Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Fucshia -- Dollar Princess

Fucshia x hybrida -- Dollar Princess (modelled from photo by Michael Cooper)

Fuchsia is a genus of flowering plants that consists mostly of shrubs or small trees. Its Family name is Onagraceae. The first, Fuchsia triphylla, was discovered on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (present day Dominican Republic and Haiti) in 1703 by the French monk and botanist, Charles Plumier. He named the new genus after the renowned German botanist Leonhart Fuchs (1501–1566).

There are currently almost 110 recognized species of Fuchsia. The great majority are native to South America, but with a few occurring north through Central America to Mexico, and also several from New Zealand to Tahiti One species, Fuchsia magellanica, extends as far as the southern tip of South America, occurring on Tierra del Fuego in the cool temperate zone, but the majority are tropical or subtropical. Most fuchsias are shrubs from 8 in–13 ft 1 in. tall, but one New Zealand species, Kotukutuku (Fuchsia excorticata), is unusual in the genus in being a tree, growing up to 39–49 ft. tall.  Fuchsias are popular garden shrubs, and once planted can live for years with a minimal amount of care.  The plant is now found in gardens and homes throughout the world and the majority of these are hybrids (cultivars) of just a few species.  Of interest is the fact that while the original pronunciation from the word's German origin is "fook-sya", most English speakers tend to say "fyusha" . As a consequence, Fuchsia is often misspelled as "fuschia" in English.  It is, thus, a good word to use in a spelling bee!

My drawing is of one of the hybrids.  I am pretty certain that it is one called "Dollar Princess", but I was trying to make an identification from a photo and not from the actual plant.  So, if any of you know that what I have drawn is not "Dollar Princess", please let me know -- even if you don't know what it actually is.  That way, I will continue to look for another possible hybrid.

 Below is a drawing I did of what I thought was Fuchsia magellanica at the time; however, looking at the drawing now in light of what I have learned, it may very well be my attempt to draw Fuchsia excorticata, the New Zealand species which is a tree and not a shrub.

I did this drawing at least three years ago, maybe four, and I find it quite interesting to look at the difference between my abilities then and now.  I have learned so much more about how to use the limited tools available with my software and over time, in spite of the arthritis, my hand has gotten more sure of itself.

Fuchsia magellanica -- drawing from three (or four) years ago


Now for a few cat photos.  These are special cat photos in that they are photos of almost all of the cats who have shared my life during my adult years. 

The first cat I invited into my home was a beautiful Siamese; however, I have long since lost any photos.  I am not certain if he was pure Siamese, but he looked like the breed and had all the characteristics of the breed.  I called him Nose (short for Nosey) as he literally had to stick his nose into everything.  As you know, there are few places a Siamese can't reach so I had to go to great lengths to prevent that nose from getting into food dishes and such.  He had a short but, I think, happy life due to a very untreatable (at that time) illness. 

Come to think of it, there was another Siamese cat in my life, but just for about 10 days.  This occurred because someone who knew how I had loved my previous Siamese cat gave me a Siamese kitten as a gift.  Sadly, he had purchased the kitten from a pet store, and as is so often the case, it must have come from a "kitty mill" for it was already ill when it arrived and died about 10 days later as it had such a weakened immune system.  My warning to everyone:  never buy cats or dogs from pet stores -- rescue the ones in pounds and shelters instead.  If everyone stopped buying pets in stores, then maybe all the strays would end up with forever homes.  I know that sometimes pet stores now invite shelters to set up shop for a weekend in their store, but that is different as you are still really getting the pet from a shelter.

Now for the remainder of "my" cats.

Furfur -- He came into my life as a little kitten back in 1965!
Furfur was truly a "black" cat.  Sadly, he was named after one of the demon princes of Hell (according to arcane literature) and he must have realized this as he truly lived up to his name!  He was such a sweet, little kitten when I brought him home, but it did not take long for his real character to emerge!  He would race around the house like he was, indeed, demon possessed (maybe he was part Siamese).

I remember when I took him to be neutered.  I tried to tell the receptionist that I could handle him, but that he did not like strangers at all.  I pleaded with her to allow me to take him into the back and put him in his cage, but she simply would not listen and pulled him roughly from my arms (I was too poor at the time to afford a carrying cage).  Of course, Furfur promptly sank his teeth into her lovely arm!  At moments like that it is always a good idea to resist saying "I told you so".  The vet clinic did the necessary surgery, but asked that I never return with this particular cat.  Fortunately, Furfur was an extremely healthy cat.

miz k.d. (just a few months old) and my 4-year-old cat, Mr. Ginger, the bully!
 The next cat was Mr. Ginger.  Mr Ginger grew to be a b-i-g ginger/orange tom cat.  Had he not been neutered, he would have been an holy terror.  As it was, he grew into a lovable though possessive adult.  When he was about 4 years old, I made the mistake of getting another cat, miz k.d.  You see the two of them here together.  Any photo you see of them appearing to like one another is wildly deceptive.  Mr. Ginger secretly hated miz k.d. and tormented her cruelly whenever I was not around.  It took me some time to figure this out.  Meanwhile, miz k.d. went from an friendly, adventuresome kitten to a frightened adult who would only come out of hiding to spend time with me.  Ah, what a mess.

Anyway, as you can see in the above photo, miz k.d. had a black mark on the top of her forehead.  When you looked down on that mark it made the shape of the letter "H".  I used to tease her and say she was the cat from Hell.  Of course, she was totally the opposite.  Interestingly, the H completely disappeared within a few weeks of her first birthday and from that point on, she was pure white.

Mr. Ginger and miz k.d. when she was about 3 years old -- do the expressions tell you anything?
Here they are again when miz k.d. was about 2 years old.  I think their expressions say a great deal about their relationship.  This was about the time when I began to realize how badly Mr. Ginger was treating miz k.d. and knew that I could no longer keep both cats.

One of the saddest days was when I had to let someone else adopt Mr. Ginger.  He went to a good home, but I never saw him again as it was the vet who arranged the transfer and, like with any old-fashioned adoption, the "parents" never knew each others names!  You might ask why I kept miz k.d. instead of the lovable, outgoing Mr. Ginger, but you have your answer right there.  By that point, I knew that miz k.d. would simply never adjust to a new home.  For the remainder of her 15 years, miz k.d. never returned to that sunny, adventuresome personality of her early days.  She remained a one-person cat which she made very clear to almost everyone who tried to pet her!

Suki -- this is a photo from last year which I have shown you previously
And, finally, we come to Suki -- my current companion.  I have told you all enough about her so that nothing more needs to be said at the moment.  She remains a great joy while being an equally great nuisance.  I would not trade her for anything, of course -- but I do consider it every morning when she awakens me about 4:30 because she is now awake and hungry!  At least I am able to get back to sleep quickly after I feed her! 

Another one you have seen previously -- Suki and me, airbrushed!
Suki and I continue to do as well as possible.  She wishes I would let her get away with more mischief than I will, but, otherwise, she is doing fine.

I continue to be a bit more disabled by my newest problems with my neck and spine; however, I am learning to manage.  I am even beginning to get to the place where I can accept how old I look now that I am so bent over.  You know what was said by the famous author:  "Vanity, thy name is woman".  Actually vanity, ego, is a problem for both sexes, but perhaps more of a problem for us women when it comes to how we appear to others.  Anyway, I am learning to "offer it all up" as the old saying goes and hoping that God will use my suffering for the good of others.

May the peace of God be with us all.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

Icon of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

I have discovered a new patron -- St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, or as I usually call him, St. Alphonsus.  I have know about St. Alphonsus for a long time.  The religious community of enclosed nuns I lived with for some years was actually founded by St. Alphonsus and a nun by the name of Sr. Maria Celeste Crostarosa.  There was even a very dear sister in that community (may she rest in peace) by the name of Sr. Mary Alphonsus.  So, it is not like I haven't been aware of him for a long time.  What has changed?

Well, ever since I had that bad fall about 6 or 7 weeks ago, I have begun to look more and more like St. Alphonsus in his old age -- that is, my back is now curved a bit more and my neck is bent forward at an uncomfortable angle!  I had forgotten about how he ended up with such terrible arthritis -- another thing we share in common -- which obviously affected his spine from top to bottom.  Then what finally brought everything together for me was coming across the following prayer.  While I realize that parts of this prayer may not be very appealing to some of my readers, I feel that I need to quote it in its entirety in order to demonstrate the effect it has had on me at the point in my life. 

Dear St. Alphonsus
    friend of the poor and arthritis sufferer.
   You are the special patron of all who
   suffer from arthritis and the
   pains of aging.
When our joints and related areas hurt so
   much that tears well up in our
   eyes, help us to recall the blood,
   sweat and tears that flowed from
   our crucified Jesus who bore so
   much suffering out of love for
   each of us.
St. Alphonsus, afflicted with curvature of the spine
   and nailed to a wheelchair cross in
   your final years, teach us to unite all
   our pains and sufferings with those
   of Jesus, so our patience and love may
   inspire others to accept the difficulties
   of their lives in union with Jesus on
   the cross.
May we be enabled to be one with Jesus in His
   great act of suffering, dying and rising.

The part that really spoke to me were the two lines which read:  "St. Alphonsus, afflicted with curvature of the spine and nailed to a wheelchair cross in your final years..."  For, I, too, am now bent over and usually have to use my wheelchair these days instead of the walker.  This phrase also inspired me when I set about drafting my drawing as I knew that I had to have some indication of that "wheelchair cross" in it.  This explains why you see the top of a wheel next to his chair frame -- in his day, wheelchairs were simply wooden chairs with wooden wheels attached.

Now that you know why I am suddenly talking so much about St. Alphonsus, let me tell you a bit about his life and times.

A drawing of the elderly St. Alphonsus which I found online
The following, rather lengthy biography, was taken from Wikipedia.  Feel free to skip as much of it as you wish!

"(September 27, 1696 – August 1, 1787) was an Italian Catholic Bishop, spiritual writer, scholastic philosopher and theologian, and founder of the Redemptorists, an influential religious order. He was canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI and declared a Doctor of the Church.

Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori was born in Marianella, near Naples, then part of the Kingdom of Naples. He was the first-born of seven belonging to the Neapolitan nobility. Two days after he was born he was baptized at the Church of Our Lady the Virgin as Alphonsus Mary Antony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de' Liguori. Alphonsus Liguori went to law school at age sixteen, becoming a very well-known lawyer.

In 1723, after a long process of discernment, he abandoned his legal career and, despite his father's strong opposition (and reluctant consent), began his seminary studies in preparation for the priesthood in the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. [Interestingly, today is the feast day of St. Philip Neri].  He was ordained a priest on December 21, 1726, at the age of 30. He lived his first years as a priest with the homeless and marginalized youth of Naples. He founded the "Evening Chapels." Run by the young people themselves, these chapels were centers of prayer and piety, preaching, community, social activities, and education. At the time of his death, there were 72 of these chapels with over 10,000 active participants. His sermons were very effective at converting those who were alienated from their faith. 

The saint suffered from scruples much of his adult life, and felt guilt about the most minor issues relating to sin. Moreover, the saint viewed scruples as a blessing at times, he wrote: "Scruples are useful in the beginning of conversion.... they cleanse the soul, and at the same time make it careful".

In 1729 Alphonsus left his family home and took up residence in the Chinese College in Naples. It was there that he began his missionary experience in the interior regions of the Kingdom of Naples where he found people who were much poorer and more abandoned than any of the street children in Naples.

On November 9, 1732, St. Alphonsus founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (later known as the Redemptoristines), when Sister Maria Celeste Crostarosa told him that it had been revealed to her that he was the one God had chosen to found the Congregation. This order's goal was to teach and preach in the slums of cities and other poor places. They also fought Jansenism which was a heresy that denied humans free will and barred many Catholics from receiving the Eucharist. He gave himself entirely to this new mission. A companion order of nuns was founded simultaneously by Sister Maria Celeste.

Alphonsus was consecrated Bishop of Sant'Agata dei Goti in 1762. He tried to refuse the appointment, proposing his age and infirmities as arguments against his consecration. During this time he wrote sermons, books, and articles to encourage devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1775 he was allowed to retire from his office and went to live in the Redemptorist community in Pagani, Italy where he died on August 1, 1787. He was beatified on September 15, 1816 by Pope Pius VII, canonized on May 26, 1839, by Pope Gregory XVI, and later proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1871 by Pope Pius IX. He was named "Patron of Confessors and Moralists" by Pope Pius XII on April 26, 1950, who subsequently wrote of him in the encyclical "Haurietis Aquas."

Alphonsus was proficient in the arts - his parents having had him being trained by various masters of the arts - being a musician, painter, poet, and author at the same time. He put all his artistic and literary creativity at the service of the Christian mission and he asked the same of those who joined his Congregation. His biography says that, in his later days, he liked to go to the local theater, which at the time had a very bad reputation; after being ordained, each time he attended the recitals Alphonsus simply took his optic glasses off and sat in the last row, listening to the music and not paying attention to anything else.
Alphonsus wrote 111 works on spirituality and theology. The 21,500 editions and the translations into 72 languages that his works have undergone attest to the fact that he is one of the most widely read Catholic authors. Among his best known works are The Great Means of Prayer, The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ and The Visits to the Most Holy Sacrament. Prayer and its power, love, his relationship with Christ and his first-hand experience of the pastoral needs of the faithful made Alphonsus one of the great masters of the interior life."

St. Alphonsus, pray for us.

Now, after all that dry and dusty material, why not join me in a quick look at some zebra?!  I can remember as a young child trying to figure out if zebra had a white coat with black stripes or was it the other way around!  I soon discovered that this is one of those questions you ignore!  Anyway, I have always been fascinated by the look of these "horses" of the African plains.

Seeing Double!
 Zebra are a truly social species and you rarely ever see one standing alone -- at least not for very long -- and they really seem to enjoy one anothers' company!

"Quit staring.  What else is a backside for?"
Here is another common behaviour of the Zebra -- this business of resting the head along the body of their closest companion!  I have never seen them in the wild, but whenever I have seen films about them, I have noticed often how common this practice is.

The Happy Family doing the Zebra thing!
Here, once again, is a zebra doing the zebra "thing" while the two smaller animals seem to be giving each other a friendly kiss.  This actually looks a bit like those family photos where the one with the camera shouts: "now everybody make nice"!

I really enjoy this optical illusion.  It always takes me half a second to get it right!

And, finally, here is one of nature's optical illusions.  I remember the first time I saw this photograph.  It actually took me a minute or two to finally figure out exactly what I was seeing.  Even now, as I mentioned in the caption, it still always takes me a couple of seconds to get it right.  I really would be interested in knowing if anyone else has this problem.


As for Suki and myself, we are doing reasonably well.

The above discussion about St. Alphonsus gives you some indication of the issues that I am dealing with at the moment and even though these are difficult issues, they are all problems that I think I can learn to live with relatively comfortably given some more time and occupational therapy.

As for Miz Suki, she might disagree with me about this "doing reasonably well" business!  She seems to truly believe that she is being severely deprived because I refuse to feed her as often as she would like.  I have tried to explain about weight gain and how fat cats have more physical problems and die younger, but I can see from the look in her eyes that she is not convinced.  I can only hope she doesn't report me to the Humane Society!


I am praying for all these people who are suffering from the monster storms recently across the States.  How terrifying that type of experience must be for those who have survived and how sad many of the survivors must be because friends and family members did not make it.

So I say with deep desire:  "May the peace of God be with us all".

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Tillandsia cyanea -- Pink Quill

Tillandsia cyanea -- Pink Quill (Solarization) drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

Today's drawing is a rather different flowering plant which I find beautiful because of its unique appearance.  Actually, I have presented a view of this plant that appears to be more unique than it really is.  I used my "solarization" software on my finished drawing and I liked the results so much that I decided to use it as the introductory view of this plant.  As well, my drawing is of a rather immature plant since it does not yet have any violet flowers in evidence.  So let me tell you more about this plant.

Tillandsia cyanea or Pink Quill is a species of flowering plant in the Bromeliad family, subfamily Tillandsioideae. An epiphyte* native to Ecuador, T. cyanea is among the most commonly cultivated bromeliad species. The foliage grows in a rosette of thin, recurved leaves and the inflorescence is a plume of pink or red bracts from which violet flowers emerge.  *[An epiphyte (or air plants) is a plant that grows upon another plant (such as a tree) non-parasitically or sometimes upon some other object (such as a building or a telegraph wire), derives its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and sometimes from debris accumulating around it, and is found in the temperate zone (as many mosses, liverworts, lichens and algae) and in the tropics (as many ferns, cacti, orchids, and bromeliads)] taken from Wikipedia.

As mentioned above,Tillandsias are epiphytes in their native Ecuador and have small roots, mainly used for anchoring themselves on trees. Because the roots don't drink up water, these tree-dwelling plants gather moisture and nutrients through their leaves.  Below is a photograph of Tillandsia cyanea growing wild in its native country of Ecuador.

Tillandsia cyanea -- Pink Quill growing wild (see flower at top)

Below is my original drawing.  As I mentioned previously, I really prefer the appearance of the plant in the "manipulated" drawing at the beginning of this posting.  What do you think?

Tillandsia cyanea -- Pink Quill  by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer -- original drawing

Now for some animal photographs.  I haven't shown you any of my horsey photos for a while and, since I have a couple of new ones, I thought this should be the time!

"Do you see what she is wearing!  Can you believe that pink harness?!!"

I know that the expressions on the faces of these two horses has more to do with being leery of whatever it is that they are seeing; however, the expressions look, to me, very much the way two women look when they are talking about someone and trying not to let everyone know that they are talking about someone!  In other words, when two women are gossiping -- something I try my very best not to do, but sometimes the temptation is so very great!

"Hey, where is that man with our evening snack??

This photo is just so perfect -- it really does look like the two horses in the front are looking every "which- away" for something important -- like fresh hay, a new salt lick or something.  They are also beautiful horses I might add!

"Sweetheart, I know you want to hug me, but horses just don't hug -- it just isn't done."

This poor colt, who does appear to be trying to hug his mother, will have to learn the hard way that bony legs and sharp hooves just do not make for hugging!  I do feel sorry for the poor mama horse who is trying to tolerate this behaviour!


Once again I can report that Suki is sound asleep on the back of her favourite chair.  Sadly, it is a chair that I would really like to get rid of as I can no longer use it for myself; however, I just can't bring myself (yet) to deprive Suki of this chair.  I think she likes it so much because it is close enough to me for her to be able to see me while I am working on the computer and yet far enough away so that my occasional grumblings and sudden movements, caused by the occasional spasm or pain, don't disturb her sleep too much.  What a dilemma!  I think I may try to get someone to move the chair for me to a less pleasant location so that she no longer finds it so suitable.

I am hobbling along as usual these days.  I hope to try to get back to the gym for 30 minutes or so starting this coming Monday.  I will just have to see how my poor old joints are feeling by then.

I want to end this posting with another horse photo.  This picture reminds me of the countryside where I lived as a teenager -- back when I had a horse of my own.  So many good memories of that horse and the rides we took through the countryside.

First drink of the day

May the peace of God be with us and with all His creatures.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Joseph, the all-comely

As you can see, today's drawing is of Joseph of the coat of many colours; or, as some know him, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"!

What follows is my account of the story of "Joseph, the all-comely".  While my version is not exactly as the story appears in the Book of Genesis, I will try not to add too many extra insights!

At the time the story begins, Joseph is the only son of Jacob (Israel) and his second wife, Rachael -- the love of his life.  Consequently, even though he has had 10 sons by his first wife (whom he was forced to marry by her father) and two of her handmaidens, he loves Joseph the best -- and he lets everyone know it.  This is very unfortunate because it means that Joseph is something of a spoiled brat who lords it over his brothers.  Joseph is, at this point in his life, a rather obnoxious young man. 

On this significant day, Joseph, wearing his coat of many colours which his father had had made especially for him, is sent to his brothers by Jacob to find out how his brothers and their flocks are doing.  His brothers were all working hard taking care of the many flocks of sheep that their father owned while Joseph got to stay at home and "play".  As if that weren't bad enough, when Joseph arrives at his brother's camp, he felt the need to tell them about a dream he had recently had in which he sees all his brothers bowing down before him as though he was a king.

The brothers were so fed up with him by this point that they decided to kill him, but his older brother, Reuben, convinced the group to dump Joseph in a dry well nearby and leave him there to die.  This they do.  However, maybe because they were feeling just a bit bad about their actions, they decided to remove Joseph from the well and sell him to a passing caravan as a slave.  Once they had done this, they then take the coat of many colours and dip it in goat's blood to show to their father -- suggesting to him that Joseph must have been attacked by a wild beast and devoured.

Joseph, meanwhile, is taken to Egypt where he is sold as a slave in the household of a well-placed government official by the name of Potiphar.  I won't go into detail about how Joseph ends up in jail or how he is released after being the only one found who can interpret a powerful dream had the Pharaoh; however, I will note that by the time all of this has occurred, Joseph has become a man of humility, having compassion for others.  His experiences had molded his character in such a way that he has become a totally different person than he had been as a young man -- a much better person. 

Thus, because Joseph was able to interpret the dream (thanks to God having given him the ability to interpret dreams), he is appointed by the Pharaoh as the man who will see to it that Egypt is prepared for the famine that the dream said would occur in seven years.  This makes Joseph the most important man in Egypt after the Pharaoh himself.  Eventually, Joseph's family, having reached the point of a serious lack of food in their own land, decide to come to Egypt to request food for their many families.  His brothers arrive in Egypt and are sent to Joseph as he is the only one who can decide if they will be given any of Egypt's stored food supplies.  So occurs the very event Joseph had dreamed about as a boy.  He is sitting on a throne while his 10 brothers kneel before him.  They do not know it is their brother, of course.

We can see what a different person Joseph has become by the very words he will eventually say to his brothers when, after a series of events, he makes himself known to them.  They expect to be treated harshly, to say the least; however, Joseph speaks to them the words written on the icon above:  "Do not be afraid... even though you meant to do me harm when you sold me into Egypt, God intended it for good -- to preserve life."

How about that for growing into a person who, after all he had suffered, is now able to see the Will of God in everything that happened.  As St. Paul said, "all things work together for good to those who love God."

