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The Name Game


Speaking of winter storms….  This whole naming thing apparently started with the Weather Channel and a Latin class somewhere.  This was apparently so that the on-screen prognosticators could get us all to focus on a particular weather event at a particular time and to nudge us toward acknowledging the fact that all of this weather stuff is related rather than a “nor’ easter” in one place and a “toad strangler” in another and a “gully washer” someplace else all being separate phenomena.

So this season (2015-2016) started out with Ajax, Echo and Delphi, proceeded through Goliath and Jonas, kind of gave short shrift to Lexi and Mars, and now we’ve experienced Olympia (Not all weather systems get star billing on the evening news, just the mean ones, for instance, ones that cause 50-car pile-ups on the interstates.).  The season for naming these events runs from December to February.  Predictions were for our area to have above-average temperatures from December to January—check—with below–average precipitation—check.  Now here we are in February and it’s a whole ‘nother story.  Olympia was one tough chick.  The Old Farmer has been confounded by the whole El Nino thing and its effect on predictions but he’s called for at least one more February snowstorm, interspersed with rainy periods and a cold, cold March on the horizon.  The  weather doggerel next to the information says, “Appalling!  Do I hear Key West calling?”  Don’t we all?

So, with all of this cloudiness going on, I’m missing some sort of an astronomical big event where a bunch of planets—Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, I think,  with a late appearance by Mercury—are supposed to be making guest appearances all together in the same early  morning sky.  So, I’m up at the proper time all right, but can’t see anything in the eastern sky because of the cirro-stratus or alto stratus or whatever kind of clouds they are.  Whatever…it’s not going to b e repeated until 2037 or something.  I’ll look for it then.  Probably at a Star Party…where I won’t be the star.

The full moon was  on February 22.  The Native Americans referred to it as the Full Snow Moon…or the Full Hunger Moon.  You don’t get a choice.  It is what it is.

As is the Chinese New Year.  We missed celebrating that too.  It’s based on the arrival of the full moon, which took place on February 8.  It’s the year of the Fire Ho’u, the Fire Monkey, fire being the third of ten celestial stems and the monkey is the ninth of twelve terrestrial branches.  Got that?  We can look forward to the rooster and the dog in the coming two years before the cycle starts again with the pig—now there’s a year to aspire to—and goes on through rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, and sheep.  The whole system repeats names after 60 years, with the stem/branch cycle furnishing twelve of the names.  The multiplier here is the list of five “terrestrial” elements –fire, wood, metal, water, earth (12×5=60).  (There will be a quiz next week; study hard) We won’t even go into Yang and Yin (That’s the advanced course.).

Anyway, people born in a particular year are supposed to have characteristic of the animal associated with the year : monkeys are clever, active, mischievous, creative, etc., etc.(Not to mention arrogant and impatient).  One wonders what folks born in the year of the snake or the rat have to recommend them but I’m sure there are some good qualities in there somewhere.  Lucky colors are white, blue, gold—avoid red & black.  Lucky numbers are 1,8, 7—avoid 9,2,5.  Pay attention Lottery players!

There is a Chinese saying that goes, “The further up a tree a Monkey goes, the more you can see of his bottom.”  Let that be a lesson to you.

There are even monkey jokes.  Here’s one : Where should a monkey go if he loses his caudal appendage?   To a retailer.  Here’s another :  What do you call a 600pound gorilla (I know, I know, a gorilla’s an ape, not a monkey.  Just roll   with it, O.K.?)?  You call a 600# gorilla “Sir.”  Last one—with a moral : A young pet monkey had an accident, was gravely injured and required a brain transplant.  The veterinarian told the monkey’s human family, “Brains are very expensive and you will have to pay the cost yourselves.”  The family asked, “How much would a brain cost?”The veterinarian replied, “For a male brain, $500,000.  For a female brain, $200,000.”  All of the male members of the family nodded that they understood, but the mother was unsatisfied and asked, “What is the reason for the difference in cost between the male brain and the female brain?” “Standard pricing practice,” the vet answered.  “The female brains have to be marked down because they’ve actually been used.” Badda-boom!

Being born in the year of the horse, myself, I shudder to think what the applicable jokes might be.

And, speaking of horses (What a segue, right?)some amazing, fanciful, wood-carved visions of horses and other creatures are on display at J. Leonard Gallery & Vintage Emporium, which was open the other day at the same time as the Monica Potter Home Store—and beyond, of course.  That’s in addition to the Griffin, the Kelpie Coffee Table, the Otter Coffee Table and the Winged Lion.  One interesting feature on the wall was the information that to carve your own you might want to order carousel horse eyes from Van Dykes Supply, Woonsocket, SD (1-800-843-3320).  Ask for Carousel Horse Eyes #1ch, no veining.  Just thought you’d want to know.  Anyway, if you stop in to JLG&VE you might be able to chat with Dave Beten, wood carver,  who did time in James A. Garfield H.S. as an assistant principal some years in the distant past and now spends part of his golden years creating pieces/parts instead of pupils.  You could also look over more offerings by local artists like Frost Glass or Shea Clay Pottery or any number of others, in wood or other mediums.  Or get yourself a brand-new Wizardry Wand or some great nature pix.  Check it out.

And that’s about enough of that!