Friday, August 17, 2012

Quilts of Valour

These are three quilts that my friend Janet and I worked on for the Quilts of Valour.  These quilts will go to Canadian military who were wounded in action.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Tale of Two Butterflies

Last week my neighbour, Dorothy, gave me two pupae of Monarch butterflies to look after.  We sat at her place and watched a caterpillar turn into a chrysalis and then I took home these two that had already "matured".  She has been collecting eggs and releasing butterflies from her screen topped aquarium for almost 40 years, much to the delight of many generations of children, grandchildren and school students.  And for me, at age 64, this was my first experience of the process!

A Monarch butterfly lays her eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves, usually one per plant.  These tiny eggs become caterpillars which start munching on the leaves (and any other eggs that might be there) and live for about 2 weeks.  It leaves the milkweed plant and finds the underside  of a twig or even a window ledge attaching itself with a ribbon of silk.  When it assumes the "J" shape it is time to shed it's skin and become a pupa.  Over the next 10 or 12 days it will turn into a butterfly which will then emerge on a bright morning.  Just before this happens the pupa turns darker until it is black, and then becomes transparent.  These monarchs will migrate to Mexico, a trip of 4000km and may take up to 8 months to get there.  Monarchs born earlier in the summer have a life span of one month or so, but in the fall it is much longer.  It may take as many as 4 generations of monarchs to make it back here.

I hope you enjoy the pictures that follow.

It was very sad to have the process over but such a delight to see them fly away.


On May 25th, 2012 we took the train to Shawinigan for the day.  It was part of the McGill Community for Lifelong Learning seminar on trains of Northeastern Quebec.  It was a pleasant 2 1/2 hour train ride north through Montreal and then along the north shore of the St Lawrence, past lots of forests and farms.  The Cité de l'electricité staff met us with this streetcar and took us to their information island for a very nice box lunch. 

We were given a brief history of the city.  It was founded and planned well before the people arrived with the idea that the falls were a great source of electricity for pulp and paper industries and also chemical and textile.  For half a century it was a boom town with a hiccup during the depression.  Companies then found better situated places to operate with new technologies and the city began to decline.  One of the major employers now is the Canadian Tax Revenue department.

We  went to the main Hydro property and were toured around this old building from the early 1900's which had been used as the hydro plant at the time.  Inside we looked at lots of old machinery and walked through the defunct penstocks.  

We had a couple of science lessons that were very well done.  This one explains how a mag lev works, and since Rob had made a point of travelling on the one in Shanghai, it made a lot more sense to me to see the example.  We also had a quick lesson on aluminium smelting.

Ruins!  Leftover from the days that penstocks roamed the area.