Browsing Archives for June 2009

The Country Doctor has a real heart for taking in the downtrodden, the down on their luck, and the Debbie Downers. He likes to help them turn their lives around.  He gets a kick out of sprucing them up and giving them a new skill so that they can go out and make a real difference in the world.


Look!  I’ll even prove it!

Exhibit A…

Our old trampoline.  It is the behind the cake.  We had it for years.  We moved it from the old house to the new house.  To move it, the Country Doctor balanced it on top of our mini-van with it’s legs hanging down over the sides.  The highway patrolman who bought our old house helped the Country Doctor load it up and then he looked the other way when the Country Doctor drove off with it perched on the top of the van.

The trampoline was old when we moved it.  It had been patched, and re-patched, and patched again.  All the springs were sprung… except for the springs that were missing.  There came a point when every jump, by every child, seemed to be the rattling gasp of death.  We eventually had to stop using it.  The weeds grew up around it and we bought a new trampoline.









Exhibit B.

The Country Doctor, a man who hates to throw anything away.




Exhibit C.

Our old tramp undergoing the conversion process.

Can you guess what it eventually became?


I have some autographed Sarah Susanka books, and some autographed Mary Carol Garrity books, and a few pieces of Polish Pottery that I picked up on sale this weekend.  Tell me what you think it is and two lucky correct guessers will be chosen randomly to pick the item of their choice.

Comments will be moderated so you can’t cheat, though no one would of course!  

Contest ends Tuesday night when I get home from my son’s triple… yes triple header.

I awoke at the crack of dawn yesterday (which is 8:00 am in my world) and after staring at my garden for a while (which is my new favorite hobby) I made a pot of coffee and set about the task of finding a place for my family to stay during our upcoming three day visit to Paris.  ”How hard can this be?”  I thought, “All I need is a small, charming hotel with a fabulous bakery and picturesque flower stall just next door… that has a room large enough for all six of us… within minutes of all the major sights… for less than eighty dollars a night.  Surely Paris has literally millions of hotels like that!”

Hwahhhhhh Hawarrrhhhhhh Hwahhrrhrhhrhhr Awahwhhwhwhahahwhehwhh. Hooo Heee Ha ha ha ha ha ha HO!

Twelve hours later, I had eliminated the flower stall, the bakery, the charm, the central location, the tidiness and I had certainly eliminated the eighty dollar room price.  

Instead I was looking at spending more like $500.oo a night for two tiny rooms where the six of us would have to share four twin beds, in a far flung arrondissement (or burrough) that is a twenty minute subway ride to the next subway which will finally get you to the Eiffel Tower.

I gave up on finding an affordable hotel and switched to looking at ‘family hostels’.  I found several on Trip Advisor that have incredible prices starting at around $60.00 a night!  Thank God I thought!  My family will be able to sight-see AND still eat!  Then I started reading the reviews of the hostels and I saw far too many comments that said things like…

Bed Bugs…

Smelly mattress…

I watched the janitor snap on a pair of gloves, clean the toilet and then move over to the beds without changing his gloves.

There were some positive reviews too, but my mind pretty much shut down after ‘bed bugs’ and ‘smelly mattress’.

So I moved over to the idea of renting an apartment for three days…

I had a lot more luck with apartments.  I found several that were in a good locations (the 5th and the 6th arrondissement as Marilyn so wisely instructed me), could sleep six, and were slightly cheaper than two tiny hotel rooms that could only sleep four.  We would be able to make a few of our own meals in the tiny apartment kitchen, and live like real Parisians for a few days!  I sent thousands of emails to the various apartment owners telling them that we were a party of six which included two adults and four of the most well-behaved boys ages seven to fourteen that you have ever laid eyes on.  My boys  would never even think about turning a tiny living room into an indoor soccer field and in fact, my boys spend most of their time sitting quietly, praying, and doing crossword puzzles.  

This morning I eagerly checked my e-mail as all of these apartment owners promise to reply within 24 hours.  So far, I have heard from NONE of them.

Do you think it has something to do with the whole ‘four boys’ thing?  

Should I have lied and said I had ‘four daughters’ instead?  

Finally, I did what I should have done in the first place.  I consulted my Fodor’s guide to Paris.  Fodor’s mentioned one hotel that was centrally located, a bit Bohemian, but a great value.  I don’t mind Bohemian!  I love Bohemian!  I am Bohemian!  I checked out their web site.  I could get two ‘triples’ which means a room that sleeps three, for about a hundred dollars less a night than any other hotel I had found.  Around midnight, I sent off a very polite e-mail to this ‘Bohemiaan hotel’  

Bonjour! We are looking for rooms for two adults and four children ages 7, 11, 12, and 14. 

Your hotel looks lovely and I hope you have room for us! 

This morning there was a hot and fresh email in my inbox that still smelled of Bohemian baguettes and Bohemian cafe au lait.

Dear Madam, Sir,

It is with great care that we have read your request. Please find 

herewith the information about our establishment. Our 

charming Hotel located in the Latin Quarter, in the very heart of Old 

Paris , within walking distance of all the major monuments of Paris 

like: Notre-Dame Cathedral, Louvre Museum, The Oldest Zoological and 

Botanical Gardens of the World and the Luxembourg Gardens…

The email went on to give a description of each room including the view from each balcony.  It is still outrageously expensive and I am sure our rooms will be microscopic, but it is in a great location and the actually replied to my email without flinching about the whole four boys thing. I didn’t flinch either.

I booked it.

Now to find a charming, spacious, centrally located, vine covered English cottage, with a luminous garden, free scones and all the tea I can drink, from which to do all of our English countryside exploring…

for less that fifty bucks a night of course.

That shouldn’t be too hard.

Should it?

My Tomato Step Children

June 28th, 2009


I have two patches of tomatoes growing in my garden.  One of these patches I grew from seeds.  I nurtured them through their colicky baby-hoods.  I rocked them all night long when they had fevers.  I comforted them after they skinned their knees and taught them how to ride a bike.  They are my babies and I am very proud of their voracious growth.  






On the other hand…

I also have a patch of tomato plants that came into my life half grown.  I purchased them from the Garden Center where I work.   I bought several different varieties so that I could compare one variety to another.  I was calling this patch my ‘tomato test patch’, but I have come to realize that they are really my tomato step-children.  

And I am a lousy step-parent.





For instance, I was very concerned about mulching my own ‘natural born’ tomatoes with newspapers and cotton burr compost.  I did not want their tender baby leaves to come in contact with the cold hard earth and I wanted their roots to stay cool and moist.






As to my tomato step-children…

I just threw them in the lettuce patch and let them fend for themselves.






For my own baby tomato plants, I hand-crafted  some bamboo supports.  I lovingly tied each plant up so that it’s tender leaves would not dangle on the soil.   I check them every day to see if they need more support and if so, then I carefully tie up a few more branches.







As to my tomato step-children… a cheap wire cage was good enough.







For my ‘real’ tomato children, I surrounded their roots with specialized tomato spikes formulated especially for them.  

Sadly, my own baby tomato plants used up all the special fertilizer spikes before I could get over to my tomato step-children.






A few weeks later when my tomato step-children started to look especially anemic, I purchased some cheap generic fertilizer and haphazardly applied it to the plants.  







My ‘real’ tomato children are big, bushy and dark green.  They are full of blossoms and heavy with fruit.  I can’t stop looking at them!  I am so proud of them!








My tomato step- children are lime green, spindly, and weak.  






They are constantly trying to get my attention by producing big round fruit, but I hardly notice them.  


All I see are my own babies…


Growing so big and strong…

Look how gorgeous they are!






My beautiful babies!


Thank God they are only tomatoes!