Sunday, 30 May 2010

Field Bindweed

Field Bindweed is considered to be a pest and nuisance throughout the world -- but even such a despised plant has its own beauty.  I hope I have captured some of that beauty in my drawing.

The proper name for this plant is Convovulus arvensis. Convolvo is Latin meaning to entwine; arvens is Latin for a cultivated field.  Field Bindweed is a native of Europe and Asia that has spread throughout the world.  It is considered a serious weed in 14 countries and a problem in 19 others, including the U.S. and Canada.  The first observation of Field Bindweed in North America was in 1739 in what is now the State of Virginia.

Field Bindweed is a twining perennial vine.  Characteristics distinguishing it from other vines include arrowhead-shaped leaves, thin stems, pinkish petals fused into funnel-shaped flowers.  These flowers only last for one day, while a single plant in a single season may produce up to 550 seeds!  Stems, which usually attach themselves to objects, always twine around those objects in a counter-clockwise direction.

I used my funny software on this drawing just to see what it would look like.  I found the results interesting and have included the picture below.  It is fascinating to me to see what colours develop from my ordinary pinks and greens!

Next I want to show you two photos I received in an email from a friend.  The subject heading of the email just said "car trouble" so I really had a good laugh when I saw the photos included.  What on earth do you do in such situations.  I wish I could talk to the people involved and find out how they eventually got out of their dilemmas -- assuming that they survived!

"911?  Well, you will never believe this, but there's an elephant trying to eat our car!"

What on earth would you do in this situation?  I guess you have no choice except to wait it out and pray for the best.  Hopefully, the elephant will grow tired of trying to play with the car and move along -- but who knows.  Maybe he is feeling especially hungry.  Yikes!

          "Who wants to get out and change the flat tire?"  

I think I might just decide to ruin the tire and even the wheel rather than take the chance that these are peace-loving house pets.  What would you do?

Life always presents us with new problems but let us hope that ours won't be as dangerous as these.

May peace be with you all on this Feast of the Holy Trinity.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

My Namesake's Icon

This is an icon I have been trying to finish for some time now.  I am still not satisfied with it, but I thought that maybe by posting it, I would gain some perspective on how to fix it once and for all.

Anyway, it is my attempt to draw an image representing St. Sarah (as the Orthodox call her), wife of Abraham.  Sarah was an old, old woman when she became pregnant for the first and only time, fulfilling the prophecy of God.  Her son was named Isaac and it is from Isaac that the Jewish people believe themselves descended.  Christians tend to claim for themselves the same lineage.  At any rate, I am drawn to the story of St. Sarah; however, I do not expect to become pregnant in my late nineties as my patron saint did!  

There is no feast day for St. Sarah in the Catholic calendar, but the Orthodox celebrate her feast on August 19th.  Interestingly, that was the date my father died in 1991.

Here is a recent drawing of the Prairie Rose.  [Family Rosaceae; species Rosa arkansana].  The name Rosa arkansana comes from the Arkansas River in Colorado.  However, this wild rose is native to a large area of central North America between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba south to New Mexico, Texas and Indiana.

As you may be aware, Alberta's provincial flower is the Wild Rose; however, it is a relative of Rosa arkansana by the name of Rosa acicularis.  Wherever the Prairie Rose is found, it is seen growing on the prairies, in woodland margins and so-called disturbed areas.  The petals of the Wild Prairie Rose can be used in salads, teas or even candied.

This is a photo of the Prairie Rose growing in the woodland margins of North Dakota where it is the State flower.

              Hippo mother & child (I thought it was a Manatee).  

[An observant viewer pointed out to me that these are Hippos since Manatees don't have legs!  Of course they don't, silly me.  Thank goodness for observant viewers!  Thanks.  But the stuff about Manatees following still holds good.] 
I have posted this photo tonight for two reasons.  First, it is a funny photo showing how rolley-polley the manatee really are.  They sort of look like floating blimps from this angle.  Even from the front, they are not nature's most attractive mammals to look at, but they are wonderful to watch in their natural environment.

The second reason for mentioning them is because their lives are threatened by the uncapped oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.  Manatees live inland in rivers on the Gulf side of Florida where they are already an endangered species.  If a hurricane occurs before they can get the well fully capped and much of the oil cleaned up, the sludge will undoubtedly end up in all of those waterways leading directly into the Gulf.  If this should occur, only a few of the Manatee could be saved.  Just one more tragic loss.

May the peace of God be with you all.

Saturday, 22 May 2010


Tonight's drawing is the flowering plant, Oxalis. 

Oxalis is by far the largest genus in the wood-sorrel family Oxalidaceae.  The genus occurs throughout most of the world except in the polar areas.

Many of the species are known as wood-sorrels as they have an acidic taste reminiscent of the unrelated Sorrel proper.  Some species are called yellow-sorrels or pink-sorrels after the colour of their flowers.  Others are known as false shamrocks because of the shamrock shape of the leaves.

I guess my drawing could be called "Pink-Sorrels" since the colour of the flower petals is pink -- except when you take a look at what I have come up with in the next picture! 

This is the result of a function I discovered in my fancy software that enables me to create an entirely new colour design.

I really like the way this one turned out.  I have tried it before with other drawings, but it just did not look that good -- but this one is different.  The drawing works just as well, if not better, in these colours than in the "natural" colours.  I would really appreciate some feedback on this.

This next item is the scanned image of a fridge magnet that I created.  

This online company that is always trying to get my business, recently sent me an offer I could not refuse.  The offer said that if I created my own design, they would print 25 fridge magnets for me for free!  This is the result.

If you would like one, please let me know.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for wolves as I have mentioned before.  Part of it comes, I think, from an early realization that they were outcasts who were always spoken of in a negative way.  The "underdog" so to speak!  

Then there was the year I worked with Dr. Pimlott at the University of Toronto -- his speciality was the study of wolves.  He and his students would spend summers way north following the caribou and monitoring wolf packs/families, observing the behaviours and interactions of the wolves.  I got the job of typing up research papers and, in the process, learned a great deal, including respect for this intelligent, family-oriented animal.

This photograph seems to show a really pensive expression on the face of a lone wolf -- maybe an older sibling longing for the day when he can start his own family.  Who knows the thoughts and feelings of the creatures with whom we share this planet.


May peace be with you all.


Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Mother and Child

As you can see, I am back to doing icon-type drawings.  This one of the Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus is entitled, "Holy Theotokos".  

I know nothing about the origin of this particular version of an Eleusa-type icon (Greek for "tenderness"), with the traditional pose of the Christ Child snuggling up to his Mother's cheek.  I saw a similarly coloured icon in a list of greeting cards on a Catholic site and was immediately drawn to the bright colours that had been used (surprise, surprise!).  My drawing is similar, but the additional patterns (such as the halos) are of my own choosing.

This drawing, by the way, makes my heart happy when I look at it.  Even though it is non-traditional in many ways, it still pleases me. 

Here is another recent drawing of a mother and child.  I have named it "Mother and Child (Horses)".  

Every so often I have to try my hand at drawing horses.  Strangely enough, while I am working on the drawing, I feel very pleased about how the project is going; however, after I am finished, I feel dissatisfied and I have to fight the urge to delete what I have done and start over again!  Now that I reflect on it, I realize that I feel that way about all my drawings of animals.  Hmmmm.

This image was sent to me by a friend along with some other delightful images of wild creatures.  What is it about such pictures that make us say "Oh, that is so cute ... look at that little baby" and similar remarks.  

I saw a young woman with her new baby today.  We were on the same elevator at the hospital (along with her mother).  She said she had just come from a doctor's appointment for the baby.  I could see the infant was quite young.  When I asked "how old", she replied "12 days".  I wanted to say "Oh, she is so adorable -- may I hold her?" , but I restrained myself.  I think we are just hard wired to be drawn to the young of almost every mammalian species.

I couldn't help but think as I watched the baby leave, cradled carefully in her mother's arms:  "you, little one, are only 12 days old -- you are brand new -- you have so much living ahead of you -- so much to learn -- so much to discover."  Then I said a little prayer that she would have a long and happy life.

This is not really a mother and child, rather it is an aunt and a new nephew -- but I love the expression on this baby's face.  The aunt's face is also lovely -- peaceful and content -- as she holds this little child.

Well, this is enough for tonight.  I am having to take a bit of extra medication these days as the result of an injury to my shoulder and arm -- so I am feeling a bit sleepy.  

I should be posting again on the 22nd unless I get a sudden urge to show you a new sketch or something!  So, until next time, "may the peace of God be with you all."

Friday, 14 May 2010

The 14th Day

Well, here I am back again with a new icon.  This one is of St. John of the Cross.

The feast day of this saint is December 14th -- which just happens to be my birthday -- so he is my patron saint.  Today is the 14th of May so I felt it was appropriate to post this drawing today.  As well, I can take this opportunity to remind you that it is exactly 7 months, to the day, until my birthday!

