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Archive for September, 2009

Rose was a little frustrated. She was supposed to be the Foliage heiress to carry on the family’s legacy to the next generation. Her sisters – except for Daisy – had been a little in awe of her that night. So why was she still having to struggle with homework?

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Mercifully, her mother noticed her frustration, remembered her own high school homework challenges, and sat down to help Rose figure out her physics assignment. After that things seemed a little easier.

Dahlia had come a long way since her high school days of friends, flirting, and fashion. Not to say that she wasn’t interested in the latest styles anymore, but she had learned how to exercise her mind. In fact, one day the mayor called her at work and asked her to go talk some sense into the crazy criminal mastermind who was hiding out at that old “abandoned” warehouse that cast a shadow from the edge of town. She went, and after laying out in clear, logical terms why it would not benefit him to set off a massive plumbomb in the middle of Legacy Valley, he got the picture. Even evil schemers like the idea of living another day.

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Unknown to Dahlia, one of her daughters had followed her and was making plans of her own…

Everyone in the family had goals and hobbies to pursue, and the Foliage women could be found all around town.

Fern works on her latest book with the sound of the surf in her ears.

Fern works on her latest book with the sound of the surf in her ears.

Rose tends the family garden.

Rose tends the family garden.

Screenshot-858-crop Screenshot-913-cropPerseverance was paying off for Lily as she pursued her medical dreams and achieved promotion after promotion. That was not all she was achieving, though. Under the glimmering stars one night, she and Monty Langerak realized that they were more than friends and co-workers.

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Poppy finds another reason to dislike the outdoors – dangerous cars!

Poppy finds another reason to dislike the outdoors – dangerous cars!

Poppy had been interested in playing the guitar for her friends and acquaintances in the park, but she was having a hard time overcoming her agoraphobia. Those speeding cars that came out of nowhere as she tried to cross the street didn’t help!

Daisy spent a lot of her time talking to boys, and she especially liked playing with their hearts, talking to one boy about another. The French brothers suffered repeatedly from Daisy’s mind games.

"Oh Jameel, I just love the way Carmelo's hair falls over his eyes. It's so dreamy!" Daisy snickers to herself as Jameel winces, not knowing she just told Carmelo how much she admired Jameel.

"Oh Jameel, I just love the way Carmelo's hair falls over his eyes. It's so dreamy!" Daisy snickers to herself as Jameel winces, not knowing she just told Carmelo how much she admired Jameel.

Daisy also found other ways to amuse herself through her high school years. Her mother wished she would find another hobby.

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Surprisingly quickly, time passed, and Daisy and Rose were suddenly celebrating their 18th birthday. Dahlia threw them a formal party to celebrate, but as usual, Rose had her own ideas about what to wear. Daisy blew out her candles first, then it was Rose’s turn. Dahlia watched her babies become adults before her eyes.

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Thoroughly different, the young women were still very close, although neither seemed to understand why the other desired the things she did out of life. Fern was reminded of another relationship in the family, and so she kept an eye on Daisy.

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Fern was the first one in the family to realize that Daisy had been so thrilled to become an adult because it meant that she would finally be accepted at the outlaws’ warehouse and trained in criminal arts. When Daisy got home, Fern had a talk with her, although it didn’t seem to be very successful. Daisy kept talking about how much money she could make.

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Meanwhile, Rose realized that it was time for her to think about starting the next generation of the Foliage family. With a little nudge from her mother, she went for a stroll through the park to meet some new people. She had never had a real boyfriend, but her mother assured her that Mr. Wonderful was out there just waiting to be captivated by her.

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Her afternoon at the park, however, turned up one mail carrier who turned out to be insane as well as a hater of art and of the outdoors, a young man with unfortunate hair who expressed a fear of televisions, several people of retirement age, and one man who said he was already in a relationship. Rose thought he looked like a Rhett. Rose decided to hang it up for the day and head home.

And that was where there was about to be serious drama. That cozy home on the cliffs overlooking the sea, where the cool, green garden grew, was about to be anything but tranquil.

