Sunday, 24 April 2016

Spirals and Diamonds

"Stylized Indian Lotus in Spirals", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

As you may recall, I originally drew this stylized Indian Lotus blossom to use as part of the mandala I created using Datura blossoms (see posting for February 21st of this year).  Although I posted a drawing including these stylized Lotus blossoms, I eventually, through the good advice of an art therapist friend, ended up removing them and allowing the Datura to stand alone (see below, right).
"Mandala -- Datura Constellations",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016
  This meant that I now had a perfectly good Lotus blossom and no place to use it.  Thus, I decided to use it in a design of spiraling sections of a wheel containing copies of the original drawing in decreasing size with a large copy of the original at the centre which is what you see featured in the drawing at the beginning of this post.

"Stylized Indian Lotus in Blue Spirals", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

After I had finished the drawing using various shades of green and white, I decided to find out what it would look like if I used the selection in my picture editing software that causes everything in the drawing to become various shades of blue.  I am not that pleased with the result; however, I do like the fact that the blue version more clearly shows the blossoms in circles of varying sizes as they are placed nearer and nearer to the perimeter of the rectangle.

Now, for the next drawing -- a drawing which would normally be placed in the "Suki and Sallie" section, but which I decided to include in this opening section as well (Not to worry, I will be using a variation of this drawing in the "Suki and Sallie" section below).

Now, let me explain the Suki drawing below.

I came across a delightful drawing (by a real artist) of a seated cat with various patterns drawn on the cat's body as well as the background.  I knew I wanted to try copying it as soon as I saw it; however, I also knew that I wanted to make my own version.  So, instead of all the bright colours used by the artist, I decided to use only black and shades of grey (not 50!) except for the colour of the eyes and nose.  

Before I began the drawing, I decided on the style of patterned background I wanted to use so that I could include that design when creating patterns in my drawing of Suki.  So, since the background was composed of diamond shapes, I ended up drawing a lot of diamond shapes on Suki's body as you can clearly see below.  After viewing the results, I decided to call the drawing "Suki of Diamonds"  -- sort of like saying Jack of Diamonds. Perhaps I could design a deck of cards using drawings of Suki. Do you think that would catch on?

"Suki of Diamonds", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

As I mentioned above, I am using another version of this drawing in the "Suki and Sallie" section below.  Enjoy!



Below right is a blurry image of Rònàn which I captured from a video recently sent to me by his mom.  He is excitedly watching as his brother, Braden, slowly rides a horse around the stable yard. I believe this video was taken the same day as the photo I posted last Sunday showing Braden on horseback.

Rònàn watching excitedly as
his brother, Braden, rides a
horse around the stable yard.

As many of you know, Rònàn was born with Cystic Fibrosis. While it is being well managed at present by his parents and doctors, the road ahead will not be an easy one for either Rònàn or his family. Sadly, this is true for all families with a CF child.  So, like many of these families, Rònàn's family is participating in fund raising efforts to aid in the process of finding treatments for CF that will provide these children with a better quality of life as well as longer lives -- or maybe even lead to a cure for CF.

So, if any of you are interested in helping this family (so very special to me) as well as all the other families of CF children, here is the link:




"Suki of the Sepia Diamonds",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Suki was excited, as usual, to see Joycelyn arrive this past Monday morning.  Also, as usual, moments after she arrived, Suki looked at Joycelyn, looked toward the laser pointer on the table and then meowed loudly. What followed, however, was not at all usual or normal ... for when Joycelyn turned on the laser pointer, Suki simply remained lying on the floor!

While she was obviously very interested in the little red dot of light made by the laser pointer, she showed no inclination to move about or chase after it. The best Suki could accomplish was to try to capture the red dot with her paw while keeping her back legs and hips very still.  My immediate appraisal of the situation caused me to blurt out: "Oh, no, the arthritis pain must be worse than I thought."

As I have observed Suki's behaviour in the following days, I have noticed just how seldom she actually moves about or jumps up on anything these days.  I also noticed that when she does jump up onto the seat of one of her favourite chairs, she pauses for about 30 seconds as though she is getting her courage up in order to do something difficult and painful.

