Sunday, 28 June 2015

Rhododendron Revisions

"Florida Flame Azalea -- Rhododendron austrinum",  drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer,
Revised 2014

Recently, I have been taking a look at my various Azalea drawings. This is due to the fact that a new correspondent (from Alabama, no less) has been inquiring about them as he is interested in acquiring a couple of them for printing and framing.

Of course, what happens when I go back in my files to search for things, is that I usually find at least two versions of the same flowering plant! This is due to the fact that I simply cannot resist revising my drawings as I learn new techniques for creating them.

"Sweet Azalea -- Rhododendron arborescens", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer,
Revised 2014 

These two were posted so long ago (2008 for one) that I thought it would be a good idea to post and comment on the newer version of each.  So now let me tell you, once again, a little bit about the Florida Flame Azalea followed by information on the Sweet Azalea.

The Florida Wild Azalea (Rhododendron austrinum, family, Ericaceae) is a species of flowering plant known by the common names Florida flame azalea, honeysuckle azalea, Southern yellow azalea, and orange azalea. It is native to the southern United States, where it can be found in Florida (particularly in the Florida Panhandle), Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. The plant is a common garden species because of its showy, fragrant flowers in shades of yellow or cream to nearly red. They attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Rhododendron is from the Greek: rhodon meaning “rose” and dendron meaning “tree”, referring to the flower color of many of the best-known Azaleas; austrinum is Latin for “southern”.

Sweet Azalea (Rhododendron arborescens, Ericaceae Family) is named for its highly fragrant early summer flowers which are white to pale pink with red stamens. It is one of North America's lovely deciduous azaleas, native to parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia to Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and parts of Alabama. It grows along streams in the mountains and in moist woods. It usually blooms in late summer but can be variable in flowering time, in some places blooming as early as April and, in others, as late as September. As its species name (arborescens from the Latin meaning “tree-like”) suggests, this plant becomes tree-like with age. It can grow up to 18 feet tall but usually tops out at 10 feet. R. arborescens was first discovered by John Bartram, the famous American plant explorer.

Portions of this section were taken from various Internet sources.


Suki day-dreaming of her favourite food!
Poor Suki has been feeling unwell for the past couple of days.  It doesn't appear to be anything serious, but, obviously, I am keeping a close eye on her just in case.

If she was human, I would just think that she has a virus that is affecting her digestive system. Or, there may simply be a problem with the fat content of the wet food she craves so badly four times daily.  

So in the interest of helping her feel better (and preventing me from having to clean the litter box every few hours), I have her on a strict diet of her high-quality dry food and water!

I don't need to tell you what Suki thinks about this arrangement. She may not be feeling well, but she still wants a small serving of that delicious, gravy-covered, wet food every six hours!  My refusal, over the past day and a half to give her anything but dry food and water has caused her to become an almost unbearable pest.  

Every time I get up from my chair for any reason, here comes Suki trying to "shepherd" me into the kitchen.  When I do end up in the kitchen for any reason, I have to carefully watch every step I take as Suki keeps inserting herself next to my feet and butting my legs with her head -- almost as though she is trying to push me towards the pantry where the unopened cans of her wet food are kept.

Although Suki will continue to complain about the current regimen, I'm sure, I intend to stick with it since there have been no stomach distress episodes for the past 12 hours.  I will stay the course since her well being is more important than any discomfort I might experience from Suki playing the part of the pest!

As for me, I continue to continue... in other words, I am doing the same as always.  

The only medical appointment I had this past week was with my family doctor over the telephone.  After our discussion, she contacted the pharmacology people at the hospital to find out which antibiotic was left for me to try. [I have now tried all the usual antibiotics for this type of infection and the infection is still there.  The only other antibiotics my doctor knew about would have required me to be admitted to the hospital as these can only given intravenously.] Fortunately, for me and Suki, the pharmacology folks were able to recommend a new antibiotic which my doctor had my pharmacy deliver to me.  I will let you know what happens.

This week I have an ultrasound scheduled plus one of my dear friends, whom I haven't seen for a couple of months now, is coming for a visit -- a visit I am looking forward to very much. Otherwise, I will just have my regular visits with Joycelyn who takes such good care of me and my weekly visit with my dear friend and neighbour, Sharon.  As always, I will use every event as a means to help me distance myself from the constant pain. I have to balance things carefully, however -- if I overdo it, then I am left with even more pain.  What a silly nuisance these aging bodies of ours can be!

