Friday, 23 June 2017

Saturday Photo: Bonne fête nationale, Happy St Jean Baptiste Day

So, I'm actually posting on Friday, not Saturday.  That's because it seems like the weekend already.  Jeanne's school was finished yesterday, so she and Elin spent the night, after a picnic with Louis and company.  It wsa Louis's first birthday, and Thomas's soccer team, the Barracudas, also had a game.  A very pleasant evening!

Tomorrow is Quebec's Fête nationale, formerly known as St-Jean Baptiste Day.  When I finish posting this, I'm going to put up our Quebec flag, which, of course, featured the fleur de lys, the blue iris.  I do this not because I'm a Quebec nationalist, but because this is where we have chosen to live, and I want to signal that we (and other immigrants) should be included in all fête nationale celebrations.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Saturday Photo: Another Invasive, and One Not So

The perfume of Russian olives fills the air these mornings.  A bit like the scent of orange blossoms, it lingers all day.  I love the trees hardiness, as well as the smell.

But not everybody does.  Russian olives were introduced as wind break plantings early in the 20th century, and found conditions right to spread widely.  British Columbia is only one jurisdiction that considers it an invasive nuisance.  But around here, it's reached the limit of its natural comfort zone, and so grows in a well-behaved manner.

The Japanese maple, which is also beautiful right now, is much harder to grow.  I've tried, and in the end decided that I'd thrown away the $75 or so I spent on the small tree, because it simply did not appear when the snow melted the next winter.

But this gardener on The Plateau has succeeded in putting the two trees together wonderfully.


Saturday, 10 June 2017

Saturday Photo: The Beauty of Invasive

Maybe 20 years ago I bought a couple of columbine plants at a time when I wanted to switch to annuals in our small garden.  They have thrived, and are now in bloom  in front and in back of our house...and also in several other yards along our street.

I've done a little selective transplanting, but never onto to neighbor's property, so it would appear that at the force that through the green fuse drives the flower (to quote Dylan Thomas) has spread these lovely, complicated flowers.

Does this make them "invasive?"  Perhaps.  If so, what a lovely kind of invasive plant.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Saturday Photo: Making up for Lost Time with Two Photos from the Gaspé

Just spent a great week on the Gaspé peninsula with Lee.  It was part work, but mostly play and we had a wonderful time.  The weather was cool and windy, but sunny--apparently a rarety this spring. 

So here are two photos from the trip.  One is of L'anse au griffon, and the other of the weirdly amazing concrete figures that Marcel Gagnon has created, coming out of the St. Lawrence at Ste-Flavie.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Saturday Photo: Forget-me-nots in the Grass

I don't believe in lawns, so the little one we have in our small backyard is strewn with many plants other than grass.  Among them is mitosis or forget-me-nots which are in bloom extravagantly right now.

Never forget how lovely they are...

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Saturday Photo: Green Rain after the Real Rain

The photo actually was taken a few years ago, but it looks like this outside today.  The maple trees are dropping their little flowers (drupes, I think, is the proper name) and lawns, sidewalks and gardens are covered with this lovely yellow-green rain.

No hard real rain is in the forecast which is good news for those struggling with high water from the last weeks of heavy precipitation.  Of course, things would not be nearly as bad, if people hadn't built on flood plains and wet lands.  As my mother used to say, just because you build a house on a swamp, it doesn't cease to be a swamp.

This house is on high ground, and it was built in a time when folks knew that low land could spell trouble...

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Goodreads Giveaway Winners Announced!

The Goodreads Giveaway  for Road through Time: The Story of Humanity on the Move ended on the weekend.  Here are the winners: Kal Adler, Steven Telly and Muayad Aldarweesh.  They should be getting their copies soon.

And for those of you who didn't win, but who would like to read the book anyway, it should be in any good independent bookshop and here are links to on-line places: McNally Robinson, Chapters-IndigoAmazon.ca , and Amazon.com,

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Saturday Photo: Getting There....

This is the week the trees leaf out, and in spite of the rain they seem to be on schedule this year.

Lovely to see the green...

