Saturday, February 16, 2019

No-snow drops

We haven't had any snow (aside from some flurries) so far this winter, but the snowdrops don't care about that. They're up. I wish we had some in our yard, but we don't. I found this patch in the woods out by one of the vineyard parcels we walk around. There's another big patch down at the bottom of the hill, along one of the other paths that Tasha and I frequently take.

Snowdrops pop up through the leaf litter as if it were snow.

The door handle for the refrigerator arrived as expected on Friday and was easy to install. Just like new! I actually ordered two of them so that we'll have a spare in case there's another break. I also decided to order two new digital lamp timers. The analog timer we use in the entry is a pain to program accurately, and right now the lamp there is coming on around three in the morning. That's because the power was off last Monday when the new electric meter got installed and I had to reset the timer. Like I said, finding the right time on the dial is not easy. I have two digital timers already and they work great. They even have battery backups so they don't lose time or programming when the power goes out.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Pruning continues

Most mornings, just around sunrise, four or five cars drive up into the vineyards behind our house and park. The pruners get out and gather around one of the cars for a coffee. Then about half of them strap on battery packs that power their electric shears and start cutting vine canes. The other half work to pull the cut canes and line them up on the ground between the rows.

This is the color out of the camera. The rising sun gave the early morning fog an orange glow.

Thursday morning was frosty. The temperature was not much higher than freezing and ground fog formed over the vineyards as the sun rose. Tasha and I were making our way through and around the vineyards and saw the pruning team up ahead. They're used to seeing Tasha with either Ken or me in the morning, and Tasha is used to seeing them. We kept out of their way and turned toward home.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Bloomin' flowers

The winter cyclamen is in full bloom in our back yard right now. This year, the patches seem to have gotten bigger and the flowers more numerous. These "wild" cyclamen give us some nice color in the weeks before spring officially arrives. It won't be long before the primroses bloom. Vivement le printemps !

An early sign of the coming spring.

Lately, we had been noticing that the handle on the refrigerator door seemed loose. We both mentioned it to one another. Then, on Tuesday, SNAP! The handle just broke off in Ken's hand. Great. Now what? Well, I went on line and searched for pièces détachées réfrigérateur Beko (replacement parts for Beko refrigerator) and found a couple of sites. With the fridge's model number, I was able to locate a vendor who had the part in stock, placed an order, and it shipped later that afternoon. They say the new part will be delivered tomorrow. What a world!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


A couple of days ago I posted a photo of a parcel of sauvignon blanc vines that had not yet been pruned. Well, now they have been. So, I took another photo!

Compare this view with the same shot from Monday's post.

Our week of "nice" weather is under way. It was mostly sunny through the day on Tuesday, with the same expected today and through the weekend. And, while the mornings are still cold (around freezing), the days are warming up nicely. They're saying the weekend could feel like spring.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

As French as apple pie

Nothing says France like a tarte aux pommes, except maybe a baguette or a croissant. Or a crème brulée. But I digress. The good old apple tart is comfort food, a staple of French desserts. They've certainly been a staple in our house. And they're relatively easy to make.

The layer of rhubarb under the apples gives the tart a nice kick.

I had some apples, some of my own pâte brisée (pie crust) in the freezer, and some leftover rhubarb compote in the fridge, so on Monday I made a tart. Since the pie crust was already made, all I had to do was to thaw it and roll it out. After blind-baking it, I spread a layer of compote inside. Then I cored, peeled, and sliced the apples and arranged them on top. After about thirty minutes of baking, I glazed the tart with some strained apricot jam. Voilà !

Monday, February 11, 2019


The storm moved through and the wind died down. We got a bunch of rain. Last night, when I looked out the window sometime around 02h00, the stars were clear and bright. The constellation Orion is getting lower in the western sky. We're more than half-way through winter now.

This vineyard parcel, planted in sauvignon blanc, is waiting to be pruned before spring.

As soon as things dry out a little, I plan to make the rounds with the wheelbarrow and gather up the twigs and branches that were blown out of our trees. It happens every year. It's mostly dead wood that comes in handy as kindling for the fire, but first it has to dry. It doesn't take long.

Today we're expecting the installation of a new electric meter. France is systematically replacing traditional meters with new high-tech machines that don't need to be read by a person. The new meters transmit the customers' electricity consumption to the company automatically. As it is now, our monthly electric bill is an estimate based on last year's use. A meter reader comes twice a year, and the bill is adjusted at the end of the year. Once the new meter is in, we'll pay for actual monthly usage without needing an adjustment in December. En principe, as they say.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

In black and white

There is certainly color in the winter vineyard. The canes that are not yet pruned have a muted reddish hue. The grass between vine rows is bright green. Evergreens on the edge of the vineyard parcels are, well, ever green. But on some days, especially on overcast and frosty days, the place seems monochromatic, almost like a black and white photo.

This tree was little more than a sapling fifteen years ago when we moved here.

Today is a yucky weather day. We're having rain and gusty winds. Again. February has come in like the proverbial lion of March. On Saturday the weather was much calmer and we were treated to a show: the woman who owns the house two doors down is preparing it for sale. Her father lived there until he passed away last fall. Early in the morning we noticed a bonfire in the front yard. They were burning chairs and bed frames. They kept the fire going all day, until sunset, with more furniture, boxes, carpets, linens, books, and who knows what else from inside the house. I've never seen such a thing.