Monday, August 31, 2009

Grace Haven: GAC Challenge Completion!

I got up early Sunday evening and made my bed,

and checked my mail. I found that the contact lenses I'd ordered (at Jon's suggestion: "You've got such pretty eyes, Grace--it's a shame to hide them!") had arrived.

I put my hair in a ponytail (also at Jon's suggestion: "You've got such a delicate face, Grace--it's a shame to hide it!") and called up Jon and invited him over. I was excited to show him my new look!

He arrived shortly thereafter--talk about a new look!!!

I was completely unprepared for the old-looking guy who showed up at my front door. "Jon?" I asked. "Is that really you?"

He smiled ruefully. "I told you I was getting old, Grace."

"But you look soooooo different!" I blurted out. He looked so crestfallen at my reaction that there was only one thing to do--

"I'm just surprised, that's all," I stammered by way of explanation. "You're still really handsome."

We went inside, and Jon watched some arts program on TV,

while I made us dinner.

"Grace, the other band members voted me out of Mercy Hellhole," he told me as soon as we sat down to eat.

I was shocked. "Can they do that?" I asked.

"They sure can," he said. "They told me I was 'insufficiently committed'."

"That's terrible!" I cried. "And surely not true!!"

"No, Grace, it's true," he answered. "I think I've been honest with you that I haven't been happy in the band for some time--that it's no longer the kind of music I want to play. Plus, the band's performance schedule is so grueling that I don't have enough time to do anything else." He paused. "Still, it was a shock to be voted out--it made my hair turn gray overnight!"

"You've said that the band owns the house where you live," I said. "Does that mean they kicked you out of the house, too?"

"Unfortunately, yes," he admitted. "Will you let me stay here?"

"Of course, Jon," I assured him. We ate in silence for a few minutes. I really didn't know what else to say.

"I thought I had the rest of my life planned out," he sighed. "All of a sudden, everything's in flux."

I panicked. "Does this mean you feel differently about starting a family right away?"

"No--not at all," he said. "It's just that we won't have a lot of money till I get my musical career going again. My money's unfortunately tied up with the band's finances, and I may have to sue them to get my share."

"Don't you worry about that, Jon," I told him, trying to sound as reassuring as possible. "I make enough money for us to get by for the time being, and I'm positive you'll find work soon."

I asked if he felt like talking more, or going to a movie, but he said he'd just like to take a nap. So, I gave him a kiss and went out fishing.

Fishing is a good way to clear my mind, I've found. Whenever I'm anxious about something, it always helps just to do a long cast, and stare out over the water.

I fished all Sunday night and into Monday morning, and had a pretty successful outing. I sold my catch at the grocery for more than $5,000,

went home to tend my garden and encourage my plants--especially my onion plant, which I was just sure was about to produce a Perfect harvest,

and went to sleep till nearly midnight.

When I got up I sent a Luminorious gem I'd found off to the gemcutter,

and, since I had nothing else to do (Jon was out renewing contacts and trying to line up some gigs), I went to the Sunflower Spa for a facial. (Jon's been teasing me about my eyebrows--he says they look like 'two dead caterpillars'--so I decided to remedy the situation.)

Fortunately, it's a 24-hour spa, because I didn't get there till well after 3:00 a.m.

You know how they say "A watched pot never boils"? Well, once I'd left my garden and was occupied doing something else, my onion plant produced a Perfect harvest, and I satisfied my Lifetime Wish a little after 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, which was Day 38 of my GAC Challenge.

I reviewed the Goals I'd achieved:

Level 10 in each of Cooking, Fishing, and Gardening,

a Perfect Garden,

the Amateur Ichthyologist sub-challenge,

the Menu Maven sub-challenge,

and the Super Green Thumb reward.

My lot, furnished, was worth $30,667,

I had $12, 904 in Household Funds,

I'd also completed the (not required) Botanical Boss sub-challenge,

and I had 71,651 unused Lifetime Happiness points.

So, my final score for the GAC Challenge was 150,882 points!

I called Gardenia immediately to tell her, despite the hour, and she was thrilled for me. "Imagine that!" she said. "You beat my score and found a husband, too!"

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next time, as Grace and Jon start their life together.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Grace Haven: Days 34 - 35

Though I had been nervous about having Jon stay over, he was a perfect gentlemen, and I slept really well. We got up early on Friday, and he took a shower (no--I didn't peek!),

while I made us pancakes for breakfast.

"So, how soon can we get married?" Jon asked me as we sat down to eat.

