I was offline yesterday doing stuff and making yummy food for the Husband-of-Awesome’s Birthday.
I DID pick and do a lot of cursing at Photoshop for yesterday’s picture on Tuesday. (I’m a superduper n00b on Photoshop, so the cursing is expected). I particularly chose that picture because Scott pointed the scene out to me while we were wandering around Marblehead the day before the big Salem Open Market, and I remember him saying something to the effect of “that’s a story, right there,” and I agreed and snapped the picture on my phone. I titled them both “A Story to Tell.”
Today’s pair comes from our adventures in Japan. We went to see the Giant Buddha in Kamakura, and this was a scene wandering around the whole temple area. It was gorgeous! It was also March, so very early spring. Only a few cherry trees were in bloom. These I titled “Conversations with Gods.”
Please do not share these photos; I am not finished and sharing them can hurt my future plans for these pieces. Thank you!
I’m taking poetic license on the definition of “date,” as I often do. It is the same day from the time I wake up until I go to bed. So there.
This is a quick post, at least. I had this pairing in my mind for a while because this is a picture that has remained with me since I took it. For a little over ten years, I volunteered for the Bay State Equine Rescue. It was a wonderful experience that gifted me with my own adopted horse, Calico Silver. This picture far predates Calico, though, and comes from my early years at the rescue. One morning, when I came in for my volunteer shift, lo and behold, there were three new horses! It was an Appaloosa family: a stallion (soon to be gelded), a mare, and their baby! I happened to have my camera with me (well before camera phones were a thing, so a miracle in and of itself!), so I snapped pictures. And this picture of the stallion, Metro, was one that stayed in my mind as striking with his expression and the wind in his hair. For the final piece, I will likely use the black and white (which was quite some stressful playing in PhotoShop since all my other photo editing has just been on my phone, itself!), but I wanted to share all his gorgeousness here!
The poem is also in its rough draft form, too. My aim is to compose the poems this month, and then go back and edit later.
Please do not share these photos; I am not finished and sharing them can hurt my future plans for this piece. Thank you!
For National Poetry Month, I decided to challenge myself with an ekphrastic poem every day.
What’s an ekphrastic poem? It’s a poem written about a picture or work of art–or inspired by a picture / work of art–meant to expand upon the meaning of the piece it’s in response to.
I’ve had the honor and privilege to be part of the Blackstone Valley Art Association‘s Art-Poetry Pairing for the past three years, and I’ve loved working with artists. This year, I participated as both artist and poet. You can see this year’s parings at this link.
So, this year, I decided to celebrate National Poetry Month by doing my own pairings of my hobby photos and poems. Some days the poem will be the inspiration, other days the picture will be.
Today is my first full day home after attending Conbust, one of the regular conventions I attend. It was amazing, as always, and it’s the inspiration for this particular pairing. I had an idea of taking a picture of my duffel bag spilled first and writing a poem about recovery, about self-care and permission to recover–particularly after several excellent panels discussing invisible disabilities and the challenges of neurodiversity.
Instead, with the photo plan in mind, I wrote the poem first–a very different poem than I planned–and then did the shoot, chose the pictures, and edited them a little. The poem, however, is unedited and will be edited. Most of my poems are handwritten first. So here are the two pictures I am deciding between for the pairing and a photo of the VERY ROUGH draft of the poem.
Please do not share these photos; I am not finished and sharing them can hurt my future plans for this piece. Thank you!
This is the biggest convention I do all year, and one of the most insane. I…can’t even measure the excitement / anxiety level right now…
Also, I ought to be in bed because I’ve got a Dark O’Clock flight… soon.
So, REAL QUICK, here are a few places you’ll find me at DragonCon… outide of the Westin bar in the evenings, the Voltaire concert, the Cruxshadows concert… buying band stuff, and possibly stalking some actors from The Expanse. And John Barrowman. Maybe.
If you’re there, hopefully I will see you!
Title: Readings in Honor of Kathryn Fernquist Hinds Time: Fri 07:00 pm Location: Techwood – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour) Description: Writers & friends celebrate the life of author, bard, poet, & teacher Kathryn Hinds with reminiscences & readings from her work.
Title: The Women of Doctor Who Time: Fri 08:30 pm Location: Galleria 5 – Hilton (Length: 1 Hour) Description: From companions & villains to directors, writers, & producers (and soon the Doctor herself), women have had a lasting impact on the show over the past 54 years. Their changing roles & indelible footprints will be discussed.
Title: Steampunk/Urban Fantasy/High Fantasy, etc. Time: Sat 11:30 am Location: Embassy CD – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour) Description: Is Steampunk loosing its steam? Is Urban Fantasy on the wane? Does anyone read High Fantasy any more? This panel discusses the many subgenres of SF/F and how to keep readers interested.
