31 July 2012

La noisette et le noisetier

In French a "nut" is a walnut, and the word is noix, pronounced [NWAH]. It's a feminine noun, so you say la noix or une noix. The town across the river from Saint-Aignan is called Noyers [nwah-YAY], which means "walnut trees".

There aren't any walnuts on the tree out in the vineyard where we usually see them at this time of year. In autumn, Callie loves to find them on the ground, crack them open in her mouth, spit out the shells, and eat the nut meat. She'll be disappointed this year. Blame weird weather for the barren nut tree this summer.

An immature hazelnut or noisette

There are, however, not many dozens of steps away, some trees/bushes that are covered in "little nuts" ("nutlets"?) or noisettes [nwah-ZEHT], which we call hazelnuts in the U.S., or filberts. In England, they can be called "cobnuts" — but I didn't know that term until I read it a minute ago. In France, the tree — or is it a shrub? — is called a noisetier [nwahz-TYAY] — two syllables — and it's a masculine word like noyer.

The noisetier can also be called a coudrier [koo-dree-AY], and a grove of hazelnut trees is called a coudraie [koo-DRAY], feminine, in France. La Coudraie is the name of a little hamlet in our village, about a kilometer from our own hamlet, and it's a place name that you see frequently around here. Worldwide, the biggest producer of hazelnuts is Turkey (75% of the world's crop). In North America, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia are big hazelnut producers.

30 July 2012

Decidedly less pleasant

I woke up at seven, still in semi-darkness, to the sound of big fat raindrops going splat splat splat on the Velux windows. This photo from yesterday morning's walk was a foreshadowing of what was to come.

Bang goes the tilling I planned to do out in the garden this morning. I couldn't do it yesterday because of Sunday noise restrictions in the village. Maybe tomorrow. I guess I'll go defrost the freezer this morning. Feels like a good day for that kind of work.

July goes out like a cold fish.

High temperature today: about 70ºF (21ºC). End of July! Good-bye July; it was nice to know you — but you won't be missed. As I've said, the weather was very pleasant for a couple of days there. Hurry up, August, and play nice.

29 July 2012

Very pleasant

It's 14ºC outside this morning. When Bert came and meowed at the door leading to the terrace at 6:15, I was surprised at how chilly the air felt when I let him in. Yesterday was a very pleasant day — much cooler than the previous days, but still plenty warm.

Bertie posing for the camera

What Evelyn said in a blog comment yesterday about her daughter's poodle and her own cat really boosted my optimism. Only recently, she said, the poodle has stopped harassing the cat, and that after three years of interaction.

The closeup

At this point, Callie hasn't quite stopped hovering over Bert and lunging at him, but she has definitely become less crazed about it. Bertie doesn't run away any more; he just hunkers down. I'm hoping that by next summer the two will be friends. Bertie is ready. Callie is mellowing. Please tell me it's possible.

Attracted by something in the distance

Bertie the black cat is six years old now. That makes him a year older than Callie the border collie. On many recent afternoons, Callie has spent her time down in the utility room, lying on the cool concrete floor staring into the garage. I think she's waiting for Bert to come in.

Things — and cats — are looking up!

What Callie hasn't realized on those days is that Bertie is up on the terrace or in the living room with Walt and me. He's getting his human contact while Callie is enjoying some peace, quiet, and coolness on the dog days of summer. Now that temperatures have fallen, that pattern might change.

28 July 2012

Bertie on the balcony

Bertie the black cat is having a good summer, despite being harassed at every opportunity by Callie the collie. He's spending a lot of time around and in the house now.

Bertie's balcony perch

27 July 2012

Garden report

I have to keep reminding myself that it's not even August yet. With any luck, we've got at least two months of good weather ahead of us. The eggplant flowers will turn into eggplants, the green peppers will turn red, and we'll bring in a good crop of potatoes. We might even get green beans one day soon.

Waiting for tomatoes to ripen

Yesterday afternoon I went out to check on my blackberries and found that some animal had eaten them all! There weren't that many of them — maybe enough to make one pie — so I'm not too disappointed. The vines are growing strong and that's the important thing for the future. I'd been tasting them nearly every day and was waiting for them to sweeten up a little before I picked them. Somebody beat me to it, and I hope it was an animal and not a person.

Callie and I walked in the woods, where it wasn't
quite as hot as it was out in the sun

Summer skies

Lunch yesterday was sardines out of a tin, cold boiled potatoes, coleslaw, and home-made mayonnaise. It was really too hot to cook much else. We don't have air-conditioning in the house, and we don't get enough truly hot weather to justify having it put in. Besides, I hate air-conditioning, if you want to know the truth. We didn't have it in San Francisco, either, because we didn't need it there. The last time I lived in an air-conditioned house was in Washington DC in the mid-1980s.


We did a lot of weeding yesterday morning, before the sun had had time to heat things up too much. We weeded in anticipation of rain today and over the next few days, when temperatures are supposed to fall back to "normal" levels, or even below normal. We'll have highs in the 70s F instead of the high 80s and low 90s. That'll be nice, but I hope we have some more hot weather before the season ends in October.

26 July 2012

A good reading spot, and more digging

No, not "Dick and Jane" or "See Spot run!" Just a nice spot to have a chair, in the shade but with good light, when we have the kind of weather we are having now. The heat encourages sitting still and reading.

Temperatures approaching 35ºC (95ºF) are predicted for this afternoon. And then thunderstorms tomorrow. Yesterday I finished reading As Always, Julia, which is the 1950s correspondence between Julia Child and her friend and publishing advisor Avis DeVoto. Very interesting.

Yesterday we dug out another tree stump.

But reading isn't the only activity around here. We got the second plum tree stump out of the ground yesterday. It was harder to dig out than the first one was — it seemed to have more roots anchoring it into the soil. The work required a pitchfork, two shovels, the garden hose, and an axe. And a lot of bug-slapping, grunting, and groaning.

Two stumps that will become firewood

I have wondered since the storm that blew the trees down what it was that made them so vulnerable. It could have been their location near the garden shed and the direction of the wind that February night in 2010. Maybe the strong wind blowing over and around the shed and its roof set up some kind of turbulence that the trees were caught in. I say that, but another plum tree on neighboring land also blew over, and our neighbors lost three apple trees to the wind also.

New cones on the blue spruce tree under which
I've been doing my afternoon reading

Whatever — more firewood for the winter, and now we have a place to plant a new tree. We'll buy one from a plant nursery, or maybe two. A cherry tree for sure. What else would be good? Ooh, a cognassier — that's a quince tree.

25 July 2012

Confiture de rhubarbe

Because of the weird weather, there's not much fruit on the trees this year. There were some cherries earlier, and the little pear tree in the yard has quite a few pears on it, but there are almost no apples, few plums, and no walnuts that I've seen.

On the other hand, because of the wet weather, aided by some well-timed weeding that Walt did in March, we have had a magnificent crop of rhubarb. If, like me, you grew up or live in a region with a warm climate, you might not be very familiar with the vegetable treated like a fruit that is rhubarb. It's a perennial that comes up from the roots (rhizomes) every spring, with thick reddish stems and large green leaves.

Rhubarb cooking into jam

Rhubarb likes to be watered abundantly. It also needs cold winter weather to thrive. We had those conditions this year, with a very hard three-week freeze in February, and then abundant rains from the beginning of April through most of July.

The rhubarb patch out in the garden

You eat only the thick, stringy stems of the rhubarb plant. The leaves are mildly toxic. You take the strings off the stems the way you do with celery. A friend told me that you can eat them raw, dipped in sugar. You can also cook them into pies, compote, or jam. Rhubarb is good combined with apples, strawberries, or other fruits. Or by itself.

The rhubarb after it spent 18 hours in sugar, before cooking began

I made rhubarb jam yesterday. Walt harvested several kilos of stems, and after I trimmed them up I had three kilos to cook. I added three kilos of sugar — rhubarb has a tart taste so I used quite a bit to make it sweet. The chopped up rhubarb stems and the sugar, mixed together in a big stainless steel pot, macerated together overnight, until all the sugar had liquified.

Jars of rhubarb jam cooling upside down

Then I put the pot on the stove and brought it up to the boil, adding the juice of a lemon and two teaspoonfuls of vanilla extract. After fifteen minutes, the rhubarb stems were cooked, I could tell. And that's when things got sticky. I decided to strain the rhubarb out of the sugar syrup and run it through a food mill to remove any remaining fibrous strings from the mixture.

It worked, but it took a while, turning the food mill's crank and slowly pureeing the heavy, sticky rhubarb stems into a smooth pulp. When I had done as much as I could manage, I put the pulp back into the syrup, which was bubbling away on the stove. I let it cook until the temperature reached 105ºC (220ºF) and then put the jammy jelly up in sterilized jars.