As I am sure you are all aware, July 1st, Wednesday, is Canada Day and Saturday, July 4th, is U.S. Independence Day.  While Suki and I will stay at home and celebrate quietly, I trust that most of you will be celebrating with family and friends.  I wish all of you -- my followers and friends here in Canada as well as my followers, friends and family members in the U.S. -- a safe and happy day! 



"Icon -- Christ the Healer", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, revised 2015

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.....”  Mk 5:21ff

Here is a portion of today's rather lengthy Gospel -- all of which is about Christ, The Healer.  In this Gospel, not only are people healed by simply touching Christ's garment, He is also able to bring a young girl back from death.  Amazing stuff that has always left me wondering why Christ demonstrated this power to heal, a power which He appears to have passed along to his disciples, but a power which seems to largely have disappeared from the Church soon afterwards.  Sure, we still continue to hear of miraculous healings -- often attributed to the intercession of one saint or another -- but where is this simple touch that brings instantaneous healing of body, mind and spirit?

I have heard and read many answers to this question, but as I look about the world with its billions of sick and suffering, I just don't feel that anyone has come up with the right answer yet.  As usual, I am thrown right back to my faith in God who is Love and who seems to ask me to trust that, in the end, I will be able to say with Julian of Norwich:  "All is well and all is well and all manner of thing is well."

May we all know the peace which comes from trusting in Love -- Love that will bring us through all the joys and sorrows of this life to that place of perfect peace and unconditional love unending.


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.


Sunday, 14 June 2015

Poppies and Blue Cornflowers

"Poppies Among Blue Cornflowers", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

The poppy is a flowering plant in the family, Papaveraceae. The best known species of poppy, Papaver somniferum, produces edible seeds, and is also the source of the crude drug opium which contains powerful medicinal alkaloids such as morphine and has been used since ancient times as an analgesic/narcotic medicinal drug. Following the trench warfare which took place in the poppy fields of Flanders, during the 1st World War, poppies have become a symbol of remembrance of soldiers who have died during wartime. The poppy of wartime remembrance is Papaver rhoeas, (see those in the drawing above) the red-flowered corn poppy. This poppy is a common weed in Europe. 

Speaking of symbolism, poppies have long been used as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death: Sleep because the opium extracted from them is a powerful sedative, peace because a small amount can change manic behavior into peaceful behaviour and death because an overdose leads to death while the blood-red color of the wild poppy signifies spilled blood. A second interpretation of poppies in Classical mythology is that the bright scarlet color, which some see as signifying blood and death, does, instead, represent a promise of resurrection after death. 

Now for the second flower in this drawing... Centaurea cyanus commonly known as blue cornflower, bachelor's button or boutonniere flower, is an annual flowering plant in the family, Asteraceae, native to Europe. Through introduction as an ornamental plant in gardens and a seed contaminant in crop seeds, it is now naturalized in many other parts of the world, including North America and parts of Australia. 

Cornflowers have been used and prized historically for their blue pigment. Cornflowers are often used as an ingredient in some tea blends and herbal teas and is probably best-known as being included in the Lady Grey blend of Twinings. The cornflower is an edible flower so it can be used to add colour to salads. In folklore, cornflowers were worn by young men in love. If the flower faded too quickly, it was taken as a sign that the man's love was not returned. In herbalism, a decoction of cornflower is effective in treating conjunctivitis and as a wash for tired eyes. 

The species Latin name, Cyanus, was given the cornflower in honour of a youthful devotee of the goddess Flora (the mother of all flowers). Cyanus, out of love for the goddess, wiled away his time weaving flower-garlands to honour Flora and so neglected his own requirements for good health. Thus, he fell ill and died in a field of millet. Flora for love of him made him into the flower that still bears his name and to this day grows resplendently in fields of grain. The name of the genus, Centaurea, is derived from Centaur (Chiron), a mythological creature, who taught mankind the healing virtue of herbs.

This is my fifth or sixth drawing that includes poppies.  While I am not as fond of them as I am of Calla Lilies, I really do like them -- especially the red-flowered corn poppy. Expect to see more drawings of them in the future!

Much of the above information was taken from various Internet sources.


Sadly, I was not able to attend the Baptism of Rònàn after all. It wasn't the pain that kept me at home; rather, it was these blessed antibiotics the doctor has me on!  Thankfully, I received a number of photos from the event the very next day and these certainly lifted my spirits.  Here are some of them:

Rònàn all dressed up and ready to go to church!

Rònàn says:  "If I'm ready to go, why aren't you?"

Rònàn says:  "Well, at least my big brother, Braden, is finally ready!  Now
where are those parents of ours?

Rònàn says:  "Well, at least my godfather here and ready to go!  Mom, Dad, we're 
gonna be late if you don't get a move on!!



"OK, so what's going on here?
Do I need to run and hide or can I 

just stay put?"
How does Suki know?  That's the question I am asking today. Let me explain...

Normally, when someone knocks on my door, Suki becomes instantly alert and ready to act. Since I respond to any knock with the shouted question: "who is it?", Suki usually does take any action until she hears their response.  If it is a voice she recognizes, she will often simply stay where she is. If it is a voice she does not recognize, then she gets up and moves close to the bedroom doorway in case she has to make a mad dash for her bedroom closet hideaway!

However, there is one scenario which always elicits a deep growling noise from Suki:  whenever a workman knocks on my door [remember, for Suki "workman" means "noise monster"]. This growling noise occurs with the first knock -- not when I shout "who is it" -- not when I actually open the door -- but with the very first sound of knocking. So, how does she know?  How can Suki tell in that first instant that the person knocking is the "noise monster" and not a friend or some person from the post office?  I mean, think about it -- how can she possibly know? 

I am mentioning all of this because the "noise monster" visited us around 9 a.m. this past Thursday.  Suki was sleeping soundly in her usual after-breakfast location when there was a loud knocking on the front door.  Immediately, Suki was alert and growling -- making that sound that cats make when they are saying: "if you threaten me in any way, I will attack you." I called out:  "who is it?" and as soon as the guy shouted back: "I'm here to fix the hole in the closet wall", Suki made a mad dash for her bedroom bolt hole.

I pressed the automatic door opener so that the guy could come in and after we exchanged a few words, he set about putting a metal door where the hole had been.  From now on when they need to gain access to the pipes, all they will have to do is open this door -- not knock another hole in my wall.

He finished his work after about 45 minutes and left. However, Suki was not seen again until around 11:30. At this point she emerged from the bedroom closet to begin her regular begging campaign in hopes that she might get fed before her 12 noon lunch time! I was tempted to tease her about being such a scaredy-cat, but refrained -- after all, it had been a rather traumatic morning for her!

As for me, things remain pretty much the same.  As you read in the 
Rònàn and Braden section, I was not able to attend the Baptism. Thankfully, that was the only event scheduled for week. Otherwise, there were just the usual visits at home with Joycelyn and Sharon and phone calls from my sister and some special friends.

This week I have a couple of doctor's appointments scheduled. One is simply a follow-up appointment -- me checking in and getting a prescription for enough medication to get me through another six months. The other appointment will let me know if I am finally infection free after having had two, 10-day periods of antibiotics over the past 4 weeks.  Here's hoping that all the bad bugs are finally dead!



"Icon -- Christ the Teacher", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, Rev. 2014

Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private. Mk. 4:26-34

I am often wondered about the statement found in today's Gospel:  "...but to his own disciples He explained everything in private." Christ, we are told here, explained everything, but those same disciples seemed to understand so little -- they continued to ask questions which show that they don't really understand very much at all.

It seems to me that things really haven't changed very much in all the centuries since.  I mean, I have had so much explained to me "in private" and yet I still understand practically nothing.  Am I the exception or the rule? 

For instance, do you understand how we, the creatures created by the God who is Love, continue, daily, to do the most unloving, terrifyingly evil things to one another and to the creation which surrounds us?  We not only do these things but then justify them as "doing the will of God". We seldom seem to ask how the Will of Divine Love can be so unloving.

So, I pray not only for actual understanding but, above all, for a heart filled with Christ-like love -- a love that will infuse understanding with compassion and bring forth actions which reveal the loving concern that God has for each and every aspect of creation.  May we live our lives like the fruitful trees of the parable. Growing as our loving Creator intended and providing food, shelter, shade and safety for others our whole lives through.


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Hands and Arms!

"Girl in a Chair", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Today's drawing was inspired by a painting called "Golden Girl". It is the work of a living artist, Michael Garmash. I was attracted to it because of the placement of the hands and arms.  While I remain dissatisfied with what I accomplished in this particular drawing, I intend to continue to work on these various body parts until I can draw them correctly! So, expect to continue seeing more of such compositions.

As for the artist, Michael Garmash was born in Lugansk ( Ukraine, USSR) in 1969. He began painting at the age of three. When he began his formal education at age 6, his teachers, recognizing real, natural talent, sent his works to a variety of exhibitions in what was then the Soviet Union where his work was praised and encouraged. 

In 1992, already married to his wife, Inessa, also an artist, he began studying at the St. Petersburg Academy of Art. His painting style, as well as that of his wife, is known as romantic impressionism. In addition to painting, he has also excelled in the creation of stained-glass windows. 

Today, Michael and Inessa Garmash are considered two of the finest romantic impressionists of our day. One of the most unusual aspects of their work is that both Michael and Inessa often combine their talents – both contributing their artistic abilities on the same painting. Here is the story of how their first collaboration occurred. 

A few years after their marriage, Michael began a painting of their young daughter, Polina, for a project at the Academy. However, the two-year- old Polina came across the painting during her father’s absence and decided to embark upon her own artistic career! Inessa, after seeing what her daughter had done and not wanting her husband to be upset, fixed the painting using her own training, packed it up, wrapped it and gave it to him for submission. Michael submitted the painting for review and was praised for completing his best work ever. When the painting was returned, Michael was surprised to see the finished painting and immediately recognized his wife's hand in the completed work. After questioning Inessa as to what had prompted her to work on the painting, they realized that their combined efforts provided them with a unique gift which they have continued to use.

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


Rònàn standing on his Dad's lap

Rònàn will be baptized today at his parish church.  Although the church is quite a distance from where I live, I will definitely be in attendance. Today, not even the pain will stop me from being there on Rònàn's special day.

If I end up with any photos, I will be certain to share them with you in next Sunday's blog posting. 

Of course, Braden will be there as well!

Braden -- The Axeman Cometh!  Play that guitar!

As for this photo of Braden... While it is a bit unusual, I do like it as it reminds me of those photos/videos of a wild guitar player in a rock band who, at the end of a particularly energetic song, raises his guitar (or axe) above his head and brings it crashing down on the floor! 



Suki trying to figure out what I am doing?

Another quiet week with Suki... no noise monsters invading the apartment, no fire alarms -- false or otherwise -- going off and not too much complaining by Suki when I failed to get out of bed after she had made several attempts at blind-rattling and bell ringing.  In fact, she even allowed me to sleep until almost 8 a.m. on Saturday morning!  

Of course, the business of letting me sleep in on Saturday might have something to do with Suki feeling guilty over the fact that on Friday, she gobbled down her breakfast too quickly and ended up disgorging it all over the rug in the hallway! 

Fortunately, I was close by at the time and so was able to clean up her mess quickly before it had a chance to penetrate that "Scotchguard" stuff they put on these rugs now.  However, I did speak to her quite severely and at great length about what a naughty cat she had been -- reminding her that she is now of an age where she should know better than to gobble down her food in the first place!  Since then, I have been monitoring her carefully and keeping her on half rations just in case she threw up due to some illness rather than greedy eating.  So far, so good.

As for me, I am now back on another round of antibiotics for this stubborn infection that is just refusing to go away.  I had finished 10 days of antibiotics about a week ago and so this past Wednesday I went for tests to see if the infection was gone.  It wasn't and so now I am on another type of antibiotic -- supposedly more bacteria specific.  Hopefully, this one will do the job.
"Icon--St. Ronan the Silent",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie"
Thayer, 2014, Rev. 2015

As you know, I will be attending the Baptism of dear Rònàn this afternoon at 2 p.m. I made a print of the icon I did of his patron saint and had it mounted so this will be my Baptismal gift to him.

St. Rònàn the Silent, pray for him.



(Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ)

"Icon -- Corpus Christi", by the  hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, revised 2015

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day when the Passover Lamb was killed, the disciples asked him, "Where would you have us go to prepare the Passover meal for you?" So Jesus sent two of his disciples with these instructions, "Go into the city and there a man will come to you carrying a jar of water. Follow him to the house he enters and say to the owner, 'The Master says: Where is the room where I may eat the Passover meal with my disciples?' Then he will show you a large room upstairs, already arranged and furnished. There you will prepare for us." The disciples went off. When they reached the city, they found everything just as Jesus had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. And he said, "Take this, it is my body." Then he took a cup and after he had given thanks, passed it to them and they all drank from it. And he said, "This is my blood, the blood of the Covenant, which is to be poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not taste the fruit of the vine again until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God." After singing psalms of praise, they went out to the Mount of Olives.  Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

Today's Feast deals, once again, with things more sublime than mere words can express or normal human reasoning can comprehend. If what the Church proclaims on this day is true, then those who faithfully receive the consecrated Bread (and Wine) are being fed by the Corpus of Christ. God has become their very food and drink!  

