Saturday 31 December 2016

Saturday Photo: For Peaceful New Year...

And in hopes that not everything is swept away by the Trump Train...

Friday 23 December 2016

Saturday Photo: Holiday Greetings and the Link to My Rant...

Things are getting a little hectic right now, so I'll be brief:  here's wishing everyone a fine holiday.  If you'd like more: here's the link to my annual end-of-year blog.

Sunday 18 December 2016

Saturday Photo: Bolo do reis and Putting Things in Perspective

This is a Portuguese holiday cake, covered with crystalized fruit and sugar.  Quite good if you like that sort of thing, which Lee certainly does.  Bought one last week and it was much appreciated.

A Padaria Coimbra, AKA La Baguette dorée, on Mount Royal in the Plateau makes a lovely one.  We discovered it six years ago during the difficult winter we spent in an apartment nearby following the fire that seriously damaged our house. 

Jeanne was a baby then, but now she's six.  Her cousins Thomas is four and baby Louis will be six months on Thursday.  Time passes and frequently in retrospect the bad things (8 months out of our house, fights with the contractor, much uncertainty etc) fall away and the good things stand out.

Would that be the case with the current political situation!

Saturday 10 December 2016

Saturday Photo: Climate Change and Getting Ready for Christmas in Montreal

These are salted herring, to be filleted and marinated to make sil, the Scandinavian pickled herring dish.  It's something I've made every Christmas since I married into the Soderstrom family. Delicious!

But this year I've been having trouble finding the fish.  My usual fish store says they're sold out, and won't receive any more before January.  I called around a bit, and found that National Herring, a wholesaler, has some at $6 a pound that they may sell me if I trek out to their warehouse.  The price is much more than I've paid in the past, but for a holiday treat, I'll pay it.

But why the penury? I wondered.  Seems there's a shortage of herring and other small fish in northern Atlantic waters.  Lobster fishers who use herring to bait their traps,  complained all summer about the lack, and special rules were put into effect.

Nobody I've read puts the finger on climate change  or over-fishing for the decline in stocks, but we all know what happened to the cod fishery.  After 30 years of closure, the stock is beginning to come back off Canada, but the Americans are saying that things are getting worse there, probably because of warmer water which is driving the fish north.

There may be snow on the ground here this morning, but it sure looks like we've messed things up.

Saturday 3 December 2016

Saturday Photo: Getting Ready for Christmas in Brazil

Another photo for three years ago: a cafe in Brasília which was all decked out in pointsettias and red ribbons for Christmas.

We picked up our Christmas wreaths from Jeanne this morning: her school was selling them, and I bought two plus one for a neighbor.  Quite nice.

Now we need some cold weather and sun to make this winter season work....

More later.

Saturday 26 November 2016

Saturday Photo: What Happens to Cuba's Health System after Fidel's Death?

Thinking about Fidel Castro's death: Three years ago exactly I was in Brasília, doing research for my book Road through Time. The top floor of the hotel where I was staying was taken over by Portuguese classes for about 40 Cuban doctors, come to work in the Brazilian hinterland on some sort of cooperative program.

Seemed passing strange to me.  So I asked about this, and I was told by Brazilians that their doctors didn't like to work in the bush, and so their health system depended on Cubans to do what amounted to Peace Corps type work in a country that to all eyes was much more prosperous.

I suspect that other parts of South America also benefited from programs of this sort. What will happen now to Cuba's really quite remarkable health system?

The photo was taken from the top floor of the hotel.  Check out the cars: definitely not what you'd see in Cuba. 

Saturday 19 November 2016

Photo: Yellow Leaves of All Sorts

The leaves of all sorts are off the trees.  This Tuesday will be the last pick-up of garden trimmings too.  After this, the snow is supposed to come.  So be prepared....

Saturday 12 November 2016

Saturday Photo: After a Very Dark Week, Looking for the Light

Last Sunday we celebrated birthdays--Elin's, Lee's and mine--because it was one day we all could get together.  It was great fun, and I was very pleased that Lukas and Sophie had taken my suggestion and got me Leonard Cohen's new CD You Want It Darker.  

