L' 'houre bleue - Joan Didion
Saturday, May 20, 2023
|Top left H. 'First Frost', H. 'Dorset Blue', H. 'Ben Vernooij' & on top right ' H. 'El Niño', below left H.'Halcyon' - seen underneath on top left H. 'Paul's Glory' - scanned 19 May 2023|
little my Rosemary steered me in directions I never thought I would consider.
In 1987 she took me to a meeting of the Vancouver Rose Society. It was boring,
my seat was uncomfortable and I was forced to look at 100 slides projected that
were all bad.
prevailed and I fell in love with roses. Now with her gone when I look at my
rose garden today May 20 , 2023 I see so many lovely blooms in the solitude of
a life that I can no longer share with her.
garden her two favourite colours were blue and white. It was my removal of rose
(a lurid Rosa ‘All that Jazz’ from a house that was going to be torn down and
buying an orange Rosa ‘Westerland’ where I taught her that those bright colours
could go well with her blues and whites.
|Rosemary July 2020 - Anemone blanda|
Of late I have
been thinking of blue. I have been thinking of blue hostas. A few months before
Rosemary died I had a right eye cataract removed. Until then I thought that our
bedroom doors were cream. They were white as my cataract was like a yellow filter.
Leaving my oficina one day I saw a blue hosta that was unearthly blue. I then
understood, that minus the yellow of my cataract,, white was white and blue was
A few days
ago I was startled by an extremely blue Hosta ‘El Niño’.
I know that
blue hostas reflect UV light particularly when they are in the shade. My friend
Ralph Rinke sent me a link to something called uvindexapp He told me that on
the day that El Niño had been very blue
the UV index in Vancouver had been very high.
In the beginning
of the 90s, when I was buying blue hostas, I noticed that they were never as blue as in their catalogue pictures. The
reason was one I instantly figured out. I am a photographer. Colour film,
video, and digital cameras are more sensitive to the UV spectrum that we humans
do not see.
debated Kennedy on October 13, 1960 I watched it in our poolroom at St. Edward’s
High School in Austin, Texas. Nixon lost because he looked terrible. He did not
use Max Factor makeup that blocked UV (particularly the UV lighting of TV
cameras). The UV penetrated his skin and
showed all his blemishes.
I am still
shaken after having read Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking which she
started two days after her husband died. I am now reading, its sort of sequel,
Blue Nights which was written after her daughter Quintano Roo died.
first two pages I found this which fits in with the blue theme of this blog:
certain latitude there comes a span of time approaching and following the
summer solstice, some weeks in all, when the twilights turn long and blue. This
period of the blue nights does not occur n subtropical California, where I
lived for much of the time I will be talking about her and where the end of
daylight is fast and lost in the blaze of the dropping sun, but it does occur
in New York, where I now live. You notice it first as April ends and May
begins, a change in the season, not exactly a warming – in fact not at all a
warming – yet suddenly summer seems near, a possibility, even a promise. You
pass a window, you walk to Central Park, you find yourself swimming in the
color blue: the actual light is blue, and over the course of an hour or so this
blue deepens, becomes more intense even as it darkens and fades, approximately finally
the blue of the glass on a clear day at Chartres, or that of the Cerenkov
radiation thrown off by the fuel rods in the pools of the nuclear reactors. The
French call this time of day ‘ l’heure bleue.” To the English it was the “the
gloaming.” The very word “ gloaming” reverbates, echoes – the gloaming, the
glitter, the glisten, the glamour – carrying in its consonants the images of
houses shuttering, gardens darkening, grass-lined rivers slipping through the
shadows. During the blue nights you think the end of the day will never come.
As the blue nights draw to a close (and they will, and they do) you experience
and actual chill, an apprehension of illness, at the moment you first notice:
the blue light is going, the days are already shortening, the summer is gone.
This book is called “Blue Nights” because at the time I began it I found my
mind turning increasingly to illness, to the end of promise, the dwindling of
the days, the inevitability of the fading, the dying of the brightness. Blue
nights are the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but they are also its
Joan Didion - Blue Nights - 2011
too, blue is a sad colour. When my Argentine girlfriend Susy called me one
1967 evening in Buenos Aires to tell me I was a man with no future and that I was
not to call her back, I went into a deep depression. I thought that I had to hit
rock bottom to improve. I played on and on the Miles Davis album Kind of Blue. I do not remember if it worked.
Three & One Half Selfies - A Dominatrix & a Pushy Woman
Friday, May 19, 2023
|With Yuliya in Burnaby Dec 2007|
As a portrait photographer I have been reluctant to take my self-portrait.
But in my 65 years as a photographer I must admit that I have quite a collection.
In that other century, the method was to place your camera on a tripod and either use
a long device called a bulb or to use the camera’s self-timer.
In this century, thanks to smart phones, the self-portrait
has deteriorated (my opinion) into prolific selfies which in the conventional
lingo of now, is captured.
