I imagine this day in our local weather is something meteorologists must love. When they stand around the water cooler at work the conversation would really be about the weather.
“Did you see the size of that low pressure system! I haven’t seen anything like that since 2006. “
“How about that forecast of the micro-burst? Was I accurate or what!”
“I knew that storm would track south of the lake and I predicted the rain would fall around six. And what time did it start to fall? Six!”
“Plough wind, southeast Saskatchewan. Need I say more?”
There’d be little chat about politics or television or movies or families. It would be all about the weather. Today the water cooler chat in Ottawa must be very lively. Since the day has dawned today we have had one advisory after the other. Sometimes we have had two advisories at once. First there was the humidex advisory. The temperature plus humidity was forecast to reach +41C. Within an hour or so there was an advisory about the UV rating. It was very high today (first time we’ve had this warning this year). Then came the severe thunderstorm watch which turned into a warning and to cap it off we are now under a tornado watch.
On Monday morning there will be lots to talk about at work around the meteorologists’ water cooler in Ottawa.
I wish they would also issue tomato plant advisories. The six plants I have in the backyard have gone from vertical to horizontal.
During our recent trip to the Berkshires in Massachusetts we returned to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams, MA. The gallery space is amazing and the art is, well, modern. It is my favourite contemporary art gallery (and that includes visits to modern art galleries in New York City and London, England)
The work of Chinese artist Xu Bing is on display until later this year in a number of the galleries in MASS MoCA. Xu Bing is one of the most important Chinese contemporary artist working today. According to the gallery brochure “All of the works on view part of a series or are part of long-term projects that are still unfolding.”
If you go, Phoenixis the installation you must see. From the MASS MoCA website “The installation features two monumental birds fabricated entirely from materials harvested from construction sites in urban China, including demolition debris, steel beams, tools, and remnants of the daily lives of migrant laborers. At once fierce and strangely beautiful, the mythic Phoenixes bear witness to the complex interconnection between labor, history, commercial development, and the rapid accumulation of wealth in today’s China.” The work was originally commissioned by a real estate developer in China. The work proved controversial, the funding was cut and other sources of support had to be secured.
Each Phoenix is nearly 100 feet long and the two of them weigh over 20 tons.
Phoenix was scheduled to take four months to complete. Due to several factors including the Beijing Olympics, the global financial crisis and the rejection by the real estate developers who commissioned the work, Phoenix took two years to complete. The Artis Talk video inside the the MASS MoCA link above gives you a sense of the artist along with an explanation of his art.
The Phoenix is something to behold. Trash from the construction site, workers shovels, construction hats and empty canisters and so many other remnants form two beautiful birds. They are internally lit with LED lights.
Single photos do small justice to the exhibit. Phoenix and MASS Moca are both something to be seen. If you have occasion to be anywhere close to North Adams MA, USA, a visit to MASS MoCA will not disappoint.
I used to be more trusting of the way things worked. If a product was available for sale, then surely it met standards and was safe. Then I got older and wiser and learned of stories where the system didn’t catch things. I worked at an agency whose work was health technology assessment where I learned to be circumspect about drugs and devices even though they were approved for sale in Canada. While it’s easy enough to think someone must be looking after it all, it’s also true that more information comes out after a product comes to market about its true benefits in the real world and unfortunately some times about harms that weren’t first identified. Now I do some research before purchase and use. Except for the other day and the purchase of an insect repellent. And it’s laughable, really.
I was thinking that all this DEET can’t be good for you and thought I’d try for a less toxic insect repellent. I found something called Repel ” Natural Insect Repellent”, DEET-Free. I was in the USA and didn’t have access to the internet so I read the label-it contained Geraniol “a natural active ingredient, effective against mosquitoes for up to 2 hours”. Geraniol sounds like geranium and perhaps that the source, I thought.
When back home I looked up research on the product I found that it is supposed to have some repellent effect. However there’s another feature of the repellent. It attracts bees. Really? Now that’s not on the label. It’s humorous, don’t you think that you might not be swatting mosquitoes but you may rival the local roses for the attention of local bees.
I was thinking this might be a good repellent to use in the garden if it kept garden pests away and attracted bees.
If you see someone who is not bothered by mosquitoes but is running from bees, it’ll be me.
Have you ever come across products where you wonder how it came to market when its benefits are sometimes at cross purposes?
We just returned from a week in the Berkshire Mountains, Massachusetts. There has been a lot of rain in the area but it didn’t rain every day, all day and that was a good thing. It’s a pretty area and there is plenty to see and do.
A Prairie Home Companion-Tanglewood 2013
Our week ended by attending (for the second year in a row), the live radio broadcast of a Prairie Home Companion (PHC) at Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass. It’s the 40th on air anniversary of PHC and the host Garrison Keillor and his weekly show are well-known. Well, that might be a stretch. Let’s say they are well-known within the National Public Radio (NPR) followers and people who like music, humour, stories and a host who is a singer, humorist, author and an observer of life. I wish we’d started attending this concert years ago and would like to attend for years to come. While I am wishing, why not include staying longer and taking in more summer concerts at the summer home of the Boston Symphony. The performances cover a broad range of tastes. This year the Barenaked Ladies and Vince Gill are examples of artists who will be at Tanglewood.
It’s quite a spectacle. Thousands of people stream onto the lawn around the Koussevitzky Music Shed up to two hours before the PHC performance. They bring picnic lunches, fancy set-ups with tables and chairs and linens, wine glasses, candelabras, flags and flowers arranged in vases. Many of the attendees have purchased lawn tickets and they sit outside as the sun sets and the show goes on. The encores are legendary. I heard one attendant tell someone the encores may last 1.5 to 3 hours! The audience joins in, singing along until either they or the performers finally give in to the advancing hour.
Cricket Creek Farm, Stephentown, Mass.
Cricket Creek “working” farm
We visited Cricket Creek Farm, where you can buy raw milk and milk products (legally available in Mass) where their beef are completely grass-fed, and the pigs feed on grass and whey and veggie compost – no grain. Blog edit update: thank you to Topher from Cricket Creek Farm who kindly corrected my original blog on what the animals are fed. You can buy sausage, free range eggs and chickens (you can see them ranging freely), fresh-baked goods and more. You are welcome to explore the farm and advised to stay clear of working machinery and the various animal plops found on a farm.
The farm has an honour store. All the products are at hand. You find what you want, addup the total on the calculator, put your money in the box making change as necessary and away you go. We bought some butter (ingredients: cream), locally made blueberry spread, soap and raw cheese. While we didn’t really check we thought it unlikely you could bring raw milk products back into Canada, so we brought them back on the inside (Of us, not the car. We ate them.). It would be great if there was an enterprise like this closer to where we lived. We should investigate.
I was raised on a farm in Saskatchewan and our neighbours provided our milk and thick cream (unpasteurized) and in turn our mother gave them eggs. From the milk Mom made butter, buttermilk and cottage cheese. It’s been decades since I have tasted homemade butter. On our trip we were listening to the book “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan. It makes you think about what you eat, where it’s been raised and what happens to our food as it makes it way from producer to consumer. And it’s not all that pretty, nor comforting.
Have you eaten raw milk and raw milk products? Would you, if you had access to them?
Have you been to the Berkshires and if so, what did you see and do?