Sunday, 31 January 2010

T. ulmifolia 'elegans' and Tree Frogs


Turnera ulmifolia 'elegans' is a hybrid of the better known Turnera ulmifolia, a tropical plant with a number of different English names.  The one that I prefer is "Yellow Alder" -- although it is definitely not an Alder.  Another name is "Cuban Buttercup" and it is definitely not a Buttercup!  Since this is not a pure T. ulmifolia, I will call it by its hybrid name of "elegans".

The funniest name to me for T. ulmifolia is "Ramgoat Dashalong".  As this name might suggest, T. ulmifolia is native to the West Indies and Mexico.  Some of the other names are West Indian holly, Sage Rose and Marilopez.  As for hybrids, there are a couple of other hybrids besides "elegans".

The Family name of Turnera ulmifolia is Turneraceae.  The Genus is, of course, Turnera and the species is T. ulmifolia.  Since the drawing above is of a variety or hybrid of T. ulmifolia, its name is written as Turnera ulmifolia var. 'elegans'.

Many tropical cultures use T. ulmifolia medicinally. It seems especially useful as an intestinal anti-inflammatory and research shows that it demonstrates high anti-oxidant activity.  Most interestingly, recent studies have shown that the "Yellow Alder" potentiated the antibiotic activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) -- a serious problem in our hospitals these days.  I am not sure if these medicinal properties are present in the hybrids such as "elegans", however.

A closely related and somewhat similar looking species, Turnera diffusa, often referred to as Damiana, is internationally famed as an aphrodisiac!  I am debating about whether to do a drawing of T. diffusa -- after all, this is a family-friendly blog!!
I will, however, be showing you a drawing of plain, old Turnera ulmifolia soon.


This next item was a lot of fun to draw.  As those of you know who have been with me for a while, I am very fond of such things as frogs, toads, lizards, turtles and snakes (non-poisonous only!).

When I came across a photo of a tree frog, I just couldn't resist trying to draw it.  Unfortunately, it is impossible for me to capture the beautiful iridescent skin qualities, but I did the best I could.  

Anyway, doing this drawing gave me great pleasure and brought back many good memories of discovering the occasional tree frog.  You hear them calling in the summer evenings but you cannot see them no matter how much you look until suddenly one of them moves and it becomes visible to you.  Actually, it was right in front of you all the time, but blended so well with its surroundings that it became invisible!

May peace be with you all. 

Friday, 29 January 2010

St. Monica


Well, here is the final icon for my novena book -- the icon of St. Monica.

Many of you may be asking:  who is St. Monica and why would you want to include her in your book?  Well, let me explain.

Monica was born about 333 A.D. in what is now Algeria.  Although she and her parents were Christians, she was married to a pagan Roman by the name of Patricius.  They had four children, the oldest being a boy named Augustine.  Monica, of course, wanted to have the children baptized, but Patricius refused.  Interestingly, Patricius converted to Christianity a few years before his death, but by this time all the children were young adults.

Monica had high hopes for all her children, but especially for Augustine who showed great promise intellectually.  Although she prayed fervently for him, he ended up living a rather dissolute life which included a mistress by whom he eventually bore a son.  But even more distressing was his conversion to an heretical sect known as Manichaeism.  The members of this sect believed that matter was evil and the spiritual was good.  Those who were believers of Manichaeism were people of the light while the rest of the mankind was doomed to darkness.  They also believed in various "gods", including Jesus, many of whom were pagan deities.  

Of course, Augustine's conversion to this sect truly broke the heart of his mother.  She attended daily Mass where she wept and prayed constantly for the conversion of her son to what she believed was the true faith.  A bishop who knew her saw her suffering and told her: "it cannot be that the son of these tears should perish."  This gave her hope.

Eventually, St. Monica's prayers were answered and Augustine was baptized as a Catholic.  He went on to become one of the doctors of the Church.  His books, the Confessions and the City of God are still read to this day and studied in seminary.  As for St. Monica, she became the patron saint of mothers praying for their children -- especially those who have turned away from their Faith.  She is also a great model of persevering in prayer over years of hoping against hope and this is why I like her and wanted to include her in my book.

The Greek lettering on the icon reads:  "The Mother of Augustine". 
Finally tonight I want to show you a beautiful photograph. 


I love the deep laugh lines around this man's eyes and the kind way in which he is looking at the kitten.

The kitten, in turn, is looking into the man's eyes with absolute trust.  How beautiful it is when creatures and children look upon us with that complete trust and how heartbreakingly sad it is when that trust has been broken and changed to fear.  

May peace be with us all.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Stoning of Stephen

Late last year I started working on this icon of the "Stoning of St. Stephen".  After a time, I put it aside, telling myself that I would finish it later.

Well, I returned to it this past week and working on it over the weekend, I managed to finish it at the beginning of this week.

I don't think I really need to say much about the action here as I related the story of St. Stephen and his stoning when I posted the other icon of St. Stephen last week.  This icon simply shows the elements of the story as given in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament.  We are told there that as St. Stephen gazed up into Heaven, he was stoned to death by a group from a Jerusalem synagogue.  Those who threw the stones, it is reported, laid their cloaks at the feet of a zealous man named Saul of Tarsus -- a man who hated the members of this new Jewish sect and wanted to stamp it out.  As you probably know, this man was later renamed Paul and he went on to become one of the greatest Christian teachers ever known outside of Our Lord, himself.

My legs are acting up tonight so I had better go and try to do something about the pain and discomfort.  I will write more on Friday.

Peace be with you.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Where's the snow?

I am feeling a bit grumpy tonight because here it is almost the end of January and we have had no snow at all since winter officially began!  I mean, snow is a problem and even keeps me housebound for a few days during the winter, but it is part of the season and I miss it!

I really do not know what is happening to us here in southern Ontario.  We have almost broken records over the past few days for the amount of rainfall and the warm temperatures.  In a town a couple of hours drive from here they have even had flooding today because of the rain.  This should not be happening.

Then there is poor Whistler, B.C. where the Olympics will begin in a few weeks.  They always have tons of snow and this year they are frantically storing man-made snow in case it stays warm between now and the Olympics!  Meanwhile, the other provinces have been hogging all the snow instead of sharing it with them or with us!

As a consequence, I have been taking frequent peeks at some of my favourite tree photos that include snow.  The one at the top of the post is a real pleasure for me to look at, imagining myself coming through the gate on a snowy day.  The sunset is such a traditionally wintry one -- the kind you sometimes see just before the next snowstorm moves in.


This next snowy scene shows a beautiful, old tree that has lost a limb either because of the weight of the snow, high winds or maybe an ice storm.  The light is so lovely and holds the promise of more snow.  I do hope the sheep in the background get to the barn before the flakes start falling! 


And, finally, a really snowy scene with one of those strange, winter rainbows.  I kept this photo not because of the trees -- I like the look of fir trees, especially with snow on them, but I don't have the fondness for them that I do for hardwoods -- no, I kept it because of the magic rainbow.

I know I really shouldn't be complaining about not having snow -- not when there are people who are really suffering in Haiti (and other places).  And, I am not really seriously complaining -- just being grumpy as I said in the beginning.  I am hopeful, however, as our forecast shows dropping temperatures over the next few days and there is the possibility that we could have a bit of snow as well.

Meanwhile, I will continue to work for the relief of the people in Haiti, hope that the people in Whistler get some real snow before the Olympics and try to accept whatever weather we get and not complain (but I really would like to have some snow!).

Peace be with you all.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

St. Jude not Judas

Here is another icon for my novena book.  It somehow did not seem right to have a book on novenas without including the one saint whose novena prayer has probably been prayed by more people over time than any other outside the ones for Our Lord and His Blessed Mother.  St. Jude, patron of hopeless cases, is the saint so many Catholics (and even non- Catholics) turn to at least once in their lives when all seems to be lost.

Traditionally, St. Jude is shown in green and white clothing with a golden pendant around his neck.  Usually, there is a small flame atop his head signifying the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which all the Apostles received at Pentecost.  In his hand there is always a book or a scroll representing the Letter of St. Jude found in the New Testament.

