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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Topsy Turvy Tiff (Update)

On May 26, 2011, I posted a blog about my retired neighbor’s Topsy Turvy Times.  To recap, in an effort to give her retired husband a hobby, my friend Rosie went with Henry to Walmart to buy a Topsy Turvy Tomato. For the price of $ 14.99, they would have all the tomatoes they could eat. That’s how the saga began.  Here is a quick summary of the events:

·         They realized that the Topsy Turvy doesn’t come with tomato plants. They headed back to Walmart to spend $30.00 on tomato plants.

·         Henry planted 15 pounds of tomatoes in the planter and then hung it outside on the balcony wall.  He realized there was not enough sun there for tomatoes. They went back to Walmart to buy a longer wrought iron plant hook for $10.00.

·         Henry drilled the balcony wall and hung the plant on the new hook.  Later in the day, he realized that half the container would always be against the wall and wouldn’t get any sun.  He decided it would be better if he built a stand for it. He drove to Home Depot to buy $20.00 worth of wood and $12.00 worth of screws.

·         He built a plant stand in the exact shape of the stick stand you would draw on a piece of paper if you were starting to play the Hangman word game. Henry was still unsatisfied.  He said, “You know, I can’t just keep this wood natural.” Henry ran to Home Depot to buy the best quart of white semi-gloss paint for $14.00.

·         Once Henry painted his plant stand bright white, he put it onto the balcony, hung his Topsy Turvy tomato plant.  But, all the next morning, Henry realized that his plant was only getting a few hours of sun a day. Henry took the wheels off Rosie’s favorite huge cactus plant and added them to his tomato stand.  This way, he could wheel the stand around all day to catch the sun for his Topsy Turvy tomatoes in various locations on the balcony.

·         After three days of peace, Henry called Rosie outside. He was red, sweaty and upset.  He noticed a round water stain on the floor of his balcony. Henry headed to Home Depot to buy a few 2” x 2” and 1” x 12” pieces of wood for $16.00.  He built a rectangular tray to catch the water that drips from the Topsy Turvy plant.

·         Henry was still unhappy because he didn’t want the new wooden tray, he just built, to get ruined by dripping water.  He ran into the kitchen pantry and grabbed one of Rosie’s favorite serving trays to put it onto the wooden tray he build to protect the wood from water stains.

·         When Henry invited me over to see the Topsy Turvy tomato. I said, “Henry, I hate to even say this, but the leaves on your tomato plants look shriveled.” He said, “You know, you’re right. I knew it too.”  He walked over to a small plastic tool cabinet and said, “I didn’t tell Rosie, but I went Walmart’s and bought this tomato food for $12.99.  I mix a ½ capful of food with a gallon of water.” I said, “Henry, Let me see that bottle.”  He passed me a yellow plastic bottle and after putting on my reading glasses, I read aloud, “Mix 1/3 cap of food with 2 gallons of water for 20 square feet of garden every 14 days. “Henry,” I added, “I think you’re killing your tomatoes with kindness.” Henry paused and stared, thinking hard. He walked around the plant stand once and said, “Rosie, get in the car.  I have to go to Walmart’s to get some new tomato plants.”

Well, recently when my husband came home from one of his food gathering expeditions, he mentioned that he ran into Henry and Rosie at Walmart.  Chuckling, he said, “Rosie and I couldn’t stop laughing. It turns out that the new tomato plants Henry planted in the Topsy Turvy Tomato stand were patio tomatoes.” My husband, an avid gardener, added, “Patio tomatoes are hybrids. The leaves are darker than most tomatoes. The fruit is much smaller and some consider the skin really tough.”  He continued describing how in the store Rosie was crossing her legs, trying not to pee her pants when she told my husband the update.  She said, ' Henry picked three tomatoes and put them on the table. 'That’s it?' I asked.  ‘They’re putrid!  I’m not eating those. You eat one first.’ Henry took one look at them and said, ‘I ain’t eatin that shit either!’  He picked up his three golf ball sized tomatoes and chucked them right into the trash. In the store, facing my husband, Rosie rolled her eyes behind Henry and used her pointer finger to make small circles around her right temple indicating that Henry was crazy. My husband chuckled again, “ When Henry turned around suddenly, Rosie stood like a statue and tried to look sad about Henry’s tomatoes."

A few moments later, when my husband saw Henry and Rosie in Walmart again near the cash registers, their moods had changed completely. Both of their faces were filled pride as they each pushed their own shopping cart as if they were baby carriages in which babies were nestled.  That’s because each cart, Rosie’s and Henry’s, contained one tall hearty new tomato plant sitting up straight in the toddler seat portion of the metal cart.  They delicately moved their tomato plants to the register and Henry pointed to his and said, “We’re starting from scratch.  We don’t want hybrid cars and we don’t want hybrid tomatoes!  These are normal!”

A week later, Henry and Rosie had a repair man in their condo to service their two central air conditioning units.  Henry, a former union tradesman, welcomed the opportunity to converse with another man who knew his way around a tool belt.  After the two men traded war stories, revealing their knowledge of complex cooling units,  the air conditioning service man mentioned that he spent some time after work in his garden.  With that, Henry invited the service man to step out onto his balcony for an exclusive private viewing of the Topsy Turvy Tomato stand.  After taking a step back to take in the six foot tall, bright white, hang man style, ornate Topsy Turvy Tomato stand-- with its custom-made humidity tray, the air conditioning man nodded his head and seemed quite impressed.  He said, “Henry, I can really appreciate the craftsmanship of this stand.  It’s outstanding work. ”  He paused, put his thumbs inside his tool belt and added, “I hate to tell you this, though…but the truth is that it’s WAY too late in the season to plant tomatoes.  They’ll never grow now.”

Rosie, who was standing just inside, behind the screen door listening, heard the air conditioning man’s comment and her shoulders sunk.  Without a word, she pushed the sliding glass door over to th side until it was fully closed, locked it, leaving the two men on the balcony. She left and went to the grocery store to buy a big juicy tomato to make herself a BLT for lunch.

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