27 February 2010

Current events

Some news, in two categories. Past news and future news.

Future news: the weather service is predicting 120 kph/70 mph winds here tonight and tomorrow morning. So I'll spend another night lying awake listening to water drip into the attic — the trap door is in the ceiling right outside the bedroom — and worrying about our big trees blowing over.

March is coming in like a lion. This morning we have to secure some things outdoors that we let blow all around the yard a couple of nights ago.

Farther future news: Still thinking about the attic conversion and the new staircase. The picture below shows where the new staircase will go. The old stairs wrap around to the left. The new ones will continue in the same spiral, starting on the landing where the pine cabinet is.

The ceiling in this picture will be cut away
to make an opening for the new staircase.

The pine cabinet will have to be moved to another location, probably downstairs. And at last we'll be able to take the old wallpaper down. This information is for those of you who have visited and are familiar with the layout of the house.

Past news: the new fuel pump was finally installed in our boiler yesterday afternoon. That was three weeks to the day when we realized we had a serious problem. Yesterday I realized that another week was nearly past, so I called the Savelys office around noontime.

Béatrice answered the phone. I told her it was Mr. Broadhurst and that I wondered if there was any progress on our repair. « Vous ne nous oubliez pas, j'espère », I said. « Ça va faire un mois que notre chaudière est en panne. » Let me see, Béa answered. We received some spare parts this morning... ah yes, here it is. We have it — got it just today.

Hah! If I hadn't called, it would probably have been some time next week before we ever heard from them. So when can you send out a technician to install it? I wanted to know. What about this afternoon? Béa said. Fine, I told her. I'll be here. I almost felt like I had called her bluff.

The Savelys technician who came to do the job is a man we know. He's done work here and at our American friends' house 10 miles south of us on several occasions. In fact, he asked about those friends. He didn't get here until after 5:00 p.m., and the work was done in less than 45 minutes. Case closed, I hope. The boiler seems to be working fine this morning.

Finally, choucroute: Yes, nine pounds (four kilos) of sauerkraut seems like a lot. I've put it in the freezer in one-kilo packages for future use. Here's an idea from a past post about eating sauerkraut with smoked chicken — it's really good and a nice change from smoked pork.

And here's a blog post about how you go about making salty raw choucroute edible, by blanching it to de-salt it and then cooking it in white wine. Of course, in the U.S. you probably will have to buy the sauerkraut already cooked, packed in jars, cans, or bags. If it's too salty or vinegary, though, you can improve it by cooking as you would raw sauerkraut, but for a shorter time.

One kilogram of raw choucroute from Alsace

At Intermarché the other day, when I ordered my four kilos of raw sauerkraut, the gentleman behind me in line, who was about my age, said to me: « C'est beaucoup pour deux ! » — "That's a lot for two people!" He was joking. I looked at him and said yes, I realized that, but there would be three of us. Ba da boom.

As I was walking away, I heard him order a kilo of choucroute himself. The woman behind the counter said: "Raw sauerkraut?" Oh no, I heard the man say. I made that mistake once, and it was awful. Give me the sauerkraut that's been cooked in white wine.

I guess he doesn't have the cookbook I use.


  1. Ken, That storm is coming our way too. It's expected for tomorrow with winds up to 100 kph. At least it'll be blowing during the day, which I find less scaring. Good luck to you all. BTW, how does Callie react to these storms? Is she scared or nervous?

  2. Thanks for the visual for the staircase- that will be a good spot for it. I know you won't miss that wallpaper!

    I hope the storm doesn't live up to expectations. Sois sage.

  3. Ohhhh it's cool to be able to picture where the staircase will be, even though I haven't (YET!) been to your house... but, I remember this stairway landing, and, of course, the wallpaper that you two were hoping to remove some time. And, I'm glad to know that you have your boiler fixed... geeeeeeeeeez

    Hope you remain safe and sound with all of this wind! I hope it doesn't interfere with Walt's "prep work" :))


  4. That position looks like the perfect place to continue the stairs. Looks like you almost planned it that way. Bet you did.
    This should make you smile: I read "sauerkraut with smoked chicken", but instead of "chicken", I read "children".

  5. Sauerkraut--I've been making a batch today. But it won't be ready for a while yet. Easy to do and better than store-bought here.

    The new staircase looked very nice, and your attic reclamation project sounds great.

  6. Virtual friends and acquaintances... I actually spoke to Ken on the phone on Saturday. He said to post that if he didn't post on Sunday a.m. his time, it would likely mean they lost power.

    I notice Walt did not post either at his usual time.

    So the lights must be out in St. Aignan. Ken said they have beans that they can warm up on the gas burners, so they have food and drink, if not heat and light and internet and tv.

    Stay warm, Ken and Walt, and hope you return soon!

  7. Merci, Cheryl, for letting us know that Ken and Walt might be out of power because of the predicted storm. It's 1:00 P.M. in St-Aignan right now and neither one posted yet. I do hope, for their own sake, power will be restored very soon. Susan and Simon, hundred or so miles south of them, were able to post this morning.

  8. Thanks for the update from Ken, Cheryl. I guess the power is out there- I hope they get it back soon. The weather this winter has been remarkable all over the world it seems.

  9. Glad to hear everything is OK except for the power.

  10. And just when they get their new blower working for the furnace system.... no power to push it!

    Hope all is well. I'm glad that this power outage didn't happen during Walt's "procedure" :)) I sure hope he has been able to follow the strict showering procedures in the dark! :))


  11. Just had a call from Ken.

    They are still without power. It won't probably be back until Monday night at best. He and Walt may not be able to blog until Tuesday morning, also at best.

