A Pocketful of Sunshine & Hirao Majesty Cheer Me Up
Saturday, July 10, 2021
|Hosta 'Pocketful of Sunshine' 11 July 2021|
Today Sunday, July 11, 2021 I will be having a few reasons
to feel a tad cheerful. I am invited for
dinner at my daughter Hilary’s in Burnaby. After dinner we will be watching
Since my Rosemary died on December 9th I have not
wanted to see films, certainly not Netflix. On Saturday evenings we used to
watch Noir Alley on TCM. I have not had the heart to see it alone. In short
there are few things I want to do alone. One is to feed myself and the cats,
read the NY Times, watch (not always now) Rachel Maddow at 6 and to water the
garden and deadhead the spent rose blooms.
But increasingly I have come to understand that what keeps
me stable is to write my daily blog. For a while, months back my grief resulted
in a terrible blog writing block. Now it is something I look forward to doing.
|Hosta 'Hirao Majesty'|
Many of my blogs, including this one include my other
obsessive pastime which is to scan the plants and flowers of my garden. What
began in 2001 as a scientific/botanic attempt to record my roses accurately
(with the day’s date) has blossomed into a pastime that I equate to playing
golf. I don’t play golf but those who do might find it entertaining (soothing?
- perhaps not!). I simply enjoy doing it. Because I see well with my bifocals I
am able to use my Photoshop to remove dust spots and play with shadow detail.
Hours pass and only the constant appearance of the two cats for attention in my
oficina make me get up to pick them up, pet them and feed them.
As for the scans of the two hostas here I would like to
explain a little obsession involving the all green Hosta ‘Hirao Majesty’. For
me it is a brilliant name for a hosta (in a pot at the front entrance of my
house) that is supremely elegant in the sheen of its leaves and for a
flower on a scape (hosta lingo for stalk) that is strikingly graceful in its
The other hosta, Hosta ‘Pocketful of Sunshine’ is smallish
and it has deeply cupped leaves. When I look at it, I smile. It is delightful!
Those who have gotten this far might notice that my scans
now are not just done for accuracy. I find myself in looking for different ways to
display the flowers, sometimes alone and sometimes accompanied by a leaf.
The Excellence of the Lowly Clothes Pin
Friday, July 09, 2021
|Rosa 'Escimo' 9 July 2021|
Clothes pins have been part of my life since I can
remember. In my 1950 Buenos Aires I remember having siestas and seeing the
flickers on my shuttered window of Mercedes, our live-in housekeeper, outside hanging
clothes to dry.
As soon as I started processing film in my darkroom I used
clothespins to hang my negatives to dry. Because sometimes the springs were
not that tight, the negatives would fall and I had to re-wash them.
I don’t quite remember if by the mid-70s in Mexico or
once we arrived in Vancouver in 1975 when it was that I started using stainless
steel clothes pins.
Not a day now goes by when I invariably notice a string with clothes
pins that Rosemary liked to spread across our fern dell to dry our clothes in
the sun. It is a melancholy sight made worse by the fact that her posthumous
rose gift to me Rosa ‘Escima’ is blooming right below.
Beyond the Grave - A Posthumous Gift
Wooden clothes pins with very tight springs have been one
of the reasons for my success with over 2000 scans of our garden plants since 2001. As you
can see in the photo here it is the only way I can get white roses (or other
white flowers) to be very close to the scanner bed without touching the glass.
When they do touch they overexpose and it is almost impossible to correct the
image with my Photoshop. The use of the mylar over the setup eliminates the complete black background and adds a little blue which I am warming up to.
The Blue & the Yellow
Thursday, July 08, 2021
|Rosa 'Buttercup' & Platycodon 'Sentimental Blue' 16 July 2021|
In my years as a card-carrying member of the American Hosta
Society I learned that you put blue hostas next to yellow ones. In this way the
blue ones looked bluer and the yellows yellower.
What you see here are two plants that Rosemary adored. She
loved the English Rose, Rosa ‘Buttercup’ for its dainty smallness. And while
this balloon flower, Platycodon 'Sentimental Blue') is blue, Rosemary liked
them also when they were white.
No platycodons (a perennial) emerged in our garden this year
so I when I spotted Sentimental Blue at Southlands I was compelled to buy it.
Generally blue is considered a colour that we humans call cool
(as opposed to hot reds and oranges) and of course in jazz blue is cool.
Another Rosemary blue & yellow
But for me when I
feast my eyes on Sentimental Blue (particularly next to Buttercup) in this
scan, I feel Rosemary’s warmth and I know that had she been around when I brought
two pots of it she would have beamed a smile at me that would have made me feel
important and loved.
