February 21, 2015

Haley: Week Twenty-Four, Day Four

Living Green Tip #2:  If you feel strongly about buying healthy produce, but don’t necessarily have the funds to buy exclusively organic, growing your own vegetables is a great alternative option.

Haley greeted her first day on her own with eagerness and excitement.  There was so much she wanted to do!  Knowing she would have a busy day, she grabbed a quick bowl of oatmeal before heading out for her errands.
First stop?  The garden center's All About Gardening class they held once a month.

Learning all about the different ways to start a garden, using transplants or seeds, was so motivating!  They'd provided a few seeds for her to get started!

She might not love hiking and fishing, but she had become more and more interested in growing her own produce after her dad had produced the documentary Inside the Food Cycle, an expose on the less-than-stellar practices various manufacturers had when packaging their food.  Ew! 
On the way home, she stopped by the grocery store and filled her basket with cheese, tofu and eggs!  Everything else she would grow on her own!
Carefully slinging her bags over her shoulder on the bike, she started home, feeling quite proud of herself.
Salvaging a few old wood pieces, she fashioned a nice, little garden bed in the front of her house.  She was ready to grow the perfect garden! 
Trying to hurry before the rain hit, she quickly planted the seeds: two lettuce, two grapes, one tomato and one apple!  She couldn't wait to see something start to grow!

 ***

Maritza Patel walked some trails, hoping to find some sort of animal life that she would be able get her great animal study started.  Glancing through the fence, she saw something moving!
A turtle! she thought excitedly, trying to figure out what kind it was based on it's markings.

"What a pretty little guy you are!" she said, reaching down to pick it up.
"OUCH!" she yelled as she pulled her hand back, her finger smarting where the blasted thing had bitten her.  Apparently she had a lot to learn about wild animals!

***

Haley had just headed upstairs to start a landscape portrait.  Hopefully the lighting was good enough to really showcase the pond and the willow!  Tilting her head to the side, she tried to mix the right shade of blue...

***

"Oh!" Maritza said when she came across the little kitten.  "Are you lost little one?" she asked, crouching down to pet the little baby.

The kitten meowed in response and nuzzled her hand.
"Aw, I can't just leave you here!" she said, picking it up into her arms.  "We're near Haley's house. Maybe she knows who you belong to!" 
"Hi Haley!" Maritza called out in greeting as she headed up the front drive.

Haley put her brush to the side and glanced down.  "Oh! Hi Maritza! What are you up to?"

Maritza held up the little kitten.  "Someone got lost! Do you know their owners?"

"Aw!" Haley gasped. "I'll be right down!"
Downstairs, Haley crouched down and petted the little kitty.  "I've never seen her before," Haley said sadly.  "You don't think she got too far away from home, do you?"
Maritza chewed her lip with worry. "I don't know.  I was hoping you might've seen her around or known someone. I guess I can always take her to the animal center to see if her owners are looking for her."

"Poor thing," Haley said.  "Maybe..."
She was interrupted as the maid came out.   "It's all clean, Miss Black-Wolff. I'll see you tomorrow!" 
Maritza's mouth fell open as Kraig walked by.  "That's your maid?" she asked.  "He's too hot!"

"Sh! He'll hear you!" Haley shushed her friend as Maritza giggled, checking him out over her shoulder.    Although, to be honest, Maritza was absolutely correct.  Kraig had been with the family for 6 months and she'd yet to work up the nerve to do more than say hi.  He was so handsome! And those hands!  He had such strong, rugged hands that had inspired a few daydreams.
"Well I should get going!" Maritza announced, giving Haley a hug goodbye.  "I should get this pretty little kitty over to the animal center to find her mommy!"

"Let me know how it goes!" Haley told her, waving as Maritza trotted away with the kitten tucked safely in her arms.

***

Returning upstairs to her painting, Haley picked up the brush and glanced down to the pond.   She would work on her painting until the light began to fade.  