I ended up with six jars of jam, of various sizes.
That should keep us for a year or more.

I haven't really tasted it yet, except little dabs while I was cooking. In a few minutes, after I walk the dog, I'm going to make some good tartines of toasted bread, butter, and rhubarb jam. I'll report back.

* * *


24 July 2012

Un blaireau — un vrai

The word blaireau [bleh-'roh] has a couple of meanings in French. The first one I knew, I think, was "shaving brush" — the stubby little brush you use to lather up a piece of soap in a bowl and then lather up your face before shaving. I used to shave that way when I living in Paris as a young man. Barbers use them, or used to.

The second meaning of blaireau is the real one. Un blaireau is the animal we call a badger in English. Different badger species live in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. They're related to weasels and ferrets. The European badger is a lot bigger — heavier — than the American variety, weighing as much as 20 kilograms or close to 50 pounds (Callie weighs a little less than that). European badgers are omnivorous, not exclusively carnivorous. And they are nocturnal or crespuscular — we don't see them very often.

July vineyard view

I've seen a blaireau out in and vineyard several times, early in the morning. The first time I saw one run across the road and down a row of vines, my initial thought was that it was a big cat. But it was just too big, and it ran along on its short legs with its tail sticking straight out behind it. Later, a neighbor told me that she frequently ses a big badger along the paved road that runs down the hill toward the river when she leaves home early in the morning to drive to work.

Marguerites — daisies — in the back yard

I haven't been able to take any pictures of badgers.

Yesterday, we realized that we have a badger, or maybe more than one, prowling around in our yard at night. Badgers are powerful diggers — they are burrowers — so a wire fence like ours will not keep them out of the yard. We haven't seen the trespassing badger or badgers, but yesterday we saw clear evidence of their presence.

A bird in the top of a tall evergreen tree in the yard

I went out to start digging up another tree stump, and Walt was out getting the lawn mower ready for the day's work. I noticed a fairly big hole in the ground near the garden shed. It was about 20 cm (8 inches) across and just as deep. I asked Walt if he had dug out a plant of some kind there. He hadn't. We examined the hole and realized it was a wasps' nest that had been uncovered by an animal. The only animal we could think of that would be capable of digging such a hole overnight in our hard, rocky ground was a badger.

Early morning in July

A week or two ago, Walt told me he had seen a little pile of dung full of cherry or plum pits on the ground near the vegetable garden plots. We often see those out on the gravel and paved roads around the vineyard, and I always thought they were deer droppings. We don't think deer can jump over our fence or the back gate, but maybe they can.

The house leek flowers have finally started opening up.

Anyway, now I'm thinking that the pit-studded droppings are actually being left by badgers, which eat fruit and roots as well as insects, rodents, frogs, snakes, and earthworms. And they are known to dig up underground wasps' and bumblebees' nests and feed on the contents.

Looking out across the river valley

The word blaireau derives from an old French word bler, meaning spotted, speckled, flecked, grizzled — referring to its coat's different colored markings, in other words. The female blaireau is the blairelle, and the little ones are blaireautins. The European badger is a social animal, living in groups numbering as many as two dozen individuals.

23 July 2012

Great weather

We're having fine weather this week. I have to go out and dig up another tree stump. And do other chores. After the walk with Callie, of course.

Familiar image

22 July 2012

Can you dig it?

Dig it out, I mean. I didn't know if, at age 63, I could do it. Well, I could, and I did. Walt helped by getting out the ax at the critical moment and severing the last thick root that was holding the stump in the ground. Then we were finally able to pick it up and move it.

Before moving to France, the last time I had done physical work — hard labor — was in 1971, when I was 22 years old and had just graduated from college — university, they say outside the U.S.A. I spent that summer of 1971 working for the Pickard Roofing Company in Durham, North Carolina. (I'm leaving out all the times we moved all our belongings from apartment to apartment, house to house, city to city over the years.)

Me in silhouette taking a picture of the stump I dug out yesterday.

My first assignment at Pickard was helping a crew of professional roofers — couvreurs, or "coverers" in French — put a new tar paper and hot tar roof on a tobacco warehouse. It was hell on high, meaning two or three stories up during a torrid North Carolina summer. I remember hauling big heavy rolls of tar paper on my shoulder up a long tall ladder.

