Sunday, 29 March 2015

What is A Muse?

"A Muse ... but is she Amused", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015
[Please forgive my silliness with the title -- I just couldn't help myself.  
The actual title is "The Muse".]


The inspiration for today's drawing came from a painting by E. J. Poynter entitled, "Erato Muse".  Let me explain a bit about the muses and Erato in particular.

For any of you who may not know, the muses are found in Greek Mythology and are the personification of knowledge and the arts, especially literature, dance and music.  They are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne and are sometimes referred to as water nymphs. The Muses were both the embodiment and sponsors of performed metrical speech called "Mousike" (hence the English term "music") which was just "one of the 'arts' of the Muses". Others included science, geography, mathematics, philosophy, and especially art, drama, and inspiration. Some authors invoke Muses when writing poetry, hymns or epic history. The invocation typically occurs at or near the beginning, and calls for help or inspiration, or simply invites the Muse to sing through the author. 

The particular muse known as Erato is the Muse of lyric poetry, especially love and erotic poetry. In the Orphic hymn to the Muses, it is Erato who charms the sight. Since the Renaissance she is often shown with a wreath of myrtle and roses, holding a lyre, or a small kithara, a musical instrument that mythology tells us was invented either by Apollo or, Erato, herself. 

As for the artist whose work inspired me, Sir Edward John Poynter was an English painter in the Neo-classical tradition as well as a designer and draughtsman.  If you want more information about him, see my posting of October 19, 2014.  In that posting the drawing I presented was inspired by another painting of his ... a painting I was attracted to, in particular, by the way he placed the woman's hands.  In this most recent drawing, I was, once again, drawn to Poynter's placement of hands. As you can see above, the model is shown resting her head against one hand while the other hand rests, lightly, on the top of a lyre.

As I have mentioned previously, hands continue to challenge and intrigue me.  They are, perhaps, for me, the most difficult of all visible body parts to draw convincingly.  Whenever I return to a drawing in order to re-work parts of it, I always end up re-drawing the hands in an effort to make them appear more like the real thing.

Today's drawing is one of three that I did of this same subject.  In one I have the Muse with wings like a water nymph.  In the other, I have placed a wreath of roses on her head.  Poynter's painting, which was my model for this drawing, shows the Muse with wings as well as with a wreath of myrtle leaves on her head.  Neither of these variations satisfied me which is why I ended up posting the final drawing of the Muse as a woman with a lyre and with a rather interesting hair-do!

  


Portions of the above text was taken from various Internet sources.

_________________________________________________________________



SUKI AND SALLIE



Suki is such a party animal!

The drawing of Suki to your left was the one I did when I was describing her bell-ringing trick.  In the original, posted a few weeks ago, Suki is shown ringing a large cow-bell.  

Since my drawings are done on the computer, I have the option of doing a "save as" and ending up with a second "original" which I can then change as I wish.  This is very good not only because I don't have to spend time doing the entire drawing again, but it is especially good because I don't have to try to get Suki to stand on her back feet again while trying to take a photo of her with my iPad. I mean, I do need a model to work from and Suki refuses to pose.  Play, yes; pose, no.

But what was the reason for my wanting to re-work this drawing? Well, my friend, Eugene, who has been mentioned more than a few times in my postings over the years, had a birthday this past week and so I decided to re-work the drawing of Suki in order to use it on his birthday card.  Eugene also has a delightful cat named Desi (about whom he could tell many stories) and, as well, Eugene is one of Suki's friends. So, it seemed appropriate to let Suki help him celebrate his birthday.

Suki, by the way is doing much the same as always. She has been reasonably well behaved this past week -- for which I am grateful.

As for me, there is nothing new to report.  I will be seeing the doctor this week, but it is just for my monthly check-up and more blood work.  I don't expect to find out anything of interest.