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Saturday Photo: Shameless Self-Promotion Department

This is what the book looked like at the launch a week ago.  Since then I've talked about writing it at the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival and am now getting ready to go to Librairie Clio for Authors for Indies day.

Quite a week!

And for those who'd like to read the book, here's the link to the Goodreads Giveaway.  Only a little more than a week to enter to get a free copy!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Saturday Photo: Standing Room Only at the Launch Party for Road through Time

And a good time was had by all!  Librairie Drawn and Quarterly was packed Thursday night when we celebrated the launch of my latest book, Road through Time: The Story of Humanity on the Move.  



It was such a pleasure to see old friends and new friends, including people I hadn't met before, in factThe flowers were from Ted Phillips, a true gentleman, and the photos were done by minha amiga brasileira Alice Mascerhenas.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Official Launch Tonight!

Just a reminder to my friends who haven't already heard: we're having the launch party for Road through Time: The Story of Humanity on the Move tonight from 7-9 p.m. at Librairie Drawn and Quarterly, 211 Bernard West, in the Mile End district of Montreal.  Come and help us celebrate.

And this just in, a great review in Library Journal that ends: s:  "VERDICT This accessible work about an integral aspect of human life is a must-read for all interested in society, past and present."

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Saturday Photo: First Walk in the Cemetery in a Long While

Beautiful day today. Almost certain that it will eventually be spring! 

This morning I took a walk in the Mount Royal Cemetery for the first time since the fall--in the winter you never know where the ice will be so I tend to avoid walking there.  But today there is even a little green grass and lots of water in the stream that runs down from the top of the mountain.

Thomas asked Lukas what we are celebrating this weekend, and he replied after a moment's reflection: "Spring."  A good enough explanation for us cultural Christians, I think.

 


Saturday, 8 April 2017

Saturday Photo: The Port of Montreal, Ice-free in April

It used to be that just about now the first ocean-going ships would make it up the St. Lawrence to Montreal.  Before then travel on the river would be dangerous or impossible because of ice.

The arrival marked the beginning of trade on the river, and stepped-up life in the city.  Since 1840 the captain of the first ship has been awarded a prize for his exploit, first a top hat, and after 1880 a gold-headed cane.  Accounts from the time say that crowds gathered in the port to greet the ship, as frequently more than one captain tried to be the first  in port. 

This year, however, the prize went to a Liberian-registered tanker  that arrived shortly after midnight on January 1.   The port has been open to year-round shipping since 1964 thanks to ice-clearing strategies.  And recently climate change has meant less and less ice on the river even in the dead of winter.

The photo was taken April 3, a glorious day when not much snow was left in sunny places and it would have been relatively easy to manoeuvre a ship into its berth.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Saturday Photo(s):Me and Me and Me



A friend sent me one of those silly tag things this week: you're supposed to post  a photo of when you were younger on your Facebook page, and then challenge anyone who "likes" it to do the same.  Well, I got as far as finding the photo of my sister and me taken about the time we road the Greyhound from San Diego to Eastern Washington state, a trip I write about in Road through Time: The Story of Humanity on the Move. (I'm the older child, and my flaming red hair photographed dark.) But then I ran out of steam, particularly because the people who "liked" the photo, are not ones, generally, who take to this sort of challenge.

So it stops with me.  But I thought it would be fun to post that photo as well as two others.  One was taken more than ten years ago by Terence Byrne for the Montreal Review of Books when my novel After Surfing Ocean Beach came out.  The other is one of a suite of photos taken by my friend Anne Richard who has reinvented herself as a photographer.  The occasion for the photo session was coming up with a good one for the promotion of Road through Time.   Rather like them.  Lee says I look old, but then he's been with me so many years that perhaps he sees me as I was 50 or more years ago.  One thing he does notice, though, is how my hair has changed colour.  Arctic blonde, not red.  But so it goes...

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Saturday Photo: Last Snow? Good Thing Easter's Late

Surprise!  A little snow on Friday that stuck to all the trees most beautifully.  It's gone now, and the sun is high in the sky, so perhaps we really are on the path toward spring.

It is the season of rebirth, but I expect it will be a while before we see much green.  There have been years when the snowdrops were up at this point, but not this one.

