Forgotten Art: Jasper – Seth 7

A reply to: A letter from Seth


Dear Seth:

Thank you for your letter, and my apologies in my late reply.

My receipt of your letter was delayed. You see, I left town for a spell, on a personal mission of sorts.


While I was away, I asked a friend to collect my mail. Which he did, faithfully. He delivered it when I returned, all except for your letter, which had fallen behind his TV stand, and which, since my friend rarely cleans house, was not discovered until yesterday. By now so much time has elapsed since you wrote. I suspect you may have immigrated to a completely new universe, as I feel I have.

I trust all is well? Have you been able to build upon the honesty with Sarah that you described in your last letter?

I hope so, and that you and Sarah are both healthy and reasonably happy.

I am both–happy and well.


My personal mission was a complete success, surpassing even my optimistic hopes.

My life and family have expanded since I last wrote.

My nephew Norm got married. I was fighting a flu (the flu won, temporarily, though I’ve emerged the victor now, with a robust immune system fairly bursting with antibodies for that specific virus. Three cheers for white blood cells! Warrior lymphocytes to the rescue!), so I did not attend the ceremony, but by all reports, save for my nontraditional niece Meadow’s, the wedding was a smashing success. A good time had by (nearly) all!


A few other expansions have happened within my own nuclear family, too. I won’t bore you with the details at present. Suffice it to say that the old aphorism, “Open doors lead to happy homes” holds true.


I have been busy.

You live with another, so you must be well acquainted with ways that conversation tracks through the daily routine. When I lived alone, I seemed to have plenty of time for everything–when I wanted to talk, I called a friend, invited someone over, or strolled to the coffee vendor in the plaza. Conversation happened on my terms.

But now? Now conversations seems to happen at any odd moment!

I am not complaining, merely stating that I’ve been busy, busy talking.


Of course, the frequent chatter makes the moments of quiet more valued. Do you find that?

I had forgotten the simple joy of spending silent time in the presence of another, the joy of living alongside other living beings.


To hear someone breathing beside you, to hear another’s unexpected laughter, to feel that body warmth that can stretch even across the distance of a couch pillow. And socks. I had forgotten what another person’s dirty socks smell like! How odd that this, too, would be a source of contentment.


I’ve been expanding my culinary repertoire. Have you or Sarah ventured much into the vast territory of recipes containing cheese? Not fancy cheese, mind you, what some may call “stinky cheese,” or “ew, gross cheese!” But good plain cheddar, preferably white. Simple, white cheddar.

It is amazingly versatile and, from all reports, even makes broccoli taste “delish!”


I’ve always considered myself to be a happy man, except, of course, during those crises when falling apart or mired in the depths of grief. Even a happy man experiences different flavors of life, sometimes–those undercurrents and shadows that ground the high tones. The basso continuo to life’s merry melody.

But now, I am happy at a new level. Maybe it is deeper? Or maybe, it is that it can be shared. When happiness contributes to the happiness of another, it becomes happiness squared.


Forgive me if I don’t answer all your questions. I find, on a typical day, I now spend about three hours answering the questions of another. And so my capacity and energy for question-answering is taxed.

I will skirt around one of your questions, though. You asked about dreams. I won’t tell you about my dreams. But I will tell you about an experience that was as rich as dream and as profound.

This happened shortly before the expansions in my household I’ve referred to. I took a walk through the city, winding up near a public festival in the Arts Quarter. It was a thinking walk, so I kept apart from the crowds, wandering the back alleys. I’d been talking to Bess in my thoughts, as I do, especially when I feel I am approaching crossroads.

The full moon shone down. I looked up, and, like a romantic, asked for a sign. A breeze from the bay. The silhouette of a jet across the moon. And the pink explosion of fireworks followed by a thundering boom.


Confirmation. The path of energy is anything but stagnant. It’s OK to seek a new constellation.


And a new constellation is what I now find myself in.

Seth, I hope your and Sarah’s lives lead you to happiness, expansion, and the rich fullness of breathing the same air.

Your friend,


<< Jasper’s Previous Letter

Zuki’s Home!


Today was Zuki’s first day with us. She went straight to the doll house. Her eyes were so wide, and she chirped.

“Think she’s hungry?” Meadow asked, when she started gnawing on Flower Mommy Doll.


She was humming. “I think she’s happy!” I said.

It’s hard to believe this day is here! This whirlwind happened after Meadow’s pen pal Dove wrote to her. I knew something was up when I saw Meadow reading her pen pal’s letter. Meadow gets this look like she wants to save the world, and that’s when I know: buckle-up for change!


“What is it?” I asked. I could tell something big was going to happen.

“Oh, Mizuki. It’s terrible. A refugee ship crashed and there were little kids on board.”


“And you want to help?” I asked. I needn’t have asked. I already knew the answer.

“Of course!” Meadow answered, just like I knew she would.


Next came a string of email messages, phone calls, and texts, and lots of long conversations about how best to help: Financial support? Meadow’s got loads of money. Volunteering with the agency? We both have a little extra time in our busy schedules. Holding workshops for care-givers? We’ve got expertise. Providing trauma-therapy training for the social workers? Meadow is a gifted therapist. Eventually, it came out that what was really needed were homes for the survivors, most of whom were under three years old.

Many had already been placed with qualified, carefully selected individuals, and the toddlers were receiving care. Already, they were successfully integrating into their families and the local communities.

But alongside these success stories remained a few dozen children who had been labeled “difficult to place.”

Some had behavioral issues; some had mobility challenges; some seemed to have nonstandard developmental patterns.

