Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Last Day of June

It is difficult to believe that tomorrow is already the 1st of July -- Canada Day.  The year is already a little over half finished and I am left wondering where did all the months go!  How quickly time passes as we get older, bringing us ever closer to the day when we will enter into timelessness -- eternity.  Have you ever tried to imagine timelessness?  It always makes my head feel very tired!  However, I do believe that is what awaits us after this life ends.  The part that worries me a bit is that outside of time, all my mistakes, bad choices and sinfulness will be clearly evident -- from beginning to end -- nothing will be hidden.  Thank goodness I believe in the infinite mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Which leads me to the drawing I have posted tonight.  It is a new icon and one entirely of my fashioning.  As you know, I usually work from one of the traditional icons of Christ, our Blessed Mother and the saints.  However, this icon, entitled "Sacred Heart of Jesus/Last Supper" is one I created out of an idea that came to me while watching a documentary on the shrine church of the apparitions of the Sacred Heart when Christ appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647 - 1690).  Through her the image and devotion were made known to the whole Catholic world.

One of the priests being interviewed was giving an overview of the history of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  He said that the first mention of this was in the story of the Last Supper when we are told that the "Beloved Disciple" (St. John) was leaning his head against the arm of Jesus.  I had never thought of this particular scene as being part of the Sacred Heart tradition and I immediately wanted to do an icon of that scene.  The above drawing is the result.

Although it is not really part of the traditional images used in icons, I chose to put in the heart symbol with a flame atop it such as we find in the European paintings of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I also purposely had Christ looking out, away from St. John, to show that this depiction of Our Lord is not some kind of me and Jesus tradition but, like all things the Church has given us, it is meant to include us and all our brothers and sisters.  St. John, leaning lovingly against the side of his Lord, appears totally enraptured by the bread and wine before him.  I was trying to express how I feel we should try to be when we kneel before the Lord truly present at the Consecration or in the Tabernacle.

As always, I would really appreciate comments.  Since this is my own idea, hopefully an inspired idea, but still mine, I am open to suggestions, recommendations and criticisms.

I chose the photograph of the dog to show you because it makes me laugh.  I don't know how they got the dog to pose this way, but to me his pose looks like a man about town sort of guy!  If I were creating a caption for the photo, I think I would put:  "That's MISTER DOG to you, buddy"!!

I really gave a shout of delight when I first saw this photo.  No wonder it feels as though my ear is being roughly rubbed with sandpaper each time Suki decides to give it a good cleaning!  Just look at the bristles on that tongue. 

I find this to be a fascinating photo as it tells me something important about the type of animal companions I have chosen to spend my life with.  Now I understand better why the vet is always warning me about not letting the cat have strings, yarn and such -- once that tongue has caught something in those bristles, it is not going to let it go until it goes down into the stomach and intestines.  The bristles are so strong and inward curving that it would seem there would be no way the animal could spit something out once it was caught.  Unfortunately, pills do not have the composition of yarn and so a cat finds it exceedingly easy to spit them out -- over and over again!

It is late.  I just finished teaching another marriage preparation class so I think I will call it day.  I pray that all of you will have a Happy Canada Day tomorrow and for those Americans who are reading this, just be patient, the 4th is only a few days away!

May the peace of God be with you.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Sticky Monkey Flowers

Diplacus [Mimulus] aurantiacus ( of the Family, Phrymaceae) is the scientific name of Sticky Monkey Flowers, also known as Orange Bush Monkey-Flowers.  This brightly-coloured, rather strange looking flower is a native of south-western North America.  Its range is from southwestern Oregon, south through most of California.  It has green, sticky leaves (hence, its name of Sticky Monkey Flower) and occurs in colours from white to red.  However, the majority of the blossoms are some shade of orange.

It is a favourite of hummingbirds and bees.  The Native Americans of the area used its flowers and roots to treat a number of ailments, but it was particularly useful for its antiseptic properties as it expedited the healing of minor scrapes and burns.

All in all, in my opinion, its a rather funny-looking flower but is does have a great name!

This next drawing is, obviously, another icon.  

I drew this icon a number of months ago at the request of a guy who said he would like to purchase an icon of Christ drawn in the style of the famous "Christ Pantokrator" from the 6th century -- the one in St. Catherine's Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai.

