Friday, September 23, 2022

Earth to Thoeba: Hurray for Fall!

Earth to Thoeba: Hurray for Fall!:   I love September. I love summer and fall, but September is the best of both worlds. It's still warm, but not too much so. There's ...

Hurray for Fall!

 



I love September. I love summer and fall, but September is the best of both worlds.

It's still warm, but not too much so. There's more yardwork to do, but because it's cooler, it's easier to do. Don't get me wrong, I love yardwork, but those plus 30 Celsius temperatures can really sap a person's energy. It's time to harvest and reap the rewards of all that spring and summer work. 

I've stopped raking my yard in the fall. Or at least I don't rake too much of them. Someone pointed out how a yard full of leaves is bad for your grass and attracts pests and snow mold. It's true, but I'm not talking about that kind of thing. Mine never gets that bad. 

My neighbor across the street gets the carpet of leaves. They're the people who clear my sidewalks and driveway in the winter. So I rake their tiny lawn clean and put the leaves in my compost. Win/win, and it's the least we can do for them.  

I do my fall cleaning. Like I said, it's a lot cooler outside, but I can still keep my windows open to air things out. Perfect.

Then there's the harvesting and canning. I've already done a batch of canned tomatos and a batch of freezer pickles. The pears are plump this year, and that means I'll spend my evenings making pear bread. It's also a lot of work, but the results are so rewarding. When last I visited my friend Tracey, his mom gave me QUALITY vanilla--the kind you get from Mexico--and I'm excited to try it out. 

Melaida's new business is off to a good start. She'd given me a stack of flyers to put out when she started the business, and today I got them all out. She's got new ones coming soon, and I've already figured out new neighborhoods to hand them out. There's entire blocks in my own region I haven't even been to, not even in my garage sale days. I'm finding that those long walks around the neighborhoods are a lot more pleasant this month.



I'm excited and proud of her, but I just realized I haven't done anything to promote my own work lately. I was thinking I should publish an excerpt of Chasing Monsters for Halloween. Then later, one for Elaina's Fate. maybe a contest. With all the aggravation that went into publishing Elaina's Fate, and the length of time it took to finish it, I stepped back from it, and never really came back. I didn't even hold a contest for it. 

I intend to fix that...soon. There's still a lot going on. I finished the first draft for HER TRUE NAME: VOLUME THREE, but I'm taking a short break on that before I edit. I'll start in October. There's also the anthology that has new stories to add, and truthfully, I need to get all of it organized. At least get all the stories on a single USB key. ( Yeep!) I finished a short story named 'Bad Clown'but it needs work. 

I've got a new short called 'Darkness Encroaches' but I don't like the title. Yet another piece that needs a lot of work.  

I've started work on a eulogy for a friend that has signed up for the MAID program, but that's the only new thing right now, and as you can imagine, it's not fun. 

So, yeah...I'm still hard at work. You can probably expect something new from me next year. Hopefully. We'll see. At least two new books are on their way. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Happy Birthday Grandma

 


My last living grandparent turns one hundred years old tomorrow. I love her so much, and I'd love to celebrate it with her, or at least phone her. So you're asking, why don't I? She's a Jehovah's Witness. 

That sucks a bit. I have to pretend it isn't a big deal. I told her I'd phone her after she turned one hundred years old, because I can't celebrate it. At least not in any obvious ways. 

I think she's amazing. She raised four boys in a time of need. When her husband broke his back, she took on THREE jobs and still kept her house and her children. Egg grader, janitor, newspaper columnist.. She did whatever.

She was the sixth born child, the first born in Canada, when her parents, Walter and Lydia P:ajunen, arrived in Canada. The first two children didn't survive.  They died in Finland, and I think two died on the journey to the new country. Lydia Pajunen became a midwife who delivered over 2000 babies, though older locals said the number was closer to 5000. I'm not sure I believe that for the simple reason that I can't picture Grandma Lydia having the time to raise my grandma, also conceiving  and giving birth to Aunt Toini and being the bread winner in the whole process Two thousand? There's records. FIVE thousand? Can you even picture that kind of number? Though I'm certain that she probably got paid in things like food. Or maybe nothing. All while taking care of a husband with a drinking problem. Maybe she did, maybe she didn't. Maybe she left him on his own while she did whatever she had to. 

Grandma told me a story... She slept between her parents almost always. One morning, she woke up in a different  place, and she had  a new sister.  They told her an angel brought her down from the chimney. My grandmother's first thought was...Why didn't the angel use the door? 

My grandma had four boys. Jerrold, Arnold, Richard (Sandy) and David. Lydia delivered all but Uncle David, who arrived  14 years after my father and at 14 pounds. 

When my father, Sandy, as he was commonly known, died, I was struck by how hard it must be for my grandmother to out live one of her children. She told me, "I used to consider it such a blessing to live this long..." My heart broke her her that day. 

She dreamed of my father. He was wearing a white shirt, so bright, it glowed. He asked her to come outside, She asked him to come in for a cup of coffee. He would not. And she wasn't coming out. It remained that way until she finally woke up,

Don't worry...I didn't out her. My relatives, even the ones who aren't Jehovah's Witnesses never read this blog or anything else I write. I'm a bit of a black sheep and they are religious in one way or another.  

This photo I have of her is the last time she came to Alberta to see everyone, so to speak. She saw my cat, Freya and she said, "Kitty is washing her face. You'll get company."

My uncle, who brought her there, and is a Jehovah's Witness Elder gave her a poisonous glare.  So I said, "Well you're here, aren't you? She's a bit late."

I love my Grandma. She's the last grandparent I have left. She can't call me, so I will call her. On Thursday. 




Friday, July 8, 2022

iListen: Proud of my Bestie

 


My best friend embarked on a new and unusual business, and I couldn't be prouder. She is a professional listener. And why not? There are professional dog walkers and professional cuddlers, why not a professional listener? 

In this day and age, I think it's a fantastic idea. No one listens anymore. No one listens without offering advice and opinions. Have you expressed something on social media, only to be bombarded by advice and ideas or other things you didn't ask for?

 Don't you sometimes just want to vent without someone butting in with an opinion?  Are you sick of being interrupted?  Are your friends and family bored and tired of your so-called whining?  Do people roll their eyes when you need to talk about something? It's becoming all too common. 


It might sound like a luxury, but it's really self-care.

If this sounds a bit like advertising, it kind of is. I'm proud of her and I think it's a great idea. It's my blog and I can say what I like anyway, right? 

I trust her. I know her listening skills, not just because she's my bestie. She has a thoughtfulness that astounds me at times. Not only is she educated in the art of listening, she's simply good at it naturally. She's teaching classes now. She's taught me a lot, and now I'm trying to emulate her. I want to be a better listener.

One of the reasons she's my best friend is because we both share a desire to be heard, and because we give each other that kind of space, She just happens to be WAAAAAY better at it than I am. 

Melaida is self-aware. Her own experience has brought her to this. She knows that everyone in the world has lives and complications of their own and sometimes all you want to do is get it off your chest. She understands that importance. She knows not everything is about her, which I find is a rarity. 




She's not a therapist or psychologist.  She's just there to listen, that's all. Sometimes, that's all you need. I invite you to check it out.  Here's the link : https://ilistencanada.com/

What if, just this once, it was all about YOU? Why should talking about yourself, FOR yourself be selfish,? Not anymore. This has been a long time coming. 

Friday, June 17, 2022

Earth to Thoeba: Mom is Home

Earth to Thoeba: Mom is Home:   Been awhile since I blogged, I know. Sometimes I have trouble finding a good topic. Sometimes my life runs away with me. I'm still wor...

Mom is Home

 


Been awhile since I blogged, I know. Sometimes I have trouble finding a good topic. Sometimes my life runs away with me. I'm still working on more publishing stuff. I need to research how to create a UBL so I can create an author page on Draft2Digital. 

But something else happened that was a bit scary and required a lot of my time. My mother broke her hip. That was freaky. Her walker slipped out from under her and she landed hard on the floor. She tried to get up for two hours before my sister called me, and I drove to their place to help. 

Why was she on the floor so long? Because my mother is stubborn and thought she could get up herself. When that didn't work, they called me. Apparently, they thought that I could just help lift Mom off the floor and all would be fine. It was obvious by the screaming and Mom's inability to move her left leg that we needed to call 911. 

