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Faded flowers

As it does at the end of every summer, our daisy patch has gone from vibrant yellow, white, and green to a ghostly brown. The flower stalks stand in the garden like otherworldly sentinels of doom. They'll remain until I cut them down to prepare for spring's new growth. A dead head, grateful or otherwise. Today is the first day of astronomical autumn. That is, it is the season that begins with the autumnal equinox, one of two days each year when the amount of daylight is equal to the amount of ...
Tags: Travel, Wikipedia, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Chicken Pad Thai

This was Monday's lunch. Ken made a variation on Pad Thai using chicken breast and bell peppers. We had some Chinese wheat noodles in the pantry that we used instead of flat rice noodles. The sauce was easy with the ingredients we have on hand. Peanuts gave the dish some crunch, and we garnished with fresh chives from the garden and the other half of the bunch of cilantro I got on Saturday. Needless to say, we ate it all. A what-we-had-on-hand version of Pad Thai. Some kinda good! During my wa...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard, Food And Cooking


Corn silks

The corn cobs in the two corn fields out back have matured. There aren't many, and most of them are thin, not like good eating corn. I'm sure it's not eating corn, anyway. The French get their corn out of cans. Corn on the cob is not sweet and is grown as feed for pigs and other livestock. Corn silks on tiny corn cobs. Every once in a while we'll find sweet corn on the cob in the supermarket. Ken did once this summer and we enjoyed it cooked on the grill. It's one of those things that remind m...
Tags: Travel, US, Ken, WCS, The Vineyard


A pile of pretty peppers

And some onions. Saturday was Tex-Mex day at our house. Ken made beef fajitas and guacamole for lunch. I went to the market to find peppers and cilantro while Ken made the marinade for the beef. The supermarket didn't have any cilantro, but I found some at a nearby produce store (their last bag!). I also got some flour tortillas to wrap the meat and vegetables in. ¡Olé! Colorful bell peppers and onion ready for the sauté pan. Today Ken's making a more traditional French dish: gratin de chou-fl...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Food And Cooking


Ten years ago today

I was posting photos of our hedges. More specifically, photos of my progress in trimming them. This was before I stopped trimming the hedges myself and started paying a landscaper to do it. I don't regret that decision. This is the smallest section of the hedge adjacent to the driveway. We hadn't yet replaced the deck doors then. 18 September 2011. We're expecting a chilly and wet weekend, if the weather people are to be trusted. Fall is coming in right on schedule. I'm still hopeful that we'l...
Tags: Travel, Our House, WCS


Steamed pork buns

This isn't the first time I've made Chinese steamed pork buns, but it has been a while since the last time. They're not difficult to make, but you do need two to three hours for the yeast dough to rise, with another thirty minutes of rising after the buns are stuffed. For the stuffing, we used some pulled pork that Ken made in the slow cooker and froze a few weeks ago. He thawed it out and added Asian flavors (like soy, sesame, hot chili sauce, ginger, etc.) while warming it up on the stove. E...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Food And Cooking


One year ago today

Looking back at my blog posts for this time last year, I see that we were in a heat wave. The grape harvest was nearly complete, and the daily work got under way even before the sun rose. It's a very different year now. We had more rain this summer than any in recent memory. The grape harvest hasn't even begun yet. And while we just had a week of moderately hot and dry weather, it wasn't harsh and it didn't last long. Grape harvesters seen from our house at sunrise a year ago, September 16, 20...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard


Lost Found

I don't know how it's possible, but somehow I lost my eyeglasses. I went out for an afternoon walk with Tasha and at some point realized I didn't have my glasses on. This happens every now and then. I go out the door in a hurry and forget to put them on, often because I was wearing my computer glasses just before going out. So, I figured, they're probably home on my desk. But when I got home, I couldn't find them anywhere. Panic set in. Did I drop them in the vineyard? They're out there. I wen...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard


Look familiar?

Part of this photo is this week's Image of the Week (in the sidebar to the right). Can you tell I've run out of fresh pictures again? I don't know what wildflower this is, but it's blooming all around right now. If anyone knows what these are, I'd appreciate a comment. We had some thunder and lightning over night, but no rain. The storm moved by us to the west and north. Bert sauntered in around 02h30 this morning, about the same time that the storm was moving off. And once again, thankfully, ...
Tags: Travel, Wildflowers, WCS, Bert


Another golden sunrise photo

I took this photo a week ago while we were still in our mini heat wave. The weather is still good, just not as hot. The angle of the light this time of year shining on the brown grasses makes them look painted in gold. The end of the dirt road through the vineyards, the half-way point in our morning walks. Mary in Oregon asked if I enhanced the color for these shots. The answer is yes. I take my pictures in RAW format. That requires that I use software to "develop" them before exporting them a...
Tags: Travel, Oregon, Mary, WCS, The Vineyard


Fading color

These are the hortensias (hydrangeas) that I grew from cuttings many years ago. There were four, but the other two did not survive in their location on the other side of the garage door. Now we have an aucuba there. It's holding on, but not thriving. There's still a little color left in the hydrangea flowers, but it's fading fast. When the leaves fall, it will be time to prune the stems back for the winter. Hydrangeas under the garage window. If you look closely, you can see a board leaning up...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Bert, Garden Flowers Plants


A boy and his dog

Having fun with shadows. Tasha went "snout to the ground" as I snapped the photo so her shadow lost its ears. Better luck next time. Luke Skywalker and R2D2? I sometimes call her Kenobi, as in Obi Quiet, Kenobi. Bert came in from outside just before two a.m. this morning. With a mouse. At least it was dead by the time he dropped it on the landing. I made sure he ate it before I climbed back up to bed. I wonder what he does for hours out there in the dark before he decides to come inside. [Auth...
Tags: Travel, Luke Skywalker, WCS, Bertie, Tasha, Kenobi, The Vineyard, Obi Quiet Kenobi Bert


Trimmed and mowed

This past week, while the weather was warm and dry, the vineyards out back got trimmed and mowed. The guy that did the work drove a tractor over the vines with an attachment that trims the tendrils from the tops and sides of the vines. After that was done, he drove the tractor pulling a mowing attachment between the vine rows to cut the grass down. Everything is squared off and we can walk between the rows again. Trimmed and ready for harvest. I wonder when they'll start. The plumber and his h...
Tags: Travel, Our House, WCS, The Vineyard


Grapey

The grapes have enjoyed our week of summery weather. They're looking pretty ripe out there now. I haven't seen any of the growers testing the grapes for sugar levels yet, so I don't think the harvest is about to start. I'll keep my eyes open. Much riper looking now than just a week ago. Our plumber is coming over this morning, bright and early, to replace our shower door. You might remember that we had a new shower stall built about five years ago. The door, a folding glass door, came loose sh...
Tags: Travel, Our House, WCS, The Vineyard


September sunrise

The sun rose yesterday in a clear sky. Tasha and I enjoyed our sunrise walk. I think we started around 07h30. The sunrises are getting later and later as we near the equinox. This photo is from early in our walk, looking back at the hamlet as we make our way west. Looking easterly at sunrise on Tuesday. On Sunday morning we saw a sure sign of the coming autumn: hunters were out past the end of the dirt road participating in a battue (an organized hunt). They were likely hunting deer or foxes. ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard, Our Neighborhood, Cher Valley


Wild wort

This is millepertuis (St. John's wort) in its wild form. It grows everywhere along the edges of the vineyard roads and even among the vines themselves. The wort produces its bright yellow flowers all summer. A clump of wild St. John's wort grows at the end of a row of grape vines. We inherited a big plot of domesticated wort along the south side of our house. It also fills in a ditch along the road just outside our property. The flowers are much bigger than the those of wild variety, but they'...
Tags: Travel, Wildflowers, John, St John, WCS


Knapweed and something else

The bright purple flowers belong to the knapweed, but those rounder purplish globes without flowers look to be something else. I don't remember noticing them before, but I certainly am noticing them now. Are they another plant, or just knapweed at a different stage? Our little late summer heat wave is continuing. So far it's not anywhere near oppressive, but the next couple of days in the low 30sC (upper 80sF) could get a little uncomfortable for sleeping. Mostly because we're just not used to...
Tags: Travel, Weather, Wildflowers, WCS


We'll always have Paris

I let this anniversary go by until Ken reminded me. Forty years ago last Thursday was 2 September 1981. I left New York for my first-ever trip to Paris to spend a school year learning French at the Alliance Française. The transportation was arranged by the college that sponsored the year abroad program. Students from all over the US were on their own to get to the flight, Icelandic Air Flight 204 out of JFK, an overnight flight with a re-fueling stop in Reykjavik, Iceland. The final destination ...
Tags: Travel, New York, US, Brooklyn, Gare du Nord, Paris, Manhattan, Luxembourg, Jfk, Douglas, Ken, WCS, Reykjavik Iceland, Ken B, Wikipedia Icelandic Air


Shorts and tee-shirts

It's happening. Summer is back. Sun. Dry days. High temperatures in the 80sF. I grilled hamburgers for lunch on Friday. And I'm enjoying wearing shorts again. We'll see how long it lasts. Grapes to the right, corn on the left (in the back). A recent sunrise. Bert stayed out last night until almost three in the morning. I woke up around 23h30 thinking I felt him walk across my legs (which he does frequently). I must have been dreaming because he was not at all there. Then I tossed and turned an...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, Bertie, Bert


It's not Vigeland...

The first thing I thought of when I saw this pile of grape vine trunks in one of the dug-up parcels out back this summer was the sculpture by Gustav Vigeland in Frogner Park, Oslo, Norway. A friend of mine (now deceased) visited Scandinavia when she was younger and had taken photos of that evocative sculpture. I've never visited Norway, so I've not seen the sculpture in person. A pile of dead grape vine trunks in the vineyards behind our house. We're enjoying the warm and, so far, dry weather....
Tags: Travel, Norway, Scandinavia, WCS, The Vineyard, Gustav Vigeland, Vigeland, Frogner Park Oslo Norway, Andrew Shiva Wikipedia


The (garden) party is over

Our 2021 vegetable garden is almost a memory. There are still zukes, kale, and chard growing (sort of). On Wednesday, I cut all the weeds down with the mower after piling up the pulled plants and some trimmings and tree branches (that were piled in the garden path). I'll get rid of those later. Tasha "helps" with the garden cleanup. The plot will have to be tilled up at some point and I'll probably have to mow it again before that happens. And, in accordance with the laws of the universe, the ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, Garden Flowers Plants


The last of the tomatoes

This year's tomato harvest is over, at least in our vegetable garden. I picked the last decent-looking toms on Monday and pulled the plants out of the ground. They (the tomatoes) will go into a meat sauce for today's pasta lunch, I think. The last of the Mohicans tomatoes. Yesterday I took down the trellis fence at the back of the garden plot. I planted climbing peas and beans there last spring but didn't have much luck with them. Quelle surprise. I also pulled the fence supports out of the ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Quelle, Garden Flowers Plants


Change is our friend

In this case. The cabernet, côt, and gamay grapes are starting to turn color. That means they're ripening. I wonder how much they will ripen if the weather gets cold again. Not that it's hot now, but it's pleasantly warm and dry (even though we had an unexpected rain shower yesterday). I saw a tractor out in the vineyards yesterday trimming the vines. I think they need to do that to keep the vines ventilated and as part of the preparation for harvest time. "Red" grapes go from green to purple ...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, The Vineyard, Garden Flowers Plants


Setting seed

Our artichokes are doing their late summer thing. The flowers are faded and the seeds are emerging. Like many members of the thistle family, the artichoke's seeds fly away on feathery parachutes. One year, we found an artichoke plant sprouted from a seed that fell in our garden path. The artichoke flowers have dried up and are beginning to release their seeds. If my favorite weather web site is correct (ha!), we have a few days of warm and sunny weather ahead. As I predicted, removal of the so...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Regaining control

I took the first step in getting this year's vegetable garden back under control on Saturday. The tomatoes are a lost cause and the beans are done. We still may get a few zukes, and we're trying to keep the kale and chard going for a fall crop. We intentionally planted them along the edge of the plot with this in mind. The sorry state of the 2021 vegetable garden. So, what I did was take out the soaker hose. And yes, I realize that probably means we'll have sunny and dry weather until winter. ...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


The equatorial dome

We live a stone's throw (about 2 miles as the eagle flies) from one of the Loire Valley's biggest attractions. It's not a château, but a zoo. The ZooParc at Beauval, just outside Saint-Aignan, has become a world renowned zoological park since its creation in the early 1980s. Just this year, the zoo announced the birth of two giant pandas and opened its newest attraction: le dôme équatorial, a huge steel and glass structure that maintains an equatorial climate year round for the 200 or so species...
Tags: Travel, California, WCS, Loire Valley, Saint-aignan, Beauval


Sunrise with contrails

On Thursday morning the sun rose in a clear sky. Tasha and I had just left for our morning walk and I turned to look back toward the east. The photo makes it look darker than it was. The sun was up over the horizon but still behind the trees in the background. The sunrise over our little hamlet on Thursday. Summer vacation is winding down now. French kids go back to school in less than a week. If you've been reading this blog, you know that the weather has not been good for most of this year's...
Tags: Travel, Mediterranean, WCS, Tasha, Our Neighborhood


Cosmos

I planted some decorative flowers in this year's vegetable garden. Namely, cosmos and flax. None of the flax seeds sprouted, but the cosmos came up and now it's flowering. A bright spot in the disaster that is this year's potager, for sure. An insect on a cosmos petal. The flowers are white, purple, and red. I need to give them some water today; we're in a dry spell. Imagine! [Author: wcs]
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


What are these?

I have no idea. There are so many little wildflowers growing in and around the vineyards that I'm still finding some I haven't yet noticed, let alone identified. Anybody know? Ken found corn on the cob in the supermarket yesterday. That's rare for these parts. So he got some for today's lunch. I'll grill burgers to go with them. Bacon cheeseburgers. Yum. [Author: wcs]
Tags: Travel, Wildflowers, Ken, WCS


Spaghetti alla Nerano

After having seen this dish on a friend's Instagram feed (thanks, Mike!), we decided to give it try. It's not complicated at all, basically spaghetti with zucchini and cheese. We made some adjustments to use what we had on hand. I grilled the zucchini (instead of pan frying it) and an eggplant that we had in the fridge. We grated Parmesan, Romano, and a little bit of Basque sheep's cheese (the recipe calls for Italian provolone). The basil came from the greenhouse. Spaghetti with grilled zucch...
Tags: Travel, Mike, WCS, Food And Cooking, Parmesan Romano