Mr. Holmes and Me

Mr._Holmes_posterby cheri sabraw

I arrived home last night at 9:30 pm after taking in the film Mr. Holmes, the story of Sherlock Holmes’ final years in Sussex, England, where he struggled with memory loss as he tried (successfully as we would learn) to recreate his last detective story for the young boy, Roger, his housekeeper’s son.

Although the multi-themed Mr. Holmes might take the viewer in many directions—beekeeping, dementia, loneliness, love, and nature—it is Sherlock Holmes’ method of detection that captivated me.

During the film, I leaned over to my husband and reminded him of the importance of detail in life. Whether he interpreted my whispered observation as a true reaction to the film or as a personal petition, I do not know.

Holmes’ attention to detail is at the epicenter of his sleuthing. In Mr. Holmes, the wasp, the scent of a woman’s perfume, and a glove all lead to his cracking the mystery. He reminds us that missing the meaning of a detail can lead us down the path of uncertainty and fear.

Consider my own detective story, the Mystery of My Right Eye, a vignette that occurred last night after I went to bed still relishing in the beauty of the film I had just enjoyed.

Early this morning, perhaps about 4 am, a throbbing right eye brought me from a deep sleep to consciousness.  Even the moisturizing drops I blinked into my sore eye did not assuage the minor but consistent irritation, which plagued me until the dawn broke and the blue jays began their squawking.

I padded into my bathroom and snapped on my lighted mirror, sure that by illuminating and magnifying my eye, the reason for my pain would be apparent. That my eye was not red surprised me. Is my vision still in tact, I wondered?

I put on my glasses to perform a test of my vision and walked downstairs in my slippers to fetch a cup of coffee, sure that a more alert brain would remind my eye to focus. I sat down on my sofa, and began my own optometric exercises, first opening one eye and focusing on an object and then closing it and refocusing.

Were the yellow begonias out on the deck as boastfully clear as they usually were?IMG_3067

The vision in my right eye was slightly blurred and I will confess to momentary panic. This less-that-logical approach to problem solving would not go well were Sherlock Holmes on my shoulder.

Back up to my bathroom and that mirror.

There on the sink rested my contact lens case, a bright red ladybug in full spotted regalia. Although not a wasp, it was a clue. It was still open.

Had I removed both of my lenses last night and tucked them into their baths after returning from the show? Of course I had. There they rested on a tissue, dried-up silicone hydrogels, now curling up from the air of the night. This is my routine and there was my evidence.

Mr. Holmes, known for his ability to take a clue to its logical conclusion and solve the mystery, entered my mind.

Would Mr. Holmes have approved of my slowly encroaching fear about an asymmetrical vision problem and a painful eye? No. Stay with logic, he seemed to mysteriously transmute.

I looked with my left eye into my right. No lens, only pain.

Now was the time to apply the Holmesian abductive reasoning: examine the detail and from there draw my hypothesis from which the premises may not necessarily lead to conclusion.

The two contact lenses I wore to the movie lay on the tissue.

I still had a pain in my right eye.

When I put on my glasses, the vision in my right eye was blurred.


Could another contact lens be in my right eye?

I looked again. Nothing.

At that moment, in frustration and I suppose, in reverence to Sherlock Holmes, I put my fingers to my right eye to pull the imaginary lens from it and in doing so, I retrieved a contact lens, one that had been heretofore invisible.

The mystery solved: I had put two contact lenses into my right eye before leaving for the film, the film about detail, memory, and pain.












About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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28 Responses to Mr. Holmes and Me

  1. Your solution was my immediate thought because Cori had the same situation, except in both eyes. Happy mystery solved.

  2. shoreacres says:

    I never had soft lenses, but it sounds as though you do. I occasionally would put two hard lenses in one eye, but I knew it the moment I did it, and corrected the situation. There never was a mystery to solve.

    I do like that emphasis on detail, though. A pile of little things can make up a very big thing. I’ve sometimes wondered if so-called “woman’s intuition” isn’t simply a matter of paying more attention to detail. Even details that aren’t immediately important get tucked away in the mind, until, suddenly a new conclusion forms — apparently from “nothing.”

  3. Cheri says:

    I’ve been thinking a great deal about detail in the last year: how important small details can be. I’ve been focusing on details which is one of the reasons that this movie appealed to me. As far as your observation about women’s intuition, I tend to agree. A great writing exercise I used to have my students practice is to pick an object and drill down–not just a description but every detail that came to their minds about the object. Then we moved to the opposite sex….boy were they interested in that activity.

  4. Richard says:

    The doubly corrected vision in your right eye accounts for the blurred begonia and for the double image of the lens case contents.

    You had to remove your glasses to look at your right eye with your unassisted left eye and were thus unable to see the offending lens, though had you examined your right eye with your right eye you may have seen it.

    It is as well your third eye was fully functional.

  5. Christopher says:

    If there’s one thing I learned from your posting, it’s the word, “abductive” – a word I’d never before heard – and therefore had to look up – despite that I’ve read all of Sherlock Homes at least twice, and that I took a first year university course in Logic some decades ago.

    It all goes to show, don’t it?………….

  6. Cheri says:

    Well, thankee, Christopher.
    The older I become, the less I understand.
    One of my comforts is the intricacy of vocabulary, an unending study, right?

    • Christopher says:

      OK, Cheri……yeah, so……..I wanted to find out why I’d never before come across “abductive” (or “abduction”- as used in Logic).

      In *this extract* I found this:

      “………most modern logicians have preferred to continue the centuries-long school tradition of recognizing just the two types of inference that are used in logical proof, deduction and induction………Only the relatively recent, growing interest in the work of Peirce (Charles S. Peirce) has awakened a theoretical interest in abduction among specialists. It is not surprising that the logical term abduction has not become an everyday word………”

      “……..In current informal usage, ‘abduction’ is often (unwittingly) referred to by either of its antonyms, referred to by either of its antonyms ‘deduction’ and ‘induction’ or by the hypernym ‘inference’ which can refer to any one of the three…..”

