Sunday, 29 July 2012

Death by Flagellum


Icon, St. Vivian, Roman Virgin and Martyr, by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012.  St. Vivian holds in her hands a
Roman Flagellum of the type used in her martyrdom.

SAINT VIVIAN, Virgin and Martyr (died 363)

Saint Vivian (also known as Bibiana and Viviana) was a native of Rome, born in the fourth century, the daughter and sister of martyrs.

Flavian, her Christian father, was apprehended during the reign of Julian the Apostate, branded on the face as a slave, and banished to Tuscany, where he died of his wounds a few days later. Her mother, Dafrosa, was beheaded two weeks later. Their two daughters, Vivian and Demetria, after the death of their parents were stripped of all they had in the world, and then imprisoned with orders to give them no food.

The Roman praetorian offered them rewards if they would abandon their faith and threatened a cruel death if they would not conform, but they replied courageously that the goods and advantages of this world had no attraction for them, and that they would endure a thousand deaths rather than betray their faith and their Saviour. Demetria, after having pronounced this ardent defense, fell to the ground and expired at her sister’s side; she is inscribed in the Roman martyrology on June 21st.

The officer gave orders that Vivian be placed in the custody of a woman named Rufina, who was commanded to corrupt her or mistreat her. But the martyr made prayer her shield and remained invincible. Enraged at the courage and perseverance of the young virgin, the persecutor ordered her to be tied to a pillar and whipped until she expired, with scourges tipped with leaden plummets. The Saint underwent this punishment cheerfully, proud to be able to share in a scourging similar to that of her Lord Jesus, and died at the hands of the executioners. Her body was left unburied for the dogs to consume, but, miraculously, they did not touch her.  Two days later, she was buried by a holy priest at a site where afterwards a chapel and then a church were built above her tomb. In 1628 the church was splendidly rebuilt by Pope Urban VIII, and in it he placed the relics of the two sisters and of Saint Dafrosa, their mother.

Patron:  Torture victims, single women, people suffering from severe headaches, epilepsy, hangovers and mental illness.  It seems a strange combination of items to me, but I am sure there is an explanation somewhere!
Feast Day:  December 2.
[Comments:  Vivian is the name of the mother of the incredibly wonderful baby, Braden whose photo appears further down on the page.  Also, the confusion of the name of this saint could have several origins; however, I feel that some of that confusion may have been caused by the way the name is spelled in Greek and Cyrillic where the "v" becomes a "b" as you can see in the Greek form of the name on the icon above "Bibian" (V is B in Greek while "v" is lower case "n" in the Greek alphabet).]


The Flagellum
Roman Flagrum
or Flagellum
The Romans would, according to custom, scourge a condemned criminal before he (or she) was put to death. The Roman scourge, also called the "flagrum" or "flagellum" was a short whip made of two or three leather (ox-hide) thongs or ropes connected to a handle. The leather thongs were knotted with a number of small pieces of metal, usually zinc and iron, attached at various intervals. Scourging would quickly remove the skin. According to history the punishment of a slave was particularly dreadful.

The leather was knotted with bones, or heavy indented pieces of bronze. Sometimes the Roman scourge contained a hook or large, razor-sharp bone at the end and was given the terrifying name "scorpion." The criminal was made to stoop which would make deeper lashes from the shoulders to the waist. According to Jewish law (discipline of the synagogue) the number of stripes was forty less one (Deut. 25:3) and the rabbis reckoned 168 actions to be punished by scourging before the judges. Nevertheless, scourging among the Romans was a more severe form of punishment and there was no legal limit to the number of blows, as with the Jews. Deep lacerations, torn flesh, exposed muscles and excessive bleeding would leave the criminal "half-dead."

Death was often the result of this cruel form of punishment though it was necessary to keep the criminal alive to be brought to public subjugation on the cross. The Centurion in charge would order the "lictors" to halt the flogging when the criminal was near death.


Icon, Christ Jesus, Scourged and Crowned,
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 As we read in the Prophet Isaiah about Christ Jesus, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." - Isaiah 53:5-6

















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Braden and Sallie finally meet!


I had the wonderful experience yesterday of finally meeting Braden and I must say that he is without a doubt the sweetest, most adorable baby I have ever seen!

I know we woman feel that way about most babies, but truly this is a very clever little guy and already so well-behaved and he is only one month old.

I had a super visit with Braden and with his wonderful parents -- after all, they have, in co-operation with God, produced this amazing human being.  What a terrible pity that every child cannot be given a chance to live and do amazing things for the world -- as I am sure Braden will do!

Anyway, here are a couple of quick phone photos so you can see how beautiful he is.

Braden (1 month) with his "Aunt" Sallie


Braden (1 month) with his "Aunt" Sallie

See what I mean -- isn't he beautiful.


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SUKI AND SALLIE

As I mentioned above, I did not want to take any chances on things going
Not Suki, but this is how Suki feels she
should be in relation to her carrying case!

wrong while Master Braden was visiting, so I arranged for Suki to go and stay with my friend on the 6th floor.  This friend has no cats at this time, but is an experienced cat person so I knew she would be able to deal successfully with whatever Suki decided to do.

As it turned out, Suki soon found a hiding place where she stayed for a while before coming out and moving to another hiding place.  In other words, she was not being sociable at all.  By the time I came to collect her some hours later, she had managed to get herself under my friend's bed, between those low boxes that are made for under-the-bed storage.  I called to Suki who answered by meowing plaintively; however, she would not budge.  Thankfully, my friend's daughter was visiting and she was able to get down on the floor -- an impossibility for either my friend or myself. 

