Archive for the ‘Travels with The Sage’ Category

CSW 2014 Special Spotlight: Crystal of Dirty Water Soapworks

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

cswSometimes it is hard to describe something with words and give it justice. I’m going to attempt to do just that by telling you about one of the people who helped us while at the Central Soapers Workshop. Let me tell you all about Crystal Decker from Dirty Water Soap Works!

Tina, Taylor and I had the chance to attend the Central Soapers Workshop back in March. Although it has been some time since I’ve last attended a conference, this was the best conference I’ve attended in quite a while! The Central Soapers Workshop is also a unique event, for it has the Soap Lab where techniques are demonstrated and every attendee has the chance to try making a batch or two of soap with new ingredients or recently learned techniques.

Crystal and her fantastic tutu!

Crystal and her fantastic tutu!

This year, we sponsored the Soap Lab and Crystal was the Soap Lab coordinator. Every time we had questions about setup, equipment availability, and ingredients needed for demonstrations, Crystal found the answers. Often we found ourselves asking where she had her magic wand stored because she made the difficult and impossible happen. From the moment we met at the airport our weekend was filled with stories, crazy amounts of giggles, and lots of brainstorming for next year. Crystal was extremely instrumental in making sure the Soap Lab had everything it needed, gauging how much time was left in the pen Soap Lab and when things needed to be prepared for the next demonstration.

Crystal’s help in the Soap Lab was more than coordinating and organizing. She helped various attendees with their batches of soap and even helped with some troubleshooting! There were a few times that I overheard people asking Crystal how long she had worked with us at Majestic Mountain Sage. I’ll have to admit that we are honored to have people ask Crystal this question because she is an awesome person and very helpful to many people, not just us! If you need any proof, her products are a great start!

Baby Buttermilk Soap in a gift set.

Baby Buttermilk Soap in a gift set.

Last year we had a friend who went on a spiritual retreat to India. The goal of this retreat was to help the soul heal from the chaos and stresses in life. As our friend prepared to go on his trip, we reached out to Crystal and got some of her Baby Buttermilk soap to send with him. We told him that this soap was to help wash away the stresses of life and cleanse not only his body, but his soul. When he got back from the retreat, he had a bounce in his step that hadn’t been there before he left. He told us that the very light scent (from an unscented soap) gave him the ability to sit in the shower and let the stress wash away every day. Crystal’s soap not only gave him the ability to become physically clean, but at the same time cleansed his soul. If you ever get the chance to try any of Crystal’s products, I would recommend jumping at the chance!

Crystal has been helpful not only with the Central Soapers Workshop, but also on our Forum. She regularly participates in swaps, asks questions as well as helping us answer questions from other forum participants. I find myself challenged by Crystal to learn new things and never stop asking “Why?”

Crystal, thank you for all your help! We can’t tell you how much it has made our lives easier!

Andee

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The Lantern Festival

Friday, February 14th, 2014
Today is the Lantern Festival, the last day of the Chinese New Year. On this day you can see lanterns of all shapes, sizes and colors. You can even light a flying lantern and send it up into the night sky. I love this festival because the sky is full of lights which drift slowly through the air. I love to watch the river of lights high above me, slowly flowing around all of those impressive skyscrapers. It is an impressive and peaceful sight. 

 

During the Lantern Festival people also eat a special dessert, a sweet soup that has small, colorful balls. The balls are made of glutinous rice flour and have a variety of delicious fillings. These are eaten because their name sounds similar to reunion and the Chinese consider family and friends to be very important.

Today is also the last day for you to submit any products inspired by the Chinese New Year. Hurry! All participants will get a chance to receive a goodie box from the Blog Kitchen. Thanks for participating!
Taylor

Sending Off Lanterns for the Lantern Festival

Sending Off Lanterns for the Lantern Festival

Fireworks behind a display of various lanterns

Fireworks behind a display of various lanterns

Sweet Glutinous Rice Ball Soup

Sweet Glutinous Rice Ball Soup

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Happy Chinese New Year!

Friday, January 31st, 2014
I am thrilled to wish everyone a Happy Chinese New Year! Today is the start of a 15 day long celebration here in China. Isn’t that amazing? The Chinese New Year is a collection of several daily celebrations that accumulate into what we know as the Chinese New Year. Now before you ask,  people rarely get all 15 days off of work but they do get some of the bigger celebration days off. Most of the time people get the first seven days off. Today will be a day filled of jovial street dances, wonderful performances and knee-slapping theater.

 

This year is the Year of the Horse. Were any of you born in the Year of the Horse? If you were born in the Year of the Horse this next year is said to bring fortune and auspicious changes to your career. For those who were not born in the Year of the Horse, not to worry, this is a good year for prosperity as well as great travel experiences.

In the evening, we enjoy a feast, special desserts and fireworks! I am so excited! The fireworks in China are so incredibly loud. It is so fun! What will you do for the Chinese New Year? Does this festival inspire any products or colors? I want to know!

During the next 15 days, we will accept submissions of products inspired by the Chinese New Year. All submissions will be displayed on our blog and each submitter has a chance at a special goodie box from the Blog Kitchen. Good luck!

Taylor

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

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Stone Soup

Thursday, October 17th, 2013
The weather has started to cool and some days can be quiet brisk. To me this signifies the start of cold weather foods. One in particular being soup. Today, we will be having Stone Soup at MMS. Have you ever heard the story? If you haven’t, allow me to share with you. 

Once upon a time, there was a small village in a war torn land. In recent years, their crops had been poor and small. The villagers toiled to insure some sort of harvest. What hadn’t been destroyed by weather or insects, was taken to feed the armies. The war had ended and their crops had been bountiful.

One day a man, a wounded soldier with a large pack on his back, was seen walking up the road. The villagers seized with fear, started running about hiding their stores of food leaving only a rotting onion or a withered carrot in their cupboards. They closed their shutters and doors and watched the stranger approach though the cracks.

When the soldier finally arrived in the village, he knocked at the first door. A wizened old woman opened the door a crack and peered at him. “Excuse me ma’am, might you have something to eat?” “I do not!” She said harshly. “In fact, my cupboard is empty and my stomach pains me with its great hunger.” “I see. Thank you very much then,” said the soldier and he tipped his hat and made his way to the second house.

At the second house, he knocked at the door. The door was opened by an old man, his knees swollen with arthritis. “Excuse me sir, might I trouble you for something to eat?” the solider asked. “You may not!” the old man said darkly. “I haven’t even a bone fit for a dog!” “Very well,” the soldier said. The words of thank you had not yet formed on his lips when the door was slammed in his face.

The soldier sighed and made his way to the next house. Round the village he went, finding cruel responses and slammed doors. The weary soldier made his way back to the village square where he set down his pack and began to collect wood for a fire. He started the fire and warmed his hands then turned to his large pack.

His pack was made from a well worn but sturdy blanket. He untied the ends and removed the blanket from its burden. A large black pot was revealed. The soldier limped to the village well for water. Using the well bucket, he filled his pot with water and then placed it over the fire.

Then he made a slow circuit of the square,  picking of stones. He would heft them in his hand and examine each very closely until he was finally satisfied with one stone. It was large, heavy and very smooth. The soldier walked back to his pot and dropped the stone in. Then he sat down and began to wait.

The villagers, hiding behind their doors and shutters were bursting with curiosity. What was the soldier doing? One small, brave, little boy slipped out of his house and went up to the soldier. “What are you doing?” he asked in a squeaky voice.

Without turning his head to look at the boy, the soldier said “Why, I am making stone soup!” The little boy stepped forward to peer into the pot. “Stone soup?” “Yes, stone soup.”  The little boy looked back into the pot. “Is it good?” The soldier sighed and shook his head. “Not, really though it would much better if we had an onion.”

The little boy frowned at himself, shook his head and scampered off. Not long after he returned carrying a nice, plump onion. “Why this will make the perfect soup for us to share!” the soldier said as he sliced the onion into the pot. So he and the little boy settled down to wait.

Then an old woman made her way into the square. “What are you doing?” she asked in a raspy voice. The little boy piped up “We are making stone soup!” “Stone soup?” “Yes,” said the soldier, “though it would be much better if we had a carrot or two,” he said wistfully. “A carrot or two,” the old woman echoed thoughtfully. The soldier nodded as he watched the pot.

“I will return home and see if I can find something,” the old woman announced and with that, she scampered back to her house. She returned moments later with two bright orange carrots. “This will make the perfect soup for us to share,” the soldier said as he sliced it into the pot. The old woman settled down next to the soldier to wait.

