Saturday, April 07, 2018
I met the striking Jessi a few months back. She came over
and posed for my friend Curtis Daily and myself. She was fun to photograph not
to mention helping her affix a black ribbon around her body with gaffer tape
that did not seem to stick!
After our afternoon photo session Jessi made the decision
that she had had enough of city living and owning things. She sold lots (and
must have thrown away lots) and moved out of the city to explore the boonies.
My Filipino mother many years ago told me that in WWII when
American soldiers were based in the Philippines they modified the Tagalog word
bundok (which my mother pronounced boonedook for mountain which also meant far
away) to boonies.
Jessi wanted to escape the complexity of our city and to
perhaps live a simple (pastoral) life.
Many years ago on a trip to England I took a rapid train
from Shropshire to Euston Station in London. I remember looking
out of the window and seeing landscapes that reminded me of the music composer
Edward Elgar. I instantly relaxed and felt at ease with myself.
It is my hope that Jessi, out there, is able to do just
Una Simple Taza de Té
Friday, April 06, 2018
|Rebecca Stewart at Les Delis in Punta del Este,Uruguay|
Part of my recent melancholy has nothing to do with the rain
or the gray skies. It has to do with the fact that I am on a red carpet that is
unrolling forward into uncertainty while the back is rolling up towards me.
I am still in the shock of having learned that my high
school buddy, Lee (Buddy) Lytton III died a few days ago and he was one year
It is not necessary for anybody to ask me what I want right
now and what would dispel my deepening melancholy.
On my mother’s side I only have four relatives left. Three
are first cousins in the US and the other a very Argentine one in Buenos Aires. Luckily on my father's side there are many more and in particular two female first cousins in Buenos Aires and my other relatives the O'Reillys are warm and I go to see them once a year.
A lot is being written how President Donald Trump is
dragging the US into isolation. There was a similar feeling there in the mid-30s
when no Americans wanted to be involved with the coming war in Europe. It took
Franklin Roosevelt to force a change in that.
I believe that there is now a different type of isolation
which at one time may have been called cocooning.
When was anybody lately been invited to a cocktail party?
How about a pot-luck party? If you want to have coffee with a friend you have
to make an appointment.
I get phone calls from three friends and another I may have
a pleasant chat if the call goes in that direction.
I remember in the late 70s when we lived in Burnaby that on
late Saturday afternoons Rosemary and I would go to some sort of party.
Then there is a self-imposed isolation. Do I really want to
go to the Commodore or a bigger venue to see an aging rock band from abroad?
I have written here that I need not play any of my many
versions of Gerry Mulligan playing My Funny Valentine. I listen to it in my memory. My superb stereo system
with JBL studio monitors is quiet. All this is due that at one time I would have shared the tune with a visitor. Now what do most do? They post a YouTube video and just say, "My fave Frank song."
I have around 600 very good movie DVDs. Rarely can I
convince my Rosemary to watch any of them. We would rather be repelled by Trump's scandals on MSNBC.
Here we are on our lovely bed with Casi-Casi between us and
Rosemary is on her iPhone7 while I check stuff on my Galaxy. Is this an
addiction that eliminates human interaction? Yes.
So what do I want right now? I want to walk down Juramento
in Buenos Aires to my first cousin’s apartment on Barrancas de Belgrano to have
tea. She will have lovely sweet pastries and well-made tea from tea leaves
(that I may have brought from Vancouver). Or I could call her up and suggest we
walk together to Confitería Esmeralda (on Juramento). In Buenos Aires
confiterías are sort of sit-in bakeries, tea joints, where you can have a classic British
tea with everything including sandwiches without their crusts. The Esmeralda is
special because as a boy my mother would order my birthday cakes from there.
But there is a problem. My first cousin and godmother
Inesita O’Reilly Kuker is dead and has been now for two years.
Perhaps I could have tea with my granddaughter Rebecca in
Punta del Este in Uruguay. She is now 20 and has other interests. She would not
be willing to jump into an airplane with me to go to some country to have tea.
I guess as one gets older life gets simpler. Problems are no
longer seen as important. But there is a catch in this. The catch is that the
former simple things of life are not to be had now.