By moving the boxes, using the dust mop and the daughter's ability to look under the bed and tell us where Suki was located, we finally got her out.  Then, I quickly dumped her into her carrying box, latched the door, thanked my friend and her daughter profusely and hurried back home.  As soon as I opened the door to my place, Suki began meowing and did not stop until she had gotten out of the carrying box, sniffed a few items close by and then flopped on the floor making one full stretch after another.  Then she wanted to be fed!  How could I possibly refuse since I was feeling all that guilt from listening to her meow and knowing she was asking me "how could you do this to me?"  Once fed, she practically attached herself to me for the next hour or so -- wherever I was, she had to be also.

I have no plans to do this the next time Braden visits as it is obvious that he does not have any allergies to cat dander and he is such a quiet baby that I don't think Suki will be at all distressed by his noise and movements.  Eventually, Suki may start asking to be taken elsewhere when Braden visits once he is old enough to start pulling on Suki's tail. We'll see.

After Suki finally settled down, she slept deeply for about 6 hours straight -- this kind of activity really tires her out.

I continue to do very well.  At the moment, I am actually extremely blessed as the kind people from St. Michael's Cathedral were here just a short time ago bringing Holy Communion.  What a blessing that is and how grateful I am to live near a parish that provides such a wonderful service to those of us who have a difficult time getting to Mass and/or being able to stay there for the full hour (that includes me these days).

As for the four days since I last posted, things have been pleasantly quiet.  I have not banged my head into any more sharp objects sticking out just at head level nor have I fallen. 

I can't recall if I have mentioned the matter of the consult with the sleep clinic people.  This, my doctor believes, is the next step in trying to diagnose this problem I have with falling asleep suddenly or passing out.  I received a letter from the sleep clinic last week telling me that I have an appointment scheduled for January, 2013!!  All I have to do is try to keep from doing any serious injuries to myself between now and January.  I have told St. John of God that I expect him to double his intercessory prayers for me so that I can reach January with my poor skull more or less intact.  I am sure he will help me as he has in the past.

Right now, I am thinking about going over to the gym for just a little while and riding on my bike.  I ride for about 50 or so minutes and usually end up feeling so much better -- it is those endorphins, I am sure of it.  So, off I go.

Meanwhile, please know that I daily ask our dear Lord to richly bless all those who read this blog whether as a follower or as someone who just happened to stop by.  May each and every one of us find our hearts filled with the joy and peace that God alone can give.

Dear St. Vivian, please pray for us.  Amen.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Chocolate Vine

Akebia quinata, The Chocolate Vine, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Akebia quinata. Akebia is the adaptation of the Japanese name for this plant. Quinata refers to the 5-lobed leaf patterns. Family: Lardizabalaceae; Genus: Akebia; Species: A. quinata.

Akebia quinata (Chocolate Vine or Five-leaf Akebia) is a shrub that is native to Japan, China and Korea. It grows to 10 metres or more in height. The flowers are chocolate-scented hence the name, Chocolate Vine. The other common name is Five-leaf Akebia Vine.

The fruits are sausage-shaped pods which contain edible pulp. The pulp, though littered with seeds, has a sweet flavour. The fruit is anti-rheumatic, diuretic, febrifuge (brings down fever), stomach treatment and tonic. The rind, with a slight bitter taste, is used as a vegetable, e.g., stuffed with ground meat and deep-fried. The vines are traditionally used for basket-weaving.

The principal use of this shrub in China is as traditional herbal remedies for a number of different problems. The medicinal part of the plant is the woody stem which is sliced in sections and prepared as a decoction [the liquor resulting from concentrating the essence of a substance by heating or boiling]. The stem contains approximately 30% potassium salts thus giving the diuretic action. The stems are also used as an anti-fungal, a febrifuge, laxative and stimulant. Taken internally, it controls bacterial and fungal infections and is used in the treatment of urinary tract infections, lack of menstruation and to improve lactation. The stems are harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.

In the drawing above, you can see both female (larger) and male (smaller) flowers. This is a plant that is definitely not welcome outside its native area as it is very aggressive without its natural controls and can quickly overcome the native foliage.

The saddest part about this plant is the name… Upon hearing about a plant called “The Chocolate Vine”, I remember being very interested to discover more about it. It turned out, however, to be a plant that simply smells like chocolate – no dark or milk chocolate bars just waiting to be plucked. Ah, well… at least it was interesting and challenging to draw.

Akebia quinata, The Chocolate Vine, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
using "colour balance" software for colour intensification
I couldn't resist experimenting just a bit with my software.  I really like what this "colour balance" choice gave me and I am thinking about using this version on a greeting card.  I like the way the leaves look especially.

Akebia quinata, The Chocolate Vine, ripening fruit.
Here is a photo of the fruit from the Chocolate Vine.  It looks big in this picture, but remember, the leaves of this plant are relatively small so the fruit is not going to be so large after all.  I read somewhere that Asian children out in the countryside used to pick and eat the fruit whenever they found the plant growing but evidently they no longer do this as it is so easy to get tastier, seed-free fruit from the store.

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St. James, the Apostle.  Feast Day, the 25th of July.

Lower portion of TRANSFIGURATION icon by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009 -- St James is the one in the right corner dressed in purple.  Today is his feast day. 
St. James, pray for us.

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Sort of a Shaggy Dog Story

An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub and promptly orders three beers. The bartender raises his eyebrows, but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.

An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more. ...

This happens yet again.

The next evening the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time, several times.

Soon the entire town is whispering about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.

Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town. "I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers?"

'Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replies, "You see, I have two brothers, and one went to Canada and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond."

The bartender and the whole town was pleased with this answer, and soon the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.

Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening - he orders only two beers.

The word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers.

