Plata & The Unnamed Red Rose
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Rebecca and Lauren's new flowered dresses (made to order) arrived from Vancouver Island yesterday so I decided to photograph the girls with some of the roses of the garden. The problem is that the girls chose the patterns for the dresses. While Rebecca selected a mauve flowered pattern that goes with most of the roses and blends in the garden Lauren chose a flourescent green coloured dress that clashed with everything. We managed to find a miniature rose that looked fine, called Rosa
'Green Ice'. These pictures will appear soon in this blog.
Rebecca was choosing the roses for her portraits and with my secateurs in hand she snipped her favourites, or at least her favourites among the ones that were in bloom today. She asked me about a red tea rose. I told her that it and Rosa
'Honor' had come with the house in 1986 and that I have never had the heart to get rid of them. The red rose has no scent and it blooms sporadically. I have a brand new deep red rose Rosa 'Crimson Glory'
that blooms freely and with a very sweet scent. I tried to explain to Rebecca how I could not just dig up the old red rose and turf it. I am not about to let nature take it course and having it die by not taking care of it. Somehow the plant was a choice of the previous owner
of our garden. Yet space is at a premium in our garden, particularly a sunny space where roses really thrive. I should get rid of the nameless red rose.
But I keep thinking about Brother Edwin Reggio CSC
who taught me about the Catholic church's version of the different levels of life and their corresponding complexity. Without mentioning the ambivalent (which side of existence are you guys are?) nature of viruses his list went as follows:
3. Mosses and lichens.
5. Fish, insects
5. Animals 9body and rudimentary spirit)
6. Humans (body and a soul)
7. Angels (no body but pure spirit)
8. God (Pure and the highest spririt of them all)
This list has kept me satisfied for most of my years. And then I began to read in our local papers and found out that the whales of our aquarium were very smart and almost human. Then it became known that the local pacific octopus was uncommonly smart. Any day now there will be calls to release the super smart and super cute Vancouver Aquarium sea otters.
Could it be that my female cat Plata (seen here) is as smart as she looks when she stares at me? She is affectionate and walks around the block with us every day. I remember the other three cats that I have buried in our garden (Rebecca is annoyed that I cannot mark the exact spots). Are they any different from humans? Are we any different from them?
In the end I explained to Rebecca that the unnamed red rose to me is no different from Plata. It might not stare at me or walk around the block with me. But every year it does its best to please me. In its own quiet and scentless way is tells me, "I am here. Notice me. Take care of me." And so the red rose will remain even if her space is a premium space. In some ways she is just like Plata. I have never liked the idea of acquiring a kitten as oposed to full grown cat. Rosemary's dear black cat Mosca (who had a heart attack on our bed while Rosemary was watching Vertigo)
was the exception. Both Rosemary and I enjoy the uncertainty of acquiring a cat that somebody else has owned. We get our cats from the SPCA and we like the idea of learning to get along while discovering the already set personality of the cat. We adapt to it, and in some situations the cat will adapt to us. Plata was not affectionate in the beginning but she is so now.
The Towel Queen
Friday, July 25, 2008
A couple of weeks ago when we went swimming in Paul's Richmond pool, Rebecca wrapped her wet hair in a towel. I immediately saw a good picture and took it. Rebecca is now about to be 11 and she is fashion conscious. She told me that if I ever put that picture in this blog she would get very angry.
I have been working on a fashion shoot for a local magazine called VLM. The photos and my story are running in September. Stylist Maureen Willick (I call her my "secret weapon" as now does VLM editor Bob Mercer) came to the house today to sort out the pictures that I took. She knows how the clothing should fit and rejected quite a few. I showed her this towel photo to her with Rebecca present. Maureen mentioned something about a 60s look and Rebecca smiled. I have a feeling that I can now post this picture with no further repercussions.
The Adirondacks & Cherry Jell-O
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Although there has been no fear of rain in recent weeks I am always ready to run into the garden at the first sign of any precipitation and haul our two Adirondacks to dry safety. They are valuable to me in a nostalgia that seeps into me through my memory of the original owner, our neighbour, who died a few years ago, in his 80s, while doing what he loved best, golfing. I have no other nostalgia or attachment to the chairs as I never lived in New England and Adirondacks are not common in Latin American gardens.
