An Allium in Lillooet
Saturday, May 23, 2020
|Allium schoenoprasum - 23 May 2020|
Right off the bat I must confess that I am jealous of local
but well known in Canada theatrical and dance photographer David Cooper. Why
His daughter Emily is following his father’s vocation and is
very good at it, too.
In my family after I am gone nobody will do anything with my
cameras. I doubt any of them will ever show any interest in photography. What’s
in my head will remain there with me as I push the daises.
But there is one bright spot here. My Rosemary and my
interest in gardening has been absorbed by our eldest daughter I Lillooet who
has a garden that is close to one acre.
When we sold our house four years ago, I rented a van,
twice, so we could take some of our hardy roses (Lillooet is Zone 4/5 and
Vancouver is Zone7/8) and many of my extremely hardy hostas.
Since then Rosemary has been obsessed with acquiring plants
that occupy space in our small deck.
“What are these pots doing her?” I may ask
her. She always answers, “They are for Ale.”
So for anybody reading this we will be driving to Lillooet
with a car full (really full) with roses, hostas, Iris and other perennials
that Rosemary has purchased. We will eat cold pizza on the way and when we get
to Lillooet we will see Ale for the first time since Christmas. Extreme social distancing we will follow. With my good transplant spadeI will put some of the plants in the ground. I will
do my business in the bushes but Rosemary insists she will go inside to do
hers. Lunch will be quesadillas. We will then drive back to be
welcomed by Niño and Niña who will have been holding the fort.
In the car with us, I some empty corner (if we can find one)
is this lovely Allium schoenoprasum which is good for Zone 4.
The Beauty of Asymmetry
Friday, May 22, 2020
|Hosta 'First Frost' 22 May 2020|
Symmetry is something that is appealing to most people. Cars are symmetrical and in most
cases they are the same on both sides and the front left is exactly the front
who visit Mexican markets marvel at the perfect piles of fruit which are
displayed in symmetrical order.
that asymmetry can also be appealing and particularly to those who see
themselves as snobs (moi!).
|Hosta 'First Frost' 26 July 2017|
As a member
of the Vancouver Rose Society I am sure that when members display their roses
in the annual rose show that symmetry plays an important part in placing the
blooms in vases and perhaps those very blooms have to show perfect symmetry.
As a former
member of the American Hosta Society (I plan to join again and attend the convention in Kalamazoo next year!) I know that hybridizers prize symmetry in their
some say, are the white mice of the plant kingdom. They sport (mutate) and change when
you are not looking. Most of the thousands of hosta cultivars available now
randomly appeared in rows in big and small nurseries. Smart observers would
then take these sports and divide them and reproduce them by tissue culture.
But in my
amateur opinion C. & R. Thompson’s introduction in 2005 of Hosta ‘Strip
Tease’, a sport of Hosta ‘Gold Standard’ represents a divide in that search for
perfect symmetry. Another almost messy hosta (but not for me) that is nicely
all over the place is Hosta ‘Janet’. No leaf on this plant is exactly the same
as any other within that plant.
|Hosta 'Strip Tease' 22 May 2020|
garden today, a lovely hosta, 'First Frost' that has a wide yellow border and a blue/green
centre had these three unusually different leaves (most appealing to me). For a
hosta show these leaves would have been cut off so that the plant would look
the same from all angles.
In a way I
am sorry that I have cut those leaves to scan them. Perhaps other leaves will
emerge like these and who knows there may be someone out there (Kalamazoo?)
with the idea of introducing an assymetrical hosta.
A Vision Impure - Asymmetry
Thursday, May 21, 2020
|Les Wiseman and yours truly in front of the Dakota in the late 80s|
There is a unique invention that is all about Vancouver. The
Fu.. Band was invented in the early 80s by punk musicians who would temporarily
form short lived bands made up of punk stars. These musicians would play
drums if they played guitar in their group and a singer might really be a bass
player. They played for the fu.. of it (and had fund doing it) and that is why the name for this type of
band was coined.
The best of the Fu.. Bands were The Popularos.
There is a contemporary version of these bands made up by
musicians who don’t want to be pigeonholed and in some cases have gotten bored
(in the case of classically trained
musicians) with the usual 19th century repertoire.
In this pandemic one such musician is violinist Cameron
Wilson who has a band called the Wahs. I wrote about them here.
Now they have come out with a relatively unknown cover of a
Beatles song called Bulldog.
Listening to them I began to think back of my relationship through the years in listening to the Beatles.
It began in 1962, at Number 18, Privada de las Camelias, in
Colonia Florida in Mexico City. While going to Mexico City College by bus I had
made friends with a Yorkshire man called Andrew Taylor
. He had returned from
Britain in late 1960 and knew of an obscure band, the Beatles.
In his house he slipped a single Love Me Do and asked me for
my opinion. I did not warm up to the band as at that time I was into Miles
Davis Live at Carnegie Hall. When the Beatles became big I still did not like
them all that much. In my teenage days at a Catholic Boarding school in Austin
my kind of music were The Ventures, the Everly Brothers, Brenda Lee and Conway
While doing my military service in the Argentine Navy in the
mid 60s I was assigned an Irish/Argentine secretary called Edna Gahan
. I had
lied when asked if I knew how to type so she typed all the documents I
translated from English into Spanish and vice versa. She was a Beatles fan and
she could not convince me to listen to them. I was into jazz records by Andre
Then I met a lovely Argentine girl of Austrian/Jewish
extraction called Susy. She said I was an uncouth foreigner who needed a
cultural education. In my ill-fitting winter suit she took me to the Teatro
Colón during a sweltering summer to see and listen to my first opera, Sergei
Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel
. Next she took me to see a wonderful Japanese film
called The Woman in the Dunes.
