Saturday, November 30, 2019

The cheese course

I set out three cheeses for the Thanksgiving meal. The tall one is called Petit Basque, from the southwest (Basque country), made from ewes' milk. The white one is called pont-l'évêque, from Normandy, made from cows' milk. The small one is called cantal, from the Auvergne region of the central mountains, also made from cows' milk.

Cheeses don't have to be whole and untouched to serve, even to guests. The wine is a local sauvignon (I took the photos before we ate), but we drank Beaujolais with the cheese course.

To add a little holiday flair, we ate "fresh" figs along with the cheese. These are figs from a local friend's tree, trimmed and frozen whole by me back in September. I let four of them thaw at room temperature and they tasted almost as if they were fresh off the tree.

Four frosty figs to eat with cheese. They still had some thawing to do when I took the picture.

We're now enjoying leftovers for a few days. We ate cold lamb, steamed potatoes, and broccoli with mayonnaise on Friday and Ken's planning to make a lamb curry for Sunday lunch. Over the next few days, we'll do something with the leftover beans.

Friday, November 29, 2019


Our annual Thanksgiving meal was a success! The lamb was delicious. The butcher where we've been getting it for several years now is very good. He gets his beef, veal, and lamb from the Limousin region not far south of here. It's fascinating to watch him prepare a leg of lamb.

The lamb is cooked rare. Some of the pinkest parts will get cooked again as we eat the leftovers.

We painted the leg with olive oil and added ground pepper, allspice, dried thyme, and some hot red pepper flakes before roasting it for a little over an hour. Garlic and bay leaves helped flavor the juices. When the internal temperature reached 55ºC (about 130ºF), we took it out of the oven to rest for about fifteen minutes, covered.

Flageolets in front and green beans behind.

We served the lamb with flageolet beans. I read them described as white beans that haven't matured, so they're small and still green. We also had some green beans from our garden in the freezer, so we served those, too. After the main course, we ate a salad of Belgian endive and roasted beets with toasted walnuts, followed by a cheese course (petit basque, pont-l'évêque, and cantal) with figs. All was washed down with Beaujolais Nouveau. Dessert was, of course, pumpkin pie. We were both pretty full afterwards, but isn't that the point?

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Jive turkey

It's Thanksgiving, that American holiday centered on roasted turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. But not here. The television news has had reports about the holiday, explaining it's origins and customs to French viewers. It's a curiosity. But they really get into the "Black Friday" thing. So much so, that we are, and have been for a few weeks, experiencing "Black November." In English, no less. It's all about selling stuff for Christmas. Duh.

Pumpkin pie cooling in the oven.

As is customary in our house, we will roast a leg of lamb. It's a tradition we started at least thirty years ago, perhaps more. And it has served us well since the move to France because whole turkeys are not generally available here until closer to Christmas. We'll pick out the poultry next month.

However, we do not dispense with all of the T-day traditions. I made a pumpkin pie on Wednesday. Last year we had a bumper crop of potimarrons, a pumpkin-like squash with a chestnutty pumpkin flavor. I roasted a lot of it and froze it. We've used it to make several batches of pumpkin-based enchilada sauce, pumpkin bread, and now pumpkin pie. I didn't grow any pumpkins this year, but I'm thinking that I will again next year.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

California interlude

I'm out of photos. I haven't taken the camera outside in a while and I haven't taken many indoor photos, either. So here are some water lilies I saw at a winery in the Sierra foothills of California probably about seventeen years ago, before moving to France.

Almost like a painting by Monet.

I woke up to rain this morning. Again. Everything outside is a muddy mess. It's not cold, so there's no ice or frost. Or snow. But I can't take the dog down the hill on our walks because the path is like a tropical swamp and it's very slippery. Going out into the vineyard is ok as long as we stay on the road; the ground between the vines is too soft to walk on and stay dry, not to mention upright.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Tasha Tuesday

Here's a two-fer. I couldn't decide which photo to post, so you get two. Two-fer Tuesday? It was a rainy afternoon and Tasha was indoors. She sat inside the sliding glass doors and watched, as she does. She watches for cars, trucks, or people coming up the road. She also gets fascinated by the birds coming to feed from the suet balls I put up in the fall and winter. Lots of activity.

