Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Blossom Burpee

Blossom Burpee

My little sister, "Boop", used to accuse me of making up my dreams just to tell an interesting or funny story. Well, I only wish I were that imaginative a writer. Or, maybe I am but I just haven’t figured out how to do it while I’m awake. But that’s okay, several of my dreams have evolved into short stories and even an unpublished novel so they don’t go to waste.

I almost always enjoy my dreams and usually remember them at least for a few minutes once I wake up. If I relate them to Big Jim or even Clancy I remember them even longer. Then sometimes we try to figure out what triggered them in the first place.

Take last night. I found myself, with a quiet lady in a pink sundress, in a charming old house filled with Victorian furbelows and crammed with hanging plants and African Violets. Turned out it was the home and laboratory of the renowned Plant Inventor, “Blossom Burpee”.

Apparently I was there to learn of her latest discovery; how to put juice into tomatoes! The process itself was awesome(in a dream world, of course) and made perfect sense (also in a dream world, of course). Blossom took the dry, flat, papery tomato which looked like a red Japanese lantern and attached the open end to a green tube that ended with a five pointed suction cup. The tomato was held in place by curly, tendril looking holders. Then she opened the valve on a huge vat of Libby’s tomato juice and let it seep into the fruit until it plumped up. I remember we were very excited by the discovery but then I woke up.

Silly huh? Oh well, it seems it’s the most absurd ones that stick in my mind so I have to think about them. I’m supposed to be working on Maggie’s Muffins, my next juvenile novel, this morning but here I am thinking about tomatoes.

Mom is the silent woman in the pink dress. Mom often accompanies me in in my dreams, my way of keeping her close probably, although she’d hate the pink sundress. But also she might be one of the triggers. I think I’ve got this figured out.

Yesterday we stopped at a red light next to a Sears store. I watched some men beginning to arrange an outside garden center. Ah, signs of Spring at last. We drove on and I forgot about it. But once I began fixating on Blossom Burpee today, I made the connection.

When we were kids in Levittown, PA, Mom became friends with an older lady who worked in -you guessed it-the Sears Garden center. We were invited to her home, which, as I recall it was more garden than cottage. She also had baby goats and numerous cats. She shared vintage seeds with Mom, and sponsored her for the garden club. She also got my mother hooked on African Violets, an interest that 10 years later had more than 70 varieties lining the window sills of our house in Adams, MA. Grandma Irwin as we called her, showed us how to grow carrot tops and sweet potato vines in jars. We even planted green beans in paper cups that later turned into the beans we ate for supper.

This last is significant and may explain the conundrum; which came first the tomato or the juice?

See you down the road,


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Fabian Revisited

Now here's a funny addendum to my Fabian story. I was telling it to a man who came to visit Moaning Cavern, in Vallecito, California, where I used to work in the gift shop. We were chatting and it came out that, as a boy, he lived in East Philadelphia across the street from Dion!
When I told him my Fabian story one of our young cavern guides was listening. With a big grin signifying her associating our tale with her own knowledge Shauna said, "Oh I know who you guys are talking about! That old guy, the model with the hair, who was on the cover of all those romance novels in the 80s! "

Oh my word! She’s sooooo young! She referred to FABIO as that OLD GUY!
: >)


Well! Apparently the mere mention of his name is enough to "Turn Me Loose" to some friends! Rocky sent me the following!


See ya down the road!


Monday, February 12, 2007

Clancy, the Gourmet Weiner Dog, Fabian, and Me

Did you ever dream of simply running away from home and seeing the country? Well, believe it or not Big Jim and I did exactly that on June 21, 2004. Now, we travel the USA in a much loved Winnebago with Clancy, The Gourmet Weiner Dog, telling stories, writing, meeting colorful people and working, for brief interludes, in amazing places.

As we travel the back roads, I am usually crocheting a scarf or hat and working out ideas for the newest story in my head. Sometimes new ideas come faster than my stitches, causing me to rip them out and begin again, so Big Jim calls me the Yarntangler!

Several years ago I wrote a weekly newspaper column called Ramblings. They actually paid me $10.00 a week to write about anything I wanted as long as it had local interest. No, I did not become rich or famous by doing it but I always enjoyed the concept. So I'm going to revive that title and offer up a glimpse of what we see from our big front window as well as things that happened along roads taken in the past. If I ever figure out how to do it, I'll even post a few pictures.

I'll ask your indulgence in advance if I'm a bit hokey sometimes. I tend to let whimsy take over now and then. Some (not my painfully honest sister) even tell me that's part of my charm!

Since I've just published my first book for young people (The Tree at the Top of the Hill), you'll find that RAMBLINGS will remain family friendly and that soon there will be stories the kids will enjoy along the way.

Here's a taste of what it's going to be like:


When I was a pre-teen I lived in Levittown, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. My girlfriend had relatives in Philly and often went to visit them. One cousin lived next door to FABIAN! (You all remember Fabian-right - pompadour plastic hairdo, those smoldering eyes, and x rated lips?) Well, Fabian had just become a household word in homes with impressionable young girls. Fabian had actually been on Bandstand!

So there they sat, my friend and her cousin, watching the house and suddenly He came out! (Apparently the cousin had never noticed him before when he was just the older guy next door). He was dressed in rolled up dungarees (for you youngsters these came before jeans) and a T-shirt. He went into the garage, pulled out a push mower and began to cut his mother's lawn!

Fabian cutting grass!

Well the two 12 year old girls were not slow at all; they ran next door and offered to help him. He said "uh… sure" and gave them each a rake. They raked the entire yard while he sat there watching them with a big Fabian smile on his face. Finally, he went in the house and came back with Cokes for all of them. That's when my friend had her brainstorm. She ran back to her cousin's house and returned with a package of paper sandwich bags. She got him to autograph the entire package. He didn't know what she was up to but I'm sure he figured it was worth it since he'd not had to rake the whole lawn.

Soon the teen idol left to do teen idol stuff. That's when my friend began collecting all the grass clippings in big grocery bags. She brought them home the next afternoon and brought them to my house along with the sandwich bags. We sat on my patio filling sandwich bags with the now drying grass clippings and sealing them with a stapler.

On Monday she took about half the sacks to her jr. high and I took the other half to St. Mikes. We sold the bags of grass clippings for 25 cents a bag! (yeah I know-later quarter bags of grass were highly prized in different circles!) We each made about $8.00 that week and sold out all our bags.

Never dawned on either of us to keep one for ourselves. I wonder what that bag would be worth now? Maybe Fabian would buy one!

I haven't seen my friend since 1961 I wonder if she went into marketing? Come to think of it I haven't seen Fabian in quite a while either. I wonder if he still cuts grass.

See ya down the road,