21 February 2006

21 February 2006

Météo France, the national weather service, predicted snow for this morning. I just looked outdoors — no snow yet. And the temperature on our outdoor thermometer is +2.6ºC. I don't think it's cold enough to snow. I suppose the temperature could drop this morning.

It's February, which mean that the cyclamens are blooming in the back yard. The next flowers we see will be primroses but we see no signs of them yet. Here are the cyclamens, which are wild ones with very small pink flowers.

Cyclamen leaves are pretty and almost outshine the flowers.

* * *

My hospitalized friend is scheduled to be released to a clinic tomorrow, Wednesday. She'll spend a month there. As far as I know, tests haven't found anything seriously wrong with her since the attack she had in my car on the way to Blois. My friend Chris P. told me there is such a thing as a stroke that goes away -- a "transient ischemic attack" or TIA. The symptoms listed here correspond to what I saw happen to my friend (thanks for the link, Chris):
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
The only difference between a stroke and a TIA is that the symptoms of a TIA are temporary and leave no lasting damage, according to the site. But they need to be treated immediately. Luckily, we were not far from the hospital when it happened.

* * *

Yesterday it rained most of the day but Sunday afternoon was nice (after a rainy morning). And there were no hunters out back. Maybe hunting season is winding down. Collette and I went out for our usual walk in the vineyard. The poor old dog was not moving very fast. I think she might have another arthritis attack coming on. Last night, she fell off the foot of the bed in the dark. She didn't hurt herself. Her night vision is also not what it used to be.

The wall of the old vineyard-workers' shed on the gravel road out back.
It has grape vines trained up on its walls — table grapes, I believe.

One of the nicest aspects of living here is being on the edge of the vineyards and on a road with no traffic on it (because the pavement ends right behind our property). Collette never has to be on the leash any more, the way she had to be when we lived in Sunnyvale and then in San Francisco.

The gravel road through the vines with the house in the distance.

Sunday afternoon the temperature was close to 50ºF and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds for a few minutes. Something unusual happened: I crossed paths with a man I didn't know who was also taking a walk out there. Usually there's nobody on the road, unless workers are out pruning the vines.

Farther from the house, puddles on the road and a cloudy sky.

The dog loves to walk down the rows between the grapevines. She seems to think it's fun to take a row parallel to the one I'm on and watch to see if we end up at about the same place at the end. We do.

La Renaudière in the distance, beyond the bare winter vines.

Some people reading this might think: "Can't this guy take pictures of something else?" But no, this is where I spend my time. I have to keep practicing with my new camera, don't I?

Evidence of recent rains.

We have finally had some rain, but still not enough. Most of France has been in drought conditions for at least a year now. Many départements (i.e. counties) had water restrictions last summer and fall. In our département, Loir-et-Cher, we weren't under restrictions, while neighboring departments were. I think it's because we don't have a big city in the département — the largest is Blois, with about 75,000 inhabitants. The more people there are, the more water gets used. Cities in neighboring départements — Tours, Bourges, Orléans — are two or three times as big as Blois.

* * *

As I type I'm listening to a program about genealogy on France Inter radio. One of the genealogists just said that 50% of the French people are thought to be descended from Charlemagne. Is that possible?

Charles I, who became known as Charlemagne, was king of the Franks from 768 to 814 A.D., and Emperor of the Western Empire for the last 15 of those years. His mother was Berthe au Grand Pied — Bertha with the Big Foot, an allusion to her having one foot bigger than the other, according to legend -- and his eldest son was Pépin, who was known as Le Bossu — The Humpback.

Maybe I'm descended from Charlemagne! My first name is Charles. Charlemagne's dynasty was called the Carolingians, and I'm from Carolina. Hmmm.


  1. You don't want to be descended from Charlemagne, really, do you? Too much inbreeding. The 50% number sounds implausible, but, then, what do I know? Did Charlemagne have short legs?

    I love the anecdote about Collette going up a different path than you in the vineyards. I hope her arthritis gets better as the weather warms up.

    Beautiful cyclamens!

  2. I don't think you can choose your ancestors! Why the question about Charlemagne's short legs?

    Collette gets a big smile on her face when she can play the I'm-on-a-different-row game. Her step lightens and her pace quickens. It's very funny.

  3. Jill's father suffered through multiple TIAs the last decade of his life. It eventually developed into a mild dementia. Although we can't say for certain the two were completely related, he didi seem to become a bit more demented after each of his later attacks. e ventually passed away at the age of 88.

  4. Our Lucy always took a separate path home like Collette. She was a slow mover and wanted to be carried the first part of our walk, but as soon as we turned toward home, she was like a Greyhound! She took pride at watching us return up the hill-- she was always the first one home. Must be a dog thing

    I love the cyclamens- I've never seen them growing in the wild.

  5. Have you considered giving Collette
    glucosamine chondroitin for her
    arthritis? Friends of mine give it to their 15-year-old dog with
    excellent results -- they get in
    powdered form. Do believe it is
    widely used in Europe -- don't know
    about the veterinary formula, tho'.
    I take it myself every day with
    great results, helps those creaky
    knees, etc.

  6. Peter, I'm coming to believe our friend is showing some signs of such dementia too. It's sad to watch.

    Sarah, our vet here in Saint-Aignan has prescribed treatments for Collette using a product called Agilium, which contains chondroitin. Here's a web site:


    Collette had a three-week treatment last fall that did her much good. The vet said to repeat the three-week treatments as needed. It's probably time for another one.

  7. "Maybe I'm descended from Charlemagne! My first name is Charles. Charlemagne's dynasty was called the Carolingians, and I'm from Carolina. Hmmm."

    Alors, là, tu pousses un peu, non, lol ?!!!/Don't you think you're overdoing it?!!!

    Je suis comme Ginny, j'adore l'anecdote selon laquelle notre Collette prend un chemin parallèle au tien et s'en amuse :-) Et je peux imaginer Collette et son sourire, maintenant que je la connais :-)

    Comme tu le dis, il doit être temps de lui redonner son traitement... Bonne soirée ! Marie


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?