Saturday, September 19, 2020

Tarte aux figues

I made a fig tart on Friday with some of the bounty from our friend's fig tree. The filling in the tart is an almond custard made with ground almonds, sugar, an egg, and butter. I sliced the figs and arranged them on top before baking. When the tart cooled, I painted it with an apple jelly glaze.

I messed up the timer so the tart got a little over done, but it was not a problem.

We had some rain early this morning, but the temperature did not drop. It's actually warmer and more humid this morning than it was yesterday morning. I guess that's what you get with a southerly flow. I'll be happy to see some cooler air move in.

Friday, September 18, 2020


One of our local friends has a fig tree that is producing abundantly right now. She invited me over to pick my fill on Thursday. I got a nice flat full of deliciously ripe fruit.

A tray load of figs. I see a fig tart coming soon.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our fig tree is also producing. We got four figs. We may get two or three more if they ripen. Our tree is not the same variety as our friend's tree. I bought it at our local outlet of a big chain garden center thinking, wrongly, that they wouldn't sell something that does not thrive in our area. Caveat emptor.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Harvesting in the dark

Most of the grapes out back have now been picked, either manually or mechanically. Both methods were on view yesterday. The days are hot and dry right now, so the growers have been starting each day very early in the morning, a good hour before sunrise. The harvesting machines are equipped with big lights. They remind me of the alien machines from "War of the Worlds," moving slowly but with determined precision.

A harvester in the vineyard parcel behind our house on Wednesday morning. The trailer is parked to the left.

When the on-board bins are full, the big machine pulls up to a waiting trailer and dumps the contents in. Once the trailer is full, a tractor takes it to the winery while the harvester continues to suck grapes off their stems in the vineyard.

As the sun rises, things become a little clearer. The trailer parked in the background is collecting hand-picked grapes.


The hand harvesters wait until sunrise so they can see what they're doing. Pickers clip the grape bunches off the vines and put them into a bucket. Other workers walk up and down the rows with a large bin on their shoulders. The pickers empty their buckets into the bin and the bin carrier takes it to a similar trailer parked at the end of the rows. The process continues until the parcel is harvested. It all ends in late morning, as the day's heat builds in.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Tomato update

I picked these tomatoes on Monday. The tomatoes that formed and grew after I added a calcium supplement to the water are not suffering from blossom end rot. Calcium carbonate is not a cure. Once a tomato begins to rot, it's got it. But the calcium additive can prevent future fruit from rotting. It seems to have worked.

Monday's harvest from the tomato patch.

I've lost a lot of the crop to the rot, that's for sure. But at least we're getting some. The problem, as you might be able to see in the photo, is that all of the tomatoes are smaller than they should be. I didn't plant any cherry tomatoes this year, yet many of these tomatoes are no bigger than that. I blame the dry conditions. We had almost no rain to speak of during the growing season. My daily hand watering was obviously not enough. I'm thinking about using soaker hoses next year for a more thorough watering.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Le pendule de Foucault

A couple of commenters mentioned Foucault's pendulum on Sunday in response to my image of the Panthéon dome. Indeed, a copy of Foucault's pendulum hangs from the dome today. The original was installed in 1851.

Foucault's pendulum swings under the dome of the Panthéon in Paris. May 2016.

The pendulum is a demonstration of and evidence for the Earth's rotation. I won't repeat all the technical stuff here; it's available on Wikipedia and from other sources for anyone who is interested. Versions of the pendulum exist all over the world. The first time I encountered one was on a school trip to the United Nations headquarters in New York.

A stop-action shot of the pendulum's "bob."

I took these two photos in 2016 when I visited the Panthéon. A restoration of the building had recently been completed and visitors could take a tour up into the dome and to its exterior colonnade. If you're in Paris and can climb stairs (lots of them), I recommend that tour. The views are spectacular.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Pedal to the metal

How's this for street furniture? Exercise bikes. I saw these on the banks of the Seine in Paris in that part of the old voie express rive droite (the right bank expressway) that's been closed to cars and opened up to pedestrians and cyclists as a park.

Standard and recumbent bikes looking up river. April 2018.

Today is supposed to be a hot one, the hottest day of the week at 36ºC (96.8ºF). The next few days are supposed to be a little cooler with highs around 31ºC or so. Fortunately, the days are shorter so the sun doesn't have as much time to keep things hot; the nights cool down quickly.

Also today, one of the contractors is coming to look at the deck so he can prepare an estimate for us. The second deck contractor comes on Wednesday.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

From the archives

Once again I find myself without fresh fotos to share. Here's another image from my overnight stay in Paris before flying out to Canada and the US in May 2016. I was waiting for a guide to take me and several other visitors up to the dome. This is a view of the dome from inside, looking up from the main floor of the church. The dome rises to a height of 83 meters (272 feet).

Looking up inside the dome of the Panthéon in Paris. May 2016.

The Panthéon is no longer a church, having been transformed into a national mausoleum shortly after the French revolution. Since then, 78 notable French citizens have been interred there.