Sunday, July 31, 2022

Hang a Louie at Saint-Aignan

What plane did this? Ken was coming back from his morning walk with Tasha and I heard him call me from the street. "Look at that!" Two perpendicular contrails seeming to form a sharp left (or is it right?) turn. Airliners are constantly flying high above us as they make their way along the busy north-south corridor over central France, connecting places like London and Paris with cities in southern Europe, the Middle East, north Africa, and beyond. We see their contrails all the time, but this one was quite unusual. So, of course, I ran and got the camera.

Would you like to be a passenger on THAT plane?

The title of the post, "Hang a Louie," is American slang for "turn left."

Saturday, July 30, 2022

But is it art?

This is the Artsy Organized Neighbor's most recent "installation." An old trailer (like the kind they use on construction sites) and an old rusty plow (held up by a tree stump). Who needs the Louvre when you've got this?

There's a little window in the construction "office" trailer.

According to the weather folks, we're in for another heat wave starting today. Our high temperature this afternoon will be between 30 and 33ºC (around 90ºF) depending on which weather report you look at.

Friday, July 29, 2022


This was last Sunday. I had the 24mm lens on the camera, a wider angle than I normally use. The sun had just come up. Tasha and I were making our way back to the house and the rays of sunlight through the clouds looked mildly dramatic.

Clouds in the east last Sunday morning.

We're having a cool day today -- mid 20sC -- but starting tomorrow we're expecting several days over 30ºC. The start of August will be quite summery. This weekend are the famed chassés-croisés, the days that the July vacationers head home while the August vacationers head for the beaches. Traffic is predicted to be bad all weekend. Not a problem for us as we're staying put.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

An attempt

I'm trying to get a photo that shows how abundant the wild carrot (Queen Anne's Lace) is out among the grape vines this year. I'm not having much success, but there are a few that come close. Here's one in which you can see the wild carrot growing up around the vine trunks. It would probably fill in the space between the vine rows, too, except for the fact that the space is mowed (or plowed in places), keeping the wildflowers at bay.

The vineyard parcel outside our back gate at sunrise.

I'll post another photo or two in the coming days.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Workin' on the well

The plants and weeds in and around the real fake well had gotten out of control. The dry weather was also taking its toll. So, on Tuesday I pulled the remaining weeds out. Ken started pulling weeds from inside the well a week or so ago, but more grew after our recent rain spell. The clary sage around the outside of the well was in very bad shape, and grasses and other plants had dug in. So I had to dig them out.

The real fake well seen from the guest room window. You can see how the lawn is scorched.

It took three different shovels to do the job. I filled the wheel barrow up twice before it was done. Ken planted hens and chicks inside the well when he got rid of the first batch of weeds. We hope they'll fill in and block future weeds from taking hold. As for the ring outside the well, I think were done with clary sage. We've been talking about planting day lilies, but since they're rhizomes we probably need to wait until fall when bulbs are available at the garden stores.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Tasha Tuesday

In which Tasha sees a deer. Two of them, actually. When we walked into this clearing, the deer quickly made their way back into the woods. The movement caught Tasha's eye and she took her leash out as far as it would go. Fortunately, she more or less knows that when the leash snaps tight it's time to stop. But she kept up the vigilance for a while.

Tasha keeps her eye on the spot where the deer re-entered the woods.

I finished cutting the grass yesterday in the west forty. First, though, I had to pick up the apples that fell (not far) from the trees. I raked them into little piles and Ken helped me fill the wheelbarrow (twice) so I could dump them into the compost bin. I'm glad that I finished before lunch because it started raining, albeit lightly, shortly after.

Monday, July 25, 2022

When life gives you apples...

...make applesauce! That's just what we did yesterday when Ken brought in a box of apples that he gathered from under one of our trees. We peeled, cored, then cooked the apples with some sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. When it cooled, I put the sauce into containers and into the freezer they went, ready to be used in apple tarts, applesauce cake, and who knows what else later this fall and winter.