Now, that is my version of the story and I am stickin' to it!


Now, for three new Polar Bear photos. 

I received a gift box recently of note cards made available by the Sierra Club (giving me note cards is rather like carrying coals to Newcastle as the saying goes).  Anyway, three of the photos they used were ones which I found very appealing. 

You know by now the pleasure I get from pictures of Polar Bears.  While I know they are wild animals and wild animals are not really "cute", Polar Bears seem to me to be rather like domestic cats -- always doing funny things, especially when it comes to sleeping positions!
So, here are the photos:

This is a typical, sweet picture of a mother with her two cubs.  Polar Bear cubs are so appealing to me with those beautiful white coats and black, button eyes.  Also very appealing is the way they hide within their mother's body while peering curiously out at the big, exciting world.

Here is a beautiful close-up of a sleeping bear.  The paws are somehow very appealing to look at even though we know that if one of those paws (with those big nails) took a swipe at us, we might be hurt rather badly!  I hear that occasionally tourists up north forget that Polar Bears are wild animals just because of their "cuteness" factor and end up having to be rescued putting themselves and their rescuers in serious danger.

This final photo is a beautiful one of a resting Polar Bear (perhaps watching for fish to swim past in that clear water below).  I imagine that if there is no action after a few moments, he will fall asleep while the sun warms his backside.  I know these bears are cold climate creatures; however, they are also warm-blooded so I have yet to figure out how they can fall asleep while resting on ice floes!  Oh, well, each to their own.


Speaking of sleep, Suki gave up trying to get me to leave the computer and go and feed her and is now sound asleep nearby.  I am sure, however, that at the very least indication of movement on my part, she will be up and headed for the kitchen!

I am doing as well as I can.  These days I do find everything a bit more difficult.  I am hoping that my doctors will be able to come up with some way of helping me to repair the damage done by the fall I had 5 or 6 weeks ago now.  I should be getting the results of the latest x-rays today or tomorrow which will, hopefully, give me some idea of what the next step will be.
May the peace of God be with us all.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Anthurium hybrid "Flamingo Flower"

Anthurium hybrid "Flamingo Flower"

Anthurium is a large genus of about 600- 800 (possibly 1,000) species, belonging to the arum family (Araceae). Anthurium can also be called "Flamingo Flower" or "Boy Flower".

Anthurium grows in many forms, mostly evergreen, bushy or climbing epiphytes with roots that can hang from the canopy all the way to the floor of the rain forest. There are also many terrestrial forms which are found as understory plants, as well as hemiepiphytic forms. A hemiepiphyte is a plant capable of beginning life as a seed and sending roots to the soil, or beginning as a terrestrial plant that climbs a tree and then sends roots back to the soil. Anthurium flowers develop crowded in a spike on a fleshy axis, called a spadix.  The tiny white "dots" on the spadix in my drawing are the Anthurium flowers.

Most hybrids are based on A. andreanum or A. scherzerianum because of their colorful spathes.  The Anthurium has a solitary spathe which is a showy modified bract (in botany, a bract is a modified or specialized leaf).  In the case of the "Flamingo Flower", the spathe is the flamingo-coloured leaf surrounding the spadix.  I trust I have you thoroughly confused!  Don't worry, so am I.

The A. scherzerianum mentioned in the previous paragraph is an Anthurium of which I did a drawing some months ago.  You may recall what a crazy looking flower it is, but in case you don't remember it, I have posted it below.

Anthurium scherzerianum nicknamed "Noodles"

The other variety mentioned in the above paragraph is A. andreanum and is the Anthurium with which we are most familiar.  It is the one you often see in the grocery store florist department.  I am posting a lovely drawing of this flower below.  This is not one of my drawings but is a drawing by a famous artist of the 1800's by the name of Sir Joseph Paxton.

Anthurium andraeanum drawing by Sir Joseph Paxton

Moving on to a bit of foolishness, I now want to show you a few photos from South Africa of a highway collision!  I think you will find it very instructive.  The first photo shows a busy highway in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

Elephant in Pilanesberg Game Reserve, South Africa - 1

Evidently, the driver of the white VW wanted to pass the bull elephant and begin honking his horn.  This was a big mistake.

Elephant in Pilanesberg Game Reserve, South Africa - 2

The elephant obviously became annoyed with the honking object riding right on his tail, so to speak.  He stopped, turned around and proceeded to dispose of this noisy nuisance which was destroying the pleasure of his afternoon walk.

Elephant in Pilanesberg Game Reserve, South Africa - 3

Elephant in Pilanesberg Game Reserve, South Africa - 4

First, he gave the noisy object a good head butt, followed by a good trunk lashing.  This stopped all the terrible racket that had been so bothersome.