Tasha longs to go outside, but it's raining.

When a car or truck comes up the road, she can see it through the trees. She jumps up and runs downstairs to bark at it. When the birds are at the feeder, she just watches without barking.

At some point, some time, somebody's going to come up that road. I'll be waiting.

Sometimes Bert the cat comes in and sits beside her. It's a cute scene, both of them looking out the window together. I try to get a photo, but usually by the time I get the camera one of them has moved away. One day, I'll get lucky.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Take a hike

I mentioned yesterday that there was a randonnée (group hike) scheduled. Just as the sun began to rise, I noticed a couple of people walking by our back gate and out the vineyard road. As it got lighter outside, more and more people came through. It was over an hour later when I thought to take this picture from the loft window.

The construction trailers are still out back, and the road's a mess, but the view of the golden autumn leaves at sunrise is still striking.

Many of the hikers had small backpacks, I assume for snacks and water. Some of these hikes can go twenty kilometers (about 12 miles). I don't know how long this one was. A lot of the people wore red coats, I presume to make them visible to the hunters. And the hunters did arrive at 09h00 as usual, and many hikers were still making their way through the vineyards.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The western wall

Not the Western Wall. This is a close up of the west side of the cabane du vigneron (grape grower's shed) out in the vineyard. I noticed that someone crumpled up a piece of paper and pressed it into a crack in the wall. I'm guessing that the paper wrapped a pastry or a sandwich. Shoving it into the wall was better than just dropping it on the ground.

The western wall.

Today is Sunday, which is hunt day. And I see that there's une randonnée (an organized group hike) scheduled. I can tell because someone has marked out the route with chalk arrows on the ground and some small signs pointing the way at certain strategic turns. The town facilitates these walks several times a year and they often pass through our hamlet and out through the vineyards. I find it weird that hikers are willing to stroll through the vineyards where hunters are shooting at pheasants.

Saturday, November 23, 2019


This photo is over a week old. The grape vines have now dropped most of their leaves and the pruning continues (by that crew of workers, so it's going fast). Our weather warmed up as a rain system moved in over night. I didn't build a fire on Friday, and I don't expect to need one for the next few days.

Crimson and orange, no clover.

We're heading into Thanksgiving week, which means nothing in France, but Ken and I are already looking forward to our annual T-day tradition of roasting a leg of lamb. We'll have it with flageolet beans, one of the traditional accompaniments. I'm planning to make a pumpkin pie for dessert; I have roasted pumpkin in the freezer from last year's crop.

Friday, November 22, 2019


As in autumn, not tripping. The leaves are falling fast now. The maples in our front yard are almost bare. The linden out back still has a lot of leaves, but they're tumbling at a steady rate. The grape vines are nearly all bare now.

An autumn grape leaf.

Thursday's chores included a trip to the supermarket for some Beaujolais Nouveau. Ken brought back twelve bottles: six of one that we've enjoyed for many years, and one each from six other producers. The one we opened for lunch, called Le Chat Rouge, was very tasty. I'm looking forward to tasting our local gamay in the spring.

Another chore was the cleaning and covering of the grill. After disconnecting the gas bottle, I took a bucket of soapy water to the grill's exterior, then scraped the innards and cleaned the grease tray. I cranked the heat up to dry it all and burn off any stubborn food traces. When it cooled, the cover went on. No more grilling until spring.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Red among the yellow

Each vineyard parcel out back is made up of a single varietal, whether it's sauvignoncabernet, gamay, or any of the other varietals grown in our region. That makes sense. So you'd think that all the leaves in any given parcel would change to the same color in the fall. But there are obviously some vines in this parcel (and others) whose leaves are not the same color as their neighbors'.

