Thursday, 28 July 2011

'Siam Tulip' -- Curcuma alismatifolia 'Pink'

Curcuma alismatifolia 'Pink' 'Siam Tulip'

The Siam Tulip is not a tulip at all but a member of the ginger family!  To me, a lover of tulips, I really see very little resemblance; however, most flowers pick up nicknames over the years and this one has certainly stuck.  Below are a few facts about this lovely non-tulip!

WHAT’S IN A NAME: The genus name “Curcuma” comes from the Persian-Arabic word for “saffron,” which is “kurkum.”
FAMILY: Curcumas are members of the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family. Relatives include Alpinia purpurata (red ginger), Amomum (cardamon)and Hedychium (ginger-lily).
HOME SWEET HOME: These plants are native to Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Now, in an effort to keep from giving you a lot of details using botanical terminology, I will just show you a diagram of how this plant is constructed.  Remember, a bract is a modified leaf that arises from the stem at the point where the flower or flower cluster develops. Although often green and inconspicuous, bracts may sometimes be large and brightly coloured, as in a Siam Tulip.


Morphology of a flowering stem of Curcuma alismatifolia. The insert shows the small open flower.

The Curcuma genus has an estimated 1,000 species.


As usual, I could not resist playing with my funny software.  This time, however, I decided to see how this drawing would look if I applied the "oil paint" selection to it.  Below is the result.


Curcuma alismatifolia 'Pink' 'Siam Tulip' (Oil Paint software applied)

I feel that the oil paint software is not really that effective when applied to my drawings since the results, to me, don't look that different than the original.  I think this software really only works well on photographs.  I have used it previously on photos and found quite a difference in appearance.  Let me know if you disagree with my assessment.


_Mountain Scenes____________________________

While looking through some of my photo collections, I came across these mountain views.  I decided that with the warm weather we have been having that some lovely, cool-looking mountain scenes might be just what was needed to cool us off!  I hope you enjoy the following selections.


Obviously a Catholic village somewhere in the mountains of Europe


A beautiful morning/evening in the mountains with red poppies in the foreground


A cold, fast-flowing mountain stream well below the tree line


A beautiful evening/morning up on the rocky outcroppings


What a place for an outhouse!  Right next to a beautiful mountain waterfall.
I must comment on this final selection.  The house, with its outhouse, no longer appears to be in use and if that is the case, then the outhouse was probably placed there long before people had environmental concerns. Now, hopefully, people would know better than to place an outhouse close to any body of water!  Of course, what amazes me is the idea that whoever built the house would give the outhouse a better view than their home.  Plus, when the wind was blowing the wrong way, you would get sprayed quite a bit with the water just trying to make it to the outhouse!  In the cold weather this might be quite a deterrent.


__Personal____________________________

All is well at my house.  Well, I guess I should say that all is well with me!  Suki, at the moment, is rather unhappy because I just told her that in spite of her pitiful meows, she will have to wait until my bedtime before having her final meal of the day!

You know the old saying that "it never rains but it pours" -- well, not only will I be starting my visits with the chiropractor next week, but I will also be starting to work with a physiotherapist as well.  The amazing thing is that both services won't cost me anything as they are covered by OHIP.  The chiropractor is located at the hospital and the physiotherapist is part of a service that actually comes to apartment buildings housing a large number of seniors (such as the one in which I live).  I am hopeful that one or both of these disciplines will be able to help me get my neck and head in a more upright position as it does get very tiring trying to force my neck back so much of the time.  I will keep you informed as to progress.

This has also been a week of losses for me which is rather sad.  However, having to let people go is a given in our lives and by my age I should be getting used to it -- although it is never easy.  My long-time coffee buddy, Karen, is moving to Vancouver and my friend, Kristen, from the gym, is moving to London, Ontario.  Tomorrow is the day they both will be actually leaving.  I hope there won't be any more losses in the near future.

Below is a lovely photo I came across today.  It was right at the end of the photos labelled "mountains" and shows a field mouse drinking the dew from a leaf with a spider's web in the background.  It is such a lovely, gentle picture and sort of expresses delight with the curve of the mouse's tail in the early morning sunshine.  It makes me feel happy just looking at it even though I know that frightening things could be lurking just out of camera range. 




Wishing all my Ontario readers an enjoyable long weekend.
May the peace of God be with us all.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Seven Sorrows of Our Lady

Icon, Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows -- drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

The devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows and the Seven Sorrows of Mary goes back to apostolic times. St. John the Evangelist can be considered as one of the first devotees of the Mother of Sorrows. He witnessed first-hand and then recorded in his Gospel that Mary stood by the Cross of her Son (Jn 19:25). The Blessed Mother suffered with grief at seeing her Son, who is also her God, die an agonizing death by crucifixion at Calvary.

Icon, The Presentation in the Temple, drawn
by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2008


Simeon prophesied at the Presentation of the Jesus at the Temple, that Mary’s soul would be pierced by a sword so that the thoughts of many hearts would be revealed (Lk 2:35). Mary, as the first and greatest disciple of her Son, participated in a most deep and profound way in the redemptive work of Our Lord.

The Seven Sorrows had been honoured by the Church since the 14th century. These came to be known as the seven dolours (sorrows) of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The seven swords symbolize the seven sorrows of Our Lady’s life. Devotion to the Sorrows of Mary gave rise to the figure in Christian art of the Pietà, the sorrowing Mother holding the dead Body of her Son who has been taken down from the Cross. These are:



1. The Prophecy of Simeon
2. The Flight into Egypt
3. The Loss of the Holy Child at Jerusalem
4. Mary meets Jesus Carrying the Cross
5. Mary witnesses the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
6. Mary Receives the Dead Body of Her Son
7. The Burial of Her Son and Closing of the Tomb.

There is also a Rosary of seven decades instead of the usual five.  These seven sorrows are the subject for meditation on each of the seven decades.  Some religious communities use the seven-decade Rosary in place of the usual one.  As well, it has been reported that Our Lady of Kibeho, Rwanda requested that this seven-decade Rosary be prayed in reparation for the sins committed in that country.  [For more information on these apparitions, see my posting of March 11, 2011.]


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PLASTIC BAGSWhile I admit that plastic bags are bad for the environment and, hopefully, one day will be banned, I do recognize the reality that at the moment the world is not ready to give them up completely.  I will confess that I, too, continue to use plastic grocery bags, but only because the people in charge of composting in our building insist that all our food scraps, paper towels, etc. be put in a plastic bag before they are put down the appropriate garbage chute.  So, I follow the rules.  Eventually, I trust that they will find a way to get the composting material to the site without the use of plastic bags.

The reason I started talking about plastic bags is because I want to show you some very interesting photos of plastic bags that a friend sent to me this week, and I didn't want anyone getting upset and saying that I am helping to maintain the "plastic bag mentality" by showing unusual photos of plastic bags.  Enough said -- now for the photos.







                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               




As I said above, these are unusual bags created by clever marketing people.  Neither the bags nor the messages are really necessary, but as long as people still want to use plastic bags, I guess putting effective messages on them doesn't hurt. 

There were actually about 12 different examples of these types of plastic bags.  I ignored the ones depicting violence and sex and was left with these four!  The one bag that caught my attention immediately was the one about autism -- I have an autistic grand-nephew as I have mentioned previously and because of him, I have become much more aware of anything relating to this condition.

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I am very tired tonight for some reason and am becoming very aware that if I don't go to bed soon, I will be falling asleep here at the computer. 

There is nothing new to report concerning me or Suki -- we have both just been trying to make certain we stay cool.  Suki has been sleeping a lot more and I have been staying home a lot more enjoying the wonder of air conditioning!  I hope all of you are managing to stay cool as well wherever you are!

May the peace of God be with us all.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Angel's Trumpet and Butterfly

[new icon of St. John the Baptist at bottom of this posting]
Angel Trumpet, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Family: Solanaceae; Genus: Brugmansia.  I am unsure about the species as the flowers do not usually come in the lilac colour I have used -- shall we just call this choice of colours "artistic license"?  The colour which appears to be close to lilac is found in Brugmansia vulcanicola which grows in the Andes. All species of this flowering plant is commonly known as Angel's Trumpet in the English-speaking world and the traditional colours are white and yellow.  There are cultivars with such names as Mango Peach and Grand Marnier.
 
Angel's trumpet is a heat-loving tropical or subtropical shrub that likes warm (80 -85 degrees F) days and cool nights. Its fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers dangle from upright stems and appear in shades of white, yellow, pink, orange, and cream.

All parts of the plant are poisonous if eaten, and the plant has been banned in some communities. For more information on the various species of this plant as well as its use in the shamanic practices of the peoples of Amazon Basin, go to:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brugmansia

Now, as to the butterfly, I have no idea what kind of butterfly it is.  I find it extremely beautiful and, truthfully, I enjoyed the experience of drawing this image.  How our Creator can do such incredibly beautiful things in such small detail on the wings of a butterfly or moth (or any other creature) is something that has always amazed and delighted me.  If any of you know what type of butterfly this is, please do let me know.

As usual, I had to play with the image a bit and was impressed by the way it looked when I used the colour inversion software. 

Angel Trumpet with colour inversion, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

The use of "colour inversion" gives everything such a delicate look, I think.  I would be interested in hearing your comments on the use of inversion software with this image.

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I collected some aerial photos this past week of places I found interesting and now want to share them with you.



This first one is, as the label says, Dubrovnik, Croatia.  This is one of the places I have often thought I would like to see.  However, by the time I had the time to do it, I was far too disabled to do it.  So, instead of going, I just look at the photos of friends who have gone there and enjoy hearing their stories.



Here are some tulip fields that, as the heading says, are really in The Netherlands!  No more of those Washington State lookalikes for me!  What incredible patterns of colour they make.  I would be willing to bet that some artistic photographer has made a series of aerial photographs of the tulip fields, using the colours to create patterns and designs.  Maybe I will search and see.  If any of you know of such a production, please let me know.



This photo, as it says, is the military cemetery in Verdun, France.  I am sure it is only a portion of that cemetery and this is only one military cemetery out of the thousands around the world.  What a tragic statement about mankind -- us!  All those young lives cut short in their prime and still there is no peace.  As we have all heard many times, world peace begins in the heart of each one of us.  I pray for peace each day -- as I am sure many of you do -- and then try to radiate peace wherever I go.  As St. Francis said so beautifully, "Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace."

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Finally, I will tell you that Suki and I have done very little this week other than spend a lot of time indoors enjoying that wonderful invention called "air-conditioning".  Thank goodness for the discovery of air conditioning! I remember all too well what life was like without it.

I have gotten out to the gym most days although today I plan to stay home and take it easy.  I think that staying at home so much of the rest of the time left me forgetful about which day of the week it was.  When it suddenly dawned on me this morning that it was already the 21st of July, I quickly got on the computer to write this posting.  Sorry that I am a day late, but blame it on the weather!

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Here is today's additional offering:  a new icon of St. John the Baptist.  This is based on the style of icons in which everything is purposely elongated.  I used the sun as a halo to remind us that St. John the Baptist lived for a number of years in the Judean desert where, like in any desert, the sun seems to burn everything it touches during the day.  Then, at night, he would have needed all those camel skins to keep warm!  I chose to give St. John blue eyes as I wanted even his eyes to appear to have been burned by the desert sun.  I like to think about how living in the desert in solitude (prior to getting his followers) shaped his character, giving him the humility to say upon being asked about Jesus, "He must increase and I must decrease."


Icon, St. John the Baptist, drawn by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

St. John the Baptist, please pray with us for peace in the world -- and may that peace be with us all.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Holy Prophet Jeremiah

[New icon of The Holy Family at end of posting]
Holy Prophet Jeremiah, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

"If I say I will not mention him or speak any more in his name then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in and I cannot"(Jer 20:9). These words from the prophet, Jeremiah, himself sum up in a clear and dramatic way the struggle of Jeremiah whose life of devotion to the word of God seemed only to earn him the scorn and rejection of his contemporaries.

Jeremiah, the man
Yet it is precisely this personal struggle with his calling that makes him one of the most appealing of the prophets in the OT. More than any other we gain an insight into Jeremiah the man as we read through the oracles he proclaimed throughout his long career. Though he became known as the prophet of doom his preaching reveals a person of great compassion, courage and integrity. While he clearly foresaw the disaster that was coming upon Judah and Jerusalem because of its corrupt and weak leaders and was at times tempted to despair, his faith in the God of the covenant taught him to hope for a new and better future.
Jeremiah was born in the village of Anathoth, near Jerusalem around the year 650BC. At that time the dominant world power was Assyria. Politics and religion in his homeland had been dominated by the long reign of King Manasseh who had been keen not to offend his Assyrian masters. This meant that idolatry was the order of the day and that the temple in Jerusalem had fallen into decay. However things were to change quite dramatically when a new king came to the throne in Judah. His name was Josiah and his reign began in 639. He was determined to shake free from the shackles of Assyrian rule and he set about a sweeping religious reform aimed at restoring the temple in Jerusalem to its rightful place.

Beginning his ministry
During this work, a copy of what was probably an early edition of the book of Deuteronomy was found in the temple (2 Kings 22) and this provided a further impulse for the reforming zeal of the king. It is about this time that Jeremiah is said to have begun his preaching ministry. With Assyrian power in decline it seemed that there was a bright future for the small kingdom of Judah and those within it who were keen to be true to their religious traditions.
Sadly, however, this was not to be. King Josiah was killed in battle in 609. The Egyptians who had defeated him installed his son Jehoiakim as a puppet ruler. He shared none of his father's reforming zeal and things went quickly from bad to worse. On the political front the Babylonians and the Egyptians were struggling to fill the power vacuum left by the end of the Assyrian empire and the tiny kingdom of Judah was no more than a pawn in their game.
During this time Jeremiah roundly condemned the rulers who were about to bring catastrophe on the people. In particular he had hard words for Jehoiakim who tried to rebel against the Babylonians only to have them capture the city and send some of its people into exile in 598BC (Jer 22: 13-19). Such an uncompromising stance meant that Jeremiah had few friends among the ruling elite. The king had Jeremiah barred from the temple precinct and then ordered the burning of the scrolls which contained his words and which had been written down by his scribe Baruch (36: 1-32). Jehoiakim's failed rebellion led the Babylonians to put in a new king, Zedekiah, but he was weak and indecisive, refusing to listen to Jeremiah's advice and even having him put in prison.
After yet another failed rebellion the Babylonians under king Nebuchadnezzar came once again to Jerusalem and laid siege to it. This time on capturing the city they burned it and destroyed the temple (587BC). All the leading citizens and craftsmen were taken into exile in Babylon. For his part Jeremiah was taken away to Egypt against his will where he died, murdered, according to one tradition, by his own people. Jeremiah's influence was greater after his death than before. Thanks to the work of Baruch and others, copies of his sayings were read among the exiles and he clearly had an impact upon people like Ezekiel and the writer of the prophecies contained in Isaiah 40-55. It is believed that the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah as it now stands came into being sometime after the exile.

The message of Jeremiah
It is clear from the outset that Jeremiah's sensitive nature was going to impact very strongly on his life as a prophet. His calling as described at the beginning of the book shows a young man who is reluctant to take on the task he is being offered. "Lord I am only a youth" is the plea he makes but to no avail as the Lord insists that he proclaim a message of repentance, warning about the danger from the north i.e. the invading Babylonian armies. Even though his message is often a harsh one it is spoken in language of great feeling and compassion. He understands in a very heartfelt way that Israel's true identity lies in restoring its covenant relationship with her God.
"I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown; but my people have changed their glory for something that does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me the fountain of living water, and dug out for themselves cisterns, cracked cisterns that hold no water(2:2, 12-13).  [Taken from a Divine Word Missionary Publication, December, 2003]

My appreciation of the Prophet Jeremiah did not really begin to develop until the firs time I actually sat down and read the entire book along with a good commentary.  Here are a few of the amazing things I discovered about this holy man.
A Type of the One who was to come:  Jeremiah never married in accordance with God’s command: “You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place” (Jer. 16:2). Disgraced by his brethren, Jeremiah led a solitary life, having neither wife nor children. This loneliness was a heavy burden for him. However, he occasionally enjoyed the support of friends who stood up for him. In all this he is a type of the One who was to come later - the humble, solitary Man who was rejected by His brethren in spite of all the grace he displayed.

Another Biblical Teaching about the sanctity of Life from the moment of conception:  To Jeremiah the Lord revealed, “Before you were born I sanctified you.” Like the apostle Paul, Jeremiah was set apart from his mother’s womb (see Gal. 1:4, Acts 9:15; 22:14). Then God spoke further to him, “I ordained you a prophet to the nations,” and finally “I shall send you.”

Powerful words that I identify with from my own spiritual journey: "You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself be seduced; you have overpowered me: you were the stronger. I am a laughing-stock; all day long they all make fun of me.  8 For whenever I speak, I have to cry and proclaim, 'Violence and ruin!' For me, your word has been the cause of insult and derision all day long.  9 I would say to myself, 'I will not think about him, I will not speak in his name any more,' but then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones. The effort to restrain it wearied me, I could not do it.  10 I heard so many disparaging me, 'Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!' All those around me watched for my downfall, 'Perhaps he will be tricked into error. Then we shall get the better of him and take our revenge!'  11 But God is at my side like a mighty hero; my opponents will stumble, vanquished, confounded by their failure; everlasting, unforgettable disgrace will be theirs."  [Jeremiah 20: 7-11]

I have, of course, experienced nothing like the persecution that the Prophet Jeremiah did; however, I have identified at times with the his cry in verse 7:  "You have seduced me, Lord, and I have allowed myself to be seduced.  You overpowered me; you were the stronger."  In my opinion, our journey with God during this time we are given here on earth is never dull or lacking in adventure.  Even when we "walk through the valley of the dark shadows", we find that even there He is with us and the struggle, if accepted with faith, only makes us love Him more.

Holy Prophet Jeremiah, pray for us.

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My friend, Hylott, sent me a pps this week filled with beautiful photos of the flowers of the Dahlia plant.  I know that pictures of flowers are not as interesting as cute puppies and kittens; however, these four photos I want to show you now are truly impressive. 














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Well, here it is, a lazy Saturday morning.  The sun is shining and it is supposed to get quite warm today.  In fact, Toronto along with most of the rest of Canada and most of the U.S. may be having record temperatures this weekend, I hear. 

Suki, for one, is not worried about this!  She leads a privileged life which means she can spend all day sleeping in a lovely, cool home -- thanks to central AC.  She doesn't even realize that there is always a risk of "brownouts" at times like this.  She just moved slightly in her sleep so, perhaps, she knows somehow that I am saying things about her!

I, on the other hand, need to go to the grocery store -- something I dislike doing on a Saturday -- because they were out of one item yesterday which I really like to include in my diet.  I was promised that said item would be back in stock today.  So, off I go to see if they kept their promise.  Then, a bit later, I want to go to the gym for at least an hour.

I realized yesterday as I was about to reach the 55 minute mark on my recumbent bike that I really like going to the gym.  It just feels so good when you finish!  Those endorphins really are addictive, I guess.  I remember when I first started going to the gym back in 2009, I was sure that it would never feel like anything but torture!  Now, I look forward to it.  Part of what changed the way I feel about exercise was the discovery that I can pray while I go through all those repetitions.  The Rosary is perfect for this kind of activity as well as chaplets such as those to the Sacred Heart, etc.  By the time I finish, not only does my body feel good and tired, but my spirit is also lifted up!  If you would like more information on how I do this, just let me know.

So, it is time for me to head for the grocery store.  I hope you enjoyed the icon of Jeremiah with its story.  Now, as noted at the beginning, here is another icon of The Holy Family.  Let  me know what you think of it.


Icon, The Holy Family, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

May the peace of God be with us all.
Holy Family, pray for us.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

"Strawflowers"

[*see a new icon of Our Lady at the bottom of this posting]


"Strawflowers" Bracteantha (Xerochrysum) bracteata, drawing by S. Thayer
 I love the look of these particular "Strawflowers" -- sort of like great big sunbursts growing in the garden.  The other colours don't attract me as much although I have seen the various shades used in dried flower arrangements which were quite spectacular.  At any rate, I was attracted to the drawing of these flowers by the colours found in this variety.  By the way, the reason I keep putting "Strawflowers" in quote marks is that there are other flowers which are called Strawflowers.  They are of the same family, but of a different genus and have a very different appearance.  Anyway, let me tell you about Bracteantha (Xerochrysum) bracteata!

Strawflower (also known botanically as Bracteantha bracteata) is a large annual or short-lived perennial from Australia. From late spring until autumn it produces unique daisy-like blooms with papery white, yellow, orange, red, maroon, or pink petal-like bracts and a yellow central disk. The blooms open slowly from fat colorful buds. The erect stems are furnished with narrow gray-green leaves. Numerous cultivars – including dwarf, double, and large-flowered forms -- are available.  The seeds are sold under such names as Sundaze and Golden Beauty.  The family, Asteraceae, are herbs, shrubs, or less commonly trees and are arguably the largest family of flowering plants, comprising about 1,100 genera and 20,000 species. These include everything from goldenrod to artichoke flowers!

Native to Australia, they occur naturally in all mainland states and territories as well as Tasmania. Widespread, they are found from north Queensland across to Western Australia, and in all habitats except for densely shaded areas. They grow as an annual in patches of red sand in Central Australia, responding rapidly to complete its life cycle to bouts of rainfall. They are also common among granite outcrops in southwest Western Australia.

Dried “strawflowers” are long lasting—up to some years—and are used in floral arrangements and the cut flower industry. More robust longer stemmed forms are used for commercial cut flowers.

Of course, I couldn't resist playing with the drawing and here is what it looks like with an inversion of colours:


"Strawflowers" -- colour inversion, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

 Here is another flower I want to show you which is not related in any way to Strawflowers.  It just happens to be another version of a Calla Lily.  By now, everyone must know how I feel about Calla Lilies.  I am so attracted to them that I just continue to do drawings and sketches of them frequently.  Here is a recent sketch looking into the depths of a single blossom.

Calla Lily "Infinity", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
I wanted to make the viewer feel that they were looking into some sort of sunlight that leads somewhere beyond brightness itself.  I am not sure that such a goal is possible in a computer drawing!  Or maybe the computer is the only place where such a drawing might be possible.
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I don't know about your location, but it has been very hot and humid in mine!  So, as I was thinking about what kind of extra photos to include in this particular posting, I decided that northern lights in cold weather locations would be pleasant to look at during such hot weather.  So here is a selection of 5 from my collection. 

As I have mentioned previously, everyone really needs to experience the northern lights for themselves.  There is something very primal about the experience.  I find that actually being under a sky filled with these incredible colours and rapidly moving lights often makes people "believe" in God for at least that period of time.  Even if they don't want to, something deep inside responds to this marvel of nature and lifts their hearts to think of such things as angels and eternity.

Northern Light illuminate a lighthouse


Northern Lights with reflections



Northern Lights with dog sleds and snow


Northern Lights near hot springs


Northern Lights and a tepee community

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As usual, Suki is sound asleep nearby as I am writing this.  She is almost like a dog at times in that she wants to be near me when I am seated in one place for a while.  Each of the places where I normally remain for longer periods of time has a designated "Suki-sleeping-spot".  The only time she disappears from view if when she senses that I am going to be spending a long time at my computer desk.  It is during such times that she opens the door to the bedroom closet (near my computer desk) and finds her way to the back of the closet where her box of old clothes is waiting.  Here, I think, she has the best sleep of the day as she must feel very safe.  After an hour or so, however, she will start meowing until she sees me and then I need to stop and spend a few minutes with her before she is willing to go back to sleep again!  I have never known a cat previously who behaved this way.

I, on the other hand, had a number of errands to do this morning.  I went out and got them done early so that I don't have to be out now in the heat of the day.  I may go across the street to the gym later, but that is a decision I will make by 1 p.m.  Otherwise, I am free to do such things as post on my blog and work on new drawings.  Ah, the joys of retirement...! 

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Here is another Eleusa-type icon of Our Lady and her precious Child.  I simply cannot resist continuing to do drawings of the Theotokos.  She always directs my attention to her son, Jesus.


Madre de Dios, icon, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer


Pray for us Holy Mother.


May the peace of God be with us all.  

Friday, 8 July 2011

The Burning Bush [*]

[*see a new icon of Our Lady at the bottom of this posting]

Most Holy Moses and the Burning Bush, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
One of the most wonderful stories from the Old Testament (the Jewish Scriptures) is that which tells us of the encounter of Moses with a burning bush from which God speaks His eternal Name.  He does this as He gives Moses the mission of bringing the Jewish people out of Egypt back to the land of their ancestors.  This is how the story begins in the Book of Exodus (3:1ff):

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked and the bush was blazing, yet is was not consumed.  Then Moses said: "I must turn aside and look at this great sight and see why the bush is not burned up."  When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!"  And he said, "Here I am."  Then God said, "Come no closer!  Remove the sandals from your feet for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."  He said further, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob."  And Moses hid his face for he was afraid to look at God.

God then gives Moses his commission.  He is to go to Egypt, convince the Pharaoh to let the thousands of Israelite slaves just up and leave and then lead this crowd from Egypt up to the land of their ancestors!  Moses, like anyone of us, was overwhelmed by this mission and tried to find ways to get out of it -- trying to get God to choose someone else!

Here is what we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"I Am who I Am"
Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you', and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you'. . . this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations."
In revealing his mysterious name, YHWH ("I AM HE WHO IS", "I AM WHO AM" or "I AM WHO I AM"), God says who he is and by what name he is to be called. This divine name is mysterious just as God is mystery. It is at once a name revealed and something like the refusal of a name, and hence it better expresses God as what he is - infinitely above everything that we can understand or say: he is the "hidden God", his name is ineffable, and he is the God who makes himself close to men.

By revealing his name God at the same time reveals his faithfulness which is from everlasting to everlasting, valid for the past ("I am the God of your father"), as for the future ("I will be with you").  God, who reveals his name as "I AM", reveals himself as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them.
Faced with God's fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God's holiness. Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: "Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips." Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord."  But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: "I will not execute my fierce anger. . . for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst." The apostle John says likewise: "We shall. . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything."
Out of respect for the holiness of God, the people of Israel do not pronounce his name. In the reading of Sacred Scripture, the revealed name (YHWH) is replaced by the divine title "LORD" (in Hebrew Adonai, in Greek Kyrios). It is under this title that the divinity of Jesus will be acclaimed: "Jesus is LORD."

In the icon above, we see Moses in the act of removing his sandals after God has told him to remove them because he is standing on holy ground.  Hidden within the burning bush I have drawn is the holy Name of God -- the name the Jewish people do not even pronounce.  I decided to hide it rather than show it because I realized that this name should be treated with deep respect.  In fact, one of the reasons I have never liked The Jerusalem Bible translation is that the editors wrote out what they thought the name of God actually is (taking YHWH and putting vowels in) so that when people read from that translation, they are actually trying to pronounce the holy name.  I agree with the Jewish people that the actual name is better left alone, especially since there are plenty of names for God for us to use.  We especially have the "I AM" phrase to use in trying to understand something of the mystery of God.

the name of God.  I always use the Greek letters "o, v, h" inside the arms and top of the cross which is inserted inside the circular "halo".  If you want to take a look at what I mean, go to the bottom of this posting where you will see a new drawing of Our Lady with her holy Child.  Although the letters are not that easy to see, you can make them out.  The one that looks like a "w" with something on top is actually a Greek "v" while the one that looks like an English "n" with a long tail on one side is actually a Greek "h".  These three letters are the Greek abbreviation for I AM who I AM.

If you search "Moses and the burning bush" on the web, you will find all sorts of strange ideas and comments.  A number of modern scholars do a great deal of work trying to prove that there actually was never a burning bush at all -- the word used, they say, was most like a misprint!  These scholars do with Moses and the burning bush just what they tried to do with Moses and the Red Sea, i.e. there was a misprint and the writer meant to say "Sea of Reeds" and what really happened was that a strong wind blew the reeds apart and dried the earth just enough for the Israelites to cross over while the earth was not dry enough for the chariots of the Egyptians!  I do not understand why it is so difficult for some people to accept the idea that God can do miracles -- even amazing miracles!  I mean, He is God after all!!

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Well, enough of that.  Perhaps I will get some comments about what I have presented above, but for the mean time, let's go ahead and move on to something else -- cats.

I have so many cute photos of cats and dogs so I decided that today I would show a few cute cat photos and next time show a few cute dog photos.  My "catalogue" of photos just keeps growing and over time I start to forget which ones I have shown you and which ones I haven't.  So, if I show you something I have shown you previously, try to be patient and remember that I am an old lady after all!

Cat on a towel rack
This first photo shows a cat resting on a towel rack.  How the cat can be comfortable on a towel rack is beyond me.  However, knowing cats as I do, I should know better than to be surprised by anything they do!  I recall that miz k.d., my previous cat, liked to sit in my dining chairs which have mid to low backs on them and hang her front legs over the chair back so that they were fully extended.  She would often sit this way for long periods of time.  I can only assume that she was meditating and found this to be a good posture for the practice!


Here is an old photo of miz k.d. sitting in the position I described above only this time she is using the arm of an upholstered, living room chair.  As you can see, she appears quite comfortable in what I would consider to be a very uncomfortable position!









Cat in a sack
Every cat person knows how some cats love to play with paper bags.  I remember years ago while I was still living in the U.S., the cat I lived with then was a big, black tomcat by the name of Furfur.  As many of you know, the grocery stores in the U.S. tended to use only paper bags for a much longer time than was done in Canada.  So, every weekly shopping day, Furfur would be waiting by the door as we came home -- waiting impatiently for us to throw the first paper bag on the floor.  Then he became "attack cat" and set about destroying the "enemy" (all the paper shopping bags).  I, of course, was left to clean up as Furfur licked his fur and prepared for the rest after battle!



Cat in a hat
 Where is Dr. Seuss when you need him?!

"Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me NOW!
It is fun to have fun
But you have to know how."
— Dr. Seuss (The Cat in the Hat (Deluxe Edition)

Some photos need no further comments!


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Suki and I continue to carry on in our usual way.  There is nothing new to report.  At the moment Suki is in the closet sound asleep. 

I, on the other hand, have just returned from doing some errands and enjoying the beautiful day.  One errand was more than a couple of blocks distant so I had to use my wheelchair.  Although the streets were crowded with lunch time shoppers, there were only a few times when I was stopped by people standing and talking in the middle of the sidewalk.  In most cases a simple "excuse me" was sufficient to get them to open a passageway for me and my chair.  Actually, the worst offenders are people walking and texting at the same time.  They appear to be oblivious to their surroundings and, as well, they wander back and forth across the sidewalk.  Often they have their ear buds in their ears so they can't even hear me when I shout "excuse me" very loudly.  Often, some other pedestrian has to tap their shoulder before they finally move out of the way.  However, I had none of those offenders today.  So I most had a very pleasant ride and, of course, the sunshine was glorious!
Finally today, I want to show you one of my recent icons.  To me the most beautiful icons are those of Our Lady -- which is why I have drawn so many of them and will continue to draw many more.  This one was of particular interest to me because of Our Lady's hair.  I have never before, not in all my years of looking at and attempting to draw icons, seen an icon in which Our Lady's hair is shown.  As you can see, her curls are showing in this one just as they were in the Russian icon I worked from while doing this drawing.  I don't know what the real name of this icon would be in English so I just called it "Our Lady of the Curls".



Icon, Our Lady of the Curls, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011


May the peace of God and the prayers of our Blessed Mother be with us all.


Monday, 4 July 2011

Wishbone Flower

Wishbone Flowers drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, Torenia fournieri, [original drawing]

Wishbone Flowers drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, Solarization effect


• Member of the Scrophulariaceae (figwort) family.
• Common family members include Calceolaria, Digitalis, Pensetmon and Nemesia.
• Native to mostly Asia and Africa with some species naturalized in North America.
Named for Olaf Toren, a Swedish clergyman who discovered Torenia asiatica while traveling in China in 1750
Torenia (Torenia fournieri) is a low growing flowering annual plant. It is also known as bluewings or wishbone flower. Torenia is related to snapdragons and foxglove. This resemblance can be seen in the shape of the flower. While blue is a common color for Torenia, the velvety flowers are often white on the bottom with a color such as pink or purple on the upper parts. There are also sometimes yellow spots on flower petals. The stamen inside the flower looks like a wishbone to some.

I find this a most interesting flower to see and to draw.  Maybe it is because I always wanted the wishbone when we had fried chicken for Sunday dinner.  Being the youngest, I was often allowed to eat the delicious meat on that small piece of chicken.  I would eat it as quickly as possible just so that I could then ask one of my family members to pull the wishbone with me.  I was always very excited when I got the winning piece of the bone even though I don't recall any of my wishes coming true!  Even after all these years and even with the knowledge that I rarely ever eat meat anymore, I still feel hungry just thinking about the dainty wishbone that my mother had carefully cut off the chicken breast.  Maybe that was why I always felt hungry while drawing this particular plant!


Wishbone Flowers (Colour Inversion) drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

And, of course, I could not resist playing with the drawing after it was finished.  The image above is what resulted when I tried "colour inversion".  While interesting, it is not really very pretty in my opinion.  It looks to me like a plant you would find in someones borderline nightmare -- you know, not really a nightmare, but just on the borderline.  What do you think about it?

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For some reason, I felt like showing you some photos of sunsets.  I think it may be because my friend, Amra, sent me a very unusual photo of a sunset at the North Pole.  Then a few days later, my friend, Jay, sent me a photo of a sunset on a lake in the southern U.S.  This was all the prompting I needed to decide to share  these photos and two other sunset photos with you.


Sunset at Clark Hill Dam (Georgia?) by Jay Thaxton




Summertime, the sun setting, two people fishing in the cool of the late afternoon -- sounds nice, doesn't it.  I believe this lake is in Georgia and I also believe that the people in the boat may be bass fishing as it looks to me like the kind of boat and setup people use for that activity.  Whatever is going on, Jay certainly captured a special moment.


Summer Sunset
I am uncertain as to where this photo was taken, but I believe it is in the American mid-west.  Of course, it could also be the Canadian mid-west so we will have to settle for North America.  How lush the fields look while the red sky at night would seem to indicate that the next day will be hot and dry.  The natural world around us is so incredible.  How sad it is to consider the way we have treated it and continue to treat it!



Western Sunset
This western sunset is so typical of the many, many sunsets I witnessed while living in New Mexico all those years ago.  The sky would be beautiful, wonderfully so, but if you blinked your eyes too many times, you could miss it entirely.  Western sunsets, from my experience, never lasted more than a minute or two.  So quickly the sky would go from glorious colour to shades and gray and black.



Sunset at the North Pole
Isn't this an incredible photo?

My friend, Amra, sent it to me as I mentioned previously.  I have no idea where she got it from, but I am so glad she shared it.  I would love to see something like this for real, but I don't think I would be willing to travel to the North Pole to do so.  What amazing things exist in our world and unless someone points them out to us, we miss the majority of them.  I often recall a passage I read in Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (one of my favourite books).  At this point in the book she is writing as spring turns into summer and she is marvelling at the abundance of creation -- how the system God originally set into motion produces so much more than is needed.  She comments that this holy extravagance can be seen throughout all of creation.  I think it can also be seen in the way we are loved by God.  Do you get what I mean?

Anyway, these are all my sunsets for this posting.  I have more photos of sunsets and sunrises that I have collected so you are certain to see more such photos in the future.

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As for me, I saw the "chief" chiropractor at the hospital today and he did his assessment and laid out a plan of action for me.  I feel hopeful that what he has described might lead to quite a bit of improvement in my neck and back.  I will keep you informed as I undertake treatment.  The only drawback is that he is going to be away for the month of July so I won't really get started until August!

Suki, meanwhile, is being her usual, lovable self! 

I apologize for being a couple of days late with this posting; however, I thought it would be nice to post it on July 4th.  All my family and friends in the U.S. are celebrating today and many of them have sent me emails wishing me a happy 4th of July.  I have been writing back to remind them that our special day in Canada is July 1st.  Not only is our celebration before the one in the U.S. but Canada is also a bit younger than the States.  Slowly I am educating them about this wonderful country of Canada!

So, with best wishes to all my family and friends in the U.S.A., I will end today's posting with the above art photo.

May the peace of God be with us all, Canadians and Americans.