Monday, August 30, 2010

August 2010

Summer is slipping away. How fast it goes. Everything so green one day, then a tinge of fall starts to appear here and there. It even smells like fall.

To start where I left off last month. Keith had left for his “bike camp” on Saturday (31 (sup)st(/sup) of July).

This year it was in Verdun (almost straight north of Dijon, in the region called the Lorraine). It is his week to do nothing but ride his bike. This year there were 11,000 others at “bike camp”. He rode over 1100 km in just the one week. He loves it !!

Tent Camp
Keith's loaded bike


This last spring Keith had signed up for a program called “Warm Showers”. This is a program for people touring on bicycles. They write (via email) and ask if they can spend the night at your house. For the month of August, we had 3 different couples come through our house. On Tuesday, the 3rd of August, I had a family of four. Although Keith was not here, I thought a couple with two children, oh why not. We had turned down one couple the week that Chris was staying us, and another request for a single man (Keith was working that week). So when a family (2 children- 2 years and 4 years old) asked, I told Keith to say Yes.

They said they had a tent, so they did not need a bedroom, just a warm shower.

The first couple arrived on two bikes (one for each the adult) and a trailer behind each with a child. Bikes were loaded with panniers (camping bags). They had brought a bottle of wine.

With all the preparations, showers and two little ones, we did not eat until 8:30pm. We sat at the table on the patio, for it was a warm summer night. I now have a set meal to prepare for the bikers (not obligated to provide dinner, but these are tired hungry people). My standard meal is ham (slices), bread, tomatoes & cukes and lots of pasta with tomato sauce.

The first ones were an interesting couple and the children well behaved. The little ones enjoyed the freedom of the yard. I have to admit though it has been a long time since I had little ones around, and forgot about things like garden tools. Oops, “No Isaac that is not a good toy”. Oh no, the clippers are over there...rush, grab and hide!! Things one does not think about without any children around.

They had asked to stay two nights. On Wednesday they wanted a day off from biking and planned to tour Dijon. On Wed morning, they packed up the backpacks and the baby carrier and took the train into Dijon. They said they would return about 6pm. I volunteered to prepare an easy dinner for Wednesday evening. Since there was rain in the air, we ate inside.

The next couple that came were (are) young. He was from Belgium (Brussels), and she was from Spain (Barcelona). They had gone back and forth living in between the two cities and decided to take time off to tour. They thought that they would probably spend the winter in Barcelona, he was a landscape artist and had a job lined up. They had toured Thailand in June on their bikes and had continued through Europe.

The last couple was on the 20th of August. She is Canadian and he is french, although he has lived in Canada for a long time. They were taking two years off to tour the world. They had been to Iceland for a month touring and then here in Europe, but they had to leave because her 3 month time in Europe (Schengen zone) was almost over. They were going to head to Maroc for a few months, and then maybe back to Europe after the three month wait. They had the world to explore and another 1 ½ years to do it.

Back to the beginning of the month, on August 5th I went up to Messanges. Maire Therese and I went for a walk in the woods and took along a sack for mushrooms. And yes, we found chanterelles (girolfes) . Actually we found a lot of chanterelles. It is so much fun when you actually find some edible mushrooms. There were lots of other mushrooms too, but we stuck to what we knew. Other times it has not been as profitable. Too dry or too cold or ....


Beautiful Chanterelle
Pretty- not edible
Tree Mushrooms -not edible



Some of you may know, some may not, but we thought we would start the process of applying for french citizenship. The USA now allows dual citizenship, so we would have both french and USA citizenship.

I have acquired all the birth certificates and marriage certificates and .... but we are also required to have an FBI report. Looking at the internet, I found the site and the forms. On one form the FBI requires fingerprints. Easy if you still live in the USA. It is possible to have fingerprints taken at the embassy in Paris, but that means a round trip train ticket to Paris for both of us, just for fingerprints. So I suggested we try the gendarmes. We took the forms and went over to the Gendarmerie to ask if they would take our fingerprints. This appears to be a very unusual request. The first person called in the second. “Why do you need this”? (pourquoi)... The second person called in a 3rd because she spoke english. Our answer was the same. To apply for citizenship, the french government requires an FBI background check, and to do a background check our fingerprints are needed. So the third person said she had to call on this. It all worked out, they just needed to be sure all was in order. They even offered to send it in for us, but I said no because we have to pay to have the background check done (we were now talking in french again). They were astonished (they were now 4 gendarmes talking with us) that there was a charge. So our prints were taken (free of charge) and we said good-bye.




I went to Paris mid-month to meet a friend. Actually Diane and I went to high school together. A little scary how long ago that was ! Yikes ! Unfortunately it was not the best weather. They (Diane, her husband Jim and daughter Allison) had gone to Armenia for their son’s wedding. So Paris was the stop-over. I arrived Sunday in the pouring rain.After meeting them at the hotel and having lunch, we were off to the Orangerie (museum on the southwest corner of the Jardin des Tuileries). Monet’s water lilies are in a special section of this museum. Then a late dinner in the pouring rain... it was really coming down hard!!

Allison left early the next morning. Unfortunatly for her, it was raining again. We took off for the Louvre and toured all morning. A late lunch at the museum, then they headed back to the hotel. The rain had stopped; to I walked around Paris for the next 1 ½ hours. I love the city. That night we found a nice little restaurant not far from the hotel and had a wonderful dinner (not really too difficult in Paris).

Ah Tuesday, it was not raining. A pleasant surprise... we headed over to the Ile de la Cite and went first to see Ste. Chapelle. It is one of my favorite sites in Paris, and although I have seen it a few times, I still am amazed by it. Unfortunately, although it was not raining, there was no sun either. It is absolutely stunning when the sun shines through the stained glass windows.

From St Chapelle it is a short walk to Notre Dame and the gardens behind Notre Dame. After that a cross over a small bridge to the Ile de St. Louis and a slow stroll through the small streets. We found a nice little Bistro for lunch. I took off for another walk after lunch. I wanted some photos of the Musee de Cluny...forgetting it was Tuesday and most museums are closed on Tuesday. Oh well, took a few photos of the outside.

Diane and Jim left on Wednesday, and I returned home to Gevrey by train, it is just about 1 hour 30 minutes. Ah Paris. Some photos, mostly black and white...just a sample of all that I took. I will try to put more out on Picasa for next month (should you be interested). I am a little behind on photos right now...and need to catch up.

In the Rain
Pyramid at the Louvre
St Chapelle
Notre Dame 1
Notre Dame 2
Ah color- Notre Dame garden
Notre Dame FINAL
Paris "what else"



The weekend of the 21-22 of August, the baseball team of Fenay holds a baseball tournament. There are teams from Italy, Holland, Ireland, and of course France. It is called American Days. There are horses for the children to ride, line dancing, old American cars....and beer. Here are some of the photos I took at the baseball tournament.

Baseball at Fenay
The pitch
Red Mustang



This last weekend of August is the opening of our Expo, “ Sur les Traces de Cluny”. The chateau is also have a two day festival, and I happen to have a free ticket. Oh it is not a free lunch. The tickets (7 in all) were given to the photo club, with the expectation that we will take photos. Oh dear another workday! I plan to go up to the chateau on Saturday after the opening of our Expo at the Caveau de Chambertin (only a couple blcoks apart.) I will write more about the end of August in the September journal, so stay tuned. Good weather is forecasted for the weekend, I sure hope they are correct.

As for the grape harvest this year, “Qui sait” [who knows], it has not been the best of seasons. But it could still be good if we get some prolonged sunshine. The grapes really need sun to sweeten up. What an unusual year. Our temperatures keep jumpimg from 90’s to 60’s. Only a few days here and there that one might call normal. And we have had plenty of rain, but regions to the east have had major flooding and then Russia in the midst of a major drought!

My garden, oh those beautiful tomatoes are now ripe. I pick a few each day. How delicious to eat a few for dinner. So much more flavor than store tomatoes. Eating tons of them...umm. Of course the ever dependable zucchini are there too, as always. Do you have a favorite zucchini recipe (I have zucchini cake recipe...)?



Recipe of the month

Shrimp and Calamari  Pasta.

I found this is an easy and good recipe. Goes together in  no  time  at all/


  • 3 tomatoes chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce
  • 9 oz shrimp (cleaned shrimp...does not have to be exactly 9 oz.)
  • 12 oz. Calamari (cleaned rings, again it does not have to be exact)
  • 2 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1/3 cup parsley chopped
  • 8 oz. Pasta ( I used fusilli)
  • Salt and Pepper


1. Heat oil in a pan

2. On medium heat, add the chopped onions and simmer slowly (onions develop a richer taste when slowly sautéed).

3. When onions are translucent, add the garlic. Simmer for another 5 minutes, low to medium heat.

4. Add tomatoes, and sauce and wine.

5. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes.

6. While waiting for the sauce, start cooking the pasta according to package directions, drain when done.

7. Check taste  of sauce and add salt and pepper. If  tart or astringent, add a teaspoon of sugar, or a tablespoon of milk (note :  also some finely chopped carrots help to take the edge off a tomato sauce...if the tomatoes are ripe and sweet, the additions are  probably not needed).

8. Let simmer another 5 minutes if you have added sugar or milk.

9. Add the shrimp and let simmer about 3 minutes. Then add the calamari and simmer another 4 minutes (time of cooking the shrimp will depend on the size. If large shrimp are used, cook a little longer...look for the pink color). Cooking shrimp or calamari  too long  will result in a rubbery texture. Note also, that they will continue to cook a little in the hot sauce after the heat is off.

10. Mix the pasta into the tomato sauce/shrimp/calamari. Mix in the parsley and serve immediately.

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