Rebecca & The Agave
Saturday, July 14, 2007
When I saw the possibilities of this picture (taken two years ago) inside the Macmillan Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park the middle of a Vancouver winter I was magically transported to Mexico. The lack of colour (the ochres, reds and browns of Mexico) made the scene Mexican but sombre. Rebecca looked sad and I did nothing to change her mind. I was particularly attracted to the overall monochrome cool blue green of the photograph.
Last week when we were helping our eldest daughter Ale settle in her new house in Lillooet I practiced what my mother taught me. She told me that a house was never a home until you put pictures on the wall. I unpacked Ale's framed photos and immediately hung the above picture of Rebecca in Ale's bedroom. The nail was on the wall, already. With the picture up, the three of us saw it. We didn't have to communicate verbally that the picture belonged there and that the house was becoming a home.
Proliferating Roses, Lord Cochran & Captain Jack Aubrey
Friday, July 13, 2007
May 6, 1801: Speedy (14 guns), Lord Cochrane, takes the Spanish frigate El Gamo (32 guns). Lord Cochrane
the 10th Earl of Dundonald 1775-1860 is an honest to God hero. I first became curious when I spotted a large statue of him in Santiago, Chile in the 60s. The statue plaque stated that he had founded the Chilean Navy. Further investigation led me to find out that Cochran had ferried General Don José de San Martín's
troops from Valparaiso to Callao where the Argentine general liberated Perú from the Spaniards. Later on, in a war between Argentina and Brazil, somehow the Irish-born founder of the Argentine navy Almirante Guillermo (William) Brown commanded a fleet against Cochrane who led the Brazilian navy. In 1801 when Cochrane captured El Gamo
he used the ploy of hoisting an American flag to confuse the Spaniards.
In Patrick O'Brian's Master And Commander
, the first of his superb nautical novels, El Gamo
becomes the Spanish xebec-frigate Cacafuego
and the Speedy
is the sloop Sophie
. His Majesty's sloop Sophie
is led by Commander John Aubrey whose personality is much like Cochran. Both Cochran and Aubrey(not so swift on land as on the high seas) become involved in financial scandals.
The recent, extremely hot weather preceded by a very wet spring has made many of my roses ball-up and not open. This has been a plague with the multipetaled Bourbons and the Albas like Maiden's Blush and my recent aquisition the hybrid Alba Königin von Dänemark
. Today I inspected the plant and found that the flowers were wilting at the edges and one flower in particular (above, at bottom of the rose scan)was a good example of what we rosarians call proliferation
Peter Beales says of proliferation in his Classic Roses
: Some of the more double-flowered old-fashioned roses will occasionally sprout a molformed bud from the centre. This is known as proliferation and is a most unpleasant sight. The phenomenon usually occurs in the early flowers, and in the case of the repeat-flowering shrubs, seldom reappears on autumn flowers. Close inspection of the misshapen flowers reveals that for some reason, probably genetic, the reproductive organs, in particular the pistils, have become fused, and instead of developing normally, have changed into another complete flower bud, which grows out of the centre of the bloom.
When I looked at the proliferating flower of my Königin von Dänemark, after the initial shock, I immediately thought of Master And Commander
, my favourite Patrick O'Brian novel from the series that feature Captain Jack Aubrey and his physician/spy friend Stephen Maturin.
In the first chapter Jack and Stephen meet at a concert at the Governor's House music room in Port Mahon. The concert highlight is Locatelli's C Major Quartet
. Maturin and Aubrey disagree on the beat of the piece and they almost duel over it. But in the end, reason prevails and they become inseperable friends.
I thought of the Spanish xebec-frigate Cacafuego because the proliferating rose looked like it was throwing up (spewing from inside) green fire. Cacafuego literally means shit spewer.
The Vulture & Fútbol
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Last night I watched the Brazilians lose to the Spaniards in the FIFA Under 20 Tournament. With Juan Manuel Sanchez living in Buenos Aires permanently and with Rosemary not understanding or caring to watch the game I felt extremeley lonely. I had a longing for the presence of my mother. Perhaps it was her exposure to fútbol
in Argentina. As a young man in Mexico my mother liked to watch fútbol
with me. We both believed in the idea (shared with Juan Manuel Sanchez) that if we watched our favourite team play (mostly Argentina)it would lose. We agonized about watching Argentina play Mexico as we agonized watching the Argentine players lose their breath (and often the game) in the oxygen-rare Mexico City atmosphere. My mother and I shared a dislike for the play by play comments of Fernando Marcos. He was pompous and in our opinion not balanced at all in his comments. He had a fondness for saying that every minute had 60 seconds and that in fútbol
anything could happen in that minute. My mother called him "el buitre" or the vulture. The Argentines might be losing a game and with a few minutes left for the game Marcos, with a smile on his face would utter his words of wisdom on the markings of time. We didn't dislike Marcos, we hated him.
Watching the Brazilians lose to the Spaniards was heart wrenching for me. My Spanish heritage had me rooting for the Spaniards but my heart was with the beautiful play of the Brazilians. It was unnerving to hear the commentators pronounce the Spanish names and make them sound not so. Barragán sounded like Berrigan.
I saw some of the best fútbol
of my life as a sailor in Buenos Aires in the mid 60s. And in most cases it had to do with the Brazilian brand of the game. One of the few privileges a one-US Dollar-a-month conscript had was free entry to "partidos de futbol"
if one wore one's uniform. I saw Santos of Brazil (in dazzling all-white uniforms) with Pelé (at his best) play in the cavernous Estadio River Plate. In fact in one of the games (from my vantage point high in the upper bleechers) I could see the tanks of the Argentine Army rumbling by on their way to town to a cuartelazo
or coup d'état. For us the game was much more important so we ignored it all.
But watching the Brazilians lose was not so heart wrenching as Argentines and Brazilians have been fútbol
rivals for almost a century. Argentines and Brazilians would always join forces in condemning the technical/strategic European playing particularly of the German variety. This was futbol at its most boring. The Brazilians and the Argentines would complain (while losing to them) that "No nos dejan jugar. " or they don't let us play our game.
With Brazil and Uruguay gone, the mantle of futbol latinoamericano
(in the Under 20 FIFA) lies at the feet of the Argentines and the Mexicans. I would welcome the comments of Fernando Marcos if they only brought the presence of my mother. And even if the Argentines or the Mexicans were to lose to the Spaniards I know that, in the very least with Marcos, Barragán would sound like a Spanish name.
Homemade Root Beer On Musqueam Nation Property
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Sooner or later I will have to purchase a handy digital so I can take handy photographs. But something tells me that a photo that would illustrate yesterday's story would not be quite right.
I took Rosemary and my daughter Hilary and our granddaughters Rebecca and Lauren to the opening of Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas's
work at the Museum of Anthropology. It was a late sunny afternoon.
Rebecca was particularly fascinated by the sight of a car that Yahgulanaas painted black, and all the trim metallic copper. Bill Reid's canoe sat on top of the roof. She giggled, doing exactly what Yahgulanaas had asked us to do (during his speech) when looking at his work (above is Bone Box, detail).
After the speeches we went outside for a hamburger barbecue complete with potato salad and home made root beer. I was sitting on a rock talking to a beautifully dressed older gentleman with white hair. I was sipping on my root beer and he on lemonade. Rebecca came along. I asked her to ask the man what his connection with the museum was.
"What is your connection to this museum?"
"I am the architect who designed it."
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
On of my favourite books is David Macaulay's 1973 Cathedral
. The beautifully illustrated book on the construction of the imaginary cathedral of the imaginary French town of Chutreaux fills me with a sense of wonder on the power of man. We don't need aliens to help us build pyramids. We only need masons.
All this came to mind this morning when I walked in the garden and noticed that one of the opening flowers of the English Rose R. 'Winchester Cathedral' had that little but still perfect flaw of colour on what is usually an all white rose. I wrote about it here Leda
It is difficult not to be awed by the tall vaults of cathedrals and the ceilings of Victorian train stations. I am particularly attracted to the smells of decaying stone mixed with the humanity of centuries. I could smell just that when I walked on the roof of Notre Dame in Paris.
Coincidentally I have begun Candace Robb's The Cross-Legged Knight
which is a murder mystery set in York in 1371 and one of the principal protagonists (who thinks someone is out to kill him) is William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester and former Lord Chancellor of England who in real life struggled with King Edward III by supporting his son the Duke of Lancaster (John of Gaunt).
