Leafs - Photograph by Rhonda Parrish

Octobers

Anne of Green Gables

“Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill–several thrills?”

~ Excerpted from Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

 

I share Anne’s excitement for October, which is why I pre-scheduled this post waaaay back in January. As I write this my yard, my world, is covered in fresh-fallen snow, my breath would fog the air outside, and I wouldn’t venture out without full winter clothing… as we read it, however, October is just beginning which around here means crisp air, colourful leaves, golden light and that special feeling that comes with knowing that winter is coming and we need to appreciate every day, every moment, between now and then.

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers 🙂

 

Leafs - Photograph by Rhonda Parrish

Leafs – Photograph by Moi

Dear Santa (2014)

Santa

It has become a Giftmas tradition on my blog for me to write a wishlist of gifts I’d like Santa to bring me. To be super clear, I’m not asking any of you to buy these things for me… well, with the possible exception of Jo LoL I just like making wishlists 🙂

Dear Santa,

I have worked really hard this year and been (pretty) good on top of that. I feel confident I ought to be on your Nice list, anyway. So with that in mind, this year for Giftmas I would like:

  • A white board. Not a huge one, I just want something to keep better track of anthology deadlines (ones I want to submit to and ones I’m editing LOL) and have it easily visible. Originally I wanted a chalkboard but Jo was like ‘Gah! Dust!’ so… white board?
  • As you probably know, I drink a lot of tea. I do not, however, wash a lot of dishes. I’d like the “Art Harder Mother Fucker” mug from Chuck Wendig for when my favourite mugs arLise Watiere dirty. It probably goes without saying that I’d like the larger size, but just in case…
  • I’m not following WWE as closely as I was last year, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still like their swag. I really love Dolph’s new shirtAJ’s shirt, and pretty much all of Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns’ clothes (except the women’s tee shirts because they always rip right away).
  • Lise Watier’s winter collection this year is amazing. I’d be especially grateful to see the Teal Iridescent eyeshadow in my stocking. Though really, anything from that collection aside from the lip colours (bleh) would find a very good home with me 🙂
  • I’m nearly out of the notebooks I prefer to write my first drafts in, if you’d be willing to help me restock that would be awesome. My preferred type are the ‘Journals’ with the fake leather covers from Winnable.com because awesome.
  • I’m always open to new books, more music and Dragon Age: Inquisition looks like a lot of fun (even though I still haven’t played DA: 2. But whatever.)
  • This year my favourite charity thing (because Niteblade is regularly donating to Save the Chimps and Fauna Foundation) is the Girls’ Take Home Rations from Plan. Awesome idea.
  • Oh, and Santa, you know how three years ago I said, “I could also really use some baseboards and riser thingers for my bathroom and kitchen. If we don’t finish them up soon they are just going to blend into the background and we’ll never get them done.” Well… we have some of the riser thingers (one is even installed!) but as for those baseboards… can ye help me out, dude?

Love,

Rhonda

 

And now, because it has also become a tradition, Tim Minchin everyone:

 

Social Media Changes Everything

Social media makes everything different. It really does.

I had a rough few days this week (which means my family did too) that included numerous trips to different doctors, three EKGs, a load of blood tests and spending ten hours in the emergency room.

Spoiler: I’m okay. Not 100% yet, but getting there.

The reason social media comes into this is because I was like… how much do I share? Where do I share it? Does anyone care to hear about these little dramas that afflict my life, or is sharing that just attention-whoring? If I do tell the story, what angle do I take? “Shit be scary”, “Emergency rooms are an amazing study of human nature”, “Just the facts, ma’am”, “Ten freaking hours in emerg?!?!” or something totally different?

Ten years ago these things wouldn’t have ever occurred to me. I would have called my Mom (once things were resolved probably–I wouldn’t want to worry her) and possibly emailed a couple friends, but mostly people would have learned, or not learned, about my little scare slowly over weeks and months as we ran into one another socially. That’s all different now.

I have friends, family and acquaintances online. I have a following. It’s not a big one LOL but it exists.

That all changes things.

