27 August 2010

Yesterday's back yard pictures

I've always said that one of the main reasons I started this blog was to publish the pictures I love to take with my digital cameras. Over the past seven years, I've been through at least four cameras, in fact — two Canons and two Panasonics. And now I've reached a point where I've used 90% of the space Blogger allocates to each blog for photo storage.

I looked at Blogger help and learned that I can pay an annual fee — otherwise, Blogger is a free service — of $5.00 U.S. to get 20 GB of photo storage. When you consider that $5.00 is a little less than 4 €, it would be silly not to sign up. It's either that or stop the blog. Some days I think I am ready to stop blogging, but then what would I do when I get up early in the morning. Every day, I mean.

Looking through the desert jade plant (thanks, CHM)
toward the neighbors' house

My other motivation for blogging has been to describe what life is like for a couple of Americans in France — not in Paris, mind you, and not in what they call La France Profonde, way out in remote country, but just middle-of-the-road small-town France. And not a life of leisure, but a working retirement. At first, that seemed easy. There was a wealth of material. Now that I've been here for more than seven years, it seems harder and harder to keep putting our life and daily activities on the blog as some kind of an example.

A sedum flower

It's not that it has gotten old; it's just that it has become routine. I've sort of forgotten, on a gut level, what life is like in the U.S., so it's hard to pick themes and events that make life so different here. Or maybe it's just not that different. Years ago I wrote something about life in France and life in America are the same puzzle, but all the pieces are different. Now I wonder. Are they? I don't plan to move back to the U.S. to find out. Sometimes I think I hardly recognize the U.S. any more.

A rose

In a lot of ways, this has been the summer of our discontent. Having major work done on the house has been a major disruption. Everything is shifted around, and disorderly. Things are piled up in the garage and utility room. There's furniture down there that will eventually get moved back upstairs and find its rightful place again. I hope. There is a jumble of painting supplies. I guess we'll organize all that or toss it out, when the time comes.

An artichoke

Instead of getting the garage cleaned out, it's now piled up worse than it was when we first moved into the house in 2003. That summer, we hauled carloads of junk to the déchetterie, the recycling center across the river in Noyers. This summer, instead of cleaning out, we seem to have been accumulating. I think the disorderliness is getting me down.

Here come the tomatoes

If the garden has produced anything, it's basically through its own resources. We don't deserve much credit. Luckily, the weather has cooperated, and we haven't had to do a lot of work weeding and watering. There's been enough rain, but not too much. It's been warm enough, but not too hot And thank goodness for the potatoes and zucchini — they've kept us motivated by producing early and abundantly. They've given us the patience to wait for the tomates and aubergines to start coming in.

The painting and furniture-moving will soon be done. Then we'll start clearing out again. Clearing out the junk in the garage so we can get the car back in there. Clearing out the junk in the utility room so that we can walk in there without having to step over paint cans and a mess of disorganized supplies of all kinds. Cleaning up the garden before winter. Cutting down the plum trees that blew over in last February's storm but produced one last crop of fruit for us. It's easy to feel overwhelmed though.


  1. Since becoming a regular reader of your blog I encouraged my daughter who lives in another state to follow you example; never thinking that I too would become a blogger too. Perhaps when we view our own blog entries we don't recognise what it is that attracts other to read them. Your life is so very different from what we know. It reveals the charm and character of a rural lifestyle in a little village in France. It opens the world to others in a personal way. Sometimes we forget to say thank you. So thank you for sharing your daily life, your comings and your goings.

  2. Ann is right. We should say
    thank you more often. Your
    blog (and Walt's) have been
    a daily necessity for me
    since 2003. I think the first
    blog I read was about bringing
    in the last of the tomatoes
    from your (much smaller) garden.
    Please don't give it up. You
    could write about unloading
    the dishwasher and make it
    sound interesting!

  3. I'd read about you unloading the dishwasher! Mostly because you'd take marvelous pictures, have something interesting to say..and then I could look at your day and mine... and see the sameness..and the differences.

    But I understand your discontent, or around here we'd say "fussiness." It seems many people are off kilter right now. Remember that we are changing seasons and the full moon has set everyone on edge. Put that together with a sort of global upheaval.. it is a time of change for sure. Even if you aren't glued to the news channels every second you can't help but feel that many people are tense.

    I hope you spend that $5 and know that your online pals (old and new) enjoy every second of your posts. We love the sameness and the different-ness.

    And with "real words" like "chillax" now in the dictionary - for heavens sakes...we need your touch of class to keep us all sane.

    With warmest regards and encouragement,

  4. I read your wonderful blog regularly, but this is my first comment. Thank you: for your blog, your thoughts, and your pictures. I have lived briefly in France a couple of times, and by reading your blog I get to think and dream about maybe doing it again.

  5. It's funny, for the blogger, daily posts sometimes seem so incredibly difficult (I've been a daily blogger for six years, so I know the feeling). But for the reader, especially the regular reader, they are ever so wonderful not because they explain something we may not know (though they do that too), but because you get to know and like the people. And, too, following routines of someone who lives in a country you like as well is immensely rewarding.

    I, too, read your posts daily and I never tire of them. I like your routines. I like your tomatoes. I feel bad when Walt has an injury and I hope for his speedy recovery.

