Wednesday, January 31, 2024


As I mentioned yesterday, if you go south from Bonnieux, through the Luberon mountain range, you come to the village of Lourmarin on the other side. The village sits between the mountain and the Durance River below. Needless to say, picturesque Lourmarin is a popular tourist destination.

Lourmarin between the Durance valley and the Luberon mountains. Digitized color slide, September 2001.

We stopped in town for a quick walk around the center and a few photos. I think we sat in a café for a drink, but we didn't do much else as we were on our way to other places.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024


I'm pretty sure that this is Bonnieux, one of the famous villages perchés in the Luberon region of Provence. It's at the north end of one of the few roads through the mountains, connecting Bonnieux to Lourmarin and Lauris in the Durance valley to the south.

Bonnieux, Provence. Digitized color slide, September 2001.

Yesterday, I received my ballot for California's primary election in March. As as an overseas American citizen, I'm eligible to vote in the last US jurisdiction I lived in. In my case, that's in San Francisco, so I can vote in local, statewide, and federal elections in that district.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Another wrought iron belfry

This one is, I believe, in the village of Lacoste. The town is perched on a hilltop between Ménerbes and Bonnieux on the northern flanks of the Luberon Mountain. Lacoste's château is famous (or perhaps infamous) as the former residence of the Marquis de Sade. Today the largely restored village is home to a campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Belfry atop the campanile in Lacoste, Provence. Digitized color slide, September 2001.

The days are getting longer and it's noticeable. I'm happy about that. Our mornings are still cold (but above freezing) and the afternoons can feel quite pleasant if it's not windy or raining. The ground is still too wet to do much yard work, but that will change. I hope.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Silent Sunday

Somewhere in the Luberon, Provence, September 2001.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

At the meeting of the lines

I realize that these lines don't meet. They're rows of grape vines in the vineyards below one of the villages perchés in Provence. I'm sure that there's a very logical explanation for why the vineyard is laid out like this. Drainage. Access. Because they've always done it this way. Whatever the reason, I thought it made for an interesting photo.

Grape vines, Provence. Digitized color slide, September 2001.

Our warm spell feels like it's over. We're at 2.5ºC this morning. And it's my turn to walk Tasha.

Friday, January 26, 2024


Marianne is a symbol of the French Republic. She's the personification of many virtues, most notably the French revolutionary ideals of liberté, égalité, fraternité (freedom, equality, brotherhood). Her image (which changes from time to time) can be found on certain French coins, postage stamps, and official documents. Statues and busts of Marianne are common, particularly in government facilities. According to Wikipedia, the figures were modeled after famous French women starting in 1969.  Among them, Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve.

Marianne in Provence. Digitized color slide, September 2001.

I saw this bust in Provence in 2001, probably in the village of Ménerbes. The inscription carved below the bust is "R F" (for République Française). I don't remember if it stood outside the village hall or elsewhere in town.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Door within a door

I liked the shadows on this (these) doors. And the weathered paint. Windows and doors frequently make for interesting photos.

I wonder where it leads. Digitized color slide, Provence, September 2001.

I'm getting itchy for spring now. We passed the one third mark for winter this week. Only two months until the vernal equinox. I'm even looking forward to spring cleaning, both indoors and out. For example, the windows desperately need washing and the yard is littered with fallen sticks and branches (we've had a lot of windy storms this winter). It's too early to get started, but I'm making mental lists.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Down in the valley

They grow grapes in the Luberon and make wine. The wine, according to one web site about the region, is made from blends of syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, cinsault, and carignan grapes (and a few others). They make red, rosé, and white wines. We've had some in the past, especially while we stayed there. I'll have to look around our stores here and pick up a bottle or two (if I can find any) just to taste it again.

Grapes growing in the Luberon region of Provence. Digitized color slide, September 2001.

The wind blew through the night again, but it seems to be dying down again. The big news is that it's 12ºC (almost 54ºF) outside this morning. Pretty mild for January.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Maybe Ménerbes

This image is among several that I figured out were shot in the village of Ménerbes, so it's likely that's where it was taken, too. The hilltop towns in the Luberon area are picturesque, one after the other, to the point where they start looking alike. At least in my memories of them.

Ménerbes, I believe, in Provence. Digitized color slide, September 2001.

After Englishman Peter Mayle's novel, A Year in Provence, became a best seller in 1989 and a television series in 1993, international tourism in the region picked up and many of the hilltop towns got a facelift, buildings were restored or renovated, and hotels and holiday homes opened in and around the old villages. Ken and I spent a couple of weeks in the Luberon (in a town called Mérindol) in 1993 ourselves. The photos I'm posting right now come from our second stay in the area (in Cavaillon) back in 2001.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Ring my bell

Bell towers like this one are common sights in Provence. The reason? The wind, according to my extensive quick and easy internet research. The mistral can blow with serious force, and a wrought iron bell "cage" offers less resistance than a masonry tower.