Again that the sight of a beautiful rose in my garden can diverge my thoughts to all the above is but my proof on the merits of that good garden plant.
A Crinkle On An Otherwise Perfect Day
Monday, July 09, 2007
The only crinkle in the otherwise perfect day yesterday was that I had to finish of the chicken breasts on the frying pan because my outdoor barbecue ran out of gas.
Since Rosemary and I were in Lillooet on Saturday we had to exchange our baby sitting schedule with Nana (Rebecca and Lauren's other grandmother). This meant we had them yesterday instead of the usual Saturday.
We were sitting at VanDusen Botanical Garden watching the girls run around near and in (luckily nobody was watching as I am sure the keepers would object) the waterfall by the meconopsis dell. Rosemary mentioned that having the girls on a Sunday messed up her schedule and her preparation for her Monday office job which she never looks forward to. I had to remind her that the office job, and just about anything else could not compare in importance or provided as much pleasure as spending a day with Lauren and Rebecca. They don't fight. They don't whine. They eat at meals with gusto and they almost never fight. Lauren scraped her knee while running in VanDusen and she did not cry long as soon as her sister hugged her.
Rebecca and I identified some red astilbes in VanDusen. She was confused as the ones in our garden are white. And in our garden we learned the botanical name of the Sensitive Fern, Onoclea sensibilis
and that of the Royal Fern, Osmunda regalis.
Her knowledge of botanical Latin and Greek will serve her well later on in life.
Both girls were cooperative when I asked them to pose for me. I took photographs with colour transparency but here are some of the black and white Polaroids.
I cannot imagine a more pleasant day than yesterday. It is more fun for me since I have learned to let go of my worries and just enjoy the company of the girls and watch Rosemary almost
And to think that beginning July 14 we will have Rebecca all to ourselves until the 30th! I look forward running up and down the pyramid of Kukulkan at Chichén Itzá and the House of the Magician at Uxmal with Rebecca. But then Rosemary is already beginning to worry about the Mérida weather reports. They all read the same:
Cloudy or sunny, humid and the maximum temperature hovers around 39.
Leda - Another White Rose Bleeds
Sunday, July 08, 2007
In Greek mythology, Leda (Λήδα) was daughter of the Aetolian king Thestius, and wife of the king Tyndareus, of Sparta. Her myth gave rise to the popular motif in Renaissance and later art of Leda and the Swan. She was the mother of Helen of Troy, Clytemnestra, and Castor and Pollux.
Leda was loved by Zeus, who seduced her in the guise of a swan. As a swan, Zeus fell into her arms for protection from a pursuing eagle. Their consummation, on the same night as Leda lay with her husband Tyndareus, resulted in two eggs from which hatched Helen - later known as the beautiful Helen Of Troy, Clytemnestra, and Castor and Pollux.
I will keep pursuing the theme here on how my plants, in particular my roses make me associate and think of topics that would normally have nothing to do with a garden.
The rape of Leda is strangely depicted in a copy of a lost Michelangelo painting as the penetration of Leda's mouth by the swan's beak.
The rose shown here. Rosa
'Leda' is a Damask from the early 19th century,. There are two versions. The French one is pink with red edging while the English one (my specimen) is white with the same red edging. I would suppose that the red represents the blood caused by the swan's repeated thrusts. Information on Damask roses is confusing. They resemble Gallicas but some of them like 'Quatre Saisons'
bloom more than once. Leda can sporadically bloom in the fall.
As much as gardeners put value in plants that flower more than once and will in many cases ignore old roses that are not remontant I have discovered that Gallicas and specially Damasks make up for their lack of remontancy by having a very long (Leda blooms at the end of May, all of June and as you can see here, she is still at it.)one time blooming season. When you consider that they are also intensely fragrant it is hard to understand why they may be ignored as good garden plants.
The appearance of red or pink in the edge of a white rose is not all that infrequent.
In my own garden there are two English Roses that do this. One is Winchester Cathedral and the other is Fair Bianca
. Perhaps I will have to wait a while before I teach Rebecca the story behind my beautiful Leda.