Sunday, 14 December 2014

Christmas Camellia

"Camellia sasanqua 'Crimson King' - Yultide", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Camellia sasanqua, Family Theaceae, is a species of Camellia native to China and Japan. There are a number of cultivars that have been developed from C. sasanqua.  This particular one is known as the Christmas or Yuletide camellia.  This large shrub has glossy, dark, evergreen foliage. The flowers range in colour from crimson-pink to white depending on the cultivar. 

These various cultivars of C. sasanqua were developed in Japan in the early 1700s.  The cultivar known as Christmas camellia did not arrive in the west until 1869 when Dutch traders imported some specimens into Europe. 

C. sasanqua has a long history of cultivation in Japan for practical rather than decorative reasons. The leaves are used to make tea while the seeds or nuts are used to make tea seed oil which, over the centuries, has been used for lighting, lubrication, cooking and cosmetic purposes.

Once again, the dark green leaves in my drawing are not glossy; however, I am continuing to experiment with my software in the hopes of eventually finding a way to create glossy, dark, green leaves.


Many of the above facts were taken from Wikipedia.
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NEW RONÀN AND BRADEN PHOTO




Ronàn and Braden just in from the cold.




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SUKI AND SALLIE

Looks as though Suki is ready for Christmas!
Another week, another trauma for poor Suki!  Let me tell you what happened.

There was a flood in the bathroom of the apartment two floors above me.  Loud dripping noises in the wall alerted both Suki and myself to the problem early Wednesday morning.

I was sitting in my little office space working away at the computer when I noticed that Suki had gotten up from her morning nap and was standing in the middle of the room with her ears in that erect position that let me know right away that she was hearing something she did not like.

I pushed the pause button on my iPad which had been playing Vivaldi`s Four Seasons and listened.  It was then that I, too, could hear the drip, drip, drip of water falling inside the wall between the bathroom and the bedroom.  Quickly, I telephoned our building emergency number to find out what was happening.  I was informed by the building super that there had been flooding on a certain floor above me and that the plumbers were rushing here even as we spoke.  

Within half an hour, I could hear pounding on the pipes above me so I knew that help had arrived.  Unfortunately, I also knew that because a little over half an hour had passed from the time I first heard the dripping sounds that there was going to be some water damage in my place as well.

During all of this, Suki was getting more and more agitated -- and what made it worse was that the back wall of the bedroom closet, which is Suki`s bolt hole, backs onto the bathroom.  The water sounds followed by the banging on pipes was most loud inside the closet so Suki had no place to hide.  I really felt sorry for her as I could see how much she desired to go into her safe place only her safe place wasn't  that safe anymore.

Then, to make matters worse, about half an hour after they arrived, the plumbers came banging loudly on my door.  At this point, poor Suki simply dived under the bed while I let the plumbers in so that they could see that all my bathroom drains were draining normally.

As the day progressed, the dripping stopped and, finally, the banging stopped as well.  Soon after that , Suki crawled out from under the bed and started asking to be fed.  Since it wasn't quite lunch time yet, I distracted her by showing her where the water was dripping from above the bedroom closet door and plopping noisily onto the folded towels spread across the floor.   Suki found this quite fascinating for a time as she tried to catch the drops of water before they hit the towels.  Eventually, of course, her thoughts turned back to lunch.

Now, of course, all that happened on Wednesday is forgotten by Suki and she is sleeping soundly as she takes her morning nap. What she doesn't know is that the plumbers will be back this week in order to repair the hole they made in the wall behind the kitchen when they were cleaning the drains last month.  Since they plan to install a small, metal door where the hole is, I am certain that they will be bringing their electric drill with them.  So, the monster will return... poor Suki... more trauma ahead.

As for me, I continue to deal with all my usual pains and
Me at 3 years of age
difficulties in my usual way.  There have been more visits and phone calls these past few days, however, as today is my birthday. Truly, I never thought I would get this old, but here I am.


Thanks to all of you who have contacted me one way or another: cards, phone calls, emails and Facebook.  I feel very well remembered.






My grand-nephew or great-nephew --
whichever you prefer -- studying the
birthday card I made for him.



I share my birthday with my great-nephew, Daniel.  As usual, I sent him a card that I had made.  Since he, like all my family, lives in the USA, I always worry that the birthday cards I send won't arrive in time.  Thankfully, in this case, he received my card a few days before the 14th.







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THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT




This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.     John 1:19-28


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



"Among you stands ... the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal."

The entire introductory section of St. John's Gospel is full of so many amazing things.  In this passage, for example, we are told that the God of all, in order to show us He is Love, Itself, came and walked among us.  Not only that, but we are told that He wore the footwear of poor people -- rough sandals -- and got his feet dirty -- like all the other poor folks -- as he walked along the dusty roads of ancient Palestine.

I have heard these words so many times, however, that I have to stop and say something to myself along the lines of "what if this is really true?"  When I ask that question then I am shocked once again at the possibility that there is a Creator who loves us so much that He lived among us and, like us, got His feet dirty.  Not only that, in order to show us how much we are loved, he suffered to be born as a baby with feet that could not walk at first. He lived a life of hard work and suffered from cold feet and feet that ached at the end of a long day. Eventually, He was condemned, falsely, as a criminal and had nails driven through those same feet just like all the poor criminals of His time and place.  Is this not amazing?

May we rejoice on this "Gaudete (rejoicing) Sunday" as we contemplate the coming of the Christ Child with his tiny, precious feet that speak to us so loudly about the God who is Love.

Amen.


Sunday, 7 December 2014

A Shepherd Girl

"A Shepherd Girl", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

For this week's drawing, I used another work of the French academic painter and traditionalist, William-Adolphe Bouguereau. (see my posting of November 2, 2014 for details on the life and work of Bouguereau) as my inspiration. He did a painting entitled, "The Shepherdess" and I felt the pose he used for the young girl was just perfect for my model, especially since I had a dual purpose in wanting to draw a shepherdess.  Let me explain.

Recently, for some reason, I have been thinking quite a bit about Lucia dos Santos of Fatima -- thinking about both the story of her life and the story of Fatima, itself.  I felt as though I wanted to do a drawing that expressed her life at the beginning of the whole amazing story. However, I also wanted to just try to draw a young girl tending sheep -- the lot of so many poor children in the past as well as the present.

"Lucia of Fatima", drawing by the hand
of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014
 So I ended up with two versions of the same drawing:  one shows a young girl tending her sheep and lambs while the other shows young Lucia de Jesus dos Santos of Fatima, Portugal, as I think she might have appeared.

I have no idea why the Fatima story had been on my mind so much lately -- this story, itself, hasn't been of overwhelming importance in my life; however, now that this drawing (both versions) is finished, I feel a kind of peace as though I have accomplished something I needed to do.

As usual, there are a number of little things I am still not satisfied with in both versions of this drawing, but, for the time being, I don't think I will be doing any revisions.

Of course, one extraordinary aspect of these two drawings should occur to those of you reading this since you are computer-savvy enough to be on the Internet! As I am sure you realize, I really did only one drawing and then, since I draw on the computer, I was able to make a copy the original and then make any changes to it that I felt were appropriate. I didn't have to draw it twice as Bouguereau would have had to do. Since I can transfer the entire file by using "save as", I can then work on the copy in the same way as I worked on the original -- making changes, additions, etc. as I see fit. This is an area of modern art work that has only become possible in the past 15 - 20 years and it really is quite amazing when you think about it. I wonder what of art and design work will be possible in another 15 - 20 years?



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NEW PHOTOS OF RONÀN 


Can you believe that this little guy is already slightly over 1 month old? His photos appear to show that he is busily developing into his own, unique person -- and in just two more weeks, I am going to get to finally meet him face to face!  I am so excited.




Hey, what's going on here?  Whose big hands are these?




Speaking of hands, take a look at these!  
This guy is either going to be a symphony conductor, a football referee or...




... maybe a baseball umpire.  He has definitely already got the moves!




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SUKI AND SALLIE




As a youngster, I well remember how easily my mother could get me to behave as Christmas approached.  All she had to do was say the magic words:  "Naughty children only receive coal and "switches" under the tree -- nothing else!"  

Coal and switches were two things with which I was very familiar. We had a coal bin in the basement right next to the furnace filled, during the winter, with hard, black rocks that my father would regularly shovel into the brightly burning mouth of the furnace. As for switches, there was a large shrub just outside the back door which seemed to have a limitless supply of thin, pliable branches about 16 - 24 inches in length.  When stripped of their small flowers, they made the perfect implement for my mother to use across the back of my bare legs when, on occasion, I was particularly naughty and unmanageable.

Thus, the closer we got to Christmas, the more determined I became to behave myself.  I mean, after all, what child would prefer dirty lumps of coal to a new dolly or toy car?!  Suki, on the other hand, seems to behave in the opposite manner and the threat of coal and switches doesn't work for, to her, they sound like interesting new toys.  By the time Christmas arrives, I am at my wit's end!

