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At the bottom

This is what we see when we get to the bottom of the hill. This field is one of several at the bottom of the hill that are planted every year in some kind of grain. This is winter wheat. It's planted in the fall, sprouts, then over-winters like this. In spring, it begins to grow tall and set seed, then it's harvested in summer. I've seen this field planted with barley, millet, and sunflowers in years past. The winter wheat has sprouted. The river is behind those trees that are lit by the sun. ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Cher Valley

Almost there

At the bottom of the path through the woods, we emerge on the valley floor where several agricultural parcels are planted in grains each year. There are some houses, a couple of small orchards and private vegetable gardens, all connected by dirt roads to the paved road that parallels the river. Tasha is ready to venture back into the light. I started walking this route back in 2003 with our first dog, Collette. Callie and I took most of our afternoon walks this way, except for springtime when ...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Tasha, Our Neighborhood, Cher Valley, Collette Callie

Not out of the woods yet

Tasha lagged behind me as we continued down the hill. Something got her attention and it needed some intensive sniffing. I'm sure she wonders why I don't find all the smells fascinating. She caught up with me before I got out of sight. Halfway to the bottom. So, here we are in December. A few months ago, I thought November 3 would never arrive. Now it has come and gone, nearly a month behind us already. We've begun planning for our end-of-the-year meals. Not that there's much planning to do. I...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, Our Neighborhood, Cher Valley

Hi-ho, hi-ho, into the woods we go

To get down to the river valley, Tasha and I walk through these woods along a path that's in some places wide enough for a tractor and, in other places, only wide enough for one person to pass. The narrow part is where somebody cut down the trees (some years ago now) and the re-growth filled in with vigor. On hot summer days, the path through the woods is shady and cool. On dark winter days, it can feel downright spooky. Tasha sniffs the ground on the way down the hill. The temperature on the ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, Our Neighborhood, Cher Valley

Dog on the move

When we first set out for our walks, Tasha is excited. She bounces around, back and forth, sniffing the ground for signs of whoever, or whatever, went before us. This is the start of Saturday afternoon's walk, not long before sunset. We headed down the hill from our back gate to the path that takes us further down into the river valley. Tasha knows the way by heart. Our route takes us down and around the vines you see on the right, then we head into the woods. Saturday was a pleasant, sunny, a...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard

Have a ball

These two fountains, les fontaines de Pol Bury, were installed in the Cour d'Orléans of the Palais Royal in the center of Paris back in 1985. They didn't exist when I lived in Paris a few years earlier. The first time I was back in Paris was 1988, and there they were. The building itself was also renovated and its façade cleaned since then. Pol Bury was a Belgian artist. He died in 2005. Back then I was just getting started with SLR photography and was into taking color slides. This image is s...
Tags: Travel, Paris, WCS, Palais Royal

Just another day

Our Thanksgiving meal was delicious. I didn't take any photos, but Ken did and I'm sure he'll post some soon. Now it's on to the leftovers. A whole leg of lamb for two people is a lot. Today we'll probably have cold slices of the roast with mayonnaise. Later, some of it will get chopped up for an hachis parmentier (a shepherd's pie). A last burst of fall color as we move toward December. And speaking of pies, I made a pumpkin pie for dessert. I thawed out more pumpkin than I needed for the pie...
Tags: Travel, Holidays, Ken, WCS, The Vineyard

Thanksgiving Day

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. It's a national holiday, second only to Independence Day as far as secular national days go. The traditional meal is stuffed turkey. The traditional sport is sitting on the couch watching (American) football on television. The traditional w(h)ine is, "I can't believe I ate the whole thing." LOL. Some birds flying south between the contrails. Ken and I will roast our traditional leg of lamb and maybe watch some tennis or CNN or Dr. House on television...
Tags: Travel, Holidays, Cnn, United States, Wildlife, Ken, WCS

There goes the sun

The sun is rising later and later these days. Here, today, it will officially be up at 08h14. And we'll continue losing daylight until the solstice in December. Driving is a pain right now, because the sun is so low in the sky that it's just blinding, especially when driving east in the morning. We're not supposed to be out for much these days anyway, except for food shopping and medical visits. And getting the car inspected. By the way, it passed, so we're good for another two years. That's a g...
Tags: Travel, Holidays, Peugeot, Ken, WCS, Our Neighborhood

All the vines are brown

Fall has done its thing in the vineyards. The brilliant golden leaves of the last months turned brown and dropped to the ground in nearly every parcel. The bare canes take on a reddish/orange color this time of year, but it's a much more subdued hue. As winter settles in, the canes will be pruned from the vines. Winter is coming.The grasses growing in the vine parcels is bright green. Some parcels have been neatly mowed, in some the weeds have been plowed up. Still other parcels seem to be growi...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard

Choo choo!

This is our local train station. It's across the river in the town of Noyers-sur-Cher. I took the photo back in 2012 when Ken and I were on our way to Paris then on to upstate New York. It was around 06h00, just before the regional train was to depart for Tours (Saint-Pierre-des-Corps) where we transferred to a TGV (high-speed train) to Paris and the airport. We did the whole thing in reverse on the way home. The track-side view of our local train station. As you can see, I'm out of new photos...
Tags: Travel, New York, US, Paris, Cher, Ken, WCS, Choo Choo, Cher Valley, Touraine, Noyers, Tours Saint Pierre des Corps

OK, I lied

Another Beaujolais post. Ken came home from the grocery store with a new supply of Beaujolais nouveau for the coming week. Good thing. These bottles come from Super U and are sold under the store's brand. We drank the one with the purple peacock feather label (second from the left) on Saturday and it was tasty. I don't know what the peacock feather motif is all about. The grape variety used to make Beaujolais wines is gamay. Nouveau wines from Super U. The one on the right says "No ADDED sulfi...
Tags: Travel, Weather, Nouveau, Ken, WCS, Wine And Spirits, Tasha, Super U

Once more, with feeling

Ok, here's the last Beaujolais nouveau post. For now. I wanted to get a photo of what I got from the supermarket on Thursday. Three reds and one rosé, two bottles of each. We've already tasted the Violettes and the Chat Rouge red and rosé. In my humble opinion, the Chat Rouge red was better than the Violettes. That could be because it's Beaujolais-Villages rather than generic Beaujolais. The rosé was fine, but I wouldn't rush out for more. Ken's going to another store this morning to look fo...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Wine And Spirits, Violettes, Chat Rouge

What's left

This is what's left after the mechanical harvesters pass through a vineyard parcel. The machines vibrate the grapes right off the stems then suck the debris (leaves and stray stems) away. When grapes are harvested by hand, the picker clips the entire bunch, stems and all, from the vine. Is one method better than another? I don't know. I suspect, however, that really ripe or fragile grapes would be damaged by the roughness of the mechanical process. Some wines, like Champagne and certain Beaujola...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Wine And Spirits, The Vineyard

Beaujolais nouveau

Today's the day that the 2020 Beaujolais nouveau is released. I don't think it's as big an event as it was back when they started heavily marketing it, but it shows up in the stores with a modicum of fanfare on the third Thursday in November. November wildflowers. Beaujolais, and now primeur wines from other regions (including ours, the Touraine), are early wines released just months after the harvest. They're meant to be enjoyed young, not aged. In a good year, they're fresh and fruity. In a ...
Tags: Travel, Wildflowers, Beaujolais, WCS, Wine And Spirits

Mr. Mouse, out of the house

After three failed attempts to capture the mouse in the pantry, we finally succeeded. The most damage he did was to eat part of a potato. That, and the little mouse droppings he left in certain places. We learned over the years to double wrap foods like flour, crackers, and pasta to keep out insect invaders. The practice helps with mice, too. A common house mouse? A field mouse? I'm not sure. This is the third mouse I've captured in the pantry this year. That's unusual. We may have had one or ...
Tags: Travel, Wildlife, WCS, Bert

While it's still fall [1]

Even though most of the grape leaves are gone now, a few linger here and there. These are from here. Tomorrow I'll post some from there. Red gold and (a little) green. Yesterday's storm wasn't much of a storm, but it blew through on schedule. The winds were not as bad as originally predicted. And we got less rain than I expected.In other news, the mouse trap worked this time. Poor little thing. Once it gets light outside, I'll take the little critter out and release him, far from the house. [A...
Tags: Travel, Wildlife, WCS, The Vineyard

While it's still fall [2]

This morning felt chilly when I got out of bed. The outdoor thermometer read about 8ºC (about 46ºF). The thermostat inside read 17ºC (about 63ºF). That's not right. I went downstairs to let the dog out and noticed the boiler's instrument panel flashing red with an error code. I hit the reset button and it reset itself then came on. So we're warming back up. These are the leaves from there. Today is expected to be cooler than yesterday. Nonetheless, I'm planning to grill burgers outside. It may...
Tags: Travel, Our House, WCS, The Vineyard

While it's still fall

Even though most of the grape leaves are gone now, a few linger here and there. These are from here. Tomorrow I'll post some from there. Red gold and (a little) green. Yesterday's storm wasn't much of a storm, but it blew through on schedule. The winds were not as bad as originally predicted. And we got less rain than I expected.In other news, the mouse trap worked this time. Poor little thing. Once it gets light outside, I'll take the little critter out and release him, far from the house. [A...
Tags: Travel, Wildlife, WCS, The Vineyard

