Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Sacred Heart

Tonight I want to show you some of the Sacred Heart images I have drawn over the past few years.  All of them have been shown in previous postings, but I have chosen to review them at this time because the Church celebrates the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on July 1st this year.  And since this posting is the closest one to July 1st, I decided to talk a bit about the devotion to the sacred heart of Christ Jesus.  If this is a topic that does not interest you, then feel free to skip to the photos towards the end of this posting.

Since all of these images are drawn in the traditional manner of icons, you might assume that the practice of honouring the heart of Jesus is part of the Orthodox tradition which gave us icons in the first place.  Your assumption would be wrong.  Occasionally an Orthodox iconographer will attempt to show the fullness of the love of God for mankind by depicting Our Lord pointing to His heart, but his or her work is likely not to be very well received in the eastern churches as this view of Christ is not part of the eastern tradition.  Such depictions of Our Lord are definitely part of the heritage of the Latin-rite churches, i..e. the Catholic Church.

The history of this tradition in the Catholic Church is fascinating and I am pasting in a description of this history by the well-known Catholic, on-line author, Scott P. Richert.  Here is what he has to say about it all.

"Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus goes back at least to the 11th century, but through the 16th century, it remained a private devotion, often tied to devotion to the Five Wounds of Christ. The first feast of the Sacred Heart was celebrated on August 31, 1670, in Rennes, France, through the efforts of Fr. Jean Eudes (1602-1680). From Rennes, the devotion spread, but it took the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) for the devotion to become universal.

In all of these visions, in which Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary, the Sacred Heart of Jesus played a central role. The “great apparition,” which took place on June 16, 1675, during the octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi, is the source of the modern Feast of the Sacred Heart. In that vision, Christ asked St. Margaret Mary to request that the Feast of the Sacred Heart be celebrated on the Friday after the octave (or eighth day) of the Feast of Corpus Christi, in reparation for the ingratitude of men for the sacrifice that Christ had made for them. The Sacred Heart of Jesus represents not simply His physical heart but His love for all mankind.

The devotion became quite popular after St. Margaret Mary’s death in 1690, but, because the Church initially had doubts about the validity of St. Margaret Mary’s visions, it wasn’t until 1765 that the feast was celebrated officially in France. Almost 100 years later, in 1856, Pope Pius IX, at the request of the French bishops, extended the feast to the universal Church. It is celebrated on the day requested by our Lord—the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi, or 19 days after Pentecost Sunday."

Now let me make a few comments about my drawings.

The one at the beginning of this posting is the icon I consider to be my definitive Sacred Heart icon thus far.  It is the one I used in my most recent book when I talked about novenas to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  The Greek which you see on this icon and on a couple of the others says, in various ways, Sacred Heart or Holy Heart.

This icon is a variation on the first one.  It is just a bit more stylized and shows Our Lord with extremely large eyes indicating compassion and love.  I almost used this icon in my book instead of the previous one, but decided against it for various personal reasons.

This icon of the Sacred Heart is the most different of the four variations shown in this posting.  I chose to attempt to depict the love of God shown by the wounded heart of Christ by illustrating one of the most precious moments in the last hours of our Lord's life prior to His arrest and crucifixion.  This icon attempts to show that moment at the final meal of Christ with his apostles where we are told in scripture that St. John was resting his head on the heart of Jesus.  I marvel to think of St. John being blessed by his ability at that moment to hear the heart of Jesus beating, beating, beating.  That heart so full of love for us all that Our Lord would soon allow it to be pierced by a Roman soldier's lance.

This icon was my very first attempt to draw a depiction of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I remember at the time thinking to myself that I wanted to show a "modern" concept of this image.  This explains why I tried to find a way of showing the Sacred Heart that was different from those normally seen either in icons or in western-type art.  I personally feel that my attempt was a failure because I ended up with a drawing that appears very contrived.  Unlike the other three drawings, I have never used this one for any public purpose.

"Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in Your love for me."


Now, since July 1st is also Canada Day, I am posting a recent photograph I came across showing the "iconic" Canadian animal -- the beaver!

Happy Canada Day, 2011

This little guy looks as though he has been very busy, thoroughly messing up a nice stream somewhere -- cutting down little trees and creating a dam so that now there is a lake where a stream used to be!  Well, you can't blame him -- he is only doing what he was created to do.

Charlie's Angels
Here is a photo I came across recently.  Immediately, when I first saw this picture, I thought to myself "this looks just like the opening sequence of Charlie's Angels only with cats instead of Farrah Fawcett, et al."

