Monday, 22 July 2019

Saturday Photo: Glen Villa Garden: Wonderful Place

Well, sorry, folks you'll have to wait until next year.  You missed Open Garden Day at Glen Villa, a 750 acre estate near North Hatley in Quebec's Eastern Townships.

Patterson Webster has created a wonderful mixture of wildscape--native plant, existing forest and carefully selected plantings--and sculpture. We spent a fascinating afternoon wandering around, admiring views, checking out wildflowers in our wildflower guide, and, yes, seeking shade as it was one of the hottest days so far this summer.

The garden is open only once a year, if that, and we felt lucky to be able to take advantage of the occasion which was a benefit for the Lake Massawippi Conservation Association this year.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Saturday Photo: Time to Plunge Back into Concrete

Once upon a time, I had planned to have a book on concrete appear in 2019.  But things got away from me--the zeitgeist, my editor said--and so the book for this year is Frenemy Nations: Love and Hate between Neighbo(u)ring States.

That's pretty much ready for the printer, so it's time to plunge back into concrete, specifically Rock of Ages: How Concrete Built the World as We Know It.  The plan is to have a revised manuscript ready by mid-September  for publication a year from now.

This is a beautiful example of concrete at its best: the floating staircase in the Musée national des beaux arts du Québec.  I've got a lot more....but more about that later.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Saturday Photo: It's Too Hot to Stay Inside..

Summer has arrived, and it is sticky hot in Montreal.  The canicule, as they say around here, is late, and so far much less intense than what has gripped much of the Northern Hemisphere this season. Alaska is warmer than New York City right now, and glaciers are melting in Greenland, leaving behind tons of sand. 

We walked home from dinner with friends in downtown last night, a 50 minute promenade which left us sweaty and tired.  What was remarkable was the number of people lounging around outside, on the terraces of restaurants and bars, but also just trying to get a little cooler.  We've made the walk many times, but it's been a while since we did it at that hour.  Reminded me of evenings in Singapore where the streets came alive with people of all ages once the sun set. During the day, everything went on in the air conditioned indoors.

Air-conditioning isn't as ubiquitous here yet.  That's why you get scenes like the one above where a couple has taken their breakfast to a park, in an attempt to get a little fresh, cooler air. But we all are going to have to get used to temperatures like this, it appears.  A reminder that climate change will hit us all, and we'd do well to work on strategies to fight it if we can't live with it. 

Monday, 1 July 2019

Saturday Photo: An Octopus's Garden in the Shade

Or rather in the sun.  And maybe it's a pentopus...

This is the temporary water arrangement in front of our house.  Five houses are hooked up to the hose which will be in place until all lead-pipe connections to the street main are changed. 

How long will that take?  Who knows?  Can't extend until winter, of course, because it would all freeze.

It's clear too that there's a lot of infrastructure work going on, some of it less successful than this connection.  Friday morning heavy equipment cut five big Bell cables not far from here, cutting of phone and internet access for literally thousands.  Bell was less than helpful with it's information, but I'm glad to say that things are back to normal chez nous, although our neighbors across the street still don't have telephone.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Saturday Photo: Fountains, Green and Summer

First full day of summer dawned sunny and not too warm.  A welcome change from the cool, wet spring we've had.

Walking home from a raucous borough council meeting (about parking so don't ask,  it's all so badly thought through!) I remembered how wonderful it is to walk through the dark when the air is full of the smell of lilacs, mock orange and Russian olives.  The up-side of the rain has been a long spring and much green.  We should enjoy that, I guess, and stop complaining for a while.

Complaining, though, can be useful.  How else do you get positive change?  Not by saying nothing.

And so concludes the lesson for today.

The photo, by the way, is of a fountain in a nearby park.  Refreshing to sit by when the days become too hot.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Saturday Photo: Reading Books on a Rainy Day

There's more rain forecast for today, so I think I'll spend part of it reading.

This is the time of year when I set up reading lists for the book discussion groups I lead in Montreal-area libraries.  You'll find below the more-or-less definitive selection for 2019-2020.  Should be some good reading.  But seeing them listed, I realize I'd do well to get started on them !

