Werner Herzog, A Hornet On The Wall
Saturday, April 23, 2011
When I photographed German film director Werner Herzog in 1996, the man I met was gentle, thoughtful and full of intelligence in an introspective kind of way. My photograph of him makes him look like a fiend. I have no idea what it was that led me to take this portrait as it is here. It is not often that I let my light shine away from my subject’s eyes. In this case it works very well if the direction of the portrait is toward scaring those who see it.
Or perhaps I simply lucked out to get that little light to still crop up in the eyes. This portrait is one of my favourites ever.
In Sunday’s New York Times (which crashes on my front door around 8pm on Saturday) I found an article, written by Larry Rohter, on Herzog’s latest film which is a documentary (in 3D, no less!) called Cave of Forgotten Dreams.
It is about the Chauvet Cave in southeastern France that has paintings that are 32,000 years old. By becoming a temporary employee of the French government (Herzog gets a symbolic 1 Euro salary) and giving France’s Ministry of Culture copies of the raw footage, Herzog is the first person to have obtained permission to film the cave.
For more details on the documentary readers can look for the article on the NY Times at your own peril as content on the NY Times site is no longer free. I agree that good content should never be free.
But the reason for the posting of this photograph is that the article by Larry Rohther, contains a quote by Herzog that I have seen and read before. The second time around, it still shocked me in how incisive and passionate Herzog is about his work. Few might know that since the early 60s, when he began directing film, a great part of Herzog’s work has been the documentary. Of the documentary Herzog says:
“I insist that even if you make documentaries, we are filmmakers, and we must never be flies on the wall, unobtrusive and just registering. As filmmakers we should be the hornets that go out and sting. The fly on the wall is a perspective that is suspicious to me per se. Every single camera angle is already a choice and a statement.”
Herzog’s statement comforts me. I often laugh of people (and photographers) who might comment that this portrait as opposed to that one looks more natural. What do they mean by natural? I have no doubt in my mind that my portrait of Herzog is not natural, after all I chose the camera angle and the light. The result is certainly not cinéma verité. It is my own imagined one.
Fly on the wall
My Apizaco Cane
Friday, April 22, 2011
For many years I have been a devout non-believer but there is a streak of tradition in me, which I will never get rid of knowingly, that makes it difficult for me to feel cheery on a day like today, Good Friday.
Perhaps it has to do with those cloudy or rainy fall Good Fridays in Buenos Aires (I am sure there were some sunny ones, too but those I have forgotten) in which my grandmother would bid me come into the house some time early afternoon. With my mother we would kneel. Then my grandmother would recite the Stations of the Cross in her Castilian Spanish. On that day I was prohibited from turning on the radio. I never did turn it on, but on that day the radio was like an itch that would not go away. My grandmother would explain, with a luxury of detail as to why it was we did not play music on the day “our lord was crucified”. I knew the story well as the day before she would have marched through as many churches we could walk to. This was the ritual of Holy Thursday. In each church we would pray. Then we would be off to the next one.
Mario Hertzberg, who lived across the street, could not understand why I could not go out to play. I remember one day when I told him, “The reason I cannot go out to play is that my grandmother has told me that the Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death." As I looked on Mario’s round and cheery face I should have known better. But I didn’t.
Years later I remember that in 1959 my mother gave me a copy of Taylor Caldwell’s (only recently did I find out that he, Taylor, was a she) Dear & Glorious Physician
which was a novel about St. Luke the Evangelist. I remember how my mother expressly told me that because St. Luke was a doctor the details of Christ’s suffering and death would be accurate. In fact that led me to go to all four gospels to the incident where Judas betrays Christ on Gethsemane and St. Peter becomes very angry. One Gospel does not mention the incident in any detail and another is precise as to which ear Peter lops off with a sword!
