Saturday, December 16, 2017

Reindeer on the shelf

Who needs an elf when you've got a reindeer on the shelf? The tree went up on Friday afternoon. The lights are on. But that's as far as I got. The rest will happen today and, if necessary, on Sunday.

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Friday, December 15, 2017

Gray days

It's typical: we get amazingly clear skies in the hours before sunrise, then the gray comes back for most of the daylight hours. There was still a good wind blowing through the night last night. Tasha got up and down several times and, at one point, was barking at a noise. I heard the noise a few times, too, but I don't know what it was. It could have been an animal outside, or a car horn in the distance. Tasha growled and barked for a few minutes, but the noise stopped and we all went back to sleep. Sort of.

Another gray morning.

My plan for the day is to drag the holiday tree from its box and set it up, string the lights, and hang the baubles. I'll see how far I get.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Saint-Aignan's church

The church in Saint-Aignan is an imposing building. It was built in the eleventh and twelfth centuries in the romanesque style. The church is a collégiale (collegiate church) originally managed by a group of secular clergy called a "college of canons." I have no idea how it's run today, but I know there is no resident priest. I think that the church is used mostly for high holiday celebrations and catholic weddings these days.

The church at Saint-Aignan reflected in the Cher River at sunrise back in November.

The winds gusted all day on Wednesday, with intermittent rain showers, all of which should be tapering off some time today. Then the cold comes back. A week from today is the solstice, the official start of winter, and the point at which the days stop getting shorter. Yippee!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Today's grab bag

It's going to be another windy and wet day, although not as windy as Monday was, thankfully. We're not spending much time outside, except for dog walking, of course. Tasha got me up at four this morning to go outside. Then we went back to bed until six. The problem is that it doesn't get light outside until close to 08h30, so we have a couple of hours to hang out inside before walk time. Tasha is slowly learning to accept this. She'll be glad when spring brings more daylight, I'm sure.

Our back gate, which we hope to replace in the spring, is literally held together with spit and bailing wire. The garden shed's shutters are closed for the winter. Those brown plants are the dead Jerusalem artichoke stalks that I will trim down before spring.

Today is pizza day. I made the dough for the crust last evening. It rises for eighteen hours and doesn't need to be kneaded. The recipe is so easy and pretty reliable. And we like the way it bakes. For toppings, we have some leftover smoked chicken, we'll saute some onions and bell peppers, use some of our home-made tomato sauce, add some black olives and, of course, finish it with cheese. I'm hungry already!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tasha Tuesday

I haven't taken the camera out for a while since we've been enjoying (!) windy and rainy days. It was so windy on Monday that I was afraid Tasha would take off like a kite on the end of her leash. The strong gusts jostled her from side to side, but she pushed on. She was excited, chasing leaves as they zipped across the road at high speed. She even caught a few.

This was last week, before our recent storms. We don't go into the woods when it's too windy.

The wind has calmed, for now. We're expecting some more, but not as strong, on Wednesday and Thursday. I'll take advantage of the calm to go out this morning and do a few errands in town. Like going to the post office to mail some holiday cards and to the bakery to get some bread. I'll get a few baguettes for the freezer so we don't have to go out again too soon. Saturday we'll head over to the market in Saint-Aignan to order the holiday bird.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Autumn's last gasp

We're having a wind storm today. The center of the storm is coming in off the Atlantic near the mouth of the Loire and is expected to go north of us. But the winds on the southern edge of the storm will blow right over us. We're in a Level 3 (out of 4) alert for high winds through the morning. I hate wind. Luckily, there's not much rain associated with this storm, which I think they named "Ana."

Just outside our back gate, looking north toward the river valley.

It's possible that our phones (and our internet access) will go out if a branch falls on the wires. I'm hopeful that we won't lose electricity since many lines in our area have been put underground, but there are many in the network that are not, so there's no guarantee. On the positive side, the storm has brought relatively mild temperatures, so it doesn't feel cold. We have the wood stove for heat, and our cook top is gas-powered, so we can cook. Batten down the hatches!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Brown is the new black

Or maybe it's the new green. Whatever it is, brown is the predominant color out in the vineyards this time of year. If we're lucky, we will have a snowfall or two during winter to brighten things up. Until then, it's brown. The pruning process has begun and will last until spring.

There are still plenty of greens and oranges to be found, but it's mostly brown.

I put the lights up on the house Saturday. When the weather permits, I'll go out and take a photo. Next weekend I'll put up our tree and see how Tasha reacts to it. We will also head out to the market to order our Christmas bird. We haven't decided what to get yet. Turkey? Capon? Guinea fowl? We'll see!