Sunday, 25 May 2014

Our Lady of the Golden Egg

"Our Lady of the Golden Egg", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

It has been slightly over a month now since we celebrated Easter. Today's featured drawing is about one of the most persistent symbols of Easter -- the egg.

Even in today's secular society, Easter finds people dying hard-boiled eggs all of the colours of the rainbow. In the stores, there are eggs made of chocolate and other confections, plastic eggs filled with candy or tiny prizes, pysanki (eggs decorated in the Ukrainian fashion), painted wooden eggs, beaded eggs, porcelain eggs, jewelled eggs by Faberge, eggs of every imaginable material and style. Priests bless eggs and distribute them at church, people exchange eggs as gifts, children find them in baskets in their homes or hunt for them in gardens or roll them over the lawn. It is hard to imagine Easter without eggs. But what are they all about?


As a source of new life, the egg was a symbol of creation, spring, and fertility in many cultures and religions, long before the advent of Christianity. The ancient Persians exchanged eggs at the spring equinox, Romans gave red-painted eggs as gifts at the new year, and to this day an egg is one of the symbolic foods on the plate at the Passover Seder which celebrates the new life of the people of Israel when they were redeemed from slavery in Egypt. Christianity inherited this rich natural symbolic tradition. However, the great spring festival of Easter, the Christian Passover, added a new meaning to the symbolism of the egg, for just as the hard shell of the egg is broken open so that new life can emerge, so was the rock-hewn tomb of Jesus broken open when he rose from the dead on the third day. Ancient cultures saw the egg as a symbol of the rebirth of nature, but Christians came to see it as a symbol of the rebirth of mankind.

Over time, different Christian cultures developed various ways of explaining this symbol of the Resurrection, especially through storytelling.  One of the better known stories is the one about Simon of Cyrene -- the man the Romans forced to help Our Lord, now weakened by hunger, dehydration and torture, carry his cross to the place of the crucifixion.

It is said that Simon was a farmer. He had come into Jerusalem that fateful day to sell his produce to city folk who were preparing the Passover feast to be eaten that evening. Simon had eggs to sell, something that everyone would need for the Seder table. When the soldiers forced him to carry the cross of Jesus, Simon had no choice but to leave his basket of eggs behind. Remarkably, when he returned for his basket later in the day, it was still there, and not an egg was missing. But, even more remarkably, the eggs were no longer white, but were brightly coloured. 

Another story is about Our Lady.  It is said that as she stood beneath the cross of her Son throughout the long hours of His agony leading to His death, she, too, had with her a basket of Passover eggs which she set on the ground near the cross. The eggs reddened as blood from the wounds of Jesus dropped on them.  The story relates that, seeing this, Jesus said to those who were there, "From now on, you, too, shall paint eggs red to remember my crucifixion." A Polish legend says that Mary gave eggs to the soldiers at the cross and asked them to be less cruel to her son. As she spoke, she wept, and her tears fell on the eggs, spotting them with brilliant colours.
[Much of the above information was taken from http://fullhomelydivinity.org/eggs.htm]

The inspiration for my drawing (shown above) actually came from another painting by John Wm. Waterhouse.  His painting, entitled "The Crystal Ball", shows a young woman, beautifully clothed standing in front of a large window while contemplating a crystal ball.  After a great deal of thought, I decided that I wanted the woman to represent Our Lady and that instead of a crystal ball, I would show her contemplating a golden egg -- a symbol of eternal life.  In other words, Our Lady would not be trying to divine the future, but, rather, she would be showing a symbol of that future which is divine.


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BRADEN

Here is my most recent photo of young Master Braden looking as handsome as ever.  

I simply cannot believe that he will soon be entering the "terrible twos".  Of course, I am already convinced that he will remain as wonderful as ever no matter what his age!



Braden looking as sweet and handsome as ever!



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ST. EPHRAIM REQUEST

This past week I received a request for the use of an icon by a diocesan newspaper for the Diocese of Westminster in Great Britain.  I, of course, gave them permission and will show you the publication when I receive a copy.

