Browsing Archives for July 2009

You know the kind of Fourth of July I am talking about?  


A house full of family and friends…ice cold potato salad… brats… a cute red and white checkered table cloth on an outdoor picnic table blowing in the breeze… deviled eggs… beer… more beer?

Every year for the past several years the Country Doctor has said, “Next year… next year will be different… Things will change… You will see… We will have a party and just relax with people that we love… I can do better… I can do things differently”

But he never does.





Our family spends the Fourth of July setting up for our small town’s parade.  





In the morning we sneak around behind all the houses and buildings that adjoin the main street and we steal their trash cans.  




We move the trash cans to the street where the crowds will sit and watch the parade.



We string bright yellow rope from one end of main street…



To the other end of main street…




We often find ouselves drinking two sodas at a time to keep up our strong.





The Country Doctor scratches his head as he tries to make all the dignitaries feel equally dignified, while simultaneously getting the various floats, tractors, antique cars, heavy equipment machines, bicycles, marching bands, Boy Scouts, church groups, gymnasts, twirlers, clowns, cheerleaders, veterans, politicians, and those insane old men in their funny hats and annoying little cars to line up and wait their turn.





Here go the dignitaries….




You want to know what I do while most of this is going on?





I sit beside the Country Doctor in a golf cart while he zooms up and down main street and keeps things moving.





He talks on the phone…




People give him sustenance in the form of meaty sticks…




And finally the horses show up which can mean only one thing….





These lovely ladies are on their way….








Every year they get all dressed up….




And then they scoop the poop the horses leave behind.


Maybe someday I’ll get a photo of it happening.


It is the best part of our parade.


And then my family goes home and crashes.


And gets up just in time to go see what the Pyro Crew has put together for a fireworks show down at the ball fields.


And that is how we spend our Fourth of July.


Except next year it will be different…


Won’t it honey?






Oh, it’s really kind of fun.


Just don’t tell the Country Doctor I said so!

As I traipsed through the internet looking for lodging for my family of six (two parents and four sons ages 7-14), I managed to find several options that were not quite as horrifically priced as the typical centrally located French hotel.  I thought I would jot them down for anyone else that might be in the same boat… or ‘le bateau’ as the Parisians say.

Reasonably Priced Paris Hotels… sort of…

First of all, there is no such thing as a reasonably priced hotel in Paris.  Be prepared to pay three times what you would pay for an American hotel room. There are no ‘Super 8′s’ or ‘Motel 6′s’ where they are leaving the light on for you.  If you want to be in the heart of the city or at least within a brief metro ride of the major sites, you are going to have to pay for it baby!  I did however find a few places to stay that were slightly more affordable than others…

The Appart’Valley Paris Austerlitz

Wonderful location within walking distance of Notre Dame, but also close to a Metro stop and just across the street from the Botanical Gardens.  All of their rooms appear to be equipped with a kitchenette allowing you to save some money by assembling a few meals yourself.  The larger apartments sleep four with an option for an extra bed.  The reviews are mostly good for this apartment/hotel, and depending on the size of your family, you may only have to rent one room.

L’Ermitage Sacre Couer

This hotel is twenty minutes from the center of Paris, but it is right behind the Sacre Couer putting you within walking distance of at least one must-see in Paris.  Every review I can find of this 24 room old mansion in Paris is excellent.  It also has rooms that can sleep four people for far less buck and far more bang.  If lovely decor and a room with a view means anything to you this might be your place.  At the time of this posting a room that could sleep four was priced at 145 euros, which is at least 50 euros less than what it would cost you in the 5th, 6th or 7th arrondissement which are all more central to the major sites, however you will have an awesome view from this hotel as it is sited atop a hill with excellent views of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower (you will need to request the view).  In my next life, I am staying at L’Ermitage.  It simply looks lovely.  Check out what Trip Advisor has to say about this charming little hotel.

Familia Hotel Latin Quarter

If a central location is a must-have for you and yours, than the Familia hotel might just be your best bet.  They have rooms that can sleep up to four people.  They also have rooms that can sleep three, two, and one.  You can mix and match and come up with a combo of rooms that might accommodate everyone without breaking the bank..  It is a superb location, as you can walk to Notre Dame, the Louvre, and Saint Chapelle.