At the point, it would appear that there was no more white VW, no more honking horn and, thus, nothing else that will interfere with his graceful walk through the game reserve! 

The lesson here?  If you get behind a bull elephant in traffic, do not honk your horn!


Things are fairly quiet at my "house" these days.  Suki has not done anything too outrageous.  I have managed to go almost five weeks now with falling and hitting my head.  Really, I might even be able to say that things are really going well (with a few qualifiers, of course!).

I am presently conducting marriage preparation courses for several different couples on several different days of the week.  As I have mentioned before, I really enjoy working with these couples and consider it a real gift from God to be able to continue to do this kind of work.  I only work with one couple at a time and this means that we really get to know one another:  they get to know each other better, I get to know them and they get to know me.

Speaking of marriage preparation reminds me that I have one of those couples coming for their next session tomorrow morning so I had better go and get myself prepared.  Suki just awoke and sends everyone a big stretch and a yawn!

May the peace of God be with us all.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Our Lady and The Good Shepherd

Icon of Our Lady -- modelled after a Russian icon
No matter how many times I try to draw an image of Our Lady, I am never able to complete it the way I see it in my mind.  The problem is, I think, that I would need to be a trained artist with a great gift like Michelangelo to have any hope of drawing what I see in my mind.  However, I keep trying and showing you the results -- as amateurish as they may be.  I hope you don't mind! 

Icon of Jesus as the Good Shepherd
 I did my best, buy I doubt seriously if my poor little sheep would be able to walk anyway considering how I have drawn him.  Thank goodness Jesus is carrying him!

I was trying to show Our Lord as a rugged shepherd -- the kind you can still see in the Holy Land today.  I am not sure, but I may have made him look more like a "hippie" than a shepherd!


Now for news on my literary efforts:
Here is what the cover of my second book looks like in colour

I had submitted my book on the Stations of the Cross to this magazine some months ago. I had actually hoped that if they were going to review it, the review would have appeared before Lent began so that people might think of purchasing it for use in their Lenten activities.  However, beggars can't be choosers, they say, so I am just grateful that it has finally appeared now.  One interesting thing the reviewer did was to assume that my last name was Cosby Thayer.  I don't mind that since that is just a combination of my maiden and married names, but it did come as a surprise when I first read the review.  Now, please enjoy the wonderfully positive review below.

My first and only book review

The magazine, by the way, is a Canadian publication published by the Catholic Charismatic organization.  The magazine is called "The Bread of Life".


Finally, let me leave you with one of my favourite "special" photographs.  This is one of those photos that had the photographer with camera in the right place at the right time.  You know -- one of those moments where we all usually say "Oh, if I just had my camera with me right now".

You may have seen this photo before as it has been around for a while, but each time I look at it, I delight in seeing what appears to be a young boy pulling the sun along in his wagon.

Carrying the Sun in a Wagon

At the moment, my cat, Suki, is acting crazier than usual.  She was sitting on her favourite window ledge when something evidently spooked her.  She quickly got out of the window, turned around a few times with a strange expression on her face and is now sitting on top of the printer which enables her to look out of the window underneath the blinds.  I assume she is doing this so that whatever is out there can't see her while she can see it.  I suppose I should get up and look outside myself, but, knowing Suki, it will probably turn out to be a reflection of tree branches moving in the wind!  What a cat.

Actually, we are both doing reasonably well -- all things considered.  I, for one, am very grateful that the warmer weather is returning.  It was so nice to go out today with only a light jacket on and feel the warmth of the sun on my head.  What a great time of year.

May the peace of God be with us all.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Erythronium sibericum

Erythronium sibericum
My drawing for tonight is Erythronium sibericum.  I have not been able to find a common name for this plant.  As you can see by its name, it is found in Siberia so maybe I need to be looking for a common name in Russian!  Anyway, I came across the following on a web site.  I do not know who wrote it, but I think you will find it interesting.

Erythroniums are members of a group of hardy spring flowers in the Liliaceae family. There are, however, other more pleasing monikers. Many of the American vernacular names reflect the plant’s early flowering season: fawn lily, trout lily, avalanche lily. The genus name Erythronium, refers to the Greek and Latin words for red-flowering [having to do with the red dye that can be made from the bulb]. It transmutes itself into various shapes and forms as it marches eastward across Eurasia and into the highlands of Japan. The most northern continental population of this species, E. sibericum, is one of the hardiest, tolerating very low temperatures.

