Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gone to College

I am now officially an empty nester. It's an interesting feeling. I feel free - yet also know that I never know when the "Mom? I need. . . ." phone call will come. I got two of those calls today, necessitating another trip to their college town. There are lots of ups and downs about this new station in life.

There was nobody to carry in my groceries this morning.

I went to turn on the little fan in the kitchen that keeps air moving in there when I'm working. . . and it was gone. I vaguely remember about two weeks ago one child saying that that would be perfect for a dorm headboard.

There's plenty of room in the garage, and I can choose which side to park in.

If I feel like getting on the computer for longer than ten minutes, I can do so without feeling like it's a bad example.

I don't have to continually be thinking about what food is in the house, what food is cooked, and what is available for them to cook for themselves.

I can go to bed when I want, without waiting up for a child to come in.

There's no one to leave notes for, when I leave for school, such as "Please see that the dog gets brushed, washed and fed," or "Please take care of the laundry in the basket on the table today." Now, the laundry in the basket on the table is still there when I get home.

I will worry, be concerned, and pray just as much as when they were here. Probably more.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


We take two to college this weekend, so it is difficult this week not to think much about the past eighteen years.

Where has the time gone?!

My son is "old hat" at this college routine, but this is the first time for my daughter. I have so many memories. Many of them this week have centered around the time she was three and four - the age when she really became verbal and her creativity started to blossom.

She became very adept at writing the numbers to twelve. When we asked her to write thirteen she replied "I can't - it's not on the clock."

She had a little pair of pink pants with orange polka dots that she absolutely loved. For some unknown reason she called them her "joy-joy pants." We tried in vain to figure out where she got that term and never did. But her beloved joy-joy pants were her favorite until she got too big for them. Once at a yard sale I found the matching top to her joy-joy pants and that made her happy also.

She loved games and was extremely competitive, even at a very young age. Some games were a bit of a trial for an adult to play repeatedly, but Memory was one that she could be successful at, yet I could play it with her and still be somewhat challenged myself. Once I had to stop the game to go to the kitchen to check something in the oven. I glanced over the counter from the kitchen to the den, and saw her furiously checking tiles as fast as she could before I returned. So we had a perfect opportunity to discuss the concept of "cheating" and what that meant!

She was writing a "journal" by the time she was four. Everything in it was phonetic and required a translation on the next page by me, so that now we can understand what she was saying. Sometime I will post some of her very creative spellings - yet the meaning of what she was trying to say made perfect sense, as did her phonetics.

When she was two, we wondered when she would start talking. The Christmas of that year, she kept repeating "ti-ti-tee" over and over. It seemed like a meaningless repetition - until we realized she was saying "Christmas tree" in her limited way.
A year or two after that, we rode to school one morning - a twenty-minute one-way ride - and neither Andrew or I said a word the entire time. We couldn't get one in.
All she ever needed for entertainment was a stack of paper and some pencils, markers, and/or crayons, and she was content for multiple hours.
She was always good for a smile and was a big encouragement to her mother many times.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Murphy's Law for Freezers

When Mike defrosted the freezer last June, it immediately iced over with 1-2 inches of ice. So he defrosted it again in late July. Same story. He felt like it might have a slow freon leak--apparently a difficult problem to fix, and our freezer is at least 20 years old--we bought it used in 1990. Last weekend I told him that I would like to get a new freezer before school started, as I did not want to walk out to the garage one day and find that everything inside is defrosted and spoiled. He agreed. I found a used freezer on Craigslist, ten miles away, great price, two years old. Owner a grad student who was moving and needed to get rid of it. Mike, Andrew, and two young men who were helping Andrew with a project, drove over and bought the freezer. We put the old one on the driveway with plans to get Haven of Rest to come pick it up for their appliance fix-up program.

The next morning, Mike, who was ready for church a little ahead of the rest of us, went out and tinkered with the old freezer. He found a place he had accidently bent, or something similar, when he defrosted it the first time, in June. He moved the freezer to his shop, plugged it in, and checked it later. It runs fine. No frost buildup. Apparently the seal was slightly open from the bent place, and there is no freon leak.

Two freezers now. The original one fixed twelve hours after we bought the second one. Murphy's Law.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ernie and Me

The whole story of our front-row seats is here. I figured if I paid the tickets and took most of the pictures of Andrew with the various quartet members, I could get one with Ernie!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Today is the thirtieth anniversary of my mother-in-law's unexpected death. She left behind her husband and ten children ages 14-28 at the time.

I never met her and have often wondered about her.

She shares a number of uncanny similarities with my own mother. They have the same middle name, and their first names are variations of the same name. They both obtained masters degrees, and both taught school. Each married in March of her 27th year, and had her first child (a daughter) in December, followed by her second child (a son) the following December.

I feel a kinship with her in that she too moved to the community where her husband grew up, and made it her town as well. Once Mike showed me the cleaners where she took her clothes. I could see her running errands around town just like I do. Several people have filled in details. A man at our church was a teenage bagger at the A&P at the time, and said he bagged her groceries on a daily basis. (Ten kids, a lot of food.)