      “…….Deduction is also commonly used about induction. The wobbly oral transmission of this terminology is epitomised by the recent innovations replacing the traditional infer vb. and inference n. with inference vb. “infer” and inferencing n. “inference”, mostly equivalent to abduce and abduction At the same time, in technical usage deduction and induction continue to be used in their distinct traditional senses, as does inference…..”.

      “……..Most dictionaries ignore the confused informal usage (this is true also of the usage-oriented AHD); they provide only the technical definitions of deduction and induction and lack a lemma for Peirce’s abduction a term he coined to emphasize its relationship with deduction and induction and to give prominence to this neglected but essential mode of inference……..”

      In short, “abduction” (“abductive”) has only quite recently become common currency among logicians. This explains why I’d never heard of it, since my course in Logic that I’d spoken of, was in the 1960’s – before “abduction” was rediscovered for purposes of Logic (as opposed to its usual meaning as a synonym for “kidnapping”).

      While reading through the passages I quoted above, I came across two more words I’d never before encountered: “lemma” and “hypernym”, and had to look them up.

      Since I feel sure that “lemma”, “hypernym”, and not to speak of “abductive”, come as trippingly off your tongue in quotidian conversation, as would the four-letter profanities off the tongues of capillary-nosed bar-drinkers, I’m now even more in awe of you.

      • Richard says:

        Deductive and mathematically inductive reasoning are the only proofs, living as they do in their own axiomatic little world. The other methods of reasoning rely upon the supposition “I am”. In my opinion I am … what’s your opinion, Christopher? (Not that your reply will tell me.)

      • Cheri says:

        Let me disabuse you of any beliefs about my expertise in logic. None. Nope. None. I did hear of “abduction” during my brief stint teaching across the bay last fall. I do know about Charles Saunder Peirce as my husband to a class on him several years ago. His writing about “true beliefs” had an impact on me. I do not know what “lemma” or “hypernym” mean and as always, appreciate all the interest and thought you bring to this blog.

      • Richard says:

        You and I sometimes travel in opposite directions round a hadron collider, Christopher, but you are resilient and never annihilate anyone.

        I agree with Cheri about the care and knowledge you bring care to every blog you comment on. There are aspects of your presentation and style I try, unsuccessfully, to emulate.

        You closed your blog Through a Dark Glassly, much to my disappointment. The fictional biographies there were extensive, superbly written, meticulously observant and deeply troubling. I never truly mastered them. You once told me that everything there is on Jeremy’s Books and Films. I have yet to discover where. Jeremy’s Books and Films is warm, welcoming, well read, sensitive and kindly responsive to your readers.

        I once mentioned on one of your blogs – I have forgotten the name – that I liked country music and you took the trouble to post an audio/video sample as a feature. It may have been a coincidence, but I don’t think so. What’s the name of the blog?

        Since Time Began is different again. Meticulous and careful, yes, but also funny, inventive and hugely entertaining.

        There is another blog as well, but I cannot for the life of me remember the name. What is it? It’s the one where you examine evidence for UFOs.

        • Cheri says:

          Richard, your comment made me wonder if I have missed a recent blog that Christopher is writing. What is the address to Since Time Began? And are you writing regularly? I enjoyed Jeremy’s Books and Films but also the one where your main character was an old man.

          • Christopher says:

            @Richard and Cheri – My brain is so fried that I can’t remember – in a way both of you apparently can – the names of the manifold blogs I’ve begun, then abandoned.

            Thank you for reminding me of them.

            As far as I can recall, I haven’t done any blogging for over a year. I may go back to it, but not quite yet.

            Meanwhile, I’ll just leave comments on “Notes Around the Block”. At least I’ll know someone’s reading me!!

  7. Cyberquill says:

    Two lenses in one eye? *facepalm*

  8. Cheri says:

    The lenses are very thin? I had too much on my mind? Trying to figure out how to attach a bottle of EVOO?

    • Cyberquill says:

      Best way to solve a problem is to leave your lenses out and look inward.

      • Cheri says:

        Good advice. My husband’s advice is never to wear contacts again. ( He tends to overstate things, having been a “judge” all his life. ) This type of parental guidance I firmly reject.

        • Cyberquill says:

          Even if the judge failed to bang his gavel at the conclusion of his “advice,” he may still hold you in contempt if you ever wear contacts again. In the interest of maintaining your matrimonial harmony, I’d strongly caution you against clinging to your lenses.

  9. bogard says:

    How coincidental! Butterfly lady and I saw Mr. Holmes while in Asheville last week and loved it. Have to admit that I did not see the detail-oriented aspect of Holmes’s approach. A little disturbing since I am a trained scientist/researcher. Go figure. Great insights, Cheri. Butterfly lady will enjoy your post. Hope you and the Judge are doing well this summer, and hello to him. Enjoyed all the posts from Italy.


    • Cheri says:

      Hello Bill!
      So wonderful to hear from you (and Butterfly Lady). We have thought of you particularly in the last two months as we have driven through a blistering hot Redding on our way to Portland to see the granddaughters (and of course, their parents). We are doing well this summer. Hizzoner continues to work at a feverish pace; I, on the other hand, continue to lounge (as I justly deserve after almost killing myself with work for the last 15 years!). Heading to Atlantic Canada at the end of the month. I’ll blog along the way. Kisses!

  10. Brighid says:

    Would the wino bear have anything to do with the lack of visionary clarity..
    f only contacts would help old age eyes, sigh.

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