V is for Victoria

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8444Victoria, from the Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, is a heartbreaking character.

The book is written with dual timelines. The first timeline starts the day Victoria ages out of the foster care system and is thrust into a world of her own. The second timeline starts when she was 8 years old and placed in a home with a woman who vowed to adopt her. That obviously didn’t happen, and it takes a long time to figure out why.

Victoria makes awful choices in both timelines, but it’s clear she’s lonely and disconnected. She never learned to accept love, and never met anyone worth connecting to.

Victoria doesn’t like interacting with other people. Her foster mother taught her the language of flowers, that the common thistle means misanthropy, for instance. It’s how she communicates with people, even if they don’t know it.

She ends up meeting a young man who understands her language. And for the first time since she was a child, someone breaks through the armor she coats herself with.

The theme of this story is healing. All the characters need to heal from various wounds and forgive themselves. Victoria is prickly and irritable and lovely. There were times I yelled at her, and times I wanted to give her a big hug.

Do you ever talk to characters in books?

Happy “Buy Something That Says I Love You” Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

You know, I always thought Valentine’s Day was kind of a stupid holiday.  We already have an awesome holiday that has candy (Halloween), but V-Day lacks blood and scary things.  It’s all hearts and creepy babies with bows and arrows.

Who thought, "I know; let's give the baby a weapon!"??

Who thought, “I know; let’s give the baby a weapon!”??

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve mellowed a bit.  I’m not against Valentine’s Day anymore.  It’s just not really my thing.  I’m not going to go crazy with it, but I’ll wear a red shirt (if I own one… do I own one?), and if my one true love buys me something, that’s nice.

I used to hate Valentine’s Day because of the obvious commercial aspect of it.  If you need a day to tell someone you love them, then that’s just dumb.

However, I realize from my older and slightly wiser (ahem) point of view that having a day to remind you to tell people you love them is never a bad thing.  We can all use the reminder to love one another, and to spread love.  So, even though Valentine’s Day is a commercialized holiday where the stores try to guilt you into buying something (if you don’t send her roses, Cthulhu will eat your soul!!), it doesn’t have to be.

You don’t have to buy roses or go out for that fancy dinner (unless she’s expecting it, in which case, don’t blame me if you drop the ball).  Valentine’s Day can be about an expression of love.  It can be meaningful, taking time out to tell everyone who matters how much they matter.

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

So, no matter how you celebrate today, make sure you tell someone you care about them.  After all, what’s more important than that?


Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ Photo credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ
Photo credit: Doree Weller

While the rest of the world welcomes spring (and in parts of the US, they still have some snow), here in Arizona, we’re already baking.  Temperatures have hit 100 and the flowers are already dying.  Spring, if you can call it that, happens so fast here that I barely have time to notice it.

In Pennsylvania, we had a spring whose length of time varied.  Sometimes it lasted a long time, and the crocuses were often up by Easter.  Sometimes the spring was shorter, but always there.  I never realized how much I’d miss having 4 distinct seasons until I moved somewhere that didn’t have them.  That’s the way of it, though.  When you’re living through something, it’s easy to take for granted, because it’s always been that way.

When I first moved here, the brown seemed soothing, and the sameness seemed clean and relaxing.  It still seems that way, but I miss the quirky personality of the jumble created by all the differences back East.  Some houses are new, some are old, but they don’t match one another.  There are greens and browns and purples and blues and reds.  It’s like an abstract painting rather than a landscape sometimes.

I throw open my windows and enjoy the fleeting spring for as long as I can out here.  For in the rest of the world, it may still be spring, but in Arizona, we’ve moved on to summer.

N is for Now

DSCN2524In the past, I’ve struggled with how to live in the now.  I’m prone to anxiety, and I like to plan.  I’m okay with chaos, as long as the plan is chaos.  I’ve had a hard time remembering to focus on today, but it’s satisfying.  Now is the only time that really exists, so I try to enjoy it.

