Friday, September 30, 2016

Craft Shows, Politics and Toilets

A sneak peek at my new felted wool chicken pincushions.
At  last a chance to breathe and write, they are synonymous to me. Too many things to do lately! Here we are, right on schedule or so I think and then our upstair's toilet and adjoining pipe let loose! It is an experience that demonstrated that my husband doesn't have the temperament to be president! Moans, groans and too many expletives spewed forth from the upstairs bathroom!
Some of my new 2-toned wool pincushions.

Then a trip out to buy a new toilet on the night of the first presidential debate proved that it was a good thing that my husband wasn't planning on watching it! He has bigger real-life issues to deal with, and he doesn't seem to mind that he's just disqualified himself to be a write-in contender in a year where a write-in candidate just might win! Taking care of Little House is job enough, and being at war with a flooding bathroom threw him into overload along with being our Secretary of Finance! "This is what we have savings for," I assured him though little did I know then that I would soon be advising him to call a plumber! "Likely that is what Trump would do", I thought to myself, not saying it out loud. My husband hates politics!

Lyme Disease and a stroke have earned me the privilege of being cared for, though today I am assigned to "the bucket brigade".  It's the least I can do as I take my leisure.  It's a self-appointed PJ Day for me, along with finishing my pincushions. Upcoming craft sales will be here soon.  My first will be at Jon Katz and Maria Wulf's Bedlam Farm Open House, October 8th and 9th, 2502 State Route 22, just five minutes north of the town of Cambridge, New York. It has become an annual fall event and a chance to be outdoors on Columbus Day Weekend in what will hopefully be peak fall colors and comfortable weather. It will be a nice gathering featuring farm animals, poetry readings, craft show and demonstrations.  Red will be there to herd sheep as well as greet guests along with Maria's dog, Fate.                  .

My new flower pot pincushions.
I offer my pincushions and display ware and Maria and Jon offer their animals, and bit of countryside to share with  an interesting collection of friends, near and far along with all sorts of writers and artists gathered to share their talents and pleasure. We will enjoy this fun event with them and by then we will be celebrating our new plumbing as well! Indeed there is much to look forward to!

New penny rug pincushions.
My husband and I just talked about taking a quick escape after their Open House to go to the New Hampshire /Maine coastline to catch a bit of relaxation at the ocean, a seafood dinner and visit one of my favorite quilt shops, perchance to sneak a peek at a long arm quilting machine. I have a couple of quilting set-ups of my own for now... and likely forever! My mother instilled in me a love for good, old-fashioned, hand-done needlework and quilting, which will likely save us thousands of dollars, though I still dream of a fancy long-arm quilting machine, seafood dinners and functioning toilets!!

Life is good and I look forward to another craft sale season. We will have only two more craft shows after Maria's, both scheduled in November and I will keep you all posted as to their whereabouts and times. And there will soon be more of my wares listed in Little House's Etsy Shop. I am learning that balance in life is everything-- a bit of craft work and sales and back to quilting, quilting and still more quilting.  That is balance to a quilter! You will note that I didn't list housecleaning or cooking! I have two quilts to finish before the end of the year, God-willing and no more catastrophes befall us.

A utility quilt to finish soon and 100+ pair of fleece socks yet to tag for sales.
This quilt is now quilted  but the back-side dedication  is still left to do.
Appliqued dedication to go on back side of friendship quilt.

There will be lots of political news as I keep my fingers busy stitching.  Election drama is proving to be more exciting than old-fashioned jousting tournaments and likely equal in blood-letting! America deserves the best leadership and what a grueling battle our contestants go through to prove themselves worthy. It is not a sport for the faint-hearted, but then I have to think how much talent it takes to be sure the plumbing in the big White House is working, not to speak of the plumbing of the country and the wide world as well. As for Little House, we will content ourselves to simply vote for the candidate of our choice and support him or her with our prayers!

I do ask myself "who in their right mind" would sign up for the job of being president of the U.S.A.  But as I thought that, clarity of mind appeared-- no one "in their right mind" would! Insanity mixed with a bit of humor is good at all levels of leadership! Perhaps I should run for president? My Lyme brain and experiences managing crises are but perhaps "preparation for what is yet to come", and besides, I think I have the right temperament! Keeping my cool when those about me are losing theirs? Tell me, is there a U.S. Department of Sanitation with expert plumbers to clean up world-sized messes or would such "cleaner-upers" be under the Department of Interior instead? I will have to research that answer, but wait... don't all presidents need some on-the-job-training?

It is not by accident that our toilet broke the night of the first presidential campaign of 2016. I think it was providential! I had never before considered my potential talents that might make me suitable for the presidency: stitching-up everything in sight, keeping up with current events on TV and managing home crises, including big messes, and possessing a little insanity and humor...I could well be the winning write-in candidate for this election, with a little support of loyal blog readers and quilters everywhere...Hmmm?

