Sunday, 26 January 2014

Happy New Year, Again!

"Chinese Year of the Horse, 2014", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Once again I have made a greeting card for my Chinese friends and all those other friends who like to celebrate the Chinese New Year! The picture above is the cover of the card while inside is reads "Happy New Year, 2014".  

While I do not believe in the astrological predictions regarding those born in the Year of the Horse or the predictions about what will occur during this year, I accept that this is part of an ancient Chinese tradition and so I respect it and join with them in their celebrating.

One of the many blurbs about the upcoming Year of the Horse says: "The spirit of the horse is recognized to be the Chinese people's ethos – making unremitting efforts to improve themselves. It is energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able."  In Chinese tradition, Horse year is considered a fortunate year that will bring good things.

The actual day of the new year is January 31, this coming Friday. Since I will not be posting again until February 2, I decided that today had to be the day to wish you all Happy New Year, again!

The most common Chinese ways of saying 
 Happy New Year are Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) 
 and Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese). 
Even though the pronunciations are a little
 different, both are written the same way in Chinese.
Here is a little drawing I did of the traditional Chinese greeting.  Although most people I know in Canada who wish people happy Chinese new year use the Cantonese "Gong Hey Fat Choy", I prefer drawing the Mandarin form -- it just looks a bit more elegant to me.  What can I say!

This year is also known as the Year of the Wooden Horse and many of the drawings and designs you will see for the New Year show a horse that appears to have been carved from wood.  Others, like mine, simply show a regular horse.  I am not sure about the significance of the wooden horse so if anyone out there knows, please tell me in the comments section of the blog.  I would really appreciate it. 



Even though I posted a similar drawing of Campsis grandiflora (Chinese Trumpet Vine) back last July, I felt it was appropriate to post a drawing of this flower again since this is a plant native to China.

Although the two drawings are basically the same, the colours of the flowers and the buds are different -- more red/orange than just orange.  The Chinese Trumpet Vine produces flowers with colours ranging from pale orange to a brilliant "Chinese" red.

"Campsis grandiflora, Chinese Trumpet Vine", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Wikipedia tells us that "The Chinese Trumpet Vine, is a fast growing, deciduous creeper with large, orange/red, trumpet-shaped flowers. It can grow to a height of 9 meters and is native to China, Japan and East Asia. 

To quote another commentator: "When its at its best, the Chinese trumpet vine is a showcase drop-dead, absolutely gorgeous vine. Positioned so the backdrop is a rich green, the plant literally erupts into a carpet of three-inch reddish-orange flowers tinged with yellow and salmon hues. On a post [or trellis], this bright petunia-on-a-stick will shock and awe the most jaded...." [Dr. David Creech, Regents Professor, Professor Emeritus, and Director, SFA]



Photo taken of Suki as she watched carefully 
the play mouse I was dangling above her head!
After taking the photo, I gave her the mouse...
Suki almost immediately pulled off its tail and
ears, leaving her with one more bedraggled toy! 
Well, this week's story about Suki is so intertwined with my story that I simply have to tell the two together!

This past Friday, shortly after noon, I took a pill.  There is nothing very special about that since I take pills every day; however, this pill happened to be a brand new pill that I had never taken previously.  It had been prescribed for me a few days before by one of the specialists I see at St. Michael's Hospital.
Within an hour after taking this pill, I became very sick and remained that way for almost the next 36 hours.

During these 36 hours, I frequently thought I might have to get myself to the emergency department, but I managed, somehow, to get through it on my own.  This might not have been possible had it not been the help of "Nurse" Suki!

From the very first hour of this allergic reaction, Suki stayed close by almost all the time.  Since I was lying down, she often curled up on my stomach. This felt extremely comforting as my stomach was one of those parts of my body that was strongly expressing its dislike of this medication -- Suki was sort of like a large, black, furry heating pad.

Eventually, I would start to get too restless again for Suki to rest comfortably and so she would move to the back of the sofa and sit there watching me -- sleeping with one eye open, so to speak. Whenever I would show signs of settling down again, she would get back on my stomach.  We went through this routine many, many times over as the hours slowly passed.  

Another thing that really amazed me was Suki's apparent willingness to go for much longer periods of time without asking for food!  I really wasn't aware of it at the time since I was feeling so bad, but as I look back now, I can see that she appeared to only ask for food when she got very, very hungry.  I think I became fully aware of her behaviour only this morning.  By then, it was apparent to Suki that I was feeling much better and suddenly, she was back to expecting to be fed at regular and somewhat frequent intervals, as usual!

Looking back, I am really amazed at Suki's behaviour which is actually more often seen in dogs rather than cats.  Whatever was going on in her head that made her behave as she did, I am truly grateful as I was comforted by her presence.  This drug-related reaction is one I will not soon forget and I will make certain that it is listed on my medical chart somewhere:  DO NOT give me this drug!

Even though I am feeling much better today, I am still a bit weaker than usual and the dizziness remains as well, albeit very mildly when compared to the weakness, dizziness, etc. of the past 48 hours.

Prior to taking that pill on Friday, things had been going reasonably well for both Suki and myself.  The days had been filled with the usual activities with my only trip being the visit to the specialist on Wednesday afternoon -- the same specialist who prescribed this awful medication!

This coming week should be very quiet and I am grateful for that as I think it is going to take a while for me to completely recover from this recent experience.  As for Suki, I am sure her days will be filled with eating, playing, grooming and sleeping, sleeping, sleeping! What a life!

As I am still unable to get out to Mass, I watched the Liturgy on EWTN this morning.  I will be so very grateful when I am able to get back to the Cathedral again even if it is only on Sunday. Meanwhile,  I am trying to stay grateful for what I do have:  Mass on TV each day and the Eucharist brought to me each Sunday. Those are, indeed, great blessings.

My thoughts are very much with all those who suffered personal tragedies this past week -- those killed in shootings, in fires and accidents I pray for particularly.  My prayers are also with all of those who will read this posting in the days ahead.  May God bless you each and everyone in exactly the way you need.

Above all, I wish you peace.

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