One of our two apple trees, seen from the den.

It's still early, so there will be plenty more apples to use as fall approaches. The apples on the other tree are not quite ripe, but when they ripen we should be able to use them for tarts and pies and, of course, more applesauce.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Speaking of grapes...

This is what the grapes are looking like right now in the vineyards out back. They look abundant and plump. It will be interesting to taste this year's wine (we have to wait until next spring for that) and see how it compares to last year's. If we remember. Maybe we should buy a couple of bottles and put them away for a springtime taste test.

Grapes on the vine. There's a wild carrot flower in the upper right.

I cut the grass in the south forty and the strip outside our hedges yesterday. I may get out there today and do the north forty, but there are a dozen or so mole hills that have to be removed first. During the high heat days, moles started digging in a shady part of the yard, near the carport. I'll move the dirt to a low spot in the yard where the hazelnut hedge was removed last fall.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Grape vine tendrils

It wouldn't be summer without 'em. The vines seem to be enjoying our recent heat waves, and I'm sure they liked the rain we just got. The grapes are looking good, too. If this weather continues, it won't be long before the red grapes start to show some color.

Grape vine tendrils.

Friday, July 22, 2022


Here's another wild carrot (Queen Anne's Lace) flower. As I mentioned yesterday, these flowers are amazingly abundant in the vineyards out back this year. I suppose that now that the grape growers are using mechanical methods (mowing, plowing) to control weeds instead of herbicides, the conditions for the plants to thrive have gotten better. Just a guess.

Wild carrot among the grape vines.

We have some of these plants growing in our lawn (along with most every other kind of weed). Most of the time they're not visible because they get cut by the mower. Right now it's been a while since I mowed. The lack of rain and the heat have kept most things in the lawn from growing. But it's time now. The weeds do grow, and our last two rainy days will cause a growth spurt. I'm planning to go out and fill up the gas can this morning. Mowing may start today.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Wild carrot

I've noticed that wild carrot, also known as Queen Anne's Lace, is quite abundant in and around the vineyards this year. I can't offer an explanation, but whatever it may be, the result is pretty.

Some wild carrot flowers are tinged with pink as they begin to open.

We had another thunderstorm yesterday just after mid-day. It wasn't violent at all, but boy did it rain! As they say in France, il tombait des cordes (it was raining so hard that it looked like ropes falling from the sky). Perfectly vertical rain, very heavy. It's pretty rare to see rain like that around here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Rock and roll

Tuesday started out as a very warm day. By mid-day we were over 30ºC (86ºF). I took this photo of the thermometer on our deck at 14h25 (2:25 pm) and we were already at 33.6ºC (92.5ºF). You can see that the relative humidity was pretty low, so it wasn't too uncomfortable.

Hot, but dry and breezy, after lunch.

The wind picked up in the late morning and it blew for the rest of the day. The wind felt good, so at bed time we decided to sleep in the loft. At 01h00 I saw lightning outside and heard low rumbling thunder off in the distance. There were still stars above us. I got up and closed the shutters and windows on the west side of the house in case of rain. Bert the cat came into the house from outside while I was closing up, so I closed him in, too. Then, at some time around 02h00, the storm moved in. Right over us.

The lightning was blinding and thunder shook the house. I counted less than two seconds between lightning flashes and thunder; the strikes were quite close. Bert, who had already jumped onto the bed, sprawled out and went to sleep. Cats! Tasha was clearly scared by the lightning and thunder. She jumped onto the bed as well and curled up between us. Then it started to rain.

The storm moved north and east, the time between lightning and thunder claps started to get longer, and the rain let up. Still, it kept on for a couple of hours. I slept a little, but very lightly. When I got up around 06h00, I could still hear low rumbling thunder in the distance. It continues as I write this.

