Thursday, May 19, 2022

Can't do that anymore

This is the Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct built over the Gardon River in Provence. Ken and I visited the monument, which is just outside the city of Nîmes, back in 1989. It was my first time there. Back then, tourists could walk across the top level at their leisure and we did. I don't think I'd do it today. As you can see from the photos, the top level is kind of narrow and has no safety rails whatsoever. Just beneath the top layer of stone is where the water flowed and visitors could also walk through the tunnel that carried it.

The Pont du Gard seen from the left bank of the Gardon. Digitized color slide, 1989.

Sometime after 1989, the top two levels were closed to visitors. You can imagine why. But I read that people can sign up for a guided tour that takes them to the top. The aqueduct is an amazing structure, especially in that it's still standing after more than two thousand years. Almost no mortar was used in its construction, another amazing fact.

Walking on top of the Pont du Gard. Digitized color slide, 1989.

I originally posted these photos on the blog back in 2007 (click on "southwest france trip" in the sidebar and scroll through). I've reworked them and made them bigger for today. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Vaux-le-Vicomte

Some time in the early 1990s, Ken and I visited the château of Vaux-le-Vicomte. We saw the interior rooms that were open to the public and, of course, the gardens. The château and its gardens were the inspiration for much of the château at Versailles. The story is famous: King Louis XIV's finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet, had the elaborate estate built. When it was complete, he held several grand parties, including one in the honor of the king. The king was outraged that one of his ministers had a more opulent palace than he, and he later had Fouquet arrested and confiscated the estate as well as Fouquet's wealth. He then engaged the same architects and designers who built Vaux-le-Vicomte to take over the design and construction of the palace at Versailles. Among them are some of the most famous names of the time: Louis Le Vau, Charles Le Brun, and André Le Nôtre.

The southern façade of the château de Vaux-le-Vicomte near Melun, outside of Paris.
Digitized color slide, early 90s.

Fortunately for us, the château survived the turmoil and the revolution and has been maintained and restored as necessary since. I would like to go back one day as my memories are a little fuzzy. I have a few photos, but not many.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

La Tour Eiffel

The Eiffel Tower is no stranger to this blog. It might be the monument that shows up most often in my posts about Paris. I have not done the research to confirm that. The photo is taken from the top of the Tour Montparnasse. This was before they had installed plexiglass barriers around the rooftop observation platform. I haven't been up there since they did that.

The Eiffel Tower, looking up the avenue de Saxe and the Champ de Mars. The Ecole Militaire and UNESCO headquarters are visible in the center.
Digitized color slide, Paris, early 1990s (I think).

Our current weather is sunny, dry, and almost hot. We're planning some more work in the vegetable garden today in advance of setting out seedlings. It will need to cool off a little before we do that. Yesterday I did a little indoor paint project that I've been putting off for a while. It feels good to have it finally done.



Monday, May 16, 2022

Arc de Triomphe

Here's an old shot of Napoleon Bonaparte's triumphal arch taken, I believe, from up in the Eiffel Tower. It probably dates from the early fall of 1988, but I'm not at all certain. I haven't been up in the tower in decades, the last time being in the early 90s.

L'Arc de Triomphe on the Place de l'Etoile, Paris. Digitized color slide, 1988.

The thunderstorms we were expecting last evening didn't happen, at least not in our area. There were storms to our north and east. I woke up at midnight (when Bert decided to come indoors) and noticed lightning off in that direction, but I heard no thunder. The moon was shining pretty brightly. So, no rain for us.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Our path

This is one of Tasha's favorite paths to walk. It leads to the woods she likes to walk through. She sniffs the ground a lot along this path. It's probably frequented by deer and other wild critters and is therefore much more interesting than the dirt road used by cars and tractors.

A path in the margin between woods and vineyards. I took the photo ten days ago.

Our spell of warm summery weather continues. There may even be a thunderstorm later this evening. We really need rain. The ground is so dry that our lawn is getting its summer brown look already.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Grape buds

The recent spate of warm days has been good for the grape vines. I'm noticing more and more flower buds on the vines as the canes and leaves grow longer and larger. Soon they'll flower (which is almost imperceptible if you don't look closely). Since there wasn't an April freeze this year like there has been in the past few years, the grapes look to be on the fast track. One of the vineyard guys told Ken that there should be a lot of fruit this year.

Flower buds on grape vines look like tiny bunches of grapes. 🍇🍇🍇

Today is market day, which means strawberries. We're going to take a break from asparagus since we still have some in the fridge. I plan to take our recyclables to the recycling center down the road, too. They're overflowing their bins in the garage. A few other projects are on the list for the weekend. We'll see how industrious we feel.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Not my idea.