Well, I did the drawing but he never got back to me about it -- so, now, I cannot remember if I showed it to you at the time or not.  Here it is.  I find it to be a reasonably OK copy of the famous icon (not nearly as good, of course), but decent.  Each half of the face is supposed to give you a slightly different impression.  I would really like some opinions about this drawing.  Thanks.

Here we have some more mother and baby photos from the large pps that a friend sent me.

The caption I would put with this one is:

                "Aww, mom, do I really have to go to school today?"   

I would really appreciate hearing from you about what sort of caption you would put with these photos.

"Junior, please ask your father to give you your breakfast, I am just too tired to turn over!"

I can't imagine how the father could feed the baby unless the baby has started eating fish already.  Otherwise, sooner or later, mom is going to have to turn over and allow Junior to nurse!

The creatures of the earth are so amazingly wonderful in their uniqueness, similarity and complexity.

Oh, by the way, this posting was supposed to ready last night; however, I just ran out of day -- suddenly it was almost midnight and I realized that I had forgotten to do what I intended to do earlier!  So, the only solution was to do it on the 27th instead of the 26th.  At last, here it is.  

May the peace of God be with you all.

P.S.  I did not even talk about the G20 protesters as it would not be good for my blood pressure.  Fortunately, they stayed away from my downtown neighbourhood.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Story of Glastonbury

Both of tonight's drawings have to do with the story of Glastonbury.  The photos included are also part of the Glastonbury saga.

You may be asking yourself "just what is the Glastonbury story?"  Well, let me tell you about it.

The story goes that when the first persecution of the followers of Jesus began in Jerusalem (see the beginning of the Book of Acts), St. Joseph of Arimathea and others set sail for some safer place.  Joseph, as you may recall, was the wealthy man who gave up the tomb he had reserved for himself so that Jesus could be properly buried.  Anyway, a group of these early Christians finally landed in what is now England at a place that came to be known as Glastonbury.  Joseph is said to have climbed the hill near the shore using the staff that had once belonged to Jesus.  Halfway up the hill he paused to rest and while leaning heavily on his staff, it suddenly took root in the earth, and quickly grew into a type of Hawthorn tree found only in the Mediterrean east.  Unlike most Hawthrone trees this tree blooms twice a year -- at Christmas and at Easter!

The original tree is long gone, cut down by the Puritans; however, cuttings had been hidden away and after the restoration of the throne in England, these were brought out and planted.  So the tree found at Glastonbury today is of the same stock as the original.  Many have since tried to grow the Glastonbury Holy Thorn from seed and direct cuttings, but they always revert to the normal Hawthorn type, flowering only in the spring.  It is only the tree on Glastonbury that continues to bloom at Christmas and at Easter.

Here is my drawing of a spray of flowers from the Glastonbury Holy Thorn.  This tree bears the formal name of Crataegus Oxyacantha praecox.  It is a plant of Mediterranean origin, but, which in Somerset (England) blooms twice yearly: at Christmas and at Easter.  The family name for the tree is Rosaceae

The Glastonbury Holy Thorn, as with all Hawthorn trees, is useful in various ways.  For example, an infusion of Hawthron is used to treat various heart and circulatory problems and to support digitalis therapy.  The young leaves are good in salads and there are various other uses in traditional European herbalism.  The fruit of the Hawthorn, called haws, is edible and is commonly made into jellies, jams and syrups.  The haws can also be used to make wine and to add flavour to brandy. 

Here is a photograph of an old tree grown from the cuttings taken from the original Glastonbury Holy Thorn.  Notice the masses of intertwining branches of this historic tree.  In case you can't read it, the sign says: "Glastonbury Thorn -- The Original Thorn Grew On Wyrral Hill".  The other spelling for the name of the hill that St. Joseph was climbing when his staff took root is "Wearyall".

This photo shows a Glastonbury Holy Thorn tree growing near the site of Glastonbury Abbey.  This ancient tree died at the end of the 1900's, but cuttings keep the special tree of Glastonbury still growing on the holy hill.

       Ruins of the Glastonbury Abbey pillaged by King Henry VIII after he set himself up as the Head of the English Church.

Glastonbury was the site of a huge abbey during the centuries the Catholic Church flourished in England.  It was always a place of pilgrimage and remains so to this day.  Visitors see the ruins of the great abbey and the descendants of the original Glastonbury Holy Thorn.

This site is famous for several other reasons as well.  Legend has it that this site played an important role in the life of King Arthur.  Even more importantly to some researchers, however, is the legend that says that St. Joseph of Arimathea brought with him the cup used by Christ at the "last supper" and that it remains hidden at Glastonbury.  This is the "holy grail" which plays such an important part in the story of King Arthur.


May peace be with you.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Sego Lily

I have several different things to show you tonight.  I want to start off with the State Flower of Utah -- the Sego Lily.

Calochortus nuttallii is the proper name of the Sego Lily.  The Family of C. nuttallii is Liliaceae.  This lily has a fascinating history in America as reported in the State of Utah's description of their state flower.  They write:
"By an act of the Utah State Legislature, approved on March 18, 1911, the Sego Lily was declared to be the State floral emblem (Utah Code). Kate C. Snow, President of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, in a letter dated April 17, 1930, says that "between 1840 and 1851" food became very scarce in Utah due to a crop-devouring plague of crickets, and that 'the families were put on rations, and during this time they learned to dig for and to eat the soft, bulbous root of the Sego Lily. The memory of this use, quite as much as the natural beauty of the flower, caused it to be selected in after years by the Legislature as the floral emblem of the State'. The Sego Lily was made the official state flower after a census was taken of the state's school children as to their preference for a state flower. The Sego Lily, Calochortus nuttalli, has white, lilac, or yellow flowers and grows six to eight inches high on open grass and sage rangelands in the Great Basin during the summer months."

The bulbs of the Sego Lily were roasted, boiled or made into porridge by the Native Americans of that area.  This was considered a great delicacy by the aboriginal peoples of the plains.  These days the bulbs are mostly the food of pocket gophers and other rodents.  I wonder what the nutritional value of these bulbs is -- they are probably much better for people to eat than McDonald's!

Next I want to show you a recent drawing I did of Suki.  As you may or may not be aware, drawing a black cat in the normal way gives you a picture of eyes in a black mass -- very boring.  So, I decided to liven things up by being a bit more artsy with my drawing.  Here is the result.

She does look a bit like some kind of wild beast, but, to be honest, I kind of like it.  I will keep experimenting with techniques that might work and eventually I will find a way to show what she looks like without using such unusual shading!

Next I want to show you some delightful photos of mothers with their babies...

Talk about your bad hair days -- this baby is the poster child for bad hair!  His mom's hair isn't that great either so many it just runs in the family.  Anyway, in spite of the hair, he is kinda cute.

This mom seems to be saying "What can I do?  The minute I put him down, he starts crying again!"  What amazes me is how small the baby is in comparison to his mother.  Such a wee, little thing.  I bet he has a cute face.

I find this a very delightful photo.  I do not know what type of "monkey" this is, but she is truly beautiful.  If anyone knows the proper name of this lady, please let me know. When I look at this picture, I feel like she is saying:  "I hope my little girl grows up to be as beautiful as I am."  

Well, speaking of beauty, I hope you all are enjoying the beautiful summer glories of our earth.  Don't take them for granted, however -- our greed may take them away at any time -- like the tragedy taking place in the Gulf of Mexico.

May peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Better Late than Never!

Yesterday afternoon, I reminded myself that the 14th was the day for another posting on my blog.  Then, somehow, between then and last night, I completely forgot about the blog.  Instead I spent the evening working on a new drawing, completely absorbed in the act of creating.  So, as the title says "Better Late than Never".  

The first drawing I want to show you is the icon (above) entitled "Three Young Men in a Fiery Furnace".  This icon is an unusual depiction of an event from the Book of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible (see Daniel 3 and following).  King Nebuchadnezzar had ordered a huge, golden statue to be built and whenever the King commanded, all the people were to bow down before the statue.  Well, three of the Hebrew slaves refused to bow since they followed the 10 commandments Moses had received from God, one of which said: they were to worship no other gods than the one true God.

