Cheer Du Jour

A little cheer to forget your troubles, and better yet, to toast with a glass of bubbles!

October 21st – Birthdays, Death Day, Vote Day and Happy Apple Day (plus a gratuitous shot of a semi-nude man!)

on October 21, 2012

Today makes up for a rather lackluster holiday weekend. October 21st is Apple Day, a tradition begun in 1990 by Common Ground, as “an annual celebration of apple, orchards and local distinctiveness”. The apple (seasonal poetic license for acorn) doesn’t fall far from the tree, and echoes Common Ground’s mission, which “is internationally recognised for playing a unique role in the arts and environmental fields, distinguished by the linking of nature with culture, focussing upon the positive investment people can make in their own localities, championing popular democratic involvement, and by inspiring celebration as a starting point for action to improve the quality of our everyday places.” See http://www.england-in-particular.info/cg/appleday/index.html for details, and have a caramel apple to celebrate.

According to the Chicago Tribune, several notable icons were born on this day in history. Dizzy Gillespie was born today (in 1917) in Cheraw, South Carolina, destined to be one of the great jazz musicians of all time, Alfred Nobel (in 1833) was born, in Stockholm, Sweden, to a life that would include the invention of dynamite and the establishment of the Nobel prize, and the opening day of the Gugenheim Museum in New York (in 1959).

October 21, 1945 brought the vote to women in France for the first time, also according to the Tribune. That makes me feel slightly better about our country’s finally granting the vote to women a quarter of a century earlier – how progressive we were! Excuse the snark – issues of equality really bother me. For instance, it is unbelievable to me that gender still determines the right to marriage in 2012. I can only hope that a generation or two after mine will shake their heads, when they read of the anniversary of marriage equality in 2013 (dare to dream!).

This is a site dedicated to happy news, though, so I will end with a death. Ok, death is not usually a happy event (except for….), but it brings about a happy event in a train of thought that can only happen in my chaotic train yard. In 1805, Admiral Horatio Nelson and his fleet defeated a French-Spanish fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar. Unfortunately, Nelson was killed (both of these facts are due to the hard-working editors of the Chicago Tribune’s Almanac). If you have ever been to London, no doubt you have spent some time gazing into the beautiful pools of Trafalgar Square, where Lord Nelson commands fleets of pigeons and tourists from high atop his marble perch. Trafalgar Square has a special place in my heart, having spent much time there during my first trip to London. It is an important location to two of the characters in my novel (still looking for a publisher, but I hope to have news soon!), and is the source of today’s toast-worthy video.

First, though a bit of back story. My husband and I were in London this past August (enjoying the Olympic spirit, though we never actually got event tickets). After touring the National Gallery (do NOT miss this when in London!), we headed back through Trafalgar Square. Olympic mascots guarded clocks that counted down to the games (in this case, to the Paralympics), and we walked down to the glistening water. In my defense, I should note that my husband had pointed out a large, antique statue that was being pulled on a trailer, and stuck in traffic. As my gaze was directed toward the street, a man wearing nothing but an itty-bitty swimsuit, pink swim cap and goggles walked right in front of us. Luckily, I have an observant spouse, who grabbed my arm and pointed out the swimmer. The semi-nude, rather chiseled man, promptly hopped into the water and swam across the shallow pool. I couldn’t believe it! Even if we had been in Chicago, that would have raised an eyebrow, but this was England! We snapped a quick photo (see below) to capture the memory in case our minds (or better sense) denied it later. Today, I finally took a moment to look on YouTube (because everything is on YouTube) and found the video of the event. I learned that the swimmer was actually Olympian swimmer Richard Head, and was surprised to see that we were featured in the video, directly in the swimmer’s path. How I missed him initially, I couldn’t say. For all of you who appreciate (ahem) an athletic build – I mean performance, please see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foN_GUGRklY

Richard, I toast this glass of sparkling wine (because I can’t quite afford the real thing…yet) to you. Thanks for providing a great memory…and for not splashing us!

The Great Trafalgar Swim!

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