Thursday, April 21, 2016


In my first entry about this museum, I showed you pictures of some of the miniatures.  Now I am going to tell you about toys.

First of all, here are some strange-looking dogs, a cat, and a bear.  I especially like the dog with the ears that stick up.

This bear was really, really big -- like even taller than Mom!  It was made by a German company called Stieff.  This company was started in 1880 by Margarete Steiff, who later had help from her brother Fritz.  Stieff started out by making elephants, but later she made dogs, cats, and pigs.  She designed and made most of the prototypes herself.  In 1897, Steiff's nephew Richard joined the company.  He is the one who first created the teddy bear in 1902.  By 1907, the company had made 974,000 bears, and they have been making more ever since.

Stieff toys are designed to be safe for children.  The most common materials in them are alpaca, felt, mohair, and woven plush.  They are stuffed with wood shavings or polyester fibers.  All the Stieff toys have the famous "button in ear," which shows that it is authentic and not an imitation.

Here are some other toys that Mom saw in the museum:

These are the kinds of toys that boys played with the in the 1940s:

And girls played at being little housewives:

Here are some George and Martha Washington dolls.  They don't look as happy as Barbie and Ken, but they have fancier clothes.

There were a lot of doll houses in the exhibit.  They were sort of like miniatures, but they were made for girls to play with, furnish, and decorate.  Some of them were very large and fancy.  A chihuahua could go inside one of the rooms and curl up and take a nap -- if there weren't so many dolls and other things in the way.

I'm not sure what that black animal is, but it might be a goat.  At our house, Mom doesn't let goats come in the kitchen.

This is the doll house dining room, full of doll-sized furniture and dishes.

Here are the dolly children, playing in their playroom.

You can see several rooms of this doll house, almost as if the wall fell off.

So that's pretty much all of the Toy and Miniature stuff I'm going to show you.  If you want to see more, you should go to the museum in person.  My opinion is that there are some fairly good exhibits there, as far as I can tell from the pictures Mom took.  The two things I think they really need to add are: (1) dog toys, and (2) dog houses.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


Male proboscis monkey, photo ©Ikki Matsuda
When it comes to monkeys, proboscis monkeys are probably the weirdest-looking ones of all, which is why I wanted to tell you about them first!  Their scientific name is Nasalis larvatus, which means "long-nosed."  In Indonesia, they are sometimes called "Dutch monkeys" or "Dutchmen" because the Indonesians noticed that the Dutch colonizers had large bellies and noses, just like the monkeys. 

In Ancient Egypt, proboscis monkeys were worshiped because they were unique and thought to be special to the gods.  Of course, cats were also worshiped, which I think, as a chihuahua, was another reason why the Ancient Egyptians were somewhat lacking in good sense!

Female and male;

Nowadays, the proboscis monkey can only be found on the Southeast Asian island of Borneo, which contains the nations of Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia.  Unfortunately, this monkey is considered to be an ENDANGERED SPECIES because its population has shrunk by more than 50% in just the past 40 years or so.  This is happening mostly because people keep cutting down the forests where the monkeys live.  When they are forced to come down out of the trees to get food, they are more vulnerable to predators such as jaguars and native peoples who consider the monkeys to be tasty delicacies.

It is very easy to tell male proboscis monkeys from females because males have the really big noses, which can be as long as 7 inches.  Also, males are bigger than females.  They can weigh as much as 50 pounds, but the females are only half that big.  The monkeys' coats are long, with the fur on the back being bright orange, reddish brown, yellowish brown, or brick-red.  The underfur is light-grey, yellowish, or light orange.  Proboscis monkey faces are orange-pink.  Both sexes have bulging stomachs and webbed feet.  These monkeys do a lot of swimming, and their webbed feet help them swim faster than any crocodiles who might want to eat them.

Proboscis monkeys live in bands of one male, two to seven adult females, and their offspring.  There may also be all-male bands.  Because they are not very territorial, the smaller bands of monkeys often come together into larger groups near water to sleep. The monkeys prefer to stay up in the trees as much as possible, but if they have to, they look for food down on the ground.

Female Proboscis Monkey

Male proboscis monkeys use their big, sexy noses to attract females.  The noses allow them to make a louder call that impresses the females and scares competitors away.  However, it is the female who initiates mating, and she will only do that if there is plenty of food to support her offspring.  The gestation period is between 166 and 200 days.  Birth usually occurs at night or in the early morning.  Baby monkeys begin to eat solid food at six weeks, and they are weaned at seven months.  Noses on young monkeys grow slowly until the animals reach adulthood.  A mother monkey will allow other members of the band to hold her infant.  But when the leader of a one-male group is replaced, the mother may leave, fearing that the new leader will kill her baby.

Proboscis Monkey Family in Malaysian Borneo. Photo © HUTAN

The main foods for proboscis monkeys are fruit and leaves, but they also eat flowers, seeds, and insects. Basically, they have to eat whatever is in season, so from January to May, they eat mostly fruit, and from June to December, mostly leaves.  The monkeys avoid eating ripe fruit because the sugars in fruit can ferment in their stomachs and cause fatal bloating.  Their stomachs are complex, with several chambers, and sometimes monkeys chew their cud to help digestion.