St. Ephraim (sometimes spelled Ephrem) was a deacon and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century from the region of Syria.  His feast is celebrated on June 9th by Roman Catholics and the Church of England. 


"St. Ephraim the Syrian", icon by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012



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SUKI AND SALLIE


Another photo of Suki which I changed into a
pencil drawing using the Pencil Sketch app
Ah, the joys of being awakened at 5 a.m. by the rattling of the vertical venetian blinds covering the door to my balcony!

By the way, did you know that the early history of the venetian blind is actually based on conjecture. The early Venetians, who were great traders, are thought to have brought the idea of the blind from Persia to Venice. Later, Venetian slaves, once freed, supposedly brought the blind to France for personal comfort and as a means of livelihood. Gradually the concept spread with the greatest upsurge in popularity happening in the mid to late 20th Century.

Anyway, back to Suki...

She is undoubtedly one of the cleverest cats with whom I have ever shared by life.  She has devised all sorts of ways to get me to wake up in the morning when she has decided that it is time for her to eat once again.  Let me tell you about some of the techniques she has developed.

As I mentioned, there is the rattling of the venetian blinds.  She does this not just once, but repeatedly until she has evidence that I am awake.  Then there is the plastic bag "torture"!  

Since it has gotten more and more difficult for me to get up and down without experiencing severe pain, I now keep a wastebasket close to the recliner -- my usual camping grounds.  Into this container go all my bits of compostable garbage such as used tissues, paper towels, napkins, etc.  It is important to me to keep these things separate from other garbage since these items can all be added to my compost bag (my building has a garbage system which includes a recyclable items section as well as a compostable items section).  So I keep two separate recyclable plastic bags in my wastebasket in order to keep the compostable items separate from the recyclables.

Suki long ago discovered that slight movement of plastic makes a particular sound.  This sound, repeated often enough and for long enough, will awaken even the soundest sleeper!  She never tears the bags with her claws, but she simply brushes the bags with her paw -- over and over -- until she knows I am awake.  This technique is a bit riskier as the wastebasket is closer to where I am sleeping and she knows that when she awakens me in this way, I am going to be rather angry and may just try to reach out suddenly and grab her by the scruff of the neck!

So, in order to protect herself, she now always does the plastic bag "torture" on the side farthest from me.  As well, she remains ready to leap away at the first indication that I may be trying to grab her.  

When she first discovered this technique, she did not realize that she was putting herself in danger's way and would sit on the side of the wastebasket closest to me.  One morning, as I came abruptly to consciousness due to the repeated sound of Suki's paw moving across the plastic bags, I was in a position where it was not too difficult to reach out and grab the dastardly cat!  She immediately tried to escape, but I was able to hold onto her neck without hurting anything but her pride.  Amazingly, I was even able to continue to hold on her as I got myself into a sitting position -- I think this was possibly due to my anger-fuelled determination.  Once I was sitting, I grabbed poor Suki with my other hand and got her into my lap.

Now, moving slowly, I was able to stand while continuing to hold onto Suki.  Once I was up, I immediately took her to the bathroom, chucked her inside and closed the door.  I felt quite victorious for a few minutes -- that is until the wailing started!  Suki began to cry loudly, making that terrible sound she can create when she feels offended (the sound that makes me suspect she has a bit of Siamese in her!).  Next came the scratching on the door.  When the two noises were combined, anyone listening would get a true sense of the full meaning of the word "caterwauling"!  After a few minutes of this, I gave in, let Suki out of the bathroom and fed her -- so she won after all.  She always does!   

So, other than being awakened early each morning -- which I really don't mind -- I am doing much the same.

I am now in the process of arranging funding for the work that needs to be done to my gums.  As you all know too well, dental work is so expensive and, sadly for me, it isn't covered by the Canadian health care system -- unless you are on welfare or receiving government disability income!  I do have a bit of dental insurance that came with my pension, but the insurance company's rules are so strict about what is and isn't allowed that I usually end up paying out of pocket for most of the dental work that needs doing.  I will let you know when I have everything arranged and the necessary dental surgery has been scheduled.

