Who was the Housewife in my 52 Year Marriage? Not Rosemary, Me
Saturday, October 16, 2021
In that long gone 20th century, the concept of the housewife who stayed at home to cook, clean and take care of the children while the husband went to work, was one I never was exposed to. It was the century when if you were a boy you wanted to be an engineer (not of the locomotive kind), architect, doctor or lawyer. And if you happened to have daughters, they were not to have careers. They were supposed to look for an architect, doctor or lawyer.
My father was a journalist, but because he was an alcoholic, he threw a bottle of ink at the publisher of the Buenos Aires Herald who offered to make him editor. By the early 50s he was no longer at home with us. My mother was a busy teacher teaching physics, chemistry and mathematics at the Buenos Aires American School.
Because we had a live-in housekeeper, Mercedes my mother never cooked or cleaned.
When we moved to Mexico City it was all the same. We could afford live-in help. I liked to clean, polish furniture and silver. My grandmother, Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena told me I had inherited this from my grandfather Don Tirso.
It was not until I married Rosemary in 1968 that for two years we shared the cooking and cleaning activities. As soon as we moved to a little brick house in Arboledas, in the outskirts of Mexico City, did we have that live-in help.
Once in Vancouver we had our Clemencia follow us and she did the cooking and cleaning in our house in Burnaby. Once we moved to Kerrisdale all help ended.
My Rosemary went to her office job in her Audi and I stayed at home to look for free-lance work, clean and cook.
Looking back at all that I have come to realize that I was the genuine model of the stay-at-home wife and Rosemary was the man-of-the-house who returned tired from the office.
But there is more damning evidence of that.
Today I carried out the garbage, the blue box and they yellow bag full of my read NY Times and Vancouve Sun. Sometimes, in the past, Rosemary would forget and she would go out in her nightgown on the morning of the collection. Until I adjusted to taking out the garbage back in January I, too sometimes went out in my nightgown.
Besides knowing how to invest our money, pay the house taxes, pay the taxes for us and for our daughters, pay the hydro and Telus bills, Rosemary took care of our health payments and made appointments for me to see the doctors.
Once Rosemary had retired from her job she handled all the responsibilities usually left to the man of the house.
Now almost a year since she died on December 9, I am too stupid to figure out finances or were to look in our files in order to pay the house insurance.
Luckily I have my two daughters who are helping lots.
But what is patently obvious is that for most of our 52 years together Rosemary was the man of the house. What was I? Whatever it was that I was, I am now paying the dire consequences.
A Slash of Blue
Friday, October 15, 2021
|Aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii' & Salvia patens 15 Ocotber 2021|
Today 15 October is a day of heavy and steady rain. Niño
and Niña did not want to go out to the deck (and Niño to the street) after
breakfast. My eldest daughter who lives in Lillooet will arrive at mid-afternoon.
That should put some bright colour to my day. Out on the deck the only flowers
I was able to see where the ones here. Rosemary knew how to have colour
throughout the garden season.
A good example of her talent is her favourite blue fall aconitum which
brings its blue (not quite there as it needs a few more days to fully colour)
when nothing else seems to be around. The plants are 6 ft. tall and at the back
of a border they command attention. Paired with the aconitum, is that last of
Rosemary’s Salvia patens. I will make
sure that I have both plants next year. Aconitum is almost impossible to get
rid of but I will have to watch the potted salvia.
A Slash of Blue – Emily Dickinson
A slash of Blue --
A sweep of Gray --
Some scarlet patches on the way,
Compose an Evening Sky --
A little purple -- slipped between --
Some Ruby Trousers hurried on --
A Wave of Gold --
A Bank of Day --
This just makes out the Morning Sky.
More Emily Dickinson
More Emily Dickinson
A sweep of gray
It's full as opera
I cannot dance upon my Toes
a door just opened on the street
Amber slips away
Trains to Nowhere
Thursday, October 14, 2021
|Alexandra Elizabeth Waterhouse-Hayward & The Royal Hudson 1979|
Since I was a child in Argentina railroads have been part of my life. The
British built an excellent system that goes into the interior provinces from
Buenos Aires. Most of the city neighbourhoods are linked to the downtown core
of Buenos Aires through electric and most recently (unfortunately) diesel engine
locomotives. The cavernous terminals all connect to the efficient and clean subway
If you want to travel into the interior you can fly, take
buses (with “flight” attendants) or the trains.
To me the scandal in British Columbia is that unless you own
a car you cannot travel into the interior. My eldest daughter has lived in
Lillooet for 17 years. It is connected to Vancouver by incredibly curvy roads.
Those who live in Lillooet, if they want to go anywhere else, they better own a
|Hilary and Alexandra - Royal Hudson 1979|
Lillooet has a lovely train station. No trains stops there.
As an Argentine, now a Canadian citizen, I see this
communication debacle as one of a province and city with no vision for its
future. The Golden Gate Bridge was inaugurated in 1933 with 6 lanes. Now
depending on the traffic it is four lanes in one direction and two in the
The Lion’s Gate Bridge was built in 1937 with two slightly wide
lanes. When traffic increased as it had to those two lanes were converted into three. Now we must suffer the consequences of one lane in one and two in the
We could point out the same situation in the Richmond tunnel.
And it has taken forever for any decisions to be made on how to relieve the tunnel's congestion.
Our skytrains meet at very few crossings unlike the NY City
subway, London Underground and Buenos Aires Subte.
Perhaps it all began when Premier Gordon Campbell sold BC
Rail to CN. Shortly after trains going north to Whistler and Lillooet were literally
stopped on their tracks. The pleasant Budd (diesel) trains that went to
Whistler and beyond were no more.
I worked for many years for Canadian Pacific Limited. I
photographed trains, trucks, airplanes, real estate, etc. I was the last person
to photograph the Royal Hudson locomotive when it was being serviced at the old
Drake Street Roundhouse. The Royal Hudson was a magnet for tourism on its
almost daily trips to Squamish. The powers making
the decisions with a poor take on the future decided that to repair the boiler
of the Royal Hudson was too expensive, on the side, in Squamish was its sister
engine. It was being restored so the lofty head of CP Rail could use it to take
his friends for a ride.
I cannot understand how government, after government, be it
Liberal or NDP has ignored how the interior is left to fend for itself in
A Roman Catholic bishop born in Spain, Vasco de Quiroga (1470/78
- 14 March 1565) presided in the area that is now the State of Michocán.
Quiroga, who read Latin, read Tomas More's Utopia shortly after it was published in 1516. When Quiroga arrived in Michoacán, he employed a strategy of congregating
indigenous populations into congregated Hospital-towns called Republicas de
Indios, organized after principles derived from Thomas More's Utopia. Then in
each of these Repúblicas he taught the population different trades. To this day
if you want to purchase lovely copper pots, etc you go to Santa Clara del
Cobre. Paracho, Michoacán is famous for its guitars.
Nobody then would have identified this good bishop as a
communist. But after studying his record one must come to the conclusion that he
preceded socialism quite a few centuries before Marx had that brainwave at the
When I visit my daughter in Lillooet I drive carefully. I
have determined that the curves to Squamish, the curves from Whistler to
Pemberton and that one continuous curve to Lillooet can be navigated more
safely, particularly in the rain with snow tires. I now do not drive with
summer or all seasons.
When you arrive at Lillooet you are met up by a sign that
says Lillooet – Guaranteed Rugged.
I would bet that if Mr. Quiroga were around he would suggest
that the town develop a boot industry. I would buy a “guaranted rugged” Lillooet pair of boots or perhaps some Indigenous-designed flannel shirts.
Just about every town in Mexico’s interior is known for some
comestible or handicraft. If you go to Mérida you will find light cotton
clothing. Guadalajara is famous for its Talavera pottery as good as any you
could find in Spain. My dear Veracruz, where I lived for some years, is famous
for its sea-food, cigars and I believe the best coffee in the world that is served at
the Café de la Parroquia.
Why it is that we have no industry in our interior towns
that is beyond just tourism for Vancouver city folk?
Going back to the train to Whistler, it is obvious why the
train was single tracked. There was little room for another. But there are areas where you could have double
tracks and trains could linger (as trains are known to do) in wait for a clear
right of way.
When my Rosemary and I spent a week in Venice we took the vaporettos everywhere. I cannot understand why nobody has put forward a
vaporetto type of craft that might begin in Deep Cove with lines going to North Vancouver and
West Vancouver and another on the other side of Burrard inlet servicing Port
Moody, Burnaby, East Vancouver all the way to downtown Vancouver. These
vaporettos might then go all the way to UBC. Is this idea so far-fetched?
Do we have any women or men (people if the previous offends)
with vision in a city with such a poor memory for its past?
Beauty cannot ever be pinned to one moment in time.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
|Hydrangea macrophylla 'Ayesha' 12 October 2021|
I wrote about my personal red carpet in relation to Hegel
here. Hydrangeas, which are not necessarily considered important plants,
nonetheless were so in Rosemary and my garden in Kerrisdale. We had 37
different cultivars and species of this extremely noble and easy to take
care plant. Because of the small size of our present Kitsilano garden I chose
three. One of them is the mophead (even that sobriquet is offensive to me!) Hydrangea
macrophylla ‘Ayesha’. I have blogged extensively on this plant that is most
unusual if one gets close to it.
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Ayesha'& Rosa 'William Shakespeare'
The Return of She
My red carpet to my past goes all the way to my boyhood
garden in Buenos Aires where we had many hydrangeas. There is a slight smell of
a hydrangea that instantly transports me to summers in Buenos Aires.
As a child I was not able to discern the beauty of the
hydrangea flowers as they transitioned into fall. Their bright colours became
Since I have scanned my plants, beginning in 2001, I have
learned to get close with my eyes (I have extremely good eyesight for my age)
and appreciate the beauty of flowers that let go.
As a member of the rose society, when I go to their rose
shows in the middle of the summer, members cut perfect roses in their prime and
display them in beautiful vases.
When Hilary and I head to the June 8 American Hosta Society
Convention next year in Minneapolis the most important display exhibit is the
Cut Leaf Show where perfect hosta leaves are shown to admiring audiences.
To me those exhibits miss the point of the long transitional
beauty of flowers as they move toward fall. We love the colour of fall. Why is
it that we cannot admire the beauty of a spent rose or hydrangea? And hosta flowers, even before they open are lovely to behold.
In praise of hosta flowers
As fall proceeds in my garden that was once also Rosemary’s,
I reflect on those moments in my past
when I was playing toy soldiers in the Buenos Aires garden oblivious to the
beauty that surrounded me.
As fall proceeds in my garden that was once also Rosemary’s,
I remember her fondly for all she taught me so that I can now write about this
"vile and ordinary" mophead and its beauty.
That Rosemary when I first saw her in 1967 and that
Rosemary of 2020 are but a confirmation that beauty cannot ever be pinned to one
moment in time.
The King's New Clothes - No Computer
Monday, October 11, 2021
|Artemesia stelleriana 'Boughton Silver', top - R. 'Princess Alexandra of Kent' & R. 'Susan Williams- Ellis' & R. 'Bathsheba' 11 October 2021|
Today 11 October 2021 I am in an existential bind. Tomorrow
I must take this computer and its accompanying CRT monitor to my man Bensen at
Powersonic Computers in Richmond. He is going to migrate the contents of this
computer into a new one that will be upgraded to Windows 10 and will have super
video card (for my scanning) and lots of memory.
This means that for two days I will not have this old guy
and by new one will be ready perhaps by the end of the week. With no computer I
cannot scan. As the fall garden shifts into the coming winter there are still
roses that are blooming. As the garden declines I particularly notice Rosemary’s
plants like her fall aconitum which will bloom in the next few days. I am
waiting for Hosta ‘Tardiflora’ to
finally have the buds on the scape (hosta-speak for stalk). I am hoping the plant
waits for my computer to be operative so that I can scan them.
This is important as in June 8 of next year I will be going
to the American Hosta Society Convention in Mineapolis. I will be doing a
presentation called The Beauty of Hosta Flowers
& Companions. I do have scans of the flowers of Tardiflora but it
would be nice to have the latest ones which are about now!
My forthcoming trip to Buenos Aires (December or January),
the hosta convention and my planned drive, alone in March to my Rosemary’s
birthplace of Brockvile and where she was raised in New Dublin, Ontario keep me alert and away from perhaps becoming
an alcoholic (not a chance!) to drown my grief for the loss of my Rosemary
which is not getting any better (can grief become better?).
I am lucky (I hate using that all-so-popular “blessed) to
have my two cats Niño and Niña and two daughters that keep tabs on my life. Yes
those cats do also keep tabs on my life. My youngest daughter visits me twice a
week and I cook her a full dinner. We chat and then I drive her back to
Burnaby. On my way back, anticipating the attention and company of my cats, I
listen to the damndest best program on CBC Radio called Ideas. The one today I
had heard before and it is hilarious. It’s about the relationship of chickens
Hilary visits on Mondays and Thursdays. Today’s menu was my
Rosemary’s recipe (from The Joy of Cooking) for Yorkshire Pudding. For gravy I
used my special recipe that involves lots of red wine and this time I cut up slices
of my son-in-law’s baron of beef from Saturday’s Thanksgiving dinner. The salad
was my mother’s favourite. It consists of chopped tomatoes and onion with
sliced hard-boiled eggs. For drink I squeezed oranges and lemons. Dessert was
strawberries with whipped cream.
The scanning of the flowers for this blog came at the realization that if
I did not do the scan today there would probably not be any decent roses by
Thursday or Friday.