The next day, the bartender says to the man, "Folks around here asked me to say that we want to offer condolences to you on the death of your brother. You know-- the two beers and all..."

The man ponders this for a moment, then replied, "You'll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well... It's just that I, myself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent."       









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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki says: "Well, that was a nice nap...
I wonder if it is time to start agitating
to be fed again?" 
I have mentioned before Suki's strange behaviour in her litter box, but I was just thinking about it again this morning and feel like commenting on it once more. 

Suki scratches and scratches while she is in her litter box -- both in preparation and then afterwards.  However, she rarely, if ever, touches the sand while scratching!  Fortunately, she has a litter box with very high sides as it is the sides of the plastic box that she scratches.

It may be because she doesn't want to risk getting her feet into anything -- even though as you know the box gets cleaned, usually, almost immediately after it is used.  Whatever the cause, she will scratch on the sides of the box until she is somehow satisfied and then will carefully leap out of the box and proceed to give herself a good washing.  

An acquaintance suggested that perhaps Suki became very fussy about scratching in the sand after coming to live with a fussy old lady like me!  I certainly admit to being a fussy, old lady, but Suki did this scratching thing from day one.  This is not a situation that I am complaining about as it actually makes my life a bit easier since she gets very little sand on the floor around her box.  I just find the whole business fascinating.

This behaviour carries over into other parts of her life as well since she uses the scratching technique to dispose of anything she doesn't like.  For example, when she wants her wet food and I give her dry, she will scratch and scratch on the kitchen floor tiles, carefully going all around the bowl holding her dry food, until she feels she has "covered" it sufficiently well.  Of course, in reality nothing has changed since scratching on floor tiles produces nothing and so the bowl sits there looking the same as before.  It is amazing to watch her do this, however, as I can almost see the bowl completely covered by sand in my imagination since Suki's actions are so thorough and purposeful.  What a strange one she is.

BTW, I received an email from my friend, Amra, who had a question about an event I described recently:  Suki's behaviour after awakening from what I can only assume was a bad dream.  Amra asked:  "Can cats have bad dreams?"  The answer is, in my opinion, "yes".  It is obvious that they dream -- just as dogs do -- and if they dream there must be the possibility of having both pleasant and unpleasant dreams.  Any other opinions out there?

As for me, I have gone and injured my poor head again!  This time I didn't fall but rather walked full speed into a low ceiling without even realizing it was there until I hit it!  I cut my scalp just slightly, but I did create a big lump which remains quite painful. 

As you may be aware, I have two problems now which cause me to walk into things if I am not very careful.  First is the position of my head due to the fractured vertebrae not healing properly.  Secondly there is the double vision in my left eye, the result of a fall last year.  Due to these problems, I often walk into things now:  other people, posts in the sidewalk, bus shelters, etc.  I just don't see them with my head down and even when I do see them, the double vision often makes me think they are farther away when they are actually closer.  But yesterday, I just did not realize that the low ceiling was straight ahead of me and since I did not look up, I really slammed into it hard.  This is particularly embarrassing for me as someone who has always prided herself on being so alert to her surroundings that I never run into anything.  And now look at me.....

Otherwise, I am doing fine!  Suki is fine.  It is a beautiful day outside and it is now time for me to go and help count coins from the laundry room.  We have a group who does this once a month and we call ourselves "The Ladies who Count!"

May God bless us each one, filling our hearts with His love, joy and peace so that we may quickly forgive each other, always being very kind to all of those we share out lives with.

St. James, pray for us.  Amen.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Our Lady of Japan

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

Without any particular pattern to follow, I have created my own version of Our Lady of Japan.  The only theme that came to me during the preparation for writing this icon was that of the Holy Rosary.  You will see in the information given below how important Our Lady and her Rosary have been in the survival of Catholicism in Japan.  Even the recent apparitions of Our Lady at Akita in 1973 emphasized the Rosary.
 
Now, I invite you to take a look below at a few of the events in the amazing survival story of the Catholic Church in Japan.

  • In August, 1549, St. Francis Xavier arrived with little opposition.
  • But by 1582, Catholics were sought and martyred throughout Japan. 
  • On February 5, 1597, twenty-six Catholics, including the religious Franciscans and Jesuits, were crucified at the City of Nagasaki.
  • In 1607, the Dominicans landed in Japan and founded Holy Rosary confraternities all over the country -- once again with little opposition.
Unfortunately Dutch Calvinists and English Protestants managed to negatively influence the Emperor and raised his suspicions towards the Dominicans. The charge was that the Rosary confraternities were a ploy set by the Catholic Spanish to take over the country.
  • In 1614, an Imperial edict was passed banning Catholicism from Japan. The Rosary martyrs met death with the Holy Rosary beads around their necks.
  • In 1637, in Azima, 37,000 Catholics were martyred for the Faith.
  • In 1858, Japan signed a treaty with France, ending its hostility to the West and Christianity.
  • On March 17, 1865, a Catholic mission was inaugurated in Nagasaki.  The following story illustrates the importance of the Rosary to the survival of the Catholic Church in Japan.  Remember the events described below took place after 200 years with no active Catholic presence in Japan:
Fifteen Japanese Catholics entered the mission; the priests were dubious that these were truly Catholics for they believed that the Faith was wiped out from Japan during the years of persecution. The Japanese though explained that they kept the Rosary confraternities in secret and upheld the two sacraments lay people can administer; baptism and marriage. Amazed at the knowledge that thousands (50,000) of Japanese Catholics had survived for so long, the priests were shown the ancient Rosary translations and two hundred year old Rosaries. These ‘Hidden Catholics’ explained how two years previously, a Protestant mission was set up in Nagasaki, but on discovering that the reverend was not devoted to Our Lady and the Rosary, was not celibate and was not faithful to the Roman Pontiff, they believed he was a Christian impostor.
  • In 1867, persecutions began again and roughly 40,000 Catholics from the vicinity of Nagasaki, were exiled and forced into camps, many died.
  • Finally, religious liberty in Japan was reinstated in 1873.
  • In 1945, due to the Japanese military shipbuilding factories of ‘Mitsubishi,’ the United States chose Nagasaki as one of the Japanese targets for dropping the atom bomb.  Apart from the military factories, the region also had the highest population of Roman Catholics. The Catholic Cathedral of Nagasaki, was at ground zero. The Cathedral, the people inside and another 70,000 people were instantly vaporized. August 9, would witness the death of the most Catholics ever in Japan.
Since the Second World War, there has been religious liberty in Japan and Catholicism is well established once again although they remain a small percentage of the total population. 
[Most of the above data was taken from The Catholic Southern Front Dispatch at http://catholicsouthernfront.wordpress.com/chapter-940-our-lady-in-japan/ ] 