In no particular order they are:

Milkman  by Anna Burns

The story hour  by Thrity Umrigar

The underground railroad by  Colson Whitehead

The only story by Julian Barnes

Nine perfect strangers  by Liane Moriarty

Watching you by Lisa Jewel

Where the crawdad sings by Delia Owens

The golden house  by  Salmon Rushdie

Before we were yours by Lisa Wingate

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely fine  by Gail Honeyman

Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid

The Human Stain by Philip Roth

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

Vinegar girl : The Taming of the Shrew retold  by Anne Tyler

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

The Burning Girl by Claire Messud

Brother by David Chariandy

Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Small Country by Gaêl Faye

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Songs for the Cold of Heart by Éric Dupont (Peter McCambridge, translator)

The Break by Katerena Vermette

American War by Omar El Akkad

Français :

Hemingway,    Ernest  Pour qui sonne les glas

Lavoie, Marie-Renée  Autopsie d'une femme plate

Joffo,    Joseph  Un sac de billes

Bismuth Nadine  Un lien familial

Dupont, Éric La route du lilas

Cognetti, Paolo Huit montagnes

Mabancktou      Alain   Les cigognes sont immortelles

Fontaine, Naomi  Manikanetish

Colette, Sidonie-Gabrielle  La retraite sentimentale  

The photo, by the way, was taken a few years ago when I had just published After Surfing Ocean Beach and was doing a mini-tour.  The book store, which I think has since closed, was formerly the theatre where my friends and I saw a lot of good films.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Saturday Photo: Hidden Corners in the City

We had friends from San Francisco in town last week, and spent some great times talking and walking and talking and drinking wine.  One of our walks took us to la rue Demers in Montreal's Plateau district. 

It is a short lane between two larger streets where extremely modest housing was built more than a century ago.  The owners have made it a greenway, with plants and cobbled paving and no cars at all.

These photos were taken a few years ago when we were briefly staying in the neighborhood, and today it's clear that the owners have decided it's time to do a little upgrading.  Several of the houses had been stripped down to vapour seal and were being re-bricked, but the charm remains. 

Things like this make a city live and breathe.  Great to see...

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Saturday Photo: Are Electric Cars the Future?

These sleek beauties are fueling up through the electric cords running to their house.  Supposedly a nearly completely electric fleet of automobiles is what we want, at least where elecricity is generated in a "green"  way.

But the price tag is still very high, even with government subsidy programs. According to a story on CTV, fully electric cars with prices of less than $45,000 are eligible for the federal $5,000 rebate while the Quebec provincial government offers an $8,000 rebate for an electric vehicle purchase of less than $75,000. Compare that with a manual shift Toyota Corolla which will put you back less than $20,000 without extras.

It's only the upscale market that is ripe for electric cars right now, as witness this lovely driveway (no unsightly asphalt) next to a house on which the owners are spending fortune to up grade...

Think we'll keep our 2002 Corolla going for as long as possible...

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Saturday Photo: Fuchsia for the Inside...

Not much of a post today because I've been moving things outside and doing other stuff like washing windows and curtains.

But this fuchsia I bought for the living room is something to post about I think.  Really lovely...

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Saturday Photo: The Flowers That Don't Bloom in May, Trala!

Work on replacing lead water pipes leading into our 116 year old house continues.  Ten days ago the city replaced the ones on its side of the property line because a leak had developed.  This week we completed the work by replacing those going into the house.

All seems well--except that during the  time that a hole was open in the foundation to allow the water pipe to be changed, a pesky critter entered, it seems. 

About twilight, a mouse skittered across the kitchen floor, apparently having come upstairs from the basement.  Drat!  We've had them in the fall when a door was inadvertently left open and one of them, seeking a warm place to pass the winter, decided to move in.  But this is the first time in the spring.  Have traps set all over: such a nuisance!

And as you can see, the front garden is pretty well trashed.  This weekend I'll bring out some big house plants and place them strategically, but the effect is not going to be the usual! The other photo is of bee balm that most years is quite nice, but I think it has been trashed. Well, gardens are always a work in progress...

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Saturday Photo: The Flowers that Come in May...

This long, wet season is finally improving, and I saw this glorious display this morning. 

The garden centres are full of plants, and the elementary school our kids went to is holding a plant and flower sale today.  But I think I'll wait before I put anything outside.  In this year of fickle weather, this time of climate change, anything can happen!

Friday, 3 May 2019

Saturday Photo: The Front Garden This Summer

Those two round blue things in the middle of the photo are what are called bonhommes  à eau here. They're the valves to turn off the water coming into our house and into our neighbors. The name comes, I think, from the way they frequently are put in so that they stick up above the ground, sort of like a little man.  Or that's what I figure since  I haven't been able to find a proper explanation

The gravel surrounding them are what the front garden is going to look like for most of the summer.  Usually we have an exuberant mass of perennials growing--hosta, golden rod, asters and many other things whose names I've forgotten. But because the city is going to do more work on water lines this summer, it will be July or August before we get a chance to replace some of the gravel with earth.

Well, I suppose we should be pleased that we have piped water of good quality, and that some of the plants will continue to grow.  It ma be a long summer though...

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Saturday Photo: Plant a Tree Day...Or Plan to Plant One

Back when I was a kid in California Arbor Day was a big thing.  In our windswept, semi-arid neighborhood, we were encouraged to plant trees, particularly around Arbor Day which was, I see from Facebook friends, April 26, or yesterday. 

In this climate it's too early to plant trees--must wait a few weeks to make sure the ground is completely thawed and/or the floods have receded--but I've been thinking of doing that.

The lower photo is of the bumper crop of ornamental oranges we got two years ago.  The grandkids and I harvested them and Jeanne and I made marmalade which wasn't half bad.  Then we planted some of the seeds we'd salvaged in little pots.

It took about three months for them to germinate and several more months for the seedlings to grow large enough to be separated and transplanted into pots.  They now are growing to respectable size.  The other photo is of two of them, happy in our sunny entry.  (The tulips were chosen by Jeanne as an Easter gift, by the way.  She and her two cousins also each took home a little seedling on Easter.) 

We'll see how the seedlings I've kept do this summer.  The tree from which they were propagated was started maybe 20 years ago by my son.  I'll take outside as soon as the weather gets warmer.  But no question of planting it there, alas!  This is not the climate.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Saturday Photo: The Beauty of Natural Easter Eggs, or an Ethical Contradiction?

This is not the first time I've posted this photo.  It dates from 2015, actually, and shows four eggs I'd dyed red according to the recipe my old Latvian neighbour gave me.  All you need is onion skins, water, vinegar and eggs: you boil them for about 15 minutes, let them sit for a while longer, and you get this wonderful colour.

That year Easter was April 5, a whole two weeks earlier than this year, and snow had lingered in the front yard.  I posed the eggs with a couple of Dollar Store decorations, and the result is rather pretty, I think.

But this morning I'm wondering about the little gimcracks.  What were the working conditions of the people who turned them out?  What is the environmental footprint of shipping them across the ocean (because I'm sure they came from China)?  Why did I think I was so clever to make Easter egg dye, but didn't think about the ethical implications of  the rest of my little mise en scène?

The contradiction continues.  The grandkids will be over tomorrow and I bought little Easter bunny headband/hats for them yesterday at the same Dollar Store.  I've sure they'll like them because they love the Santa reindeer ones I bought a few years ago.  But I made my purchase without thinking of the people (perhaps children) who may have been working in a sweat shop to turn them out.

What to do? Be a more thoughtful consumer, first of all.  After that, I'm not sure.  One argument runs that buying things from poorer countries will ultimately raise the standard of living there.  Another is that such purchases should not be made.  Certainly I'm not going to throw out either the bunny ears or the little chicks (which I still have, they last quite a long time if you only bring them out once a year). Doing that would just be more wasteful.  And in the immediate future--like 10 minutes from now--I'm going to dye some more eggs red with onion skins.

Happy spring time holiday, whichever  one you are celebrating, right around now.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Saturday Photo: What a Difference a Day Makes...

Crazy week:  freezing rain that left 200,000 people north of Montreal without power for a couple of days, followed by a quick thaw and Spring!

The first photo was taken in Mount Royal Cemetery on Wednesday, and the second the next day just down the hill on Côte Ste-Catherine road.

There were more disturbing reports on climate change too.  Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, it seems, and there isn't much we can do about it...except try to prepare for weather extremes.

Temperature at the moment in Montreal:  13 C.  Time to think about work in the garden?

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Saturday Photo: The Importance of Keeping the Hard Copy...

The fellow in the middle is my maternal grandfather, J.F. McDonald--or at least that's the name he used for the last 50 years of his life.  It was taken when he was working on the Great Northern Railroad about 1916 or 17 in White Fish, Montana.  That it still exists as testimony to times past is wonderful, but documents like this may become increasingly rare.

I was reminded of this by an article in the New York Times this morning.  "Does Anyone Collect Old Emails?" Peter Funt asks."My two kids, now in their 20s, have mostly digital keepsakes. Increasingly they rely on Facebook and the cloud to store memories. Their letters from college, sent by email, are long gone. Many photos, never printed, have disappeared. I worry that for them, personal history already doesn’t reach back as far as it should."

