Our thornless blackberry canes are thriving, perhaps a little too enthusiastically. After the summer harvest, the Hubs and I pruned off many canes. I was hoping to do some basketweaving, but alas, there was not quite enough. Instead, I was able to wrangle the canes into wreaths frames. My hands got soooooo cramped and blistered. It’s a pretty thin and light wreath, but I was pleased with the results after a few weeks of drying. And now to make something with them…
I had fun with this piece a lot and it was definitely a step forward in my painting skills. This is a frame from a storyboard I had planned but I loved this frame so I decided to just… make it a full illustration. Enjoy!
I loved how last month everyone got into paying tribute to ‘If-Then-Else’ with me so I thought I would give you all a heads up that I plan on doing something similar this coming Tuesday (February 21) to celebrate the anniversary of the first time our favorite compact Persian sociopath graced our screens. (‘Relevance’ aired on February 21, 2013)
I’ll be posting my favorite stills of Shaw all day as well as Shaw-centric posts on my other blog. I’d love to make a day of reveling in all her badass glory.
So dig up your favorite Shaw posts or make some new ones!
Wandering, he walks up the spiral staircase, and stands in front of the gate of heaven, As he reaches out, the door opens and light spreads around, guided by an arrow. A girl led him by the hand, towards the stage.
Cats dont Dance (1997), The Great Mouse Detective (1986), Howl’s Moving Castle (2005), Tekkonkinkreet (2007), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), The Theif and the Cobbler (1995), Paprika (2006), Meet the Robbinsons (2007), The Prince of Egypt (1998), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Also: Akira, The Cowboy Anime movie, Metropolis (the Osamu Tezuka version) and Anything animated by Don Bluth, Satoshi Kon, and Richard Williams.
While the notoriety surrounding the recent wikileaks articles had died down considerably, both he and Claire wanted to preserve their privacy as long as they could. Only a small, trusted handful of Jamie’s close family and friends knew what had happened and Claire had only told Joe.
The press had no inkling thus far. Jamie bought a car seat and sometimes drove on days when he needed to transport Faith. If he and Claire were taking Faith on an outing together, they sometimes arrived separately. He’d also taken to wearing a beanie to cover his hair and often wore sunglasses. He refused to be too paranoid about it, the nip of winter was still occasionally in the air and he’d noticed that people tended to pay less attention when they were bundled up. His focus was on spending as much time as he could with Faith and getting to know Claire.
Jamie had seen or spoken with Faith every day, becoming familiar with her routine and Claire’s variable work schedule. He began to get a feel for his daughter’s moods and personality, the things she liked to eat, what interested her.
Mrs. Crooke was delighted that her early mornings and late evening hours were fewer and farther between with Jamie stepping in as he may to help Claire cover early morning drop offs and afternoon pick ups at the daycare centre and supper and bedtime when Claire had evening rounds. Mr. Crooke had just retired and they wanted to spend time together. Juggling schedules was a learning curve but they both made a real effort to accommodate one another; neither of them wanted to burst the fragile bubble they were currently existing within.
When Claire had an early call or Jamie late meetings, an unavoidable happenstance in each’s respective line of work, they would shift things around so Jamie could start his day with his daughter, instead of ending it. On those mornings, Jamie would skip his early run, getting to Claire’s while Faith was still asleep. Claire would bid him a quick good morning as she hurried off to get to the hospital.
Her not too subtle plan was clearly to throw he and Faith together as often as possible and build their bond. He didn’t mind and in repayment of such trust he did his best to pay attention to the things she thought most important for Faith and hope he’d be able to keep his actions consistent with hers.
Faith was especially adorable when she first awoke, her hair resembled a bird’s nest full of twisting strands, chirping away to herself as she did her best to make her bed and get herself dressed. He respected how Claire was fostering her sense of independence and responsibility. So while it would have been quicker for him to help her do certain tasks and speed her along, he didn’t rush in first thing and take over the morning chores. Instead, he’d wait until the chatting grew to an audible pitch before checking in on her.
Faith would squeal in delight on the mornings he popped his head in to greet her. Her smile, the best part of his day. He’d take stock of how far she’d gotten on her own. Then he’d lend her a hand to straighten the bed, pick up the remaining impedimenta strewn across the floor. Then they would put the finishing touches on the day’s ensemble. Sometimes tights would need to be rerouted, snaps realigned. Faith had very definite ideas of color and pattern matching, which he’d learned to, if not accept, then at least ignore.
“She picks her clothes out the night before and lays them on the bench near her toy box.” Claire had explained. “I used to buy things that all matched and try and keep the outfit together but gave that up soon enough. The pants will be in the wash or the sweater’s gone missing, or Faith wants to try something else with the tee shirt.”
Jamie didn’t say anything as he followed her around while she showed him where everything was kept and how it usually worked, but something must have shown on his face as he took in tomorrow’s ensemble of mismatched green hues. She gave him a rueful smile.
“It’s fine, she is learning to figure out what she likes. Better clashing clothing as a toddler than a terrible tattoo as a teen.” She sagely observed.
He’d responded with noncommittal, “Mmphm.”
The combinations could be somewhat arresting, at least to his eye. But, in all fairness, he’d never paid a lot of attention to what Jenny’s lassies wore.
Then again, he had two good eyes, did he not?
One day shortly thereafter, a morning both parents were booked, it was up to Mrs. Crooke to cover. Jamie had picked her up from daycare to find her in yellow and red striped pants and a neon pink and orange floral shirt. He snapped a picture of her and texted it to Claire, sans comment.
“Your way of saying she needs better parental guidance?” She texted right back.
“Never a chance.” He replied with an emoji of someone crossing his heart.
“Bright lad,” came the response, delighting Jamie.
By far the most difficult part of getting Faith ready in the morning had been the hair. When he tried to comb it out Faith would squirm and cry out when the comb hit a snag. Jamie was slightly traumatized by his first forays into being her stylist.
Claire had a deft touch and was able to ignore any protestations from Faith, brush never hesitating, simply getting what needed to be done done. Jamie thought that was the same pragmatic attitude that likely made her an excellent surgeon. Whether due to skill or familiarity, Faith seemed to tolerate it better from her than him.
After one particularly trying morning, in which Jamie gave up and shoved a hat onto her head instead of continuing a losing battle, he called Jenny. He’d never once heard his nieces complain or whine (nor had Ian come to think of it) and both of their lasses had hair longer that Faith’s.
“Please, tell me how? This morning there was a stramash like to wake the dead. I’m no’ going through it again, so what do ye know that ye havena seen fit to tell the rest of us?”
Jenny laughed but she knew that Jamie hated admitting defeat and worried he was hurting his daughter.
“Detangler,” she confessed promptly, “it’s sold in a wee bottle at the salon. It costs the earth but ye spray it on the hair before you comb and it takes care of most of it. As for the rest, divide the hair to sections, then take hold of one section at a time, grab the locks in one hand near the crown and hold tight wi’ the one hand whilst combing wi’ the other, it pulls less. Ye just slowly work the tines through and don’t pull down too hard.” She advised.
“Any other tips?” As long as he was already throwing himself upon his sister’s mercy, he thought he might as well go all in. Jenny hummed a little as she thought.
“She likes music?” Jamie mmhmed in the affirmative.
“Grab yer tablet and load it up with OK, Go videos, all of them, ye can’t go wrong. She’ll be nicely distracted until ye get the hang of it.”
Three mornings later, Jenny received a text from him.
“Blessings of Mary and Bride upon you, a miracle!” With a photo of Faith taken from behind her head, reflecting her face in the mirror, smooth, whole head with shiny ringlets aglow.
Half a minute later one more text, “Tho I canna taker her to the gym wi’ me. I’m scarrit what the lass might try!” With a picture of Faith mid-twirl in imitation of dancing on treadmills from Here It Goes Again and a big smile emoji.
The new morning hair protocol was such a hit, even Claire remarked upon it, praising him mightily. Jamie’s ears grew pink, perhaps he was getting a handle on this parenting thing after all.
Mornings were a rushed time of the day and perhaps that was why Jamie preferred afternoons and evening with Faith. He would leave the office, just a little earlier than usual in order to make the pick up and got to spend a few hours with her. While he had outfitted his own flat with enough child paraphernalia to keep Faith safe, more often than not, he’d bring her to Claire’s, letting himself into her flat with a spare key. Claire didn’t mind his being there and it was often much easier to keep Faith occupied on her home turf which allowed him to finish out his work day from Claire’s living room with minimal interruption.
On Claire’s later shifts, Jamie would prepare dinner with Faith. Claire laughed the first time she’d walked into the kitchen to see him in her “Kiss the Cook” frilly apron, a gag gift from Joe, who meant the kiss part to be aspirational but also knew how terrible her culinary skills were.
She’d framed the card that went with it and hung it near the stove. It read:
If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,
Your best chance is with a scalpel, not a spatula!”
Jamie kept using the apron, anyway. He liked the silly domesticity of it and it was, after all, hanging right there; it might as well get some use.
Living alone, Jamie rarely cooked but now he looked forward to it. He joked that he knew her kitchen much better than his own. Claire joked that he knew it better than she did, too and it was true.
Faith was curious about everything and willing to do her part, like her mother she was a doer and not a watcher. It was an easy way to spend time together. Claire had a colorful step ladder that Faith used to reach sink and countertop.
She would climb up to stand next to him and mix and stir and wash vegetables. They experimented with vegetables and sauces, different kinds of grains. He’d rarely given much thought to planning a meal but Faith gave him a great incentive to do so. Besides, she made it fun. If she liked something, you knew it, if she didn’t her lips would pucker and sounds of protest would quickly emerge.
Any veg that could be dipped apparently passed muster but she had suspicions about all leafy greens. Her deepest reservations concerned spinach and kale. They were “slimy.”
Thinking himself clever, he made a chicken noodle soup one evening and slipped some chopped kale into it. He popped the meal in front of her and, not making eye contact, picked up his spoon. She eyed it fishily without doing the same. He knew she was watching his spoon as it travelled from bowl to mouth.
“No’ hungry, Faith?” he tried to sound matter of fact.
“What’s it?” She finally asked.
“Chicken soup. Ye like it, and I used the swirly noodles with all the colors.” He helpfully added, focusing on positive attributes.
“Mmphm.” Her mouth formed a hard line.
Jamie bit the inside of his cheek, recognizing where she had picked that expression up.
“Carrots and potatoes, a little onion, too.” He added, she loved all of those.
At that moment, a shred of the kale slipped off of his spoon and hung unceremoniously from the underside directly in her line of sight.
“Nooo!” she cried out. Her pouting lips started to shake and tears suddenly maring her round cheeks.
Her voice rose in pitch and volume. “Out! Out! Ickies!”
The look of hurt betrayal in her eyes was far, far worse than spending a half an hour trying to pick out all the kale bits before ultimately concluding it a lost cause. As he stirred her mac and cheese, a reparation offered for his transgressions, he realized that he should have made two versions, a larger one he knew she would have no objections to and a smaller version with the kale to try.
When Claire came home, he promptly confessed.
“You brute! Is it the sin of commission for adding in the offensive veg or the sin of omission for selective ingredient listing that you seek absolution for, my lad?”
“Both.” he admitted. “The look on her face,” he shook his head back and forth. “The memory will give me the nightmare for sure. Her eyes grew big and her lip started to quiver. Ye’d ha’ thought I’d added Jane into the soup!” He shivered in memory.
“Parenting,” she blithely observed, “isn’t a spectator sport. It can be a messy business. Te Absolvo, Jamie.” Claire made the sign of the cross and kissed his cheek.
In sympathy perhaps, she ate an extra helping of the tainted soup and pronounced it delicious, he smiled as his ears turned a light shade of pink.
When he couldn’t be there in person, Jamie contented himself with a brief call. They found that while Faith was still too young to be interested in talking on the phone she adored “face-timing.” Faith would always end calls by giving him a “kiss” which, in all good manners he would need to return, with great enthusiasm.
Then Faith would invariably say, “now Mama!” and insist he do the same with Claire. His antics never failed to make her laugh and Claire smile. Jamie found himself oddly comforted by it, knowing that no matter what stressors and difficulties Claire had faced at work, at the end of the day, he put a smile on her face.
His favorite times by far though occurred when their schedules aligned and the three of them could have dinner together. In the quiet domesticity of her cozy kitchen they became accustomed to one another, in the small acts of setting table, passing bread, doing dishes. Jamie would always stay and help Faith with her pjs and put her to bed.
Claire looked forward to such evenings as well. She tried to be discrete as she watched from the doorway. She knew he didn’t mind her there but she wanted to give Jamie as much time with Faith as possible, trying her best to make up for the missing months between father and daughter. Not because it was her fault, but because had the situation been reversed, she understood how that loss would make her feel and what might help her make peace with it.
Whether Jamie told a tale from his own childhood or Faith picked out a book from her shelf, he was always entertaining. He had a lovely ear for dialogue and the characters sprung to life whenever he told a story.
Then he and Faith would play a quick round of modified “I Spy.” A simple way to teach her Gaelic. Each would go around the room and point to something and say the English world and then the Gaelic one, taking turns. The furniture, the stuffed animals, the images on artwork lining the walls. If Claire was still in the doorway, Jamie would usually include Claire in the game.
Every time he pointed to Claire, Faith would say Mama, but then when he would point to himself she just giggled or shrugged. This was an oddity not even Claire could explain. They’d given her lots of choices: Pa, Papa, Dada, Daddy, Dad, even Father but she refused to be rushed. He did his best not to feel a little disappointed. Ah, well, give it time, he would remind himself.
Jamie would kiss her forehead and whisper good night. Often, afterwards he and Claire would sit together for a little while before he left, sharing some wine and talking of things Faith related and of their own days as well.
Jamie came to understand how challenging her job was, how deeply she cared for her patients. He began to read her better, to know when something was bothering her. She had a terrible poker face but he was impressed that she would set such matters aside when she was with Faith. He understood without asking that Claire didn’t normally unburden herself. Jamie didn’t think she let too many people close to her heart. He didn’t mind in the least that he was becoming one of those few.
The only fly in the ointment thus far had been the unavoidable fact that Claire was a toucher, reaching her arm out when wanting to get his or Faith’s attention. She was also a hugger. She would sometimes give him a sweet kiss on the check in hello or good bye. He thought it must just come naturally to her and she probably had no idea she was even doing it at all, let alone with deliberation.
When they would sit together, he noticed how expressive she was with her hands, they’d roll out or curve up, accenting her story. Every now and then she would catch him staring at them and smile in question. What could he say?
I look at your hands because I imagine how they might feel on me? My mouth goes dry thinking of how you held my hand the other day when we walked with Faith to the car but you didn’t even realize you’d done it?
When you hug me as we laugh helplessly about something Faith did that day, you have no idea how much I want to pull you tighter in my arms, how badly I want you to do it again. Have you not noticed that I always let you determine how closely we are held together and for how long?
That you’ve set me on fire and I have to curl my hand into a fist and bite my tongue to stop myself from showing you exactly what I want those hands to do next?
Jamie said nothing, of course and yet…yet something got stuck between his heart and his mouth at such moments and he wondered if she felt it too.