Of course, violence and killing seem to be an ongoing problem when it comes to humankind -- whether on a grand scale like the persecutions of Christians in Japan, dropping atomic bombs on places like Nagasaki or just the routine killing sprees that we see too frequently throughout the world. 

Obviously, I am thinking of the 25 shot and 2 killed here in Toronto on Monday at a neighbourhood barbeque and especially of those shot and killed in the theatre in Colorado just after midnight Thursday.  Both crowds were out with friends to enjoy themselves, feeling safe in their own city and neighbourhood.

Let us ask Our Lady, whichever title we use for her at this moment, to please pray for us, asking her Son to fill our hearts with love and not hate.  If only we could take to heart the advice that Our Lady gives us in St. John's account of the wedding at Cana:  "Do whatever He tells you", all hatred would stop.

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A NEW ICON OF SAINT CECILIA

You may recall my previous icon of St. Cecilia and how I said, at that time, that I did not feel that this was the image I was being called to define regarding St. Cecilia.  Recently I came across another pattern which really spoke to me and I felt moved to write this new icon. 

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

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SUKI AND SALLIE

"Why are you bothering me?
Can't you see I am trying to sleep?
I was thinking the other day about what a difficult life these pampered, indoor cats have -- they are required to ask for food when they are hungry (which normally miraculously appears and if it doesn't they have techniques for making sure the food appears sooner rather than later!); then there are all the hours of sleep they must get in each day (they normally have more than one favourite bed available -- a friend was telling me that one of her adult children who has a cat has at least 6 different cat beds in strategic locations around the house!); then they have to use their litter box which can actually be a problem if they don't have their person trained well enough to keep it clean (I have a friend whose teenage daughter is in charge of cleaning the cat box -- when she fails to keep the box appropriately clean, the cat just goes on the floor -- this way everyone in the house finds out that the daughter is not doing her job properly!)  This list could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

Suki has me extremely well trained.  There are times when she asks for food and doesn't get any canned food (her preference), but there is always dry food out to keep her from getting too hungry.  Usually, however, when she asks for food, she gets the kind she wants (I am very weak.).  Then she does have a number of favourite sleeping places including the very expensive one I purchased for her last Christmas (right now she is in her box in the back of the bedroom closet).  As for the litter box, she really did not have to train me as I have always had a thing about keeping the box extremely clean, and since I am home most of the time now, the box usually gets cleaned within minutes of being used! (I like being told by friends who visit often that they have never noticed the smell of a cat box in my place -- I'm not sure what that says about me, but at least Suki always has a clean box).

Anyway, as you may have gathered by now from my lack of news, this has been a very quiet week with Suki being relatively well behaved and Sallie feeling relatively well.  In fact, I am just about to get ready to go to the gym for my daily workout.  The exercise continues to make me feel just a bit better for some hours after completion.  I wish the lessening of pain and discomfort would last longer, but at least I am able to go back to the gym and get those endorphins working for me again.

The biggest upcoming event in my life is the planned meeting with Baby Bradon a week from today!  I am already excited so I don't know what I will be like by the 28th.  I will keep you informed and, hopefully, there will be pictures of the big event.

By the way, thank you for all the prayers that were prayed for my friends, Brenda and G.  Brenda had to have another stent in another artery, but she is back home now and already feeling much, much better.  As for G., she is still struggling to get her strength back, so any additional prayers would be greatly appreciated.  Another friend has reported having some health improvements after asking St. John of God to pray for his physical well being.  The list just keeps growing so don't leave St. John of God out when you are seriously praying for someone, especially for matters related to the heart.

Well, now it is off to the gym for me.  Suki continues to sleep -- if I reached into the closet and scratched her head, I am sure I would get a look like the one in the photo at the beginning of this section -- so I will just leave her be.

May our wonderful Lord please keep us all close to His Sacred Heart and may God grant us the grace to be loving, grateful and kind.  Amen.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Guaiacum officinale

Guaiacum officinale, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
This is an enhanced version using "colour balance software"

Guaiacum officinale, commonly known as Roughbark Lignum-vitae, is a species of tree in the caltrop family, Zygophyllaceae, that is native from the Florida Keys through the Caribbean and to the northern coast of South America. Guaiacum officinale is also the national flower of Jamaica. 

Lignum vitae means "long life" in Latin, from which comes one of its common names, Tree of LifeLignum Vitae is the heaviest and densest wood in the world and will rapidly sink to the bottom when placed in water. It resists rot caused by insects and moisture. In colonial days this hard, strong, and long-lasting wood was an invaluable construction material.

This small tree is very slow growing, reaching about 10 m in height with a trunk diameter of 60 cm.

