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New and Exciting for Ski Season 2020

With the cold air blowing and the leaves starting to change it’s time to think ahead about new products for this winter and what major changes have hit the nordic skiing industry. Some brands have done as little as changing graphics and others have completely reinvented their brands.  In the wax industry, we have seen the release of fully non-fluorinated wax lines; Rossignol released a brand new mold for their WCS ski; Rottefella released a new, easier-moving binding directed towards skin/waxle...
Tags: Sport, Skiing, Fis, Aero, Rossignol, WCS, Salomon, Swix, US Ski Team, Swix Triac, Triac, Chris Hecker, Rottefella, Sponsor Press Release, Wax Tech, Rex Ski Wax


Tarte aux figues

I made a fig tart on Friday with some of the bounty from our friend's fig tree. The filling in the tart is an almond custard made with ground almonds, sugar, an egg, and butter. I sliced the figs and arranged them on top before baking. When the tart cooled, I painted it with an apple jelly glaze. I messed up the timer so the tart got a little over done, but it was not a problem. We had some rain early this morning, but the temperature did not drop. It's actually warmer and more humid this morn...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, Food And Cooking


Figs

One of our local friends has a fig tree that is producing abundantly right now. She invited me over to pick my fill on Thursday. I got a nice flat full of deliciously ripe fruit. A tray load of figs. I see a fig tart coming soon. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our fig tree is also producing. We got four figs. We may get two or three more if they ripen. Our tree is not the same variety as our friend's tree. I bought it at our local outlet of a big chain garden center thinking, wrongly, that they...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Food And Cooking


Harvesting in the dark

Most of the grapes out back have now been picked, either manually or mechanically. Both methods were on view yesterday. The days are hot and dry right now, so the growers have been starting each day very early in the morning, a good hour before sunrise. The harvesting machines are equipped with big lights. They remind me of the alien machines from "War of the Worlds," moving slowly but with determined precision. A harvester in the vineyard parcel behind our house on Wednesday morning. The trai...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard


Tomato update

I picked these tomatoes on Monday. The tomatoes that formed and grew after I added a calcium supplement to the water are not suffering from blossom end rot. Calcium carbonate is not a cure. Once a tomato begins to rot, it's got it. But the calcium additive can prevent future fruit from rotting. It seems to have worked. Monday's harvest from the tomato patch. I've lost a lot of the crop to the rot, that's for sure. But at least we're getting some. The problem, as you might be able to see in the...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Le pendule de Foucault

A couple of commenters mentioned Foucault's pendulum on Sunday in response to my image of the Panthéon dome. Indeed, a copy of Foucault's pendulum hangs from the dome today. The original was installed in 1851. Foucault's pendulum swings under the dome of the Panthéon in Paris. May 2016. The pendulum is a demonstration of and evidence for the Earth's rotation. I won't repeat all the technical stuff here; it's available on Wikipedia and from other sources for anyone who is interested. Versions o...
Tags: Travel, New York, Wikipedia, Paris, United Nations, Foucault, WCS, Cathedrals And Churches


Pedal to the metal

How's this for street furniture? Exercise bikes. I saw these on the banks of the Seine in Paris in that part of the old voie express rive droite (the right bank expressway) that's been closed to cars and opened up to pedestrians and cyclists as a park. Standard and recumbent bikes looking up river. April 2018. Today is supposed to be a hot one, the hottest day of the week at 36ºC (96.8ºF). The next few days are supposed to be a little cooler with highs around 31ºC or so. Fortunately, the days ...
Tags: Travel, Weather, Paris, Seine, WCS


From the archives

Once again I find myself without fresh fotos to share. Here's another image from my overnight stay in Paris before flying out to Canada and the US in May 2016. I was waiting for a guide to take me and several other visitors up to the dome. This is a view of the dome from inside, looking up from the main floor of the church. The dome rises to a height of 83 meters (272 feet). Looking up inside the dome of the Panthéon in Paris. May 2016. The Panthéon is no longer a church, having been transform...
Tags: Travel, US, Canada, Paris, Pantheon, WCS, Cathedrals And Churches


Hot and dry

The news out of the western US is horrifying. We're fortunate not to be there, but I remember back in 1991 when the Oakland hills fire burned right across the bay from where we were living. The image of the scorched pages of books floating down from the sky will stay with me forever.   A little bit of greenery. The forecasters are predicting our hot and dry conditions to continue. Monday's high is expected to reach 35ºC (95ºF) here. Very strange for mid-September. I haven't heard of any fires b...
Tags: Travel, Weather, France, US, Oakland, WCS


Garbazh

Said with an impeccable French accent. Some jerk dumped the remains of his/her lunch out at the end of the vineyard road the other day. Most of it, pictured here, went into a small depression in the ground that fills with water when it rains. Other bits of plastic packaging are strewn about along the road. Klassy. This could have easily been tossed into a garbage can somewhere else. Yesterday I contacted the guy who does our annual hedge trimming for an estimate on renovating our garden path. ...
Tags: Travel, Our House, Ken, WCS, The Vineyard, KLASSY


So many light bulbs

When I was a student in Paris in 1981, there was a version of the old joke going around. How many Parisians does it take to change a light bulb? The answer: "I don't know anything about that. It's not my problem." Or, as Chico Rodriguez might say, "It's not my job, man." As young students learning French and trying to understand the urban edginess of early 80s Parisians, we obviously found the joke funny. Hilarious, even. An attitude many of us encountered or at least perceived, now nearly 40 ...
Tags: Travel, Paris, Ken, WCS, Chico Rodriguez


Time to do something

Our garden shed is not in good shape and we've been thinking about what to do about it. First, we need a mason to fill in the fissures in the wall. There are two visible here on either side of the door, and another larger one that runs from top to bottom on the eastern wall. The shutters just need to be replaced, and the window and sill need a coat of paint. The exterior walls could use a cleaning/painting.  Jerusalem artichokes in front of our shed. We had the door installed back in 2004. Som...
Tags: Travel, Jerusalem, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


The waste pile

A few days ago, I pulled the zucchini and one of the pumpkin plants out of the vegetable garden. They were done for the year. In their place, I relocated a pile of yard waste that I was storing in a corner of the yard. I won't dispose of it until the tomato plants come out and the rest of the garden is cleaned up, probably some time in November. Stuff I've trimmed over the summer, including apple branches, clary sage, and artichokes. The muscade pumpkin plant actually has three new pumpkins gr...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Looking good

The harvest continues, although there hasn't been much going on out back in the last few days. I expect that will change very soon. Several parcels have already been hand-harvested and several more have been machine harvested. Still, large sections of both red and white grapes remain. The weather is predicted to be warm and dry over the next week, so I imagine the growers are waiting as long as they can for optimum sugar and water levels. These look ready to me!  During our walk on Sunday mor...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard


From the archives

I took this shot back in 2016 when I spent the night in Paris on my way to visit the US. The Panthéon had recently undergone a renovation and the colonnade around its dome was open to visitors. I posted the color version of this image in 2016, so here's a re-worked black and white version. The Eiffel Tower seen from the Panthéon dome, May 2016. Summer and fall are playing footsie with the weather. Summery days are alternating with fall-like temperatures. After a while the summery days will fad...
Tags: Travel, US, Paris, Eiffel Tower, Pantheon, WCS, Cathedrals And Churches


Tarte aux pommes

I haven't made an apple tart in a long time, so here's the first one of the season. I've mentioned that we have a bumper crop of apples this year. There should be many more tarts like this as we move into fall. Tarte aux pommes, ready to serve! Under the apple slices is a layer of applesauce (made with sugar and a touch of cinnamon) to give the tart some body. I glazed the finished tart with plum jam that I pressed through a strainer before painting it on. This tart got cut into six pieces, de...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Food And Cooking


Inside the pumpkin

This is half of the rouge vif (bright red) pumpkin that I roasted the other day. I know it's a strange photo to post, but what the hey. To do this, I cut the pumpkin in half with a big chef's knife, then scooped out the seeds from the middle. I put the half face-down on a lined baking pan and roasted it at 180ºC (about 350ºF) for thirty minutes or so until a skewer went into the pumpkin with little to no resistance. Half a roasted pumpkin. Think pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, enchilada sauce, etc...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Food And Cooking


Tomatoes

This year's tomato crop has been disappointing. All the plants developed blossom-end rot. My research tells me that it's caused by a calcium deficiency in the soil. I added a calcium supplement while watering but I'm afraid I was too late. Some tomatoes are fine, but the vast majority of the fruit has the rot. A lot of this year's tomatoes are smaller than usual. Probably because it's been so dry; I need to water more. The rotten ends of the tomatoes can be cut off if you catch it at the rig...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Courge musquée

This is the other variety of pumpkin that I planted this year. The proprietary name on the seed packet says "Muscade" which is the word for "nutmeg" in French. It's difficult (for me) to sort through all the meanings and origins of plant names across languages. The closest I can come is that une courge musquée has something to do with musk squash, or musk melons. Something musky. Butternut squash* is part of this family of pumpkins. The remainder of the red pumpkin has been preserved. Now I ha...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants, Food And Cooking


Melon et jambon

A classic summer appetizer in France (and much of western Europe) is melon and cured ham. This year the melons we've had have been exceptionally and consistently good. I was getting a couple a week for a while. And the ham is always good, whether it comes from the supermarket or the butcher's shop. My favorite this year was the Bayonne ham from the butcher in Saint-Aignan. The cured ham shown here is local, produced in the Berry region, and sold at a small chain of shops that specialize in loc...
Tags: Travel, Europe, France, Bayonne, WCS, Food And Cooking


Rouge vif d'Etampes

I harvested the two surviving pumpkins called rouge vif d'Etampes (bright red Etampes pumpkins). Etampes is a city just south of Paris where the variety originated. I kept one and gave the other to a nearby friend who often shares her garden's bounty with us. We're planning to use part of the flesh in couscous this week and preserve the rest by roasting and freezing it. These are pretty good-sized pumpkins. That leaves two more pumpkins in the garden, both of the muscade variety. I want to get...
Tags: Travel, Paris, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants, Etampes


It's not falafel

In the ongoing effort to use up garden zucchini, we decided to make veggie burgers. I have about six zukes that got away, growing much larger than I intended them to. They're not quite baseball bats, but close. So I grated one last week as the base for veggie burgers. Grilled veggie burgers, ready for the buns. I used a "recipe" that Ken blogged about when we made a batch many years ago. It's less of a recipe and more of a description, which is what you'll get here. I grated a carrot, a small ...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Food And Cooking


No frost on this pumpkin

This is the season's first pumpkin from our garden. I've been checking them daily and they all seem pretty much ready. But this one had a soft spot on one side, so I picked it on Friday. I cut a wedge out where the soft spot was and roasted the rest. I scooped the roasted flesh out and will get it into freezer containers today. I see pumpkin pie in our near future. The pumpkin is a muscade variety whose skin turns tan (not unlike a butternut squash) when ripe. Like this one, they won't necessa...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Deadheads

The daisies have done their thing. Now they're sad looking. At some point I'll cut them down to ground level and this bed will look a little neater. The daisies are a mess as usual this time of year. It's the last official weekend of summer vacation in France. If this were a normal year, kids would be going back to school on Tuesday. As it is, I don't know what the schools are doing. I guess I should pay more attention to the news. [Author: wcs]
Tags: Travel, France, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Sauvignon

Most of the white wine grapes grown in the vineyards around us are sauvignon. Some chardonnay and chenin are also grown here, mostly to blend into sparkling wine. Closer to the city of Tours, the Vouvray and Montlouis appellations produce wines exclusively with chenin. Other smaller areas in our region, including the Touraine Amboise, Mesland, and Azay-le-Rideau appellations, also use chenin for their white wines. Lesser-known and mostly local white grapes are grown here and there around the reg...
Tags: Travel, Rideau, WCS, Wine And Spirits, The Vineyard, Touraine Amboise Mesland


Puddles

Last week we had some rain and I saw something that I hadn't seen in a while: puddles in the vineyard road. This view of our hamlet from out in the vineyard will be familiar to regular readers of the blog. I wasn't very far out yet when I stopped to wait for Tasha to catch up after she spent some time smelling things. Tasha likes the puddles. She won't step in them, but she'll stop and take a drink. The puddles have dried up now and, while the days are more or less cloudy, there's no rain in t...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard, Our Neighborhood


Ça commence

I noticed a couple of trucks parked out in the vineyard yesterday. Through binoculars I saw people carrying big bins on their shoulders through the vine rows. That can only mean one thing: the 2020 grape harvest has begun. Grapes nearing maturity. In these first days, at least in the vineyard out back, the harvest begins with hand-picking in selected parcels. I don't know which varietal is being picked, or why certain grapes are hand-picked and others are not. I'm sure there's a rhyme and reas...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard


Dramatic skies

This was the sky last Thursday morning as the sun rose behind a layer of long cloud formations. "Clouds. Lots of them. Light and puffy. You know, clouds." --Louie DePalma We had a pleasant day weather-wise on Sunday. I got the parts of the yard mowed as I planned and it looks much better. Today I'll finish the west 40 (where the apple trees are) and maybe the north 40, although I might leave that for Tuesday. Still no progress on the mulch pile. But my philosophy these days is "One thing per d...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, Louie DePalma


How d'ya like dem apples

We made some progress in the back yard on Saturday. We picked up the apples under our two trees and I cut the grass (and weeds) under them. Most of the apples went into the compost pile, some went into another pile by the garden plot. Ken smashed some of the softer ones where they laid. We have a bumper crop of apples this year, more than in recent memory. The fallen apples are not really good for much. They are either badly bruised or being eaten by bugs and critters. But there are still plen...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Mulch

I haven't made much progress in moving the mulch pile. You may recall that our next-door neighbor had two large trees removed. Her contractor offered me the mulched branches and I said yes. The next day I moved about eight wheelbarrows full to the compost pile. Then it got very hot, so I didn't move any. Then we started to have some rain and the pile began to compost itself. The pile has shrunk just a little in the just over two weeks it's been sitting here. At the very least, I want to clear ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants