Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Collecting Rocks Day (by Stretch)

Today is “Collect Rocks Day.” According to our calendar, that means all of us are supposed to play amateur geologist for a day and go out picking up rocks. Where we live it’s pouring rain today and quite chilly as well, more conducive weather for making cold mud pies.  So it’s fortunate that I already have a collection of rocks that I picked up at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History this summer.

(By the way, there are rocks here from Nevada, Vermont, North Carolina, Colorado . . . so Paul, Mitzi, Donna, Debby, Wanda, Yadja—if the weather isn’t good for rock hunting in your areas today either, you’re welcome to borrow one of my pebbles to celebrate the holiday.)

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that bit of trivia out of the way, let’s move on to the important news of the day. In case you haven’t seen the latest headlines, I thought I’d share this newspaper my friend Debby delivered to me.
It appears that my joking about running for President has resulted in my actually being drafted to run as the candidate for a new Third Party.

This is apparently stirring a lot of interest, not to mention worry, among Washington insiders and other potential candidates.

So it’s a good thing I already have that rock collecting thing taken care of so I can move on to more important stuff today—like some strategic planning. 
But don’t worry, I won’t let campaigning interfere with writing my enlightening blog stories and I will remain the same down-to-earth unspoiled bear that I’ve always been. Excuse me, I think my human assistant needs a glass of water; she apparently is choking on something. (What’s that? What are you mumbling . . . I don’t need to collect rocks, I must have a head full of them if I’m thinking of getting involved in the mess in Washington?)

 Anyway, if you have any advice or want to volunteer to answer phones or do some canvassing, contact my assistant and she’ll put you in touch with my campaign manager Tiny or one of my media professionals—Debby (eBay ID: Debsdollhouseminis11) or Paul Van Dort (Red Devil Productions, Inc.).

Oh—that reminds me. Paul, Mitzi called and suggested a rock you could collect for her today.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 11, 2014

September 13 marks the 100th anniversary of the British attack on Fort McHenry that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song that became our national anthem—The Star-Spangled Banner. On our recent trip to Washington we took Stretch to see the famous flag that waved so proudly and defiantly the morning after the attack. 

As today we once again commemorate the anniversary of a more recent act of war, the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, I can’t help but be reminded of a striking similarity between these two events, namely how our flag helped restore our morale each time. Just as the sight of the Star-Spangled Banner flying over Fort McHenry filled Francis Scott Key with pride, the brave NYC firefighters who pulled our flag intact from the rubble of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were inspired to raise this banner high to proclaim our strength to stand tall in the face of evil.

I’m especially proud that it’s true of New Yorkers that whatever our differences of religion, race or political beliefs, in times of crisis you’ll find us united as one people and as stubbornly defiant as our country’s flag.

We Will Never Forget

2,606 lost in the World Trade Center

125 lost in the Pentagon

40 lost in Pennsylvania aboard Flight 93

343 FDNY Firefighters  
23 NYPD Officers
37 Port Authority Police Officers
??? Have Died from Illnesses Related to Recovery Work at Ground Zero

Monday, September 8, 2014


As those who read this blog know, my little friend Stretch likes to collect things. And I admit I always manage to bring back a souvenir or two whenever we travel. On our trip to Washington this year we found an exhibit at the Smithsonian Castle that made us realize this collecting is not only normal, it is part of the American psyche. And we were frankly amazed at some of the things people collected that have made it into the Smithsonian’s archives. I’ll let Stretch tell you about them:

What I want to know is—who collected this napkin? Did a waiter clearing the table discreetly tuck it in his pocket? Was it snatched by a dinner companion when Napoleon was getting up to leave the table? And most importantly, did they wash this thing before they put it on exhibit?!

I’m picturing some safari guide waving this around and telling his friends, “Hey, look, I’ve got Teddy Roosevelt’s can opener!” Boy, if you’re famous you obviously have to keep an eye on every little thing you possess.
And also be wary of people sneaking up behind you with scissors.

Now this is just going too far if you ask me. What did this souvenir hunter do, discreetly take a pen knife to the coffin while he was supposedly paying his respects?

And when they say people will collect anything, believe it

I think they should have asked me for advice on what constitutes a good souvenir.

Take this diamond, for instance, this would be nice in a souvenir collection.
The Hope Diamond

And I wouldn’t mind getting my paws on this$100,000 bill. Although I have to admit, I probably wouldn’t keep it for long.

But enough about souvenirs, I also wanted to add my personal disclaimer to a rumor that was started when my friends found out I went to Washington. There is more or less no truth to the speculation that I went to D.C. to possibly explore the idea of running for President in 2016. (However, if drafted I will run; if elected I will serve.)

