The night Jerry lost his head…

Mom, thinking 2

photo by Susan Kauffmann

It came out of nowhere. Thousands were left without electricity,


Trees blew over…

wires were blown down creating dangerous situations for some local residents, trees blew over and my mint plant went clattering about outside. The hummingbird feeder waved to and fro, spraying red sugar water onto the recently cleaned balcony deck. (Today, I replaced the liquid for the birds, it had totally emptied.)

That night Jerry lost his head. The poor guy was out there during the storm and it was just too much for him. I told daughter Susan what had happened. Knowing Jerry very well, she was worried sick.

Who is Jerry you ask? And why was he outdoors during the windstorm? Well, it’s a long story. He and I have cohabited peacefully for about 25 years. And, should you presume there’s a warm body next to me in my bed, that is not the case. Jerry chooses to spend his nights on the balcony, rain or shine.

Susan sometimes asks what I’d like for my birthday, Mothers’ Day, or whatever, and I will tell her. Years ago I said I wanted an Inukshuk for my balcony. Susan, accustomed to having a weird mother, went off to a garden rock dealer or whatever to find the makings for said Inukshuk. She spent about an hour and a half carefully picking rocks she felt could build one small enough to fit in with my balcony’s decor. When she approached the counter to pay for them, the man there looked in her box, then at her — and laughed.

‘What do yo want these for?’ he asked. When she told him, he chuckled and just gave them to her. He thought they were worthless. That’s how much he knew. Thus it was that Susan made my Inukshuk.

Inukshuk in Vancouver

Inukshuk in Vancouver

‘What will you call him?’ She asked.
‘Jerry???? What kind of name is that for an Inukshuk?
‘He’s my Inukshuk.’
‘If you insist, but Jerry is no name for an Inukshuk.’

I didn’t care. Should my Inukshuk have an Inuit name like Agloolik? Or Uyarak? I wanted him to have a ridiculous but simple name. Understandably, Susan has never forgotten who Jerry is. This week she knew immediately who I was talking about when I told her his head was missing.

‘Look for it mom.’ she pleaded, ‘Maybe it fell downstairs. Check your neighbor’s deck.’

After a thorough search of the vicinity and being worried sick about Jerry’s errant head, I finally spotted it. There it sat quietly hiding under the miniature lilac tree. He could have at least helped me look, but just like a man, he ignored me and sat there quietly reading his newspaper.


Jerry under the lilac tree (photo by Wayne Liston)

Ah, the distress someone you love can give you….. Did he not realize it’s not that easy to replace a head?

Nikolai Gogol, 1809-52

Nikolai Gogol

The Russian writer Nikolai Gogol (1809-52) wrote a wonderful short story about a nose that went astray. One can possibly function without a nose, besides the nose did come back at the end. How can you even look for your head if it’s missing?



Well, life is back to normal. Jerry has his head. Susan and I are much relieved — and here he is in all his glory.


Jerry, my Inukshuk, head intact (Photo by Wayne Liston)


Lists, lists and more lists…..

Now where did I put that list?

Now where did I put that list?

I tell people I’m organized, but if truth be told, I sometimes lie. There are two kinds of people, truly organized people — and people like me, kind of pseudo-organized. Really organized folk make lists. I know that’s true, I know some — so I make lists also.
I diligently make lists

I diligently make lists

Lists are impressive and they can be helpful. The problem is, mine are all over the place, in files, drawers, in my computer, on counters and somewhere in that pile of papers on my desk which threatens to reach the ceiling if I don’t get to it soon.

Long after they can possibly do me any good, I find outdated grocery lists, diligently prepared and forgotten on the kitchen counter on the day when I actually go to the market. Still, I make them, and sometimes, I even invent lists that don’t exist, because if you’re a list-maker, people think you know what you’re doing whether you do or not. Bear that in mind……

I know it's here somewhere!

I know it’s here somewhere!

However, not all lists are positive. One friend recently showed up for morning coffee with his chin hanging down to his chest. The sparkle in his eyes had taken the day off and was so noticeably absent, I asked what was wrong. He had started a list of things he didn’t know anything about and was thoroughly depressed by the length of it.

“What a negative thing to do,” I exclaimed, “ Why not make a list of the things you DO know about instead.”

He’s an intelligent fellow who has plenty of knowledge and he quickly got over it — maybe the New Year had something to do with it. Goodness, if I were to make a list of the things I don’t know, it would take more space than this computer has room for. And then, what about all the things I don’t even know I don’t know anything about which I can’t even put on the list — see what I mean? I don’t want to go there.

I'm exhausted just thinking about all my lists

I’m exhausted just thinking about all my lists

It’s enough that I’ve made lists of books I want to read and places I want to go, friends I need to call and errands I need to run, doctors I should visit, people I want to write to, stuff I need to buy, and politicians I should complain to. I can’t always put my finger on them, but these lists do indeed exist.

Somewhere, I even have a special list of things I want to do before I die, and although I rarely get to actually do any of the items on that list, it would be good to look at it again — if I were able to find it. Maybe in 2015 I will…..
Happy New Year everyone!

Sometimes things won’t let us lose them

Muriel from BlogThere aren’t as many umbrellas in my closet as there used to be. Some friends constantly lose them. I never do, but I  give them away. The truth is I find it awkward to carry a walking stick and an umbrella at the same time, so I no longer use umbrellas.

Looks like he can manage both a walking stick and an umbrella, but I can't

Looks like he can manage both a walking stick and an umbrella, but I can’t

What I do, however, use and lose — are scarves, and a few are gone as a result. I have one scrarf, however, that has, to date, refused to be lost in spite of me.

During this holiday season, there are more lunches out with friends than usual, and that very scarf was admired by one friend when I removed it and draped it over the back of my chair the other day. Sure enough, I walked out into the street before I realized I had left it behind. When I went back to retrieve it, I swear I could hear it whisper “Not again!” Or, was that just a rustling sound….


My beautiful old scarf which doesn’t want to lose me…

The first time I lost it was years ago. It was at the Arts Club Theatre on Granville Island. I had left it behind one evening after seeing a play. After I realized it, I turned back and was allowed into the empty theatre to retrieve it. I was pleased I found it. I like it. It did not scold me — after all, it was only the first time.

Have you seen my scarf?

Have you seen my scarf?

The next time I lost it it really wasn’t my fault. It was extremely windy and the rain came down in torrents. I struggled for balance and my neighbour/friend Beryl and I giggled like schoolgirls when my umbrella blew inside-out.

We giggled like children when my umbrella blew inside out

We giggled like children when my umbrella blew inside out

Soaked and disheveled, we managed to reach the theatre just blocks away. Not until the movie was over did I notice my scarf was missing. A theatre employee helped me search for it. I didn’t find it anywhere near my seat, so he showed me numerous scarves people had turned in, but none was mine. I was disappointed…..

“Let’s walk home exactly the way we came,” I suggested — it was a long shot.

“It was so wet and windy, even if you did lose it in the street, it would have blown far away by now,” responded Beryl, ever the pragmatist. Besides, we had planned to go back another way so we could pass a coffee shop and after all, she probably was looking forward to that.

“I know, I know, but….”

Beryl had to be right. I began to feel foolish as we walked and was in the middle of apologizing to her when we spotted something in the middle of the road. I stopped. She read my mind.

“It’s not your scarf. It’s a dirty rag.” She was sure and I believed her. Her vision was better than mine, but I still had to step off the curb, walk over to it and poke it, pick it up and study it and…whaddayaknow, it was my lovely scarf, looking anything but lovely right then.

It was soaked and I could feel it trembling with fear and cold. Car tires had whizzed by on either side the whole time we were at the movie. It was so lonely and scared and wet and miserable and dirty, I thought I heard it sigh with relief when I picked it up to carry it home — at arms length because it was dripping. I wondered if it could be salvaged at all.

This poor little guy isn't happy, but we enjoyed the rain

This poor little guy isn’t happy, but we didn’t mind the rain, especially when I found my scarf

Later, I’m sure it gurgled with pleasure when I dunked it into a sink full of warm, sudsy water. “Ahhhh!” Happily, it was not damaged in any way and fully recovered from the trauma.

Serendipity? Perhaps. I didn’t want to lose that scarf and I think it didn’t want to lose me. Sometimes things just aren’t ready to leave us and they insist on returning. Like that chicken did years ago in Los Angeles. But, that’s another story.

I wish you all a healthy and wonderful 2014. Thank you for reading my blog.