Monday, February 18, 2019


When I walked Tasha last evening, I only needed a fleece and a baseball cap. No coat, scarf, or gloves. It felt like spring. Indeed, our outdoor thermometer read 16ºC (just over 60ºF), and that's in a cool location. The temperature on the deck got up to 20ºC (68ºF). It certainly felt like 20º out in the sun.

A frosty leaf in the vineyard road.

The sunny week we've been enjoying has been good for the plants and good for us. Lots of bright light for a change. Winter could still come back with cold and snow but, if it does, we know it won't last very long.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Say goodbye to Hollywood

At least, goodbye to this pack of Hollywood chewing gum. Somebody tossed this empty pack alongside one of the roads in our neighborhood, probably from a car. If you've been to France you probably know that Hollywood is a common brand of gum here. I remember it from back in 1981. Yikes! According to the company's Facebook page, the brand was created in 1952.

A frosty, yet empty, pack of strong mint-flavored chewing gum.

Our neighborhood is active this weekend. The woman who owns the house next to ours is down from Paris with her partner. They had the electricity people in on Saturday to install their new meter. I saw Mr. Man (as I call him) out working in the yard. The house next to theirs belongs to the daughter of our late neighbor. She and her family came down with a trailer and a couple of vans to continue emptying the house before they sell it. They had another bonfire yesterday, burning more big pieces of furniture. The people next to them are digging out a portion of their front yard. I think they're making a space to park their second car so they don't have to jockey two cars in and out of their driveway. Oh, and I took a couple of bins of stuff to the recycling center. Woo-hoo!

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 !