Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Today is my first grandchild's first birthday. I'm torn between joy, and utter devastation.

You see, my son sent me a couple of videos this week, of my grandson walking. Last I saw my grand baby, he was still trying to find his center, stay balanced without the aid of furniture, someone's hand, or his wheeled push-toy. Now he's toddling the length of my son and DIL's home. Cue laughter. And tears.

My grandson's gone from Surprise, we're pregnant! to a fully actualized little person complete with a life-size personality.

When he's happy, he grins. When he sees something he wants, or that captivates him, he extends his hand, palm up, and "whoos". He loves trees; and anything with wheels, especially if he can push it. Blueberries, raspberries, yogurt, bath time, and the family dog also get high marks. He's less enthusiastic about bedtime and diaper changes. And when he's mad, well, he's mad. There is no doubt in my mind, he is his father's son.

My eldest, too, loved anything with wheels. He still does. His smile lights up a room. And his temper is equal only to... mine. And his father's. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Ask my  mom, who got it from her father. It's a family thing.

That is what devastates me. And buoys me.

I hope to be around to welcome my grandson's firstborn and give thanks for the opportunity to hold the future. There are no guarantees, of course, which is why I intend to make the most of what time I do have with my grandson, and all those I love, for as long as that may be. And when friends, school, sports, and building a life eventually dominates my grandson's time I'll be content to watch from the sidelines, safe in the knowledge that he is weaving new and colorful threads into the ever changing, slightly frayed, and always precious tapestry that is our family.

Happy 1st Birthday, Little One. Grandma loves you.





In youth we learn; in age we understand. ~Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach


























Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Oh Don't You See

A number of people have shared with me in recent weeks how they've struggled over the last few months to feel optimistic, energetic. I've been one of them. We all agreed that the prolonged rain and cold and lack of sun played a big part. But another large player in our overall mood this winter has been the ongoing chaos in the US following the Jan 20th election, chaos that this week appears to be escalating toward war with North Korea.

There isn't a lot many of us can do about that. Not with this administration that seems to have its ear to a completely different ground than the one most of us are living on...

Diversity? LGBT? Tolerance? Health care? World peace? Environment? It's like they all time-traveled here from the 1750s and have no concept of what any of those terms mean. Fortunately, there is a strong force of intelligent, wise, and compassionate people trying to educate them.

People are marching on the WH, and protesting through out the world. Lawyers, and Mayors, and Governors, and other concerned people are fighting irrational and divisive EOs. People are speaking out on Twitter and Facebook. Some are donating to the ACLU, Meals on Wheels, and National Parks, organizations either actively fighting, or in imminent threat from, orders fired down from on high. And don't even get me started on the Russia thing.

In short, this new administration has stirred up a whole world of ugly. And a whole world of amazing unity and strength of purpose dedicated to preserving and protecting not only USA's Rights And Freedoms, but the world's. Lately, in me, the continual barrage of negative news coming out of the WH has stirred up an ear worm: Oh Can't You See, by The Police, only in my mind I changed the opening lines.

Today, in the spirit of procrastination, and I Need To Make Myself Laugh Before I Cry, I rewrote and re-titled the song. Same tune. You're welcome to sing along...


Oh Don't You See
                                                         by Deborah


Every law you break
Every decision you make
Every FL trip you take
Every good thing you raze
We'll be watching you

Every EO you sign
Every single lie
Every tweet let fly
Environmental protection let die
We'll be watching you

Why can't you see
We're a democracy
How our poor hearts ache
With every misstep you make

Every false allegation you raise
Every Russian friend you've made
Every tear you fake
Every heart you break
We'll be watching you

Since you've been Prez, we've lost the faith
We miss 44 even more when we see your face
We plead for Reason, someone wise to take your place
This world's gone cold, needs a happy change
And oh, btw, we're not going away

Oh don't you see
You should be impeached
How our poor hearts ache
With every day you stay

Every missile strike
Every health care assault
Every travel ban
Every single fault
We'll be watching you
Every…



Great men undertake great things because they are great; fools, because they think them easy. ~Vauvenargues

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Robins and Jays, Symbols of Hope

It's the last day of February and snow still dominates the landscape. This is not unusual in most parts of Canada, but in our West Coast region...

