Ferry To Salt Spring Island
Saturday, July 10, 2010
On Saturday we (Rosemary, Rebecca and Lauren) headed for Salt Spring Island to visit Celia Duthie and her husband Nick Hunt. I was particularly looking forward to the one evening stay because the Duthies (the Hunt’s) would provide more of that parallel education that I find so important for my two granddaughters. The ferry always offers the opportunity to read (and of course avoid that most terrible Sunshine Breakfast). Since it was 2 in the afternoon when we boarded the ferry breakfast was not in our agenda. Lauren and Rebecca insisted on $5 ice cream scoops (one!) at the Tsawassen Ferry Terminal market.
On our ship I explained to the girls that it would navigate by,
the very place where artist Jim MacKenzie had photographed and then painted our two teenage daughters, Ale and Hilary back in 1986. It would seem that Active Pass still holds its magic as the captain told us that there were killer whales frolicking off the starboard bow. Both Rebecca and Lauren marveled at the sight.
I asked Lauren to pose for me outside but Lauren is not comfortable in bright situations and she closes her eyes or squints. I will have to wait for her to perhaps outgrow this problem.
Rebecca has no problem and she posed for my cell phone. As I look at these pictures, which in spite of the limitations of the iPhone I still find exquisite I wonder how I could possibly get that effect with film. I will have to try!
Romance on the BC Ferries
Death By Mushrooms & Autoerotic Asphyxiation
Friday, July 09, 2010
| Nathan Wittaker, Michael Jarvis,|
Craig Tomlinson & Paul Luchkow
In 1975 before I moved to Vancouver from Mexico City with my wife Rosemary and daughter Ale and Hilary, Hilary’s godfather and my friend told me (in Spanish) “The fact that you are going to a country where people are white does not necessarily mean they will be civilized.” My friend, Raul Guerrero Montemayor
is an urbane man who speaks at least 8 languages. He was educated in Switzerland. His idea of a vacation is to visit Budapest or Prague. Through the years I have come to conclude that my friend Guerrero Montemayor may have been right initially but that Vancouver has come a long way and in many ways is ahead with a variety of richness of culture to other cities.
It was some four years ago that my two Argentine painter friends were bragging to me that a long lost Gloria
by Handel was going to performed at the venerable Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. I was extremely smug when I pointed it out to them that I had heard that Gloria
, months before, performed by our very own Vancouver-based Pacific Baroque Opera.
My daughter Ale brought me a copy, not too long ago, of a Mexico City Sunday newspaper. It had two pages just for dance and a couple more for theatre. I was impressed until I began to notice that dance was all 19th century ballet chestnuts and the theatre consisted of translations of plays that were terrible in their original English. The best I could find was Graham Greene’s Travels with My Aunt
In Vancouver, in spite of severe arts grant cuts the dance scene and the theatre scene is alive with new dance and new plays that are experimental in nature. The only medium (and I may not be all that fair in my criticism here) that lapses is our CBC Radio which it would seem that every time I turn it on all I hear in the morning is often repeated stuff from 19th century composers. When I go to performances of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra
or by concerts sponsored by Early Music Vancouver
they feature the works of often obscure (unfairly so) composers of the 17th century or as was the case today at St Mark’s Trinity Church, music by composers that as a lay person I never knew existed. The Turning Point Ensemble
part of Vancouver's exciting New Music scene performed recently two wonderful concerts that are rarely mounted anywhere:
The Unanswered Question
And it is not frequent that one can hear all (6) of Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. Early Music Vancouver
Last night Rosemary and I attended a performance of a trio in a series called Summer SonataSeries. What we heard was the last for this year. The trio featured Paul Luchkow on baroque violin,
, fortepiano (on a Craig Tomlinson
copy  of a Johann Walther, Vienna c. 1800 fortepiano) and Nathan Whittaker
on violoncello. One of the pieces, Frantisek Kotzvara’s Piano Trio in F major, op. 23 “The Battle of Prague”
needed percussion and that was taken care of by Daniel Tones
The intimate evening began with a Piano Trio in F major, op. 16 no.4 by Johann Schobert.
