04 September 2008

Storms, dollars, a milestone, and a tease...

The tropical storm seems not to have strengthened much, but it is producing a lot of rain. Of course, Eastern North Carolina needs a lot of rain right now — but not flooding. My mother lives right on the shore of what we call a "creek" on the N.C. coast — it's a wide, marshy estuary that can fill up with salt water if there is a storm surge.

But I don't expect that will happen, and I don't know if that particular area has ever flooded before. When I was growing up, that area hadn't yet been developed. It was just marsh and woods. Ma has only lived there for a few years. The house I grew up in and where Ma lived for more than 50 years never was subject to serious flooding.

Blue skies and clouds over the vineyard this morning

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Have I mentioned the U.S. dollar exchange rate against the euro recently? At last check, the euro was worth "only" $1.42. That's a big improvement. Two or three months ago, it took $1.58 to buy a euro. That represents a 10% fall in the cost of the European currency, and that is not negligible. I hope the dollar can get back to the $1.25 level against the euro this fall and winter — if not better.

With the price of oil going back down and the dollar moving up, we are definitely going to wait a while before we buy fuel oil for our central heating system. We have some left from last winter, and we have a huge woodpile. Unless it gets bitter-cold, we will be fine.

Yesterday was actually a major milestone in my life. It was my "half-birthday" — in other words, I turned 59½ years old. What's the significance of that? Well, it means I am now officially retired and no longer just unemployed. I can start drawing a retirement pension from the money I put aside in a 401-K plan during all those years I worked in California. I'm happy to have made it through these first five years in France, and I'm still here.

Out with the dog at sunrise
06 September 2008

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I want to describe one of these meals our neighbors and friends in the village invite us to from time to time. I mean a more intimate gathering, not a huge party. Our friend Gisèle had us and three other friends over for lunch this past Thursday, as I've said. The occasion... well, there wasn't one, really. It was just a nice way to spend an afternoon. More about that tomorrow...


  1. So far so good, and since Hanna's been in NC for over two hours now, I hope it's well past your family's homes. Wind gusts from Hannah reached us here in PA and lasted all day Friday.

    Congratulations on reaching the magic age, 59.5. 59.5 is the new 39.5.

    Ken, I learned a better term than "unemployed." One of those guys on "My word," the British quiz show, introduced me to the term "self-unemployed" and I used it often during my non-working years.

  2. Nothing but good news (with the exception of the oil thingie) for you guys!

    Félicitations et laissez les bons temps rouler ;-)

  3. Congratulations, Ken! 59 1/2 is a nice milestone to achieve.

    I'm glad Hanna behaved herself and I hope Ike will do the same.
    Looking forward to hearing about your get together with Gisele.

  4. Happy Half Birthday, Ken!

    You asked on yesterday's post if I had to worry about flooding here in my corner of NC. We live about 35 miles inland from your mother and our creek is up about 15" this morning but still a little below the dock so we are fine.

    In 1999, during the two big hurricanes, the water was 6.5 feet above our dock! Many areas of our town flood, especially the downtown historic district but I think our house was built on the only "hill" in town - I think we're 8 feet above sea level.

    Sorry I prattled on so!


  5. Good news all around, and beautiful photos:))

  6. Le ciel est si beau par chez-vous.

    59.5! A Celebration is in order. À votre santé, Ken!

  7. Since my parents moved to Hampstead, they've had seven direct hurricane hits. One, I think it was Fran, was pretty bad. They were without power for a good week or two, but the golf course was operational within days. Priorities!

    I couldn't reach them yesterday, I can't imagine that they'd evacuate for this, knowing them they were probably out shopping in it.

  8. You made it! I can remember hearing you say so many times that your overriding concern was surviving until that magic 59.5 +1 day. Well, you did, and in what style, too. All that, and it looks like the creeks didn't rise, either.



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