When Mr. Noriega learned that I was pursuing an advanced degree in childhood education and Meadow, a doctoral in trauma therapy, and that Meadow had already adopted a child from a refugee camp who was thriving in every way, he asked if we’d consider taking one of these “Category D” children.

I think this was what Meadow had hoped for all along. She beamed.

“We can’t really refuse, can we?” she asked.

Of course we couldn’t.

Meadow’s family has been supportive.

“Another grandniece?” said her uncle Jasper. “The clan expands!”


Jena has been an angel.

“How do you feel about becoming a big sister?” Jasper asked her.

“I’ve been practicing,” Jena said. “I’ve been bossing the kids at school all year!”


But Jena has natural empathy. I think she must have picked up on Zuki needing a little time to settle into her new home.

She didn’t rush towards her or try to smother her. She simply smiled in her quiet, calm way and let Zuki be in charge of her own physical space.


The approach is working! Zuki circled, studying her big sister and clicking her tongue. She’s a very curious child.


Confession time: I’m pretending that Zuki is Youssef and my love child. Shhh! Don’t tell!

But I think she looks like us combined. She’s got Youssef’s curly hair and broad nose. My blonde coloration and pale skin. She could be our baby!


When we learned her first name was Zuki, Meadow and I decided she’d take my last name: we filled out her paperwork entering her name as Zuki Suzuki.

And we entered my name, Mizuki Suzuki, as the primary care-giver.

And now, I have a baby daughter, who just so happens to look like the perfect combination of me and my squeeze, my own little Zuki-burger with curly fry pigtails!


Next >>

Forgotten Art: Jasper – Liam 5

A reply to: A letter from Liam


Liam, my friend!

It’s been too long since I’ve written you.

Why, I could have sworn it was just two days ago that I received your last letter. But when I look back, I see it was two months!

Forgive me. I’ve been puttering about, as my grandfather used to say. It’s not that I’ve been rushed–each day’s been full of the luxury of summer. But perhaps that’s just it. It’s been summer, and I’ve been swimming the tides of days, and now, here we are, nearing summer’s ends, and the first cool breezes have begun to sneak in on the backs of the morning fog seals.

It is nearly the end of summer, and I have been too full of the long luxurious days to even think to write!


Now, as the fog horn blows, it’s time to remedy that.

Greetings, Liam!

I trust all’s well with you and yours. Have you settled into sweet times after your dangers and adventures?


After my long stretch of much to do with nothing much to report, I suddenly have news!

I am host to a Writer In Residence. In fact, Bucky Duckson, renowned poet and wandering bard, is currently staying with me in the old brick house.

He arrived road-weary and travel-beat.


But a fresh shower, a plate of taco casserole hot from the oven, and he was brimming with energy again.


I have a good friend who is an editor at a small independent publishing house, and he’s the one who suggested that Bucky stay here during his summer tour.

The house has plenty of room, and I find inspiration in being around other writers. I’ve told Bucky he’s welcome to stay as long as he wants.


The inspired buzz has thrown both of us into productivity. I painted a pop-art portrait of Bucky: the artist and the dreamer.


Bucky has volunteered to write a poem for me in return.

“I’m not so sure I need a poem,” I told Bucky.

“Not even for a favorite teacher, who might also be a special friend?” Bucky had already met my charming organ teacher, Micah.


I can imagine that Micah has probably had dozens of poems dedicated to her already. And I’m too old of a fool to be tossing one more in her direction.

“Or what about a family member?” Bucky asked.

Now there was an idea!

“I do have a rather remarkable niece!” I told Bucky, “who has a birthday coming up very soon.”


He was interested in hearing everything I could share about Meadow.

“I’m on it!” he said, after I sketched her life story.

The next day, I threw a party so that Bucky could meet Meadow, and friends and family might meet Bucky.

Meadow was delighted.

“Bucky Duckson!” she cried. “I read your quarto!”

My editor friend had published a small volume of Bucky’s work. Good stuff!

“That one poem, especially,” Meadow said. “‘Granite Falls Girl.’ That’s haunting. It’s beautiful!”


Bucky spent a good amount of time talking with Meadow’s good friend and room-mate, Mizuki Suzuki, who told him about Meadow raising Jena and returning to school to become a therapist.


Norm filled Bucky in on Meadow’s childhood dreams.

“Did you really want to be a fortune-teller?” Bucky asked her.

“No!” she laughed. “Not a fortune-teller! A storyteller!”


“I’m mostly a storyteller,” said Bucky. “Poets, you know, tell the best stories.”

They talked about folklore and myth.


After the party ended and all the guests left, Bucky stood outside gazing at the moon. When he came back in, while I was washing the dishes, I heard him clacking away on his old manual typewriter, which he uses exclusively to compose his poems.

He showed me the poem the next morning, “For Meadow.” I’ve enclosed a copy of it.

I’m going to give her the original for her birthday in a few days. She’ll laugh. She’ll blush. She’ll claim it was written for someone else. But the truth is, this poem, in all its praise, hasn’t an ounce of flattery: only veracity. Meadow is all that.


Bucky seemed to find nearly as much joy in writing the poem as I did in receiving it to give to my niece.

Liam, if you’ve ever wanted a written tribute for your Lenora and Alina, Bucky is a poet-for-hire, and a damned good one, at that!

Well, I’m off to walk across the bridge with Bucky, who said he wants to experience all the traditional adventures of the city. We’re heading out now so we can return in time for the Spice Festival.

Enjoy summer’s end, my friend! And wishes for health and joy to your family.


Author’s note: Bucky Duckson really is a travelling poet who writes on commission! If you’d like him to stay with your Sim or to simply write a poem for them, you can reach Bucky at his Writer-in-Residence thread at the EA Sims Forums. Many thanks to LegacySims2017 for letting Bucky stay with Jasper for a while and, especially, for the lovely poem! 