Now I have to figure out what to share, how much of it to share, and where to share it. The Twitter crowd isn’t the same as the Facebook or blog one…

What about you? Do you have a policy of sorts, or do you figure it out as you go? I’m doing the latter, but seriously thinking about coming up with some sort of policy… even though history has shown I’m not fabulous at sticking to them LoL

Anyway, I’m back at work, though at a slightly slower pace than usual. So if you were waiting to hear from me you ought to soon 🙂

Nanton -- Copyright All rights reserved by Rhonda Parrish

That Reminds Me…

I watched this video this afternoon (the cat on my lap was *not* impressed, let me tell you) and it made me smile:

My smile had a little something to do with the pissed off cat, a little something to do with the dog in the video and a whole lot to do with memories from my childhood.

As a kid I lived in and around (on farms) a handful of different small towns in southern Alberta. For as long as I can remember my grandmother has lived (and still does) in Nanton, Alberta. We lived there too when I was quite young, from about 4 until 9 or 10. I went to kindergarten in ‘the old school’ there the last year it was open and grade one at A. B. Daley School the first year it opened. When I left my first husband it was Nanton that I moved to with my very young daughter to do the single mother thing, and I lived there for a few years before moving up here to Edmonton to be with Jo.

Many of my happy memories from my childhood in Nanton have to do with summer (let’s just say I never fit in at school LoL).

Nanton used to have a noon whistle. It’s my understanding that it was actually an air raid siren, but since it was peacetime it had been re-purposed. Every day when there was no school (so summer and weekends) my brother, cousins and I were sort of let loose on the town. We had bicycles, a season’s pass to the swimming pool and active imaginations, what more did we need? And every day we knew it was time to come home for lunch when we heard the noon whistle.

Actually, we knew it was time to come home for lunch when we heard every single dog in town begin to howl.

The dogs always started to bark and howl a couple seconds before the siren went off.

I guess they could hear it before we could and it must have hurt their ears, poor things, because let me tell you — no matter where you were in town, when that siren went off, you heard it.

Anyway, that video reminded me of those days. “Simpler” days. You can’t go back, but sometimes it’s nice to remember and smile.

I don’t know when they stopped the noon whistle, but I bet all the animals in town, especially those who lived nearby, were grateful when they did 🙂

Anyway, I just wanted to share that and it was a few too many characters for Twitter or Facebook LOL I’ll try to make my next post writing-related 😉

Dear Santa (2013)

It’s become a tradition on my blog that each year I write a letter to Santa about what I want for Giftmas. Not because I want any of my blog readers to buy me those things, but just because sometimes it’s fun to put together wishlists. If you make a Giftmas (or any other winter holiday) wishlist please leave a link in the comments so I can stop by and take a look 🙂

Dear Santa,

This year has been pretty good, especially compared to last year, and if we don’t count diet I’ve been pretty good. So with that in mind I don’t feel bad writing and asking you for a few things…

  • CMPunkHoodieI started watching wrestling again this year, Santa, and though I have a few items from the WWEShop I don’t feel like my wardrobe has been sufficiently wrestling-ified. I like most of the wrestlers (except the Wyatt Family and The Real Americans) so I’m not super particular about what you get me. Though, if I had to choose I’d really like CM Punk’s retro hoodie, The Shield’s sweatpants and The Usos T-shirt

 

  • I’m always looking for more books, Santa. You could check my Amazon wishlist or my Goodreads ‘Want to Read’ list, but both of those are incomplete. I really love short stories so best of anthologies are a pretty safe bet, and I could use a new vegetarian cookbook as well (bonus points for slow cooker recipes because finding meatless ones that aren’t spaghetti sauce is a freaking challenge). Also, I know I have Code Name Verity on my kobo, but I think I also need a physical copy of it. Because reasons.

 

  • I haven’t had any new jewelry in quite a long time, so maybe it’s time to change that. I am big on silver and sort of simple designs, and when I did a quick google to find some examples for you, Santa, I found this lovely ring which comes in silver but also in this metal I’ve never seen before. It’s lovely. I’m including a picture below for you. Pretty, no?

31117917_920831_ED_M

  • Finally Santa, you know how for the past two years I’ve asked you for “some baseboards and riser thingers for my bathroom and kitchen. If we don’t finish them up soon they are just going to blend into the background and we’ll never get them done.” Well, you’ll never guess what I still need this year. Yeah. Those. If you have room in your sleigh that would be super awesome, thank you.

Thank you Santa.

Love,

Rhonda

I’ll leave you with two movies today. The first is White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin. Last year I described this as ‘One of my favourite performers performing one of my favourite Christmas songs’. It’s still that, and it still makes me cry.

The second movie is a montage that totally reminds me of Tre (our dog) and Eowyn (our grumpiest cat). Maybe it will make you laugh 🙂

Happy Ho Ho!