On Tuesday I listened to part of it in the car on my way to a book discussion club, before the results began coming in on the horrendous 2016 presidential election.  On Thursday, still shaken from the election returns, I listened to the rest coming back from another book discussion.  I also thought of the fabulous sunset we had had that afternoon--bands of clouds and reds and purples that rivaled the last of the fall's leaves.  What I didn't think, was that this could be viewed as an example of that Cohen line: "There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.  

And then the news came on Friday  that Cohen had died on Monday and had been buried on Thursday afternoon in Montreal.   I don't know what his politics were--probably fairly leftish--but I can't imagine that he would have been pleased with the Trump election.  Perhaps it was better that he died before the results were in.  But certainly, those with a mystical bent might see in the sunset on Thursday a glimpse of light that we all hope lies on the other side of the future.

The photo, taken this summer, is of the gates to the Shaar Hashomayim cemetery where Cohen was buried, a place a beauty and peace.  The sun is out this morning, so I'm looking for the light to guide my way.

Saturday 5 November 2016

Saturday Photo: Klimt Weather

Didn't have a camera with me, so you'll have to believe me: yesterday was a marvelous Klimt-coloured afternoon. Looking up de Maisonneuve toward the Quartier de Spéctacles, the trees on the median glowed yellow, gold and orange,below gray buildings and blue skies. Then in my neighborhood, the only leaves still on the trees were the same glittering mixture of colour, made even more lovely by a light breeze which made each leaf dance. Simply gorgeous.

Here's an idea of the colour, from an old photo that gives a bit of the effect.  And also one of the master's golden works.

Saturday 29 October 2016

Saturday Photo: Quoth the Raven, Nevermore!

Katrina and Mike, a young couple up the street, are extremely creative.  She has a high end couterière shop, making marvelous dresses.  He has a vegan restaurant that is supposed to be the best in town.  They're also parents to a sweet little sprite, Victoria, and they decorate their house for special occasions with great class.

This is what began this year's Halloween display: a pumpkin and a stuffed crow.  By the end of the week it looked like the pesky squirrels had discovered it, and had begun to gnaw at the pumpkin, but who cares?

Not I, certainly.  The combination of taxidermy and agriculture is simply delightful. 

Monday 24 October 2016

Saturday Photo (Very Late): Fall Afternoon

This was taken about a week ago, before we had three days of hard ran. The leaves which had not turned colour, did so during the storm, and many of those who had are no carpeting the grass.

Fall is a lovely season. 

Sunday 16 October 2016

Saturday Photo: The Turning of the Leaves

This morning it's gray, but until today we've had a great run of marvelous weather.  Last weekend's rain pushed the leaves into glorious colour, and then the sun came out.

Yesterday I chatted with a couple of Argentine guys, out for a ride on Bixis.  The colours on the mountain, they said, were unbelieveable.

Yes, it's that time of year when the world seems to explode with reds, oranges, yellows and golds.  Simply spectacular!

Sunday 2 October 2016

Saturday Photo: Asters in Bloom

The front yard is full of asters right now. They're the last flowers to bloom, and this year, while there were a lot of buds, they didn't seem to be in any hurry to flower.

But the right combination of day length and rainfall arrived this week and now we have billows of flowers.

A reward for making it through the hot, muggy days to arrive at the other side....

Saturday 24 September 2016

Saturday Photo: Smoke in the West Usambara Mountains

The photo was taken 15 years ago when I was travelling in Africa--Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya. People were preparing for the planting season, burning the stubble left from the previous season. 

It was a little disquieting because the rains were weeks away, and the air was frequently filled with smoke. But people told me there was nothing to worry about.  Certainly there always seemed to be someone near the fire, and the fact that underbrush and leaves were raked away meant that there was little on the ground under trees to aburn should a fire begin to grow. 

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Saturday Photo (Better Late Than Never): Road through Time

This is a little late because I've been doing such things as looking over the copy edit of my new book Road through Time: The Story of Humanity on the MoveAnd just as I was finishing up, I received the cover.  Pretty nice, eh?

