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
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SUKI AND SALLIE


"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).





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EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME



"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.

Amen.

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,
2014
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.

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SUKI AND SALLIE


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.  




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SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME



"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.

Amen.   

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.
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BRADEN AND RÒNÀN 



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.




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SUKI AND SALLIE



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.




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SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME





"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). 

Amen. 

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". (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_of_flowers

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.
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BRADEN AND RÒNÀN 



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!




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SUKI AND SALLIE


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.

   

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FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME




"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".

Amen.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Photos as Models

"Ready for the Dance", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015



"Ready for the Dance", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015,
(Coloured pencil software applied to original drawing)

Normally, I use photographs for my models.  Consequently, I am always on the lookout for photos of interest and now have a huge collection of photos on my computer of things I have drawn or may eventually want to try to draw. Usually, I find these photos on the Internet, but, occasionally, I find them among the photos sent to me by various friends or members of my family.

I am not really good at portraiture so even though I am using a photo of a family member or friend as my model,  I seldom try for an exact likeness.  My efforts to achieve a real likeness, have, in the past, been quite disappointing. Although my friend or my cousin (the parent of the child in the photo) may tell me how much they liked my drawing and how well I captured the image of so-and-so, I know that they are just being polite!

So, with this introduction, allow me to tell you about the two drawings I am featuring today...

The first drawing (above) was inspired by a lovely photo of my great-niece who lives in the southern U.S.  She is just finishing grade school and will soon be going on to what they call "middle school" I think. Her class evidently decided to have a prom and she, along with two of her friends, were photographed as they prepared to leave.  Thus the title for this drawing: "Ready for the Dance".



"Girl with Yellow Ribbon", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015





"Girl with Yellow Ribbon", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015
(Oil painting software was applied to original drawing)



With this second drawing, I used a photo of a friend's grand-daughter. She is a beautiful, young girl whose parents are originally from the Philippines.  In the photo, she was wearing a decorated, floppy ribbon in her hair.  This is what attracted me to the photo in the first place and so I called the drawing "Girl with Yellow Ribbon".

As you can see, I also tried experimenting with software that applies special effects to a picture.  I really like the effect given by the coloured pencil software used on the first drawing; however, the oil painting software, used on the second drawing, leaves quite a bit to be desired -- in my opinion.  I would enjoy knowing what you think of these special effects. Also, if any of you know of special effects software or apps that I might be able to use, please let me know.






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BRADEN AND RÒNÀN 




Braden celebrated his birthday last month and, afterwards, I received a number of delightful photos taken during the celebration. I would like to post all of them, but then my posting would be far too long.  So, I will show you a few at a time. 

In the photos shown below, I am assuming that Braden and his brother, Rònàn, were encouraged to sit on a blanket in the shade of a tree in their grandfather's garden while Braden investigated the contents of a "basket" he had received for his birthday.

It appears that, at first, Braden's little brother was only mildly interested in what Braden was doing.  However, as soon as Rònàn realized that this "basket" contained things of interest, his attitude changed completely! 





Braden looking at presents while Rònàn looks on with some interest.




Braden, reaching into the basket, realizes that it contains "goodies" -- a realization 
which has not yet come to Rònàn who, at the point, looks only mildly interested.  




Braden is unable to hide his delight with what he has found which alerts Rònàn to the presence of "goodies".  Obviously,  Rònàn, now aware of his brother's stash, feels 
that he, too, should share in the riches!



I wonder what happened next... was there a bit of a disagreement between the brothers or did Braden, with encouragement from the adults nearby, share some of the goodies. Perhaps some adult quickly picked up dear Rònàn and give him something of his own with which to play?  You will just have to guess as there were no more photos of this particular event. Personally, I like to think that someone quickly picked up Rònàn and distracted him with some safe toy of his own.  But then, I always desire the most peaceful solution.






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SUKI AND SALLIE



Suki patiently allowing my friend, A.P., to
take her photo.  Suki went back to sleep
as soon as the photo was taken.
As with most strays, Suki has no idea of her actual birth date. I met her for the first time at the Humane Society where I was immediately drawn to her. I adopted her on March the 8th. At that time, I was told that the vet figured that she was about 1 year old and so I decided that I would give her a March birthday. That date is now, of course, listed as her official birth date.

Recently, however, I came across a web site on Astrology for Cats! I am no believer in astrology for humans much less cats; however, I was intrigued by what I read.  I went first to the sign for the date I had chosen -- Pisces.  Pisces, as you may know, is a water sign and Suki is the least likely cat to be associated with water.  I even have to sneak water into her food or else the only liquid she would get would be the small amount of gravy in her wet food.  She just does not like water, period.