Think of the quilt shows that could be hosted in the White House, and international shows with quilting ambassadors gathered from all countries..."Love and Peace Through Quilting" would indeed "make America great again"...and all other countries too!!?? So if you are still wondering who to vote for, consider your options and perhaps write my name in that blank spot. It is time for love and peace to reign again and perhaps I could arrange free quilting lessons to whoever wants to learn? Wouldn't we all feel more secure if there were more quilts in the world to pull up and over our heads "when the going gets tough"?
My mother's candle-wicking quilt to be finished next year.
A pen and ink "Comfort-Her" quilt block. Next year to be put together.

Another block, 49 in all completed for my "Comfort-Her"!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Experiences that Keep on Giving

Our world was recently derailed. My husband couldn't see well and went to see our ophthalmologist and in the middle of his appointment his doctor summoned his partner in to see what he saw. Not only did my husband have one of the biggest floaters the doctor had ever seen, he and his partner saw abnormal cells clustered in both of his eyes.  He was referred to a retinal specialist two hours away from us and his appointment scheduled only one week later, though it was postponed for another week before he was actually seen. My daughter took him to this appointment while I stayed behind to care for her two step-children. He needed a driver and I rarely drive that far.

I read about abnormal cells in eyes on the internet and made myself stop, as it was just too scary!! I hoped that his appointment being postponed meant that his problems might not be so urgent and I busied myself with sewing for my upcoming craft sales to make time pass faster.

The specialist confirmed the presence of abnormal cells and recommended a vitrectomy, a removal of the vitreous, in this case primarily for the purpose of  having these cells tested, but also to remove his floaters. The good news was that for many patients, removing the gelatinous fluid in the vitreous and refilling it with a salt solution removes floaters and improves eye sight; the bad news was that the abnormal cells could be cancer, though other inflammatory diseases produce floaters and abnormal cells as well.  We tried to focus on the positive, but it was a long six day wait for his surgery and we thought even more time would be necessary before we would get test results on the abnormal cells.

I began to realize that our medical histories have a way of re-cycling, especially if they are traumatic and what medical urgencies aren't? Our past experiences keep on giving and this is both bad and good. I sent my questions with my daughter when she taxied my husband to see the specialist. My husband's initial diagnosis was vitritis . Any medical word ending in "itis" means inflammation and being The Queen of Inflammation, I questioned if this could be caused by late-stage Lyme Disease as it causes inflammations everywhere as well as uveitis, an eye disease that can cause serious damage to any or all parts of the eye and includes vitritis, that only affects the vitreous.

Fortunately, his doctors all reported that the front and back of my husband's eyes looked to be OK. Lyme, despite its seriousness would be better than cancer, I reasoned, like reasoning had anything to do with what was actually happening in my husband's eyes! I was "reaching" as anything would be better than cancer! "Bargaining" is often one of the first stages of grief, and I seemed to be right there! We were all in shock about his eye issues and it was hard to imagine that our lives might be changed forever, or NOT. depending on the results of the tests they would run on these cells.

The retinal specialist wondered how me having Lyme had anything to do with my husband and told my daughter Lyme wasn't transmittable to another person. My daughter, having Chronic Lyme knew different.  She replied that she and her sister had acquired it from me in utero, and that it is thought to be potentially sexually transmitted as well, and why not, as it is caused by a spirochete, similar to syphilis! The specialist asked her to cite medical references to her knowledge but who carries such references in their head, especially as Lyme Disease causes memory gliches, especially details involving names and dates. He let her know that such facts were likely "bad medical science" and added that Chronic Lyme Disease is a very controversial topic, and that if he did test for Lyme and it was positive, he would be sure to refer my husband to a certified disease specialist who works under the CDC!

We are aware that the CDC doesn't believe that Chronic Lyme Disease exists, as they don't believe that patients who have had acute Lyme Disease and been treated still have active infection, but rather that they have gone on to develop an autoimmune disease that will no longer respond to treatment designed to kill off active infection. Doctors who believe in Chronic Lyme are called Lyme-literate doctors and they believe that if symptoms persist, it is likely due to active infection.There are studies that show this to be true, though I am no better than my daughter at citing references.

There was much to do to be ready for his surgery. We would get hotel reservations and travel the evening before, as surgery was to be first thing in the morning and we would stay until after he had his follow-up appointment the next morning to keep from having to commute the distance! His surgery would be done on an out-patient basis. My husband and daughter needed to take time off from their respective work and my husband needed to get a pre-op physical, pre-registered at the hospital, check with his insurance to be sure no prior authorization was needed and have a phone conference with the anesthesiologist's nurse. Our animals would also need care arranged for them. I was less busy and so I appointed myself the task of worrying, no matter that I know how useless that can be!!  Being a nurse, I find that my way of dealing with serious medical issues is to gather information and cross bridges before I come to them.  If I can cope with the worst, then I am well-prepared to deal with whatever I need to deal with. I do admit this does cause some unnecessary angst!  Did I mention that my husband is not the easiest of patients to care for? I simply added that to my worry list! I was then busier than either my husband or daughter!

Past experience, I have found to be a very strong teacher indeed! We have questioned whether or not my husband has Lyme before, but to date he has only been tested for Lyme through a hospital lab not as reputable and sensitive like the special Lyme testing laboratory, Igenex. Biopsies of affected tissues can be even more diagnostic than usual testing, as the usual Lyme tests can produce less than reliable results, especially with patients who have had Lyme Disease long enough that their immune system and responses are already damaged. Biopsies can offer an advantage, but I do have a way of forgetting that I am NOT the doctor!

From prior experience, we know that medical doctors are often limited in what they know about Lyme Disease, though I find it interesting that doctors, while unknowledgeable often are negatively biased and believe what the CDC has told them, never questioning that this information might be inaccurate. My daughter told me about the surgeon's response to my concern and I didn't look forward to future encounters with a medical professional that is not only NOT Lyme-literate, but one that is so negatively biased.

This specialist however came highly recommended by our trusted ophthalmologist and had seen my husband years earlier and it was also clear that there was some urgency to this situation. We didn't have time, nor the money to find another specialist, and we decided that any future questions would be made without reference to "the controversial topic of Lyme Disease".

Keeping my mouth shut would be a tall order for me when I have such strong opinions, based on my own experiences and those of my children.  I went thirty-eight years without a diagnosis and proper treatment and my kids were in their late teens before they were diagnosed. Sadly, our bodies had incurred much permanent damage before receiving treatment. Our medical issues and those of my children would have been much less had my past doctors been aware, tested and treated us for Lyme much earlier in the course of our illnesses. I am a loud and strong and very verbal advocate for Lyme Disease awareness and widespread education!  It is a disease much more prevalent than the Zika or West Nile Viruses and the disability and mortality rate more significant, though sadly its research less funded! Invisible diseases I have learned glean less notoriety!

My husband was called by the anesthesiology  department for an intake interview only days before surgery. My daughter and husband had indicated that my husband was allergic to sedatives and pain killers but my husband wasn't certain that they understood that they actually cause him to become apneic (to stop breathing)! I decided that perhaps it would be wise for my husband to be sure that he got his medical records from our local hospital regarding his last surgery to "drive home" this issue and prevent it from recurring!  Again past medical experiences were  re-cycling, and we were determined to use this information in a positive way! Doctor-to-doctor communication of facts can speak loudest. This is common nurse knowledge of my yester-years and this was indeed important enough to communicate most clearly!

Being concerned that everyone be "on the same page" we  also planned to verbally share this information with everyone before surgery including the doctor and anesthesiologist! All heard and the eye surgeon responded confidently explaining that he would "go light" on medication and asked my husband to trust that he would be kept awake, but safe and comfortable throughout surgery and promised to NOT over-medicate him. In turn, he added that my husband needed to communicate should he feel any pain. My husband's anxiety strangely decreased so much that prior to surgery he dozed without medication. He knew that my daughter and I were on his team and that I would do his worrying for him!! The doctor and hospital staff all did their part to perfection. The eye surgeon even pre-marked his eye to be operated on. Surgery in a large institution is anything but "holistic", but safe-guards were built into their system to prevent any errors! The transfers of care were done with open communication and their care was efficient and effective and the results were all good!

We learned from this experience that our processing was what was most important. Re-cycling all of our past medical experiences, we carefully sorted and talked about what needed to be communicated, and realized later that this contributed to the comfort and success of his surgery.  Possible complications were avoided!

By the morning after, the surgeon had the pathology report to give us.  There was NO cancer! It is likely that an inflammatory illness damaged my husband's eyes and my concerns about possibly acquired Lyme Disease were legitimate though his eye surgeon had his biases. He humbly admitted that he is NOT an expert on Lyme, and he and the pathologist decided Chronic Lyme was an issue best left to my husband's doctor to further explore. He indicated that often they never discover why the inflammation occurred and clearly without testing, I could understand why this was a common occurrence!

In the medical world when they don't know what causes something, they say it is of "unknown etiology". We did find out that this surgeon's main concern was cancer and the news of my husband not having that was a huge relief! I did feel bad that the opportunity to further test for Lyme Disease was not taken. My youngest daughter had spirochetes cultured from skin lesions she had, and my lyme was actually diagnosed through tests on my urine where lyme antibodies were found. If however, my husband had been tested for Lyme and it and found, this doctor would have been responsible to refer him to for further treatment and likely that would have been to "a certified CDC disease specialist" as he had indicated.  The irony of the situation, was that the specialist referred this issue back to my husband's primary care doctor, who just happens to be my previous Lyme-literate doctor.  This is the same doctor who was made to drop his Chronic Lyme Disease patients and no longer treat lyme disease (we think under threat of his medical license).

