Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year, 2012

Dahlia, Red Orange, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
I am posting another flower drawing tonight rather than a new icon.  The reason for this is that it is New Year's Eve and I don't feel like it is the best time to be trying to get your attention with too many details about another saint.  As well, I do not even intend to give you any details about the particular Dahlia that I have drawn.  I have posted a number of different Dahlias in the past couple of years and I figure if you really want more information, you can take a look back (see postings for 4/13/09; 9/30/09; 7/16/11; 10/11/11 and 10/20/11).  I really included this new drawing because it seemed to be a fitting flower for ringing in the New Year, 2012.  So enjoy this "red/orange" Dahlia while you sip your champagne and sing Auld Lang Syne!

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JANUARY 1, 2012


Here is a photo I came across this week that seems to be a fitting photo for the first day of a new year.  So many parts of the Northern U.S. and Southern Canada have snow or will be getting snow tomorrow night that I thought an early morning snow scene was just the right touch for putting in my New Year's posting.

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NEW YEARS' GREETINGS


As well, I thought I would wish everyone a Happy New Year in four different languages.  First, a greeting in French ---


Here are two different English greetings.  I figured I should have two instead of one as this is an English-language blog!


Here we have Happy New Year in Spanish.  And, finally, we have Happy New Year in Polish!



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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki wanted me to include this drawing which shows her practising her French.  She is actually getting quite good and her accent sounds almost à la parisienne
Seeing as how it is New Year's Eve, I have been asking Suki throughout the day exactly what she planned to do for the New Year -- her New Year's resolution?  Each time I questioned her, she would look at me sleepily, yawn and turn over and go back to sleep!  I was beginning to feel as though she was trying to ignore me which left me feeling a bit upset.  But, then, I suddenly realized that she was probably giving me her answer in sign language since she knows how difficult it is for me to understand her meows -- especially when she is speaking French!  Then I understood -- her plan for the New Year is to get more sleep!

But then I begin to wonder if I had really understand as I truly do not see how she can get more sleep each day and still have time to eat, play just a little bit and pester me during the night!  I guess I will just have to wait and see if she does anything differently starting tomorrow.

I spent some time today thinking about what my New Year's resolution might be.  I thought of several things that I am not doing too well at the moment, but then I recalled that I had been doing well at those things before I started falling so much.  It seems that just when I start getting my life back on track, I have another fall.  So, the obvious resolution for me then is to resolve not to fall any more!  Of course, as you might suspect, this is easier said than done -- especially since no one has yet figured out exactly why I am falling in the first place!

I do feel I have a somewhat better understanding of the mechanism of this falling business in my particular situation and while I cannot completely control all the various elements I think are involved, I can control a couple of them -- especially the need to refrain from letting myself get overly tired.  I now understand that there are two aspects that I can and must control.  The first is to rest and even nap whenever I start feeling very tired and the second is to never have anything alcoholic to drink -- not even on my birthday.  The second one is really fairly easy as I realized some time ago that alcohol combined with my medication could be very dangerous.  The first one is a problem, however, as I hate to stop what I am doing and go and take a rest or a nap.  If anyone has any suggestions about how I can better discipline myself in this matter, I would appreciate hearing from you.  Maybe there should be some kind of gadget I could wear that would beep loudly when I start nodding off at the computer, for example, and wouldn't stop beeping until I went and stretched out for a rest!  I will have to ask my friend, Charles, the inventor, and see if he can invent something along these lines.  That would be great.
Otherwise, my goals for this coming year are the same as they were for the past year:  to keep seeking to discern and then do the will of God in all things.  There is a story about Thomas Merton who was walking along the streets of Manhattan with his close friend.  The two of them had just recently become Catholics.  Merton's friend asked him what he wanted to do with his life.  Merton replied, "Oh, I guess I want to be the best Catholic I can be."  His friend responded quickly, "No, Tom, that isn't good enough.  You should want to be a saint!"  Merton said later that until that particular point in time he had not really realized that we are all called to be saints, every single one of us -- nothing less than saints.  So, I suppose that this should be THE New Year's resolution for each and every one of us. 

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So, 2011 comes to an end.  Let us say thanks to God for all that has been, no matter how different it was from what we had hoped it would be.  As St. Paul says, "In all things give thanks".
May the peace of God be with us AND may the coming year be filled with blessings for us and all our dear ones.

Happy New Year everyone.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Hellebore Explained


Hellebore 'Raspberry Mousse', drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
Helleborus x hybridus

"The term 'Helleborus x hybridus' refers to any plant resulting from cross fertilization of stemless plants. It also refers to seedlings of any Helleborus x hybridus plant. The name even extends to seedlings of stemless species plants grown in gardens and to offspring of 'species' plants of unknown provenance."  So say the authorities regarding the Hellebores!  Such a confusing array of beautiful plants -- most of them the result of cross fertilization -- both in the wild and in nurseries. 

