Tuesday, 9 June 2015

On Ink Blots and Memoirs

It is inevitable that I will get black ink blotches on things.  Fabric things.  It's only a matter of time and really likely to be a very short time.  I am occupied today in trying to get a black ink blotch off the ratty old bedspread I use to cover my even rattier sofa.  What is the point?  I should get a new sofa but I keep saying I will get this ancient one refreshed and recovered and that never happens.  I have other things to do like writing and dropping my pens on it.

Apparently it is not my day, as something has gone wrong with my camera and I have no idea what.  My knowledge and skills with this camera are about equivalent to what I know about using my macbook.  Limited.  The camera is not saving any photos I take except the last one and no photos, including the last one will load from camera to computer.  It is possible I have inadvertently changed some sort of setting but I am clueless.  There were dozens of lovely pictures of Miss Mathilda in the sunshine, posing with her toys and generlly being gorgeous but they are gone so I have none to share here.

I am, however, a glass half full sort of person so  today I focus on the great phone chat I had with my far away brother, the beautiful sunny day, and the potential for me to go and get some ice cream this evening.  I have been craving ice cream for two days now so clearly something must be done and I am the woman to do it!

                                I leave you with a short memoir piece.


I had never seen Grandma in the water.  It was true that I had a vague understanding that on pleasant spring weekends, early in the morning, she and Grandpa went fishing, on some lake I had never seen, in an aluminum boat I could not really picture them sitting in.  She wore a skirt to go fishing, that I knew, because she wore a skirt to do everything.  Weeding the garden, french-slicing green beans with the largest knife I had ever seen, cooking, cleaning, walking the dogs, shopping for groceries or entertaining her two grandchildren, Grandma always wore a navy blue gaberdine skirt, navy blue low heeled pumps and a button up blouse, perhaps a cardigan if it were cold.  She had fluffy white hair which she compared to a dandelion seed, startling blue eyes and lots of wrinkles.  I thought she was beautiful and looked just as a Grandma should.   She was around seventy but if you’d asked me I might have said eighty.  Few seven year olds have a good grasp of adult ages, especially once grey hair is involved.  It was on a warm summer day, while having the care of her two grandchildren for two weeks, that Grandma, in a green shirtwaist dress that was a rare departure from the blue skirt, took my younger brother and me fishing at the wharf.

We had our own child-sized fishing rods and movement inhibiting life vests, the orange canvas type with a keyhole shape you popped your head through.  For some reason, perhaps because it was an easy way to transport them, my brother and I had to wear these life vests for the duration of the ten minute walk from Grandma’s house to the wharf.  I was mortified and hoped nobody from school would see me.  It was too much to ask that nobody at all witness what to me felt like the equivalent of the cone-collar of shame for a dog, but somehow we arrived at the wharf not having encountered anyone I knew.  Then came the horror of the worms.  Worms, apparently dug out of the garden earlier, were to be applied to the fishing hook.  They were to be impaled while wriggling in protest and their slimy writhing bodies had to be touched.  None of this appealed to me but this is where younger brothers can come in handy. 

It didn’t take too long for worse things to happen.  There was a tug on my fishing line, which meant something living, something with goggly eyes and slimy scales was at the other end.  I thought of picture book stories where disappointed fishermen caught old boots and wished that such stories could be true.   Somehow, despite my complete lack of desire to reel in whatever might be there, an excitedly hopping younger brother and a calm, capable grandmother combined their energies to land my fish.   It came flopping and protesting onto the wooden wharf, an eel-like fish, long and thin, an image that is forever printed in my memory.  We didn’t keep it.  Somehow this eel-fish was quick returned to its watery home and with a splash Grandma had joined it.

I knew, if ever I knew anything, that grandmothers did not belong in the ocean.  I knew that if they disappeared under the water completely, followed by a succession of  tissues escaping the various places in which they were previously tucked and floating across the surface of the water, that this would be the worst thing that had yet happened that day.  Or maybe ever.  Hours later, or perhaps seconds, Grandma’s head broke the surface of the water, wet, white and with her glasses still in place.  “Grandma,” I exclaimed. “You are in the water!”

“Have you still got your shoes?”  I asked.  She had.

She tread water calmly while I was frantically hatching plans, action must be taken, Grandma must be rescued and I, as the eldest grandchild, had to ensure it.  “I will run home and get Grandpa,”  I suggested.

“No!” She dismissed that idea quickly.

“There are people, I can hear them on a boat over there. I will go and get them.”

“Don’t you dare!” She said even more emphatically.

She continued to bob gently, arms waving gracefully in the water.  I could see about half of her and noted that her dress cooperatively stayed down.  Having spent much of my childhood thus far wearing dresses to school and to play in, I knew how uncooperative they could be and how in an instant they could be up around your neck from too much windy weather or too much hanging upside down on the monkeybars.  I understood the risks that were the issue here, to her modesty as well as to her life.  More unknown quantities of time passed and then a young man appeared in a row boat.  He had previously been at enough of a distance as to not quite register in our peripheral vision or our consciousness but suddenly he was there, climbing out of the rowboat and onto the wharf and then with few words, pulling our sodden grandmother out of the water.  There were a few more brief words and then he was gone, back into his rowboat and disappearing back into that periphery where the superheroes wait until next they are needed.


  1. I'm not sure what's up with your camera ... my only suggestion is to do what I always do when in doubt ... google it. Good Luck :0)
    Poor Grandma!!

  2. That was beautiful! Your language is so lovely, I felt like I was really there. Also kind of imaging my own grandmother falling into the ocean. It would be weird.

  3. wonderful summer story!!!
    and it reminds me of my own grannies - both very good swimmers who took a dip whenever possible, icy waters or not! but always with the head up to protect the elegant curls :-)
    sunny greetings! xxxx

  4. Hope you get your camera sorted out real quick ... pity about the photos of Miss M.

    Lovely story!!! Super Heroes come in all shapes and sizes!

  5. You might have a dodgy memory card - or - just check to see if you've moved the tiny latch on the side of the card. You might have moved it to the locked position which would stop anything being saved on it (I only know this because it happened to me lol). If you have a spare card or if someone can lend you one then you can check to see if your original card has gone squiffy.

  6. Shawna, what a BRILLIANT piece of writing! I saw and felt every detail, your grandma, you, little brother, fish, the disaster, the superhero appearing and saving and disappearing. Just absolutely wonderful!!!

    And isn't it true - our grandmothers did everything wearing skirts and dresses? I don't think my grandma even owned one pair of pants. I think about pants lately, and how I'm not interested in them these days. Never say never, but I'm growing back into a dress/skirt person I think.

    I can ask Justin what he thinks the issue with your camera might be, if you want, shoot me an email with details, and I will just show it to him.

    Much love to you, my talented friend! xxxx


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