Title: 200 Years of Women in SF Time: Sun 11:30 am Location: Embassy AB – Hyatt (Length: 2 Hours 30 Min) Description: In 1818, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. Taking that as a starting point, our panelists will discuss women in SF, how they have fared, who they are, and how things have changed over the years. Presented in conjunction with the Diversity in SF track. 90 minutes.
Title: Ursula K. Leguin: Honoring a Grand Master Time: Sun 05:30 pm Location: International South – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour) Description: The field lost a great voice last year when Ursula K. Leguin passed. We will be honoring the author of The Left Hand of Darkness and Wizard of Earthsea (among others) by discussing her work and life.
Title: Where Do I Begin? Time: Sun 07:00 pm Location: Embassy CD – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour) Description: You’ve decided to write a novel. Where do you begin? Let our pros tell you how to get started on that novel…and keep going.
Three months into the year, and it’s a FOURTH convention schedule I’m posting! Woohoo!
(At some point my personal blog posts will be more than convention schedules; I promise! I have thoughts on a variety of things and some health updates, too…)
Anyway, I know it sounds redundant, but this is another beloved convention of mine! Conbust!
Conbust is a student-run feminist SF/F convention held at Smith College every spring. I found out about Conbust through Broad Universe, not realizing that such a gem was basically in my back yard. (I grew up in Springfield, about 15-20 minutes from Northampton.)
I have a pretty ambitious schedule this year at Conbust, so if you’re looking to follow me to all my panels (and they are pretty awesome panels, so you might want to), make sure you are loaded up on your favorite coffee or energy product! I’m scheduled in the very first panel slot, the very last—with eight panels in between!
Also, I’ll be traveling to and from the convention with my friend and editing colleague, Suzanne Lahna, who has their first novella out. They’ll be on a bunch of excellent panels, too. Find out more on their blog!
Since Conbust is on a college campus, I won’t be hosting a party here, and we don’t have either a Broad Universe or New England Horror Writers table here, so it’s all panels and catching up with some of the great people I only get to see at this convention. I’m excited!
Oh—quick note, these aren’t the official convention descriptions. They’re mine—and subject to change depending on the audience / panelists. I’m also not listing the panelists here because there were some last minute changes that I don’t know got finalized… but just check the guest list! I’m on panels with almost all of these spectacular people!
Without further ado, here’s where I’ll be:
Friday, March 23; 5:00 PM; Room 101 – Fandom and Criticism
Can you criticize what you love? Should you? Why is it important?
Friday, March 23; 6:00 PM; Room 201 – Hero, Protagonist
Discussing writing the protagonist hero, or analyzing them.
This was my favorite panel of last year’s Conbust. Actual reenactment fighters play out writer battle scenes! Of course, now I need to figure out which gods’ awful fight scene of mine needs the most work / will provide the most entertainment to the audience…
Saturday, March 24; 10:00 AM; Room 101 – Suspension of Disbelief
What throws a reader out of a story? How can writers avoid these pitfalls? What’s the term “Flying Snowman” (coined by John Scalzi) and what does it mean to writers and readers?
Saturday, March 24; 11:00 AM; Room 109 – Freelancing: More Ways to Make Money Writing
This panel will discuss the ways people can make a living working with words. No, it’s not easy, but it’s also not impossible. See if this career works for you or if you want to stick to the day job.
Saturday, March 24; 2:00 PM; Room 204 – Everything but the Writing
Note above panel on making money while writing? That’s Making Money Writing 101. This is Making Money Writing 102 and talks about the business decisions you’ll have to make if you decide you want to make money while writing.
Fairy tales is my jam. So is writing for kids. This is a thing that far predates my efforts, though, so I love studying and talking about it. Come discover all the nerdy, geeky goodness children’s fairy tales have to offer!
Saturday, March 24; 5:00 PM; Room 109 – Fairies
Rather apropos that this is in the same room immediately following Children’s Fairy Tales. Except the fey are NOT just for children. In fact, they can be kind of predatory on children—or humans in general. And they go waaaay beyond “fairy tales.”
It is another last minute convention posting for me because: deadlines… and other things.
This will be my first StokerCon and I’m super excited about it, so if you’re going to this amazing horror and literature convention—where they award the prestigious Stoker Awards—come and find me!
I will be splitting my non-panel time between the New England Horror Writers, where I and many other fine writers and friends of mine will be selling fabulous books, and the Broad Universe information table, where members will be signing books after their readings and the awesome Larissa Glasser and I will be there to answer questions about our beloved non-profit supporting women in horror.