[This comment was paid for by Stretch For President 2016 with affiliation with the Stretching Ego Campaign 2010-2014]  Photography by Paul Van Dort Studios; for more information or to volunteer  contact Public Relations director Jenn Wolf.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Few Thoughts on Visiting the Smithsonian

When I go away with my assistant, you might have noticed we never simply plop down at a luxury resort and watch the clouds go by. It always has to be someplace where we can see and learn new things. Well, I do admit to having fun on these outings, so I’m not exactly complaining. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of the unusual stuff I found at the Smithsonian museums on our latest excursion.

First of all the Museum of Natural History had this giant head from Easter Island. I couldn’t wait to rush over to it and see if it called me “Dum Dum” and asked for a piece of “gum gum” like in the movie Night at the Museum. But this one had nothing to say. My assistant, however, was not as reticent and had to read me all about how this is the only full Easter Island statue in a U.S. museum, it’s carved from solidified volcanic ash, it represents the deceased head of a lineage of an Easter Island colony . . . I was beginning to wonder if I should offer her a piece of gum.

In the American History Museum I found some little people my size had moved in and I do mean moved in completely, bringing their whole family and their house along. Their last name is “Doll.” (Wonder how long it took someone to come up with that original name?) I was thinking of dropping in there for lunch and resting my paws but then my assistant pointed out that Mr. and Mrs. Doll had ten children, two visiting grandparents, five servants and twenty pets in the house. It was more crowded in there than in the larger museum, so I decided to move on.

I discovered a real treasure at one of the National Art Galleries—Mona Lisa’s sister. What? Oh, okay. My assistant wants me to tell you that this is actually a painting of someone named Ginerva de Benci, a 16 year old poet. Leonardo da Vinci painted her when he was just 22; this is supposedly the only painting by da Vinci in a U.S. museum, so if you can’t get to Italy and want to see Mona Lisa’s cousin, you can always go to Washington, D.C.  Excuse me again: Well how do you know she wasn’t Mona’s cousin? I see a resemblance.

Moving along to the Sculpture Garden, I found this artist had a great idea for what’s needed in Washington.

Outside the gardens as I walked along I came across this petrified wood.

I was wondering what scared it when I noticed that one of the Smithsonian’s exhibits had apparently escaped. Maybe there was something to that movie about the museum at night after all. 

Anyway, I will end with a little reflection. You know how sometimes when you think you want something and you get something different and you feel sorry for yourself? Like why am I spending my summer looking at bones and old paintings instead of soaking up the sun with a pina colada on a beach in Hawaii? And then you discover that maybe the alternative you’ve been given isn’t so bad after all.

Like when I decided to check out the Hawaii exhibit at the National Botanic Garden, thinking I would daydream about my ideal vacation. And then I came across this—cabbage on a stick!

After that I was happy to chow down on some delicious crabcakes and think about what souvenirs I might want. More on that in my next blog.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Reflections on My Trip to Washington (by Stretch)

The news these days is filled with all kinds of scary stories about terrorists and invasions and riots. I decided I would take a trip to Washington DC so I could check on how our government is dealing with all these problems and report back to reassure my readers that we’re all going to be okay.

My first excursion was to the National Mall where I found the surroundings very quiet and peaceful.
So I strolled over to the Capitol to check on Congress but discovered they were all on a recess and have been for weeks. So who’s minding the country?
I did find these two members of Congress downtown, but obviously they aren’t on the best of terms from the way they’re ignoring each other.

My next stop was the White House to see what the President had to say about everything. It seemed very quiet around here, and when I crawled under the fence (thanks for the idea Mary!) a Secret Service person told me that the President was on vacation playing golf.

I decided to go back to my hotel and pen a few letters to our vacationing representatives to suggest that maybe they need to get back to work. But when I went to mail them, I discovered that the U.S. Postal Service has apparently been taken over by SpongeBob while all our reps are away partying. That explains a lot.

I needed some reassurance at this point, so I headed over to the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, looking for some inspiration in their archives on how our country has endured two centuries of ups and downs. But I discovered that the Redcoats had invaded and seized the lobby of the museum with nary a Patriot opposing them. I was alarmed at first, then decided this might not be such a bad thing. I wouldn’t mind if my friends Lynda, Susie and Sonia came along as part of the takeover, we could all go have tea together.

Anyway, it seems we’re all being, well you get the idea, while apparently no one is minding the country.

But then I found what I was looking for when I spotted a place that actually seemed filled with people.

In this big building was a huge statue of my friend Mr. Lincoln, who you might remember I met on my last trip to Washington. 

He was sitting there, keeping an eye on the Capitol across the way and he had some great advice. 

If we all heed his words, I think everything will work out after all.