Saturday, 10 October 2015

Saturday Photo: The Path to Thanksgiving and a New Government

The leaves are beginning to turn colour here, and the sky is the brilliant blue that always makes me think of my mother quoting Helen Hunt Jackson's poem about "October's bright blue weather."

The poem is rather schmaltzy, but the line certainly describes what it's like outside.  This photo also gives an idea of the uphill road we're all travelling in Canada this week, toward an election when we get rid of Stephen Harper and his Cons.  There will be a lot of heated conversation this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend  as tens of thousands of people debate what is the best way to do that.

If you feel the need to retreat from the fray, here's  the poem which is both dated and too sentimental, but can get your mind off the dilemmas of democracy.

 October's Bright Blue Weather
    O SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
        And flowers of June together,
    Ye cannot rival for one hour
        October's bright blue weather;
    When loud the bumble-bee makes haste,
        Belated, thriftless vagrant,
    And Golden-Rod is dying fast,
        And lanes with grapes are fragrant;
    When Gentians roll their fringes tight
        To save them for the morning,
    And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
        Without a sound of warning;
    When on the ground red apples lie
        In piles like jewels shining,
    And redder still on old stone walls
        Are leaves of woodbine twining;
    When all the lovely wayside things
        Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
    And in the fields, still green and fair,
        Late aftermaths are growing;
    When springs run low, and on the brooks,
        In idle golden freighting,
    Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
        Of woods, for winter waiting;
    When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
        By twos and twos together,
    And count like misers, hour by hour,
        October's bright blue weather.
    O suns and skies and flowers of June,
        Count all your boasts together,
    Love loveth best of all the year
        October's bright blue weather.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Saturday Photo: Roman Road and Road through Time

Here's a photo of the Roman road at Conimbriga in central Portugal.  It's only one of the many roads I'm thinking about now, as I go back to the preliminary manuscript just accepted by the University of Regina Press.  Lots of fun in prospect!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Up Next: Road through Time

Pleased to say that I've just signed a contract with the University of Regina Press to publish my next non-fiction book Road through Time, probably in Spring 2017. It's about roads as vectors for change and exchange over time. The photo is of the Andes cordillera that I crossed on a bus just two years ago shortly after the new highway from Cuzco into Brazil was opened.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Saturday Photo: Dancing Grass

Just because it's another nice weekend...

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Required Reading for the Election Campaign: The Best Laid Plans by Terri Fallis

In my other life I lead book discussion groups in Montreal-area libraries, and, knowing that a federal election was coming up, I put Terry Fallis's The Best Laid Plans on the reading list for October.  At the time I didn't appreciate just how funny or how prescient the book is.  Now I think every political junkie should read it as this long, long campaign grinds on.

The book was published in 2008, well before the Orange Wave, the Great Recession, even before the flirt with coalition government that occurred in December of that year.  It  starts off with a Liberal political wonk who is trying to get out of the game and who agrees as a swan song to find a candidate in a staunchly Conservative riding in eastern Ontario.  The candidate, a U of Ottawa engineering prof,  agrees only because he's promised he won't win.  But he does, for hilarious reasons .  (Hint: a sex scandal involving his opponent, leather and nipple rings are involved, which actually isn't much worse than the peeing-in-a-coffee cup video that scotched the chances of a Conservative candidate this time around.)

Fallis portrays  the vagaries of public opinion as well as the inner workings of political campaign extremely, but entertainingly well.  (Hint: there's quite a bit about lawn signs, telephone canvassing and door to door.)  I know just how hard that is to do.  In another life I spent far too much time organizing political campaigns and tried in one of my first novels (Endangered Species) to give a taste of the rush a political junkie gets from filling out phone canvass forms. My editor that time around made me cut a lot of the details. Fallis either was smarter than I or had a good editor too, because this novel is mostly fun. 

The accidental MP Angus McClintock turns out embodying all that is good in our political system, and makes a tremendous difference.  Would that all candidates out there were as principled.   Should also add that this is a very Canadian book: I can't imagine what Fallis would do with Donald Trump.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Saturday Photo: Cosmos, the End of Summer, Climate Change

I've always loved these sun-loving flowers.  Cosmos are the stars of many gardens around here at this point in the cycle of the seasons.  I suspect they won't be so gorgeous in a week when the temperatures are supposed to drop, but they are a pleasure now.

So is the lovely temperatures which have made September 2015 perhaps the hottest on record here.  Coming after an uncommonly cool and wet July and August, it has been a treat to have warm and dry days this month.

Of course, all this "unusual weather" is likely the result of climate change.  As someone who grew up in California, I get nervous when it doesn't rain here for a week or so since water shortages were always looming the background then.  To live in the current four-year drought must be awful.  

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Saturday Photo: End of Summer and the Spiders are Busy

Anyone who's read Charlotte's Web or gone walking early on a September morning knows that spiders are especially busy this time of year.

This web was glowing in the early sunlight a few days ago.  I don't know how long it lasted, but the spider seemed to be sure of a good meal or two.  

The beastie won't survive for long, even with the unseasonably warm weather we've been having.  The way of the world is that spiders must die and new spiders be born.

A lesson there?