The Fragments of our House (in memory)

Friday, November 01, 2019

Photographs — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Sullenly and Silently Over the Fragments of the House

Riesa Schneider our former neighbour whith her dentist husband Mel texted me today to inform me (she was not sure about doing it) that our former home on 5909 Athlone Street had caught fire at 3 in the morning and that by the morning they were already demolishing it.

I texted back that for me it was a done deal when we had finally left the lovely home with the beautiful and large corner garden. With my Rosemary it was a different matter. Even now she cries for the order and comfort of owning a property that was separate from neighbours (particularly that it was a corner house). She disparages at what she calls the box we live in.

I did my best to not return but I believe that my Rosemary passed by the house at least once a week. What was left of our garden was wild growth and some of the trees were dying.

While I hate that word “closure” perhaps this terrible incident in our life will bring it and we can move on (or as politicians like to say , “move on”).

We received lots of money in the sale of that house. Rosemary was a smart cookie when she forced (strong urge) that we buy it back in 1986. I feel that having mostly inherited our two daughters while we are still alive is something very positive.

In the old house we could never have guests stay with us as the bathrooms upstairs leaked, toilets barely flushed, etc.

In our present little home we have an independent guest room on a separate floor with its own bathroom. We like to invite friends and relatives from abroad to visit us.

But we (and particularly Rosemary) misses that expanse of lawn, all those perennials and over 80 old roses.

But I can counter that I have terrible arthritis and there are days when I can barely move. I could not have handled that garden all by myself.

But I must see how I can somehow ameliorate the terrible news with Rosemary who is distraught.

No repeating what my grandmother used to say to me, “Nadie te quita lo bailado,” or nobody can take away the dances (memories) you have danced.”

I texted Risa back and told her how Rosemary walks our male cat Niño around the block and how this reminds me of her husband Mel who did that on Athlone. This is her reply:

Funny while I was writing that earlier message I thought about Mel walking Nina and Marmalade around the block together and of how impressed Rosemary was with Mel’s feat!

The Mantle Clock & The View From Our Bedroom Window

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I can remember that first night in our new home on Athlone Street back in 1986. I propped my head up and looked out from one our bedroom windows (the right one in the picture below) which overlooked on to the boulevard (the bed has not been moved) I looked outside into the boulevard and I could not believe that thanks to Rosemary’s forward thinking we were now living in a beautiful house in a beautiful neighbourhood.

The house itself, that night was pretty free of the furniture, bookshelves and thousands of books we have now. But there were two items I had purchased even before we moved that were specifically for the house. One was an antique French mantle clock for the mantle of what was then called my smoking room. It was and is a beautifully wood paneled room in which we now watch our occasional television.

The mantle clock

In the dining room there was a nook and I found a large credenza with a marble top at an antique store in Maple Ridge. Rosemary could not understand that I would buy such a piece of furniture as I had not measured the nook. The fact is that when it arrived it fit just right.

The clock served us well for all these years chiming on the hour and the half hour to the point we stopped hearing it because we became so accustomed. But now it does not work. Its winding mechanism is stripped and I will have to find someone in town to repair it.

I look at the exterior paint job of our house and I can see the cracks. Yesterday I sprayed certain parts of the roof, the gazebo roof and the one of our garage with moss killer. Moss collects and on the roof it is not a pretty sight.

In our garden there are plants that have been with us for many years. Some have not returned. A few perennials can be freshened up with division but others simply have lifespans just as humans have.

Many of the trees we planted as saplings are now mature and cast shade. The garden is shadier and plants want light. In the picture above the shaped conifer on the left died of root rot some years ago and the birch died of disease and was removed by the city.

The credenza, behind
Rosemary and I have been working in the garden these days. Pumping up the moss killer device has left my right elbow in pain. The index finger of my right hand is swollen because of the pressure on the secateurs. I have been using the secateurs not only to prune my roses but to prune bushes that are much too large for their spot. The body aches.

There is no division that will freshen up our bodies. The mantle clock can be fixed but the moss will come back.

The prospect of smelling my roses in late May keeps me going. I am sure that Rosemary looks forward to some sunny day in that late May to sit down on our garden bench to reflect that time has passed us by but we can still smell the roses and enjoy the garden. We will be sharing the enjoyment with our two cats. It has taken Rosemary’s new cat, Casi a year to adapt to the garden. He loves it now and he accompanies Rosemary whenever she is around.

Link to: The Mantle Clock & The View From Our Bedroom Window

Link to: The Fragments of our House



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Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at: