Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

The past – treatments in life and in writing

In Current reading, notes, photography, proto drafts on July 11, 2016 at 8:44 am

A trove of family snapshots. One family member’s written attempt at transmitting some information about who the ancestors were and how life panned out for parents,  brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, the younger siblings etc Most of the trails concerning the ancestors lead nowhere, except to intriguing dead ends: did our maternal great-grandmother die aboard the Lusitania or not? What is this about the housekeeper I recall as Ukrainian and who appears in the notes as a sadistic German giving scalding baths to helpless children? My own appearance in the notes takes me somewhat by surprise, as much for what is said as for what isn’t.

Two pathetic tidbits stand out this morning: the first concerning her fiancé’s insistence they marry before year’s end, for income tax purposes – the rest of the relationship proved so disastrous most of it goes unsaid in the notes. The other: when our mother left for her final stay in the hospital, her husband went home and disconnected the phone – without telling anyone of her whereabouts. Thus providing his own take on our mother’s oft-repeated statement that you’re born alone and you die alone (comfort wasn’t a biggie in her trove of aphorisms).

Family – some get too much of it, some, not enough. Either way, the true wonder being how a group of people, related or not, will tell the story of a given event. Barring the framework, few of the facts will match up.


When in Mexico, my sister lives in writer Juan Rulfo’s home town. I’d never heard of Rulfo before nor of his novella Pedro Paramo. On the back cover, Gabriel Garcia Marquez compares him to Sophocles. She picked up a French translation of it yesterday which I hope to read during her stay.

The first sentences couldn’t be more forthright: “I came to Comala because I learned my father, a certain Pedro Paramo, lived there. My mother told me. And I promised her I would go see him after she died.” Take it from there, reader.

She also brought me a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with illustrations by Teniel. A bit of childhood revisited.


I’ll read through Number Two Sister’s notes again, for sure. I know we’ll talk about them – and our own recollections – with Sister Number One. My main interest being how people evolve, or don’t. How we re-write the scripts as we go along. And the gravitational pull exerted by all the Great Unsaid – or not said spot on.


The local Portuguese community went wild with glee last night. Portugal won against France in the World Soccer semi-finals. The honking cars, the cheering and the firecrackers went on for such a long time I’m still wondering how they all managed to sustain their enthusiasm over such a long period. I mean, how long can a body find meaningful accomplishment in racing around a town square, screeching the tires and blaring the horn? (Much longer than imaginable, I discovered last night). Then a thunderstorm struck, the revelers took cover, and I thank the gods for that.


Yesterday was crazy, today may be even crazier, so…

In A post to keep afloat, Local projects, photography, proto drafts, Sanford Meisner on July 5, 2016 at 8:07 am

…so I may get to drop back in here again today, or not. If free time shows up, I’ll try to spend it on the proto draft instead.

Ergo, a bit of good craziness here, as in turning on the computer this morning – in a state of advanced fatigue – and smelling the jasmine at the sight of the photo I snapped of it yesterday. Worth a share? For sure.

Smell the jasmine? Hope you do.DSCN9163

“I was walking down the road, minding my own business…”

In Artists, coffee, Film, Food, Fun, Hautvoir, Local projects, Music, or juice, photography, proto drafts, Tea, Wine on June 30, 2016 at 8:47 am

Those are the first words I speak in Ed Maurer’s composition, Pérégrinations. Yesterday, I spoke them – and other bits used in the score – while the camera rolled. Others did the same. The shots will provide material for a clip. We laughed a lot – including after others helped me off the floor when a chair broke under me. Because of my weight? I doubt it, heavier bodies than mine occupied it first. No real harm done  but maybe I should take a refresher course in shoulder rolls and tumbles, as learned years ago in a judo class.

“I was walking down the road, minding my own business…” And then? A cat dashed across the path? A cop car appeared? A group of marchers? No one other than a buzzing fly? A squadron of stingers? Had it rained during the night? Were the fields and spider webs covered with dew? Or was this a path through a forest? What kind? A path well-trodden or a push through scrub and thorny bushes? A street? Industrial, residential…

Characters, take your pick.


Behavior modification. Basic observation: you can’t modify eating habits the same way you quit smoking because you can quit smoking altogether but you can’t quit eating. Obvious? Yes. Not so obvious: the how-to. A trip to the small downtown supermarket now involves a mental blanking out of some nine-tenth of the displayed food stuff. Some of those I ignored already, some I bought on occasion, some I considered staples. I won’t be counting grams of ingested protein or salt forever but I’m doing so now to get the notions straight – including when eating out with friends.

I’ve reactivated a long-time companion for this purpose: a notebook I’d bought in Montreal a month before leaving for Europe. Jottings, drawings, notions about food. Fancy meals, simple ones. One recent entry shows cartoon figures at a café table in Gruissan. Date: May 28 of this year when I went to the seashore with friends. Comment added yesterday: “I didn’t know it but I was eating my last hamburger with fries. Delicious, luckily.” Better to end something on a great memory than on a lousy one.

So. Re-training the taste buds. Including when the jollity of a morning photo shoot peaks over wine and pasta with home-made pesto.

Yes, stomach? What’s that you said? ’tis time, I agree. I’ll have breakfast now.

Hard to beat

In and other spirits, Food, Hautvoir, Local projects, Music, news coverage, photography, proto drafts, Sundays on June 26, 2016 at 9:45 am

A few scenes stand out from last night’s outing. The ones that linger the most after less than four hours’ sleep have little to do with the purpose of the outing: a private party for a first presentation of a musical work by a friend. I provided some words and some voice to Ed Maurer’s fifty-minute composition called Pérégrination. The sixty or so guests enjoyed the performance, the food, the drinks and each others’ company.

Two of the kids held my attention most while I did my best to ignore the groaning board of forbidden goodies, the rum punch, the raspberry tiramisu etc. (Flash exposé: I blinked and faltered over the tiramisu.)

Back to the two kids who were both there and not there. The first, a girl of about ten, sat on the ground next to a vertical rack of sausage grilling by an open flame. While I worked on the experiment devised by the Greek gods – i.e. the mortals eat the meat, the gods get their fill from the smell of the roast – the girl peered down into her lit-up phone, oblivious to everything around her.

The second, a boy of about the same age, held my attention longer. In fact, we established the kind of relationship an adult and a youngster manage sometimes. One where neither party intrudes on the other’s privacy but a bond occurs. The boy’s attention was taken up by four activities: attempts at sketching a lighted sculpture while listening to the music (didn’t work, too many people milled around); lying on his back, staring up at the stars while listening to the music; sitting at the table, observing the patterns made by wax dripping from the candles (and attempting predictions as to which would drip next); and, finally – somewhere between one and two AM, sitting on the grass again, near the pool, playing a game on an electronic device.

He left with his parents just before we did. Looked my way and sent me a brief one-finger wave. I reciprocated.


Faces. Photos of. Plus titles such as TNYT The Woman Who ‘Totally Understands’ Donald Trump. As irresistible as a serving of that devilish tiramisu.


But hark! what light breaks beyond that yonder window?  ’tis the sun, and I’d better get a move-on if I hope to work a nap into the day’s proceedings.

Whatever you do, make sure you re-arrange the truth

In Artists, Current reading, dreams, Hautvoir, Music, notes, photography, proto drafts, Theater on June 20, 2016 at 7:00 am

The estrangement is subtle. Subtler things are easy to pass by. When you do, they leave an impression, a dis-ease with no clear name stamped on it, except that of estrangement.

A group of people. Some you like more, some less, but you are linked together by a common task. At some point, one of them evokes a childhood memory – a song, a popular figure or even, the names of Snow White’s seven dwarves in their childhood recollections. The stories tumble out – first one, then another, in the usual way groups react to something meaningful. To some of the memories you wish to react with your own, except…

Except you know you’ll interrupt the flow. Why? Because you’ll need to provide context – another country, another culture, a different way of relating to what the group is sharing. Sometimes, you join in with this bit of yours and modify the flow. More often than not, you don’t. A camera’s a good thing to have in those moments. You’re the one in the group who clicks the shutter every so often, the way one of the dwarves is called Sleepy and another…whatever – the names of the seven dwarves never meant that much to me.

Meanwhile, it’s Act Three in the days before King Arthur’s time (at least, in Shakespeare’s play) and King Lear feels his sanity reel and sway. He counted on Regan after Goneril’s betrayal and lo – here they are, his two daughters, joining hands against him while he’s cast away the third.

Of course, once the betrayals begin they won’t stop until the play ends. The play isn’t called a tragedy for nothing and good king Lear could be called But, I thought

I wake from the dream with thoughts of James Joyce’s The Dubliners this morning. Of all those real-life encounters you can’t tell without at least a smidge of transmogrification.  Finding the one thread to pull so as to get away from what really happened: not always obvious.

Late morning. A young man lies in the grass, complaining that his head hurts. The story tumbles out of why he and the group leader arrived so late.

As the man said: “Sanity’s a hard concept to define”.

