Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Daylight hours here in Saskatoon = 7 hours 43 minutes. In other years my mother would be making glutinous rice ball soup. She made two kinds – one with a sweet sauce and one with a savory soup of vegetables, meat and spices. I prefer the latter. It’s a process. It’s another thing she has given up with advancing age and declining health. I have made the effort once. It turned out not bad. I should make it every year as the Chinese do celebrate Winter Solstice. It would have been a comforting thing on a gloomy day. I would be carrying on my mother’s tradition. I can still do it on another day.

More and more, I find myself becoming my mother. I hear her voice and laugh in mine. Sometimes when I am moving, I feel as I am her. Maybe those traits were always in me but I’m just recognizing and acknowledging them now. I don’t know any young woman who would want to be their mother. I remember having many mother/daughter disagreements and fights. I was reading books like My Mother/Myself by Nancy Friday. I wish I still have that copy but I’ve tossed it thinking I’m done. I was wrong. A daughter is never done with mother/daughter relationships. Great that I found it in the library system and have requested it. It will be interesting reading from my now vantage point.

We have no more fiery encounters. We have both mellowed and respect each other’s abilities and individual rights. She can no more order me around than I could order her. Equals at last. She still like to tell me that I am sloppy and bad tempered like my father. Also that she can still clean better than me. That is true. But she’s also said that my sticky rice was pretty good and that I am making pretty good art.

It’s all good at this stage in our lives. Those difficult days of struggling to make a living are behind us. We have reached Gold Mountain at last. We have climbed its slippery slopes and reached the Promised Land. We are living our best parts. Happy Winter Solstice!



Chinese New Year is coming on February 19th.  It’s the year of the goat.  I’m thinking of my roots, where I come from.  I have travelled away far and a long time from my homeland.  It resides still in my heart.

Our HouseI’m remembering our house in the village.  It was built with money my grandfather sent from Gold Mountain.  It was two storied with a cupula on top.  I loved climbing up the stairs and emerging from it to play on the roof.  It was where I saw my ghosts. My mother told me they were our ancestors and no need to be afraid.

3 GrandmasI have memories of chasing chickens around the courtyard.  Our house was big, being a Gold Mountain house.  We lived in one half and my grandfather’s brother’s family lived in the other half.  We were a household of women and children.  The men were over- seas working and sending money home.  The only adult man is the household was my grandfather’s brother.  That’s how it was. We sustained and supported each other.

Down the lane was another Gold Mountain house.  My grandfather’s other two brothers’ families lived there.  Just like us, they were a household of women and children.  We were all overseered by my grandfather’s one brother.  But in reality, it was the women who took care of him.

chinese cupcakesClose to Chinese New Year, memories of New Year’s Eve come to me.  I am snug in my bed of wooden planks and a wooden block for a pillow.  I don’t recall the hardness or the discomfort of such a bed.   But being in winter, it was probably lined with a quilt.  In my mind’s eye, I see the flames as the women tended the fire through the night to cook the pastries for the celebration.  I feel such contentment and security.  That memory is such a blessing to have.  It nourishes me through all of life.

So here’s an early toast to the year of the goat.  Gong Hee Fat Choy!




It is almost Friday and time for Friday Fictioneers and their stories of 100 words.  We are hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields of Addicted to Purple.  And here is my story of 100 words.  Here is a little explanation for my story.  If you don’t know already, I am Chinese. My ancestors dream of a better life in America.  They refer to Canada as Gold Mountain and United States as Beautiful Country.

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright Janet Webb


Sally pressed her nose against the window.  She breathed onto the glass, then wiped it clear with her sleeve.

She looked out into her garden. The branches bared their arms to the sky.  A fine layer of snow covered the creeping juniper.  The little blue pergoda stood cold and lonely underneath a cluster of frozen golden petals.

She rested her cheek on the cool pane, sighing softly.  She was remembering her dream of coming to Gold Mountain.  Her dream had come true.  She has been here in Gold Mountain for 30 some years.  She didn’t find any gold, only the cold.


Christmas is still to come and it will be with us every year, forever and ever.  For some of us, including yours truly, we like to think we can do very well without it.  But can we?  It is such an integral part of our lives/society/world.  Sometimes we like to trash the very thing dear to us, because of one inexplicable reason or another.

I know very well why I do not cotton up to this idea of ’tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la la.  I hope I got the correct number of la’s in.  I have always known why.  It’s very tough to embrace another culture’s tradition as an eight year old immigrant.  Back in the days of dinosaurs, as some of my younger coworkers would like to say, we weren’t as worldly and smart as kids now are.

For one thing, there was no such thing as the World Wide Web, cell phones or television that I knew of.  Why, I was only acquainted with electricity for 2 years before we came to Canada, Gold Mountain, as the Chinese call it.  I had no idea of what Canada meant.  I was still enthralled by Hong Kong and its city lights.  My mother and I had left our village only 2 years before.

In my child’s mind, the name Gold Mountain must have conjured up pictures of wealth.  I  remember visions of balloons and lollypops.  So imagine my confusion as my journey progresses towards our final destination…Maidstone, Saskatchewan.  I do not recall landing at the airport in Saskatoon.  I do not recall how we got to North Battleford.  It’s funny that I do not have any memory of it at all.  I will have to ask my mother for those details.

I recall clearly that first time I stepped into my grandfather’s laundry.  Sometimes I see in black and white, like those Hallmark occasions, those Kodak moments.  They are forever frozen in my mind’s eye.

I stepped onto bare worn wooden floors.  It was a big, plain room with a tall table against each wall opposite each other.  They were the two tables on which my grandfather and his brother ironed and folded starch shirts for their customers.  This was Gold Mountain?

A few days later, my grandfather put my mother, sister and I on a Grey Hound Bus for Maidstone where my father had a cafe with his cousin.  I did not find any lollypops or balloons there.  Nor was there running water.  Though it did have electricity, I felt as if we had returned to our village in China, only that the inhabitants had long noses and pale faces!  And I could not understand them when they spoke.

That was in early September.  By December, I think I knew English and about Christmas of a sort.