Simantics: Sweet Garbage

Jonah thinks this birthday cake is garbage.

Ah, Trick-or-Treating, a Sims winter tradition.

[Randomly, I actually managed to do some trick-or-treating with the Riffins, and the stupid code sends your actives to houses with nobody home. And then they just wait there forever for someone to answer the door. I mean seriously? I wonder how hard that would be to fix.]a

Jonah ponders the inevitable passage of time and wonders why he feels so cold. And what is this grungy half-rendered powder on the ground anyway?

No no NO. Absolutely NOT. Get away from each other.

Subterranean pedestrian is hungry.

The magic disappearing stroller dumped Fenton into the snow. He didn’t like it.

Oh and here’s a non-funny. When Vickie’s dog Connery (originally Abby’s — I think pet lifespans are a bit too long by default) was at the end of his lifespan, I decided I couldn’t bear to give up his genes. So I pollinated a female dog in an inactive household.

This cutie is the result.

7.44 One last time

Learning to ride was filled with embarrassing moments. Fortunately Neptune was the only one to witness most of them, and he kept his secrets.

Even though Jonah knew next to nothing about horses when he adopted Neptune, he was devoted from the start. Neptune basked in Jonah’s awkward but earnest attention, and in return he treated Jonah gently.

Soon, Jonah was riding with confidence, albeit slowly.

His first winter on land was also an awkward adjustment. The cold did not hit as hard in the open sea. When the beach was covered in inches of snow, Jonah’s regular swims in the sea just weren’t practical.

A merman isn’t intended to be away from the sea for very long. After a while, his skin felt dry and chafed, and he was dragged down by fatigue.

Frustrated, he tried to satisfy himself with tap water in a tiny landwalker bathtub.

It wasn’t awful. It would get old after a while, but it was only for the coldest part of winter.

What he lost in space to swim, he gained in temperature control. Soaking in hot water turned out to be a lot more fun than he’d expected.

They boys were active and cute and exhausting. They only stopped moving when they were asleep.

This pregnancy seemed much more awkward and uncomfortable than the last two, even with Jonah’s constant attention.

To occupy her mind as she got bigger and more immobile, Vickie experimented with some kelp and fish recipes that were more appropriate to Jonah’s palate.

Jonah loved seaweed salad and miso soup, but Vickie didn’t enjoy the cooking nearly as much as she’d hoped. If he wanted more, he’d have to learn to cook himself.

[Read: Vickie’s cooking ability got glitched. She was doing each animation in the cooking process about a dozen times each, and it would take her most of a day to finish cooking something. I have no idea, but it doesn’t affect anybody else, so that’s the end of her cooking hobby.]

With a lot of the performances spaces outdoors, Winston had fewer gigs. He spent the extra time trying out winter sports with Emilie.

She had one heck of a throwing arm.

They challenged each other to try out snowboarding.

Winston’s performance was less than stellar.

Jonah was able to cajole Vickie outside for some more modest winter fun.

He never let her forget how lovely and desirable he found her.

Vickie appreciated Jonah in more ways than one. There was no question she’d landed an attractive partner. But even physical contact was starting to feel gross. She was ready for this baby to come out.

Then at last labor hit.

Jonah proudly drove her to the hospital this time.

Winston looked after the boys while they were gone. Caspian and Jordan were having their last night in the nursery. They would shortly be moving into a new room with bigger boy beds.

Labor was long and exhausting, and by the end it was no surprise that there were two! Victoria had twins — Ross (front) and Serena (rear).

“This is it,” Victoria said as she laid little Ross in the crib that used to be Caspian’s. “Assuming nothing weird happens… this is the endpin to our family.”

“Four kids is a good family,” Jonah said, gazing tenderly into Serena’s sleeping face.

Then they fell into bed to get what sleep they could before the first kid woke up.

7.43 Like the wind

In his quest to learn all things landwalker, Jonah decided to take driving lessons. When he was ready to drive on his own, he bought a classic car and spent evenings driving around town.

He insisted on driving with the top down, even as it snowed.

Then he would come home shivering, unbundle himself from his winter wraps, and read to Caspian.

The attention was a good thing for Caspian. When he didn’t get enough of it, he found new ways to make trouble.

Jordan’s birthday rolled around.

The household had another little merman.

Caspian now had a playmate. In fact, he might have met his match. He and Travis were immediately joined at the hip.

They did everything together, and not just because they were stuck in the same nursery. They were both expressive kids who couldn’t get enough attention. Now there was always someone around with attention to give.

(Complete with photobomb by diver gnome…)

The Sample household was now essentially all chaos all the time.

The snowdrifts didn’t slow down Winston’s performance schedule. With all the fire and exercise, he didn’t even feel the cold.

He gave himself enough time to shower after a top-rated tent-raiser at the Duke of Bows before he met Emilie for dinner and a movie.

