The Known Alone

Dear Gwyneth,

I’ve begun this letter many times. Sometimes I even finish it. The first time, maybe even the first ten times, I wrote it, it started, continued, and ended with apologies. I think I’m past that now, which is one reason I hope that once I finish this letter, I may hit “send” and not regret it too much.

It is the unknown that excites the ardor of scholars, who, in the known alone, would shrivel up with boredom. —Wallace Stevens

Well, we are more than three months into a pandemic lockdown as I write this, and I am in the known alone, because venturing into the unknown isn’t practical right now.

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So, I Googled you.

So, I Googled you. Of course I’ve done this many times over the years. I don’t know how long ago it was when I discovered you had a blog, but I’ve been reading it off and on, in between teaching terms and workshops. I don’t know if you’ve Googled me. All that software that says it’ll tell you stuff like that costs money and looks a bit dodgy if you ask me.

You remember that big old house my parents inherited from my granddad? You can see it out the window in the photograph above. Yeah; it’s mine now, for about ten years. They’re rolling over in their Tory graves every time they think of me now, because about ten people are living there at the moment. Usually I live there too, but the whole pandemic thing scared me when it first started, so I locked myself down in the garden house.

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I’m lucky.

I’m lucky. But then I think I was predisposed to be lucky. Now I just try to be grateful for it while not being an arsehole because of it.

I don’t think I ever took you and Fen and the others to the garden house; my mum lived here most of the time because she and my dad couldn’t stand one another. The garden is full of her things, and it’s a good place to remember her.

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I garden.

You’d laugh: I garden. Well, I keep the garden from dying. Most of these are wildflowers my mum loved, hollyhocks and Queen Anne’s lace and some campion, lots of clover. Oak, birch, and cherry trees, and I’m uncomfortable this year in the midst of all this growth.

Most of the kids in the big house are students of mine who either pay some rent or need a place to crash when their lives fall apart. They are respectful kids—I say kids; they’re older than you and I were when I last saw you. Anyway, they take pretty good care of the place and I have only had to go up there once since March when the country locked down.

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Time and time

Time and time. It’s funny: all that time we knew each other, all through uni, or mostly through uni, anyway, I knew you were special. I never would have guessed you were one of the Fae, though. I’ve wondered, often, why you hid it. Your parents seemed perfectly human, no Court allegiance sigils on the door, and you, I mean, I would almost have said that you were not at all concerned with the magical world. I guess a lot of us humans try not to be; it’s easy to have an inferiority complex if you consider that someone you know could be holding phenomenal cosmic powers, to quote Aladdin because I don’t know what else to quote here and my life revolves around other people’s words, except when it revolves around my own.

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And yes; I’m bored.

And yes, I’m bored. Don’t get me wrong: I live a lot of my life online, and so some things haven’t changed all that much. Classes go on, virtually. Workshop pieces trickle in via email. The publication date for my next book is still the same, though we’re concentrating less on physical book sales than ever before.

I would have said, at the beginning of all this, that my life wasn’t going to change at all, that I’d just move out to the garden house and treat it as a writing holiday, and for the most part that’s been true. It’s not as if I have a family, a wife, even a girlfriend.

But I’m restless now. My friend Des, you won’t know him, tells me it’s impossible to be restless if you never go anywhere in the first place.

But that’s really why I’m writing.

When all this is over, I want to visit Faeryland. The most recent craze to “go with the fairies” has died down a bit, and I know your Realm is a tourist spot. I’m not asking for special treatment, or a place to stay: I’ll arrange it all through DreamTime travel; they’ve got a pretty good reputation and I have a little spare cash lying about.

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This is Covie

This is Covie— he used to be called just The Book Dragon, but now he’s Covie The Book Dragon, because aside from the cats (they’re not around right now) and the birds, he’s the only creature I see on a daily basis. Every day I ask him if he has some new books for me. He never answers, because he is a plush dragon guarding a small pile of books. I promise I’ve not gone mad here.

Anyway, I’ve got this far without apologising or trying to promise you anything except for that bit about not being mad above, so it’s looking promising.

When all this is over, I’d like to plan a holiday to Awenia, spend a few weeks there, and maybe we could see one another? It’s been thirty years; I think that’s maybe long enough to rebuild.

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I’m still short.

I’m still short. I still like some of the same music, but I stopped dyeing my hair black and I binned the eyeliner collection years ago. I mean, I could probably still rock it if I put my mind to it, but I’d mostly rather put my feet up and enjoy my middle age at this point, you know?

You don’t have to answer this email. But I’m putting all my contact information at the bottom here, so you can get in touch if you want to. If you would rather I didn’t visit Awenia, that’s OK; just please let me know. Otherwise, I’m thinking this will all be over probably in the autumn, and I’ll plan to visit for a couple of weeks maybe in early October so I don’t run into your Samhain high season.

I think I’m going to press “send” this time.

Love (not that kind; the kind old friends share),
Richard Caper

Notes & Credits
Plot:
Gwyneth, the primary narrator of Three Twisted Knots, is a character I’ve been roleplaying and writing stories about for almost eight years, and she is why there’s a blog here at all. Richard Caper is a blast from the past, one of the people who was with her in the automobile accident that set her on the path she now walks. He has featured prominently twice in the blog, and here are those links if you would like to read more of his story. 
The keeping of journals
“The past is never where you think you left it.” –Katherine Anne Porter

Richard Caper Avatar:
Body: Signature Gianni
Head: Lelutka Evolution Skylar
Skin: Poema, Zeus (Get it at Vintage Fair!)
Eyebrows: Arte, Fiore brows
Hair: Dura, Game 4
Facial Hair: Volkestone, Zek
Clothes: Cold Ash, Chelsea Boots, Larkham Jeans, Montana Tee
Eyes: Euphoric, Natha
Earring: Kunst, Eden
Necklace: EarthStones, Hoot Owl

