Sunday, 21 October 2012

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Icon, "St. Kateri Tekakwitha", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
Any of you who follow such things as canonizations or who read or listen to Catholic news media will have already heard a great deal about the canonization of this native North American who died at age 24 and who, as a saint, is now claimed by both the U.S. and Canada!

Daughter of a Mohawk chief and an Algonquin Indian woman who had converted to Catholicism, Saint Kateri was born in present-day New York in 1656. A smallpox epidemic in 1661-1663 left her an orphan, with a badly scarred face and impaired eyesight. Because of her poor vision, Saint Kateri was named “Tekakwitha,” which means “she who bumps into things.”

On Christmas Day 1677 Saint Kateri made her first holy communion and on the Feast of the Annunciation in 1679 made a vow of perpetual virginity. She also offered herself to the Virgin Mary, asking Our Lady to accept her as a daughter. A Jesuit priest quoted Saint Kateri as saying: “For a long time my decision on what I will do has been made. I have consecrated myself entirely to Jesus, son of Mary. I have chosen Him for my husband and He alone will take me for wife.”

During the last years of her life, she endured great suffering from tuberculosis. She died on April 17th, 1680, shortly before her 24th birthday, and was buried in Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada. Her final words were “Jesus — Mary — I love you.” The Jesuit priest Fr. Cholenec later wrote: “This face, so marked and swarthy, suddenly changed about a quarter of an hour after her death, and became in a moment so beautiful and so clear that I observed it immediately.” She is venerated as the Protectress of Canada and the patron saint of Native Americans and ecology.

Drawing, "St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Lily of the Mohawks", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Above you see my drawing of St. Kateri Tekakwitha which was based on the painting below by Fr. Chauchetière. I did not want to make an exact copy of his painting, but, rather, to give my own interpretation of what he had painted so many years ago.  I must admit, however, to being a real coward as I did not have the heart to show her face as reddened and disfigured as it really must have been. 

On thing you might be wondering about in both Father's painting and in my drawing:  why does St. Kateri have this blanket looking thing on her head?  The smallpox not only left her face disfigured but also damaged her eyes making sunlight almost unbearably painful.  So, whenever she had to go outside on a sunny day, she would bring her head covering down so her eyes were in deep shadow.

The only known portrait from life of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, painted by Father Claude Chauchetière in 1696.

And so the day has finally arrived -- Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks is now St. Kateri Tekakwitha.  Her cause for canonization was opened in 1884 and in 2006, a second miracle was attributed to the intercession of Blessed Kateri.  During the following years, the Vatican confirmed the miracle leading to Blessed Kateri being canonized and declared a saint.  The miracle, just in case you do not know, was that of a five-year-old boy who was miraculously cured of necrotizing fasciitis or the flesh-eating disease.  The boy's physicians informed the family that they should prepare for his death.  Then the priest of their family's parish church recommended that they ask for the intercession of Blessed Kateri.  While they were doing this, they were visited by a sister who introduced herself as Sr. Kateri.  The sister prayed with them and then left a relic of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha on the boy's bed.  From that point on, the boy began to recover quickly -- so much so that even the doctors had to admit that what they were witnessing was definitely beyond any medical intervention.  The boy and his family are in Rome today and were present as the Holy Father declared Kateri Tekakwitha to be a saint.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, please pray for us.



I wanted to show you this new photograph of Braden without any other photos to distract you.  Why?  Because I truly think this is one of the most beautiful pictures I have yet seen of this blessed boy.  Although his shirt has the word "beware" on it with the picture of a shark, this little fellow is anything but predatory.  What a great guy he is -- can you tell I'm in love?

"Braden Sweetly Sleeping"



Suki and one of her many "aunties" saying their hellos
Well, Miss Suki has had quite a busy week. 

I have been blessed with visits from three dear friends during the past 4 days and each one of these friends is also a friend of Suki's.  So, just like royalty receiving tributes from the members of their court, Suki has sat in her bed and waited while each one of these friends approached her quietly, asking, "is it all right if I pat you, Suki?"  Giving them an almost imperceptible and very queenly nod, each "courtier" is allowed to approach and pat and rub and scratch while softly speaking endearments.  She tolerates this for a period of time (especially if they are scratching her chin bone) until she tires of it all.  At this point, she gives a big yawn and indicates her desire to return to her nap!

Were you talking about me?

All of this extra attention does not seem to affect her behaviour in any noticeable way -- it is almost as though she expects such treatment.  She still leaves too much food in her dish, still races around the apartment at 3 a.m. and still tries to give me a head to toe bath with her tongue about 5 a.m. (also known as "breakfast time for Suki!"). 

Looking ahead to the coming week, I shudder to think of what tricks she may try to play on my friend, Brenda, who will be staying at my place for the next 8 days -- especially once Suki realizes that I am not coming home for a few days and that Brenda is the one who will be feeding her while I am in the hospital...

Speaking of the hospital, yes, this Tuesday is the day for the big surgery.  Afterward, if all goes well, I will be in the hospital for at least a couple of days, maybe as many as five.  I am really not anticipating any problems and am very hopeful that I will be allowed to come home after 2 days -- especially once they learn that Brenda is a retired nurse and that she will be staying with me for a week after the surgery.  We'll see how it goes. 

This means that I probably will not be posting again before next weekend -- depending on how I am feeling, of course.  I am sure I will have lots of funny hospital stories to tell you as well as new Suki escapades -- she will have Brenda and another friend, both, looking after her in my absence.  I am going to have to warn them to make certain that they keep one another informed about who fed Suki when; otherwise, she will pretend not to have been fed each time another person comes into the apartment!

At any rate, I feel very well prepared for Tuesday.  On Friday, a dear priest from the Cathedral came by and I was able to receive three Sacraments:  Confession, Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist.  What a gift we have in the Sacraments.  Not only do they bring joy to my heart and soul, but also the graces which flow from them leave me feeling very much at peace and very grateful for all God's goodness and loving protection.  Whatever happens, I am in His merciful care and as dear Julian of Norwich said:  "All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well."  And so it shall be.  A special thanks to each and every one who has offered prayers or who will be praying for me on Tuesday.  I am very grateful.

May the peace of God be with us all.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.  Amen.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Lilies of One Sort or Another

Hemerocallis, Day Lilies, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Although they have a similar flower structure, daylilies are not true lilies, but instead belong to the genus Hemerocallis.  Daylily, then, is the general, nonscientific name of a species, hybrid or cultivar of the genus Hemerocallis. Daylilies are perennial plants. The name Hemerocallis comes from the Greek words ἡμέρα (hēmera) "day" and καλός (kalos) "beautiful". This name alludes to the flowers which typically last no more than 24 hours. The flowers of most species open in early morning and wither during the following night, possibly replaced by another one on the same flower stalk the next day. Some species are night-blooming. 

Hemerocallis is native to Eurasia, including China, Korea, and Japan, and this genus is popular worldwide because of the showy flowers and hardiness of many kinds. There are over 60,000 registered *cultivars! *[A variety of a plant that has been created or selected intentionally and maintained through cultivation]

The flowers of some species are edible and are used in Chinese cuisine. The plant has also been used for medicinal purposes. Care must be used as some species of lilies can be toxic.

Hemerocallis, Day Lilies, [brightening effect applied], drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

This is proof that I finally was able to get my special software up and running -- For a while I did not think that I was going to be able to recover it.  So, fear not, you will continue to see evidence of my crazy software!

Lilium martagon - Martagon Lily, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Lilium martagon (Martagon or Turk's cap lily) is a true species of lily. It is of the Family, Liliaceae, and the genus Lilium. It has a widespread native region extending from eastern France east through northern Asia to Mongolia and Korea.

The name "Turk's cap", is also applied to a number of other species.  It comes from the characteristic reflexed shape of the petals. The specific epithet martagon is a Turkish word which also means turban or cap.

This drawing, by the way, is one of a series I have done which shows the parts of the plants almost separately, creating a rather different style of presentation.



As you can see, Braden is becoming quite the reader!  As I understand it, he was reading one of his favourite books to his Dad!  Well, to be honest, I think it is his Dad reading to him -- but I am sure it won't be long before Braden is reading -- I mean, he is almost 4 months old now!

Braden and his Dad reading together

      Look how strong I am getting now, Mom!  Soon I will be sitting up on my own.



It's interesting to me how the issues we have to deal with regarding pets are the same issues you have with young children:  getting them to eat properly, getting them to sleep at appropriate times, getting them to stay out of places where they could hurt themselves, attempting to direct their natural curiosity in safe channels and so on.  I mention this because I am presently dealing with one of these issues again... the issue of getting Suki to eat properly.

I have drawn a picture of one of the current problems regarding food.  I got the idea for the drawing from someone else, but the concept is the same:  Suki's idea of an empty dish is very different from mine.  I figure that because she refuses to finish the food in her dish and then refuses to go back and finish it later THAT we are wasting close to 1/3 of each can of food I open.  That 1/3 goes into the composting box here at the co-op and somehow I just don't see the logic of donating 1/3 of each can of cat food to the composting process!

