Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Well, at least the ingredients for it. We have eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers in the garden this year and they're doing fine. We've had better years, we've had worse years. Ken's planning to make a real ratatouille today for lunch.

Aubergines, what we call eggplant, on the vine.

This year is the first year in many that our eggplant have worked. For three reasons, I think. First, we bought plants from a local grower rather than planting seeds. Second, we raised the seedlings in the heat of the greenhouse tent. Third, the summer has been hot.

Green bell peppers, still growing, still green. I want them to turn red before I harvest them.

The peppers are the same. Bought, greenhouse, hot weather. Although we aren't harvesting them yet. I want them to go red, so they need more time.

Tomatoes turning red on the vine. I've stopped watering them to encourage ripe and tasty fruit.

The tomatoes are late, but they're starting to ripen and we've been enjoying them for about a week now. It will be interesting to see how many we get, and how much tomato sauce we can make. It usually turns out to be a lot.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

These pumpkins may not be great, but they're the only ones I've got. I planted two pumpkin vines this year; both are French varieties. The first is called Rouge Vif d'Etampes (vibrant red from Etampes) and the second is a courge musquée (musk squash).

The vibrant red color should develop as this pumpkin ripens over the next weeks.

So far, there is only one fruit on the Rouge Vif, although I did notice a second, smaller pumpkin on the vine yesterday. I'll see if it survives. The musk squash also has just one large fruit; a smaller one died on the vine a few weeks ago.

A musk squash. It's supposed to turn a beige color (like a butternut) as it matures.

One each is plenty for us since they're big. I also planted three sucrines (a type of squash similar to butternut) and they are producing a lot. Too much, actually. I still have processed winter squash purée in the freezer from a year, two, or three ago.

A squash blossom and a tiny green pumpkin under the leaves. I wonder if it will survive?

Fall, and pumpkin season, is just around the corner. If the weather stays relatively dry, we should be able to enjoy pumpkin soups, pumpkin breads, and pumpkin pies for a long while.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Dinosaur kale

Ken grew two varieties of kale this year in our vegetable garden. One is called Red Russian and we've eaten a fair amount of that so far. The other is called Dinosaur, and we haven't yet eaten as much of that.

Dinosaur kale in the garden. It's been harvested a time or two, exposing the stems at the bottom.

Both types of kale make for beautiful plants in the garden. While both are green, the Red Russian has, unsurprisingly, a red tint to it and, as you can see in these photos, the Dinosaur kale is more blueish. Where the Russian kale has broad, flatter leaves, the Dino's leaves are narrower and a little crinkly.

Looking down at the plant from above.

Ken has processed a lot of the kale into the freezer already, so we'll be eating it, along with collard greens from earlier in the year, all winter long.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Periodic puppy pics

It's been a long time! Here's Callie as we made our way down to the river the other day. We crossed  the main road safely and she was happy to be across. The speeding cars scare her, and I think that's a good thing. She waits for me to tell her that it's ok to cross.

Callie turns to be sure I'm following. The river bank is at the end of this dirt road.

Callie had her ninth-and-a-half birthday last week. In February, she'll be a ten year old dog. She's doing alright in the heat, still willing to go on her walks in the hot afternoons. But in the evening and at night she stays down on the ground level tile or on the travertine staircase where it's the coolest.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Le Cher

Callie and I walked down to the river the other day. It's not a long walk. It takes five or ten minutes and we're there. The weather has been very hot, so it's not surprising that we saw people swimming in the river. The water level is low right now and there are many sand bars and beaches.

A couple of guys fishing in the river with their dog.

I'm certain that there are places where it would be easy just to wade across, although I have not tried it. The water is crystal clear, and you can see fish swimming very close to the shore. Callie surprised me and went into the water up to her belly. I took my shoes and socks off and waded in up to my knees. Very refreshing. Callie drank a bunch of water from the river. She's not at all a water dog, but all is fair when it's too hot!

Another shot looking up river. Very summery.

As close as we are to the river, we seldom go down there. Most of the time it's wet and muddy, so there's no reason to take Callie there. But it's different in summer and I sometimes forget that it's there. We should go swimming!

Friday, August 26, 2016

State of the grapes

This is what the grapes look like now. Some, not these, are starting to turn red. If I remember correctly where I took this shot, these should be red grapes. Either that or they're white grapes. LOL. My identification skills based on the leaf shape are not very good, but I don't think this is sauvignon.

I don't think these are sauvignon grapes, so I'm guessing either gamay or cabernet.

We're in a little heat wave right now. Sleeping is not all that comfortable, but it's not unbearable, either. The low humidity helps. All in all, our summer has been good, weather wise. Not like spring, which was a deluge.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Summer on the deck

Man, it's hot. For us, at least. I figured that we haven't lived in a really hot (and humid) climate since we left Washington, DC, in 1986. That's thirty years ago. When we first arrived in France in 2003, it was the hottest summer they had had for ages. But not humid. We suffered temperatures upwards of 100ºF for weeks at a time, but it was dry Saharan heat like we're having now.

I put our umbrella up on the deck to keep the table shaded when the sun shines.

Since then, we've had some hot times and some not so hot times. LOL. But this summer has been very warm. It's nice, and we like it, but we're not used to it. Sleeping can be difficult, but again, we're not suffocating with humidity. Thank goodness for small favors.

Each morning this week we open all the windows and doors to let the (relatively) cool air in. Then, as the day heats up, windows and shutters get closed to keep the sun and the hot air out. There can be a significant difference in temperature between outdoors and indoors when you do this, even in a less insulated house like ours.