Lenten Rose, drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009

I actually posted a drawing of the most commonly known plant in this family -- the Lenten Rose (see left).  The drawing appeared in a posting dated May 26, 2009 under the title "A Quiet Day".  At the time, I referred to it as Helleborus x orientalis; however, I have since learned that this is a more confusing use of a name for a large group of hybrids.  Now, from further research, I know that the proper form is to use "x hybridus".

Hellebores have a long history in cultivation, particularly in Europe. For centuries they have been used for various medical purposes, and all contain alkaloids and other chemicals that could lead to poisoning if ingested in large quantities. Hellebores are even mentioned in ancient Greek and Roman literature, but we cannot be certain if the references are to the same plants that now carry the epithet associated with this genus. They have also been cultivated in western Europe and can be found naturalized around ruins of old monasteries and other structures. It is thus sometimes challenging to determine the native range and those colonies that may be escapes from old gardens. Extracts from hellebores have been used in homeopathy and traditional medicines in several countries. As a garden plant for active hybridizing, the older history is probably less certain, but much of the activity has occurred since around the middle of the twentieth century.

If you would like to learn LOTS more about Helleborus, go to http://www.hellebores.org/

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PUBLICATION PROGRESS -- LECTIO DIVINA GUIDES

Just before Christmas, I received draft copies of the publications for directed Lectio Divina from the Communities of Prayer people in Texas.  These are the folks who are using my icons for the Rosary, the Stations and one other publication -- the different guides use the mysteries of the Rosary, for example, as the focus for Lectio Divina [remember Lectio Divina is a traditional way of praying with the Scriptures which involves reading, pondering, praying, listening and, ultimately, encountering the Living Word of God so that the Word may penetrate our hearts and thus we may enter ever more deeply into that intimate relationship with the Lord].  As the blurb from their web site says:  "This booklet is designed to be used in conjunction with praying the Rosary. It encourages the one who desires to go deeper in prayer to take each of the mysteries of the Rosary and meditate on them using the Lectio Divina prayer model."

This same model is used for the Stations of the Cross and will be used for any other guide developed by this group.  Below are some pages from the Rosary and Stations Guides and the cover of a third guide of which I do not yet have a copy.





Page with reference to the "artist"!


Page with one of my icons on it



Page with reference to the "artist"!



Page with one of the Stations' icons on it



I am waiting for more information on this one

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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki enjoying the winter sunshine
Suki thoroughly enjoyed Christmas Day.  She climbed up into the "crow's nest" of her Christmas gift (her multi-level playing and sleeping combo) and slept almost the entire day!  Occasionally she would arise and let me know that she really needed to have some more of her favourite food.  Because it was Christmas Day, I fed her almost every time she asked -- which, as you can imagine, was a big mistake!  Yes, ever since, she keeps thinking we are going to do things her way as happened on the 25th; and, when she asks for food and is told that she does not need to eat at the moment, she sits there on the rug in front of the fridge looking extremely perplexed, saying things in cat language which I do not understand -- which is probably just as well!

I had visitors yesterday and she found that very interesting as they were very nice to her and kept giving her "scratches" in all her favourite places. One of the guests even brushed her coat a bit.  Too lovely for words, that was.  Today she seems to realize that while all the Christmas decorations remain up and lit (they always stay up until the Julian calendar Christmas in January), things are pretty much back to normal -- which includes her feeding schedule -- and she seems to be accepting of this for the moment (perhaps she is quietly planning new strategies!).  At any rate, she is presently sound asleep.

As for Sallie, I continue to slowly improve.  It will take weeks for my face to get back to normal; however, I plan to return to my regular schedule as of New Year's Day -- back to Mass on Sunday, back to the gym at least 3 days a week and so forth!

At the moment, while trying to finish this posting, my mind is already thinking about what errands need to be done before this day is over.  As usual after a long weekend, I am constantly confused about what day of the week it is.  Since it is Tuesday and not Monday, although it feels like Monday, the Market will be open and so I need to go and stock up on my organic milk.  I allow myself to spend the extra money required to purchase organic milk at the Market.  After growing up on a farm and drinking raw milk for so many years, I have found one type of organic milk at the Market that comes closest to having the flavour of "real" milk!

Otherwise, the remainder of the week should be very quiet and so I expect to be able to continue to rest and allow my bruising to continue to improve.  Most importantly, of course, will be my efforts to keep from having another fall!  Please pray for me in this regard as I am not sure how many more blows my poor old head can take!  Thanks.

And now, I pray that the peace of God will be with each and every one of us.  Amen.

