Book Forest Expanded (The Changing Landscape of Awenia, 4)

I watched out the window as the boundaries of the Book Forest expanded. It’s funny, when things like this happen: you don’t actually see things moving—it’s just that a few seconds, or minutes, or hours later, you note that something has changed position.

The Book Forest is its own entity. It began as a concept in my mind, I admit, and I did have something to do with the first little iteration of it, but since then, as with all the wild places of Faerie, it has developed a mind and soul of its own. I noted the changing boundaries for a few days, but I stayed away because I knew the Book Forest would take care of itself. When the boundaries seemed to settle (or at least have been in the same place for a couple of days), I took Bran and his trusty smartphone camera, and we went down to take a look at the new Forest.

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The Book Forest

This is my favourite photo that Bran took as we explored the remade. Book Forest. He took so many pictures!

This entry is going to be image-intensive: there are 26 photos of the book forest. I’ll do my best to keep the text within reason!

As with all the best forests, the first thing I felt when I walked into the Book Forest is this wonderful silence. The outside world just falls away.

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The outside world fell away.

The outside world fell away, and suddenly we were in the world of “once upon a time”.

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Joy and wonder

I was overcome by a sense of joy and wonder. The first thing I noticed was this beautiful area that looked like a homage to writing and to books themselves.

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Stop shooting me!

“Stop photographing me and concentrate on the forest!” I admonished. “Bran, seriously; look where we are.”

Bran looked at me and winked. “I am looking, Your Majesty,” he said.

“Perv,” I shot back.

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Look at all the little chairs!

“Look at all the little chairs! Some of them are even shaped like books!” I couldn’t resist the urge to play storyteller.

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Bran seemed to like it too.

Bran seemed to like it too: he just kept photographing me as I laughingly told him to stop. I loved that the statue behind me was supported by two armloads of books, that the mushroom table had a stack of books on it. There was just so much to see.

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I wanted to tell stories here forever.

I wanted to tell stories here forever; there was something about the ambiance of the place, magical, removed, and yet so solid.

But there were many other things to see, so I stepped down from the tree stump podium and we walked further in to the forest.

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The next stop was a tiny house.

The next stop was a tiny house with books on the steps as if somebody had just run in to make a cup of tea.

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A mysterious air….

There was a mysterious air about the little cottage, as if magic occurred there. I wondered if it was the residence of some Author or other.

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Seriously, stop photographing me!

“Seriously, Bran—stop photographing me! If you do it again, I will make a photo face!”

The camera clicked. Again.

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I warned you!

“I warned you, Bran!” I shouted. “You know not to test me!”

To my embarrassment, there was no other sound than the electronic click of Bran’s mobile phone camera.

I sighed. “Fine. Let’s see what’s in this house.”

Bran insisted that it was rude to just walk into someone’s house, even if nobody was there. Some part of me, the part that grew up in Southeast London where places have bars on the windows, knew that. But Queen Gwyneth, you know. She goes anywhere she likes.

In the end, I folded. “Fine; but let’s look through the window at least.”

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It looked like someone was just moving in.

It looked like someone was just moving in: there was an empty bookshelf, and the only inhabitants were two cats. I do like cats.

“Maybe we could get to know whoever lives here,” I mused.

“Maybe,” Bran said. “But there’s more to see.”

“Yes, yes, yes,” I said.

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Beautiful trees behind the house.

There were beautiful trees behind the house. “You know what?” I said. “I really like that all the paths are made from books.”

“Oh, you noticed that, huh?” Bran smirked. “Your powers of observation are truly staggering, Your Majesty.”

“I don’t think you’re allowed to talk to me that way, Bran.”

“I have a photograph of you making a very rude selfie face, Your Majesty.”

“Fine.”

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Signs everywhere

There were also little signs everywhere; I liked that touch. And there were beautiful lamps, even though we didn’t need them in the bright sunlight of Faerie during the day. The fairytale books with their pop-up paper castles and other little touches gave us something new to look at every time we turned.

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Book Fort!

“Bran, Bran! Look! It’s a book fort! Take a picture of that!”

“I already did, My Lady.”

He was way ahead of me.

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Happily ever after

Once again, I was caught by these signs. Up ahead, there was this amazing glowing door set in to a rock.

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Another “strange” sign

There was another “strange” sign in front of the glowing door (See what I did there?). I wanted to go through it, but Bran resisted. I won, of course, but when I tapped on the door, nothing happened. How annoying.

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Somewhat changed, but still recognisable.

The book forest had kept some of its old features, and this little ruin was one of them. There were new features here, of course—and weirdly, some of them seemed to have come from my Frog Prince dream a couple of weeks ago. How very odd. The moon on a stand was here, and the little figuring of the frog prince himself looking into a mirror. I just shook my head.

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Candy Apple Tree

I loved this candy apple tree, next to another one of those beautiful pop-up books. It was hard to keep all the little details straight: I could see I was going to have to come here again and again.

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Stump House

This little house made from the largest stump I’d ever seen, had also been a feature of the old forest, but the surrounding roses and trees were new. I guess the book forest’s expansion provided more room for beautiful things. And I’m never one to discount the appeal of beautiful things.

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Book bed and bridge

The little area with the bed made from a book and the table full of interesting things was till there, as was the bridge. But there were new book piles, even a large book arch.

