"Paul is sending us some stone lions from China" my husband said to me one day.
"Um, what kind of stone lions?" I asked, "and why is he sending them to us?"
"I'm not sure, but his neighbour gave them to Paul, and he can't keep them"
"I think they're too big"
"Oh, that's very ....generous.... of him".
Paul , a friend of my husband, lives in Shanghai. My husband often spends time with him on visits to China for business.
This matter of the 'stone lions' was causing me a little worry, though. You see, whenever my husband travels, he often brings me gifts. 'How wonderful' you're thinking, 'how sweet of him'
.....yes, it's very sweet and he has given me some really pretty and thoughtful gifts over the years. The latest gift he had brought me from China, though, caused me some bewilderment. I think I'd better show you:
It actually doesn't look too bad on the photo, but it's quite something in real life. This particular colour of red is so bold and tomatoey it practically punches you in the nose. GOLD plays a large part in the embroidery. It isn't silk, unless it's a new kind featuring poly and ester.
And did you notice the slit on the side, it's about 5 miles long. Right now you're probably thinking I'm ungrateful (and maybe I am) but images of giant cement lions painted in garish greens and golds were swimming before my eyes, and where, where, where could I put them, after all, Paul was due for a visit that very summer, and he would expect to see them front and centre.
Two very large crates soon arrived , and I looked on worriedly as my husband pried one open. This (long-winded) tale ends happily, since the stone lions turned out to be granite, hand-carved Foo dogs, which now reside happily on either side of my front porch (which desperately needs sweeping).
Also on the plus side, we were able to figure out how ancient egyptians transported thousand-pound stones used to build the pyramids (they rolled them on logs or pipe-like structures). For more info on Foo dogs (or lions) go here.