Schobert was probably born in Silesia, although some say he was born in Nuremberg. He moved to Paris in 1760 or 1761 and worked for the Duke of Conti. During the following years he published his instrumental music at his own expense. His comic opera La garde-chasse et la braconnier
met with no success in 1767. Schobert came into contact with the Mozart family when they visited Paris in 1764. Leopold Mozart reported that his children played Schobert's works with ease, and that it made Schobert furious. Leopold called him 'Low and not at all what he should be'. The young Mozart was apparently greatly impressed (as a 7-year old) by the D Major sonata of Op. 3, and imitated it and others of Schobert in his Parisian and English sonatas; he based the second movement of his second piano concerto (K.39) on Schobert's sonata op. 17 no. 2. Mozart furthermore taught his Paris students Schobert's sonatas in 1778. Schobert died (1767) in Paris, along with his wife and one of his children, after mistakenly eating poisonous mushrooms.
The performance of the until-last-night unknown (for me) composer startled me as the music sounded “more Mozart than Mozart.” Of this composer on-line web encyclopedias say:
Schobert's music is remarkable for its forward-looking formal and stylistic features, notably in the keyboard music with accompanying instruments.
What that really means is that Schobert was a member of the avant garde of his time and when other composers still with the baroque or in the C.P. Bach period, he was ahead of them all. If I may be forgiven I would say hat Schobert is to Mozart what Irish composer John Field (pioneered the piano nocturne) was to Frederic Chopin.
Some say that Schobert may have been as talented a Mozart but he died young at age 37. Why he died is splendidly described by the web-based Mushroom Chronicles:
It is more likely the case, that mushroom poisoning occurs as a result of volition, the decision to consume a mushroom of dubious identification resting with the victim. There have been occasions where arrogant decisiveness has overridden caution. The most notable case is that of Johann Schobert, a composer who was employed by the Prince of Conti in Paris in the latter half of the 17th Century. He wrote harpsichord concertos, opera and sonatas that purportedly served as the basis for some of the later work by Mozart, his contemporary. Schobert may have had a talent equal to that of Mozart; we shall never know, as he succumbed to mushroom poisoning. According to the historical account, he had gathered some mushrooms in Pré-Saint-Gervais near Paris with his family and proceeded to a restaurant to have the chef prepare them. When he was told that they were poisonous, he proceeded to a second restaurant with like result. Undeterred, he went home to Paris and made mushroom soup for dinner. He was joined in death by his wife, one of his children, and a friend, a doctor; fittingly, it was the doctor who had proffered the mushroom identification in the first place.
After the beautiful Schobert piece, the trio (now a quartet) tackled Prague-born (1730) František Kočvara's (known as Frantisek Kotzwara in London) Piano Trio in F major, op. 23 “The Battle of Prague”. Kotzwara was not only a composer but a virtuoso double bass player who played for The King’s Theatre in London. This trio, written to include percussion, is about the Battle of Prague or Battle of Štěrboholy fougnt on May 6, 1757. Frederick the Great's 67,000 Prussians forced 60,000 Austrians to retreat, but having lost 14,300 men Frederick decided he was not strong enough to attack Prague. Prague was saved.
The trio has many interesting features. Fortepianist, Michael Jarvis explained that his right had represented the Prussians while the Austrian Imperialists were his left. During the thick of the battle (within the piece) his hands cross and the Prussians my be the left hand and the opponents the right. The instruments imitated cavalry charges, trumpets, cannon fire, kettle drums, swords, etc. But the most startling was the 6th movement (8 in all) which was a fine orchestration of God Save the King
(quite a few years before the more famous one, 1813 by Beethoven in his Op 91, Wellington’s Victory
During much of the nineteenth century The Battle Of Prague
, was one of the most often played and popular of all concert pieces. Audiences were much more likely to hear it than a sonata by Mozart, Beethoven or Schubert. It features in the literature of many writers; including Jane Austen and Mark Twain (see blog posting below). The original version was written for piano, violin, cello and optional drums.
A couple of years ago fortepianist, Michael Jarvis found a book in an old bookstore in Victoria. The book, a record of events at Killghly Castle in Ireland, c1810, by a Miss Despard mentioned, amongst the concerts given at the castle, the Battle of Prague
. It was here that Jarvis noted that it was a trio with percussion. By dogged search Jarvis found the original orchestration at the US Library of Congress. According to Jarvis, the Battle of Prague
we heard last night my be the first known modern performance of Kotzwara’s gem.
The third piece of the evening was an unusual Haydn Sonata, his Sonata in E-flat Major, op 75, no.3. Hob. 15/29.
All in all the evening was a magnificent collection of surprises. In the photograph here (an iPhone portrait), clockwise from bottom left, Paul Luchkow, Michael Jarvis, Nathan Wiittaker and Craig Tomlinson. Craig Tomlison is the builder of the fortepiano of which only a glimpse shows in the back. The percussionist, Daniel Tone was not around when I took the picture.
If you are curious about not only fortepianos but also harpsichords and you want to enjoy a concert in an intimate situation try this one
on Sunday July 25 at UBC School of Music and it not only features Michael Jarvis (on the harpsichord) but an excellent ensemble with one of my favourite sopranos, Ellen Hargis
And Raúl Guerrero Montemayor, you should come and visit me from Mexico City. You will see that indeed there is civilization here!
On 2 September 1793 Kotzwara paid a visit to a brothel at Vine Street no. 5 in St. Martin's, in London where he met with prostitute Susannah Hill. Following dinner he asked her to cut off his testicles, to which service she refused. Kotzwara then strangled himself on a rope hooked to the door, ostensibly while swiving the girl. Hill was charged for his murder, but she was acquitted after testimony. Kotzwara's death is the first recorded incidence of what is now called autoerotic asphyxiation.
That Venerable Shivaree
After dinner the guests of both sexes distributed themselves about the front porches and the ornamental grounds belonging to the hotel, to enjoy the cool air; but as the twilight deepened toward darkness, they gathered themselves together in that saddest and solemnest and most constrained of all places, the great blank drawing room which is a chief feature of all continental summer hotels. There they grouped themselves about, in couples and threes, and mumbled in bated voices, and looked timid and homeless and forlorn.
There was a small piano in this room, a clattery, wheezy, asthmatic thing, certainly the very worst miscarriage in the way of a piano that the world has seen. In turn, five or six dejected and homesick ladies approached it doubtingly, gave it a single inquiring thump, and retired with the lockjaw. But the boss of that instrument was to come, nevertheless; and from my own country,—from Arkansaw. She was a bran-new bride, innocent, girlish, happy in herself and her grave and worshiping stripling of a husband ; she was about eighteen, just out of school, free from affectations, unconscious of that passionless multitude around her; and the very first time she smote that old wreck one recognized that it had met its destiny. Her stripling brought an armful of aged sheet music from their room,—for this bride went " heeled," as you might say,—and bent himself lovingly mover and got ready to turn the pages.
The bride fetched a swoop with her fingers from one end of the key board to the other, just to get her bearings, as it were, and you could see the congregation set their teeth with the agony of it. Then, without any more preliminaries, she turned on all the horrors of the "Battle of Prague," that venerable shivaree, and waded chin deep in the blood of the slain. She made a fair and honorable average of two false notes in every five, but her soul was in arms and she never stopped to correct. The audience stood it with pretty fair grit for a while, but when the cannonade waxed hotter and fiercer, and the discord average rose to four in five, the procession began to move. A few stragglers held their ground ten minutes longer, but when the girl began to wring the true inwardness out of the "cries of the wounded," they struck their colors and retired in a kind of panic.
There never was a completer victory; I was the only noncombatant left on the field. I would not have deserted my countrywoman anyhow, but indeed I had no desires in that direction. None of us like mediocrity, but we all reverence perfection. This girl's music was perfection in its way; it was the worst music that had ever been achieved on our planet by a mere human being.
I moved up close, and never lost a strain. When she got through, I asked her to play it again. She did it with a pleased alacrity and a heightened enthusiasm. She made it all discords, this time. She got an amount of anguish into the cries of the wounded that shed a new light on human suffering. She was on the war path all the evening. All the time, crowds of people gathered on the porches and pressed their noses against the windows to look and marvel, but the bravest never ventured in. The bride went off satisfied and happy with her young fellow, when her appetite was finally gorged, and the tourists swarmed in again.