Bare vines

Fall progresses, nearly two-thirds done by the calendar. The vineyard parcels out back have lost most of their leaves and the deciduous trees are not far behind. November vines. We're expecting a storm to blow in around mid-day. Some gusty winds and rain are predicted, so it will be an indoor day for us, except for taking Tasha out for her walks. [Author: wcs]
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard

Fusain's orange berries

A month ago, I posted a photo of a fusain (common spindle) berry and mentioned that the actual seeds inside are a bright orange color. Now the seed pods have opened and the orange seeds are visible. The orange seeds of the fusain. I started moving that mulch on Friday, but my back started getting sore, so I had to stop at twelve wheelbarrows full. That's not too bad, but there is a lot more to move. I'll try to do some more today. And maybe take some photos when the progress is more impressive...
Tags: Travel, Wildflowers, WCS

Nuts to you

The nuts have dropped from the lone walnut tree out on the vineyard road, and some critters are enjoying them. I saw this walnut cracked open on the ground. Most of the nut "meat" was gone. I wonder if it was a bird that was able to peck open the shell or some other animal. The nuts on this tree are generally too small to be tempting, although I've seen one of our former (now deceased) neighbors walk out and gather some from time to time. What's left of a walnut on the ground. You'll be happy ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard

To rake or not to rake

Most of the leaves have fallen from the two large red maples in front of our house. A lot of them collect on the driveway. It's time to rake them up. That's what we're planning for this morning if the weather cooperates. It was raining a little when we got up. One of the two big maples. Most of these leaves are on the ground now. The raked leaves will either go into the compost or onto the vegetable garden plot. I still have that big pile of mulch to move, too. That will get spread over the ve...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants

View from the den

Here's a view looking westerly from the den. The view was opened up earlier this year when we had a big spruce tree taken out. The tree was too close to the house, too crowded between the tilleul and a Himalayan cedar and, most importantly, it was dying. I'm glad not to have the needles raining down on the roof and gutters. Looking out toward the vegetable garden from the den. This morning we're under heavy fog. I went out in the dark with Tasha (so she could do her business) and everything wa...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, Tasha, Garden Flowers Plants

View from the deck

Here's the view from our deck out across the road to our neighbors' property. The neighbors (who live in Blois) have spent the summer and fall doing a lot of trimming and pruning and other landscaping work in their large yard. It all looks very different from what we were used to, but good nonetheless. They often come down with their kids, grandkids, and friends and spend hours working in the yard. The shrub with the red leaves is a snowball bush. Now, however, while we're under confinement, t...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Blois, Our Neighborhood

Autumn on the deck

It's not quite warm enough to enjoy sitting out there for any length of time, but the deck does offer some nice views this time of year. It's not too cold to grill, though. On Sunday I grilled a steak for lunch. While grilling, I noticed that the light was particularly pretty. We had a light overcast that diffused the sunlight and made the golden leaves look even more golden. The deck thermometer reads 16.4ºC (about 62ºF) at mid-day. I got the camera out and snapped a few quick shots from the ...
Tags: Travel, Our House, WCS

Pork buns

This is the second time we've made Chinese-style steamed pork buns. Ken used his home-made pulled pork barbecue to make the filling by adding Chinese spices to the cooked meat. I followed a recipe for the dough that we found on the internet (I think) and it worked great. Steamed pork buns with eggrolls (above). After the dough rose for a couple of hours, I punched it down and divided it (and the filling) into eight equal portions. I shaped each portion of dough into a ball then flattened each ...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Food And Cooking


The grape leaves are falling fast now. Whole parcels are bare, others still have some leaves. I actually noticed one grower has started pruning already. Grape leaves on the ground. We're going back into a mild period, so I'm hopeful we'll get some more yard work done over the weekend. There are, not surprisingly, leaves to rake in the driveway. [Author: wcs]
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard


Wildflowers and other small green plants survive around the margins of the vineyard parcels. Until there's a hard frost or a freeze, when most will fade away. The transition from fall to winter can be abrupt, or it can be slow and subtle. Depends on the year. Delicate blue veins in the unopened petals of these flowers. I'm planning a trip up to a nearby wine co-op this morning. They're having their annual sale on bubbly. Not Champagne, of course, but our local sparkling wine. I think it's pret...
Tags: Travel, Wildflowers, WCS

On the ground

I've mentioned before that some of the vineyard parcels out back have been plowed to help eliminate weeds. When the plowing is done, I frequently see big clumps of dirt or mud that have been dropped in the roadway where the plow turned around. This is one such clump of dirt clinging to a weed that was uprooted. It fell on an old piece of asphalt that's part of the dirt road's surface (every year the town patches potholes with gravel and, sometimes, pieces of old roadways that have been removed f...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard

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