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OCTOBER 2015

A SETTING IN HALF INCH SCALE
(one inch equals two feet)

The box measures 4 1/2 inches wide, three and a half inches tall, and three and a half inches deep.

I belong to a miniatures club in Las Cruces, NM, and drive up from El Paso sometimes for the Saturday meetings which are held at various members' houses. These happen to be scattered to all four corners of the town, from the far northeast on the way over the mountains to Alamogordo, to way out past "A" mountain in the southeast, toward Lordsburg on the west, to Old Mesilla on the south side, even closer to El Paso at Mesquite, and various other places in between. Because that's the only time I drive up there, I can't count the number of times I have gotten lost trying to find my way to a meeting.

Usually i wind up having to call somebody: "I'm at the corner of Such-and-Such Streets and I don't know where to go next," and then they walk me through how to get to the house. And then weeks, even months go by before I make it up for another meeting, and it's at a different member's house, and I go through it all again. Which is why I printed out Google maps for how to get there to each member's house and put them in my toolbag.

Well, not long ago I was somewhere between the famous Stahmann Pecan Orchards and Old Mesilla and got distracted listening to oldies but goodies on the radio, and next thing I knew I was on the outskirts of an old vineyard and totally lost. And wouldn't you know? That time I was just planning to work on quarter scale flowers and hadn't taken my big tool bag, so I didn't have my maps.

And before you say anything, I know about GPSing and all, but haven't figured out how to do it with my phone. And even if I could have done it, my phone had been in my purse since the last time we went out for dinner and the battery was dead as a doornail and I didn't have my charger with me. Good grief!

I sighed in frustration, thinking, I am getting too old for this, when I heard loud music coming in the open car window. And then through the heavy vines I noticed sunlight glinting off a small glass structure and thought I detected movement. Relieved, I drove further into the vineyard and hurried to the doorway and knocked.

"Yessss?"

Well, you know there are lots of artsy types in this part of the world, especially in the Mesilla area, so i wasn't too surprised at the rather exotic look of the woman who greeted me.

"I'm sorry to bother you," I said, shouting to be heard over the loud music. "My name is Wanna. My cell phone battery is dead and I wonder if I might use your phone to call someone?"

"Of course! Come in, dear. I am Tarantella Recluse. I was just doing some pruning of one of my snake plants."

I stepped inside, smiling in relief at her gracious greeting. "Thanks so much," I hollered. "I just hate when this happens to me. I'm lost and going to be late for my club meeting. ...."

"Let me turn off this music," she said, gliding over to a laptop on a nearby table. "I always enjoy dancing when I am working in my conservaory. Isn't it great what you can find on YouTube? This mustic reminds me of long ago days in my ancestral home."

"Oh, yes," I agreed. "I often check out music that makes me feel all nostalgic ..."

... and then my breath caught in my throat. That really WAS a snake plant she was standing beside! I counted at least three, writhing among the leaves. In over fifty years in El Paso I can count on the fingers of one hand the snakes I have actually seen (contrary to some people's perception of our area), and three growing in a PLANT?

And she really was pruning off one of the snakes! And that darn thing was practically smiling at me as she hung it on her wrist!

Shifting the snake further up her arm, she reached in her pocket and pulled out a cellphone. "Here you go!"


"Watch your step, dear; that fly catcher plant likes to move around." And by golly, that thing was skittering along rather erratically on its spidery-webby looking legs. And before you ask, I don't know how a plant in a pot could have legs, but there you go ....

For almost fifty years I could remember my parents' telephone number from my teenage days, but between that flycatcher plant dancing around my feet and those snakes alternately writhing, hissing and smiling, for the life of me I couldn't remember anybody's phone number at that moment. I guess that's not too unusual, really, because we don't have to remember anything nowadays, do we? We just Google for an answer or plug the phone number in once and ever after we touch the screen and it takes us there.

However, my husband and I are old fashioned and still have a land line, and fortunately I could remember that number because it's been the same for over forty years. I took a deep breath and dialed (well, punched) and hoped he hadn't yet left the house.

What a relief to hear his voice as I carefully moved closer to the door. "Hey, dear! Thank goodness you are still home! I am lost in a vineyard near Mesilla, and I don't think I am going to be going to the meeting after all. My battery's dead, and I am calling from a borrowed phone. Would you please call someone for me and let them know I will not be there today?

