Saturday, October 20, 2018

The hedges are trimmed

The guys showed up just after eight on Friday to do the hedges. It was barely light out, but they got started. The really do a great job, and they clean up well. You know what I mean.

By noon, it looked like this. Compare to Thursday's photo.

I asked the foreman if they'd rake up the maple leaves in the driveway. Ce sera fait, he said. It will be done. Nice.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Funky feline fotos

It's been a while since Bert last agreed to a photo shoot. He's just so blasé that way. Cats. Well, here he is earlier this week, contemplating the great outdoors from the comfort of the living room. He has been enjoying the freedom to spend time in the house. He and Tasha get along so well that they've begun napping together on the foot of the bed in the mornings. On my legs.

At over twelve years old, Bert's a senior citizen now.

They share their water bowls, too. We've stopped giving Bert his own water dish. He prefers Tasha's. We even catch him munching on her kibble if she leaves some behind. Silly cat. Of course, Tasha will scarf down Bert's breakfast in a flash if he's not vigilant. Our lives have certainly changed since Callie passed away last year. No more closed doors and toddler gates to keep the animals apart. I never knew it could be like this.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Early autumn view

This is the scene out the back window right now. The vineyard is getting more yellows and golds with each passing day. You can see that I got the grass cut. The hedges aren't trimmed yet, but that will happen soon, even though there is not a lot of growth this year, it's been so dry.

Looking toward the west at sunrise.

When that tree fell outside our yard the other day, it got me thinking about our big apple tree. You can see part of its trunk just to the right of the green hose in the photo. That trunk is quite hollow in the middle and there are cracks on both sides of it. One good gust of wind in the right direction will probably bring it, or a good part of it, down. Then we'll have a mess on our hands. And there's another smaller apple out by the gate that is not long for this world. Oh well. Apple wood makes good firewood.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wild hips

I see a lot of wild rose hips out in the margins of the vineyard plots this time of year. They are a brilliant red, one of the few reds we get in the fall. I remember the first year we were here, after having spent nearly eighteen years in urban northern California, I was impressed by the rose hips. I picked a bunch and put them in a glass bowl as a fall decoration. They were pretty for a while, then they started to rot. So much for that.

Eglantine (wild rose, also called sweet briar) hips.

This morning is our appointment for the refuse people to come and take away two objets encombrants (trash too big for regular pickup). One of the items is our old barbecue grill, the other is a metal and plexiglass awning that we had over the back door before the greenhouse was installed. It will be nice to have those things out of the garage.

Tasha got a nice grooming on Tuesday. She looks a little smaller. But all the knots and tangles in her fur are gone, at least for now, and she smells nice. I have to do a better job of keeping her brushed between visits. Jeez, it's just like the dentist!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


We have quite a few birch trees around us. In fact, our property is called les bouleaux (the birches). The woods around us abound in birches and their close relatives les aulnes (alders) and les charmes (hornbeams). Birches are among the first trees to populate an open space. Many of the abandoned vineyard plots and fields around us are home to the young trees.

I remember birches from where I grew up in upstate New York, and reading Robert Frost's poem "Birches" (among others) in school.

The stream bed that runs roughly parallel to our road on the south side is called la rouere de l'aulne (the alder stream). I think that the word rouere is a more or less local word for "stream." When we get firewood each year, a good part of it is made up of charme.

Today is this blog's thirteenth anniversary. It's hard to remember when I didn't do this.

Monday, October 15, 2018

On the ground, one more time

This time it's litter. We see all kinds of stuff cast from cars out where the dirt road behind our house meets up with a paved road. It's not a lot, but on more than one occasion I've seen empty beer cans out there. I've also seen empty cigarette packs, dumped ash trays, used tissues, and fast-food wrappers. This is the label from a plastic water bottle. Some grape growers use old one-liter water bottles to protect young vines, so this could be from one of those.

High-end litter.

Not far from our house there's a stream bed that cuts a pretty deep ravine on its way down to the river. I've gone into the woods to have a look and noticed that people have dumped stuff there. There's even an old appliance, like a washing machine, lying out there. I've never understood why someone would dump things there, when there's a perfectly good (and free) official dump just across the river. And they take everything. I mean, if you can drive your junk to a ravine in a vineyard, why not just drive it to the dump?

Sunday, October 14, 2018

On the ground, again

Last spring was relatively wet. There was a lot of rain and the ground in the vineyard was mushy. At one point, one of the growers dumped a pile of broken roof tiles near his vines. Over the next few days, he spread them out, filling in low spots between rows so his tractor wouldn't sink in the mud. As they get run over and over, the tiles break into smaller and smaller pieces.

Terra cotta on the terra fresca.

Saturday was a beautiful day for a funeral. Warm, bright and sunny. It wasn't really a funeral so much as it was a burial. And it was not the least bit religious. Most people wore casual clothes, mostly jeans, including the mayor and the family of the deceased (us, too). Everyone in attendance gathered around the casket in the cemetery. The funeral director said some words about Daniel, more or less biographical, then asked for a minute of silence. Daniel's daughter read her remarks, struggling through tears, and another man read a poem. After that they played some music ("Memory" from Cats) while the attendees took turns putting flower petals on the casket. This seemed a strange ritual, to me. We all lined up, one of the funeral home staff held a bowl of flower petals. Each of us took a few petals from his bowl and then put them into another bowl that was on top of the casket. When that was done, the four funeral home staff took positions at each corner of the casket, bowed to each other, then carried the casket over to the plot and lowered it into the ground. We left at that point because Tasha had been waiting in the car for about an hour.

Our neighborhood was well represented. All but one of the permanent residents attended, and four of the people with summer homes in the neighborhood were there, too.