Saturday, 18 November 2017

Saturday Photo: November Skies, Meteors and Visual Pollution

There's been some talk about the possibility of a good meteor show from the Leonids tonight: here's the link to The New York Times story about meteors showers in general, with specific reference to the flurry of meteors that we might see during the period when the earth passes through the region of the solar system full of cosmic junk.

But it's become impossible to see much of anything in the night sky in our neighborhood as residents put up more and more outside lights. I remember seeing Orion on winter nights as I put the car away in the garage, but this week, while I thought I saw the brightest star in the constellation, I had to guess at the rest.  Thomas told me that he and his Dad had seen a planet last weekend--Venus, to hear him tell--but it's very hard for a little guy these days to wonder at the starry sky if he lives in a city.

The wintry wonder of skies like the one shown above are some consolation, I suppose.  With the leaves off the trees, the parade of clouds across the sky is more apparent.  But even scenes like this are menaced.  Earlier this week we had three days of air pollution alerts, occurrences that had become much less frequent when regulations against burning trash and fire places came into effect.  But the climate is changing, as we all know, and other factors have come into play....

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Saturday Photo: Concrete, the Material That Builds Our World

This week I really got rolling on the newest project, a new book to be called Rock of Ages: How Concrete Built the World As We Know It. Making plans to attend a big convention of concrete types, looking at the photos I've taken over the years, reading a lot of notes, and trying to start writing.

This is one of the more humble uses of concrete, improving somebody's parking space.  There are a millions more, and I'm trying to bring some order into my presentation.  Should be an interesting challenge!

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Saturday Photo: Full Moon, Clear Skies

The forecast is for rain but the full moon is hanging around just now.  Nice to see....

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Saturday Photo: Pumpkins...and Pumpkin Pi

Just returned from scouting pumpkins.  Thomas and Louis (5 and 17 months) are coming over today and we're going to make a pumpkin, or maybe two.

We currently have two tiny ones and two small ones, chosen by Jeanne when she was here earlier in the week.  She left with three small ones for herself and her parents.  She also chose the ones we have: I was surprised that she wanted the smaller ones, but she was the one who got to decide.

Not sure what Thom will think though, hence the scouting trip.  Funnily, there seem to be very few medium sized ones around--a few tiny ones and several enormous ones in the stores. 

Well, we'll see what the boys decide.  And afterwards we'll have the prospect of several pumpkin pies, which are favourites around here. As is this terrific jack o'lantern carved a few years ago by some talented folk.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Saturday Photo: Hibiscus in October II, Inside

The plants were brought in, there was a little frost Tuesday morning, but the temperatures shot up considerably at the end of the week.  Because of this--or despite it, take you pick--one of the hibiscus celebrated by sending forth another flower.

Should be interesting to see if the plant continues to be so colourful.  At the moment, we're just enjoying have the green inside, as the trees finally begin to turn colour. 

Climate change is really weird.  We haven't had to turn the furnace on yet this fall, and didn't run the air conditioner very much either this summer.  Maybe this Montreal is becoming a more temperate climate?

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Saturday Photo: Hibiscus in October

For years I've had two hibiscus bushes that have bloomed perhaps a half dozen times when the conditions were just right.  I put them outside in the summer, but even then blooms are rare. This year, however, things are different.  They've spent four months in their usual vacation place, in our shady little patch of front garden, and in the past few weeks they've been blooming.  At the moment, they have three flowers (I couldn't get them all in the photo) with a few more buds still to go.

Two things may account for this.  First, I did put some composted manure on them in early August, because their roots had begun to show, but I've done that before with no real results. 

The second factor is more important I think: for the first time ever I've kept them outside well in October, and the light coming through the overhanging tree branches is lower and  more intense. 
Is this one of the upsides of global warming?  Will we have other falls where the temperatures match or exceed those of July and August?  No idea, of course, although the prospect of climate change gives me chills.  What I will do is bring the plants in next week, before the frost which is forecast for Monday night.  In the meantime I'll enjoy the blossosm.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Coming Soon to the Atwater Library: Road through Time

Hope to see you at 12:30 p.m. Thursday October 12 at the Atwater Library when I'll be talking about  Road through Time: The Story of Humanity on the Move (University of Regina Press.) This image of Persian charioteers (as imagined in the 19th century) will be one of those I'll show as I talk about the first roads, warrior's roads, modern roads, and where they may be leading us now.