Val, Chapter Two: Why Don’t You Ever Write Your Äiti?

Dear Mum,

I wanted to wait until at least two interesting things had happened so that I would not be writing you letters as short as text messages. That way you could not text me and say my letters were too short! Also, I wanted to have my flat as finished as possible before I wrote this first letter so you could have some pictures of where I am writing from. Then, in the next letter, I’ll send more pictures of the shop and pictures from around town. That way, you can get to know the town I’m living in.

The End!

So, I’ll kind of start from the end, because look! This is where I’m writing you from! I had the day off from the shop, and I’ve spent it putting this monstrosity together! Had to sweet-talk the landlord into opening the roof access panel so I could get the flatpack up here more easily: otherwise I’d have had to somehow hoist it out my window and up the ladder access. I mean, I could have done it obviously, but it would have been more difficult and I might have had to buy a stranger a pizza. Anyway, it all arrived yesterday, and after four hours of remembering enough school Swedish to curse IKEA in it, I have this very serviceable covered table. I added the string lights (and I’m slightly miffed they don’t call them fairy lights over here) myself.

Fun fact: Our elevation here in Myserie is 4,190 ft in weird American reckoning, which makes it 1,277 m. That is only 88 metres shorter than Ridnitšohkka! So you know what I had to do, right? I had to get a flat on what they call here the 7th floor because they don’t believe in the ground floor. I’ll measure it properly at some point, but if we assume that each living-space storey is roughly 3m and the commercial space storey is, say, 3.5m, I’m only 66.5m short of that summit when I’m in the flat, and up on the roof, you could subtract 3 more metres. No wonder I feel so dizzy all the time here: it’s not like I’m used to even hills where we live. I have more photographs from the roof, but I know what you want to see first, so I’ll show you the flat itself.

I will get better lights soon

I took this picture really early in the morning with my iPhone on a tripod using my Apple Watch. You can see that I used the flash: I hate doing that, but it was really dim in the room. I like being far enough up that I won’t need curtains, and it’s not like they have three months of round the clock daylight here, anyway, so I won’t need blackout blinds. I’ve only met one witch so far with a familiar who can fly, and he likes me: I taught him how to say Perkele.

Now you can see my little face

Look, I even moved the tripod closer so you can see my face: You always tell my can’t see my face in pictures. I promise I am getting enough to eat, even if mostly I am not cooking very much.

Now, here is my little kitchen!

I like my little kitchen: Thank you for the Moomin poster. He is keeping me company every morning when I make my first cup of coffee before I go to the shop for my second cup of coffee. And yes, that’s the Eiffel Tower stool from my bedroom at home. I took it apart and brought it with me because I wanted something to be familiar here. I’ve had it for my whole life, and it just makes a place feel like home, you know? I know there’s not enough art on the walls yet, but I like that picture of the Aurora, makes me think of the elevation here at least. And you can’t see it in this picture, but there’s also a photo looking onto Pirkkala from the water.

I have a bed!

You worried I would just sleep on a couch or something, but no, I got a proper bed and everything. It’s even on casters so I can turn it to face against the winter if I like. And a clock that doesn’t rely on scary technology, just electricity, see? I do listen, Äiti. I was going to put a rack on the wall to hang stuff, but somebody told me they charge you money if you put holes in the wall, so I didn’t do that and just went for those little containers there. I will get something bigger maybe in time. And look, there’s my Ukonvasara I made in uni. I’m glad we kept the print of it all this time. Maybe I will see about inking it differently and seeing about making some reproducible prints. There seem to be a lot of pagans here, though they are predictably mostly Wiccans. I wish First Nation culture had held on here a bit better, and maybe we will see it rise with some of the unmaskings lately made. I only hope that like so many other American risings it will not need to become contentious in order for sides to be heard and acknowledged and not erased.

So high up!

And now for the pictures you’re going to hate!

You know I have to do this part, mum! Like that time I went zip-lining in north Wales and sent you the video without telling you what I’d done? Yes, well—the best thing about living up here is that I can do this!

Now, don’t be afraid: you know we have excellent balance, mother.

Look, I’m smiling!

And here I’m even almost smiling! You always say I should smile more!

Hey—if you look down onto the street below me, you can see the coffee shop where I go for my second cup of the day. Too bad I didn’t catch the odd old guy who’s always wandering around there.

Of course I miss you.

Do I miss you? Of course I miss you. I miss everybody. I miss Tampere. I even mis Ula. I miss Iivo and the Kalevala shop and I will miss going to Lapland for Midwinter if I can’t make it back. And I will miss the ice castle and the winter market, too. My path, though. Remember? My path. It’ll lead me back to you one day, and I know that every time my path leads me back to you, there will be song and camaraderie and the sharing of all things good.

Love,
The youngest of yours,
Valoisa

Notes & Credits

Val is a role-play character created for Myserie City RP. While I started roleplaying in Second Life something like nine years ago, I haven’t been on a straight-up role-play sim in a few years, and I’m having a lovely time enjoying just immersing myself in role-play and working with a new and different character for the first time in a long time. All these photos were taken on-sim, and I’ll take more inside the city itself once Val gets her bearings and I have a few more regular places where she hangs out.