Tea with my cousins
While in the Argentine Navy I found out a little obscure rule that said that if I produced a proof of having donated blood I would get a day off. I would go to the British Hospital in BA (once a month even though I have a pathological fear of needles) and give blood. This came with a "Té Completo" which consisted of tea with goodies. Armed with my certificate I would get the next day off.
Death - Cats & Shoe Boxes
Thursday, April 05, 2018
school friend Lee Lytton III died a few days ago. He was 74. I am 75. This has
been happening a lot so I have been thinking about death and the lesser importance
of what I used to think was important.
became depressed because I could not find a Fuji storage card that I used in
January 2016 to photograph former dancer Nina Davies who was back from England
to visit her parents. I took some very
rapid portraits of her with the burst capabilities of my Fuji. Davies was going
to write about her obsession about the music that somehow is there between
notes. The idea that my portraits would not be intended but somehow shot in
between would illustrate her essay. That never happened and I gave up nagging
now a finality in those lost exposures.
looking for those shots I found this one of my former little and most beautiful
female cat, Plata. She liked the top of the fridge because of the pump that dispersed
hot air above.
We moved to
our present location in late January 20016. Plata became sick and died in
When I told
my granddaughter Lauren about this I could tell that she knew that I was going
to bury her in the little garden of our new house. This I did.
father died in the mid-60s I never saw him dead. I have almost no recollection
of the funeral or if I was the only person there. Of my mother it is different.
Rosemary and I watched her expel her last breath of air on her bed. She was
living with us in our house in Arboledas, Estado de Mexico. Rosemary does not
remember but I do. A doctor came, the only one we could find. He was a
veterinarian. He looked at my mother and then told me in as kind a voice as he
could muster, “Está muertita.” The diminutive little-dead-one has a sound that almost lessened the
shock for me.
By my count
we have had 8 cats that died in the years we have been in Vancouver. One of
them Cigarra we never found. Perhaps she was taken by a Coyote from VanDusen.
The other cats I buried in our garden and somehow broke two spades doing it.
Luckily Rosemary never saw my white female Polilla. She was eviscerated by a
Raccoon and she was not a pretty sight.
Rosemary’s black cat, I left him and Rosemary on the bed on my way to some job.
They were watching Vertigo. When I returned I heard Rosemary scream, “Mosca has
not moved. I think he is dead.” He was and probably died of some heart seizure.
Plata the sorriest death was our Toby. I had to take him to be put down because
he was old and very sick. At Cats Only I was given a shoe box. Inside was Toby
wrapped in a little towel. I buried him in the garden.
is the one that will induce insomnia tonight after having found her photograph. She was very sick and
shivering one night. We put her by the heat register in the kitchen. A few
hours later she was dead. Rigor mortis can be shocking. The flexibility and grace of a cat is its identity.
of a father and of a mother is an experience we all have to go through before
we consciously, or not, meet our own death.
idea of picking up a dead animal that you loved and then to place her in a hole
in the ground is a wrenching experience that makes death that much more alive
(if I can use that word).
is getting old and Rosemary fears for him. He stares at us and sleeps between
us in our marital bed (so much for that marital bed).
wondering if he is aware of his identity of being a cat. I wonder if he can
think. Is he frustrated that he cannot talk to us?
death of a pet is more in your face. Does it lessen the impact of thinking that
one’s days are numbered?
The Warmth of Mexico - Part X - El Templo Mayor
Wednesday, April 04, 2018
|Templo Mayor - Zócalo - México D.F.|
What I particularly miss in the cold newness of Vancouver with its cyan skies is not to be able to imagine the place hundreds of years before by going through ancient doorways and looking at the decaying wood of the doors. Without too much imagination I can imagine what those people of yore did. One of my favourite poets, Mexican Homero Aridjis wrote the poem below (in Spanish with an English translation following it. When I look at these photographs I can feel the heat, hear the rumbling of buses and the car horns. I can smell tortillas being made in tortillerías. My nostalgia for Mexico beckons for me to return soon.
