Sunday, 23 August 2015

Bomarea ovallei -- Lion's Claw

"Bomarea ovallei -- Lion's Claw", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Bomarea ovallei (Lion’s Claw or Garra de león) is native to Chile. It is a member of the family, Alstroemeriáceas [flowering plants with 200 species in three or four genera native to the Americas from Central America to southern South America]. The genus Bomarea produces clusters of red or, more rarely, yellow, bell-shaped flowers. 

Bomarea ovallei inhabits rocky soil in a coastal area of northern Chile. One of Chile's rarest flowers, it is endemic to only the Llanos de Challe National Park and nearby area. Due to its restricted distribution and because its tubers are apparently quite tasty to Guanacos (see photo below) and other animals, it is considered to be an endangered species. 

It was originally classified as Leontochir ovallei with its own monotypic genus (that means a genus of one!). Leontochir means Lion's hand or claw -- from the Greek “Leon”. However, in 2000, the plant was transferred to the genus Bomarea as Bomarea ovallei. 

Bomarea is derived from the name of Jacques-Christophe Valmont Bomare (1731-1807), a Frenchman who visited numerous countries in the Americas and is the author of " Dictionnaire d'histoire naturelle " (published in 1768). The species name of ovallei is thought to be derived from the name “Javier Ovalle” who, it is reported, first collected the seeds of this rare plant for study. 

These are extraordinarily beautiful flowers with a sweet, honey-like scent.  Wouldn't it be great if my drawings could have a scent file attached?!

This was a very interesting plant to draw.  Not only does it have a striking design, but it also uses some of my favourite colours. Nature is truly bountiful.

Botanical details and general information above were taken from Wikipedia and other 
Internet sources.


Suki getting ready to growl in response to
someone knocking on our front door!
Election campaigns -- bah, humbug!

One thing none of those silly politicians considered when they called this election was the effect such a campaign might have on the mental health of Suki and Sallie!  I'm serious.  I wonder if I should sue?

Perhaps I should explain... 

Normally, Suki and I lead a very quiet life these days with Suki sleeping and me trying to find ways to manage the pain. I mean, normally, a whole week can go past without anyone knocking on the front door.  However, due to Canada's current election campaign, numerous people have started knocking on my door daily.  Suki, as you know, always suspects that there are monsters on the other side of the door -- so, each time one of these campaigners knocks, Suki jerks awake, ears back, fur puffed up, growling menacingly.  

Of course, I don't even answer the door as I know that Joycelyn has a key and anyone else who might want to visit us would have telephoned me before stopping by.  After a couple of additional knocks, I hear the sound of papers being slipped under my door followed by the sound of footsteps walking away.  At this point, Suki, who had been sleeping so peacefully, has to get up and go over to investigate the campaign brochures left behind. Once she has sniffed them a bit, she turns around and looks at me as though I am somehow to blame for her disturbed sleep.  It is as though she is saying: "If I had to wake up, you should have at least provided me with something interesting to sniff OR maybe it's time for some food!"

Of course, I am not totally uninterested in politics or the candidates involved, it is just that I am not eligible to vote in Canada as I have never sought dual citizenship. Thus, this federal campaign is just another one that I will have to watch from the sidelines.

As well, I am getting a lot of those computer-generated phone calls which are also a real nuisance.  Thankfully, there is always that silence when you first answer the phone, before the recording clicks in, which gives me plenty of time to hang up before I have to hear a computer-type voice telling me how wonderful so-and-so is and how much they will do for me, personally, if elected!

Otherwise, for the most part, my life continues as usual.  This past week, we finally had a break in that lengthy and most unpleasant spell of hot weather. Now the temperatures being back in the normal range again.  Of course, since this happened suddenly -- from one day to the next -- I ended up with a "sudden-change-in-the-barometric-pressure-type" migraine. 

Thankfully, the medication available these days works quickly by narrowing the blood vessels around the brain, stopping pain signals from being sent to the brain, and blocking the release of certain natural substances that cause pain, nausea, and other symptoms of migraine.  Before these new drugs were developed, migraines used to mean at least 2-3 days in bed in a darkened room or even a trip to the emergency department at my nearest hospital!  If only the research scientists could find a way to so easily control the pain from arthritis-type diseases...  

Ah, well, maybe one of these days.  



"Christ Stands at the Door, Knocking" (Truth Stands at the Door
and Knocks),  drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015 Revision

Many of Jesus’disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”  Jn. 6:60-69

I have not yet "written" an icon that I feel would exactly express the content of this particular passage from St. John's Gospel so, instead, I used the drawing of Christ standing at the door (of the heart) and knocking. Perhaps He is asking that question which has echoed down through the centuries: "Do you also want to leave?" or, as another translation puts it: "Will you also turn your back on me and walk away?"