Those who notice details might note that the date of the scan, 16 July, 2021 does not coincide with the date of the blog. I am trying to fill the holes I left in my daily blog because of my melancholic blogger writing block.
Perfection Beyond Plato's Cave
Wednesday, July 07, 2021
Qué extraña escena describes y que extraños
prisioneros, Son iguales a nosotros.
Platón, República, Libro VII
What a strange scene
you describe and what strange prisoners, They are the same as we.
Plato, Republic Book VII
The last page of José Saramago’s 2000 novel The Cave ends:
En breve apertura al public de La Caverna de
Platón, atracción exclusive, única en el mundo, compre ya su entrada.
Soon, open to the
public Plato’s Cavern, an exclusive attraction, unique in the world, buy your
Ever since I first heard of Plato’s Parable of the Cave from
my philosophy instructor, Ramón Xirau in Mexico City in 1962 I have been
fascinated by the story in which Socrates has a dialogue with Plato’s older
brother Glaucon in Plato’s Republic. We do know that Socrates never wrote
anything. What we know about the man is through his disciple Plato who
championed his teacher’s views by perhaps “inventing” dialogues.
A Rose and the Parable of the Cave
Veronica Vex and the Parable of the Cave
A Ballerina - an Essence
A Violinist - an Essence
Essence by a nose
Gertrude Stein and the essence of a rose
In the Parable of the Cave, men inside the cave are
chained to a stone bench. They face the wall. Behind them there is a flickering
fire. Behind the fire there is a tunnel that leads to the world outside. When
stuff happens outside the scene is broken down by the fire and reflections appear
on the cave wall. Plato says that human reality is that. One day one of the men
is able to escape and goes outside. At first he is blinded by the intense
light. When he adjusts he is able to discern and figure out that the reality he
and his companions saw on the cave wall was a sham of reality. When he tries to
tell them about this they try to kill him.
Plato here puts forward his theory of a World of Forms and
Ideas. These are perfect. We humans are only able to see them with our faulty
This Platonic philosophy has obsessed me through the years.
Once in 1967 at a Jefferson Airplane concert in San Francisco I observed a
woman sitting at a corner looking closely at a little glass of crème the menthe.
I guessed she might have been under the influence of LSD and that she was
staring at the Perfect Green.
Early in my marriage to Rosemary in 1968 we would drive to
my mother’s home in Veracruz. On the way as we were going down from the Mexico
City altitude we would hit the city of Córdoba, Veracruz that was all tropical
green. To me the green was greenness approaching a Platonic idea of a perfect
Only in the last few weeks have I finally connected the idea
that a Platonic friendship is called that at it one that is imperfect and does
not include sexual benefits.
Throughout my photographic career I approached portraiture
with the concept of somehow getting a bit of my subject’s intrinsic nature of
being who they are and nobody else. For me a smile or a laugh somehow clouds my
probing into my subject’s nature. Sometimes I achieved this by finding a common
ground to share. Sometimes (rarely) I insulted.
All the above brings me to the purpose of this blog. I have
photographed countless women, famous and not. I have photographed, in the
hundreds, women undraped or with little on. I began this pursuit with my
Rosemary whom I photographed with our first daughter in 1968/69 not wearing a
Since my Rosemary died on December 9 I see her presence
everywhere in our house and garden. I see it in the eyes of our two cats. This
presence, is it in my memory a hint of the perfect essence and nature of who
It was Brother Edwin Reggio,
C.S.C. who told our class in Austin, Texas in 1958/59 that all humans are born
with an intrinsic quality he called human dignity. No matter what any of us
ever did (for good or bad) he said we could not unload it. Could this have been
Brother Edwin’s idea a Platonic perfection in all of us?
So invariably when I want to look at my extensive files of
women I take out the one called Tarren. I have photographed (perhaps?) more
beautiful women. I have had a few girlfriends with whom I shared intimacies.
Tarren was always on the other side of my camera. Her body, as a whole, was as
perfect as I have ever photographed.
What led me to photograph her from 1980 until about 2010?
What kind of trust did she have to have posed for me so many times and so
In trying to nail down some sort of answer I wonder if somehow
Tarren’s nature of being a woman (a difficult topic to deal with in this 21st
century) had something to do with her womanness. I don’t think that word exists
but I want to equate it with my idea that a live cat has in him a catness
inherited from other cats. Roses of different colours somehow all have a
perfection in my mind that I call roseness.
Tarren - Style and Elegance
Tarren and Mario Benedetti
The Allure of Imperfection
She almost killed me
A cure for melancholy
Sweet Spot at 50
Is there such a quality that I would call Tarrenness? What
would Plato say?