We're expecting a cooler day today, but the relative humidity this morning is up to 89%. Yuck. Tomorrow is supposed be another day in the mid-30sC.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Arty choke

The morning sun lights up these artichokes in our garden. The plants themselves are beginning to dry out. I think it's early, probably because of the drought and heat.

Artichoke flowers in the Sunday morning sun.

Last night the loft was too hot for sleeping, so we slept downstairs, me on the couch and Ken in the guest room. Tasha was happy to sleep on the cool floor tile. Bert stayed out or in the utility room downstairs all night. At about 01h00, I got up and opened all the windows to let some of the cooling night air in.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Summer flowers

Let's take a break from the dizzying heights of Yosemite. I got it together to take the camera out on my Sunday morning walk with Tasha. I have a big carabiner that I hook to a belt loop and to the dog's retractable leash so I can walk hands-free and take pictures. So I put the 100mm macro lens on the camera and out we went.

Fresh and fading daisies in our yard.

I didn't even get out of the yard for the first photos. This is a close up of the daisy patch. The flowers are already starting to fade away, but most of them still look good. It's high summer here and we're in the middle of a heat wave. You may have seen the stories on the news about the heat and fires in western Europe. Fortunately for us, fire danger is normally low where we live. But nothing is certain when it's hot and we're in the middle of a serious drought. Some fireworks shows in our region were cancelled, but the three around us went on as scheduled, without incident.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Ken on the edge

Taft Point in Yosemite National Park is high. It's about 2,300 meters (about 7,500 feet) above sea level. The views are dramatic, especially when they include humans for scale. And it can be a little scary. Here are two shots of Ken at the edge.

Ken was "far out," but those other people were even farther. Digitized color slide, August 1998.

Watch that first step! Taft Point with El Capitan in the background, Yosemite National Park. Digitized color slide, August 1998.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Happy dog

This is our dog, Collette, who came camping with us in Yosemite back in 1998. We took her on pretty much every camping trip we did between '92 and our move to France in 2003. She loved riding in the car and sleeping in the tent. And hiking long walks.

Collette and Ken, Taft Point, Yosemite. Digitized color slide, August 1998.

I think this photo is from a walk we took to Taft Point. Park visitors could drive up from the valley and park in a lot, then walk to the point itself for the views back over the valley. Collette was always on leash and was well behaved. We brought her to France with us (of course) and she got to see Paris, Normandy, and a lot of the region where we live. She even went to Madrid with us in 2004.

As you can see, Collette was mostly Shetland Sheepdog (like Tasha), but was mixed with some other breed. We adopted her from the Silicon Valley Humane Society in 1992 when she was picked up as a stray. The vet estimated her age as six months, but her origins remain a mystery.

Note: I realized this morning that I had mis-dated the photos in the last two posts. They were taken in 1998, not 1992. I've corrected them.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Yosemite Falls

These are the Upper Yosemite Fall and the Lower Yosemite Fall. If I can trust the file labels I made, the photo is taken from Taft Point on the southern rim, overlooking the valley and the north rim where the falls are. We did some light hiking (from parking lots) to both Glacier and Taft Points that day.

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls and the Merced River Valley. Digitized color slide, August 1998.

I think we were lucky to see these falls (and the others) with so much water in them, especially in August. They weren't flowing at springtime levels, but they were nonetheless impressive.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Vernal and Nevada

There are two waterfalls in this photo. The lower is Vernal Fall and the upper is Nevada Fall. If my photo labels are correct. I think we were up near Glacier Point when I took this picture in 1998. Later, in 2005, my friend Sue and I spent a day hiking the trail that climbs up to both falls. Our goal was to get to the top of Vernal Fall where it spills over the edge. We made it, ate our picnic lunch, then we hiked back down. I posted about it in the early days of this blog, here.

Vernal Fall, lower center, and Nevada Fall, upper right. Digitized color slide, 1998.