I’m not very good at sitting and smelling the proverbial flowers.  I like to work in my garden and get a good sniff of lavender or basil or tomatoes or mint, but I struggle with sitting on my patio and just soaking up the moment.

I like the idea of relaxation in theory, but the moment I sit down, I think of 2,389 things that need to be done, and of course, they can’t wait 5 minutes for me.

There was a time when I beat myself up for not being able to sit and relax, but then I realized that I like doing things.  I like being active in my now.  Who said that you had to sit down in order to smell the flowers?  I think I’m doing just fine by weeding the yard, playing with the dogs, and taking a good sniff from time to time.

Friday Writing Prompt- Nostalgia

My pretty garden. 🙂

Nostalgia is a funny thing.  It makes us look at some point in the past through mostly rose colored glasses.  It’s a bit like “the grass is greener,” but refers to actual past events rather than wishful thinking in the present.  I always wonder why people crave something different than what they have, and I suppose it’s human nature.  I don’t generally suffer from “grass is greener” syndrome, but I am a frequent victim of nostalgia.  I crave a time when things were simpler and people were more in touch with the environment, living off the land.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m a techno-junky.  I just wish that it was easier to spend more time outside.  In the case of children, I’m sad that today’s children don’t get to roam and explore the way I did when I was little.

I’ve been reading the Little House on the Prairie series,and I’ve got to say, some things about living in the late 1800’s/ early 1900’s sounds pretty great.  People lived off the land and were grateful for what they had.  I realize that this isn’t everybody, and people were people back then.  Can you imagine the Facebook statuses that would have come out of that time?  Yes, it was really hard work and the life expectancy was way shorter.  I’m not saying that if I had a choice that I would live in that time instead of the present… But I would certainly think about it.

So, on to today’s writing prompt… What are you (or your character) nostalgic for?  Is it a time from your own life (or your character’s), or perhaps a time that you never lived in but sounds pretty great?  If you don’t have any nostalgia yourself, what about “grass is greener” syndrome?

Friday Writing Prompt- A Few Of My Favorite Things

Growing up, the Sound of Music was one of my all time favorite movies.  I thought Julie Andrews was the coolest and prettiest woman ever.  I can still sing most of the songs and often do burst into random song.

Today’s writing prompt is about your favorite things.  I focus on a lot of dark, dismal, and absurd on today’s blog, so I thought we could use some puppies and rainbows.  Make a list of your (or your character’s) favorite things.  You can expand on what these things mean to you (or your character), or just leave it as a list.  It’s meant to be a random list of things that make you (or your character) happy.  It can vary from little things like that first cup of coffee in the morning to big things like family.  Try to be specific, and find at least ten.

These are a few of my favorite things:

1.  Rainbows- No, seriously.  I love rainbows.  We seem to get a lot of them here in Phoenix, my guess is because it’s always sunny, even right after it rains.

2.  Riding in my convertible with the top down and music blaring- Preferably something like Nirvana or Garbage.  Yeah, yeah, I know Kurt Cobain killed himself, but how can anyone be sad when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is blasting?

3.  Fireworks-  They’re pretty, they’re bright, and they’re up against a night sky.  I love huge fireworks displays, and in the summer, I’m lucky enough to see one most weekends.  My main office is near the baseball stadium, and after a game, which happens to coincide with when I’m getting done work, they shoot off fireworks.

4.  Old books- I don’t just mean really old books, like 100 years, I mean worn out books that have been well-loved.  I was in Fossil the other day, looking at purses, and I saw a display of old looking books with the covers ripped off.  I asked about them, and the salesclerk said they ripped the covers off to give the store character.  *shudder*  I like books that have come by their old-ness honestly.

5.  My family- This includes my husband, my parents, my close friends, and my dogs and cats.  It’s great to be surrounded by love.

My mom was not happy when I painted a smiley face on her toe, and then took a picture!