The snow started in early December and except for a couple of brief periods, it's hung around causing commuter chaos. Having spent the last twenty years in the Kootenays of BC, I'm used to it. As is my family. We have snow tires. And use them. So getting to and from, for us anyway, has not proven a problem. But, being accustomed to snow, ice, and slippery roads does not mean we--I--enjoy the white stuff. Far from it.

I have Lizard blood. I like it hot. The hotter, the better. Give me a patch of sand, sunglasses, a good book, cold drink, and 38C and I'm in Heaven. Shoveling snow and scraping ice from the windshield is the equivalent of Hell to me. Which is why I was so delighted to see my first Robin this morning!

Photo copyright Deborah Small 2017

Robins, to me, are a symbol of hope. Of Winter waning as Spring gathers strength. Add in a Stellar Jay--

Photo copyright Deborah Small 2017
and I am positively giddy.

The last few weeks have been challenging; I've found myself mired in lethargy, a distracted funk in which the weather played only a small part, the major player being illness, and a certain new President whose agenda, policies, and striking lack of empathy and respect for the people he claims to represent, are as foreign to me as the seemingly corrupt world he inhabits.

But this post isn't about him. It's about the weather. About how Robins and Jays herald the season's change, how dark, cold, and gloomy days eventually give way to warmer, sunnier, brighter ones that eventually extend to weeks, and months of brilliance and abundance. It's about the power of regeneration, the ability of the earth and its creatures to survive, and emerge triumphant from even the longest, harshest winters.

Yes, some creatures perish before spring, whether from old age, infirmity, or lack of sustenance. But the majority survive. Those that do, owe their survival to preparation, stamina, and cooperation...

Squirrels, bears, Jays and bees are just some of the critters that prepare for winter by stocking up. They store food--either externally or within layers of fat--in advance of winter's first snowfall, a reserve to sustain them through the lean months.

Elk, Moose, Cougar are some of the creatures that rely on brute strength and stamina to see them through the long winter months. It takes huge reserves of energy to plow and paw through crusted-snow for dormant grasses and twigs, and to stalk and wrestle to the ground beasts three and four-times one's weight.

Wolves, Deer, Seals, Orcas are some that find strength--sustainability--in numbers; many eyes are better than two when on the look out for predators. Multiple sets of legs, lungs, feet, fins and fangs increase the odds of cornering or running down dinner. And as it appears a long brutal winter is descending on the US, it behooves all of us, throughout the world, to look to our furred, feathered, and finned brethren for clues on how to get through alive:

Prepare for the worst. The black storm clouds on the horizon might prove a brief, wintry blast; it might herald a lengthy blizzard. Stock up, emotionally and financially; gather happy moments, activities, extra cash, and people to your breast and protect them the way a hamster stuffs its cheeks with seeds. Draw on them sparingly in times of need, restore yourself on the sustenance love, laughter, and new adventures provide beleaguered hearts.

Stamina. This is not a Quarter-Horse race. More a mouse's round-the-world marathon. It can't be done in a minute. Or even a day. It's going to--potentially--take years to muddle through, and like the mouse, one must be clever, and alert. Find safe places to curl up and rest, when not attempting to stealthily navigate open fields shadowed by Eagles, and swim swirling rivers churned bloody by spike-toothed carnivorous pike.

Cooperation. Gather like-minded individuals close, and have each other's backs. Always. It's easy to give in to fear, run bleating, or roll-over and play dead when the Eagle swoops, or the Wolves howl; it takes courage to rally with the herd, form a protective circle, each member backed into the other facing out at disaster, the weakest and smallest sheltered at the center. But it's how entire herds manage to defend against, and even scare off, wolf packs, and ravenous cougars. Resistance and persistence, equal existence.

I for one, intend to continue to stock up on my favorite form of sustenance: fun memories made with family and friends, good books, and writing. Always writing. And I'm going to rebuild stamina by getting back into a regular exercise routine. Six-point Elk don't earn their tines wallowing in a mud bath. As for cooperation, that circles back to preparation for me.

My family, and friends, are my herd. And I will face out and fight to death to protect them. Because without them, who am I?

