Posts filtered by tags: WCS[x]


Le drive

In France, what we Americans call a "drive-through" at retail establishments is known as un drive. Whether it's fast food, a pharmacy, or a supermarket, the signs for le drive are everywhere. Except at banks. I don't think there are drive-up tellers at French banks. Not sure about drive-up ATMs, but I can't think of one. On Friday, I did the supermarket drive for the first time. This is not our Super-U and it's not my photo. I got the image from the internet. "Location" means "rental," most s...
Tags: Travel, France, Paris, Ken, WCS, Whatnot


I think this is a variety of hellebore, but I'm not sure. I didn't plant them, they come up in our neighbor's garden across the road. When they're not at their vacation house, Ken and I will often walk through their grassy property with Tasha, partly to keep an eye on things and partly to vary our route, especially when the vineyard road is a muddy mess. Hellebores are "hellébores" in French. That makes it easy to remember. But there's no mud to speak of right now. A week of dry weather, with ...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Tasha, Our Neighborhood, Garden Flowers Plants


These red tulips pop up on the south-facing end of our house every year. They were already here when we moved in almost seventeen years ago. We didn't see them until spring of 2004, though. So here they are this year, looking pretty healthy. I have a special affinity for tulips. My home town was a Dutch colony, founded way back in 1609 when Henry Hudson sailed up the river. Before that it was part of Mohican (as in "Last of the...") territory. Since 1948, the city has held an annual Tulip Festiv...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Henry Hudson, Garden Flowers Plants

More primroses

Our morning low temperatures are flirting with zero (freezing) right now. So far, we've stayed above freezing. I've seen no evidence of the grape growers putting out smudge pots or burning hay bales to fight against a freeze. Yesterday, I heard the helicopter-like sound of big fans blowing in the distance, but not many vineyards around us are so equipped. Purple primevères in a neighbor's yard. Meanwhile, we're still enjoying the spring bloom. Trees, shrubs, and bulbs are putting on their annu...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, Our Neighborhood, Garden Flowers Plants

Burrito bros.

Every once in a while we get a craving for burritos, like the ones we used to get in our neighborhood Cal-Mex place in San Francisco: La Corneta Taqueria. Unfortunately, we can't make them the way they did, but our approximations aren't too bad. This time, we stuffed supermarket flour tortillas with Ken's pulled pork barbecue (seasoned with Mexican spices), black beans, and rice. Then we topped them with cheese and baked them in the oven. A home-made "French" burrito. Often, we'll put the chee...
Tags: Travel, San Francisco, Ken, WCS, Food And Cooking


One of our neighbors has a nice little flower bed in her garden near the road. Right now, these daffodils are blooming. They're a multiple-head variety that, from what I can find on the internet, are called "bride." I think they're quite striking and I'm tempted to look for some next fall. If I can remember. Bride daffodils (I think) in a neighbor's garden. We've been keeping Bert closed up indoors for two nights now, closing off the access to the garage for the other neighborhood cats that ar...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Bert, Our Neighborhood, Garden Flowers Plants


These are the catkins and tiny new leaves on one of our birch trees. The few days of warm, sunny weather we had helped a lot of the neighborhood trees to start leafing out. The red maples out front are covered with fat buds and are actually beginning to flower now. Fruit trees all around are in bloom, and our apples blossoms are starting as well. Catkins and tiny fresh birch leaves. I see that the forecast is calling for light morning freezes on Tuesday and Wednesday. I wonder if the grape gr...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants

Muscari patch

Our patch of muscari (grape hyacinth) out by the driveway is looking nice right now. This hastily snapped photo doesn't really do it justice. There are a few daffs out there, too. You can see Tasha's worn path on the lower right. Grape hyacinth, daffodils, and some tulips that haven't flowered yet. Around one o'clock this morning, Bert got up went downstairs as he often does. For some reason I got up and followed him. When I got to the bottom of the stairs I was surprised to see two black cats...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Bertie, Bert, Tasha, Garden Flowers Plants, Muscari

Nice weather

We're enjoying a very spring-like few days. Lots of sun, the ground is starting to dry out, and it's warm. I actually cut a section (the south 40) of the yard yesterday. The grass was getting close to knee-high in places. Ken is working on plants and getting pots cleaned out and ready. The vines are getting pruned under blue skies right now. The short black gravel road belongs to the Artsy Organized Neighbor. I can see the pruning effort ramping up out back in recent days. There have been thre...
Tags: Travel, Wildlife, Ken, WCS, The Vineyard

