February Frenzy 2022

February is a short, yet busy month calendar-wise. Today is the Chinese New Year and the beginning of Spring in China. First, see creative writing buddy Harvey Davis’ poem on this topic, reprinted with his permission, below:

The Year of the Tiger on the Chinese calendar is a very important date.
In various countries it’s called Lunar New Year; for it you don’t want to be late.
In countries like China, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, and many more
Everyone looks forward to the 15-day highlight of the year you cannot ignore.
This new year’s celebration is also known in other places as the spring festival,And to those who celebrate the day it could be considered mystical.
It is a public holiday in countless countries and in large Chinese communities.
You can honestly say it brings to the Asian people a great sense of unity.
In some countries the festivities for the new year might have a special name.
“Tet” is the name for the Vietnamese celebration, but in truth it is the same.
The festivities include honoring ancestors and there are traditional ceremonies
When people get together to welcome the new year looking for prosperity.
You may be more familiar with Dragon dances but there are also lesser-known activities.
Have you ever heard of lion dances? For some countries it is their proclivity.
But for all involved in celebrating the new year they look for wealth,
Good fortune, prosperity, and happiness, but most of all for good health.
The Chinese calendar is about one month behind our Gregorian one.
It has between 30 and 50 more days per year — figuring that out is fun.
The Chinese zodiac calendar has a cycle of 12 years following the moon phases.
If you notice each year a Chinese zodiac animal is a symbol it embraces.
The 12 Chinese zodiac animals are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, and snake.
Horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig — knowing them, icing on the cake.
Now we come to the most important part: typical Chinese new year’s food, served.
Fish the symbol of good luck, wealth and a healthy life, everyone deserves.
Dumplings are traditionally eaten and always enjoyed during that season.
Little round rice flour balls are filled with lucky food, sweets for good reason.
Good luck for the new year is the theme for numerous things done in word and form.
There are many symbols and traditions that you should know to escape scorn.
A word of advice: make sure your plate is never empty – so your luck will not run out!
Do not use a knife or fire for cooking on New Year’s Day — that year you’ll pout.
And now I give to you my Lunar New Year’s wish: happiness, wealth, and prosperity.
I want you to know it’s from the bottom of my heart and given with all sincerity.

Next, February is Heart Healthy Month, which (for me) includes Valentine’s Day, because love is about the heart, as well as loving yourself enough to eat a heart-healthy diet. This is a great segue to the book I will be reviewing: The Truly Easy Heart-Healthy Cookbook by Michelle Routhenstein, who just happens to be my neighbor and friend’s daughter-in-law. I tried two of the recipes and liked both, so I will be posting the review and recipes soon.

Additionally, February is also  Black History Month and I will be featuring Rosa Parks, the woman who started a bus boycott by sitting in the front of the bus, instead of in the back of the bus and became an activist in the Civil Rights Movement.

Also, I will continue to post petitions and info on other environmental issues, like “Fast Fashion” clothes (inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends) piling up in a desert and no place to go. I hope to squeeze in a couple of heart-healthy winter recipes.

Finally, I will be posting my in-person  interview with Dr. Margaux Hein, a marine biologist who just happens to live below my daughter and daughter-in-law ten minutes from here. She and her fiance, Tory Chase, are involved with the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the collapse of the coral reef there.

Margaux Hein & Tory Chase

February is teeming with topics and hoping you will follow my weekly and sometimes bi-weekly postings.


Stay Safe, Stay Warm, Stay Tuned!

The Coronavirus and Me By Helen Luu

Helen Luu and I are in a creative writing class. Since she is Chinese-American, I thought her “take” on the virus might be interesting. Her bio is at the end of her essay.es    


Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rat, fell on January 25, 2020. To prepare for the New Year celebration, overseas Chinese people in the United States had to book their flights months in advance to go home to be with their families.  Thus, they were able to have a New Year’s Eve dinner with their families, which was as important to non-Chinese Americans as Thanksgiving dinner.

Everyone in the household was busy performing his or her duty to prepare for the New Year festivities. The seniors were preparing the red bags (lucky bag with cash) for children; the housewives were preparing foods to reflect and welcome the Year of the Rat; husbands were doing house cleaning and might replace something old or do some painting as necessary; and children were stocking firecrackers. Everyone was expecting the coming celebration with joy.

