Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunny Saturday

Saturday was just brilliant. It didn't get as warm as the middle of last week, but the sun was out all day and, while the ground is still a little wet in places, I noticed a lot less mud on Callie's paws after our walks. She loves the nice weather and sits in the sun where and when she can. I left the door open part of the day so she could go in and out, roll in the grass, and enjoy being outside. And she did.

A difficult photo to get right because of the contrast between sun and shade.
There's Callie heading out to a shady spot after sitting in the sun for a while.

The view is from the guest bedroom looking west out over the vineyards. I took it to more or less document the work I did around the real fake well. I pulled out the jerusalem artichokes that I had planted there a few years ago. I think they're too tall for the space and I want to get back to planting smaller flowers in that bed. It'll probably be annuals like marigolds or something similar this year. The tall sunflower-like jerusalem artichokes grow from rhizomes and they spread like crazy. It's impossible to get them all out, so many will re-sprout soon. If I can't pull those out easily, I'll use a product to kill them. Bad, I know, but it's the only way I know to do it quickly.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

In the drink

Or, if you will: drunk and sunk. At the end of the dirt road that runs from our house out through the vineyards, there's one of many small water holes that we see here and there. I think the "holes" are man-made because they're too regularly shaped and too regularly spaced to be natural. The holes fill up when it rains and slowly dry out when it doesn't. Each might be three or four feet deep.

1664 refers to the year that the Kronenbourg brewery was founded. You can find almost anything on the internet.

I saw this bottle kind of floating in the water hole. It's a beer bottle, the brand is 1664, a French brand from Alsace. It's part of the Kronenbourg group which, in turn, belongs to the Danish Carlsberg beer company.

Friday morning was gray and foggy. Visibility was very low. I couldn't see much beyond our back yard from the windows. But at lunch time the fog burned off and we got a pleasant sunny afternoon. I built a fire in the wood stove to keep the heat from coming on. We're in that in-between time when it's not really cold enough for a fire, but it's not really warm enough to do without heat. Firewood is cheaper than fuel oil, so I split a few logs for the wood stove.

Friday, February 17, 2017

It's the real thing

And it's what all the hip young vinesters are wearing this year. Yes, there are some Coke bottles out among the water bottles protecting young vine saplings here and there. I was surprised to see them, but what the heck. French people love their "Coca" almost as much as their wine.

The Coca-Cola company adds a little color to our brown winter vineyards.

Based on my extensive quick and dirty internet research, France consumed 33.4 liters of Coke per person during 2012. Per capita wine consumption was 45.6 liters during 2011. That seems pretty close to me. Ken and I don't drink Coke, but I'll wager we do better than the average for wine. Forty-five liters of wine doesn't last as long as you'd think.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Springtime in February

Wednesday was glorious. Sunny. Warm. Our high temperature topped out at 16ºC (just over 60ºF). I was outdoors in a t-shirt in the afternoon, doing a little pruning and clean-up. Nothing major, but I got some fallen sticks and branches off the ground, cut suckers off from around the base of our tilleul (linden tree), and trimmed up some dead flower stalks in a planter box. Callie enjoyed rolling around in the grass while I puttered.

Curly-cues on a vineyard guide wire.

Inside the greenhouse felt especially warm. I did some trimming in there as well. Certain perennials are coming back already. The tarragon is sprouting like mad, there's catnip coming up, the chives have re-sprouted, and the amaryllis bulbs are putting up new stalks. Even last year's geraniums look healthy with new flower buds.

Wednesday was predicted to be the warmest day of the week, so our highs will be a little lower in the coming days and we're expecting lows back down into the single digits over the weekend. But hey, it's still February.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Leftovers again

I'm not used to cooking for one, but when Ken's away that's what I have to do. On Sunday, I made spaghetti and meatballs with some of our frozen sauce and some frozen meatballs from IKEA (don't judge). Of course, there was plenty left over and it went into the fridge.

My gratin of spaghetti, mushrooms, and meatballs. I only ate half.

On Tuesday, I put the leftover pasta and sauce into our smallest gratin dish and arranged the leftover meatballs on top. Then I sautéed a few leftover mushrooms and added them. I topped it all with the rest of the sauce and some leftover grated comté cheese from Monday's lunch and put it into the oven. It was pretty tasty, but there is still some of it left over. Ugh!

On Monday I took three leftover endives that Ken had cooked before he left and wrapped each in a deli turkey slice. I made a quick béchamel sauce and poured that over the endives, then sprinkled grated cheese on top (that's where the leftover cheese for yesterday came from; I had grated too much). It went into the oven to be gratinéed. Yum. Of course, I only ate two of the three endives, so I have leftovers of that as well.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Long shot

Here's a familiar view to many of you: our hamlet seen from the vineyards. There is still a lot of vine pruning to do, but it's slowly getting done. That car parked out there belongs to one of the guys who works on pruning, trimming, harvesting, and all around vineyard maintenance. He and others are out there year-round doing one thing or another.

A view toward the northeast and the Cher River valley.

This little warm spell is nice. It's not shorts and t-shirt weather by any means, but it feels nice and spring-like. The downside is all the mud out there. Callie's paws are awfully dirty after her walks. There's one spot on our evening route that was recently re-graded. I walked down through there on Sunday afternoon and sank nearly ankle deep in the muddy clay. Yuck. Not going that way again for a while.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Little fungi

I saw this fungus on a leaning tree trunk in the woods the other day and thought it looked interesting. They are tiny, about half the size of a finger nail.

There's a fungus among us.

The difference between Sunday morning and today is amazing. On Sunday, we had freezing rain and ice on the ground; Callie and I slipped and slid on the dirt road through the vineyards during our walk. This morning the temperature is a balmy 7ºC (almost 45ºF), and we're expected to get up to 15ºC (nearly 60ºF) by this afternoon. Wow.