The Rockwood Files: A Half-Baked Idea

By Gwen Rockwood, mama of 3

Three days ago I sat on the floor to play with our 18-month-old and noticed how she sometimes wrinkles up her nose when she thinks something is funny. “That would be a good picture,” I thought. In that second, it hit me. That lightning bolt thought that pierces through to your core and sends you running.

“The camera, the camera,” I said as I jumped up and ran past Tom toward the garage door. “Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Please no.”

>When we got outside on the driveway, I saw the camera sitting in a lawn chair – just where I’d left it the day before. It would have been fine, except for the massive rain storm that had just ended a few minutes before that dreaded discovery. My camera was half-submerged in rainwater that had pooled in the seat of the lawn chair.

Tom went over and picked it up, but I didn’t want to see what I’d done. I dropped my face into my hands and immediately felt tears come. I walked back into the house, sat down and cried for doing something so stupid. From the kitchen, Tom called out “Maybe it’s okay, honey. Let me just work on it.” He laid it on the kitchen counter and began performing open-camera surgery – removing the soggy memory card and slippery batteries. He loaded in new batteries, turned it on and it tried to sputter to life. Then the orange power light faded and went black. My camera flat-lined and it was my fault.

I know it’s silly to cry over a camera, but the bitter irony was more than I could take. The camera was only a year and a half old and was a Christmas present from Tom. I had researched which camera I wanted for months before he bought it for me. I’d read online reviews and quizzed lots of camera salespeople. I’ve always imagined that one day I’ll take a photography class and get better at snapping day-to-day shots of the kids. So the camera was a big deal to me, and it was the most expensive one I’d ever owned. I even bought fancy lens cloths and a case for it so it wouldn’t get scratched or wet. (Note the bitter, stinging irony.)

But the carrying case doesn’t do much good when it’s inside and the vulnerable camera is left outside in a lawn chair in a summer monsoon. I felt sick at my stomach – as if I’d just taken $350 and flushed it away.

My kids don’t see me cry much, so my sudden reaction startled them. Six-year-old Adam stuck close by his dad’s side as he worked on the camera and called out to me from the kitchen operating table. “It’s okay, Mom. Me and Dad are fixin’ it. We’re good at fixin’ things. Don’t worry, okay?”

Meanwhile 4-year-old Jack was busy trying to fix my heart. From the moment the first tear fell, he stayed by me with his hand on my back, rubbing it and whispering to me, “It’s okay, it’s okay. You’ll be okay, Mama” – the same words he’s heard from me after countless “ouchies.” If this situation had a silver lining, it was seeing how my little boys had grown into a bigger sense of compassion.

After a few minutes, I pulled myself together. We let the camera drain all day, and the next day I took it to a camera shop. The clerk said there was an expensive drying kit that might work but typically water damage or submersion means the end of the road for most cameras. So I swallowed the hard lump of disappointment and stuck the dead camera back in my purse.

Later that night while making dinner, I noticed the oven was on and peeked inside. There on a cookie sheet was my camera, baking in the convection oven at 170 degrees. “Tom, why are you baking the camera?” I asked. “Well, we’ve never tried that convection feature and I figured, at this point, it couldn’t hurt.” After an hour of baking, he took it out, half expecting to see a pile of melted plastic.

We let it cool during dinner and then popped in fresh batteries. He hit the power button, and the familiar orange light flashed to life and stayed strong. We took a few shots, loaded them onto the computer and they were fine. Unbelievable. That desperate last ditch effort resurrected a drowned camera that was headed toward an early electronics grave. For all I know, there may be internal injuries that cause the camera to conk out again tomorrow. But for now it’s snapping pictures as good as the day we bought it.

Tom and I aren’t great in the kitchen, but here’s our most successful recipe to date: Ingredient: One soggy camera that experts say is likely ruined. Lay camera on baking sheet and place in convection oven for one hour at 170 degrees. Cool thoroughly. Insert batteries. Snap, serve and enjoy.

Not bad for a half-baked idea.

1 Comment

  1. I have left my camera out all night on a lawn chair too! Don’t feel bad about that! I was concerned with my little one at the moment, not the camera. Until the next morning when I’d realized where I’d left. Fortunately, it only had dew drops on it, it did not storm over night. I was still worried I’d thrown $400 down the drain and knew my husband would be annoyed. I am a lucky one but certainly understand your panic & heart ache!

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