Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Seesawing Through Life

My calendar says today is the anniversary of Babe Ruth getting his record-setting 60th home run, a milestone that stood for 34 years until Roger Maris hit 61 homers in 1961. Years ago we probably would have celebrated this occasion, but times have changed.  The Red Sox suddenly managed to find a way to lift the “Curse of the Bambino” and win the World Series a few years back, and this weekend Red Sox fans were cheering a Yankee, Derek Jeter. The old rivalry just isn’t what it used to be!
That's it!
You just follow through on that swing like I told you, and you're sure to hit a lot of home runs!
So, we’ll quietly ignore the Bambino today and move on to musing about other things. And it isn’t hard to find other topics to focus on with Stretch’s friends giving us lots of ideas. Yesterday we received a beautiful miniature seesaw in the mail from Stretch’s pal Oppi. It’s handcrafted from Red Oak and Honduras Rosewood.

Stretch and Tiny had never heard of a seesaw, so I did some research and found a couple of interesting bits of historic trivia for my fellow history buffs. Apparently no one knows who first invented the seesaw but there’s one rumor that claims it was the brainchild of Korean girls back in the 17th century. In those days, Korean girls were not allowed to go outside the confines of their courtyard wall.  Well, you can lock ‘em up, but you can’t hold ‘em back. These ingenious gals came up with the seesaw so they could catapult themselves high enough to see over the walls and get a glimpse of the outside world.  A more mundane version of this story says the seesaw was put together by children living in a construction area who borrowed a plank and a log from the local sawyers to play on. I personally like the version of the savvy Chinese girls.

Whatever its origin, the first patent for a seesaw was issued on June 27, 1871 to a Mrs. S.E. Saul. Some speculate that she derived the name “seesaw” as a play on her own name. Her version was actually closer to the modern teeter totter, being supported by a rope above the plank.

I don’t remember riding many seesaws as a kid; I was more of a “swings” person. But there are many days now I sure feel as if I’m on a personal seesaw and I know many of my readers can identify with that feeling. One minute you’re up, the next minute you’re crashing down. I would love to go back to that nice smooth swing again!

Oh well, at least I’m sure our little carefree friends Stretch and Tiny are having a blast riding that seesaw I set up for them in their yard. What’s that Stretch?

“Houston, we have a problem!”

Excuse me, I better go give Tiny some help . . .

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Seating Arrangements

It’s a really gloomy day here on Long Island, one of those days where the rainy dampness seems to penetrate every nook and cranny and a gray pall hangs over everything. This is just the sort of day that’s perfect for curling up in a cozy armchair or recliner with a warm cup of something and a good book. It’s also fun to take a virtual trip down memory lane on days like this, and as Stretch and I were looking over some photos from our last trip to the Brooklyn Museum, we found some interesting trivia about the history of seating arrangements we thought you might enjoy. (All quotes are from exhibit placards.)

“When we think of chairs, we tend to think of a comfortable place to sit in order to rest or to efficiently complete a task. This however, is a very modern idea that presumes everyone has a seat.

For much of history . . . comfort was not the purpose of a chair. Instead, a chair was there to make the sitter appear important and powerful. It separated, and often raised, the sitter from others present . . . A chair was more like a throne.”

“In seventeenth-century America, the armchair acted as a throne, supporting the status of the most important person in a gathering—the chairman. Most people sat on stools or benches. With this chair . . . the carved crest frames the head like a crown, and the placement of the hands on the armrests gives the sitter a pose of formal power.“
Wainscot Chair, second half of the 17th century

Folding Stool, circa 1773
“When it was new, this stool was part of the winter furnishings of the bedchamber of the Comtesse d’Artois at the Palace of Versailles. . . Chairs with backs and arms were largely reserved for royalty. Everyone else sat on tabourets or stools. A certain duchess at the court of King Louis XIV felt that her status entitled her to sit in an armchair. Society leaders disagreed and required her to sit on a tabouret instead. Rather than submit to such humiliation, the duchess refused to sit at all and spent every long hour in society standing.”

So if you’re having a lousy weather day or feeling under the weather physically today, Stretch and I suggest you follow our example. Make yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee, find some fun entertainment you can do sitting down and then ensconce yourself in a chair fit for royalty!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Celebrating Elephants and Agatha Christie

We’ve been busy with a few projects lately and have been neglecting our “adventures” blog, so we decided it’s time to get back on here with some new ideas on how to celebrate life.
First of all, today is “Elephant Appreciation Day.”  We thought this day was probably created by a wildlife conservation society to draw awareness to ongoing efforts to save this species from poachers. However, a little research turned up the information that the idea for this celebration actually came from an organization called “Mission Media, Inc.” whose founder, Wayne Hepburn, became fascinated by elephants after his daughter gave him a paperweight of elephants on parade.  Stretch thinks by that reasoning there should be a “Stretch Appreciation Day” since so many folks are fascinated by him. I told him there’s already such a day—it’s called Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday . . .

While I was mumbling, Stretch and Tiny wandered off to celebrate the day with one of the pets from their zoo—their elephant Peanut.

If you’re not a spoiled teddy bear and don’t have a pet elephant handy, you might want to join me in a different celebration. Last Monday was the anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birth. Since I missed that event and since she is my favorite mystery author, I decided I would celebrate the one week anniversary of her birthday and enjoy one of her mystery stories today.

My fellow Christie fans might also want to prolong the celebration with me by checking out a new PBS program called “The Mystery of Agatha Christie.” In the NYC area it airs on WNET/13 on Sunday (Sept. 28) at 10:30 p.m. From the description I’m assuming it has something to say about the time she mysteriously disappeared for a while, an event which has never been fully explained: “Yes, the Queen of the Mystery was apparently in one of her own, which David Suchet attempts to unravel in this special presentation.” I’m hoping it’s not just a lot of hype, but since I think David Suchet was the best portrayer of Hercule Poirot, I’ll give it a look.

Stretch says he and Tiny will be watching with me, but he also wants his fans to know that he did not miss celebrating Agatha Christie’s birthday last week. In fact, he says if you check Variety, you’ll see rave reviews for “Hercule Stretch and Captain Tiny” in their performance of “Death on the Nile.”

Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved. (Soren Kierkegaard)

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