I wish I had had the idea of taking this photo myself. I saw it on a postcard and only then decided to try my own version. I wonder how many others have done the same thing.

It was my idea to turn the photo into a black and white. Digitized color slide, Paris region, early 90s.

If you don't recognize it, I'm standing under the Grande Arche at La Défense, looking up through a canopy toward the cylindrical glass elevators (one is visible on the left) and the underside of the roof. We rode the elevator up and took in the views from the top of the Arche, which tops out at 100 meters, 37 floors, back in the early 90s..

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Grassy

This is one of the vineyard parcels out behind our house (our house is not visible in this photo). The ground between the vine rows hasn't been plowed, nor has herbicide been applied. Grass and clover and other small plants grow under the vines instead. At some point they'll get mowed.

These are older vines, planted long before we moved here.

Other vineyard parcels out back are dealt with differently, either by plowing up the weeds or by applying herbicide to kill them. I've seen both methods, and other grassy parcels, out there, but it's obvious that herbicides are used less and less. The grower with the largest parcels uses a mix of the three methods. I wonder how they decide what method to use in which parcel.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

More logs

Here's another of the log piles on the Artsy Organized Neighbor's property. I think it's the biggest one, or at least it's the biggest one that we walk by. There are so many logs that the pile takes a turn part way along its length.

That's a lotta logs!

This stretch of summery weather is kind of nice. Shorts and t-shirts. I'm getting the grass cut again, but without any significant rain its growth is slowing down. And there are brown spots already. Ken's getting the garden plot tilled, but it's slow going because the ground is so dry. Running the tiller through our hardened rocky clay soil is almost like tilling concrete.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Tasha Tuesday

It's been a while, eh? I found what I needed to attach Tasha's retractable leash to my waist, freeing up my hands for the camera. This is probably the first outdoor photo of the dog since before her injury back in January.

I'm targeting June for a grooming appointment.

She's doing great. We're taking longer walks now, she doesn't skip steps any more, she's trying to run (fortunately, she can't get far on the leash), and she picks up sticks to play "keep away" with me. Oh, and she still barks at birds flying by. Next week, she goes in for her annual shots. We'll also do a weigh-in and see if she's continued to lose weight. Tasha doesn't like dieting, but it seems to be working.

Monday, May 09, 2022

Log piles

All through winter, we noticed that there was a lot of logging going on. Swaths of forest* are being cut (and will likely be replanted) and the woods on many smaller properties are being thinned out. The logs are cut into meter lengths and stacked in the new clearings where they once grew. Why? Ken heard from a neighbor that it's because companies are paying well for wood to turn into granulés (pellets) for home heating fuel.

Very neatly stacked logs, covered with corrugated steel sheets.

France already has a policy in place that bans the installation of new oil-based heating systems after July 1 of this year. People will need to turn to alternatives like gas, solar, heat pumps and, of course, wood, either whole wood (not really practical in urbanized areas) or processed wood products like pellets. Those of us with existing fuel-oil systems can keep them, but when they reach the end of their useful lives, we will have to choose a new technology.

This is a photo of one of the Artsy Organized Neighbor's log piles. His older, darker logs are visible on the bottom of the stack, and the recently cut, light colored logs are on top. Log piles like this have popped up here and there in the woods around us. One nice thing is that the underbrush in many parcels has been cleared as well, making it easier for us to walk through. Until it grows back, of course.

*Many of the big forests around us are privately owned and managed for wood production, so this is nothing new. It's just that we're seeing more of it than usual.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Warm

The weather is getting nicer by the day. We're promised a very summery week this week. T-shirt weather. I'm planning to grill burgers for lunch today. The vineyard is leafing out and I've seen some flower buds on the vines. It would be nice if work started on the deck this week. Hope springs eternal.

Tasha likes to walk through these woods regularly.

We kind of took Saturday off from yard work. I did go to the market and got some white asparagus, strawberries, and a beautiful bunch of sweet radishes. I also noticed that a new restaurant is opening is Saint-Aignan. I wonder what it will be like.

Saturday, May 07, 2022

That's a billboard, baby

Here's an interesting piece of advertising, or art, on the side of a building near the Montparnasse train station. The only clue I had that it was the former and not the latter is the word "Volvo" at the bottom. Nothing else about the mural tells me it's about the Swedish car manufacturer.

Advertisement mural. Digitized color slide, Paris, late 80s/early 90s.

The weather was pleasant yesterday and I did accomplish my goal of clearing the strip outside our north fence. The woods are slowly winning the war, but I carried the day's battle. I wish whoever owns the land (and no one seems to know who it is) would clean up all the fallen trees and limbs and clear out the undergrowth. It's a mess out there.

We're expecting summer-like weather next week. There is more work to be done.

Friday, May 06, 2022

Almost there

The weather forecast looks good for not having a freeze in the coming week. A week from now is when frost danger normally ends and I'm sure the grape growers are looking forward to that. The vines are leafing out now and a freeze could do serious damage.

Fresh young leaves in the vineyards out back at sunrise Thursday morning.

We're expecting highs around 20ºC (68ºF) over the weekend and perhaps warmer as next week arrives. We will be getting busy in the yard and garden to prepare for planting the seedlings out. My goal for today is to clear out the meter-wide strip outside our north fence, pruning back invading brambles and mowing down growing weeds to prevent them from climbing the fence. This needs to be done several times a year to keep the woods to our north at bay.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Damp day

Wednesday was mostly overcast and rainy, although the sun did make an appearance later in the afternoon. The workers out back spent most of the day plowing up two of the plots that will be replanted. They used a tractor with a plow-like attachment that digs up the vine trunks, then the guys manually gather them up into the piles you see in the picture. I think the parcels will lie fallow for a year or two before the new planting happens.

Spring green on a damp day. The rain will help.

We got an estimate from the plumbing contractor for the work we want done. We're accepting it. We've been trying for months to get a plumber to even call us back with no luck, so now that we've found someone responsive, we don't want to hesitate. He does work for one of our neighbors and she recommended him.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Le pont Alexandre-III

Continuing with old favorites, here's a shot of the Alexandre-III bridge over the Seine in Paris. It links the Esplanade des Invalides on the Left Bank with the Grand Palais and the Champs-Elysées on the Right Bank. The bridge was inaugurated in 1900 for the Universal Exposition that year.

The pont Alexandre-III and the Esplanade and Hôtel des Invalides. Digitized color slide, Paris, late 80s/early 90s.

We woke up to rain this morning. It seems like it hasn't rained in a while, and we need it. I'm hoping it softens the ground a little to make tilling the garden easier. It's just about time to do that now. Frost danger is over, en principe, toward the end of next week. Then it will be time to plant. The seedlings are doing well in the greenhouse.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Pyramid

Here's another old favorite: the glass pyramid at the Louvre. I've posted this photo before in a much smaller format. So here it is again, larger and, I hope, better.

The pyramid entrance to the Louvre by world renown architect I. M. Pei. Digitized color slide, Paris 1988.

The pyramid marks the entrance to the Louvre museum, something that was seriously lacking before its construction. Visitors to the museum had to navigate a parking lot (France's Ministry of Finance used to be located in the building) to get inside. The entrance was neither obvious nor elegant. All of that changed when the Finance folks moved to a new building (by order of then-President François Mitterrand) and the parking lot became a courtyard for pedestrians. 

The Louvre Palace has always been a work in progress. From its early days as a medieval castle (vistors can see the foundations in the museum's lower levels) to its expansion under various kings through the Renaissance, its abandonment as the royal residence with the building of Versailles under Louis XIV, the destruction by fire of the Tuileries wing during the uprising of 1871, and now with improvement and expansion through the modern era, the palace continues to evolve and inspire.

Monday, May 02, 2022

An old favorite

I've posted this photo before, but I've re-worked it a little for today's post. It's a section of the eastern façade of the Louvre palace, constructed in the seventeenth century under King Louis XIV, and the Pavillon de l'horloge, built around the same time. Beyond the Louvre, you can see the obélisque in the Place de la Concorde. Further beyond stretches the Avenue des Champs-Elysées at the top of which is the nineteenth century Arc de Triomphe commissioned by Napoléon Bonaparte. In the background is the La Défense high-rise business district with its very modern Grande Arche, still under construction in this photo.

The Louvre's grand colonnade. Digitized color slide, Paris 1988.

I think I took this photo in 1988 from up on the roof of the Samaritaine department store. There was an outdoor café on the roof, one of the best places for views of the city. Back in 1981-82, it was a real café with waiters. In nice weather, we could (and did) spend hours up there sipping wine and enjoying the views. By the time I took this photo, the café had been transformed to a self-serve kind of place. Same great views, not so much ambiance. Later, the café was closed altogether.

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Wine delivery

This is one of those "right place at the right time" photos. The wine delivery guy is offloading a case for a customer. Visitors to France may be familiar with the Nicolas brand, which was established in 1822. According to Wikipedia, there are more than 500 Nicolas boutiques in the world today, most of them in France and most of those in the Paris region. When I lived in Paris in 1981-82, the small Nicolas shops sold basic and inexpensive wines. Since the 90s, the shops have gone upscale and now they sell a lot of pricey vintages. I haven't been to a Nicolas boutique in a long time.

The vehicle is called "un triporteur." Digitized color slide, early 90s.

And who's that guy walking down the other side of the street? To me, he looks like Gérard Depardieu. It's likely not him, but there's a resemblance. I only noticed him after I had the film developed.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

It's curtains!

These are voilages or what I would call sheers or sheer curtains. They went up pretty easily yesterday. Of course, that was after I took the old ones down, cleaned the rods, washed the windows, and vacuumed the floor. There was a fair amount of furniture moving, too. But the result was worth it.

The deck window. Tasha approves (I think).

I ordered these at a window/wall/floor decorating store up near Blois back on April 5. I got an email on Thursday the 28th informing me that they were ready for pick-up. They had to be custom made as the windows in our house are wider than standard French windows and no ready-made curtains would fit them. I went onto the store's web site for instructions on how to measure the windows for the type of curtain I wanted. I measured several times, recalling the old adage from This Old House, "measure twice, cut once." That, and the fact that custom made curtains are non-returnable. Everything had to be right. I drew up a rendering of the windows with all the measurements indicated and headed up to Blois.

The north-facing window.

The young woman in the store who took my order was very nice, very knowledgeable, and very patient with me. When I saw the fabric that we had decided on from the web site, I didn't really like it, so I picked out another. The sales agent took me through each measurement and made a couple of adjustments here and there to accommodate the hanging style, in my case oeillets (those rings in the curtain).

The old curtains were literally coming apart at the seams. And those rings were a pain to remove and reattach whenever I washed the curtains.

We bought the old curtains at the same store nineteen years ago. Their age was starting to show. Most obvious was the fabric disintegrating where it attached to the rings. The curtains were coming off the rods. Our intention was to get new curtains two years ago, but the stores closed for a while when covid hit. Then inertia took over and we just didn't get it together. Finally, the spirit moved us and now, voilà, voilages!

Friday, April 29, 2022

La glycine

Our wisteria is blooming now. It's not drop-dead gorgeous, probably because I don't prune it enough, but it's pretty nonetheless. We planted it back in 2006, I think. It was about two feet tall then.

Wisteria against the west-facing wall.

I picked up the new curtains for the living room yesterday. The store is up in the southern suburbs of Blois, about a thirty minute drive each way. While there, I went to the nearby fancy produce store and found several goodies, among them snow peas and okra. I also got some nice radishes, some arborio rice (we had risotto for lunch yesterday), and some Italian cheeses. I plan to put the curtains up today and, if I'm successful, get some photos.

Our old rototiller is history. They guy at the garden center said it wasn't worth repairing. So Ken bought a new one and it was delivered a couple of days ago. It's a smaller model than the old tiller, so it should be easier to maneuver it around the garden plot. We may make our first test run today.

The satellite dish problem is fixed, too. The guy that came to have a look noticed right away that the cover protecting the captor was gone. He said that water got inside and ruined it. After about fifteen minutes (and a nice chunk of change) he had installed a new captor our reception is perfect. Win!

I've cut two of the three yard sections over the past couple of days. Today will see the last one done. Until next time.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Tower of power

Here's the last of my mini-series of night shot photos from 1988. It's taken from the Champ de Mars, looking through the base of the Eiffel Tower toward the Palais de Chaillot. Too bad about the construction netting, but stuff happens. Let's pretend that it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the image.

Tour Eiffel by night. Digitized color slide, 1988.

Monuments like this undergo regular maintenance, cleaning/painting, and repair work. Some more frequently than others. One year, Ken and I were walking through the square in front of Notre Dame cathedral. The façade was covered in scaffolding and had been for several years. We overheard another tourist tell her friend, "The one time I come to Paris and it's covered in scaffolding." No matter when you visit Paris, something's going to be covered in scaffolding.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Place de la Concorde

Here's another in my small series of night photos from 1988. This one was taken at the western end of the Tuilieries Garden looking across the Place de la Concorde and includes two iconic Parisian monuments. The first, of course, is the Eiffel Tower in the distance. The second is the obélisque in the center of the place. The 3,300 year-old obélisque, a gift to France from Egypt in 1836, is one of two that stood in the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor.

Light trails of moving cars in the Place de la Concorde. Digitized color slide, October 1988.

