Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Year of the Parrot

I’m a boar, a fire boar to be exact, so last year was my year according to Chinese calendar, and I gladly celebrated the Year of the Pig all year long.

This year, I have a problem. It’s the Year of the Rat. I don’t like rats. I don’t mean I can take them or leave them. I mean I have a visceral, hysterical, sick-at-my-stomach reaction when I hear the word. If I’m going to survive the next twelve months, I’m have to come up with a different symbol.

Welcome to my Year of the Parrot. Anyone born under the sign of the parrot loves to talk and can curse in several languages. They eat crackers in bed. They stand on one foot and scratch themselves in embarrassing places in front of company. They can often be found perched on curtain rods, talking to themselves under their breath. Somehow this strikes me as a perfect sign for writers.

Alright, so I’m not taking today’s blog terrible seriously. We are snapping back from a record cold spell, even for Calgary. A week ago today, we bottomed out at 37 below, with a wind-chill of 52 below. For those of you who prefer your degrees in Fahrenheit, that’s 34 below, with a wind-chill of 61 below. The photo below is from my bedroom window on the night the temperature went to 52 below.

Yes, it does get that cold. Yes it is possible to go outside without freezing solid. No, I have no idea why human bodies don’t turn into instant popsicles. It must have something to do with wearing three layers of clothes, wool socks, winter boots, a coat, a toque, a silk ski mask, two woolen scarves, and thick gloves.

Other than the days I worked my day job and was forced to dress like the Michelin Tire Man before I set foot outside, I stayed home. I painted Valentine’s Day cards, read a screamingly funny paranormal mystery, stared at my yearly writing objectives—they stared back. We are currently in negotiations.—and tried my hand at making goat’s milk cheese.

As creative people, I think we need unexpected breaks, days when we can slow life down and pay attention, even to silly things such as inventing the Year of the Parrot. There comes a time when we have to, as my husband calls it, “Top up tanks.” So the cold snap is mostly over, the goat’s milk cheese turned out well, and we are a week into the Year of the Parrot. Wishing you all a wonderful year.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Story Circle Network was kind enough to interview me last month. The podcast web site is http://scn.libsyn.com in case you're in to that sort of thing.
Writing quote for the week. It’s another two-for-one week, because when-else would I have a chance to use quotes related to parrots?

The narrator is a 60-year-old parrot. Having been raised by Carmelite nuns, she is incorruptible (Down these mean streets a bird must waddle who is not herself mean). As the Carmelites are a silent order, Polly Phonic can’t talk but her calligraphy is to die for. ~Karen Affinbeck, mystery writer

Apart from the predictable difficulties of trying to fence in a room filled with curious monkeys, the rehearsal went well.
~Donna Andrews; We’ll Always Have Parrots


Unknown said...

Treat yourself to Ratatouille, Sharon (if it's still in release in Canada) or rent the DVD. I've never been much of an animated film fan, and certainly not of rats :), but this one is a gem. The critic (voiced by Peter O'Toole) is worth the price of admission. Not only a heartwarming film, but very intelligent -- not the usual kids' fare.

Happy Year of the Parrot ("Publisher wants the new Wildwind, publisher wants the new Wildwind...")



Sandra Parshall said...

I was born in the Year of the Monkey, which is fitting: nervous, highly excitable, given to panic attacks and screaming. That's me on a good day. You don't want to hear about the bad days.

As for your weather, I have one strong suggestion: MOVE. The very thought of 30-plus degrees below zero makes me shiver.

May we all have a bountiful Year of the Parrot!

Clea Simon said...

Some dear friends who are celebrating with their adopted Chinese daughter have renamed this year the "year of the mouse." It just sounds a little more palatable, they say.

I may suggest Parrot as an alternative. Luckily, Ruby is still too young to care about authenticity.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the happy new year greeting, Carol. I want the new Wildwind, too. It's with my agent.
Sandra, my husband is a monkey. Not many panic attacks that I've seen, but he is fond of bananas.

But the cold weather only lasted a week. It would take me longer than that to pack. (grin)
Clea, actually "Year of the Mouse," is an alternate name for year of the rat. Your friends are right on.