The tree is essentially evergreen throughout most of its native range.  The blue flowers have five petals that yield a bright-yellow-orange fruit.



Roughbark Lignum-vitae was listed as an endangered species by the IUCN in 1998. It has been over-exploited for its valuable wood and medicinal products. International trade of this species is restricted.

Before the European colonization, which led to deforestation, there were many stands of Lignum vitae throughout its native range. This created a jungle-like canopy over large portions of the islands of the Caribbean, providing shade for tropical undergrowth. For example, on St. John, Virgin Islands, most large native trees were cut down to prepare for sugarcane cultivation or were harvested for their valuable wood. Once plentiful on the island,  Lignum vitae is now relatively rare.


Guaiacum officinale, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
This is the original drawing showing more natural colouring.


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UPDATE ON THE BABY



All he needs is his own smart phone!

Proud papa with his son.  You can certainly tell who this baby takes after!


Such a wee baby in the arms of his papa.  Truly a precious photo.


ANOTHER USE FOR AN ICON!


This interesting poster was sent to me by a member of St. Patrick's Anglican Church in Edmonton, AB.  They are holding a fundraiser which encourages people to pass along their un-used Canadian Tire Money.  They were requesting permission to use my icon of St. Patrick in the manner shown above!  I said "yes", of course.  The only thing I asked was that they place my name somewhere on the poster as the creator of the icon. 


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SUKI AND SALLIE


This is obviously NOT a photo of Suki!
Rather, it is a photo I am trying to use
to inspire Suki to eat less!

Isn't this one of the most beautiful black cats you have ever seen?  I think it may be one of those mixes of an American Shorthair with a Burmese.  It is definitely not a photograph of Suki! 
I have a copy of this photo on hand now so that I can show it to Suki each time she starts her begging routine where she acts as though she is starving to death.  I must say she is quite the actress!

Actually, at times like that Suki reminds me of my father.  As many of you know, my father was not a nice man and most of my interactions with him were highly unpleasant.  However, he did do this routine when we would be at table and my mother would have forgotten to put out his glass of iced tea or water.  He would look up and see that there was no glass at his place.  Since I was always watching him covertly as a matter of self-preservation, he would usually glance at me and see that I also saw that he had no glass.  If I made a move to get up and get something for him, he would motion for me to sit still.  At this point, he would start making choking noises and grab his throat as though he really was choking.  My mother would look up in alarm only to see that he was doing his usual routine and then she would say something like, "oh, Dan, honestly.  Stop being so silly."  She would say this somewhat playfully, of course, as she got up to get him something to drink.  My mother and I were supposed to laugh at his cleverness at this point and we always did.  It did not occur to me until years later that he could very easily have gotten up to get his own water or tea!  But I digress...

I must say that Suki does some similar things when she is trying to get me to feed her.  She flops about on the floor as though she is simply too weak to even stand.  Then, if I should actually be headed toward the kitchen, she will quickly head to her spot in front of the fridge and make certain that she is in my way so that I cannot ignore her.  I remind her that I know it was only 2 hours earlier when she last ate and I tell her that no adult cat needs to be eating every two hours -- especially an overweight cat! 

Today I started showing her the above photo each time she started begging for more food.  Her response has been to sniff at the image, look at me as though to say "this doesn't smell like food" and then walk away.  This is my opportunity to escape back to my little office -- Suki knows that once I am in front of my computer that I will not move for anything other than an earthquake.  So, she will settle down again, someplace where she has me fully in view so that at the slightest sign of movement she can be up and begging once again.  It is at this point that I will show her the above photo again although I really don't hold out too much hope that the photo will impress her!

This has to be an ongoing battle, I fear, as Suki simply cannot be allowed to gain anymore weight -- if she gets any heavier, I will have to make her some pouches to keep her fat sides from dragging on the floor!

As for me, I am doing reasonably well as usual.  I had an email from one of the Brothers in Br. Finnian's community today -- he is in a house located in New Jersey, USA.  He was asking if he could use my story about St. John of God in their next newsletter.  I said "yes" but to please send me a copy of whatever they publish.  That way I can let you know what they are saying about me in the States! It is wonderful to have a bit of notoriety because of a saint -- that way the saint gets all the credit while everyone see me of the recipient of graces.  Thus there is no reason for pride.

I would like to ask you to pray for a couple of my friends.  One is my friend, Brenda, who so kindly came up from Alabama back in the springtime to be with me when I was supposed to have had the stint put in my heart artery.  Of course, I ended up getting healed instead; however, now Brenda must have a Coronary Angiography on Thursday of this week. As well, my friend who was recovering nicely from surgery to remove a cancerous growth but then almost died from the first round of chemo, has never really started to recover from this bout with chemo and remains very weak. I have asked St. John of God to pray for them, of course, but would also ask that any of you who feel so prompted, to please pray for them as well.

Now, may the love, joy and peace of God be with us all -- today and always. Amen. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Icons Illustrating Scripture

Icon, Saints Martha and Mary speaking with Christ Jesus, by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Today I want to show you some "icons" that are of a somewhat different class than my usual drawings.  While these icons depict an actual Scriptural event as most icons do, they were, for the most part, drawn quickly and for some purpose other than as an outward expression of inner grace.

For example, the drawing above of the scene with Mary, Martha and Jesus, depicts the events found in Luke 10: 38ff.  This drawing was done quickly as I wanted to have this particular illustration to use as part of a poster I had been asked to create.  So, I did not approach the art work as I usually approach the drawing of an icon -- a process which normally includes some reflection and prayer before even beginning.  Still, it is drawn in the style of an icon and is also something I wanted to include among all those completed drawings I file under the heading: "Sallies Art".