He hadn’t been the luckiest in love, and now that things seemed to be going so well, he didn’t want to give Emilie a chance to slip away.

Uncle Chaim found them outside the theater. “Looking good, my boy!” he called out. “I think she’s a keeper!” Winston tried not to cringe. Emilie laughed.

“If it isn’t my baby cousin,” came a voice from across the plaza.

“Gamora?” Winston said. “Is this a family reunion or something?”

“He’s my uncle too, you know,” Gamora said. “Should I check with you next time we want to meet for coffee?”

“Love you too, cuz,” Winston said.

“Ha ha,” Gamora replied. “Check out my kid. He’s walking and talking and photosynthesizing these days.”

“I like dirt,” Fenton announced and dissolved into giggles.

“That’s basically potty humor for plantsims,” Gamora explained. “You get used to it.”

Winston looked sheepishly at Emilie. “My family is all like this,” he said.

Emilie winked at him. “I already figured that out, she said.”

Jonah Waves Sample should have had everything he wanted in life, but he was starting to feel like he was missing something important.

When his mind wandered, wild horses galloped through his fantasies. They were the most captivating creatures he’d ever seen.

He’d spent enough time around the herd that some of the horses would let him approach them. That was gratifying, but he wanted more.

It hadn’t even occurred to him that there were domesticated horses too. When he discovered Avalon’s equestrian center, the last piece of his life fell into place.

He named his new equine friend Neptune. The stallion was full of energy and motion. It took Jonah’s breath away.

But Neptune would stand still for Jonah to awkwardly pull himself into the saddle.

There. Jonah had completed the first step. That wasn’t too bad.

Then Neptune started to run.

I really wanted our wild spirited, equestrian merman to tame a wild horse and learn to ride with it, but I didn’t realize that you can’t tame a wild horse until you already have a riding skill at Level 5. Jonah spent a lot of time befriending the horses in the wild herd before I discovered this. In retrospect, I probably should have just rolled with it and used Mastercontroller to add the horse to the household. That’s not the way way I rolled though, and Neptune is a fine companion.

I think there should be a mod to remove the riding skill requirement, honestly. It would make civilization-building challenges work better. That could be a really easy mod or a stupidly hard one.

Simantics: Baby Cakes

Xia has a panic attack when Vickie goes into labor.

Which Vickie finds hilarious, in between contractions.

Ah, we’ve reached them time in this legacy for plenty of stroller yoga.

And completely age-inappropriate wishes.

Winston has very mixed feelings about Connery’s death.

Jonah catches fire in the haunted house at the Fall Festival?

Um, Susie, I know you get special privileges for being the legacy foundress, but this is a little too close and personal.

Judith wants Forest to know better than to try anything. She knows martial arts.

Edmund, on the other hand, is just really excited that his famous Emperor of Evil family member decided to come visit.

(Forest didn’t have the Emperor glow at this party. He and his lover-rival Sean Flynn have been trading the title back and forth for generations, so I guess he’s on the off-cycle at the moment.)

A bit of townie gossip.

This was a pretty disturbing notification to receive about Joy leaving Edmund and moving back in with her parents…

It didn’t take her too long to move on with my Severus Snape simalike….

Which led to the expected result.

Miguel here is a Brooding Hopeless Romantic. So… kind of a daddy’s boy.

Roderick also moved on to a serious relationship after his rebound with… his new girlfriend’s mother. That’s not creepy at all, guys.


7.42 Chill

The next few days were difficult. Vickie and her brothers had lost both their parents now. Everywhere she looked, Vickie saw her mom.

Even cooking was difficult. Especially cooking.

Winston’s sense of loss hit him in the moments he was least prepared for it.

Fortunately he never hurt himself badly.

They took comfort in their family.

Caspian was a growing toddler filled with laughter.

He was always out to be the center of attention, and if he wasn’t, he figured out how to get there.

And then there was another one on the way. Vickie had a lot more cravings with this pregnancy than the last one. Ice cream and pickles at midnight it was.

Jonah couldn’t stop looking at her with those adoring eyes. Vickie had never seen anyone so happy to be a father.

Vickie was checking the mail when she realized it was time again.

This time, she was feeling a bit more fae than usual, so she flew herself to the hospital and told Jonah to catch up with her there. Winston stayed kept an eye on Caspian.

They brought home their second son, Travis Sample.

The parenting routine began again, this time in stereo.




On Snowflake day, they decided to have a gift exchange. Vickie, Jonah, and Winston sent out a long list of invitations, and most friends and family attended.

With an extra surprise who wasn’t on anyone’s invitation list.

In fact, most people didn’t recognize him or guess why he was there. Gamora’s face lit up when she saw him, though. “Uncle Forest! How are the creatures of the night these days?”

Maya Ocean dropped in, as well as Uncle Chaim and his son Hans.