From Mark Twain's A Tramp Abroad, 1880
Seeing Well With The Help Of Josef Lachkovics
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Two years ago Rebecca, Rosemary and I were in Yucatán. We were at a lagoon where we were going to see flamingos. The young man in charge of our little boat gunned it forward without warning and my expensive bifocal sun glasses went flying and sank like lead into the dark waters. I was extremely depressed. Even though I no longer have migraine headaches (I suffered them all my life until about 10 years ago when they mysteriously went away) I am most sensitive to light. We returned to the hotel in Mérida and I noticed that there was an Óptica next door. I went in with my regular glasses (also bifocals) and enquired about clip-on sunglasses. The pleasant woman attending told me that she could have prescription bifocal sunglasses made within three hours with the very frame I showed her. I was astounded. She was true to her word and three hours later at the tidy price of $50 I had a brand new pair of excellent glasses. Well, not so excellent. My original glasses had a neutral gray tint. These made blue slightly magenta. But I could live with glasses at those prices.
Last year during my daily comings and goings to visit Abraham Rogatnick at the hospital in August I misplaced my sunglasses. I decided I would do without them. Then a few months later I dropped my regular glasses on the street and the frames broke. I repaired them with epoxy until they further broke beyond repair. So I wore glasses that were three years old from an old prescription.
At one time this would be anathema as I consider my eyes and eyesight very important. After all I have made my living as a photographer from my eyes. Curiously I have never needed glasses to properly focus through my cameras. I refuse to let a machine tell me where I want to focus it so I have never been much of a follower of auto focus cameras.
But Rosemary nagged and nagged and I told her I was going to convert some beautiful frames (tortoise shell look with hinged side legs) into new glasses. Alas! I left one window of our car open for an hour and the glasses were stolen.
I reluctantly went to Factory Optical on 595 West 7th Avenue. I was not able to find anything like my tortoise shell-look glases with the roundish openings I had worn for most of my life. I will admit that for a while sometime in my stupid 80s I wore metal frames. But the tortoise shell look has always been my favourite. An elderly man with a beautiful smile and small German accent offered to help me. When I told him how I had not found what I had been looking he asked me what exactly it was I wanted. He then produced the most beautiful frames (including those prized hinged legs) I have seen in a long time (at a very good price) and proceded to take my measurements with lots of expertise. He asked me if I was happy with my ophthalmologist, Dr. Simon Warner
. I told him I had gone to him and previously to his father ever since I arrived to Vancouver in 1975. I explained that I would not trust my eyes to anybody but the best ophthalmic surgeon around. Josef Lachkovics, who hails from Vienna, smiled.
I left the premises most happy and today I picked up my glasses. The sunglasses that I had also ordered had a minute difference in the left lens that rendered images ever so slightly blurry. The attendant (not Mr. Lachkovics) explained that the lens was within the industry standard. He then produced a lens and told me to put it in front of that left lens. I could see perfectly. He explained that to most people the difference was negligible but if I could see better with the change they would do so at no extra cost. The sunglasses are extra dark and of a gray that is absolutely neutral. Colours look exactly as they are.
Happiness is truly to be able to see well. And this is something that thanks to Josef Lachkovics I can assert is true. When I was about to leave I asked of a different attendant if I could have a glass case. He produced a smart hard-and-hinged one which I told him I did not want. “I want one of those soft ones,” I said. He produced one and while smiling told me, “But this is for old folks.” “What do you think I am?” I retorted as I happily accepted it.
Smoke & Mirrors At The Vancouver Art Gallery
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Months before my friend, Architect Abraham Rogatnick died on August 28 last year he told me, over tea on 10th Avenue, that, “If there is one thing I want to do before I die is to make public my views on why the Vancouver Art Gallery should stay put.” A few weeks later, over tea again he told he was frustrated. “I went to see Heather Deal (Vision Vancouver City Councillor) with this manifesto
I wrote up. I sat down while she read it and when she finished it she indicated she would wait and see what happened. I lost it there and I think I shouted at her.” I asked Rogatnick to give me a copy of his manifesto and I tried to get the people that I still knew in the media interested.
I failed at CBC Radio as I was told that it would be an interesting topic when it became an issue. It was not yet one. The folks at the Tyee gave me the same answer. I tried Bill Good and he never replied to my email. Fanny Kiefer’s producer told me something like, “The Vancouver Art Gallery is a city issue and not a Provincial issue. Our program is less about the city and more about the province.”
I tried the Vancouver Sun. I emailed Editor-in-Chief Patricia Graham (she has always been gracious and polite with me) who indicated I should send my query to the Editorial Page Editor Fazil Mihlar. The man never replied. I called up my friend Paul Grant(and alas former CBC Arts Reporter) who suggested I approach radio producers. While I never got a no, all I obtained was a tentative, “When it becomes an issue we will surely pursue Rogatnick’s manifesto.”
I felt frustrated and depressed that I could not help my friend place his opinion anywhere. He kindly told me not to worry and that I had given it all my best shot.
I did not give up and called up Yosef Wosk whose baby, the SFU sponsored Philosopher’s Café has been such a success. By this time Rogatnick was too sick to appear either at a TV or radio station. My idea was to bring someone like Architect Bruno Freschi (a friend of Rogatnick’s) and perhaps realtor Bob Rennie to have a conversation with Rogatnick in his living room. The conversation would have been recorded. Wosk was on a European tour with his daughters so that idea went nowhere.
When Abraham Rogatnick died on August 28 the whole Vancouver Art Gallery had become his bête noir. I am sure that his failure to have anybody pay attention to his concern finally contributed to his death. It was a few days before August 28 that Rogatnick, bedside, gave me a one hour lecture on the wonders of Andrea Palladio’s Redentore Church in Venice. With fingers bent with arthritis Rogatnick pointed at a picture I had brought, all the features of the church and why they were wonderful. He pointed out to me that in his Law Courts in Vancouver, Francis Rattenbury had adopted many of stylistic embellishments and the more practical ones that had made Palladio a wonder of his age. The central nave with a wing on either side, Rogatnick asserted to me had been the schematic for Palladio’s summer homes for rich Italians. The cows and horses would have been on, perhaps the left wing, while the kitchens would have been on the right wing. I was mesmerized by Rogatnick’s enthusiasm.
A few months later, out of the blue I called up the Vancouver Sun’s Miro Cernetig and I told him about Rogatnick’s manifesto and how in the end I had simply run it as one of my blogs. Cernetig immediately showed interest. We both played it straight and legal and we got Rogatnick’s lawyer (in charge of his estate) to okay the publication of Rogatnick’s manifesto in the Sun on a Saturday on the editorial page.
It seemed to me that in death, somehow Rogatnick got his last word in. In the last few months I have seen how the VAG has cranked up its marketing campaign to move to Larwill Park. I am no expert on architecture. But surely Rogatnick was and he felt that a city gallery should be smack in the middle of the city. The told me how I.M. Pei had done wonders with the Louvre and in particular to a gallery (one that I have gone to many times), the National Gallery in Washington DC. In both cases Pei had found room by digging down and managed to incorporate the new with the old seamlessly. If an expert I both loved and respected was against the move so was I. In those bitter moments having tea with Rogatnick he had told me that many of the city’s architects had privately told him that they agreed but they were not willing to go public. “They must be concerned about not alienating their client base,” Rogatnick told me.
A friend yesterday sent me this link
. It is strange and I really don’t know what to make of the marketing ploy, “Why not replace a parking lot with something irreplaceable?"
I called up the few architectural columnists, and architects that I know today and found that most were either out of town or were simply not going to call me back. I also found out that one of the best (if not the best) Vancouver Sun columnist on civic affairs, Miro Cernetig is moving to Ottawa to a job that is not in the media business. I wonder if the ex- Vancouver Bureau chief for the Globe & Mail might not know something about sinking ships.
I had just been meaning to call him to see if someone at the Sun could put many hearsay “facts” together in a sort of two page spread that would answer some questions. Here are some samples. I do know that the VAG’s collection is owned by the city so:
1. Who in the city owns the collection? What can City Council do if it wants to do something about the collection? What say do we have as citizens?
2. Who owns the VAG building?
3. Does the Province own the land?
4. Who owns Robson Square?
5. If it is the Province that owns Robson Square what deal did they make with UBC? What would have to happen to persuade the folks of UBC to move out if we as citizens thought that they had squandered our Province’s property when Simon Fraser has glowed with success in their former Sear’s Tower?
6. Who owns the present location of Sears in the Cesar Pelli designed building? I understand that it is run by Cadillac Fairview. From talks that I have had with those who know (who have been present at meetings) there was a plan for Sears to lease its upper two floors to the VAG. There were even enthusiastic suggestions by one of the Sun’s former dance critics to build some sort of sky escalator that would join those floors to the VAG.
7. Frances Bula in her blog revealed that the City of Vancouver had ceded rights to some property on the Fraser River in exchange for financing the refurbishment of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The City of Vancouver further promised (to whom?) to build or to allow the building of a condo tower on Larwill Park. This city block is the block that the VAG wants in its entirety to build the new gallery. One who has objected to this is ex-Vancouver Magazine and Equity Publisher Ronald Stern. This fact was reported by the Georgia Straight’s Charlie Smith. In fact Stern is at odds with the Chairman of the VAG’s move proposal, Michael Audain who does not want to share a piece of the whole pie. Who would own that condo? What would it be? And what exactly was promised by the city and is it in writing?
8. The whole Larwill Park scenario needs to be shown by the media so we, the citizens of this city can determine what is happening.
9. There are many who are asserting that too much is being discussed about the building and much less about the artifacts that are under the old and possibly new gallery roof.
10. With money at a premium (and I need not even go into further details about homelessness and jobs) where are the funds going to come from? Would these funds better be used to help the arts organizations of the province and the city that have nowhere to go for grant money?
11. With a Vancouver Public Library that cheerfully manages to have relationships with the province’s hinterland so that my daughter who lives in Lillooet (no buses, no trains go there) is able to bring in books and other materials from the VPL’s stacks or a private organization like the Vancouver Opera that sends traveling opera companies to those communities of the interior, what is our very own VAG (the building is owned by the province?) doing to make the art of Rodney Graham and Jeff Wall available to the masses?
12. Why has my party of choice the NDP been silent on all this? Are they still sticking to the blue-collar idea that culture is for the elite?
13. Ancilary to this is the hideous (my personal opinion and vocally shared by Arthur Erickson when he was alive) is the provenance (blame or credit is given to Grace McCarthy) fountain in front of the VAG on the Georgia Street side. Thory of the Brackendale Art Gallery told me the artist was an Italian and not a Canadian at all. What should be done to this monstrosity if we are to assert what the VAG says abut a world class gallery (when are we going to eliminate this tired and hackneyed term from our vocabulary?) Sending the structure to next year's Venice Bienale would be a good beginning. Once this sructure is gone plans would be easier to make to dig down and then replace it with something more atune to the excellence of our city.
I could think of many more questions in this near rant. I must assert that I am tired of reading about the hearsay. I feel I should be shown the facts.
The pictures you see here are of Daniel Rutley
, Clinical psychotherapist and I took them several years ago on the roof of the VAG with mirrors but with no smoke.
And here is an explanation of the VAG's curiously short URL from my friend Tim Bray:
This is what we call a "URL Shortener". A URL is a Web address and
used to stand for Uniform Resource Locator but now stands for
Universal Republic of Love (see here
Actually the lore around URIs is deep and rich and even entertaining, next time we have lunch (which we should do soon) I'll tell you some of it.
Anyhow, Web addresses tend to be kind of long. And Twitter only
allows 140 characters. So there are now a variety of "URI shortening
services" which turn long ones into short ones using various sorts of
jiggery-pokery, thus allowing us to fit a few words of wit and wisdom
around whatever link we're tweeting about. There are lots of URL
shorteners; the first was at "tinyurl.com". One of the really
fashionable early ones was at "bit.ly" where the ".ly" suffix stands
for of all places Libya, where the people who give out suffixes are
businesslike and amenable. Thus the ht.ly address in your example.
The Whistling Ghost
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
On Sunday, Rosemary, Rebecca, Lauren and I visited Lesley Finlay’s beautiful garden in her sprawling estate in Southlands. She always has lots of goodies to eat and an assortment of drinks from wine, to beer to soft drinks. The girls love going there and Rebecca adores the many (as in many) roses that Finlay has in her garden. They are superbly grown.
We have gone for three years in a row and until Sunday I had not been able to figure out the mix of people that went. There were members of the Vancouver Rose Society and obviously friends and people connected to Finlay’s husband who is a surgeon. Every year there would be a couple of Finlay’s restored cars (American cars from the 30s) but this year there were a few more including a candy red Buick Roadmaster from the mid 50s. That’s when it dawned on me the Doctor Finlay invited people from an auto restoring club.
As we left after a pleasant afternoon eating well and looking at beautiful specimen roses I saw a ghost.
It had not been there when we had entered. It was a light yellow convertible (with its top up). I had seen this apparition before sometime around 1982. In fact I had photographed it with its owner, Ed Aveling for an article on antique cars, written by Alyn Edwards (seen here with his Ford Skyliner) for Vancouver Magazine.
