11 July 2010

Summer is for enjoying

So I think Bill from New Hampshire was right. He predicted earlier that our attic loft conversion project wouldn't be finished before November 15. Bill, you take the prize, from the look of it. November 15 might turn out to be slightly optimistic. The important thing, though, is that we are sleeping up there now.

Some specialize in photos of French doors and windows.
My specialty seems to be insects on flowers.

It's been too hot to do hard work like sanding and painting, with temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s F — 28 to 32ºC. That's a good excuse, don't you think? But remember — no A/C. Some, nights, sleeping has been uncomfortable. It's been too hot for us to enjoy sitting outside, even under the big-top lawn tent.

My camera is good at getting clear, detailed pictures with
the zoom at long distances. This butterfly wouldn't let
me get close at all. Those are grape leaves.

For the last few days in June, we had company from California. We did a lot in four days: three tours of local quarries now used as mushroom and wine cellars, an afternoon at the château de Chenonceau, and much shopping and cooking. We drove up to a village called Ouchamps, on the way to Blois, to buy some fresh poultry from an abattoir/processing plant. The people in the supermarkets around Saint-Aignan were starting calling us by our nicknames — that's how often they saw us come in.

Our house is the one with the dark brown roof.
The Loire Valley countryside is lush in this season.

Afterward, we were exhausted. Our friends left on Thursday, July 1, and we took the weekend off, to work in the garden and do some more cooking. It was July 4th weekend, after all. Then it was Monday again, and we got an invitation to drive over to a village near the famous wine town of Bourgueil to have drinks with a couple of fellow bloggers. We had been wanting to get to know them in person for a long time. Bourgueil is an hour's drive from Saint-Aignan, on the other side of Tours. So we got home late that night, again tiring us out for a couple of days.

Two of our neighbors' houses are visible in this picture,
plus an outbuilding. The vines await pruning.

Already, it was the Sixth of July, and now here it is the Eleventh, and we still haven't even started sanding, much less painting, the walls of the loft space. And we haven't even started varnishing the stairs either, partly because I'm afraid the varnish might not dry properly in this hot weather. Again, a good rationalization, don't you think?

This nice stand of daisies was here when we arrived seven
years ago, and it blooms faithfully every year.

Tomorrow, the high temperature is predicted to be 22ºC — that's the low 70s F — with rain. The recommendations on the tins of varnish say it is best applied at 20ºC. That seals it, as it were — tomorrow I'll start varnishing the staircase and banisters.

Callie the collie loves finding pulled-out vine stumps
on her walks and carrying them home.

A week from today I'll be taking the train to Paris for a week-long adventure with an old friend (don't take that the wrong way, CHM — by old, I mean un ami de très longue date). More about that when the time comes.

This is Callie's version of begging
waiting patiently for a morning walk.

Meanwhile, I'm posting some photos taken during walks with the dog over the past few days. Remember that you can click on the pictures to see them at a larger size.


  1. You probably know this, but for other readers who might think of tackling varnishing .... when you do stairs, do every other stair. When those are dry, then do the others. That way you can still get up and down stairs. If you don't need to use the stairs and want to varnish every step, then be sure to end your varnishing at the floor you want to get out. Don't laugh, we've learned some of this from our mistakes.

  2. You are right it has been too hot to be energetic! Lovely pictures. Callie looks a great friend. Diane

  3. Hi Diane, yes, I don't know how S & S in Preuilly do it (Days on the Claise blog). They obviously are 10 or 12 years younger than I am!

    Ellen, thanks. I read about that every-other-step trick somewhere, and that's what I'm going to do I think. And LOL about ending up trapped on the wrong floor. Sounds like something I would do.

  4. Ken, S&S are wearing themselves ragged trying to finish to a deadline... we've offered assitance [physical]... but they might like one of your meals!
    Ellen, thanks for the varnishing tip!
    We were going to work top to bottom and go out for the w/e... but your way is cheaper!!

  5. my daughter is swealtering in paris of late....aren't there some kind of portable room ac units around??? I know they cant use window units.....one of these days the french will admit they need ac! and that the fresh air will not make u sick....

  6. I sanded yesterday:14sm metres of old varnish taken off floorboards. 28 sq metres (2 coats, naturally) applied today.

    You're right. It IS too hot to be doing all that stuff! The payoff is that I have the next two weeks to play with Célestine.

  7. Wow, gorgeous close-up photos, Ken :))

    Ellen, those are great suggestions, and it's amazing that we wouldn't all think of them all by ourselves... but, I'm quite sure that I hadn't!

    Ken, I say, go ahead and enjoy the summer! Do the rest of the work in the cooler autumn weather :) Or... maybe Walt will secretly do it all while you're gone to Paris visiting ton ami de longue date :))


  8. OK, I'll bite - what are those supermarket nicknames? Kenny and Wally? Crazy American #1 and #2? Or something more uniquely French? Enquiring minds want to know...

  9. Are the neighbors as close as they seem in the photos?

  10. John, Dieu seul sait what the supermarket people might call us or think of us. Can't worry about it.

    Starman, the neighbors are separated from us by a thick tall hedge, a road, and another tall hedge. It's nice to have neighbors. Who wants to be completely isolated?

  11. I love this photo of Callie! I love that pose- it's a special kind of relaxation that dogs enjoy.


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