Saturday, 31 March 2012

St. Rita of Cascia


Icon, St. Rita of Cascia, by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
The fig leaves in the background refer to a request by the saint as she was dying -- 
When asked what she desired, the saint replied, "please bring me a fig from the garden".
It was the middle of winter; however, when the sister looked, one fig tree was full of fruit.

St. Rita was born at Spoleto, Italy in 1381. At an early age, she begged her parents to allow her to enter a convent. As she was their only child and they were elderly, they, instead, arranged a marriage for her.

Rita was obedient and became a good wife and mother, but her husband was a man of violent temper. In anger he often mistreated his wife.  He taught their children his own evil ways. St. Rita tried to perform her duties faithfully and to pray and receive the sacraments frequently.  As the years passed, her quiet faith had a profound influence on her husband and sons.  After eighteen years of marriage, her husband experienced a conversion experience and begged Rita's forgiveness.  In less than two years after this, however, he was fatally stabbed by an enemy, but before he died, he forgave his attacker and died in a state of grace.

At this point, her sons swore to avenge their father's death.  Once again, St. Rita prayed fervently, asking that her sons might be kept from committing mortal sin even if it meant their deaths.  Shortly afterwards, her two sons became gravely ill during an epidemic and eventually died, but not before having forgiven their father's killers and made their peace with God.

Now Rita was alone in the world. As always, prayer, fasting, penances of many kinds, and good works filled her days. Sadly, although she was free to fulfill the desire of her heart -- entering the convent -- she was at first refused entry.  The nuns were afraid that those who had killed her husband might now try to kill Rita and thus bring disaster upon the convent.  Eventually, however, after God worked a miracle for the nuns at Rita's request, she was admitted to the convent of the Augustinian nuns at Cascia in Umbria, and began a life of obedience and charity.

St. Rita had a great devotion to the Passion of Christ. "Please let me suffer like Thee, Divine Saviour," she said one day, and suddenly one of the thorns from the crown of thorns on the crucifix flew through the air and struck her on the forehead. It left a deep wound which did not heal and which caused her much suffering for the rest of her life. This suffering she, of course, accepted with joy, offering it for all those who requested her prayers.  Many miracles were accomplished through her suffering and prayers.

She died on May 22, 1457. She is the patroness of impossible causes -- a companion saint of St. Jude the Apostle who is the patron of impossible causes. Her feast day is May 22. She is also considered to be the patroness of those in difficult marriages -- especially those who suffer abuse, those who suffer from loneliness, those who suffer from sickness of any sort and those suffering from sterility.

Ignatius Press has a DVD supposedly on the life of St. Rita.  Unfortunately, it has almost nothing to do with the real story of the life of this saint.  It is, in my opinion, one of those Hollywood-type long-suffering woman changes bad man into a good man just before he dies a holy death.  I gave it my Yuck rating, but I do know of others who liked it.



An old holy card of St. Rita of Cascia
showing her receiving the thorn from
the "crown" of Christ on the cross.


At the right is an image of the front of an old, holy card I found of St. Rita online.  This is one of a type popular in my youth.  On the back you usually found one of those wordy prayers full of "thees" and "thous", followed by one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one Glory be and concluding with:  "St. so-and-so, pray for us". At the bottom would be a nihil obstat (a printed phrase, followed by the name of an officially appointed censor, indicating that the publication carrying the phrase has been examined and judged free of doctrinal or moral error) prominently displayed.

So, in honour of this posting focusing on St. Rita of Cascia, let us say with the Church, "St. Rita, pray for us in all our needs and intentions.  Amen."




_________________________________
PATTERNS

Many people are attracted to patterns.  I am especially attracted to patterns found in nature.  Back in the days when I was trying my hand at serious photography, I took numerous photos of patterns in black and white.  These could be especially effective when printed using high contrast paper.  I even did my own film developing and printing back in those days -- that's how serious I was!  If I wanted to achieve certain artistic effects in black and white photography, then I really had to develop my own film for the exact time I wanted and then print my own photographs in order to attempt to accomplish those effects.  Anyway, here are a few new colour photographs I have come across lately that please that pattern-loving part of me.  I hope you enjoy them too.


Green Pine Cones

Patterns in the rock USA


Sand patterns created by tide flow


More patterns in rock, Australia

Round boulders created by tide flow -- Like so many people, I love the feel of smooth stone


_______________________________________________________

SUKI AND SALLIE

We had one really warm week in the middle of March that broke all sorts of records, but now we are back into "seasonal" temperatures.

When your cat starts wearing your sweater
maybe you should consider turning up the heat
 According to Suki, you feel the cold much more after having had a warm spell.  Anyway, it is rumoured that we may even have a bit of snow on the weekend -- nothing serious, but nobody likes that "S" word this time of year.