Otherwise, all the other problems continue to be the same or slightly worse as is to be expected!

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CHURCH STUFF

On this 6th Sunday of Easter, the Gospel reminds us that we are getting ever closer to Pentecost Sunday -- when the Holy Spirit fell upon Our Lady, the Apostles and all the disciples gathered in the upper room.

The major feast day of the coming week occurs on the 31st of May -- the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth.  I have done several icons of this wonderful event, but here is my favourite:

"The Visitation", icon by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009

May the peace of God be with us all in the week ahead and may we, too, be visited by the gentleness and merciful love that epitomizes the Gift that Our Lady so willingly brought to us.  Amen.

St. Elizabeth, pray for us. Amen.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Babiana sambucina

"Babiana sambucina", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Babiana sambucina, also known as Ker Gawl or Baboon Flowers, grows on sandstone slopes and flats over a broad area (northwest, southwest, southern, eastern Cape and the Karoo, South Africa).

Fragrance alone would be reason enough to grow this rare bulb from South Africa. Most writers say that it has the best and the strongest perfume of all of the Babianas. Growing to just 8” and forming clumps over time, the flowers are held low to the ground. The pretty mauve to violet blooms, with white and sometimes red markings, can appear either early or late in springtime. Leaves are pleated and narrow.

The name, Ker Gawl, sometimes used for this plant is due to John Bellenden Ker, originally John Gawler, an English botanist born about 1764, dying in June 1842.  He is noted for having written Iridearum Genera (1827) as well as other books. The abbreviation, Ker Gawl, refers to his assignment of the botanical name for this plant.  He originally identified this plant as Gladiolus sambucinus. Later, it was realized that this plant, and its relatives, were not Gladiolus but were members of their own genus, Babiana. 

Babiana is a genus in the Family Iridaceae (taking its name from the Irises), a family of 80 genera with over 1500 species of plants in the Order Asparagales.

The other common name for this plant, Baboon Flower, comes from the name given to the genus, Babiana, which is the Dutch word for "baboon".  This word was brought to South Africa by the Dutch settlers, now known as Afrikaners.  The association of the Babiana genus with baboons is due to the great liking these primates have for Babiana corms (similar to bulbs).

I was first attracted to the possibility of drawing these flowers by, what else, the colour!  I also found the markings very appealing. So, I can share the colour and markings with you through my drawing; unfortunately, there is no way that I can include their delightful fragrance! 


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RED BUSH TEA

Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis)

Interestingly, there are a couple of subspecies of Babiana sambucina (longibracteata and sambucina).  These are on the decline at this time due to ongoing habitat loss.  This loss is occurring as more and more land is put under cultivation for 



the growing of the Rooibos plant (a broom-like member of the legume family of plants growing in South Africa's western Cape Province). The leaves of this plant are used to make a tea commonly known in southern Africa as "red bush tea".  I became aware of this tea when I read the first volume of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series written by Alexander McCall Smith.  The book, in which the lead character drinks numerous cups of bush tea made the tea sound so delicious that I immediately went out searching for some.  At that time, I had a bit of a problem finding it on store shelves, but over the years, as the popularity of this book/movie series has grown, I can now find "red bush tea" in the tea section of any supermarket! 

This tea is reported to have various healing properties.  It has a high level of antioxidants, a lack of caffeine and low tannin levels. Rooibos is purported to assist with nervous tension, allergies and digestive problems. Two flavonoids found in rooibos, quercetin and luteolin, have been known to have cancer fighting qualities. Traditional medicinal uses of rooibos in southern Africa include alleviating infantile colic, allergies, asthma and dermatological problems.  

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NEW ART APP

I came across a new art app while searching for something else on my iPad.  It is simply called "Pencil Sketch". It enables me to take an ordinary photo and change it into anything from a pencil sketch to a watercolour painting.  The same thing can be done, of course, using such software as Photoshop or similar types of software. The nice thing about "Pencil Sketch", however, is its simple format combined with quite a large number of options.  Following are a few examples of my first attempts at using the software...


