Christmas Ornaments 2018 V

approachable alternate reality

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Our Nutcracker wooden figure carries a weight of memories.  Early memories are of my sister, Christina’s Sugar Plum Fairy solo for Saint Aidan Parish talent program, Mom’s appreciation of performance of Swan Lake in her pre-child past, a friend of my Mom was a former dancer who taught Christina ballet.  Hanging quietly, these memories swirl around the Nutcrackers open maw.   

Click this photograph for my Fine Art Photography gallery.
Click this photograph for my Fine Art Photography gallery

Ten years ago we observed New Years Day 2009 in the lobby of Winthrop Medical Center, Mineola, New York waiting for the outcome of Mom’s hip replacement surgery grateful the head of Orthopedics was performing the surgery.  That year saw large changes played out in the last four years of her life, she never returned to her home of 52 years.  

From then on her winters were spent with her daughter Diane in Mesa, Arizona.  Mom would call us, amused at the sight of neighbors walking by in 50 degree weather in winter parkas.  She was well known in Albertson for her habit of walking everywhere, it was fortunate she never needed to learn how to drive a car: all she needed was readily at hand.  

I needed to return to Albertson several times a year to our childhood home.  December 2009, Pam and I melded the trip with a day in New York City.  Memories of Mom’s enjoyment of Swan Lake drew me to purchase tickets for The Nutcracker.  The New York City Ballet has performed The Nutcracker every Christmas season since 1954, when I was one year old.  The 56th performance was our first. 

As with Dante’s version of hell, the David H. Koch Theater has rings.  I sprang for the highest ring, the fourth, the least costly and, optimistically, the best vantage to view the formations of grouped dancers.

A full orchestra is dedicated to each performance, the hall acoustics are fabulous, and we were able to appreciate the scenes, the grouped dancers and, even, the soloists.  The last scene of the first act, the Snowflakes (or Snow Crystals), brought tears to my eyes, the music, the scene was impossibly beautiful and brought back some experiences of mine in winter nature.

We were hooked after that, immersed in the very real (i.e., non-virtual) alternate reality at least two Sunday afternoon performances each year, seeing all Tchaikovsky’s ballets in the style of Balanchine for which the New York Ballet is famous.  For the 59th season of The Nutcracker were brought two granddaughters, took fourth third row orchestra seats.  We marveled at the experience.  It included, during intermission, a photo session with a character from the performance.

Here they are with a Snowflake.  This is a scan of one of the 8 x 10 prints we received from this session.

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Nia and Gabby with the Nutcracker Ballet character “Snowflake” during the intermission of a December 2012 performance.

 

We planned to share a performance of Swan Lake with Mom during the September 2013 season, in her 90th year.  Mom passed away in her birth month, June, 2013.  

Click this link for the first posting of this series.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Keuka Lake Fall Winter

We visited Keuka Lake on a December day for my last two posts,
“Keuka Lake Winter” and “Iron Grace”.  October 5, 2014 found Pam and I at the same overlook after my son completed the Wine Glass Marathon.  Here we are at the finish line in Corning, home of the Corning Glass Factory.  You may know it from your set of Correlle dinnerware.

Marathoner and his proud father

Afterwards, Pam and I made it up to the Dr. Frank Winery for a tasting followed by dinner at a local restaurant.  Here is a photograph from the same viewpoint, using the “zoom” setting of my Sony DSLR A700.  The view is more interesting than the winter shot of “Keuka Lake Winter I”  from the autumn clouds and the burst of late day sun on the eastern lake shore.

This is the juncture of the “Y” shaped lake where the two arms joint the long foot.  The pointed high headland is the point where the two arms meet.  We are looking north here.  The western arm, on the right, is unique in that the water is flowing down into the juncture.  In Keuka Lake the water flows in two directions.  The flow of lake foot and eastern arm is in the opposite direction, Keuka Lake empties at the top of the eastern arm, eventually reaching Lake Ontario.  

North View from Overlook using “Zoom” lens

Here is the eastern view, from the overlook, looking over a vineyard ready for harvest, covered with fruit and leaves.  Every once in awhile there is a loud “bang” from a noisemaker used to discourage birds from feasting on grapes.  The buildings along the shore are summer cottages, Keuka is lined with them.

East View on an autumn afternoon

The same view, from our December 2018 visit.  The vines are bare, the fallen leaves cleared, the vine roots covered under banked earth to protect them from the cold.

Pam and I, enjoying wine after the 2014 Wine Glass Marathon.  Cheers!!

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Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Valparaiso Connections VI

Memories of Allende and Italy

Memories of Allende and Italy

Ricardo left a blank between the French Memorial Column of the Parque Italia, seen above.  He made of mention of Salvadore Allende Plaza.  The above photograph includes a graffiti inscribed corner of the set of steps, a platform and the area in front, a plaza, dedicated to the memory of Allende and named “Plaza del Pueblo Salvador Allende Gossens” on the 100th anniversary of his birth, 2008.  The structure was not new, it was called “The People’s Plaza”, the name change was pushed through by Alberto Neumann, communist councilor.  So the suppression and torture (see “Valparaiso Connections V”) was not successful in wiping out the ideals, such as they are.  

The accomplishments of the Allende Presidency are another matter.  The Macroeconomic Populism policies he implemented left the economy in tatters.  We have only to look at the current state of Venezuela to see the entirely expected results of this economic model: hyperinflation followed by stagflation and implosion.  The reactionary military coup of 1973 was, in the essentials, a rational response and a rescue from economic and social disaster until the reaction itself descended into madness.

The following series of photographs are from a neighboring country, Peru, are an illustration of the pressures the political elites of Chile are negotiating.  Taken from the road between the port of Mollendo and the city of Arequipa, on a vast, waterless plain.

Migrants from the Titicaca Region formed a cooperative named “Asociacion Las Caymenos Agro Exportadores”.  It is the named scrawled on the small cement brick wall.

Desperate people from rural areas migrate to cities, form associations or regional clubs based on a common origin, and grab land as a group.   

In this case, it is property useless for the named purpose, “agricultural export.”  What they have is a dream. a dream of the government directing water to the area.  

Towards this end, individuals of the group mark out plots using rocks and build structures from concrete brick and metal roofing.  

This small patch of water is the basis of their desperate hope.

This is a more consolidate group of migrate squatters on the road called “1S” near the turnoff for Lima and a place named La Reparticion.

Dreams for a better life, offset by desperate circumstances bring us back to Valparaiso and the Parque Italia adjacent to Allende Plaza.  The park is a small patch of green, some wonderful trees, with statuary and monuments dedicated to people of Italian heritage.

Beyond the sleeper are statues each on a plinth.  The second from the right is a bust of Giovanni Battista Pastene, a gift from the city of Genoa dedicated October 12, 1961.  Pastene was the first governor of Valparaiso (the region, not the city) in the 16th century.  He came to Honduras in his own ship, enter the service of Pizzaro and, as master of the ship Conception, was a maritime explorer.

P

The Italian refugee collectivity of Valparaiso presented this column, in 1936, surmounted by a bronze sculpture of the Capitoline Wolf feeding the infant founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.  It is a copy of an ancient statue kept on Capitoline Hill, Rome, Italy.


The wife of Allende was of Italian heritage, Hortensia Bussi.  The 
Fire Brigade Sesta Compagnia di Pompieri Cristoforo Colombo, operates today from Independence Avenue.

Here we have a gathering of friends, sharing the shade and beverages on this Saturday summer morning.

Click this link for the next posting in this series Valparaiso Connections VII.

Click this link for the first posting in the Valparaiso Connections Series.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Valparaiso Connections V

A Deeper Understanding

Monuments Then and Now

Trundled along within our bubble, the Mercedes tour bus proceeded up Avenue Montt when Ricardo pointed out this statue for ridicule.  A depiction of the Chilean national bird, the Condor, porteños derisively call it “The Chicken,” and in truth the wing span is undersized.  From the vantage of the above photograph, the statue form does capture an impression of soaring among the hills of Valparaiso.  Keep in mind, beyond those hills is Aconcagua, the highest mountain of the western hemisphere, home to Condors.  

A reason for writing multiple Varparaiso “connection” posts is to better understand the jumbled impressions from that day.  In a previous post I coined the term Varparasians for natives of the city.    I found in researching this post the residents, as for Buenos Aires, call themselves porteños (people of the port).  This cast iron statue speaks to the contributions of French immigrants to the city and nation.

Gift of the French Colony for the Centennial of Chile – Valparaíso, 1810 – 1910.

Here the view is south towards (what I believe is) Cerro Florida (Florida Hill).  France Avenue continues, beyond the monument, following a steep and winding path up the hills, at the crest intersecting with German Avenue.  Adjacent, on the right, is Park Italia where we’ll visit in part VI.  Above a cast iron basin, at each corner of the commemorative column base is a female mask, above them a gold band inscribed (from the) “The French of Valparaiso” with 1810 – 1910 to denote the centennial.  A condor with outspread wings surmounts the column.