She had just decided it was probably time to head home when she heard a noise from the treeline.    It sounded like someone walking through the leaves.
Haley walked to the railing, trying to peer through all the foliage.  "Hello?" she called out.  "Maritza?"

No one answered.

She strained to hear any sort of movement, but didn't hear anything else.
"Must've been my imagination," she told herself as she hurried inside.

 ***

 A noise startled her awake.  After the noise earlier in the evening, she was officially creeped out.
Quickly dialing 9-1-1, she told the dispatcher that she thought she had an intruder. The dispatcher calmed her down and told her that an officer was on the way.  "Oh thank you!" she said, nervously biting her nail.

 ***

 Within minutes, Officer Solomon was hurrying up her front walk.

 ***

"I walked around the perimeter and didn't see any evidence of anyone.  It might've just been the wind or a raccoon," the officer told her. "Sometimes when people aren't used to living alone, they think they hear all sorts of noises."
"Oh, I'm so embarrassed," Haley said.  "It's my first night on my own! I feel so silly!"  She can't believe she'd managed to spook herself out so thoroughly.  "I could've sworn I heard something!"  Both times!
"That's what we're here for."  Officer Solomon patted her shoulder.  "Don't hesitate to call us in the future."  He slipped his business card into her hand.  "If you're worried, you can always call me directly."
Haley blushed as she held the business card in her hand.  "I will," she told him shyly.
"Night ma'am," Officer Solomon tipped his hat as he let himself out of the house, whistling as he headed back to his patrol car. 

 ***

February 17, 2015

Haley: Week Twenty-Four, Day Three

Living Green Tip #1: A new home means a fresh start – why drag all that old junk with you!

The last time mom and dad had held a family meeting, Haley had been scared that her parents were going to get a divorce.  This time she knew that wasn't a possibility, so she was curious what they were meeting about. 
Eva took a deep breath, knowing that what she had to say was going to rock her childrens' lives.  "As you know, I won the election! When I was vice-president to Davies, I was able to split my time between here and the capital city," she began by way of explanation.

Nathaniel put his arm around Eva's wife, silently supporting her.  "But, now," she continued, her voice breaking, "Now I need to be in the capital city full-time.  I can't continue to split my time between here and there."
"What are you saying, Mom?" Haley asked, leaning forward in her seat. 

Eva sighed.  "Your father and I are going to be moving to the capital," she said.  "I want both of you to decide where you want to be.  Haley, if you'd like to stay in Sunset Valley, you're welcome to stay in the family home.  Ian, Duanne's mom has agreed that if you'd like to stay that you can live with them until your graduation."

She paused to give the kids a moment to let the information sink in. 

"So, it's completely your choice, where do you want to..."
"I'm going!" Ian announced quickly.  "When do we leave?"

Haley glanced over at her brother, surprised that he was so willing to uproot himself right before his senior year.  She wondered if it had anything to do with Keely...
Sadly, Haley stood and faced her mom.  "I'm going to miss you so much, but I'd like to stay here," she told her. 

Eva smiled sadly. "I thought that would be your answer," she said, rubbing Haley's arm.  "I'm going to miss you!" she sniffled, pulling Haley into your arms.  "Even if you are all grown up, you're still my little girl!"

***

...my family's last day in Sunset Valley, Haley thought sadly as she headed out the door for her graduation ceremony.  Her mom had apologized profusely that their last night was on the same day as her graduation ceremony.  She'd even offered to rearrange the flight schedules, but Haley had stopped her. 

"You'll be here for my ceremony! That's what is important!" she'd assured her.  Secretly, part of her was thrilled she was going to have the house to herself!
Oi, there are so many people here, Haley thought, glancing around nervously.  She hated crowds like this!
Glancing across the crowd, she saw Rachel and Johnny and waved.  "Good luck!" she mouthed to Rachel, blushing when Johnny caught her eye.
After the ceremony, she walked out with her diploma, so proud and elated.  She had been named Valedictorian and the whole auditorium had clapped when she'd been named Most Likely to Be a Famous Artist.  Haley was sure she turned beet red from all the attention!

