Saturday, May 29, 2010

Love 'Em and Leave 'Em

Today I attended an estate sale in a mansion 1/2 block from San Francisco Bay. Although it was within easy walking distance of my home, I do not live in such a place. The views from its high vaulted windows, framed in wrought iron, were of the postcard scenery for which this city is famous: the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, the Marin headlands, and the bay clotted with weekend sailboats of every color.

There were many huge and tasteful pieces of furniture, none of which I could afford or have room for, but I was enchanted with an English enamel walking stick decorated with flowers in my favorite colors. What is more, it was the perfect height for me, which is unusual. I love canes because they are often handmade, carved with fanciful animal heads in beautiful woods. I always admire them in antique stores but do not own any. I have often thought they would be a delightful item to collect.

The one I saw today was affordable, also unusual, but I am superstitious that owning a cane would cause me to need one to get around. At present I do not, although I have osteoarthritis (maybe) and bursitis in both hips, plus fibromyalgia. Thus far, my determination to stay active has made navigational aids unnecessary. I would like to keep it that way.

I reluctantly placed the beautiful cane back in its place next to the grandly carved wooden banister and strolled home along the bay, practicing the air guitar version of walking with a cane. They say practice makes perfect, so if the time ever comes that I need one, my muscle memory will already possess the skills. All I will need to do is choose my weapon.


TechnoBabe said...

I've always had a thing for canes too. Some beautiful canes and some artsy ones too. I have seen so many of them and have wondered what I would with one so didn't buy one but am attracted to them nonetheless. I hope you read the Sunday roast interview. Hugs.

TaraDharma said...

When younger I thought canes were an affectation. Little did I know how useful they really are. I have a plain jane cane from the drug store, which I sometimes use when my arthritic knee flares up. I really should invest in something more stylish.

Cloudia said...


Aloha from Waikiki, Friend

Comfort Spiral

Jocelyn said...

I had no idea you were fending off such ailments--esp. the fibromyalgia. Who knew my respect for you could grow?

Personally, I would've found a way to rationalize the purchase of the cane, such as needing to, er, use it as a weapon.

meno said...

Oh. I wish you had bought it and i hope you will never need one.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Thank you for mentioning me in your awesome interview and saying such lovely things. It means so much to me.

I guess when we need canes, we'll figure out what to do with them. Meanwhile, we could each buy one and have fencing tournaments.


I thought they were an affectation, too, because they are always props in English drawing room comedies. If you want an interesting one, check out antique stores where they can often be found cheaply, and are likely to be unique.


Lucky you live Hawaii. Sigh.


I am normally the Queen of Rationalization, but it was too risky. Now if they had only had a cute little umbrella that becomes a bayonet with a click of the switch...


If I'm still thinking about it tomorrow, I might go back. It's nearby, and I doubt there are many takers for a short person's flowered cane.

nick said...

I don't remember any of my family needing walking sticks, they must all have been remarkably fit. Even my 88 year old mother has no need of one. A bit of a shame when you can get really beautiful ones like the ones in your pic.

furiousBall said...

hold out for a cane with GPS, trust me on this one

Anonymous said...

A canine post! Arf, arf!

Amy said...

This post was so thoughtfully written, and I love the end, "All I will need to do is choose my weapon."

Here's hoping you won't need it for a long, long time.

Jo said...

I haven't been visiting my favorite blogs lately, and I have missed a few of your wonderful posts...! Goodness.

Who is "anonymous" and what is/she smoking? Drinking? Snorting? You need to get yourself a site meter and ... um ... smoke that person out.

When Janey (the mirror lady) passed away, I noticed she had a beautiful, exquisite cane in her apartment. It looked sort of lonely, like Tiny Tim's crutch.

I hope it will be a very (!!!) long time before you need a cane. :-)

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It sounds as if you lucked out genetically. I don't know of anyone in my family who needed one either.


I could use that now, as long as it doesn't talk to me in an artificial intelligence voice.


Cane-ine. Sorry I spelled it wrong. (Didn't we already have this conversation?)


Thank you for your kind wishes. Having one wouldn't be the same if I actually needed it.


Maybe Janey's cane is lonely for its friend, the mirror. I wonder what became of it.

I second your good wishes and Amy's!

mrwriteon said...

And you will choose well when (or if) the time ever comes. Of course, there is precedent in your town, because Bat Masterson plied the newspaper trade in SF for a while, I understand. The cosmetic cane is a kind of cool affectation once taken to by toffs in the UK, including very young ones.If anyone could carry it off, you could.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I have never heard that Bat Masterson lived in SF like Mark Twain, but rather Canada, Texas, Colorado, Kansas and eventually NYC, where he died at his newspaper desk. Perhaps I'm misinformed.

Canes as accessories are very Oscar Wilde, don't you think?

Mama Zen said...

That superstition makes complete sense to me!

mischief said...

I think you need a dancing cane. I want to name a famous dancer who dances with a cane but I don't know how without this sounding ridiculous like I want you to dance in black and white with a player-piano like Charlie Chaplin. Oops, there's a name. There's gotta be someone a whole lot sexier. The point is, if we assume it is a dancing cane, ie: an accessory, rather than a walking stick, can't we then indulge this little hunger? ...

Brown said...

Since you used the word "weapon", I'm assuming you're thinking about one with a sword in it. I mean, who needs mace when you have sword?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Zen mama,

Thank you! I love it when someone understands me, which is not always easy.

So happy you came by my blog.


You don't think Charlie Chaplin was sexy? I think Fred Astaire did a dance sequence in something with a cane and he moved like liquid velvet. What I need is a cane that can dance better than I can and make me look good.


I wasn't, actually, but what a good idea! Surely a bayonet cane can't be that hard to come by. Mace is so ... last season. (Says she who covets antique walking sticks.)

Katy said...

My Great Aunt Lady May used a cane to get around, and I was always playing with it. When she died she left the cane to me in her will(I was 15 then). I still have it, made from oak with blue bonnets carved into it.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

If you said it was for decor, not for practical use, then the purchase would have been justified...


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...


What a treasure! And now that you have a cane, you will never need one and can simply enjoy it for its memories and its beauty.


Maybe I'll buy 7 or 12 of them and hang them on the wall

Meggie said...

I have been tempted to buy one or two- just in case. Then, like you, I feel it would be tempting fate, perhaps.

secret agent woman said...

Oh. I think I'd grab the next one I saw that called out to me. Even if it never does anything more than stand proudly along a wall or bannister.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It's too risky. :)


You are clearly a woman who lives dangerously.

Kathy M. said...

Hello. I found you thanks to an online interview with Technobabe, who recommended your post, Living with Lewis, as one of the most significant she's read.

I was greatly moved by it. Alzheimer's runs in my husband's family, so every time I read about caring for someone with the disease makes me think that this could be my future. But I don't dwell on it. Like you, I've learned to live in the moment. And in this moment, my husband's mind is sharp.

I was struck, too, how living with someone with Alzheimer's seems to require many of the same skills as living with an active alcoholic. As a member of Al-Anon, I imagine that if that becomes our reality I will at least understand powerlessness, work to practice gratitude and strive for acceptance.

More than anything, your post fills me with hope, because you have managed to face this disease with so much grace and dignity. I can only hope to do half as well.

Thank you for sharing.

Bruce said... know, there are a lot of other reasons to have a cane...

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Thank you so very much for your lovely comments, and your visit. I hadn't realized the similarities between caregiving someone with Alzheimer's and living with an alcoholic, but the feelings of powerlessness are certainly a common ground.

I sincerely hope you will never have to deal with this illness, but what you reveal about yourself here makes me certain that if necessary, you will manage to do so with great grace and dignity.


It's the perfect weapon, I see that now. How could I have been so shortsighted?

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Bruce has a point; you could have whacked that girl with the big dog...

...just sayin'... ;D

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I would really prefer a flying umbrella like Mary Poppins, but canes do have benefits. I always thought that someday when I was very, very old, I would have a big ugly English walking stick. I wonder if I'm old enough yet, and if I'll know when I am.