More Numerous Of Windows
Saturday, April 25, 2015
I dwell in Possibility
By Emily Dickinson
I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –
Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –
Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
Rosa 'Blowsy' & Salem
Friday, April 24, 2015
|John Tuytle's blowsy mystery rose|
One of my favourite rosarians (a rose enthusiast) was
Langley sheep farmer (originally from Holland) John Tuytle
who on the side grew
roses of all kinds, particularly the ones that struck his fancy.
He propagated many of these and would set up
shop once a year at the VanDusen Plant Sale. Many of my rarest or unusual roses
came from him. I describe here
one he provided me in the heat of
August (when most roses go for a forced rest) that became a Canada Post rose.
There was one rose that I really wanted called Rosa
‘Ramona’ which was a hybrid of a species Rosa
laevigata. At different times of one year he sold me three and none were
ever Rosa ‘Ramona’. I have them
labeled in my garden as Tuytle’s Mystery Rose.
My favourite is the one illustrated here. It has little
scent but is extremely floriferous in an almost untidy manner. I have long
given up (and felt much better for it in scanning or taking pictures of a
perfect rose. In my photograph here (not a scan) you can see it in its glory.
When I look at it I smile. I know it is a female and I have one word to
describe her, blowsy.
Blowsy brings to mind a delightful, always smiling young
woman, 22 or 23 that I photographed for a couple of years some 13 years ago. I’ll
call her Salem.
The pictures of Salem here are from our first session. The
photographs in later sessions got more subtle, more erotic, more adventurous
and even cute. For my money these are blowsy like my John Tuytle mystery rose.
A Phenomenal Four Seasonal Fenómeno
Thursday, April 23, 2015
|Monica Huggett - Portland March 29 2015|
When it comes to violinists, virtuosity is not entirely
the result of mechanical finger velocity and sheer technique, as it is with
pianists. The violin is an instrument which has almost human whims—it is
attuned to the mood of the player in a sympathetic rapport: a minute
discomfort, the tiniest inner imbalance, a whiff of sentiment elicits an
immediate resonance . . . probably because the violin, pressed against the
chest, can percieve our heart’s beat. But this happens only with artists who
truly have a heart that beats, who have a soul. The more sober, the more
heartless a violinist is, the more uniform will be his performance, and he can
count on the obedience of his fiddle, any time, any place. But this
much-vaunted assurance is only the result of a spiritual limitation, and some
of the greatest masters were often dependent on influences from within and
Thoughts on the Violin and on Violinists
Heinrich Heine (1843)
I began this blog in January 2006. Since then I have
written 3404 blogs. Some of them are pretty good and some are perfunctory or
simply written to fill in the week.
As far as I can tell I have never had such a big hole of
missing blogs to which I must inevitably catch up to.
One of the reasons for the blog block could be that I am
in the throws of taking portraits of women who specialize in the playing of
instruments that were in use in the 17th and 18th
century. I could have saved myself some unneeded worries if I had approached
this project (which has taken me to Portland, Seattle, Victoria and locally to
places like Ladner) with my Fuji X-E1 digital camera. Somehow I thought that
these women deserved my best and my best could only be delivered in b+w film
exposed with my medium format Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD. With that camera in my hand
(but on a tripod as it is very heavy) I feel the same certitude of success as
King Arthur must have had while wielding Sword Excalibur.
I have at this point photographed 23 women who play
instruments not all currently seen is a conventional symphony orchestra. I have
had to process rolls of 120 film (ten exposures) in my darkroom which has been
truly dark for some time but not of late! Knowing I could not return to
re-shoot any of these women I had to make sure those 10 exposures (that was my
self-imposed limit, one roll per musician) were processed correctly and that I
did not precipitate the many possible mishaps that might have resulted in the
ruination of my efforts.
Happily I can report that the 23 women (so far) are all
Here is a preview (I must not let the cat out of the bag)
of one of the women. She is violinist Monica Huggett who is a solo/virtuoso
violinist of note around the world who happens to be the Artistic Director of
the Portland Baroque Orchestra
She and her beloved and most artistically efficient
orchestra will be in Vancouver on Friday, May 1 at the Chan and will perform
Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
which are part of his Opus 8
, entitled Il
cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione
. I will write a preview, at length, about this Early Music Vancouver
concert in a
later blog in a couple of days.
For now I want to explain something about the colour
version of my portraits of Monica Huggett. Those who have commissioned me for
this project will select the final images. But not this one in colour! There
are four other exposures, and in one of them Huggett closed her eyes. There is
one where she shows a fine smile. But I like the no-nonsense look of this one.
I own an extended collection of Huggett’s works (all
baroque) and I have seen her live a few times. When not playing she could be
one of your British aunts or the cat lady around the corner. She is a serious
gardener and has one by the sea (and mostly difficult chalky soil, I would
guess) in England but lives in Portland.
When she plays she is transformed into another person.
She plays with fuerza
(I like that Spanish word) and a passion second to none.
She can be delicate in quiet passages but note her formidable forearms. With
them she executes music (in both senses of that verb) with no comparison in
anybody else that I have ever been lucky to listen to.
And she does not forget to smile and thus display the fun
she is having.
Many years ago Saturday Night Magazine
hired me to
photograph violin prodigy Corey Cerovsek
when he was 14. They wanted me to
convey in my photograph that somehow Cerovsek had talent that came from some
connection with the devil. Such a connection was also attributed to Niccolò Paganini.
I was able to convey the diabolical connection with lighting and a raised
eyebrow but I felt happier with my image of the young boy (and a young boy he
was) wearing my striped T-shirt and a bike behind him.
There is no possible way that anybody who has met Monica
Huggett could ever think of such ungodly links as an explanation for her virtuosic
I have a far simpler explanation courtesy of my Spanish
grandmother who once saw Manolete in a bullfight. She said he was a fenómeno
There is no rational explanation for that kind of talent while the assertion
that its rarity is a given. I have met one person who was a fenómeno. That was
and is Canadian dancer Evelyn Hart
El Ombligo De La Luna
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Spain had its Siglo de Oro
(Golden Century) which began around the expulsion of the Moors and with
Columbus in 1492) and though scholars like to make it a neat century, there were two. It ended with the death of Pedro Calderón de la Barca in 1681.
Poetry was alive and well in the New World, before Hernán
Cortés landed near Veracuz in 1519. This was particularly so with the Náhuatl speaking Aztecs in Central
The word Mexico, in Náhuatl represents a poetic ombligo de la luna “belly button of the
moon”. Mexico derives from Mexitli of
which metzli is moon, xictli belly button and co place.
Some contest this and simply say that when the precursors of
Aztecs, the wandering Mexicas saw the eagle land on a cactus to devour a snake
on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco they knew they were home. That
island was the belly button.
The above is simply my justification (a slim one) for
placing here a picture I took in 1999 that I never bothered to enlarge. I saw
it today and I was charmed.
I took the picture of Helen Yagi using Kodak b+w Infrared
Film. I placed in front of my lens a number 25 deep red filter and processed
the film in Kodak HC-110 Dilution B. The film has long been discontinued but I
have 30 rolls in my freezer. As soon as I find my right subject I will take out
a couple of rolls but this time I will try Kodak’s T-Max Developer.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
My abuelita Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena and I were pals.
and I were pals from the moment I can remember her when I was 5or 6 until
she died in 1970. She considered herself an artist (she painted and was a
coloratura soprano) so she protected me from stuff in the presence of my father
and mother telling them they simply did not understand the mind of an artist.
Like her, she told them, I was an artist.
Throughout our friendly and very close relationship my
grandmother showered me with the advice that came from a woman who had lived.
Her most often repeated maxim, when I was wowed at the fact that she always
seemed to be right was, “Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo.” This translates to, “The devil is wise not
because he is the devil but because he is an old man.”
As I watch my plants in our garden and I know what they
are doing and why they are thriving or not, I understand that I have invaluable
information in my head that does not come from books but from having observed
my garden for many years. I am not particularly worried or upset that I will
die with all this information in my head not extracted. It will fade away with
my body and whatever else is part of it into oblivion.
The sunnier side of all this has been explored by many a
Hollywood film where an adult goes back in time to the body of their youth with
their mature mind and experience intact.
Often we men when discussing the manly pursuit of women
we tell each other, “If we had only known then what we know now! We would have
been unstoppable with the girls.”
It would seem that practical wisdom comes late in life
when there are only two possible uses for it. One is to impart it to whoever
might listen or to go to the grave with it. Unless of course you decide to have
a post mid-life crisis, you dump your wife, buy a red Jag and go for a
middle-aged redhead. The wisdom that comes from having lived long immediately
nixes that and you find yourself content in the idea that you no longer rake
leaves in the garden (and break your back) but simply scoop them up with the
vacuum effect of a good mulching lawnmower.
Photographically I used to shoot rolls and rolls. That
with time became rolls and then roll. In the last few years that roll becomes
one or two exposures. With my digital camera I use the same philosophy. You
know when you have your picture and you need not go on and waste shutter finger
My wife says I live in the past and yet her approach to
many things is through the wisdom of hindsight. She often tells me, “We should
have done this.”
My Abuelita knew better. Her maxim was, “Nadie te quita
lo bailado.” This translates to, “Nobody can take away dances danced and
pleasures had even if the present brings pain and worry.”
My illustration here is a scan of one of my Mark’s Work Wearhouse
socks. I own 10 pairs. They are black so I can wear them with a suit but they are
sporty enough to wear with jeans. Best of all I never have mismatched socks.
And that terrible syndrome of the loss of the matching sock (the used to go to
where clouds come from into a completely blue sky) is reduced to a minimum.
Every couple of years I buy one pair of black jeans and two pairs of blue, also at Mark's. The
new ones replace the old ones which I relegate to gardening and to cleaning the
house.Why did I ever waste so much money (the kind of thought my Rosemary would have) on Levis and Lees?
Is that wisdom? Yes, and I am not even a
As for women, I am not going to look back and kick myself for not knowing what Helmut Newton
knew back in the 80s. I have my very own Maria Ninguém
right here at home.
A Surprise - A Commonplace Book At My Vancouver Public Library
Monday, April 20, 2015
My 17-year-old female cat Plata
has become needy and possessive.
She always wants to be on my lap or on Rosemary’s. She is hungry all the time
and because of her age the cause is hyperthyroidism. She mews loudly when she
wants her food. She drives me crazy but at the same time I see this in this
“Alex I am going to die soon. I will be out of your hair
but until that time comes I want to share as much of what is left of my time
As I watch Rachel Maddow
on TV with Rosemary and with
Plata on my lap I think that this cat amply proves how we humans need human
warmth and contact. Social networks will never provide any of us with that real
warmth that transfers from my old Plata’s body onto mine.
All the above was reinforced by a recent trip to my
Oakridge Branch of the Vancouver Public Library. For $6.00 I purchased in their
reject bin (people also donate to this) a pristine set of film DVDs (7 of them) entitled the Stanley Kubrick Collection.
In the staff picks I found the Alex Guinness A Commonplace
Book. In it was this poem by John Updike:
Another Dog’s Death
For days the good old bitch had been dying, her back
pinched down to the spine and arched to ease the pain,
her kidneys dry, her muzzle white. At last
I took a shovel into the woods and dug her grave
in preparation for the certain. She came along,
which I had not expected. Still, the children gone,
such expeditions were rare, and the dog,
spayed early, knew no nonhuman word for love.
She made her stiff legs trot and let her bent tail wag.
We found a spot we liked, where the pines met the field.
The sun warmed her fur as she dozed and I dug;
I carved her a safe place while she protected me.
I measured her length with the shovel’s long handle;
she perked in amusement, and sniffed the heaped-up earth.
Back down at the house, she seemed friskier,
but gagged, eating. We called the vet a few days later.
They were old friends. She held up a paw, and he
injected a violet fluid. She swooned on the lawn;
we watched her breathing quickly slow and cease.
In a wheelbarrow up to the hole, her warm fur shone.