The three young men were named Ananiah (Shadrach), Azariah (Abednego) and Mishael (Meshach).  [the difference in the names occurs because of different translations from either Hebrew or Greek]  As punishment for disobeying the King, these three young men were thrown into a fiery furnace -- believe me, it was hot.  They were not afraid as they said that if their God delivered them that would be wonderful, but if He did not, they would die knowing that they had not worshipped idols.

After being thrown into the furnace, the soldiers and the King and his court could see the three young men walking about in the fire, appearing to be completely comfortable.  As well, King Nebuchadnezzar could see a fourth figure with them in the fire who appeared to be god-like.  The King then ordered the three young men to be removed from the furnace and found that they did not even have the smell of fire upon them or their clothes.  A decree was then issued by the King saying that anyone who blasphemed the God of Ananiah, Azariah and Mishael would be put to death.  As well, all the Hebrew slaves were now free to refrain from worshipping the King's golden statue and many were even promoted to positions of authority in the King's government.

This is what the icon is protraying.  As you can see, iconographers have always considered that the fourth person in the furnace was the Word of God, the 2nd person of the Trinity who eventually would take on human flesh and form in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Now I want to show you a couple of photos depicting our animal friends in some rather embarrassing situations!

     This is so embarrassing -- I mean, I know they like me, but this is ridiculous!

Seriously, if anyone knows why they are climbing all over him, please let me know as I haven't a clue...

     "Shocking and somewhat embarrassing -- people calling themselves human apes"

I really never thought about it, but how do you think apes might feel if they could understand that many educated people consider that humans have evolved from apes.  I think they might look at us and at our behaviour and shake their hairy heads in disbelief that many people could actually believe that humans are an improved version of the ape.  I mean, when was the last time you heard of apes stockpiling nuclear warheads?  

Oh, well, that's enough of my ranting.  Since this is being posted on the 15th, I could wait until the 19th before posting again; however, I will probably be posting on the 18th, this Friday.  Talk to you then.

May the peace that passes human understanding be with you today and always.                                                                                 

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Coneflowers plus Wood Anemone

Tonight's first drawing is a rather wild version of Purple Cone flowers.

Echinacea purpurea or Eastern Purple Coneflower is a species of flowering plant in the genus Echinacea and of the Family, Asteraceae.  It is native to eastern North America and present to some extent in the wild in much of the eastern, southeastern and midwest United Stated and Canada.  Its habitats include dry, open woods, prairies and barrens as well as cultivated flower beds.  It is unable to grow in the shade, but can even tolerate drought once it is well established.

Most of us have heard of the medicinal benefits of Echinacea as it is commonly believed to stimulate the immune system.  I have used it in the past as a "natural" cold remedy although I am not sure it really helped at all.

The most difficult part of this drawing were those Coneflower centres -- I was not able to draw them exactly as they grow since it is so very difficult to draw tiny things properly with a computer mouse!

This second drawing is the "real" Wood Anemone.  I have shown you drawings in the past of different types of Anemones, but the simple one show above is actually the basic plant.

Its proper name is Anemone quinquefolia of the Family, Ranunculaceae.  It flowers early in the spring and is native to North America.  There is also a European species by the name of Anemone nemorosa which is found in gardens in North America but is not a native.

As with all Anemones, A. quinquefolia has no true petals.  What appears to be petals are really sepals which have assumed the colouring and characteristics of petals -- six in number, pure white on top and pale rose beneath.

In sunshine, the flower is expanded wide, but at the approach of night, it closes and droops its head so that dew may not settle on it and injure it.  The same thing occurs when it rains.  Country folk in the past used to say that the fairies were what actually caused the plant to close at night and in the rain as it gave them a "tent" to keep them warm and dry.  I really like that idea and hope that it is true!

Sadly, such an innocent looking plant is bitter to the taste and poisonous.  Cattle have often been poisoned by the plant.  Greek legends say that Anemos, the Wind, sends his namesakes, the Anemones, in the earliest spring as heralds of his coming.  Pliny affirmed that they only open when the wind blows, hence their other name of Windflowers.

           "That's good, sweetie -- now just scratch a little higher"

So the mama bear might be saying to her baby.  I do love photos of polar bears.  There is something about them that seems to attract us humans -- unless, of course, they are living in our city's garbage dump and being a real nuisance.  I have heard people from way north make comments about polar bears that did not sound very loving!