Friday, 23 December 2011

O Come Let Us Adore Him

Icon -- "Mother Mary with Jesus on Her knee", drawn by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
This is the only icon I have ever drawn in which Jesus almost appears to be trying to play.  Of course, no self-respecting icon would show something so far removed from the glory and majesty of the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.  And, of course, even in this almost "playful" icon, we see the traditional right hand of Christ forming the sign of blessing while the left hand holds the traditional "Book" of Life.
However, the design of this icon was sufficient to cause me to reflect on the boy, Jesus, and what He might have done during the celebration in his home and village of the Festival of Hanukkah.  Perhaps Our Lord really was born in what is now our month of December around the time of the Hanukkah celebrations.  Would He have followed the traditions in His home.  I would think most certainly there would have been the nine-branched candelabra somewhere so that He could proudly light one candle for each of the days of Hanukkah.  Quite possibly He might have been given his own dreidel as a birthday gift and His blessed Mother would have served some of the traditional foods associated with the festival.

This reflection took me to the Internet where I sought to find out more about the dreidel.  The article below was written by Laura Beth Caldwell in 2008.
Boy playing with dreidel during Hanukkah

THE DREIDEL
"Another tradition of Hanukkah is the dreidel game. The dreidel, or "Sivivon" in Hebrew, is a four-sided spinning top traditionally made of wood. Each of the four sides of the dreidel are marked with a Hebrew letter-"nun", "gimmel", "hey", and "shin". These Hebrew letters spell out the acronym for the phrase "nes gadol hayah sham" or "a great miracle happened there." This simple child's toy is used to tell one of the greatest stories in Judaism.

Nearly two centuries before the birth of Christ, the land of Israel, known as Judea at the time, was ruled by the Greek king of Syria. This king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes was not tolerant of the Jewish religion. It was his goal to assimilate the Jewish people into Greek customs, including the worship of Greek gods. He thereby issued a decree in 167 BCE forbidding all Jewish worship and ritual. He went so far as to instill Greek gods and pagan ritual practices in the Temple in Jerusalem. Under the threat of death the Jews were forced to abandon their ancient customs, including the study of Torah. Many conceded, fearing for their lives, while others improvised.

Refusing to abandon their faith, many Jews continued to study the Torah in secret. Meeting in caves and forests, Judaism became a clandestine practice. And a very dangerous one. The foothills of Jerusalem were continuously patrolled by Syrian scouts in search of Jewish dissidents. This created a need for a decoy- something to divert the attention of the patrols in the event they came upon a group of Jews studying Torah. Hence the dreidel. This seemingly innocent child's toy was used to fool the patrols. When young Jews were approached by Syrian scouts they would quickly dismantle their Torah studies and toss down the dreidel. The scouts believed this simple wooden top was just a very popular game amongst the Jews. Legend has it that at the time the dreidel was marked with Hebrew letters symbolizing stories of the Torah. It actually became a coded way of studying the ancient scriptures.

The dreidel is a symbol of ingenuity and perseverance in the face of great oppression. In Israel the final letter on the dreidel "shin" is replaced by the Hebrew letter "pey" which changes the phrase "a great miracle happened there" to "a great miracle happened here". Today the dreidel continues to teach young and old alike. It is a beloved game, played amongst family and friends each year during the Hanukkah season to remind us of the power of faith."

Here is hoping that all our Jewish brothers and sisters had a Happy Hanukkah! 

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CHRISTMAS REFLECTIONS

Icon, Christ in the manger at the stable, drawn by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2008
And for us, it is almost that marvelous night when we re-live the birth of the one we call the Messiah, Jesus Christ, true Man and true God, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary.  The little Child depicted in the icon above and to the left is God from God, the very Word of God, begotten not made.  Through Him all things came into being.

I love to contemplate -- maybe "touch at the fringes" would be a better expression -- the faith I have been given that God has loved all creation into being, including each one of us.  Nothing would exist or could exist without God constantly loving us and all creation into being.  Do you know how loved a person can feel when this becomes Truth for them?  And our ever-expanding knowledge of this glorious Truth all begin when an unmarried Jewish girl told Almighty God that He could use her however it pleased Him.  How incredible that God should ask for and wait for permission to use the very creatures He created.  Yet without that Virgin's YES, the plan of God to show all creation, especially mankind, how incredibly, passionately we are loved would not have proceeded.  We look upon that wee babe lying in a manger (feeding trough for animals) and can only uncomprehendingly marvel that this is true God and true Man; Son of God and Son of Mary.  How can this be and yet Faith tells the heart that this is the very Truth itself.  For Christians, Truth is not a thing, it is a Person, the Person of Jesus Christ.  Let us rejoice that God loves us so much that He has given (is giving and will give) His only Son so that all who believe in Him will not perish, but will have everlasting life.  Alleluia. 

