Wednesday, 30 January 2013

St. John the Beloved Disciple


Icon "St. John the Apostle" by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013


St. John, the son of Zebedee, and the brother of St. James the Great, was called to be an Apostle by our Lord in the first year of His public ministry. He became the "beloved disciple" and the only one of the Twelve who did not forsake the Savior in the hour of His Passion. He stood faithfully at the cross when the Savior made him the guardian of His Mother.  His later life was passed chiefly in Jerusalem and at Ephesus.  He founded many churches in Asia Minor. He wrote the fourth Gospel, and three Epistles, and the Book of Revelation is also attributed to him. Brought to Rome, tradition relates that he was by order of Emperor Dometian cast into a cauldron of boiling oil but came forth unhurt and was banished to the island of Patmos for a year. He lived to an extreme old age, surviving all his fellow apostles, and died at Ephesus about the year 100.

In art, John as the presumed author of the Gospel is often depicted with an eagle, which symbolizes the height he rose to in the first chapter of his gospel. In Orthodox icons, he is often depicted looking up into heaven and dictating his Gospel (or the Book of Revelation) to his disciple.  [Taken largely from Catholic Online and Wikipedia]


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BRADEN UPDATE

Braden is being baptized this Sunday the 3rd of February.  I am looking forward to showing you photographs of the even, especially photos of how handsome Braden looks in his white suit!  So adorable.
Keep watching and you will be seeing these new photos soon!


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COLLABORATION WITH THE AUTHOR KATHERINE MILLS JOHNSON

Kathy Johnson is an author from Texas who contacted me some time ago about using a number of my icons in her then, in progress, series ``Lectio Divina Catholic Prayer Journal Series``.  She has now completed over 7 volumes in this series and while my icons, I think, are used in only three of the guides, they are all worth getting and using yourself or giving to friends.

I discovered that it is best to simply search for the title of any one of the items you might be interested in as the only place I could easily find all of the guides was on Amazon.UK!  The prices on the North American sites seem to run from about $10 to $15 per guide.  These are beautiful books for deepening your prayer life and would make especially nice gifts for anyone who is seeking to grow in their understanding of Scripture and prayer.

Here is the back cover from one of the guides which gives you, along with other information, the facts about Katherine Mills Johnson, the author.




Information about the author, Katherine Mills Johnson -- you will have to use the ``magnifier`` in order to read it easily.

Here is what Kathy says about me in each of the volumes in which my icons appear--

Many thanks to Sallie Thayer for the use of her icons.  A lifelong artist from Toronto (should read lifelong wanna be artist!), Sallie began writing icons with the use of the computer in 2006 after arthritis prevented her from being able to paint and do calligraphy.  For Sallie, ``the real creator is God but he uses my hands to accomplish this work.``  She surrounds each icon with prayer and blesses others with the beauty of her artistry. 

Below are the covers from the three volumes using my icons...


Using the Rosary Icons



Using the Stations of the Cross Icons


Using various Icons mixed in with photos of stained glass windows



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SUKI AND SALLIE


``I may forgive you for deserting me -- perhaps if you
offered me an extra helping of din-din!``
As most of you know, I participated in a 20-hour sleep study at the hospital this past Sunday night, Monday until about 3:30 p.m.  I left home about 7 p.m. Sunday evening, leaving Suki alone overnight.  The next morning, Joycelyn came to attend to her usual Monday activities at my place which kept her here for about three hours.

Joycelyn told me later that when she arrived, Suki was sitting in the chair by the front door and when she left, Suki was still sitting in that chair.  Normally, whenever I go out, Suki sleeps in that chair until I come home.  When I finally arrived home about 3:45 Monday afternoon, there was Suki right at the front door just as she always is when I come home.  After a quick hello which consisted of a lot of purring and rubbing against my legs, she asked to be fed.

After she had eaten, she attached herself to me for the rest of the evening and night.  She wanted to sleep in my lap which was not really a problem as I was so tired all I wanted to do was sleep!  You would think that after being on a sleep study where all I did was sleep and get awakened and then sleep and get awakened, I might feel just a bit rested.  But, no, I was totally exhausted.  That sleep study was one of the more difficult medical experiences I have ever gone through! 

So, Suki and I have been sleeping and sleeping and sleeping since Monday.  Hopefully, I have just about recovered and Suki is back to her normal self -- sleeping in her own bed(s) and regularly awakening me to beg for food.

I have no results yet to report from the sleep study but hopefully I will be hearing something soon.  Most importantly I am hoping to finally have a proper diagnosis and a workable treatment plan.  I will keep you informed.

As to my other major problem, there is still no definite word on when I will be having the eye surgery, but I have been told that it may be sooner rather than later.  Once my poor eyes are repaired, I am expecting that life will look a lot better!

Meanwhile, thanks to you all for your prayers and good wishes.

And for those of you who continue to request more photos of the younger Sallie Thayer, here is something rather different:

This photograph was taken in a wooded area in central Florida.  It shows a much younger me saying a sad farewell to a turtle I met while visiting my parents in Anna Maria, Florida.  I came upon this sweet turtle as she finished laying her eggs in the soft sand along the canal behind my parents home.  As you can see, I have a great liking for such creatures -- turtles, frogs, snakes and such!  I know it is a bit unusual, but what can I say.....?