Several reds among the yellows; a sign of less than healthy vines?

I have no answer for that. But I do have a theory (I am a guy after all and guys always have a theory). If you look closely between the red-leafed vine in the foreground and its yellow-leafed neighbor, you might see that a cane from the yellow-leafed vine appears to plunge underground and come up again as the red-leafed vine. That is a method of vine propagation in an established vineyard called marcottage (layering). There are a lot of vignes marcottées (layered vines) in the vineyards out back.

So, my theory is that marcottage may have something to do with the leaf color. The original grapes are grafted. That is, the French varietal is grafted onto a root stock (American in origin) that can resist infestation by phylloxera, an insect that ravaged France's vineyards late in the 19th century, and other maladies. But the layered vine is not grafted and when it grows roots they are its own. I wonder if the grafting, or lack of it, has something to do with the leaf color?

Naturally, I have no scientific evidence that this could be so. And my extensive quick and dirty research has turned up little on grape leaf color, other than that some normally yellow-leafed vines can turn red when they contract certain diseases. Could this be the case here? If anyone has the answer, I'd appreciate knowing.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


We're having a break in the rain. Still, the ground is saturated, soft, and muddy. The fallen leaves are wet and heavy. But there is still work to do. I got the deck table and chairs put away, and we've started moving outdoor plants into the greenhouse. I've still got the grill to clean and cover; maybe today.

The deck furniture is put away for the winter. The red maples are now golden and most of their leaves are on the ground.

On Tuesday I made good progress in the vegetable garden. All the stakes and supports are pulled out and stored away in the garden shed. I also pulled out the dead tomatoes and zukes as well as the remaining eggplant and pepper plants. Surprisingly, there was one nice eggplant and a good harvest of green peppers left on the plants. I'm glad I found them before they rotted.

This morning our low temperature is very close to zero and the attic windows are iced over.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Éclairs au chocolat

Ken was out and about on Sunday morning and stopped at a bakery for some bread. Along with the bread, he brought home dessert: two chocolate eclairs. He said the bakery, one that's a few towns away, was filled with beautiful pastries.

Chocolate eclairs for dessert.

The éclairs were good and chocolaty, but not too rich. Just right, the way French bakers know how to do. It's nice to have so many good bakeries around, not only for bread, but also for the occasional tasty treat.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The wall

Here's the west-facing wall of the cabane du vigneron (grape grower's shed) out in the vineyards behind the house. I posted a closeup of these vines with grapes and red berries two weeks ago (Strange bedfellows). Since then, the pruners passed by and did their thing.

The grapes that grow on these vines are ornamental; nobody harvests them.

They have yet to do the south-facing wall. You might wonder why there's a five-liter wine "barrel" hanging against the wall. The plastic barrel's top is cut out and fitted with a wire mesh cage, and the barrel is filled with bird seed. It's suspended just above the ground. My guess is that it's there to attract and feed pheasants and probably other game birds, especially during the hunting season. I see a few of these hanging in other spots on the edges of the woods that surround the vineyards, but I've never seen anyone hanging or filling one.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Late bloomer

These campanules (bellflower) grow outside our front door and flower through the summer. Provided they get enough water, that is. During this year's hot and dry summer, keeping them watered was not easy because we were (and maybe still are) under watering restrictions. Ken and I save water from the kitchen for watering potted plants around the house and on the deck (especially the herbs), but sometimes there isn't enough to go around. So this year the campanules suffered a little.

The spikey plant is a variety of sedum that's quite invasive. We have to pull a lot of it out each year so that it doesn't crowd out the bellflowers.