Hotel Derby Garibaldi

This hotel is also a bit off the beaten path, but it offers a Metro stop just across the street with direct links to the Eiffel Tower.  You can get a large quadruple or a room that sleeps four for a very good deal if you do some shopping around on sites like expedia and  This hotel has very good reviews and the pictures of the rooms look very inviting and comfortable.

Helpful Websites

I found Trip Advisor to be the most helpful website to find information on Paris hotels and their prices, location, according to the number of people in your party, but Euro Cheapo is another one to check out if you are looking for two or three affordable hotel rooms to accommodate your larger family.


Sorry… I was not strong enough to explore this amazingly cheap option very long.  The reviews are just too grim, but if you are made of heartier stock than I, you can check out to possibly find a Paris hostel that has room for a family.

Vacation Rentals…

If you are interested in finding a space where the entire family can stay together, instead of having to book two or three or four rooms in a hotel, you might want to consider renting an apartment in Paris.  There are hundreds… maybe thousands of options and it is not difficult to find one that is centrally located and can sleep six or more people.  I found that searches on FlipKey and Ah Paris, yielded the best results.  Their sites are easy to navigate and you can set your parameters to include the number of people in your party, where you would like to be located, and how much you want to spend.  You can also search Trip Advisor for ‘vacation rentals’.  Great photos and reviews round out these sites as being the best place in my experience, to check out short-term vacation apartment rentals in Paris.  Some short-term rentals will allow a three day stay, but you can get a better deal if you stay for a week.

Ultimately, if you are looking for a vacation bargain, you have probably already struck Paris off your list, but there are values to be found if you are willing to spend the time looking.  Some of these more affordable hotels require a phone call to the actual hotel to book a room and some will only take cold hard cash for payment.  I am sure it is a way to keep their costs down and give the family on a budget a nice place to stay.  Bon Voyage!

Last weekend the Country Doctor was spending a little time fishing on our pond.  




I don’t know if I have every effectively communicated this to you before, but in general, self indulgent activities like fishing alone do not come easy to the Country Doctor.  There is not simply not enough bone crushing suffering involved to make the man miserable… which actually makes him happy… which is very hard to explain… but also very true.




Let me try to paint a picture for you.  If I were to mention the word ‘recreation’…

The Country Doctor would feel compelled to rehang all the doors and windows in the house.

If I say the word ‘relax’…

He will haul out all the crumbling board game boxes and tape them back together.

If I said, “Sit down honey and watch this movie with me and the kids.”  He will frantically dart to the nearest wheat field and start harvesting it with a dull scythe.

If I say vacation…

He begins to tear apart the old trampoline and re-fashions it into a batting cage.  

If I say, ‘take it easy!’

He will plant 150 trees before the sun goes down.

If I say, “Why don’t you take the day off!”

He plants 150 more trees.

So when I saw him clearly relaxing, clearly taking it easy, clearly indulging himself with a little peace and quiet, I had to take some photos.  

So I can prove it to him and myself later.

It was not until I developed the film, that the ghost showed up!



Can you see her?

That white glowing thing standing on the shore?

She seems to be talking to the Country Doctor!




No wait!

She’s looking at me!

Do you think she is trying to tell us something?




Was there a murder here?

Is she directing us to long hidden secret?

Is this a spirit trying to give us a message?

What does ‘hands on hips’ mean in the spirit realm?

Is this an angel?

Are their glad tidings?

Or is this a dire foretelling of dismal things to come?






It doesn’t look good!




I asked the Country Doctor if he saw her.



He said, ‘saw who?’

“The Ghost!  The Ghost!  The woman… in the glowing housecoat… on the shore … when you were fishing… did she say anything to you?”

The Country Doctor just looked at me and then went back to moving every tree he has ever planted on our land (of which there are thousands) exactly one foot to the West and nine inches to the North.  




But I have proof of her existence

And I have proof that he can relax.



Now I just have to decide how best to use this shocking information to further my own purposes.