Environment:
Location: Awenia (not currently open to the public)
Exterior—
Garden House: Trompe Loeil, Soleil Garden House
Big Trees (oak, birch, cherry), all from Heart
Flowers & Underbrush, all from Heart, except
Rose Field: {anc} Sugar Rose Field; and
Grass Clumps: The Looking Glass, The Shrine Tree Grass Clumps
Outdoor Table: The Looking Glass, Harmony Garden Tea Time Table & Chairs
Rockery & Birdhouse Tree: The Looking Glass, Harmony Garden Birdhouse Tree & Rockery
Gate and Fence: Pandemonium, Tall Pointed fence & gate
Fox Fountain: Foxwood, Fox Fountain
The Big House: Compulsion, Tudor Manor
Path: Happy Mood, Dirt Road
Interior—
Desk & Clutter: Nutmeg, Familiar Mess Desk, Chair, Cabinet
Bed: Nutmeg, Disarray Bed Dark
Lounge Furniture: Nutmeg, Dreamy Pastels Armchair, Coffee Table, Floor Pillows, Sofa
Dining Nook Table and Chairs: Apple Fall, Pottery Dining Table and Chairs
Breakfast Food: Apple Fall, Elvira Plate with Egg, Avocado, & Toast, Plate with Sliced Grapefruit, Rose Tea
Tea Pot: The Secret Store, Folk Teapot – Olive
Napkins and Towels: Second Spaces, Kitchen Colletion, Napkiins & Towels
Covie The Book Dragon was portrayed by the 2016 Lucentia Dwagi, a treasured memento of Fantasy Faire from 2016.

Midwinter Ball?

Well, you have to have one. And I’ve been remiss, because there wasn’t one last year; there was so much going on with intrigue and all the mess over at White Owl. 

But, of course there’s planning to be done. And because Nathaniel is busy doing all that bureaucratic bs I abhor, I have taken on the heavy mantle of planning the Winter Ball. 

And that means choosing a venue. Now, unlike ordinary balls, we Fae get to just magically erect an impressive building anywhere we like. It makes for fewer lost guests, better entertainment, and many more starry-eyed mortals by the time the night is over. Much better than going someplace and picking a building over which I don’t have total control.

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The Looking Glass’ Basilica is my first choice for this year

The Looking Glass’ Basilica is my first choice for this year’s ball. Awenia has to open with a huge party, of course, and I’ve already lined up the impressive DJ Fae to handle the entertainment: now I just have to inspect the building and make sure it’s exactly what we need. I decided to try out one of the likely candidates for this year’s Winter Ball Gown as well, because seeing how the dress looks in the hall is so important, don’t you find?

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A Winter Gown

I liked this gown so much I decided to wear it all day. It’s a major contender, I think. It’s from Silvan Moon Designs, which of course means it fits impeccably and the style details cannot be beat: just look at the snowflake motifs on the bodice! The diaphanous drapes only add to the sensation that you may actually be wearing a very well-behaved snowstorm. 

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A really good gown requires little accessorising

A really good gown, of course, requires little accessorising. I was glad for the simplicity of this circlet and matching necklace, which speak both to the power of the winter stag god and the triumph of the moon. These pieces are from Supernatural, and to be honest, I’ve had them for a while and I’m not sure where I picked them up. They’ve proven to be versatile and suitable for many occasions. I think white gloves are just plain necessary for a gown like this, certainly in the wintertime. For a touch of formality, you can’t ever go wrong getting your hair done by the wonderful people at Truth; this style is called Makena, and they do several different versions of it. 

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The real test

Of course, the real test of a ball gown is how well it moves, and this one seemed to glide across the Basilica’s highly polished floors with ease. Perhaps before I make the final decision, I’ll ask Nathaniel to take a few hours off and come dance with me, just a little, in the main atrium. 

I’m so impressed with the interior of this as a potential ballroom. The combination of pillars, stonework, and stained glass is remarkable. 

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Only one question remains

Only one question remains: is it perhaps too big?

How will we ever fill it?

And then— then, I think of all the many families and houses who are connected to us in some way. All we have to do is not plan the ball directly on Midwinter, as that’s when all the regional and family balls will be held. Maybe we’ll do it a wee bit later, after mortal Christmas but before the calendrical New Year. 

I’ll just send out Save the Date cards. Bran can handle all the arrangements. And we? We will fill this hall.

Style Card:
Gown: Silvan Moon Designs, Snow Queen Gown (Available at Enchantment!)
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Spencer Bento Mesh Head
Skin: Lumae, Lelutka Deia, Tone 1 (All current skin lines are available at the Lumae Main Store!)
Ears: Swallow, Shiny Elf Ears
Eyes: Arte, Hayat Eyes
Circlet and Necklace: Supernatural, Hyun Headpiece and Necklace
Hair: Truth, Makena

Glorious Building: The Looking Glass, The Basilica (Also available at Enchantment; you can see some more photographs about the building in this entry 

I am consistently blown away by the creative minds of our Second Life content creators. Bee and Solas, thank you so much for this gown and all the other beautiful things you’ve made this year. I hope as we move into the holiday season that both of you and everyone else associated with Silvan Moon can take the time to look upon your creations and recognise the beauty and blessing you bring to this scrumptious table I sometimes get to set.

 

Let’s Talk.

Who’s up for some navel-gazing? If you’re willing, put on your Real Life Glasses and let me take you through a little labyrinth.

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Why do I do this?

Why do I do this? 

It’s a question I’ve asked myself a lot, and I’m asking it a lot lately. I ask it before I apply for any sponsor or for any event. I ask it when I’m reshooting an entire set of photographs because I forgot to alpha out a bra strap. I ask it every time Gwyneth has a weird dream. I suppose the simplest answer is Because I like doing it. But that’s not very informative, is it?

I started this blog in November of 2012. That’s nearly six years ago. For the first two years, it was largely a chronicle of events in my role-play life, as Gwyneth discovered who she was and met a lot of cool people along the way. My first SL photographs were meant to represent Gwyneth’s drawings of the things she encountered in her strange new world(s). I needed an immersive creative outlet at that point in my life, because my husband had just been diagnosed with cancer. I’ve told his story here more than once over that time, and while I will probably tell it again next spring when Fantasy Faire rolls around again, I won’t do it here and now.