May God`s gifts of peace, joy and love fill our hearts and our lives.
St. John the Apostle, pray for us.
Amen.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Spotted Mandarin -- the Wildflower


"Disporum maculatum -- Spotted Mandarin", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013
The Spotted Mandarin (also known as the Nodding Mandarin) is a relatively rare wildflower and a member of the Lily Family.  They can be occasionally spotted in their deep woods habitat from Michigan down to Georgia.  The small spots on the "petals" give them the Maculatum part of their Latin name. When Disporum if placed in front, it translates into something like "organization of spots" -- at least that is the conclusion I come to using my fractured Latin!

Plants of this sort which are somewhat shy (even though the Spotted Mandarin can grow up to 30 inches) are rarely seen unless you are looking for them. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that as the stem grows longer, the flower head tends to bend over toward the ground so that only the leaves are showing. There is a yellow-flowered relative growing in the same habitat and known as the Yellow Mandarin.  Disporum maculatum produces white berries which eventually turn yellow.

If you would like to take a look at these plants, I have a cousin in East Tennessee who would be happy to show you these wild flowers and many, many others up in the Great Smoky Mountains.


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BRADEN IS GROWING!


Braden is getting to be such a big boy -- wanting to sit up more and explore things as you can see from the two photos posted below.

Here we see Braden reading away and while he is sitting up, I am not sure that Mickey Mouse likes being used for a chair!



Here Braden is exploring things.  Think of all the discoveries that are ahead of him as he investigates the world around him!


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SUKI AND SALLIE


"Are you sure you are giving me enough
food?  How about another couple of
spoonfuls?!!

Suki has been reasonably well behaved of late -- this is a good thing as I have not been doing that well.  Maybe she is aware of my discomfort, but whatever the cause, I am grateful that she has not been trying to convince me to get up at 4 a.m. to feed her!

She has also been a bit more willing to eat her dry food between her regular meal times unlike in the past when she would insist on getting her favourite canned food and would pester me about it until I would often finally just give in.

Coming off the medication I told you about has not been easy.  We take these pills the doctors prescribe because we trust our doctor but what is often overlooked is the fact that these are drugs and once our bodies get used to having them, our bodies want them.  When the drug is decreased or stopped -- and I am not talking about narcotics here, just regular prescription drugs -- the body reacts.  This is what I have been going through these past few weeks.  As well, the problem that the drug was being used to treat flares up even more in the absence of the drug the body had come to rely on.

This whole experience has made me a lot more aware of how serious a matter this can be and how important it is to closely monitor the drugs we are taking.  My new motto is:  "the fewer, the better".

Suki doesn't know it yet, but I will be away overnight at the beginning of next week.  Joycelyn will be here early in the morning the following day so Suki will only have to go for a few hours without any human companionship (translate that to read "without the possibility of getting any of her favourite food").  Then after Joycelyn leaves later in the day, Suki will only be alone for a few more hours before I return home.  I am sure she will complain about how difficult her life has been as soon as I return home that afternoon, but I know her well enough by now to know how she can exaggerate!

I had a phone call from the sleep disorders clinic doctor yesterday and she plans to look at my results from the sleep study as soon as they are available.  She wants to try to prevent me from having any more falls if at all possible which means we both have the same goal.

So, remember, I won't be posting on Monday, but hope to post again by Wednesday.  As a matter of fact, I am thinking seriously of setting up a new routine where I don't post every four days but every Wednesday and Sunday.  I will have to see how things work out for me.  I will, of course, keep you informed.


Meanwhile, it is getting late and I want to try to get some rest.  I pray that God will grant us all a restful and peaceful night.

May St. Paul, whose feast day is tomorrow ("the Conversion of St. Paul"), pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.  Amen. 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Our Lady -- Hope of Africa

Icon "Our Lady:  Hope of Africa", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

While working with Fr. Herald Brock, cfr, online, in 2010 (I think) in the development of my icon "Our Lady of Sudan", I developed an strong desire to express in an icon an image under the title "Our Lady --Hope of Africa.  This desire has not left me.

Above is my most recent effort and this image leaves me feeling just a bit more satisfied than any of my previous efforts.  I think the reason why might be because I used a photo of Immaculee Ilibagiza (see below) as my model for Our Lady.  Her face is so expressively African to me -- although I am aware of how widely the faces of African women vary over the length of that huge continent.  At any rate, this effort seems to leave me a bit more settled in this strange desire to draw this particular image.

It really is strange, you know, that I feel this way.  I am not African.  I have never been to Africa.  My only legitimate connections to Africa are the beautiful teenage girl in Zambia who I have been sponsoring for a number of years and my love of the writings of Alexander McCall Smith "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" author whose novels take place in Botswana!!


Just in case you are not familiar with the name of Immaculee Ilibagiza, here is her photo and a short portion of her biography taken from her web site.  She wrote a book after surviving the Rwandan genocide.  The book is entitled: "Left to Tell" and is one of the best descriptions of the experience of pure evil that I think I have ever read.

Immaculee Ilibagiza
"Immaculée Ilibagiza is a living example of faith put into action. Her life was transformed dramatically during the 1994 Rwandan genocide where she and seven other women spent 91 days huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor's house. Immaculée entered the bathroom a vibrant, 115-pound university student with a loving family - she emerged weighing just 65 pounds to find most of her family had been brutally murdered." (text taken from Immaculee's web site)

Read more at:



Other African icons by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer:


Icon "Our Lady of Sudan", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010



Icon "Our Lady of Kibeho", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
Kibeho, located in Rwanda, is a place where Our Lady began appearing before the Rwandan genocide, warning the people.


Icon, by the hand of S. Thayer,  based on a Latin American image

Icon "The Black Madonna", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
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MEMORIES OF A YOUTH ILL-SPENT



My best friend in Tennessee, her younger sister and me!



The story I had planned to tell you was one which, in the past, I had often told as an example of how very naughty, even amoral, children can be – especially if the adults in a child’s life do not practice what they preach. I would tell this story as a humorous one – telling it in such a way that it made people laugh at a clear example of how even the worst of children can be rescued by the grace of God.

As I prepared the second instalment for today’s posting, however, I became very aware, for perhaps the first time, that this is a very sad story – in fact, it really isn’t humorous at all. Let me explain:

(to be continued)






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Sorry folks, but there is no Braden or Suki or Sallie this time.  I have simply run out of energy.  I will fill you in on all that has been going on next time.

My the peace of God surround us all.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Dwarf Morning Glory


"Convolvulus tricolour -- Dwarf Morning Glory", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 
Convolvulus is a genus of about 200 species of flowering plants in the bindweed family, Convolvulaceae. Common names include bindweed and morning glory, both names shared with other closely related genera. They are annual or perennial vines and (a few species of) woody shrubs, growing up to 3 m tall. The leaves are spirally arranged, and the flowers trumpet-shaped, mostly white or pink, but blue, violet, purple or yellow in some species. Many of the species are problematic weeds, which can swamp other more valuable plants by climbing over them, but some are also deliberately grown for their attractive flowers. Some other species are globally threatened.

Convolvulus tricolour aka dwarf morning glory (see drawings above and below) is a plant with solitary long-stalked flowers. The flower is a tricoloured funnel-shaped bloom about three centimeters wide, blue with white and a yellow centre.

It is common on cultivated land, dry open habitats, sandy places and roadsides and is native to the Mediterranean Basin, particularly the south, but it is occasionally seen in other areas of similar climate. In Spain it can be found in the Balearic Islands, and Andalusia, especially in the Costa del Sol.

"Convolvulus tricolour -- Dwarf Morning Glory no. 2", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012


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MEMORIES OF A YOUTH ILL-SPENT

Sallie, age 7 years
After getting a number of requests for more photos and stories, I decided to select some from photos taken during my grade school days -- this was my photo from the 2nd grade -- and share some of the humorous stories from those years.  

My elementary education up through grade 4 took place in a small town in south-central Tennessee.  We moved from Alabama during the last year of WW II -- my parents made these decisions and I, of course, was not informed as to the reasoning behind this action.  I remember how sad I was to leave my good friends and our nice house in Birmingham, but at that age no one seemed too concerned about what I did and did not like!

At any rate, the town where we settled turned out to be very lovely.  Once again we had a nice house surrounded by some really great trees just made for climbing and the neighbourhood had lots of girls my age.  In no time at all life settled down into new but predictable patterns. 

My home life continued to be as dysfunctional as ever which seems to have caused me to be a real dare-devil when playing with my friends,  away from the watchful eyes of parents.  I soon became the "leader" of our small band of adventurers, leading us into all sorts of escapades.  Due to my home relationships, I had already learned to never show my feelings, especially fear or weakness, and so these poor young girls followed me all the while thinking that I was unafraid and confident!  It is truly a wonder that I did not get myself and my friends killed or seriously injured.  I was generally far too clever for my own good but this did enable me to keep our group from being caught or found out.  Instead, the blame often fell on the boys of the neighbourhood -- our sworn enemies -- which gave us a great deal of satisfaction!

Of course, it was inevitable that sooner or later we would be caught.  It happened because one of the group told her younger sister more than she should have about our  next caper:  the "Vacation Bible School Toy Theft"...  (to be continued) 



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MY MOTHER'S PAINTINGS


Mother's Study in Blue, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013




My living room -- some of mother's paintings on wall at right edge

When I first started learning to do freehand drawing on the computer, I decided to try doing a copy of one of the paintings my mother had done while attending "finishing school" in about 1920.  She had talent which is evident from the few paintings that remain after all these years.  Anyway, the drawing that I did back in 2007 looks very awkward, almost unfinished , to me now.  So when I came across it recently, I decided to try once again to copy my mother's work.  Of course, she was working in oils and it just isn't possible to create the same kind of "soft" images with my hard-lined computer "pen". 

Anyway, if you look closely at the photo of my living room above, you can see my mother's "study in blue" at the very top of the group of paintings at the right edge of the photo.  While I am much more satisfied about what I accomplished this time, I still feel a desire to grab some brushes, oil paints and Linseed oil along with a good canvas -- the same materials my mother used -- and try to do a even better copy!  Ah, if only my old fingers would still co-operate...



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BRADEN


"Thanks, mom.  This is a great toy!  It makes lots of noise when I shake it and it is also very good to chew on."

Boys are so completely boys from their earliest days.  How foolish those people are who try to say that it is only environment and cultural conditioning that creates gender-based play patterns.  I make this comment because Braden's mom sent me a video of Braden playing with this toy.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching Braden shaking his toy and making all sorts of guttural noises -- the very same noises he will make later on when making action figures fight to the death and toy trucks drive off imaginary cliffs and crash satisfyingly below!

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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki helping me sort the laundry!
 On Sunday afternoon, I came across a narrow elastic cord with a plastic tag attached.  I recognized it right away as a tag that had been attached to a pair of house slippers that Joycelyn had purchased for me.  I started to just throw it out; however, Suki was standing there trying to get me to play with her.  So... I tossed the item to her.

She was delighted with this new toy and chased it all over the floor, attacking and pouncing over and over.  I watched her with pleasure and made a mental note to myself to be certain that I found the item and put it away later as I know what can happen if a cat starts chewing on any kind of narrow cord...  Because the little "spines" on a cat's tongue face backwards, once they get any object in their mouth it is very difficult to get it back out again and so they end up swallowing it.  This is what can happen when cats start chewing on a rubber band.

