Daily Prompt: Semester Tests

Somewhere around middle school my children stopped faithfully presenting me with every piece of paper that their teachers gave them, and I realized that if I didn’t want to miss out on important news and announcements such as school concerts, parent-teacher conferences, and drivers ed signups, it was up to me to either excavate down to the paleozoic layer of their backpacks or subscribe to their schools’ daily bulletin. I decided it would be more reliable, and quite possibly better for my health and sanity, to do the latter. Now, the daily bulletin is one of the first things I open.

This morning’s third headline: Wednesday: Semester Tests

My blog comment:

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Roses and Citrus: yes, really.

A couple of days ago, in response to a WordPress weekly challenge “Cliffhanger” I wrote a tease about Roses and Citrus. Now it is time for the big reveal!

Sorry for any let down, but it is, in fact, just what the title says it is: roses and citrus.

We brought them home with us from the desert: three bulging bags of citrus – grapefruit, lemons, oranges – and a bunch of rosebuds. They are the tangible reminder that our little house is waiting for us down there, nestled under the palm trees, basking in the California sunshine as we slip and slide and shovel our way through the snows and inversions of a Montana winter.

IMG_2077The roses – multi-colored and sweetly scented. They were at their best all over Christmas and New Year and now a week has passed since I went into the garden as the sun rose over the desert and snipped all the buds I could find, wrapped a soaking wet paper towel around them, placed them in a plastic bag with some more water, and found a spot in the car where I hoped they wouldn’t get squashed. They are beginning to fade now, and a few petals have dropped onto the table, but a faint scent remains.

IMG_2078The citrus – a golden bounty of vitamin C.  Sweet pink grapefruit and slightly tart oranges from our neighbor’s trees that hang heavy on our side of the fence – she likes us to pick them so that they don’t fall to the ground and attract unwelcome 4-footed visitors, and we are happy to oblige! The lemons, some almost as big as the grapefruit, are from our own tree that sits in front of our house for our neighbors to help themselves when we are not there.

We’ve been eating the grapefruit for breakfast and I’ve been looking up marmalade recipes for the oranges; some of the lemons are going to friends, and I know I’ll be making a lemon pound cake next time our son comes home. Yesterday I cut up one of the larger lemons and put the pieces into a couple of mason jars along with some grated fresh ginger and honey – I’ll take spoonfuls of honey and add it to some hot water to help soothe the colds and sore throats that are sure to come our way before winter is over.IMG_2082

Roses and Citrus: come to think of it, that could be be a pretty good metaphor for the way we divide our live between our two homes!

Returning To Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

Yes, I loved my parents – I was a true daddy’s girl – but my hero when I was five years old was without doubt The Lone Ranger!

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What was not to like about this masked hero who rode unhesitatingly into the heart of trouble and danger on his stallion, Silver, with his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, to save the day? Unlike today’s anti-heroes, The Lone Ranger didn’t come with baggage – the mask was to hide his identity, not his insecurity, because he did not seek recognition and reward for Doing The Right Thing. He knew the difference between right and wrong, and he knew who was right and who was wrong, and he always, always won. OK, I admit, there were times when it seemed that the bad guys would really get him this time, and I had to resort to watching from behind the couch in case they did, but truth and right and honor always won out in the end.

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The Lone Ranger never shirked from what he saw as his duty, he was always fearless, honest, and courteous. He would have protected me from the big boys who teased me at school. He would have understood that I did not like broccoli and did not want to eat it. He would have swung down from Silver and rescued me from the dogs that jumped up and barked and scared me, and Silver would have carried me home when I was tired and didn’t want to walk the rest of the way.

But the years have passed: today The Lone Ranger is shown in re-runs on cable, the black and white images rather fuzzy after watching HD TV, and other heroes have come and gone. He has even been reincarnated in a full-length movie that I could not bring myself to go and see: that was not MY Lone Ranger! Yet still I cannot hear that trumpet flourish in The William Tell Overture without immediately returning to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when a little 5-year-old girl with braids had a weekly Saturday tea-time date with a masked man on a white horse.

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Hi-Yo Silver! away!

Roses and Citrus

Roses and Citrus: now, this might sound like a title for a movie – one of those slow-moving beautifully photographed, moody, long-on-talk-and-short-on-action dramas that’s up for an award, starring Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, say, or Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson, or even the unlikely duo of Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary to you Downton fans) and Sylvester Stallone! On the other hand, it could be a snappy little intro for a blog entry about my children, or a couple of my aunts, or even the two slightly eccentric sisters who lived in the same village as my parents. Could it be the name of a new spa that is about to open in town? One of those places where a waif, named Sunshine Lettuce Leaf by her flower child parents, exfoliates your skin with a concoction made from organic fruits and exotic salts before her colleague, Willow, waves equally organic aromatic oils in front of you to determine which relaxing floral extract she will use for your massage. Maybe it is an exercise in “My First Piano Book” – along with “Soldiers Marching” and “Ducks on a Lake”, or possibly an article for one of those rather chichi gourmet food magazines.