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Life with six women in one house meant that bathroom time was in high demand. Sooner or later, someone was going to walk in on someone, and every time it happened, someone ended up red-faced. Oddly enough, it never seemed to bother Rose. She had her own ideas about what was and was not appropriate.

Even Daisy gets embarrassed!

Even Daisy gets embarrassed!

All four teens were doing pretty well in school, and at least one of them brought home a friend every day.

Lily and Rose leaving school, with their friend Amy Tong in the background.

Lily and Rose leaving school, with their friend Amy Tong in the background.

Before their parents thought it could possibly be time, Lily and Poppy were graduating and celebrating their first birthday as young adults. Win planned a big party, and the house was full as they blew out their candles.

Poppy and Lily makes their wishes.

Poppy and Lily make their wishes.

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Daddy-daughter talk

Daddy-daughter talk

Poppy wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life, so she talked with her dad about a career in the military, and she talked with her Aunt Fern about the family’s gardening tradition, but both of those options meant way too much time outdoors for Poppy’s liking. In the end, she decided that her life goal would be to master the arts, since the paintbrush had been a friend of hers since childhood, and she had recently taken up playing her grandfather’s guitar.

Lily heads off to her first day of work, with Fern's painting "Pork Chops and Applesauce" in the background.

Lily heads off to her first day of work, with Fern's painting "Pork Chops and Applesauce" in the background.

Lily had known since she was a little girl that she wanted to be a world-renowned surgeon one day, so she was pleased to finally be able to start her career.

Daisy and Fern having one of many meals together

Daisy and Fern having one of many meals together

Daisy and Fern continued to be very close, although as time passed and Daisy grew, Fern became increasingly concerned by some of what she saw in her niece. Were these traces of evil the very things that so scared her own sister Dahlia when she looked at Fern? She thought long and hard about their recent fight and the slow reconciliation, and then she went to pour her heart out into a new novel, Thrive or Wilt.

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When she had finished, she felt somehow different. She felt as if she had reached some unspoken pinnacle of success in her artistic crafts of writing and painting, and she also sensed somehow that she was overcoming that trait that had cost her so much joy in life. She was renewed.

Win continued to do well in his career, though he did not advance quite as quickly as he might have if he had not placed so high an importance on his family. He spent a lot of time flying jets, but he valued his time with his wife and daughters more.

Win, freshly showered after exercising

Win, freshly showered after exercising

One day, after cutting short his workout to flirt with his wife, he felt sort of odd. Dahlia looked at him in alarm.

Win can't figure out why he feels so funny.

Win can't figure out why he feels so funny.

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Dahlia cried out, and her daughters and sister came running. They knew something was very wrong. Poppy’s eyes large eyes filled with tears as she hardly dared look at what was happening. Daisy reached out as if to hold her father and keep him from going, but he seemed to fade into thin air before their eyes.

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Screenshot-815Poppy went to comfort her mother, and Fern tried to console Daisy. But Daisy wasn’t having any of it. Her aunt was different somehow; she sensed it. And the pain was too great. Bitterly, she waved her aunt’s concern off and retreated into herself.

I don't need your hug! I don't need anything from you!

I don't need your hug! I don't need anything from you!

That was the day that Daisy decided she would embrace her evil side. She would nurture it and feed it. She would become the Empress of Evil.

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Over the following days, the Foliage women tried to keep themselves busy. Lily went to work, although her sad mood kept her from advancing. Poppy painted canvas after canvas. Fern, feeling her age, began a historical book. Rose, taking a cue from her mother’s fondness of fishing, went to the beach with her fishing rod.

That's a far cry from tuna and shark!

That's a far cry from tuna and shark!

A cute, very fit guy tried to chat her up, but Rose was still sad after losing her father, and when Coby talked about fitness and exercise, it only reminded her of her father.

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Daisy, on the other hand, grabbed onto her father’s love of exercise and took it for her own. She savored the pain in her muscles, focusing on the goal of bringing the world under her domination, so that she could choose when people would suffer. No more would this random tragedy affect her!

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Her dreams became lurid, full of the supernatural, and she behaved very differently from her sisters.