  Holding my grandson for the first time.
Photo copyright Deborah Small 2016


Deborah

The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one's opportunities and make the most of one's resources. ~ Vauvenargues





Wednesday, January 4, 2017

And then there are grandmas.

There are grandmas. And then there are grandmas.
My maternal grandmother was of the latter variety. Soft in all the right places, gentle, quiet, she was the rock of the family. I loved her dearly.
To me, she was Mum-mum, my name for her from the time I was toddler and she used to look after me while my then single-mother worked. Before I was out of diapers, my mom and stepdad were living together, and mom became a stay-at-home mom. I no longer spent every day with grandma. But I always looked forward to visits with her.
I would plunge in through the carport door, kick off my shoes in the narrow entry that doubled as a coat and laundry room, and dash into the dining room knowing I would find Grandma in her chair at the end of the table, cigarette in hand or smoldering in the ashtray, cup of tea in front of her, her pet Chihuahuas on her lap, the TV tuned to one of her favorite shows. As soon as I raced in, she would stub out her cigarette, shoo the dogs off her lap and to their wicker basket by the door, and allow me to take their place.
I'd clamber up and twist to look at her, maybe earn a peck on the cheek. After a few minutes of patiently answering whatever nattering questions I had, she'd scoot me off her lap, and head into the kitchen to fix me toast. With ketchup. And a cup of tea. Always a cup of tea. When Grandpa came in from the shop for lunch, she'd give me a look and nod, my cue to disappear into the living room and read, or color, while Grandpa ate in peace. As I grew older—and heavier—grandma was more inclined to bend her cheek toward me for a kiss, than let me invade her lap. So I would settle in the chair next to hers, eat my toast and ketchup, sip my tea, and watch her watch her favorite show. But time is fickle. And so are teens.
School work, sports, horses, friends, boys, motorbikes and cars dominated my teen years. And I rarely went along when mom went to visit her parents. What fun was sitting around grandma's house watching TV when I could race my horse against my friends' horses, or cruise back roads with my boyfriend?
A good decade passed where I rarely saw my grandparents but for family events, like Christmas, Thanksgiving and family reunions. But they again became an integral part of my life when, in my early twenties, my then husband and I moved into the mobile home on their property they had installed a few years earlier for one of my aunts. When she moved out, another of my aunts moved in. And then it was my turn.
Three years we lived side-by-side with Grandma and Grandpa. Three years I cherish. Three years my two eldest children ruled Grandma's lap. And made Grandpa laugh. Three years where I was welcome to wander across the yard that separated my home from theirs, and enjoy a cup of tea with Grandma, or simply sit on the foot of her bed and watch her favorite TV programs with her.
We laughed at Aunt Bea and Opie's antics. Watched Vanna turn letters. Provided Alex Trebeck the Answer. Rolled along with Ironside, and Matlock, solving crimes. And sometimes I cried.
My tumultuous first marriage heaved its final breath on Grandma and Grandpa's property. Before it did, it was to her I would go for comfort. Mostly she would listen. Sometimes she would comment. Only once did she judge:
           "If you don't like what's going on, change it. If you can't or don't want to change it, deal with it. But whatever you do, stop complaining."
She shocked the hell out of me with that. And sobered me up. Dragged me out of my pity pool, with a good swift kick in the proverbial ass.
Grandma at my first wedding.
1986
Grandma's life had never been easy. Her younger brother died of an illness she had brought home from school, and survived. As far as I know she didn't know her father. And her stepfather was rumored to be not the kindest man. She never spoke about him. Or her mother. Or the sacrifices she made as a wife, and mother. Not once do I recall hearing her complain.
Grandma raised six children on a shoe-string budget. Kept the family together when Grandpa fell apart, and stopped working for over a year. She dealt with his alcohol abuse. Anger. Chased her daughters around the stairwell with a wooden spoon when they deserved it. Fixed them tea and handed them tissue when they needed it. Did her best to protect her only son from his father's contempt. 
She picked apples and made the sweetest-tart applesauce I've ever tasted. Turned cukes into tangy pickles, and raw salmon into canned delicacy. She doted on her dogs. Adored her grandchildren. And did whatever she could to make her children's lives easier. I miss her.
Today is the anniversary of her death. And it feels keener this year, than years past. Perhaps, because this year I am a grandma; my mortality no longer a distant echo, but a resounding boom, a persistent, rhythmic thump, like the tattoo of my grandson's heart beneath my hand when I cradle him on my chest. 