It has also become customary over the past decades to make a vow that if St. Jude's intercession is able to assist you in your hopeless situation, you will publish a notice of thanks in the newspaper so that others may know how helpful St. Jude can be.  Thus you will sometimes see something like "Thank you, St. Jude" in the Personals column of religious newspapers or magazines.  These used to be much more commonly seen -- perhaps people no longer make such a vow or, more likely, the lack of such promises is due to the cost these days of placing such ads!  

The photograph I want to share with you tonight came from a power point presentation about the present situation in Haiti.  The photo was taken this past Sunday during Mass which was held in the ruins of the great Cathedral in the capital.  You may recall how moved I am by pictures of hands and I do find these especially poignant.  The woman behind these hands has been through so much in her life -- more than I can imagine -- and yet she continues to pray the Rosary.  Faith is such a precious gift.

Let us all continue to pray for Haiti and its people.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

The First Martyr

The first martyr of the Christian Church was St. Stephen.  

I spoke about him back on his feast day in December and also showed you an icon of him drawn by another artist.  Well, this is my drawing and I drew it so that I could include St. Stephen in my new book of saints with their novena prayers.  Let me briefly explain the symbols present in this icon.

St. Stephen was one of the first deacons in the new sect which would eventually become the Catholic Church.  The symbols showing that he was a deacon are the tonsured hair and the stole across one shoulder only.  The placement of the stole especially shows that he was not a priest (our English translation of the Latin Presbyter).  

The miniature church on his left indicates that he was serving the Church at the time of his death and that the growth of the Church, Catholics believe, occurs through the blood of its martyrs.  The censor held in his right hand shows his liturgical function at the celebration of the Mass plus it indicates that he offered his life like sweet smelling incense to our God.

In the Book of Acts which describes the activities of the early Church, we find a full description of the martyrdom of St. Stephen in Chapter 7.  Stephen had been arrested for preaching about Christ Jesus and he spoke so boldly in his defence that his words infuriated many of his listeners.  Some of them dragged him outside the city and began to stone him.  As he was dying, he, like his Master, cried out: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" and then he died.

One other significant comment in that chapter reads: "... and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul."  At that time, Saul (later known as St. Paul) was a zealous persecutor of this Jewish sect which would later be known as the Christian Church.

The other item I want to show you tonight is a photograph taken by a wonderful "wave artist" from Hawaii by the name of Clark Little.

He takes the most amazing photographs of the monster waves that you find off the Hawaiian Islands -- often shooting from underneath the wave just moments before it crashes on the shore.  This is very dangerous since he has to shoot and get out of the way before the wave hits the beach or else he could be badly injured.

This photograph is of what happens when two massive waves meet, causing a beautiful swirl of water.  It is a powerful event in the water but the result looks almost like a delicate flower.  

I hope everyone who normally reads my blog is still alive and doing well.  I say this as I have had no comments or emails regarding my blog for some time now and I am beginning, once again, to feel that I am talking to myself!  Are you out there?

If you are, may peace be with you.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Blessed Kateri

"Kateri was a child of nature.  Her sainthood will raise the minds and hearts of those who love nature and work in ecology."

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) is honoured by the Catholic Church as the patroness of ecology and the environment.  Her baptismal name was Catherine which, in the Iroquois languages, is Kateri.  She was born near the town of Auriesville, N.Y. Her father was a Mohawk chief while her mother was a Catholic Algonquin.  At the age of four, smallpox attacked her village, taking the lives of her parents and baby brother, leaving Kateri an orphan.  Although forever weakened, scarred and partially blind, she survived.  Her poor eyesight is supposedly the reason she was called Tekakwitha which means "she who feels her way"  -- according to some historians.

When she was about 18 years old, the Jesuits set up a mission near her village and Kateri, remembering her mother perhaps, was attracted to the religion of the "Blackrobes".  There was much opposition from her uncle who had adopted her, but he was finally persuaded to allow Kateri to attend religious instruction.  She was now 19.  Kateri was baptised the following Easter at age 20.

Her family and her village did not accept her conversion and she was threatened with torture or death if she did not renounce her faith.  Because of this increasing hostility and because she wanted to devote her life to serving God, she fled her village and walked more than 200 miles (322 km) through woods, rivers and swamps to the Catholic mission at Sault Saint-Louis near Montreal.  The journey took her over two months but she was rewarded by finally being allowed to make her first Holy Communion on Christmas Day, 1677.

