16 March 2008

News and weather bulletins

I awoke at 5:30 this morning to the sound of wind gusting under the eaves of the house and hard rain beating against the metal shutter on the bedroom windows and pounding on the plexi-glass awning just below. The rain gauge is nearly full and it has just started pouring again at 7:30 a.m.

March showers bring... March flowers. And lookhow high the grass is getting. Those planter boxes
are begging to have some impatiens planted in them.

The weather report on the radio just said today would be a typical March day, with hard downpours of rain — les célèbres giboulées de mars — and fierce winds. Gone is the nice sunny weather we had Friday and yesterday morning. The rain came back in at mid-afternoon yesterday.

We actually got out and dug in the dirt a little yesterday morning. I got some weeding done in the plot out front into which I transplanted a rose bush a few weeks ago. The transplanted rose is now starting to grow new branches and leaves. Moving it didn't kill it, in other words. I was afraid it would.

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March skies at La Renaudière

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Today would have been my father's 82nd birthday. He passed away in 1990. It's hard to believe it's been nearly 20 years.

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This week's winds brought down some big dead trees.
They fell right across our path along the edge of the woods.

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Yesterday France lost to Wales in the final match of the Six Nations rugby tournament. Wales won the game by 29 to 12 and is the champion. The French team would have had to beat the Welsh team by 20 points to wrest the rugby championship away from them.

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Here's that goat willow tree (Salix caprea). I posted a picture
of its catkins and new leaves yesterday.

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Today is the final round of voting in France's latest municipal election contests. Thirty-six thousand mayors are being elected in cities, towns, and villages around the country, along with many thousands of town and village councilors.

In Paris, it looks like the Socialist incumbent, Bertrand Delanoë, will be re-elected. In Marseille, the right-wing candidate, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party, is favored slightly over his Socialist Party opponent.

Some predicted a Socialist landslide in the mayoral elections around the country, because Sarkozy's approval ratings have been sagging lately in all the polls. The first round of voting didn't indicate a massive rejection of Sarkozy's party's candidates, but more than 40% of the voters didn't go to polls last week. If many of those voters turn out today, the results could be very different from last week's.

14 March 2008, looking northwest

The centrist MoDem party, headed by former presidential candidate François Bayrou, has allied itself with the Socialist candidates in some towns and cities, but with Sarkozy's UMP candidates in others. Bayrou himself is not assured of carrying the mayor's race in his city of Pau, in the Pyrenees. The centrists, like the abstainers, will play a big role in determining today's results.

Mayoral candidates run with a slate of potential town councilors (called a liste électorale). To win the election a candidate and his list have to win a majority of the votes in either the first or second round of voting. Those who don't win in the first round usually form alliances and coalitions with smaller parties' candidates and slates, constituting a new liste.

In cases where the politicians can't agree to a coalition and three or more listes are still on the ballot for the second round of voting, if no candidate wins an outright majority, the town councilors are apportioned by the percentage of the vote their liste ended up winning. Then the new town council elects a mayor.

It's a fairly elaborate system, as French systems often are.

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14 March 2008, looking east

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I made meatballs in a tomato sauce with carrots, mushrooms, celery, and onions for lunch yesterday. Over pasta, it was delicious.

Today we are having fish fillets and asparagus spears, with a mussels-and-cream sauce. Anybody who shows up by 12:30 can partake. Wear your rain gear if you come to Saint-Aignan.


  1. We in Preuilly have had a socialist maire for a gazillion years (which must make him quite old) but it looks like he has been ousted by a group of local businessmen/women. I think this can only be a good thing - I am not sure how important national politics are in running a small town. The election was run on local issues, which I also approve of. (I am sure the regime will be delighted to hear that..........)

    It appears that the trend towards falling voter numbers was also reversed in Preuilly - 60% turn-out indicates that the retiring maire must have upset a rather large percentage of teh population.

    Good to see winter isnt totally over - I would be peeved if your weather was any better than ours!


  2. Hello Simon, I hope your new municipal leadership won't be too pro-development. I worry about that here.

    A poll I saw showed that most French people prefer having a Socialist mayor. Not sure what that means. Saint-Aignan has a Socialist mayor. I'm not sure what the affiliation of our village's mayor is. I'm assuming he will be re-elected, but I haven't seen any results so far.

    Walt just told me that morning lows are supposed to be around freezing this coming week. Ken

  3. Ken, the news refers to elections municipales et cantonales. What does the cantonales refer to?

  4. Those skies are beautiful.

  5. Ken - emailed you a couple of recipes yesterday. Just wanted to check they made it through your SPAM filter?


  6. I can hear in the tone of your voice...err...writing how sick you are of the rain...Here in Florida we are equally sick of the drought.
    Would love to join you for lunch, but don't think I can make it in time...Besides, in addition to the high cost of a plane ticket, the airlines just starting to charge an extra $50 for a second check in bag...And I don't travel light ;-)

  7. Hi Susan, yes I did get those recipes. Thank you.

  8. Louise, I wasn't sure how to answer your question so I looked at Wikipedia-France. It says « aux élections cantonales, chaque canton élit la personne amenée à le représenter au conseil général du département. » In rural areas, cantons can include several communes. In urban areas, one town or city (a commune) can contain several cantons.

  9. Claudia in Toronto16 March, 2008 16:52

    Wind and rain, here. Snow finally melting. Water running down the sidestreets. Touching my ankles.

    Sorry I missed your good lunch. Will try next time...

  10. How long will it stay warm? Your menus always sound delightful, and when photographed, look delightful. Perhaps the day will come when we could share a meal...wouldn't that be a treat?

    Meilleurs voeux!!


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