Barry Lopez - (January 6, 1945 – December 25, 2020)
Friday, December 25, 2020
When Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams - Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape appeared
in 1986 I remember Malcolm Parry telling me it was one of the best
books he had ever read. Since I also read fiction (Mac doesn't) I was
skeptical but upon reading Arctic Dreams I agreed with Mac. If I flew
more often I would probably read more non-fiction. It was on board some
airplane that I "discovered" an installment in the New Yorker of John McPhee's wonderful La Place de la Concorde Suisse.
I had to read the conclusion of McPhee's account in which he watched
and documented (in the admirable McFee way) Swiss Army "refresher"
courses with soldier companion Luc Massy. I bought the book. It was
around 1995 that I read a Barry Lopez essay in Harper's (again some airplane) on being aboard a cargo Boeing 747 in a world-wide trip and where he wrote:
"In this world, `perishable' refers to more than flowers, food, and
newspapers; it includes everything in tenuous fashion: watches, video
games, shades of lipstick, a cut of trouser--objects for which a few
days' head start on store shelves is crucial."
I was hooked to reading the occasional non-fiction book. With Mac I
share a fondness for Henry Petroski's engineering books which include
not only To Engineer Is Human but his excellent autobiography Paperboy - Confessions of a Future Engineer. My interest in "engineering" books began when Erich von Däniken published his questionable "non fiction" Chariots of the Gods in 1968. He was hailed as the "father of the ancient astronaut theory". I preferred L. Sprague de Camp's The Ancient Engineers where
the credit for the building of all the ancient wonders was convincingly
placed on the shoulders of von Däniken's inferior humans. The just
released (and on my bed table right now) Mountains of the Pharaohs - The Untold Story of the Pyramid Builders by Zahi Hawass (secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities) is no McPhee or Lopez but fascinating, nonetheless.
My friend John Lekich talked, for years, about his favourite non fiction
writer A.J. Liebling, to no avail. It was in a copy of Liebling's Between Meals which was on Vancouver Magazine restaurant critic Jamie Maw's living room coffee table when I became a Liebling fan. I read:
Mens san in corpore sano is a contradiction in terms, the fantasy of
a Mr. Have-your-cake-and-eat-it. No sane man can afford to dispense
with debilitating pleasures; no ascetic can be considered reliably sane.
Hitler was the archetype of the abstemious man. When the other krauts
saw him drink water in the Beer Hall they should have known he was not
to be trusted.
In 1990 when I photographed author Barry Lopez we found we had one thing
in common. While I had been educated by Brothers of the Holy Cross and
he by Jesuits we both agreed that our Catholic education had given us a
more liberal understanding of the world which somehow gave us a
competitive edge in some of our pursuits.
Liberal Catholic Education
Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam
Christmas Eve 2020 Without My Rosemary
Thursday, December 24, 2020
|Kitsilano - December 24, 2020|
Christmas Eve 2019
My Rosemary died on December 9 and since then I have done a
lot of staring at the ceiling from my bed and appreciating that Niño and Niña
are clinging to me and want my attention all the time.
I have no idea if they sense that Rosemary is not around or
if it simply means that cats, the social animals that they are want to be next
to the only human left in the house.
When the idea of celebrating Christmas Eve came around (I
have celebrated Christmas Eve with Rosemary since 1968 and with our both of our
daughters since. In the last 23 years
one our granddaughters have come to enjoy the night.
For many of those Eves Rosemary and I cooked the same
dinner. This included a roast beef, Yorkshire pudding (Rosemary’s The Joy of
Cooking recipe), my much appreciated beef gravy modified with onions and
drippings, a cucumber salad and for dessert Rosemary’s flan.
This year I decided on the same menu. With the help of
Hilary we managed a decent Yorkshire pudding and my version of Rosemary’s flan
was just that. I was happy.
There was one modification to the drinks. For Hilary and
Lauren I made fresh tangerine, orange and lemon drink. But for Bruce Stewart,
Rebecca and I we had the lovely Catena Malbec.
A bone of contention for many years, was my telling the
granddaughters that I felt tired and sleepy and that we would open the presents
under the tree the next day. This year there was no tree. I did not have the
heart to buy one and go to the storage room and decide on the ornaments. This
is something (the ornament side of it) that Rosemary always did. Our single
Christmas decoration was a huge poinsettia that our Friend Time Turner brought
earlier in the week leading to Christmas.
|Rebecca Anne Stewart|
There were no gifts. For Ale and Hilary I bought two digital
subscriptions to the NY Times.
Another bone of contention has always been the Christmas
photograph. I had the lights ready and as soon as we finished we took the
pictures. With the Fuji X-E3 on self-timer I took a few pictures in which one
of us managed to close our eyes. Then I brought Niño into the picture (notice
how unhappy he looks). But the picture had all our eyes open and it became the
|Lauren Elizabeth Stewart|
Earlier in the evening when the Stewarts arrived Rebecca
(23) said her clothing was wet. She went upstairs but I did not notice what she
was wearing until the Christmas photo happened. It was then that I noticed that
she was wearing a lovely Rosemary black dress
with a scoop neck. Rebecca is the only one that can wear Rosemary’s clothing
because like Rosemary she is slim. I suggested she pose for me by Turner’s
poinsettia while wearing my mother’s red Mexican rebozo. I must state here that
the resulting photographs are lovely and somehow the dress and the rebozo
brought into our Kits home the presence of my mother and my wife.
I did not photograph Lauren because a few days before she
posed with next year’s (she hopes!) prom dress.
My oldest daughter Ale remained in Lillooet because of bad road conditions.