Is this not the ultimate question? What will be our answer?

Using the format of the Serenity Prayer, I pray:
Grant me the grace to hear the Truth wherever I encounter it; the courage to walk daily in patient humility as I seek to grow in my understanding of this Truth; and the wisdom to always choose the most loving interpretation of that Truth in all my words, deeds and actions.


Sunday, 16 August 2015

More Art Nouveau

"Art Nouveau Angel", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

This is my first attempt in a while now to do a drawing using elements of the style known as "Art Nouveau".  I came across a black and white drawing of this angel and thought to myself how much fun it would be to make my own drawing like it only in colour.  I actually thought about just printing a copy of the image and then colouring it as you would a drawing in a colouring book, but holding coloured pencils or crayons is now more painful for me than using the computer mouse and drawing on the computer screen!

Anyway, you can see the results above.  As usual, I couldn't stay away from the orange-reds and yellows of which I'm so fond thus the finished drawing is quite a bit more colour intensive than the usual Art Nouveau designs. 

In case you don't recall what I said about Art Nouveau the last time I mentioned it, here is just a bit of information about this art form -- an art form that has always appealed to me ever since I first discovered  it as a teenager.

"Nature was one of the fundamental sources of Art Nouveau (or "new style"). The rediscovery of Japanese art in the latter 19th Century led to a new perspective that would wonder at the beauty of a wave, a kimono motif or the curve of a courtesan’s neck. The fluidity of lines, asymmetrical compositions without geometric perspective and delicate shades of colour created a new ornamental vocabulary, freeing itself from many of the “rules” of western art developed over previous centuries.
The languishing and mysterious image of the female became a decorative theme adopted in advertising before appearing in architecture and the decorative arts.
Art Nouveau had two faces: that of a style appropriate to new ways of life (lighting, hygiene, transportation, architecture) and that of a quest to embellish daily life (artists trained in the traditional fine arts devoting themselves to such things as graphic design in advertising, fashion, furniture ).
Art Nouveau spread quickly throughout Europe thanks to photo-illustrated art magazines as well as international exhibitions."  
The above information was taken from an article by Francoise Aubry. 



This is the look I got after accidentally
bumping into Suki's chair while
she was sleeping!  "She Who Must Not
Be Disturbed
" was displeased with me!
Suki, although she continues to be surprisingly well behaved, still manages to amaze and, almost, frighten me at times. This is especially true when it comes to her uncanny ability to tell time!

I have mentioned, on numerous occasions, Suki's skills at finding ways to make me aware of the approaching meal times. Most of the stories I have told concern Suki's ways of waking me in the morning in time for her 6 a.m. feeding.  However, she has her ways of reminding me when it's approaching the time for her lunch, supper and bedtime snack as well.

For example, I am usually on the computer from late morning until noon.  Starting at 11:30, Suki appears at my feet and meows at me in that crazy cat language of hers.  When this fails to move me, she climbs up on the chest next to the computer desk and stares at me. Do you know what it is like to be stared at by a cat?  They don't blink!  After a while it really becomes rather unnerving.

As the hours pass and it approaches her 6 p.m. suppertime, Suki appears -- chattering away in cat language.  By now, well-ensconced in my recliner and not inclined to move, it comes as no surprise to suddenly have a cat leap onto my lap. Unfortunately, this cat then proceeds to pester me by trying to wash my hands with her scratchy tongue. Suki, I'm sure, knows how much I hate the feel of that tongue of hers.  Eventually, this annoying behaviour accomplishes her purpose of getting me out of the chair and into the kitchen.

As the day draws to an end, Suki simply begins to stare at me as the hands of the clock move slowly towards the time for me to get ready for bed.  This is an even more intense type of staring than the staring she does at noontime and, soon, it becomes impossible to ignore.  So, after a short while, I usually give in and start preparing for sleep (which, of course, includes giving Suki a bedtime snack).

This is what I imagine would be the result
if Suki ever had a CT scan.
Recently, though, I have noticed that when I fail to show any indication of getting up to feed her -- I am speaking of morning, noon and night -- Suki has started doing something new.  As the hands on the clock approach the exact time she is to be fed, she starts meowing at me in a most insistent way. I mean, how does she know that the actual time is one minute until noon or one minute before 6 p.m? But these are the exact times when she begins her tirade. It really is rather spooky and a bit unsettling.  I mean, you can't help but think that maybe she can actually tell time! 