Unfortunately, my mental notes often get erased these days and this is what happened here.  I completely forgot about the need to put this elastic cord away until I was almost asleep that night.  I remember telling myself that it would be OK as the elastic was in one piece and it had that big plastic tag on it that would be impossible for Suki to swallow.

The next morning I was startled when I stepped on something hard on the floor as I went to turn on the entry-way table lamp.  I stopped to check -- what could it be?  My heart skipped a beat when I recognized the object as the white, plastic tag that had originally been on the black elastic cord I had given to Suki to play with!  Fearing the worst, I began to search frantically for the cord, realizing that she must have chewed it in half in order for the tag to be lying there by itself.  When I was unable to locate it even after turning on all the lights in the apartment, I went looking for Suki. 

I found her sleeping soundly in one of her favourite chairs.  She was not at all pleased as I unceremoniously put my fingers in her mouth and into her throat and then quickly turned her around to check her backside.  By this time she was wide awake and beginning to show her complete disapproval of my actions!  Upon finding no evidence of a black cord, I started checking the floor all over again.

As my friend, Eugene, pointed out after I had told him this story yesterday, there would have been evidence of the cord at one end or another, or both, if she had actually swallowed the cord -- plus she would not have been sleeping soundly but would have been showing signs of distress.  I, however, was too panic stricken by this time to think clearly about such things.  I was becoming convinced that Suki had eaten the cord which was at this very moment winding itself around her intestines so that at any moment, she was going to start yowling in distress leaving me no option other than calling the emergency vet clinic and rushing her there in hopes of saving her life!!!

Fortunately, Joycelyn arrived about then.  She is very good at calming me down.  Once she had me settled, she got the laundry underway and then started cleaning the entry-way.  She knew I suspected that if Suki had not eaten the cord, then it would be somewhere near to the place where I had found the plastic tag.  Within moments I heard a shout from Joycelyn "here it is!"   I saw her standing there, triumphantly holding up a long black cord.  I shouted "hooray" and "thanks be to God" as I hurried to where Suki was sleeping.  I grabbed her up, giving her a big hug while telling her how happy I was!  I set her back down at that point because Suki was showing definite signs of displeasure. She jumped down from the chair and hurried into the bedroom where she quickly crawled into her bed in the back of the closet and that was the last anyone saw of her until noon time!

As for me, I had another "sleep attack" on Tuesday and fell.  Fortunately, I fell across a piece of furniture which cushioned my fall.  I ended up on the floor, but the impact was mostly to my hip area which is well padded so I am not physically hurt.  After that, as usual, I was so exhausted that I went to bed and slept for the rest of the day and the night.  Today I feel almost "normal" again. 

Is this related to the medication?  I don't know.  I am taking less of it than I was 4 days ago, but I am still taking it as you can't just immediately stop this kind of drug without running the risk of even more problems.  I will continue to decrease the dosage slowly so that by the time I go for the sleep study at the end of the month, I should be only taking a little bit of this particular drug each day.  Then we'll see what happens next.

I still haven't heard anything about the surgery, but keep hoping I will hear soon.

Meanwhile I continue to do as much drawing as I can tolerate each day.  As well, I am really enjoying this iPad I was given as a Christmas gift.  I have put the Divine Office app on it and so now I can pray the Divine Office at the various times each day without having to read it since reading is now so difficult for me.  I just turn it on and then sit back and listen to these beautiful voices reading and singing hymns and psalms.  It is really quite wonderful.  I have another app for listening while people pray the Rosary if I should want to feel as though I am praying with family or friends.  I am very grateful to the people who developed these lovely Catholic apps.

Let us rejoice in God's goodness and give Him thanks in all things.  Let us allow Him to lead us in paths of righteousness for He knows what is best for each and every one.  Let us join in the prayer for Christian Unity as the week begins on Friday, the 18th.  And let us pray for peace in our hearts and in the hearts of all people -- especially in those parts of the world where there is conflict and war.
Dona nobis pacem.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

A Sweet Southern Girl

"A Sweet Southern Girl", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010
[drawn from an old photograph I was given by a Southern friend]

I was listening to a song not so long ago about returning to "my sweet southern home, which I love".  This is a song that always fills me with nostalgia for a South that never really existed anywhere other than my dreams and fantasies.

Like so many girls who grew up in the South of the 1950s, my head was full of Southern myths, especially those shown so beautifully in the movie "Gone with the Wind" with Vivien Leigh playing the role of the typical Southern female, Scarlett O'Hara.  While she certainly did not behave in a way that my friends and I would have condoned; she did look the way all of us wanted to look!

Scarlett O'Hara as a young girl with Tara in the background






Actress Vivien Leigh as Scarlett















Although Vivien Leigh is actually British, she did a masterful job when playing the role of Scarlett O'Hara -- the accent was light and not overdone, she had plenty of bounce and spirit along with a backbone of steel so that she could often get what she wanted or needed without ever seeming harsh or hard -- always seeming to be just a sweet and gentle lady in need of help and protection from every gentleman who came along!

"Klein", the southern "plantation" house of my mother's ancestors


I actually had some grounds for pretending to be a real lady of the deep South.

There had been a plantation and plantation house in my mother's family and the old house was still around when I was growing up.  A cousin now has control of it and is trying his best to restore it a bit at a time.

Sallie at almost age 15!








