Friday, October 20, 2017

Moving the burn pile

Four and a half years ago, we had the line of hazelnut trees along the north side of our back yard cut down to hedge size. I asked the guys who did the work to leave the trunks in piles in the yard so I could saw them into firewood. There were three big piles. One I took care of that year. The second, I think, I sawed up the following year. The third, however, sat there under our large fir tree for over four years. Until yesterday.

You might be able to see the moved pile out in the garden plot (center-right in photo). And there's Tasha, always ready to play help.

Over the years I tossed large branches and other prunings onto the pile. I've picked through it from time to time for kindling. For over four years I've been saying that I'm going to move that pile into the garden plot and burn it. I finally moved it on Thursday morning. It took about an hour and a half. I kept some logs and branches out to burn in the wood stove. It's free wood and kindling after all. I moved all of that to a sheltered spot in the afternoon. Burning may happen one day this fall when it's foggy so that the smoke is less of an eyesore.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Oh the leaves, they are a-changin'

This is the view of our hamlet from out in the vineyards on Tuesday afternoon. The vines are planted on the heights above the river, which runs from right to left down in the valley behind the buildings you can see. On either side of the vineyard, where the land curves downward into the woods, are ravines where streams run down to the river valley. The vines are planted on the higher land where water drains quickly to the streams and river.

Looking roughly toward the northeast. Our house is the building on the left.

The plumber that did our shower came by yesterday with the representative of the manufacturer that made our new shower door. In August, one of the hinge plates detached from the glass door. The plumber used a powerful adhesive to stick it back on, but said he'd call the manufacturer about it and, at the very least, get the guarantee extended. Well, the rep needed to come by to verify that the door was properly installed. After five minutes he said, "OK." He'll do the paperwork and order a new door, which we should have in about a month.

Then I asked the plumber, who also dabbles in electricity, to take a look at my botched attempt at installing the ceiling light fixture. He had it fixed in no time and now it works perfectly. No charge! Again, the right tools and a little savoir faire.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Leaf peeping

I took the camera out on Tuesday afternoon to try to get some shots of the vineyard in its yellow stage. The sun was bright in the western sky, about two hours from setting. I attached Tasha's leash to my belt (I should probably get one of those jogger's leashes) and headed out. I'm not used to taking pictures in such bright sun since I'm normally out at dawn or dusk and it's often cloudy.

There are some rogue red leaves among these yellows. And there's still a lot of green mixed in.

After a while, the leaves on the grape vines will turn a golden orange color for a brief time before falling to the ground. I hope I can get some photos of that again this year. As usual, it all depends on the weather. Hard wind and rain can rip the leaves off the vines quickly once they've started to fall.

I went to the garden center yesterday and found a bag of soil made specifically to amend outdoor flower beds. I worked it in and it looks good. I also got a sack of acidified soil for the heather. Today is transplanting day. It's supposed to be cloudy and a little cooler, but without rain.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tasha Tuesday

Tuckered out! Here's Tasha resting after some vigorous ball chasing outdoors. I throw the tennis ball, she runs after it and retrieves it. Then she brings it back toward me, but no to me. She trots in a circle around me, just out of reach, daring me to come and get the ball. If I move toward her, she darts away. Hahaha, what fun. Not. My new strategy is to just to ignore her and continue whatever I was doing. At that point she'll drop the ball somewhere near me so I can pick it up and throw it again.

Chasing tennis balls is hard work!

On Monday I turned the soil in that spot where the lavender was. It was packed pretty hard. I think I'll need to add something to it before I plant the rozanne geraniums and flowering bulbs I want to put there. Another trip to the garden center. I need a sack of terre de bruyère (acidic soil) anyway for some calluna (heather) I got to replace the rozanne geraniums. They're currently in big pots on the deck.

Monday, October 16, 2017

What's left & Blogiversary

The harvest of 2017 is in the barrels, or tanks, fermenting. Soon the first of the bernache, that fizzy semi-alcoholic grape juice which is very, very young wine, will make its appearance at markets around the region. The primeur wines (our region's version of Beaujolais Nouveau) will show up toward the end of November. The vine leaves are turning color and starting to drop. All that's left on the vines now are bare bunches, picked clean by the mechanical harvesters.

Through the winter, these vines will be pruned down to a single cane.

We had a nice day on Sunday, doing basically nothing. Except that Tasha and I went to the supermarket (she stayed in the car). I wanted something to grill since the weather was so nice. I thought a piece of salmon would be tasty, or pork chops. Well, the few chops they had didn't look so good. I found  faux filet (what we would call sirloin) on sale, so I got the steaks. There were three good-sized steaks in the package. I grilled one and the other two went into the freezer for another time.

The weather was glorious, but I did no yard work. We're expecting two more days of bright sun and warm weather before fall returns. According to the reports, hurricane Ophelia is far enough out in the Atlantic that it will miss France, except for maybe the western tip of Brittany, but it's heading directly toward Ireland and Britain. The storm should no longer be a hurricane when it hits, but they're saying it will still be a strong storm.

Today is this blog's 12th birthday! It's weird to think that I've been doing this, almost daily, for twelve years. How much longer can it last? Facebook and Twitter and Instagram seem to be the social media fashion these days. But I like the creative control I have with the blog. I'm a old fogey, I guess. I remember thinking that 8-track tapes were cool. Oops. I preferred Beta to VHS. Lost that one, too. I still use paper maps on trips. I'm afraid that if I give a car the opportunity to tell me where to go... it will. I refuse to give up my land-line telephone. I'm uneasy about having a phone that's smarter than me. So there you have it. I continue to blog. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and get the milk bottles out of the icebox.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


These thorns make me think of shark fins. But the colors are what caught my attention. The stem is a very pale purple and the thorns' color reminds me of "burnt sienna," that classic old crayon color. The dew drops just add to the other-worldliness of the image. At least to my eyes.

I don't know if this is blackberry or wild rose. CRS (Can't Remember Sh*t).

Saturday was another productive day. Tasha and I played ball and in between throws I picked up apples. If only I could get her to pick up apples and put them into the wheelbarrow, but she'll only look at an apple if I toss it across the yard. Then I used a spade and a pick-ax to dig out the three lavender stumps that I left in the ground on Friday. It took a while, but I got them out. Now I have to turn the soil, perhaps amend it, and re-plant.

After lunch I cut the remaining grass that I didn't cut on Friday. The sky was cloudless and the air was comfortably warm. Depending on the weather over the next few weeks, I may cut the grass one more time before winter, if only to mulch the leaves from the apple and linden trees after they finish falling. I'm not planning anything major for today except to watch the tennis final from Shanghai. Federer vs. Nadal. Again.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Autumn leaves: black, red, and orange

I guess these all start looking alike after a few. No matter. This one is different looking, even though the colors are similar to previous leaves.

I didn't notice that part of the leaf was missing when I took the picture.

Friday started out foggy and heavy with dew, but it turned out glorious around mid-day. I repaired a closet shelving unit before the sun even came up, and sorted through the clothes that were stored there. I have two piles started: clothes to donate and clothes to throw out (ripped, frayed, and otherwise not suitable for donation).

Before lunch, I cleaned up the tamarisk branches and cut the lavender down. I still have to pull the roots out and prepare the ground for new plants. I have some perennials and bulbs I want to plant there. After lunch, I cut the grass in part of the yard and along our road. I'll do the rest on Saturday.