|Rosa 'Bathsheba' & Hosta fortunei 'Albopicta' 4 October 2021|
In my present state of affairs in attempting to survive a lasting grief, I am aided by my youngest daughter Hilary who comes for afternoon visits twice a week. I feed her good and complete meals. We chat for a while or perhaps watch Rachel Maddow. I then drive her home to Burnaby.
Driving back, in these now darker evenings, I brood and notice the empty seat by me, but I know that as soon as I get home I will be met by Niño and Niña who are a most pleasant solace and source of attention and affection.
While my Rosemary was not overly and visibly affectionate I miss those late nights in bed when I would touch her shoulder and she would sigh.
The last dinner for Hilary was a complete failure (almost). Somehow I used risotto-type rice for the Mexican rice so it ended up as a sticky mess. Before I even put the chicken wings on the barbecue the gas ran out. I made them in the oven soaked in brown sugar. They were not bad.
Dessert saved the evening. I served Hilary fried bananas. I used butter, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of vanilla and I poured some god Calvados.
Eating the wonderful bananas I mentioned to Hilary Donovan’s Mellow Yellow in which the lyrics contain “electrical banana”.
When Hilary was gone I reminisced for a long time about the years in Mexico City with Rosemary between late 1967 and our moving to Vancouver in 1975.
We had many money problems, my mother died in our presence in 1972 and dealing with Mexico City traffic was onerous.
But as time seems to work on one when looking at the past, there are many rosy moments to remember. For a while, when we were living in our little brick house in Arboledas, Estado de Mexico, Rosemary and I used to have a few siestas – imagine that!
|Arboledas, Estado de México circa 1974|
And it was in Arboledas where we played Donovan, Carole King, and my Yorkshire friend Andrew Taylor introduced me to (“These guys are Canadian so you should know of them.”) Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. It was also in Arboledas that my photographs of baby Alexandra made her a little model in advertising. It was also in that little neighbourhood where in my bathroom darkroom I made very good money taking portraits of very rich Mexican families. By 1975 when we drove to Vancouver I knew I would try to become a photographer.
But it was while we were in Mexico that when Rosemary and I went to the movies we had two difficult choices. If we went a few minutes before the film began we could not sit together. Theatres were always full. If we went an hour before to suffer through 60 minutes of Mexican government propaganda “shorts” featuring multiple ribbon cutting ceremonies by the president it tired us. I was to far gone to notice that the background music was almost always the same. It did not take me to realize but quite a few years later that the music was either Aaron Copland’s El Salón México or José Pablo Moncayo’s Huapango.
I learned of the existence of Copland in Arboledas as I played a lot of Emerson Lake and Palmer. One of my fave pieces was something called Hoedown!
Salón México was a Mexico City nightclub of questionable reputation in the 30s. They had taxi dancers. These were women who danced with you for money and if you gave them a good tip they might give you bedtime dancing lessons. In 1933 03 1934 Aaron Copland sat at a table at El Salón México. It is not known if he flagged a taxi but by 1936 he had composed El Salón México which is as Mexican as any contemporary or 20th century Mexican might sound.
Here is a link (proving that in this century where we no longer have landline (few left) telephones that have dials and are black some stuff is better) to Copland’s composition. It is introduced by a young Leonard Bernstein on the very day of the composer’s birthday in Carnegie Hall with a luxury of multiple movie cameras”
El Salón México
And here is Moncayo’s Huapango:
It was in one of those dinner visits that I told Hilary about these two compositions. I cast them onto our large TV with my phone. I was able to do this thanks to Lauren (my youngest granddaughter) digital acumen. I told Hilary, “You were born in Tacubaya, Mexico. This music is part of your heritage and it is music that Abi (as the family called my Rosemary) and I were familiar with."