Category Archives: 2020

Judge Not

Our local Cashwise store lines up carts in the front of the store by the checkouts for people who have ordered on-line and have requested curbside loading.  The names of the purchasers are displayed prominently on the carts, and it is easy to see what they ordered.  Several times in the past months I recognized the name on the carts, and have been aghast at the things they have purchased. “Really, Pastor Lisa? You ordered all that pop and chips? Is that what you feed your children?  No wonder they look so pale ,” I think to myself as I pass by with my organic skyr and healthy (in my opinion) food items. Oh, to not judge others is so hard.

What do you judge other people most harshly for? What would people think of you if they glimpsed your grocery cart?

Big Dig

My third cousin, Tom, lives in Madelia and likes to hunt for fossils. He posted recently a story about  someone finding a 5 foot long wooly mammoth tusk near New Ulm. That must have been so exciting to dig up! Who would have imagined mammoths near New Ulm?

Paleontology was fun to learn about, but I always wanted to be an archeologist.  I love reading about history,  and right now I would really love to focus all my attention on the very distant past. (Thinking about the future isn’t so pleasant at this point. ) I think I would like to explore Frisian and Saxon settlements anywhere in the world, just to get a better sense of my ancestral culture.

What era of history fascinates you? What would you like to dig up?

Best Costume

Daughter informed me she is going as Guy Fieri for Halloween this year.  She showed me a trial run, and she somehow,  with her long brown  tresses,  got a bleached blonde, sticking straight up, head of hair complete with head band and goatee.  Gone are the days when she wanted to be a princess or a fairy.

In my grad school days I once had to accompany a distraught client to the ER on Halloween.  The clinic tracked me down at a costume  party where I had dressed like an enormous strawberry.  (I sewed the costume  myself).  I showed up at the hospital in costume.  I was lucky they didn’t hospitalized me instead of the client!

I used to sew elaborate costumes for our children, and I will be quite ready to sew for my grandson in the future. This year is a not the best for fun costumes,  although I bet he would make a pretty cute Guy Fieri.

What are some of your favorite costume memories,  Halloween or otherwise?

Over The Top

As I drive around these days, I’m enjoying seeing all the Halloween decorations.  I have to say that the folks in the house across the street from Southdale Library have taken it to a new level.  I particularly love the two skeletons that appear to be climbing onto the roof using a ladder.  The big skeleton may be as tall as the house!

While I don’t do a lot of outdoor décor for the various holidays, for many years I did a lot of inside decorating.  Over the years I have cut down for various reasons:  Nimue, my terrorist tabby likes to eat the Easter grass and bat the plastic eggs around, Rhiannon couldn’t stay away from the Chinese New Year decorations that hung down from various places.  And truth be told, it was just too much some years.  As I’ve been downsizing my stuff, I’ve really whittled down on all my décor, which lives in big plastic bins in the attic. 

For Halloween and Thanksgiving, I have mostly autumn décor: candle rings, pumpkins, lots of flint corn.  And, of course, some ceramic bowls with fall designs that have candy in them.

Are you a holiday/seasonal decorator?  Inside or out?

Popular Names

Today’s post comes from Jacque.

Recently I scrolled through the Social Security Administration list of popular names.   I found a lot of Liams, Michaels, Benjamins, Emmas, Avas, and Fridas.  Brittany and Tiffany are now parenting Liam and Ava.  It is so interesting how names run from generation to generation.    I found this in my own family tree during 3 generations of naming that stretched from 1718-1750’s.

During the early part of the pandemic, when we were socially distanced at home without end,  sorted and scanned  family history information which I have inherited from my mother and my grandfather’s cousin, Muriel, who gathered together some Civil War letters from her grandfather who fought in Sherman’s March to the Sea.  She, at age 92 years, is his only living grandchild.

In her things I found a letter and application to join the DAR under the Patriot Christian Hamaker.  A polite response from the DAR points out that there was no documentation for a Christian Hamaker.  This must have been disappointing for Muriel, who wanted badly to join the DAR.  Only a John was documented.  HMMM, I thought, logging on to to clarify.  Yes, indeed, Christian fought, but with a name complication.    Here is what I found.  Johannes Adamus Hammacher emigrated to America in 1740, marrying Eva Marie Licht upon arriving.  They produced 12 living children from 1743-1764. They were as follows:

Johannes Adam Hamaker

Anna Maria Hamaker

Maria Salome Hamaker

Maria Eve Hamaker

Elizabeth Hamaker

Johannes Henry Hamaker

Johannes David Hamaker

Johannes Abraham Hamaker

***Johannes Christian Hamaker –my direct ancestor

Johannes Isaac Hamaker

Johannes Samuel Hamaker

Johannes Phillip Hamaker

Do you see patterns here? Poor Elizabeth with no “Maria” listed must have felt left out.  All eight sons fought, all were recorded as “Johannes” or “John” from in the same Pennsylvania Regiment from 1776-1783.  It appears from the records that after one of them married and started farming or running a sawmill, the next brother would report for duty when the call was issued because the practice was that they travelled back and forth from home to the front as needed. I suspect that the oldest, Adam, fought the most since there were four daughters between him and the next son.  Poor Muriel did not know this.  I called her several years ago to discuss it, but she could no longer follow the conversation, which was sad.  She did the family such a service by preserving a great deal of important family history.

