2015 – Year of the Goat

Year of the Goat

Fei Chen, the author of this post has been a guest here a few times. If you enjoy reading this, you may like her other posts: Why You Should Celebrate Your Life and In Memory of a Neighbor.

Goat, sheep, lamb—domestic livestock. They’ve provided us with food, clothing, symbolism, and even memories for centuries.

 Food and Religious Offerings:

My earliest memory of a goat came from my grand-mother who was the matriarch of the Chen family. Small in stature but big in ideologies, she believed in building a successful business and keeping her family comfortable. My grandmother owned a leather-tanning business that employed local natives. These spiritual locals believed in offering live goats as sacrifices (Puja) to please God in return for His blessing to all humankind.  Every year my grandmother obliged her employees with a live goat. They also got a day off to perform their ritual—a gesture that made everyone happy as it also provided meat for a tasty curry.  This is something that I value most about communal living.

 Memories with My Children:

Ba Ba black sheep—life was a merry-go-round when I was raising my two kids. I learned with them, ate with them, and sang nursery rhymes with them. We learned how to count, do arithmetic, and memorize our times tables the old-fashioned way.  My children—full of fun—filled me with joy as they still do to this day.

 Passengers in Noah’s Ark:

The Book of Genesis says that Noah’s Ark drifted in the Flood when God sent heavy rainfall for forty days and forty nights. On board this vessel were pairs of every animal. So of course, goats would have been among the chosen ones—living undisturbed and happily in the Ark. Though there is no physical proof of Noah’s Ark, the story prevails. It continues to flourish and to entertain our imagination of a legendary Ark atop Mount Ararat in Lebanon.

 2015 Lunar Year of the Goat:

February 19, 2015 is our Lunar New Year and millions of people around the globe will be celebrating the New Year on that New-Moon day.  The traditions, beliefs, and culture pass on from generation to generation reminding us of who we are and where we come from.

Happy New Year! 恭喜癹財!

A Glance At My Rear-view Mirror

Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

Chinese New Year’s Day came and went not without fanfare. In this part of the world, across the globe from China, we don’t have to look too far to find celebrations. Even our local YMCA hosted an event-packed day to welcome the year of the horse. For me, it never fails to put me into an introspective mood. I get to look back on the year twice; yes, I do that on December 31st and then again on Lunar New Year’s Eve. The advantage or disadvantage of celebrating two New Year’s days, I guess.

So, as I gaze into my rear-view mirror, I see a trail of activities that kept me busy and engaged during my leisure time. Here are three of them at the top of my viewpoint, not necessarily in order of preference: cycling, traveling, and writing.

Cycling The outdoor kind won hands down. Spring brought great hopes for bicycle adventures; we were going to be initiated as cyclists—keep in mind that I’ve been riding (spinning) indoors for many years. Naively, I thought my mountain bike would do the job. After just one ride, I headed to the shop and bought my first hybrid. Now I was ready; that’s what I thought. Then I signed up for an eighty-kilometre ride. During the practice session, one of the marshals had to push me up a steep hill—ooh, the embarrassment still makes me warm and tingly, and not in a comfortable way. I realized that if I wanted to ride with the big boys and girls, I needed the right equipment. So now a brand new road bike graces my basement waiting for the new riding season.

Traveling Lately we’ve been doing two distant trips a year with little drive-able ones during the long weekends. This past year, we flew for three of our vacations: one week in Puerto Rico, two weeks on a Baltic cruise, and one week in Arizona. In between, we spent a few days in Mont Tremblant during mid-summer, riding the trails there. Puerto Rico was a nice mid-winter break in the sun. Arizona and the Grand Canyon were memorable, but our Baltic cruise was the granddaddy of all the trips for the year. The highlight was our two-day tour of St. Petersburg in Russia. Who knows when, if ever, we will return to that part of the world again.

Writing This was the year I proudly announced to the world that I’d completed my first novel. The feeling of accomplishment still leaves a warm glow whenever I think about it. Picture Bride is about to debut during this upcoming spring. I believe that I got a boost in my writing when I attended the Writers Digest Conference in NYC back in April 2013. The book took two years to write, and when I met other people on the same path, along with established writers who seemed willing to put out or help out, it gave me a much-needed shot in the arm to sprint to the finish line. I approved my manuscript and book cover just over a week ago, and now I wait. Due process must be observed.

Yes, it was a busy year filled with activities. With February already in progress, I’m predicting a year packed with new undertakings as my book launches and I begin to write another one. My new bike is waiting for its maiden ride; while a cruise and a road trip are already in the cards.

Happy New Year to all.