I have talked with Suki on numerous occasions about this and while she appears to understand that I am not pleased with the amount of food she is leaving behind, she does not appear to be willing to even compromise!  In fact, we have now reached the point where Suki, when she has "finished" eating, actually runs out of the kitchen and goes into one of her safe places where she sits and grooms and smiles with pleasure at having escaped without another lecture from me!

I am currently trying to figure out how to resolve this problem.  I have tried giving her less food each time, but nothing changes.  She still eats everything from the middle and leaves the rest.  I have also tried giving her a dish with a different shape just in case that is a problem for her.  Regardless of the shape or size of the dish she still leaves all that food behind.  I even tried putting all the food around the edges which caused her to eat even less.  Perhaps one of the most aggravating parts of all this is that after she spends a little bit of time hiding in her safe place, she comes out and starts begging me for more food!  I'm at my wit's end so if you have any suggestions that might help, please, please send them to me before I have to declare bankruptcy!

Speaking of bankruptcy, I just spent a little over $300 trying to get all my files, especially all my drawing files, moved from my external hard drive to my new computer after the old one was ruined due to a cup of hot coffee.  Most of my files have now been moved, especially all the art work files, but there are a number of documents from other areas that did not make it.

So, and this is IMPORTANT, if you were expecting me to send you something in the mail and had sent me your mailing address, please send it to me again as I have lost all of the correspondence files related to this blog.  Not only do I no longer have your information, I probably no longer even have your email address!  I am going to continue to search for my old address book, but if you see this information and think I might be talking about you, please send me your information again. 

And, along with everything else, I have to report that I had my first fall in 9 months this past Sunday morning while in the kitchen preparing breakfast.  It was the same as always -- I lost consciousness momentarily and fell, hard.  I came to just before I hit the floor, landing on my backside and my right hand.  My first response was to sit there and give thanks to God that I had not fallen on my face or head!  Then, as I assessed the damages, I realized that I might have done some real damage to my wrist. 

After countless hours spent waiting in the Emergency Department at St. Michael's Hospital, I was finally told that it appeared that possibly I had sustained a fracture to the side of my wrist just down from the base of my thumb.  I was directed to wear a splint for a week and then have the x-rays repeated once the swelling has gone down!  I did not mention that in one week's time I will be in another hospital having surgery!  Thankfully, the fracture, if one exists, is not too bothersome or painful so, unless it really starts to bother me, I plan to ignore it for the time being and just "carry on".

Otherwise, I am doing fine and preparing for my surgery and Brenda's visit.  I have one more blog posting to do before I leave for the hospital, so I will give you all the details then. 

May God richly bless us each and every one during these next four days.  I feel very blessed and I am sure that is because all my many friends and family are surrounding me with their prayers and good wishes. 

St. Ignatius of Antioch, whose memorial we celebrate today, please pray for us.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

The New Doctors

Icon, "St. Hildegard of Bingen" by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
On October 7th, our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, declared two new doctors of the Church:  St. Hildegard of Bingen and St. John of Avila

As you may recall, I presented an icon of St. John of Avila some months ago as I became more aware of him while researching St. John of God (the dear saint whose prayers helped to deliver me from heart problems as you may recall).  However, I had not yet presented the icon of St. Hildegard of Bingen.  Sadly, I was in the preparation stage of doing so when my old computer had its fatal encounter with a cup of hot coffee.  The icon shown here is like a first draft and I am sure that I will continue to work on an icon of St. Hildegard that more fully says what I feel in my heart needs to be said about her amazing life with Christ.  You will notice, I am sure, the unusual "halo" surrounding the saint's head.  This is a "mandala", one of a number, created by St. Hildegard explaining Christian doctrine the same way stained glass windows do -- in pictures.

I am now going to quote selections from a couple of articles written by Catholic writers after the Holy Father had declared these two saints to be doctors of the Church.

About St. Hildegard of Bingen, the Pope said: She was “an important female figure of the 12th century” who “offered her precious contribution to the growth of the Church of her time” by “employing the gifts received from God and showing herself to be a woman of brilliant intelligence, deep sensitivity and recognized spiritual authority.” The Lord granted her a prophetic spirit and fervent capacity to discern the signs of the times. St. Hildegard nurtured an evident love of creation, and was learned in medicine, poetry and music but above all she maintained a great and faithful love for Christ and the Church.” [written by Domenico Agasso Jr. and appearing in the October 12th edition of The Vatican Insider]

From and written by by Dr. Jeff Mirus comes the following: Despite her lack of formal education, Hildegard became widely known for her knowledge not only of the Faith but of music and natural science, including herbs and the medicinal arts as they were practiced at that time. She is an important figure in music history, as there are more surviving chants by St. Hildegard than by any other Medieval composer. She also wrote a sacred music drama on the virtues with eight-two songs, Ordo virtutum—the earliest surviving non-liturgical work of its kind.