Edmund showed up with a twinkle in his eye. Vickie drew him aside and applied some sisterly pressure, and he admitted that he’d met someone. “It’s just been two dates,” he said. “It might not be anything. Don’t spread any gossip yet.”

“My lips are sealed,” Vickie said. “But you should see your face! Those must have been two great dates.”

“She’s captivating,” Edmund said. “I look forward to introducing her to you…. assuming things continue apace.”

And then there was Joyelle Waves. She came, as inappropriately dressed as ever, and just as oblivious to the cold.

But the chill in the looks she exchanged with Jonah was unmistakable. Reconciliation was clearly not going well.

Everyone gathered around the gift pile, talking and squealing over their gifts.

Caspian turned up the charm to pull attention back to him.

Travis slept in his baby swing.

Joyelle and Gamora struck up an unexpected friendship.

Unfortunately, it mostly seemed to be built around complaining about humans in voices loud enough that everyone could hear.

“Are you all right?” Vickie asked Jonah.

“I’m managing,” he said, but the ache in his heart was clear on his face.

To make things even more tense, Forest waved Jonah over after he’d opened his gift. He wanted to discuss the, um, lavish financial circumstances of the Sample family, and what a bad idea it would be for a penniless interloper to try to get a piece of that wealth by romancing an heiress. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Jonah had seen better parties. He was ready to send everyone home.

When the party was finally over, Emilie didn’t go home at all. She and Winston slipped up to the attic rec room with their own plans for the evening.

Jonah escorted his mother to the beach behind the house. He returned after Vickie had said the rest of the goodbyes. His expression was bleak.

“What happened?” Vickie asked. “What did she do?”

Jonah looked past her and stared out at the snow swirling beyond the window. “My mother and had a long talk,” he said. “She won’t be attending any more gatherings. I can consider myself in dispersal from my pod. She is not going to accept my choice of life on land.”

“Oh Jonah,” Vickie breathed. “You didn’t have to do this. I don’t know why you–”

Jonah cut her off with a wave of his hand. “I don’t regret a moment. I want to be here. It was my mother’s choice whether to accept me, and she did not. I’m sad she made that decision, but I don’t want to change how I live… or who I live it with.”

“Can you really be happy? With me? Away from the sea?”

Jonah turned back to face her, and this time his eyes were smiling. “I’m so far from the sea I can watch the surf from our bedroom window,” he said. “And as for you–” He pulled her close and kissed her, then kissed again more hungrily. And for a while there was nothing more to say.

I can’t find the screenshots, but Jonah and Joyelle had a nasty argument in front of the house after this party. I’m grumpy that the screenshots are missing.

Stupid snowfall inside the house. I try to mitigate it, but it’s everywhere.

This is not my most inspired post, but it moves time along and introduces their second kid. It was pretty entertaining to see Forest crash the Snowflake Day party.

Simantics: Medieval edition

There’s just too much goofiness not to record a few things.

With the Samples, I like to record each child’s first successful word. This was Alair’s, though, and I for this game I had no idea what to do with it.

This party in the outhouse is one of the most Sims moments in this game so far. And here we are talking about juicing again. (Or probably soda, but solo cups are pretty strong associated with juiced-up college hijinx in this game….)

This here is teaching your child to walk with The Force.

Townie fashion.

I think I fixed the naked top being enabled for random on women, but apparently the naked bottoms are still a problem.

And then there was this bit of townie drama while Jacqueline was at the market. The chick who was buying from the harvest stand kept stopping to throw these furious idles. I thought at first maybe she had a low motive.

Then I realized she was reacting to something in particular.

A pair of sims were standing on the edge of the market engaged in some pretty seriously flirting. You can see how he’s dressed completely inappropriately for the weather just so that he can show off his bulging muscles.

So, I checked with Mastercontroller — yup, the flirting dude was angry lady’s husband.

So sorry, poor townie lady. Divorce isn’t really a thing here in fake medieval England.

But you might be able to ditch him by leaving town?


Echo in Time: Winter 1307-1309 Part 3

Ruby was true to her word. She returned with Alair and Emma before midday the next day.

Nash grabbed Alair and held him so tightly that he squeaked in surprise.

Jacqueline took the baby upstairs to her cradle. “So you’re the little Emmaline Howland?” she said. “I think we’ll get along fine. At least you’re cute.”

Against all odds, this arrangement looked like it might work out after all.

Jacqueline was not exactly a good cook, but she was determined.

Some of the harvest was lost to the frost, but the cow was still milking and the hens were laying. They drank plenty of milk and ate a lot of eggs. At least they were easy to prepare.

Nash’s tension began to ease. For the first time in almost a year, he began to sleep deeply and restfully.

In many ways, Jacqueline was the opposite of Emmaline. She was impulsive, playful, and bold. Nothing seemed to intimidate her.

She was always doing something unexpected to make Nash laugh or just stop to appreciate the world.