She was now able to lead a life of prayer, doing penance for the sins of her people.  She also taught the young and helped those who were poor or sick.  Her favourite devotion was to wander through the woods near the mission, planting wooden crosses which she formed out of sticks.  These, she said, would be reminders of Christ to those who wandered through this area and would cause them to lift their hearts to God.

Her poor health finally caused her death at the age of 24.  Her last words were "Jesus, I love you."  Moments after dying, her scarred and disfigured face was miraculously cleared, leaving her looking extremely beautiful.  She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980 -- the first Native North American to be declared blessed.  I pray for the day when the Church will declare her to be the first Native North American saint.


Above is one of the oldest portraits of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.  It was painted by Father Claude Chauchetiere, s.j. around 1696 -- 16 years after her death.

So there you have one of my latest icons and the story that goes with it.  As I mentioned several weeks ago, I have been working on additional icons for my novena icons book -- the third book in my series of devotional books.

Today has been a very busy day for me and I am tired, but it's a good tired.  I taught a marriage preparation class, visited with a very dear friend and managed to work out at the gym for over an hour!  It was a good day thanks to the grace of God.

May peace be with you all.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Onion Lizards and More Cats

Zephyranthes sylvestris is native to a certain part of Brazil -- the State of Ceara.  There it is popularly known as "Onion Lizard".  I think the Latin name is much more attractive even if I can barely pronounce it!

The Family of the Genus Zephyranthes is Amaryllidaceae.  This is the same family as all the Amaryllis plants.  There is very little information on this attractive little flower -- probably because it appears to be found in such a small geographic area.  It is a tiny plant as its mature height is only 10 inches (25 cm) while the diameter of the flower is only about 2 inches (5 cm).  It likes warm temperatures and a semi-arid climate -- which it evidently has in the State of Ceara in Brazil.    


As usual, I have made a "topographic" version of my drawing.  I find it interesting and bit more attractive than the one I showed you in the previous posting.  


And for tonight's photo, I find this one quite amusing.  In fact, I chuckle every time I look at it.  I think I know exactly what the pigeon is saying to those cats and I am sure you do as well.  It is unmistakeable -- body language says it all.  My name for this photo is "K.M.A."  I am sure you can figure out what the letters stand for! 

Sorry this posting is so late tonight, but Google has given me a new toolbar to work with and it has taken me a while to figure everything out.  Speaking of Google, you may have noticed all the additional ads next to the posting.  This is because I have now given them permission to post ads to the side and bottom of each new posting.  I am hoping that eventually I may earn a little money from doing this.  All you need to do is to occasionally click on one of the ads.  You don't even need to spend time looking at the site you connect to for, as I understand it, I get credit for every time someone clicks on an advertised link.  Thanks in advance.

May peace be with you all.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Cultivars and Cats!

Do you remember what a cultivar is? It is a cultivated plant variety produced by selective breeding -- a hybrid.

Tonight I am showing you a cultivar in the Amaryllis "family" by the name of Hippeastrum puniceum. While it is accepted that the genus for this plant is Hippeastrum, there is some question as to the family name. Most lists place it in the Family Amaryllidaceae where you would expect to find all the plants derived from the Amaryllis plant; however, I have also seen Hippeastrum puniceum placed in the Family Liliaceae which is where you find all the lilies. After all, one of the common names for this flower is "Red Lily".

While this is not a matter of great import to any one reading this blog, I just thought I would mention it. As for the Amaryllis family, of which Hippeastrum puniceum is a cultivar, it is native to South America -- particularly the Andean highlands -- but is now found growing throughout the Caribbean area. And, as you are well aware, it is also grown in homes throughout North American every Christmas and Easter.

I came across a description of the plant that is so deliciously written that I want to quote it in its entirety. "Hippeastrum puniceum has spectacular open, flaring, trumpet-shaped flowers that seem to hang slightly in an elegant, but relaxed fashion from the tops of sturdy, 24-inch flower stalks. The outer 2/3rds of petals are a light orange with slightly darker orange veins and is reminiscent of cool summer desserts like sherbets and popsicles. The central throat is a creamy white alternating with yellow-green. This species blooms in late spring or summer"

How about that for making you want some sherbet for dessert?!!