Now that it's been raining again for about a month, a lot of the outdoor plants have come back to life. Our "grass" is a vibrant green, and the campanules have started flowering again. In spring and during a normal summer, the plant spreads out and there are many more flowers. Still, it's nice to see these few in mid-November.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Whole lotta prunin' going on

The grape grower who owns the majority of the vineyard parcels out behind our house is making changes. It may be because his daughter is taking a more active role in managing the vineyards. That's just a guess on my part, but we see her much more often these days. She recently completed her university studies in viticulture (grape growing) and oenology (wine making) and has become more of a presence out among the vines.

Unpruned vines on the left, pruned vines on the right. Sunrise in the middle.

Among the changes I've noticed is the annual winter pruning work. For a time there were two or three employees who methodically cut the vines over the winter. It was a long, slow, process. At some point I noticed that these employees cut the vines, but left them hanging on the wires. As they completed parcels, a crew of seasonal workers would come in, pull the trimmings off the wires, and line them up between rows for mulching. Now I'm seeing crews of workers doing the actual pruning, too. And it's going much faster than before. At the rate they're working the pruning could be done by Christmas rather than Easter (total speculation on my part). The permanent workers are doing less pruning and more tasks like replacing posts and support wires.

I talked to one of them the other day when I noticed that a couple of parcels had been cleared of their posts and wires, and the vines were cut down to the trunk (usually a single cane is left with buds that will sprout in spring, like in the photo above). He told me that the vines in those parcels are being ripped out and replaced with new ones. He also said they'd be doing the same next year in one of the parcels adjacent to our house. We've seen this happen in two or three other parcels over the years. It's an interesting process to watch. It takes three or four years before the replanted parcels will produce grapes. I wonder if they'll be replanted with the same or other varietals.

It's good to see this grower (and his wife and daughter) continue to reinvest in the vineyards. That tells me that they must be doing relatively well and are looking toward the future of their business.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Still there

The construction continues (it's been about a month now) down on the main road, which means the trailers and other equipment are still sitting out behind our house. And we still don't know what it is, exactly, that they're doing. It looks like they're burying cable, but we don't know more than that. Of course, we could ask.

Tasha inspects the road in front of one of the big dump trucks.

The daily pattern is this: at about 08h15, a couple of trucks come up the hill and park by the trailers. Sometimes there's a car, sometimes there's a motorcycle. The guys gather in the white trailer for coffee and to don their bright orange construction vests. Then the trucks head back down to the construction site below. Sometimes a truck dumps some gravel, sometimes the tractopelle (backhoe loader) loads some gravel into a truck. At noon, the trucks and the guys come back for their lunch which lasts about an hour before they head back down the hill. At around 17h00, they come back to pack it in for the day and head home.

I lead a fascinating life.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Fruitless plum

This is the ornamental plum tree in our back yard, a variety of fruitless prunus. In addition to beautiful pink blossoms in spring, we get a show of orange and yellow in the fall. The color is a bit past its prime in this photo because I usually don't take the camera out in the rain, and it's been raining a lot lately.

The flowering plum. Some of the cut apple wood is visible on the right.

Even so, we've had some sun in the last two days. I got outside with the chainsaw on Wednesday to cut up those dead branches I mentioned. Now they're cut to size and ready to burn. My next project, besides cleaning up the vegetable garden, is to split some of the apple wood that the garden guy cut up for me. Once the bigger pieces are split, I'll cover the pile for the winter. Next summer it will dry out and, if we're lucky, I may be able to burn it next winter.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Mushroom city

This has been an amazing fall for mushrooms. We had such a dry and hot summer; by contrast, fall has been very wet. Mushrooms are popping up all over. These came up under one of the fir trees in our yard. A few days ago, they looked just like champignons de Paris (white button mushrooms), but I have no idea what they actually are. I wouldn't dare eat a wild mushroom unless it was picked by someone who really knows what he's doing. I certainly don't. A woman in our region died last week from eating the wrong mushrooms. Yikes!

Some of the mushrooms coming up in our yard.

