MARTHA SEZ: ‘Dragons, as you might expect, are deemed the luckiest’

All right, I admit it: I am not the Amazing Kreskin. I’m certainly no Theresa Caputo. My psychic powers are in serious doubt. Here’s why.

In the Chinese zodiac, time is measured in 12-year cycles, with each of the 12 years assigned its own animal, in an orderly progression.

People’s lives are thought to be ruled by the animal assigned to their birth years. In order, they are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and finally Pig. Every 12 years your animal year will come up again. Mine is the Pig.

Some years are luckier than others. Dragons, as you might expect, are deemed the luckiest. Pigs not so much.

If 2021 is your animal year–if you were born in an Ox year, say, and it is now the Year of the Ox–you might think it will be lucky for you. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your animal year is considered to be unlucky.

According to chinesenewyear.net, “It’s seen as a hurdle you have to jump over. The way to protect yourself from evil spirits and bad fortune is to wear red underwear every day for the entire year. Even in modern times, it’s still treated as a real concern.”

The Chinese Lunar New Year 2021 began February 12, as the Year of the Rat was superseded by the Year of the Ox.

Last year around this time, as the noble Pig wandered off and the Rat made his first appearance, I made the following prediction in this column: “If you are a rat, don’t worry: 2020 will be reasonably lucky for all signs, even Rats.”

As we now know, I was wrong. Far from being lucky for all signs, 2020 is a year much maligned by pretty much everyone around the globe. The Rat has slunk away ignominiously into obscurity for the next 12 years, and we are not sorry to see him go. The Year of the Ox got off to a bad start, what with insurrection and the continuing worldwide COVID epidemic and all. I still think things are bound to look up this year, but don’t listen to what I say.

My cat Jupiter has been listless and seedy looking for months. Jupi’s veterinarian has diagnosed his ailment as depression. Depression is prevalent among cooped-up humans this winter too, he said. He referred me to a website on environmental enrichment for indoor pets.

I have been trying to incorporate these enrichment techniques into Jupiter’s daily routine. Most of them, of course, he completely ignores. He pretends to be afraid of the mechanized cat toys I bought him, while other toys merely offend him.

One enrichment tool I came up with myself has been successful: cat videos on YouTube. Jupiter will watch birds and rodents on the big screen of my old iMac for hours. At first he would jump up on a chair and paw at the screen, but now he is content to sit on the floor and contemplate biting their little heads off, which seems to make him happier.

One good thing that happened in 2021: I just got my first COVID vaccination. My friend Darla, who incidentally does have psychic powers, but that is neither here nor there, told me she was at Kinney Drug in Elizabethtown getting her vaccination with other people aged 65 years or older, and the pharmacist warned the group that they might suffer some side effects from the vaccine, such as stiff muscles or achy joints.

“How would we know?” Darla wondered aloud. The other seniors laughed. Good question.

The Chinese Lunar New Year celebration is not over yet. I wonder about February 19, the Day of the Millet, on which pet fish and birds are traditionally released back into the wild to show respect for nature. They might prefer to be released when it’s a little warmer out.

Or what about February 22, Day of the Son-in-Law, in which the husband of your daughter is invited to partake of leftovers from the previous day’s meal?

February 26 is the Lantern Festival, which wraps up the Chinese New Year festivities. It looks so beautiful in the pictures, all those flaming lanterns rising into the night sky and drifting away, but I do wonder about the fire hazard. Oh well, I suppose I will never understand the ways of the inscrutable East.

Jupiter is insisting on using the computer. I have to go.

Have a good week.

(Martha Allen lives in Keene Valley. She has been writing for the Lake Placid News for more than 20 years.)