Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Medinilla magnifica

Medinilla magnifica, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 On the weekend, I only had a couple of things I needed to get at the grocery store and so on the way out, I stopped at the florist section to enjoy looking at the beautiful plants.

First I looked at the purple Calla Lilies they had just gotten in -- oh, so pretty.  Next I spent some time looking at all the different Orchids that had come in recently.  Then, just as I was about to leave, I turned toward an area where I had not looked and saw, sitting proudly on the shelf, a huge pink plant of a type that I had never seen before!  Of course I had to take a closer look.

I knew right away that this was a plant I wanted to draw and so you now see my rendition of it above.  It is a plant called Medinilla magnifica.  (I felt the word "magnifica" was a good omen since this is my last posting in the Month of Mary and she is certainly God's magnificent creation!).  I spied a brochure attached to one of the leaves and was able to get both the correct name and the web site for the plant (imagine a plant with its own web site!) http://www.medinilla.ca/

Some of the advertising photos for Medinilla magnifica
After I got home, I checked out the web site right away and this is what I found out. 

There are approximately 400 species of Medinilla, of which until now only the magnifica is supplied as a houseplant. Medinilla is a genus of flowering plants in the family MelastomataceaeMedinilla magnifica finds its home these days in the mountains of the Philippines. It is an epiphyte, which is a plant that grows on other trees but does not withdraw its food from those trees as parasites do. This type of magnifica is the only Medinilla with splendid pink leaves and such a large flowers. These drooping clusters of rosy pink flowers, give it a common name of Rose Grape.  M. magnifica is native to tropical regions of the Old World from Africa (two species) east through Madagascar (about 70 species) and southern Asia to the western Pacific Ocean islands. The genus was named after J. de Medinilla, governor of the Mariana Islands in 1820. This plant can reach almost 2 meters (6 feet) tall and is considered by horticulturalists to be a "shrub".

A careful reading of the botanical literature seemed to me to make an effort to discourage individuals from trying to keep this plant in their homes as it normally requires hot house conditions in order to survive plus it can take up a lot of space when in full bloom! There is lots more info but I will leave you to do your own research should you desire to.

Of course, I couldn't resist playing with the image a bit.  Here is the result when the "colour inversion" option was used.  I actually really like the way this one looks.  I think it might make a very attractive birthday card for someone!


Medinilla magnifica using colour inversion software, drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
By the way, for those of you who do not know, I am very fond of elephants.  Not fond enough to keep one for a house pet, but very fond nevertheless!

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ELEPHANTS

Speaking of elephants, I was thinking that maybe there are a few photos in my collection that I haven't show you yet.  If you have already seen them, just force yourself to enjoy their cuteness all over again!

[LIFE IS HARD]
"I love you, Mommy" 
"I love you too and no, you still can't have your own Smart phone"

Best Friends Forever (BFF)

"Aw, come on Mommy, let's play some more... please...PLEASE"

C-A-R-E-F-U-L...  don't slide into the water hole! 

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SUKI AND SALLIE


Photo of Suki altered to look like a
pencil sketch (more or less)
  Well, what to tell you about Suki...  She is suffering greatly at the present time ever since I decided that she was getting fed her favourite food too often.  I suddenly realized one day that she had somehow gotten me to the place where I was feeding her 3 small cans of cat food per day!  Everyone knows that 2 a day are sufficient (except Suki) plus a bit of her expensive dry food (which she only eats when she is desperate). 

As you all know, she is a very clever cat and knows how to come after me when I am at my weakest and most vulnerable -- in order words, when I am trying to sleep!  Have you any idea what it feels like to be awakened by a scratchy cat tongue licking your face!  Then when she is pushed away, she waits until I am almost asleep again before returning to the face washing.  After a while, I begin to get desperate and willing to do anything to get her to stop.  Somehow she senses when I have reached this point for before I even make a move, Suki stops the face washing and begins to purr and rub her head against my chin.  This final act, seemingly so sweet and loving, weakens me to the point of surrender and I get up and open another can of cat food.  And I swear that in the dim light of the hallway, it really looks like Suki is smiling!

I, on the other hand, am also smiling because I am holding out more than Suki realizes and I am getting closer and closer to my goal of 2 cans of cat food per day!

As for Sallie, I am doing well in spite of the lack of sleep!

