Thursday, May 29, 2014

Memoir of a Flower Delivery Person

Design Sponge photo
I believe that to be a good writer, you must read, read, read. I think C.S. Lewis nailed it when he wrote, "We read to know we are not alone." Listening to other voices helps us to find our own, and, even as old as I am, I know I still have much to learn.

I have been a subscriber to Design*Sponge for a long time and enjoy the people profiles they do which always include lots of great photos. Last week they did a story called "A Day in the Life of Ruthie Lindsey," an interior designer, stylist and creative director who seems to be well known on Instagram. Lindsey talked about how much she loves springtime and all the flowers that appear at this loveliest time of year. She uses them often in her design work and, from the photos, she has a true affinity for showcasing a variety of blossoms. She said, "I think being a delivery girl for a florist would be such fun - you get to make people SO happy!"

After I finished reading her story and drooling over those wonderful pictures, I went back to that paragraph to re-read that sentence. You see, I once worked as a delivery girl for a florist.

I lived in Key West from 1975-1982. It was a great place to be as a young woman in my twenties, but, with no college education, it was a challenge to make a livable wage. I do not remember ever having less than two jobs. The usual arrangement was a full time job as a typesetter and a part time job as a waitress or barmaid. I was always combing the Classified Ads in the local newspaper, the Key West Citizen, for a job that paid more. It's what you do in your twenties, isn't it? Then, one day, while eating lunch and browsing the want ads, a little ad caught my eye: "Flower Delivery Driver; part-time; some shop duties. Good pay."

Yep. I called.
The flower shop, American Beauty Florist, was located on Truman Avenue, across the street from my day job at Green Street Graphics. The irony of that was not lost on me, either. I spoke to a man, Larry, and he wanted me to come in for an interview the next day.

Now, I don't have any idea how many people applied for that job. It was summer 1979, so I'm thinking 'not many.' It's not like it was a career building job. It was the kind of job that a retired person might do for extra income.

I don't remember a lot of the details of the interview. Larry did most of the talking, with occasional questions coming from his wife, Judith. They were older, somewhere in the neighborhood of 50, and they had two doberman pinschers, so I knew they were cool. I do remember the very last question though. Judy asked it. "Can you type?"

"Well, shucks! Yeah!" I answered, quickly! Larry asked when I could start; how about the next day? And, that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. I would go on to work for Judy and Larry until I left Key West in 1982. Whenever I went back for a visit, I would call ahead and arrange for a visit with them while I was in town. There were a couple of Fantasy Fest weekends when I drove down from Fort Lauderdale and was their house guest. I loved them both and, as Judy often said, Larry thought I was special. He always held me accountable for my performance, but it was always crystal clear that he liked me. He may have been the first man I ever knew that liked me for me.

There was an art to delivering flowers in Key West in those days. Key West was only just beginning to become the tourist destination it is today. It was still very much a Navy town. Larry knew the island like the back of his hand, so in the beginning, he would mark where I was going on a map and the order the deliveries were to take. The roses always were delivered first! I drove a white Chevrolet van with no air conditioning and the typical route was a big circle around the island. Larry was very particular about how the flowers were presented. I was supposed to park as close to the door of my destination as I could and leave the motor running. I'd pull back that sliding door, check the name on the card that was tucked into the bouquet with the name on my list, grab the bouquet, sliding the door closed, and knock on a door announcing, "American Beauty!" He was very specific about that and I worked as though he were right behind me, watching every move I made. I knew he knew a lot of folks, so I wasn't taking any chances. I liked this job and I wanted to keep it, so I didn't need any tattletales telling Larry I didn't do it right!

I delivered flowers to the U.S. Naval Air Stations at Truman Annex and Boca Chica. I delivered uncut flowers to La Terraza de Marti, the Pier House and the Casa Marina twice a week. I delivered flowers to churches for weddings and funerals, and to homes and apartments for anniversaries and birthdays. My personal favorite was delivering flowers to the hospital on Stock Island for the newborn babies. Judy created the most adorable bouquets of flowers, whether for a boy or a girl, and it was delightful to be the one to present them to a new mother. I picked up flowers from the Key West airport twice a week unless it was a flower holiday. Then, I picked up three times a week. My little pooch, Snuggles, always accompanied me on deliveries and we loved the ride on South Roosevelt Boulevard along the ocean to get to and from the airport.

Snuggles, keeping watch
at the front door of the shop.
Snuggles was a cockapoo and had the sweetest disposition of any dog I've ever known. Judy loved her dearly and Snuggles spent a great deal of her time in Judy's lap, unless we were delivering flowers. She was very popular at LaTeDa and the Pier House and her popularity allowed me the opportunity to meet some amazing people. Larry would get calls for flowers, but only if Snuggles delivered them. That's how we met Tennessee Williams, Calvin Klein and Nancy Friday, among others.

