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.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Zeldie Doing Better!!

My human thinks this is a likeness of me, but it is not even close!
Zeldie thanks you for your well wishes and prayers and says to tell you all that she is feeling much better! Her lab work does not show kidney problems, but did show signs of infection. She is on an antibiotic that is cherry flavored, which she would like to report is not a favorite flavor among cats, but with her two humans and a syringe it is rudely getting shoved down her throat, and then as if to apologize they are then pushing her to eat by feeding her baby food meats along with the most tempting of canned cat food every couple of hours.  She says she may well have to pretend to be sick just to get this pampered care that, as royalty, she deserves!
 Zeldie gets treated every two hours to gourmet foods & all I get is this ball!
She has been treated for worms and at the animal hospital she was given subcutaneous fluids to hydrate her. Her humans think she may well have something inside that is devouring so much food now!  She still doesn't care to drink, but as yet she hasn't been offered clam juice or champagne!! Her humans seem slow to catch on to the sort of care that cats in her class deserve.  She is still loyal to them, no matter what, for after all, she is a most special breed!!

Her humans want to thank you too for your concern and care! It appears that Zeldie is ready for another life on earth, one of her many.  I am sure that she will soon be back to re-designing my quilts! She wants you all to know that all she has to do is to bite them where she wants her human to do some extra fancy patchwork and is pleased that so far she has re-designed three quilts and looks forward to redesigning many more!
A lovely hand-quilted wool quilt that I...

...bit a few holes in the back and so got this lovely patch done to credit my help!