We are under no illusions that his own primary care doctor will further test or treat my husband for Chronic Lyme. He is at least very knowledgeable about Lyme Disease and is likely the best doctor to make decisions regarding my husband's future care. There is, of course, the possibility that my husband has some other inflammatory disease instead.

It is a fact that Chronic Lyme Disease has gotten a "bad rap" here in Vermont and elsewhere. My thinking is NOT paranoid. For those of us who have Chronic Lyme, we know that it both exists and lives-on in thousands of patients. While the CDC has denied this disease's presence, their denial doesn't eliminate this disease! It is also part of my medical experience that I have lost the best doctor I ever had, when they made him literally "dump" his Chronic Lyme patients and stop treating them.

He was made an example of in this state, and it does seem apparent that the CDC has been hard at work to be sure to "educate" other doctors that this disease does NOT exist. Their decision has made finding appropriate care very difficult to be sure and added much insult to injury for patients to be told that their illness was all in their heads, though their symptoms were often successfully abated when treated with long-term antibiotics by such Lyme-Literate doctors that respect that short-term treatment for Lyme is often inadequate!

It is a fact that our illness often does afflict our brains, as I found out when an MRI was done following my stroke. My brain is peppered with lesions that were there prior to my stroke. Likely my treatment had attacked the active infection in one of them causing much swelling and ischemia (lack of blood flow) around it. The swelling was treated and thank goodness the effects of my stroke were reversed.

While psychiatric care can be helpful, make no mistake, it alone doesn't treat an ongoing infection that may also affect the brain. Research has shown that patients treated with limited antibiotics often continue to have an active, and ongoing Lyme infection. Proper treatment is tricky business. Lyme Disease manifests itself in three different forms, two of which surround themselves with a protein that makes it hard to penetrate and kill off. Other forms of treatment are then needed in order to effectively "get at" and kill-off these mutated forms.

For those of us who have Lyme, we know it to be an illness that "keeps on giving". It often creates more medical problems, not only for the patient but can also be passed on to their off-spring in utero and/or to their spouses sexually.As patients we can feel its effect or the effects of our immune system trying to fight it off. It can "mess with our heads" through on-going infection or neurological damage. It can make us less tolerant of stresses or even normal activity and exercise and there are medical reasons for our heightened reactions. Living with it means that we are constantly challenged to take count of our energies both before and after events as their effects can produce delayed negative responses as well.

Being our own advocates whether it be Lyme Disease or any other illness that we are coping with, means that we ask questions and be actively involved. Those of us with serious chronic illness live in an alternative reality and will indeed surprise our medical care providers with questions and concerns "out of the ordinary". It is also important that we communicate our sensitivities as we are often more vulnerable than others undergoing similar procedures.

I also learned through this event that it is important that each doctor offer their own specific expertise and that we respect both what they offer and don't offer. While this doctor reasoned that the tests run on the fluid removed from my husband's vitreous are expensive enough that he felt other more common tests for Lyme Disease would be less costly, we know how hard it is to have opportunities to locate areas affected and have them biopsied. He later said that he didn't have expertise in Lyme Disease. I can only hope that he learned a bit about Chronic Lyme Disease in considering our questions. I reasoned later that if he had tested my husband and referred my husband to a "certified disease specialist under the CDC"  treatment might well have been systemic steroidal anti-inflammatories which would effectively suppress inflammation, but would also suppress his body's ability to fight any active infection, if present, whereas a Lyme-literate doctor would likely treat with antibiotics as well as other treatments to get at the mutated forms of  a possible active Lyme infection instead.

I do find it sad that our medical system is this political and that the patients are the ones caught in the middle,but it is a reality that I live with every day as a victim of Lyme Disease. We are, however, armed with knowledge and that is indeed powerful. Our surgeon at least showed our concerns respect by adding them to the medical report that will go to my husband's primary care doctor.  I am sure that the surgeon's life is simplified by effectively side-stepping or avoiding this "black hole" in medicine, whether that is his intent or not.  Lyme Disease is controversial and sadly Lyme will continue to be denied as the medical community is not about to confront the controversy that exists.  Doctors in this state, at least, are better off personally and professionally if they avoid any testing or treatingthis disease!

