Sunday, October 29, 2023

The bear's on the phone!

Lake Minnewanka from the C-Level Cirque trail
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

I went up to Banff with my daughter and her family last year. She and I limited our hiking to the Bow Falls and the hot springs near the base of Sulphur Mountain, but her husband and one of their sons completed the rather more challenging C-Level Cirque trail. This 9.3-km out-and-back trail takes an average of 4 h 18 min to complete.

They were warned that there were bears in the area – but their only bear encounter was on their phone, which showed a motion-activated video feed from their cabin near Calgary.  They sent us this still from the video.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Editing my Graphic Novel – this whole page just got cut

MONDAY 12 AUGUST: By late morning, they have gathered up their remaining lawn signs, and fanned out around town.  Some have departed in cars for other parts of the constituency. Dan has just knocked on a door and been greeted by the resident St. Bernard.


Down Heidi, down, girl.  She’s just being friendly. Didn’t like the other candidates at all. Of course we’ll take a lawn sign!

This part of 'By-election in Exceptional Pass' was based on a real life experience I had back in the 1970s before fund raisers had the internet with which to bother people.  I had volunteered to go door-to-door asking for donations for Arthritis Research.  As I recall, all but two of the houses in the neighborhood I was assigned had dogs whose job it was to answer the door.  And at least half of these dogs were named Heidi.  My eldest daughter is named Heidi.  The conversations that followed my opening comments about this remarkable coincidence resulted in an amazing amount of money being handed to me for Arthritis Research. 

Because this page didn't really contribute anything to the storyline, when I decided to shorten the book by one page (in order to keep the last page free for publication info, barcode etc.) out it came.  This also eliminated the problem of giving away the ending by having it on the outside back cover!


Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Ancient Carbon-Neutral Engineering in Yazd

Neighbourhood in Old Yazd
Watercolour and crayon
©2017 Charlene Brown

According to Wikipedia, windtowers, or windcatchers, are traditional Persian architectural elements providing natural ventilation by catching the wind from any direction and directing it down into the building. Windcatchers can be found in traditional Persian-influenced architecture throughout the Middle East, including the Gulf Arab states, especially Dubai.  That is where I first saw them.

According to the World Bank, Dubai is one of the largest consumers of energy per capita in the world and in the summer months an estimated two thirds of that is used for air conditioning. There has been some hopeful theorizing that the windtower concept could be integrated into new buildings there and this might make a meaningful reduction in their “AC addiction.”

The Carbon Almanac was published in July of 2022.  Several hundred of us worked on this project (you’ll find me at the beginning of the eleventh row at Meet the people behind the Carbon Almanac.) 

Since the publication of the Carbon Almanac, I have received updates about the on-going world-wide campaign to avoid climate disaster by reducing carbon emissions in every way possible. The October 12 Carbon Almanac update quoted a story from the BBC program, Future Planet: The Ancient Persian way to keep cool, “From ancient Egypt to the Persian Empire, an ingenious method of catching the breeze kept people cool for millennia. In the search for emissions-free cooling, the "wind catcher" could once again come to our aid.”

The Future Planet story used the Iranian city of Yazd, as I did in the above story, excerpted from a blog post I wrote in June 2017 following a trip to Iran with the art travel program of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Almost as old as ─ and much more elaborate than ─ Petra

The Ajanta Caves are located about 350 kilometers NE of Mumbai in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The first phase of these partly rock-cut, partly built and sculpted caves was begun in the 2nd century BCE, about two hundred years after the similarly constructed ‘city’ of Petra in Jordan.  The second phase of Ajanta, filled with wall murals that are masterpieces of ancient Buddhist art, was completed about seven hundred years later, in the late 5th century CE.

The best time to visit is during the relatively cool period between October and March, although the lush green surroundings and waterfalls inside and outside the caves are wonderful to see during the June to September monsoon season.  Or so I’m told.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Creative Archaeology: Time Traveling back to 3200 BCE

Ħaġar Qim
Watercolour and crayon
©2023 Charlene Brown

I plan to organize the chapters in the series ‘Time Travel with a bag of crayons’ in chronological order, so Ħaġar Qim, which dates from 3200 BCE, may be the first archaeological site in the book. Ħaġar Qim, meaning ‘standing stones’ is a megalithic temple complex located on a plateau near the south coast of Malta.

(Full disclosure) The tiny island of Filfla, seen off the coast, doesn’t line up with the ‘trefoil’ arrangement of the elongated oval chambers of the temple quite as picturesquely I’ve shown it. And the stone frieze of domestic animals anchoring the base of the painting was actually sketched in the Tarxien temple complex, about 10 km northeast of Ħaġar Qim, when my sister and I were there in 1999.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

National Day of Truth and Reconciliation


Yesterday, September 30, was Canada’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. The day honours the Survivors of residential schools and the children who never returned home as well as their families and communities.

It is sometimes called Orange Shirt Day, inspired by the story of a child whose personal clothing, including a new orange shirt, was taken from her during her first day at a residential school, and never given back.

I didn’t attend the ceremonies yesterday, so have instead posted this painting of the National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations at Royal Roads University last June 21. The day’s schedule of events included a, welcome ceremony on the shore of the Esquimalt Lagoon, Lekwungen traditional dancing and singing, traditional canoe landing protocol led by a Songhees Nation Elder, walking tour of traditional ceremonial and healing plants along Colwood Creek with Elders from the Cowichan and Tsawout Nations.