Today would have...
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
|Top left, Rosa 'Betsy Sinclair', right R. 'Margaret Merril' 7 below R. 'Jaqueline du Pré' - 15 September 2021
A very obvious (to me) advantage of the 20th century over
this 21st century is that you rarely then saw bad photographs of babies, dogs
and cats. With social media rampant, people like that, “Why does a dog lick his …?”
do so, because they, too, can. They post (now a word diminished in meaning) as is
the word visit (visit the Vancouver Garbage website) mostly banal stuff with
We have ambulance chasers who already have written their
magnum opus in preparation for Keith Richard’s death. But I really take offence
with those who “post” “My great
grandmother would have been 120 years
old today. I miss her, lots,” and worse still, “She would have loved my iPhone 12.” And even worse to that, is, “Today would have been Leslie Howard’s one
hundred and twenty eighth birthday. Happy birthday Leslie!”
It is easy (but difficult these days) for me to experience
the feeling, “I wonder what my Rosemary would
have thought of this?” or, “What
would she have thought of this rose she never saw?”
I find it sufficient, and in some way helping me survive my
grief for her death on December 9th of last year, to scan these
three roses that were in bloom today. The yellow rose is Rosa ‘Betsy Sinclair’ found in Robin Dening’s garden and named
after his wife. Rosemary learned to like yellow roses. I am sure that when I see
this rose and I remember her, she would have loved it. The larger but single
white rose is one that Rosemary and I adored. It is Rosa ‘Jacqueline du Pré’. The other white rose, Rosa ‘Margaret
Merill’, was recommended to us us by former Vancouver Rose Society President
Janet Wood. It was one of our first roses.
Will I on April 19, 2022 post, “ Today would have been my
Rosemary’s 78th birthday?” Time will tell.
No está porque no es - to be or...
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
In Mexico City I met Rosemary at a language school in late 1967. Soon after we were married in Feb 1968. We were very good English teachers
but I also taught Spanish to foreign students at the Jesuit Universidad
One of the difficulties in teaching Spanish, besides the
complexity of conveying the frequent use of the Subjunctive Mood, was a problem
with the fact that in Spanish we have ser
and estar. Both translate into
English as “to be”.
Ser is about
being. “I am becomes,” soy. It also
is associated with the essence of something. “Borges es un buen escritor” – Borges is a good writer. Estar has to do with where something or
any entity is in a location in space. “Estoy
en Vancouver,” translates to “I am in
It becomes a tad more complex when I write, “Estoy mal,” which translates to “I am not well.” Because being sick is
not a person’s essence, estar is used.
I am bilingual and I switch to one language from the
other even in my dreams. Because of the time alone that I have, and my pandemic
isolation, I have lots of opportunity to reflect on language and how it affects
my daily life.
When I turn off the light at night my immediate thought is
in Spanish, “No está porque no es,”
or, “She is not here because she is not (alive)”. The thought is Spanish seems
more final, mor compact, and somehow more complex.
Driving in my Cruze I glance at the empty seat beside me and
I have that same thought of the lack of her presence.
One of the results of my isolation in my Kits home,
accompanied by Niño and Niña, is that I am increasingly sensing a humanity in
them. Driving home after taking Hilary to her home in Burnaby I look forward to
opening the door and noting their presence – “Son,” or ‘They are.”
I could spend hours with Argentine friends at a café arguing the philosophical ideas behind, "Estoy solo,"and "Soy solo."
Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be,” translates to, “ser o no
ser,” so with Rosemary my thought is, “No está porque no es.”
This compactness of thought in Spanish may look simple, but
I somehow agonize over that statement all day and all night.
Medias Lunas & Voting for the Federal Election Today - Wonderfully Boring
Monday, September 13, 2021
As a little boy in Buenos Aires my grandmother would tell me
the story on how they left Manila in the early 20s on their way to NY City. She
told me about being on a Japanese ship (I can only remember the last part of
the name which was Maru) and that they landed at a place with mountains and
trees called Vancouver. She told me of a cavernous train station and that she
and her three children (my mother, uncle and aunt) boarded a train to Montreal
and from there to New York City. They settled in the Bronx.
That was all I knew of Canada except that by 1966 when I
returned to Buenos Aires (from Mexico City) to do my two-year military service
in the Argentine Navy I spotted a curious structure near the Retiro train
station. Canada had given a totem pole to Argentina in 1961.
In 1967 I returned to Mexico in an Argentine merchant marine
ship called the Río Aguapey. It was a Victory Ship and I was not to know until
about 10 years ago that the ship had been built in the Burrard Shipyards here in my Vancouver.
In 1967 I met my Rosemary in Mexico City and we were married
in 1968. She told me about Canada and about man she liked lots, called Pierre
Trudeau. She saw her first totem in Chapultepec Park in the early 70s.
In 1975 she told me that we were moving to Canada. I
obtained a visa and with the family (daughters Alexandra and Hilary) we drove
our Arctic gray bochito (VW Beatle) to
We have been in Canada since and every day I give thanks to
whatever higher existence may watch over us (and me now that I am alone) that
Rosemary was inspired to bring us to this land.
Today I had the visit of daughter Hilary and granddaughters
Rebecca and Lauren. I served them Argentine medias
lunas (croissants) made in the brand new bakery and café Livni (2213 West
Broadway – 604-730-5494) run by an Argentine baker and her assistant a Chilean
woman. The secret of Argentine medias lunas is that they are coated with a
mixture of egg white and sugar so they are ever so slightly sweet and perfect
if dunked in café con leche.
And because we Argentines (well, former Argentine as I am a
Canadian) have a sweet tooth we like to eat our medias lunas with butter and dulce de leche. One of the best is the
San Ignacio brand. I buy it in my neighbourhood Fresh is Best (2908 West
Broadway - 778-737-2442 – closed on Mondays) that stocks all kinds of Latin
American products (although they specialize in Mexico and sell corn tortillas
made in Coquitlam and Burnaby).
After they left I walked three blocks to the St. James
Community Centre to do my pre-voting. I was in and out in less than 15 minutes.
The staff was courteous and completely un-bureaucratic. Anywhere else in my
Latin America there would have been soldiers with machine guns outside. I
wonder what Canadians or Americans might think that voting in my Argentina is
compulsory and that you are subject to a fine if you do not vote.
Rags, flags & citizenship
St. James Community Centre when I voted in 2019
Another federal election I remember well
I walked home, missing my Rosemary and thanking her for her intelligence and foresight, that a day like today could be lazy, boring and wonderful.