In the Company of Cats
Saturday, May 28, 2022
|Niño & Niña - 29 May 2022|
is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human
entities. It is considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology.
is the related attribution of human form and characteristics to abstract
concepts such as nations, emotions, and natural forces, such as seasons and
have ancient roots as storytelling and artistic devices, and most cultures have
traditional fables with anthropomorphized animals as characters. People have
also routinely attributed human emotions and behavioral traits to wild as well
as domesticated animals. Wikipedia
How could I
have possibly known that when Rosemary and I returned from a trip to Buenos
Aires in September 2019, that to replace our Casi-Casi cat that had died before
we left, that we would find a pair of cats that would make us happy? And how
would I have known then, that someday (now with Rosemary gone on December 9 2020)
this pair, Niño and Niña, make my daily life an almost cheerful one?
neighbours are constantly asking me how I am. Because I am a tad paranoid I
think that they may ask me this because they hear me talking a lot, and since
they know I live alone, they must think I am loony. My conversations with Niño
and Niña are elaborate, affectionate and in Spanish.
written here and more on how one of the most important pleasures and duties of my
every day is to walk Niño around the block. I cannot stress enough how
wonderful it is to have a pair of cats that are siblings, that they look
much alike (Niña is smaller than Niño) and how the get along well except when
Niño runs playfully after her like most cats are known to do. It is almost as if I were living with twins.
If I had one
cat I would share my little house with the cat. By having two cats, it seems
like the sharing is communal.
Any Roman Catholic who is up on Catholic Doctrine knows that Catholics do not worship the Virgin Mary. She is simply and important person (Jesus's mother) who has pull. When these Catholics pray to her they want her to intercede for them. I see in my cats a form of a direct link to my Rosemary. That communal feeling of living with Niño and Niña is one of seeing them as a link to Rosemary.
A couple of days ago, Niña was inside our closet. A little bit later she was trying to pull something out of it. I only saw a bit of it and did not pursue the matter. But some moments later I could see it was one of Rosemary's garden hats. And of course I wondered.
One of my feline
pleasures is that when one lives alone there are few patterns, obligations to
the daily routine that matter and my cats provide me with them. These two cats have a routine. They tell me when
they want to be let out, when they want attention when I am sitting at my oficina
chair, when they want to be fed and Niño has now learned the expression “walk-walk”
and both know what to expect when at around 8 in the evening I loudly say, “treats”.
photograph illustrating this blog is not a very good one. Taking it was limited
to the length of my arm. But you can see how both cats get on top of me and for
me to read a book it can be a bit difficult (I manage).
The Two Englishmen & the Man from Yorkshire
Friday, May 27, 2022
|Rosa 'Sir Thomas Lipton' & Rosa 'Benjamin Britten' 27 May 2022|
Sir Thomas Johnstone Lipton, 1st Baronet KCVO (10 May
1848 – 2 October 1931) was a Scotsman of Irish Protestant parentage who was a
self-made man, as company founder of Lipton Tea, merchant, philanthropist and
yachtsman who lost 5 straight America's Cup matches.
He engaged in extensive advertising for his chain of
grocery stores and his brand of Lipton teas. He boasted that his secret for
success was selling the best goods at the cheapest prices, harnessing the power
of advertising, and always being optimistic. He was the most persistent
challenger in the history of the America's Cup yacht race.
|Sir Thomas Lipton & Benjamin Britten|
In 1962 I met a friend at the University of the Americas in
Mexico City. Andrew Taylor was Yorkshire-born and sometime later in the year he
played a 45RPM record and asked me if I liked the singers. This was my first
awareness of the Beatles.
In 1970 Rosemary and I moved to Arboledas, Estado de México.
We lived near a posh closed development called Club de Golf Hacienda. Taylor
lived there with his parents. His father, Colin Taylor was the first to expose
me to English composers like Benjamin Britten and Michael Tippet. Not long
after I was listening and enjoying the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams
|Andrew Taylor, Esquire|
In those days it was virtually impossible to buy good black
tea. Sometimes we got lucky and some friend would return from the US with a box
of Lipton’s tea bags. Rosemary and I would re-use these bags. I swore that if I
ever left Mexico I would have the best tea and not drive a VW.
