Monday, March 25, 2019

Fig-ure/Ground



To replace a second storey window a scaffold had to be installed. To install the scaffold meant the cutting back of a fig that needed pruning anyway. To appreciate the arborist's cuts a camera was used to document them. The cut above is from a bottom limb. The picture, as it appears in this medium, was rotated 90-degrees to the right, and for this reason has no basis in reality.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Is There a Room in the House More Utilitarian Than the Laundry Room?



It was only after Alex whitewashed its walls that I saw beyond its washer and dryer and the shelf on which sits detergents, bleach, stain remover and the mustard bucket inherited from Hans Schaubus that I use to clean the lint trap.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Crossing Powells



Crossing Powell (1984) and Crossing Powell 2 (1984) are among my favourite Fred Herzog pictures. Something about a shadow cast from a subject in the path of reflected light. Or maybe it's as simple as knowing where these pictures were taken -- the southeast corner of the intersection of Jackson and Powell.


Friday, March 22, 2019

D'Annunzio



A review of a recent biography of aesthete practitioner Gabriele D'Annunzio (above right, next to his protege, Mussolini, in 1925) -- with no mention of Trump! Ah, but the review is dated 2013, when a Trump presidency was unimaginable. (Berlusconi's term as Italy's prime minister ended in 2011; you would think he might warrant a mention.)

A highlight of Margaret MacMillian's Paris 1919 is her summary (pp. 302-303) of D'Annunzio's fifteen month residency at the Croatian port of Fiume (now Rijeka). According to MacMillan, "priests demanded the right to marry and young women stayed out all night. The city reverberated, said observers, with the sounds of lovemaking." Not surprising, given that Europe was still "fresh" from what H. G. Wells called "the war to end all wars."

Below is Stefi's translation of D'Annunzio's 1902 poem "La Pioggia nel Pineto".

Rain in the Pinewoods


Be silent. At the edge
of the woods I do not hear
the human words you say;
I hear new words
spoken by droplets and leaves
far away.
Listen. It rains
from the scattered clouds.
It rains on the briny, burned
tamarisk,
it rains on the pine trees
scaly and rough, 
it rains on the divine
myrtle,
on the bright ginestra flowers
gathered together,
on the junipers full of
fragrant berries, 
it rains on our sylvan
faces, 
it rains on our
bare hands
on our light
clothes,
on the fresh thoughts
that our soul, renewed, 
liberates, 
on the beautiful fable
that beguiled you
yesterday, that beguiles me today, 
oh Hermione. 

Can you hear? The rain falls
on the solitary
vegetation
with a crackling noise that lasts
and varies in the air
according to the thicker,
less thick foliage.
Listen. With their singing, the cicadas
are answering this weeping, 
this southern wind weeping
that does not frighten them, 
and nor does the grey sky.
And the pine tree
has a sound, the myrtle
another one, the juniper
yet another, different
instruments
under countless fingers.
And we are immersed 
in the sylvan spirit,
living the same
sylvan life;
and your inebriated face
is soft from the rain,
like a leaf,
and your hair is
is fragrant like the light
ginestra flowers,
oh terrestrial creature
called Hermione.

Listen, listen. The song
of the flying cicadas
becomes fainter
and fainter
as the weeping
grows stronger;
but a rougher song
rises from afar,
and flows in
from the humid remote shadow.
Softer and softer
gets weaker, fades away.
One lonely note
still trembles, fades away.
No one can hear the voice of the sea.
Now you can hear the silver rain
pouring in
on the foliage,
rain that purifies,
its roar that varies
according to the thicker,
less thick foliage.
Listen. 
The child of the air
is silent; but the child
of the miry swamp, the frog,
far away,
sings in the deepest of shadows
who knows where, who knows where!
And it rains on your lashes,
Hermione. 

It rains on your black lashes
as if you were weeping,
weeping from joy; not white
but almost green,
you seem to come out of the bark.
And life is in us fresh
and fragrant,
the heart in our chests is like a peach
untouched
under the eyelids our eyes
are like springs in the grass
and the teeth in our mouths
green almonds.
And we go from thicket to thicket, 
at a time together, at a time apart
(the vegetation, thick and vigorous,
entwines our ankles
entangles our knees)
who knows where, who knows where!
And it rains on our sylvan
faces, 
it rains on our
bare hands
on our light
clothes,
on the fresh thoughts
that our soul, renewed, 
liberates, 
on the beautiful fable
that beguiled me
yesterday, that beguiles you today, 
oh Hermione.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Backyard Light



When Derek rebuilt the fence he suggested a horizontal design.

Above is what the backyard looked like yesterday morning. Same with the morning before. And the morning before that, when its picture was taken.

A workday later:



Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Architects



Ian's always talking about "the architects" and the role they played in bringing modernism to the Vancouver "frontier." Architects like Abraham Rogatnick and Arthur Erickson, but not Gerald Hamilton, whose H.R. MacMillan Space Centre opened in 1968.

The photo above was taken by "frontier" artist Christos Dikeakos in 1969 and includes Hamilton's  Space Centre at Vanier Park. After completing the Space Centre, Hamilton designed the St. George's Greek Orthodox Cathedral (1970) at Arbutus and Valley Drive.


Tuesday, March 19, 2019


A small room behind a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

The sun is only now just high enough to light my mother's drawing: a birdhouse she made when she was nine and I framed years later.

The bird has faded over the years (she approached it "lightly -- too lightly"), but the light does what it can to return it to us.