Lara Larson and Lily Merriman
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My Dear Lara,                  April 15, 2007
Why thank you ever so much for the kind comments about my New Year’s celebration.  Every year I do strive for the very best.
I’m sure that you could do it too, Lara; perhaps when all your little charges are grown and matured like mine, you can hold a town meeting or small gathering with great success.
Now.  About this “piggy” issue.  You should use it to help you out.  Slowly ease Peder away from the toy by removing it when he is sleeping and allowing him to go for longer periods of time without it.  Then, reward good deeds or progress by allowing him to hold the pig until he happily feels he should do more of the lauded action in order to feel more of this same happiness.
Elementary babe psychology, my dear.
I am glad to hear that you enjoyed my column on the barn clean-up and that by now (your last missive was in January) you have had the time to use it towards cleaning your own barn.  I must admit that I created the article with you and Dolores in mind, as your barns have such a role in the wellness of Pleasantville, particularly yours as you have food sold that comes from inside it.  Surely it will help your food to be of even higher quality if the barn is properly cleaned.
Has Kaya been much trouble recently?  It has been quite a while since I heard about our town’s native and its doings.
Everyone here is simply thriving.  Do reply soon!
Yours, Lily Merriman

Dear Lily,                         January 13th, 2007
You really do know how to hold a nice party, Lily.  Every year the New Years Ball becomes more enjoyable!  I really cannot imagine how it must be to be the host of all the people in Pleasantville, but I certainly do admire you for it.
I am faring quite well at the moment… Peder is sleeping contentedly by the fire and clutching his “pibby.”
You know I do believe he has started making snorting sounds, to imitate a pig!  I can’t think what I should do about it because he is very attached to his stuffed piggy, but I would love to hear any suggestions you might have on the subject. Oh yes- thank you so much for the lovely management column on the barn this week!  I have not yet had the time to work on our barn yet, but I fully intend to as soon as I have the time.
I hope your Christmas was full of merriment!  Of the gifts I had planned to sew, only a few did not get made in time.  However, most of the sewing I have to do is for me now… the girls keep reminding me how badly I need a few new dresses but it is so hard to find the time to start on anything new when there is already so much going on.
When does the sewing circle begin?
Much love, Lara

My Dear Lara,                  11/21/06
How are you faring?  I have just heard how very cold it is downtown right now, so I can only imagine what it must be like for you all the way up there in the mountains.  The chill has come to our home as well, and we are preparing for the long winter.
There are to be so many social events this year that I really must sew myself a proper ballgown, but the time is simply flying past.  Good luck making all those things for your children.  I’m sure they will serve them well during the long winter.  We also will soon begin our holiday decorating and cooking before all the children leave for the Nutcracker rehearsals.
What traditions do you follow down there in the forest?
We are still trying to gather a list of things to do here.  We must light a yule log which will burn through the season, as well as garlands and greenery all ‘round the house.  ‘Tis so good to decorate with fruit and holly and plenty of candles.
Do write soon!  Lily

Dear Lily,                         September 4th, 2006
I completely understand your inability to return my letter immediately.  I am extremely fortunate to have found time to write just now since Peder is being watched by Anna and Kirsten.  I am in the middle of sewing a nightgown for Britta at the moment, and then I plan to make one for myself and a nightshirt for Anders.  Then I will have to embark on making everyone warm underclothes for the winter.  I will certainly make good use of the white flannel I purchased at your shop.  Well I must say that Britta, unlike Rachel, is the least well-behaved of my children.  Sometimes I really don’t know what to do with her!  Why, just yesterday she poured coffee all over Peder’s face!  I don’t know what would compel her to do such a thing, and I can just be thankful that the coffee was not hot!  Anna, on the other hand, is very good with little Peder and loves taking care of him while she does her chores!  We actually have a smaller house now, but we have far more land.  It is hard to fit in a one-room cabin, but we manage.  Good luck with your curtains!  Love, Lara

Dear Lara,                        8.31.06
I deeply am sorry for not responding to you for such a long amount of time.  Our family has recently gone through a move to the seaport in order to send and receive goods on the ships that come to and fro, and thereby have a well-stocked General Store in town.  It has been largely successful so far, as I’m sure you know, and we are still working hard making and importing more goods to make a more diverse and complete selection available.
And how is your family faring?  I have heard word of Peder’s good behavior and I must say you are very lucky to have it so.
Rachel was always such a noisy wee babe, why there were times when I could hardly find the time to do a little sewing, let alone cooking or cleaning as the little thing was so demanding!
However, she has very much calmed down in recent years and is now the best-behaved of my children.  I have heard about your new home on the hill from Dolores on my daily walk.  Is it a bigger house for your growing family?  That makes complete sense; why with
Nan and William in the same household, I sometimes wonder how they can manage to keep all of my furniture intact during their antics.
Just now they nearly burnt the house down in their haste to finish their duties and be able to work at the store.
Perhaps whilst they are gone, I shall use the temporary peace to measure for my new curtains, as I desperately need them!
Well, please do reply with all the latest news! 
Yours truly, Lily Merriman

