Ray Bradbury has always been one of my writing idols. I read his stories when I was a kid, and I read them in college, and I taught them in ALL my classes, both art and English classes... from Nebraska to California. Imagine realizing that, after we moved to California, we lived only 40 miles down the road from him!
Might as well have been 4,000 miles, though. But I knew that I was breathing the same air as he was! ...close enough.
One day, quite by accident, I saw on the computer that HE was going to be at a neighborhood theater in Pasadena where he lived and where they were producing one of his plays. Pasadena! It's one of my favorite towns in So Cal. There's a little French market/bistro there run by a Parisenne lady who sells long, square sticks of violet marshmallows and hand-made lemon caramels... YUM! She used to have another little store there, too, that carried the most beautiful French woven pillows, the likes of which I'd only seen in museums. I have two of them, one with a sparrow sitting on clusters of cherries, and one with a large, opened yellow day-lily woven into the fibers. Her taste is exquisite!
And, oh, the salads... I will give you one of the recipes I serve every time we have company or I need to bring a dish to someone's house. It'll be at the end of this post. It's perfection, to me!
Anyway, I saw that I could buy tickets, and such was so!
We drove up there the night of the play, and found the playhouse to be a converted lovely old casita there on the corner of the street. Right inside the door was a little reception room, and there he was... Ray Bradbury! He was sitting in his wheelchair (I knew he'd had a stoke) in front of a small table surrounded by his books. I could talk to RAY BRADBURY himself, after all these years of admiring his work and wondering what that genius would be like in actual person! I could buy a book and have it signed by RAY BRADBURY himself! I could... my husband said that he'd stand over in the corner and wait for me while I gasped and gushed and gazed...
But I didn't just want a book signed, I wanted to tell him how much I admired his writing and his inventive mind and his originality and his tight story-telling and...
But he was in a wheelchair, and I was stanidng in front of him, and it felt all wrong. I have a long-standing procedure with folks in wheelchairs, since I was in one myself because of my mediocre skiing ability. I like to be on an eye-to-eye level, not a looking-down-at eye level, so I always get down on my knees to visit with them. Mr. Bradbury seemed pleased with that arrangement, too. I wanted to look into the eyes of a genius! And I did! And he WAS!
After I told him how I'd used his works to teach English students writing, and to teach art students drawing, and to teach myself all kinds of stuff, I asked him if he would mind having his picture taken with me. Below is the result. By the way, the medal around his neck is a medal bestowed on him by the French govenment, and it is quite grand!
The theater was tiny... all the better to see Mr. Bradbury so close. It sat about 104 playgoers, and we were two of them! The play was grand, but the BEST part was that Mr. Bradbury wheeled himself in to the theater and gave the audience some of his thoughts about the play and his work. Stunning!
A YEAR PASSED.....................
I saw that there would be another of his plays performed, and we'd be there, too. I'd planned to make this a yearly event for the Waldron's. We went, and he was there, again, in the reception room, and I bought another of his books, and we talked again, me on the floor and he in the chair. He'd had some more health problems through that year, but when we talked, he remembered me. That was the most special moment ~ that he would remember me a year later!
Wisely, you can see that he'd put "crib notes" on his hand, too! We had so much in common, Mr. Bradbury and I. Wonder if he'd ever cheated in Latin class before?
That was the last play by Ray Bradbury that was performed there, though. He'd gotten worse, and then Ray Bradbury passed away, a little while after that. There's never been anyone like him... ever...
THE RECIPE FOR A GREAT FRENCH SALAD:
1 can of hearts of palm
1 basket of tiny grape tomatoes
Many tiny Nicoise olives (being a Californian, I buy low-salt Lindsy ripe olives)
Whole baby artichokes*, cut vertically (I do use canned artichoke hearts, myself, though)
Freshly made FRENCH vinegrette
Cut the hearts of palm into 1" thick discs.
Toss in the grape tomatoes.
Sprinkle with olives.
Lovingly, place the artichoke hearts into the mix.
Drizzle on the vinegrette, and VOILA!
Place a scoop of this salad on the prettiest lettuce leaves you can find, put on French music, and
you're in heaven
* If, for some reason, I could only have ONE food to eat for the rest of my life, I'd pick artichokes...
MUST-READ SHORT STORIES and NOVELS by RAY BRADBURY: ALL OF THEM!