Puppy Love 23

emerygrows03

My heart was heavy, my aura blue. I had thought my grand scheme to suggest to Lucas that he might adopt a child would take hold. The boy–now grown into a quiet, kind, gentle man–has so much love. Surely, he’d want to take in a child to love, too!

But he seems to feel the dogs offer plenty of chances to share his love.

emerygrows02

Emery has grown into a very fine dog. Take a pomeranian, a beagle, a water spaniel, a giant schnauzer, and a collie, and what do you get? Emery. He looks like he could be a Newfoundland, with that broad, intelligent brow of his. But he is a mixed breed, through and through!

He has a mystical air about him, with his blue moon eye, always reflecting the light. His other eye is dark and compassionate, and if both eyes matched, one would call him a wise, kind dog. But that unsettling moon eye–he is a magician.

His nose, too, is mottled.

Lucas takes as good care of Emery as he does the other five. I wonder sometimes how he manages to squeeze enough minutes from a day to be able to keep all five dogs bathed, fed, and exercised. But he does.

emerygrows01

Sometimes, as my spirit slides through, Lucas feels my presence, and then he sees me.

“Astrid!”

Yes, I can still feel warmth. It’s not physical warmth. It’s the warmth of this boy’s heart. This very good man’s heart.

emerygrows06

“Aren’t you lonely, Lucas?” I asked him. “Don’t you want a two-legged person to talk with sometimes? Someone who could help with this houseful of dogs?”

“It’s not such a good idea, is it, Astrid? To have someone move in to help? Isn’t that, like, using the person? Besides. I don’t get to spend enough time by myself as it is.”

To each their own. I just think how my life became more rich, more full, with more time for myself, even, once Tanvi moved in.

Of course, I was utilitarian in my offer to her: Move in, help me take care of the dogs, take care of them when I’m gone, and I’ll leave you all this. She took that approach with Lucas. Maybe that’s why he’s so sensitive about bringing in someone else under those conditions.

He’s young enough that he doesn’t have to worry about the dogs outliving him, unless the line continues for many more generations. Imagine what they might look like, five generations hence! If the progeny carry on Chloe’s disposition and looks, we’ll be lucky, indeed.

emerygrows05

Emery’s mother is a very sweet. While Emery, superstitious as only a magician can be, cowered when he saw me, startling me in return, Chloe looked right at me and smile. She is drawn to the supernatural.

emerygrows04

I lingered around the house for a few days to assess for myself whether what Lucas said, about preferring to live alone the way he does, was true. Was he really doing all right and managing fine?

While I was there, his new maid came. I suppose the other one retired. The dogs seemed to love this one. She had a bold style, with bright makeup and hair dyed copper-penny red.

emerygrows07

I admit to eavesdropping on their conversation.

“You have a lot of dogs,” she said.

“Yep,” said Lucas. “Do you like dogs?”

“Well, they’re messy. I mean, your house. It has–” she sniffed– “a very definite odor.”

“I don’t notice,” Lucas said.

“And there’s hair everywhere. You know it will take me hours and hours to clean your home.”

“Yes, but you’ll do a good job?”

“Yes. And you’ll pay me. So, there’s that.”

“They’re good companions? The dogs. I mean, they are.”

“Sure. But one or two are good companions. That’s what I’m saying. So I suppose the answer to your question is, yes. I like dogs. But in ones and twos. Not fives and sixes.”

“You see,” said Lucas, “what you say makes very good sense? But there’s another way to look at it. What are we short of in this world? I’m not talking in a physical sense. I’m talking energy. What is the world short of? Love. That’s all. More love makes a better world. Who’s best at creating the feeling of love? It’s gotta be a dog. One dog creates a lot of love. Five dogs? That’s a love machine!”

“So, you’re solving the world’s problems through the power of puppy love?”

“Something like that,” said Lucas.

emerygrows08

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Story A Day for May, Day 4

fortymin

Say This Instead

On the stroll back from Spencer’s Cove, Kate calculated years and ages. It had been ten years since they’d cast Grandpa’s ashes over the bluff at the cove. Grandpa passed at 90. It had been 45 years since he’d told her not to say goodbye to him, ever. She had been ten. She was now, at 55, the age that Grandpa had been then. Of course she didn’t say goodbye to him when she sat by his bed at hospice. When he closed his eyes, his paper fingers in her hand, she didn’t say goodbye. She didn’t say goodbye at the rattles and heaves, or at the single tear that rolled from his open left eye.