Dr. Mirus also included a very wise warning concerning items written about St. Hildegard as follows: Please note that some care must be taken in selecting books about St. Hildegard, or even editions of her writings, because she has attracted unfortunate attention in our own day from those who are devoted to the New Age or Wicca, owing to her great interest in nature and natural remedies. The wayward Dominican Matthew Fox, who teamed up late in the last century with the self-proclaimed pagan witch, Starhawk, is a case in point. Such editions frequently distort St. Hildegard’s spiritual teachings, viewing her through eyes closed to her profoundly Catholic message of redemption and sanctification.

Icon, St. John of Avila, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
 Now for some brief notes concerning St. John of Avila.  If you want to read additional information, please see my blog posting for September 1, 2011.

St. John of Avila, the Pope explained, lived in the XVI century. “A profound expert on the sacred scriptures, he was gifted with an ardent missionary spirit. He knew how to penetrate in a uniquely profound way the mysteries of the redemption worked by Christ for humanity. A man of God, he united constant prayer to apostolic action. He dedicated himself to preaching and to the more frequent practice of the sacraments, concentrating his commitment on improving the formation of candidates for the priesthood, of religious and of lay people, with a view to a fruitful reform of the Church.” [written by Domenico Agasso Jr. and appearing in the October 12th edition of The Vatican Insider]

Early on, St. John’s emphasis on the spiritual dangers of worldly possessions made enemies among the wealthy, leading some to denounce him to the Inquisition. He was quickly exonerated, however, and soon he was invited to preach at the Spanish Court. By his death on May 10, 1569, he was widely acknowledged as a formidable force for renewal. St. John also influenced St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of God, St. Francis Borgia, and Venerable Louis of Granada. His favorable disposition toward the Jesuits had a major impact on that Order’s expansion in Spain. [From by by Dr. Jeff Mirus]



Anyone who has been following my blog for some time (and paying attention!) is aware of my desire to draw beautiful hands as well as the pleasure it gives me to see photos of lovely hands -- from the tiny hands of newborn babies to the gnarled hands of the extremely elderly.  I see such beauty in them all. 

Well, recently, I received two photos of our precious boy, Braden, which showed his hands with the hands of adults.  I find them to be quite lovely and want to share them with you.  Before too long I am sure that I will be trying to draw those expressive hands of sweet Braden.

Braden and the protective hands of a man

Braden and the nurturing hands of a woman



Suki and Sallie together electronically
Now for an update on my crazy cat and on an equally crazy me!

 I am not sure what Suki is thinking as she looks rather mournfully out of the attached photo.  I don't think she is at all concerned about the picture of me in the background on the computer screen.  Rather, I think it was past time for her bedtime snack and this, I am sure, would have been uppermost in her thoughts.

At the moment she is sleeping away in the "crows nest" bed which is visible directly about Suki's head in the photo.  The rest of what you can see is also part of her so called cat condo -- especially visible is one of the scratching posts with its arms to which are attached various hanging toys.  Then just below Suki's shoulder you can see a bit of the ladder which leads to the second floor (her bed is on the third floor!).

What the sleeping Suki does not know is that I will be having a visitor, a stranger, in about half an hour from now.  I have finally given in and called in a computer person from a company named "Around the Clock IT Solutions".  Their prices are not too bad and I am just tired of trying to figure out how to get all my art files onto my new computer without doing them one at a time.  I have been told that they can be moved in batches, but no one seems to know how!  Anyway, this person coming soon to help me is a young man by the name of Xavier!  I hope that he will be able to fix things so that I can stop worrying about all the stuff on this E drive and just get back to drawing and listening to books -- the main reasons I enjoy my computer.

I also enjoy spending time with my
Sallie waiting at the Hot House Restaurant for
the food to arrive!
 wonderful friends.  The photo to your right was taken this week at a local restaurant where two dear friends had invited me to accompany them for a noon-time meal.  At the time this photo was taken, I was waiting for the food to arrive. 