That is exactly what happened. Presently I drive a Chevrolet
Cruze and I have at least 10 varieties of very good loose tea.
In this city that people say has no culture I was able to
listen live, not too long ago Benjamin Britten’s string quartets. With my
graphic designer friend Graham Walker we went to a performance at the Orpheum
of Britten’s Peter Grimes with Ben Heppner in the title role.
Now in 2022 I would not be caught dead drinking Lipton Tea
bags. But I long to visit Andrew Taylor in Guadalajara and take some tins of
the best loose tea that is available here in Vancouver and not in Guadalajara.
Today my English Rose Rosa ‘Benjamin Britten’ was in bloom
as well as a circa 1900 white rose Rosa ‘Sir Thomas Lipton’.
This will be a no nonsense blog about two Englishmen. And one more.
A Namesake Rose & A Clogged Kitchen Sink
Thursday, May 26, 2022
|Rosa 'Princess Alexandra of Kent' 26 May 2022|
platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), sometimes referred to as the duck-billed
platypus, is a semiaquatic, egg-laying mammal endemic to eastern Australia .
could name themselves would they? From Genesis we know that one of the primary
obligations of Adam and Eve was to name the plants and animals in paradise.
Luckily for us, until recent times, Adam and Eve had nothing to do with naming
the Australian flora and fauna.
one of my most scanned rose is the English Rose Rosa ‘Princess Alexandra of
Kent’. As soon as this rose was introduced Rosemary immediately bought it. It
is dark pink flower with all kinds of overtones, But it does not have a strong
It was one
of Rosemary’s favourites because roses and their names can beguile us. Our
oldest daughter is called Alexandra. We have another English Rose, one with
only five petals called Rosa ‘The Alexandra Rose’. I have not seen it yet in
the garden so it may not have made the cold winter and wet spring.
|Rosa 'Princess Alexandra of Kent' & Rosa 'The Alexandra Rose' 20 May 2021|
My name is
Jorge Alejandro. There were rules in place when I was born I Buenos Aires in
1942 that prohibited names in foreign languages. I could not be George like my
father or Alexander like my Argentine godfather Alejandro Ariosa from Mendoza.
If my name would be correct it would have to be George Alejandro. That sounds awfully strange.
We name our
second daughter Hilary. Rosemary was a proto-feminist who told me to hem my own
jeans and sew my own buttons. She thought that a person should be able to
become the sex of their choice and impose it on their name. She said that
Hilary was an epicene name that could be used to name a man or a woman.
The name is
lovely in English but sounds terrible in Spanish. Hilary would be Hilaria.
For me to
see and scan Princess Alexandra of Kent is to bring back my memory of Rosemary
and how she pushed me then dragged me into liking roses. Any rose in my garden
has Rosemary’s face. Even my daughter’s both namesake roses have my Rosemary’s
some relief in my present sadness. This is that my clogged kitchen sink might
not be unclogged by morning. Will I have to call a plumber? It is a distracting
worry. If Rosemary were here now somehow I would not worry in the least. A
shared worry is always a lessened one.
A Sense of Purpose Satisfied
As days go from one to the next it what seems to be an
instant I reflect on my importance in this world. I ask myself, “Do I serve a purpose?
Am I useful? Am I contributing to my society in general and to the smaller one
in my surrounding Kitsilano?
At one time I had the duty to help Rosemary to be a
breadwinner. I looked for work and when I got it I felt useful.
Now I reflect on what Rosemary went through when she stopped
working and no longer drove her big Audi to the office.
I have come to know exactly what it was that she did besides
the pleasure of tending our garden and doing her volunteer work as a Master Gardener
and working part-time at the Shop-in-the-garden at the UBC Botanical Garden.
Rosemary was doing our finances. A job she did so well that
I do not have to worry of that aspect in my life.
She cared and was preoccupied in helping her two daughters
and two granddaughters. She was our most efficient travel agent and managed to
get good airplane tickets and good seats. She kept and American Express card
for the express purpose of being able to use airport lounges.
With her gone I look at my daily life and have come to an
I do have routines like breakfast in bed with the papers and
feeding Niño and Niña. I look forward to the phone calls from my daughters and
these are more than a routine. They are special.
Now it is the scanning season in the garden. Every day there
is a new flower or rose in bloom. I cut it and scan it and save it in two
exterior hard drives. I am not sure these scans serve any important purpose. I
do know that I relax when I do them.
There is then, one singular moment in my daily life that I
consider to be an important one. This is to walk Niño around the block when the
weather permits it. I explain to surprised passers-by that Niño thinks he is a
dog even though we walk without a leash. When either Benji or Scout (two large
dogs owned by neighbours) is out on the street they approach Niño and lick his
face. He likes the two.
Walking - An ode to a cat
Walking around the block brings melancholic memories of
Rosemary doing this. I sometimes accompanied her. When I took him on my own she
would tell me, “Don’t shout at him. Be patient and just wait.”
I don’t believe in ghosts but because we take
Rosemary’s route I can feel a presence in me which makes me sad. Then Niño
looks at me with that placid face of his and I know that things are all right.
I wonder sometimes if he remembers Rosemary.
The latest with Niño, particularly now that it is getting
warmer and I leave the door of my oficina open, is that he comes in and meows.
Sometimes it is because his dish is empty of food. But most of the time he
wants my attention. I place my photo studio chair by mine and he gets on it.
And so have company. I feel useful. I have a purpose.
H.G. & Rosemary
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
In 1958 while at my boarding school in Austin, Texas I was a
member of the Doubleday Book Club. Somehow through them I purchased H.G. Wells’
The Outline of History in two volumes.
In the early 70s I had them bound in leather by a Frenchman
in Mexico City called Millioud. Perhaps in the late mid 90s I bought the
complete literary output of Wells which is in 6 volumes.
For years I had admired the man until around 1998 I read
all the Father Browns by G.K. Chesterton. While leafing through one of my many
books by Borges I discovered that Borges was a great admirer of Chesterton. Read link below.
A face as round & dull as a Norfolk dumpling
I reread Wells’ The Sleeper Wakes and comparing it with the
Father Browns I found that Wells had not aged well into the end of this
In 1987 Rosemary, our two daughters and I went to France,
England and Spain. In London we visited Westminster Abby. I looked for H.G.
Wells place on the floor and I remember stepping on it with vigour and I said, “How
are you H.G.?”
That moment has come to haunt me these days. When my mother
and grandmother died I arranged the funeral arrangements but I did not go to my
mother’s burial. My friend Raúl Guerrero reminded me that indeed I had helped
carry my grandmother’s coffin at the cemetery even if I have no memory of it.
My father’s burial also has left a blank in my memory. My father died with enough money in his
pocket (he was saving it so he could bribe some admiral to get me out of the
Argentine Navy and send me back to my mother in Mexico) for his service. But
there was not enough for a tomb in perpetuity. After 7 years his grave was
unearthed at the Chacarita Cemetery and somebody else was buried there. A
nephew of mine visited where my father would have been buried and picked up a
stone. He then came to visit me and almost through it at me saying, “This stone
perhaps was there with George.”
We know that the Roman Catholic Church did not allow cremation.
In medieval times criminals were drawn and quartered or simply dismembered. The
idea behind that is that in Christ’s second coming only bodies that were buried
in totality would rise up. I do not quite understand this and I believe that
the Church does not prohibit cremation now.
When Rosemary died her shrouded body was removed from our
house. I saw it leave. I have not forgotten that image of the last corporal awareness
that I had of Rosemary.
And now that I know that Rosemary’s ashes are in a container
and my daughter Ale takes it out on windy days to her garden so that some of
the ashes follow the direction of the wind. Rosemary loved Ale’s big garden and
often worked in it when she went for a visit. Ale thinks this is an appropriate
I may be old-fashioned but I cannot grasp that when I am on
our bed I can feel that she is not there. If I were to go to a cemetery, and
had she been buried there, could I stomp on her as I did on H.G.?
I don’t know.