My Catholic education has served me well. In a trip to Guanajuato, Mexico some years ago I took my granddaughter Rebecca to the beautiful church of La Valenciana. She spotted the Stations of the Cross and asked me to explain. This I did with a luxury of detail.
Sitting in my den today I turned on the TV for a few minutes but then turned it off. I had thoughts of my grandmother not approving. And of course she would have not approved. Behind the TV set I a corner is this multi coloured Mexican cane. I looked at it and remembered that Ale, my eldest daughter brought it back from Mexico some 15 years ago. It had been sent to me as a gift by Carlos Zamora who was (he died last year) of three girls and a boy who have been friends of my daughters since they were small when we lived in Mexico City. Carlos Zamora and his gracious wife Eliana (died of cancer some years ago) were our neighbours. We kept in touch for years and we would alternate the sending of our children every few years for visits.
“Why the cane?” I asked myself when I first got it. Did Carlos Zamora think I was already over the hill? Only today did I really examine it and find out that it was made in the little town of Apizaco in the smallest state of Mexico, Tlaxcala. Tlaxcala’s questionable reputation to this day lies in that the natives of the region, the Tlaxcaltecas helped Cortez defeat the Aztecs. Like La Malinche
who translated for Cortez, the Tlaxcaltecas and their descendants, the Tlaxcalans are not revered in Mexico. In fact Tlaxcalans have a reputation for duplicity.
I remember Apizaco well even though I never stopped. Apizaco was on the way to Veracruz. Rosemary and I would often drive from Mexico City to visit my mother in Veracruz. Apizaco was simply a town on the way and no more.
Today I looked at the cane in a sober manner but at the same time it seemed like the Apizaco cane is now beginning to shine. I have admired it and as I struggle to walk up the stairs as my arthritis gets worse I wonder if Carlos Zamora knew what was coming? I can see myself looking for a nice rubber tip for my Apizaco cane. I suddenly miss Carlos Zamora. I know he is one more person whom I have known who is now dead. Death is inevitable but perhaps not so unpleasant, if the way to it, somehow includes a firm grasp of my Apizaco cane.
Today I smiled when I looked at my Apizaco cane. It felt good even if my grandmother would not have aproved of my Good Friday smile.
The Graduate - A Perfect Valentine
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Yesterday Wednesday my granddaughter Rebecca (13) and I went to the opening performance of the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Terry Johnson’s adaptation of the The Graduate
, on the Granville Island Stage. I hope you will forgive my long winded meander until I finally get to it in the 8th paragraph!
To make things clear I never read the 1963 novel by Charles Webb nor have I ever met anybody who has. For most of us the The Graduate
is the 1967 Mike Nichols film with a young Dustin Hoffman, and with Anne Bancroft and Katharine Ross. It is indelibly etched into my mind. I can never forget Dustin Hoffman (as Ben Braddock driving that Alfa Romeo Spider (I remember it as green) on a California freeway to the sounds of Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence
. And while I always thought Anne Bancroft was very attractive and desirable the scene besides the Alfa Romeo Spider that I remember the most is when Ben grabs and saves Elaine Robinson from the clutches of her groom at church and both (Ben and Elaine, in her wedding dress), end up in the back of a bus.
I had second thoughts of going to a play that just might burst the wonderful bubble in my head. It became worse when my Rebecca asked me to explain the film and I grew confused if I had seen it in the 60s or 70s.
Before the play began I ran into a friend who happens to be a theatre director. I asked the director on the plan of the need for playing Simon & Garfunkel’s music within the play. The director told me, “If I were the director I would certainly do that.”
That was not the case and while I was a bit disappointed I will explain how the disappointment shifted to a clear case of wonder and delight!
Years ago I used to write book reviews for Celia Duthie’s The Reader
. This was a handsome little booklet/magazine that featured pleasant reviews to somewhat lofty novels of a certain intellectual chic. I remember fondly her intelligent request, “ Try to pick a book you think you will like.” I always took her advice since I am not the type of person who will review a book with cynicism and sarcasm. The world has enough of it.
At the same time I know that being an amateur reviewer I will still abide to my principle. My model is the now retired but not forgotten Vancouver Sun film critic Les Wedman who always seemed to find relevance and saving grace in almost any film he ever reviewed. He loved and loves movies and this showed in his reviews.
Which brings me now to the Arts Club Theatre production of The Graduate
. I could have been disappointed, after all there was no way the local group Ivory Sky in their especially composed music for the play could possibly bury my desire to listen to Simon & Garfunkel. I am pretty sure that getting the rights to use Simon & Garfunkel would have been prohibitive.
After years of sitting near the man with the pencil and pad who reviewed theatre, Jerry Wasserman, I am happy to report that he is just as good without his pencil and pad and can even be quite handsome in a tux, which he was.
The rest of the cast, Lisa Bunting (as Mrs. Braddock), Bill Dow (as Mr. Braddock), Jacqueline Breakwell (adequate, and adequately twirled her breasts, as the stripper, but much too young to remember as I do, Princess Lilly who was a hearing impaired stripper in Vancouver in the 60s, 70s and 80s could make one breast twirl in one direction and the other breast direction in a contrary manner while having lit matches in her nipples), Ashley O”Connell as various and Kayvon Khoshkam (as Benjamin Braddock and my granddaughter immediately commented, “He looks like Robert Downey Jr.) were as professional as was to be expected coming from the Arts Club Theatre Company.
I thought that Camille Mitchell as Mrs. Robinson was almost good enough to tempt me away from plastics but I must confirm here that I fell hard, head over heals for the marvelous Celine Stubel as Elaine Robinson.
Her performance with that Deborah Kerrish hesitancy in her voice and her almost virginal approach charmed me and made Benjamin’s falling for her a reality for me. For me the play worked here because of Stubel.
I have always been a fan of Lois Anderson as perhaps the best actress in town but I am not yet sure I can spot her hand when she directs. This play might change my mind!
My first question is to find out if indeed she was responsible for the scene where Mrs. Robinson and daughter get sloshed on vodka as they connect in their mutual awareness of their involvement with Benjamin. The lights go on and off intermittently to reveal a further direction into alcoholic depravity.
And, a very big and indeed! - To the music of Rogers & Hart’s song My Funny Valentine
beautifully performed by Chet Baker on trumpet and Gerry Mulligan on baritone saxophone.
I must insert here a disclaimer. This song as played by the duo (there is one with trumpet player Art Farmer and Gerry Mulligan that is as good) is one that is such a favourite of mine that I have at least 8 versions by Mulligan and cohorts including four with Chet Baker.
This My Funny Valentine
scene is so good, the music is so perfect, the performance is so good that I am sure that Les Wedman would go along with me to cite here that the scene makes the whole play worth seeing!
For those who might read the lyrics and decide that the lyrics describe Elaine Robinson (and Celine Stubel) to the T might have to think otherwise. The song is from the 1937 musical Babes in Arms
and it is sung by a woman, Billie Smith to Valentine “Val” LaMar. In the song Billie pokes fun at some of Valentine's characteristics, but ultimately affirms that he makes her smile and that she doesn't want him to change.
The song itself became a jazz standard via Gerry Mulligan Quartet’s bassist, Carson Smith. In James Gavin's book, Deep in a Dream
, Gavin tells how Carson Smith found the then-obscure piece in a song book. He thought it would be a great ballad for the band to try. Baker loved it. Gavin writes: "....he played the tune as written, stretching out its slow, spare phrases until they seemed to ache. His hushed tone drew the ear, it suggested a door thrown open on some dark night of the soul, then pulled shut as the last note faded. ..... The song fascinated Baker. It captured all he aspired to as a musician, with its sophisticated probing of a beautiful theme and its gracefully linked phrases, adding up to a melodic statement that didn't waste a note."