For those of you who are old enough to remember the TV show, here is the poster that was used to advertise the show for many years.  This is what the three little kittens advancing menacingly toward the viewer reminded me of immediately.   

Just thinking back to the first year this show was on TV makes me marvel at how non-violent even the so-called violent detective shows were back then. 

Speaking of violence, I would hate to think about what will happen when those three kittens latch onto those wiggling toes that they obviously are focused on!

And speaking of cats (we were, weren't we?),  I can report that Suki is doing very well even though she suffered through a very difficult and upsetting day.  Today was the day that the lady came who brings out that terrible monster that makes so much noise and is so determined to suck up everything in its path, including cat's tails -- (I think she is talking about the vacuum cleaner!).  To translate, the cleaning lady came and vacuumed my floor in a vain effort to remove all the cat fur still remaining after a week wherein I used the Swiffer every day!

Truly I do not understand how Suki can possibly still have any hair on her body when I see how much ends up on the floor.  I keep threatening to have her shaved and she then turns around and threatens to call the Humane Society and report me!  This is the problem with having a smart cat.

Other than my ongoing struggles with Suki, I am doing fine.  I am still all curled over like a snail, but I have a lot less pain at the moment -- something for which I am very grateful.  I see the newest doctor soon and he will perhaps be able to help me.  Meanwhile, I continue to thank God for His goodness to me.

And so I  pray that the peace of God will be with us all.  I also want to wish everyone a blessed Feast of the Sacred Heart on July 1st, and I especially want to wish everyone a Happy Canada Day, 2011!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Lavatera the Third!

Lavatera arborea drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

First, let me refer back to my previous posting of the icon of Our Lady of the Tree of Life.  You may have noticed that the drawing is changed in some ways.  Let me explain.  I inadvertently used one of the copies I had been playing with using my funny software.  I did not even realize it until I came to check the date of my last posting to see if today, the 24th, was indeed four days since my last entry.  Please excuse my lack of awareness and I will try to make certain it doesn't happen again!

St. John the Baptist
by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

Also, let me wish each and everyone who may come across this posting today a very happy St. Jean Baptiste Day.  Today is obviously then the feast day of St. John the Baptist and I am inserting one of my icons of this great saint in honour of the occasion.

Now I can begin to tell you about the drawing for today.  As you can see, it is another Lavatera!

Lavatera arborea, the Tree Mallow, is a species of mallow native to the coasts of western Europe and the Mediterranean region, from the British Isles south to Algeria and Libya, and east to Greece. It grows mainly on exposed coastal locations, often on small islands, only rarely any distance inland.

Malva sylvestris
 It is a shrubby plant with, what I would call, floppy leaves.  You can see in my drawing some of the smaller leaves that still retain their shape, but as the leaves grow larger, they tend to become so floppy that their shape is difficult to determine. Although long considered a species of Lavatera, genetic and morphological analysis suggested it was better placed in the genus Malva and should be named Malva arborea. Malva is the Old English form of Mallow the common name for this flower and a number of others. 

To the right is a photo of one of the flowers in the genus, Malva, and you can see the resemblance.  At the present time, however, it is still acceptable to call the plant I have drawn by the name of Lavatera arborea.

Lavatera arborea tolerates sea water to varying degrees, at up to 100% sea water in its natural habitat, excreting salt through glands on its leaves. This salt tolerance can be a competitive advantage over inland plant species in coastal areas.

The leaves of the species are used in herbal medicine to treat sprains, by steeping them in hot water and applying the poultice to the affected area. It is theorised that lighthouse keepers may have spread the plant to some British islands for use as a poultice and to treat burns, an occupational hazard. The seeds are edible and are known in Jersey as "petit pains", or "little breads". Tree Mallow was considered a nutritive animal food in Britain in the 19th century, and is still sometimes used as animal fodder in Europe. And finally,those big, floppy leaves were frequently used in the past as a substitute for toilet paper!

Now for a few new and interesting photos.

"Come on in, the water's fine!"
 This first photo is of one of my favourite creatures, the Polar Bear.  They are such graceful creatures when they are in the water after being so clumsy looking on land.  Of course, it is that clumsiness that makes them so delightfully laughable.  This fellow certainly seems to be having a great time; however, I would not take him up on his offer to go for a swim with him!

The Orator
This character appears to be holding forth like an old-time politician!  I have no idea what he/she is up to, but I can easily imagine him saying something along the lines of "Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears"!