So, a few days ago, under the vet's direction, I increased the amount of pain medication I am giving Suki. Hopefully, the larger dosage will start to provide her with some real relief -- maybe enough relief so that when Joycelyn arrives tomorrow morning, Suki will, once again, madly chase that red dot up and down the hallway!

As for me, I continue along as usual.  I did see a specialist at the hospital this past week, but it was just to do an assessment of my overall treatment plan.  It was a helpful visit and I look forward to meeting with her again in two weeks.

As for this week, since there are no appointments other than my regularly scheduled visitors, it should be a quiet one.  I am actually looking forward to having a bit more time for doing art work. Lately, I seem to have been spending too much time answering emails and making comments on Facebook! Too many mornings lately, I suddenly find that it's time to feed Suki her lunch and I haven't even gotten around to my drawing software yet.  



"Icon -- No Greater Love Than This", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, revised 2016

When Judas had left them, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and God will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:31-33a, 34-35

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Hoya pubicalyx

"Hoya pubicalyx -- Pink Silver", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

I have posted information about the Hoya genus twice before in this blog: once in August, 2011 when I posted a drawing of Hoya carnosa (see below, left); the second time was also in August, but the year was 2014 when I posted a 
"Hoya carnosa", drawing by 
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
drawing of Hoya imperialis (see drawing at end of section).  

Since posting these drawings, I have continued to study these fascinating plants which are native to the Far East -- their range stretching from India to Australia. 

Now, let me share a bit of what I have learned about Hoya and Hoya pubicalyx, in particular.

Hoya pubicalyx ‘Pink Silver’ is a cultivar of the genus, Hoya. 'Pink Silver' was first cultivated in the Philippines. It produces large clusters of fragrant, attractive, star-shaped, pink flowers edged with white hairs. The leaves are dark green, often curling inward, with silver markings and lighter green underneath. 

Hoya is a member of the sub-family, Asclepiadoideae, which, until recently, was considered to be a family, not a sub-family. These days, all the “Asclepias” or “Milkweed” family members have been placed under the umbrella of the Apocynaceae (Dogbane) family. All species of Hoya are commonly known as Wax Plants due to the waxy look of the flower petals.  

"Hoya imperialis", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014
The genus, Hoya, was named for Thomas Hoy, an early 19th-century British botanist and head gardener for the Duke of Northumberland. The specific name of “pubicalyx” is taken from the Latin and means hairy calyx (“calyx”, although used in Latin, actually comes from the Ancient Greek κάλυξ and means "husk" or "pod") or "hairy husk".

Portions of the above text were taken from various Internet sources.


Here are some recent photos of "my boys".  I am always surprised, as I view each new batch of photos I receive, at how much they have grown in just a matter of weeks!

Braden the firefighter!

Rònàn explaining why children need to be careful around water

Rònàn gets the ball and heads for the net.  Come on, Braden. Go after that ball!

Rònàn getting acquainted with Mickey and the gang

Braden, who loves cars and all manner of motorized vehicles, 
seems to be enjoying a much older form of transportation.



Suki says:  "I don't think that wanting
someone to play the "red dot game"
with me whenever I am awake is
too much to ask!
As the batteries continue to die in the laser pointer, Suki continues to beg everyone who comes to visit to play the "red dot game" with her.  

It is almost embarrassing to watch Suki's fawning behaviour as she tries to get someones attention and then direct their vision towards the laser pointer sitting on the coffee table -- just waiting to be turned on.  

Until the arrival of this infernal laser machine, Suki had always been rather aloof with visitors -- often ignoring them completely. Now, she goes and sits next to them, looking into their eyes, purring loudly and letting herself be scratched (even in places where she normally does not like to be scratched).  She really plays up the sweet kitty routine to perfection -- all with an eye to turning the person's attention to the bright silver, laser pointer, tauntingly fashioned in the shape of a mouse. 

When no visitors are here, Suki is her usual self, following her normal routine and ignoring me unless she is hungry or wants to sleep in my lap for a while. 

Although she tries to hide it, I can tell that the arthritis pain in her hip is getting worse.  Poor thing, like me she has a physical disability for which there is little treatment other than pain medication.  I hate to think about it, but I should probably consider taking Suki back to the vet before long so that they can adjust her medication once again , giving her, perhaps, just a bit more relief.