But our Adirondacks have been useful in taking pictures of my granddaughters. I have written about it before (links below). A pattern is beginning to happen which coincides with the fact that the punctilious Lauren who is precise in everything has the one flaw of not being able to keep her mouth clean. I was puzzled by these slides until I showed them to Rosemary who just said, "Cherry Jell-0."The AdirondacksThe Adirondacks Again
Mexican Leg Of Pork Sandwiches - N & Indiana Dance The Tango
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
One of the delicacies of Mexican cousine is the lowly "torta de pierna". The really good ones have to be ordered on the street or in "changarros" or little holes in the wall. These are sandwiches made from a specially shaped (sort of like a turtle shell) small French loaf called a "telera". The pierna
part of the torta (sandwich in Mexican Spanish but cake in Argentine Spanish) means leg but my Real Academia On Line Dictionary or RAE
states that not only is a pierna
the lower extremity of a human being but also the thigh of birds and quadrupeds. That delicious Mexican torta de pierna
then is a a pork thigh sandwich. The really good ones have to be slathered in butter, mayonnaise AND aguacate (avocado).
As we ate our shepherd's pie last night, the evening heat made me remember Mexico and its food. It didn't take long to move from a pork pierna
to a human one. Pierna is Spanish for leg. While my RAE dictionary will state that birds have piernas and these are their thighs we all know that South American ostriches have patas not piernas. A dog has patas as do cats. Strangely enough the patitas (or little animal feet) is what we in Spanish call the sides of my glasses.
Argentines borrow gamba
from Italian when they want to talk about women's legs. They might say, "¡Esa mina tiene unas gambas de locura!" This translates as, "What fantastic legs that broad (mina) has!"
While I have known many women in my life who had and have beautiful legs
(my wife Rosemary
and my mother come to mind) there are two that have legs to dance the tango with. And dance the tango I did with them. One is N and the other Indiana
Both Indiana and N are close to 6ft tall and few men were disposed to dance with them when I used to dance Argentine tango a few years ago. I knew better. Both women had these extremely long legs. They wore fishnets (I am barely able to type here!) and their dresses were tight with a slit in the right place. When I danced with them nobody noticed my efficient (I never went past that ) dancing. The other bonus of dancing with tall women is that in tango you must dance close. When you are that close there is no room for your head if you are short. You are "forced" to rest it on the woman's chest! I savoured every moment that I danced with this pair who happened to be friends. One of them introduced me to both her husband and her wife in one
tango evening. I told her, "No matter what you want to call it that sounds like bigamy to me. "
Most men, if lucky, have one good idea in their lifetime. I may be extra fortunate in that I had two. The first one involved taking photographs of 18 different women, one at a time, in a bath tub of water. I had a show of these
My second one revolved on the problem of taking tango pictures that had not really been taken before. I convinced Indiana to come to my studio and I photographed her using my ring flash. She was wearing fishnets and zapatos de charol
or patent leather shoes. She was not wearing anything else. The session was so successful that I decided that since it takes two to tango we would invite N into the formula.
Here are some of the pictures. I have had to crop them (It was excruciating!) so as to pass my personal blog decorum.
Mexico - The Smell Of Hot Humid Earth
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
As I watered my wilting garden today in the somewhat reduced heat in comparison to what it was in Lillooet last week I could almost imagine being in Mexico.
Thirty seven years after having left Mexico (I have returned quite a few times) I still feel the pull of the dry earth of the winter season and the smell of humidity in the summer. I especially remember that smell and the noises of nocturnal insects when Rosemary and I would drive down to Veracruz on a Friday night as we did quite often. We would leave Mexico City in the late afternoon and within three hours we would go down from 2240 meters to sea level. Passing through the capital of the state of Veracruz, Xalapa, the change seemed almost immediate. The humidity was palpable as I rolled down my window. We could smell that hot humid earth. The port city of Veracruz beckoned a few miles away. Arriving in Veracruz my mother would greet us, sometime around midnight and Rosemary would instantly go for a cold shower. At the time she minded the heat. Because the air is so much denser at sea level noises seemed (and they were) louder. Mexico City altitude muffles sound except perhaps the incessant car horns and rumbling diesel buses. In Veracruz the smell of humidity was coloured with the smell of salt and the port. Sometimes Rosemary and I would go for a stroll on the Malecón which is what avenues that hug beaches in any Spanish speaking country all called. One time, when we returned we were greeted by hundreds of flying cockroaches in the bathroom. In the tropics you learn to live with insects.