"Does this tummy make me look fat?"

Proboscis monkeys start each day by foraging for food as they travel inland.  Then they rest for a while and later move back toward the river as they forage again.  They must always watch out for predators such as crocodiles, clouded leopards, eagles, monitor lizards, and pythons.

Okay, so now you know all about the ugly proboscis monkeys.  Maybe next time I will pick a cute monkey to tell you about!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


It was a year ago this month that Mom first rented a booth at A Fabulous Find antique mall and started selling antiques.  She has sold a bunch of stuff, and there are some other things that nobody wanted to buy.  Several of these unwanted items have gone to the thrift store, but a few of them are still in Mom's booth.  Mom keeps lowering the prices, and maybe if she gets all the way to "free," someone will take the things away.  Or not.

Anyway, Mom put some new stuff in her booth yesterday.  Then she took pictures of it.  She does this so that if she goes in there sometime and sees an empty space, she can look at the pictures and figure out what got sold (or stolen, because a few things have gone missing and never showed up again).  So now I will show you some of the pictures Mom took yesterday.  If you see anything you want to buy, you should rush right over to A Fabulous Find, 5330 Martway St., Mission, KS.  Mom's booth is number 15.

Lots of pretty dishes and a really nice shelf unit thing.

Salt and pepper shakers.

More salt and pepper shakers, plus some nice pictures to hang on your wall.  There's even a Coca-Cola sign in Thai.

Lots of cute animals, a few bottles, and some other nice stuff.

More dishes, a Currier & Ives print of a steamboat, a bird feeder, and some votive candle holders.

A couple of boxes of photos and prints.  Also there is a wall rack that you can put your knick knacks on.

Mom sells lots of Kansas City postcards.  Of course, she usually sells them for less than she paid for them, so that is why she is not getting rich in the antique business!  Mom also has two seder plates for sale, but so far nobody has bought them.

Another thing Mom sells quite a bit of is silverware, like silverplate pieces and souvenir spoons.

Okay, so that's all I'm going to say about Mom's antique booth today.  Well, except I will just mention that Mom sure spends a lot of time going to estate sales and then getting her purchases ready to put in her booth.  If she wasn't doing all that stuff, she would have a lot more time to help me write blog entries.  Just sayin'...

Sunday, March 27, 2016


A few weeks ago, Mom went with a couple of her friends to see the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, which is right here in Kansas City.  When this museum first opened in 1982, it was just called the Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City.  I'm not sure how it got to be a "national" museum, but it probably took an act of Congress or something like that.

The original collections of toys and miniatures that went into the museum belonged to Mary Harris Francis and Barbara Marshall.  The first building was 7,000 square feet in size.  In 1985 and 2004, the building was expanded until it was 33,000 square feet.  By that time, the collection included over 72,000 objects.

A miniature castle

A capital campaign was started in 2012 to raise money for a new, bigger building, which opened on August 1, 2015.  The museum has the world's largest fine-scale miniature collection and one of the country's biggest antique toy collections.

I wanted to go with Mom to see all the little tiny things in the museum.  I thought that since I am a member of a breed of very small dogs, I would fit right in.  But Mom said dogs are not allowed to go in the museum, even miniature dogs.  Toy breeds are not allowed in the museum either, which does not seem fair.  But there was nothing I could do about the situation except stay home and take a nap.

It's hard to show how small these things are, which is why Mom should have
taken me along for size comparison. This cabinet is only 12" or 14" tall,
and that means the artist had to use a very small brush to paint the scenes in it!

Anyway, Mom took a bunch of pictures for me to put in my blog.  I will show you the pictures of miniatures today, and the pictures of toys another day.  Mom said to apologize because some of the photos are sort of fuzzy.  This was due to the fact that everything was behind plexiglass, and also because she was using her cell phone camera.

A miniature doll and dollhouse, with a miniature dog chewing on a miniature teddy bear.

A very small living room with a tiny wing chair and two little dogs.

There was lots of miniature furniture and miniature dishes. 
The dog in this scene is cuddling with a cat, which is something that never happens at our house!

Two women are chatting in the doorway of this little English cottage.

Those fingers are Mom's.  She was trying to show how little the piano and harpsichord are.

A stringed-instrument maker's shop inside a regular-sized violin.  All the tools and everything are there.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


This year's Irish dog breed that I have chosen to write about is the Kerry Blue Terrier.  It is also sometimes called the Irish Blue Terrier, and if you speak Gaelic, you can call it An Brocaire Gorm.  Like other terriers, the Kerry Blue was originally bred to control vermin such as rats, rabbits, badgers, foxes, otters, and hares.

Over time, the Irish farmers also began to use the terriers for herding cattle and sheep, and as guard dogs.  Today the breed is known around the world and is used both as a working dog and as a companion.  However, even though a Kerry Blue won the famous British dog show, Krufts, in 2000, the breed is still much less common than many other types of terriers.

Philip Doyle with his dog "Terri" at the Killarney Show, 1916.
The breed looks quite different nowadays.

