I haven’t written anything all month long.
This is one of my longer hiatuses. I have gotten a few concerned emails, asking if I’m alright, or if I’ve retired from blogging or something. I’m just fine, and I’ve certainly not gone away for good. I haven’t *meant* to go away at all. It’s just been difficult to update recently, due to a combination of circumstances.
The changes in my life sort of began in earnest several months ago when Malignus and I ended our romantic, and then later, our D/s relationship. At the time, I didn’t feel that I could write about it without being dramatic or excessively emotional, so I simply didn’t. It wasn’t a secret, obviously, but I didn’t feel that it was appropriate to sit down and write a big post about how we’d split up. The process was obviously not easy, but it was ultimately the right thing to do.
Additionally, and un-relatedly, YS and I have recently decided to end our D/s dynamic. We’ve grown and changed as people, and our dynamic was no longer serving the same purpose that it originally did. The dynamic had become punctilious, and more of a formality than anything else as we both developed in different directions.
SF is currently taking a hiatus from the scene because a horrible personal tragedy befell him recently, and it’s taking a long time for him to recover from it (quite understandably). I know he’ll eventually be back, and he knows I’ll be there when he is! PTL and I have a horrible combination of impossibly busy schedules (hers much more extreme than mine!) and therefore have little time for bossing interactions these days. That was mostly just “for fun” anyway.
In the meantime, this means that my flowchart has become pretty straight-forward:
|Current Bossiness Flowchart|
As opposed to this, 9 months ago:
This didn’t happen by design. It’s just been a year of changes. Nothing’s quite as sure as change. There’s lots of room for off-chart bossing in my life, of course, and there’s a good handful of people that I choose to listen to when they tell me to do something.
There’s another very big change that’s happening in my life: I’m in the process of moving from Sioux Falls back to Los Angeles. It was time for that, and it just makes sense right now. Last week, Epipelagic came to visit and she helped me to pack ALL MY STUFF into boxes and space bags. Space bags are one of the greatest things of all time, by the way. Watching all the air get vacuumed out of the bags is extremely gratifying. Once everything was packaged, Epipelagic did most of the organization of my car. It nearly defies the laws of physics. She turned my car into a bag of holding. She’s a wonderful friend, by the way, and I’m so glad that I’ll be living near her again. I value our friendship so much, and I can’t wait to see how it grows and develops in the coming years.
Leaving Sioux Falls was hard. It’s never easy to leave a place where you lived, even if I was never truly suited for life in a small, Midwestern city like that. I’ll miss everyone that I got close to there very much. I realize that I didn’t have a very drawn out or formal goodbye process as I left. I can’t really say why that is– it just felt like leaving quietly was the most comfortable thing for me to do. The other day, I drove from Sioux Falls to Denver, where I had a few shoots before continuing on my way. Driving away from the place that had been my home for the past two years was difficult. I was dazzled by the beauty of the landscape as I passed into the part of the state that wasn’t so flat. The sun was shining through the clouds, and it would start to rain, but the rain never lasted long.
I’m in Denver for a few more days and then I’m going to Texas to see Mila, WYO and LLB, do more shooting and sessions and probably swim in the pool in my underwear some more, because that’s how I do. After that, Mila and I are going to drive from Dallas to Vegas, stopping in New Mexico to visit Heather Green for a bit, and in Phoenix and or Tucson for shoots on the way. Vegas, of course, will be Shadowlane, the superlative spanko gathering place! We’ll be heading to Los Angeles from there, where Mila will visit for a few days and then I’ll begin my new life there. It’s tremendously, amazingly exciting. I can’t wait. I love everything about the life that I’m going to have.
So, that’s the state of things right now. I’m ultimately in a very good place, and my life is only going to get better and better.
I’m still alive! Safe and sound at Pandora Blake‘s flat in London. I’ve had lots and lots of adventures recently, and little time to sit down and write about them. Fortunately for me, Pandora has kind of Topped me into stopping being distracted and getting some writing done. Huzzah!
I left off on my story about the Vegas trip with the end of Thursday night, and I shall continue from there.
On Friday, I woke up in bed with Joe and Ten, which was a really nice feeling. There was a little more morning snuggling and chatting and then we got to work packing up all the things, because we were switching to a different room that day. A hotel bell hop came to help us move stuff, and we had the following conversation.