The artist, Nicanor Plaza, born in Santiago, Chile was living in Florence, Italy at the time of this commission.  He was a natural choice for the commission.  Trained in Chile and Paris, Plaza taught for the Academy of Fine Arts of Santiago.  It is of cast iron, produced by the French company Val Osne, an art foundry dating back to 1835.  The owner, Jean Pierre Andre Victor, invented a cast iron ornamental technique originally used to produce street furniture.  

 From 1854 to 1895 immigration from France burgeoned, from a country total of 1,654 to 8,266.  This cohort is credited with developing the vineyards of the Central Valley, still famous today.  The Chilean president Augusto Pinochet descended on his father’s side from an 18th-century French Breton immigrant from Lamballe and his mother was a descendant from 17th century immigrants, partially Basque.  Pinochet’s legacy can only be attributed to himself and the ruling Junta.  What is of concern is (1) Pinochet was protected against prosecution throughout his life. (2)  The same people who protected him still hold power.  A case in point is the Esmeralda, still in service.

The Naval Training Vessel Esmeralda

 I took this photograph at dawn from our stateroom balcony, it is the
Esmeralda, a four-masted  top sail schooner, from Spain, christened May 12, 1953.  From 1973 to 1980 it was a floating torture chamber where up to 100 persons were subjected to hideous treatment by the Pinochet regime.  Protests erupt wherever it docks in a foreign port yet it remains in service.  A relatively small part of the puzzle, yet it serves as an unacknowledged monument to the failure of Chile’s ruling elite to come to terms with the recent past.

Click this link for how important the Esmerelda is to Chilean Naval Tradition.  It is another posting my this Valparaiso Connections series.

To end on a positive note, there is the memory of the more than 10,000 Chilean citizens of French ancestry who joined the Free French Forces in the fight against the Nazi occupation of France in World War II.

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Click to visit the first post of this series. 

Valparaiso Connections IV

The O’Higgins Carrera Feud

“Valparaiso Connections III” brought us to Pedro Montt Avenue and the building of this imposing façade, Congreso Nacional de Chile (National Congress of Chile).  The very fact it is in Valparaiso is a recollection of the former National Congress, disbanded by the ruling Junta on September 13, 1973.  During the final  years the Pinochet dictatorship chose Valparaiso for the site of a new congress building .  The former National Congress building still stands in Santiago, now housing the offices of both houses of congress.

I am fascinated the façade is shared by two founding fathers of Chile, Bernardo O’Higgins and José Miguel Carrera.  O’Higgins father never married his mother (in other words, Bernardo was a bastard).  Cared for by his mother’s privileged family, he used his mother’s family name until the death of his father.  Carrera, was also born of privilege, the acknowledge son of his father who attended the best schools, well positioned to lead the movement for Chilean independence.  Benefactors looked after O’Higgins, they sent the seventeen year old to Europe to finish his education.

Click either photograph to visit my Fine Art Gallery.  Enjoy!!

 

In the chaos of war, in spite of ill-health and lack of military training, O’Higgins out performed Carrera as an officer through reckless bravery; surviving, he became an admired military leader through this example and ultimate victories. Carrera resented being overtaken (by a bastard), did not respect O’Higgins leadership and the two feuded. O’Higgins became the first head of the independent Chile while Carrera gathered a force.  Exiled in Paraguay, Carrera marched across the intervening wastes battling indigenous forces.  Eventually captured by those loyal to O’Higgins, Carrera suffered a mock trial and execution.

All five of Carrera’s legitimate offspring married and prospered, today his descendants number in the hundreds, being the majority of Chile’s ruling class.  Today, the followers of Carrera (Carreristas) fight for his recognition against the O’Higginistas, who they despise.  The balance is on display on the National Congress façade on Pedro Montt Avenue.  The building is next to Plaza O’Higgins.

Measured by acreage, O’Higgins is far ahead of Carrera.  The following photograph, from my posting “A Far Country VII: View of Tempanos Fjord” is from within Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, the largest protected land in Chile.

A large lake in Patagonia is named after General Carrera.

 

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Valparaiso Connections III

Copper Cable and History

“Valparaiso Connections II” left us with these friendly Valparasians, if such a word can be used to describe residents of the city, chatting on Argentina Avenue.

It was Saturday, the happy occasion of the weekend street fair, kiosks sprouting like mushrooms, thinly attended this early morning.

We did not pause to wander, instead turned up a street known as Pedro Montt, named for a Chilean president of the early 2oth century.  Was we turned, monumental street sculpture, rising from the kiosks, caught my eye.