Photo of Peace Lily taken by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer (2014) and modified
using "Pencil Sketch" art enhancement software!



Photograph of an abandoned church modified to look like a watercolour
using "Pencil Sketch" app




Photograph of a woman in a cape standing in snow
Photo modified by using "Pencil Sketch" app




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SUKI AND SALLIE


"Suki in her Favourite Chair" -- photo by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014, modified using
"Pencil Sketch" art enhancement software.
There is really not much to say about either Suki or myself -- we are both pretty much the same as we have been!

Suki has been reasonably well behaved this past week in spite of the continuing effort on my part to help her lose some weight.

I, on the other hand, have a new problem to deal with -- a problem which will require dental surgery!

Evidently, some of the roots connected to one of my back molars remained in the gum when the tooth was pulled back in 2009. These roots are now pushing their way up through the gum and, thereby, causing me pain and discomfort!

I will be seeing the dental surgeon this coming Wednesday and should have a plan for treatment in place by my next posting.

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BLESSING


May the words of our mouths and the thoughts of our hearts be acceptable in God's sight today and always.  Amen.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Clare of Assisi


"Clare of Assisi", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014


Clare of Assisi (July 16, 1194 – August 11, 1253), born Chiara Offreduccio, is an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition, and wrote their Rule of Life—the first monastic rule known to have been written by a woman. Following her death, the order she founded was renamed in her honour as the Order of Saint Clare, commonly referred to today as the Poor Clares.

As a child, Clare was devoted to prayer. When she turned 12 her parents wanted her to marry a young and wealthy man, but she said she preferred to wait until she was 18. However, at the age of 18 she heard Francis preaching and his words had such an impact that her life was changed dramatically. Soon afterwards, she ran away to follow Francis. During the ceremony that followed Clare's arrival at San Damiano, Francis cut her hair and dressed her in a black tunic and a thick black veil.

Clare was then placed in the convent of the Benedictine nuns near Bastia to be trained in the ways of monastic life.  It was from here that her father made several unsuccessful attempts to abduct her, still wanting her to get married. Clare, later joined by her sister Agnes, soon moved to a building close to the church of San Damiano, the "headquarters" of the early Franciscans. Other women joined Clare and her sister in the enclosure where the Poor Clares became known for their radically austere lifestyle.

For a short period of time the order was directed by Francis himself. Then in 1216, Clare accepted the role of abbess. As abbess, Clare had more authority to lead the order. Clare defended her order from the attempts of prelates to impose a rule on them that more closely resembled the Rule of Saint Benedict than Francis' stricter vows. Clare sought to imitate Francis' virtues and way of life so much so that she was sometimes titled alter Franciscus, another Francis. She also played a significant role in encouraging and aiding Francis, whom she saw as her spiritual father. She, and her sisters, took care of Francis during those final illnesses which led to his death in 1226.

The above drawing of St. Clare was inspired by another one of the paintings by Waterhouse (see last Sunday's posting for details regarding this artist).  His work is entitled "Lady Clare".  I was inspired by his work to try to show St. Clare as she might have appeared at age 18 -- just prior to joining St. Francis and his companions in order to live her life as a cloistered nun.
  
"St. Francis of Assisi", icon by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010

I wanted to show that she was already a Franciscan at heart by drawing her accompanied by creatures -- just as St. Francis is always pictured (see icon at left). I originally drew a squirrel perched on her shoulder, but then the drawing looked just a bit too overdone to me. So, instead, I have shown St. Clare accompanied by a doe and a dove -- both creatures associated with gentleness and purity.



I, personally, have always felt drawn to the Franciscan spirit even though I only tried living with one Franciscan community -- the Felician Sisters (one branch of the Third Order of St. Francis, an active-contemplative religious institute, founded in Warsaw, Poland, in 1855, by Sophia Truszkowska, and named for a shrine of St. Felix, a 16th-century Franciscan saint especially devoted to children).  I spent a year working in one of their high schools and living with the sisters, but after year, we mutually agreed that we were not a good fit! 

I also had the privilege of spending a bit of time in Assisi some years ago and was able to visit the original monastery of the Poor Clares.  I remember going from room to room and being amazed as I realized how difficult the life of St. Clare and those first nuns actually must have been. For example, I was there  in the summer time and the interior was pleasantly cool. However, I could not imagine living there in the winter during the snow storms which are natural to this region and trying to keep warm while working and praying each day. There were only a few fireplaces I could see and there were none at all in the area assigned to the nuns for sleeping!

St. Clare and St. Francis, please pray for us.

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NEW PHOTOS OF BRADEN



"Singin' in the Rain!"



"That was good, mom -- may I have some more, please?"



"Caught in the Act" -- already sending text messages to one of his many girlfriends!


Dancing with his cousin --
you go, Braden!

As you can see, Braden is continuing to grow into a handsome, young man who seems to really hit it off with the ladies.  If he is this much of a "swinger" at 2 what will he be like at 16?  His poor parents!

Seriously, he is just a sweet guy who enjoys being with people -- and people enjoy being with him.  He is having such a great start to his life and I pray that things will only get better for him.

The photo to the left was actually "captured" from a video which explains the lack of definition.  However, I really wanted you to see what a good dancer he is becoming.  He still needs to do a bit of work, but if you could see the video, you would know that he is already getting his moves down! 

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SUKI AND SALLIE

"What's happenin', dude?"
Suki is a great source of companionship and joy; however, she can also be a real pest at times!

Take yesterday morning, for instance.

I was sleeping soundly when suddenly I was awakened by feeling as though a large rock had just fallen onto my chest!  

As I later discovered, the time was only 4:45 a.m. so it is not surprising that it took me a moment or two to figure out what had happened.  

First I began to explore the weight on my chest with my fingers. Immediately, I realized that it was a cat -- not only a cat, but a purring cat!  With that discovery, I yelled "Suki, what on earth do you think you are doing?"

She answered me immediately with a plaintive meow which I knew was her way of saying "I'm hungry; please feed me!"

Later, I realized that she had managed to climb onto the body pillow next to me and then she had jumped from that height (about a foot) directly onto my chest.  This action on her part had the desired effect of waking me up; however, it did not lead to her getting fed.  Instead, I pushed her off onto the floor and told her to not bother me again until it was time for me to get up!

I could see her eyes glowing in the darkness, looking at me pleadingly as I somehow managed to fall back to sleep.  After that, it appears that Suki was able to resist any more extreme measures to awaken me again until almost 5:30. At this time, she managed to squeeze herself into the small space between the top of my head and the headboard, thus putting enough pressure on my head to cause me to wake up!  

This time, I gave in and just got up, fed Suki and then begin my own breakfast preparations.  Thankfully, I had already had about six hours of sleep which is all my body seems to require these days.  As well, I could tell that I needed to take my next dose of pain medication before my back and neck became too uncomfortable.

All I can say is:  "What a cat!"

What makes all this worse is that I have been suffering from a bad case of the "epizootics" for the past few days!  No, no, it isn't fatal, just unpleasant.  I have used this word before, but just in case any of you missed that posting, let me explain once again.

Epizootics really means the study of epidemic animal diseases.  In the part of the southern US where I grew to adulthood, the word had two meanings -- at least in my family.  It was sometimes used to refer to colds or flu-like illnesses and it was also used, especially by my mother, to describe the "illness" I was sure I had every cold winter morning when I had to get out of bed and get dressed for school!  

I would tell my mother how terrible I felt, explaining that I was much too sick to go to school and probably needed to stay in bed all day and sleep!  My mother's response was to tell me that I probably had the "epizootics" and the best treatment for it was to get outside and breathe some of the fresh, cold air!  That diagnosis, combined with my mother's statement that she would have to tell my father I was too sick to go to school when he returned from milking the cows, was always sufficient to get me up and moving!