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Forgotten Art: Gee-Jay – Tad 2

A reply to: A letter from Tad


Greetings and Salutations, Thanatos Dustpine!

We (that would be the both of us, Gee-Jay, in other words, Giuliana and Jasper) like your name!

For the sake of fairness, reciprocity, collaboration, and turn-taking, Giuliana (also known as Gee, among a host of creative and inspired nom de plumes), has decreed that I (that would be me, Jasper, also known as Jay, or the old bearded one) must write this letter.

So. Here I am at the keyboard, writing while Giuliana, also known as Gee, yada-yada-blah-blah, dictates what it is that I should write while it is my turn to write the letter on behalf of Gee-Jay.


On behalf of Gee-Jay, we think you’re funny.


No, really funny. As in side-splitting, hysterical, better-stop-before-the-Grim-Reaper-comes funny.

First, we were tickled when we read, “spiky but not unfriendly.”


But it was, “Names condensed into sounds that are like letters in your alphabet,” that just about slayed us, and “I do not know if that is a proper way to start a letter,” that fairly did us in.


Actually, I (Jay/Jasper, you know the rest) became a bit concerned for my young friend (Gee/Giuliana, and so on and so forth), and so I left the room for a moment before reading on to give her a chance to compose herself.

When I returned, she was deep in thought, something that is not at all unusual for Gee. (She asks me to write that it’s not at all unusual for me [Jay/Jasper, etc.], either.)

And you, our new friend, Tad? We (Gee-Jay, ad naseum) would like to know if it is or isn’t unusual for you to be deep in thought. In fact, Gee (you can recite it by now) reminds me that you wrote, ” I do spend quite a lot of time for thinking…”


“Time for thinking”–that has a nice ring to it.

In fact we think that we would like to start a club called “Time for Thinking” club. Would you like to be in this club with us?


Giuliana says that the title sounds a lot more intelligent that the former title of her other club, which was called “Stop Bullying, Stupid,” but is now called “Now!” and is a club that it also about pirates.

After we finished reading your letter–and didn’t die of laughter, I’m happy to report–we wanted to know what was so funny about it.


“I think it has to do with saying something very obvious, ” I suggested, “like Gee-Jay being our initials, but saying it as if it’s surprising or not obvious at all.”

We tried it out.

“Your shirt is actually a t-shirt!”

“Yours is, too!”

Not funny.

“It’s because the words are formal!” Gee suggested. (She is very perceptive, my young friend.)


I read aloud from your letter again:

It is a safe assumption that one needs time to write. Though sometimes I wonder whether – if contained properly – timelessness actually grants more time. Or at least takes away schedules. Then again, that might only work for beings who exist in a state that is not bound and guarded by time.

“It’s beautiful, right?” said Giuliana. “But funny, too.”

And I had to admit she was right.


Gee reminds me that I have lapsed into writing from myself, when I’m supposed to be writing from the both of us.

We both think that beauty and funny can go together, but we don’t think that being beautiful makes something funny, nor that being funny makes something beautiful.

We read a little more: ” I am not funny, at least never on purpose. I just do not seem to have a knack for it… And I do not think that I am very smart either.”

When we finished chuckling, Giuliana said, “It’s because it says one thing, but it’s really not the way it is, but it says it in formal language and kinda beautifully, and so we’re lulled into believing it, while we know it’s not like that, and so the way the two feelings don’t fit has to come out in laughing!”

And we think, maybe, that Gee is right on this one.

But we don’t have the knack for that type of humor.

We tend to go in for knock-knock jokes.


We are very touched by what you say about Gee being able to continue writing Dusk Mann, Tad. And we also thank you for the kind words you said about him. Gee wants to tell him about you in her next letter. She thinks that he will like knowing about you, even if he can’t write back.


Gee suggests that I (Jasper, also known as…) try writing to some of those that I’ve said goodbye to, also. I’m not sure that I will. I speak to Bess, my wife, often, though she left this realm nearly a decade ago. I still feel her with me, always. I don’t have an explanation for this, except that I feel there’s more to a person than the body that houses them, and when that body fades, what’s more doesn’t.

We are curious about universes without time or space, which you propose might possibly exist. We feel they might, too. It’s not something we’ve thought much about, but intuitively it feels that it could be a possibility.

What we want to know is if consciousness needs time–or space–in order to exist. We’re looking into the work of Giulio Tononi, Christof Koch, and Max Tegmark to see what they have to say on the matter. So far, we are fairly certain that Tononi and Koch hold that consciousness requires the presence of time, while Tegmark posits that it requires space, but we must admit that we don’t understand their mathematical equations well enough to be sure.

Giuliana assures me that she’ll be able to understand the math when she’s twelve. I assure her that, for me, it is likely hopeless.


We, Gee-Jay, would like to know if you, Tad, would like to join our “Time for Thinking” club, and if so, if you would enjoy thinking about the puzzle of consciousness, time, and space, with us.

We are happy (as in delighted) that you are our pen pal. Already we feel very cheerful, and we know that these smiles will return every time we think of, “Names condensed into sounds that are like letters in your alphabet.”

With that, we are hoping to be clever and sign our letter with something other than “sounds that are like letters.”

I (that would be me, Jasper) will sign like this: %(*)%

And I (this is me Gee, that would be Giuliana) will sign like this:  dsajkpwaorijwapeindklcxpidrheiawmvdmfg @@ aseprieam ## amkdfpaewi 56g967

Or you can call me Tazer.