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Then I turned around, and this little house took my breath away

Then I turned around, and this little house took my breath away. When I checked, it was empty. “It’s just waiting for someone small to move in,” I told Bran.

“Like… Clutie, for instance?” Brian asked. He was smirking.

“She’d never leave me,” I said.

“How wonderful for you.” The expression on his face said everything. Bran and Clutie… yeah; they don’t get along.

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Wow, look at that book arch!

“Wow! Look at that book arch!” I couldn’t wait to stand under it. “Bran, Bran! Take a photograph!” I shouted.

Brian smirked. “I thought you didn’t want me to make any more photographs of you, on pain of your selfie face,” he said.

“I changed my mind.”

Bran rolled his eyes.

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Rose petals, like a kiss

Now, sometimes funny things happen around you when you’re a Faerie Queen. In this case, it was hundreds of rose petals, just falling from the big book arch. So I blew them at Bran. To thank him for the photograph, of course.

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The Narnia Wardrobe

I call this the Narnia Cupboard. It’s been here since the Book Forest first sprang out of the surrounding woodlands. I like to think it was the first thing that appeared here, and maybe everything else sprang from it. It’s special.

But we were approaching where the paths converged, nearly back to the Book Forest’s entrance. I couldn’t help but feel a little sad. I only get to discover a place for the first time, once.

Until it remakes itself again, that is.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Lona Bento Mesh Head
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Seattle (Available NOW at  Ultra!)
Nails: Cazimi, August VIP Nails (You can pick this up at the Cazimi Main Store!, but only if you’re a member of the Cazimi VIP Group)
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Eyes: AviGlam, Doll’s Eyes
Gown: Junbug, Pippa Gown (Available NOW at Equal10!)
Hair and Antlers: Analog Dog (natch), Doe (Available FOR JUST TWO MORE DAYS at The Gacha Garden!)
Autumn Necklace & Earrings: Bliensen & MaiTai, Augumn (Available NOW at Collabor88!)
Book of Shadows Necklace: Maxi Gossamer, Soul Catcher Book of Spells
Rose Petals: Persefona, Floating Rose Petals 2

Location: Awenia, The Book Forest
There are so many things to credit here that I know I will leave some out and possibly put some in that aren’t shown properly in photographs. If you have questions or would like to know more about any item, just leave a comment here or message me in-world (Gwen.enchanted), and I’ll give you whatever information I can. Also, some of the items have stories around them, and I am not able to resist telling a good story, ever.

Book Paths and Forest Bounding Books: Una, Book Path. (This is now a group gift at the Una Main Store!) Una Daxter sent me this, I think because I played her Alexandra gacha about a million times at a Fantasy Gacha Carnival. It’s one of the coolest things anybody has ever given me, and I have blogged and photographed and credited it more times than I can count. It was absolutely the inspiration for the Book Forest, and I cannot thank her enough for that small gift. Although it’s been in every blog post featuring the Book Forest, I haven’t told this story before. I love it very much.
Forest Entrance Book, Brown Book Scenes, Leaf Book, Book Bed Fae Swing (with a tree): BananaN, all from Story Book Gacha except the swing. (You can find this at the BananaN Main Store!)
Tree Stump Chairs and Podium, Mushroom Seats, Tree Spirit With Books: Merchants of Dreams, Writers’ Place. This was a live auction item from the 2015 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire. It’s not available. It was given to me by the people who won the auction so that it could be placed at the Milk Wood Writers’ Colony, and there is a copy of it there in Gossamer Down so that anyone can use it to hold workshops and meetings.
Cabin, Doors of Durin, and Pink and White Pop-Up Castle Book: Spell, A Forest Tale Gacha, Cabin; Spell, Middle Earth Gacha; and Spell, Once Upon a Time Gacha  (You can find all of these at the Spell Main Store!)
Butterfly Tree with Faeries: Simply Shelby, Butterfly Tree (Available at the Simply Shelby Main Store!)
Lighted Book Tree: {e}lusive Designs, Book Tree With Lights. ({e}lusive is in between stores at present; however you can find their stuff at the {e}lusive Marketplace Store.)  Dema Fairport, who created this beauty, is a SL creator, DJ, and photographer. She was in my Visionaire class, and we’ve been friends ever since.
Lanterns, Wishing Well, and Bridge: Raindale, Maplemoor Gacha. (You can find this at the Raindale Main Store!)
Signs: All these signs are from the stunning 8f8 Storyteller’s Burrow gacha. (You can find this, and lots of other amazing stuff, at the 8f8 Main Store!)
Big Book Fort: Cheeky Pea, Book Nook gacha, Book Fort (You can find this at the Cheeky Pea Main Store!)
Ruins: Ionic, Sacred Ruins (Available at the Ionic Main Store!)
Décor in Ruins:
-Silver Moon on Stand:
Air, Frog Moon Silver (Available NOW atEnchantment!)
-Table:
Dust Bunny, Autumn Calling, Wooden Table (You can find this at the Dust Bunny Main Store!)
-Book on Table With Rose:
Konpeitou, Beauty and the Book w/Rose (Available NOW at Enchantment!)
-Frog with Mirror (on table)
Konpeitou, Frog Prince Mirror (Available NOW at Enchantment!)
-Alchemy Book Scene: Stormwood, Alchemy Book Scene!)
-Story Book on floor (and many other story books scattered around the forest): Divine Creations, Tell Me a Story (It looks like Divine Creations has some Real Life and isn’t active in SL at the moment, but you could probably find pieces of this gacha on the Marketplace.)
Candy Apple Tree, Fairy Tale Chairs, Table, Parfaits, Daisies & Ladybirds, Will-O-Wisp Tree, Glam Poppies, Persian Carpet Grass:  (Available at The Looking Glass’ Horizon Dream Region!) I’m a proud Looking Glass fan.
Stump House: Since 1975, Fairytale Garden House (Available at the Since 1975 Main Store!)
Magical Tree House: Kazza, Abode Tree (I couldn’t find this at their main store; it was an ultra rare from a fantasy gacha. You can find it on the SL Marketplace, but it’ll cost you.)
Roses: {anc} Sugar Rose Field (Available at the {anc} Main Store!)
Giant Book Chair and Wonderland Book Arch: Boudoir. (Available at the Boudoir Main Store!)
Trees: There are so many different trees in here I’d go nuts listing them all for you, but they’re from places like Rivendale, Harshlands, Keke, and Happy Mood. You can go to every single one of these places and find the most amazing stuff ever.