As usual, I tried the topographic software and the resulting image, while interesting, is not that attractive. I guess I should stop showing you these images until I come across one that is more appealing.

I am continuing, however, with the practice of showing you funny or interesting photos that I come across each week. The two that follow are of cats with unusual friends!

First, I want to show you a very unusual friendship between a deer and a cat. As you can see, they seem to be really fond of one another. This was one of a series of photos showing these two friends in various situations, but this was the only one in which they appear to be "kissing".

This second photograph is of a friendship which, if established when the kitten is young enough, will usually continue throughout the years ahead.

This was also one of a series of photos. In the first few photos, the kitten is stalking the bird. Finally, though, the kitten appears to grow tired of the chase and he and the bird settle down for a bit of snuggling and grooming. Hopefully, the kitten will not meet up with an adult cat who tells him what any self-respecting cat is supposed to do when he or she encounters a bird!!

May peace be with you and with all of God's creatures.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Allamanda schottii, first and last

Here is another Allamanda. This one is called Allamanda schottii but its common name is Bush Allamanda.

Allamanda schottii is an ornamental plant of the Allamanda genus in the Apocynaceae family and is native to Brazil.

As I usually do these days, I experimented with the topographic software just to see how my drawing would be changed. The result is not at all attractive; however, I included it just because of the different types of distortion that resulted. The topographic results, in my opinion, only work on certain types of flower drawings using certain colours.

A friend in Tennessee sent me some delightful Panda photos today. This one is my favourite. It is named "All right now, on the count of three... PUSH". There a few creatures on the planet quite as cute as baby Pandas. Lots of baby animals are cute, but Pandas are not only cute but delightfully funny as well. It must be their big eyes and their roly-poly physique!

A very dear friend of mine had a horrifying experience today and I just can't stop thinking about it. While leaving a major department store, she was suddenly and roughly accosted by two large men who were, it turns out, accusing her of shoplifting. In her shock, she resisted their attempts to grab her bags as they pushed her about. They yelled that she was resisting and pulled out handcuffs and put them on her. This all took place in the midst of a busy shopping mall. Then they practically dragged her to a basement room, windowless, where they proceeded to search all her belongings without her permission while threatening to lock her up if she caused any more trouble. Once they realized that she had nothing from the store in her possession, they had to release her, but she immediately sought out the store manager and registered a complaint. He tried to apologize, but, obviously, an apology is not enough. She is left feeling violated, humiliated and shocked. The guys who grabbed her, it turns out, were department store security guys. Something must be done to prevent this from happening to other people.

So, with a heavy heart, I say: Peace be with you all.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Allamanda blanchetii the Last

Well, we are making progress... this is the last Allamanda blanchetii I will be showing you; however, this does that mean that we are finished with all the Allamandas -- just the Purple Allamandas!

This drawing, as is evident, is of buds, not-quite buds and leaves of the Purple Allamanda. There are even a few leaves of one of the weeds that is found growing in Allamanda shrubs. I don't see the drawing as something I will treasure, but I do like the profusion of leaves and buds.

By the way, did you happen to see the comments on the last two postings? They certainly made me feel very good -- especially the one from Hylott.

Now I want to show you a beautiful photograph taken by my cousin, Ron, in Tennessee -- Kingston, Tennessee to be exact.

The photograph shows a frozen surface with fast-moving water underneath. I think it is really quite good plus it also shows everyone how cold it was in East Tennessee at the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010. And in case you are wondering, he did add a little extra blue tone to the original photograph which gives it that nice extra-cold look!

I have decided that I need a few more saints in my novena book so you should be seeing some new icons in the days ahead. Any guesses about which ones I have chosen?

I trust that everyone is praying for lots of snow in Whistler, B.C. in time for the Olympics!

Peace be with you.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Allamanda Again

As promised, here is more of Allamanda blanchetii or Purple Allamanda.

If you missed the posting on January 7th, take a look and you will find all the particulars about this species. I won't repeat them.

This is a somewhat different kind of flower painting for me. Usually it is all about the flowers and leaves without any concern for a background. However, when working on this, I realized that the drawing of a flower and a bud was a bit too simple to suit me -- so I added a sky and fields background. Let me know what you think.

