Archive for the ‘Camellia’ Category

Reed knew he had to make the decision. He stared out at the sky and wished he could talk to Maebe or his mother. He knew his girls well, but the job of carrying on the Foliage family legacy was a complicated mix of gardener, parent, teacher, community leader, business manager, and ambassador. He wanted to make the best choice, not just for the family as a whole, but also for each of his girls.

The funeral for Maebe had been heart-wrenching at first, but ultimately somewhat healing. Several people from around town had come, including the Duprees who lived next door and cousin Blossom and her boyfriend.

Since then, the family had been trying to get on with life again, but Zoysia and Violet were about to graduate and become young adults. That meant even more decisions and possibly upheaval.

Zoysia had developed a love of the game of chess and wanted to reach the top competitive ranking. Violet had developed, well… Violet had developed a love and hatred of many things. Her interests were so diverse that she informed her Aunt Iris that she wanted to work in four different careers! She talked animatedly about the possibilities, and then, just as suddenly, she thought of something that made her mad, and her hot-headed nature took over, making her stomp off. It was a puzzle.

Camellia was not to be ignored during all this. She had taken her father’s talk about the importance of going out on the town to heart, and she took advantage of the employee specials the spa offered in the evenings to get a massage and a manicure. She walked out of the spa feeling refreshed and pampered, only to have her elated mood crash at the sound of a police siren at the curb. She was caught!

The night got worse when her father actually yelled at her when she got out of the police car and walked in the door. But she relaxed a little when he relented and said that he was glad she was living a little, but that he didn’t mean for her to get caught! He told her he was proud that she had listened to him and decided to live a little. He even noticed her manicured nails and told her how pretty they looked. She had never felt such a shower of attention from her dad, and she decided that the whole tumultuous evening had been worth it just for that.


Iris worried about Camellia. Was she pouring enough of the right life lessons into her precious girl?

But even as she doubted her own effectiveness as a parent, Iris loved that her nieces felt free to come to her and ask about anything. Zoysia surprised her one afternoon by asking if she would share some gardening tips!

Reed and Iris talked about the twins’ upcoming birthday, and even though it had not been long since Maebe’s death, they decided that their passage into adulthood deserved a celebration. Iris had an additional motive, which she didn’t share with her brother: she wanted to invite several young men from the neighborhood to see if a romance might spark.

A crowd of guests arrived for the party, and they gathered around with noisemakers as the girls – no, young women! – blew out their candles.

Iris enjoyed her piece of cake outside at a table by the pool, enjoying the company of some other mature neighbors. It was a lovely night. She knew Reed was inside playing the good host.

Violet and Zoysia couldn’t stop talking about the party the next day. Their conversation was made up of “Wasn’t Dad rockin’ out on his guitar last night?” and “Did you hear what Moises Dupree is doing for a living now?” and “Did you see that cute new guy? He never talks that much at school!” They both knew that their dad was working through a decision that involved them, but they didn’t want to talk about it.

Violet jogged off to the stadium to look for a job in athletics, and Zoysia made plans to meet a couple of friends and her second cousin Blossom at the Bistro for dinner al fresco as part of her ongoing outdoor therapy. She still had issues with insects.

Both Violet and Zoysia were helping their dad with the garden more than ever. Reed watched them, noticing how Violet sometimes growled at the weeds as she pulled them out and how Zoysia stayed as close to the house or fence as she could while she worked. He also noticed how proud both of them were to pluck a perfect potato or cluster of grapes from the vine. Yes, it was a tough decision, but he was coming closer to a conclusion.

Violet made him proud when she told him the Science Lab had asked her to bring them some of the fruits of the Foliage garden for testing.

Zoysia had some exciting news of her own. The Chess League had accepted her request to enter the competition circuit, and her first opponent was coming by for their challenge match.

Zoysia made short work of him, while family life carried on around her. Violet was working out to the stereo in her customarily odd choice in outfit, but there was no distracting Zoysia!

Violet decided to ask her Uncle Rogelio to help her train for her new career, and they went outside while Zoysia was greeting her next chess opponent.

Zoysia was excited about this match. She knew when they shook hands that there was something uncommon about Kurtis Ryan. They played for hours, each having the upper hand at some point, before Zoysia won. She knew then and there that she wanted to play him again. She did take the opportunity to invite him to Camellia’s birthday party that weekend.