Speaking of Fantasy Faire, in 2014, I attended my first Faire. I have no idea how I somehow missed out in 2012 and 2013, but I did. That first Fantasy Faire began to change me from a role-play blogger who took photographs to illustrate stories to a (long learning curve!) Second Life photographer who by-the-by let people know about cool stuff she found on the grid, or what she was wearing, or where she got something, almost always in the context of how Gwyneth found something, which meant for lots of fanciful stories about travelling to far-off Realms to visit this or that Faire, or getting to know this or that skin painter or hair designer.

A year later, I applied to be a Fantasy Faire blogger, and Sonya Marmurek liked my profile picture and gave me a shot even though I’d never “officially” blogged anything before. I imagine a lot of SL fantasy fashion bloggers have a similar story. After that, I started picking up sponsors and doing more and more events, and I began to work seriously on improving my photography. I created two additional narrators, The Gypsy Davey and The Amazing Catwoman, both of whom have morphed into important pieces of what makes Three Twisted Knots. When I started picking up events and sponsors, I made only one rule for myself:

I only blog what I like.

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So how’s that working out for you, Gwen?

So how’s that working out for you, Gwen?

I guess the best and only answer is, “so far, so good.” It is absolutely possible to have a blog that includes sponsors who send me stuff and events that send me stuff and still manage only to blog what I like. How does it work? Well, most creators have a “x posts per month” rule, and I choose from their monthly releases so that I blog stuff I would buy anyway. The few times the rules have changed to “blog all our releases, full stop,” I’ve politely bowed out. While it’s possible that I’ve pissed off a whole bunch of people without realising, it, I think my track record is fairly good, mostly because I have a good sense of diplomacy, am not afraid to reach out and talk to people when there’s any kind of a glitch or problem, and my narrators’ personalities notwithstanding, I’m actually pretty doggone nice. As my readership and Flickr following has grown, I’ve also come to see this as a bit of a responsibility. Because, sure, I could blog that pretty looking dress that also happens to clip everything everywhere and is texture-challenged at lower LOD, and I could make it look great—but how would someone feel if they bought that dress based on my blog and then it turned out that it only looked good at the camera angle I chose and with graphics on “I can’t believe you put your graphics on that”?

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OK, so what do you like?

OK, so what do you like?

What I like runs the gamut from contemporary comfort clothes, like the ones I chose for this blog post, to frilly froufrou gowns and adorable baby animals. It might be simpler to run down the list of things I don’t like and for the most part don’t blog. And I’ll probably leave something out.

  • I really don’t do uber-smexy.
    I think there have been exactly two posts on this blog that showed any of my narrators in the altogether. One of them was a dream sequence, and the other one was a rescue scenario. The Gypsy Davey has appeared exactly once without a shirt on.

    • While I’m not a prude by most definitions, I’m really not interested in outfits that are super-revealing, exposed nipples, barely-concealed (or not concealed!) orifices, and the like.
    • If the skirt is barely below the bum but I like it anyway, well, that’s what leggings are for. Seriously, I wear a lot of things that are sold as dresses in SL as tops over leggings or jeans.
    • For the most part, I think SL fashion is geared far too heavily toward things that are sexualised. I have trouble finding things I like just generally when I’m out shopping, because I guess sexy clothing sells really well, far better than my (comparatively) modest style.
  • I’m not into sporty clothes.
    • Gwyneth does not exercise. She really did just wake up this way. The only time you can get her into something that looks like workout clothes is if you fool her into thinking she’s dancing. No joke. TAC’s idea of exercise has more to do with weapons training, and you will find The Gypsy Davey setting up camp rather than doing sets at the gym.
    • This rules out:
      • Trainers (OK, I think she owns like three pairs of trainers, at least one of which are made for SLink Pointe Feet).
      • Baseball caps (Ugh, baseball caps!)
      • Garments with sports logos on them (Unicorns do not count!)
  • I have an aversion to rompers.
    • Rompers are worn by children too young to dress themselves. They are best designed to have a set of snaps all round the inseam for easy changing.
  • I stay away from hair that has shaved bits.
    • Nothing political; it’s just not my style here, though I can and have worn such hairstyles in real life.
  • Believe it or not, I am not a big fan of high heels.
    • I gave up keeping Gwyneth mostly in flats because if a shoe can be made in SL, it can be made as a stiletto. TAC, however, less than politely declines. With Gwyneth, I try to stick with styles that are whimsical or have rose themes or high heels that do not actually have heels.
  • Perhaps hypocritically, I absolutely love my SLink Pointes.
    • But only when the shoes do not actually have heels and look more like dance shoes, even super weird dance shoes.
  • Clothes, skins, and hair that are not so subtly designed to make women look like preadolescent girls. No explanation needed here, though if you want to engage me on this point in a chat session, I will gladly go into detail. Let’s just say that Gwyneth has no desire to look any younger than eighteen, and usually she goes for a bit older than that.
  • Everyday human ears. Every single one of my narrators, unless they are undercover for some reason, appears in elf/fairy/pixie ears. I actually won’t go to places where I am not allowed to wear pointy ears.
  • Stuff that creeps me out, like:
    • Skulls.
    • Blood.
    • Floating eyeballs.
    • Creepy gelatinous things.
    • Cosmetic enhancements that look like injuries (unless there’s been a battle).
    • Zombies.
    • Firearms.

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Why are we having this conversation now?

Why are we having this conversation now?

I’ve recently been thinking about my reasons for blogging, particularly when I look around at other SL fashion blogs. I like my pleasant little story-blogging niche, but it does have a few unfortunate side-effects, namely

  • I am rarely able to make multiple posts per day, and when I’m working full time I’m lucky if I can make more than a couple of posts in a week; and
  • My Flickr average view per photo is below what most blog managers want, for the simple reason that I post between six and upwards of twenty photographs per post, and the average Flickr user is skimming on a mobile phone or a tablet and unlikely to view or fave anything other than the first three photos posted at any time by a single user.