In Absurdlandia, Drafts, dreams, Hautvoir, photography, Poetry, Rejection, Revision, Synopsis on May 23, 2016 at 7:36 am

Dreams are impossible to share. With some dreams, you try anyway because they were so horrific, you need words to exorcise them. With others you don’t try, because they’re so close to perfection, you don’t want to mess them up.

The dream last night was of the second category. Rather than attempt a description, I flip through the images in my head, secure in the knowledge no one else has access to them. What? a dream of sexual fulfillment? Of world-wide fame and fortune? Nothing of the kind. A dream of someone lost between two cities, wandering in a third and what she records there with her camera. See? You know nothing about what made the dream something close to perfection.

A poem I didn’t copy down yesterday. One of the Russians, I’ll find it again. Sometimes, things you don’t copy down linger the longest.

Last night, I typed in the infamous The End on my latest attempt at fiction. Will it fly? Will anyone else catch the mix of Little Nemo and…never mind. You build your paper plane. A few strokes on a computer can destroy it. Objects built with 3-D printers have more consistency than a piece of unpublished fiction – a thing almost as fragile and elusive as a dream.

Meanwhile, in the world of real: the astounding space of a so-called service provider. With a computer-savvy someone yesterday, I spent two hours finding the access to – well, to the service provider’s automatic answering device. My query now carries a Ticket Number. No, it doesn’t match up to the number of seconds evolved since January 1st 1601 (the computer-savvy someone tells me this is one clocking device used by another entity). I may or may not receive a satisfactory explanation + adequate solution. This is the world of real where things screw up a lot, then a bit more after that.

Occasional stop-overs in dreamland: mandatory, the body decrees. Don’t even think of dealing with Real without them.

A find

In Animals, coffee, Collage, Food, Hautvoir, Local projects, photography, Revision, Tea on April 30, 2016 at 8:51 am

The dog sleeps a lot – you would too if your food and drink options proved limited. She even gobbles down the pills, no questions asked. A small portion of rice flavored with activated charcoal? Mamma, you be so good to me! Water in small dribs, followed by a visit to the great outdoors soon after. And no contact with other animals, for the time being. As a result, she wags her tail near the window when she hears familiar folks and canines go by. She’s one good doggie.

A find? Yes, Cybèle was a foundling, but not the one titling this post. The correct title should read: two finds but they match up so well, I see no reason to change the wording. I’m talking about two objects – a table and a chair, both from the late thirties.

The two must have sat in a nice café, at one time. The table top is a fifty-centimetre (about twenty inches) square of red bakelite banded in black. The top sits on a central column with four projecting slices of grooved and varnished wood. The seat of the wooden chair has slats in the same style.

The find now occupies a spot near my kitchen shelves and provides a place to sit, drink coffee or tea, write, draw or take in the afternoon sun. The table’s big enough to accommodate a second cup and the company of one (1) extra body, if and when such occasions should arise. Combined with the re-potting of plants, the find supplied several moments of vast contentment yesterday.


Am I done with the story? Almost. I sense I’ll have to let the whole bunch live out the next bits in their fictional lives off the page or the computer screen. Not because their lives don’t interest me any more. Because, like the tabletop on yesterday’s find, stories have a frame. Sometimes, like a flat-earth explorer, you only discover the edge when you get to it.

So. A café table, plus flowers plucked from an abandoned garden.

Today is cold and rainy. With luck, tomorrow’s feast will happen outdoors.


Watch your feet

In Animals, Artists, coffee, Drafts, Hautvoir, Local projects, photography, Sanford Meisner on April 25, 2016 at 8:28 am

The title refers to the old joke about the centipede, asked to tell which foot it set in motion first: the one on the front row left, or the one on front row right? Resulting in a foot-tied rather than tongue-tied centipede.

Home. Chairs in a different configuration. The boy who stayed here while I was away brought his own food. Scorched one pan (nothing scouring can’t handle), and left everything else in tip-top shape. E-mail, agenda items, must buy new shoes since my toes poke out of the old ones. To-do this, to-do that. In no hurry to slip into anyone’s expectations as to the identity of the Real Me. Right now, the Real Me savors the last bits of the second bowl of morning coffee.

While in Alsace, I didn’t pay much attention to current world or national news. From the headlines, I don’t seem to have missed much. Must be a slow day in terms of catastrophes. The Nouvel Obs can’t do better in the fear department than ask: Should We Fear Supernovas? Best I can answer: I’ll take my chances with everyone else.

There’s way too much seriousness going around. Think straight kind of seriousness. Don’t think this, don’t say that.