Thank you to everyone who previewed the expanded Book Forest and gave suggestions, reactions, or just was nice to me while I went through all my obsessive stories about Cool Stuff. These people include, but are not limited to: Mystical Edenflower, Nyza Stillwater, LLRiven, and Nathaniel Ballard.

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.

Revisiting the Book Forest

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Would you go?

Would you go? Would you walk into the wardrobe and take your winter coat and travel to Narnia in winter?

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Entering the Book Forest makes me ask such questions of myself.

Entering the Book Forest makes me ask such questions of myself. It is a place where there are no limits to the imagination. As small as it is, it seems dense and immense when you’re inside it. And it brings so many lovely things back into my head. Although my duties in Faerie are many, particularly now that we are having such an influx of people who are a bit afraid of being on the Island. I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t try to separate it from the contemporary Realm it lies in and try to rewrite history.

Then again, rewriting history is a dangerous practice. Dyisi would surely warn against it.

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Is it running away, if you are recreating?

Is it running away, if you are recreating? Again, Dyisi would probably say yes. But then she thinks I run from everything.

And, OK, maybe I’ve been prone to do that… in the past. But I love this Realm, this little town, these whimsical shops and pathways. And the Book Forest, more than anything, is the centre of the whole idea. You can put anything together. Everything can be juxtaposed. You can have a bakery next door to a magic shop. You can have an Amsterdam canal front in sight of a princess tower. You get what I mean.

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I was always fascinated by juxtaposition.

Even in London, I was always fascinated by juxtaposition. And I guess it’s no surprise: London’s sense of history rams gracefully (yes, really!) up against its boldness, its newness. The reflection of society and history, the calling-out of the ages, many ages all together, is nowhere more apparent than in London.

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And of course it’s true that nowhere looks less like London than the Book Forest.

And of course it’s true that nowhere looks less like London than the Book Forest. But there are books about London here, I’m sure of it. Somewhere along the book paths or in the book stacks. They must be here, because there’s always a book about London.

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It’s funny. When I was a little girl, I used to imagine that I could turn a corner in St. Martin’s Passage and find myself somehow in a magical realm.

It’s funny. When I was a little girl, I used to imagine that I could turn a corner in St. Martin’s Passage and find myself somehow in a magical realm. That mindset, that life, that me seems so far away now. As far away as a story. As far away as a book. A character. Something I just read about. Even my (adoptive) parents are a faded memory now. It’s so much like a store that I wonder if I should write it one day, get it published in a mundane Realm without obvious magic, where people long for stories like mine. But there are many stories to live, I think, before it’s time to tell mine properly.

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And then, from the Paradise Lost statue, pages fly as if escaping the book.

And then, from the Paradise Lost statue, pages fly as if escaping the book. Should I return them? Or are they going somewhere special?

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I decide to follow.

I decide to follow them, and they lead me past the book hourglass as if they’re searching for something.

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Chasing book pages is every bit as fun as you think it is.

Chasing book pages is every bit as fun as you think it is, which is to say it isn’t fun at all, unless you like chasing things. Now would be a good time to have a dog, I guess. We run past a replica of the Doors of During that appeared here last week, and the pages pause, as if considering whether to enter. I hope they don’t: I haven’t been through that door myself yet.

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They pause and turn toward the book steps.

They pause and turn toward the book steps. There are other fluttering pages here: maybe they long to be with their own kind? Oh, great; I’m now ascribing sentience to a bunch of floating pages. Perhaps Faerie has finally driven me mad? That bitchy little Demifae queen would be so happy.

Make up your minds little pages!

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Maybe I should just accept the fact that they’re not going anywhere.

Maybe I should just accept the fact that they’re not going anywhere. Stand here, juggle them a bit, look cool. I look cool, right? I mean, here I am juggling papers. Because that’s a cool thing to do on a Friday night. It’s not like there could ever be anything better to do. I’ll bet they just want to stay here. I take a deep breath and try to give in to the pages, stay still with them.

But then, they’re off again, and of course I’m compelled to chase them.

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They fly over to the door of a house that’s made from a tree.