As for me, things continue in their usual way.  This past week was pleasantly quiet with no appointments or problems.  I do have a medical appointment this week, however, with someone who will be trying a new form of pain-relief therapy.  I will let you know if I think it will help.

Our weather is finally turning Spring-like with milder temperatures and sunny skies.  Hopefully, we have had our last cold spell until sometime in late October.



"Christ the Good Shepherd", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, revised 2016

Today I am including the Alleluia response along with the Gospel since they complement one other so well.

Alleluia                                                                     John 10:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia. I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep, and mine know me. R. Alleluia, alleluia. 

Gospel                                                                      John 10:27-30  

Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Bits and Pieces

"Barren Tree Asleep in the Moonlight", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

How I love those barren trees of winter -- so stark against the sky. Once again, I have tried to indicate that the tree is truly a living thing by including the child as part of the trunk. People so often forget that trees are alive. They may look dead as they "hibernate" through the winter, but they are only sleeping -- waiting, waiting for the Spring.

I have always felt a strong kinship with trees in all their stages of life. I remember how excited I was as a youngster when I learned how long some trees have lived and that there were actually trees I could visit that had been alive for over 2,000 years.  That kind of life span seems incredible to us humans who are deemed lucky if we make it to 90.  Yet, even the life-span of the long-lived trees are but the briefest flicker when it comes to the life span of stars.  It truly amazes me that we, who live such a brief time, can be so knowledgeable about all these things around us which were alive long before we were born and will be living long after we are dead.

However, for now, let us leave behind the longevity of stars and turn to something which has a considerably shorter life span -- the Fiddlehead Fern. Take a look at the drawing below using Fiddlehead Ferns as part of a mandala. I featured these ferns in a previous posting and used this design, I believe, when I was speaking of the Golden Spiral.  Now, I have taken this design and placed it over an explosion of green, yellow and white which, in turn, creates a new mandala.  As you may recall, a mandala is traditionally a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point of light. 

"Mandala -- Fiddlehead Ferns", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Finally, I want to show you my drawing of the Spiral Begonia (see below). As you can tell from the name placed in single quote marks, this is a cultivar by the name of 'Escargot" (snail).  

In these leaves, we can find the same Golden Spiral we find in Fiddlehead Ferns, Nautilus shells and spiral galaxies.  What beautiful patterns Nature uses over and over again to create things which give us the feeling of perfect balance -- things where the tension between the inner and outer parts of the design are perfect yet unique.

"Spiral Begonia -- Begonia Rex cultorum group 'Escargot' "
 drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

If you are interested, here is a bit more information about Begonias.

There is a group of fancy-leafed Begonias (such as the spiral-leaf plant pictured above) which produce dramatic, large leaves streaked, veined, or splashed in shades of silver, pink, purple, cream, green, or burgundy. The name of this grouping of Begonia plants is “Begonia Rex Cultorum group” so named as all the plants in this group contain genetic material from the Begonia Rex plant which had its origins in India. 

The individual plants are known by their hybrid or cultivar name. Thus, the plant featured in the drawing above is simply known as Begonia ‘Escargot’ referring to the snail-like curl pattern at the base of the leaf – which, by the way, is actually in the shape of the Golden Spiral.

The genus, Begonia, was described in 1700 by Charles Plumier, a Franciscan monk and botanist. With the name he honoured Michel Bégon, a French botanist who was at the time Governor of Santo Domingo and French Canada. 

The first Begonia to reach England, B. minor, was sent by Dr William Brown from Jamaica in 1777. Following which, Sir Joseph Banks went on to introduce several species to the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. By 1850 there were 200 species known in Europe; about 50 of these from living plants. Currently about 1000 species are recognized, 25% of which are in cultivation and with over 10,000 cultivars and hybrids.

Portions of the above were taken from various Internet sources.


I did not take this photo, but it is so striking,
I could not resist using it.
As you might imagine, Suki has been a very happy cat this past week -- Joycelyn is back and she played the laser dot game with Suki every time she was here this past week!