Floating, tilting, flying, falling…

Floating, tilting, flying, falling…

Dahlia mourned often at Win’s grave. She had known from the beginning that he was older and might have to leave her one day, but she hadn’t known how much she would miss her sweet, brave, and flirty soulmate. She talked with her memory of Win about their daughters, their home, and her plans for the future. She knew the time had come to make some choices, even though two of her daughters were still in school.

Screenshot-827So she poured energy into everything she did, from her job…

Screenshot-833…to her home…

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…to her family. It was time to have the talk that her mother had had with her and Fern so many years ago. It was time to name an heiress.

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Dahlia called everyone together and said she had some things to share with them. She told them all the story of how Flora came to Legacy Valley, why the family home and garden on the hill were so important, and what the family meant to Dahlia personally. Fern of course knew the first part, but she listened along with the four girls as Dahlia spoke of feelings she often left unspoken. Dahlia spoke a word to each of the girls in turn, telling Poppy how much she valued her good nature, Lily how much she admired her logical mind, Daisy – with a little hesitation – how many good things she hoped for her future, and Rose how special she was with her unique ways and traces of both her mother and father in her appearance. For a second, Dahlia almost broke down, but she pulled herself together and took a step forward.

It has been a very difficult choice, but it’s one I have to make. Rose, I name you as the Foliage heiress, chosen to carry on the family name and legacy in this home for the next generation. I know you are still in school, but knowing now will give you time to prepare, and you have me and your aunt and your sisters to help you. When you graduate from high school, you will be ready.

Rose

Rose

Just as I received it in my turn, I pass the Foliage legacy on to you. Nurture it, grow it, care for it. Live your life, and know that you are part of something bigger. Time passes quickly, but a centuries-old tree can look at the saplings springing up around it and be proud. Grow our heritage, Rose. You will always be remembered.

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2.9 Accusation

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Win had heard the other flight officers exchanging stories about the old crypt and catacombs at the Legacy Valley graveyard. Most of the stories sounded like tall tales for ego’s sake, but Win was intrigued enough to decide to check it out for himself. The heavy doors creaked open slowly as he entered, and the musky smell of closed up places filled his nostrils. Undaunted, he ventured into the dark.

Meanwhile, the women of the family were otherwise occupied. Dahlia was at work, and then in the garden. Lily, as usual, was at the chess table after doing her homework. As for the others…

Poppy enjoys painting, discovering that there are other colors besides her favorite, black.

Poppy enjoys painting, discovering that there are other colors besides her favorite, black.

Daisy visits Jameel French after school…

Daisy visits Jameel French after school…

…before going home and playing tag with her Aunt Fern.

…before going home and playing tag with her Aunt Fern.

Rose takes her fishing pole to the park.

Rose takes her fishing pole to the park.

…they were fully occupied, unaware that the man of the house was exploring the catacombs, rumored to be filled with rejects from the science’s lab animal experiments, such as the failed attempt at crossing a polar bear with an electric eel. Would he survive it?

Brave Win says, "Piece of cake!"

Brave Win says, "Piece of cake!"

Not only did he survive, but he emerged victorious with valuable finds from luminorious gems to rare seeds. After the exhilarating afternoon, he was glad to go home to a somewhat more sane family dinner. Of course, sharing a home with six women was never completely sane to Win’s spic-and-span, on-schedule, military way of looking at things, but he wouldn’t change it for anything.

Everyone except Poppy, who has trouble tearing herself away from the easel

Everyone except Poppy, who has trouble tearing herself away from the easel

After dinner, Rose and Daisy went to play in their room, while Win helped Lily get the hang of the exercise machine.

Dad, are you sure it's supposed to be this heavy?

Dad, are you sure it's supposed to be this heavy?

Nearby, in the garden, an unpleasant scene was developing. No one except the two involved saw what had happened, but it was suspected that Fern had sneaked up behind Dahlia as she was gardening and had given her a huge scare.

Not the closest of sisters

Not the closest of sisters

Things went from bad to worse in a hurry. Dahlia accused Fern of being evil, and Fern said that she didn’t care what Dahlia thought. They shouted back and forth for an hour, pointing fingers and pointing out faults.You. Are. Evil.

