HFH: Canada, Ch. 1

“Will you read me a story?” Emelia asked.

“Sure,” I replied. “You choose.”

“I want this one,” she said, handing me a thick book.

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“The Canada Legacy?” I asked. “You want a legacy story?”

She nodded. “I’m from a legacy, you know,” she said.

“True,” I replied.

“And so’s Elder. And Aya. In a way, even Free is a legacy kid,” she continued. “It’s only natural I’d want to know more.”

I opened the book.

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“Oh,” I said. “This is an old one.”

We looked together at a picture from a world of long ago.

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Some people say that land has memory. If so, this bluff above the sea remembers the family that lived here for generations until a daughter decided that she would betray this plot of land and its conscription in exchange for her freedom and the freedom of those she loved.

“That’s a strange beginning to a legacy,” I said.

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“Not really,” said Emelia. “Every legacy family is bound by a plot of land. It’s natural that legacy kids would want freedom. Read more.”

Canada Davis, when she arrived at that big empty plot, wasn’t quite sure about the future she’d signed up for. She loved the outdoors, but the task before her felt daunting. She’d never built a house before!

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“First things first,” she told herself, so she found herself a job as a test subject at the science lab. “It’s not much, but it’s a start.”

And she felt happy as the cab pulled up to the lab.

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“I like her!” Emelia said.

“Me, too,” I replied.

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“Do you think all founders feel apprehensive at first?” Emelia asked.

“I would imagine so,” I replied. “That big plot of land with only a trashcan and a mailbox! So little money, and all alone in a new city! It’s kind of exciting!”

“Keep reading!”

Canada felt a rush of optimism as she walked into the lab.

It wouldn’t be long before she was walking in here wearing a lab coat, rather than her everyday clothes. She just knew it!

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Walking out at the end of the day felt less romantic: she was a little dizzy from having tried different pills all day, and she didn’t have that first promotion yet.

Still, as she walked out the door, the receptionist said, “We’ll see you tomorrow, Ms. Davis. I hear you did good work today! Don’t worry. You’ll be a lab tech in no time!”

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“Do you think she’ll get promoted before she has to pay bills?” Emelia asked.

“Well, I don’t think bills were such a big deal way back then. And Canada seems really smart. Plus she’s got a great attitude. I bet she does really well.”

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“Keep reading!” Emelia said.

Canada went to the park after work.

Monarch butterflies hovered over yellow daisies and pink azaleas, and the scent of the sea wafted up the hill.

“It’s so beautiful!” said Canada to herself.

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She felt so full of feelings: the beauty of the park, the excitement of her new job and her dreams for her career, the apprehension about all her waiting responsibilities. So when she met a man named Gobias she just had to share what was on her heart.

“I’ve got a new job as a scientist!” she told her new acquaintance.

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“That will require a lot of gardening,” he replied.

“That’s ok!” she said. “I love to garden!”

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“Oh! She and I have a lot in common,” I said to Emelia.

“Except that you’re not in a legacy,” Emelia replied, “and you’ve already got lots of money to pay the bills. Keep reading!”

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That night, the furniture company delivered Canada’s bed. She didn’t have money to buy lumber for walls, but on her first night, she didn’t care.

She moved the bed to the edge of the lot, and with the waves whispering, she watched the stars as each twinkled in its own rhythm.

“I’m at the beginning of a grand adventure,” she said to herself, and then, she drifted into a sound sleep, rocked by the rhythm of the stars and the waves.

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“And that’s the end of the first chapter. What do you think?” I asked.

“I like it. She looks peaceful sleeping outside there,” Emelia said.

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“I’d love to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean!”

“I like the beginning of adventures,” said Emelia, “before it gets complicated.”

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“I like the beginnings, too,” I said. “And the middles, and even the ends! And now, it’s time for bed, and maybe we’ll dream of oceans and stars!”

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HFH: Roxie’s Best Plum Day Ever!

Roxanna and Free-Jon have been laughing nonstop all evening–I mean, fall-down, hiccup-causing, nonstop giggles.

“I think I ate a plum!” Roxie says, and they both collapse in laughter.

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“This is the best Plum Day ever,” said Roxie.

“Have you ever celebrated Plum Day before?” I asked her.

“No,” she replied. “But this one is the best ever for sure!”

We started the morning with presents.

“Mom, this is the best ever,” Free told me as he opened his gift from Elder and me. Chewy-ba-ba, the toy we gave him, has become his new inseparable.

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He took Chewy-ba-ba with him to Emma’s birthday party, which just happened to fall on Plum Day this year.

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“It’s a Plum Day miracle,” he told Chewy. “Birthdays, and plums, and parties, and presents–all in a day!”

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At Emma’s party I glanced into the living room on my way to the kitchen. Emelia was telling a story about a giant plum at the center of the universe.

I had to smile, seeing how our family had grown so large that we could fill a whole living room!

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Uncle Jacob catered and baked a chocolate ganache cake for Emma. After Aya’s, Emma’s birthday is the next in a long string of birthdays. All of us original hippies are becoming adults.

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Emma didn’t let her birthday or Plum Day stop her from doing the dishes. She’s got adulting down.

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When we got home from Emma’s birthday party, it was time for our own Plum Day party.

“This is why Plum Day is so awesome,” Roxie said. “Two parties in one day.”

Forrest showed Roxie and Free how to do the hippie-groove dance.

“We got these moves down,” said Free.

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“We keep getting more presents,” said Tani. “No matter how many we open, they just keep showing up!”