Digging, cutting, lifting, and pulling

Temperatures on the roof must have approached 45ºC, or 110ºF. At the end of the day, my clothes and shoes were spotted with sticky black tar, which we melted in big ovens while up on the roof and mopped onto the tar-paper-covered surface. A Durham tobacco warehouse can cover thousands of square feet — a full city block, in U.S. terms. The job took six weeks to complete.

Our house on the edge of the vineyard, with fog
down in the river valley below

So 32 years later, in 2003, I retired (or just quit work) and Walt and I moved to France. Ever since — nine years now — I've been working like a dog. Sweating. Aching. Recovering. It's either sanding or painting, stripping off wallpaper, tilling up garden plots, cutting back blackberry brambles, pruning tree limbs, raking up leaves, or hauling wheelbarrow loads of junk or debris from one place to another.

And now it's digging out tree stumps. Two plum trees (R.I.P.) in the back yard blew over in a big wind storm two or three years ago. Only now are we finally digging out the stumps. Doing it turned out to be easier than I feared. The plan is to plant a cherry tree where the two old plum trees once stood.

I hope the exercise (or work) doesn't kill me. Time will tell.

21 July 2012

Pasta and smoked salmon

A week or so ago, I bought a shrink-wrapped package of smoked salmon at the supermarket. Yesterday, I realized we really ought to eat it. But how? Walt said he could make bagels, but that really takes a significant amount of time and effort.

The salmon I had was the cold-smoked kind — basically cured raw salmon. With some hot-smoked salmon we made a month of two ago, we had put together — improvised — a pasta dish with cream that was pretty good. This time, I went looking for a recipe.

Here I am hungry before dawn just looking at these photos...

The first recipe that popped up when I searched on Google was one by Elise, who has many great recipes and food ideas on a site called Simply Recipes. Here's a link to it and to the recipe I followed. I highly recommend it. You can't go wrong with Elise's recipes.

I had some big Spirolini pasta I wanted to use, but any pasta would be good. Otherwise, I modified the recipe only slightly. For example, I used lime zest and juice instead of lemon, because I happened to have a lime in the refrigerator. I think the lime flavor was really good with the fish. And I used just shallots (two medium) instead of shallots and garlic. Onion (one medium) would be fine too. And I put in more salmon and pine nuts (pignons de pin) than Elise's recipe called for, making the dish richer. Oh, and I added a couple of fresh cut-up tomatoes at the end too.

The smoked salmon cooked just slightly in the hot pasta
and cream — it was succulent, as we say in France.

Yesterday it rained all morning, and even in the afternoon it was too wet to do much outside. Early in the day, I went and got a haircut (merci, Madame Barbier), drove to a Monsieur Bricolage store over near Montrichard to get some special paint for radiators that I had read about, and then came home and cooked. You see the result. I went to bed early last night so here I am blogging (vacation? what vacation?) at five in the morning.

20 July 2012


Yesterday was mostly nice, but it's really raining this morning. So here I am at my computer. And here are a couple of shots of some of the work Walt did.

Making some headroom so mowing under this
old « sapin de Noël » will be easier.

My next job is tilling up two more garden plots, where we'll plant greens, chard, carrots, and turnips for harvesting in November. Since the summer garden is small this year, we're hoping for an autumn bounty.

19 July 2012


One of my purposes in posting to this "web log" on a regular basis is to keep a record and history of the time we spend, the projects we undertake and complete, and the movement of the seasons. The blog is the best way I've found to index the photos I take so that I can find them later. Many of the words in my text are actually "keywords" that I can search on.

So here it is. I wasn't thinking about this aspect of the blog when I decided a few days ago that I was tired of posting every day. For you, the web log aspect might not be very interesting, but there you go.

Can you tell that there's a fence under there somewhere?
That was the back corner a few weeks ago.

Yesterday we made enormous progress on a project that had been nagging at me for months. On the north side of our property — on the opposite side from the road — there's no hedge. And there's no neighbor. The land is owned by somebody, but maintained by nobody. Small aspen, sloe, and birch trees, along with "escaped" grapevines and blackberry brambles, have taken it over.

This is the same corner from the outside. Under the tarp is a
"burn pile," and that's my plum tree with the reddish leaves.

I've been told that I would be within my rights to go down to the mairie [may-'Ree], the village hall, and file a complaint against the owner of that piece of land. Then he or she would be required to have it cleaned up, because it has become a haven for undesirable animals and plants. Actually, I like having those woods there, and the animals don't bother me. It's the plants — the invasive ones.

A while back, I started cutting and I uncovered the thornless
blackberry bush
that I planted a couple of years ago.

The first year we lived here, we had a fence built all around the yard to keep the dog in. We put a low wire fence in under the hedge all around, because that was enough to keep poor old Collette (pre-Callie) from going through and risking her life on the road or annoying the neighbors. We had a higher fence put up on the north side, where there's no hedge.

Problem is, the blackberry brambles and untended grapevines end up growing through the fence and over it. They get heavy and they start to weigh the fence down. I'm afraid they might pull it down completely. And the blackberry thorns are particularly obnoxious.

"Damn the thorns, I'm going in!"

Once I asked the woman we bought the house from how she and her late husband dealt with the invading vines and brambles. She said they just threw a lot of strong herbicides out there to hold them back. I didn't like the idea of doing that. I understand, though, that we are allowed to clean up a one-meter-wide strip along and outside our fence in a situation like this one, where nobody else is going to do it.

So there's no solution except to get in there with pruning shears, clippers, and limb loppers and start hacking away at the jungle of thorny vegetation that's trying to take over that side of our yard. That's what we've been doing this month. The brambles are — were, I'm glad to say — especially thick and tangled at the very back corner of the yard, where I've tilled up a garden plot. The soil there is loose and loamy.

How's this? Soon we'll be able to get the mower in here.

Yesterday, we got through it, with Walt working from one direction and me from the other. The goal is to get a clear strip opened up all down the fence (about 70 meters, or 225 feet) so that we can run the lawn mower through there on a regular basis, and so that we don't have to do the same hacking job again next year. Today I'm nursing my thorn wounds. Anyway, it's raining again, so I'll go back to painting a radiator.

17 July 2012

Un grand merci

Thanks to all of you — I won't name names — for the comments. I'm enjoying the "vacation" already. So many projects to fill the days.

16 July 2012

A thrill

It's exciting to think that today I'm going to do a bunch of things around the house and yard and not tell anybody about it! It's like keeping secrets. Heh heh heh.

15 July 2012

Used to...

You know, I used to smoke. I had a really hard time quitting.

One day, I guess, I'll be saying: "You know, I used to blog. I had a really hard time quitting."

I wouldn't be the only blogger who ever quit blogging. I know several who have, so I know it's possible.

The question is whether or not to go quietly. Some blogs I've enjoyed reading over the years have just disappeared one day. The blogger was never heard from again. It happens with commenters too — they just vanish. I hate that.

One blogger I used to enjoy reading said he quit because blogging was preventing him from doing other things that he wanted and needed to do. I'm not sure I feel that way about it. There are certainly a lot of other things I need to do around the house and in the yard and garden, but then those are things I have always blogged about.

Another blogger friend said she quit because she didn't really enjoy writing, and especially didn't enjoy trying to come up with "interesting" subjects to write about on a regular basis. That part has never bothered me — I just write down whatever pops into my head. (You don't have to read it...)

Doing otherwise makes the blog turn into something resembling a work obligation, and I certainly don't want that. The yard and house give me plenty of work to do already. And weeds don't stop growing when you're tired. Radiators, window frames and sills, and balcony edges need paint. Dog hair needs vacuuming up. Plants need repotting. I have reading I really want to do but never seem to find time for. Hey, I'm supposed to be retired!

So why am I having what might be the blogger version of an existential crisis? Maybe I just need a vacation. Or maybe I need a new subject, a new focus. Hey, maybe I could just write about the weather for a while!

If I do stop or cut back on the blog, what will I do with all the pictures I take. Will I stop taking them? How many more pictures of the vines, the dog, the flowers, the skies, can you stand? So many questions...

I guess this is my way of saying that I'm going to try to take a two-month vacation. No visitors until late September. No travels until November or December. We are so far behind because we were far too busy last summer with visitors and travels around France. Then we had a hard winter. We had constant rain from April 1 until ... well, today, in fact ... and we went away for two weeks in May right when it was time to be planting the garden and getting a head start on weed-control.

On another front, I'm now getting 50 to 100 spam comments on the blog every day. The Blogger spam filter is catching them. But I have to look through them all every day and see if there are any non-spam comments being caught in the net. And they are clogging up my e-mail big-time — every time somebody — anybody, even a robot — leaves a comment, I get an e-mail containing the content.

