Monday, December 21, 2009


Today is the winter solstice. The shortest day of the year. The first day of winter. And my fiftieth birthday.

Nothing says Holidays in France like clémentines from Spain or Morocco.

Not a big deal, but interesting. We'll be doing the usual birthday dinner of steak au poivre with a cognac cream sauce and french fries. I've had this birthday meal every year since 1981, well over half my life now.

This year the cognac will be replaced by a local gnôle, also called marc, a brandy distilled from the leavings of the grape pressing process (seeds, skins, stems). One of our neighbor wine makers, whose father still has one of the dwindling number of licenses to make the stuff, gave us a bottle this fall. We've been saving it for today.

Some will go into the sauce, some will go into us.

In other birthday news, I got "the letter" from the national health service. It's colonoscopy time!


  1. Happy Birthday Walt! Enjoy the day and the meal. We'll be toasting to your good health later today when were having lunch ! Martine

  2. Hey there Walt!!

    A HUGE Happy Birthday SHOUT OUT to you!!

    Enjoy your very special winter day and also happy colonoscopizing!!


  3. Happy birthday from us !!
    We are snowed in today. So we'll be able to drink to your birthday with our lunch, too.
    Many Happy Returns from Jean and Nick.

  4. Happy Birthday Walt...Hope you have a great day, enjoy your meal, one of my husbands favourites mmmm,you must love it so much too!!

  5. Bill in very snowy NH21 December, 2009 10:24

    Happy Birthday, Walt!

    As for the marc, I've found it to be best used in your car battery, from whence it comes.

    My usual tipple here is Saint Remy French Brandy at about $8.00/bottle...but I've never found it in France. I assume that the Cognac people have limited it's sale. However, I think it's parent company is Remy-Martin. See

  6. A very happy birthday to you! Enjoy your day.

    Hope that letter wasn't your only birthday present!

  7. Happy Birthday. It is, indeed, a big one.
    Sometimes the Sécu can be so efficient, and then sometimes ...

  8. Nice picture of the mandarine. I was reading a blog yesterday about marc Joyeux anniversaire!

  9. Walt,
    Happy 50th, every decade is a milestone.
    I to have a colonoscopy in my 5th decade. I remember I was painting the entrance hall of our 1929 Californian Bungalow home at the time. Several times actually because Sue wasn't quite sure of the shade of colour!!!!!!
    I mentioned this to my doctor at which he exclaimed, "you take care of your front passage and I'll take care of your back passage."
    I love a doctor with a sense of humour, and that Walt, is a true story.
    Happy Birthday Mate...

  10. Have a great b''re a young'un

  11. Joyeux anniversaire Walt

    WV: "viver" :-)

  12. Happy Birthday Walt! Will you have a cake? Do you need help blowing out the candles?

  13. Happy Special Birthday, Walt! Your steak sounds delicious!

    Enjoy your wonderful meal ... sounds like a very tasty tradition.

  15. Happy Birthday!
    What kind of cake DO you two do for birthdays?


  16. Happiest of birthdays, mon ami!

  17. Happy birthday, Walt! Enjoy your day with Ken and Callie and all your fans who are with you in thought.

    I never thought of a colonoscopy as an appropriate gift, but I'm always the last to know.

    How nice to celebrate with a colonoscopy.

  18. Many, many happy returns!

    The good news about having a colonoscopy is that it typically comes with some good drugs.

  19. Happy 50th Walt! Enjoy your steak. Perfect warming food for the sort of weather you're having. I hope your 50's are kind to you.Sue

  20. Yay! Happy birthday Walt! I hope your steak is amazing, and that Ken spoils you rotten!

  21. I got so focused on wishing you a happy birthday, I neglected to mention that your clementine photo is just beautiful!

  22. Happy Birthday Walt! We're so happy we know you!
    Chris and Tony

  23. As usual I seem to be last to arrive....
    I too want to join the ever increasing conga line to wish you a very happy birthday
    may the next 50 years be even more marvelous.

  24. Thanks, everybody! The birthday was great, made even more so by your wonderful greetings. :)

    It's amazing, this internet thing, isn't it?

  25. Dropping in a little late as usual! Well, 50 is quite the birthday -- I know I haven't really gotten over it yet and it's been nearly 6 months. It sounds like you had a great celebration, though, and I wish you the happiest of holidays:

  26. I'm a bit late (big brother at work= no blog reading during the week), but I wanted to wish you a happy birthday quand même. Here's to being 50 and fabulous!


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