Suki, of course, blames me.  As she points out, I am the one, after all, who brings all those bright, shiny objects out of the storage closet each year, placing them on the Christmas tree, on the coffee table and on various shelves of the bookcases.  Surely, she says, those nice round balls must be cat toys and as every cat knows, instinctively, trees have only purpose:  to provide places for cats to climb.  So how can I possibly be upset when I awaken once again to find another broken Christmas decoration on the floor? 

Sometime I catch her in the act and with a shout and a loud clap of my hands I can usually get her to stop fairly quickly.  With the shout and the clapping, Suki usually heads for the bedroom, quickly scooting under the bed.  When I point out to her that her reaction would indicate that she knows she is doing something wrong, she retorts with:  "That's not true -- you know how loud noises frighten me.  You know how high-strung I am.  It's cruel to be stressing me out so."  Suki, as I am sure you have noticed by now, is very good at passing the blame.  

Sometimes I actually end up feeling guilty for stressing out the poor cat.  But then I usually remember fairly quickly that it was Suki who was caught in the act of trying to remove another decoration from the tree -- a decoration that even now would probably be lying, broken, on the floor if I hadn't yelled at her.  So I yell at her again for trying to be such a manipulator and back under the bed she goes.  Her quick movements remind me a bit of Santa in the classic, T'was the Night Before Christmas where we read: 
"[Santa] turned with a jerk and laying his finger aside of his nose gave a nod and up the chimney he rose...shouting...as he drove out of sight: 'Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night'."   
A Happy Christmas, indeed!

As for the rest of my life, everything remains much the same -- the same pain along with the same daily regimen of pain medication and distraction attempts.

I did have a visit this week from one of the priests at St. Michael's Cathedral.  He is young, very nice and polite.  I was finally able to receive some of the Sacraments that have not been available to me for a number of months.  He agreed to come and visit me again at the beginning of Lent.  



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SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT


"Icon -- St. John the Baptist in the Desert", by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014 revised


As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”
John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  Mark 1:1-8

A lot of folks thought St. John the Baptist was a crazy man. Imagine, going out to the Judean desert -- a proper no-man's land -- and living there, eating "locusts and wild honey", until you felt prompted by God to start shouting things at people -- things about the coming of the Messiah and judgement for your sins.  

Sounds sort of like one of those "end of the world" characters we see wandering our city streets on occasion, shouting at us as we try to go about our mundane tasks.  I usually try to get past them as quickly as possible without looking at them directly so that there is no chance of making eye contact with what is obviously, or so it seems, a crazy person.

Yet, when it came to St. John the Baptist, for some reason, a lot of the poor people of his day listened to him, allowing him to pour water over them as they stood in the Jordan River having come to believe that he spoke the truth.  They were seeking forgiveness and healing by receiving a "baptism of repentance".  They wanted to be ready when the Messiah appeared.  Remember which groups of people did not listen to him -- the religious and political leaders of the day.  Interesting, isn't it? 

May I know the freedom and peace that comes from acting in accord with my beliefs even if there are people in my life who think I'm crazy for doing so!

St. John the Baptist, God's glorious fool, pray for us.

Amen.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Correa backhouseana -- Australian Fuchsia

"Correa backhouseana -- Australian Fuchsia", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014


Correa backhouseana, commonly known as Australian Fuchsia, is a species of flowering plant in the family Rutaceae. It is a coastal shrub, native to southern Australia. It can grow to between 5 to 6 feet in height. The leaves are wide, glossy dark green on top and pale, grayish-tan underneath. The drooping, tubular flowers are pale (yellow-green to white) in colour. 

The species was first formally described in 1834 by botanist William Jackson Hooker in The Journal of Botany. The type specimen was collected by English botanist and missionary James Backhouse (thus the species name of backhouseana) at Cape Grim in Tasmania in 1833. Three varieties are currently recognized.

Correa backhouseana is a hardy plant that is useful as a screening plant or along fencelines. However, due to destruction of its habitat, it is now on the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment's Advisory List of Rare Or Threatened Plants.  

However, C. backhouseana continues to be found in gardens where it tolerates both salt-laden winds and light frost.  Also it is grown in greenhouses as the flowers and leaves are often used in floral arrangements.

I have had this drawing on the go for a number of months now -- I just couldn't seem to get it finished.  Then a couple of weeks ago, I came across it again and the time just felt right.  I got back to work on the drawing and stayed with it, over several days, until it was finished.  

My major complaint about the drawing is my inability, once again, to create "glossiness"!  As the experts say, "the leaves are ... glossy dark green on top".  When, oh, when, will I figure out a way to create "glossiness" in my computer drawings?


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


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RONÀN AND BRADEN


Photo update of these two, sweet boys...


Ronàn very much asleep while his hands are busy --
perhaps he's dreaming of directing Beethoven's Ninth!


Braden looking rather pensive -- or is he just trying to decide which truck
car or tractor he is going to play with next?



Brothers -- that says it all




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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki -- Undercover detective!
As I write this, I raise my eyes from the computer screen, look up and what do I see?  

I see two very piercing cat eyes peering at me over the top of my computer screen!

Suki has somehow managed to get herself positioned just behind my laptop as she continues her ongoing campaign to get me to give her an early lunch.  

This is, of course, not going to happen -- a fact of which Suki has been informed several times already; however, hope does seem to spring eternal in her kitty-cat breast.  So the battle of wills continues, as usual.  It's just another ordinary day at my house! 

The problem about all this "laying down the law to Suki" business is this:  I have weakened on a couple of occasions in the past and given in to her demand for an early lunch, supper or whatever. I mean, sometimes she can be such a pest and I really get tired of being bothered.  I know, I know... I am just an old softy. Anyway, Suki, knowing that such a thing has happened in the past, continues to hope that it may happen again in the future -- or right now, to be exact.

However, I continue to try, once again, to steel myself against her purring pleadings for I know what will happen if I give in:  an hour from now, when it is the proper time for her to have lunch, Suki will act as though she hasn't eaten since breakfast.  She will indignantly claim to have no knowledge of any previous feeding and will insist on being fed as usual. She will make such a fuss that I might actually give in and give her just a bit more food!  

Truly, the way she behaves at times such as these always leaves me feeling guilty (for some reason).  Behind Suki's pitiful meows, I somehow feel as though she is threatening to contact the Humane Society and claim that I am refusing to feed her!  What can I do except give in and feed her again? Truly, this cat has got me wrapped around her little paw -- and she knows it!

Otherwise, things continue to be much the same for me.  My days are spent trying to keep the pain at a manageable level through pharmaceuticals and distraction techniques.  Most of the time I am able to manage fairly well although there are some days that are quite horrendous.  Thankfully, I have reached a point in life where little is expected of me (other than catering to the cat) -- thus, leaving me free to do whatever is needed to get through each day.

I did have some extra phone calls this past Thursday as family and friends in the States called to wish me a happy American Thanksgiving.  They know we celebrate a different day in Canada, but for them there is really only one Thanksgiving Day -- the last Thursday in November.  

During the conversation with my family, I was informed about various items on the menu.  How I wish I could have been magically transported as they gathered around the dining table and, thus, join in good conversation while dining on all those delicious southern, Thanksgiving-Day delicacies.  

Speaking of Thanksgiving food, know what I miss the most? I miss the day after Thanksgiving when we would make Turkey sandwiches with lots of cranberry sauce on them!  Yum. 



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FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT


"Christ: 'I am here at the door' ", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014 Rev.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’ ” Mark 13:33-37 

And so we begin the period of watching and waiting -- Advent -- waiting with Mary and Joseph, as they waited that first Christmas for the birth of the Christ Child.  Watching for the signs of His approach.

Waiting is seldom easy for any of us.  I know that when I desire to have something or know I will be receiving something greatly anticipated, I find it very difficult to wait patiently.  In fact, it is, and has been throughout my lifetime, hard work to discipline myself to wait. Even though I learned years ago that the desiring of something is often so much better than the actual getting of it, I still want to receive it right now!

The story of Christmas, it seems to me, is all about waiting, trustingly and patiently, for the ultimate desire of my heart. What is that desire?  It is the unfulfilled longing for love -- for perfect, unconditional love.  

May we watch and wait trustingly, patiently for the coming of the Child who is Perfect Love.

Amen.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

St. Ronàn the Silent

"Icon -- St. Ronàn the Silent", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014



Today I am featuring an icon that I have been working on for some time now -- actually, ever since I learned that Ronàn might be chosen for one of the names of Braden's new brother.  I decided that I wanted to feature this work today because I have learned over the past few days that dear, little Ronàn is in need of our prayers.  I am not going to try to explain the situation to you at this time, but am simply asking that you please pray for Ronàn's health and well-being and the well-being of his family. 

Now, let me tell you what I have discovered about St. Ronàn of Locronàn or, as I prefer, St. Ronàn the Silent.

