[ {"id":"f7d142eb-6d6b-506d-a657-532ad89e855b","type":"article","starttime":"1489690560","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-16T13:56:00-05:00","lastupdated":"1489776075","sections":[{"home-and-garden":"lifestyles/home-and-garden"},{"alma-gaul":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Homefront: Margo\u2019s farm memories inform, inspire","url":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/article_f7d142eb-6d6b-506d-a657-532ad89e855b.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/homefront-margo-s-farm-memories-inform-inspire/article_f7d142eb-6d6b-506d-a657-532ad89e855b.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/homefront-margo-s-farm-memories-inform-inspire/article_f7d142eb-6d6b-506d-a657-532ad89e855b.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Alma Gaul","prologue":"I don\u2019t know how many people know Margo Hansen, but it\u2019s got to be a bunch, especially in the Clinton area. The plant-lover with a horticulture degree from Iowa State University has lived in the Gateway area for more than 30 years, running garden centers for herself and others, raising and selling food at the farmers market, serving as a public speaker on the air and at events and, most recently, directing programs at the Bickelhaupt Arboretum.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["margo hansen","building industry","literature","gardening","farm","agriculture","kind","tractor","life story","memory","lover"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"4d1da2b5-4173-59ee-abc5-e762a1053ce4","description":"Margo Hansen, director of programs at Bickelhaupt Arboretum in Clinton, says the 27th annual Horticulture in the Heartland event on March 4, is eagerly anticipated by those who love gardening and nature.\u00a0","byline":"JAN TOUNEY/For the Quad-City Times","hireswidth":1662,"hiresheight":1246,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/d1/4d1da2b5-4173-59ee-abc5-e762a1053ce4/589dee8e5345b.hires.jpg","presentation":"mugshot","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1662","height":"1246","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/d1/4d1da2b5-4173-59ee-abc5-e762a1053ce4/589dee8e524ff.image.jpg?resize=1662%2C1246"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"75","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/d1/4d1da2b5-4173-59ee-abc5-e762a1053ce4/589dee8e524ff.image.jpg?resize=100%2C75"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"225","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/d1/4d1da2b5-4173-59ee-abc5-e762a1053ce4/589dee8e524ff.image.jpg?resize=300%2C225"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"768","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/d1/4d1da2b5-4173-59ee-abc5-e762a1053ce4/589dee8e524ff.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C768"}}}],"revision":6,"commentID":"f7d142eb-6d6b-506d-a657-532ad89e855b","body":"

I don\u2019t know how many people know Margo Hansen, but it\u2019s got to be a bunch, especially in the Clinton area.

The plant-lover with a horticulture degree from Iowa State University has lived in the Gateway area for more than 30 years, running garden centers for herself and others, raising and selling food at the farmers market, serving as a public speaker on the air and at events and, most recently, directing programs at the Bickelhaupt Arboretum.

Now Margo has accomplished a \u201cbucket list\u201d goal of writing and publishing a book. Titled \u201cDown on the Farm: Margo\u2019s Memories,\u201d the paperback is a collection of stories from growing up on a Davenport dairy farm in the \u201860s and \u201870s.

As readers of this column know, I, too, have farm memories, so when Margo gave me a copy of hers, I wondered how they would compare.

I realized straight away that her experiences were way different from mine.

While I have written about all the work my dad did, Margo performed this same kind of work herself. As one of five children \u2013 and eventually six -- she had outside chores every day in the livestock barns and in the fields.

She drove a tractor, helped butcher turkeys, swung 40- to 60-pound bales of hay from the baler onto a wagon in stacks, pitched manure, built fences and killed rats with a shovel. And she did all this with very little instruction. Her father told her what to do, then let her figure it out, which probably accounts for the confident, think-on-her-feet kind of woman she is today.

I did none of this kind of work. I watched others do it, but mine was in the house, cooking, cleaning and doing laundry, and in the yard, mowing and tending to the flower and vegetable gardens.

Another big difference between us is all the actual life-threatening accidents Margo fell into. She was run over by a pickup when she fell off the back and the driver (her mother) did not see her on the ground. She wiped out on her bicycle while tearing down a gravel road, her body skidding across the gravel until it came to a bloody stop. Then there was the injury sustained when, while racing her sister, she jumped over a big mud puddle and landed wrong with her full body weight on her twisted ankle. I really wish I hadn\u2019t read that paragraph.

The worst that ever happened to me is I stepped on a rusty nail and had to go to town to get a tetanus shot.

