Saturday, 26 February 2011

Tulipa humilis Albocaerula Oculata

Tulipa humilis Albocaerula Oculata -- Colour Intensification
Here we have a beautiful little flower of the genus, Tulipa (Tulip); family, Liliaceae.  The species name is T. humilis var. Albocaerula Oculata which would indicate that it is a cultivar.  I am a bit uncertain about all this as there is very little detailed information on this beautiful plant.  By the way, the picture I am showing you above is one made from my original drawing and then altered a bit by my infamous software!

Tulipa humilis Albocaerula Oculata -- original
Here you see the original drawing with its more natural colours. 

I am still trying to figure out the meaning of the various names used for this flower.  Tulipa humilis is Dwarf Tulip, but the rest of the name is too difficult for me.  I know that Albocaerula is something-blue and Oculata is of the eyes, but I can't quite put it all together.  If any of you folks out there know more Latin than I do, please help me out here.

Anyway, as I said, there is very little information on the web about this particular plant as it is lumped in with all the tulips -- and as is the case with many of these variations, they are mainly only of interest to those who sell bulbs or who like to have unusual flowers in their gardens.  Let me just tell you what I was able to find.

A blogger writes: "Tulipa humilis 'Albocaerula Oculata' or 'Blue-eyed Wildflower Tulip' with its large open white flower with blue tinged centre is perhaps one of the most stunning Tulipa species we have seen ( but not yet grown). Growing to 6-8" and flowering in spring Tulipa humilis 'Albocaerula Oculata' is rare, stunning and most likely expensive if you can find them."

And from another blogger, we read: "Surely one of the most beautiful and sought after dwarf tulips is Tulipa humilis 'Albocaerula Oculata' - that stunning colour combination of a large flower with a short stem is just perfection."

There you have it -- this is all I know so far.  I will keep looking as it is a truly lovely flower.  Just below is what this flower looks like before the petals open. 

Tulipa humilis var. pulchella Albocaerula Oculata -- unopened
Unopened, the flower looks a lot more like a tulip than it does in full bloom.  As well, there is no sign of that beautiful blue at this stage of development.

Next I want to show you some of my latest Polar Bear photos.  I do love these clowns of the bear world -- although like all bears, they are anything but clowns in real life.  Anyway, all three of these photos made me smile.

"Hmmm, shall I have a massage or a manicure next"
All bears seem to love to take baths and Polar Bears most of all.  This fellow has his own jacuzzi.  Although the water looks cold and not warm, I am sure this character likes it that way!

Aren't I just the most lovable little thing!
The young of almost all mammals are adorable (one reason why it is almost impossible to have any sympathy for those people who make their living killing baby seals!).  The big eyes, the vulnerable look, all remind us of babies and we are just naturally programmed to protect babies -- well, most of us are anyway.  I would rather not think about those sick, sick people who take pleasure in hurting babies -- so we will leave it at that

Why me?  All the other females have 2 cubs!
Normally, an adult female Polar Bear will have no more than two cubs -- one male and one female.  This poor lady has three rambunctious youngsters and seems to indeed be saying: "why me?"  I would think it more difficult to care for and keep alive three babies which may be the reason they normally have no more than two per litter.
Well, there are no polar bears at my house, just one very tired and clingy cat!  Yes, Suki has had a very traumatic day.  I had a new couple starting their marriage preparation course today and the young lady is very allergic to cats.  So, while they were here, Suki had to go and visit her Aunt Sharon.  Now Aunt Sharon is a very kind and generous-hearted lady, but it made no difference to Suki.  She crawled under her sofa and stayed there until I came and pulled her out an hour and a half later.  When I got her home, she was starving and then after eating, she would not let me out of her sight.  She is very tired as she keeps falling into a deep sleep but suddenly awakens and immediately starts crying for me.  Poor baby... she does not know, thank goodness, that she will have to go through this 5 more times before this particular couple has finished the course!

As for me, I am doing well -- looking forward to Sunday Mass tomorrow and then going to the gym in the afternoon.  I am also looking forward to getting to meet Eugene's new kitten, Desi, this coming week!