You may recall that some time last year I posted a drawing of Erythronium japonicum (the variety found in Japan) and gave a bit of information about it.  I have posted it below so that you can see the similarities and the differences.

Erythronium japonicum

Tonight I would like to show you three photos of swans I have collected.

This first photo does not look like a photo anymore because I took the photo and applied my special software to it -- specifically, the paint application.  It was a beautiful photograph and, I think, it has ended up being a beautiful "painting".

Swan Song -- photo by Neville (painter software applied)

These next two photographs are ones that I have very pleasing.  The first one is a beautiful example of swan mothering.

Swan mother keeping her young safe and dry

This final swan photograph I like because of the unusual perspective and the intense reflections.

Swan and Sky Reflections

Nothing new to say about myself or Suki.  She is sleeping very deeply at the moment and every so often her tail will twitch quite wildly!  I wonder if she is dreaming that she has finally caught that pigeon that taunts her each day outside the bedroom window!

Speaking of sleeping, I think it must be time for me to start preparing to head in the direction of my bed.  I will leave you with a sweet photo all about sleep...

  May the peace of God be with us all.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Divine Mercy Sunday

I apologize for the problems with the print in this posting.  Something went wrong with the type size and type and I don't know how to fix it!
My drawing of Blessed Pope John Paul II as he intercedes for us

Today has been a very special day for me -- Divine Mercy Sunday and the beatification of our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.  Let me explain.

First, the beatification:  It appears that the greatly loved Pope JPII is well on his way to sainthood.  Actually, the people of the Church throughout the world have been asking that he be canonized from the day of his funeral back in 2005.  So, he was quickly declared "venerable" which means he led a life worthy of imitation and also means that the process of investigating his life is well under way.  The next step is "blessed" which means that the Church believes him to be in Heaven thus we in the Church can name schools and churches after him and hold devotions asking him to intercede for us.  The next step is "sainthood" or canonization making Blessed Pope John Paul II a saint.  He would then take his place with all the great ones in Heaven and, if you have read my book "Novena Icons" (which you should have!), you would have some understanding of what this means to those of us who are Catholic and Orthodox (don't tell anyone, but I even know Protestants who ask the saints to intercede for them on the quiet!!).

Now for Divine Mercy Sunday.  This is the first Sunday after Easter and is a time for the entire Church to be very aware of the limitless mercy of God.  Too often we forgot how God is waiting and longing for us to return to Him -- like the Prodigal Son story where the father forgives everything wrong his son has done when the son returns to him asking forgiveness and admitting his failures.  This special day in the Church calendar came about because a nun named Sister Faustina, a mystic, heard Christ asking her to request the authorities to establish this feast on the first Sunday after Easter.  She believed that Christ asked her to do this because during the years she lived (the first part of the 20th century), the Catholic Church along with many other churches had come to see being a Christian as very much a matter of keeping all the rules.  Sister (now Saint) Faustina wanted the world to remember what we are told in scripture:  God is rich in mercy.

So, in honour of this special occasion, I did a new drawing of Pope John Paul II and I did it in the style of an icon.  I chose to try to portray the Pope as he looked just when the Parkinson's disease was first becoming evident -- just when he started to walk his own way of the cross.  In the background there is the icon of Our Lady of Czeshtochowa which I drew a few years ago -- the beloved icon of the Polish people and of the Holy Father.  The design on the stole about his neck is a modernistic representation of a shamrock -- a symbol of the Trinity.  I tried to make the background appear to be a place neither here nor there -- if you get what I mean.  I know I made the face rather sad, but I wanted to indicate something of the nature of intercessory prayer not the state of John Paul II in Heaven!

Next I want to show you some of my favourite images of Blessed Pope John Paul II. 

Cover of the magazine published by Salt and Light TV (Toronto) -- once again we see the Pope as he was so often ... at prayer.

Beautiful Painting (I don't know who painted it) of Blessed Pope John Paul II resting in the arms of Our Blessed Mother.

This says so much about his relationship with our Blessed Mother.


Blessed Mother Teresa and Blessed Pope John Paul II -- a favourite photo of mine.

Blessed Pope John Paul II pray for us.

 Now, here are some recent photos from my cat collection:

Just had to play in the mud didn't you?  What a pitiful looking thing you are now.

I really think, Mr. Gray Cat, that you should have checked carefully before trying to steal somebody's food! I think you are in big trouble now!

 Well, you got yourself up there, now what? Come to think of it, how on earth did you ever climb up there.


Suki and I are both doing reasonably well.  Suki is actually doing much better than I am but as I have pointed out previously, she is much younger than I!

May the peace of God be with us all.