"Well, okay," he said, "but why do you want me to call? Can't I just give you the number and you call yourself?"

Well, I sure couldn't tell him that I just wanted out of there as quickly as possible because of the snakes and that fly catcher plant, and I wouldn't have been surprised to see a herd of spiders, either. And of course I didn't want to be rude in front of my gracious hostess, so I improvised.

"That's not possible at the moment, hon," I said."My blood sugar is dropping and I need to go get something to eat quickly and you know how I get ..." And I cringed as the smiling snake looked at me, and if I didn't know that snakes don't have eyelids I would swear it winked at me, knowingly.

"All right then; what's the number?" he asked.

"I don't know. My phone's dead and I can't look it up and I'm calling from a nice woman's cell phone in her greenhouse. But if you go to my computer and open up the file that says NM Miniature Group you can find Bonnie's number. The meeting's at her house."

"Okay; just a minute. I'm walking, I'm walking ... I'm sitting at your computer now," he said, and I talked him through the process so he could locate my file of phone numbers for the club members.

"Okay," he said. "I'll call her."

"Thank you, dear, and as soon as I have had a cup of coffee and a sandwich I am heading home. And remind me to put my phone on the charger! "

I handed my hostess her cellphone. "I really appreciate this, Tarantella," I said. "I must remember to get an extra charger to keep in the car for emergencies. How in the world did we get along all those years before cellphones?"

"I know what you mean; I feel naked when I get out and realize I don't have mine with me," she said, tucking the phone in her pocket.

Smiling, she caressed the restless snake, which settled snugly under her arm.

"You certainly have some lovely plants. What beautiful soft colors in that epergne," I said. "My daughter is a gardener and would really appreciate everything here, including the leaded glass windows of your conservatory."

"She's been taking stained glass classes and would probably enjoy making a piece like your candle holder, too," I said, as my eye moved along the glass wall.

"And the plant on the wreath in the other corner is intriguing. Is it real?"

"That's a Watchful Eye epiphyte; it grows in air so doesn't even really require soil. I am thinking of entering it in the County Fair, as I don't believe there is another like it in this part of the country."

She gently nudged the Fly Catcher plant away from my feet. "Charlie likes when company comes because the open door lets in more flies."

I nodded. "Well, I must go on ...."

"Normally I would make us a cup of tea, my dear," my new friend said, "and offer you a sandwich and a tour of my conservatory, but I am expecting a new shipment of an exotic new plant from South America any time now, and I do need to clear a space for it."

"You are too kind, Tarantella, and I would love to do that some other time. I have imposed on you enough today. And if I don't get something to eat, I'll not be fit to drive myself back to El Paso."

"Oh, I undersand that. You know, I am not myself when I go too long without food, either."

"Thank you so much, Tarantella. You have some lovely plants, unlike any I have seen before, and it's been a pleasure meeting you and I really appreciate your thoughtfulness. Not many people would let a total stranger into their homes these days."

"Any time, Wanna dear. The pleasure was all mine. And do bring your daughter up. We do love company, don't we, boys and girls?" And the snake plant seemed to nod in unison.

 

"Thanks again, and I will let you get back to your, um, chores." As I got into the car I heard the music again and saw that she had left the snake plant and was dancing toward the plant on the pedestal with her pruning shears. I wonder what was nestled inside THOSE blooms?

(Oh, and if you are interested, you can check out what she was listening to here.)

I drove quickly to a nearby small coffee and gift shop and had a sandwich and a cup of coffee and a huge piece of pecan pie before I started home.

And guess what? The other day my darling daughter Dana called and said, "Mama, we've finished our Saturday stained glass classes, so any time you want to go up to Las Cruces for a club meeting, just let me know and I'll put it on the calendar and we'll drive you up. The girls and I can go prowling while you have your meeting and then we can go have an early supper ...."

I didn't even let her finish her sentence before I hollered, "YESSS!! And there's this fascinating woman in a vineyard near Mesilla. Since you have such a green thumb, I'll bet you will love her conservatory. I can't wait for you to meet her!"

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You can see how I made this setting here.

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Copyright <>Juawanna Newman . All rights reserved.