Sunday, 27 July 2014

Orange Picking

"An Orange Picking Girl", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

This drawing was inspired by another painting of John William Waterhouse entitled "The Orange Gatherers".  Of course, his painting is quite beautifully done and contains not only the young girl but two adult women as well.  One woman is climbing a set of stairs which appear to lead to some sort of open area on the back of a house.  The other woman is emptying a basket of oranges onto the blanket where a young girl is sitting.  The viewer might assume that at least one of the women has been picking oranges which she is now placing on the blanket next to the young girl.

It was the young girl who caught and kept my attention when I first came across this painting.  She is looking directly up and out at the viewer and so is the focal point of the entire work.  Of course, Waterhouse, a skilled artist, did a considerably better job of painting the young girl than I did of drawing her on the computer. As always, my inability to use shading and variations in skin colour means that it is extremely difficult for me to capture the look of a young face.  It is those very elements which enable an artist to create the actual look of children's faces, especially their rosy cheeks and bright eyes.

However, I did my best and since I wasn't really interested in trying to draw the rather indistinct figures (as one can do when painting) of the two women, I decided instead to draw only the young girl. I also decided that instead of showing her just sitting there, apparently doing nothing, I would put her to work and show her cleaning the leaves and stems off of the oranges which had recently been picked.

I don't know how many of you have actually ever picked oranges off a tree, but if you have, you know that they don't come off completely free of leaves and stems and other stuff.  Of course, the fruit is rarely ever very orange either!  More likely, the skin of the ripe fruit will be mottled and include the colours of green and dark orange.  In order to get the fruit to look uniformly orange -- the way we expect an orange to look -- colourant or liquid dye must be employed!  As well, cooler weather occurring during the ripening process, will actually bring out the orange colour in what is a naturally green-coloured fruit.  To explain this further, I have quoted from a U.S. web site I came across:

"The FDA does allow the addition of a colorant called "Citrus Red #2" to the skins of mature oranges. It's more of a liquid dye than a paint, and, of course, safe for human consumption. Oranges only turn "orange" if the temperature is right. In some countries where the temperatures never cool off, oranges remain green, even when mature. It is the cool temperatures which promote the release of the orange pigments (carotenes).  Before being sold in the U.S., green oranges used to be coated with an orange dye to make them more attractive to consumers. This practice is no longer acceptable by the FDA. To overcome this problem, oranges are now often treated with ethylene, which promotes the development of a uniformly "orange" appearance. This removes the chlorophyll layer and allows the orange color to emerge."

Obviously, the orange oranges in my drawing must have had just the right amount of cool weather during the ripening process in order for them to end up being so uniformly orange in colour!  Of course, such improbabilities are allowed in paintings just as they are in poetry where they are called, I believe, the use of "poetic license"! 



Suki showing off her beautiful fur coat!
Well, it is time, once again, to give you all an update on myself and Suki. 

Actually, I really did not think there was going to be much to say about Suki this week, as she seemed to be behaving reasonably well -- even allowing me to sleep until 6 a.m. on three different mornings!  As the days passed, I was began to feel hopeful that Suki might actually be starting to get a bit more mellow.  Then last night happened and now I have to admit that the "three nights" was just an aberration -- not a new trend at all!  So what did she do last night that was so awful -- well, let me tell you about it.

For some reason, Suki decided, about half an hour after I had fallen asleep, that she wanted to play with one of the few electrical cords I haven't yet taped to the wall.  In order to get to this cord, she had to climb onto one of the lower shelves of the room divider in the entryway and then crawl over a big stack of books and a couple of bookends.  It must have been a difficult and somewhat painful climb for her and I can only guess that she really wanted to play with this cord badly enough in order to put up with any discomfort.

Unfortunately, her form of play with electrical cords involves batting the cord, noisily, against the wall.  I was, of course, awakened by the noise, awakened out of that deep sleep which comes within the first hour of bedtime.  I admit, with some shame, that I yelled at her rather loudly as I grabbed her and chucked her in the bathroom for the night!  Thankfully, I was finally able to get back to sleep and, this morning, we "kissed" and made up!

Interestingly, in spite of these "playful" episodes, Suki continues to eat less -- not because I am feeding her less, but rather because she is actually eating less of her favourite food than previously.  Often now, she will walk away from her food dish leaving behind several teaspoons of this food!  I am not sure what is actually happening here.  Perhaps my repeated remarks to her about how much more comfortable her back legs would be if she just lost a bit of weight have finally had an effect. As all of us with arthritis know, getting your weight down to a more normal level takes a certain amount of stress off those arthritic joints!  I plan to weigh her some time in the week ahead and see if she has actually lost any weight.

Speaking of weight, I, too, really need to lose some myself as I have gained back most of the weight I lost in 2009-2010 when I first joined the gym.  Sadly, once I became unable to exercise due to increased pain, I found the weight just piling back on even though I continued to eat the same foods in the same (or less) amount. Now, since I can no longer exercise, I suppose I will have to cut back on my food intake considerably in order to lose some weight again. My joints, just like Suki's, don't need the added stress which comes with being overweight.

What a nuisance the whole weight business is -- especially as we get older and those fat cells just seem to attach themselves to the body as though by the hand of an evil magician.  As well, a lot of the medications that are prescribed for us older folks also cause weight gain!  What a dilemma!  It seems so unfair -- especially when there are so few pleasurable things left to indulge in when we get old, sick and disabled.  Woe is us!

Otherwise, I have nothing new to complain about.  The pain continues unabated and I am still using art work, movies on Netflix and drugs to try to keep things under control.  Anything that can dull my awareness of the pain and does not cause me any additional harm is welcome.  You may have noticed that I did not include sleep in the list of things that help me keep the pain under control. Although sleep, as necessary as it is, does occasionally help, it is also the means, sadly, by which the pain can take charge again. 



"Like a Dragnet Cast in the Sea", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010

Here is a portion of this Sunday's Gospel reading:
Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet that is cast in the sea and brings in a haul of all kinds of fish. When it is full, the fishermen bring it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in baskets and throw away those that are no use. This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the upright, to throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. 'Have you understood all this?' They said, 'Yes.'  Matt. 13:47-51

Praying that we all, at the end, may be placed in those baskets reserved for the "good".

And, in the week ahead, may peace be with you all.  Amen.

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