La Pyracantha coccinea grabada en mi memoria
Saturday, October 19, 2019
|Pyracantha coccinea 19 October 2019|
para mí es un sentimiento/pensamiento que, como mi sombra en un día de sol,
siempre me sigue. Allí está, inclusive en los sueños.
que para recordar hay que primero olvidar. Es obvio al estudiar esa observación
pregunto por qué me acuerdo de ciertas cosas y de otras, nó?
En los dos
años, 65, 66, que estuve en Buenos Aires como marinero de la Armada República
Argentina, no me acuerdo nada de las conversaciones que tuve con mi papá cuando
lo iba a visitar donde vivía en la calle de Carabobo. ¿Habrá algún filtro que
nos proteja de memorias que nos podrían desbalancear?
mudamos a nuestra casita en el barrio de Kitsilano en Vancouver de un jardín
grande hace casi cuatro años me fijé de una planta con frutitos colorados que
crece en nuestro garaje (ahora mi oficina y estudio fotográfico).
de esa planta en los otoños asoleados del Bueno Aires de mi niñez me vino en
una racha de nostalgia y melancolía por tiempos pasados.
que mi mamá me llevo a visitar a mi Tía Winnie (casada con el hermano de mi
papá, Harry) en Acassuso. Mi tía sufría una terrible artritis y los dedos de
sus manos estaban deformados. Me acuerdo que mi Tío Harry estaba mezclando mostaza
inglesa en polvo Colman’s, con agua y le ponía una cucharadita de azúcar. Hasta
la fecha me encanta siempre le pongo azúcar a la mostaza inglesa y me acuerdo
de la Tía Winnie y Uncle Harry.
camino a la casa en Acassuso, al bajarnos del tren Mitre tengo esa memoria de jardines
con la Pyrancantha coccinea escaramando
las paredes de las casas con frutos colorados o anaranjados.
¿Por qué me
Friday, October 18, 2019
A few days ago I wrote in this blog
the silliness of using Vaseline to blur the edges
of a photograph. That I used that same technique here puts the photographs of
Ana Victoria and this lovely blond in the same time frame.
at this blonde woman whose name I long ago forgot brings me to that thought we
always have of, “What if?”
In 1974 my
Rosemary, our two daughters and I had a nice little house which we owned in
Arboledas, in the outskirts of Mexico City. We taught English at American
Companies and a chain of American hotels. I taught Spanish at Universidad Iberoamericana, a Jesuit
institution. Life was simple except for the hectic drive in our VW on the bumper
to bumper periférico.
said we need to move to Canada. She said that the US was not a choice as my
Argentine citizenship and that of our daughters’ Mexican would make us aliens. “Toronto
would be too cold for you and you would not understand French I Montreal. We
will go to Vancouver. And we will go there in our VW.”
We quit our
jobs and put our house for sale. That was a terrible mistake. There were no
takers. We needed the money so I started taking photographs of Mexican families
with my primitive equipment ( a Pentax S-3 and a Pentacon F). I had a small
darkroom so I printed the photographs and then mounted (a custom at the time)
them on mat board with dry mounting tissue using Rosemary’s iron.
knew it business was booming. My photographs, taken with Kodak Tri-X and with
only available light, seemed to hit a nerve with all those families. They
referred me upwards into the stratosphere of Mexican society. I was being paid
lovely sums for my work.
neighbours told me that I should reconsider. I did not and as soon as we sold
our house we sent all our possessions (including, Rosemary indicated to me, the
vinegar, the salt and the pepper) by an expensive moving van. We stuffed our
Beetle and installed a roof rack. And off we went to Vancouver.
In 1977 I
returned to Mexico. I must have called one of my former Mexican clients who
were keen that I photograph their daughter. I have no idea what happened to any
b+w photographs I might have taken. All I have are these five snaps and
completely out of context that photograph of that Mexican de Aviación Boeing
ponder what might have been had we stayed in Mexico?
Las sorpresas sencillas
Thursday, October 17, 2019
Cortázar: "Sonreía sin sorpresa, convencida como yo de que un encuentro
casual era lo menos casual en nuestras vidas".
el proceso de re archivar mis cuantiosos negativos, transparencias y
fotografías. Esto implica que voy a encontrar sorpresas. Una de ellas es un
negativo de color de una pintura que fotografié en México en el pasado siglo.
Sospecho de que quizá la tomé en San Miguel de Allende. A pesar de haber
ampliado la esquina inferior derecha de la pintura donde hay una firma no la
puedo discernir con nitidez.
otra foto puedo notar mis piernas y quizá mi camára grande sobre ellas. La foto
la tomé con una cámara de 35mm. ¿Quién
será esa mujer con ese peinado tan
lindo? En este caso sé que es Coleen Hughes que posó para mí en las rocas de
West Vancouver hace una eternidad cuando yo era joven.
INGENUO – Jorge Luís Borges
aurora (nos dicen) maquina maravillas
de torcer la más terca fortuna;
pisadas humanas que han medido la luna
insomnio devasta los años y las millas.
azul acechan públicas pesadillas
entenebran el día. No hay en el orbe una
no sea otra, o contraria, o ninguna.
sólo me inquietan las sorpresas sencillas.
asombra que una llave pueda abrir una puerta,
asombra que mi mano sea una cosa cierta,
asombra que del griego la eleática saeta
no alcance la inalcanzable meta,
asombra que la espada cruel pueda ser hermosa,
y que la
rosa tenga el olor de la rosa.
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
|Rosa 'Jacqueline du Pré', EbbTide, Fair Bianca and centre, Brother Cadfael, 15 October 2019|
It is never too late to learn humility. Yesterday my
Rosemary and I went to the monthly meeting of the Vancouver Rose Society. We were
asked to bring some blooms (a rare request at this time of the year and with
the rain). We did.
But I thought of doing something special. I cut four blooms
and first scanned them. Then I was instructed by Rosemary to put them into a
vase and into the refrigerator so that they would keep for the 7:30 meeting.
I thought it would be nice to donate a print of the scan and
place it by the vase with our flowers. At the meeting they have door prizes.
You buy tickets for a nominal sum of 2 or 3 dollars each. My print was
competing with a ceramic flower pot, a bottle of rose water and some florist 6
inch potted roses.
I watched as people, when their number was announced, went to retrieve their prizes. My print was the last prize on the
table and, I would believe, that the winner reluctantly picked it up as there was nothing else.
Appliances - the Romance
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Buying a home appliance can be an exciting event if it involves your first
refrigerator with your bride to be. That was so with my Rosemary.
you are an old man and you have to go to London Drugs to see if you could return
a Hoover (poor suction and the removal of attachments was a Waterloo to my
arthritic limbs) to then buy a much more expensive but well-designed Dyson, it can
all be a yawn and stressful, too.
And yet after
tonight’s Rachel Maddow I took it for a spin and it worked like a charm. I was
not overly excited but I was satisfied that it sucks (well).
(and how many of you remember a similar scene) when sometime in 1955, In Mexico
City, the door bell rang and a man selling Elextroluxes was invited in by my
grandmother. The man did ( the rigeur) demonstration with that predictable apology, “Don’t be
insulted, this looks like a clean house,” of quick passing over our living room couch and he then he opened the lovely
aluminum Electrolux baby and showed us all that dirt.
it. It eventually failed and then vacuum cleaners disappear from my psyche until we moved to Vancouver in 1975
In 1977 in our Burnaby renter, a man gave us a gift, a set of
steak knives, (did he suspect I was Argentine?) and we bought his cyclonic
wonder. Since then there have been too many more vacuums in my life.
In 1950 the
ice man in our Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Coghlan stopped coming to our
house. We were the first on the block with an almost brand new refrigerator my
mother bought from a departing American diplomat. In that refrigerator I made
my first package of Jell-O lime flavoured dessert.
A couple of
years later when I visited my friend Susan Stone (I was madly in love with her)
at her spacious home, her father was the general manager of GM in Argentina
(and had sent his Cadillac to pick me up) I watched my first program on a TV. I
vaguely remember oil derricks.
I was only passably excited when in Mexico City in 1956 my mother bought a
Then I discovered Boston Blackie!
It was only
in 1966 when an appliance and romance somehow became intertwined.
I had this
lovely girlfriend called Susy who wooed me with food. I was a starving and very
thin conscript in the Argentine Navy. When I visited her she would make me
lovely sandwiches with Swiss cheese, liverwurst and pickles.
At the same
time I fell in love with the music of Astor Piazzolla. I secured a couple of
tickets for an evening performance at the Teatro Florida (long gone) on Calle
Florida. Before the concert, Susy and I went to a party. When it was time I
told her we had to take the train to town. She informed me that she was having
a very good time so she was going to stay.
I left a
sad man and became more so as I waited in the evening for the train to take me
to Retiro. I arrived at the Teatro Florida feeling very sorry for myself and sat down. The room was packed. The seat next to me was empty. I was at that point reaching a basement of
melancholy. Piazzolla began my now (not yet then) favourite piece Milonga del
Angel. I was about to cry when I felt a gentle hand on my right thigh. It was Susy,
who whispered, “I changed my mind.” After the performance we crossed Florida
where there was a store with appliances. Susy to the day that she died of
cancer told me this was my invention. We looked at a kitchen range in that
awful avocado and she said, “Alex wouldn’t that look nice in our kitchen?”
and love for me lasted until she met a violinist from the Colón Philharmonic. I
was dumped over the phone.
1987 I returned to Buenos Aires assigned
by a Toronto magazine called Vista. I rang the bell at Susy’s apartment. She opened the
door, looked at me and said, “Aren’t you going to kiss me?” Later she confessed
it had not worked out with the violinist and I did not ask any questions nor do
I have any memory of what might have been said. I don’t even remember her
is memory, and how memory can affect one like a sharp utensil. I have in social
media a couple of friends who knew Susy. In one of the postings I noticed a man
called Miguel with Susy’s last name. I might have met him since he was
obviously her brother. I have no recollection. In his photos I found a family
photograph that froze me.
It is a
feeling that, even as the photographer that I am, is one that throws me into the
confusion of trying to figure out death. Taking Epicurus’s advice that death is
the absence of pain is not to my liking. It is the idea of thinking about not
being able to think that is so terrible and why death is our human bet noire.
that is seeing the face of a young woman who was alive with all her future in
front of her (refrigerators and stoves perhaps?) that I cannot reconcile while
still remembering the tone and substance of her voice and even the flavor of
all those sandwiches.