I Rise & Grieve - With Repeated Pleasure
Saturday, May 16, 2015
|Benjamin Perrot & Jeffrey Thompson|
Of the French group La Rêveuse
which includes the marvelously
American tenor Jeffrey
Thompson I wrote about here
last March when they were in Vancouver for an Early Music Vancouver
In April I was driving my Malibu to Portland on my way to
photograph baroque violinist Monica Hugget
. In my car’s sound system I was
playing a La Rêveuse CD dedicated entirely to English composer Henry Lawes. It
was a second experience which lacked (a tad) the physical presence of the four
performers. Luckily with a combination of memory and imagination they were
almost with me in my car. In reality since I don't have a sunroof my Malibu could not have possibly accommodated Benjamin Perrot long-necked theorbo.
At age 72 you would think that I would
be freed of that youthful desire to wear out
45 rpm singles (Diana!), or a slightly more mature over and over repetition of
Stan Getz playing Desafinado
with Charlie Byrd. And, slightly more recently, humming
Nick Lowe’s Cruel to Be Kind
while pruning my roses in March. But that has not
been the case. Today after my wife, daughter Hilary and granddaughter Lauren
finished seeing Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 film Don’t Look Now
(set in Venice) and a
beautiful documentary on the American Ballet Theatre on PBS I took mother and daughter
home. Playing in the car, over and over was track 6, Henry Lawes' I rise and
I felt as if I were a young man full of desire, romance
and exuberance although you might note that the lyrics that accompany the
haunting melody are not exactly happy.
On the way we picked up my other granddaughter Rebecca
who inquired if the singer was singing in German. It was Lauren who said, “Didn’t
you hear him say 'I rise and grieve, I walk and see my sorrow?'”
You can never tell if the American Ballet Theatre
documentary or Henry Lawes as performed by La Rêveuse will leave a lasting
impression on my two granddaughters. I can only hope that some day, before they
are 72, that they, too, will find the excitement of that song, one that is indelible in
I find it almost refreshing to point out that there is no YouTube version of the song so if anybody who reads this is curious the only solution is to buy the CD. Mirare Mir 177.
I Rise And Grieve -
Henry Lawes (5 December 1595 – 21 October 1662)
I rise and grieve
I rise and grieve,
I walk and see my sorrow,
I eat, I live
Perchance not till tomorrow.
I lay me down to rest and then again
I rise, I walk, I feed and lie in pain
Mend thou my state
O Jove, I thee implore,
Or end by fate
What thou hast made before.
If I but close
The covers of my sight,
Then slumb’ring woes
With dreams my sleeps affright;
And if awake I seek to ease my mind,
Some new bred cares my troubled
thoughts do find.
Mend thou my state
O Jove, I thee implore,
Or end by fate
What thou hast made before.
Or if it be
Thy will I should endure
What unto me
Is almost past recure,
Give me but strength to undergo
Which like a torrent runs through my veins;
Or mend my state,
Which as my days do fade;
Or end by fate
What thou before hast made.
|Manuscript of I rise and grieve in Henry Lawes' hand|
Les Choses Sont Contre Nous
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
|Rosa 'Fair Bianca' May 12 2015|
Around 1970 Rosemary and I (and daughter Ale) were living in
a Mexico City outskirts colonia called Arboledas. From my mother, who was
living in Veracruz we inherited her big and very dumb boxer called Antonio. He
had a tongue so long (longer than yours Gene Simmons) that he could not close
his mouth without leaving part of the tongue outside.
We had a back garden and a patio and we were much too young
and stupid to give Antonio good walks. I would call out for him to tell him
dinner was served, “Antonio, Antonio!” About a year later just before we had to
put him down as he was old and sick a few of my neighbours asked me if I had a
son or a student living with us called Antonio as they had never ever seen him.
|Antonio in Veracruz|
We went to the Mexico City Pound/shelter where they injected
our poor Antonio. Rosemary was so sad that we decided to bring home then and
there another dog. We went to the dog cage and all the dogs began to bark at
us. I thought they were trying to tell us (individually), “Take me home.”
A forlorn gray mutt who may had some terrier
in her (not very pretty) just stared at us. So we made our choice and brought
Mouche (because she was gray/black and almost as ugly as a fly). She was a
spirited dog but gentle with Ale (around 3) who pulled her tail. She never
snapped back. Because we were young a stupid we did not know that one should spay
a bitch. This meant that our free ranging mutt had at least three litters of
puppies that I could never get rid of. Nobody wanted them. It was my job to drown them. This was a
terrible action on my part and I not only suffered doing this but I had to
suffer the sad expression on Mouche's face. I had nightmares. When we left Mexico
City for Vancouver in 1975 we gave Mouche to my compadre
Andrew Taylor who fussed over her and she finally died a very happy and spayed
|Mouche & Alexandra Elizabeth in Arboledas Mexico|
A few weeks ago I went to Stong’s Groceries on Dunbar where
my daughter Hilary works in the one-person health & wellness department. On
that day they had plants that were leftover from their plant sale a few days
before. I was on the lookout for a bougainvillea for Rosemary (which she was
going to give as gift to our Lillooet teacher daughter, Ale. There was no
bougainvillea but there were many very good plants. I looked at them and I was
thrown back to the dog pound cage in Mexico City in 1970. The plants were silently
beckoning to me, “Take me home.” Some of the more selfless ones were saying, “Take
us home.” I would have had I been rich. I told Hilary about my feeling and she
immediately told me four words that have affected me deeply now for weeks, “Because
they are alive.”
As a little boy about five I remember taking a tub bath in
our Buenos Aires home on Melián Street. I remember that I had a thimble-sized
puppet like little man. He went down the drain and I cried for hours. The
little man was alive to me. He was part of me and I felt very sad that he would
be somewhere, very cold, dark and wet, without me to take care for him. In many ways most of my personal (material) possessions
have been like that little guy since.
I have 4000 books and more cameras (in this digital age,
since my cameras have been well used they would be seen as junk) than anybody
who is not a collector could possibly have. I have 11 or 12 four-drawer metal
cabinets with negatives, slides and prints since I started shooting in the late
50s. Many of those pictures represent and era of politicians, actor, directors,
criminals, etc of Vancouver.
In some way they are all alive to me. I am constantly
reminded of this fact by the curious and not too well known theory of
resistentialism. Inanimate objects (we as humans perceive them as such) do not
understand that they are indeed animate. We mistreat them, throw them around
and generally do not appreciate how they make our life easier. My cameras break
when they shouldn’t. My flash chords are constantly in knots and trip over
black extension chords. These objects do not like to be mistreated so they
I should know better. In 1955 Brother Edwin Reggio,
C.S.C., who taught me religion with a smattering of philosophy and theology,
told us that in the scheme of things from atoms to humans there was an upwards
spiral towards consciousness. He was simply putting it in a simpler way than
Teilhard de Chardin does in his Phenomenon of Man. The upward sequence is
something like this, atom, molecule, cell, virus, amoeba, invertebrate, vertebrate to mammal and finally to man. And it did not stop there. He explained
that man was part spirit and part body. A dog or cat had a limited amount of
spirit but probably no self-awareness. From Brother Edwin went to angels, all
spirit but no body to the ultimate and all-spirit God.
My 18-year-old cat looks at stares at me as she lies on
my legs when I am in bed. I imagine (?) intelligence and wonder if she knows
who she is and what I am. As she meows (constantly) for food and attention I think
she is telling me, “Alex, pay attention to me. I will not be around much
longer, let’s make the best of it while we can.”
Casi-Casi, Rosemary’s 18-pounder cat is sweet, easygoing
and mellow. I can feel not only Rosemary’s stress but my own dissipate as we
hold him. Why cannot more humans be like Casi-Casi?
The encroaching large trees from our neighbour’s house
(they rent so they would never consider any pruning) are affecting my beloved
roses. They not only need light but they need sun. They are withering away very
much the way I feel my body is going. We are in this decline together.
People ask me what my secret for scanning my roses might
be. Invariably I tell them, “I talk to them and they talk to me back.” What I
really mean is that I live with them every day and I observe them and I know
just when to snip one or two to suspend over my scanner.
If you have a garden it is mandatory to walk it every
day. You might observe weeds or pests that have to be dealt with if your friends
are to do well and be (feel?) comfortable in the garden.
It is inevitable that the roses (my hostas do just fine
in the shade, but would do better with more light) will say goodbye. On some
days I wonder who will go first they or their owner.
But all this is becoming moot as our health and our
constant bathroom leaks and problems make it ever more difficult and expensive
to remain in our home since 1986.
We live in an area where for the last 20 years
demolitions have been the norm. These demolitions usually begin with the chain
sawing of trees. It does not take too much imagination to hear the groans of
the trees. The terrible noise of the cranes smashing the houses (in some cases
kitchen appliances, bathtubs, etc are part of demolition noise) makes Casi-Casi
and Plata run into the house.
For me a house is more than a shelter. Even cave dwellers
decorated the walls of their homes. For me a house is a living thing. In it
children have been conceived and born. People have died in them. People have
had dreams and made plans for the future in them. I believe in some sort of
ghost that will occupy a house once the tenant is gone. I can still feel or
imagine Mrs. Young who had a stroke on our kitchen floor and somehow survived,
sold the house and moved to Toronto.
Can ghosts survive demolitions?
Twenty years ago the thought that our house would be
demolished if we sold it was a problem always in our mind. Now our feeling is
that we know it will go for and be replaced by energy efficient walls and
windows and radiant heated floors. We know that. We also know that once we
leave we will not look back or ever return. The demolition has already
happened. It is the moving that soon will have to begin. Rosemary and I look at
each other. We know this.
About a week ago one of the
first roses of the season was my white English Rose, Rosa ‘Fair Bianca’. She is
a difficult rose to grow in my shady garden. Her scent, the English call it
myrrh, resembles a complex combination of Pernod, lemon, whipped cream and
magnolia soap. I could in my memory (it is very good for scent) smell exactly
as she did when I brought my nose to her.
Last year my Rosa sericea subsp. omeiensis formapteracantha
+-(isn’t that grand sounding?) was a vigorous rose that became one of
the best images in last year’s Early Music Vancouver
Calendar. It promoted
Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo.
By late summer the huge branches began to wither
(for no reason that I could see). I cut the branches off until by late the rose
(one of its trunks was three inches wide) was no more. In the beginning of
winter shoots came up from the ground, but they, too died. It was about this
time that Robin Denning told me that the parent plant (from whence mine came)
had also died. If this is the case then this rose (a rare species rose) is
probably extinct in our province.
We are looking at houses which are being nicely found by
Tim Turner. We are ambivalent. But leaks are multiplying and Rosemary know that
the opening of our garden in June for the Vancouver Rose Society will be the
last one. If we leave by late fall, many of our plants might go to a couple of
botanical gardens that might (just might) want them
The idea of having a garage sale depresses me. Rosemary
has suggested we rent a bin and chuck what we don’t want into it.
But there is one little hitch Rosa sericea subsp.
omeiensis forma pteracantha
now has a little vigorous shoot. What are we to do
with our Lazarus? Is it communicating something?
There is one comfort. Wherever we go, Casi-Casi and Plata
(if she survives the year) will be with us. And every rose in my garden is
represented in hard copy (digital that is) scans that preserve them in their
prime as they were.