I will also be designing a holy card using this image with perhaps the passage from Luke 10 on the reverse side.  This will be given away to the participants in the retreat which will be focusing on this event in the life of Our Lord and His relationship with Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus.


Icon, The Temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness, by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

This drawing was done as I kept considering how on earth I could depict the events found in the synoptic Gospels of Jesus, after his baptism by John in the Jordan and spending 40 days fasting in the desert, was tempted by Satan.  The Father of Lies offered Our Lord the world with all its wealth and power -- all he asked was that Jesus fall down and worship him.  So what you are seeing here is the result of my attempt to show something of this battle.  The drawing was done simply in an effort to experiment with trying to depict Satan and to show how our Lord was "tempted like us in all things, but without sin".  Consider this drawing to be an experiment in progress!

Icon, Jesus speaking with the woman at the well, by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

This icon started out as one of my regular icons.  The original drawing was done back in 2011, I believe.  The version with the text (shown above) and depicting the events in the the Gospel of St. John, 4th chapter, was created earlier this year.  Once again I was commissioned to do a poster for an event that was focusing on this Bible passage.  I looked up the file for this icon I had done the year previously and incorporated it into the poster.  I was also asked to make a holy card using this design to be handed out to the guests at this event.


Icon, Peter attempts to walk to Jesus on the water, by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

The above icon was drawn (written) as a true icon which includes prayer and reflection.  I actually posted it at the bottom of a recent entry, but I know how often these items added on at the bottom of a posting fail to really be noticed.
Of course, with the bright colours I used in this icon, I think it would be difficult to miss!  This event in the life of our Lord is described in St. Matthew's Gospel, 14:22ff.  It was such a blessing for me to work on this icon as I have always loved this story about St. Peter trying to walk on water.  I am so fond of it because I, too, need to be constantly reminded that when I take my eyes off the Lord, I always start to sink!  There is an old Protestant hymn that speaks to this story in the chorus which goes:  "I was sinking... Then the Master of the Sea, heard my despairing cry, from the waters lifted me now safe am I.  Love lifted me, Love lifted me, when nothing else could help, Love lifted me."


Icon, Peter being given a second chance after his denial of Jesus,
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010
Finally, there is the drawing I did back in 2010 (I think) depicting the post-Resurrection scene found in St. John 21:15ff.  Here Jesus gives St. Peter the opportunity to fully express his contrition because of the three times he had denied Jesus on the night of His arrest.  Jesus asks St. Peter three times a variation of the question:  "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"  This three-fold question is also one of the bases for recognizing that Christ Jesus publicly made it clear that He has put St. Peter in charge of His Church -- the Church which He came to establish by His life, suffering, death and resurrection so that all people might become healthy, life-giving members of His Body.  Today St. Peter continues in that role in the person of Pope Benedict XVI -- our wonderful Pontiff.


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ONE THING AND ANOTHER

I had an email this week from my friend, Kathy, in Texas.  She attached a new brochure she has developed for their Lectio Divina web site down there -- this is where they sell the booklets using my icons which I have shown you previously.  See:  http://www.communitiesofprayer.com
This leaflet will be very useful for using as a handout in a parish where they want to start having Lectio Divina on a regular basis as our Cardinal has done here in Toronto at the Cathedral.

Kathy sent me a copy not only because it is such a good handout but also because it uses one of my icons which I posted last year -- the post-Resurrection icon of the breaking of bread in Emmaus.  I must say that I am really impressed with Kathy's work.  Here, take a look at the outside of the leaflet and you will see what I mean.

Outside of brochure showing the icon "Road to Emmaus", written by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer




Here is the beginning of the text of the brochure -- I did not show the entire thing in order to protect Kathy's copyright -- as you can imagine, the rest of the text gives the beginner a good idea of what Lectio Divina is all about and how it works for the individual.

Now, from the sublime, so to speak, to the ridiculous -- here is a silly cartoon that I received this week and which I thoroughly enjoyed.  As a person who usually eats chicken when I want some meat protein, I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw what the cows are up to.  I also mused over what the chickens might do in response!

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SUKI AND SALLIE

 Today I want to talk a bit about Suki's nice qualities.  (yes, she does have some!)
Suki also loves to sleep
this way occasionally!
In the evenings, when I am watching TV for a while and relaxing in my recliner, Suki will suddenly awaken from somewhere in the apartment.  As soon as she is awake, she begins to meow, rather loudly.  This meowing continues non-stop until she finds me.  As soon as she discovers me sitting comfortably, she jumps up onto my lap.

At this point I am supposed to gently pick her up and place her on her back in the crook of my left arm.  The next thing I am supposed to do is gently massage the pads of her front paws.  This seems to make her very drowsy plus she seems to genuinely enjoy the sensation. 

As I continue to massage, Suki snuggles down into the crook of my arm and drifts off to sleep.  As I watch her allowing herself to fall asleep, I, too, start to become very sleepy.  As any of you know who enjoy cats, watching a cat fall asleep is almost hypnotic in that you, the "watcher", also want to fall asleep. 

Usually, within a very short time, I am also asleep (so much for the one show I planned to watch!).  We sleep this way until something disturbs us.  Occasionally the telephone will ring, waking us both up.  At other times, Suki gets restless after a while and decides to move which awakens me, of course. 

When I look at the clock, I normally find that an hour, or even two, have passed.  I can't complain about the missed TV show or the chores that did not get done because this sleep with Suki has got to be some of the most restful sleep I experience these days.  I find myself feeling kind and loving towards her for such a lovely gift -- that is until I hear her attempting to get in the hallway closet again!  Then, we are right back to our usual aggravating friendship!  There is nothing like having a cat who is smart enough to know exactly how to push your buttons!