______________________________________________



PALM SUNDAY




"Icon -- The Agony", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, Revised 2015

Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be troubled and distressed. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch.” He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.” When he returned he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Withdrawing again, he prayed, saying the same thing. Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open and did not know what to answer him. He returned a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough. The hour has come. Behold, the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

Portion of Palm Sunday Gospel, Mark 14:1--15:47


Today's Gospel of the Passion always makes me think of that powerful scene from the stage play/movie "Jesus Christ Superstar" where the actor portraying Jesus sings "Gethsemane (I only want to say)".  The first time I watched that scene, listening to the words of this song, I sat there in the darkness of the theatre with tears streaming down my face -- and I'm a person who normally never cries over anything. Even now, whenever I listen to this song or watch it on You Tube, I have the same reaction. Why? Because I seem to be able to identify so deeply with the struggle implied in the lyrics. Let me share portions of that song with you:  



I only want to say, if there is a way, 
Take this cup away from me 
For I don't want to taste its poison 
Feel it burn me ... 
I'm not as sure as when we started 
Then I was inspired, now I'm sad and tired 
After all I've tried for three years 
Seems like thirty; no, more like ninety 
Why then am I scared to finish what we started? 
If I see the saga through and do the things you ask of me 
Let them hate me, hit me, hurt me, nail me to their tree 
Can you show me now that I would not be killed in vain? 
Oh, why should I die? 
God, Thy will is hard, but You hold every card 
I will drink Your cup of poison... 
Nail me to Your cross and break me 
Bleed me, beat me, kill me, take me, now 

Before I change my mind.


http://www.metrolyrics.com/gethsemane-i-only-want-to-say-lyrics-jesus-christ-superstar.html #ixzz3VabphGdz

I doubt that most of these particular sentiments were part of what Christ prayed during that night of agonizing prayer, but they are words that I can identify with.  By thus identifying, I am able to enter into His Passion just a bit.  I think back to the years when faith came easily, but now I am sad, tired and ill and nothing is easy anymore.  I am an old woman but instead of becoming easier, the struggle just becomes more and more difficult.  So I say:  "God, Your will is hard, but it must be done so that Your Kingdom may come in my life".


It is only in the acceptance of the present moment and all that it contains -- good or ill -- that I will find the peace I am seeking. So, may I have the courage to say "Thy Will be done; Thy Kingdom come" ,,, in my life and in the lives of all those I love; all those for whom I care; all those for whom I pray.

Peace be with you.  

Amen.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Couroupita guianensis - Cannonball Tree

"Couroupita guianensis - Cannonball Tree", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015


Back on February 8, 2010, I did a posting about the Cannonball Tree. It contained a drawing of the flower and buds of this Tree -- a drawing which was done well before I had learned a number of the techniques I now use in my art work. If you wish, you can take a look at the drawing and see just how amateurish it is – especially when compared with the drawing in today’s posting.

In actuality, that drawing no longer exists as it has disappeared from my art files, both back-up and current. I assume it was lost in the computer crash I experienced in 2011. So, since I could not even try to revise it, I decided to do a new drawing of the flowering part of this strange tree.  As well, I am repeating a bit of the information contained that that 2010 blog posting that might be of interest. 

The tree gets its name from the large, spherical fruit it produces. These fruit fall from the tree and crack open when they hit the ground, often causing a sound like a small explosion. So, "like coconut palms, the trees should not be planted near paths or near traffic-filled areas, as the heavy fruit is known to fall without notice." The fruit emits an unpleasant aroma when exposed to the air. 
Section of Couroupita guianensis tree.
Just look at the size of those "cannonballs"
You certainly wouldn't want one of
them falling on your head!  Ouch!


The strange looking flowers are found on thick, tangled extrusions that grow on the trunk of the tree, just below the foliage branches. These extrusions can range from two to six feet in length. The flowers are attached to an upwardly bent, white, fleshy disk. The flowers have a number of petals which are large, orange-red and strongly perfumed. I suppose this helps to cover up the bad smell of the ripe fruit! 

The Cannonball Tree, proper name, Couroupita guianensis (Family, Lecythidaceae), is commonly found in the area of the Amazon Basin. It is native to Guiana in South America. It is also found in India where it is grown extensively in Shiva temples. 

The various parts of this tree possesses antibiotic, anti-fungal, antiseptic and analgesic qualities. Local medicines are made from the tree for the treatment of colds and stomach aches. The juice from the leaves is used to cure skin diseases. The inside of the stinky fruit can disinfect wounds and young leaves ease toothache. Personally, I would rather have some non-stinky pills from my local pharmacist!



