Our church had a badminton tournament at a parks and recreation community center. Susan and I were a team, and got thrashed badly, but oh well, we had fun and got some exercise, which was the point. Maranna paired up with Sherry, and they designed their own t-shirts, made with indelible ink Sharpie pens. Their numbers on the back are their graduation years, and above the numbers are their nicknames-- Marinara and Sherberry. Julian's partner was Jason, one of his best church friends. They beat Susan and I (no great feat, I admit), and advanced to the next round but lost to the team that eventually won the tournament.
A Word About the Title of This Blog
The Bear represents my heritage:
I am Ben, born 1958,
the son of Ben, born 1930,
the son of Benjamin Siever 1885-1943,
the son of Jacob "Seven Folds" 1845-1911,
the son of Michael 1814-1898,
the son of "Red" Yost 1775-1856,
the son of John 1732-1813,
the son of "Immigrant" Christian , born c.1700 in Switzerland, died 1775 in Berks County, PA.
The area my ancestors came from is called the Bernese Oberland, the region around Bern, which is now the Swiss capital. Bern means "bear" and a bear is featured on the Bern flag. They immigrated in 1742. There were two families on the ship, one headed by Immigrant Christian and the other by a certain "Widow Barbara", whose deceased husband is believed to have been Christian's brother. I have no way to know what any of them looked like, but one of Widow Barbara's sons was called Strong (German "Stark") Jacob. According to accounts, he was a massive man of great strength, hence his nickname, but he was also a pacifist who took great pains to never be violent with anyone, even when provoked. He had a son named Christian, whose nickname was "der Dick Christel" (literally "thick-through"), and this man had a son called "Big Dan." Obviously they had the genes for size. Then you add in my great grandfather, who was so large and ponderous that he was given the nickname "Seven Folds" for all his double chins, and my dad, who has never been extra-large or anything, but whose co-workers sometimes called him "Gentle Ben" for his easy going ways, and you can see that I am descended from a line of bearlike men. We aren't the ferocity of wolves, the duplicity of serpents, nor the royalty of eagles, just men that are big, strong, unfussy eaters, affable, good natured and middle class. I am a bear!
The Dragon has a number of connections. First and foremost, it represents my wife, who is from China, and thus it pertains to my interest in Chinese people and culture. When I was studying Mandarin, I asked her to give me a Chinese name. She chose "Bin-Long" (bean-loong). "Bin" means "talkative, well mannered, well educated" and is often translated "urbane." She chose it because she felt it described me and it sounds like Ben. She then told me, "I chose 'Long' because it means 'dragon,' and I know how much you love dragons!" Lastly, dragons represent to me the exotic, the far away, the mythical, which has always drawn me. I can at times be a grumpy, overweight, slovenly bear, but in my heart, I dream dragon dreams. I have always loved Tolkien, fantasy and science fiction literature, folktales, epic sagas, the distant past and the distant future. It's what drew me to China in the first place, I think. It's why I enjoy thinking about all kinds of non-standard and even bizarre things. Coiled up inside, I am a dragon!