Sunday, March 29, 2015

Rainy day

That's what we are expecting today, but it hasn't really started yet. It's dark (because of the hour change), windy, and overcast, but not very wet. A look at the radar shows the precipitation just to our north. And it's relatively warm at ten degrees (fifty fahrenheit). Film at eleven.

Rosemary beetles in the rosemary bushes.

I didn't know what kind of beetles these are, but they were messing around in the rosemary bush when I was taking pictures the other day. A quick internet search revealed them to be the common rosemary beetle (chrysolina americana) and are, surprisingly enough, found on rosemary, lavender, and thyme plants throughout western Europe from the Mediterranean basin to the British isles.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

What's on tv

I understand that this actor, Paul Walker, was killed in a car accident a couple of years ago. Now his last film, the latest in that "Fast and Furious" series, is being released in April. I've not seen any of the movies in that series, but I did hear about his accident back when it happened.

Vin Diesel remembers Paul Walker.

What not to watch this week. Our tv magazine rates shows and movies using a star system: one star is ok, four stars is best. They use another symbol for really bad movies: the red dot. It means "à zapper" (change the channel!). The editors often include comments about the movie that make me laugh.

It's shark-tastic! This week's bomb is "Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark." I just realized as I typed this that "mecha" must be short for "mechanical" as I read that the premise of the film is the construction of a giant mechanical shark to do battle with a giant real shark that threatens the lives of humanity.

Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark. American made-for-tv movie. Directed by Emile Edwin Smith, 2014. First showing.
With Christopher Judge, Elisabeth Röhm, Matt Lagan, and Hannah Levien.
A giant shark threatens humanity. The government creates a robot copy of the monster to confront it.
An improbable bomb of a film, badly acted and badly directed, but which, in going all the way to absurdity, becomes frequently hilarious.
For adults and teenagers over ten.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Get that lizard

The lizards are coming out to play. It still seems a little cold, but I've seen a lizard or two on the rock walls and the sunny side of the house in recent days. Callie has seen them, too. She likes to flush them out of their hiding places in the rocks and chase them as they scurry away. It's fun to watch as she goes from spot to spot looking for lizards.

A lizard clings to the side of the house behind the rosemary bushes, hiding from Callie.

If I say the word "lizard" in front of Callie, she'll go into hunt mode, looking in all the familiar places trying to find one. And, if there's one, there must certainly be more. She actually caught a lizard once; it shed its tail, as they do, and got away.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

And thyme

You knew it was coming. Le thym (thyme) is another Mediterranean herb that does relatively well in our cooler climate. It also is planted on the south-facing wall of the house to maximize warmth and sunlight. Fresh thyme is very good, but we find that we use dried thyme more often because it's easier and just as good. Depends on the dish.

Fresh thyme. The brighter green leaves are this year's spring growth.

So there are the Simon and Garfunkel herbs. Our garden, like many around us, also has a large laurier sauce (bay laurel tree) the leaves of which we use frequently. I mentioned that I've also grown sarreitte (savory), basilic (basil), cerfeuil (chervil) and, less successfully, ciboulette (chives). Now I'm getting hungry.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Can you guess where I'm going with this? We have two tall bushes of romarin (rosemary) growing against the south-facing wall of the house. They seem to thrive there. Early on, I had one growing out in one of the garden plots. It was a centerpiece and I had trimmed it into a topiary. Nothing complicated, just two balls of leaves on a single trunk. One hard freeze was all it took to kill it.

Our rosemary is flowering now.

That's why we put the new plants against the house. Rosemary likes the Mediterranean climate in the south of France; it's much warmer than our temperate climate. But if you treat it right, rosemary does fine where we live.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Compared with parsley, this herb is easy to grow. Well, I should say, it's not easy to kill. This sauge (sage) was already growing in the back yard when we bought the house twelve years ago. Since then I've trimmed it back every year and even taken cuttings and rooted them elsewhere. If anything, it grows too well. Like a weed.

Sage in the spring sunshine.

Right now the sage plants are coming back from winter. They never lose their leaves entirely, but spring is when the new growth occurs. As summer approaches they send up their purple flower spikes and then, with fall on the way, the leaves will be larger and broader than they are in the photo, and best for cooking. We use sage a lot with poultry and I add it to winter squash dishes, including my fall pumpkin raviolis.

Monday, March 23, 2015


For some reason that I cannot understand, I have trouble growing persil (parsley). Last spring I planted the remainder of a pack of seeds, there must have been between fifty and one hundred of them, and I got one plant. One. Plant. This is that plant, coming back now after dying back for the winter.

Flat-leaf parsley re-sprouting from last year's one successful plant.

Parsley is supposed to grow like a weed and re-seed itself year after year. I see it in other peoples' gardens all the time. I've seen it growing on rock walls. One of our neighbors has a robust patch growing right out of her compost pile. But I have no luck at all. Last fall, I asked Ken to pinch a seed head from that neighbor's parsley plant. I intend to plant those seeds this year and see if they come up.

Fresh shoots of parsley. Now, if I had five or six more plants like this...

For nearly twelve years now I've had this problem growing parsley. I have the same problem with chives, but to a lesser degree. Maybe it's a soil thing. Cerfeuil (chervil) grows well in my garden, as does coriandre (cilantro). I sowed some sarriette (savory) last year and it worked, too. So, what's up with the parsley?