26 June 2008

Days of color and warmth

A butterfly on the window in the sunporch

I think I finally have the monitor adjusted. It was a process of trial and error that took me many hours yesterday and the day before. I had to change the settings of the monitor itself so that it displayed minimal color, high brightness, and medium contrast. Then I used the settings in the video driver of my computer's graphics card to overlay color, brightness, and contrast settings that produced the desired result.

Yellow flowers on the edge of the vineyard

A juvenile jackdaw that I saw in Vendôme the other day.
Jackdaws are Eurasian and are the smallest of the crows.

With two sets of adjustments to juggle with, it was complicated. But using only the monitor's or only the computer's settings wasn't working. They had to be balanced against each other. Now I have a widescreen monitor that runs in 1440 x 900 resolution and gives me a larger on-screen workspace. The monitor itself cost less than $300 (€200 or so, and that may explain why it was so hard to adjust). I actually bought it to use it as a television set, but then decided I needed it more as a computer monitor.

The cactus CHM brought me from America is flowering

Little pink flowers on the edge of the vineyard

The weather yesterday was just beautiful. I took two walks with the dog and took a lot of pictures. I did a little bit of cleanup work in the garden (there is always a lot of work to be done out there). We got our vegetable garden in very late this year because we were so busy in April, May, and June, but if the weather continues like this we should get good results.

Sitting in the back yard on a warm sunny day

Another shot of the cactus flower

In this post I'm including some photos, partly for the colors again, but also because they give you an idea of what the weather and the vegetation around here is like right now. There are little flowers everywhere. The flowers that are looking the saddest right now are the roses, which peaked last week. Roses grow in peoples yards and gardens, not out in the vineyard, by the way.


  1. The colours are splendid ... almost better than before. Congratulations!

  2. Your butterfly is a Map Butterfly Araschina levana, fairly common in France, but unusual in that the spring and summer broods are completely different looking. Yours is a summer phase specimen.
    The yellow flowers are Ragwort Senecio, considered by many to be a terrible weed. It is very poisonous to stock, especially horses, and landowners in the UK are legally required to remove the most common species. It is however, the host plant of the very beautiful red and black Cinnabar Moth and its nectar is loved by many sorts of insects. There are a number of very similar species, and I can't ID it to that level from your photo.
    The perky pink guys are Centaury Centaurium, very deep rooted and often an indicator that the subsoil is calcareous. Again, several similar species and I'd need to see the plant to ID to species level.

  3. Ken, I realize one of the reasons I'm so drawn to reading your blog, and Walt's, every day... it's like having Julia and Paul back! :) I've been a big Julia Child fan since I was a little girl (and my mom used to watch The French Chef in b&w on PBS)... I so enjoyed reading her biography (and the one about her life in France), and missed it when it was over. You two remind me of them... such great appreciators of good, fresh food, good restaurants when you travel, working together to create wonderful meals, talking about your recipes and the preparation, and then also enjoying traveling around and documenting where you go.... you even lived in California, where Julia was originally from :)) So... hope you don't mind the comparison, but it just really struck me yesterday.

    I made your tajine recipe from a couple of days ago. It was delissshhh... may I ask... what kind of pot did you use? Did you use a real tajine? If you don't have a tajine, do you think the recipe works best in a roasting-type pan (one of that shallowness.... like 6 inches deep)? I made mine in a larger, deeper pot... like a big, deep stew pot. It turned out good, but I had the impression I was making it into much more of a sloshy stew than yours looked like. I probably put more water than you... maybe 1-1/2 cups. What do you think is best for the success, and what should the final consistency be? Thanks!


  4. judy, I just wanted to respond to your comment... I've always admired Julia Child. I've watched almost all of her TV shows - I have several DVDs of her stuff - and I really enjoyed the book about her and Paul's years in France. She has been a great inspiration in my life, as far as cooking goes. I learned a lot from watching her.

    I think what I learned most was that French food is not scary. It's real, simple, and accessible. I see affirmation of Julia's techniques nearly every day here in France, and that's really cool.

    I think her attitude toward food, cooking, and eating, translates into a fine philosophy of life.

    Ken's ideas about food and wine and life in general are pretty much the same. Maybe that's why we enjoy life together. It's a wonderful way to look at things.

    I'd like to think that I've lived up to my version of her ideal. I probably have some progress left to make, but I'm well on my way.

    As Julia always said, bon appétit!

  5. Hi Ken,

    First, it might just be me, but it looks like the yellow in the cactus blossom might be a bit on the green side (of course it might be that way in real life, in which case, your colors are balanced perfectly).

    Second, I can answer the question you asked theysaywords -- because he or she is paid to. There's a new viral marketing model that's springing up where people are paid to post comments on blogs that include the advertiser's URL in the comment signature. The commenter is paid for each verified comment that stays live for a 5-day capture period. I came across this in my research for the piece I'm writing about our new blogging product and marveled at the ingeniousness of it all. "arlene's" comment fits the profile exactly -- totally useless but inoffensive. Your instincts in deleting those comments were dead on. I'd be very surprised if you heard from "arlene" again.

    Another interesting thing about this business model is its pyramid nature. I recruit you to post comments and get a cut of your take. You recruit Walt and we both get a cut of his take. And if he reels in CHM and Cheryl, we can both retire.


  6. Susan, I learn so much from your comments! I always enjoy learning about flora and fauna. And now I've learned about mysterious posts and pyramid schemes. If you have any ideas about more easy ways to retire, I'm all ears.

  7. Cheryl, LOL!!!!

    "If you have any ideas about more easy ways to retire"

    I know you just forgot to add the words "in France" to your comment, so I'm doing it for you.


  8. I agree with Susan #2, the yellow of the cactus flower is very slightly on the greenish side as I recall seeing that bloom. But it could be just the quality of light at the time Ken took the picture. In any case, all these photos are strikingly good.

  9. Thanks, BettyAnn, that's just what I needed! "In France!"

  10. So that "In France" comment reminded me of a game we used to play at work. Going out to Chinese restaurants.. When you open your fortune cookie, append the words "in the sack" to your fortunes. It does elicit giggles many times!

  11. I think that, in reality, the cactus flower is actually a little on the greenish side, as the picture shows it.

  12. Cheryl, much as I would love to claim credit for such erudition, I must point out that there are two Susans who regularly post comments on Ken's blog.

    There's the Susan of Susan and Simon, who lives in the UK (I think) and is so very knowledgeable about all sorts of growing things. And then there's me, just plain Susan, who can tell the difference between flora (planted in dirt) and fauna (not), but that's about it. I'm an old writing buddy of Ken's and live across the bay from you. But please feel free to think of me as being as clever as the other Susan if you'd like (grin).


  13. Hi Susan in California (!), I deleted Arlene's latest comment. I can't figure out why a florist shop in Puyallup, Washington, would want to advertise on my blog. Did you look at Arlene's blog? It's all poetry.

  14. Hi Judy, I didn't use a tajine to make the chicken with carrots. The tajine I have wasn't big enough. But I did use a big terracotta dish that I have a lid for, and I cooked the dish in the oven. I don't think you need to put in that much water. I don't think the chicken should actually cook in liquid, but just have some liquid around it in the bottom of the pan. You'd have to put in a lot more spices if you used that much water.


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