They fly over to the door of a house that’s made from a tree. Wait– when did that appear? Faerie changes so rapidly. I know it’s a mirror of my mind, but am I so flighty? Maybe I am.

Under the door of the house they all go, but there’s a light on in the window, and I swear I smell pipe smoke. I don’t think now’s a good time. Hopefully the inhabitant, if there is one, will be able to find a place for the pages.

As for me, I wander back toward the front of the forest.

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And there I find… a wardrobe.

And there I find… a wardrobe. Again. And it brings us full circle. I’ve been so many places, but will I go here? will I just walk through?

It’s a portal like any other.

All I have to do is step through.

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But… not today.

But… not today. Today I’ll just curl up with a book and a kitten. Books and kittens. There’s no better way to end a day in the book forest. And maybe tomorrow I’ll see what’s behind those doors. Both of them.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Lona Bento Mesh Head
Hair: No Match, No Again (Available NOW at Hairology!)
Circlet: Venge, Anisa Head Adornment
Eyes: Mesange, Artic Eyes (Available NOW at On9!)
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Skin: 7 Deadly s[K]ins, Vyra, in a NEW SKIN TONE, Dew, which is lovely on Gwyneth! Poster with more information below!
Tattoo: Misschievous, Chandelier Tattoo (faded)
Nails: Cazimi, Whimsy Nails (Maitreya Appliers)
Dress: The Muses, Daphne (Available NOW at We ❤ RP!)
Collar: Footpaw Industries Celtic Filigree Amythest Collar (attached rose from Footpaw Industries AeLan necklace)
Boots: !go!, Fay Brown Boots

Props:
Wishing Well and Bridge: Raindale/Maplemoor
Paper Books with cardboard pop-ups: Sepia book with castle: BananaN, Story Book Gacha
Paradise Lost Statue: by Nacht: Paradise Lost (Available NOW at The Liaison Collaborative!)
House made from a Tree Trunk: Since 1975, Fairytale Garden House
Book with Floating Letters: Violatility, La Literature Surrealiste Light
Hourglass and Book with Steps and Pages: Disorderly, Timed Literary
Ruins: Ionic, Sacred Ruins
Doors of Durin: Spell, Lord of the Rings Gacha, Doors of Durin (Chap4)
Book Paths: Book Forest Door, Una, Book Gacha
Wardrobe: 22769, Imaginarium (Available NOW at The Liaison Collaborative!)

Poses:
Poses with Pages: Elephante, Story of Love (Available NOW at The Liaison Collaborative!)
Pic with Cat: Le Poppycock, Book Lovers (Available NOW at The Liaison Collaborative!)
Standing Poses: An Lar, the Bronte Series (Available NOW at The Liaison Collaborative!)

Many of the new Book Forest items are from the current round of The Liaison Collaborative, which has a literary theme! The wardrobe in particular is worth a mention: it’s 22769‘s Imaginarium

As always, thanks for reading. I love you guys.

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I’d never visit the Book Forest without it!

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Changes and Accomplishments

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Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up and say, “Hey; I want to be a redhead!”?

Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up and say, “Hey, I want to be a redhead!”? Well, I mean, unless you’re a redhead already, in which case the point is kind of moot. But that’s how I woke up this morning. The mist was thick on the ground as I made my way through the book forest. I noticed a few new things there, but I didn’t have time to investigate. I had a sense of purpose.

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Somehow, I knew the bower would be there.

Somehow, I knew the bower would be there. Of course, it looks different here from the Wylds. It’s bigger. But here’s bigger, you know? The trees are bigger. They feel older. Maybe it’s because I’m older. And the structure that’s defined my bower for the last several seasons is here, too. It’s comforting, like a church, but for someone like me, whose windows look out into eternity and whose walls don’t shut out the world, the wood, the flowers.

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I took a deep breath. And for a moment, I found serenity.

I took a deep breath. And for a moment, I found serenity. But my new Realm wasn’t out of surprises for me yet: I knew there was yet more for me to discover.

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I took a moment to centre myself.

I took a moment to centre myself and take in the ambiance of the oak tree. I could feel the growing forest behind me: DI felt no need to turn and look, but of course I wanted to turn and look. Then, I rounded the oak tree to come closer to the Green, and I gasped at what I saw.

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Tucked beneath that giant oak tree was a little boho paradise.

Tucked beneath that giant oak tree was a little boho paradise. Pink ivy leaves covered the trunk and roots of the tree, set into which was a shelf with a beautiful clock. And floating parasols!

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Who could resist sitting here for a while? Not me.

Who could resist sitting here for a while? Not me. I found the morning drifting in to noon. As always in a magical Realm, time moves differently here. I recalled how the raven tower had made me think of my bower in the Wylds, and I smiled as I thought of those gorgeous windows, open to the sky, behind me. I longed for a book, a good book, to appear, and I found myself holding a book by Neil Gaiman I didn’t know existed. Apparently he’s retelling Norse myths now! Well, that ate up a few hours, as you might imagine.

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Eventually, as the sun moved into afternoon, I wandered back in to the flower meadow.

Eventually, as the sun moved into afternoon, I wandered back in to the flower meadow. How large it seemed, how open. So different from how it had been almost completely enclosed by forest in the Wylds. I wonder if this is my new mindset: an open-ness to things, a receiving, an acceptance. The flowers glowed with their own light as the hazy noon wore into afternoon, and I took some pleasure in feeling small inside my bower. A bower that will be open to everyone, a place for all to visit.

Oh, and then I felt tired—as if I’d done some act of creation just by walking through the flower field. I made my way back toward the beautiful couch and that book of Norse myths. Suddenly I was struck by a thought, and `I nearly laughed aloud.

What would that ludicrous reporter, Cherish Gelato, think of this place? I imagined her poking around, putting her nose into places it doesn’t belong, wondering why there were unfinished places that just look like vast fields of grass, and my explaining to her that this was not a Realm that came in to being overnight; that it must grow like a garden.

And then she’d ask me: “Are you proud of what you’re creating here?”

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Am I proud? “You bet your sweet arse I am.”

Am I proud? 

“You bet your sweet arse I am.”

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Lona Bento Mesh Head (Available NOW at Skin Fair!)
Hair: Analog Dog (natch), V (Available NOW at Hairology!)
Eyes: Mesange, Hiraeth Eyes (Omega Appliers) (Available NOW at We ❤ Roleplay!)
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Wednesday, snow (Full body skin and head applier, Available NOW at Skin Fair! These are 7 Deadly s{K}ins’ NEW. body appliers, and they are amazing and easy to use, and so fast!)
Hands: Vista, Bento Prohands
Necklace: Earthstones, Flight of Fancy Necklace (Available NOW at The Liaison Collaborative!)
Dress: Silvan Moon Designs, Peaches and Cream Dress, Blue (Available SOON at Shiny Shabby!)
Shoes: Ingenue, Gretchen Flats, Dove (Available NOW at The Arcade Gacha!)

Scenes:
Book Path: Una, Book Path
Book with trees: BananaN, Story Book Gacha Scene 3
Table and Chairs, Wishing Well: Raindale, Maplemoor Set
Grass: Alirium, Downy Grass
Birch Trees: The Little Branch, White Birch Cluster
Windowed Structure: Kaelis Ember, Find Here Amenity
Big Tree: Cube Republic, Auchmore Oak
Magical Flower Field: The Looking Glass, Ichi Fields
Boho Hangout Spot: The Looking Glass, In My Boho Garden (Available NOW at The Secret Affair!)
Background Trees: Various trees by Studio Skye, The Little Branch, Happy Mood, Heart, Trompe Loeil
SimSurround: Landscapes Unlimited, Rolling Hills Large Skybox Environment

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I’d never create an organic magical realm without it!

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On a Misty Morning….

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Mm, coffee!

So the best thing about being up in the actual morning is coffee. Or at least it is from my perspective. And building my own weird little world requires caffeine. Today I decided to give Gwyneth a bit of a casual look, because she’s working after all, and it’s not always practical to order your minions around while wearing ballgowns, right? This hair is new from Wasabi Pills: it’s the Bianca hair, and you can find it in a gacha at this month’s Chapter Four. The outfit is also a gacha, from the currently-running (and nearly done!) Kustom 9; it’s Zenith‘s Fur Scarf Sweater and Winter Leather Fur Boots. The Fur Scarf Sweater is a rare item, but all the sweaters are lovely, and they come with the cup of coffee and tintable hands that are easy to colour to whatever shade you want. The tattoos on Gwyneth’s legs and face are from Stardust, whose wonderful work I have only just discovered. The leg tattoo is called Ami, and the face tattoo (which you an see more clearly in the next photo) is Amelina. There is a matching body tattoo called Amelia that you can’t see in this photograph. They’re available as single purchases or as a fatpack at The Chapter 4.

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A little closer

If we come a little closer, you can see the hair, the face tattoo, the skin, and the fur scarf a little more clearly. First of all, the Wasabi Pills hair comes in two different styles: this is the one where both sides are tucked behind the ear. The other style has one side falling over the ear and one side tucked. I like the tucked style because it doesn’t interfere with Gwyneth’s ears. The ears are from Swallow; they’re the High Definition Elf Ears that were offered for the first time at Shiny Shabby a few months back. Once again, Gwyneth is in the Taryn Omega mesh head applier from The Plastik. I can’t say enough about how much I love this skin, so I’ll just shut up about it already, except to say that this is a darker colourway, Au Lait, and that my favourite part about it are the lips, which seem to capture the constantly-evolving Gwyneth Bento head shape perfectly. I’m wearing a lot of Mesange eyes recently; I think I’ve mentioned I like them because they’re Omega appliers (Genesis appliers as well) and I can’t be bothered with re-situating a different pair of mesh eyes every day! These are the Sekhmet Eyes, and they’re also at The Chapter 4 this month. As almost always, Gwyneth is in the Maitreya Lara mesh body, and this is the Catwa Catya Bento mesh head.

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More Book Forest details!

Here are some more book forest details We’ve moved a little deeper into the forest; you can see the Cerridwen’s Cauldron Fae Waystone from here as well as the Book Door, though it’s obscured by the mist that will probably cover everything in this space quite a lot of the time once it’s done. Well, in my windlight at least: I’m not going to put down mist because it makes the lag-beast happy! (In case you’re curious, the windlight is Alchemy Immortals Foggy Morning.) Next to Gwyneth is one of the lovely pieces from that amazing Storybook Gacha by BananaN that started this whole “Book Forest” thing. It’s the Scene 3 item. I love the tree with the little ladder. In the distance and partly obscured by trees, you can see one of the most beautiful bits of the Raindale Maplemoor Gacha, the Maplemoor Bridge. I’ll put up a more close-up photo of it once I get that side of the Book Forest detailed; for now imagine that the mist comes right up to the edge of the bridge and obscures everything beyond it. Luckily, the windlight does that pretty well! You can get all the beautiful Maplemoor items at this month’s The Crossroads event.

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Mist, and a lamppost.

I like the idea of the mist obscuring all areas of the sim platform that haven’t been built yet. It gives me both plausible deniability and the ability to procrastinate, as I have a lot of other projects coming due shortly and I won’t be able to get back to building for a week or so, probably. But of course, a good lamppost can see you through (or at least to the edge of) the mist, and this one is another one of the beautiful Raindale items, the Maplemoor Lantern. I love discovering new things in SL. The book paths, again, are from Una, part of the Book Road set, and the trees are The Little Branch‘s White Birch Cluster.

No style card today, as it’s all in the text; links appear above as necessary.

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never build Book Forests without it!

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Beginning a Book Forest

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Gwyneth:

I’m building a book forest. Yes, that’s right: a book forest. I got inspired by this gacha at The Guardians, the Storybook Gacha by BananaN. One of the rares is a Book Door! And I was thinking, what would you find if you walked through a Book Door? I’d come across this great set from Una, the Book Road, after I played an Una gacha at a past Fantasy Gacha Carnival, and I’ve been  meaning to use it and blog it every since, but life and my kitchen (don’t even ask!) and sickness got in the way, so it’s been on a shelf in my inventory for months now. I also have this great Book Tree from HarshLands that I’ve used in other places before and photographed on a couple of occasions.

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Building a Book Forest

Building a book forest, as it turns out, takes some time. I designated a portion of the sim platform to put it on and then began laying out paths. Now, I love to shop (tell us something we don’t know, Gwen!), and so when I got to check out some pre-release items that’ll be at The Crossroads, which opens today, 3 January, I discovered the magical work of Keira RaindaleRaindale has an absolutely gorgeous gacha coming out at The CrossroadsMaplemoor. It includes, among other gorgeous things which I’ll show you as I continue to build and photograph the Book Forest, the gorgeous lamp and wishing well you can see in this photograph.

So, what do you need, really, to build a Book Forest?

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You need a head full of stories.

You need a head full of stories, first of all. You must love, really love, story. I as a writer, blogger, songwriter, student, and investigator of all things mystical, love nothing better than a good story, and Gwyneth the character reflects this. Like me, her background is in literature and books; unlike me, her concentration is much more on poetry and high literature than mine is, though I have studied those bits and pieces and have read widely. Behind Gwyneth you can see both the Raindale Wishing Well and the HarshLands BookTree. Gwyneth’s skin is part of a stunning new set from The Plastik. Vae really hit this one out of the park, and this skin, Taryn, in colourway Creme, is available at The Plastik Main StoreThe hair is Carrie, new at the Analog Dog Main Store.

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You need a good lamppost.

You need a good lamppost. Possibly several of them. Because there is never a place in the forest where you’ll feel alone if you have something to guide your steps along the Book Road. All of the bits of the Book Road, by the way, are from Una, as are the large books that ring the forest. The trees surrounding the books are the Mystical Birches from The Little Branch. I’ll include a style card below the post, but Gwyneth is wearing a stunning new gown from JunbugLittle Bird. You can pick up the gown at this month’s Fameshed event; this is the Ruby Silk, but it comes, as you’d expect from Junbug, in a fabulous array of colours. I fell in love with this crown at the recently-closed Winter Solstice in the Mystic Realms event; it’s by Muse, the Rose Brooch Crown. This one wasn’t available at the event; I hunted it down at the Muse Main Store.

So, let’s see. You need a head full of stories. You need a good lamppost.

And, oh, yes.

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You need to not be afraid of the dark.

You need to not be afraid of the dark.

There’s more to come: I’m in love with my book forest, and I will show you all of it, once it’s done.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Catya Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Analog Dog (natch!),  Carrie (NEW at the Analog Dog Main Store!)
Eyes: Mesange, Serendipity Eyes (Omega eye appliers)
Skin: The Plastik, Taryn in Creme (NEW at The Plastik Main Store!)
Hands: Vista, Bento Prohands
Nails: ZOZ, New Year’s Nails (Dark) (Available NOW at Cosmopolitan!)
Gown: Junbug, Little Bird (Available NOW at Fameshed!)
Crown: Muse, Rose Brooch Crown
Shoes (even though you can’t see ’em!): Illi, Rosalynn Heels

Scene:
Book Door: BananaN, Book Doorway, from the Storybook Gacha (Available NOW at The Guardians,!)
Book Road: Una, Book Road, Small
Flanking Books: Una, Book Road, Book 5, Book 6, Book 2
Lamppost: Raindale, Maplemoor Lantern, from the Maplemoor Gacha (Coming Soon to The Crossroads, which opens TODAY, 3 January 2017)
Wishing Well: Raindale, Maplemoor Well, from the Maplemoor Gacha (Coming Soon to The Crossroads, which opens TODAY, 3 January 2017)
Forked Tree: The Little Branch, Green Ash
Mushroom Circle: The Roawenwood, Tangleshimmer Grove Fairy Ring (Purple)
Book Tree: HarshLands, Book Tree
Grasses: all from Alirium, Puffy Grass and Downy Grass
Glowing Undergrowth: Cerridwen’s Cauldron, Gaia Undergrowth
Poses: An Lar, all from the Ava Series

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never build Book Forests without it!