Over and out,

With affection,

And gratitude,

And ponderings,

And it’s already way past time for someone to go home,



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Forgotten Art: Giuliana – Ayden

A reply to: A letter from Ayden


Dear Ayden.

I’ve been thinking about your letter. I learned a new word: conundrum. Do you know that word? That’s what your letter is.

How come you’re now a dad, and last time you wrote you were a little kid, younger than me?

I’m not that much older, only about ready to graduate from third grade, and before I was in the middle of third grade.

Do you think you’ll still be alive when I’m in fourth grade?


One of my pen pals was alive for a while, and he wrote me a lot then. He was moving really fast, and before I had a chance to write him back, he sort of got old and died. Or something. At any rate, I can still write him, but he can’t write me.

It’s weird.

Life is weird like that.

I was asking Jasper–did I tell you about Jasper? He’s my mentor. I was asking him about time. Because it isn’t fast for me, but it’s fast for you, and it was super fast for my other pen pal, the one that maybe died.

But I’ve got another pen pal, and I don’t think she even LIVES inside of time, because she lives forever. She’s a goddess. No, really.

And then, Jasper and I just got another pen pal together, and he says that “humankind” (that’s us) hasn’t figured out time yet.

Me and Jasper spend a lot of time trying to figure out time!


We’re reading this big book called, “From Eternity to Here: something-something Ultimate Theory of Time.”

For example, the book asks, “How is the future different from the past?”

My answer is, In the future I will be the same me and my heart will be beating in the same way, only I will be made of all different cells and I will be bigger.

Jasper said, “Yup. That about sums it up.”


What I really want to know is, What’s it like for you to be grown up now?

Do you still remember what it’s like to be a kid?


And if you still remember what it’s like to be a kid, does that make it easier to not get mad at your own kids when they act like kids?


Jasper says that he remembers what it feels like to be a kid. But he never had kids. So I wonder, if you have kids, do you forget what it feels like to be a kid?


My mom says she doesn’t remember anything from before she had my brother. So that’s why when I call her up when I’m at Jasper’s and I say, “Mom. We’re in the middle of discovering something, and I can’t come home until we discover it,” she will say, “Supper is in half an hour, Gee-gee. Be home then whether it’s discovered or not.”


No kid would ever say that. A kid would say, “Here! Have some chips! Let’s go chase the moon!” And off we go. That’s what Jasper is like, too, except he says that being friends is a privilege and if we want to keep that privilege we gotta play by mom-rules, too.

So. It’s home at supper time unless we plan ahead and make other arrangements.

Do your kids make other arrangements sometimes?

I guess I gotta go. I want to mail this letter to you before any more of your time passes.

Do you think you’ll be an old man when you write your next letter?

I’m kinda tired of losing penpals when their time is up, so I hope you don’t get old too fast.


Tell your kids that I used to know you when you were as little as them! They will think that’s funny and weird, because that’s what it is.

Bye, Ayden!

Your friend (who’s still a kid somewhere in the past and the future),



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Forgotten Art: Meadow – Dove 10

Author’s note: I accidentally published this before I added any words! Sorry! For those of you who saw it without words, I hope you enjoy it more with them!

A reply to: A letter from Dove


Dearest INWk,

How lovely your children are! They look full of delight! Do they keep you busier now that they’re bigger and more independent? I would imagine that all that curiosity and energy keeps you on your toes!

I was saddened to hear that your people also have domestic violence. When I first considered it, I felt that, being telepathic, the suffering from domestic violence with your people would be less. But then, the more I thought about it, I began to see that telepathy (and are you also empathic?) would not necessarily prevent the suffering. What I realized was that if we knew what others were thinking about us–especially their harmful thoughts–then we might feel even more hurt.

Is there such a thing as “privacy of the mind” among telepathic people?

Recently, I’ve been examining my support system. Or, maybe more accurately, I’ve been realizing that I don’t have much of a support system, and it’s time for me to build one!


Of course the subject came up through my volunteer work with House of Hope. In fact, we had a seminar for the staff (including me), along with employees of other local service agencies, like the refugee center that brought Jena here. The seminar’s title was “Support2“, and it was about the need for support-givers to have sound support systems.

We were given a worksheet. On it, was a starting list of qualities we would look for in members of our support system.

Here’s the list:

1) The ability to listen for the duration of my need to ventilate or communicate something without changing the focus onto themselves.

  2) The ability to then share regarding the given topic from their own personal history and/or perspective.

3) The ability to help me understand the situation from a different perspective, through systems-thinking, reframing, or providing new insights and understandings.

  4) The ability to voice at the start if they are unable or unwilling, for whatever reason, to give me the time that I need.

  5) The ability to inform me if the content of the conversation is harming them. This shows me that they are taking care of themselves and frees me from that responsibility.

  6) The ability to share what is bothering them AFTER I have finished. Not changing the focus of the conversation from me (if I initiated contact) until it was completed.

  7) The ability to comprehend what I am saying. Even if they don’t fully comprehend, are they at least trying to understand what I am saying or feeling?

  8) The ability to repeat to me what I am saying to help me clarify my comprehension and communication abilities.

  9) The ability to respect my right to refuse their venting on me if I am unable to cope with it.

  10) The ability to respect my privacy in regards to my property, body, and mind.

  11) The ability to not violate my space, body, or mind. This incorporates not touching unless gaining my permission, not telling me what I should do or how I should feel, or that what I am saying, doing or feeling is wrong in any way. It also incorporates not trying to make me adopt their point of view.

  12) The ability to encourage me to choose of my own free will what to do and to help me explore and discover the various choices available to me, even the negative ones. Not trying to fix things for me or run my life for me.

  13) The ability to accept and encourage my participation in activities without them and with other people.

  14) The ability to accept not being told everything and not being my only support person.

(from Building a Support System at SoulSelfHelp)

We were encouraged to modify, add to, delete, or edit this list in any way we wanted, so that it fit us. I added #3 to the list. Surprisingly, thought the list was created for survivors of abuse, I found that it fit me amazingly well. When I mentioned this to the woman leading the seminar, she looked at me carefully.

“Well, you’re highly sensitive,” she said at last. “We’ve found that HSPs (Highly Sensitive People) have very similar needs to survivors. It’s because the world is so harsh, my dear, so if you’re picking up so much stimulus, you need to take extra measures to protect your own privacy and autonomy.”

INWk, that statement floored me! It’s so accurate! I’ve always wondered why it was that I needed all these extra layers of privacy and protection in my life–now maybe I know!

The next step was to make a list of people in our lives who might be members of our support team. Of course, I put down my uncle Jasper, you, and my other two pen pals. I didn’t put my brother Norman’s name on the list, because I knew right off the bat that he didn’t have the capacity for items 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 12. I mean, not at all.

I wanted to put my friend Ira, who’s in the painting group I lead through House of Hope, on the list, as well as my uncle’s organ teacher, who’s also in the painting group. But we were told that we couldn’t have anyone in our support system who was receiving services from the agencies we worked or volunteered for. “You might be on their support team,” the leader told us, “but while they are receiving services from the agency you represent, they cannot be on your support team.”

I completed the project with my short list. We had to rank everyone’s capacity for each of the items we’d listed on a 10-point scale, with 0 for having no capacity to 10 for having strong and consistent capacity. You and everyone else on my list did great!

So the good news, I’ve got strong members on my team! Thank you,  INWk, for being one of them!

The bad news is only one of these people, my uncle, lives near me and is available for me to see regularly. Clearly, I need to do some work to fill out my support system.


I thought about my friends. Well, I don’t have many. There’s Anaya!

I invited her over one evening to see if she might be a good candidate. I really enjoy listening to her! She talks about art almost every time we get together, and I always end up feeling inspired.


But as we talked, I discovered that she doesn’t have all the qualities I’m looking for. She talks while I talk–I mean at the same time–and I’m not able to finish, complete, or even discover what it is I’m trying to say.


She also has a habit of zoning out while I’m talking.

I asked her once what she was doing, if I was boring, or if she was visualizing what I was saying, or what.

She confided that I was a little boring, and she said, “My mind is like a butterfly. It can’t be tied down! When the ideas come, my mind needs to follow. All my friends understand this.”


I can understand it, and it’s a fine and even admirable quality for a friend to have. It’s just not a quality I’m looking for in a member of my support system.

So, I added a new item to my list:

15) Has the capacity to listen to me without getting bored, or will at least take measures to pay attention to what I say even when I am boring.


So Anaya, while a valuable and inspiring friend, isn’t part of my support system.

The next morning, I invited over the social worker from the refugee center. She was at Support2 with me. She’s actually Jena and my social worker, since I adopted Jena through the center, so, while I can’t be on her support team, she can be on mine.


We had a good visit. I definitely feel like she’s a strong member of my team.

The thing is, she kept getting up and walking around while we were talking. This isn’t the first time she’s done this. She always walks around while we talk.  I think it’s just that she has a lot of energy and she’s a very physical person. But I find it a little unsettling when we’re in the midst of a deep talk, and she’s suddenly up walking around and joking.


I thought about adding a new item:

16) Has the capacity to stay seated during a deep conversation.

It’s important to me, but I have the feeling I’m being petty, so I left it off the list.

I felt better: In a day, I was able to add one more person who I see on a regular basis to the list. I knew I still had some work to do, though.

That afternoon, my stereo broke. Usually, I fix it myself, but I was in the middle of painting, and Jena wanted some attention, so I decided to call a repair person.

I really like the woman who the Fix-It company sent!


After she finished her work, she stayed for a while, at my invitation.

As soon as we began to talk, she sat down. And I noticed she remained seated the entire time we talked!


She listened to everything I had to say. She never interrupted. And then she shared insights and observations from her own life, and everything she shared helped me understand better the situation I’d been talking about!


I had the most amazing feeling while I was talking to her: I felt really, truly listened to.

While I was talking, she became quiet–not just “quiet” as in waiting-for-her-turn. But quiet–as in still, but attentive. Truly, deeply listening to what I was saying, without thinking about what she would say next.

It felt like a real gift.


I hope I am able to learn and practice that quality.

She stayed for about half-an-hour, and we became friends in that time. We’re getting together for tea next week. I really hope that we stay friends because she’s someone I’d love to have on my support team. And I’d love to be on hers.


Oh, this is such a long letter! I hope it’s not too boring! Well, you can tell me if it is!

INWk, thank you for being such a good support person for me! I hope that I have the capacity to be a support for you!

I was so excited to hear that some of your inventions are making it out into the world! How does that feel? I did notice your new ice cream flavors, Weight of the World and Taste of Diet. In fact, I bought Weight of the World, and I love it!

It’s so exciting to me to think that I know the inventor of that ice cream! I hope that you’re getting lots of great feedback on it–you deserve it!

Fill me in on all that’s new with you! It always seems like so much happens in your world in between our letters, even though in mine, the days barely crawl by!

Maybe you can explain the funny textures of time to me.

So much love to you and all of yours!


p.s. Jena thanks you for the Cat Compendium! She adores cat words! 🙂


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Forgotten Art: Jasper – Alina 1

A reply to: A letter from Alina


Greetings to the Lady of the Manor, Alina!