Of course, since Suki stays inside all the time,  I really don't know what she is complaining about!

Lately, a new battle has developed between us.  Suki wants to sit on top of my printer so that she can easily hide and peer out through the slits between the blinds and watch the pigeons on the balcony above.  I, on the other hand, do not care whether she wants to hide, but I do care about my printer -- all her weight and constant shedding of cat hair cannot be good for my printer. 

Every day now we have this power struggle going on.  We have reached the point where as soon as Suki realizes that I have seen her sitting on the printer and am headed her way,  she reluctantly moves on up onto the window ledge.  Her philosophy is --what the "bossy lady" can't see won't hurt her--.  The eventual outcome of this battle is already decided, of course.  Sooner or later, after countless, futile efforts to get her to change her behaviour, I will give up and say "to heck with it -- it is just not worth all this effort".  I am sure Suki already senses her victory!

As for me, I am doing fine.  Early yesterday morning, when I was able to remove all the leads attached to my chest for the 48-hour Holter monitor test and have a shower, I felt great.  Now I just have to wait until this coming Thursday to find out the results and see if there is anything that needs fixing in my poor, old heart.  Until then, I plan to just take life easy, resting when I need to and prepare myself for Easter.

Finally, today, I have a spiritual reflection question for you to consider.  You may remember the story in John 5 about the man who had been lying beside the pool for 38 years waiting to be healed. In verse 6, our Lord Jesus asked the man: "Do you want to be healed?"  What if our Lord stood before you and asked "do you want to be healed?"  What would your answer be? Remember, healing could be emotional, psychological or physical or all three at once.  If you have any thoughts you would like to share on this question, feel free to make a comment below or to write to me directly.

May the peace of God be with us all.


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

A Floral Bouquet


Primula auricula "green", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Primula auricula, often known as simply Auricula, is commonly called mountain cowslip or bear's ear (from the shape of its leaves).  It is a species of primrose that grows on basic rocks in the mountain ranges of central Europe, including the western Alps, Jura, the Vosges, the Black Forest and the Tatra mountains. Auriculas are members of the Genus Primula which is a large family of plants comprising over 425 species and many thousands of hybrids. The Auriculas first appeared in European gardens around the middle of the sixteenth century.  I find the variety of Auricula species fascinating with their various but similar ornate flower designs.

Clerodendrum ugandense, Rotheca myricoides, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Clerodendrum ugandense, Rotheca myricoides -- Family: Verbenaceae. Common names: Butterfly Clerodendrum, Blue Butterfly Bush, Blue Glory Bower, Blue Wings. Origin: Tropical Africa, Kenya and Uganda. Sky blue flowers -- an unusual color for the tropics -- looking like butterflies . The irregular flowers are bright blue, in two different shades of blue and are produced more or less continuously throughout the summer and fall. Flowers have long purple anthers which bend elegantly upwards.  I am not sure how "elegantly" the anthers I have drawn bend upwards, but they are interesting flowers.  I can only imagine what a plant would look like in full bloom -- as though bright blue butterflies had suddenly landed, covering everything with their beauty.  By the way, I really like the cup-like mature leaves.


Cryptostegia madagascariensis, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Cryptostegia madagascariensis -- Common name: Madagascar rubbervine. These plants contain rubber, but aren't commercially used for its production. Cryptostegia is a genus of flowering plants in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae. It consists of three species of thin, many-stemmed, woody, perennial vines native to tropical Africa and Madagascar. The milky sap, that oozes from the stems or leaves, is extremely toxic to all livestock. It contains cardiac glycosides which causes sudden death after exercise. Though the sap is also some quality latex, there is no commercial use for its production. These evergreen plants are grown for their showy ornamental vines. They are vigorous, self-supporting, beautiful vines that could reach 15m in length.  While the vines may be considered beautiful, I am not sure I would be comfortable with such a deadly plant growing in my garden!


Dianthus "Calypso Star", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Dianthus (pink) 'Calypso Star'. Family: Caryophyllaceae. Dianthus can be annuals, evergreen perennials or subshrubs with narrow, often grayish leaves and showy flowers that are frequently fragrant. 'Calypso Star' is a compact plant to 30cm tall, with light grey-green leaves and slightly scented, double flowers, the petals deep red-purple with an edging and two blotches of white/pink.  I only realized after writing the description above that my drawing has almost no leaves in it -- I chose to leave out most of the leaves as they overwhelmed the single flower!  I will make certain to include more of them in my next drawing of Dianthus

  _________________________________________________

ODDS AND ENDSNew drawings for various purposes

I often do various drawings that I don't show in my blog simply because they incorporate previous drawings or I just don't have the time to talk about them.  Usually they are part of some other project.  Anyway, here are a few examples of various drawings or arrangements I have done recently.  I hope you find them of interest.