So, I began to look at all the other signs and read what they had to say about the various cat personalities.  I wasn't getting anywhere until I came across the description of Scorpio and it was as though the author had written it with Suki in mind.  Let me share with you just a bit of this foolishness (or is it?).  [I did do just a bit of editing here and there]:

The Scorpio Cat is a powerful cat with more than a mere sting in her tail. This resourceful and intelligent feline will delight in organizing things and people, finding the normal business of the domestic cat to be boring and mundane.

Determination is the guiding force of the Scorpio Cat...and it is indeed a force to be reckoned with. A Scorpio Cat may usually be recognized by a muscular body and beautiful eyes – the ideal specimen being one with jet-black fur and eyes of deep emerald green. However, the most notable feature will be the mask of imperturbability.

Later in life, this feline stands out from the rest by his or her waddling walk...the result of over-eating...and often has bow legs. Normally healthy, when this cat does become poorly, then she will expect (and usually receive) all the tender, loving care due to such an important member of the family.

The Scorpio Cat will always remain a puzzle to the family...never where an owner thinks she might be...never doing what she should be doing. This is all a game to the Scorpio Cat – fooling the owner and leaving her humans guessing.

She will be deeply intuitive of others where feelings are concerned, possessing the gift of empathy and the ability to read emotions. This feline senses when an owner desires companionship and when he or she would rather be left alone. The Scorpio Cat is always strangely drawn to those unfortunate humans who are not fond of cats. If such an individual is invited into the home and tries to banish the Scorpio Cat, it will fail to work. This feline somehow manages to get into the room and insists on paying the visitor in question an abundance of attention...sitting on the guest or rubbing against the guest.

However, at the end of the day, the Scorpio Cat is basically a one-person cat. She will single out a member of the family with whom to bond and the rest will be virtually ignored. This feline does become genuinely attached, but in a rather aloof sort of way...offering companionship in return for a high standard of living.

A Scorpio Cat usually does best with a Scorpio [or Sagittarius] owner, despite the fact that both are strong-minded, tenacious and complex. Most owners of Scorpio Cats tend to develop a special telepathic bond with this mysterious feline. The Scorpio Cat always seems to know just what her human is thinking, easily senses danger and will arrive for dinner just moments before being called. If there is a death in the family, then the Scorpio Cat is likely to be the first to know.

This feline is the sacred cat which was revered by the Egyptians. Strange and arcane, the Scorpio Cat brings luck and protection to her owner. In short, the Scorpio Cat is pure magic. 
http://www.astrologyweekly.com/sun-signs/cat-horoscopes.php



What do you think?  Sounds to me as though I should have chosen a birthday for Suki somewhere in late October or early to mid-November!

As for me, I remain much the same.  I had an ultrasound at the hospital this past Monday -- no idea what the results were, of course, since those technicians are trained not to give any indication of what they find.

Had a visit from a dear friend on Thursday (she's the one who took the photo of Suki that adorns today's SUKI AND SALLIE column). Today, I am looking forward to a visit from a family with whom I have been friends for many years now.  I haven't seen them for several months and am looking forward to hearing all their news -- especially about their daughter's recent graduation from high school.

This week I am scheduled to see a specialist (gastroenterologist) about new problems with one organ and old problems with another. It is interesting to observe how disease in one area of the body can, directly or indirectly, lead to disease in another part.  For example, in order to keep my arthritic joints moving, I have had to take anti-inflammatory medications for many years now.  As you may be aware, these drugs, over time, can do bad things to your stomach. Thus, you end up with a new disease -- ulcers in your stomach and duodenum -- which requires additional medications taken in an effort to try to control this new ailment. These new medications, in turn, make some other bodily organ unhappy and so ... on and on it goes. Ah, well ... as I always say, C'est la vie




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FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME




"Christ Teaching in the Temple", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013, rev 2015


Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.  Mk 6:1-6


Certainly, we all have the right (and duty) to question the credentials of those who come to us speaking authoritatively on any subject -- especially such an important subject as our beliefs about who we are and why we exist.  However, if the person is someone we know well, someone we never really expected to speak with authority about anything, then it is very difficult for us to even hear what they have to say -- much less believe it. We expect them to say exactly what we would say and believe exactly whatever we believe -- after all, they grew up in the house next door to ours, didn't they? 

Familiarity not only makes us less likely to hear what someone is saying, it also affects all our other senses.  For example, we have all had the experience, I assume, of having someone visit our home and, while taking in the view from the front window, suddenly point out certain beautiful aspects of that view -- aspects of which we had long ago ceased being aware.  

So I pray that we may we be granted the grace of refreshed and renewed senses enabling us to really hear what others are saying and really see what others are seeing.  May we not treat with contempt those beliefs which differ from our own, knowing that it is in lovingly acknowledging each other's right to believe differently -- neither of us insisting that the other believe what we believe -- that we can begin to find the peace we are seeking.

Amen.

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.
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SALLIE AND SUKI


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! 



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THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME



"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.

Amen.