The place in modern times is mostly a huge traffic circle at the base of the Avenue des Champs-Elysées on the west, the rue de Rivoli on the east, the rue Royale to the north (which runs up to the church of la Madeleine), and the Pont de la Concorde to the south, crossing the river to the Assemblée Nationale, home of the French parliament.

The place is also known for being the site of numerous executions by guillotine in the years following the French Revolution, most notably those of king Louis XVI and queen Marie Antoinette. Back then it was called Place de la Révolution.

You may have noticed that I over-exposed the obélisque. Back in the olden days, before digital photography, there was no instant gratification, no chance to look at an image to see if it worked. One had to wait until the film was developed to see how things went. I didn't use a light meter and I didn't bracket my shots most of the time. And, of course, I did not take notes to know what the exposure settings on the camera were; I was not that fastidious, at least not in photography.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Saint-Eustache

Construction of the gothic Eglise Saint-Eustache began in the early sixteenth century. It was built on the edge of Paris' central food market, les Halles, which today is a modern shopping and entertainment district and major hub of the city's subway and regional rail systems. The south tower of the church was never finished. I don't know why.

Eglise Saint-Eustache, southern façade. Digitized color slide, October 1988.

This is another of my early attempts at night photography from 1988. I think it worked better than the shot of the Fontaine Saint-Sulpice that I posted last week, but only because of luck. You could call it a shot in the dark, as it were. I can't believe that I lugged a tripod along on that trip.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Le jardin vu du ciel

This view of the Luxembourg Garden in Paris is taken from the top of the Tour Montparnasse, fifty-nine floors above ground level. On the north side of the garden is the Palais du Luxembourg, built by order of Marie de Médicis in the seventeenth century. Since 1799, the palace is home to the French Senate.

Luxembourg Palace and Garden, Paris. Digitized color slide, sometime in the 90s.

In the center of the photo you can see the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. Further north, and a little to the left, you may be able to make out the Hôtel de Ville, Paris City Hall.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Les amoureux au jardin

Another old photo taken in the Luxembourg Garden. I'm not sure when I took it. Late 80s? Early to mid 90s? I guess my organizational skills were lacking when I scanned these. And there is no meta data to consult for old slides and scans. One day I may figure it out, but it is not this day.

Looking east across the garden toward the Boulevard Saint-Michel. Digitized color slide, sometime in the early 90s (est.).

We're having reception problems with our television satellite service. The tuning boxes (we have two) seem to be working and connected to the internet (they download program info from the 'net), but they report no signal from the satellite when we try to watch. The signal just disappeared around mid-day on Saturday. The company reports no problem with the satellite itself, so it must be us. When it gets light, I'm going to have to go outside with binoculars to see if anything is visibly wrong with the dish. Whatever it looks like, we'll have to call for service. On Monday. I can't reach the dish two stories up, and I won't go that high on a ladder.

It's always something.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Un beau jour au jardin

On nice days, Parisians and tourists like to spend time in the Luxembourg Garden. They stroll, they sit in the sun, they sit in the shade, they enjoy an ice cream, they push toy sailboats out into the fountain, and they play tennis. When I lived in the nearby pension de famille in 1981, the woman who ran it, Madame Cornille (which humorously translates to Mrs. Black-eyed Pea), prepared bag lunches on Sundays. I remember many a Sunday sitting in the garden eating mine, usually a ham sandwich on a piece of baguette, a wedge of supermarket cheese like la vache qui rit or Babybel, a piece of fruit (usually a banana or an apple), and a little pot of yogurt.

A place in the sun. Digitized color slide, sometime in the 90s.

This photo is probably from the early or mid 90s. A rather stylishly-dressed woman (not anyone I know) was enjoying reading a magazine in the sunshine. From what I can make out, the magazine is Télérama, a newstand TV and movie guide.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Un gendarme au jardin

I don't know if this is an actual gendarme or a member of some other police or military branch. For today, he's a gendarme. And he's helping us transition from photos of Saint-Sulpice to some more from the Luxembourg Garden. Those are the towers of Saint-Sulpice visible from the garden's central basin and fountain.

A lovely sunny day in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Digitized color slide, sometime in the 90s.

Thursday was another nice day and I got out and cut the grass outside the hedges (along the road). But, like painting the Golden Gate Bridge (or the Forth Bridge if you're British), I need to start again from the beginning as the north forty is growing at a clip. Oh well. Rain is expected over the weekend, so I may just wait.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Fontaine Saint-Sulpice

This is one of my first efforts at night photography dating from 1988. Not my strong point then, not my strong point now. That being said, it is what it is. I'm pretty sure I used a tripod for the shot, if memory serves. The fountain in the square in front of the church of Saint-Sulpice is monumental and, when it's running, the sound of the water is almost deafening.

