Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A brush with frost

Monday morning was a cold one. The temperature got down to just below freezing for the first time this season and we woke up to frost. It didn't last long at all, nor did the cold. I wonder, as do the weather people, if we're in store for another unusually warm winter. So far, last year's pattern is repeating: a little cold weather in early December, then no freezes at all for the rest of the winter.

The sun rose over our neighbors' frosty property on Monday.

Our weather is tempered by the effects of the gulf stream, which brings relatively warm and wet weather systems sweeping across the British Isles and northern France. In winter we can get cold arctic air flowing down from Scandinavia and northwestern Russia resulting in freezes and occasional snow. But that didn't happen last winter, which went down as one of the warmest in memory.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Monday was pizza day

Not much to say other than we thoroughly enjoyed our pizzas for lunch yesterday. I made the crust on Sunday and let it sit to rise for eighteen to twenty hours. We used our own sauce (made from this past summer's tomatoes), and added ham, mushrooms, and Cantal cheese.

Food pictures are not easy in dim light with a hand-held camera. But I was too eager to eat to get out the tripod.

When we have pizza lunch, I make two pies. I bake one, then, while it's baking, I roll out the second crust to rise. After the first pizza is devoured, I make and bake the second one. I've got it down to a routine, if not a science. We followed the pizza with a green salad topped with Ken's home-made ranch dressing.

Monday, December 15, 2014

In with the new

The newly re-planted vineyard parcel out back is coming along. The guys are in the process of putting in the stakes that will support the guide wires along each row of vines. The stakes are made of steel, a modern version of the the traditional wooden ones that don't last nearly as long. Robust wooden stakes are still used, however, at the ends of each row to anchor the guide wires.

The end stakes are in, waiting for the wires that will eventually support new growth in each row of vines.

Most of the steel stakes are in, but not all. I expect they'll be installed in the coming months along with the wires that will support new growth next spring.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bare vines

Except for a few strays here and there, the vines have lost all their leaves. The vineyard is now a sea of brown. I've noticed that pruning is under way in certain parcels. The vines are pruned by hand, one by one, a long job that will likely last into March.

Bare vines on a foggy morning.

Ken and I went to the market on Saturday to order our Christmas bird. This year it's a turkey and we'll pick it up next Saturday. It will weigh between three and four kilos (six and a half to eight pounds). That's plenty big for two with generous leftovers.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

What's on tv

Here is the cover of the upcoming week's television guide magazine. When we first moved here, I would go into town every week to buy the tv guide. Sometimes the newsstand would be out of them, usually because I would just forget until it was too late. At some point it dawned on me that I should just subscribe and have the magazine delivered to the house every week. Duh.

Downton Abbey, a very sumptuous series. With a cult following.

That was probably about eight or nine years ago. Now all I have to remember to do is to renew my subscription once a year. As this week's cover announces, one of our channels (Télé Monte Carlo) will be showing the final episode of season three of Downton Abbey, along with a two-part Christmas special. Then, in the following week, they will start showing season four. I think we're about a year behind the US and the UK.

And, in case you're wondering why pigeons are celebrating Christmas, the pigeons in question are a team of consumer reporters who have a show on France 4 called "On n'est plus des pigeons (We're not suckers any more)."

Friday, December 12, 2014

Indoor days

As winter approaches, we are, naturally, spending more and more time inside. There is still work to be done outdoors, but it's been too wet to rake leaves. I go out every day now to split logs and bring in the daily firewood. All the potted plants that need to come in for the season are in, and this weekend I will bring in the deck furniture.

Watching Cincinnati lose to Pittsburgh on Sunday Night (American) Football while it storms outside. I record the games overnight and watch them the next day.

I will also give the bbq grill a good wipe-down over the weekend. It's sheltered on the deck, so it will stay outside. We just ordered a new grill cover to help protect it. The days are short, but when the sun comes out it's nice. Gloomy overcast days are for cooking and watching football on tv.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Miserable with a capital yuck

Wednesday's weather, that is. A fine rain fell most of the day, driven horizontal by wind. Callie and I had to cut our morning walk short because it was just too wet and miserable for either of us to enjoy being out in it. The air was cold, but not freezing. It was just an all around yucky day.

The view from the bedroom window. What looks like fog is actually rain.

Of course, it could have been worse. Freezing temperatures would have meant ice and snow. We're expecting more rainy weather over the weekend, but today is predicted to be a little nicer. On the positive side, our car passed its biennial inspection, so we're good for another two years.