Through all the work and downright danger, Margo had a childhood she says she \u201cwould never trade for anything in the world.\u201d

\u201cWhen I tell my friends what makes my heart smile (like an afternoon of picking sun-ripened fruit off a tree), they just laugh and shake their heads,\u201d she writes. \u201c \u2018That sounds like work to me,\u2019 \u201d they say. \u201c \u2018It sounds like life to me!\u2019 is my response.\u201d

And that spirit is the strongest take-away message of her book.

Yes, you will learn about the practices of a small-time dairy farm in the \u201860s and \u201870s. You\u2019ll learn, for example, of a time when four-row cultivators were mounted on tractors and driven between rows of corn to uproot weeds rather than using preemptive chemicals to keep the fields clean. In that sense, hers is an excellent reference book.

And you will learn Margo\u2019s opinion of turkeys as being stupid when she recalls a morning when the family was trying to move a small flock out of their shed to a new, outdoor pasture.

\u201cWe all stood back as the door on the shed was opened,\u201d she writes. \u201cOne curious tom stuck his head out. We looked at him and he looked back at us. There was no expression on this face. Not even a glimmer of intelligence, I thought to myself. If you have ever looked into a turkey\u2019s eyes, all you will see is a tiny black hole. Black holes are not just in outer space. They exist in each and every turkey\u2019s brain cavity. Poultry people know this, but they don\u2019t like to talk about it.\u201d

But, again, it\u2019s the indomitable force of Margo herself that carries the book. And if her life story didn\u2019t already encourage and inspire readers to pursue the possibilities of their own lives, she spells it out.

On the last page she talks about finally getting her stories down in print. Although her work may not rank as Great Literature, it is something she wanted to accomplish, and she did.

\u201cKnow this\u2026 You can be or do anything you set your heart on,\u201d Margo writes. \u201cIf you want to paint, then paint. If you want to sing but the notes come out flat, sing anyway. Stop worrying about what other people think and live life to the fullest. Every day is a new day.\u201d

Words of wisdom culled from the memories of a dairy farm.

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\u00a0I don\u2019t remember the first time I heard the word \"silos\u2019\" used to describe groups operating in isolation from each other rather than farm buildings, but the use is increasing.

In a recent\u00a0news story\u00a0about Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch\u2019s plan to do away with the Levee Commission and other advisory boards, Klipsch was quoted as saying that a consolidation would promote a pooling of resources, rather than \u201clooking at it as one silo over here and another silo over there.\u201d

Still, the use startles me. For me, a silo will always be a tall, round building used to store chopped cornstalks called silage that is fed to animals.

How did this change come about?

According to Wikipedia, the new usage was coined in 1988 by Illinois native Phil S. Ensor who worked in organizational development and employee relations for several companies including Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. He observed that \"silos\" within organizations can hinder progress.

As time passes, maybe the new meaning will become more familiar than the original. I remember a conversation several years ago with one of our son\u2019s 20-something friends who, though raised in the Midwest, did not know what farm silos were or how they worked.

Oh, my.

Our family farm has two silos, one made of clay blocks, the other of concrete.

The latter is a Hanson silo, made by a Minnesota company of the same name that began in 1916. A distinguishing feature of Hanson silos was that the company painted a black and white checkerboard band around the top to distinguish its brand. For a long time, when my dad referred to the Hanson silo, I thought he was saying the \u201chandsome silo.\u201d

\u00a0Feeding, making silage

When my dad was feeding cattle, his morning chores began with climbing up into the silo\u00a0\u2014 there was a ladder attached to the outside, covered by a chute \u2014 to scoop and toss down the chute about a ton of silage, by hand, using a silage fork.

The silage landed in a wagon at the bottom of the chute and, when the wagon was full, Dad would climb back down this ladder and, with a tractor, pull the wagon alongside the wooden feed bunks in our outside cattle yard. Then he would climb into the wagon and toss the silage into the bunks, once again by hand.

In time, Dad bought mechanical unloaders for the silo and for the wagon, eliminating all the by-hand work.

In the dead of winter, the silage steamed, and the cattle relished it, pushing their way into the lines that formed at the bunks.

Of course, before Dad could feed silage, he had to make it, and that was a major harvest chore. He\u2019d drive through the fields on a tractor pulling a chopper, with a big wagon behind that. Once the wagon was full, he\u2019d haul it to our building site where he\u2019d back up to a horizontal hopper.

With a tined fork, he\u2019d pull the \u201cgreen chop\u201d out of the wagon and into the hopper where it would advance mechanically to a big blower pipe that would send it hurtling up to the top of the silo. There it would drop to the bottom, filling the silo, load by load. Over a period of months, the stalks would ferment and that\u2019s when the silage would be fed.

All the machinery involved in silage-making created an incredible racket, a one-of-a-kind sound that I\u2019ll never forget and likely will never hear again.