cuerpos de muchachas
puertas que ya no son
puentes que son vaciós
con el sol en la cara
|Homero Aridjis - Zócalo - Templo Mayor|
Letter From Mexico
walk with us
through these back streets
the stares of children
young girls’ bodies
cross through them
we travel through them
at doorways that no longer are
on bridges that are empty
while with the sun on our faces
move toward transparency
Eyest to See Otherwise - Ojos de otro mirar
Edited by Betty Farber and George McWhirter
Noli me tangere & Mary Magdalene
Tuesday, April 03, 2018
"Touch me not for I am a teapot."
|Rosa 'Mary Magdalene' It fades into a virginal white with age. Scan -Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena
Noli me tangere is the Latin version of a phrase spoken,
according to John 20:17, by Jesus to Mary Magdalene when she recognized him
after his resurrection.
A loose translation into English would be "don't
cling to me or "don't touch me." The original Koine Greek phrase, Μή μου ἅπτου (mē mou haptou), is better represented in
translation as "cease holding on to me" or "stop clinging to
me", i.e. an ongoing action, not one done in a single moment.
The biblical scene of Mary Magdalene's recognizing Jesus
Christ after his resurrection became the subject of a long, widespread and
continuous iconographic tradition in Christian art from Late Antiquity to the
present. Pablo Picasso, for example, used the painting Noli me tangere by
Antonio da Correggio, stored in the Museo del Prado, as an iconographic source
for his famous painting La Vie (Cleveland Museum of Art) from the so-called
As a little boy I heard “Noli me tangere” a lot from my grandmother Dolores's lips in
relation to a 19th century Philippine patriot’s (José Rizal) novel by
that name (published in 1887). It was about the inequities of the Spanish
colonizers and Roman Catholic clergy. It was published in Spanish. The book has
vanished (I have no idea when it disappeared) from my library.
For me Easter is a time of reflection. While Time
have told us that God Is Dead
(in the last century) it is difficult to erase
(modern digital term re-format?) from my mind the years of a Roman Catholic
upbringing plus a four year education at St. Edward’s High School in Austin.
Thanks to Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. who taught our class not religion but
theology (what did we know? ) I am able to explain all the intricacies of
|Noli me tangere - Corregio|
This time of reflection which is tinged by the memory of
my grandmother calling me in (around 1 in the afternoon) when I was playing in
the street. I was to kneel with my
mother as she read the last 7 Words of Christ. And of course there was no music
to be played in our radio that whole day.
A bit of mirth was allowed on the next day Sábado de
As I reflect on Easter during Easter one of my thoughts
is about taking Rebecca, my then 8-year-old granddaughter to the lovely church
of La Valenciana in Guanajuato, Mexico. Upon entering the the church on the
left side was a very large baroque style painting that featured Christ and a
crowd. Smack in the middle was a very blond, long-haired woman. I explained to
Rebecca that the woman was Mary Madgalene about to be stoned for being an
Brother Edwin had explained to us that this scene is the
only one described in the bible where Christ is known (perhaps) to have
written. He writes or makes some signs on the ground and the crowd disperses.
It would seem that Christ has written some of the sins of those present.
And Mary Magdalene leads to my often re-read in Spanish
of José Saramago’s El Evangelio Según Jesucristo. In this novel Mary Magdalene
brings in an exhausted and sore Christ into her house. She cares for him an
ultimately teaches the man the ways of a man in her bed. Such was the scandal
of this novel in Portugal that Saramago left for the Canary Islands. When he
won the Nobel his country tried to woo him back.
I believe (in 100% of the meaning of that word) that to
think of these events (be they true or not) they are good for the soul even
though they might bring some melancholy hours and insomnia on a Sábado de
He suspects the woman is a prostitute, not because he is particularly
good at guessing people's professions at first glance, besides, not
that long ago he himself would have been identified as a shepherd by the
smell of goat, yet now everyone would say, He's a fisherman, for he
lost one smell only to replace it with another. The woman reeks of
perfume, but Jesus, who may be innocent, has learned certain facts of
life by watching the mating of goats and rams, he also has enough common
sense to know that just because a woman uses perfume, it does not
necessarily mean she is a whore.
The Gospel According to Jesus Christ
José Saramago translated from the Portuguese by Giovanni Pontiero