Thursday, November 23, 2017

I live in Rivendell

Among the elves. Our deck looks like a scene from the Lord of the Rings. Arwen tells Elrond that she has chosen a mortal life. "There is no ship now that can bear me hence," she says. And she drops a book. There are leaves blowing around on the floor. Like there are on my deck.

Arwen drops her book on the floor.

I dropped my book on the deck.

Speaking of leaves, I got the raking done under the maples out front. Those leaves are now in the garden plot. This morning it's windy and the leaves are blowing around (but not too much). Oh well.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Crushed can with shards

Not much to say today. My big plans: raking leaves. The two big maples in front are bare and the leaves are on the ground. And they're dry. With rain expected by Friday, I want to get out there move the leaves to the garden plot. It shouldn't take long once I get started.

The can was probably crushed by car tires moving along this dirt road.

The leaves under the linden tree out back are still not all down. And yet, the ground beneath the tree is covered with a golden carpet. I probably won't be motivated to do much about that today, except for maybe clearing the walkway. That would be a good thing to accomplish.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tasha Tuesday

With Bert. Whenever there is something going on in the kitchen, there is the possibility of food. At least from the perspective of the dog and cat. Tasha and Bert often join forces to elicit compassion in the chef, hoping for a handout, a tasty morsel or, at the very least, something inadvertently dropped onto the floor. Stuff happens.

Tasha and Bert plan their strategy while Ken works at the kitchen sink.

Something funny (from my perspective) happened on Monday: Tasha discovered the back window of the car. We took two cars to the garage so we could drop one off for its oil change. Tasha and I were in the lead and Ken followed behind us. I told Tasha that he was back there and she just happened to look behind. Then she couldn't stop looking behind. She turned around and put her front paws up on the seat back to watch the car behind us. I don't know if she actually could see that it was Ken following us, but she was fascinated. I laughed the whole way over to the garage.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The living room

This time of year it's often dark. Cloudy, foggy, rainy, whatever. I usually have a fire in the wood stove for heat. It helps us save on fuel oil. I also like to light candles. It gives some light and some color in the room during these darkening days.

Not so dark on this day, but the camera can make it look lighter than it really feels.

At some point in December, probably around the fifteenth, I'll put up the holiday tree. Those lights will get us through the darkest days and into the new year. The living room is called le salon in French.

Sunday, November 19, 2017


This is one of the more interesting looking of the garden allotments on the island at Saint-Aignan. The two little storage buildings wear their age well. Maybe it has to do with the slate roofs. The planting plots are clean and recently tilled. It's not just this one, either. Most of the allotments are obviously well tended. Only a few look abandoned and wild.

The allotments are often planted with fruit and nut trees in addition to the cultivated ground plots for vegetables.

I'm not certain what garden allotments are called in the US. I don't remember ever seeing them in the places I've lived. In some cities there were, and are, "community gardens," but that's a slightly different concept, although Wikipedia says that the differences are becoming blurred. Community gardening started out with a single plot of land worked by many members of a community, whereas allotment gardening consists of distinctly separate plots worked by individuals or families.

Allotment gardening seems to have started in England and was adopted in France around the turn of the century (that would be 1900, for you youngsters out there). They were called jardins ouvriers (workers' gardens) at first, but after the second world war, they became known as jardins familiaux (family gardens).

Saturday, November 18, 2017


These are coques (cockles), little bivalves that live in the wet sand along seashores all over the world. For some reason, Ken and I have developed a habit of eating them this time of year as kind of a switch from stews, roasts, and other traditional fall and winter meals. My favorite way to eat them is in a white wine and garlic sauce over linguini. It's "linguini with white clam sauce," but made with cockles instead of clams. Which is what we did last Sunday.

Fresh coques ready for the pot. Doesn't it just warm the cockles of your heart?

The fish mongers at Saint-Aignan's Saturday market come from the Atlantic coast in the Charente-Maritime department, not far from La Rochelle, a three- to four-hour drive southwest of here. We're lucky to have a good fish monger in town, even if it is just once a week. Fresh seafood is available at the supermarkets, of course, but the people at the Saturday market have more variety. There are good fish mongers at other weekly markets in our region, but they're not as close to us as Saint-Aignan.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sunrise and Beaujolais

This is what Wednesday's sunrise looked like as Tasha and I headed out into the vineyard for our morning walk. It was cold outside, just above freezing, and fog was forming as it got lighter. The combination of the ground fog and the clouds catching the sun's first rays was magical.

Sunrise over the vineyards, looking toward the southwest.

I got some of the new Beaujolais on Thursday and opened a bottle for lunch. Tasty! Last year I thought that the nouveau tasted ordinary, like a normal gamay. Nothing wrong with that, but it was nothing to write home about (even though I blogged about it). This year I can taste that nouveau quality that last year's wine lacked. I'm not very good with wine adjectives, but I've always described it as a "chalky" flavor or texture, whereas a regular-release gamay is normally much smoother. In my opinion.