In subsequent generations the last name is recorded as  Hamaker, Hammaker, Haymaker, Hammacher, Hamacher.  My three greats grandmother is listed as Nancy Ann Hammacher in an Iowa census.  She then married Martin Klein.  Kline.  Cline.  Only George Foreman who named all his children, George Forman, including the daughters, created more confusion.

Got some interesting family names?  What names would you like to see come back into fashion? What names are you tired of?

Buying The Wrong Thing

Husband and I try to limit our shopping these days, especially at  bigger stores like Walmart. We always go masked and try to shop quickly. The other day I was rushing through the store, grabbed what I thoughtvwas a double box of the toothpaste I like, proceeded to the checkout, and headed home.

There are many different types of Crest toothpaste. The boxes kind of look the same. Well, I realized after I got home that I bought the wrong kind. This is a kind I would never have purchased under normal circumstances.  It must have hydrogen peroxide or something similar in it, because it is touted as foaming when you use it.  I can’t say I am looking forward to having two tubes of it.  I don’t like to return things to stores at the best of times, and certainly not now. I guess I will spend the next months foaming at the mouth whenever I brush.

Got any good return stories? When have you bought the wrong thing?

civic sacrament

About twenty years ago I signed up to be an election judge. I had switched from a full time schedule to working just three days a week, so I regularly had Tuesdays off. It seemed like a good time to step forward and help my community make its voice heard.

You meet all kinds of people in the polling place. I think the most memorable voter I ever met was a woman who called me over to discuss her voting dilemma, I think in 2004.  She said she was having trouble deciding who to cast her presidential vote for, because she didn’t really like any of the candidates. They all fell short of the standards she felt candidates should meet. “The people I would really like to see on the ballot are Paul Wellstone, Jesus, and Princess Diana,” she explained. I gently advised her that while those were not going to be realistic possibilities, since all three of them were dead, and only one of them had even been a U.S. citizen, she was quite free to write in any name she chose.

The other memorable thing about the woman was that she had large plastic bags on both hands, secured at the wrists by rubber bands. She was ahead of her time.

I will be staying home this election day, trying to keep myself safe, after voting early. I’ll miss watching this exercise of political power by ordinary citizens. Of all the unsettling changes that COVID-19 has brought, this may be the most unsettling for me. So far.

Any disruptions, major or minor, that have arisen for you lately due to COVID-19? (Or for any other reason, for that matter?)

I Need Book Advice

My mom, Nonny, is really doing well with shelter-in-place.  She has always been superb at doing what the doctor recommends – always.  I think I’ve probably said here before that if the doctor told her to stand on her head every Tuesday and spit wooden nickels, you’d better have a bucket to collect those nickels every Tuesday. 

At 88 she is taking covid precautions very seriously.  She is staying in, staying away from neighbors, only going shopping when absolutely necessary and then she goes the extra mile (sprays the inside of her car, wipes all products off when she gets home, wears a mask, etc.)  She is not an online person, so she’s watching a lot of tv and doing a solitary walk every afternoon.  She’s mentioned a couple of times over the last couple of months that she is “out of books”.   Despite the fact that she introduced me to libraries as a child, she is not a library person.  Although I’ve suggested she find a close one, she is worried about hanging about in a library and bringing home potential contaminants.  Telling her that she can talk to a librarian about how they are handling covid to possibly reassure her hasn’t helped.

I thought I would get her some books, but I’m stymied about what to send.  I know that her favorite author is Mary Higgins Clark.  I know that she likes mysteries and thrillers but not things that are “too dark”.  Too much graphic violence and sex is right out as well. 

So if I go to the bookstore to pick up some titles for her, what should I get???

Anger Management

Last week, the secretary at my office whose husband’s company did our cement work took the cheque I wrote for the job to our bank to cash it. The bank refused to honor the cheque.  They said that we never wrote cheques of that size, and that it didn’t look like my signature.  They apparently compared it to other cheques I had written. They tried to phone me, but I was busy with clients. I never noticed the calls. Husband had to go to the bank and confirm that the cheque was legitimate.

I don’t know how to feel about this.  If the secretary in question didn’t look really Hispanic, I probably wouldn’t be upset about this. Ruby said that the teller was condescending and rude.  I appreciate that the bank is looking our for my interests, but really!  Ruby’s husband, an immigrant from Mexico, came up with excuses for the bank, but I still am upset.

How do you manage your anger? 

Choir During Covid

We had church choir rehearsal yesterday for the first time since March.  Our county is a Covid hot spot, and the idea of rehearsal made me somewhat nervous. Choir rehearsals have been superspreader events across the country.

I really had little to worry about, as  there were only six singers, plus the director and the  accompanist. We sat in the pews instead of the choir loft, two singers to a pew, socially distanced, with two pews in between each twosome.  The church bought these plastic dealies that go under our masks and prevents the masks from being sucked back against the lips when you inhale. We all wore masks. We were all glad to sing. We expect more to join us in the coming weeks, but I think we can distance and sing and perform. We really have to listen carefully since we can’t sit right next to each other, and the tenors  aren’t right behind us and the sopranos aren’t right in front of us. It is  a musicianship challenge.

I have always considered myself a risk take, but this was a little scary until we got started and I saw how things would go.

What kind of a risk taker are you?  Has Covid changed your risk tolerance?