt everyone she cares about—her children, who loved their daddy; her town, which loves its hero; and Ben, who loved his friend. She'll do anything to protect her secret—even give up her second chance at happiness


7. I Want to Hold Your Hand by Marie Force


Almost seven years after losing her husband in Iraq, Hannah Abbott Guthrie isn’t sure she’s ready—or able—to move on, but the attentions of a lifelong friend are making her think about it for the first time. The memory of the sweet kiss she shared with Nolan Roberts hasn’t strayed far from her thoughts, but she also fears that pursuing something with him would mean betraying her husband’s memory.

Nolan has loved Hannah for years, but he’d been giving her the space she needed to heal from her devastating loss. Now, when an opportunity arises to show her how he feels, Nolan can’t resist, but he knows earning her love will take more than a kiss. Somehow he has to prove to Hannah that finding love twice in a lifetime is possible—and well worth risking her heart.


8. The True Love Quilting Club by Lori Wilde


Emma Parks is almost ready to give up her search for stardom when she's offered the lead role in a small theater production in Twilight, Texas. Twilight is the place where she had her first kiss -- with Sam Creek. Sam is now a veterinarian and the single father of a 6-year-old boy who has not spoken since his mother was killed in Iraq. 

When Sam and Emma meet again, the attraction they felt as 14-year-olds easily morphs into adult desire. They soon realize that they can't deny their feelings, but Sam can't see ever leaving Twilight and would never allow Emma to give up her dreams for him. 


9. Harbor Lights by Sherryl Woods


Struggling in his role as a newly single father, former army medic Kevin O'Brien moves home to Chesapeake Shores. He wants a haven for himself and his toddler son, surrounded by the family he knows he can count on, and a future that's nothing like his past. But Kevin is suddenly facing a risk he hadn't anticipated, in the form of Main Street bookseller Shanna Carlyle. 


Shanna immediately recognizes Kevin as a wounded soul—she's had way too much experience with the type. Still, this charming O'Brien man and his son are almost impossible to resist.


Then, just when the barriers are toppling, someone from Shanna's past appears. Confronted with a threat to their hard-won serenity, Kevin and Shanna face their toughest challenge—learning to trust again.


10. Hometown Girl by Mariah Stewart


Life was always just about perfect for Brooke Madison Bowers. She was the prettiest, most popular girl in small-town St. Dennis, Maryland, a prom queen, local pageant star, and the pride and joy of her loving parents. She even married the man of her dreams. But the promise of happily ever after fell to pieces when her husband was killed while serving in Iraq. Brokenhearted and longing for the solace of better days, she returns to the idyllic world of St. Dennis, and the familiar comfort of the family farm. Surrounded by her loving family and friends, she’s determined to build a new life, complete with her own cupcake bakery. She’s equally determined never to fall in love again.

For Jesse Enright, life has been a challenge. A fourth-generation attorney, he’s spent his life fighting to escape the shadow of his irresponsible father. Now he’s moved to St. Dennis to run the family law practice, and he’s ready to find the right girl, get married, and settle down. But his carefully laid plans go out the window when he meets Brooke and finds himself caught between the unbreakable law of attraction and Brooke’s resolve to go her way alone—despite the undeniable feelings Jesse stirs in her. But just like catching lightning in a bottle, is it possible to fall head-over-heels, heart-and-soul in love all over again?



Do you have a recommendation? I would love to hear!


Vote for the best of the best on my Goodreads list: Memorial: Widows and Widowers of War.

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