Sunday, June 30, 2024

Burger buns, sort of

These didn't rise quite the way I wanted them to, but they were delicious. And they held together when we sliced them and made barbecue (slow-cooked pulled turkey) and slaw sandwiches. Ken makes a kind of mock cole slaw with chopped iceberg lettuce (in the place of cabbage) dressed in a tangy sauce. Along side we ate black-eye peas with mixed vegetables.

Blurry photo of hamburger buns.

Next time, I'm going to try using my pizza dough recipe to make buns. That should be interesting.

The storms and rain predicted for overnight kind of fizzled. It's raining gently this morning, but we were spared the predicted deluge. Other regions weren't so lucky. Roof-wise, it's so far, so good. The external leaks we had (holes in the gutters) seem to be gone. In one spot, the patch is temporary. We'll probably ask the roofer for the permanent fix (replacing a section of gutter) in the fall.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

I don't give a fig

This is our famous fig tree this year. It's bigger than it's ever been. It's full of figs. Or rocks posing as figs. They hard as concrete. Maybe the title of this post should be, "I don't get a fig."


It took me about two hours yesterday to cut all the grass (and that included stopping to cut blackberry vines out of the hedge. They attacked me as I mowed close to them). Sure, there's edge work to be done with the smaller mower, but that's not urgent. Most of the yard is neatly cut. We're still expecting rain over night.

Friday, June 28, 2024


I'm out of fresh photos. I don't feel the need to show more of the roof work. Between Ken's blog and mine, I think we've done it all. That said, here's a close up of one of the two garage windows with it's freshly painted sill. Now I've got to wash those windows. Ken washed the garage door yesterday and it looks great.

Garage window.

The weekend is still expected to be a wet one, so we're waiting to see if this roof job fixed our leak problems. Fingers crossed.

My plan for the day: get the grass cut before it rains.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

All is calm

The roof work is done now. The guys spent about two hours on Wednesday morning putting on the finishing touches and cleaning up. Now we wait for rain. Storms and rain are predicted as we move into the weekend. So, we shall see.

The garage window sills and the underside of the deck are looking pretty spiffy now!

Today's errands include a stop at the vet's office to pick up an order of dental chews and a supply of flea & tick medicine for Tasha. Then I'll likely make quick stops at the recycle center and the grocery store with a final stop at the filling station (do people say that any more?) for gas for the lawnmower. Then I'd like to cut the grass before the rain moves in.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Almost done

Here's some of the roof work in progress. You can see one of the two dormer valleys with it's new metal flashing. The tiles are back on now (but not in this photo). You can also see the underside of the deck. In this shot, it's been power washed, but not yet prepared for paint. That is actually done now. The work should wrap up today. I will post "after" photos soon.

Tasha's on the deck supervising the roofing crew. The yellow spots are made by the sun shining through a leafy tree.

Meanwhile, the heat is holding, but not for long. I think a cool-down is expected for the weekend. Boy, were we lucky!

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Tasha Tuesday

Of course I took a couple of pictures of Tasha when we walked along the river in Montrichard last week. This one shows how happy she was to be out in a new place with new smells. She looks happy to me, anyway. You can see central Montrichard in the background.

A walk on the right bank of the Cher.

Well, glory be! The roofers showed up right on time yesterday morning. Once they started working, they realized that they needed a tool that they didn't bring. So one of them had to go to the hardware store while the other two waited. Not a great start. But, they eventually got under way. The valleys over the chien-assis (sitting dog, also dormer window) are rebuilt. Today the roof tiles will go back up. The underside of the deck has been power-washed. Today a filler and sealer will be applied before the first of two paint coats. I guess the final job will be to clean out and re-seal the rain gutters. This morning the guys are planning to show up around 08h00 to get a jump on the afternoon heat. Yeah, it's hot! And, more importantly, dry.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Will he or won't he?

This morning we're expecting the roofing contractor to start work. We have no confirmation of this. We think that's the way we left it last week. So, we shall see. I moved the flower pots out of the kitchen window boxes yesterday. They were just below where the work will be done. One of us will take the car out of the driveway and park it on the road in case we need it while the contractor is working. Then we just wait.

Another view of the dam, lock, and old mill in Montrichard.

Remember those baby grapes I posted about a while back? Well, now I see that they were just the flower buds getting ready to open. They've been open for a while now and grapes are beginning to form. These next few days of sunny and warm (yay!) weather should make them happy.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Dam it

This is one of many small dams on the Cher River. It's just down stream from central Montrichard. Tasha and I walked by last week while Ken was at a doctor appointment. The building is, I believe, an old mill that used the force of the channeled river for power, very similar to the old mill dam at Saint Aignan up river. And, like at St.-Aignan, there is a lock to allow water craft through.

I believe it's called le Moulin des Îles de la Motte. At least that's what is says on the map. The lock is in the foreground.

The sun is shining this morning. We're having a very welcome break in the rain. Flooding has been a problem all over the country, along with crop and property damaging hail (none here, thankfully). We're keeping our fingers crossed that our roof work can get done before the rain comes back.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Les pommes

Our apple trees are laden with fruit this year. Last year we had virtually none. I wonder if it's related to the weather. This past winter was warm and wet. Whatever the reason, it looks like we're in for a bumper crop. The pain is that the bigger apples have to be gathered off the ground before mowing. And the more of them that there are, the more of a pain it is. Unless... maybe the new riding mower can just make applesauce from the fallen apples.

Little apples in the back yard. They'll get bigger.

Yesterday was a wet day. And that's an understatement. We got hammered. Rain came down in buckets through the morning, one of the hardest rainstorms we've had in recent memory. Maybe ever. The rain continued into mid-day and then slacked off. A good thing, because our roofer came by then to do the measuring for the repairs he's starting next week. The forecast is good. If it's correct, we should have sunny and dry weather for the next four or five days. And won't that be nice.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Light at the end of the tunnel

Here's a shot of that strip I cleared out last week beyond our north side fence. To the right of the fence in this view is the west forty section of the back yard. To the left is outside. That's where I hacked the path that you can see. In a couple spots, it's more like a tunnel.

There's still some cleaning up to do, but the worst is done.

We heard from the roofer yesterday. He's coming by this afternoon to take more measurements for the replacement of the dormer valleys. Then he will choose a day that looks good weather-wise to do the work. He said it'll take one full day to get it done. After that, he's going to repair the gutters on the rest of the house. That's another job. And lastly, he gave us an estimate for repainting the underside of our deck. It hasn't been done in well over twenty years and is a serious mess of cracks and peeling paint. It will be nice to have that finally done.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

A short walk

Tasha and I drove Ken to his ophthalmologist appointment yesterday afternoon. While he was with the doctor, we took a short walk down to the river (le Cher) just outside of central Montrichard. We continued a little along a bike/hike path to a small dam on the river, then turned around and headed back. I'm still trying to master the "selfie" without looking like a dork. Not squinting would help. I need more practice.

Yours truly at Montrichard-sur-Cher.

We've accepted an estimate on the roof work and put down some money. Now we wait. The contractor promised it wouldn't be for long, since we have a little "emergency." We're still having periodic rain showers and the roof is still leaking. We don't quite need buckets on the floor (yet), but there's visible water damage on the drywall below the leak.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Threatening skies

And they did follow through with the threat. This image, from the guest room window, was taken yesterday morning. By nightfall, it was raining again, and it seems to have rained steadily through the night. Early this morning there was some distant thunder, but nothing like yesterday morning. It's still raining as I type this (07h15).

This sky was trailing the thunderstorm we had on Tuesday morning.

The forecast for the week is more rain every day, but with quantities diminishing. We are having a few roof problems (again!) and we had a guy in to give us an estimate on repairs. The worst problem has to do with the roof valleys on either side of the dormer window in the loft, the same problem we've been having off and on for twenty years. They probably need to be reconstructed. Ka-ching!

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Thunder boomer

We woke up this morning to the muffled sound of thunder rumbling in the distance. It didn't stay muffled or distant for long. Radar showed the center of the storm right over us around 05h00. Rain started to pour down. The garbage collectors were right outside, sitting the squall out in their truck. The sky was lit by multiple lighting strikes as thunder boomed all around us. The storm lasted about thirty minutes as it rolled off toward the northeast. As they do.