And here I am a Southern girl with a head full of daydreams about being another Scarlett although I wanted to be a really well-mannered one as I did consider Scarlett to be much too self-centered to be a true Southern lady.

I had some serious problems with this fantasy, however.  I did manage to keep my waist at 23 1/2 inches, but there was one particular issue that had me totally defeated -- my height!  As I continued to grow taller than most of my friends, my poor mother would wring her hands and say something like:  "I just don't understand it, Sallie.  You look more and more like a Yankee girl every day." (Whenever your mother wanted to let you know that you looked too messy or too poorly put together to go out in public, she said you looked like a Yankee!  It was considered a terrible insult to be told that you looked like a Yankee girl!

All those things that seemed so important back then are just like so much "dust in the wind" now.  But every time I hear those lyrics about "the sweet, sunny South", I can't help but remember how it was growing up Southern.

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IMPORTANT DAILY ACTIVITIES OF BRADEN

He is just growing up too quickly to suit me.  There hasn't been nearly enough time for holding and cuddling him.  Much too soon he will reach the stage of not wanting all that huggy/kissy stuff from his "great aunt" Sallie!  Anyway, here are some recent photos showing his daily activities.
Braden says:

I sleep...



I sit...




I crawl...



I walk!!!

Now, when do I eat?"
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CORPUS CHRISTI UPDATE

Here are a few more items from Corpus Christi parish in Detroit:


The Church decorated for Christmas with the icons at the front.


All the Advent and Christmas photos can be seen at:  http://www.corpuschristi-detroit.org/html/photos.html



Christmas Icon Bookmarks -- the Advent sheet is similar with 4 bookmarks for the 4 weeks

Deacon Paul wrote: 
"We have consolidated one from each week into a single sheet of 4; one sheet for Advent and one for the Christmas Season.  When we initially printed them we had four of the same on each sheet, a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 inches.  It's almost been a joke/status symbol "Do you have all 8 of the icon bookmarks?"

If anyone would like to have a pdf version of the bookmarks, just let me know and I will send them to you.

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SUKI AND SALLIE

Ready to attack!

This photo of Suki expresses the mood she has been in this morning.  Suddenly she was a kitten again -- running back and forth, jumping from one place to another.  Grabbing her toys and batting them around until each was lost under the sofa or under the dresser.  Every so often there would be a crash as she pulled toys out of the openings in her old scratching post with such force that they landed on the hardwood floor with a bang!  I was getting exhausted just watching her plus she was also disturbing my poor old concentration as I tried to focus on my blog.

Fortunately, she seems to have worn herself out for the moment so she is presently sound asleep!


As for me... well, I am all fired up and ready to rant about the medical profession.!!

 As some of you are aware, I finally had my appointment at the sleep disorders clinic this past week.  Well, the doctor did a good job of asking me lots of questions about everything.  What they would like for me to do is to go in for a sleep study where I would not only stay overnight but most of the next day as well so that my daytime sleepiness could be observed.  I have an appointment, but am not sure that I will it -- it depends on what happens after I get myself off of a drug I have been taking for the past 3 to 4 years (the same amount of time I have been having sleep problems!).

This is what I am referring to... As I was just about ready to leave, the doctor informed me that a large part of the problems I have could be related to a drug I am taking called Ropinirole hydrochloride also known as Requip.  I take this drug because it came on the market 4 years ago described as the perfect chemical solution to the problem of Restless Leg Syndrome -- something I have suffered from for most of the years I have been living.  For some people it is only a nuisance, but for me it can be so bad that it will keep me from being able to sleep at all until I reach the point of total exhaustion and sort of pass out!  Anyway, at first it did seem to help a great deal but then the effect lessened and so the doctor increased the dosage until it reached the level of being a fairly heavy dose daily.  By this point in time, I had also developed the "fainting" spells that led to all those really bad falls I have had over the past three years.

At any rate, the doctor handed me a sheet telling me how to cut my dosage carefully over time until I was taking a very low dosage again.  However, after reading the following information online last night, I want to get off this drug completely -- I would rather take my chances with Restless Leg Syndrome!  Let me quote what the medical literature shows regarding adverse reactions:

Adverse reactions

CNS: headache, dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, fatigue, neuralgia, amnesia, hyperesthesia, yawning, dystonia, increased dyskinesia, hyperkinesia, akathisia, hallucinations, abnormal thinking, poor concentration, syncope, vertigo, myoclonus, asthenia, malaise, sleep attacks

CV: orthostatic hypotension, hypertension, palpitations, extrasystole, peripheral edema, peripheral ischemia, chest pain, tachycardia, atrial fibrillation

EENT: abnormal vision, rhinitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis
There is almost nothing in that list that I haven't suffered from during these past three/four years.  When I read this last night, I was truly flabbergasted and angry.  After all this time and all the different specialists I have seen plus the different tests I have undergone, you would think that one of the doctors would have said something about this instead of waiting for a sleep specialist to mention this problem almost as an afterthought at the very end of an hour's examination.  When I think about the falls I have had over these past few years and how easily I could have been killed or seriously crippled.  Even now I have to live with the results of this "broken neck" for the rest of my life.

I can't really blame anyone, especially since I was determined to take the drug once the pharmaceutical company made such glowing promises in their advertisements.  My determination to take the drug no matter what makes me equally responsible in some ways.  What amazes me, however, is the fact that not a single doctor out of the dozen that have examined me over these past years ever even mentioned the possibility that this drug could be the cause of my problems.