I got a chance to speak to the guys who are using our road for their construction staging area. They're very nice. I asked them if they were going to be able to fill and grade the spot behind our hedge where they've made those deep ruts. They said yes, that's the normal procedure. In fact, they got a start on it Tuesday. So, I feel better about it now.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Tasha Tuesday

Tasha is a fierce defender of the castle. She pays very close attention to the traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, on our little road. There isn't much, but she lets us know when anybody goes by. From the garbage collectors to the mail deliverer to the mayor to anyone strolling by (especially if they have a dog). Here she is in her defense pose, preparing to bark wildly as someone approaches.

A split second after I snapped the shutter, Tasha bolted over to the hedge and barked to defend her territory.

Yesterday I mentioned that the American holiday, Veterans' Day, is always celebrated on a Monday. One of my stalwart readers let me know that I was in error [hangs head in shame]. I should have done better research. However, my error could be forgiven in light of the fact that, during most of the 1970s (which seems to be the limit of my memory), Veterans' Day was indeed celebrated on Mondays under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act voted by Congress in 1968. They changed it back in 1978, but it still floats to Friday or Monday when the 11th falls on a weekend. This year, the 11th actually fell on a Monday, helping to trip me up. Mea culpa.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Armistice Day

Today's holiday in France commemorates the end of World War I. In the US, it's Veterans' Day. The days coincide every so often. It's always on a Monday in the US; it's always on the 11th in France.

This photo is a couple of weeks old. Most of those leaves are gone now.

This will be the last three-day weekend until Christmas. Not that it makes a difference for us, except that holidays are hunt days, so we'll be sure to get our morning walk in before that starts. There will likely be a little ceremony at the town hall as there is every year.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Full-on fall

It certainly feels like fall. The temperatures have dropped, although there's no frost yet. It's been rainy and foggy. And leaves are tumbling everywhere, bright colors giving way to brown. Some of the grape growers have started their annual vine pruning. Seems early to me, but I talked with one of them during the week who said that the gamay leaves are all on the ground, so it's time to get started. I guess the sauvignon leaves hold on longer.

 The maple leaves just off the deck turn orange and gold before dropping into the driveway.

I lit a fire in the wood stove on Saturday and I may do the same today. I've got a few long limbs from a tree that fell against our fence last spring and I want to cut them into burnable lengths. The vegetable garden is still staring at me, longing to be cleaned up, but I want to wait until it's less muddy. During the summer the garden soil felt like concrete; now it looks like a swamp. And there are leaves to rake.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

I don't give a fig

Or, more accurately, I don't get a fig. This is our sorry little fig tree that doesn't produce figs. You may already know the sad story: we planted the fig in 2006, it froze to the ground in 2012, re-sprouted and grew again, and almost every year since, has suffered a spring freeze and lost its leaves. I've tried covering it with garden fabric, but the leaf buds are just too sensitive. I think we got about a half-dozen figs from this tree one year. One. Year.

At least it's pretty in the fall. The tree produces more leaves after the spring buds freeze.

I know that figs grow here. We see beautiful fig trees all over the place. Our mayor two houses away has a good sized fig that produces a lot. Friends a couple of towns over have a very nice tree and always seem to have a surplus of figs which they share with us, and for which we are grateful. So why can't I have my own figs? Maybe I got duped and bought the wrong variety. I don't remember what variety this is or where I bought it, but it was local.

If you're interested, type "figs" in the search box on the upper left of the blog and you can read about our fig experiences.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Let's not forget the hedges

The tree removal is certainly a big change in our yard, but it certainly isn't the first. When we first moved in, back in 2003, two other trees needed to be removed. One was the twin of the tilleul (linden). They stood on either side of the path that connects the house to the back gate. It was sickly (someone told us it had once been struck by lightning) and needed to come down. The other was a Christmas tree planted by the former owners when their granddaughter was a child. It was very tall and not at all well. It had to go.

The freshly trimmed back hedge seen from inside the yard. The logs are what's left of the small apple tree. These hedges used to be twice as high as they are now.