 

I Miss My Mom

My mother, Sandra McKenzieThe anniversary of my mom’s death happened not so long ago and after much thought I decided not to blog about it… but today has been a hell of a day and I need to vent a little.

You know, mostly I deal well with the fact my mom is gone, I mean, as well as you can, but every once in a while life decides to pick up a stick and just jab it in all my most tender places.

Today was one of those days.

It started with seeing that Mom had given one of my books 5 stars on Goodreads two years ago (because, of course she did) and realizing she could never do that again. Then, because I’m a masochist, I followed the link from her name to her Goodreads profile and started sobbing at the list of books she ‘Wanted to Read’ but now never could.

It just got worse from there.

It’s just so fucking unfair. I miss my mom.

Fuck cancer.

Care Bear Crisis

I interrupt what has been mostly self-promotional posts of late, to bring you something completely unrelated to books or writing, but something I feel a desire to share… my Care Bear Crisis.

You see those pictures there? Those are some of the stuffed animals that make up my Care Bear collection (I also have an Eeyore collection. These are things that sometimes surprise people. They are like “So… you collect Care Bears and Eeyores and you write about acid-tongued rats, giant ants and zombies?”). Jo, Dani and I live in a relatively small house and a couple years ago, in order to make more room for books, I boxed up my Care Bears and put them in storage. I wasn’t ready to sell or give them away, but at the same time I needed shelf space, so it seemed like a good compromise. Last month I decide to unbox them and find new homes for them. Well, most of them. I pulled Bedtime Bear and Swift Heart Rabbit out of the collection and tucked them in between Eeyores on that shelf. I couldn’t part with them.

Bedtime Bear is special to me because I have a complicated relationship with sleep. I love it, but for various reasons I tend to do too little or too much of it, and often at the times I’m not supposed to. Some of my worst recurring nightmares have involved falling asleep at work or struggling to stay awake and alert while doing things. Those probably sound like stupid things to have nightmares about but trust me, they suck. So Bedtime Bear had to stay.

So did Swift Heart. When I was a kid in the 80s and Care Bears were all the rage I really, really wanted one. Really. For one birthday my cousin and best friend Clinton gave me a knock-off Swift Heart Rabbit. He was so pleased to be able to give me that bunny and I loved it fiercely. My younger siblings and I shared a toy box and they didn’t love it in the same way I did. Eventually my bunny lost his ears, but I still loved him. Clinton killed himself when we were both sixteen, and that was as crushing as you can imagine and made the bunny even more precious. Unfortunately when I was about nineteen my dog destroyed that poor stuffy. So when I got myself a real Swift Heart Rabbit… well, you can imagine why I can’t bring myself to part with it.

Still, that left a lot of other stuffed animals that I was looking to re-home. The emails poured in. Care Bears from the 80s are pretty highly collectable (not as much as they used to be before they were all re-released, but still). The first one said “I want Tenderheart and Grumpy” and I looked at Tenderheart and I looked at Grumpy and I thought, “I can’t get rid of Grumpy!” so I emailed that person back and said “Grumpy’s not available, but Tenderheart is.” and he was like “No, I need both.” So they stayed.

Then the next email came in, “I’ll take Birthday Bear and Grumpy.” and I was like “Um…”

Long story made short(er) I couldn’t do it. I think I could have sold my collection as a whole but I couldn’t cannibalize it like that. I did sell a couple bears to a girl who wanted to give them to her collector little sister because, well, she didn’t want Grumpy for one thing LOL And for another, she was giving them to someone who would love them, but mostly I ended up putting Grumpy, Bedtime Bear and Swift Heart Rabbit up on the shelf with my Eeyores and tucking the rest back into storage.

My name is Rhonda, and I’m not a hoarder I swear. I just have a bit of a Care Bear problem…

EVEC

Edmonton Emergency Veterinarian's ClinicI’d meant to spend some time this afternoon working on a blog post that was looking back at the year, at what I’d accomplished, what goals I had achieved and which I hadn’t, that sort of thing. But then, life got in the way. Again.

