A Scanner Obsession Distraction
Saturday, April 29, 2023
|Objects of floor I photographed from above with a studio softbox|
This blog will lead how the above photograph and this link led me to now in April 2023 to become nicely obsessed with doing similar photographs using my scanner. Wade Davis points the way towards biography
In percentage, my 52 years shared with Rosemary, because I
am now 80 is 65%.
That means that I was not alone for most of my life. Now
more than two years later I find it next to impossible to adapt to living
alone. The house is a museum of the time we spent in Mexico and our trips to
Buenos Aires. The portraits of the family, especially of our two daughters
Rebecca and Lauren are a constant reminder of the good time we had.
There is a feature that I sort of like in FB. Every day,
they send me 8 to 10 past blogs on today’s date. Because I have written 5799 I
forget I wrote some of them and when I read them again I realize how much spare
time I must have had to write at length and in detail.
|With my first serious camera a Pentacon F purchased in 1958|
They say that when one is having a car accident or a near death
experience, one’s life goes through one’s mind. I must write that I get the
same feeling as I read these old blogs and post them, in many cases with my
opinion on how things have changed since that blog was written.
My youngest daughter comes for a visit at least once a week
and my eldest, who lives in Lillooet calls me almost every day. I cannot
explain to them that it is not enough and it does not change my feeling of
isolation. The one bright moment is that I share my isolation with my brother and
sister cats, Niño and Niña that since we got them 5 years ago are now bonding
more with me and with each other. I understand that we are living together our
isolation and I have no idea if they remember their former mistress.
Hilary, my youngest daughter tells me to keep busy. It is
spring and my deck garden that used to be Rosemary and my deck garden has become
a museum garden in her memory. I am not buying some of the of the colourful
perennials and annuals at a nearby (it is wonderful!) seasonal nursery called
Urban Roots and it is on 4th Ave a few blocks from the house. I
drove for one hour and 15 minutes without turning left or right on Lougheed
Highway to go to the Fraser Valley Rose Farm. I went to get a peach coloured
rose that Rosemary adored called Rosa ‘Buttercup’. The rose did not survive
this past winter. I had to replace it in her memory.
The garden is busy distraction.
|Argentine nostalgia - my mother's poetry and my father's 1940 mate|
Do this in memory of me
But of late I have a distraction that has become a pleasant
obsession. I have been using my flatbed scanner, an Epson V700 Photo as a
camera. In the past I did a few pictures that we used to call tabletop
There is an autobiographical one here that is just that. I taught
my Focal Point students (I taught there until they closed their doors some
years ago) to place personal objects on the floor, arrange them and then photograph
them looking down on them.
|I used this for my recent blog on Artificial Intelligence|
Artificial Intelligence and Personal Style in Photography
I now do this with my scanner and I mix objects with photographs
(framed and unframed). It is lots of fun to arrange the stuff and the limiting
size of my scanner bed, 9/12 inches makes it more fun, too.
I will place all these scanner shots here and when possible
I will explain what led me to do each one. In some cases the pictures are
related to blogs. I will insert the links.
Hilary is right, the distraction and keeping busy helps, but
it is hard not to think that all I have done with my life is done and now I am
simply waiting. One question in my mind is, “Who will go first my cats or me?"
|Took family picture with Nikon FM-2 - the lens fell down the stairs while going down the staircase of St. Martin in the Fields in London.|
The Scanner - A burst of inspiration
A Gioconda in Blue
|Pentax S-3 - my second camera bought used in Mexico City in 1962|
Free Will - Function Follows Form
A recently discovered panoramic photograph taken with the Russian Horizont of American Hosta Society founder Alex Summers.