  • Body: Maitreya
  • Head: Lelutka Evolution: Fleur
  • Skin: Wyrd, Alva in T1
  • Eyebrows: Simple Bloom, LivSpring Neutral
  • Chin Dimple: Izzie’s, Chin Dimples
  • Ears: Lumae: Leevi Medium Ears
  • Tattoo: Nefekalum, Embellishment, Titanium
  • Piercings: All From Lelutka, Fleur Facial Piercings, except
  • Septum: Venge, Kelpie Nosering; and
  • Forehead Crescent: Punch, Trine
  • Tank Top: Shovelheads, Women’s Viking Tank
  • Trousers: Neve, Minnie Pant
  • Boots: Eudora 3D, Thar Boots
  • Covered Table (on roof): Chez Moi, Applewood Picnic Table
  • Couch: Fourth Wall, Saga Sofa
  • Coffee Table: Fourth Wall, Hala Coffee Table
  • Kitchen: Merak: Happy Kitchen
  • Eiffel Tower Stool: BackBone, Breakfast In Paris Stool
  • Bed: Bazar: Stockholm Bed
  • Cabinet: Bazar, Stockholm Bedroom Cabinets
  • Lamp, Clock, Stool: Bazaar, Stockholm Bedroom

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)

Waiting

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Gwyneth:

Patience is a virtue I’ve never had. So shopping at any time of the year with Nathaniel is a bit of a trial.

Shopping with him at Christmas is a nightmare. Don’t get me wrong: I love him deeply, but I have seen this man stare at two waistcoats for three quarters of an hour, trying to decide whether he really wanted piping or not.

Now, I hear the tradition in many families is that the wife does all the gift shopping and some gifts are just designated to be from Dad. I suspect this was true with my parents. Maybe I just still have hope that one day I’ll teach Nathaniel how to shop.

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So, here I stand in the Realm of the Looking Glass, waiting for my Consort.

So, here I stand in the Realm of the Looking Glass, waiting for my Consort. Luckily, I only shop in comfortable shoes; these are from Wicca’s Wardrobe, the Gypsy Boots.

Oh, and also, I don’t know how she does it, but on a fairly regular basis, Miss Allsunday Lemon, who’s the designer behind Wasabi Pills, has a special deal on one of the beautiful hairstyles she’s created. So I rushed down very early this morning to beat the crowds—this deal is only offered on select Fridays—and she fixed me up with the most delightful little set of pigtails! I love how designers in different Realms give their hairstyles and clothing such interesting names: I think Trixie suits this one. Anyway, it’ll be on offer only for today, December 23, 2016, so if you like it, run down to the Wasabi Pills Main Store and snap it up!

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It’s starting to get a bit chilly.

It starting to get a bit chilly. I’m all wrapped up in the outfit I got at The Winter Trend, made by Neve (Deedee leggings and Pep top), but I can still feel the wind picking up. Luckily, the Looking Glass Realm is very accepting of beings like myself; I’m sure most of the denizens here are different or special or perhaps not quite human. I’ve been waiting so long I’m tempted to ironically go into the Fortuneteller’s shop just behind me and ask the question, “Will my beloved ever show up to finish the last of the holiday shopping?” That might be seen in retrospect as cruel. Would be funny, though. I did say we’d meet at the lamppost outside Cole’s Corner; I really want to talk to ColeMarie Soleil about creating some particle magic (she is a magician with that stuff, I tell you!) so that I can appear at our Winter Ball crowned with stars and iridescent snowflakes. If anyone can teach me that spell, it’ll be ColeMarie.

Great Lady of the Woods, where is he? Night’s falling here, and I don’t know if shops stay open late. I guess I’ll just have to go on without him, and of course this means we’ll have a “discussion” later about whether or not I am meant to do all the shopping for the pickiest, most persnickety, peskiest, most perfect man I’ve ever known. Yeah; it’s true. I love him despite this. But it might mean I stop at Cole’s Corner first and buy something nice for myself. After all, it’s Yule!

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Simone 2.0 Bento Head (NEW at the Lelutka Main Store!)
Hair: Wasabi Pills, Trixie (Available ONLY FOR TODAY, for Fifty Linden Fridays, at the Wasabi Pills Main Store!)
Ears: Swallow, Elf Ears High Definition
Eyes: Mesange, Don’t Speak Eyes (Omega eye appliers)
Skin: Lumae, Yulia (only for Lelutka heads) (Available NOW at the Lumae Main Store!)
Hands: Vista, Vista Bento Prohands
Jumper (Sweater, Americans!): Neve, Pep (Neutral) (Available NOW at  Winter Trend 2016!)
Leggings: Neve, DeeDee (neutral) (Available NOW at  Winter Trend 2016!)
Boots: Wicca’s Wardrobe, Gypsy Boots

Location: The Looking Glass, by Sharni Azalee.

 

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never make Gwyneth stand around waiting for Nathaniel to show up for Christmas shopping without it!

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