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  • Linda L. Peterson
    Posted July 8, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    After a kind of rocky start(technical problems on my part) this month’s meeting turned out to be interesting and very enlightening. Dar and I thought we might have distant relatives in common. Also thanks to Dar and Liz for their patience. (Still would like tohear your story,Liz). Here’s my offering for this month:

    My Curiosity is Geneaology

    My curiosityhas sent me in various directions. I’ve been known to read

    encyclopedias just for the knowledge to be gained from them. But I think

    my greatest curiousity has been about my family hiistory..

    From the outset I have been told,one my mother’s side, I am believed to ber

    one hundred percent Norwegian. My mother was the youngest daughter and the ninth

    child of first generation immigrants from Norway. My maternal grandmother was

    orphaned at a young age and came to this country alone at the age of seventeen.

    after working as a domestic, she married my grandfather. They went on to farm land

    in Northeast Iowa owned by former Governor Larrabee’s family.

    After toiling many years on this rocky ground and working in an adjoining quarry,

    my grandfather suffered from dementia.

    When he was taken from the family home by the authorities, they found just over

    three thousand dollars sewn into his ragged jacket. Up until this time, the family had

    been sliding deeper and deeper into poverty.

    On my father’s side of the family, it’s a “duke’s mixture”. My dad’s paternal

    grandfather was said to have deserted the Irish Army during the Potato Famine. After

    arriving in this country, he fought for the Union Army during the Civil War.

    During this time, he acquired an illness that would kill him in his early thirties.

    Before that happened, he came home to marry a Mennonite woman who bore him

    four sons.

    Her family had beem in this countryof In this branch nearly long enough to meet

    the Mayflower.

    Her grandmother gave birth to twins in a cave, while her husband was fighting off


    In this line of the family, are Germans. English, French, and possibly Indians.

    My first paternal grandfasther once owned quite a bit of property in a small town

    in Iowa. He lost most of these holdings during the Great Depression due to his

    generosity in co-signing notes for others.

    Just yesterday, I learned of three distant relatives who fought in the War of 1812.

    • Etya Krichmar
      Posted July 10, 2021 at 11:10 am

      Linda, I am curious about my genealogy as well, but coming from the USSR, I have a hard time researching my family tree. Hopefully, I will get into it again soon, right now I have another priority. After reading your story, I am curious how you and Dar are related? Can’t wait to hear the answer.

      • Linda L. Peterson
        Posted February 17, 2022 at 5:24 pm

        Turns out, we are not

  • Terry E Deer
    Posted July 9, 2021 at 4:14 pm

    I struggled with this prompt, being curious about many things and not sure whether any of them would appeal to others. It was lovely to receive such interest from Mireille and Cathy. Here is the second draft of my response to the curiosity prompt.

