03 July 2022

House Guests and Feasting

The internet connection came back on yesterday morning at about 7:00. There were several brief outages over the course of the morning, but by noon the situation stabilized and we've found everything working again this morning.

Our house guests, Peter and Jill, have been here since Wednesday afternoon. They are the first friends to sleep here since 2019. We haven't really been out touring, unless you include walks with Natasha out in the vineyard. Instead, we've gone shopping a few times and we've spent the days cooking, eating, and catching up, with a lot of reminiscing. On Thursday I made a big batch of couscous with a lot of vegetables, some guinea hen leg-and-thigh sections, and braised chunks of leg of lamb meat, along with merguez sausages (made with lamb, beef, and spices). We ate more of it on Saturday.

On Friday, we bought blood sausages (boudins noirs), rillettes (potted pork), and rillons (braised cubes of pork belly), a pan gratin dauphinois (scalloped potatoes with cream and cheese), some céleri rémoulade (grated celery root in a mayonnaise/mustard/cream dressing), some salade de betteraves (cooked cubes of red beet and chopped shallot dressed in vinaigrette). All that came from a local charcuterie/boucherie (a delicatessen). Today will be P and J's last full day here, and the feast will continue.

     Here are a few remaining Arc de Triomphe photos I wanted to post.


02 July 2022

We're baaaack... for the moment

I can't tell you why the internet connection has suddenly started working. I've been experimenting with different settings in the router, but it's so complicated I couldn't tell you what I might have changed that re-established the connection. We'll just keep working with it until it fails again. I'm supposed to get a call from a technician on the the ISP's staff Monday morning.

Meanwhile, here are some photos of the last of the four "monumental" hauts-reliefs on the exterior walls of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It's commonly known as La Marseillaise, and is widely considered to be the most spectacular and interesting of all the sculpture on the Arc. The sculptor was François Rude (1784-1855).

01 July 2022

En panne

Our internet connection conked out yesterday in the evening. I haven't yet been able to connect today. A friend is visiting and has set up a hotspot using his iPhone so that I can post this short message. Walt can't blog, and neither can I. I'm waiting now for a callback to schedule an appointment with a technician from our ISP/phone company. Maybe we'll be back on line tomorrow. Bonne journée

30 June 2022

L'Arc de Triomphe : les hauts-reliefs (2)

My photos from September 2007. They can be enlarged to display more detail.

« La Paix de 1815 » d'Antoine Etex (left).
« Triomphe de Napoléon » de Jean-Pierre Cortot (right)

29 June 2022

L'Arc de Triomphe : les hauts-reliefs (1)

Here's one of the four large haut-relief statues that are on the front and back of the Arc de Triomphe. The sculptor was an artist named Antoine Etex (1808-1880), and the title of the work is La Résistance de 1814. I took these photos in September 2007 using a Panasonic Lumix TZ3 compact digital camera. I'm posting two full views of the work taken from different angles, and then two details. All of the photos can be enlarged.



P.S. Yesterday I put diesel fuel in the Citroën. At yesterday's exchange rate, it cost me $8.50 per U.S. gallon. So for nine gallons I paid over $76US. And by the way, we got the check back from the disappointing contractor yesterday, after we sent him a check for a thousand euros for the work he actually did out in the garden shed. With the new check I sent a self-addressed stamped envelope for the return of the 18-month-old check he had been holding for all that time. Now we don't have to worry about that check (about $2,000) being deposited and paid.

28 June 2022

L'Arc de Triomphe : une idée de sa grandeur

L'arc de triomphe de l'Étoile, often called just l'Arc de Triomphe stands at the top of the avenue des Champs-Élysees on the place de l'Étoile. The arch is 50 meters (164 ft.) tall. It was ordered built by Napoleon Bonaparte and its construction took 80 years (1806-1836). Napoleon had been defeated at Waterloo in 1815 and ended up in exile. The Cadogan guidebook for Paris says that the arch "is not a tribute to Napoleon, although it certainly would have been had the emperor been around to finish it. The arch commemorates the armies of the Revolution..."

I think the photos above give an idea of the scale of the arch.

P.S. I'm still having a lot of trouble with our internet connection. My posting may be erratic for a few days. Besides, we have house guests arriving tomorrow, and we are really busy making the house ready after two years of confinement. And then yesterday there were reports that Covid19 is surging again in parts of France, most notably in Toulouse and the southwest. Wish us luck.

27 June 2022

L'arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile...

...en trois images. The three images are different crops and zooms of the same photo. I took it on August 26, 2015, from the top of the Tour Montparnasse. My friends Evelyn and Lewis were in Paris at the time I went up to spend a day or two with them. On one day, we had lunch with CHM in a restaurant near his apartment.

