Saturday, December 24, 2011

Simberry Fields Yuletide Festival

There was a tremendous turn out of the annual Simberry Fields Yuletide Festival. Sims from across the city - and across SimNation - came for the festivities. The highlights of the event included a tree-lighting ceremony, and performances by numerous musicians. The performance by national super stars Aerial Bionic put the crowd in a frenzy.

Jimmie Paige took the stage and rocked the crowd.

After the show, Jimmie caught up with Aerial Bionic's Trevor Yates to talk shop.

Before the presentation of A Christmas Carol, Amelie White of Port Manteau caught up with an old family friend, Simberry native BriAnna McBride.

And later, BriAnna showed some displeasure in her son Gabriel's choice of attire out in the cold winter air.

Meanwhile, S'Ahmisa and Si'Enya Warwick of Apple Valley enjoyed the music, and spent time between shows enjoying nature.

And later, after the concert was over, S'Ahmisa struck up a conversation with Gabriel about Aerial Bionic's spectacular performance.

Another visitor from Apple Valley, Ginger Grey spent the majority of the evening catching up with her old friend Neeve Boudin-Bexley.

Ginger was in the neighborhood to chaperone a group of perspective Mount Branyon University students from Apple Valley: Annie and Bryant Grey, and Amanda Winsloff. The students had taken a break from touring the University, just long enough to come enjoy the festival, and see University student's in action in the A Christmas Carol performance.

Meanwhile, Audrey DeBarbarak and Joe Deveraux (from Simberry Fields and Simberry's sub-hood, Monreauxville Crossing, respectively) were deep in what appeared to be an interesting conversation.

And off in the trees, Gabriel McBride and Port Manteau's Amelie White - ahem - caught up....

... But managed to compose themselves long enough to say hello to the camera.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Facing Facts - Audrey DeBarbarak

Audrey had been in Berlin for a few weeks. The chilly temperature and the near constant snow made it far too easy for her to sit in her rented room and ponder how she should go about telling her family about her, well, condition.

Finally, after long days watching the snow pile up outside, Audrey finally decided to pick up the phone.


'Okay. I can do this.'


'This isn't going to be as hard as it seems.'


'Yeah, it'll be fine...'

Finally the beep of her mother's answering machine sounded, and Audrey slumped in relief. 'Oh, thank you!' She thought, silently smiling. Her happy demeanor was short lived, however, as halfway through the answering machine message, her mother picked up the phone.

"Oh, oh, hang on there, I'm here!"

'Oh, hell.' Audrey's shoulders slumped again, and she took a deep breath.

"Hey, Mum," she said into the receiver, trying to sound upbeat. "How are you?"

"Audie! Audie, honey, it's so good to hear from ya! Oh, darlin', I've missed you so much! How are you, sweetheart? Doin' well? Stayin' healthy? Are they feedin' ya well there in Rome, as if I even need to ask? Thank you so much for that package, by the way, honey, I used the pancetta in a pasta I made the other day for your brother... needless to say there are no leftovers!"

Audrey smiled somewhat wearily. "No problem, Mum. Yeah, I'm doing well, but I'm not in Italy any more... I'm in Berlin."

"Berlin? Sweetheart, you do realize it's winter, don't ya?"

"Yes, Mum."

"It must be freezin'!"

"Yes, Mum. But, it's fine, I'm fine. How've you been?"

"Oh, I'm doin' just fine, darlin'. We're comin' up on the Yule Festival again, and you know, it's terribly, terribly fun. I'm on the committee again this year, and it's goin' to be just fabulous! I sure wish you'd be home for it."

"I might be, but Mum, that's not what I called about...."

"You're comin' home? Oh, Lordy, darlin', I'm so happy to hear that! You know I love havin' my babies around me for the holidays!"


"And oh! Maybe you could help me get things settled. We're gonna need some able bodies to help set up the exhibits, and the stage for the performance of A Christmas Carol!"


"And I could always use a hand with the baking. I'm takin' a mess o' cookies down to the shelter again this year...."

"Mum...." Audie ran a hand through her hair. Somehow, when her mother went off on a tangent, Audie had a hard time getting a word in edgewise. "MUM!"

"And... oh, yes, baby girl?"

"There's something I need to tell you."

"Well, go on, honey! What is it?"

Audrey pursed her lips. "I... I...."

"You... you don't wanna come home for Christmas, honey?"

"No, it's not that."

"Then... you don't want to help with the festival?"

"That isn't it, Mum..."

"Well, I don't need help with the cookies, I just thought...."

"Mum, I'm pregnant."

There was, for lack of a better term, a pregnant pause.

"Come again, darlin'?" Her mother asked, her voice an octave higher than usual.

Audrey swallowed hard, and steeled her resolve. "I said I'm... I'm pregnant."

The only thing that could be heard on the line was a gentle crackling.


"Mum? Say... something. Please?"

"Pregnant?" Her mother breathed.

"Yes ma'am"




Audrey sighed. "Yes."

"How? When?"

"When? Right after I lost my job. As for how, Mum, let's not get into that right now. Or, at all...."



"You're telling me I'm going to have a grandchild?"

A smile threatened to break Audrey's worried expression. This was the reaction she had expected. "Yes."

They spent the next hour or so on the phone, Audrey giving up every - or almost every - detail about how she was feeling, what she was eating, how many check-ups she had been to, what she was planning on doing, when she was planning on coming home.