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“I never had presents before,” said Roxie when she joined us. “But I’d have a great Plum Day even if I never had a single present!”

“You would?” asked Free.

“Well, maybe I’d like just one. Like a new hat! Or maybe a telephone, so I can call all my new friends. But what I’m saying is that Plum Day’s not about the presents.”

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“Who’s up for a game of chess?” Uncle Jacob called from the foyer.

“I’ll play!” said Free.

Uncle Jacob’s not really used to mischievous kids. I was pretty good when he raised me–it took moving out and living with Tani, Emma, and Gray to activate my mischievous side.

“What do you call it when your knight and your rook change sides?” Free asked. “‘There’s a horse in my castle!’

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We had more guests than we had places at the table, so some folks sat at the round table, and some sat in the living room. As I joined Elder at the table, I noticed that we were seated at the head and the foot–just like regular hosts!

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“This is pretty much the best breakfast scramble I’ve ever had for supper on Plum Day,” said Roxie.

“Have you ever had breakfast scramble for supper on Plum Day before?” I asked her.

“No, never!” she said. “I’ve never even had breakfast scramble before, not even for breakfast!”

“Well, I have had breakfast scramble before,” said Olivia, “for breakfast, lunch, and supper! And this really is the best ever! And I’ve even had a lot of Plum Day celebrations. And I know for sure, this is the best Plum Day Ever!”

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“Ever?” asked Roxie. “In your whole long life?”

“Ever,” replied Olivia. “And now that you’re here, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that it’s just the first in a long string of best evers.”

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HFH: More to Hug

It didn’t take long for Free-Jon to decide that it was ok to have a sister, after all.

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Tani said the kids made friends while dancing.

“Just move like this,” Free said. “Let the music lift your arms up!”

“Like this?” said Emelia and Roxanna.

“Just like that,” said Free, feeling pretty happy to be able to teach somebody something.

“You’re the best big brother,” said Roxanna, and Free was all smiles. It’s hard to resist a little sister’s adulation.

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We want Plum Day to be special for the kids, so Tani, Elder, and I got up early to decorate the house.

“So much has changed, Tani,” I said while we waited for the kids to get up. I was thinking how it was when we first moved into this big house, and about all who’ve left us since then: Alex’s dad, both of Tani’s parents, Dr. Jasmine. And all who’ve moved out of this house: Gray, Emma, Aya, Forrest, Alex. And all who’ve joined our big extended family: Elder, Free, Emelia, Roxanna, Liam, Desiree.

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“It’s awesome,” Tani said. “It’s what life’s all about! And you know, what’s important never changes. Friendship and family!”

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Roxanna was the first kid up.

“Mom!” she said, wrapping me in a huge hug.

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Then she hugged Tani, then Elder, and as soon as Free was up she tackled him in a bear hug.

“Good morning, Freezer Bunny Wolff Tea!” she shouted.

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I kept an eye on Emelia, wanting to make sure she wasn’t feeling left out. I mean, she just joined our family a short while ago, and since then, her favorite friend Aya moved out and Roxie has moved in.

But Emelia is doing great. She’s loving being a kid. And I feel I can trust her reslience: she’s seen more in all her travels through time and space than I can even imagine!

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And she and Free will always have those adventures that they shared together, just the two of them.

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On Sunday morning, we all headed over to Oakenstead so we could meet the other Gooding kids. Alex, Forrest, and Aya had found Dr. Jasmine’s old Plum Day decorations stored in the attic and really made the place look like festive.

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“You must be Desiree!” I said to the cute girl in braids. She seemed like she’d stepped out of a fairy tale, with her sweet smile and a sparkle of magic in her eyes.

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“I’m Liam” said the third Gooding kid.

And he started telling me, in a very precise manner, his strategy for earning high score every time at blic-block. Elder hung on his every word!

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When Roxie ran in after playing on the monkey bars, she greeted Elder with a hug.

All these gifts that Dr. Jasmine left us! A big home and three kids!

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I felt a rush of gratitude. So much has happened here in Oakenstead! This is where I first saw Elder, during our first Plum Day celebration. In this very room I first met Elder’s mom. Here’s where we had our wedding. Elder always said that he felt that Dr. Jasmine was like the guardian angel over our marriage–she’d been the one to encourage me not to give up on love. And now, her home had become an extension of our own, as our family of friends spread through town, always growing to include more people to hug.

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HFH: The Gooding Kids

I didn’t know what to expect–three kids waiting to be brought home from the orphanage?

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When life changes, it really changes. First, Emelia joins us, then Alex, Aya, and Forrest move out, and now this!

Dr. Jasmine had been talking about adopting ever since the Gnome-Kickers stayed with her during the big Plum Day celebration. But I didn’t realize that she done anything about it. Mr. Two explained that she had begun the adoption process for three children.

Now, they were left without a home.

We all talked it over. We decided that Elder and I would adopt one, and Aya, Alex, and Forrest would adopt the other two. That way, each child would have at least one other child in their home and none of us would feel so overwhelmed that we couldn’t give the children the care and attention they deserved.

Elder and I welcomed Roxanna into our family.

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Forrest, Alex, and Aya became parents of Liam.

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And they also adopted Desiree. We all decided that we’d give the kids the last name of Gooding, so that we could always remember that they were Dr. Jasmine’s gift to us.

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Most of us were overjoyed. But one of us was mad.

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“Whadcha hafta go and adopt a girl for?” Free shouted at me. “You think you’re Super Mom, or something?”