Next came out the village blacksmith. He added potatoes to the pot. A young woman brought many different herbs. An old man brought out a ham bone with a fair share of meat. A dumpy woman with a flock of children clutching to her skirts brought a cabbage. The brewer brought some barley and his sister brought a handful of beans. They all sat around the fire and waited until the soup was done.

When the soup was ready there was a flurry of activity as people scampered back home for bowls and spoons. The soldier ladled soup into each of the villagers bowls. There was much merriment that night as each villager filled their belly with some of the best soup they had ever tasted. When ask, all the soldier would say is “The secret ingredient is in the stone.”

Thanks for joining me for the story of Stone Soup. I really enjoyed writing my own version of Stone Soup. It is one that I remember from when I was a little girl, so this story is very special to me. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! 

From my bowl to yours, cheers!

Taylor

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Roses: Tea, Toner and Love

Friday, September 20th, 2013
When you think of the history of cosmetic and perfumery, one of the oldest scents that comes to mind is rose. If you think about it, rose has been a classic for thousands of years. Even Cleopatra used rose! It is also a perfume that has been used by many cultures. Even here in China, rose was historically used by the wealthy or of noble blood!

 

 

One thing that I find fascinating here is that the Chinese drink a rose herbal tea. Now, I must admit, when first offered rose tea, I was filled with trepidation. All I could think of was the overwhelming Rose Otto I am familiar with. I could not have been farther off the mark!

While the Chinese do make rose tea, it is so mild in flavor, you can actually taste a naturally sweet note. It really makes for enjoyable drinking. The Chinese believe that drinking rose tea is very good for women, particularly for their skin. They believe it makes for smooth, soft skin; just like a rose petal! If you want to try your own hand at this mixture of Chinese cosmetics and Chinese medicine, let me give you a few tips.

When selecting rose buds for tea, make sure they are closed. Closed buds are believed to have more beneficial properties and they generally are in better shape. They are less likely to be broken or damaged. Heat your water until it comes to a steady simmer. If you are making a cup for one person, select 3-5 rose buds. Place them in the bottom of your cup. Pour the hot water over the rose buds. Wait for 30 seconds to one minute. The rose buds color will start to lighten and the water will be the palest of pinks. Remove the rose buds and enjoy your tea! You can see in the photo that the color change is barely noticeable. Don’t worry! The tea will have plenty of flavor! It will be sweet and gentle, not overpowering and bitter.

If rose herbal tea still does not appeal to you, not to worry! You can make a delightful toner using much a similar method. When making a toner, select 10-20 rosebuds and put them in the bottom of your cup. Heat your water until it comes to a steady simmer. Pour the hot water over the rose buds. Wait for three minutes or until the rosebuds are pale in color. The color will be much stronger than if you are making tea. Allow the toner to cool. Apply to face using a soft cloth or cotton ball.

I also find it amazing that roses are also used for romancing in China. A few weeks ago, I saw many men walking down the street with flowers in hand or women being presented with bouquets. The Chinese Valentine’s Day certainly had plenty of love in the air! What do you think about flowers being used for messages? Roses in particular?

Taylor

Rose Buds

Rose Buds

Adding Hot Water

Adding Hot Water

Rose Tea

Rose Tea

Rose Tea

Rose Tea

Rose Buds

Rose Buds

Steeping for Toner

Steeping for Toner

Steeping Toner

Steeping Toner

Rose Toner

Rose Toner

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Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

Thursday, September 19th, 2013
Today is the Mid-Autumn Festival! It is also known as the Moon Festival. It is a very big holiday here in China. I love the festivals here in China because I get to hear many stories, tall tales and plenty of folklore. But instead of starting off by telling you some of the folklore of the Mid-Autumn Festival today, I wanted to give you a little background story. Bring your slippers and your favorite drink and come join me! 

The Chinese believe that the Mid-Autumn Festival takes place when the moon is the fullest all year long. Traditionally, the Chinese get together with family; celebrating and eating mooncakes. When I asked a good friend why, she had to pause. I found my simple question had a very long answer.

In Chinese, the word for round or full sounds very similar to the word reunion. So when the moon is at its fullest, the Chinese all have a reunion. I must admit, I was a little surprised. I knew that family was important to the Chinese people, I had just underestimated how much family is valued. If a family for one reason or another is unable to get together during the Mid-Autumn Festival, they will watch the moon on the same night and take comfort in the fact that they are both looking at the same sky. Because I am so far away from my own family this year, I find it a little bittersweet. I can relate to the longing.

And now, for the fun part of today! The folklore! Are you comfortable? Good, because this story is fascinating and one of my favorites!

A very long time ago, Earth was beautiful, green and the people were prosperous. One day, instead of one sun rising into the sky, ten suns rose, scorching the land and burning the crops. The Emperor asked many brave men to help save the kingdom and protect the land.

A very skilled archer named HouYi heard of the Emperor’s desperate plea. He picked up his bow and quiver full of arrows and walked into a scorched field. The plants were so burnt, they rattled as he passed. He raised his bow and one by one shot the suns from the sky until there was only one left. He returned home to much celebration.

The Emperor was so pleased, he rewarded HouYi with medicine that would grant immortality to HouYi and his wife, Chang’e. HouYi excitedly ran home and presented the Emperor’s gift to his wife. Chang’e placed the medicine in a treasure box on her dressing table for safe keeping. Unfortunately, their greedy neighbor, Peng Meng, saw this.

One day, when HouYi went hunting, PengMeng broke into the house and demanded the medicine from Chang’e. Chang’e was very frightened but she knew she could not give the medicine of immortality to such an evil man. She snatched the medicine from her treasure box and swallowed it. Because the medicine had meant to be split between two people, it caused Chang’e’s body to become very light and she began to float into the sky.

On his way home, HouYi saw his wife floating into the sky. He knew what had happened but because he loved his wife so much, he could not bare to shoot her out of the sky. He watched as she floated all the way to the moon.

Each year, HouYi would set a table of his wife’s favorite foods in honor of her. He would sit and watch the moon, where his wife now lived. It is said the moon is brightest during that time because Chang’e has the Moon Palace cleaned in memory of her time on Earth and to show her love for her husband.
Taylor

Chang'e (嫦娥) The woman who flew to the moon.

Chang’e (嫦娥)
The woman who flew to the moon.

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Chinese Valentine’s Day -QiXi

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013
Today is August 13 and it is also Valentine’s Day in China. It is called QiXi (七夕). While it is not like our holiday with little cupids aiming their little bows at our hearts, the Chinese have their own story of lovers. I have really enjoyed the learning of Chinese folklore. It is fascinating and rich with history and tradition. Would you like to hear it? I will do my best to translate it for you.

Long ago, there were seven daughters of the Queen of Heaven. The youngest was very beautiful but more importantly, she was diligent and hard working. She was exceptional at weaving. It had become her task to weave clouds and rainbows to make the world more beautiful.

On Earth, a poor cowherd was banished from his father’s house by his cruel brother and his evil wife. He had only been allowed an old cow, who was his only friend and companion. He wandered the roads in despair. However, it turned out that the old cow was a magical cow. The cow gave the poor cowherd some advice. “Find a good and beautiful wife as your companion for your life.”

One day, the youngest daughter and all of her sisters flew to Earth in their magical robes so that they might relax and bathe in one of the rivers. The poor cowherd happened upon the sisters while they were bathing. Remembering the old cows advice, he snuck down to the bank and stole the youngest sister’s clothes. One by one, the sisters finished their bathes, donned their robes and flew back to Heaven. The youngest sister finished last but she could not not find her robes! Her robes gave her the power to fly back to Heaven! Without them, she could do nothing.

The poor cowherd approached the youngest sister. He presented her with her robes and asked that she might stay on Earth and marry him. She agreed.

Seven years on Earth passed before the princesses absence was discovered. You see, time is very short in Heaven while time on Earth is very long. It had only been a few days in Heaven. But during that time on Earth the princess and the cowherd had been very happy. They had even had two children!

The Queen of Heaven was very angry and brought her daughter and her daughter’s children back to Heaven. The poor cowherd was terrified as he watched his wife and children fly through the sky towards Heaven. But he remembered the magical cow. Just before the magical cow had died, she had made the poor cowherd to promise to keep the hide for it would become useful in an emergency.

The poor cowherd ran to the family cottage to collect the cowhide. He wrapped it around shoulders and was able to pursue his wife and children on their way towards Heaven. The Queen of Heaven saw this and became enraged. She pulled a hairpin from her head and scratched a line in the sky creating the Silver River or what we call the Milky Way.

The young princess returned to her work of weaving clouds and rainbows for Earth but they lacked their former beauty and luster. She was so devastated by absence of her husband. Finally, the Queen of Heaven showed a small token of mercy. The young princess and the poor cowherd would be allowed to meet one day a year.