She was also passionate.

She and Alair connected almost immediately.

“This kid is going to grow up to be a minstrel, mark my words,” she told Nash. “Just listen to what he can do already!” Nash couldn’t make any sense of the noise Alair was making, but he enjoyed the fact that it made both them them happy.

When Alair made the worst racket, Jacqueline seemed the most proud of him.

Nash found other ways to bond with his son. Winter had set in, and with Jacqueline’s help running the farm, he suddenly had time for both his children. He felt like he was getting to know Alair for the first time.

Alair sometimes had more attention than his little body could handle.

With another adult to handle the children, Nash was free to take extended trips away from the house. He jumped at the chance to add some fresh meat to their food supply.

Pickings were thin, but when he managed to bring down a deer, the venison fed them days.

Sometimes he just took a moment to enjoy the beauty of the snow-cover land around him.

Though food was tight in general, they did manage enough of a surplus in eggs that it was worth a couple of trips to the market. Jacqueline made those journeys to take some time away from the house and see some other people. Later in the season, the cow was generous enough that the could also sell some soft cheese.

Emma grew into a lovely toddler.

Nash could see Emmaline in her face, and he was instantly enchanted by her.

She wasn’t interested in sound the way Alair was, but she could spend hours fitting blocks and shapes together.

Then Jacqueline learned that she was expecting. “I’ve always been the favorite aunt,” she said. “Now I’m a step-mother. I guess it’s time to go in all the way.”

Nash built a small extension onto the home for the growing family.

Jacqueline didn’t have a wonderful time with pregnancy. As her belly grew, she grew snappish at Nash and repulsed when he touched her.

Nash was too nervous about her and the coming child to take it very personally. He took to spending more time out of the house. Cutting firewood was a good place to take out his frustration.

When he was home, Jacqueline often spent afternoons outside playing her lute. She didn’t say it directly, but she clearly had her own misgivings about impending motherhood.

As the long winter at last began to peek into spring, she gave birth to a son, who she named Lafe. Childbirth was incredibly smooth, and she felt better almost immediately.

Soon she was back to her playful self again.

Lafe looked to be the spitting image of his mother. Nash didn’t realize just how tightly his heart had been squeezed with worry until he saw both mother and baby healthy and happy.

Still, he felt no longing for more children. He only wished that the Watcher would let him keep the family he had.

And we’re finally done with the winter! Woo!

Emmaline has been enjoying her afterlife.

She also seems to approve of Nash and his new wife.


Echo in Time: Winter 1307-1309 Part 2

[This STILL doesn’t get us through the winter, so there will be a part 3. This whole idea of writing one post per season may not float. I don’t expect every season to be this eventful, though.]

As snow piled deeper outside the Howland house, Nash wrapped his children in thick blankets against the cold. Food was running thin, and so was firewood. Nash’s illness faded after the last chance at harvest was past. The cow was still giving milk, and the chickens still laid a few eggs huddled up in their henhouse, but it wouldn’t be enough. Nash had a decision to make, and it broke his heart.

He bundled up the children and walked them into Mahlsberg, trying to keep them warm. Ruby and Gerbald, to their credit, gave him no trouble when he asked if Alair and Emma could stay with them for a few days while he looked for work in Praaven City. It was understood that he need not come back for them, but nobody said that.

Thus found himself alone inside of the walls of the city after dark, walking through drifts of snow and thinking. The last seven years of his wife were wiped away. His family was gone. He couldn’t keep the farm alone, and he wasn’t sure he even wanted to try. He had rebuilt the place expecting to purge it of dark memories, and instead it had only gathered more. He wasn’t sure he ever wanted to return. Perhaps the place was cursed. Perhaps the Watcher considered it too tainted by blasphemy.

He could return to the workhouse. It wasn’t a joyful life, but they didn’t ask questions. He would have food and a bed, and he wouldn’t need to think for a while. It had worked for him as an orphaned teenager. It was familiar.

“You filthy whore!” A man’s shout cut through his attention. Around the corner, he saw a man and a woman in the middle of an argument.

“You are not going to hit me, Dagon,” the woman shouted back.

“Like hell I won’t! You deserve worse!”

“You want to be that kind of man? I thought you were better than that.” Then she dropped her voice and said, “It didn’t have to end like this.”

Her voice…. what was it about her voice?

Nash’s numbed mind was working again, and he was finally moving. He was not going to stand back while a woman was abused. He threw himself between them. “What in Watcher’s name are you doing?” he demanded.

“We’re fine,” the man, Dagon, growled. “This is none of your business.”

Nash turned on him. “Are you kidding me? You’re threatening this woman out in the middle of the street! This is everyone’s business!”

“You don’t know what she did!” Dagon shrieked.

“I don’t care what she did!” Nash said.

“Mess with me and I’ll make you regret it!” Dagon shouted.

“You want to try me?” Nash said.