It turns out that yesterday may not have been the hottest of our current heat wave. Today they're saying we'll get up to 36ºC (about 98ºF). I had trouble sleeping last night, but not from the heat. Bert stayed out all night. He ambled in close to breakfast time (for him). Night before last, Tasha threw up in her pen, so I took her out and let her sleep on the bed. I think that was because of the heat. Last night I took the door off the pen so she could sleep where she wanted to. She spent most of the night on the cool wooden floor. Smart dog.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Bridalveil Fall

Yosemite National Park contains several famous waterfalls. Among them is Bridalveil Fall on the southern "rim" of the valley near its western end. The fall's name is self-explanatory.

Bridalveil Fall under a half moon, Yosemite National Park. Digitized color slide, August 1998.

Today is expected to be the hottest day of our current heat wave. Thanks to low humidity, the heat is more bearable, respirable as they say in French, than it might otherwise be. Sleeping hasn't been difficult so far. We have a big fan in one of the loft windows to blow out hot air and bring in cooler air during the night. It works pretty well.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

And now for something completely different

Ken was doing some organizing recently and he came across a disk of my slides that he had scanned many moons ago. The photos are from a camping trip to California's Yosemite National Park that we took with our friend Sue back in August 1998.

Yosemite Valley. Digitized color slide, August 1998.

This image is looking east into Yosemite Valley from a view point at the valley's western end. On the left is the top of El Capitan and in the middle left is Half Dome. I'll try to remember (with Ken's help) some of the details of the trip for further posts. I know we had our dog Collette with us because she's in some of the photos. She enjoyed many camping trips in California and Nevada with us back in the '90s.

Monday, July 11, 2022


Granville is a small city on the west coast of the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy. We stopped on our way south and walked around a little, but not very far. The city is built out on a high bluff that juts out into the Channel. In the nineteenth century, Granville became a popular seaside resort.

The north side of the Point du Roc, Granville. Another b/w treatment of a digitized color slide, January 1992.

The high pressure system to our north is starting to shift toward the east. That means that the wind is also shifting. Warmer (hotter) air will be moving in over the next few days, especially as the wind continues to shift to the east and south. There's very little humidity, so that's a plus.

Sunday, July 10, 2022


It's a small fishing port on la Manche (the English Channel) that we found ourselves in for lunch that January day in 1992. We didn't get out of the car, except to take a few photos. We parked down by the outer port and ate what we had brought with us, the car rocking in the wind as waves broke over the jetties. The weather was so cold and blustery that we didn't even think to walk into the center of town.

Port-en-Bessin's waterfront on the Normandy coast. Digitized color slide (b/w version), January 1992.

Compare that with now as we enter another wave of hot and dry weather. It's expected to get up close to 38ºC (100ºF) by mid-week and maybe beyond. Yikes!

Saturday, July 09, 2022

Cap de la Hague

The Hague Lighthouse sits just off the northwest coast of Normandy and the Cotentin Peninusula. According to Wikipedia, the lighthouse was completed in 1837, electrified in 1971, and was operated by keepers until 1989, after which the light was fully automated.

The Cape Hague Lighthouse is 800 meters off shore. Digitized color slide, January 1992.

We had spent the day driving along the Norman coast, stopping for a lunch-in-the-car at the small coastal town of Port-en-Bessin. Then it was on to the Normandy beaches of WWII fame before driving up the Cotentin Peninsula. If I remember correctly, we spent the night on the west coast of the peninsula in a town called Carteret, which also happens to be the name of the county in North Carolina where Ken is from.

Friday, July 08, 2022

Another artichoke

This is the artichoke that grew from seed in our vegetable garden. One of its three flowers had just started to open when I took the picture last week. It's fully open now.

Artichoke flower just beginning to open.

We're bracing for another heat wave. It's supposed to get exceptionally hot and dry as next week gets under way. There are already reports on the news of a big fire (for France) down south. Fires are not unusual this time of year, much like fires in California have become, but this one is reportedly very big, and growing thanks to hot, dry wind. They're calling it un mega feu (a mega fire).