We had a wonderful visit and a delicious meal at the Hot House Restaurant -- my favourite local eatery.  We even had desert!  I am used to going to the Hot House with female friends and, typically, we always share a desert.  These two guys I was with, however, insisted on getting their own separate deserts.  What was I to do except to order one for me as well.  It was yummy good but afterwards I felt like that old Alka-Seltzer commercial:  "I can't believe I ate the whole thing [groan]"

Well, it is almost time for my young IT man to arrive so I had better get everything ready for him.  I continue to do reasonably well and all systems are still go for the coming surgery and Brenda's visit. 

May the peace of God which passes all human understanding fill our hearts and minds today and always.

St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen, please pray for us. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Dichelostemma capitatum

I apologize for the lateness of this posting. I finished writing it some time ago, but then in my absentmindedness, I forgot to hit the "publish" key! So, here it sat until upon returning to the computer some hours later, I discovered, much to my amazement that the post was still here! Well, better late than never, as the saying goes. Enjoy!

"Dichelostemma capitatum", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

I drew this little flower some time ago and since it was one of the first files I recovered after the recent computer crash, I figured it deserved to be featured at long last.
Family: Asparagaceae; Genus: Dichelostemma; Species: D. capitatum.
Dichelostemma capitatum called commonly Blue dicks, Purplehead and Brodiaea occurs in Arizona, California, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico, and northern Mexico.

Dichelostemma capitatum is an perennial growing from an underground corm* to a height of as much as 60 cm. It usually contains 2 to 15 flowers, which are blue, blue-purple, pink-purple, or white.
*[A corm is a short, vertical, swollen underground plant stem that serves as a storage organ used by some plants to survive winter or other adverse conditions such as summer drought and heat.]

Corms have been gathered by Native Americans in California, parts of the Great Basin, and the Southwest. These corms were an important starch source in their diet. California tribes dug and continue to dig the corms before flowering, during flowering, or after seeding depending on the tribe and individual family. Traditional gathering sites were visited annually, and there were gathering tracts with different kinds of corms and bulbs owned and maintained by particular families.

Corms are eaten by animals such as black bears, mule deer, non-native wild pigs, rabbits, and pocket gophers. As some of the corms are eaten, others are dispersed. The animals detach the cormlets, which aerates the soil, prepares the seedbed, thins the plant population, and leaves some cormlets behind. Once separated, corms may take less time to reach flowering size. Interestingly, Dichelostemma capitatum populations require periodic disturbance to maintain and increase their populations; therefore,  harvesting by people and wild animals may help maintain healthy plant populations.


Braden Comes for a Visit!

Sunday was a red-letter day!  Braden and his parents came to visit.  They were here for about two hours and I was blessed to be able to spend at least an hour of that time holding sweet Braden.  What a precious gift he is and how good it felt to hold him.  Take a look at a few of the photos his mother took.

Here you see Braden looking puzzled over why this goofy looking lady is holding him on her knee?!

Here you see that being the good sport that he is, Braden has just decided to enjoy the experience!

Finally, you see Braden looking a bit quizzical again as he wonders what in the world is happening here and who is this funny-looking lady?!
 In spite of the funny-looking lady (me) and the puzzled young man (Braden), a good time was had by all.  I had the delightful pleasure of all that one-on-one time with Master Braden.  Truly, he is a delightful child and he has certainly stolen my heart!



Nothing like a nap after an exciting afternoon!
If you look closely at the picture to your left, you will notice, in the background, a large, black cat.  Said cat appears to be indifferent to the events in the foreground.  Do NOT be fooled!  This cat is very interested in the activities in the foreground.  She has struck a pose in an effort to appear nonchalant; however, in reality, she is pouting.  Yes, that's right, pouting.

Usually it is the cat that everyone makes a fuss over and wants to photograph.  The cat appearing totally unconcerned laps up the attention and hopes it will continue -- especially the ear and chin scratching!  Yet, suddenly, for no understandable reason, everyone is showing no interest in the cat and all the attention is focused on this strange little being who makes strange noises including numerous burps, grunts and squeals.  Noises that everyone seems to greet with delight -- noises which if made by said cat would be met with great displeasure and, perhaps, even a reprimand!

Since none of this makes any sense, the cat has decided to just sit on the back of the chair (her chair, by the way) and ignore the whole business.  She is sure that if she acts indifferent long enough that all this nonsense will stop and the attention will be back on her where it rightly belongs!

Poor Suki.  It took her some hours after Braden left before she started acting as though she had forgiven me and this occurred mainly due to the fact that she was hungry!  I mean, you can't very well continue to pout and beg for food at the same time!