As Jeanne and I noted yesterday, Christmas was exactly three months ago.  We barbecued on Christmas Eve, but not yesterday.  Will see if it's nice enough to do so on Easter, which is still three weeks away.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Saturday Photo: Getting Rid of It...

Lots of snow here this last week.  It's always a surprise, but March can bring lots of the white stuff.  Here's a photo taken a few years ago when they were cleaning in front of our house.

Most of the snow clearing gets done at night, now.  Cost cutting reasons, I suppose, which also may lie behind the massive mess on Tuesday night when hundreds of people were stuck on major autoroutes.   

Subcontractors  were responsible for keeping the stretch of highway clear, but didn't have as the trucks and other equipment available they were supposed to have working.  The huge tie-up was aggravated by lack of coordination and refusal of people in authority to take the initiative to get things taken care of.

Sad, as 45 would say.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Saturday Photo: Coming Up for Air...

The snow in front is nearly gone, except for the fine dusting that fell yesterday.  It's cold--minus 22C on the back porch when we got up.  But the days are getting longer and the time changes tomorrow.

Amazing the way we all change the most intimate details of our lives when the world goes from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time and back again.  But time is really not as capricious as that.  It rolls on, indifferent to our cares.  The rocks in my sort-of Inukshuk come up for air as the season heads for spring, and tiny tips of green begin to show where the snowdrops will burst forth a couple of weeks from now.


Saturday, 4 March 2017

Saturday Photo: The Waters of March...Canada and Brazili

I've posted this before, but I like the photo a lot.  It's March and the snow is/was melting.  (I say was, because we're quite cold today so there won't be much of that.)

In the southern hemisphere, it's fall, not spring.  For a long time I thought the Tom Jobim song, The Waters of March referred to our season, but it turns out that the spring rains in Brazil announce a massive change for the better, the greening of the world after the hot summer.  Here's what the original sounds like. A wonderful song that can span the globe from top to bottom!

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Saturday Photo: Winter Seating--But Not for Long

Last Sunday Lukas and Thomas built an igloo in the backyard, and the snow was knee deep in the parks.  Not much chance that anyone would have been tempted to sun themselves on these benches either.

But climate change is blowing through and the snow is melting rapidly.  Outdoor skating rinks which are frequently open until mid-March are now closed in many neighborhoods. 

A shame, or as that guy South of Border so often tweets:  Sad!  Would that he wised up about what's happening to this world, but to nobody's surprise it looks like he won't.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Saturday Photo: Snow, Trump, and Swinging Left

This photo has been posted before, I think, but it's one of my favourite winter ones and since we've had a nice bit of snow this last week, it seems appropriate this morning. 

The snow and the photo both fit right into the world as we've known it, but at the moment the ground is shifting under our feet, and we don't know what's going to happen next.

A climate change denier is now head of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the president of the United States is either getting crazier and crazier or just showing his true nature, take your pick.  Things are somewhat better here in Canada, but we can't help but be affected by what is happening South of the Border.  Even our handsome Prime Minister seems to think he has to make nice with The Trump in order to keep trade relations from being damaged.

But it's going to be hard to do business as usual.  We should stand on guard, as the song has it.  So should the whole world.  Which is why I've signed up for Shift Left, an interesting movement that is going to try to win swing seats in the US Congress for the Democrats.  The idea is for people in safe districts to help out in the nearest swing district.  In our case that's one in Upstate New York or another in Upstate New Hampshire.  Don't know yet just what I can do concretely, but it's worth trying.  Here's the link: Swing Left

By the way, it looks like the tree is leaning right, but it all depends on your point of view.  From the other side it would indeed be swinging left! 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Saturday Photo: Valentine Hearts, Maylis de Kerengal, and Donor Pledges

 It's a couple of days early, but here's a Valentine  heart to enjoy, made with a not-too-steady hand in Photoshop.  Nice to know that I don't do much cardiac surgery, right?