And, not only that, I had a visit from a dear friend this past Friday who is also Suki's friend.  So. while she was here, she played the laser dot game with Suki as well.  After they stopped playing, Suki rewarded my friend by going and sitting next to her for the remainder of her visit. For years Suki would only sit next to me -- no one else. Now it appears that she considers anyone who plays the laser dot game with her as her new best friend.  What a clever cat she is!

Oh, yes, there was another funny Suki experience this past week and it had to do with food -- surprise, surprise!  

On Thursday, Suki suddenly begin begging for some kitty treats just about half an hour after she had eaten her lunch. I told her she did not need any more food and that, anyway, it was Thursday and if she gets treats at all, it usually happens on a Sunday.  Just as I said this to her, Suki meowed back at me and for some reason, her meow sounded similar to the words "tree - eat - day"!  I'm not making this up.

I was shocked and asked her to repeat what she had just said. So Suki meowed a few more times. Most of these meows sounded normal; however, one additional meow sounded a bit like 'tree - eat - day!  As I thought about it, I began to laugh and said to Suki: "No, no, Suki, I said that this is Thurs-day, not Treat-day!"  (It doesn't take much to amuse us old folks!).  

I do hope this cat is not really learning to speak English -- then she could really drive me crazy.  Can you imagine what it would be like to be awakened every morning by the meowie-sound of a cat shouting in my ear: "feed me, feed me, feed me, feed me, ad infinitum"?  Saints preserve us!

Oh, by the way, I ended up giving her some treats on Thursday after all -- I mean what else could I do after she meowed the word "treats"?  Such a clever cat!

As for me, I continue to have the same problems as usual although I am beginning to have some occasional problems with pain in my left hip joint when I am walking.  I guess that will be the site of the next big fight between me and Arthritis!

Thankfully, I do not have any appointments with doctors scheduled for the week ahead.  I do need to have some routine blood work done, but I can have that done at the clinic just down the street from me. So, all in all, I am hoping for a quiet week.



"Icon -- Christ Meets Peter at the Sea of Tiberias"
 by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, revised 2016

At that time, Jesus revealed himself to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “ am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:1-19

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Tibetan Images

"Tibetan Mother with Child", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

As are many people in the West, I am fascinated by the mystery that once was Tibet with its unique religious traditions, inaccessible mountain heights and beautiful, ancient temples filled with orange-robbed monks. Sadly, much of this culture is now destroyed since the invasion of the Chinese with their Communist ideology which does not easily tolerate ancient traditions and religious inclinations.

Tibetan woman shepherding yak herd
(source: Image by © (C) Zhang Jiang Tao / 

Still, there are vestiges left, I understand, out in the country-side where the prayer flags still snap in the cold winds off the mountains. This is the sentiment I am trying to express in today's first featured drawing.  The mother is dressed as Tibetan women have dressed for eons and her child is being carried in the traditional way.  As she walks the steep fields, the mountains are ever in her sight and the winds carry the sounds of flapping prayer flags and the tinkle of the bells worn by the yaks the woman is shepherding.

Tibet is a region on the Tibetan Plateau in Asia. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups. Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 metres (16,000 ft). The highest elevation in Tibet is Mount Everest, earth's highest mountain, rising 8,848 m (29,029 ft) above sea level. 

Tibetan Sand Painting

"Mandala -- Tibetan Sand Painting", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

"Tibetan representations of art are intrinsically bound with Tibetan Buddhism and commonly depict deities or variations of Buddha in various forms from bronze Buddhist statues and shrines, to highly colorful paintings and mandalas."

My drawing, above, is a very simple representation of a type of mandala that could have been created by Buddhist monks using coloured sands as their medium. Normally, however, traditional Tibetan Buddhist sand paintings picture much more complex designs filled with religious symbolism (see photo below). 

Tibetan monks applying sand during the
creation of a meditation mandala
The creation of a sand mandala follows traditional guidelines. 

First, various coloured sands are carefully placed on a large, flat table. Then the ceremony begins with the lamas (Tibetan Buddhist priests) consecrating the site and calling forth the forces of goodness. They chant, declare intention, do visualizations, play music, recite mantras, etc. After this, the lamas begin drawing an outline of the mandala to be sand painted on a wooden platform. 