Some of the above information was taken from Wikipedia.  _____________________________________________________ 



BRADEN AND RONÀN  



Brothers





____________________________________________________________________________



SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki sitting and staring at me!
Do you know what it is like to be stared at by a cat -- I mean really stared at?

Suki is wickedly great at staring. I mean, she can keep it up for longer than you can imagine -- sometimes until it becomes unbearable. Why does she stare at me? Normally, her staring has to do with her desire to be fed!

Suki knows that I will give her a small portion of her favourite food four times a day. These times, as I have mentioned previously, are 6 a.m., 12 noon, 6 p.m. and somewhere between 11 - 12 p.m. And, even though she knows that I am very strict about keeping to that schedule, she still starts her "feed me now" campaign 30 to 40 minutes before the designated time.  This is how she proceeds....

At first, she finds me (if she is not already sitting in my lap) and tries purring and rubbing her face against my leg or arm or whatever body part is most available.  When my only response to this is a definite "no", she moves on to meowing. These meows sound so pitiful that if someone from the Humane Society was listening, they would probably charge me with animal abuse. 
When my only response to the "meows" is a louder and even more definite "no", Suki moves on to staring.

By this time, it is still 20 to 30 minutes before feeding time, and Suki manages to find some place to sit where she can easily see me and I can easily see her and the staring begins.  From this point on, Suki seldom blinks and her gaze is intense and unwavering. Minute by minute she sits and stares while I try to continue with whatever it is I am doing. As the time slowly passes, however, it becomes more and more difficult for me refrain from looking up and staring back.

Just think about this for a minute...  before the 6 a.m. feeding, I may be awakened by Suki's noise-making efforts, but after yelling at her, I am usually able to go right back to sleep.  Then she may awaken me again by sitting by the side of the bed and plaintively meowing, but once again, after an even louder yell, I usually return to sleep quickly.  However, when I am finally awakened by pressure on my chest and open my eyes to see Suki sitting on my chest and staring at me, I usually find it impossible not to stay awake and stare back. 

So often, morning, noon and night, I find myself giving in -- the staring become unbearable -- and I end up feeding Suki 10 minutes early. When I give in, you can see how proud she looks as she walks slowly, tail fully erect, into the kitchen. Sometimes, however, I am able to hold out and make her wait until the exact moment designated as her feeding time. When this happens, I feel very proud of myself  -- as though I have won some kind of battle.

You might ask why I put myself through such discomfort in order to keep to this rigid schedule.  I do it because I really care about Suki. I know how easy it would be to fall into the practice of feeding her whenever she feels hungry; however, I also know how fat she would get and how unhealthy that would make her.  Not only would that extra weight make her arthritis worse, but it might also damage her heart and kidneys.

So, let the staring contests continue.  I am more determined than ever to discipline myself to out-stare Suki.  I will be victorious (at least some of the time)!

Otherwise, I continue with the same problems as usual.  Some symptoms seem to be getting a bit worse, but that is to be expected. I would ask you to continue to send healing thoughts and prayers out on behalf of the person I referred to in last Sunday's posting. Thanks.



____________________________________________________



FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT



"Icon -- When I am Lifted Up...", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, rev. 2015


“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.  JN 12:27-33

"When I am lifted up, I will draw everyone to Myself".  What a powerful statement made just a moment after saying: "I am troubled ... Should I say 'Father, save me from this hour'?.. But it is for this purpose that I have come to this hour." I read this and try to imagine how I would feel, what I would say, if I knew that within a few days or weeks I would be dead.  How "troubled" would I be?

I like to think that I would be able to face the prospect of my death with calm faith; however, what I imagine I would do and what I end up actually doing have often proven to be quite different.  I tell myself that I do not fear dying and I really believe that to be true.  I do acknowledge that I would be quite anxious about such news as is natural to our human nature when facing the unknown, but I think that anxiety is somehow different from fear. Only time will tell, as I come face to face with the reality of my own death, what I actually believe and how well that belief translates into behaviour.

As we get ever nearer to the memorial of that terribly bad day we call good -- Good Friday -- let us ask for the hope and faith we need so that we may continue to hope that: 
whether we are raised to the heights or thrown down to the depths, whether our lives are filled with sorrow or joy, 
whether we live or 
whether we die -- 
Love will prevail.

Amen. 


