30 October 2008

Laying eggs

Yesterday I opened up a blog I have read regularly for a while now only to learn that the author has decided to stop posting. It was called "L.A. en vie" and the writer, Sedulia, has an inviting writing style and an interesting point of view. She said she felt like she didn't have much to say any more. She's at least the third blogger I know of who has pulled the plug recently.

Callie stalking something

Sedulia, an American, moved from Paris to Los Angeles a year or more ago after spending many years in Europe. When she lived in Paris, she published the blog called Rue Rude — you might remember it. She said she would post there again on future trips to Paris.

Every once in a while, we all feel the way Sedulia does right now. It comes in waves. These days, I don't have too much to say either. Everything I write seems to me to describe a fairly humdrum existence. I'm not complaining or feeling sorry for myself — every day I'm busy with garden and yard work, cooking, house cleaning and organizing, dog walking, and reading blogs and newspaper articles on the Internet.

The vineyard yesterday afternoon

But I think I've described all that over and over again on this blog. I refuse to start writing about U.S. politics, even though that would be a natural thing for an American to do at this point in time.

You're probably a little bored with my topics, as am I these days. But I don't plan to stop posting. Soon something interesting will happen around here and I'll write about it.

Meanwhile, I hope these local newspaper articles will give you a little of the flavor of local life here in the Loir-et-Cher department of France. Here's one from yesterday's paper. As you'll see, it's not about elections, murders, financial crises, or any of the other big subjects of the day. Ce sont des petites scènes de la vie de tous les jours comme on la connaît en Val de Loire — little word paintings of everyday life in the Loire Valley.
Market seller doesn’t put all her eggs in one basket
With her farm products, Sandrine Ruby respects the cycles of nature.” The items she sells, including goat cheeses and eggs, are guaranteed to be “garden-fresh.”

For eight years now, faithful customers have been returning to the Coty neighborhood market in Blois on Wednesdays to see the young farmer from the Ferme aux oiseaux — The Bird Farm — at Les Hermites in the Indre-et-Loire department. Nicole, a retiree, is one of them. “Here, the vendor is a nice friendly person and the quality is guaranteed, with products that are a good value for the price,” she says

“We have about a hundred goats in our pasture,” says Sandrine. “Our cheeses are made exclusively with their milk, and we age the cheeses naturally. I make cheeses in the shape of logs, disks, and the little round ones called crottins. Sometimes I add some color by rolling the cheeses in herbs or chopped walnuts. In season, I sell chicken, quail, duck, and turkey eggs, all of them “fresh from the garden,” Sandrine says with a chuckle. The amount of cheese she makes depends on the amount of milk her goats produce at different times of the year.

“In November, we don’t milk them because they are getting ready to kid. With eggs, it’s the same thing. We respect the natural cycles, and we don’t force-feed our animals to increase production. So today, for example, I don’t have any chicken eggs to sell because the hens didn’t lay any.”

From time to time, Sandrine also brings to market ostrich eggs that have been laid by friends’ birds.

“An ostrich egg is equal to 24 chicken eggs. And it contains less fat so it’s good if you have a cholesterol problem,” according to Sandrine, who also sells honey and oil produced by another friend. “That helps liven up my display,” she says.
I just opened the back door to see what's going on out there. It's snowing. More precisely, there's a mix of rain and snow falling. It's not sticking. The temperature is just a degree or two above freezing. Not even Callie wants to go outside in that.


  1. Good morning, Ken. While I'm waiting for the sunrise here, I'm reading your blog, as I do to start most mornings. I am not bored with it, ever. Even when you repeat things, there's always something fresh in what you show or say. The way you live interests me, not merely that you're in France while you do it.

    Years back I would write letters to friends telling them what we did in the garden, what flowers were in bloom, home renovation progress, and one said, You write letters about such dull things, but somehow it's interesting!

    Maybe that's why I find your blog so satisfying; we have many of the same interests.

  2. Same here for me. You know, in the early days of broadcasting, the BBC would quite often say "There is no news tonight" (I wish!).

    I like the French phrase "faits divers". It's the skateboarding ducks and such-like that remind us what real life actually is.

  3. Ken, I agree with Carolyn and autolycus. I never find your blog boring. I love reading about what you and Walt made for dinner, and getting new recipes from you. I love seeing scenes of what nature has to offer around you at whatever time of year it is. I love seeing what your house looks like and what you've been doing in and around it. I love seeing photos of little Callie's various antics while on walks with you or Walt. In short, I just love seeing and hearing about the everyday life you live. I'd even be interested in what you watch on TV and movies, because it has to do with what is available to everyday French people. I love reading your insights about picking up and moving to another country, and I love hearing about where you buy your food and why it was from X market instead of Y market, for example. I would even enjoy photos inside of the grocery stores you shop at. I love hearing about your memories of this trip or that, and I love learning new words here and there from your adventures.

    I live vicariously through your blog, and I really enjoy it!


  4. I second judy's comments......since I am not living in france, i am thrilled to start my day reading about the daily happenings (or lack thereof) in the Loire valley...somehow, dog walks & trips to the market r so much more fun in france!!! You actually did what I always wanted to do......even down to the exact same area I had chosen as a great location.....so please keep up the blogging....

  5. That's exactly what I've said all along!

  6. Carolyn and I do the same thing while" waiting for the sunrise..."

    Carry on, Ken. We love it.