Here's the bumph from the University of Regina's Spring 2017 catalogue:

In this thoroughly researched and beautifully written history of roads as vectors of change, Mary Soderstrom documents how routes of migration and transport have transformed both humanity and our planet.
Accessible and entertaining, Road Through Time begins with the story of how anatomically modernhumans left Africa to populate the world. 
She then carries us along the Silk Road
in central Asia, and tells of roads built for war in Persia, the Andes, and the Roman Empire. She sails across the seas, and introduces the  rst railways, all before plunking us down in the middle of a massive, modern freeway.
The book closes with a view from the
end of the road, literally and figuratively, asking, can we meet the challenges presented by a mode of travel dependent on hydrocarbons, or will we decline, like so many civilizations that have come before us?
Sound interesting?  If I hadn't written the book, I'd want to read it, says she, smiling!  The catalogue gives the pub date as April 15, 2017, so I guess we'll have to wait a bit to do that!

Sunday 11 September 2016

Saturday Photo: From Haiti, with Love

Something like 45 years ago I took my first trip outside the North American continent when my sister and her husband invited me to go with them to Haiti.  He had some business to do, and she wanted company.

It was a life changing trip for me.  They were not ones for venturing outside the hotel compound until mid day, but I decided I couldn't let the opportunity go to waste.  So I got when the church bells chimed at 5 a.m. and went exploring.  My reasoning was the the people out and about at that time were solid citizens, so a gringo lady would be safe. 

I was.  The experience was very rewarding, since I got to talk to people going to work, school and market, and could observe them going about their daily lives.  Since then I've refined the method a little: I don't talk to men ordinarily but greet all women with a smile.  But during the many miles I've notched up since then, not once did I come back with anything but positive impressions of the basic kindness of people, even though their circumstance may be difficult.

This is a painting that I bought on that trip, one of the many, many primitive works being sold to tourists then.  Love the mixture of colour and somberness.  Haiti has been on my mind the last few weeks as I finish up my next book, about unidentical twins, that is States and states that have much in common yet are very different.  One of the pairs is that of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but more about that later.

Saturday 27 August 2016

Saturday Photo: Out the Door, School Is Coming....

...and Jeanne just turned six!

It was a week of birthdays: Lukas on Monday, Stuart on Tuesday and Jeanne of Friday.  So last weekend they all were over to celebrate along with Thomas who'll be four Sept. 9.  Great fun!

And tomorrow Jeanne will start Grade One.  How time flies, to repeat a truism. 

Saturday 20 August 2016

Saturday Photo: Reflections on a Summer Day

This is the pavillion in the middle of one of our local parks.  In the winter it's closed up and is used as a place to warm up when you're skating (the circular pond becomes a skating rink.)  This time of year there are tango dancers and other activities. 

But I like it best at the beginning and the end of the day when the light is low and the reflections are lovely.

Sunday 14 August 2016

Saturday Photo: Back to Giverny

Reading a book about Monet and his garden at Giverny, and I'm transported back to one of the loveliest places I've ever been.  We've only visited in May, so I'd love to go back in another season.  Like right now: high summer!

But given all the stuff I've got to do between now and the middle of September, I think I'll just have to get to work.....Another year, perhaps.

Saturday 6 August 2016

Saturday Photo: Ducks Again...

There have been years when there have been at least three duck families cruising around the ponds in Outremont.  But last year I don't think I saw any--bad timing, bad year for ducklings, better pickings elsewhere

This morning, though, I saw two families in Parc Pratt, just kanoodling around, bum in the air parat of the time, looking content at whatever goodies they found in the dirty water.  The immature birds looked big and healthy, so this must have been a good year for them.  Didn't see any  ducklings earlier on, so perhaps Mom and Pop are taking the young ones on a tour to show them the possibilities for later on.

Saturday 30 July 2016

Saturday Photo: Red Day Lilies Showing Their Colours

I find myself getting confused when reading about Red States and Blue States in the US.  The Reds are  Republican and the Blues are Democrat, which is just the reverse of the political line up in Canada.  Here the Liberals are Red and the Conservatives are Blue....not to mention the NDP's orange.

So what message is this day lily sending?  Simply that summer is one heck of a time to obsess about politics.  But I can't help myself.

Saturday 23 July 2016

Saturday Photo: Raspberry Moon

There seemed to be a flurry of comment about last month's Strawberry Moon. Seems Native Americans in the North East States and Canada called it that because wild strawberries were ready for picking then.  Last month's was special, those who care about such things said, because it coincided with the solstice. 

This week the full moon was extraordinary, and according to The Old Farmer's Almanac, it's the Full Buck or Thunder Moon.  The former apparently refers to the fact that male deer start growing their new antlers: who knew?  The latter seems to me to resonate more with us city dwellers.  Certainly we've had thunder storms several days this week. 

But if June is the Strawberry Moon, then July could be the Raspberry Moon.  They're at their peak around here right now.  Delicious!

Saturday 16 July 2016

Saturday Photo: Day Lilies for Difficult Days

A long time ago my son had to take a class that when I was an adolescent would have been called Home Ec (the only advance in his day was that both boys and girls took it.) 

One of the units was on home decoration (!) and a colour wheel was given with what colours were good for what purpose that the kids were supposed to memorize.  I forget what they all were, but I remember that blue was supposed to be calming.

So, there was a test and one of the questions was: your friend is very upset about what's happening in his life and can't sleep.  What colour would you suggest he paint his room?

Lukas answered "yellow."  His reason was that yellow was such a cheerful colour, his friend would feel better.  The teacher said no, the answer was blue because it was restful. 

Lukas was furious and so was I, but he was of an age when he was starting to fight his own battles so I don't think I intervened. In the end he got
part credit because his reasoning was good, as I remember, but I think his point is very well taken: yellow is cheerful.

Given the long string of sad and troubling news this week--the Nice craziness, attempted coup in Turkey, Trump and Hillary neck and neck in the polls, and the list goes on--we're all in need of some cheerfulness.  So here are yellow day lilies which conveniently are in bloom in my back yard right now in hopes that they will make you feel better enough to continue the fight.

Saturday 9 July 2016

Saturday Photo: In Clover...

When something is going good, you can say that it's in clover.  Certainly thing are not going in the world these days, but it's nice to know that clover still is growing in the most unusual places.

This was taken in a corner lot that had been left to go to ruin--only I don't think clover looks bad at all.  Hope no one cuts the grass--although the smell of fresh cut clover is delicious.

Saturday 2 July 2016

Saturday Photo: A Beautiful Immigrant...

The fields along the CPR track through Mile End was full of dancing blue chicory (Cichorium intybus) flowers this morning. A lovely sight. 

The plant, of course, is an invasive import from Europe.  Some have used it roots for a coffee substitute, and apparently it makes good forage for cattle.

But mostly the plant has escaped along the roads of North America, colonizing waste spaces, beautifying urban and rural landscapes. 

Like so many other immigrants, it has made its place here.  Thank goodness.

Saturday 25 June 2016

Saturday (or rather Friday) Photo: Fête nationale and Brexit

This is what our house looked like yesterday, with our Quebec flag unfurled. The grandkids were over and we put it up together.  They don't know the political import of it, but for me this is a sign that we belong here just as much as anybody else. 

Not all of us are Québécois de souche (although grandson Thomas Édouard has ancestors who arrived in the middle of the 17th century from France), but Lee and I chose to live here and the grandkids and their parents were born here or (in the case of Jeanne's father) also chose  Quebec.

This reflection comes as the British are trying to come to grips with what they did on Thursday.  People, it seems, didn't really believe that  Brexit would pass.  Can't understand how people could vote to leave without considering the implications.  But apparently that's what happened in many cases.

Now, there may be good arguments for leaving the European Union, but just because you're angry is not one....

Sunday 19 June 2016

Saturday Photo: Summertime and the Grass Is A-growin'

Summer won't arrive officially until sometime tomorrow, but that hasn't kept the grass and weeds from getting away from people. 

I'm always of two minds about overgrown, shaggy spaces. A weed, after all, is just a plant growing where you don't want it, right?  And my own approach to gardening is what I call Darwinan.  In other words, what grows, grows.  Sometimes the unplanned array of flowers is truly wonderful.

But then there are yards where people have opted for grass and yet who don't do anything about what grows there until it becomes a grass fire hazard.  With just a little thought they could have a low maintenance yard that is a delight for birds and butterflies and also is easy on the eyes  too.

Sunday 12 June 2016

Saturday Photo: Gate into Summer

The photo was taken a week or so ago, before the trees fully leafed out.  But I think it shows nicely where we are headed--toward summer.

Thanks goodness...

Sunday 5 June 2016

Saturday Photo: Chestnuts in Blossom, Paris under Water

The song says:  April in Paris, Chestnuts in Blossom.  That's true as far as it goes perhaps, although when I've been there in early May the chestnuts were always lovely.

They don't bloom until late May or early June here, and now I'm pleased to report that they are lovely right now. 

What I'm not so pleased about is the way the Paris is being submerged in flood waters.  Not so surprising, I suppose: the location was originally chosen because it was on easily-defended islands in the middle of the Seine.  But the recent photos I've seen have given me a little wrench because so many of them show places I've walked completely covered in water, like this pathway along the Seine. 

Saturday 28 May 2016

Saturday Photo: Flowers for Wedding?

It's called bridal veil, I think, and this week its flowers are cascading gracefully everywhere around here. 

Several of the trees on the street were cut down early this spring as a measure to slow the progress of emerald ash borer.  The jury is out over how effective that is, but one thing is certain: the plants which just got on underneath the trees no better than they should have grown immensely.

So this is a good year for bridal veil and honeysuckle.  What that means for weddings and etc. I don't know.  Any ideas?

Saturday 21 May 2016

Saturday Photo: Holiday, Just When We Need It

I've run this photo before. It's of the flag used by the Patriotes in 1837, when Canada had the nearest thing to a revolution that it ever had.

This weekend we're celebrating the Patriotes, while the rest of the country is celebrating Victoria Day.  Interestingly, she took the throne in 1837, although her attitude toward the rebels demanding a say in how they were governed was not at all positive.

I'd much rather celebrate wanting a vote that counted than a girl who stayed on the throne for decades.  But when the weather is warm, as it is right now, I suppose any excuse to enjoy the outdoors is all right.

Sunday 15 May 2016

Satuday Photo: After the Spring Rain

The roads aren't in great shape--the legacy of bad planning (probably) and a winter with a roller coaster of temperatures that turned the freeze and thaw cycle to new heights.

But Saturday morning after a heavy rain, the potholes in the lane were little lakes reflecting the progress of spring.  A few trees are nearly completely leafed out, but many are still in the early stages.  A long way to go before the growing season is really upon us, but there are many promises to be seen.

Saturday 7 May 2016

Saturday Photo: Yello to Match the Sun

First nice weekend this spring.  Really lovely.  Going to do a barbecue for Mother's Day (Lukas will be doing the actual barbecuing, of course.) 

Saturday 30 April 2016

Saturday Photo: Forsythia

Next up: forsythia.  The first week in May is the week when the trees leaf out here.  While the last week was pretty cold, with temperatures below freezing several mornings, the little leaflets seem to be plumping up nicely.  So with any luck by this time next weekend there will be the lacey tracery of leaf shadows falling on the ground.

In the meantime, the forsythia is beginning to come out.  Love the colour.  Yellow rules...

Saturday 23 April 2016

Saturday Photo: Resistance, Plus a Slide Show

Always is nice to see how the force that through the green fuse drives the flower (as Dylan Thomas put it) continues to work. Here's a photo I took, plus a slide show that is truly lovely.

Sunday 17 April 2016

Saturday Photo: Scylla Here and in Chicago

Took this a few years ago when I was in Chicago when the scylla was in bloom.  This year the firsts ones are shaking their little blue heads and spring begins.

Other signs of spring: people whizzing around on Bixis which went into service at midnight Friday, kids asking their parents for ice cream on a lovely Saturday afternoon, and me trying to remember what I thought I sould do in the garden this spring.  So much for keeping records: I may do a good job when I'm reporting/researching something, but I always forget that I mean to plan out the next year's garden when the memories of the last year's one are still vivid.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Saturday Photo: Orange is the New Black

Or something like that.  Didn't post on the weekend because of visits from grandkids and dinner guests (yes, dinner guests: the young'uns were surprised to learn that Grandma and Grampa actually have friends!) 

But there also was a good reason to wait--the NDP convention.  I didn't go, and I was not shy about saying that I thought the party--my party for so long--had gone terribly astray during the last election.  To let Justin Trudeau run to its left!  What a terrible abandoning of what the NDP has always been in Canada--the voice on the Left with the good ideas.

That the stunning repudiation of Thomas Mulcair appeared to be a surprise to those close to him shows just how little they'd been listening to the rank and file, or for that matter the electorate.  It's not having lost an election that's a problem. It's having lost an election by running on Centrist ideas.  And it's not that Mulcair and company weren't warned.

Full disclosure is necessary on that point: I was president of Mulcair's riding association from 2011 to 2013, so I knew to whom to send emails when Lee (an economist) wanted to point out the fallacy of running on a no-debt platform at a time when the economy needs stimulus and interest rates are very low.  Similarly, for years I've tried to get Mulcair to take a more pro-active stand on protecting the Canada Health Act and our single-payer system.  There were others in the party who also blew whistles but weren't listened to.

So we shall see what we shall see.  In the meantime here's bit of orange I clicked back when the world seemed to be going Orange in 2010-2011....

Saturday 2 April 2016

Saturday Photo: Bougainvillea, or a Plant from Away

It's not often that my bougainvillea blooms, but this year it has.  Not sure why.  Certainly it's not because it's received a great deal of sun.  The gray, rainy weather has apparently not dissuaded it, though.

The plant is a native of South America, and it's blooming is appropriate because I'm up to my neck in books about Brazil and Spanish South America for my next non-fiction project, a book to be called Unidentical Twins.   

But it also reminds me of my mother.  Bougainvillea was one of the few plants she could grow.  She always had a massive bush on the east side of the house in San Diego, which I remember with great pleasure. 

Saturday 26 March 2016

Saturday Photo: The Rites of Spring and Our Place in the Universe

This was taken last year--obviously an Easter egg tree this year would be standing in a pile of snow since we had a nice late winter storm Thursday and Friday.  But it's time to celebrate the coming--or the promise--of the verdant season.  (For other signs, check this out.)

This last week has been aces for such celebrations:  the Equinox on Sunday/Monday;  Norooz, the Persian new year festival on Tuesday; Purim, the raucous Jewish holiday on Wednesday/Thursday; Holi, the Indian one marking the victory of "good" over "bad" on Thursday; and now Easter for Western Christians tomorrow.

The equinox is a good time to pause and reflect on how much our world--full of IT and noise--is actually based on our fundamentally subordinate place in the universe.  No matter what we do, there is no way we can change the fact that we are on a planet that orbits its sun over a period that is somewhat related to, not not quite in sync with its moon's orbit around it or with its own rotation around its axis. 

We saw a demonstration of that at the end of February when we all had to make an adjustment as that month was given another day as it does every four years.  If that adjustment weren't made the seasons would soon be out of phase with the months. Another demonstration shows up in the way that  Greek Orthodox Easter comes a month from now.   It always comes after Passover, and Passover won't be for a month because the Jewish calendar this year has an extra month in order keep it more or less in phase, too.  That's what happens when a planet's orbit around the sun isn't quite in sync with its moon's orbit around it, or some such thing.

Makes you feel small, perhaps.  Or maybe just like going in the kitchen and starting to cook for the festivities that will make us feel better about it all....

Saturday 19 March 2016

Saturday Photo: First up, Snow Drops...

This is not the first time I've posted this photo, but it's right in sync, as the snow drops came up this week.  Had a few days with sun and temperatures above freezing, so they burst out.  This morning the cold made them curl back up, but the promise is there....

Saturday 12 March 2016

Saturday Photo: The Incredible Shrinking Snow People

The snow is melting fast.  This means that the snow fort made by the Hassidic boys up the street is just about gone, and all the snowmen fashioned by eager hands lately are on their way out.

Went out without a hat yesterday, the kids didn't wear boots in this afternoon, and the parks were full of people sitting in the sun on benches that have emerged from snow banks.

The equinox is a week away, and the time changes tonight so I guess we're just about ready for a change in season.

Saturday 5 March 2016

Saturday Photo: Literal Blast from the Past...

That's me and our dog Trout Fishing in Canada on March 4 or 5, 1971 following the biggest (or second biggest, depends on who's talking) snowstorm in Montreal's history.

We were living downtown then, and things had ground to an absolute halt. Kinda fun, though, and Trout thought it was marvelous.  Another thing notable about the photo is how thin both of us are.  She became very portly toward the end of her rather long life (she died at 13) and I, well, I've put on some pounds too.

Still like hats with brims, though, as well as walking in the snow.

As for Trout's name, as those of you who were around in the '60s and '70s may have guessed, she was named after Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America which both Lee and I liked a lot at the time.  Funny, though, when a friend of Elin's lent us another of Brautigan's books recently, we were left cold.  Could be because there's a reference to some 'elderly folks' who are in their 50s...

Saturday 27 February 2016

Saturday Photo: The Sun Rises Earlier and Earlier..

There hasn't been a lot of sun lately, which is not the usual scenario for February.  I've always liked the month because usually we get a lot of cold, clear weather.  This next week, too, is usually the one when the sun starts shining in our back bedroom, as it begins to swing higher in the sky.

This morning the sun shone briefly before it took its sentinel position behind the clouds.  But at least it rose much earlier than it had two months ago when we were just recovering from Christmas.  The back of winter should be broken, we can look forward to more sunshine, I hope at least.

Saturday 20 February 2016

Saturday Photo: Ice Is Nice

It was this cold earlier this week--down near where Farhnheit and Celsius meet if you factor in the wind chill.  For one of the first times this winter we had nice ice on the windows: it has to be really cold before frost forms on the inside of the storm windows.

But of course, like everything this crazy winter, it didn't last.  About four inches of snow last night, and then rain today, so we're walking in puddles at the moment. 

Climate change, right?

Saturday 13 February 2016

Saturday Photo: Natural Hearts

So what if Valentine's Day is tomorrow, I dug up this picture which fits perfectly today, I think.  Tomorrow the kids and I will make a heart-shaped cake, today my Sweetie bought me flowers, outside it's wonderfully cold and sunny.

Hope you have a lovely day....

Sunday 7 February 2016

Saturday Photo: Reflection of Winter

Some what paradoxically, house plants do very well in the winter here.  That's probably because, while the days are short and it's cold outside, usually it's very sunny.  My two hibiscus get a growth spurt most years around now, while my lantana that never blooms outside in the summer because there's so much shade, sets out a few blossoms.  
A couple of years ago I took this photo of a restaurant window where flowers were bravely blooming even though the snow was piled deep on the street.  There's a lesson there, I think  We manipulate our living conditions with both good and bad consequences. 

Saturday 30 January 2016

Saturday Photo: Snowcat by Jeanne

Such a nice thing to see little kids spread their wings and make interesting things.  Jeanne was sick this week and stayed home, which gave her quite a bit of time, it seems, to draw and paint.

This is a water colour she did of a snowcat with the snow falling, and her name written on some of the snowflakes.  Quite delightful, says Grandma!

Thomas, two years younger, isn't as adept at drawing yet, but Thursday when I picked him up from day care he had a drawing that he wanted to take home.  Looked like a bunch of squiggles in red pencil, but he had a wonderful story about the firemen in it who were climbing ladders to get to the fires. Quite delightful, Grandma repeats!

Sunday 24 January 2016

Saturday Photo: Libertarian or Socialist Ways to Clear Snow

What more can be said?  Snow removal is one of those many things that governments should do.  We grouse about how well it's done up here, but at least we are agreed that all of should contribute. 

That's why I love this graphic representation of what happens when people don't help each other out in the most basic ways possible--by having government foot the bill to keep our lives going. 

Otherwise we're reduced to getting the kids to do it, right?  (The photo is of Lukas a good 30 years ago when he enjoyed moving snow!)