She shook herself and looked around the kitchen. The green chair felt hard beneath her. She felt the wrinkle in the carpet under her feet.

“Why not say goodbye, Grandpa?”

“Serves no purpose, Kate.”

“What do I say instead?”

“Later, alligator. In a while crocodile. See ya soon, Katy-Moon. Those’ll do.”

“How about, ‘until we meet again?” She had been reading every Victorian novel she could find in her grandfather’s bookcases.

“That’ll do, too.”

So that was what she said in the morning when she raced out the door to catch the school bus. That’s what she said when she left for college. That’s what she said at the end of every weekend visit, for decades, when she left for the city and her Monday job.

That’s what she said, ten years ago, at his bedside in hospice.

She said it after the single tear, and after the final rattle, and months later, as the ashes swirled out over the cove.

The others said goodbye, the great aunt, bent over her walking stick; the grandnieces and nephews, standing formally, even in the wind; the little second cousins, shouting at the gulls. She had been, apparently, the only one he forbade to use it.

She looked towards the lighthouse, as she and he had done for forty years. A white feather–was it a tern’s?–caught up in the wind and circled, circled, rising. She watched until it blew out of sight, the clouds white behind it. The others had turned back by then, the children racing ahead, the cousins walking in clusters of two and three, the great aunt alone, stabbing at the path with her stick.

“Until we meet again,” she said out over the cove. She stood alone on the bluff, until the others disappeared, and then she remembered, it was her house, now, that they were returning to. She’d be the one expected to make the tea.

After they all left, she thought about how comforting it might be to say goodbye. Final. She didn’t quite imagine herself saying it, for she was obedient, even now that she was grown, even now that he was gone. But she considered what someone else might feel if they said goodbye to the person they loved the most at the final parting.

Ten years had passed without that word crossing her lips.

She’d walked there today because it was Sunday, and she always went there on Sundays. On Mondays, too. And often, any other day of the week, for, still, it was her favorite walk, and the cedars lined the path, the same ones that had bent towards her when she was a little girl, racing along ahead of her grandfather. She always called to them, “Hello!”

Standing at the edge of the bluff, she missed him, suddenly, even after ten years. She felt his hand in hers, the callous of his thumb hard against her palm. And his voice sparked inside of her, “Friends aren’t everything, Kate. You’ve got me.”

The sun shone–only, no. It was still cloudy. But what was this sudden warmth? Like wearing a sweater in June. A tern circled over the cove. She knew then, at that moment, why she hadn’t been allowed to say goodbye.

She walked home, calculating. Sitting with her tea in the kitchen, the chair hard beneath her, the carpet wrinkled under her feet, she realized that she was now the age he had been when he’d forbidden that word.

It’s not needed. Love is an energy that escapes the laws of time and space–it continues, boundless, in a moment.

It takes a good many years of life to know that. But once you do, you realize that goodbye serves no purpose.


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Prompt for May 4: “Set a timer for 40 minutes, write a story” from StoryADay.org

Author’s note: I stretched the prompt a bit–I took a look at the prompt the night before, selected the picture, slept on it, then thought about it off and on during the day. Actual time writing behind the keyboard: 40 minutes. Actual time that the story steeped before pouring? Closer to 24 hours!  Steep till done!
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Eight Pieces: Shine

kristal601

Kristal’s grandmother had loved that old church song, “This Little Light of Mine.” She’d sang it to her all through her childhood.

It was effortless to shine as a child, surrounded by Grandma, Poppa, Mom, Dad, and all those doting cousins.

Family lit up when she entered a room, so it was impossible not to reflect that light back.

kristal602

When had she stopped shining?

She was still bright when she’d met her ex. He used to put on his sunglasses when he saw her coming. “You’re so bright, I need my shades.”

When had he stopped lighting up when he saw her?

It was after he’d been teaching for about ten years, she realized. That was the time he took on the supervision of the grad students in his division. Maggie Mueller–his T.A. for Intro to Essential Stochastic Finance–he shone when he saw her. That was when he began to dull around Kristal.

