Thursday, June 20, 2019


These little mauve, or purple, flowers look like blackberry blossoms to me. The plant's stem is thorny, which is what makes me think it might be a blackberry. The plant is very small, therefore young. I saw it on the edge of one of the vineyard parcels out back where there are many bigger blackberry brambles. Most of the berries are eaten by the wildlife.

The purple flowers caught my eye.

Work continues on the upstairs half-bath. Some of the framing of the room is up as is the chassis for the toilet. We're getting "suspended" toilets for both WCs. They don't touch the floor, but hang off the wall. All the brackets and mechanisms for flushing are hidden behind the wall. It's a clean look, and it will make actual cleaning much easier. We'll be sure to post photos once they're installed.

Meanwhile, Ken has ordered the sink, cabinet, and faucet that will be installed upstairs. They should be delivered between now and the weekend. The sink and its cabinet are also "suspended" from the WC wall, so there will be nothing touching the floor!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Hot start

Tuesday was as hot as the forecasters predicted. And it was humid, for us. And, our plumbing contractor showed up and started work on the new half-bath. First, he fixed a problem with the sink in the existing WC. Then he started drilling through the ceiling and wall to run the waste drain pipe down from the loft to connect to the existing sewer pipe.

Little daisies next to a puddle.

At that point we had our first mishap. He inadvertently drilled through the roof, breaking one of the tiles. Fortunately, we have surplus tiles, so he was able to get the ladder out and replace the broken one. The builder will be joining the plumber this morning to start constructing the walls for the new loft WC.

Just in case you're unfamiliar with the term, WC [doobluh-vay-SAY] stands for "water closet," an English term for the room where the toilet is. The French use the initials but never the words. Often they'll abbreviate the pronunciation to just VC [vay-SAY]. They also call them les toilettes, especially in restaurants or other public places. There are other terms, but I'll just leave it there for now.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Grape flowers

The vineyard is blooming. Not that you'd notice. Grape flowers are tiny and only visible if you look closely. Those pictured here were not quite open when I took the photo, but they are by now. Soon, the little grapes will form and start to grow.

These grape flowers are on the verge of opening.

Today work is supposed to start on the half-bath in the loft. There's some plumbing that has to be done to install a water supply line and, of course, the drain line before the fixtures can go in. There's a little electric re-wiring to be done as well, but nothing major. I'm not quite sure what the sequence of work will be, but if we're lucky we'll find out today.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Just a bowl of cherries

That's life. And, that's the main ingredient in clafoutis aux cerises. I got a pound of black cherries at the market on Saturday so that I could make this standard French dessert. It's a very simple baked custard with whole cherries. So good!

A bowl of cherries in the morning sun.

To make it, you put the stemmed and rinsed cherries (most French people don't pit the cherries; they believe they keep their flavor better that way) in a single layer in a buttered baking dish and pour on the custard. That's made with a little flour, four eggs, some sugar, and about a cup of milk. Then it's into a moderate oven for about half an hour, until it puffs up. Let cool and serve.

The finished clafoutis. It sinks a little as it cools. You don't pit the cherries, so be careful when eating!

Sunday actually turned out to be a nice day. Tasha helped me pick up sticks that had been blown out of the trees by the storm a week ago. Most yard work is a game for her. Today I plan to get some of the grass cut. I'll finish it up on Tuesday. I barbecued pork chops for lunch yesterday. Today it will be grilled chicken satay along with another harvest of snow peas. Yum!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

It's only a day away

This happens every year. At some point, cool and damp weather will turn warm and dry. The forecasters often show the change happening "tomorrow." It's cold and rainy today, yes, but tomorrow the temperature will shoot up and the sun will shine. The next day, it's still cold and wet, but the sun'll come out, tomorrow! Rinse and repeat. We've been promised nice weather tomorrow for about four days now. We're still waiting for tomorrow.

Everything has been a bit drippy lately.

The grass has taken advantage of all the rain and is shooting up, but it's still too wet to cut. Monday, i.e. tomorrow, should be the day. They're predicting sun and 24º (that's 75ºF). We shall see. UPDATE: After I wrote this, the sun came up in a clear sky. It's tomorrow!

In addition to strawberries, I got some black cherries at the market on Saturday. This morning I'm planning to make a clafoutis (kla-foo-TEE) with them. I'll try to remember to take photos.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Raindrops on rozannes

The rozanne geraniums are starting to bloom now. They're perennials and this is their second year in this location in the back yard. I originally had them in pots on the deck, but they wanted more room so I put them in the ground. They seem to like it.

I really like the deep blue/purple color of these flowers. And they bloom all summer and into fall.

The days are warming up, but very slowly. Still, we're having small evening thunderstorms with rain. I haven't needed to water the vegetable garden in over a week and, with all the rain, the weeds are growing. Once it dries out I'll need to get out there with the hoe and do some weed control.

Friday, June 14, 2019

More peas, please

On Wednesday, I harvested another batch of snow peas from our plants in the garden. They're really producing and this is the third batch we've had. Ken made a stir-fry with chicken this time and it was delicious.

Snow peas from the garden, trimmed and ready for the steamer.

I pulled the stems and strings off the peas and steamed them before they went into the stir-fry. That way, they have a head start on cooking. I'm not a big fan of crunchy (read: raw) vegetables in finished dishes the way many Californians are. As our friend CHM once told a waiter in a fancy Bay Area French restaurant: the green beans are good, but they would be better if they were cooked.