As for me, I am still glowing from being able to spend all that time holding Braden.  He is such a delightful child and seems to be quite ready to smile although he does, indeed, have his pensive moments.  Sometimes it is difficult to believe that he is only 3 1/2 months in age, especially when he gets that introspective look on his face.

Otherwise, I am continuing to organize things in preparation for the upcoming surgery.  It is surprising how much organizing is required for such a short hospital stay.  In addition,  I am trying to get in as much gym time as possible prior to going to the hospital as I don't know how long it will be before I can return to my exercise routines.  As for food, I also plan to eat lots of chewy things between now and then as I do not know how long I will be on softer foods after I leave the hospital. You can see that I have set some very important goals for myself!  Ah, well, I'm a simple soul at heart.

Now to send this on its way before it gets any later.

May the peace of God which passes all human understanding, fill our hearts and make us gentle people.  Amen.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Catholicism in the "New World"

"Divino Niño Jesús," by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Mexico, Central and South America along with the Caribbean Islands have all contributed their special devotions and saints to the universal Catholic Church.  Today I would like to focus on two of the more familiar ones.  The first is the Divino Nino as pictured above.

The Divinio Nino, as He is called, is a popular devotion in Mexico, Central and South America.  The origin of this particular image goes as follows:

In Bogota, in the year 1914, the Salesian Friars were collecting money for the building of the new cathedral.  One of the priests, Padre Juan del Rizzo, was full of pride and very reluctant to beg and suffer the embarrassment that he was sure would ensue.  Thus, he returned each day with an empty purse.  He was reprimanded by his Superior and resolved to do better.  The next morning before setting out on his route, he went first to the chapel where he prayed before the Blessed Sacrament.  Then he turned his attention to Our Lady's statue nearby.  As he prayed for her intercession, he looked up and to his amazement saw the Christ Child in her arms suddenly come to life.  The Child Jesus opened his arms wide and said with a smile, "why not take Me with you?"  As Padre Juan resolved to do that very thing, he suddenly felt an inflowing of such grace that he almost floated out of the chapel.  From that day on, he always brought home more than the others because in his heart he found he now loved to beg on behalf of the Divino Niño Jesús.  Soon others learned of his vision and they, too, came to pray at the statue of Our Lady and her Divine Child.  Many miracles occurred there until finally a separate statue was made of the Child and He was given His own shrine.  Over the years since, this devotion has grown throughout the entire Catholic world -- which is universal.

Next, just as in Europe, there are a number of images of the Black Madonna found in the Americas that have a great following in their respective countries.  The people in those countries have found that when praying at one of these shrines, their faith is increased and miracles occur as they entrust their prayers to the Blessed Mother, asking her to "clean up" their requests before she presents them to her Son.

"Black Madonna" (Spanish-American Traditional), by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Above is one of the many versions of such Black Madonnas.  Of course, the best known "Black Madonna" is Our Lady of Czeshtochowa, found in Poland.

Icon, Our Lady of Czeshtochowa, by the
hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009
 Perhaps one of the better know "Black Madonnas" of the Americas is found in Costa Rica under the title of "La Negrita".

"August 2 is a Costa Rica national holiday as upwards of 1.5 million people make the annual pilgrimage to a Roman Catholic basilica in a rural town of Cartago to pay respects and homage to the country's patron saint, La Negrita. Many of the faithful travel by bus but thousands and thousands walk the twelve miles between San Jose and Cartago. Within the Roman Catholic church rests a black stone carving of Mary and Jesus reportedly dating from 1635 when, it is said, a poor, dark skinned peasant woman came across the statute sitting atop a boulder along a small stream. She took the statute home only to find it missing the next day and, yes, reappearing on the same boulder. Again and again this happened. She'd take the statue home only to have it reappear on the boulder. Convinced that God was sending a message to the tiny community, a church was built over the boulder. The small black statute of La Negrita rests in a special basilica outside the church. Nearly 190 years ago, La Negrita became the patron saint of this Latin America country and in the mid-1850s Pope Pius IX granted an indulgence to this site. Pope John Paul, who had a well-known love of Poland’s “Black Madonna”, visited La Negrita in the 1980s and prayed before this "Black Madonna" of the new world."  (Taken from the Internet with considerable editing by me)


Braden is Back!

After last week's computer crash, I was without any photos of Braden until his mother kindly sent me some this week.  I had almost reached the point of serious withdrawal so these pictures arrived just in time.  Next posting should include some new photos of me and Braden together!  I can hardly wait.  Anyway, take a look at my favourite guy.

"How do you like my new T-Rex T-shirt?  I am so well-dressed!"

