Imogene’s Baskets

I had the pleasure of taking a class and then seeing a presentation of quilts from Arlene Arnold. I’ll start with the class and the quilt I am making.

Not great photo, I was sitting in the back. Arlene shared some of her quilt collection of quilts from the 20s-50s, these are all made with seed sack, or flour sack fabrics. I’ll talk about that in another post. This was probably made in the 40s’ when the fabrics get brighter again. Notice the double flying geese around the border.

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Arlene is in the middle, the rest of us class mates are showing our work. The project was Lucretias’ journey. Kim finished the whole top during the class. I had finished mine last year when the class was canceled. Which is why I chose a different pattern for the class

I brought some fabric I had bought at the infamous sale I went to two years ago. This was a quilt kit from The French General. I didn’t like the pattern at all, very basic and boring – so I’m thrilled to use it here. You are seeing plenty of flying geese, which are not easy to make accurately. I have rulers for this, Arlene recommended getting the lock bloc ruler. In this case one needs to buy a separate ruler for every size of geese. I ended up buying two, this size and a smaller size for another pattern I bought. Guess what, this is the best method.

In designing the quilt, Arlene made the blocks larger as well as used only four baskets – so the quilt is smaller.

sort of out of order, I finished these three baskets in class. I hadn’t made baskets in a very long time, once again, nowadays designers figure out out to strip piece the blocks.

At this point I am adding the border, and I realize that the final size might be ok for a baby quilt, but it’s not practical otherwise. With quilts, I want practicality. I like using my quilts, and yes, I’m keeping this one.

So I made two more baskets, which means that I might not have enough of the background fabric.

With the bloc lock ruler making the flying geese is like popcorn, I simply can’t stop. Instead of using the background for the corners, I used one of the prints.

This much of the quilt is done. I have to now decide, do I buy more of the background fabric or do I use the colored prints to create more borders.

Stay tuned!

The New Bend

I was told there was an exhibit of Gees’ Bend quilts at the Huntington. Turns out they have one quilt and a bunch of reproduction-simultions. I love the Huntington but no thanks.

So here I am at Hauser and Wirth and they have an exhibit called the new Bend, African American artists and their take on cultural issues today.

This one was the most surprising quilt of all to me, and needless to say, my favorite. By Dawn Williams Boyd, named The Right to my Life. I looked her up, on every other topic she far to the left, and yet here she is expressing something profound for the Black community. Too many have been aborted. I find it very interesting that the woman in the clinic is white, the woman getting out of a chauffeur driven car – to go get and abortion is white. In the foreground we see black people embracing their baby. We also see the pro life protestors who are a mixed lot of people. I am extremely sad that the powers that be managed to convince Californians that it is ok to kill a baby up until the moment of birth, and to put that in our constitution. Whatever happened to the idea that it would be rare and a last resort? I know many in the black community agree with this quilt – I’m grateful to see that it’s not just Church going conservatives. As for the message about adoption, I am the proud grandmother of a mixed race grandson who’s mother – thankfully didn’t abort him.

This is a beautiful computer designed woven tapestry, with some beading as well. I couldn’t understand the goodly-gook that the curator wrote about this. I can’t help but wonder if there is a connection between the angelic babies and there previous quilt – about aborting way too many of these babies.

This one is about the connection between the African American community and the Central American one. Like many other works, it’s more art work using textiles, than a quilt.

This one was the most traditional quilt, of course I love it for it’s design and simple quilting.

These two images don’t have any information. They actually are most like the original Gees Bend quilts.

Three works by the same artist, Got to love the bling! A lot of symbolism going on here.

Another mixed media that celebrates all kinds of textiles.

All in all, a worth while exhibit. Satisfied my need for textiles as a medium in art. There was also and exhibit of Cindy Sherman Photographs – very good, but doesn’t stir my soul. Then there was some kind of performance art – meh.

The Arts district

Back in LA, back to getting out and about, not as much as I did pre-lockdown, but gradually getting back to old places again.

I had stayed in the Arts warehouse district in New Orleans, so now, back to the Arts district in LA.

There are big murals, and they aren’t defaced.