"I think it's a matter of just a couple days or so," I assured him animatedly. "I've had harvests from 7 Perfect plants already, and I've got this Perfect quality onion plant, and I'm just waiting till it produces."

"You're too funny," he said, taking another bite.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"You're just so cute, that's all. You're so passionate about all this stuff--gardening, fishing, cooking. And I know nothing about any of it," he added.

"Well, you're passionate about Mercy Hellhole," I countered, "and I know nothing about the band--except that you play in it."

He looked down at his plate, and didn't say anything. I felt I'd said the wrong thing (though I couldn't imagine how).

He was silent for a while, just sitting there chewing and frowning. Then, just as I was starting to clean up, he brightened and said, "Hey, it looks like you've redecorated a bit--didn't this dining set used to be gray wood, and now it's brown?"

I told him yes, and that he'd convinced me to vary my color palette a bit. "And since you told me that brown's your favorite color, I thought I'd change some of the furniture to a natural, dark wood stain."

"Looks good," he nodded.

I was happy he'd snapped out of whatever he'd been dwelling on so seriously.

I continued. "Though I don't know if you want to live here after we're married--maybe you want us to live in your huge house, with the pool and the outdoor stage?"

He frowned, didn't respond, and went back to contemplating his pancakes closely.

Jon said nothing further while I cleaned up after breakfast. He changed into his swimsuit and went out to the yard to play in the sprinkler.

'I wonder what's going on with him?' I asked myself, looking out the kitchen window back toward the river.

I got dressed to go fishing and stopped to talk to Jon on my way out.

"Jon, it's completely fine if you want to move in here once we're married," I explained. "I just thought you might not want to leave your own house, and I wanted to be sensitive to your feelings."

"That house belongs to the band, Grace--it belongs to Mercy Hellhole. And I don't think you'd be comfortable there--there are always hangers-on, and innumerable people traipsing through. And it's certainly no place to raise kids."

I headed out to fish. 'Oh, so that's all it was,' I told myself.

I stayed out fishing the whole afternoon,

and returned home to go to bed a little after 7:00 p.m. Jon had already left (as I had expected), but again he'd left me a nice note thanking me for my hospitality.

I had another very good night's sleep, and stayed in bed till 2:00 a.m. Saturday.

I got up and sold the gnome I had caught, for $1,000,

and went out to the graveyard, to fish for Angelfish and Deathfish.

I sold all the Deathfish plus the one shark I'd caught, for more than $5,000,

then headed over to the Science Facility to catch Robot Fish.

(I had contractors at the house all day Sunday, refinishing the floors, the kitchen cabinets, and the interior door and window jambs--changing them from gray to a natural dark wood stain--so I was trying to stay out of the workmen's way.)

I fished till I ran out of Piranha bait, then sold my Robot Fish plus a couple of Black Goldfish, for more than $1,000.

I stopped by my house briefly to check on my Perfect onion plant--its Growth State had now changed from "Growing" to "Mature", so I knew I'd achieve my Perfect Garden LTW very soon.

With nothing else to do (it was Saturday night, so Jon was playing a concert at the stadium with Mercy Hellhole), I went out fishing for the third time that day, this time to two spots in the branch of the river that's southeast of my lot. The first spot is near a big rock that's in the middle of the river,

and the second is just before the small bridge.

I had a good outing, and fished till after midnight. I went back to the grocery, and sold the catch for over $5,500.

I went back to my house Sunday morning, and bought some new furnishings--some chandeliers and wall sconces, another kitchen counter, a trash compactor, a blender, and some rugs. If Jon and I are really going to live here, I might as well make it nice and homey.

I didn't spend all my money, though--if I'm lucky, I'll have to be furnishing a nursery before long!

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next time, when Grace finally achieves her LTW, and gets a big surprise from Jon.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Grace Haven: Days 32 - 33

I can't for the life of me remember what the heck I did for the rest of Tuesday; I lost my notes. I figure I must have gone collecting, and I certainly went fishing, and I certainly tended my garden.

I got up Wednesday a bit after 8:30 a.m.,

sent off the gems in my inventory to the gemcutter,

and tended my garden. I was unable to improve my potato vine,

because the produce from the Outstanding vine was only Outstanding itself,

but I was able to improve my garlic plant, from Outstanding to Perfect.

I didn't rip out the Outstanding garlic plant, though, because I use so much garlic for catching Vampire Fish. Maybe having 2 plants of my own will mean I don't have to steal from the Carpenter-Rhodes garden any more....

I got two gems back from the gemcutter (which I must have sent out yesterday, though I don't remember doing so)--one yellow sapphire and one emerald.