My Dear Lara,
I am so happy for you in your new circumstance with baby Peder arrived and all your family in a lovely new home.
How are you keeping up with your new responsibility now?  It has always seemed easier for me to manage four children than it did when there were only three- simply because Lissie has become so old now and doesn’t do much at all, so my only worries are the younger ones.  Why, even
Nan no longer causes trouble wherever she goes as it used to be.  What a relief that is after all these years of chasing her helter-skelter all over hill and dale!
Yours sincerely, Lily Merriman

Dear Lily,                         Feb. 7.06
I am sorry for the late reply but I have been dreadfully ill with the influenza for the last few weeks.  I don’t really want to think what the consequences of my illness might have been had Josefina not come to my rescue!  I was also guarded by Kaya, who cooked me some delicious soups and chased away unwanted visitors such as Suzanne Wickon, who had come to yell at me for not being at the food stand.
It is indeed true!  There is a baby on the way!  It is due in a few months.  It sure seems to be a healthy one and very energetic!  Kirsten is convinced that it will be a girl but Kaya firmly believes it to be otherwise. The snow has (at last) melted away and Anders is eager to begin planting the crops.  How is your family?  Any news?  Well, I really must get dinner started.  I am making corn salad and it takes a while.  Write soon, Lily!  I will see you at the Parkington’s sewing circle.
Love, Lara

Dear Lara,                        December 24, 2005
Thank you so much for your speedy reply.  Yes, all has been resolved since I wrote last.  The Nutcracker has forced Edward to take an entire month off his job, and while we have not all yet been able to take a family dinner, I’m sure there will be plenty of those this yuletide.
We just returned from the Nutcracker today.  All of the people in our family are in the ballet, so it’s been a while since we were all here at the house together.  We’re getting ready for our yuletide celebration as I write. 
The lassies are in the front room working out a little performance for Edward and I.  It’s a new tradition that I hope we can keep going.  ‘Tis such a lovely way for all of them to work together.
What is the yule season for thee?  What traditions does your family go through on this happy night of nights?  I know that this letter will most likely not reach you until after the season, but my curiosity will be just as sincere then, I assure thee.  And oh!  Aye, what news your last letter has brought me!  A new infant!  And when?  For you must be sure to see Edward for his advice.  He is an expert in these matters and could help you with the process considerably.
Best of Greetings!  Lily Merriman

Dear Lily,                         10/16/05
I am very sorry to hear about your argument with Edward.  I hope that it has been resolved since you last wrote.  My family is all well and busy as usual, and our food stand has never been better.  Goodness, Winter is coming so quickly!  There is so much to do around here; candle dripping, harvesting, building our new cabin, sewing warm winter clothes, etc.  The girls have been such a help this harvest season.  Anna is so diligent and hardworking, Kirsten’s weavings are beautiful and even Britta has been taking excellent care of the animals.  Also, Lily, there just might be a new addition to the family this winter!  Please do not tell anyone about this though, as I am not completely sure yet.  Just recently a wolf attacked our chickens and Kaya attempted to squish it but it turned right around and nearly squished her!  Luckily Anders shot it before it did too much damage, but Kaya did end up with some nasty cuts.  Nothing that boiled bark and herbs won’t heal though.  Oh no!!!  The pig got into the kitchen!!
Love, Lara

My Dear Lara,                  9/6/05
What a long time it has been since I last wrote to you!  I just realized how dreadfully behind I am on my correspondence.  Right now I’m very distressed because Edward has been very rude and hasn’t come home from the hospital and then finally he came home and I decided to ignore him, so we haven’t spoken to each other for such a long time!
Sincerely, Lily Merriman

Dear Lara,                       
How is life coming along over in your area of our bustling city lately?  I am so sorry that I haven’t bothered to write in so many months.  I’ve been troubled with quite a few recent events- the sickness of our dog, Scruffy, the illness of our maid, Sunny, and our house being filled with camera-men and prop-men and directors due to the movie that Nan agreed to star in.  I’ll be quite relieved when ‘tis all over and done with, such a mess it does make of one’s nerves.
I am writing now to ask your assistance in a pet project of mine.  As I’m sure you know, my daughter Rachel has had a rather strange attitude over the past few months, largely due, I’m afraid, to my unfortunate over-interest in the fashions of the current time.  She has become so very changed that Celine’s and my attempts to bring her back to normality have not been completely successful.  So I have decided to take drastic action.
Would you, Lara, be so loving and amiable as to take care of Rachel at your cabin for seven days?  I could think of no one but you at this current time that could do her more good.  She needs to experience a different lifestyle; and I would love for her to be around your girls, particularly Anna, as a good influence to her in lessons of hard work and simple living.  Could you agree to this?  If you could, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Best wishes, yours sincerely, Lily Merriman


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