Jacques Report

Yes, Jacques has been digging. It’s okay: the mice have found the kitchen garden. This is war!

In general the garden is doing pretty well. We are eating all the tomatoes we can stand and reducing the rest to sauce, which we are freezing for winter.
Sometimes things grow where I wish they wouldn’t. You see morning glories burying my nonblooming jasmine. I hope when it clears out I will find the anemones I planted this spring.
To get back to my little wild man, I was prowling the potager, wishing Julien had taken maybe twice as many tomatoes home with him when, underneath the plastic sheeting, I could hear the pitter patter of little feet. I had noticed that something was actually eating a tomato — not a bird or a worm or snail, no, actually eating it. And now here, on the opposite side of the garden, was an actual culprit. No no no: I’ll share, but this was getting out of control. I had no choice but to say the magic words: “Jacques, come here!”

Now, Jacques comes when he figures there is something in it for him. The rest of the time, forget it. Maybe he heard the scratching too. He was there in a flash, pouncing on the little moving bump. Yes!, though I think the bump got away. Since then Jacques has been on permanent mouse patrol. He actually goes through the plants, nudging leaves aside so he can sniff and peer through the foliage.

Sometimes he digs. Yesterday I decided to harvest some potatoes. The tomatoes and squash are fighting for space and the potatoes were looking a little peaked anyway, so why not pull them out. It turns out those little shit rodents were eating the potatoes, too, but only from one plant. Go figure. So of the half dozen plants I pulled out, with a little canine assistance, only that one hole held any real interest for him. I’d pull up a plant, he’d sniff, then look at me. “So why are we here?” Then he’d return to this spot, where he spent a good hour, pretty much the way you see him.

I think he wore himself out. He’s been pretty sedentary for the last 12 hours or so. But I’ll head back out there this afternoon, it being tomato time. I’m sure he’ll be right there with me.

Jacques Loves Summer

He does. Who can blame him? He is sitting on a picnic-blanket-sized towel made by an old friend, who is reviving the handwoven towel craft in rural Turkey. I took this on the terrace the other day — our first sunny day in quite a while. And if you find Jennifer’s Hamam (jenifershamam — If your Instagram feed is a full as mine, you’ll want to find it, look at all her photos, and like mine. Vote early and vote often!) on Instagram and vote for this picture, I just might win a few towels to help us all enjoy our summers a little more. No pressure. He’s so cute, I might win anyway.

Jacques Report

Bonus points if you figured out right away that that’s not Jacques. It’s his fault the little guy is there, though.

It being nearly April, everything around here is popping. Jacques had me up at 4:30 this morning — he fooled me into thinking he had a tummy ache — which is how I discovered the meaning of the expression “up with the birds.” It was at that point when you can just tell that the sun will soon appear. The birds are going nuts. You never hear that much from them in daylight.

I determined that Jacques was faking me out — he took off running the second the door was opened — and went in to make coffee. Then I had to go out again. Jacques had cornered the fluffy white psychopath from across the street. Unlike the little sport killer, Jacques thinks the thing to do with prey is bark at them. So he barked and barked until the psychokiller found an escape route. It made Jacques’ morning, but I wanted to go back to bed. I left the front door open. Jacques likes to hang out at the entrance, keeping watch over his domain.

Thus the bird. He found his way clear up to the top of the house and into my bathroom, the most remote corner at the top of the house. There he perched and probably pooped until he flew out the skylight that I opened for him. At least Jacques didn’t bark.

Jacques Report

Messy Jacques
As there is absolutely nothing going on at the house, I will give you an update on Jacques.
He is six months old now and is making his move into adulthood. In a couple of days we’ll be cutting that short, so to speak. Still, I expect him to keep busy in his newly self-appointed role of house guardian. He does his best to be where he can keep an eye on both me and the door. At night he generally chooses the door. Basically he walks on me until I let him move downstairs.
You can see what’s going on outside. He is perpetually covered in burrs. He smells from rolling in dubious substances. He patrols the yard, keeping the ducks out of his pond and the leaves on his trees absolutely still. He flattens molehills; I can’t wait to see what will happen if he actually finds a mole. The other day he had a great time with our pond rat, almost caught him, too.
He gets tougher by the day but still is devoted to me and to Hortense, his big drink of water on the other side of town.

Jacques Report

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So here he is today. I think he has doubled in size since I brought him home, what, a couple of weeks ago? Notice how he’s not holding still? That’s typical. I believe I got this shot just as he was about to jump up and check out the iPhone. I am making chicken soup for dinner; he may have thought a bit of that lovely poulet noir was attached.

The word for this dog is “mignon.” Fashionably dressed young women leave their shops to run out onto the sidewalk to tell me how cute he is. “Il est si mignon!” It’s one of my new standard phrases, along with “Quel age a-t-il?” Okay, I knew that one, but I didn’t have “how old is he” on the tip of my tongue. Jacques is teaching me French.

If you move to France you have to give up on the idea that your life will function in an efficient manner. You could run into a strike or a demonstration. It could be Sunday or some part of your local merchant’s day or lunchtime off. Or, well, you could have a French puppy. Jacques thinks every moment is another opportunity to play. Today at the flower shop I stood in line and tried to hold my purchases as Jacques tried to consume the nearby tulips. I tried to sweep the floor as Jacques tried to eat the broom; when Moses arrives in June we’ll see about posting video of that. If I were holding Jacques in my lap right now, he’d be walking on the keyboard. He is great fun. He is teaching me to be more French.