    Temari – from “Curiosity” prompt 
    Word count: 653

    My curiosity about Japan began with a book on Japanese art that I bought while I was in college. The culture fascinated me. My father had told stories about living in Japan during the Korean conflict, and I wondered how the friendly Japanese he described could calmly endure the military presence of a nation that annihilated Hiroshima and Nagasaki less than a decade earlier.
    Japan was different, exotic. I wanted to know everything about it, beginning with Japanese art and handwork. I did not consider myself an artist, but rather a needle crafter. Anything created with fabric appealed to me.
    I began my experimentation with fiber arts and crafts when I learned to knit. I was a teenager at the time, and employed my new skill in knitting garments for my stuffed toys. I discovered counted cross-stitch in my early twenties. I still have the first cross-stitch kit I ever bought, an insanely complicated floral bell-pull. I have yet to finish it. However, in the meantime I’ve completed other cross-stitch projects and wandered in and out of quilting, needlepoint, crewel, crochet, quilling, tatting and felting. I’m an easy touch for some new wrinkle on an old craft. I want to try them all. Usually, a taste contents me, and I’m on to the next enthusiasm. Some skills, like old friends, have stayed with me. 
    When I discovered temari, my fascination with Japan and my passion for handwork resulted in love at first sight.
    Temari is Japanese for “hand ball”. What began as a humble cottage craft, stitching playthings from scraps of fabric, has evolved over centuries into an art form of great beauty and complexity. Have I mentioned that I am a sucker for anything complicated? Temari balls are catnip for me.
    I bought my first book on making temari with the intention of creating every design. I gathered all the materials: Styrofoam balls, cotton batting, yarn, embroidery floss in bright colors, and spools of thread. I set to work.
    A temari ball is built up in layers. Originally, foundations were made from balled-up cloth remnants, stitched and bound into a sphere. Now, Styrofoam balls provide a convenient shortcut for the modern crafter. Step one is to wrap cotton batting around the base and then wind the ball in yarn and an entire spool of sewing thread. I did a lot of winding in the course of making that first temari ball, and every one afterward.
    Once I completed the foundation, the hardest work of making a temari ball began: measuring. A simple Internet search using the term “temari ball” will bring up hundreds of images displaying an almost endless variety of designs. The one thing they all have in common is a repeating pattern that flows around the entire surface of the sphere like the tessellations in an Escher drawing. The only way to make everything fit perfectly is to measure, and then measure again, and yet again and again, because the first measurement doesn’t match the second measurement, and neither matches the third. I have yet to create a temari in which everything fits perfectly, but somehow when it’s all done, the imperfections don’t matter.
    I never achieved my goal of creating every temari ball in that first book of designs, but it hasn’t stopped me from collecting more books to satisfy my curiosity about this intricate, challenging art. Oddly enough, I only have two remaining of all the temari I’ve made over the years. One, the first I ever made, was a Christmas gift for my mother. The second, a miniature strung on a chain to be worn as a necklace, was also a gift for Mum. Both returned to me upon her death. When I look at them I see all their flaws, but also the love that went into their creation, and I’m warmed by the memory of her appreciation.

    • Etya Krichmar
      Posted July 10, 2021 at 11:08 am

      Terry, I loved this story. My curiosity now wants to create some temari balls. The ending of the story is very special and poignant.

