Red, Red Roses - Robert Burns & My Rosemary
Saturday, July 29, 2023
|Top left Rosa 'Emily Carr' and Rosa 'Darcey Bussell' 29 July 2023|
A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns
O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly played in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry:
Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it ware ten thousand mile.
It is impossible for me to escape not thinking about my
Rosemary when I am in the house, on the bed, and particularly in the garden. My
memory is beginning to fail me and I have forgotten the names of many plants.
She would have known.
In today’s scan she had a good memory for the English
Rose Rosa ‘Darcey Bussell’ but she never got to see the Canadian Rose, Rosa ‘Emily
Carr’ which I bought at the shop in the garden last year. The shop, at the
entrance to the UBC Botanical Garden is one where she worked for many years. She
lovingly watered and took care of the plants in the small nursery. She would
have loved this rose.
It has only been since she died on December 9 2020 that
it hit me (very hard) that I never connected her name Rosemary (and much more
obvious in Spanish, Rosamaría) to her beloved roses. I had little interest them
until she gently (not quite!) took me to a meeting of the Vancouver Rose
Society around 1987. I was only interested in hostas then. Rosemary broadened
my interest in other plants.
And of course I will especially remember her this August
31st when I will be 81 years old. Why? My birthdays in Buenos Aires
which my mother like to have in our Coghlan garden complete with a piñata and
putting a tail on the donkey was always dependent on the weather. On August 30th
there was a usual terrible storm called “la tormenta de Santa Rosa de Lima”. Santa
Rosa is but another Rose in my memory besides the stellar Rosemary Elizabeth
Horst Wenzel - My Meticulous Friend - 1939 - July 11 2023
Friday, July 28, 2023
|Horst Wenzel and his prototype stereo camera and my Asahi Pentax S-3|
Horst Wenzel I
Horst Wenzel II
Horst Wenzel III
Horst Wenzel IV
Horst Wenzel V
Horst Wenzel VI
Horst Wenzel VII
Horst Wenzel VIII
Horst Wenzel IX
The price of getting to be an 80 year old man is that every-day-stability
becomes a footprint on the sand of a beach.
My paragon of stability, my male cat Niño, has cancer and he
is visibly becoming thin. I can perceive his eventual death. Most of my friends
are all gone as is my wife and many of my relatives. Agatha Christie had it
right in her novel “And Then There Were None”.
In last July I received a phone call on my landline. Horst Wenzel had died.
|Horst and cousing Helga, Zeven, Germany Aug 4 1944|
Horst Wenzel, besides repairing my cameras, an Italian switchblade
and even a toilet, was a friend for many years. I visited him often with any
excuse I could muster. He was a warm man with a quiet voice and an easy smile.
Few in this city, this country will ever understand how
famous this man was in his profession. Of particular interest to me as I own
three swivelling panoramic cameras, a Widelux, Horizont and a Noblex 175 is
that these units had one bette noir. A rubberized plastic pulley deteriorated
with time and as it would slip the cameras would produce nasty streaks. Since
all three companies that made these cameras do not exist, Wenzel was the only
person who could repair them worldwide! He had a wonderful inventive technique
to repair them using a modified hockey puck.
A week before Wenzel died he repaired my Pentax S-3 which I
purchased used in 1962 at Foto Rudiger, on Avenida Venustiano Carranza in
Mexico City. The shutter button had fallen out. This involved the complex
operation of removing the camera’s top.
Wenzel understood my goal of wanting to have all my cameras
in working order. I had told him that when I had bought them they all worked
and when I die they should all work even if they are thrown away. There is a
pleasant symmetry that the 1939, German born Wenzel and this Argentine both
And I would like to add here a standing rule that Wenzel had when he repaired a camera. It was almost as if he wanted to be a ghost. When he put a camera together he made sure that all the screws looked new. He often told me, "I don't want anybody to know I was inside that camera."
El Niño - El Joven - El Señor
Thursday, July 27, 2023
|Hosta 'El Niño' 30 July 2023|
In Buenos Aires around 1950, when I was 8, we had a live-in
housekeeper called Mercedes Basaldúa. She was a fabulous cook and my favourite
dish of hers was a carrot soufflé. I remember that my mother would say to her
at about supper or lunch time, “Mercedes prepara la comida para el niño.”