Other than these daily interactions with my favourite cat, my routine remains much the same.  My life continues to center around my efforts to manage the pain.  By late afternoon, it always seems to have gotten much worse but I continue to try to find ways to distract myself from it. If I allow myself to focus on it, then it becomes almost too much to handle which leaves me tempted to take a bit more pain medication than is normally prescribed.  I have permission to increase the dosage at such times, but I prefer not to as the more I take now, the more I will have to take in the future to manage the pain.

I do have a medical appointment coming up this week but it is just a routine, follow-up visit. Thankfully, the rest of the time I will be able to stay in my quiet, pleasantly-cool apartment with miz Suki and Joycelyn for company.  



"My Flesh is true Food; My Blood is true Drink", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015 revision

[My Interpretation of the "Madonna of the Precious Blood" based on the painting by the same name by Italian artist Pompeo Batone (1708-1787); now in the possession of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and hanging in the St. Gaspar Museum, Albano, Italy.]

... The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”  Jn. 6:53-58

For the third Sunday in a row we continue to be confronted by these claims of Christ which appear to our limited human minds to be totally outrageous.  As I have indicated in the two previous blog postings, we read words in this 6th chapter of St. John's Gospel that over 2,000 years later are still impossible for us to even begin to understand in spite of all the commentaries, sermons and meditations that have been written about this passage.  As I have said previously, I would never be so foolish as to try to add anything to the words of these learned scholars; rather, I will, once again, simply sit in silence before such a mystery.  

When confronted by such claims as these there are choices: we can accept that they are true because Christ said them; or, like the Jewish leaders of His day, we can scoff and deride; or, we can simply ignore them by assuming that they have no application to our daily lives in this modern world.

May we be granted the faith to believe, the hope to endure and the love to trust that in spite of all the darkness around us, we have been provided with the wisdom that will enable us to finally walk freely out of the shadows of this life into the full light of Truth. 


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Wurmbea stricta -- Rice Flower

"Wurmbea stricta -- Rice Flower", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Wurmbea stricta is another one of those little-known flowers from South Africa. Identified in the past as Onixotis stricta, Onixotis triquetra and Dipidax triquetra, botanists have finally decided that its correct designation is Wurmbea stricta.  This plant is a member of the Family, Colchicaceae (of the order, Liliales [Lilies], this family includes some two hundred species of herbaceous perennials with rhizomes or corms).

It has spikes of pale, purple-pink to white flowers with reddish-purple centers. The foliage is about 10-12” tall and rush-like, which seems appropriate since this plant prefers bog-like areas.  The species distribution is the western reaches of the Western Cape and northwards into Namaqualand (an arid region of Namibia and South Africa) even though the probability of finding suitable conditions for this water-loving plant must be low. It also grows on the eastern coast west of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. 

Wurmbea stricta is commonly known as Rice Flower, Spike Lily or Water Phlox. In Afrikaans, it is called Rysblommetjie which means “little rice flower”. The genus name of Wurmbea comes from Friedrick Wilhelm von Wurmb, a merchant and botanist in 18th century Batavia (Jakarta, Indonesia). I assume that he must have been the first to describe this plant in the literature.  Stricta is from the Latin and means “erect, upright” referring to the flower spikes and the erect, dark-green leaves which have been described as looking like knitting needles. This plant is sought out by bees, butterflies and some birds.

The flowers of Wurmbea stricta, I believe, are not that large, but as is the case with Nature, even the smallest things are beautifully and intricately designed.

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


Another very quiet week for both of us. Monday, of course, was a holiday in most areas of Canada which made things even quieter since neither Suki nor I did anything special ... it was just another day for us. There were no special visitors during the week -- just the usual visits of Joycelyn and Sharon.  As well, there were no appointments of any kind.  

There were a few phone calls from friends, but most of the phone calls were computer- generated calls from the campaign offices of politicians trying to get me to vote for them in the upcoming elections in October.  I really do hate those calls as I know that my slamming down the telephone receiver has no effect whatsoever on a computer!  Occasionally I get a real, live person calling to tell me about the wonders of their particular politician. When this happens, I stop them mid-spiel and tell them that they are wasting their time as I have never become a Canadian citizen and, therefore, am not able to vote in Canada.  Usually this ends the conversation abruptly; however, sometimes they reply by saying something like: "well, wouldn't you like to tell your friends and neighbours to vote for so-and-so?"  To which I always respond:  "piffle" or something a bit more explicit before replacing the receiver with a loud bang. 