  • Etya Krichmar
    Posted July 10, 2021 at 11:06 am

    Etya Krichmar 


    Curiosity keeps me sane and going. It has always been my friend. Curiosity helped me to attain knowledge and become who I am. I am a perpetual student, and having an enquiring mind leads me to new amazing discoveries.  
    My curiosity has not failed me yet. It made my life more exciting and gave me a chance to continue to grow. I do not want to stop being curious because my life would be boring, redundant, and stagnated. I shudder at the thought of it becoming a reality one day.   
    Since I was a child, I had an insatiable appetite for learning. I drove my parents crazy with my questions before I knew how to read by myself. It was through books that I satisfied my curiosity. One of those books that I read in Russia was Irving Stone’s The Agony and Ecstasy. It was not readily available in stores or libraries. I remember borrowing it from a friend who must have gotten it at a black market.  
    The autobiographies of famous people since I was young kept me captive. Like an addict, I read about Ludwig Beethoven, Mozart, Marie Curie, and others. I could not have been over eleven when I discovered this section at a local library. There were approximately over thirty tomes on the shelves, and I read them all. People’s lives always fascinated me, and even today, memoirs are my favorite books to read. 
    I found Michaelangelo’s life fascinating. As I read the Russian Translation of The Agony and Ecstasy, I became an instant admirer of his art. I learned that most of his life he spent in seclusion. In his journey, he experienced loss, grief, disappointment, and success. His brilliant mind always teetered on the brink of madness and sanity. Most talented people tend to do that. 
    Like some artists of his time, Michaelangelo fell into this category. He perceived the world around him on a much deeper emotional level than an ordinary person. Michaelangelo was a Renaissance man. He was one of the few artists who wanted to learn about the human body. He studied anatomy and physiology from a cadaver. Centuries later, I believe his art moves people so much because of the beautifully expressed feelings in his work. I can’t even imagine anyone being indifferent standing in front of his craft. His art touches my soul. 
    After reading the book, I sat in awe and admiration. I thought of the artist who created so many fantastic art pieces in all three-of-the-art forms. He was a talented sculptor, an excellent painter, and a prolific poet. In his lifetime, the critics often called Michelangelo Il Divino (“the divine one”).  
    Ever since I read The Agony and Ecstasy, I had a yearning to see Michaelangelo’s art. In 1977, when my husband and I applied for immigration to the USA, my wish became a possibility. It took a brief time for the authoritarian government of the USSR to permit us to leave, and a few weeks later, our family boarded the train from Chișinău, the city we had lived in, to Moscow.  
    In Moscow, we visited an American Embassy to receive our entry visas. It just happened that we came there on Thanksgiving Day. I remember how disappointed all of us were about finding out that the embassy was closed. We wondered why someone would close this agency in the middle of the week. Every office in the Soviet Union stayed open during the weekday.  Luckily, a worker greeted us at the entrance. After explaining Thanksgiving Day was a national holiday, he checked our passports, opened the gate, and let us inside to see the person in charge of immigration.  
    In the office, we filled out the paperwork, and after a brief interview, received the documents. With documents in our hands, we left the building and went back to the hotel.  
    The following morning, my mother-in-law woke up early. She took a taxi to the airport to purchase our tickets. Our destination was Italy, the first stop on the way to our freedom.  
    A few days later, the plane landed in Rome’s beautiful airport named Leonardo da Vinci. Its marbled interior smote me. I walked past carabiniers, soaking in the ethereal, luminous shade of the golden hue, which sparkled everywhere. The serene atmosphere calmed me down, and I took it in as a good omen to be surrounded by such elegance.  
    We disembarked the plane during the night and could not see much of the city from the minivan’s windows sent by the charitable organization to pick us up. The place we stayed at did not look like an actual hotel. It looked more like a shelter. However, it had excellent accommodations in the room assigned to us. It was spacious and had all the amenities.  
    Inside the room, I undid the beds. And as soon as our heads touched the pillows, Yefim and I fell asleep. The exhaustion from a four-hour flight with a toddler requiring continuous entertainment in limited confinement of a flying machine finally took its toll on my husband and me.  
    A loud noise woke us up in the morning. Half-awake, we could not figure out what it was. Our room was dark, and we could see nothing until we found a switch and turned on the lights. Getting to know our surroundings, we realized that the noise was coming from behind the windows. The shutters drawn for the night were outside the windows, and it took Yefim a couple of minutes to figure out how to open them.  
    Wow! We looked through the clean glass and saw an abundance of food on the stores’ displays facing our room. Neither one of us could believe our own eyes. Living in a country of not enough, we had never encountered so much produce available for sale in one place.  
    I can describe what my husband and I experienced at that moment with these two words: Cultural Shock. Lost for words, we just stood there with our mouths agape. Bewildered, we noticed the heads of cheeses of different shapes and colors hanging off the awnings of the stores, all kinds of sausages, and jugs of wine that sat by the side of the street, not to mention all other delicacies that included exotic fruit and vegetables.  
    I do not remember how long we stayed at the hotel, but eventually, with the Jewish organization’s help, we rented an apartment forty kilometers outside of Rome. For a few months before leaving for the United States of America, the city we settled in was Ladispoli, a beach resort. We arrived there during the off-season. Because of that, we found an apartment. Otherwise, it is hard to rent during the tourist season. 
    Senore Cappuccio, our landlord, helped my husband and his father to find temporary employment. He introduced them to Mr. Rocco, a local business person who owned a car repair shop. One of the regular customers befriended Yefim. He offered to take him and his family on a tour of Rome. 
    I will never forget the rainy Saturday he came to pick us up in his Fiat 500 or Cinco Cento. The sky was crying as the three of us got into his car. My sister-in-law and I climbed in the back. I could feel knees supporting my chin as we drove into the city. If it were up to me, the Fiat 500 would not have been my choice for a road trip. The vehicle was tiny.   
    Arriving in Rome, we first saw the Colosseum in the Palazzo Della Civilta Italiano. The structure was unbelievably impressive, considering it withstood ancient times. I could not believe that my curiosity brought me to a place I only knew about from history books. I stood on the sacred ground where a man’s life depended on a gesture of finger from a noble person. The up or down sign either granted or took away the life of a gladiator.  
    The next stop on our tour was lunch. We stopped at a small eatery. I remember we walked through a narrow door and found ourselves in a long, not broader than the six-foot room. Our host ordered food, and the next thing I knew, my teeth sank into something unfamiliar but quite delicious. My husband’s friend called it pizza. My curiosity allowed me to experience the authentic flavor of this famous American delicacy in Rome, Italy. What a remarkable discovery it was.  
    After lunch, we walked around, sightseeing the city until our tour guide stopped in front of another door. We had no clue what this door leads to, but he opened it to let us in. The sight that confronted me was magnificent. In my wildest dream, I could not even imagine it, let alone find myself in the presence of Michaelangelo’s Moses.  
    Standing inside San Pietro in Vincoli, a church in Piazza de Vittorio, I could not take my eyes off the statue. It took my breath away. Here was Moses in all his glory-beautiful, powerful, and authentic. He was so real-looking that I wanted to touch him.  
    I approached the display with a childlike curiosity, put on the headphones, and listened to Moses’s story. Pope Julius II commissioned Michaelangelo to build his tomb. It took forty years for the master to complete it. The sculpture of Moses was one figure included in the sculptor’s original design. I do not know how long it took Michaelangelo to sculpt him, but when he finished, the sculptor looked at his creation and became mad. Michaelangelo did not understand that Moses could not talk. He kept asking him the same question. “Perché non-parli? Perché?” Why don’t you speak? Not hearing an answer from Moses infuriated him, and he threw his chisel at the stature, damaging it.  
    Years have passed since I visited Italy. With gratitude and appreciation, I look back on when I lived there. During the three months I stayed there, I saw many beautiful art pieces, including the Vatican City with its Sistine Chapel and Michaelangelo’s Pieta. I walked the gardens of Villa de Borgese, which on its own is a testimony to sculpture.  
    The museums of Rome hold significant collections of famous painters, sculptors. Walking the street of the city is like walking history. Every building that withstood the test of time serves as a reminder of what once was.  
    The moments I spent in Rome were magical and unforgettable. Their memories are forever in my heart, and I must thank my curiosity for leading me to them.  

