17 February 2010

First hints of springtime

Change is in the air. It's above freezing outside and it's starting to rain — a nice change from frigid weather and snow. Heavy rains are falling down in Provence, and areas north of us, including Paris, are predicted to get some freezing rain today as the rain falls on frozen ground.

The boiler is not yet repaired, by the way. I went yesterday and signed the estimate, agreeing to have Savelys order the fuel pump that they say we need. As I sat there looking at the paperwork, the woman behind the desk, Béatrice, talked to another customer on the phone. I went ahead a wrote out a check for the cost of the pump. It came to 166 €, which was about what we were hoping for.

Yesterday's sunset at La Renaudière

When Béa got off the phone, she apologized and saw the check. "We don't want you to pay now," she said. "We expect payment when the work is complete." Huh? So why all the rigamarole about having to sign the work order and agree on the price before they could order the pump. I had already given them a verbal go-ahead last week, but that didn't suffice.

It looks a lot warmer in this picture of our hamlet,
La Renaudière, than it really was yesterday afternoon.

It seems to me that they would want their money before they ordered and installed the part. Go figure. Now they are going to be "out of pocket." The main thing, however, is that we still don't know when the repair will be scheduled. Béa said she would call us when the time comes.

A frozen, reed-filled pond, with a neighbor's house in
the background. Most old houses have these ponds,
into which all the household's waste water went
before sewers were put in.

The house is a lot warmer this morning than it was yesterday morning and on preceding mornings, because the temperature outside is above freezing. Maybe that was our last spell of frigid weather for the winter. March, however, is notoriously unpredictable.

Sun setting behind the trees that border the vineyard

While I was out yesterday, I went to SuperU and bought some hareng fumé — smoked herring. More about that later. I was also happy to find a special on guinea hens, pintades — buy one and get one free. That brought the price per kilogram down into the range you pay for battery-raised chickens, but these are Label Rouge pintades. Into the freezer they went, for later.


  1. God bless the rather formalised French system of devis, signature, facture etc. It is so rational (did I mean honest) after the banditry that is practiced so widely north of La Manche. One place where French bureaucracy really works. If only GB's 'artisans' had to be registered at the Mairie. And our particular Mairie is harsh. And a VAT reduction against DIY of 15% to encourage the small artisan (on domestic works only). A dream......

  2. Remember to let those herrings soak in milk at least overnight. In the morning, they will be plump and tender. Then you can put them in oil if you want, for harengs à l'huile, with a few thin slices of raw onion. At least that's what I would do and it would be delicious and good for you.

    Glad your furnace ordeal is getting to a close. Keep your fingers crossed! LOL

  3. Herring. I love herring.

    As for the furnace hassle, we're going through a similar rigamarole with an investment fund: we fill out papers they send us, they decide they need more papers, back and forth for a while now. The U.S. has its own set of bureaucracies.

  4. But at least we're not freezing!

  5. Oh boy, herrings!
    Like Monsieur Charles Henri wrote, you have to put them in milk overnight. It will take away some of the saltiness.
    I can't wait to look at the pictures! It isn't the best french food but it is good and it brings back many wonderful memories.
    Glad the weather is warming up.

  6. The problem with Spring approaching is that you're bound to have at least one more spell of very cold weather before it warms up for good. Although this winter has been an exceptionally cold one for us, we normally don't have to go through that in Florida.

  7. No, Starman, you just have to make it through that long, hot, humid summer. I couldn't stand that.

  8. It's amazing how little tolerance we have for the native climates we've moved away from. Go back to those hot humid summers in Baltimore or NC? Not a chance.

  9. I'm at least relieved to hear that the vacances d'hiver were probably at the root of the huge delay... I was amazed that it was taking this long for you. I hope it wraps up soon!

    I loved your crèpe photos yesterday :)

    I think that I would not like herring *LOL*.

    Have you been watching the Jeux Olympiques??



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