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Works in Progress….

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Gwyneth:

So, yeah. You know how it is. The seasons turn, Yule comes and goes, the mortal world is celebrating the beginning of a new year, and you’re pacing around on your sim platform, trying to think of a series of evocative photographs that’ll get you through Certain Things Yet To Be Announced, not to mention your Visionaire graduation, which is coming up sooner than you’d like to admit. And you look around yourself, and you go, ‘Well, sweet goddess; why am I building and tearing down all these photo sets on a temporary looking platform? I have a whole effing sim to play with!’

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Well, OK, maybe it’s not exactly that story for everybody.

Well, OK, maybe it’s not exactly that story for everybody. But we’ve all had that revelation when we realise we’d been making something more complicated than it had to be, yeah? Some of the best things in the world are simple. Take this new hair from Wasabi Pills. It’s called Isla, and it’ll be at Fameshed on the first of January, unless they open late because of the holiday. I love it, because it is marvellously, stunningly, simple. Like the solution to my problem.

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And so, my lovelies, I present to you some works in progress.

And so, my lovelies, I present to you some works in progress. First of all, I’m still experimenting with finding the perfect shape for Gwyneth’s Catwa Catya Bento mesh head, which I still love to pieces. Just the eye animations keep me rapt, because Gwyneth’s eyes seem to move naturally in their sockets, rather than kind of sliding beneath the sockets on a static mesh head. In fact, I’ve changed her face shape slightly since shooting these photographs; I became unhappy with a detail about the way her cheek met the hollows beneath her eyes and spent a while playing with that this morning before starting this post. I’ll shoot a couple of special photos so you can see what I mean before I finish this post, so please don’t mind me if I yammer on for a bit here.

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Out of the mist…

But getting back to what I was talking about before I got distracted by my hair…. I began thinking, even though the ground area of my sim is covered by the beautiful Pacific Northwest Rainforest that Dyisi Oppewall has created for our roleplaying group, there are still all these (extra!) prims left over, and so why didn’t I just make a sim-sized sky platform with a great surround so that it felt like there was a horizon?

And thus, out of the mist, was this idea born. It doesn’t have a name yet. What you see in the photo above are the bare beginnings of it; there’s a rez platform over on the left, even. As with most of my changing SL homes since the 2016 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, the first and central object placed is my glorious Last Hope statue, a one-of-a-kind (well, two-of-a-kind!) item created by the geniuses at Death Row Designs. Some of you know I lost my beloved husband to cancer at the beginning of 2016. Some of you also know that in another life, I’m a semiprofessional harper. To me, this statue is me playing a lament for my beloved. The dove is hope itself, or possibly Joe’s immortal spirit, come to listen. I knew at the time I wanted a circular path around the statue and four of Elicio Ember (the personable, nice, and downright sexy mastermind behind Cerridwen’s Cauldron)’s stunning Fae Waystones placed at cardinal points round the statue. I wanted paths running toward the surround edge in all four directions.

The skybox surround is from Landscapes Unlimited, and aside from having to build an invisible floor underneath it, I am 100% satisfied with it, as I can change it to many different looks depending on the season of the year or whether or not I want to live on Mars. 😉

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A few more things have now been added….

A few more things have now been added in this photo, but importantly you can see Gwyneth’s whole outfit, so I can talk about the clothes! The dress and boots are both from Zenith, the Autumn Sweater with Skirt in Rose, and the Leather Boots with Lace Socks, also in Rose. You can get the boots at Uber. If you noticed the necklace and earrings, they’re from Empyrean Forge, the Levity necklace and earrings.

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Ohh, but that skin!

Ohh, but that skin! It’s a new Catwa applier from Pink FuelSabine, formerly available only as a Lelutka applier. This was just released yesterday, and yes, I was part of the yammering glom-mob that descended on the Pink Fuel Main Store to pick it up, both in my favourite shades (Porcelain and Crystal—you see Porcelain above) and in their yummy new shade Brulée, which is available at a special price for now. Pink Fuel has long been one of my favourite skin creators, up there with Lumae7 Deadly s{K}ins, and DeeTaleZ (though, yes, my heart will also belong to Curio if she comes back to us) as some of the most beautiful skins you can get in Second Life, in my opinion. Pink Fuel also distinguishes itself by offering a dizzying array of body styles, particularly suited to those of us on the Itty Bitty Titty Committee. These are the Lionsong eyes from Mesange. I’m wearing Mesange eyes almost exclusively these days because they’re available as Omega appliers and I simply can’t be arsed with correctly positioning dozens of different mesh eyes to suit whatever head I’m wearing. And seriously, I’m a bit of a perfectionist about these things. I even tell other people when they’re posing for me and wearing mesh eyes to fix that cross-eyed thing right now; I’ll help you; no, really, it’s important; I’ll wait.The ears are the Swallow High Definition Elf Ears, and Gwyneth, as almost always, is wearing the Maitreya Lara body. Behind her, you can see more of Cerridwen’s Cauldron‘s lovely plants, including the Challis Flower, which is just about my favourite thing ever at the moment, and some of Elicio‘s beautiful Fungal Undergrowth. You can pick up both these and the Fae Waystones referenced above at the Cerridwen’s Cauldron Main Store in world or on the SL Marketplace if you fancy shopping from your couch.