This is such a funny photo.  I am sure that bear is trying to reach something very tasty without having to actually get in the water.

When I first saw this picture, my immediate thought was that the title of the photo should definitely be: "K--- M- A--!"  I will let you fill in the blanks -- after all this blog is rated for family viewing.
Well, I have gone on for long enough tonight.  This is the problem with posting every four days -- I try to say two posting's worth in one posting!  Well, just skip the boring parts and enjoy the bear photos!

May peace be with you all.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Periwinkles and a Puppy

Everyone has heard of the colour, "periwinkle blue" and it is definitely a lovely shade of blue which I hope I have captured in my drawing above.  I am calling this drawing, not surprisingly, "Periwinkle Blue".

This plant was native to Europe, eastward to the Caucasus and Turkey.  The plant has few pests or diseases outside of its native range and is widely naturalized and classified as an invasive species in parts of North America. 

There are two very similar species of this plant:  Vinca minor and Vinca major.  The determination has to do with hairy or hairless leaf margins -- something I did not try to show in my drawing!  Some of the other common names for this plant include "small periwinkle" and "creeping myrtle".

The dried leaves and in some cases the entire plant of Vinca are used to enhance blood circulation, including that of the brain, enhance metabolism in the brain and treat cardiovascular disorders.

Next, I want to show you another drawing of mine which I call "Puppy waiting to be fed".

I saw a photo of this puppy and could not resist trying to draw it.  I hope I have captured the mournful look of a hungry puppy with those big, big eyes.  I also hope I have done the drawing well enough so that when you first see it, you can't help but say, "Aww, what a cutie".  If so, I will consider the drawing to be a success!

Finally, tonight, I want to show you this funny bear photo I came across.  What a lazy looking fellow is this bear.  He reminds me of the way I must look when I first wake up in the morning, sitting on the edge of my bed while being very tempted to fall over and go right back to sleep!  If I were naming this photo, I think I might call it "Bear barely there".

To all those who celebrate it, I wish you a joyful feast of Corpus Christi.  

To all of you, I pray that peace may be with you -- in your homes and in your hearts.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

St. Joseph with Doves

I am posting a bit early this time.  As you may have noticed, I can be a bit rigid about certain things and one of those things is my preference for even numbers!  I prefer to post on even numbered days -- that way I am less likely to forget to post.  So, here I am on the 2nd day of June.

I want to show you a new icon I finished recently.  I call it the Icon of St. Joseph with Doves.  These doves are the two required to be sacrificed for the baby Jesus, as the first-born son, to fulfil the law of Judaism.  If you recall the icon I did for the Rosary book (the 4th glorious mystery), you will remember that I presented St. Joseph standing on the side of the icon, holding two doves.  I even made a comment about how, unfortunately, the doves were not going to be released at the end of the ceremony!

The scripture quoted on the open scroll in the icon is the famous prophecy of the virginal conception of Jesus from the prophet Isaiah 7:14.


The proper name for this lovely, little plant is Myosotis sylvatica.  The Family is BoraginaceaeMyosotis is Greek for "mouse's ear" because of the shape of the leaf of the plant.  These fragile flowers are widely distributed now throughout the temperate regions of the world although they originated in Europe.

There are a number of legends regarding these flowers.  In one from Germany, it is said that God had supposedly named all the plants, when one tiny, hidden plant cried out: "Forget me not, O Lord!"  God replied, "That shall be your name."

Another legend states that as the Christ Child was sitting on His Mother's lap one day, He said: "I want all future generations to be able to see the colour of your eyes, dear Mother."  He then touched His mother's eyes and waved His hand over the ground.  As He did so, tiny, blue flowers appeared.  Hence the name "Forget-Me-Not".

Here is an actual photo of "Forget-Me-Not" flowers which shows you how small the flowers and leaves really are.

                      A Peaceful Moment of Friendship

And finally tonight, here is a lovely photo of a friendly dolphin greeting another species with great familiarity.  More and more dolphins are turning up dead in the Gulf of Mexico by the way and the oil is still gushing.  What have we done?

Praying that we all will someday live in peace with each other and with creation.