Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Valley View

From up in the vineyard, on any relatively clear day, you can see the valley of the Cher River out beyond our house to the north and east. Often the only hint of the valley is a band of white fog lying in the riverbed.

The vines give way to woods as the land runs down into the river valley.

As it was on this day last week. On the far bank, the right bank, you can see a water tower. You can also make out the angular tower of a grain silo poking up through the mist. The silo is next to the railroad line that runs parallel to the river. From a distance its bulk makes you think it might be a cathedral, until you get up close and see it for what it is.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Crème Caramel

Crème caramel is a classic French dessert and one that I rarely make. I don't know why because it's pretty easy and always good. I was watching some old Julia Child DVDs with Jacques Pépin* and they did creamy desserts, including this one. I was inspired.

The caramel is poured into the bottom of four ramekins.

First I made a caramel. Some sugar and water (and a little cream of tartar and salt) boiled on the stove until it began to color. When the color got to where I wanted it, I poured the caramel into four ramekins to cool.

Next, it was on to the custard. This one was made with five eggs plus one yolk, a mixture of milk and cream, some sugar, and vanilla. The trick here is to put the hot milk into the egg mixture slowly so as not to cook the eggs, stirring all the time. Then the mixture went into the ramekins on top of the caramel and into a water bath in the oven.

The custard is cooked! Actually, it started to get too much color, a sign of an oven that's too hot.

When the custard was set, out they came. It took a lot less time that Jacques said it would, so I think the oven was too hot at 180ºC (350ºF). Next time I'll bake it at a lower temperature. After the cooked custard cooled, I turned one of them out onto a plate.

And dessert is served! A little messy, but presentable. And delicious!

About half of the caramel stayed behind in the ramekin, so I put the ramekin into the microwave for a few seconds to soften the caramel, added a few drops of water and stirred, then poured the caramel over the custard. Boy, was it good.

But on Monday, when I had a second, all the caramel had softened and came out just beautifully on top of the custard. I guess I had the first one just too soon. Live and learn!

* No, Jacques and I were not hanging out watching DVDs. He was with Julia.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Couscous For One

About a month ago, when the storm called Xynthia passed through and knocked our power out, you may recall that we raided our neighbors' freezer. Actually, our neighbor called us and said to go over and take anything we wanted out of the freezer in their summer house (we have a key) as it would spoil otherwise. They live about forty minutes away and could not come down at all at that point.

All the ingredients (except the broth) for my couscous lunch. The vegetables have already been cooked.

Part of what was in the freezer was a package of merguez, those North African lamb and beef sausages typically used in couscous dishes. Ken cooked them and put them into the freezer to keep them. Since there were still some in there when he left on his trip, I decided to make myself a couscous while he's away.

I cooked some celery, a couple turnips, a few onions, and a bunch of carrots in a pot of chicken broth that we had in the freezer. I added some hot pepper, a bay leaf, some allspice, and fresh thyme and rosemary from our garden. When that was done, I made the couscous (tiny pasta that is the base of the dish), heated up the thawed merguez, and opened a can of chic peas.

A close up of the celery. French celery is sold nearly white and not so green. It's very tender.

It all came together wonderfully with a bit of harissa (hot pepper paste) for lunch on Saturday. I can't describe to you how wonderful all the vegetables tasted in their spicy broth. They were each perfectly cooked, tender but not at all mushy. The merguez was good, but it was almost superfluous, that's how good the veggies were.

Of course, while I'm only one person, I made enough for a couscous party for four. I ate couscous for lunch again on Sunday and I'll be eating couscous again during the week. And I'm looking forward to it!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lunch At The Mange-Grenouille

Friday was a special day! I got to have lunch with fellow bloggers from Melbourne, Australia, Leon and Sue, and meet neighbors and blog readers Carol and Mike. We met in Saint-Aignan and enjoyed a leisurely lunch at one of our local restaurants, le Mange-Grenouille.

Left to right: Carol, Mike, Sue, and Leon. Notice the green frog on the bar.

Leon and Sue are in France for a few weeks on holiday and made a swing down through the Loire to see friends and visit other bloggers. I'm honored that they included me on their tour! Unfortunately, Ken had to miss out while he's visiting is mom in North Carolina. Leon is a serious bicyclist -- he travels with his own bike -- and Sue is a wonderful cook and loves French food. Carol and Mike are British expats and have had a holiday home in our region for twenty years or so. They moved here permanently about five years ago. They also own several properties that they rent out to holiday makers.