She pretended for a long time that nothing had changed, until she became too tired to pretend. She could live without love–of course. Millions did. She could, too.

But the price had been heavy.

kristal603

She was beginning to see now that she didn’t have to pay that price. She didn’t have to jump to be with someone else. She could continue on alone. And she could still shine.

She sat on the patio many a night, watching the shine of light above the chapel door. It meant something to her. She didn’t have words for its meaning, but when she felt the press of loneliness, she looked to that glow, and warmth spread through her.

This little light of mine.

Being a human was predictable. We respond in similar ways to certain experiences. Certain symbols transcend culture, individuality, and reach deep within us to move us, inspire us.

Some nights, she sat up through the darkness, glancing now and then to the light above the chapel door, watching the sky and the slow march of stars that betrayed the steady revolution of this planet. As the clouds above the mountains became silver, her pulse quickened, and she inhaled deeply.

The first rays of sunlight didn’t bring heat of the day, but they brought warmth to her eyes.

Let it shine.

kristal604

A single kerosene lamp on a table. A light above a chapel door. The streaming morning sun.

Let it shine. 

She was older now. Her grandparents were long gone, her parents, too. She rarely saw the now-distant cousins. There wasn’t a single person she could think of who lit up when seeing her.

But there was this feeling inside–there was something that still responded to light, that took fire and shone. Whether another responded or not, she still shone.

Alive, alone, whether anyone heard her message or not, she shone.

kristal605

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Lighthouse: Stay

pics102

On Santi’s first night with us, I didn’t sleep well. I kept hearing again the angry chants of the rioters, with Santi’s music quieting it all. The music carried power, while the musician stood vulnerable.

And then, the pain of parting rushed through me. I couldn’t bear that she’d be leaving us.

In the quiet hour before dawn, I took Mojo for a walk down by the beach.

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He understood my feelings, even if he couldn’t comprehend their reasons.

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We walked until the sky turned silver. Slowly, quietly, the spin of the lighthouse beam brought my thoughts into harmony with my greater trust: It would all work out. It would all work out and I would accept it.

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I would accept it, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t be saddened by it.

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When we returned home with first sun rays, I wanted to stop the sun. I didn’t want another day to pass, for the day after tomorrow, Ritu would take Santi, and even if I trusted, even if I could feel acceptance and harmony, I felt resistance, too. I could accept it, but I didn’t want to accept it. I wanted to stop it.

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In the early morning, waiting for Sept and Santi to rise, I busied myself with chores.

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When I came back in, I found Santi cleaning the bathroom.

“Oh, honey!” I said. “You don’t have to do that! You don’t need to do chores!”

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She looked up with a big smile. We went into the kitchen, and I heated up leftover tacos for breakfast. I sat at the other end of the table, avoiding looking in her face. I was distancing myself. I didn’t know any other way to approach this.

stay01

She found delight in watching the goldfish in our tank. Seeing her happiness, my throat tightened, and, as I heard Sept’s footsteps on the stairs, I ran outside. I was afraid I’d start crying if I looked in his kind eyes.

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But he followed me out.

“What’s up, Mal?” he asked.

I let it all out.

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I told him about trusting, accepting, resisting, and all the denial I was wrapping myself in to try to get through this. I told him I’d fallen in love with Santi, and I couldn’t bear that she was leaving us.

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“In that case,” he said. “She’ll stay!”

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I didn’t see how it could happen.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “It can’t be that simple.”

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“I don’t see why not,” he said.

“What about Ritu’s plans? What about the family she’s found for her?”

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“She’s staying with us,” Sept said. “I’m part of this thing, too.” He meant that he was part of the rebel movement, and I know now that he wasn’t just an incidental part of it, he was an integral part of it. In his own way, here on this planet, he was, even then, a leader in the movement. Sept was important.

“Can you do that?” I asked. “Can you decide something and make it happen?”

pics122

He reminded me that Ritu worked for the movement–she was there to support it–and whatever Xirra and the others directed, that’s what she did. And Xirra, in this instance, would take her lead from Sept.

“In other words,” I said, “Santi stays with us!”

“That she does,” said Sept, “if you feel it’s best.”

pics121

It turned out to be very easy. Ritu didn’t have another family lined up yet–she hadn’t been sure what to do with the child, and so she felt relief that Santi would stay with us. She said she couldn’t imagine a better placement, for everyone concerned.

That morning, when Sept and I went back inside, Santi waited in the kitchen. She was still hungry, even after our taco breakfast. I made a sandwich and served it to her.

“Here you go, moSanti,” I said.

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Squeegee, mobizaabgotojo!” she said.

“Would you like to stay here?” I asked. “Gotukoda?”

Byugotokoda,” she said. “Squeegee.”

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And that’s how Santi came to stay with us and to be our daughter. MoSanti.

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Septemus 50

Septeen1401

Dear son,

The fog is starting to lift, and I remember everything.

Xirra, she’s the one I spent most of the time with, had asked me, “Do you want to remember, or forget?”

“Remember!” I said. “I want to remember everything.”

And I do.

Septeen1402

They all greeted me, all twelve.

“Do you know the history of abductions?” they asked.

I didn’t. Do you? They told me everything. Abductions, not just of people of our planet, but from many planets, have been going on for generations, for centuries. The intentions haven’t been benevolent, traditionally. They’ve been mercenary.

Women were used to provide gene samples–through swabs of skin or locks of hair, mostly, so that they never knew–and the genes were spliced to create new stock.

Males were forcibly, without consent, impregnated. Most of the time, the experience was so traumatic, that the men ended up returning the child to the home planet soon after birth, and these children provided the slave labor that created the wealth of the Mainstreamers.

It’s a practice that the rebels abhor, just as much as they abhor the treatment of bizoobi.

“This is why we fight,” said Xirra. “We cannot support a culture, a society, an economy that rests on rape, slavery, and murder.”

Gotukoda in’i EO!” They all shouted.

“We want to do things another way,” Xirra said. We weren’t on the ship during this conversation–I remember this now. We were–where were we? We were someplace dark, with glowing plants. Someplace purple, with ultraviolet light. It felt like the inside of a flower.

“We are safe here,” Xirra told me. She led me to an inner room. We sat on large plants, purple, soft, like giant mushrooms, only clearly, they were not a fungus. They smelled like cotton candy.

“We want to do things differently,” she said. “That is what we are all about. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

I nodded. So much information, emotional as well as historical, was passing telepathically that I felt that I knew much more than had been said. It was difficult to find words to talk, processing all that was coming in.

She took my hand. “We have been feeling the bonds within your home,” she said. “We know something of love. Do you know, for us, the love of family, of father and pagoto, mother and pagoto, the love that makes a gotukoda–a home–is as close to sacred as anything we know?”

Again, I nodded. I could believe it. It’s sacred to me, too, I tried to say, though I could only think it.

“We want to do things differently,” she said again. “Do you?”

I knew then what she meant.

Septeen1403

I found my voice. “Yes,” I said. “I want this very much.”

It was beautiful, son. It was everything that the creation of a new life should be.

Septeen1404

You are such a romantic at heart, with your crushes and your Big Loves. I know that you have wondered about me and why I have never had much to do with any of that.

I haven’t felt I’ve been missing out. I’ve had no interest. Why should I bother with something that I’m simply uninterested in, especially when that bother could lead to misunderstanding, broken hearts, and misery?

But now I know. There is something in a touch, an exchange, a breath of love that creates a new life–this is more than romance. This is love. This is what makes a family.

What Xirra and I shared during that exchange, I hope you share that with someone sometime!

The way I feel inside–the petals of the blue rose open, and what’s inside? More petals, more opening, on and on, until the edge of me dissolves and the edge of her dissolves and the rose keeps blooming, on and again.

This is what creates a new life.

Septeen1405

I am going to be a father, again.

Septeen1406

When Xirra led me out to the main room, we weren’t bashful. There was nothing secret, nothing shameful, everything sacred.

The others were sitting around low round tables, sipping tart, sweet tea that smelled like green apples, though it was deep red. They made room for us, and without talking, we sat with them.

They all began to sing then, only not out loud: inside, the way you sing to your pagotogo. I could hear them. Xirra looked at me, and I began to sing with them.

Septeen1407

What gift have I been given? I am in awe.

How is it that I came to be your father? What have you taught me? So much! You have taught me love and more. And now. This experience. This is something that I never thought that I would experience. Me, solitary me. I am solitary no more. I am surrounded with gotugo. We are all kin. I never knew this. But now I do.

Septeen1408

I’m going to have a baby!

Septeen1410

I’m going to have a baby, and this new life is the result of the most amazing, reality-altering experience I have ever had. This new life is the result of love.

Septeen1409

You are going to be an amazing big brother.

And I am…

steeped in gratitude,

Your pops

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Author’s note: Sebastion came back from his “abduction” (it felt more like a “visitation”) knowing that he was pregnant. He had all the nooboo-related thought bubbles since he arrived back home.

Forgotten Art: Meadow – Kaitlin 11

A reply to: A letter from Kaitlin

meadowkaitlin1102

Kaitlin–what? Newt is Newt? Norm’s Newt? How can that be?

I guess it figures–never doubt one’s first intuition, right?

But really. You must have been so blown away. Was it freaky? Or creepy?

I want you to know that I never told Norm anything about you: He knows I have pen pals, but he doesn’t know any of your names or anything about any of you–no personal details. Nothing!

meadowkaitlin1103

It’s such a mind-blower.

Are you feeling OK?

You sound really great in your letter, actually. You sound happy, optimistic and strong. I’m so glad to hear that you aren’t denying the love you have for Newt. That’s such an important part of healing. Of course you’re not excusing what he did–nothing excuses that. At the same time, you recognize what you share together–your children and grandchildren–and you recognize the validity of your feelings for him.

meadowkaitlin1101

I’m also glad that you’re letting yourself grieve, too. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not happy that you’re experiencing grief. What I mean is that it’s so important to let yourself, and your kids, grieve. So many of the women I’ve met keep their hearts hard. They tell themselves that their lives were always awful with their abuser, ignoring the moments of closeness or fun. They try to push away any idea of loss. But there is so much loss: Loss of a dream for what the relationship “could have been”; loss of the reality of a life together; loss of material items–houses, clothing, even dishes and furniture; loss of friends and family. So much loss for everyone involved.

The women I’ve known who’ve let themselves grieve, like Ira and Micah, they’re the ones who are able to move into their new lives. They’re the ones who are genuinely happy.

You sound happy, too–even around the sadness and worry, you sound really happy and strong.

I’m glad you and Ben had a chance to talk and reconnect. He’s going through grief, too. I’ve seen grief tear families apart, when each one suffers it in isolation, and I’ve seen it bring families together, when family members turn towards each other and don’t try to hide their pain.

Life is so tricky. If we can live it together, it’s so much better!

I’m glad you are OK with me telling Norm about Newt. After I read your letter, I felt I had to.

meadowkaitlin1104

I really didn’t know what to say.

Norm and Ira dropped by after school one day, when Jena had over a lot of her friends from the afterschool club. It was right after I got your letter.

I knew I had to tell him, but I couldn’t figure out how.

meadowkaitlin1105

He looks up to Newt so much, almost as if Newt were a hero to him. I guess Newt has a big personality.

I considered not saying anything, letting him continue to admire Newt and to think of Newt’s abusiveness in the abstract, as something “not quite real.”

meadowkaitlin1106

But if there’s one thing that they drum into us in my graduate program, as evidenced in every study, every practice, every therapy approach, it’s that secrets are what allow abuse to continue.

When we face hard truths, it stretches us. But sometimes, through stretching, we grow in ways we never thought possible. Look at you and how you’ve grown in strength and love. We develop capacity by facing the hard truths and loving anyway.

Eventually, I just mustered up my courage and told him.

I’m not sure how he took it. I think he’s going to need to process it for a while.

I need to process it, too.

meadowkaitlin1107

Mizuki Suzuki saw me looking concerned and extra thoughtful while we were watching a movie with Jena. When the movie was over, and Jena was tucked in, Mizuki asked me what was wrong.

I told her that a close friend of mine had been hurt by a close friend of Norm’s. She asked if Norm’s friend was still hurting my friend.

“No,” I was able to answer, “though there’s still a lot of residual pain.”

“I imagine there’s pain on both sides, right?” Mizuki Suzuki asked.