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Imagination

"Reading Gives Life to the Imagination", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015


Today's rather fanciful drawing was inspired by a painting entitled, "The Fairy Tale", by Walter (or Walther) Firle.  His painting shows three young girls sitting on a sofa in what appears to be a living room while reading a book of fairy tales. Since Firle's painting is a serious work, there are no fairies to be found!  

Firle, born in 1859, was the son of a well-to-do German merchant in Wrocław (Breslau, Germany) Poland -- a city located in the Silesian Lowlands of Central Europe. Although he received painting lessons as a child, his father expected him to eventually work with him in his company. As a young man, Walther did briefly work for his father; however, in 1879, against the will of his parents, he became a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. As an artist, Firle became known for portraits and genre works. His portraits of various rulers were used on Bavarian stamps. Firle died in 1929 at the age of 70.


As I worked on this drawing, I kept thinking about the comments I made in my posting for Sunday, March 1, 2015, entitled "Young Girl Reading.  There I spoke, briefly, about the joy of escaping into the world described in the books I read while growing up.  These books gave me real relief from the very difficult and dangerous reality of my home life. Using my imagination, for a few hours I could be somewhere else -- be someone else -- and the world I inhabited in those books, while sometimes filled with fanciful creatures such as fairies or elves, was always a world where people were safe, protected and loved.  I truly do not think I would have made it through the first 18 years of my life, or retained even a semblance of sanity after living through those years, without books which inspired my imagination.

Of course, knowing how this helped me makes me all the more concerned about the many young people I now know who almost never read a book.  It's true that they watch movies, TV shows and play video games, but it seems to me that these require very little imagination in comparison to books.  With pictures, words and actions all supplied for you, you don't need to develop the gift of imagination -- yet, it is imagination that enabled me to have a safe place to which I could run whenever reality became unbearable.  I wonder where these young people run to in their heads when they are confronted by suffering. Is their imagination sufficiently developed so that they can escape for a while but still find their way back to reality when they need to?  

Ah, well... these are just the ramblings of an old lady. Knowing how inventive our minds can be, I am sure that people will find their own way to bear the unbearable.  However, I still can't help but feel a bit saddened each time I meet someone who doesn't seem to have a well-developed imagination.  



Most of the information on Walter Firle was taken from Wikipedia
_____________________________________________________


THE ANATOMY OF A SMILE
by RONÀN



1.
"Oh, there you are...







    2.
...I'm so glad to see you...
3.

...I feel so much better when I see your face...









   4.
...in fact, you make me very, very happy!"























BRADEN -- NEW PHOTO



Don't be fooled by my angelic, good looks!





____________________________________________________________________________



SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki watching a crazy lady (me) 
taking her photo!
Suki has developed a new game.  I am uncertain whether she created this game because she enjoys it or because she knows it annoys me.

The game is very simple and requires only a boot tray and a strip of paper toweling.  [For those of you who do not live in a place where it snows in the winter, let me explain that a "boot tray" is a large, plastic tray where people put there wet boots, shoes, umbrellas, etc. when they come into your home. In this part of the world it is considered a basic courtesy to remove your footwear, even if it hasn't been snowing or raining, when you come into anyone's home and you would especially want to remove your footwear if it was muddy or
Photo of a boot tray taken
from the Internet.

Source unknown.

covered in melting snow and slush.] I have a boot tray near the front door in the wintertime and I like to keep a clean strip of paper toweling on the tray to help soak up the melting snow from visitors' boots.  After the visitors have left, I remove the wet paper toweling and put down a new strip so that the tray is ready for the next set of visitors.


This winter, for some unknown reason, Suki has decided to make a game out of removing the clean strip of paper toweling from the boot tray and moving it elsewhere! She does this in such a way that I have to assume she is playing some sort of game.  I mean, she doesn't just come over and push the toweling off the tray, she attacks it, pushing it first one way and then another with her paws. Next, she pounces and pushes until she has removed the toweling from the tray.  Then she continues this pouncing and pushing until the strip of toweling is on the other side of my apartment's foyer.  

The most interesting part of all of this is the fact that she never destroys the strip of paper toweling!  It may end up folded over on itself several times and even have a few claw marks in it, but she leaves it basically intact. This means that each time I notice what she has done, I am able to place the same strip back onto the boot tray.  There it stays until the next time Suki feels the urge to "play the game".  