Wrought-iron bell tower. Ménerbes, Provence. Digitized color slide, September 2001.

This one is in Ménerbes, one of the villages perchés (hill towns) on the north side of the Luberon. From what I can find on line, it's not part of a church, but appears to be adjacent to one of the town's gates.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

A taste of Provence

This is going to be challenging. I'm realizing that I don't recognize many of the places I photographed on this trip. Some are easy, others not so much. Like this one. I know we were staying in the valley just north of the Luberon Mountain. There are many hilltop towns in that area; some I will remember, others I won't. If any of my readers recognize a place that I don't, or that I mis-identify, I'd be grateful for your help.

Here's the first place I don't recognize, with another in the distance. Digitized color slide, Provence, September 2001.

We rented a house in a town called Cavaillon on the Durance River, not far from Avignon. I know we visited Oppède, Ménerbes, Lacoste, Bonnieux, and Gordes. Also Lourmarain and Lauris to the south. Roussillon was in there, too, but that one should be easy to identify from the distinctive red/orange color of the rock in that area. There are, no doubt, others.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Swan River

Well, that other word was taken. And besides, it really is a river, une rivière in French. After a run of just under 300 kilometers, the Yonne empties into the Seine not far upstream from Fontainbleau, south and a little east of Paris.

A swan is "un cygne" in French. Digitized color slide, Auxerre, September 2001.

Still wintry here, but with no precipitation. This morning it's -3ºC at the house, probably a little colder out in the vineyard.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Passerelle de la Liberté

During our walk along the river in Auxerre, we crossed this bridge to get a better view of the sights. That's Ken waving at me from above, and next to him is our friend, Sue. We only stayed in Auxerre one night. It was a good stopping off point on our trip down to Provence, not too far to drive after our eleven hour flight from San Francisco to Paris.

When you don't like the color in a slide, make it black & white! Auxerre, September 2001.

We're below zero this morning, as predicted. After the rain we had on Wednesday, wet spots will more than likely be frozen. Neither one of us has to go anywhere and we have plenty of provisions for a few days. One of us might head out to the bakery for some bread today or tomorrow. We'll see.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Two churches in Auxerre

The first photo below is the abbey church of Saint-Germain d'Auxerre. Not far away is Auxerre's cathedral of Saint-Etienne (second photo below). Both churches are built on a bluff over the Yonne River in the central part of the city. We didn't really get close to either building let alone walk around them. I have no photos of that if we did. These photos were taken from down on the riverfront.

Those black dots in the sky are birds, not dust. Abbey Church of Saint-Germain d'Auxerre. Digitized color slide, September 2001.

I'm kind of disappointed in the quality of some of these photos. I'm sure I was using a Canon SLR and the film was Kodac Ektachrome. The colors are not very vivid. In fact, they're kind of muted in many of the shots; others, not so much. It could just be my evolving photography "skills." There's also a lot of dust on the slides (I don't know why because they're boxed) and even after brushing and using an air ball to blow it away, much dust remains. I try to eliminate it with software, but not always successfully.

Cathedral of Saint-Etienne d'Auxerre. Those black dots in the sky are dust. Digitized color slide, September 2001.

The weather is doing its thing. We had a mild day yesterday, but the cold is coming back today and we're expecting below-freezing temperatures through the weekend. It is winter, after all.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024


Once through immigration and baggage claim, we picked up our rental car and headed south. We planned to stop for the first night in the city of Auxerre on the Yonne River, about a two and a half hour drive. After settling in to our hotel, we took a walk down to the river. The weather was good and the views of the city rising above the river are pretty.

Boats on the Yonne at Auxerre. Digitized color slide, Setpember 2001.

I got my covid booster with no problem yesterday. It's been almost twenty-four hours now and I have no discomfort or any other signs of side effects. I hope it stays that way.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Set the WABAC machine

It's fall 2001. September 7, 2001, to be exact. Little did we know what would happen just a few days later. But on this day, we were filled with excited anticipation and on our way to France. We flew on a United Airlines Boeing 777 and, as I frequently do, I took a photo of the plane at the gate. I remember the Triple Seven being a relatively new airliner back then. It was comfortable and very nice, if memory serves.

Very bad photo of our plane at the gate, San Francisco International Airport. Digitized color slide, September 2001.

It's been a while since I've been on a Triple Seven. My last trip to the US was aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, both ways. It's even more comfortable than the 777, in my humble opinion.

Monday, January 15, 2024


Just over a week ago the landscapers came by to do their annual magic on the hedges that surround most of our property. They took two half-days (in other words, one full day) to do it all, including the clean up. The hedges always look so neat and clean when they're done. All the corners are sharp. Later, in spring, they'll start to put out new leaves again.