A delightful surprise to hear from you–it is, indeed!

You may not know this, but Liam has already told me a good deal about you, including the curse and your bravery in wanting to do what’s needed to remove it.

I take it that you haven’t yet endured that test? Or have you, and you’re now writing with the trial complete? If so, I trust that the curse has been removed and that you’re free. And if not, I’m wishing you all the best.

I’ll tell you: You and your family have given me much to think about.

Do you find that some things need to be thought about in a special corner of the mind?

That’s how I feel about the stories I’ve heard from Liam, and now, from you.


I’ll tell you some of me and my life, since you were so open about yours.

I have a special love of certain places. I suppose we all do.

Behind my niece’s home is an old orchard. We discovered it decades ago, when my brother first bought the house and property that my niece inherited.

We thought it was an abandoned orchard at first. And, indeed, we’ve never seen anyone tend it. But the lemon and cherry trees are well cared for. By whom? I have a feeling that your mother may know–or possibly Silvan.


I went there the other morning. You see, I’d stopped by the produce stall in the square near my home, but the vendor was all out of lemons. Limes, they had plenty of. And blood oranges.

But not a single lemon.


I harvested several from the old orchard. Most I kept for lemonade and tea, but one I planted in the garden.


Now, I know it sounds foolish to plant a whole lemon! Even a pip might not sprout! And even if it did, it could take decades to grow into a tree. And even then, citrus trees usually need to be grafted to produce quality fruit.


But I’ll tell you: I’m no longer one to place my faith in the practicalities of anything, not even horticulture.

You see, after writing to your step-father, my eyes have opened to magic. That a seed could grow: There’s not much more magical than that. So what’s to prevent these lemon pips from sprouting and growing into a shading tree with fruit-bearing branches?

And if nothing comes of it, no matter: I got my hands in the soil and felt a rush of hope, and that’s reward enough.

I’m glad to discover that you love to read.

Since I was a boy, books have formed a good portion of my life. I’m a retired literature professor.

I’m discovering many joys of retirement: One is, I’ve got time for other activities. Another is, I can stay up all night, if I want to. A third is, I can combine joy #1 with joy #2 and stay up all night doing something fun.


The night I planted the lemon, I stayed up and painted a mural. It’s beside the garden, near the public walkway that leads down to the waterfront.

I’m hoping passersby enjoy this scene of nature I painted here in the city.


Where do you find your courage, Alina?

That is something I’ve noticed in Liam, too: a deep abiding courage to face shady dangers and come out even stronger.


I can think of only a handful of times I’ve had to muster courage.

My wife and I both had to be brave during her last years on this planet. Her illness hit her hard, and there were nights when neither of us thought we’d make it through. But then grace would come: She would shine into a form of consciousness that I can only call presence: lit up from within, she was.

I’ll tell you a secret: I never thought I would see that type of bright presence again, after my wife left. I felt–this feels strange to write–that I’d been given a gift in her passing: the gift of witnessing a spirit lit up with conscious awareness.

I treasured that. I still do. It’s what I draw on whenever I find my emotions weigh me down or my thoughts get snagged and entrapped.

I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing that was more rare than the magic of a lemon pip sprouting.

But the other day, I was babysitting my grandniece, and my nephew stopped by. The two began playing, and they became so caught up in their play that everything else dropped away, and there was that same grace.


Do you know that grace?

Is that where your courage comes from?

With grace like that–with consciousness in its purest form–I am guessing that the strongest curse stands not a chance.

My nephew came in from playing, and he was my same nephew as always, just as if he hadn’t been transformed into a light beam just the moment before.

“Most excellent tacos,” he said. “Could use more salsa, though.”

Then he launched into a fifteen minute dissertation on the history of salsa and the best types of tomatoes for it and the gradations of spiciness on the the Scoville scale.


When he left, while my grandniece slept on the couch, I thought about the quicksilver of awareness. It touches us–our minds flicker awake for an instant–and then, unless we’ve experienced lasting satori, we settle back into the mundane and our thoughts chatter with facts and opinions.


Ah, but that’s being a person!

And at least we have those moments–and they can sneak up on the least suspecting of us, when we’re listening to music, focused on a task, playing with a child.


Dear Alina, how much I’ve written! And none of it is hardly the normal stuff of a typical letter!

But I know enough of you and your step-father to know that typical isn’t what you seek in a pen pal correspondence, so I feel the liberty to share all my rambling thoughts with you, chasing them down the chattering brook.


If you haven’t endured what you must to remove that curse, then I want you to know that I’ve sent out scores of well-wishes on starlight, clouds, and ocean breezes.

And if you have, then know I send my gratitude, as well.

Be safe. Be well. You know already that you’ve been blessed.

Wishing you the best,


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Forgotten Art: Jasper – Liam 4

A reply to: A letter from Liam


Greetings Liam!

I received the most surprising letter the other day. It was from your step-daughter Alina!

Since she wrote, I am guessing that the danger is passed, that she’s returned to the living, and that the curse has been lifted.

I certainly hope so.

I worried for her, you, and your family.


Of course, worry is foolish. I know this!

But even still, when those we care for are in trouble, it’s hard to banish worry with a thought.


You mentioned that magic seemed to be rubbing off on me. I hadn’t thought of it in that way. I had thought that your letters and the power of your words were opening my eyes to the magic that was always around me–that everyday magic that we’re often too busy to notice. Or maybe it’s just that we don’t conceive that it could be here, in this world, in this moment, and so we don’t see it, we only feel it as an invisible buzz around us.

But maybe it is as you say, and, in addition to opening my eyes to everyday magic, your words open the channels between our worlds and magic enters in.