(For those readers that question my paranoia regarding Lyme Disease and its treatment, I respectfully suggest they read Plague by Judy Mikovits.  It is a true life story about the politics involved in controversial medical diagnoses of ME/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism and other such autoimmune diseases (including Lyme Disease) and their  possible links to retroviruses and immunizations.  If you don't think politics are involved in medicine, think again! My doctor was luckier than some in that he is still practicing medicine with some limits imposed on him, whereas many have been permanently put out of their careers, "plagued" with ongoing lawsuits to threaten them, or have mysteriously and suddenly been found dead. Their personal and/or professional losses have become very real losses to their patients as well! Going without their care is a great loss indeed! Many thanks to those Lyme-literate doctors who dare take the risk to themselves professionally when they treat us!)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Sweet New Relative and Corrections for My Fred Kiechel Blog

The computer and internet make for a very small world! Remember the blog I posted in January 2016, about my cousin and I spending the afternoon reading about our Great Grandfather, Fred Kiechel? Well, I find it more than coincidental that a distant relative's wife spent time reading my blog after randomly looking up to see what other information she could glean off the internet about her husband's Great Grandfather who happened to be the same Fred Kiechel that I wrote about. Shortly thereafter, she tracked me down and called me. I think I was as excited to hear from her as she was as excited to talk to me.  Thus a new relationship was made, thanks to our common ancestor, Fred Kiechel!
Fred Kiechel

Her husband's grandfather was a brother to my grandmother and though their father, Fred Kiechel lived in Nebraska, my new relative and her husband and father-in-law now reside in Washington D.C. The internet and our ability to travel generations as well as miles with our finger-tips is indeed amazing!

I had not been entirely accurate about Fred Kiechel and she added corrections.  Fred Kiechel's father did die before his mother brought him and his two siblings to America, from Alsace Loraine, France and his  mother later did remarry BUT Fred Kiechel was born Fred Kiechel and remained Fred Kiechel his whole life. He was never adopted by his stepfather and the picture that I thought was an early picture of his wife, Alvina, and her brother, was more likely a picture of their second child, my grandmother, Addie Rose and her brother Walter, though that will hopefully be confirmed in the near future.
Perhaps Addie Rose Kiechel, my Grandmother and her brother, Walter?

I gathered information to send to my new relatives, which included copies of my grandmother's diaries and copies of old pictures and family trees associated with Fred. I also sent a copy of a letter written by my grandmother's brother to her, along with the articles my Great Grandfather, Fred Kiechel had written for a local newspaper regarding some of the history of the area of Nebraska that he and his wife had helped settle. In the process of doing this, I learned even more about Fred. His mother had remarried and had several more children.  She died shortly after birthing her last child, and knowing she would die, she requested that her first daughter raise this baby.

Fred's step father quickly raced to town to get a marriage license to marry Fred's sister and while he was gone, she fled to the home of a young man she had been courting and they were married instead. Her stepfather, in anger, threw Fred and his brother out of the house and disinherited them. They then lived with their sister and her husband for a time!

This would likely explain why Fred's grandson never heard him talk much about his mother! Fred's persona grew even bigger when I heard about this. His story is indeed a remarkable story of a young man who wasn't about to let personal loss and hard times stand in the way of his success! He indeed had much to be proud about as he reflected on his life and wrote his "not-so-humble account of it" that was later read by his son at he and his wife's 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration. The details of this glorious celebration and Fred's reflections were published in their local newspaper and was the article that my cousin and I spent the afternoon reading! Fred came alive again for a time. He was indeed a very colorful sort of personality!

The varieties of Smith Island Cakes found at!!

An Original Smith Island Cake for those with a serious sweet tooth! YUM!!
I look forward to my new relative sharing any more information that she might glean from her father-in-law and his sister, the only two remaining relatives that I know of from my mother's generation. For my efforts in mailing the information that my father and my mother's cousin had gathered, I received a beautiful Smith Island Cake in the mail. I wrote to my relative that she had quickly become my "sweetest" relative ever for indeed this cake was made the way I like my cakes, half frosting/ half cake, and just like the fishermen that feasted on such a moist cake while at sea, we made it last as long as we could!  My daughter, husband and myself were indeed well-paid for our efforts, besides which I have now dusted off my family's ancestry box.

It is time to copy the family historical information for my siblings!  I had been overwhelmed by this task, and it really wasn't so hard, as with computers I can now scan the pictures and other information and load it on DVD's and my mother's mother's side of the family is now done and ready to be sent to my own family members! I just need to do my mother's dad's side of the family and my father's side of the family! I also plan to post this information on so that other relatives may access this information as well.

Perhaps I will meet more new relatives in the future, though to be sure, there will never be another relative as sweet, quite literally, as my Great Grandfather's Great Grandson's wife!! Shortly after confessing to her that I was at first reluctant to share this cake with my daughter and husband and considered hiding it in the freezer and keeping it all for myself, she emailed me back so say that she had ordered one of these cakes for herself, as her husband and son don't much care for sweets. My daughter and I are now convinced that she IS 100% blood relative, instead of her husband and their son!!
Cookies and Cakes make for healthy  breakfasts! Martin Potato Salad does too!

