Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tasha Tuesday

Here she is, standing in the garden path. It's amazing how she will, sometimes, just pose for the camera. Most of the time she's running one way or the other. The red pivoines (peonies) are blooming, as is the sage. In between is an artichoke.

Tasha posing in the garden path.

We're expecting a couple of nice days before it gets chilly again. We seem to be paying for the nice weather we had in February and March. Dammit. Oh well, such is life. At least there's no snow, right?

Monday, May 20, 2019

Gratuitous cheese shot

For lack of anything better, here's some cheese. We brought this back from our trip to the Auvergne region last March. It's long since eaten, but I don't think I ever posted the photo.

Bleu d'Auvergne on the left, Saint-nectaire on the right.

We made good progress in the loft over the weekend. Except for a few minor things, we're pretty much ready for the construction to start. Of course, we don't yet know when that will be. It's amazing how much junk can accumulate over the years. The loft (it's really the attic, but I call it "the loft" because it's one large space with an open stairwell) was finished nearly nine years ago now. That's longer than we lived in our San Francisco house. Some of the furniture up there hadn't been moved since then. You can imagine...

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The greening of the vineyard

This photo is almost a week old now. The vineyards are turning from winter brown to spring green as the leaves multiply and grow. All the greens around us now are spring-fresh. I went to the Saint-Aignan market on Saturday (for strawberries) and noticed that, even though it was overcast and raining, everything looked beautiful, even the old gray stone of the town.

We haven't see the sun in a couple of days, but all the plants will appreciate the rain we're getting.

We've made good progress on the loft, clearing out the northwest corner and the storage closets under the eaves to make way for the new half-bath construction. But the rest of the room is mess! Piles of clothes and boxes everywhere. We should be pretty much finished today, moving a second chest of drawers, rolling up the rug, and tidying up other stuff. The work could start during the coming week, so we have to be ready.

Saturday, May 18, 2019


The little tomato seedlings are getting bigger. There is now only one seedling per pot, so they have some room to grow. We're getting closer to setting them out in the garden. I spread some compost on Friday and Ken will do a final tilling in the week to come. It's raining this weekend, so we have to wait.

The green tray contains red Russian kale seedlings, a gift from a friend who had a surplus.

Next week I'll start the hardening-off process by putting the seedlings outside during the day and bringing them back in over night. That slowly conditions them to being outdoors. One year I didn't do that and a lot of them died in the garden. Lesson learned.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Yard work

We're getting there, slowly. We've had a break in the chilly and wet weather, enough to be able to cut grass (again), till up the garden plot, and do some other trimming and clean-up. This weekend looks like it might be wet again, so we'll pause. There is still work to do to get the loft ready for the new bathroom construction, so that will be our first priority.

The grass is cut!

The vegetable seedlings are doing well in the greenhouse. They'll be ready to go outside as soon as the garden plot is ready for them. Today I plan to shovel compost. We've also got the annual tune-up of the central heating boiler scheduled for this morning. I don't have to do anything but be here for the technician; he does all the work.

That wisteria against the house needs to be trimmed up and adjusted. The lilac on the right is done blooming.

I've got a pile of junk to take to the dump/recycling center and a list of little odd jobs to tend to. I guess I need one of those "round tuits" that everyone talks about.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Grape buds

Not to be confused with "Grape Nuts," an American breakfast cereal which, by the way, Wikipedia explains is made from neither grapes nor nuts. Discuss.

The immature grape bunches are pointing skyward now, but as they grow, they'll bend toward the ground.

These little buds will open into barely perceptible flowers soon and, once pollinated, will become tiny bunches of grapes. The grapes will spend the summer growing and ripening until harvest time. The main activity right now out in the vineyards is mildew (fungus) prevention. Big tractors with far-reaching arms are spraying the new foliage with a copper sulfate and lime solution commonly called bouillie bordelaise. The mixture helps to prevent the growth of fungi that like damp conditions. Since rain is predicted this weekend, the growers are spraying. They'll have to do it again after the rain.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Acacia flowers

Here's a look at the first of the acacia flowers that I've seen this spring. The trees are just a short walk from our place out among the vineyard parcels. They line a stream bed that cuts a ravine down to the river.

I won't be eating these, but they are pretty.

People have told us for years that the fresh flower bunches are good to eat when battered and fried, much the same way that one batters and fries zucchini blossoms. I've never tried it. It just seems like a lot of work for not much result. If I'm frying, I'd rather eat French fries.