6.  Pictures- Old ones, new ones, snapshots, posed photos, black and white, faded, color… I love them all!

7.  Flowers-  The brighter, the better.  I love the English garden look where everything id jumbled together in a riotous tangle.

8.  Philosophy- There’s nothing I love more than having philosophical discussions on all sorts of taboo topics, with someone who doesn’t get upset or angry when our opinions disagree.

9. Being creative- Writing, painting, taking photos, whatever the creative medium, I love it.  (I just wish I could draw… even my stick figures mock me.)

10.  Painted toenails- I’m not much for painting my fingernails as they chip pretty quickly, but I love painting my toenails all sorts of crazy colors.  It’s like a happy secret hidden in my shoes!

P is for Popcorn

As far as I’m concerned, popcorn is a food group in and of itself.  It’s great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack.  I like it plain, with butter, butter and salt, cheese, cheese and chocolate chips… The possibilities are endless.

Today’s post is not going to be me rhapsodizing about popcorn (though I could… it’s that wonderful), but about all my favorite things beginning with the letter “P.”  Because, why not?

1.  Popcorn- We covered this.

2.  Purple- Actually, my two favorite colors are blue and purple, but because blue begins with a “B,” it doesn’t get special mention.

3.  Pajamas- The weirder, the better.  Once in awhile, it’s great to spend the day in pajamas.  My pet peeve (two P’s!) is people who go out in public in pajamas.  Okay, you’re sick and need cough medicine… it’s understandable.  But you really needed to shop at Walmart in PJ’s?  Not very classy, people… oh wait, they’re shopping at Walmart.  My bad.

4.  Poetry- I don’t like poetry I have to analyze.  I love Edgar Allen Poe, William Wordsworth, Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, and Yeats.  Want a poem every day?  Go to www.poets.org

5.  Pansies, petunias, primroses, poppies  (They’re all flowers, FYI.  I love flowers!)

6.  Personalities- I find that many people seem to be lacking this essential quality.  Don’t be dull!  Find a personality today!

7.  Puppies- If you don’t know why puppies are on this list, shame on you!

8.  Parties!- Not that anyone ever invites me.  (hint, hint)

9.  Pictures-  I’ll take pictures of anything, as anyone who’s been anywhere with me can attest.  I love to take pictures of people, animals, signs, nature.  Basically, anything that catches my eye.

10.  Pride and Prejudice- Probably the best book ever.  I’ve read it (or at least parts of it) more times than I can count.  It’s one of the few books I have in electronic format, because if I don’t have a printed book with me, I can start at any point in that book and enjoy!

11.  Possibilities- This isn’t me groping for something to write about… see, I already did 10.  I really do love possibilities.  I often say that one of the best things about a vacation is planning for it, running through the possibilities.  Before you’ve done something, anything is possible.  You really do just have to believe.  (Unless it’s something like believing you don’t have to pay taxes.  Unfortunately you really do have to do that, at least here in the US.)

12.  Plaid-  Just kidding.  Don’t wear this.  Ever.  Especially plaid shorts.  A plaid skirt is okay if you’re Catholic.  And still in school.  Or if you’re attending an 80’s party and want to be really retro.  Otherwise, just burn all the plaid.

13.  Pac Man- I don’t care what’s come out since then.  Pac Man is still one of the best games ever.

14.  Paychecks- I don’t actually get mine in check form, but that doesn’t diminish the love.

15.  Painting- Though I can’t draw if my life depended on it (even my stick figures are pathetic), I love to paint, and am pretty good at it.  At least, when I’m painting ceramics.  I love painting cutesy things bright colors.  It makes me feel like I’m creating something.

So folks, that brings this blog post to a close.  If you’ve got other awesome things that start with a “P,” today is the day to share!

PS- After writing this entire post, I realized that my original intention was to blog about PostSecret.  If you don’t know what it is, it’s a really awesome art project in which people send in “secrets” on postcards.  Check it out here: www.postsecret.com.  It updates on Sundays.