Outside of those two places, here’s where I’ll be:
Reading with Cory Cone and Larry Hinkle. There will be chocolate—it is packed. Yes, I’m bribing you. This is the first reading slot of the convention. Please don’t let us be lonely? <3
Saturday, March 3; 2:00 PM; State Suite C – Fairy Tales: A Child’s First Taste of Horror
with Leslie Thomas (M), Edward Ahern, April Grey, Gwendolyn Kiste, and Charie LaMarr
A reader’s first encounter with horror often comes in the guide of fairy tales. Children’s stories and nursery rhymes are full of trolls, evil stepparents, witches, giants, and other terrifying characters. Our panelists will discuss these stories as the roots of horror, the brutality done to children in the tales, and the perpetrators. Where do these tales overlap with folk lore? And what do they say about society?
Saturday, March 3; 3:30…
I have a pitch session that I’m super excited about! Wish me luck!! <3
Saturday, March 3; 7:00 PM; Grand Ballroom – Bram Stoker Awards Banquet and Awards Ceremony
Saturday, March 3; 10:30 PM; L’Apogee – Bram Stoker Awards After Party Cocktail Reception
Sunday, March 4; 11:00 AM; Salon 2 – YA Horror – Something for Everyone
withJG Faherty,Elizabeth Massie, James Moore, and Daniel Waters
Interest in Young Adult horror is growing by leaps and bounds–and it’s not only for teens anymore. Join our panelists in a look at what makes YA horror so popular, why its popularity spans across age groups, and why the lines are so blurry between YA, new adult, and adult-oriented books.
There it is! It’s not as jam-packed as some conventions, but that’s okay because I’m looking forward to thoroughly enjoying myself by attending some panels and catching up with friends!
I have been under a bunch of deadlines for editing and writing… and had a bunch of fresh new health issues pop up over the past couple of weeks…but despite being late posting this, I am SUPER EXCITED to be returning to Boskone this year! And DAMN, look at that great schedule!
And if I’m not on a panel… I’ll likely be found at the Broad Universe table in the Dealer’s Room…
or, if it’s Friday Night, I’ll be throwing the Broad Universe Party again! Look for us on the hotel Party Floor!
Outside of tabling and partying, here’s my fabulous schedule:
Tarot and Divining Fantastic Fiction
Format: Discussion Group
16 Feb 2018, Friday 17:00 – 18:00, Lewis (Westin)
Author and Tarot guru Trisha Wooldridge leads a discussion on Tarot, fortune-telling, and the art of the seer in fantasy and science fiction. Trisha will provide a live demonstration.
Folktales Within Poetry
16 Feb 2018, Friday 18:00 – 19:00, Marina 3 (Westin)
From “The Lady of Shalott” to “Goblin Market” to The Iliad, some quite engaging poems are inspired by folklore, legends, or myths. What other examples can we add — perhaps from non-European poetry? What do folk sources bring that an original story might lack? Our panelists will discuss (and perhaps read) some of their favorites — what are yours?
Theodora Goss (M), Jane Yolen, C. S. E. Cooney, John Chu, Trisha Wooldridge
Group Reading: Fiction for Kids and Young Adults
17 Feb 2018, Saturday 12:00 – 13:00, Griffin (Westin)
Boskone presents a special group reading for lovers of children’s and young adult fiction. Our authors provide a range of stories and topics that are sure to delight and entertain!
Kristy Acevedo, Daniel P. Dern, Erin M. Hartshorn (M), Sarah Jean Horwitz, Justin Key, Trisha Wooldridge
This is a special group reading designed to generate a larger crowd in order to introduce more people to the work highlighted in the session. There may only be 5 chairs at the table. If so, we ask that the moderator has a couple extra chairs moved to the table area. The group reading is scheduled for 50 minutes and each reader has 5-minutes to read. Please be sure to time your reading to ensure that you don’t go over time. The “moderator” is assigned to welcome everyone to the reading and announce that each reader will introduce herself/himself along with their piece as their turn to read comes up. If there is time available, please open the room to questions.
Border of the Unknown
17 Feb 2018, Saturday 17:00 – 18:00, Marina 1 (Westin)
Much fine fantastika involves crossing the boundary between the known and the unknown — especially that uneasy border between the village and the trees. Let’s look at the long history of that great unknown, the enchanted forest. Why has it pushed and pulled at people’s imaginations since ancient times? To find out, let’s stroll away from safety and into the woods, as the liminal light fades and the shadows gather all under the boughs unbowed …
Theodora Goss, Errick Nunnally (M), Trisha Wooldridge, Dana Cameron, Gerald L. Coleman
Live from Boskone: A special selection of tall tales as told by our program participants — plus audience members. All show off their open mic skills in the third annual Boskone Open Mic extravaganza. This year features the myths and legends of yesterday, today, and tomorrow! Each participant contributes his/her most legendary performance — a 5-minute story, poem, song, skit, interpretive dance, or whatever!
