french countryside

Plant a Tree, Save the World & A Short Series of Solved Mystery Cases*

Mystery Case #1

Last Tuesday, we went to visit meme in Saint-Trivier and did some awesome work. I got to be the right-hand of Daniel, Yoyo’s dad, in planting a peach tree and shoveling some (lots of) gravel on meme’s backyard. I like doing physical work, and it was yet another good excuse to visit meme.

Since Fantastique and Bango were with us, I didn’t get to see Ismi, meme’s adopted cat, by the window. Il a un peur, she told me when I asked about Ismi’s whereabouts. “Murmur..murmur..murmur… les chiens… murmur… murmur… les chiens.” And as I understood, I won’t be seeing Ismi because the dogs were here, thus, il a un peur (he has fear) decoded, Ismi is scared of the dogs and won’t be showing up anytime soon. Dogs and cats situation, easy peasy, mystery case #1 solved!

Ismi behind the glass window. This cat is on fire!

Mystery Case #2

Despite all the odds, I’m happy to announce that my French speaking skills has gone from zero to barok level.

Pourquoi transferer l’arbre? I asked Daniel. Pas beaucoup d’espace parce que il y a la piscine à Montagnat? Me feeling especially determined and laughing at myself in my head for my persistent attempt at speaking French.

“Murmur… murmur… pa bien… murmur… de la terre… murmur… sable…murmur… piscine aussi… murmur...” I did see Daniel’s hand gestures while saying the words terre and sable (tila baga may sinasalat gesture in Filipino). So I figured the earth is grainy/sandy and not too ideal for the peach tree that’s why it was uprooted from the garden in Montagnat. The swimming pool being secondary, I’m just not sure if the tree with its growing roots would affect the pool or the other way around – the pool would hamper the roots of the tree’s growth. In any case, it should primarily be that the earth in Saint-Trivier serves the peach tree’s well-being better. Whew! Mystery case #2 solved!

For a moment, imagine your two eyeballs turning 360 degrees in its socket, respectively. That’s me when I’m trying to understand French, each time, no miss (walang mintis).

DSC_0391 (1024x681)

The pretty lady that is our peach tree dressed in white! The cloth is really for the bark’s protection during our 45-minute drive.

DSC_0402 (800x532) (800x532)

Up close.

After our morning coffee, I followed Daniel outside to plant the peach tree in meme’s garden. I like writing it’s a peach tree because I can easily imagine red peach fruits hanging by the tree’s branches. I like peaches, they’re soft, sweet, juicy, with hint of colors red outside and yellow in the inside.
Below are the very simple photo steps in saving the world, i.e. replanting a peach tree!
1. Dig it.
DSC_0398 (1024x681)

Starring shovel a.k.a pala (in tagalog).

2. Be guided by a Jedi master.
DSC_0400 (1024x681)

Luke… I am your mother…

3. Fertilize it.
DSC_0403 (1024x681)

Pour fertilizer into the dug hole.

DSC_0404 (1024x681)

Scatter in second fertilizer with your hands.

DSC_0405 (1024x681)

And mix both fertilizers inside the hole using the shovel.

4. Add-in water and a bit of soil into the fertilizer mixture.
DSC_0407 (1024x681)

The shovel is your tree-planting bestfriend, use it to mix the water with the fertilized soil.

5. Place tree at the center of the hole.
DSC_0409 (1024x681)

Gently but firmly.

6. Fertilize some more.
DSC_0413 (800x532)

After putting the tree, put another batch of fertilizer together with the soil. Young trees need a lot of nourishment!

7. Completely cover with earth.
DSC_0415 (800x532)

Now that looks very familiar.

8. Water the newly (re)planted tree.
DSC_0417 (1024x681)

Allow to settle and add a second round of water.

9. Put support for the young, fragile Peach tree.
DSC_0420 (1024x681)

The strong winds could hurt this young Peach tree!