  • Jamie Ramirez-Feci
    Posted July 10, 2021 at 3:38 pm

    It was my turn. I’d do something like this in class and actually get laughs. Thinking I’d have a similar response, I went for it. Yet what little I knew. I didn’t think to know this well before mid April of 2020 when we just began. To even get to class took much more effort, raised stress levels, tested everyone’s confidence in trying to navigate and make some sense of this pandemic still affecting us all.

    The days before Distance learning Day 1, we celebrated my son’s birthday which landed on Easter and would become a common drive by kind of celebration. On that same Sunday, I also chose to hold a test-run meeting of sorts for any students who wanted to make sure they got into the meeting link. Students already had cameras off, and our school district quickly realized the shortage of devices for our students.

    At the same time, it because common across the grade levels and classes that we’d likely not see our students’ faces. I came to know them by voice unless I met with the family online or one-one during office hours, also online. Lack of bandwidth was part of it. A whole other part of it was lack of structure, kids quickly Zoomed out from online fatigue, parents working simultaneously, and later by the following April, this past one, lack of motivation, some parents now driving to their workplace and not providing the support at home during school.

    Sometimes in staff meetings teachers had cameras off. But to not hear students’ voices, a message in the chat, no email from them was such a wonder. Who was behind the black voice of squares, and how was it that the only stimulating activity in the chat box was over the movie Home Alone and students wondering why my 11-year-old hadn’t seen it yet? It was 15 minutes of getting feedback, keeping up with the long thread of words as fast as a Costco receipt printout for a party. It felt like I hadn’t had that much communication the entire year than in that sweet, intense handful of minutes.

    So April 1st comes around this past spring. And we know they’re done. We feel done and, we all empathize with one another. But the joke I guess was on me when on April Fools, a few of my devoted students who faithfully showed up got it. I gave them directions, and off. My camera.Muted myself, too. Barely 2 minutes goes by, and my heart’s jumping out of my chest, palms sweaty, my mind rambling, wondering why they’re not even wondering aloud a bit of how I feel when I don’t get any input from them.

    My colleague, whose son’s in my class, texts me, asking what he should be working on since he just sitting there. I let her in on it. Should I have been surprised they were not likely there to experience what at first I thought was an epic April Fool’s joke?

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