28 February 2023

C'est arrivé en février

In February 2016, we had a lean-to greenhouse built (or put together) and bolted to the exterior wall of our house over the back door. It was delivered as a kit. Putting the greenhouse there to make the utility room less drafty made for a big improvement in our living conditions.


In February 2015, we bought a second car. It's a Citroën C4 and we still have it, along with the Peugeot we had bought in 2003. We had lived with one car for 12 years. It wasn't always easy, given the lack of public transit around Saint-Aignan. There weren't even taxis around here back then. Having two cars is better out here in the country. Again, our life improved.

In February 2007, our dog Callie was born. We brought her home 10 weeks later, and she passed away at the age of ten. She was neurotic and shy. In other words, she had personality. I still miss her. That's her below.
It's ironic that Callie hated riding in the car. The years we had her were our traveling years. We took her on trips often, to places like the Île d'Oléron off the Atlantic coast near Bordeaux; the Cantal département in the Auvergne (central France); le Perche on the southern edge of Normandy; and the Chablis area in Burgundy. She was a year old in the photos here.

27 February 2023

Février 2005 (4)

Today's is the fourth and last post in th1s series about the gare d'eau (ou petit port) over in Noyers, across the river from Saint-Aignan. It's just over two miles from our house. Following my theme of the past couple of months, I'm posting photos I've taken over the years during the month we're living through today. This batch is made up of February images. I'll have to find one more, at least, for the last day of the month.

I wish the photos were less "noisy" (grainy) but there not much I can do about that, given digital photos taken on a gray, gloomy winter day with a camera that would now qualify as an antique. According to the time-stamp the camera saved with the pictures, I took these five photos in the space of 11 minutes on a walk with our dog Collette around 10 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2005.

26 February 2023

Février 2005 (3)

Well, this morning I won't be going over to Noyers for a walk around the petit port du canal de Berry. It's just too cold outside, and my cold isn't completely gone yet. I don't want to have a relapse. Let me ask Evelyn: do you recognize the canal as the body of water where your B&B was in 2021? In the big picture at the center of this post, you can see the village church, which is just across the street from the B&B.

The image on the right just above is a close-up of the reflection you see in the photo on the left.

25 February 2023

Février 2005 (2)

Here are some more pictures of the western end of the Canal de Berry at Noyers-sur-Cher, across the Cher river from Saint-Aignan. It's a good place to go for a walk with the dog.

24 February 2023

Février 2005 (1)

One thing I used to enjoy doing on Sunday mornings in winter was take our first dog, Collette, over to Noyers-sur-Cher for a walk around the end point of the Canal de Beery. Sundays are hunting days here and there used to be half a dozen or so men out in the vineyard, toting rifles and shooting at game birds and hares, by 9:00 a.m. That's just a few minutes after the sun rises on the shortest days of winter. It didn't feel safe to go out into the vineyard with the dog, so we'd drive the three or four miles over to the canal terminus and walk there, where there were no hunters.

The canal de Berry, known early on as the canal du Cher, was built between 1808 and 1840. It was — still is, I think — 320 kilometers (200 miles) long and ended at Saint-Aignan/Noyers where the Cher river itself became navigable. The canal was dug just in time for the arrival of railroads, which quickly made it obsolete. Still, it remained in use until 1945 and finally de-commissioned in 1955. There really isn't any boat traffic on the Cher river these days.

The banks of the canal and the little port that marks its terminus is a fairly atmospheric place on winter mornings. The water doesn't really flow and its surface is often glassy smooth. Reflections on the water of the trees and houses that line the canal's banks are striking. A few colorful canal boats are on display in dry dock. Sometimes there are fisherman sitting at water's edge trying to catch a fish or two for lunch. And some of the people who live near the canal keep chickens, or at least used to.

These are some photos I took on February 6, 2005. Maybe I'll take Tasha over there for a walk this coming Sunday morning, weather conditions permitting.

23 February 2023

Février 2003 (16)

The place des Vosges straddles the 3rd and 4th arrondissements of Paris. Combined, the two arrondissements occupy about one square mile of land in the center of the city. The population of that plot of land is approximately 65,000. Obviously, that's a densely populated urban area. The place des Vosges is a vast open space in the middle of concentrated urban density. Paris is, if I'm not mistaken, the most densely populated major city in Europe.

Vosges, by the way, is pronounced [vohzh] — [zh] is the sound of the S in the word "measure."

These are photos I took in the month of February. The place can get pretty crowded in spring and summer.

22 February 2023

Février 2003 (15)

This is the place des Vosges in central Paris. It was built as a residential complex and was called la place Royale until the French Revolution of 1789. Construction began in 1605 under the reign of French king Henri IV and was completed in 1612. King Henri was assassinated by a religious fanatic in 1610.


21 February 2023

Février 2003 (14)

One of the main streets in the Marais neighborhood in Paris is la rue Vieille-du-Temple. It was in existence as early as the 13th century. Walt and I spent a week in an apartment on this street, near its intersection with the rue des Francs-Bourgeois, in the year 2000. We had a friend who lived just across the street from the Bar des Philosophes back then. I wonder if she still lives there today....

I had lived not very far away, on the rue Saint-Sauveur just steps off the rue Montorgueil in the 2nd arrondissement, back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Friends of mine in those days lived on the rue des Archives and the rue du Bourg-Tibourg, so I was over in the Marais a lot. Those were good years. In some ways, my French was probably better back then than it is now. In 1981 I met Walt and in 1982 we left Paris and went to live in Washington DC on Capitol Hill. In 1983 I was hired as a editor at the US Information Agency by CHM. I was in my early 30s. In 1986, Walt and I moved to California and stayed there, in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, until we came to live in France in 2003. We traveled to France every year during that time for vacations and/or work.

I'm posting these photos just because I like the color contrasts, and because they bring back so many memories. Ironically, one of the first people we met when we came to live in Saint-Aignan 20 years ago, a man named Jean-Luc who passed away prematurely in 2009 at the age of 52, had grown up in the Marais neighborhood. He and I spoke the same language (Parisian French) and used many of the same expressions. We had frequented many of the same places years before we met each other and became friends. It's too bad he left us at such a young age.

20 February 2023

Février 2003 (13)

The 4th arrondissement of Paris is in the center of the city and includes many famous Paris landmarks and neighborhoods — Notre-Dame cathedral and the île de la Cité, l'île Saint-Louis, la place des Vosges, the Marais neighborhood, la tour Saint-Jacques, l'Hôtel de Ville, and le centre Pompidou. On a February day in 2003, I spent part of the afternoon walking around in the 4th and taking pictures.

Health update: not much change. To me what I have feels like an allergy attack. Walt has a bad sore throat and is cold all the time. I still don't have any fever. I'm coughing a little but sneezing even more.

19 February 2023

Février 2003 (12)

On my 24-hour layover day in Paris in February 2003, I took more than 500 pictures. So it won't surprise you if I tell you that there are nearly half a million images in my photo database. I was staying overnight in a hotel near les Invalides. It was a neighborhood Walt and I knew a little, and the first two restaurants below, le Centenaire and le Rcrutement, were places where he and I had enjoyed meals several times.

Below, the restaurant des Mauvais Garçons is another place where we had had dinner a few years earlier. It's on a street called la rue des Mauvais Garçons near the Hôtel de Ville. A woman we knew lived near there and had recommended the restaurant. She went to dinner there with us.

Walt and I also once enjoyed having a meal at the restaurant Sara Bernhardt at Châtelet. It was a cold, damp, and windy day. I think we both had colds. The food was hot and nourishing and the café's windows were all fogged up. During a gusty snow shower, a flower pot blew off the balcony of an apartment above the restaurant and crashed onto the sidewalk. If I remember correctly... Finally, I've never had a meal at the Café-Brasserie aux PTT, but it's on my list of places I'd like to try if and when I get back to Paris one day. It's on the rue Cler, the famous market street near the place de l'Ecole Militaire and not far from the Eiffel Tower. The café gets good reviews on Trip Advisor.

18 February 2023

Février 2003 (11)

My February 2003 trip to France began in Rouen and ended in Paris. On the last day, Feb. 11, I took a long walk around Paris and took pictures. I'm not sure why I went where I did. Maybe I was looking for a specific restaurant for lunch that day. I can't remember. Here are a few pictures from near the place de la Bastille and at the place des Vosges.

Status quo on the health front: no better, no worse. Walt now has no voice. But neither of us has any fever.