The Blue Ghost In All ItsGlory
Saturday, April 29, 2017
|Rhododendron augustinii 'Marion McDonnell' April 29 2017|
My friend Alex Summers
now dead so many years ago was my
friend. He started the American Hosta Society. He had interesting things to say
about gardens. Read here
. But salient is this:
"It takes a year to plan and design a garden. You need
a year to build it. You wait three years for it to mature. On the 6th year you
enjoy it. In the seventh it declines. You start from scratch on the 8th."
Our Athlone garden was one we started in 1986. It had many
of those 8-years progressions but it finally died in 2015 when me moved in
early 2016 to our present small garden in Kitsilano. Rosemary has yet to
recover from the loss. I supress it while enjoying our little garden that is
transforming itself into a jewel of a garden. Some of Summers’ dictums might
not apply as we moved mature plants from Athlone to here. We had one big loss
our Magnolia grandiflora.
|April 29 2017 |
I finally cut the dead magnolia into pieces and took it out
a week ago. We replaced it with a brand new one which is much smaller. We live
in the hope that it will bloom some day.
The rhodo simply enlarges on the idea that a garden is a
work of changing continuity. This is our second spring in Kitsilano. A few of
the roses already have buds. The hostas are emerging in all that pristine glory
they show in early May.
Our garden is a promise. Rosemary’s cat Casi-Casi spends a
lot of time in it (when it is not raining) as well as Rosemary. I hope she soon
forgets Athlone and like Summers said, …on the 6th year you enjoy it…”
Juan Manuel Sánchez - Maestro
Thursday, April 27, 2017
|El Maestro - Juan Manuel Sánchez|
online Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (RAE) defines a maestro
magister, -tri; la forma f., del lat. magistra.
Dicho de una persona o de una obra: De mérito relevante entre las de su clase.
While in my time in Mexico City when I taught high school and
at a Jesuit university I may have been called profe, teach,
and variants but I was never called maestro
. But a person
of note, Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich
did call me that, “maestro
” and kissed me twice on each
cheek when I handed him my portraits of him, backstage in the Orpheum. That is something I will never forget.
In Italy and sometimes in Argentina any man of authority
is addressed as ingeniero or doctore. And here in Vancouver I have seen quite often the
term Doctor in Optometry on the windows of stores that sell glasses. This latter term, for me must not be correct. You either go to a medical
doctor (an ophthalmologist) who happens to be a surgeon or you trust your eyes
to a technician. I always consult the former.
I have known a few maestros in my life. There was my
philosopher/teacher in Mexico City, Ramón Xirau. There were my mentors (perhaps
this is what I mean by that Spanish term maestro, Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C.,
my older friend Raúl Guerrero Montemayor, architect Abraham Rogatnick and in my
youth in Mexico City Arno Brehme
with whom I apprenticed for a month in his
photography studio. And I must add American US Naval Captain Onofrio Salvia who gave me sage advice when I was attempting to rebel (futile it was and he pointed it out) to wait until I was in a position of authority to change what I did not like.
All those mentor/maestros even the one that called me
that are all dead. The last remaining one was for me one of the biggest
influences in my life. Before I met maestro Juan Manuel Sánchez, I considered
myself to be a good photographer. After a few months of being in his
presence I believe I became an artist.
Sánchez and his wife Nora Patrich), while they lived in
Vancouver, were constantly in my thoughts. I called them every day. We visited,
we collaborated on art projects and we drank mate. Slowly, and gracefully (lots
of tact on him) Sánchez gave me an arts education. He gave me the reason why I
did stuff that I did. He constantly made me push my boundaries. He never said
no to any suggestion that I would make about something we should do together.
In short, Juan Manuel Sánchez was the last (he died in
2016) maestro I will ever have.
The only conflict I have I my mind is that at my age of
74, even if I am not quite the maestro, I have lots of experience and
information in my head. But I am rarely consulted. I believe that all that will
change when I am dead. By then it will be too late to ask me anything.
I think I am a better photographer today because I worked
with and under Juan Manuel Sánchez.
The single most important transfer that came from him to me was the idea that to want to spend time resolving (a word he liked to use when he would first face a blank canvas) our idea of what a woman was (usually unclothed for both of us) was relevant, natural, healthy and necessary. Like Plato he was on the lookout for the essence of what all women are.
Just this time, I can assert that every moment I had with
him was one that I savoured and I knew the value of his friendship. He did not
have to die before I understood all that he did for me.
|El Maestro & Marina|
|2016 - Buenos Aires|
Las Cuartetas - Las Violetas & La Posada
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
|Ramón Escano - Las Cuartetas|
In the late 60s for 6 months I was a waiter (mozo in Argentine Spanish) in La Boca in
Buenos Aires. I worked weekends at la Cantina Paquebot Priano
. A band played
awful cumbia (not a tango to be heard) and we as waiters were supposed to sashay
with the music while carrying heavy dishes of a fixed menu. We were informed by
the boss that every once in a while we were supposed to spill food so that management
could provide a free bottle of cheap wine for compensation.