A favorite moment during the last week: a visit to the church in Graffenwald with the person who waters the flowers and does the other off-stage chores. We entered through the sacristy where everything was solemn and the Christ statue pointed skyward to his Father’s Abode. A door led to the stage i.e. the altar (with a mike on it). Another door led offstage to a lav featuring a trusty snow shovel. The parish priest had called the off-stage person with his concerns about a missing flower vase. Which member of the community has taken off with one of the flower vases, I cannot say. The matter seemed of greater import than those fearsome supernovas about to explode and vaporize our piece of the universe.

In pressing concerns over here: retrieving my dog. Getting shoes out of which my toes don’t poke. Buying soil to re-pot a baby Douglas fir, gift from a man who has built the finest tree house I’ve had the privilege to see. A peek here :



The Centipede Conundrum extends to the draft, of course. Always an issue when the “where was I?” syndrome strikes. Read from the top, again? Eh. If I knew of a better system, I’d use it.


Different kinds of patience

In Absurdlandia, Current reading, Drafts, Fun, Games, Hautvoir, Local projects, photography on April 16, 2016 at 8:40 am

Publishing a book, whether ghost-written or not, is something of a tradition for politicians in France. Proof they are full-fledged intellectuals, you see. One such effort sold a grand total of ninety copies (bought by the author or his next-of-kin, who’s to say). How Monsieur Hubert Védrine’s Le monde au défi will do at the cash register, I can’t say. The little blurb I’ve read provides all I need to know beyond the fact Monsieur Védrine’s career as a career Socialist has culminated in his appointment as “advisor” to an investment bank dealing in global mergers and acquisitions. This, as background to the following: “La France n’a plus les moyens de ses émotions.” (France can no longer afford its emotions.)

I admit: an advisor to investment bankers  talking about “emotions” is enough to keep me reading through a paragraph in which Monsieur says: I regret it of course but France, land of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, can’t afford its emotions any more. We can’t transform China into a gigantic Denmark with a stroke from a magic wand. We aren’t the only players on the global scene. We must be realistic. And patient. The notion of Human Rights as an expensive and disposable emotion – who can still afford such a luxury, n’est-ce pas, Monsieur Védrine.

I finished yesterday’s post on the word patience. I now compare two photos: one of Monsieur Védrine standing inside his well-padded business suit with a satisfied look on his face, to a backdrop including the Eiffel Tower (France still has the means to light it up, how’s that for relief).

The other photo is of a young man who travelled across Mali and crossed the sea with little else than his birth certificate. He sits on the floor outside a court room in Toulouse and beams up at the camera, holding the precious document the Court has graciously returned to him. (In the first shot, he held the document upside down and the other young men laughed. He laughed along with them.) Authorities hadn’t even bothered checking the document after seizing it. Now that it’s proven authentic – who’s to say the document belongs to the boy, the prosecutor asks. Apparently, France still has the means to pay civil servants to play games with other people’s lives.

Patience sous l’azur. Title of a book by astrophysicist Hubert Reeves. The post on the Astronomy Today page says the Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System (HERTS) will allow the covering of fifteen billion kilometers in only ten to fifteen years. Question: if a human were onboard, what books should he bring along? A)Monsieur Védrine’s B) Some Gogol C) the Bible D) The Baghavad Ghita E) Other.

Allez? Allez.



Oh well. Or …

In Drafts, Hautvoir, photography, Sanford Meisner on April 14, 2016 at 9:44 am

… or how to recycle some of the good memories. Without destroying the beauty, without throwing in too much nostalgia, while preserving the sharp tang of regret, nonetheless.

Memory is photographic. Freeze frames, like a boxful of unsorted snapshots in a cardboard shoe box. You mean to set them out in an album, of course. In chronological order with dates, places, names, circumstances. “Lydia’s Wedding, Portland, May 16 1952”, for instance. But you never do.

The snapshot in my mind’s eye at the moment: the tip of my shoes on a footrest, aimed straight at a wall poster of a cartoon figure called Corto Maltese. Background: I’m writing in a notebook, and floating on a cloud of endorphin. Somebody loves me! Loves me for the one I really really really am!


Other snapshots from the same period: a woman on her bicycle, with a basket full of lilac on the rear luggage carrier. Rabbits in mid-scamper. Pear trees in full bloom – no, don’t cry. Preserve the sharp tang, you said, don’t turn maudlin.

Here now. Then there. Balancing, balancing. Eyes on the vanishing point, ahead.

“Living truthfully in imaginary circumstances.” – Sanford Meisner.