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November – December 2019
Thanksgiving was coming, and Janie had been thinking for months about what she’d like to get for Micah for Christmas. If only she had a job that paid more than part-time high school coach, she’d be able to help him get the equipment he really needed to be able to get a contract for the organic grocery chain. That’s part of the reason she’d been scrimping so much, to save money for tuition for online courses, once she could have the time, and a computer, to be able to enroll. Once she had a college degree, then she could really earn money to help with the farm. And eventually, work towards her dream of becoming a lawyer.
Likewise, Micah had been working hard, and his gardening skills were truly amazing. A couple of years ago, he’d laughed at the idea of talking to plants, but now, he seemed to truly be each green sprout’s friend.
However, with the budget Janie had to work with, she thought to herself, she’d probably have to settle for getting him new hiking socks, or a new bug book. And he would enjoy those. Whenever Micah had any extra time, hiking and bug hunting were his hobbies. But Janie did not think that those everyday kind of gifts were enough to show Micah how much she loved him.
One day in late November, there were snow flurries at dawn, and a freeze warning, and Janie helped Micah get the last of the apples in before the hard freeze. This year’s crop were gorgeous, deep red, with crisp, tart bite and wonderful zingy sweetness.
No matter how much work they had on the farm, Janie always made time to work out, too. She usually jogged every morning, and often did calisthenics on the living room floor. However, she’d recently procured an old punching bag the school was getting rid of, and put it in the room that would one day be the nursery. It was nice to be able to get a strenuous cardio work out inside on a wintry day.
The week after Thanksgiving, Janie got on the team bus and headed off to the girl’s basketball championship in Grand Pass.
Micah missed Janie so much when she travelled, but even though he could have fallen into a hermit lifestyle, he stuck to his routine. He still got up around 4:30 AM to do the first set of farm chores.
He kept the house orderly, even though it was just him.
While cleaning up around the pond, he even found an old dog food dish, probably left by Erle’s grandson in the summer.
The greenhouse plants, mostly eggplants this season, were coming along beautifully, and the new ladybugs really helped reduce the loss to bugs, but he knew to take the next step towards making it with the farm, they needed hired help.
He had just enough money from the apple harvest, which fetched top dollar, to put away to hire someone for a few peak days at planting and harvest. And once he could afford ladybugs in the orchard, it would really help cut down on the time it took him to maintain the trees’ health.
In the late afternoons, when his work was usually done, Micah kept busy. It helped him to do something constructive instead of just daydreaming about when they would be able to start a family. He was currently studying fire safety.
Janie loved Micah, but she enjoyed the trips away. She made friends with the other coaches; it was nice to find others who shared her interest in fitness and sports.
And Falls Bridge didn’t have a gym, or a Y, but when they were travelling, she usually had more work out options, either at the hotel, the host school, or a local gym.
One day while doing a long workout on the bike trainer at the tournament, Janie decided what to get for Micah, and she knew how she’d pay for it. She was so excited, she couldn’t keep it to herself. She told her new friend, Sadie, who was a girls’ coach as well.
As soon as Janie got off the bus at home, she paid the bills. She was pleased to see that with her new plan, she had enough left to get Micah the sprinkler system, along with an extra special item, a koi pond, that would be just perfect in the greenhouse.
Inside, Micah was making a special dinner for Janie’s return, and he was quite happy with the present he was putting together for her. He was so excited to see her face when she realized she wasn’t going to have to wait any longer to begin working on fulfilling her dreams. He had intended to use the apple harvest money to hire a hand later, but this was a better long term investment, he thought, in Janie’s happiness, and besides, she was such a hard worker.
It was wonderful to be together again. Janie told Micah about the people she’d met on the trip.
“Ms. Jayapalan was there with her daughter,” Janie exclaimed. “She plays for one of our rivals.”
When MIcah’s face fell, anticipating this turn of events would hurt their chances with getting a contract with her grocery store, Janie added, “No, we’re friends now! We had supper together a couple of times during the tournament, and she’s really great.”
After a dinner of fresh garden vegetables and homemade dressing, Micah lit a fire in the fireplace, showing off his new skills.
But later, when Janie fell asleep in their big feather bed, Micah snuck downstairs to work on the gift he was assembling for her.
Christmas Eve, Micah got ready to work in the greenhouse. Janie said, “No, you don’t! It’s Christmas Eve!” She had Luc Belrose take Micah hiking while Erle and some contractors Bee knew fixed the new sprinklers and installed the koi pond.
Christmas morning they woke before it was light. The were as excited as two foolish children, to see each other’s joy and surprise.
“I can’t wait till you see what I got for you,” she said. Then, without even being able to wait for him to see, she said, “It’s a sprinkler system and koi pond for the greenhouse, so you can get the contract with the organic grocery store.”
