Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Child Abuse Monument

I am starting off this blog by showing you a drawing I did a couple of years ago.  This drawing was done because I wanted to draw a child who was obviously off by himself, somewhat withdrawn.  I guess I was trying to express how I felt as a child.  I would take every opportunity to go off by myself where I would be safe for a little while; where I could gather my strength before going back to face more abuse.  For I, like so many children in this world, grew up in a very abusive home.

So, in this posting, I want to tell you about a project I have been involved with since 1997/98 and I also want to show you how you can help me and others to finally complete this wonderful venture.

Dr. Michael Irving, a psychologist and artist par excellence, had a vision of a way to help people who had grown up as he did -- in abusive situations.  In fact, I cannot even begin to comprehend the kind of abuse he suffered.  Anyway, his vision was to create a  monument to express the suffering of children who are abused as well as the strengths they develop because they survive the abuse.  The basic element in this monument was to be a simple hand print.

You need to go to his web site to get the whole story, but I want to give you some information here as well as showing you my contribution.

This first photo gives you some idea of what the monument would look like when it is finished and standing, hopefully, somewhere in the area close to Queen's Park in Toronto.  The difficulty with a photo is that you simply cannot get the feeling for how massive these figures will be and how impressive they are when seen close up.  This photo, obviously, is manipulated since the second figure is not yet finished and neither figure is standing anywhere near Queen's Park!

Here you see Dr. Michael in front of the figure that is finished -- he is posing for the camera as he is obviously not working at the moment!  Often when he is working,  he has a welder's mask on and a blow torch in his hand!

Here is a photo of a child experiencing the finished figure close up.  The desire to touch and feel the "quilt squares" is almost instinctive.  They call for that sort of tactile experience.  People will really be able to "feel" their way around this monument while gaining a sense of the suffering of children.

As the years have passed and Dr. Michael and friends continue to try to get the monument finished and in place, he has gotten school children across Ontario involved in the project.  Many children have now drawn their own hands on a piece of paper, decorated it after learning a bit about child abuse and then had their drawings collected so that they can be included inside the second statue.

Now for a bit of information about how this all works.

Every person who was interested, paid a fee and then came to the studio where each one made a plaster cast of their hand print.  This sounds simple but was really a very powerful experience for most of us -- all of whom were abuse survivors.  That hand print, when you looked at it, said "I am really here and I have a right to exist".

The photo above is, clearly, my hand print and my quilt square.  Dr. Michael took the plaster casts and made a square we could work on and "decorate".  As you can see, I ended up putting a nail through my wrist (the real way Christ would have been crucified) to show how I felt for all those growing up years as though I was being crucified, nailed to a cross my parents never allowed me to get off of.  But then, out of my palm there grows a rose, a rose in bloom.  This was to symbolize the growth and beauty that came out of all this pain and suffering.  I am a survivor and I have become a person I value because of it.

At the top I have written "breaking the silence" which is what I finally did after years of keeping it all inside.  At the bottom is my full name because I am saying to the world "I will not be silent anymore".  Then, if you look closely, you will see a small flame coming out of the tip of my little finger.  I have never been really sure what I was trying to say by that, but I do know that I had to have it there -- the square would have been incomplete without it.

Finally, there's a list of names under the heading "In Gratitude".  These are people who contributed in some way when I was raising funds to pay my fee.  By the way, there were people who were not able to pay the fee and I understand that exceptions were made for them.

There is also a prayer attached to my square which I memorized some years ago.  I don't remember who the author was so we just put "author unknown".  The prayer is as follows:

Dear God

Please help the children of this world;

They are hurt and hurting

and are crushed beneath the weight of our insanity.

Please bless the children and awaken us before it is too late.


(Author Unknown)

What Dr. Michael is doing at present is gathering names on a petition to be presented to the provincial government, asking for a space to place the monument when that is finished.  You can help.  Here is what Dr. Michael is saying:

"We have established an online petition to ask the Province of Ontario to accept the gift of the Monument and confirm they will allow it to be placed in a park-like setting at the northwest corner of College Street
and University Avenue in Toronto.  Please visit the Monument website, http://www.childabusemonument.com/, click on the petition link and add your voice to our plea.  And of course, tell others to do the same. Please leave comments in the comment box of the petition that state strongly what the Monument means and why is should have a prominent home."

Please take a moment after reading this and go to the web site and sign the petition.  It would mean a great deal to a great many people who have suffered tremendously as well as those who are still suffering from childhood abuse.  I thank you very much for your help.

Now, after all that seriousness, I want to show you a couple of really strange photos.  You may have seen them previously, but I hadn't and I must say, I find them amazing examples of the absolute unpredictability of nature.

If you can read the information given, you will see that the tiger was suckled by a pig for the first four months after birth.  The tiger now plays with piglets as though she is one of them -- not realizing that they would make very tasty snacks!

And, here, I suppose, we have mother and child!  I am not sure if it is the same tiger as the colouring seems to be a bit different than the previous photo.  Whatever the case may be, it is still an amazing sight.  I would imagine that the zoo keepers would have to be very careful not to ever feed the tiger any pork -- that would be too traumatic for words!

I continue to do reasonably well.  I am looking forward very much to my birthday in 14 more days (not counting today).  Otherwise, I am just trying to acclimate myself to the cold weather.  It does seem to get more difficult to do each year as I get older.

Suki, on the other hand, is doing just fine and manages somehow to insert herself into whatever I happen to be doing.  The only place I can be alone is in the shower and even then she often sits just outside the bathroom door waiting for me to finish.  I really think she has some attachment issues.  Probably they are due to all those months she spent living in a cage at the Toronto Humane Society!
May you find plenty of peaceful moments among all the busy ones as we begin to make our way towards Christmas!

Friday, 26 November 2010

St. Sharbel Makhlouf

Have you ever heard of St. Sharbel Makhlouf, a hermit monk, from Lebanon?  Well, this saint from the Maronite branch of the Catholic Church has become a favourite of mine.  He lived for a number of years as a monk but then, like Thomas Merton, moved into his hermitage and lived the eremitic life for his remaining years.  He has been called "a St. Anthony of the Desert in the modern age".  I guess a life lived from 1828 to 1898 could be called modern in comparison to St. Anthony who died in 356!  So, let me tell you a bit about the holy hermit, St. Sharbel.

Although this saint never traveled far from the Lebanese village of Beka-Kafra, where he was born, his influence has spread widely.

Joseph Zaroun Maklouf was raised by an uncle because his father, a mule driver, died when Joseph was only three. At the age of 23, Joseph joined the Monastery of St. Maron at Annaya, Lebanon, and took the name Sharbel in honor of a second-century martyr. He professed his final vows in 1853 and was ordained six years later.

Following the example of the fifth-century St. Maron, Sharbel lived as a hermit from 1875 until his death. His reputation for holiness prompted people to seek him to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. He followed a strict fast and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. When his superiors occasionally asked him to administer the sacraments to nearby villages, Sharbel did so gladly.

He died in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Christians and non-Christians soon made his tomb a place of pilgrimage and of cures. Pope Paul VI beatified him in 1965 and canonized him 12 years later.

When St. Sharbel was canonized in 1977, Bishop Francis Zayek wrote:  "St. Sharbel is called the second St. Anthony of the Desert, the Perfume of Lebanon, the first Confessor of the East to be raised to the Altars according to the actual procedure of the Catholic Church, the honour of our Aramaic Antiochian [Maronite] Church, and the model of spiritual values and renewal.  Sharbel is like a Cedar of Lebanon standing in eternal prayer on top of a mountain."

So, now you have been introduced to my friend, St. Sharbel Makhlouf.  Hopefully, you will hear more about him in the years to come.  By the way, make certain that you take a close look at the drawing of St. Sharbel or you might miss some parts of it!
Next, I have a series of photos for you.  These are not new photos but they have been appearing and re-appearing recently on the Internet in emails I have been receiving.  So, I thought, just in case you missed them, I should post them as they are really worth seeing.  I guess they fall under the heading of "unusual friendships".

So let me introduce you to the deer and the cat.

The cat lives in Pennsylvania and almost every day the deer comes to pay the cat a visit and then they go through the routine that follows.

The cat appears to be trying to groom the deer beginning at the back end!

Apparently, the cat is continuing to groom and not making a great deal of progress.  The deer seems to be enjoying the experience.

I have no idea how long it has taken the cat to get to the head of the deer, but it would appear that the grooming process is just about over!

Finally, the cat is finished and can take a well-deserved rest.  The deer seems to be saying thank you for a job well done.

My only thought would be that the poor cat must spit up an incredibly large hair ball after each and every visit of his friend.  Oh, well, that is sort of what friendship is all about -- if  you understand what I am saying!
As for me, things continue along as usual.  Suki hasn't done anything outrageous for the past few days -- no doubt she is working up to something! 

Even though it is the end of November, I still can't quite get my head around the idea that December is almost here.  December, as many of you know, contains a number of my favourite days:  the birthdays of my two sisters and myself as well as the birthday of my grandnephew, Daniel, and my friend, Nancy; the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the 12th and, most importantly, Christmas.  This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent and the Advent Season only has four Sundays, so... it's not long now before the big day!  Yikes -- I still haven't made any birthday or Christmas cards.  That is definitely my weekend project.

May God bless you all.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Mandevilla and Glasswing

Well, it is back to flowers again and for once, I did not even use my funny software on this one -- you are getting the original drawing!

This flower, by the way is called a Mandevilla plant.  In the past it was called Dipladenia, but is now called Mandevilla which I think is much prettier.  Anyway, the Mandevilla plant is a genus that includes about 100 species, mostly tropical and subtropical flowering vines belonging to the Apocynaceae, or Periwinkle Family.  The many species of Mandevilla are native to Central and South America, coming originally from the forests near Rio in Brazil.  The genus was named after Henry Mandeville, a British diplomat and gardener who died in 1861.  He must of been the first one to describe the plant for the official literature of the time!  The colours include red, white, pink and yellow and Mandevillas can be trained to grow against a wall or trellis.

The Mandevilla scabra species is sometimes used as an additive to a psychedelic drink, but there is no evidence that it is a psychoactive in its own right.  It is, however considered to be toxic.

Next I want to show you my drawing of a Glasswing Butterfly.  This delightfully different butterfly is properly called Greta oto.  It is known as a "brush-footed butterfly" and is a member of the subfamily Danainae, tribe Ithomiini and sub-tribe Godyridina.  (How is that for fancy talk?!)  I don't actually know this stuff, I got it from the encyclopedia.  Anyway, its wings are translucent.  Its common English name is Glasswing while the Spanish name is more descriptive:  espejitos which means "little mirrors".  Indeed the tissue between the veins of its wings looks like glass as it lacks the coloured scales found in other butterflies.  The opaque borders of its wings are dark brown sometimes tinted with red or orange and its body is dark in colour.  Adults range from Mexico through Panama.  I was first made aware of these beautiful butterflies by my friend, Amra, who very kindly sent me some photos of them which I used to do my own drawing.

There is another butterfly also known as glasswings (Ornipholidotos), but it is unrelated.

Now for a couple of silly cat photos.  This first one with a caption is really silly, but it did make me chuckle when I first saw it.  Maybe it will do the same fro you.  If not, perhaps you will at least give a groan!

This next one was in a group of award winning ads that a friend sent to me.  Too many of the winners were all about sex, but this one I thought was quite clever.  As you can see, it is an ad for Diet Pepsi.  Maybe I should feed it to Suki and see if I can get a few of those pounds off her before she gets her Christmas treats!  Although, unfortunately, I do not have any mouse holes for her to crawl into!

Finally, I want to show you a sweet photo of a soundly sleeping dog and a kitty who is wide awake for some reason.  As well, the kitty looks a bit nonplussed for some reason.  At any rate, I like the photograph.

As for me, I have been dealing with a reaction to the flu shot I received last Wednesday.  It has almost been like having a mild case of the flu.  Always in the past I have had flu shots without any reaction other than a slightly sore arm.  This time is different.  I keep hoping each night when I go to bed that I will feel better in the morning, but so far that hasn't happened.  The redness and the swelling in my arm has decreased though so I should be feeling better soon.  I hope!
Suki has done of good job of staying close and looking after me!

May the peace of God be with you all.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Still Life with Flowers

Tonight's featured drawing is somewhat different in that it is not just flowers or an icon, but, instead, it is my latest attempt at a still life -- entitled "Still Life with Calla Lilies".

As you may recall me saying, I am strongly attracted to Calla Lilies and have done a number of drawings of them.  So, when I came across a photo of an arrangement of Calla Lilies in an earthenware vase, I immediately knew that I wanted to do a drawing of them with clay-coloured pots and bowls.  You see the result above.

Of course, I could not resist playing with the drawing, using my crazy software.  The version above is done using something called "gamma correction" and I really like the way it changes everything, including the increased sense of light.  I still prefer my original drawing; however, I do like this one too.

Another recent drawing is the flower of the Hepatica plant (above).  The proper name of this plant is Hepatica nobilis of the family, Ranunculaceae.
Hepatica comes from the word "hepar" or liver, referring to its supposed curative properties.  Nobilis means notable, showy.

David Pivorunas has written:  "In eastern North America, one of the most delightful early blooming species is hepatica (Hepatica nobilis). Its bright blue, white, or pink flowers warm the hearts of all who see them, as they shimmer in the rays of sunshine that reaches the forest floor thru the branches of the leafless trees of earliest springtime. The flowers may not fully open on a rainy day but even on cloudy days it is still quite a thrill to come across the subtle elegance of the partially opened flowers heralding the opening of the new season. The flowers have a fresh, delicate scent, their fragrance promises that spring is just around the corner. Hepatica nobilis is a small evergreen herb found growing in rich woodlands from Minnesota to Maine to Northern Florida west to Alabama. The flowers are most commonly blue or lavender, although white forms may be common locally, especially in southern areas, and there may be various shades of pink."

Now, I would like to show you a couple of lovely photos of mother and child.  These, however, are not the typical images which come to mind when you hear someone speak of "mother and child".  Rather, these are photos of ape mothers and ape babies!

Here we see a mother with her newborn baby resting at her breast.  The mother looks relaxed and alert while the baby seems to be sleeping.  This is one of those photos that makes me want to say "Awww, how sweet."

This next photo is just the opposite of the first!  First of all the baby is older than the newborn and the mother looks neither relaxed nor rested.  Instead, she looks like she is just about at the end of her rope.  I would love to have a photograph of what happened next!

We can almost her the mother saying:  "If I had known being a mother was going to be like this, I would definitely have seen to it that I had a headache that night all those months ago!"

Finally, I want to show you a photo that always makes me laugh.  This lady could simply not carry another apple.  She must be really hungry.  Of course, there may be another reason why she is carrying all this fruit -- she could be taking an apple back for each of her children and friends.  Which one do you think it is?

I think your answer would be very revealing.  I mean, my first assumption was that she is greedy.  What does that say about me?  I think it says that I have a lot of work to do in trying to change my cynical attitude to one of generosity and charity!

I continue to do reasonably well; however, Suki had to see the vet this week!  She had started having some bowel problems similar to those she had when she first came to live with me.  The vet suggested we try the same medication we used the first time and Suki is already much better after three days on the medication.  I must say, though, that my delivery of the medication leaves much to be desired.  It is a chalky, white liquid which I have to deliver by means of a syringe (no needle) placed into the side of Suki's mouth.  Last night, for example, I thought I was going to be able to get the entire dose into her as I only had one "squirt" left in the syringe.  I gave a push to the plunger just as Suki managed to get her head away from me.  The chalky, white liquid went all over the floor and the nearby furniture.  I am sure Suki was laughing to herself as she watched me spend the next 20 minutes cleaning up the mess I had made.  Oh, what a cat!

May peace be with you all.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

St. Josephine Bakhita of Sudan

Today I want to tell you a story about another remarkable saint, St. Josephine Bakhita of Sudan.  You can see the "icon" of her above.  The fancy head gear she is wearing was the traditional "veil" for the Canossian Sisters, an Italian congregation of sisters.  The wear a more traditional type of veil these days.  Now let me begin...

Bakhita (as I will call her) was born about 1869 to a locally important family in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.  At the age of 12, she was kidnapped by Arab slave traders and over the course of the next 8 years was sold and re-sold five times in Arab slave markets.  The trauma of her abduction caused her to forget her own name and the name "Bakhita" was the name given her by the slave traders.  It is the Arabic word for "lucky".  The name "Josephine" was the Christian name she took in adulthood.  During the 8 years of slavery, she was forcibly converted to Islam.

Bakhita suffered much brutality during her captivity as her owners saw slaves as less than human.  On one occasion she was beaten so badly that she had to spend a month lying on her straw bed, unable to move.  Her fourth owner, an Ottoman Army officer, marked her as his possession by a process resembling both scarification and tattooing.  More than sixty patterns were cut into her breasts, belly and arms (without any anesthesia, of course).

