Sunday, 7 September 2014

Another Woman with a Fan


"Geisha with a Fan", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Geisha like all Japanese nouns, has no distinct singular or plural variants. The word consists of two kanji, 芸 (gei) meaning "art" and 者 (sha) meaning "person" or "doer". The most literal translation of geisha into English would be "artist," "performing artist," or "artisan." Some prostitutes refer to themselves as "geisha", but they are not. A Geisha's sex and love life, if any, is normally distinct from her professional life. A successful geisha is able to entertain her male customers with music, dance, and pleasant conversation. 

The appeal of a high-ranking Geisha to her typical male guest has historically been very different from that of his wife. The ideal Geisha proudly displays her skills while the ideal wife is modest. The ideal Geisha appears carefree while the ideal wife is somber and responsible. Geisha do sometimes marry their clients but they must then retire as there can never be a married Geisha. Geisha may gracefully flirt with their guests, but they will always remain in control of the hospitality. Over their years of apprenticeship they learn to adapt to different situations and personalities, mastering the art of the hostess.

I have always wanted to try to draw a Japanese Geisha wearing the traditional garb and makeup.  However, when it came time for me to colour her skin so that it had that white powder look, I found that I just couldn't do it.  The colour I created seemed all wrong and so I ended up using a normal skin colour instead.  She still looks like a Geisha to me -- especially with all the hair ornaments!

Of course, when I began to research the Geisha, I learned that not all wear the white make-up we in the West usually associate with Geisha.  A citation in Wikipedia says the following:  
A geisha's appearance changes throughout her career, from the girlish, heavily made-up maiko, to the more sombre appearance of an older established geisha. Different hairstyles and hairpins signify different stages of a girl's development and even a detail as minute as the length of one's eyebrows is significant. 

My research also revealed that the colours of the kimono and under-kimono have significance.  I fear that my drawing has aspects that are not true to the traditional clothes of the Geisha; however, I plead artistic licence once again!  I hope no one objects.



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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki says:  "I know I'm beautiful,
but doesn't she ever get tired of
taking my photo?"
Suki continues to be relatively well behaved and her arthritis seems to have settled down again.  So, her "good behaviour" doesn't seem to be related to joint pain.  Maybe she is just getting more sedate with age!  Do cats do that?  At any rate, I will definitely enjoy this period of calm for however long it may last!

Of course, as I think about things, I realize that some of what I am calling "good behaviour" may simply be lack of opportunity.  Let me explain...

Over time, I have ended up cat-proofing my apartment by tying down and covering up things.  Previously, I would do the cat-proofing only occasionally -- usually the night after Suki had been really bad -- in an effort to try to recover from lack of sleep.

Now, however, I simply leave everything in place unless I have company coming.  So, if you were to be able to sneak into my home without my being aware of it, you would find such things as:

  • the Venetian blinds tied together so that cat paws are unable to make them go clack-clack-clack in the night;
  • pillows placed strategically against the wall in order to cover electrical cords so that the cords cannot be banged against the wall by cat paws during the night;
  • wastebaskets with plastic linings placed on shelves high enough so that no cat paws can reach the plastic and make that rustling sound over and over again during the night;
  • all cat toys in a closed chest so that Suki must ask for a toy and when she finishes with it, the toy is returned to the chest -- so no toys hitting the wall over and over again during the night.
These, of course, are not all the measure I have taken in order to get a decent night's sleep on a regular basis; however, I think the above list gives you a good idea of the kinds of things I have done. 

Even so, Suki is still able to find ways to try to wake me up when she wants to be fed her favourite food at around 5 a.m. Her usual technique now is to attempt to give my face a good washing with her scratchy tongue.  My defense is to grab a pillow I keep close by and to put it over me.  It's amazing that I can go back to sleep with a pillow on my face, but I can.  Fortunately, I am one of those people who enjoys sleeping with the covers pulled completely over my head!

As you can see, life with Suki around is never without some surprises.  Otherwise, my life has few surprises at all...things continue as they have for some time now. I did have a few appointments this past week, however.

One appointment was very enjoyable as it was a visit from a dear friend I haven't seen for a number of months.  We had a good visit for an hour but then I had to end it as I was getting too tired and the pain was becoming too uncomfortable.

The other appointment was medical and included both a breathing test and a visit with the sleep clinic doctor.  Nothing of importance to report as my asthma seems to be only a little worse and the narcolepsy continues to be managed with the current medication. Neither of these problems concern me greatly so long as they remain more or less under control.

The week ahead should be a fairly quiet one as there are no appointments of any kind on the horizon.



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TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME


"Icon, Our Lady of Japan", by the hand 
of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014 (rev.)
Jesus said to his disciples: “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Matt 18:15-17 (beginning of today's Gospel reading)

Here is another saying from the Gospel according to St. Matthew which causes me to stop and reflect:  "if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."  I read those words and immediately some darker part of me wants to sit in "righteous" judgement on all those I know who are not living their lives the way I think they should!

After all, anyone who has studied the Scriptures and the history of New Testament times knows what is meant by treating someone as a "Gentile or a tax collector" according to the Jewish leaders of the day.  Yet, we see in the teachings of Christ how He is so ready to forgive the repentant tax collectors and those who have been living like "Gentiles".  

On the other hand, how quickly I find within myself the desire to judge and condemn others -- especially those who have "fallen away" from beliefs I hold dear or who are living in ways that I consider to be wrong.  Yet, if I truly seek to follow the example of Christ, then I will never give up reaching out in love to those who have turned their backs on all I may hold as sacred -- those whose lives seem so far from the ideals of the Gospel and the Church.

So, here is my prayer... feel free to make it your prayer as well...

O God, let me not give in to that all-to-human desire to condemn, but let me seek each day to love others just as You do.

Our Lady, pray that I may be granted the grace to imitate your Son in His ability to always be ready to lovingly forgive others -- saying with Him:  "Father forgive them -- they know not what they do."  
Father forgive me ... I know not what I do.  

May peace be with us all.

Amen.

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