“There are times when we stop, we sit still.
We listen and breezes from a
whole other world begin to whisper."  ~~James Carroll

Hi all,

I hope you're all staying well and that you're finding silver linings during this strange time!

If anyone's interested, I added three more jigsaw puzzles.  You can find all of them here:

If there's a particular image from the Photo Gallery that you'd like turned into a puzzle, please let me know. 

God bless,

So clicking around tvtropes.org was what struck me as calming today.  So this is what you get.  :-)  Stories referenced below can be found on the Story Index which I finally got updated.

Tropes for Earth Day

Since we've got Earth Day coming up, I thought some nature-related tropes would be nice to reflect on.  So here goes...

Divine Birds- Inherited from TBAA, the Holy Spirit still makes appearances in stories in the form of a dove.  In "Chrysalis," Joshua briefly appears in the form of an albatross.

Friend to All Living Things- If JenniAnn and Violeta had their way, they'd be living in an ethical, expansive zoo surrounded by countless members of the animal kingdom.  And Andrew would just have to kinda go along with it.  Obviously, they don't have the means to make that possible so they've settled on living with numerous sheep and goats, a donkey, a horse, a rabbit, two dogs (three if you count Ivy's Leo who lives with her and Violeta), mice, and if the bat in "Cupid and Psyche" is any indication then they're probably also leaving food out for an assortment of wild critters.  Part of the appeal of getting goats was so Andrew didn't have to mow much and risk hurting wildlife.  Joshua is, of course, this since he created all those living things.  In fact, I keep meaning to do a story where Joshua creates a stir at the zoo because all the animals come up to the glass/fence/etc. just to be as near to him as possible. 

Healing Herb- The cure for vampirism turns out to be a rare flower that grows in France.  That much I took from Moonlight.  But I invented the backstory on the flower itelf: it was created when Joshua's blood splattered onto the Earth and was watered by Marty's tears.

Absent Animal Companion
- Dawg/Widget!  Really, what did happen to Tess' dog?!  But I'm hardly better.  The pets of the Chandler-Darcy household never outright disappear.  But entirely too much goes on without mention of them.  I have two dogs.  Trust me: Andrew and JenniAnn, if they were real, would not be able to have so many romantic interludes without a dog pushing himself or herself between them or whining to be let outside or helping themselves to that romantic dinner.  Of course, it's possible that Fawn and Ichabod spend most of their time with Belle and Avi.  But still... in real life, the dogs would be much more present.

Adoring the Pests
- Well...  Since I live this trope in real life, it was bound to make its way into the Dyeland stories.  At JenniAnn's request, Andrew built a mouse village to house the mice who invaded their barn.  While bats shouldn't be classified as pests, they are regarded as such by some.  That didn't stop JenniAnn from loving them and as her first experience with bats was when Vincent would take her to watch them, I think it's fair to assume that Vincent is fond of bats, as well.  In "We Trust to Thee," Adam takes in a baby rat who ends up staying with the group while they work an assignment with Andrew.  The rat, Terrence, ends up being gifted to a little boy named Robbie who adores him.

From Stray to Pet- Reuel's fennec fox, Val Jean, was a stray who was discovered after he stole food during a picnic in El-Chanan.  He might have been able to live in the wild except he'd broken his leg and, by the time it healed, he was too used to being a pet.

Floral Theme Naming- Basil Thornton married Azalea and they named their daughter Lily.

Tree Cover- Andrew and JenniAnn have been known to hide among the branches of the willow tree on Willowveil's lawn for some alone time.


Some Tropes About Joshua Because He's Nice to Think About Right Now

Ship Sinking- So I don't think anyone who reads the Dyeland stories is likely to be a huge fan of The DaVinci Code but...  If one ever did feel the need to ship Jesus and Mary Magdalene, one would have to abandon the ship pretty quickly or be majorly squicked out.  Why?  Because they're not even peers in the Dyeland stories.  Mary is a late-in-life baby in her family and, after her parents' deaths, raised by her siblings: Lazar and Martha.  Lazar and Martha are the same age as Yeshua.  Which means Yeshua is old enough to be Mary's dad.  As it is, he's more of a surrogate older brother and the only person who thinks a Yeshua/Mary pairing is a good idea is a very drunken Lazar who is just upset that his baby sister has married a man who turns out to be awful.  When sober, I'm sure even Lazar realized that would be gross.  But then we find out that Mary was dumped by her husband and fell in love with a Roman soldier who is, admittedly, significantly older than her.  But he didn't watch her grow up (like a certain carpenter who made her baby toys) so it's way less creepy.  Sadly, the Roman (Lucius) doesn't make it but Mary does reunite with Yeshua... as a disciple, eventually becoming the Apostle to the Apostles.  At no point is there a romance and there's good indication that even at that point, Yeshua sees Mary as a strong, independent woman... but also the little girl he used to make toys for.  Which is definitely not romantic.  So if anyone did come into the stories thinking Yeshua/Mary seemed like a good idea...  Boy, I hope I brought about some serious Abandon Shipping.

Mistaken for Romance
- It happens to Joshua... a lot.  Because he appears to be about the same age as many of the Friends, to by-standers interactions with him can look romantic.  The exact same activity if he were to look, say, seventy five would be appropriately read as parent-child bonding.  For example, it's not uncommon for JenniAnn to kiss Vincent on the cheek and no one thinks anything of it.  But when Arthur saw JenniAnn kiss Joshua in the exact same way, he began to fret that she was stepping out on Andrew...  He obviously re-evaluated that assumption when he learned that Joshua was the Everlasting Father.  In a more dramatic example, Owen's family assumed Joshua was his boyfriend when Joshua accompanied him to a family event.  They didn't realize until later that Joshua was there to support his son... and preach a bit. 

Everything is Racist- JenniAnn briefly slides into this during "Remembrance."  After she and Joshua tour the U.S. Holocaust Museum, he suggests they stay in town.  While he gets them a room, JenniAnn is understandably weepy and is approached by a hotel employee who checks to make sure she's there willingly.  JenniAnn assumes that the employee saw a white girl with a brown guy and jumped to conclusions.  Joshua later explains that his race had nothing to do with it... it was just because JenniAnn appeared to be in distress.  Oops.  In fairness, JenniAnn had seen Joshua be targeted by anti-Semitic and anti-Middle Eastern hatemongers.  But that was a step too far. 

Modest Royalty- Joshua is definitely this.  He usually just wears jeans or khakis and sweater or button-down shirts.  The couple of times he's worn a crown, he ended up letting a kid wear it.  When he shows up at Willowveil, he does chores and babysits. 

Accents Aren't Hereditary
- Maryam and Yosef speak with accents... Joshua and John do not.  I decided Joshua would not have an accent because of the idea that he re-incarnates (not the same as reincarnates) every time he comes to Earth and blends in.  So when he's with the Friends, he has an American accent (which American accent he has probably depends on which American accent the reader is most used to, I assume).  I would assume that if he would go to Israel and speak English, he would speak it with an Israeli accent.  In Germany, he would speak German like a native German-speaker and so on.  And John, despite being fond of reminding Joshua that he was born six months earlier, really does look up to his cousin and so mimics him in this regard. 

The Not-Love Interest- Joshua sometimes falls into this role.  In "Remembrance," he literally takes Andrew's place and goes on a trip to D.C. with JenniAnn.  To some extent, Emma's and Joshua's narrative in "The Carpenter" plays out a lot like a romance without any actual romance: boy cares about girl, girl neglects boy, boy pursues girl, girl outright rejects boy, boy saves girl, girl realizes boy was who she needed all along... and boy is also God.  I also believe Joshua maintains this role with Salma... which is probably a big part of why she became a nun. 

And Tropes Featuring Andrew Because He's Dreamy and Also Nice to Think About Right Now

Last Kiss- Andrew's and JenniAnn's kiss on the porch in "Shadowlands" has elements of this and First Kiss.  It is, in fact, the first time they kiss on the lips... albeit it's not actually JenniAnn's first kiss.  But it's also on the eve of Andrew going to face the demons in Sheol... something that could go very, very wrong.  Owen is the only witness to the aftermath of said kiss (except, of course, God) and later claimed they were both glowing.  It is, in fact, one of the few scenes that still makes my stomach go a lil wobbly when I re-read it.

Fashion-Based Relationship Cue
- JenniAnn does this with the claddagh that Catherine and Vincent gave her.  For some time, she wears it to indicate she's single.  Eventually, when things progress with Andrew, she moves it to show she's "in a relationship."  After she was shot, Andrew accidentally slipped it back on her finger in the "married" position.  She decided to leave it that way. 

Suddenly Suitable Suitor- This happens in a couple of different ways with Andrew and JenniAnn.  While it was by no means the end of their drama, Andrew did begin to warm to the idea of JenniAnn being with him after she came out as asexual.  For one, it made them much more compatible since he is also, like all angels, asexual.  For another, Andrew knew there was always a risk that if she dated someone else, presumably a heterosexual male, then he might either purposefully or otherwise pressure her into having sex... something she definitely wouldn't face with him.  Years later, once Joshua had appeared and given his blessing, the two felt even more comfortable pursuing a relationship and are committed to making it work.

Unequal Pairing- In today's climate, I actually sometimes find myself worrying that, at one point, I'm going to get an email from someone who finds the Dyeland stories and dubs Andrew's and JenniAnn's relationship "problematic."  And, on paper, I guess that's fair.  Seventeen-year-old girl meets eons old angel of death and they end up with five kids... yeah, maybe that's a little dicey.  And, to be honest, if I'd had this planned out from the beginning, I might have upped JenniAnn's age to at least twenty when she met Andrew.  But I had exactly 0% of this planned out before, say, 2005.  I mean just consider that whenever I started writing the abandoned Dyeland finale, I fully intended for JenniAnn to marry Eliot.  That's the level of "not planned" I'm talking about!  But I actually sometimes worry that I've written Andrew's and JenniAnn's relationship as unequal in the opposite direction.  Because Andrew is older, an angel, and male, I think he hardly ever pushes back on anything JenniAnn says or does for fear he'll inadvertently manipulate her.  As a result, he has to put up with behavior from her that I don't think he would if they were a couple of human thirtysomethings. 

Recruit the Muggles- Well, now it's kinda baked into the stories that Andrew's human friends and family are often involved in his assignments.  But the trend started with "Nor Iron Bars a Cage" and "We Trust to Thee" and "Safe" are among my favorites because they still felt TBAA-esque to me.  I love "The Carpenter" but, from there on out, the stories feel less like a TBAA spin-off and more their own thing which isn't bad.  I wouldn't write them if I thought they were bad.  It's just different.

Hero with Bad Publicity- Andrew's definitely not a superhero... something he sometimes has to be reminded of... but he's the hero of the stories and this trope fits.  He's perfectly lovely but so many people hear "angel of death" and assume the worst.  This likely applies to Adam, Henry, and Eli but Andrew seems to have taken it to heart the most. 

I Should Have Been Better
- While he's definitely gotten better, this has been Andrew at several points in his life.  We see it in "Beautiful Dreamer" and "Til Death Do Us Part" and later this attitude leads to a temporary estrangement from his friends in Dyeland.  Now Andrew has a better grasp on dealing with his emotions.  It's okay to be sad about how an assignment unfolded but he knows it doesn't always mean he did something wrong.

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for inspiring something that's keeping me grounded right now.  When so much in life is weird, pretty much everything surrounding JABB is business as usual which is nice.

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(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from Touched by an Angel and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions.  They are not being used to seek profit.)