Saturday, 19 January 2019

Saturday Photo: The Difference between Weather and Climate...

At the moment it's minus 23 Celsius, and it's supposed to start snowing soon.  Big winter storm coming, danger of frost bite according to Environment Canada.

Typical January weather in Montreal, actually: the photo was taken of the frozen-over window in the front bedroom a couple of years ago, and we always get a few days like this.

But that's just the weather.  It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the climate, let along climate change.  Climate is the general pattern of weather of a long period of time in a particular place.  The short term ups and downs of weather are reflected in climate, but very cold weather and a snow storm are just part of the climate as it has existed for a long time in this place. 

To have winter weather in January doesn't meant that climate isn't changing. What is more important is the pattern that shows up in average temperatures and the first dates of freezing and warm weather.  It would appear that we're headed for shorter winters, but it's not like that today...

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Saturday Photo: Chartres and Other Beautiful Things

Every time we've gone to France Lee has taken the RER from Paris to Chartres, a pleasant 45 minute train trip to the little city on the bluff where one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals sits.

He is enraptured by the place, and the building, and the wonderful human effort that went into constructing it.  At the moment, he's preparing to do a little building himself in hopes that he can pay homage to it.  His plan is to build a bench/table which will echo the soaring lines of the Gothic arches.  On either side he'll carve a bas-relief inspired by the sculptures over the doors on the south and west side.

So far what he's discovered is that this kind of carving has a steep learning curve, and he's been consulting all the sources available in book and on-line to come up with good images to use as guides.

One of the books which we found in the local library is Chartres: la grâce d'une cathédrale It's a gorgeous book that I knew would make a great Christmas present, so I found it on Abebooks at a book store in France, and ordered it Dec. 2.  Supposedly it would arrive before Christmas, but it didn't  and by the beginning of this week, I began to think that something had gone wrong.  I shot off emails to the store and to Abebooks, but nothing happened.  Then, just when I had really begun to fume and to wonder if I should try to cancel the order, the book arrived yesterday.  Carefully wrapped, it was in perfect condition and is a great pleasure to read.  The only problem is that it weighs about 3.5 kilos so it's not the kind of book to read in bed!

The photo, by the way, isn't from the book but is one I took on our last visit in 2014.  Too long ago: we should go back!

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Saturday Photo: Fort George, Madras, and Back to Work

The holiday is almost over: for more than a  week I've ended each day thinking it was Sunday, but it hasn't been, of course. 

Not I haven't been able to get some work done now and then.  I've got to do more revisions for the latest version of my book about places that are alike, but different.  The current title is Fine Lines: The Love/Hate Relationship between Neighbo(u)ring States.   I'm not completely happy with it, but it's the best that we've come up with so far since the editor nixed my first one.  Unidentical Twins: Why Places That Should Be Alike Aren't Alike would be classified in the Parenting section of bookstores, he argued.  Maybe he's right, we'll have to see how the new title flies.

So I'm checking references, dates and website references, with a Jan. 31, 2019 deadline looming.  I'm about half way through now, having just finished the chapter about the South Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.  Hence the image, which is what the British outpost on the east coast looked like in 1858.  The bustling city of Chennai which now surrounds it  looks quite a bit different....

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Saturday Photo: The Hinge of the Year Has Turned...

Sunrise over Parc Outremont.  Not today, because I haven't been out yet, but I'm sure it would have looked a lot like this because there is no snow around here. 

No, it's all rain, weird weather with leaves still on the grass after a fall which was colder than usual.  At least there was a dusting of snow on the ground over Christmas to be pretty.

But the days actually are getting longer, with sunrise coming perceptively earlier.  According to the data I found, the day is not that much longer than it was at the solstice, The sun is setting later though, because of a curious astronomical quirk, the earliest sunset actually occurs on December 10. The reason has something to do with a discrepancy between the way we measure time and the actual relation of the sun and the earth.  Too complicated to figure out this morning: I'll just be glad that on this gray day, the sun will be out a little later this afternoon. 

So I'll try to get going: after all the feasting over the last week, it's time to get back to work on finishing up the revisions to my next book, which is now called Fine Lines: The Love/Hate Relationship between Neighbo(u)ring States.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Saturday Photo: Sil, Lutfisk and Holiday Good Wishes in Troubled Times

First of all, here's the link to our holiday season blog, which has become something of a tradition.  Read it and know we're all hoping for the best as we all, collectively, lurch forward into a new year.

As for the photo, I'm sure I've used it before, but it seems appropriate this gray morning when the countdown to Christmas is intensifying. 

The sil is made and so are the cookies.  Thomas is coming over to paint a school bus he and Lee made out of wood over the last few weeks for Louis.  The others will be in and out over the next few days, which will be an island of happy excitement in a world where the sun seems to be obscured far too often. 

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Saturday Photo: Waiting...

Is it going to snow?  Or will the snow all melt? There are many more important questions out there, but these two are high on my mind right now, as they seem to be on the minds of these creatures.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Saturday Photo: Hanging in There...Oak Leaves and Snow

Today's lesson is about persistence. 

It has always been my long suite.  The fact that my family is very long-lived helps because I've been pretty sure since I became aware of such things that, all things being equal and wars not too close to home, I'll live long enough to see projects to completion.  A big, early splash is always nice, but what gets you to your goals is dogged, continued effort.  Not necessarily constant, gut-wrenching struggle, but the knack of coming back again and again to pick away at challenges.

These oak leaves which I saw this week in Parc Outremont seem a kind of symbol--or maybe even a sign  In past years there must have been similar leaves clinging to branches well into the cold weather, but I don't remember noticing them.  Perhaps I'm just ripe for a reminder of the value of hanging in there.  Still have many projects to work on, and, I hope, enough time to accomplish them, or at least hand them off to people who will carry them foward.