Week 43 and half of 44 (23 October–2 November 2023)
The main thing in the last 10 days or so is that T came to visit for a week (arrived Thursday eve). Parents also came by over the weekend, it was a small reunion (without F). And K drove over and stayed a few nights.
It makes sense to split week 44 between weeknotes #31 and #32 (upcoming) because at time of writing (Thursday, Nov 2nd, 11:19am) we're on the train to Berlin where we'll spend the week ahead, with a short stop in Belgium on the way back. So weeknote #32 will cover that.
In the meantime:
Despite the épisode being over, it still rained throughout the week. We fell back to the typical indoor activities: cooking, eating, reading, and visiting the chestnut museum in Joyeuse.
I still haven't had enough chestnuts, apparently. The museum was great! Small, interactive, and in a beautiful building: the floor below the church (not underground, the church is on a hill) where there used to be a school for boys. Bonus: a 6€50 ticket gets you an entry AND a tube of chestnut cream1. Back home I made chestnut cake using a recipe from the museum: 70g chestnut flour, 110g all-purpose, 4 eggs (whipped whites), 3 spoonfuls of chestnut cream, walnuts, very good. And of course over the week we picked a bunch of chestnuts (varietals maybe: bouches, aguyanes) and made at least 3 roustidesin the wood stove.
Another major food event was a family couscous2, seven of us bent over the large wooden couscous dish, a third of it vegan, the rest the classic with lamb. Minervois wine from our recent Languedoc trip. C dutifully took down mom's couscous recipe.
Whenever the rain gave us a break we went to the garden with T (who knows a lot about plants):
- walked through a section of the garden, mapping all the trees we saw. Need to find a way to put the data on a proper map, might be time to get back to learning GIS
- picked chestnuts
- picked almonds but the birds had got there first
- picked the last green beans
- picked saffron
- picked hawthorn berries (aubépine), ate a bunch off the tree, made jelly with the rest
- ate rosehips (cynorhodon, fruit of the églantine) (pick it ripe, press the fruit to get the paste thing out, aromatic snack)
T climbs too which is good, so we could go bouldering3 and watch climbing competitions (see Watching below). There was a single sunny day (Tuesday) and we went climbing in Mazet: warm up at Les Familles, picnic and rock skipping under the sun by the river, afternoon at Nouveau Secteur. I sent Fissure (6a+), a route I toproped a couple of months ago when we came here with B and N. Beautiful route, not slippery (unlike the routes under 7 in the more well-known sectors), not too difficult but long and strengthy = exhausting, I couldn't grab anything after that and had trouble unclipping the quickdraws on the way down.
Princesse is E's pig. E got her as a medium-sized piglet (50cm long maybe) in the summer, and since then she's already about tripled in size. E also renamed her Marjoline but I still like Princesse, the name that the original owner's young daughter gave her: it suits her character better and you'll see why.
Besides Princesse E has three lamas, two donkeys, three geese, three ducks, one rooster, twelve hens I think, and two chicks. There's a wild amount of stories to tell about each one of those animals, from how E found them on a roadside or online, to how she brings them to the vet when they catch a cold. But now's not the time.
E is recovering from a surgery right now and can't feed the animals, so this week we offered to care of them. The feeding instructions take up one and a half sheet of A4 paper. It takes us about an hour in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening, including time to walk up to E's cabin and back, but excluding the time it takes to cook for Princesse. That's because Princesse, unlike other pigs that eat basically only chestnuts at this time of year, eats pasta or rice with veggies, eggs and cheese.
An example menu:
- macaroni (probably a bit overcooked, apologies Princesse if you prefer al dente)
- half a tin of canned green beans
- half a tin of canned tuna
- a piece of cheap emmentaler cheese
- the peel of various veggies we cooked the day before
- cut up apples that we picked off the ground, but that Princesse doesn't like and doesn't eat
- one egg
- ...and on the side, the main course: two saucepans of wheat
The day after it might be rice instead of macaroni, and we might swap the tuna for extra greens. The point is that Princesse is a refined pig, she has taste, and she eats a healthy, balanced diet.
E normally uses her hen's eggs in the dish, but F was shocked: E's delicious eggs should be for us, not for Princesse. She bought cheap replacement eggs for Princesse at Leclerc, so we'd bring the hen's eggs home instead. Judging by the speed at which Princesse ate the dish every day, I doubt she noticed.
So every morning for 4 or 5 days, we carried a dish of pasta with Leclerc eggs up the hill, and returned with eggs still warm from under the hens. Soft-boiled with salt: perfection.
Back to the basics:
- Our Flag Means Death (season 2, 2023) by David Jenkins 8/10
- Grave of the Fireflies (1988) by Isao Takahata 6/10
a tube is a bit weird, that's true, but it's great to squeeze chestnut cream right into your mouth as a snack ↩
something of a tradition, I grew up in a family where Christmas dinner was couscous. A happy result of maternal grandparents living in Algeria in the 60s-70s ↩
sneakily. No details will be provided until the statute of limitations has expired ↩