I pray that everyone who reads this posting will be blessed by some aspect of it -- finding something interesting or something that makes them smile. 
May the peace of God be with you all.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

St. Simeon

The Presentation of Christ in the Temple
 Well, here I am running a bit behind schedule again.  Maybe this is just a sign of my getting older -- I no longer seem to be able to keep up with myself!  Anyway, here I am, better late than never.

Today's posting presents an older icon that somehow never got published.  I dragged it out again this month because February contains the feast days for St. Simeon of the Presentation.  I say "feast days" because he has several depending on which part of the ancient Church one now belongs to!  Let me explain.

In the Latin Church, Simeon the Righteous is celebrated as part of the Feast of the Presentation in the Temple of Our Lord Jesus Christ which is celebrated on February 2nd.  He also shares a feast day on February 3rd with St. Blase (the healer of throats).  In the Orthodox churches, because they use the Julian calendar, the feast of Simeon the Righteous falls on February 15th.  Finally, in the ancient Armenian Church, the Feast of the Nativity of Christ (Christmas) is always celebrated on the 6th of January which means that they celebrate the Feast of the Presentation on the 14th of February at which time they venerate St. Simeon.  Whew!  I hope you can figure all that out.

At any rate, whatever the feast days, St. Simeon is always considered an exceptionally holy and devout Jewish man.  He appears in the Gospel of Luke who tells the story of what has come to be known as the "Presentation in the Temple".  The feast actually centers around the memorializing of the act of Blessed Mary undergoing an act of ritual purification and the presenting of Jesus, her child, in the Temple.

Under Mosaic law, a mother who had given birth to a man-child was considered "unclean" for seven days; moreover, she was to remain for 33 days "in the blood of her purification" for a total of 40 days.  Thus counting from Christmas, the 40th day is February 2nd.  This is the day, therefore, when the Church celebrates Blessed Mary's "purification" and the presentation of Jesus Christ in the Temple as a "son of Abraham".

The way that St. Simeon gets into the story is that he was waiting in the Temple day after day, year after year.  Why?  Because he had been told in a dream or a vision from God that he would not die before he had actually seen, laid eyes upon, the Messiah -- the one that God would send to save His people, Israel.  So on that day, 2000 years ago, Simeon was waiting, as usual, near the place where new parents came with their infant sons for the ceremony of presentation.  St. Luke tells us in his gospel that Simeon was given special insight so that when Blessed Mary and St. Joseph appeared with the Christ Child, he immediately recognized Him as the promised Messiah.  He took the child in his arms and looking up to Heaven, he spoke those words which have come to be known in English as the "Song of Simeon".

It is the beginning of this "song" which you see written on the scroll hanging from St. Simeon's hand in my drawing.  The modern English words that we say in this short song are as follows:

"Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, Your word has been fulfilled:
My own eyes have seen the salvation which You have prepared in the sight of every people; a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel."

This song is part of the daily liturgy of a number of Christian Churches all of which are held at the ending of the day.  Some examples are:  the Catholic Church liturgy known as the Office of Compline; the Orthodox liturgy of Vespers; the Anglican liturgy of Evensong.

Personally, I am very fond of the "Song of Simeon" and have said it for many years while praying the daily Office of Compline.  I will always associate it with the soft sound of the voices of the nuns with whom I lived for a few years -- the nuns who taught me how to pray what is known as the Divine Liturgy and to whom I owe a great debt of gratitude.

Let's now leave the heights of liturgical prayer and enter into good-natured fun.  I want to show you some photographs I came across recently -- a couple of which gave me a good chuckle when I first saw them.  I hope they will make you smile a bit as well.

"Mirror, mirror on the wall (car, actually)..."
Here we see a beautiful creature gazing into the mirror at itself.  I always wonder what animals see when they look into a mirror!  Whatever this delightful creature sees or doesn't see, I was reminded immediately upon seeing this photo of the wicked queen who had a mirror into which she looked each day.  As she looked, she would say: "mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?"  The well-trained mirror, knowing what was required to keep from getting smashed and thrown in the garbage, always replied:  "you are, my queen"!

Gull's outrage casts out fear
I find this photo amazing.  Here we see a gull attacking an eagle -- a bird of prey which kills with deadly precision -- a bird that strikes fear into the hearts of almost all other birds.  Amazingly, the gull has the eagle on the run.  This is the type of thing you see happen in the spring and summer when birds have a nest full of young.  Most of us have been almost hit by an angry Robin or Starling as we innocently walk along not realizing that we are passing directly underneath their nest.

Emergency! Nose dive crash landing! Emergency!

This is my favourite of today's "funny" photos and caused me to chuckle out loud when I first saw it.  I do hope that none of this duck's friends or family were close by when the crash landing occurred.  I am sure they would never let him forget it!   Maybe this is Mallard the Klutz that we are seeing here -- always bumping into things and landing face first into the snow or water.  If he made this kind of landing on the ice, that would really smart!  Actually, I can't tell for certain if this is a male or female mallard.  It looks as though it could be a female, but then it could also be an immature mallard experiencing his first winter -- their colouring, whether male or female,  is similar to the adult females   

Sweet home Alabama
This final photo for today is posted not for novelty but for nostalgia.  The scene reminds me so much of the Gulf coast of Alabama and north Florida.  It is so beautiful there -- especially in the fall -- and the Great Blue Heron is a common sight, fishing in the shallows of a cypress grove.  I bet it is really warm down there today in comparison to Toronto's -21 wind chill!

There is nothing new to report from my house.  I had a wonderful visit with a dear friend recently.  She only gets up here from the states a couple of times a year so it is always great when I do get to have a visit with her. 

I also had a phone call from a cousin with whom I haven't spoken in about 50 years!  It always amazes me how easily we pick up right where we left off even after years have passed.  He placed a call after he got off the phone with me which led to my being called by an acquaintance who married one of my high school classmates.  She was someone I knew as even then she was dating the classmate of mine she later married and we were often at school events together. 

Then I heard on the weekend from a couple of very dear friends who were going through difficult times.  Sometimes I really wish God would let me have a magic wand so that I could fix problems for people!  Of course, fixing a problem for someone without being able to see their entire life already lived and what they will face in the future would probably cause them even worse problems.  I think I had better leave the fixing of things to God.  My job is to pray.

The latest news of Suki is that I made the mistake of getting a laser light -- this cat is now dangerously addicted to chasing that red light and can drive me almost crazy sometimes by begging me to bring out the light again so she can chase it!  Oh, well, maybe she will lose a bit of weight!

May the peace of God be with you all.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Mallow Yellow!

Malope trifida 'Vulcan' - Annual Mallow -hue correction
The image above is not the actual flower as it appears in nature, but, rather, a copy of the "natural" image which has been altered by my famous (infamous) software -- this option is "hue correction".  I had to put it first, however, because I wanted to use a silly pun as my title!  Did you know that I really like silly puns?  Anyway, now that we have that out of the way, I will go ahead and tell you about Malope trifida 'Vulcan' commonly known as "Annual Mallow".

Malope trifida 'Vulcan' - Annual Mallow  --  natural colours
Here is my drawing of the real thing!

Malope trifida 'Vulcan' of the family, Malvaceae, is known in English as Annual Mallow.  It is a cultivar of  Malope trifida Cav.   The distribution of the wild species of the genus is centred on the Mediterranean -- particularly Spain and North Africa. 

Most of us are familiar with a plant by the name of Rose Mallow.  Malope trifida is superficially similar to the Rose Mallow but differs from it in many important ways.  Which is why Rose Mallow is of the genus Lavatera while this flowering plant is of the genus Malope.  The catalogues describe the Common Mallow flowers as "deep magenta-pink flowers with a vivid green eye at the centre".  I hope I have captured that image in my drawing.

Malope trifida 'Vulcan' - Annual Mallow  -- solarization
 This final image of the flower was created using the software choice called "solarization".  It gives another interesting look, but, in my opinion, doesn't come close to the "beauty" of Mallow Yellow!

One of the funniest things I came across in my research on this plant was a page with the botanical descriptions of the stem, leaves and fruit of this plant.  When I read what they had to say about the fruit, I just knew I had to share it with all of you.  So here it is...

You can easily see, of course, that the seed pods, together, are a "globose schizocarp, composed of many single seeded mericarps".   What I think they are saying is that the seed pods are gathered together in a globe-shaped bunch and that each of those round things in the bunch contain a single seed!  How does that sound?

Moving on, I want to show you four beautiful photographs by a photographer named Patrick Notley.  As you will see, Patrick does quality work, both technically and artistically.  Patrick, by the way, is a man wearing the label of "autistic".  How interesting that when it comes to art, labels don't matter. 

Sea Gull Landing -- showing reflection
Owl looking surprised

Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

Winter Sunset
Even though the fourth photo entitled "Winter Sunset" is a depressing reminder of what is still ahead of us folks who live in the north, it remains my favourite of the four.  I am always most attracted by shades of gold, red and orange.

Finally, I want to show you a photograph (artist unknown) that makes me feel very comforted (and I feel the need of a bit of comfort tonight as I recover from a migraine which probably resulted from the dramatic change in the weather we have experienced over the past couple of days).  Actually, the problem with this photograph is that the mama and baby are lying on top of the snow.  I just pretend that it is very warm snow and so the image still works for me!

Nothing like having a safe place!
Suki has enjoyed having me home all day, but, even so, she is already trying to suggest that it is time for bed!  Who would have thought that I would end up with a cat who is concerned about my bedtime!

Speaking of cats and bedtimes, I almost forgot that I wanted to introduce you to the cat that just recently came to live with my friend, Eugene.  You may recall that I included an essay by Eugene in my posting on "Holy Rachel".  Anyway, he surprised me recently by announcing the presence of Desiree in his home -- after the recent death of his long-lived Siamese, Eugene had been saying that he would probably wait a year before thinking about getting another cat and it had not been anywhere close to a year!

So, after all that preparatory information, let me introduce you to Miss  Desiree of the House of Eugene!

Desiree also known as "Desi"

Isn't she lovely?  It has been reported that Eugene is really quite a dangerous man with a vacuum cleaner so I am hoping and praying that Desi will watch her tail carefully! 8-)

May the peace of God be with you all.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

A Mixed Bag

Achimenes 'Tetra Himalayan Orange'
First, let me apologize for the length of time it has been since my last posting.  All I can say in my defense is that I have not been feeling very well over the past 5 or 6 days.  Thankfully, I am now feeling just a bit better so I am hopeful that this is the beginning of a time of improvement.  We'll see...  At any rate, I am here tonight and ready to share a couple of interesting things with you.

Now let me tell you about the drawing above.  It shows a new flower, another cultivar, with the wonderful name of Achimenes 'Tetra Himalayan Orange'.  The family name for this plant is Gesneriaceae and the genus name is AchimenesGesneriaceae comes from the name of Conrad von Gessner.  I do not know why the family name was used since botanical family names are usually assigned by placing each plant in a botanical family relationship.  Anyway, that is how it is. 

Achimenes comes from the Greek word "chemaino" which means 'to suffer from the cold' (something we have done a great deal of in recent weeks!).  Actually, what is meant is that this is not a good plant to put in your garden during an Ontario springtime.  Tetra Himalayan Orange is actually a relative of the African violet.  It produces many large orange-red flowers in mid summer -- remember, it doesn't like the cold.

I actually restrained myself this time in using my funky software!  I only want to show you one interesting result of using what the software calls "solarization".

Achimenes 'Tetra Himalayan Orange' Solarization
I actually find this more beautiful than the natural colours -- especially this wonderful blue that the orange-red turned into.  Of course the centre of the flower is almost scary and this might frighten away the bees -- that would be bad for the flowers.  So I guess the Creator knows best after all.