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SUKI AND SALLIE
Suki-type Black Christmas Cat
by ~JacquiJax on deviantART
 Well, Christmas Day is almost here and so far, Suki has not destroyed any of the Christmas decorations.  I was particularly worried about my beautiful little tree made from metal coat hangers covered in strands of Christmas braid and bows with lots of little bright lights.  My friend, Jessie, made it for me a number of years ago and just this year she took it back home to "renovate" it.  It looks so pretty, but the only good place for it is on my dining table which Suki is able to reach easily.  Up to this point, she has shown no interest in it or in any of the other little ornaments and candles scattered about. 

The reason may be that I have already given her what Santa had brought for her -- her very own cat "tree"!  It has 4 levels, a crawl space, a ladder, a post with hanging toys and, best of all, is the plush circular bed at the very top.  She pays too little attention thus far to the various types of exercise equipment and too much attention to this lovely, comfortable bed!  She is perched there about 1/4 of the way up the bedroom window so she can even peer out at the pigeons without moving should she so desire.  Most of the time, however, she just sleeps.  I tell you the truth, I have never known a cat this young who sleeps as much as Suki.  If she was 10 year old, I would expect it, but she will only be three in March.

Oh, well, at least she isn't out getting into mischief!


As for myself, I am looking a slight bit better than I was when I posted on Monday.  I still have a huge goose egg on the top of my head, but most of the pain has subsided.  My biggest problem remains the reactions of other people -- strange as that may sound.  Let me explain.

Whenever I meet up with anyone who knows me even slightly, there is the initial reaction of distress and shock the person cannot hide as they look at me.  This is usually followed by either expressions of sorrow, such as "oh, you poor thing... what on earth have you done to yourself?" or else a lame attempt at making a joke, such as "well, I would hate to see how the other guy looks!"  I understand people's discomfort with the really awful way I look and do make allowances for their reactions.  If people could just leave it at that and be satisfied with my saying something like, "yes, I fell again -- hopefully for the last time this year!"  Instead, they begin to ask questions -- some of which are fairly intrusive.  It can take me half an hour to get from the elevator door to the exit doors of the building.

I understand where all of these reactions are coming from and don't really even object to their questions, it is just that looking as I do creates a sort of a negative attention getter.  After living in the same place for the past 15 years, I know, am acquainted with, am recognized by a large number of people which makes for very slow progress whenever I go even out into the hallway on my floor.  I can actually gather quite a crowd around me when I go into the lobby and can actually stop traffic in the aisles of St. Lawrence Market.  So, I am spending most of my time at home these days.  As you know from previous posts, this is not a problem for me, but it does limit my ability to get things done such as grocery shopping.

However, I continue to give thanks in all things and am seeing good which has come from even this latest fall.  Truly, I have discovered over and over again that "all things do work together for good to those who [try to] love the Lord (and try to walk in His paths)".  The best part of all this staying at home business is that I am having more time to get back to my art work -- something I have been having too little time for of late.


Now, may the peace of God be with us all as we gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus. 
O, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord! 


Monday, 19 December 2011

Columbine Blue


Columbine Blue, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Aquilegia caerulea is a species of Aquilegia flower native to the Rocky Mountains from Montana south to New Mexico and west to Idaho and Arizona. Its common name is Colorado Blue Columbine; sometimes it is called "Rocky Mountain Columbine", but this properly refers to Aquilegia saximontana not Aquilegia caerulea.

It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 20–60 cm tall. The flowers are very variable in color, from pale blue (as in the species name caerulea) to white, pale yellow and pinkish; very commonly the flowers are bi-colored, with the sepals a different shade to the petals.

Aquilegia caerulea is the state flower of Colorado. It is also an ornamental plant in gardens, with numerous cultivars selected for different flower colours.

I used my computer software to experiment with "different flower colours as you can see below.



Columbine Blue (Colour Balance), drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

The "colour balance" selection gives a much more lavender/purple cast to the flowers rather than the pale indigo blue of the original drawing.  The leaves become dark purple instead of green.



Columbine Blue (Hue Correction), drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
 The use of the "hue correction" selection changes the flowers to varying shades of pink and mauve with blue rather than green leaves. 

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Some delightful Christmas photos from Italy:

A friend sent me some photos of Italian Christmas scenes.  I selected the following four to share with you in this posting.

Snowy Christmas in Milan



The giant Christmas tree in front of St. Peter's, Vatican City



A confused and confusing group of Santas in Venice




Santa  in psychoanalysis -- scene in a shop window in Milan
(Maybe Santa saw all those "Santas" in Venice which left him asking "who is the real me?".) 
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Suki and Sallie

I asked Suki if she would like to have an outfit like this to wear on Christmas Day.  She sniffed the
photo, looked at me and yawned.  I think that was her way of saying "no".  I think I have shown you this photo previously, but of all the cat Christmas photos I have come across over the years, this one amuses me the most.  If you know cats at all, you know how unhappy this poor kitty really is and you also know that only superb training would keep a cat in this position long enough to take a photo!  I value my hands and arms too much to ever seriously consider trying to do this with Suki.