Camellia was glad to be joining her cousins in adulthood. Iris was happy for her, although she was a little bit wistful for the days when she was first married and Camellia was learning to toddle around. It seemed like just yesterday…

After Camellia’s birthday, Reed knew he couldn’t put off the decision any longer. But first, he had one thing he had to do. The diner had called asking him to bring in some eggs and cheese in return for some new kinds of seeds. Curious, he rushed off to the diner.

Reed shook his head slightly as he bent down to plant the seed. He thought the man at the diner had called these “steak seeds” but surely he meant that Reed should stake the plants when they started to grow. Maybe his hearing was beginning to go.

Reed went into the house, washed up, and called up a platter of hamburgers from his grandmother’s recipe generator. It was his favorite meal, and after dinner he was going to talk with the daughter he had chosen. He had already informed Iris of his decision, and she approved.

It had been a challenging decision, but he was confident he had chosen the right daughter to carry on the family tradition. He was also confident that the other daughter would be happy in her freedom. He walked into the living room and asked her for a few minutes.

Reed told Zoysia the story of the Foliage family. She had heard pieces of it through the years, but never the whole story from her great-great-grandmother’s childhood in the orphanage up until now. She listened with a growing pride as Reed told her how each generation had been led by one member of the family who tended the family, tended the garden, and achieved new accomplishments. Surprise, honor, and excitement ran through her when he finally said, “Zoysia, I’ve been watching you and the way you consciously challenge yourself to overcome your fear of the outdoors to work beside me and even by yourself in the garden and do what you need to do in life. Your sister is energetic and has a diverse assortment of interests, and I admire her unique ways of expressing herself, but you are my choice to lead the family into the future. I know you will do the family proud.”

Zoysia threw her arms around her dad and hugged him close. “Thank you, Dad. I won’t let you down! You’ll see!”

Reed smiled softly at her and said, “I know, Z. Now let me give you a few tips… oh!” Reed suddenly felt a slight pain go through him. He looked at Zoysia, but there were little flashing lights in front of his eyes and he couldn’t seem to see her very well. “Zoysia?”

“Dad! Aunt Iris!” Somebody help!” Zoysia called, and Iris came running. Camellia came too, and called Violet at work.

Zoysia and Iris eased Reed into a soft chair. They held onto him as tightly as they could, but no human hand can hold the soul. Reed slipped away from them with a smile, saying “Do you hear music?”

Violet hurried home as fast as she could, but it was too late. She cried with Camellia, and Zoysia suddenly felt the weight of the day’s events fall onto her.

The next day passed in a blur, and after the funeral, Zoysia found herself alone in the family cemetery. She thought over all that her father had told her in their last conversation, and dabbed at her eyes.

Before, she had been happy for herself to be chosen. Now, she was happy to carry out her father’s wish. She sniffled and let the switch in emphasis soak in. She could watch over the family, the home, the garden… she could live up to her father’s expectations, for him. She took a deep breath and set off determinedly toward the house to take her place.

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The Foliage spouses, Maebe and Rogelio, had spent a fair amount of time at home on the Foliage estate since marrying into the family. Rogelio, not being the father of twins, had found more opportunities than Maebe to go out on the town, but Maebe liked to venture out too sometimes. Since she retired and the girls grew older, she was taking more of an interest in the family garden, and one of the new neighbors, the Duprees, who had moved in next door asked if she would bring her some fresh vegetables for a special dish she was making. Maebe was more than happy to oblige.

Rogelio also had occasion to go visiting, but it was for a more somber reason. His father passed away, and he went to be with his many brothers and sisters in their time of grief.

They seemed stunned, simply standing there looking at each other. Rogelio finally reached the point where he couldn’t take the sadness anymore, and he started a game of tag to try to break his brothers and sisters out of their despondency.

Maebe occasionally took her guitar on outings around town. She drew crowds everywhere, even outside the diner. The people of Legacy Valley were music lovers. Soon she became known for what they called her “golden tongue and golden fingers.”

Iris enjoyed a friendly (well, mostly) game of chess in the park. Over time she built her skills so much that she received official recognition from the Logic Society. She hung the certificate they mailed her right next to the one from the Tinkerers’ Club.

Reed was the only one currently working a regular job, although at the top of his career, he enjoyed very flexible hours. Actually, Camellia had a job too – it was part-time work at the spa after school. She found it more stressful than she had expected, and when she got home, she liked to throw a line into the pond and let her stress dissolve with the ripples in the water.

