Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bears and the Newest Bear

Those who know me know that we lost our son, Steve, December 2008 and it was/is rough.  But, June Benton, a friend here in MN who "moonlights" as a grief counselor, turned me onto Cathy Schrader, an angel who lives in West Virginia and  who makes memorial  teddy bears.  Somehow  we had saved and brought to MN one of Steve's flannel shirt jackets.  Ahh, would this work?  I could not bring myself to do anything with it.  So I contacted Cathy who can be reached through her website. After emails back and forth she agreed it would work and so I mailed the shirt/jacket off to her with no deadline in mind.  Cathy is an angel with this ministry, she attaches a personalized bookmark with each bear and being me, I wanted to select my own scripture verses; not a  problem for Cathy. She does not know that I am blogging her, but if anyone  loses a loved one, or would just enjoy a unique  commemorative bear, save some good clothing and think about getting a bear. She also  has her own fabrics.  You can contact Cathy through her website which is http://www.websterartists.com/  or by email at cathschrader@hotmail.com  An AWON friend in Cincinnati says they also make memory bears for homeless  shelters, etc.  So maybe in your area there is a talented bear maker, maybe it's you.

50 Cent Rocker from 1964
 I don't know how our bear collection started but it was not intentional, just one of those things that took on a life of its own. Beginning in CA in 1965, every year at Christmas I had a collection of teddy bears to display in a child's wooden rocker that I bought in 1964 for 50 cents when I was pregnant with Steve.  The bears sat in the rocker near the Christmas tree guarding presents and Steve grew up believing that they would know and tell if he peeked.  He believed that until he was about 11 years old when he challenged the bears' ability; what left him wondering was somehow Mom found out and he kept a wary eye on them vacillating between a child's belief and skepticism; in later years he always got a good laugh out of the bear guard  presiding around the  Christmas tree.  Today that 50 cent rocker has some bears and a loose squirrel  and occupies the corner of our study, moved from CA, just one of those things with provenance I thought a keeper; many youngsters have sat in it  from Steve to nieces to visitors to grand kids and it's still rockin'.

Cinnamon Blondie and Lou The RV Travelin'Bears
 I"ve learned to refer to "our bear collection"  because Jerry is quite possessive of several bears, primarily Lou, whom Jerry calls "Bear."  Mary Ann, my Louisiana. pal presented him to me for my 60th birthday, he's soft and large and  a big brown bear who has resided in the motor homes ever since.  He and Jerry have become best pals because they made several trips together back and forth form CA to MN, over the years.  Jerry considers Bear the ultimate traveling companion who merely sits and agrees with whatever's happening as long as the coach moves.  Then Aunt Jinx added Blondie to the mix, a bear she obtained somewhere and decided should go on the road!  Then we found Cinnamon in Bemidji, MN  for a dollar  a few years ago, and the 3 traveling bears were complete.  It took Lou a bit to accept this because he was king of the road for so long, but now the  3 bears travel happily though Lou does insist on sitting up front on passenger's lap so he can see the sights. You will notice he sports an array of pins on his ribbon signifying different places and events to which he travels.  This Irritated Blondie who then had to have a necklace and  something to pin on her ribbon, leaving  Cinnamon to begin to collect only bear and flag pins.  Lou has mentioned that this winter he would appreciate my sewing or quilting a vest  so that he can add more pins over the next years.   By the way the three bears hibernate in the motor home over winter and are looking forward to a trip south this winter...

Curly and Bump Bump
Another addition to the bear collection came about  1980 when Sandy was into ceramics and made Bump Bump for me back when I  was still in my career daze!  Bump Bump  came with her  head bandaged and a sign that said, "There must be an easier way to go down the stairs.." alluding to my life of frustration  in the bureaucracy. 

When my best friend Roberta died in CA and I inherited some of her jewelry, among the collection was a Black Hills Gold teddy bear necklace and earrings.  Bear things were beginning to enter or lives. 

