Shadowlands of the Blue Dogs


Had to wait on my girlfriend up on the hill in old Point Grey until she returned to her mansion. She left me a late phone message that I didn’t get until about an hour before the ETA I’d given yesterday in my message.  Doesn’t matter.

My girlfriend’s off to Peachland, British Columbia tomorrow to attend, with his consort, once more, the “Remembrance Day” ceremony there on Sunday.

His older brother’s name, as you will recall, is one of the dozen or so on the fine, small, granite cenotaph on the waterfront.

Raymond H. W., although in the RCAF, was flying with RAF bomber command squadron 51 out of Snaith, Yorkshire, England.  It was his third “mission” as they used to be called. The Handley Page Halifax Mark III four engine bomber, LV857, didn’t return from the attack on Nuremberg the night of March 30-31, 1944.

R.H.W. also has a grave marker in the Hanover, Germany war cemetery. He was 22 and grew up in Peachland.

So his younger brother, the old girlfriend, who will be 85 next year, heads up to place one of the wreaths, as he has for the last several years.

The ceremony takes place in the community centre rather than on the waterfront at the cenotaph itself, as used to be, as some of the old guard are getting a tad elderly and it can get a bit cool down there in November.

Indeed, some of the participants of the past, since they brought the day inside,  have past on.  My dear girlfriend has the little place above the lake on Lakeshore Boulevard, a dead-end two lane blacktop with a fine view of Okanagan Lake.

Summerland and Penticton are to the south, West Kelowna and Kelowna to the north.  His parents owned the place starting in the 1920s.  It was the little cottage up behind the house they lived in on a fine, sloping patch of ground at the south end of town.  The house as well as the cottage are still there, but the house hasn’t been in the family for decades.  The highway has more traffic now than it did in the 1920s.

In fact the whole town has expanded alarmingly in the last few years. But there’s no return to the past.  People like my girlfriend remember how it used to be.  Is he really my girlfriend?  Sure, in a jokey sort of way.

“Not necessarily a blue dog moment.”  — American TV commentator.  No one outside of himself had a clue what he was talking about last  night.


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Proust Remembered

Really going to the dogs around here.  I keep seeing fluffy white hounds but they don’t seem to see me so I’m hoping that’s a good thing.  Paranoia strikes deep.  So old school.  So old.  You can’t be concerned.  You just can’t.  You just have to get through the therapy.

Dying time again.  I keep tearing bits off the site before they try to grow back.  It’s slow, painstaking work and like all of you out there I hate pain.  “Take the pain!”  I wish I knew.

Even now, at this late moment, you remember the people that remembered you reading Proust although they can’t remember now because they’re dead.  I remember.  Too bad. Who cares?  Get out.  Bar’s closed.

I wouldn’t have thought to think about it if I hadn’t.  Proust’s first English translator dressed up as a Scottish soldier.  What is this?  How’d he get permission?  For years I knew nothing about this.  I became concerned.  What else didn’t I know?  Royal Scots.  Great War.  Hundred years.  Zzzzz…  Time out.  Remember “quicksand”?  Sinking in quicksand? You never hear about quicksand anymore.  As a young lad I was terrified of quicksand. Never saw it, encountered it.  Saw it in movies and on TV.  Never heard about Scott Moncrieff either.

So I acquired this biography of the guy who translated À la recherche du temps perdu.  It had to happen at some point.  The  cover is the Farrar Strauss and Giroux edition, 2014. Great bunch of guys.

The Marcel Proust I read, for obscure reasons, was translated from the French by C. K. Scott Moncrieff.  It’s indisputable.  Who turns out to be rather an interesting character for a lot of reasons beside his translation of Marcel’s massive work of art.  Less on him later.

He was also a poet, although he didn’t think much of himself as one, an opinion shared by a smattering few, but others enjoyed it.

I read half the Proust translation in Chatto & Windus paperbacks published in London too many years ago because we don’t have all day.  Farrar, Strauss and Giroux take the field against Chatto & Windus.  That would be a match-up for the ages.  Luv to see that!

The poem prefaced one of the Chatto & Windus volumes.  As I sold off these volumes years ago at a trifling loss and am too lazy to check a library copy and anyway continue with a deep sense of revulsion for libraries generally, I can’t recall which volume it was exactly. Doesn’t matter.  The theme is remembrance.  I think it was the second volume.

How’s the ancient Greek mythology coming along?  Mine’s so-so.  You plant teeth from some dragon and warriors sprout up from the dirt.  Goes on from there.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense but there it is.

“Remembrance Day”. “Remembrance Sunday.” “Veteran’s Day”.    Some people are criticizing the thing saying it promotes war and killing.  All that’s happening there is these folks getting high on the rising tide of ignorance.  It’s either that or they’re communists. Pitiful.  We forgive them.


To K. S. S.

That men in armour may be born
With serpents’ teeth the field is sown;
Rains mould, winds bend, suns gild the corn
Too quickly ripe, too early mown

I scan the quivering heads, behold
The features, catch the whispered breath
Of friends long garnered in the cold
Unopening granaries of death,

Whose names in solemn cadence ring
Across my slow oblivious page.
Their friendship was a finer thing
Than fame, or wealth, or honoured age,

And—while you live and I—shall last
Its tale of seasons with us yet
Who cherish, in the undying past,
The men we never can forget.

There was probably a lot of women he never can forget but they were possibly not uppermost in his mind at the time.  Romantically, certainly, he preferred men.  Interesting guy.

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Do You Still Have That Place On Saturn?

Struck us as a good question. Somebody asked CSN at work. The answer was yes. You get wrapped up in Saturn. We do, and we’re hanging on to our place despite the cost. Despite the long commute. It can take years to get there depending on the conditions and the route you take, but we don’t care.  It’s worth it.

We like Saturn. It’s super quiet and usually there’s not a lot of people around if that’s what you want. There’s a lot of rain in the winter but that’s no surprise. It’s helium rain which makes your voice go kind of funny so that’ s different. Singing in the helium rain.  Meet you in the helium rain.

There’s a store on Saturn but it can take a long time to get anywhere on a massive gas giant so we don’t bother much. Some people find the lack of conveniences a bit inconvenient. We pack for a long vacation because there’s no choice. It can be tough to get the time off but we work it out.

We wouldn’t dream of selling Saturn. Even if we wanted to buyers can be hard to find. A lot of people don’t like the travel and it’s true, the price of fuel and transportation have gone way up the last few years. Some people talk about building a bridge but that’ll never happen. It’d be too expensive.

Saturn courtesy NASA

This shot was taken just as we were coming in Tuesday night.  We were finally getting back to our old Saturn home.

Always a lot of dusting and cobwebbing to do first getting in.  That’s okay because once you’re here time kind of stretches out.  No big rush to get on with your projects if you don’t especially feel like it right away.  A year on Saturn’s nearly 30 years long.  You can waste time like anything and still have plenty left.  People on Saturn tend to be in for the long haul. It comes with the territory.  We’re fine with that.




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