While the Cat's Away ...

This week's episode is one of those 'By the time you read this, I will be ...' type of story. But don't panic! Nothing dramatic has happened; it's just that I am spending ten days over in Vancouver, on a family visit/reunion. The story this week though, is nothing to do with what is happening over in Vancouver. I want to talk about what is happening back in Ome!

Yes, in a turn of events that is completely new to me, my workshop in Ome is still 'open' while I am away. The two printer-trainees - Tsushima-san and Ishigami-san - are following a normal schedule, coming to the shop a few times during the week, to work on their printing projects.

Before I left, the three of us made a plan for the week, preparing projects that they would be able to do with a minimum of supervision. They won't be working on anything new and difficult during the time, but for the most part will be practicing things that they have already tried before. And as 'practice' is what they need the most of at this point in their training - and will for quite some time yet - my absence will not be any particular handicap to them. In fact, now that I think about it, I suppose they will enjoy a more peaceful and stress-free time, without Dave constantly looking over their shoulder and inspecting their work.

And that leads to another important point about this printing job. Because of the basic nature of the work - making duplications of a master copy - it is vitally important that the printer be constantly vigilant and self-critical. Each and every impression going onto each and every sheet has to be inspected carefully for any kind of deviation from that master copy. Anybody unable to do that could never become a good printer, so this in itself will be good practice for them. I am sure that they will try and produce the best work they can, if for no other reason than to be able to show it to me proudly when I return in a couple of weeks.

On the last day that we were working together before I left, the three of us had finished up the session and packed everything away before then coming upstairs to wash the brushes and hang them up to dry. I sat idly checking my email while the two of them did that job at the sink, chatting together as they worked. It was the strangest sensation! For just a while, the house was full of activity: water was running, doors banged, somebody's phone rang, and cheerful voices were talking across each other.

A few minutes later, they were gone, the house was silent again, and I sat there having the strangest kind of 'flashback'. It had felt just like my two daughters still lived here, noisily preparing and then leaving for school in the morning - a tumult of activity followed by sudden silence! These two ladies are not quite the same age as my girls - they are perhaps ten years older - but the similarity was uncanny.

Back when I was a 'daddy' I never left my girls alone while I flew off for business. And from their point of view, these two ladies have their own families to tend to, so they of course aren't going to miss me at all! But I am very much looking forward to inspecting the prints they will have made while I am away. That is, unless they have fooled around so much that nothing got done!


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