I was thinking about the above when I remembered a
photograph that I took 16 years ago, using a bulb with my friend Yuliya the
professional dominatrix. She suggested the pose. I was reluctant as I have always
had a code of ethics that I never touch my subjects, particularly when they are
not wearing anything. Yuliya persisted and I gave way. This is my favourite
selfie, which for me is on the same league of one that I took, with a
self-timer, of Rosemary and me in 1967 on Mocambo Beach in Veracruz.
|With Rosemary in Mocambo, Veracruz 1967|
All the above set me to think further. This is that in my
life I have been influenced by one pushy woman (my Rosemary) and
I would have to include the dominatrix who in the many years that I
photographed her I learned a lot as to what makes us human.
|Left not a selfie taken by Rosemary Jan 23 2018 & right Dec 1987|
I would never be writing this in my comfortable oficina, in what is now my Kits home, with no money worries, had it not been for Rosemary’s financial
acumen. That she plainly told us in 1975 that Mexico was not a good place for
out two daughters to grow up in and that we were moving to Vancouver was a
brilliant decision by the best pushy woman of my life.
In some strange way my two cats have inherited some of this
from Rosemary. Without talking, or being overly pushy, they give me a reason
for waking up in the morning and living my day.
Three Mothers & One More II
Sunday, May 14, 2023
|Rebecca, Hilary & Lauren|
|Alexandra Elizabeth & Rosemary Elizabeth Healey Waterhouse-Hayward - 1968|
I have a friend who constantly tells me I am repeating
myself and he likes to add, “It’s been done before.”
In Mexico and in Latin America Mothers’ Day is always on
May 10th. Because of the different date in Canada I placed several
old blogs on that theme last week.
I thought I would be original in thinking that today I could
write a blog about the four mothers in my life. It seems I am repeating myself and
I have done it before. Here is the proof.
Three Mothers & One More
Perhaps I can modify that blog by pointing out that of the
four mothers in my life only one is left and that is my 50-year-old daughter
She has two daughters. She is a very good mother.
Additionally she reminds me of my own mother as she has her crooked smile
and speaks fine Spanglish.
|My mother, Filomena Cristeta de Irureta Goyena de Hayward|
Of my first mother, the one that bore me I have written
before how when I was 21 she told me that she loved me because mothers always
love their children but that to that point she had never liked me. Somehow
after a year in the Argentine Navy in a trip to visit her for Christmas she
pleasantly informed me that I had changed and that she liked me.
An often repeated mantra by my mother was, “Alex, you will
never understand as you will never be a mother.” By the time I figured out that
I could have told her, “You will never understand because you will never be a
father,” she was dead at age 61.
All her life my mother sacrificed her well being by spending
the little money she had on private school education for . That she sent me to
St. Edward’s High School in Austin, Texas in 1958 gave me a good liberal
education and that is where I bought my first camera and eventually became what
I have been for many years, a photographer that she would have been proud of.
My father was a journalist and my mother was a fine poet.
Perhaps I inherited from them my own sort of decent talent to write.
Because my mother was a teacher and by 1950 my father had
left the house, the person who educated me was my mother’s mother, my
grandmother Lolita. She was an artist and constantly told me I was one, too.
She used a modern method of never telling me not to do something but, “If you
do this, this is what is going to happen.” Her fave was, “El que por su gusto se muere, cantando lo entierran.” If
you wish to die because you want to, a choir will sing at your funeral.”
|With María de los Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena|
What is outstanding is that the third mother in my life, my
wife Rosemary, met them both. My mother lived with us for a couple of years in
Mexico City and she and Rosemary got along well.
She died in bed in 1971 in the presence of Rosemary and me. This was
just another incident in our life that kept my Rosemary and I together.
Because Hilary, was a busy worker, Rosemary planned all kind
of trips abroad with our granddaughters, and paid for ballet and music lessons.
We both were Saturday baby sitters.
When I write that Rosemary was the fourth mother in my life
I really mean that she mothered me. She did all the financial worrying, bought
my razors, shampoo and toothpaste. She spoiled me as much as my abuelita did.
I don’t really understand people wishing other people a
happy Mothers’ Day. For me it is an extremely sad day. Having talked with Hilary
today was a high point. But one mother left, I’ll take it, is really not
In my memory I remember being in the sixth grade in Mexico
City and putting together a cardboard waste paper basket with an image of La
Gioconda on it for my mother. It was as simple as that. A real Mother’s Day (it seems that putting the apostrophe
after the s is wrong) is a happy one, but only in my memory.
I can add that none of the four mothers in my life knew what
it was like to be a father.
There is a vivid remembrance in me of being at the ABC Hospital in Tacubaya, Mexico City when Ale was born. Rosemary's doctor, Doctor deKanter, told us both, "Rosemary, you are now a mother but you must also remember that you are a wife, too." I believe that my Rosmary never forgot as she was a fine wife. She proved that for 52 years.