    It is 6:30 P.M. in St-Aignan now and the storm has moved north.

    They assessed the damage. Several tiles were blown away from the roof and two somewhat small plum trees in their back yard were uprooted.

    They have food they can heat up on their gas range and heat from the wood stove in the living room.

  12. Ken and Walt, I'm glad you are both Okay, inspite of all the difficulties your are experiencing. 'Courage' to both of you ! Martine

  13. http://www.lemonde.fr/
    It was quite a storm that killed at least 45 people! I hope you get your power back asap, Ken and Walt.
    We are glad to hear that you are safe with minor damage.

  14. Judy you crack me up!
    Maybe the "procedure" will have to be moved to calmer days.
    Sorry to hear it was such a huge storm and so many people were killed. Thank God our favorite bloggers are OK!

  15. Hope you get your electricity back soon. It's miserable as the house gets colder and everything is such hard work by candlelight.

  16. What a worry for you two. It must have been stressful living through that storm. I'm glad the damage was no worse than it was.

  17. I hope you'll get your power back today- I'm really missing you guys!

    Enough winter of 2010 already!

  18. Ken and Walt,

    Good to hear from Cheryl and CHM that you are doing OK. Seeing those videos from this site:

    makes one wonder why we are experiencing all these natural catastrophes from one location to another.

  19. UPDATE

    Ken just called me.

    They still are without power and don't expect it to be restored until late Tuesday.

    Roof as been repaired yesterday night. So the "combles/grenier", attic in English, are/is dry.

    They still have wood for the wood stove. Food is still cold in the refrigerator and freezers. So far so good, so to speak!

    As soon as the power comes back, Ken will post the good news on his blog.

    They have a battery powered radio, so they keep abreast of what going on in the outside world.

    Weather is not too bad.

    I guess that's all, folks!


  20. Thanks for the update, CHM! I'm glad the weather is cold enough so that the food in the freezer will stay frozen.

  21. Thanks for the updates from Cheryl and CHM. That storm sounded terrible, and I'm glad K & W are OK.

  22. I take it that the storm has taken your connection away - the same thing happened to me last year. I hope you have better luck than I had in being reconnected.............it took a long time. KEEP WELL.


  23. Cheryl and CHM, thanks for your posts. I was wondering why no updates and knew something was wrong....glad to hear it's not TERRIBLY wrong. Ken and Walt - "see" you soon!


  24. UPDATE

    Just called Ken. They still do not have power. It seems it is local problem to their hamlet, because of downed power lines. They hope power will be restored tomorrow.

    Otherwise their spirit is high. Their wood stove is working fine. They just don't open their freezers. The outside temperature is around 50°F.

    Walt is on his diet in view of his procedure Thursday. He didn't say, but I'm sure he is concerned about those top to bottom showers in cold water. And especially the thorough cleaning behind his ... ears! LOL

    Ken will call me tomorrow morning, my time, and late afternoon his time to let me know how things stand. I hope they have their power back by that time.

    I'll post a comment if need be.

  25. Chm, I'm grateful for your updates and to hear that things aren't too bad with Ken and Walt. It's a good thing they have a sense of adventure.

  26. Thanks for all the updates chm.
    I'm glad there wasn't too much damage, for them at least.

  27. From a lurker who loves France and especially your blog -- best of luck! ANd thanks to all the commenters who took away the worry.

  28. Holy cow! I hope you're able to be back soon!

  29. I kept looking for news about you guys at Days on the Claise but it didn't occur to me until now to check your latest blog comments. Anyhow, a big WHEW! that you're OK and had little damage. These storms go from terror to relief to just plain frustration and boredom after days without power and no real idea how long it will last.

    It will be over by the time you read this; I'm really glad you're OK.

  30. Those guys won't starve..!

  31. Wed afternoon and still no direct word from our guys. Frustration is setting in on this side of the pond as well! :)

    We miss you, hope you're coping.


  32. UPDATE


    Just called Ken. They were just back from friends on the other side of St-Aignan, where Walt was able to take the prescribed showers, top to bottom, with that special soap.

    They won't be home most of the day tomorrow, since they have to go to Blois for the procedure.

    Madame the Mayor is also without power, and probably does all what she can to have it restored to their hamlet.

    Those power lines were downed in a wooded area, not far from were they live. Walt went there to check, and no work was being done at the time. They still hope to get the power back in the near future.

    Ken will spent the next few days cooking or poaching any raw food from the freezers to try to save it. I wish him luck. How's that for a birthday cake?

    I guess that's all for today.

  33. Chm, Thank you so much for the update! I hope the power will be back by tomorrow. If not, please tell Ken and Walt that I really feel for them and please give Ken my best and warmest Birthday wishes! Martine

  34. Oh no! Allll of that good food that Ken and Walt had stored in the freezer! And, it's Ken's birthday??
    Joyeux Anniversaire, Ken!


  35. Oh my goodness. I hate that all the frozen food is in danger of spoiling! I am glad that Walt had a warm place to take his special shower, but hate that his house is still in the dark. I hope they've got plenty of camping equipment, lanterns, etc.

    Someday in the future they'll be able to laugh about this, but I bet it won't be anytime soon!

    I think Ken's birthday may be Friday, but I could be wrong. I'm hoping the power will be back by then!

  36. I am so sorry the power is still out and there is a danger to the frozen food. Maybe Ken should wish for a generator for his birthday. Hopefully after the "procedure" is done, the power back on, everything will be back to normal. What an adventure!
    Happy birthday Ken! I am sure you wished for a better celebration but I am so glad to know you guys and Callie are ok, the house in fine shape...


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