Of course, each time I have to pick up the strip and place it on the tray, I yell loudly. At which point, Suki looks at me with that cat look which says: "Are you speaking to me?  I have no idea what you are talking about. Please go yell somewhere else -- I am try to sleep after all!" Sometimes, I even catch her in the act and yell at her while shooing her away from the boot tray, but sooner or later, she sneaks back and plays the game all over again.

So, you can see my dilemma: is this really a game or is it something Suki does because she knows it annoys me?  It is probably a bit of both. It may have started as simply a new way to entertain herself -- I mean, cats do love to pounce on things and push this around -- but then she discovered how aggravating I find the whole business. I think this second aspect inspired Suki to continue her "game" long after she might have become bored with it as she often seems to "play" it soon after she has begged me to feed her and I have sternly replied: "No! No! No!  Now, go on and do something else -- it's still an hour before meal time." Really makes you wonder, doesn't it?  I mean, if cats didn't require 16 hours of sleep a day, they actually might rule the world!

As for me, I continue to manage reasonably well with the help of Joycelyn.  The only appointment I have anytime soon is at the hospital on Sunday, the 22nd, so I will have to make certain that I get my new addition to the blog posted well before time for me to leave.

I will say that I have had some very distressing news this past week about someone very close to me and I find it difficult to focus as I prepare today's posting.  Since it is not my place to identify this person or their problems, I would just ask the following: if you believe in the possible efficacy of prayer, please pray for "someone close to Sallie who has received some very bad news" -- asking that they may "have the strength and courage to change what can be changed and accept what cannot".  Thank you.


_________________________________________________


FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT (LAETARE SUNDAY)




"Icon -- Crucifixion -- God So Loved", by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009, rev.2015

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Jn 3:14-21

This passage contains one of the best known, but, in my opinion, least understood passages in the New Testament: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life." Why do I say "least understood"?  Because I am not sure that the majority of us have ever really comprehended the meaning of the word "believes".

We should really have another English word for the absolute-faith-unto-the-shedding-of-blood-and-even-unto-death kind of believing that I think Christ is talking about in this verse. The promise of eternal life, I think, is made by Him for those with that kind of belief/faith. I don't think this was meant to be a statement to make us feel all warm and fuzzy. 

Remember, Christ was speaking to a man who came to Him in secret because he was afraid for his reputation, afraid of what others would think.  Nicodemus must have been terrified when he learned that to follow the promptings of his heart, he was going to have to give up his reputation, his standing in the community, perhaps his family and friends and, possibly, his very life.

May we accept the grace we need in order to believe with the absolute-faith-unto-the-shedding-of-blood-and-even-unto-death kind of belief.  The kind of belief that will probably lead us to the cross, but will, God willing, eventually lead us to the gift of eternal life -- an eternal life in the embrace of Him who loved us so much that He gave us His only Son.

Amen. 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Floral "Extras"

"Ipomoea pes-caprae -- Beach morning-glory", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014


I often do quick drawings or sketches of things that interest me -- most often flowers. Sometimes, I go back and finish these sketches and sometimes I don't. As well, some of the drawings that I finish don't satisfy me for whatever reason and so I end up not using them in my regular blog postings. Why don't I use them?

Well, often either the drawing itself or the background information I can gather about the particular plant, leaves me dissatisfied and so I put the drawing aside, telling myself that I will return to it another day. Also, if I do a drawing of a flower I have previously featured on my blog, I figure that I don't need to do another posting about it.

At any rate, drawings get put aside and just sit there in my backup files. This week, I decided that it would be fun for me to post four of these drawings: the beach morning glory, the scarlet pimpernel, the Clematis vine and the Voodoo (or Dragon) Lily.

The first drawing (see beginning of post) is Ipomoea pes-caprae also known as Beach Morning Glory or Goat's Foot. It is a common, tropical, creeping vine belonging to the family Convolvulaceae. It grows on the upper parts of beaches and easily endures salt air. Convolvulus, the family name for all morning glory plants, is from the Latin convolvere, meaning to twine around. Ipomoea, the genus name, is Greek (ιπομοεαfor morning glory. The species name, pes-caprae is Latin for Goat's foot and refers to the shape of the leaves.    




"Anagallis arvensis/Scarlet Pimpernel with Butterflies"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015




For more information about the Scarlet Pimpernel just take a look at my posting for Sunday, January 25, 2015.


  

"Clematis jackmanii -- Purple Clematis", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014



Clematis jackmanii is a Clematis cultivar which, when it was introduced in 1862, was the first of the modern large-flowered hybrid versions of Clematis. It is a climber with large violet-purple blooms, still among the most familiar climbers seen in gardens. It was produced by the prominent nurseryman George Jackman (1837–1887), of Great Britain. Clematis jackmanii arose from a cross between Clematis lanuginosa and an earlier garden hybrid, Clematis x hendersonii, which the new hybrid eclipsed.  The name, Clematis, comes from the Greek word meaning "vine branch".




"Dracunculus vulgaris -- Voodoo or Dragon Lily", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014



Dracunculus vulgaris is a member of the family, Araceae, and is commonly called such names as the Voodoo Lily, the Dragon Lily, the Dragon Arum and the Stink Lily. It is native to the Balkans, with its range extending as far as Greece, Crete, the Aegean Islands and the south-western parts of Anatolia. 

The species is characterized by a large purple spathe (reproductive organ of the plant) and spadix (a modified leaf that encloses the spadix), which has a very unpleasant smell reminiscent of rotting meat which the plant uses to attract flies as pollinators. The large leaves have occasional cream flecks along the veins. The genus name Dracunculus means “little dragon”; while the species name vulgaris is Latin for “common”.


So, there you have it.  I hope that one of the above drawings strikes your fancy!



Portions of the above information were taken from Wikipedia and other Internet sources.

______________________________________________________________________________



RONÀN AND BRADEN




Ronàn and Braden -- brothers propped up in Mom and Dad's bed and looking 
very pleased with themselves!





____________________________________________________________________________



SUKI AND SALLIE



A new portrait of Suki.  She looks very mature
and well-behaved.  
Photos can be deceptive!
Well, believe it or not, Suki has been relatively well behaved this past week. There have been no efforts to get me to wake up before the regular time, no unexpected messes to clean up and only a limited number of attacks on my ankles as I move from one place to another.

Suki even allowed me to take some new photos of her.  She sat still long enough so that I could take a "portrait" photo and, even while being playful and somewhat silly, she allowed me to photograph her without attacking anything!

As you can see above, I turned the "portrait" photo into a "drawing".  I like this new drawing very much and plan to make a large print of it for framing.


Suki is just about ready to launch an attack on the feather
duster with which I was taunting her.  This is one of her
favourite games! 

The photo at the right shows a very alert Suki. I had just tried to sneak up on her with a feather duster in my hand.  The feather duster, by the way, has never been used for dusting and was purchased long ago as a toy for my late and lamented kitty, miz k.d. When Suki arrived, it became her toy.  

Fortunately, my helper, Joycelyn, was here at the time so I was able to hand off the duster to her while I grabbed a quick photo of Suki. If my hands were less painful, I would have been able to keep holding the camera and, perhaps, have gotten a photo of Suki as she leapt from the chair, trying to grab the feather duster. Then, as Sherlock Holmes was wont to say:  "the game was afoot"!

So you see, even in the midst of my pain and discomfort, I find some happy moments thanks to Suki, my family and friends -- for which I am very grateful.

I did have another medical appointment this past week where more blood was taken.  Fortunately, I always seem to have enough blood to share on my frequent appointments at the clinic where the lab technicians are waiting with their ever-present needles! This visit was just for a follow-up and more blood work so there is nothing new to report at the moment.  Thankfully, I have no appointments of any kind scheduled for this week.

My only new complaint at the moment is about the hour I lost last night due to the switch over from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time. I would really like the opportunity to speak harshly to Mr. Hudson of New Zealand who is credited with first getting folks excited about this nonsensical idea -- unfortunately, he died in 1946!  Of course, like most unpleasant things in life, there is nothing I can do to change it now so I may as well just accept it.  

I will just say, however, that I did not like having to set my alarm clock before going to bed last night in order to make certain that I was up in time to take my morning pills. Usually, Suki is all the alarm clock I need, but since Suki does not recognize Daylight Savings Time she wouldn't have started trying to awaken me until the clock was showing 6:30 (it would be 5:30 as far as she was concerned) and I need to take my morning medication at 6 a.m. What a crazy life.