Lunch was relaxed and fun, especially with three versions of English being spoken (British, American, and Aussie). We enjoyed the restaurant's warm atmosphere while hail and rain squalls drenched the outdoors. And look at what Leon brought for me. Isn't it the coolest?

Thanks Leon!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Periodic Puppy Pics

Here's Mademoiselle Chose (Miss Thing) sitting in the back yard on a recent mild day. She loves being outdoors chasing balls and sticks. But mostly she likes sitting around.

Callie and her tennis ball. Notice that sly look in her eyes. She knows something...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Un Oiseau Dans L'Arbre

This bird sat in a tree next to the vineyard road as I walked by one morning with Callie. It did not budge, except for watching me closely as I moved past. I even stopped to take this picture and was sure the bird would fly, but it just sat there watching.

Keeping an eye on the human and canine.

I wonder if it was warming up in the sun and didn't want to use unnecessary energy to fly unless it absolutely had to. I wonder, too, if it's a female heavy with eggs. Any guesses?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Le Café Des Sports

This place is on the main intersection of a very small town nearby called Villentrios. I was passing through the other day and stopped for a photo. The town has about 650 inhabitants and an old château that is slowly being restored.

Everything was all closed up at street level and there was no sign of activity.

I didn't take any pictures of the château because I stopped the car in the wrong place. Maybe next time.

This morning's walk with Callie was very nice. The sky is lead-gray and there's a light rain falling, but no wind. The weather is coming from the south right now so it's relatively warm. I heard the first cuckoos of the season doing their thing in the treetops. The flowering trees and shrubs are showing their colors as their blossoms are beginning to open.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Une Omelette Aux Fines Herbes

This was my lunch on Tuesday. A cheese omelet with chopped fresh chervil on top. I used two eggs and a little water, then grated a small bit of comté cheese. The eggs went into a buttered skillet until they just started to set. Then I sprinkled in the cheese.

A light cheese omelet with fresh herbs on top. So very French.

I folded the omelet before it was completely set and turned it out onto a plate. Then I sprinkled it with cerfeuil (chervil). Wow. It was deliciously light and fluffy. I followed it with a green salad. All of it was washed down with a local gamay.

It was one of those perfect lunches that was so easy to put together.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More Signs Of Spring

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you will recognize this picture. Every year in early spring, the primroses in our yard bloom. They're in a little section that's shaded much of the day by a tall conifer.

The annual primevères (primroses) blooming in our yard.

It's a little carpet of color ranging from yellow to blue to dark purple. The warm bright days are with us now! I thought this past winter would never end. We may still have some cold days. To wit: in France they say, "En avril, ne te découvre pas d'un fil." Which means, in essence, in April, don't be tempted to shed your warm clothes. The rest goes, "En mai, fais ce qu'il te plaît." In May, do what you please. We're not even out of March yet...

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Different Angle

Here's the Château de Saint-Aignan yet again, but from an angle that I don't normally see. The other day, Ken and I drove over to our contractor's place of business and looked at a couple of old radiators to determine if they were worth using in our attic conversion (we decided no). The place is just south and east of St.-Aignan on a high spot in the community of Seigy.

Le château de St.-Aignan-sur-Cher, looking north from Seigy.

I drove back there on a whim Saturday afternoon to see what I could see and found a dirt road that looked promising. This is part of the view I got up there. There are some amazing houses on the ridge with cool views. It's a bit more crowded than our little hamlet in the vineyard, but it's nice in a different way. And with views like this, well.

A wider shot with the collégiale church towers on the right.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Trip To Tours

Well, the suburbs of Tours. Chambray-lès-Tours to be exact. When Ken and I were there a couple of weeks ago to order our new stair for the attic conversion, we stopped into a nearby store to check out flooring materials. We think that we're going to put in one of those synthetic wood-like floors and then use rugs in the higher-traffic areas.

A big floor store chain. Lots of rugs, carpets, and other floor treatments.

After looking at flooring and costs, we checked out some of the rugs and saw one that we liked for the future attic's t.v. area. We didn't buy it at the time, but I started to think that if we waited any longer, it wouldn't be there when we go back to order the flooring.

A section of the new rug. It's not big; about 4.5 x 6.5 feet.

So I drove back over to Chambray on Friday and bought it. It's un tapis, which is what we might call an area rug, not to be confused with une moquette, which is more like wall-to-wall carpeting. You may have heard of un tapis volant (a magic, or flying, carpet), le tapis rouge (the red carpet), or un tapis roulant (a moving sidewalk). Ours is none of those. It's brown and white, to match the brown sofa.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Mornning View Of Our Château

Yes. Our château. Ok, not really, but we think of it as ours since it's right next door*. From this perspective you can see both the remnants of the medieval castle (left) and the renaissance wing (right).

Le château de St.-Aignan.

The building at street level with the green storefront is the St.-Aignan tourist office. Again, this photo is taken from the Place du 14 Juillet.

*It's not literally right next door. We're about 3 kilometers from town.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Sunny Morning In Saint-Aignan

Last Tuesday gave us a beautiful sunny morning (and day) and we happened to be out in St.-Aignan on some errands. I remembered to take the camera this time.

A view of St.-Aignan looking roughly northeast toward the river.

This is the view of the town's main street, rue Constant Ragot, as it comes up the river bank out of the center of town into the Place du 14 Juillet. The big building in the background is the collégiale, St.-Aignan's church. This place is right next to the Place Wilson (they're just separated by a street) and is where the non-food stands get set up during the Saturday outdoor market. The rest of the week it's a parking lot.

It won't be long before the trees leaf out. I can't wait.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Le Petit Casino

Saint-Aignan has a little movie theater, although neither of us has ever attended a screening there. I have no idea how big it is inside. It's up on the Place Wilson and it's called le Petit Casino (the little casino). In French, the word casino means more than a gambling establishment. It's a building that can function as a meeting hall and/or theater. There's no gambling going on in this casino, unless you count taking a chance on a weird movie.

Along the Place Wilson in St.-Aignan, across from town hall.

Here's Ken heading up to our bank earlier this week. The bank is the Crédit Agricole, or CA as you can see on the sign on the left side of the photo. Before he gets there, though, he's got to run the gauntlet of the Maison du vin (the house of wine), the movie theater, and le Saint-Aignan café-bar. The café is closed this morning, and it's a little too early for a movie, but he does seem to be drawn to the Maison du vin.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sunny, Dry, And Cold

Here's the view of our little hamlet from out in the vineyard on Tuesday morning. It was just over one degree celcius (just above freezing) when Callie and I ventured out. It hasn't rained since last month and things are rather dry right now.

Looking northeast toward our house.

The was a light frost covering most of the ground, but it melted on contact and Callie's feet got all muddy by the end of the walk. One of the vineyard guys is out there now pruning the last of his parcels and his dog Max is always happy to see Callie.

While the mornings are cold, the sun warms the day up after a few hours. Come on, Spring!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pecan Pie

When our friends K & J, who live in Scotland, brought us a big bag of pecans a couple weeks ago, we were ecstatic. We've done a few different things with them so far, but the best is this pecan pie that I made on Saturday.

Two pecan pies.

I made two of them, one for us and one for a friend. I use maple syrup in them since corn syrup is not something we find here. They're very tasty!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Photo Du Jour : A Trailer

This is a trailer that somebody uses to move firewood. I don't know who it belongs to. I mean, I do, but I don't know the guy. He has a bit of property on the edge of the vineyard where he stacks wood and old road signs and bits of old concrete. He hangs flags and plants stakes out in his woods. He may be the one responsible for the panties that Ken saw the other day.

Two logging trailers and a woodpile at the edge of the vineyard.

I think he's kind of an eccentric, but I don't know. This may be his playroom away from home. Who knows?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My New Second Favorite Cookie

Did you know I have a favorite cookie? Now I have two. My first favorite for decades now is the Petit Ecolier by LU. The perfect LU cookie with a tablet of chocolate on top. Yum.

Sablés means sandies, as in pecan sandies.

Now I've discovered Sablés de Retz by St.-Michel. They are nutty and coco-nutty perfect little biscuits, and not very sweet. They're amazingly good when dunked into red wine, too!

Friday, March 12, 2010


These were once daisies. Last year's bloom. The wind storm we had over a week ago now blew most of the dead, brown stems over on their sides, but not before I got this picture.

Talk about dead heads...

It won't be long now before the new growth shows up.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Do You Know The Way?

These little signs are at the triple intersection in the Forêt de Choussy. The St.-Aignan sign is the standard modern directional sign; the St.-Romain sign looks to be much older.

These are the signs you see coming south from the town of Choussy.

