Saturday, November 30, 2013

How the Light gets in -- will Inspector Gamache find a way to make that happen?

Cover Image from Louise Penny website

During this wonderful series of mysteries, author Louise Penny has moved the main players forward, forming them into deep and memorable characters.

Each novel has its own murder mystery, and the threads keep coming back to the tiny village of Three Pines, near Montreal. Now there's more.

This ninth novel in the series refines the already well-drawn characters further, as they slog through issues that continue to plague them from one book to the next.

But Penny has upped the ante plot-wise too, parlaying the mystery genre into a mystery/thriller with incredibly high stakes. His wife is out of town, and most of his old allies  have fallen away, but Chief Inspector Armand Gamache continues to pursue the chimera of some terrible and longstanding corruption in high places.

I'm listening to the CD series in the car, so I look forward to my next drive, even my next commute. On returning home, I find it hard to tear myself away from the story and get out of the car. Good thing the winter weather here is not as cold as it is in Quebec.

There's only one thing that worries me. What if this book is the last of the series? I've come to love Gamache and Reine Marie, Beauvoir and Lacoste, Clara and Myna and Olivier and Gabri. I sure hope this isn't the last of them, but if it is, I have a back-up plan. I'll go through the stories again in the form of the TV movies.

Louise Penny is a wonderful writer who balances her dark plots with the integrity, humanity and humour of her protagonists. She even has advice and encouragement for aspiring writers.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Three Souls by Janie Chang

Cover image from HarperCollins

In the summer, I was out of town and missed the launch of the historical novel Three Souls (HarperCollins 2013) by Vancouver author Janie Chang.

When the story opens in the small Chinese city of Pingyu in 1935, Leiyin is dead. For reasons she can't understand, she's been detained between realms. Though this world remains visible, she cannot participate in it.

Her companions in exile are her yin soul (romantic), her yang soul (disapproving), and her hun soul (philosophical and far-seeing).

Leiyin looks back on her life and tries to understand why the afterlife is closed to her. For rebelling against her father's dictums, she was punished by being married off to a simple man from a small town. This crushed her hopes of both a university education and the love of the revolutioinary poet Hanchin, a communist she met at a political lecture her father had forbidden her to attend.

She is deeply unhappy about being married off, but over time, she comes to accept her situation and find joy in the family she does have, rather than the romantic love she dreamed of with Hanchin. But when he comes back into her life as a political fugitive, she is tempted into rash actions, then crushed by disillusionment when she learns she's been used. 

Amid the political turmoil of pre-revolutionary China, Leiyin's impulsive passions have put her loved ones at risk, and she must find a way to remedy this. Before she can leave the shadow world, she must look deep into her own heart and find forgiveness, generosity and redemption.

Meanwhile, between worlds with her three souls, Leiyin discovers that she can communicate with those who remain in the world she's had to leave behind. Difficult and frustrating though this is, she must find a way to complete her unfinished tasks.

Loosely based on family stories the author heard many times in childhood, this book is a great read. I couldn't put it down, and neither could friends who read it. Way to go, Janie!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

All the Colours of Darkness by Peter Robinson

Cover Image from Peter Robinson's official website

In Number 18 of the Inspector Banks series, Peter Robinson begins with a murder-suicide between two class-crossing gay men, and slowly begins to weave in suggestions that this case is tied in with the past of one of the men, Lawrence Silbert, who used to work for MI6.

Narrated by Simon Prebble, this story projects a dark atmosphere on the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales, and brings Inspector Banks ever closer to dangerous information he can reveal neither to his current lady friend, nor his trusted fellow officer, Detective Inspector Annie Cabbott.

In a break from the usual heavy plot line, Annie's colleague DI Winsome Jackman shares a few good scenes with Annie and gets the best of some petty criminals. Of course, she gets chewed out later by Chief Superintendent Gervase for risking her neck.

Meanwhile, when Chief Superintendent Gervase seems too willing to bow to pressure from the Chief Constable to close the case, Banks is suspicious he suspects that her boss is in thrall to political higher-ups. Naturally Gervase doesn't want this dangerous idea bandied about.

