Saturday, October 10, 2015

What's on tv

And we're back! Last week's tv magazine finally arrived after a few days. This week's arrived on time. Just in time for the magazine's 25th anniversary issue. Big whoop. On the cover (and the fold-out extension of the cover) is a collection of current presenters/hosts from many of the channels featured in the guide. I recognize about a third of them.

I spared you the fold-out cover of this week's magazine.

What NOT to watch this week. Our tv magazine rates shows and movies using a star system: one star is ok, four stars is best. They use another symbol for really bad movies: the red dot. It means "à zapper" (change the channel!). The editors often include comments about the movie that make me laugh.

I don't know how the movie people decide when to use a foreign film's original title, when to translate it into French, and when to just make something up in either or both languages. All three methods are used all the time here. This one, "Angel Eyes," retains the original American title of the film, whereas the film mentioned in the review is a translation of its American title, with one word dropped out ("The Thin Red Line" becomes "The Red Line").

Angel Eyes. American drama. Directed by Luis Mandoki, 2001.
With Jennifer Lopez, Jim Caviezel, Jeremy Sisto, and Terrence Howard.
In the US, a young police woman feels attracted to a vagrant who saved her life.
A tragically bad film. Useless. Without interest. Caviezel is far from his superb work in "The Thin Red Line," and Jennifer Lopez leaves us cold in what should have been a moving role.
For adults and kids over 10.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Friday fifties

This week I started Monday Macros with plans to share a macro image every Monday. Today I'm bookending the week with Friday Fifties, posting a photo taken with the 50mm fixed lens. When I got the camera a few years ago, I started reading about lenses that I might want. The camera came with two "kit" lenses, both zooms. I read that fixed, or "prime," lenses can give you better quality images, the trade-off being that you have to zoom with your feet, getting physically closer to or farther from your subject.

Standing about 3-4 feet above the subject, 1/125s, f / 4.5, ISO 1000, 50mm.

I also read good things about the 50mm prime lens with its wide maximum aperture of f / 1.4, good for low-light situations. So I got myself one. Again, I don't use it as often as I do the zoom lens and I want to get more experience with it. I'm finding that it does a really nice job within a meter or two of the camera, making it great for close shots and portraits, but that it's not any better than my zoom lenses for longer shots, landscapes and such.

I've been posting mostly macros and fifties for a little over a week now without identifying them either way. So today, being Friday, you get a 50mm shot.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Collard greens

As a kid in upstate New York, I don't remember ever eating collard greens. I had heard about them, but to me they were a southern food, soul food, even. I'll bet they were around, but they were not something my family ever ate. Our greens came in the form of spinach and lettuce (iceberg, mostly).

The variety of collards in our garden this year has a bluish-green tint. They cook and freeze very well.

I first ate greens in the mid-1980s when I lived in Washington, DC. They were regularly available as a side dish in the cafeterias at work and, besides, I lived with a southerner. Ken introduced me to greens (collards, mustard, turnip) and other southern dishes (NC barbecue, black-eyed peas, Brunswick stew, grits) in those first years. Now I can't imagine living without all of those things. Ken makes pork barbecue often, and we eat grits when we can get them (in fact, Italian polenta is very similar, if not exactly the same). Black-eyed peas are readily available here in France as they're a favorite Portuguese bean. We've even made a version of Brunswick stew a time or two. And, of course, we grow greens in our vegetable garden. Over the years we've grown good crops of collards (very hardy), mustard greens (more fragile), and, more recently, kale. Good eats, y'all!

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Heavily galvanised

Someone was conscientious. Rather than toss the label on the ground, whoever strung this vineyard wire (and I'm pretty sure I know who it was) placed it artfully in a crack in one of the posts at the end of a row. This is a new parcel, just planted last year. It's not producing grapes yet, but in a couple more years, when the little vines have grown good roots and sturdy trunks, it will be.

The label in three languages: French, what looks like German, and English (British, using an "s" in place of a "z").

I took my ailing chainsaw into the shop on Tuesday and the mechanic there fixed it on the spot. I told him what happened and he nodded, understanding exactly what happened and what needed to be done. He said that when the chain jumps the guide, the teeth get deformed (I knew that) and that they could be meulées (ground) back into shape (I didn't know that). I asked if it would be easier just to get a new chain and he said oh no, there's plenty of life left in the old chain. He took it off the saw and went to work while I watched. Then he said the cutting elements needed to be sharpened and asked if I wanted him to do that, too. I said yes, and about five minutes later the chain was as good as new and back on the saw. The mechanic has worked on stuff for me before and he knows me. He's always got a smile and knows exactly what to do, and I liked that he fixed the old chain rather than simply sell me a new one at twice the price.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Periodic puppy pics

Callie is used to us having our cameras during our walks and she will often stop and wait more or less patiently while we take pictures. If we're in a grassy spot, she'll take advantage and munch on some grass. Otherwise, she keeps her eyes peeled for rabbits, deer, and other critters.

Callie waits and watches.

We were woken early this morning by thunder and heavy rain on the roof. Callie was spooked by the noise and ran down the stairs barking. The storm didn't last very long and we were all back to sleep after a short while. Weird weather for October.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Monday macros

I realized the other day that I've been favoring my wide-angle zoom lens lately (18-55mm, f3.5-f5.6). I have three other lenses: a telephoto zoom, a fixed 50mm, and a 100mm macro lens. The macro lens is for taking close-up photos and I've posted a lot of them on blog over the past two years. But I don't take the lens out all that often and I want to do more with it. So I'm going to try to use it more. To that end, I'd like to post a macro shot at least once a week on Mondays, hence the title of today's post.

Abandoned grapes, 1/250s, f / 4.5, ISO 320, 100mm.

That said, today's image is not really much of a close-up, but I liked the way it turned out. These are grapes in a vineyard parcel that's been abandoned for over ten years. The vines have been left to grow wild with no pruning, and the fruit is eaten by wildlife or it rots. The grapes are small and sparse compared to those grown on well-tended vines. I wonder who owns the land and if it will ever be turned back into a productive parcel?

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Autumn in the vineyard

Harvesting is done for the season and I assume the juice is fermenting away. Over the next few weeks will see the bernache (partially fermented wine) come out. It's served by the glass at markets, festivals, and winery open houses, and is sold bottled in local supermarkets. Bernache bottle caps have a hole in them to let the fermentation gasses escape, preventing the bottles from exploding! Neighbors once warned us not to drink too much of it because it can have the same effect as prune juice, if you know what I mean. This year's bernache should be nice and sweet given the hot summer we had.

Vineyard leaves turning yellow and gold behind a field of Queen Anne's lace.

We're planning to work in the garden this morning, pulling up tomato plants and other vegetables that are "done." There are quite a few winter squash to bring in before it rains again. I don't want them to rot on the ground. Then we plan to plant a small plot of greens (collards and kale) for a winter crop.