Again with the frost

What can I say? I took a bunch of photos that one frosty morning we had. So here's one in color. The sun was just coming up. This vineyard parcel has been pruned. You can see the cut canes lined up in every other row. The vines on the very left haven't been pruned yet. As predicted, our temperature this morning is close to freezing at about 3ºC. There may be frost, but I won't know until the sun rises in just under two hours. The days are very short these few weeks around the solstice. January...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, The Vineyard

Frosty web

Ice crystals formed on spider webs on Thursday morning as our low temperature went below -1ºC. The sun came out and melted the frost by mid-morning. We're expecting the same today, but with more of a warm-up as a new weather system moves in. They look like water droplets, but they're actually frozen. It's nice to walk the dog on frosty mornings because she stays clean. The mud is frozen enough not to get all over her feet and fur. One of the nice things about winter. The freezing also checks t...
Tags: Travel, Weather, Wildlife, WCS, Rouge

Take a hike

I mentioned yesterday that there was a randonnée (group hike) scheduled. Just as the sun began to rise, I noticed a couple of people walking by our back gate and out the vineyard road. As it got lighter outside, more and more people came through. It was over an hour later when I thought to take this picture from the loft window. The construction trailers are still out back, and the road's a mess, but the view of the golden autumn leaves at sunrise is still striking. Many of the hikers had smal...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard, Our Neighborhood

Tasha Tuesday

Here's a two-fer. I couldn't decide which photo to post, so you get two. Two-fer Tuesday? It was a rainy afternoon and Tasha was indoors. She sat inside the sliding glass doors and watched, as she does. She watches for cars, trucks, or people coming up the road. She also gets fascinated by the birds coming to feed from the suet balls I put up in the fall and winter. Lots of activity. Tasha longs to go outside, but it's raining. When a car or truck comes up the road, she can see it through the ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Bert, Tasha

Corn muffins

I had a hankerin' for corn muffins the other day, so I looked up recipes on line. I found one called "Extra-Corny Cornbread Muffins" on the Bon Appetit web site. It attracted me because it included whole corn kernels in the muffins and that's what I wanted. So I gave it try on Saturday. Corn muffins cooling in the oven. The recipe wasn't difficult and the batter, while thick, spooned easily into the muffin tin. My muffins look a little rougher than those in the recipe's illustration. But isn...
Tags: Travel, Bon Appetit, WCS, Food And Cooking


According to the forecast, the week ahead will be dry, but cold. We'll be flirting with freezing temperatures and will surely see some frost in the mornings. I'm looking forward to the ground drying out a little. We still have leaves to get up and the vegetable garden plot to cover for the winter. Frost on an oak leaf. Over the weekend we got the more sensitive plants moved from the deck into the house and greenhouse. The garden hoses are rolled up and put away as are the backyard table and ch...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS

Chocolate highs caffeine lows

After lying awake for four hours in the wee hours battling jet lag and booking a Santa visit at Macys at 3am local time I was genuinely hoping that San Fran would live up to its reputation of not having bad coffee. Not so. I have now had what I am ai
Tags: Travel, Macys, Santa, San Fran


We're having a break in the rain. Still, the ground is saturated, soft, and muddy. The fallen leaves are wet and heavy. But there is still work to do. I got the deck table and chairs put away, and we've started moving outdoor plants into the greenhouse. I've still got the grill to clean and cover; maybe today. The deck furniture is put away for the winter. The red maples are now golden and most of their leaves are on the ground. On Tuesday I made good progress in the vegetable garden. All the ...
Tags: Travel, Our House, WCS

Turkey day

I think we decided on a turkey for this year's roast beast. I'm heading into town this morning to order it. I also have to find out if I pick it up next Saturday (too early for Christmas Day) or if there will be a special market on Monday or Tuesday. There often is when the holiday falls mid-week. The other option is that we can pick up the turkey at the vendor's atelier (workshop) in the neighboring town. It's not a retail facility, but they let customers go there to pick up orders when it's mo...
Tags: Travel, Weather, Turkey, WCS, The Vineyard, Food And Cooking

California interlude

I'm out of photos. I haven't taken the camera outside in a while and I haven't taken many indoor photos, either. So here are some water lilies I saw at a winery in the Sierra foothills of California probably about seventeen years ago, before moving to France. Almost like a painting by Monet. I woke up to rain this morning. Again. Everything outside is a muddy mess. It's not cold, so there's no ice or frost. Or snow. But I can't take the dog down the hill on our walks because the path is like...
Tags: Travel, California, France, Wildflowers, Sierra, Monet, WCS

Jive turkey

It's Thanksgiving, that American holiday centered on roasted turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. But not here. The television news has had reports about the holiday, explaining it's origins and customs to French viewers. It's a curiosity. But they really get into the "Black Friday" thing. So much so, that we are, and have been for a few weeks, experiencing "Black November." In English, no less. It's all about selling stuff for Christmas. Duh. Pumpkin pie cooling in the oven. As is customary...
Tags: Travel, Holidays, France, WCS, Food And Cooking

Frosty hamlet

A view of our little hamlet on a frosty morning. It was a very light frost, but it was frosty nonetheless. I think the photo looks better in black and white. Looking northeast over the vineyards. Click on the photo to make it bigger; it looks better bigger! On Saturday, Ken installed what's called a solid state drive in my computer. He cloned the existing hard drive (the "C" or "boot" drive) where the operating system and all the programs are stored and copied it all to the new SSD (solid stat...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, The Vineyard, Our Neighborhood

Another phrosty photo

A familiar view to regular readers: looking west from the hamlet out into the vineyards as Tasha and I head out for our morning walk. I really over-processed the image in an attempt to get a more dramatic effect. I like it, but then I look at it again and don't like it. Then I like it again. Tasha gets frosty paws. The wind has been gusting strong for about 24 hours now. The weather people say it should die down by this evening. Then the mild temperatures will drop toward freezing again. Well,...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard

Life & Death on December 8: The Madonna of the Sun, John Lennon & the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Venice

Harley, Like a Person (Venice, Italy) When I created the teenage protagonist, Harley Columba, I wanted her to have a deep connection to John Lennon, so in my first novel,  Harley, Like a Person, I made her birthday on December 8th, the same day that John Lennon was assassinated. Even though Harley was raised Catholic -- drawing from my own background -- at the time I wrote the novel back in the 1990s, I had no idea what the significance of that day was in terms of Christian history, n...
Tags: Travel, Isis, John Lennon, Turkey, United States, Italy, Madonna, Catholic, Venice, Jesus Christ, Harley, Mary, Anne, Golden Gate, Virgin Mary, Giotto

Purple frost

Post-processing can turn a bland photo into something a little less bland. I was not at all happy with this shot. I didn't get the depth-of-field right. So I gave it some purple color and, while it didn't fix the focus problem (nothing can), it doesn't look as bad as the original. Hand-held photography in low light is quite a challenge. I had the 50mm fixed lens on the camera. I needed a relatively fast shutter speed (1/200) to compensate for the breeze, which meant opening up the aperture for...
Tags: Travel, Wildflowers, WCS

Piles of leaves

The leaves from the twin maples are now piled in the vegetable garden plot. The goal is to spread them around (like we do every year) and cover them with a tarp for the winter. The rain returned before we got to that. Frosty piles of leaves. There is still work to be done! Covering the garden plot helps to keep the weeds from taking over which makes tilling in the spring easier. We used to do it with just the leaves, but discovered last year that adding a tarp works much better. The leaves dec...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants

Stormy weather

The wind and rain kicked up during the night. Sometime around 03h30, I heard the wind-driven rain against the loft windows. It woke me up, actually. Both animals had taken refuge on the bed between us. It lasted a while and then calmed down. This morning there is much less rain, but the wind is still blowing. It's supposed to be like this through the weekend. Joy. A calm morning a few days ago before the current storm blew in. I have to decide whether to go out this morning or Saturday morning...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, The Vineyard, Montrichard, St Aignan

The cheese course

I set out three cheeses for the Thanksgiving meal. The tall one is called Petit Basque, from the southwest (Basque country), made from ewes' milk. The white one is called pont-l'évêque, from Normandy, made from cows' milk. The small one is called cantal, from the Auvergne region of the central mountains, also made from cows' milk. Cheeses don't have to be whole and untouched to serve, even to guests. The wine is a local sauvignon (I took the photos before we ate), but we drank Beaujolais with ...
Tags: Travel, Holidays, Normandy, Beaujolais, Auvergne, Ken, WCS, Food And Cooking


Our annual Thanksgiving meal was a success! The lamb was delicious. The butcher where we've been getting it for several years now is very good. He gets his beef, veal, and lamb from the Limousin region not far south of here. It's fascinating to watch him prepare a leg of lamb. The lamb is cooked rare. Some of the pinkest parts will get cooked again as we eat the leftovers. We painted the leg with olive oil and added ground pepper, allspice, dried thyme, and some hot red pepper flakes before ro...
Tags: Travel, Holidays, WCS, Limousin, Food And Cooking


Success! I drove over to a nearby town that has its market on Fridays. The market at Montrichard is bigger than Saint-Aignan's Saturday market. I remembered that they had two fish mongers. I was disappointed to see that neither of them had much shellfish. Just mussels and some oysters. As I gave up and headed back to the car, I noticed a third fish monger. His stand was smaller than the other two, but lo!, he had coques (cockles). I got a kilo. Having linguini with white clam (cockle) sauce be...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Food And Cooking, Aignan, Montrichard


This photo is over a week old. The grape vines have now dropped most of their leaves and the pruning continues (by that crew of workers, so it's going fast). Our weather warmed up as a rain system moved in over night. I didn't build a fire on Friday, and I don't expect to need one for the next few days. Crimson and orange, no clover. We're heading into Thanksgiving week, which means nothing in France, but Ken and I are already looking forward to our annual T-day tradition of roasting a leg of ...
Tags: Travel, Weather, Holidays, France, Ken, WCS, The Vineyard

Red among the yellow

Each vineyard parcel out back is made up of a single varietal, whether it's sauvignon,  cabernet, gamay, or any of the other varietals grown in our region. That makes sense. So you'd think that all the leaves in any given parcel would change to the same color in the fall. But there are obviously some vines in this parcel (and others) whose leaves are not the same color as their neighbors'. Several reds among the yellows; a sign of less than healthy vines? I have no answer for that. But I do ha...
Tags: Travel, France, WCS, The Vineyard

Barenaked maples

It's official. All the leaves have fallen from the twin red maples out front. If you read Ken's blog, you will know that we finally got it together to rake them up on Wednesday. They had dried out enough to move and, now, most of them are out in the vegetable garden plot. Last year we raked up the leaves on November 24, so we're not too far behind. It's just been so wet. Some birches around the 'hood are still golden, and the hedge around our yard will stay green through winter. But the maple...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants, Saint Aignan

Prison oversight panel takes shape, Kaneshiro impeachment setback, herbicide ban vetoed, car towing for DUIs, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Bunks at Hilo jail, Hawaii's most crowded ©2019 All Hawaii News Critics: New Hawaii Prison Commissioners Too Connected To Long-Troubled System. The new state commission is supposed to bring a new vision for prisons. But it’s made up of people who have been part of the problem. Civil Beat.Case Takes His Time To Make A Historic Decision On Impeachment, The Hawaii congressman says he wants to see if President Donald Trump has a “plausible explanation” for his conduct before making up his min...
Tags: Travel, Utah, US, Hawaii, Associated Press, Bill, Donald Trump, Pacific, Waikiki, Honolulu, Samoa, Maui County Council, Hawaiian Islands, Peter Martin, Hilo, Hawaii Supreme Court

The western wall

Not the Western Wall. This is a close up of the west side of the cabane du vigneron (grape grower's shed) out in the vineyard. I noticed that someone crumpled up a piece of paper and pressed it into a crack in the wall. I'm guessing that the paper wrapped a pastry or a sandwich. Shoving it into the wall was better than just dropping it on the ground. The western wall. Today is Sunday, which is hunt day. And I see that there's une randonnée (an organized group hike) scheduled. I can tell beca...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard, Western Wall This


These are two of the three remaining fir trees in our yard. The healthy one on the right is very tall; we can see it from across the river, marking the location of our house on the southern bank. The tree on the left is dying. The lower third is nearly devoid of needles and the upper branches have many fewer than they used to. The tree looks bare all year round. A few of its silver-blue needles survive, but not for long. So, the jig is up. The guy who does our hedges and removed our apple tree...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


As in autumn, not tripping. The leaves are falling fast now. The maples in our front yard are almost bare. The linden out back still has a lot of leaves, but they're tumbling at a steady rate. The grape vines are nearly all bare now. An autumn grape leaf. Thursday's chores included a trip to the supermarket for some Beaujolais Nouveau. Ken brought back twelve bottles: six of one that we've enjoyed for many years, and one each from six other producers. The one we opened for lunch, called Le Cha...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard, Beaujolais Nouveau Ken, Le Chat Rouge

The birches hold on

The birch trees in our hamlet are the last to be losing their leaves this fall. They're still providing us some nice color, but not for much longer. The days are getting chilly (Monday's high was about 5ºC or 41ºF); the sun is too low in the sky this time of year to warm things up much. Still, it's nice to see the sun after that long run of overcast and rain. The view of our neighbors' property from the deck on a sunny December afternoon. I'm thinking I'll take advantage of the dry weather to ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Our Neighborhood

Christmas show windows again, again, again...

As each year since I started this blog, it’s time to have a look at the Christmas show windows, concentrating on the department stores the Printemps and the Galeries Lafayette. If you wish you can look back on 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. … and there is of course the tree under the fantastic glass cupola of the Galeries Lafayette, different each year. The flowers we can see in the tree can be recognised in a large part of the Ga...
Tags: Travel, Galeries Lafayette, Au Printemps, PeterParis, Galeries Lafaytte

Notes from plane seats and the odd airport lounge part ii Back in autumnal Tasmania

Little by little the camel goes into the couscous Moroccan ProverbHE SAID...Today we are travelling from Marrakesh Morocco to Hobart Australia.We left Riad Helen our haven in Marrakesh for the past three days a
Tags: Travel, Tasmania, Marrakesh, Marrakesh Morocco, Hobart Australia, Riad Helen

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