Finally, with red ears from being pressed against the phone for so long, Audrey stopped her mother in the middle of a tirade about the importance of eating the rights foods. "I've got to go, Mum. It's, uh, it's way past lunch and I'm getting kind of hungry."

"O'course, darlin'! You go, eat up. I love you, sweetheart. You take care o' yourself, and that baby, you hear?"

"Yes, Mum. Love you too. Bye."

Audrey hung up the phone, and drew in a deep, heaving breath. It was only a moment before she dissolved into tears. Relieved, sad, frightened tears.

Back in Simberry, BriAnna was hanging up the phone as well. She grinned from ear to ear, but slowly, the longer she stood there, the expression faded.

Frank entered the room not long after. "Hello, sugar," he greeted her, "What's going on? I thought you'd be down at the Fairgrounds by now..."

"My baby's having a baby," she blurted.

"Your what's having a what?" He gaped, and she pursed her lips, feeling a weight settling into her chest. "Oh, sugar," he said, immediately taking her in his arms. "That's... That's wonderful, right?"

"'Course," she muttered, swallowing hard. It was what she had always hoped for, after all, her little girl having a family of her own. But somehow, faced with it, she was now more overcome with worry for her daughter than happiness.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gott in Himmel! - The Hochstetler Family

It had been more than a month since Amos Hochstetler’s dear wife Sarah had passed. Four children she had brought into the world, four beautiful, healthy children. She had been so happy to find that she would be bearing a fifth. Nine long sim-months passed just as they had with the other children, but when the time came, something was different. Something was wrong.

It wasn’t their way to bring outsiders in, and when Miriam Hershberger, the community’s Amish mid-wife, told Amos with a hint of panic in her voice to hurry and call a doctor, Amos hesitated. Surely Miriam, with her decades of experience bringing Amish children into the world, could keep the situation under control. If only he hadn’t waited to call Dr. Vogel. If only he had listened when she’d told him the first time….

Now Sarah was gone, and with her, their baby. The close-knit Amish community of Simmersburg had come together to provide support for the grieving family, but Amos wanted nothing of it. All he wanted was his dear wife back. Even his everyday chores were often peppered with instances of being unable to keep the tears at bay.

Amos wasn’t the only one feeling Sarah’s loss profoundly. Young Susanna, just barely fifteen and having completed her schooling, was left alone as the woman of the household with three small children. She missed her mother’s sweet voice singing as she hung the laundry on wash day. She missed that together-time every night after supper, when Sarah would stand with her eldest daughter at the sink, working over the day’s dishes, and talk about the girl’s day. She missed her mother’s level-headedness, her caring, her gentle way she kept the house running.

Now it was all left to Susanna. The cooking and cleaning and laundry and gardening; the sewing and the mending; the minding of the children and the looking after her father. The twins, Sol and Leah, were too young to take on more responsibility than they had - minding the dogs and horses, helping Dat on the farm after school, keeping up with their homework… it was enough for them. They still had to be children.

Susanna stood in the kitchen one night preparing supper. Her father was putting the horses up for the evening out in the barn, and judging by the squeaking of the floorboards above Susanna’s head, Sol and Leah were playing upstairs. Little Caleb was near, as he always was, playing with a wooden spoon and a few old, dented pots and pans, making what Susanna wouldn’t have necessarily called music, but a tune nonetheless.

When dinner was ready – a tasty, sweet ham with the last of the harvest’s fresh corn, her mother’s smashed potatoes and fresh baked rolls – she called her family to the table, tearing Caleb with some difficulty from his make-shift drums and setting him in his seat at the end of the table.

It didn’t escape Susanna’s attention that her father’s eyes were red-rimmed again, and she frowned deeply as she spread a napkin on her lap. Amos didn’t wait for a comment from his eldest as he closed his eyes and bowed his head, his children following in suit, ready for prayer.

“Unser Fodder, dar duh bischt im Himmel…”

“I don’t want to pray.”

Susanna’s eyes popped open, coming to focus on Leah, sitting wide-eyed across the table from her. She glanced at her father, who seemed to be struggling to process his daughter’s words.

“Why would you say such a thing?” He finally asked, and little Leah didn’t bother looking abashed.

“Gott took Mama. I don’t want to pray to Him anymore.”

Susanna felt her jaw go slack. “Leah!” She admonished quickly, stunned that such a thing could come out of her sister’s mouth. “Sufnix!”

“But I don’t!”

“Muss ich dresche dich?! Speaking so at the table! What would Mama say?”

“Mama isn’t here. And I don’t want to pray no more.”

“Leah, you listen here…” Susanna began again, but her father held up his hand.

“She is angry, Susanna,” he said softly. “She is allowed to be.”

Susanna gaped at her father. She had expected a thorough tongue-lashing for saying such rutsching, at the supper table no less! But it seemed that there would be no such thing happening, and Susanna didn’t see it fit.

“Ach, Dat, she’s being lippy….”

“Jah, and so are you, talking back to your dat.”

Susanna felt redness creeping to her cheeks as she searched for words. Before she could find them, her father bowed his head again, and began anew. “Unser Fodder, dar duh bischt im Himmel…”

Susanna bowed her own head, scowling at Leah, who sat straight and didn’t participate. Sol looked stunned at the exchange he had just witnessed, but one look at Susanna’s sour expression, and he crosses his hands in his lap and dipped his head.