To Speak In Verse - A Tertulia Over TeaSaturday, September 25, 2010
For better or for worse what follows, follows, as is (in a meander), because as I have once stated, space in a real print magazine is limited but on the web the real estate is infinite. Stuff I have written for them (magazines) and for newspapers have had to be maneuvered with one of the best inventions of the 20th century and that is Microsoft Word’s “Word Count”. Rosemary repeatedly tells me when I am working with my blog, “Where is the money?” There is no money but there is the benefit that I can write what I like at whatever length I want and I can illustrate it to my heart’s content.
Yesterday Saturday was a day in which most of what happened did so because Lauren and Rebecca’s mother, Hilary did not read a birthday party invitation correctly. She told us that Lauren had to go (and I was to take her and pick her up) to a party between 2 and 4. Since I usually pick up Hilary at work at 6 and bring her home for dinner with her daughters and my wife, I had to plan accordingly. It was around 12 that on my way to buy some vegetables to make that evening’s planned stir-fry it occurred to me that with fall with us I had to record that with portraits of the granddaughters in our garden. I stopped the car and called Rosemary to tell the girls to bring appropriate clothing.
At about 12:30 the girls arrived. Lauren was dressed as a princess, per instructions from the birthday girl’s parents. Rebecca had left her chosen dress at home. The party was to be from 4 to 6. This meant that Hilary would have to find herself to our home by bus. It meant that I really could not photograph the girls together. I meant I would have to drive back to Rebecca’s to find her dress (it had been left at the foot of the stairs).
The garden was sunny. There were few spots with low contrast with which I could use the limited capabilities of my iPhone t advantage. I decided to photograph Lauren with Casa, the big cat. They bond. But it was not so easy. When one looked good the other one didn’t. When Lauren was in the right pose, Casa would move away. I did the best I could. At 4 I took Lauren to the party and picked up Rebecca’s dress.
When I returned I found that Rebecca had fallen asleep in her mother’s old bedroom. She was having a siesta. When she woke up, startlingly she said, “Papi can we have tea?” This meant that I would make a large pot of good tea and serve it, in our living room, in my mother’s best from her tea cup collection. At least one of them anyway as the cup with the fuchsias I bought at the Empress gift shop for Rosemary, quite a few years ago when I had traveled there to photograph some politician I do not remember. But I do remember that my companion was makeup artist Nicole Scriabin and she approved of my purchase.
Rebecca came down. I had asked her to put on the dress. She did not and showed up in shorts and a T shirt. “Rebecca I thought it would have been nice to have tea all dressed up.” I should have not said anything considering that I was wearing jeans and sported a three-day beard.
We sat down and I told here we would conversar. I explained that we often use words without being aware of their provenance and original meaning.
(Del lat. conversāre).
1. intr. Dicho de una o de varias personas: Hablar con otra u otras.
2. intr. Mil. Hacer conversión.
3. intr. desus. Vivir, habitar en compañía de otros.
4. intr. desus. Dicho de una o más personas: Tratar, comunicar y tener amistad con otra u otras.
5. tr. Ec. narrar
In Spanish it literally means to speak in verse. And I particularly like the third meaning from my on line dictionary of the Real Academia Española. It states: To live, to inhabit, in the company of others!
I told Rebecca that when I arrived to Mexico City I was repelled by a workd used by Mexicans who eschew conversar. They opt for the cranky-sounding platicar. A plática can be a formal lecture given by a professor. For me the word is much to high-falutin. To this day I cringe every time my chilanga (one from Mexico City) daughter Ale insists on using this word over the more poetic one.
At this point Rosemary interjected with the word charlar which is the equivalent in Spanish to chat.
(Del it. ciarlare).
1. tr. parlar (‖ revelar, decir lo que se debe callar).
2. intr. Conversar, platicar.
3. intr. coloq. Hablar mucho, sin sustancia o fuera de propósito.
I especially note its third citation which says: To talk a lot without substance of purpose.
At this point I found it necessary to bring in a work much used by the Spanish. This is tertulia.
(De or. inc.).
1. f. Reunión de personas que se juntan habitualmente para conversar o recrearse.
2. f. En los antiguos teatros de España, corredor en la parte más alta.
3. f. En los cafés, lugar destinado a mesas de juegos de billar, cartas, dominó, etc.
4. f. Arg. y Ur. luneta (‖ asiento de teatro).
5. f. Cuba. Conjunto de localidades situadas en el piso alto de un cine o teatro.
estar de ~.
1. loc. verb. coloq. conversar (‖ hablar).
It is defined as a reunion of people (usually men as women would have been acused of meeting to gossip and never to discuss lofty topics!) who meet habitually to converse. In Spain this usually happened in cafes and men would discuss such topics as, “Was Magellan the first person to circumnavigate the world seing that he was killed in the island of Mactán in the Philippines?” Its second meaning is interesting, too. It is the highest corridor in the old Spanish theatres of the golden age. The nobility would be up there and the masses down there. Now in such places as the Buenos Aires Teatro Colón, the opera enthusiasts who stand up in the upper stratosphere or gallinero (hen coop) are usually the ones who know opera while the well dressed parvenus below show off their jewels. That aspect of the lofty tertulia has changed.
Perhaps our Saturday afternoon teas might become little tertulias and Rebecca and I can discuss stuff that is not in the periphery of things and people Ga Ga.
Rebecca did put on her dress. While she was getting ready she had somehow patted down her glorious hair. It looked flat. She came down with her hair up. The red dress was a dress from her ballet final performance of the year with the Arts Umbrella. In fact Lauren’s princess dress had been an earlier incarnation of such an event and Rebecca may have worn it when she was 7.
I took pictures in several locations with my Mamiya with two backs. One was loaded with Kodak Plus-X (which I will process today Sunday) and the other with Ektachrome. Because time was at a premium since I had to pick up Lauren at 6 I knew I could not set up my studio lights in the garden. I used natural lighting which was falling fast in intensity. Toward the end I asked Rebecca to sit in our garden bench where I took the picture that you see here. It made my heart leap as it shows a talent in someone who has learned by virtue of having posed for me since she can remember. I look her and with my hand I gesture here up or down, or to the side and she moves her face accordingly with precision. Such talent must soon have to be channeled. I hope I am around to see where it goes.
I would like to end this meander with the beautiful Spanish word compartir. It means to share and few of us ever consider its original meaning of breaking with (as in sharing one's bread with a stranger or friend).
(Del lat. compartīri).
1. tr. Repartir, dividir, distribuir algo en partes.
2. tr. Participar en algo.
For as long as we can Rosemary and I will share our Saturdays and our Mondays with our daughter and granddaughters without forgetting whence they came from, and, that were they go, might just be without us.