It was last week that Hilary accompanied us with her daughters to visit Ale in Lillooet. Both Ale (Alexandra) and Hilary were born in Mexico but Ale is the most Mexican of both. Even her Spanish is peppered with the chilango
dialect of Mexico City. But Hilary instantly raved and loved the 32 degrees and never complained. I think both of us would have enjoyed even a few more degrees.
Rosemary now admits that she quickly adapted and loved the heat (40) that we experienced in Mérida, Yucatán last year.
While trying to find some misfiled transparencies (I did not find them) I found thre strips of b+w negatives of very fast 120 film. One of them caught my eye. Rosemary says I took them in the winter of 2003. When I look at the picture here of Rebecca I think, smell and almost feel that Mexico heat and I long for it.
I took the picture at the MacMillan Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park. I look at Rebecca and that maguey and I can imagine the Pico de Orizaba (also called Citlaltépetl), Mexico's highest volcano looming over Xalapa, Veracruz. It would seem to me that perhaps Rosemary, Rebecca, Lauren and I will have to experience it. Imagining it is not enough.
The other picture is the real thing. That's Rosemary and Ale (she was about 1) sitting in a Malecón bench in Veracruz during a norte or wind storm. When nortes came with the dry winds and sand would get under the doors I was transported to my childhood memories of Beau Geste
but then that's another story.
The Bad Ramona - The Good Ramona & The Doubtful Ramona
Monday, July 21, 2008
The Genus Rosa
includes many plants that would be familiar to most such as cherries, plums, apples and pears. And of course it includes Rosa
or the rose. The genus is further divided into several subgenera. One of them Eurosa
a includes a very small Section
. This Section is represented by one species Rosa laevigata
and a few cultivars or sports. My rose bible, Peter Beales' Classic Roses
list only five cultivars. Since there are thousands of roses this particular Section: Laevigatae
is awflly sparse. These roses are described by Beales as:Growth sprawling or climbing with hooked, irregular thorns. Leaves large, mostly of 3, rarely 5, leaflets. Almost evergreen. Flowers produced singly. Hips, when formed have persistent sepals.
My grandmother used to call me el Príncipe de Gales
(the Prince of Wales) because I was spoiled and demanded to be served. Part of the reason is that from my birth until my early 20s we always had help at home. In Argentina we called them mucamas
and in Mexico criadas
. In Buenos Aires I recall three, Zelia
and Ramona. The first I insulted and she left in a huff with her husband Abelardo. The second was my favourite as she was very patient with me and would cook her carrot soufflé when I asked for it. Her famous breaded veal cutlets (always on Tuesdays) brought my cousin Robby (mentioned in the second link) who had a special fondness for them. Ramona was loud and big and did not give me any slack. I didn't like her.
For the last 6 or 7 years I have had a mystery rose in my garden. It has fragrant cerise blooms which seem to be around most of the time. I know that John Tuytle
sold it to me. For a few years I tried to get the English rose, Rosa 'Emily' from him and every time it was some sort of surprise. This mystery rose could be one of those. Yesterday I remembered that I had purchased a Rosa 'Ramona' a sport of Rosa "Anemone Rose', a sport of Rosa laevigata
. I suddenly got very excited as I thought I had an ID for this wonderful rose that blooms freely and as seen here in a cluster of 8 blooms. But when I read the description in Peter Beales it says it is a single rose with five petals. My 'Ramon' has at least 20. Could it be a double, double sport of Ramona that Tuytle unwittingly sold me? I will never know. I will have to keep enjoying this rose without a name. She is, in any case, the good Ramona!
Both Ramona and my mystery rose have superb golden stamens. You cannot see them here because I scanned the roses in the evening. Most roses close in the evening!
Lloyd McNary's Farm In Texas Creek, BC & Elk Sausages
Sunday, July 20, 2008
We returned from Lillooet yesterday afternoon and this time the trip back seemed to be longer for the girls. Rosemary thought that because Hilary had come along the girls did not have the expectation of telling their mother all the things they had done when they got back and saw her.
What they didn't do is ride Lloyd McNary's horses Leo (the beautiful white horse seen here.) and Sunny at his farm in nearby Texas Creek. They had done just that back in June. Rebecca was quite angry at Ale for this and Ale had to explain that McNary had visitors from Alberta with many children and that he was perhaps not ready to entertain two more. So we invited McNary for our Saturday morning pankcake breakfast and he brought along some elk sausages he had made from an elk he shot last year. Rosemay, of course did not try them. We barbequed them and I did not find them gamy at all. The children enjoyed the stories of the over 80 McNary and he promised them that the next time they came they would be able to ride his horses.