My entry into culture did not end there. We went
to a live Piazzolla concert
and then she said I had to see this film which she
adored. This is how I ended up seeing Richard Lester’s Help!
Perhaps it was my
love for the woman, but the
fact is that
my eyes were opened to the wonders of the Beatles and to this day my fave tune
In the late 80s I went to New York City with Vancouver
Magazine writer and rock reviewer (a monthly column called In One Ear). We had
to go to the Dakota but we each had a different reason. He wanted to make a
pilgrimage of the place where John Lennon was murdered and my reason was Jack
Finney’s lovely science fiction novel, Time and Again set inside the Dakota.
In the late 60s while in Mexico City one of the popular
radio stations I listened to had a daily contest to determine which of these
two bands was the best (the bands were the same every day). These were the
Beatles or Clearance Clearwater Revival. What this meant is that by the time my
family and I arrived in Vancouver in 1975 my knowledge of rock music amounted
to knowing about Clearance Clearwater Revival, the Beatles and the Allman
Brother’s Band. By 1977 my association with Les Wiseman corrected that gap in
my popular music education.
But I must assert to this day that Help!
is my favourite up
there with Message in a Bottle
by The Police, and Neil Young’s Ohio.
Idilio Frente a un Televisor
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
la primera vez que vi televisión. Tenía
11 años. Era 1952 y un flamante Cadillac con chofer me vino a buscar a mi casa
en Coghlan, un barrio de Buenos Aires. El auto me llevó a una enorme mansión
propiedad de un Señor Stone que era el Gerente General de la General Motors en
la Argentina. Su hermosa hija, Susan, era compañera mía de escuela en el
Colegio Ward en Belgrano R. De vez en cuando me invitaba a su casa para jugar.
Esta vez me llevó a la sala y nos sentamos frente a un aparato y me dijo, “This, Alex is a televisión.” El programa
que vimos era una documental sobre aparatos que se usaban para extraer
petróleo. Me aburrí
después, aquí en Vancouver me encontré con una hermosa mujer llamada Tania en
el mejor cuarto de un hotel de poco prestigio de la ciudad. Tomé fotos pero
tengo que admitir que no sabía yo lo que estaba haciendo. Fue la primera vez en
ese cuarto, el número 615.
Poco a poco
aprendí la rutina y en varias sesiones después con un sinnúmero de mujeres
llegué a encontrar la solución de lo lindo que era estar frente a un televisor
con una hermosa mujer y no darle caso a la pantalla..
La noche en
que colocan a Osvaldo (tres años recién cumplidos) por primera vez frente a un
televisor (se exhibe un drama británico de hondas resonancias), queda
hipnotizado, la boca entreabierta, los ojos redondos de estupor.
La madre lo
ve tan entregado al sortilegio de las imágenes que se va tranquilamente a la
cocina. Allí, mientras friega ollas y sartenes, se olvida del niño. Horas mas
tarde se acuerda, pero piensa: “Se habrá dormido”. Se seca las manos y va a
buscarlo al living.
está vacía, pero Osvaldo se mantiene en la misma postura y con igual mirada
dormir –conmina la madre.
Osvaldo con determinación.
–Ah, no? Se
puede saber por qué?
Y señaló el
vuele a señalar la pantalla. Luego sonríe, candoroso, esperanzado, exultante.
–Me dijo: “querido”.
Photograph Framed - Photograph Saved
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
This pandemic reinforces the idea that when one is of a
certain age (my Rosemary and I are in the category) one is waiting for inevitabilities.
Death is the final one but is preceded by diseases perhaps not yet known.
But since I lived in Mexico for many years I see that
feature with a certain degree of cheerfulness.
The problem is dealing with the detritus of acquired stuff.
How valuable or even important will it all be when I am gone?
About 15 years ago I would mockingly comment to people that
the concept of banging in a nail on a wall and hanging a painting or a
photograph was a custom that was receding into the past. I would tell them that
art galleries would eventually go bankrupt because nobody would want to buy art
work to hang on a wall.
That all important mantle in the living room has been taken
over by a very large flat screen, smart TV. Because some of us of that certain
age might live in close quarters those walls may be occupied by large mirrors
that make the rooms seem larger.
Recently I wrote this blog
of having a photograph of my
paternal grandmother framed and how my framer at Magnum Frames carefully
positiond on the back of the frame the note my grandmother wrote to her friend
(and our fake uncle) Leo Mahdjubian.
Our bedroom is full of framed family photographs. They are
not the usual ones. They are examples of what I have come to believe I do best
and that is to shoot portraits.
These two, our daughters Ale and Hilary taken in the late
70s with their Mexican tops I printed in my Burnaby basement darkroom. One of
the tricks of the day was to sandwich with the negative a negative that had a
screen. You can see what it looks like.
The tragedy is that somehow when me moved from our
Kerrisdale house to the one here in Kitsilano, those screens were lost. With a
scanner I could have done the same thing with pictures of our granddaughters.
What is self-evident to me is that any photograph that is
framed is a photograph saved. But I wonder after we are gone, if anybody will find
any use, value or charm in all the photographs that decorate our Kits home.