Sunday, December 10, 2017

Brown is the new black

Or maybe it's the new green. Whatever it is, brown is the predominant color out in the vineyards this time of year. If we're lucky, we will have a snowfall or two during winter to brighten things up. Until then, it's brown. The pruning process has begun and will last until spring.

There are still plenty of greens and oranges to be found, but it's mostly brown.

I put the lights up on the house Saturday. When the weather permits, I'll go out and take a photo. Next weekend I'll put up our tree and see how Tasha reacts to it. We will also head out to the market to order our Christmas bird. We haven't decided what to get yet. Turkey? Capon? Guinea fowl? We'll see!

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Through the woods

The Artsy Organized Neighbor maintains a short dirt road through his property adjacent to the vineyards out back. It doesn't really go anywhere, except to a steep path that leads down into the ravine which I've never taken. Tasha (and Callie before her) and I cut through the woods at the end of the road and come out in another vineyard parcel on the other side.

The dirt road is covered with fallen leaves right now. The path we take through the woods is behind me.

The path we take is well worn. I think it started out as a deer path through the woods, but after years of being trampled by Ken and me, Callie, and Tasha, it's a pretty clear path.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Winter walks

It's not officially winter, yet. But when the days are cold and dark, it might as well be. We walk the dog on the edges of the day, at first light in the morning and just before sunset in the afternoon. The sun is very low in the sky, when we can see it. But all is not grim. It's nice to be able to be outdoors and enjoy the woods, watch the birds, and breath the crisp air.

The evergreens are green, the oaks are golden brown, and the other trees are mostly bare.

Tasha gets impatient before walk time. It takes me a while to get ready. When it's cold and windy, I have to put long johns on. Then I have to get my boots on and tied up. Scarf, coat, hat, gloves. Tasha's harness and the leash. She bounces around waiting for the door to open and, then, we're off.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Throwback Thursday

Here's another one with Collette, from the late '90s/early 00's. We're on the pier at Aquatic Park in San Francisco. In the background toward the left is the Hyde Street pier. If you really look closely above and to the right of my head, you might see the Hyde Street cable car terminal which is just across the street from the Buena Vista Café where, according to legend, Irish coffee was first served in the US.

Collette looks toward the Golden Gate Bridge while I contemplate the city skyline.

Rising in the background are a few of downtown San Francisco's iconic buildings, silhouetted in the haze. On the left, the Transamerica Pyramid is easily identifiable. Just to its right is the twin-spired 345 California Center, whose upper floors now house the Loews Regency San Francisco Hotel. The imposing dark granite tower of the Bank of America building rises toward the center of the photo. On the right is a Russian Hill residential tower. The Transamerica and BofA towers are no longer occupied by their eponymous corporations.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Gray and dreary days

That's late fall and early winter here. We only have about eight and a half hours of daylight right now, and the skies are often foggy, overcast, and leaden. We do get some nice sunny days here and there, but a lot of the time it's gray.

The walnut tree out on the vineyard road. I noticed that there weren't many walnuts out there this year.

I'm certain that these dreary winter days are the origin of our holiday traditions of bringing greenery and lights into our houses. And also of cooking meals with summer fruits, squashes, and root vegetables that were put in cold storage at the end of summer. And also of eating birds, like turkeys, chickens, guinea fowl, pheasants, partridges and other game birds that abound this time of year. All those things lift our spirits, and "help to make the season bright."

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Tasha Tuesday

I've done this before, but now I've updated it with Tasha's photo. These are the four dogs that I've had in my life. So far. First there was Lassie. She was a purebred rough collie, the biggest of the four. My dad brought her home when she was just weaned, and this photo was taken not long after that. It was the mid '60s. It's one of the few photos I have of her. Lassie was our family dog until 1977.

Left to right: Lassie, Collette, Callie, and Tasha. Female sheepdogs, all.

The second dog was Collette. Ken and I adopted her in 1992 when we lived in the Silicon Valley city of Sunnyvale. Collette was a mixed breed, but obviously had a lot of Shetland Sheepdog in her. In 1995, the three of us moved back to San Francisco and then to France in 2003. She was with us for fourteen years. We think of her often and miss having her around.

The third dog was Callie, as many of you know, a purebred border collie born in 2007 here in France. She was the second largest dog of the four. Unfortunately, she left us this past summer at just ten years old. We miss her a great deal.

And now, of course, there's Tasha (full name: Natasha of the Wolves of Isengard). She's a Shetland Sheepdog, purebred. She was born earlier this year and is now over nine months old. Tasha is the smallest of the four dogs. We're looking forward to growing old with her.

Monday, December 04, 2017


There is a restaurant on the island at Saint-Aignan and they have a nice outdoor seating area on the river with a grand view of the château on the other side. It's a great place to eat in good weather, but it doesn't get much use this time of year.

The indoor dining room is up on the bridge level, the outdoor seating is below that on the river level. The door in this photo leads to the kitchen.

The restaurant has gone through several iterations over recent years. I think it just started out as a bar/café. It has changed hands a few times and the kitchen was submerged when the river flooded a couple of years ago. But it keeps coming back. We enjoyed hamburgers for lunch with friends there one sunny summer day. Tasty!