Next I want to show you the final result of my sharing Our Lady of Sudan with my priest friend in Sudan.  Fr. Herald, as you may recall, is leaving Sudan for a new posting and so he was able to use my icon in his final posting on his blog there.  Below you will find the opening section of his final posting and you can see which version of my icon he ended up using.

It's Official - South Sudan to Become an Independent Nation!
Posted: 08 Feb 2011 01:00 AM PST

Icon of Our Lady of Sudan by Sallie Thayer

Today is the feast of St. Bakhita of Sudan, and it seems to be a fitting occasion to post what may be the concluding entry for this blog. In God's providence, yesterday - February 7th - the official results of the referendum on the independence of Sudan were formally announced. The final tabulation listed 98.83% voting for separation and 1.17% in favor of unity. Sudanese President Omar al Bashir has been quoted as saying that he will accept the results and respect the decision of the people of South Sudan to separate and form their own nation. The United States has expressed its intention to recognize South Sudan as an independent sovereign state in July on the date specified for the inauguration of the new country.

We can only give thanks and praise to God for the amazing way in which these historic events have unfolded, and will of course continue to accompany this new nation and it's beloved people in prayer.

St. Bakhita, pray for us!
Our Lady of Sudan, pray for us!

This next section is truly for the birds! 

Dreaming of a 'Room of Her Own'
I assume that this is the method bird parents use to get their youngsters to leave the nest.  Sooner or later they get tired of being sat upon and leave to make their own way in the world.  This might be a possible approach for today's parents who can't get rid of their adult kids:  put them all in one room and tell them that the rest of the house is off limits!  I think they might all be moving out rather quickly.

Listen Buddy, my name ain't Carmen and this ain't no rose in my mouth!  Got it?

I wish I knew what kind of bird this is.  I think the photo was taken by an Australian photographer so it is quite possibly one of those strange creatures from down-under.  At any rate, I love the "expression" on its face and the fact that it is holding half a branch in its mouth!

Cedar Waxwing eating frozen berries
This final photo has nothing funny about it at all.  I included it because this is one of my favourite birds.  This photograph does not do it justice.  The feathers are so glossy and the colours are so rich that it is hard to capture these things in a picture.  My heart is always filled with thankfulness whenever I see them in the summer time.  As you can see here, they do like berries -- whether frozen or unfrozen!

And so, I come to the end of another posting. 

Suki is sound asleep in her chair after a hard day of watching the pigeon on the balcony above.  It is a male and the coo-ing noise it makes each time a female lands nearby nearly drives my poor cat crazy.  She wants to get that bird with every fibre of her being.  Sadly, the pigeon pays no attention to Suki as he is too busy trying to get a female to pay attention to him.  He doesn't seem to be having a great deal of success at that, by the way!  As this activity seems to go on for hour after hour, poor Suki is becoming sleep deprived.  So I remind her...


Peace be with you.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Calochortus clavatus!

Calochortus clavatus
Tonight I want to discuss two flowers -- one species and one a variation of that species -- in the genus, Calochortus which is in the family, Liliaceae.

The first drawing (above) is the species Calochortus (beautiful grass) clavatus (club-shaped) also known as Mariposa Lilies or Clubhair Mariposa Lilies.  It is endemic to California where it is found in forests and chaparral slopes.  The petals are up to 5 cm long, yellow in colour with a darker line or series of bands near the base which are usually dark red.  The anthers are often deep purple as you can see in my drawing.

There are actually 28 species endemic to western North America and these include the Sego Lily (which I have shown you previously), the State Flower of Utah. (see below)

Sego Lily

The proper name of the Sego Lily is Calochortus nuttallii.  You may recall my mentioning that during the first winter or two after the Mormons settled in Utah, they managed to stay alive by eating the bulbs of this particular species of Calochortus.

The Calochortus bulbs of all types were eaten by the Native Americans who probably were the ones who taught the Mormons that they were good for food and helped them stay alive until they began to harvest their crops. 

Calochortus clavatus (Solarization)
Above is the result of using my "solarization" software on the actual drawing of Calochortus clavatus.  I think it created a very interesting image.  It puts me in mind of some sort of strange sea creature living on the deep ocean floor!

Calochortus clavatus v. pallidus
Here is my drawing of Calochortus clavatus v. pallidus -- a variation of Calochortus clavatus.  Pallidus means "ashen or pale" which probably refers to the fine hairs at the centre of the plant.  The plant is also known commonly as Yellow Mariposa or Yellow Mariposa Lily.

This plant is a conspicuous "fire follower" and is found on the dry slopes north of Los Angeles -- which, unfortunately, often experiences serious forest fires.

This "variation" also has the hairy circle in the centre with the dark reddish-brown ring, but, as you can see, the anthers are quite different.

Calochortus clavatus v. pallidus (solarization)
 I also used the "solarization" software on this drawing and you see the result above.  It is interesting how two different shades of yellow resulted in two totally different colours.  I really love what it did to the colours in the centre and I am tempted to crop this version of the drawing until all I have left is the centre just to see what it would look like.  If I do, I will certainly show it to you if it turns out to be interesting at all.

There are several other beautiful species in this genus so don't be surprised if you see more Calochortus in the future!

Now it is time for a few funny cat photos -- showing cats suffering humiliation due to the interference of human beings who make them behave while they have their photo taken when all they really want to do is get even with a mouse, a bird or a human being!

Oh, the humiliation of it all!
This is not a happy cat!  He is, no doubt, being told to sit still and have this cute photo taken.  Meanwhile, all the cat probably wants to do is get this creature off his head before any of his feline friends see him and laugh at him for being a "mouse-sitter"!

Don't you dare laugh at me -- this is not funny!

Here we see a poor quality photo of a cat who somehow ended up in the bird cage while the bird is happily sitting on top of the cage.  I would guess that there was human interference here.  Perhaps the cat was stalking the bird when his human came upon the scene.  The human then took the empty bird cage and plopped it on top of the unsuspecting cat.  Then had the audacity to take a photograph!  This is an indignity that the cat will not likely forget.  Someone will pay!

Just wait until you reach down to take this off... !
Every Christmas humans do this to the cats and dogs they live with.  They take silly objects and place on the animal and then take a photo for their Christmas card.  Everyone who sees the photo says "oh, how cute"; meanwhile, the cat is seeking revenge -- I don't believe that dogs think in terms of revenge as cats do.  At any rate, I would imagine that when this cat's person reached down to remove the disgusting objects, they just might have received a little nip or a scratch.  "Well deserved," the cat would say. 

These are my relatives, you know!

Finally, I want to show you a delightful photo.  I could not find out who the photographer was, but if I do, I will certainly post his or her name.  I find the concept delightful and the photography to be excellently executed.  Plus, it makes me smile.

Things are still fairly quiet for me and Suki.  I did receive the final edition of Father Herald's blog from southern Sudan with my icon of Our Lady of Sudan prominently placed.  I will include it in my next posting so you can see which version of the icon he ended up using. 

Please continue to pray for southern Sudan as there has been an increase in the raids of the Lord's Resistance Army -- that awful group that kidnaps children and turns them into child soldiers without a conscience.  This is just the sort of instability that could cause the north to step in with their army and say they are doing it to protect the people of the south.  What it would accomplish, of course, is to keep the south from forming their own nation as planned for this coming July and leave all the oil fields in the control of the north.

May the peace of God be with us all.

Friday, 4 February 2011

The Tears of Rachel

Today's posting contains more text and fewer pictures than usual.  I hope you won't mind.  I think the extra reading will be well worth your time.

First, in reference to the icon above of Holy Rachel, a woman of the Old Testament, I asked a dear friend of mine, Eugene Sendelweck, to write a brief article on the significance of Rachel in Scripture.  I knew he had been studying the Book of Genesis which includes the story of Rachel's life.  I also knew that Eugene has a good general knowledge of Scripture.  Thus, I felt he could provide a great deal of insight and I was right! 