I tried for years to get the guys to put a point on that cylindrical bay laurel in the back corner, but they kept giving it a flat-top. Oh well, there are worse things.

We're still in our cold snap, but things should warm up by Tuesday or Wednesday. I'm getting a covid booster tomorrow. It'll be the fourth shot since all this covid stuff started.

I can't find the photos I took in Paris back in 2002, dammit. They weren't where I thought they'd be. I'll keep looking. In the meantime, I found two trays of slides from our trip to Provence in September of 2001 that I want to scan. I'll post some of those starting real soon.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Place de l'Hôtel de Ville

I'm still recycling older photos for lack of anything new. Ken suggests that I go back to scanning slides for some new material; a good winter project, indeed. My first thought is to scan photos of our last vacation in Paris before we moved. That would be spring of 2002. But first, I have to crawl into the closet in the loft and find the box of slides. Then scan and prepare the images for posting with photo software. This may take a few days.

Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, Paris, April 2009.

This is the large public space in front of Paris' City Hall and that's City Hall itself on the right. The building with the dome is a department store called le Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville, a fun place to wander around in.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Cour Napoléon

This is the view west from the Cour Napoléon toward the Tuileries, Concorde, and the Champs-Elysées beyond. I took this photo back in 2018 when friends of mine were in Paris for a couple of days before embarking on a tour through Normandy.

Pyramide du Louvre, Paris, April 2018.

Most obvious is the Pyramide, the museum's "new" main entrance, opened in 1989. Prior to the pyramid's construction, this space was a parking lot for employees of the Ministry of Finance. President François Mitterrand relocated the ministry, expanded the museum space, and called for a new and modern entrance to the "Grand Louvre."

Friday, January 12, 2024

Le Louvre

Here's a re-worked photo of the Louvre Museum in Paris taken from the Tuileries garden in 2009. The part of the building that you see on the left is the Pavillon Marsan. These days, the view is very different; a giant Ferris wheel sits on this spot.

Pavillon de Marsan, Musée du Louvre, Paris, April 2009.

This morning we're down to -2.8ºC outside, so far. It's probably the lowest temperature we've had in the current cold spell. We got our heating fuel delivery on Wednesday, but it was not without stress. Our delivery window (07h00 to 13h00) came and went. I called after that and the customer service rep told me they were experiencing many delays (beaucoup de retards) but that they'd be here soon. Just as I gave up hope at 17h00, the truck rolled up. The driver seemed frazzled, but was otherwise in good spirits. I'm sure the cold spell has people scrambling to get more fuel oil and the company is scrambling to accommodate them. All's well that ends warm.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

From one arch to another

This is the La Défense business district just outside Paris and the Grande Arche, arguably the centerpiece of the complex. I was standing on the observation platform atop the Arc de Triomphe, just under five kilometers* (about three miles) away. Ah, the wonders of a zoom lens.

Those little dots along the top edge of the arche are people. La Grande Arche de la Défense, Paris, April 2009.

The arch is essentially two forty-or-so story office buildings connected at their tops. Visitors can take the glass elevators (visible inside the arch) up to an outdoor observation deck and exhibit space. Ken and I did that back in the eighties. Since this photo dates from 2009, that building under construction on the right is most certainly completed by now.

Why is one called un arc and the other called une arche? I dunno.

*As measured on Google Maps.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024


I know I posted this photo back in 2016, but what the heck. I'm not getting any new shots while it's this cold and dark outside. This is downtown Albany, NY, the state capital. You can see the red-roofed capitol building at the top of the hill and the green-roofed Alfred E. Smith state office building tower rising behind it.

State Street at Broadway, Albany, NY, May 2016.

Today we're expecting a delivery of home heating fuel, fioul in French. Our delivery window is between 07h00 and 13h00. It doesn't get light until about 08h30, so I'm hoping the truck doesn't show up before then. Once the fuel is pumped into the tank, it needs to settle for about an hour before we can turn the boiler back on. I hope to get a fire going in the wood stove by then.

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

Saint Mary's Church

For no particular reason, here's a shot of the church of Saint Mary's in Albany, New York. The Italianesque revival building was completed in the late nineteenth century.

The blossoms of spring and Saint Mary's Catholic church, Albany, NY, May 2016.

This shot is from 2016 during my last trip home (except for the short trip in 2020 for a funeral). I remember several days of beautiful spring weather during that trip. I've never been inside this church, but I'll try to see it the next time I'm in Albany. Who knows when that will be?

Monday, January 08, 2024

Galette de rois, 2023

I used the DSLR yesterday to get a better photo of this year's galette des rois, the traditional tart for celebrating the Epiphany (les rois in this case refers to the three wise men, kings of Orient). I used the smartphone for the first round of pictures, but I didn't like the results at all. This one is okay.

