Who Will Be First? She Was
Saturday, December 11, 2021
|Rosemary's hands at death - 9 December 2020|
|Mexico City 1968|
Before I go into more heavy stuff I will begin with some
Tom Hawthorn is a fine Victoria, B.C. journalist with a
major in writing for most of Canada’s newspapers. But he has a minor. He is
known for his obituaries. I would like to write here that if I ever dream of
Mr. Hawthorn I will know that I am dead.
I have written obituaries about a few of my friends:
Raúl Guerrero Montemayor
Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S. C,
Juan Manuel Sánchez
And I have written obituaries when our moribund press (will
Hawthorn ever write one? ) ignored these two:
Kay Alsop - Vancouver Province
Rick Ouston - Vancover Sun
But it was last year on December 10 that I wrote a short
obituary on my Rosemary who died the night before. It has been a tough year
since that day. But it would seem that Rosemary keeps sending me posthumous
My Rosemary is no more
Beyond the grave
A persistent Rosemary
Who will be first?
Without her on our 52nd
There is one gift that I have to admit was unforeseen. I may be
a middling blog writer. But I believe that with this past year’s grief, Rosemary
has pushed me in the direction of making me a better writer.
When the Vancouver Sun had good active writers, a recent one, Marke Andrews wrote this: Beautifully written, Alex.
It was about this blog: Cats & the Meaning of Death
Christmas is Coming to a World Class City Courtesy of Paul Hyde
Friday, December 10, 2021
|Paul Hyde & son circa mid 80s|
Christmas is Coming - Payola$ & Paul Hyde
When I started my blog in January 2006 I had no idea what a
blog was about. In these years and 5411of them (not including this one) I have
settled and come to understand, that with the demise of journalism and my
previous years as a magazine photographer and writer, my blog is my personal
magazine where I am the publisher, editor (not a very good one) writer (a
passing one) and a decent photographer.
My emphasis, a pleasant one has been to combine photographs
from files with poems, and stories of writers that I admire both in English and
in Spanish. Perhaps my most frequent ones have involved Emily Dickinson, Jorge
Luís Borges, Julio Cortázar, Homero Aridjis and William Carlos Williams.
Another strong blog content has been writing about my
personal life, previous family and present one (some here are not too happy
with some of the details placed herein).
A third, and I believe an important one, involves my belief
that Vancouver has a poor memory for its past. Many of my blogs involve the
many events of our city that I remember because I have a good memory or I was
One such subject is this day’s blog on my gentle friend Paul
Hyde. I have written about him here.
Because we have lost sight, or have forgotten, of the
popular Expo 86 ad about Vancouver being a “world class city” we have no memory
for the fabulous events in culture of that past and ignore the wonderful ones
we have right now.
As a former Argie, when I go to Buenos Aires (I do this with
frequency) I see how the world-famous-world-class-city opera house, the Teatro
Colón has tired programs of 19th century music and ballet. They have
no Turning Point Ensemble, no Ballet BC, and no Arts Umbrella Dance Company.
Theater in Buenos Aires does not have cutting edge stuff like the Electric
Our CBC with CBC Reclaimed, CBC Music with Tom Allen and CBC
Ideas with Nahla Ayed and with other programs go beyond world class in my
And how many living in Vancouver now know that the Vancouver
punk scene of the late 70s and early 80s was one of the best in the world?
How many know of my gentle friend Paul Hyde whose band The
Payola$ (that $ is not a typo) was a blend of punk that somehow felt just a tad
And how many may not know that there is at least one
Vancouver Christmas song that is rarely played?
It is this one “Christmas is Coming”.
A Yellow Rose as Adam Saw in Paradise
Thursday, December 09, 2021
|Rosa 'Emily Louise' 9 December 2021|
Today is an anniversary that I cannot celebrate. My Rosemary
died a year ago today.
Rosemary had this innate ability to always surprise me. In
our-52-year marriage I could never predict any of her actions (all intelligent I
would always find out). But she did change a tad in those years.
She surprised me today.
When we first started gardening in our large corner garden
in Kerrisdale in 1986 she exiled any flower that was yellow, orange or red. Our
new roses (and the new old roses) had to be white. She loved blue so we had
aconitum, hydrangeas and gentians. But she did begin to accept my preference
for pink roses and old red roses that aged into marvellous metallic purples.
When I brought Rosa
‘Westerland’ home, Rosemary slowly warmed to its orange and its synthetic apricot
It was at the garden of former Vancouver Rose Society
President Janet Wood (now gone) that we say Rosa
‘Mrs. Oakley Fisher’ and a patio rose (so did Wood describe the tiny little
rose with that unromantic epithet) Rosa
‘Emily Louise’. Both were yellow and both eventually found a home in our
Mellow Yellow & Electrical Bananas
Rosa 'Emily Louise'
When we gazed on Emily Louise we invariably connected her to
Janet Wood. It was a rose that reminded us fondly of a friend who was now dead.
|Rosa 'Emily Louise'& Clematis 'Bijou' 25 May 2021|
So today, 9 December 2021, what am I to make of the only
rose in bloom being Emily Louise? I see it and I smile as it is one more of
those posthumous gifts that keep coming. It is as if Rosemary is telling me, “I
am not here but I am.”
But my smile fades as now this happy little rose reminds me
of two persons who are gone.
Below a lovely short story The Yellow Rose by Jorge Luís Borges
“The Yellow Rose”
Jorge Luis Borges
Translated by Andrew Hurley
It was neither that afternoon nor the next that
Giambattista Marino died— that illustrious man proclaimed by the unanimous
mouths of Fame (to use an image that was dear to him) as the new Homer or the
new Dante—and yet the motionless and silent act that took place that afternoon
was, in fact, the last thing that happened in his life. His brow laureled with
years and glory, the man died in a vast Spanish bed with carven pillars. It
costs us nothing to picture a serene balcony a few steps away, looking out toward
the west, and, below, marbles and laurels and a garden whose terraced steps are
mirrored in a rectangular pool. In a goblet, a woman has set a yellow rose; the
man murmurs the inevitable lines of poetry that even he, to tell the truth, is
a bit tired of by now:
de’giardin, pompa de’prato,
primavera, occhio d’aprile…
Then the revelation occurred. Marino saw the rose, as
Adam had seen it in Paradise, and he realized that it lay within its own
eternity, not within his words, and that we might speak about the rose, allude
to it, but never truly express it, and that the tall, haughty volumes that made
a golden dimness in the corner of his room were not (as his vanity had dreamed
them) a mirror of the world, but just another thing added to the world’s
Marino achieved that epiphany on the eve of his death,
and Homer and Dante may have achieved it as well.
A Glee possesseth me - Emily Dickinson
Wednesday, December 08, 2021
In this gray and dark January 24 I find myself writing
blogs for the holes I have in the past year particularly in December when I
went to Buenos Aires. One of my loves is to choose photographs of mine that
might fit the poem of my many favourite poets. Hands down these have been Emily
Dickinson, Jorge Luís Borges and Julio Cortázar. It is Dickinson that has the
most poems in my blogs. Many like this one I have repeated but with different
photographs. At the end of this blog there is a list of all my previous
collaborations with Emily Dickinson. If I were a young man of 35 I would seek a
publisher who might warm up to my ongoing process.
I cannot dance upon my Toes --
No Man instructed me --
But oftentimes, among my mind,
A Glee possesseth me,
That had I Ballet knowledge --
Would put itself abroad
In Pirouette to blanch a Troupe --
Or lay a Prima, mad,
And though I had no Gown of Gauze --
No Ringlet, to my Hair,
Nor hopped to Audiences -- like Birds,
One Claw upon the Air,
Nor tossed my shape in Eider Balls,
Nor rolled on wheels of snow
Till I was out of sight, in sound,
The House encore me so --
Nor any know I know the Art
I mention -- easy -- Here --
Nor any Placard boast me --
It's full as Opera --
More Emily Dickinson
Twere Thanksgiving Day
A Slash of Blue – Emily Dickinson