The following days see the laying of the coloured sands. This is effected by pouring the sand from traditional metal funnels called a chak-pur. Each monk holds a chak-pur in one hand while running a metal rod on its serrated surface with the other hand. The vibration from this action causes the sands to flow like liquid. The finished mandala is formed of traditional, prescribed iconography that includes geometric shapes and a multitude of ancient spiritual symbols. The sand-painted mandala is used as a meditation tool or as an instrument for innumerable purposes such as social/cosmic healing of the environment. 

The destruction of the mandala after
the meditation is finished. 

(Source: )
Once the meditation is complete, the image is ceremoniously destroyed (see photo at left). The sand is then collected in a jar which is wrapped in silk and transported to a river (or any place with moving water), where it is released back into nature. While the destruction of such beauty seems strange to those in our culture, it is done as a teaching tool and metaphor for the "impermanence" of all things -- part of the teachings of the Tibetan Buddhist culture. 

Portions of the above were taken from Wikipedia and other Internet sources.


Everlastingly hopeful, Suki waits, each
morning, by the front door ... seeking
the answer to her burning question:
"Will Joycelyn be coming back today?"
It's a good thing that I am not an overly-possessive type person or I might be beginning to feel just a bit jealous right about now.  I mean, after all, I am the one who has fed, cared for and cleaned up after this cat for the past six years and here she is acting as though she is the loneliest cat in the world just because her playmate is on holiday!

Fortunately, I understand that what Suki is feeling (and how Suki is behaving because of those feelings) is not personal.  In other words, she is not acting this way because she wants to hurt me or doesn't like me -- she is acting in this manner because she has an addiction.

That's right -- you read the above correctly -- an addiction.  If she was a human person, I would be trying to get her to attend AA type meetings about now.  Sadly, I am pretty certain that there are no RDAA (Red Dot Addicts Anonymous) meetings for cats!

In all seriousness, I have become convinced that the coloured dot of light created by a laser pointer somehow affects the brains of certain cats -- affects it so much that these cats actually become "addicted" -- meaning that they actually crave to have the constant brain stimulation created by that bit of coloured light.  

I mean, here is poor Suki who, until a few months ago, had never even seen a laser pointer. Yet, from the very first time Joycelyn shone that red dot on the floor, Suki became obsessed with it.

Think about it... in one way or another, Suki has begged for that red dot every single day since that first day.  Her begging has mainly taken the form of waiting and watching every day in the hope that Joycelyn will suddenly appear.  Why is this?  Because Joycelyn is the one who makes the red dot happen. 

I mean, I have never known of anything else which captured Suki's attention in this way.  Even on the rare occasion when she finds a fly that has gotten into the apartment through the balcony door, she remains interested for only a limited amount of time.  She may chase the fly for a while, but then gives up and takes a nap.

On the other hand, I have never seen Suki lose interest in the red dot. Even when her joints are hurting so much that she simply cannot run anymore, she is quite happy to lie on the floor watching the red dot move back and forth in front of her.  Nor does she ever give any indication that she wants the red dot to go away so that she can eat or take a nap.

One of the career paths I have always thought would have been exciting is that of a research scientist.  Had I chosen that path, I am sure I would be able to set up the parameters for a research project on whether that red dot of the laser pointer actually has any lasting effect on the brains of cats and other mammals, including humans. Oh, and just so you know, I would find a way to do the research so that no cats or other creatures would be harmed in the process. Ah, well, that's enough daydreaming for one posting. 

As for me, I had two medical appointments this past week. The first appointment was with one of the pain specialists. Fortunately, at the moment, the pain situation is not too bad -- so long as I take plenty of opioid and neuropathic pain medications and don't move around too much, that is!

Then, once I finished there, I went over to the respirology unit where I had my semi-annual breathing test (I won't have to do another one now until early October). Unfortunately, the doctor was not pleased with the results which were about 5% lower than previous tests.  If my next one is the same or worse, he is threatening to change my puffer regimen to the really serious stuff. Yuck.  I really dislike having to use those things at all even if they do help a person breathe more easily.