While doing my research, I discovered that there were at least twelve Irish/Celtic saints called Ronàn -- a list which includes the following: 
• Saint Ronàn of Ulster who died 11th January 535. 
• Saint Ronàn, first Abbot of Drumshallon in Ireland. He died 8th November 665. 
• Saint Ronàn of Iveagh in Scotland. Feast day is the 22nd May. 
• Saint Ronàn of Lismore. His feast is celebrated on 9 February. 
• Saint Ronàn of Iona. August 18th is the day designated on which to honour him; and finally...
• Saint Ronàn the Silent. He preached throughout Devon/ Cornwall and Brittany. He is venerated particularly in the village of Locronàn in Brittany, which is named after him, and which has his relics. Although not on the official calendar of Saints, St. Ronàn of Locronàn has been venerated on June 1st for centuries.  

Ronán is a Irish-language, masculine, given name meaning "little seal" (Rón meaning "seal", and -án being a diminutive suffix). Legend tells of "seal children" who are warned never to stray too close to the land. For, they are told, if a “seal child” is swept ashore by heavy seas, such a child can become trapped in a human form, known as a “Selkie” (Silkie). If you are interested in finding out more about the legends of such "seal-humans" take a look at the poem/song: “The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry”.  But let's return to St. Ronán.

The Vita S. Ronani,
the life of the saint, was finally written sometime during the 1200s. According to this source, St. Ronàn was born in Ireland in the sixth century of pagan parents. He was well-educated, became a Christian and eventually became a bishop. His good works as a bishop brought him great renown in Ireland; however, he longed to have a quieter, more hidden life which, he hoped, would lead him to closer communion with God. So at the height of his career, he chose voluntary exile; severing all ties with kin and country and embarking on a voyage to Brittany. 

Having landed "in the region of Léon", St. Ronàn continued his journey southwards to the kingdom of Cornouaille (Latin Cornubia) and set up a hermitage at what would become known as Locronàn (the place of Ronàn). Here he devoted himself to prayer and an ascetic way of life. Even though he tried to live a hidden life, he soon attracted a multitude of admirers from the region who gradually formed a religious community around him. The hours that St. Ronàn spent in silent prayer and contemplation led to his name of Ronàn the Silent.  Eventually, St. Ronàn died in his cell surrounded by his community. 

The second part of the Vita S. Ronani focuses on events after St. Ronàn's death -- the miracles attributed to his intercession, the growth of his cult and the fate of his relics.  The first reported miracle following his death came about due to a dispute over where the saint should be buried. After asking the saint for guidance, a couple of oxen led the people to a burial spot, indicating that this was where St. Ronàn desired to be buried. Once the body was placed at this site, healings and miracles of all sorts begin to occur and the cult of St. Ronàn grew

To this very day in Locronàn (Cornwall) Brittany, St. Ronàn's feast day is the subject of an annual pilgrimage and celebration known, locally, as the "Forgiveness" of St. Ronàn.

St. Ronàn, pray for us.  


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

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MORE PHOTOS OF RONÀN AND BRADEN 




Ronàn ready for his 3 a.m. feeding!




Brothers -- Ronàn and Braden






Dad is up early!


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SUKI AND SALLIE

"There had better be a good reason for waking me!"
Well, after a couple of weeks of allowing me to "sleep in" until between 5:30 - 5:45 in the morning, Suki has gone back to her old ways of trying to awaken me when she first feels those hunger pangs -- around 5 a.m.! 

 Of course, it may not be entirely her fault. After all, I was the one who placed temptation in her way and so I guess I must accept some responsibility. However, it seems to me that just because someone is tempted, it doesn't necessarily follow that they have to give in to that temptation. But, then, we all know what Suki is like! Let me explain... 

 Due to the fact that the weather has now turned so cold, I felt I could no longer leave the blinds, covering the balcony door, tied back at night. You may recall that I had originally tied them back so that Suki would not be able to rattle them, noisily, whenever she felt it was time for me to get up in the morning and feed her. I mean -- even I can't sleep with the Venetian blinds clacking together, over and over again! 

 Thus, earlier this past week, I left the blinds untied at bedtime so that the balcony door was covered. The result of doing this was that a good amount of cold air was no longer able to "draft" into the apartment during the night which meant that I didn't have to have the thermostat up quite so high in order to remain comfortable while I was sleeping. 

 The first night the blinds were untied, Suki did not seem to notice -- maybe she was just so used to them being unavailable that she simply paid no attention. However, by the second night, she had quite obviously become aware that the blinds were no longer tied back as evidenced by her attempt on Wednesday morning to awaken me about 4:45 by pushing those blessed blinds back and forth so that they made that annoying clackety-clack sound! 

I cannot post what I said to Suki when I was jerked awake by this most unpleasant noise. Let's just say that my comments included lots of rude words -- the kind they still bleep out in TV programs! Anyway, as any of my faithful Suki followers know, yelling at Suki has no effect other than to, perhaps, make me feel a bit better for a moment or two. 

