14 October 2008


I awoke with a start at 7:00 this morning and stumbled into the kitchen to make some tea and wash up a few stray dishes. Walt made a banana pie late yesterday afternoon so the food processor, a whisk, and a couple of mixing bowls were sitting in the sink.

I was still messing around in the kitchen, listening to France Inter radio, when I heard an announcer say: Il est 7h26. That's when I remembered that our electricity is supposed to be cut off at 8:00 this morning, for about three hours.

They are "undergrounding" the wires down in the village center. That must be the reason for the cut this morning. I wish they would put the lines in our hamlet underground, but that's not in the plans, as far as I know.

I could ask the mayor about it, but she and her husband are leaving tomorrow for a couple of weeks in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. Walt talked to her briefly yesterday when he was out on the road trimming the hedge.

All the thinking about electricity made me think about the gas cookstove we bought three months ago. Yes, it's been three months. And we are still using the first tank of butane that we hooked up to it.

That's pretty good economy, I think, when you consider that the tank cost just 15 euros. Better cooking than we had before, with that unregretted vitro-céramique cooktop, and for just five euros a month.

The stove is great. I still use the electric plaque on top to cook long-simmered dishes, but for most everything else we use the gas burners. The oven is also electric. I don't think we've seen a significant drop in our electric bills since we got the stove, because we do use the oven a lot.

The only problem we've had with the Brandt cuisinière mixte — electricity and gas — has to do with — don't expect to be surprised — the electronics. Twice over the past three months the stove's computerized controls have gone haywire. The timer function malfunctioned once, and then again, when we pressed the button. The time displayed kept going up, up, up until we finally started punching buttons to try to get it to stop. It wouldn't.

And the worst thing was that when we turned on the oven during one of these episodes the temperature would immediately go up to the highest setting and there was no way to bring it back down. You can't really cook most dishes at 500ºF.

The solution was to go downstairs and flip the breaker for the stove circuit on our electric panel. Luckily it is marked. Wait three or four minutes, and then turn it back on. The stove came back on, we reset the hours and minutes on the display, and everything started working again. It hasn't malfunctioned since early September, if I remember correctly.

It will still be nearly dark at 8:00. If they really do turn off the current at that hour, we will literally be plunged into darkness inside the house. Maybe I should have stayed in bed this morning. On second thought, it's my turn to go on a walk with Callie. I guess I'll go get dressed.

The weather here is warm and sunny. We sat out on the terrace until about 8:00 p.m. yesterday, in tee-shirts. Nice for mid-October.

Included here are a few more colorful grapevine leaves. Remember that you can click the pictures with the mouse to see them full-size. Then click the Back button to return to the page with text on it.

P.S. Mais on a l'air de quoi,
là ?
I went out for the morning walk with Callie and when I got back home at 8:40 or so, I could see lights on in the house. As I walked in, Walt said he had pulled out the letter from Electricité de France to read it again. The 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. power cut is scheduled for mardi, 28 octobre, not today! Oh well, something to look forward to. We will have forgotten all about it by then and we'll be taken by surprise.


  1. I've been soooo loving your autumn photos.... we have very little color change here so far this year. Just at the tops of trees where the sun has really been hitting.

    Will it really be dark still at 8:00 a.m.? Imagine what it will be like on October 28th! Our sun is usually up by 7-ish, even in the winter. Having to drive to work in the pitch black for months at a time is a drag though (I leave around 6:30 a.m.).

    Happy Autumn! What's for dinner today??


  2. Ken,

    We had the exact same problem set with our washing machine. We fooled around with it for three years, three years, and then finally admitted that there was a fault in the electronics and insisted on getting a new one from the dealer. It turned out that we were only one of many with the same problem. We got a whole new machine, with new electronics of course, and not one problem since.I thing maybe you had better talk to the dealer where you got it.

    And what lovely pictures every day!

    Dennis Martin

  3. Hi Judy, on overcast days like today (warm but gray) it is still fairly dark at 8:00, especially indoors. The sun rises at 8:15 a.m. or so right now.

    Right after Oct. 28, we will go back on heure d'hiver and sunrise will be an hour earlier. But so will sunset. Those are going to be the dark, gloomy days of winter.

    Dinner today (we eat our main meal at noontime) was lasagne with eggplant and bolognese sauce. Plus a salade à la crème, with crème fraîche, mashed garlic, salt, pepper, hot paprika, and lemon juice as the dressing.

    Dennis, we have a two-year warranty on the stove. If it continues to act up, we'll call Darty for a repair or a replacement. Other than the electronics glitch, the stove is great. Ken


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