I have one appointment this coming week, but it is just a follow-up so it should be easy. As well, a dear friend is stopping by for a visit. 

Speaking of friends and visitors, I was honoured by the unexpected visit this past week from a very dear friend.  Why do I say that I was honoured? Because even though she is unwell and suffers from chronic pain and dizziness, she made that long trip into the City, using public transit, to visit with me. I know what a trip like that would cost me in pain and suffering and so I am honoured by my friend's generous spirit. 



"Icon -- St. Thomas Encounters the Risen Christ", by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2016

A portion of today's Gospel:
... Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail-marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”  John 20:24-29

Sunday, 27 March 2016


"Double Snowdrop -- Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

A sure sign of spring, Galanthus nivalis, the Common Snowdrop as it’s normally called, is the best-known and most widespread of the 20 species in the genus, Galanthus -- family, Amaryllidaceae. Snowdrops are among the first bulbs to bloom as winter ends and spring begins and can form impressive carpets of white in areas where they are native or have been naturalized.

Galanthus nivalis is widely grown in gardens, particularly in northern Europe, and is widely naturalised in woodlands in the regions where it is grown. It is, actually, native to a large area of Europe, from Spain in the west, eastwards to Poland and the Ukraine. It is naturalized in parts of North America from Newfoundland to North Carolina.

Snowdrops contain an active substance called galantamine (or galanthamine) which can be helpful in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, though it is not a cure.

Today's featured drawing is that of an early cultivar, the common double snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus 'Flore Pleno', which was in appearance by 1703 when it was illustrated in The Duchess of Beaufort's Book. This cultivar spread rapidly throughout northern Europe. It is very similar to the common snowdrop except it has extra flower petals often marked with light green.
"Common Snowdrop --
Galanthus nivalis"
, drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

The generic name, Galanthus, comes from the Greek gala (milk) and anthos (flower) – probably referring to the milk-white colour of the flower. The epithet, nivalis, comes from the Latin and means "of the snow", referring either to the fact that a field full of snowdrops looks as though it has a light carpeting of snow or the fact, once again, of the flower’s snow-white colour. 

As mentioned previously, the snowdrops featured in the drawing above are cultivars known as Double Snowdrops. Their proper name contains the word, pleniflorus, which is a combination of two Latin words and means “an abundance of petals”.

There is a German legend which says that when the gods created snow, they gave it no colour. Instead, they gave Snow the task of visiting the flowers of the earth to get one of them to share some colour with Snow. Snow respectfully asked flower after flower, but they all refused to give up any of their colours. Finally, Snow visited the gentle snowdrop. Seeing that the snowdrop was a kind and generous soul, Snow decided to make a deal. In exchange for sharing her colour, Snow agreed to allow the snowdrop to bloom first every spring. The delicate snowdrop agreed and cheerfully blooms amid the snow each spring reminding us all that springtime is here. Thus, this delicate bloom came to symbolize hope and rebirth -- those very qualities associated with the Easter season. 

Finally, here is a "petal wheel" (or mandala) I designed featuring one of my drawings of snowdrop blossoms as the center-point of each "petal".

"Snowdrop Wheel", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Portions of the above text were taken from various Internet sources, including Wikipedia.


Suki fervently praying to Bast, Goddess of
cats and bringer of protection, joy, dance,
music, family and love.
Well, Suki continues to mope about quite a bit as well as spending a lot of time in the morning watching the front door. She is obviously missing her playmate, Joycelyn.

It is interesting to me how things have changed over the past few years.  Up until 2013, Joycelyn came once each week to help me with the cleaning, laundry, etc. At that time, she had been coming to help me once a week for the past 15 years.  For many of those years, as some of you may recall, my wonderful cat, miz k.d.. was still alive. Suki was not born until early 2008 and did not come to live with me until the beginning of March, 2009.  By then, miz k.d. had died from kidney failure.  So, from 2009 until autumn 2013, Suki saw Joycelyn for a few hours a day one day a week.  During those 5 years, Suki basically ignored Joycelyn.