La fontaine Saint-Sulpice. Digitized color slide, 1988.

As I mentioned before, I walked through this square almost daily to and/or from classes at the Alliance Française. I saw the fountain in all kinds of weather, all kinds of light. It made an indelible impression on my 1981 self. So the photo has sentimental value for me. Here are a few more daylight views from my last visit in 2018.

If you look closely, you can see the top of the Tour Montparnasse lit up in the background. It's just behind the urn on the center left side of the fountain. I don't remember noticing that before now.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Saint-Sulpice en noir et blanc

I'm pretty sure that I took this photo in 1988, the first time that Ken and I returned to Paris after 1982. It's a color slide, but the colors in the scan I found are not particularly good. Still, I think it looks ok in black and white. Until I find and re-scan the original slide (they're stored away in the attic) this will have to do.

The north tower of the église St.-Sulpice in Paris. Digitized color slide (b/w version), est. 1988.

I took the photo looking east along the rue du Vieux Colombier toward the place St.-Sulpice and the church itself. Around nearly every Paris street corner you get unexpected and sometimes breathtaking views.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Eglise Saint-Sulpice

This is the neighborhood that I lived in when I first arrived in Paris in 1981. I had no idea where I was then, but I soon found out how lucky I was to have landed in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter, very close to this church (not to mention the church of St.-Germain-des-Prés). When I walked to school (which took about twenty minutes), my regular route took me through the place in front of St.-Sulpice with its amazing fountain in the center. It's the heart of the sixth arrondissement, full of activity and history (what part of Paris isn't?).

The Church of Saint-Sulpice and its fountain out front, seen from the top of the Tour Montparnasse. In the upper left corner is the old Samaritaine department store, now completely renovated. Digitized color slide, sometime in the 90s.

The program I had signed up with offered students a housing option in a pension de famille (boarding house) in that neighborhood and I, not really wanting to live outside the city or with a family as an au pair, decided that option was for me. The Résidence St.-Germain is now long gone, but I remember my window looking down on a tiny street called la rue des Ciseaux (Scissors Street). The first night I spent there, a balmy early September night, I remember the street below buzzing with the sound of people sitting out on the terrasses of small restaurants. I went out with a few of the other students for a quick drink in a nearby café on the Boulevard St.-Germain. Back at the room, I settled into bed and tuned my little radio until I found some typical French music. I was in Paris! As exhausted as I was from the trip, sleep was far away. I'll never forget that first night.

Monday, April 18, 2022

I'm better

A brief explanation. I had a bad reaction to a new drug my doctor prescribed. The underlying condition isn't serious, but when I mentioned it, the doctor said, "Take this," which I did on Saturday night before bed. And it knocked me for a loop. My body temperature dropped, I felt clammy and overall weakened, and I didn't sleep all night. Ken said I was as pale as a ghost on Sunday morning. The worse thing was that it wrecked havoc with my digestive system. I was worshiping the porcelain goddess, as they say, a few times Sunday morning, among other things. And then there were the hiccups that lasted more than several hours through the afternoon and evening.

Looking upstream on the Seine toward the Sainte-Chapelle and Notre-Dame de Paris. The bridge is the pont de la Concorde.
Digitzed color slide, sometime in the 90s.

I couldn't fathom eating anything yesterday, so Ken enjoyed his Easter dinner all by himself. We'll have it again today. There are plenty of leftovers. Last night I began to feel better and I slept well. This morning I feel completely normal. For me. The whole episode lasted about 24 hours. Needless to say, I did not (and will not) take any more of those pills.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

I'm sick

Not feeling well at all this morning after a bad night. Here's a pretty château just north of Paris.

The Château de Chantilly. Digitized color slide, sometime in the 90s.

I can't yet pin down when I took this photo, but I think it was in the early to mid 1990s.


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Petite Charlotte

The charlotte is a standard in French pastry making and, from what I gather, is popular across Europe. There's actually a special mold in which they're made, not surprisingly called a charlotte mold. In France, the charlotte is often made with lady fingers soaked in a simple syrup that line the inside of the mold. The lined mold is filled with a whipped cream or other cream filling. The charlotte is refrigerated until set, then topped with fresh fruit for serving.

A mini raspberry charlotte, filled with whipped cream.

The charlotte pictured here is a mini, single-serving version made in the bakery where I got the pâté de pâques (yesterday's post). They're made with raspberries and were so pretty I couldn't resist. They tasted as good as they looked.