“Yes,” I replied, “I know so.”

“In that case,” said Mizuki Suzuki, “they are both very lucky to have the two of you as friends.”

meadowkaitlin1108

I took a long run after she said that, so I could think through her words. One of the things we’ve learned in our trauma studies at grad school is that emotional pain is amplified by social rejection and isolation. This is especially important in trauma therapy. One of my more radical professors holds that it’s true in working with the abuser, too: Social rejection and isolation get in the way of healing and recovery, rather than promote it.

I guess I’m glad, at the end of the day, that Norm was Newt’s pen pal. He stayed with him, didn’t he? I just hope that now he knows of Newt’s connection to someone dear to me he’ll continue to stay. He seemed pretty upset when he left, and I recognized that “big brother protector mode” that he switches into sometimes, whenever he sniffs a bully around me.

Maybe I’ll ask Jasper to have a word with him.

meadowkaitlin1109

Oh, I’m sorry to share all these troubled thoughts with you! We will be OK. We just need processing time.

And before I go, I have so many congratulations to share with you! Congratulations on Reid getting cleared! Congratulations on being so brave with Newt. Congratulations on reaching out to Ben–I know that must have been hard to break through that wall he put up. Congratulations on Reese and Brooke’s graduation and on their upcoming wedding! You must be so very proud.

And thank you, more than you can ever know, for being my friend. Sometimes, I think of how much I’ve changed through knowing you! I was such a solipsistic scholar before we began writing! It’s through you I learned the importance of putting others first (namely Jena!), and the value of opening my home to another (specifically Mizuki Suzuki), and it’s because of you that I’m now a doctoral candidate in Therapy Studies! That’s right! I’m getting my Ph.D.! I always wanted to be Dr. McCumber! And in eight years (or maybe seven-and-a-half if I work at a brilliant pace) I will be!

Thank you so much for everything!

Your friend forever, too,

Meadow

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Memory Lane Challenge

Ah! Here’s a neat challenge/award thingy! thewindsorlegacy nominated me for this award! Have you read The Windsor Legacy? I love this legacy story so much. Each Saturday morning, and sometimes on random bonus weekdays, I enjoy a chapter while sipping coffee after breakfast. Right now, the heir is at college, and she’s having such a time of it! I’ve had a lot of flashbacks of awkward cafeteria conversations! I highly recommend this legacy–you’ll love the screenshots, the characters, the plotlines, and the writing!

So, how does this challenge work? Here’s the scoop:

  1. Congratulations! You’ve been nominated for a totally legit award. Get a gold star and stick it on your forehead like a boss.
  2. Share FIVE of your favourite moments from your legacy/challenge/story so far.
  3. Nominate 3-5 blogs to do the same.

Five Favourite Moments

**If you’re all caught up on my stories, you won’t find spoilers here… If you haven’t yet read my stories, you’ll find spoilers aplenty!**

  1. Sugar Maple Bough’s supreme act of Self-Determination:

    Sugar

    I wondered as I watched her, after she finished painting, what intention she was setting.

  2. Jaclyn Ball’s first appearance in New World Symphony:

    preludefour05

    Who IS this amazing hobbit-elf, and where did she come from?

  3. Davion Kern’s mysterious appearance in New World:
    gnome19

    What is it with the magical mixologists in this save?

    And then… when Jaclyn and Davion fell in love, all on their own:

    gnome06

    A magical match!

  4. The unforgettable Elder Wolff at Plum Day (or any day, really):

    Cathy

    Getting to see these two meet and fall in love felt like a blessing and a miracle landing in an open palm!

  5. The first night I played after the ghost patch was released, when Cedar and Timothy were reunited:

    Cedar

    “In my love, you’ll find you’re free.”

Hmmm. I really am a romantic, aren’t I? Well, it’s hard not to be when the Sims is full of so many great love stories!

Now for my nominations (Oh, I so want to hear your Simming memories!):

  1. Pegasus143,  aka Mackie, of Makplays
  2. peatock/losebetter of The Velasco Legacy
  3. RipuAncestor of Chrysanthemum Tango, Fey of Life, and Forget-Me-Not
  4. Asaoyoru of Droplets of Stardust
  5. CeCe Rose of Dreams and Drama