Monday, May 25, 2015

Another one bites the dust

I found this poor little mole belly-up in one of the paved roads where Callie and I sometimes walk. It obviously was not squished by a car. I wonder if an owl or some other critter caught it, then dropped it, and why. It was not close enough to our house to be one of our back yard moles. They're really interesting looking animals, although they do wreak havoc in the lawn.

Those huge front paws are for digging.

Since today is a holiday, we get no mail and we can't use power tools (noise). Well, we are allowed to make noise between ten and noon. If it's not raining, I may run the mower along the strip outside our north fence to keep the weeds down. I noticed last evening that it needs to be done again. That takes about five minutes and it shouldn't bother anyone.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tennis, anyone?

Today is the day. The French Open at Roland Garros in Paris gets under way. Raphael Nadal, the defending champion, is seeded only #6 making him the probable opponent of #1 seed Novak Djokovic in the quarter finals. That's pretty early. Roger Federer, seeded #2, is Djokovic's likely opponent in the final. But anything can happen!

That's our house peeking out on the right. Click on the photo for the full effect.

This photo shows the mass of wildflowers putting on a show in the donkey pen out by the vineyard. The flowers are mostly yellow buttercups and white daisies, but there's more if you look closely. I don't see the donkeys out there much lately, so the growth isn't being grazed down very quickly. I processed the image through Lightroom and am quite pleased with the result. It's not perfect, but at this resolution it's hard to see the problems. I'm about halfway through my 30-day free trial with the software and I haven't decided one way or the other.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

What's on tv

Tennis! My favorite tournament of the year, the Roland Garros grand slam (the French Open), gets under way on Sunday. Two weeks of high-end clay court action! Everyone is saying that this is Novak Djokovic's year to win. He's been looking pretty good on clay so far this season, having just won in Rome and Monte Carlo, not to mention winning the Australian grand slam in January, and Indian Wells and Miami in March. Will he do it? We'll see very soon.

French tennis star Gaël Monfils is in the fight!

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.

Lest I lead you to think that the French have it in for bad American films, here's a French bomb.

Frère et sœur (Brother and Sister). French made-for-tv movie. Directed by Denis Malleval, 2012.
With Bernard Le Coq, Roxane Potereau, and Jacques Sereys.
A fifty-something lawyer and confirmed bachelor sees his father return after a fifty year absence accompanied by a teenager who turns out to be his daughter.
This comedy that wants to be funny, but isn't, has little to offer the viewer or the main cast, except to put them ill-at-ease.
For all audiences.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The greening of the vineyard

Every day, the leaves get bigger and greener. Vine tendrils are reaching up the guide wires and the grape flowers will soon be open. It won't be long before the posts among the vines disappear into the green. For now, they make varied patterns depending on where you stand.

It's becoming a sea of green.

I had a weird "illness" last night. While watching television, all my joints started to ache as if I had the flu. I took my temperature and had a low-grade fever just over 100ºF. I took a couple of aspirin and went to bed, feeling achy, and had some chills. By midnight it seemed to be over and I feel perfectly normal this morning. I have no idea what it could have been; Ken was fine.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Les asperges

Asparagus season continues. There was still plenty to be had at last week's market, and I'll see what's available on Saturday, if I go. This batch got made into another ham and asparagus tart this week. We finished it as part of Wednesday's lunch.

White asparagus must be peeled before it's cooked, otherwise it's too fibrous.

Because our April was very warm, I missed out on the "free" asparagus that grows wild among the grape vines. I saw lots of it out there, but it had all bolted very, very quickly and it's not good that way.

I'm still fumbling with Lightroom, making my way with it. I like many of the features, but find others a little cumbersome. And some photos (all raw format) look better when I process them through Photoshop. Today's asparagus is an example. I could not get the Lightroom photo to look vibrant, it came through rather dull. When I processed the same image in Photoshop, the lighting and color were easy to preserve, as you see above.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Positively cold

It's cold this morning. The outdoor thermometer reads about 6ºC (about 43ºF). The weather web site that I look at daily says we're at 4ºC (about 39ºF). Our thermometer typically reads higher in cold weather since it's mounted on the side of the house. It also normally reads cooler in hot weather for the same reason. These are not temperatures conducive to planting the vegetable garden. I think the grass has stopped growing.

Backlit grape leaves in the morning sunshine.

It felt like fall on Tuesday when I was stacking our delivery of firewood for next season. We had a few showers in the late evening and over night. Today may be the chilliest of the week, with a warming trend in the forecast. "Warm" is a relative term. The solstice is only a month away.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Deer paths

Our local deer make paths through the tall grasses in spring and summer. Callie likes to follow them. I sometimes follow her, if the grass isn't too wet. It's in the tall grasses that Callie picks up ticks. We're in prime tick season right now and there are a lot of them. Callie and Bert both get Frontline every month, but the treatment doesn't stop ticks from biting. The medicine enters the dog's and cat's bloodstream and kills the ticks once they begin to feed, preventing them from reproducing.

Callie is about to follow one of her favorite paths through the tall grass.

Consequently, we are always pulling ticks off the animules this time of year. We have special tick forks that work very well, provided we find the tick while it's attached. Otherwise, dead, blood-engorged ticks fall onto the floor or wherever the animal lies. I've stepped on more than one and have had to clean up the yucky mess. I check myself after every walk to be sure there are no ticks crawling on me. Eeew!