That scene, My Funny Valentine scene, directed by Lois Anderson, didn’t waste one note, one word. It is perfect. Briefely it made me forget the Sound of Silence
And I must add here that as soon as My Funny Valentine
was heard my granddaughter whispered into her proud grandfather’s ear, “That’s Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan in My Funny Valentine.”
My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
You're looks are laughable
Yet you're my favorite work of art
Is your figure less than greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?
But don't change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine stay
Each day is valentines day
Rogers & Hart
Jerry, Gerry and Oodles of Noodles
My Funny Valentine with Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan
Cleopatra Goes Fishing & Bitumen In Judea
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
|Jennifer Lines as Cleopatra on Bard on the Beach|
I have just about finished the terrific Cleopatra – A Life
by Stacy Schiff. Schiff is very careful to explain what can be seen as truth and what is speculation. She has been true to her sources. But what emerges is fascinating and shows that most of us learn our history in the method of compartments. You study Egypt without any understanding of what may have been happening in China.
In my case I learned about Cleopatra
and I learned about Julius Caesar
almost separately. I knew there was something between them. This I explored further through the years. Recently I watched a filmed stage production (Stratford, Ontario) of George Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra
with Christopher Plummer and Nikki M. James as a young black Cleopatra. This production, like the film version with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh both feature the Cleopatra rolled up in a carpet so she can be smuggled into Caesar’s palace. The whole scene is historical bunk (there is a bit of truth, a hemp bag, in it and I won’t go into it here) and a wonderful example of GBS’s imagination.
But who would have known (I certainly didn’t) that when Caesar was murdered in the senate, Cleopatra was ensconced in Caesar’s villa? I found this through Schiff’s biography. There is much more stuff like that, that delighted me.
In Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra
there is something about Antony & Cleopatra
going fishing. I thought that was a sham. It seems that it is not. I will quote here directly (in English) from Plutarch’s Life of Antony:
29. Cleopatra used not (as Plato says) the four kinds of flattery, but many, and whether Antony were in a serious or playful mood she could always produce some new pleasure or charm, and she kept watch over him and neither by day or night let him out of her sight. She played dice with him and hunted with him and watched him exercising with his weapons, and she would roam around and wander about with him at night when he stood at people's doors and windows and made fun of the people inside, dressed in a slave-woman's outfit; for he also attempted to dress up like a slave.
He returned from these expeditions having been mocked in return, and often beaten, although most people suspected who he was. But the Alexandrians got pleasure from his irreverence and accompanied it with good timing and good taste, enjoying his humour and saying that he showed his tragic face to the Romans and his comic one to them.
Although it would be a waste of time to catalogue all of his amusements, one time he went fishing and had the misfortune not to catch anything while Cleopatra was present. So he ordered the fisherman secretly to dive underneath and attach fish that had already been caught to his hooks, but Cleopatra was not fooled after she saw him pull up two or three. She pretended to be amazed and told her friends and invited them come as observers on the next day. After a large audience had gathered on the fishing boats and Antony had lowered his line, Cleopatra told one of her slaves to get in ahead of the others and attach a salted fish from the Black Sea to his hook. When Antony thought he had caught something he pulled it up, and when (as might be expected) loud laughter followed, she said 'General, leave the fishing rod to us, the rulers of the Pharos and Canopus; your game is cities and kingdoms and countries.
But there is another fact that interested me. The information comes via the Jewish historian Josephus who shifted his alliance to Rome and thus wrote in a deprecating manner of Herod and Cleopatra.