 So, I did what was required -- I got up, grabbed the cat, shut her up in the bathroom, turned on the Baroque music channel on the TV (to muffle the sounds of Suki meowing) and painfully crawled back into bed. Of course, by this time I was too wide awake to go back to sleep so, instead, I just lay there for a while, trying to let the sounds of Vivaldi and friends soothe my troubled mind. After a while, I gave in, got up, released poor Suki from her "prison" and let her lead me to the kitchen where her food was waiting to be prepared. 

Since then, I have once more been tying the blinds back at bedtime; however, I am also turning down the thermostat so that it doesn't try to heat up the place during the night and simply adding an extra heavy blanket to my bedclothes. When I awaken now, I feel rather like I am back on the farm -- all warm under a pile of blankets except for my cold nose and a purring kitty cat under the blankets with me. Maybe this was her plan all along! 

As for my other concerns, I remain much the same. I did have a medical visit this past week -- a follow-up appointment at Mt. Sinai Hospital regarding my TMJ replacements. It was such a waste of time. Not only did I have to endure terrible pain as they tried to push my twisted neck and back into position for a panoramic x-ray, but then they charged me $80 for the privilege! I have no plans to ever return to that doctor again. 

 BTW, just a note to those of you on my Christmas calendar list -- you know who you are. Please let me know if you would be willing to receive a desk calendar this year rather than a wall one. Thanks.


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FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING



"Icon--Christ the King", by the  hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014


Jesus said to his disciples: 'When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate people one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."     Matt. 25:31-46 [only 31- 34 posted above] 

This is the beginning of the passage that speaks about the sheep being those who, having fed the hungry, clothed the naked etc. during their lifetimes, will now realize that in doing this for others, they really did it to Christ -- whether they knew it or not! Since most of us do kind things for others during our lives -- regardless of our motives -- I think we can take comfort in knowing that He sees it as though we "[are doing] it for Him".

It seems to me, then, that only those who have knowingly shut themselves off from love and loving would be excluded from the sheep and included with the goats.   

Of course, I ask myself, then, if there are really any such people who don't, deep down, desire to be loved.  It seems almost impossible to me that there would be. Wouldn't even the worst of people, once you have stripped away the surface anger, hatred and the desperate need to control, reveal, underneath it all, a small, frightened child yearning to be loved and accepted?  Perhaps not, but I, personally, cannot imagine it -- maybe because I see that small, frightened child so clearly within myself.

And, so I pray that we may all continue to try to love our neighbours as ourselves so that we, too, may some day hear the words: "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these..., you did it to me. Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

Grant us the grace to be kind.

Amen.  

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora

"Kalanchoe thyrsiflora", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014


Today's drawing is the fourth one I have done over the years of flowering plants of the genus, Kalanchoe, family, Crassulaceae [see postings for October 5 and 9, 2010, if interested].  

Kalanchoe is a genus of about 125 species of tropical, succulent flowering plants from southern and eastern Africa, Madagascar and parts of south-eastern Asia. Only one species of the genus originated in the Americas. (This is Kalanchoe pinnata, also called the Air Plant. It is found in South America and well known for it medicinal uses.) 


Typical leaves of
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora
Like most of the southern African Kalanchoe species, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, featured in today's drawing, forms a basal rosette of large rounded, fleshy leaves, which are grayish green with red margins. [There is a variety found in Hawaii -- probably a cultivar since it is not native to Hawaii -- which has multi-coloured leaves. This is the one that I have tried to depict in today's drawing.] The plants can grow to about 60 cm. The erect, upward- facing, tightly arranged leaves are stemless. These leafy rosettes send up stalks of dense flowers which are coated with a white powder. The flowers are greenish with yellow re-curved lobes and appear from February to June along the Cape region of South Africa.

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora and other Kalanchoe species found in southern Africa are known locally as Paddle Plant, Flapjacks or Meelplakkie, an Afrikaans name for flour. Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, first described by Harvey, is one of 6 species of Kalanchoe listed in Flora Capensis which was published in 1861. It was also the first Kalanchoe to be illustrated in "The Flowering Plants of South Africa". 

The species name thyrsiflora refers to the flowering of the plant which is a “thryse” or many-flowered kind of blooming. Kalanchoe evidently comes from an unknown Chinese epithet. The name was assigned by the botanist, Adanson, who first described the genus Kalanchoe in 1763.

Apart from being used by the Sothos in South Africa as a charm to ease difficulties, no other cultural or traditional uses have been recorded for 
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora.  Horticulturally, the plants are very popular in rock gardens, on rocky embankments and as perennial container plants.

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

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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki are you smiling?
There is really nothing to report on either of us this week.

