Rosemary as she was in 1969
Saturday, November 13, 2021
With almost a year since my Rosemary’s death I find that I
am not feeling any less grief than I was months ago. One of the few methods of
relief for me is to write about it.
The days are full of menialities (I love this old word that
is rarely used now) like dusting, vacuuming, feeding the cats, taking Niño, the male cat, for
a walk and making sure I never have any dishes to wash in the sink.
I make my bed every day for two reasons. One of them is
that if you deal with minialities there is a stability that comes with order.
This even involves shaving even when I know I am not going to see anyone.
The other reason for making the bed is that Rosemary would
say, “Let’s make the bed nice so that the
cats will rest on it during the day.”
I have no idea what my daughters will do with my extensive
(like really extensive) negative, slide, digital, and photograph files that I
have. Today I went to get more clear negative files for negatives that are at
least 45 years old. It is difficult to figure out what to throw away. Perhaps
that will be the next step.
And when I go through these negatives, particularly the
family ones I realize that I photographed all those early birthdays. There are
lots of pictures with cakes. And there are few photographs of me
as I was the photographer and of Rosemary who mostly appears holding one of our
daughters or both of them.
I have placed in this blog some photographs of Rosemary with
Alexandra (both nude) when she may have been barely one year old.
But I knew I would find the photographs that are here. I
have scanned all 14 of them. They are the first nude photographs (cropped here
for propriety) I ever took of a woman and that woman was Rosemary. I was early
in the game of photography in 1969 when I believe I took these photographs. The
top of Rosemary’s head is too close to the edge of frame. I did not photograph
her hands well. And my negatives reproduce sort of gray so I have to up the
contrast and lighten them. Since the film was Tri-X and I was a terrible film
developer there is a lot of grain and because the negs are that old there is
dust that cannot be removed.
But I see these photographs, these nudes as how I began in
later years to do lots of them.
Here in Canada most men photograph their wives nude as in, “Honey lets photograph Junior before he is
born. Why not do it in the tub?”
I guess that even then I had a bit more class.
In these photographs there is a running thread in that so
many of them have this sad look on Rosemary. This was something that she did
all her life.
I wonder how other men see their wives once they are gone.
They might look at a family album or some photographs on the wall. I believe it
is different when the man is a photographer.
One thing is to look at a contact sheet. With film that is
what you had. I would look at them with a loupe and decide which ones to
print in the darkroom.
Now with the scanner I see that I overlooked many gems and
some that in spite of not being gems are worth scanning.
When you scan a negative and you look at the image on the monitor
as I do I get this tingly (cold and warm and sad) feeling of looking at the
image of someone who was very much alive when I took it. That life, that soul
that I can peer into those eyes is something that is much more evident because
of the size of the photograph on my monitor.
I have no memory on how I approached Rosemary to take these
photographs. I do not think she resisted. Her body was as perfect a body as I
have ever seen. Her breasts where just the right size, and her legs were
divine. He waist was small and her hips while small did show curves.
I can only realize now, when it is too late, that I should
have returned to Rosemary and taken many more photographs and shown more of her
But I have these.
W.H. Auden - Empty & Silent Most of the Year
Friday, November 12, 2021
|Bouganvillea glabra 12 November 2021|
As November is fading into December there are few plants
that I am able to scan to keep me distracted and busy.
But sometimes surprises happen that can be so lovely that
they will make me smile while at the same time drive me to tears. That happened
when Rosemary’s bougainvillea was in bloom in the upstairs guestroom.
In our Kerrisdale home Rosemary and I converted an old house
so that the ground floor and the garden were so spectacular that Americans came
in buses to see it once we were featured in Better Homes and Gardens. We were
strapped for cash so we did few repairs to the upper floor that had two
bathrooms with leaky tubs and toilets that did not work well. The basement
where I had my darkroom had exposed asbestos and mold. I developed what seemed
to be mild flu and a persistent cough that has only subsided this 2021.
The situation meant that while I had many visiting friends
and relatives we could never really invite them to occupy either Ale or
Hilary’s former rooms. It was a shame.
Now in our Kits duplex we have a guest room on the upper
floor with its own bathroom. Folks from abroad that come to play for Early
Music Vancouver stayed with us as did my Portland bassist Curtis Daily. I hope
that soon as the pandemic disappears some of my Buenos Aires family will come
and stay with me.
An interesting feature of the guest room is that it has a
whole wall with shelves of my collection of books in Spanish.
And because of the warmth and light Rosemary kept a Bouganvillea glabra. By 12 November it
had a flowering branch and I was ambivalent about cutting it to scan it. I waited for my daughter Ale to see it who was in town until last Saturday to see it and they cut it I did. It is pleasant for me to now know that the guest room can be occupied and the bathroom does not leak.
