Forgotten Art: Jasper – Seth 7

A reply to: A letter from Seth

seth710

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.

seth701

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.

seth702

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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Forgotten Art: Jasper – Liam 5

A reply to: A letter from Liam

bucky107

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!

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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?

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.”

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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!”

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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.

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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!”

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

They talked about folklore and myth.

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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.

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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.

–Jasper

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: Jasper – Liam 4

A reply to: A letter from Liam

alina111

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.

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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.

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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.

liam403

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.

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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.

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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.

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I thought about this while babysitting that afternoon.

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

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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.

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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.

liam406

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.

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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.

alina112

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

Wishing you health!

Your friend,

Jasper

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Forgotten Art: Jasper – Liam 3

A reply to: A letter from Liam

liam308

Dear Liam,

I received your letter with joy.

I trust that the situation with Mathilda’s daughter Alina has resolved itself. If the curse has not yet been lifted, then I’ll send my good thoughts and wishes with yours for safety and healing.

Strangely enough, curses are something with which I do have experience.

liam310

A few years ago, when searching for healing from a persistent sinus infection, I found myself with a psychic healer. I’d visited her for flower essences, since my niece Meadow had suggested the essence of calendula as a powerful cure for ailments of the sinus passages.

The healer took one look at me and said, “You’ve been cursed.”

I must have started, for she said next, “I don’t mean to disturb you with this news! It’s a simple statement of fact.”

She went on to describe that a curse is another word for carrying the emotional energy of another.

“The intense emotions, especially anger or sadness, of another person can be passed onto you and become lodged in your body. We call this ‘a curse.’ It doesn’t always happen consciously or even intentionally.”

She proceeded to ask me if I could recall anytime when my jaw or face had been touched by anyone who was upset. “Even a dentist,” she said.

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A memory from late childhood rushed back. I sat in the dentist chair, my jaw force open by a metal clamp, getting my molar filled. While the dentist drilled, he complained to his assistant about his divorce. His voice was thick with grief and rage.

“That’s it!” said the healer when I described the memory to her.

She performed a healing, which consisted of nothing more than a blessing, a prayer, and the waving of her palm over my jaw.

I felt something lift. From that moment, my sinusitis has been gone.

liam307

With a powerful witch like Mathilda for her mother, I trust that Alina’s healing will be swift and complete.

My niece and I have made a silent pact not to talk about our pen pals with each other; but I suspect that you are right, and that this pen pal endeavor is certainly “all in the family.”

My nephew has recently signed up for the project. His eyes got a suspicious twinkle when he mentioned it, so I’m guessing he found an enchanting reason to join.

liam303

Since writing you last, my everyday life feels imbued with magic.

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At certain times of the day, the line between worlds seems to thin, and I suspect all sorts of energy to fly in from lee-lines in every direction.

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At any rate, my disbelief seems to be evaporating, and I am finding that mystery in every moment.

liam309

Have you ever wondered about capacity for friendship?

I had a time in my life, when my teaching connected me with a hundred students and dozens of colleagues each semester, when I felt that I had limited capacity for others. I was often beyond the full-meter.

Lately, though, it feels that there is room in my amygdala for everyone I happen to meet.

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Did I mention to you that I’ve become a tutor through the gifted program at a local elementary school?

The school has recruited retired professionals to work one-on-one with children in the program. My young friend seems to be bringing me more than I could ever hope to return!

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For one thing, she asks questions that get me to think–in much the same way your letters do, as a matter of fact.

Recently, she asked me about time, and I had to pull out that old fabric analogy to offer up a possible example of string theory in action.

She is forcing me to stretch the boundaries of my knowledge, and for an old codger like me, that is a very good thing.

liam302

We spent last Saturday afternoon in the Reading Room at the city park. She had questions about crystals and metal ore, so I suspect that a field trip will be in order next weekend.

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I feel blessed to live alone. Mind you, the years I shared my life with Bess are perennially treasured–but it’s the solitude I have now that opens up the time for treasuring.

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When I was a young man, I felt guilt at indulging in solitary pleasure. Now, the moments when I can let my attention completely focus at the task-at-hand, uninterrupted by the words, thoughts, or feelings of others, come as gifts of luxury.

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Have you noticed that a meal gains flavor when prepared with attention?

Now that, I feel, is magic.

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Wishing you health, and health to those you love, too.

With gratitude,

Jasper

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Forgotten Art: Jasper – Liam 1

liam101

Dear Liam,

I suppose an old man like me shouldn’t be surprised by mysteries. But you know how life goes. Sometimes, we fall into the pattern of the mundane.

“An old Irishman in a young man’s body.” Now there’s an intriguing introduction.

In fact, the hints sprinkled throughout your letter point to mysteries that, for now, I will simply let lie. While investigative by nature, I’m not one to pry, and I’m sure that all I’m intended to know will be revealed through time.

You and I seem to share a love for wood.

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I’ve been working in cedar lately. It’s not the best for carving, being soft and splintery, but I’m drawn by the scent which reminds me of youthful days roaming the coasts of the island off Windenberg.

“There truly is magic in the world,” you write.

liam102

What do I know of magic?

Only the magic of the everyday, that inexplicable spark that can arise between two beings. Or maybe, staring into vast space, the magic, simply, incredibly, of Being.

But magic of the sort in which wizards and warlocks deal?

liam104

I know nothing more than what I’ve read: Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The old folk stories. The works of Carlos Castaneda. A few dabblings with the Tarot and the I Ching.

I’m a scholar, not a magician.

But I will have eager eyes and an avid heart for any mysteries you care to reveal.

liam107

So we’re both acquainted with loss, are we?

That’s the price of life.

Condolences on the passing of your Maggie.

My wife and I never had children–by choice, inclination, and temperament.

Bess, my wife, passed years ago. I forget to count. It feels like an instant, but I know, by the lanterns hanging on my tree, that it wasn’t. Each year, since her passing, I hang a new lantern. I’ve stopped counting.

liam106

Bess loved Jane Austen, like your Mathilda. It’s something to be married to a woman who reads Austen, don’t you find? Always gazing at us with that wry grin, as if each stoic action we display revealed depths of which we never comprehended we might contain!

liam105

As for me, I specialized in American lit of the 19th Century. Of course, I centered much of my study on the New England Brahmins–Thoreau and Fuller, in particular, though I also came to appreciate Alcott: Lousia May, not her father.

Towards the end of my career, I became engrossed in pioneer literature, the diaries and journals, in particular. I suppose I got there by way of Thoreau. His writing led me to John Muir, and from Muir it was only a stone’s throw away to the pioneer journals.

I’m currently trekking my way through Shakespeare. I hate to admit it, but I have not yet read all the works attributed to his name. I’m currently on the histories, and taking my sweet time.

Retirement has shown me that I can take time with all my endeavors. So I hope you’ll pardon my long-winded and round-about correspondences with you!

It’s sweet balm to write to another who’s lived and lost and survived to love on.

Life. Man. What a trip.

liam103

With warm regards, and anticipation, already, for your next letter,

Jasper McCumber

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