It used to be that libraries had collections called "ephemera" that included all sorts of things like playbills, menus, pamphlets, sometimes letters. They may still, for all I know, but the problem of saving what we have around us is growing since so many of the things that a collector might give to an archive, a museum,  a library or even a family photo album are far more emphemeral these days.  They are gone in a key stroke, never to be seen again.

This is a shame, so here's my manifesto for today: print that photo you took yesterday or that series of emails you sent to your children or your sweetheart!  You--or someone in the future--will be glad you did.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Saturday Photo: Hockey? Golf? Sports in 17th Century Holland from the AGO

One of the pleasures of our trip to Toronto recently was a day spent in the Art Gallery of Ontario.  The featured exhibition, Impressionism in the Age of Industry, is terrific, but we also were able to saunter through the other galleries. 

This painting. "Skaters on the Amstel" by Arent Arentsz which dates from the 1620s, was one that stopped me dead in my tracks.  Showing skaters on the frozen river it also portrays two well-dressed dudes playing "kolf" which looks a lot like golf mixed with hockey.  People have been looking for ways to amuse themselves forever, I guess.

Note on the weather: the local authorities just took down the boards for the outdoor hockey rinks in our neighborhood.  This year was a pretty good one for playing the game outside, and the rinks were in use until just a few days ago.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Saturday Toronto: Moose in Toronto

One of the regrets of my life is that I never was able to get a New Hampshire bumper sticker for my mother's wheel chair: "I brake for moose."  We were never in the right place at the right time, and then it was too late.

Carpe diem, I guess.  And perhaps it's in that spirit that we went to Toronto last week: it's slightly south of Montreal and the idea was that it might be warmer.  It was, and by the end of our stay on Friday there even were a few green blades of grass peeking out of the winter dross.  But one of the high points was this moose in front of the Lucky Charm Moose Village Market, quite splendidly decked out for, perhaps, a Chinese holiday (after all the New Year wasn't that long ago.)

There's Lee waiting for more patiently, out in front, before we sauntered down to the train station to come back.  Time well spent...

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Saturday Photo: The Cover...

Not much to write this week, because I'm busy checking the edits on my new book.  Here's the cover (or its latest iteration.)

More later....

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Saturday Photo: Craftsbury Common and Frenemies

Jessamyn West, the Vermont librarian, took this lovely photo of Craftsbury Common, in mid-state Vermont.  I love it for its peaceful beauty and the way it captures a vision of story-book New England.  Of course, the story is far more complicated than the photo suggests, as I consider in Frenemy Nations: Love and Hate between Neighbo(u)ring States which the University of Regina Press will publish in October.  Vermont and New Hampshire are two of the pairs of places that have much in common but which are in many ways very different, and Ms. West has kindly allowed us to use the photo in the book. 

Part of the reason for posting this photo today is because we're entering the count-down to publication: I'm supposed to get the copy edit this week, and hope to turn it around within a couple of days.  It will be interesting to see how people react to it.  Initial comment is quite positive, but then after 15 books (this is my 16th) I know that friends are unlikely to tell you anything negative unless you ask, and usually I don't ask...

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Saturday Photo: March Sunbath....

The sun is rising earlier, setting later, and passing higher in the sky.  All that points to the end of winter, although the temperatures here remain now higher than a frosty -12 C. 

Next week most schools in Quebec will be closed for March Break, and I imagine there will be a lot of kids playing outside until they drop, literally, to spend a few moments looking up a the blue, blue sky.  Not the sunbath you might have in July, but pleasant nonetheless.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Saturday Photo: Ruts, rats!

This is what our lane looked like this morning.  After several snowfalls and freeze and thaw cycles, it had been reduced to two tracks of ruts about four inches thick.

The arrondissement has said it will keep up snow removal in this lane which serves 300 families in a four block stretch.  Not only do many of them (including us) get oil deliveries off it, access to our parking is supposed to be by it.

Last Sunday night it took us a half hour to get into our garage which is about where you see the power lines crossing.  Later in the week a couple of neighbors got caught up on the ruts, trying to get out this way.

Bah humbug!  There is no reason for this kind of snow build up: we've never had it before, the equipment is supposed to be on standby, the plan is push aside the snow and then remove much of it.  But it sure hasn't worked this winter.  Now I understand why people go South!

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Saturday Photo: Elections, Snow and Julia Sánchez

Snow days this week, ice day today (after a period of rain yesterday) but every day is campaign day this week and next. 

