Thursday, November 26, 2015

Natalie, redux

She's back!
Disappeared back in April.
Replacements gone.
Sienne getting quite fat, getting the entire packet of good stuff catfood she used to have to share.
Then last Friday, there she was.
I wasn't even home for it. JP was over to feed Sienne while I was away for the weekend, so I didn't see her until Sunday.
But it's true: Natalie is back.
She's not saying where she was all that time, and she's willing to go out at night and when I leave for work in the morning. She's made a cozy nest on the disused rugs I have in the cellar. Sienne is not very welcoming at all. I hope she'll get over that, after all, she's known Natalie all her life.
So every evening it's a question.
How many cats tonight?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Here we are: summer is Over.

All the leaves are off the apricot and the apples and the cherry at the back of the yard, though some of the other trees are hanging on to their color for a while longer. Lots of red from the cherries this year, and the weather has been good for a colorful leafshow.

They say it’s time to trim when the sap falls, so I was out there last weekend cutting a lot of the branches that reach straight up tall where you can’t pick any fruit. There will still be plenty for the birds, don’t worry about that. Now I have a pile of branches to cut up for bbq wood. Before I have too much fun with that, I need to remember to reserve a couple of slim, forked branches for holding up tomatos next year.

The garden is pretty much wrapped up. Some salad and herbs remain, and potatos. I love harvesting potatos; it’s like a treasure hunt for gold nuggets in the earth. But then I have more potatos in the kitchen than we eat in a month, and it’s better to leave them in the ground. I’ve tried keeping them in a cool, dark place, and they are ok in the fridge but my fridge is not very big and there are all those tomatos in there already. I tried the basement, but it’s not cool enough down there and they end up with sprouts 2 feet long and no potato left in the potato skin. So now they stay in the ground as much as I can resist digging them up.  In September, all the plants had withered away & you knew the spuds were ready. Since then it’s been cold at night sometimes, but not that cold and a dozen or so potato plants have come back up as if it were spring already.

The tomatos should move out of the fridge this weekend, if all goes well. About 2 weeks ago I harvested all the green ones and pulled the plants out. It was threatening frost, so it was time. They’ve been getting ripe in the kitchen, each red one going into the fridge. Sunday is tomato canning day, and anybody still green will miss the boat. I have stores of sauce already, and these will be tomato chunks for chili over the winter.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cournon to Dallet

On Sunday, Mariette & I started late on our little stroll. Meant to walk from Cournon to Pont du Chateaux, about 15km along the Allier river. Easy peasy. But with the late start and the constant stops to admire a leaf, a tree, a cloud & etc, we only got as far as Dallet before calling our ride and hightailing it back home for the semifinal All Blacks vs Springboks.


Kinda getting into the rock piling thing.

Bonus discovery: the very best swingset yet encountered in France!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Back to the grind

No, no more pix from September's vacation. It's only been a month already, anyway.
What shall I tell you about?
- The lab's annual collective review, in which our achievements were brushed aside in favor of what's all this quality business about - please stop annoying us with that nonsense.
- The lab's new computer management program, in which you can't open certain windows simultaneously, so you have to keep a file code in your head while navigating.
- The center giving us 2 weeks to collect all the wishes for training next year, and before we can get the lab heads together for a concerted response, the boss just sends the Santa Clause list made by each individual. So much for a concerted, coherent response.
- The internal audit that hammered us on a process they knew in advance was still in development. Yes, we know it is not done.

If not annoyances at work, there's always tanking at bridge. Played badly in competition twice this month, and in regular club play, we're still at the bottom of the list even when we think we've played reasonably well.

Our rugby hopes, crushed by the marvelous All-Blacks.
Just can't win some days, no matter what you do.

Another 6 days before the return of the Card Player.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Boats in the air

Perhaps less picturesque but more fascinating, Boats Not in the water.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Sea Snake at St Brevin

We really only crossed the bridge at St Nazaire for the sake of doing so, the fun of taking that long, high bridge across the river mouth. Who knew there would be a very nice park on the other bank (the north bank being fully occupied with shipping terminals and drydocks and industrial whatnot)? Lots of people, just not me.
We parked with a view of the bridge and the boats moored in the low tide mud, and there was a lot of wind but I decided to walk up the path around the point to see the seaward shore.
That's pretty cool. Even better when half-submerged, I bet.

We did not linger to watch the advancing tide, though. We were on a mission to see if we could get a reasonably-priced adapter to charge my little computer, as I had forgotten mine at home and only had about an hour of bridge to play on line before the thing went dead. That, and then back to Guerande in time for lunch before bridge at the club there.
Two of those three items were completed successfully. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

St Brevin les Pins

 Crossing the bridge from St Nazaire, across the mouth of the Loire, you get a sneak preview of the latest cruise ship in the works. Bigger than any of the buildings around.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Le Croisic and the purchase of proper rain slickers

The weather in Brittany is typically wet, and we did not escape. Neither the bad nor the good lasts for long, so if it's raining you know you can just wait a bit and it will stop. Conversely, if it's sunny, you'd better get out and enjoy it, quick.
So Sunday it was kind of rainy, and eventually enough so that we invested in authentic Bretagne gear - fleece-lined rubber rain slickers. With hoods. The real tradition is bright yellow - the better to see you when you fall overboard, or something - but you can get them in other colors, so mine is RED and JP's is dark blue. Surprise, surprise!

There he is, dry in his blue slicker, under his sailor's cap.

Sunday around the salt flats & Batz sur Mer

Thursday, October 8, 2015

back to the start

Yes, finally. The soon-to-be-retired memory card is giving up its last photos.
Arrival at La Turballe in time for an evening stroll, before crepes & cider in Guerande.
Then in the morning, a walk along the beach.
Ah! A challenge!

I'm trying to get more creative with putting stones on top of other stones. At least once, the balance of one has to depend on the next one on top of it. Hard to do more than that with only 2 hands, but I've seen some pretty fantastic stacks. Not with this wind, though!
Time for breakfast.

Friday, October 2, 2015

La Brière and the Great Dolmen Tour

It turned out to be a glorious afternoon. I was really up for taking a canoe out on the Brière marsh, which is marked on the map as being more water than land. Every last boat I saw for hire, though, had several inches of water in it, even the ones that weren't sinking.
 Otherwise, you can tour the place with one of these, but in fact there's not much to see. Just a large flat area that is more or less soggy, depending.
So instead, we decided to go around and see all of the places on the map with one of those little neolithic site icons. At least the ones not too far away.
 The dolmen at (er, somewhere; I left my notes at home) has cows.
 It's so cute!

 You can get closer, as they've made the fence with a clever opening that cows can't go through.

 They love their dolmen, and defend it fiercely.

 The next one was a menhir, also with cows.

 The next one was not in a pasture, but on a little rise between fields.

 It has frequent picnicers, like this family enjoying an afternoon pause. Surprisingly, we never saw any trash around these ancient monuments, nor the slightest graffiti. They are just quietly appreciated.
The last one was but a jumbled ruin.