Sunday, August 19, 2018

All that glitters

I frequently find things that are not gravel embedded in the gravel road that runs through the vineyard behind our house. I've seen pottery shards, chunks of brick, and glass of all colors. This one caught my eye glinting in the morning sun the other day.

A blue-green piece of glass in the road.

I was somewhat productive on Saturday and did some yard work. We have a fence that runs along the north edge of our property. The woods on the other side of the fence are aggressive and, one year, young trees and vines threatened to take over the fence and pull it down. Ken and I spent a couple of days with gloves and cutters to clear the fence and create a space about a meter wide on the other side to keep the woods at bay. I run the lawnmower through every month or so in summer to keep the space clear.

Well, with this year's heat wave, I let it go for a while. The vines and brambles and small trees took advantage and started reaching for the fence. So yesterday I got out there with pruning shears and cut it all back and ran the lawnmower through. Phew! I also picked a huge bucket-full of ripe tomatoes and, after giving some of the nicer ones to a few of our neighbors, I'll make another batch of sauce today.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Hanging in there

I noticed this seed parachute (minus the seed) suspended in a spider's web the other day. It seemed to be just hanging still in the air. You can just make out the delicate threads of the web in the photo.

Can you see the strands of the web?

My stress test on Friday went fine. All readings were normal, except one: my blood pressure before the test started was elevated. I was anxious, I guess. The doctor agreed. My blood pressure at the end of the test was normal, actually a little below normal. The test was pedaling a stationary bike. I had eight or ten electrodes stuck to my chest and back to monitor my heart activity. Every two minutes the pedaling difficulty increased, as if I was heading up a hill. An automatic blood pressure cuff took readings at each level of difficulty. I made it up to level five before my legs gave out. The doctor asked if I could do another twenty seconds, and I did, but that was it.

I'm feeling good about the exam and the test. It appears that I'll be heading into my sixties with a relatively healthy heart. Next up: going to the dentist on Monday to get a lost filling replaced. Joy.

Friday, August 17, 2018


I'm doing a stress test today as part of my cardiac check-up. I had the cardiologist's exam last month, and he says everything looks good. So today I'll ride the stationary bike. This will be my second time in seven years.

Our wisteria is having a second bloom since the first back in the spring.

I do these check-ups since I turned 50 because of a history of heart problems on my father's side of the family. Better safe than, well, the alternative. The last time I did the stress test, I felt like the doctor made the bike too difficult too fast, and my legs gave out. He said it was fine and that I lasted long enough for the readings to be valid. I have a different cardiologist this time and I wonder if I'll have the same experience. I hope to do better, but I am seven years older.

Thursday, August 16, 2018


Most of the white grapes grown in our region are sauvignon blanc. There is some chardonnay, usually used to blend for sparkling wine, and two areas that grow chenin exclusively (Vouvray and Montlouis). But the vast majority is sauvignon.

The grapes are getting that golden yellow quality as they ripen.

I haven't counted, but it seems to me that about half of the grapes in the vineyard parcels around us are planted in sauvignon. There's a small parcel of chardonnay that I know of, and some pineau d'aunis. The rest is red: cabernet, côt, and gamay.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Don't get saucy with me, Bearnaise.

No Bearnaise sauce here. This is the first batch of tomato sauce this season. I trimmed up the tomatoes that had ripened, added a bunch of salt and several bay leaves (also from the garden), and boiled it down. This is pretty much the biggest pot we've got, and it was completely filled when I turned the heat on. Once the sauce is reduced and cooled, I'll run it all through the food mill to remove the skins and seeds. Then it will go into freezer containers.

The tomatoes, yellow and red, have started to reduce. The pot holds 11.4 liters (12 US quarts).

There are so many more tomatoes out in the garden that are not quite ripe. As they ripen, we'll eat some, but most will go into sauce. Some of the sauce will be further reduced and made into tomato paste. We like to use the sauce through the fall and winter months. It's some kinda good!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Burs in the fur

It's bur season, and Tasha picks up a lot of them. The burs in this photo are the most common, but they come in all shapes and sizes. She often comes back from a walk with a twig or a branch of thorny blackberry or wild rose stuck in her tail. Thankfully, she's not afraid of the brush and comb I use to get the burs out. Sometimes she thinks it's a game. But she doesn't always like me tugging at her fur.

I've already forgotten if the flowers on these plants were yellow or white.

We're moving into another warm spell. My plan for the day is to pick a bucketful of tomatoes, trim them up, and make a batch of sauce for the freezer. Many of the toms got sunburned in our recent heat wave, but they're still good for sauce once I cut the burned part off.

Monday, August 13, 2018


The grapes out in the vineyard are getting riper every day. It's most obvious with the red grapes, but the white ones are also ripening, going from green to more of a golden yellow. I have no idea when harvesting will start, but I'll bet it will be a little sooner than normal, given the hot summer we're having.

I'm not good at identifying varietals. This is either cabernet franc, côt (malbec), or gamay.

In other seasonal news, I read that the hunting season for game birds (pheasant and partridge) opens on September 23 in our area. Wild hares can be hunted starting October 14. Organized hunts for deer, foxes, and wild boar were authorized starting back in June, but I haven't seen one happen in our area so far this season. It won't be long.