Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Can't Keep Away from Calla

Calla Lilies, Orange, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Calla Lilies (also known as Arum Lily or simply Calla) are not true lilies at all. They were placed in the family Araceae and the genus Zantedeschia and are native to southern Africa from South Africa to Malawi.

The Zantedeschia species are poisonous due to the presence of calcium oxalate. "All parts of the plant are toxic, and produce irritation and swelling of the mouth and throat, acute vomiting and diarrhea."  None of which sounds like any fun at all!


Single Calla Lily (Red) by
Georgia O'Keefe


Over the centuries some artists have used the Calla as part of their “signature” – always having a Calla Lily somewhere in their paintings. I am considering doing the same because I am so fond of this flower.  Of course, I am not sure how I could find a way to insert Calla Lilies into all my various and varied icons! 8-)











Some examples of well-known artists who have made the Calla Lily famous are Diego Rivera and Georgia O'Keefe. Although I do not care for the politics of these artists, I do admire their work.











And to continue... here is another in my ever-growing collection of Calla Lily drawings.  I think what I may love so much about them are their curves and I have even named this one "Calla Lily Curves".


Calla Lily Curves, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
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The Heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork... (Ps. 19:1)

Here are three photos that give me a sense of the glory of God.


"The seas may rage and foam, but I will trust in the Lord."


"Who are we, O, Lord, that you should answer our call?"


The vastness of the earth seems so big but it is really so small --
Yet, God holds each of us in the palm of His hand.

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SUKI AND SALLIE



With all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday news going on, its beginning to feel a lot like "Hark, listen to the cash registers ring".

I asked Suki if she would like a kitten for Christmas -- something that would keep her active and help her to lose some of that weight she is carrying around.  She said she would really rather have a broken tail or at least I think that is what she said!  Maybe she said something about "hell"; I'm not really sure.

I continue to do reasonably well for which I am very grateful.

The most exciting thing that has happened over the 4 days since my last posting is the plans for a friend to come and visit me.  This woman was my best friend starting in Junior High School and all through high school.  But then I moved away from the south in 1964 and she had just gotten married and was starting a family so we lost touch.  Then, through the magic of the Internet, we connected again about 6 or 7 years ago.  We actually have not seen one another in almost 47 years.  That is longer than some of my readers have even been alive!  Now here we are making final arrangements for her to come for a visit the week of my birthday (in December).  I am so excited and at the same time, I can't quite believe it is actually happening!  Truly God is so good.


We are joyfully waiting as the days of Advent pass and bring us closer and closer to the coming of the Lord!

 May the peace of God be with us all.

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Prophet Samuel



Icon, Samuel the Prophet, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Samuel the Prophet

Samuel (Hebrew: שמואל) is a leader of ancient Israel in the Books of Samuel in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament. He is also known as a prophet. He was the last of the Hebrew Judges and the first of the major prophets who began to prophesy inside the Land of Israel. He was thus at the cusp between two eras. The Books of Samuel also tell us that he also anointed the first two kings of the Kingdom of Israel: Saul and David.

Samuel's mother was Hannah and his father was Elkanah. Hannah, at the beginning of the narrative, is barren and childless, like Abraham's wife Sarah. Hannah prays to God for a child. Eli who is sitting at the foot of the doorpost in the sanctuary at Shiloh, sees her apparently mumbling and thinks Hannah is drunk, but is soon assured of her motivation and sobriety. Eli was, according to the Books of Samuel, the name of a priest of Shiloh, and one of the last Israelite Judges before the rule of kings in ancient Israel. He blesses her after she promises the child to God. Subsequently Hannah becomes pregnant; her child is Samuel. After he is weaned, she leaves him in Eli's care.

Like so many people, my favourite part of Samuel’s story occurs one night, while Samuel was still a lad and heard a voice calling his name. He initially assumed it was coming from Eli and went to Eli to ask what he wished to say. Eli, however, sent Samuel back to sleep saying he had not called him. After this happened three times Eli realized that the voice was God's, and instructed Samuel on how to respond. He was to say: “speak Lord, your servant is listening.” (I Samuel 3). When Samuel responded, God told him that the wickedness of the sons of Eli had resulted in their dynasty being condemned to destruction. The next day Eli asked Samuel to honestly recount to him what he had been told, and upon receiving the communication merely said that God should do what seems right to Himself, or in effect, let God’s will be done.

The saddest part of this story, to me, occurs after Samuel's death and burial. Saul had followed God’s commandments and driven all necromancers and magicians from Israel. Then, in a bitter irony, Saul sought out a witch, anonymously and in disguise, only after he received no answer from God from dreams, other prophets, or the Urim and Thummim [priestly means of divination] as to his best course of action against the assembled forces of the Philistines. Following the orders of the king, the woman summons the ghost of Samuel from the abode of the dead, to give Saul advice. However, no such advice is given.  Rather, after complaining of being awakened from his long sleep, the prophet's ghost berates Saul for disobeying God, and predicts Saul's downfall, with his whole army, in battle the next day, and adds that Saul and his sons will join him, then, in Sheol, the abode of the dead.  Saul is shocked and afraid, and the next day the army is defeated and Saul commits suicide after being wounded. (I Samuel 28:3-25ff).

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A Delightful Correspondence

On November 16th, I received the following enquiry: "Sallie.... On Thursday, March 18, 2010 you posted a picture of a little girl sitting on a suitcase with her dog. My granddaughter saw that picture and wanted to paint it......I've the pleasure of teaching her how to do watercolors.......and she loved that particular "story". Did you take that photo or find it somewhere? My interest is in getting permission to paint it without any copyright infringements. Please let me know......."

