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This weekend was a lovely sunny weekend here in Ottawa and I am surprised by the good weather we have been having, warm days, Indian Summer no doubt.

So Jade died, she had these awful black spots and fungus, she was drooping and many limbs had been amputated in the hope of saving her, to no avail. It is said that you cannot kill a Jade plant only if you over water it. I was very careful not to water it more than once every 5 weeks and just so as to give it just moisture but no more. It had thrived for several years. I started noticing the loosing of leaves and then the dark black spots, sure enough after trying to save it by going through a repotting in cactus soil, for easy drainage, this is what Jade Trees require. I did notice the roots being all dark brown, this is not a good sign at all, they should be white, sign of good health. It is a succulent plant, meaning that the branches of the tree and the fat leaves are full of water like a sponge, it has that dark jade stone look when in good health. I do not know what caused the fungal bacteria to appear, but it was fatal. So now the old Qing Dynasty painted vase sits empty. I found that vase in a market place in Beijing in 2005, the Qing Dynasty was the last one to rule China from 1608-1911. They were not ethnic Chinese but Manchu, considered foreigners by Han Chinese. This is why their porcelain is so very different from the Ming Dynasty they overthrew.


We also went to the Theatre at the Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC) where we have season tickets. They usually produce good plays by new authors, this is not an old or classic repertoire company. They will introduce to audiences new playwrights and will it is usually good stuff with a social message. But I often have the impression that they are preaching to the converted. Those who need to hear it are not there and not listening.

The play is called Jake’s Gift, it’s a one actor show playing 3 different characters, a child, an old Veteran returning to Normandy for the first time since the War and a French grandmother. I understand that economics may dictate that one actor show is the norm now but it leaves me dissatisfied, I would have liked to see 2 actors instead of one. You need the play between actors to bring the play closer to you. This play is good, and the plot line is very humane and close to everyone. Veterans of the Second World War are very old all in their 90’s now, it is a War that is slowly fading away. The Great War 1914-1918 has certainly faded from memory, no one is alive to actually remember the World as it was then and unfortunately Canadians are not too good with history.

I am also reading a book I picked up recently on Princess Louise (1848-1939) who was one of the daughters of Queen Victoria. The book gives a very different picture of the Royal Family and a very negative picture of Victoria. This negative picture comes from surviving and now available correspondence between mother and her children. Despite the fact that Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Victoria edited severely the correspondence after her mother’s death in 1901, she did not edit the nasty parts strangely enough. Queen Victoria certainly does not come across as a nice woman at all. Princess Louise is well remembered in Canada, she was married to John Campbell, Duke of Argyll, Marquis of Lorne and Governor General of Canada from (1878-1883). In Alberta’s Banff National Park, Lake Louise is very famous, it’s water come from a glacier and the lake has a surreal colour, I would say almost a contemporary painting shade depending on the hour of the day. She was also an artist and left at Rideau Hall in Ottawa some beautiful objects including a painted door in the private Vice-Regal apartment preserved to this day.


Her mother Queen Victoria, now that her journals have been published, comes across as a Germanophile Princess, the whole family is closely related to Principality of  Hanover, Germany, they spoke German at home and in their correspondence. The family name is Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha and will only be changed in 1918 to Windsor at the insistence of the Private Secretary of King George V who was a first cousin of Wilhelm II the German Kaiser and favorite grandson of Queen Victoria.

Victoria did not care much for England or the English, like her ancestors who came to England from Germany. She hated children despite the fact she had lots of kids of her own, all quickly given to Nannies to look after, she describes them as grotesque, ugly, fat, horrible.

A self-centred, lazy, indolent women, Victoria loved eating bonbons and going for carriage rides. After the premature death of her husband Prince Albert in 1861, she became a recluse, a professional widow and basically gave up all her functions, foisting the work on the kids including Princess Louise. Victoria was merciless with her criticism, writing very mean letters to her children constantly berating them about the most inconsequential trifle. Poorly educated and not very wordly, she entertained deep seated prejudices against anything she did not understand. Even her Prime Ministers were displeased with her behaviour but little could be done about it. At the time had Victoria not been the Sovereign, she would probably have been institutionalized by her family.


When Princess Louise decided that she would accept the marriage proposal of John Campbell, she told him to make sure that he should give the impression to her mother Queen Victoria that the happiness of the Queen was far more important than that of Louise. He played his role well and became the perfect sycophant, she agreed to the nuptials. Everything had to be about Mother, how very sad. Other siblings like Princess Victoria who was the eldest and would go on to marry the heir of the Imperial throne in Germany, Frederick III who reigned only for 2 months dying of throat cancer at 57 or Bertie who would become King Edouard VII in 1901 also suffered constantly being belittled by their Mother the Queen in private and in public.

This book depicts the struggles of Princess Louise and her determination to break free, she would as an adult entertain progressive ideas and promote women’s rights, become friends with artists and take an interest in society around her.

I also spent quite a lot of time at the National Gallery of Canada, there have been some changes again in the paintings exhibited and discovered a newly hung Van Gogh, I had never seen it before.

van gogh

and two new modern, contemporary paintings one by Jack Bush from 1967 entitled Pink with border from a show at the André Emmerich Gallery in NYC. Apparently Clement Greenberg is agent pushed him to paint with more risks and this is the result. I really like Jack Bush, his canvas are happy, colourful, bright colours.

jack bush pink border


The other is a brand new acquisition by the NGC, a rather big work by Swedish born Jan Poldaas, who studied to be an architect but has emerged as one of Canada’s most important minimalist painters. This work is entitled E.G. Series realized between 1978-1980, it is a portrait of a city, its businesses, artists, infrastructure, each panel uses a distinctive type of paint found in Toronto. It is a record of the artist’s life in the City.


Looking at it I recognized the colours and what they corresponded to in Toronto. It is exposed in a very large room of the Gallery.