Archive for November, 2012

Dug in

November 30, 2012 8 comments

Today we received a delivery of wood pellets – a full pallet, 78 sacks – which we hope will see us through the worst of the winter.

Just as well to be ready: there was the first snow on the mountains today.

The dogs immediately took possession of the new lay-out and didn’t seem at all perturbed by the stacks which form a bunker facing inwards towards the stove.

The dogs in front of the pellet sack bunker

The dogs in front of the pellet sack bunker

Kepler put in an appearance to see what was going on, then scarpered off again.

His normal place, on the blanket right in front of the stove, is still vacant in the photo but won’t be for long I dare say.

Quince jelly

November 29, 2012 4 comments

Quince jelly, or rather, quince syrup

Well, we cut up and mashed an enormous quantity of quince flesh.

By the time we’d strained it through muslin, there was enough liquid to fill a reasonable-sized saucepan.

By the time we’d boiled it, it had reduced by half and there was enough to fill 4 small jars.

It’s a beautiful colour and it tastes just like quince jelly ought to but … it hasn’t set!!!


I’m to blame because I really did think it wrinkled on that saucer.

Oh well. We didn’t make fig syrup this year so we’ll have this instead to pour on our vanilla ice cream.

And the quince pulp has gone to very good use in 8 cakes, no less.

Big, blonde and beguiling

November 29, 2012 3 comments

Kepler has a thing about Camilla, our neighbour’s Maremmano (Maremma Sheepdog).

But I’ve always found it a bit of a puzzle that he would race the 300 yards of steep slopes and thick vegetation to be with her when he’s got 2 dogs at home to play with, both of whom he gets on with extremely well.

Kepler with the other Maremmano

Then I found this photo and remembered that when he first came to us, before he’d been allowed to explore by himself, he met with another dog of the same breed as Camilla.

This four-month old female Maremmano belonged to a neighbour the other side, who’d just bought the land but didn’t live there. He was cutting down an old dead cherry tree and had his dog with him.

Kepler was all over this dog. He jumped on her back, humped her, teased her – he just couldn’t leave her alone and in the end I had to drag him away.

A more unlikely playmate for Kepler there never was – a big, blonde, blunt dog to go with his sharp, wiry, pointy little persona.

So I wonder if in his original home Kepler was imprinted on a Maremmano.

It would explain a lot of things, including why there’s a Romeo and Juliet tragedy going on in which I seem to have acquired the unenviable role of orchestrator.

A dog eat dog world

November 27, 2012 8 comments

One of my favourite photos of Kepler

When Kepler was put up for re-adoption, an advert appeared on the Facebook site of the organization that’s trying to find him a new home.

It’s the most extraordinary piece of fiction. They were given all the details about his present home, his character etc, and yet they’ve written as if he himself is making the appeal and is trapped in a concrete-floored cage, isolated from everything he holds dear, sad, crying, etc etc.

The organization told me not to let on to anyone that he’s a pet, not to take anything I read to heart, and basically to keep out of it.

This morning I had a phonecall from the oncology specialist vet where Joules had his tumour treated and through whom we found Kepler. They’re over an hour’s drive away, but had been approached about a home for Kepler and had seen the Facebook post.

The vet wanted to know if it was true that Kepler was in a cage. I said no, he’s beside me looking out of the window.

The vet said he’d take my word for it.

Right on cue, Kepler started being sick so I put the phone near him and let the vet listen to the noise.

Kepler has been sick quite a lot lately and has also refused to eat dry dog food. We’ve kept him in, suspecting that he’s been having tinned dog food at the neighbours’.

Just now our neighbour phoned and asked if Kepler was ill as they haven’t seen him for the last couple of days. I explained he’d been vomiting and was off his food, and we’d been wondering if he preferred their food.

He told me very emphatically that Kepler doesn’t get food from them – with the exception of bread, of course.

The reason for his call, though, was because their great blonde Maremmano dog is refusing to eat and pining because she’s missing Kepler! And they don’t know he’s up for adoption!

What have I got myself into?!!

Above the mist

November 26, 2012 4 comments

Looking onto a sea of mist

It quite often happens that there’s fog below us and yet our house is sitting in brilliant sunshine.

Here it’s sunset, the first lights are pricking out, and mist is filling the valley like a white sea.

The coping of the balustrade has an ethereal lack of definition, as if it were dissolving to let whoever’s standing behind it melt into the landscape.

Another bite of the persimmon

November 25, 2012 6 comments

The persimmons for sale in the fruit and veg shop yesterday were of 2 sorts: apple persimmons which I believe are the sort I once tried eating and found too gelatinous, and vanilla persimmons which resemble the ones on our little tree.

Cut persimmon with resident ladybird

The information on the internet about vanilla persimmons is very complimentary: their flavour is sweet and delicate, and their consistency is crunchy.

A vanilla persimmon doesn’t need to be gooey to be ripe.

I was inspired to try tasting one again, so I picked one from our tree and cut a slice off.

It’s a beautiful colour inside, and a very attractive firm, smooth texture.

Then I nibbled a tiny bit off the slice. It was so astringent as to be quite inedible.

It would seem that our persimmons are primarily ornamental.

The ladybird that had hitched a ride kept walking round and round the cut rim, so I took it outside and put it on a rosebush.

Cold day, warm cat

November 24, 2012 3 comments

The warmth-seeking cat

Clive had company while I was in the fruit and veg shop. He took this photo through the windscreen.

A warm bonnet is a great attraction on a foggy morning.

It’s ironic because Clive got so cold sitting in the car (he has difficulty regulating his body temperature) that he’s ended up with a fever this evening.

I’m quite sure the cat had no similar problems.