"Here you can get a better look at my shirt and at me.  My mom took this photo at a moment when I was deep in contemplation -- trying to understand everything.  I should have it all figured soon!"

"That last line above was a joke -- did you get it?  I know, I can be very subtle. (That's another  joke!)



Suki staring at a moving object!
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011

Well, gentle readers, Suki will not be given too much space today as I really want to get all my complaints out there for you to read.  I have really had a rough 4 days!

Well, I guess I can talk about Suki just a bit.  Mainly because I want to tell you about an event which occurred this past week that still leaves me shaking my head each time I remember it.

On Tuesday, I had a visit from a dear friend -- a lady who doesn't really like cats and has in the past both feared and hated them.  She has reached the point in life now where she can be a bit more laid back about things feline which explains why she was visiting me.

My friend was sitting on the sofa while I sat in the wing-back chair now known as Suki's chair.  I had already warned my friend that Suki would probably leave her bed in the other room at some point because I was sitting in her chair.  My prediction was proven true when after about 15 minutes into our visit when Suki strolled out.  First she came and sat in front of me, staring at me in that way which says "why are you sitting in my chair?"  I invited her to share it with me, but she just looked disgusted.

Suddenly, she turned -- seeming to notice my visitor for the first time.  After a moment, she seemed to lose all interest in me and her chair and turned her attention fully on my guest.  As we both watched in amazement, Suki made her way to the sofa. jumped up next to my friend and immediately lay down next to her, getting as close to her as possible.  Suki then curled herself up next to my friend and begin to rub her face against her leg all the while purring loudly.  I have often heard that cats seem to know when a person is uncomfortable around them and will always head for that person's lap, giving them the full cuddly cat treatment. 

Finally I encourage Suki to move, but even then she insisted on sitting on the back of the sofa, not too far from my friend's head.  Fortunately, my friend has made great progress in the "being afraid of cats" area of her life and was therefore able to continue our visit pleasantly.  Since our visit, I continue to wonder though how cats know what they apparently know? Very strange...

Now for my list of complaints...  I really don't feel like writing too much more so I will abbreviate things as best I can.  Here goes.

After not being able to locate my files on my external hard drive, I took everything in to the technicians on Friday.  They searched and searched but they, too, were unable to find anything.  Eventually, I took my computer and my external drive and left (totally unaware that they had failed to put my computer cord in with the various items).  From there I drove my wheelchair to a doctor's appointment some blocks away.  After finishing there, I headed for my pre-op appointment at the hospital.  There I was seen right away but ended up being there from 1 p.m. until 4:30 -- the whole time being questioned, poked and prodded by numerous medical personnel.  Finally, exhausted, I headed for home. 

Getting home was a great relief and I was looking forward to getting on the computer and trying to catch up with some of my email and getting things prepared for today's blog posting.  Then I discovered that my electrical cord was missing.  It was after 5, but I called the store anyway and spoke to a manager who finally agreed to send out my cord by courier this morning.  He did so and it finally arrived about 12:15.  It was at this point that I finally was able to get started finding the pictures and doing research in preparation for my posting.

You see, I ended up discovering where all my pictures are on the external hard drive but each one must be processed individually.  Slowly, I was able to transfer the two drawings I had planned to use for today, but then I had to do the research that I had intended doing last night.  All these research files are on the external hard drive somewhere but so far I haven't located them -- so, all this work had to be re-done.  Now, here it is almost 7:30 and I am just about finished with my posting.

Oh, by the way, for those who are interested, my surgery will be on the 23rd of October and I have to be at the hospital at 6:15 a.m.  The surgery will take 7 1/2 hours and I will be in the hospital for up to 5 days following the surgery.  Sounds like a fun time to me!  Thank goodness for pain medication.  Above all, thank goodness for prayers.  Yes, please be praying for me -- I really need your prayers as I face this new challenge.

Now it is off to feed the cat!  May God's peace and joy fill the hearts of all who read these words.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi: dona nobis pacem

Monday, 1 October 2012

Making Do!

"Sweet Butterfly", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2008
Well, if you are a regular reader of my blog postings, then you may wonder if you are experiencing some kind of déjà vu as you glance at these drawings from 2008 (maybe even 2007, I can`t really remember).  Let me explain.

On Saturday morning I had another one of those sleep episodes where I suddenly fall asleep while thinking that I am fully awake.  It happens in an instant and is the reason why I have had such bad falls in the past.  This time I was sitting down in my office chair.  I had stopped to have a cup of coffee and had pushed my chair well away from my computer as I was aware of the dangers of spilling anything on a laptop.  So, there I was, feeling fully awake, sipping my full cup of hot coffee.  Suddenly I was jolted awake by an intense burning sensation in my lap.  As I tried to get that hot coffee off me, I jerked the cup and coffee went flying -- some of it splashing onto my computer.  Perhaps there should be a moment of silence here over the demise of my beloved laptop which has served me so well during these past 6 years.