Thanks for listening everyone.  Now I feel much better after getting all that said.  I plan to slowly stop taking this drug and then see how much better I do after that.  Meanwhile I will continue to be grateful that this may be the solution to a problem that seemed to be insurmountable. 

So, with a deep sense of thanksgiving, I pray that we may all be surrounded by that peace which God alone can give.  Amen.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Shades of Pink


"Sicilian honey lily flowers", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Sicilian honey lily, Nectaroscordum siculum is also known as Allium siculum, Sicilian honey garlic.  The reason, it seems, for the different Latin names is determined by your desire to either see this plant as mainly nectar bearing (honey aspect) or as a member of the garlic family. Sicilian honey lily (garlic) has attractive bell-shaped flowers, but don’t be fooled by its beauty - like most members of its genus and subfamily it has an unpleasant smell when bruised. Avoided by grazing animals, because of its acrid, garlicky smell and presumably bad taste.
The narrow, fleshy leaves emerge in late winter or early spring. The flowering stems appear in May and June, as the leaves die down. The stem emerges from a loose, sheathing leaf, with the flowers enclosed in a pair of green, spathe-like bracts. When this splits, the flowers hang downwards, like small, stiff bells, with glistening nectar inside. Native to Europe, where it occurs from the Mediterranean to Romania. Allium siculum subsp. siculum occurs from southern France and Corsica to Italy (including Sicily). Allium siculum subsp. dioscoridis is native to eastern Romania, Bulgaria, the Crimea and western Turkey.



"Babiana villosa", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012


Babiana villosa grows on clay flats and slopes in the southwest and northwest South African Cape. The flowers are mauve, pink, or dark red. This member of the iris family produces low, sparse clumps of hairy, pleated, sword-shaped leaves. They arise in late fall or winter from rounded, deeply buried corms. The 2-inch-wide (5-cm), cup-shaped, mauve-pink to crimson blooms are borne in compact, open spikes. A cluster of black-purple anthers accents each flower's centre. They have no noticeable fragrance.




"Lycoris radiata Familia Amaryllidaceae", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Lycoris radiata (red spider lily) is a plant in the Amaryllis family.  Originally from China, it was introduced into Japan and from there to the United States and elsewhere. It flowers in the late summer or autumn, often in response to heavy rainfall. The plant was first introduced into the United States in 1854 when Japanese ports were opened for US trade. Captain William Roberts, who enjoyed botany, brought back only three bulbs of the red spider lily.

The bulbs of Lycoris radiata are very poisonous. These are mostly used in Japan, and they are used to surround their paddies and houses to keep the pests and mice away. In Japan the Red Spider Lily signals the arrival of fall. Japanese Buddhist tradition sees this plant as the perfect one for decorating the graves of the ancestors.  Many Oriental peoples believe that since the Red Spider Lily is mostly associated with death that one should never give a bouquet of these flowers. If you are interested in knowing the legends surrounding this flowering plant, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lycoris_radiata


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YOUNG MASTER BRADEN

Young Master Braden is gradually getting into more and more things just as you would expect a growing boy to do.  He  is also beginning that long process of seeking to assert his own will in opposition to his parents -- unless the two just happen to coincide!  We all went through the process in one form or another in order to become the individual person that we are today.  In fact, God calls each one of us to be unique individuals and He has a particular task in mind for each unique person -- whether we recognize it or not.  As Braden's doting, "great-aunt Sallie" (this is the name I have given myself), I am already convinced that Braden must be called to some very special task since he is already so wonderful!

"Come on, Dad, let's do 'ride the horsey' again -- only go faster this time!"



"After I finish chewing on Mickey Mouse's tail, I plan to start on Mom's hair next (so temptingly close on the top of my head)!"




"After all that horseback riding and all that chewing on everything in sight, I am rather tired -- perhaps it is time for a nap!" 




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My "Coming Home" Story

NOTE: Some portions of this story have been changed or combined or even partly fabricated in an effort to tell the story in a way that makes sense, provides anonymity for certain people and, particularly, to refrain from attempting to explain those events in the spiritual life which are simply unexplainable



(Continued from previous posting...

Add caption
 I felt as though I was rapidly growing in “wisdom and understanding”. It was a truly blessed time for me – for those precious months my life seemed almost unreal as the days passed by in peaceful harmony.

What a gift that was after all those previous years of fear and uncertainty. At last my promise to God – made 15 years earlier – was going to be kept. Fortunately, I had the good sense to realize that this special time was a gift and that things would become difficult again as I would never learn what I needed to if God cocooned me for the rest of my life!

So, I just enjoyed those wonderful days of:
  • the holy hours in that darkened Church;
  • working with the Brothers and the men off the street;
  • worshipping weekly with the Prayer Group (I was writing songs like crazy for the music ministry as melodies and words of praise and thanksgiving just poured out of me almost effortlessly).
Finally, just before Holy Week, Father said I was ready and we decided that Holy Thursday would be THE day. We arranged with the Brothers for me to come into the Church in their chapel. Friends joined me; both Catholic and Anglican, the Brothers and other staff members were there along with a number of the elderly “knights of the road” who lived at the Centre; as well as two priest friends.

What a glorious day that was. Since I was validly baptized, I needed to make my first Confession -- which I did shortly before the Liturgy -- and so as Mass began, my inner being felt as white and clean as the shirt I had purchased for this occasion.

Thus, on April 4th, 1976, as I received that first Eucharist (the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ), it seemed to me that I could almost hear the Father saying: “You are My beloved daughter in whom I am pleased. Always remember that I love you.  Welcome home, Sallie.” 

