Hannah Parkhouse - The Cat Lady
Saturday, December 16, 2023
|Hannah Parkhouse Version 01 - 16 December 2023
Perfection in a photographic image is now the norm. In my
day, in the 80s, magazine art directors would tell me, “Alex shoot edgy.”
All these years later, I enjoy going against the tide of perfection.
Thanks to the urging of my Rosemary about 8 years ago, to buy a digital camera,
and modernize my style, I began to experiment, particularly since once we moved
to Kitsilano I lost my darkroom.
At the then excellent Leo’s Camera on Granville, Jeff Gin (with Leo's gone, he is the manager of Kerrisdale Cameras on Lonsdale)
recommended the Fuji X-E1. This was a camera with no DSLR hump as it was mirrorless.
Now mirrorless cameras have that hump so that people seeing you with one will
think you are a professional. And more so if the lens is professional white.
When I travelled with Rosemary I realized that I had to
play it safe even if I was no longer being paid for my photographs. This
mandated that I have a second camera. That is my present Fuji X-E3.
My contemporaries think I am an idiot because I shoot
jpgs and not RAW. In film comparison, a jpg is like a slide. As a magazine
photographer I had to shoot slides.Art directors wanted to see the original. And my exposures had to be perfect. RAW is
like shooting colour negative and you don’t have to be so accurate. You can
fix your image later. My comment here is that photographers who shoot RAW spend a lot of time "editing" with and expensive program called Lightroom. I use a 19 year-old Photoshop 8.
It is because of the fact that I shoot jpgs that I discovered a technique that came
from a failure. That first failure is in this link below.
The method is one where I use my camera set on 200
ISO, 1/30 of a second and I use the magical (unknown to me before) f-stop 7.1.
My light is just the modelling light of my flash installed in a small softbox.
When I download I get this black rectangle. But there is
lots of information there.
|Hannah in black
Last month’s technique involved me shooting only one
(as in one) exposure in which my subject has his/her hands on their chest. Few are aware I have taken a shot, as my camera's digital shutter makes no noise.
Today I was visited by
Hannah Parkhouse. She is young and beautiful and I am an old man. But we
do have one thing in common. We are cat people. I first met her a few weeks back at a Fujifilm Camera function. See below.
Hannah Parkhouse and Fujifilm Canada function
Below is a scan I did of my Fuji X-E3. The dented filter makes me look less professional so people take me less seriously. Hannah's image is not an inkjet print. It is an inkjet transparency mounted on a silver card. Why not?
The Nerd & the Women in His Life
Friday, December 15, 2023
|The nerd in Hawaii in middle 80s - Photograph Rosemary
For most of my life my relationship with women was all
one-sided. I remember lifting the skirts of one of the Diligenti quintuplets, María Fernada, in
my Buenos Aires kindergarten. And from then on I became much shier and I
admired girls I liked, without approaching them. I would dream about them.
One of them was a tad forward. Her name was Susan Stone and
her father was the general manager of General Motors in Argentina. She would
send her father’s Cadillac to pick me up so that she and I could play in her
mansion. We never played doctor, but I do remember that she showed me a
new-fangled device called a television.
|Yours truly on the left. Susan Stone is laughing on right
In 1958, when I was in the 8th grade in a small
school (my mother was the teacher) in Nueva Rosita (a mining town), Coahuila there were three
grades in our room. I was in the 8th (6 boys) and then there was 7th
and 6th. I could not get my eyes off Ana María Ramos who was in the 7th.
I did dance with her once but I was such a terrible dancer that I felt awkward
not knowing yet that I would soon be called a nerd. She was not interested in any of the 6 boys of our class. Just about every day she was walked home by a young man called Romeo. She married him.
From 1958 to 1961, in my boarding school in Austin,Texas I
was no better at attracting women as I could not dance. I went to the sock hops
in our school basketball gym. I was a perennial wall-flower. There was one
very short girl I adored called Judy Reyes. I somehow became brave and asked
her to dance. I remember that it was a slow dance called A Summer Place (Percy
Faith) which had been the theme of a film with Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue.
I was in the school band. I played the alto saxophone. At football games we were
always next to the cheerleaders. One of them was Judy Reyes. It was then that I
began to understand the wonders of underwear and I kept making sure I would
watch her when she jumped.
Somehow I did get enough gumption to invite her to the
movies. By then I was in the 12th grade (grade 12 in Canada) and I remember
going to meet her parents. But the school year ended and I was gone. I found her a few years ago living in San Antonio. She sold (really!) cheer-leading equipment and was a hyper-born-again Roman Catholic.
In Mexico City I met, courtesy of my artist friend Roberto
Hijar, who was studying art at Mexico City College (I was unsuccessfully
studying engineering) a lovely short and blonde girl called Judy Brown. She was
cold with me but did accept to meet my mother in Veracruz. She kept telling me
about her boyfriend (Allan) in California. I was definitely a nerd with no future. Her claim to fame was that her father played tennis with Charles Schulz.
Hijar also introduced me to a girl called Benji. Her name
was Benjamin. She was black and Jewish. She taught me a few interesting
proceedings before I left for Buenos Aires in 1966.
|Yours truly, Benji and Roberto Hijar - Mexico City 1963
It was in Buenos
Aires, in 1966 when was a conscript in the Argentine Navy, that I discovered the
wonder of a woman who saw in me the
potential of not being a nerd . With friends we went to visit her and she was
in bed with a foot ailment. She asked to read my hand and she was correct in
many of her guesses. Corina Poore was my first real girlfriend. I often tell my
friends that my first girl was an Oriental.The reason is that she was born in
Uruguay and the official name of the country is La República Oriental del
Uruguay, as it happens to be on the Eastern side of the River Plate. Argies call
Uruguayans, orientales (nationalities are never capitalized in Spanish).
|Corina Poore - la oriental - Buenos Aires 1966
One day Corina said that she had a brother who had a ranch
in the Province of Entre Ríos and he had a small plane he flew. She invited me for the
weekend. But I had to get permission as I would be missing my Monday at the
navy office. My friendly Argentine Marine Corps corporal, Cabo Moraña, gave me the permission with a proviso. He told me that I would have it on the condition that I
would give him all the details when I got back.
In preparation for my trip I went to the best shoe store in
Buenos Aires, López Taibo, on Calle Corrientes. I entered in my summer white
uniform and told a very serious attendant that I wanted a particular pair of
boots. He looked at me up and down (knowing that my military pay amounted to two Dollars in pesos) and said, “Are you sure you are in the right
store?” From my pocket I showed him a crisp American 100 Dollar bill.
When the airplane landed on a dirt road, in an arid pampa,
close to a town called Liebig (famous for making meat extract) we were met by a
huge black Packard from the late 30s. We were taken to an estancia (Argie for
ranch) that was surrounded by an old-fashioned wrought iron fence. Behind the
fence was a huge Great Dane.
We had lunch at a large table complete with finger bowls.
Corina told me we were going to go riding after. I proudly put on my new boots.
The Argentine saddle consists of a few sheepskins strapped
on the horse with a cinch that has stirrups attached. I did not notice (I was a
gringo which is Argie for a tenderfoot) and did not notice the horse puffed up
it stomach. Not soon after I was on the horse, the horse stopped suddenly and
the “saddle” went flying with me. The horse started kicking me. I had seen enough
Westerns to know that my only escape was to roll and roll. But the horse did
kick me in the eye and I had an instant black one. I spent most of the not too
romantic weekend on a hammock on the veranda with Corina fanning my face.
You can imagine the incredulous Cabo Moraña not believing my
story of the horse. In 1987 when I returned to Buenos Aires I went to López
Taibo to see if I could replace my now worn out boots. And yes I was able. The
same man who had sold my first pair attended me. He asked for my name and came
back with a box that had my measurements.
Corina, unfortunately for me, had decided to go to London to
study art. I went to see her off at the Buenos Aires port when as we know in
those days, ships went to places because people want to go there.
