From Cash Flow to Ice Floe

The $15 bungalow Mom and Dad bought half a century ago.... My parents purchased our Edmonton bungalow in 1963 for $15. My wife, Kate (who monitors me far too closely) read my note on our computer screen. “Fifteen dollars? You’ve lost it again,” she said.

My wife, Kate, read my note on our computer screen. “Fifteen dollars?  You’ve lost it again,” she said.

The $15 bungalow Mom and Dad bought half a century ago...

The $15 bungalow Mom and Dad bought half a century ago…

“I used accelerated depression, incorporating break-even statistics.”

Kate sorted through notes we had scribbled to ourselves. “Look, here’s the 1961 deed. Your parents paid $15,000 for this place,” she said.

“So I missed a zero or two. And, speaking of zeroes, that’s all we have in the bank. Our mortgage and credit card debt is eating us alive.  We need money.  Let’s sell this crib.”

“We can’t move,” Kate said.

“Why not?”

“Because your short-term memory is burnt out, Honey.”

“What a bummer,”  I said. 

“It’s not so bad. Your long-term memory fires on eight cylinders. Since the bathroom is still where it was 50 years ago, you’re always able to find it.”

“And I’ve just found a brilliant idea in my old gray matter.  We can raise lots of cash if we build a ‘garage apartment’ in our backyard.”

apt garage 4 wp

                                A monster garage-apartment a block from our home

“Nope. We’re zoned for residential structures only,” Kate said.

“The city changed the bylaws to deal with all the new arrivals. The authorities are encouraging residents to build garages, then hang apartments above them.”

“Who lives in a garage?” Kate asked.

“Hordes of newcomers — pickpockets, religious fanatics, single mothers, divorced dads. Thousands of grad students. They’d pay to sleep in a dumpster this close to the U of A.”

My wife looked out the window − “Lord!” said Kate. “Belgravia’s crammed with mile-high garages.  Curious.”

“Progress, Darling. It’s hard for you to recall the good old days because your long-term memory is on the blink. But as you say it’s not so bad. Your short-term memory allows you to monitor me 24-7.”

“Say we put up a hideous garage-apartment and sell it … where will we live, Mr. Long Term Memory?” asked Kate.

“On the road, Ms Short Term Memory.  On the sea.  In the air … a last grand  holiday. When the cash runs out, we’ll hop an ice floe and sail into the sunset.”

“Cash flow to ice floe?” she said. “Your break-even strategy?”

“We had a great run. Now we have just enough short- and long-term memories to make one fairly good brain. With  luck we’ll pull off a final trip of a lifetime,” I said.

Kate leafed through a brochure on South Pacific cruises…


“How are you going to remember where the shower is if we leave this place?”  she asked.

“Cruise ships have thousands of bathrooms. You trip over one every time you walk into your cabin.”

Kate smiled. I sensed she was on board. God love her. 

Our remaining golden years should be a blast, thanks to Edmonton’s new bylaws for hideous garage apartments, desperate U of A students, greedy developers and a linked pair of half-working brains −

kate jaron sunset

I felt a call from nature. Now, where was that damn bathroom?

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Jaron Summers wrote dozens of primetime television and radio programs, including those for HBO, CBS, ACCESS TV and CBC. He conceived the TV and Film Institute of Canada. Funded by the University of Alberta and ITV, Jaron ran the Institute for 12 years, donating his services for a decade.

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