Suki has been reasonably well behaved.  She did get a bit antsy on Friday when some workmen were making lots of noise on the floor above us; however, the noise soon ceased and Suki able to return to her napping.

I did have an medical appointment this past week, also on Friday; however, it was relatively uneventful as it was simply a yearly follow-up.  After a quick check-over, I was told that the particular part of my anatomy in question was in fine shape and that I did not need to return for another two years!  I said, "Fine.  If I'm still around in two years, I'll come and see you!"  And with that I left and took a taxi home.

So, I am grateful to have had a quiet week and am hoping that the coming one will be similar.  The pain levels haven't gotten any worse and Suki and I both are sleeping well.

It is rather strange to think that I have reached a point in my life when I consider a week where I: stayed at home every day tending to my quiet activities, was able to keep my pain levels from increasing and experienced relatively decent behaviour from Suki to have been a really good week!  Who would have thought....


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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time



"Icon -- Holy Mary, Mother of God",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie"
Thayer, 2011
Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and  gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matt. 25:24-30
"St. Joseph and the Christ Child",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie"
Thayer, 2012

I decided to use two drawings today -- drawings of the two people who not only doubled the "talents" they were given, but who actually "double-quadrupled" their "talents":  Our Lady and St. Joseph.

Now, as to the Gospel, itself, I have posted only the latter half of today's reading.  Most of us know the story of the "talents" so well that simply a few words from the passage will bring the entire story to mind.

It's a story that I have always had a bit of difficulty with -- not just because I feel that I, too, have probably wasted my "talents", but also because I feel so sorry, each time I read or hear the story. We read that the man, who went and buried his "talent" until the Master returned out of fear of losing what he had been given, ended up losing everything -- and I mean everything.  For when he returns the one "talent" to the Master, he not only loses his one "talent", but he is also "cast into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth"! Doesn't that sound like fun?

I always wonder what will be done with someone who not only buries their "talent", but then refuses to even dig it up and return it to the Master.  This is often how I feel about the way I have lived my life. So I have to wonder just what even more terrible things might be in store for me!

BTW, "talent" was a term used in that time for something of actual monetary value, but the Church has come to see "talent" not just as money, but as all the "stuff" we are born with and acquire during our lifetimes as well -- both natural abilities and acquired ones, including skills, wealth and power.  So, that is why I have to ask myself:  "what have I done with my "talents'?  What a scary question!

Well, as Fr. Benedict always used to say:  "when I come before God, all I am going to do is to fall on my knees (or whatever I have at that point to fall on) and loudly cry 'mercy', 'mercy', 'mercy'."  I think that's a plan!  Meanwhile, I pray for the grace to just keep trying to get it right.

I pray that I will never forget that God, who is Love, never ceases loving me or any of us. May we never cease loving in return.

Amen.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Aeschynanthus 'Thai Pink'

"Aeschynanthus 'Thai Pink' ", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014


"Thai Pink" is a cultivar (a plant variety produced by selective breeding) of the genus Aeschynanthus in the family Gesneriaceae

I did a drawing last year of another Aeschynanthus (A. radicans --better known as the Lipstick Plant) which I posted back on May 8, 2013.  You may be familiar with these plants as various species of the so-called "Lipstick Plant" are frequently available wherever house plants are sold.
  
"Aeschynanthus radicans, Lipstick Plant"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Aeschynanthus is a large genus of Old World tropical plants native primarily to Southeast Asia (think Malaysia, Java, Thailand, etc.). They are often trailing epiphytes (a plant that grows upon another plant, non-parasitically, or upon some other object -- such as a tree or a building -- and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain). Most have fairly large and showy flowers which are frequently pollinated by birds.

Aeschynanthus comes from the Greek aischyno, meaning “ashamed” and anthos, meaning “flowers”. This combination refers to the usual colour of the flowers – a reddish-pink color similar to that seen when someone is blushing.

I am not really satisfied with many aspects of this most recent drawing of Aeschynanthus so you may well see another drawing of one or another of the species of Aeschynanthus in the near future!




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UPDATE ON RONÀN (AND BRADEN)



Well, I certainly have two wonderful "great-nephews": Ronàn and Braden. (I'm not really their great-aunt, but they call me "Auntie Sallie" anyway). Their maternal grandmother was a very dear friend who did me the honour of asking me to be the godmother of one of her children.  This godmother/godson relationship has been one of the most precious relationships of my life and now I am getting to share in the joy of my godson's children.  What a great blessing.

As you can see from the photos below, the brothers appear to be doing well and enjoying getting to know one another. Rest assured, you will be seeing lots more photos of these lovely lads in the days ahead!




