Quitándome la Espina - 23 July 2022
Saturday, July 23, 2022
|Rosa 'Louise Odier'& Geranium 'Rozanne' - 23 July 2022|
Quitándome la Espina
The Spanish expression to “quitarme la espina” means to
remove a thorn (usually a rose’s) from oneself. It is used to do something that
one has been avoiding for a long time.
For reasons that I may explain in a later or earlier blog (I
have not blogged since May 29, 2022), I have avoided this daily routine. It
started with the failure of my Firefox and the disappearance of all my
passwords. It took two months and $1000 to fix the fact that Blogger (owned by
the damned unapproachable folks at Google, who if Dante were alive he would have
them, Steve Jobs and Shigetaka Kurita, who invented the emoticons, in the
lowest circle of hell) prevented me from
entering my own blog.
Emoticons from hell
Blog - 29 May 2022
Once I could blog, I kept postponing writing as I thought of all
the reasons why I had heretofore written one. All this was mixed with my
constant awareness that my partner of 52 years, Rosemary, was no longer with me and any
sharing I might do happened only with my two cats Niño and Niña.
I shocked and offended my right-wing Roman Catholic nephew in Argentina
by telling his five daughters (he is Catholic) that I was considering becoming
a trans woman so that I could be a genuine crazy cat lady.
Since May and with a pleasant week in Minneapolis at the
National Convention of the American Hosta Society (my youngest daughter Hilary
did not trust me to travel alone so she accompanied me) I have been obsessively
scanning the plants of my garden.
I have particularly put an effort in scanning roses with
plants that grow with them in pots or nearby in flower beds. Why?
I am giving a Zoom lecture to the Canadian Rose Society in
September and to use that lovely Alice in Wonderland word, I like to be contrariwise.
My theme for the talk is Plants & their Rose Companions.
One such example is the scan here that I scanned minutes
before I began to write this. It features a Bourbon Rose, Rosa 'Louise Odier' that flowers
vigorously. In its pot it shares space with Rosemary’s favourite hardy
geranium, Geranium ‘Rozanne’. She adored
blue and when I cut the flowers and started the scan I was hit by an enormous
In Minneapolis I made friends with a retired violist from
the New York Philharmonic who had a T-shirt that featured his like of cats and
books. He told me that he had lost his wife after being married for 47 years.
He said that the first year he was in a state of shock. He then added, what I
have suspected all along, that the second year was a lot worse. Because my
Rosemary died on December 9 2020 I am definitely in that terrible second year.
Another reason for my melancholy is that many of my friends
are dead, lost, or I can see that friendship sometimes fades.
I am making up for it by meeting new ones and actively socializing
and inviting them to see the garden.
Hosta 'Hirao Majesty' - An Obsession
Friday, July 22, 2022
|Hosta 'Hirao Majesty ' assorted dates|
In spite of distractions, of people visiting, of taking Niño
for his daily walk, figuring out what to eat and what books to read, shopping
for food, and other activities, it is impossible for me not to be aware at
every moment that my Rosemary is no more, that she is gone after our 52 years
of being together. A melancholy consumes me and one of the few activities that
somehow manages to keep me active is the scanning of my plants.
But I have to admit here that this scanning is becoming an
obsession. At first in 2001 with my penchant for accuracy I would usually scan
a plant once.
Now I am delving into the artsy. Why?
It is not only fun but also calming to remove every bit of
dust from my scan with my 18 year-old Photoshop. I can see well so this
distracts me lots.
As a patent example of this obsession here you have some
of my scans of a lovely dark green hosta, Hosta ‘Hirao Majesty’ that has what I
believe some of the most elegant flowers of any hosta.
You might note that in some of the scans the leaflets (properly called bracts) are brownish. I asked my Walters Gardens friend and hosta enthusiast C.H. (Clarence Falstad) in New Holland, Michigan why. His replies are below and another blog featuring C.H. is this one Hosta 'Piper Cub'
As one who writes patents we are allowed to be or expected
to be our own lexicographer since we frequently need to describe objects that
nobody had to describe before. Even so, I
try to follow the common plant glossaries for their accepted terms.
There are many types of bracts. There are bracts below leaves and those
below flowers, so I differentiate by calling these floral bracts since they are
on the infloresence.
The shape changed with the development.
Dear CH Why do these go brown every year? The plant is
healthy and abour 20 years old. The flowers are magnificent.
C.H. answer to my above question came via the phone. He told
me that the bracts of Hosta ‘Hirao Majesty’ routinely are brown. He suggested
that someone might want to cross Hirao Majesty with Hosta yingeri and the “problem”
would be resolved.
A Vacancy in Emptiness
Thursday, July 21, 2022
In five more months it will be the second anniversary of my
Rosemary’s death on December 9.
Some time ago I coined for myself the term an absent
presence for what I feel when I get into our bed in the evening in the company of
Niño and Niña.
Everything in this house reminds me of a life shared that is no
more. Sometimes this feeling can lead me to what is the empty substance of this
blog. It is a lovely empty box of Kleenex that sat on top of our bathroom toilet. Rosemary had quite a few obsessive
Paper napkins, scissors, mopping the kitchen floor, leather
handbags, a car with no dents or scratches, towels, blankets and sheets from the Bay, perennial and annual plants that
I did not know existed, grey plants, and an ability to go to our old house with a spade to get
some of the plants left behind (I did not have the heart or the stomach to go
with her), her cats, taking out the garbage, worrying about our granddaughters
and many more.
But when I removed the last tissue from this box and had to
buy a can of shaving cream and toothpaste on my own (when her supply ran out), I
was hit by a melancholy that keeps consuming me as I walk around the house.