The job provided me with needed spending money that helped
make ends meet as my military pay in the Argentine Navy (I was a conscript) was
an envelope which contained two dollars a month.
The rate of pay had not been changed since
|Gabriel Persomo - la Posada|
I hated the job but it helped me appreciate the role of the
waiter in modern life. Here I Vancouver it might be seen as a temporary job for
young persons with arts degrees on their way up to artistic fame.
In my native Buenos Aires, being a waiter is being part
of an honourable profession. Waiters in Buenos Aires (mostly men) take pride in
what they do. You feel this and see this in their faces as they serve you with
excellence and with an honest smile on their face.
Ramón Escano at the Pizzería Las Cuartetas
on Calle Corrientes was extra special. He had a delightful smile and from his accent I guessed correctly he was from the province of Corrientes. We both agreed, without discussing our political views, that one act that former president Cristina Kirchner had performed most favourably was to appoint Teresa Parodi (a terrific singer of folclor correntino chamamés) as cultural minister during her time in office. Las Cuartetas was were my father took me for pizza after we went to the many movie houses on nearby Lavalle. Las Cuartetas was were I went for a slice when I was a conscript in the Navy. Las Cuartetas was the place where I sent my daughters Ale and Hilary when they were late teenagerss. They told the management of the significance of the place to their father. The manager promptly served them sopa inglesa for dessert on the house. Sopa inglesa is an Argentine version of trifle heavy with brandy. The girls left tipsy.
|Roque Lascano - Las Violetas|
Las Violetas is a beautiful tea room from the 19th century. Roque Lascano was a sweet man. I told him so as he was from the province of Tucumán known for its sugar harvest.There was such pride in his face when her served Lauren her submarino (a tall cup of very hot milk with a huge bar of bitter chocolate inserted to melt). I showed him some of my racy photographs from my series Argentine Nostalgia. He was delighted and brought the man behind the bar to look at them. It was a pleasant afternoon that we spent with Jorge Wenceslao and Sarita.
In our recent trip to Buenos Aires I made sure to instruct
our 14 year-old granddaughter of this fact.
It was fun to converse with our waiters and to find out
where they were from. All had been at it for many years.
|With my first cousin Jorge Wenceslao and his first cousin Sarita|
Gabriel Perdomo was from Uruguay. Here we hit with a most unlikely coincidence. We were having dinner with Jorge Wenceslao whose surname is de Irureta Goyena. It seems that Perdomo while living in Montevideo he was raised in a house on Irureta Goyena Street. Irureta Goyena was a noted Uruguayan politician.
Perdomo seemed to anticipate what we would want and he would suggest entries from the menu that were exactly what he wanted. La Posada (the building housing the restaurnand and just half a block from our hotel, The Claridge Hotel)
|La Posada -Tucumán & San Martín|
In the photograph above of La Posada our hotel, The Claridge can be seen on the left (I placed two white dots!). Those metal sheets on the street covered huge drainage works holes. At night when buses and cars would cross the noise from our hotel room was deafening. It sounded like Tiger tanks on the way to a battle.
The Littlest Heathen Grows Up
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
|Kitsilano BC - April 25 2017|
The Littlest Heathen
Today was a special day. It is not usual that we get a
visit by our eldest daughter, Rebecca who is 19. She had late lunch with us.
Most pleasant was the fact that her mother and sister were with us, too. When I
asked the not so little heathen anymore if we could do something together she
knew right away what I was going to ask. I asked her if we could share a mate.
Rebecca is the only person that I know that likes mate. And of course with
Lauren around my request for Rebecca and me to be photographed was efficiently
As usual Pancho did not protest. He has appeared in so
many photographs that he has learned that to deal with eternity patience can be
|Kitsilano Halloween 2016|
Those Underappreciated Spring Rhododendrons
Sunday, April 23, 2017
|Rhododendron augustinii 'Marion MacDonnell'|
Spring in Vancouver arrives with all those predictable
photographs of cherry blossoms, camellias (usually misspelt with one l) and
about magnolia bushes (which are in reality trees) and are some of the oldest
flowering trees in our planet.
Little is ever mentioned about those dependable and mostly
healthy rhododendrons. In our garden, the first botanical entity to flower besides
the bulbs is my lovely species rhododendron, Rhododendron racemosum.
Today my scan is of the plant about a week past its
prime. The second image is from two years ago in its prime.
The other rhododendron in bloom right now is Rhododenron augustinii
‘Marion MacDonnell’ which is
almost a startling blue.
Alas we are not in our old Athlone house anymore where
Rhododenron luteum would be not quite
about to flower with its extremely fragrant yellow blooms.
Cassini's Swan Dive & Cassini the Swan
Saturday, April 22, 2017
|Sandrine Cassini - iPhone 3-G Photograph|
Giovanni Domenico Cassini (8 June 1625 – 14 September
1712) was an Italian mathematician, astronomer, astrologer and engineer.
Cassini was born in Perinaldo, near Imperia, at that time in the County of
Nice, part of the Duchy of Savoy. Cassini is known for his work in the fields
of astronomy and engineering. Cassini discovered four satellites of the planet
Saturn and noted the division of the rings of Saturn; the Cassini Division was
named after him. Giovanni Domenico Cassini was also the first of his family to
begin work on the project of creating a topographic map of France. The Cassini spaceprobe, launched in 1997, was named after
him and became the fourth to visit Saturn and the first to orbit the planet.
In September it will make its swan dive
A few days ago I received a postcard, a 1929 vintage view
of Nice from my friend ballerina/choreographer Sandrine Cassini. That Sandrine
happens to be called Cassini and is originally from Nice is no coincidence as
she is indeed a descendant of Giovanni Domenico Cassini.
Little Dancer - aged 14
La Modestine Stands Up & Sits Down
Friday, April 21, 2017
|Sketches by Graham Walker & Lauren Stewart|
|La Modestine - April 20 - Seymour Art Gallery |
It is impossible for me to ever go up to Deep Cove via the
much newer Mt. Seymour Parkway. I prefer to go the longer and more winding root
of Dollarton Highway. It passes by Cates Park. When I do I remember my friend
John Lekich’s words:
Lowry lived here – Errol Flynn died here.
Yesterday Thursday, April 20 I was on my way to meet up with
my friend Ian Bateson for a concert of La Modestine at the Seymour Art Gallery
in Deep Cove.
The concert called "German Spring" was held in an intimately small gallery that had
a startlingly crisp almost loud sound.
We sat in the front row as we always do so that I could
listen to violinist Marc Destrubé breathe. I sit in the front row of dance performaces for the same reason.
Going to small concerts of Early Music Vancouver
or of La Modestine
puts me in situations where I feel I am royalty. The four members of
La Modestine are violinists Marc Destrubé and Seattle luminary Linda Melsted,
viola da gamba player Natalie Mackie and harpsichordist Michael Jarvis (who
also might be heard playing the organ).
Those four members, in a small room, make me feel like I may
be Alexandre Von Humboldtberger of renowned blue German blood and they are there to play just for me.
There are no announcements (or the very least, least) and
the atmosphere is informal. You know these renowned musicians (they are as they
are not only famous at home but abroad) put on their pants one foot at a time.
But there is one factor that puts you at odds with them. They
can read music like President John Kennedy speed read and they are virtuosi of
You need to know that the two violinists have two playing
positions. They sit or they stand. When they stand, they play seriously
difficult music by the likes (not your household known composer) of Heinrich
Ignaz Franz von Biber. When they sit they play evocatively melodious music by
that other un-household known name Johann Heinrich Schmelzer.
This particular concert had besides those two composers, a
solo performance on the harpsichord (Michael Jarvis) playing Johann Rosenmüller’s
Sonata Sonata Sesta a 3
(no siesta it was, we were on our toes) and a most
unique duo by gambist Mackie and harpsichordist Jarvis playing a composer
discovered by Mackie a mere few weeks before called Jacob Reihmann.
But the best was at the very end. Standing up the violinists
and company played a von Biber Partita that included a final passacaglia (I
love chaconnes and passacaglias are almost that).
|Graham Walker |
The evening was brilliantly fun but there was one sad moment
for me. My friend, designer Graham Walker and my granddaughter Lauren, 14 could
not make it. These two collaborate in sketching their impressions of La
Modestine and other concerts. They work on the same pages and you can scarcely
figure out who did what. I am placing here the sketches they did from the last
La Modestine concert, held at Hodson Manor on February 25. I was soon to go to
Austin for a school reunion and to Buenos Aires for spring break so I never did
get to write my impression of that French and Italian music concert.
|Linda Melsted and Lauren Stewart|
In all cases La Modestine specializes in the lesser known
baroque composers of the 17th
century. Since you are not inclined to
hear this stuff anywhere else you could say that this is 17 century avant-garde
new music. In the case of von Biber this is a precise description of music that
in that century was called fantastic. Composers took chances and pushed
boundaries. Von Biber tinkered (most successfully) with variant tunings of the
violin. The most famous of his compositions are his 16 Rosary Sonatas. This
alternate tuning is called scordatura.
By my reckoning if some violinist (accompanied
by a continuo player, a continuo can be a harpsichord or a string instrument
like a viola da gamba) were to attempt to play all 16 in one sitting and since
the process of re-tuning that violin can take time, it would be necessary to have
at least 14 violins handy!
You might spot a couple of donkeys in the sketches. The
reason is that La Modestine was Robert Louis Stevenson’s donkey when the writer
traveled in Europe.
For anybody who might be curious about other famous donkeys,
there is Rucio (the dappled one) which was Sancho Panza’s steed of choice.
The evening did end very well. In the gallery I spotted
this delightful mono print by artist Liane McLaren Varnam. My Lauren loves cats
and has one of her own. I am sure she will be delighted by “The Seagull and the
|Detail from Natali Mackie's viola de gamba|
|Marc Destrubé & his new glasses|