Constitutionally unable to accept gag orders or simple solutions, Banks continues to pursue the truth, even when doing so comes at great professional and personal cost. He also continues to resort to alcohol to help him cope with the dangerous and unshareable information that comes into his hands.

Silbert and Hardcastle are dead, but Banks pursues his "Othello theory," pressing a suspect for more information about exactly how the deaths happened. Then just as things seem to be looking up, more tragedy hits from a totally unexpected direction.

It's another fast moving thriller from master of suspense Peter Robsinson. And with a new twist: when this one is over, the reader gets the feeling it's not really over. Along with Inspector Alan Banks, we await further developments.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Stranger in the Family by Robert Barnard

Book cover image from Amazon

Robert Barnard was an award-winning novelist well-known for his skill at plot-twisting "cosy" mysteries. A graduate of Balliol, he lived in Australia and Norway, published forty books, some under a nom de plume. He died in Leeds in September, aged 76.

This tale revolves around the identity of an adopted protagonist who finds out from his mother on her deathbed that he's not who he thought he was.

Kit was adopted when he was three and grew up as an only child in a happy home. His father, a Glasgow newspaper editor, was one of the Jewish children rescued from Nazi Germany by Kindertransport just before the war. His mother was a professor of Art History. 

After his mother's deathbed revelation that he is adopted, Kit follows her instructions and discovers the name and address of his birth family in Leeds.

Kit winds up his mother's affairs, then takes a break from his studies at the University and leaves the family home he now owns in Glasgow to go to Leeds in search of his birth parents.

His mother's greeting is lukewarm, and Kit soon realizes she's keeping something from him.  One of his newly discovered brothers is downright hostile to him, and his birth father, a Leeds lawyer now divorced, out of touch with his family, and suffering from Alzheimer's, has an altogether darker history Kit could have dreamed. That shadow implicates Kit's mother as well.

As it happens, the respectable and loving home provided by Kit's adopted parents comes from people with connections to the Sicilian Mafia.

In short, this novel sets a few old ideas on their ear. Blood does not tell, nor is it thicker than water. The apple falls a very far from the tree and nurture overcomes nature in the child-rearing stakes.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A talented but half-forgotten mystery writer, Josephine Tey

Cover image from the Arrow edition, 2002, from dooyoo

Josephine Tey was a nom de plume for this writer, as was Gordon Daviot. Born in Scotland as Elizabeth Mackintosh, she died in 1950.  Her series detective was Alan Grant.

Protagonist Grant spends this very original novel lying in bed recovering from broken bones sustained in a fall through a trapdoor, presumably while on another case.

As Inspector Grant lies in the hospital, with only two very different but equally strict nurses and a few visitors for company, he begins to sink into boredom.

Neither the theatrical gossip of his actress friend Marta nor the new but sadly uninteresting books she brings engage his attention. It is only when she comes up with the idea of bringing along a few posters of faces for him to gaze at that Grant's mind clicks into gear.

Gazing at the portrait of Richard III and showing it to the few others who come to his room,  he becomes intrigued when the face is perceived by the various people to be that of a judge, a polio victim, and a man with an unhealthy liver. Nobody sees the classic villain of history.

Marta provides a second boon for Grant's recovery in the form of the "wooly lamb," a curly-haired American scholar called Brent, who is whiling away his time doing research at the British Museum while his girl friend acts in a West End play.

With Grant as theorist, and Brent as researcher, the two-man team uncovers what Grant dubs (after a similar Welsh propaganda exercise) a Tonypandy, a massive misrepresentation of history by historians. The team uncovers the incredible fictions that were cooked up to whitewash other nasty historical characters and make Richard III, quite inaccurately, into a hunchbacked villain.

As for the old story of Richard killing the princes in the tower, some good research into primary source documents (by ordinary people of the time with no axes to grind) proves he cannot possibly have done it.

Josephine Tey demonstrates a knowledge of U.K. history. Against the context of the Welsh Tonypandy affair, her detective learns of a similar Scottish incident: putative martyrdom that was no such thing. Yet the monument stands and the story keeps being passed down, even after it's been proven to be another case of a dramatic historical misrepresentation.