I responded and said: "The photo is one of a series of dog and children photographs that I have collected over the past few years. It is not one of mine and I have no idea who actually took the photo in the first place. It has been “floating” around the Internet for the past little while. As for getting permission to paint it, you do not need any permission. If your granddaughter is using the photo as a “model” for her watercolour, then there is no copyright infringement. Artists do this sort of “copying” all the time. I, for one, cannot draw something without having a photo of the item I want to draw in front of me. In fact, in art school, you are taught to paint by copying the works of other artists. So, I would recommend that you worry no more and simply enjoy helping your granddaughter complete a watercolour of a little girl and her dog. Her finished work will be her own creation and not an infringement of the copyright of anyone. Actually, I would love to see a photo of her finished work. Maybe I could even post it on my blog and tell her story. Let me know. God bless you and your granddaughter, Sallie"

The gentleman wrote back saying: "Sallie. I appreciate your response and your input. Erin (my grand daughter ) loved her experience painting that picture. It's her first attempt at painting anything......and she did it in watercolors. I was very pleased with her first attempt. She just turned 12 and was excited about trying a watercolor. Attached it a photo of her and her painting."

I was so impressed that I wrote back immediately, asking: "Thank you so much for your photo and information. I am really impressed with the finished work. Has Erin been studying art for very long or is she just a natural talent? Would it be possible for me to use the photo on my blog along with a copy of the original photo Erin worked from?"

He wrote back, immediately, giving me permission and saying: "Erin would be delighted to see herself on your blog. You're welcome to use her photo......and first name. She has drawn for the past several years.....and after I picked up painting last year she had shown some interest. This is her first attempt......and my first attempt at teaching..... I have to admit.....I'm pleased with both. She has a lot of natural ability. I barely get by......but she's a natural. I'll keep you posted......she's going to do an oil next."

So here you are -- the original photograph that Erin wanted to work from and the photo of Erin and her finished work. As you can see for yourselves, Erin is indeed a natural.


"The Long Goodbye"  photograph by unknown artist

Erin with her finished work!

I am frequently delighted these days by how the this blog reaches out, bringing me into contact with all sorts of wonderful people.  I feel so blessed.

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Suki and Sallie


Suki as outsiders see her!
 Yesterday a friend came by for a visit.  She had not met Suki previously and was delighted to see Suki come out from under the table to investigate her.  After Suki had a few sniffs, she made her way slowly over to her favourite chair.  As we watched her walk across the floor, I saw what I usually see -- my NOT overweight cat, but my pleasingly plump cat.  My friend, however, saw the reality.  She said:  "we once had a fat cat like that and my children called her stomach hanging down her 'jelly belly'."

I quickly spoke up to correct her, saying:  "I don't know why Suki's tummy hangs down that way as she is not really that overweight."  My friend looked at me in amazement and said, "She is definitely overweight, Sallie.  She is fat." 

Suddenly my eyes were opened.  Like it or not,  I had to admit that she was telling me the truth that I had been denying.  Poor, Miss Suki is fat, but then I told myself right away, she is a happy, fat cat, isn't she?  I hadn't wanted to face this truth as now I feel as though I must do something about it -- but what?  I have never had a cat that was so demanding about eating frequently.  I feed her low-fat food, but I am usually in too much pain to try to do any serious play with her -- the type of play where she would really get some good exercise.  Perhaps I should get an extensive cat condo like my friend, Eugene, has for his cat, Desi.  I wonder if that would work?  So I am turning to you, kind readers of my blog, for suggestions and recommendations.  Please help.

As for me, this old body of mine continues to fall apart!

On Wednesday I learned that the artificial joint in my right jaw has fractured and that the broken part is trying to push its way through the bone and up into my brain!  This explains the occasional pain I have been having there. 

I had to have both TMJ's replaced back in 1999 due to osteoarthritis in the joints -- so now I will have to have both of the prostheses replaced.  Why both, you may ask?  Well, the artificial joint design has been greatly improved over the past 12 years.  The new ones sit just a bit differently so it wouldn't work to have one new and one old.  Thus I have either one or two surgeries ahead of me (back in 1999, the surgeon did two operations but I don't know if the replacements can be done in one or will also have to be done in two). 

The surgery is, of course, just the beginning.  After the surgery comes the weeks of soft food, the frequent exercises to make certain that my mouth will open properly again and just simply learning to use my jaws again.  The fact that I have been through all this before is both good and bad -- the good part is that I already know what is involved and I have no delusions about the amount of pain and rehab required, but, then, that is also the bad part in that I cannot wait for my surgical date in blissful ignorance.  BTW, the date for surgery has not been set yet as I am simply in the queue.  So, please pray for me that I will continue to trust in God's willingness to provide the grace I need to go through all of this again successfully -- and that I will joyfully join all my suffering to that of Christ's Passion so that both I, and others, will be blessed.

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Now, after all that serious stuff about me and Suki, I will leave you with a cute image that almost every computer user will wish that they had on their computer.





Wishing everyone a blessed beginning of Advent on Sunday.  May your Advent Season be filled with the joy that the Christ Child alone can provide.
 
How amazing, how incredible, that God sent a wee babe to save us.
May the peace of God be with us all.

Monday, 21 November 2011

More Tillandsia cyanea "Pink Quill"



Tillandsia cyanea "Pink Quill", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

 Here is another version of Tillandsia cyanea or Pink Quill, a species of flowering plant in the Bromeliad family, subfamily Tillandsioideae. An epiphyte* native to Ecuador, T. cyanea is among the most commonly cultivated bromeliad species. The foliage grows in a rosette of thin, recurved leaves with a plume of pink or red bracts from which violet flowers emerge. *[An epiphyte (or air plants) is a plant that grows upon another plant (such as a tree) non-parasitically or sometimes upon some other objects (such as a building or a telegraph wire), derives its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and sometimes from debris accumulating around it, and is found in the temperate zone (as many mosses, liverworts, lichens and algae) and in the tropics (as many ferns, cacti, orchids, and bromeliads)] definition taken from Wikipedia.


As mentioned above, Tillandsias are epiphytes in their native Ecuador and have small roots, mainly used for anchoring themselves on trees. Because the roots don't drink up water, these tree-dwelling plants gather moisture and nutrients through their leaves and bracts.

Tillandsia cyanea "Pink Quill",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011


REMINDER OF PREVIOUS DRAWING:


You may not recall the drawing of this same plant I did some months ago so to refresh your memory, here it is.  At the time I posted it, I mentioned that this plant also has lovely blossoms and that I was already working on another drawing which would show the blossoms.  I finally got around to finishing it!






As usual, I could not resist playing around with this drawing on my funny software.  The original drawing, shown just above, actually had its most popular form in one of the versions I developed using the funny software.  So, just to remind you of that, here is the modified drawing.
Tillandsia cyanea "Pink Quill",
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011











So now let me show you the modified versions I ended  up with for this drawing.  There are three of them.  One was accomplished by using "colour inversion" which provides some lovely, pastel colours. 

The second version was created using the familiar "solarization" technique.  It was actually this particular software choice that created the popular version of that first drawing immediately above.  This time, the solarization software did not create a modified image with the same kind of attractive appeal as the original drawing.

The third is a version achieved by using something called "Hue correction". 

Anyway, I have confused you enough so let me just show you the modified images and let us get on with it!



Tillandsia cyanea "Pink Quill", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
Colour Inversion Software
 
Tillandsia cyanea "Pink Quill", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
Solarization Software

Tillandsia cyanea "Pink Quill", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
Hue Correction

Now, what would be really kind of my readers -- would be to tell me what you think of these various versions or, at the very least, which version you like best.  Just a one sentence comment in the comments section -- that would be so nice.  Thanks.

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SOME DIFFERENT AND UNUSUAL PHOTOGRAPHS




Lightning/rain storm with sunshine (the Devil's beating his wife)
 Where I grew up, we had an expression that we used whenever it rained while the sun was shining.  People said:  "Oh, the Devil is beating his wife again!"  Since I had no idea why we said that, I looked it up on Wikipedia and this is what I found:  " In the United States, particularly the South, a sunshower is said to show that "the devil is beating his wife"; a regional variant from Tennessee is "the devil is kissing his wife". In Canada, it's typically related to the devil beating his wife, then marrying numerous offspring."  Apparently, throughout the world, sunshowers are related to something bad happening or about to happen.  If you are interested in seeing all the variations, just put "the devil is beating his wife" into your search engine and see them all.



Red Hole in the sky -- is someone coming or going?
 I really would like to know more about this photograph and the one following.  I assume that they are both caused by some sort of weather pattern, but I have never seen either one.  They appear to be natural although there could be some sort of photoshopping going on here.  If you know what is happening in either photo, please let me know.  Thanks.


Another hole in the sky (or clouds actually) -- just what is going on here?
 


This is a photo taken in west Texas -- there is no ground fire, the fire in in the clouds!
 

A cloud sitting on a mountain top -- or could it be a spaceship?  Look at all that ancient light from the stars!
 Here is another strange looking cloud.  Once again, I have no idea of what is going on and would be very interested in finding out.  I really enjoy looking at the sky which appears to be full of stars but which is really full of starlight from eons past.  We are looking at the ancient past, not the present moment.  This is one more case where appearance and reality are not one and the same.

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SUKI AND SALLIE

Believe it or not, Suki has not done anything unusual, destructive or vindictive since my last post.  I am watching her closely just in case she is ill.  But so far, all she is doing is her normal eating and  sleeping and eating and sleeping and sleeping.  You get the picture!

As for me, I am just enjoying getting a bit more sleep (thanks to Suki sleeping more) and preparing myself, mentally, for the onset of real winter weather.  It is always a good idea, I find, to start reminding myself that the days are coming when I won't be able to get out to do my usual errands and so I need to start stocking up on supplies to make certain my cupboard is full.  There may even be days when I won't be able to get across the street to the gym.  But that would take a really big snow storm (the kind where you have to call out the army for help!!) and I doubt that we are going to ever have another one of those storms.  8-)   [this is a Canadian joke about snow storms and the army]

Otherwise, I am trying to get myself in gear to start doing some preparations for Christmas.  I need to get busy as I haven't even decided which icon I will be using for my Christmas card this year.  Although I no longer send out many cards, there are those few people that I can't contact by email and who still really appreciate getting one of my special cards.  I also need to get busy and write a Christmas letter to each of my "adopted" girls.  That needs to be done very soon, actually, as those letters have to be sent early since they are going to foreign countries via the agency, CHALICE, through whom I sponsor the girls.

So, with all that in mind, I think it would be wise for me to finish off here and go and do some work on the letters!

Remember to pray for all the holy souls during this month of November.



May the peace and love of God be with us all.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Deborah, Prophetess and Judge

Icon, Righteous Deborah, Prophetess and Judge, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Deborah (Hebrew: דְּבוֹרָה, Dvora‎) was a prophetess of the Lord, the God of the Israelites, the fourth Judge of pre-monarchic Israel, counselor, warrior, and the wife of Lapidoth according to the Book of Judges chapters 4 and 5. Being the only female judge in the vast history of Israel, Deborah led a successful counterattack against the forces of Jabin king of Canaan and his military commander Sisera, the narrative is recounted in chapter 4.

Judges chapter 5 gives the same story in poetic form. This passage, often called The Song of Deborah, may date to as early as the 12th century BC and is perhaps the earliest sample of Hebrew poetry. It is also significant because it is one of the oldest passages that portrays fighting women, the account being that of Jael, the wife of Heber, a Kenite tent maker. Jael killed Sisera by driving a tent peg through his temple as he slept. Both Deborah and Jael are portrayed as strong independent women of faith.

Not much is known about Deborah's personal life. Her name in Hebrew is pronounced Dvora. Some sources, such as chabad.org, state that she judged Israel from 1107 B.C. until her death in 1067 B.C. The Dictionary of World Biography: The Ancient World, claims that she might have lived from 1200 B.C. to 1124 B.C., which would have made her about 36 years old at the time of the battle against Sisera, and 75 at the time her death. The book also says that she was most probably born in central Israel to the tribe of Ephraim, and was also the author of The Song of Deborah.

To get the complete story, read Judges 4 and 5 in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament.

When I was young, I always enjoyed reading the story of Deborah the judge and of Jael, the wife of Heber, who so cleverly dispatched that nasty villain, Sisera.  I think I first met them in the Children's Bible in a more sanitized version, but then as I got older, I could read the actual Scriptural account.  I do recall thinking that doing God's work in those days seemed to be a rather violent and messy business at times -- I mean driving a tent peg through the head of a sleeping man is not a task for the faint of heart -- but I figured that it was all part of the dangerous and violent times in which they lived.

Now my two favourite passages in the story are the following:  "At that time Deborah, a prophetess ... was judging Israel.  She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim and the Israelites came up to her for judgement." (Judges 4: 4-5) from the beginning of the story...
AND
"And the land had rest for forty years."  (Judges 5:31c) from the end of the story.

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IMAGES OF AUTUMN

A friend recently sent me a bunch of Autumn photographs.  I cannot include them all so I chose my favourites.  By now, you all know how much I love this time of year -- mainly because of the colours!  The changing leaves framed by a bright, blue sky bring such joy to my heart. 

I remember reading an account of a young girl in the US who had been painting since about the age of 3 years.  At the time I heard of her she was around 10 years old and was doing very professional looking painting without, supposedly, having any formal training.  According to her, so much of what she painted came from things she had witnessed in visions God had granted her.  She said that He had shown her Heaven and that the colours she had seen there were indescribably beautiful -- and that although she tried to show them in her paintings, it was beyond the power of any earthly palette.  I often think of that statement when I see the colours of Autumn.  Now, scroll through the following and enjoy the beauty.


Autumn Reflections


Did someone paint the train cars to match the trees?


The Water is on fire!


What incredible colours -- so vibrant against the background of green and misty blue.


A Mill back up in those Tennessee mountains in the Autumn.
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SUKI AND SALLIE 

Let me begin tonight with the latest Suki episode...

Yesterday, I got our superintendent to cart away the old recliner in my bedroom.  This was Suki's favourite chair and for that reason alone, I hated to dispose of it, but because I must use the wheelchair more frequently now in my apartment, I really needed the space to manoeuvre.

To say that Suki was distressed is putting it mildly!  She barely acknowledged me for the remainder of the day and even refrained from asking me for food when I knew she must be hungry.  She just wasn't talking to me.  So, on that unhappy note, I went to bed last night.  Suki did not even come to say goodnight as she usually does.

I fell asleep quickly but was suddenly startled from my sleep by something that sounded like a police siren right underneath me.  At first I couldn't figure out what was going on as I struggled to get up and, at the same time, scan the bedroom by the light from the hallway.  It was then that I saw a terrible sight:  Suki was sitting on the keyboard of my laptop computer which she had somehow managed to turn on.  She had her bum planted on top of the keys and the computer, in protest, was actually screaming!  And most distressingly, it seemed, by the dim light filtering into the bedroom, that Suki was smiling!  I yelled loudly and lunged towards the computer and Suki but was only able to move slowly because of the pain.  Suki broke and ran at the sound of my yelling and was well hidden by the time I actually got to the computer and was able to shut it down again.  I looked at the clock -- I had only been asleep for 45 minutes -- just deeply into that sweet sleep of the first hour.  Now I was wide awake and it took me several hours before I had settled down enough to fall asleep again.  I slept fitfully for the remainder of the night, often awakening.

My questions are twofold:  How was Suki able to turn on that computer? and, is it  possible that cats can really be purposely vindictive?  Let me know what you think!


The poster I created for our December meeting
As for me...

Here is a copy of the poster I created this week for the next meeting of the Seniors' Club at St. Michael's.  As you can see, on the 13th of December (the day before my birthday), I will once again attempt to take the elevator from the main floor to the basement in order to attend the meeting.  Will I make it is the question.