A bridge of magpies is formed over the Silver River so that the lovers may meet. During the rest of the year, they wait on the banks of the Silver River, each tending to their work and waiting for the one day that they may meet.

What do you think of the story? I find it romantic and sad. The Chinese believe that being able to be patient like that shows the true dedication and love for the other person. Do you agree?

Taylor

The Lovers of QiXi

The Lovers of QiXi
(七夕的爱人)

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Central Soapers

Saturday, March 16th, 2013
Watson and Gracie - They aren't sleeping, they are growing!

Watson and Gracie – They aren’t sleeping, they are growing! 3 month old Golden Retriever mixes.

WHEW! I’m home. I had a fantastic time at the Central Soapers Workshop in Overland Park, KS. Toto, I’ve never been to Kansas before, but I am definitely going back!

People who live near the mountains have a terrible time navigating prairies. We just keep looking for mountains so we know which direction we are going. Had it not been for great directions from the rental car personnel I would have landed in North Dakota. On the way back to the airport I took Crystal Decker on the scenic route, which means a 28 minute trip actually took over an hour because I got lost took a right when I should have gone left. Thanks for putting up with me Crystal!

Do you know what impressed me the most about this trip to Kansas? Everyone was willing to learn. Kenna put up on the CentralSoapers.com site what to bring to a conference. If you have not read her post and the link to Little Miss Mocha’s blog about conferences, you MUST! Not only is Kenna’s blog and the Central Soapers site a great intro to this group, it is also really inspirational. When I arrived I wasn’t sure what to expect, I just knew I was going in my regular work shirts and my newly chewed shoe that I didn’t have time to replace before leaving (Thanks, Watson).

When I arrived I found people working hard, greeting with smiles, being beyond friendly, sharing their knowledge and being open to learning new techniques. The people there are brilliant! I learned about things I have never tried, never seen, and never used. WOW! This group was really ready to try anything to make awesome and unique soap. I was impressed beyond words. After I spoke about water replacement in soap making I put away my tutu, tiara and magic wand (my wand was correctly identified as a nostepinne – yarn ball winder – by Crystal Decker) and started a list of things I wanted to try when I got home. Colorful soaps like Amy Warden made at the workshop topped my list. Most of the time I am a utilitarian soap user. I figure it is for my own use so it doesn’t need to be colorful. Well, I decided to change my shower collection to be more colorful. These soaps were down right fun!

I brought home some Bath Fizzies made by Holly Port during the conference and they were a hit with the crew at MMS. I heard “my skin felt so good after that bath!” more than once. We even had a mistake. We have people on staff who English is not their primary spoken language. One staff member thought it was a room fragrance bomb and should be put in the toilet. After our good laugh we learned her bathroom did indeed smell nice after being bombed.

Column Swirling was demonstrated by Tanya Rasley. Ah! Gorgeous soaps! They really don’t take much more time than my basic soaps and the colors are incredible. Really incredible!

Cupcake Soaps done by Amanda Griffin were darling! I even saw the pair of cupcakes that looked more Dolly Parton-esque than cupcake-like. We giggled more and more!

By the time I got home I had laughed myself silly. I had a great time and it was worth every minute of lost sleep.

I WILL be there next year. I hope anyone that wants to learn more about soap will also attend. If you will check out the CentralSoapers.com site you can subscribe to the information feed so you can be sure to sign up and be there next year. I’ll be looking for a room mate and navigator. I know how to get lost, I’ll need someone to make sure my 28 minute trip is really 28 minutes. ;-)

See you next year in Kansas!

Tina

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An Adventure in a Chinese Cosmetics Store

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Snake oil hand cream.

Snake oil hand cream.

Back in January, I went on a shopping excursion with some friends. We had a full girls day out of shopping for clothes, cosmetics and naturally, lunch! :) Our shopping trip had us visiting Yabaolu area of Beijing. North Yabaolu (unofficially known as Russiatown) is an area that is populated with shops that are frequented by foreigners living or visiting Beijing. Many merchants speak Chinese, Russian and/or English.

Our first stop was a small cosmetics shop that was stuffed to the ceiling! As my friends did their shopping, I browsed the shop and looked at the different products available. I saw bath gels with osmanthus petals, mud masks, nail polish, face creams and even foot masks. One product that caught my eye was a box that had “Snake Oil Cream” written in English! I grabbed the box and looked closely. I was convinced this had to be a bad translation. (Do you know what thoughts were racing through my head?)

One friend noticed the box I was examining and asked if I found it interesting. I told her that it was interesting and then asked if it really contained snake oil or if it was a bad translation. She chuckled and told me that it really contained snake oil. I took a picture of the box so I could share it with you.

I chuckled about the cream for the rest of the day because I couldn’t believe that a cream was labeled as a snake oil cream. In the USA, I’ve read many books that talked about “snake oil” salesmen who sold fake “medicines”. So the first association for me wasn’t the Chinese water snake that actually is the oil provider, but the salesmen of the books of my childhood.

When I returned home, I asked Jerry for more information and he told me more about snake oil being used in cosmetics here in China. Snake oil has been used to make skin softer and has been thought to help skin heal quickly and relieve pain. Generally snake oil is used in foot creams, hand creams or even face creams.

Jerry asked me if I would be interested in trying snake oil, so he helped me order snake oil from a Chinese online cosmetics ingredient supply shop. The snake oil arrived at the beginning of February and I got to play with it. (I’ll share that blog post with you on Monday!)

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The Flu, a Chinese Hospital and a Toast

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Recently I caught the worst cold ever. I have been miserable. I had this cold for several days with no improvement in sight. I mean, the box of tissues and my pillow have been my best friends. Andee wasn’t even been able to talk me into a movie. (I can always be talked into a movie.) I was grumpy, tired and ornery. Now that I am better, I can actually laugh about what happened. Put aside any food, swallow your drinks, and hold on. You are in for an adventure.

Because I have been sick during the Chinese New Year I’ve been out of sorts. Everything is closed! Dumpling shops where I pick up breakfast, shopping centers, schools, and even some pharmacies have shut down. In some ways it is like Beijing has turned into a ghost town. Talk about strange! My illness continued to get worse and white spots appeared on the back of my throat. This was now beyond what I could fight along. I had to go to a hospital. I needed to get help with what I thought was a really bad and stubborn case of the flu. The hospital is much like a medical center in the USA where doctors have offices but no beds for staying the night. I needed help and I was fortunate enough to have a very good friend take me. Sick people can’t think correctly.

After getting checked in, we were steered to the nurse’s station. After a little discussion with the nurse, my friend came back with a glass thermometer. “Here,” he said. “They need your temperature.” I took the thermometer and opened my mouth. Nanoseconds before I inserted the thermometer into my mouth my friend shrieked “What are you doing?!” I stopped and looked at him. What does he think I am doing? “I am taking my temperature.” Duh! Even well people can be weird.

He started to shake his head, wave his hands, pace and laugh. At this point we have attracted the attention of everyone of the floor. My friend managed to choke out, “We don’t put thermometers there!”

“Oh,” I said. Then I stared in horror at the thermometer. Where had this thermometer been before I had it? I then looked at my friend, leaned in close and whispered “Do I need to have my temperature taken in the hall?” He looked at me like I had grown a second head. “Of course.” I closed my eyes. I had filled with dread. “Why me? Why here? Why now? I almost stuck THAT THING in my mouth!” were thoughts that were racing through my head. Apparently being sick really meant being sick. All of a sudden I wished I was back at home, under the covers, hiding my head. I was so not ready for this. I had full blown dread. What now? How would I deal with this? Why could I not have some privacy? I want my mom!! Then my friend told me, “You have to put it under your arm. You know, in your arm pit.”

“Oh.”

“Oh!” I finally understood! I had been saved! Suddenly I felt much better and I had not even been treated with medicine yet. My mood brightened and while I was still very sick I was now OK with being sick. Joy flooded through me making me feel like an overcooked noodle, I was limp with relief. Even the daunting task of worming a glass  thermometer through a scarf, coat, winter sweater, and two shirts seemed easy compared to the danger I had imagined was looming in my near future.

The rest of my visit at the hospital wasn’t nearly so adventurous or exciting. I was told, “Yes, you are sick. Here are some medications that will make you feel better. Go home, rest, drink lots of fluids and don’t eat anything that is spicy or has sugar. If you don’t get better, come back.” I don’t know about you, but I am not prepared for another adventure at a Chinese hospital.

So now that I am feeling better, please join me for a toast. Whether you are drinking tea, coffee, water, or anything else you have on hand – please raise your glass. This is for all you readers. May you be safe, healthy and warm; and may all of your troubles be less than the imagined terror of a thermometer in a Chinese hospital.

Cheers!

Taylor

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