Actually, something quite amazing has happened over the past three days.  On Monday morning I received an email from a European priest working in China.  Due to the way these matters are arranged in China, he is actually not working in a church, but in a profession for, as he puts it "direct evangelization work is not possible."  However, he seems to be very involved with a church as he is helping in the design work of a new one.  Evidently, those building the church desire to have the Stations of the Cross in the form of icons.  These, as I understand it, will be on a screen behind the altar.  I cannot quite visualize how you would have the Stations all placed at the front of the church rather than around the walls; however, I think it quite possible that I do not really understand the design!  Whatever the case may be, he, the priest, thinks that my icons of the Stations of the Cross will be just what those involved in the project will want! 

So, I am having to take each one of these drawings, save them at 600 dpi and then send them, a few at a time, in an email.  I am going to paste 4 thumbnail size reproductions of these icons at the bottom of this section so that you can be reminded of how they were drawn.  As you may recall, I had no other icons to use as models or patterns since the Orthodox do not normally make use of the Stations -- this is a Roman Catholic tradition.  Whatever the case, I hope that those people in China find them satisfactory and helpful to prayer -- that is all I really ask.  If this is something that will give glory to God, then He can make it beautiful.  I leave it in His hands.


Jesus is Condemned

Jesus takes up the cross

Jesus falls the 1st time

Jesus meets His Mother

And so I pray, as always, that the peace and joy of God will fill our hearts and minds in the days ahead.  Amen.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Virgin of the Open Hands

Icon, "Virgin of the Open Hands" written by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
This recent icon of Our Lady will be the last image of her that I will feature during this month of May, the month dedicated by the Church to the Blessed Mother.  I will be posting again on the 30th, but that will be a non-icon posting, probably more flowers.

This icon, showing Our Lady receptive and waiting, is a good image in preparation for tomorrow's great feast:  Pentecost -- the birthday of the Church.  As we know, Christ came to establish a Church, His Body, on earth so that there would never again be any confusion as to what He expected of His followers.  Of course, all we have to do is look around us to see how confused the world remains!  The Church, however, is like a still point in the midst of chaos where we find the Truth, the person of Jesus Christ, which Truth never changes. 

So, let us prepare to celebrate Pentecost tomorrow by attending Church and wishing each other Happy Birthday!  (As anyone who knows me well is aware, I am really keen on birthdays and never miss an opportunity to celebrate or acknowledge birthdays of family and friends and my own birthday, of course!).  For each one of us is member of the Body of Christ, the Church, so it is our birthday too.

Here is an icon from 3 or 4 years ago depicting the third mystery of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary:  the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Blessed Mother and the Apostles.

Icon, "Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer
If you look closely, you will notice that there is a flame above the head of every one there except Our Blessed Mother.  This is true in a great many of the icons which use this pattern to depict Pentecost.  Why is this?

Well, Our Lady is known as the "spouse of the Holy Spirit" and was overshadowed by the Spirit at the Annunciation.  In other words, one could assume that she has been filled with the Holy Spirit all along while the apostles are just receiving that fullness for the first time -- as Jesus promised them they would.

And, so, dear friends, I wish each and everyone of you a fresh in-filling of the Holy Spirit, a happy birthday as you celebrate the Birthday of the Church and the joy and peace that God, the Holy Spirit, alone can give.

Remember, if you take that open-handed stance of Our Lady, shown in the icon at the beginning of this posting, you will be amazed at how much love Our Lord is able to pour into your heart on this special feast day. 
Happy Pentecost everyone!

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MORE CATS AND DOGS AND SUCH!

Best Friends Forever (BFF)




"Babysitting is not as easy as it looks!"



"Sitting like this was OK when she was a kitten, but now... it's like an instant headache!"




Poor Lassie.  He just happened to pass by the new born ducks when their mother was not there!  Now they are going to think he is their mother forever!  Poor doggie...

(perfect example of imprinting)

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SUKI AND SALLIE


Brenda took this photo back on the 18th of May,
2012.  Here is Suki in her favourite awake place!
 Brenda took this photo of Suki while she was here last week.  As you can see, Suki is sitting in her favourite place.  She is carefully peering through the slats in the blinds as she sits.  Eventually, she will stretch out on the top of this file box and continue to watch the birds coming and going.  Finally, she will get tired and will then simply climb up onto the window ledge, walk the length of it and step daintily into her "crows-nest" bed where she curls into the shape of a ball and goes to sleep.  At least this is how things are supposed to work, and normally do, unless we have company!  Then, poor Suki, has to constantly be leaving her post at the window or her bed to go and investigate each and every unusual noise.  As you can imagine, this is a very difficult task!

At the moment, however, this is not a concern as we do not have any visitors this weekend.  Thus, Suki is able to follow her routine quite contentedly.  At the moment she is sound asleep and will continue to sleep until her inward alarm tells her it is noon and time for lunch. 

The only visitor we had stop by this past week was my friend, Eugene.  Suki seems to have accepted him, finally, and now allows him to scratch her chin.  There is nothing she likes better than having someone scratch her "chin bone".  Next she likes to rub the cheekbones, hard, against your fingers.  This is, of course, one of the ways a cat has of scent marking their property and territory.

Just as I was writing the above, some birds noisily flew past the window and thus Suki is up and investigating.  It seems that a cat's jobs, like a woman's, are never done!

Speaking of women, let me report on how I am doing.  Other than falling asleep for an instant here and an instant there all day long, I am doing fine! 

Actually, so long as I stay seated whenever I feel at risk of an "episode", I am safe.  Once this past week when I was feeling that "hypnotic" feeling that precedes a quick sleep episode, I thought to myself:  "I will be OK... I don't need to sit down."  Well, if I had not been standing next to the counter between the kitchen and the living room, I would have had another bad fall.  Thanks be to God that I "woke up" just as I was falling and was able to grab the counter top and keep myself upright (more or less).  I guess after not falling for almost four months now, I was beginning to get just a bit cocky. Now I will go back to being careful again. 

St. John of God continues to be a real presence in my life and prayers.  This week I received a parcel from Brother Finnian containing some lovely medals of St. John of God along with a card for my friend presently going through chemo.  I still haven't had anymore news about the possibility of a banner being made from one of my drawings of St. John of God, but Brother indicates that I should be hearing something about this before too much longer.
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We have been having wonderful summer weather here and everyone, it seems, has been outside enjoying it.  I am seriously thinking about getting myself organized and outside for a while so that I can enjoy the sunshine and warm breezes as the rain is supposed to return tomorrow.  We need the rain as there are already out-of-control wild fires up north in Ontario.

Fire -- that symbol of the Holy Spirit and of Pentecost -- when out of control is so deadly and destructive.  Yet, when under proper control, fire brings us so many blessings

"Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of Your love."


May the peace of God be with us all.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Magnolia grandiflora

Magnolia grandiflora, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Magnolia flower petals are so clean and pure looking.  The powerful, lemony fragrance of each flower is so sweet.  I decided that Magnolia blossoms would be a good flower to post during the month of May, Mary's month.  For is she not truly pure and full of sweetness.
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I have shown you drawings of Magnolia blossoms previously.  Magnolia grandiflora is especially dear to me as these are the ones that grow in the deep south on those huge Magnolia trees.  The trees you often see on a southern university campus or in front of some grand, old plantation house.

Southern Magnolia Tree
How many summer evening do I recall the sweet smell of Magnolia on the breeze.  I remember also one of the first homemade corsages I had was made of magnolia blossoms.  It smelled great, but wilted early, turning brown before the evening was over.  Its early demise caused mainly by teen boys trying to dance too close before the days of air conditioning!  Ah, the memories.  Nonetheless, I did wrap the remains in cellophane and press the corsage between the pages of my scrapbook with my favourite boyfriend's name written in code underneath (just in case my mother went snooping!). 

Yes, Magnolias have many associations for me -- along with the memory of how overwhelming the smell can be if the tree is in full bloom:  hot weather combined with overpowering sweetness can leave a person feeling a bit put off of Magnolias occasionally!  In memory, however, I can leave any unpleasantness behind and just remember the good stuff.

As for the flowers themselves, they are symbolic of the American South. Magnolia grandiflora is the state tree of Mississippi and the state flower of Mississippi and Louisiana. The flower was also used as an emblem of the Confederate army in the US civil war. Magnolia grandiflora, commonly known as the southern magnolia or bull bay, is a tree of the family Magnoliaceae native to the southeastern United States, from Virginia south to central Florida, and west to eastern Texas and Oklahoma. Reaching 27.5 m (90 ft) in height, it is a large striking evergreen tree with large dark green leaves and large white fragrant flowers. Widely cultivated around the world, over a hundred cultivars have been bred and marketed commercially. The timber is hard and heavy, and has been used commercially to make furniture, pallets, and veneer.


