Friday, November 25, 2011


When I began Second Life I never dreamed that creating holiday themed special attractions would become part of my repertoire. The haunted corn maze grew out of my garden business - and the curiosity as to how much it would cost for my customers to trick out their purchase for Halloween.  

Building the maze was fun and I got back my expenses in tips. But the special attraction was by no means a money making proposition and had Ample Clarity not given me access to the land around his PrimPossible furniture store for my garden business in return for landscaping, I would have lost money. Never the less, theme parks got under my skin and I wanted to try my hand at a winter wonderland.

Ample moved his store to 1 Prim Island and not only did I have my garden store to set up again - there was a whole homestead to landscape!

I deliberated for a long time how to best do the snowscape and where.  Should I make the winterland in a skybox accessed by walking through a magic wardrobe like Narnia? If I made it on the sim proper how do I transition from snow to temperate climes in just a few steps?  It took a bit of doing but I learned how to manipulate terrain textures and created a winter quarter of the island.

This sculpted Fairy Castle Bridge by Nekka with an ice texture was the ticket to keeping WinterPark as its own special place.  Just add toy soldiers!     

It looks a little Disney – especially with that carousel.  Which also came with snuggles.

As it turns out - besides skating…

And sledding…

Snuggling is one of the most popular winter sports in SL!

That's judging by how all the winter structures like the skating hut and igloo just seemed to come packed full of snuggles.

And then there is the Ice Dancing Ring. What’s slow dancing but choreographed cuddles?

WinterPark turned out to be a 
heck of a lot more romantic than a spooky Halloween maze, but it still has plenty of other attractions.

Like the toboggan ride,

Hitch a ride with Santa on his sleigh,

Ride the Christmas Train
to wine country,

Build a snowman, 

 make angels in the snow.

Or just chill out and chat with friends at the Christmas house

So stop on by and say hi! 
There’s always room at the table.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Happy Halloween

To make a few Lindens to afford my “Someday Sim” I opened a garden store on the Marketplace (XStreet).  My friend Ample Clarity, of the one prim piano fame, was in need of some landscaping and invited me to open my 1 prim garden store on his land.  So I did.

I started with vegetables, and since it’s fall, autumn trees.   

Cornfields are my best seller, and dried cornfields have really picked up with the season. 

That gave me the idea to make a cornfield maze on the back 40 (well really 64m).

The next thing you know I turned it into a cornfield maze skybox.

I did it because I came to SL to find an outlet for my creativity. It turned out pretty cool.  The skybox is only 58 prims. It can be used for a club or sim Halloween party. I doubt if I will sell many.  The maze is made up of over 46 rows of plants, so while I am selling it as a set for a 1/3 of its retail plant value, 999L$, that is pretty high end.  And that is just for the cornfield maze without decorations.  

I wondered how much it would cost someone to trick the maze out, so I went shopping on Xstreet. There are a lot of nice Halloween freebies out there. I found I could decorate the whole maze for about 77L$ on freebies and cheapies - most of which where one or two prims.  But I couldn't stop myself - the next thing you know I was turning the cornfield maze into a haunted attraction. 

I wanted my cornfield maze to be interactive, so I bought animations - nothing over 100L.

What do I mean by interactive?   Nothing is more interactive than a dance floor and it is the first stop in the maze. This Halloween dance floor with fog, pumpkin poofers and lasers was only 1L$!   

People can bring their friends to party. 

I guarantee they will have really hot time!

Burning at the Stake, 75L$, 

But beware! Giant spiders freely roam the corn maze and will sneak up from behind to attack!
 These critters are not only creepy but they are my favorite Halloween FREEBIE!  

Where there are spiders, 
there are spider webs.

Even though I tricked out the maze with stuff from the marketplace, setting it all up was bloody murder. 

But it was worth the sacrifice.

I was just about ready to put a lid on my shopping spree when I realized the maze needed some spooks flying over head. I looked for something like the headless horseman.  I searched for an animated pumpkin ghost and found one I could wear for 9L$. . 

If I could wear it, I could drop it above the maze, but could I animate it?  Out of curiosity I visited the creator’s sim,  Wingsong Dojo,  and discovered there was also a spectral  companion ghost for 9L$ 

The creator, Kit Ciaco was there. I told her I was looking for a flying version and she had them in her pocket.   Kit is a sweetheart. She has great stuff at low prices and scores of freebies on her sim.

 Her interactive tombstone, 9L$   emits fog and has such a great array of spooky sounds I turned them transparent and hid them thought the maze.

I kept changing my mind on where I wanted them. Finding and moving transparent prims hidden in those cornstalks was a bear. It was enough to make me sit down and cry.

But I didn’t stay down for long.

I still had the “story room” to go. So I rolled up my sleeves got to work.

Can you tell I really dig Edgar Allen Poe?

What’s Halloween without sitting around a fire telling ghost stories?  Admiral Constantine and Ample dropped by to swap stories.  That lantern is loaded with them.
Hallowe'en Ghost Story Reader in Lantern, 49L$,,  Campfire with Sits for 6, 25L$
And you cant have Halloween party without bobbing for apples!
Bobbing for apples, 50L$,

Those are the highlights of Cara Cali’s Haunted Interactive Cornfield Maze. I’ve made a list of everything I bought and put them on a note card so folks can find them easily: lots of freebies and nothing over 100L$. You can pick it up at the maze and play with the animations at

Come by and say hi!  You will probably find me hanging somewhere about the sim.

Gallows, 50L$. , Ghastly Ghost Freebie

Note: All products listed here were purchased on the marketplace to decorate the maze I built in the manner described.  I have included the links for the convenience of my readers. This is not an advertising blog and their creators did not solicit my endorsement.  

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thar Be Pirates

You meet all types in Second Life. Just the other day I wandered though Builder’s Brewery looking for building tips and construction freebies and I ran into a pirate. A quick click on profile and sure enough he was from La Dominique (, a pirate role playing sim.   

I came to Second Life to role play, and there was so much to learn, the basics of the mainstream was more than enough to take on. Still occasionally I would explore. Every once in a while I would check out some RP sim (Role Playing Simulation) looking for one I would like. Some, like Erie, had greeters, but I hated being the inquisitive noob and taking up too much of their time. Most of the time I just wandered around with an observer tag on exploring the sim and trying to learn the game by watching. But there was seldom anyone about these sims to observe. Most of them were quite deserted. And now standing in front of me, in all of his swashbuckling glory, was a pirate – and probably from an active sim.

I struck up a conversation with him and got the LM (landmark teleport coordinates) from him. The next day I called my friend Theaz and after a quick change into 18th century garb, we were off exploring.

We wandered about La Dominique, a fascinatingly beautiful,

Wild and mysterious,

Fortified island

Riddled with hidden caves

And Native temples.  

There were signs of recent habitation, but the island was as forlorn and deserted as Roanoke.

Nary a living soul was about unless you count gorillas, jaguars and parrots.

“Where is everybody?” asked Theaz, before she left for day job, leaving me to explore on my own.

Where indeed?  
There was still plenty to see so I climbed up to the citadel, fired the cannon to check it range and only then did I notice the intended target. Ship were moored on the atolls across the straights. 

I checked my map and sure enough there was another glowing dot.

 I flew to towards the atoll but was forced landed when I tried to pass over the island in-between. Apparently not all pirate sims allow flight.

I watched as the captain unfurled the canvas and set sail. This ship carried 12 guns and was extremely graceful.

“You missed her,” the pelican seemed to mock me. “I can fly but you are stranded.”  

All too true. What to do? What to do? It wasn’t much of an isle here to explore.  No flight.  I could teleport back to La Dominique, or home. Too bad I didn’t have a landmark for other pirate sims. As I was contemplating what to do about my stranded status another pirate appeared.

I IM’d him a hello. “Hello, you can use local talk.” came the answer in Spanish and repeated in near coherent English by the computerized translator.  “Do you live here?” I asked. 

“I am from La Dominique,” he replied. “So how do you like?”

“It’s lovely.” But, “I am wonder what is involved in becoming a pirate.”

“You are pretty. You make good pirate”

“Thank you,” I said, “But I would think cunning and skill count for more in the pirate trade.”

A stream of untranslatable Spanish patter crossed local chat followed by “You sail, you fight.”

“I don’t know how to sail or fight, but I would like to learn.”  Again, another long stream of Spanish that amounted to, “Fight simple SDP. Dress this. You learn.”

Dress this? Oh those translators – must mean WEAR this. So l did.  A heath meter appeared above my head, it was at about 15%. “Say /1 heal,” commanded the Spaniard.  My health meter went to 100% “Now you can fight. Hit me.”

“With what? I said. “I have no weapons.” 

“Fists. Escape M, left click.”  So I tried it – left clicking furiously all over his swarthy visage. It seemed to have no effect.  He then drew his sword, and faster than you can say sushi, I lay dead on the quay, his diabolical laughter ringing muhahaha through the chat line.

“/1 heal,” I wrote in chat and popped up like a jack in the box.

“You learn quick,” said the Spaniard.  “Hit me.”

Again I went to mouse view using escape M, and left clicked on him several times. A moment’s pause followed by swish, slash, thrust - Cara sushi.

“/1 heal,” I resurrected myself.  “This isn’t fair. You have a sword and I am unarmed.”
“You have fists,” Said the Spaniard. “Hit me.”

“Fists aren’t working!” I opened my inventory and put on six shooter I had picked up at a wild west sim. It was anachronistic for the period, and I had no idea if it would work on with the pirate fight system, but I trusted it would make my point.  I unloaded all six rounds in fast succession at him.  No effect.  “This gun may not work here, but it felt good to fight back.” I said.

“Here, use this.” He gave me a musket.

Two shots to his midsection and his health went down with each to 35%. That had to smart.

“I am still alive.” He grinned.

“Not for long,” I thought. “You are doomed to bleed out, or suffer a slow painful death by peritonitis.” (Hey! I watch PBS, too.) But this wasn’t real life, it was Second Life. Judging from the rate in which I could rise from the dead and get back in the game, apparently, third, fourth, fifth life etc., by these fight rules.  Instead of firing at his torso as one would with a musket in the heat battle, I took careful aim at my obliging target’s heart. He dropped like a rock.

/1 heal in local chat and up he rose, sword drawn coming for me. Jeeze Louis! Who is this guy?  Tulkas, The Terminator? Brown Bess had a bayonet so this time I had a fighting chance to block, bludgeon and thrust - which I tried. Slash, slash! When my health got below 70% I figured it was time to practice my dodging skills. I zigged, I zagged, and still he nailed me.  I put trees between him and me. He came round and I ducked behind some barrels.

“Stand and fight,” he roared. “I teach, you!”

“Discretion is the better part of valor,” said I. “I am out weaponed and outclassed … and I think I should read up on the fight meter to see how it works first.”

Spanish words stormed untranslated though the chat line, but the gist seemed to be “You are no fun at all,” said as he walked  away.

“Nice meeting you, too.” I called after him. “Thanks for the lesson!”

Just then another IM came  in from Arin. “I see you have met Tulkas. He is quite a character.”
“You’re telling me!”
“Want to go sailing?” 
“TP  me!” He didn't have to ask twice.

Off we were on the high seas, sails full, with the wind whipping through my hair, round islands, citadels and towns, past kraken and merfolk.  Until we hit the sim border and poof, the ship disappears right out from under us.

I was still wearing my health meter which dutifully told me

I can breathe! I can’t swim! 


I try to fly when…

Cara Cali is down!

There I am at the bottom of Davy Jones’ locker wondering what happens next when a TP from Arin come in. 

“Sim’s buggy today,” he said, as my dead, lifeless body washed up at his feet. “I have a swim AO.”

“I’ll add that to my shopping list.  Swim Animation Overide, pirate clothes, pistol and cutlass. Anything else I might need?”

“A ship.”

My eyes grew as big as saucers! A ship! I can get a ship!  It’s allowed? I don’t have to be a member of a group, have docking rights, pass a test or know the secret handshake?

“This is the tavern on La Dominique. I have some correspondence to attend.” I looked and he was sitting feet propped up as if had always been there.

I grabbed a goblet of wine from inside the tavern to wash the salt out of my throat and sat down beside him.  I looked out at the sparking Second Life sea and reflected on the day’s adventures: I had explored an island, fired cannon, sailed on a galleon, and been slashed, hacked and drowned until dead three times over. All in all, a jolly fun day! 

Yes, you meet all kinds in Second Life.

And “Yes,” I said raising my glass, “The beauty of SL is I can be any kind I want to be.” 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Home Sweet Linden Home Part 1: Weeks 1 to 8

I was three weeks into my Second Life and running to public dressing rooms every time I needed to change clothes was getting old. Then the day came when I teleported to NCI, Kuula to change and was promptly IM’d by one of the elders that there was no nudity allowed. Oops. Ever have that dream where you are standing naked in front of a crowd of people?  It was time to find a home to call my own.

Should I rent or should I own?  Most of the rentals I had seen were 200 Linden Dollars per week, for one hundred prims (not that I knew what prims were at the time).  One of my new friends recommended getting a Linden home. They are free with a premium account which also doles out a weekly stipend of 300L. By this time it was clear to me I liked Second Life and would continue playing, so it seemed fair to become a member and support SLs’ continuation.  I did the math and it turned out that stipend made it less expensive to be a premium member (paid quarterly) and own a Linden home than to rent. 
Less 300L Weekly Stipend
Per Week USD 
Per Month USD
Per Annum USD
($1USD = 250LD)

Per Week  Linden
Per Month Linden
Per Annum Linden

It is the best minimum parcel land deal for a residence on the grid since the house comes with menu driven curtains, shutters and security system that also does not count against your prim allotment. You get the full 117 prims/512m to decorate your home. You can see the info on the Linden homes here

Linden Homes are strictly residential and not for everybody – they have restrictions - among other things they cannot be used for business and you can’t build on them. Build? At the time I was a newbie still having trouble rezzing boxes let alone making one, so a planned community sounded fine to me.   I just wanted a landmark called home and a place to change cloths in private. I went for the Meadowbrook and choose the Overlook model that had an indoor pool.

It was my next big learning experience. The first thing I learned was how to move objects around using the edit arrows as I turned the pool into an indoor meditation garden. 

The second thing I learned was how to use Alt+Cntl+T and “Place Profile” (on the location bar) to find and retrieve the lotus I had sunk below the pool and half way back to China.

Once that was up I started rezzing free furniture like crazy and very soon I came up against that 117 prim limit (see 5).  Most of the free furniture was ugly and high prim. Prims (primitives), I soon learned were the building blocks of all objects in Second Life: a table would typically be 5 prims, 4 legs and a top ( The well detailed furniture I liked was high prim and expensive so I backed off on decorating for a while. I was satisfied with having a place to call home and to change. Apparently most of my neighbors feel the same way - the surrounding houses are, by in large, uninhabited, empty or sparsely furnished. 

Then one day I was introduced to someone with a fully furnished Linden home. It was a cozy model consisting of a living room and bedroom, but Royal had done a good job of coordinating the furniture with art and rugs.  

My place was a vast empty void in comparison. It gave me the decorating bug.

I was off to Xstreet for a couch, tables and chairs. Of all the free furniture I had acquired in my first few weeks in SL, the only ones that worked for me were a rug and wardrobe from Yak and Yeti (one of the most beloved and blogged about freebie spots on the grid and very much worth the trip .  

I had this big blank wall that was perfect for a kitchen. I know it’s crazy but I wanted to be able to offer people a cup of coffee when they stopped by.   I found the “Blanche” by searching for “Linden Home” and then choosing “furniture” on the Marketplace (Xstreet). It took up 18 prims.

I soon discovered Xstreet listings often had links so my avatar could check out items in world.  Other furniture and furniture stores can be found by searching “Low Prim” on Xstreet and in-world.  Lok’s is probably the biggest of the low prim furniture dealers, but the least expensive is “Pop Art Furniture” where most of the items are just 1L and fairly low prim.  .
Seeing furniture in world is the best way to make sure the piece fits your prim budget. Right click the item and choose edit. The prim count is on the right.

Next I learned to make my own one prim pictures out of flattened  boxes and uploaded my favorite paintings by Mongolian artist, Soyolma Davaakhu (yes, I have permission ).

 That small black box you see embedded into the wall below the picture is a music stream controller from the freebie vendor at the NCI.  Controlling your own music is a land-owning plus renters don’t always get.

Call me Goldilocks – in one day I acquired three beds.  One was too small, one was a prim hog and unfortunately the one that was just right – only 18 prims, good style with full menu, for only 100L, is no longer available on Xstreet or I would give you the link.
A few 1 prim cabinets and tables and there I was knocking against the 117 prim limit again so that sometimes I couldn't rez boxes. The house was still sparsely furnished in my eyes. It lacked all the small personal things that make a house a home.  I could easily use 50-100 more prims. I had done my best, learned a lot while doing it, and now it was time to let go of the idea that I could ever make a Linden home look like a real life home and move onto some other creative project.

But there was one thing more I wanted for my home.  Second Life is for doing all the things you can only dream of doing in real life. I have always wanted to play the piano.  I think I would have emptied the house to have a piano. But I didn’t have to.  Finding THE piano was one of the most fun hunts I have undertaken since landing on the grid, and doing so spurred round three of my personal Linden home decorating challenge.

For a preview of the star of that story go to