The phone camera didn't know where to focus. Or, more likely, I don't know how to tell it where to focus.

The photo above is a little blurry, but it shows the kind of blackberry brambles that live among the hedges and woods around us, the kind I recently hacked through to clear a path behind our fence. This one is growing out of our compost pile. Look at those thorns! Like sharks' teeth, they are. There are bigger ones than these, I dare say.

I discovered yesterday morning that I've lost my prescription form. Now I have to go to the pharmacy and ask them to spot me some pills while I get a duplicate Rx from my doctor. They've done that before; we've been loyal customers for over twenty years. Still, what a pain. It's always something.

Monday, June 17, 2024


It rained off and on yesterday evening and into the night. Our forecast still includes a warm up as the week goes on, but there's rain (and T-storms!) predicted through Thursday. Sigh.

Grass growing in a fallow vineyard parcel. I need some new photos.

It's my morning to walk Tasha and, at the moment (06h30), it's not raining. I'd better get out and back while I can.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Cold, wet, dark, and miserable

The weather is cold, wet, and dark, and it's making us miserable. On the bright side... oh, wait. There is no bright side. I can't even do yucky chores like window washing because it's too cold and windy to open the windows. I guess it's good that it's dark. The dirt is less visible that way.

A little bit of blue sky from last week.

The weather gurus are predicting a warm up over the next week. With lots of rain. But we'll take it. Fun fact: in French, a low pressure weather system is called une dépression. Yeah, that sounds about right.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Saturday again

The rain that was predicted for Friday turned out to be less than expected. In fact, most of the afternoon was kind of sunny. And very blustery. We're expecting more of the same today. But not much warmer.

Our garden plot might have looked like this if it had been tilled. Now it's just a patch of weeds.

The landscape contractor who was supposed to come till up our vegetable garden plot has never showed up. I've emailed him a couple of times. He answered once, but has since gone silent. Now we're in the middle of June with no garden. Bother.

Friday, June 14, 2024

The north forty

Thursday was a beautiful, sunny day, even if it started out kind of chilly. My plan was to use our hedge trimmers to reestablish a path just outside the north side fence. The fence runs the length of our property on the north side separating our yard from the woods beyond. Then I planned to run the lawnmower through to cut and mulch the path down at ground level. Weeds, saplings, vines, and brambles try each year to get into our yard (with measured success) and each year we try to fight them back. Keeping the invading forces trimmed back to a meter or so beyond the fence isn't difficult unless weather and other projects delay the maintenance, giving nature's forces an opportunity to advance. And advance they had.

The eastern half of the fence line looking toward the woods to the north, seen from the deck.

So, I pulled out the hedge trimmer, ran two very long extension cords from the house out to the fence (I have enough extension cord to reach anywhere in the yard), and started hacking away. There's only one access point to the other side of the fence for people and that's out the back gate and along the hedge in the west forty to Ken's plum tree in the northwest corner. Unfortunately, that point is often the most overgrown. But I attacked and made it through, cutting up as high as I could reach.

I continued to about half way along the fence's length then took a break. After  re-hydrating and letting my arms rest, I took out the walk-behind lawnmower to see how that would do (the rider is too big to fit). I was pleasantly surprised. So much so, that I continued the process of hacking and mowing along the other half of the fence's length. That half is overgrown mostly with tall grasses and supple saplings that are easier to cut away. However, there are also a lot of blackberry brambles (with thorns the size of paring knives) trying (and succeeding) to make the leap into our yard. I did not come away unscathed (thank goodness for heavy-duty garden gloves) but I did come away a victor. At least in this battle. I'm afraid the war is unwinnable.

Thursday, June 13, 2024


The grass is (mostly) mowed once again. I haven't done the edge work, but the rest is done. It took me less than 90 minutes to do what was taking me three days to do. I'm getting into a grove with the mowing pattern.

Nothing to do with today's post. A vineyard parcel that has been mowed between the rows.

There is a (not so) small problem, however. The strip between our north side fence and the woods is closing in, as in filling in. All that rain we had in late winter and spring contributed to a growth spurt, and the dry days we did have were occupied with mowing the yard. I've been thinking about the strip. Mostly thinking about "one day I'll get back there." I waited too long.

So, today I will get started on it. That means taking out the hedge trimmer and the cords that supply it with power and hacking a path through the worst parts, then trimming back where the overgrowth is not so bad. The goal is to be able to take the walk-behind mower back there to keep it clear. We've been doing pretty well for a while now, but every year there's a little more "creep." This year's robust growth has thrown us for a loop. To add insult to injury, the overgrowth is filled with agressive blackberry brambles. Ouch! Long sleeves and gloves will be the uniform of the day.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The rest of the week

Ken's cataract surgery went fine yesterday. Stress levels have dropped considerably. While Ken was at the clinic (he was provided a taxi for the round trip, so I didn't need to drive him up and back), I was a busy bee. I did a load of laundry, then I washed the kitchen and guest room windows, inside and out, washed the curtains and re-hung them. Later in the morning I worked on cleaning out the overgrown millepertuis (St. John's wort) under our mailbox so the mail deliverer (and us, too) has better access to the box. I ate some leftovers for lunch and waited for Ken to get back.

Grape vines and woods.

So, what next? This morning I'm planning a trip to the supermarket. After that I want to finish the clean-up under the mailbox. This afternoon I plan to cut the grass again (with the new riding mower, of course. Wheeee!). There are more windows to be cleaned, but I'm not sure I'll get to them today. We're expecting rain all day on Friday, so I want to get the grass done before that. And let's not forget lunch! Retirement is a full-time job.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Tasha Tuesday

Or, more accurately, the back end of Tasha, Tuesday. She got out ahead of me while I was stopped fiddling with the camera. So she's in the shot.

Tasha heads out for her morning walk through the vineyards. Lots of sniffing to do.

Have I mentioned that it got cold again? This morning I wore my winter coat and a scarf on our walk. Sheesh. Our outside thermometer read 11ºC (about 52ºF) at sunrise. That thermometer is up against the house, so I'm sure it's reading warmer than the vineyard temperature. Our weather web sites are saying we're between 7º and 9º outside.

Monday, June 10, 2024

New vines

This large vineyard parcel was dug up a couple of years ago then replanted last year. This year, the new vines look like they're doing very well. Stakes and guide wires were installed a few weeks ago. I don't think there will be any grapes this year, but maybe next year.

New vines (sauvignon blanc, I believe) out back.

There's another very large parcel just beyond this one that was dug up last year. Right now nothing is happening out there, except that the wild grasses have taken over. At some point, I hope, the grower will start plowing the soil and otherwise preparing the parcel to receive new vines, maybe by next spring.

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Saturday's lunch

I was successful at the market on Saturday, for the most part. The fish monger had the lieu noir (pollock) that I wanted and I got a nice barquette of strawberries. The goat cheese vendor wasn't there.

Lunch is served! The fish was perfectly cooked, in my humble opinion.

We cooked the fish in butter and white wine with capers and some lemon juice. Along side we had macédoine de légumes, what I'd call mixed vegetables. Ken chopped the rest of a leftover tomato to garnish both the vegetables and the fish. Dessert was strawberry shortcake.

Saturday, June 08, 2024

Sunrise walk

Clouds began to move in from the southwest just as the sun rose last Wednesday morning. That's not at all unusual, but on this day I had the camera with me. The light kept changing as the clouds moved across the sky and it changed quickly, leaving little time to frame a photo and adjust the camera settings.

Looking toward the southwest, just outside our garden gate.

I'm planning a market trip this morning. We want to eat fish again. This time I'll look for lieu noir (pollock in the US, coley in Britain, according to Wikipedia). And I'll get some more goat cheese and some strawberries. I've also got a carload of recycling to get rid of.

Friday, June 07, 2024

A taste of spring

Called radis roses, these radishes are a spring staple in France. After washing and trimming off the leaves, we eat them as an appetizer with salt and buttered crusty bread. Yes, we eat the green parts, too. The radishes are not hot like American red radishes. They're surprisingly mild, almost sweet.

Radishes are a springtime treat.