Here, then, is the article by Eugene.

Rachel’s Tears
Rachel’s story in the history of God’s first covenant with His people Israel (see Genesis 28-35) unfolds as she becomes the second wife of the Patriarch, Jacob and is forced to share that role simultaneously with her sister, Leah. Rachel furthers God’s Plan for His people by giving birth to Joseph and Benjamin. The complete story is replete with many examples of deception, bitterness, jealousy, and pride but always culminates in the affirmation of God’s promises to His people, despite their innate sinfulness. After her death (in childbirth) and burial (on the road just outside of Bethlehem), the Scriptures are relatively silent as to her existence, except for two instances.

The first (Jeremiah 31:15-17) occurring nearly a millennium after her death when “a voice of mourning and great weeping” is heard in Ramah, “Rachel wailing for her children and refusing to be consoled for her children are no more.” This is understood as a prophecy of the impending Babylonian Exile and Rachel’s voice as one of intercession for her children (God’s people Israel), and the Lord responds by assuring her of their ultimate return to the Promised Land. Those who would be killed, not be sent into exile, were the aged and children – those considered too weak to make the long journey.

The second (Matthew 2:17-18) is a repetition of Rachel’s lament, (heard first in Jeremiah), and occurs as an empathetic response to Herod’s attempt to ensure the death of the Infant Jesus by ordering the destruction of all male babies under the age of two years in and around the town of Bethlehem. Bethlehem, as you know, was the town where Jewish prophecy said the Messiah would be born. Matthew’s Gospel indicates this reference as the fulfilment of prophecy relating to Herod’s decree, and “Rachel’s weeping” once again is heard in intercession – this time for God’s people of the New Covenant of Redemption foreseen in the Saviour’s Birth. The children were killed while Jesus, Mary and Joseph went into exile.

Finally, in addition to Rachel’s roles in salvation history, as Matriarch, Prophetess and Intercessor, some have seen her as a bridge between the first Eve (created in the image of God but fallen into a state of original sin) and the second Eve, the Blessed Virgin Mary – the God-bearer – born without sin, and the instrument of eternal salvation for all creation, Jew and Gentile alike. (Rachel is revered by all three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.) Holy Rachel, pray for us and for the unity of all God’s people!

Next, I want to show you some photographs of a very unusual deer.  In fact, it is so unusual that when I first received the photos, I immediately went to Snopes to check and see if it was real or just a fake photo that was circulating the Internet.  Snopes said the photographs are real and the black white-tailed deer actually does occur rarely in the species.  What follows is the information I was able to gather.

"This little guy is an example of melanism, a condition where an individual has darker coloration than the norm. You can think of it kind of as the opposite of albinism, where an organism lacks color and appears white.  Melanism has been documented in a lot of different species and is typically very rare, although in some species it's a relatively common color phase. That's not the case with white-tailed deer, however, so these photos are pretty unique and special. In fact, while albino deer are also really rare, compared to documented cases of melanistic deer they are much more frequently seen, making this melanistic fawn the rarest of them all. Even this deer's twin has standard coloration!  We have photographer Richard Buquoi to thank for these beautiful images, which were shot near Austin, Texas in May 2010. Mr. Buquoi confirms that the black fawn depicted in them is real."

                            Isn't he beautiful?!

Here we seen the black fawn with his twin sister and their mother.

Here they are again but this time his sister is giving him a very sisterly kiss.

Sadly, these photos and an article about them were all set to be published in a hunting magazine about the time the photos were posted on the Internet.  The thought that some hunter might want to shoot this beautiful deer as a trophy (when he is grown and has a rack of antlers) makes me feel very sad.

Suki and I are both doing fine and very grateful that Toronto once again escaped a bad snow storm.  As I have mentioned previously, wheel chairs do not do well on snow or ice!

Please let me know if you have enjoyed having a guest author.  If so, I can arrange to have more articles written by Eugene and other knowledgeable friends.

May God bless you all and grant you His peace.