This photo appears to me to have been taken by a not very good long-distance lens -- and perhaps the person was even holding the camera in their hands rather than having it on a tripod.  Of course, one would be wise to take a picture of a black bear from a great distance away!  If only the quality of this photo was better, this would be a really good picture -- in my opinion.

Real Babies, Phony Mother!
I did a double-take when I first saw this photo.  For just an instant I tried to convince myself that this was a real owl mother with her babies; however, I couldn't do it since the "mother" is so obviously sewn together!  Perhaps this was a temporary solution that the shelter staff came up with after the real mother was killed.  At any rate, it seems to be working at the moment this photo was taken.  I would really like to know the story behind this photograph.


Well, Suki and I and both doing about the same as we were four days ago.  The only thing different is that I finally got my soft cervical collar which I try to wear for a couple of hours at a time.  I then take it off and rest my neck for the next hour.  It really doesn't accomplish much other than enabling me to hold my head up in something closer to a normal position.  Sadly, it has no curative powers and I have been told that if you wear these collars all the time, you actually lose muscle tone and end up making yourself worse!

Suki continues to behave in the usual way.  Each morning I tell her quite severely that she is definitely going back to the Humane Society that very afternoon.  However, after a few hours of having her behave very lovingly -- purring and cuddling and such -- I always relent and agree to allow her to stay another night!  I am such an old softie.

Finally, I want to show you a recent icon of Our Lady.  I continue to work on icons of the Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus even as I am working on other things.  I do this because I find that when working on an icon of Our Lady, I always experience such peace and joy, moreso than with any other drawings that I do.  I am now thinking about possibly doing a new book just of icons of Our Blessed Mother -- I will keep you informed.  Anyway, here is one of the more recent ones that I haven't shown you before. 

Our Lady of Tender Love an icon by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

May the peace of God be with us all.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Our Lady of the Tree of Life

Our Lady of the Tree of Life by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

There are any number of ways in which the image of the Tree of Life is used in Christian Catholic theology.  The first Tree of Life occurs in the first book of the Bible, Genesis.  This tree was found in the Garden of Eden and was lost to mankind after the Sin of our first parents.

Then Christ Jesus is also known as the Tree of Life for, as He said, "I am the way, the truth and the life"  So, he is in fact the source of Life, itself.  He even said:  "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you cannot have life within you." (John 6) Thus you can find icons which show Christ as the Tree with the branches being filled by prophets, kings and priests -- both those who preceded Christ and those who came after.

Finally, the Blessed Mother is seen as the Tree of Life.  She is perceived as the tree which gave forth the priceless fruit, Christ Jesus.  The icon I have drawn shows our Blessed Mother as the Tree of Life.  She is holding the Christ Child.  At the base of the tree are individuals who are worshipping.  There are a few domesticated animals who also appear somewhat reverent as they rest or graze.  The traditional icon of Mary, Tree of Life shows our Blessed Mother holding the Christ Child, standing where the trunk of the tree would be while the  branches hold various saints, apostles, prophets and so forth -- all looking towards the "trunk" of the tree. (see below)

There is a passage in the book "The Secret of Mary" by St. Louis de Montfort that speaks fully of  Mary as the Tree of Life.  I have quoted much of this section below.

Mary, Tree of Life

Dear soul, have you understood, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, what I have tried to explain to you in the preceding pages? If so, be thankful to God, for it is a secret known and understood by only a few. If you have found the treasure hidden in the field of Mary, the precious pearl of the Gospel, sell all that you have in order to buy it. You must make the sacrifice of yourself to the Blessed Mother, you must disappear in her, so that you may find God alone.
If the Holy Spirit has planted in your soul the true Tree of Life, which is the devotion that I have just explained to you, you must do all you can to cultivate it, in order that it may yield its fruit in due season. This devotion is like the mustard seed of the Gospel, "which is the least indeed of all seeds, but when it is grown up, is greater than all herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and dwell in the branches thereof," and rest in its shade from the heat of the sun and hide there in safety from the beasts of prey.
This is the way, dear soul, to cultivate it:
This Tree, once planted in a faithful heart, requires the open air and freedom from all human support. Being Heavenly, it must be kept clear from any creatures that might prevent it from lifting itself to God, in Whom its origin lies. Hence, you must not rely on your own skill or your natural talents, on your own repute or the protection of mankind. You must have recourse to Mary and rely on her help alone.
The one in whose soul this Tree is planted must, like a good gardener, constantly watch over it and tend it, for it is a Tree that has life and is capable of yielding the fruit of life. Therefore, it must be cultivated and raised by the steady care and application of the soul; and the soul that would become perfect will make this its chief aim and occupation.
Whatever is likely to choke the Tree or in the course of time prevent its yielding its fruit, such as thorns and thistles, must be cut away and rooted out. This means that by mortification and doing penance, we must suppress and renounce all useless pleasures and vain traffic with creatures. In other words, we must deny the flesh, keep recollected and mortify our senses.
You must also keep watch for insects which might do harm to the Tree. These insects are self-love or love of comfort. They eat away the foliage of the Tree and destroy the fair hopes it gives of yielding fruit, for self-love is opposed to the love of Mary.
You must not allow destructive animals to approach the Tree of Life. By these animals are meant all sins. They may kill the Tree of Life by their touch alone. Even their breath must be kept away from it, namely, venial sins, for they are most dangerous if committed without regret.
It is also necessary to water this Heavenly Tree often with the fervour of piety in our religious practices, in our Confessions and Communions, in all our prayers, both public and private; otherwise, it will stop yielding fruit.
Do not become alarmed when the Tree is moved and shaken by the wind, for it is necessary that the storms of temptation should threaten to uproot it, that snow and ice should cover it, so as, if possible, to destroy it. This means that this devotion will of necessity be attacked and contradicted, but provided we persevere in cultivating it in our souls, we need not fear.
Dear soul, if you thus cultivate the Tree of Life, freshly planted in your soul by the Holy Spirit, I assure you that in a short time it will grow so tall that the birds of Heaven will come to dwell in it. It will be a good tree, yielding fruit of honour and grace in due season, namely, the sweet and adorable Jesus, who always has been, and always will be, the only fruit of Mary.
Happy the soul in which Mary, the Tree of Life, is planted; happier the soul in which she has acquired growth and bloom; still happier the soul in which she yields her fruit; but most happy of all: the soul which relishes and preserves Mary's fruit until death, and for ever and ever. Amen.


Now here are some interesting bird photos:

A Perfect Landing!
This duck is making a perfect landing.  I love watching the mallards as they come in for a landing when I am over at the water's edge.  They hit the water with those webbed feet and within seconds they settle down on the water with hardly a feather out of place.  Ducks are so graceful when they land and so awkward when they take off.

An Imperfect Landing!
 This poor fellow must not have realized that he was landing on ice and not water.  I do hope he survived this crash!  If he did, I am sure he learned a valuable lesson about the difference between ice and water!

"Perfect love casts out fear"

This gull is no doubt protecting its nest and suddenly has no fear of this raptor -- I can't tell for certain if it is an eagle or a hawk.  Whichever, it could easily have a gull for a mid-day snack, but the protective feelings of a parent truly cast out all fear.


Finally tonight, I want to show you another drawing I did recently.  I actually should show this one to you as part of my regular blog presentation since I have some interesting variations on this drawing that you may find interesting.  However, I wanted to close with it tonight as I like the way it makes me feel when I look at it.

Still waters at sunrise drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

Suki was a bit unwell last night so both of us got very little sleep.  She has since taken a number of naps but I haven't had the opportunity to do so myself.  Thus she is now well-rested and playful while I am very tired and a bit grumpy.  I am really looking forward to bedtime!

Well, as Julian of Norwich said:  "All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well." 

May the peace of God be with us all.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Lavatera the Second

Lavatera assurgentiflora drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

As I promised in the posting named "Lavatera the First", here is the second Lavatera drawing.  There may even be a Lavatera the Third!  I will have to consider whether to draw another species that has caught my attention.  Meanwhile let me tell you about the species with the strange name of L. assurgentiflora!

Lavatera assurgentiflora is known by a number of different common names such as the following:  the Island Mallow, Mission Mallow, Royal Mallow and Island Tree Mallow. It is endemic to California, where it is native only to the Channel Islands.

It can also be found growing in coastal mainland California, where it is an escapee from cultivation. It is grown as an ornamental plant and windbreak.

Lavatera assurgentiflora is a sprawling perennial herb or bushy shrub generally exceeding a meter tall and approaching four meters in maximum height. The leaves are up to 15 centimeters long and wide and are divided into 5 to 7 toothed lobes. The showy flowers have five dark-veined deep pink petals which are somewhat rectangular in shape and 2.5 to 4.5 centimeters long.  You can see the strangely shaped petals in my drawing although I only have two leaves visible -- one is medium size while the other is very small.

This genus was named after a 17th century Swiss botanist by the name of J. R. Lavater.