Him: Are you guys getting married (referring to me and Joe).
Me: (blushing) No!
Him: Haha! She doesn’t want to marry you!
Obviously, that was too complex of a situation to explain to a stranger at that moment.
Him: So, what ARE you doing?
Joe: We’re just fifty freaky people having a party.
Apparently, later in the day, when others were moving in this same hotel employee asked them if they were some of the “fifty freaks,” which gave rise to a new name for our little gathering.
After helping with move in, I had my only working engagement for the weekend, which went swimmingly. When I finished, I started trying to figure out who was where. This was a little difficult because I didn’t know where anyone’s room was besides Joe and Ten and there was no other central gathering place. It turned out that a lot of my friends were hanging out elsewhere, so I spent a bit of time with Whooperine, and then a bit more with Sophie Grey. Despite the fact that I was having fun, most of my thought process for the day can be summed up this way:
YS and ellee will be here tonight! YS and ellee will be here tonight! YS and ellee will be here tonight! YS and ellee will be here tonight! YS and ellee will be here tonight! YS and ellee will be here tonight! YS and ellee will be here tonight! YS and ellee will be here tonight! YS and ellee will be here tonight! YS and ellee will be here tonight! YS and ellee will be here tonight! YS and ellee will be here tonight! YS and ellee will be here tonight!
My excitement over seeing them was a little excessive, but I think it was justified. I basically believe that ellee and I have to see each other regularly or else we’ll both die. Twin-drop can be terminal if not treated quickly enough. The time that we spend together is always beyond pleasant and I love having adventures, appreciating cute things, cuddling and getting spanked with her. We have our serious conversations, too, of course, and since we’ve known each other she has remained one of my most trusted confidents and a source of very useful advice.
As I mentioned before, YS and I hadn’t gotten to see each other at all since we began our D/s dynamic in October. We’ve had lots of important conversations and found ways to engage that are really fulfilling and gratifying, but I was really looking forward to having propinquity with him. I was also really looking forward to being spanked by him again, especially now that we have our power dynamic. In fact, I hadn’t been as excited about being spanked by someone since I was en route for my first ever visit with Malignus all that time ago. I spent a lot of the day alternating between bouncing and looking at the time on my phone.
That evening, everyone gathered in Joe and Ten’s new suite, which was just lovely. The facilities were perfect for a group of our size and there were plenty of places available for playing. I got to spend some time chatting with various people who I like, including Lily Starr, Richard Windsor and Erica Scott.
|Lily Starr and I in our adorable dresses 🙂|
Now, as I previously mentioned, I had gotten myself into massive amounts of trouble with Richard and I was feeling very nervous about that (in a positive way). I really wanted to be spanked by him before said trouble, though. This was partially to sort of mentally warm up for the caning I’d be getting later that weekend and partially just because I’ve really liked and admired him for a long time, and that’s what I want from Tops who I like and admire. 😛
I’m still working on making my interest in being spanked by someone known, especially at a party. In general, I don’t like being too bratty. I don’t like to be a bad girl. I do know that the whole “I’m constantly good! Look how good I am!” routine gets old pretty quickly. So, I’ve been trying to find a balance between being humorously bratty with people who I know are comfortable with that without being actually “bad.” Some of my early attempts with this didn’t actually go the way that I would have liked them to, but that simply meant that more work was needed at finding the balance, not that it was time to give up. I decided to try again.
One piece of banter which has been enjoyable on Fetlife was the idea of “The 43 Minute Rule.” This is basically just a bunch of girls teasing Rich because once he posted a new topic to “The Spanking World: Good vs. Bad” but then complained that 43 minutes later, it didn’t have any comments on it, so he took it down. This lead to the idea that 43 minutes was the requisite time frame in which one must respond to anything. I’d been kind of abusing this particular banter, but it was funny, and there was something kind of daring about bringing it up again, because this whole situation is what lead to me getting myself into the trouble that I was waiting to be caned for in the first place.
While talking to Rich, I casually said: “You know, we’ve been at this party for a lot longer than 43 minutes.”
“Are you saying that you want a spanking?” he asked. I smiled a little bit shyly.