So, what follows are some fairly rough shots of the still-unfinished and in the very beginning stages of my new home in Awenia.

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First, an aerial view, so you can get your bearings.

First, an aerial view, so you can get your bearings.

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8f8’s Cottage Cairn and Windmill

The first two buildings I put down were 8f8‘s lovely Cottage Cairn and Windmill, both from the New Beginnings set, from a past Arcade Gacha. One of the best things about having a sim-sized place to decorate is getting to put out all these beautiful buildings I’ve acquired at this or that gacha event over the years.

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Then, I decided I wanted a little commercial district.

Then, I decided I wanted a little commercial district. So here we have from right to left Ex Machina‘s Chelsea, which reminds Gwyneth enough of London that she won’t have to visit too often, then Death Row Designs‘ The Joint coffeeshop, followed by The Magick Shoppe, also by Death Row Designs. These shops border what will become a park/village green of sorts, across which you’ll find some nice places to eat.

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Across the park.

Across the park, from left to right, there’s the lovely Hideki Bakery, next door to which is another Vintage Bakery by Dustbunny, though I’ll probably turn it into a pastry shop or a restaurant, and then there’s the whimsical Tea Shop from Tentacio. Then you have Tarte‘s Grinder’s Cafe, which might or might not stay where it is; I’m not sure.

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Just so you can have a sense of the space I’m allowing for the park.

Just so you can have a sense of the space I’m allowing for the park/village green, here’s a more zoomed-out shot where both shop rows are visible.

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Rez Platform Number One.

Here’s Rez Platform Number One, where you can see some tasty things that might or might not make it onto the finished build; and

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Rez Platform Number Two, plus buildings I’m holding out for consideration.

Rez Platform Number Two, plus buildings I’m holding out for consideration. And I have some amazing new ideas that just came into my head today!

All this is going to keep me busy on what promises to be a long and lonely New Year’s Eve, the first I’ve spent without Joe since New Year’s Eve 2003/04, which was the night we met.

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I guess now everybody knows I’m a tree-hugger!

On another note, The Guardians opens tomorrow, the first of January, 2017 (!), and there is much, much cool stuff to be had there.  BananaN has done a book gacha that I’m so so very fond of: you can see several pieces of it in the background of this photo. The tree I’m hugging is the Young Maple from The Little Branch, and I’m wearing the Fame Femme Amelli Sweater, which is turning out to be a real favourite for casual wear this season. The boots are the Gypsy Boots from Wicca’s Wardrobe, and the hair! Oh, yes, the hair!

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Amazing hair from Analog Dog (as if AD made anything other than amazing hair, right?)

This is amazing hair from Analog Dog, as if Queue Marlowe ever made anything other than amazing hair, right? It’s called Lei, and it’s the Gift of the Guardians that you’ll receive if you play Analog Dog‘s gacha fifteen times at The Guardians event. I should mention the necklace, now that you can see it: it’s Minimal‘s Camera Necklace, and I bought one for myself and two friends at The Project Se7en today. And the rings are from  Absolut Vendetta, the Hydra Rings for Vista Bento Hands. Yes, I now have Bento hands, and I’m so glad I got them! I’ll tell you more about them anon.

The Lei hairstyle is an obvious tribute to the gargantuan talent that was Carrie Fisher, and it seems a fitting note on which to end this, my last big blog post of 2016. I might shoot you a couple of teasers as it’s going to be a long night for me, but this is the wordiest I’ll get, I promise. Carrie Fisher was only 60 years old. That’s the same age my husband Joe was when he died on the 29th of January, 2016. Star Wars was the last film I saw with my father in the cinema before he died at the age of 46. I was twelve. When I took my primary-school-aged son to see it during the ramp up to the second trilogy of Star Wars films, it was all I could do not to weep through the film as I remembered sitting in the cinema with my dad: I would have been eleven.

Tonight, wherever you are, somebody is going to go down a list of the people who’ve died this year, and it’s a long one. That somebody might even be you. If you can, I want you to consider doing two things. One of them is for yourself. The other, selfishly, is for me. Remember that on the worst day of your life, someone else is having the best day of theirs. That one’s for you. No matter how bad a day you’re having, someone else is experiencing the greatest joy ever. Imagine that. Now here’s the one for me. When the somebody (who might be you) is going down that list of people who’ve left us this year, please, for me, whisper, or shout, or say, ‘James Joseph Raftery’. Let my beloved’s name be spoken on the same wind as all those other names, and let his bright, love-giving, life-saving spirit be woven into that song. Say it: ‘James Joseph Raftery’. He hung the moon. He lit the stars. He took my broken heart and put it back together, and even though my heart has been breaking every single day of this long, long year, it’ll never be as broken as it was before Joe, because Joe knew how to mend things. He hugged me and loved me and believed in me so hard he made me Real. ‘James Joseph Raftery’. Say his name for me.

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never build new homes without it!

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