I sold them and, given what I received for them, I think it was probably worth paying $10 to have the yellow sapphire cut, but not the emerald.

Still, I've been told I have to get the emerald cut done 5 times in order to be offered better quality cuts, and it sure would be nice to have better quality cuts available for the Luminorious gems, in case I find any more.

I now had enough money to buy a sofa (so that I don't always have to read the newspaper on the toilet!), but not enough to buy the TV I want (and I think Jon would like to be able to watch TV when he's here).

So, I went out to make some money fishing.

I fished for hours,

and hours,

and got so tired that I had to take a nap at the Riverview Swim Club,

before I could make it to the grocery to sell my catch.

When I woke up, I sold my catch for $3,588,

which--together with the nearly $2,000 I already had--gave me enough money to buy a lamp and a rug,

the TV I wanted,

a dresser,

and some exterior lighting.

I was out working in the garden Thursday afternoon when Jon surprised me by dropping by.

He snuck up behind me and kissed me.

"Grace!" he exclaimed. "What a happening look you've got going!!"

Slightly embarrassed, I reminded him that he'd lectured me that I should always wear a hat while I was outdoors because of my very pale skin.

He didn't say anything in response--he just stood there grinning at me.

Because I felt I had to say something, I blurted out that I'd bought a new TV.

"Gee, there's one reason to go indoors," he teased.

We went inside and kissed again.

I squeezed him around the shoulders and he winced. "Sorry," he explained, "I think I have a touch of bursitis." So, I gave him a massage.

I don't actually know what bursitis is, but I hope it's not serious.

We went to watch my new TV,

and he complimented me on my taste in decorating. "You might consider some color other than gray, at some point, though," he offered, haltingly.

He kissed me again, and it was pretty intense.

I broke away. "What's your favorite color, Jon?" I stammered.

"Brown," he answered, smiling. "As in 'golden, brown, and delicious'--are you going to try to make me dinner again?"

"Sure," I said, laughing, but relieved. (I'm not really ready for anything intensely physical, though I'm just crazy about Jon. I don't have a lot of experience. Okay...I don't have any experience.)

While I cooked us an early dinner, Jon cooled off in one of my sprinklers.

My goodness--he looks cute in his swimsuit!

I called him in to eat whatever it is that I made (I don't actually remember what it was).

"This is fabulous, Grace," he complimented me. "Are you going to cook like this all the time when we're married?"

"Absolutely," I promised him. "Are we really getting married?"

He looked shocked, and a bit hurt. "Of course we're getting married--why would you think we're not?"

I fumbled around, and gave him some sort of non-response.

"Look, Grace," he said firmly. "The only reason we're not married already is because of your danged GAC Challenge and its rules."

"Well," I admitted, "I can't have you move in before I'm finished, but that doesn't mean I can't ask you to stay over before I'm finished."

I can't believe I said that, but my bold words hung in the air.

"I'd like that, Grace," Jon said, smiling again. "But no pressure," he reassured me.

"Hey," he added, "you look tired. Why don't you take a nap while I clean up? It'll sort of make up for the other night, when you let me sleep and I left my dirty plate on your dining table."

Jon didn't have to make the offer twice--I was exhausted.

He cleaned up after our dinner, then practiced guitar for a while. I woke up a couple of times, and could hear him through the walls.

I got up from my nap after about an hour, and went out to see him.

"Oh--I was just about to join you!" he said, sounding a little disappointed.

I told him I really needed to spend at least an hour taking care of my garden.

"It's just that, the sooner I get 8 Perfect plants, the sooner we can start our life together," I explained.

"Okay," he said. "I'm cool with that," and headed into the bedroom.

I harvested my garden, and weeded it,

checked my mail and paid my bills,

and then decided to fertilize some of my plants.

In retrospect, I guess I just kept finding more chores to do, in order to avoid a discussion--or worse, a confrontation--with Jon as to whether we'd become intimate before marriage or not.

There, I said it.

I was tired, and needed to go to sleep. I decided against wearing my usual short nightie, and instead changed into an undershirt (I think it's called a "wife-beater") and sweatpants.

I slipped into bed, trying very hard not to wake Jon. But he snuggled up behind me, anyway.

"No funny stuff," I cautioned, sounding somewhat more cross than I meant to.

"Don't worry," he said, kissing the nape of my neck. "I'm way too tired. Besides, I'm an old guy, remember?"

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next time, when Jon and Grace have a serious talk about their future, and Grace gets oh-so-close to her Perfect Garden LTW.