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“Free!” I said. “I think we’re Super Family! Any kid would be happy to have you for a brother and to be part of our family, right? Plus, you’re the king of adventures now, and being a big brother is one of the greatest adventures of all!”

“What can I say?” said Free.

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But he still stayed grumpy.

“Leave it to me,” said Tani. So I headed in to make sure that Roxanna was feeling at home, while Tanisha stayed out to talk things over with Free.

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“I know this is all kind of new to you,” I heard her telling him, “but just wait and see! Before long, you’ll see that having a sister gives you someone else to play with and practice your jokes on! Why, you, Emelia, and Roxanna can even form a club! You could call it the Freezer Bunny Explorer Club!”

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I found Roxanna sitting alone out back.

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“How’s it going, Roxie?” I asked.

“I found a bowl of chips out here,” she said. “So I ate them. Is that ok? I forgot to ask first, but I was hungry, and they were just sitting there.”

“Of course it’s ok!” I said. “This is your home! You can help yourself snacks and meals whenever you want! No need to ask! You’re home!”

“I like this!” Roxanna said. “Those chips were dee-licious!”

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Roxie made friends with Emelia over homework.

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“Want to watch TV?” Emelia asked when they finished.

“Sure!” said Roxie. “What shall we watch!”

“The cooking show!” said Emelia. “When I grow up, I’m going to be a foodie.”

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Later that afternoon, Free and I joined Roxanna while an old movie was on.

“You seen this movie, Free-Jon?” she asked. “It’s got a happy ending. I’ve seen it about a hundred times, so I know that even when it gets scary, it all works out ok in the end.”

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“Dad,” Free said, “don’t let the movie scare you. The music gets scary, but the other kid says that all’s well that ends well.”

“That’s good to know, son,” said Elder. “I always like to know that we can trust things to end up ok.”

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While Free and Emelia were playing upstairs, Alex came over.

“How’s the new kid working out?” he asked. “We’re all doing ‘bonding time’ back at Oakenstead, so I figured I’d drop by here for a while, rather than be fifth wheel.”

“Am I the new kid?” asked Roxie. “If so, then you can report back that I’m working out just fine, right, Dad?”

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“That’s right, kid,” said Elder, giving our new daughter the biggest hug.

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This is going to be fun, with Gooding kids spreading love all through town!

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HFH: Two Calls from Two

Emelia and I lingered at the breakfast table. This was our first Saturday morning together as a family, and we didn’t want to rush it.

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But our leisure was interrupted by a phone call.

“Mr. Two!” I said when I heard that familiar accent. “We haven’t heard from you since S-GAS! How have you been?”

He had no time to chat. This was a business call.

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My stomach dropped when I heard his officious tone.

“It’s Mr. Two!” I mouthed to Emelia.

Last I’d heard of Number Two, he was the solicitor for Emelia’s mom, Fey Johnson, who’d gotten into some trouble the S-GAS keynote speech events.

I put Mr. Two on hold for a second.

“Do you think this is on your mom’s behalf?” I asked Emelia.

“Nah,” Em said. “That version of my mom doesn’t even know I exist! That version of my mom only knows me as a rebellious teen who wants to speak her mind once and for all!”

“You sure?”

Emelia nodded.

“Sorry about that, Mr. Two,” I said, returning to the phone. “So what can I help you with?”

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It turned out that Mr. Two was calling to help us out! Well, he was just taking care of business related to his job as an estate representative, but it had the effect of helping us out.

“You mean Dr. Jasmine left her place to us?” I said, incredulous at his news.

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“Absolutely true, in entirety and actuality,” said Mr. Two.

All of Oakenstead had been left to us! We’d held Aya’s birthday party there, for we’d been told that we could use it while the estate was being settled, but we had no idea that the estate would be settled on us!

“See?” said Emelia. “I told you it had nothing to do with me!”

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While it doesn’t have anything to do with Emelia’s custody, it has a lot to do with all of us! A whole new house that’s ours?

Forrest, Aya, Alex, and I headed over there in the evening to look it over.

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It still feels to strange to me to be in that empty home. With all the furniture removed, the echoes of memory ring even louder through those barren rooms.

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“It sure is big,” said Forrest.

“I like it,” said Alex. “Imagine it filled with all of our stuff!”

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“Remember my birthday wish?” said Aya.

“I remember you said it would be like ‘a big huge happy-storm that would change the course of everything,'” I replied.

“That’s right!” she said. “And it feels to me like this is it!”

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We all talked it over. I really didn’t want to leave our home, and neither did Tani. I also hated to think of us splitting up.

“But remember when Gray and Emma moved across the street?” said Elder. “That turned out for the best, didn’t it?”

I had to admit that it did. I remembered what Gray had told me when they were deciding to move.

“Don’t think of it as your space shrinking. Look at it as a chance for your space to increase,” he’d said.

And it had worked out that way. We were over there a lot, and they were over here a lot. So it really was more like expanding, to make room for more people to join our circle, than contracting and having folks leave.

So, Alex, Aya, and Forrest moved into Dr. Jasmine’s house. There was plenty of money in the estate for refurnishing. And now we’ve got three housefuls of hippies in town.

And with Free and Em running around, our hippie house also feels like a house full of kids!

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Shortly after they moved out, Mr. Two called again.

“Yes, they’re all settled,” I told him. “Thanks for checking.”

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“Most delighted to hear it,” he said. “Now that frees us to move on to the next piece of business.”

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“You have the new domicile established, which puts you in the perfect position to receive the children.”

“The children?” I asked.