    We, who do this sort of daily life story posting are at heart ethnographers. We record the life that we witness around us. You do it awfully well.

    Thank you.

  6. Ken

    I got to know your blog via a travel site and since then I have been reading about your life and that of Walt ( w/o missing Callie) every day ( except when I am away). Through you, I have met a "cousin" and get to know bloggers from different countries.

    I have learned a lot about life in France, food, cheese and wine.

    I believe that the weather is getting to you and the fact that you don't see an end to your project. As someone who worked in Silicon Valley, you want to stick to schedule but tell yourself that "YOU ARE THE BOSS NOW" and you don't have to rush. By November, once everything gets back to routine, you will miss those "worries' and aggravations :-)

    Bon courage et prenez votre mal en patience ( that's what I learned in Quebec)

  7. I love the pictures and the wonderful account of ordinary everyday life in an extraordinary place. Reading about your lives, is a bright start to my mornings.

  8. Ken,

    I know how you feel, for I've been feeling a little blue lately. This morning when I logged on, I felt a bit down, checked my email, and then thought "Wait. I get to read what Ken (and Walt) have written this morning." And it gave me a real lift. That's a gift you give me (and us) every morning. A warm and sincere thank you from me.
    Dennis Martin

  9. We used to live in "La France Profonde"... where we had settled because we wanted to be French and we thought deepest France would allow that. But we discovered we couldn't become intimate with our neighbors, couldn't overcome the distance, could not deal with the exclusionary bureaucracy, and so we are back in the States. Your blog reminds us that some people can learn enough about a place and a people to be included, to keep discovering, to be happy. Sometimes your days sound as if they could be taking place anywhere... but sometimes they are fully French. I really enjoy reading you every day. Hang in there.

  10. My mornings involve reading legions of financial news and data (not so cheery of late) with a cup of coffee (or four). When I'm done, I read your blog - it's a wonderful escape for me and a reminder that I too can do what you've done: retire in France.

    What you write about always seems fresh and interesting, and is a good mix of French and American ways. I've picked up a lot of new French words from you as well; when they are attached to a story of daily life, they are easy to remember.

    I would certainly miss the pleasure of visting here if you decide to stop blogging. And that artichoke photo today is just beautiful...

  11. I'm very new to reading your blog. I think I discovered it on the blogroll of Schnitzel and the Trout. Your blog and Walt's are two of the ones I read first every morning (blogs from Europe are usually posted much earlier, of course). Your photography is so excellent, and your "adventures" so interesting that I hope, (for more than purely selfish reasons, I hope) that you will continue! And I hope that you will find interest and pleasure in doing so.

    Everyone goes through times when life seems a bit dull for a time, but "this too shall pass". The seasons are changing and I hope that will interest you....

    I do understand that disorder can feel a little overwhelming. I'm working on that myself. Slowly. I can't work on it very fast! But I find that spending some time outside every day helps me feel better about everything. The season of goldenrod and asters is upon us (and ragweed, too, alas!). Keats' "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness". You do have the talent to make whatever you write about sound interesting. May it interest you as well!

  12. Ken,

    I too hate disorder and when my home and life is in disorder I am not a happy person. Your disorder will clear up soon and to be honest, having seen your home I am sure it is not as bad as you think.

    I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments and I like how they offer support for you to keep blogging and how much they enjoy reading your blog. You KNOW how much I have enjoyed reading "Living the life in Saint-Aignan" because I've told you.

    Sometimes I wonder why I read your blog when I myself don't have one. It feels like taking away a piece of your day without giving back besides the occasional comment.

    If not for your blog, I wouldn't have discovered Mennetou-sur-Cher - a lovely town that we got to visit twice in 2008 and 2010. Our visits with you and Walt will always stand out as an important memory of our time in France. My daughters still talk about Callie.

    I love the little "take aways" that I learn...a new french word, something about local life, a recipe that inspires me. I even enjoyed when you wrote about light switches!!! haha....

    So keep it up and I hope you post pictures of the loft space when done!

  13. I have to second what everyone is saying here... Ann's thoughts, and Diogenes' thoughts (man, that IS a gorgeous artichoke photo!), and Rose's thoughts... everyone's. I love learning from you and seeing just the little things about your day-to-day life.

    Your attic looks GREAT!


  14. I think it's a case of seasonal megrims you've got there, bud. When the days start getting noticeably shorter and things are winding down it's easy to sink into a little decline. It certainly hits me that way every year.

    It's not so much what you write about as the way you do it that we all love so much. Hugs.


  15. The desert jade plant is handsome! I picked up a broken jade plant on my walk in Japantown last May and planted it chez moi. Jade grows in odd spots along the sidewalk there in SF. So far so good for my little jade transplant.

    You know I enjoy your blog, non? I very much enjoy hearing from the people who read you every day. You make our world bigger with your insights and brighter with your photos. Let it be.

  16. I appreciate all your kind comments. I won't go name by name, person by person, but believe me.

    The end is in sight on the painting. The tomatoes are coming in. Eggplants too. The weather is taking a turn for the better. Things are looking up.

    Keep you eye out for that post about loading the dishwasher...


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?