________________________________________________



THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT



"Christ Teaching in the Temple", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013, rev 2015



Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” .....................
While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well. John 2:13-16, 23-25


I have often found it interesting to try to imagine this scene in the temple at Jerusalem.  How shocked all these buyers and sellers must have been as this seemingly ordinary man calmly made a whip and drove them and their livestock out of the temple. This was not someone acting in the passion of the moment -- I mean He took the time to make a "whip of cords".  

So, He must have been acting deliberately without that anger and passion that leads us, so often, to wound and even kill one another. Yet, Christ must have made quite an impression because the story implies that they all went running -- but there is no indication that anyone was hurt in the process.  We are told that Christ said: "take these things out of here and stop making My Father's House a marketplace."  Did He speak these words forcefully but sadly?  I think He did.

However, the part of today's Gospel which I have always found most fascinating is the final part where we are told that Christ would not trust Himself to these new followers as "he knew them all and did not need anyone to testify about human nature -- He ... understood it well."

So, I am known by Him and I am known in all my weakness, greed, duplicity and sin.  He, wisely, does not trust Himself to me but asks me, pitiful as I am, to trust myself to Him.  Can I really believe that the only way to be changed into the person I desire to be is to trust myself to Him? And what does it mean to "trust myself to Him"?

May we all be granted the desire to trust ourselves to that which is Greater -- He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life -- whether we understand what that means or not.  May we, as we begin to trust, find the peace that we all are seeking. 

Amen.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Young Girl Reading

"Girl Reading at Bedtime", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015


This week's drawing was inspired by a painting entitled "Story Book" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.  You may recall an earlier drawing of mine which I posted on November 2, 2014, entitled "Young Girl with a Pomegranate". That drawing was also inspired by a work of Bouguereau. 
"Girl with a Pomegranate", drawing
by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014


In that posting I included quite of bit of information about Bouguereau. Here are a few of those facts:

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825–1905) was a French academic painter and traditionalist. He was born at La Rochelle, France in 1825, into a family of wine and olive oil merchants. When he showed artistic talent early on, his father was convinced by a client to send him to the École des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux. Young Bouguereau found ways to earn money with his art and with this money plus some from his aunt, he was able to go to Paris and became a student at the École des Beaux-Arts. To supplement his formal training in drawing, he attended anatomical dissections and studied historical costumes and archaeology. During his life he enjoyed significant popularity in France and the United States, was given numerous official honours and received top prices for his work. However, as the quintessential salon painter of his generation, he was reviled by the Impressionists such as Claude Monet, Édouard Manet and Henri Matisse. In 1905, William-Adolphe Bouguereau died from heart disease at his home in La Rochelle.
If you want more details, check my posting for November 2nd or take a look at his bio on Wikipedia.

Although I was never allowed to read at bedtime when I was a girl, I did develop the habit once I had left home.  How enjoyable it can be for anyone who loves to read to get all propped up in bed with a well-written book telling a gentle story (no murder mysteries at bedtime, please!).  You know you will probably fall asleep while reading, but that's OK.  I know a lot of folks like to watch TV before falling asleep, but I always find that TV programming with its constant commercials always leaves my head too full of stuff and sometimes that stuff keeps me from falling asleep at all.

If you look closely at the drawing above, you will see that the title of the book the girl is reading is "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  These days most people know this author's work from the "Little House on the Prairie" TV series.  But in my childhood there was no television so I read the entire series of her books, all 8 of them, every summer, faithfully, and each year I pictured myself as Laura and tried to imagine what it must have been like to have lived on the American frontier during the second half of the 1800s. 

If I had been allowed to read at bedtime as a young girl, I would certainly have been reading those books.  As it was, I had to sneak and read them during the day while my father was at work.  I would race through all the chores he had left for me to do and then spend a few precious hours with my books, lost in the world the author created with her words. 


_______________________________________________



BRADEN AND RONÀN UPDATE



Braden and friend at nap-time.  Look at those beautiful eyelashes ladies!




Braden says:  Yummy chocolate!  Thanks Mom.




Ronàn looking so happy.  What a beautiful guy!



