The Impending Visit Of The Tooth Fairy
Saturday, December 03, 2011
|Lauren Elizabeth Stewart|
Me: Lauren you are not going to sleep with us tonight. You are going to sleep in the other room that used to be your mother’s.
Lauren: Yes because I have to be in my own bed. The tooth fairy is coming tonight.
Me: Really? When did you lose your tooth?
Lauren: Yesterday afternoon.
Me: Why didn't she take your tooth and leave you something? Did you forget to put it under your pillow?
Lauren: No, but Daddy says that once when he was little the tooth fairy did not come for five days. I think she was busy last night.
Me: I don’t think she was busy. I think she just forgot.
Lauren: The tooth fairy never forgets.
Me: Besides I don’t think she is coming tonight because you didn’t tell her you were sleeping over. She will go to your house, not find you, and if she is as inefficient, as I think she is, she will leave something under the pillow for your sister.
Lauren: She never makes mistakes because she is magic.
Me: How do you know she is magic? Have you ever seen her?”
Lauren: No, she is so tiny that nobody can see her.
Me: That doesn’t sound right to me. Where does she live?
Lauren: She lives in a castle in the sky.
Me: Does she have a moat around it with crocodiles?
Lauren: (Laugh, laugh). Of course not! And her castle is invisible.
Me: What does she bring you?
Lauren: She leaves me money?
Me: Where does she get it from?
Lauren: (giggle, giggle) She already has it and she keeps it in her castle.
Me: What does she do with the teeth?
Lauren: She makes necklaces.
Me: I don't think so. I think that with the scarcity of elephant ivory they use your teeth to make piano keys.
Lauren: That's silly, they can't make piano keys from our tiny teeth!
Me: How does she get to the houses she visits?
Lauren: She flies.
Me: In an airplane?
Lauren: (giggle, giggle) Of course not! She flies without an airplane. She is magic.
Me: I don’t think she knows you are here so she is not going to come.
Lauren: Tooth Fairy, I am spending the night with my grandparents at 5909 Athlone Street.
Me: I hope for your sake that she will come.
Lauren: She will. You're asking me too many questions!
Addendum: I really did not want to upset my granddaughter Lauren, 9, by telling her that in the Southern Hemisphere we have Ratón Perez (he is a mouse) who exchanges teeth for money. I didn't tell Lauren that with all the Spanish we speak here at Athlone Street there is a chance that the Tooth Fairy and Ratón Perez are currently fighting it out to determine whose territory it is.
Don't Beguile, Don't Be Beguiled
Friday, December 02, 2011
|Never accept a present from a politician that cannot be consumed at one sitting. The thing to tell a politician is this: if it’s a gift it’s too much; if it’s a bribe it’s not enough.|
One of the singular pleasures of living in Canada is to be able to listen, every once in a while to the excellent CBC Radio program Ideas
with Paul Kennedy (I would buy many used cars from this man because of his voice). Tonight I listened to Neil Reynolds, columnist for the Globe and Mail
, and former editor-in-chief of the Vancouver Sun
and the Ottawa Citizen
, deliver his 2011 Dalton Camp Lecture in Journalism at St. Thomas University in Fredericton (available as a podcast on December 26) .
This is the sort of intelligent programming that five minutes of watching CNN, becomes to my mind by comparison even more intelligent, unless of course I think backwards and simply say that CNN is just plain stupid.
I listened to every word of Reynold’s and I experienced many of those aha! moments. Reynolds named his lecture The Last Commandment: Thou Shall Not Beguile.
He admitted the print newspaper is down, but not out. It remains a close friend to hundreds of millions of people around the world - every day. Yet it is threatened on two fronts: its ability to adapt profitably to 21st century technology, and its declining trust-worthiness: Only 30 percent of Canadians trust journalists - and it's not clear whether they are the readers who have quit or the readers who remain. The key to his lecture was his emphasis that to increase trust, there must be an end to anonymous sources. He also reiterated that good print newspapers should not be in the business of attempting to compete with TV or digital media. They are not that.
At the end Reynolds quoted from Allan Fotheringham’s (a man I photographed several times in past years including here for the October 1995 Toronto Life) latest book Boy From Nowhere - Life in Ninety-One Countries
that a young person wanting to be a journalist should not quote a liar. Reynolds then, in a brilliant little nutshell of a statement, added this:
Don’t beguile, don’t be beguiled
Stay away from journalism schools. You can’t teach journalism more than you can teach how to make love. You either got it or you ain’t.
Lauren, Santa Claus & Nothing More
Thursday, December 01, 2011
|Lauren Elizabeth Stewart|
November is over and those increasingly bleak, darker and colder days will soon be behind us (not that I don't look forward to some snow) as Christmas and December bring the promise of longer days that will take us into the light and green of spring.
In December I begin to look forward to those moments that start somewhere around the 23 when all logical activity ceases and I prepare our Christmas Eve dinner plans. I know that once it is Christmas Day (We do not celebrate it. We put all our crackers, English ones, into the previous evening’s Nochebuena) nothing will happen and Rosemary and I will lazy about the house eating Belgian clamshell chocolates and Spanish marzipan. Cold roast beef with hot mustard will satiate our appetite for food and we will watch films and read books to our hearts’ content. I will drink large mugs of Ceylon and Earl Grey tea.
Funds, Christmas funds, are nonexistent. Rosemary’s old laptop is formally dead. We might scrape up some money for a new one. We need nothing more.
I don’t want a new computer and our Sony Trinitron TV is doing just fine. I will not lust for my neighbour’s new Porsche because I love my Malibu. Because of my promise to not buy books (promise made January 2010) I will not go to Chapters for bargains. My Vancouver Public Library keeps me busy enough with good reading material and a plentiful supply of DVD films that I want to see.
Life is generously bearable and Rosemary and I do not want anything nor will we spring any surprise gifts on each other.
What we do want is health for our children and our grandchildren. We want success in our granddaughters’ future. We hope that Rebecca, 14, might soon abandon her cell phone and find a passion for something that will take her to places she might soon want to go to.
But I have one more request for Christmas. I wish that Lauren, 9, who acts like a little girl, will remain so for at least one more year. I hope that Santa Claus is alive in her heart and that she looks forward to his coming. We will oblige.
Was Minded To Put Her Away Privily
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
|Bronwen Marsden & Michael Unger|
 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.
The Gospel according to St Matthew
King James Version
My Quixotic Grandmother Is Not On facebook
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
My grandmother Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena was called by everybody Lolita. We, her grandchildren, called her Abue which is short Spanish for abuelita, an affectionate version of abuela or grandmother., Abue was a modern Sancho Panza.
I never caught on until I was fully grown how ahead of her times she was in the education and rearing of children. Since she lived with us for many years and my mother was a busy full-time high school teacher, my Abue was the one who disciplined me and taught me educación
, which is Spanish for manners.
She never spanked me and as far as I can remember she never ever shouted at me or ever dealt with me in anger. Her system, if I may be cute, just because I want to sound cute, was quixotic. But her quixotic went beyond the usual definition of purely idealistic. If any have read Don Quijote
(in Spanish the Spaniards insist that x must be a j) de la Mancha
by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra you might know that Sancho had that unstoppable bad habit of quoting aphorisms and proverbs whenever he could. His annoying habit may have been what finally pushed our Hidalgo to confront windmills.
My Abue was Sancho to my not so ingenious Quijote (remember that the original full title of Cervantes’s work was El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha
If I refused to eat at the table, Abue would not angrily force me to eat or attempt to punish me. She would simply say to me, “El burro que se acostumbró a no comer, se murió.”(the burro that grew accustomed to not eat, died).
I found many years later, that many of these refranes
(proverbs) were from the Quijote. Another of her favourites was, “El que por su gusto de muere, cantando lo entierran.” (He who dies because he wants to, will be buried with all of us singing.)
Looking back she never told me not to do something because if I did I would be punished. Her advice, quixotic, was always positive in which I was allowed to ruminate the consequences of my action.
Unlike the real Don Quijote I have always enjoyed good proverbs and aphorisms - in moderation.
But I do have one very big pet peeve and this is about the “idiots” on facebook who seem to think that they have two very important contributions to our wellbeing. One is to point us to crazy (sometimes good) links to videos, music, articles or essays through links. The second, and to be seen with alarming and dismaying frequency, is the contribution of the aphorism for the day. Another way of saying it is that these people think that the aphorisms will make us believe that they are deep and sensitive thinkers. I would add only via Hallmark. These "proverbiage" makers are keen to tell us that today's morning was glorious and life is good. They might have Bulwer-Lyttonesque ambition.
I have a friend who has at long last given up sending me via the ancient mode of communication called the email (Emilio
in Argentine Spanish!) the “Word of the Day”. Not too long ago you could find in gift catalogues that were delivered to my door by a man (sometimes a woman) who we affectionately used to call a postie, a thick square block of a calendar in which page, to be torn off daily by the lucky owner, which featured the word for the day or cat cartoons.
My friend a Vancouver Magazine co-worker (both of us are ex-co-workers) Les Wiseman had a brother, who worked for the BC Ferries who would sometimes visit his brother at the office. He came with a briefcase. Those of us who knew him would immediately hide. In that briefcase there were scads of words of the day, jokes of the week and stuff he cut out from newspapers (printers were not needed in those days that came before the more modern paperless environment of our present times).
It is alarming for me to note all the joke squares and funny videos to be found on facebook. None seem to have the charm of the huge idaho potatoes (unrealistically colourized) on rail flat cars that were the craze as postcards in the first half of the 20the century.
Perhaps now those thick square calendar blocks have gone the route of fax machines, phone conversations and Hydramatic transmissions. But they have not exactly disappeared. In facebook (I may be the only one who follows the facebook typography style of not using a cap) you will now find square, brilliantly coloured squares with such stuff as Life is short, live wide
, or The Meaning of Life is Unreachable
. Luckily the people who post these are on facebook and not on a desert island with someone like Don Quijote. They would truly be lanced in a jiffy.
Wiseman’s brother just has to be behind all this. That is the only explanation.
Addendum: From Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers,
Chapter X, Council of War
Athos to Grimaud:
'The position is critical so you may speak. Quick what have you seen?'
'A party of the enemy.'
'What are they?'
'Sixteen pioneers [pionnier or engineer] and four soldiers.'
'How far are they?'
'About five hundred yards.'
'Good. We've got time to finish this chicken and drink a bottle of wine. Your good health, D Artagnan.'
'Your health!' echoed Porthos and Aramis.
'Right my health it is!' said d'Artagnan. 'Not that I think your toast will help much.' [he is being pursued by four of the enemy including Milady and Richelieu.]
'Cheer up!' said Athos. 'As the Mohammedans say, Allah is great and the future is in his hands.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Some 12 or 13 years ago two photographic friends, Ian McGuffie, Patrice Bilawka and I worked on a joint personal project three times. It involved finding a beautiful young woman and making an appointment with her in my studio. I would then inform her that the three of us would photograph her separately and what each one of us did with her was to be kept a secret. After a month we would have a one night show in the studio and only then would all of us find out what the other had done. It was at this first meeting that I asked the important question, “If at any moment during a shoot any of us ask you to undrape you are not to object. If that will be an issue tell us now.” After this chat I would take a group shot of all of us which would mark the last time we would all be together until our one evening premiere.
We worked on three women and all the shows were a success. When we attempted a fourth, Patrice had moved to Los Angeles so a friend of Ian’s, Jessica Bushey stepped in.
For me it seems that all our energy had drained. We did manage to find a model and she did come to the studio. I did give her the speech and I did take the group shot. But the project died there. From my files I now see I did take her pictures in one session. The first session was always a feeler where I would get comfortable (a mutual situation) and from there I would proceed to ideas and themes.
The only theme I pursued in the first shoot was the “slow-entering-into-a-cold-swimming-pool” procedure. This meant that my model, Tara R. started off with clothes and ended up undraped. I wasn’t all that honest about the procedure as Tara R. did wear several outfits beginning with her first Seattle style grunge. What is interesting is that when I looked at my contacts it took me 8 exposures to get her from the grunge to a b+w underwear to nude. Then we went backwards and she dressed up. The pictures here are in chronological order. There were other pictures but these did follow a chronology. The very last one here was the very last one and I think I like it.
A Fine Film For My Lttle Princess
Sunday, November 27, 2011
In this photograph of my first cousin Jorge Wenceslao de Irureta Goyena and me we may have been 7 or 8 years old. I don’t remember the name of the dog, one of the many that Wency’s father, my Uncle Tony would bring to our garden and attempt to persuade my mother to keep.
Those were the weekend days when Wency would come with his father and mother, Tía Sarita, to fly Uncle Tony’s U-control model airplanes in a nearby football field. Wency and I played games of the imagination in our long narrow garden. One day we were pirates, the next, perhaps, we were cowboys. We played war with toy soldiers digging out fortifications and ditches in my mother’s precious garden.
Those were the weekend days when Wency and I would imagine crossing the Río Corrientes on horseback while scaring off (successfully) the pirañas that attempted to thwart us in our attempt to save the princess on the other side. She would had been captured by terrible Jívaro headhunters who were about to cut off her head and shrink it as Amazonian Jívaros were wont to do.
Those were the weekend days when Wency and I would go to the old galpón (shed) in the back where I had a large crate fitted with some boards. On one board I would lean a broom stick to which I had nailed a paper plate. On the crate’s floor I had a couple of smaller boards leaning on bricks. The crate and nailed paper plate was our car and steering wheel. The small boards were the gas pedal and the brake pedal. We drove the car very quickly because one of us was Juan Manuel Fangio (the other the co-pilot/driver) on his yearly participation in the great Argentine cross country road race in souped up Fords and Chevrolets.
When our games of imagination met up with calls for lunch or dinner we would invariably ask Uncle Tony, "¡Contanos un cuento!" His cuentos
were always about pirates, ghosts or handsome espadachines
I don’t quite remember when our exercises in imagination ceased to be and the garden became a garden and nothing more and the crate was but a crate. I guess that may have been the time when I finally realized that it was impossible for Santa Claus to deliver so many presents around the world in one evening.
Today Rosemary, Lauren, 9, and I watched Alfonso Cuarón’s delightful 1995 film A Little Princess
based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. We enjoyed the film I found for $5.00 at the now legendary for me bin at the Canadian Superstore on Marine Drive.
The film is beautifully made, just right, with the villain being villainous enough but yet villainous enough that she does not reform at the end as she would in a politically correct film of the present. Cuaron's film entertained Lauren. It entertained Rosemary and me, too.
There is little magic in the film except that in the lead protagonist’s imagination. Her father does tell her that magic exists for anybody that believes in it. But a rarity in these days the film features a little girl with a penchant for telling stories. They are stories of her rampant imagination. In these stories it is the imagination that will provide special effects that can never be realized by the film kind.
By the end of A Little Princess
I wondered if I could sit on an old crate and experience the magic within my imagination that would convert the crate into Fangio’s car. I believe that had I been just a tad younger (just a tad!) it would have been the case!