I inherited a sweet tooth from my mother and her sisters, and find it sad that my mother's correspondence with her sisters and mother wasn't saved, for they were hand-written letters loaded with new sweet recipes. We called them "Martin" letters, as they were all about Addie Rose Martin family gatherings and what was being served, along with recipes and snippets of materials with descriptions of new dresses and quilts in process! My new "sweet" relative fits right into our family!!

I wonder if she knows anything about the yellow mustard potato salad family recipe that we credit to my grandmother's side of the family--perhaps it isn't really "Martin Potato Salad", but rather "Kiechel Potato Salad" instead?

Sunday, August 7, 2016


My mother's UFO, her most beautiful quilt ever. I am "in-training" to finish it.
UFO's to a quilter are those unfinished quilts that we haven't finished before moving onto making others.  Newer quilt projects are more enticing, and so apparently I am not the only one, it seems, to have UFO's in abundance.  WIPs or works in progress may or may not be included among them. I am working to prioritize my sewing and put all my UFO's onto my WIP or in my case, PIP (Projects in Process) Do-List. I will finish them, if it is the last thing I do, and they may very well be just that!! I have since placed written directions in plastic sleeves to store with them. This alleviates any worry that should I die with them left unfinished, any quilter can pick up where I have left off. I am a control freak enough that I would hope they are finished just as I want them to be finished! "Dream on, Jane Girl!!
WIP's or PIP's. No more UFO's!
I have a new motto "Finished is better than perfect", though I don't want to spoil any quilts that have great starts and so I am having to learn new skills to actually accomplish what I have started.  Perhaps there are other quilters out there that "get stuck" as I do and find myself suddenly in over-my-head and I don't know how to proceed.  I would hope I am not the only one that "takes on more than I can chew" or in the case of sewing "more than I can sew"!

My mother had only one UFO, and it was her most beautiful quilt ever and foolishly, I agreed to finish it for her so she could die in peace, though I am living without any peace as a result of this commitment!! She was working hard to finish it and was having some real quality control issues and it was too beautiful a quilt to have her push on and potentially ruin what is truly a gorgeous and unusual quilt. As I hadn't quilted in a very long time, I have been brushing up on my quilting skills and learning new ones, in order to be worthy of finishing her quilt.
 I remind myself that my life' purpose is to eat, pray and quilt!

I have been making some new utility quilts to practice machine quilting skills and quilt-as-you-go technique, though my mother's quilts were always done entirely by hand using a similar quilt-as-you-go technique.  I have come to terms with the fact that not all my quilts will be hand-quilted as my life span is growing shorter all the time.  I often whine now that my other careers should have been abandoned long before they were, no matter that they "earned" a living, unlike quilting, besides you know what they say about hindsight anyway!

UFO? You decide! (The circle has been added to help see the mystery lights.

The subject of UFO's seems to be foremost in my husband's world as well...and these are not the quilter's kind! He has been out taking photographs of The Milky Way and other galaxy-sort of subjects, and when he puts them on his computer he is finding strange lights belonging to aircraft, that don't look like ones used by any earthlings that we know.  I will try to post a few of them in such a way that my readers can see what we see.  They are more impressive when they are blown up larger.
The circle has been added to this picture for viewer's ease to find the UFO.
My husband is not seeing them with his naked eye, only in his pictures. I have sent them onto friends, some of whom consider it nothing so surprising, as they just know that we aren't alone in this universe and other's like me, are shocked by any such apparent realities.

See circled lights. UFO's or airplanes' blinking lights with slow shutter speed?
I have never enjoyed learning about astronomy.  The thought of other life forms on other planets is just too big for me to "take in". I remember as a child having to go to our local Observatory Park to view a planet through a telescope. After standing in a line blocks long in the freezing cold winter weather, I finally got my turn to look in the telescope. I had to climb a narrow flight of stairs, and did I mention that I am afraid of heights and only to see nothing. The astronomer kept yelling at others, when they reported not seeing what we were there to see. I falsely reported that I saw whatever it was I was supposed to see though I didn't. I didn't want to be yelled at, though the person after me was more honest and sure enough, the planet had moved, or was it the telescope? My assignment to draw what I saw was lifted from an encyclopedia that was never credited!  I preferred to be at home, all warm and cozy doing my needlework! Some things never change!

