Sunday, 29 November 2015

More Gazanias

"Gazania -- Fiesta Red and Other Bits and Pieces -- Kaleidoscope"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015



Remember last week when I said that I was fascinated with the geometric designs of Clumping Gazanias and that I would probably be drawing more of them? Well, as you can see, I wasn't fooling! 

The first drawing I want to show you, "Gazania ... Kaleidoscope", (see above) is actually my attempt to create the view inside a kaleidoscope. Using another new flower drawing, "Ganazia 'Fiesta Red' " (see below), I combined it with various bits and pieces from last week's featured drawing of another Gazania. I was inspired to try this by coming across an artist's rendering of the inside of a kaleidoscope which included Gazania-type flowers.

(Sadly, since I do not find the results of my attempt at creating the view inside a kaleidoscope to be very satisfying, I will probably be posting additional attempts to get it right! I apologize in advance.)



Kaleidoscope image, public domain
To the right is a public domain image from an actual kaleidoscope. It reminds me of the many lovely images that I could create with the kaleidoscope I possessed during my childhood.  I would spend hours turning and turning it until my hands grew weary from the motion.  Now, of course, you can find programs online which create even more stunning patterns and combinations than those available to me with the old hand-held model. Anyway, enough about kaleidoscopes. Let me show you the flower drawing for this week.





"Gazania 'Fiesta Red' (Gazania rigens)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015



Here is the actual flower drawing that I did of another Gazania,  'Fiesta Red'. As I told you in last week's posting, Gazania is a genus of flowering plants in the Asteraceae (Daisy) family. The genus is native to South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Tanzania and Angola. Additionally, species are naturalized in Australia, New Zealand, and the western USA. Gazanias are grown for the brilliant colour of their flowers which appear in the late spring and early summer. Clumping Gazanias have a number of names including 'Aztec', 'Burgundy', 'Copper King', 'Fiesta Red', 'Goldrush' and 'Moonglow'.  

Even though I remain fascinated with the patterns found in the various Gazania flowers, I promise that next week's blog posting will not contain any new Gazanias -- not even the Gazania "mandala" on which I am currently working! 








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FAMILY



I rarely show photos of my family members as I feel that they should be the ones to choose what to share on social media. However, one of their recent photos is so lovely that I felt I really wanted to share it with you all.

It shows my great-niece with her brother.  He is a child with special needs and he is greatly loved by the whole family -- especially his big sister.  I think the photo says it all.


My great-niece and great-nephew at a beach in Florida last summer.




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SUKI AND SALLIE




Suki considering what her next move will be!
This past week, Suki spent more time in the bedroom closet than usual -- poor kitty.

On Monday, the day that Joycelyn does the big cleaning, it was the new vacuum that drove her there. This new vacuum does an absolutely wonderful job of picking up cat hair -- especially off the rugs; however, it also makes a very interesting noise when it is doing so! Suki does not like this noise and so she has concluded that it is probably safer to hide out in the bedroom closet while this particular "monster" is present. 

Then, the building management decided that this would be the week for changing the filters in our heating and cooling systems. This meant that on Wednesday afternoon there was suddenly the sound of loud knocking on the front door.  Loud knocking always causes Suki to leap up from where she is resting and begin growling menacingly as she moves sideways towards the bedroom. As soon as I called out: "who is it?", Suki made a mad dash for the bedroom closet.  I could hear her scrambling over the boxes on the floor as she headed to the very back where her hide-away is located.

Then on Friday, there was a great deal of banging and clanging out in the hallway -- I think the workmen must have been doing something in the large electrical closet which is located directly across from my apartment.  I could see Suki was on edge but she did not make a mad dash for the bedroom until one the workers ending up accidentally bumping against my front door. Then, off she went!

The funny thing about Suki and the bedroom closet is that even if the vacuum noise stops completely or the noisy workman have left the area, she still stays in the closet for a long period of time.  I'm not sure if she stays there because she just falls asleep or if she remains hidden because she believes that even if the monster is not making noise, it may still be waiting for her. Perhaps "better safe than sorry" is her motto!