We had to take our cat, Indiana to the kitty emergency room. Again. I think today’s trip was the fifth we’ve made to the EVEC with him. Five. Five exhausting, stressful, traumatic and expensive trips to the animal hospital in about as many weeks. It is unfun and complicated by the fact we don’t own a car so all these trips are made via cab or bus. It’s been frustrating and, did I mention stressful? And I have begun to feel pretty sorry for, not just Indy, but us, too. When I think about it, though, we are pretty lucky, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

It was four hours tonight between the time we left our home with Indiana and the time we arrived back home again. Four hours. Three of which were spent in the waiting room at the Edmonton Veterinarian’s Emergency Clinic. During those three hours I watched three families leave with tear-streaked cheeks and empty animal carriers. Three families who were going to be missing a furry member. And that is not counting the people who were leaving living animals behind for treatment or observation.

Sadly we have been spending a fair amount of time at the Veterinarian’s Emergency Clinic so I know that this was an especially busy and sad period for them, but still, we’re lucky. We still have Indy with us. What’s more, we’re lucky that the Edmonton Veterinarian’s Emergency Clinic exists, and that there are people who are willing to work there. I would not be. I couldn’t do it. They are not like an ordinary veterinarian who sees our pets for check-ups and shots from 9-5. The people who work at this clinic only see animals when they are in crisis. When there is an emergency. And they are open 24/7 365 days a year. That is awesome. They are awesome.

So, I’m not writing a blog today looking back on a year of writing and life, but about a clinic staffed by awesome people. They have saved Indy’s life a couple times already and while I would very much like to never have to see them again, I feel a whole lot better knowing that they are there just in case we need them. Again. I couldn’t do what they do, but I’m so very glad that they can.

<3

 

Dear Santa

Last year I wrote a letter to Santa on my blog and I thought it was a lot of fun, so have decided to make it an annual tradition. I am not writing this to request anyone buy these items for me, this isn’t that sort of wishlist. It’s just meant to be fun.

Dear Santa,

This year has sucked. Not everything about it, of course, but overall it’s been pretty tough so surely I can be forgiven for the times I wasn’t ‘good’? I mean, even when I was bad it was usually only to myself. That ought to count for something, right? With that in mind, this year for Giftmas I would like the following:Diana Baby camera from Lomography

  • Pretty much any of the cameras from the Lomography website. Really. I’d be happy with any of them. That being said though, I do especially have my eye on the Diana Baby 110 camera with the 24mm lens. So far I haven’t been able to get my IR filter to play nicely with my DSLR so if you were to couple that with some IR film I would think you were the most awesomest bearded dude evar.
  • It’s really quite scandalous that as the publisher of an e-zine I don’t have an e-reader yet. That, coupled with my insomnia has inspired me to add a Kobo Glo to my wishlist. This, despite the missing w on the word glow. I picked the Kobo because it is only an e-reader. It’s not a camera, browser, game console, etc. etc. I don’t want to be more plugged in to online or play more games, I just want to be able to read a book in bed without waking up Jo.
  • I kinda want to spit in a test tube. No, really.
  • As you know, Santa, I am in the process of refinishing our dining room table which is a family heirloom. I would very much like to find chairs that fit it. Since we’re using an unusual color of stain I will give bonus points if the chairs are unstained, so I don’t have to sand them before I stain them to match the table. Not that I’m lazy or anything you understand…
  • Lastly, Santa, do you remember last year when I asked you for “some baseboards and riser thingers for my bathroom and kitchen. If we don’t finish them up soon they are just going to blend into the background and we’ll never get them done.” Well I could still use those baseboards and riser thingers.

Thank you Santa.

Love,

Rhonda

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite performers performing one of my favourite Christmas songs ever (even if it does make me cry these days):

<3

Faster Than The Speed of Life

Indiana Jones ParrishFor the most part I have a fantastic life. I’m relatively healthy, I have friends and family who love me (and who I love), I’m able to spend my days doing what I love (writing and editing) and, ya know, overall things are pretty good. They aren’t perfect, of course, but they are pretty good. But it always seems like just when I’d really like a nice, quiet period in my life the most something happens to make sure I don’t get it.

My mom dying last month was… traumatic, to say the least. It was pretty sudden — she was doing well, and then suddenly she very much wasn’t. I’ve been working to come to terms with her loss and with all the circumstances around it, and I’ve been doing pretty well. I was down, of course, but grief is a funny thing — it comes at you in waves. I was able to get things done, still, to lead a more or less “normal” life. I kept busy, which helped, and thought “Hey, you know what would be a great idea? I’ll do NaNoWriMo and NovPad and get the December issue of Niteblade ready. No problem.”