This will be printed for mounting on a large plaque for the new baby soon to arrive in my family.  The icon used is a guardian angel drawing I did a few years ago.
 
This is a holy card I created using one of my icons from a couple of years ago.  Look at the small poster below to see why it was created to be given out before the presentation.
This icon was completed, I believe, back in 2010.  It worked perfectly for the event scheduled.
 
Poster I made for the meeting in March
using the icon shown above

Poster I made for the meeting
coming up in April (see cat drawing below).
There is nothing like a cat to teach us all
how best to stretch and move slowly! 



I needed a Tiger for a birthday card for a young person
born in the Year of the Tiger -- I didn't have such a drawing
so I made one!  Here is the result.

_______________________________________________

SUKI AND SALLIE

Have I ever told you about Suki's two food dishes?  
I found a really nice picture
of a cat stretching and then drew my
own version for use in the poster
shown above.

One dish has dry cat food which is always available.  The other dish is used for the wet food which is only available at certain times each day.  Suki will only eat small amounts of wet food at a time so if I were to give her an entire can at one "sitting", she would eat just a bit and the remainder would be wasted.  Once she finishes with a dish of wet food, whatever remains on the plate is garbage as far as she is concerned -- she would rather go hungry than eat that leftover food.  I have even tried disguising it, but nothing works.  As well, because she is such an energetic eater, I have her wet food dish sitting on a small rubber square so that the plate doesn't slide all over the floor while she is trying to eat.

Back to the two dishes.  Suki really doesn't like dry food but she will eat just a little bit of it when she is desperately hungry.  However, what invariably happens is that she goes to the kitchen and meows a bit to see if I will come and feed her.  When she realizes that I am not paying any attention to her, she will proceed to eat a few of her crunchies.  After she has eaten 4 or 5 and spit out 2or 3 more, she begins to scratch the way she does in her sand box.  Mostly she just scratches the linoleum, but eventually, she gets her claws into the vacant rubber mat which fairly quickly ends up on top of the dry food dish.  By the time she has finished, the small rubber square is covering the dry food dish completely!

I have watched her doing this and it is at this point that she stops, inspects everything carefully and then majestically walks out of the kitchen.  When I am present, she then makes a point of stopping just in front of me and stretching like the cat in the drawing above only she makes certain her back end is towards me.  I am not sure what she is saying by this gesture, but I have some ideas!
 
As for me, I am doing reasonably well.  Let me tell you what happened last Friday, however.  I came very close to getting a wee bit frustrated.

When I got back home last Friday and begin to finish up my blog posting for the 23rd, I just didn't feel like trying to tell you my story of why I ended up not having to have another stress test.  Today, I am feeling much more rested so, here it is.

I arrived on Friday at the place in the hospital where I had gone for my stress test a few weeks ago. The receptionist got a bit flustered because she couldn’t find my name on the list of appointments. Then she noticed on my document that I was scheduled to have the test done in the cardiology department not nuclear medicine. So, off I went to the 7th floor.

After searching, I finally found the receptionist for the stress testing on that floor. I handed her the appointment sheet I had received in the mail. She looked at the sheet, looked up at me, looked back at the sheet and said in a puzzled voice “but you are in a wheelchair”. I felt like saying “what was your first clue?” but I held my tongue and just said “yes”. Since it is still Lent, I was trying very hard not to say what I was actually thinking!  Then she said, “but you can’t run on a treadmill”. This time I said “yes, that is obviously true” -- I just couldn't help myself! She then pronounces “I think we have a problem here”. This time I really risked being a smart aleck, but managed to control myself and say: “If you expected me to run on a treadmill, I think you are absolutely right”.

Off she goes to see the cardiologist’s secretary. She returns shortly saying that I need to see the secretary right away to get everything straightened out. By the time I reach the secretary’s office, she has efficiently called up all my files on the computer and says to me “but you have already had a stress test.” I began again by simply saying, “Yes, I have.” -- working hard to control my tongue.  However, she barely gives me time for a response before she says “well, the results did not arrive with your original referral obviously or else no one would have asked you to repeat a stress test immediately after having one."  I was silent.  I just didn't trust myself enough by this time to risk it. 

Soon after this, the cardiologist, herself, came out and apologized to me for the mix-up and said that once the Holter monitoring was done, she would have everything she needed in preparation for meeting with me for the first time. So, now I wait until Wednesday and go to get fitted out with that little box and all those leads called a Holter monitor which I will then have to wear non-stop for 48 hours. Finally, on Thursday of next week, I will see the doctor.

May the peace of God be with us all.

Friday, 23 March 2012

St. Ephrem (Ephraim) the Syrian

Icon, St. Ephrem (Ephraim) the Syrian, by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

 St. Ephrem (Syriac) or Ephraim (Greek) the Syrian was a saint of the early Church.  He was born in 306 A.D., a Syriac and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian.  A sort of St. Gregory of the early eastern Church.  One of his many titles was "Harp of the Spirit".

Through his hymns and homilies, St. Ephrem, fought the heretics of his day.  One of his most famous battles was with the heretic, Bardesan, who claimed that the Resurrection did not occur (sadly, like too many theologians do at the present time!).  Using only his powerfully written music and texts, which moved the people deeply, St. Ephrem was able to defeat Bardesan.

It is said that St. Ephrem captured the hearts of the Christians so well that he awakened the entire Church of his day to the importance of music and poetry in spreading and fortifying the Faith.  Perhaps one of the best know hymns attributed to St.Ephraim is the one used in by the Orthodox churches each weekday during the Great Lent.  I have actually given this hymn to you previously, but I want to repeat it for you now:
1.  O Lord and Master of my life, Give me not a spirit of idleness, despondency, love of ruling others and idle chatter; [kneel or prostration after each verse]
2.  But rather, a spirit of chastity, humility of wisdom, patience and love, grant to me Your servant.
3.  Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brothers or sisters. For blessed are You forever and ever. Amen. (for more information regarding this prayer, go to: http://www.svluka.org/misionar/lentenpr_n2.htm )
One of the main reasons I wanted to present this icon (which I have had sitting in my files for a while) at this time has to do with the fact that St. Ephrem was born in a place which, at that time, was part of Syria (it is now actually in Turkey on the border with Syria and is quite possibly full of Syrian refugees).  Syria was the land of St. Ephrem and he is given the most honour today by the Syriac Orthodox Church.  This makes St. Ephrem, I feel, a perfect saint from whom to request prayerful assistance for the people of Syria.

The tragic situation in that country now pulls at the heartstrings of most of the world's people.  No matter which side you are on, there is only more bloodshed, destruction, family disruption and separation -- all of these evils because people cannot resolve issues peacefully.  So, let us ask St. Ephrem of Syria to pray for the people and the country of Syria.  Perhaps we could even make a commitment to pray his famous Lenten prayer each day until Easter, including at the end the phrase:  "St. Ephrem, please pray for the people and for the Country of Syria.  Amen".  Let us pray particularly for the Christians in Syria who are being forced by radical Islamists to flee their ancient homeland.
_________________________________________________

DRIFTWOOD

Like many people, I am attracted to the shapes and patterns you find when you take a close look at the driftwood which washes up on the beach -- especially after a big storm. 

I can remember many time when, while visiting my sister and her husband in Florida, I would wander the beach picking up different things that appealed to me.  I often found beautiful pieces of driftwood which I would take back to my sister's house and try to smuggle in without her seeing.  Sadly, I always got caught and she always said the same thing:  "Sallie, put that outside and take it back to the beach next time you go.  You know you don't have room in your luggage to take it home and I am not going to let you fill up my house with your found treasures!"  She wasn't being mean; it was just that if left to my own devices, she knew I would fill the house with all sort of things I thought were beautiful.  Worst of all, I wouldn't be able to take these treasures home with me because there simply wasn't room in my luggage. 

I still collect photos of driftwood, however, and today I thought I would show you some of my recent additions.


I call this one "Struggling to be Free"
(excuse the poor quality, but it was scanned from an old newspaper)

It looks like a big storm is coming or is just leaving!  Either way
this lovely piece of driftwood may be gone before long with the sea all
green-coloured -- it is angry water as we used to say.

I cannot quite imagine of which kind of tree this piece of driftwood
was originally part?  Any suggestions?

This driftwood looks, to me, like some sort of alien robot worker developed
to move rocks from one place to another!



A quick glance at this driftwood at about dusk would probably startle me into thinking
I was looking at a skeleton washed up on the beach -- at first glance.  Fascinating how
our brains immediately want to make sense out of what we see.


This large piece of driftwood looks, to me, like a monk, prostrate in prayer --
perhaps praying the prayer of St. Ephrem in the section above.  He has chosen
a prostration after each verse rather than kneeling.
 ____________________________________________

SUKI AND SALLIE

Well, my dear friend, Amra, came to visit yesterday -- you remember her -- she's the one who wrote the article accompanying the icon of St. Sava.

Curiosity got the best of her!

Anyway, when she arrived, Suki was hiding in the closet because I had the balcony door open, and, as I have mentioned before, Suki does not like the noise from outside and so when the door is open, she goes and hides in the back of the closet.