She tried to get a jump on things one morning before school by having a swim before breakfast. When she got to the table, she saw that her father had made hamburgers for the morning meal! Violet didn’t seem to see anything strange about it.

And then Rogelio followed her to the door and kept talking to her about the importance of living it up while she was young and going out at night. It was not exactly the kind of fatherly talk her friends at school described having with their dads.

Zoysia shook her head as she walked past them and out the door to the bus. Didn’t her uncle know that Cam was having a hard time getting her homework done as it was?

Iris overhead the conversation too, and she went straight to her husband after the girls had gone to school. “Don’t you think maybe you should be more interested in our nightlife, hmmm?” She gazed into his eyes hopefully.

He didn’t.

That evening, Zoysia challenged Iris to a game of chess, while Camellia most definitely did not go out, but stayed home and watched the cooking channel with her father. Zoysia had become truly passionate about chess and wanted to learn all she could. She planned to enter the tournament circuit.

Meanwhile, Reed chatted with Violet in the kitchen. They talked about school, choosing a career, the Dupree boys who had come over after school one day, and gardening. Violet showed an interest in everything, but a preference for nothing that Reed could see.

Reed studied both of his daughters during their high school years. He knew them better than most fathers know their daughters, yet he was still surprised when he saw Zoysia through the dining room window.

His daughter who was unnerved by the mere act of stepping out the door was actually out in the garden with something in her hand! As Reed watched in wonder, Zoysia moved along the fence and then knelt in the corner of the garden. Her hands moved in the earth, shallowing out a little spot and carefully placing a tomato seed inside. Reed’s eyes followed her as she smoothed the little mound of earth over the seed, stood up, and looked around the garden before nodding and going back inside.

Reed had a lot to think about over the next several weeks, and it was not all about his daughters. His little sister had a birthday coming up, and he and Maebe were planning a big party for her. On the afternoon of the party, Maebe tuned up her guitar to play a brand new song for the occasion.

Maebe entertained some of the guests inside, while several more gathered outside around the pool. They swam, ate, talked and danced until late in the day.

Zoysia enjoyed the chance to talk to her second cousin Blossom and her boyfriend.

Finally, it was time to gather around the cake. Iris smiled around the room at all her friends and blew the candles out.

Amid the cheers and cake slicing, Violet noticed her parents going all lovey dovey. They were always holding hands and locking lips. She wouldn’t be surprised if they even wrote love letters to each other.

After the party, Iris closed herself in the bathroom with lots of bottles and tubes and creams to give herself a beauty treatment. She was very pleased with the results and was eager to show Rogelio.

She was disappointed with his reaction.

He ended up going to the kitchen to make a batch of cookies. And lick the bowl.

Soon the family saw another significant event: Zoysia won her first match against a ranked opponent!

Reed offered her a trip to the spa in celebration, and she was so excited she even dressed up for the event. He was surprised that she was so excited about going out, and she explained to her father that she knew if she put her mind to it, she could find a way to get over her fear. She had placed some of her Great Aunt Poppy’s landscapes in her room, so she could get used to being surrounded by rolling hills and wide open skies while in the safety of her room.

Zoysia and Violet were nearing graduation, and they were excited when the big day came. They walked out of the school building that Friday afternoon with big expectations for their futures.

Reed was getting the camera ready to take graduation day pictures of his girls. He and Maebe found themselves getting emotional as was practicing working the new zoom lens and taking a few pictures of his beloved. Although they were happy emotions, at Maebe’s advanced age, they were just too much, and this was the last snapshot of Maebe, taken just before she died at the age of 91. She had lived a very happy life, loved her husband passionately, excelled at her hobbies, and raised two girls who were well prepared to meet the future.


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The Foliage twins were excited – it was their birthday, and they were going to have a party with a big cake for each of them! Being teenagers meant big changes – new clothes, later curfews, shorter schooldays, and new hobbies to explore! Zoysia and Violet were eager to blow out their candles and face the future.

Violet blew out her candles, and then it was Zoysia’s turn. But somehow, this wasn’t the future they had in mind.

Fortunately, their Dad was prepared and put out the birthday inferno with the fire extinguisher. Ever since his father Cedrick the firefighter became a part of the Foliage family, there had been fire extinguishers in every room of the house. Lately, they were coming in handy.

The guests managed to have a pretty good time after the panic died down, and Zoysia and Violet enjoyed the rest of their weekend shopping, experimenting with new hairstyles, and taking a gardening class. Zoysia desperately hoped that her fear of the outdoors didn’t show; she knew how important gardening and the land in general were to her father and the whole family. She didn’t want to disappoint them, but she was always relieved when she could walk back inside. Violet, on the other hand, skipped to her own beat whether inside or outside. She was developing a unique sense of style and self.