As it happens, though, I've been reading the wonderful novel by Maylis de Kerengal, variously called Réparer les vivants (in French) or Mending the Living (translation by Jennifer Moore) or The Heart translation by Sam Taylor.  In it, a young man dies and his heart and other organs are donated to others.  Sounds gruesome, but it is exalting.  The French is poetic, evocative and engrossing, while the translations (why there are two, I haven't been able to determine, but both are quite good in their own way) carry the reader along through all the agony of the young man's family and medical professionals who will see that he lives on in others.

In France, organ donation is the default situation: a person must opt out, or it is assumed that he or she has agreed to have organs donated.  In North America, the reverse is the norm, so that unless one has specifically signed a statement approving donation, they won't be.  I'd always been a bit ambivalent about this, and while I've signed the statement on my driver's license agreeing to donation, I had no strong position.  After reading the novel, I'm far more positive.  Read it, and check out where you can sign up. In Canada: here.  In the US: here.



Saturday, 4 February 2017

Saturday Photo: Winter Fun--Thank Heaven for Urban Parks


Didn't have a camera with me this week, but this one taken a few years ago captures the spirit of Montreal in the winter.  I picked up both the grandkids (Jeanne on Tuesday, Thomas on Thursday) early and took them to play in the parks near their houses for a while.  The days are getting longer which meant that Jeanne could skate without problem until after 5 p.m. (and Thomas could "skate with my boots" at Parc Macdonald until even later.

Cold, snowy weather is what makes this place interesting this time of year.  January was the warmest ever, of course.  I know there are much graver consequence of climate change, but, selfishly, I hope that we don't lose all this.

By the way the parks where this family is frolicking as well as Jeanne's and Thomas's are set down in densely populated neighborhoods.  Great city planning!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Saturday Photo: Sun?

I'm tired of cloudy winter days.  Give me really cold weather, a good dump of snow every week or so, and I'm happy.  But gray skies?  No thank you.


Sunday, 22 January 2017

Saturday Photo: Not My Photo, But An Important One

This is Chico Mendes, the Brazilian organizer and environmental champion, who was murdered in 1988.  The photo is by Miranda Smith, who documented some of his activities that were instrumental in setting up reserves where the rubber tappers in the Amazon rain forest could live and work. 

His death was a tragedy, but he is an example to us all of what a few good men and women can do when they buck the odds. 

We're going to need many more like him (who, one hopes, will not meet the same end) in the coming four years.

As other protester said, keep the faith, baby!


Saturday, 14 January 2017

Saturday Photo: Brrrr, But It's Not as Bad as on the Greek Islands

Rather nippy this morning--down near -20 C (0 F)--and on my walk this morning I saw two things that I wished I had my camera to record

The first was a trio of tiger-striped cats sitting in a window, looking longingly at the outside.   The second was a battered umbrella which had apparently given up the ghost during Thursday's rain, and then became frozen in a puddle upside down.

But because I didn't have my camera  with me, you'll have to take my word for it. The windows here at home looked rather like the one in the photo, though.

But we are prepared for cold weather, we have central heating and scarves and heavy coats and boots.  Winter is an inconvenience not a disaster.

The case is quite different in  refugee camps around the Mediterranean, with snow falling on the Greek Islands, in fact.  One of our young friends is involved in a project to help pregnant women, new mothers and their families in the camps, and has put out a call for financial help.  Check it out here: CRIBS. 

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Saturday Photo: Wet Snow, Our Backyard, and Deliveries

Beautiful snow this week, although it was tough driving on Tuesday when the temperature hovered near freezing, and some of the precipitation was freezing rain.  But yesterday was clear and cold.  That meant the weather was perfect for delivering furniture.

Lee's remake of Stuart's bedstead and the new table for Sophie and Lukas found their new homes, after we rented a van and made the rounds.  I did the driving since Lee--insert drum roll here--says I'm a better driver in winter conditions than he is!  All true, I'd even say that I'm a better driver than he is in ALL conditions, but we won't start an argument this sunny Sunday morning.

Of course, there's a certain irony here, because I'm far from being a car person, even though I got my driver's license at 15 1/2.  For a long time I've been a BMW kid--Bike, Metro, Walk (without the bike).  Yet it's nice to have access to vehicles when you need to do something like deliver Lee's projects.