As for me, I ended up having to attend two medical appointments this past week.  The first one was on Wednesday and involved a test which had to be performed in the out-patient, surgery unit. Thankfully, it did not require sedation or anesthesia. The other appointment was just a follow-up.  Also, I had a good visit with my friend Sharon as well as phone calls from some of the special people in my life.

Otherwise, things remain much the same: not great, but still bearable. Thank goodness I have Suki around to keep things interesting!






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FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT




"Icon -- Christ, the Son of Man", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015 rev.



Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth, nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; people dying of fear as they await what menaces the world. For the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect; hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand. 
“Watch yourselves or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life and that day will be sprung on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come down on every living person on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:25-28,34-36



“Watch yourselves or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life...”  Christ mentions three things in this verse with which we should be concerned: debauchery, drunkenness and the cares of life. 

Debauchery means an excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures. Drunkenness is defined as being in a state in which one's faculties are impaired by an excess of alcoholic drink (or any other drug for that matter). The "cares of this life" refers to the human inclination to worry excessively about the problems we currently face while imagining even worse things happening in the future. So, what is Christ saying? I think He is saying that the excess of these things can control us so completely that we forget all about what is really important in life -- loving Him, our neighbour and ourselves.

If we are daily seeking to always act as lovingly as possible by not abusing others or ourselves then we don't have to worry about "that Day".  We remain ready for "that Day" whether it is the day of our death or the day the world ends.

Prayer:

May I move lovingly and peacefully through life and when I fail -- as I will, frequently -- may I quickly pick myself up from my self-pity and my foolish feelings of failure and return once again to seeking to live my life lovingly. And if there must be an excess of anything in my life may it be an excess of kindness.

Amen.


Sunday, 22 November 2015

Clumping Gazania (Gazania rigens)

"Clumping Gazania (Gazania rigens) -- Stylized?", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015



To me, Clumping Gazanias look as though they were lovingly designed through the combined efforts of Euclid and Rene Descartes -- the masters of geometry. The designs are so carefully arranged that even when I draw an ordinary Gazania, it looks as though I have purposely made it look stylized!  



"Clumping Gazania (Gazania rigens) -- Spiral", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015



Then, when I take the image of this flower that looks stylized in spite of itself, both the blossom and its petals easily form other geometric-type shapes.  Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me.

Gazania is a genus of flowering plants in the Asteraceae (Daisy) family. The genus is native to South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Tanzania and Angola. Additionally, species are naturalized in Australia, New Zealand, and the western USA. They are widely cultivated as ornamental garden plants as the gardeners among you are well aware. 

Gazanias are grown for the brilliant colour of their flowers which appear in the late spring and early summer. They prefer a sunny position and are tolerant of poor soils and little rainfall. Clumping Gazanias have a number of names including 'Aztec', 'Burgundy', 'Copper King', 'Fiesta Red', 'Goldrush' and 'Moonglow'. 

Gazanias were named for Theodorus of Gaza, a 15th-century Italian scholar and translator of the botanical treatises of Theophrastus. The species name of rigens comes from the Latin and means frozen, stiff or rigid.

I really enjoyed trying to draw this flower and still want to try to draw a few more variations including seeking to make other geometric or kaleidoscope-type patterns with the flowers and their petals.  I feel certain that you will be seeing more Gazanias in the near future!





Some of the above information was taken from Wikipedia
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SUKI AND SALLIE




Suki in my chair -- unhappy at being awakened by me --
especially as she knows I am just about to move her,
once again, back to her own chair!
I must say that I had no idea that Suki could pursue something so aggressively...  I am talking about my recliner -- the one I told you about last week when I described how I was having to "fight" with Suki over whose chair it really is.


Well, I thought things were bad enough when I posted my blog this past Sunday; however, they have only gotten worse!

By Tuesday of this past week, things had reached the point where every time I got up from my recliner -- even for just a couple of minutes -- I was returning to find Suki curled up in the seat, pretending to be sound asleep.  So, in order to sit down in my recliner once again, I have had to pick up all 13 lbs. of Suki and transfer her from my chair to one of her chairs.  Recalling the state of the joints in my fingers, hands and arms, you will know that this would be a very painful task for me.

