My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Monday, January 23, 2012

Here There Be Dragons!

Happy Chinese New Year, and welcome to the year of the Black Water Dragon! (The Year of the Dragon doesn't actually begin for 12 days, on Feb 4, but since most folks mark the start of the new animal zodiac today, I don't want to feel left out!)

Dragons in Chinese lore represent power from heaven. A dragon year is ambitious (often overly so), daring, and unpredictable (but aren't they all?), a year when successes and failures are magnified, though the water element that goes with this cycle's Dragon year will soften things, making it a more empathetic and compassionate year.

I got up very early yesterday to start working on this post. When BW - who was not consciously aware we were about to begin the Year of the Dragon, and like me had no idea it was specifically the year of the Black Water Dragon - got up and joined me, I told him what I was working on. He gaped at me (like a gaping thing, as my friend Barbara would say!) and then told me about the dream he'd had that night...

In the dream, BW was standing on the bowsprit of a large (perhaps 60 foot) sailboat that was slowly motoring rather than sailing down a narrow, gently winding river overhung with a canopy of huge trees on either bank. There was a handful of other unidentified people on the boat with BW. As the boat came around a bend, BW saw a huge black salamander, twice as long as an alligator, swim past the boat, going in the opposite direction, just below where BW was standing. The captain at the helm called out, "Water dragon!" and the dream ended.

Hmmm.... :-)

I thought that in honor of this new lunar year, I'd share a favorite book with you: Dragonology!

I originally bought this book in 2003 for AdventureJo's daughter Melissa for Christmas. But when it arrived, I had a very hard time parting with it and ended up buying one for myself a few months later. Want to take a peek inside?

As you can see, the illustrations are beautiful...

(I chose this colorful page to photograph at random,
noticing later that the dragon on the right is a Chinese lung,
which swims rather than flies
and is associated with all types of water!)

... and it's filled with wonderful specimens any dedicated Dragonologist might find in his or her pursuit and study of this mystical creature. Like shed dragon skin....

...and dragon glitter (often found on the walls of their lairs)...

We learn about the lifecycles of dragons (European dragons live an estimated 300 years, but no one knows how long Chinese dragons live!), about their nests (they needn't be soft, but do have to be warm), and such handy tips as:

1. Do not release young dragons into the sewer systems of large cities (or, I would think, cities of any size!)
2. Don't leave children and hungry dragons alone
3. Dragons are innate hoarders, so hide all shiny or valuable objects!

The dragon's eye, which can see across many parts of the light spectrum and spot a valuable gem from 6000 feet (not unlike most women, lol), will always reflect the image of a true Dragonmaster. Look closely and you can see a little of my photo-taking self reflected in this one's eye! ;-)

I was born to catch dragons in their dens
And pick flowers
To tell tales and laugh away the morning
To drift and dream like a lazy stream
And walk barefoot across sunshine days.
~James Kavanaugh

BW's day began with promise, when he was offered the day off. So we'll be celebrating with our favorite vegan dishes from our favorite local Chinese restaurant! How will you be inviting dragon magic into your day?


  1. What a wonderful post. I adore dragons. And BW showed (yet again) how in synch you too are. Someone to cherish.
    I will hunt out that book as a present for myself next time I feel I deserve (or need) one. Thank you.

  2. Wow, what amazing coincidences you've experienced surrounding your dragon post. Strangely enough, just before coming here, I read another blog (Cadry's Kitchen) involving a claymation dragon. So, I'm adding to the list.

    The book looks great. I don't think I'd be able to part with it, either. In fact, I bought a book about Puff the Magic Dragon for my granddaughter, and I still have it! I may have to get her a copy, too.

    Great idea to celebrate with Chinese food. I might copy that.

  3. Very cool synchronicity! The dream sounds sort of scary, but still cool and a great way to welcome in the new year.

    The dragon book definitely looks like it would be difficult to part with...I often buy books for my nieces and nephews and end up keeping them, or buying two copies! One of my favorite book sets is the DragonSong Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey. Have you read them?

    Your evening plans sound like fun! Happy Chinese New Year.

  4. Well go to the foot of our stairs - I had no idea it was the year of the Dragon. I'm a Dragon as is David (although I'm probably the fire-breathing sort and he's the wet sort :O)))). I definitely love shiny things, but couldn't eat a child (well not a whole one...).

    That book is pretty cool, I find a lot of children's books are in fact too good for children and should be kept from them until they're at least old enough not to dribble, vomit or drop food on them ;O)

    When I heard about BW's deliciously spooky dream (and LOL about him gaping at you!) I immediately had the music from the Twilight Zone in my head. Spookier than a spooky thing!

    Hope you enjoyed the Chinese meal (although I still prefer Indian!). And have a Happy Year of the Dragon xx

  5. veganelder ~ Thank you! According to Dragonology's blurb on flight, "a happy dragon is a dragon that loops!" So here's wishing us all a year of loopy dragons! :-)

    Ellie C ~ How fun that you adore dragons too, and since that is the case you simply must declare yourself in need/worthy of a present immediately, and get yourself Dragonology! :-)

    BW and I are spookily in synch sometimes. I attribute it in part to living together for 23.5 years, and in part to each of us choosing our spouse wisely. :-)

    Andrea ~ I follow Cadry's delightful blog but haven't had a chance to visit it lately. I must check it out! (I love claymation!)

    LOL! Too funny that you kept Miss E's "Puff the Magic Dragon" gift for yourself! :-)

    So did you partake of Chinese food? We had another rather grueling and definitely disappointing day of house hunting, so we derived both comfort and nutrition from our regular order of Szechuan Tofu and Szechuan Broccoli, mixed together. I'm hoping that will please any dragons who might be watching, so they will aid us in our search for a home. Without burning any down in the process! (Well, we've looked at a few that would be greatly improved with a dragon-powered flame-thrower, frankly!):-)

  6. Rose ~ I agree, awesome synchronicty! I asked BW if it felt scary to him and he said no, before the salamander appeared, it was fun and peaceful, and the salamander was interesting rather than scary.

    I don't know the DragonSong Trilogy. Is it scifi or fantasy? I have two library books in my possession right now, and seem to have trouble finding the time (or the attention span) to make much of a dent in the one I'm reading (about the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911. Did you know the Mona Lisa had been stolen once? I didn't! So as Barbara said....

    "Well go to the foot of our stairs!" LOL That's a new one on me! Now how, pray tell, could a Dragon be unaware that it's her year? LOL about you being the fire-breathing variety and David the wet sort! I too have that dragon/magpie/crow affection for shiny things. In fact, when BW and I took the girls for a walk this morning, I spied a shiny silver chain/necklace thingy tangled high up in a tree branch, and spent quite a bit of time throwing various sticks at it to dislodge it, then tromping through the woods till I found a big tree branch with which to reach and try to grab it or knock it down, all with an equal lack of success. Managing only to tangle it worse, I finally gave up in disgust. At which point BW handed me the leashes and using the branch, along with patience and finesse (and his four extra inches in height), was able to untangle it and get it down. And so the lessons are: use the appropriate tool for the job, and patience and finesse work better than brute force and hurling things.

    Of course, the shiny silver necklace turned out to be a cheap string of plastic letters spelling out "Congrats Grad," so the last lesson is that what you think you want and work hard to get might end up being a piece of cheap, useless crap. Heed these lessons well, my children! LOL

    Totally with you on the rule about children's books being withheld from their target audience until said audience members are well past the dribbling and puking development stages. I'd keep them away during the random crayon scribbling stages too!

    Wasn't that a great dream? He has some good ones, and is much better at remembering his than I am mine!

    We did enjoy our Chinese meal, and I love Indian too but lack Indian restaurants here. Happy Dragon Year to you and the Damply Dripping David Dragon! :-)

  7. Homemade Chinese food. Guilt over just purchased veggies prevailed over desire. Perhaps you can locate a friendly dragon willing to be your realtor.

  8. Melissa would very much appreciate this post and I'll have to send her a link to it! I had forgotten that you had gotten yourself a copy of the dragonology book. I haven't looked at it for a long time and even when she got it, I didn't look at it much because this was a book Melissa liked to enjoy at her own pace!!

    I had not realized that the years of the animal were combined with the nature element - good side post explaining that - thanks. You'd think that adventureJo would be happy with daring and unpredictable as the catch phrases for the year but no so much! :-) I suppose I like to seek adventures rather and have the fall upon me at inopportune times!!

    Very cool story about BW's dream. I'm really glad you shared that.

  9. Andrea ~ Homemade sounds even better, especially if it's from your kitchen. :-)

    Jo ~ I hope Missy enjoys it! I can't believe how long it's been since I got her (and then myself) that book. The time, it flies faster than any dragons!

    I'd known about the five elements being connected with the Zodiacs, but didn't know about the color, and sure didn't know how to keep track of them all! Boy howdy, can I ever relate to what you said about preferring to seek adventures rather than have them pounce on you! Besides, the pouncers often feel more like ordeals than adventures. ;-)

    I know, that was some dream, and to have had it on that night of all nights! As soon as he told me about it, I knew I had to share it in my post!

  10. Perfectly stated - "ordeals rather than adventures"!!!

    I DO NOT want to be OdealJo


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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