While my friend, Brenda, was here, Suki was ignored a lot of the time.  She even failed to get fed at her preferred times.  She would ask for food; I would tell her "yes, in a minute" and then Brenda and I would become engrossed in our conversation again and Suki would be forgotten.  Often, she just gave up and ate a few of her "crunchies" and wandered off to sleep for a few more hours.  I should weigh her again and see if she lost any weight in the process. 

Since Brenda left this morning to return to Alabama, Suki has been sleeping almost non-stop.  I assume having company is difficult for her since I don't pay nearly as much attention to her as I normally do.


Now, as for me...  I had a wonderful visit with Brenda on the day prior to my birthday. Then on the day itself, we went out for a delicious, two-and-a-half hour meal.  The restaurant is one where I go often and they treated us to a generous slice of an enormous 5-layer chocolate cake with thick chocolate icing in honour of my birthday.  This was presented with two forks and coffee.  The entire meal was superb.

We spent the remainder of the day talking and talking some more.  By that evening, I was very happy, but I felt totally exhausted.  This was when disaster befell me...  I seem to have been sleepwalking around 11:45 and I ended up falling hard, falling on my head again.  This has left me looking once more like a zombie and feeling about as lively.  Thankfully, Brenda retired after years of being a super nurse so she was able to nurse me through the following days.  I did not get to show her any of the interesting areas of downtown Toronto other than St. Lawrence Market as we spent most of her remaining visit here at my place.  We did have a wonderful time together and have renewed that strong bond that was never broken over those 47 years apart.

As for me, I will be staying close to home for the remainder of the festive season.  I simply look too awful to go anywhere in public without being covered by my floppy hat, dark glasses and big scarf!

I hope to post again before Christmas.  Meanwhile, keep praying: "Come Lord Jesus" as we wait for the days to be accomplished.


May the peace of God be with us all.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

Icon, St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

As she was dying in the convent infirmary, St. Therese could look out and see the rose bushes blossoming. She loved roses. She had thrown rose petals as a Child before the Blessed Sacrament. As she reflected on her quiet, hidden, and gentle life ending, she believed in faith that God had great things in store for her. She believed that her mission was only beginning as she entered the fullness of life with God. She explained: "After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth. I will raise up a mighty host of little saints. My mission is to make God loved..."
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Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (2 January 1873 – 30 September 1897), or Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, born Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, was a French Carmelite nun. She is also known as "The Little Flower of Jesus".

She felt an early call to religious life, and, in 1888, after overcoming various obstacles mostly having to do with her young age of 15, she was allowed to enter the convent to become a nun, joining two of her older sisters already in the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy. After nine years as a Carmelite religious, having fulfilled various offices such as sacristan and assistant to the novice mistress, and having spent the last eighteen months in Carmel in a dark night of the soul (Mother Teresa experienced this dark night for many, many years), she died of tuberculosis at the age of 24.

The impact of The Story of a Soul (please read it if you never have -- it is a life-changing book), a collection of her autobiographical manuscripts, printed and distributed a year after her death to an initially very limited audience, was great, and she rapidly became one of the most popular saints of the twentieth century. She was beatified in 1923, and canonized in 1925.  Thérèse was declared co-patron of the missions with Francis Xavier in 1927, and named co-patron of France with Joan of Arc in 1944. On 19 October 1997 Pope John Paul II declared her the thirty-third Doctor of the Church, the youngest person, and only the third woman, to be so honored.

Devotion to Thérèse has developed around the world. Thérèse lived a hidden life and "wanted to be unknown," yet became popular after her death through her spiritual autobiography - she left also letters, poems, religious plays, prayers, and her last conversations were recorded by her sisters. Paintings and photographs – mostly the work of her sister Céline – further led to her being recognised by millions of men and women.

The depth of her spirituality, of which she said, "my way is all confidence and love," has inspired many believers. In the face of her littleness and nothingness, she trusted in God to be her sanctity. She wanted to go to heaven by an entirely new little way. "I wanted to find something like an elevator that would raise me to Jesus." The elevator, she wrote, would be the arms of Jesus lifting her up to Him in all her littleness -- the way that loving parents lift up a little child. This simplicity is evident in her approach to prayer: "For me, prayer is a movement of the heart; it is a simple glance toward Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and love in times of trial as well as in times of joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus. . . . I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers.... I do like a child who does not know how to read; I say very simply to God what I want to say, and He always understands me."


