Friday, November 7, 2014

What Am I Thankful For? Helen Schleisman, 2002

As we get closer to Thanksgiving, it is good to reflect all that we are thankful for.  My Mom was asked to tell her church congregation what she was thankful for in 2002.  So she hand wrote her notes and got up in front of the congregation on Thanksgiving Day and read the following. She was telling me about this later and I asked to see her notes.  I then typed them up and distributed a copy to my family members. She read this once again before our Thanksgiving meal in 2010 right before we ate. I try to read this often as it helps me feel closer to my Mom.  I cry every time.  She was such an appreciative person....for even the smallest details of her life.  I encourage you all to make your own list and read it often.  Happy Thanksgiving to all of you ~~ Linda

What Am I thankful for? 

I’m thankful for the gift of life, the love of my family, for the air we breathe and the water we take for granted, the food, warmth of our homes and for this day. I thank God for being able to be with my family. All 30 of us will be enjoying the turkey and all the trimmings.  

I’m thankful for my parents (now deceased).  They raised us with strict rules. We are German of descent from Carroll, Iowa. It seemed like everyone was Catholic and pretty much had the same rules and regulations. I was a farm girl, I had good work habits and there wasn’t a job we would be excused from. Picking corn, shucking grain, milking cows....seemed like every kid had to do the same things. I didn’t like it, but those were the rules. I know my children don’t believe some of those stories, especially walking 2 ½ miles to and from school. 

I’m thankful for my husband of 57 years. He took me off the farm. I waited 49 months for Vern to come home from World War II – being in Africa & Italy. I didn’t see him or talk to him for 43 months. But God saved his life and sent him home. We raised five children – have ten grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Now I wonder how I managed to do all the cooking, cleaning & laundry. It wasn’t easy to keep the sanity, especially when they started to clean, cook & bake. Seems like there were cookie crumbs, flour and sugar everywhere on the floor and in the drawers. But today I think they are better cooks than I am. 

I’m thankful for the green grass, blooming flowers and the trees looking so regal. God Blesses us with rainy days, sunny days and I even enjoy snow. 

I’m thankful for this good country of ours and I’m proud to be American. I’m grateful to live in Iowa with the corn and beans looking so lush in the summer months. I love animals and have a dog, Sam, who rides in the car with me to church or wherever I go every day. She rides with me unless it is too hot or too cold.  She is a wonderful companion and co-pilot.  I’m grateful for the wildlife....the birds entertain me at the feeders, the squirrels were busy this summer burying the nuts in my potted plants and flower bed. Guess it was easier to dig than the hot, dry, hard soil. If you need oak and walnut seedlings – see me. 

I’m grateful for being in good physical condition. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to walk, as I had hip replacement. But God answered my prayers. I prayed to St. Theresa and when a friend, Ann, brought me a beautiful pink rose the second day after surgery, I knew my prayers would be answered. 

I’m thankful for my religion and freedom of speech. Let us not forget the Armed Forces.Tell them we haven’t forgotten them and they are in our prayers every day. Also remember those who have lost their lives. Remember, too, our deceased family & friends. God Bless all of them. 

Last, but not least, I’m thankful for Father Joe, Father Anthony and Father Sam. What a wonderful job they do each day. They keep St. Pius going in the right direction and all the people in the many departments so that we remain the friendly, caring parish with good leadership. We are so blessed. 

I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving. For those who are homeless and hungry, that they will find places that are willing to provide food, love & care. Have a good day. Thank you God for our many benefits & gifts. 

Written & read by Helen Schleisman at church on Thanksgiving Day, 2002. Read again before the meal at our family Thanksgiving, 2010.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The memorial service for Gilbert Colegrove was yesterday at 9:30 a.m. For a man who thought he was not worth anything, he had two wonderful, kind & compassionate ministers officiating....The Rev. Dr. David Ruhe (left - from Plymouth Church) and The Rev. Dr. Herbert Hedstrom from Elgin, IL. During the service, Pastor Hedstrom gave us some insight into Gilbert's past which he had gleaned from Gilbert over the approximate 20 years he knew him. Nobody had a dry eye when he was... done. It was difficult listening to the pain, both physical and emotional, that Gilbert experienced in his lifetime. I placed Gilbert's ashes in his spot in the Memorial Garden and we all took a turn covering it with a spade of soil. My grandson, James, helped me with the first topping of soil. In attendance was Pastor Ruhe, Pastor Hedstrom, his wife, and another lady whose name I did not remember. This was the lady who was responsible for finding a home for Gil's dog, Pocket. Also in attendance, my daughter, Kristin and my two grandsons, James & Benjamin. The symbolism of Gil's permanent home in the Memorial Garden, representing his permanent home with our Lord & Creator did not escape anyone in attendance. We all agreed how everything played out over the past several months was truly a "God Thing." Burial of cremains in the Plymouth Congregational Church of Christ is intended for members only and there is a fee. Pastor Ruhe waived both of those requirements. Coincidentally, both Pastors Ruhe & Hedstrom are graduates of Yale Divinity School. After the service, they were headed in to the coffee shop to visit. I feel so blessed to have been a part of this. 