For those of you who may not know, St. John of the Cross was a close friend of St. Teresa of Avila (also known as the great St. Teresa).  He helped to reform the men's part of the Carmelite Order while St. Teresa did the same for the women's.  St. John, like St. Teresa, suffered much persecution and ill-treatment during his lifetime, but, eventually, the Discalced Carmelites were well established and continue, to this day, to give many saints -- both women and men -- to the church.  "Discalced", by the way, refers to the fact that these contemplatives do not wear shoes, only sandals (year around)!

Next, I want to show you three cat photos from a series of photos entitled: "Cat in a Box".  Being a long-time cat lover, I can attest to the authenticity of these photographs as I have seen cats sleep in positions in which it would seem totally impossible to breath, much less sleep -- soundly!  However, here is a bit of photographic proof:

The question is "Why do cats like to cram themselves into tight fitting places to sleep?"  They remind me of children with Asperger's Syndrome (mild autism) who feel most comfortable when they squeeze their bodies into a tight tube-like space.  Very interesting behaviour on the part of cats.

Now this character is exactly what I am talking about when I mentioned positions that would seem to make it impossible to breathe, much less sleep.  It is amazing how comfortable this cat actually looks while twisted like a pretzel. 

This fellow, on the other hand, decided to sleep in a box requiring no acrobatic contortions!  What I would really like to see, however, is how this kitty wiggles out of the box when his caregiver calls out "din-din"!  I would think that would be a very comical sight worthy of a video on You Tube.

So, my next posting will be on the 18th -- four days from now.  I will see how I feel about this four day business as time passes.  I may find that I just cannot go four days without posting a sketch or drawing and spouting off about something or other.  We'll see.

May the peace of God be with you all.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010


                               Hot Pink Orchids by Sallie Thayer

Dear Friends:  This is to let you know that I have decided that I need to change my posting schedule.  

From now on, I will be posting every 4 days instead of every two.

There is just too much going on in my life at present.  This is causing me to start feeling that posting is a burden when it used to be real joy to share a post with you every other day.

So, for the time being anyway, I plan to post every four days starting each month on the first even numbered day.

This week will be a bit different as I plan to submit my next posting on Friday, the 14th with the next post on the 18th and so on.

May peace be with you all.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Saxifraga stolonifera

Tonight's drawing of Saxifraga stolonifera is an enlargement of what is really a small flowering plant often used as ground cover as shown in the photo just below.

I was inspired to do this drawing when my friend, Hylott (from Birmingham, Alabama) sent me a photograph of Saxifraga stolonifera growing in his yard this spring -- although he called it "Strawberry Begonia" which is one of several common names for the plant.  It is also known as "Strawberry Geranium"  although it is neither a geranium nor a begonia!

This plant is native to Asia but has been introduced to most other continents, mainly for use as an ornamental.  A popular garden flower, it has attractive white blossoms with distinctive pointed petals and a bright yellow centre.  Its creeping green foliage makes good groundcover.  The plant spreads via threadlike "stolon" (or runners) which is where the "stolon" comes from in its species name.  The foliage is occasionally used fresh or cooked in Japanese cuisine.

This plant is of the family, Saxifragaceae; genus, Saxifraga; species S. stolonifera.   

Next I want to show you a series of fascinating photos sent to me this past week by my friend, Amra.  She knows how much I enjoy photos of all those wonderful creatures with whom we share the planet and I especially like such photos when they tell a wonderful story such as the following:

                            I COME IN PEACE

These striking images of a wild polar bear coming upon tethered sled dogs in the wilds of Canada's Hudson Bay were taken by Norbert Rosing.  The photographer was sure he was going to see the end of his dogs when the polar bear wandered in.  

It is hard to believe that this polar bear only needed a hug!  The polar bear returned every night that week to play with the dogs and to get his nightly hug.  
See below.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if people could make peace so easily.

So allow me to say:  "peace be with you all".

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Diamorpha smallii

Tonight's drawing is of a very small plant by the name of Diamorpha smallii (some botanists want to call it Sedum smallii for some reason, but you will have to ask them about it as I don't understand their arguments!).

I do know that Diamorpha is a genus of the family, Crassulaceae, which includes the species, Diamorpha smalliiD. smallii is endemic to the southeastern United States.  It becomes active in late Fall and Winter, blooms in late March and then dies.  It has red, succulent leaves that act to reflect light and hold water.

I became interested in this plant because my friend, Jay, sent me a photo of D. smallii as it appears in the wild (see a similar photo below).  I then began to search for photos online and finally found a good picture to work from, including the "group shot" of the flowers below.