I would really like to attend as the children from the Choir School will be performing and will also lead us in a sing-along.  God alone knows if I will be able to reach the location where it is being held.  Maybe this third try to get the elevator to work and down to the lower level will be successful -- no more being stuck between floors, no more doors that once locked will not unlock, etc.  This entire saga is certainly teaching me more about how to trust God in all things!

Otherwise, I am doing fine -- just a bit sleepier than normal!!

Don't forget to pray for the holy souls during this month of November.

Righteous and holy Deborah, pray for us.


May the peace of God be with us all.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Blue Fan


Scaevola aemula Blue Fan Flowers
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Scaevola aemula (Fairy Fan-flower or Common Fan-flower) is a small shrub in the family Goodeniaceae, native to southern Australia although now available for gardens wherever the climate and soil are suitable.  It grows to 50 cm in height and produces white or blue flowers in spikes up to 24 cm long from August to March in its native range. These are followed by rounded, wrinkled berries. The species is thought to be the most commonly cultivated of the genus Scaevola, and a large number of cultivars have been developed.

Scaevola is from the Latin, scaevus, meaning on the left side, referring to the flowers which have petals arranged to one side - fan shaped. Aemula is from the Latin aemulus, meaning comparing with or rivalling or of uncertain origin.

For (a little) more information go to:
http://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2002/scaevola-aemula.html


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NEW MEXICO, USA

As some of you know, I lived in the State of New Mexico for 2 or 3 years back in the 1960s.  New Mexico is a somewhat sparsely populated state sitting between Texas and Arizona.  It is that very "sparse-ness" of people combined with a large rock population that made me fall in love with the southwestern part of the State at our first encounter.  All that empty land with huge standing stones -- many of which look just like giants from a distance -- combined with caves, canyons and the occasional cottonwood tree and water hole.  Then just when you think there is nothing around you other than these few things, you look more closely and see that there is a whole world of creatures carrying on their daily lives.  I had so many adventures there and met so many wonderful animals, birds and beautiful reptiles.  And, yes, there were wonderful people as well.

You know how much I love trees, but somehow those powerful and primitive rocky landscapes had a profound effect on me.  I have longed to return there for so many years, but it just doesn't look as though it will happen.  However, I have wonderful memories, including many photographs and even a few paintings.  So, since New Mexico has been much in my thoughts lately, I felt that today's posting would be a good time to share a bit of my New Mexico with you.



Sunrise as seen from one of the thousands of caves which are found throughout the State
Some of the most famous are found in Canyon de Chelly where the Anasazi people
built their homes into the caves and then one day the Anasazi just disappeared...??
  

Geronimo, a high mesa near where I lived.  This beautiful place was one of
the last hideouts for Geronimo when he was being sought by the U.S. cavalry.
Photograph taken by Frank Thayer, circa 1965
 



"Geronimo", oil painting by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 1966
 

New Mexico lightning storm as seen from outside our house in Hurley New Mexico.
Notice the big smokestack pouring out smoke from the Kennecott Copper Smelter.
Photograph taken by Frank Thayer, circa 1965.


Look what happened to the smokestacks in 2005!  The smelter was closed for good in
1999 due to the low price of copper on the world market.


"New Mexico Village", copied from original work by T. F. Remington, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2007.  One of my first attempts at drawing on the computer using a similar looking painting by a New Mexico artist as my model.
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SUKI AND SALLIE
I have been thinking about putting Suki into one of those animal talent shows.  She is really a very talented cat!

One of her most amazing skills is her ability to tell time.  I would put her up against a 6 year old any day!  She is usually accurate to the minute.  For example, I can be doing whatever, paying no attention to the time when, suddenly, out of the blue, I hear a plaintive meow coming from the kitchen.  The first time I heard Suki meow this way, I rushed to find her as I thought she was dying.  What did I find?  I found Suki lying on the kitchen floor as though too weak to stand, crying pitifully.  I just happened to glance at the clock where I noticed that it was one minute past 12 noon.  Her original cry had occurred at exactly noon.

Every day since then, the same thing has occurred at exactly the same time.  Suki is ready for her lunch and refuses to take "no" for an answer.  This all started several months ago when I made the mistake of saying to Suki:  "Stop fussing, I promise I will feed you at noon".  See what I mean.  She can obviously tell time and has practically forced me to keep my promise to her each and every day since then.  It is almost scary -- and rather annoying to tell you the truth.  I keep hoping she will sleep through lunch, but so far, no such luck!  Ah, what a cat I am blessed to live with!
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As for me, I have had a very uneventful week since last Tuesday's episode with the demonic elevator at the Cathedral's parish hall!  I have been resting a lot.  I think getting trapped by the elevator twice in 7 days has left me feeling rather piqued!  So, I have been spending most of my time resting, drawing (which I also find restful) and just plain resting.  As well, most days I do exercise at the gym for a little over an hour.  My body needs to prepare itself to face that elevator once again in about three more weeks.  This time I am determined to win!

Today, once I have dealt with the Suki-drama described above which will occur in about 5 minutes, it will be time to get ready to go to the gym.  I wonder what would happen if I tried to sneak out without feeding her royal queen-ship?! 

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Meanwhile, remember to pray for the holy souls -- especially those who have no one to pray for them --during this month of November which is dedicated to praying for those who have died.  And don't forget to ask Our Lady and all the saints to pray with you.


