Out of Place & Time
Saturday, November 27, 2021
|November 28 2021|
Because of my childhood tradition of riding trains in Buenos
Aires I have always had an attraction to all their charms. But the train
sometimes intrudes darkly in my dreams.
From my Coghlan train station I would hop on the English
electric train and go with my mother to Belgrano R. The American high school
where she taught physics and chemistry was there and nearby was my grammar
school. On other occasions I would go with my parents or just with my father to
the cavernous end-of-the-line Retiro train station that was downtown. From
there, without leaving the station we would descend in escalators and take the
Buenos Aires Subte to the Lavalle station to go to the movies. There were two
blocks on that street with side to side movie theatres.
Un inglesito en Coghlan
But now at my age of 79 those rosy memories are part of my
rosy past and the reality is that my friends are either disappearing or dying.
So I have equated that to a railroad theme. I get on the
Coghlan station, and as the train stops on the subsequent stations on its way to
Retiro, people get off. By the time it arrives at Retiro I am the only
Not all of my disconnection is by death or losing track of
people. Some of it may be a result of a combination of the technology of the
21st century and the Covid pandemic.
When we all had black dial telephones in our homes I would
answer the phone. It was an imperative. There was no display as to who the caller might be. Now I have two phones, a black Panasonic (3 of them, one in
my office, one in the kitchen and the third in my bedroom) and a Galaxy 5. Few
will call me during the day (or night) but all I have to do is answer one of
those phones (if I get a call) and the other will also ring. And then you are
in that communication conundrum.
There are a few people that I call in Vancouver which I will
probably stop calling. I get the impression that I am taking them away or
interrupting their TV viewing. I believe that is what they may do all day. Another friend, when I call by Whatsapp is always
about to eat, about to go to the super market, etc. A local editor I worked with
many years, when I call, has said to me several times, “ Alex why is it that every time you call I am about to go to a zoom
I guess I am getting the message and I will refrain from
calling any of them as my train is about to arrive at Retiro.
It would be easy to feel sorry for myself and consider what
I tell many people that I am obsolete, redundant, retired and inconsequential.
Or perhaps I have bad phone odour or I talk too much. My youngest daughter has advised me to consider that I do
have some friends that do call or answer when I call them.
In this 21st century with no Kodak, Packards, Studebakers,
Oldsmobiles, brand new film cameras and black dial phones I feel out of place,
but not only of place but also time.
Stability of routine is important when one lives alone in
such circumstances. One very important one is that on Saturdays (today is
Saturday) at 9:30 in the evening I open the door and there I find that pink
plastic-wrapped Sunday New York Times.
Rosemary and I started getting it daily delivered at least 20 years ago. We had
it with us by our breakfast-in-bed tray most of the days of the week (unless we
were traveling). Now I read it alone. With the Sunday on Saturday edition I
start with the Literary Review and
the Sunday Review (full of opinion
And, yes, it is a comforting routine for me in this alien world I live in.
My Rosemary's Shapely Legs & One Cliché
Friday, November 26, 2021
|Rosemary & Alexandra in Valle de Bravo - Mexico Circa 1969|
Vancouver I feel I cannot drive anywhere near that has the ability to make me
discover a new world. With Rosemary we would drive to Seattle or to Bellingham.
It was pleasant because we did this together. We liked going to Seattle to look
for some Pendleton (made in good old USA) article or indulge in American food.
the opportunity for discovery was everywhere. There were lakes and old
churches, lovely cemeteries and short trips like the lake-side district of
Valle de Bravo in the State of Mexico. It was a place that seemed to be cool
but not rainy. We would meet up with our friend Andrew Taylor (our eldest
daughter’s godfather) and we would walk the street and take street shots. I simply cannot see myself taking street
shots outside the Bay on West Georgia. Modernity is not attractive to me. I
want the comfort of the (paradoxical?) alien of which I am accustomed to.
I am sorting through old negatives and today a found a sheet of Valle de Bravo
pictures. There is one of Rosemary with our baby Alexandra that I have never
printed or noticed. Now I can notice those wonderful and shapely legs.
including three photographs. One is a cliché of an old Mexican woman (it could
have been man but it is still a cliché). The other two I really like. In one
the little boy is holding a coin to pay for his “agua de sandía” (watermelon).
The second photograph I had up in a couple of shows, one in Mexico and one many
years ago in 1977 in Vancouver. I remember giving it the name “sombreros”. It
is only quite recently that I discovered that the sign on the wall behind the
men “El Ben Tono” was a cigar and cigarette brand.
would be prepared to return to Mexico and to Valle de Bravo to snap some
photos. But I will not shoot (even and especially with my phone) sunsets,
cityscapes or anything else that is not a portrait here in Vancouver.
'Twere "Thanksgiving day" - Emily Dickinson
Thursday, November 25, 2021
|Top- Rosa 'Abraham Darby - Left R. 'Shropshire Lad' & R. 'Ebb Tide' 25 November 2021 |
‘Age cannot wither
her, nor custom stale her infinite variety’
Act 2, Scene 2 of Antony and Cleopatra.
Today November 25 these were the last roses of the season
in my Kitsilano garden. I waited to see if any of these three buds would open.
Only the dark wined coloured Rosa ‘Ebb Tide’ managed to open almost.
It is sad to see the last of the flowers and roses to
open in the garden and what remains for me to do is to rake all the fallen
leaves from the deck and remove as many of the black-spot rose leaves that have
fallen in the pots.
With December just about here, and Christmas, which
celebrates the birth of the God Child there is always hope in the air of a
better year before us. And esperanza (a much nicer sounding word in Spanish for
hope) of these three roses and many of my other 40 that they will bloom for me
My Rosemary prepared, with my dubious help, the 2020 garden for 2021 and now, I
must learn to do it all by myself for next year.
Today is US Thanksgiving which is going through an inevitable reconsideration. For me it is easier to simply give my thanks with
the lovely and short Latin Deo Gratias which has been translated to Thanks be
to God. And then there is this complex (to
me) poem about Thanksgiving by Emily Dickinson:
One day is there of the series
Termed "Thanksgiving Day"
Celebrated part at table
Part in memory -
Neither Ancestor nor Urchin
I review the Play -
Seems it to my Hooded thinking
Had There been no sharp subtraction
From the early Sum -
Not an acre or a Caption
Where was once a Room
Not a mention whose small Pebble
Wrinkled any Sea,
Unto such, were such Assembly,
'Twere "Thanksgiving day" -