October 20, 2013

In Which Riona Dismisses the Passing Fancy

July 6, 1183

As a rule, noble widows with mostly older children were not exceptionally busy--or if they were, it was in the company of similarly-aged women of their class, and Riona saw no sign of any such companion upon arriving at her daughter's house, and given her horse's presence in its usual stall, Laralita wasn't out calling on someone else. Indeed, the housekeeper had ushered Riona to the sitting room and told her to wait.

But it had been Lily, not Laralita, who came to receive her--not that Riona hadn't wanted to see her granddaughter, but when she called at Laralita's house, she expected Laralita. Lily had clued into this and told her that her mother was in the back garden, but instead of having Laralita called in, she'd sent Riona outside.

Why hadn't she predicted that going outside would only raise more questions? "Laralita? Is that you?"

The plainly-dressed woman working in the dirt patch raised the hoe to a standing position and glanced over her shoulder. Sure enough, there were Laralita's sparkling eyes and pouty lips, as out of place against the worker's dress and apron as Riona's aging, arthritic lapdog would have been in the Sahara. "Hello, Mother."

"So you're... breaking earth." Not the sort of thing she'd ever thought she'd say about a woman who couldn't bear to break a nail.

"Well, more of it. It's been a matter of phases; I kind of wanted to get some seeds in right away."

Riona peered over the fence and down at the dirt. Sure enough, there were a few sprouts poking up already... though anything that wasn't a flower or a tree or a shrub had always looked like a weed to her. "What are those?"

"They're tomatoes. The cook said they're an easy plant to start with, and they were a reasonable price at the market." Since when did Laralita go to the market? "I'll send one of the boys to Valcria with some once they're ripe, all right?"

Well, she supposed Laralita's tomatoes couldn't possibly be worse than whatever tomatoes her cooks were using presently. Odd as it was that Laralita had tomatoes. "All right..."

"And who knows? Maybe next year, I'll have strawberries. Or cucumbers. Assuming the tomatoes are all right, that is."

"Yes, yes, that sounds lovely." But Riona privately doubted this would be a hobby that stuck. It was just some passing fancy, perhaps--or some need to bring forth new life now that her husband was gone and the change would be upon her soon? Even sheer sexual frustration was a possibility, for all it was an uncomfortable thought; why else would she have mentioned cucumbers? She'd never liked the taste of them. "Really... lovely."

"Oh, good! But you probably just came for an afternoon visit?"

Riona nodded. "That was the idea, yes."

"All right." But instead of dropping the hoe, Laralita just lowered it and resumed poking at the soil. "I'll just finish another row, then I'll be right in. Be a dear and tell my maid to lay out a clean dress for me?"



Van said...

So, while I have a few neighborhoods for playing, Naroni isn't one of them, so there's been pretty much no action on the hobby front. But... well, obviously Laralita needed to be in the garden here, and after the shoot, I just let her keep going for the sake of keeping the lot up-to-date. So she fertilized all the ground, planted all the seeds, watered and tended everything...

So, by the end of all this, not only was Laralita the first Sim in Naroni to earn a talent badge, but she also had a silver talent badge before anyone else earned a bronze. Probably the biggest genuine surprise the story has had in a while.

(The only other Sim who has one is Remiel, because he had to make Servo Farilon and needed a gold badge for that, but I cheated to get him that one.)

Mimus said...

Ah, what always annoys me about the plants in the game is that the starter plant is a tomato. Which didn't came to Europe 'til the discovery of the New World.
...Let's just say that the "discovery" of America happened much earlier in this universe. XP
I usually try to avoid tomatoes once someone in a family has at least a bronze badge. Everyone else have to earn theirs through watering, weeding and battling bug infestations.

Van said...

Yeah, I wasn't sure what would and wouldn't be a reasonable crop for the time/place (my skills and interests in research have always been well below average, which is why pretty much all of my offline stuff is straight-up fantasy), so I just went with the tomatoes since that's what she was actually planting.

I guess we'll just say that the Dovians have connections they're not sharing with the rest of Europe. And hey, the Vikings found North America well before Columbus did; maybe Leif Ericson managed to work his way into the noble Dovian bloodline. ;)

Mimus said...

Well, I can tell about some: That would be tomatoes and potatoes and possibly peppers. Eggplants I'm not sure about. Usual vegetables for kitchen gardens were mostly various sorts of cabbages, carrots, beans and cucumbers - of which only the last two can be planted ingame - as well as various herbs. I don't think anyone ever tried a default replacement for these...

They could have started trade with them, I guess. xD

Van said...

Vegetables are probably on someone's list for things to default. Even if new meshes aren't made, I'm guessing most of them can be recolored to look like other vegetables.

Van said...

Oh! I forgot to mention--tomorrow is the last day for the Naroni U naming contest, so if anyone has any last-minute suggestions, be sure to get them in before Monday night becomes Tuesday morning. :)

Ekho said...

My gosh, I didn't see this coming... Laralita though, seems almost fulfilled, even challenged by this new hobby? Mayb it will become a long term thing that she'll excel in, or maybe it will only last a year or two..

Van said...

In hindsight, I think Laralita was always the sort of person who didn't have a strong hobby but really needed one. She sort of has a tendency to define herself by her social standing and possessions and relationships with powerful people, and the sort of upbringing she had would have encouraged that, so I kind of wonder how much of her ridiculousness is a product of that (though... this is Laralita, so I'm sure it's not all or even most of it). She may have had an unknown, unfulfilled need for something that was just hers. If the gardening craze sticks, it could be the best thing that's ever happened to her psychologically.

morgaine2005 said...

Laralita digging in the dirt? Amazing! But I agree that a hobby could be the best thing for her. At the very least, it can't possibly be a bad thing.

I just hope that Riona can be supportive, or if Riona can't, that Laralita's children are. Or at least, her children with Roderick. Something tells me that Searle-the-no-longer-dying would be in favor of kicking puppies if Laralita's hobby was petting them ... (Also, I hope her produce tastes good. That might make people more supportive.)

And reading the comments, I have to say -- I am soo glad that my story is in a made-up universe! If I say that tomatoes can grow in Albion, they can! ;)

However, I still wish there was a way to grow wheat and other cereal crops.

Van said...

Nope--even if it's not the ultra bandage, a little hobby could not hurt.

I think Riona can be supportive in her way, or at the very least indifferent (Laralita's father might be a different story, but he's unlikely to call on her any time soon; his health hasn't been great lately). I can't imagine Laralita's kids have given her any crap for it either--hey, even Searle might find the same kind of "Laralita? Gardening?" amusement as the readers. And I'm sure her produce will taste just fine. ;)

If I could make a bunch of sweeping retcons at this point, one of the first would be setting Naroni in a fictional universe. World-building is tough, but rewarding--much moreso than research is for me personally.

Oh man, it would be awesome if Sims could grow wheat!

Winter said...

^^ What Morganna said about fictional universes.

So, Laralita is basically the most accomplished Sim in the neighborhood? That's scary but somehow amazing. She could run a cottage industry with those cucumbers, too.

Gardening has to be good for Laralita on multiple fronts. If she's going to market and working with her hands, she may be more mindful of the behind-the-scenes people who made anything she wanted appear with a wave of her queenly hand. Not too mindful, but a little bit... and considering her new daughter-in-law, some additional sense in the family won't hurt.

Van said...

Strange, isn't it? But she does need a hobby. And a cottage industry is not out of the question, for sure.

Laralita does have the potential to gain some well-needed perspective now that she's on her own, especially if she's doing the dirty work and associating with people she's always thought beneath her. She could use that return to earth--and you're right, that will be especially important now that Danthia's in the family.