Other than having my buttons pushed by Suki, I am doing reasonably well.  I have spent a lot of time at home this week due to the hot weather although I did get out with friends on a couple of days.  It is so great to live in a neighbourhood that has all the conveniences I need plus lots of nice places to meet for coffee and for lunch with friends.

I have made it to the gym most days this week and continue to enjoy my workouts and the kind people who work there.  Everyone is so kind to me.  During the past seven days, one of the employees told me all about his marriage plans and I was also shown a baby picture (an ultrasound --3 months in the womb) by a very excited father.  I am also very pleased to almost be back to the top of level 3 on the recumbent bike.  Soon I will move on to level 4 as I work my way back up to level 6 which is where I was when I had that last bad fall in December, 2011 and stopped going to the gym for 6 months.

No new medical problems that I am aware of.  I truly hope and pray that things stay that way.  It would be nice to get through the rest of the summer while feeling not too bad.  The predictions are that it will continue to be really hot, but so long as the power grid holds out ... it is wonderful to have a/c, but we have to watch our power consumption to avoid those unpleasant brown-outs.  Anyway, whatever you do, stay as cool as possible and if you have air conditioning, be very grateful!

Now, I ask for the intercession of all the saints in the icons shown today:  St. Peter, St. Martha, St. Mary and St. Photina (supposedly the name of the woman at the well in John 4), please pray for us.  I especially ask for St. Peter's intercession for our Holy Father, the Pope.

May the grace of God fill our hearts with His love, joy and peace, today and always.  Amen.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus)


Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus), drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012


Eustoma grandiflorum, Texas Bluebell
growing wild

Eustoma represents a genus of 3 species belonging to the family Gentianaceae and can be found in the warm areas of Texas, Mexico, the Caribbean and northern South America. They thrive in grasslands and places of disturbed ground.

Eustoma grandiflorum is one of the best known of the species and is valued because of the large number of cultivars that have been developed from this species. The cultivated plant is frequently listed as Lisianthus.  In North America the common names include Texas Bluebell or Prairie Gentian. As well, the cultivars have been developed in colours such as white and pink.

The meaning of eustoma (eu = beautiful, good....stoma = mouth) is good tasting or well spoken, but in the case of this plant it may mean beautiful mouth referring to the extraordinary colors of the flower as you look down into the "funnel" shape.  The word "grandiflorum" included in the scientific name of a flower -- indicates large blooms.


Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus), drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Topographic software applied which gives the white lines

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SOME INTERESTING FACTS


A friend recently sent me one of those emails with a number of interesting facts illustrated with photos.  Here are a few of the ones I found particularly interesting.  Who knew we were so smart in Canada?!! (see 2nd photo caption)


Canada contains a majority of the world's fresh water. 
What an awesome gift and responsibility!


Over 50% of the Canadian population has some post-secondary education making Canada
one of the best educated countries in the world!



This is a very sad photo.  What you are looking at is the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  I am sure it is obvious to you which side is which, but just in case you are not certain, the treeless side is Haiti. 



Most of the world's oxygen comes from the vast expanses of forest and mountains found in Siberia in Russia -- fortunately we all get to share this fresh air!



Which of the world's countries has the fewest people per square mile?  Mongolia is the winneer with only 4 people per square mile; Hong Kong, on the other hand, has, in some sections, as many as 340,000 people per square mile.



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SUKI AND SALLIE

Well, Suki has not been a very contented cat these past few days and I am not
I wonder what is on her mind?  Does she
want to play or is she seeing something
I can't see?

really sure what her problem is.  Let me explain.

Everything will seem to be going well.  Suki has had her normal amount of food at an acceptable time of day and has apparently settled down to sleep as usual.  Suddenly, after about half an hour in her favourite bed, she awakens, gets up, looks around, maybe sits back down for a moment and washes her paw, gets up again, gets out of her bed, tries to talk me into feeding her (although I know she can't be hungry) and then she begins to wander. 

Wandering for Suki involves going from one special place to another and making a half-hearted attempt to misbehave.  For example, she will go to the big "S" and paw at it for a minute -- just long enough to get a response from me.  Next she gets into my desk chair (if I am not at the computer) and starts to sharpen her claws on the fabric -- it makes a really neat popping noise which she seems to like.  Once again, she does this just long enough to get a response from me and then she moves on.  Now she begins to wander in earnest -- going from room to room while meowing the entire time.  This is not a frantic meow, but rather a  meow that reminds me of myself when I sometimes am doing a task while talking to myself the entire time about what I am doing.

If, at this point, I go and ask her what is wrong, she simply sits, looks at me and meows.  I haven't a clue as to what she is talking about so I try to guess.  I check the ceiling for a fly that may have wandered in somehow and could be causing her unrest.  I listen carefully to see if there are noises coming from the hallway -- these sometimes disturb her and cause her to be restless.  Occasionally, I will even go so far as to offer her additional food, but, fortunately, she rarely shows much interest.  Eventually, thank goodness, she seems to get tired and finds a new place to sleep and settles down again.  I, on the other hand, am left feeling very unsettled and wishing it was possible for humans beings to learn to speak the cat language -- or at least understand it! 


I, on the other hand, continue to do very well for an old, decrepit lady!

I have been able to go to the gym regularly even though I am still not able to return to my "pre-December 14, 2011 bad fall" status.  One of the personal trainers I was speaking with at the gym on the weekend said that it would take me at least three months, if not longer, to get back to where I was at that time.  So I am trying to be patient with myself and just keep at it.