St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face

About the picture she venerated -- a picture based on the image of St. Veronica's Veil -- St. Therese said, "How well Our Lord did to lower His eyes when He gave us His portrait! Since the eyes are the mirror of the soul, if we had seen His soul, we would have died from joy."























Remember, the name given to Therese in Religious Life was St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face -- both extremely popular images in the Church during her lifetime.

Above, see St. Therese holding holy images representing her name as well as a close-up of the Holy Face of Jesus that was popular at the time St. Therese entered the convent in 1888.

In 1898, the first photograph of the negative-type image found on the Shroud of Turin was made (see left) and, consequently, replaced all other images of the Holy Face in popularity. It is interesting to note how similar the image from 1888 is to the image found on the Shroud 10 years later after photography developed to the point where it could be photographed.




A recent film about the life of St. Therese, called simply "Therese," was made by Leonardo Defilippis, a well-known Catholic film maker and actor.  This is a beautifully crafted film and will give anyone interested a real feeling for the time, place and events of St. Therese's life.  You can find out more by going to http://store.stlukeproductions.com/Therese-Ordinary-Girl-Extraordinary-Soul.html

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DOG AND CAT CHRISTMAS SCENES

I came across a bunch of cat and dog Christmas photos recently.  I find a number of them amusing and wanted to share them with you.  As well, they would make great Christmas cards if you are into making your own.


"I agree, Miss Kitty, I'm not feeling very 'HO HO HO' about all this either!"

"Take my word for it, these folks is about to be very sorry for doing this to us!"


"Do you think my eyes have turned this colour because I am happy?"


"Remember, you promised to give me lots of treats if I would do this for you!"

"Are you sure I'm not going to get into trouble for doing this?  Last time I did something
like this, I got into BIG trouble.  Are you really sure?  Can I trust you?"


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SUKI AND SALLIE


Suki Santa
 Well, I think Suki has been reading my blog again -- shortly after telling you folks that I was going to try reducing her food each day in an effort to help her lose weight, she started demanding more food than ever!

She hasn't been too difficult today as I have had company and anything that throws her routine off seems to distract her from wanting to eat.  I have tried disrupting her routine on my own, but she won't fall for it.  It seems to require strangers in the house which means she has to be on the alert, not allowing herself to sleep too soundly.  This leaves her feeling very tired after the guests leave and causes her to sleep through her now new normal food-begging session every 2 hours!

I have tried reasoning with her about this, but she simply yawns and walks away.  I tried weighing her the other day, hoping that actually seeing her weight would shock her into some sort of reasonable behaviour.  She saw 13 pounds come up on the scale but all that happened was that she tried to play with the flashing numbers!  She was 11 lbs. when she came to live with me almost two years ago now so, as my friend, Eugene, pointed out, she is not grossly obese, but I cannot afford to allow her weight to continue to keep creeping up.

At the moment she is sleeping and seems to be unaware that 5 p.m. (one of her usual begging times) has come and gone.  If we make it past 7 p.m. without her waking up, this may turn out to be a record-breaking day!

As for me, I am tired but very happy.  My godson and his wife took me out for my birthday brunch today.  We went to La Papillion as usual.  The food was excellent, but we happened to get an either overworked or very distracted waiter which made the meal just slightly less pleasant than usual.  Fortunately, I enjoyed their conversation and company so much that this little annoyance was hardly noticeable.

I don't expect there to be any more birthday lunches or dinners until the lunch on the day of my birthday itself.  My friend from Alabama that I have been telling you about is still scheduled to arrive on the evening of the 13th and we will be going to one of my favourite restaurants for lunch on the 14th.  There is still one more birthday meal that I am aware of but that won't occur until probably some time early in the new year due to scheduling conflicts.  It is difficult for me to believe that my birthday is almost here and then so soon over.

BTW, just to remind you, my friend, Brenda, from Alabama, will be here from the evening of the 13th until some time on the 19th so it is possible I may miss my regular posting dates of the 15th and the 19th.  While it is possible that I may feel like posting the evening of the 19th, I definitely will not be posting on the 15th. 

Meanwhile, I hope every one had a glorious Gaudete Sunday and is still rejoicing!  As St. Paul wrote, "...rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances..."  As the priest said in his homily at today's Mass, this is a commandment, not a suggestion!

Only two weeks from today and it will be Christmas!

May the peace of God be with us all.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Passiflora hyacinthiflora



Passiflora hyacinthiflora (oil paint option),drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

I could find almost no specific information on Passiflora hyacinthiflora. There are so many species of Passiflora, only the most well-known are given space in the various encyclopedias I consulted. Thus, I decided to just provide you with some general information on the genus itself.

As you may recall, I have drawn previous examples of Passion Flowers. They are all fascinating in that they appear, to me, to be plants that could never decide exactly what they wanted to be "when they grew up" and are thus keeping all options open as evidenced by things sticking up this way and that!