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“Yes! They are waiting for to be brought home from the orphanage. If you act quickly, you’ll have three more children home in time for Plum Day!”

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HFH: Friends become Family

Sarah Firecracker left before school started. She told Dr. Jasmine that she missed her families and she didn’t want to spend another day at “that boring school.” She did say that last night’s party rocked, and that made me happy.

We were feeling tired from all the parties, so we slept in and enjoyed another slow day. Gray and Emma took vacation days, and we just hung out.

We invited Dr. Jasmine, Max and Liz, Rose, Mikaela, Saffron, and Marcus over to hang out with us, watch tv, and play cards and chess. Mikaela went jogging in the park instead, and Elder went to school.

Did I mention that Marcus has decided to stay in town for a while? When the Nunley’s went back home, he took over their rental. In honor of Marcus, Alex decided to wear his “Where’s Plumbob” outfit.

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Rose wants to make sure that Marcus doesn’t see her cards. She’s got a good hand.

Max came over looking really sad. Even though he and Liz have been enjoying a second honeymoon in the Sugar Plum Suite at the B&B, he misses his son Zan, who stayed at home with his aunt.

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I’d be sad, too, if I were apart from my son on Plum Day.

Liz said they’d booked a trip out that afternoon. “We’ve had a blast,” she told Saffron. “Even though it’s a short trip, we got to go to a great party, spend some time just the two of us, and meet all of you!”

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“Plum Day is great! We’re really glad we came!”

While playing chess, Rose seemed to capture more than Gray’s rook.

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Gray himself is captivated.

A little after three o’clock, I heard a knock at the door. School’s out, and look who came over!

Elder

Remember to breathe, Cath.

“Hey! You stopped by! You wanna come in?” I asked. And my voice didn’t even squeak. My toes were tingling, but I checked in with the rest of me. No butterflies in my stomach. My breathing was steady. Man, I think Peyton’s message really helped me with my perspective!

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“You got a cool house.”

Following him inside, I felt just a glow. I didn’t feel like the floor was falling out under me. I didn’t feel like my mind would be overcome with all those giddy school-girl emotions. I just felt happy and relaxed. Yeah, this amazing guy is my friend, and here he is in our home, just like we’ve always known each other.

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And our house is even cooler with you in it, Elder Wolff.

Over a game of chess, I told Elder about the Desert Leaders program that Olivia Spencer-Kim-Lewis had left for. Elder seemed to hang on every word. He was especially intrigued by one of the ideas for the inspiration of the program, which came from a seed idea by Peter Senge:

“People with high levels of personal mastery…cannot afford to choose between reason and intuition, or head and heart, any more than they would choose to walk on one leg or see with one eye.”

He smiled that door-opening smile and said, “My dad would really like that. I think my mom and sisters would, too. Especially Ede. My dad’s got ‘personal mastery’ in the bag, and even though he’s all about reason, sometimes his intuition and his heart lead the way. Or maybe even all the time. I gotta look into that program.”

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You know a guy is awesome when he keeps smiling even while you’re beating him at chess. And neither one of us cheated once!

As afternoon slid towards evening, most of our guests headed out. Saffron wanted to get supper ready for Uncle Jacob, and Dr. Jasmine wanted to get the B&B ready for the next round of visitors arriving that night.

Max Evans was all smiles knowing that within a few Sim hours, he’d be home with his son.

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“Nothing like going away for a bit to make coming home even sweeter!”

Liz had this look about her, like she was pondering a clue to some mystery she’d been exploring for a long time. And Marcus said he wanted to get to work on his blog. He’s a professional blogger, you know.

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The coolest thing about Plum Day is all the great Sims I’ve gotten to know!

After everybody else left, Elder hung out for a while. When I looked into the living room, there he was, just like one of the guys. He’d pulled out his clay, and it was like he belonged there. I thought back on Peyton’s email, and what she said about how we can have more than one soul-mate. And seeing Elder there, one of our band, it felt like our group of soul-mates had expanded by one. It may be an impossible romance, but it’s not an impossible love.

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He takes his clay everywhere he goes now!

The next round of Plum Day visitors would be arriving late in the evening, so we decided we’d all head over there to hang out with them. We didn’t plan a party, in case they were tired from traveling and wanted to turn in early, but I brought along a package of home-baked cookies that Peyton had sent, and we were ready to have fun getting to know our new friends.

When I saw Ana Pringle dancing in the dining room, I felt like I’d found an old friend! Ana’s story was one of the first ones that I’d followed, and it somehow seemed natural and thrilling at the same time to see her right there.

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Ana Pringle! You are an awesome dancer!

We found Toya watching “Simless in Seattle” on the tv, and the show put all of us in a flirty mood.

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“This is Forrest’s favorite Plum Day movie! You’ll never guess how many times he’s watched it!”

Hunter O’Malley, happy and tired, went to bed early. We’d get a chance to meet him tomorrow.

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“Great accommodations, I gotta say.”

Tani and Alex hung out together and read on the porch. Alex looked so serious, but he was just trying to solve the Crisis Barn mystery.

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“It’s not that. I’ve just realized that I haven’t seen my dad for a while.”

Elder and Forrest really got into it. You could tell that each was trying to turn around the uncomfortable conversation they were having, but for the longest time their efforts went flat. Making fun of each other didn’t help. And each joke they told somehow went sour. It was wilty-flower-why-did-I-say-that all the way.

I was surprised. I mean, here were the only two guys I’ve ever really had a crush on. You’d think they’d get along, right?

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“Errr… so you talk like this, right, dude?”

Forrest told me later that eventually, when they were alone, Elder asked him about woo-hoo. After that, they got along great.

I really laughed. “What could you tell him about woo-hoo?” I asked Forrest.

“Nothing,” Forrest answered. “I just told him that the only thing I knew about it I knew from reading legacies, since I’d never had it, dude. Woo-hoo and I are strangers. After that, it was like all the bad vibes between us disappeared, and he stopped making fun of me, and we were pals.”

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Wherever Rose was, there was Gray.

I dished up the cookies that Peyton sent. They were so delicious!

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Cookies from Peyton make any night a party!

It was getting late, and we were getting so tired. We straggled our way back home. Except for Gray. It was like he had found his source of energy in Rose.

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“Nabad koozik?”

Poor Dani, Ana Pringle’s daughter, woke up after everybody but Gray had left.

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“I missed the party. But at least they saved me a cookie.”

Dr. Jasmine told me that before going to bed, Elder washed up all the dishes. Mr. Sunshine’s mom and sisters would be so proud of him.

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Does this beautiful Sim ever not smile?

Rose found a new friend upstairs and enjoyed a heart-to-heart.

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“Uni, there are so many new people I’m meeting! But you’re the coolest, Mr. Blue.”

We’ve got a few more days of Plum Day, filled with our recital, a dinner party, a chess tournament, and more hanging out. Then, our guests will leave, and we’ll get back to our regular routines. But I think that something of these days will stay alive inside of us, as we reflect on all the Sims we’ve come to know, our new friends that now feel like family.

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HFH: Touching Ground and Scaling Heights

Cathy Tea

Yibsi! An email from Peyton!

The morning after the costume party, I had a moment’s break to check my email, and there was a message from Peyton telling me just what I needed to hear.

Soul-mates don’t always have to be romantic and it sounds to me like your friends are your soul-mates in their own ways…

Romance isn’t everything–we can connect with other Sims on a very deep, meaningful level and that is an experience that so few Sims seem to ever have.

I do feel a soul-connection with my roomies, each one of them. And I feel that we’ve come together in this digital life to help each other grow, develop, and simply feel happiness and love.

Cathy Tea

Forrest and I bring each other such joy in our friendship!

Cathy Tea

And for me and Alex, our friendship has been our sunshine ever since we were kids!

When I see the transformation in Tani, especially, I see the deep value in this type of deep connected friendship.

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Tani’s so happy she dances on the landing!

Tani grew up with a mean mom and a mean brother, and I think now, being in a house that rings with kindness, she’s able to open up a new aspect of herself.

I don’t feel a past-life connection with these friends: But I do feel that in this current digital incarnation we are forming the type of connection that brings us together as a group, and that we will recognize and support each other any time that we meet in other dimensions and realms.

Hippies

Sometimes, it feels good just to spend time with those with whom we share our lives.

I do feel a past-life connection with my impossible love. Yibsi, I’m admitting to myself that I am in love with Elder. And I’m admitting that it’s impossible. Peyton’s words help me view our connection in a different light, one which shows that it’s all right just as it is.

When I look at Elder, something opens inside me, like what Ingrid Bergman experiences in “Spellbound” when Gregory Peck looks at her: door after door after door opens, and his smile reaches completely into my deepest coding.

Elder

That smile’s like a secret-garden key.

I feel a connection that is deeper than anything I’ve experienced, except, perhaps, with him, in another realm and a different time.

I feel I know him. And he knows me, whether he is conscious of that or not.

A little tiny part of me hoped that maybe Elder would stay, become a young adult, and he and I could live our lives together. I am not that much older than him.

But I have to face what is actual: He, like my pen-pal Peyton, is a legacy child. He could, perhaps, become heir. And if he does, when he does, he will have to have a child with another woman–a Townie or a Legacy Love, not a SimSelf like me.

Jung tells us that when faced with an impossible love, rather than trying to scale the wall, we must put down roots. Grow. Let our perspective reach great heights, then we can see over the wall.

My roots are here. As I grow, I look past what is impossible. Desire fades, and I am faced with… what? With beauty. With awe.

Cathy Tea

Putting down roots, and growing my perspective.

Oh, lor-ay! I am faced with mystery.

Elder, this beautiful teen, a miracle of digital creation, will always be joy to me, wherever he lives, whatever he does, whomever he is with.

Elder

He’s all that.

The word “gratitude” is too simple for what I feel. It is “ankara, amphora.”

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HFH: IncogNunley

What is it about the excitement of a party that can make a Sim’s heart spin? The whole Incognito Costume Party really sent me on a trip around Venus conjunct Moon and back again!

We held the party to say good-bye to the Nunleys. They’d been here since the day before Plum Day, renting this big house in town, and now they’ve got a new home computer and it’s time for them to leave. I’m going to miss them.

A costume party is such a great way to let loose and discover new parts of yourself.

Liz Evans came as a hot dog maid.

Liz

“Want your house clean, but you’re hungry, too? Hot dog maid to the rescue!”

The mixologist I hired was so mad! Turns out I had forgot to rent a bar for the Nunleys’ house!

Party

“How do you expect me to make a plum fizz without a plumming bar to fiz it on?”

Sarah Firecracker, like Max, had selected the astronaut costume.

Party

“Why does somebody else always have to wear same thing as me?”

My boy Forrest rocked the joint as a tofu dog! Yeah, Forrest! Show ’em what us vegetarians are made of, dude!

Party

“There’s more to meat than meat, if you get my drift.”

We didn’t all choose to wear costumes. Serenity looked awesome in her street clothes, and even though I look like I’m in a costume, this is just one of my Plum Day outfits.

Party

Turned out that the mixologist was really happy doing dishes all night!

Lovely Betsy Nunley lent a touch of elegance to the blue maid costume.

Betsy

“It’s hard not to look elegant in a room with a golden Christmas tree!”

As the party progressed, Sarah Firecracker began to enjoy herself.

Party

Is that a smile?

She’s pretending to check her messages, but I think she’s really checking out something–or someone–else.

Party

Is she checking her text messages, or checking the hot dog?

Tani was the perfect party host. As a rich kid herself, Tani really knew how to connect with Sarah Firecracker.

Party

“Oh, yeah! I know what it’s like to grow up in the biggest house in town!”

Soon, everyone was dancing and smiling and joking. It was a real party!

Party

“Get down! Hot dog town!”

“Is this a party, or what?” I thought to myself while baking a cake in the kitchen.

Party

You know, I think this party’s going ok!

Every time Sarah Firecracker smiled, my heart sang a little song! She really enjoyed talking with Sarah Nunley.

Party

“I guess you have a busy life with six foster kids!”

Outside, Mariah Nunley enjoyed some time with Eugi, Besty, and Isobel. Mariah and Sarah are magic with their kids!

Party

“Oh! Oh! Oh! First you cook the tortillas, then you layer them with beans!”

While the rest of us were dancing and eating, Liz and Max seemed entranced by the galaxy light show contraption. It was as if they were studying it, hoping to discover lost keys to an ancient question, or something.

Party

“Max, look at this. But don’t let anyone notice that you’re looking at, ok?”

The mixologist’s OCD came in handy! As quickly as we dirtied the dishes, he cleaned them!

Party

Gotta remember to hire this guy next time.

When I took a break from catering, I sat with Finn Nunley (also an astronaut), Sarah Nunley, and Sarah Firecracker. Sarah F. delighted us with a funny story about something that actually happened in a rocket with her half-brother Malcolm and Cassandra Goth!

Party

Really? It’s possible in a rocket? Weren’t they teens?

While I was pulling the cake out of the oven, a certain hot dog followed me into the kitchen. I tried to make light of my nervousness at being so close to him by making a joke about birthday candles and aging up.

Party

“Should we break the rules and add some birthday candles?”

But his smile made me feel even more nervous! When he smiles like that, I feel like he’s looking right into me.

Party

Look at that smile! I can’t tell if he’s saying, “Yeah, go for it!” or if he’s just laughing at how smitten I am!

Mariah Nunley and Sarah F. shared a heart-to-heart in the dining room. I felt so happy to see Sarah really connecting with some of the Sims she was meeting.

Party

“Yes, I can understand while you’re feeling eager to get back home and celebrate the holidays with your family–or rather, families!”

Poor Sarah and Mariah Nunley were so tired by the time we served the cake. They could barely drag themselves into the kitchen.

Party

What am I looking at over my shoulder that brings such a wistful smile to my face?

Party

Yeah. That.

Isobel Nunley, too, was so tired. The Nunleys had been packing all day.

Party

Liz, though, is non-stop energy!

Elder had brought his clay in the hidden pocket of his hot dog costume. I wonder what he thinks about while he molds that clay into something new.

Party

“Clay!”

Party

My heart is a lump of clay waiting to be fashioned into something new in your hands.

Mariah and Sarah Nunley, thank you so much for coming to our Plum Day celebration! You and your family really made this so much fun! Even though I never got a chance to meet Keegan, I know I’ll meet him sometime. And I am so grateful that I got to meet you!

Mariah

“We had a great time, and now we’re looking forward to our new home on our new computer!”

After the party was over, Isobel Nunley could barely drag herself up to bed, but Rose and Sarah Firecracker weren’t ready to stop dancing!

Isobel

Good night, Isobel! Thank you for coming to Plum Day.

I had no idea Plum Day would be so tiring! We aren’t used to late nights and load screens.

Party

“So. Happy. So. Tired.”

Tani was the hero of the evening, helping everyone feel happy and full of fun. She threw a party for the ages!

Tani

Sleep tight, Tanisha Snow! Tomorrow is Plum Day, once again!

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HFH: Departures/Arrivals

I woke up with a song about elderberry jelly rattling through my head. Or maybe it was elderberry wine.

Elderberry wine, 
You’re so fine,
Drink you all the time,
If you were mine.

Cathy Tea

What a funny song to have in my head, and what a sweet dream that was!

I had this dream that I had found something that I had lost that I had never known I had. Anyway, I had found it in my dream. Wish I could remember what it was.

Cathy Tea

I wonder why Sarah Firecracker didn’t have a good time last night.

While I sipped my morning coffee, I thought about Sarah Firecracker. I could see how she might not have fun here. I mean, she has to go to school. That’s something I hadn’t counted on. And she comes from a world with amazing homes, homes that make Oakenstead look like a shed, for RachelRosebud is an incredible builder!

And her home world is so full of color. I could see how a Black and White party in a world without woo-hoo might seem boring to the love-child of Geoffrey Landgraab and Scarlet Firecracker.

Cathy Tea

Even if it’s not fun, surely it’s still good for a Sim to see how worlds can vary.

I remembered the way Gray describes the meaning of Plum Day, “Infinite Diversity. Infinite Combinations.”

At least Sarah is getting a chance to experience some of the diversity that’s part of being a Sim.

And, with any luck, maybe this evening, our party will even be fun!

We’ve all been so busy with the Plum Day events, that we decided we’d take most of the day off today.