There may be some changes coming to the blog pretty soon, but these are only sort of a vague idea in my mind right now. Davey needs more post time. Angharad wants her new voice heard as well. TAC is about to start a new job. Well, she’s always starting a new job, but this one is differently new.

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So what’s with the neon sign?

So what’s with that confrontational neon sign? Are you trying to make a point?

Nope; it’s just one of the bits of décor in my out of character office, which is honestly where I spend most of my time in SL. I thought if I were going to talk about the blog and me and go wandering down merry rabbit holes of how and why, I should probably photograph in my home territory. That just happens to be the loudest sign in the office at the moment. The other sign, which you might or might not be able to make out, says, “I’m too glam to give a damn”, and I love it. I momentarily set it to full bright for this post, but then I felt sick inside and changed it back.

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But isn’t this kind of like shouting into the void?

But isn’t this kind of like shouting into the void?

I hope not. This blog doesn’t get a lot of comments, except for in-character comments from Gwyneth’s IC husband, but if you want to talk, by all means leave a comment. Tell me what a prudish old biddy I am! Explain to me that my elf ears make me look like a pathetic fantasist! Compliment me on these awesome boots! Anything you like. We are all in this together.

I purposely wore only items that I purchased myself and are not sponsored by anybody for this photoshoot. The sole exception, and I realised it too far after the fact to go back and reshoot everything, are the ears that Gwyneth is wearing, and these are her ‘go-to’ ears; they’re on all her basic outfits and only change when I consciously change them. 

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Pink Bento Head
Skin: The Plastik, Elvenne Skin, Bonnen
Eyes: Song, Frost Eyes
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Lip colour: Booty’s Beauty, Lush Gloss
Eyeshadow: Arte, Fairy Eyeshadow
Eyebrows: Mai Bilavio, BrowEdit 3
Hair: Truth, VIP Reyane
Jewellery: The Plastik, Unicorn Kin Gacha, Armlets, Bracelets, Necklaces (Currently at the Lootbox event)
Nails: Nylon Outfitters, Art Nails, Unicorn Solo
Top: Neve, Altierre Wonderland
Leggings: ABC, Comforter Leggings
Boots & Socks: Eudora, Haloke Boots & Socks (Currently at Shiny Shabby)

Kiss That Frog

Sometimes, a Princess’ life is … surreal.

In this dream, I am wandering around the Book Forest. You know, just soaking up the atmosphere, trying not to contemplate the sheer insanity of a forest made up of things that used to be trees but are now books. Because the book forest makes perfect sense if you think about it. It really does.

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I had to stare

And then, the strangest and yet most completely normal thing ever happened. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, but I happened to glance down and there was this … frog. With a crown on his little head. He was obviously disgusting and slimy, as frogs are wont to be, and of course I found myself filled with curiosity, rather than revulsion, because that’s how things go in dreams.

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No. Freaking. Way.

“No. Freaking. Way.,” I thought to myself. “This is absolutely not happening. Of all the faerie tales I could get stuck in, why this one?” I’m a now kind of faerie princess, not a stuck-in-a-story-I-can’t-escape kind of faerie princess. Or, you know. I have  been up ’til now…

I turned away. “Forget it,” I said. “I am absolutely not going to kiss you.”

“You say that now,” croaked the frog. “Give me a chance.”

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Absolutely not.

“Absolutely not,” I retorted. “I do not have to resort to kissing frogs! I have the Internet! I have thousands of Realms where I can go, any night of the week, if I want a date. I am a princess, not a cliché.”

The frog made a sound between a snort and a laugh: it was hard to tell, because his voice was every bit as repulsive as he was. “You’ll change your mind,” he said. “Look: I’m out of my natural habitat here. Can’t you just take me back to the palace and let me stay with you for a bit? I’m a nice frog, I promise.” His tongue flicked out wildly to grab an insect I hadn’t noticed. Yuck.

“I really don’t think so,” I replied.

“Look, Your Highness. I have a nifty crown; that must mean something, right? And I’m a good conversationalist. I promise only a small percentage of our discussions will be my trying to convince you to kiss me.” Was that a smile on his wide, ugly face?

“Hmm.” I considered it for a moment. “OK, but if I tell you to stop trying to convince me, you will change the subject immediately. Is that clear?”

“Sure, sure, whatever you want,” replied the frog. “But hurry up and get me home; I need a much more humid environment than this weird forest made of paper books. Who on earth thought that was a good idea, Princess? Who designed such a place?”

I narrowed my eyes. “I did, you abhorrent amphibian. This whole Realm is my creation. I probably even imagined you into being, now that I think about it.”

“Oh! A lovely conversational topic!” said the frog. “The nature of existence! If I am your creation, I wonder if I truly have free will, or if free will itself is merely a construct that my brain imagines so that I don’t lose all hope or argue myself insane wondering whether my choices are truly mine, or if they are determined by you, My Lady.”

Super. The frog was going to have an existential crisis and wipe himself out of existence any second now. I pondered. And then I smiled.

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I picked up the frog.

I picked him up. “All right: I’ll give it a shot. Let’s head back to the palace, and I’ll figure out what the best environment for you will be. We’ll look it up on the Internet.”

“What, pray tell, is the Internet, Your Highness?”

I smiled widely. “You’ll love it!” I declared. “It’s the greatest source of information and fun conversational topics ever!”

And then I had a little laugh with myself, just in my head. Because Dear Prince Froggie had never heard of the Internet.

And that meant he probably had never heard the story of the geek princess and the frog. Because, you know. In my world, princes are a dime a dozen. But a talking frog?

That’s freaking fantastic!