Unbelievably, their father’s big number-that-shall-not-be-named birthday came not long after Zoysia and Violet entered their teen years. They were impressed that their mother could still rock out – the guests all jammed to her tunes at the party.

Even Reed, the consummate musician, couldn’t have done better. Maebe had worked hard and perfected her skills for his birthday party. As for Reed, he didn’t look much worse for the years. He told everybody the love of a good woman kept him young.

Reed decided not to retire yet, because he enjoyed his career so much, and he was able to work shorter hours and spend more time with his family. His girls were making the most of opportunities to do special projects for school, and he was very proud. Every time they tried out a new skill, his heart thrilled to see them excel or skipped a beat when they discovered it might not be their best area.

Camellia had been watching her slightly older cousins make the most of their new privileges with anticipation of her teen birthday. After what seemed like forever, it came, with a party all her own. Her dad was even there for her party!

She wanted to let everyone know that she was very mature and capable, so she chose a shorter, straight cut and sensible clothes. She even toned down her favorite color a little. A tiny bit, anyway.

She was still enough of an excited little girl inside to dream of her party that night.

Reed was proud of his young niece, but his thoughts continued to be filled with questions about which of his daughter he would pick to be heiress and carry on the Foliage family legacy.

Zoysia was very intelligent and excelled in all her classes at school. She always got up eagerly in the morning and never complained about going to class.

However, he had noticed that Zoysia didn’t seem to enjoy the sun on her shoulders and the breeze in her hair. That worried him. But he had also noticed some aspects of Violet’s personality that concerned him. Sometimes, when he caught a glimpse of her out of the corner of his eye, she had the strangest expressions on her face. He did have to admit, though, that he admired her total unconcern for what people thought about her. She was definitely her own person with unusual fashion and conversation choices.

Reed had a lot on his mind, but right then, he saw his beloved coming.

Big decisions could wait another day…


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The twins may have grown up to school age, but Camellia was still a toddler who needed a great deal of attention, and Iris found herself putting off her dreams of perfecting her mind and her mechanical skills to teach the very basics of life to her daughter. She hoped that along with the walking and talking, Camellia would learn about love.

Violet and Zoysia were excited about school and chattered on about it for hours while they built block towers at their table. Violet liked drawing crazy faces in art class, but Zoysia dreamed of solving tough math problems at the chalkboard.

Reed and Maebe were proud of their two girls and wanted to give them every advantage they could in life. They both hoped that the girls would excel in music, but Maebe cherished hopes that they would be sociable and have a wide circle of friends. Reed hoped they would each develop a green thumb. He loved his time at home with the family, but he also wanted to show the girls it was possible to achieve their life’s dreams. That’s why he was especially proud when his soundtrack for the new hit movie won top honors at the awards festival.

The Foliage family was going through a time of much to celebrate. Parties were frequent, and both Reed and Maebe enjoyed entertaining with their guitars. Birthdays were always occasions to celebrate, and Iris and Rogelio invited several people, young and old alike, over to gather around Camellia’s cake. They never saw the danger coming…

The guests began to shout and wave their hands in the air, but somehow Iris managed to keep her calm. She quickly measured the distance between the flames and the different exits in her mind and made for the door nearest the pool. She carried young Camellia to safety and encouraged her nieces to play tag outdoors while the adults took care of things inside.

And finally, Camellia got to blow out her candles. Understandably, she chose to eat a slice of key lime pie rather than the flame-prone cake.

Camellia developed a great fondness for television shows, whether dramas, horror movies, or comedies. If left on her own, she might sit for hours in front of the screen. Sometimes her mother made her go outside to keep her from being a pasty white child, and that’s when Camellia discovered a strange talent. She could take a seed, squeeze it in her hand, and turn it into a flame fruit. She didn’t tell anybody about this, but kept it as her special secret, wondering if it had anything to do with her birthday cake episode.

Now that the family had three girls in elementary school, mornings were always a little hectic. Bathing, breakfasting, brushing, and beating it for the school bus were the order of the day.

Iris was still concerned about Rogelio’s obsession with the fish, but she couldn’t bring herself to try to talk with him about it anymore. He felt more distant than ever to her.

Iris would have been more worried had she known what ran through his thoughts as he lay awake at night beside her.