Cathy Tea

“Ang, thanks so much for coming! You guys really made the whole celebration! It wouldn’t have been Plum Day with you!”

Robinson Family was scheduled to leave. LeSean had to get back for the final-screening party for A Snowflake Carol.

I didn’t feel sad about saying good-bye to RobFam because I knew I’d be seeing them again. We’d run into each other at the gym, or I’d stop by and paint with Ang. We’d keep in touch.

While we were hanging out, Olivia stopped by. She looked a little wistful.

Olivia

“I don’t know what I’m making this juice for. Soon, I’ll be giving all this up.”

“I’m leaving town!” she told Emma. “I’m heading out to take part in the Desert Leaders project. It’s a really great opportunity for a Sim like me.”

Olivia

“Finally, I’ll have a chance to develop my geek-skills, and maybe I’ll even meet some fellow bros!”

I felt sad that Olivia was leaving. She and I had never actually become friends, even though we grew up together, but I always felt there was great potential for friendship there, and that at some point, we would become really close friends. And now she’s leaving. I learned a lesson about making friends then: don’t wait to make friends tomorrow, for tomorrow, the Sim that would become your newfound friend might be gone.

With that lesson fresh in my mind, I ran out to greet Elder when I spied him walking down our block.

Elder

“Yeah, school was super boring, but I’m just so happy to be here!”

I tried to keep my digital heart from beating too quickly while we talked. There’s just something about Elder’s voice that makes everything inside me move a little more quickly.

In the evening, I headed over to the B&B to meet the newest guests, Max and Liz Evans.

Max and Liz

“Max, don’t let the snowmen fool you. It’s really not about Christmas–at least, not in the traditional sense.”

Liz and Max seemed to delighted to be there.

Max and Liz

“It’s so beautiful! And so relaxing! And we so need this!”

Rose Sager arrived, too. I’ve been so intrigued with Rose ever since I started reading her and her family’s blog, “I Promised Forever.” She’s Clair Ursine’s daughter, for one thing! And she also has always seemed to me to live in her own world, and it’s a world full of beauty, that I’d love to be a part of, too, even if just as a visitor.

Rose

“Don’t look now, but is the sunset wearing my shade of purple and pink?”

Max and Liz seemed to feel that this was a chance for a second honeymoon for them.

Max and Liz

“I told you it would be great for us to get away!”

Plum Day is all about welcoming our guests to town. This is my favorite part of the whole celebration.

Max and Liz

“Our whole town is better because you’re here, Max and Liz! Thank you for what you bring with your presence!”

This was the Nunleys’ last night, since they had to leave the next morning for their new home on their brand new computer.

So tonight, we are going to throw an Incognito Party!

Sarah and Mariah Nunley offered to host the party in their rental, since it has plenty of room for all the teens.

I sure hope that tonight’s party goes better than last night’s!

Party

The first guests from the B&B file in: Rose as the pizza delivery Sim, Max as the astronaut, and hot dog Elder.

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HFH: Black and White and Boring All Over

“Well, it was a party at least.” That’s what the game said at the end of our Black and White social.

Cathy Tea

“I had fun, even if not everybody did.”

I’d had such high hopes for the party! But I guess I don’t know what teens enjoy. It wasn’t so long ago that I was a teen! But even then, I mostly hung out with adults and Alex. Even Tani didn’t hang out with me once we hit high school. I’ve just never been cool with the cool crowd.

We held the party for Angela Robinson, since I’ve always thought of her as elegant–and the Black and White is the most elegant of all parties.

We invited the adults and a few teens. From our house, only Emma and I came–plus our house guest Marcus. The others said they wanted to stay home and watch tv. They watched the first two episodes of an adaptation of Plum’s A Christmas Carol, called A Snowflake Carol and starring none other than LeSean Robinson!

Emma and I said we’d rather be with the real LeSean than watch him on tv, and Marcus said since he’d written the screenplay and directed and produced the teleplay, he didn’t need to see it again!

That morning, I’d stopped by the B&B to make sure that Sarah Firecracker had arrived ok. I was so excited to finally meet her! I’d been following her family, the Firecrackers, on the reality blog “Gather Ye Rosebuds” since before Sarah was born! I feel like we’ve grown up together, even though I’m older than she is.

I met her in the driveway, just as she was heading off to school. Once again, my fangirl enthusiasm didn’t go over too well.

Cathy Tea

“Hi, Sarah! Love your Plum Day outfit!”

She wasn’t impressed.

We’d received a phone call from the local school board to tell us that, even though we were celebrating Plum Day, it wasn’t an officially recognized school holiday, so any visiting teens or children would have to go to school on weekdays. That hardly seems like Plum Day spirit!

But since Plum Day can stretch for weeks, I guess I see their point.

Sarah didn’t seem too happy about it.

Cathy Tea

“Gotta go. Running late. School day.”

Or about being here. Or about meeting me, for that matter.

Sarah

“Talk to the hand.”

LeSean, Angela, and I spent the day at the Nunleys. I was so glad to get a chance to finally meet Mariah before the family heads back to their brand new computer. And LeSean and Angela really enjoyed talking with them.

Nunley

Mariah and Sarah are the closest of sisters!

We visited until the kids came home from school.

And then it was time for the party!

We all lined up outside Oakenstead for photos, since it’s not everyday that we dress up!

Black and white

It’s like looking at a piano keyboard!

Not everyone was having fun.

Sarah

“This is so boring!”

Sarah wasn’t the only teen to feel bored. Isobel Nunley found the little black dress to be not her style.

Isobel

“Oh, gawd. I can’t believe I’m wearing this. What if somebody mistakes me for Cassandra?”

Some of Marcus’s fans have been wondering if Malcolm and Marcus are really the same person.

Malcolm

Malcolm-Marcus mash-up

But we’ve got proof that Malcolm is Marcus’s other face.

Marcus

This doesn’t make Marcus two-faced just multifaceted.

Angela decided it was the perfect moment to catch up on blic-block.

Angela

“Hang on. I’ve almost got the high score.”

I love the way that Angela looks elegant in everything she wears no matter what she’s doing!

Saffron seemed really happy to be there,and she looked amazing in her dress.

Saffron

The lovely Saffron Bird

And Mikaela is such a knock-out!

Mikaela

The sophisticated Mikaela Hawkins

The party started looking up once the guests came inside and began dancing. It’s hard to stay bored when Plum Day songs are softly playing and the women are softly swaying!

Dancing

Even dancing the limp-wrist sway looks elegant in black and white!

Right before the party started, Elder Wolff arrived. He hadn’t known about the black and white, but his plum t-shirt suited him just fine.

Elder

“This clay is amazing stuff. It’s like addicting or something. What do they put in this crazy stuff?”

To me, a good party is when you can sit and enjoy a deep conversation with new friends. But I guess not everyone feels that way.

Sarah

“Not having fun.”

Marcus had a great time, though, enjoying a few jokes with Angela.

Marcus

Getting to know one’s own creation.

Even though it was technically a party for teens and adults, Vern was welcome. And he was on his best behavior. He was a little fascinated by Marcus Eugenius.

Vern

“You created me? Now I know why they call you  ‘Marcus! You genius’!”

Not all the teens were bored and feeling ungrateful. Malcolm really appreciated the salt and pepper shrimp!

Malcolm

Is he saying grace?

Dr. Jasmine, who knows how to put people at ease, did her best to help everybody have a good time. And once the dancing resumed, it really seemed to work! Mariah and Sarah Nunley had a lovely time, and I was so grateful that they shared their happiness with us! Isobel perked right up, too, once Dr. J started telling jokes.

Dancing

Dr. J’s got a wicked sense of humor!

I’d invited Uncle Jacob and even that crazy Don Lothario, but neither showed! Later, I realized that it was probably just as well that Don didn’t come, because in another wrinkle in space, he’s Sarah Firecracker’s mom’s husband!

Mr. Robinson disappeared upstairs during the party, so it was just Malcolm and all of us women. Even the entertainer we’d hired hid out upstairs, chatting on the computer during the entire event.

Entertainer

“Right. I’ll just be a sec and then I’ll play something on the piano.”

Sarah and I really tried our best to forge a sort of connection. I mean, we both love the outdoors! But this night, at least, it just wasn’t working. It probably didn’t help that we both wore the same dress.

Sarah

“Not having fun.”

At least Elder had a great time.

Elder

“You’ve gotta try this clay!”

Beautiful Sarah Nunley agreed that clay makes for a good party!

Sara

“Woot.”

But poor Serenity Nunley thought clay was for needlenorks.

Serenity

“Bored.”

Emma had the right idea, hanging out with the cool guys on the back porch.

Emma

“Hold your hands like this when you play the piano. You’ll find it’s easier to hit the notes and the touch will be so expressive.”

By the end of the evening, Isobel was happy. At least she didn’t feel that a grown-up black and white event was a total waste of time!

Isobel

“You know, this isn’t such a bad party after all! I’m actually having a good time!”

And Dr. Jasmine, too, discovered the pleasures of clay.

I was thrilled to finally catch a break in my hostess duties so I could meet Elder. I’ve been such a huge fan of his family legacy for such a long time–well, for all my digital life, actually. And to meet him in person, just about threw back into fangirl-tizzy.

Dr. J

“Hi. Elder. Sul, sul!”

I’ve had a crush on Elder’s dad Dia for such a long time, and Elder’s got the same smile. And now he’s here in all his pixels.

Elder tried to put me at ease, pointing out that Cathy T. on the other side of the screen was also a legacy writer, so he and I had a lot more in common than we might think.

If only he weren’t a teen…

Elder

“No, hey! I hear that the self you’re a sim of is a legacy writer, too! We’ve got so much in common!”

Dr. Jasmine is such a friend of my heart! I guess through all her years as a psychologist, she’s learned not to take other Sims’ emotions personally. She just lets everyone feel how they feel, and she goes about doing her best to help out and put people at ease. I think she’s found the perfect retirement career, running this B&B. And I’m so grateful that she can fill in all the gaps I’ve got when it comes to being a host or fitting in socially.

Dr. J

“I think it went pretty well!”

Mr. Robinson mentioned to me later that he’d been really proud of his boys and the way they’d behaved at the party.

LeSean

“Boys, I’m so proud of you. You both were gentlemen tonight. Really classy.”

Poor Emma got so tired that she snuck up to one of the bedrooms and went to sleep before the party was over.

Emma

Sweet dreams, sweet Emma.

At last the party was over, and the guests of the B&B were able to make themselves at home in their home-away-from-home.

Sarah

“Now we can have some real food.”

Elder

“Clay!”

As I walked home that night, so tired I could barely keep my eyes open, one of Prince’s songs gyrated through my sleepy head, “I would–die for–you.” All I could see was Elder’s smile and that lovely shade of plum draping the muscles of his shoulders.

Cathy Tea

If only he weren’t a teen…

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