26 June 2022

Nouvelle série : l'Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile

I've been to the Arc de Triomphe, at the top of the avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, countless times over the past 52 years. I've been under it, around it, and on top of it. I've seen it up close and from afar. One time I went there and took a lot of photos was in 2007, with CHM. It boggles my mind to think that was 15 years ago. I'm going to do a one-photo-a-day series about it over the next week or two.

On another subject, we're having a lot of trouble with our internet connection right now. It started yesterday morning. When I turned on my computer, it wasn't connected to the internet. I restarted the router and it connected, but then the television froze. I think that's because it too was connected to the internet and it froze when the connnection was interrupted. I had to restart the decoder box by doing a hard reset. This morning it did the same thing. Yesterday afternoon the connection was dropped too. This morning, including right at this moment, the DSL is again dsconnected.

25 June 2022

Summer fruit, chilly weather

Saint-Aignan is in the process of getting a new "downtown" these days. On the south side, outside the old medieval quarter, a new shopping area is being developed. The Super U supermarché out there is being turned into un hypermarché, expanding to twice its former size. A fairly recent addition to the neighborhood is a big produce market called Terre Y Fruits — a name I don't really understand, but a concept I really like. Another big store in the neighborhood is called Cassy's. It's a bread bakery and pastry bakery combined, with a big parking area and both indoor and outdoor seating for people who want to have tea or coffee and a sandwich or sweet pastry.

There are two reasons for so much new development. One is the presence of the Zooparc de Beaval just a few minutes farther south. Annually, hundreds of thousands (maybe a million) visit the zoo to see its white tigers, manatees, exotic birds, and, especially, its giant pandas from China. All those people — whole families, including countless children of course — need places to buy groceries and eat breakfast and lunch. And they need parking, since I'm sure nearly 100% of them arrive by car. There are at least three new hotels nearby, and another one under construction. More and more houses and apartments around the town are being turned into vacation rentals (gîtes ruraux, Air Bnbs, etc.) You should see the miles-long traffic backups across the area on fine weekend days in summer and during school holidays year-round.

I certainly don't like the traffic, but it's not heavy 365 days a year the way it was in the San Francisco Bay Area. But I do like the bread and pastries from Cassy's (made and baked on site, they say) and, especially, the fresh produce at Terre Y Fruits. It seems to be very well managed, with reasonable prices and beautiful fruits and vegetables that seem to be carefully carefully maintained so you seldom see anything in the store that looks like it's past its prime. Above is a photo of some of the priduce I bought there yesterday morning — apricots, plums, cherries, etc. I also got delicious tomatoes and two of the most perfect avocados I've ever seen, along with a big head of local lettuce of a type (salade multifeuilles) I'd never seen before.

Meanwhile, we're having a rainy weekend with high temperatures in the upper 60s in ºF (between 15 and 20 in ºC). It definitely feels chilly. That brief idea about getting some kind of air-conditioning in the house seems like a distant dream. Or nightmare.

24 June 2022

Cars I've owned and still own

I don't think I would ever have believed that I would own two French cars at the same time. But that's what happened back in 2015 when I bought my Citroën C4, and I still have and drive them both. You might have the idea that Citroën only makes or made the 2CV, but the company makes a full range of automobiles of different sizes. In the picture below, the C4 is the grayish-colored car. The car behind it is my pale blue Peugeot 206, which I bought when we first came to live here in 2003.

As for the Citroën [see-tro-'ehn], I was planning to take it in for service about now. The last time it was serviced was a year ago. At the time, its odometer read 100,400 kilometers. Right now, the odometer shows 102,400. That means we've driven it two thousand kilometers (1,200 miles) in 12 months — an average of 100 miles a month. In fact, I've only put 12,000 miles (20,000 kilometres) since I bought it seven years ago. At the end of my career in the SF Bay area, I was driving 100 miles a day just to get to work and back from our house in San Francisco to my job in Silicon Valley.

Above is a picture of my Peugeot 206 that I took this morning. To me it still looks and drives like a new car. I think it's the best car I've ever owned, and certainly the one I've owned the longest (19 years). It has nearly 200,0000 kilometers (120,000 miles) on it. It's almost 22 years old. I put as many kilometers on the Peugeot annually as I put on the Citroën. With fuel prices what they are right now, it's just as well.

Over the course of my life I've owned four new cars: a 1984 Subaru, a 1990 VW Jetta, and two VW Passats (1993 and 1996 models). I've also owned a used 1966 Ford Fairlane and a used 1973 Renault 4L. Only the 1990 Jetta (and possibly the 1973 Renault) was more fun to drive than the Peugeot, which still looks like a new car. Just above is a photo of the other French car I've owned, a Renault 4 that looks like the one I had in Paris in 1981-82. The much larger and more comfortable 2007 Citroën C4 is almost 15 years old already, but you'd never know it. I bought the Peugeot and Citroën, both used, here in Saint-Aignan.