“Dagon, go home,” the woman said.

Dagon looked up the hill at her, then back to Nash. Rage distorted his face… but also pain. He started to move, and Nash tensed for a fight.

Dagon only shook his fist. “You’re a whore, Jackie. You can dress yourself up nice, but you’ll always be a whore. You disgust me.” Then he turned and stalked away. Nash let out his breath.

“Hey,” she said. “I’m sorry you had to see that.”

Nash turned to look at her then, and suddenly his knees felt weak. “…Jacqueline?”

She frowned staring at him. “Nashie? Can that be you?”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Nash said. “I heard you’d gone someplace far from here.”

“I did,” she said. “Then I came back. Where are you living these days? I’m not going home, or not to that home anyway, and you and I need to have a long talk.”

“It’s out of town,” Nash stammered. “Actually, it’s the old Howland farm.”

“You went back there?” she asked with wide eyes.

“I fixed it up,” he said. “For my wife.”

“Oh,” Jacqueline said, nodding. “I bet she wouldn’t like to see some girl from your past turn up on her doorstep.”

Nash shook his head. “She’s gone,” he said, feeling his chest grow tight again. “Things didn’t… turn out like I planned.”

Jackie put her hands on her hips. “All right then. I have time. Show me what you did with the place.”

“It’s a long walk from here in the cold and snow,” Nash said.

Jacqueline shrugged. “It turns out I have plenty of time, and my plans canceled. Also, I have nowhere to stay at the moment, so unless you want to pay for an inn, your place is what we have.”

So he led her back to the farm. The snow was finished for the moment. The sky was clear, and the wind was low. Jacqueline told him her story in broad strokes — not long after the Howland fire, she joined up with a troupe of traveling minstrels to see the world. And she had seen some fascinating places, but the work was seasonal, and winter wasn’t the season. She and Dagon had been paramours for a while, but he’d gotten very possessive in recent months, and well, “We’d never had any expectation of being faithful,” she said, “And he certainly wasn’t.”

Nash listened in silence and grunted his sympathy. Then he let her draw out his story in bits and pieces until at last they were back at the farm house.

Jacqueline looked around appraisingly. “You built it back better,” she said. “I see that there’s only one bed, and I’m exhausted. I hope you don’t plan to be weird about it.

Nash was too exhausted himself to make any protest.

In the morning, they continued to talk over sandwiches.

“So, you have two small children and a farm to tend and no wife,” Jacqueline said. “Those are hard times.”

Nash just chewed and glared.

“I think I could be a help with this problem. Do you want my help?”

Nash dropped his sandwich back onto his plate and stared at her. “What exactly do you have in mind?”

“I grew up on a farm, Nashie, same as you. I know my way around cows and crops. I even like kids. You need a woman to run this place with you, and I happen to be one.”

Nash was dumbfounded. “Why would you do that?” he asked.

“Because I like you, Nashie, and you deserve better,” she said. “I never forgot all those plans that we made before everything went wrong.”

“I– don’t know what to say,” Nash said. And he didn’t say anything more as they gathered up the dishes.

“Think about it,” Jacqueline said. “And think about those babies. You sound like a great father. You should be taking care of them. I want to make that happen.”

She drew close then and caressed his cheek. “Do you remember all the hours under the apple trees, making plans? I remember how you looked at me then.” Nash looked into her eyes, and for a moment he was back there. It had been such a happy time, a world away — a time filled with all kinds of promise. Nothing had turned out the way they planned. It had been months before he could look for her after the fire, and by then she had already left.

She leaned in to kiss him, and that was enough to break the spell. He jerked back. “Jackie, I–”

“Oh,” Jacqueline said. “No is an acceptable answer. I just thought, well.”

“This is all so fast,” Nash said. “You can’t just move in here. I have to… I mean Emmaline was… I couldn’t be like you and Dagon. I need to stay right with the Watcher.”

Jacqueline let out a surprised bark of laughter. “Nash Howland found religion? I didn’t see that coming.”

Nash looked at the floor. “You wouldn’t have,” he said.

She cocked her head and gave him a long look. “So, let me get this straight. You want me stay, but only if we get married. Is that right?”

Nash looked at her helplessly, a dozen feelings tangled in his head. He nodded.

“All right then,” she said. “I guess we’ll have to get married.”

Then before Nash could really believe it was happening, it was over.

Jacqueline drew the line at a church wedding. They were married on the farm, on a hill overlooking Praaven City in the distance.

Ruby, Gerbald, and their eldest son attended, along with a minstrel friend of Jacqueline’s and, of course, Nash’s old friend Boggs.

As he slipped the ring on Jacqueline’s finger, hope swelled in Nash’s chest like pain. Those old teenager feelings came back, dusty and confused, the longer he spent time with Jackie. But neither of them were the same person they’d been back then. Was this the right decision?

He could only hope so.