OPTIONAL: For extra appeal, feel free to come dressed as your favorite mythic or legendary character.
The Rules: Boskone members are invited to join our participants in the open mic by signing up for one of the six open slots at the door to the event, which opens for sign-ups at 7:30 p.m. Each performer is given a firm 5-minute time limit (max), including setup time. So a quick transition between acts is key. Please no profanity: DragonsLair is within hearing distance.
Elaine Cunningham (M), Lauren Roy, Kenneth Schneyer (M), C. S. E. Cooney, Carlos Hernandez, Gabriel Erkard, E. Ardell, Benjamin Newman, Roberta Rogow, Don Pizarro, Trisha Wooldridge, Mary Ellen Wessels, Edward L. Stauff
Neil Gaiman Anniversary Reads
18 Feb 2018, Sunday 13:00 – 14:00, Harbor II (Westin)
It’s a notable year for Neil Gaiman, with publication anniversaries for his engaging, ironic dark fantasies The Graveyard Book (10th) and The Ocean at the End of the Lane (5th) — plus from his lighter side, Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion (30th). Let’s gab about his novels and stories, comics and characters, movies and TV adaptations and rock-star aura.
Bracken MacLeod (M), Jane Yolen, Justin Key, John Langan, Trisha Wooldridge
I love doing conventions, and I’m always really thrilled to return to the Arisia family each year!
And look… I am actually remembering to post my schedule so people can find me!
During hours I’m not on panels or giving workshops, there is an excellent chance you will find me at the Broad Universe table in the Dealer’s Room. I have books! It makes me super happy when people buy said books and ask for signatures. <3
So, outside of the Broad Universe table, here’s where you can find me THIS weekend at ARISIA!
Friday, January 12, 8:30 PM, Room 404 – Party Not Found? 2 (Electric Boogaloo)
I’m hosting the Broad Universe party at Arisia, and they put me in Room 404 again—and even a technophobe like me can make bad puns. Do find us and enjoy great food, great stories, and meet some awesome Broads!
Saturday, January 13, 10:00 AM, Adams – Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
(I’m waking up early after throwing a party for y’all!) Come discover your new favorite writer as members of Broad Universe read short excerpts from their work. Each writer has just a few minutes to show you what she’s capable of! We offer chocolate and the chance to win prizes. Broad Universe is an international organization that supports women writers, editors, and publishers. NOTE: Not all authors may be in attendance for the entire time slot. Other members of Broad Universe not listed may be reading.
Saturday, January 13, 7:00 PM, Douglas – Rewriting Fairy Tales: Updating our Mythologies
(I’m moderating!) With anthologies such as _The Starlit Wood_, along with many authors choosing to rewrite and rework old fairy tales, what is the purpose of rewriting our myths, or writing new ones? What can we learn about ourselves when we bring these old stories into today? What is the purpose of creating new fairy tales?
Sunday, January 14, 11:30 AM, Bulfinch – Writing & Tarot
Last year we filled this up, so this year you gotta pre-sign up at PROGRAM NEXUS. In any case, I love teaching this hands-on workshop that talks about Tarot as both a tool for divination and a tool for your writing.
Sunday, January 14, 4:00 PM, Alcott – Tricks for Self-Editing
I’m thrilled to be giving this workshop again too, and this is another that fills up quickly, so pre-sign up at PROGRAM NEXUS. Why should you sign-up and come to this workshop? I’ve edited over 50 books for multiple publishing houses; I teach writing and editing; and I put a lot of effort into not making people cry. And what I can teach you will make you a better writer because most of writing is editing.
Sunday, January 14, 7:00 PM, Independence – Everything But the Writing
This is Trisha’s killing the workshops year at Arisia! And it’s another one you should pre-sign up for at PROGRAM NEXUS. I’ve been in business as “A Novel Friend” since 2003—and I have the tax forms to prove it. This is a look at the business side of making a career as a writer or editor, whether you want to stick to fiction or branch out into journalism, non-fiction, or “other” realms.
I also write poetry! And so do a bunch of other awesome folks. Do you? Join us or come listen. If you want to read, come early to sign up for a slot.
