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Road Through Time by Mary Soderstrom

Road Through Time

by Mary Soderstrom

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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Saturday Photo: When You Haven't Got Much Garden Room, Go Up!

In this neighborhood of tiny front gardens, people have a way of making every little bit of space count.  Here one of my neighbors has a f\vine and a climbing rose working their way up one of the street trees. 

Friday, 29 June 2012

Appropriation of Voice: Back to That Old Question

There are now 10 stories more or less written for the short story collection I've been working on for the last year, and for which I got that nice CALQ grant.  Called Desire Lines: A Geography of Love, it is designed to explore the various kinds of love we  feel, between lovers, between parents and children, between friends.  Only a couple of the stories are ready for publication, but I'm more or less satistifed with the contours of the collection.  That's good because I'm supposed to make a report on what I've accomplished with the grant money in a short time.

Because I want to cover a lot of human experience, I've consciously varied the point of view, but yesterday I began wondering if I had given to much of the spotlight to the female one.  So I counted: five are exclusively female, two are split between men and women and three are male. 

Hmm.  Is that good enough?  Or is it really possible for a woman to put herself in the skin of a man?  Certainly I've tried before with (I think) some success, but echoes of that controversy from the 1990s are bouncing around me.  At that point there were nearly physically violent clashes over whether men could write in the voice of a woman, and if a member of one ethnic group had a right to take write from the point of view of another group.  The Writers' Union of Canada had several stormy sessions over the issue, while in the US and elsewhere, it was argued that  white men couldn't understand and therefore couldn't write about the experience of "others."

The last book we discussed at the Atwater Library Book Group was The Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar.  The French writer successfully (in most readers' eyes) gives us the story of the Roman emperor told in the first person.  The Atwater group found the book rewarding for the most part, and several said they had trouble believing that it was fiction by a 20th century woman.  "How can this happen?" at least two people asked. 

Well, the answer is: anything can happen if the writer is good enough.  Obviously Yourcenar was.  The question for me now is: how good is Mary Soderstrom?

Thursday, 28 June 2012

US Plan for Medicare Is Constitutional-!

It was good to learn that the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to uphold Obamacare this morning. That's basically good news, even though the plan has great problems.  Chief among them is that it is insurance-based and not single-payer.

The former sort of plan integrates all the inefficiencies of insurance run by for-profit companies into the health system.  An example of where this sort of system can go awry is Quebec's pharmacare plan.   Sure, everyone  is protected from the high cost of drugs, but since there is no central body negotiating drug prices, they are going up and up. 

In contrast, the single payer provincial health insurance schemes are remarkably efficient when it comes to administration.  Most also are able to bargain good prices for drugs used in hospitals.

The adminstrative labyrinth in the US health insurance scheme seems certain to raise costs.  Too bad Obama and company weren't bolder when they set out their program.  Hindsight is better than foresight, of course, and who would have thought that the conservative Chief Justice John Roberts would have sided with those in favour of Obamacare?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

More from the Copyright Wars: Who Owns a Video?

Everyone seems to  think that he or she can use just anything that's out there for private use.  A case in point is a video made during a demonstration during a recent by provincial by election north of Montreal where Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois banged a couple of pot lids together.  She doesn't do it for very long, and appears to do it only because she's handed the lids.

The  clip was slashed from a longer video posted on Youtube and massaged a bit for use in an ad by the Quebec Liberal Party.  In it Marois looks clumsy and appears to be playing out of rhythm with the protesters.  That's bad enough, but the PLQ's message is that she is supporting violence etc.

I went looking for it this morning, but it's been withdrawn, apparently because the amateur photographer sent a lawyer's letter in protest, saying he never gave permission for its use .  Bully for him!

Now, if other people would get the message...  The passage of the new Copyright law in Canada, opening up the educational exemption for copying is just another example of the way that creators of all sort are being forgotten in the equation when they are not being simply ripped off. 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Catch up Time: Holes in the Streets, Severe Storms and Trying to Make up for Past Mistakes

The photo (from the CBC) shows the latest in a series of holes that have developed in Montreal streets over the past few weeks.

One opened up on Sherbrooke St. in front of McGill University during the massive protest May 22 against raised tuition fees and the anti-demonstratio law Bill 78.  Nobody fell in, thank goodness, but traffic was snarled for a couple of weeks while repairs were done.

Then several other other large holes have showed up in.  One, which came to light June 11, wasn't immediately recognized, since the asphalt near the busy interestion of Peel and Ste Catherine streets appeared to be merely sagging.  But when city crews looked urther they found a huge cavity where part of  a water line dating from 1888 had washed away.  The only thing holding up the roadway was the remnants of trolley tracks.

Montreal neglected renewing its infrastructure for several decades, and now cost of that is being totted up.  The fact that we've had several heavy thunder storms where more water rushed through storm sewers than they could handle hasn't helped any.

Bottom line: you've got to pay for neglect whether it is a manifestation  of denying the need to maintain infrastructure, or--even worse--forgetting that what we're doing to the climate is going to have an impace on us. 

Monday, 25 June 2012

Despite the Forecast, It was a Great Day

No post to day because I spent most of it running around preparing for NPD Outremont's barbecue.  Great fun, good crowd (we went through 200 paper plates, which gives an idea of how many were there) and the weather was really good, despite the forecast of rain.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Saturday Photo: Fleur de lys for Quebec's Fête Nationale


June 24 is the feast day of St. John the Baptiste. It also has the same relation to a solstice that Christmas does.  In other words, Christians appropriated pagan holidays marking the progression of the seasons with celebrations that had at least a partial Christian gloss.

St. Jean Baptiste is the patron saint of Quebec, and for generations it was celebrated with big bon fires and religious processions.  In recent years, the feast day has become a secular celebration, with distinctly inclusive rhetoric lately.

I always put the Quebec flag on our balcony over this weekend in large part,  to claim Quebec for those of us who chose it as  home.  In the same spirit,  I've planted blue iris in the front garden to resonate with the fleur de lys on the flag. Many years the iris are in bloom right now, but this year they were at their loveliest  about two weeks ago when this picture was taken.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Great Strawberries This Year from Quebec Farms: Will Data Be the Next Hot Crop?

South-eastern Quebec punches above its weight when it come to market-gardening.  This year, given an early spring, crops are already coming in ebundantly.  Quebec strawberries--always very tasty--are better than I ever remember them.

But there may be another "crop" on our horizon: data farms.  With abundant hydroelectricity and a climate which is pretty cold for five months of the year, it  seems that a growing data/server storing industry may be in the making.  Weird to think of the countryside filled with warehouses where nothing much moves except the bits and bytes of electronic data, but that appears to be a distinct possiblity.  Certainly, the move toward cloud servers means greater demand for "data farms." 

And this is one for those of you who like to think in Gaia terms:  are these "farms" analogous to the neural nodes in animals?  Are we seeing the beginning of a new planet-spaning super organism?

Stay tuned...


Shame! Shame! As They Say in Hansard: Harper's Canada Heads in the Wrong Direction at Rio and Elsewhere

The criticism of Canada's position on environmental issues has been growing at the international confernce on the environment Rio+20. Le Devoir's story this morning is just one of many that point out how the country is going in the wrong direction now, even though 20 years ago (under a Progressive Conservative Prime Minister) it was a leading force at the first Rio conference.

That gathering finished just as the Canadian House of Commons rose for the summer holiday.  The loyal forces of this Conservative government spent a lot of time in Question Period patting themselves on the back for passing omnibus bills like the budget one which does away with many, many environmental safeguards. 

In the transcripts of the Commons proceedings  it is customary to convey the burble of dissent coming from members with "Shame, Shame."  And shame is certainly what I and a lot of Canadians are feeling now.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Beach Boys, Laurie and LIfe

The Beach Boys are on tour--in Toronto Tuesday and Montreal last night with many, many more dates to come. I caught a rather sappy interview with them on Jian Gomeshi yesterday, but I was, as always, swept away by their very dated, but nevertheless engaging songs.  Having been a California girl myself, I feel a particular attachment to their song by that name.

So did my sister, Laurie, who died not quite 10 years ago:  she collapsed a week after her 56th birthday on July 26, 2002.   When it came time to plan a memorial the "California Girl" was the first piece of music we decided on, because she was such a fan and it could have been written as a tribute to her.

I miss her greatly still, as do many others. So here is a version from some time in the 1960s:  I'd like to think of her singing along some place cool...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

More from the Mommy Wars: Diane Johnson Reviews Books about Motherhood

               

The review of four books on motherhood in  the latest New York Review of Books by Diane Johnson,  are worth reading even if you aren't a mother, and never expect to be.  Chief among the books is one by French writer and philosopher Élisabeth Badinter, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women.    Her particular bugaboo appears to be breast-feeding: she all but calls it a form of slavery.

It has always seemed to me that, on the contrary, breast-feeding is the lazy woman's way because you don't have to do anything but uncover yourself and your child can feed.  Among the women I know, the high strung, Type A ones have more trouble than those who are a little sloppy and go-with-the flow. 

But as with so many other things in this life, economic considerations are behind many of the positions we take.  Johnson comments:  "Because of (Badinter's)  reputation for integrity, she has been mostly spared accusations of conflict of interest for defending infant formula and disposable diapers, while being the principal shareholder in the advertising agency handling the accounts of Nestlé and Procter and Gamble (the makers of Pampers)."

Yes, indeed.  He (or she) who pays the piper call the tune.

BTW,  Johnson mentions the support given to working mothers in France and elsewhere as being much better than what exists in the US.  If women want to fulfill their potential much better child care must be available, so that women can choose to work and have kids, too.


The other three books are also interesting:  They are;                                            

Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species

by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy)                                                

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

by Pamela Druckerman                                             

Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood

by Anne Enright

This is an extremely important point.  

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Further to Bee Balm: Swarming Bees in New York City

There has been such bad news about bees for the last several years that this morning's New York Time story about swarming bees has to be rated as good news. 

Seems that the beasties are leaving their hives to colonize elsewhere in greater numbers than seen for a long time.  Authorities suggest a warm spring have produced very favourable conditions for bee populations. Furthermore, there appears to have been considerably less winter kill in the US than there has been in recent years. 

Losses have run as high as 36 per cent in 2007-2008, but in 2001-2012 "total losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes were 21.9 percent nationwide" according  the annual survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Bee Informed Partnership and the Apiary Inspectors of America.

The bees are still buzzing around the bee balm in our front yard, and I noticed that despite cool, wet weather just when our two pear trees were in blossom that the trees are covered with small fruit already.  That would suggest that bees are doing reasonably well here.

Anybody have more information?

July 4:   a correction is necessary.  The yellow flowers that I am so fond of isn't bee balm, but yellow loosestrife, I've discovered.  Mea culpa!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Leger Marketing-Le Devoir Gives Tom Mulcair Big Lead over Rivals

Today's big news is a new poll by a major polling firm here which shows Tom Mulcair and the NDP consolidating their position in the hearts (and voting intentions) of Quebeckers.  It's great news and a good reason to come to the barbecue being organized by NDP Outremont on the Monday of the long Fête nationale weekend. You'll get a chance to congratulate Tom in person as well as celebrate a peculiarly Quebec holiday.

When: Monday, June 25, 2012 from 4 to 7 p.m.
Where: Mount Royal Park near Beaver Lake
Organization: The Outremont Riding Association will provide meat, bread and Quebec strawberries.  Please bring drinks, salads and desserts to share with your friends. 

Come with friends and family!  And wear orange!!
(The barbecue will be free, but donations will be happily accepted).
Will be cancelled for heavy rain or thunderstorm.

Canada Is the Best Country to Be a Woman? Well, Sure a Lot Better than the US

For some time I've been meaning to write about what difficult choices young women and their families must make in the US.  We've had had visitors recently who've told us what little guaranteed maternity leave there is (three months without pay is considered good, and forget about fathers getting any leave.) Child care costs are also so high that I'd hate to be a young coiuple trying to decide if having kids is a viable economic option.

Our visitors have been surprised to learn that maternity and parental leave is now part of the employment insurance program in Canada.  Figuring out how much a parent is eligible for can take some calculations, but basically 35 weeks at 55 per cent of what you were making is the minimum.  In Quebec, once you go back to work, you can also get a tax credit for your child care expenses, and are eligible for $7 a day daycare.  The latter is in relatively short supply--Jeanne's parents just learned that she will have a place  around the time she turns two, although she was registered when she was born--but the program makes it much easier for women to stay in the labour market.

So the recent survey of G20 countries which puts Canada at the top of the list of
"Best Countries for Women" comes as no surprise to me.  Child care, health care, a decent legal framework: all of these count in the continuing struggle to allow women to reach their potential.  The benefits for society as a whole are immense, too, beginning with a safety net for children who have much better chances of leading healthy, happy lives than before the programs were started.

This is not to say that all is well here.  But certainly it's a lot better than it is in, say, the country that ranks 6.  That just happens to be our neighbor to the South.

The New York Times story on the survey says: “On most of the health indicators, whether it’s maternal mortality, child mortality or life expectancy, the U.S. does much worse than you would expect,” said Patrick Watt, global campaign and advocacy director for Save the Children. “The U.S. spends a lot on health as a percentage of G.D.P. but is very inefficient in translating that into health gains.”

It adds: "the lifetime risk of a woman in the United States to die from a pregnancy-related or birth-related cause stands at 1 in 2,100. Only three other countries categorized as “more developed nations” by Save the Children, rank lower: Albania, Moldova and Russia."


Saturday, 16 June 2012

Saturday Photo: Balm for Bees, and the Eyes

This was taken a few days ago, when the bee balm was just beginning to bloom.  Now a wide swath of the little front garden is full of yellow flowers spikes, and I've happy to report that the bees are enjoying the blossoms.

Colony Collapse Disorder--the name now given to the mysterious malady that has been striking honey bees for the last 15 years--has recently been linked to a very common pesticide, imidacloprid.  I fon't know if the fact that our front yard has been been chemical-free for at least two decades has influenced its popularity as a hangout with those fascinating insects.  I would like to think, though, that my lazy-person's gardening techniques have contributed to the health of the bees in this neck of the woods.

July 4 update: seems the flowers aren't bee balm at all (although the bees love them) but yellow loosestrife.  Sorry about that. 

Friday, 15 June 2012

Community Garden Continues


Lovely early summer/late spring weather this week, which makes being outside a real delight.  Among the places I've walked recently is the little community garden near the railroad tracks in Outremont which was threatened by a new development in the old railroad switiching yards.

I'm glad to say that the garden continues.  The final plan for the area has not been determined, but until that is done it seems the axe won't fall on this little gem of a garden.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

My On-Going Adventures with Portuguese

The morning show I listen to has a segment most days between 5:30-5:45 from cities around the world in which a popular song of the moment is played for a little ambience.

 I woke up today to a report from Lisbon about Portuguese financial woes and soccer hopes, which ended with a song which apparently is an old one that is being played frequently these days, despite its age: Eu gosto dessa mulher.

 The lyrics appeared simple, although as usual I could make out only a couple of words. But I liked the lilt and went looking for it this afternoon, both to research the words, and to explore why the song is being play now.

 Couldn't come up a reason for its alleged current poularity but I did find three amazingly different renditions. The first is by a band from the engineering faculty at the Universidad de Porto, the second is by a hot Brazilian singer, and the third was filmed during a reunion of men who were in the military during the Carnation Revoluiton of 1974.

 The lyrics say basically "I want that woman, whether she's skinny or fat, tall or short...." There probably are a few double-entendres mixed in, but whatever, all day I've been smiling about all the men and their various passions. One of the nice things about being a woman of more-than-a-certain age is that it gives you licence to think that's cute...

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Chamber Music: An Idea Whose Time Has Come...Again

Le Devoir has a story today about bringing music to private gatherings.  A young musician named Brigitte Saint-Aubin has begun a web site Show de Salon with the aim of hooking up people who'd like to provide music for their friends with musicians open to giving small house concerts.

This, of course, was the idea behind chamber music originally: music played in a drawing room, not in a concert hall.  The rise of large ensembles pushed that to the side, so that most music in the 20th century was made in public places.

But the economics of music have changed considerably in recent years.  Fewer and fewer places are open to concerts, and it's tougher and tougher for musicians to make a living.  That's why an increasing number of them are offering to bring the music to homes and other small gatherings.

Elin and her friends have been doing this in a serious way for the last couple of years, giving concerts in swanky lofts and toney beauty salons as well as small public halls.  (Here's a link to one of the groups, La Cigale led by theorbist Madeleine Own.) Guitar maker Michael Greenfield also runs a series of guitar concerts in his fascinating workshop.  It's another example of everything that goes around, coming around, yet again.