So, yeah...broken hip. Surgery was immediate, recovery took longer than expected due to the arthritis in Mom's back and diabetes. It's been just over a month, and we finally got her home. 

I didn't say anything on Facebook. I guess it was about Mom's privacy, but also because I was pretty sure it was no big deal and I didn't want the sympathy. Our relatives freaked out a bit--telling me and my sister that everything will be fine and not to worry. The medical community will give her the best care and she'll be fine--Don't Worry! Really, DON'T WORRY!!  Medical science has come a long way, and are you and Jody okay? DON'T WORRY!! 

Yeah, we weren't worried. Tough old broad, my mother. She's dealt with arthritis for decades, survived cancer and a stroke...pneumonia, car accident. Not like a broken bone is going to take her out. Not even a broken hip. 

I'll admit though, I stayed quiet because I think I was holding my breath.  Hope for the best, but brace for the worst. 

But now that she's home and doing so much better, I thought I'd share a story about her, one of my favorites. 


                                          *                                  *                                      *

I was twelve years old and stayed home from school because I had laryngitis. It was around Christmas time. I remember this because there were non-stop toy commercials on TV. 

My mother brought me mushroom soup and Neo Citran to sooth my throat. Just then, a My Little Pony commercial came on. My mother looked on in irritation and disgust as the jingle sang, 

"I'm a My Little Pony Mommy..."

"That's so stupid!" My mother complained, "How can a little girl be a Mommy to a toy pony?"

"I could be," I said. "I'm a little hoarse."

My mother gave me the STRANGEST look. She had a slight smile on her face, like she was amused. But her eyes were wide and focused with murderous intent. She looked like she wanted to kill me for that joke.  I don't blame her, but the juxtaposition of the expression made me laugh out loud. 

Unfortunately, my laughter came out a wheezing bark.  I tried to stop, but the more I heard myself, the harder I laughed. Remember when Luke Skywalker is attacked by the Sandpeople in Star Wars? HUUUUUR, HURR, HURR, HURR, HURRR! Imagine high-pitched version of that for a solid twenty minutes. It was quite painful! I couldn't breathe and I began to wonder if it was possible to actually die from laughter. 



I covered my ears, that made it worse. I covered my mouth, it didn't help. My throat was killing me and tears flooded my face. And I'm LOUD. My mother's lips pursed up like she sucked a lemon and she kept saying, "That's enough now." But I couldn't stop!  

Eventually, I ran out of energy. My fit of giggles dissipated into hiccups and sighs. I was tired, sweaty, and my throat was raw.  I laid there, spent. My throat needed soothing in a bad way. I struggled to sit up, pick up my spoon. 

My mother placed her hand on my shoulder and said, "Donna, Sweetie. It wasn't that funny." 

Oh God, I started again. I don't remember much after that. I may have passed out. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Excerpt from Elaina's Fate

 

What's this? Elaina's Fate has been out for two months and I haven't published an excerpt? Shame on me! I intend to remedy that right now. 

So here for your reading enjoyment are the first three pages of Elaina's Fate. 



CHAPTER ONE



Forgive them, Elaina. “ My younger sister Jodian curls her arm through mine as we stroll Bane’s packed dirt streets. It stinks of blood, grease, and manure piled upon filthy layers of fear and resentment. You can almost taste the bitterness. If Jodian notices, she ignores it as she does so many awful things. “They can’t help their jealousy.”

Emerald silk drapes from her ivory shoulders, complimenting her shining brown curls, her jade and gold eyes. As per antiquated Bane custom, her dress length brushes her ankles.

I pale against her beauty. I’m all sinews and straw hair. Where her dress emphasizes her looks, my skirts of midnight blue wash me out. My muscles strain at my sleeves in an embarrassingly masculine way, but I’m skinny everywhere else. My mouth is too small and grim, and my eyes are dull as Bane’s cloudy skies. I always resemble a scarecrow. Today I feel like a lampshade.

I don’t envy her loveliness. My sister is a treasure, and I won’t deny her perfection. Not today, not any day.

I know,” But the villager’s derision often gets under my cowl. My work as the Master’s Assassin not only ensures the safety of my family, but theirs as well. Yet I am greeted with suspicion and disparaging glares. I can’t help my anger. “But it’s your birthday. Can’t they keep their dirty looks to themselves for once?”