When the fanes (the bunches of radish leaves) are fresh and in good shape, they can be made into pesto and frozen for later, or they can be cooked and incorporated into sauces or just eaten as greens. The radishes themselves can be cooked into all kinds of dishes from soup to stir-fry. Nothing is wasted!

Thursday, June 06, 2024

Baby grapes

The grapes are forming in the vineyards out back. Someone who knows better than I could tell you what variety of grape these are. The clue is in the shape of the leaves. And those who know also know what's planted where.

These could be flowers that aren't open yet. I've lost track. I'll let you know.

In the interest of reporting the good news as well as the bad, we're having decent weather. It's far from hot, but I was able to wear a t-shirt most of the day yesterday. It's not yet warm enough for shorts. We're getting caught up on certain outdoor chores. Petit à petit, l'oiseau fait son nid (little by little, the bird builds its nest).

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

The other artichokes

Our first artichoke plants are these two. They come back every year where we planted them beside the garden path. I think there were originally four (maybe five?), but these two are all that remain.

It looks like one plant, but it's actually two.

The mowing is done one more time, except for some detail work that I'll try to get to today. Meanwhile, I haven't heard from the landscaping guy at all. He was supposed to till up our vegetable garden plot, but he hasn't showed up. I wrote to him yesterday. I'm sure that, with all the rain we had in May, he's got a backlog of work to deal with. We may not have a garden this year.

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

La tondeuse

Here's the new lawnmower. It's called a mini rider in French. According to our research, it's the right size for our property. A larger mower would have been overkill. I don't think there are smaller machines. It's a Troy-Bilt brand and it was assembled in the USA (with global parts!). So says the sticker. I remember that brand from when I was younger (and lived across the river from Troy, NY, where their roto-tiller machines were made). Troy-Bilt was subsequently acquired by a company called MTD (Modern Tool and Die) in Ohio. They also own Stanley and Black & Decker, two well-known tool manufacturers. I suspect that the factory in Troy is long gone.

Troy-Bilt mini rider in the driveway.

Monday afternoon was relatively warm and dry, so I took advantage and got most of the yard cut. I did the west and north forties and the strip along the road and outside the hedges. Today I plan to finish with the south forty and maybe some detail work. I'm still learning how to maneuver the mower around the yard as well as what the different levers and settings for cutting do. I think I'm getting the hang of it, but there are still a few things to get used to.

Monday, June 03, 2024

What a mess

We've let it get this far. But, this summer, we will have to deal with the ivy growing on the garde shed wall. The stuff is not easy to pull off. I read a couple of articles on line that say to cut the ivy at ground level, then pull it off the wall from the bottom up while it's still green. After that, you need to deal with what's left behind: those tenacious little tendrils that attach themselves in the nooks and crannies of the wall. It's not going to be a pleasant task.

Ivy growing up the garden shed wall.

We're looking at predictions of a decent weather week, warmer and drier than it has recently been. Time to cut the grass again! I'll get a photo of the new mower this week. I promise.

Sunday, June 02, 2024

Tarte aux fraises

Our anniversary lunch yesterday was tasty! I ended up getting two good-sized fillets of aiglefin (haddock in the USA) and a bunch of white asparagus from the market. I prepared (white aparagus needs to be peeled) and steamed the spears and Ken cooked the fish on top of the stove with white wine. He made a lemon butter sauce with capers and served it on the fish and the asparagus. I didn't take any photos of that, but it was yummy!

Local Charlotte strawberries from the market on pastry cream.

We had a strawberry tart for dessert. Ken made the pastry cream; I made the crust and assembled the tart. I glazed the berries with home-made mirabelle plum jelly. Delicious!

Saturday, June 01, 2024


It was forty-one years ago today that Ken and I moved into a Capitol Hill apartment in Washington, DC. We had been living in my small Arlington apartment for a short time before, but the Capitol Hill place was the first lease we signed together. Ronald Reagan was in his first term as president What's hard to believe is that we've lived half of those forty-one years in our house here in France. Tempust fugit.

The garden path. Who led whom?

I'm going to the market this morning to get a nice piece of fish for our anniversary lunch. As usual for this damp, wet spring, it's chilly (the central heating came on this morning) and wet outside. I didn't sleep all that well and noticed that it rained on and off through the night.