Sunday, 13 April 2014

Farm Life and Other Stuff

"A Moment's Rest on the Farm", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

This drawing went through a number of changes before ending up as it is now!  Let me explain.

The idea for the drawing came from a painting done by Charles E. Perugini, (Charles Edward Perugini, 1 September 1839 – 22 December 1918, originally Carlo Perugini, an Italian-born English painter of the Victorian era).  His painting was entitled "At the Well".

As I begin my drawing, however, I realized that I really did not want to do another drawing of a "woman at the well".  Whatever Perugini had in mind when painting "At the Well", for me "a woman at a well" could only refer to the Samaritan woman who encountered Our Lord at the well (see John 4).  I had already done an icon on that subject (see the final section of the posting from March 23, 2014).  So, I decided that, instead, I would use the woman in this painting as my model but arrange the elements of the drawing to suggest that the young woman was a milkmaid.  At one point, I even drew a cow in the background!  The cow was later removed, however. 

Eventually, I decided that while I liked the woman's pose, I really just wanted to draw her standing in a field of flowers with a tree in the background.  It was at this point that I decided that I would call the drawing "A Moment's Rest on the Farm" and allow the viewer to figure out what she might be up to!  Having grown up on a farm myself and spent time with other farm families during the formative years of my life, I felt comfortable with this designation. 

So, now, the finished drawing shows a woman standing in a pastoral scene carrying a covered bucket on her arm.  The bucket can possibly contain one of any number of things, including:  warm milk from recently milked cows; feed for the chickens; eggs from the hens; or, less pleasantly, "slop" for feeding the pigs!  The decision for exactly what she is up to is left up to the viewer.  

Personally, I find I still think of her as having just come from milking a couple of cows -- something I had to do often during my teenage years!  Milking cows is one of the few pleasant memories I recall of my home life -- the cows were gentle creatures who never yelled at me, the rhythmic action of milking could calm and sooth any agitation I might be feeling and, for those of us who love milk, there is nothing quite as good as fresh milk.

You may recall that I posted another drawing inspired by this same Victorian artist several months ago -- December 22, 2013, to be exact.  My drawing is entitled "A Young Woman Daydreaming".
As well, I used another painting by Perugini ("A Capri Girl") as the model for a drawing I did last month of Our Lady dressed for the betrothal  ceremony to St. Joseph.  Here is that drawing:

"The Virgin at Her Betrothal Ceremony to St. Joseph"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

The assumption is that Our Lady would have been a teenager (maybe about 14) at the time of the betrothal (the signing of the "ketubbah" contract).  This contract pledged that the couple would marry although there was still expected to be a waiting period, giving the bridegroom time to fulfill the requirements of the contract.  This waiting period could actually last up to seven years but was more likely to be no longer than one year.  Once the bridegroom had raised the required portion of the money stipulated in the marriage contract (along with any other requirements that might have been included), he would then notify the bride's father. 

Then the date would be set for the ceremony but not the time! Rather, the bridegroom, accompanied by male companions and others, would ride to the bride's parent's home sometime during the night on the date selected.  As I understand it, this event was dramatized by having the bridegroom act as though he and his friends were "abducting" his bride so the exact time of the bridegrooms arrival was not known -- you had to be ready and waiting when the cry was heard "the bridegroom is coming"!  Once everyone arrived and had entered the home, the door to the house would be shut and then the "nissuin" (the taking) of the bride would occur.  After this, the bride would be taken to the groom's father's house for a time of privacy.  After this, the couple lived together as husband and wife.



"Is it time to eat yet?"
Sadly for Suki, this diet business is turning into a real problem for both of us!

There are two new issues, as far as I can tell, which are making it even more difficult for Suki to live with less food.  

The first is the anti-inflammatory medication I am now injecting each week.  Like many of these medications, they make whoever is taking them feel even hungrier than usual!

The second new issue is that when Suki awakens from that deep, deep sleep that she appears to experience after taking the strong pain medication she has been prescribed, she acts as though her memory is gone!  What I mean by this is that even though she may have just eaten prior to falling into this kind of sleep, when she awakens she doesn't seem to remember that and begins to beg for food -- even though it may have only been a couple of hours since she had a big meal!  

When you combine these two factors with the fact that Suki has always been a big eater, I think you can begin to imagine how frustratingly difficult it has been to keep her on a diet.  Some days I handle her constant begging pretty well and just try to ignore her until she finally gives up for a while and takes another nap.  On other days, however, especially when my pain is particularly bad, I just give up and give in.  

I know it is important for Suki to lose a bit of weight and then maintain that weight -- excess weight only makes her pain worse -- but that is far easier said than done!  In spite of my complaining, we do seem to be muddling through all of this reasonably well.

Of course, Suki's need to diet constantly reminds me of my need to diet.  Since I have been unable to be active for almost six months now, I have gained weight and this weight is increasing my pain problems as well.  Excess weight always makes arthritis more painful.  Like Suki, I do get hungry and so I eat, but without any real exercise, those nasty calories just turn to fat!  As well, I now take several medications that are known for having the side effect of causing weight gain.  How depressing.

As for the report on my eyes, there is good news, sort of.  The CT scan did not show anything growing behind my left eye.  This means that all my symptoms are glaucoma related.  So, now it will just be a matter of continuing the drops and having my eyes checked regularly.  There doesn't seem to be any actual explanation about why my left eye can become so painful after a short time of being on the computer or watching TV.  Whatever is causing it, I guess it is just one more pain to add to the vast number of painful body parts I now seem to have.

I do have another upper endoscopy scheduled for this week and will find out if my gastric ulcers have gotten better or worse.  They are still hurting occasionally so I doubt that they have disappeared! As well, I am scheduled for a bone density test.  This is one of those tests they like to give to old folks in order to see how much osteoporosis they are experiencing!  I haven't had one of these tests for several years now, but hopefully the mild osteoporosis I was diagnosed with then will not have gotten any worse.



I have no idea how we could suddenly be celebrating Palm Sunday. It seems like Ash Wednesday was only a couple of weeks ago and now here we are -- the Sunday before Easter.

Let me wish you all a blessed and holy Passion Week as we go from the joy of today's jubilant welcoming of Christ to Jerusalem as the long-desired Messiah to the terror and sadness of Good Friday with its rejection and disavowal of Christ by almost everyone.

May we all turn aside from the temptation to deny Our Lord and instead have the courage to stand with Our Lady at the foot of the cross -- never doubting, but rather accepting all the suffering of the Crucifixion (as well as our own sufferings) and trusting that we will see that all things have worked and will work together for good when we view them through the eyes of Love, God.  Peace be with you all.  Amen.

"Moonlight Reflections", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Warm weather will soon be here.  Hooray!


Nell Gottlieb said...

HI Sallie, I have many happy memories of having a basket and picking huckleberries at your childhood home in Alabama and your Aunt Nell making huckleberry cobbler. Thanks for jogging these thoughts with your farm scene. Take care, Nell

Sallie Thayer said...

Yes, things were always more pleasant at my house when there was company so I enjoyed those huckleberry picking visits as well. Both your grandmother (Aunt Nell) and my mother made excellent huckleberry pies. Good memories of family and food. I always hated to see you folks leave since after y'all went home, my home atmosphere stopped being so pleasant. Ah, well, c'est la vie!