Just think of that common expression used so frequently these days by "diet doctors":  you are what you eat.  If that is true, then what do we become when we feed on the God who is Love, love itself? 

If only it were that simple.  In reality, we all know of many people who, now and throughout the centuries, have received Holy Communion daily and have done terrible, hateful things.  As well, we all know of people who receive Holy Communion daily and whose lives of loving action transform not only themselves but all those with whom they come in contact. How does such transformation occur and why are some transformed and not others?

Once again, I must acknowledge my ignorance before such a great mystery.  I remain silent and, instead, give you the words of St. Thomas Aquinas from the hymn he prepared for this Feast:

Down in adoration falling, the sacred Host we hail; 
O'er ancient forms departing, newer rites of grace prevail; 
Faith for all defects supplying, where the feeble senses fail.
From the Tantum Ergo Sacramentum by St. Thomas Aquinas

Lord of Love, truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, make our hearts like Yours.


Sunday, 31 May 2015

Milk and Wine Lily (Crinum zeylanicum)

"Milk and Wine Lily (Crinum zeylanicum)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

"Crinum lilies are one of the most common old garden and cemetery plants. They always remind me of the southern USA where I grew up. They're huge, the biggest of all bulbs. They're so showy and fragrant that they border on being obnoxious. Although not common in commerce anymore, many country yards still have a clump or two. Crinums became common southern dooryard plants around the beginning of the 1900s. There are about 130 species of Crinums, native mainly to the tropics and South Africa."

Crinum zeylanicum, commonly known as Milk and Wine Lily, is a member of the Amaryllidaceae family. Crinum comes from the Greek krinon, meaning lily; zeylanicum means of, or from, Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

In the tropical and subtropical areas where the Milk and Wine lily is native, both the bulbs and the leaves are used for their medicinal properties. It is reportedly used as a febrifuge (i.e. as medication to reduce fever) and as an analgesic (i.e. to relieve pain). The roasted bulbs are crushed and applied to abscesses and used, as well, as a treatment for “rheumatism”. The juice of the leaf is used to relieve the pain of an earache.

Of course, I was attracted to these flowers for two reasons: I remember them from my childhood and I love the strips of colour on the milky white.  

To be honest, I really do not care much for most lilies as I have always found the odour to be somewhat overpowering.  I do enjoy Crinum zeylanicum, however, from a distance.  As most of you are well aware, I do love Calla Lilies, but these, as I have told you often enough, are not true lilies at all.

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


Suki in a moment of contemplation!
Well, Suki hasn't done anything especially outrageous this past week.  That is not to say that she has been well-behaved -- no, she has been her usual frustratingly, lovable self.

Actually, I had expected to be able to tell you about Suki's latest interaction with the "noise monster" as workmen were scheduled to finally fix the hole they left in the back of my entryway coat closet (they plan to install a metal door so that, in future, they can reach the pipes behind the wall without breaking through the wall again).  However, they were evidently called out on some emergency or other and so the work on my wall was postponed.  I'm sure I will be getting another letter requesting "permission to enter" sometime in the near future.  So, you can look forward to soon hearing about Suki's behaviour when the "noise monster" comes to visit once again!

As for me, I had a lengthy visit with the pain specialist this past week during which we talked about the results of all the tests I have had recently. Unfortunately, there was no good news.  The whole spine/neck disease has definitely gotten worse and the prognosis is that it will continue to worsen.

There were, however, a couple of painful areas in my arm and leg that he thought might be unrelated to the disease and, if so, there may be a way to provide me with some long-term relief in these areas. So, a couple of additional tests are now scheduled. I will let you know what we find out.

Ronàn playing with a bucket full of toys!
By the way, next Sunday Ronàn will be baptized.  Please pray for him.



"Icon - Holy Trinity (Hospitality of Abraham and Sarah)", by the hand
of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010, rev. 2015

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Mt 28:16-20

For Trinity Sunday, I am using my icon of the three angels visiting Abraham and Sarah.  As most of you know, this event, found in the 18th chapter of the Book of Genesis, has been seen by the Church for centuries as a "foretelling" of the doctrine of the Triune God.

You may recall that back in 2010 I featured an icon of Rublev, the Russian iconographer, famous for "writing" the icon of the three angels.  The icon has been known ever since as "The Trinity". 

Here is my icon which includes a copy of Rublev's famous work:

"Icon - Rublev the Iconographer", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer,
2010, rev. 2015

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is, in my opinion, so far beyond human understanding that I, an ordinary laywoman, would be an utter fool to attempt to comment.  So, I won't.  I just hope that the images will speak to you about this Community of Love.

St. Andrei Rublev, pray for us.

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


Sunday, 24 May 2015


"Woman Daydreaming", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Daydreaming is defined as a short-term detachment from one's immediate surroundings -- a time during which a person's contact with reality is blurred and partially substituted by a visionary fantasy, especially one of happy, pleasant thoughts, hopes or ambitions, imagined as coming to pass and experienced while awake. 

There are many types of daydreams and there is no consistent definition among psychologists; however, the characteristic that is common to all forms of daydreaming meets the criteria for mild dissociation. 

Daydreaming is a natural, human activity --  especially among younger people.  Recent studies have shown that it can be beneficial for people in creative or artistic careers, such as composers, novelists and filmmakers, developing new ideas through daydreaming. Similarly, research scientists and mathematicians have developed new ideas by daydreaming about their subject areas.

Of course, throughout the centuries -- especially once mankind began working with tools that require concentration -- daydreaming has often been frowned up.  Sayings such as "idle hands are the Devil's workshop..." (Proverbs 16) have been used frequently to reprimand anyone appearing to simply sit and think.  So, daydreaming has often gotten a bad rap even though it appears to be something beneficial to the human race -- and like night dreams, maybe even necessary for good mental health.  

Of course, as most of us can admit, many of our daydreams, especially during our adolescent years, were often about us accomplishing great things -- we would see ourselves as a mix between Superman/woman and Mother Teresa -- righting the world's wrongs -- particularly those in our own lives!  Even though I can recall many such daydreams of my own, I also realize now how important those dreams were in helping me to cope, successfully, with the frightening, and often violent, world that was my family.

Now let me speak a bit about the inspiration for this particular drawing.  

Quite by accident, I came across a painting entitled La dormiente (The Sleeper) by Tamara de Łempicka (1898 - 1980 -- born Maria Górska in Warsaw, The Kingdom of Poland [Królestwo Polskie] under the rule of the Russian Empire, into a wealthy and prominent family).  In Łempicka's painting, the woman has her eyes closed in sleep; however, I decided that I wanted my drawing to be of a woman awake, but daydreaming.

Of course, I was first attracted to La dormiente by the sleeping woman's hands.  I knew at once that I wanted to try to draw those hands in that position and it was those hands on which I spent the majority of my effort.

Łempicka, by the way, was a Polish Art Deco painter and "the first woman artist to be a glamour star". Influenced by Cubism, Lempicka became the leading representative of the Art Deco style across two continents, a favourite artist of many Hollywood stars, referred to as 'the baroness with a brush'. She was the most fashionable portrait painter of her generation among the haute bourgeoisie and aristocracy, painting duchesses and grand dukes and socialites. Through her network of friends, she was also able to display her paintings in the most elite salons of the era.  

Łempicka's distinctive and bold artistic style developed quickly, influenced by what André Lhote sometimes referred to as "soft cubism" and by the "synthetic cubism" of Maurice Denis, epitomizing the cool yet sensual side of the Art Deco movement. For her, Picasso "embodied the novelty of destruction". She thought that many of the Impressionists drew badly and employed "dirty" colors. Lempicka's technique would be novel, clean, precise, and elegant.


[Portions of the above information were taken from Wikipedia]


Suki -- Too clever for her own good!

As you know, Suki has this annoying habit of beginning her campaign to awaken me about half an hour before my preferred time for arising in the morning.

Most of the time, her campaign techniques include such things as rattling the Venetian blinds or knocking small objects off the bedside table so that they hit the hardwood floor with bang. 

Recently, however, she has tried a new technique:  she sits on the bed, as far from me as possible, and repeatedly taps my head with her paw. After each tap, she quickly moves away from me until she is ready to tap again. She has tried the tapping technique on other parts of my body a couple of times, but she seems to realize that my head is the most sensitive area. 

So far, she has only used this technique when she sees me sleeping a bit past my usual time for arising and becomes, therefore, quite convinced that she is going to starve to death at any moment! However, she has learned, to her sorrow, that attempting a "wake-up" technique that requires her to get so close to me while I am still asleep puts her in grave danger.  

Suki has discovered that my hands and feet can strike out quite suddenly when she touches me while I am sleeping and, that my reach is much greater than she has calculated. As a consequence, in spite of her efforts to move away quickly, she has gotten knocked off the bed more than a few times now.  Of course, she may consider that the risk is worth it as my hitting her causes me to instantly become fully awake and full of apologies which means that she gets fed almost immediately!

I do feel rather badly about striking out that way, but I can't be held responsible for what I do in my sleep, can I? 

I'm hoping Suki will decide that this newest "wake-up" technique is not worth the risk and will quickly discontinue using it -- both for her sake and for mine.

As for the rest of my week, it was fairly uneventful other than a visit to the ophthalmologist this past Wednesday.  He was very displeased with my failure to use the drops he prescribed some months ago.  I tried to explain to him how much the drops irritated my eyes and interfered with my ability to work on the computer or stream my shows and movies, but he was insistent that I had to use the drops.  I was finally able to convince him to prescribe another type of drops and I started using these on Friday. So far, they have turned out to be just as irritating and painful as the previous ones! What to do? What to do? Why is nothing easy?

"Altocumulus Clouds and Diffused Sunlight", 
photo by G.W., 2015
One nice thing that happened was that my friend, G, posted some more of her photos on Facebook.  She is definitely demonstrating some real creativity in her newly-discovered talent for photography. There was one photo, in particular, which I found quite exciting (see right).

"Altocumulus Clouds and Diffused Sunlight (colourized)".
original photo by G.W., colouration by S. Thayer 

Of course, the moment I saw this photo, I wanted to play with it, turning it from a scenic photo into a something like abstract art (see left).

This is not to imply that there was anything wrong with the original photo.  It's just my love of taking ordinary things and "playing" with them in an effort to turn them into something else -- something not easily defined.  

I have actually "played" with a couple of G's photos now changing them from photographs into something like abstract art.  Let me show you a couple of examples:
"First Tulips", photo by
G.W., 2015

"First Tulips -- Abstract", original
photo by G.W., abstract form by
S. Thayer, 2015

"Spring Multicolour", photo by G.W., 2015

"Spring Multicolour - Abstracted",
taken from original photo by
G.W., abstract form by S. Thayer,



"Icon -- (Detail) Pentecost", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”   John 20:19-23

I am not posting the traditional Pentecost icon that I drew some years ago now.  I did go and take a look at it, but discovered that I will need to do a complete revision before I am willing to post it again -- so maybe next year at Pentecost if I am still around. Instead I just pasted in a detail from that icon -- of Our Lady.

"The descent of the Holy Spirit" -- what a strange and difficult concept.  I have never met anyone who could easily explain what we mean by the Holy Spirit (or Ghost as it used to be called in English).  I mean, I understand that it is like the "breath of God" breathing in us and so I often use the Hebrew word ruach which means wind, breath or spirit (as in “The Spirit of God [Ruach Elohim] was hovering over the waters” Genesis 1:2) when trying to make sense of "the Third Person of the Trinity".

But even then, I am faced with a mystery -- something beyond my understanding -- which is how it should be, I guess. All I can say is: 
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Hippeastrum not Amaryllis!

"Hippeastrum 'Baby Star' ", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

For many years there was confusion among botanists over the generic names Amaryllis  and  Hippeastrum. One major result of this confusion is that the common name "amaryllis" is used almost entirely for both Hippeastrum and Amaryllis. 

The plants in these two genera, available in stores in North America and Europe particularly during the Christmas/Holiday season, are usually found under the section heading of "Amaryllis". They are, however, two different genera. Hippeastrum is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas -- from Argentina north to Mexico and the Caribbean. By contrast, the genus name, "Amaryllis, applies to bulbs native to South Africa. 

Hippeastrum is, like Amaryllis, a genus in the family Amaryllidaceae.  The name Hippeastrum, given to the genus by William Herbert, (1778–1847, a British botanist, botanical illustrator, poet, and clergyman) means "Knight's-star-lily", although precisely what Herbert meant by the "knight" part of the name remains unclear.

The hybrid, Hippeastrum 'Baby Star', is reddish-orange with a white star center and green throat. However, don't be misled by the term "miniature" as they produce 2 (or even 3) stalks to a height of 18".

"Hippeastrum 'Baby Star' ", drawing, with
special effects, by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

After completing the drawing, I decided to play with it just a bit -- ending up with a somewhat interesting effect (see right). It now looks almost as though the drawing had been done using coloured pencils.

I tried using some new sfx (special effects) software that promised to turn my photo or drawing into an oil painting. I am not showing you the results of that experiment as I find what remained of my drawing rather distressing. In fact, the finished "painting" looked less like an oil painting of flowers and more like some really bad abstract art with reddish-orange and green blobs everywhere!

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


How great is it to be the only grandchildren in the family?!!

Braden taking his sports car out for a spin!

While younger brother, Ronàn, ends up with the VW convertible!  Ah, well, 
he is just learning to drive after all!



Suki resting comfortably in the mid-day sun
I know you will find it difficult to believe -- I certainly do -- but Suki has been reasonably well behaved this past week.

What can I say?  It must be the result of my excellent cat-training techniques!  No?

She did all the usual, but nothing strange or unusual -- which leaves me without any new stories to tell you in this week's blog posting. Personally, I wouldn't mind having this problem every week; however, knowing Suki as we do, we know how unlikely this scenario will prove to be.

I just stopped and asked Suki if she thought she might be well-behaved for another week.  She opened her eyes ever so slightly for half a second and then, promptly went back to sleep.  Ah, well, what can I say?

As for me, I have had a rather busy week with both an MRI and a doctor's appointment.  

The MRI took place at the hospital on Tuesday evening about 7:30 p.m. (they seem to have appointments scheduled for people from early morning until very late at night these days).  It has been just long enough since my last MRI for me to have almost completely repressed my memories of the experience -- so much so that I had forgotten about the noise!  It all came flooding back, however, when they put those big, padded headphones on me just prior to pushing me into that tiny, tiny space. By then, of course, it was too late. I was already trapped. Then the banging begin and went on and on and on for the next 30 minutes.  All of this in an effort to see complete pictures of my neck/cervical spine. I do hope something good was accomplished by all of this.  I won't get the results of the MRI or the other imaging tests until I see the specialist the last week of May.

As well, I had an appointment with my family doctor on Wednesday to get the results of the ultrasound that was done a few weeks ago.  I may have mentioned that my doctor wanted to take a look at my kidneys. Well, it turns out that my kidneys are doing just fine; however, my poor, old liver isn't!  The ultrasound revealed a possible problem with my liver. However, if it is a type of liver disease, it is in the very early stages.  I won't know anymore until after I see the specialist (gastroenterologist) and he/she has a look at the ultrasound. My doctor said that probably it will turn out that there is nothing serious going on. Most likely, I will just have another long-term physical "affliction" to add to my ever-growing list of things that cause me discomfort and pain. Oh, joy, oh, bliss! 

This coming week I only have one medical appointment -- my annual visit to the ophthalmologist.  It shouldn't be too unpleasant except for those tests they want me to do with the tiny, blinking lights.  Too often I seem to end up with a migraine after having to watch those little lights blinking off and on, over and over again.

Tomorrow is a holiday -- Queen Victoria's Birthday is celebrated on the Monday preceding May 25th each year. The holiday is also known as the May 24th weekend as that is the actual date assigned to the birthday. This is our long weekend in May since we don't celebrate U.S. Memorial Day which this year will fall on Monday the 25th of May -- we almost got to share our holidays with the U. S. this year! Anyway, happy Victoria Day to you all.



"Divino Niño Jesús", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012, rev. 2015

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”  John 17:11b-19

Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.  Mk 16:15-20

Even though the Canadian Church is celebrating the Ascension on Sunday the 17th, having transferred the Feast from Thursday the 14th, I have chosen to focus on the reading for the 6th Sunday of Easter.  


"Lifting up his eyes to heaven..." I suppose that Christ had prayed this way since childhood -- having been taught by Joseph and Mary to pray standing -- as is traditional for people of the Jewish faith. The only drawing I have ever done of Christ standing, quietly, in prayer is the one of Him as a young boy -- known as the Divino Niño Jesús. 

Although, as a Catholic, my normal prayer posture is to be on my knees, I remember some particular moments when I, too, have stood in prayer. In particular, the times I stood and prayed at the Western Wall (all that remains of the Jewish Temple that was in existence while Christ walked the earth) in Jerusalem.  At those moments, I thought particularly of Christ standing, perhaps in the same location, lifting His eyes upward and saying: “Holy Father, keep in Your name those that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one ... so that they may share my joy completely ... Keep them from the evil one ... and consecrate them in the truth.

So, I pray that we may know, in our own lives, that joy and peace for which Christ prayed.  May we, too, be consecrated in the Truth of Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.