The intersection forms a triangle in the woods. But the paved roads are not the only roads that come together here. There are also the forest roads, basically dirt paths wide enough for a car, that radiate through the woods from here. They provide access for logging and hunting.

One leg of the intersection looking south toward St.-Aignan.

The view below is a screen capture of the satellite image of the forest from Google Maps. You can see the town of Choussy at the top of the image. The yellow arrow points to the triangular intersection where I took these pictures.

La Forêt de Choussy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

La Forêt De Choussy

This little forest is on the right bank of the Cher, just south of the town of Choussy. It's on the way between St.-Aignan and Oisly, the latter being another wine producing town in our area. I haven't explored the woods. In fact, I'm not sure how much is public. There are some signs in spots that mark private property, but not everywhere.

This road is limited to twenty tons.

Normally I just drive through these woods on the way to someplace else. This day I decided to stop at a spot were three roads come together in the middle and take some pictures. It was a showery day, and I got caught in a small squall while out on foot. I didn't mind at all. The rain was gentle, not cold, and there was no other sound except that of the raindrops hitting leaves. It was sublime.

A dirt road cuts through the woods.

Like many of France's forests, this one serves as a hunting ground in season, and it is managed and harvested regularly for wood. Our local forests are planted mostly with a mix of pines and oaks but they contain other species as well. There are many of these forests around us and we drive through them all the time. I need to stop more often.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Ferns. The forests around our region are filled with them. It won't be long now until the new green growth begins to show up on the forest floors. Meanwhile, we still have the brown reminders of last year's lush undergrowth to ponder.

Last year's ferns in the Forêt de Choussy.

We're currently experiencing a northeast flow coupled with high pressure that's keeping our skies beautifully clear but very cold. The wind, fresh out of Scandinavia, puts an accent aigu on that cold feeling. After about a week of this, we're supposed to see the start of a warming trend.

That will be much welcomed, I can tell you.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Return Of Calm? Not Really

Now that Xynthia is a more than a week behind us and the power is back on, and now that the colonoscopy is done with good results, you'd think we'd be relaxing a bit. You would be wrong. We're up to our eyeballs in chores and stuff that needs doing before Ken leaves for two weeks in North Carolina on the eighteenth.

The skies are back to normal now. Thank goodness.

First of all, we are proceeding with the attic conversion. That means meeting with the contractor and viewing/selecting materials at a supply place over in Tours. In addition, the guy that will do the electrical and heating installation in the attic is coming over on Wednesday to install a water heater for us. We were very lucky to have obtained an almost-new 300 liter tank (about 75 gallons) for the house (thanks K & J!).

The current tank is seventeen years old and holds only 200 liters (about 50 gallons). On one hand, we're worried that the thing will just die one day soon. On the other hand, we frequently run out of hot water, especially when we have guests. Let me explain: we are on a circuit that automatically turns on the water heater at night when the electric rates are much lower, and turns it back off during the day when the rates are high. We often override this feature during the day to heat up water, and it ends up costing us a lot more than it should.

With the larger tank, we're hoping we will have enough hot water so that we don't have to pay higher rates to heat it during the day. Also, since the heater is much newer, it may be more efficient from the start. We'll see how that goes.

We also have to prepare for the attic work to begin, which means cleaning up the attic (removing some junk that's up there and all the cardboard that's lining the floor) and moving a bunch of furniture and stuff beneath the work area into the garage. But we need to clean the garage up a bit by taking some things that have been piling up in there to the dump. And, since the garage will have furniture in it temporarily, we'll have to park the car in the carport outside, which means cleaning out the remains of this year's wood pile (which is not much since we're near the end of wood burning season).

And there's still a lot to do in the yard once the weather gets a little warmer.

Arrrgh! I'm exhausted from just thinking about it all.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Now Where Were We?

Before we were so rudely interrupted? Stupid storm. As I write this, the generator is still humming out behind the house. The dial says it's producing twenty-five kilowatts. And that's powering the nine houses in our hamlet. Of course, only six of them are permanently inhabited. And a seventh is occupied by the people in Paris who own it and are down right now.

A battered "men working" sign out behind a wood pile in the vineyard.

We can't, of course, tell the difference between normal power and this generated power. All is the same, except for the sound of the engine running twenty-four-seven. But that's ok. Electricity is a good thing. We have no idea when the electric company will be able to restore normal power. I kept wondering how long the generator could go on 400 liters of fuel before it needs to be refilled. I found out last night. Around 11:00 pm, just a little more than 72 hours after they first fired it up, it quit. Our lights went out again. Merde!

After a couple of hours I heard some commotion out back and got up to see some electric company people out there, in the dark, futzing (is that how you spell that?) around with the generator. I got the impression they were refilling the tank, but I'm not sure. After a while the generator came back on and so did the digital clocks in the house. So we have power again. Ken says that it looks like all the downed wires that feed our hamlet have been repaired, but we're still on the generator. Oh well, it won't last too much longer, I'm sure.

Ken and I spent some quality time in the yard on Saturday morning. We burned a little, but the smoke was thick and blew right into our neighbor's yard, so we let the fire go out before we burned everything. Ken picked up a lot of downed branches that we're using for kindling in the wood stove. I fired up the chainsaw and cut some more wood for the fire. We use the central heating in the morning, but the fire still burns most evenings. The weather people say it will stay cold for a while longer.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Clean Bill Of Health

The colonoscopy went very well. The doctor said everything was normal and that he found no polyps. I'm very relieved given that my grandfather died young from colon cancer. Now that it's "behind" me, I'll tell you how it all went down here in France.

The clouds clearing out last Sunday after the storm passed over.

The preparation, as many of you told me, was worse than the actual procedure. Even so, the only part that was uncomfortable was the constant running back and forth to the toilet. I took two small bottles of something called Fleet (the enema people) Phospho-soda mixed in a large glass of water. A little salty, but not too bad. Then I had to drink a lot of water. I did this once the night before and again in the morning, before 8:00 am.

I took my anti-germ shower and got dressed and Ken drove me up to the clinic, about forty-five minutes north of here. By this time, the second worst part of the procedure kicked in: nervous anticipation. I'm kind of squeamish about hospitals and needles and all that. So my heart was in my stomach the whole way.

I checked in and they put me in a double room (even though I had requested the cubicle) with a young guy who was pretty much asleep when we got there. It was about 12:15, and the nurse told me that I was scheduled to go into the bloc (the operating room) at 2:15 pm. Once Ken left, I got into my little (and I mean little) paper gown and got into bed. A nurse came by to take my temperature (normal) and my blood pressure (elevated at 150/90). I told her I was just a little nervous and she said that's normal, and she gave me a tiny little pill to calm me down. I never really felt it kick in. She asked me a battery of questions: was the preparation ok? Yes. Did I take my anti-germ shower? Yes. Am I allergic to any medications? No. Am I wearing any jewelry, hearing aids, or contact lenses? No.

The guy next to me eventually woke up when they brought him some food. He looked at it and told them he couldn't eat it since he was on a fiber-free diet. The woman took it back and brought him some pasta, which he then ate. His doctor came in and they talked a bit. Apparently he has digestive problems that they're trying to figure out and the doctor told him there was nothing wrong in the colon, so the mystery lingers. We talked for a little while after the doctor left. Turned out he's a university student in Orléans, studying music. He plays the trombone. Or the paper clip (they're the same word in French), but I assume it's the former and not the latter.

At the appointed time two orderlies came in to wheel me away. It's a strange feeling, that, watching the ceilings go by as you're being whisked down corridors and through doors.

We arrived at the bloc opératoire and they parked me inside. A woman came by and put a paper hair net on me, then attached little patches for the heart monitor to my chest. She asked me to move onto another bed, then she wrapped the sheets around me and put a new blanket over me. She asked me all same questions that the nurse asked me five minutes before. Prep ok, shower ok, allergies no, and no jewelry, hearing aids, or contacts. Then they wheeled me to the pre-anesthesia station.

There, my anesthetist introduced himself and inserted the catheter into my arm. While doing this he asked all the questions again. Prep, check. Shower, check. Allergies, check. Jewelry, hearing aids, contacts, check. Then they wheeled me into the operating room (I could tell it was the operating room because of that fancy light fixture above my head, and there was my doctor). Monsieur le docteur had a funny smile on his face as he said hello. "You're not too sad about the Canadians beating the Americans in hockey are you" he asked? Not at all, I said. At least I knew that he knew who I was. Then they moved me over to yet another bed. The nurses were busy fitting me with a blood pressure cuff, attaching the electrodes, an oxygen mask, and a pulse monitor.

