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Poem: "Happiness and Prosperity" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Happiness and Prosperity"
This poem is spillover from the July 4, 2017 poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from DW users Stardreamer and Helgatwb. It also fills the "Chinese New Year" square in my 7-1-17 card for the Winterfest in July Bingo.  This poem is being sponsored in installments by Stardreamer and Shirley Barrette.  It belongs to the Officer Pink thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Happiness and Prosperity"

February 2015, Chinese New Year



Turq worked hard at weaving himself
back into his family, but sometimes
Ansel could still see the struggle.

During one visit in early February
Dao said, "Would you like to come
celebrate Chinese New Year with us?
We'd love to have you for a visit."

"I'd love to, but ..." Turq's face pinched.
"Me and crowds, a lot of bright lights and
loud noises, maybe not a great idea."

"That's okay, we have a patch
for that," Dao said cheerfully.

"Oh! You still do the headcams?"
Turq said, leaning forward.

"Every year," Dao said.

"Headcams?" Ansel asked.
"I haven't heard this before."

"We try to stay in touch with
our former foster children, and
some of them will probably never
feel comfortable in crowds," Dao said.
"So Mingxia and I wear head cameras
to special occasions so that everyone
can participate from a safe distance."

"Yeah, the first time the family went
to the River City Zoo, I was too scared
and stubborn to go along," said Turq.
"So Dao stayed home with me and we
watched the whole trip on the viewscreen."

"Shall I add you to our broadcast list
for family outings?" Dao asked.

"Yes, please," Turq said. "I'll need
to swing by a craft store to pick up
some Chinese New Year supplies."

"Ask Janie to take you, she knows
where everything is," Ansel suggested.

So later that week, Janie and Turq
went out shopping and came home
with a bag full of paper, stickers,
and metallic red and gold pens.

Turq had started a new scrapbook
to cover his current life. The binder
was blue with a watercolor bird
perched in a tree, and it read
Memories  down the spine.

Ansel felt glad that Turq
was finding ways to organize
his trauma-scattered experiences.

The day before the holiday,
a package arrived from River City.

Turq opened it to find a red sweater
with a black square appliquéd on
the front around a Chinese dragon
picked out in gold and white thread.

Along with that came two red envelopes.

"Two?" Turq said curiously. "Usually
Dao and Mingxia combine theirs."
He flipped over the envelopes.
"Oh! One is from Andeana."

"Your older sister, right?" Ansel said,
looking at the colorful package.

"Yeah," Turq said with a smile.
Then he put everything away.

That reminded Ansel that
he and Janie needed to do
some shopping of their own.

On February 19, they gathered
in the living room of Ansel's home.

Turq wore his new dragon sweater
with a pair of black jeans that he had
acquired from somewhere, while
Ansel and Janie wore red plaid.

Janie unpacked a few festive items.
"We tried not to go hog-wild," she said,
"but we wanted to make this feel like
a special occasion for the family."

Ansel hung paper firecrackers
on either side of the viewscreen.
"We got a packet of real ones, too,
in case you feel like lighting a few,
but they're singles instead of strings."

"Now for the goodies," Janie said,
and gave Turq a handful of coins.
"The solid ones are chocolate.
The ones with a hole in the middle
are brass. Don't mix them up."

Turq giggled as he picked off
the gold foil from a chocolate coin
and ate it. "Thanks," he said.

"Also, don't spoil your supper,
because we bought a Family Feast
from the Buddha's Kitchen," said Janie.

Ansel passed Turq a red envelope.
"I know we're not married, but Janie
and I wanted to share this too."

"Aww," Turq said, hugging them both.
Gōngxǐ fācái. Happiness and prosperity."

"It's almost time for the parade,"
Ansel said. "Let's see whether
your family is broadcasting yet."
He checked, but they weren't.

Turq set out his scrapbooking supplies
on the rug. He had one page that read,
Happy Chinese New Year 2015  with
a ram's head in the center, other pages
in plain red, and two packets of stickers.

"The rule is, I can use any of the stickers
that show things I see in the video," he said.
"It's kind of like playing bingo. It helps me
to remember what I did for this holiday."

Ansel recalled that Turq had trouble
remembering things from his childhood.
"That sounds like a good idea," he said.

"You already got red envelopes and coins,"
Janie said, pointing to those stickers.

"Yeah, and a dragon on my shirt,"
Turq said as he peeled them off
the backing paper and stuck them
onto a scrapbook page. He titled
each sticker in gold ink. "I can
journal around these afterward."

"Just stickers and writing?"
Janie asked, watching him work.

"Hopefully I can add photos later,
if anyone takes snapshots," Turq said.

Ansel got up and fetched his camera,
then balanced it on the viewscreen
and set the timer. "Come here, and
we'll get a picture of all three of us
to send to your family," he said.

They squeezed together
just as the flash went off.

Ansel was sending that when
the alert sounded for the parade,
and then the viewscreen came on.
There were actually three channels
to choose from, he realized, or they
could split the screen, which they did.

"It looks like Andeana is
wearing a headcam too," he said.

"Yay," Turq said softly as he
watched his family fill the screen.

Dao and Mingxia looked happy.
Andeana had a Street Nurse armband
showing that she was on first aid duty.

Mingxia had Zaire on her back
in a toddler sling, because he was
much better at getting into small spaces
than getting back out of them again.

His dark fingers sometimes covered
the camera, while his brother Zachariah
clung to the side of Mingxia's skirt.

The two "homemade" kids,
Baozhai and Chung, stuck
close to their father.

Gwenllian, who was older,
drifted along beside them,
her fair coloring a stark contrast
to the gaggle of darker children.

Zaire squealed with toddler glee
and pointed. The view tilted up
as Mingxia followed his finger.

"Chinese lanterns," Turq said,
and added that sticker to his page.

A pop-up window at the bottom
of the viewscreen announced that
snapshots were in the family folder.

"Shall I start those printing?" Ansel said.

"Yes, please," Turq replied. "I got
some photo corners earlier." He
shuffled through his supplies,
revealing a package of them.

Ansel sent the command to
the printer in his office downstairs.

Turq peeled another coin and ate it,
then spit out a piece of foil that
he had missed because all of
his attention was on the screen.

"What's the fish for?" Janie asked,
pointing to a colorful paper construct
that flapped in the brisk winter wind.

"Lucky carp," Turq said. "I think
I have a sticker of it somewhere, thanks."
He found one and moved it into place.

Ansel got up and went downstairs
to retrieve the pictures. By then,
more image files had arrived, so
he took the first batch of photos
and set the others to print.

He went back upstairs and said,
"Get started with these. There are
more printing as we speak."

"Wonderful, thanks," said Turq
as he took the stack of pictures.

Mostly they showed the kids,
but there were several of the adults,
some long views of the street, and
close-ups of the holiday decorations.

* * *

Notes:

Andeana Juarez -- She has tinted skin and black eyes.  Her black hair looks almost straight when long, because the weight stretches out the waves; but when short it curls more.  Separated from a neglectful birth family, Andeana grew up  in foster care.  She was around 16 years old when she lived with the Liáng family and is now 23.  She developed a patchy understanding of Spanish because some foster families used it as a home language and others did not.  That frustrated her, so she took Spanish classes in high school and college.  The education helped, but Andeana still feels conflicted about culture.  She's perfectly comfortable with her modest grasp of Chinese culture, though, something she has maintained since her time with the Liáng family.  After she turned 18, Andeana began searching for the Liángs and found them during her undergraduate studies.  She didn't want to transfer then, but did move back to River City for graduate work.  They have backdated her adoption to her time with them.
 Andeana's specialty is medical education, identifying best practices and teaching those to patients and providers.  Her particular interests involve lowering barriers for poor, ethnic, and otherwise disadvantaged populations so as to improve their access to health care.  So far she has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Southeast Missouri State University at Cape Girardeau, Missouri with a minor in Family Dynamics; Trauma Studies Certificate from University of Missouri St. Louis; and Master of Science in Nurse Educator from University of Missouri St. Louis with a minor in Hispanic Studies. After completing her BSN, Andeana took a summer intensive, earned her TSC, and then started her MSN in fall.  She is currently working on a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing with a minor in Photographic Studies from University of Missouri St. Louis.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Hispanic Studies, Expert (+4) Nurse Educator, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Family Dynamics, Good (+2) Sensitivity, Good (+2) Trauma-Informed Care
Poor (-2) Still Struggling with Cultural Identity

Gwenllian Ellis Liáng -- She has fair skin, blue eyes, and long wavy blonde hair.  She used to live by the ocean, and then her parents moved to River City, where they lived on the riverbank.  After they died in a boating accident, Gwenllian was passed around through several foster families before reaching the Liángs, who adopted her.  She is 11 years old when Turq rejoins the family.  Making things from beach glass, driftwood, seashells, and other flotsam helps her remember her first family.  Her favorite color is pink.  She is adamant that her name is Gwenllian -- not Gwen, Gwennie, Guinevere, or anything else.
Qualities: Good (+2) Beach Crafts, Good (+2) Girl Stuff, Good (+2) Graceful
Poor (-2) My Name Is Gwenllian

Baozhai Liáng -- She has golden skin, almond-shaped brown eyes, and straight brown hair to her shoulders.  She is the daughter of Dao and Mingxia Liáng, younger sister of Andeana Juarez, Gwenllian Ellis Liáng, older sister of Chung Liáng, and older foster sister of Zachariah and Zaire Ross.  She is 7 years old when Turq rejoins the family.  Her favorite color is blue.  Active and curious, Baozhai does well with large-body movements but less so with manual dexterity; she doesn't really have the patience or finesse for writing yet.
Qualities: Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence, Good (+2) Playful
Poor (-2) Penmanship