As you no doubt have noticed, I am not providing you with any special stories about Suki for the second week in a row. This is due to the fact that she continues to be reasonably well behaved! I must say that I am still feeling a bit uneasy about her "good" behaviour; however, I keep telling myself that I should just relax and enjoy it for as long as it lasts.

Instead of a Suki story let me tell you about an email conversation I had this past week. A friend of mine was asking me about how I make decisions about identifying people in some of the photos I publish on my blog.  For example, I sometimes only give initials or a first name when identifying the person in a photo or the person who took a particular photo.  On the other hand, I sometimes provide the full names of people along with other identifying information. I thought some of you might be interested to read my response:
I make it a rule to never show photos of people or give their full names unless I am certain that they are willing to be identified and exposed that way. In spite of today’s trend of “selfies” and posting of personal photos all over the place on Facebook, I tend to be very cautious about such matters as I know about too many cases of problems and even crimes that have resulted from such exposure. Any photos you see posted on my blog these days, along with any information that would enable others to identify them, are there with the express permission of the person who took them and/or of the person photographed.
In the case of people who have already chosen to let themselves be identified in the various social media, I give only that information that I know if easily available online. For example, I don’t have to be too concerned when identifying someone like my friend, Rose Marie, who has often had her photo and identity made public due to her participation in art shows and various teaching jobs at art camps, etc. This is not the case with many of my other friends and acquaintances. While they have posted photos of themselves on Facebook, they have used privacy settings so that, hopefully, only their Facebook friends can see their private information.
Of course, most of us realize now that the Internet, for all its advantages, can be a dangerous place. Whatever you post on it can be seen by all sorts of people – many of whom you might not wish to see how you look, know your full name or where you live. I have made a choice to be a “public person” and I am fully aware that this involves a certain amount of risk. So much crime is happening on the Internet these days, especially hacking into other people’s web sites and email accounts, that people really need to learn to never post anything that they would mind anyone seeing or reading. If you want to keep something private, don’t write it in an email, post it on Facebook or publish it on your blog or web site!



"Icon -- Mother of the Bread of Life", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, Rev. 2015

Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”   Jn. 6:44-51

The passage from last Sunday continues with Christ reiterating, even more firmly, the things He has already said.  He speaks words that over 2,000 years later are still impossible for us to really understand in spite of all the commentaries, sermons and meditations that have been written about this chapter in St. John's Gospel.  I certainly would not be so foolish as to try to add anything to these learned comments; rather, I will simply sit in silence before such incredible words and ask Our Lady for wisdom and understanding while repeating those ancient words of the Archangel and St. Elizabeth:

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee... blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb..." Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us...


Sunday, 2 August 2015

Summer Days

"Enjoying a Summer's Evening", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Today's featured drawing was inspired by a work of the American artist, Frank W. Benson (1862-1951), entitled :  "My Daughter Elisabeth" (1914, oil on canvas).
"Herons and Lilies" by F. W. Benson

Benson was an American artist from Salem, Massachusetts known for his portraits in the Realistic style, his Impressionist-style paintings (both oils and watercolors) and etchings. He began his career painting portraits of distinguished families and murals for the Library of Congress. Some of his best known paintings depict his daughters outdoors at Benson's summer home on the island of North Haven, Maine. The painting of his daughter, Elisabeth, which I used as my model is one of these. He also produced numerous paintings and etchings of wildfowl and landscapes (see oil on canvas above).   
As is often the case these days, I was drawn to Benson's painting of his daughter, Elisabeth, because of the position of the arms and hands.  Of course, as usual, I remain totally dissatisfied with the results!  So, I will have to consider this drawing simply a first draft and keep working on it in an effort to get those hands and arms placed and proportioned as they should be! 

I'm not complaining as I doubt that I will ever get them exactly as I want them to be.  No matter how good we are at whatever we do, perfection is not likely to be achieved this side of the grave -- if even then!

Information about Benson was taken from Wikipedia


"Well, I'm waiting -- either entertain me or feed me!"
Suki has been unusually well behaved this past week -- which has begun to make me rather nervous!

I mean, you would think that I would be pleased with her good behaviour; however, in the past when a spell of good behaviour has occurred, it has always been followed by the revelation of some outrageously clever, new skill.  I am not speaking of clever in the sense of a cat doing tricks like standing on her head -- no, I am speaking of ingenuously crafted techniques which will enable her to perhaps achieve her major goal:  getting me to feed her more often by waking me up earlier!

I mean, when she first started trying to get me out of bed in the morning, she would just try things like climbing on my pillow and purring loudly in my ear.  When this didn't work -- mainly because I could easily pick her up and dump her on the floor -- she gradually began to develop her repertoire which now includes the many skills I have mentioned in the past such as Venetian blind rattling, bell ringing, claws scratching on the glass windows, etc.

If I should happen to miss posting on my blog next Sunday, please contact the authorities as it may mean that I have ended up chained to the kitchen counter where the cat food is kept!  I'm sure the chain will be long enough for me to be able to put her food dish down on the floor, but too short to enable me to reach the telephone and call for help! 
Other than being a bit nervous about what Suki may do next, I am doing much the same.  I did have a bit of good news as I found out this past week that the infection which has troubled me for over two months now has finally been beaten by the 4th round of antibiotics!  Hooray for that.

Rose Marie Nicolucci, artist and friend
(photo taken by J. Gordon)
I did hear from one of the readers of my blog (who is also a dear friend) that she, her husband and a friend of theirs made a visit, yesterday, to the art show I was telling you about in last week's posting.  The one where my friend, Rose Marie Nicolucci, has some of her watercolours on display.  My friend sent me a photo of Rose Marie taken at the gallery. Not only did it give me great pleasure to see the photo, but I was truly delighted to know that my recommendation for a nice outing was taken seriously by a reader. Remember, if you are interested, Rose Marie and the other artists will have their work on display there until the 12th of August (see last Sunday's posting for all the other details).



"Icon -- I Am The Bread of Life", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015 revision

...... So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”  Jn 6:32-35

What can I possibly say when confronted by such a Mystery.

May we all experience that peace flowing from the gift of faith -- faith is that inner surety enabling us to believe that there is more to this life than our mortal minds can ever comprehend.  May we always remember that at the end all that remains are the "great three": faith, hope and love and may we never forget that the greatest of these is love.


Sunday, 26 July 2015

Another Baboon Flower

"Baboon Flower -- Babiana rubrocyanea", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Today's drawing is Babiana rubrocyanea [family Iridaceae], commonly known as the Baboon Flower. It is native to sandy scrub land found in the Southwest Cape region of South Africa. The blossoms appear in late fall or winter from rounded, deeply buried corms [corms are an underground plant stem that serves as a storage organ used by some plants to survive various adverse conditions]. The unscented, 2-inch-wide, bowl-shaped blooms are borne on compact, few-flowered stems. Each bloom is blue to violet-blue with a large, iridescent, currant-red "eye".

The genus Babiana is endemic to southern Africa and contains about seventy species. The genus name is derived from the Dutch word baviaantje, meaning "little baboon", and alludes to observations made by early European colonists who noticed that baboons were very partial to the corms. Thus, the name ‘baboon flower’ comes from the fact that baboons used to dig up the corms and eat them. Since corms are common to this genus and baboons enjoy eating them all, there are other members of the genus that are also called Baboon Flowers. This plant, like others in the genus Babiana, is in danger of extinction in its native South Africa due, mainly, to habitat destruction.

"Baboon Flower -- Babiana sambucina"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer,
Babiana sambucina is one of the other members of the Babiana genus also commonly known as the Baboon Flower. I did a drawing of Babiana sambucina back in 2014 which is why the title of today's posting is "Another Baboon Flower".  

Babiana stricta -- another
Baboon Flower

Babiana stricta is also known locally as the Baboon Flower. All of these plants grow from the swollen corms which the Baboons, evidently, find to be quite delicious!

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



The Eternal Question
For some reason, Suki has been very much under my feet this past week.  I have actually come close several times recently to being tripped up by this confounded critter!

Normally, when its time for Suki to eat -- after she has reminded me numerous times -- she heads for the kitchen and plops herself down at the base of the kitchen counter where I dish out her food.  Placing herself where my feet need to go means that I can't comfortably stand at the counter as one would if there wasn't some big, black lump in the way; however, I normally just find somewhere else to put my feet and get on with it.

This past week, though, Suki has started doing this "moving about, in and out of my feet" thing.  Not only am I not used to having to watch out for a moving cat, but, due to the peripheral neuropathy, I don't have normal feeling in my feet which means that often I can't even tell that she is standing next to my foot. Then, when I start to move, I almost stumble over her.  Looking down, I feel like swearing, but when I see those big green eyes starring up at me, filled with hope and expectation, I haven't the heart to even yell at her.

As the days have passed, I have worked at trying to train myself to always look down before taking a step.  Occasionally, however, I forget and come much too close to tripping for comfort.  I have spoken to Suki about this and warned her that if she causes me to fall, she will not only not get fed but could possibly end up squashed underneath my prone body!  She has listened to my lectures politely, but, in truth, I don't think cats are able to understand why a movement that comes so naturally to them could possibly be wrong or dangerous!

So, for the time being, whenever I am in the kitchen, I will just continue to work at keeping myself mindful at all times of where the cat is in relation to my feet.  Hopefully, Suki will soon return to her more normal behaviour of plopping herself down in one place until her food dish is ready!

As for me, I continue to have my usual problems and difficulties. I did have an unexpected visit from a friend on Wednesday.  He had called on Tuesday to say he had to be in the downtown area on Wednesday and would it be possible for him to stop by for a visit. It was good to see him again and to catch up on some of his news. As well, I made it to my medical appointment on Thursday. 

Otherwise, except for a few phone calls, the past week was a quiet one.  This coming week I have another medical appointment plus I am expecting a visit from a friend who now lives in the States.  She is up here visiting family and friends and I am, happily, included in the friends category.  It has been a number of months since I last saw her and so I am really looking forward to hearing all about what has been happening in her life.

Recently I heard from my friend, Rose Marie Nicolucci.  As you may recall, she is an artist whose exhibits I have posted information about previously. Along with others, she will be exhibiting some of her watercolours at the Summer Art Show and Sale being held at The Sovereign House, Bronte, Ontario from August 1 - 12. She does beautiful work and I am sure that any of you who feel you find the idea of a summer outing along the lake shore appealing would enjoy seeing the paintings of Rose Marie and the other artists involved.  



"Icon -- Feeding of the 5,000", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012 

One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone. Jn 6:10-15

"He knew that they were going to come and carry Him off to make Him king so He withdrew to the mountain alone."

Some things never change, I guess.  Someone comes along and promises to satisfy all our earthly needs and desires and we are ready to declare them King (or Queen) over us.  It doesn't really matter what their philosophy or their agenda may be -- all we know is that our stomachs are full and that there are plenty of leftovers!

But what about love?  Our stomachs may be full but our hearts are still empty and our lives still feel meaningless. Christ knew better than anyone that what we need is to be loved so completely that our hearts are filled with love -- a love which then overflows from us to all those around us.  May we never forget that what we really need is love (even the Beatles sang it!). 

So, let us pray that we may love God above all else and, wisely, love our neighbour as ourselves -- seeking always to fill our heart and the hearts of those around us with that "food which lasts unto eternal life" -- Love.


Sunday, 19 July 2015

Waiting for a Friend...

"Waiting for a Friend", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Today's drawing was inspired by another one of the paintings of John William Waterhouse. His painting is entitled: "A Sketch of Circe" (Circe is the goddess of magic) which obviously suggests that my drawing of a modern, young woman is nothing at all like the painting by Waterhouse!  What attracted me to this particular painting was not the subject matter but, rather, the position of the woman, especially the placement of her arms and hands.

As you may recall, Waterhouse (born 1849, died 1917) was an English artist whose works were labelled "pre-Raphaelite". Artists whose works fall under the description of "pre-Raphaelite" felt that art had lost its way with the work and style of Raphael. They particularly rejected any painting style which they felt was "lax or sloshy". Instead, they sought a return to the abundant detail, intense colours and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian art (the art of the late middle ages and early Renaissance). 

Although Waterhouse is less well-known than other pre-Raphaelites (Dante Gabriel Rossetti (an early favourite of mine) and William Holman Hunt), I find that I keep returning to his paintings for inspiration and the use of his works as models for my own drawings -- usually because of the positions of the arms and hands of the women in his paintings. 

As is normally the case, I am far from satisfied with this drawing and, so, I will, no doubt, continue to revise it as time passes in an effort to achieve the result I can see in my mind but am still unable, thus far, to place on the canvas (my computer screen).

Information on John William Waterhouse taken from Wikipedia.


Here are some new photos of "my" boys.  Enjoy!

Braden enjoying being up a tree!  (I, too, loved climbing trees at his age.)

Braden helping his grandfather in the garden.

Rònàn finds the behaviour of adults rather amusing.

Rònàn contemplates the meaning of life as well as the strange behaviour of adults.



Painting of Suki resting before going to sleep!
Suki had to make a mad dash for the back of the bedroom closet this past week... another "noise monster" came into her home!

Wednesday afternoon, Suki was enjoying her after-lunch nap when suddenly there was a loud banging on the front door. Immediately, Suki was on the floor, growling and ready to run.  By the time I got up and opened the door, whoever was outside had knocked loudly a second time.  Suki decided at this point that there was no sense in waiting around as something terrible was, obviously, about to occur and she wanted no part of it.

It turned out that the people who were in the building all week cleaning out the air-conditioning/heating units had finally reached my apartment.  I let them and their noisy equipment in and they quickly set to work.  They used a noisy electric screwdriver to remove the screws in the panel and then they used a very noisy vacuum cleaner to do the actual cleaning.  While they were at it they changed the filter.
Suki hiding from
the "Noise Monster"

It actually did not take them very long to complete the task.  This was because, I was informed by one of the men, I have a very clean apartment so that dust and cat hair have been kept to a minimum so the unit was really not that dirty.  One of the men told me a couple of horror stories about the messiness of some of the apartments they had visited, but, fortunately, they had the good sense not to mention any specific units or names.

After they left and that wonderful quietness descended once again on my home, I heard the scrabbling noises of a cat making her way out of the bedroom closet.  Suki appeared cautiously sniffing the air and looking in every direction just in case the monster was just hiding and waiting for her to let down her guard!  Once she realized that the monster was gone, she had to thoroughly investigate the area where the men had been working -- sniffing everywhere.  I wonder what interesting information she gathered with that powerful sense of smell she has. 

Eventually, she was able to allow herself to rest once again. Jumping into her favourite chair, she made three and a half turns before allowing herself to settle down.  Next came the requisite face and paw cleaning ritual. Finally, she gave a great sigh and returned to her afternoon nap.

As for me, things continue as usual.

I had a visit from a friend this past week.  Both Suki and I were pleased to see her.  This week I have a medical appointment but, otherwise, I expect the week will be uneventful.  Of course, the moment you say something like that, all manner of things end up happening!  Hopefully, however, that will be the case for other people but not for me.



"The Good Shepherd with His Sheep", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer,
2015 rev.

The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When He disembarked and saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then He began to teach them many things. Mk. 6:30-34

Even though most of us have never had any actual interaction with sheep, we still have a general idea of how they might behave without a shepherd.  I, as mentioned in previous postings, have had actual experience observing sheep behaviour during those years that I spent the summer months living on an Ontario farm where sheep were raised.  There, I saw firsthand just how easily sheep could become confused and frightened and how foolishly they would then behave. Running in all directions, they often put themselves at real risk for being injured or killed.  At times such as this, it was very obvious that they needed someone to shepherd them.

Foolishly, most of us think we are in control of our lives and yet Christ told us that we are really like sheep without a shepherd.  The truth is that we are actually not in control of very much of anything! All it takes is an accident, an invasive virus or a glitch in our bank's computer to make us realize how fragile and vulnerable our lives really are.  At times such as these, we definitely need a "good shepherd" -- Someone or Something to guide us in the right direction -- the direction that will lead to safety and security.

Not only do we need a loving Shepherd when we, like sheep, are wandering, unknowingly, towards the edge of some cliff -- we also need the help of people who love us. Yet, how often we turn our backs on those who reach out to us with loving guidance at the very times we most need help in order to be rescued from our confusion, fear and danger. Like foolish sheep, we ignore both the "sheep dog" and the "Shepherd" and then, as we find ourselves injured and dying at the bottom of some cliff, we turn our eyes heavenward and cry out "why me?".  May we never forget that we, like sheep without a shepherd, will always go astray if left to our own devices.

So, I pray that we may be granted the grace to make our choices and decisions by seeking the guidance of our Loving Shepherd as well as the loving support of our "neighbours" (those people who love us). 


Sunday, 12 July 2015

Cosmos - the Love Flower

"Cosmos bipinnatus -- White and Lavender", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

The genus, Cosmos, has about 20 species of annual and perennial plants in the Asteraceae family, the family of sunflowers, daisies and asters. The cosmos flower is native to Mexico and naturalized across most of the eastern U.S. and Canada. 

The Cosmos genus includes the species Cosmos bipinnatus, commonly referred to as the Mexican Aster, Cosmos sulphureus also called the Yellow Cosmos and Cosmos atrosanguineus also known as the Chocolate Cosmos (so called because its fragrance is similar to that of chocolate).

"Cosmos bipinnatus -- White", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

The word Cosmos is derived from the Greek, which means "balanced universe". The flower's fragrance and vibrant colours give it the attributes of peacefulness, wholeness, and modesty. In the language of flowers the typical meaning of this flower is "the love flower". (

This flower is often used to illustrate one's deepest feelings of love. When sent to someone on Valentine's Day it can be said to mean "walk with me hand in hand"; "see, life is indeed beautiful" or, simply, "I love you".

Years ago, now, I did a drawing of Cosmos sulphureus, the Yellow Cosmos (actually mine was a bit more orange than yellow!).  This was before I installed a back-up hard drive and, so, the actual drawing was lost -- along with many others -- when I had that massive computer crash about 5 years ago.

A recent posting by a Facebook acquaintance reminded me of what a gentle, lovely flower it is and so I decided to try my hand at drawing it once again.  This time, however, I decided to draw the variety with which we, here in North America, are most familiar --Cosmos bipinnatus

Imagine that my drawing of the "Love Flower" is sending out loving thoughts to you all.

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


Having fun on a family outing!

Braden on horseback.
Ride'em Cowboy!  Get along little doggies! 

Braden milking a cow -- Even a cowboy has to help
with the chores once the round-up is done!

Brothers -- note the Inukshuk in the background -- 
 The traditional meaning of the Inukshuk is "Someone was here" 
or "You are on the right path."

Rònàn practicing his Kung Fu moves!

Rònàn back at home playing with his toys.  Note the trendy ankle bracelet -- 
what a cool guy!



Suki, half-awake, wondering why I am
calling her name! (Photo taken by A.P.)
The Fly!

No, I am not talking about the horror movie but about Suki's recent encounter with a fly.

How the fly got into the apartment is a mystery... The front door has been opened a number of times during this past week, but, normally, there are no flies in the hallway. However, there must have been one somewhere close to my front door at some point over the past few days. Sadly, it made the mistake of flying into my apartment -- one of the few apartments on this floor where a cat resides!

Suki trying to catch the fly
It only took a short time for Suki to notice it flying about.  Once she was aware of it, it was obvious that there would be no sleep or rest for anyone until the fly was captured or killed.  I mean, I could have ignored the jumping and running in her efforts to catch the fly; however, Suki, as usual, had to give me a running commentary consisting of constant meowing sounds of different pitches and intensities. 

I don't fully understand cat language, but I did realize that the gist of what she was saying was something along the lines of: 
"Look, I am trying my best to capture this varmint and I expect you to join in and work with me. After all, if it lands on the ceiling or high up on a curtain or the wall, then I need you to knock it down to my level or simply catch it and present to me for farther evaluation."

So, I did exactly as I was told -- like any good cat person would.  I took a towel and used it to swat the fly, knocking it to the floor. Stunned, it lay there for just a second before being gobbled up by Suki.  She sniffed around a bit before walking, proudly, to her favourite chair.  After all, she had caught the culprit, hadn't she? Once she had jumped onto the chair and made herself comfortable, she groomed herself slowly and deliberately for a few moments before giving a great sigh. She then settled down for a long nap with what looked almost like a smile on her face.  All hail the conquering hero!

As for me, things are much the same.  Nothing new to report -- I continue to feel as poorly as usual!  

I am looking forward to receiving a visit from a friend on Friday morning, but, otherwise, the week should be a quiet one.  I am rather glad I don't have any medical appointments scheduled as downtown Toronto is so busy right now with the Pan-Am games underway -- lots of tourists. And, of course, there are the many athletes from all over the Americas. Good luck to them all.




"Icon - Christ sent them out ... giving them authority", by the  hand ofSarah "Sallie" Thayer, revised 2015 

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick— no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.  Mk 6:7-13

What an interesting passage this is. Why did Christ insist that the Twelve not even take an extra tunic with them?  Surely, it would have been useful to have an extra tunic to protect against the morning chill or to use as a pillow at night.  He, however, seemed to want the Twelve to experience absolute dependence on the Providence of God and the kindness of others.  I wonder if they were all obedient?  

Over the centuries, many of the saints have taken this passage quite literally.  St. Francis of Assisi is a prime example as this passage defines the first "rule" of his small band of followers. Of course, us ordinary humans seem to be unable to live so radically and thus, with time, his followers became as dependent on creature comforts as the rest of us.  

However, I can't help but wonder what we would be like if we could all live simply and without greed.  Not desiring for ourselves any more than we actually needed at the moment -- giving any and all excess to those around us who, at that moment, did not have enough so that we all had sufficient but no more.  Can mankind ever really subdue those inner, devouring monsters of greed and the desire for power?

And, so I pray that we may all know the peace which comes from being able and willing to let go of the desire for riches and power sufficiently so that we can freely and joyfully share what we have with others -- trusting that He who is Love will bless our feeble attempts to "love our neighbour as ourselves".