Grandma on her wedding day.
1942
It leaves its mark, becoming a grandparent. A raw bruise where your youth and longevity used to be. I only hope, whatever time I have left—a decade, or four—I leave as indelible and happy a mark on my grandchildren's lives, as Grandma did on mine.

Deborah
They never die, who have the future in them. ~Meridel Le Sueur

Friday, December 30, 2016

Insulted

I read an article today by a woman who slammed Indie writers. She stated self-publishing was "an insult to the written word". This breaks my heart. For her.
Writing is a lonely enough job. It does not serve to isolate yourself further by denigrating a huge--and hugely successful--group of individuals, all of whom share the same interest: the written word.
Self, Trad...however a book makes it to readers is less important than how readers react to the book. Lord knows the "less-than" books are quickly picked apart, their writers insulted and criticized, some quite cruelly. As far as I'm concerned, it needs to stop. Just stop.
I despise fat on my steak. I go to great lengths to cut it off, and ensure very little ever crosses my lips. It makes me gag. My husband, OTOH, loves fat on his steak and prime rib. As far as he's concerned, it's the closest thing to Heaven as he wants to get right now. Same fat. Different reactions to it. Neither reaction is right. Or wrong. They just are.
Books are the same. Some you love. Some you, "eh". Some you toss before you get three pages in. It's subjective. Selective. Personal.
I used to groan, and kvetch when reading a novel loaded with back story, or erratic POV switches. Now I simply close the book, remind myself to watch for these types of issues in my writing, and move on to a book I enjoy. What I don't do, is go on Goodreads, or Amazon, or Twitter and beat the hell out of some poor author for his/her rookie--or not--mistakes (some seasoned--BESTSELLING--authors make very good money committing such blasphemy). Who cares?
Writing is hard work. And yes, as the author of the aforementioned article stated, it does take years to hone the craft. But that doesn't mean you have to be middle-aged or doddering, or traditionally published, before you can reap the reward of seeing your story in print.
Some children take to reading/writing from the moment they're handed a pencil, and Dr. Seuss book. They love reading. They love writing. They excel at it. And by the time they're in their teens or twenties, they're quite competent. And in this era, quite tech savvy, too. Other writers come to their craft late, in their thirties, or forties, fifties and sixties. Should they all have to toil decades receiving rejections before ever seeing something they've labored over into print? As far as I'm concerned, no.
Amazon and other "Indie" publish options have opened doors certain "gate keepers" would like to see slammed shut. Good. Not all gate keepers are good gate keepers.
Some gatekeepers are overwhelmed and hitting the R button out of pure survival instinct. Others have a fixed mindset as to what types of books readers want and are committed to permitting only that formula to venture past the iron fence. Some gatekeepers like fat on their steak. Some hate it. Some love fat, but can't find anyone else willing to eat it. The steak remains on the plate untouched. Should it sit there indefinitely? In my opinion, No.
When an author takes the time to pour heart and soul into something that means something to him/her, let him/her publish. Who are they hurting, really? You don't have to read it. Heaven knows there are a gazillion choices; choose the ones that make you happy. And if you feel like letting the author know you enjoyed their book, go ahead. There isn't a person alive that doesn't appreciate a little praise every now and again. If the book makes you gag, put it down. Find something more to your taste, and feed your soul. But please, don't suck the soul out of someone else. No one wants, or needs, anymore poison in an already toxic world.

Deborah
*stepping off soap box*

Those who are lifting the world upward and onward are those who encourage more than criticize. ~Elizabeth Harrison

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Being Female

Confession: I've been avoiding Social Media. It's taken me most of my life to truly appreciate the level of harm my empathetic tendency has to hurt me.

I don't just read angry or terrified posts; I absorb them. Feel them. And no matter how I remind myself I am not personally affected, either by the privilege of birth or citizenship, I have a hard time separating myself from the pain those personally impacted, feel.

I've been on the receiving end of sexual harassment, physical assault, emotional intimidation, the latter as recently as last week when a large white male in his forties entered an elevator I was in. As he stepped on, he looked me up and down in a way that set my alarm bells ringing, and hairs on my neck on end. I briefly considered stepping off, but if he followed me, I would be trapped on the 5th floor with no one around but him. And, it was only 5 floors to the Lobby. And witnesses. I remained, and avoided eye-contact, but kept him in my peripheral vision. He looked at his phone, laughed, and then looked at me.

"They're protesting back home."
Silly me, I responded, because that's what POLITE women do (or those do that are afraid to piss off the bigger stronger person with whom they're trapped in a small metal box): "Protesting? The new president?"
"Yeah." He smirked. "And they just better get over it."

I stepped off that elevator moments later, AFTER him (didn't want him behind me), and loitered by the front desk until he departed out the front door. Then I sent up a silent prayer of thanks that I am Canadian. And, as much as it galls me to admit it, I also gave thanks I'm Caucasian.

That's White Privilege. Knowing your skin color offers you a certain level of protection. Next time I visit the US, I only have to worry about being female. And that makes me want to cry.

All my life I've had to worry about being female. From the time I was a young and my mother admonished me for turning somersaults, or cartwheels, while wearing a dress: Good girls don't show off their underwear! Or when I started to develop, and male friends of my parents and aunts started staring, and in some cases, groping. When boys at school started cat-calling, or "copping a feel" in the hallways, or on the bus. Men at work whistled and cat-called, asked if I wanted to participate in Wet T-Shirt contest? Told me I had the "nicest big b....lue eyes they had ever seen" as they stared at my chest. It was daily.

As I grew older, and legislation and social acceptance of such sexist behavior changed, the daily assault on my psyche with regard to my physiology slowed. It never went away, as exemplified by my recent elevator encounter (and yes, an inappropriate and obvious full-body scan imbued with sexual overtones is an assault on the psyche), but with legal avenues open to people like me (females), business management and principals started cracking down on inappropriate behavior on the part of males, and societal norms began to change. Young men were beginning to be raised with greater respect for their female counterparts.

Sexual assault was defined as such: Sexual assault. Not "copping a feel". Not "checking to see if they're real". Not "offering a compliment" (because the invitation to the Wet T-Shirt contest was apparently that, a compliment), but SEXUAL ASSAULT. And I began to get through entire days without experiencing an uncomfortable reminder of my femaleness. The fact I had one to four children in tow most days probably helped. The fact the Law and the Powers That Be said it's NOT OKAY, helps more. And that is what is so terrifying about recent events in the U.S.

The small measure of protection females in general had, went up in a puff of fetid air from the white male who will soon be the ultimate Power That Be. Forget being a woman of color. I can't even imagine what they feel. And I won't presume to know. I only know, that as a female, I hurt. A lot.

We were finally seeing, after centuries of oppression and abuse, some improvement in perception of our femaleness. Some improvement in protection of our femaleness. Some respect with regard to our right to not have our femaleness assaulted, physically or psychically. And one person, one man, one white man, has the power to roll all that back. And that is what has kept me from Social Media the last couple of weeks: Grief.

Grief for my Sisters. Grief for my daughter. Grief for my future granddaughters. Grief for my nieces. Grief for all the females of this world that face daily persecution, limitations, and outright abuse/assault/terror simply because they are


Clipart

Female.

***

Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. ~ Abraham Lincoln


Friday, October 7, 2016

Thanktober


October is the first month of what I consider, The End. The end of Summer. The end of the current year. The end of long days and warm nights.

Some people love October. The gold and red hues heralding the change of seasons. Crisp air. Pumpkins. Turkey. Cozy sweaters and fluffy socks. I'm not some people.

My favorite month is May. It is, to me, the first month of Summer. The start of the growing season. The birth of new life for the majority of Earth's creatures. Hues of green and blue giving way to pops of yellow, blue, orange, and red. A living fireworks display. Flip-flops. Tank tops. Grilled chicken. And sunscreen. Still, I appreciate October.

October is our month, as Canadians, to collectively celebrate Thanksgiving. And we have much to be thankful for:

Universal health care
Freedom of speech
Freedom to travel freely and live anywhere within or out of Canada (provided we've not forfeited the right through illegal behavior) 
Acceptance to love—and marry—adult to adult, free of restrictive traditional expectations.
Clean air (and laws designed to protect it)                                 
Access to clean water (and laws designed to protect it)
Park land, forest, and animal protection 
Mandatory basic education, and unrestricted access to advanced education, for both genders
The right to vote regardless of gender/social status without fear of legal/physical reprisal
Collective compassion 
Trudeau (and not the other T guy)

This is not a comprehensive list of the privileges we enjoy as Canadians that citizens in other countries do not, but it is the one I think of each October.

Credit: Photobucket


Regardless of whatever personal strife I may be experiencing, or living vicariously through my love for other people in crisis, when the Maple's leaves turn red and gold, and twirl to the rain-dampened ground, I pause and give thanks to the agitators and proponents of political, legal, and environmental change throughout history, and those who supported them, for all I enjoy. As a woman. As a Canadian.

Deborah

When people shake their heads because we are living in a restless age, ask them how they would like to live in a stationary one, and do without change. ~George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Nobody's Perfect...

The Editor Devil (@fairchild01) posed the question on Twitter:

#authors & #writers how do YOU deliver description for the POV character when they are alone? Avoiding the cliché mirror...

One response was: NOT; characters focused on personal appearance were either creepy, or vapid. And that got me thinking...Characters are people, too.

How many of us have stood in front of mirror fussing over the fit of jeans? Blouse? Sweated in a change room trying to struggle in/out of sports bra? Bathing suit? Sat in a stylist's chair and said, "Fix me" (like there was something inherently wrong with our straight/curly/red/gray/brown/long/short hair). Does that make us creepy? Vapid? I don't think so. I think it makes us human. And it makes sense that at some point in a story, a human POV character is going to experience some instance of self-awareness, while alone.

A Plus-size character trying to squeeze into a 0-size charter airplane seat. A petite character struggling to see over the steering wheel and reach the accelerator in her brother's sports car. A dyed-blonde fussing over her reverse-skunk look when she bumps into the guy she likes at the Supermarket. The overweight police chief struggling to buckle his holster. The mature woman slathering on face cream containing Retinol in a vain attempt to redirect her straying husband's attention back to her. The teen boy locked in the bathroom with his mother's seamstress tape measuring his biceps to see if his week at the gym made him "swoll" enough to interest the girl he's crushed on since grade five. And that's how POV self-image is best conveyed: indirectly.

It is a definite challenge to convey a POV character's appearance via the character without the easy mirror, but it is doable. Creatively. Carefully. Skillfully. It's not taboo. Tricky, and when done well, effective.

Here's a quick, not necessarily done well, example, purely for illustration purposes:

Damn. She'd grabbed the wrong shoes. These had to be Celeste's shoes. They were at least two-sizes too small. Ginny yanked the shiny satin pump off her toe, and glared inside it.

Nope. Four sizes too small. She'd have better luck stuffing French loaves in a set of thimbles, as shove her duck feet in these shoes. She dropped the pump back in the box with its mate.

Gad. Wasn't that going to be the theme of this wedding? Her the ribbed French loaf, Celeste and Noemi the shiny thimbles. What in hell was Laurel thinking, asking her, Hulkette, to be a bridesmaid alongside them? Ginny sucked in her stomach, glanced down.

Nope. Not even if she mastered the art of holding her breath without dying could she hope to display a quarter of the cleavage of the other two. She exhaled, bit her lip.

A pink-satin draped Stop sign tacked on the end of a triplet of hourglasses. How could Laurel be so cruel?

No, no, no. Laurel was not being cruel. Pink was her favorite color. Had been her favorite color since the first time they had watched Grease together, back in high school. She could hardly help that it was the least flattering color for someone with brick red hair and freckles. If anything, she should be grateful she had managed to sway Laurel toward a softer pink, instead of the fluorescent pink she'd wanted. Gad. What a disaster that would have been. She already stood a good six inches taller than most men. She didn't need to advertise it like a flashing neon sign. Ginny bowed her face to her palms.

