Interesting Stuff

Such a funny thing, this little book.


Last weekend, Our Garden, and my family’s gardening related history, was the subject of a story in the Sacramento Bee by the excellent garden writer Debbie Arrington. Go ahead. Give it a read. I’ll wait.

Pretty cool, huh?

This book is by no means a runaway bestseller (yet!–Ha!), but those who have read it have responded really kindly to it. It reminds me a bit of the feeling you get when you cook something you aren’t sure will be any good and then your kid says something along the lines of:

“I don’t hate it.”

Look–I take my victories where I can get them with kids eating a dinner I cooked. Regardless, I love it when people enjoy the book Steve and I worked on for so long. And it leads to interesting stuff.

A few nights ago, just after dinner, I got a call from a blocked number. As I’m too much of a wimp to watch horror movies that might scare me out of such a practice, I of course answered the call.

On the other end of the line was one Gerrie Fenton, or as my Dad remembers her, Mrs. Fenton. Mrs. Fenton was his third grade teacher.

Over the course of a conversation, I found out a number of cool things.

1. She recognized my Dad’s name from the article, looked me up, and wanted to reach out.

2. As a teacher, Mrs. Fenton loved all of her students, but she said that my dad was a really special kid that she “just couldn’t help remembering.”

3. She also socialized many years ago with my late grandparents and knew my dad’s two brothers. When she heard of my dad’s illness, she “immediately added him to her prayer list.”

4. She planned to attend the reading on Saturday 9/26 at Fairytale Town, but couldn’t make the reading on 9/27 because she was throwing a birthday party for a dear friend. Keep in mind she is 91!

So I mentioned all of these things to my Dad when I went to see him, and he remembers Mrs. Fenton’s class well. The thing he remembers most is where each student had to pick a US State and draw a scale map of it. He picked Pennsylvania.

Memo to teachers–students remember the cool stuff you do! I still remember my 4th grade teacher who would read to us every day after lunch. Thanks Mrs. Sherman!

I guess where I’m going here is that this book has been a really neat ride. And like gardens, you can plan and plant carefully, but once you lay the groundwork, sometimes things take on a life of their own. And it can be beautiful.

I’ve mentioned before my struggles in growing tomatoes this past year. It was just a weird year, with weird weather, and nothing really grew right. One of my family’s favorite tomatoes of all time happens to be the Snow White Cherry tomatoes that my dad usually starts for us. My wife and I eat them by the fistful, and they were the first produce from the garden that my daughter ever picked and ate all by herself. Our son isn’t really a fan, but hey, nobody’s perfect. So given my dad’s illness, I started some from a seed packet I ordered along with my motley crew of heirlooms and others.

But after these plants grew and started to produce tomatoes (and I use “produce” here very loosely), my siblings and I realized that they weren’t the Snow Whites we came to expect. They were larger and far less flavorful. Not a tragedy by any means, but still a bit disappointing.

So imagine my surprise when I realized that the volunteer tomato plant growing beautifully without ANY watering or other care of any kind between my neighbor’s driveway and mine was putting out actual SNOW WHITE CHERRY TOMATOES! I must have dropped a tomato in that area last year, or a squirrel did, or something, but that’s what they are.


So this West Sac driveway plant has now provided us with some seed tomatoes for next year. They are an unbroken line from a time when there were three generations of Domek gardeners working the soil.

Sometimes the best things in my garden are not exactly what I envisioned. And that seems to be true with Our Garden as well.

Thanks for reading.



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