Monday, January 15, 1:00 PM, Alcott – How to Train Your Dragon & Other Writing Issues
(Because animal stories! And as an editor, I have been known to leave…detailed…comments on misuse of animals in Track Changes.) Whether you’re writing horses and dragons in a medieval setting, or having your space hero(ine) bond with a psychic cat or flying banshee, incorporating animals into your fiction requires knowledge of how real-life animals act. Our panel of experts will discuss how to write real and unreal animals, what they eat, how often they need to rest, how they act around humans, other animals and machinery; and other interesting tidbits which can bring your sci-fantasy stories to life.
I’ve been a bunny mom for more than half my life. Vash the Stampede, named by Scott for how noisy his thumps and binkies were as a baby, was the most recent. He and his brother, Cameron, who passed over three years ago, were the fourth and fifth bunnies I’ve had my life. As anyone who has pets as part of their family knows, every animal has its own personality. Each family pet weaves their own story into the family tapestry.
Vash and Cameron were part of a litter left at Whip-O-Will Stables, where Calico lives. Cameron was an orange bunny who I named after a character I played in an RPG and who was in the first short story I had published, co-written with my friend Christy Tohara, in the second Bad-Ass Faeries anthology. When I brought them home about six months after my Loki-bun passed (at the tenacious age of 13), Scott had just gotten back from Taiwan and wasn’t particularly thrilled about more rabbits. But I invited him to name the black one.
There was a fair amount of drama between the two boys loving and hating each other, getting neutered and having to get re-introduced and bonded. By the last year of Cameron’s life, they were bonded again and living as most of my rabbits did—wandering around the house free during the evening, living in a double-decker bunny condo full of hay and water and toys when we weren’t home to keep an eye on them. Nylis the Cat tolerated them, and they her.
I found Cameron dead in the litter box, curled up as if he’d just taken a nap, one evening after I’d gotten home from work. His eyes were closed and everything. Vash was sitting, hunched up, on the same floor. All the other orange bunnies from the litter had passed; they all had some heart issue.
Vash actually seemed to bloom more after Cameron died. He seemed to prefer being the only bunny. He loved attention. He loved pets. He loved stretching his whole body along the table legs, blocking the path from the den to the living room, next to the marble the wood stove is on. He would occasionally tease the cat by running at her and zooming under her or hopping over her with a proud thump—a thunderous affair that resonated his name. Occasionally, they would lay down near each other and play the “I’m comfier than you” game, where they luxuriously cleaned themselves to let each other know they felt the other posed no threat.
When Sue Lahna moved in for six months, he found an extra special friend. He’d run to her whenever she was downstairs and he was out. He’d demand more pets from her, grabbing at her pant legs and head-butting her ankles full force until she would pet him. Sue totally got him and would crouch on the floor and pet him for a long time.
In the past few months, Vash started demanding even more pets—and actually being cool with getting picked up and snuggled on my chest. I remember Loki and Rhetta buns also began to want actual snuggles as they got older. And when I took him to the vet, the vet told me he was showing quite a bit of aging—which was normal. Most of the larger-breed bunnies live to only 5 or 6 years old. And we were pretty sure he was part “meat rabbit”, which also have shorter lifespans—they’re bred to be slaughtered; they’re bodies aren’t meant to sustain their size for a long time.
The thing with rabbits—and most pets—is they work very hard to hide illness. It’s part of their natural instincts. In the wild, they don’t want to draw prey to warrens, they don’t want to be driven out, either, until they are ready to die on their own.
When I put Vash to bed after my pre-Thanksgiving prep, I noticed his food bowl hidden under the hay, untouched from breakfast. That worried me, but he’d just snagged a bunch of craisins I’d dropped while making bread and stuffing, and he quickly took the treats I offered, so left him some broccoli, his favorite, and figured I’d see how he was doing in the morning. In the morning, the broccoli was untouched, as were the pellets and the rest of the hay. We took him out to check him over. His bum was clean, his stomach was soft (no impaction) and we couldn’t feel anything petting him. So, we put him on the ground and noticed he was hopping awkwardly. His head was at kind of an angle, but didn’t look like head tilt. It just looked…off. We picked him back up again and checked his face and neck and head even closer. We found a hard lump under his jaw.
Of course… it was Thanksgiving. No vet place was open and people were coming over. I gave him a head massage in case it was a sinus infection—Loki had a lot of sinus issues—and that seemed to help. He ate a bunch of craisins and a couple of treats. We took note of his water and more craisins in his food bowl, and figured we’d check him after people left. We even decided to let him wander around while people were here because the rug was comfy and under the kitchen table was his favorite place. He asked for pets a few times, then retreated back to the far side of the table. Normal behavior.
I left our vet a message that day, hoping they could squeeze him in the next.