Lavatera assurgentiflora drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer showing the use of Solarization software

This is what happened when I applied the solarization software.  Actually, I really like this version too.  What do you think?  I often seem to like the strange results of these various software functions better than the original drawing.  I think this is because of the unique colours I often end up with -- colours which are not possible with my regular palette.


I have been drawing so many flowers lately that I am including a second one in this posting.  I have drawn other Osteospermum species.  (see 4/10/10, 10/26/09 and 10/8/09)

This one, Osteospermum fruticosum, is one of the simpler flowers, but beautiful nonetheless.

Osteospermum fruticosum drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer from photo taken by Hylott
The title mentions that I worked from a photo by my friend, Hylott, in Alabama.  This plant was quite possibly growing in his garden as he and his wife, Patsy, have a beautiful selection of flowers.  I am always pleased when he sends me photos of flowers as he takes beautiful, clear pictures, including close-ups as he knows I really like close-ups so I can clearly see the details of the flower and its leaves just in case I decide to do a drawing of it.

Osteospermum fruticosum drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer using colour reversal software

 As usual, I couldn't resist playing with the image.  The above result was achieved by using something called "colour reversal software".  The colours are quite interesting, especially since O. fruticosum also comes in yellow!  In fact, I was going to do a drawing of the yellow variety, but now that I have this image, I may be satisfied with just using this one even though the yellow variety does not have that bright green ring at the centre!

Now for a few new "cute" photos I came across this past week.


Tonight's offerings include a bear and two birds.

Mrs. Bear sitting in the sun "how you ever gonna get your day's work done?"
I was going to title the photo "Mrs. Bruin sitting in the sun..."; however, after the loss of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team to the Boston Bruins and the ensuing riots in Vancouver, I felt it was not appropriate and might incite further rioting!

Could this be a Hummingbird sitting in a Calla Lily?  Whatever it is, it is beautiful!

This photo came with its own caption which suits me fine.  Unfortunately, the photo did not come with any information about the identification of the beautiful bird sitting inside the Calla Lily.  From the beak, I am inclined to think it might be one of those jeweled hummingbirds I have heard about.  If anyone out there knows for certain what type of bird this is, please, please let me know.

Can you see those beady, little eyes?  They seem to me to be saying:  "What do you think you are staring at, Mister?"
 Here is another bird whose identity I am unsure of.  I think it might be a pelican; however, I have never seen a pelican with such interesting colouring of the beak.  As well, I cannot see the pouch that all pelicans have that holds all those fish they supposedly catch every day.

Such a dilemma!  Once again, if you know what this bird really is, please let me know.


Now for my news. 

I really don't have any news of real significance.  I have returned to the gym, going almost every day this week and enjoying immensely the feeling that all those endorphins give after I have finished my limited workout.  I can no longer do certain exercises that I did previously, but there are still a few that don't hurt and seem to help!

One interesting note about my left eye.  When I fell a little over two months ago, I damaged my left eye -- the sixth cranial nerve, to be exact.  The damage causes me to see double.  The doctor provided me with a prescription for special glasses which I believe I told you about.  However, these glasses are only for working on the computer or reading a book.  So, when I try to watch my favourite shows on EWTN or Salt and Light TV, I spend much of my time trying to keep my left eye closed so I don't see double images on the screen.  So, I decided to get myself one of those "pirate" eye patches.  I look very "swashbuckling" when I put it on.  I am thinking about wearing it out tomorrow when I go for coffee! 

By the way, Suki is not impressed with my new look.  She thinks the eye patch is a new toy and thus I have had to put it away for the time being.  By the way, she thinks it is a toy while I am wearing it, not only when I am holding it in my hand!
Suki, by the way, is doing very well, as always.  At the moment she is sleeping on the back of "her" chair after having been fed a large supper!  What a cat.

Speaking of supper reminds me, I still haven't put away everything from my supper, so I had better go and get that done before bedtime sneaks up on me.
I will close by showing you another photo that "pleases my soul". 

Sunlight creeps into the deep woods
 May the peace of God be with us all.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

St. George and the Dragon

St. George and the Dragon by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Saint George (ca. 275/281 – 23 April 303) was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palestina and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic (Western and Eastern Rites), Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox churches. He is immortalized in the tale of Saint George and the Dragon and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. His memorial is celebrated on 23 April, and he is regarded as one of the most prominent military saints.