_____________________________________________________________________



SUKI AND SALLIE



"Suki ringing the bell", drawing
by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015
When something happens that you never expected to happen, it is always quite a shock.  We have all had experiences in our lives when we have been confronted by the totally unexpected and the surprise of the moment has usually left us momentarily confused and almost uncomprehending. We end up saying to ourselves, "this can't be happening; it's impossible."
This describes how I felt this morning when I was awakened out of a deep sleep by the loud ringing of a cow bell. 

Some time ago, a friend gave me a cow bell -- a real cow bell like the "leader" of our small herd of cattle wore around her neck on my family's farm. The bell was given as a joke-y sort of gift.  She said it was to remind me of my happy days on the farm (she knows full well that they were anything but happy)!  At any rate, after we had laughed over her foolishness, I put the bell in a drawer and forgot about it.  

A few months ago, however, I came across the bell and decided that it would be fun to hang it from a hook by the balcony door. My thought was that when warmer weather returns (please God may that be soon) and I have the balcony door open, then the breeze might occasionally gently move the bell and provide me with a pleasant sound.  

In years past I would never have considered doing this because I would have been concerned that Suki might discover it and think it was a new toy.  Now, though, I felt it was safe to hang the bell as Suki has been totally dis-inclined to stand on her hind legs ever since she was diagnosed with arthritis in her hip joints.  So I put a cup hook in the door frame at a point that I thought was well beyond Suki's reach and hung the bell.

Suki seemed to not even notice what I had done and as the weeks passed without any obvious attempts on her part to reach the bell, I thought all was safe.  I guess she was just waiting for me to become complacent because this morning, I was awakened to the loud clanging of a cow bell!!!

As I said above, I was sleeping deeply and so when the bell started ringing, I must have tried desperately to incorporate the sound in my dreams so that I wouldn't have to wake up.  But the noise was too loud and went on for too long for that to work and so I came to consciousness confused and uncomprehending.  As the sleepiness quickly cleared and I turned towards the source of the noise, I simply could not believe my own eyes.  There was Suki standing on her hinds legs, reaching upwards, with one paw on the door frame and the other being used to push that blessed bell again and again.  Of course, I immediately began to yell all sorts of imprecations (which I cannot repeat in a family-type blog posting) which caused Suki to run and hide under her favourite chair!

I was so shocked by this turn of events that I had to sit there for several minutes afterwards trying to take it all in.  I mean, this is the same cat who is still occasionally seen limping around, favouring her right hip particularly.  Standing on her hind legs must have been extremely painful for her and yet, her desire to get me up, out of bed and into the kitchen was strong enough to cause her to push through the pain to achieve her goal.  What a cat!

By the way, the cow bell is now back in the drawer where it will remain.

So, other than being awakened from sleep in strange and unusual ways, I am doing much the same.  As my disease continues to worsen, I am trying to be realistic about my future needs.  So, I have made the decision to put my name on the waiting list at my favourite long-term care facility just in case my need for such a place arrives sooner rather than later.  I am also going to be discussing the possibility of spinal surgery with my doctor when I see her this week -- it's risky, but if it works, it would give me the opportunity to live a more normal life again.  I will keep you informed.


_______________________________________________



SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT


"Icon -- The Transfiguration", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014 rev.



Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.   Mk 9:2-10

What an experience this must have been for these three simple men! Let me repeat what I had to say about Suki and the cow bell in the section above: 
We have all had experiences in our lives when we have been confronted by the totally unexpected and the surprise of the moment has usually left us ... confused and almost uncomprehending. We end up saying to ourselves, "this can't be happening; it's impossible." 

Not only had Peter, James and John witnessed the impossible, they had been told to expect an occurrence that was even more impossible: "rising from the dead".  Had I experienced such an event in this day and time, I would just naturally assume that someone had slipped an LSD tab into my food!

When I read this passage and am confronted by all this stuff that seems so impossible, I find myself overwhelmed with confusion and lack of comprehension -- just as these disciples must have.  So, I usually try to focus on the one line in this account that makes total sense to me, something is is anything but confusing:  "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him."

May we all listen to these words of God -- the God who is Love. Christ came to reveal this God to us by His words and, especially, by His actions.  Thus, may we come to know and believe in this Love, thereby, finding the peace all our hearts are seeking.

Amen.