The big flower holidays were (and, still are) Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, although Larry did quite a good business at Thanksgiving and Christmas. He was a hustler and American Beauty Florist was a success for those many years because he had a good business brain and Judy had a fabulous design gene. They had good people working for them, too.

Of all the jobs I have had in my lifetime, working for Judy and Larry was my favorite job ever. I worked my butt off delivering flowers; it was very physical work and Larry was always watching the clock. He knew how long it should take. But, I loved it! No one was ever unhappy to receive flowers, and there's something to be said for a job that always delivers smiles!

Ruthie Lindsey said, "I think being a delivery girl for a florist would be such fun - you get to make people SO happy!" I'm here to tell you she is absolutely right!

Larry passed away in 2007, and, fortunately for me, I got a chance to visit with him that summer. Judy passed away in 2012 and I still have the last note she sent with her annual Christmas card. They were, without question, a wonderful couple and I'm glad they were a part of my life. The last time I saw Larry, he sent me home with a frangipani tree in a pot. I planted it in my back yard and today it is about 15 feet tall and covered with fragrant white flowers. My darling husband thinks it's funny that I call the tree "Larry," but I'm sure that wherever he and Judy are, they're looking down smiling. Once a flower person, always a flower person! Right?

Friday, May 9, 2014

How many pins is too many?

Don't look at me like that.
I know it sounds like a really dumb question.

I'm talking about Pinterest of course. Pins on pin boards. How many is too many?

I was tooling around Pinterest today. I get a weekly email showing me boards I might want to follow. The message is assembled based on my pins and 'likes' on the site, and, I don't mind if they keep track of that kind of data. Considering the kinds of things I pin, I think it's pretty harmless. We're talking about art and fashion dolls, clothes and kitchens, favorite movies and Marilyn Monroe. These are the same things most every other pinner on Pinterest is interested in. I'm sure of it. A flock of folks obsessed with pinning. Why it has become a twenty-first century sport!
Sampler Blanket from Ravelry

So, you're probably wondering why I ask this question. Okay. I'll tell you.

Labores De Aguja. It means "needlework" in Spanish. A lovely needlework image was offered under the "Boards To Follow" section, so I clicked on it. The name of the board was "Labores De Aguja" and there were 9,572 pins. Nine thousand, five hundred and seventy two.

Holey mackerel! It would take two days to look through 9,572 pins!

This got me to thinking about my own pin boards. I'm not in a profession that would make Pinterest useful to my business. I simply love dolls, fashion and art, and any combination thereof. However, I had recently capped my board, "Lookbook As I See It" at 1,000 pins. I realized that was enough. I even considered that it is too many.
Then, today, while researching for this blog post, I saw that my "Type & Art, plain & simple" board has 1,098 pins.

Oh, yeah. Clearly, I need to sort through them and create new boards that are more specific. Maybe one for "Type" and one for "Art." I have one dedicated to "Watercolors" and it has definitely made it easier to find an item than, say, having to pore through a thousand pins. Yep. I think I'm gonna do that.

I don't know if other folks use their pin boards for reference. I often refer to my "Good Eats" board for those saved recipes. And, my board, "My Style & then some..." has been a lifesaver when shopping. I always have to show the stylist what I want at Supercuts because I don't always get the same stylist. And, I pin clothing purchases so I can refer to them when I'm shopping if I want to match color or some other little detail. I actually use them.

Who knew?

So, as I question my own use of Pinterest, I realize I must also edit my "Fashion Dolls" pin board. That one has more than 1,600 pins, and that's waaayy too many! How am I going to divvy those up?

Well, I guess you can figure out what I'm going to do during my down time today. Yep.

Sift and sort my doll pins. It's sort of like pulling weeds. It's an opportunity to bring order to something in my life, and considering there are so many things I have no control over, it's nice to be able to do this and see the results.

Enjoy your day!

And, hey! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Top 5 Best Ever List

As my regular readers know, I am a doll collector. Recently, there was a thread on the W Club Forum asking for everyone's "Top 5 Best Ever List" for the Poppy Parker doll. It was a fun thread to read, and I learned a lot about the facial screenings of the dolls. It seems they're not all the same. The lists were as varied as the W Club members posting them! Some liked blondes, others, brunettes. There were so many different reasons for why a person chose these dolls over those. And, for some, it was a simple list of 7 or 9 or 12 dolls because they couldn't decide which ones were the "5 best ever." Some people posted beautiful photos, so it will come as no surprise that it took me quite a while to read through all the posts because I had to stop and drool over all the beautiful images of my favorite dolls.

So, in the spirit of all things fun, I posted my "Top 5 Best Ever List." I thought it would be fun to share my list here, with photos.

No. 1: Coney Island Saturday was my first Poppy Parker doll. She was part of the 2010 Mainline Collection when Poppy was still "new."  I bought her on clearance on Marl & B's web site and had her for about six months before I ever took her out of the box. Why I waited so long, I couldn't tell you. She was something new and I wasn't sure I was going to like her. I was apprehensive about the "Fashion Royalty" dolls so many of my doll friends collected. I really didn't have room in my life for anyone other than Barbie (and, Momoko, but that's another story!), so I wasn't in a rush. When I finally deboxed her, I redressed her in some Randall Craig fashions and took her picture. This is my first photo of her. When I saw it on the computer screen, it was over. I was in love!

No. 2: I Love How You Love Me 
(aka ILHYLM or 'Love Me') was a DOLLS magazine exclusive gift set offered in January 2011. She was limited to 300 sets and cost $150 for those lucky enough to purchase her. I was NOT one of those persons. :(

Today, as I write this blog entry, there is one for sale on ebay with 13 bids (so far) and the winning bid is currently $620. The auction closes in six hours.

Here's a closeup photo of her so you can see why I am so infatuated with her. (The photo is by JennFL on Flickr.)  According to knowledgeable folks on the W Club Forum, "To The Fair" has the same facial screening. I was lucky enough to get her and the link is to my photo of her! Still, I would love to have this beautiful girl at my house, even if it was just as a weekend guest. I would take lots of photos of her so I could say I had seen her in person.


No. 3: The Young Sophisticate
This beautiful girl was the 2013 W Club Member Exclusive. It is said she has the same facial screening as Bergdorf Goodman Fashion's Night Out, which was a small issue of 200 dolls, sold at Bergdorf's in September 2010. (Bergdorf is the holy grail of many Poppy collectors.)

You had to be a club member to be able to purchase The Young Sophisticate. I owe my doll friend, Randall Craig, a huge amount of gratitude for encouraging me to join W Club. It has been one of my most gratifying doll experiences since I joined in 2011. It is, without question, the best way to get Poppy. The secondary market is killer to any doll budget!

No. 4: She's Not There
This little honey pie was part of the 2012 Mainline Collection and was limited to 600 dolls and cost $99. I almost didn't get her. I really like her. A lot! She's one of my favorite dolls to redress. She came in a Mod fashion, but the red fishnet stockings bled onto the white boots, so I stashed those things away and she has since been my favorite model. I especially like her short hair. (Reminds me of me!)

No. 5: Joyful in Japan was part of the "Mainline Collection" of Poppy Parker. Issued in 2013, she was one of six dolls, with each doll reflecting a different country as would have been appropriate during the 1964 World's Fair. She was a limited edition of 750 dolls and sold for a mere $89. I could only afford one of the six dolls, and I'm so glad I got her. While the others are all beautiful in their own way, she appeals to my conservative side of being a "prim and proper lady!" She was, I believe, the last of the six dolls to sell out, too. I think it may have been the kimono that put collectors off. She came dressed in a lovely pink kimono which didn't have much fashion going for it. After all, Poppy was visiting Japan and that is what she would have worn. It took a while, but finally she sold out, and photos began to appear. Let me just say, Oh! Boy! Once collectors got her in hand, they realized how stunning she is! Her face, her hair, all perfectly aligned! And, no matter how you dress her, it suits her! Vintage or modern, doesn't matter. She is a really beautiful doll and the hundreds of photos on Flickr prove it!

I had the good fortune to attend the IT Convention in Los Angeles last November and I met David Buttry, the designer of Poppy Parker. He is a marvelous graphic designer whose favorite era of design was the 1960s. I think he was influenced by America's discovery of color TV because so much of who Poppy is can be linked to that generation of "The Jetsons" and "Laugh-In." David is a kind and gentle man and I'm thrilled beyond words that I had a chance to get to know him a little. I hope I get a chance to know him a little better next time!

So, there you have the Top 5 Best Ever Poppy Parker Dolls, according to me! Odds are the list will change over time, but, then, that's what collecting is all about, isn't it?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I wish I had more time ...

Life sure does get in the way, doesn't it? It seems that no matter how inspired I'm feeling, I just don't make time to do the things I really want to do. Have you ever set out to make dinner, thinking you'll get to it after and the next thing you know, it's 8:30 and you figure you might as well just read a few news articles or watch a TV show and then go to bed? After all, one has to rise early to go to work in the morning.

That's how many of my days end. I leave the office with the idea I'm going to work on a project, even if only for a few minutes. Then, I arrive home and the cat's litter box needs to be cleaned and the trash needs to be emptied and there's dishes to wash and laundry to be folded. Then, dinner ... then ... 

There you go. The next thing I know, Monday has melted into Friday and it's the weekend and the darling husband has other plans and all I want to do is work on restoring the Skipper doll I won for a great price on Ebay or resume work on that scrapbook from our last vacation three years ago.

I need to make a commitment. How can I scrub Skipper or glue pictures when the weeds are taking over in the garden? How can I work on my watercolor painting skills when the recycling bin is overflowing and the cats are meowing at me to brush them?
Yes, this one.

I sense a huge burst of creativity on the horizon, once all of this housekeeping fuss has died down, of course.

Take a look around. 
Any projects you've been delaying forever?