Friday was a beautiful day and I got out and mowed the north forty. The primroses are all done for this year. If I'm feeling ambitious, I'll do another section of the yard today. I usually wait until after noon to mow because the grass is heavy with dew in the mornings. It needs to dry out before I can cut it.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Pâté de Pâques

Easter pâté is somewhat of a local tradition in central France. I didn't do much research to get the details, but it seems the origin of the dish is not really known. It's basically a pâté en croûte (pâté baked inside a flaky pastry) with whole hard-cooked eggs inside. This version is from a bakery in Saint-Aignan. I think it's unusual in that it's a single serving, and round. Most of what I see is the pastry formed into a long bar with six or more eggs lined up inside, then sliced to serve.

A single-serving pâté de pâques with a pleasing design cut into the pastry.

Ken and I shared this one as an appetizer before yesterday's lunch. I brought two home from the bakery, so we'll have another one today. The pastry itself is excellent, light and flaky. The pâté inside is basic, nothing fancy or highly flavored. And the egg is, well, an egg.

The cross section. Each half makes a good appetizer. A whole one, with a salad along side, would make a good meal.

These pastries show up in the bakeries and delis just before Easter, are available for another week or so after the holiday, then they disappear until next year.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Preparing the garden

The first step in our annual vegetable garden adventure is to plant seeds in March so that seedlings are ready for transplant in mid-May. And so they have been. Most of the tomatoes this year will be Marmande, but there are also some Roma and a couple of Lancelot (those are small cherry-like tomatoes). I've also got zucchini and basil seedlings in the greenhouse.

Tomato seedlings in the greenhouse. They'll get thinned down to one per pot after they get a little bigger.

The second step is to till up the soil and add amendments like compost or other fertilizers as necessary. That will happen in the coming weeks. But first, the tiller needed some attention. The gas cap is broken and the machine lost its ability to reverse. Ken talked to a guy over at a local garden center about repairs. He came by a couple of days ago and picked up the machine and is having a look at it. He's supposed to give us an estimate of what it would cost to get it back into good repair (we've had it since 2004). Then we will make a decision to either repair it or get a new (or used) one.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Home again

We arrived back at our home in San Francisco the first week of June 2001 after our second vacation in the the Loire Valley (and some time in Paris). Waiting for us, of course, was our little sheltie Collette (she had a house sitter while we were gone). This is the back end of our house. It was built on the side of a steep hill so that when you were in the back yard, you were just about two floors above street level.

Collette in our small San Francisco yard. Digitized color slide, Spring 2001.

Below is a shot looking away from the house to a section of the small yard and garden that we put in. I was just getting that apple tree espaliered against the fence when we decided to sell and move to France in 2003. Collette moved with us and got to spend the last few years of her life in the French countryside.

A corner of our back garden in San Francisco. Digitized color slide, Spring 2001.

I have more scanned slides to process and post from other trips, but I'll take a break from that now for more mundane images of seedlings, the back yard and, if I'm lucky, the vineyard. That will involve attaching Tasha's leash to my waist so I can carry a camera. I have a special leash thingy for that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

My favorite season

As far as sports go, my favorite season is pro tennis' clay court season. It runs from April through to the first week in June, culminating at Roland Garros, the French Open Grand Slam. Most of the tournaments are played in Europe, so I get to watch them on television in real time. This week, the guys are playing in Monte Carlo (an ATP Masters 1000 tournament) and the women just finished tournaments in Charleston, USA, and Bogota, Columbia.

Justine Henin prepares to serve at deuce, leading 2-1 in the second set. She eventually lost the match. Digited color slide, Spring 2001.

So, to celebrate the "dirtballers," here's a shot I took at the 2001 French Open women's semi-final on Center Court in Paris. This match was between Belgian compatriots Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters. Clijsters won and went on to face Jennifer Capriati (who we watched defeat Martina Hingis) in the final. Capriati won the championship.

Center Court, officially named Court Philippe Chatrier, has been almost completely rebuilt in recent years and now looks quite different. There's even a retractable roof that allows play to continue in rainy weather.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Les Invalides, again

This is a companion shot to yesterday's photo. After the crowd cleared out, I saw these folks enjoying the sun on the steps of the dôme. I've posted this photo before, but here it is again with a fresh retouching.

Relaxing on the steps of the dôme des Invalides. Digitized color slide, Spring 2001.

We're expecting a warm afternoon with the high temperature approaching 21ºC (almost 70ºF). It's going to feel like summer. Maybe this week I'll get the grass cut again.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Les Invalides

The southernmost portion of the Hôtel des Invalides complex is a desacralized royal chapel: le dôme des Invalides. Adjacent to the north is the Cathédral Saint-Louis-des-Invalides. Under the dome of the royal chapel is the tomb of Napoléon Bonaparte, a popular tourist attraction.