As well as being a good read, this book is an impressive display of deconstructing history, long before this activity and the attendant word deconstruction entered the lexicon through academe.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Unusual seasonal bouquets

Featuring amaryllis and peonies along with seasonal berries and salal, this dramatic bouquet graced the central table in the reception area for Christmas at Hycroft.

Seen at the same event, this graceful arrangement also featured cotton bolls, along with orchids and other exotic blooms.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Winter bliss: magazines, crosswords, mysteries, cocoa

At this time of year, a cup of cocoa is the right drink to accompany a crossword puzzle.

The same warming beverage is also a suitable accompaniment to a spell of magazine reading, or perhaps a mystery novel, like this one by the delightful Josephine Tey.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hycroft Christmas music, memories and food

From the time my daughter was young until she grew up and moved away from the immediate area, we attended UWCV's Hycroft Christmas event together every year.

Then, for a couple of years, I didn't go. Yesterday I went with a friend who's just back from abroad.

What a joy to watch those familiar  faces,  the Hycroft Singers, as they poured heart and soul into their carols, ending in a crescendo with their much-requested rendition of "On the Roof."

A new act, at least for me, was Jeffrey Victor, who sang the golden oldies from the thirties and forties -- the ones first made famous by the likes of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

Sporting an old style haircut and a bow tie, and with the able help of a pianist and his three accompanying Gingerbread Men, Victor crooned his way into the hearts of the crowd.

Today's entertainment includes acrobats, string ensembles and jazz and tomorrow, the final day, will feature some delightful children's choirs.

Another new touch for me: the library was decorated by Banyen Books this year. Also, I hadn't seen the latest version of the Bistro, now located on the deck beneath a very large tent. The food and apple cider were delicious.

Over in the carriage house, I paused before a counter with tiny frozen tourtiere canapes.

"You know it's a meat pie?" asked the presiding lady, a Quebec descendant.

"What's in it?" She listed the spices, and told me the meat was all pork. When she saw me hesitate, she pointed out the turkey version.

"It's done with all the traditional spices," she said. "My grandfather would be turning over in his grave to hear me say this, but I actually prefer the turkey one to the pork."

"I did try to find a taste of authentic tourtiere last time I was in Quebec," I told her. "But it was summer."

"Oh yes." She nodded emphatically. "It's a very seasonal food."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Faux banana business

On East Broadway, these banana fronds are drooping after two days of heavy frost.

But the bananas themselves look just fine.

The reason?

They're plastic.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Artist envisions sculpture in bog oak

Experimenting in a new art form, health and wellness professional coach Jackie A. Carter contemplates a piece of bog oak, sussing out what she will sculpt from it.

Bog oak is not a species of wood, but wood that has been altered over time by being buried in a peat bog. Ireland, a country with many bogs, is a good place to find bog oak used with artistry. Michael and Kevin Casey of County Longford display carvings in their studio.

Wood preserved in bogs is used furniture as well as artistic carving. In East Anglia, cabinet makers Adamson and Low describe how the wood is harvested and used.

What is in the wood that wants to be released by this carver? A woman, perhaps.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November blooms in Vancouver

On a cold clear November day, these potentilla plants in an East Vancouver garden were pushing out fresh flowers.

Below, a lone rose blooms against a background of laurel in front of an East Broadway apartment building.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Soaring architecture underlines James Hollis message

The soaring ceiling of St. Andrews Wesley church in downtown Vancouver is often used for concerts, readings and other cultural events.

Last weekend, it was the site of a talk by the well-known Jungian author James Hollis, who spoke to an audience assembled from members of the CG Jung Society of Vancouver as well as interested individuals like myself.

As he had when I first heard him on CBC twenty years ago, he raised an interesting question. At that time, he asked the question addressed in his book The Middle Passage (1993), "Who am I apart from my roles?"

This time, the topic was mature spirituality, and he invited us to ask ourselves what would bring us nearer to achieving what our souls demand of us.

It seemed to me a singularly suitable question for our time, and the church, its lovely architecture reminding us of vanished certitudes, seemed exactly the sort of place to address such a question.