May the peace of God be with us all.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Joshua, Son of Nun

Icon, Joshua, Son of Nun, Leader of the Israelites after Moses, by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Joshua is a minor figure in the Torah, being one of the spies for Israel (Num 13-14) and, in few passages, as Moses's assistant; however, he turns out to be the central character in the O.T. Book of Joshua. According to the books Exodus, Numbers and Joshua, he became the leader of the Israelite tribes after the death of Moses; his name was Hoshea the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, but Moses called him Joshua, (Numbers 13:16) the name by which he is commonly known.

According to Joshua 1:1-9, Moses appointed Joshua to succeed him as leader of the Israelites. The first part of the book of Joshua covers the period when he led the conquest of Canaan.  At the Jordan River, the waters parted, as they had for Moses at the Red Sea. The first battle after the crossing of the Jordan was the Battle of Jericho. The Israelites faced an alliance of Amorite kings from Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon.  Then later, at Gibeon, Joshua asked God to cause the sun and moon to stand still, so that he could finish the battle in daylight. This event is most notable because "there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel. (Joshua 10:14).  Joshua was born in Egypt prior to the exodus and he lived to the grand old age of 110 and was buried north of Mount Gaash.

The English name, Joshua, is a rendering of the Hebrew language "Yehoshua", meaning "Yahweh is salvation". "Jesus" is the English of the Greek transliteration of "Yehoshua" via Aramaic. In the Septuagint, all instances of the word "Yehoshua" are rendered as (Iēsoūs/Jesus), the closest Greek pronunciation of the Aramaic "Yeshua". Thus in Greek Joshua is called "Jesus son of Nun" (του Ναυή) to differentiate him from Jesus Christ. Joshua and Jesus are called with the same name, adding Navin ("son of Nun") for Joshua. Among the early Church Fathers, Joshua is considered a type of Jesus Christ.  For instance, just as Moses did not lead the children of Israel into the promised land, but Joshua did, so Moses' law could not lead them into Heaven but the new covenant mediated by Jesus (the same name as "Joshua") could.  Hebrews 4:8-10 identifies Jesus as a better Joshua, as Joshua led Israel into the rest of Canaan, but Jesus leads the people of God into "God's rest," salvation.

I remember as a child learning the words to the old spiritual "Joshua fit the battle of Jericho".  I loved to sing that song and sang it with great gusto much to the dismay of those standing nearby!  In preparing this posting, I went and looked up the words for that grand old song and am including them here:

Chorus: Joshua fit the battle of Jericho Jericho Jericho;
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho And the walls came tumbling down.

1. You may talk about your kings of Gideon, You may talk about your men of Saul
But there's none like good old Joshua At the battle of Jericho. Chorus:

2. Now the Lord commanded Joshua; "I command you and obey you must;
You just march straight to those city walls And the walls will turn to dust." Chorus:

3. Straight up to the walls of Jericho He marched with spear in hand,
"Go blow that ram's horn," Joshua cried, "For the battle is in my hand." Chorus:

4. The lamb ram sheep horns began to blow, And the trumpets began to sound,
And Joshua commanded, "Now children, shout!" And the walls came tumbling down. Chorus:


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MORE AUTUMN

Autumn "wall-to-wall" carpeting!

It seems that ever since I started focusing on "Autumn", I have come across a number of photos that show various aspects of this beautiful time of year.  This is one of them.  Whoever took this photograph did an excellent job, but, of course, the Person who created the scene in the first place gets the most praise!


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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF CATS

Like all creatures, cats have their unique way of doing things -- and many of these make us laugh because of the "catness" of their behaviour.  Below are some photos that I find show how delightful that cat-behaviour can be. 




Cat (Kitten) Teamwork
Cats are the only creature I know of that cannot stand to see a closed door.  Over the years, every single cat I have shared my life with has always behaved in the same fashion whenever a door was shut.  I mean, they have no interest in going into a particular room until someone shuts the door.  Then they suddenly appear, position themselves right outside of that closed door and wait... for a minute or two.  Then the scratching and meowing begins and continues until someone opens the door for them.  Once the door is open, they quickly enter, check out the room, leave and return to their favourite sleeping chair.  Here we see two determined kittens finding a way to open a closed door using what appears to be teamwork!


Whoever said cats can't fly had never seen cats participating in serious play fighting!
When cats play at fighting, they can do the most amazing things with their bodies.  These actions are usually not only amazing but extremely graceful as well.  All those beautiful muscles working together and enabling the cats to almost appear to dance through the air.  I wonder how it feels to have such strength and co-ordination so that you can twist and turn in the air and still land on your feet? 



"Uh-oh!  I thought I saw a pussy cat!  I did.  I did!" (quote from Tweety Bird)
This pigeon had better get a move on if he expects to survive to fly again tomorrow!  Whoever captured this moment was truly in the right place at the right time.  The expressions on the cats faces combined with their body language says it all.  Nothing sets a cat into attack mode more quickly than the sight of a bird.  This, like it or not, is true "catness"




"Yum!  More cream please"
But, if you can't have pigeon pie, why not have some thick cream?  This cat is totally focused on getting that spoon to its mouth one more time!  One of the reasons I enjoyed this photo so much is because of the cat's tongue.  As I have told you previously, my one claim to fame when I was in elementary school was my ability to stick out my tongue and touch the top of my nose with it.  On occasion, people would come to me and say that they had heard that I could touch my nose with my tongue and that they didn't believe it.  I never failed to impress them with my "talent".  Sadly, with the advent of my store-bought teeth, I can no longer do this!

