01 March 2011


Yesterday was the anniversary of the bad wind storm that we had here in the Loire Valley and out on the Atlantic coast of France last year. It's almost embarrassing to say that the two plum trees that blew over in our back yard are still lying there on the ground. Work for the spring...

What was all that talk about the euro losing some of its inflated value against the U.S. dollar this year? I just looked and the euro is worth just over $1.38 U.S. When I changed money a couple of months ago, the euro was worth $1.29. Big sigh.

Annie Girardot died yesterday at the age of 79. She was one of the most popular and productive French actresses of the past 50 years. I liked her in Tendre Poulet (1978) with Philippe Noiret, a comedy. It was filmed in great part in the Latin Quarter in Paris, where I worked back then.

Callie trying to understand about donkeys

The donkey came out to see me and Callie a couple of afternoons ago. He hasn't been out in his meadow on the edge of the vineyard in quite a while. I think he's getting a little long in the tooth. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me. Callie kept her distance. She probably doesn't know that donkeys hate dogs and will try to trample them to death if they get a chance.

Bertie comes in from the cold: he's been spending more and more time in the house with us. I think there's an even more aggressive cat than Bertie in the hamlet these days, and Bertie is avoiding that adversary. He came back all scratched up one day last week, after what must have been a big cat fight. Callie still won't leave Bertie alone when she sees him, but the other evening Bertie was upstairs and I told Callie just to go downstairs. She did it.

Jacques' wife has suffered a stroke. I found out last night. Jacques is the contractor who did our attic conversion for us in 2010. E. is probably younger than I am. She doesn't smoke, doesn't drink, isn't overweight. It's not fair. I hope she recovers fully and speedily. A stroke in French is called un accident vasculaire cérébral (AVC).

Just this little bit left. How many more days will it take me?

Don't mention wallpaper to me ever again. I may go off on you. I'm still working on the ceiling over the landing. There's only a little left to do, and I will finish it this week. But it's a b**** to work on. After a few minutes my shoulder hurts so bad that I just quit.

How hard it must be to try to make some classic French dish like coq au vin, bœuf bourguignon, or blanquette de veau if you've never tasted that dish in France! Even vinaigrette — there's only one way to find out how it ought to taste. Come try it in a restaurant or chez quelqu'un in France. Same with the cheeses — they are different here, because they are fresher. And wine. Bread, for that matter.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear the news about Elisabeth (who I've never met, but it's really bad luck after what happened to Jacques).

    Bread especially is different here - because of the flour mostly I think.

  2. Can I still use the 'w' word on my own blog without you getting cross with me?! :^)

  3. You can have a special dispensation this time, Martine.

  4. I'm sorry to hear about your friend's stroke, Ken. I wish her a full recovery, as well.

    I like the font on your big first letters of each paragraph :)


  5. That's too bad about your friend's stroke. We wish her a speedy recovery.

    Your blog looks very stylish today.

    Thanks for the recommendation of Tendre poulet. You would pick a movie that sounds like a recipe!

    It's not on Netflix, unfortunately, but I'll check again in a few weeks.

  6. It looks as if the remaining w-paper is in a difficult-to-get-to spot, one that could prove tricky to reach. Please use caution if you are balancing over the stairs to reach this area.

  7. I SO adore Callie!!


  8. I liked your blog today. Kind of a rehashment (english? french? is it a word at all?) of current events.

    I was the one who reported having read that the Euro was supposed to be lower than the dollar... I'm disappointed as well. Maybe I won't be traveling to France this year, either.

    Strokes are never good. My heart goes out to her family and her friends and neighbors.

    Bertie is pretty smart to spend more time inside if there is a fighter in the neighborhood.

  9. Ken

    Isn't Jacques , the same gentleman who broke one of his legs when he fell last year?
    It is really bad luck for them.

    As far as forex is concerned, I was hoping that the Euro would go down but to no avail. Fortunately my loonie is higher than the US $ and we made sure to send the payment for the cottage that we rent in Maine for the annual Summer vacations well in advance.

  10. As I keep reminding Robb, it's not the euro that's rising, it's the dollar that's falling. Even the Canadian dollar which used to be about 50 cents, is now more than a US dollar.

  11. Starman, in French they would call that dollar down or euro up thing "bonnet blanc et blanc bonnet" -- it's the same thing! The euro is also strong against the Canadian dollar.

    About Jacques, well, there are two of them. Actually, there are tens of thousands of them in France, but among the building contractors who worked on our attic conversion, there are two. The one who fell and broke his leg is the Jacques nicknamed Coco. He is going back to have his leg reset this month. It hasn't healed properly. It's a sad situation.

    The Jacques whose wife had a stroke is not that Jacques, but a different one. We've known both men for at least 5 or 6 years now.

    Carolyn, Tendre Poulet is titled Dear Inspector in English. The director is Philippe de Broca.

    Mary, yes, disappointing about the dollar. I'm not hoping for a miracle, but it would be nice if the dollar/euro thing stabilized at a reasonable level and the values didn't fluctuate so widely.

  12. Hi Ken,
    In 2009 we were 54 Aussie cents for the Euro. At this time we can get 74c. Not too bad but if we book an apartment in Paris from a US owner, we are currently on parity. We don't wish you to loose value of your US savings but we would enjoy the extra value from our Aussie $.
    What say we compensate you and Walt by buying you lunch in 2012.
    You must promise not to be in Carolina this time.
    We are both enjoying your posts and look forward to your spring and summer stories. Keep well.

  13. Leon and Sue, I'm going to North Carolina next week. So unless you'll be here in March, I'll be here too. Looking forward to it.

  14. Oh, I just realized you mentioned 2012. If I go to N.C. next year, it will probably be in March. My mother is making noises about coming over here, however, in 2012.


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