From deep within came my response: “I love you too -- more than I can express. Thank you for never giving up on me and thank you for this love, peace and joy which now fills my heart and soul.”

At that moment, I suddenly recalled a brief passage from the 7th chapter of the Song of Songs where the beloved says:  " I belong to my love, and his desire is for me."
For the rest, there are no words.

(Not “The End” rather “The Beginning!”)



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SUKI AND SALLIE


 I was expecting company yesterday in the early afternoon.  Just before my friend was scheduled to arrive, I checked the condition of the seat of the wing-backed chair in the living room.  I knew it had been cleaned recently, but I also knew that this remains one of Suki's favourite sleeping places.  The first thing I noticed was the fact that Suki was sprawled out across the seat, sound asleep. 

I gently picked her up and moved her to another place nearby where she sometimes sleeps.  She woke up and looked around rather groggily.  Meanwhile I attacked the seat cushion with a "sticky paper roll".  After using the sticky paper until it was coming away clean, I went into the kitchen to dispose of the paper in my "paper" waste basket.  Then I returned to the living room to check everything one final time.  As I did so, I noticed that once again, sprawled across the chair I had just cleaned, was the Suki cat herself!

At this point, I picked her up, a lot less gently this time, and moved her into her bed in the bedroom.  She looked at me with an expression that seemed to say:  "Did I do something wrong?"  Telling her to stay in the bedroom, I retrieved the sticky paper roll from the closet and proceeded to clean the chair seat again.  This time it only took a few strokes before it seemed to be clean enough and I went into the kitchen to dispose of things as I had done previously.

I turned and looked over toward the living room just in time to see Suki jumping back up into the chair!  To say I was not pleased would be a definite understatement!  I could feel myself getting very frustrated and so rather than continue this "comedy routine", I decided it would be better for me to finish getting myself ready for my visitor and then to try to reclaim the chair just before the time she was to arrive.

This I did and was feeling fine again by the time my friend buzzed from the lobby.  I let her in and quickly picked up the sleeping Suki, being very gentle once again, and moved her back into the bedroom with a stern admonition to "STAY".  Once again she looked at me as though she could not understand why I was just a bit tense!

At this point, I heard my friend knocking on the door.  I let her in and stood talking with her as she removed all those winter things we have to wear here in Canada during these cold months and then we turned and moved toward the living room.

Yes, you know what I saw:  Suki was right back in the chair, proceeding to give herself a full bath.  At this point she had her back leg over her head, giving her back side a thorough going over!  I could see my friend glancing toward the chair (this is where she usually likes to sit).  I quickly began to apologize as I observed my friend's eyes go quickly to the nearby sofa.  She said, not surprisingly, "I think I will sit on the sofa today as Suki apparently wants to visit with us as well!"

When I offered to move the cat, my friend said:  "Oh, no, no.  Let her stay as she seems so comfortable."  Meanwhile I had images in my thoughts about how uncomfortable I would like to make that cat by shutting her up in the bathroom!

And so, we had our visit which was very pleasant.  My friend sat on the sofa and I sat on my walker and Suki sat in her chair!  She sat there, that is, for about 15 minutes before she got down, stretched and ambled over to where my friend was sitting.  At this point, much to my dismay, she jumped up on the sofa and lay down right next to my friend and proceeded to look up at my friend while purring loudly.  She stayed there for a while until my friend finally gave her a few head scratches and then she moved to the back of the sofa where she stayed for the remainder of the visit.  The chair now sat empty.

Oh, did I mention that my friend really doesn't like cats and is, in fact, just a bit frightened of them? 

Other than that, things are going reasonably well at my "house".  Did I tell you that I was diagnosed with possible pneumonia last Friday? 

Well, this cough I have referred to a couple of times continued to worsen and so I was finally forced to make a visit to the doctor.  After listening to my breathing, she immediately prescribed the type of anti-biotic used to treat pneumonia and sent me for x-rays.  I see her again this coming Friday to get the results.  Meanwhile, I seem to be improving slowly.  Thankfully, it is what I grew up hearing referred to as "walking pneumonia" which means I don't feel too bad otherwise -- just a nuisance of a bad cough which particularly likes to act up when I am trying to sleep!

I have a call in to the surgeon's office about when I am scheduled to have this next surgery and will hopefully hear something by sometime tomorrow.  Otherwise, the same conditions continue and I continue to overcome them in order to keep doing some of the things I enjoy the most -- such as the art work and this blog.  Thanks be to God that I have been able, so far, to keep doing these things that matter so much to me.

I still need to put away my Christmas decorations, but I have until the 11th -- that is the very end of the Christmas Season according to the schedule of the Church.  Hopefully I will get started soon just putting away a lot of the smaller items I bring out each year because of the sentimental value I attach to them -- mostly gifts from children in my life -- many of whom are now adults with families of their own.  How precious these memories seem to become as we get older.  It is such a pleasure for me to sit and look at some item made by a child's hand and given to me with such pride and happiness.  I sit and remember with such pleasure, my heart full of gratitude .  God is so very good,

And now, may His peace be with us all -- now and forever -- Amen.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Juliana of Norwich

Icon, "Juliana of Norwich", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 
Juliana (or Julian) of Norwich was an English mystic of the fourteenth century -- an author and visionary whose experiences were revealed in a book entitled: "Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love".  She was probably a Benedictine nun, living as a recluse in an anchorage of which traces still remain in the east part of the churchyard of St. Julian in Norwich. According to her book, this revelation was "shewed" to her in May, 1373, when she was 30 years old. These "Revelations", or "Shewings", are the most perfect example of later medieval mysticism in England.

