Day 1: Terrance the Tomato

GRAMMY MIAMI AND THE CASE OF A MYSTERIOUS, DISAPPEARING, INTER-DIMENSIONAL SPACE (NOT TIME) TRAVELER NAMED LUCU (A YOUNG, FEMALE, AFRICAN ELEPHANT)

CHAPTER 1

The story starts when Grammy Miami decides on a rather ordinary, spectacular, sunny day to plant Terrance the Tomato. 

This is it! Grammy thinks to herself.  I’m a gardener now.  Yikes!

Realizing that she is going to need some expert help, Grammy picks up the phone and makes a call.

Terrance the Beef Master
Terrance the “Beef Master” Beefsteak Tomato

 

Kelly age 2 Kenosha
Kelly Jean Jelly Bean Prettiest Girl I’ve Ever Seen age 2.5

Kelly Jean, Jelly Bean Prettiest Girl I’ve Ever seen (her oldest daughter) answers the phone.  Kelly is also mom (or “mum” as they say where she lives) to Grammy’s two granddaughters:

“Well Kel,” says Grammy to her oldest daughter,  “I just planted my first vegetable. His name is “Terrance the Tomato.”  I named him for my great-great-great-grandfather.”

“Well, congrats Mom.  I’ll let you speak to the expert.”  Grammy’s oldest daughter Kelly then hands the Face Phone over to her oldest daughter, Evie.

 

Grammy’s oldest granddaughter, Evie “Ouiji” Glenhawk is an expert gardener.  Even though she is still only 4-years old, she has successfully grown her own sunflowers and is “spooky good” at knowing how to care for all sorts of plants.  That’s how she got her nickname “Evie Ouiji.”

Because of this expertise, Grammy decides on that spot that Evie will be her Top Plant Investigator from that day forward.  Her official title is Evie “Ouiji” Glenhawk.*

*Author’s Aside:  Of course,  “Glenhawk” is not her family’s real last name.  They have to use code names because Evie, her sister Millie, her mother Kelly and her father Thomas are Quite Important People (QIP) in a Very Secret Organization that Helps Everyone in the World. (VSOTHEITW)  Because of this, no one can know their real names or see their true identities.  That’s why all photos of Evie and Millie are masked and all photos of Kelly Jean Jelly Bean Prettiest Girl I’ve Ever Seen are photos of when she was very young.

Evie Ouiji Glenhawk

 

“Hello Evie!” says Grammy happily.

“Hello Grammy,” Evie replies.  Since they are using a Face Phone, they can also smile and wave to each other, and they do.

“Just think Evie,” says Grammy, her dark eyes sparkling and her long silver hair tangling in the wind, “it’s only 9’oclock in the morning here and it’s already 1 o’clock in the afternoon there.  That means that the sun has been awake longer on your side of the world than it has been on my side. Isn’t that amazing?”

“Grammy,” says Evie “Ouiji” Glenhawk in her most posh British accent, “the sun is always awake. Now, let me say hello to Terrance.”

“Right!” says Grammy.  Grammy holds the phone up so that Evie can see Terrance the Tomato and Terrance can, presumably, see Evie. For the next few minutes they, presumably, have a conversation, but it’s totally in silence so Grammy isn’t quite sure.

Suddenly a quiet little voice pipes up.

“Lellyfant.”

Millie the Chilly

“Millie?” Grammy hears Kelly Jean Jelly Bean (and so on) ask her youngest daughter. “Where is the elephant?”

“Lellyfant is dere,” Grammy hears Millie say.

Over Evie’s indignant protests, Kelly takes the phone and turns it toward Millie.

“I wasn’t done speaking to Terrance Mummy!”

“One moment, please, Evie.”

Grammy looks into the Face Phone and sees Millie pointing at the phone.

“Next to Terrnz,” says Millie. “Lellyfant.”

“Mummy, please?” Evie insists.

“One second Evie. I just need to understand what Millie is trying to say. You will get a turn again. Now Millie, you see an elephant next to Terrance the Tomato?”

“Yes.” Millie nods happily, then goes back to playing with her blocks.

Tin City Kitty Pow

Tin City Kitty pipes up. “The kid’s right, Grams. We’ve got company.”

Grammy is so startled, she nearly drops the phone.