After the ceremony, guests gathered in the house where it was warm to congratulate the new couple, drink mulled cider, and laugh.

“I will bring the children back in the morning” Ruby promised. “I assume you want a night to yourselves.”

“Of course we do,” Jacqueline said before Nash could respond. “You’ve been so kind. Thank you.”

Ruby’s disapproving scowl softened. “I wish you both the best,” she said.

At last, Jacqueline herded family and friends out of the house and waved them goodbye. She turned on Nash. “So are we good in the eyes of your Watcher now?” she demanded.

“Yes?” Nash said hesitantly.

She grabbed his arm and pulled him into a kiss.

“If you’ve done your duty, then let’s get to the good part,” she said.

And they did.

Jacqueline was the girlfriend that NRaas stuck Nash with while he was in the middle of courting Emmaline, because of course it did. He was definitely single when they started courting, but not when he joined the household. I had him send her a breakup text before he proposed to Emmaline, but their relationship stayed incredibly high.

I’d been scouting for single women Nash had chemistry with, or even some he didn’t, but NRaas had been thorough. I’d just concluded that I was going to have to break up a couple in order for Nash to have a shot at remarrying when he took an opportunity to deliver fish to a townie and there she was in that alarming argument with her romantic interest. Lo-and-behold, she was still single (if only technically — she’d clearly been having a good time). Their relationship and attraction scores were very high.

Jacqueline is almost Emmaline’s opposite — Brave, Lucky, Absent Minded, Virtuoso, and something else I can’t remember. I’ve decided that her health/death rolls will get a bonus due to the Lucky trait.

In conclusion, I offer a few wardrobe malfunctions:



The problem with loading up with cc is that some folks are going to screw it up. I’m still rooting out the bad stuff.

7.41 Mothers

The air turned colder, and Autumn eased into Winter.

Winston’s crowds at outdoor venues started to get thinner as it got colder. He’d performed in the snow before. He didn’t feel the chill when he was moving and playing with fire. But the park stage was probably not going to be the best way to draw an audience for a while.

He spent a lot of his personal time on dates with Emilie.

Andria decided to write her memoirs and began to fill spiral-bound notebooks cover-to-cover with pencil scratches. “Don’t tell me to put it on the computer,” she snapped when VIckie suggested just that. “I can’t stand computers. They make everything feel artificial. I guess they call it ‘virtual’ these days.”

Vickie didn’t argue with her.

On the other side of the tech divide, Jonah had just discovered computer video games and would disappear for hours.

They found other ways to have fun too.

That fun had the logical outcome. Vickie was delighted to be expecting another child.

So was Andria. She knew she was living on borrowed time. Every moment she spent with her family, especially her grandchildren, was a blessing.

When Caspian’s birthday rolled around, Vickie decided it was high time for a party. “I’ll invite the entire family, and anyone who can’t come losing the right to complain that I left them out,” she declared.

Jonah looked pensive.

Vickie, who had gotten a lot better at noticing everything he said without words, noticed immediately. “What’s wrong?”

“The Waves pod will be headed back in our direction toward our winter fishing grounds,” he said slowly. “I would like to invite my mother to this party. She hasn’t met her grandson.”

Vickie blinked. “I thought you said your clan disowned you… because of me,” she finished more quietly.

Jonah stared at his hands, “It wasn’t that simple,” he said. “I can’t be a part of the pod anymore, but if I could persuade her to visit, she might want to continue associating with us.” He sighed. “I would like to try.”

Vickie hugged him. “I still don’t understand why you were willing to give all that up to be with me,” she said. “I think she’s crazy to give you up completely. I support you. Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”

Jonah kissed her instead. He was a merman of few words.

For Andria, the best part of any party was baking the cake.

Snow was falling when the time of the party rolled around. Vickie stood at the door to say hello to Edmund, Gamora and Emmett, Judith and Mason.

Last to arrive was a woman Vickie didn’t recognize but knew without asking.

“Um, you must be Joyelle,” Vickie stammered. She had an ageless face, a far-away look in her eye, and was wearing a completely inappropriate, gauzey dress in the middle of the snow. She didn’t even seem to be cold.

Joyelle of Waves rewarded Vickie with a piercing look. She nodded slowly.

“Jonah’s getting the baby up from his nap…” Vickie trailed off.

Joyelle looked past her and walked by.

Jonah brought Caspian downstairs, and it was time for the big moment.

Caspian grew into a little merman who looked a lot like his father.

But with Grandma Andria’s eyes.

She couldn’t have been more delighted.

Andria served up the cake. Jonah and Joyelle exchanged glances that Vickie couldn’t read, but they didn’t say much to each other. Vickie sat down to spend some time with Judith, which was a lot more comfortable.

Caspian, on the other hand, pondered how to pull the carving knives down off the counter.