Jodian shrugs. “They don’t know you as we do.”

True. They don’t know anything about me.

My name is Elaina. I spy and kill for Master Issac Smith. Bastard that he is, he’s kept my family sheltered and fed for the seven years I have been in his service. Of course it came with a price. Everything in the world of Phaeton comes with a price, but especially in the village of Bane.

Mind your souls and pray to the Energy you don’t end up here. This is where the Energy, the so-called ‘God’ puts spirits It can’t control, save, or rehabilitate. This is where the truly wicked find themselves. We are the fallen, and this is Hell.

We should get manicures.” Jodian tosses her hair and smiles hard at the old woman who spits at my feet.

If that is what you want.” I glare at the shrivelled bitch. She had the nerve to glare back. Perhaps she has forgotten fear in her age-addled brain. Perhaps I should re-educate her.

Absolutely. I mean look at your hands.” Jodian emphasizes her point by bringing my clenched fist up to her critical eye.

My hands are scarred, dry and ugly to behold, and they always look dirty. Vanities such as manicures are not for the likes of me. Still, I let her drag me into Maxine’s. It’s her day, after all.

Jodian chooses pink nail polish, as I knew she would. I choose a flat black. It will blend better with—

Really, Elaina?” My sister scowls at my practicality. “Why would you pick something so dull? Does everything you wear involve some kind of camouflage?”

Fine,” I roll my eyes. “You choose then.”

I shouldn’t have said that. I watch, uneasy as her index finger dwells over pinks, purples and reds. All the prissy colours.

This one.” I breathe a sigh of relief. Metallic Electric Blue is better than Grape Bubblegum whatever-the-hell she likes. “It matches your dress.”

When we arrange our skirts and sit in the leather chairs, I can’t help but hear the conversations going on in the back as my sister settles in beside me. They’re arguing about who will work on my nails.

You’re the newest.”

You do her. It’s your shop....” The whispers are harsh.

No one wants to serve me. It’s not as though I’m going to stab everyone if I’m not satisfied with my manicure. What would be the point of that?

Maybe it’s because your hands are such a mess.” Jodian says. She’s trying to be playful, but the arm rest squeaks in her grip.

I stare at the black and white tiled floor, biting my lip, peeling chapped skin away with my teeth until I taste blood. “Maybe I should just kill them for being rude.” I’m not sure I’m joking.

Sudden silence. They hear us as well. The staff meeting ends, and Maxine herself shoves a young woman toward me, which earns the owner a look of such hatred I’m guessing I won’t be the one spilling blood. I’ll probably know by next week. Death is commonplace here.

For all her animosity toward Maxine, the woman attending me is nervous. She pushes my cuticles back with extra care, and trembles as she applies the polish. Sigh. Fear is tedious. There is no conversation, no sound but the occasional drip from the faucets.

In my day, in a different incarnation on Earth, in a country named Canada, we had no such thing as ‘manicures’. Nothing but trees and foliage. Naught but hard labour and harder men. My fingernails were cracked and bleeding from lye, splinters and other work related wounds. I didn’t leave the splendour of France only to become an unwilling slave to a dense husband in a frigid forest.

My marriages were short. My punishment is eternal. Such is the blessing of The Energy.

I’m so often alone; I have ample time to ponder my existence on the world of Phaeton. Everyone does, I imagine. Every time we are reborn, we are reminded why we are here, and that there will be no escape. Yet another gift from The Energy. The memories, the dreams.

Jodian knows the horrors she has done. She still speaks with an accent sometimes. Her voice is soft, but her words are abrupt and peppered with buzzing sounds. Your handz are zuch a mess. She was a German, and tells me that there was a great war, but speaks rarely of it because she is ashamed. I can’t imagine her being cruel, but she assures me she was.

A man bursts through the door, nearly slamming it off the hinges in his hurry, and everyone startles.

He narrows his eyes at the blubbering Maxine, her eyes are wide and bloodshot with terror. She recognizes one who wears the armor of the Elite Guard. He wears the silhouette of a howling wolf’s head on his breastplate and oversized shoulder pads painted blood red. His hand tightens on his sword.

Elaina,” he demands, no need for pleasantries. “She is here?”


I hope you enjoy it. I will remember to publish another excerpt soon.