Oh, God. What was she going to do? She couldn't be in this wedding. She was too tall, too flat, too red, too awkward—and what if James showed up? What would she say? What could she say? Sorry I stomped on your foot the other night. Hope I didn't break any toes--

"Ginny? Ginny? I think you have my shoes. We need to switch. Quick. The limo's here. We're all ready to go."

Drawing a deep breath, Ginny stifled a groan and pushed up off the toilet. She paused long enough to glance in the mirror and ensure none of the springy curls the stylist had so skilfully constrained in a neat chignon had escaped, smooth the wrinkles from the "Candy Floss Pink" gown and slip a hand inside it to adjust the push-up bra so it was more up, than push, and then retrieving the shoes off the floor, she unlocked the door.

"Oh, there you are. I figured these were yours." Celeste arched a golden eyebrow and smiled as she dangled Ginny's shoes with the tips of her long pink-lacquered fingernails, like she was holding out a pair of dead hens, instead of a pair of size elevens. Her ample cleavage, like her dimpled cheeks, glimmered with body shimmer.

Ginny forced a bright smile. "Yes. Can't imagine how we mixed that up."

"Is everything all right, Ginny? You're a little flushed." Laurel was ethereal in white, her creamy brown skin boasting a dewy glow seemingly reserved for brides, and new mothers, her dark eyes lit with a sparkle brighter than the flashes of light off the Hershey's Kisses-sized diamond drops dangling from her earlobes. Behind her, Noemi was primping in front of the hall mirror, applying yet another layer of lip gloss. 

"Everything is perfect," Ginny said, and smiled as she grasped her shoes, one in each hand, like a pair of pistols. "Absolutely perfect. You are the absolutely, most perfectly stunning and beautiful bride, I could ever hope to attend."

It was Laurel's turn to flush. "Thank you," she said. "Now, get those shoes on girl, and let's go. I'm getting MARRIED today!"

***

Do you have a picture of Ginny in your mind? Yes, I slipped in the mirror at the end to add texture detail to her hair. Mostly I imparted her physical description through her emotional distress. Her self-image.

Sure, Ginny needs to work on learning to embrace, and celebrate what makes her unique and beautiful, like we all do. But that could well be her character arc, the growth she experiences, through the course of the story. James could help, or hinder her with that. That's at the author's discretion. As is a choice of methodology/focus in imparting character/scene description.

Writing is not like Math. There are no hard and fast rules. If you want to convey some aspect of your POV character's appearance via that character, do. If you can do so via action, or emotion, even better.

Just like no one likes to watch another person primp and preen in front of a mirror--taking obvious pleasure, or dismay, in one's appearance is still a cultural no-no--readers prefer not to receive a menu-order of character description. Mix it up. Dole out some aspects of character's physical description through other characters, some through the character. Going back to Ginny, in an earlier time:

"Hey, Red, how's it going up there?"

"Take a hike, James."

"Ooooh, hear that boys? Ginny wants me to take a hike. How about I hike you, Ginny? Scale you like Mount Everest."

James's companions laughed. Ginny clung to her backpack and stared straight ahead.

Why? Why, why, why did she have to look like Dad? Why couldn't she be five-foot nothing and blonde like Mom? But noooo...she had to get Dad's NBA genes, while her "big" brother would be lucky if he topped out at five-six and made the wrestling team--

"What's the matter, Carrot-Top? Cat got your tongue--" Carl's head snapped back and blood gushed from his nose a second later.

"Leave my sister, alone, freak--"

"Michael." Ginny grasped his arm. "Don't. You'll get expelled--" Ginny pitched forward, and managed to get a hand up to brace herself against the seat in front, as the bus ground to a halt.

"Mr. Gilbert," the driver called. "This is where you get off."

***

However you decide to get necessary aspects of your characters' appearance across to the reader, have fun with it. And remember, no character is perfect. Or entirely flawed. Just as there is good and bad in all of us, so too is there in our characters. Enjoy them. And be kind to yourself.

Deborah


Happiness, that grand mistress of the ceremonies in the dance of life, impels us through all its mazes and meanderings, but leads none of us by the same route. ~ Charles Caleb Colton