Wednesday, September 12, 2012

China--a/k/a Lion Central (and a story that turned out to be kind of long)

So, I have a good friend named Cherie who has been living in China (not too far from Shanghai) for a year now, and will probably be living there for two more years.  She's great, and I definitely miss seeing her around town.  Luckily, she writes us all an every-so-often letter, detailing her escapades, and some of her views and experiences as an American in China.  These letters are so interesting, and so irreverently funny that when I see one in my inbox, it's all I can do to wait for an appropriate moment to dive in and read, read, read.  Everyone should have a friend like that, you know?

Anyway, about a month ago Cherie sent me these stone lions that she's been collecting around China.  As she explains, Lion Statues in China are either male or female, and the way you can tell is that the males have their paw on the ball, supposedly to signify the world.  The females have a cub under their paw, to signify that they are in charge of nurturing and raising the young.  (Did the rest of you know this?  I had no idea.)

So anyway, here are some lions of both genders, presented to us by the great Cherie and Lane Sparks, currently of some city whose name I can't remember but it's close to Shanghai, China.

Here's a female at the Forbidden City--Beijing, China

Here's another female at the Forbidden City, this one guarding the Emperor's Quarters.

Here's a male at the original wall entrance to old Beijing

Here's a male at Yu Yuan Gardens in Shanghai, China.

Here's a male in Suzhou, China

And here's a (huge) stone lion in Dalian, China

I think we can all agree that these are all pretty awesome.

* * *

Now, as long as we're talking about lions, I have a story to tell you.  A few weeks ago, I went out for a "girls night" dinner with several of my neighbors.  I had a ball, loved it, came home energized and refreshed, you get the idea.  However, I also came home with a little bit of a swelled head, until reality came calling anyway.  Intrigued?  I'll go on.

One of the women that joined us had just (as in less than a week previously) moved to Cache Valley from somewhere in Maryland (this seems like it's an unimportant detail now, but will become important later on).  As we were all chatting along, somehow the topic of my blog came up.  Oh, I remember how now.  We were talking about Eric and how funny he is, and I was bemoaning the fact that he is funnier than I am and more memorable than I am, and I am not used to being overshadowed so easily and now I've hooked myself eternally to this guy who without meaning to overshadows me and my extreme wittiness, charm, and comedic genius.  (I may not have used those exact words, but that was the general idea.)  At which point, my dear Aubrey came to my defense and said that I was very funny on my blog.

So, the topic turned to my blog, and I told those who were interested the address, and Aubrey mentioned that she now has her family on stone lion lookout, which then necessitated an explanation of what the stone lions are all about, at which point Ms. Maryland (whose real name is actually Celeste) gasped and said something along the lines of "I know all about your blog!  We just had a stake women's conference, and your blog was basically the topic of the whole conference!"

As you can imagine, I stared at her, shocked.  She continued, explaining that the theme of the conference had been "Lionesses at the Gate", (taken, I assume from Sister Julie Beck's talk during the 2010 BYU Women's Conference) and that they had talked about this woman who had a blog where she posted lion pictures.  How cool is that?  No longer did I feel that I had been overshadowed by Eric, no siree Bob!  They were talking about me all the way across the country in Maryland, in a stake women's meeting no less!  This wasn't some random Relief Society lesson or Sacrament Meeting talk, this was a meeting of the female minds, a place for encouragement, instruction, and everything that is good about being a Mormon woman today.  We all laughed about the "what are the chances" aspect of it all that night, but I definitely got a lift from it all, no question about it.

Until I got home and was lying in bed, rethinking the whole thing.  The fact is, I'm not entirely convinced that this blog is the one they were talking about.  I mean, me collecting stone lions here is much more of a random  quirk of the moment (or moments--lots and lots of moments) thing than it is a spiritual kind of thing, you know?  It would be one thing if every time I posted a stone lion I had something profound and inspirational to say.  Heck, it would be one thing if even once I posted something thoughtful or inspirational or spiritual here along with the lions.  But, I don't.  I do post thoughts here from time to time that some might consider thought-provoking, or maybe even a tiny bit inspirational, but I don't think those posts have ever been associated with the stone lions.

So, maybe it was me, and maybe it wasn't.  Regardless, it sure was fun.  Sometimes when I'm having an ugly duckling day, I go ahead and pretend that there was never any doubt and that it most certainly was me, and that I'm famous all over Maryland among the LDS women there.  Hey, we all have dreams, right?


Aubrey said...

Okay, I have two mentions to mention.
1. You made that quote by Julie B. Beck, which is probably how they found your blog in the first place.

2. I googled "stone lions blog" and it was only your blog (came up twice!) and a couple random non stone-lions blogs that came up, which further convinces me of your popularity.

Thus we see, I am totally convinced it was, in fact, your awesome blog that was cited.

Melissa Corry said...

I am with Aubrey, totally was you!!! Who wouldn't want to add a little bit of quirkyness to their daily schedule :)

loveland9 said...

Awesome. Why wait for an ugly duckling day when you can think that every day! :)

Harmony said...

Okay, I too did a quick Google search and found nothing, so I think it was your blog too!
I did see quite a few individual blog posts that referenced Sister Beck's lioness quote, and even a blog titled "The Lioness at the Gate," but no blogs devoted to lion photos or stone lions like yours.

As I was surfing, I did find one blog post that I liked in particular:

This Mormon mommy introduces Sis. Beck's quote by talking about the summer she and her husband spent in China when they were newlyweds. She also shares the info about male and female lions and the photos of the lions at the Forbidden City in Beijing that Cherie shared. But she added a tidbit that caught my fancy. The lions at the Forbidden City guard the main entrance which is called the Gate of Supreme Harmony. The Lioness at the Gate of Supreme Harmony. I like that. I think I may have to make a trip to China someday, just to see it--and take a photo of it--for myself. :)

Charlotte said...


Better late than never?

I just checked out the post that you talked about. Love it. And yes, I absolutely think you need to get over to the Supreme Gate of Harmony before you die.

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