“I have to ask,” Judith said. “You have always been such a free spirit. What do you think of motherhood? Doesn’t it tie you down?”

“I was afraid it would,” Vickie admitted. “But I had to try. It’s been crazy but wonderful. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And I guess I’m doing it again!” She looked down at her belly, which was barely showing her new pregnancy.

“Another baby already!” Judith said. “You didn’t waste any time!”

“I’m not getting any younger,” Vickie said. “I guess I thought it was now or never. Have you and Mason thought about kids at all?”

“We’re…. talking about it,” Judith said. “I think want to, but Mason isn’t so sure. He has such a disruptive job, you know. Would we really be able to raise a family with him working nights and disappearing at odd hours?”

Judith had made it clear that Vickie shouldn’t ask too much about what Mason did for a living, so she didn’t go there. “You always have me to help!” she said instead. “I don’t want to push you into anything, but wouldn’t it be amazing if we were moms with small kids together?”

[Mason James is in the Criminal career, but I realize that I don’t know what Judith does or if she has a job.]

After cake, Jonah started cleaning up, and Joyelle helped him. Vickie called the rest of the guests to come play with Caspian, who had crawled into the kitchen and was trying to pull the grating off the dishwasher. This kid was going to be a handful.

Vickie could hear her husband and mother-in-law speaking in low, singsong voices. She didn’t think it was in Simlish.

After a while, Caspian started throwing a tantrum, and Vickie bundled the overstimulated toddler upstairs to rock for a while in the rocking chair to try to calm him down. Jonah said goodbye to the guests.

“Did it go all right with your mom?” Vickie asked anxiously when he joined her upstairs.

“I… don’t know,” Jonah said. “She was interested in learning more about her grandson. She wants to know what my plans are for his ocean education. We can lose our tails, you know, if we don’t spend enough time in the sea.”

“I didn’t know!” Vickie said. “You haven’t been swimming since Caspian was born. Are you sure–?”

He took her hand. “I know my own body,” he said. “You don’t need to worry.”

Vickie would have said more, but downstairs something more important was happening.

When Grim came for Andria a second time, she didn’t have a flower for him. It seemed almost disappointed.

“Not now!” Andria begged. “I have another grandbaby on the way!”

“I granted you one favor,” Grim said in its deep, grating voice. “Most souls don’t get any. Don’t push your luck.”

Then they departed for the Netherworld together.

Vickie knew she should be grateful for the extra time she had with her mother, but it wasn’t enough. No time could ever be enough.

Not a lot of commentary here. There’s going to be baby and toddler spam for a while.

Joyelle was the original mermaid generated for the dive lots I created on this world. Since she was going to be donating genes to the legacy, though, I gave her a new face.

Echo in Time: Winter 1307-1309 Part 1

[Note: My intent was to tell each season, which spans three years, as its own post. But SO MUCH happened this winter that I decided to break it out into two parts.]

The first snow of the season began to fall outside the the Howland home. The sudden cold suited Nash Howland. He felt the chill in his heart.

Emmaline Weaver Howland was dead. Her life had been snatched away after only a few years of precious happiness.

She left behind a a newborn baby girl with Nash’s dark eyes and curling wisps of her own strawberry hair.

Nash laid his baby girl gently in the the cradle he’d lined with fresh straw. She cooed at him, and his heart broke all over again.

He could barely breathe. What would happen to them now?

He got word to Emmaline’s kin as quickly has he could, which was painfully slow. The newborn babe now had no mother to nurse, and Nash had to focus on getting cow’s milk into her, lest he lose them both. He flagged down a messenger going into town and paid the lad to deliver the message.

Ruby and Gerbald dropped everything as soon as they heard. They left their two young sons with neighbors and arrived laden with enough food to last Nash for weeks. The three of them put the children to bed and managed the dark task of burying Emmaline. Afterward, Nash could only sit at the table and stare straight ahead.

Ruby gave her husband an unreadable look. “Our home can hold two more, can’t it?” she said.

Gerbald’s brows knit. “Yes, but I don’t see–”

“Nash should leave the children with us,” Ruby said.

“You want me to abandon my children?” Nash asked.

“I know you’re grieving,” Ruby said. “But you have to think about this. You can’t possibly run this farm alone while raising a toddler and an infant. Your land is too far from town for us to be able to offer the kind of assistance you need. Your life is your own, but please think of your children.”

“I am not going to abandon my family,” Nash said.

Gerbald took a deep breath and looked at Nash with the eyes of someone who desperately wanted to be anywhere but here. “They are welcome with us, if you think it is best,” he said.

Nash just glowered down at his plate.

“Would you set your stubborn pride aside for just a moment?” Ruby demanded. “If you stay here with the children, the babe won’t make it through the winter.”

Nash stood up abruptly. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for Emmaline,” he growled. “But I can care for my own family, and I will.”

