A Spent Dahlia & My Existential Angst
Friday, September 23, 2022
|My neighbour's dahlia - 21 September 2022|
word desganado translates to listless. I prefer the Spanish term. Ganas is
about wanting to do something. The preceding des renders it to not wanting to do
something (or anything).
John Lekich often used to tell me when I experienced something strange by
telling me, “It is natural because it is spring (or he would add, summer, fall
my listlessness is not seasonal. It is part grief over my Rosemary’s death (why
is that word now almost always replaced by that euphemistic passing?), my being
80, (that Oxford Comma) and losing friends and family almost every day. I want to call
It is not clinical
depression. To begin with any counsellor I might go to would not know who Hegel
or Sartre was. My feeling these days is of finding little will to keep on. My friend, architect Abraham Rogatnick told me a year before he died, "I am not long for this world and I am glad for it."
started blogging in 2006 I remember my obsession to blog every day even when we travelled. I would go to internet cafes.
desire to blog is not a pressing one. I postpone from one day to the next. I
walk the cats, cook to feed myself. I make my food very spicy and my tea very
strong. My sense of taste is fading.
I never thought
I would ever say that I am not interested in women. I can no longer abide in
seeing women in tight yoga pants. I would define this century as the “Age of
Cleavage”. I am tired of that. I enjoy women in dresses.
One of my
daughters some months ago warned me that if I fell for some woman not to give
her everything I own. I was shocked as at my present age I am only interested
in one woman and that is Rosemary. The thought of any other woman is anathema
affection I crave of my wife sharing our bed is partially satisfied by my two
cats who compete to get as close as they can when I turn off the lights.
of the day (while being aware that I am WTD, waiting to die) is satisfied a tad
by my plant scanning. I know that my 3000 scans mean nothing to most people but
I love them and each time I scan a plant it is just like that first time back
in one lazy and hot afternoon in August of 2002.
few exceptions, my ethical system is that I scan only the plants in my garden
(which was our garden).
scanograph illustrating this blog is an exception that I will try to justify.
Since it is
already fall, dahlias are everywhere and social media is full of macro
photographs of pristine and colourful specimens.
here is a Greek neighbour’s. He is currently visiting his home country. I
snipped it and scanned it. It is lovely because it is not perfect or pristine.
Not that it
is all that comparable; my other scan here is of my Asahi Pentax S3 which I purchased
used in Mexico City in 1962. It served me well even in Vancouver from1975 until
1980. It works perfectly and I adore the exposed brass.
and dahlia. Will my desgane be replaced by just a tad of enthusiasm?
Of Feet Including Mine
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
My Spanish Dictionary RAE defines pié (foot) as my legs'
extremities and it says the root is from Latin.
Pedis translates as “of the
Del lat. pes, pedis.
This has always confused me and I will explain why before I
continue in this blog that is all about feet.
If pedis relates to feet why are pediatricians doctors that
specialize on children and the foot doctor is a podiatrist?
It was sometime in the late 90s when I was often exhibited my nudes at Exposure Gallery group shows. A woman I did not know came up to
me and said, “Alex why is it that you do not have any photographs showing feet?”
I answered that I thought feet were the ugliest part of the body. Going home I
realized that the woman had challenged me and I had to answer it in some way.
|Peggy modern dancer |
By then I was taking pictures of ballerinas and modern
dancers. Most of them had terrible looking feet and few even wanted to show
them to me.
|Lauri Stallings - ballerina|
There was a beautiful server at the Number 5 Orange Street
Strip Club called Lalita who resembled Sophia Loren. I asked her if she would
pose for me. In my studio, using percentages she said, “Alex you can photograph
20% of this and 30% of that." When Tony Ricci who ran the Number 5 found out I
had just photographed Lalita’s feet he was incredulous, "You mean you only photographed her feet?"
Your Feet - and upon the water, until they found me - Lalita
My second opportunity with feet came with an exceptionally
beautiful woman called Susan. With her I pretty went almost to 100% in
The Jeweler's feet Susan
My Rosemary had legs that rivalled my mother’s. Her legs
were perhaps 50% of the reason why approached her in Mexico City in 1967 and
married her in 1968.
In the Footsteps of my Mother's Feet
Rosemary had feet problem caused by wearing bad shoes that
might have been too small. Ultimately
she had an operation to straighten her toes.
My mother’s legs and feet were beautiful and I believe I
inherited them. I am not sure if my legs are what attracted Rosemary to me.
|Alexandra & Rosemary|
Some 20 years ago I went on a magazine assignment to write
and photograph west Florida. In one place that I stayed I was offered a full
massage or a pedicure. I was much too shy for the first so I opted for the
second. I was taken to a long room that had many women all having their feet
done. I sat down. The conversation that I overheard was so intimate that I
blushed. My pedicure person upon seeing my feet remarked that they looked like
the feet of someone a lot younger. I explained that I had been an eight and a
half for many years and that my shoes fit me so well I did not have callouses
The photograph of my feet I took today. Not bad?