Cleopatra in 36 BC after having been with Antony in Antioch, although visibly pregnant by him she returned the long way via Judea where she visited he old but not quite friend, King Herod the Great (the one that killed all those babies years later, and much of his family including his wife and children). She stopped at Herod’s palace to and here I will quote Schiff:
Antony had granted Cleopatra the exclusive right to the Dead Sea Bitumen, or asphalt, glutinous lumps of which floated to the surface of the lake. Bitumen was essential to mortar, incense, and insecticide, to embalming and to caulking. A reed basket smeared with asphalt, could hold water. Plastered with it, a boat is waterproof. The concession was a lucrative one… In modern terms, it was as if Cleopatra had been granted no part of Kuwait, only the proceeds of its oil fields.
|Harry Ransom Center and J. Paul Getty Museum. |
Color digital print reproduction of Joseph Nicéphore Niépce's
View from the Window at Le Gras.
20.3 x 25.4 cm.
By the 19th century Dead Sea Bitumen came with another name. It was called Bitumen of Judea. In 1826 Nicéphore Niépce
took the world’s first photograph (as far as we know) from his kitchen window. His “film”was a pewter plate coated with Bitumen of Judea on which Niépce had further added a coat of silver salts that were sensitive to light.
Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas
|Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. |
View from the Window at Le Gras.
Heliograph, in original frame.
25.8 x 29.0 cm
El Sueño - El Despertar - Part II
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
There is a paradox of sorts involved in my feeling of nostalgia. To begin with I learned late in life what must seem obvious to most and this is that to feel nostalgia for a place you cannot be in that place at the time. Thus some 10 years ago I made friends with Nora Patrich and her husband Juan Manuel Sanchez. Both were Argentine born painters and we shared nostalgia for a Buenos Aires and an Argentina that was nostalgically rosy in colour. We worked on a show and I have marveled at the many photographs I took.
Some of these appeared in yesterday’s blog. I remember that we worked in Nora’a living room and she put several of her paintings and of Juan’s on the wall and we played with the idea of Borgesian labyrinths. It was yesterday that I caught on that Borges had written extensively on dreams and that the pictures could be used to illustrate some of his poems and essays on the subject.
Last night I got into bed and did not read Cleopatra – A Life
by Stacy Schiff but read instead (once again) several of Borges’ poems. As I read them I came to understand that nostalgia is a two-edged sword.
When Nora and Juan were in Vancouver (they are divorced but living now in Buenos Aires) I felt nostalgia for Buenos Aires while knowing that I belonged here in Vancouver. Nora and Juan would often complain and contrast Vancouver (at a disadvantage) with Buenos Aires. I was Vancouver’s apologist.
With them gone and with this new feeling of nostalgia I now feel that don’t belong here. I find reading about local politics in my Vancouver Sun boring. I have no interest. I don’t care if the city builds the largest casino north of Las Vegas. I could care less if they tear down the Georgia Viaduct. I am an alien in my city.
Somehow I feel alienated in my city and almost alienated in my country (I am a Canadian citizen). I know at the same time that I could not live without the efficiency of our country, its almost unwavering 110 volts at 60 cycles. I know that I could not live without our excellent health care system. I know that I can trust (not too sure these days) most politicians and most of the police. I am not afraid of traffic cops as I would be if I were driving in Mexico City. I know that our inflation is nothing like the one of my place of birth, Argentina. And I know that Vancouver is home to one of my daughter's, her husband and my two granddaughters. I should feel concern for the city they will inherit.
But when I get into bed and read Borges, my heart aches for the patios,
and the streets of his poems. I thrill at his accounts of knife fights. I thrill at his constant preoccupation with mirrors that reflected his father’s face for the last time and are now repeating the images of many others, without fail. I long for the words el sur
This dislocation, I am a penguin in the Arctic, is one that I think might be lessened if I were to find some Argentines to share my language and my nostalgia with. Or perhaps I might visit Buenos Aires and miss the rain and the mountains and Canadian efficiency. Would I read about the Canucks (I don’t here and now)? I wonder.
Jorge Luís Borges
Si el sueño fuera (como dicen) una
Tregua, un puro reposo de la mente,
¿Por qué, si te despiertan bruscamente,
Sientes que te han robado una fortuna?