"So, what do you do here in France," the doctor asked? I'm retired, I said. He and the nurses all said "Wow!" and then "How do you retire at such a young age?" I said I would tell them my secret after I woke up. Chuckles all around.

The anesthetist said they were going to start me off with a little drip at first and then it would be bonne nuit (good night). Then the room started moving and it was kind of funky. This was my favorite part.

Almost instantly, at least from my perspective, I woke up in recovery. A nurse said hello and asked how I felt. Fine, I said. I raised my head and looked around the room a bit. I saw a clock on the wall that said 3:30, but I must have gone back to sleep pretty quickly. I remember being wheeled through the corridors again, then I was back in my room. The trombonist was gone; he was going to be released at 3:00.

It wasn't long before a nurse came in to take my blood pressure again. This time is was 120/70; must have been the effects of the anesthesia. I was quite relaxed. Normally, at my doctor's office, it's 130/80. Next, another person came in with some food. Boy was I hungry! They gave me a plate of grated carrots, sliced tomatoes, cucumber, boiled potato and a hard boiled egg with vinaigrette dressing and two nice slices of ham. There was a small baguette, a hunk of blue cheese, and little custard dessert with sliced almonds on top. And a carafe of water. The plate was china and the glass was a wine glass. Alas, no wine in hospital. I ate it all. While I was finishing, my doctor came in.

He was all smiles and said that everything went well, all was normal, and that he found no polyps. He told be to come back again in five years. Then Ken came in to take me home.

We were there for about twenty minutes before another nurse came in to give me my walking papers and to remove the catheter from my arm. At that point I got dressed and we checked out. I was feeling great until I stood up, then I realized I was still woozy from the anesthesia.

That evening I dozed on the couch in front of the tv, and slept very well through the night. Now we're all back to normal and I'm very happy that it's all over. At least until 2015.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Holey Rooftops, Batman!

We didn't hear it happen, but sometime during the night of the storm (last Saturday night) the wind began to switch, the house to pitch. And suddenly the hinges started to unhitch. Just then, the witch, to satisfy an itch, blew ten tiles off our roof. What a mean old bitch!

The gash in the roof was up near the ridge.

Most of the tiles just slid down the roof and some got stopped by the gutter. Three made it down to the ground, but only one of those actually broke. Fortunately it wasn't raining at the time. There were some rain bands ahead of the storm, but once the wind picked up there was no more rain for about twenty-four hours. Ken and I tried to think about what we would do with a gash in the roof on a Sunday, and we dug out the insurance papers.

You can see some of the tiles lying on the roof and in the gutter.

Ken called a guy that's worked on our roof before; he also sweeps the wood stove chimney every year. He actually showed up on Sunday evening and climbed up and put all the tiles back in place. He added one from the back of his truck to replace the broken one. It took about twenty minutes and he was done. He asked us for thirty euros; we gave him forty and lots of thanks. We don't need to bother with insurance since our deductible is nearly ten times that amount.

Three tiles hit the ground, one broke.

Many of the tile roofs on French houses are made by hanging tiles on runners or battens that are attached to the rafters. There's no plywood sheathing or felt/membrane. So when the tiles go, the interior of the building is completely exposed to the elements. These tile roofs are very sturdy, but when they do fail, repairing them is pretty easy, unless there is also structural damage. We were lucky in that regard.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A Nasty Girl Named Xynthia

Our power is back on after over ninety hours. Our roof is repaired. Much of the frozen food stayed frozen. They named the storm Xynthia and it was a whopper, at least for France. The storm center moved up from Portugal on a path directly over us overnight on Saturday. We had hurricane force winds that blew down a lot of trees. One of them took down the power lines that serve our neighborhood. That was about 4:30 am on Sunday.

The electric company can't get to the line right away. They are swamped with emergency repairs all over the region (not to mention the coast, where most of the damage was) and the line is on a rather steep wooded slope. So they showed up Wednesday night around 10:00 pm with a huge 100 kW generator for our hamlet. The lights are back on, temporarily, until they can restore the line.

That's good news. It means we have power and heat again. Although, as you probably know if you read the comments on the last post, we have a wood burning stove that kept us relatively warm, and we have a gas cook-top so we were able to boil water and heat food. It was a little like camping (in winter!). We are warm, dry, and safe, and that's a good thing.

We'll blog more about the details in the next day or so, along with some photos. In the meantime, I have to head up to Blois this morning for my colonoscopy.

Many thanks to CHM for keeping in contact and posting updates in our blog comments!