You. Are. Evil.

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“You are bad to the core!”

“You are so vain you couldn’t bring yourself to change a diaper!”

“At least I have a family!”

“You don’t care about them, only that you’re in charge!”

And then, they suddenly realized that they were fighting in the middle of their mother’s garden. They stopped shouting, still glaring at each other and breathing hard, but suddenly reluctant to fight anymore right there. Thoughts of gentle Flora broke up some of the storm clouds in their hearts, and they walked off in different directions.

Dahlia went to Win for consolation. She cried about the fight and confessed to him that she was worried about Fern’s influence on her daughters, especially Daisy. Win held Dahlia close and listened, then reminded her that Fern might still be upset over having been passed over. After all, she made a huge contribution to the household finances every week with the royalties from her books. She helped take care of the little girls while Dahlia and Win were both at work. She couldn’t be entirely evil, could she?

Win, she is so evil to me, after I let her live here in the house and everything!

Win, she is so evil to me, after I let her live here in the house and everything!

Fern, after walking out to the family graveyard and sitting a while thinking of her mother and that talk so long ago, decided to start a certain project.

Will it work? Fern doesn't know, but she's going to try.

Will it work? Fern doesn't know, but she's going to try.

Things were extremely awkward around the house for a few days. The four girls spent as much time away from home as possible.

Lily goes to the pool to show off that she's been working out.

Lily goes to the pool to show off that she's been working out.

Rose invites all takers in the park. Chess with an adult? Bring it on!

Rose invites all takers in the park. Chess with an adult? Bring it on!

Win takes a study break to read "The Fiendish Frond Avenges."

Win takes a study break to read "The Fiendish Frond Avenges."

Win found the atmosphere more conducive to studying at the library, and after he finished reading a jet repair manual, he found the last book in Fern’s Fiendish Frond series for a little dramatic reading.

As Daisy and Rose’s birthday approached, the girls hoped that it might be an occasion for their mother and their aunt to patch things up.

Daisy and Rose are growing up!

Daisy and Rose are growing up!

But although the party was a success, there was no reconciliation.

Teen Rose pre-makeover

Teen Rose pre-makeover

Teen Daisy pre-makeover, obviously not impressed with the party

Teen Daisy pre-makeover, obviously not impressed with the party

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Things were happening, however, even if Daisy (left) and Rose (right) weren’t aware. As most of the house slept, Fern was reaching new heights of creativity and coming close to putting her plan into action.

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A Perfect Garden

A Perfect Garden

The garden reaches the state that Dahlia has always dreamed of while she sleeps.

The garden reaches the state that Dahlia has always dreamed of while she sleeps.

The night was eventful for Dahlia, too, although she didn’t know it until the next morning. During the night, under the gentle rain of the sprinklers, the plants that she had been nurturing grew to the state of perfection that she had been working toward since her mother gave her that charge.

In just a few days, it was Dahlia and Fern’s birthday. Dahlia was not thrilled about the idea of wrinkles and gray hair, but Win insisted on a party. Fern was strangely quiet on the subject.

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Dahlia enjoyed chatting with her guests, especially since it gave her the opportunity to thank her boss for the promotion to Robot-Creature Crossbreeder as well as watch her daughters chat with some of the young men from the neighborhood. After the party was over, though, she felt her nerves go on alert when Fern called her into the living room.

“Dahlia, there’s something in here I’d like you to see,” said Fern. With a deep breath, Dahlia smoothed her graying hair and stepped into the room. Suddenly, she was staring at a brilliantly beautiful painting of her family gathered around the table.

Speechless

Speechless

“Dahlia, I know you really do care about your family. I shouldn’t have said what I did. That’s why I painted this for you. Happy birthday!”

Dahlia turned around to look at her sister. “This is the best present I could ever imagine. I-I’m sorry for yelling at you. Happy birthday to you too.”

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They didn’t hug, because the wounds were still not fully healed, and they knew they weren’t living in a sit com, but they shared a quiet smile. The healing had begun.

A gift of healing

A gift of healing

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