Years later in Mexico around the mid-1960s when my mother
lived in Veracruz and I visited she would tell our live in maid (I cannot
remember her name) at breakfast time, “Prepara el desayuno para el joven.”
In December of 1967 I arrived with Rosemary and I at Veracruz, I distinctly
heard her say, “Prepara el desayuno para Rosemary y el señor.”
The above is but an excuse to place here the many flowers
from my one potted Hosta ‘El Niño’. This hosta is part of a group of hostas
called Tardianas and I believe that their flowers are not only beautiful (even
before they open) but they (the Tardianas) are also floriferous.
When Rosemary went home from the SPCA with our two orange
cats 5 years ago they were called Mac and Cheese. I immediately
changed their names to Niño and Niña.
Because I am filling holes in my blog, this blog which I am writing today July 30, 2023, I am placing it on July 27, 2023
Blood or Wine?
Wednesday, July 26, 2023
|Top Rosa 'Darcey Bussell' & Rosa 'Sombreul' 30 July 2023|
My friend Alex Summers (now gone no longer with us) in 1967 was working a
mimeograph machine to print
the newsletter for the American Penstemon Society. As he was doing he thought, “I
hate the smell of this machine and I don’t even like penstemons.” He quit the
society and in 1968 he founded the American Hosta Society.
have been a member of the society since 1990 I have met all the hosta greats
including Summers and the hostas in my garden have some of their faces.
I believe I
can do the same with roses, but differently. It is the history behind roses as
to where they came from, when and who introduced them that fascinates me.
is the name of some roses when they are named after people that have
Of Rosa ‘Sombreul’
a vigorous and ever blooming white rose in my garden I have written the story
here about how its whiteness is connected with either red wine or blood
Rosa Sombreul - Blood or Wine?
That is why
I scanned the red English Rose, Rosa ‘Darcey Bussell’ today 30 July 2023 but
placing this blog, to fill a hole, to 26 July 2023.
was a snob who inherited from my mother this concept in Spanish, “Hay poca
gente fina como nosotros,” which translates to, “There are few people with a
sense of taste like ours.”
was a snob she did not like the long stemmed (one rose per stem) hybrid tea
roses. Luckily I never ever sent her roses for any kind of celebratory occasion.
Most men would have gifted a dozen white or red hybrid teas (in winter imported
into Vancouver from Colombia). I knew better.
also have known why in baroque cathedrals those round windows are called rose
windows. Just look at Sombreul.
Rose Window of Churtreaux
My Ever Present Stream of Consciousness
Tuesday, July 25, 2023
|Red rose - Rosa 'Princess Alexandra of Kent' with Rosa 'Bathsheba' 25 July 2023|
Stream of Consciousness
In literary criticism, stream of consciousness is a
narrative mode or method that attempts "to depict the multitudinous
thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind" of a narrator. The term
was coined by Daniel Oliver in 1840 in First Lines of Physiology: Designed for
the Use of Students of Medicine, when he wrote,
If we separate from this mingled and moving stream of
consciousness, our sensations and volitions, which are constantly giving it a
new direction, and suffer it to pursue its own spontaneous course, it will
appear, upon examination, that this, instead of being wholly fortuitous and
uncertain, is determined by certain fixed laws of thought, which are
collectively termed the association of ideas.
The above term is used a lot in literary criticism but I
must apply it to my present state of affairs re the death of my Rosemary on
December 9 2020.
Every moment of the day, before I go to sleep, when I
wake up and some of my dreams, are associated with thoughts and moments I
shared with Rosemary. I am unable to escape it. Friends and relatives say
I must find activities that distract me from those thoughts and to spend time
in face to face communication with friends.
I have found this to be of no avail. Before Rosemary died
I used to tell her about my existential thought that we were WTD (waiting to
die).Looking back at that I understand that then that was a sharing that had its comforting moments. Now alone I find no comfort.
With few people calling, with no chance of getting a
portraiture job, my life is one of waking up, feeding the cats and myself and
dealing with the day’s menialities until the day, very quickly becomes night
and Sisyphus (me) rolls the rock up the slope yet again.
Today I noticed the bright red colour of one of Rosemary’s
favourite roses, the English Rose, Rosa ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’. Not far
is one of my favourites, the most dependable and ever remontant English Rose, Rosa ‘Bathsheba’. I snipped
them and here is the scan.
Of the scan I would have shown it to Rosemary. Cutting
Princess Alexandra and knowing that Rosemary wanted the rose as it has
Alexandra in its name like in our eldest daughter, Alexandra, I could not stop
from thinking of Rosemary and imagining her smiling at seeing it with its water
droplets from the night’s rain.
The scan will add to the over 3000 I already have. It was
an activity that began in the summer of 2001. Sometimes I think that this
activity is a futile one. I think it might be an obsession. But I must accept
that I have fun doing it. When I show these to friends and new friends they comment on how nice the photographs are. I correct them and tell them that they are scanographs and that I am a scanographer. This instantly turns them off. I believe that the scanner is a wonderful instrument of technology that has been forgotten and replaced by walking at a crosswalk with phone in hand.
But for all those that tell me that I should find
distractions that take me away from thoughts about my grief for not having
Rosemary with me, I can ascertain that it does not work and I know that I am
Nevermore - Hydrangeas - the Master Watchmaker - & Horst Wenzel
Sunday, July 23, 2023
|Hydranges macrophylla 'Ayesha, Hydrangea macrophylla 'Fuji Waterfall' & Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowflake' - 22 July 2023 |
In 1959, in my grade
10 English class at St. Edward’s High School in Austin, Texas, Brother
Dunstan Bowles, C.S.C. put on a record that featured James Mason reciting Edgar
Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee. This was my
first exposure to Poe. It has been a lasting one.
scanned the three hydrangeas in my garden and I remembered (as I do often) that
in our Kerrisdale garden, Rosemary and I had 37 of them and that they were a
mixture of species and cultivars. When we moved to Kits I had to play Noah with
|5 August 2022|
that is constantly in my mind is that absolutely cold and exact nevermore so important to Poe’s The Raven.
favourite Argentine poet, short story writer and essayist, Jorge Luís Borges wrote often of actions in
his life that he thought he was doing for the last time. He wrote about a book
in a bookcase that he would perhaps never open, of doors that he was closing
for the last time and in his obsession with mirrors he wondered if his
reflection on a mirror would be his last one.
At my age of
80 (to be 81 at the end of August) I am in a constant Borgesian (lovely word, isn’t
it?) mood of preparing for my statistically soon meeting with oblivion.
great flood I my house almost two months ago, all my belongings were brought
back. Nothing went missing except (!) the winding key and the fast slow
adjusting key for my black, slate 19th century French mantel clock.
Rosemary and I were looking at the house in Kerrisdale that we eventually
bought, She told me, “Alex, if we buy this house, this den (a lovely one) will
be yours to enjoy.” I can report that the first item I purchased before we
moved in was the mantel clock.
|Fritz Irrgang & my mantel clock - 22 July 2023|
To find new
keys for the clock I went to Fritz Irrgang’s Western Watch and Clock Repairs
with my clock. Irrgang immediately presented me with two keys but I told him, “Even
though you overhauled this clock, perhaps three years ago, I want you to do it
again. You will be 80 this year and I will be 81. I have no idea who will go
first. I just want my two daughters to inherit a well working unit.” Irrgang
understood. I mentioned my 84 year-old friend and camera repairman Horst Wenzel
(83) and we discussed who would repair clocks and cameras in a near future when
they (the two of them) were gone.
Wenzel three weeks ago repaired my Asahi Pentax S-3 which I purchased used at Foto Rudiger on Avenida Venustiano Carranza in Mexico City in 1962. The shutter button fell out so Wenzel had to remove the camera top (not an easy operation). I can report that all the cameras I own are in perfect working order. Below is a photograph I took some years ago of my granddaughter Lauren and the Pentax. Those who notice will know that she is not looking through the viewfinder. The item on top of the camera was clip-on exposure meter.