Chung Liáng -- He has golden skin, almond-shaped brown eyes, and straight brown hair buzzed short.  He is the son of Dao and Mingxia Liáng, younger brother of Andeana Juarez, Gwenllian Ellis Liáng, Baozhai Liáng, and older foster brother of Zachariah and Zaire Ross.  He is 5 years old when Turq rejoins the family.  Chung enjoys reading and learning things.  He has good balance on the playground, but can't move quickly.
Qualities: Good (+2) Balance, Good (+2) Studious
Poor (-2) Speed

Zaire Ross -- He has toffee skin, brown eyes, and short nappy brown hair shaved into a crest.  He is the foster son of Dao and Mingxia Liáng, younger foster brother of Andeana Juarez, Gwenllian Ellis Liáng, Baozhai Liáng, Chung Liáng, and younger brother of Zaire Ross.  He is 2 years old when Turq rejoins the family.  Zaire is great at getting into small spaces, but terrible at getting back out again, so for this reason Mingxia often keeps him in a toddler sling.  He loves being worn because it gives him a higher vantage point.
Qualities: Good (+2) Observant, Good (+2) Wriggling into Small Spaces
Poor (-2) Getting Back Out of Small Spaces

Zachariah Ross -- He has toffee skin, brown eyes, and short nappy brown hair shaved into a crest with designs along the sides of his head.  He is the foster son of Dao and Mingxia Liáng, younger foster brother of Andeana Juarez, Gwenllian Ellis Liáng, Baozhai Liáng, Chung Liáng, and older brother of Zaire Ross.  He is 3 years old when Turq rejoins the family.  Zachariah is protective of his little brother and always watches out for him.
Qualities: Good (+2) Energetic, Good (+2) Protective
Poor (-2) Sitting Still

* * *

恭喜发财 Gōngxǐ fācái
Happiness and prosperity (use this when receiving gifts or lucky money)
-- Chinese New Year Greetings

This is the home of Officer Pink (Ansel Nicholson) which used to be part of a resort alongside a lake.  When the resort closed, the rental cabins were parceled into individual lots and sold, while some of the resort's main facilities -- such as the lodge and the main boating dock -- were set aside as neighborhood resources.  See the exterior, lower level floor plan, and main level floor plan.  The living room looks something like this.

Chinese New Year is a holiday which follows the Chinese calendar.  In 2015, it began on February 19.

This is Turq's new Memories book.
 
Memory and trauma have complex connections.  Trauma can affect how memories are formed or recalled, and may cause fragmented and incomplete memories.  It may also impair the ability to form new memories.  Some of the effects are discernible as physical brain damage.

See Turq's Chinese dragon sweater.
 
Turq has collected some craft materials for this holiday including a scrapbook holiday page, red and gold stickers, red and gray stickers, and gold photo corners.  He also has some plain red scrapbook paper.

Chinese Red Envelope
One tradition for Chinese New Year is that married couples (preferably) and single adults (acceptably) give money in red envelopes to younger family members.  Employers may also do this for their employees.  Traditionally these are filled with new bills in even numbers, and are not to be opened immediately.  Terramagne-America often uses cash cards.  Because everything for New Year is supposed to be new, those made for this occasion usually have the year and/or Chinese symbols, and unlike most cash cards they cannot be refilled.  People often keep them as souvenirs.

Sweets are traditional during Chinese New Year, including chocolate coins covered in gold foil.  Note that these are NOT Chanukkah gelt or other coins.  They should have some kind of Chinese imagery on them.  This batch has a dragon on one side and a good fortune symbol on the other.  Sometimes people put these in a red envelope or pouch, but other times just give them out by the handful so kids have something to enjoy immediately.

Ancient Chinese coins often have a square hole in the center, allowing them to be strung on a cord.  Everything for the New Year is supposed to be new, so replica coins are often preferred.  Janie presents these in an auspicious set of 8.  You can tell that the linked package is American, because 4 is inauspicious.


[To be continued ...]

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5 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
je_reviens From: je_reviens Date: August 26th, 2017 11:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I really liked this bc... SCRAPBOOKING!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 26th, 2017 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

That's one way that Turq deals with his traumatic past. I detailed his memory book and his trauma scrapbook in a different poem.
From: technoshaman.dreamwidth.org Date: September 1st, 2017 04:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Zaire's hair is almost what you'd call a high-top fade.. although most fades have a flatter top than that. "Cameo", maybe?

(Just me, but not much for hanging the hardware on the tykes. Even if it's cheap costume, it'll get tangled in stuff and possibly poke somebody... not your choice, I realise, just commenting.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 1st, 2017 04:54 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> Zaire's hair is almost what you'd call a high-top fade.. although most fades have a flatter top than that. "Cameo", maybe? <<

I'm not familiar enough with the styles to be sure.

>> (Just me, but not much for hanging the hardware on the tykes. Even if it's cheap costume, it'll get tangled in stuff and possibly poke somebody... not your choice, I realise, just commenting.) <<

As a general rule, that works. But some kids need fidgets. If the parent doesn't know that things like this exist, they'll use whatever they can find. Notice that the pendants are way too big to swallow.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 1st, 2017 04:27 am (UTC) (Link)
This one made me cry a lot. I've been too sick to go to family things for many years but nobody would ever think to do something like that for me ...
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