Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lemon squash

Our friend K., who lives a couple of towns up-river from us, offered us a lemon squash plant last spring. I had never heard of lemon squash and I don't remember ever seeing it at the market. I planted the seedling she gave us next to the zucchinis in the garden. It has grown vigorously and is now producing bright yellow summer squash which are, as you might imagine, the size and shape of lemons.

Three yummy lemon squash.

I sliced up these three squash, brushed them with olive oil and seasoned them with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika before putting them on the grill. They were delicious (they taste just like any other yellow summer squash) along side some grilled smoked chicken.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Warmest morning

Tuesday was a hot day and this morning is probably the warmest morning of the year, so far. I woke up to nearly 25ºC (77ºF ) at 06h00. That's pretty darned warm for the morning low in these parts. But, as usual, it is not expected to last. Today's high will be lower than Tuesday's, and it will be getting downright chilly again in the mornings to come.

Grape bunches on the vine, a couple of months away from harvest time.

And it's dry. The rain barrels are nearly depleted again. Until the next rain, garden watering will have to be done with the hose. But the tomatoes, squash, and green beans are loving the heat. And so are the grapes out in the vineyards. I wonder if the hot weather we've had has made up for lost time caused by the April freeze?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tasha Tuesday

Shadow play. I take Tasha out for her morning walk earlier than I used to take Callie out. Tasha is still just a puppy, and she bounces off the walls with energy in the morning wanting to play and roughhouse. Going out for a walk is a way to diffuse some of that energy. Not that it always works, but it helps.

Tasha and our shadows in the summer vineyard. The sun is just rising above the trees at 07h00.

We did an unofficial weigh-in on Sunday. I stood on the scale, read it, then picked up the dog and stood on the scale again and did the math. She's at 7 kilos (almost 15 1/2 lbs). That's almost twice what she weighed at the end of May when her official weight at the vet's was 4.2 kilos (just over 9 lbs). We'll get another official weigh-in at the end of August when she goes in for her spaying. We expect her adult weight to be between 10 and 12 kilos (22 to 26 lbs). Callie was almost twice that.

Teething continues. We were playing on Sunday and one of Tasha's teeth came out in my hand. I'll ask the vet to check her teeth to be sure they're coming in right. The breeder said that sometimes the baby teeth don't fall out before the adult teeth come in and that could cause problems.

Monday, July 17, 2017


On the edges of the vineyards, in little clearings just inside the woods, containers are suspended a few inches from the ground. They're fitted with little cages at the bottom and dispense bird seed. I presume they're there to attract pheasants for the hunting season. Usually the containers are made from plastic wine jugs--we are in wine country after all. This is the first one I've seen made from a mini beer keg.

The little cage full of seeds is just at the bottom of the inverted keg. I guess the hub cap is there to catch stray seeds.

I've been told that most of the pheasants chased by the hunters are actually raised on farms and are released into the wild in the fall. Since they've never had to find their own food in the wild, they need some way to survive. These feeders are probably what they're used to and help to keep the birds from starving. Not all the pheasants are taken during the season, so the feeders are kept full year-round. Ken told me that Tasha flushed out a pheasant in the vineyard just a few days ago. Callie used to do the same thing.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


A lone walnut tree stands along the road through the vineyards where we walk daily with the dog. Right now, the walnuts are forming inside their green husks. In the fall, the husks will dry and peel off, revealing the walnut shells that we all recognize.

Walnut leaves and a single fruit/nut.

This tree produces very small walnuts and I've gathered a few, but not many, over the years. They're not really worth the effort. Besides, some friends of ours have a couple of prolific trees on their property and they've shared boxes full of good-sized and tasty walnuts with us. I still have some downstairs.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fly away home

Here's a coccinelle (what I call a ladybug) looking like it's enjoying a drink from a raindrop. I've noticed many of these in our vegetable garden. They're good for the garden because they eat aphid larvae, and aphids can do a lot of damage if left unchecked.

La Coccinelle is the French name for Herbie the Love Bug. In fact, VW Beetles are generally called coccinelles in France.

All of us slept through the fireworks on Friday night. We had the window closed on that side of the house and the fan was going, so we didn't hear anything. Tasha didn't need to go out until five this morning. Once we were outside, I could hear loud music in the distance. It was either a party on the next road over, or there was a car parked out in the vineyard with it's stereo going. Thankfully, we could not hear it inside the house.

In other news, we caught the mouse. I presume the trap behind the sofa snapped some time during the night. The poor thing. It died munching on a piece of goat cheese. From Valençay. The only thing missing was a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc. French mice die with class.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A mouse in the house

I thought cats were supposed to keep mice out of the house. Ours brought one in this morning. Alive. Then he let it go. Ken and I spent a good thirty minutes trying to flush the critter out from under furniture into the jaws of the cat, all to no avail. Bert yawned. Tasha barked wildly. We finally gave up. I set two traps and put them behind the couch where the mouse was last spotted and out of reach of the dog. Now we wait.

Pretty yellow wildflowers. They look like little fireworks.

Our village's fireworks started last night at eleven p.m. and lasted about half an hour. Tasha lifted her head up a few times, but she never growled or barked. Afterward, we all slept peacefully through the night. More fireworks will be going on to our east in Saint-Aignan tonight. That's normally a bigger show, so we'll keep the windows on that side of the house closed.