Monday, July 27, 2015

Picture Of The Day: Old Stone Stairs

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Stone staircase  spotted at a Côte Du Rhône vineyard.



Training For The Yearly Pétanque Tournament

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The yearly pétanque tournament in our village here in the Auvergne is scheduled for this coming week-end, so Mr, Pardon Me has been busy training for the event.  Every night at around 7 pm,  our neighbors join him on the dirt path in front of our house for a game or two.
Since our 'course de pétanque' is so rocky and uneven, it is virtually impossible to truly aim at the little cochonet, the small wooden ball one has to aim for. I joke with the neighbors that we are playing 'extreme pétanque', rather than the slightly easier version played on an actual court.

Since pétanque has become a big part of our summers here, one f our outings last week was to the Obut museum and store attached to its factory.  Obut is the number one manufacturer of boules world-wide and happens to be located in Saint-Bonnet-le-Château, right here in the Auvergne.  The museum is small, but quite interesting for those passionate about pétanque.
Besides an overview of the history of the game, the museum shows the step-by-step process involved in manufacturing boules.  Did you know that the actual boule is hollow?  I did not either.
Most boules are made of steel, but Obut now manufactures sets in carbon and inbox.  Obviously, those are for professionals and are quite pricey. They are for sale in the boutique, where one can also purchase monogramed boules.
We certainly don't play well enough to have our initials engraved in special boules.  Perhaps one day.
Our visit to Obut included lunch in their new restaurant, overlooking Saint-Bonnet-le-Château.
The restaurant includes a few pétanque courts, so we took advantage and played a game before lunch.

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At the Obut museum
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'Le Plaisir de la pétanque' by B. Morvan
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an old lathe used to make cochonets in the past.
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a collection of old nail-studded wooden boules 
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The pétanque courts inside the Obut restaurant.
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The view from the restaurant's terrace



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Sunny Market Day In Issoire

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The weather has been absolutely splendid here in the Auvergne, though the heat continues to be a problem.  Our neighbors seem to be spending most of their days behind closed shutters, only coming out towards evening.  We, on the other hand, go about our business, working outdoors and going to the market.  Coming from New York, we are used to heat, I guess.  Not so the Auvergnats.
This past Saturday was market day in Issoire.  Buying produce at the market is always one of my favorite activities while I am here, so despite the heat, we did not miss it.
As in years past, I had to marvel at the freshness, the quality and, most of all, the variety of fruit and vegetables.  Since the area around Issoire is mostly rural, one can also purchase live chickens, ducks and turkeys here.
Issoire is currently celebrating different cultures and has invited music and dance groups from around the world.  A group from Panama danced through the narrow streets right past the shoppers and vendors' stalls, which was delightful.
The previous Saturday, a young woman, accompanied by her friends was collecting money for her upcoming wedding.  My 83-year old father gave her 5 Euros and was treated to a kiss on the cheek.  He was charmed, of course. That's him surrounded by young ladies in the photos below in one of the main squares in Issoire.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Of Gardening In 100 Degree Weather In The Auvergne

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Summer 2015: Nothing but blue skies in the Auvergne 
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Parched fields behind our house
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The sunflowers that were in full bloom a week ago, are dropping their heads
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Cows huddling together in the heat
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Most days are spent under the linden tree, under the orange umbrella. Notice the dust under the table, where normally grass grows.
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No matter the heat, the garden needs tending.
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There are weeds to be pulled.
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New vines to water.
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The jasmine I planted last year seems to thrive in the heat.
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The shade garden I planted last year has miraculously survived 
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With constant watering, I am able to keep most flowers in bloom
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Mr. Pardon installed a drip irrigation system to help me keep up with all the watering.
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I am very thankful, and so are the plants.
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In the warm breeze, the laundry dries in record time.
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Today, it is a bit cooler, so Mr. Pardon Me has decided to start on one of the projects on this summer's list: tile the roof of the wood shed he built last year.
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It seemed simple at first, until he realized that it was a bit more complicated to have all the clay tiles fit together perfectly.  But he is making progress.
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Mercifully, in the evening, the temperature drops and a cool breeze helps us sleep.

If the summer of 2014 here in the Auvergne was one of the wettest in recent memory, this summer will be remembered for a lack of rain.  All the neighbors are talking about 'la canicule', the period of intense heat that has already lasted for a few weeks here.  Yesterday, the thermostat reached 100 degrees by mid afternoon. It was the warmest day yet.
The otherwise green fields in this region of France are totally dried out, the trees are starting to lose their leaves.  The sunflowers I photographed at their peak last week are dropping their heads, which normally happens at the end of August.
Relief from the heat should come over the week-end, when a series of strong storms is expected to roll in.
In the meantime, the windows of the house are wide open and I am spending hours keeping the flowers in the garden alive by watering.  Seeing how long it took every day, my husband was kind enough to install a drip irrigation system throughout the flowerbeds.  I think we may be the only ones near and wide here with such a system.  We may not need it again soon.  The Auvergne is more known for its periods of rain than for extended periods of heat.


What am I missing in Carroll Gardens?  How has the summer been so far?