Now, in our home my husband and I have our own TV rooms. He loves science programs, and I prefer chick flicks with a sewing station in my living room, and real "down-to-earth" news programs. I tune into dramas or earth-bound politics, which my husband complains is the lowest of low TV programming.  My husband has tried to subject me to such movies as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars and the classic TV series, Star Trek. I find their space ships unwarmly decorated and their attire not so attractive either...No "down home" comforts in their world and I understand that that those that have supposedly been abducted find real alien space ships to be similar...rather cold and metallic-like without home warmth and friendliness.

It would be my worst nightmare to be abducted, and though I insist that my husband take his "earth anchor" with him, I will only accompany him with a suitcase packed with a favorite cozy quilt and picture of my family in case of abduction. Just thinking about the possibility of unwanted travel in these alien craft, will necessitate me wearing clean underwear with no holes as well! I understand that as an earthling, I might be subject to examinations similar to those at a doctor's office. Clearly they know little about down-home hospitality!!

So I leave it up to you, my readers to help us figure out what we are seeing, and do let me know about any alien etiquette we should know, just in case?  I do understand now that our local Vermont area is known for having such spaceship sightings, but why should that surprise me.  It is truly "a down-home-sort-of-place", the sort that makes anyone, and perhaps even aliens feel "at-home".  I used to say that we came home to a place we had never been before!  It is truly an "out-of-this-world" sort of place to live!! (pun intended!)

(One of my friend's son, said that perhaps with slower shutter speed, my husband is actually photographing blinking airplane lights that make these lines. It would be a relief to know that I needn't fear any alien abduction, and so I hope this theory is right!?  If any of you have gotten these in your night-time photographs we would be interested to hear from you? Though we are also open to hearing from those who have experiences with real UFO's as well! My daughter insists that she has actually seen lights flying erratically, not like any airplane she has ever known? Do please let us know what you think!)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Are You Feeling the Burn?

My readers know that I have pledged to my daughter, that I will NOT use my blog to make political or religious stands.  She knows too well that it would be too easy for me to alienate my readers, besides which, isn't there enough divisiveness in our country today?  I don't care to add to it! BUT my blog is about home values that are likely a kin to both religious values and how they are lived out, and if that isn't about politics, I am not sure what is? Nonetheless, I plan to keep my commitment and I hope my readers will see that this isn't really about politics.

I want to touch on  the "Feel-the-Bern-Movement".  I am after all living in the land of Bernie Sanders, in The Green Mountain State of Vermont.  Bernie and I have a history, though to be certain, I remember him more than he remembers me.  He has helped me on two important occasions in my life, though we couldn't be more opposite regarding some of our political views!

Only a year after moving to Vermont, my teaching position was discontinued leaving me unemployed for a time.  I applied for unemployment benefits, only to be refused as Vermont sometimes forgets that it is part of the United States and they figured I had only worked for a year and wasn't "eligible". They couldn't see that I had been employed since I was sixteen  in the state of the really big mountains, Colorado. To native Vermonters, all born outside of this state are considered "flatlanders", a description that I never did like nor considered "fair". Bernie was able to see the bigger picture--that Vermont is connected to all other states and had to remind Vermont's Unemployment Office that I was entitled to receive benefits from the federal government for being unemployed. Fortunately this fix was needed only temporarily.

Bernie again helped me when I was seeking disability benefits shortly before I reached retirement age, as I found myself unable to meet the physical demands of being an office nurse. It not only took a specialized lawyer, but a push from our state senator to finally get my case heard and it was Bernie's office that helped me.  I have never forgotten Bernie!

Though his socialistic values don't represent my own, I "felt the burn" for  the "Feel-the-Bern-Movement" as I watched the DNC Convention. The DNC's apology didn't "cut it with me" as Bernie's dedicated supporters literally "burned with anger" when they heard about the emails that exposed the "rigging of the DNC unfairly favoring Hillary over Bernie.  The DNC Convention's attempt to appease them with an apology along with Paul Simon's song, Bridge Over Troubled Waters doesn't erase the fact that the race was NOT won in a fair and democratic way.  It was a cheap and cheesy trick and didn't fool his supporters! Bernie and his supporters weren't given a fair and equal chance to win and to gloss over this was to strip them of their democratic rights!

I don't care which party a person is affiliated with, accountability was lacking for devious and deceitful actions! I continue to scratch my head as to why wrongful actions aren't met with a swift disqualification in today's world. Whatever happened to accountability after breaking rules.  This is happening not only in the world of politics but in the Olympics as well!

I appreciate Jesus' parable of sewing seeds and that weeds are allowed to grow along with the good seeds and that there will be a day of reckoning when the sorting of the harvest begins, BUT I am also encouraged by the parable of the prodigal son. His father was ever so glad to see him come home after squandering his inheritance, and was quick to forgive him and kill the fatted calf to host a barbeque party in celebration of his return, BUT the story doesn't end there. The father's older son may have been jealous, but in the end he still had his inheritance, whereas the younger prodigal son had lost his. God is fair and just, and laws, rules and regulations are designed to be as well.  Actions are NOT without consequences! So I too "feel the burn" for the "Feel-the-Bern Movement" when real justice is missing!