More recent books by Hollis include Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, Why Good People do Bad Things, and his 2013 publication Hauntings: Dispelling the Ghosts Who Run our Lives. On Saturday at the Vancouver Museum, he gave a seminar on that topic.

Monday, November 18, 2013


 The process is beginning. In a few weeks, this Amaryllis hippeastrum should look like the one below.

Last Christmas I forced two of them in soil rather than the palm fibre that came with the Amaryllis forcing kit.

In the spring, they still had leaves, so I left them out in a sunny corner of the garden, sheltered on a south facing wall.

Every once in awhile, I gave them some water, but otherwise, I ignored them.

To my astonishment, in late summer, one came back into flower, producing a lavish array of pink blooms.

Of course they grow outdoors naturally in hot climates.

The illustration on the right, from the Royal Horticultural Society, shows the stages of development for potted amaryllis.

One secret to success is to leave the top one third of the bulb exposed.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Forcing bulbs

Photo: These bulbs developed roots and greenery within a week.

At this season, specially prepared bulbs (obtainable from any plant nursery) are ready for forcing.

Those who want fragrant narcissus or paperwhites blooming at home during the Christmas season are planting now.

It's simple. First, a layer of washed stones is placed in the bottom of a tall vase. Then the bulbs are positioned on top, fitted snugly together so they don't roll over on their sides as they begin to grow roots.

Water is added just to the bottom of the bulbs and they are place in the dark until plenty of white roots show at the bottom and the greenery begins to show on top.

Now they're ready to be brought into the light. In a few short weeks, this vase will be overflowing with fragrant white narcissus. Other bulbs that can be forced are hyacinths, which have an even more intense fragrance than the narcissi. They can be moved to the garden after blooming to add to next year's spring bulb show there. My front garden is loaded with early hyacinths planted out this way.

I have some blue hyacinths starting in the dark now, and have started a few crocuses as well. If all goes well, I'll have a succession of flowers into January.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Severe pant droop

Image from The Boston Globe

A recent article in the Boston Globe reports a TV ad campaign against falling-down pants.

Fashion trends can be hard to understand, and this one certainly is. I've often wondered how wearers ensure their pants won't fall down entirely. I've never seen any of these slaves of fashion hitch up his pants. Unless they do it surreptitiously.

On an escalator the other day, when I found myself behind a man with extreme trouser droop, I passed him on the left and moved on up. I didn't want to be there when his pants fell down. I had fears about watching him trip over them. In my nightmare vision, the man fell senseless on the deck and his fallen pants were then ingested by the escalator, bringing it to a grinding halt and causing more people to fall on top of the original victim.

Think it couldn't happen? According to the New York Times, there's already been a case of death by dropping pants. A gunman fleeing a murder scene tripped over his fallen pants and fell down a fire escape to his death.

Then again, maybe the more devious fashion slaves have a secret system to secure the pants in place. Believe it or not, a guy in Harlem developed a contraption like a garter belt that holds the pants up while making them look like they're about to fall. Amazing, isn't it?

In June, Wildwood, New Jersey banned saggy pants. In other jurisdictions, such laws have been struck down as unconstitutional. In Suite 101, Jeff Stanglin speaks against such laws in strong terms, terming them "fascistic."

Meanwhile, Justin Bieber follows the leaders and the followers blindly follow him.

If fans keep following him long enough, they might be rewarded with a pair of his pants -- to sell for a bundle or keep as a souvenir. That's because Justin looks to be in grave danger of walking right out of those pants.

Unless, of course, he's wearing a garter belt.

Which the simian posture suggests he's not.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nouns verbing

GPS image from

In contemporary English, nouns often become verbs.

Is GPS a verb yet?

If it is, here's the opening scene to my spy novel:

George GPSed his way slowly and deliberately toward the shabby apartment where he knew his opposite number, Oliver, had gone to ground.

To avoid being seen, he kept well back and used a zigzag route that would be hard to follow.

Then a sobering thought hit him. What if he was caught? The GPS itself would reveal the secret route by which he had caught up to Evil Ollie, as Oliver had been dubbed by George's boss, Q. 