Could be.

I received a most interesting phone call the other day.


It was from my niece. Nothing unusual in that, right?

Except she had an appointment and she wanted to know if I could come babysit.

Now, I’ve volunteered to babysit my grandniece Jena many times. And now and then, Meadow will drop her off at my home while she spends a precious half-hour taking a walk or getting a cup of coffee.

But this day was different.

I’d be babysitting at Meadow and Jena’s home, and my niece would be gone all afternoon.

It may seem a small thing, but to me, it’s close to a miracle that Meadow has developed enough trust in her daughter’s safety that she’d leave her for an entire afternoon, even though she’s leaving her at her own home with her favorite (and only) uncle.


You see, Meadow’s been fretting about Jena’s past. Jena’s birth mother died giving birth, and, because Jena was born out-of-wedlock, she was shunned by most of the people there at the refugee camp. When Meadow learned of Jena’s past, she took it hard, worrying that trauma from those years might affect Jena’s present happiness.

I’ve been trying to convince Meadow that her little girl is happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. Taking this step of letting me watch her for an entire afternoon shows me that, sure enough, Meadow is beginning to trust in her daughter’s well-being.


I’m also smiling at the reason that Meadow needed a sitter for an afternoon. She’s considering volunteering at a shelter for women and children.

Now that’s a good thing! Meadow has so much to offer others, and she hasn’t always realized it, not because of lack of self-confidence, but due to the assumption that everyone had it as good as she did.

My niece and nephew were raised in privilege, and my brother and his wife did a good job in raising them to be good people. At the same time, they’ve lived in a bubble of good luck.

Jena and her tenuous first years at the refugee camp introduce hardship’s touch, and now both Meadow and her brother have begun to look for ways to make a difference for those suffering in this wide world.


I thought about this while babysitting that afternoon.

My thoughts mingled with the stories you told in your letter.


It would be so easy for those stories of loss and danger to weigh heavy and to weaken one’s faith in the goodness of life.


But look at you! Look at the wisdom, kindness, and generosity you carry! Look at the sacrifice each member of your family and clan are eager to make for another’s benefit.

Look at how Meadow, and even my nephew Norman, are now looking for ways to help others, to make even one life easier.


It’s one thing to be good in heart and good by nature.

It’s entirely different for hardship’s shadow to prompt us to put that goodness into action.


That’s when caring becomes compassion: goodness plus action.

So, yes. I would say that magic is indeed rubbing off on me and on my family.

Alchemy is magic, right? And when suffering and hardship transmute to trust and compassion, that is pure alchemy.


Thank you for encouraging Alina to write me! I look forward to getting to know her.

Wishing you health!

Your friend,


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Forgotten Art: Norman – Mel 2

A reply to: A letter from Mel


Dearest Mel,

I’ve been thinking about your question every since I got your letter:

“What are your feelings towards reincarnation?”

I’m not sure what my feelings towards it are. Like I said, I’ve been thinking about it.

In fact, I’d say, since I read your letter, reincarnation has been on my list of top-five-things-I-think-about. (The others, in no particular order are: 1) When will another vintage Llamacorn be available on e-Bay? [preferably a gold and purple one to round out my collection] 2 a) Will we ever be able to develop a bird-safe method of harvesting wind power, and 2b) if not, how long will it take us to switch Windenburg Wind and Sun to Windenburg Sun and Sun?, and 3) How can WW&S attract more innovative physicists?  and 4) Why?)

My thinking about reincarnation didn’t get me far, though, except to realize that I’d never thought about it before.

I decided to talk to people. First question: Whom did I know well enough I could ask them about their feelings or thoughts on reincarnation without them thinking I was a nut-case? Or… to reframe: who already thought I was a nut-case and wouldn’t mind talking with me about subjects esoteric and strange?

Of course, my kid sister was first on the list. I ran into her at a party at the Von Haunt Estate.

“I need your educated opinion, Meds,” I asked her. “Reincarnation: Yes or no?”


“Yes!” she replied. “Think about it, Norm. In every culture, there are references to it in folklore! And I’m not just talking about Hindu, Janis, Sikh, or Buddhist tales. Even in folklore from Christian cultures, you can find modified versions–for example, Cinderella’s mother becomes a dove, another departed mother becomes a juniper tree. There are so many instances!”

“But those are fairy tales,” I told her.

“Sure, yes,” she said. “But fairy tales always point towards experiences so deep in our collective unconscious that they can only come out in story! And, what comes out in story always indicates truth so strong it can’t be suppressed. Not even by religion or science.”


Then, a few nights later, I made a new acquaintance downtown. OK, so he didn’t know me well. But he seemed open to conversation. We were talking about stars. I said something about stars dying. He says, with no prompting whatsoever, “It is not death. It is the perfect cycle that goes on everywhere.”

“Kind of like reincarnation?” I asked.

“Ah, well. That is. Um, yes,” he replied. And then he had to leave suddenly.


My uncle Jasper was next on my list. Now, Jasper lives for this type of talk.

“Reincarnation. Yes or no?” I asked him.


Of course I didn’t get the short answer. First he launched into a recitation of reincarnation in literary traditions. Then he began a dissertation on “what can be known and what can be sensed and the difference between the two.” Then he said, “Now, Bess. She had memories. And Bess’s memories are not to be doubted.”


Turns out, my aunt had three spontaneous memories of past-life experiences. Each one hinged around a moment of decision, and each decision affected life themes for her in this life. In one, she was a peasant who avowed never to live in poverty again. In one, she was a warrior who promised to protect his family and tribe. In another, she was abandoned by a faithless husband, and she swore never to let that happen to her again.

Jasper said he believed the memories, since each had been made at what he called “a decisive moment of power.”

“The themes,” said Jasper, “these were what were ripe for her in this life: to learn to trust abundance; to protect kin and clan; to choose someone who could be faithful.”


That got me thinking. That got me feeling. I loved my aunt Bess. She was a good person, Mel. I think you would like her. So, if this was part of what made her good, maybe there’s something to it.

My niece was there that day Jasper and I talked. I decided to ask her.

“Did you have another life before this one, Jena?”

Of course, she had. She’d been born in a refugee camp. Coming here, getting adopted by my sister–that was reincarnation in and of itself. I know it’s not the kind you’re asking about. But it’s dying to an old life and being reborn in a new one, all the same.


The last person I asked was my best friend Ira.

“I’m taking an informal poll,” I asked her. “Reincarnation: Yes or No?”


“Oh, yes!” she said. “Most definitely!”

She pulled out Mistress Mew-Meow from her pocket. You see, Ira is also a collector of antique toys.

“Take Miss M-M,” she said. “This was once something very different! What’s plastic made of?”

“Oh, hydrocarbon. Natural gas. Coal. Minerals. Plant stuff.”

“Very different, yes?” She squeezed Mistress Mew-Meow to make her meow. “And now! Here she is, a little cat with a bright smile! If that’s not reincarnation, I’m not sure what is!”


I’m not sure that’s reincarnation. That’s more like the recycling of matter into another form. But then, that was what my new acquaintance called it. When a star dies, its matter becomes the stuff of life somewhere else in the galaxy.

I thought long and hard. Eventually, I realized what I’ve always known: what my dad taught me when I was knee high. Science only goes so far. I’m a scientist. My scientific training schooled me in the method of proposition, trial, blind-trial, repetition, quantifying, measuring.

I’m a scientist. But I’m also a human. So my feelings, my feelings are that there is so much more that lies outside of the territory of science: there’s folklore. There’s religion. There’s experience and memory and the collective unconscious. There’s feeling. My feeling, when I think of my sister’s bright eyes, when I think of Aunt Bess’s big heart, when I think of my niece’s little scowl, and when I think of Ira’s laughter–my feeling is that there’s more to us that endures and finds its way into a new form–carbon-based or otherwise–than not.

Some things, like the starlight in another’s eyes, simply can’t not exist.

I’m not making sense. But then, that’s why I usually stick to the realm of thought, rather than feeling.

And you, Mel. What are your thoughts–or rather, feelings–about reincarnation?

Is it silly for me to say that I hear your voice–or rather, a voice I imagine to be yours–when I read your letter?

I hope you keep writing.



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Forgotten Art: Giuliana – Mathilda 2

A reply to: A letter from Mathilda


Dear Mathilda,

I can’t believe you wrote! I’m so happy. I decided to write this letter by hand, so you can see how happy I am when you read my letters. The circles in the e’s and a’s are really big, right? That’s because I’m so happy!

I told my brother you wrote back.


“No way,” he said.

“Yes way!”

“A real live Goddess,” he said.

He was impressed.

“Hey, maybe she can do your homework!” he said. “Maybe she can do mine!”

I told him no. You’ve got rules you got to go by. But we were still both really happy. I am especially happy because if I do my tests you set, I will be a real hero.


You know how in the books the heroes always have magical helpers?

I think I found my magical helper. His name is Jasper, and when I want to know stuff, he asks me questions, and the questions he asks help me discover what I want to know.

I told him I needed to find rocks, plants, and metals. But I didn’t tell him what for. The tests have got to be secrets, right?


Jasper asked, “Where do you think you’ll find these elements?”

I said I had no idea. Well, I have some idea. I know I could go to the plant store and the rock store and the plumbing parts store and buy them, but one, I have no money. And two, that’s not the way tests work, right? So I’ve got to find them.

Jasper said, “How do you think you’ll discover where to find them?”

By exploring, I said. So we explored the park for a while, but we didn’t find anything.

Then Jasper said, “Sometimes, I read up on things in books when I need to learn more.”

He took me upstairs to the Reading Room in the community center at the park, and we found bookshelves and bookshelves of books!

“Where do I start?” I asked him.

He showed me the geology shelf, the botany shelf, and the shelf with the metal-stuff books.


I learned a lot about rocks. I wanted to learn about what you said about singing stones, so Jasper showed me the folklore shelf and I read all about singing stones.

There are these big metal-like black stones, I think they’ve made of basalt which means they came from a volcano, only they’re in a place in France where there are no volcanoes! And when they bump each other or when the wind blows through them, it sounds like ringing wind chimes! And no one knows how they got there! But I bet you do!

So, we’re not going to France. But I did also learn about some rocks that we might find in the park in Willow Springs. Jasper said he will talk to my mom and dad to see if he and I can take a field trip there.

He read a lot about plants because he loves trees. I think he wants to marry a tree!


After we finished research, Jasper asked, “Is there anything else you want to read?”

I could see he was still real into his tree love story book, so I said, “Sure!”

And I found a book about magic and wizards and witches and goddesses. And you know what? It was almost as interesting as your letter, but your letter was way better, because you really are a goddess and a witch and everything you wrote about really, truly happened.


When we put our books away, Jasper said, “Here! Look at this!” And he showed me his GPS on his phone and it had all these bright dots and when I asked Jasper what they were, he said, “These are known metal deposits!”


So, even though I haven’t found the metal or the rocks or the plants yet, I have a start!

I, Terseus, accept the tests, O Mathilda!

I am your apprentice servant.

Forever, or for life!


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