Here is Julia Sánchez, the NPD  candidate in the Outremont by election, with the snowperson constructed on Wednesday by her friends and campaign workers.  I was by to telephone that afternoon, and was delighted to see how many people were working there on an day where much of the city closed down (about 36 cm in this neighborhood, or 9 inches, which fell within 12 hours.)  Good responses to my calls, too--people were home because so many of them had booked off because of transportation problems.

We usually get about 40 cm (10 inches) of snow in February, but it all fell in a very short time.  It was just another example of the extreme weather--another is the cycle of enormous temperature shifts from day to day--that we've had this year.  Probably due to climate change, which is one of Julia's big concerns.  She would/will make a great MP, and my task this afternoon is to go campaign a bit more for her.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Saturday Photo: Natural Valentine

A couple of years ago I found these lovely leaves cascading down the side of a garage.  Nice to see that Nature loves a Valentine too.

So please tell those  around you whom you love that you love them today, as well as on Thursday!

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Saturday Photo: Tommy Douglas in 1944

This photo was taken three years before Saskatchewan began its provincial hospitalization plan that started Canada on its road toward universal, single-payer health insurance.  Tommy Douglas-- son of a foundry worker,  Premier of Saskatchewan,  leader of the New Democratic Party, Father of Medicare, and Keifer Sutherland's grandfather--was the man behind the program.  He's on my mind very much today for two reasons.  

The first is that I sent off a final version of my book Frenemy Nations: Love and Hate between Neighbo(u)ring States to the University of Regina Press yesterday. It's about places that are alike yet different, and one of the ten pairs I consider are Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The second is that this afternoon I'm going to start telephoning for Julia Sánchez, the NDP candidate in the Outremont by-election set for February 25.  She's a fine, intelligent woman who would be a great MP: would that the NDP have a full slate of candidates like her, come October and the general election.

As for Tommy Douglas, he's one of my heroes.  I heard him speak once, on  a cold and rainy November night in 1982. It was at the end of a conference on the future of Canada's Medicare program, at a time when the program was still relatively young but was under attack, as it frequently has been.

 The speakers who went before Douglas had given their view of how Medicare--one of the defining attributes of Canada, many think--had developed.  A trade union official spoke about establishing one of the first comprehensive health clinics in North America, an actuary and former Quebec politician told how a universal, public hospital and medical care insurance scheme was more efficient and equitable, and a physician explained why doctors in one province went on strike to block its introduction, but ultimately came around to agreeing it was a pretty good idea.  The speeches were informative, sometimes even interesting.

Then Douglas, still going strong at 78, stepped up to the podium to "bat cleanup," as one of the  conference organizers put it.  His speech wasn't new to anyone who'd been following his career.  Mostly it was about how the universal health care system was threatened by extra-billing  and extra charges that were being levied even though it was set up  to provide free health care "for every man, woman and child in the country."  He spoke with his right hand raised in the air, his voice strong and commanding, trained as it was to be heard in large crowds in days before  public address systems when he was a Baptist preacher.  His presence was as big as his voice, despite the fact that he'd always been a little guy, never much heavier than the 135 pounds he weighed when he won a Light Heavyweight boxing title at 18.

 "We can’t stand still," he said.  "We can either go back or we can go forward. The choice we make today will decide the future of Medicare in Canada."  He paused, and then rose up on the tips of his toes to quote not Scripture but the English poet William Blake.  His voice intensified, full of conviction, of strength, of hope:

"We shall not cease from mental strife, Nor shall our swords rest in our hands, Till we have built Jerusalem, In this green and pleasant land."

The crowd took to its feet with cheers, whistles and applause. If he'd told us to march out into the darkness and bring some light to the world, we would have done it.

Many years have passed, but I'm still with Tommy.  Now to go out into the cold and work for Julia...



Saturday, 26 January 2019

Saturday Photo: The Dude Who Divided the World..

The painting is of Pope Alexander VI (born Rodrigo de Borja, into the infamous/famous Borgia family) adoring the Christ Child, while Mary looks on.  Pietro Facettio was the artist, who reportedly made the mother of Christ look like one of Alexander's mistresses...

Quite a dude, that guy.   But setting aside his questionable morals, he is notable for dividing the world between Spain and Portugal at the beginning of the age of European exploration.  He's the reason why Brazil speaks Portuguese and the rest of Latin America speaks Spanish: the territory east of his line went to Portugal and the rest to Spain.

That's only part of the story, of course, but I'm giving it attention today because maybe, finally, after a half dozen attempts, we've come up with a title of my next book which, among other things, deals with the great linguistic divide.  We're calling it Frenemy Nations: Love and Hate between Neighbo(u)ring States.   Stay tuned for more info...

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....