The photo, by the way, is of the viola da gamba that Elin had made a few years ago.  A good mascot for musicians...

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

New Report on What We Need: Green Invest, Not Oil Sands

Very interesting report out of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives today. This is the kind of cage-rattling that the Harper government wants to stop. 

According to their press release: "Accelerated oil and gas extraction will boost profits but won't drive major employment gains, says a report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). Instead, embracing a "green industrial revolution" will allow Canada to meet its climate change commitments while boosting a lacklustre economy.
The report, by CCPA Senior Economist Marc Lee and researcher Amanda Card, finds that less than 1% of Canadian workers are employed in fossil fuel extraction and production in Canada (oil, natural gas and coal).

"But these jobs come at a high price in environmental and climate terms—accounting for 27% of Canadian greenhouse gas emissions. Figures do not include the fuel content of exports, which would show these industries to be much dirtier."

Please note that the CCPA, like the right-wing Fraser Institute, has tax-free charitable status.  Which one do you bet will be the first to have that status challenged?

Desire Lines: Walking through the World, One Step at a Time

I've been working on the short story collection for which I've had a grant this year, called Desire Lines: A Geography of Love.  I think I've got a suite of 10 stories about the various aspects of love, between friends, lovers, parents, and children.  They're still in a rough state, but it's time to thank the Conseil des arts et lettres du Québec for their encouragement.  In a couple of weeks, I'll write up my report and send it off with much appreciation.

But this morning I went walking throught the vacant land near the railroad tracks that got me thinking.  Desire lines are what urban planners call the paths that people make on their own when they want to get to a place.  They don't follow straight lines usually, and certainly they are not consciously thought out.  But they record where people pass, and give a hint about what their aims are.

This picture was taken of the field a little later in the season two years ago, but I'm happy to report that the feet of many people have kept the paths open, as individual desires continue to change the urban landscape.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Save Monday June 25th for a Big Party on Mount Royal

Quebec's biggest celebration is coming up two weeks from now, the Fête natonale.  The official day is June 24, but since that's a Sunday this year, Monday also is a holiday.

And that's why NPD Outremont is organizing a big barbecue/fête champêtre on Mount Royal for the afternoon of Monday, June 25.  The holiday is always a good time for a party, but this year we have an even bigger reason: it will be a chance to congratulate our MP and the new NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.  He'll be on hand from 5 p.m. but the barbecue will be ready for 4 p.m. 

Everyone is invited.  There will be beef, chicken and tofu kabobs, pita and tzasiki sauce, and Quebec strawberries which should be at their peak.  Please bring drinks and salads to share with your friends.  Cost: the barbecue is free, but your donatioins will be happily accepted.

And wear orange!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Saturday Photo: Early Morning Reflections

Morning is a good time for reflecting on  things, and for years I have used a morning walk for doing just that.

But Friday I took my camera along to go one step further, and reflect on physical reflection.  I found these lovely ones  in the pond in Parc St. Viateur.  It is one of two parks made about 90 years ago from the watercourse which once ran down the northern side of Mount Royal and spread out into swamps that no one wanted to build on. 



Converting waste land into parks is something that developers frequently, with mixed results. But here the parks have become lovely havens for city dwellers.

The pavillion in the middle of the pond is used as a warming house in the winter when the frozen pond becomes a a skating rink.  The other building is a highschool built by the Clercs de St-Viateur in the early 1960s.

Friday, 8 June 2012

The Importance of Singing about Good Things: The Sunny Side of the Street

Been thinking about the importance of optimism in the various fights we have in front of us. Feeling somewhat inundated by bad news worldwide, I decided I'd trying singing some sunny songs when I was out walking the other morning.

This song came to my mind immediately. It was on one of the first 33 1/3 records my parents bought, and I loved it. It comes out of bad times--written during the Great Depression, a hit during WWII--and it was a greata spirit-raiser. Try singing it these days when the headlines and the Twitter feed gets you down.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Walkability Pays

Want to make a real estate investment?  Don't build standard suburbs but invest in walkable, bikeable neighborhoods. 

This should not be news to anyone, but Christopher Leindorfer once again points to mounting evidence that what is selling now is convenient neighborhoods with good public transport and walk- and/or bike-ability. 