Robert Carl Martin Olson - A Lovely Man from Minnesota
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
|Bob Olson - I992|
Robert Carl Martin Olson - June 29 1940 - Hannepin County, Minneapolis - September 15 2022
At the American Hosta Society National Convention I had
lunch with a lovely man who was very frail. Janet Mills, the designer (a fine one) of the
Hosta Journal told me I was lucky as he did not lunch with anybody else.
I told him that as an Argentine I think a lot about the
poems of Jorge Luís Borges who wrote many on the theme of wondering if he was
closing a door for the first time or if his reflection on a mirror would be the
last one he would ever see.
I elaborated on the idea that the Minneapolis convention would
be my last one. I had met Bob in 1992 in the Columbus, Ohio Convention (my
first one). It seemed that so many of the people we had known were all gone.
His reply was, “I understand, Alex.”
Clearly I was out of line and when I returned to Vancouver I
wrote to him that both of us (I am 80) would be alive for next year’s Iowa
Convention and that we would laugh lots.
It was not to be.
While I have been an important magazine photographer in
Vancouver and in Canada, Bob was one of the first mentors I ever had who
suggested I might be a good writer and write for the Hosta Journal. This I did.
I was proud as the Bob Olson/ Janet Mills had to be and has to be one the most
beautiful plant magazines.
Thanks to Bob I was assigned to many magazine jobs as a
|Alex Summers & Gene - 1992|
To me the roses and hostas in my garden all have the face of
the people I knew. Many of these plants are the face of my Rosemary who died on
December 9, 2020.
|Claire Richards 1992|
Perhaps the funniest story about a hosta is the one about
Hosta ‘Invincible’. I asked Paul Aden why he called it that. His answer was succinct,
“I named her after my mother-in-law.
|Paul Aden - 1992|
Alex Summers was full of garden knowledge. He told me
that it took 3 years to plan and grow a garden. You needed three more years for
it to mature. Then you enjoyed it on the 7th. But you had to begin
all over again on the eighth. He further elaborated that in a garden you needed
elevation, shade and water. You had to make sure you heard the water.
In the 2003 Falls Church Convention we were accompanied by
our 6 year-old granddaughter Rebecca. Nobody seemed to want to sit next to Alex
Summers in the garden tour buses as few could understand his very intelligent
mumbling. That is how Rebecca and Alex became friends. She was also befriended
by Mildred Seaver and they exchanged their reasoning for their like of the
colour blue. Mildred gave her a blue plush toy animal. Mildred told me at the time that her favourite hosta was Hosta tokudama "Aureo Nebulosa
|Mildred Seaver - 1992|
Somewhere in my photo vaults there is a photograph of
Rebecca and C.H. Falstad observing koi at a convention garden.
It was George Schmid who taught me that there were not shade loving plants. He said they were shade tolerant.
All the above is to stress that the faces of my hostas are
happy and warm people. I plan to go to the Ames Convention next year. I will
miss Bob but I plan to make new friends so I can put more faces on my Vancouver
|Bob Solberg - 1992|
|Glen Draper - 1992|
|Mary Chastain - 1992|
|Van Wade - 1992|
|Warren Polock - 1992|
|Wolfram Geoge Smith - 1992|
|Tony Avent - 1992|
Efraín Jara Idrovo - Phonological Opositions
Monday, September 19, 2022
|Left - Rosa 'Sombreuil' & Right - Rosa 'Margaret Merril' 18 September 2022|
poco te exige la vida!
Jara Idrovo (Cuenca, 26 de febrero de 1926-Ib., 8 de abril de 2018)
It is impossible to properly translate the above my most
frequent discovery of an Ecuadorean poet and writer. The poem in Spanish works
with similar for-letter words that begin with p. Here is a translation of the
Poses, weighs, steps. Passes – How little life demands
In finding this poet at this later stage of my life (80),
it feels like opening the window in a stuffy and hot car. The poem has really
nothing to do with my scan of the white roses in bloom in today’s garden.
But it the poem and the roses do make me aware of Idrovo’s
statement that life demands little of one.
My mentor Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. told our class one
day in the late 50s in Austin, that we were born with but one goal/purpose. This was to find out what we
could do well. Our path then became one of doing it. He warned us that in
not doing it this would amount to a tragedy.
Looking at my career in photography which now seems to
have been an easy one, perhaps it happened because of that awareness that Brother
Edwin inculcated in me.
At my age I could be watching TV or sleeping, or as I often told Rosemary "WTD" (waiting to die). Finding
happiness in cutting the white roses today; arranging them on my scanner bed, (Oxford comma!)
and then going through the entertaining process makes me reflect on the luck of
having met Brother Edwin and the fact that my Rosemary loved white roses.
It is as simple as that and the Ecuadorean poet would
certainly agree and with very few words.