Harvest Report

We haven’t actually had much in the way of summer weather. It looks like spring is going to morph right into fall, with only the length of day to cause anything to grow. Well, plus all the rain. It has rained pretty much every night and quite a few days, too.

It’s a pattern that has favored smaller fruit and vegetables. You can see that the San Marzanos are doing great, as are the cherry tomatoes and this smaller variety that I hope sticks around. The big guys are a sick yellow, still, and splitting from all the water. I put a reflective mat under the vines, to encourage early growth. I think the bees were drawn to the warmth as well, because the germination rate was huge. The neighbors hardly have tomatoes at all. Heh heh heh.

This butternut squash is actually bigger than it looks, close to being as big as Jacques’ head. I have two or three that size, thanks to all the rain. I guess I can roast and freeze it.

I won’t be showing you an overall shot of the potager. The potato leaves are yellowing and the weeds are everywhere. Julien and I weed enough that he takes a truckload of green waste in every couple of weeks and still, it’s bad. So, a bumper crop of dandelions for all you winemakers out there. My liitle kitchen garden looks pretty ratty, but it’s producing like crazy. I’ll keep it going until the Brussels sprouts are finished.

You also won’t see the berries because I keep eating them. Content yourself with my first tiny crop of grapes. I had to look a while to find a bunch that hadn’t been taste-tested into oblivion. They really are excellent, seedless and better tasting than the ones I buy at the market. These are trained against a wall across from the terrace. Looking at them, you might almost imagine that it’s warm outside.

The peaches are small, but getting there. And this apple tree is almost doing too well. I’d like to start picking them, but I don’t know when a Reine de Reinette is ripe. Maybe that one at the upper left?

Last one, I promise. Rose hips. Julien stuck some rugosa rose cuttings into the ground intending to transplant them. Then he didn’t. Apparently the spread by their roots because they are taking over, and fast. They, along with the sumac and raspberry roots, are likely Julien’s full-employment program. I guess the rose hips are for me.

It’s tea time. See you!

Quite a Day

I don’t usually think through my posts. If they seem stream-of-consciousness to you, that’s because they are, pretty much. This time I’m hoping to think it through enough that I don’t write something I’ll regret.

Afghanistan has just fallen. Yesterday, I think, Kabul was taken so, game over. My theory? I have one, but it’s pretty uninformed, based on a little reading, conversations with friends who served there and my own trips to the Middle East, though never to Afghanistan. So really, more opinion than theory and no point in posting it. But if my barns are suddenly filled with little apartments to handle the new influx of refugees, don’t be surprised.

Instead, let’s talk country house bling: my new rider mower. The old one, after five years of hard service, died. Julien pushed it way beyond its recommended limits but kept it maintained. Eventually, like an old car, it required a repair that would cost almost as much as a new mower, and would still need lots of work in the future, so a new mower it is. Julien has a buddy who soups up old tractor mowers and races them, so, win-win. He gets a new toy and I get a little cash. I hope to find one of these races and tell you all about it.

The new mower was delivered yesterday. The brand came out tops in my online research and this is the new model — not more than the top of my price range and with a new feature that facilitates cleaning. The old one had these handles for steering, which I found rather intimidating. This one, as you see, has a steering wheel. I may start mowing my own lawn, unless I can get Jacques to do it.

Politics, show-and-tell, now for the dirt. I signed up for one of those dating sites: Elite Rencontres, if there are any lurkers out there thinking “How can I meet this wonderful woman?” Elite, that’s your ticket. It’s actually quite interesting. These guys are serious, frankly more serious than am I, and I’m not wading through dozens of posts written by married guys looking for a fling. I’m okay with dating sites; I met Robert and Jean-Yves through them, after all. The guy that I spoke with yesterday, one that I met through a different site which shall remain nameless, gave me a new appreciation for the men that are my friends.

I’m not going to go all Andrew Cuomo, “balance ton porc” on you. You need to be able to make a power play to merit that and with me at least, what gives this guy his power, money, is irrelevant. He wasn’t a sleazeball — well, okay, maybe a bit, but the class version, like the VCs who hang out at a certain Silicon Valley restaurant with upstairs rooms. But the VCs hire the hookers in the bar, so at least the women get a bit of cash for themselves, and this guy didn’t want to pay. Well, maybe he’d put the drinks on his tab.

So it was basically a job interview. And, having been through a few of those before, I knew to listen for clues regarding what might be in this job for me. Spoiler: it wasn’t much.

He inherited his father’s house and was renovating it. He let his dad live in the crumbly old pile just as it was. Now that it was his house, time to fix things up. Maybe Dad said no thanks to any improvements, but still. Hmm. Then, first question, mind you, would I be willing to sell up and move to Normandy, where the weather is awful but I guess the cider is pretty good. Really, give up my whole life? I’ve done it before and would do it again for the right reason, but was he offering a right reason? Ah, no, not really.

Marriage, with all its legal protections, would be out. That was the second thing he brought up. The last three guys died on me, so believe me, I think a lot about what happens when it’s all over. Robert and Jean-Yves, each in his own way, made sure I was protected. This guy, nope, apparently not what he has in mind.

So I’m thinking deal-breaker right there, let’s see what else he has to say. Maybe he can salvage things. I think you get the drift: he didn’t. I think he had a list of questions; he kept looking down, then looking up and asking a pretty standard job-interview-type question. This deal was going to be on his terms, plain and simple. Her terms, whoever she may be, were irrelevant. He wanted someone pretty enough to impress his friends, good company, good in bed. End of story. To his credit, he was quite open about it. If he had any deeper connection in mind, he gave no hint of it. He loves his kids but the women in his life, maybe not so much.

He’ll find what he’s looking for. There is surely some very pretty, more-or-less age-appropriate actress, maybe — no disrespect to actresses, just saying they know how to present themselves to the public, a trait I do not have at all and which I sometimes wish I did — barely making ends meet who will go for it. I’ve been poor. I never took the deal but I get it. Or maybe someone who is doing fine, thanks, but wouldn’t mind a presentable companion, so more a social than an emotional connection. Whatever. I hope it lasts and I wish them both well.

Me? I had friends coming to dinner and bolognese sauce simmering. I sent off a couple of messages to guys in Affiny — the “lots of fish in the sea” gesture — and set the table.

Time to shake it off, I guess. Dinner was terrific, the best antidote. Piano lesson tonight. Other friends are coming this weekend. Music festival this weekend. Beach house with another group of friends next week. Then more music festival. A pretty busy few weeks after that. I have other things to do.