Meet Katsu, the ninja squirrel accompanying my sister to the land of cute things (aka Hong Kong)!
My sister is going to Hong Kong for a year to pursue a graduate degree in English-Chinese translation, which is why the title of this post is directly translated to Chinese in honour of that :D
I decided to make my sister a gift to bring with her on her year-long journey. One of the ways we connect, since she was born, is through making up stories for our stuffed animals. So I thought it would be fitting to make her a plush.
Katsu’s story stems from something that my sister encountered. My sister would have been able to write this much more compellingly, since she has a degree in English and creative writing, but my little description here will have to do…
One day in the winter, my sister came across some squirrel tracks beside half a coconut shell in the snow. She found it strange but thought nothing of it until after school she took the bus home, and spotted through the bus window some squirrel tracks and half a coconut shell in the snow in a field just a block away from home.
Pretty eerie, she thought :S
That must have been a ninja squirrel travelling with his coconut, I thought :D (“Shtealth!” the ninja squirrel says, in my head)
I actually didn’t think of making a ninja squirrel until one day I was hanging out in a park with two friends from school. We saw some dogs chasing a squirrel and we joked that the dog would never catch up to the squirrel, and then spontaneously we started taking photos of ourselves posing as ninja squirrels… (well, what do you expect from art therapists?)
One of the friends suggested that a ninja squirrel would carry his ninja stars in a satchel. The other friend said that he should have a pouch like a kangaroo. I think they would be happy to know that I’ve found a happy medium – a fanny pack! :D (I still call it a satchel though, because it’s one of my favourite words.)
I can’t find four-point ninja stars but I have star confetti. There’s even a purple one – my sister favourite colour :D I stuffed them all into the satchel and put it around Katsu’s mid-section.
But you can see his agility better without his satchel.
I’m pretty proud of Katsu, so I’ve written down the pattern and will share that next week. But for now, I’m going to write about what I’ve learned from my sister.
Though I have to say, isn’t it kind of sad that I don’t reflect much on how much I admire the people around me until there comes a time when I wouldn’t see them for a while. Good thing my sister is only going to be away for a year.
But I must write this, about how awesome my sister is. Even though she’s much younger, she taught me many things.
I learned from my sister how she humbly accepts her mistakes and shortcomings. She humbly acknowledges that she could have done better and doesn’t give herself excuses.
I learned from my sister how she serves and helps others in all the ways she can even without any kind of acknowledgement or reward. She spend hours and hours every week volunteering at different places. She only shares what she learns and the people she meets and maybe the challenges she was concerned about, but she never complains about the amount of work she’s been asked to do for free.
I learned from my sister how she simply accepts things the way they are, and not complain. Her commute to school was a whopping four hours on stinky Toronto buses with constant delays and I never hear her complain about it (and you can probably guess how much I despise and therefore complain about buses…) Her school’s administration is extraordinarily disorganized (as I’m experiencing it now, starting at the same university next month…) but my mom doesn’t remember the last time she complained.
I learned from my sister her courage and determination. From getting her driver’s license to speaking a new language to deciding to stay a year in Hong Kong. Leaving her comfort zone. Doing what she feels is right even though it also feels tremendously scary.
I learned from my sister how she truly cares about everyone around her. From the bottom of her heart she truly, truly wants them to do well and be happy, and she’s reliable and keeps her promises when her friends need help.
My sister is someone who would look past all of my mistakes and shortcomings and love me with all her heart. I must say, I was rather miserable and deranged in my youth and I have done some pretty thoughtless and mean things toward her. But still, she wept with me when my heart was broken and cheered with sheer joy when I celebrated all my milestones.
So today I celebrate my sister’s milestone, a new chapter in life, as she heads toward the future (indeed, Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of Toronto!) and embarks on a new exciting adventure in just a few hours. I am cheering with sheer joy but also feeling in my heart a sad, sad void as I think about not seeing her for a whole year, which is kind of unimaginable, but I’m sure we’ll deal with it just fine. And I’ll try not to complain :P
Cheers, Cil! May your journey be safe, happy, and full of blessings! Know that I’m very, very proud of you.