Thursday, 27 September 2012

Anticipating a Feast Day

Icon, St. Michael the Archangel, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Because September 29th, the Feast of St. Michael and the Archangels, is so special to me, I am anticipating it by two days.  Today should actually have been a "flower posting" day, but this is the only opportunity I will have this year to present my icons of the three archangels:  St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael.  This is also the patronal festival of my "parish" -- St. Michael's Cathedral -- which is another reason the feast day is special.

The Archangel, Michael, has always been seen as the most powerful of the heavenly hosts. He is mentioned a number of times throughout the Bible, especially in the Book of Revelation where it is prophesied that he will lead the hosts of Heaven in a final battle with the forces of evil -- a battle that he will win for Almighty God. We can, therefore, live in the assurance that no matter how bad things seem to get in our world, we, as Christians, already know how the "story" ends. God will be victorious! Alleluia!

Icon, St. Gabriel the Archangel, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

St. Gabriel the Archangel is well known as the Archangel who appeared to Zechariah in the Temple to announce to him that a son was to be born to him and his wife, Elizabeth, in their old age. Most importantly, however, he is known as the Archangel who appeared, six months later, to a young girl named, Mary, living in the Galilean village of Nazareth. He announced to her that she was to be the mother of the Messiah -- the promised one of God -- the Saviour whose name was to be Jesus which means "God Saves". Mary was informed that she, a virgin, was to be the mother of this marvellous child and that the father would be the Holy Spirit, God Himself. How St. Gabriel must have loved hearing Mary answer "Yes -- Fiat" to all of this as she said: "Be it done unto me according to your word."

Just recently I decided to do a new drawing of the Annunciation using a stained glass window as my "model".  The resulting drawing, while very different from anything I have done previously, is rather interesting.  Since it shows St. Gabriel the archangel at the most important moment of his existence, it seems fitting to include it in this section on Gabriel.  I would, of course, enjoy having some feedback on it.

St. Gabriel tells the Virgin Mary of God's plan for our salvation and waits, along with all
of Creation, for her reply...

Icon, St. Raphael the Archangel, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

St. Raphael the Archangel is best known to us from the story about him which occurs in the Book of Tobit. This Old Testament book was part of the Christian Bible for 1500 years and still remains part of the Catholic Christian Bible. The story found in this book is a very engaging account of events in the life of Tobit and of his son, Tobias. When Tobias is sent on a long journey in order to assist his recently blinded father, Tobit, he receives an offering of help from a stranger who apparently is travelling in the same direction. Unknown to Tobias, this "stranger" is the Archangel Raphael disguised as a human being. He has been sent by God to assist this very observant Jewish family which is now being maligned because of Tobit's blindness. The story takes all kinds of twists and turns but finally concludes with Tobias finding the right wife (by the name of Sarah), Tobit being healed of his blindness and St. Raphael revealing himself in all his angelic glory. This scriptural account has forever associated St. Raphael with healing as is shown in the icon scroll.



"I'm just lyin' here and thinkin' about things... 
every now and then you have to cogitate about all all the new stuff you are learning."

Next week he will be coming for a visit -- and I am very excited about that.



Suki-like and very upset!
Well, Suki was having a delightful morning.  It was a beautiful day with lots of lovely sunshine streaming in through the windows. 

The day had kind of a rough start because Joycelyn arrived about 7:30 and begin the process of doing a light cleaning and cooking a bit of food for me.  Suki retreated to her "crow's nest" bed as usual.  After Joycelyn finished and left, Suki visibly relaxed and settled down in one of her favourite beds for a good long nap. 

Suddenly a huge hammering noise started up outside -- near the bedroom window.  These types of noises seem to really upset Suki and she jumped up and tried to see what was making the noise by running from one window to the next.  She couldn't see anything and began to get more and more agitated as the volume increased.

Suddenly I could hear frantic scratching noises and when I got up to investigate, I could see that the door of the large, entry-way closet had been opened just a few inches and I could hear scrambling noises from inside.  I carefully opened the door and could see the frightened eyes of my poor Suki. 

So, at this moment she is deeply ensconced in the front hall closet for an indeterminate period of time.  Usually such noises do not last for very long, but not this one.  It continued for another half hour at least and has finally fallen quiet -- perhaps it will not start up again; however, I suspect that the people working out there in the street are simply taking their lunch break.  We'll see...

I, on the other hand, while irritated just a bit by the loud noises, soon forgot about them pretty much as I began writing this posting. 

I am feeling reasonably well and getting to the gym every other day.  I continue to try to get myself as healthy as possible in preparation for upcoming surgery in October -- nothing too serious.  I will give you more details as we get closer to the time.

One wonderful thing that is happening because of the surgery is that my friend, Brenda, is coming up again from Alabama to stay with me during a bit of the recovery period.  It will be so good to see her again and so excellent to have her with me as I go through the post-operative therapy required.  Our dear Lord takes such good care of me.

I think I have said enough as now about everything -- especially about the wonderful feast day coming up on the 29th -- St. Michael and all the Archangels.
Now I ask that these three wonderful angels remember us as they serve our Almighty God.  They have spoken with God and they have co-operated fully in carrying out His Divine Will.  May they pray for us, reminding God of how much we human beings are in need of His Divine Mercy. 

St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, pray for us.  Amen.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Korean Martyrs

Icon, "St. Andrew Kim Tae-Gon, Priest and Martyr",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

In the early 1600s, Christian communities began to flourish in Korea.  However, these Catholics were led by lay people until the early 1800s.  From the beginning there was hostility towards believers in strongly Confucian Korea.  During the persecutions of the mid-19th century, over 10,000 Christians were killed.  Included was Korea's first native-born priest, St. Andrew Kim and St. Paul Chong, a catechist and seminarian.  In 1984, Blessed Pope John Paul II canonized these two men along with 101 other  Korean martyrs including clergy and lay, young and old.  Their memorial feast day is September 20th.

Since I had worked on these icons some months ago, I wanted to post them this year on the feast day.  Unfortunately, the feast day was this past Thursday, the day after I did the posting on the "Flowers of Central America".  So, rather than wait for another year, I am posting them today!
[Just a note:  both these icons have the same background which was not drawn by me.  I used a Korean print from "free art" as it seemed to me to be much more effective than the more traditional types of backgrounds.]

Text written by St. Andrew Kim Tae-Gon
St Andrew Kim Tae-Gon (1821-1846) was the first Korean-born Catholic priest. In the late 18th century, Roman Catholicism began to take root slowly in Korea. It was not until 1836 that Korea saw its first consecrated missionaries (members of the Paris Foreign Missions Society) arrive, only to find out that the people there were already practicing Catholicism as best they could without a priest.

Born of yangban*, Kim was baptized at age 15. Kim's parents were converts and his father was subsequently martyred for practising Christianity, a prohibited activity in heavily Confucian Korea. After being baptized himself, Kim was sent to study at a seminary in the Portuguese colony of Macao. He was ordained a priest in Shanghai after nine years (1844) by the French bishop Jean Joseph Ferréol. He then returned to Korea to preach and evangelize. During the Joseon Dynasty, Christianity was suppressed and many Christians were persecuted and executed. Catholics had to covertly practise their faith. Kim was one of several thousand Christians who were executed during this time.
*The yangban were either landed or unlanded aristocracy who comprised the Korean Confucian idea of a "scholarly official." In reality, they were basically administrators and bureaucrats who oversaw ancient Korea's traditional agrarian bureaucracy.

In 1846, at the age of 25, he was tortured and beheaded near Seoul on the Han River. His last words were:
"This is my last hour of life, listen to me attentively: if I have held communication with foreigners, it has been for my religion and for my God. It is for Him that I die. My immortal life is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death, because God has eternal chastisements in store for those who have refused to know Him."
Paul Chong Ha-sang

Icon, "St. Paul Chong Ha-Sang, Seminarian and Martyr",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Paul Chong Ha-sang (1794 or 1795–September 22, 1839) was one of the Korean Martyrs. He was the son of the martyr Augustine Jeong Yak-Jong and a nephew of noted philosopher John Jeong Yak-Yong, who were among the first converts of Korea, who wrote the first catechism for the Roman Catholic Church in Korea (entitled "Jugyo Yoji").

When Yak-jong was martyred with Ha-sang's older brother, Yak-jong's wife and the remaining children were spared and went into a rural place; Ha-sang was seven years old.

When he grew up, Ha-sang chose to become a servant of a government interpreter; this enabled him to travel to Beijing multiple times, where he entreated the bishop of Beijing to send priests to Korea, and wrote to Pope Gregory XVI via the bishop of Beijing requesting the establishment of a diocese in Korea. This happened in 1825. Some years later, Bishop Laurent-Marie-Joseph Imbert and two priests were sent.

The bishop found Ha-sang to be talented, zealous, and virtuous; he taught him Latin and theology, and was about to ordain him when a persecution broke out. Ha-sang was captured and gave the judge a written statement defending Catholicism. The judge, after reading it, said, "You are right in what you have written; but the king forbids this religion, it is your duty to renounce it."

Ha-sang replied, "I have told you that I am a Christian, and will be one until my death." After this Ha-sang went through a series of tortures in which his countenance remained tranquil. Finally, he was bound to a cross on a cart and cheerfully met his death, at the age of 45.



I received a very interesting email this past week about the type of flower drawings I present to you occasionally which I label as "inversions".  I had not thought much about this technique until I received the following emails.

Dear Sallie, My name is Svetlana, and I am writing to you regarding your artwork I came across at Tillandsia cyanea "Pink Quill", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011.
Tillandsia cyanea "Pink Quill"
using inversion technique
This particular work is interesting to me because of the “invert”-technique you are using in it. I am an artist too and have been utilizing similar techniques in many of my own works because I believe inversion, like metaphor, is a technique with a great creative potential, the technique, however, almost unknown to a wider public. That is why I decided to start up an online gallery where people can not only learn about conceptual basis for what I called “Inversionism,” but where different artists and photographers who share ideas associated with Inversionism can exhibit their own artworks or photographs. This website is a noncommercial enterprise,and its sole goal is gathering together creative people who work within versions and providing avenues for public recognition of the ideas of Inversionism. Please look at my website and see if you would like to take part in it:   Sincerely, Svetlana.

Dear Sallie, It was very excited to hear from you! If you send me your artworks where you are using inversions, I would love to post them at my web site. Please, also send me the titles, sizes, media and something about yourself and/or what you think about inversionism. As for your readers, I would appreciate if you share with them my web site address  - because I am looking forward to discussing all the different ideas regarding art and inversionism with people!

[The following comments by Svetlana are in response to my remarks in my response to her second email.  I wrote: "I use very simple software which basically allows me to draw and colour. Shading is very difficult and transparency is impossible. I understand that there are much more sophisticated types of software, but I am concerned about how much of my creativity the computer software might take away from me. It is a dilemma."]
As for graphic software, I think there are a bunch of tools in some of the programs, such as the notorious Adobe Photoshop, which simply imitate those basic tools which are used in, so to speak, "physical" painting/ drawing as opposed to "virtual." In this case, the amount of creativity which these types of software would take away from an artist are the same (if not less - a software usually is far from being a perfect one-to-one imitation of "real" tools) as when one uses a "real" brush, or chalk, or oils... with an opportunity to imitate all the different effects of "real" painting / drawing, including transparency or shades. This is just my humble opinion, although I must admit that part of the uniqueness of your style is in your ability to work with very strong and saturated colors! Best, Svetlana

Following is an example of the type of work she is referring to:

--Original using natural colours  
"Arethusa bulbosa Dragon's mouth"
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Inversion technique with "unnatural" colours
Inversion of "Arethusa bulbosa Dragon's mouth", Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

If you are interested in pursuing this topic, go to the web site and look at the drawings and comments in the artist's gallery.  I would be very interested in knowing your opinion of this technique.



"G'day mate.   Just checking in to make sure you are doing OK. Catch you later"

He looks to me as though he is doing as well as ever.  What a sweet guy he is.  Not that much longer now until I see him!



Knowing what you do of Suki, what do you
think is going on here?
In case you think that you are just looking at an ordinary photo of a cat sitting in a man's lap, allow me to enlighten you!

The man, a friend of mine, happens to be sitting in Suki's chair (it used to be my chair, but...).  Anyway, I warned my friend when he first started to sit down in the chair that sitting there could be risky, but he is a brave fellow and so he sat down anyway.

Suki at that time was supposedly sleeping away in her "crow's nest" bed in the bedroom.  However, within a short time after my friend sat down, here comes Suki.  She walks right over to my friend and sits herself down at his feet and begins her "staring at you until you get up and move" technique.  My friend, who shares his home with a cat, simply leaned over, picked Suki up and before she knew what was happening, she was sitting in his lap!

At first she simply sat there undecided about what to do; however, my friend had already started scratching her head in a way that she really likes and before she could regain the upper hand, she had started purring!  She had lost her battle to drive the intruder out of her chair and simply sat there quite happily enjoying the scratching and petting.  In fact, she stayed there until it was time for my friends to leave!

Once the chair was vacated, Suki made a great show of sniffing at the chair quite thoroughly before turning in a circle and settling down to rest in HER chair.  I laughed and told her that she was just a big "softie".  She closed her eyes and pretended to go to sleep -- the reason I say "pretended" is because soon after this I went into the kitchen and suddenly there was Suki at my feet asking for a refill of her food dish.

As for Sallie, she is doing fine.

It is 5 a.m. on Sunday morning, September 23, 2012.  I awakened a short time ago -- without any help from Suki!  She was delighted, of course, to hear me arising and promptly got up as well.  Within a very few minutes, I found myself in the kitchen preparing Suki's breakfast!  I am, indeed, well trained.  Now I am preparing to finish off my blog posting for today although I think I may decide to take a short nap and get up once again at a more reasonable hour!

Now it is a little over an hour later and Suki and I have had a good rest.  Yes, as soon as I stretched out, here came the cat to join me.  Within a few minutes, we both had fallen asleep.  Suki, by the way, is now feeling very frisky as she busily chases her tail!

The day before me looks very peaceful.  The team bring Holy Communion to the Catholics in my building who have difficulties attending Mass (sadly, that includes me) will be here shortly after 1 p.m.  So sometime this morning I want to go to the gym for a "soft" workout.  Now, however, it is time to finish this posting and go and have some breakfast!

May the peace of God be with us all on this holy and blessed day, the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  And I ask that the Korean Martyrs and all the saints in the Church Triumphant will pray for us and for all the many needs of this world.  Amen.


P.S.  Here is an icon of the Madonna and the Child Jesus that I came across in my files.  I don't believe I have ever shown it to you and so I have tacked it onto this posting.

Icon, "Madonna and the Child Jesus (a study in blue)",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Flowers from Central America & Caribbean

"Spiral Ginger - Cana Agria" (Costus spicatus), drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Family: Costaceae; Gender: Costus; Species: C. spicatus. Also known as Spiral Ginger - Cana Agria (Cana Agria means Sour cane). Other English names include Maroon cane, cane cold, sacred reed and cane sacred. Because C. spicatus is also known as "spiral ginger" it is sometimes listed with other gingers in family Zingiberaceae, but generally it is accepted as classified in a separate plant family, Costaceae.

C. spicatus is native to Central America and the Caribbean and has spread to parts of South America. The stems of this plant are used as diuretic. It is useful in diseases and inflammations of the urinary tract and for the removal of kidney stones. Recommended for use in case of nephritis, kidney stones and inflammation of the bladder (cystitis). It is also soothing for menstrual cramps.

"Guaria Morada" (Guarianthe "Cattleya" skinneri), drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Guaria Morada, an orchid, was given the scientific name of Cattleya Skinneri in England by a botanist named James Bateman as a tribute to George Ure Skinner, the European who defined it botanically.

It was declared as the national flower of Costa Rica merely because it could be found everywhere as it grows on trees, roofs and even on buildings. In the past, the peasants of the country really treasured Guaria Morada for its beauty as they relate it with the loveliness of the people, especially women, of Costa Rica. Moreover, according to the tradition and folklore of Costa Rica the flower is also a symbol of family understanding and union. Even though it does not have a unique or captivating fragrance, it has then a beautiful shape as well as an exquisite color.

This orchid blooms during the months of February to April. Guaria Morada means "purple-red flower that grows on the tree."  This orchid is native to Southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. It has since spread to parts of South America.  Family: Orchidaceae; Alliance: Cattleya; Genus: Guarianthe; Species: G. skinneri.



I keep trying to draw a satisfactory picture of a boat (or boats) sitting in water.  In my mind I have an image of what it will look like, but I have yet to bring that image out so that I can share it with others.  At any rate, I want to show you one of my latest efforts.

"Here Comes the Sun", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012


Well, just a little story this week -- a few new photos about doing sports with Dad.

"I am so excited thinking about getting to watch sports with my Daddy! 
Yea Team!"

"See, here we are watching football.  My Dad is really great 'cause he knows everything
about football and all that good stuff!  I try to listen very carefully."

"Watching baseball can really tire a guy out!  I hope our team won the game, Dad.


"Suki Asleep" drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 Well, this drawing depicts exactly what Suki is doing this morning.  She is in my chair, again, curled up and sound asleep.  Every so often her ears twitch as do her whiskers, and occasionally her tail will move with the strangest motion.  If her tail was a rattlesnake, she would be making that rattling noise for the movement is almost the same.

I know that she is dreaming and I can't help but wonder what she is dreaming about.  The one creature that torments her almost daily is one of our local pigeons.  He gets out there on the very edge of the balcony ledge facing my bedroom window where Suki likes to sit in the sunshine.  Well, all else is forgotten when the pigeon arrives.  I know it is here when I hear her making that strange sound somewhere deep in her throat that cats make sometimes when stalking their prey. 

The pigeon knows that Suki cannot get to him and so he preens and postures and drives Suki slightly crazy!  This continues until the pigeon is distracted by a female in the area and flies away.  At this point, Suki will begin to meow, plaintively.  It is almost as though she is asking me to make the pigeon come back.  After a period of time spent looking and watching and seeing nothing special, Suki gives up and climbs into her "crows-nest" bed and goes to sleep.

So, I am pretty sure that when I see all that twitching and tail rattling while she is sleeping, Suki must be dreaming about finally catching that pigeon and showing him who is boss!!  Ah, the life of an indoor cat.

I, on the other hand, am not sitting and looking out the window hoping to see a pigeon.  Whenever I see a pigeon sitting on the balcony ledge, I hurry to open the balcony door -- at which point I slap my hands together and shout which makes the bird fly away.  Thus, I have a balcony almost completely free of pigeon mess thanks to Suki sitting in the window so much and my own vigilance.  Sadly, this is not the case with many of my neighbours, especially those who are still working full time.

Anyway, enough about pigeons.  I have some really exciting news:  if all goes as planned, I will be seeing Braden and his parents two weeks from this coming Friday!  I am already counting the days.  How wonderful it will be to see them all and to get to hold Braden again -- if he will let me.  Even if he doesn't, it will still be wonderful to see him and his mom and dad.

I have several jobs I am working on at the moment for different organizations.  Nothing very exciting as the fun work was done some time ago (the fun work is drawing whatever is needed for the finished product).

At the moment, I am just thinking about getting ready for the gym.  I want to spend an hour or so there before my friends come to visit later this afternoon.   On the way to the gym, I want to pass by the Market and get myself some fresh bread.  Yum.  So I had better get going.

May God bless us all today and in the days ahead.  As we move into my favourite season of the year this Friday, I pray that we all will be reminded of the blessings of the harvest-time which, in turn, may lead us to say thank you to God for His countless blessings.

Peace be with you all.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Our Lady of Sorrows

Icon, "Jesus reads the Prophet Isaiah", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Today is the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.  So, I thought this would be a good opportunity to show you a recently written icon of the Blessed Mother and her Son. 

In the icon above, we see Our Lady listening as her Son reads to her from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, starting at chapter 53, verses 4-6 -- a portion of the "4th song of the suffering servant" (this "song" usually runs from chapter 52:7 to 53:12).  Following is what Our Lady would be hearing her little boy read to her, possibly in Aramaic:

[. . .]
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—everyone—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
[. . .]
How Our Lady's heart must have ached as she pondered these things --wondering, imagining, hoping against hope that her strong intuitive sense was all wrong -- hoping that her son would be able to live a long life of peaceful joy and happiness; yet, all the time knowing the words He was reading to her had been written about Him.

Listening to her Son read these frightening prophecies until He had them memorized, must have reminded Our Lady of Simeon's prophesy made when she and St. Joseph had presented the baby, Jesus, in the temple.  Simeon spoke of the sufferings Jesus would endure and then prophesied that a sword would pierce Blessed Mary's soul as well.  The sorrows of Our Lady are often pictured as seven swords piercing her heart as you can see in this icon I presented to you a number of months ago.
Icon, Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows,
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

Through the centuries the Church has tried to imagine the nature of the sufferings of Our Lady.  One attempt to do this led to the composing of one of the saddest hymns ever written.  It is called the Stabat Mater [the Mother stood] and is traditionally sung on Good Friday and many churches also include it in today's liturgy.  It is a long hymn but here are five of the verses which speak most clearly to me about Our Sorrowful Mother:
  • Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled, she beheld her tender child, till His Spirit forth he sent.
  • O, thou Mother, fount of love, touch my spirit from above, make my heart with thine accord.
  • Make me feel as thou has felt; make my soul to glow and melt with the love of Christ our Lord.
  • Holy Mother, pierce me through; in my heart each wound renew of my Saviour crucified.
  • Let me share with thee his pain, who for all my sins was slain, who for me in torments died.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.  Help us to increasingly comprehend how your Son suffered for our salvation so that, like you, our hearts may be filled with gratitude even in the midst of sorrow.  Amen.


Braden's Tummy Pillow

Braden has something called a "tummy pillow".  Every so often he spends time on it lying on his tummy.  I am not familiar with these pillows as they weren't around back in the days when I was taking care of babies, but they look like a good idea as they encourage the baby to strengthen the neck and the back and probably lead to stronger arms as the baby tries to push himself upwards over time.

Anyway, it seems to me that Braden is still getting used to his tummy pillow as photos continue to show him looking a bit puzzled and uncomfortable at first, but then he seems to enjoy the experience.  This is shown clearly in the following photos:

"I am all trussed up like a duck ready for the oven! 
Come on Mom and put one of my cool outfits on me, OK?"

"Well, now I am dressed -- I just didn't expect to be put on this tummy pillow.
Are you sure this is necessary, Mom?"

"You know, it feels really funny -- sort of like being upside down. 
Are you sure this is good for me?"

"Wow!  Did you hear that big burp, Mom?  Now I feel a whole lot better"

"Actually, this is turning out to be lots of fun -- especially when you sit and make funny faces.   Come on, Mama, make another funny face at me."



What it is like for me when I try to read a book!
(used with permission)
Friends wonder why I so frequently now turn down their offer of the loan of a new book.  It is because Suki is one of these cats shown in the cartoon to the left.  There seems to be something about a book that brings out certain behaviours in Suki!
I make myself a coffee, grab my book, sit down in my recliner and begin to read.  Just as the book begins to get really interesting, here she comes.  How does she know is my question?  If I am just sitting there watching TV or sleeping, she doesn't bother with me, but just let me have a book in my hand and there she is.  She seems to think that the hard edge of a hardcover book or the top of the spine of a paperback were both created as hard edges on which she is supposed to rub her cheekbones.  As you can imagine, this makes it impossible for me to read.

[I wonder what she would do with a Kindle?  Would she realize that it was a book or would she leave me alone?  I just thought of this and it really is worth investigating as this might just solve the problem!]

Meanwhile, I have now gotten used to listening to books instead.  The biggest problem with audio books, however, is that too few of the ones I want to read have been recorded.  Ah, well, just one more of the joys of living with a clever cat!

I seem to be doing all right otherwise.  At the moment I am casting an occasional eye on the TV screen as EWTN and Salt and Light are both showing the Holy Father's visit to Lebanon.  I pray that no one will try to hurt him and that his efforts for peace in the Middle East may bear some fruit.

It is time for me to get ready and go to the gym.  I allowed the gray skies yesterday to encourage my natural laziness and I ended up napping the afternoon away.  Not so today.  I feel the need of a good workout -- the rush of those feel-good endorphins!  Seriously, my pain is lessened by exercise so it is always worth the effort in the long run.

So, on the day when we remember the sorrows Our Lady suffered so willingly as she gave her Son to us for the salvation of our souls, let us continue to ask her to intercede on our behalf so that we, too, will willingly give ourselves for the salvation of others.  "Anyone who would be My disciple must deny themselves, pick up their cross daily and follow Me."

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

In Memorium -- 9/11

"Tulipa Salmon Pink", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
I don't know if or when there will come a time when we here in North America will be able to think of the date 9/11 without remembering that awful day 11 years ago.  The images from that day are forever imprinted on the minds of the peoples of the U.S. and Canada and our young people are introduced to those images as soon as they are old enough to understand.

So, today, in memory of all that happened on that morning 11 years ago, I am just presenting some new drawings of single flowers that seem suitable to me for this occasion.

The first one, above, is of a salmon-pink tulip.  I drew these lovely tulips a year or so ago, but felt that the drawing was too "busy".  So, recently, I decided to try drawing just one tulip and see how that felt.  I find it very satisfying as the simplicity really enables the viewer to appreciate the lovely colours.

"Grape Hyacinth", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
  This drawing of a Grape Hyacinth represents to me the "humility" of this plant.  I know that plants don't really express virtues, but as people have always recognized, we tend to assign certain characteristics to plants.  And for me, the Grape Hyacinth exhibits a certain lowliness in its beauty.  This seemed, therefore, to be a good plant to include in this day of remembering.

"Ghost Orchid", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
The final drawing reveals a flower that in spite of its beauty is easily hidden, easily missed.  The Ghost Orchid sits on logs and branches, often surrounded by other leafy branches or plants, and its simple loveliness has to be searched for in order to be seen and appreciated.  In fact, sometimes you can be looking right at this flower and miss it entirely.

So these are the flowers that I have chosen to make up my "bouquet" on this day of remembrance.  These are the ones I would place at Ground Zero were I there.

"Sunset Stylized", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Here is a recent drawing with which I would like to finish this section.  I call it simply "Sunset Stylized" -- not a very pretty name, but so far I haven't come up with a proper one!  It is the kind of picture that I feel goes well with the words of this ancient prayer: 
"May the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen." 



Well, this has been quite a time for sweet Braden as you will see from the following photographic evidence.  He faced one of the world's most powerful temptations and apparently has come through the experience safely.  I am very grateful to be able to say this and to show you exactly what happened.  I will, however, allow Braden to tell you about it in his own words...

"Well, I was just lazin' around, chewin' on Tigger's ear and kind of thinkin' about my next meal, when all of a sudden......

a hand reached out from nowhere holding something I had never seen before.  From deep within the collective unconscious, however, I heard the word "chocolate" and I knew somehow that this item before me contained many deep and delicious mysteries AND I was tempted..."

"I was facing a serious dilemma and felt that this was a significant moment in my life.  What to do? I asked myself, and suddenly, I heard a voice from above saying...

" 'Chocolate can lead you astray!  Beware of Chocolate' "  This is really getting weird, I thought.  At this point I decided to play it safe and so......

I went back to chewing on Tigger and waiting for mom to dish up my supper!  I think I made the right choice -- but I must admit there was something about the smell of that chocolate....."

So ends the story of Braden's first brush with a major temptation.  What does the future hold for our beloved boy?


"Are people finding out embarrassing
stuff about me again?"
 Well, I am grateful to report that I seem somehow to have won this round in the ongoing battle about Suki's food.  She appears to have accepted the fact that I am refusing to budge on the issue of her only eating gravy and leaving the rest of the food in her dish while asking for more gravy!  She seems to only be able to take so many days of being faced with dried-out cat food sitting in her dish.  It finally reached the point where she was willing to even eat that, she got so hungry. 

So, now, I can say with great pleasure that, most of the time, Suki is eating all of her food, not just the gravy!  Of course, I am not so naive to think that this battle is really over.  I will say that the current round seems to have ended and I am waiting for the next one to begin.

Otherwise, she has been reasonably well behaved.  At the moment she is waiting impatiently for me to stop using the computer and give her the food I have been promising her for the past 30 minutes.  I think I shall take a break and do that before Suki decides to start trying to give me a bath with that awful tongue of hers!

LATER:  I'm back and Suki is happily giving herself a bath now -- which is what she should be doing after cleaning up her food dish! 

Speaking of a happy cat, I have a photo below which shows an amazing scene.  I had company a couple of weekends ago -- I think I mentioned them to you -- a couple I had prepared for marriage about 6 years ago came for a visit with their two children.  Instead of hiding in the closet as she does when the cleaning lady comes, she heard the noise and came out to see what was going on.  The baby was fussing a bit but she ignored her and headed straight for the 5 year old.  He was thrilled and begin stroking Suki gently.  Suki was delighted and begin to purr loudly.  Here is photographic proof -- sadly there are no sound effects!

Suki enjoying being stroked by my young friend while baby sister looks at photographer!
As for me, I continue to do reasonably well. 

The biggest complaint has to do with my bike at the gym which has started having problems after 2 1/2 years. I find this rather aggravating as I can no longer measure my time/speed/pressure against the previous day as the measuring devices have stopped working properly.  I have gotten several of the fellows involved in trying to fix it.  Although the repairman has come in several times and thought he had it fixed, but it soon goes back to needing to be fixed again.  I have had to put up with numerous remarks about how I have been riding it too hard, going above the speed limit, etc.  but those comments have finally led them to start considering putting the bike "out to pasture" and bringing in a new one!  That is a solution of which I am totally in favour.  We'll see what actually gets done.  I will keep you informed.

I am expecting to have a quiet week as I have no doctors' appointments.  I do have to go to the lab tomorrow to have some blood work done, but nothing else.  The good news is that a dear friend may be meeting me for a visit on Wednesday -- we haven't been able to meet for over a month now and it will really be wonderful to see her again.  I also have two new book ideas and this week might be a good time to stop thinking about them and actually start working on one of them.  We'll see.  Once I get started I will tell you more about the projects.

As I come to the end of this posting, my thoughts return again to the anniversary we remember today.  May God protect us from the violence of others and soften our hearts so that we do no violence to anyone.  May the souls of all those who died on that fateful day rest in peace -- I leave their judgement to God alone.  Finally I pray: 
"Let there be peace on earth, my God, and let it begin with me." 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Theotokos plus Matched Set

Icon, Most Holy Theotokos, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Today's posting is featuring two new icons of Our Lady and the first "matched set" that I have done in about 3 years.  In order to refresh your memory, I have included the definition of the two important terms I use when speaking of the style of the particular icons.  If you have any questions about the reasons for different aspects of these icons, please feel free to either make a comment (I will respond in the comments sections to any question) or contact me at my email address which is shown.

Theotokos:  the Greek title of Mary, the Mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God. When used in reference to Byzantine church art, it implies a depiction of Blessed Mary holding the Christ Child.

Pantocrator:  the Greek title of Jesus Christ as Ruler of the universe, Creator, Saviour and Almighty God represented in Byzantine (Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches) church art showing Our Lord Jesus with one hand upraised and the other holding a copy of the Gospels.

Icon, Theotokos - Pantocrator, Matched Set, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Icon, Pantocrator-Theotokos, Matched Set, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

These two icons are referred to as a match set since the style, colouring, etc. are similar in both of these icons.  Matched icons make a meaningful gift for those people who are attracted to this religious art.  Traditionally, a matched set like this is presented to a couple getting married in the Eastern-rite churches on their wedding day.  After having been blessed by the priest, the set is placed in the "icon-corner" of the couple's home and hopefully will be kept and treasured throughout the couple's married life.

Icon, Our Lady of Consolation, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Here is a traditional icon under the name of Our Lady of Consolation.  I find this a particularly meaningful icon.  I really love to look at those little bare feet which speak to me of vulnerability.  Imagine, our God, coming to us as a vulnerable child...

By the way, two of these are included in the 2013 calendar now available for ordering at the price of $12 each.  Just contact me directly if you are interested.



I do hope that you are not getting too tired to seeing photos of dear Braden.  Let me know if you would like to see something else featured in this section of my post occasionally although I am aware that a number of readers have commented on the pleasure they receive from the Braden photos each posting.  As I think you know by now, I could easily fill up an entire posting with photos and news about this sweet boy!

"What are you lookin' at?  You wanna fight?"

"You don't know what you're gettin' into.  My Dad taught me how to box
and besides that, my Dad can beat up your Dad!"

"Scare-dy cat!  I knew you wouldn't fight me after I told you about how strong my Dad is
and how he has already taught me to box!"
"Wow, all that fighting stuff sure does make a man hungry.  I hope Mom is serving supper soon --this hand just ain't doin' it for me!"



Drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Well, Suki has suddenly started trying to get away with eating only the gravy and not the rest of her food.  The wet food I give her is called "grilled turkey with gravy".  Obviously, the gravy must be the best part of this canned food, but the entire can cannot be just gravy -- she needs the meat as well! 

Anyway, Suki started this nonsense a few days ago and now every day we are going through this struggle.  This is one battle that I am determined to win and thus far I still hold the upper hand.  Not only am I determined to win this one, but I must win it as I cannot possibly afford to only use the gravy from each can and throw the rest away plus it would be very unhealthy for Suki to eat only gravy.  However, any of you who are familiar with conflicts regarding cats and their food, know how difficult it is to win such a battle.

At the point, I save what is leftover from each meal and give it to her again at the next meal.  Sometimes she is so hungry that she will eat some of the leftovers in spite of herself -- plus she maintains herself with her crunchies -- so she is in no danger of starving. 

The biggest problem is that the battle is far from finished which means that when Suki gets really hungry, she talks and talks and talks about it (I think sometimes that she must be part Siamese after about 15 minutes of various meow-y type sounds!).  And as you might have guessed, she does do some of this talking in the middle of the night when I am trying to sleep!  I won't tell you what kinds of names I call her when that happens, but I will only say that I am having to go to Confession a bit more frequently these days!

Otherwise, I am doing reasonably well.  I have been busier than ever with the art work, especially with icons of Our Lady, as is evident from this particular posting.  I am going to the gym almost every day and seem to have regained most of the ability I had lost during the six months I spent avoiding the gym as I sought to recover from the bad fall I had last December 14th!  I have received some orders already for the 2013 calendar and I am organizing that project so that all the orders get filled on time.  As you can see, I am certainly staying busy and feeling reasonably well in the process.

Life is steadily moving forward and bringing me to the time scheduled for my jaw surgery at the end of October.  I will give you more details as we get closer to the event as there will be a few weeks there when I probably will not feel like trying to post anything.

Now, it is time for me to go and fix my supper and I will not be having any gravy!!  Suki ate a bit of her food an hour or so ago so I am hopeful that she will continue to sleep and not start one of her meowy conversations as this can be very distracting!

May our Lord be with us all and fill our hearts with love, peace and joy.  May our Blessed Mother continue to pray for us as she repeats in our hearts the words she spoke at Cana in Galilee, "do whatever He tells you."