At any rate, I do seem to have picked up some sort of cold during the past week and at the moment, my sinuses are congested, I have an unpleasant cough and my ears itch!  The worst part is that with my sinuses so congested, I cannot really smell which means I can't really taste either.  This is the one aspect of colds and flu that I dislike the most -- I can't even treat myself to a soothing bowl of ice cream since it has no taste -- where's the pleasure in that?!

Otherwise, there is nothing new to report except that my most recent blood work (this past Tuesday) showed my Potassium levels to still be too high.  I have been told to increase this unpleasant medication by one more pill per day.  Personally, I think these doctors just haven't waited quite long enough yet for the current dosage to have its full effect.  I shall take their recommendations under advisement and see where my Potassium levels are when I go back to the doctor next week!

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May God's perfect peace surround us and fill our hearts in the days ahead and may the joy of the Lord be our strength and our defending wall. Amen. 

St. Clare, pray for us. Amen.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Bromeliads

"Billbergia nutans (Queen's-Tears)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Billbergia nutans (Queen's-Tears) is an epiphytic (a plant that grows non-parasitically upon another plant and gets its moisture and nutrients from the air) bromeliad native from Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.

Believe it or not, this plant can be an easy-to-maintain house plant as it can normally withstand periods of neglect. They have few roots, just enough to anchor them, and they get their moisture and nutrients from the air like the descriptor "epiphytic" suggests. They like humidity and a spray bottle can substitute for the occasional rain shower that would enable the plant to collect water when growing outdoors.

I enjoyed drawing this plant because of all the different, bright colours found in the flowers.  It actually puts me in mind of the candy stick packages I used to receive at Christmas when I was growing up.  There were peppermint sticks of course, but there were also lemon sticks, an unknown flavour the colour of which was pink and then there were green-striped, spearmint sticks as well!  Yum, they were pure sugar and melted in your mouth and I am sure they contributed to many of my youthful cavities!!

Another plus about Billbergia nutans is that it is not toxic to humans, cats or dogs.


The Bromeliads

Bromeliaceae is a family of flowering plants of around 3,170 species native mainly to the tropical Americas, with a few species found in the American subtropics and one in tropical west Africa. 

The family includes both epiphytes (a plant that grows non-parasitically upon another plant (such as a tree), and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air or rain instead of the structure to which it is fastened), such as Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides),
Tillandsia usneoides, Spanish Moss,
hanging from Cypress Tress in Florida


Ananas comosus, Pineapple
and terrestrial species, such as the pineapple (Ananas comosus). 





Many bromeliads are able to store water in a structure formed by their tightly-overlapping leaf bases.  The largest bromeliad is Puya raimondii, which reaches 3–4 metres tall in vegetative growth with a flower spike 9–10 metres tall, and the smallest is Spanish moss.
Puya raimondii


Bromeliads are plants that are adapted to a number of climates. Foliage takes different shapes, from needle-thin to broad and flat, symmetrical to irregular, spiky to soft. The foliage, which usually grows in a rosette, is widely patterned and coloured. Leaf colours range from maroon, through shades of green, to gold. Varieties may have leaves with red, yellow, white and cream variations. Others may be spotted with purple, red, or cream, while others have different colours on the tops and bottoms of the leaves. 


"Tillandsia cyanea, Pink Quill", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009


Plants in the Bromeliaceae family are widely represented in their natural climates across the Americas. One species can be found in Africa. They can be found at altitudes from sea level to 4200 meters, from rain forests to deserts. Approximately half the species are epiphytes, some are lithophytes (plants that grow in or on rocks), and some are terrestrial. Accordingly, these plants can be found in the Andean highlands, from northern Chile to Colombia, in the Sechura Desert of coastal Peru, in the cloud forests of Central and South America, in southern United States from southern Virginia to Florida to Texas, and in far southern Arizona.


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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki looking very blue black and wondering
why I disturbed her if I wasn't going to feed her!
Well, the best laid plans often do go awry -- as Robbie Burns said so many years ago!  