Juliana described herself as a "simple creature unlettered" when she received them; but, in the years that intervened between the vision and the composition of the book, she evidently acquired some knowledge of theological phraseology and Christian philosophy, the latter probably derived from the anonymous author of the "Divine Cloud of Unknowing". The book is the record of twenty years' meditation upon that one experience; for, "when the shewing, which is given for a time, is passed and hid, then faith keepeth it by grace of the Holy Ghost unto our lives end". More than fifteen years later, she received "in ghostly understanding" the explanation, the key to all religious experience:
"God showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand ... I looked at it and thought: What can this be? I was given this answer: "It is everything which is..." [to read the remainder of this explanation, please go to http://seekaretreat.com/PrayerPractices.pdf   
Fridge magnet that I made for Christmas gift, 2009
The saying, "…All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well", which Julian claimed to be said to her by God Himself, reflects her theology. It is one of the most famous lines in Catholic theological writing, and is possibly one of the best-known phrases of the literature of her era The 20th-century poet T.S. Eliot incorporated this phrase, as well as Julian's "the ground of our beseeching" from the 14th Revelation, in his "Little Gidding", the fourth of his Four Quartets poems:
Whatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us—a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive In the ground of our beseeching.
Julian is honored with a feast day on May 13 in the Roman Catholic Church.




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My "Coming Home" Story

NOTE: Some portions of this story have been changed or combined or even partly fabricated in an effort to tell the story in a way that makes sense, provides anonymity for certain people and, particularly, to refrain from attempting to explain those events in the spiritual life which are simply unexplainable.

(continued from previous posting)


Sallie, 1969

 The next few days of my life were filled with so many confirmations of the rightness of my decision that I felt a though I was being led by the Spirit every step of the way. Everything I had thought I was giving up was quickly replaced by something new and appropriate – so much so that I did not even have time to be worried or fearful.

I needed to find a new place to live as I had been living with a group of Anglican women and while most of them were OK with my decision, there were some who were not. I quickly found a room in an old, Italian convent attached to one of the large Italian parishes. There was no one else living there at that time and I thought it might be a bit scary; however, once I discovered that the hallway outside my suite led directly to the Church choir loft with a clear view of the Tabernacle and its ever-burning candle, I no longer felt at all frightened! Night after night I was able to quietly enter the locked Church by way of that upstairs hallway and spend as much time in prayer as I wanted – often making a holy hour.

Then I needed a new job. Within a couple of days I heard that the Brothers of the Good Shepherd needed someone to look after their office duties and do a bit of payroll bookkeeping. I applied and was hired immediately. My salary was just enough to pay my rent and cover my basic expenses and I was invited by the Brothers to take my main meal of the day with them!

Finally, and most importantly, my priest friend was willing and able to arrange for me to meet him weekly for private instruction. This was fortunate since RCIA classes were already well underway for the year and I was hungering so much to receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament that I wasn’t sure I could sanely wait another year before coming into the Church!

Actually, I had heard rumours (this was back in the mid-70s remember) that I could receive Holy Communion even if I wasn’t in the Church yet, but I had never really believed them. I immediately asked my priest friend about this as we started our sessions together. He very sternly told me that no matter what anyone told me, the teaching of the Church had not changed – that going up for Communion without being in union with the Body of Christ under the authority of the Magisterium was still a serious sin. So, I set my soul in patience and begin the time of preparation.

As the months passed...

(The concluding segment will be posted on the 8th of January, 2013. )
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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki quietly gazing...
I cannot recall whether or not I told you about the demise of the letter "S".

A few weeks ago the big letter fell off the wall when Suki was "patting" it.  Since this happened to be the middle of the night, this event frightened not only Suki but it also frightened me as the crashing sound awakened me from a deep sleep!  At that point, I said several unpleasant words and then announced my decision that the big letter was going in the closet for good!

Much to Suki's dismay that is exactly what happened to the letter "S".  It is now in the very back of the closet wedged tightly between two boxes.  All was quiet for the next few nights; however, last night the black bandit struck again!

Since the "S" is now immovable, Suki evidently decided that as she no longer had her big letter that she would have to improvise.  So, she decided that the two, free-hanging mirror panels near where I sleep would work just as well as the big letter had!  Oh joy, oh bliss!

It took me a long time to get to sleep last night due to this continuing cough.  Finally, I fell asleep but was suddenly rudely awakened by this loud, scraping noise.  At first I could simply not figure out what on earth the noise could be!  As I frantically searched the room in the dim light coming from the hallway, I finally saw this black shape (Suki), standing on her hind legs and moving her front paws rapidly on the glass surface of one of the mirrors.  I yelled and the noise stopped.  Suki slowly walked over to me, sat down and with that look on her face which she assumes when she wants something she meowed!  The meow said "I'm hungry.  Let's eat."  I looked over at the clock and saw the numbers click over to 4:30 a.m.  And so began my morning.

This cat is just too clever by far and, obviously, she has no fear of me!  Now I am trying to figure out a way to discourage her from this activity -- ever the optimist, aren't I?

Except for this silly cough, I am doing about the same.  On Sunday I will be taking down my Christmas decorations as that is Epiphany for Catholics and Christmas for the Orthodox.  On Monday I am praying that I will finally get a date for this next surgery.  My next posting will be on the 8th, God willing, and I hope to have good news to report.

Meanwhile, I think it is time for a quick nap (or maybe not so quick!) and then there are a number of emails to respond to.  I will be praying that the peace of the Lord will be with us all. 
Dear Juliana of Norwich, please pray for us.  Amen.