A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Paradise From Hell
Saturday, August 25, 2007

In my life I have either been plagued or blessed (I cannot make up my mind) by female pioneers. All have been members of my family.

My maternal grandmother decided that 1954 Buenos Aires was a dangerous place to be and she persuaded my mother that we should move to Mexico. This we did. Then in 1956 my mother was offered to teach in one room school house in Nueva Rosita, Coahuila. It was the school for the children of the employees of the American Smelting & Refining Company. It was a desert with bitterly cold winters and summers from hell. In 1964 my mother moved to teach in Veracruz for the ALCOA Aluminum Company. The summers from hell had the added bonus of "nortes" (how was I to know that these were the tail ends of all those Caribbean tropical storms that are in the news these days?)in which sand would filter into the house and flying cockroaches haunted our bathrooms at night.

Rosemary, our two daughters and I were living in a cute and solid brick house in Arboledas, outside Mexico City when she told me that she thought things would not prosper for us there and that we should move to Canada. We packed our skyblue VW beetle with our belongings on a roof rack and drove to Vancouver.

We had a not so cute and not so solid frame house in Burnaby in 1986. We didn't owe a penny. That's when Rosemary informed me that she wanted a real garden and that we were moving into Vancouver. This we did.

Until recently my daughter Ale lived nearby as did Hilary, Bruce, Rebecca and Lauren.

It looked pretty good until Ale bought a property (half acre) in Lillooet and moved in June. She left her teaching job at University Hill Elementary School, lost her seniority status and is currently very happy while facing an uncertain future.

Rosemary and I visited Ale on July 1st. We drove in a counter clockwise manner via Hope and then back via Pemberton. There was only one curve between Lilloet and Pemberton. The whole way was one continuous (albeit, breathtakingly beautiful) curve.

Ale's house is a fixer upper that has faced several generations of fixer uppers. In the middle of the night (the temperature had diminished to 32degrees) Rosemary told me, "This is a nightmare." Lillooet is very similar to Nueva Rosita. It is a dry desert. The dirt in Ale's back yard is like concrete. But somehow some excellent apple, apricot, peach and pear trees have managed to give abundant fruit and look disease-free.

While there is not much that we can do to help Ale in fixing her house I have taken upon myself to bring nicely framed paintings and photographs. Both my mother and I have always believed that framed pictures convert a house into a home. We have bought Ale a solid looking portable propane-fueled Webber.

But best of all, to those who may be reading this on Saturday morning, we drove here yesterday with both Rebecca and Lauren. Since Ale only has one bed we brought a tent and sleeping bags. If all went well last night, Ale, Rebecca and Lauren slept in that tent.

And Rosemary slept well and did not wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me anything.


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