¿Por qué es tan triste madrugar? La hora
Nos despoja de un don inconcebible,
Tan íntimo que sólo es traducible
En un sopor que la vigilia dora
De sueños, que bien pueden ser reflejos
Truncos de los tesoros de la sombra,
De un orbe intemporal que no se nombra
Y que el día deforma en sus espejos.
¿Quién serás esta noche en el oscuro
Sueño, del otro lado de su muro?
El Sueño - El Despertar
Monday, April 18, 2011
by Jorge Luis Borges
In a deserted place in Iran there is a not very tall stone tower that has neither door nor window. In the only room (with a dirt floor and shaped like a circle) there is a wooden table and a bench. In that circular cell, a man who looks like me is writing in letters I cannot understand a long poem about a man who in another circular cell is writing a poem about a man who in another circular cell . . . The process never ends and no one will be able to read what the prisoners write.
(Translated, from the Spanish, by Suzanne Jill Levine.)
Jorge Luís Borges
En un desierto lugar del Irán hay una no muy alta torre de piedra, sin puerta ni ventana. En la única habitación (cuyo piso es de tierra y que tiene la forma del círculo) hay una mesa de madera y un banco. En esa celda circular, un hombre que se parece a mí escribe en caracteres que no comprendo un largo poema sobre un hombre que en otra celda circular escribe un poema sobre un hombre que en otra celda circular... El proceso no tiene fin y nadie podrá jamás leer lo que los prisioneros escriben.
By Jorge Luis Borges
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
As a child, I was a zealous worshiper of the tiger: not the piebald "tiger" of the Amazonian tangles and the isles of verdure afloat on the Paraná river, but the striped, Asiatic, royal tiger which can only be faced down by war-men fortified on elephantback.
I used to linger endlessly in front of one of the cages at the zoo; I judged the gigantic encyclopedias and natural history books according to the majesty of their tigers. (I still remember those illustrations; I who cannot rightly recall a woman’s brow or smile.)
Childhood passed, the tigers and my passion for them grew old, but they endure in my dreams. In the submerged dimension, at that level of the chaotic, they persist. So, as I sleep, some dream distracts me and I know at once it is a dream. I think: This is a dream, a pure diversion of my will, and now that my power is limitless, I am going to cause a tiger.
Oh incompetence! Never do my dreams bear forth the wild beast I yearn for. A tiger appears indeed, but autopsied or flimsy, or with impure variations of shape, or of an implausible size, or far too fleeting, or with something of the bird or the dog.
Dreamtigers (Borges gave the essay a title in English)
Jorge Luís Borges
En la infancia yo ejercí con fervor la adoración del tigre: no el tigre overo de los camalotes del Paraná y de la confusión amazónica, sino el tigre rayado, asiático, real, que sólo pueden afrontar los hombres de guerra, sobre un castillo encima de un elefante.
Yo solía demorarme sin fin ante una de las jaulas en el Zoológico; yo apreciaba las vastas enciclopedias y los libros de historia natural, por el esplendor de sus tigres (todavía me acuerdo de esas figuras: yo que no puedo recordar sin error la frente o la sonrisa de una mujer.)
Pasó la infancia, caducaron los tigres y su pasión, pero todavía están en mis sueños. En esa napa sumergida o caótica siguen prevaleciendo y así: dormido, me distrae un sueño cualquiera y de pronto sé que es un sueño. Suelo pensar entonces: éste es un sueño, una pura invención de mi voluntad, y ya que tengo un ilimitado poder, voy a causar un tigre.
¡Oh, incompetencia! Nunca mis sueños saben engendrar la apetecida fiera. Aparece el tigre, eso sí, pero disecado o endeble, o con impuras variaciones de forma, o de un tamaño inadmisible, o harto fugaz, o tirando a perro o a pájaro.
Jorge Luís Borges
Entra la luz y asciendo torpemente
De los sueños al sueño compartido
Y las cosas recobran su debido
Y esperado lugar y en el presente
Converge abrumador y vasto el vago
Ayer: las seculares migraciones
Del pájaro y del hombre, las legiones
Que el hierro destrozó, Roma y Cartago.
Vuelve tambien la cotidiana historia:
Mi voz, mi rostro, mi temor, mi suerte.
¡Ah, si aquel otro despertar, la muerte,
Me deparara un tiempo sin memoria
De mi nombre y de todo lo que he sido!
¡Ah, si en esa mañana hubiera olvido!
Jorge Luis Borges
Daylight leaks in, and sluggishly I surface
from my own dreams into the common dream
and things assume again their proper places
and their accustomed shapes. Into this present
the Past intrudes, in all its dizzying range--
the centuries-old habits of migration
in birds and men, the armies in their legions
all fallen to the sword, and Rome and Carthage.
The trappings of my day also come back:
my voice, my face, my nervousness, my luck.
If only Death, that other waking-up,
would grant me a time free of all memory
of my own name and all that I have been!
If only morning meant oblivion!
Translated by Alastair Reid
Like Borges, I too used to frequent the Buenos Aires zoo. I was in my childhood and I thought that tigers were related to cats and lions to dogs.
And from Borges' 1977 poem Lions
the last line:
An animal that resembles the dog
his female brings as a prize.
Un animal que se parece a un perro
Como la presa que le trae la hembra.
The Mantle Clock & The View From Our Bedroom Window
Sunday, April 17, 2011
I can remember that first night in our new home on Athlone Street back in 1986. I propped my head up and looked out from one our bedroom windows (the right one in the picture below) which overlooked on to the boulevard (the bed has not been moved) I looked outside into the boulevard and I could not believe that thanks to Rosemary’s forward thinking we were now living in a beautiful house in a beautiful neighbourhood.
The house itself, that night was pretty free of the furniture, bookshelves and thousands of books we have now. But there were two items I had purchased even before we moved that were specifically for the house. One was an antique French mantle clock for the mantle of what was then called my smoking room. It was and is a beautifully wood paneled room in which we now watch our occasional television.
|The mantle clock|
In the dining room there was a nook and I found a large credenza with a marble top at an antique store in Maple Ridge. Rosemary could not understand that I would buy such a piece of furniture as I had not measured the nook. The fact is that when it arrived it fit just right.
The clock served us well for all these years chiming on the hour and the half hour to the point we stopped hearing it because we became so accustomed. But now it does not work. Its winding mechanism is stripped and I will have to find someone in town to repair it.
I look at the exterior paint job of our house and I can see the cracks. Yesterday I sprayed certain parts of the roof, the gazebo roof and the one of our garage with moss killer. Moss collects and on the roof it is not a pretty sight.
In our garden there are plants that have been with us for many years. Some have not returned. A few perennials can be freshened up with division but others simply have lifespans just as humans have.
Many of the trees we planted as saplings are now mature and cast shade. The garden is shadier and plants want light. In the picture above the shaped conifer on the left died of root rot some years ago and the birch died of disease and was removed by the city.
|The credenza, behind|
Rosemary and I have been working in the garden these days. Pumping up the moss killer device has left my right elbow in pain. The index finger of my right hand is swollen because of the pressure on the secateurs. I have been using the secateurs not only to prune my roses but to prune bushes that are much too large for their spot. The body aches.
There is no division that will freshen up our bodies. The mantle clock can be fixed but the moss will come back.
The prospect of smelling my roses in late May keeps me going. I am sure that Rosemary looks forward to some sunny day in that late May to sit down on our garden bench to reflect that time has passed us by but we can still smell the roses and enjoy the garden. We will be sharing the enjoyment with our two cats. It has taken Rosemary's new cat, Casi a year to adapt to the garden. He loves it now and he accompanies Rosemary whenever she is around.