Ronàn says: "Am I ever glad to be home!"






Braden with his baby brother, Ronàn.  
Braden says:  "I'm glad to have my baby brother home -- even if he is a little noisy at times!" 




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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki settling down for a snooze with her
favourite teddy bear!
Suki had another visit this week from the "flush of plumbers".  This time they noisily arrived with all the equipment need to "clean the kitchen stacks" -- whatever that means.

All I know is that after this, their third or fourth visit, I still have a hole in my wall covered with plastic sheeting and tape.  All Suki knows is that the "monster" keeps returning which means she has had to spend quite a bit of time these past weeks hiding in the back of the bedroom closet!

Each time this (or any other) monster arrives, Suki makes a mad dash for the bedroom (thankfully for her I always leave the door slightly ajar).  I hear her as she quickly makes her way to the back of the closet and then all is silent.  That monster is not going to catch her for she is, now, safely in her bolt hole for the duration plus. What I mean by "duration plus" is that she will not only stay in her hiding place for however long the workmen are here, but she will remain there for a good two hours after they have left -- just in case the monster hasn't really gone and is waiting to grab her just outside the closet door!

What is interesting to me is that Suki seems to know almost immediately, from the moment I open the door of my apartment, whether the people coming in are friends/acquaintances or workmen.  Maybe its the way they knock or walk or how noisy they are -- I can't figure it out.  Just as many people arrive when certain of my friends bring their family with them for a visit or when the people come from the Cathedral each Sunday with Holy Communion.  

It remains a mystery as to how Suki knows instantly which is which.  When the workmen arrive, she is into that bedroom closet in a flash, but when friends or acquaintances arrive, Suki hangs around, investigating them and, in particular, smelling their shoes! I have no idea why she is so keen on shoes -- unlike a dog, she has no interest in chewing on them -- but it's to the shoes she goes once everyone is seated and shoe-less. 

I have told Suki that the plumbers will not be back and she seems relieved; however, I have not yet told her that other workmen will be arriving sometime during the next couple of weeks in order to repair the hole in the wall!  No sense in giving her anything extra to worry about, poor kitty.

As for me, I had a doctor's appointment this past week.  It was just a regular visit to my family doctor so that I could have routine blood work done and get my flu shot.  It has been a couple of months now since I have had to do anything so strenuous and I was not really prepared for how painful the experience was going to be. 

In fact, I am still rather shocked at how difficult the entire experience was.  It was so difficult that by the time I arrived back home, I had to head straight for the most powerful pain meds and take to my bed, staying their until the next day! I'm thinking now that it may be time for me to make the necessary arrangements for home nursing and medical visits rather than trying to go out to the lab and the doctor's offices.

So, as you can see, I experienced a couple of significant events this past week what with the visit to the doctor and a visit from Suki's "monster".  The week ahead includes a visit to one of my medical specialists so I am going to do everything I can to make the trip there and back as easy on myself as possible.  I will let you know how I manage.

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FEAST OF THE DEDICATION OF THE LATERAN BASILICA 



"Icon--Our Lady, Protectress of the Church", by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009 rev.

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He told those who were selling ....  ..............................................................................................“Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
John 2.13,16-22



The temple of stones is a symbol of the Living Church


"Today the liturgy celebrates the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, called “mother and head of all the churches of the city and the world.” In fact, this basilica was the first to be built after Emperor Constantine’s edict (313 A.D.) granted Christians freedom to practice their religion. In fact, at the time of the edict, Constantine gave Pope Miltiades the ancient palace of the Laterani family. The basilica, the baptistery, and the patriarchate -- the Bishop of Rome’s residence where the Popes lived until 1309 -- were all built there. The basilica’s dedication was celebrated by Pope Sylvester around the year 324 A.D.

On today's solemnity, the Word of God recalls an essential truth: the temple of stones is a symbol of the living Church, the Christian community. In their letters, the Apostles Peter and Paul already understood the Church as a “spiritual edifice,” built by God with “living stones,” namely, Christians themselves, upon the one foundation of Jesus Christ, who is called the “cornerstone” (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17; 1 Peter 2:4-8; Ephesians 2:20-22). “Brothers (and Sisters), you are God’s building,” St. Paul wrote, and added: “holy is God’s temple, which you are” (1 Corinthians 3:9c, 17)."

The two paragraphs above were taken from CatholicCulture.org

May today's feast help me to remember that I am called to be a "living stone" in the Body of Christ, the Church.

May we all know the joy and peace that comes from being a support for others and from allowing others to support us -- like stones in a building -- as we make our journey through life.

Amen.