“What did you get for me?” she asked, teasing.
“It’s in this room, he hinted. She looked around, up on her knees, peering over the back of the loveseat under the Christmas tree.
“No, it’s in the other corner,” he said.
Janie went over to the corner, where a quilt covered a new piece of furniture. She pulled it, and there was a computer sitting on a desk in the corner of the living room, with a line running to the phone jack.
“It’s got internet, too” Micah said.
It was the computer she’d dreamed of for so long, that would allow her to sign up for online courses.
“Why don’t you go online and sign up now?” he said, knowing she’d dreamed and talked of starting college courses for over a year, and saved the money for the tuition.
But instead, she moved off his lap and sighed.
“I think we should just enjoy the moment,” she said. “In fact, you know, I think it’s going to be a good day for a hike.”
When he urged her to log on today, as she’d been waiting to do, she said, “I used the tuition money to buy the greenhouse equipment.”
HIs mouth dropped open. Seeing his shock, she laughed.
“The computer will be there when we save enough money. You know, I save money so fast, Micah” she said.
Christmas Day dawned bright and clear, and uncharacteristically mild. It was a perfect day for a hike. This winter had been so mild, that if the leaves were on the trees it would appear to be spring.
From Belle Farm Lane, there was a splendid view of a prominent rock outcropping in the nearby mountains called The Devil’s Fortress. The trail head was just up the Three Lakes highway from the general store.
They packed pb & j sandwiches, and by mid-morning, Janie and Micah reached the trail head.
By lunchtime, they’d reached the first scenic overview., halfway up the trail to the Devil’s Fortress. They stood in the cold wind, catching their breath, and taking in the splendor of the mountains, the trees, and the crisp air.
Christmas afternoon, they stood at the scenic overlook, and held each other tight. They were each the other’s dearest treasure.
After the holidays, Micah and Janie made sure everything was ready, and they called Ms. Jalayapan and her team to come see how their production had risen to her standards. At least, they hoped, that the team would see that.
And they did. In fact, they ooohhed, and aahhed, and pointed out how healthy, bug-free, and beautiful the plants were. When they asked about supply, and whether Micah could keep up with a constant demand, he showed them the sprinkler system, and the lady bugs, and his records, showing the number of plants he’d been able to grow last season.
“Everything looks perfect,” Ms. Jayapalan said when she called on the phone. “Congratulations,” she told Micah, “You have the contract.”
- I am sure you caught on, but the gift plot in this update is completely copied from O. Henry’s story, The Gift of the Magi. I’ve always loved that story and as I was picturing Janie and Micah handing each other gifts on Christmas morning, and thinking what they should be, it occurred to me that they would give away their prized possessions or earnings in order to give something to each other. They have such different goals, personally, and yet, their worlds revolved around each other. When Janie is gone, Micah thinks of her constantly, and she flutters every time she sees him.
- Janie got to join the hobby lot for fitness, which is where she met Sadie and was able to work on the trainer on her fitness. Of course, she wasn’t really gone overnight, Micah misses her so much when she is gone it seems like it, and then she was also gone long hours to the hobby lot trying to max out her fitness skill. While there, she also made friends with Gretchen Jayapalan, the garden club NPC, who was also a fitness hobby sim. See – Gretchen is amazed at the progress Micah’s made in gardening 🙂
- After two years, and a very nerve-wracking garden inspection, Micah finally got his Perfect Garden Club score, and they got the wishing well. Micah kept wanting to go off and ACR with Janie when he needed to make sure no plants sprouted weeds, and I finally had to send her off-lot on a run. Then, one of the garden club members complained about Bugaboo’s beautiful pots and called them trash. So I paused and deleted the pots, thinking the inspection was going to be ruined. But it wasn’t! By the way, you can see on Micah’s panel below, after he got the Perfect Garden score want fulfilled, all his wants and fears are Janie, Janie, Janie!
- Between Janie’s promotions and his gold gardening badge, I think she’ll be able to start college courses soon. They’ve actually saved up $12,000 from produce sales, her promotions, and selling random stuff from hikes and dates.
- There’s a rock outcropping near my parent’s town called “Devil’s Kitchen” and I modeled the outlook and named the Devils’ Fortress after it. Micah loves to hike (he rolls wants to hike and hunt bugs almost daily), so I wanted to to build a wooded community lot where I could see him hiking around the landmark outcroppings behind Falls Bridge town. Also, while on a game hike one day, the random occurrence that the game generates said he met Luc Belrose, so I decided to write that in as Janie getting him off the farm to get the sprinklers installed. The lot has a ranger station, picnic area, wooded stream, and two lookout points.
- Micah rolled baby wants three times during the week I played them, but Janie never did. She wants to increase skills, go to work, and earn money. They needed a couple of dates to keep his aspiration from falling into the red, but those work very well.