" In metropolitan Seattle in 1996, the suburban Redmond area, home to Microsoft, had the same price per square foot as Capitol Hill, a walkable area adjacent to downtown,... Today, Capitol Hill is valued nearly 50 percent above Redmond," he writes.  He has several other examples, too.

Canadian cities are steps ahead of those in the US when it comes to recognizing the importance of convenient, non-private car transport.  It's no surprise that Jane Jacobs found Toronto so congenial when she left New York in the late 1960s because it is so friendly to active transportation.   Montreal, built on a denser street layout for the most part, is even more walker-friendly.

This means that we would get a pretty penny for our house in an extremely walkable neighborhood.  That, in turn,  means the  increase in assessed valuation that we just learned about would be hard to contest: the prices are going through the roof, and the evaluation is based on "market value."  I guess we had the right idea, decades ago when we bought the place for not that much at all.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

What I Feel about the Jubilee: A Message from Kew

Among  the most lovely gardens in the world are the Royal Gardens at Kew in London.  To rsearch it for my book Recreating Eden: A Natural History of Botanical Gardens I spent some delightful hours wondering around it, and then exploring its worldwide influence in other gardens and scientific institutions.

The garden itself was begun by Royals on Royal land more than two centuries ago.  This picture was taken during my visit several years ago near Queen Charlotte's Cottage.  She was, you'll remember, the much beloved spouse of George III.  He was, you'll also remember, the king when the 13 colonies broke away from Britain, and for whom I was raised to have a visceral dislike. 

While many of my political ideas have changed since my Southern California childhood, a deep distrust of monarchy persists. The current hoopla about Elizabeth's 60 years as queen leaves me cold at best and angry over the waste of money at worst.  That's why I think so highly of the two birds you see on the right side of the photo: they're Canada geese who have invaded the gardens and who do what Canada geese do everywhere, poop in the grass.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

More Fuel for the Expanionist Movement, Another Reason to Support the Red Squares

The NewYork Times editorializes about the scary future awaiting today's college graduates.  Five classes have left the ivy-covered whatever since the beginning of the Great Recession, and their jobless rate--8.5 per cent--is very high compared to what it was in the past.  What is more actual wages earned by young college graduates have dropped by 4 per cent a year over the period.

In the Canadian context, "college" translates into "university" and, while unemployment  figures aren't as bad, they're nothing to be pleased about.  Add to that the need to pay down debt taken on while getting that precious diploma, and you've got a situation in both countries where even educated young people are going to have to paddle very hard to keep their heads above water.

The debt situation isn't as bad in Canada as it is in the US, which is all the more reason to support a hard look at tuition fees all across the country in order to avoid the debt-laden, under-employed generation now reaching adulthood in the US.

What we need, of course, is an end to economic austerity all over the world--see Paul Krugman yesterday for another statement of the problem and its solution--as well as recognition that, yes, we're all in this together and the future depends on decisions we make as societies.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Back But Still against C-38 and Loi 78

Back today, but that doesn't mean the fight against these bad pieces of legislation is over....

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Saturday Photo: Peonies Awaiting Ravishment by Rain

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Along with inundated streets and flooded tunnels this week, heavy intense rain had its way with peonies which are just now coming into bloom. Their top-heavy flowers can't stand up to a torrent, and many a lucious flower now lies ravished on the grass, beaten down by the violence of a storm.

 These peonies so far have held up well, perhaps because they've got a little wire fence around them for support. Makes me think of the stays that women wore a century or more ago in part to keep them upright when faced by paassionate emotion.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Jean Charest Doesn't Care Much about Montreal, It Seems

Just had an interesting conversation with a local  muncipal politician (opposition party, natch)  about the way the provincial government walked out of talks with student groups over the tuition hike controversy and related brouhaha.

Jean Charest, the Liberal premier, just sacrificed Montreal, he says, adding that Gérald Tremblay, the current mayor and former Liberal cabinet minister, is letting Charest get away with it without saying boo.  The conflict will continue, the summer tourist season will be the pits, but Charest doesn't care because his actions will play well in rural Quebec where Liberal votes needs propping up.

I've been expecting from the beginning that Charest will call an election on the issue.  To be continued....