Her final owner was an Italian diplomat who had been serving in the Sudan.  He brought her to Italy where she became the nanny to the daughter of a close friend of the diplomat.  Bakhita and the daughter were left in the custody of the Canossian Sisters in Venice while the parents were assigned to a distant area.  During this time, Bakhita discovered that she had a heavenly Father who loved her and asked to be baptized.

When the family of the child returned and went to collect their daughter as well as Bakhita, Bakhita refused to leave.  The family tried to force the issue, but the sisters complained to the authorities.  An Italian court ruled that since Sudan had outlawed slavery before Bakhita's birth, and, since in any case, Italian law did not recognize slavery, Bakhita had never in fact been a slave.  Since Bakhita had now reached the age to maturity, it was ruled that she had full control of her life and could remain with the Canossians.

In 1896, she joined the sisters permanently and spent the rest of her life assigned to various Canossian houses in Italy.  During her many years in the convent, Sr. Josephine was usually employed as portress (door keeper) of the house.  Her gentleness, calming voice and ever-present smile became well known.  She was eventually given an order by her congregation to write an account of her life.  This was published and became something of a best-seller.  She then began to receive requests to give talks about her experiences and gained a certain fame throughout Italy.

Her last years were marked by pain and sickness, but she always retained her cheerfulness and trust in God.  After her death in 1947, the calls for her canonization began immediately.  Finally, on October 1, 2000, she was canonized by Pope John Paul II and became Saint Josephine Bakhita.  Her feast day is February 8th, the date of her death.  She is venerated as a modern African saint and as a saint with a special relevance to slavery and oppression.  As well, she has been adopted by Sudanese Christians as the patron saint of Sudan.

At the moment of her death, her eyes were gazing upward as she smilingly cried out:  "Our Lady!  Our Lady!" 
[much of this information came from Wikipedia]

In recent years, an African image of Our Lady has been created and is now used in the churches in Sudan.  I find it extremely beautiful and would like to do my own version of it one of these days.

Here is a photograph of the interior of a small chapel of a mission house run by the Capuchin Friars of the Renewal, a modern Franciscan community founded in New York City to work with the street people (you can see that the images of St. Bakhita and Our Lady of Sudan are being used).  They already have a large enough community to have established mission houses in several countries.  This one is located in Torit (I think) which is, of course, in the region of Darfur in Sudan.  This mission has a blog which I subscribe to as it is both a fascinating yet frightening place for people to be as you know if you have heard almost any international news over the past 10 years!  If you are interested in their blog, go to http://cfrsudan.blogspot.com/

Now, turning to something much lighter, her are a few animal photos.  The theme of these pictures is to show how animals of different species are willing to groom -- neither the one grooming or the one being groomed seem to have any objections to this arrangement!

In this first picture, we see a monkey who appears to be checking his friend, the mountain goat, for fleas or ticks!  Monkey hands are certainly well adapted to such activities.  I would guess that the pay-off for the monkey is that she gets to eat whatever she finds!  Yum!

Here we see a bird (I am not sure what kind -- maybe a crow or a grackle) who appears to be cleaning the nose of a sheep.  It is obvious that the sheep could never clean its own nose so it must feel nice to have it all cleaned up; while the bird gets to keep whatever it finds in there -- including small pieces of grass seed or grains from the sheep feed.  Personally, I would just as soon not think about what the "crow" might be eating!

Finally, we have a rather strange situation as we don't normally see cows giving dogs a good face washing.  In fact, I would guess that maybe these two are close friends so that the dog doesn't object to this arrangement.  This situation is also different in that the cow doesn't appear to benefit in any tangible way from this effort.  I mean, the dog gets its face washed which is something the dog can't do on its own, but the cow's action seems almost altruistic -- sort of like doing something nice for a friend.  Who knows!

At Mass today I realized that next Sunday is the feast of Christ the King which means that the Sunday after that is the first Sunday of Advent.  For those of you who are not familiar with all this Catholic talk, let me explain.  There are four Sundays in Advent and then comes Christmas.  That is how close we already are to Christmas and the new year!  Have you made any preparations yet?  I haven't.  So, I had better get myself busy making a few Christmas cards for the special people in my life.

I hope that whoever reads this blog posting will be blessed by it and I pray that the peace of God may be with us all.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Lycianthes rantonnetii

Lycianthes rantonnetii (formerly known as Solanum ratonnetii) is a member of the Family, Solanaceae.  It is an arching or sprawling shrub, 2 to 3 metres high.  Its common names include Blue Potato Bush, Paraguay Nightshade and Royal Robe.  It is native to Argentina and Paraguay and is used in gardens in various parts of the world, including North America and is sparingly naturalized in South Africa.  It also bears fruit, red in colour and up to an inch in length.  I could not find any information on the usefulness of this fruit.

The species name of  L. rantonnetii is derived from the name of M. Victor Rantonnet, a 19th Century French horticulturist from southern France who first described this plant for the scientific literature.  I think the botanists are still arguing over whether the Genus should be Lycianthes or Solanum, but we will leave all those discussions to the experts and just go with Lycianthes!

Above is an example of my attempt to enhance the background.  Once I had done this, I could not decide which one I liked better -- this one or the one at the beginning.  Finally I decided that the original drawing should be placed first.

Above is the result of my experimentation using the special software.  This is called colour ramp (whatever that means).  It gives an interesting effect, changing the leaves to a burnt umber while leaving the flowers basically the same colour.

Here is a simple drawing of the end of a branch on this shrub which can grow to the height of 6 feet.

And finally, here is a photograph which I used in doing my drawings.  You can see in this picture the sprawling nature of this shrub.
Now for some funny/cute animal photos...

I am not sure what is going on with this squirrel.  Maybe it happened upon a beer bottle with a bit of beer left in the bottom!  Or, perhaps, it has been doing push-ups and is just taking a break!  Anyway, whatever is going on, I have named this photo "The Flattened Squirrel".

Here we have three baby owls in a tree.  What they are doing up and about during daylight I am not sure.  I am glad they were available to have their photo taken as I find them quite delightful.  I call this photo "Three Owls in a Tree".  You can see I have not lost my flare for naming things!

Finally, there is this photo of a duck with quite a large family.  I had no trouble thinking of a name for this photo.  I call it "Get your ducks in a row"!  Do you really think all those babies are from one clutch of eggs?  Maybe this is a babysitting service!

As for me, I continue to do reasonably well.  I am having to use the wheelchair quite a bit more these days.  The period of remission which I have experienced for the past two years may be coming to an end.  Fortunately, I am already well adapted to wheelchair living!

Another item of interest is that my blog will be moving sometime before Christmas.  I will be going to my own web site.  The blog will continue there as usual but under a slightly different format.  I will keep you informed when I get closer to making the move.

May the peace of God be with you all.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The Virgin of Kazan

Our Lady of Kazan (also called Theotokos of Kazan) is a holy icon of the highest stature within the Russian Orthodox Church, representing the Virgin Mary as the protector and patron of the City of Kazan.  While the original has been lost to history, many older copies remain -- as well as newer ones like mine.

The original icon has a fascinating history.  The story goes that the icon was discovered on July 8, 1579, underground, in the City of Kazan by a little girl named Matrona.  According to tradition, the location of the image was revealed to her when the Blessed Mother spoke to her in an apparition.  The original icon was kept in the Theotokos Monastery of Kazan, built to commemorate the spot where it had been discovered.

On the night of June 29, 1904, the icon was stolen from the monastery.  Thieves apparently coveted the icon's gold frame which was ornamented with many valuable jewels.  Several years later, Russian police apprehended the thieves and recovered the frame.  The thieves declared that the icon itself had been burned, but it is more likely that it had been sold to a private collector.

Years later it was reported that the original had been acquired by the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, a Roman Catholic organization.  In the 1970's the Blue Army had then donated the icon to the shrine at Fatima, Portugal.  The icon was then tested to see how old it was and it turned out to be a copy made in the 1730's.  In 1993, this copy of the icon was given to Pope John Paul II who kept it in his quarters where it was venerated for the next 11 years.

In August of 2004, Pope John Paul II returned the icon to the Russian Orthodox Church.  It is now enshrined in the Church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross which sits on the site where the monastery was located prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917.  Finally, a copy of the famous icon is back home where Matrona originally found the icon at Our Lady's direction.

Here is a photograph of the icon purchased by the Blue Army and given to Fatima.  The icon is still in remarkably good condition considering that it was "written" in the 1730's.  The silver frame, while ornate, does not begin to compare, I am sure, with the original gold frame stolen in 1904.

