Death Comes To Athlone — August 30 2015
For me a blog is something personal. I see it as a diary written to be seen on a monitor and not hidden in a desk. But to many now this concept has been abandoned. We now like to write stuff such as this Five Ways to Make Sure You Don’t Get Fuc… When You Buy Your First Car. I despair sometimes that this blogging platform that surely is what Medium is now seems to have abandoned the original intent of blogs.
For me it is also tough to write my daily blog (I have my own Blogger blog which is ancillary to my web page) with the idea I might want to transfer it to Medium. Is Canada provincial? Is Vancouver even more so? I cannot write about Silicon Valley. If Medium is a universal blog I find it hard to ever find stuff in my native Spanish. Or blogs related to issues in other countries. But I soldier on anyway. Nobody is paying me to be in Medium and I am not paying Medium. So we are even in that way.
But is there room for a little essay about the eve of my birthday? Would anybody care?
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Death Comes To Athlone
We moved into our present house in the West side of Vancouver in 1986 and the time has come to say goodbye to our large corner lot garden and its old 1931-built house. We found mold and asbestos shrouds on the plumbing. I have had a chronic cough for five years even though a recent lung X-ray said I was just fine.
Our garden was one of the important bonds between my Rosemary and me. We planted trees and shrubs, perennials and my fave hostas and old roses. We designed new flower beds and watched as our garden matured. The garden even made a spread in Better Homes and Gardens.
Trees that were one or two feet tall that I purchased at VanDusen or UBC Botanical Garden sales are now in some cases 40 ft in height. When one buys a little conifer one does not think of time. It’s nice right now but many years later these trees cannot be moved or transplanted.
While our garden is unusually beautiful both of us know that after running to the bank and becoming millionaires the developer who eagerly bought our corner lot will plow it all in, trees included.
Unlike Orpheus I don’t plan to look back when I finally lock the door.
Today my daughter Ale (who teaches in the interior town of Lillooet) and her niece Lauren, 13 (my granddaughter) came to help us deal with a storeroom full of family heirlooms, family junk, toys of Lauren’s mother and aunt, and a very good old scanner that has no driver or software (it will be history).
I am especially sad because today, August 30 is one day before my birthday.
I remember my youth and all the members of my family who are not around anymore. In solidarity to the yearly “tormenta de Santa Rosa” (a storm that hits Buenos Aires on the last days of August) hit our Vancouver hard on the 29th. The 30th is the day of Santa Rosa of Lima who was the first New World saint of the Roman Catholic church. That storm made my mother change the date of many of the garden birthday parties we had in our home on Melián.
But the saddest is having to get rid of stuff that had value when I first was given it or I bought it. Books, book and more books. Framed pictures of Buenos Aires scenes taken out of cheap Argentine calendars that looked perfect on the wall before I decided to become what some people call an art photographer.
Seen here are two books that will not make the transfer to wherever Rosemary and I end up in a few months. I asked my eldest daughter Ale who teaches in Lillooet if she could use my Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her sad nod was in the negative. I have a very nice edition of Don Quixote in Spanish. The translated into English one here was my Rosemary’s who majored in Spanish at McGill University. She nodded in the negative when I showed it to her.
One of the advantages of living in a slow version of Dresden is that within one or two blocks there are countless bins where I can dispose of our stuff (as soon as it gets dark and especially on weekends). Some of the bins are the low ones so I don’t have to exert myself too much.
But it breaks my heart to throw a book. I tried to explain to Ale that nobody wants books, including our public library. It is stressful to attempt to find homes for books. It is less so to throw them away. Early in my life in Buenos Aires our president, General don Juan Domingo Perón taught us that books were sacred and the should take care of them, not damage them and to treasure them.
But I must report that amongst the death of so many books and the soon to be death of our big trees there was a bright moment today.
Lauren pulled out a little white dress and asked me about it. Rosemary was the one who responded, “I was married in that dress in 1968. It is very short because Alex said my legs were very beautiful (they are) and he wanted me to show them off.”
It is amazing that Lauren was able to put the dress one and I photographed her in the garden with my brand-new Fuji Instax Wide 300 camera.
In late afternoon we all went for pizza at Bufala on West Boulevard where I took a snap with it. These are the women of my life (my female Plata, a cat refused to come with us). Ale, Rebecca and I all have birthdays in the second half of August.
While I am not extremely religious I was saddened by the fact that while Lauren posed with the driftwood cross I found on a Veracruz beach in the late 60s (and which I attached to a silver chain and gave to Rosemary) she refused to wear it to the restaurant. But had I brought a little Lord of the Rings sword necklace (I don’t have such an item) she would have proudly worn it.
I despair at the idea that there is no mystery, superstition or basic epistemology in the youth of today. What they do have is a waning disbelief and boredom with special effects.