I was in the area from Santee, Alameda, Traction, and what became very quickly is this is a hipster, high income area. Yes, we are downtown, but a lot of the blight that one sees one block over – isn’t present here. Less vagrants on the streets than in my area in the valley – big money must talk.

Old buildings with their ghost signs are now apartments with added balconies with potted plants.

The old Americano Hotel, today it is high end housing. The building across the street is new and new to me.

I would like to see this lit up at night, I’m sure the neon is very nice.

I had never seen the completed One Santa Fe – I had seen it being built, I had seen some of the old buildings that came down in order to build this 1/2 mile long building – yes, it is half a mile long.

Looking east towards the LA river.

West, towards Alameda Ave and the rest of downtown.

My destination was this, Hawser and Wirth. This is an old flour mill, Globe Grain and Milling company, other wise known as A-1 Globe Mills. It operated from 1941 until the mid 60s.

I love these kind of details in the architecture, both the beautiful metal insignia as well as the mosaic floor. I know, I could have gotten a better image of the floor.

Yes, this is a picture taken from the back of the logo – ah, but what a logo, look at those letters!

Next, I’ll share more of the building and what I did there.

The end, final day in New Orleans

The mighty Mississippi River, New Orleans is the mouth of the river delta, so it is pretty wide here, although even here one sees how low the river is.

Looking across to Algiers Point. I am happy to see the ferry on the other side, we saw it arrive on this side with people disembarking. That was a favorite day for me 7 years ago when we took that ferry. So much better and cheaper than the expensive tourist boats.

A fence and gate that closes off an unused jetty. I say unused because look how encrusted the fence is with locks. You can understand why cities don’t want them. if you look at the upper right side you can see how it is dragging down the gate.

Morning view from my hotel room, up on the 11th floor. Facing east and seeing the sun rise, quite beautiful.

Here is a few moments later, that ball of fire is getting bigger. Notice how bright the sky is even before the sun rises.

Murals, I love murals.

The backside of an old factory building in the warehouse district. Looks like an office building now. I miss the fact that every building was entitled to have beautiful decorations back in the day.

More building decoration. And seeing that this is the hot humid south. (luckily not in October!) see how life, in the form of some kind of plant is breaking through and growing wherever it gets a root-hold.

Here we see the back of a building where all that greenery is planned and cared for.

Not sure what this business is – they do have a good sense of humor.

Walking the French Quarter, so obligatory pictures. It felt dirty, the sidewalks messier, less musicians around. The response to Covid did a huge number on all of us – only Sweden came out ok.

Love these three thoughtful guys up there. Wonder how many people actually see them?

Halloween decoration? Or is he there year round. The beads certainly are.

At least here it looks like they update the beads every year. They aren’t all washed out.

Here is where we stayed 7 years ago – the Cornstalk Fence hotel. Actually a Bed and Breakfast and unfortunately – it didn’t survive the lockdowns. Who knows what it will become.

Me, in front of the fence.

A close up, with the pumpkin and with some painted corn.

So that is it. A great wonderful trip through the south. Now I will get back to sharing what is going around me in LA.

WWII museum

It made sense to end our trip in New Orleans. Having been there seven years ago and not visiting this museum – I wanted a whole day to visit. Not necessarily to spend the whole day there – but not to have to rush off to the airport in the early afternoon.

We were just a few blocks away, so we just walked over, we had returned our car at the airport upon arrival in NOLA, it was nice just to walk around. Joel has a friend who is the attorney for Jenny Craig – yes, the real woman. She is originally from NOLA and has set up the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy at the museum. So we ended up having a VIP experience, which is a wonderful way to see any museum.

Initially the museum was going to be dedicated to Andrew Higgins, a local boat builder who supplied many boats to the war effort. Here is his famous Higgins transport boat. This is what landed troops and materiel on the Islands of the South Pacific as well as D-day in Normandy.

Here was another boat he built. I’m sorry, I don’t remember what this is called. This boat was found rotting somewhere in Texas and is being prepared and renovated. This hall isn’t open yet, but this will be an experiential hall – mostly for students.

Yes, the names of both boats and airplanes were very irreverent back in the day, the planes also had those pretty pinup girls on them. Speaking of school children. A large private school was there the same time we were, it was wonderful seeing them there, running around, gleaning information.

Our friend Bob paid a lot of money to have this white granite brick on the floor of the museum in honor of his father. Now the bricks are outside surrounding the museum as well. John was assigned to the USS Shaw, which was being retrofitted in Pearl Harbor and was attacked that fateful day. No one was on board, so although the boat was heavily damaged, no one was killed on it. It was refreshed and put back in service. John then spent 4 years aboard boats in the Pacific, supplying the Marines as the fought from one Atoll to another. He survived, came home and started a family.

The museum is a real gift to the city of New Orleans, early on it was decided to make this the national WWII museum, so a lot of federal money goes here. There was plenty of space in the warehouse district to expand and build this out. It is a great project. From the intro movie, through the two main galleries, the road to Berlin and the road to Tokyo. It celebrates Americas’ efforts in the war. Our docent, who was excellent, told us how he once had a group of Russians, who were upset that little mention was made of the Russians involvement in the war. His reply – well, ask the Russian government to make a museum in Moscow. Now, it is true that the Russians suffered the highest human casualties, both military and civilian estimated at 20 million. But maybe Stalin had something to do with that – we only have estimates, but they are roughly 60 million during his reign of terror.

Here we have the uniforms of the nursing corps in the pacific. As well as the famous Eames molded plywood splint. trying to solve a medical problem, the metal splints were causing more harm during the transport of the wounded soldiers. The moulded plywood was the perfect solution. From there Eames went on to make chairs using the same technique. I was thrilled to see this here, a good friend has part of a splint.

It’s not just displays in cases, you serpentine through the display which are built out to resemble, the alps, the battle of the Bulge, as well as the harrowing jungles of the islands of the Pacific.

There is a hall dedicated to the Homefront, I am hoping that this is original, it looks like it. You know me, always looking for the handcrafts. There is also a large hall with some of the airplanes, all in all, I highly recommend visiting this amazing museum. And that was it for wars this trip.

Another museum, not far from us, was the Southern Jewish Experience. A friend who grew up in NOLA mentioned this. We weren’t specifically looking for it, but when we stumbled upon it, we went in, paid our money and looked around. I think I mentioned that the north had many more Jews. I’m not sure that was true initially, I think the Jews were scattered everywhere, only after 1848 when large number arrived from Germany and then the rest of Europe did the north become the desired location to go to. Simply because you go where there are others like you. My family fleeing the pogroms in the Ukraine at the turn of the 20th c. went to Chicago because they knew people there. My friends’ grandfather first went to Selma, then New Orleans.

Here I found a wonderful crazy quilt. You can see the backing is falling apart.

Here is the explanation. Yellow fever was a real problem in the south, not so much in the north. Anyway, this is a beautiful quilt and I’m glad its’ here.

Natchitoches and New Orleans

How does one pronounce Natchitoches? That is the question, it is the oldest non native settlement in Louisiana – yes, even older than New Orleans.

On our drive in, we stopped for lunch, I asked a woman how do I pronounce the name of that city – she happened to have grown up there. Naki-dish.

upon arriving at our hotel, a former bank btw, I used my new found knowledge. The receptionist was floored, no one has come in here knowing the correct pronunciation. Nailed it!

I didn’t take a lot of pictures, here is the covered walkway right next to the river – very reminiscent of New Orleans.

This is a fabulous store, part hardware, part general and a few gifts. Old time toys abounded. I found an old glass frog – the kind one used for floral arrangements back in the 50-60s’. Yes, I am using it now.

Love the fall colors. At our hotel, they offer wine in the afternoon. we met another couple, Nancy and Tom from Athens Georgia. We spent a lovely afternoon together and went out to dinner. There we met the mayor of Natchitoches. He was proudly wearing the sweatshirt of the local college. Northwestern (Louisiana). I kidded that I was born near the other Northwestern, but I’m sure it’s not a good as the one here.