The moment he collared Ollie, he'd get rid of it. Not that he would be caught, but in case he himself had been followed -- was he being followed even now?

Anyway, if push came to shove, the GPS would have to find its way down the nearest storm drain. George gave a silent and mirthless laugh and pulled his overcoat closer around his ears.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winter approaches, lace cap hydrangea blooms on

As winter approaches, the lace cap hydrangea refuses to stop blooming. Even as the leaves turn to autumn colours, the lacy flowers remain in place, slowly fading.

I waited many years for this shrub to bloom. Now that it's begun, it refuses to quit.

The flowers have been there since late July. To make future blooms blue, advises garden expert Steve Whysall, this is the time to apply a dressing of aluminum sulfate.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Frost fringes banana palm at David Hunter's in Surrey

In recent years, home gardeners on the south coast of BC have ventured into adding plants classed as semi-tropical to our gardens. First came the palm craze.

Now Lower Mainland gardeners have discovered that hardy bananas can be grown in our climate zone too. But they do need winter protection.

This banana palm is beginning to show its seasonal objections to the cooler weather. Notice the brown-edged and tattered foliage on the right.

In his recent article about "protective custody" in the winter garden, Steve Whysall, garden columnist at the Vancouver Sun, advises banana growers how to care for these large but tender shrubs.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

From muddy stream to our own boardwalk

A few months ago, there was still a shrub rose growing at King George Station. I sniffed it en route to work for years.

A few weeks ago, that rose went down as a huge hole was dug for new development. The fenced and re-routed pedestrian path past the construction site to the station was a stream of running water and mud from the wheel washers.

Then someone created a small cement dam along the edge of the chain link fence to redirect the extra water another way.

That only lasted a few days before it was breached by increasing volumes of water, helped on by autumn rains.

For now we have our very own raised boardwalk, topped with anti-slip roofing material and decorated with hot pink paint. It's been an interesting evolution of pedestrian pathways. What next?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance Day: Dad, Louise Penny, the Conscription Crisis, and the Canadian forest

Image: Remembrance Day at McGill, Montreal 2012, by Adam Scotti

Remembrance Day brings much to remember. First, yesterday was the 24th anniversary of the death of my father, a veteran of World War II. Born at the beginning of the twentieth century, he died aged 88 in Kitimat General Hospital. An RCNVR volunteer, Dad served on corvettes and minesweepers in the North Atlantic.

In 1944, while on shore leave in St. John's, Newfoundland, Dad met Mom at a crowded bus stop. Like so many of my generation, the Baby Boomers, I would not have been born without the that conflict. Without it. my parents would never have met.

Also, I remember the delightful opus of Louise Penny, former CBC journalist and Canadian mystery writer extraordinaire. From food and jokes to friendships and misunderstandings, I remember today how she renders a picture of the Francophones and Anglophones living together but also separate in Montreal.

Too eager to wait for the next consecutive novel in this series and read it in order, I have read or listened on CD to all but the last of Penny's books as soon as I could get my hands on it. Each tale reveals a few more strands of back story, wisdom and remembrance.

In recent days, I have been listening to Ralph Cosham narrate the adventures of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir as they investigate the suspicious death of a woman killed by a toppling memorial statue. In A Rule Against Murder, Penny draws us into the deep forest surrounding a former hunting lodge in rural Quebec, now an exclusive inn. Here she unveils, along with her plot and characters, the past history of the province and the nation.

While Beauvoir is baffled and irritated by the incomprehensible behaviour of what he sees as typical  masked Anglos, his Chief is more mature and philosophical. In this novel, the reader is taken to the heart of a secret about Gamache's father that has been alluded to in other books.

Honore Gamache, a man of peace, was involved in the Conscription Crisis of World War II. In Montreal, M. Gamache Senior spoke publicly and persuasively against Canadian involvement in the war. Though he refused to join the army, he went to Europe with the Red Cross. There something he witnessed changed him, and caused a twist in the fate of his son Armand.

Though Gamache's father is long dead, his son reveres his memory, and is unmoved by the nasty remarks of certain wealthy Westmount Anglos who dismiss Honore Gamache as a coward. While these quarrelsome and deeply troubled individuals reveal their ignorant prejudices, the Chief works at solving the murder.

Throwbacks to the time when the Anglophones controlled the business of the province, the Morrows, damaged by their inherited wealth, openly look down on Gamache for being French. The eldest among them recall WWII and the time before the Quiet Revolution when the Quebecois began to call themselves "maitres chez nous."

With the refracted light she casts upon each character in turn, the work of Louise Penny reveals how history casts long shadows. The world changes but somewhere deep inside, for good and ill, we remember the early influences that formed us.

Remembering the history of Canada, and especially of Montreal, let us embrace the many threads that have bound us from the beginning, and bring to consciousness those impulses that would separate us. On Remembrance Day, in serenity and without bitterness, like Armand Gamache, let us remember and own our historic conflicts.

Let us remember also the geographical and symbolic influence and power of the Canadian forest that Louise Penny so often mentions. The Canadian wilderness has shaped all our souls.

And finally, let us feel in our bones the sonorous rhythms of  the poetry of Walter Scott, recalled by Armand Gamache from his own poetry-quoting father. Like Louise Penny's bilingual Cambridge educated detective, who is also quintessentially French Canadian, and a lover of the Canadian wilderness, we may intone today:

"This is my own, my native land."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pumpkins for sale cheap

Image: cheap pumpkins at David Hunter in Surrey

After Halloween, pumpkins are very cheap. The vegetable of choice for Jack O'Lanterns and pumpkin pie in North America, they are popular around the world.

Russians make pumpkin porridge; in Thailand this is a choice ingredient for curry. Sri Lankans also use pumpkins for curry, serving it with sambol and dahl. In Morocco, pumpkins are combined with chickpeas in a tasty soup.

In many parts of the world, these fast-growing vegetables are cheap, and provide nutrition for people who can't afford more expensive produce. After Jack O'Lanterns have been carved and pumpkin pies made, the rest of the crop is sold cheap.

In the Fraser Valley, pumpkins are sometimes left in the field and ploughed back into the ground. What a waste of food!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lady's slipper orchids

This astonishing green slipper orchid even has ribbons, like the shoes of a real ballerina.

The slipper below is delicate enough to fit fairy feet.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Amazing orchids at recent Langley show

The Fraser Valley Orchid Society recently hosted a show at the George Preston Rec Centre in Langley. Among the beautiful and astonishing variety of orchids was the fragrant yellow one above.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Leafy carpet and floral imposter

Left: Red maple leaves carpet the ground.

Below: At a glance, fallen maple leaves appear to be blooms on the rhododendron.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Light cast by autumn leaves

An unusually dry autumn makes this year's autumn leaves glow even at night.

These are the leaves of a smoke tree, or cotinus coggygria.

Dark purple in summer, the leaves have faded to bright orange.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Evening autumn colours

Bright autumn colors  light a dry afternoon before the leaves fall.

These amazing chrysanthemums have grown from a couple of small clumps last year to overflow the bed.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Gloves designed for texting

Image: delayed Sky Train passenger texts while she waits. Her hands are protected by fancy gloves that leave her fingers free.

It had to happen. A new riff on gloves, designed for easy use of the new media.

These pink fluffy numbers warm the palm and wrist while the fingers stay free for texting.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Maple Leaf Machines

As they await repairs by the Automotive Department, these machines sit in the the VCC parking lot like works of art, covered with a thick layer of falling maple leaves.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

GoGos for the Stephen Lewis Foundation

New Westminster grannies, GoGo Grandmothers, have got together to help the grannies of Africa who are raising a generation of AIDS orphaned kids.

They're supporting the wonderful work of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which is "turning the tide of AIDS in Africa."

This picture was taken at their charity craft sale, held yesterday and TODAY at the CAW Union Hall on 12th Avenue and Third Street in New Westminster.

Definitely a group worth supporting.

The GoGos have an art auction coming up in the spring.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sidewalk closed -- by leaves

Well, it's not exactly closed, but it sure is clogged up with maple leaves.

This has been such a lovely fall. The sunny weather has made the autumn leaf show spectacular.

This picture was taken the day before the rains came.