10. Stop and smell accomplishment. You just made this world a better place!
DSC_0421 (1024x681)


11. The hardest and final step is to wait for these:

peach 2

A smooth peach variety also called nectarine in markets. Click to see photo source.

peach 1

Juicy! Click to see photo source.

Mystery Case #3

A day after, there was worry looming over Saint-Trivier because meme has not seen Ismi in two straight days. And just this evening, I’m happy to report that meme finally found Ismi. He got stranded with meme’s seedlings when he followed meme to the garden nursery. Elle est très content maintenant. Whew! Final and mystery case #3 solved!

Alors, ’til our next tongue-twisting, world-saving adventure. À bientôt!

DSC_0423 (1024x681)

Moi waiting for my peach fruit!


Mémé in the French Countryside*

Location: Saint-Trevier, France


Meme’s house.


Front yard view.


Meme now and then…

The Equally Awesome Other Side of France

Mémé is 82 years old. She lives in her house in Saint-Trivier-de-Courtes, France. This small village in the middle part of France is four hours by drive from Paris and one hour away from Geneva, Switzerland. In 2008, it was reported to have a total population of 975. Everytime we go to Yoann’s hometown of Montagnat /mon-ta-nya/, we drive for about 45 minutes to her house on our way back to Belgium. When we visit her, we make sure to go around the garden and we always end up with some more fresh produce on top of the carrots, potatoes, salad, onions we already have in the trunk.

The Garden’s Keeper

When we visited Mémé last week, we changed our usual routine of going straight inside the house and visited the garden right away. Winter has passed, you see. Like us, the plants are also stretching and basking in the springtime sunlight amidst occasional cold breeze. In truth, we are too weak, the sight of flowering salad leaves lured us into the yard almost immediately.

In the garden, I saw the neighbour’s cat, Ismi, walk through the newly ploughed land from outside the fence. I watched him approach Mémé. Not a glance back. This cat, Ismi, he seems to have completely forgotten our last visit. As if reading my thought that I expect him to merely pass us by, Ismi started rolling his dark, fluffy body around infront of me and Yoann. Ismi has a bright tummy! Mémé also laughed at his playfulness. I have no clue what he’s going to do next.

We met Ismi for the first time around two months ago during our last visit chez Mémé. We were having dinner and he was by the window sitting outside. He would glance at our small group once in a while. I got up to talk to him and that’s when Mémé mentioned his name. She also said that Ismi is her neighbour’s cat. That first encounter, Ismi looked at me once or twice. Have you met a cat that glances instead of stare? That’s Ismi.

meme 1

Meme still prepares her garden plot for planting at 82.


Lunch is ready for picking! Meme’s garden fresh salad!


Greens have never looked this good!


Inside meme’s nursery, a hodge podge of herbs and baby veggie plants.


Her garden tools!


Meme with Yoyo.


Meme and me.


Fur ball Ismi.

Dining With Mémé At Last

After a good 30 minutes of admiring Mémé’s beautiful budding plants, coupled with constant head shakes in slight disbelief and total admiration of how she does gardening all by herself all these years, we headed back inside her house and settled in the dining area where Mémé has prepared a feast before our arrival. The three of us, Yoann, her and I would share her red wine, saucisson, cornishon, baguette, a variety of French cheeses, creamy desserts, and finally a good cup of coffee.

Mémé drinks wine, pas beaucoup /pah bukuh/ (not a lot), she would say when she sees you are about to pour wine into her glass. I would oblige and pour in un petit peu /uhh petih pwu/ (just a little bit). Yoann makes sure to remind her not to prepare a main dish since we’ll be passing by after lunch, but we will be too full and happy by the time we remember we just had lunch.

Yoann loves Mémé very much, and I love her. Happy mother’s day, Mémé! Bonne fête!


Comforting best describes meme’s dining room.


A few French starter plate staples: cornichon (pickles), baguette with pâté, radis, ham & watermelon slices, salad & more pâté!


Main dish.


Cheese platter.






Ze boss, chillin’!

The end (of famine).