After people left, we checked him again. He hadn’t had any water, and we knew that water was the most important thing, so we used a clean animal medicine syringe and gave him a few ounces of water. After I brought my mom back home, I picked up bananas—another favorite of his and something soft that we figured wouldn’t irritate that hard “whatever it is” in his mouth. He ate about half a banana that night, and we gave him more water via syringe.
The vet called at 7:30 AM and couldn’t fit Vash in until 5:00 PM. I took the appointment and spent the day trying to get him to eat soft foods and drink more water. He was rather feisty for getting into his crate, a good sign.
We were the last patients of the vet that night. Our vet, Dr. Trom said she could see puss in the back of his mouth, and it looked angry read, so it was most likely an infected abscess. With rabbits, the abscesses often also held Pasteurella, a virus that can kill in a very short time. Most rabbits are carriers of Pasteurella; it kills about 25% of bunnies right out (Lady Anne, my second bunny, died from it), about 50 % spend the later years of their lives with mild symptoms (both Rhetta and Loki were like that); and 25% never get it or never show any symptoms of being carriers of it. And they can be carriers of it for years, and then tiny cut or abscess or anything can cause it to flare up. We’d caught the abscess early, so the doctor scheduled surgery to remove it for the next Thursday.
Dr. Trom stayed late showing Scott and me how to feed Vash Critical Care formula for rabbits (a liquefied vitamin- and calorie-heavy mush) via syringe and how to administer water subcutaneously. She also gave us pain medicine to be fed via syringe. She said if he stopped eating or anything got worse, to call the office and insist we speak to her directly, and she’d fit us in for emergency surgery.
That night, Vash ate his entire serving and more with the syringe easily, and he was doing well. The next morning, he wasn’t as excited about the food…and with just the two of us, it took about an hour to coax him. (And here I give my thanks to all the Small Business Saturday folks and the bookstore for giving me some leeway as I was running super late.)
That evening, we gave him some food with his pain medicine. He didn’t eat much, but we figured it had been 24 hours since the vet had given it to him yesterday, so he was likely hurting. We let him rest and then later gave him his IV measure of water… a somewhat scary endeavor that requires a needle to be injected just right into the scruff. He was super patient for that and then hung out with Scott and I watching TV for about an hour. Then he started getting antsy, so we put him in front of his cage in case he needed to use the litter box. He hobbled slowly to the dining room, instead, and lay against the kitchen table leg, his favorite place. We figured the water was not comfortable, so we let him relax for a little over another hours before we tried to feed him.
When we went to feed him, we started getting more of an idea things were wrong. He really didn’t want to eat. He made soft little whines and kept spitting the food back out. When the vet had fed him, it had been before the IV, so we figured maybe he was still uncomfortable and sore from the water. So, we let him rest another hour.
He hadn’t moved from the spot we put him down. But we knew he needed food. Bunny digestive systems require food moving through them regularly; that’s why bunny families are told to always, always, always have hay available.
When I picked him up, his eye didn’t look very focused and he made more soft whining sounds. Bunnies, as a rule, don’t make vocalize. They grunt when they’re angry, occasionally chirp with the grunt if they’re particularly annoyed, but otherwise most of their communication is non-vocal. Thumps, ear position, posture are their main ways to “talk.” They also scream when they are terrified.
When we tried to feed him, he whined more and kept spitting out the food or letting it dribble. He swallowed a few times, which gave me some hope, but he didn’t come close to eating what he should. And he was clacking his teeth—another sign that bunnies are in pain or distressed.
By this time, it was a little after midnight. We put him on the floor and petted him, which seemed to calm him more. Occasionally I’d try to offer the syringe, but he really didn’t want it. The vet’s office was long closed. And the nearest emergency options were each about an hour away—and one, Angel, had not been particularly great about dealing with my other rabbits. (In fact, we completely ignored the advice of one doctor for Miss Rhetta about surgery and she lived three years longer than he said she would.)
Of course, picking him up again, shoving him in a carrier or even carrying him would add stress and a lot more pain. Car rides are terrifying for all animals, and so is being restrained as you have to do for their protection. And it was cold outside.
It’s a tough choice. Do you take that chance of making their last hours even more miserable for the potential of saving their lives…or do you just wait and be with them to comfort? And I’d be lying if I said it was entirely a choice; part of the “decision” was also feeling paralyzed with the pain and fear that whatever we did, it could be the wrong choice.