“Yes,” I acknowledged. He then took me over to the couch and put me over his lap. He started spanking me first through my dress, which didn’t have too strong of an affect on me, and then through my slip. I was really glad that he noticed that. I like to wear dresses with slips and most people kind of just shove them out of the way along with the dress, but I think that the lifting of the dress and then the slip and then the lowering of the panties can be a really lovely anticipation building mechanism besides giving a kind of nice, retro feeling to a scene. Anyway, the spanking wasn’t too hard, but it was really perfect for what it was. He scolded me while spanking me about how much trouble I was going to be in later, and it made my stomach flutter even more. He also let me wear his hat while he spanked me:
|Thank you, Richard!|
Later that evening, I spent some time talking to both Heather (all references to Heather in this post refer to PTL, Heather Green is not involved in this story) and Mike (spank33) about a roleplaying scene that I was interested in doing. It was mostly between me and Mike, but because he and Heather have a complex and wonderful roleplaying situation already, we decided that ours would sort of set in the same universe as theirs. We talked about what I wanted from it, and what our characters would be. The whole thing was a little bit divergent from my usual spanking scenes in a way that was really refreshing to me. We decided that I would do something to act out and break one of our pre-established rules and that he would then catch me and correct me for it. I discussed with Heather, and she agreed to help me out a bit. I waited a while so it would catch Mike off guard and then I left and went down to the Casino. After a bit, Heather went up to Mike.
“I’m really worried about Alex!” she told him (obviously roleplaying). “She just took off and didn’t say where she was going. She’s not answering my texts. I think she’s gambling!”
Mike and Heather then took off to look for me. I had texted Heather and told her where I was “hiding” so that they could easily find me. Once they had, Heather began to rant about how worried she had been and how irresponsible I was, with Mike directing me upstairs with some quiet but serious sounding scolding (the whole thing was done in a way that was not noticeable or disturbing to vanilla people). Once we got into the elevator, things got a bit more heated and I was basically petulant and entirely non-repentant. When we got back upstairs, he sent Heather to go back to the party but took me to his room for a “serious discussion.” My heart was pounding a bit, but I kept trying to play my character as nonchalant and whining. I even did a little foot stomp when he told me to get over his lap, and I insisted that I hadn’t done anything wrong and that the rules were unfair and stupid. It wasn’t until about halfway through the spanking that I finally let that be broken down and I became repentant and contrite. The scene went really, really well, and we were both happy with it. After we finished, he walked me back to Joe and Ten’s room and once we ended roleplay mode, I happily shared the story with Heather.
Although my usual preferences for spanking remain the same, I’m very glad to have added the ability to enjoy roleplaying to my repertoire of enjoyable spanking atmospheres. I like it because it allows for me to connect with someone on an intense level at that particular moment without having to have a deep relationship. It allows me to get things out of my system which wouldn’t be appropriate in other scenarios (a great use for all those lines that pop into my head but which I swallow down because the situation is serious). It involves lots of creativity and humor, which are always great. And it’s fun. I always enjoy fun.
The evening continued to move on, although at a pace which felt very slow to me due to my excitement. Finally, it was time for us to go pick up ellee and YS from the airport, where the story will continue in my next post. 🙂
Over a year ago, I made a post detailing my spanking related bucket list. I’ve had an incredible variety of experiences since then, and I think it’s a good time to look back on the things that I was previously curious about. I haven’t done everything on this list yet, but I’ve been able to cross of a large number of the items. 😀
Getting spanked with a bath brush
|Not the best photo in terms of capturing the color, but still nice, right?|
“Bath brushes are a nice thing to get spanked with,” said no one, ever.
Still, I’m glad to have added them to my repertoire of things that I get hit with. There’s a certain comfort that comes from being hit with something you really don’t like by someone that you trust. It’s also a great implement for the times when I want to feel overwhelmed by a spanking. It certainly gets that job done. Scale is important to me: it’s good to have implements in our collection that are somewhat comfortable on either an emotional level or which just aren’t that physically awful and to have things on the other end of that spectrum. Still, it’s not something I’m going to let just anyone hit me with. 🙂
I’ve certainly had a few experiences with cotopping, but it’s still something I’d like to explore more. One method of this which I’ve done quite a few times is a round-robin style spanking, where I moved from one Top to another getting spanked by each one. Another that I tried a few times, especially at the Cabin Party is the method where I was positioned across both Tops’ laps and shifted forward so that the second one could spank me after the first finished (see photo above). Cotopping is something that I’d like to do more with, though. I’d ideally like to have two Tops, particularly people who I already felt close to, take turns between strokes, especially with one Top standing on either side of me. I’ve seen people do scenes like this at parties, and it’s something I remain curious about.
Getting spanked on a wet bottom
This is another thing which I’m glad I’ve tried, but which certainly isn’t high on my list of preferences. I experienced this for the first time during a video with Lily Starr where she dragged me out of the shower in order to put me over the bed and spank me with a bathbrush. Later, at TASSP, Malignus spanked me directly after we’d gotten out of the pool. I was a bit more dry then, but it still was extra stingy. At the Cabin Party, YS spanked me while we were in the hot tub outdoors, which was an assortment of interesting sensations: cold air, warm body, wet bottom. Later at that same party, the Tops all assembled to gang up on girls who were coming in from the hot tub and I got spanked by about six people in a row on my wet bottom. Lots and lots of adventures in wet bottom spanking!
Attending spanking parties
In the past year, I went from having never been to any kind of spanking party to having attended two cabin parties, one local party in Denver, TASSP, two Crimson Moons and Shadowlane. I’m now basically addicted to them, and plan to go to all the parties, ever. 😀
Sitting down in the snow after a hard spanking
There was no snow when we were in Colorado and that was the only time when I really got spanked outside very much. I did a little bit of it during my first Cabin Party, but there was very limited snow available at the time. I still think it’s a good idea. 🙂
Getting spanked on the beach
I don’t know where exactly I’d find a beach where I felt comfortable enough to do this, but the idea continues to tickle me. I think it could either be lots of fun or extremely relaxing, depending on how it was done.
Getting spanked in my car
|Taken after Amoni spanked me in her car.|
I’ve actually never been spanked in my personal car, although Amoni spanked me in the back of her car once. It was actually fairly comfortable, although obviously not the ideal set up. This scene was pretty light hearded, considering the fact that she’s my friend and we were in the backseat of her car in front of her house in the middle of the woods at night. She handed me a hairbrush and said “think about what a naughty person you are.”
I’ve also been hit on my thigh while Malignus was driving basically every day that we’ve ever ridden in the same car, although that’s not exactly the same thing. I plan on buying an actually new car (instead of just a “new to me” car) in the next year or so, and I’m sure that I’d be able to convince Malignus to spank me in it to celebrate its procurement. 😀
Getting an extremely long spanking
|Danny Creighton spanking me for a really long time at a Scarlet Moons party.|
I’ve had two experiences which I think fall into this category, although there’s certainly a lot more to explore here. I’ll start by saying that I had received a couple of fairly long spankings before I made this post. One of these was probably my favorite spanking ever, where I fell into subspace for the first time and I really have no idea how long it lasted. Because of the spacing out, it never seemed extremely long, but in retrospect (and after talking to Malignus about it) I realize that it was somewhat epic. Another very long spanking was a hand spanking which YS gave me during the Cabin Party (a lot of noteworthy things happened during that party). That was really lovely indeed: he spanked me with his hand for at least 45 minutes, varying speed and intensity so that it was never “easy” but never overwhelming either. I just snuggled against him and felt very safe and cozy.
The most recent of my spankings of epic proportions took place at the Scarlet Moons party which I attended with Amoni in Denver. This was the first time I actually got to meet Danny Creighton (who, by the way, I am seeing and getting spanked by in less than 12 hours) and after Amoni and I hung out with him and Sophie for a while, we decided that the only right thing in the world would be for him to spank me. 🙂 He did so quite thoroughly and for quite an extended period of time, making me positively blissed out despite the constant group of people coming and going. He mostly used his hand, but occasionally threw in swats with a wooden paddle, which really confused my brain because I was not paying very careful attention to what, exactly was going on behind me, just the fact that I felt lovely and relaxed. He finished the whole thing up quite a bit later with some belting, which was much more energizing than relaxing, but was done with a presence and tone that made me turn to putty inside. (Oh hey, I can’t wait for tomorrow! This is like, Christmas Eve or something!)
Purchasing leather implements
Leather remains an area which I need to keep exploring. I’ve had scenes with leather implements which I’ve really enjoyed, and I know that if I had more leather choices in the implement bag I’d probably do more of it at home which would make me even more accustomed to the sensation.