All of them possibilities – and none of them remotely close. But since I am writing this piece in response to the WordPress weekly writing challenge “Cliffhanger“, you are going to have to wait another day or two to find out what, in fact, it is all about!

A little bit of tidying up outside.

Today dawned sunny and clear after a few gloomy snowy days, so I decided to get out into the garden and do some post-winter tidy-up. Shadow decided to tag along and make sure I didn’t get into any trouble.

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First, I took down the driveway markers. We put the driveway markers in the ground along the driveway in the fall for the snowplow man so he can see where he’s going and doesn’t plow the lawn or the flower beds by mistake. Now, of course, we will probably get a big dump of snow. But the snow disappears quickly these days, and if he does have to come it will be light enough for him to see where he is going.

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Next I did a little bit of tidying up on the lawn where Shadow had decided it was too cold or too dark, or both, to go all the way to the hillside to do her “business”. Now the snow has gone, we’ve found you out girl!

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The melting snow also revealed a little antler to add to Em’s collection!

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Then I rolled up the electric cord that we used to light the Christmas lights on one of the evergreens (I’ll get this all into the garage before next winter, I promise),

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and put away the big shovel we use to chip away ice on the driveway.

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I think the snow shovels had better stay out for a little longer though,

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and I’m going to have to wait for T to come home from school to get this back up.

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Finally, I sprayed all the green shoots I could find so that the deer wouldn’t snack on them. Hopefully.

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Shadow found a sunny spot to keep watch from.

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After I’d finished I washed up with the lovely gardener’s soap Bob gave me for my birthday a year or so ago. He got me several bars, and I still have one left. It’s English. I love it.

Now Spring, would you please just hurry up and get here!

Now for some paint!

Calling all actual and would-be interior decorators!

Now that we have the carpet and the sofa for the den/office, we are turning our attention to the walls, which are currently plain white (because that was the quickest thing to do to clean the place up after we bought the house). We’d like to paint them so the room isn’t quite so bland, and over the weekend we were discussing possible colors.

So I wondered – what suggestions do you have for a color? Remember, it’s the California desert, not the Montana mountains, so we want something light. Plus it is a “California mid-century modern” bungalow in style. The room measures approximately 11ft square.

Should we pick a blue or a beige from the lamp? Or go with a cream or an ivory or an almond?

No prizes – but we’ll be interested to get your suggestions. Once we’ve done the walls we’ll probably pick a couple more throw cushions in a toning color for the sofa.

And no prizes either for spotting where the desk chair used to sit!

The Sleeper Sofa That Could

The Desert Oasis is going to be full to overflowing for spring break in a couple of weeks, so on top of my To-Do list when I was down there last month was purchasing a sleeper sofa for the little den/office room. With six weeks until it was needed, I was hopeful I would find one that we could get delivered in time. I’d done my research on the internet, so I had a good idea of styles, quality and prices.

My first stop was a warehouse-style furniture store, the kind of place that I usually try to avoid because the sales people are hovering at the door, waiting to swoop down, like vultures, and attach themselves to you. However, I knew it would have as good a selection as any, and that the prices on the name-brand furniture would be discounted, so off I went. I was lucky enough to be spotted by a not-too-predatory sales assistant who turned out to be quite helpful and knowledgable, and I found some models that I liked that were in my price range. However, I just couldn’t find a color that I wanted, let alone one that would work with the new carpet.

Over the next couple of days I visited a department store, more furniture stores, and a couple of discount places, but I still couldn’t find anything that I felt happy with – and some that I sat on felt that they wouldn’t last five minutes.

Finally, a friend recommended a company that makes its own furniture to order. I would normally have driven right by – in fact the building is so inconspicuous that first time I went there I really did drive right by and had to make a series of interesting lane changes and U-turns to get back to it. Although it was Sunday, the store was open. The moment I stepped in I knew I was in the right place. There were sofas and armchairs of every conceivable shape and size and color, and a long wall of fabric samples. Here was a place where I could find exactly the style I wanted (straight arms, curved arms, one cushion, two, three cushions, skirt or bare legs), and the size I wanted, and pick a fabric that would look perfect in that room. The gentleman working that day was extremely polite, and even showed me a choice of mattresses that were certainly a step up from the flimsy ones I remembered from my first sleeper sofa. I eventually discovered he was the owner. He said he only works there at the weekend, because he lets his staff have the day off; during the week he is at the shop where the furniture is made.

The company’s brochure proudly claims that the furniture will be delivered “in about a week”. I was sceptical, but the owner assured me that if I needed the sofa by April 1st then so long as I got my order in by, say, March 15th that would be plenty of time.

In the end I let Bob have the final say when he went down a couple of days after I returned to Montana. Like me, he made it his first priority, and this past Monday afternoon, amid a flurry of phone calls, text messages and photos, we agreed on a choice of fabric (we’d already settled on the style), and he placed the order for the sofa.

Today is Sunday.

The sofa was delivered yesterday morning.

That means it was made, from start to finish, in just FOUR days!

Highpoint, eat your heart out.