Thursday, July 07, 2022

Artichoke flowers

The artichoke plants in the back yard have started blooming. I'm always amazed at the flowers' vibrant blue/purple color. After a while, the flowers will fade and the plants' seeds will be whisked away on the wind, clinging to white feathery "parachutes."

This artichoke grows along the path in the back yard. A new one has popped up in the vegetable garden.

Last year, one of those seeds actually sprouted in the vegetable garden, so we have a new plant there that's flowering now as well. Artichokes are perennials; we get treated to this show every summer with little or no fuss. I do have to water them during dry spells.

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Apples and oregano

One of our two apple trees produces deep red fruit, but it's kind of mealy and not good for eating. It does make decent applesauce, but I have to be quick because the fruit is quick to rot. The other tree makes harder apples that last longer and are good for making tarts as well as sauce. They're okay to eat raw, too, but not really great. We didn't plant the trees so we don't really know what varieties they are.

Our "mealy apple" tree and the oregano patch.

Between the tree in the photo and the vegetable garden is a patch of oregano. I planted it in the vegetable garden many years ago in an attempt to establish an herb garden. I wasn't very successful, but the oregano escaped the garden and started coming up all over, so I let it grow in this area and harvest the leaves each spring then dehydrate them. The fresh leaves don't have much flavor, but once dried they are terrific. We use them all the time in the kitchen. And during the summer we get a pretty show when the plants flower.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

The daisy patch

It's that time of year again. The daisies are in full flower. We had another patch closer to the house, but I ripped them out one year to plant lavender. I replace the lavender several years ago, too. It got too leggy.

I never got last years dead stems cut down. Oh well, it'll get done this fall. Or next spring.

I got the west forty cut yesterday, finally. The weeds had grown tall, but now they've been cut down to size. I'll have to start again on the other parts of the yard in a couple of days, but first the gas can needs refilling. It's always something.

Monday, July 04, 2022


Our two apple trees are loaded with fruit this year. It's more than I've seen in several years. As the apples mature, they get bigger and heavier. Several of the trees' branches sag under the weight and some, like these, bend all the way to the ground.

Apple branches touching the ground.

After I took the photo, I went out with loppers and pruned the sagging branches back so I could get under the trees with the lawnmower. Then, of course, I had to pick up all the apples that fell to the ground. One of our house guests lent a hand and we made quick work of it.

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Back on the 'net

After a few sputters on Saturday morning, our internet connection stabilized and was still going when we got up this morning. We're hopeful that it will stay that way. We read (in the tv guide of all places) that our service provider recently upgraded their technology with a roll-out on July 1. I wonder if that had anything to do with our outage. We don't use their proprietary modem/router because we have our own. Maybe there was some initial incompatibility.

Nets in Honfleur, Normandy. Digitized color slide, January 1992.

The weather is summery again and we enjoyed yesterday's lunch out on the deck. We plan to do the same today.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Glory be!

We're back! We think. Ken spent a good deal of time on the phone with our service provider. We think they're tinkering with our service to get it back. Not knowing if this will last or not, I'm just going to toss up a photo. It's another from Honfleur in Normandy. The town's quiet back streets in January, which means no summer crowds.

Honfleur, Normandy. Digitized color slide, January 1992.

Now, I'd better go check my email and catch up on the news in case this new connection craps out again. It's true that the internet has become a significant portion of our lives for news, information, and communication. Read a book? How medieval! LOL

Friday, July 01, 2022

Off line

Our internet connection has gone completely, so I'm off line. Can't do email, can't blog (I'm using a friend's connection to post this), can't check the weather, can't read the news, don't know what Donald Trump is up to (maybe that's a good thing).

We're working to figure out what's wrong and how to fix it. By we, I mean Ken.

Wish us luck. Hope to be back soon.