He couldn’t talk to her about it, so he went to visit his mother and sisters, but they just ended up playing games. He didn’t figure out anything useful.

That same evening, Iris had invited her Aunt Lily over to the house for a visit. She was saddened to find out how hard of hearing her aunt had become.

Lily stayed for a nice long visit and was still there when Rogelio got home.

In fact, she never left. Much to everyone’s dismay, Lily suffered a sudden attack and died at her childhood home that very night. She was buried in the Foliage family cemetery alongside her sisters.

Reed and Iris turned to Maebe and Rogelio for comfort in their loss.

The passing of the last member of the previous generation got Reed to thinking about the future of the family. His mother had entrusted him with continuing the Foliage legacy, and he had to make sure that one of his daughters was ready to take over when he was gone. He began to observe his daughters carefully, wanting to discern which one would welcome the selection and which might see it as a burden.

Reed thought about this as he pruned the trees and harvested the fruit in the garden. He and Maebe had certainly been fruitful, producing two delightful girls, but they were not yet ripe enough to take over. How would he know, and when would he know? He wished he had asked his mother more questions when he’d had the chance.

So Reed and Iris both had much on their minds as they worked in the garden, but neither one felt able to share the whole burden of their worries. Instead, the rustling of the green leaves was only interrupted by light chatting, and deep conversations were saved for another day.

For now, the children could play and be carefree.

The adults would work and study and try to figure out the best way ahead.


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4.7 Toddlerama

The Foliage household pulsed with giggles, clumsy toy xylophone music, wails of sleepytime, and the pitter patter of tiny feet. There were three toddlers in the household, and even though they weren’t, the adults felt outnumbered.

Maebe was happier than ever to see Reed come home from work, not just for the breathtaking “I’m home” kiss, but also for the chance to get out of the house for a little bit. One night she had a dinner meeting with a potential campaign contributor at the Bistro; evening meetings allowed her to be mommy at home during the day.

Nights weren’t so easy for Iris, who often woke up to Camellia’s cries for attention or a bottle or a clean diaper.

Of course, Iris loved her daughter, but she did wonder why Rogelio rarely seemed to be nearby when Camellia needed something.

Some days Maebe felt like her children kept her young, but other days she really felt her age. One of those days was her birthday, but Reed insisted on throwing his wife a big party – she was forever young to him.

Maebe made a point of telling Reed later that he was the sunshine of her life. He replied that he would always be happy to keep her warm.

But just as another candle on the cake and a few gray hairs didn’t make Maebe any less a loving wife, they also didn’t make her any less a mom of two toddlers, and she was determined that they should learn everything their young minds could.

The whole family pitched in to take care of the three youngest Foliage girls, and even Iris, who could be neurotic about making sure things were just as they should be, didn’t mind the picture books and toys scattered all over the floor.

One at a time, the adults did manage to get out and about. Reed went to check on how the family’s businesses were doing…

… Maebe ran into Lily while playing her guitar after work…

… and Rogelio hoofed it up the hills and around the trees…

… while Iris exercised her mind at the library, until she ran into Blossom and ended up exercising her jaw while catching up on the latest news, including hearing all about Declan, Blossom’s new boyfriend. Blossom wanted to know all about how things were going with Rogelio. Iris left out a few details.

Even when Reed, Iris, and the others were out in the evenings, they always coordinated their schedules to make sure that someone was always home, especially to tuck the little ones in at bedtime.

They also had to plan carefully to make sure that the family garden didn’t go untended too long.

As Reed lifted Zoysia high into the air, he realized how quickly his girls were growing, now that their birthday was drawing near. He and Maebe busied themselves planning a party to celebrate their birthday as well as Rogelio’s, since they fell so close together.

While Camellia was a little bit younger, Iris wanted to make sure she made good progress with her own skills. While teaching her to talk, she told her a story about the day she found a geode on a nearby hill and how it turned out to be an emerald.

She realized later, at the party, that maybe she shouldn’t have let Camellia skip her afternoon nap that day.

Eventually the candles did get blown out, and Reed and Maebe were amazed at how their girls were growing up. They helped them pick out clothes before their first day of school, and they spent the weekend redecorating the girls’ new rooms using their favorite colors.


Violet took to her easim bake oven right away, and Zoysia hopped on her new computer to thank her Aunt Lily for the gift.

The girls were beginning to express their personalities, and Reed and Maebe were eager to see what the future would bring.


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