I am really not certain as to what I shall do in order to fix this problem.  I could simply push Suki off of my chair onto the floor each time I find her there, but then I know, from past experience, that she would just sit there, staring at me with those piercing cat eyes for the next 15 minutes or so -- making me feel very uncomfortable.  Or, I could get another recliner, but I really hate to have to spend $800 or so for a chair I don't really want just because my cat is fighting with me over who gets to sit in the recliner I already possess.

I have briefly considered various other options such as attaching a mild electrical charge to the seat of the recliner with an on/off switch.  This way I could turn on the current whenever I got out of my chair and then poor Suki would be unpleasantly surprised when she tried to take possession of the chair.  Of course, I immediately rejected the idea -- not only because it would be a cruel thing to do to poor Suki, but, knowing me, I would most likely forget I had turned the electricity on and, upon returning to the chair, would end up giving that rather unpleasant surprise to myself instead.

Briefly, I also considered putting a halter and leash on Suki so that I could take her with me whenever I got up from my recliner thus preventing her from taking possession of my chair. However, I recalled immediately how once, some years ago, I tried to see how Suki would respond to wearing a collar and leash.  The collar she appeared to be willing to tolerate, but the leash was another matter. As soon as it went on -- halter and all -- she simply plopped herself down on the floor and refused to budge.  The only way I could have moved her would have been to drag her along the floor -- another cruel thing which I would never do to poor Suki.

So, here I am, faced with another impasse without a sensible solution in hand.  What to do? What to do?  For the moment it seems the only thing I can do is move Suki back to her chair each time I return to my own chair.  If any of you faithful readers out there can think of any other solutions, please, please pass them along... my arthritis pain and I would be eternally grateful!

Otherwise, things remain much the same for me.  I do have a rather unpleasant medical test coming up this week -- it will be done in the out-patient, surgical unit at the hospital.  How I wish medicine had developed along the lines of that portrayed in the various Star Trek series. Those doctors just had to move a light bar of some kind over the body and all its secrets were revealed.  Oh, well, I guess I will just have to endure our currently more primitive methods for exploratory procedures.




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CHRIST THE KING




"Icon -- Christ the King, Rev. 2015", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer




‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ Pilate asked. Jesus replied, ‘Do you ask this of your own accord, or have others spoken to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? It is your own people and the chief priests who have handed you over to me: what have you done?’ Jesus replied, ‘Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this kind.’ ‘So you are a king then?’ said Pilate. ‘It is you who say it’ answered Jesus. ‘Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.’  John 18:33-37



I have always been very impressed by one particular line in this passage: "...I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth..."

Could one of the greatest sins possibly be: "being a phony?" 

As I look back over my long lifetime, I can see now that I have spent most of it trying to hide from the truth of who and what I am. So much of the time I have tried to be what I believed I needed to be in order for others to love me, like me and include me in their "tribe". In other words, I was living a deception, a lie, not the truth.

It has taken me 75 years to reach the point where I am willing to risk exposing the truth about who and what I am even if it means having people dislike me or walk away from me in anger.  Each human being, like every created thing in the universe, is absolutely unique. So, it seems reasonable to me to believe that we each have a unique aspect of the Truth of express in our lives and we can only do the job properly by seeking to bear witness to our truth. Otherwise, we waste our lives trying to live someone else's truth and, in doing so, lose our opportunity to live a meaningful life.

I pray that I will never forget again that I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth. May I always bear witness by being that loving, kind, generous person God created me to be -- and may you also do the same.

Amen. 


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Pachystachys / Justicia coccinea

"Pachystachys / Justicia coccinea -- Cardinal's Guard"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015


Pachystachys or Justicia -- that is the question.  This plant, with its thick spikes of brightly-coloured, red flowers, is found under one genus name or the other or both!

The confusion started back in 1775 when Jean Baptiste Christian Rocket-Aublet described this plant in the "Histoire de plantes de la Guinée française" (Volume 1, page 10), assigning it the Latin name of Justicia coccinea. However, Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck then reclassified this plant under its present name of Pachystachys coccinea in 1847, as published in the "Naturalis Prodromus systematis Regni Vegetabilis" of Alphonse de Candolle (Volume 11, page 319).

Pachystachys, is derived from the Greek for "thick spike" in reference to the flowering spikes of this plant.  Justicia, on the other hand, is named for James Justice, 18th century Scottish botanist and horticulturist.  Which makes Pachystachys, in my opinion, the more sensible option -- but, then, genus names often seem to have little to do with common sense! The species name of coccinea has remained unchanged and is derived from the Latin for scarlet, referring, of course, to the colour of the flowers.

Pachystachys coccinea, commonly known as Cardinal's Guard, has rich green leaves and it develops naturally into a many stemmed shrub. The thick spike consists of a cone of green leaves from which emerge numerous brilliantly-coloured flowers. This perennial, evergreen shrub, which can grow to a height of six feet, is native to French Guinea, Brazil and Peru. Pachystachys belongs to the family Acanthaceae (from the Greek, Aγκανθα, meaning thorn, spine, or spike). 

Cardinal's Guard is actually a rather messy-looking plant, but the flowers, in various shades of red and scarlet, caught my attention and, eventually, led me to the desire to do a drawing of this plant.

You may have noticed that I haven't been including any drawings of people these past weeks.  My normal arrangement was to alternate between a flower drawing one week and a person drawing the following.  However, lately my hands have been too painful to attempt to draw the details required in the human face and in the fingers of the hands.  If my hands improve, I will certainly return to drawing people pictures again.  Meanwhile, you will have to make do with flowers week after week!





Much of the above was taken from various sources including Wikipedia and Dave's Garden.
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IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE OF FRANCE



French flag at half-mast after events of Friday the 13th of November, 2015



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SUKI AND SALLIE



"Suki Asleep in MY Chair", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015
As most of you know, Suki has claimed almost all of the chairs in our home as her "favourites". This means that whatever chair she has chosen in which to nap is hers for as long as she wants it.  If she is not napping in a particular chair then it is fine for me or anyone else to sit in it.  

On occasion, I have had to dump Suki out of a particular chair or push her off the sofa so that guests may have something reasonably comfortable on which to sit. In retaliation, she will often sit at the feet of whoever has been seated on "her" chair, staring at them as only Suki can. This type of intimidation can sometimes prove to be too much for either those who are timid of spirit or those who are really uncomfortable around cats.  There have even been occasions when the guest has moved to an uncomfortable, straight-backed chair and allowed Suki to return to "her" chair -- much to my dismay and embarrassment, I might add.  

[Just in case you are wondering, Joycelyn carefully cleans the seating areas of my sofa and all the chairs at least twice weekly so my guests are sitting on cushions that are relatively clear of cat hair!]

Anyway, back to my story...  Until recently, Suki seemed satisfied to claim all the chairs in the apartment as her "favourites" while leaving my big recliner alone.  Even when I wasn't using the recliner, she stayed away from it. However, a couple of weeks ago, I started to notice a bit of cat hair on my seat cushion after I had been absent from the living room for a while and so I decided to do a bit of detective work. 

I begin leaving small pieces of paper on the seat of my chair whenever I went into the computer room or went out for an appointment. Then, upon returning to the living room, I carefully checked the small sheet of paper to see if it contained cat hair and to determine if it was creased and wrinkled in such a way as to indicate that a cat might have been resting on top of it. Once I had the evidence in hand, I chose my moment and, sneaking back into the living room as quietly as possible, caught Suki sound asleep in MY chair!

Even though I fussed at her and uttered all sorts of imprecations, it was too late... Suki had already decided that my chair was now one of her "favourites".  Her decision has led, I'm afraid, to some rather unpleasant scenes.  I shamefully admit that I have been guilty of not only pushing Suki out of my chair while she appeared to be sleeping soundly, but I have also uttered numerous swear words that an nice lady such as myself should really not be using!

In spite of all this, however, Suki continues to leave wherever she is napping in order to quickly fling herself into my chair just as soon as I vacate it for any reason.  Then, when I return, I am forced to drag her off my chair while she tries to hang onto it with those powerful toenails of hers.  She does know how to wear a person down.

Some days I feel like giving in -- letting her stay in my chair while I try to get comfortably seated on the sofa or in one of the chairs she is, presently, not using.  If it weren't for my painful neck, I might let her win, but pushing back in that recliner provides me with the only seating position in which my neck feels just a bit of relief.  Maybe I should just buy a second recliner since Suki could only sleep in one at a time!  I am such a wuss.    