***

"Hey, Ian. Are you all packed up?" she asked, heading into his room to say goodbye. 
Ian shrugged.  "Yeah, I guess," he said half-heartedly.

"You know you can always stay, right? You don't have to go with mom and dad," she offered. 

Nonchalantly, Ian shrugged again.  "Whatever. It doesn't matter where I go."

Haley sighed.  She was right.  Ian was just leaving to get away from his back-stabbing friend Ellis and his cheating ex.  Her heart broke for him.  "Well, you know I'm going to miss you, right?"

Ian frowned, uncomfortable with the sisterly affection.  Sighing, she turned to leave.  Before she'd stepped into the living room, he called out to her, "I'm going to miss you, too!"

***

"I'm going to miss it here," Eva said sadly, glancing around the home she'd been raised in. 

Nathaniel slung his arm around Eva's shoulder.  "I know.  But, Haley will still be here! We'll come down for the holidays!"

Eva patted Nathaniel's knee.  "I know.  But everything will be different!" she rested her head against her husband's shoulder.
"Hey guys, are you all packed?" Haley asked, grinning at the image of her parents cuddling.  They had such a warm, loving relationship.  It was exactly what she wanted for herself one day! 

She was surprised when the doorbell rang.   "Are you expecting anyone to come say goodbye?" Haley asked her mom.

Eva wrinkled her brow.  "No, we had the going away party this afternoon."
"I'll see who it is," Haley offered, heading to the door.

***

"Maritza!" she called out warmly, seeing her school friend.  Turning back to her parents, she said, "It's for me!" before stepping out onto the porch.
"Hi, I hope I'm not interrupting anything," Maritza said.

Haley smiled. "No, not much.  My folks are headed out of town tomorrow morning."

"Oh! I can come back later," Maritza offered.

Haley waved off the suggestion.  "No really, it's okay. What brings you by?"
Maritza took a deep breath and excitedly announced, "So I can't draw a stick figure for the life of me!" she began awkwardly.

"Okay..." Haley said, not really sure where Maritza was going.

"Oh, I'll just come out with it!" Maritza said nervously.  "I'm doing a study on the Sunset Valley indigenous fauna.  I was thinking about what a wonderful artist you are and I thought you might be willing to prepare the illustrations for me?"
"Maritza! I would love to help you with that! It sounds so exciting!" Haley agreed with enthusiasm.  "Wait until I tell my Dad! He loves this kind of stuff. Come on inside and let's talk about it!" Haley said, pulling Maritza inside.
"Dad! This is my school friend, Maritza," she explained once inside.  "She's going to be doing a naturalist study and she wants me to help illustrate her findings!"

Nathaniel beamed with pride, "I think that's a fantastic use of your talents, Haley!"  Turning towards Maritza, he asked, "So, what plans do you have in place so far? Maybe I could be of some help!"
Maritza was having trouble forming a word. "I... oh... well..." she tried to take a deep breath to calm down.  "Oh, Mr. Wolff! I didn't realize you were Haley's father! I am such a fan of yours! Your documentary 'Preserving the Ecological Biodiversity of Sunset Valley' is what made me interested in completing a naturalist study locally!  How are we going to know what we're preserving if we haven't made an accurate look at what we have!"

Nathaniel smiled at the compliment.  "I'm always thrilled to hear my documentaries have made a difference!" he said, reaching in his pocket to pull out a card and writing his cell phone number on it.  "Feel free to give me a call if you ever need any advice on the lay of the land."
Maritza beamed at Haley.  "Looks like we have the start of an excellent team!"

***

Ian snuck out after everyone had gone to sleep.  He couldn't sleep.  It sucked that he was moving, but it sucked even more that he'd been made a big fool of by Keely and Ellis.  No way was he going to finish high school with those jerks!

There was someone that he was going to miss, though...
Quietly, he crept up to the front door. 
Placing the small gift box down, he rang the doorbell and darted off.

Hopefully she liked it...