Burden Bear with his own quilt and bear
Today besides the Christmas bears, we have the patriot bears who guard the patriots' bedroom.   These characters have patrolled and secured the perimeters of the room since we moved in 2005 and had a room to decorate appropriately with red, white and blue.  They were quite comfortable atop the twin daybed and the quilt I made for it until they caught wind of  my and Sandy's plans for that room.  I  would inherit an antique colonial sleigh bed from PA and back about 2006 Sandy and I began to develop plans for what she would hand quilt for that room.    

The patriots expected and anticipated the  quilt  and were not saying too much, but they began to agitate about the quilt that Sandy was making in CA as they eavesdropped on our phone conversations. It didn't matter that they had a  beautiful hand  quilted antique  poppy coverlet that also came from PA.

 They began to sputter their impatience periodically and I would have to admonish them that things of  beauty take time. 

They  were not having any of it and  would go on the march after they heard me on the phone with Sandy; they even made up their own song, "Oh Where, O Bear,  has my new quilt been;  oh how much  longer will it be?  With the winters so cold and the bed so long, O why won't she send it to me?"  They were one ecstatic chorus of bears when the Salute of Roses Quilt arrived!  And  by now you are questioning if I have any sanity remaining or if I ever had any!

It didn't help that Burden Bear, a gift from Sandy in 2007,  had joined them and tried to pray and engage them in services;  they allowed him to be there because he is light blue, but the Patriots are more inclined to action than quiet prayer.  They were somewhat in awe of Burden Bear who brought his own little  quilt that matched the one I'd made when the twin daybed occupied the room. 

Sleigh bed with antique coverlet, Patriot Bears in Patriotic Room


Patriot Bears with Salute of Roses Quilt
They are very particular who enters their area, which is why Col. Wally who came with his own  box of sytrofoam peanuts as a starter kit for me, another story, was given a post  at the counter by the laptop, his presence would not have melded with them, he was grey and they even considered him to be a rebel.  But then Col Wally has been known to bring himself to the party when a beverage or treats attract him and his post right close on the kitchen counter, overseeing the laptop suits him just fine.  
Col Wally gets ready to party
  But bear with me, as I get back to the purpose of this post,  the new bear here, SteveO Bear.  

My head and Steveo Bear's, self photo

Jerry knew I had commissioned SteveO and was not commenting, at times wary of what to say or not trying to avoid any bad memories and upsets for either of us when Steve comes up.  This bear is SteveO unless Jerry renames him; our son and his friends had a strange habit of  adding an O to their  names, so the new guy bears that!  When the box arrived, Jerry who always gets the mail and packages, opened it and  had his own tears which he admitted later; he posed SteveO bear crawling out of the box so I could see him when I came into the kitchen.  It was love at first sight as Steveo Bear jumped up to give me a big hug.  Of course there were tears, but he is beyond my expectations, the workmanship is superb,  a magnificent bear which I am sure you will agree. His eyes are buttons from the shirt jacket and his collar is tied with the grey cord from the hood of the shirt.  

  Here is a photo of him meeting the patriots who promptly assigned him to  the foot of the bed.  But he is patient and is making his way slowly but surely and being a big guy he is comfortable at the foot of the bed  with the pillows which the patriot bears had likewise relegated there.    He makes me smile because he is a bit overstuffed and Steve was the same, a big guy!  The Patriots are not  taking any chances though with his size, they determined he could not overpower them!

SteveO meets the Patriot Guard

Steveo Bear at the foot of the bed
In addition to the bear, I had ordered some Christmas balls through Cathy which  arrived and are of such excellent workmanship; they are for  3 of Steve's friends this Christmas.  I don't know what I was expecting, but to say I am pleased is an understatement.  These are made  by a different person but Cathy can arrange that too.  Here are some photos and the name of the creator on the label at the bottom. 

Top of Christmas Ball

Side  of Christmas Ball

This is the label from the Christmas ball

I have lots to do around here and so what am I doing, blogging?   There is a new stack of  more old family photos  from Jerry's mother's things to  scan; she is now in the nursing home in town and we are engaged in clearing out her apartment.  I am really getting weary of emptying homes when the elderly  need to be moved or pass on.  Fortunately her accumulation is nothing like  my aunt's home  nor my Uncles' which still awaits us in PA.  Our trip had to be delayed now with Jerry's mother's decline, and the recall notice from Workhorse on our motor home. Wouldn't you know the  RV repair shop can't get to us until October 5; well that's not so far away now.  After that we should be heading east to arrange winter  needs for Uncle's home.  

This has been my answer to Goldilocks and the  3 Bears and an effort for the Story Tellers blog, which link is not working right now....Once I fix that I know you will want to link to them too!  Hah  here it is, try this...asouthernbellewithenorthernroots


Friday, September 17, 2010

Sepia Saturday "Week 41 Grandparents of the other half

After  an absence dealing with all sorts of family company and issues, I can return to Sepia Saturday posts.  Jerry's cousin just sent us a succinct family history written by her mother, Aunt Ruth, when she was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer.  It tells of the early settler days, their family of pioneers who made it across the Atlantic Ocean from Prussia aka Germany in 1850, with infants, how they journeyed across rugged country through New York, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa  and  ultimately bought land along the Mississippi in Minnesota, land that they would farm after they cleared the trees and harvested and sold lumber.  It has been so interesting to tie the individuals to census records and recorded deeds and amass the data in one place. I marvel considering their  rugged hard lives, building log cabins for shelter in the wilderness against the harsh winters, living away from all civilization, frightened of Indians in new territory, man and wife and  four small children.  I wonder how they did that, I who bundle up securely and live with all modern conveniences in winter.  I wonder who had the hardest lives, my Polish coal mining ancestors or these rugged Prussian/Germans.  We are learning more about Jerry's maternal ancestors than he ever knew, whatever else we may learn they were hearty brave individuals. 

This  first photo which his cousin sent is Jerry's maternal grandmother, Esther Wetchen Behrndt (1883-1950); my last sepia post showed her with her "brood" of grandkids on the farm.  He had never before seen this photo so it was a treat.  We know this photo was taken before she married Jerry's grandpa Charlie Behrndt May, 1908.  There is some scandal attached to her younger years before she met Charlie because "she gave birth out of wedlock to her first daughter, Myrtle Louise in 1906."  That's what Aunt Ruth wrote . Charlie raised Myrtle as his own daughter and he and Esther had  four more girls, Jerry's mother being the  last and youngest. It is likely that Esther was so concerned about Jerry and Diane when their mother divorced their father and that was why she took such good care of those two children who lived with her and Charlie; that would have been  1938, still a time when single mothers were not in favor.    Esther died in 1950 at 66 years of age, which is young for this family marked by rugged individuals most of whom lived well into their 80's and 90's back then.  The hardships seemed to make them all stronger.  By 1949, the family had moved from the farm on the hill to town. Jerry tells that his sister, Diane, 12, could not wake up Grandma one morning and then awakened Jerry who was 13 and who determined that Grandma was dead.  With no one else at home, the two children went to find their Grandfather who was also at work in town and then their mother.   Grandma Esther was the literate half of the partnership, as her husband Charlie could only sign his name.  She also was the one who drove their vehicle, as Jerry recalls and Grandpa Charlie handled  the horses, wagons and later a tractor.

This photo, another Jerry did not recall,   is of Esther's parents, Dietrich Wetchen (1856-1925)and Louisa Leidel (1857-1943), and Jerry's great grandparents.  This is one of the smallest families as they had only two children.   We were surprised to see how much Jerry resembles this great grandfather, except as he has said, he wished he'd  inherited Dietrich's hair, and Jerry has no moustache.  The  printing is what the cousin had on the copy of the photo.    As we looked over the Wetchen and Leidel photos we decided that they brought the good looks into the lineage.  Louisa's  parents Henry Leidel (he's a  distinguished pioneer of this area)  and Johanna Guenther  left Prussia with a  one year old and a  four year old in 1849.  I found it interesting that they sailed  from Hamburg Germany as did some of  my ancestors

Charlie Gustof Behrndt, (1884-1964) Esther's husband, and Jerry's grandfather was the 7th child of 9  born to Adelbert (Albert) Behrndt and Sophia Roth.  Adelbert immigrated from  Germany as did Sophia's parents. Sophia's parents Jacob Roth and Maria Mary Frei married in Germany but he came to America first; she followed  several months later.  They settled first in New York,  and eventually worked their way across the wilderness of the country settling in Minnesota, however when they were 50 and 49 years old, they moved  to homestead sections of land in South Dakota, living there until their late 80's.   Jerry said this is the only photo he has ever seen of his grandfather dressed up; that all he can remember is Grandpa wearing his  bib coveralls.  It is a good thing this cousin had a few photos as many were not taken in this family and now there are some of these younger images to preserve along with their stories.  Jerry absolutely idolized his Grandpa Charlie.  Charlie was a farmer and a hard worker, after moving into town, Charlie worked at the lakes and skinned fish that were commercially caught; he also hauled lumber and cut and sold firewood.  Jerry says he was a short guy, maybe  5' 3" tall but strong as three horses and that  Grandma Esther towered over him.  He smoked a pipe all his life. 

Behrndt's farm house on the ridge of La Crescent
This was the family farmhouse which no longer stands today.  Jerry slept upstairs in the bedroom which shows to the right.  The last Sepia Saturday I posted had the grandchildren gathered with Charlie and Esther for their anniversary.  In 1949 Aunt Marie and Uncle Tommy took over the farming and Charlie and Esther moved to town sharing a  house with Aunt Myrtle and then Uncle Joe.  As I have shared, Jerry, his sister and his mother lived with them, first on the farm and then in town until they left for CA. 

Adelbert (Albert) and Sophia Behrndt

One last photo shows Jerry's Behrndt great grandparents, Albert (1841-1928)and Sophia (1851-1941).  Notice that Albert is small and Sophia is large, so it must have seemed natural to Charlie to marry a woman bigger than him, as that's the way his parents were.  Albert also smoked a pipe all his life.  This is the couple who ended up moving even farther west to South Dakota and continuing to live a hard lifestyle up until they died.  Jerry faintly recalls going to South Dakota to visit some of Grandpa Charlie's family on the land that had been homesteaded. 

To see  others Sepia posts click on the title to this to get to the main Sepia host blog, then select any and all.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Accumulation of paper and its breeding

Clearing the clutter from the Secretary desk
One of my bloggy acquaintances, Vicki Lane posted last  week for Sepia Saturday about paperwork accumulations.  I got a good laugh out of  her all too true words, and pondering about  why we do this. And since this past week, I had "sort of" cleared our  secretary desk in the bedroom, the  desk that was to prevent  accumulation of paper clutter atop our kitchen counter. the desk that has now become the second step in paper/clutter processing, the desk located in another room where out of sight becomes out of mind, the  secretary desk that  for now has a rather neat top and pigeon holes and will allow closing of it's pull down  shelf.   Reading what she shared, tickled  my funny bone.  Here's the link  to Vicki's post http://vickilanemysteries.blogspot.com/2010/09/do-not-destroy-sepia-saturday.html  but the bigger question is why do we do this??? 

I'm not as bad as some and I'm not as good as others at clearing the   ephemera and paper clutter from our lives, however  like Vicki I have wondered,  "why do I do this?"  I can reason my way around this  rather harmless addiction with any  or all of the following justifications :
 This article, cartoon, clipping will make a good blog story someday; or
Here is a website I can check on later; or
I will mail this off to Sandy or Carlie, or: 
Oh, Bonnie will want to know about this;  or
Here is a book I would like to read someday; or
That's a place to visit on our travels; or
This is a lovely card that I will prop here and enjoy a  while longer,  or
This will go in the scrapbook about my father, my grandparents, etc.; or
That's a cause I want to donate $ to and will  send off a check soon; or
I will have to read that offer again, perhaps I want to subscribe; or on & on...
I have inherited this tendency to accumulate interesting items,
 I am Teofils's granddaughter.

First step of the clutter that then goes to the secretary desk.
The kitchen counter is now happily cleared except for current  cooking magazines
You may  recall my tales about my Granpap on this blog; he was the original collector of odd things.  He never went out for a daily walk without finding something to bring back home and after they sold their home and moved into a rental of rooms, he  trudged up the hill and  brought the stuff to our basement, advising my horrified mother, "listen you to me this some good stuff, not take much room, only need a  clean up, someday you gonna need it and here  you have it, it no cost you nothing' you no hafta feed it, this good stuff."  I can use that same reasoning about paper things but the truth is they do have a cost.  The cost of time spent  reviewing, sorting, filing, arranging, and or  disposing of at last.  I did not retire to  become a  paper pusher, yet I do it to myself.  

This time I found some old newspapers back to  2005 about interesting events happening locally, the 2006 invitation to our friends' surprise 50th wedding anniversary in Indiana hosted by her cousin with directions, etc., scaps with phone numbers of I know not whom nor what, some odd buttons from something  that found their way into the stack, a wedding invitation from 2008, graduation announcements from this year relatively current and now easily tossable, and some recipes which no longer sound appealing.   Once I found some cash, maybe $20, which I don't recall setting there and then I shuddered, "here I go it's happening!"   This time I had maybe  a paper grocery sack  less than 2/3 the way full with junk, so it's not so bad it just looks worse than it is. 
You get the drift and maybe you have other reasons or maybe you are able to escape the Great paper chase, maybe you are a minimalist, a real neatnik who tosses all immediately.  I once thought that computers were to rid us of paperwork and  now I have learned that I print things from them and there is another stack!

I thought when we moved to MN from CA I would no longer receive so much odd/junk mail, most of which I do process immediately into the trash can in the kitchen, but there is the occasional item for the litter pile or  later to be dealt with.  I thought wrong.  I bought an address stamp for us when we moved here because I was sure I would no longer receive those  return address labels, you know the kind, handy for envelopes, but address labels have become so ubiquitous that they have a separate side in the desk drawer and a folder atop the secretary, boy was I ever wrong there! Besides now that we send less in the snail mail and do more business online, how many address labels does one need?  I carry a small supply in my purse when I carry a purse, handy to slap onto tickets purchased at charitable drawings rather than entering the information by hand on those small lines.  Many labels  go to the waste basket right away. But after my efforts I still have quite the assortment of address labels, seasonals, and so on. 
I do not donate to many charitable organizations, willy nilly, only my few longtime favorites, besides the local church, so it is not that they have me in their sights as the next  unaware victim to send them $5.  I feel no guilt in not sending them back their nickels that they send me  nor in keeping the notepads and not sending them  any money, because this is unsolicited.   Jerry's 93 year old mother does donate $5 to every  ragtag appeal and consequently gets more junk mail than anyone in La Crescent, attested to by her mailman who has a big route in this  little town and outghta know.  Now she takes her junk mail seriously because it is addressed to her "personally" so she reads every word, never mind that her dementia  precludes comprehension or retention of what she's reading but  she  retains stacks of junk mail to read.  Her end tables and kitchen table display foot high stacks as testament to her devotion to the  printed word!  This sight makes me ever alert to not over  indulge my pack rat tendencies to that extreme!

The desk now can close
As I can justify my own weirdness, I figure this is a relatively harmless addiction, like my accumulation of  fabric stashes or books, I could always be doing something worse.  But when I spend time  clearing out what I have allowed to clutter I have to wonder, why do I do this to me?  The secretary can now resume life as a desk and a place to write out bills for snail mail, but for how long?

Patriot Bears aligning
Oh and another thing, the bedroom patriotic bears are well pleased.  They live in that room next to the desk atop their bed which is now adorned with their magnificent Salute of Roses quilt for which they waited many years, these bears are quite neat and picky and intolerant of paper stacks of distraction.  They have exercised restraint, recently with company from Colorado, but that is another blog story.  I just  don't want to try their patience too far. 
Home of the  patriot bears and the clear secretary desk