Sunday, 21 June 2015

At Work in the Vineyard

"Young Girl Picking Grapes", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

This week's drawing was inspired by another one of the paintings of William-Adolphe Bouguereau -- "The Grape Picker" (1875).

This is the fourth or fifth painting of his that I have now used as a model from which to work.  In almost every case, I was initially attracted to his works because of the hands.  That is certainly the case in this particular drawing as I have discovered previously just how difficult it is to properly indicate curving fingers.  Once more I remain unsatisfied with the results of my drawing of the hands, but each time I try I learn more about the techniques involved.  One of these days I will get it right and the hands will be perfection -- even if nothing else is!

For those of you who may have missed the previous postings about Bouguereau, here are a few details taken from Wikipedia:

"Self-Portrait" by
W-A. Bouguereau 
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.

More details, along with samples of paintings, are available in the Wikipedia entry on this artist.



Suki is always busily getting into mischief
whenever I am away from home!
Another puzzling "Suki behaviour" that I would like to mention has to do with knotted cords! I have mentioned this strange ritual previously, but because I had three medical appointments this past week, I am very much aware of it once again.

As you may recall my telling you in a posting several years ago, Suki always performs a particular ritual whenever I leave home for more than a couple of hours. She removes three knotted cords from their storage place on top of her scratching post and places them, stretched out almost full length, in three locations on the floor.  The first one is near the front door, the second is somewhere near the bookcases which line the wall at the end of the entry hall while the third is by the counter that separates the kitchen from the dining area.  In other words, the cords make a line that curves from the front door to the kitchen -- sort of the shape of a boomerang.

By the way, one of these cords is blue (see photo at top left), one is white and one is brown.  They all came, originally, from various pieces of clothing that had long string belts.  I have never cared for belts of any sort and so, rather than just throw them away, I gave them to the cats.  Of course, I carefully doubled and knotted them so that there would be no way that my cat could swallow enough of the cord so that it would get stuck in their "gullet".  [A cat's tongue is so rough with those backward-facing "barbs" that it is easy for them to get something stuck there and then just keep swallowing in an effort to dislodge it.  If this happens with a piece of string or yarn, then it can end up tangled in their intestinal tract leading to expensive surgery or even death.]
But I digress so let me return to Suki's knotted cords.

As I said, Suki only does this when I am away from home for more than a couple of hours.  For example, if I go upstairs and visit with my friend on the sixth floor, I may be gone for an hour and a half but never more than 2 hours.  When I return home, Suki is still sound asleep in her favourite chair.  But, let me go to a medical appointment, returning no more than 2 and 1/2 hours later, and there are the cords all stretched out in the usual way.
The blue one is always nearest to the front door followed by the brown one next with the white one nearest to the kitchen.  When you think about it, it is almost as though Suki is trying to make certain that I know my way to the kitchen in hopes that I will go there immediately upon returning home and feed her! Otherwise, I cannot imagine what she might be trying to say. If you feel you have any insights into what could be going on in Suki's brain, then please, please share them with me.

Otherwise, although I was out three times this past week, things continue to be much the same with me (this is said with a hint of sarcasm in my voice).  Let me explain:

  • The infection I was being treated for is still there and the doctor is scratching her head, trying to figure out what is going on and how to treat it -- meanwhile the discomfort continues. 
  • I was blessed with a 2-day migraine this past week in the midst of everything else (thank goodness for the new kind of medication which keeps me from having to spend two days lying in bed in a darkened room as was the case previously). 
  • One of my dearest friends has decided that the best way for her to try to fix the mess her life has gotten into is to cut off all communication between us for the time being (I hope it is only for the time being!). I know she is trying to do what is best for her and I will respect her wishes, but it still leaves me feeling very sad. 
  • Finally, the pain in my feet has started to return in a serious way which means that walking is becoming more and more difficult.  If things continue like this, then I think I can see myself back in a wheelchair once again sometime in the near future! 
Life is hard and then... it just gets harder!



"Icon - Master, We Are Perishing", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012 rev.

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” Mk 4:35-41

I will tell you honestly... it often feels as though the Master is asleep in my little boat of life and in spite of all my shouting, He doesn't seem to be waking up.  The waves just seem to get bigger and bigger and still He sleeps on. Of course, unlike the disciples, I no longer feel terrified, just resigned to my fate -- whatever it may be.

Perhaps the above paragraph sounds very negative to you, but what I haven't mentioned yet is that even in my resignation and darkness, I still believe in the Love that is God.  For in spite of all the terrible things that have happened to me, and to those I love, during my lifetime, I have seen, over and over again, that even when all else is gone, love remains -- love survives.  As St. John of the Cross said: 
  • In the twilight of life, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions and our successes, but on how well we have loved.
  • Where there is no love, put love -- and you will find love.
  • There is nothing better or more necessary than love.

May we seek to trust then that no matter how fierce the storm or how big the waves, Love is there beside us, always with us -- and even though it may appear that Love is sleeping, Love can be relied on to lead us safely Home.



Deb said...

Suki's behaviour is fascinating, but, as most things with cats, unexplainable (at least, by me).
Praying for improved health and peace of mind for you!

Sallie Thayer said...

Good to hear from you! Thanks for your kind words. Suki continues to amaze and amuse me.