And just about everything involved with silage was dangerous; a farmer could die in multiple ways. One of the most common hazards was the presence of numerous spinning shafts within close proximity. If a farmer happened to get the cuff of his pants caught, the force and speed of the spinning would literally pull him into the shaft.

A distinguishing feature of silage is its smell. What comes closest is the odor of wet grass clippings that have been sitting in a yard waste bag during a week of hot weather, only sweeter. Phew!

\u00a0Silo invented in 1873

Although silos were common\u00a0when I was growing up, they didn\u2019t always exist. While people involved in agriculture created pits for holding grain as far back as ancient Greece, it wasn\u2019t until 1873 in McHenry County, Illinois, that the silo was invented by Fred Hatch. He was the son of a dairy farmer and a graduate of Illinois Industrial College, now the University of Illinois, according to the website farmshow.com.

Silage was a new kind of feed for livestock at the time, and farmers were trying to come up with ways of storing it. At first it was stored on the ground with a rock base, but water caused spoilage. Building a tower eliminated that problem.

By 1886 there were more than 5,000 silos in the United States, according to the farmshow website. Various materials were used, including wood, clay blocks, concrete blocks, cast concrete and, finally, in the case of the iconic blue Harvestore silos you see dotting Scott County, steel panels.

Today, tower silos aren\u2019t used much. First, there aren\u2019t as many cattle feeders. Second, storage has moved back to the ground. Bunkers made of concrete panels keep out water, the original drawback of on-ground storage. They also are cheaper to build, considerably quicker to fill and unload, and they can be moved.

A bunker will never have the charm of a silo, though.

\u00a0Silo as terrarium

And there\u2019s one more thing.

On day a couple of years ago I was walking through our old cattle yard and happened to stick my head in the bottom door of the Hanson silo. What I saw amazed me. Although the silo had not been used for many years, it was not empty.

It had turned into a giant terrarium!

Apparently through time, different plant seeds from who-knows-where came flying through the air and dropped into the open-top silo. At the bottom, those seeds took root in a thin layer of soil that also must have blown in. And then they grew and flourished, all kinds of ferns and assorted greenery.

It was a handsome sight.

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Jason and Bonnie Tanamor had three \u201cmusts\u201d for a new house \u2014 it had to be historic, located in a nice neighborhood and have a big yard for their rescue dogs to romp.

Bingo!

They found all three in a 1904 home designed by famed Rock Island architect George Stauduhar, located in the Highland Park Historic District of Rock Island.

Designated a historic district in 1985, Highland Park is an area up the hill from downtown, bordered by 16th and 18th avenues on the north and south and 20th and 24th streets on the east and west. Among its former residents was John Looney, an early 20th century gangster who ran prostitution, gambling and illegal liquor.

Living in Highland Park today, though, \u201cis like living in a 1950s neighborhood where everyone looks out for each other,\u201d Bonnie says. It\u2019s a nice mix of ages, occupations and outlooks.

Jason is the new president of the neighborhood association that organizes events such as going to a local restaurant as a group, then returning to a\u00a0 house for dessert and wine. Other activities include neighborhood clean-ups and a garage sale, and this year Jason hopes\u00a0to organize a kickball tournament with other neighborhoods.\u00a0

In touring the home, three characteristics stand out. First is that\u00a0it was designed by Stauduhar,\u00a0most known for designing nearly 200 Catholic churches in the Upper Midwest.

Second \u2014 somewhat opposed to the first \u2014 is that the interior has been re-worked through the years to meet the needs of residents and changing tastes.

The Tanamors have a copy of Stauduhar\u2019s original floor plan so they know, for example, that as you enter the house, the first room is larger than it was originally because a wall that defined a parlor and a hallway has been removed. Although common today, this \u201copen room\u201d look is not in keeping with 1904.

Pocket doors between the second parlor and dining room were removed so that bookshelves could be built into the space where, originally, the doors slid when they were open.

The dining room contains a built-in china cupboard, but it is\u00a0obviously not original. \"I cried,\" Bonnies said, in thinking how the original was lost.

And then there\u2019s the kitchen. At least one wall and an entire butler\u2019s pantry have been removed to create an open space.

Although it\u2019s impossible to say what the home\u2019s original cabinets looked like, they now are white with glass fronts and chrome hardware, and the countertops are a rich brown butcher block.

These cabinets were in place when the Tanamors bought the house four years ago, and they have expanded on them, including building a butcher block-topped island in the middle of the room.

\u00a0As you look around, you may wonder about the walls \u2014\u00a0they look like they need repair, some patching and painting. But no, this is an intentional finish called Venetian plaster, reminiscent of what one might find in an old Italian villa, and the Tanamors chose to keep it.

One also can\u2019t help but notice the light fixtures, including four chandeliers that are made of what look like beaded necklaces. These, too, were from the former owner and have stayed put.

A passion for the\u00a0unusual

And that\u2019s because these unusual fixtures go very well with the third main characteristic of the house \u2014 it is filled with unusual things, a total reflection of the owners passion for seeing what treasures can find in second-hand stores.

Among their prized finds is a wood upright Brunswick record player. \u201cI was surprised it still works,\u201d he Jason said, winding it up to play Glenn Miller\u2019s \u201cIn the Mood.\u201d

\u201cIt was one of our coolest finds for sure,\u201d he said. \u201cWe play it for friends and they\u2019re envious.\u201d

Bonnie has a weakness for pretty china, so in addition to family heirloom pieces, she has all manner of other pieces, including teapots, collector\u2019s plates and mixing bowls.

In the area of ceramics, but not exactly dishes, there are large collector-edition Jim Beam whiskey bottles. At one time, people pursued these with a fervor, but that has long-since faded. Among Bonnie\u2019s collection is one featuring Grant Wood\u2019s \u201cAmerican Gothic\u201d painting.

Paintings and artwork is another big area. In this vein, the \u201cblue lady\u201d \u2013 a painting of a woman whose skin color is green-blue \u2013 stands out. Greek-Roman ruins and Asian themes are other finds.

In the library \u2013 the original second parlor, now lined with bookcases \u2013 the Tanamors have filled the shelves with volumes of their own, such as Bonnie\u2019s R.L Stine and \u201cLittle House on the Prairie\u201d books from childhood, as well as very old volumes printed in French whose paper spines crumble when opened.

Restoration work

While decorating is great fun, the couple also has done substantial work. In addition to having supplemental cabinetry built in the kitchen, they had all the floors and the staircase sanded and refinished. For about the same price, they could have bought all new wood flooring, but they wanted the original.

They also sandblasted and restored the radiators and repainted throughout. The previous owner favored bright colors; \u201cwe toned it down a lot,\u201d Jason said.

Outside, they re-did a 6-by-8\u00bd-by 2\u00bd foot fish pond. Still coming up is to paint the exterior.

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\u00a0Imagine it\u2019s the 1850s and you\u2019re flying over the state of Wisconsin. There\u2019s nothing but white pine forests for as far as your eye can see. Miles and miles of timber, so much as to be inexhaustible.

Fast forward to 1906 and you\u2019re standing on the bank of the Mississippi River in Clinton, Iowa, watching a huge raft of logs, white pine logs from Wisconsin, float past.

Such rafts have been floating into Clinton for 40 years now, meeting up with nearly 20 sawmills. There, the huge logs were cut into lumber for a growing nation, helping to build towns and cities all across the Midwest, Chicago to Kansas City. At peak production in 1892, Clinton was proclaimed as\u00a0\u201cthe lumber capital of the world\u201d because more board feet of lumber were cut there than anywhere else in the country.

But now this raft is among the last. The prime pine stands in Wisconsin have been all but played out. The boom that left behind a devastation of stumps built houses, barns and businesses and made millionaires of a few is now over.

The realization that much of the forest that once covered Wisconsin passed through Clinton on its way to becoming building material is one of the lasting messages I took away from a recent tour of Clinton\u2019s Sawmill Museum.

The museum at 2231 Grant St.\u00a0\u2014 backed up to the Mississippi River levee at 23rd Avenue North\u00a0\u2014 opened about five years ago in what was once a McEleney automobile dealership, but this was my first visit.

We met director Matt Parbs \u2014 doubling as the ticket-taker at the door\u00a0\u2014 who gave us a brief rundown on the Clinton lumber industry. He explained how Rock Island\u2019s Frederick Weyerhaeuser convinced Clinton\u2019s three lumber barons to join him in forming the Mississippi River Logging Co., a business that would control every point of production, from the forests all the way down the river to Clinton. By cutting out the \u201cmiddlemen,\u201d they could make more money.

Parbs also explained the workings of the museum\u2019s signature exhibit, a huge, 1920s saw that makes rectangular boards out of round logs.

A 10-minute video provided additional orientation, then we stepped into a room furnished like an 1800s parlor, with gold and white wallpaper, an Oriental rug and rows of satin-covered chairs. At the front were four large gold picture frames on stands, and in each frame were the heads and shoulders of four mannequin-like men, representing the four big names in Clinton lumber history. Through the wonder of animatronics, the heads came to life and the men talked to each other about their individual stories.

In addition to barons Chance Lamb, William Young and David Joyce, there was E.H. Struve, another notable who lived somewhat later and whose company continued to operate a saw mill into the 1970s. Several pieces of Struve equipment are on display.

\u00a0Appeal to children

A good chunk of the museum\u2019s exhibits is geared toward young people. An 1888 mini lumberjack camp includes a bunkhouse, cook\u2019s shanty, foreman\u2019s office and blacksmith shop. Placards explain that the cutting season was October through March, then from April to June daring \u201criver pigs\u201d built the rafts and floated them downriver.

A unique vocabulary grew up to describe the different specialties\u00a0\u2014 a \u201ccruiser,\u201d for example, was a person who estimated the amount of money a particular stand of timber might produce and a \u201cfitter\u2019 was a person who cut the notch in the tree to begin the process of felling it. (No power tools, of course. All the trees were cut down by hand and moved out of the forests on sleighs pulled by horses.)

Another portion of the museum contains placards with information about Clinton lumber industry personalities, displays of artifacts and pictures of their mansions, some still standing near the downtown.

You\u2019ll also see displays of tools, such as saws (of course!) and pike poles that were long, sturdy sticks with spikes on the end used to push or pull logs into position when building a raft or to snag an errant log floating downstream

I learned that at least one woman was involved in the industry\u00a0\u2014 Ida Moore Lachmund managed all aspects of rafts for lumber baron Joyce in the 1880s and handled $500,000 worth of logs each season, according to one of the placards.

I also learned, a bit to my embarrassment, that George Curtis wasn\u2019t a lumber baron. For years I have been writing stories about the Curtis mansion, home to the Clinton Women\u2019s Club, describing him as such. Instead, he owned a company that produced millwork \u2014 kitchen cabinets, windows, doors, fancy trim and fireplace mantels. Visit any number of older homes in Clinton, and you\u2019ll see amazing examples.

Expansion in works

Given the breadth of the museum and all there is to say about lumber and its role in the nation\u2019s development, I wondered why the name \u201csawmill\u201d was chosen instead of \u201clumber.\u201d

\u201cSawmill\u201d seems to give short shrift to what this place has to say. It\u2019s much more than sawmills. And we learned from director Parbs that there\u2019s more to come!

The museum has just embarked on a $1.2 million expansion to the back that will create space for two big children\u2019s exhibits, including a rafting simulator and a water table display, he said. In addition, Clintonians proud of their heritage regularly make donations of artifacts, such as blueprints of old buildings or examples of Curtis millwork.

(News of the addition quelled my concern about the viability of the museum, which I had wondered about, given that many such nonprofits tend to struggle.)

As with all good museums, the Sawmill has a gift shop. My favorite offering: plastic bags filled with sawdust shavings for $1.

If you\u2019re interested in history, the Sawmill Museum is worth a visit.

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\u00a0If you've been reading Home & Garden for a few years, you probably remember Stephanie De Pasquale Soebbing, the energetic young reporter who wrote a popular column called \"Home Rookies.\"

About every week,\u00a0she described the challenges and joys she and\u00a0her husband encountered in\u00a0tackling fixup projects in their newly purchased home \u2014 refinishing\u00a0kitchen cabinets, painting\u00a0windows,\u00a0installing new floors.

Well!

In the five years since she left the Times, Stephanie has continued her energetic ways, pursuing her\u00a0personal interest in quilting to the point that it's become a fulltime business, and\u00a0she is\u00a0beginning to make a name for herself\u00a0 nationwide.

Last month\u00a0she opened a quilt store called QuiltAddictsAnonymous \u2014 the same name as her long-standing blog \u2014 at the corner of 30th Street and 13th Avenue in Rock Island. This is in the interesting College Hill District\u00a0I discovered some years ago, with antique shops and the Cool Beanz Coffeehouse. Her store most recently was home to\u00a0Oh Nuts!

A grand opening\u00a0will be Saturday-Sunday, March 4-5, with classes by Tracy Trevethan, a Twin Cities area quilter known for her vibrant, hand-dyed wool fabrics.

But the store isn't the half of it.

A perhaps more significant accomplishment is that\u00a0Stephanie\u00a0designs her own original patterns that, in October, were picked up by three major distributors who will market them to quilt shops all over the country. She also has a\u00a0partnership with two major fabric companies \u2014 Northcott Fabrics, based in Canada, and Clothworks, based in Washington \u2014\u00a0in which she creates patterns using their\u00a0fabric.

In addition, she produces a weekly\u00a0Sit & Sew pod cast in which she interviews quilters and uploads the interviews to YouTube where it can be accessed by anyone, anywhere. This gets her name and patterns out in the quilting public.

She also continues her blog that contains\u00a0self-produced video tutorials of how to make a specific quilt.

And she has a quilt book deal in the works!

\"It has just exploded!\" she said of her business,\u00a0as I visited her last week at her shop.

How she got to this point

While 3-year-old daughter Angela roamed around the store with its shelves of fabrics, patterns and\u00a0quilting supplies, Stephanie took a deep breath and recounted some of the touchstones that\u00a0got her to where she is today.

The Augustana College graduate\u00a0certainly didn't expect to establish a full-time quilt business when she left the Times. At that point she still figured to work fulltime in\u00a0marketing, with a specialty\u00a0in\u00a0social media and web content.

Teaching\u00a0quilt classes\u00a0at CommUniversity and at a shop in\u00a0Muscatine, using patterns she had designed herself, was just a fun hobby.

But it also\u00a0involved\u00a0a lot of work for a minimal number of\u00a0students, so she decided to put one of her patterns on her blog to see what would happen.

\"I thought maybe I'd get 50\" people to download the pattern, she said. \"By the end of the first year, 12,000 people had downloaded.\"

Twelve thousand. Humm. Maybe she was onto something.

At that point she still wasn't making any money on quilting because the downloads were free, and she was using scraps she had around her home to make the designs to save money.

Taking a chance, she contacted Moda Fabrics, based in Texas, asking if the company would supply fabric for her next design. That would save her money and Moda would make sales. They agreed, and next came a pattern called Kaleidoscope that was her break-through design.

\"This is the one that put me in the big time,\" she said, holding the 36-page instruction book. (An aside: Kaleidoscope is featured on the back of this month's issue of McCall's Quilting.)

A eureka moment

In early 2015, just as she was beginning to make money from\u00a0quilting, she\u00a0was laid off from her communications job. She spent the next six months doing freelance marketing and\u00a0quilting, then\u00a0returned to\u00a0\"work\" one more time in late 2015.

But\u00a0the work plus\u00a0quilting became an impossible grind in which there was \"zero quality time\" with Angela, she said.

About this\u00a0same period\u00a0she attended an\u00a0industry trade show in Salt Lake City, and realized that \"there's this whole industry where distributors will buy patterns and sell to print shops.\"

It was a eureka moment and gave her a goal.

In June 2016, after a lot of talk\u00a0and soul-searching with her husband Adam Soebbing, Quad-City Times Sports Editor, she quit her day job for quilting.

\"I have not looked back,\" she said.

Distributors sign her up

Now that she understood more about the business and the necessity of marketing\u00a0yourself at trade shows, she made a goal of having a half-dozen original quilts and patterns ready to show at an October 2016 show in Houston.

And that, she said,\u00a0\"changed everything.\"

To prepare, she sewed six original-design quilts (including two king-sized) in two months\u00a0and created the patterns.\u00a0The result was that\u00a0she picked up the three distributors.

Stephanie specializes in modern quilts, characterized by asymmetrical designs and use of negative space, black or white.

I looked at the examples hanging on the wall in her shop. They\u00a0had lots of angles and, to me,\u00a0looked complicated and difficult\u00a0to get right.

She says that's not so.\u00a0\"They look like you put a lot of time and effort into it but, really, you could do it in a weekend.\"

She had several motives for opening the store, including getting all the quilting stuff out of their home.\u00a0\"My only goal was that it was to pay for itself, and it's done that since day one,\" she said.

After a pause, \"I can't wait to see where it goes,\" she added.

"}, {"id":"6cacaf7b-d8de-5d08-940a-16ee92a32eb4","type":"article","starttime":"1487499300","starttime_iso8601":"2017-02-19T04:15:00-06:00","sections":[{"alma-gaul":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Saluting Weir Sears, a tour de force","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/article_6cacaf7b-d8de-5d08-940a-16ee92a32eb4.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/saluting-weir-sears-a-tour-de-force/article_6cacaf7b-d8de-5d08-940a-16ee92a32eb4.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/saluting-weir-sears-a-tour-de-force/article_6cacaf7b-d8de-5d08-940a-16ee92a32eb4.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"The hundreds of people who streamed through Davenport's Sacred Heart Cathedral a week ago\u00a0to offer condolences to the family of Isaac Weir Sears were visible testimony to the\u00a0impact\u00a0Sears had on this community. Sears, who died at the age of 87, spent his life building\u00a0the company that bears the family name, Sears Manufacturing,\u00a0headquartered at\u00a0Davenport's West River Drive and Concord Street.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["davenport","iowa","sears manufacturing","isaac weir sears","robert service","davenport's sacred heart cathedral","dana waterman","economics","commerce","industry","company","simulator","construction","joint venture","drive"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"752488cd-c6e8-5cb2-90ab-30090fc0f323","description":"Sears","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"410","height":"580","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/52/752488cd-c6e8-5cb2-90ab-30090fc0f323/589b8fbcac9d9.image.jpg?resize=410%2C580"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"141","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/52/752488cd-c6e8-5cb2-90ab-30090fc0f323/589b8fbcac9d9.image.jpg?resize=100%2C141"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"424","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/52/752488cd-c6e8-5cb2-90ab-30090fc0f323/589b8fbcac9d9.image.jpg?resize=300%2C424"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1449","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/7/52/752488cd-c6e8-5cb2-90ab-30090fc0f323/589b8fbcac9d9.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"6cacaf7b-d8de-5d08-940a-16ee92a32eb4","body":"

The hundreds of people who streamed through Davenport's Sacred Heart Cathedral a week ago\u00a0to offer condolences to the family of Isaac Weir Sears were visible testimony to the\u00a0impact\u00a0Sears had on this community.

Sears, who died at the age of 87, spent his life building\u00a0the company that bears the family name, Sears Manufacturing,\u00a0headquartered at\u00a0Davenport's West River Drive and Concord Street.

He was the fourth generation to run the company that is believed to be the oldest\u00a0in the Quad-Cities with the same family leadership, tracing its roots to before the Civil War when it made horse harnesses and saddles.

Today, it is\u00a0a significant business that\u00a0competes on a global scale to\u00a0design and manufacture seats\u00a0for the agricultural, construction, industrial and on-highway truck markets.

Clients include Deere & Co., CNH, Caterpillar, Bobcat, Hyster, Yale and Freightliner.

Call up the company's website, and you see a world map noting sales in North and South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Russia, China, India, Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

\u00a0And it provides 500 good jobs in the Quad-Cities.

For all that, Sears is somewhat \"under the radar.\" Some\u00a0Quad-Citians have never heard of it, while others\u00a0incorrectly think it has\u00a0something to do with the department store.

But no, it is one of a vanishing number of manufacturers whose boss' name is actually on the door, who can be talked to at company functions, who knows\u00a0 many employees by name. And that remains true still, as\u00a0Weir's children now are at the helm.

One of the reasons for the company's\u00a0success under\u00a0Weir Sears is that he\u00a0wasn't content with producing simply a good product, said\u00a0Dana Waterman,\u00a0of the Davenport law firm of Lane & Waterman, and a 30-year member of the Sears board.

\"He wanted Sears to be the engineering leader in the field, within the range of affordability,\" Waterman said.\u00a0

Drive down to the company's plant, and you'll see a box-like structure, a testing facility that simulates rides of off-road vehicles such as bulldozers, tractors and combines so that engineers can design systems that make the rides on these vehicles more comfortable.

\"That ride simulator was really innovative, \"Waterman said. \"No one else in the industry was doing that.

\"Weir had a vision for what he wanted the company to be and how he wanted it to be led. His vision and personal leadership were the keys that enabled the company to grow to the global enterprise it is today.

\"I call Weir a 'tour de force.'\"

The square-jawed Sears also was an inventor, holding 10 U.S. and 46 international patents, according to his obituary, and\u00a0he had a\u00a0\"great sense of humor,\" Waterman added.

At one point in the mid-1980s, Sears bet\u00a0Waterman's father \"a bucket of martinis\" that a certain joint venture they were working on would not succeed.

When it did succeed and Sears lost the bet, he sent a young woman \"in a somewhat risqu\u00e9 outfit\" to visit the buttoned-down Lane\u00a0& Waterman firm\u00a0 with a bucket containing a bottle of Beefeaters gin, vermouth, ice and glasses.

\"He couldn't just pay off the bet,\" Waterman said.

One of the attributes assigned\u00a0to Sears\u00a0that caught my eye when reading\u00a0his obituary was his ability to\u00a0recite Robert Service's poem \"The Cremation of Sam McGee.\"

I've always admired people who can memorize chunks of literature and hearing \"Sam McGee\" \u2014 a long, and creepy (to me) ballad about the cremation\u00a0of a gold prospector who freezes to death in Yukon, Canada \u2014 definitely would have been impressive.

The obituary\u00a0also noted that Sears \"never forgot a name and never forgot a face.\"

I have it on good authority that that is literally\u00a0true.\u00a0

A very personal and telling piece\u00a0of\u00a0 Weir Sears' wide-ranging impact.

"}, {"id":"9428812c-2daf-5c84-a2b6-a7484dda57d7","type":"article","starttime":"1486289700","starttime_iso8601":"2017-02-05T04:15:00-06:00","sections":[{"home-and-garden":"lifestyles/home-and-garden"},{"alma-gaul":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul"}],"application":"editorial","title":"HOMEFRONT: Reporting in on the new knee","url":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/article_9428812c-2daf-5c84-a2b6-a7484dda57d7.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/homefront-reporting-in-on-the-new-knee/article_9428812c-2daf-5c84-a2b6-a7484dda57d7.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/homefront-reporting-in-on-the-new-knee/article_9428812c-2daf-5c84-a2b6-a7484dda57d7.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"\u00a0I am about half-way between knee surgeries. The first, replacement of my left\u00a0knee, was Jan. 11. The right knee\u00a0will be Feb. 22. I found the first week after surgery to be miserable. I know that\u2019s probably not what one should say, but it\u2019s the truth. The brochures that warn patients to expect \u201csome pain\u201d soft-pedal the reality, I can attest.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["anatomy","knee","physical therapy","surgery","medicine","swelling","therapy","pain"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","revision":7,"commentID":"9428812c-2daf-5c84-a2b6-a7484dda57d7","body":"

\u00a0I am about half-way between knee surgeries.

The first, replacement of my left\u00a0knee, was Jan. 11. The right knee\u00a0will be Feb. 22.

I found the first week after surgery to be miserable. I know that\u2019s probably not what one should say, but it\u2019s the truth. The brochures that warn patients to expect \u201csome pain\u201d soft-pedal the reality, I can attest.

But, it does get better.

At the one week, one day point, I began to feel like myself. I was off the strongest pain meds, and my head cleared to the point that I could hold thoughts together. Shortly thereafter came other milestones\u00a0\u2014 being able to push my foot into a shoe all by myself and tie the laces, for example. And swelling reduced to where I had some semblance of an ankle again.

A good result with knee replacement all depends on physical therapy, and I\u2019m trying to be faithful. First, the exercises advise you to hold a \u201cgentle stretch.\u201d Then they progress to asking you to push as hard as you possibly can. Ouch! I go to\u00a0professional physical therapy three times a week, do sets of at-home exercises three times a day and try to go for walks in the neighborhood. (I need to push harder on those.)

Each formal therapy visit introduces new challenges, dangling the carrot ever so slightly farther away. You can walk up stairs now? OK, let\u2019s start walking down stairs.

One of my biggest challenges at present is to wean myself from sleeping with pillows under my legs. Propping up my legs feels oh, so good, but it allows the knee to flex when it really needs to get on with the business of being straight. This is one of the points of surgery\u00a0\u2014 to be able to stand straight again.

Before surgery, I laid in a stack of books. I figured I\u2019d have lots of time to read. Not so. Between\u00a0therapy and exercises, icing, napping (surgery is a blow to the system), everyday activities (grocery shopping, watering plants) and keeping up with the newspapers and the activities of our new president, the day fills up.

I am grateful for all the people who have helped me\u00a0\u2014 doctors and nurses, therapists, family and friends. And thank you to my co-workers and readers who sent cards and emails of best wishes and encouragement. That means so much.

"}, {"id":"e91e8297-adfe-565e-a974-3d0fa5bd41a3","type":"article","starttime":"1484475300","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-15T04:15:00-06:00","sections":[{"alma-gaul":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Taking time off for my knees","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/article_e91e8297-adfe-565e-a974-3d0fa5bd41a3.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/taking-time-off-for-my-knees/article_e91e8297-adfe-565e-a974-3d0fa5bd41a3.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/taking-time-off-for-my-knees/article_e91e8297-adfe-565e-a974-3d0fa5bd41a3.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"I first went to a\u00a0doctor about knee pain in 1984. Nothing much to do about it, she said. Your\u00a0family has a history of arthritis so you probably will,\u00a0too. And she was right. It's now been about 30 years of fussing about my knees, first the\u00a0left, then the right. As health maladies go,\u00a0it's certainly way down on the list. Sore knees won't kill me.\u00a0It's not cancer or kidney\u00a0failure.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["walker","arthritis","knee","medicine","malady","cancer","co-worker","kidney failure","freelancer","pain"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","revision":4,"commentID":"e91e8297-adfe-565e-a974-3d0fa5bd41a3","body":"

I first went to a\u00a0doctor about knee pain in 1984.

Nothing much to do about it, she said. Your\u00a0family has a history of arthritis so you probably will,\u00a0too.

And she was right. It's now been about 30 years of fussing about my knees, first the\u00a0left, then the right. As health maladies go,\u00a0it's certainly way down on the list. Sore knees won't kill me.\u00a0It's not cancer or kidney\u00a0failure.

And given that\u00a0I sit a lot at my\u00a0job, I can function. My dad, a farmer, did not have it so easy. He was constantly on his feet.

But, I finally\u00a0decided to have my knees replaced. My first surgery was Wednesday and the second will be in February. I'll be off work nearly three months, which is\u00a0daunting to me.

In the meantime, co-workers and freelancers will write stories for this section. That will be good. You'll get new topics and\u00a0fresh perspectives.

I'll let you know how it goes.

"} ]