A death in one’s life always brings that thought which is a
universal one, “Why was it she that had
to die and not me?” And then there is looking at the plant and I think, “You are alive and she is not. How is that
|Bouganvillea glabra & Hosta 'Hirao Majesty' 12 November 2021|
It was a few years ago that I discovered W.H. Auden’s poem
about a guest room. I believe that now is the right time to place it here.
For Friends Only
(for John and Teckla Clark)
Ours yet not ours, being set apart
As a shrine to friendship,
Empty and silent most of the year,
This room awaits from you
What you alone, as visitor, can bring,
A weekend of personal life.
In a house backed by orderly woods,
Facing a tractored sugar-beet country,
Your working hosts engaged to their stint,
You are unlike to encounter
Dragons or romance: were drama a craving,
You would not have come.
Books we do have for almost any
Literate mood, and notepaper, envelopes,
For a writing one (to “borrow” stamps
Is the mark of ill-breeding):
Between lunch and tea, perhaps a drive;
After dinner, music or gossip.
Should you have troubles (pets will die
Lovers are always behaving badly)
And confession helps, we will hear it,
Examine and give our counsel:
If to mention them hurts too much,
We shall not be nosey.
Easy at first, the language of friendship
Is, as we soon discover,
Very difficult to speak well, a tongue
With no cognates, no resemblance
To the galimatias of nursery and bedroom,
Court rhyme or shepherd’s prose,
And, unless spoken often, soon goes rusty.
Distance and duties divide us,
But absence will not seem an evil
If it make our re-meeting
A real occasion. Come when you can:
Your room will be ready.
In Tum-Tum’s reign a tin of biscuits
On the bedside table provided
For nocturnal munching. Now weapons have changed,
And the fashion of appetites:
There, for sunbathers who count their calories,
A bottle of mineral water.
Felicissima notte! May you fall at once
Into a cordial dream, assured
That whoever slept in this bed before
Was also someone we like,
That within the circle of our affection
Also you have no double.
Shaving the Barber with a Scanograph Portrait
Thursday, November 11, 2021
|Hosta 'Hirao Majesty' 11 November 2021|
A few who read here might know that this card-carrying
member of the American Hosta Society is going to be in Minneapolis in June. I
will be making a presentation on the beauty of scanned hosta flowers at their
The folks at the Society are efficient folks. They have
asked me for a bio (we are in November the convention is in June?). They have
asked me for the title of the presentation and a short précis. The latest is
that they want a head and shoulders portrait of yours truly.
This is a difficult request. Who shaves the barber? Who
takes head and shoulder portraits of photographers?
The American Hosta Society is quite adventurous. It is my
hope they will run my scanograph portrait with one of my fave hostas, Hosta ‘Hirao
I wonder if they will go for it.
As for who shaves the barber should I have shaved for
Rosas de Amor - Don Tirso de Irureta Goyena
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
|July 31 2020|
Since I began my blog in January 2006 I have combined many
of my photographs with favourite poets of mine. These are Emily Dickinson,
Jorge Luís Borges, Shakespeare, William Carlos Williams, Alfonsina Storni,
Mario Benedetti, Eduardo Galeano, Julió Cortázar, and quite a few others.
But today I am going to mate a photograph of my Rosemary,
taken last year by my granddaughter Rebecca, with a poet that I never met but...
Don Tirso de Irureta Goyena was my grandfather. I never was curious enough to
ask my mother or grandmother if he had been born in Spain but in Manila. I
suspect it was in Manila. He was born in 1888 and died at age 30 in 1918.
During that short life he was a trial lawyer who did his
best to also defend the Spanish language that was being replaced by the English
that the occupying Americans imposed on the Philippines after the Spanish
Because of his beautiful Spanish and his writing Don Tirso
became a Filipino member of the exclusive Real Academia Española.
I will not translate it! I believe that this
love poem to my grandmother Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena was written by Don
Tirso when he was visiting Europe and his seeing her. The connection for me
that is special is that my Rosemary did get to meet my grandmother and so this
love poem by Don Tirso to a woman he misses can do just fine with my feelings
on how I miss Rosemary.
My mother told me that Don Tirso died of a heart attack shortly after he climbed the Mayon Volcano in the Philippines. I have written here about the posthumous gift she got from him.
jóven ha sido combatida
variados y múltiples dolores,
sentido desmayos opresores,
transcurso de mi corta vida,
ahora tengo una mortal herida
causa penosos sinsabores
encona con súbitos ardores
de mi ánsia enardecida.
mí, el mayor de mis pesares
ver tus hermosos luminares
siempre con mirada intensa;
tu dulce boca que sonríe,
enamorada no te envie
calor de su pasión inmensa.
And below is a love poem to my grandmother where he equates her to a guitar
Yo no sé
manejar esa caja
madera, con cuerdas de acero,
otra que entona cantares,
pecho que sufre su caja,
fibras de un alma…
extrañe por eso, morena,
aunque yo no tenga tu bella guitarra,
sin lazos, ni cuerdas, ni claver,
con mi pluma te cante dolores,
y dudas y goces y ansias!