Therefore, I'm going to have to turn the word verification feature back on. Sorry to make it more difficult for you to comment, but I'm feeling just slightly overwhelmed.

14 July 2012

Painting radiators

Have you ever lived in a house that was heated by steam (or hot water) running through old cast-iron radiators? It's a good kind of heat — I like it better than the forced-air heating systems we had in houses and apartments in California.

Like everything else, the old radiators need periodic maintenance. In our house, which has 9 or 10 of the things in it, they especially need paint right now. Over the past nine years, I've painted two of them. In both cases — one in the kitchen, the other in the W.C. — I've unscrewed the pipes, taken the radiators off the wall, and laid them down on the floor to do the job of washing, scraping, priming, and painting them.

I put pieces of cardboard behind the radiator to protect the wall
while I was spraying and washing the thing.

The main problem with that is that the bigger radiators weigh a ton. Walt and I can't even lift some of them. I've tried to rent some kind of dolly, jack, cart, or other apparatus we could use to lift them up off their mounting brackets and move them away from the wall, but with no luck.

Besides, before you can unscrew the pipes and take down a radiator, you have to empty the whole heating system of water. That means hooking a garden hose up to the boiler down in the utility room and letting all the water run out of the tank and all the radiators either into the yard or into the sewer. It takes an hour or two for it all to drain out. I don't know how much water the system holds, but I do know that you have to refill the boiler before you can use the heat again. Then you have to go around the house and bleed all the radiators. It's a lot of trouble.

We repainted the kitchen radiator a few years ago by taking it down
off the wall. The wall behind it needed repainting as well.

So now, since we are suffering from cabin fever, what with all the rain all the time, I've decided to start working on a "test" radiator to see if I can actually repaint it in place. Yesterday I worked on cleaning one in the hallway that's easy to get to — spraying it with water and then a solution of bleach and soap, and finally spraying it again with water to rinse it off. I used a rag and an old toothbrush as needed to remove all the dust and dirt that had accumulated on the radiator ribs and pipes.

Now I have to paint it. I can't decide whether spray-painting it or painting it with a brush would be better. I guess I'll try the brush first. I'm hoping the radiator won't look worse when I finish than it did before I started. Any ideas?

13 July 2012

Blues... and yellows

La morosité règne en France cet été. As in Normandy, we no longer say « il pleut ». We say « i'r'pleut ». That is, in proper French, « il repleut ». Autrement dit, "it's raining again."

I know you're tired of hearing about this reality from me. Tant pis. C'est comme ça. Normally, at this time of year we have a table and chairs set up out in the back yard, under a big umbrella, for outdoors lunches and dinners. Not this year. No point.

I'm decorating this post with pictures I've taken
recently out in the vineyard.

In other news, Peugeot announced yesterday that it is going to eliminate 8,000 jobs in France and close down a Citroën factory in Aulnay-sous-Bois, just north of Paris. It seems that Peugeot and Citroën cars are caught in the middle. They're too expensive compared to cars built in Romania or Poland, but they don't have the image de marque that German cars like Audi and BMW enjoy among people who can afford more expensive vehicles.

I have a Peugeot. I really like the car. I've had it for 9 years now, but I bought it used and it will be 12 years old in December. It can pass for a much newer model. When the time comes to buy a second car — we'll keep the old Peugeot if we can — I want it to be a Citroën. No, not a Deux Chevaux (2CV) but a newer Citroën, like a C3 or a C4.

I guess we should all get used to rising prices for cars and fuel, and a more limited choice when it comes to buying a car. One thing I've already gotten used to is having a very small car. Most people around here do, compared to the situation in the land of mega-vehicles, the USA. I enjoy zipping around on the narrow country lanes here, where you have to pull partially off the roadway to let an oncoming car pass you, the few times that you encounter one.

One day an American friend who was riding with me, when I pulled halfway off the pavement like that to let an oncoming car pas, asked: "Are you sure this is a two-way road?" I was.

Well, it's time to take Callie out for her walk — avant qu'il ne r'pleuve... Today is supposed to be the worst day yet, with more than an inch of rain before it's over. Maybe we're touching the bottom. It is Friday the 13th, after all.

P.S. Too late. I'r'pleuvait quand je suis sorti pour la promenade.