Suddenly the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Wu Han, China, came to replace happiness with  sadness in mid-December 2019.  People were worried because there were no medicines or vaccine to prevent it. Moreover, many people were losing their loved ones.

Shortly after the outbreak, the medical authority announced the virus is transferrable from human-to-human and had become a pandemic . The Chinese government closed down all New Year celebrations and shut down the whole country. People were requested to wear masks when they went out food shopping. Then, a few days later, everyone was asked to self-quarantine at home. No one was allowed to go out. Overnight the city became a ghost town and it felt like the end of the world.

The WHO (World Health Organization) declared the virus as Covid-19. It is a new and incurable virus at the present time. The USA government started to evacuated the embassy — staff and their family members. At the same time we saw the number of deaths continue to climb.  Fortunately, the virus was under control by mid-March. Now people started to come out slowly, still wearing masks as a precaution.

While Covid-19 is now under control in China, in the USA (particularly New York City), in Italy, Spain, France,  and England, within one month, it has created turmoil. Sadly, none of these countries has learned the lessons from China.

In early March Trump still said we were well prepared and all would be fine. Trump was unable to foresee the risk of Covid-19. He was unprepared for the disaster. Not only that, he even called it is a Chinese virus. He put Asians at risk, since he repeatedly called it the Chinese virus; he brought up racism and hate in the world community. Many Asians were brutally beaten for no reason. I am very angry and disappointed by Trump’s leadership. Trump did not stop calling this virus the Chinese virus until Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO, made a comment.

How well are we now? We do not have enough medical workers, medical supplies, hospital beds and many doctors, nurses, policemen, veterans became infected while they were helping others. I was upset to see on TV people unload the bodies into plastic bags to refrigerated trucks.

However, the Covid-19 has shown some powerful moral principles and cohesion in the community. With the short supply of medical providers, many retired doctors, nurses, EMTs, etc. from the whole country responded to the calls for help. State Boards reinstated their licenses in no time to enable them to practice; JetBlue provided free transportation for them; some people donated home-made masks from fabric or 3D computers.

Scarcity of masks is a major problem. The Asian communities have tried their best to show their devotion. For example, the Asian community in Chinatown in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had raised money to buy 27,000 masks and donate them to several local hospitals. And the Asian community continues to raise money for masks for hospitals.

How has the Covid-19 changed my behavior?

In the end of February, seeing the virus spike in every country, I canceled my trip to Mexico, planned from March 12-20. I am practicing self-quarantine; I stopped going to social gatherings; I have learned to wash my hands thoroughly with soap; I stopped wiping my eyes with my hand,  which I always did and had previously caused infection;  I sneeze on my elbow when I am unable to get a tissue; I drink enough water to keep my body hydrated; I try to get enough sleep; and I exercise every day at least for 30 minutes.  Of course, I cook some meals with my canned food which I have never used before, when I run out of fresh food.

On March 30th, 2020, we were asked to stay home until April 30. Being at home 24 hours every day for one whole month, we do need to do something to ease ourselves mentally and physically. In the morning I practice my piano lessons; I read my books and walk my treadmill in the afternoon; at night I watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. Once in a while I call and check on my children and siblings. Meanwhile, my husband enjoys his Vietnamese Opera on YouTube. He also spends time on the treadmill in the morning.

However, I hope a new Covid-19 test kit and a new medicine remedy go into effect soon and normalcy will return in a short time.

Hopefully peace and health to us and the whole world is coming soon. God Bless America and the whole world !!!!!

Bio: Helen Luu came to the USA in 1976. She was born in Vietnam but is actually Chinese. After several jobs in the USA, she earned a B.S. and LMSW (Master’s Degree) in social work and started an Asian mental health program at Hall Mercer Community Health Center, part of Penn Medicine, where she worked for 30 years. (She speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and English, using her Asian languages in her job.) She was a mental health clinician, wearing several different hats., with the title of case manager. Helen retired in 2018. She is married and has two grown sons.

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