Passiflora, known also as the passion flowers or passion vines, is a genus of about 500 species of flowering plants, the namesakes of the family Passifloraceae. They are mostly vines, with some being shrubs, and a few species being herbaceous.

The family Passifloraceae is found worldwide, except Antarctica. Nine species of Passiflora are native to the USA, found from Ohio to the north, west to California and south to the Florida Keys. Most other species are found in South America, China, and Southern Asia, New Guinea, four or more species in Australia and a single endemic species in New Zealand. New species continue to be identified: for example, P. pardifolia and P. xishuangbannaensis (how would you pronounce that?!) have only been known to the scientific community since 2006 and 2005, respectively.

The Passion fruit or maracujá (Passiflora edulis) is cultivated extensively in the Caribbean and south Florida and South Africa for its fruit, which is used as a source of juice. A small purple fruit which wrinkles easily and a larger shiny yellow to orange fruit are traded under this name. Maypop (P. incarnata), a common species in the southeastern U.S. The fruit is sweet, yellowish, and roughly the size of a chicken's egg; it enjoys some popularity as a native plant with edible fruit and few pests.

One aspect of Passiflora, which I mentioned in a post some time ago, is the reason why "passion" is part of its proper name.  When the plants were first seen by the Europeans, they saw in their strange and wonderful design various elements of the Passion of Our Lord.  There is plenty of information about this online if you don't recall (or can't locate) what I posted to the blog previously.
As you may have noticed, the one variation I created with my funny software is shown at the beginning of this posting.  This was made by selecting the option called "oil paint".  Below is the original drawing with no special effects.


Passiflora hyacinthiflora,drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011


As is often the case, I cannot decide which of the two I like better.  I would ask for comments on this from my viewing public, but since I rarely get any response, I won't!



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Your Cat's View of the World

I had a wonderful luncheon today with my friend, Eugene.  He was kindly helping me to continue the long-term celebration of my birthday (which actually occurs on December 14th).  As part of today's celebration, Eugene brought me a card that he had made in consultation with his beautiful cat, Desi.  I want to show you the newest photo I now have of Desi, the cat, as well as the information she passed along to Eugene about a cat's view of the world.  I hope you will enjoy this wisdom as much as I do.



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A Funny Christmas Photograph from Facebook 



The family in the white house will certainly be saving a lot of money on hydro this Christmas!



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SUKI and SALLIE

Suki playing in the water


SUKI:  Well, Suki doesn't have too much to say at the moment because she is not speaking to me!  I know you find it hard to believe that this sweet kitty of mine could be upset with me, but she is.  Why?  Simply because I forced her to stop playing in the water left on the shower floor after my shower was finished!

This is a cat who had a bath the day I brought her home from the Humane Society, but has resisted almost any contact with water ever since.  In fact, she does not even like to drink water and gets most of her daily liquid intake from the gravy in the food I feed her.  Let a single drop of water fall on her and she acts as though she is an abused cat.  Well, last night, I was sitting in my chair watching a bit of TV on Salt & Light TV when here comes Suki , jumping into my lap.  Immediately I was aware of something very wet.  Horrified, I thought she was wetting me instead of using her litter box.  I quickly discovered, however, that she was simply wet... her tail, her paws and her belly were all soaking wet and she seemed to be oblivious to this.  I was very puzzled as to how this could have occurred and did a bit of detective work only to find evidence that she had been in the still wet shower.  I spoke to her severely about this and told her "no more" (see item number 10 in the list above).

The next thing I knew, she was back in the shower again -- I knew this because I heard her splashing away in there in the puddle of water around the drain.  This time I went and removed her from the shower, dried her off, told her "no" several more times and shooed her out of the bathroom.  Then I took her towel and actually dried off the shower floor (remember I have a wheelchair apartment which means no bathtub, just a roll-in shower stall).  By this point she seemed to have lost interest.  However, when I had my shower today, I decided to pre-empt any problems by drying the shower floor as part of my exit strategy from the bathroom.  I then went to my computer desk and listened to see what Suki would do.  I heard her go running into the bathroom.  Next I heard the rustle of the shower curtains.  Finally, I heard the sound of Suki bursting out from the shower, out through the bathroom door, appearing almost instantly in front of my computer where I sat working away.  It was obvious that she was not happy.  She glared at me for a moment or two and then, without saying a word, turned and stalked off into the living room where she has been ever since.

I might be worried that she will be angry with me forever; however, I know for certain that as soon as I head for the kitchen before bedtime, she will come running, begging for her bedtime snack.  But for now, she is giving me the cold shoulder.  What a funny cat!
SALLIE:  As for me, I have no new medical news to report.  In fact, the only medical appointment I have scheduled for this week was this morning when I went to see the chiropractor.  He does a wonderful job of helping me to experience a little less pain for a half day or so which is always a welcome bonus.

Otherwise, I have been celebrating my birthday! 

For those of you who do not know me personally, I should explain what is going on here.  Many years ago I decided that since having a December birthday means I frequently get one card saying "happy birthday and Merry Christmas" and only one gift with the explanation that "I knew you wouldn't mind if I gave you one gift for your birthday and Christmas", that I would compensate by trying to make my birthday last for at least 9 days -- sort of like a novena!  So, on Monday I met a friend for afternoon coffee, on Tuesday another friend brought lunch with her and we ate and visited at my place and today, as I mentioned earlier, I met my friend, Eugene for lunch.  I have received cards and/or gifts on each day, but the most important part of each day has been the opportunity to visit with a particular friend.  For example, the friend I saw yesterday I have not seen since last Christmas when we did the same thing the week before my birthday!  The next big birthday celebration occurs on Sunday.  Then my friend from Alabama arrives the day before my birthday and who knows what else may happen between now and the actual day itself! 

FEAST DAY:  Tomorrow is one of Our Lady's special feast days.  If the weather co-operates, I hope to make it to the noon Mass at the Cathedral.  May you all have a joyful Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady.

Now, may the peace of God be with us all.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Christmas Cards





As usual, I have prepared a collection of Christmas cards for those people who may want to order their cards from me.  I only charge $1 per card which I think is a pretty good deal for "hand"made cards with original drawings on them!

Anyway, I thought I would show you my selection for Christmas, 2011


This first card uses the flower, Paeonia cambessedessii -- a drawing I posted last month -- with a standard greeting inside.








The second card uses another 2011 drawing -- Ixora (Red)
with another traditional greeting inside.



Here is my one attempt at a humorous card.  I have been saving this photo ever since I came across it on the Internet some months ago as I thought it would be great for a Christmas card.


While my attempt at humour may be rather limp, I hope, at least, that it will bring a smile to the face of those who view it.

Here is one of the two "religious" cards available. 

I posted this new image of Our Lady recently under the title, I think, of the Virgin Mother and Child.

The greeting on the inside is one of my own personal favourites.


I also decided to make a Christmas card out of the "Burmese Madonna" I posted a month or so ago.

I wrote what I felt to be an appropriate greeting and included a copy of the original drawing of the flowers I used to surround the Burmese Madonna and her sleeping child.




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Some things that are very BIG

A friend sent these photos to me recently and I thought I should share some of my favourites with you.


The BIG Apple!

The GIANT Potato!


The HUGE Cat!

The HUMONGOUS Dog!


The FATTEST Frog and the HAPPIEST Little Boy!

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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Here is a drawing I was playing around with earlier this week.  I was trying to capture that wild-eyed look that Suki gets sometimes when she is planning on pouncing on me the next time I go past her.  She hasn't yet figured out how I know what she is planning and am able to avoid her "attack".

She is doing well and had, I thought yesterday, finally mastered one of life's basic tasks:  the proper use of the sand box! 

I have always used a litter box with high sides for my cats as it saves me a great deal time that would otherwise be spent on cleaning the bathroom floor.  Well, ever since Suki came to live with me, she has been quite happy with her box but seemed to have one major problem (I don't know whether she would have had the same problem with a regular cat box or not).  That problem is that instead of covering over whatever she has accomplished in the box, she will spend 2-3 minutes uselessly scratching the sides of the hard plastic box.  The result is that when she finally seems satisfied with all her scratching, she happily jumps out of the box without having covered anything up at all.

Well, to my amazement, yesterday she finally got the right idea and for the first time in the two years she has been with me, she properly covered things over with sand and then jumped out of the box.  I made a big to-do over this accomplishment, of course, hoping that this was the beginning of the desired behaviour; however, this morning, she was right back to her old ways.  Since I clean her box out almost immediately after use, she can't be distressed about putting her paws into possibly dirty sand.  Maybe it is just that she likes the sound of her claws on the hard plastic!  Oh, well, she is still a great companion if a somewhat wacky one.

As for me, I am doing reasonably well considering that I had at least one doctor's appointment every day this past week (two on Wednesday)!  Blissfully, I have none at all this coming week.  This will give me plenty of time to get my decorations up and prepare a bit more for my friend, Brenda's, visit.  In only 10 more days she will be here!  Don't be a bit surprised if my writing sounds a lot more Southern by the time she leaves!

Also, I had a message yesterday from the people in the parish in Texas that I am working with to help them prepare their books on lectio divina.  They are using a number of my icons as illustrations and my contact person is sending me a paper copy of the draft so I can see just what they are up to.  Once I scan them into my computer, I can share them with all of you.

For now, however, I had better get back to work on my Christmas card order!

Have a blessed 2nd Sunday of Advent.

May the peace of God be with us all.