Saturday, April 18, 2015

What's on tv

This week's cover features actor François-Xavier Demaison in a new mini-series that starts on Wednesday. To me, the series sounds like a formula cop/mystery/soap opera thing in which a young girl goes missing and everyone's dirty laundry comes out while they search for what happened to her. Think "Twin Peaks" or, the one we're watching now, "Broadchurch."

NBA playoffs live on the BeIN Sports Network! That's Tony Parker pictured, a French guy who plays in the NBA.

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.

Here's another weather disaster. And disaster seems to be the key word. The original title was "Jet Stream," according to the IMDb.

Tornado Apocalypse. Canadian/American made-for-tv movie. Directed by J. S. Lando, 2013.
With David Chokachi, Ruth Kearny, and Preston James Hillier.
Following a weather anomaly, tornados begin sweeping away everything in their paths. A scientist works to end the catastrophe.
Devastating tornadoes very badly done, characters that are empty and hollow, and lackluster directing.
For adults and children over 10.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Pup in the grass

Callie likes to sit (and roll) in the grass when it's been newly cut. She also likes it any other time. Here she is in one of her favorite spots just after chasing down a tennis ball. You can't see it in the photo, but one of the balls is between her paws; the other is on the ground just to the left of her.

Callie peeks out from behind the patch of daisies. They're small now, but will grow up to about 3 feet.

The forsythia, on the right, is just about done blossoming and the leaves are replacing the flowers now. The prunus, in the middle, is in full flower. On the left is the big apple tree, and its blossoms are just starting to open. Before long, it will be all green leaves.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Time for a cool change

Wednesday was a warm one. I measured just over 27ºC (80ºF) on our deck during the afternoon. That is certainly more like high summer here than the middle of April. Sleeping last night was difficult. With most of the windows open, the sounds of the night seemed amplified. Twice I could hear caterwauling outside and our neighbor yelling, "Fous le camp! (Get out of here!)," presumably at our Bert. When the cat howls, Callie jumps up barking and bolts down the stairs. It's enough to stop your heart. And it happened twice before midnight.

I think this is a lamier pourpre (deadnettle). They're everywhere right now.

Once all that calmed down just after midnight, I could hear a dog barking in the distance. Why someone would leave a dog outside overnight, constantly barking, is beyond me. Then, just as I started to drift off, the toads in the pond out back began their very loud croaking. I finally had to shut the windows on that side of the house. It's going to take some time to get used to summer weather.

But not just yet. The weather is changing and it will not be so warm, at least for a while. We're expecting cooler air to move in during the day today.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hot time

The weather people keep telling us that our current weather resembles July. It's very nice for April, that is true, with high temperatures in our area in the low 20s (low to mid 70sF). Today is expected to be the warmest day this week before we plunge back into more seasonable weather, with rain.

Wooden posts in the vineyard.

We've been sleeping with the windows open; the loft gets warm in this weather. Night brings familiar sounds of owls and croaking toads mixed with the low hum of cars on the distant autoroute and the occasional train speeding through the valley. When I get up during the night, the sky is crystal clear and the stars are brilliant. If, indeed, July (and August) are like this, we will be lucky.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How green was my hamlet

It's getting there. The leaves are coming, at least the ones on the trees. It will be a while longer before the vineyards leaf out. This stretch of warm weather is helping a lot, though.

The leaves are coming! The leaves are coming!

And now the European clay court season is under way in Monte Carlo. Men's clay court tennis started last week with tournaments in Houston, USA, and Casablanca in Morocco. But this week they're playing dirtball on the continent, working their way toward Roland Garros in Paris at the end of May.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sunny wall

One of the routes that Callie and I walk through the vineyards takes us past one of the old vineyard sheds, most of which are no longer used. This one has no door and is open to the elements, weeds, and wildlife. The only use it gets is as a repository for old water bottles that may or may not get used to protect new vines. On this morning, the rising sun made shadows on the structure's concrete block wall.

The pointy thing in the middle is part of the hinge where the door was.

We're expecting our good weather to continue and we'll be trying to get as much done in the yard and garden as we can through the week. Callie will enjoy rolling in the grass, chasing balls, and hunting lizards.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The road to ruin is littered with dashed hopes

Someone's lottery scratcher did not produce a win, so it was carelessly tossed out of a car window onto the side of the road. The ticket's pretty colors will compete with the wildflowers until rain and sunlight cause it to decompose. Once again, I did not pick up this piece of litter I encountered on a recent walk with Callie.

I like the flowers better.

While there isn't a lot of litter around here, we do find curious things along the roads and paths from time to time. Mostly we see used shotgun shells. There is also a busted clay pigeon or two. Crumpled tissues, crushed cigarette packs, and empty beer cans show up periodically, although none in great quantity. A few times, someone used the woods as a dump for broken floor tiles, old appliances, and miscellaneous pieces of household trash (these were quickly cleaned up by the town). I remember wondering why someone would pack that stuff up and dump it in the woods when there are free dumping facilities within a few kilometers. A while back we discovered the rusted out shell of an abandoned car in the woods, all overgrown with vines and weeds. After a couple of years, it disappeared, but we have no idea who took it away. I once saw a couple of used condoms on the ground at the end of the dirt road that runs through the vineyard. Yuck. I used a stick to move them into a ditch and covered them with leaves so the dog would not get curious.