Monday, December 09, 2019

Another phrosty photo

A familiar view to regular readers: looking west from the hamlet out into the vineyards as Tasha and I head out for our morning walk. I really over-processed the image in an attempt to get a more dramatic effect. I like it, but then I look at it again and don't like it. Then I like it again.

Tasha gets frosty paws.

The wind has been gusting strong for about 24 hours now. The weather people say it should die down by this evening. Then the mild temperatures will drop toward freezing again. Well, as they say, 'tis the season.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Frosty hamlet

A view of our little hamlet on a frosty morning. It was a very light frost, but it was frosty nonetheless. I think the photo looks better in black and white.

Looking northeast over the vineyards. Click on the photo to make it bigger; it looks better bigger!

On Saturday, Ken installed what's called a solid state drive in my computer. He cloned the existing hard drive (the "C" or "boot" drive) where the operating system and all the programs are stored and copied it all to the new SSD (solid state drive). The old hard drive will now become an external storage device. The advantages of an SSD are that accessing programs and data is much faster than with a drive that spins and that there are no moving parts to break down.

The installation also gave me an opportunity to vacuum the dust out of the computer's innards. I have definitely noticed the speed increase. Now if only we could get a fiber optic connection to speed up the internet!

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Cockles

Success! I drove over to a nearby town that has its market on Fridays. The market at Montrichard is bigger than Saint-Aignan's Saturday market. I remembered that they had two fish mongers. I was disappointed to see that neither of them had much shellfish. Just mussels and some oysters. As I gave up and headed back to the car, I noticed a third fish monger. His stand was smaller than the other two, but lo!, he had coques (cockles). I got a kilo.

Having linguini with white clam (cockle) sauce between Thanksgiving and Christmas has become a kind of tradition for us.

When I got them home, Ken put the little bivalves in a pot of salty water with cornmeal for a couple of hours so they could purge their systems of sand (and other stuff) before he cooked them. When it was time, he sweated onion and garlic in olive oil, added the cockles and some white wine, and let them steam open while the linguini cooked. When the pasta was done, we added it into the pan with the cockles, sprinkled on some fresh chopped parsley, and lunch was served.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Frosty web

Ice crystals formed on spider webs on Thursday morning as our low temperature went below -1ºC. The sun came out and melted the frost by mid-morning. We're expecting the same today, but with more of a warm-up as a new weather system moves in.

They look like water droplets, but they're actually frozen.

It's nice to walk the dog on frosty mornings because she stays clean. The mud is frozen enough not to get all over her feet and fur. One of the nice things about winter. The freezing also checks the population of bugs, or so I'm told. The bird feeders are filled and the usual suspects are enjoying them. Rouge-gorges, (robins), mésanges (tits), and pinsons (chaffinches) are the most common visitors to the feeders and the suet balls. We also see some chardonnerets (European goldfinches) and merles (blackbirds) from time to time.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Barenaked maples

It's official. All the leaves have fallen from the twin red maples out front. If you read Ken's blog, you will know that we finally got it together to rake them up on Wednesday. They had dried out enough to move and, now, most of them are out in the vegetable garden plot. Last year we raked up the leaves on November 24, so we're not too far behind. It's just been so wet.

Some birches around the 'hood are still golden, and the hedge around our yard will stay green through winter. But the maples are bare.

Today my plan is to put the holiday lights up on the house. We're expecting another day or two of dry sunny weather, so it's time. On Friday morning, I plan to go on a quest. This time of year we usually make coques (cockles) with linguini to help break up the heavy holiday meals of lamb and poultry. But, the fish monger at the Saturday market in Saint-Aignan where I could get them quit the market earlier this year. I'm going to drive over to the Friday market in a nearby town to see what their fish mongers have. Hopefully, I'll come back with some coques or maybe some little clams.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Condemned

These are two of the three remaining fir trees in our yard. The healthy one on the right is very tall; we can see it from across the river, marking the location of our house on the southern bank. The tree on the left is dying. The lower third is nearly devoid of needles and the upper branches have many fewer than they used to.

The tree looks bare all year round. A few of its silver-blue needles survive, but not for long.

So, the jig is up. The guy who does our hedges and removed our apple trees is coming this winter to remove this big fir tree. It's too close to the house and is wedged between the other fir and the linden. Removing it will open up the northwest corner of the house to light and air, improving views and getting rid of the dead needles that constantly drop on the roof and in the gutter.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

The birches hold on

The birch trees in our hamlet are the last to be losing their leaves this fall. They're still providing us some nice color, but not for much longer. The days are getting chilly (Monday's high was about 5ºC or 41ºF); the sun is too low in the sky this time of year to warm things up much. Still, it's nice to see the sun after that long run of overcast and rain.

The view of our neighbors' property from the deck on a sunny December afternoon.

I'm thinking I'll take advantage of the dry weather to get the holiday lights up on the house this week. The tree won't go up until the 15th or so.