Ruby jumped to her feet and glared at him. “Emmaline chose you, and I will never understand why,” she said. “We loved her, and we love her children because they are hers. We can’t make you think. We can only hope you come to your senses while the children still have a chance.”

She swept out of the house.

Gerbald looked at Nash with sad eyes. “I’m sorry,” he said. He looked like he wanted to say more, but instead he just followed his wife out the door.

To her credit, Ruby did arrange for a town girl to watch the children during the funeral.

[Note: The babysitter did that thing that babysitters do — stood at the entrance of the room and did absolutely nothing the entire time.]

Nash arrived early to spend some time in the church alone.

His footsteps echoed on the stone as he walked past the pews to stare up at the towering altar of the Watcher.

Nash had never believed. He hadn’t believed even before the fire that had killed his family and left him alone as an orphan teenager in a workhouse, but that certainly sealed his skepticism. He’d taken pleasure out of making others uncomfortable with his irreverence.

Emmaline had been sure he would bring the Watcher’s wrath down on their family. Now she was dead. The Watcher had made his point.

He begged forgiveness and pledged to dedicate the rest of his life to the Watcher’s service. If only, please, the great deity would not make his children pay for his mistakes.

He stood by as Gerbald delivered the eulogy He wondered if the Watcher had heard his plea. Even if it was too late for him, what mattered now were Alair and Emma.

That night, alone in the house at last with his children, he put the little ones to bed and tried to quiet the shouting in his head. Was Ruby right? Was it just pride that led him to insist on raising them? Was he… putting them in danger? He couldn’t bear to think of sending them away.

Even anxiety couldn’t keep him awake after this day. He was so exhausted he could barely move. He collapsed into the empty bed and slept.

When he awoke, Alair was already up and happily making a mess all over the floor. And that was the first day of his new life.

Emma took well to cow’s milk and seemed to be growing well. That was one deadly danger Nash could worry less about.

Perhaps that was a first sign of the Watcher’s favor. He could only hope.

It’s not as if he was likely to run out of things to worry about.

As an extra blessing, the weather turned warmer, giving Nash a few extra days to prepare for the freeze as best he could. He needed to bring in the last of the harvest that Emmaline had left. They needed to be a stockpile of firewood, especially with two little ones less prepared to endure the cold. Soon, the ponds would freeze over, so the last catch had to be dried and smoked for storage.

The livestock still needed to be tended. Chickens fed. Cow milked. Their homes needed to be prepared for the winter.

[Note: These screenshots do occur in this place in the game chronology, after the first snows started. Temperatures swing up and and down in the transition between seasons, so that part is fine, but they look summertime green rather than autumnal. I have no memory as to why. It does look like the plants behind him might be evergreen?]

And in any spare moment, there was an endless supply of dirty nappies.

Alair was fascinated by sound and rhythm. They were the only things that could keep his attention for long. When Nash could hear him banging out rough tunes with a stick, he at least knew the kid wasn’t causing any trouble. The sound carried out into the barnyard and Nash could listen for it while he worked.

There was so much to do, he could seldom make time to feed his son himself. He filled bowls with food and left them within Alair’s reach. He was raising the poor boy to be a savage, but it was better that he be fed. Hopefully there would be time in the future to teach him proper manners.

Thoughts of Emmaline haunted him whenever he took a moment’s rest. He missed her so badly. He was desperately lonely on the farm with only two depended mouths to feed for company.

He saved his tears for when he was out of the house. Emma was too young to know, but he didn’t want Alair to see his father in such a state.

One afternoon, he choked on a sob, and he came back out in a fit of rattling cough.

The tightness in his chest was no longer just grief. He was getting sick.

He didn’t have time to be sick. The family’s fate this winter depended on what he could do right now. It would be his fault if the children went cold, or hungry, or worse.

He wiped his running nose and pushed on through a feverish haze.

Exhaustion was an endless cycle that never, ever stopped.

Ruby was right. He couldn’t give his children a real life by himself. He wanted to keep them with him, but if he couldn’t find a better way, they would face a much better future if he sent them away.

Oof. I hope this was kind of wrenching to read because it tore me up to play it. This whole segment was both frantic and tragic.

There wasn’t enough time in the day for Nash to do everything he needed to do on the farm and drop everything to feed the baby every few hours. Alair made constant messes with FloTheory’s Make a Mess — a mod that, I may add, makes playing with toddlers MUCH more realistic.

Nash then caught a cold (with my Symptoms for Seasons) that ran his energy down faster. With all the time it took to feed Emma, he couldn’t stop to also feed Alair (no bottles in normal situations — if there’s no one to breastfeed, a toddler must be fed baby food), I ended up feeding him with Zoeoe’s Toddler Bowls. But Nash couldn’t go into town to sell fish/produce to earn any money, and a mere §25 per meal was wiping out their savings.

So yeah, nothing manipulated for story purposes —  he really couldn’t do it alone.