Saturday, 27 July 2019

Saturday Photo: How Concrete Built the World as We Know It

The photo was taken two years ago when we were travelling in Washington state.  That's the Columbia river near Chief Joseph dam and the green stretches are irrigated fields and orchards.  It's a landscape that would be very different if it weren't for the water from the many dams along the Columbia.

This week the drama of rebuilding our street continued, with all the sidewalks torn up and then replaced by new concrete.  It's only been about 30 years since the last work on the sidewalks, which just goes to show you that you have to take care of concrete.  It's a marvelous material, but in its modern formulation, it isn't the Rock of Ages that people thought 50 or 60 years ago.

Perhaps ironically, this week I also signed a contract for my book about concrete. It'll be called Rock of Ages: How Concrete Built the World as We Know It: when I started working it I intended it to be a straight forward statement, but now I see that it must be taken with a grain of salt. 

Whatever, the book is supposed to come out in Fall 2020 from the University of Regina Press.  This fall they'll also be publishing my Frenemy Nations: Love and Hate between Neighbo(u)ring States.  It's ready for pre-order now, should you be so inclined.

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.