Capturing Alex Summers
|The Argentina Navy and Me|
I Now Belong
Accompanied the other scanner photograph with I Now Belong
My Two Swords Excalibur & My Guinevere
A Breath of Life in Inanimate Objects
Horst Wenzel - Merlin & my Sword Excalibur
|Today I left the Pentax S-3 for Horst Wenzel to repair the broken shutter button|
|Linda Lorenzo and my Argentine Nostalgia|
Y la Noche Olorosa como un Mate Curado - Jorge Luís Borges
Nostalgia with a scanner
|Ralph Rinke & Robert Kwong|
Smiles at the Sylvia Hotel
Rosemary & my cats - Paragons of stability
Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa & General Don José de San Martín
Swiveling with a view
Nostalgia & Association
Pitching a story
Playing with dolls
& Johnny Thunders
My Abuelita - She Made Me Who I Am Today
Friday, April 28, 2023
|Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena|
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog (link below) about 5 men in
Vancouver who are over 80, and not only have a complete set of marbles in their
head, they are actively doing stuff. I believe that this city does not respect
its aging population. It is a city with a poor memory for its past.
The Devil Knows - 5 Men
I will be 81 in August and I think I also have a good bag of
marbles. I am taking photographs with both my film cameras and my digital
camera. Yesterday I wrote my 5800th blog.
But the phone does not ring and more and more I feel the
isolation of living with my two cats for company. I am beginning to understand why some
people opt for going to one of those homes that cater to people my age. There I
would have company.
I only had one grandparent in my life. The others were all
dead. My grandmother, Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena, was born in Manila in 1992,
she was educated in Valencia and died in 1969 at age 7 7.
Because my father left our Buenos Aires home voluntarily in
1950 (he was an alcoholic) when I was 8 and my mother worked as a teacher at
the American School in Belgrano R, I can state that I was educated by my
abuelita. I called her Abue (pronounced Ahbweh). Only after she died did I
connect that her education, of yours truly, came via Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s
Don Quijote de la Mancha.
The novel contains lots of advice that Sancho Panza gave his
master. My grandmother used what now would be seen as a modern and positive
approach. She never told me to not do this or that. Her method was, “The donkey
that got used to not eating died”. Another variant of that one was, “Those who
do not want to eat will have a choir at their burial.”
|My mother Filomena, me, Abuelita, Tía Sarita, Uncle Tony & Jorge Wenceslao circa 50/51|
I had a profound respect for her. I was not an easy child.
My mother used the Filipino chinela (slipper) method of punishment. She never
whipped me in anger as she would say, “Alex you will give you some chinelazos
in 10 minutes." I suffered in the anticipation. If my abuelita was around she
would say, “Nena, Alex is an artist like me so you have to be more forgiving.”
She was a coloratura soprano and a fine painter. One of her pastels is in the picture above.
She constantly told me that my grandfather Don Tirso de Irureta Goyena was the only person in the Philippines who was a member of the lofty Real Academia Española. She gave me a fine Spanish dictionary reiterating that I would learn to love the language of my grandfather. I did & I do.
On the other side of the coin she seemed to respect my judgment. My mother, she and I were at the seaside resort of Mar del Plata (Fangio was born there) when I was 7 or 8. At the dinner table Abue asked me what I thought of her new dangling earrings. I told he, "Parecen orejas de burro, " "They look like donkey's ears." She got up from the table and told me to follow her. We went to the edge of the sea, she removed her earrings and threw them.
I cannot imagine another grandparent taking her 9 year old
grandson to see all the episodes (more than 15 I believe) of Superman at the movies.
Not only that she would take me to see cowboy, pirate, war and swashbuckler films. After we would have ice-cream sodas at a joint called Roxy in downtown
Buenos Aires. She had a sweet tooth. So do I.
My grandmother did not live with us. She had an apartment
with a piano downtown. My mother and I would take tram 35 to visit her. There
Abue, my uncle Tony would sing accompanied by my mother on the piano. It was in
Abue’s apartment where I fell in love
with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
Abue told me so many refrains from the Quijote that they all
crop up in my memory at any moment is the occasion reminds me of it.
One of my favourites, in connection of those five men who
are over 80, she would tell me, “Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo.”
In English that’s, “The devil knows more, not because he is the devil but
because he is an old man.”
Because in her 19th century Darwin was much in
the news, she often told me when someone blundered (she would never call them
stupid), “They showed their tail.”
I believe that a lot of my success as a teacher (Abue was a
good one) and photographer and, even husband to my Rosemary, is due to the upbringing
she gave me.
Amazingly, before Abue died in 1969, she met my Rosemary in Veracruz. In some sort of way Rosemary inherited some of her ways and our two daughters grew up just fine.
