Sunday, October 20, 2019

Route barrée

Road closed. It's that sign we dread when we're in a hurry to get somewhere which, thankfully, isn't all that often these days. It's usually followed by a sign that says déviation (detour) and arrows that point the way. Funny, détour is a French word, but it's not used to mean detour in the American sense. The two words' meanings are subtly different.

Road signs and barriers stacked up behind the construction trailers behind our house.

Un détour isn't a temporary route around construction or other closure. It is, if I understand correctly, a curve or meander or simply another route that is just not the most direct way from point A to point B (as in the shortest distance between two points is a straight line). If you've used the famous Michelin touring guides in France, you might remember their rating system for sights: one star, intéressant (interesting); two stars, mérite le détour (worth going out of your way); three stars, vaut le voyage (worth the trip).

Saturday, October 19, 2019

A rainy weekend

The forecast is for rain through the weekend to Monday morning. I woke up around 01h30 this morning to the sound of rain on the roof, and this morning at 07h00 it's still coming down, albeit a little lighter. We need the rain, of course.

A break in the clouds last Thursday afternoon.

I stayed up late last night watching a movie on television. Prime time starts in France at 20h50 (that's ten minutes to nine), after the eight o'clock news. I always laugh at how nothing on French TV starts on the hour. It's mostly just before or just after, depending on the channel. Even programs that are scheduled to start on the hour often start early (like the noon news) or late, with no explanation. That's just the way things are. And that's why our satellite box has a default option to start a recording early and end it late. We have it set to start recording five minutes before the scheduled start time and to stop recording five minutes after the scheduled end time of any program we record.

Bert stayed upstairs with Tasha and me through the movie (it was Star Wars, Episode VIII) and was snoozing comfortably when I went to bed. So I let him stay. His door to the utility room and outside was slightly open so he could get outside when he was ready. This morning I heard him climb back up the stairs at 04h30, so he did go out at some point. We all snoozed for another two hours before getting up for breakfast.

Friday, October 18, 2019


Crews are doing some kind of work down on the river road (the road that runs parallel to the river down the hill from us). Apparently they don't have a place down there where they can park their construction trailers and other equipment. The mayor told them they could use the land next to the pond outside our back gate.

The strip adjacent to the pond has become a temporary construction staging area. The pond (left) is full of a weed called "jussie."

So far there are two trailers (the white one looks like a field office for the construction), a front loader, a load of road barriers, construction signs, and a big pile of gravel. Each day, dump trucks and other equipment come up our road and park for a while before turning around and heading back down to the job site. The big trucks are making huge ruts in the soft ground outside our hedge. I hope the crew fills them in when they're done.

Heavily laden dump trucks are making ruts outside our back hedge.

It's inevitable that we get ruts on what is essentially an access path to the vineyards on our north and west sides. It happens every year, but those ruts made by the grape grower's smaller vehicles. Either I fill the ruts with the dirt from mole hills, or they get more or less flattened out by other vehicles. The land is not ours, but I like to keep the grass cut around the outside of the hedge. It looks neater that way, and I don't have to walk through tall grass when I go out the back gate with Tasha. I can't mow over big ruts, though.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Chicken salad

Did I mention I'm still eating that chicken that I poached last Saturday? On Tuesday, I used the meat from the thighs and drumsticks to make a chicken salad using the same recipe that Ken used a few weeks ago. That is, with dried cranberries and toasted walnuts. The only thing I didn't have was celery. But no matter.

The whole wheat toast got a little too toasted, but it was still tasty.

I made a chicken salad sandwich for lunch on Tuesday and ate it with fries. I'm going to have another sandwich today, but this time with chips. I'll still have some chicken salad left, so it'll probably become a supper snack over the weekend. There's still a piece of chicken breast left in the fridge... there may be a pizza in my immediate future.

So far, I've eaten this chicken in one form or another on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and now Thursday. And there's another meal or two left. Good thing I like chicken.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

What's this "west 40" thing, anyway?

When I talk about cutting the grass, I often refer to sections of the yard as the north, south, or west 40. Some of you, especially those who aren't American, may wonder what the heck I'm talking about. Here's a quote from Wikipedia:
South 40 is an American colloquialism with its origins in the Homestead Act of 1862. Adult heads of families were given 160 acres (0.65 km2) of public land provided they could "prove" (improve) the land by constructing a dwelling of some sort on the land and cultivating the land in some manner. After five years of residence, the deed was transferred to the homesteader. The homesteads, being 160 acres (0.65 km2), were easily divisible into quarters of 40 acres (160,000 m2) each. The south 40 would therefore refer to the south 40 acres (160,000 m2).
So, our property (which is only 1/2 acre, or about 2,000 m2), is easily divided into three sections because of the way it's laid out. I jokingly refer to these sections as the north, south, and west 40s. I don't have an east 40.

The south 40 includes a strip about a meter wide outside the hedges. I also cut a meter-wide strip outside the fence on the north edge of the property.

I made this illustration many years ago using Powerpoint. It's not to scale, but generally shows where things are in the yard. I updated it for today's post. We've lost a few trees and made some improvements over the years, so I tried to show that here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Soba soup, sorta

After making my poule au pot (chicken in a pot) over the weekend, I was left with a lot of chicken broth, not to mention chicken and vegetables. Most of the broth went into the freezer. I saved out some to make chicken noodle soup for another lunch.

My chicken noodle soup with soba and Japanese flavor ingredients. I ate two bowls full.

I had some Japanese soba (buckwheat) noodles in the pantry and thought they would be good in the soup, and they were. I chopped up some of the leftover chicken and vegetables, added some soy sauce, mirin (a sweet Japanese rice wine), and some soy bean/garlic paste to the broth. It turned out well, but next time I think I'll try to hot it up a bit. There will be a next time because I have some left.

On Monday evening the expected cold front moved through our sultry, muggy weekend air. Thunderstorms formed all along the line, but somehow we were spared. There were storms to the south of us and storms to the north, but all we got was rain and wind. Lots of wind. About fifteen minutes of very strong wind. When it was over, I had to go out and collect the empty flower pots that were blown all over the yard.

Monday, October 14, 2019

A summery fall weekend

We're getting one more day out of this warm spell. The forecasters have moved the cool-down and rain out about twelve hours, so most of today should be nice with temperatures approaching 25ºC again, about 77ºF. As I mentioned, I took advantage of the weather to get some outdoor work done.

Saturday evening looking over the freshly mowed west 40 as the sun began to set.

Of course, my food plans didn't quite go with the weather, but that's ok. I could have been grilling, but I have a lot of leftovers in the fridge.

On Sunday evening's walk, Tasha and I got caught in a rather heavy, but brief, unexpected shower. The rain came down as if Noah himself were building an ark out back. I eventually took shelter under the roof of the vineyard cabin. Tasha wouldn't, but was beside herself rather annoyed at getting pelted with fat raindrops. As suddenly as it started, the rain stopped. We were treated to a nearly perfect rainbow on the way back to the house, both of us soaked to the bone.