A group of tourists prepares to enter the dôme des Invalides. Digitized color slide, Spring 2001.

I had visited the tomb back in the early 1980s, so I felt no need to go into the church on this trip. I just snapped a few shots outside the entrance.

Saturday, April 09, 2022

How green is my grass

The storm they named Diego (why does every low pressure system need a name?) came and went on Friday. It didn't seem as bad as they predicted, but that might just be because it was a day storm. Like I said, to me night storms seem worse. The past few days of rain have really made the grass grow. And it's so green.

One apple tree is full of blossoms, the other is just leaves. I'm ok with that.

We're expecting some warmer weather after the weekend. This morning it's a chilly 4ºC. When it warms up, the grass will grow even more. Time to mow again. In other news, I have tomato sprouts! And zucchini sprouts, too!

Friday, April 08, 2022

Ouch

This is part of the fence that encloses the small garden at the southwestern corner of the Invalides complex. The garden, constructed in 1980, is formally called le jardin de l'Intendant. It's based on a design from the 17th century that, I assume, was never completed. Wikipedia says that the origin of the name is uncertain. The word intendant refers to a steward or keeper of the finances of an institution or, in France specifically, one who was in charge of the building and maintenance of royal properties. Wikipedia suggests that the garden's original designer may have held that position.

I wouldn't want to get caught on that fence. Digitized color slide, Spring 2001.

We're having another wind storm today. This one is predicted to be windier and wetter than yesterday's. Oh joy. I do not like the wind. The good part is that it's a daytime storm and not an over-nighter. Night time storms give me the willies.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

La tour Montparnasse

I've always liked the idea of this photo, but it didn't come out quite the way I thought it would. And I only took one. I could probably figure out where I was and try to take another (the next time I'm in Paris, lol), but it wouldn't be the same. The building has been changed and is changing again. Maybe it would be better. But, like they say, you can't go back again. Still, I like the ghost-like quality of the tower. It comes through better in black and white.

I also like how you can see people on the rooftop observation deck over the 56th floor.
Digitized color slide (although I took most of the color out in this version), Spring 2001.

The wind is howling this morning as it did through the night. We're having a storm. With rain. And it's my morning to go out with Tasha. It'll be a short walk.

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

A walk in the lower 7th

I think I was wrong yesterday about saying that one of the first things I did when we arrived in Paris was to take a walk over to Invalides. Based on the order of my slides, the first thing we did was to go to the tennis tournament. That must have been a Thursday, giving the women a day off between the semis and the final on Saturday. But let's pretend; I'll show photos of the walk first.

The top of the Eiffel Tower. Digitized color slide, Spring 2001.

Yesterday I drove up to a commercial zone (read: shopping center) just south of Blois. I finally ordered the new curtains for the living room after two years of waiting. We planned to do that in early 2020, then covid hit and we couldn't. Later, inertia set in and we just didn't get it together. But in recent weeks, we looked on line and learned how to take the measurements and we found a sheer that we liked. We decided not to order on line (in fact, the store we chose didn't offer that option) and just go up to the store to see the curtains in real life before ordering. They're non-returnable because they're custom made, so it seemed the prudent thing to do.

Turns out that I didn't like the curtains we saw on line. Too shiny. I found another sample that I liked and, although it was almost twice the price as the original, the store was offering 15% off, so I figured what the heck and went ahead. It's done now and the curtains should be ready in about three weeks. The process was easy and the sales rep was very nice.

I took advantage of being up there to stop at a big produce market for some good stuff. Tomatoes, avocados, broccoli, bok choy, and radishes, among other things. All in all, a successful morning.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

On to Paris

We planned to spend the last few days of our Spring 2001 vacation in Paris. We had tickets on Center Court (Phillipe Chatrier) for the women's semi-finals at Roland Garros (The French Open). The hotel we chose was the Duquesne Eiffel, on the Avenue Duquesne near the Ecole Militaire métro station in the 7th arrondissement. This was the view from our street-side room.

The view from our hotel room. Digitized color slide, Spring 2001.

We were familiar with the neighborhood from past trips. Our friend Cheryl was staying at the Hôtel Muguet on the rue Chevert, a short walk away. Both hotels are close to the southern end of the rue Cler, a market street popular with tourists. Also not far is the Hôtel des Invalides and Napoléon's tomb. One of the first things I did after we arrived was to go out for a walk in that direction.