Otherwise, my life continues as usual.  Joycelyn came at her regular times and I had a nice visit with my friend, Sharon, on Friday morning.  A couple of friends telephoned as well -- including one who called, unfortunately, while I was in the middle of trying to deal with my bank's credit card department so I was unable to talk with her.  Hopefully, she will call again soon.

As for my bank's credit card people, I received a letter in the mail this past week addressed to an unknown name using my address. The letter was asking for additional confirmation the bank needed before issuing this person a credit card!  Worrying about the possibility of getting caught in the middle of a credit card scam, I telephoned the bank's fraud people and reported the situation.  They took down the particulars and then urged me to contact the credit monitoring companies they use.  I did so, finding one of the two most helpful while the other wanted to charge me a fee in order to put a warning in my record! 

I have an appointment this coming week with my family doctor for routine matters including prescription renewals and a flu shot. Speaking of flu shots, did you hear on the news about how the flu shot may help with the prevention of dementia and Type 2 diabetes in people over 50 years of age? Glad I have been getting it now for all these years.





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THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME




"Icon -- The End of Days", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015




Jesus said, ‘In those days, after the time of distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from heaven and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven. ‘Take the fig tree as a parable: as soon as its twigs grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. So with you when you see these things happening: know that he is near, at the very gates. I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all these things will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. ‘But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.’
Mk. 13:24-32


I have always been sadly amused at the predictions people have made in recent times about the "end of the world".  Here, in St. Mark's Gospel, we find Christ saying plainly and clearly "But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father."  

Sorrowfully, it seems so easy for us humans to believe that the whispered, secret knowledge we seem to "hear" during our "quiet time" comes from God and not from our own sinful desires. How do we come to believe so easily that we, alone, are to be given knowledge unknown to anyone except the Father from the beginning of time? No wonder con men are so very successful...

Sadly, not one of us is totally immune from the temptation to arrogance, pride, vanity and even hubris -- that sin which, we are told, is always punished so severely.

So I pray that I may always rejoice in my littleness and lack of importance except to Him who created me.  He, alone, gives me any value I may have. Without Him I am nothing. Oh, Lord, keep me always truly humble.

Amen.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Lady's Slipper Orchid

"Cypripedium calceolus -- Lady's Slipper Orchid", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015



Cypripedium calceolus, commonly known as Lady's Slipper Orchid, is a member of the Family, Orchidaceae. Common names include lady's slipper, slipper orchid, Venus' shoes and whippoorwill shoe. 

At one time it had a widespread distribution in England and almost every country in Europe as well as Russia (including Siberia), China, Mongolia, Korea and Japan. 

Typically found in open woodlands, its population declined over much of the European part of its range due to the shrinking of its habitat caused particularly by human clearance of the woodlands followed by the introduction of sheep. At present, it is a protected species in a number of countries. 

For example, in Great Britain, it was formerly widespread across northern England; however, by the late 20th century it had declined to just a single plant. A reintroduction program for the Lady’s-Slipper Orchid was introduced and led to a population of hundreds of plants by early 2003. 

Cypripedium calceolus in the strict sense does not occur in North America. The closely related Cypripedium parviflorum and C. pubescens are often referred to as subspecies or varieties of C. calceolus. 

Cypripedium is from the Greek for Kypris (Venus) and podilon (sandal, slipper). The species name calceolus derives from the Latin for 'shoe' and, like the English name of this orchid, refers to the slipper-like appearance of the pouch.
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I also did a new drawing of a Calla Lily.  As any of my regular readers know, I have a passion for Calla Lilies and keep drawing them in the hopes that one of these days I will actually draw a satisfying image of this beautiful flower.

"Zantedeschia -- Calla Lily", 
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015



You would think that it would be easy to draw as it appears to be such a simple flower; however, its very simplicity makes it almost impossible for me to draw properly. Like the human hand, I always end up over-drawing this flower so that I fail to capture its elegance. Rather, I end up with a very ordinary looking, completely "soul-less" flower.  

I refuse to give up, however.  One of these days I am going to get it just right -- you'll see!