When rabbits reach critical condition, there is little time for anything. If they’re going to die, it’s a matter of a few short hours…if even that…from the time they start showing signs of severe pain or lethargy. For Lady Anne, the first rabbit who died, I didn’t know. We’d admitted her to the ER (also Angel), they’d sent us home, and we’d gotten the call that she had passed before we even got home. (We didn’t even get to claim her body…) For Miss Rhetta, she’d shown signs of lethargy that morning, I’d called the vet, brought her in immediately, Dr. Trom had taken her to weigh, and she’d died on the scale. Dr. Trom had handed her back to me and let me hold her quietly in a secluded corner, crying, till someone could bring us home.
Loki had been a somewhat exception to the rule. He’d given us a few scares with lethargy for months, and then would come back. He’d been “back” and at regular energy, eating, drinking, pooping, and peeing levels when I’d left for a very long convention trip. Morning after my arrival at the house of my friend, where I’d been staying, I’d gotten the call from my then-housemate that she’d found him dead that morning. That’s only somewhat of an exception because, as mentioned above, animals often wait till their alone to finally pass.
Vash, that last night, from 1:00 AM onward, would alternately snuggle next to my foot and writhe forward and backward, not quite in control of his body. He would cry, grind his teeth, and then settle as I stroked his face, his ears, and his side. He was a people bunny. He loved the carpet. He loved being touched. Scott was alternately stroking my head and back and looking things up as I would spit them out, searching for any straws we could find that might let us help him. Finally, a little after 2:00 AM, he had another set of the forward-backward spasms, then flopped, nose first (as rabbits would normally do when they are happy/relaxed) against my foot. He wasn’t crying, he wasn’t tooth-chattering, but he wasn’t well. I could tell. I knew. I knew that was it. So I just kept petting and petting and petting until I couldn’t feel him breathing any more. And then I probably petted him another good fifteen or twenty minutes because I didn’t know what else to do…
Rather, I knew, but I couldn’t do anything else. Back of my mind was bury him now or in the morning, if morning what to do with the body, remember a layer of stones to keep animals from digging him up, shroud him in the shirt in the cage… But that was a dull buzz. Forefront of my mind was the soft fur beneath my hand and how still he was.
Scott, earning his Husband-of-Awesome title for the millionth time over, actually dug the grave for me despite being exhausted and sore from fixing the water heater earlier in the day. I helped some, but he’s still far stronger than I am. We did bury Vash that night. I did wrap him in the shirt I’d put into the cage to perhaps make him more comfortable, and we did remember the layer of stones. Scott actually gathered some extras. While I was wrapping him, I tried to close his eyes—like you see people do to corpses on TV and in movies. Apparently that doesn’t work the same for animals, so he was “looking” at me while I wrapped him. I don’t know if it’s writers brain or just my own hyper-analytical means of dealing with grief that made me notice that.
I spent today…well, mostly sleeping. And then cleaning out the cage, the carriers, and whatnot. I’m not ready for another bunny, definitely not any time soon. I lit a stick of temple incense Scott brought back from Taiwan where his cage was. The cage will go in the shed or the attic. I’ll pick one of the carriers to keep handy for Nylis. I’ll ask around my other local bunny friends if they need pellets, toys, and wood pellets (for litter).
And I wrote this blog. I wanted to remember all the bits. I received so many kind words when I posted about Vash’s death on Facebook… and I know three other of my friends who lost pets this weekend. Maybe it will help others. Maybe the information about the symptoms and bunny health will help others. Maybe I just want to make a record of it. Or all of that.
In any case, Scott and I love you, Vash the Stampede, Giant Bunny of Chill, and King of the Cardboard and Wood Pile. And everyone you met loved you. You touched a lot of hearts and are a special story strand in our family tapestry.
I gave a “quick” (i.e. 4 paragraphs long) response on the post here, but that only dealt with one aspect that I think is important in this discussion.
She said in the blog that it was probably an unpopular topic, but I don’t think it should be. It’s a many-faceted topic that I had about ten different replies to flying around in my head. In summary, I think our relationship with emotions needs to be more openly and readily discussed. Not just if we should and should not repress them or control them, but how they affect us, how we create emotions, the physiological and psychological importance of a good relationship with emotions…
Our relationship status with emotion, of course, is best filed under “it’s complicated,” but I also think all good relationships are. And as a writer, I love exploring those complicated relationships… and a good blog response should pick one particular aspect and discuss it. And perhaps save other aspects for future blogs.
Our current culture in modern America, and many other places across the world, takes the stand that we should “control our emotions,” as Rona puts forward in her post.
I agree with her that we shouldn’t control our emotions and that it is a problematic, if not dangerous, thing to do so. (She has a great example of following her instinctual emotions on her blog.)
Emotions cause physiological effects in the body that we cannot control—blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, tears or laughter are some examples. (Breathing, too, but we have some control over that, at least.) These are part of your autonomic nervous system—the things your body does that you don’t have to think about, and in essence, can only marginally affect even when you do think about them.