Yes, that is what happened... the coffee that spilled onto the computer keyboard quickly did its dirty work and all sorts of strange things began occurring as I tried to see how much damage I had done.  Soon I realized that it was probably wiser to just shut it down and leave the investigation to the experts I will be taking it to shortly. 
Thankfully, I had a new laptop which I purchased some months ago because the price was so good and which had never been used.  Thus began the hours of trying to set up everything on my new computer -- I am still a long way from being finished with that process.

At the moment, I can only hope and pray that my art work will be salvageable -- especially all the work I have done recently which I haven't even shown to you, my readers, yet.  I will find out the diagnosis in a few hours so there is no need to worry about it now.  Meanwhile, I remembered that I had a few old drawings on a memory stick (don't ask me why) as earlier in the week I had used that same stick to save the front and back images for a "holy card" I am making for people attending a retreat day.  So, I thought, well it really won't hurt us to have another look at some of my old, old stuff. I am sure you won't mind, right?

The drawing at the top was one of the many butterfly drawings I did during my butterfly on flowers stage!  The same is true of the one below -- although the one just below was actually commissioned by a woman who wanted drawings done of a couple of her favourite photos.  The one you see below, however, is not the one I had printed for her, but is another version that I drew just for my own pleasure.  Her print had only one butterfly on it as that was how it was in the photo.

"Brenda's Butterflies", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2008

This next drawing is, obviously, of a Great Blue Heron out fishing!  I love to watch these birds as they stand so still, so silently in the shallow water just waiting, waiting...  Sooner or later here comes a fish and faster than the eye can really see, the fish is captured and swallowed whole.  All that remains are ripples on the water which soon disappear and then the silence returns as the large, slender bird seems to turn to stone once again.  Sooner or later, with a reasonably full tummy, or because some animal comes upon the scene, the beautiful heron lifts itself on those great wings and almost noiselessly glides away.

``Great Blue Heron``, drawing by Sarah ``Sallie`` Thayer, 2009



Here I was all ready with a new group of Braden photos -- some really beautiful ones taken by his mom -- looking forward to sharing them with you in this first posting of October.  That was not to be.  I do hope they can rescue all my Braden photos when I take my computer in this morning.

Instead, as I mentioned, I just happened to have saved the front and back of this card to a memory stick in preparation for printing them off today so that they will be available for the retreat day coming up soon.  And even though you have seen the icon previously, I thought I would just show you what the back and front of the card will look like.

Icon, "St. Martha and St. Mary with Jesus", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Front of holy card


Scripture passage on the back of the above holy card



Some free clip art that reminds me of Suki
All my photos and drawings of Suki are in the now silent, coffee-scented computer!  I even had a funny drawing of a black cat I drew recently all ready to include in this posting!

I thought about possibly putting Suki in the scanner and see what came out on the computer screen -- once I finally got the printer working with the new computer, that is!  I only considered that idea very briefly, however.  When I mentioned my idea to Suki, she gave me a look like the one that the cat is giving in the above drawing.  I felt, because of that glint in her eyes, she was definitely vetoing my rather excellent suggestion.

At the moment, she is in my recliner and has pulled the blanket I keep by the chair over her head and part of her body.  She appears to be sleeping; however, I know that she is fully alert for if I were to make the slightest noise that sounded as though I was getting up from my chair, Suki would be out of the chair and into the kitchen in a flash.  She knows it is almost time for her to get her breakfast!

As for my news, I have already given you the biggest news of the past four days -- the coffee and computer episode.  I do have my pre-op visit at Mount Sinai Hospital on Thursday even though my surgery is still 3 weeks from now.  Most importantly, by the time I next post to the blog, I will have had a visit with Master Braden and his parents.  Hopefully, the visit will yield some good photos so you can see how much he has grown in two weeks!

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto was celebrating the Feast of St. Michael and the Archangels this past weekend.  St. Michael is the patron of the Archdiocese and the Cathedral church of the Archdiocese is named after him as you are no doubt aware.  Today is the feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, co-patroness of the Missions, patroness of vocations and a doctor of the Church.  So I ask her, who was called "little", to pray for all of us who really are "little" in the eyes of the world, but we know something very big -- that we are each and every one passionately loved by God.

May the peace of that same God be with us all.