Then somewhere in late 2013, my health deteriorated rapidly and it became obvious that if I wanted to stay in my own home, then I was going to have to arrange for a lot more assistance.  I discussed this with Joycelyn and she was able to arrange her work schedule so that she could come to my home more frequently and could also do all my shopping, cooking and running errands while continuing to do the cleaning, laundry and so on.  

We were several months into our new regimen when I became aware that Suki was paying a lot more attention to Joycelyn than she had previously.  I mentioned this to Joycelyn who then took the first steps in the process of learning which games Suki liked to play.  Once they begin playing together whenever Joycelyn made her visits to care for me, Suki became much more interested in what Joycelyn was doing. Suki would often follow Joycelyn around as though hoping she would stop her work and play with her a bit more.

Then, last year at Christmas, when Joycelyn brought Suki a laser pointer as a gift, everything changed once again.  From the very first time Joycelyn used that laser pointer and showed Suki that tantalizing red dot, Suki became Joycelyn's new, best friend.

As I have told you previously, this was when Suki began waiting, watching and listening by the front door on those days when she somehow knew that Joycelyn was supposed to visit.  Then, as soon as Joycelyn arrived, Suki would begin meowing at her and trying to lead her towards the table where the laser pointer is kept.  Poor Joycelyn barely had time to take off her coat and shoes and give me a quick hug before she felt compelled to begin the "chase the red dot" game with Suki.

They usually play with that thing until Joycelyn's arm gets tired and she has to tell Suki that playtime is finished.  Suki, of course, continues to be always hopeful during the remaining time that Joycelyn is here. I know this to be true even though Suki appears to have given up and settled down for a nap. I can tell from the position and occasional movement of her ears that she is not really sleeping the way she will once Joycelyn has actually left the premises!

So, I was thinking about how Suki, if she really was able to pray, would undoubtedly pray to the Egyptian goddess, Bast, who is not only the "goddess of cats", but who, in the earlier centuries of Egypt's history, had been represented as an actual cat and not the cat woman shown in the drawing above.  

These thoughts led me to do a quick sketch of a Suki-type cat at "prayer", praying for the one thing I know she is really missing -- Joycelyn and the "red dot".

Of course, I am missing Joycelyn very much also.  There is still a full week to go before she returns; meanwhile, we are muddling through as best we can with other arrangements.

Thankfully, I have not gotten any worse during these last few weeks.  I continue to have problems at night when the pain either awakens me or keeps me from sleeping at all.  However, this would be occurring whether Joycelyn was here or not.

I was supposed to have a medical appointment this past Thursday, but I ended up cancelling as the weather was quite bad with snow and freezing rain predicted. I try not to ever go out anymore whenever the sidewalks are reported to be icy.  I have seen people with walkers like mine lose their footing when the wheels of the walker suddenly begin sliding on the icy surface. I have no desire to take a tumble -- especially now that winter is actually over and the cold weather this past week was just an early spring, freakish-type storm.

I do have a doctor's appointment this week. I don't expect any problems as today's weather report predicts that the temperature will remain spring-like for the entire week.  Also, this spring-like weather will include lots of "April showers" even though it is still March! Thankfully, rain is much safer for walking than icy sidewalks.



"Icon -- Christ is Risen, Alleluia", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2016

Gospel for the Mass of Easter Day:

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
 John 20:1-9

Happy Easter greetings to you all from Suki and Sallie.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Fiddlehead Ferns

"Fiddlehead Ferns", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Matteuccia struthiopteris (common names Fiddlehead ferns, Ostrich ferns or Shuttlecock ferns) is a crown-forming, colony-forming fern, occurring in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in central and northern Europe, northern Asia, and northern North America. The genus name, Matteuccia, comes from the surname of C. Matteucci, 19th century Italian physicist. The species epithet, struthiopteris, comes from Ancient Greek words struthio, meaning ostrich, and pterion, meaning wing.

Fiddlehead ferns, or just plain Fiddleheads as they as usually called, are best known as a delicious springtime vegetable with a taste reminiscent of asparagus. First, make sure you do cook them! You can get sick if you eat them raw or don’t cook them long enough. So, in order to prepare them properly, do the following: "With a brush, carefully remove brown scales then wash well under cold running water to remove dirt before cooking; trim woody stems. Boil Fiddleheads in lightly salted boiling water for 10 minutes (or steam for 20 minutes.) Serve at once with a drizzle of olive oil or melted butter and a squeeze of lemon."  Canadian Living, 2012  

"I would recommend an experienced guide the first time to be on the safe side. Some Fiddleheads look like the Ostrich fern varieties and are not only not edible but can be toxic. Once you see them for the first time, Fiddleheads become very easy to recognize. They are bright green and can easily be seen amidst the dark soil, twigs, and leaves from which they emerge. They grow in clumps of about about six. Pick them before they unfurl, when they’re about one to four inches in height. You can simply pinch and snap the stem about a half inch to an inch from the coiled head. Look for the more tightly wound Fiddleheads and don’t be afraid to brush away leaves, twigs and logs. Sometimes you’ll find the bigger ones in more hidden, cool areas. Never pick a clump clean. Leave at least a few unpicked Fiddleheads. Otherwise, the fern will die." Fearless Eating Blog, date unknown.

I became aware of Fiddleheads years ago when some good friends took me out into the woods close to their home and showed me how to clearly identify the bright, green swirls of fern that we were busily collecting to cook and serve with our evening meal. I became interested in drawing Fiddlehead ferns after seeing a photo of one in the series I did on the Golden Ratio. The unfurled Fiddlehead fern frond follows the same Golden Ratio of so many other things in Nature. (See my drawing below which demonstrates this).

"Fiddlehead Ferns and the Golden Ratio", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Ain't Mother Nature amazing?!



Suki sits each morning now near the front door,
waiting for Joycelyn to come back from holiday.
Suki's behavior reveals that she somehow knows that Joycelyn has gone away.  I know how strange that sounds, especially since Joycelyn was here on her regularly-scheduled day at the end of last week and is not expected to be here until her next regularly-scheduled day, tomorrow.

Yet, somehow, Suki's behaviour has changed.  Let me explain... She has now started waiting by the front door every morning from the time she finishes her breakfast about 6:15 until around 8:30 a.m. -- the normal span of time during which Joycelyn might arrive on one of her scheduled days.

As I have told you previously, soon after Joycelyn gave her the laser pointer for Christmas and started using it to play games with Suki, the cat began to wait for Joycelyn by the front door on the regularly-scheduled days when she comes to care for me.  Suki did not wait and watch for her on the other days of the week -- just those days.

Now, however, she has started waiting by the door every morning during the time that Joycelyn might conceivably arrive.  What's going on here?

I had thought that Suki would probably notice something strange when Joycelyn did not arrive tomorrow, but why would she begin this strange waiting ritual now?  How could Suki possibly know that Joycelyn is out of the country on holiday and won't be back until the end of the month?

As I continue my observations and studies, I will keep you informed.  Could Suki possibly be an alien disguised as a cat?  Is that why she is so smart? Of course, I do know some people whose dislike of cats has led them to believe that all cats are invaders from another planet, but these, for the most part, are just very grumpy men! 

As for me, I am doing as well as can be expected.  I saw the doctor this past week and learned that my blood pressure reading is now around 121/70 every time the nurse takes it.  So, that is at least one thing in my life that is under control.  I wish it were as easy to get these various nerve and joint pains under control; however, it seems that some days they just refuse to be controlled.

So far it hasn't really hit me that Joycelyn is away for two weeks, but I expect I will start to feel it when she doesn't show up tomorrow and I have to begin to work with the temporary caregivers who will be coming in her absence.

C'est la vie!



"Icon -- Entrance into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

(Gospel for the Procession with Palms)

After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”  Luke 19:28-40

This passage always reminds me of that wonderful moment in the film/stage play "Jesus Christ, Superstar" where the Palm Sunday scene is acted out as the crowd begins to sing:

Heysanna Sanna Sanna Ho Sanna
Hey Sanna Ho Sanna 
Hey J C, 
J C won't you smile at me? 
Sanna Ho Sanna 
Hey Superstar

and the final, poignant refrain:

Hey Sanna Sanna Sanna Hosanna 
Hey Sanna Hosanna 

 CROWD (alone) 
 Hey JC, 
JC won't you die for me? 
Sanna Hosanna 
Hey Superstar