VATICAN - AUGUST 25: Pope John Paul II presides at a ceremony at the Vatican to venerate and return the icon of Our Lady of Kazan to the Russian Orthodox Church on August 25, 2004 in Vatican City. By decision of the Pope, the icon is to be given to Patriarch Alexii II and, through him, to the Russian Orthodox Church and all the Russian people on August 28, the day that the Orthodox Church celebrates the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.

Now for a few recent snapshots of Miss Suki!  I know you are all looking forward to see how delightfully plump she is looking!

          Here Suki is seen hard at work determining if the sunshine is too bright to be shining on my antique rug.  She takes her household tasks very seriously.

          Here Suki is seen as she scans the balcony for those dastardly pigeons.  This is another task she takes quite seriously.  While doing this, she is also inspecting the plants to make certain that they have sufficient water.

          Here we see Suki just after she has finished making a paper Christmas decoration.  I received the materials from World Vision along with a request for money, of course.  (I don't contribute to them because we have very different viewpoints about certain serious issues.)  Anyway, Suki very kindly agreed to put the garland together for me.  Why she is wearing it I do not know.  As well, she seems to be a bit nonplussed because she is wearing it.  I will have to investigate this matter further -- before the garland becomes shredded paper!
I hope all of you remembered to set your clocks back before you went to bed last night.  I noticed a number of people hurrying into the Cathedral just as we finished the 8 to 9 a.m. Mass.  I am sure they thought it was already 10 a.m. and time for the 10 o'clock Mass as they looked very confused when they saw all the people leaving.  I think one of the sacristans finally made an announcement as suddenly a large group of people came out of the Church looking disgusted and fiddling with their watches.  I was outside waiting for Wheeltrans and, I am ashamed to say, feeling very smug because I had not forgotten -- this time!

May the peace of God be with you all.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

More Nelumbo, etc.

Tonight I want to show you a couple of drawings that were left over from my work on the Indian Lotus drawing I posted this past Friday.  I had spent some time working on these sketches prior to doing the drawing that I presented then.  That drawing of the two Lotus blossoms with their glowing centres was what I considered to be my definitive statement on Nelumbo nucifera or Indian Lotus a plant in the Nelumbonaceae family.

This first drawing (above) shows a Lotus blossom in late bloom.  Next to it is a typical Lotus seed pod gradually drying thereby allowing the seeds to escape.  It did not really work that well but it did give me a better sense of the design of the leaves and the seed pods.

I could not resist playing with the drawing, however.  I used the colour inversion software and you can see the results below.

This second drawing (below) is a rather futuristic attempt to show the Lotus leaves and drying seed pods.  This attempt gave me another opportunity to work on the leaves and the seed pods.  Remember what I said about these seed pods in the previous posting?  In case you have forgotten, I will repeat it.  "Under favourable circumstances, its seeds may remain viable for many years.  The oldest recorded lotus germination was from that of seeds 1,300 years old recovered from a dry lake bed in northeastern China."

Now I want to show you some amusing photos from my collection of animal photographs.  (Remember to send me any cute or funny animal photos you come across as I am always on the lookout for new ones.)

This first photo shows a truly lazy fellow looking quite pleased with himself.
I think the caption underneath the photo says it all!

          Am I a hunk or what!

Next are a series of photos showing animals using each other as a chair or a bed.  In the first one, you see what appears to be a baby rabbit sitting on its mother's back.

In this next photo, we see a kitten sound asleep on an adult's back (probably its mother's).  The adult appears to be watching the photographer very carefully to make certain nothing is done to annoy or awaken the kitten for which it is responsible.

Finally, we  see a dog using another dog as a chair or a pillow.  With two dogs of equal size, you have to wonder if they are siblings or if one is the parent of the other.  Whatever, the dog sitting appears to be rather bold and unconcerned about what the reaction of the "sitee" (no pun intended!) might be.

Let me tell you about the wonderful day I have had...

My sister and brother-in-law finally made it up here for a visit.  They live in Tennessee and every so often they fly up here just for the day.  So, they arrived this morning and after a bit of a visit, we went to a local restaurant that they like and had a leisurely lunch.  After lunch, my brother-in-law went to run some errands so my sister and I had an opportunity to catch up on family news.  They left in the afternoon to head for the airport and the flight back to their home.  Now I am tired but very happy and very much at peace.

May that same peace be with you all.