I am really tired tonight so I will be keeping this short. Although I did want to show you a photograph I came across recently in my files.

As many of you know, while giraffes are my favourite African animal, my second favourite African (and Asian) animal is the elephant. I watched a fascinating segment on 60 Minutes recently about the forest elephants. It was quite wonderful to see the elephants' social behaviour and language, but they also showed some of the elephants that had recently been slaughtered simply for their tusks. The poachers had left the bodies to rot and just chopped out the tusks. I will never understand human behaviour!

Anyway, here is the photograph which I call "A room for one, please":

May peace be with you.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Allamanda and Art

Tonight's drawing is the first in a series of drawings of Allamandas!

All Allamandas are members of the Family Apocynaceae and Genus Allamanda. The one I am showing you tonight is the species Allamanda blanchetii. Its common name is "Purple Allamanda".

This group of plants is of unknown origin but probably originated somewhere in South America. It is found in such places as Hawaii and Brazil. It is an Evergreen shrub which can grow up to 10 feet tall.

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds with its large, fragrant flowers. However, all Allamandas have sap which is poisonous to children and pets.

I am not sure which Allamanda I will show you next as I am working on two different ones at the same time! It will be a surprise to us all.

Next, I want to show you a new art form that I discovered just today through my friend, Hylott. He sent out a pps to all the people on his "list" which showcases the work of an artist who signs his name "San Base" although he is actually Russian by birth.

Above is an example of one of his art pieces which reminds me a bit of Lawren Harris. While I find this piece very pleasing, it does not really express what his art is all about. Let me allow him to speak for himself:

"The Dynamic Paintings I'm designing are examples of digital generative art - an art that has been generated algorithmically by a computer system. There have been many attempts at producing generative art; the history of it goes back to the early days of computer development. Many of these works have used fractals and pretty much none of them accounted for more than just basic artistic principles. This is not the case for my Dynamic Paintings. I'm a strong believer that innovation is often born when several drastically different disciplines come together, and I think that being an experienced programmer and an artist gives me an edge.

Another big challenge with dynamic picture has been the inadequate computing power of personal computers to handle advanced algorithms that describe artistic principles of a computer generated painting. My technology uses powerful video cards to generate real-time images that rival most of the conventional contemporary paintings that cost thousands of dollars. This is not something that has been attempted before. Also, being able to generate images in real time enables me to set paintings in motion and create a new experience never seen before. The painting is always in the state of a perpetual transformation. It never repeats itself. Every time a new image is created, there is an opportunity for a peaceful receptivity and then the work disappears forever."

At the introduction to his gallery site is written the following:
"Using the latest in computer technology, a still picture is transformed into a never-ending show that adds a whole new dimension to traditional Art. Images replacing each other hour by hour, day by day, month by month. None of the images repeat previous ones and will never repeat again. The picture is living its own life with objects moving and transforming but still following the original artist's concept."

I find this whole concept totally new and fascinating.

Peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


Tonight's drawing is of a plant that is not found in continental North America. It is found on many beaches in places near the equator. Thus, it is found on the islands of Hawaii. The common name I am using is the one given to this plant by the native Hawaiians: Pohuehue. It is pronounced "poy - whey - whey". Otherwise this plant is commonly known as "Beach Morning Glory" and "Goat's Foot".

This interesting plant is of the Family Convolvulaceae; the Species Ipomoea pes-caprae; Genus Ipomoea. Pohuehue, or beach morning glory, is an indigenous Hawaiian plant which is also found on the sandy shores of the tropical Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. It lies close to the ground and the petals open only in the cool hours of the morning. Pohuehue lives on salt water and its vines wind themselves down the beach and stretch into the ocean. Its seeds are dispersed in salt water too.

It plays an important role in the ecosystem of the shore. It holds together the sand so that it stops erosion and small dunes can form. Native Hawaiians used Pohuehue for various medical solutions such as healing broken bones or bad skin. The leaves are double-lobed, leathery and shaped like a goat's foot. The vine often grows right down to the high tide line. Ancient surfers slapped the stems of the Pohuehue on the ocean and chanted to ensure good waves that day.

Now, continuing with some of my funny photos collection, I want to show you a kitty cat give a dog a knock-out punch!