Integrity is everything and hats off to all winners and losers that fight the fight with integrity for that is the only way to real victory!

"Bernie and Bernie Supporters, I feel your burn!! There is guilt here that needs to be accounted for. This matters to all of us who have "down-home values".  Right and wrong still exist in my eyes and the eyes of others as well! And now as one of my friend's would say, "Thus ends my sermon!"

(Getting my daughter's approval to post this, she added that she hopes that Vermont will secede from the Union (not an infrequent solution for staunchly independent Vermonters), and then added that she wants a very tall wall built between Vermont and its surrounding states!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Our Favorite Annual Event--The Vermont Quilt Festival

I have been slow to blog as I had to take a week off to rest up before and after our annual event, attending The Vermont Quilt Festival, June 24-26th. It is where I get an overdose of inspiration, enough to last a whole year. This year we went on Sunday, which is good in that it isn't so crowded, but not so good as it closed earlier than we remembered, and we were cut short.

Fortunately, my husband considers the show a challenging and rewarding subject for him to photograph each year. My stamina is less than stellar and so I can enjoy the quilt show throughout the whole year through his pictures.  He has taught me that any of his photographs can be blown up to better capture the technical aspects of each quilt, truly a worthy study for any quilter! These quilts are better in person, but for those of you that are like me and are challenged to spend a lot of time at a quilt show or even get to one, I hope you enjoy these snippets. Each quilt pictured is followed by a picture of their entry number and quilter to give credit where it is due. I only dream of making such beautiful quilts, but keep working to that end...Maybe someday!?

This year did not disappoint us, except for what we believed to be its shrinking hours on Sunday? It is always the last weekend in June, for those of you that want to take in this wonderful quilt show next year.  It is located in Essex, Vermont and it is posted on line each year, so that you can plan in advance and make reservations for the many quilt classes featured by well-known quilters!  People come from Canada as well as the surrounding states to "take it in".  It is supposedly the largest quilt show in the East. Largest or not, it features beautiful quilts and great vendors that surprise us each year with wonderful selections of fabrics, patterns, notions, machines, and threads.  There is something in this show for everyone, and I am not being paid to say this!! It is truly the place to be in late June.  We are grateful that they moved it to The Exposition Center in Essex Junction years ago, as air conditioning makes it a truly pleasurable event!! Here are but a few of the four-hundred pictures my husband took.  Enjoy!
Row Quilts are becoming popular and this one was created by a challenge.

This "Row Quilt" is by Lorraine Hall and was made for a local quilt show.

The texture of this quilt was amazing (see below)! It is long-arm quilted.

Needle turn and reverse applique, paper-piecing and embellishments used.

Persian Tile Mosaic turned into a quilt!! Amazing or what!?

This quilt is by Megan Farkas, Sanbornton, NH.  What a beauty!!

This bright harvest quilt is made with Kaffe Fassett fabrics!

Quilt by Sylvia S. Smith, East Dorset, Vermont.

I want to try this but will I live long enough? Each tiny block = 1 1/2 inches! 

This Omigosh Quilt with thousands of pieces is made by Kimberly Pratt!

Pizzicato by Katie Pasquini Masopust--NM, VQF Instructors' Showcase Quilt.

Check the detail on this quilt!! Katie has much to teach quilters, to be sure!

This is another quilt in the Instructor's Showcase!

Quilt by Jackie Kunkel, CT. She is a Judy Niemeyer Certified Instructor!

Is this beautiful? Oh MY!! The detailed applique work is perfect!!

This quilt is done by Kathy Dunigan- TX. She is another VFQ Instructor!

This quilt was inspired by an antique quilt at the Newark Museum.

The detailed applique work is wonderful as is the hand-quilting!!

Barb Vedder's work is beautiful!!

This winning applique quilt is done by Barb Vedder, Madison, CT.

This quilt by Betty Ann Colangelo of Lynbrook, NY, is made of feedsacks.

Feedsacks (rare now) used to be a quilter's best source of quilting fabrics!

A visit to Kyushu (Japanese Island) inspired this quilt. Asian-style fabrics.

Beth Valliere of Melrose, MA made this Judy Niemeyer paper-pieced quilt.

This is a Kaffe Fassett version of an old fashioned shell patterned quilt.

Check out Christine Wickert's (Penfield, NY) hand quilting.  It is beautiful!

Check the 3-D toy-design in the center;it differs depending on how it is viewed.

Questions for kiddies are stitched in the corners of the quilt.

Quilted on a home sewing machine!

Quilt by Flora Joy, Johnson City, TN.