TC struts over to Terrance, sticks out a paw and puts it down on a spot on the ground near the garden fence next to Terrance.

“There,” says TC.  He backs away and sits down on the ground to wait.

A small elephant shape fades into view like a photo developing on the air.

Lucu 3

“Oh!” says the elephant. “That was hard!”  She looks around, spots Grammy, TC and Kelly on the Face Phone, and smiles. “Hi.” she says.  “It’s nice to meet you.  I’m so glad I made it.  I’m Lucu!”

Grammy gasps and sits down so suddenly on the grass that she does drop the phone this time.

“Hey, watch it!” says a miffed Tin City Kitty. “You almost sat on me.”

“Mom? You okay?”

“Grammy! Where are you?” Evie calls out. “All I can see is the sky.”

TC struts over to the phone on the ground and looks down into it.

“Hey kid. Grammy’s a little shook up right now. She’ll be right back.”

“Hello TC,” Says Evie. “Thank you for letting me know. How are you?”

“I was almost a pancake a minute ago, but I’m fine.”

“Kitty!” Millie calls happily.

Grammy is still staring at Lucu and blinking in confusion.

“Grams, you okay?” TC rubs up against her back and purrs.

“Hmm? Oh. Sorry.” She picks up the phone and smiles at Kelly, Evie and Millie, now all looking at the Face Phone. “Hello darlings. One moment while I speak to our guest okay? See?”

Grammy turns the phone back to Lucu.

“Oh my!” says Kelly.

“Wow!” says Evie.

“Lellyphont,” says Millie, very calmly.  (Thus, her nickname, Milly “the Chilly.”

“Exactly,” says Grammy. “So Lucu, tell me about yourself. It’s very nice to meet you, but such a surprise to find a young elephant in my brand-new garden. How did you know my name? And why did you come to visit us?”

“It’s such a pleasure to meet you Grammy,” Says Lucu. “It’s a pleasure to meet all of you!  I came to meet you because your friend Wish told me about you. Well, she told all the trees about you. They got word to me by way of the TRUNC (tree-root-underground-communication-network). I came because I need your help.”

“Wait, what? Wish? Who?”

“Wish is your pear tree.” Lucu smiled. “She told us that she named herself “Wish” because she was given to you on your birthday two years ago as a surprise. You were so happy you cried tears of joy. One of those tears fell on her leaves as you were planting her out front. Those tears are very powerful magic! When a tree tastes those tears, they know a person’s heart, and life and they can feel the emotions of the person strongly. Wish loves you very much and, when she heard from her friends through the long-distance TRUNC about what is happening over here with the elephants, she knew you would want to try to get people to know about it and to help.”

Wish

“Oh…” Grammy is so surprised and so filled with emotion she can hardly speak.

“I have to go!” Lucu said suddenly. “It’s very hard to keep this communication open. It takes a lot of mental concentration because it opens an inter-dimensional space portal. Not time though. I’m not ready for that. Henrietta my friend told me about how to do it.”

“Is Henrietta a hippo?” Grammy asks, almost absently.

‘Yes!” says Lucu. “But how did you know that? She was named for her great great grandmother who was named by a little girl who was given a book written by a young girl many years ago called…

“Calmont the Lion Cub,” says Grammy. “Yes. I wrote that book for that little girl when I was 13-years old. She was having trouble reading and my teacher asked if I wanted to help.

‘Oh! This is so amazing! This is meant to be Grammy! I can’t wait to tell Henrietta I met you…”

But her voice was fading.

Evie, Kelly and Millie had watched this entire conversation on the Face Phone and they were all as startled as Grammy when Lucu, who was saying, “I.ll be back as soon as I ca…” suddenly POOF! Disappeared.

“Huh,” said TC. “You really don’t see that every day.”

“Grammy,” said Evie in a firm but polite voice. “May I speak to Terrance for one moment please?”

“Hmm? Oh sure Evie. Thank you for being so patient.” Grammy turned the phone to Terrance and another silent conversation ensued for a moment or two.