This is the account of St. George that I was familiar with.  It is this St. George I referred to when I did the blog posting on the icon of St. Alexandra back on April 19th of this year.  You may recall that I wrote the following:

St. Alexandra
"He (St. George) had been a Roman soldier who was now being punished by her husband for his faith in Jesus Christ and his refusal to worship the Roman gods. Intrigued, she sought out St. George, finding him in the dungeons, beaten and bloody. Even in this state, he spoke to Alexandra with calm assurance of the love of Christ. So powerful was his witness that St. Alexandra renounced the pagan gods and joyfully accepted Christ as her Saviour."

As I did research on St. George, however, I discovered that there are a number of stories about St. George and the Dragon -- even similar pre-Christian stories.  One of the most famous is found in something called the "Golden Legend" (the Golden Legend information is taken from Wikipedia).
[According to the Golden Legend the narrative episode of Saint George and the Dragon took place in a place the author called "Silene," in Libya. The Golden Legend is the first to place this legend in Libya as a sufficiently exotic locale, where a dragon might be imagined. In the tenth-century Georgian narrative, the place is the fictional city of Lasia, and its godless Emperor is named Selinus.

The town had a pond, as large as a lake, where a plague-bearing dragon dwelt that envenomed (to make something poisonous) all the countryside. To appease the dragon, the people of Silene used to feed it two sheep every day, and when the sheep failed, they fed it their children, chosen by lottery. It happened that the lot fell on the king's daughter, who is in some versions of the story called Sabra. The king, distraught with grief, told the people they could have all his gold and silver and half of his kingdom if his daughter were spared; the people refused. The daughter was sent out to the lake, decked out as a bride, to be fed to the dragon.

Saint George by chance rode past the lake. The princess, trembling, sought to send him away, but George vowed to remain. The dragon reared out of the lake while they were conversing. Saint George fortified himself with the Sign of the Cross, charged it on horseback with his lance and gave it a grievous wound. Then he called to the princess to throw him her girdle, and he put it around the dragon's neck. When she did so, the dragon followed the girl like a meek beast on a leash.

She and Saint George led the dragon back to the city of Silene, where it terrified the people at its approach. But Saint George called out to them, saying that if they consented to become Christians and be baptized, he would slay the dragon before them. The king and the people of Silene converted to Christianity, George slew the dragon, and the body was carted out of the city on four ox-carts. "Fifteen thousand men baptized, without women and children." On the site where the dragon died, the king built a church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint George, and from its altar a spring arose whose waters cured all disease.]

Others trace the origin of Saint George and the Dragon to Palestine, where the supposed dragon was controlled by Satan. The creature blocked the city's water supply and would only move if given a virgin sacrifice. Over time, all of the virgins were sacrificed except for the noble's daughter, and even she was sent to quench the castle's thirst. However, Saint George (or Mar Jiryis) arrived at the last moment on his white horse, striking down the dragon with a spear between its eyes.

As you can imagine, I had a great time drawing this icon since I got to use so many interesting colours -- plus I also got to try to draw another horse!

St. George, pray for us.


Now for some appealing photos I came across recently.

"What on earth is that?  Can you figure it out?"
I really had to chuckle over these two owls.  Owls are such amazing creatures as they are able to make almost a complete turn with their heads -- so much so that sometimes when they are watching you, they turn their head and you realize that what you thought was the front was really their back! 

Anyway, these two characters seem to be eyeing something very carefully and don't seem to be too certain as to what they are looking at!  I have felt that way occasionally while driving my wheelchair along Yonge Street!

"Do you mean this thing in my mouth?  Oh, it's nothing, just something I found in the leaves."

I also find this photo very amusing.  The dog obviously has something in its mouth, probably something it picked up in the leaves and grass.  The dog also seems to know that this is a big no-no and when confronted by their human, the dog gives that marvelous look which says "Oops, I have been caught" and is ready to try to talk his way out of the "bad dog" that he knows is coming!

"Don't try to overcharge me.  I've got my eye on the meter!"
This is another funny one.  Why the one duck is standing on another is puzzling unless the one on top with the juvenile markings is the child and the other duck is the parent.  I mean when you see those big Robin babies -- as big or bigger than their parents -- begging and begging for food -- you realize that even when the bird babies are big, the parents still treat them as babies.

So this is either a "duck taxi service" or else a youngster still trying to ride on its mother's back!


Woofstock has been doing its annual thing in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood this weekend! Front Street has been closed off from just a little bit east of Yonge over to Jarvis with many of the side streets shut off as well.  And, of course, there have been lots and lots of dogs parading up and down pulling their humans along at varying speeds.  I enjoy seeing the crowds of people and dogs for a while, but then I find it a bit overwhelming and am ready to return to the quietness of my home and my sleepy kitty cat.

Speaking of Suki, she is nowhere to be seen at the moment.  I am sure she is somewhere sleeping off the big supper I gave her tonight. Oops, I spoke too soon.  Just as I finished typing the previous sentence, I heard some faint meows coming from the closet -- and here she is folks, trying to climb onto my shoulder and nuzzle my ear.  This, by the way, is all in an effort to get some additional food!  What a cat!

I also had a big supper which included fresh Ontario asparagus and strawberries purchased from the Farmer's Market yesterday -- the one at the North Market across from St. Lawrence Market.  As the Ontario fruits and veggies start to become available each year, I am amazed anew at how good fresh food tastes!
I have one additional photo to show you tonight.  I came across the picture below this past week and was truly delighted by it.  What a beautiful scene.

Deer walking into the sunlight
I can imagine standing at the edge of the clearing as the deer cautiously comes out into the sunlight.  What a magical sight that would be.

Well, folks, I had better go and see what I can do to turn off this purring machine that is trying to climb all over me!

May the peace of God be with us all.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Lavatera the First

Lavatera maritima drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

Lavatera maritima (Tree mallow) - This is a large mounding evergreen fast-growing shrub that grows to 6-8 feet tall and 8-12 feet wide. The gray-green leaves are lobed. The light lavender/pink flowers have deep lavender centers and deep lavender veins radiating from the centers. These flowers bloom year-round in moderate climates and the peak bloom period is early spring to late fall.

L. maritima belongs to the family Malvaceae (Mallows). It originated in the European Mediterranean area. A similar plant with larger flowers is known as Lavatera maritima bi-colour but this variety is probably a cultivar of L. maritima. 

Lavatera maritima drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer (Hue Correction)

Here is an example of what happens when I apply the software called "hue correction".  Suddenly the leaves are blue and the previously deep lavender parts of the petals are now olive green!

Lavatera maritima drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer (Colour Balance)

Here you can see what happens when I choose the software called "colour balance".  Everything becomes darker and the leaves and flowers take on a deep purple tone.

Both these variations are interesting, but neither does anything special with the original drawing as far as I am concerned.  The flowers are quite beautiful enough just the way God made them!

I did another drawing of Water Lilies which I want to show you.  I keep trying to draw the perfect water lilies just as I keep trying to draw the perfect Calla Lilies.  I don't think I am ever going to accomplish this, but the desire remains sufficient to keep me at it over and over again.  You, as my faithful reader, however, have to keep seeing every new attempt!

Water Lilies a drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer


Now for a quick visit to the tulip fields of The Netherlands.  The following photos were sent to me at the end of May and I meant to show them to you in my last posting for May since these pictures were taken in the month of May.

I simply cannot imagine how glorious it would be to see these fields of tulips for real and not just in photos.  I react so positively to bright colours so I think I would probably feel as though I had just stepped into the portals of Heaven!

Here are 4 photographs for your enjoyment.

The Netherlands in May -- 1

The Netherlands in May -- 2

The Netherlands in May -- 3

The Netherlands in May -- 4


Nothing new to report on the home front.

I did see the doctor again today and it was decided that I would see another specialist about my poor neck.  I think we are running out of options and so I may just have to accept the fact of living with my neck bent over and looking at the world sideways!  It is not my favourite thing, but if this is how God wants me to live out my years, it is OK with me.  After all, He is in charge and I trust Him to know what He is doing!

You see below a beautiful photograph of snails.  This now represents me!  A good friend tells me that I now look more like a snail than like a giraffe (you may remember my telling you about being nicknamed "The Giraffe" when I was much younger because I had such a long neck).  I really don't mind being compared to a snail now.  Other than the slimy trail they leave, I have always liked snails and admired their beautiful shell "houses" that they carry with them.  Carrying your house with you has always seemed to me to be a very sensible thing to do.


I also go about as slowly as a snail these days when I am walking with my rollator/walker.  (Of course, it is a very different story when I am in my wheelchair!)  Hopefully no one will grab me up and try to turn me into escargot!

Suki is sound asleep so I can't ask her if she has anything she wants to add to all this.  She had a big supper and I think this is one of those long sleeps that seem to happen to her after a big meal.  Cats truly know how to live.
May the peace of God be with us all.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

St. Macrina the Younger

St. Macrina the Younger (drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer)

What follows is a “pious” account of the life of St. Macrina the Younger with brief mention of her various saintly, family members. Try not to let the sweetness of the account bother you; instead, try to get a sense of how this family approached the living out of their faith in the early, tumultuous years of the Church.  The information is based on the panegyric [extravagant praise delivered in formal speech or writing] authored by St. Gregory of Nyssa, her brother.

Saint Macrina the Younger was born about 330; died 379. She was the eldest child of Basil and Elder Emmelia, the granddaughter of St. Macrina the Elder, and the sister of the Cappadocian Fathers, Sts. Basil and Gregory of Nyssa.

St. Basil the Great (drawing by S. Thayer)
The last-mentioned has left us a biography of his sister in the form of a panegyric ("Vita Macrinae Junioris"). She received an excellent intellectual training, though one based more on the study of the Holy Bible than on that of profane literature. When she was but twelve years old, her father had already arranged a marriage for her with a young advocate of excellent family. Soon afterwards, however, her affianced husband died suddenly, and Macrina resolved to devote herself to a life of perpetual virginity and the pursuit of Christian perfection. She exercised great influence over the religious training of her younger brothers; especially St. Peter of Sebaste, afterwards Bishop of Sebaste, and through her St. Gregory received the greatest intellectual stimulation. On the death of their father, Basil took her, with their mother, to a family estate on the River Iris, in Pontus (part of modern day Turkey). Here, with their servants and other companions, they led a life of retirement, consecrating themselves to God. Strict asceticism, zealous meditation on the truths of Christianity, and prayer were the chief concerns of this community. Not only the brothers of St. Macrina but also St. Gregory of Nazianzus and Eustathius of Sebaste were associated with this pious circle and were there stimulated to make still further advances towards Christian perfection. After the death her mother Emmelia, Macrina became the head of this community, in which the fruit of the earnest Christian life matured so gloriously. On his return from a synod of Antioch, towards the end of 379, Gregory of Nyssa visited his deeply venerated sister, and found her grievously ill. In pious discourse the brother and sister spoke of the life beyond and of the meeting in heaven. Soon afterwards Macrina passed blissfully to her reward. Gregory composed a "Dialogue on the Soul and Resurrection" (peri psyches kai anastaseos), treating of his pious discourse with his dying sister. In this, Macrina appears as teacher, and treats of the soul, death, the resurrection, and the restoration of all things. Her feast day is celebrated in the Orthodox Churches on July 19th.


Now for something completely different...  well, not really!  I just want to show you another drawing of Calla lilies.  I think by now everyone knows how much I love the look of Calla lilies.  I keep drawing them and every so often I decide to delight you (burden you, maybe) with another example.  Here is one of my more recent drawings.

Calla lilies Zantedeschia (drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer)

I must have at least 10 more photos of Calla lilies that I want to use for models for drawing so prepare yourselves.  Sometime in the near future I should do an entire posting just of various drawings of Calla lilies!


Now let me show you some photos of swans I came across recently.  Like Calla lilies, they are so elegant with their long necks and quiet gliding -- sort of like Calla lilies in motion!

What a life!
How lovely that must be for the youngsters.  It is kind of like having your very own gondola.  You could pretend you were gliding along the canals of Venice!

Staying close to Mama!
 Here we have what appears to be a mother swan, known as a pen with a group of her young.  The young are generally called either cygnets or swanlings.  So, playing with the "game of venery", the accepted term for a group of adult swans is a "wedge of swans" which I do not find too appealing.  I do not know of any official terms for the youngsters so I have made up my own.  The young can either be a "clutch of cygnets" or a "surfeit of swanlings" (this would fit for most swan families as there are often between 6 or 8 swanlings).  If anyone out there cares about such things, please let me know what you think and what terms you would suggest.


At the moment, Suki is considering whether to crawl into her favourite sleeping place in the back of the closet or beg for some more food!  I, on the other hand, am feeling rather weary as I just finished a marriage preparation class with a very nice young couple.  I do enjoy giving these classes, but these days they do tire me out somewhat.

My sister with two of her grandchildren

My sister and her husband flew in for a visit this past Wednesday.  They live in Tennessee.  It was so wonderful to see them both again.  We had a good visit and now I miss them very much.  It is interesting how precious such visits are the older you get.  Our family was as dysfunctional as it gets, but I ended up with two wonderful sisters in spite of it all.  What a blessing they have been for me.  God is so good.

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Ascension.  I wish you all a holy and blessed feast day.

May the peace of God be with us all.