Cutting a switch
I’ve been switched a couple of times, most notably in a treehouse with ellee by Robert Wolf. Switches are stingy and kind of mean, but there continues to be something interesting about them to me. I’ve never done the sort of scene where a girl is sent out to select and cut her own switch and bring it back to be spanked with, though, and I think that’s something that I’d like to do. I like the idea of the ritualized experience there, and there’s something sort of intriguingly uncomfortable about selecting it on my own.
That covers my original list. I’ve been thinking about adding some new items to this, although those would mostly be focused around people I’d like to be spanked by or particular fantasy scenes that I have kicking around in my head and the idea of sharing those is always a little embarrassing.
Now goodnight, I need my beauty sleep so that I can get spanked tomorrow. 😀
I’m very behind on things again, unfortunately. Time for a little catch up.
At the end of September, I organized a cabin party in the mountains of Colorado. I’d been planning this for a long time, and it had caused me various sorts of stress. Finding the right cabin was extremely difficult: we were originally planning on having a group of twenty people, so we needed a big space, and because it was a spanking party, we needed a place that was secluded enough for us to thoroughly enjoy the great outdoors. My very dear friend, Amoni, was priceless in helping me with this, as she lives in the area. She went around and checked places out for me during the planning stages. Finally, we found one that was perfect: big enough for everyone, beautifully designed, chock full of amenities and, most importantly, in the middle of nowhere. I’d assembled an all-star group of friends to come out, including Amoni, Lily Starr and Robert Wolf, Heather Wayland, ellee and YoggSothoth, Whooperine, WearYouOut and LilLawBrat, -lostkitten and locals and newcomers to my friends group, JoeDimWit, DarkSteven and DarkStevensGirl. Obviously, there was also me and Malignus. 🙂
There were, of course, lots of other people I would have liked to have there in addition, including BradD, who was scheduled to come but suffered from medical problems and needed surgery during the party, which was incredibly disappointing for everyone, but also Ten Amorette and Drlectr and Beth Eisley, who all had other engagements that weekend. The group we did have, though, was just awesome. Everyone got along. There was no drama. The only tears were caused by spankings. People bonded and made new friends. I felt kind of like a huge winner for bringing everyone together.
The first night that we arrived was surprisingly relaxing. I gave people tours of the cabin as they got there, and we located and hid in the SECRET ROOM that had been advertised on the website and which we had all chatted about in advance quite a bit on our google group where we got to know each other. This was actually pretty easy to find, but I was still pleased with it. There was also a copious amount of hugging that first night. I was just so overjoyed to see everyone. I was constantly bouncing around. When ellee and YS arrived, we exchanged some presents that we had collected for each other, because we’re the kind of besties who get each other cute things. ellee is really good at buying presents. I was overjoyed. In the middle of mini-Christmas, though, YS came into the room with an implement and a semi-serious look on his face. Heather, ellee, YS and -lostkitten had carpooled from the airport together, and they had taken longer than I determined acceptable, so I got a little beyond my bounds and sent a text to Heather scolding YS for getting everyone lost and taking too long. This was about to catch up to me in the form of my first spanking of the party. My sense of self preservation must not have been unpacked yet, though, because when he said “You got a little mouthy there, Alex” I responded with “My mouth was not involved! I was texting!”
Surprisingly, this did not save me, and I got ten firm swats, followed by a very nice hug and more presents. Have I mentioned that YS and ellee are pretty much my favorite people ever to live? Yes. That.
We grilled a variety of burgers and hot dogs for dinner, went in the hot tub and enjoyed the pleasure of one and other’s company for the first several hours of the evening. Then, later, we moved to the downstairs and the spanking began in full. A lot of this took place with girls bending over the ping pong table (which I suppose is appropriate, because it *is* designed for use with paddles!) and a lot of the play was done fairly publicly. That first night, someone was showing off a London Tanner’s strap of some sort and Malignus decided that he wanted to try it on me, so I went over the table and experienced that rather thoroughly. I scrunch my face at leather. It is not my favorite thing. There’s something undeniably nice about getting spanked in front of a bunch of people who like you, though. There was a lot of moral support, praise for being a good girl and holding still, and general “awwwwww”ing, especially when I shed a few tears. Shortly thereafter, Robert got Lily in the same position with a number of straps and he made her more colored than I’d ever seen her before! It’s really fun to watch Robert spanking someone who isn’t me.
ellee had special markers that allowed us to color on the windows and then just wipe it off, so there was window coloring, and therefore much rejoicing. Then Malignus found this stupid plastic snake that we have in our implement bag. I bought it as a joke for a potential “Does This Hurt?” video with Heather Green a long time ago, but we promptly discovered that YES, THIS HURTS. It’s a mofo, no other word for it. Stingy and weight bearing. It leaves these little lines of agony where it lands. Malignus got most of the females in the room with it in various locations. Stupid snake.