The man proudly standing by the light yellow ghost was a man that looked familiar. I looked at him quizzically and he told me, “You photographed me with my 1947 Lincoln Continental for the Vancouver Magazine article that had Ed Aveling’s 1936 Auburn. Ed died and, when his son died I purchased the car from his estate. The car still has the paint job that you photographed. My name is Peter Trant.”
I photographed Rebecca with the car marveling at the fact that my eldest daughter and I had been given a ride in the Aburn back then. I can still remember the curiously exciting whistling sound of the car’s supercharger.
A ghost, from my past, an exciting and exotic one, brought a smile to my face. I felt a certain level of comfort to find out that some things, some delightful things, simply don’t change. And Leslie Finlay would add (and I would not disagree) that some of those things that delightfully don't change happen to be roses. The Auburn and my daughter Ale
A Posthumous Gift
Monday, July 05, 2010
My friend John Tuytle, a member of the Vancouver Rose Society, sheep farmer and rose breeder died May 2 of this year.
In May of 2009 he gave me a rose. “Alex, this is a hybrid tea rose you should have ( I don’t like hybrid teas!). It is called Crimson Glory
(Kordes, 1935).” I left it in John’s pot and in June it bloomed. The flowers were extremely fragrant and the colour was a deep crimson red. I liked the plant but I did not put it into the ground. This year I had a pot with the tag R. ‘Crimson Glory” on it and the rose that was growing from it looked like a root stock type of rose. The leaves were different and I knew it was unlikely to be John’s rose as he never grew roses that were not only from their own roots. I felt sad about it.
Now last year the city paved our back lane but they were pleasant about leaving our back lane garden. One day I arrived in the afternoon to find that the folks from the city had gently removed my lane roses so that their paver would not damage them. They had no idea that roses cannot really be removed from the ground during anytime but late fall or very early spring. I quickly put them into pots (as far as I know there were two of them). This spring I put them back in the back lane. They seemed to be in good shape. They are in flower now. One is the moss rose William Lobb
and the other is another moss, Chapeau de Napoleón
It was a couple of weeks ago that Rebecca noticed a third rose growing underneath Napoleon’s Hat. It featured very dark and very fragrant blooms. It was Tuytle’s Crimson Glory. How it got there I will never know. Perhaps I put it there and I had forgotten. Today I cut some of the flowers which in their dryness were somehow pleading for a generous watering. Nonetheless the blooms are handsome as they are.
While John Tuytle was alive when he gave me this rose, I do believe that Crimson Glory is a posthumous gift, in a way. Wherever he might be, I thank him.John Tuytle's StampJohn TuytleJohn Tuytle's EryngiumsRebecca & Lauren visit Ramona?R. Pierre OgerLauren and Rebecca
A Not So Virginal Fair Bianca
Sunday, July 04, 2010
Katherina:Of all thy suitors here I charge thee tell
Whom thou lov'st best. See thou dissemble not.
Bianca: Believe me, sister, of all the men alive
I never yet beheld that special face
Which I could fancy more than any other. V,2,2537
Petruchio. Nay, that you shall not; since you have begun,
Have at you for a bitter jest or two.
Bianca. Am I your bird? I mean to shift my bush,
And then pursue me as you draw your bow.
You are welcome all.The Taming of the Shrew
, William Shakespeare
After having seen Much Ado About Nothing
, Antony and Cleopatra
on Bard on the Beach and watched a Stratford Festival filmed production of George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra
, Shakespeare and his characters have been much in my mind. Today I walked in the garden and I noticed that the David Austin English Rose, Rosa
'Fair Bianca' had an unusual bloom that was not the usual pristine and virginal white. The event in itself is not all that infrequent but today it was because of my thoughts on Shakespeare. Fair Bianca is the logical engénue sister of the fiesty and fiery Katherina of The Taming of the Shrew
. I decided to read the play and I found that Fair Bianca is a rather smart girl who certainly knows what she wants and who she is. If Shakespeare had traveled to our present time he might have written a parallel play ( a sort of hyper text play) in which we might know a bit more about this really interesting minor protagonist who is not so minor in my books.
Reading between the lines I have decided that Fair Bianca while she may have been amply fair, she was not necessarily all that virginal. I see her as being an experienced woman. The sudden shift, from white to blushing pink, of this delicately scented rose may just be an indication that the rose is simply finding its own identity and that our perception of her (both the rose and her namesake) is not all that accurate.