In this century I have been told by people close to me that
just because I am an old man I don’t necessarily merit respect. Somehow I think
my Abue would have some Sancho Panza aphorism that would challenge that.
My wife died on 9 December 2020. The fine life she and I shared
with our two granddaughters is gone. It is over. Why?
Because I am an old man.
I Now Belong
Thursday, April 27, 2023
From 1958 to 1961 when I was at the Roman Catholic boarding
school St. Edward’s High School I did not belong. My classmates were either Latinos
or the Texan whities. Because I had white skin the Latinos excluded me from
their group. For the whities, because my home was in Nueva Rosita, Coahuila,
Mexico and I spoke Spanish, I was not one of them.
In 1953 when my mother, grandmother and I moved to Mexico
City I had to quickly get rid of my Argentine accent in the American School
where my mother taught. My classmates could not understand my Spanish. I wanted to blend in.
Once Rosemary, our two daughters and I moved to Vancouver in
1975, I briefly felt I belonged when I rented cars at Tilden on Alberni Street. I had a job at an office. Once I started shooting for Vancouver Magazine as a freelancer, even though I
became the virtual staff photographer I did not belong. The magazine’s premises
were not my office.
And so it has been most of my life of feeling that I am an
outsider, looking in.
With my Rosemary gone from my life, when she died on December
9, 2020, the company of my two cats, Niño and Niña are my two almost human
entities I share my solitude with. It would seem that we belong to each other.
It was a couple of weeks ago that I finally saw the light
that I do belong. How is this?
In September 2019 Rosemary and I went to Buenos Aires to
attend the wedding of one of my nieces. I took Rosemary to la Boca which is and
old part of Buenos Aires that was originally populated by Genovese Italians. It
is very Argentine and many tangos have been written about it. I told Rosemary
that during my stint in the Argentine Navy in the mid-60s I worked at a
bar/restaurant, Paquebot Priano as a waiter to supplement my One Dollar monthly pay. If anything
having worked there makes me a unique and almost (dare I say this?) thorough
|Amirante Guillermo Brown|
We got on a bus to return to our hotel. On the way I spotted
a large yellow house. I told Rosemary we had to get off the bus to visit that
house. The Casa Amarilla is not the original house where Almirante Guillermo
Brown (born in Ireland and founded the Argentine Navy) lived his last days. It
is a replica. We entered the house and found a sailor at a desk. I asked him if
there was an officer on the premises. He told me he would fetch the lieutenant.
A man appeared and I greeted him as “Señor Teniente.” He instantly corrected
me, “Soy Capitán de Navío (a four stripe captain)." Rosemary wrote his name down
in a book I have not been able to find so this man’s name will be unknown in
The captain and I sat down to talk and we did this for one
hour. Meanwhile Rosemary went out to the large Casa Amarilla garden to inspect
The captain and I discussed and shared our impressions of a
book we had both read. This is El Combate Perpetuo by the eminent Argentine
writer Marcos Aguinis. It is a novelized biography of Guillermo (William) Brown.
|It is preferable to sink your ship than to surrender the flag |
I felt comfortable talking to the captain as I was no longer
an Argentine Navy conscript who would have never been allowed to sit down in
the presence of an officer.
Rosemary came back in and took an unsharp photograph of the
captain and me with her phone for posterity.
It is in these last two weeks where I have had this
wonderful feeling. No, I never shot a rifle in a war. I was just a translator
and aide to a US Naval captain. I had a desk job. But (yes!) I now have come to
understand and feel that I am part of an over 200 year-old tradition of the
Argentine Navy (ARA – Armada República Argentina). I can see that I can share
William Brown’s glorious reputation with my fellow members of the navy.
In a not too well known incident where Almirante Brown was
combating in a battle on the Paraná River against the not yet famous
Giuseppe Garibaldi, the soon-to-be Italian patriot who would unify Italy, was
soundly defeated and he burned his ships so Brown could not commandeer them. Brown’s
officers then suggested they pursue Garibaldi and kill him. Brown said, “Let him
go, he is a brave man.”
Now at age 80 I feel I belong.