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Simone Bento Mesh Head
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Texas (Available NOW at eBento!)
Nails: Cazimi, Influence Nails (Available NOW at the Designer Showcase!)
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Eyes: Arte, Nordic Eyes
Gown: Silvan Moon Designs, Princess Tiana Gown (Available NOW at Enchantment!)
Shoes: Eudora, 3D Arianne Pumps (Available NOW at Enchantment!)
Hair: Analog Dog (natch!), Tia (Available NOW at Enchantment!)
Necklace and Crown: Bliensen & MaiTai, Principessa (Available NOW at The Fantasy Gacha Carnival!)
Wings: Fancy Fairy, Titania 2.0 Bento Animated Iridescent Fairy Wings
Frog Prince: Unrepentent, The Frog Prince

Location: Awenia, The Book Forest
Building: Ionic, Sacred Ruins
Silver Moon on Stand: Air, Frog Moon Silver (Available NOW at Enchantment!)
Table: Dust Bunny, Autumn Calling, Wooden Table
Book on Table: Konpeitou, Beauty and the Book w/Rose
Frog with Mirror (on table) Konpeitou, Frog Prince Mirror (Available NOW at Enchantment!)
Book Castle: BananaN, Storybook Gacha, Castle and Books

I talk a lot about how much I love the Enchantment Event. It’s one of my favourite recurring events in Second Life, both in terms of the stuff you can find there and the careful attention that the Ippos team put into the event design itself. Unlike lots of other events that have gone to the “stuff you can buy all stuck together in one big room” model, Enchantment always, always, creates an inspiring environment around the story theme. If you love story as I do, and if these tales speak to you, you cannot afford to miss Enchantment, and you’d better stock up on Lindens before you go, because otherwise you won’t be able to afford everything you want!

Kiss That Frog
Peter Gabriel
Jump in the water
Sweet little princess
Let me introduce his frogness
You alone can get him singing
He’s all puffed up, wanna be your king
Oh you can do it
C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon
Lady kiss that frogSplash, dash heard your call
Bring you back your golden ball
He’s gonna dive down in the deep end
He’s gonna be just like your best friendSo what’s one little kiss
One tiny little touch
Aah, he’s wanting it so much
I swear that this is royal blood
Running through my skin
Oh can you see the state I’m in
Kiss it better
Kiss it better
(Kiss that frog)

Get it into your head
He’s living with you, he sleeps in your bed
Can’t you hear beyond the croaking
Don’t you know that I’m not joking

Aah, you think you won’t
I think you will
Don’t you know that this tongue can kill
C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon
Lady, kiss that frog

Let him sit beside you
Eat right off your plate
You don’t have to be afraid
There’s nothing here to hate
Princess you might like it
If you lower your defense
Kiss that frog and you will get your prince
Get your prince

(Singing now…!)
Jump in the water, c’mon, baby, jump in with me
Jump in the water, c’mon baby get wet with me

Jump in the water, c’mon, baby, jump in with me
Jump in the water, c’mon baby get wet, get wet, get wet

(While scatting:)
Kiss that frog. Kiss that frog. Lady, kiss that frog.
Kiss that frog. Lady, kiss that frog.
Kiss that frog. Lady, kiss that frog.

Jump in the water, c’mon baby jump in with me
Jump in the water, c’mon baby jump in with me
Jump in the water, c’mon baby jump in with me
Jump in the water, c’mon baby jump in with me
Jump in the water, c’mon baby get wet with me.

Get wet, get wet.
Get wet, get wet.
Get wet, get wet.
Get wet, get wet.

Smoke Break

Yeah, I know I should stick to the vapes. But sometimes, particularly when it’s cooler than it has been in weeks and there’s even a little breeze up here, I just can’t help myself.

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Not super busy

It’s not like I’m super busy, anyway. I mean, it’s pretty sweet, getting to use the outdoor breezeway in the housing estate to set up shop, but on a night like this? Nobody is going to come see me unless they’re desperate. No; they’ll be walking along the river, or taking advantage of some air conditioned club, not going to see the freaky elf girl with the tarot cards. My business will pick up in the autumn; it always does. People respond to the Samhain vibe, even if they don’t follow the seasonal religion. Blows my fucking mind, because Lughnasadh is a much more auspicious time for getting your fortune told, but who am I? I’m just the freaky elf girl.

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I’m not too bothered about the lack of business.

I’m not too bothered about the lack of business: it’s not like I have a big overhead here, and with the government’s Supernatural Rehoming Initiative, any one of us who’s willing to live in a high rise gets it practically rent free. We spice up the neighbourhood, see. We’re trendy. That is a hell of a thing. I was always taught to fear gentrification, but now that global supernatural protections are in place, I am the gentrification. Makes me want to laugh, but I feel like my image would suffer if I were too merry.

It doesn’t matter on a night like this. And I can take or leave the clients most of the time, anyway. Even though they learn about this shit in school now, most of them are only going to come around if they are with a group of friends and have some ridiculous question about their love lives, or they’ll go to the other extreme and ask me for stuff I simply cannot deliver. Hello: I’m a fortuneteller, not a djinni.

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One long smoke break

Yeah. I light one fag from the embers of the last. This whole night is going to be one long smoke break. Good thing there’s wifi here: if I’m lucky I can stream half a series of Lucifer and nobody will even notice.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Simone Bento Mesh Head
Skin: Lumae, Lelutka Deia Applier, Tone Elmyra (Available NOW at The Mesh Body Addicts Fair!)
Nails: Dark Passions Koffin Nails, Dark Orchid (Available NOW at the Gothic Garage Sale!)
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Eyes: Arte, Galaxy Eyes
Dress: Lenezlight, Sarin Dress, Midnight (Available NOW at The Floating Market! This event has been extended!)
Shoes: SlackGirl, Kisa
Hair: Exile, Muse (Available NOW at Collabor88!)
Necklace: SpotCat, Tender Wings
Tattoo: Izzie’s, Lunar Tattoo

Environment
Cool Fortunetelling Sign: The Nerdy Birdy, Fortune Seller Sign
Table: Ison, Fortune teller table
Chair: Sway’s, Fortune Teller Chair
Stools: Sway’s, Fortune Teller Stool
Table décor:
Ison, Fortune Set; and
Sway’s, Fortune Card
Backdrop: Merch, CG Slum Backdrop

A walk in the Garden at Storybrooke

My disturbing dreams continue.

I am so angry with Father I could just spit!

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So Very Angry.

So very angry. He has all this land, all this Land of Ronaofa, and I am his only child, biology notwithstanding. He has adopted no one else, and I am old enough now to take a husband and begin a household of my own.