             "Group Shot" of Diamorpha smallii

Diamorpha smallii as it appears in the wild, just after blooming in March.

It tends to grow in these low-lying patches on rock surfaces and from a distance looks like pools of reddish-purple water!

From my readings I discovered that there are actually people who go to the southeastern U.S. during March just to see Diamorpha smallii in bloom!

This photo with its caption made me laugh -- I hope it makes you laugh as well, or at the very least, gives you a chuckle!

May peace of God be with you all.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Variation on a Theme -- Icons

Our Lady of Vladimir (variation of original) drawing by S. Thayer

Our Lady of Vladimir (original icon)

First of all, let me apologize for failing to post anything on the 4th of May.  I absolutely, completely, forgot about it!  See what happens when you get to be an old lady?!!  Anyway, to those of you who were wondering if I was sick or something, no, I am fine, just forgetful.

Now for today's drawing.

I came across a modern Russian icon of Our Lady -- in the tradition of Our Lady of Vladimir -- which was called "Theotokos of Vladimirskaya"  which, translated, is "Mother of God of Vladimir".  As you can see from the two images above (my drawing and the photo), my drawing looks very little like the original icon other than the pose of Mother and Child.

The "Vladimir Madonna" is one of the most venerated Orthodox icons and a typical example of Byzantine iconography.  Even more that most famous icons, the original has been copied repeatedly for centuries.  Many copies now have considerable artistic and religious significance of their own.  The icon is a version of the Eleusa (Greek for "tenderness") type, with the Christ Child snuggling up to his Mother's cheek.  

I have drawn a number of these Eleusa type icons over the past few years -- with the one below being one of the more traditional ones:

Our Lady of Tenderness (drawing by S. Thayer)

My version shows the heads more prominently than the original and does not show Our Lady's hand; however, it is definitely an attempt to capture the tenderness expressed in the original.

Next, I want to show you something that my friend, Jay, sent to me recently along with a photograph.  It is a story both tragic and heartwarming about a young deer.

Jay writes: 

"Yesterday, a lady came to select photos I had taken of her family.  She told me about finding a baby deer on the side of the road that had been knocked from its mother’s womb by an automobile accident three weeks ago.  She just happened to have it in the car with her, so I took his picture in my yard.
His right rear hoof was damaged but is being cared for by a veterinarian."

I call him the "Miracle Deer" -- I mean, what is the likelihood that the mother would be struck by a car at just the right time for her baby to be born -- and that the baby would be knocked from her womb and survive!  Amazing.
I am posting this early today since I failed to post on Tuesday.  This way I will definitely not forget!  I will try my best in the future to remember to post on all even-numbered days!

May peace be with you all and with all of creation.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Flowering Quince

You may recall that I did a drawing of Flowering Quince some time ago -- it contained both flowers and ripe fruit on the same branch which is not really how it works.  Anyway, this drawing is much more accurate and just contains blossoms and the remains of blossoms -- which is how it really works in nature.

As you may recall from my previous posting about this flowering tree, the genus is Chaenomeles in the family of Rosaceae (the rose family). This is another plant that originated in Asia. The flowers that appear in early spring are quite striking as you can see above.

Later, a green, apple-like fruit is produced which can be used in preserves or jellies. The fruit is too bitter to eat right off the tree.

Next I want to show you some sweet photos from my "doggie" collection.  The ones I am posting tonight are all about doggie hugs!

There is nothing quite like a child and his or her dog.  This is such a lovely photo.  It appears that the boy and the dog might have been separated for a while and that is why the lad seems so delighted to hug his pet again.  The dog looks patient, almost sad and very vulnerable with his (her) pink tongue peeking out. 

This is another sweet photo of a child with her beloved pet.  Her hug is not a very graceful one, but it does look totally sincere.  It looks to me as though they both might have been running with the dog doing a lot more running than the young lady.  This would explain why the dog's tongue is hanging out.  I think the doggie might be more interested in getting some cold water instead of getting a hug!

This final photo has been around for some time, but remains one of my favourites.  This little boy may just be hugging his dog, but when I look at this picture, I always see him crying into the side of his pet.  I remember doing this when I was his age and there is nothing quite as comforting as telling all your troubles to your puppy dog.  Who else but your dog will lick your tears away and make little whining sounds of comfort.

I hope everyone who sees this posting will get busy praying that the winds will change in the Gulf of Mexico so that the fragile ecosystems of the wetlands and beaches will be spared the devastation that will be caused if all that oil reaches shore.  This is a man-made mess that is almost totally out of control.  We need a whole lot of divine intervention here -- in my opinion!

May peace be with us all.