“Alright Grammy,” Evie said when a few silent moments had passed.  “Here’s how to take care of Terrance. First, he needs as much sunshine as he can get. Also, he hates to get wet. Only his roots like the water, but only his lower roots drink it. So water him at the ground. Also his upper roots eat plant food which he will need two times a week, and his lower roots drink. Isn’t that amazing? He is happy with that cage you gave him. It will help him stay strong and he can lean on it when he starts to grow the big tomatoes. He is very strong, but those tomatoes are called “Beef Master Beefsteaks” and they are going to get huge. Also Grammy he would love some company. Tomatoes especially love Basil plants because they help keep the very bad white flies away from the tomatoes. Oh and he loves jazz, especially Sonny Rollins music.”

“Oh me too. Evie thank you so much sweetie! You are so smart.” Grammy smiled at her oldest granddaughter.

“You’re welcome Grammy. Will you be planting basil tomorrow?”

“Yes, I will. I’ll let you know…”

“Well, in case we can’t speak, basil needs sun too and needs to be pinched back often even if you don’t use the leaves. It doesn’t need fertilizer because you keep harvesting it. I have a basil friend in my school named Bellisima, and she told me all about herself last week. Everyone is growing basil.”

“That’s excellent Evie! Thank you. I’ll talk to you soon. I love you sweetie.”

“Goodbye Grammy. I love you too. Goodbye TC.”

“See you kid.”

“Mom, Millie wants to say goodbye to you and TC, then we have to go. We’re headed to the park this afternoon.”

“Bye Gram Gram,” said Millie with a shy smile. “Bye TC.”

“Goodbye sweetheart. Kisses!”

“Bye Millie,” said TC. “Time for a nap,” he said, and strutted off to lie on the bench in the back yard.

“I’ll talk to you soon darling,” said Grammy to Kelly Jean, Jelly Bean, Prettiest Girl I’ve Ever Seen.

“Mom, are you okay? That elephant — Lucu — that was so strange. And you said you wrote a book and …what about that thing about your pear tree? That’s all so — well, it’s, rather odd isn’t it?”

Grammy grinned. “Kel, you’re developing that British talent for understatement. It is indeed odd and amazing and so incredible. I can’t wait to go talk to Wish and tell her all about Lucu’s visit. I talk to her almost every day so…”

“To your tree? Are you serious?”

Grammy smiled at her oldest, very level-headed child. “Oh quite serious. Don’t worry, I whisper. And I wear headphones and carry my phone so if anyone in the neighborhood sees me, I just look like I’m talking on the phone or singing. Oh that’s an idea!” says Grammy, looking delighted.

“What’s an idea?” asks Kelly. She looks vaguely uneasy.

“I could sing to her…”

“Well Mom I do have to go,” Kelly Jean Jelly Bean says. “Talk soon. Love to everyone.

“Oh Joe says hi. He’s helping me plant the begonias but right now is at the library. He wanted some new cookbooks.”

“Right. Well tell him I love him. Maybe we can see him next time.”

“I will darling girl. I love you so much. See you soon!”

Grammy hung up the phone. She bent down and patted Terrance. “Welcome to our garden Terrance,” she said. She looked down at her phone, scrolled to some music on YouTube, and soon the beautiful and happy song, “St. Thomas” featuring Sonny Rollins filled the air. She set her phone on the ground near Terrance and went out front to speak to Wish.

 

 

TOMATO-GROWING TIPS

  • Needs as much direct sunlight as possible
  • Needs shelter from wind
  • Likes compost on top of soil over roots
  • Likes to be next to Basil (white lfy is drawn to basil instead of tomatoes)
  • Likes to be next to garlic, nasturtiums or tagetes to repel aphids.
  • Needs support like nets or cages
  • Water the soil not the plant. Hates getting wet.
  • Loves to get a seaweed comfy feed 1x/week (the fruit love the potassium)
  • Water little and often – encourages steady growth and helps avoid split fruit.
  • Put a pipe directly into the ground near tomato because they have two kinds of roots: The high roots eat and the low roots drink so the pipe gets the water to the roots that drink more quickly.
  • Pinch away any shoots that develop between stem and main branches because they take up too much energy from the rest of the plant.
  • Cut off the top of the plant, especially outdoor plants after it has six sets of fruit. This helps it to focus.
  • Bring any tomatoes that are still not ripe at the end of summer indoors and put a banana with them. The ethylene from the banana helps them to ripen.
  • Pick off leaves once they start to fruit around the tomatoes to give the fruit lots of sun.From The Guardian – “Tomato Tips”
    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2010/may/18/growing-tomatoes
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