It’s actually incredibly difficult to write a chronology of the weekend, because a lot of things happened at once, it’s been a little while, there were 15 different stories being told at once and because many things happened that were very personal for me. I’ll just be skipping around a lot.
We had a lot of great times where a bunch of girls would glomp on the girl who was getting spanked at the moment and hold her hands, stroke her hair, snuggle her, et cetera. It was a sort of house-wide version of the Moral Support Spanking from the last cabin party that I went to, where ellee snuggled me while Malignus spanked me very hard. During these moral support sessions, Amoni frequently called out “You got this!” to support the spankee. It has since become “a thing.”
Sometime on the second day YoggSothoth got me pretty thoroughly with a rawhide switch (which I hate) that WearYouOut and LilLawBrat (who I love despite this) somehow thought it was a good idea to bring with them. Afterwards, my skin was a little nicked up, as is sometimes the case with switchings, I get. Fortunately, ellee is a doctor, so after her husband finished creating my wounds, she easily tended to them and had me back in perfect playing shape (besides being super sore, of course).
|Post switching marks!|
We also had lots of fun times in the hot tub at night, including exciting adventures in Alex taking her shirt off. This lead to me getting spanked in the hot tub (go figure) and one night, upon my return inside, I discovered a group of Tops sitting around talking. Apparently it had somehow become “a thing” that girls returning from the hot tub were to receive a round robin style spanking from everyone in the living room. I was all dripping wet and kind of cold, so I was a little hesitant about this idea. None the less, the circle began with the switches: LilLawBrat and Amoni double teamed me while I lay over both laps at once. Then I moved over to Malignus, who, obviously, spanked me very thoroughly (this *is* my boyfriend that we’re talking about here). Immediately after that, I was over Robert’s lap, at which point I was building up tears. The circle finished with WearYouOut, who has the hardest hand of anyone who has ever spanked me. This broke the tear barrier, which made Robert say “Mmmmmm!”
|Photo by Amoni. You can sort of see where I’m patched up in one spot. You can also see that the color goes so far down my thighs that it basically goes out of frame. 😛|
The next morning, ellee, YoggSothoth, Robert, Whooperine, PTL and myself decided to go on a little nature walk. I was kind of okay with the fact that Malignus was sleeping at this time, since the last time I went on a nature walk with him at a spanking party, this happened:
|Yeah, he’s spanking me with a tree.|
We stopped at a cable spool so that the ladies could take turns bending over it while YS spanked us with his belt. Here’s me:
It was a most enjoyable outdoor spanking, and I really enjoy the way that YS uses a belt. It hurt without being a “this is miserable” kind of hurting. Having amazing underpants that were a gift from ellee didn’t make things worse, either! This particular set of spankings was also noteworthy because PTL got her very first outdoor spanking! I said it was like getting an achievement on PSN. Outdoor spanking unlocked!
We traveled on and came across a series of small, young birch trees. The area that I chose to get a cabin in happened to, entirely by chance, be largely without deciduous trees, so this was a bit of a rarity. As we viewed them, the Tops pointed out that they were very supple and swishy looking and would make excellent switches.
“Oh darn!” I exclaimed. “No one has a knife with them. What a shame. I guess we can’t have any switches.”
Robert pulled a knife out of his pocket. If life was a comic book, there would have been a “SNIKT” sound effect. My face looked like this: -_-.
Shortly after a large number of switches had been cut, we climbed up to a small tree house. We got inside and ellee and I received treehouse switchings. The joy of being in a treehouse and being spanked while viewing an incredible landscape almost took away the sting. Key word: almost.
|ellee got spanked a lot at this party 😛|
Once we got back up to the house with the switches, of course, Malignus got me with one, as well.
|Photo by Amoni again 😀|
This post is getting very long and filled with stories and photos. I have more of them, of course, but I feel like this a good stopping point for now.