Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Periodic puppy pics

Today is Callie's tenth birthday! It's hard to believe that she's ten years old already. That's seventy in dog years. Time flies. Here she is sitting for her portrait with one of her favorite things: a rawhide chew. She would prefer to take this outside and roll on it in the grass, but it's chilly and wet out there. So the living room carpet will have to do.

Somebody needs to get brushed. I'll be taking her to the groomer's in March for her springtime shampoo, brush, and trim.

I got her some "special" dog food for her lunch today. It's veal pâté. Not the people kind, but the kind made for dogs. It will make a nice supplement to her daily kibble. And there's enough to last a few days.

The rawhide chews help to keep Callie's teeth clean.

I keep telling her she's a ten-year-old dog. She cocks her head when I say it. "What's he yammering on about now," I see her thinking. It's not food and it's not a walk. Oh bother.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Make like a tree

This patch of woods on the edge of one of the nearby vineyard parcels is very close to Callie's favorite path. We had just emerged from the woods and I noticed how the rising sun was making the dead leaves (still clinging to their trees) shine bright orange.

The rising sun shines horizontally through the woods.

Around here, oak and a few other tree species don't drop their leaves in the fall. The leaves die and turn brown, but most of them stay attached to the tree until the new spring growth pushes them off. I don't know if this is normal for oak trees or just the species that grows here. I certainly don't remember that about the oak trees where I grew up (upstate New York). Live oaks in the American south and west don't shed their leaves at all.

So, I just had to look this up. I found that this phenomenon has a name: marcescence. It occurs most widely in oaks, beeches, chestnuts, and hornbeams. The woods around us contain all four species in abundance. In French, they're called chêne, hêtre, châtaignier, and charme, respectively. Marcescence is the same word in both languages. You learn something new every day!

Monday, February 20, 2017

A light frost

Sunday morning was chilly, easily the coldest morning we've had in a week. The grass all around was frosty, but it didn't really feel cold out. Callie and I went for our morning walk as the sun came up.

The ground was frosty white around the little pond behind our house.

The sun rises earlier and earlier, so we can get outside earlier and earlier. Our official sunrise on Sunday was 07h51. We left the house at about eight. I can really hear the birds in the morning now. In the coldest part of winter there isn't that much morning birdsong to be heard. As we walked, I saw two wild hares scurry through the vineyard. Callie was out in front of me and she missed them.

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.