Then life stepped up and said “Nu-uh. No you don’t.”

We have three cats. They are all awesome and all very different from one another. Indiana, Eowyn and Absinthe. Indiana is the cuddly one, Eowyn is the proud/bitchy one and Absinthe is the shit-disturber. On Friday we had to rush Indiana (you can see him in these pictures) to the animal hospital because he had an obstruction in his urethra. He was diagnosed with FLUTD (Feline lower urinary tract disease), admitted and catheterized under sedation. Before they performed the procedure they asked if we wanted to visit him to say goodbye. I couldn’t. Just the idea of visiting someone I loved in a hospital again after my Mom… I just couldn’t do it.

On Saturday, the hospital called to say there had been a complication in removing the catheter and Indy was going to require surgery to get it out. We consented to that. Very late on Sunday night he was released and we brought him home. When we went to pick him up at the animal hospital they brought him out in his (huge) cat carrier. I knelt down to see him and stuck my fingers through the bars. He rushed over from the back of the carrier and tried to bonk me through the bars, and when that didn’t work he just rubbed against my fingers as best he could with his cone of shame on. It made me cry. Jo and the receptionist pretended not to notice, because they are awesome.

Now he’s home, but the stress doesn’t stop. There’s money stress because stays in the animal hospital and emergency surgery are not cheap. We’re lucky in that we were able to pay for this without too much hardship, but if it becomes a recurring thing that may not remain true. What’s more, the urinary tract obstruction he had does tend to be a recurring thing, and if it happens and it’s not caught in time, it will kill him. Straight up. So we have to watch and make sure he’s not straining to pee or showing any of the other signs of obstruction. Indiana Jones Parrish

But wait, there’s more! He has three medications to take; pain killers, antibiotics and antispasmodics. Happily Jo is all over keeping track of and dispensing that as it would break my brain. Seriously.

Indy also has a cone of shame on, and he can’t quite figure out how to eat or drink normally with it, so we are essentially hand-feeding him (or had been. We’ve recently decided to take the cone off when we are able to supervise him to make sure he’s not licking his incision, and hopefully he’ll feed himself). He’s not eating as much as we’d like (I think partly because of the cone and partly because he doesn’t like his new, expensive, prescription food). But he seems to be in good spirits and has lots of energy (in between painkiller doses, anyway), so I’m tentatively optimistic.

This is more than a little stressful on our other animals too. The other cats have to switch over to the same diet as Indy and they aren’t fans. Neither of them is eating as much as they should be. We can’t really feed them prescription kibble (which I think will help as they will be able to eat when they want, not just at mealtimes) at least until Indiana is out of his cone of shame (middle of next week) and able to drink enough water to make dry food a viable option for him. Even Tre’s (our dog) eating has to be altered because we can’t let him have hard food sitting in his bowl because Indy will steal it, eat it and obstruct again.

I freaking suck at ‘wait and see’ and this is one big-ass case of ‘wait and see’.

I’m not handling it very well. I’m the sort of stressed/depressed right now where all I want to do is sleep. That really isn’t good for NaNoWriMo, November Poem-a-Day, Niteblade, or, ya know, life.

I’m doing the best I can though, and I’m still writing. Not as much as I should be, and I’ve switched NaNo novels again to something that requires a little less thought than Hollow Children, but I’m writing. If Jay Lake can write through all the crap he’s been dealing with over the past five years, and all my friends on Team Thalia can write through the curve balls and hardships life throws their way, then I can write through this.

And besides, when I’m writing, when I’m actually in the middle of the action, then all this just goes away for a little bit. It’s only for a few minutes at a time, but I’ll take it. Oh yes, yes I will.

ETA: I spent the afternoon working on catching up on my NaNo project and I’m currently only about 2,500 words behind. Yay!

 

Fuck Cancer

He Loves Me Not - Photograph by Rhonda ParrishMy mom has been diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. She is trying to stay positive and so am I but my success varies from moment to moment. Sometimes I do very well, but I can fall apart in the blink of an eye. That means my blogging, writing, emailing etc. may be sporadic and random for a little while. I’ll also be canceling my trip to the World Fantasy Convention. I know you’ll understand.

Kindness is one thing that seems to make me crumble right now, so if I take a very long time to reply to your comments, it’s a safe bet that’s why.

Also, while I am an atheist my mother is not. If you are someone who believes in prayer I’m sure she would very much like to be included in yours.

This is tough.

Fuck cancer.