Lauren Stewart's Sixth Birthday & Peter Bingham's Knots
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Lauren Elizabeth Stewart was 6 yesterday. I had her all to myself in the evening because Rosemary did not want to accompany us to see Peter Bingham at EDAM to see The Echo Case
. What we saw was avant garde and the original improvised music that accompanied the performance was funny, challenging and entertaining. The three men (all bald or with shaved heads)Peter Bingham, Marc Boivin and Andrew Harwood danced in convoluted moves that brought to mind my reading of R.D. Lang's Knots
in the early 70s.
Lauren nursed a Ginger Ale through the one-hour-long performance. She laughed, giggled and looked at me to reinforce the fact she thought it all so funny. As soon as it was over she said, "Hold my hand and let's go to the Japanese Restaurant." After performances at EDAM and particularly when Rebecca is around we go to Kishu Island on Main (almost corner with Broadway).
Lauren did not want to drink her green tea, "I don't like green tea." So I told her, "Just like I tell you to imagine that a rose might smell of synthetic apricot jam (Rosa 'Westerland')
before you smell it try and think of celery soup. You like celery." There must be something of the flexibility of 6 year old's mind that she then happily drank her tea.
When I was taking her home I was thinking how it was possible that The Echo Case (an extreme example of contact improvisational dance) was absorbed instantly by Lauren without the need that we adults have of figuring what it all means or is supposed to say.
We both had an excellent afternoon and I counted my blessings in being in close geographically to both my granddaughters. I have yet to forget the wonderful time we all four (with Rosemary) had last week at Pacific Shores Resort & Spa
in Parksville. Here is a photograph of the two girls with head gardener Michele Keddy (in the Japanese meditation garden) who was warm and knowledgeable and the two girls instantly loved her. Rebecca never questioned Keddy's ability to point her to places where she could find snakes even though she (Keddy) is so afraid of them. Keddy would jump back every time Rebecca picked one up while Lauren stood her ground but was unwilling to get any closer.
Happy birthday Lauren Elizabeth Stewart
Rosa ' Yellow Dagmar Hastrup'
Friday, June 27, 2008
Last week when Rosemary, Lauren, Rebecca and I were at the Pacific Shores Resort & Spa
I was pleasantly surprised not only to find a very good and varied garden of good shrubs, trees and perennials but also many interesting roses. One attracted my attention with a nagging suspicion in my mind that I could not peg down. It was a yellow rugosa with a peppery scent. Yellow rugosas
are a rare breed. I wrote about rugosas here
. The plant in the resort had those narrowish leaves with rugose indentations. But it wasn't Rosa 'Agnes'
because the mysterly plant had fewer petals. Agnes was the first yellow rugosa and Canadian, too! There aren't many others. What was it?
Then a few days ago I remembered. Instead of telling you about it look here
. Tim Bray
has his way with words and besides he is a snob of good draught beer. At this time of the year that makes him real smart!
A Black Ghost In Shaughnessy
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I have what you could call the overdue library book syndrome. I know my book is overdue so I put it into a drawer and close it. With the overdue book out of my site the problem of having to return it does not exist. The problem of course exists as soon as I get that big bill for $20.
I know a man who used to live in Victoria who had a variant of this problem. His name is Mike Gluss
and he is a photographer. He was teaching at University of Victoria some years ago and he would get parking tickets. There were few parking spaces and in spite of being a teacher he was not given one. Gluss kept his tickets in a drawer until one day he got a summons and a bill in the thousands of dollars. He made the pages of the Vancouver Sun
because of the size of the sum. The last I heard he contested the fines but I never found out if he won. For me the library always gets it book and I pay the fines.
In my garage I have kept out of my sight a 1986 Maserati Biturbo with a transmission clunk. I got tired of spending money on it. At first I though that perhaps some day I would become rich and then I would fix it. It would be my Sunday car. The prospects of getting rich are non existent. My friend Paul Leisz asks me if I have drained the oil, etc. I just don't answer. As long as I don't see it the problem does not exist.
While walking through a Shaughnessy street I think I spotted someone else's library book syndrome. When I saw it I thought of it as a ghost. I don't ever photograph ugly things. I think this Lincoln Continental is beautiful even if it is overdue.
Hydrangea aspera - Sharkskin & Buttered Sandpaper
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Often when I photograph male lawyers, politicians and businessmen I am asked by their handlers what they should wear. Since we are now firmly esconced in the 21st century the days of taking pictures of energy executives looking into the future are gone. We want to see their eyes. Can we trust them now? Gone are the days of using low camera angles to make them look more powerful or the use of blue backlights to denote high technology. I tell their handlers to clothe them in textured suits with warm fall colours. I tell them to avoid white shirts (they compete too much with their white faces) and suggest blue shirts. I sometimes tell them to stay away from shiny black suits, specially sharkskin suits.
This morning as I made the rounds of the garden I looked at my Hydrangea asperas
. I have three kinds, Hyddrangea aspera
, Hydrangea aspera 'Villosa'
and Hydrangea aspera ssp. sargentina
. All three are similar except the straight Hydrangea aspera
has narrower leaves. The leaves of the sargentiana tend to get larger after some years. I have seen a specimen in VanDusen whose leaves have rounded out and are 9 by 11 inches. The one here, a leaf from a Hydrangea aspera ssp. sargentiana
is 10 inches long.
All three kinds have large lacecap flowers and visitors to my garden always ask, "What is that?" as if they have just spotted a visitor from Mars. I always ask them to touch the leaves and tell them, "It's exactly like sharkskin."
Not too many British know that their fish and chips sometimes is made from the dogfish. A dogfish, (loosely appled to three families Scyliorhinidae, Dalatiidae and Squalidae). Mexicans are less secretive about dogfish or cazó
. I often saw them in fish markets. One time I asked the vendor to let me touch one.
Aspera leaves are exactly like sharkskin. I would describe the feel as buttered sandpaper. It is rough but somehow, smoothly rough. I can understand that a fast swimming shark could give a human skin burns by just passing by.
Visitors to my garden, after touching the aspera leaves look at the plant with and almost fearful respect. I love my hydranges but I specially love my asperas. They thrive in all but absolute shade (they need water, though) and they have no pests or diseases. hydrangeasMore hydrangeasand more hydrangeasand even more and just one more
Lauren Stewart - The Unfurling Of A Child's Personality
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Rebecca has gone to Toronto with her other grandmother for nine days. This means that when we open our garden to the Vancouver Rose Society this Sunday she will not be around to hostess and identify the roses to the visitors. We will miss her.
But there is a positive side to this. We are going to have Lauren with us on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. She is going to have a couple of sleepovers. She will have no competition. On Sunday she will wear her flowered dress and perhaps ID a few roses. It's not important. What is important and has become an exquisite pleasure is to be able to discover the unfurling of her child's personality. Rosemary and I can almost see it, very much like in that pioneering 1953 Disney film The Living Desert
where flowers opened like magic.
For about 4 years of her 5 years Lauren has been standoffish. Suddenly she likes to snuggle and show affection. I lap it up. Rosemary and I will miss Rebecca but we will enjoy every moment we have with Lauren.
Here you see Lauren (last Friday) at Pacific Shores Resort & Spa in Parksville with a specimen of Meconopsis betonicifolia
, otherwise known as the Himalayan poppy.
Romance On The BC Ferries
Monday, June 23, 2008
Except for the problems of collisions and sinkings I would think that being a captain of a BC Ferry would be just about the same as captain of a barge. I would not think it to be romantic. Some many years ago writer Ben Metcalf
and I went back and forth all day on the Queen of Coquitlam without ever getting off. It would be many years later before I would get off in Nanaimo and visit the town. At the time the Queen of Coquitlam was state of the art and her claims to fame were identical bridges fore and aft. The captain confessed to us that they were so identical that sometimes he had to think, to exactly know where he was.
I dislike ferries because when I take them it is usually for a photo assignment where I cannot possibly lose a sailing. The stress consumes me so I go early and I end up waiting in my car for at least an hour.
I like ferries because they hold me captive and I am able to read for the duration of one hour and a half in tranquility.
I dislike ferries because I always run into someone I know and I have to put my book away.
But I love ferries because they make my photographs of my daughters (and now my granddaughters) look so romantic. The man who knew and knows about this is artist Jim McKenzie who lives on Mayne Island. In 1986 when Rosemary and I had more loose and spare change in our pockets we commissioned McKenzie for one of his then signature paintings which had as the location a BC Ferry usually sailing through Active Pass as in this reproduction of his painting here. That's Ale (now 39) on the left and Hilary (36, Rebecca and Lauren's mother). The original is on our dining room wall and there is not a day that I don't look at it and smile.
