The problem with not having mosquitoes is that without them, there is no compelling reason to have screen doors.
One still leaves the heavy, wooden doors open when the weather is nice but, without screen doors, the outside has a disconcerting habit of coming inside.
Last summer we had a snake in the pantry. Not a poisonous, little 10" (25cm) viper, but a big, old, 4' (135 cm) harmless garden snake. Safe, yes, but a bit off-putting.
A few weeks ago, as I was wandering into the kitchen for lunch, wearing shoes, thankfully, I felt a soft 'scrunch' underfoot. I looked down to discover a rather large lizard in acute discomfort, all 4 legs flailing madly.
I screamed; not because I had killed it; but because I hadn't quite. Mon mari heard and, er, finished the job.
I still got stuck with clean-up; once again grateful to not have carpet.
The most recent intrusion is a cute little brown mouse that has taken up residence in our trash.
Let me digress a bit to explain:
As most people know the French eat baguettes, or some version of them, either thicker or thinner, every day. A typical French person will eat at least one per day. If you have a large family that is a lot of long, skinny loaves of bread to deal with.
Being eminently practical, there is a baguette cupboard in the typical French kitchen, usually located near the stove. It's a skinny cabinet, under the counter, that is hinged on the bottom and pulls open from the top. It is often fitted with a linen sack and holds the daily bread.
Not being big baguette eaters we have discovered it also make a perfect trash bin. (Compost bin is elsewhere.)
Back to the mouse.
We first discovered our new resident the other night. Mon mari opened the trash cupboard and a mouse jumped across his arm, hit the floor at a dead run, raced across the kitchen (right in front of the mighty girl dogs), through the pantry and out the back door.
He obviously knows his way around the house.
We thought that the sheer terror of the experience would solve the problem and he would take up residence in a safer place.
We were wrong. The next night, the same thing happened, only it was my arm he ran up and over, hiding near my feet for a moment, before making his dash for the door.
Clearly a trap was in order.
Yesterday, mon mari caught him. I was in the garden when he walked by, little brown mouse frantically squirming in the trap with only one foot caught. He took him over to the field and let him go.
I hope that's the last we see of him. We've been nice… So far.
While mon mari was dealing with the mouse I was making pickled beets.
Another oddity I have discovered, here in the Vendée is that one cannot buy raw beets (beetroot) – or, at least, not easily.
But one can always buy cooked beets. They're either already in plastic bags or are in a big bowl with bags and a fork to help yourself.
The idea didn't really appeal to me, and I avoided them initially. I kept seeing so many good recipes for beets I finally succumbed.
These took me all of 10 minutes to make:
Pickled Beets (Beetroot)
1 lb (500gr) cooked beets, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp kosher or pickling salt
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken
Put all ingredients except beetroot in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Add sliced beets and simmer 3 minutes longer. Put contents into a glass jar or container, cover and let cool. Refrigerate and eat within a month or two.
One more reason there are no screen doors here: With screen doors one can't close the shutters up tight against the evil night air…
Oh, wait… We don't do that either… Stupid Yanks!