Father’s dislike for Nathaniel has softened over the years but never completely gone away, even though he has come to respect my intended more and more as a scholar. So his decision to purchase a home for us in a faraway Realm, in some huge city, feels like a slap in the face. There is no political advantage to this move. We could do so much good work here in the libraries.

I couldn’t look at him after this pronouncement. It was so unfair! As if my own father doesn’t want me near him any more. So instead of staying to fight with him, because I’m not a bloody teenager any more, I went off for a walk in Storybooke Gardens.

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The perfect house

Of course, it was just my luck that I came upon the perfect house about ten minutes in to my walk. I was just beginning to feel better, too.

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Heart on the door

It even has a heart on the door! When I think of a place like this, and then compare it to some dingy high rise in a city I’ve never even been to? I just want to scream. Right. Right. Breathe, Gwyneth; Breathe.

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Storybrooke Gardens

I walked away from the beautiful house to view it better from a distance. Storybrooke Gardens is one of my favourite places to spend time when I need to clear my head. Valene brought me here many years ago with some of the kittens, and I’ve always loved it.

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I won’t dwell on my anger.

I won’t dwell on my anger. I’ll just enjoy this day, this walk, the way this new Silvan Moon Designs gown floats around my ankles, and I’ll find some beautiful things to look at.

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I asked a friendly-looking mushroom where I should go.

I asked a friendly-looking mushroom where I should go. Well, I mean, he was smiling. That’s friendly, right? Right?

His voice was whispery and wispy, and the only word I could make out was “Alice”. That was a good shout: I remembered there was a part of the Gardens dedicated to Alice in Wonderland, and who doesn’t love Alice? I thanked him and moved on.

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What a beautiful, whimsical place!

What a beautiful, whimsical place! There were little statues of frogs and bunnies and playing cards—something new everywhere I looked. I could stay here for a while, I think.

So I did. I sat down at the table and pretended to have tea with the Queen of Hearts, possibly to convince her to cut off Father’s head. That was satisfying.

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Eventually, it was time to return.

Even so, I knew I’d have to go back to Ronaofa and either speak to Father or ignore him until dinner time.

I chose the latter. It’s summer: dinner won’t be for hours.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Lona Bento Mesh Head
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Focus (Available NOW at Cosmetic Fair!)
Eyebrows: Ottilie, Tomie Brow (Available on 5 August at The Floating Market Event!)
Nails: Dark Passions Koffin Nails, Dark Orchid (Available NOW at the Gothic Garage Sale!)
Ears: Swallow, Shiny Elf Ears
Eyes: Arte, Reborn Eyes
Dress: Silvan Moon Designs, Lady Penelope Gown (Available on 7 August at The Fantasy Gacha Carnival!)
Necklace: Baiastice, Boudicca
Circlet: Junbug, The Sabrina Circlet
Hair: Stealthic, Cadence

Location: Storybrooke Gardens

Shadow Play

I looked for songs about shadows to illustrate this post, but they all seem to be about being fooled by bad relationships or psychotic ex-lovers, and that’s not really what I wanted to talk about, so despite the fact that the chorus for Fish‘s song Shadowplay keeps going through my head as I write this, I won’t inflict it on you guys. You’ve probably never heard of Fish anyway. He was with a band called Marillion, and you’ve probably never heard of them, either.

Anyway. I haven’t spoken a lot about my experience with the Visionaire photography class here, but you’ve seen the results, changes, and experimentation in my photographs. Or at least I hope you have. Friday was our last class before graduation (February 19— I’ll just go ahead and invite all of you to the party now!), and we had a guest teacher, Senna Coronet. Now, the only thing I knew about Senna before this class was something one of our instructors had told me: he photographs in complete darkness, using only projectors. But the fact is, Senna is a genius at explaining very complex things in a simple way. And, I’m convinced now that not only can Senna photograph in complete darkness, using only projectors—so can I!

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Shadowplay 1

Shadowplay 1: Here, Gwyneth is lit by a projector and three prim lights, the usual LumiPro setup. She is in a constructed prim box, which in retrospect I probably should have made totally white in colour/no texture; however, I knew I would be shooting in Phototools No Light windlight, so I didn’t bother. I may go back and reshoot some of these for my Visionaire graduation portfolio and see how the texture of the box might change the photographs. Anyway, I wanted her to be mostly black and white, so I chose Lumae‘s Eirtae Nimbus fantasy skin: it’s very white with subtle shading, and I’ve used it before when I turned Gwyneth into a Bain Sidhe for a post several months ago. This outfit is one I’ve seen photographed a lot: it’s Blueberry‘s Angelberry set from the current (and half over!) round of The Epiphany. This hair is special, as well: it’s from Emo-Tions, and it’s at Hairology for another few days: it’s Anik, and I loved it so much I’ve already used it in a blog this month, but I love Emo-Tions’ silver textures so much that I put it on again for this one. Gwyneth is wearing eyeshadow from ArteSmoky Eyeshadow, but it’s also called Gwen, so of course I had to buy it! The red lipstick is one of the Catwa choices for the Catya mesh head, which Gwyneth is in almost all the time these days. The lipstick and the eyes (from Avi-GlamElysian Eyes, colour Ghost) are the only things with colour on Gwyneth.

In order to get the projector to appear in a perfect circle, I chose LumiPro‘s wide spotlight bulb for the projector, then moved the projector so that it was centred on Gwyneth’s middle. I pulled it back so that the spotlight appeared to be in a perfect circle around her. This pose, and all the poses in this post, come from An Lar‘s new Flutter Series, which you can find at this month’s SaNaRae. The prim lights are arranged so that Gwyneth’s face and hair are highlighted, and the third (LumiPro standard) prim light is on her body below the waist, on her upper legs. She’s rotated so that there is just a bit of sharp shadow behind her and so that you can see the fluffy wings make a shadow as well. I used some tips I got from William Weaver in the class he taught us at Visionaire about using Phototools to best advantage to make sure my shadows were sharp and visible behind her.