Inside the piney woods

I haven't ventured into what I call the "piney woods" in quite a while. It's a small stand of pine trees on the south side of a vineyard plot along our walking route. Callie liked walking in those woods, but I don't think I've taken Tasha there until now. Inside the piney woods. I noticed that the thick brush that blocked our entry in recent years is not there. There's no evidence that anyone cut it down, it just seems to have died back a little. So getting inside was easy. The ground is still...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, Callie, The Vineyard

An abundance of chervil

The chervil patch is happy. It reseeded itself last fall when the plants bolted and now it has come back again. It seems to do this twice a year, when the weather is cool and wet. We're not using as much as we should, so we need to make an effort. Chervil has a subtle anise taste, similar to tarragon but not as strong. In my opinion, it's best raw, in salads or as a garnish. Chervil, or cerfeuil in French, looks a little like parsley and tastes a little like tarragon. Yesterday we decided to c...
Tags: Travel, France, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants

Hi ya, hyacinth!

These are some hyacinths that I transplanted many, many years ago to this location. I think it might have been between 2006 and 2008. They have filled in and are looking good. On the other side of the shrub there are daffodils. Some of them were in this spot when we arrived, others I've transplanted. The daffs are not as numerous as they used to be, so maybe some fresh bulbs this fall will help. Hyacinth, yes, but not Boo-Kay. More and more things are getting postponed or cancelled all around ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Bert, Tasha, Garden Flowers Plants

Lost and found

During a recent walk through the vineyards with Tasha, I noticed something very red on the ground. It was this pair of eyeglasses, most likely dropped by one of the pruning crew who were working out there a couple of weeks ago. I picked them up and hung them on a support wire at the end of a vine row thinking that whoever lost them might come back to look for them. Eyeglasses in the rain. They're still out there, so either their owner isn't missing them or just doesn't want them. Seems strange...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard


Our forsythia is on the left and a neighbor's is on the right. I'm sure there are more somewhere in the hamlet, but they're not easily seen from the road. The forsythia add some bright spots of color to the neighborhood this time of year. So, we're self-quarantining. Well, not really. We've just decided to minimize contact with the outside for a while. Not difficult for me, as I've only gone out of the neighborhood twice in a month. We've been to the grocery store, have a well-stocked pantry, ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Macron, Tasha, Our Neighborhood, Garden Flowers Plants

Red Russian

That's the variety of kale that Ken planted in the vegetable garden last spring. It grew beautifully but, just before we could harvest, it was attacked by flea beetles. The leaves were more or less destroyed and we were both really disappointed. We decided to leave the plants in the ground and keep watering them, hopeful for a fall crop. Red Russian kale in the garden, just before it was harvested. Well, it wasn't until fall that we saw a glimmer of life from the plants. They started sending u...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


As promised, here is another photo of our forsythia in bloom. Thursday morning was overcast with some light mist coming down, but I decided to take the camera out anyway. I think this is the peak for the forsythia bush. I want to trim this back after the flowers are gone. I do that every few years. We're a few degrees above freezing this morning. The days are mild, though. Our high temperatures are hitting 15ºC (around 60ºF) and slightly above, and that's the trend for the next few days. Sprin...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Another spring favorite, the forsythia is starting to bloom. It's farther along now; this photo is a few days old. I'm still not taking the camera out much right now, preferring to wait for better weather. This morning it's breezy, but relatively warm. I'll try to get a better shot soon. I had the wrong lens on the camera for this one. I ventured out again (in the car) yesterday, the second time since I returned from my trip about four weeks ago. Except, of course, for dog walking. I loaded up...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants

Am I blue?

These are muscari (grape hyacinth) that grow just outside our front door. They've taken over a plot of ground next to our driveway after I transplanted some a number of years ago. There are also some very old tulips and a few daffodils in this plot. The muscari have really thrived there. Soon it will look like a carpet of blue. These are the early flowers, so not yet as dense as they can be. The annual blue wave of muscari is building. The flowers will die back before summer. We also have a ro...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Bert, Tasha, Callie, Garden Flowers Plants

Tasha Tuesday

On days without strong wind, Tasha and I can walk through the woods. When it's windy, I'm wary of falling branches so I stay out in the open. Tasha loves going through the woods. There must be a different variety of smells to experience in there. Approaching the artsy organized neighbor's installations on a sunny, calm, afternoon. Speaking of wind, we had some strong (but not violent) wind overnight with rain. I did not hear the carport roof flapping at all. That means that the short term fix ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha


Daffodils are blooming all over the area right now. They're among the first signs of spring. I'm always tempted to cut them and bring them into the house, but I don't have enough for that. I like seeing them in the garden. Makes me think I should plant some more next fall. Jonquilles (daffodils) out by the driveway. There are other spring blooms around as well and, while they're not blooming yet, this year's iris crop looks promising. [Author: wcs]
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants

Not today

This photo is from last week, during a brief period of sun. Today, we're expecting some wind (not bad) and rain. I've just read on the Météo France web site that this has been the warmest winter on record in France. And among the wettest, with unusually frequent and strong storms in December and February. Blue sky and sun! Better for making spirits bright than bells on bobtails. Even though it hasn't been cold and snowy, the wind and rain have had the same effect. That is, keeping us indoors m...
Tags: Travel, Weather, France, WCS, Meteo France, The Vineyard

Temporary fix

We won't know if this works until it gets windy again (and there's some wind predicted for Sunday). We took advantage of a calm Friday to hoist old window shutters and a heavy piece of steel onto the edge of the carport roof where it had detached from the structure, then weighted them down with concrete blocks. You can't see them, but there are three beams under the roof to which it is attached with bolts. The wood is starting to dry-rot and the bolts are no longer holding. I think this 25 (or...
Tags: Travel, Our House, WCS

Things that go bump in the night

Wind! I hate it. It's been blowing relatively non-stop for a month now. Last night we had some scarily strong gusts. They were made even more frightening by the fact that the the wind has been systematically ripping the roof off our carport and the sheet metal flaps violently through the night. The carport is a home-made structure that predates our tenure here. This is the carport back in 2008 when I used it as a place to cut and store firewood. These days we keep our older car out there. The ...
Tags: Travel, Our House, WCS

A few rays

It's raining again this morning, and it's expected to continue through the day. We did have some brief sunny interludes over the past few days, but they were not nearly enough to dry things out. Even when it's not raining, water runs through the vineyards down to the streams toward the river. Look! Those dark things on the ground? They're called "shadows." This photo is from Tuesday afternoon during one of the (mostly) sunny periods. It's nice to walk with Tasha when it's not raining. Her legs...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard

One ring to rule them all

Since we had the spruce tree removed, I've been looking at the stump and thinking, "I should count those rings and find out how old that tree was." Yesterday was the day. I verified how to count tree rings on the internet (start in the center and count the thin dark rings, don't count the bark) and went out to count. I counted twice, on opposite sides, just be sure. The center rings are not easy to see because of the way the tree broke, so my count could be a little high or a little low, but o...
Tags: Travel, WCS, France PARIS, Garden Flowers Plants

One year ago

A year ago this week we took a mini-vacation to a small city called le Puy-en-Velay, down in south-central France. Here's a photo of a nearby castle. Next month, we're going to spend a week in the north of France near the Baie de Somme (Bay of Somme) in Picardie. A sunny day near le Puy, March 2019. Better weather than we're having now. I'm hopeful that we'll have good enough weather to take a lot of photos. Among our plans is a visit to the cathedral at Amiens, one that I've not been to befor...
Tags: Travel, France, WCS, Amiens, Tasha, Picardie, Puy-en-velay, Baie de Somme Bay of Somme

It's raining again

We're having a very wet, but warm, winter. January and February have felt like the soggiest months we've had in a while. The official rainfall total for February 2020 in our area is over 73 mm (just under 3 inches), compared to the annual average for the month of about 50 mm. That's close to 50% over the average for the month. A late winter sunrise over our hamlet in 2015. This photo is from five years ago, early March of 2015. The skies were mostly sunny. March is notoriously a month filled w...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS

Ten years ago

At the end of February 2010, we suffered a wind storm like none I've known. Wind speeds reached hurricane force where we live. It was much, much worse on the Atlantic coast. The storm was called Xynthia; until then I didn't even know that they named storms in France. The winds were so strong that they lifted several concrete tiles from our roof and dumped them into the driveway below. Fortunately, there was little or no rain associated with the storm in our region, so we didn't have any water da...
Tags: Travel, Weather, France, Atlantic, WCS, Xynthia

787 Lancaster

When I was in upstate New York for my aunt's funeral a few weeks ago, I stayed in her apartment. It's the apartment that she and my grandmother moved to when they sold the family house in Albany. This drawing of that house hung in my grandmother's room, where I stayed. My grandmother passed away in 2011 and my aunt, her daughter, continued to live in the apartment. My aunt lived with her parents all her life, and in this house (middle) from the early 1950s until 2008. During my stay, my aunt's...
Tags: Travel, New York, Albany, WCS, Albany New York

The garden's a mess

It always is this time of year. Winter rains and winds do a number on the yard and vegetable garden. The ground is littered with sticks and twigs, the weeds are thriving, and there is still some trimming to do. I've also got a small collection of junk that needs to go to the dump. You can see the stump of the tall spruce that was just cut down to the right of center in this photo. But I'm looking forward to spring. With four trees now gone, we're going to have a lot more sunlight in places tha...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants

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