It is about this time that a couple of little white moths
happily flutter around in our garden. Are they the offspring of the ones that
Rosemary and I used to smile about?
Irrationally I think, “How can you happily flutter around in
this garden that used to be hers?”
At the National Convention of the American Hosta Society in
Minneapolis a month back I had some chats with the cancer-ailing editor of the
lovely Hosta Journal. It was Bob Olson who quite a few years ago at a
convention in the 90s urged me to write for the Journal. Perhaps it was Olson
who started my career in writing for money.
While very sick, Olson lives close to the Mayo Clinic. He
is getting expert treatment. In my melancholic mood I told him that this was
going to be my last convention as so many of my hosta friends had died. Like
Jorge Luís Borges I told him that I was going to close the door to the
convention and as I would look at myself in a mirror I would think, “Is this the
last time that this mirror will reflect my image?”
But after I returned, I came to the conclusion that both
Olson and I have to be alive so we can meet again at the convention next year in
Ames, Iowa. And to make this even more fun, my daughter Hilary wants to accompany me, as she did to Minneapolis.
I believe that while I cannot artificially fill Rosemary’s
Kleenex box I can live and start putting some substance into my vacancy.
Archiving a Legacy
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
|Michael Audain - March 1990|
Ever since I started taking photographs in 1958 I have been
plagued by the concept of storing (archiving) and counting on my erstwhile good
memory to locate what I wanted to find.
In the late 80s my eldest daughter Alexandra (Ale) in her
neat handwriting began to archive my negatives, slides and photograph using the
standard binders that fit my metal 4-drawer filing cabinets. I now have 7 of
them. Some of my binders are sometime misfiled because I suffer dyslexia and
putting anything in alphabetical order
is a challenge. Note in the Audain file that the label on the folder exhibits my daughter's neat printing while inside the plastic label my awful printing is in evidence. Going into my files can be interesting. In the 90s I used Ilford plastic coated paper that dried nice and glossy with no fuss. The reason for 8x10 glossies in that past century, before the advent of scanners, the only way blacks would be blacks in magazines and newspapers was with glossies.
This challenge has increased since the advent of shooting with
my two Fuji cameras (X-E1 and X-E2). What to do with those minute storage cards?
What about identifying the contents of all my flash drives?
I believe that Staples may have solved my conundrum with
these small envelopes (why are they called One Coin?). They are big enough that
I can write the contents of those storage cards.
Now if I could only print small and neatly!
A Rose Scan, is A Rose Scan, is A Rose Scan
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
|Rosa 'Westerland' 27 July 2022|
The sentence "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose"
was written by Gertrude Stein as part of the 1913 poem "Sacred
Emily", which appeared in the 1922 book Geography and Plays. In that poem,
the first "Rose" is the name of a person. Stein later used variations
on the sentence in other writings, and the shortened form "A rose is a
rose is a rose" is among her most famous quotations, often interpreted as
meaning "things are what they are", a statement of the law of
identity, "A is A". In Stein's view, the sentence expresses the fact
that simply using the name of a thing already invokes the imagery and emotions
associated with it, an idea also intensively discussed in the problem of
universals debate where Peter Abelard and others used the rose as an example concept.
As the quotation diffused through her own writing, and the culture at large,
Stein once remarked, "Now listen! I'm no fool. I know that in daily life
we don't go around saying 'is a ... is a ... is a ...' Yes, I'm no fool; but I
think that in that line the rose is red for the first time in English poetry
for a hundred years." (Four in America).
She herself said to an audience at Oxford University that
the statement referred to the fact that when the Romantics used the word
"rose", it had a direct relationship to an actual rose. For later
periods in literature this would no longer be true. The eras following
Romanticism, notably the modern era, use the word rose to refer to the actual
rose, yet they also imply, through the use of the word, the archetypical
elements of the romantic era.Wikipedia
Below is her poem Sacred Emily
That is plenty.
Cunning saxon symbol.
Symbol of beauty.
Thimble of everything.
Cunning clover thimble.
Cunning of everything.
Cunning of thimble.
Place in pets.
Night town a glass.
Color mahogany center.
Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.
Page ages page ages page ages.
Wiped Wiped wire wire.
Sweeter than peaches and pears and cream.
Wiped wire wiped wire
Put measure treasure.
That will do.
Cup or cup or.
Pussy pussy pussy what what.
Current secret sneezers.
Mercy for a dog.
Medal make medal.
Able able able.
A go to green and a letter spoke a go to green or praise
Worships worships worships.
Wet spoil gaiters and knees and little spools little
spools or ready silk lining.
Suppose misses misses.
Curls to butter.
See at till.
Sail or rustle.
Mourn in morning.
The way to say.
Deal own a.
A high b and a perfect sight.
Little things singer.
Not in description.
A blow is delighted.
In this blog I am questioning and refuting that the scan
of a rose, is the scan of a rose, is the scan of a rose.
One of the delights of being a portrait photographer is
to have the opportunity to photograph a person more that once and in particular
with the passing of time.
My original scan of Rosa ‘Westerland’ appeared on the May
cover of Canadian Gardening in what I believe may have been the first plant
scan in any gardening magazine. See below:
A Rose & Apricot Jam
Since 2006 our Westerland (no my Westerland with Rosemary
gone) is persistently glorious and with no fuss. It is easy to grow and the bush is now at least 18 years old. I scan
it often. What you see here is something I rarely do which is to snip off a
large bouquet because I know that nobody will be coming to my garden for the
next while. I do not feel guilty in cutting them.
I must add that Rosemary until the advent of Rosa ‘Westerland’ had banned anything orange
(or red) in our Kerrisdale garden. She warmed up to this aggressive (nicely)
grower and smiled at me when I told her that it smelled of synthetic apricot