As you know, after Suki developed arthritis in her hip joints, she had started using my laptop keyboard as a heating pad once I went to bed at night. After a discussion about this with my friend, Jessie, we came up with the idea of using a heating pad wrapped in a thick towel (the towel was to prevent Suki's claws from coming in contact with the heating pad wiring). The heating pad, encased in the towel, was then placed on the seat of her favourite chair. The expectation was that Suki would find this arrangement more to her liking and would, thus, no longer find my laptop keyboard so appealing, keeping her paws from playing havoc with the key pad. I was looking forward to no longer spending time every morning cleaning up all the strange messages left on my computer screen!

For the first couple of days after arranging this, Suki seemed to actually prefer to use the heating pad in her chair rather than the laptop keyboard.  Sadly, this seeming preference was only temporary!  By the middle of this past week, Suki decided that she actually preferred the laptop warmth to that of the heating pad! She even made it clear to me that she no longer wanted to use the towel-wrapped heating pad (she did this by pushing it onto the floor!).  Once again I found myself dreading what messages I might find waiting for me on my computer screen each morning.  I mean, when you see a message highlighted in red that reads: "Are you sure you wish to take this action?  Doing so will erase important system files and may cause your computer hard drive to malfunction.", you really start to worry!

So, I have decided to move the computer each night to a small desk that Suki is no longer able to jump on because of the arthritis. It's a nuisance, I know, but so far I can't think of any other solution for this problem.

You might ask why I don't just close the laptop up at night and the answer is that I have scheduled my external hard drive to do a complete backup of my entire hard drive during the night when I know I will not want to be using the computer.  I like this arrangement as it provides the backup I need without interfering with my computer activities during the day.

You also might wonder why I don't just close the door to the room where my little office space resides.  No one who has ever lived with a house cat would ask this question, but for those of you who do not understand, let me explain.  A closed door is an almost unbearable challenge for any cat -- especially a door that is usually kept open.  Such a door, when closed, must be dealt with using all kitty-cat techniques, including scratching, meowing, head-butting, etc.  I think you can imagine how difficult it might be to fall asleep and stay asleep with such noises occurring -- and occurring for a long period of time.  Cats do not admit defeat easily!

Otherwise, Suki is doing OK and we seem to be managing her pain. My pain, on the other hand, is still not being managed as well as I would like, but I am making progress in that area.

The pain clinic specialist has kindly now set a fairly high limit to the amount of pain medication I can take each day.  This leaves me free to take as much, or as little, of the medication as I seem to need each day in order to keep me from too much suffering.  

My goal each day is to take as little of the stuff as possible but I now recognize the need to try to keep the pain under enough control so that I can still find pleasure in such things as email correspondence, art work, short walks when the weather permits and even watching a bit of TV.  As any of you know who suffer from chronic pain problems, you must find a way to control the pain for at least some of the time or else the pain takes over your life until pain is all there is.

Otherwise, I continue to deal with all the other medical issues as best I can and there is really nothing new to report about them.

Using my new pain regimen, I have recently been able to do a bit of art work for a firm I have often done jobs for in the past.  As well, there are still the occasional orders for greeting cards coming in and I am now able to use my drawings to create cards and print them.

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JUBILATE SUNDAY...  

is the third Sunday after Easter, being so named from the first word of the Introit at Mass — "Jubilate Deo omnis terra" ("Shout with joy to God, all the earth", Psalm 66). In the liturgy for this and the two following Sundays, the Church continues her song of rejoicing in the Resurrection. Throughout the whole of Eastertide both the Divine Office and Mass are expressive of Easter joy, Alleluia being added to every antiphon, responsory, and versicle, and repeated several times in the Introits and other parts of the Mass. The Introit for this day is an invitation to universal joy.


"Our Lady, Tree of Life", icon by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Alleluia!  
"Cry out with joy to the Lord all the earth, O sing to the glory of His name, O render Him glorious praise, say to God 'how tremendous Your deeds' " -- 1st verse, Psalm 66, International Commission on English in the Liturgy, 1976 translation, Divine Office.
Alleluia!


"...they had recognized Him at the 
breaking of bread", icon by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012







May the joy of the Lord always be our strength and may that peace which is beyond human understanding be with us all. Amen.