The Simple Things In Life & A Manzanilla PapirusaThursday, January 28, 2010
Yesterday I attended an informal gathering at the Irish Heather on Carrall Street. The occasion was the visit to Vancouver of our friend Chandler Keeler. He now lives in the south of France. He wears a beret and has become pleasantly Frenchified. He has had an idyllic existence of taking pictures, eating good French food and sipping on good wines. In Vancouver Chandler used to run one of the best Ektachrome development labs in Vancouver called Quad. If any of us considered ourselves to be serious professionals we gave Quad our business. I gave Quad my business. When things started changing with the advent of digital technology Chandler saw that a warmer climate elsewhere might just be his ticket.
His peripatetic life in France was shattered by the shocking news that he had cancer of the esophagus. Chandler was pleasantly surprised (under the terrible circumstances) that the French Government was going to do all possible to help him as if he were a citizen of the country. The prognosis for Chandler is still in question.
On Monday Chandler dropped in. While savouring a half bottle of Lustau’s Manzanilla Papirusa ( a very dry sherry that hails from San Lucar de Barrameda in Spain) Chandler matter of factly informed us (Rosemary, Lauren and Rebecca) that he was in town to close his safety deposit box and deal with his will. I was afraid to ask. Chandler looked very good (he is a handsome man of the urbane type). He looked just as good at the Irish Heather where we met with veteran (in all the meaning of that word) photographers Hans Sipma, Colin Goldie and Mike Paris. We had a few beers and chatted about the whereabouts of other photographers of our generation.
It was last night that I found out that I had an unpleasant reputation that preceded me. It seems I have been a ranter all these years. Those present at the Irish Heather seemed to notice that something had changed. I promptly showed them my Timex that was strapped to my right wrist. I changed its location in the beginning of the year vowing to be kinder, gentler and less inclined to rant. My Irish Heather companions were disappointed but as soon as any others had the opportunity to malign some vacant colleague of ours they caught themselves and taking my new found kinder gentler self they, too curtailed their criticism.
I would have thought that last night’s gathering would be a morose and depressing one. I went prepared for just that. But to the contrary and to my surprise it was all the opposite. I had a good time and I left with a smile on my face as I wished Chandler all the best. Somehow Chandler was a catalyst to bring the best out of us.
As I looked at a digital contact sheet this morning of a processed roll of Kodak Tri-X pushed to 800 ISO I spotted this picture of Lauren and our 20 year-old cat Toby. I smiled and it seemed to prolong that wellbeing from last night. I am reading Lauren’s favourite book (and mine, too) Nothing by Mick Inkpen about an old, beat up and lost plush toy that has forgotten that it is a cat. That it ultimately finds itself with the help of a happy tabby cat called Toby ads to the pleasure of reading the book.
For many years since we moved to our present house in 1986 we have had an old, dusty sofa that we had purchased when we lived in Burnaby around 1977. A few months ago I decided it had to go but we knew we could not afford the leather sofa that Rosemay had set her heart on. One day, by sheer impulse I told Rosemary I wanted to brouse in the Sally Anne store in Kerrisdale. It was there that I spotted a pristine sofa with a strange pattern and colours that mimicked an Emily Carr painting. I enquired. It was $49.00. I was further informed that delivery would be $35 and it could happen that very day. Rosemary said her usual, “Let’s think about it.” Just for once I made the decision and paid. The man who delivered our sofa a mere 50 minutes later told me he would unload our old sofa for $25!
Since the sofa was installed in our den we have all gravitated again to it to read, watch a bit of TV and enjoy the fireplace. But always in competition for space with our Toby who likes the sofa and the room and now spends most of the afternoon there. If you happen to sit on the sofa, Toby will sit on your lap. He has a fondness for sitting on Lauren’s lap.
As I look at the picture I feel that while I don’t live in the south of France I do believe that I may have something in common with Chandler Keeler and that is our mutual appreciation for the simple things in life.
Chandler Keeler's picture was taken by his Norwegian friend Torsten Mogenson. You can find Chandler's web page here. The picture of Toby, Lauren and me was taken by Lauren's sister Rebecca.
and more on pale, dry sherry