Saturday, June 2, 2018


When I heard about my Granddaughter Tashia's plan, to have a professional come to her Alpaca Ranch in Nebraska, May 12,13,14th, and teach her to shear the thirty+ Alpaca's that she had, I was all for watching the event.
The thought of it made me go down memory lane of growing up in Iceland;  holding down the sheep by the horns as Grandpa and my Uncle Bjössi sheared the wool off their body, using large scissors that they sharpened every so often, with the same lava-stone they used to sharpen their scythe-blades when cutting hay.

Plans were already in the works by my family for a party for my 93rd birthday on May 21st. to be held in Chicago. Since I also had plans to travel to Iceland right after that I packed two+ bags; cold weather and warm!

Lucille, (Herman #1) who lives near Lake Bloomingto, Illinois, picked me up and drove  to McDonalds, in Princeton, near I 80 where we met Chris (Christine, Herman #6), who drove from Chicago. She is Tashia's mother. She also, wanted to learn the Alpaca shearing technique. I jumped into her car and we continued west to Alma, Nebraska, where the Butterfield Alpaca Ranch is located, while Lucille drove back home.

After a wonderful weekend of learning about shearing and Alpaca fiber, and some hilarious moments of the temper of certain Alpaca, Chris and I left for home in Morton,Illinois on the 15th. She continued for her home in Chicago the next morning while I did some more packing and planning. On the 18th I drove my Honda CRV over to Lucille's house and left my car and got into hers. We drove to Chicago and had a fun-filled birth-day weekend with Heidi (Herman #10) and her fiance,Raymond, Della (Herman #9) and her husband, Al. Tim (Herman #8) and his wife, Bonnie,  Chris and her husband, Larry, who found this great place to celebrate!

Sunday May 20th, I got into the car with Della and Al and headed for Minnesota, where I had wonderful time watching my youngest grandchild, Morgan, try on some gorgeous wedding dresses for her wedding this Fall.

Then Della and I drove to Wisconsin to visit Marian (Herman #3) and grand-daughter Kristina and grandson Ed, then drove back to Minnesota.
Celebrated Memorial Day with great food and in the 90's, with Della, granddaughter Nicky, granddaughter Morgan, her finance, James and Della's husband Al. Take a good look at his shirt!!!

Will head for St. Louis, Illinois, Monday.and arrive in Iceland Tuesday morning...48degrees?!

Monday, April 30, 2018


Recently I was visiting my brother-in-law, Bill, who is in a very nice Senior Citizen Center in a town about 40 miles from where I live. I found him dozing in his recliner, but he sat up immediately when I walked in and greeted him.
"Hi, Bill, how are you doing? You are looking great!" He looked up with a quick smile as his eyes lit up.
 "Well, here I am, ninety seven tomorrow." He said, shaking his head slightly as he pushed a wheelchair aside."Last of the Herman's. We two, are the last of this generation, all of them gone now. Everyone except you and me." He nodded, as he rubbed his right knee.
"All the Herman's?" I asked. "How about in-laws, or your step-brother, Walter?"
"No one left but you and me. Now it's all up to our children, grand-children and their generation. How old are you now?" He squinted at me as he offered me a piece of candy.
"I'll be ninety three in May." I smiled, and unwrapped the mint.
"You come by yourself? You still drive?" I nodded and popped the candy in my mouth.
"Good for you!" Bill slapped his left hand on the arm of his chair.
We chatted and he brought up a few WWII memories. Since I had shared before how his brother, Del, had proposed at a second USO dance and I accepted, the family had been curious how we managed to communicate. "Love, love, love." I'd laugh.
Bill cocked his head at me and chuckled."I still remember when I first met you. We brothers;George, Clyde and I were on a short furlough when WWII ended, but Del was still stuck in Iceland. You didn't speak any English."
"Wait a minute!" I interrupted."I could say Coca-cola, yes, no, dance..." (Now when I think back...we were all a little crazy, especially me, or is it I ?! )
He laughed. "But it didn't take you very long to learn, Clyde teased the daylights out of you and you tried to come back at him!" He laughed again. "But George and I helped you out!" We both grinned.
Then Bill shared with me how he and Ann got married eight days before Pearl Harbor. Like his brothers he enlisted, leaving his new bride. Del fudged about his age to get in. He was a few months to young, only seventeen.
As I drove back home I thought back on our conversation: What an ordeal for Mary, their mother; her four boys in a dreaded world war. (And how in the world was she going to speak to her youngest son's bride, who spoke no English and she, Mary, spoke no Icelandic!)

But then I remembered that she was a fierce prayer warrior. Her boys came home safe and she and I got along famously :-)

Saturday, April 28, 2018


I am frequently asked "How do you do it? What's the secret to you energy?"

I really don't know if this answers the questions: I never stopped moving; from raising 10 kids and sometimes other folks's kids as my husband and I were in the Ministry from age 26 to always :-)

Del, my husband of 70 years (he went "home" 2015), felt a calling to start new churches - at times that meant we literally built from ground up other times it was remodeling, adding to present building.  Cleaning, decorating and so on. This meant of course that while he was preparing the message, or was in the pulpit,  I was the "chief cook and bottle washer" Sunday-school teacher, Children's church etc.

When organizations officials decided to replace older pastors with younger ones, my husband started "flipping" houses. Since I already had a Interior Design/Custom Drapery shop my expertise came in handy.
All this decorating, painting, cleaning meant "movement" and "work-out"!

But just because, at 93 (next month), I don't do the physical labor like I used to I have not stopped moving;

My semi routine: Do 10 or more sit-ups before getting out of bed. Walk to a wall and facing it, stretch as high as I can both hands flat, fingers spread out, count to at least 20. While still facing the wall I do my ham-stretches... by the way I do stretches throughout the day, even in the car.

Next I go into the kitchen and while the coffee is perking and the microwave oven  is cooking my oatmeal I do my "Microwave Hop" ...That is; jump, dance and shake it all around!

I have found that juggling rubber balls are great for my co-ordination :-) Try it, you might like it!

There's a great feeling of freedom in "YES I CAN DO IT."

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

APPRECIATION FOR MY FEET. (And the whole body )

My husband and I moved at least 29 times over the years. From Central Illinois to California and back to Illinois. Each time we bought a place it was improved, "fixed, up-dated, painted..." Several times I have heard the same story from others "we like this house but want to update the kitchen...the bathroom..." We tend to the new house with care, anything goes wrong we fix or call the experts. The yard is mowed, flowers and trees are planted... And then we move (various reasons) and start all over...

I got to thinking about the one "house" we live in, from the time we are born until the end of life. It's the only "house" each of us will ever have that we can't move out of for another. Are we as careful in taking care of this "house"? Do we make sure that all the moving parts are well maintained? Or do we let it lapse into disrepair?

I guess I'm a non-stop exerciser; I do exercises while in bed, then when I get up out of bed I stretch like our dogs do! Do the microwave hop-dance-jump as the oatmeal cooks.

Recently I had my first pedicure, at almost 93 years of chronologically gifted years (with ten kids to raise I sure didn't have time for pedicure!) While the attendant was massaging my feet I thought about how I've gone to a beauty-shop and got my hair done, got manicure for my  fingernails, massage for back and shoulders. Gone to exercise; walking the dogs, walking on the track or treadmill! But seldom considered these poor feet! They have lugged me around to all the above mentioned places. Walked over the lava-terrain of Iceland to every State in the United States plus, Canada, Mexico and Haiti

Walking - running- rock-climbing, rope jumping, hiking...Just thinking about my poor feet when I was 150 pounds pregnancy weight - ten times!

I reached down, (btw a very good stretch exercise) and silently patted my feet and promised to take better care of them and pamper them now and then. :-)

Friday, April 13, 2018



Chris (one of my seven daughters) drove down from Chicago to go to the Alpaca show here in Peoria, Illinois.Her daughter, Tashia owns Butterfield Alpaca Ranch in Nebraska and has 33 Alpacas, gorgeous creatures :-) We sure enjoyed it even though we just about froze, seems like the animals get to warm in their luscious warm fur and have to be kept cool. Even hosed down at times- check out Tashia's Spraying Down Alpacas on YouTube.

As we meandered through the vendors booths, I had a fun encounter with a Alpaca owner from Maryland. After learning that my accent was from being an Icelander he told me a friend of his was going there this summer. He was so excited and asked many questions so he could share with his friend...Do you really believe in the people that live in the rocks?...That kind of question always gets a non-committal smile from me!

Later, a lady vendor asked the same question - about the accent that is - I really was stunned to hear her say she had never heard of a country named Iceland! Had no idea where it was at.

I thought about that,  when couple of days later someone asked me what it was like for me to come here by myself - my American husband was in the Navy, and had to stay behind - not knowing anyone, and speaking just a handful of broken English. But I was thinking what was it like for my mother-in-law? She, who had never been to New York had to take a train and meet a young woman from a country she knew nothing about - was she thinking her son must be crazy ? Had her daughter-in-law lived in an Igloo? Was she wondering :How do I talk to her, I don't know her language! 

I quickly found out that living among English speaking folks, having zero opportunities to speak Icelandic, I picked up the language fairly well, although it took a few years to get  pronunciation of certain words; it took a long time for my husband to understand my "cattastrop" but when I said some thing was a "terrible cattastrop!" He very gently explained "that is pronounced catastrophe."  I had a time accepting that since there was no "fee" in the word.

It's been many years now, Iceland is getting to be one of the hottest tourist-must-see destinations and I run into more people that tell me that "it's on my bucket list" rather than the blank look I used to get when I first got here in June, 1945, and the above-mentioned lady that had never heard of a country called Iceland.
Hmm...Erik "The Red" an Icelander, discovered America 500 years before Columbus, just saying!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Rejoice in Every Day!

"There's coming a day...What a day, glorious day that will be!" But this is today. And today I say - "This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it"

After four, very enjoyable and fairly warm, winter months in Texas, I am back in windy-cold Illinois. But thankful...NO SNOW!...

We were in a nice lake house near lake Texoma where I could daily take beautiful walk in the "wilderness" :-) I had a nice path right down to the water that started just steps away from my back door. Being surrounded with nature and such beauty was invigorating. Although there was no internet connection in the house it was available only a short drive - about 20 miles - to the library, where I could surf to my heart's content. Although, I didn't use the resources there as much as I could or should have. I was constantly getting side-tracked, my curious nature getting the best of me. There were walks to take, trails to explore, and curious roads that beckoned to me.

I often started out going to the library, the store, or even the gas station and saw an interesting road. I would start to wonder where it went, but wouldn't wonder for long. ...I would already be on my way to find out! But this isn't old age or a new hobby. I've always wondered what's "on the other side of the hill" or "around the curve". My husband of 70 years - he went ahead of me to heaven 2015 - used to shake his head at my curiosity, and say, "woman sometimes you just drive me nuts with all your questions!"

I may have driven him nuts sometimes but we wouldn't have traded those times for anything. He didn't always admit it, but he got a big kick out of my "mangled" English, which by the way I still have a tendency to do. While on one of my recent jaunts I saw this beautiful pasture and stopped my car just to enjoy the view. I saw the cows grazing and their babies meandering, overhead these huge, ugly birds -  turkey vultures - soared and swooped. I had to watch for a while. When I got home I told my daughter, "You should have seen this huge flock of beef ...hundreds of them I had to stop and look!"

She said, "wait, what? Flock of beef?" Needless to say I had to back up and rephrase like I did numerous times with Del, my husband. The memory of those silly times, when I misspoke or even made up words accidentally brought a smile to my face. I have had so many good times, many adventures, and so much shared laughter. I cherish those memories and all the good times I shared with Del.

Shortly after, I read something on line that struck me deeply. It was sentiment on how losing a spouse affects the widow. Following are some of the quotes:
You lose self esteem.
You lose confidence.
You lose self-worth.
It's the hardest, most gut-wrenching, horrific, life altering of things to live with....End of quotes.

It stayed with me, but not because I could relate, quite the opposite. I have so many fun memories with my husband and am trying to remember them all and writing it all down to share with my kids :-) Yes he is gone, yet so here, I find myself smiling. I have none of the above quotes to deal with. Yes, at first it was hard, but
because "There's coming a day, when no heartaches shall come...What a day, glorious day that will be..."

It is my choice to dance, rain or shine... and dance I shall.

Friday, January 19, 2018

In growing up in Iceland I was not known to be one to "play it safe", frankly I think the more scary or daring the adventure was the more I was for doing it - that could perhaps explain why, after meeting Del  in 1944 and on a second meeting - it really was not a date, just a dance - a total of  eight hours max - when he proposed I said "yes".

If I was to try to explain it would do no good - some things are just meant to be.

That I - a nineteen-year-old naive girl living on an island called ICELAND, a tiny country in the Atlantic just below the Arctic circle - a country virtually unknown to many Americans  until WWII happened - would meet a nineteen year old sailor who was brought up in middle of the United States, in a small town called Bloomington, in Illinois.

His brothers enlisted also; one in the marines, one in the army and one in the navy and were sent to the Pacific - Del expected to be there also, instead he found himself sent across "torpedo Junction" to a "God-forsaken place"  called Iceland.

When we met at the first dance he had been stationed in the country just a few months and had not learned to speak Icelandic - I spoke very few words in English - I was a waitress at a restaurant in downtown Reykjavik called Hressingaskalinn so I knew words like coca-cola, cigarette, hey you...

Even after 70 years of marriage I am not able to explain---I have no idea what caused me to give up family - country - yes and even language and accept a proposal that I barely understood.

I had no idea who he really was - his family - were they rich? - Were they poor? - Nice? - Mean? Never entered my mind to ask these questions.

What has love got to do with it? Everything!  Hmm, possibly also my first sentence at the start of this partly explains ...I'm still not known to "play it safe." As my grandson Andrew, put it "Wonder what daredevil thing (or was it "crazy thing"?) Grandma will do next?"

So far I have enjoyed River-Rafting in Colorado, Paragliding in Utah and Iceland, Zip-Lining in Minnesota,  Air Balloon Ride in Texas, indoor Rock-Wall climbing in Illinois. Last year I traveled all the States between the East coast (Vermont, Maine) to the west coast, Seattle Washington, plus a side trip into Canada. Fantastic drive through some of the most beautiful scenery.

At almost 93 I'm a firm believer in "keep it moving!" Stretch - dance - exercise...Oh, by the way talking about exercise here is a Dilly that family members, Dale and Melinda) sent me at Christmas time:

Start by standing on a comfortable surface with plenty of room on each side. Now, with a five-pound potato bag in each hand, extend your arms straight out and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, then relax. Each day you will  find you can hold this position for just a bit longer. After couple of weeks move up to 10-pound potato bags. Then eventually get to where you can lift 50-pound potato bag in each hand, hold your arms straight out for more than  full minute. (Don't get discouraged. This may take some time.) After you feel confident in that level, put a potato in each bag.


Photo: Iceland

Ieda Jónasdóttir Herman is an author and motivational speaker based out of Illinois. At the age of 88, she wrote and published her first book, a memoir of growing up in Iceland. She has since published two fiction works for children. Following a stroke in 2016, she has dedicated her time to education of stroke awareness and encouraging seniors to become more active in life.