We hired some guy (and his crew) who was canvassing the neighborhood looking for jobs. They cut down the trees and trimmed the hedges. Their cleanup left a lot to be desired. They took away the small tree branches, but left the trunks strewn about the yard. I don't remember why; we didn't have the wood stove back then. They did the hedges for two years before I decided to get my own hedge trimmer and do it myself. That's a whole 'nother story.

The back hedge seen from outside the yard. I can't wait for this construction equipment to go away.

The year that I hurt myself cutting the hedge, I talked to the contractor who regularly trimmed our next-door neighbor's hedge. It always looked very well done and the crew did a great job with the cleanup. They did our hedges for the first time in 2012, if memory serves, and they've been doing them each year since. They do a great job trimming and cleaning up afterwards and, although they don't come cheap, I think their work is worth the fee. Unlike me, they have the savior-faire and all the right tools. And youth.

The tall hedge between our yard and the road. It continues around the far corner, behind the red maples, and along the eastern edge of our property.

A couple of years ago, the boss retired and sold his business to one of his crew. I wondered what the transition would be like, but it was seamless. The new guy is friendly, responsible, and the quality of the work is still excellent. He's the guy, along with his father, who assembled our greenhouse when we got it three years ago.

When the apple tree fell a couple of weeks ago, I had already emailed the contractor and asked about removing a tree (the blue spruce). We hadn't planned to take out the apple, but it volunteered. So, without hesitating, he agreed to take out the apple and the pear, and a second apple, while his crew worked on the hedges. They did it all in one day, something I could never have done.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Trees be gone

Here are a few photos of the aftermath of our tree removal. We had three trees taken out: a big apple that had a rotten trunk and fell down a couple of weeks ago, a smaller apple tree whose days were numbered, and a small years-dead pear. The garden contractors took away the smaller branches and cut up the larger pieces for me to burn in the wood stove.

The new view westward toward the back gate and the vineyards beyond. On the right is one of the two remaining, healthy, apple trees.

I don't miss these trees at all. Some of the apples were good, but there were way too many of them. I had to pick them up several times each summer before I could cut the grass. The did go into the compost, and that was good, but it was a lot of work.

The view looking eastward toward the house. The blue spruce is the shortest of the three fir trees in the photo.

The big apple tree shaded part of the vegetable garden in the spring and fall. Now, with it gone, there will be a lot more light coming through. And the views that have opened up are pretty cool. I figure that if these trees were planted around the time the house was built, they're probably about fifty years old. I read that fifty is the low end of the normal lifespan for a healthy, well-maintained apple tree. So these were not premature deaths.

What's left of the big apple. Doesn't look like much, does it?

There's a fourth tree that will be coming out in a couple of months. It's a tall blue spruce (we think) that is also dying. There are no needles on the lower third of its branches and many fewer than normal on the upper branches. This has been going on for a few years. The tree is too close to the house and is crowding two other trees. It needs to go. In the second photo, you can see the top of the doomed tree between the two tall pointy fir trees (we're keeping those). The spruce is on the left, and the linden is on the right. The linden will have more room to breathe.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Clean up

The hedge guys arrived on Tuesday morning as scheduled. There were four of them. Two started right away on the back hedge while the boss and another guy started cutting up the fallen apple tree. I took some photos in mid-morning, but don't have any more yet. At this stage they were cutting the small branches off for mulching and beginning to cut the larger branches and stacking them for firewood.

These two apples, the big one and the smaller one in the background, are now history.

All the work is done now. In addition to the hedge trimming, we had three trees cut down: the big apple in the photo, the smaller apple (just to the right of the back gate in the photo), and a completely dead pear in the northeast corner of the north 40. The small apple is dying and is filled with mistletoe; the pear has been dead for several years now.

I asked if they could cut the branches to the length that our wood-stove takes: 33 centimeters. No problem, they said, and now I have firewood ready to go (for next year, probably). I also have one or two new chopping blocks for doing the splitting. It's a real relief to have this done, and done so quickly.

What didn't get done is the removal of the tall blue spruce. The contractor said that he'd prefer to do that bigger job this winter, when his schedule will be lighter. That's fine with us. I'll have more photos of the trees firewood soon.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Ruts o' ruck

On Monday the construction crew (who are working down on the main road) took away one of the trailers that they parked outside our back gate. It's the "office" they've been using to have their morning coffee and lunches in. Consequently, there was no other "activity" behind our house yesterday. I'm hoping it's a sign that the construction is over, but the other trailer and the front-loader are still parked out there.

This rut is at least a foot deep. That's our hedge on the left.

This is one of the ruts they've made over the past few weeks during their back-and-forth with the big dump trucks and the front-loader. I'm hoping that they will fill them and re-grade the area before they're done. Hope springs eternal.

In other news, our hedge guy stopped by yesterday to say they're going to start at 08h00 this morning. He said we'd talk about the tree removal when he gets here.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Strange bedfellows

Or maybe I should say "strange vinefellows." One of these things is not grapes. These are some of the vines that grow on the wall of the old, and rarely used, cabane du vigneron (the grower's shed) out in the vineyard. The grapes aren't harvested for wine, but they do get nibbled on.

The grapes that haven't been eaten are beginning to rot. The red berries aren't grapes. Food for the wildlife!

Our wet days are continuing for a while and the temperatures are mild. I'm being attacked at night by a mosquito, or mosquitoes, as if it's summer. It's obviously warm enough for them to breed in all the puddles and other places where water accumulates. We need a good frost to be rid of them.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Amandine aux myrtilles

I found some blueberries in the freezer. They must be a hundred years old. Well, maybe a little less. I don't remember the last time I went blueberry picking... ok, I went and looked it up. July 2016. So these berries have been in the freezer for more than three years. And there are still more.

The recipe worked really well with blueberries. I'm encouraged to do it again.

So I decided to use some of them to make dessert this weekend. I made it with the pear amandine recipe I've made many times, swapping out pears for blueberries. The amandine is a kind of firm custard made with sugar, butter, eggs, and finely ground almonds. That goes into a pre-baked pie crust and the blueberries are sprinkled on top. It bakes for about thirty minutes.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Across the road

This is the view from the deck this week, looking across our road to our neighbors' property. They were here working in the yard last weekend, but took off back to Blois as the weather got worse. The grass was really too wet to cut, but they managed to cut some of it. They're always pruning and trimming and neatening things up. It's a big piece of land; it extends into the woods in back and down to the stream in the ravine. The woods don't need a lot of maintenance, though.

Our part-time neighbors do a good job of keeping their property looking neat and tidy.
Things are a lot greener than they were a couple of months ago.

We're in a holding pattern where our yard is concerned. I'm waiting for the weather to allow the hedge trimmers to do their thing. And the big apple tree is still on the ground. I haven't made progress in the vegetable garden, either, because I don't want to have to stomp around in the mud. But it's time to get things torn up and put away.

We're starting to bring plants inside, which means getting the greenhouse organized to receive them. Some of the potted plants are too water-logged to lift, so that's on hold for the moment as well. A few dry days would help a lot. It's hard to believe I'm saying that after the Saharan summer we had.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Stretch those legs

I caught Tasha stretching her front legs on Thursday. I had the camera out (for something) and there she was in front of the sliding glass doors, so I took a photo. Then she stretched. Got it!

It may look like the sun's out, but that's just the leaves turning gold. It rained most of the day on Thursday.

Bert spent most of the night in the house last night. He sneaked in before I could close his door, so I just let him stay. Around three this morning he meowed, his signal that he's ready to go back out. So I got up and walked him downstairs. His door was open of course, but he likes to be escorted. Tasha spent most of the night on the bed. She uses my back for a pillow.