inkformation v. 1

portmanteaus are pretty much my favourite, so i bring you a new blog-feature. ink-formation. get it? ink/information? GROAAAAAAN

ok, now that we have that over with, i wanted to share a few of my tattoos with you, specifically the ones i have gotten for other people.


is a coffee cup that says FRED. it’s kinda silly; it’s for my super-goofy grandpa z (mom’s dad). his name is harold, but he calls everyone fred cause he thinks it’s funny. when i was living in the us, he was diagnosed with cancer and for some time was refusing treatment. i kind of panicked and thought i’d never see him again; but then he caved and got the tumour removed and was fine (no chemo necessary!) and since then we have had some nice visits.

the reason i chose a coffee cup was that he has always had this warm grandpa smell of coffee and cigarettes. obviously (i hope) i wouldn’t get a tattoo of a cigarette, so coffee it was.


(hah, i’m even wearing the same shirt in the photos! crazy coincidence, since they were taken something like 3 years apart)

the second is a strawberry for my grandma w (dad’s mom). i spent a lot of time with her growing up; my parents split up early, and my dad and his parents live near eachother, so they were kind of automatic babysitters. i have fond memories of long summer afternoons with my grandma in her giant garden, picking strawberries, peas, raspberries, carrots, etc. i remember searching for kittens and for eggs under hens; holding tiny chicks in my hands until they fell asleep; feeding the sheep, checking on ewes and lambs; her putting my hair in a bun before ballet every week; watching her strong hands peel vegetables; being spoiled by her getting our favourite kinds of ice cream and letting us have some every day after school if we wanted.

my sweet babushka-wearing grandma was diagnosed with alzheimer’s disease maybe six or seven years ago. she’s progressed fairly slowly, in that the time between diagnoses and death averages seven years. she’s still living at home, but won’t be for much longer. she’s really cheerful even though she’s pretty much oblivious to everything around her and can’t follow conversations. it’s painful to accept that she has slipped away but i have had a few precious moments with her. because her mind was in the past, she shared some stuff with me about working on the farm after my dad was born. although i spent much of my childhood with her, in many ways we had a surface relationship. i didn’t, and still don’t, know a tonne about her past, so it was a real gift to find out a little more before she slipped back into whatever reality she inhabits.

it feels like my grandma is already gone, even though her body is still here. i got this tattoo to keep the good memories of her alive and not buried by the more recent sad ones.


(and unlikely to be the last dedication) is a lady gouldian finch for my good friend vanessa. it is colourful and grumbledy, just like her.  unfortunately, it’s impossible to photograph the entire bird at once due to the curve of my small arm, but let me assure you it has a beautiful blue-and-green tail wrapping around my wrist.

vanessa has been a really important part of my life for something like six years. she has been such a solid, wonderful friend since we met. when she finds people she likes, she kind of adopts them as her friend and i’m so lucky to be a recipient of her intentions. for most of our friendship, we have lived in different cities, and now that we’re in the same place it’s a real treat.

she always bosses me into taking photos that turn out incredible. she makes me laugh so hard (she has this polished vulgarity that kills me) and gives me great advice when i need it, even if it’s a kick in the ass. she’s wonderfully direct. she has great style and always looks well put together. she’s so smart, has an incredible vocabulary, eclectic tastes and is such a talented artist. we have long been planning to get a tattoo together but nothing suitable has ever occurred to us. when i started working on adding birds to my left arm in 2008 i knew i’d add a piece for her. she is irreplaceable and such a gift in my life. we have had some wonderful times shopping, looking at art, painting our nails and taking photos together. i am so looking forward to many more!

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