You can see the Cane river right down below, I was thrilled by these massive hanging baskets. That is what humidity, rain and heat will get you.

One thing Natchitoches is famous for is this is the location where Steel Magnolias was filmed. So on the flight home, we found the movie and watched it. Quite enjoyable, a great cast. Also, they don’t make movies like that anymore and it’s more the pity. Yes, there were some very recognizable scenes in downtown and along the river front – guess what, in over 30 years, things haven’t changed.

Then it was on to New Orleans, our last stop. We stayed in the warehouse district. Here, adaptive reuse from some kind of office building to apartments. Well, I checked, they were either printers, makers of Asbestos or nowadays a trucking company. I do love the blade sign, lit up at night it must be beautiful.

We walked over to the French Quarter, had to visit good old general Jackson, before he became president.

with me in the foreground and the church behind.

From another angle.

These signs are all over the French Quarter. Oh and Natchitoches was settled in 1742 by French Fur Trappers who made their way south. It isn’t on the Mississippi, but close enough.

Of course we had beignets at Cafe Du Monde, although I think the ones at Cafe Beignet are better – if memory serves.

Diabetes on a plate, it’s what New Orleans is about. Well, that and music and good drinks and… and… and…

Natchez Part II

One thing I haven’t mentioned much of is the Jewish community in the south. It was always smaller than the north, but it was there. The biggest community was in Memphis, probably still is. Sure a ton of Jews are moving to Nashville these days – but most don’t care about Judaism.

It was nice to see a beautiful large synagogue in the middle of downtown Natchez, not off on the edge somewhere. A number of the beautiful houses were also built by the Jewish merchants that came and were part of the cotton trade.

This is 11 years before Los Angeles had a Jewish Temple, I know, we are the Wild West, but this tells me a lot. The large Jewish migration starts along with the Germans in 1848, so maybe before that there wasn’t much difference in the size of Jewish populations between north and south.

Side view of the Temple. Today there is an effort to save the building. There really isn’t much of a Jewish Community here anymore. I hope they do save it and I hope that other Jewish communities in the south come and use the building from time to time. Its’ not a synagogue if it’s just an empty relic.

We toured inside a local house, and from the second floor balcony got a better view of the dome on the temple.

The home was Magnolia Hall, today the headquarters of the Garden Club. The club used to be a women only club, today they have men as well. Such as our guide. The home was built in 1858, it went through many iterations, so what we saw as far as furnishings were all accurate to the period, but none came from the house.

I enjoyed these Parisian porcelains, named thus because they aren’t from the big famous porcelain manufacturers, but they are from Paris. This one isn’t porcelain, oops.

A very impressive silver tea and coffee set. Since the Garden Club owns the house they not only give tours. They also have events here and yes, the house is available for rent. The Garden Club is similar to the Pasadena Hunt Club in that both sponsor the big events of the year – here the Rose Parade, in Natchez there is an annual ball as well.

A small section of a wall tapestry. You didn’t think I’d ignore the textiles did you??

This fruit bowl is made entirely out of wax. Some very special process since in over 150 years it hasn’t melted in the hot humid summer heat.

A Childs’ rocking chair. The caning is still in decent shape.

What is this??? A baby walker, yes, even back 200 years ago they had this contraption! Who knew?

They store the gowns of the former presidents of the Club here. I hate to say this, most were pretty tacky. Not made of quality fabric. They do display this corset and hoop to show the undergarments that created that famous look of antebellum dresses. The guide talked about tightening the corset so much the women couldn’t breath. I corrected him. He didn’t like that – well I learned that in a preservation course. Well, to be kind I said – then the information about that has changed. the corset was like a bra – supportive, not restrictive, and the way to give the illusion of a tiny waist is the hoops, accentuate the hips and beyond and the waist looks small. I think that might have been the last comment I made about anything on the tour.

Someone donate this wonderful old hand crank sewing machine. The crank itself is missing. This is probably from around 1880. To me this is a thing of beauty!

Natchez, part 1

It was a relatively short drive from Vicksburg to Natchez. We arrived on a Monday, right after an exciting weekend of hot-air balloons. I would have enjoyed that.

Natchez is the one city in the south that still have over a thousand antebellum structures. Not all fancy houses. This really struck me, the south had all the battles on its’ land and paid a huge price in the destruction of so many buildings – which means history. Which makes me all the angrier about removing confederate statues. Sure, many were put up post war -but I’m not buying the idea that slavery in the south is the source of all evil today. What I see is an arrogant clueless class who enjoys hurting people – even about their past.

So after a delicious and very southern lunch (yup, deep fried meat in a sandwich) we walked. I honestly don’t know what is antebellum and what may have been a Victorian house built later. To me this looks like later Victorian, but I don’t know. I do know that I love the two keyholes, on the front porch and on the second floor around the window.

All the design work! Love it. As we walked, about 5 little old ladies came out to talk to us – ah the friendliness of the south! Also, it could be that they were somewhat lonely and just happy to talk. One recommended a restaurant, in another case, a little dog followed us, a woman came out of a business to talk and asked us about the dog. Not ours. She immediately had her assistant put up a notice, either on FB or IG to ask if anyone is missing a dog – with picture of course. Ah, small southern towns!

One thing that is apparent is that right next door to a lovely mansion, I would find a rundown decaying house, or sometimes an empty lot. This isn’t Beverly Hills where if you can’t keep the property up to code – you are out!

Another outstanding home.

Another rundown shack.

This I know for sure is 20th century – its a Craftsman house! YAY!

Natchez is also on the bluffs, down at waters edge there are some stores and look! Cruise ships! Many had to cancel because the river is so low. Part of the crew stayed at the same hotel we were at. The city certainly needs these ships.

In the park behind one of the many churches, a touching memorial to the confederate dead. Please don’t let any woke people know about this – they will demand it be removed.

I don’t know the name of the soldier atop the monument, I don’t even know if he was general, if he was local or just a representative of the many brave men who fought here. Yes, the north did occupy Natchez, but there wasn’t any real battle here – so much of the city remains.

Right next to the monument, a lovely fountain. As well as wonderful life oak trees! Yes, it felt completely southern.

The Battle of Vicksburg

Before leaving on the trip, I listened to the Battle of Vicksburg from Michael Shaaras’ book about the battles of the civil war. Actually being there things really started to make sense. This is true of most things, standing on that ground everything makes so much more sense.

Many of the different canons used during the battle and siege, I don’t know which were southern and which were northern. I hired a guide, and boy was he enthusiastic. Maybe a little too much information. I know too many people here in LA, who’s families arrived long after the war who like to preen about the north winning the war and how we are on the good side. First of all, Los Angeles sided with the south – second of all – keep your mouth shut about things you know nothing about – these people also hang the Ukraine flag without any clue what is really going on. (I’m not siding with the Russians, just saying, these things are complicate.)

The park as a national war memorial was dedicated in the late 19th century and the states that participated in the battle put up monuments, both big and small. Oh, Don, our guide was great, he knew the battles well, he is thrilled that after a bloody civil war we still managed to become the UNITED STATES, rather than a collection of states under a loose federal government.

I didn’t get a lot of pictures, but the terrain is so hilly, steep and needless to say absolutely full of the kind of vegetation that south is known for.

So some basics, where Vicksburg is situation on the Mississipi – it controls the river. Both sides needed that major water way. The city itself is up on the bluffs, so they could shoot down on any army trying to come down the river. So General Grant did something very smart, he led the army through Louisiana – where he met no opposition and approached the city from the south. But Vicksburg held strong and the Southern army has been building forts on all the hilltops.

Plenty of bloody battles ensued. Needless to say, when it came time to build the monuments, the northern states had more money then the southern ones. Even so, Illinois outdid them all, recreating the Roman Pantheon. It is impressive inside and out.

With the gold eagle on top. btw, both side fought valiantly, and in many cases the leaders of the opposing sides had been classmates at West Point and fought side by side in the Mexican American War. Don shared minute details, war is never pretty, this was no exception.

A perfect replica, with the hole in the dome.

As is typical in these kind of battles, the north would gain the hill, just to be forced back by the south in the forts.