Most of the information about Cypripedium calceolus was taken from various Internet sources.
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BRADEN AND RÒNÀN 




Recently, Braden and Rònàn attended the Baptism of a family member. Their mother kindly sent me a number of photos taken of "my boys" at the event.  All of them showed Braden and Rònàn with various family members; however, since I wanted to show you how much they have grown but did not want to include the other people, I carefully cropped the boys out of a couple of the photos. Two of the better "croppings" are below:




Braden sitting happily on the altar steps, wondering "what's next?".





A happy-looking Rònàn with a 
stained-glass window in the background





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SUKI AND SALLIE



Suki worrying about me


Suki has been left pretty much on her own this past week because I have been too busy trying to do pain management to pay her very much attention.  Like many cats and dogs with whom we share our lives, she seems to somehow be aware of how difficult things are for me right now.  

As a result, she has been less demanding about meal times.  Even when I have put off getting up to feed her -- although it is past time for me to do so -- she has been fairly patient with me.  She seems to understand how much I dread moving from a reclining position to a standing one and she can certainly hear all of my groans and moans when I do finally force myself to move!

Occasionally, Suki will still jump up onto my lap and settle down for a nap. However, she can tell quickly enough when I start getting uncomfortable and then she kindly moves on to one of her favourite chairs where, for a while, she sits and stares at me with a worried look on her face before settling down once again.  

I did manage to visit with a friend on Tuesday and with another friend on Friday; however, the visits only lasted about an hour each and even that was almost more than I could handle.  Joycelyn says that I should just start saying no to all requests from friends who want to stop by, but I really don't want to let myself become even more isolated than I already am.  My friends are all very special to me and I don't want to risk letting any of them drift out of my life. As we get older and more and more infirm, this can happen far too easily. 

I'm not sure why the aches and pains have gotten so much worse this past week -- maybe it had something to do with the unseasonably warm weather we had Monday through Friday.  Now that the temperature is back down where it should be at this time of year, perhaps my pain level will decrease just a bit.  Hope springs eternal...

Otherwise, things have been quiet and I expect this coming week to be a quiet one as well.  The following weeks, however, will see me having to attend all sorts of medical appointments once again. Hopefully, by then, I will be feeling a bit better.





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THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME




"... many of the rich put in a great deal of money"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015



In his teaching Jesus said, ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; these are the men who swallow the property of widows, while making a show of lengthy prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.’ He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many of the rich put in a great deal. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.’   Mk. 12:38-44


The comments Christ made about the poor widow have got to be some of the most frightening words ever spoken.  Why?  Because they imply that our goal is a radical trust in, and abandonment to, the Providence of God!

Some of the greatest saints in all religious traditions have been able to achieve such radical trust -- I think immediately of St. Francis of Assisi, for example -- but many of us, myself included, have always kept at least a little something back -- just in case.

Grant me, I pray, the desire to try to be more like the widow -- to be willing to let go of my sense of having control over my life and truly abandon myself to Divine Providence.

Amen.  


Sunday, 1 November 2015

Collarette Dahlia "Pooh"

"Collarette Dahlia 'Pooh' ", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015




Dahlias are a group of flowering, tuberous-rooted plants that belong to the Asteraceae (aster/daisy) family. There are at least 36 species of Dahlia. As well, Dahlias have been hybridized extensively, and there are now more than 20,000 cultivars. 

Dahlias are native to Mexico, Central America and Columbia. The Aztecs cultivated Dahlias for both food and ceremonial purposes. As well, they used the long, woody stems of one variety for making small pipes. 

Flowers range in size from as small as 2 inches wide to as large as 10 inches wide. Some species (see Dahlia imperialis) can grow up to 10 m. in height. Colours come in various shades, hues and combinations of pink, white, red, orange and purple. 

The genus name of Dahlia is also the common name. The name, Dahlia, comes from the surname of Dr. Andreas (Anders) Dahl. He was an 18th century Swedish botanist and student of Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist who laid the foundations for the modern biological naming scheme of binomial nomenclature. 

Today’s drawing features one of the over 20,000 cultivars and is named Collarette Dahlia “Pooh”. Collarette Dahlias have large, flat florets forming a single outer ring around a central disc which may overlap a smaller circle of florets closer to the centre and which gives the appearance of a collar. The hybrid “Pooh” was hybridized by Swan Island and introduced in 1998. Due to its large flower and bright colours, it has become extremely popular very quickly.