Today I picked up the slides I took over the weekend during our "holiday" in Parksville. These are two pictures of Rebecca in our trip back on board the Queen of Oak Bay.
I do hope McKenzie still finds the time to get the inspiration that I get on board BC Ferries, Sunshine Breakfast, be damned!
And that's Ale when she was 14 on the Bowen Island ferry.
Helena Bonham Carter's Bee-Stung Lips
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Today Rosemary, Lauren, Rebecca and I returned from three days at Pacific Shores Resort & Spa. I am to write about this experience for a magazine from Rebecca's point of view. It will be fun. Lauren (5) had to call her mother to tell her that they had a separate room with its own TV and a fridge that had real ice in it. Our rooms had three TVs as that third one was a bigger flat screen (all three were flat screens) in the sitting area. Paradoxically the pleasant and fun weekend was dampened somewhat (in a positive way) in that I saw Marion Bridge
, Wiebke von Carolsfeld's film based on Daniel MacIvor's
play. Best of all this depressingly wonderful film starred Molly Parker
. It was further dampened by the strange 2003 Australian film (Michael Petroni) Till Human Voices Wake Us
with Helena Bonham Carter.
The former one depressed me and the latter gave me nightmares last night. Today I thought on how TV and films can affect how we perceive a holiday and a weekend. It made me think of TV and my recollection of it.
I first saw a TV with something happening it in 1952 when Susan Stone (the daughter of the GM CEO in Buenos Aires sent his father's Cadillac to pick me up for a day at her home (a mansion). That initial TV program was a dull documentary on oil exploration. I remember the oil derricks. By 1955 I was addicted to watching Boston Blackie
on our brand new Zenith in Mexico City. My addiction to the program coincided with a month-long binge on Delaware Punch. When I married Rosemary in 1968 I remember obsessing over Star Treck
. In Mexico City it was called La Odisea del Espacio
. It was dubbed into Mexico City Spanish (¡Chihuahua! ¡No están atacando los clingones! ). It was only in 1975 that I saw my first Star Treck in Vancouver in English. I became most confused when I saw my hero, Captain Kirk in Super Valu ads. I had no idea he was Canadian. Over the weekend on Bravo I observed that my captain has become a baffoon flogging fibre bars.
It was an add on dyslexia that I saw on TV sometime in 1977 that clued me in to the fact that I suffered this disorder. When my daughters arrived from school I did not hid my fondness for watching Gilligan's Island
Rosemary always wanted a TV in our bedroom. I relented for a few months a few years ago when she had a foot operation. Her inaugural TV watching (Hitchcock's Vertigo) was marred by the death of her black cat (Mosca) of a heart seizure.
After that we compromised and we brought up the TV from our "TV room" in the cold basement to our den. It has been hard since to steer Rebecca or Lauren into the garden or to accompany us to VanDusen when they are watching their Saturday programs. The TV in the den has helped us choosy about the films we watch so we check the on line website of Turner Classic Movies
This weekend's flat screen TV experience makes me wonder why all the actors had pasty complexions that looked Photoshoped with that special tool fo the wedding photography trade called Diffuse Glow.
I survived Friday night's viewing of Marion Bridge
,but after Saturday's nights exposure of Till Human Voices Wake Us
I felt a need to read T. S. Elliot's poem, Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
and I renewed my admiration for anything with Helena Bonham Carter. In the NY Times review (Stphen Holden hatet the Australian film but loved the Canadian one) he writes of her, "Ms. Bonham Carter, with her bee-stung lips and witchy hair, has never looked more like an Aubrey Beardsley fantasy than she does in the role of the movie's resident sea-girl, Ruby."
How director Petroni interprets the last line of the Elliot's poem:
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea/By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown/Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
into the perplexing, complicated by ultimately satisfying ending did as much to unsettle me as in the last few minutes of Marion Bridge when Molly Parker looks at her father (ravaged by Alzheimer's) coldly (no actress that I know of can muster such a terryfing coldness and aloofness) and in an instant you know the real tragedy of this film.
And yes the weekend, in spite of laughing little girls and being taught to kayak by Rebecca (we didn't sink or turn over once!) was made sad, but all the better by TV.