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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki at her food dish -- an unhappy cat!

Suki is sound asleep at the moment; however, earlier today we were engaged in a struggle of wills over her food.  Lately, she has decided that all she really wants of her wet food is the gravy.  I will put her plate down and when I look in her direction a couple of minutes later, she is gone, her dish is still full of food with all the gravy licked off of it! 

I decided today that I simply was not going to put up with this nonsense any more and so every time she asked for food, I put the same dish back down in front of her.  She expressed her disdain by scratching the floor around the dish in the same way she does when she is covering up her mess in her litter box!  As you can imagine, this is a very expressive gesture!

Finally, by mid-afternoon, she was so hungry that I sensed victory.  I sprinkled the same old food with a bit of warm water and set it down in front of her again.  Amazingly, she ate it.  I have had cats that would go on a hunger strike for a couple of days rather than eat anything they did not want.  Suki's hunger got the best of her. 

Now she is a very happy cat once again and has gone to sleep.  The real test will be when I serve her a bedtime snack -- will she actually eat it or just lick the gravy off once again?!

As for me, I have another story to tell you about the same elevator that played such a large part in my "Sallie" story in the previous posting.  I am now convinced that the thing is truly possessed!  Here, then, are the events of Tuesday, November 8th.

As you may recall from my previous posting, I had tried to go to the wrong meeting.  The meeting I wanted to attend was scheduled for this past Tuesday, November 8th, not November 1st.  So, the meeting was scheduled to start at 12:45 in the basement of the parish hall at the Cathedral.  I attended noon Mass and left the Cathedral at about 12:35 to cross the street to the parish hall.  I managed to get into the hall entryway where the receptionist came and helped me get into the elevator -- this tiny little box of an elevator.  Once I was locked in, she tried to send it down to the lower level.  It did not work.  This gave me an uneasy feeling; however, she said that she would go and get the maintenance man to use his special skills to get the elevator to move.  Soon the maintenance man was there trying to make the elevator move.  He was unsuccessful.  I began to pray seriously because when they suggested that I get out of the elevator so that they could try it from the inside, it was discovered that the door would not open -- for some reason, the elevator thought it was in service and so the door remained firmly locked.  Once again, I was locked into that little box only this time I was surrounded by people who were peering over the edge of the elevator "hole".  Now I was not only worried, but I began to feel like an exhibit at the zoo! 

At one point there were five or six people all looking over the edge and offering their varied opinions as to why things were not working properly while, at the same time, telling me not to worry -- all would be well.  I managed to keep a happy face, but I was not so happy on the inside as I had visions of spending the rest of my life in this little box being looked down upon by each passerby.  Finally one of the maintenance people found a way to get the door open.  What relief!  However, that relief was short lived as we discovered that all our attempts at getting the elevator to move had lowered it just enough from the floor level so that I could not back out.  Now the maintenance people went off to find some boards that they could put under my back wheels that would act as a ramp.  Once they had the boards in place, I was able to force my chair to move backwards and was finally free!  The time was 1:12.  I had been in the elevator for almost 30 minutes!  Fortunately, the same Theresa I mentioned in my previous posting stayed with me the whole time.  I don't know if I would have been able to keep my composure without her friendly presence and encouragement.  By the way, by the time I was freed from the "box", I was too exhausted to want to attend the meeting and just turned and ran my chair at top speed all the way home whereupon I took myself to bed and rested, giving great thanks to God for my deliverance.

In December, there will be another meeting in the basement of the parish hall that I very much want to attend.  However, attending will require me to get in that elevator once again as that is the only way for a wheelchair to get down to the basement level.  I intend to send up a number of prayers for the trust I will need to get on that elevator once again!  I may even ask one of the priests to perform an exorcism on that contraption.  Stay tuned.


Remember to keep praying for the holy souls during this month of November.
May the peace of God be with us all.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Another Hibiscus

Hibiscus Double Rare, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Hibiscus are spread throughout the world in various species. The most famous is Hibiscus rosa sinensis, the so-called Hawaiian Hibiscus to many. Malvaceac, a family of plants noted both for its economic and horticultural importance, includes such genera as Althaea (the hollyhocks), Abutilons (Chinese lanterns) and of course Hibiscus.

Probably the largest and certainly the most variable with respect to its vegetative and floral expression, as well as its adaptation to diverse habitats, the genus Hibiscus contains plants that vary from small annual or perennial herbs, under-shrubs and shrubs to small trees. Hibiscus is derived from an ancient Greek word hibiskos which Dioscorides, a Greek physician of the first century, used for the plant commonly known as marsh-mallow. In 1735 when Carl Linnaeus described the marsh-mallow, instead of using the old name he chose a different name –Hibiscus.

Hibiscus are distributed primarily through tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, but a few species are found in temperate zones. Their habitats may range from mangrove swamps to coastal and inland marshes, desert, savanna or woodlands The number of species in the genus is difficult to estimate. The most recent comprehensive treatment of the genus recognised 197 species in twelve sections. At the present, it is assumed that 250 is not an unreasonable estimate of the number of species of hibiscus. The most important group of all the species is Hibiscus rosa sinensis.

