I was tagged by Ms. Lyn, who writes a wonderful blog on the importance of individual liberties.
RULE ONE, I have to grab one of the books closest to me, go to page 56, type the fifth line and the next two to five lines that follow.
RULE TWO, I have to pick five people who love books and who could receive the Bookworm award with honor.
First part: "By then, Sally was crying too. When she was a girl, the aunts had been the ones to sit up with her all night whenever she'd had an ear infection or the flu; they'd told her stories and fixed her broth and hot tea."--Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic
Second part, when y'all have time: Boston Pobble, Eugene, Moon Raven, Tai, and Daisy.
I like memes when they're good and short. I got other things to talk about, though. So much news, like the military plane that crashed into the San Diego subdivision and killed three people and the anti-police brutality riots in Greece and the work being done on the reduced-size auto industry bailout. So little I can do or say about any of it, really. So I'll stick with smaller things on my mind, though they are more substantial than Heroes pissing me off yet again and Boston Legal's sweet series-ending episode.
Zoo Atlanta's baby panda boy got his name, finally. Xi Lan, or "Atlanta's Joy." It fits because his older sister is Mei Lan, or "Atlanta Beauty," and because he, like most of his tribe, is joyful and joy-inducing. But for a while yet, he'll be called simply, "Awwwwwwwwwww!" I love his cute swooshy eyepatches, almost like "winged" eyeliner. Pandas are uniformly black and white and chubby and cute, but differences are discernable.
Zoo and reserve pandas get their names after 100 days, according to Chinese tradition. Zoo Atlanta describes the reasoning for it tactfully: "A time-honored custom in many parts of China, the 100 Day Naming Celebration has its roots in practicality. Until relatively recently in history, infant mortality was common in China, and many parents postponed naming their offspring during the fragile early months. An infant’s 100th day was thus considered an extremely significant milestone, and the custom survives today as an occasion of great festivity. In Chinese tradition, family and friends typically honor the child with gifts and red envelopes containing warm wishes for health, long life and prosperity." Little Xi Lan's first weekend on Earth was especially harrowing because his mother had mastitis and couldn't nurse him properly then. I understand the reasoning behind the tradition a little better now.
The "War on Christmas" is back, as hateful and horrible as ever despite (because of?) the fact that there are all kinds of real problems going on. L'Ailee and I were extremely dismayed, to say the least, by the reaction to an atheist placard next to the tree and nativity scene near the Washington State Capitol. Pastor Ken Hutcherson tried to get not only the spotlight, but apparently a free case of Jimmy Dean's finest: "Hey, I believe in Jesus Christ and if you don't that's OK because you're going to fry like a Jimmy Dean pure pork sausage on Judgement Day." Man, that makes me just feel festive all over! Makes me wish I had what he's got, 'cause he seems like such a secure person! Makes me feel downright loved! I'd rather see that stupid man in the sun-shaped foam suit advertising Jimmy Dean again. And hey, that actually *is* what I celebrate, as a Pagan, and what European Pagans celebrated before Christianity came along as well!
L'Ailee and I thought that the atheist placard was wrong, though. So over the top offensive, even though the "hardened hearts" it warned about are certainly on full display among the Christianists protesting at the state capitol. But worse yet, it's ugly! For Winter Solstice, I've made a pentacle with white lights for years. Last year, I got inspired by a truly tacky Hanukkah decoration, a blue tinsel Star of David with lights, and made a purple tinsel light-up pentacle. L'Ailee decided that it could be joined by a garland of silk pansies. Pansies are a symbol of freethought from the last turn of the century. The two work surprisingly well together, like so many atheist/Pagan couples. I got the frankly fake white tree prelit with bright lights that I wanted last year at a post-holiday sale, because my poor old potted cypress tree couldn't take being lit up again. The cypress has orange-and-clove pomanders on it, and the fake tree is gaudy but cheerful. We think we need to decorate a state capitol or two next year. After all, I became an actual certified interior decorator this year, though I've only gotten two jobs since.
I really don't get it. There's so little happiness to go around right now, and we need so much hope. That's really what the Winter Solstice is about--on the longest night of the year, we celebrate the knowledge that the days will get brighter and the light will return. My work husband and I talked about it today. I wondered if maybe the Christianists needed us non-Christians around to blame for their inability to feel festive. It's easier to attack us than it is to do something about real problems. I found myself respecting the church in Detroit that had a prayer ceremony for the economy and the American auto industry this Sunday. At least they wanted to help their people! To be honest, I teared up a little when I saw the footage on the news. It was powerful after seeing the sheer hate in Washington.
"I don't know why these Christians do that," my Christian work husband said. "I don't think you gotta put a Nativity scene up at City Hall, either. Do it at your church. We've got lots of big churches here. I can pass a building that doesn't have one, doesn't have a Christmas tree. I can hear someone talk about Hanukkah or say 'Happy Holidays.' God's a big boy and so am I. If someone's saying 'Happy Holidays' with a smile on their face, they've got more Christmas spirit than someone who's making a thing out of hollering out 'Merry Christmas.'"
"It's got more 'merry' to it, too," I said.
He smiled. "I guess it's like, if, you're a kid who had to sit through a dinner you didn't like at a restaurant, and now you get dessert, and here comes this other kid who's just getting dessert, no nutritious dinner first. They could've eaten something else at home, something you'd have really hated. They probably did. But what you're seeing is, hey, this other kid's getting chocolate cake and didn't even have to eat all their catfish and broccoli first!"
"You don't make Christianity sound like fun."
"Neither do those people in Washington. But it seems like those people who show their ass for Jesus are part of *your* gross meal before dessert."
The boy is food-crazy. He's always scrounging around my desk for snacks. (I've cured him of the habit of going into my purse, at least.) He and L'Ailee's best friend will work together to eat us out of house and home on race day. He recently described hearing Emmylou Harris on a country station as being like "when you ask your mama for a snack and she tells you to go get an apple." But I couldn't argue with his point. I'm glad not all, or even most, Christians feel a need to pile on the grossness. I'm glad I get lots of metaphorical desserts.
When the War on Christmas paraphernalia is packed up for another year, there will still be couples like me and L'Ailee to pick on, as the controversy over Newsweek's cover article on religion and same-sex marriage shows. Go ahead, read the actual article here.
Help support the brave former workers at Republic Window and Door! If you don't have money, you can still give moral support!
Koalas have cell phones! Actually, an Australian research team is using cellies to listen in on koalas' nocturnal activities. Hope they don't learn to text, 'cause that would torpedo the researchers' budget!
This is, like, *the* best health news in ages. Red wine and weed might help stave off Alzheimer's! Denny Crane would approve.
Finally, how do female astronauts menstruate in space? Don't act like you didn't want to know! (Okay, maybe you didn't.)