I shot a couple of photos with this lighting setup, and I was so pleased with myself that I sent a Gyazo link to Senna, proudly noting that I had been listening in class. At the same time, the creative and delightful Lola Key suggested that I try a Gobo, so I started playing with some of the LumiPro gobos to see what I could come up with.

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Shadowplay 2: Gobo

Here is a double experiment: a gobo, plus a single blue coloured prim light behind her to colour the shadows and set a different tone for the floor area. In retrospect, I’d like to try this with her floating against the wall so that the shadows don’t bend, but the wall/floor dichotomy also makes her appear to be on a stage somewhere, so perhaps it’s a good thing. Notice how the blue prim light affects the colours of the shadows behind her legs and the bottom part of the wing? This was Senna’s suggestion when I sent him the Gyazo link, and after that I just went crazy, putting differently coloured prim lights behind her and experimenting with different placements!

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Shadowplay 3: Different Gobo, different lights!

Here, there are two more prim lights placed behind Gwyneth so that you get a different colour both on her body and wing shadows, and also one off to the side so that the gobo changes colour on the right side of the photograph. Ordinarily in a blog photo I’d have turned her so her face is visible, but here I was concentrating more on the shadows of her hand against the wall. The Vista Bento Hands do such great things with their random movements, even with static poses, that I left this option on and just shot when I liked the position her hands were in.

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Shadowplay 4: Close-up

For this photograph, I turned off the gobo option and moved the spotlight very close to Gwyneth so that the spotlight circle would appear smaller behind her. I left the purple and teal prim lights in place to create some interest around the edges of the spotlight. For those of you in the UK who are familiar with Charlie Brucker, I’m concerned that Gwyneth looks a little too much like Philomena Cunk in this photograph, but I’ll overlook that for now. Note that all the LumiPro lights were set to a grey colour and I turned the intensity and falloff down so that Gwyneth’s white skin would not be blown out by such a close placement of lights here.

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Shadowplay 5: Symmetry/Asymmetry

Here, I intentionally kept the spotlight fairly small, while panning out so that the single prim light behind Gwyneth’s ankles shows you that she’s standing on a surface somewhere, possibly a stage (which the spotlight sort of implies). I carefully positioned the camera so that her shadow was roughly equidistant from her on all sides, even though she wasn’t perfectly centred in the spotlight.

So many thanks to the whole Visionaire crew for this amazing class. Wren and Nariko have created a wonderful thing. If you want to get your mind blown on a weekly basis and learn more about SL photography than you could possibly absorb in a single second lifetime, check out the Visionaire Website for more information and to see when applications will open for the next class. If you’re super keen, you can always IM WrenNoire Cerise in-world and talk to her: she is approachable, warm, and a great teacher. I cannot say enough about how enlightening and empowering the Visionaire experience is. Do not think about the money. It is not about the money. I am thankful every day that I splashed out for this class. It has been worth every Linden and much, much more. It’s worth it for the critiques alone, but the lessons will blow your mind, and the guest speakers are amazing, and the opportunities for learning more about your own work, developing your own style, and finding out how the pros do it? Just wow.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Catya Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Emo-Tions, Anika (Available for a few more days at Hairology!)
Eyes: Avi-Glam, Elysium Eyes (Omega eye appliers)
Skin: Lumae, Eirtae, Nimbus Fantasy Skin (Available at The Lumae Main Store!)
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Hands: Vista, Bento Prohands
Outfit: Blueberry, Angelberry, in colour Slayer (Available until February 15 at The Epiphany!) —all the colours are beautiful, but I particularly wanted the black for this series of photos.
Makeup: Arte, Gwen Eyeshadow (Smokey Eyeshadow) (Lipstick is included with the Catya head)
Poses: An Lar, The Flutter Series (Available NOW at SaNaRae!)

Setting: A Box!

Learn more about Visionaire at The Visionaire Website!

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I’d never talk about lighting Second Life photography without it!

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Other Jobs For Faeries?

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Ah, morning in a winter Faeryland.

Ah, morning in a winter Faeryland. And I emerge from my picturesque house (which is kind of a hovel, to be fair) into the crisp early morning, where everything looks a bit like a Thomas Kincaid painting … to go to work.

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There is definitely something wrong with this picture.

There is definitely something wrong with this picture. Because I am off to attend the naming ceremony of some ridiculous little mortal baby, who’ll grow up into a pampered princess, do something stupid, and then end up having to be rescued by a Handsome Prince ™. It’s really enough to give a Faery Godmother pause.

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I mean, here I am with Phenomenal Cosmic Powers, so to speak….

I mean, here I am with Phenomenal Cosmic Powers, so to speak…. and I spend them giving gifts like beauty, patience, and wisdom to indolent little twerps who will never say so much as thank you to me.

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It’s enough to make a FG want to be… well… evil.

It’s enough to make a FG want to be … well … evil. But I’m a Good Faerie, so off I go, with my rainbow coloured hair and my spectacular dress, and my gossamer wings, to do my job.

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And do my job I will.

And do my job I will. I’ll give her the gift of grace, or beauty, or the voice of an angel. But I have to tell you, I’ll be secretly laughing behind my expression of de rigeur shock when the Evil Fairy comes round and twists my gift into something challenging, or ugly, or just plain nasty.

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And I’ll wander home, through the forests of summer, into my winter Faeryland….

And I’ll wander home, through the forests of summer, into my winter Faeryland….

But all the time, I’ll be thinking. How shall I change my stars? How shall I transform my life into what it could be, what it might be, what it should be?

And tonight I’ll dream. I’ll dream of waking up tomorrow morning, mystically transformed into a Bad Faerie Godmother. 

And when I walk out of my house, there will be eternal twilight, and a crescent moon….

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And even if I look the same, oh.

And even if I look the same, oh. I’ll be so, so, so different.