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Hooray and Hallelujah!  If you followed my story on Gilbert Colegrove back in January, 2013, I am jubilant to report that Gilbert will finally have his memorial service this Thursday, October 9.  I had dropped the ball on the memorial service for a variety of reasons.  Then in April, I was contacted by Rev. Dr. Herbert J. Hedstrom, who had found my blog and read my story on Gilbert.  He first met Gilbert many years ago in Elgin, IL when visited by Gil at his church in Elgin, IL.  After Gil relocated to Des Moines they remained in contact. Reverend Hedstrom sent me an email to ask about a memorial service and I told him I already had tentative arrangements with Rev. Dr. David Ruhe of Plymouth Congregational Church in Des Moines.  Reverend Hedstrom indicated he would like to be a part of any planned memorials.  Hallelujah.  Emails passed back and forth and then my Mom went into hospice in May and once again it was put on the back burner. The week after my Mother died, Reverend Ruhe approached me in the back of the church after the service and asked if we were going to proceed with the memorial service.  Everything fell into place.  Reverend Hedstrom and his wife will come to town and both he and Reverend Ruhe will officiate at the Memorial Service and Gilbert's cremains will be laid to rest in the Memorial Garden at Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ.  The date of the service is October 9, 2014......the day my Mother would have been 93.  I am always amazed at how God works in our lives and takes care of all of us.  His presence, love and comfort is around us and available to us always. This did not all come together by chance.  So if you think about it, please say a prayer for Gilbert on Thursday morning at 9:30.  A day that would have been a sad day for me will now be joyful.  I would also like to think that my Mom had a nudge in all of this as well, as her Faith was paramount in her life. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I posted a photo on my Facebook timeline of a lovely 16” Steiff bear I named Marion.  He is a new addition to my teddy bear family.  The story of how I came to purchase him is one of those once in a lifetime tales. 
About a month ago, I woke up on a Saturday morning at 3:30 a.m. to the sounds of distant rumbles of thunder, flashes of lightning and rain on the roof.  It was not possible to get back to sleep, so I got up and started searching Craigslist on my phone.  I’m always on the lookout for great old items for the antique market I have with my sister.  I posted a search for ‘antique table’ and was mindlessly flipping through the photos when suddenly there appeared this beautiful Steiff bear.  It was listed in an estate farm sale and was one of several photos (including an antique table) of miscellaneous items.  I read the description and he was described as an old button eye bear.  OH MY!  I never see antique Steiff bears for sale on Craigslist.  This particular sale was 2 ½ hours away and started at 9:00.  I weighed the pros and cons, as at this point it was pouring down rain, there was NO address listed for this sale and I had no idea what the asking price would be. The only location given was Highway 13 but I assumed by the flagged spot on the map that I could find the approximate location and then start scanning for signs.  I decided this cutie was worth the trip. Not wanting to waste any more time and hoping to get there early enough to be one of the first in line, I got dressed, gassed up the SUV, grabbed a latte from Starbucks and hit the road by 6:00.  It poured down rain with thunder and lightning the whole trip there. 
My mind raced the entire trip as I assumed there would be at least 100 people already in line at the sale, when and if I got there, all waiting to purchase the beautiful Steiff teddy bear.  Finally it started to get light out, I am heading north on Hwy 13 and the rain has stopped.  I spot a yard with a couple of cars up ahead and see a small sign which says “Moving Sale.”  I continued to drive to see if there were any other signs further north.  After ten miles, not spotting any Estate Sale signs, I turned around and went back to the moving sale.  Approximately seven cars were parked on the lawn.  I could see a barn about 300 feet away and a canopy where people were setting up.  There were several tables on the lawn covered with tarps.  Two men were out walking about the yard as lightning streaks shot all the way to the ground off in the distance.  I parked my car and got out.  Everybody else was sitting in their car and I heard one man shout to the two who were outside walking around, “You know that even lightning that looks like it is in the distance can strike you?”  One of the guys said, “Yeah,” and continued to walk around.  The first guy then yells, “Is that how you want to die?”  Second man shrugs his shoulder and says, “Why not?”  I was riding his train and defiantly strode up to the barricade to be first in line.  The two guys worked their way back to the barricade where I stood and informed me that they were told the sale would not open before 9:00. We began to chat about tag sales and such to pass the time. 
It was now 8:30. More people were parking on the lawn and getting into line.  At 8:50 it started to sprinkle and the two guys headed toward the barn.  I said, “Maybe if we all walk down there, they will let us in.”  The whole line started to move and I walked briskly approached the table under the canopy at the entrance to the barn, leaned down to one of the women sitting there and in a hushed voice said, “Where’s the teddy bear?”  She stood up, pointed and said it was at the back of the barn in a trunk.  I took a step to head in that direction but she immediately sprung in front of me to show the way.  Yes, I have to admit, for a moment I contemplated whether or not to get in front of her so I could hit a dead run.  I didn’t.  We walked halfway to the back and I could see him sitting there in the trunk with two dolls and a pile of old doll clothes.  I said thank you and could not move fast enough.  Even as I stretched out my arm to snag him, I imagined another arm reaching past mine to snatch him up.  I grabbed him and, yes, I was shaking.  He was beautiful.  And then I spotted his price written on blue painters tape and attached to his collar.  I almost cried thinking, “I cannot afford this bear!”  His price was $950.00…..too high for me but yet still a great price for this beauty.  My mind was racing and I was trying to figure out what I could give up to claim him as mine.  If I didn’t eat for a month…… if I sold some items on ebay…. if I sold a kidney……. He was perfect and dressed in a darling outfit….had wear on a couple of paws, but all of his mohair was beautiful and he had no holes.  He was missing his Steiff button but it was not necessary to discern his pedigree, and that face…oh my, that face.  I kept looking at the price, trying to justify buying him. Finally, I looked a bit closer at the price and realized that what I thought was the curve of the dreaded number 9 was actually a dollar sign.  The lovely creature I held so tightly in my hands was priced at $150.00. I could not believe it.  I stared at the number for the longest time and it did not change. When I looked around, nobody else seemed even remotely interested in the trunk or its contents.  I turned to go purchase him and then spotted a box top full of vintage Christmas ornaments… second favorite thing next to precious antique teddy bears.  The tag sale lady came up and asked if I wanted her to take my items back to the table to hold for me.  I handed her the box of ornaments, but told her the bear would stay with me.  This warrior was taking no chances.  I looked around the rest of the barn and the tables on the lawn and ended up purchasing about 4 more items.  My total came to $200.00. 
There was no rhyme or reason to the pricing and a great many items were way overpriced.  I was glad the Steiff did not have his button.  Then they might have known what they had, done some research and given him a $950.00 price tag….. or more!  As I was checking out, a lady came up to the table and asked another lady sitting there if the teddy bear was still available.  That lady looked at the lady who was helping me and she was told that I had just purchased it.  The lady asking the question asked me if she could see him so I held him out.  She let out a moan and told me how wonderful he was.  I actually felt bad for her, as I have been in that position before.  I named him Marion after the community he was purchased in.  He sat on my lap the whole trip home.  I have had some great stories involving Steiff bears, but never an adventure like this!  