With that many children she certainly had her moments, and since she's like the rest of us she certainly wouldn't have been perfect. But she has been greatly missed both by those who knew her and those who never did. I look forward to meeting her one day.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Job Well Done

Tonight was a "last" for my daughter. Since she leaves for college in three weeks, this was her last 2nd Sunday night of the month to work in the church nursery.

She has faithfully worked in the nursery for many years. Before she was a teenager, she was only allowed to work with me, but as soon as she reached the minimum age, she began to work with other people. And she has stuck by the stuff. This picture is one of my favorites of her - it is from a couple of years ago - it actually isn't in the nursery but is of her helping with some nursery children in the back of a program of some sort, and is taken with a very sweet little girl that we know.

I am proud of my daughter for her faithfulness in doing a job that some people would rather not do. She has done very well and she will be missed in that post.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ups and Downs - Offspring Edition

UP: Both offspring are home again.

DOWN: Both being home again means more commotion, more coming in later at night (which means less sleep), more laundry, cleaning, etc.

UP: Both can do a good bit of their own work.

DOWN: When both offspring are home, food literally evaporates from my pantry and refrigerator.

UP: There are three grocery stores very close by. :-)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Sewing machines and I have never gotten along.

As a teenager, I used to try to sew on Mom's machine, and most of the time it was an exercise in frustration. Mom says that after I was gone from home, she discovered it was a problem with the tension on the machine, but with me behind the "wheel" it probably still wouldn't have worked right. I still would have had "tension" with it!

Now I have a machine of my own, a nice Singer, which I got at a yard sale about six or seven years ago, along with a lovely cabinet and upholstered rolling chair, by flashing $100 cash in front of the lady who wanted $150. It really is a great machine. My daughter sews beautifully on it. My mother, who was here last week, sews beautifully on it, repairing a blanket for my son with little to no effort.

I tried to make a skirt yesterday. I had to re-do all the seams because the first time something wasn't set right and they were all loose. The bobbin kept catching and not working right, so I finally unwound and re-wound it.

You'd think I'd just quit. But there's something that always draws me back to trying to sew things. As creative as it is, maybe in my case there's some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy of failure that keeps pulling me back.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Grandma Hemmer

Today would be my Grandma Hemmer's birthday. She lived a difficult yet interesting and rewarding life. Yesterday my mom sent out the following reflections as an email to her children and grandchildren. I thought it was interesting enough to post here. Even if you didn't know my grandmother, it's a very interesting record of life in central Illinois in the early 1900s.
Tomorrow is Grandma Hemmer's birthday and she would be 108 years since she was born in 1901. She was exactly five months older than her husband Max, born January 2 in 1902. I recall her talking about her first automobile ride when visitors to their neighbor owned a car. Her father, Christian Martin, died in his late forties and I think they had a car before that. I think when a horse and buggy approached, the car had to stop lest the horses get frightened.
She married Max Hemmer in February of 1928 and moved into a new home that he built for her (the house Chuck and Marian had in Princeville). She had an electric stove and folks thought she couldn't keep house without the traditional wood/coal burning cook stove of the day. She also had an electric refrigerator, not the usual icebox. Uncle Jack said that Max was highly successful during his short time in business. I remember her electric stove beside the cookstove in Grandma Martin's kitchen.

Her husband lost his life in 1930, the time of the Great Depression. No government funds for a widow were available so she moved in with her mother and single sisters. I was told that the day after the funeral she moved her things, some upstairs to a storeroom and some to Grandma Martin's, to prepare the house for renters, who incidentally didn't pay her the rent they owed. Perhaps they couldn't then, but they could have later on. That was her source of income.
Incidentally, my father didn't have a will so according to then Illinois law the house had to be sold (apparently our father had it paid for) and Mother was to get half and the children the other half. So the house was sold at auction in the courthouse and nobody showed up except Chris Hoerr, Sr., who bought the house for a dollar and promptly sold it back to Mother. Vater Hoerr (as he was called) came to outbid any other potential buyers to save the house for mother.
Grandma Martin said that as long as she had food, we would have food and not one of us ever lacked for the things we needed. I think the aunts pretty much bought or made our clothes. Grandma's oldest sister (Anna, who died of a stroke in 1937 at age 39) was an accomplished seamstress and kept me in finery. Cousin Alice teased that she had everything going her way until I came along. At age eight, I well remember the details of Anna's death and funeral. She always had gifts for everyone at Christmas and her last year she gave me a much desired Dydee doll, one that actually wet her pants. How modern could we get?
Knowing a father is a total vacuum to me, but truly the Lord provided well for us in other ways. You remember what a hard worker Grandma was--typical of the women of that day. She worked in the canning factory as foreman of the women--what a job that was. Then she cooked in a huge rest home/ maternity house for perhaps ten years. Stan Klopfenstein's journalist daughter Sonja wrote an article about that home in the Peoria newspaper. The pictures of that now private residence were familiar to me. And then for many years she cooked in the grade school cafeteria in Edelstein. One of the students wrote a paper when he got into high school about her wonderful donuts.
What memories do you have to share? Guess I'll stop for now. Love, Mother