Because emotions have such a major physiological component attached to the autonomic nervous system, as well as the endocrine system (your hormones) and neurotransmitters, that means you can have physical triggers for emotions that you also cannot control. The science of psychiatry and psychology deal with those quite a bit. But consider when you have a health problem that affects your body’s chemistry—you’re not able to control your body chemistry, so you simply cannot control the emotions caused by these symptoms.
Many women suffer this dissociation with regular PMS—the butt of far too many jokes. However, consider how society pressures people (particularly women) to “get it together” and “control your emotions,” when she literally, physically CANNOT DO SO. Not only is there this awful feeling of intense anger, sadness, happiness, or what not because estrogen or progestin is doing its thing, but there is this logical awareness that the emotion being felt is not associated with any actions or events currently happening around us. And we’re regularly told that THIS IS WRONG; YOU ARE WRONG.
And it’s not wrong. And it’s not controllable. And no one should be punished for going through this.
It’s bad enough to be standing in the kitchen, filled with rage and a physical illness of dissociation because there is no good reason for there to be rage. Thought processes and thinking about the situation aren’t going to un-flush our system with the chemicals causing rage (or grief, or elation). In fact, the discomfort or panic of that dissociation can enhance and exacerbate the unwanted emotion. Add in feeling like a failure or like you ought to be able to control this emotion, and you’ve added even more chemicals interacting in the body.
What to do?
Change starts within us. Within individuals. I’d love to magically change society and society’s dangerious and poisonous views, but that isn’t something any individual can do. But we can learn to create a better relationship with our own emotions—and to forge more healthy relationships with the emotions of others by our own reactions.
For each individual, admit and surrender to the idea that emotions are not a thing to be controlled.
That’s a lot of work on its own.
Next, each of us should pay attention to your body during emotions. How do I feel? What is my natural inclination for action while experiencing those emotions? Is there a situational cause for the emotion? If so, what? If not, that’s okay too; I notice and appreciate your body is going through something physical and physiological that creates this emotion.
This is also a lot of work. We need to give ourselves permission to take our time with this.
Then, then, after we’ve acknowledged these things, we can look for the things we can control.
For me, the first thing is to learn how to communicate about emotions. Let the ones I love know when I’m angry, that I need to do something physical—walk, yell, punch or throw inanimate objects. Anyone I’m in a relationship with—my hubby, my friends, my family—are people I could potentially act out upon due to emotions, and none of us have psychic powers, so it’s important to tell them why I’m acting out—what I’m feeling, what I need, and so on. Of course, it’s important that if the emotion was caused by an action that, once the uncontrollable need is met (time alone, being hugged, pillows beaten up), the cause needs to be addressed. I’ve seen people (and it’s often shown in literature, television, movies, etc) take care of the emotional need, but then never address the issue—so it continues to fester and cause the uncomfortable emotion—and that discomfort will grow, requiring the physical response to be stronger and stronger. Communication is the most important thing in any healthy relationship. Communicating with ourselves and others is key when it comes to our shared relation with emotions.
Once we get communication moving, we can look at other things that are within our control. Especially when emotions come at inconvenient times. Rather than try to control the emotion, however, we can control how we handle the symptoms of emotions. Rather than saying, “I can’t be angry right now,” we can think, “I can’t tell so-and-so to self-copulate painfully right now.” We can take time to pay attention to breathing and work at controlling that to an extent. We can take time with responses, crafting them so as not to damage other relationships. We can remove ourselves from situations when we realize we are at a place where the physiology of the emotions is not appropriate.
I don’t think I can say enough times that this is not easy, and I, for one, am far from perfection in this practice.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And try again. And try again. (And apologize, communicate, and try again.)
The last thing regarding “control” over emotions is how we respect and appreciate others’ physiological-emotional needs. Telling someone to “get control” is, as mentioned above, not only likely impossible but damaging, potentially making the situation worse. Find out what they need in the moment to deal with the emotion, and later discuss the situation. Be forgiving when someone lashes out; it may be a thing they physically can’t control at the moment…
That said, suffering regular abuse from someone who “can’t control their emotions” is a relationship not worth keeping. That is an entirely different—but still very important—conversation that needs to be had. Physical attacks, deep emotional attacks, any abuse is wrong.
Outside of abusive behaviors, however, it’s worth being flexible, honoring the physiological aspects of emotion, and opening a channel of communication. For ourselves, and for the ones we care about.
I hope this isn’t an unpopular topic, and that more of us do start healthy discussions about what emotions are and what makes for good emotional relationships.