Magnolia grandiflora (solarization), drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 Here is a manipulated version of my drawing in which I used the "solarization software" to change the colours significantly.  I find this variation very beautiful.

 Now for something additional about Magnolia grandifloria.  When you look closely at the centre of each blossom, you see the follicetum as shown in the photograph just below.
Photograph of centre of Magnolia grandiflora showing the follicetum clearly

I find this part of the flower so beautiful that I decided to try drawing it. 

Magnolia grandiflora follicetum, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 Let me tell you a bit more about Magnolia grandiflora that is revealed to us by this follicetum.

People who study the evolution of flowering plants say that magnolia flowers are similar to some of the very first flowers. They're not the most primitive surviving flower type (waterlilies are often thought to be more primitive), but they're very, very primitive.

Magnolia grandiflora
follicetum photo

Among the magnolia blossom's primitive features are the facts that, in contrast to our standard blossom,  they bear many stamens and many pistils. The stamens are arranged in spiraling rows, and both stamens and pistils are attached to a finger-like receptacle. To understand why these features are considered primitive, you need to know a lot of technical stuff we can't go into here.  However, one easy thing to understand is that some of the oldest fossil flowers discovered are similar to magnolia blossoms.

Magnolia grandiflora follicetum (Inversion), drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 Of course, I couldn't resist experimenting with this rather abstract design.  By using the colour inversion software, I was able to get the follicetum in this beautiful royal blue shade with all the variations on the colour blue.


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MOONGLOW
Here are a few photos that I came across recently.  The first two remind me of the supermoon we had with us recently.  The final photo is of a beautiful lighthouse.  I hope you enjoy them.


Moonglow 1

Moonglow 2

Moonglow and Lighthouse

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SUKI AND SALLIE

Well, our guests have come and gone.  It took me about a day to recover from 
Don't bother me -- can't you see I'm sleeping here?
 their visit, but Suki is another story entirely!  She is still catching up on her missed sleep.

As I had predicted, there were just so many things to sniff.  First there were all the items my guests took out of their suitcases and left lying about the apartment.  Then there were the shoes -- Suki has always had a thing about sniffing shoes!!  Plus the inflatable bed was a night's sniffing work all in itself.  Then on top of all this there were the noises.  Both my friends snore (I probably do as well, but just don't know it) and with each new and different snore from the other room, Suki had to get out of her bed and hurry in to the other room and investigate.  This kept her from getting her usual 16 hours sleep a day -- I would be surprised if she managed to get even four hours.

We would go out for our main meal of the day and while we were out, you would think that Suki would take advantage of the opportunity to sleep.  But, no, she apparently spent the time sniffing all the things on the counter tops where I normally do not allow her to climb.  By the time they left on Saturday, Suki was barely able to keep her eyes open.  As soon as she was certain that it was just the two of us again, she crashed and slept non-stop for about 12 hours straight -- no food, no bathroom breaks, nothing -- just deep sleep.

Monday she seemed a bit more like her old self and is now back to getting up whenever she hears me making noises in the kitchen.  I would assume that is indicative of her feeling a bit more rested and refreshed.  Poor Suki.  My friends thoroughly enjoyed her behaviour and said that they were surprised at what an active cat she is!  Right -- they should have seen her after they left.

As for me, I, too, was very tired by the time they left -- I enjoyed their visit thoroughly, but did push myself that extra bit while they were here.  So, I joined Suki and took a number of naps in the 24 hours following, but felt fine again the next day.

We really did have a good visit and since there will be more business to attend to in Buffalo in about six weeks, it is quite possible that they will be visiting again soon.  They left the inflatable bed with me so that it will be here for the next visit. 

I had never seen one of those beds before and found it fascinating.  There are two problems with them that I could see:  first, they are so close to the floor that if I got down there, I would need a couple of strong men (or women) to pull me up; secondly, they give off such a funny noise each time the person sleeping in them moves even just a little bit.  Fortunately, the one friend who was sleeping on the bed was a sound sleeper and was not troubled by the noise they made each time they moved in their sleep (Suki was troubled, but they weren't!!).  Brenda slept on the sofa as usual and I was in my regular sleeping chair.  My apartment was certainly full, but we managed and even had some laughs about crawling over each other in the process of getting things done.

Otherwise, I am doing well.  There are no new medical issues for me to deal with, thanks be to God.  Nor do I have any medical appointments this week.  The one exciting thing I am looking forward to is having a visit from a dear friend who lives in Virginia and will be up here visiting her family.  We have plans for a long lunch on Wednesday so that we can catch up on all the news.

Today, May 22, is the feast of St. Rita of Cascia whose image I posted on March 31. 

Icon, St. Rita,
by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

I ask that St. Rita will pray for us.  She, along with St. Jude, is the patron of impossible causes so let us expect great things from her intercession on our behalf!

Finally, I ask that the peace of the Lord be with us all and may Our Mother of Perpetual Help hold us tightly by the hand as she leads us to her Son, Jesus. Amen.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Fiat, Dominus

Icon, Our Lady of the Fiat, by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, May, 2012

Continuing with icons of Our Lady during this month dedicated to her by the Church, I want to show you this icon which is all about our Blessed Mother's "yes" to God, her Fiat

As most of my readers know, the Latin word, "fiat", means "so be it", "be it done" or "let it be done".  The full English translation is usually something like "Let it be done to me according to your word."  So, the title at the top of this posting simply reads "So be it, Lord".  We frequently hear people talk about Blessed Mary's "yes" to God and this is usually what they are referring to.

For those of us who love praying the Rosary, we know that this is the very first "mystery" of the 20 mysteries given for meditation -- the Annunciation.  The dialog between the young Mary of Nazareth and the Archangel Gabriel is one of the most important conversations in the history of the mankind and Mary's yes, her fiat, sets in motion the final chapter in the story of our salvation -- the "chapter" in which we are still living.  And we should never forget, Mary could have said "no"!

In my book entitled, "Rosary Icons (Praying with the Saints Series)" published in 2009, I wrote the following when discussing the first Joyful Mystery:
Icon by Sarah Thayer

Whenever I am confronted by anything that I would rather not have to deal with, I try to remember to say the same words that Mary said to the angel. I try to say "yes" to whatever God wants to give me whether it is difficult or easy. I find great peace in doing this and in trusting God to accomplish good things when I say "let it be done unto me according to your word."



So, as we continue in this Month of Mary, let us ask Our Lady to pray that we, too, will be able to say "yes" to whatever the Lord asks of us in the days ahead.
"Fiat, Dominus."

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CATS AND DOGS


Like most people who receive email, I have so many cute photos of cats and dogs.  Sadly, there are just too many to share and most of you have probably seen the majority of them anyway.  I continue to hold onto them anyway.  Every time I try to delete a bunch of them, I stop and look at each one and usually end up deciding that it is just too cute to discard!  At any rate, here are a few I have recently enjoyed -- with my own captions.

                                               THE BABYSITTER

Introductions

Bath Time

Bedtime!

"I don't want to go to bed yet; anyway, I'm too old to need a babysitter!"
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"See, Miss Dawg, I'll soon be as tall as you are!"

"OK, OK, I give up.  Now get off of me!"


WHAT MAKES DOGS THINK THAT SITTING ON ANOTHER DOG OR A CAT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO?

Example 1 -- Puppy on Puppy

Example 2 -- Dog on Dog


Example 3 -- Dog on Cat
 If there is anyone out there who knows the answer to the question of why dogs believe that sitting on their opponent is a problem solver, please let us all know!  Such information is too important to keep to yourself.

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SUKI AND SALLIE


 Well, the world came close to losing Suki this
Who are these people?
What is all this stuff?
 morning!  She managed to get right under my feet without me noticing that she was there.  I stepped back suddenly, right on her tail.  She screeched.  I, very startled, tried to quickly move from where I was standing almost falling in the process.  Had I fallen, I would have landed on Suki and that would have been the end of her -- and maybe even the end of me!  Fortunately, we both recovered from our ordeal and I was able to convince Suki that in spite of the pain, she would live!

Actually, I had been thinking about how to give Suki an easy morning and early afternoon so that she will be better prepared for what awaits her later today... when my friends arrive for a two-day visit.  I  don't think that stepping on her tail was a good way to begin the preparation!

You see, what I am concerned about is how exhausted Suki will be by the time my friends leave.  You may recall my telling you how tired Suki got when Brenda was here recently because she had to sniff every item Brenda had brought with her.  Well, this time will be even worse since there are two people instead of one plus they are bringing an inflatable, single bed with them which is a huge area that Suki will have to carefully sniff as well.  I will try to make things as easy for her as I can, feeding her whenever she is willing to settle down enough to eat and not shutting any doors except when absolutely necessary.  However, I think we will be seeing a very bedraggled cat by the time the weekend is over!

As for me, I am really looking forward to the arrival of my friends.

I am trying my best to not let myself worry about things like: where and what will we eat, do I have enough towels, have I forgotten to get anything we are likely to need, do I have enough towels, will my restless nights disturb them too much, do I have enough towels, etc.  As you can see from my list above, I can be a real worrier -- especially if I get stuck on one worry.  So, when I start this nonsense, I try to stop myself and just remember that ultimately God is in charge and He will see to it that we have what we need or the means to acquire it if we don't.  The most important thing is that three old friends will be spending time visiting and reminiscing. 

Meanwhile, I keep remembering the passage "let not your hearts be troubled..."  While I realize that this statement from the Gospel of St. John refers to things more sublime than whether I have enough towels on hand for my guests, I am comforted each time I stop and let myself hear the Lord speaking those six words in my heart.  So, instead of worrying, I plan to enjoy myself with two very dear friends -- trying not to waste any moments worrying about anything.

Otherwise, I continue to have my usual problems but no new ones -- something for which I am very grateful.  I haven't heard anything further from Br. Finnian in Ireland regarding the printing of my drawing of St. John of God so I hope that no news is good news.

I am starting to ramble so I had better finish this up.  I pray, as always, that God, in His merciful kindness, will grant each of us to find peace and joy in the midst of our busy lives.  That no matter how demanding life may be we will always hear Him saying:  "Let not your hearts be troubled..."

Addendum:  I have been working on an icon of the Crucifixion of Our Lord for some months now.  This icon differs, however, from the regular ones of this sorrowful scene in that the people in it are Japanese as is the writing on the cross.  Not knowing when I might get around to using it in a posting, I want to show it to you now.  As always, I would be very interested in your comments.

Icon, "The Crucifixion (Japanese)", by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Monday, 14 May 2012

Crown Imperial Lily (Frittilaria imperialis)

Frittilaria imperialis (Crown Imperial Lily)
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
I decided to present these drawings of the Crown Imperial Lily in this posting since they do form a crown and we are still in the month of the crowning of Our Lady.  Of course, I don't think this would really be a good choice for a crown as it is rather odoriferous and would drive the friends of Our Lady away instead of drawing them in!

The Crown Imperial Lily (Fritillaria imperialis) is a member of the genus Fritillaria, family Liliaceae.  It is native to a wide stretch from Anatolia across the plateau of Iran to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Himalayan foothills.

Fritillaria imperialis is probably the most surprising-looking spring flower you will ever run across. Each plant has a single, strong stalk, topped by large, hanging blossoms, which are crowned by a fringe of leaves. The fringe on top is said to resemble a crown; it is for this reason that the common name for Fritillaria imperialis is "Crown Imperial". Another impressive feature is that they can grow to be 5 feet (1.5 m) tall! They are very showy and they are also much appreciated for the fact that deer and rodents do not like to eat them. The bad news: they have an unpleasant odour. Thus their other name is “Stink Lily”.

Fritillaria are said to be plants which were growing near Christ's crucifixion leading them to hang their heads in sorrow which they still do today.


Frittilaria imperialis (Crown Imperial Lily)
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009
 This drawing is one I did back in 2009, I think.  At that time I really wasn't sure of the name of the plant.  I had seen a photo of the flowers, which I used as my model, but the name of the plant was not given.  So, I originally called this drawing:  "Funny Flowers".

Frittilaria imperialis (Crown Imperial Lily)
photograph
 Here is a photograph showing how the Crown Imperial Lily looks growing in a garden.  Gardeners say that it makes a great addition to the garden because the flowers are so showy, but they all advise that you plant it as far as possible from where people will be walking and sitting!

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BIRDWATCHING

Recently, a friend sent me an email which included about 20 photos of  various birds -- both common North American birds as well as some of the  more exotic species.  The theme of the grouping was to the effect that God is the great Master Artist as can be seen by any number of created things including, and especially, birds.
The birds shown reminded me of the beginnings of my "life list" that I made back in the days when I would go off on solitary hikes searching for beautiful birds to identify and enjoy.  With my binoculars, my field guide to birds and sticky notes and a pen, I would set off for a leisurely day of trying to spot new birds and trying to learn to identify bird songs.  Let me now introduce you to some of my favourites...

Red Wing Blackbird -- there was once a time when I did not even know what these colourful birds were called, but as I learned to identify them, I spent hours watching them display their colourful epaulets and giving their easily-recognizable territorial call

Cardinal (Male) -- the lakeside home where my oldest sister and her husband lived for so many years was densely populated with Cardinals.  I could sit out on their screened porch and watch their antics for hours -- the males posturing and pretending to fight with one another while the females, so plainly coloured, would get on with the business of eating and feeding their young.

Eastern Blue Jay -- they are one of the more curious birds and also tend to enjoy being around humans.  I guess I had been able to identify Blue Jays for most of my life, along with Robins, Cardinals (I grew up calling them Red Birds) and Mocking Birds (remember, I am from the southern U.S. originally).   

Cedar Waxwings -- these are my absolutely favourite birds.  Their markings are so colourful but neat and their rose-gray plumpness is so lovely to me -- I always want so much to hold them and pat that plumpness, but of course this is not possible!  When I see a berry tree full of these graceful birds in the early fall, the sight has always filled my heart with joy!

Common Kingfishers -- watching these colourful, swift birds diving for fish is an amazing sight.  As they fly in and out of the sunlight, you can observe the rich intensity of their colours.  Interestingly, this is one of the few species where the females is more elegantly coloured than the male. 
My "life list" (the list of birds the birdwatcher has actually seen and identified) had grown very long prior to the onset of my disabilities which ended my birdwatching hikes.  I still enjoy sitting outside and watching the birds, but even in the parks only the most common city birds are likely to be seen.  Occasionally, however, especially during the time of the spring migration, I will hear the beautiful song of the White-throated Sparrow coming from the trees in our courtyard.  The next day they are gone, headed for the deep forests of northern Ontario where they will spend the summer.  The song remains, however, even after they have flown away.
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SUKI AND SALLIE


Helping to sort the laundry
Today is the day I sort the laundry in preparation for the arrival of Joycelyn early tomorrow morning.  At that time, she will take my laundry quickly to the laundry room in an effort to beat the Tuesday morning rush for our very limited number of washers and dryers. 

This is one of Suki's favourite days as she loves to help me sort the laundry.  Not that she really does any sorting -- un-sorting is more like it.  But it is an enjoyable game for her and it makes me laugh a lot -- something I thoroughly enjoy.  Each time I throw a new item on one pile or the other, Suki has to attack that item.  Occasionally, she will get buried under some larger item and then I will have the pleasure of watching her antics as she tries to find her way out -- fighting with each section as she pulls it away.  Often I will poke her gently as I watch her moving about under the various items.  This usually leads to an explosion of activity as Suki tries to grab the "creature" that is "attacking" her.  When she finally emerges, the look on her face is priceless -- she is all ready to fight but there is no one to fight with -- just me standing there sorting through laundry!

As for me, I have a somewhat uncertain schedule ahead of me this week.  Two of my friends from Alabama are going to be in Ontario this week.  One of them has meetings in a couple of southern Ontario towns during the week so the plan is that when the meetings are finished, they will drive to my place and spend a couple of days.  The uncertainty is that I am unsure which days of the week these "days" will be!  I think they will probably be here on the weekend by the sound of things -- which would be nice as it is our long weekend for Victoria Day. 

So, at the moment I am trying to keep myself from getting anxious and just trust that God will work everything out for us if we just let Him.  I am, by nature, such a micro-manager and it is very difficult for me to be laid back and easygoing about things when every cell in me wants to get all the information I can and organize it according to how I think best.  But I know that this is "my way" and not God's way.  "Lord, help me to do it Your way, not mine".  At any rate, by the time I post again on Friday, I should know more of the details.

The most exciting thing in my life at the moment, however, is news from Brother Finnian in Ireland.  His community wants to use my drawing of St. John of God carrying a sick boy (the Christ child) to make a banner to be hung with the other banners at the upcoming International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland.  The only concern at this point is how obvious the pixels will be when my drawing is enlarged?  That will determine what happens next.  So I have told St. John of God that if he wants that drawing to be used then he had better pray that they can get a decent enlargement of it.  If there is too much distortion, of course, they won't be able to use it.  So please pray with me and St. John of God for a good outcome.

Well, it is early still and I have a number of errands to do so I will leave Suki here to sleep and off I will go to get my tasks completed while I still have this "morning energy".  Then I will come home and sort the laundry!

As always, I pray that the peace of God will be with us each and everyone -- today and in the days ahead