Look out, you little mortal bitches.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Catya Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Exile, The Countess
Eyes: Mesange, Sekhmet Eyes (Omega eye appliers)
Skin: Lumae, Ruby in T1 (Available NOW at The Lumae Main Store!)
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Hands: Vista, Bento Prohands
Spectacular Dress: Silvan Moon Designs, The Fairy Godmother Gown (COMING SOON to Enchantment!)
Mask: Wicca’s Wardrobe, Valeria Mask
Makeup: Arte, Glitter Eyeshadows and Alexandria Lipstick

Setting: Awenia (my personal playground)
Picturesque Cottage: 8f8, Cottage Cairn’s Haven

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I’d never malign the character of the sweet and wonderful Fairy Godmother without it!

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Air and Darkness

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I braved the sea.

I braved the sea today. Out on the edge of the Realm, where the water flows (always) round the now-frozen landscape, there is a fragment of an old temple, lovingly preserved by the demifae. And a lighthouse. There is little else in this corner of the Realm, save the lighthousekeeper’s house, which is just far enough from the lighthouse to make it an uncomfortable walk at this time of year.

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How quickly it gets dark!

How quickly it gets dark! Even though I know to expect it, darkness catches me sometimes, catches my breath and my spirit, and takes them on flights, farther away than I could go even with wings and my ability to move between Realms so easily.

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I thought, as the moon rose, about darkness.

I thought, as the moon rose, about darkness. And as the winds blew up and I could sense a storm coming, I thought also about air. If I am the Queen of Winter now, I am also Queen of Air and Darkness, or so the legends and songs say.

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If I am Queen of Air and Darkness, I shall not rush to meet Spring.

If I am Queen of Air and Darkness, I shall not rush to meet spring. I shall stand, and say to the Air, “blow through me”, and I shall say to the Darkness, “be one with me”. And I shall call the cold in, and befriend it, though I shall not scorn the sun.

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On the beach, it was harder to let the Air blow through me.

On the frozen beach, it was harder to let the Air blow through me: it threatened to blow me over. And so I bent, and let it come, and I remembered a song I learned back in my days of folk-club hopping:

I shall bow and be simple
I shall bow and be free
I shall bow and be humble
Yea, bend like the willow tree

I shall bow; this is the token
I shall wear the easy yoke
I shall bow and be broken
Yea, I’ll fall upon the rock

I’ve always heard this described as a Shaker hymn, although the only explicit references to the Christian teachings I can see there are the phrases, “I shall wear the easy yoke”, which comes from the Gospel of Matthew (“My yoke is easy and my burden is light”), and “I’ll fall upon the rock [and be broken]”, also from the Gospel of Matthew. But I digress into academic explication, a habit that’s mostly worthless to me now.

Bending my body and letting the wind take me, however, was not worthless to me.

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I found strength in bending.

I found strength in bending. And then, it was as if the wind blew through my body effortlessly, and I became an instrument of the wind.

And, as darkness fell, I also became an instrument of the darkness. What kind of instrument I will be, well. That remains to be seen.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Catya Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Phoenix,  Kiara (Available NOW at Hairology!)
Eyes: Mesange, Lionsong Eyes (Omega eye appliers)
Skin: The Plastik, Taryn in Creme (Available NOW at The Plastik Main Store!)
Makeup: Arte, Frost Mask (blue)
Ears: Swallow, High Definition Elf Ears
Wings: Material Squirrel, Thethys Wings (light coloured)
Hands: Vista, Bento Prohands
Nails: The Plastik, Veez (Available NOW at The Season’s Story!)
Necklaces: both from The Plastik; short: The Skein Necklace; long: The Hallow necklace
Gown: Junbug, Ice Maiden (in Ice) (Available NOW at The Season’s Story!)
Crown: E.V.E, Valindra’s Crown
Shoes (even though you can’t see ’em!): Violatility, Fairy Heels, in Bubble

Scene:
Stairs: {anc}, Stairs for Moonlight
Lighthouse: Hideki, Lighthouse
Poses: An Lar, all from the Marta Series (Available NOW at The Season’s Story!)

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never make Gwyneth wander frozen shores and contemplate her existence without it!

 

Self Portraits in the Dead of Winter

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Sometimes…

Sometimes, sometimes, sitting here on my cloud
My thoughts turn to fears I cannot speak aloud.
It seems too much trouble, this holding ’til Spring
And so in this darkness I whistle and I sing.

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Then I ask why…

Why did my life lead me to times such as these
Where hope for the future’s as slight as the breeze
Just give me one tale for my trouble in mind
And round it I promise I’ll twist and I’ll twine

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I’ll twine and I’ll twist…

I’ll twine and I’ll twist, till my shadow appears
I’ll see her and sing her the song of the spheres
She’ll dance with me sing with me, carry me home
We’ll drink honeysuckle and eat honeycomb
And we’ll while away decades out on the front porch
Just singing and dancing, no fear or remorse
Where there’s music, there’s hope, and my shadow will know
All of the songs I forgot long ago
Long ago, long ago, like a vine I will twine
Every tune I forgot will be mine

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But my shadow is fading…

But my shadow is fading, the dawn’s spreading blue
Blue January’s the fear I construe
She does not want to know me: she withdraws her hand
She leaves me alone all in this no girl’s land

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Catya Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Mithril Apothecary, Gromwell (Available NOW at  Hairology!)
Eyes: Mesange, Sekhmet Eyes (Omega eye appliers) (Available NOW at The Chapter 4!)
Ears: Swallow, High Definition Elf Ears
Skin: Lumae, Ruby (for Catwa heads), Tone 1 (Available NOW at the Lumae Main Store!)
Makeup:
Eyeshadow: Veechi, Solstice Shadow (Available NOW at The Season’s Story!)
Lipstick: Arte, Alexandra Lipstick, Pastels
Hands: Vista, Bento Prohands
Necklace: The Plastik, The Lairelei Jewelery (Available NOW at The Season’s Story!)
Top: Salt, Ella, Navy (Available NOW at The Chapter 4!)
Boots: Have Unequal, Betty Boots, Blue (Available NOW at The Liaison Collaborative!)

Scene:
Window Seat, Cushions, Poses: oOo Studio, Winterview Vignette (Available NOW at The Season’s Story!)

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never write depressing love songs without it!

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