A creation of the great national artist Mario Irarrzabal, it invokes solidarity through the image of four thick copper cables twisted together to form one, the union that can happen to achieve bigger things.  Opened in 1995, crafted of iron, wood and copper, after Pinochet passed power to a new democratic constitution and still held office as a Senator, protected from extradition, in the National Congress located just to the west of the monument.

The imagery works on multiple levels.  Known as “Copper Cable Monument” or “Copper Column,” the monument also stands for Chilenización del cobre (Chileanization of copper), a movement began during the presidency of General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo.  Concluded in the presidency of Salvador Allende, the takeover of foreign owned mines lead to the isolation of Chile and was a component of the support of the USA, via the CIA, for the Pinochet 1973 Chilean coup d’état.  Pinochet retained state control of the mines in the face of strong popular support for the huge contribution to state coffers.  To this day CODELCO (in English National Copper Corporation of Chile) operates as a corporate entity.

As with our guide, Ricardo (“Valparaiso Departure I”) and the companions at the start of today’s post, Irarrzabal was profoundly affected by the Pinochet dictatorship.  Under its influence as well as the sculpture of Easter Island, the artist began work on monumental sculptures.  Pam and I visited one on the other side of the South America “cone,” Punta del Este, Uruguay.

Built from Brava beach at the height of the dictatorship, 1982, of concrete, steel rebar, mesh covered with a corrosion resistant coating, the artist title it “Man Emerging to Life.”  He was a young man at the time, the work built his reputation and he repeated the theme internationally as well as, in 1992, 1,181 miles away the “Hand of the Desert.”  At that time while Chile was emerging from the Pinochet dictatorship the palm as well as fingers are visible.  The “cone” of South American, Chile and Argentina, are encompassed by the left hand of the east, a right hand of the west.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Valparaiso Connections II

the Chilean difference

Ricaro’s name tag reads, “Oceania Cruises, your world, your way.”  I began my two previous blogs with Ricardo, “Valparaiso Separation” and “Valparaiso Connections I.” There’s a lot to be said for the Oceania tours.  Every one lead by a knowledgeable native of the host country, fluent in English, we became familiar, some more than others, with them personally, one non-representative example.  As were progressed down the coast from Iquique to Cape Horn we met a cross section of Chileans.  Unlike other countries, in Chile we met only unsmiling guards on the streets, no protest rallies.


As the tour bus is about to turn down Varparaiso’s Argentina Avenue, here is a flash forward to an elaborate demonstration tableau in the Plaza de Mayo, the Casa Rosada as a backdrop, rose as in the color of bull’s blood used as pigment.  The protest was in support for veterans and causalities of the ill considered 1982 Falklands War.  We zoomed by the Parque De La Memoria, dedicated to the 30,000 people “disappeared” by the same military dictatorship of the Falklands War debacle.

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Our entry to both Valparaiso and Buenos Aires was a cruise over the secret graves of thousands dropped, alive, into the ocean from military aircraft.

What is most chilling is the silence about this throughout our travels in Chile.  No memorials, no protests, silence, only stone faced military guards.

The following is from Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima, beneath which are catacombs piled with disarticulated skeletons buried and cared for in the Catholic tradition .

In Lima’s Plaza de Armas we witnessed this peaceful demonstration by pensioners protesting low payments.  To be honest, around this time, in Chile, there were huge demonstrations, hundreds of thousands in Santiago, about the same issue.

The Lima crowd was peaceful.

Watched by a heavy contingent of armed police supported by large “paddy wagons” to cart people away.  The vehicle marked “Prodegur” (i.e., prosecution) was one of them.  Given the history of government disappearances in the region, how brave the demonstrators must be.

Our vehicle turns onto Argentina Avenue, passing under Spanish Avenue and these supports bruiting the “Patrimony of Humanity” status of Valparaiso.

Turning onto Argentina Avenue, the overpass support columns announce Valparaiso’s status as a World Heritage Site. It is the old city around the port which holds this designation.

Other murals feature the zinc panels of the Old Town and cultural opportunities.  I noticed the pictured flooring is identical that of Hotel Brighton, see “Our Fifteen Minutes of Fame on Conception Hill.”

I wonder how a man of a certain ago scrapes his knees, these appear to be homeless people.

Two men carry on conversation on Avenue Argentina, Valparaiso during the weekend Avenue Argentina street fair.

They gives us big smiles and waves when they spotted me / us.  The people were open and friendly.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills