Sunday, 28 August 2011

Paeonia cambessedessii -- Majorcan peony

[See new drawing of Our Lady at the bottom of post.]

Paeonia cambessedessii, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Paeonia cambessedessii is a peony native to the Balearic Islands of the Mediterranean, principally Majorca. Its preferred habitats are rocky cliffs and exposed sites. It is rare in the wild. It grows to 45cm in height and produces deep rose-red flowers on reddish stems. The leaves have pronounced purple veins. In 1979 the plant was described a vulnerable in the IUCN Plant Red Data Book, being depleted through grazing by goats and intensive land development and confined to mountains in the north-west of the island.  Its common name is Majorcan peony.  Paeonia cambessedessii belongs to the family, Paeoniaceae.

I find this to be a fascinating flower mainly because of its beautiful leaves!  The pattern is different on each leaf.  Each design, etched in purple, I find to be a wonderful work of art. 

I hope I have given you just an indication of this plant's beauty in the drawing above.  The flowers in the wild can grow large -- up to 4 inches across -- and can vary in shades from rose-pink to mauve with prominent yellow stamens.

Paeonia cambessedessii (with hue correction), drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
As usual, I could not resist playing with the drawing using my strange and wonderful software.  This selection is called "hue correction".  I realize that this option is to be used for correcting hue problems in photographs, but you must admit, it does wonderful things even with hues that don't need correcting -- changing the colours entirely into a new creation.

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St. Augustine

The 28th of August, by the way, is the Feast of St. Augustine.  We did not get to celebrate it this year because Sunday fell on the same day -- and Sundays, each being a "little Easter", always take precedence.

St. Augustine, ora pro nobis.

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The Story of the Park Ranger and the Bear: 

Our story begins as the Park Ranger gets set to release a bear back into the forest.  The bear had been captured humanely, then, while sedated, he had been weighed, tagged and given a electronic collar so that his future movements could be monitored.  Now, the truck has been parked and the Ranger is all set for the tricky business of releasing the bear.  Usually, this is a very simple process as the animal being released gladly flees directly into the thickest underbrush it can find.  However, on this occasion, things happened just a bit differently...


The bear, wearing its new electronic collar, is released by the Park Ranger from the bear cage

The bear, however, instead of just running off decides to express his displeasure about the whole situation!

When growling out his displeasure doesn't satisfy the bear, he decides to go after the Park Ranger instead

However, the weight of the bear toppled the cage throwing both the Park Ranger and bear on the ground

At this point the frightened bear ran off and the frightened Park Ranger escaped

So ends the latest saga of our friendly Park Ranger.  The bear ended up back in the forest where he belongs.  The Ranger had a few puncture wounds in his leg from the bear's claws when the bear grabbed his leg just prior to the cage toppling.  Fortunately, our friendly Park Ranger had kept his Tetanus shots up to date.  So all is well that ends well.
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Editor's note:  this story is a complete fabrication based entirely on the above photos coupled with my fertile imagination.  I received the pictures in an email from a friend without any real explanation.  I could not resist weaving them into a brief little photo essay! 

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Suki and Sallie

Suki has set a new record, I am sure, for losing the most cat hair in a single 24-hour period!  I have used 3 Swiffer cloths on the kitchen and bathroom (her two favourite places) floors this morning and I really need to use another one while she is sleeping.  I have seriously been wondering whether I would be charged with animal cruelty if I had her shaved.  What do you think? 

I, on the other hand, am not losing any hair -- at the moment.  Occasionally I feel like pulling some out, but that is another story.  Actually, I am getting better and taking each day at a time, I have so far managed to go slightly over a week without another fall.  I am very grateful about this and hopeful that I have learned enough from this last fall that I will be able, with the help of my guardian angel, to continue to be "fall-free".  Please keep me in your prayers.

I was not able to make it to Mass again today as I am still so terrible looking and sore that I think I would frighten all the little children who attend.  Thankfully, two of the Eucharistic Ministers from the parish are going to be bring me Holy Communion about noon.  I am so grateful to them and waiting for our Lord's arrival with much happiness.

And, so, I shall go and begin to prepare myself for my rendezvous!
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Our Lady

Here, as promised at the beginning of this posting, is the new drawing of Our Lady and her precious Son.

"Icon that is not an icon!", drawing of Our Lady and Child by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer
Every so often I just cannot resist doing a drawing of one of those sweet "mother and child" images of Our Lady.  Although I treat it as an icon when I am drawing, I know full well that it is just a sweet picture.

May the peace of God be with us all.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

St. Cecilia of Rome, Martyr


Icon, St. Cecilia of Rome, Martyr, drawn by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

ST CECILIA, VIRGIN, MARTYR, PATRONESS OF CHURCH MUSIC--A.D. 230, Feast: Nov. 22

The name of St. Cecilia has always been most illustrious in the church, and ever since the primitive ages is mentioned with distinction in the canon of the mass, and in the sacramentaries and calendars of the church. Her spouse Valerian, Tiburtius, and Maximus, (an officer sent to guard them who was also converted) who were her companions in martyrdom, are also mentioned in the same authentic and venerable writings.

St. Cecilia was a native of Rome, of a good family, and educated in the principles and perfect practice of the Christian religion. In her youth she by vow consecrated her virginity to God, yet was compelled by her parents to marry a nobleman named Valerian. Cecilia converted her new husband to the faith on their wedding night!

The account from the Martyrology of one of the results of the conversion and baptism of Cecilia's husband by the bishop are as follows:

[Returning from the time spent with Bishop Urban] Valerian found Cecilia at prayer, and beheld a most radiant angel of ineffable beauty standing beside her. The angel held in his hand two garlands made of flowers of all colours, from which came a fragrance surpassing description. He placed one garland on the maiden’s head, the other on Valerian’s, and said, "Guard these wreaths by keeping your hearts pure and your bodies undefiled. I have brought them to you from God’s paradise. They never wither, nor do they lose their fragrance, and no one can see them save those who, like you, are lovers of chastity. It is because you have agreed to guard your purity that God has sent me to you, Valerian.

This explains why I chose to place a garland of flowers on Cecilia's head.

Soon after they gained the conversion of his brother Tiburtius. The men first suffered martyrdom, being beheaded for the faith. St. Cecilia finished her glorious triumph some days after them.

At that time, the officials attempted to kill her by smothering her by steam. However, the attempt failed, and she was to have her head chopped off. But they were unsuccessful three times, and she would not die until she received the sacrament of Holy Communion. You will notice that I put three slash marks on the neck of St. Cecilia to remind us of how she died.

Cecilia survived another three days before succumbing. In the last three days of her life, she opened her eyes, gazed at her family and friends who crowded around her cell, closed them, and never opened them again. The people by her cell knew immediately that she was to become a saint in heaven. When her incorruptible body was found long after her death, it was found that on one hand she had three fingers outstretched and on the other hand just one finger, denoting her belief in the Trinity -- three Persons in one God.

Cecilia's musical fame rests on a passing notice in her legend that while they were attempt to decapitate her, she continued to praise God, singing to Him, as she lay dying a martyr's death. She is frequently depicted playing an organ, harp or other musical instrument. Musical societies and conservatories frequently have been named for St. Cecilia. Her feast day has become, over the centuries, an occasion for musical concerts and festivals.

St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.

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WHY BOYS REQUIRE CONSTANT PARENTAL SUPERVISION!

Following are four photos I came across this week that quite adequately show that boys truly do need to have constant parental supervision -- or else who knows what on earth they will take it into their little boy brains to try next.  They are still too young to have learned the difference between courage and foolhardiness!  Take a look and you will see what I mean.



"My, what big teeth you have, grandmother" ... "All the better to eat you with, my dear!"
 
"I double-dog dare you!"


Uh-oh!  This isn't working like I thought it would!



Live and learn...

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SUKI AND SALLIE
Suki is doing just fine.  She continues to eat all she wants of exactly the food she likes and after that she goes and sleeps for as as long as she wants in her favourite sleeping spot.  Yes, indeed, she is doing just fine.  Here is a recent photo taken of Suki as she was "saying her prayers".  She does this by sleeping in front of the icons.  I think she feels that just being near the icons is sufficient!  What a crazy cat.


Suki resting under a matched set of icons
I kept trying to distract her before I pressed the button on the camera so that she would not be looking directly into the camera which leads to the problem of "glassy eyes".  However, she insisted on looking directly where I did not want her to look!  Oh, well, at least you can see how much she has "filled out"!
Now, as for me, I am not doing too well.  I have had another fall.  This time I fell forwards rather than backwards.  I was laughing yesterday and saying that perhaps I am instinctively trying to push my neck vertebrae back into place by using what one might call the "Fred Flintstone Method"!  First do the damage by falling backwards; next repair the damage by falling forwards!  Guess what, it did not work -- maybe it would have worked for Fred and Barney, but not for me!

Surprisingly, considering how bad a fall I actually had this past Saturday, I am actually feeling pretty good.  I look terrible as my face is all black and blue and purple and yellow and green!  I look as though I am wearing a mask.  As you can imagine, this, means that I have not wanted to venture out much since I do not want to frighten children and babies!  This, too, shall pass.  As I have mentioned so many times previously, the wonderful quote by Julian of Norwich always brings me back to a place of acceptance of what is.  Remember?  She said:  "All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well."  And so it shall.
May the peace of God be with us all.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Hoya carnosa -- the Wax Plant

Hoya carnosa -- the Wax Plant, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Hoya carnosa, the wax plant, is a species in the family Asclepiadaceae, the Milkweed family. It is one of 100 species of Hoya that are native to Eastern Asia and Australia. It can serve as a minor foliage crop but is mainly grown as a garden plant or house plant.

The flowers are light pink, star-shaped, and they put off a strong smelling waxy viscous material. They are sweetly scented and produce abundant nectar.

Hoya is a genus of 200-300 species of tropical climbing plants in the family Apocynaceae (Dogbane), native to southern Asia (India east to southern China and southward), Australia, and Polynesia. Common names for this genus are waxplant, waxvine, waxflower or simply hoya. This genus was named by botanist Robert Brown, in honour of his friend, botanist Thomas Hoy.



Hoya carnosa -- the Wax Plant with solarization effect, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

 Of course, I could not resist playing with the image.  I found the result of  "solarizing"  the image to be very interesting, especially the colour of the flowers.  When I saved this version to My Pictures I noticed that the item just next to it was "Hubble -- a photograph from space". 

As you can see below, the "colours" and "dust shapes" given to the photograph by the editors bear an interesting resemblance to the colours and shapes of the flowers of the Hoya Plant, solarization version.

Hubble Telescope Photograph
 I always enjoy such comparisons and thought you might enjoy this one as well.


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PETS AND CHILDREN

Here are a few of the many photos I have collected of the interactions (mainly sleeping) between young children and the family pet.  Enjoy.









This is all for tonight as I am not feeling all that great.  I will write more about how I am doing in the next posting.

May the peace of God be with us all.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Feast of the Assumption

Icon, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2008

Both icons shown in this posting are older ones that were posted previously.  The Assumption was posted in November, 2008 while The Dormition was posted in January, 2009.  This was back when I was completing the icons of the mysteries of the Rosary for my first book "Rosary Icons" still available through Blurb.  At any rate, since today's posting fell on the Feast of the Assumption, I chose to use these two icons again.  Hope you don't mind!  Now for a little information on them both.
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life is a defined dogma of the Catholic Church. The Feast of the Assumption, celebrated every year on August 15, is a very old feast of the Church, celebrated universally by the sixth century. It commemorates the death of Mary and her bodily assumption into Heaven, before her body could begin to decay -- a foretaste of our own bodily resurrection at the end of time. Because it signifies the Blessed Virgin's passing into eternal life, it is the most important of all Marian feasts.


Icon, Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009

The feast was first celebrated in the East, where it is known as the Feast of the Dormition, a word which means "the falling asleep." The earliest printed reference to the belief that Mary's body was assumed into Heaven dates from the fourth century, in a document entitled "The Falling Asleep of the Holy Mother of God." The document recounts, in the words of the Apostle John, to whom Christ on the Cross had entrusted the care of His mother, the death, laying in the tomb, and assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Tradition places Mary's death at Jerusalem or at Ephesus where John was living.

However, the earliest traditions all locate the end of Mary's life in Jerusalem. By the 7th century a variation emerged, according to which one of the apostles, often identified as St Thomas, was not present at the death of Mary, but his late arrival precipitates a reopening of Mary's tomb, which is found to be empty except for her grave clothes while the place where she had lain was filled with beautiful flowers.

The Assumption is important to many Catholic (both Latin and Eastern Rite) and Orthodox Christians as the Virgin Mary's heavenly birthday (the day that Mary was received into Heaven). Her acceptance into the glory of Heaven is seen by them as the symbol of the promise made by Jesus to all enduring Christians that they too will be received into paradise.

In his August 15, 2004, homily given at Lourdes, Pope John Paul II quoted John 14:3 as one of the scriptural bases for understanding the dogma of the Assumption of Mary. In this verse, Jesus tells his disciples at the Last Supper, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also." According to Catholic theology, Mary is the pledge of the fulfillment of Christ's promise.

To see more details combined with a lot of conjecture and speculation go to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assumption_of_Mary#cite_note-0#cite_note-0

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CATS AND KITTENS

Now let me show you a few more of my huge collection of cat and dog photos.  I keep telling myself that I will not add anymore pictures to this folder unless I see something that is really spectacular.  However, I see a new photo and it is just so cute or sweet or whatever and I just cannot resist.  I predict that if my hard drive ever gets totally full it will be because of all of these photos!


Drinking at the Tap
 So many cats love to drink from a dripping tap.  I have never really understood why -- especially if they have a full bowl of fresh water nearby.  At any rate, anyone who has spent time around cats know that the majority of them will take a dripping tap over a bowl of fresh water any day!  Of course, there are also cats like my Suki.  She loves to drink from a dripping tap but she is not content to just drink.  She also must play with the dripping water as thought it each drip was some sort of moving challenge.  The only problem with this is that unless I catch her in time. she will jump down from the bathroom counter (she isn't allowed on the kitchen one), leaving a trail of wet paw marks all across the hardwood floor.  Eventually I see them and have to clean them up.  I have offered to teach her how to dry her paws before getting down from the counter, but so far she seems uninterested!


Stop and Smell the Flowers -- or is this just a prelude to Eating the flowers?!
I don't think I have ever seen a cat simply smell a flower and then pass by.  I have seen them sniff and then begin to either play with the flower or try to eat it.  This can lead to a vase being knocked over and all the water spilled or, worse, it can lead to a very sick cat if the flowers are dangerous to animals!


Hoping to dream of mice by resting on a mouse!

I don't know if someone snuck the mouse under the cat's head while it was sleeping soundly for the sake of the photo or if the cat actually went to sleep lying on it.  I must admit, I have seen cats sleeping on top of some very odd things -- things that I would think would be terribly uncomfortable.  Yet, there the cat is, obviously asleep.  Maybe it is because they are able to totally relax their muscles even though they can spring up, fully functional, at a moment's notice.  If I could relax my muscles that way I am sure this chiropractor I am seeing would have a lot less trouble trying to work on my neck and spine!

"Yes, but my mama already washed me good.  Honest!"

What a tiny kitten and what a big dog and yet you can sense the gentleness involved in the clean-up.  I think this is a lovely photo -- I only wish it was sharper, more in focus.  Anyway, it just goes to show that just as most people are moved by the sight of a little kitten -- so are many dogs.


Heart to Heart -- BFF
So, let me end this section by showing you two beautiful cats who ended up sleeping in such a way that it looks to me as though their tails are almost forming a heart shape,  Cats and cats, people and people, people and cats, people and dogs, dogs and dogs and cats and dogs -- all can form real friendships that last a lifetime.  Thank goodness for all the kindness in the world that we see expressed between creatures.  The sweetest of all, of course, is that eternal friendship between each one of us and Our Lord.  It will never end.

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REFLECTION


Electronically created silk
There is really not much to say about me or Suki this time.  We continue to do our usual stuff and enjoy ourselves. 

The chiropractor seems to be working out well and I am more hopeful than I have been in quite a while regarding my neck.  It will probably never be as good as it once was, but I do think I am beginning to see just a tiny bit of progress in my ability to hold my neck straighter.  So, please keep praying!

I came across a series of photographs like the one above where the artist had been able to electronically create something that looks like flowing silk in the breeze.  I wish I had the 'know how' so that I could show you what it looks like when it is moving, but I have to learn some more stuff first.  Anyway, even sitting still, it looks lovely.  Another beautiful creation by an artist whose skill and ability all originated with the Creator and Ultimate Artist!

 May the peace of God be with us all.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Fatima

Icon, Blessed Jacinta and Francisco of Fatima, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer
On 13 May 1917, ten year old Lúcia Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, were herding sheep at a location known as the Cova da Iria near their home village of Fátima in Portugal. Lúcia described seeing a woman "brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun." Further appearances were reported to have taken place on the thirteenth day of the month in June and July. In these, the woman exhorted the children to do penance and acts of reparation, and to make sacrifices to save sinners. Most important, Lúcia said that the lady had asked them to pray the rosary every day and that praying the rosary many times was the key to personal and world peace.  This Lady, who was, of course our Blessed Mother Mary, called herself "Lady of the Rosary" and would later be known to the world as Our Lady of Fatima.

As early as July 1917, it was claimed that the Virgin Mary had promised a miracle for the last of her apparitions on 13 October, so that all would believe. What happened then became known as "Miracle of the Sun". A crowd believed to number approximately 70,000, including newspaper reporters and photographers, gathered at the Cova da Iria. The incessant rain had finally ceased and a thin layer of clouds cloaked the silver disc of the sun. Witnesses said later it could be looked upon without hurting the eyes. Lúcia, moved by what she said was an interior impulse, called out to the crowd to look at the sun. Witnesses later spoke of the sun appearing to change colors and rotate like a wheel. Not everyone saw the same things, and witnesses gave widely varying descriptions of the "sun's dance". The phenomenon is claimed to have been witnessed by most people in the crowd as well as people many miles away.

Francisco (1908–1919) and Jacinta Marto (1910–1920), were both victims of the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918-20. Francisco and Jacinta were declared venerable by Pope John Paul II in a public ceremony at Fatima on 13 May 1989. Pope John Paul II returned there on 13 May 2000 to declare them 'blessed' (a title of veneration below that of sainthood). Jacinta is the youngest non-martyred child ever to be beatified.  Lúcia became a Discalced Carmelite and died at the age of 97 in 2005.  Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then still head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ordered her cell sealed off. It is believed this was because Sister Lúcia had continued to receive more revelations and the evidence needed to be examined in the course of proceedings for her possible canonization.

For many more details of this story, including the Fatima prayers and the three secrets, go to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_F%C3%A1tima


Actual photograph of the children

Here is an actual photograph of the three children of Fatima taken  in the year, 1917.

Lúcia, being the eldest, was the "leader" of the children.  Both she and Jacinta both saw and heard the angel and Our Lady speaking.  Francisco Marto on the other hand, could only see them and the various visions, but could not hear what was being said.  After each apparition, the girls had to tell him the exact message that had been given.

In one of the early apparitions, Francisco asked the Lady if he, too, would go to Heaven.  The Lady is reported to have replied:  "yes, but only if you pray many Rosaries!"






Blessed Jacinta and Francisco, please pray for us -- for peace in our hearts and peace in the world.


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OIL PAINTING SOFTWARE -- Results

I came across the following four photographs recently and decided to see what each one would look like if I applied the "oil painting software" to it.  Well, the results are below.  As you will see, certain photos took much more easily to the imitation oil paint than did others.  Some photos are simply perfect for turning into "oil paintings" while others just end up looking rather pathetic.  Look closely and you will see what I mean.

The software works well on this photo, leaving something that looks very much like an oil painting.



This photo doesn't work that well as it contains mostly sky and colours.  If you make it much larger, you can see the effects of the software especially along the edges of the mountains  -- this portion does look a bit like a painting, but basically, IMO, this is a photo that should just be left alone and enjoyed.



Using the software on this photo gives it an abstract quality -- very modern in its effect with blues and a few strokes of bright colours.   




This final photo works either way, I think.  I find this version which has been "treated" with the software to be very appealing.  The pathway of light across the dark water has been changed by the software into different bits of colour -- this is the same way you would create this area of light if an artist was really using oil paint.

So, three out of four 'yes' votes from me.  I would be very interested in knowing how you would vote.  Open up each picture by clicking on it so you can see what the software actually did and then let me know how you would vote.
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MY NEWS

Well, the only news I have tonight is that there is not any news!  I haven't checked with Suki so she may well have something to report; however, unless she shows up with her article before the deadline, we will never know what she wanted to say! 

I can tell you that I saw the chiropractor on Monday and am supposed to see him again tomorrow.  He is a really nice man, but I am just not attracted to chiropractic techniques.  I have told myself that I will definitely stay with it until the end of August.  If, by then, there is some improvement in my neck, I will no doubt continue with the programme.  Otherwise, ...

Still no sign of Suki, so I think this is where I will end for tonight.

The Chorus Line
 Here is a picture of some adorable babies which I will use to end tonight's posting. 

May the peace of God be with us all.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Ixora Red (Ixora coccinea)

Ixora Red (Ixora coccinea)
Ixora

Ixora is a genus of 529 species in the family Rubiaceae, consisting of tropical evergreen trees and shrubs. Though native to the tropical and subtropical areas throughout the world, its centre of diversity is in tropical areas in Asia, especially India.  Ixora now grows commonly in subtropical climates in the United States, such as Florida.  Ixora is also commonly known as West Indian Jasmine. Other common names include Jungle flame, Needle flower, Flame of the Woods, Jungle Geranium.  Plants possess leathery leaves, ranging from 3 to 6 inches in length, and produce large clusters of tiny flowers in the summer.  Members of Ixora are suitable choices for bonsai.

Red Ixora flowers are commonly used in Hindu worship, as well as in Indian folk medicine.  It is also a popular choice for hedges in parts of South East Asia, like in Thailand.  In tropical climates they flower year round. For more information go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ixora_coccinea

I tried several different variations of this drawing using my special software; however, they just looked rather blah.  So all you are getting today is the original drawing!

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Feast of the Transfiguration
 Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord.  The Gospel is taken from Matthew 17:1-9 and relates how Our Lord Jesus took Peter, James and John up Mount Tabor where Our Lord was suddenly transfigured before them.  I like to think of it as Our Lord showing these three the "God" part of His nature.  In this transfigured state, Jesus was seen talking with Moses and Elijah.  The three disciples were terrified -- as any of us would be -- and Peter, in his usual manner, blurted out a bunch of foolishness.  At this point a cloud covered the whole scene and a voice was heard speaking from above and saying:  "This is My Son, the Beloved; with Him I am well pleased; listen to Him." 

Icon drawn by S. Thayer, 2009



Of course, even after all this, these three, so close to Our Lord, still did not understand who and what they were dealing with.  And when, on the way down the mountain, Our Lord told them "do not speak of this until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead", the disciples seemed as clueless as ever!  I would have been no different, of course.  We still, with all we now know, cannot even begin to comprehend what and who we are dealing with.  Thank God for the wonderful gift of Faith that came with our Baptism.



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Irony!

The following photos are from a group called "Friends of Irony".  You may have already seen them on the web.  I looked through a bunch of them a few days ago and found some truly ironic ones; however, of them all, I felt the following four were the best.  So, get ready for a bit of irony!


Obviously congestion has been greatly eased by this considerate lane closure!



And whose phone do I use to do that?  Honestly!




Poor psychics! 
I have always wondered why people go to psychics.  I mean, if they were really psychic, they would have won the lottery many times over and would not be living in those dingy apartments they always seem to rent.  I mean it just makes common sense, doesn't it?  



Truly, this is a dilemma!
What a foolish thing to do -- waste all that money on a billboard that no one who is illiterate could possibly read in the first place!  And then to add insult to injury, they ask the poor illiterate soul to "write" for help.  This seems almost like a cruel joke someone is playing, but, sadly, we know it is just the result of a bureaucracy that does not seem to possess common sense. 

Now that you have had your dose of irony, I want to move onto some family news.

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Family News

The Scott and Stocks Families -- August 2, 2011
The group above shows my sister, Janet, and her husband, Tom, with their children and grandchildren.  This is a summer picnic I would have given almost anything to attend in person; however, that was just not possible.  This photo was in the first lot of photographs I have received thus far.  I am hungrily awaiting many more photos along with more news of who said what.  Truly, even the messiest of families can be a real gift so we should always try our best to be at peace with one another.  I know maybe better than most how impossible it is to be fully reconciled with some family members -- their "crimes" have been just too terrible. Still, we can always pray for them, asking God to bless them and to change us and/or them to make real reconciliation possible.

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Suki and Sallie

Suki has just honoured me with her presence which meant I had to stop working on the computer and spend a few minutes holding her like a baby.  I am sure you remember the photo that shows what I mean, but just in case you don't, here it is again.

Sallie holding Suki, 2010

As for me, I am still walking around (or riding around, it depends on how far from home I am going) looking for all the world like a big turtle with its head sticking out of its shell!  Monday I begin my treatments and will see if I start to show any improvement after a few weeks.

I continue to go to the gym almost every day now as it does make me feel a bit better.  Anything that helps me to have less discomfort, even for a little while, is something I will do gladly.  I was wondering recently how many kilometers I have covered on my stationery, recumbent bike -- I am sure it is in the thousands.  I complete an average of 22 kilometers each time I ride and I have been riding at least 4 days a week for 19 months -- wow!  Fortunately, just like life, I only have to deal with each day's activities, not 19 months at one time.  I am so glad that God arranged things that way!
Speaking of the gym, it is almost time to get ready to go.


Wishing you all a blessed Feast of the Transfiguration and a holy Sunday tomorrow.
May the peace of God be with us all.


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The Road to Emmaus

"Breaking of Bread at Emmaus," icon by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

This is my first attempt at drawing an icon of one of my favourite Bible passages -- the story of two of Jesus' disciples who were leaving Jerusalem on the Sunday after the crucifixion, sad and dejected after the death of Jesus.  They were headed for Emmaus.  Then they encounter a stranger on the road who sets their hearts on fire as He reveals to them, from the Jewish scriptures, why the Messiah had to die and that his death would lead to the resurrection.  As you may have guessed, if you are not familiar with the story, the stranger was Christ Jesus and He had veiled their eyes so that they did not recognize Him.  The story is best told by the Bible, itself -- Luke, Chapter 24: 13-32:

"13 Now that very same day, two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem,
14 and they were talking together about all that had happened.
15 And it happened that as they were talking together and discussing it, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side;
16 but their eyes were prevented from recognising him.
17 He said to them, 'What are all these things that you are discussing as you walk along?' They stopped, their faces downcast.
18 Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, 'You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.'
19 He asked, 'What things?' They answered, 'All about Jesus of Nazareth, who showed himself a prophet powerful in action and speech before God and the whole people;
20 and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified.
21 Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have now gone by since it all happened;
22 and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning,
23 and when they could not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive.
24 Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.'
25 Then he said to them, 'You foolish men! So slow to believe all that the prophets have said!
26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer before entering into his glory?'
27 Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.
28 When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on;
29 but they pressed him to stay with them saying, 'It is nearly evening, and the day is almost over.' So he went in to stay with them.
30 Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them.
31 And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight.
32 Then they said to each other, 'Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?'" [JB Translation]

For Catholics, what makes this passage so beautiful is that Our Lord is recognized (or made present) in the "breaking of the bread".  We believe that this is what happens at Mass and then this same bread is reserved and is always present in every Catholic Church in the Tabernacle. 

As a Catholic, I believe that the consecrated Host is actually the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  In other words, Christ is truly present under the appearances of bread and wine. 

I delight to sit before the Tabernacle in any Catholic Church for I believe that I am sitting in the presence of the Incarnate Jesus.  As I sit, I seek to let Him teach me as I ponder the words of Scripture -- just as He taught the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  No wonder I love this story from Luke so very much. 

Let me know how well you think the icon gives expression to the story from Luke's Gospel.

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Do dogs go to Heaven?  This questions begins a battle of words between two churches.  This battle is shown in the following series of photos which reveal a "theological discussion" via church message boards.   I find the war of words to be delightfully funny -- which says something about my sense of humour. 

One church is Catholic and the other one is Cumberland Presbyterian so the battle between a Catholic church and a Protestant church makes the contest even more interesting.  Evidently these two churches are across the street from one another.

I don't know if both churches are equally committed to foolishness or if the pastor at the Catholic Church just like to torment a more serious-minded Protestant neighbour -- but either way, it is funny to me with the final two photos being the funniest.

You may have seen these previously on the Internet -- they have been around for a while -- but I don't think you will mind seeing them again as they are delightful as well as thought-provoking.  Enjoy!



All dogs go to Heaven.


Only humans go to Heaven; read the Bible.



God loves all His creations, dogs included.



Dogs don't have souls; this is not open to debate.



Catholic dogs go to Heaven; Presbyterian dogs can talk to their pastor.



Converting to Catholicism does not magically grant your dog a soul.



Free dog souls [given out] with conversion.



Dogs are animals; there aren't any rocks in Heaven either.




All rocks go to Heaven.


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I am doing fine this evening; enjoying writing this blog.  Suki is sound asleep somewhere.  It is, however, getting on towards bedtime so I expect at any moment to hear a plaintive meow from somewhere in the apartment as Suki awakens and wants to be fed her bedtime snack!  Her stomach is better than an alarm clock!

There is no news about my health as I don't start seeing the chiropractor until Monday of next week.  So I continue to look at the world sideways.  I remain hopeful that this doctor will be able to help me.  Meanwhile, it is interesting to discover how often I almost bump into people and objects since I can't really raise my head to look at what is directly in front of me.  I have had a few funny incidents where people have actually had to quickly side-step or else I would have plowed right into them.  One of these days I know I am going to meet up with someone texting and wearing ear-buds who won't see me or hear me and there will be a great collision!

Well, here comes Suki so I had better go feed her.
May the peace of God be with us all.