Galette des rois et sa fève.

The fève this year is a ceramic duck (looks like a mallard to me) that came in either a bakery or supermarket tart many years ago, before I started making my own. Naturally I saved the little trinkets and now use them in my tarts. The tradition says that whomever gets the hidden fève in their slice is king for the day and gets to wear the cardboard crown that comes with the tart. This year, Ken got the honor. But the only crowns in this house are shaped like teeth.

Sunday, January 07, 2024

Two years ago

It's already been two years since Tasha tore a knee ligament in one of her back legs. She had surgery to replace the ligament and needed to be confined (with short, leashed walks) for several months. Local friends lent us a corral and Tasha took to it right away. We ended up getting two corrals of our own; one for the living room and one for the loft upstairs. Tasha wasn't allowed to run, especially on slippery floors, until the leg healed.

Tasha in doggy jail wearing the cone of shame, January 2022.

Early on in her recovery, while she still had stitches, Tasha needed to wear the "cone of shame" to keep her from pulling out the stitches and licking her scar. She hated the cone and pulled it off a few times, but she got through it and didn't have to wear it for too long.

So now it's been two years and it's almost like nothing happened. She's been going leash-less on daily walks for a while now and enjoys chasing birds in the vineyard. We use a panel from one of the corrals to keep her from flying down the main stairs (and possibly slip) when cars and pedestrians go by, but that's pretty much the only remaining restriction she has. She goes up and down those stairs normally otherwise, with us both reminding her to "go slow." She won't climb the steep stairs to loft, though. I think that she thinks she's not allowed to since it was blocked off for months during her recovery. I still carry her up at bed time and down each morning.

Saturday, January 06, 2024

A few steps back

To get an idea of how high above Paris the church of Sacré-Cœur sits, you have to put a little distance between you. One of the best places to do this is the top of the Arc de Triomphe, just under four kilometers to the west, as the crow flies. If you don't have wings, you'll have to walk. Or take the métro.

Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre seen from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, April 2009.

The landscape guys did come back yesterday and finished the hedge trimming. The hedges always look terrific when they're done. I'll get some photos soon. Morning low temperatures are getting lower, heading for negative territory by Monday. It's going to feel very different from the mild weather we've had up to now.

Friday, January 05, 2024

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre

This church, built on the Butte Montmartre, is probably among the most recognized and most visited of Paris monuments. I've been inside (many moons ago) but I've never climbed up to the dome. But you don't have to for good views. The plaza and stairs out front offer pretty good, and free, views of the city below without the climb.

Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre, Paris, April 2009.

Our weather is cooling down again. If the forecasters are correct, we should see some negative temperatures next week. Oh! And the landscape guys showed up yesterday afternoon and started the hedge trimming. I assume (always dangerous) that they'll be back this morning to finish the job.

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Rouen Cathedral

This Saturday is the Twelfth Day of Christmas. I'm sure we won't see (or hear) twelve drummers drumming, but we will see a galette des rois, a special kind of tart made with pâte feuilletée (puff pastry) and filled with frangipane (almond paste) that's customary this time of year. I've been making galettes nearly every year for a while. I got into making my own because the ones from the supermarket aren't very good and the ones from a bakery cost way too much.

From the archives: inside the cathedral at Rouen, Normandy. Digitized color slide; not sure of the date.

They're not difficult to make, but it does take time to roll and fold the dough into a good puff pastry. Buying ready-made puff pastry does make it all easier, but it's not as satisfying as doing the thing myself. So I do.

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Musée d'Orsay

Here's an oldie but goodie from the archives. I took this way back in the early '90s during my one and only visit ever to the Orsay Museum in Paris. It had just opened in 1986. The impressionist art is fantastic, of course, but I was more interested in the building, originally built as a railroad station. I last posted this photo here in 2018.

Main hall, musée d'Orsay. Digitized color slide, 1992 (I think).

The wind has been wild all night and is expected to continue blowing through the morning. I'll be glad when this storm blows on through. I'll see how far out into the vineyard I can get with Tasha before turning back.

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

The other view

Here's the view of the dining area from the living area. Can you tell I have no new photos to post? Ken and I painted the walls in a sage green the year after we moved in. That was a big job and one that I can't fathom doing now. A few years later, we painted the beige kitchen in a bright mustard yellow. The hall and stairwell, which were originally covered in wallpaper, got painted white in 2010, the year we finished the attic/loft.


The holiday tree is gone now; it and the other decorations are packed away for another year. I still have lights on the outside of the house, but I won't get those in until the weather improves. We're having a little storm, it seems, with lots of wind and some rain.

Monday, January 01, 2024

Bonne Année !

Happy New Year!