Oblivion & Candy Corn
Saturday, June 19, 2021
|15 May 2021|
around 1948, when I was 6, that I suddenly discovered I was an individual.
taught at an American high school in Belgrano R in Buenos Aires. She had
friends and someone gave her a bag of candy corn. She would hand me some five
or six of these delicious candies not available in Argentina.
I wanted more.
one day that she placed the bag in her armoire. When she was not around
I decided to help myself. I went into the armoire and fished the bag out. But,
there was a mirror, on the full length on the inside of the door. I felt a guilty at what I was doing and I
glanced into the mirror. I was suddenly hit by the knowledge that the image on
the mirror was me and that I was me. And that I was not anybody else. I have never forgotten. Perhaps because when my mother found out of what I had done she gave me a whipping with a chinela (a Filipino/Chinese slipper).
three years have transpired since that incident. I took this selfie in the
guest bathroom in May when the idea of this blog began to germinate.
It is astounding
to know that so many things, people, events, experiences have happened in all
those years and that I am able to go back to the candy corn incident with some
degree of wonder.
am trapped with an idea that came to me in the middle of the night some weeks
ago about Rosemary. The idea I hear in my head is, “Because she was she is.”
And then in Spanish (to be is ser, as
in existence, and estar, as being in
a physical space), “Soy porque estoy, ella no es porque no está.” This translates
to, “I am because I am here, she isn’t because she is not here.” That duality of the verb to be in Spanish makes it all feel more complex. It must be, this idea of being and nothingness.
It is intersting to note that Piazzolla wrote a lovely work called Oblivion. This word, it is in English, has no direct or exact translation into Spanish and Piazzolla knew this. The closest is "not to remember or to forget". Every night I try to think of the concept of oblivion (not being). I get nowhere.
Oblivion - Astor Piazzolla
above is about self-consciousness and it is hard to grapple (every day now)
that I am aware of her presence because she is not here.
I turn on
my computer and the image on my monitor is a photograph of both of us. The
photograph is real. She is alive (and was) when I took it. It takes me to my
knowledge of early photography and how photographers would be close to a dying
person in an attempt of capturing that fleeting moment when the soul left the
body. It never happened for them. Now with the proliferation of photography the
power of the image, of the portrait is almost gone.
But it is
not gone for me. I am, I am me, when I look at myself in the mirror. My
Rosemary is, because I can see her in the mirror of my mind.
Orange Rhymes With Rosemary
Friday, June 18, 2021
|Rosa 'Westerland' 18 June 2021|
Many of the plants in my garden be they roses, perennials,
trees, ferns, hostas, etc have human faces on them. Perhaps they were given to
us by a friend or I knew the hybridizer. Some like the Gallica Rose, Rosa ‘James
Mason’, conjure the face and voice of the actor.
The plants that were my Rosemary’s favourites, which she
originally bought and planted, of course remind me of her. But there is one
that is very special. This is my (am having a hard time alternating my with our
now that Rosemary is no longer present physically in the garden) orange rose,
When we arrived at our Kerrisdale home and garden in 1986
there was a little circular rose bed in the middle of the back garden. We
subsequently enlarged it. In it there was an orange/red Hybrid Tea Rose called
Alexander which was introduced by Harkness in 1972. Rosemary did not like it.
She told me that she did not appreciate showy colours and had a preference for
white or blue. General Alexander was demoted and then banished.
Nothing changed until the beginning of this century around
2005 when I brought Westerland. I told rosemary that it had a strong scent that
reminded me of synthetic apricot jam. She sort of accepted my purchase but told
me to plant in the laneway garden.
From that point on other red, orange or yellow flowered
roses came into the garden. But Westerland was a rose that made Rosemary smile.
This rose is for me the face of Rosemary. It is a
healthy and aggressively tall grower. Today I decided to scan a big display as
an excuse on reminiscing about the time I shared with Rosemary in our garden.
Which will always be our garden.
In the Heat of the Night With my Mistress
Thursday, June 17, 2021
|Rosemary - 1968|
After meeting my Rosemary in Mexico City in 1967 we would drive to visit my
mother who lived in the Mexican port of Veracruz. That trip from the 7300 ft
altitude of Mexico City always brought us two surprises as we approached sea
level. One was the lovely smell of the damp heat by the time we hit Córdoba,
Veracruz and the other was the
noticeable increase in noise propagated by the heavier atmosphere.
My mother had no air conditioning so Rosemary lived in the shower. After walking hand in hand on the malecón (Spanish for a boulevard by the sea) we would lie
on the bed with no clothes. This was and is an added luxury that the tropics bring to
life and to sex.
From my Filipino mother I learned the trick to keep cool in
a hot night. This was to wrap your legs on a pillow. This prevented your legs
from making contact and there would be no sweating. She said that this pillow
was called the mistress.
Today and tonight, June 17, it has been a hot day. My
onboard Chevrolet Cruze thermometer informed me that it was 28 Celsius most of the day. Now in
bed I knew I had to get up to write this. Why?
I was on the bed, no clothes, with my mistress between my
legs. The cats were on the empty space once occupied by Rosemary. The smell of
the roses was wafting through the open window. I was instantly transported into
those early days of 1967 and 1968 with Rosemary in Veracruz.
So I got myself up from my delicious and luxurious slumber (but a lonely one)
and here I am at my computer writing on how one of the sexiest events of my
lifetime was being on the bed with Rosemary on a hot night. Vancouver is not
But it will do.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
|Rosa 'Tess of the D'Urbevilles|
A Red, Red Rose
By Robert Burns
O my Luve is like a red, red rose
sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
played in tune.
So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks
melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands
o’ life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were
ten thousand mile.
My Rosemary was ambivalent of any colour that was not
white or blue in our garden. But as we became enamoured with roses, the colour
red began to grow on her. Because we tended to like old roses and English Roses
red became one of her favourites while she disdained my liking of pink roses.
The redness of a red rose is never a stable given. The
red can be all shades of red including those to me indeterminate carmines and
vermillion. Red Gallica roses have a lovely way of aging from their original
red to purples and even metallic grays.
The scan here is of the English Rose ‘Tess of the d’Urbevilles’. Even if you have read Hardy’s novel (I have)
the images your mind might conjure are of Nastassja Kinski in Roman Polanski’s
1979 film by that name.
While I might enjoy the sight of a penstemon it is only
the rose (and some of my hostas) that transport me sort of like Emily Dickinson
said, “To travel far, there is no better
ship than a book.”
This red rose is one that my Rosemary never saw. But like
cats, red roses have redness that follows and is integral to their rosiness.
She would have understood.
Breaking My Blog Writing Block
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
|Digitalis purpurea 'Camelot White' 15 June 2021|
Since the death of my Rosemary on December 8 2020 life in my
Kitsilano home has been one of trying to cope with the loss of someone who was
with me (or I was with for 52 years. When my mother died in 1972, in my presence
and that of Rosemary, she had been part of my life for 30 years. What that
means is that at least ¾ of my existence I shared with Rosemary.
There is nothing anybody can say or any counsellor that can
help in finding a solution to deal with that loss.
Luckily I have two attentive daughters and two cats, Niño
and Niña who attach themselves to me like glue. They are so good at it that I
use them to blame (or use them as an excuse) for the fact that in this 2021 I have
rarely blogged my daily bitácora. It is not that I have no blog ideas. I just
keep postponing it from one day to the next.
For a long while in the weeks preceding the 5 and 6 June
open garden to members of the Vancouver Rose Society (hosted by my daughter
Hilary and co-hosted by a most friendly Niño) I kept myself busy making the
garden as perfect as I could.
But that was melancholic task. I would stop and notice this
or that plant that Rosemary had put in or seeded. It felt so intimate, almost as
if I had been rummaging through her unmentionables drawer (not that I ever
My most salient delaying tactic excuse has been that May and
June are the traditional plant scanning months. I have scanned and scanned and
even gone beyond the original purpose which was to make the scans accurate
images of most (if not all) of the plants that lived, died or survived our
gardening since 1986.
I have even done scans which, in all honesty, are “artsy fartsy”. In some cases I have combined plants that were
part of Rosemary’s odd snobbery of liking certain wonderful plants and others
that may have been considered weeds, except Rosemary pointed out that they had
lovely blue flowers like Centaurea cygnus.
So I will remove that lethargic rose thorn that affects my
blog block (I hope) with this blog on the common foxglove, Digitalis purpurea ‘Camelot White’.
In our former Kerrisdale garden, this lowly (but tall) plant
was relegated to our laneway garden. Any plant that emerged (the plant seeds
itself so you never know what will emerge from one year to the next) in any
colour that was not white Rosemary would remove.
There are three of these in our Kitsilano laneway/garage garden growing under very rare
Old Garden Roses.
I did not feel too bad in cutting off this digitalis knowing
that the folks of the Vancouver Rose Society will not be returning this year
and that this plant may unbottle me into writing more about coping the loss of
the love of my life.