When my parents both retired, they occasionally stopped at garage sales.  My Mother once told me that my Dad told her, on several occasions, that he wished he could find an old Steiff bear for me for $5.00.  That statement really touched me.  My Father has been deceased for 12 years and I like to think that he leads me to my wonderful finds.  That statement of finding a perfect old Steiff bear for $5.00 has been a goal in my life.  When I told my sister & antique business partner, Becky, about my most recent tag sale find, she stated, “I think that’s the closest you will ever come to a $5.00 Steiff bear!”  I would have to agree.  Thanks Dad for leading the way to some really great finds!  Love you & miss you.  By the way, my son-in-law, Michael, told me he thinks I need to write a book about my great teddy bear finds and title it, “Bear With Me.”



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

One of my smallest bears

At 10", this is one of the smallest bears I make.  What do you prefer.....small (under 10"), medium 11" to 17", or large (18" and above)?  These are my size standards.  Miniature artists will laugh that I consider a 10" bear small.  The largest teddy I make is 29".  I have a brown 29" bear on my table that I am working on right now.  Can't wait to post photos. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Article on aDORRable bears in Teddy & Co.

I am so excited about this article written about aDORRable bears by good friend, Richard Backschas, for Teddy & Co.  Thank you Richard.  He will be sending a translated version to me.....hopefully....and if he does, I will post it here.