Seeing my sadness she said, “Look up my friend Susana
Bornstein. She will console you.” She did and here was another woman that saw
in me more than a nerd. She did point out that I was uncultured and took me to
the Teatro Colón for a couple of operas. She insisted we see the film Help!,
but also to an extremely erotic Japanese film called The Woman in the Dunes.
|Susana Bornstein - Buenos Aires 1967
One day, a rainy, cold Buenos Aires weekend, she called and
told me,”You are uncultured. You will never amount to anything. Don’t ever call
me back. I have a new man, a violinist in the Colón Orchestra."
In 1987 I returned to Buenos Aires. I had found her with my early internet. I rang the bell. She opened the door and asked me, "Aren't you going to kiss me?" She died a few months later of cancer.
Lucky for me the next woman I met in December 1997, happened to be my Rosemary
Elizabeth Healey, who did not mind that I was a nerd. We were married February 8, 1968.
|Rosemary - Mexico City - 1968
But my past haunted me. We tried to learn the Argentine
Tango. We got into fights on the dance floor during our classes. She abandoned her
pursuit and I was left to become an efficient (no more) tango dancer.
The Wedding Band
Thursday, December 14, 2023
|Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' 15 December 2023
I really do not believe in fate. In order to waste time in
our religion class (really it was about Aristotelian, Thomestic and Augustinian
theology) we would ask Brother Edwin Reggio,C.S.C. at St Edward’s High School
in Austin, Texas what we thought were dumb questions. One day we asked,"Brother Edwin
what is free will?” This was his succinct answer (he knew of our intentions to waste time): "Two cars coming from opposite directions on a
sharp curve at a mountain will not see each other until they probably crash.
God is above looking at this which is about to happened. He does nothing. That
is free will.”
I narrow that down to “coincidence happens more often than
When I opened my jewel box to take out Hilary’s birthday gift
yesterday (link to blog below) I saw a little plastic bag with two rings. They
were our wedding bands that Rosemary and I had jeweller Jaime Vidal design for us
using blue-fired enamel. We stopped wearing them when our fingers began to get
Rosemary's Winged Scarab
I tried it and it fit, snuggly, but it did fit. That and the
second bloom of Rosemary’s favourite Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ I believe
may be a lovely posthumous Christmas gift from my Rosemary.
Rosemary and her Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'
At my age of 81, few women will notice the band and
refrain from asking for a date. After all I am married. I feel safe.
Our stupid questions to Brother Edwin were always answered with an incredible content that challenged us. One day we enquired how God's existence could be proven. His answer was unexpected. "Imagine you are bowling. You do one of those terrible splits. Your bowling ball is returned via the runner on one side of the gutter. It goes up a ramp and it hits the bowling balls of your friends.They all move except the last one. That one is Aristotle's unmoved mover - God."
Rosemary's Winged Scarab
Wednesday, December 13, 2023
|Hilary in 1977 at Queen Elizabeth Park
The winged scarab consists of three pieces: an actual
scarab beetle and two separately made wings. The wings are not those of a
beetle, but those of a bird, as is apparent by their shape and the indication
of individual feathers. Each piece features several small holes that were used
to fasten the winged scarab to the wrappings of a mummy. Winged scarabs, meant
to guarantee the rebirth of the deceased, were very popular funerary amulets.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
In one of my trips to NY City I bought Rosemary a lovely
necklace at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It featured a winged scarab.
Rosemary liked it and wore it often to parties.
Tomorrow December 14th is my youngest daughter,
Hilary Anne Stewart’s birthday. She will be 52. We will celebrate it (just
the two of us) with a light supper in my Kits home and then we will go to the
Park Theatre (an old-fashioned movie theatre) to see Emma Stone’s latest film
We are all saddled with stuff and I was wondering what I
could possibly give Hilary for her birthday. There is nothing that I could possibly
buy that she would need. Ditto food or (no!) an appliance.
I thought then that Rosemary’s scarab necklace would be
perfect. It is made of silver, not of gold, so Hilary can wear it safely to work or for
Most important there is that connection with her mother,