I had just finished explaining to Amra where Suki was and why and apologizing that she wasn't being more sociable, when who should suddenly appear, sticking her head up between us in her usual pushy way -- none other than her royal highness, Queen Suki, Mistress of my Household!  "Well," I said to Suki, very politely of course, "the curiosity just plain got the best of you, didn't it?"  She meowed politely in response.  We were being polite because we had company! 

She was acting as though she was hungry (which I, in fact, believed was the real reason she had left her hiding place).  I got up and served her a dish of her favourite food.  She quickly licked off a bit of the gravy and then went right back to being friendly with Amra.  I could just hear her saying "all those things you have heard about me, well, they are not true.  I don't know why this Sallie person has a need to make up stories.  I am always perfectly well behaved.  I never do anything wrong."  Thankfully, Amra didn't believe a word Suki was saying.

Even thought the balcony door remained open, Suki stayed with us for the remainder of Amra's visit, giving Amra the pleasure of scratching her chin (Suki's favourite thing).  However, I decided it was cool enough now in my place so I closed the balcony door without Suki even having to ask!  Of course, as soon as Amra left, here was Suki crying insistently over the fact that I had taken her food dish and covered it so the food would stay fresh and meanwhile, she couldn't get to it.  She was so hungry that she ate the whole thing without even stopping to breathe -- or so it seemed to me.

Stress Test:  Good and glorious news -- I did not have to re-do the stress test after all!  Hooray, hooray!

I went to the doctor's office at the appointed time only to discover that there had been a mix-up.  At the time the appointment was made, the cardiologist had not seen the results of my previous stress test and did not, in fact, even know that I had had such a test.  Once this was discovered today, the stress test was cancelled.  They even made an effort to get me in to have the Holter monitor put on, but the folks there were way too busy (most be lots of heart problems these days). 

Meanwhile, let us continue to remember to ask St. Ephrem to pray for all the Syrians and Syrian-Canadians that peace might come soon to that terribly troubled country.  May it be real peace not just the exchanging of one form of totalitarian regime for another.

St. Ephrem, pray for us.

And now, may the peace of God be with us all.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Acca sellowiana -- Feijoa

Acca sellowiana (formerly known as Feijoa sellowiana)
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

The edible fruit of Acca sellowiana
(formerly known as Feijoa sellowiana)
Acca sellowiana originally known as Feijoa sellowiana is a species of flowering plant in the myrtle family (Myrtaceae) and is native to the highlands of southern Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, and northern Argentina. Common names include feijoa, pineapple guava and guavasteen. It is an evergreen, perennial shrub or small tree, 1–7 metres (3.3–23 ft) in height, widely cultivated as a garden plant and fruiting tree.  Flowers appear late, from May through June. Each flower contains four to six fleshy flower petals that are white tinged with purple on the inside. These petals are mildly sweet and edible and can make a refreshing addition to spring salads. It has been said that feijoa pollen is transferred by birds that are attracted to and eat the flowers, but bees are the chief pollinators.

The German botanist Otto Karl Berg named feijoa after João da Silva Feijó, a Portuguese botanist born in the colony of Brazil. The fruit, maturing in autumn, is green and about the size of a chicken egg. It has a sweet, aromatic flavor. The fruit pulp resembles the closely related guava, having a gritty texture. The feijoa pulp is used in some natural cosmetic products as an exfoliant. 

My drawing (above) is the "topographic" version which has been lightened until the colours resemble those of the original drawing.  I prefer this version as the software enhances all the straight lines in a way that I am not able to do with my freehand drawing tools.  I just wanted everyone to know since, otherwise, it would seem so unusual for me to post a flower drawing without showing any other versions using my funny software!

______________________________________________

SILLY CARTOONS

Some of these may be familiar to you as I found them circulating on the Internet.  However, these particular ones were all new to me and all but one relate to me in a humorous way.  I hope you find a chuckle or two here.


At this point in my life, the working segment is smaller,
the sleeping segment is bigger and the "looking for things" section
is now, for me, at least half the pie!


Thankfully, the continual conflict about the seat up or down is no
longer a part of my life.  I do have a comment, however.  If I
was this guy, the instant I discovered the answer to my question,
I would just grab my coat and get out of that house as quickly as possible!


The doctor's response in this cartoon is very depressing.
I had already convinced myself that I was getting lots of exercise,
burning lots of calories, by raising my foot rest up and down while
watching TV!


This cartoon is one of my favourites.  I mean, how would you have the
heart to send back lasagna and garlic bread which had been brought to
you by "mistake".  I mean, it would be unkind to the waiter and to the chef.
Besides that, you wouldn't want anyone to get into trouble!


And, finally, we have here a pillow that contains a motto which
expresses, succinctly, a very strongly held belief of mine.  Not only does
Chocolate (dark) provide a person with a balanced diet, it also gives you
a balanced personality leading to improved memory (see cartoon #1)


__________________________________________________

SUKI AND SALLIE

As I started to put my camera
away after taking some photos
of friends, I thought "why not
take a new photo of Suki?"  I
called her name as I rounded the
corner and found Suki waiting
for me with a big smile on her face
(see photo above; imagine smile)!
The most amazing thing has occurred -- ever since I carefully balanced that coat hanger on the bath bench (see previous posting), Suki has made no attempt to remove the shower drain cover!  What is happening?  Just how clever is this cat?

There is a new behaviour to report, however.  Now, whenever anyone knocks on my front door or people get too noisy in the hallway, Suki gets up from her sleep, growls, really growls ominously, and goes to investigate.

Then, if she decides the situation is just too much for her to handle, she quickly pulls open one of the sliding doors to either the hallway or the bedroom closet and disappears for an hour or two! 

This behaviour can also occur if and when I open my balcony door to let in a bit of "fresh" air.  The sudden sound of outdoor noises invading her space seems to leave Suki quite perturbed.  At this point she either growls and heads for the closet or just heads directly for the closet with no stop for growling!

I am not sure what is going on here.  The problem may be that my apartment is amazingly quiet so long as the doors and windows are closed so the sudden increase in noise levels may simply be frightening.  Thank goodness I have central a/c or else the poor cat would spend her entire spring and summer hiding in the closet as the windows and doors would have to be open!

As for me, I am doing well considering all the things that are wrong with me!  Actually, today I am doing exceedingly well with my thoughts full of gratitude to our wonderful Lord and St. Joseph.  Let me explain.

I rarely try to go out for any length of time these days since I never know when these extreme tired spells are going to strike.  Today, however, I really needed to mail the Easter cards to my foster children, mail my tax stuff to the accountant and also drop off some material at the Cathedral parish office.  Since the office is not accessible to wheelchairs, I had arranged with the Pastoral Assistant that I would call her when I got to the front door and she would come out and take the parcel from me and then pass it along to the Cardinal.  All worked as planned and as we chatted for a few minutes, enjoying this marvellous weather we are having, she suddenly asked me if I would like to receive Holy Communion. 

What a wonderful question. You can imagine how quickly I said "yes".  She said she realized how much I missed coming to Mass due to my health and so she would see if Father was available.  He was.  They arranged that he would bring Our Lord to me sitting out under the trees in front of the Church office.  It was a very special moment and I really felt almost overwhelmed by the knowledge of how much God loves me plus the feeling that St. Joseph may have played a part in this gift since I received it on his feast day.  Even though I was in my wheelchair, it felt almost as though I was floating on air all the way home.

 So let me end today's posting with this icon of St. Joseph and the prayer
St. Joseph,
Feast Day March 19th
icon by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010
that so many Catholic children learned by heart during the years the sisters were teaching in Catholic schools:  St. Joseph's Memorare.

Remember, O most chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any who implored your help and sought your intercession were left unassisted. Full of confidence in your power, I fly unto you, and beg your protection. Despise not, O foster-father of the Redeemer, my humble supplication but in your bounty hear and answer me. Amen.

May the peace of God be with us all.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Naomh Padraig (St. Patrick)


Icon, St. Patrick of Ireland, by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all.  I realize that my wishes come 2 days early, but in order to keep to my regular posting schedule, it was either going to be two days early or two days late.  So, I decided early was better!

I had also decided some time ago that this year I wanted to do an icon of dear St. Patrick.  Not only do I have a real fondness for this patron of Ireland, but Patrick is also the name of one of the most important men in my life -- my godson, Patrick. After working on it for some time, I finally finished it at the beginning of this week.

Many people know the basic story of St. Patrick.  Tradition holds that St. Patrick was born on the coast of England, kidnapped in his youth and sold as a slave in Ireland. After escaping to his homeland, Patrick joined the priesthood. Eventually, Pope St. Celestine I commissioned his return to Ireland as a missionary. While not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, Patrick converted many warrior chieftains, baptizing them and their subjects.

As for the story of St. Patrick and the snakes -- that he banished all the snakes from Ireland because they were an object of pagan worship -- it is not true.  According to the Keeper of Natural History at the National Museum of Ireland (Dublin), there were never any snakes in post-glacial Ireland to begin with!  This is a gives me great happiness as I am very fond of such creatures (as many of you know) and would hate to think of all those Irish snakes wandering through the oceans, forever homeless all because of one of my favourite saints!

One of the other things that St. Patrick is known for is called "St. Patrick's Breastplate".  This prayer is called "St. Patrick's Breastplate" because of those parts of it that seek God's protection. It is also known as "The Deer's Cry" or "The Lorica". it begins "I bind unto myself today the strong Name of the Trinity, by invocation of the same, the Three in One and One in Three." If you want to read the complete text of this lengthy, but beautiful, prayer, please go to the following: http://prayerfoundation.org/st_patricks_breastplate_prayer.htm


Shamrock (seamrog)
 It is said that St. Patrick converted the first of the pagan Irish by explaining the Trinity using the lowly Shamrock.  The shamrock is a three-leafed old white clover. It is known as a symbol of Ireland. The name shamrock is derived from Irish seamróg, which is the diminutive version of the Irish word for clover (seamair).

And, so, St. Patrick, please pray for us, especially on your feast day, March 17th, the day when people all over the world claim to be Irish!  Slainte! 
__________________________________________

TRIVIA

Things you may not have known!  (If you know all of this already, just pretend you don't so that I can continue to feel very pleased with myself)


CANADA
Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined. Canada is an Indian word meaning  "Big Village".


ANTARCTICA
Antarctica is the only land on our planet That is not owned by any country.
Ninety percent of the world's ice covers Antarctica.  This ice also represents seventy percent of all the fresh water in the world.  As strange as it sounds, however, Antarctica is essentially a desert; The average yearly total precipitation is about two inches.  Although covered with ice (all but 0.4% of it, ice.), Antarctica is the driest place on the planet with an absolute humidity lower than the Gobi desert.

AMAZON RIVER
The Amazon rain forest produces more than 20% Of the world's oxygen supply.
The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that, more than one hundred miles at sea off the mouth of the river, one can dip fresh water out of the ocean. The volume of water in the Amazon river is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States .


SIBERIA
Siberia contains more than 25% of the world's forests.

SAHARA
In the Sahara Desert , there is a town named Tidikelt, Algeria, that did not receive a drop of rain for ten years.  Technically, though, the driest place on Earth is in the valleys of the Antarctic near Ross Island.  There has been no rainfall there for two million years.

___________________________________________

SUKI AND SALLIE


I had to use a drawing as she wouldn't
sit still wearing that hat and have her
picture taken!

Well, here is your St. Patrick's Day greeting from Suki.  What I had really wanted to do was to put a little green hat on her and take a photo, but as I noted under the drawing, Suki refused to co-operate!

She has actually been a fairly well-behaved cat this week although she did go after the shower drain cover a couple of times!  I am ashamed to confess that I have gone so far as to booby trap the shower bench I have been using in a futile effort to keep her from removing the drain cover.  I have gone so far as to balance a big coat hanger on the shower bench that has one leg resting on the drain cover!  Suki hasn't attempted to remove the cover since I made this arrangement; however, the next time she sneaks into the shower to delight in this forbidden activity, I expect there to be quite a commotion.  Moving the bath bench even a little should cause the coat hanger to fall which will, hopefully, frighten dear Suki so much that she will never try to remove the cover ever again.  See what desperate behaviours a cat caregiver can be driven to!  It is really rather pathetic...

I, on the other hand, have been almost out-sleeping my cat.  I seem to get tired very easily these days so the best remedy is just to rest whenever necessary -- and resting often leads to a nap.  It would be wonderful if whatever treatments are ahead of me could help me to get some of my energy back!  However, it appears that first of all they are going to be robbing me of any energy I have.  Let me explain...

In yesterday's mail I received a fat envelope from the cardiology department at St. Mike's Hospital.  It contained three sheets of paper:  one told me that I have an appointment next week for another heart stress test; the 2nd sheet told me that the week after that I will have to wear a Holter monitor for 48 hours; finally the third sheet tells me that the week after that I finally have an appointment with the cardiologist!  By then, if I am still alive, I may be given a definite diagnosis with a suggested program of corrective action! 

Two things I disliked so much that I said I would never do again are the stress test and wearing a Holter monitor -- I should know by now to never say never when it comes to medical care!  Well, hopefully, all this activity will lead to a good result.  Anyway, I don't have the first appointment until a week from tomorrow so I will deal with it when the time comes.  Today, I plan to go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather -- a lovely gift from God.

And here is your Irish Blessing from me to all of you:
May the love and protection
St. Patrick can give
Be yours in abundance
as long as you live.

Go mbeannai Dia duit (May God Bless You).

Sunday, 11 March 2012

White Bat Plant aka Belimbing Tanah




Tacca integrifolia, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
  Tacca integrifolia aka Belimbing Tanah and more commonly known as the White Bat Plant - is one of the world’s most unusual flowering plants!

A native of Malaysia and belonging to the Dioscoreaceae plant family, it has a highly unusual flower arrangement that is held about 3ft high, but amazingly, the thick purple whiskers that emanate from within the flower are so long that they can sometimes reach the ground! At the top there are two, spectacular “petals” (bracts) -- usually white and purple stripes - each one about 8 inches wide! The true flowers are located at the bottom centre of the inflorescence and are reminiscent of thick, purple buttons!

The inspiration for this intriguing flower's name is the winged creature of the night. The flower resembles a bat: Two white bracts arch upward while dark-purple, whisker-like veins dangle downward from amethyst blossoms. It has been used for treatment of gastric ulcer, enteritis, hepatitis, controlling blood pressure and improving sexual function.

Of course, I couldn't resist playing with this drawing as it was so interesting to begin with and has so many different colours and shapes.  The image just below is the result of the "hue correction" software and gives, I think, a delightful looking plant with blue leaves!


Tacca integrifolia (hue correction), drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

This next image is the result of using the colour inversion software.  I am not at all sure how the computer figures out which colours are the "inversion" of another, but, once again, I ended up with an image that I find quite pleasing.

Tacca integrifolia (colour inversion), drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Of these three variations, I think my favourite is the image I get when using the "hue correction" software -- it has such a soft, lovely appearance and the blue leaves really fascinate me.  I would be delighted to hear which one of them tree you prefer.

Finally, I have a photo of an actual plant so you can clearly see the great, white wings that in the shady forest, where the plant prefers to grow, would truly look like a great, white bat flying towards you.  That could be rather scary, I think.

Tacca integrifolia (photo showing "white bat wings")


________________________________________________

CHURCH SIGNS

I came across some new church signs this week -- at least new to me.  Hopefully there will be a a few of them which you haven't seen previously.  As we all know, so many items circulate so constantly on the Internet that eventually everything old is new again -- especially as you get older!  Enjoy.


Hoping that your spelling skills are sufficient
to see the humour here! 

This reminder should help to keep us humble!

Personally, I need all the help I can get!

And the best part is that it is free -- although
I am not saying that it isn't costly!

I have a dear friend who, while visiting a friend in the psych
ward of a local hospital, was approached by a
patient who told her in a very positive manner
"I know you, you're the Good Shepherd"

____________________________________

SUKI AND SALLIE

Well, the battle continues between Suki and myself over the shower drain cover!  Can you believe it?!  Now I think she is doing it simply to annoy me!  Could that be possible?

Photo shown to Suki while
advising her that it will be
posted next to the shower
with a warning sign reading:
THIS IS WHAT WILL
HAPPEN TO YOU
NEXT TIME, KIDDO!
I have shown her this photo and its accompanying warning and threatened to dump her in a bucket full of sudsy water if she goes after the shower drain cover again.  You know what she did?... she yawned... twice... and then closed her eyes and went back to sleep!

Now, of course, I have a serious problem:  if she goes after the shower drain cover again, I really should do what I have threatened to do -- but how could I actually be so mean?!!  I think she probably knows me pretty well by now and will, no doubt, just call my bluff.  Oh my, perhaps I should call Dr. Ray (he is a psychologist on EWTN with 11 [I think] adopted children) for advice on disciplining a clever cat!

Oh well, at the moment I don't have to worry as Suki is in her crow's nest bed, sound asleep -- or at least she appears to be asleep -- maybe she can read my thoughts and knows exactly what I am saying about her!  Uh,oh, do you think I am sounding just a bit paranoid?  See what giving a home to a homeless cat can do to you!!

As for myself, other than sounding a bit paranoid about my crazy cat, I am doing pretty well.

No appointment yet with the cardiologist, but it has only been a few days since the request was submitted.  I am feeling reasonably well and still taking lots of naps to prevent falling.  I seem to have gotten much more skilled in noticing when I begin to feel at risk for falling and then taking action quickly -- like getting myself into bed and resting or sleeping until I feel stronger again.

My godson, Patrick,  and his wife, Vivian, came for a visit yesterday.  It was so good to see them and to see what a big "baby belly" she has.  Vivian is just about ready to enter her third trimester and she looks beautiful.  I can barely stand the thought of having to wait until June to actually meet this little guy but that's the way life goes.  Everything in its proper time.

___________________________
Interestingly, I am back at the keyboard after about an hour's break because I needed to stop what I was doing and have a rest as I was feeling a bit at risk for falling.  Even though I was sitting at the computer and most people would think you were pretty safe from falling while seated in a chair, I have discovered, sadly, that falling out of a chair can be as painful as falling while standing!  Anyway, I am back at the keyboard, alert and awake, and able to finish off my posting for today.

May the love, joy and peace of God be with us all -- and may we, in all things, give thanks.