Thursday, February 23, 2017

What's in a name?

Up in the UK and northern France, there's a storm blowing through today. We'll only see minor effects down here in the Centre, some not-too-bad wind gusts and a little rain later in the day. On French television, the weather people are calling the storm "Thomas." But, on the UK news sites (like Sky), the storm is being called "Doris." I can't figure out if there are two storms or if it's just two names for the same storm. And if it's two names, why?

Last Sunday's sunrise over the vineyards with frosty grass. It's much warmer, and overcast, now.

As I said, we're just being brushed by the southern edge of the system, so it'll be breezy here today with some gusts, nothing threatening. And it should all be winding down by the time Ken's plane flies in early Friday morning. If anything, he'll have a good tail wind and might possibly land early.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Periodic puppy pics

Today is Callie's tenth birthday! It's hard to believe that she's ten years old already. That's seventy in dog years. Time flies. Here she is sitting for her portrait with one of her favorite things: a rawhide chew. She would prefer to take this outside and roll on it in the grass, but it's chilly and wet out there. So the living room carpet will have to do.

Somebody needs to get brushed. I'll be taking her to the groomer's in March for her springtime shampoo, brush, and trim.

I picked up some "special" dog food for her lunch today. It's veal pâté. Not the people kind, but the kind made for dogs. It will make a nice supplement to her daily kibble. And there's enough to last a few days.

The rawhide chews help to keep Callie's teeth clean.

I keep telling her she's a ten-year-old dog. She cocks her head when I say it. "What's he yammering on about now," I see her thinking. It's not food and it's not a walk. Oh bother.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Make like a tree

This patch of woods on the edge of one of the nearby vineyard parcels is very close to Callie's favorite path. We had just emerged from the woods and I noticed how the rising sun was making the dead leaves (still clinging to their trees) shine bright orange.

The rising sun shines horizontally through the woods.

Around here, oak and a few other tree species don't drop their leaves in the fall. The leaves die and turn brown, but most of them stay attached to the tree until the new spring growth pushes them off. I don't know if this is normal for oak trees or just the species that grows here. I certainly don't remember that about the oak trees where I grew up (upstate New York). Live oaks in the American south and west don't shed their leaves at all.

So, I just had to look this up. I found that this phenomenon has a name: marcescence. It occurs most widely in oaks, beeches, chestnuts, and hornbeams. The woods around us contain all four species in abundance. In French, they're called chêne, hêtre, châtaignier, and charme, respectively. Marcescence is the same word in both languages. You learn something new every day!

Monday, February 20, 2017

A light frost

Sunday morning was chilly, easily the coldest morning we've had in a week. The grass all around was frosty, but it didn't really feel cold out. Callie and I went for our morning walk as the sun came up.

The ground was frosty white around the little pond behind our house.

The sun rises earlier and earlier, so we can get outside earlier and earlier. Our official sunrise on Sunday was 07h51. We left the house at about eight. I can really hear the birds in the morning now. In the coldest part of winter there isn't that much morning birdsong to be heard. As we walked, I saw two wild hares scurry through the vineyard. Callie was out in front of me and she missed them.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunny Saturday

Saturday was just brilliant. It didn't get as warm as the middle of last week, but the sun was out all day and, while the ground is still a little wet in places, I noticed a lot less mud on Callie's paws after our walks. She loves the nice weather and sits in the sun where and when she can. I left the door open part of the day so she could go in and out, roll in the grass, and enjoy being outside. And she did.

A difficult photo to get right because of the contrast between sun and shade.
There's Callie heading out to a shady spot after sitting in the sun for a while.

The view is from the guest bedroom looking west out over the vineyards. I took it to more or less document the work I did around the real fake well. I pulled out the jerusalem artichokes that I had planted there a few years ago. I think they're too tall for the space and I want to get back to planting smaller flowers in that bed. It'll probably be annuals like marigolds or something similar this year. The tall sunflower-like jerusalem artichokes grow from rhizomes and they spread like crazy. It's impossible to get them all out, so many will re-sprout soon. If I can't pull those out easily, I'll use a product to kill them. Bad, I know, but it's the only way I know to do it quickly.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

In the drink

Or, if you will: drunk and sunk. At the end of the dirt road that runs from our house out through the vineyards, there's one of many small water holes that we see here and there. I think the "holes" are man-made because they're too regularly shaped and too regularly spaced to be natural. The holes fill up when it rains and slowly dry out when it doesn't. Each might be three or four feet deep.

1664 refers to the year that the Kronenbourg brewery was founded. You can find almost anything on the internet.

I saw this bottle kind of floating in the water hole. It's a beer bottle, the brand is 1664, a French brand from Alsace. It's part of the Kronenbourg group which, in turn, belongs to the Danish Carlsberg beer company.

Friday morning was gray and foggy. Visibility was very low. I couldn't see much beyond our back yard from the windows. But at lunch time the fog burned off and we got a pleasant sunny afternoon. I built a fire in the wood stove to keep the heat from coming on. We're in that in-between time when it's not really cold enough for a fire, but it's not really warm enough to do without heat. Firewood is cheaper than fuel oil, so I split a few logs for the wood stove.

Friday, February 17, 2017

It's the real thing

And it's what all the hip young vinesters are wearing this year. Yes, there are some Coke bottles out among the water bottles protecting young vine saplings here and there. I was surprised to see them, but what the heck. French people love their "Coca" almost as much as their wine.

The Coca-Cola company adds a little color to our brown winter vineyards.

Based on my extensive quick and dirty internet research, France consumed 33.4 liters of Coke per person during 2012. Per capita wine consumption was 45.6 liters during 2011. That seems pretty close to me. Ken and I don't drink Coke, but I'll wager we do better than the average for wine. Forty-five liters of wine doesn't last as long as you'd think.