A beautiful mosaic of the seal of the state of Illinois. Btw, had things gone otherwise, Illinois might have joined with the south.

The White House, the only civilian house to remain standing in the massive battlefields. it did become headquarters for the north for a while, it has been refurbished back to what it looked like then.

Another small memorial, this time to Capt John Powell. After the war, with a bum arm, he floated down the Colorado river, through the Grand Canyon. He worked for the federal government for years. He basically claimed most of open western land as Federal land – not something I approve of at all. See, government has always been over reaching and over grabbing.

I didn’t get a picture of the statue to General Ord. This just shows how small the country was then. I know him as Lieutenant Edward Ord. During his stay in CA in 1949 he drew the layout for both Sacramento and Los Angeles. Our lore says he named Spring st in downtown LA for his love interest at the time – he called her Mi primavera – my spring.

Then he fought in different battles in the civil war, was in Vicksburg with Grant, and stayed on to help with the reconstruction. He was also at Appomottax for the signing of the end of the Civil War.

Looking from the battle fields toward the Yazoo river, the Mississippi is on the horizon. But it changed course since the war.

Attacking the forts wasn’t working, so Grant called for a siege , no food, no fresh water could reach the southern army. 3 weeks of that in the summer, and the Southern General surrendered – many felt he did so too soon. This battle and the battle at Gettysburg, which took place at the same time, turned the tide of the war to the northern side. Although it would be two more years of war and battles.

Just a few years ago this monument to the black soldiers from Mississippi was added to the park. It needs to be said that many freed slaves immediately went and fought for the north.

I know, there are still plenty of scars, but I see so much progress in the direction America has taken since this war. No place, no nation is perfect, but America is up there with the great nations.

The Cairo (pronounced Kay-ro) an iron clad shallow boat built by the north to travel the shallow waterways. There were nine such boats, each named for a city in Illinois where they were built. The Cairo was sunk in a shallow river, all sailors got off alive, but everything was left there. It was immediately covered up with debris and vegetation – so as not to fall into enemy hands. In the 1950s’ it was discovered – in very good shape – bogs have a way of preserving things.

The problem is that it sat out for 10 years and rot immediately set in. So yes, there is plenty of the old original wood, but, it’s mostly rotten.

I’m glad they are doing their best to keep it as a reminder of a difficult period in our history.

Next, onto Natchez, which was spared destruction because of Vicksburg, I have plenty to say about that.

Vicksburg

A major reason for me to stop here was the battle of Vicksburg, during the Civil War, more about that next post, first the town and river.

There is a flood wall with many murals, this was one of them.

This year it’s major draught, the river is extremely low. But of course, everything is cyclical and the rain and river waters will return. Interesting to see how high the river can get.

More of the murals, I preferred the ones showing the old days.

I forget which president this was, but the mural is all about king cotton.

There is an interesting phenomenon, where dirt from Louisiana blows across the river and it created hills and a cliff edge on the Mississippi side. This becomes extremely important during the battle of Vicksburg.

Once again, a very old feel to the town. Since the battle ground became a national park late in the 19th century, there is no room for growth here. I’m sure there are plenty of successful towns around Vicksburg, but the city itself isn’t growing.

Although the 20s’ must have been good. This is a very large hotel. Nope, didn’t stay there, chose to stay in a Best Western on the highway. There is only so much ‘atmosphere’ I can take.

I think this is the old courthouse.

Here is the new one, good old Art Deco!

There was a little Coca Cola museum. It was all about how someone in town started bottling Coca Cola, up until then you could only buy it at a soda fountain. The company didn’t mind. Although once they saw how successful that was, they took over. I tried to get a picture of the original bottle, sorry, it was completely out of focus.

Nabisco, otherwise known as National Biscuit company started in New Jersey, but spread throughout the country. One of their old plants here in the warehouse/arts district in LA is now lofts.

My camera wasn’t focusing well, sorry. This became a restaurant – no we didn’t eat here, although maybe we should have. We ate at Cracker Barrel instead, a true southern institution – although we do have one at the Camarillo outlets in Ventura County.