As you can see above, "Pooh" contains some of my favourite colours which was what attracted me to the flowers in the first place.  This attraction made it an easy decision to try my hand at drawing them.  

By the way, if you search my blog under the word "Dahlia", you will find a number of other cultivars I have drawn of this genus over the years.





Much of the above information was taken from various Internet sources.
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SUKI AND SALLIE




Suki staring at me -- watching my every move.
Is she part of a secret cabal?
 This past week I came across a video showing a black cat and a ginger cat who live together. The man taking the video, their "keeper", after observing them for some time, has come to the conclusion that his cats, along with the rest of the world's cats, are planning on taking over the planet.  In other words, they are planning world domination!

One of the clues to this, according to the videographer, was the fact that he so frequently caught his cats staring intently at him.  As I have mentioned here previously, I, too, have noticed how often Suki will just sit and stare at me.  I have always assumed that she was staring at me in an effort to will me into getting up and feeding her -- I mean, this staring business usually seems to occur just prior to meal time.  After seeing the video, however, I am now wondering if there is more to it than it.  Could she be, in fact, taking note of my behaviour patterns in an effort to note when I am at my weakest and most vulnerable?



The videographer then continues by showing other examples of his cats' behaviour that indicate, to him, the seriousness of the situation.  These include things such as the way his cats seem to be talking to one another until he comes into the room at which time they suddenly begin to play and run about.  He feels that whenever he almost catches the cats talking, they are in their planning mode; however, in order to confuse him, they appear to be simply playing. 

As well, he has noticed that when he pours a handful of catnip on the floor, much to his cats delight, he later finds strange patterns in the catnip.  He feels that what he is seeing was originally planning instructions which, after reviewing, his cats then messed up sufficiently so that he would not be able to read what they had written there.


Suki just about to fall asleep again
after opening her eyes briefly 

After taking a good look at all of his evidence, I have to admit that he does have some good arguments for the possibility that cats, world wide, are planning world domination. However, just when I think that there might be something to all of this, I take a look at Suki and find she is sound asleep somewhere in the house and that she has obviously been sound asleep for the past three hours since finishing her last meal -- and that she will stay asleep for the next 2 1/2 hours until she begins her campaign to get me to feed her. 

This consistent behaviour on her part (and on the part of all cats I have known during my lifetime) causes me to seriously doubt that the world's cats are planning to take over.  I mean, any species that requires at least 16 hours of sleep a day simply doesn't have the time for world domination.  And, anyway, don't most cats already "dominate" the people with whom they live?  This is certainly true of Suki!  I may be a fool, but, for the moment at any rate, I am not going to worry about feline world domination!

So, other than deciding not to worry about Suki being part of a secret cabal planning to enslave us humans, I have nothing new to report.

I continue to have the same problems as usual and although I have several medical appointments and tests scheduled for the month of November, I do not have anything medical scheduled for this coming week. Joycelyn will be here on her usual days, a dear friend will be visiting on Tuesday and I will visit with my friend from the sixth floor on Friday.  It should be a quiet week.

By the way, since some of you have asked, the new medication regimen that I mentioned in a previous posting seems to be helping although it will take a few more weeks to see if it will really give me any long term relief from the pain.






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SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS




"Icon -- Our Lady, Softener of Evil Hearts", by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015 (text in Russian and English)


When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  Mt. 5:1-12a


For the first time in a long time, I have completed an icon. Actually, I have worked to the limits of my limited abilities for the past 6 days on the icon posted above.  On Monday of this past week, I received an email from a dear friend with a link to this particular icon.  I was so taken by the image and the title that I felt compelled to immediately begin work on making my own drawing of the beautiful image of Our Lady.  My representation is a poor copy by comparison to the original, but it was created with much joy.

Although I did not realize it at the time, this icon is a perfect representation for the Gospel reading for this Solemnity of All Saints. The Beatitudes are all about changing (softening) our evil hearts so that our hearts can become like the Heart of God.  And who better to help us through this process than Our Lady -- the softener of evil hearts.

Creator of All, grant that we may accept the help we are offered daily which will allow Love, Itself, to change our hearts into hearts like unto Yours.

Amen.