Glykysides & That Captured augustinii
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
|Rhododendron augustinii 'Marion MacDonnell'|
On March 28, 2015 I wrote this blog
titled Glykysides in
Our Garden. The plants in questions were peonies. We did not bring any of those
featured in the blog to our new home in Kitsilano. I showed the blog to
Rosemary who expressed sorrow over the fact that we do not have those plants
Two weeks ago we returned to our old house. It is empty but
it is sometimes occupied on weekends through Airbnb. I would not think of going
into what is left of the garden but I did this time. Rosemary returns sometimes every week. The
garden has been mostly plowed over (this I noticed two weeks ago).
On the lane
garden there were three roses which we liberated from the soon to happen
demolition. One of the roses went with my eldest daughter to Lillooet. Two
others are languishing with us. The moving should have been made a month ago
when the plants were dormant. I believe that at least one of them will survive.
Going to our old garden was more than sobering. I felt
melancholic as I remembered what it looked like in its prime.
But there is one happy thought here. And I will use that
21st century term for taking a picture – to capture.
In the above-linked blog the peonies are there to be seen because
I scanned them. I have a record of almost all the plants (with corresponding
flowers) in my hard drive and in CD and(!) in a duplicate exterior drive.
I feel that I have captured their botanical soul. The garden
may be gone but the plants remain in my memory, my visual memory and my memory
visual (if you get what I mean).
One plant that did move with us and is blooming today is Rhododendron augustinii ‘Marion MacDonnell’.
It is now a tree. Some years ago our friend Alleyne Cook brought a small pot
and told me that it was the closest rhododendron to being blue. It is thriving
in a sunny spot in our garden.
The plant was named after Dundee-born Augustine Henry and it
is supposed to be quite sun tolerant as most rhododendrons prefer shade.
With all that visual memory for our former peonies this
Rhododendron is one that I can touch.There is something positive about that.
Cleopatra & Bitumen of Judea
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
|Jennifer Lines as Cleopatra - iPhone3G|
Bitumen of Judea
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bitumen of Judea, or Syrian asphalt, is a naturally
occurring asphalt that has been put to many uses since ancient times.[vague] It
is a light-sensitive material in what is accepted to be the first complete
photographic process, i.e., one capable of producing durable light-fast
results. The technique was developed by French scientist and inventor Nicéphore
Niépce in the 1820s. In 1826 or 1827, he applied a thin coating of the tar-like
material to a pewter plate and took a picture of parts of the buildings and
surrounding countryside of his estate, producing what is usually described as
the first photograph. It is considered to be the oldest known surviving
photograph made in a camera. The plate was exposed in the camera for at least
The bitumen, initially soluble in spirits and oils, was
hardened and made insoluble (probably polymerized) in the brightest areas of
the image. The unhardened part was then rinsed away with a solvent
Niépce's primary objective was not a photoengraving or
photolithography process, but rather a photo-etching process since engraving
requires the intervention of a physical rather than chemical process and
lithography involves a grease and water resistance process. However, the famous
image of the Cardinal was produced first by photo-etching and then
"improved" by hand engraving. Bitumen, superbly resistant to strong
acids, was in fact later widely used as a photoresist in making printing plates
for mechanical printing processes. The surface of a zinc or
other metal plate was coated, exposed, developed with a solvent that laid bare
the unexposed areas, then etched in an acid bath, producing the required
|World's first photogaph on Bitumen of Judea by Nicéphore Niépce - Harry Ransom Center, Austin, Texas|
Because I am a photographer of the last century I know
who Nicéphore Niépce
was and how he took what it probably the world’s first
photograph, in 1826 or 1827 from his kitchen window.
In Mexico as a young boy of 15 when I played on the street
my friend and I would break out pieces of tar from the concrete built streets
and chew them like chewing gum. In Mexico it is called chapopote (from náhuatl chiapopotl). We were told by some
elders that the stuff helped keep our teeth white.
I really never made the connection with bitumen of Judea until
A few years back (2011) I read Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy
Schiff . In it I found out something most interesting
about the sticky product. Cleopatra was a rich and shrewd woman. She was aware
that the Roman fleets (particularly those of her buddy Marc Antony) used bitumen to caulk the planks and
hulls of their ships. She also knew that most of the bitumen of the time came from
the Roman Province of Judea. There was a problem in that the man in charge in
Judea was Herod the Great. Cleopatra asked Antony to intercede for her so that
Herod would cede the bitumen (of Judea) exploitation rights to her. And so it
With my preoccupation (with my Rosemary) on the affairs
of the world gone Trump mad I have read about Alberta’s bitumen and wonder if
their female Premier doesn’t have a little Cleopatra in her.
There are two extremes to this argument on the fate of
that bitumen. Perhaps some sort of pragmatism will in the end resolve the
problem and no asps will have to be imported.
Monday, April 23, 2018
had lunch with Tim Bray, a guru on all things interent, digital, etc. I tried
to convince him on my theory that our ability to associate is what makes humans
different from other lifeforms on our planet. It was not to be and with a simple
smile on his part we went to other things.
Yesterday I posted this blog (to
fill a gap some months ago that was empty as Rosemary were in New York or in
Mérida). In the same set of negatives I found the one you see here. I
immediately associated the hand to Spanish mano.
Mexico friends call each other by that word. “¿Cómo estás mano?” It seems that mano is
simply short for hermano. Would this mean that Mexicans started the
contemporary “bro” thing in the last century?
One way streets in Mexico are simply called tránsito. The
word implies that traffic (tránsito from the verb transitar) goes only in one
direction. In my Buenos Aires a different expression is used, contramano or
against the direction of my hand.
Both Emily Dickinson and Julio Cortázar (and obviously
others) have written about the human hand. I like this particular one by
Cortázar (with an English translation byTamara Pearson) who many think may have influenced or inspired the TV program The
Twilight Zone. The poem by Dickinson I have referenced before but here it is
de la Mano
carta tirada sobre la mesa sale una línea que corre por la plancha de pino y
baja por una pata. Basta mirar bien para descubrir que la línea continúa por el
piso de parqué, remonta el muro, entra en una lámina que reproduce un cuadro de
Boucher, dibuja la espalda de una mujer reclinada en un diván y por fin escapa
de la habitación por el techo y desciende en la cadena del pararrayos hasta la
calle. Ahí es difícil seguirla a causa del tránsito, pero con atención se la
verá subir por la rueda del autobús estacionado en la esquina y que lleva al
puerto. Allí baja por la media de nilón cristal de la pasajera más rubia, entra
en el territorio hostil de las aduanas, rampa y repta y zigzaguea hasta el
muelle mayor y allí (pero es difícil verla, sólo las ratas la siguen para
trepar a bordo) sube al barco de turbinas sonoras, corre por las planchas de la
cubierta de primera clase, salva con dificultad la escotilla mayor y en una
cabina, donde un hombre triste bebe coñac y escucha la sirena de partida,
remonta por la costura del pantalón, por el chaleco de punto, se desliza hacia
el codo y con un último esfuerzo se guarece en la palma de la mano derecha, que
en ese instante empieza a cerrarse sobre la culata de una pistola.
A hand’s lines – Julio Cortazar
Translated by Tamara Pearson
From a letter thrown on the table, a line extracts itself
and runs along the pinewood then goes down a leg. If you look closely, you can
see the line continue along the hardwood floor, climb the wall, enter a metal
plate that is reproducing a painting by Boucher, trace the back of a woman
reclining on a sofa, and finally escape the room by the roof and descend a chain
of lightning rods to get to the street. It’s difficult to follow it because of
the traffic, but if you focus, you’ll see it climbing the wheel of the bus
parked on the corner that goes to the port. There it gets off the bus on the
nylon stocking of the blondest passenger, passes through the hostile territory
of customs, and crawls and zig zags to the wharf, and there (it’s difficult to
see it, only the rats follow it to get on board) it gets on the boat with the
loud turbines, runs along the first class deck, overcomes with difficulty the
main porthole, and enters a cabin, where a sad man drinks cognac and listens to
the farewell siren. It climbs the lining of his pants, then his vest, and
slides along towards his elbow. Then with one last effort, it takes refuge in
the man’s right hand palm, which in that instant starts to close on the butt of
Part One: Life - Emily Dickinson
I TOOK my power in my hand
And went against the world;
’T was not so much as David had,
But I was twice as bold.
I aimed my pebble, but myself 5
Was all the one that fell.
Was it Goliath was too large,
Or only I too small?
Terranova on Earth Day
Sunday, April 22, 2018
Nombre tradicional español de esta isla de Canadá, que también forma parte del
nombre de la provincia de Terranova y Labrador.No debe usarse en español la
forma inglesa Newfoundland.
When my Rosemary and my two young daughters arrived in
Vancouver from Mexico City in 1975 we had to learn to settle into a country and city that at least three of us (not Rosemary) found to be foreign.
One of my first jobs as a photographer was to take TV station ID slides for the new French CBC channel. They wanted to be independent
from the English side so they hired me to take photographs that would represent
Vancouver. It was working for the CBC that gave me a glimpse of feeling that I
was part of my new country and city.
Very important for me was to find out from CBC Radio how to
pronounce Newfoundland. It had to be Newfun-land.
Before my arrival to Vancouver, Canada was an exotic place,
as exotic as my Canadian wife, her beautiful legs and long blonde hair. Of
Canada I was completely ignorant. It was Rosemary who told me of a man called
One of those exotic places in Canada was Terranova. The
above citation from my Real Academia Española
dictionary stipulates that we should never use the English form of Terranova,
Today is Earth Day and the Spanish name for Newfoundland, “New
Land” conveys for me a new beginning. It is a sunny day in our small Kits
garden. The plants are leafing out and some of my hostas are unfurling their
shoots. It is a beautiful day to celebrate the occasion.