05 July 2010

A nice cool weekend

The weekend rainstorm — we got about 1½ inches in a couple of hours Saturday morning — along with two days of cooler weather, really freshened up the vegetation and the entire look of the countryside. The weather is normal now — cool mornings, comfortably warm afternoons and evenings. More heat is predicted, though.

The generous rain really plumped up
the grapes growing out in the vineyard.

I went on walks with the dog on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. For the first time in a week, poor Callie was happy to have a long promenade. For days, it had been far too hot for her to be comfortable out in the sun. She'd be happy to go out, but lose her nerve after walking just a short distance. Inside the house was where she wanted to be.

This is a blackberry blossom. I hope we get tons of berries.

Bertie modified his schedule for the duration of the heat wave. Instead of coming in at dusk, he would stay outside until after dark — until after we had turned in, actually. At first it bothered me to go to bed and leave the cat out wandering the neighborhood, but I got used to it.

Cornflowers are blooming all around the edges of the vineyard.
This one is just opening up to the early morning sunshine.

Mornings, when I got up, he was usually there, happy to get his daily ration. On one or two mornings I didn't find him in the garage, but I put his food down anyway. Thirty minutes later I would go down and find his bowl empty and, as often as not, he would be sleeping on his bed. During the hot spell, he would sleep away the day in the garage, where it's fairly cool. Late in the afternoon, out he'd go again.

An impossibly blue cornflower

So I concluded that the cat was spending time outside during the cool nighttime hours, and then spending the hot daylight hours indoors. The sun must be hot on the back of a jet black cat.

Tomato flowers were left undamaged by
Saturday's early morning downpour.

After the hard rain Saturday morning, the garden was fairly beaten down. Walt picked up the tomato plants and washed the mud off their leaves, using the gentle spray from a watering can. He was afraid the summer squash plants had suffered a fatal blow, but by afternoon they had perked back up, their wide leaves standing tall again.

I spotted this nice butterfly on my walk Saturday afternoon.
I took the picture by zooming in from quite a distance,
and I'm still surprised it came out so nice.

Sunday we went to spend the afternoon with an English friend at her house in a village six or seven miles south of ours. It was the day of the Wimbledon final — Nadal vs. Berdych — and our friend has English TV via satellite. The match wasn't being shown live on French TV, and even the delayed broadcast was on a pay channel (Canal+) that we don't get.

Walt and Callie arriving at our friend's house
in a village south of Saint-Aignan

Nadal won. I was kind of hoping Berdych might pull off a surprise victory. We spent a nice afternoon watching tennis, sipping a glass of wine, and eating a box of See's chocolates that our recent visitors brought us from California.

Callie was happy to arrive.
She still hates riding in the car.

Did I tell you we now have an ice cream maker? The Englishwoman who left Bertie the Black Cat with us — she went back to work in the U.K. — also left the ice cream machine behind. So far, over the past week, we've made and enjoyed eating batches of lemon ice cream, coconut sorbet, and vanilla ice cream with hot fudge sauce. Today we're going to make cherry frozen yogurt.

Better stretch out those walks with the dog...


  1. We did not get any rain over the weekend, bit of cloud but it was very hot. Lovely pictures.

    I curse when out neighbour leaves his cat out overnight, it sits under our window and cries like a kitten. Not impressed! Diane

  2. It's interesting that our neighbor who was the most negative about having a new cat in the hamlet is the one who has a constantly barking dog in a cage in her yard! And grandchildren who have wild parties, screaming and yelling and playing loud music until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning when the grandparents aren't there.

    I don't lock the cat out at night. His window stays open and he comes back to his food and water when he wants to. Why does the cat cry under your window? Does your neighbor lock the cat out?

    I've been amazed how negative people are about cats, since we've had one. Our other neighbors' three cats have never bothered us at all.

  3. My cat only meowed loudly when we closed her out of our room. I don't know why some people are so very anti-cat.

    Enjoy the ice cream!


  4. one of my cats chooses to go out at night more, esp when it's hot....cant blame him...then he snoozes the day away when it's sweltering.....at least this one doesnt bring too many little hunted things back inside....u cant really "get" a cat to come in unless he wants to do it

  5. Melinda, that's what I think. I can go call Bertie out on the road, up and down the lane, until the cows come home... but Bertie doesn't. Callie will sit here stuck to us through thick and thin. But a few minutes ago, I brought Bertie the cat upstairs and shut Callie out, so that we could spend some quality feline time. After a couple of minutes of petting and purring, Bertie disappeared. He jumped off the balcony (!) and disappeared. That was a first. I hope he landed on all fours.

  6. See's! Guests who bring See's are the best of all.

    Did your guest post on a cooking blog while he was with you? I thought I recognized his name.

  7. Carolyn, I don't know if Peter was posting on a cooking blog while he was here. I know he was on Facebook...

  8. Aren't cats nocturnal anyway? My neighbors told me they have heard my cat cry at night when we are out of town, even though she has a small pet door to get in and out.
    She is lonely without us around.
    I bought David Lebovitz's book "the perfect scoop" but haven't tried any recipes (actually I have all his cook books). Walt's profiteroles are picture perfect and apparently were delicious.

  9. Beautiful pictures - especially the blue cornflowers and the butterfly!

    As for people that dislike cats, it really gives you a window onto the character (or lack thereof) of the person IMO.

    Our cat, Scarlet, is 14. You can train a cat over time, but I think it is by loving and caring for them, so they trust you 110%, not disciplining them. If ours is outside and I can see her, I can say "come home" - 90% of the time she will, right away. If not, I take a couple steps her direction and she will head for the door quickly.

  10. When I was a kid, my mother used to have us gather blackberries from the field next to our house. Then she would make blackberry jam. It was so good. I haven't had any since then.

  11. Nice house Ken - that is exactly what we are looking for!

  12. I know the owner of the house, Lynn. But it's basically a one-bedroom with a smallish den, one bathroom, and a WC on the ground floor. It's a nice place, nonetheless, and square in the middle of a pretty village.


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