Kerry Blues first made their appearance in the mountains of Kerry in Ireland, which is how they got their name. Their development as a breed may have included some crossing with Portuguese Water Dogs, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, and Bedlington Terriers, with a little Irish Wolfhound or Irish Terrier thrown into the mix.

The characteristic coat of the Kerry Blue is soft and wavy, with no undercoat.  It is fine in texture and continues to grow without shedding.  For this reason, these dogs need to be groomed at least once a week, and they should be clipped every six weeks or so.

 Kerry Blue Puppy

Puppies are born black, and their coats gradually fade to one of several shades of "blue."  By the age of 18 months, they will reach a color ranging from deep slate gray blue to light blue gray.

Male dogs are usually 18-19 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 26 and 33 pounds.  Females are 17-18 inches tall, with a weight of 22-29 pounds.

In temperament, Kerry Blues are energetic, head-strong, and high-spirited.  They are fast, strong, and intelligent, which makes them good at obedience, agility, sheep herding, and tracking.  In Ireland, they have also been used as police dogs.

Kerry Blue Terrier during a dog show in Katowice, Poland;
Photographer: Pleple2000

Although Kerry Blues have always been loyal and affectionate with their owners, they can be mean towards other animals, including other dogs.  This has sometimes made them difficult to control in the show ring.  Modern breeders have worked to breed out this aggressive tendency while keeping the high-spirited nature of the breed. 

Frisbee, anyone?

Owners of Kerry Blues need to socialize their dogs early, give them obedience training, and provide them with daily exercise.  It helps if owners are fair, energetic, fun-loving, and have a good sense of humor.  The breed is not a good choice for everyone, but an active family who is prepared to spend lots of time with their dog and groom it regularly just might love having a Kerry Blue.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


There are more than 260 different varieties of monkeys, and they live in many parts of the world.  They can be divided into two groups: Old World monkeys and New World monkeys.  Old World monkeys live in Africa and Asia.  There are fossils that show they also lived in Europe at one time, but they don't live there now.  New World monkeys are native to Central and South America.

Even if you don't know where a particular monkey lives, you can still tell if it is Old World or New World by some other features.  Most Old World monkeys have opposable thumbs, like humans do, so they can use tools and drive cars.  They also have fingernails and toenails.  Some have tails, but others have no tail at all.  And their tails, if they have them, are not prehensile, which means they can't use them to hang onto things like branches.  Old World monkeys have special pouches in their cheeks for storing food.  They also have rump pads, which New World monkeys lack.

Buttocks pads in Celebes macaques (Old World monkeys)
Photo by Radu Xplorator

The nostrils of Old World monkeys are small and curved and are set close together.  Most New World monkeys have round nostrils that are set far apart.

Golden-Headed Lion Tamarins, New World monkeys from Brazil
Photo by Bjorn Christian Torrissen

New World monkeys live almost exclusively in trees, but Old World monkeys have a range of habitats that includes savannas, shrubland, rain forests, and mountainous terrain.  Many Old World monkeys spend most of their day on the ground rather than in the trees.  Some of the most famous types of monkeys from the Old World are baboons and macaques.

The smallest species of monkey is the pygmy marmoset, which can be as small as 4.6" with a 6.8" tail and a weight of 3.5 ounces.

Pygmy Marmoset

A male mandrill is the largest monkey, at about 3.3' long and with a weight of 79 pounds.

Male Mandrill at San Francisco Zoo, Photo by ((brian)) of Sebastopol, CA

Monkey diets differ with various species, but monkeys are omnivores.  In addition to fruit, leaves, seeds, nuts, and flowers, they sometimes also eat eggs, small lizards, insects, and spiders.

Monkeys are very social animals.  A group of them can be called a mission, tribe, troop, or cartload.  The group will work together to take care of all the young.  They also like to groom each other, play, cuddle, and protect each other.

Baboons grooming each other; Old World monkeys

Humans have varied relationships with monkeys.  Some people keep monkeys as pets.  Others use them in laboratories for experimentation.  Monkeys have also been trained as service animals for the disabled. 
Some farmers consider monkeys to be pests because of the damage they cause to crops.  In these places, monkeys might be killed in "monkey drives."  Monkeys can also pester and attack tourists.

Monkey brains are eaten as a delicacy in parts of South Asia, Africa, and China.  In parts of Africa, monkeys may be sold and eaten as "bushmeat."  Muslims, however, are forbidden by Islamic dietary law from eating monkeys. 

New World monkey with prehensile tail

Many species of monkeys have serious conservation issues, and some are in danger of becoming extinct.  One big reason for this is loss of forest habitat as humans clear land to grow food and produce charcoal and firewood.  Monkeys are also captured for the exotic pet trade, killed for bushmeat, and used for traditional medicine.  In some villages, bushmeat is a major source of food.

Crested Black Macacque, Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve, Sulawesi, Indonesia
Photo by Benedictus Givarto

Conservation efforts involve teaching people to grow food in ways that don't involve constantly clearing more land.  Some groups are providing sanctuaries for endangered monkeys and are then reintroducing them to the wild.

Maybe, if we are lucky, these methods will work, and none of the monkeys will go extinct!