Monitoring the Fax
Saturday, June 17, 2023
It seems that in this 21st century what is happening was
observed by my prescient and now gone English friend Mark Budgen.
My Budgen Obituary
Back in that other century one day when I called him he
told me, “I cannot talk to you know as I am monitoring a fax”
I remember when we first arrived in Vancouver in 1975 my
daughters would play at the house of a girl called Moira. As soon as she was going
to have dinner Ale and Hilary were sent home. When Moira was in our house we
always asked her to stay for supper.
One day at about that year I told Rosemary, “We have been
invited for after-dinner drinks. What’s that?” She did not know any better than
A friend (no more) about 15 years ago every time I called
her (be it 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 in the evening would tell me, “Alex we are about to
have supper.” I got the message.
I can make a list of 10 phone numbers of friends and
when I call (I make sure I use my landline so they know it is me calling) I
1. Few answer.
2. Some don’t have answering machines.
3. “Alex I am on my way to North Van. I’ll call you later.”
4. I am having supper now.
5. I am about to have supper.
6. I called a long time friend (no more) at 9 in the
evening. “You woke me up. I was sleeping.”
7.The mailbox is
8. When I text few will answer the texts.
What is shocking to me is that in the days of the black dial
phones when you called and nobody answered it could be that they were not home
or simply did not want to answer. You never knew. Now, especially with WhatsApp
folks deny your call. That hurts.
My feeling is that the most original excuse was Mark Budgens’s.
I used to tell some people when I would call back, “I did not answer because
I was having sex with Rosemary.”
Sex with my wife
Friday, June 16, 2023
|Rosa 'Mary Magdalene' & Coreopsis verticillata 'Zagreb' - 3 July 2023|
intention in scanning the plants of my garden, when I started in the summer of
2001, was one of botanical accuracy. I scanned at 100% the size of the plant,
dated the file and I was careful with the colour. Now in the last few years
here in Kitsilano I have diverged to the idea of having fun and doing artsy
(artistic?) images. But in this scan here there is an element of accuracy.
Kerrisdale garden we had lots of room for many (as in many) plants. Both
Rosemary and I loved the concept of plants with their companions. She got the
idea of planting bronze fennel to hide the bottom parts (not pretty) of our
roses in the rose beds. We also planted lavender.
Kits with our reduced space we had to use large terracotta pots for our roses.
When we did this we explored the use of companion plants.
3,2023 but I will place this blog in a past date to fill holes) I spotted the
lovely frilly yellow flowered plant. I know it is a Coreopsis because there is
a plant label next to the one signaling that the rose is Rosa ‘Mary Magdalene’.
like Niño, Niña and I are companions on our bed I must smile to see how these
two plants live together with no issues.
|Rosa 'Mary Magdalene' and Echinacea purpurea 'Green Jewel' - 29 July 2019|
Margaret Cavendish Bentinck & my Rosa 'Duchess of Portland'
Thursday, June 15, 2023
|Rosa 'Duchess of Portland' 15 June 2023|
The Portland rose was discovered in 1775 by the Duchess
of Portland. It was also known as Damask Perpetual and was considered a great
discovery because it was among the very first reblooming garden roses. Portland
roses are considered one of the very best old roses for the small garden
because they tend to form shrubs that are only 3-4 feet tall and wide. In
addition, the blooms are very highly scented. Blooms range in color from pink
to red. Portlands have dark green foliage that holds up well and helps show off
the blooms. Portlands may be a little tender for very cold USDA hardiness
zones. Portlands benefit from winter protection in zones 4-5. It has been found
that Portlands need about 2–3 years to get established in a new location before
reliable bloom can be expected.
Margaret Cavendish Bentinck (née Harley), Duchess of
Portland (1715-1785), Collector of art and natural history specimens and patron
of arts and sciences
As the only surviving child of Edward Harley, the Duchess
of Portland inherited a considerable fortune which she spent on the biggest
collection of natural history in Britain at the time. Her wealth afforded
opportunities to employ experts such as the botanist Daniel Solander and even
procure shells from the expeditions of James Cook. She drew the different
specimens, aiming to publish a catalogue identifying and classifying each
molluscan species collected. The herbarium she created is today housed at Kew
Gardens. Along with her childhood friend, Mary Delany she was a member of the
Bluestockings, a group of social intellectuals led by women and founded by her
great friend Elizabeth Montagu.
Unlike other plants in my garden my roses give me a sense
of history, as to where they came from and who discovered them. In other
situations roses named after famous people like my Gallica Rose R. ‘James Mason’
give me the opportunity to go to my memory of all the films I saw Mason in.
Here you have a scan of Rosa ‘Duchess of Portland’ which
was one of the first roses to be discovered that were remontant (bloomed more
In my garden she is in a large pot that is in semi shade.
This does not seem to affect her copious blooming.
In my blogs I like to mate my roses and photographs with
poems. In these many years since I started my blog in 2006 I have come to read
and remember many poems including those of Emily Dickinson, Julio Cortázar and
others. It would seem that my roses have made me appreciate poetry and helped
to make this idiot more literate.
I return to this poem by Jorge Luís Borges (here in both
Spanish and English that contains that lovely line “Y el curioso color del Colorado”
Lluvia - Jorge Luís Borges
la tarde se ha aclarado
ya cae la lluvia minuciosa.
cayó. La lluvia es una cosa
duda sucede en el pasado.
oye caer ha recobrado
tiempo en que la suerte venturosa
reveló una flor llamada rosa
curioso color del colorado.
lluvia que ciega los cristales
en perdidos arrabales
negras uvas de una parra en cierto
que ya no existe. La mojada
trae la voz, la voz deseada,
padre que vuelve y que no ha muerto.
The Rain :: J. L. Borges
The afternoon grows light because at last
Abruptly a minutely shredded rain
Is falling, or it fell. For once again
Rain is something happening in the past.
Whoever hears it fall has brought to mind
Time when by a sudden lucky chance
A flower called “rose” was open to his glance
And the curious color of the colored kind.
This rain that blinds the windows with its mists
Will gladden in suburbs no more to be found
The black grapes on a vine there overhead
In a certain patio that no longer exists.
And the drenched afternoon brings back the sound
How longed for, of my father’s voice, not dead.
[From Dreamtigers, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by
Not Quite Obsolete, Redundant, Retired & Inconsequential
Monday, June 12, 2023
|Rosa 'Abraham Darby'& Hosta 'Autumn Frost' 12 June 2023|
Yesterday 11 May, 2023, my daughter Alexandra and I returned
from Ames, Iowa. We went there last Wednesday for the National Convention of
the American Hosta Society.
While there I took portraits (with my studio light) of all
the winners of awards and of old hosta personalities that might not be around
in a few years.
In what is rare for me these days was the fact that I felt
useful. I am providing the AHS (American Hosta Society) with well taken
Feeling useful is important when one is a widower living
alone with two cats in a little house where the phone seldom rings. For a
couple of years I have been saying of myself (tongue not completely in cheek)
that I am:
Obsolete, redundant, retired & inconsequential.
My daily routine is to have breakfast, feed Niña and Niña, and
take Niño for a walk in the afternoon. That’s it. When I die there will be
enough money in the bank that my two daughters, Hilary (50) and Alexandra (55)
will not have to worry about paying their rent. But I am not really a necessary
Item (nice word) for them.
|Niña in my oficina today 12 June 2023|
My cats need me so I am useful in that.
|Top left - Carpenteria californica, right Rosa 'Winchester Cathedral' bottom Rosa 'Sombreul' - 12 June 2023|
What is left for me to do from day to day? The garden is glorious
now so I have to deadhead spent roses and water. In short I am garden fidgeting. I feel sad doing this as Rosemary and I did this together with the two cats following us.
Most important in my life is writing my blog (there are 5826
of them) and to scan the roses and other plants from my garden. I have over
3000 of them as I started in the summer of 2001.
I believe that my printed scans (I call them scanographs and
I am therefore a scanographer) are works of art. In this century, and in this
year, few, if any people I know show any interest in this “art form”.
It is important in Vancouver to never feel bitter. What is
important, is that I enjoy the process. I can see very well so I can go into
great magnification of the scans to remove dust and other annoyances.
While I scan I am distracted and I think less of the death of
my Rosemary. Especially satisfying is that my cats like to accompany me, so do
not feel alone.
Satisfying my own personal approach to involve myself in art
( I hate the modern expression “to make art”) is enough as is finding out all
about my inner self by writing my blog.
Whoever is gotten this far, might note that my
initial approach to scanning the plants of my garden (100% size, accurate colour and date) has been superseded (a nice
word I learned from working with the US Naval Advisory Group in Buenos Aires while I was doing my
conscription in the Argentine Navy) by my spending more time arranging the
leaves and doing more than one “accurate” version.
I am getting artsy fartsy. It is fun.