It appears to me that hybridization of Hibiscus is fairly easy. Thus there seem to be an untold number of hybrids or cultivars. In one posting, I found the author saying that he had two new cultivars that had not been named yet and he was thinking of having a contest to name them! The one that I have drawn is simply referred to as “Hibiscus double rare”. I have no more information than that. Perhaps this is another one that needs to be named. Shall we have a contest?! The prize could be a free subscription to my blog!

By the way, I hope you notice that I restrained myself from playing with that strange software I love so much!  So, this time you get only the drawing in its original state.


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ST. MAXIMILIAN KOLBE ON THE GO!

I heard back from the people at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in West Chester, PA this week and they sent me some copies of the holy card that they had made using my drawing as well as the letterhead that they will be using during this 25th anniversary year.  As I have mentioned in the past, it gives me so much pleasure when Catholic and other Christian groups want to use my icon drawings.  It is truly at times such as this that I feel my activities are being used by God for His purposes.  Nothing makes me happier for I feel as though I am right in the middle of His will for my life.  Now for the actual items...



Front of prayer card made for the 25th anniversary celebration
at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in West Chester PA,
using my icon




Back side of the prayer card described above.




Letterhead from St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in West Chester, PA, using my drawing

Below is the original file that I sent to them.


My original drawing.


Truly, God is so good in enabling us to help and support each other.


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FRIENDS CELEBRATE THEIR DIFFERENCES

I have been collecting these "unusual friends" photos for some time now so I feel it appropriate to share a few of them with you.  They always remind me of how wonderful it felt when I first arrived in Canada and realized that I could now be friends with anyone.  I was no longer restricted by my culture and by the foolish prejudices of my community.  For example, the first friendship I had with a person of colour made me feel so free and so happy.  Unless you have lived with segregation, you really cannot understand how awful it is to be surrounded by people who, because of the colour of their skin, are supposed to be largely invisible to you.  Most certainly they were not people you could be friends with -- no matter how interesting they looked.  Your eyes might accidentally meet on occasion at which time they would quickly look away and towards the ground, hoping that they had not offended you.  I would often be left with the feeling that there was a real person behind those eyes but our culture said we could not be friends.  One of the very sad memories I have occurred while visiting my sister in north Florida in the late 1970s after I had lived in Canada for over 10 years.  I asked the black woman who did the housekeeping for my sister and her husband if she would give me a ride into town so I could visit with my parents who lived there.  This woman was truly like a member of my sister's family and was welcome to sit down with us to talk and to eat with us while she was in my sister's home.  I expected her to say immediately, "of course I will give you a ride."  However, she hesitated before saying "yes" to my request.  She then said that she would ask that I agree to sit in the back seat of her car so that it would appear to anyone who saw us that she was chauffeuring me somewhere (shades of Driving Miss Daisy!) -- if I sat in the front with her, people might think we were friends and try to hurt us!  Remember, this was in 1979.  So, let us be grateful for all our friendships just as these animals appear to be with theirs!



Rather than the wolf and the lamb laying down together, we have here a dog (a relative of the wolf)
and a lamb who seem very fond of one another!  Maybe this is what Isaiah meant! (see Isa. 11:6ff)



Truly an unusual friendship:  a cat and a Pelican.  Maybe the
Pelican started sharing leftover fish parts with the kitten and
the friendship grew from there.



This dog looks very happy to have her friend nearby.  The friend, a deer, seems happy too.



The friendship of a sheep and a goat is not that unusual, but this one seems very loving.
Of course, the day will come when the sheep and the goats will be separated -- one on
God's right hand and one on the left.  I do hope these two are prepared for that separation!
(see Matt. 25:31ff)


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SUKI AND SALLIE

Well, Suki has been a bit more aggressive than usual these past few days.  I am not sure why, but her behaviour truly does make me
Suki ready to attack: ME!
laugh.  She is so silly; thinking I can't see her hiding.  Then she comes bounding out from behind the bookcase and I try to act as terrified as possible which seems to please her immensely!

It is very interesting to observe how there are certain actions and places that seem to trigger Suki's aggressive play behaviour.  For example, the wing-back chair in the living room was claimed as a "Suki safe place" soon after she came to live here.  She loved to sleep in that chair and whenever I dared to sit in it, she felt she had the right to sit on the back of the chair, meowing at me occasionally until I finally moved!  Since those early days, whenever I get anywhere close to this chair, Suki comes running, ready to attack.  So, of course, I often go by the chair just for the fun of it. 

Sure enough, here she comes a'runnin', her eyes big and black.  First, she crouches down on the other side of the chair acting like she thinks that because she can't see me that she, too, must be hidden.  If I continue to noisily touch the top of the chair, Suki will make a sudden leap toward my hand.  My part is to move my hand away quickly while making mewing noises (sort of like the sound a frightened kitten makes).  The movement and the noise seem to make her feel victorious and she settles down quite quickly in her favourite chair -- that is so long as I don't make the mistake of trying to touch her chair again!  She must know this is a game; however, for when company comes and either I or one of my guests elect to sit in "her" chair, she ignores us.  Poor Suki -- life is just play and eat and sleep and more play!

As for me.  I continue to do very well in spite of all my aches and pains.   I haven't gotten stuck in any more elevators or tried to attend meetings that I am not supposed to attend -- so that is all good.   Next week looks like a busy one for me -- including the Seniors' Club presentation that I thought I was going to attend last Tuesday!  I will give you a full report on how I managed to deal with the demon-possessed elevator this time around!                        


Don't forget to pray for the Holy Souls as well as your deceased family members during this month of November.
May the peace of God be with us all.