  7. I keep learning about a lot of things from your region and France. Plus the pics are great to look at and the recipes you provide have been a life-saver for me on some occasions. Through your blog I have "met" other readers/bloggers who are also interested in "your simple life" :-)

    Bonne continuation Ken

  8. Hi Ken,
    See, everybody agrees ... your posts are always interesting ...
    to your fellow Americans, because they reveal everyday aspects of life in Europe and to Europeans like me, because they give us an insight in the American way of life ... seen from another angle than the clichés shown in television series.

    So cheer up … In France/Europe the holiday season starts early, on Dec. 6th, with the ‘fête de Saint Nicolas’. That’ll give you something new and exciting to write about. Don’t forget, we – your faithful readers - are out here every day, looking forward to your next post … even if we don’t always write a comment. Martine

  9. I read your blog and Walt's every morning and wouldn't know how to start my day without it. It's never boring!

    Btw, have you had a 'trip report' from your neighbors who went to California? I think your US readers would be very interested in their impressions.

    Keep on keepin' on, Ken.


  10. Didn't the philosopher say, "Je suis moi-même le sujet de mon livre," or words to that effect? That's the attraction and the charm of what you write every day, Ken.

    Anyone interested in US politics can find endless sources of things to read online. BTW, your home state may be turning blue in the coming election. But your take as an ex-pat could be interesting from time to time as well. There has been no election like this one in my lifetime. I think that, seen from Europe and especially by Europeans who know the States from years of living and visiting here, it is startling to note the evolution that has made possible the phenomenon of Barack Obama. But I digress.

  11. The only thing I do while waiting for the sun to rise is sleep, but your blog (and Walt's when he posts) is an important part of my morning. As others have said, it really doesn't matter so much what you write about -- it's always interesting because of your observations. You walk the dog in the morning and find magic on the side of the path. Then you post a picture of it. How cool is that?


  12. whenever i'm in a smallish town on the road, i always buy the local paper to find out what's really happening there. i'm a reporter by trade, and i always do learn something amazing. for example, i learned about the yard sale phenom that turned into ebay by reading the classified ad sections in the backs of hometown papers years ago. people love that stuff.

    so your series on what the local papers are saying is just up my alley. the translations are a godsend, because even though i listened to my first pimsleur tape the other day, i have no french.

    the quotidien life stuff you write about is just exactly what i want to know. combined with susan's claise days wildlife notes, it's a picture of country france i think is unprecedented.

    i think the quotidien life description is what the annaliste historians base their revolution on.

    don't stop.

  13. Ken, every commenter has put it quite eloquently. Please add my voice to everyone else's. I am never bored with your blog. I can understand how you may think that writing about mundane, everyday life as a retired person living a quiet life in the country may not be so interesting, but in fact, it is fascinating, maybe especially so for those of us who are not retired, and are living in a city. I work in San Francisco, and reading your blog just takes me out of the city and to where you are. Your vivid, beautifully written descriptions of your home and land, markets and neighbors, and maybe for me best of all - cooking, along with your wonderful photos, are just what I need in what are occasionally hectic days.

    Please don't stop.


  14. Please,please dont give up. You have both become friends whom I welcome into my life every day. You give me ideas of what to cook, and how to see the everyday things in a different light. I am part time resident in southwest France and love to see how others are making the change work for them - you tempt me to just do it full time.
    Thank you for all you write - it is part of my day.


  15. I am never bored with your blog please keep writing.

  16. I can't add much but can't help notice that you have a large fanclub:-) You keep me connected to France which makes me feel more alive somehow.

    Your blog is a good way to stay connected to your old friends and to make new ones as well.

    As for your homestate and this very exciting election which I'm finding more fun than Christmas, I have a little story for you.

    Our friend from TN, Betty has a SIL who is spending two weeks in NC registering voters. Did you know that a person can register and vote on the same day in NC? Betty's SIL just yesterday registered a 91 year old woman who is voting for the first time in her life!

    The Republicans are sick about this, but I'm jumping up and down with high expectations for a new sunrise in this country.

  17. Just jumping in to say I agree with everyone else. I check in every day and often surf through previous posts (even those I have already read). Both you and Walt do such a good job.

  18. A reader from NW North Carolina
    Never boring..always very interesting and love your photo's.
    And thank you for not writing
    about politics. That is when I
    would most likely stop reading.
    We get enough of that on a daily
    Enjoy Walt's blog also and love reading about Callie.

  19. Après avoir lu tous ces commentaires élogieux, tu devrais être convaincu qu'il te faut continuer à bloguer, quoi que tu en penses, pour satisfaire tous tes lecteurs, connus et inconnus.

  20. Hi Ken, last summer we bought a house in a small village just a few miles west of you, for holidays at the moment as much as possible, but we hope to retire there (most of the year, if not full time) in the not too distant future. The blogs that you and Walt post give us such a vivid picture of what life is like, from the daily weather reports, to the descriptions of local life, it's (almost!) like being there. I can only echo the other posters and say, please do keep writing about your experiences!

  21. Hi Ken! Just to say thanks for your mention of laenvie.com. I don't actually feel I have nothing to say-- just not enough to say that fits into the rather narrow category of that blog. So I am temporarily offline-- I'll be moving back to Paris before long.

    I love your photos and the stories of your dog Callie. I've always wanted a border collie. (By the way, do you pronounce it cawley or cal- ee)?

    Anyway, bonne continuation!


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