I apologize to all you dog lovers out there. I, too, am very fond of dogs, but to me there is no animal that quite compares with the cat -- from the largest lion to the smallest house cat.

I have always been a cat lover even though I did some terrible things to our house cats during my childhood -- usually with the best of intentions. Let me explain.

As you may be aware, cats, like dogs and other critters, often have very bad breath. As I began to learn about such things as the necessity for brushing your teeth and the offensiveness of having bad breath, I noticed one day that our cat had very unpleasant breath. I puzzled about this for a while and finally decided that this was because cats did not brush their teeth. The solution, I thought, was right at hand. Taking my toothbrush and loading it with toothpaste, I approached the sleeping cat and began to try to brush the cat's teeth. To my surprise, the cat was not at all grateful, but actually emitted a great cry of distress and fought hard to escape.

Once free of my little hands, the cat went running frantically through the house, foaming at the mouth. The cat, in fact, went running straight to my mother who quickly let the cat outside where the poor animal began to perform all manner of gymnastics in an effort to get rid of this foam that continued to froth about its face.

Meanwhile, my mother made quite certain that I never did such a cruel thing again by punishing me appropriately. I did try to explain that I had done this with the best of intentions, but I don't think my mother was convinced and I was watched carefully both by my mother and the cat for quite some time afterwards!

May peace be with you all.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

More Meadow Beauty

Tonight's drawing is the additional Meadow Beauty drawing I promised.

This North American wildflower is from the Family of Melastomaceae and the Genus Rhexia virginia. It is commonly known as "Virginia Meadow Beauty". This is another wildflower I became acquainted with when studying Florida wildflowers; however, it, too, is found throughout the southeastern U.S. and sometimes all the way up to Massachusetts.

If you want a few more details (and I only know a very few details) regarding this species, then take a look back at the posting for December 30, 2009.

I have had some positive comments about the unusual photos I have posted recently -- so, I thought I would post another one tonight.

These photos are not new to the Internet, but sometimes people don't see certain collections or don't look closely enough when viewing. Above is one of my favourites for what is says about the facial expressions of all creatures.

I describe the baby's expression as "curious innocence". I describe the cat's expression as "forbidden desire" and I describe the expression of the fish (if he could show it) as "Help! where is the lady of the house when I need her?"

I know that some of my readers are in warmer parts of the world tonight and I truly wish I could be there with you. It is so cold in Toronto right now with that awful wind chill and black ice everywhere.

Whether you are cold or warm, may peace be with you.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy 2010

More than a few of the people I called today to wish them "happy New Year" sounded as though they might be looking a bit like our miserable polar bear here.

I called one couple, expecting to speak to both; however, I was told by the husband that the wife was sleeping while he was awake but tired. They didn't do anything wild -- just had friends over -- but still did not get to bed until the wee, small hours. Another friend admitted to having just gotten up when we spoke about 1:30 p.m. It seems she did not get to sleep until about 4:30 a.m.!! What is it about New Year's Eve that does this to people?

Surprise, surprise, I have a new icon to show you.

I decided a couple of weeks ago that it would be nice to work on a Christmas icon during the Christmas Season -- so..., here it is. I tried to create a sense of light in the front of the cave using the presence of a lantern. I don't know if I overdid it or not. I had to make the stable very dark and the manger looks more like a crib than a manger.

One thing I have begun to notice lately is that most people refer to the nativity scene as the manger. I hear them say "Christ was born in a manger" or "I set up my manger scene today", etc. I wonder if we will have to change the meaning of the word "manger". As you no doubt know, the manger is the animals' feeding trough which Jesus had to use for a bed. He was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Just thought I would mention it.

I must tell you that I have had some feedback on my latest book, Stations Icons. Two readers both found the entire publication to be excellent. I got top marks from them for the reflections I wrote to go with each icon/station -- lots of compliments. One reader suggested that the school board would be crazy if they don't immediately snatch it up for use with high school students! So, if any of you were hesitating about purchasing your own copy, you need hesitate no longer. Remember, all you have to do is go to and put sallie thayer in the search box to find all my books. Once you have done this, you can place your order for any one or all of them!

I pray that this will be a wonderful year for all of us and that your lives will be filled with many blessings.

Peace be with you.