Tag Archives: Featured

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 Ancestry.com 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?

Bratwurst Bun Perfection

Last week, Husband sent, via overnight UPS transport, four bratwurst buns that he had baked,  to his brother-in-law, John,  in Omro,  Wisconsin. This was expensive.

Husband and John both grew up in Sheboygan,  Wisconsin, which touts itself as “The Bratwurst Capital  of the World “.  Bratwurst is certainly a staple in Sheboygan, and there are competing opinions regarding which butcher shop makes the best and what is the best way to prepare them. It is a sacred food there.. There is a flourishing industry in shipping Sheboygan brats to far flung Sheboygan expats.

True Sheboyganites are as concerned about the buns as they are about the sausages. Buns don’t ship as well as sausages. Husband  likens the search for the perfect brat bun to finding the best bagel.  The perfect brat bun is light and crusty with a moist  interior and a slightly malty flavor, traditionally baked on a bed of cornmeal.

Husband and John have a mutually supportive rivalry in attempting to bake the best brat buns at home. They have found recipes on-line from defunct Wisconsin bakeries, and try to adapt them for home use. Husband is an accomplished baker. John not so much. My sister-in-law has had her fill of bakery experiments.  (Note: In Sheboygan,  baked goods are referred to as “bakery”).

The quest continues. . .

What are you trying to perfect? What is your favorite culinary  accomplishment?

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?)

Being Number One

I am chagrind to report that my state is number one in the country for per capita Covid cases. I remember how important it was in high school and college for our teams and ensembles to be “number one.”  I don’t want to be number one any more.

I want to be last right now.  Didn’t someone a long time ago say that “the first will be last and the last will be first?”

What are you the best at? What are you the worst at?

Raison D’etre

Our tortie cat loves anything related to eggs or chicken. She was a hobby farm kitten before we got her, and we suspect she was exposed to eggs and poultry.  Any time she hears eggs being cracked in the kitchen or finds out that we are preparing a chicken dish, she is a constant pest. She steals eggshells out of the sink and bats them all over the house.  She fishes eggs out of bowls on the counter and rolls them on the floor.. Her favorite prank is to steal chunks of chicken off our plates or serving dishes. She rolls around provocatively on the counter in front of us whenever we have chicken out, in what we imagine to be an attempt to charm us into giving her some. We call it her chicken dance. Stealing chicken and being charming are her current reasons for existence.

Other of our animals have had definite life goals. Our terriers lived to have fun and investigate anything new. Our current grey cat lives to chase paper balls. I think my raison d’etre is still tied up in my work, but I am beginning to think about other things to live for.

What have your pets lived for?  What is your raison d’etre? How has it changed over the years?

Hats Off

Husband owns and wears what I consider to be a large number of caps. He usually stores them in a plastic tub in the entry way. He displayed them on the dining room table for me so I could take the photo.

The ones in the back row have team, club, or university affiliations. The middle ones are work caps, since they are older and soiled around the sweat bands. The ones in the front row are his special collection of blue caps. He said he started wearing caps after he got a Pioneer Seed Corn hat from my father when we were in graduate school.

Every time he leaves the house, he has to have just the right cap. It has to coordinate with what shirt he is wearing and what activity he is going to engage in. He rarely leaves the house without one.

I don’t understand the purpose of these caps. I think they would be hot to wear in the summer and insufficiently warm in the winter. He is about to take the cap tub into the basement for the winter and get up his stocking caps. (Oh, he also has a blue wool one with ear flaps that he sometimes wears in the winter.)

They are oddly important to him. He says wearing a cap helps him pass in the world of men who work outdoors.  He also likes them as they protect him from the wind.  I don’t think he needs to justify wearing a cap. I just would be irritated with something like that on my head all the time.

 What fashion trend would you like to see return? What fashion trend did or do you abhor?


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???

Good Teaching

The trials our elementary and secondary teachers are having are also evident in the professional continuing education arena. How do you teach remotely?

I must have 40 hours of continuing education of sufficient quality and relevance every two years to maintain my psychologist licensure.  At least 3 hours must be in the areas of ethics or jurisprudence.  20 hours must be from live presentations.  These hours can be in person, or in live presentations on the computer in which you can communicate with the presenters. The other 20 hours can be through giving presentations, writing  chapters in books, reading books and taking tests on the material, or participating  in non-interactive online training.   All continuing education for this reporting period must be obtained by October 31.

This is my year to report my 40 hours. On October 1, I had a total of 20.5 hours. They were all live and in the area of jurisprudence.  It wouldn’t look too good for the president of the psychologist  licensing board to be short continuing education hours, so I had to hustle to find more training.  I found 6 hours of online workshops through the  American Psychological  Association that I completed last week. I was also very happy to find a three day workshop which started yesterday, live and online and at no cost, for 10.5 hours concerning trauma focused therapy for youth with developmental and intellectual disabilities.  The training was sponsored by a facility in Fargo. It was paid for by a Federal grant. The trainers were absolutely wonderful, all PhD’s and LCSW’s from places like John’s Hopkins. We had handouts we got ahead of time, and I curled up on the sofa and petted the cats while I learned from my work laptop. There were 50 participants from across ND,  and we could all see each other and communicate via a chat function on the screen or via microphone.  It was also nice that husband listened along and will participate with me in live advanced training on this topic in Fargo in December. He already had enough hours.

The technology challenges were huge, but the workshop went off as planned. It was so nice to have good teachers. While I would rather go somewhere and get live training, this was wonderful. I am excited for today and tomorrow.  On Friday and Saturday,  I will gain yet another 7 hours of continuing education in jurisprudence in an interactive workshop for psychology licensing board members. Dull, but I will have enough training hours.

What kind of a learner are you?  Who was your best teacher?  Who was your worst teacher?