Sunday, 1 March 2015

Young Girl Reading

"Girl Reading at Bedtime", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

This week's drawing was inspired by a painting entitled "Story Book" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.  You may recall an earlier drawing of mine which I posted on November 2, 2014, entitled "Young Girl with a Pomegranate". That drawing was also inspired by a work of Bouguereau. 
"Girl with a Pomegranate", drawing
by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

In that posting I included quite of bit of information about Bouguereau. Here are a few of those facts:

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825–1905) was a French academic painter and traditionalist. He was born at La Rochelle, France in 1825, into a family of wine and olive oil merchants. When he showed artistic talent early on, his father was convinced by a client to send him to the École des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux. Young Bouguereau found ways to earn money with his art and with this money plus some from his aunt, he was able to go to Paris and became a student at the École des Beaux-Arts. To supplement his formal training in drawing, he attended anatomical dissections and studied historical costumes and archaeology. During his life he enjoyed significant popularity in France and the United States, was given numerous official honours and received top prices for his work. However, as the quintessential salon painter of his generation, he was reviled by the Impressionists such as Claude Monet, Édouard Manet and Henri Matisse. In 1905, William-Adolphe Bouguereau died from heart disease at his home in La Rochelle.
If you want more details, check my posting for November 2nd or take a look at his bio on Wikipedia.

Although I was never allowed to read at bedtime when I was a girl, I did develop the habit once I had left home.  How enjoyable it can be for anyone who loves to read to get all propped up in bed with a well-written book telling a gentle story (no murder mysteries at bedtime, please!).  You know you will probably fall asleep while reading, but that's OK.  I know a lot of folks like to watch TV before falling asleep, but I always find that TV programming with its constant commercials always leaves my head too full of stuff and sometimes that stuff keeps me from falling asleep at all.

If you look closely at the drawing above, you will see that the title of the book the girl is reading is "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  These days most people know this author's work from the "Little House on the Prairie" TV series.  But in my childhood there was no television so I read the entire series of her books, all 8 of them, every summer, faithfully, and each year I pictured myself as Laura and tried to imagine what it must have been like to have lived on the American frontier during the second half of the 1800s. 

If I had been allowed to read at bedtime as a young girl, I would certainly have been reading those books.  As it was, I had to sneak and read them during the day while my father was at work.  I would race through all the chores he had left for me to do and then spend a few precious hours with my books, lost in the world the author created with her words. 



Braden and friend at nap-time.  Look at those beautiful eyelashes ladies!

Braden says:  Yummy chocolate!  Thanks Mom.

Ronàn looking so happy.  What a beautiful guy!



"Suki ringing the bell", drawing
by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015
When something happens that you never expected to happen, it is always quite a shock.  We have all had experiences in our lives when we have been confronted by the totally unexpected and the surprise of the moment has usually left us momentarily confused and almost uncomprehending. We end up saying to ourselves, "this can't be happening; it's impossible."
This describes how I felt this morning when I was awakened out of a deep sleep by the loud ringing of a cow bell. 

Some time ago, a friend gave me a cow bell -- a real cow bell like the "leader" of our small herd of cattle wore around her neck on my family's farm. The bell was given as a joke-y sort of gift.  She said it was to remind me of my happy days on the farm (she knows full well that they were anything but happy)!  At any rate, after we had laughed over her foolishness, I put the bell in a drawer and forgot about it.  

A few months ago, however, I came across the bell and decided that it would be fun to hang it from a hook by the balcony door. My thought was that when warmer weather returns (please God may that be soon) and I have the balcony door open, then the breeze might occasionally gently move the bell and provide me with a pleasant sound.  

In years past I would never have considered doing this because I would have been concerned that Suki might discover it and think it was a new toy.  Now, though, I felt it was safe to hang the bell as Suki has been totally dis-inclined to stand on her hind legs ever since she was diagnosed with arthritis in her hip joints.  So I put a cup hook in the door frame at a point that I thought was well beyond Suki's reach and hung the bell.

Suki seemed to not even notice what I had done and as the weeks passed without any obvious attempts on her part to reach the bell, I thought all was safe.  I guess she was just waiting for me to become complacent because this morning, I was awakened to the loud clanging of a cow bell!!!

As I said above, I was sleeping deeply and so when the bell started ringing, I must have tried desperately to incorporate the sound in my dreams so that I wouldn't have to wake up.  But the noise was too loud and went on for too long for that to work and so I came to consciousness confused and uncomprehending.  As the sleepiness quickly cleared and I turned towards the source of the noise, I simply could not believe my own eyes.  There was Suki standing on her hinds legs, reaching upwards, with one paw on the door frame and the other being used to push that blessed bell again and again.  Of course, I immediately began to yell all sorts of imprecations (which I cannot repeat in a family-type blog posting) which caused Suki to run and hide under her favourite chair!

I was so shocked by this turn of events that I had to sit there for several minutes afterwards trying to take it all in.  I mean, this is the same cat who is still occasionally seen limping around, favouring her right hip particularly.  Standing on her hind legs must have been extremely painful for her and yet, her desire to get me up, out of bed and into the kitchen was strong enough to cause her to push through the pain to achieve her goal.  What a cat!

By the way, the cow bell is now back in the drawer where it will remain.

So, other than being awakened from sleep in strange and unusual ways, I am doing much the same.  As my disease continues to worsen, I am trying to be realistic about my future needs.  So, I have made the decision to put my name on the waiting list at my favourite long-term care facility just in case my need for such a place arrives sooner rather than later.  I am also going to be discussing the possibility of spinal surgery with my doctor when I see her this week -- it's risky, but if it works, it would give me the opportunity to live a more normal life again.  I will keep you informed.



"Icon -- The Transfiguration", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014 rev.

Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.   Mk 9:2-10

What an experience this must have been for these three simple men! Let me repeat what I had to say about Suki and the cow bell in the section above: 
We have all had experiences in our lives when we have been confronted by the totally unexpected and the surprise of the moment has usually left us ... confused and almost uncomprehending. We end up saying to ourselves, "this can't be happening; it's impossible." 

Not only had Peter, James and John witnessed the impossible, they had been told to expect an occurrence that was even more impossible: "rising from the dead".  Had I experienced such an event in this day and time, I would just naturally assume that someone had slipped an LSD tab into my food!

When I read this passage and am confronted by all this stuff that seems so impossible, I find myself overwhelmed with confusion and lack of comprehension -- just as these disciples must have.  So, I usually try to focus on the one line in this account that makes total sense to me, something is is anything but confusing:  "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him."

May we all listen to these words of God -- the God who is Love. Christ came to reveal this God to us by His words and, especially, by His actions.  Thus, may we come to know and believe in this Love, thereby, finding the peace all our hearts are seeking.


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