I continue to have lots of requests for art work -- mostly from friends -- but actual work nonetheless.  I am also starting to put together my 2013 flower calendar.  It will have all the dates for both Canadian and U.S. events as well as some of the major religious holidays.  If anyone out there is interested in having a copy, please let me know as soon as possible.  The cost is $10 per wall calendar and it will feature one of my flower drawings for each month.
At this time, I will only be ordering enough copies for those people who always want one of my calendars -- so the earlier you let me know the better.

As usual, my guardian angel has been working hard to keep me from falling and, as well, I feel myself well-protected by all my Heavenly friends such as St. John of God.  I don't know why God is so good to me, but He is, and I am totally grateful.  My motto remains:  "in all things give thanks".

And now I ask that the peace and joy of God will fill and surround each and every person who reads this posting.  May something of the Divine Wisdom shine through my stumbling words and bless you greatly.  Amen.

On last note:  today is the optional memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong and companions.  He was a Chinese priest who, in 1815, along with 119 Chinese Catholics were tortured and martyred for refusing to abandon their faith.  At this present time when the situation between the Vatician and the Chinese government is so unsettled (the government has appointed another Bishop to the government-approved Church), let us all pray, asking St. Augustine Zhao Rong and his companions to pray for the Church in China that there may finally be freedom for all Christians there -- with no government interference.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

St. Gianna Beretta Molla

St. Gianna Beretta Molla, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
This drawing shows the three children Gianna and Pietro had at the time she became
pregnant with her fourth and last child

Today I want to show you three different drawings of a wonderful saint of our time -- St. Gianna Beretta Molla -- a wife, mother, physician and devout Catholic.  In her life and death she shows us how to live our faith so that everyone who sees us will see not us, but Jesus.  First, though, let me tell you briefly the story of her life of heroic virtue.

Gianna Beretta was born in Milan on October 4, 1922 into a loving Catholic home. As she grew into a young woman, she diligently dedicated herself to studies during the years of her secondary and university education, while, at the same time, applying her faith through generous apostolic service among the youth of Catholic Action and charitable work among the elderly and needy as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

After earning degrees in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Pavia in 1949, she opened a medical clinic in 1950. She specialized in Paediatrics at the University of Milan in 1952 and thereafter gave special attention to mothers, babies, the elderly and poor.

She became engaged to Pietro Molla and was radiant with joy and happiness during the time of their engagement, for which she thanked and praised the Lord. They were married on September 24, 1955, in the Basilica of St. Martin in Magenta, and she became a happy wife. In November 1956, to her great joy, she became the mother of Pierluigi, in December 1957 of Mariolina; in July 1959 of Laura. With simplicity and equilibrium she harmonized the demands of mother, wife, doctor and her passion for life. In September 1961 towards the end of the second month of her fourth pregnancy, she was touched by suffering and the mystery of pain; she had developed a fibroma in her uterus.

Before the required surgical operation, and conscious of the risk that her continued pregnancy brought, she pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child she was carrying, and entrusted herself to prayer and Providence. The life was saved, for which she thanked the Lord. She spent the seven months remaining until the birth of the child in incomparable strength of spirit and unrelenting dedication to her tasks as mother and doctor. 

A few days before the child was due, although trusting as always in Providence, she was ready to give her life in order to save that of her child: “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child - I insist on it. Save him”. On the morning of April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you", St. Gianna died. She was 39 years old. Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer.

“Conscious immolation", was the phrase used by Pope Paul VI to define the act of Blessed Gianna, remembering her at the Sunday Angelus of September 23, 1973, as: “A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed her own, with conscious immolation”. The Holy Father in these words clearly refers to Christ on Calvary and in the Eucharist.

Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, during the international Year of the Family. Her husband and children were present.   St. Gianna is the patron of mothers, physicians and pre-born babies.


St. Gianna Beretta Molla, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
This is the same drawing as above only St. Gianna is holding her daughter
and the other family members are not present.
I have wanted to draw an icon on St. Gianna ever since I first became acquainted with her -- through watching a film about her life by Fr. Tom Rosica on Salt and Light TV.  Those folks produced a wonderful DVD about the life of St. Gianna and her family, including interviews with her husband and adult children.  The DVD is entitled LOVE IS A CHOICE and can be purchased from www.saltandlighttv.org/shopping

Anyway, I have yet to do a drawing that satisfies.  Each effort seems to fall far short of expressing how I feel about this contemporary saint.  Just below, you see a photo of St. Gianna with her husband and son.  For me it expresses just a bit of joy this couple experienced because of their openness to life.


St. Gianna Beretta Molla with husband Pietro and son


St. Gianna Beretta Molla with daughter
Above is St. Gianna with one of her daughters up in the mountains she and Pietro loved so much -- the place they and their children loved to spend their free time.  How beautifully the mountains express our journey to God.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
This drawing represents St. Gianna's and Pietro's desire on their wedding day to make their
family like the holy family. The icon of the Holy Family in the background was done by me in 2009. The names of her children are shown on the ribbons of her bouquet

Above is another effort I made to try to express what I feel about this saint.  From the sentiments expressed in the letters they wrote to one another during their engagement, it seemed to me that they wanted to live like the Holy Family -- with Jesus always at the centre of their family life.

Below is a photograph taken on their wedding day -- the day that actually entered into that covenant relationship with God -- the Sacrament of Matrimony.  They both felt marriage was their vocation and they had been preparing for it for many years.  They brought this commitment and dedication with them at they met at the altar that day.


St. Gianna and Pietro on their wedding day
 St. Gianna Beretta Molla, pray for us.

(By the way, if  you really feel that one of these drawings expresses something special about this saint, please let me know.  I need your input as I am still not satisfied with my efforts thus far and plan to continue trying to draw an icon of St. Gianna)

___________________________________________________

UPDATE, ETC.


Well, first I must show you the latest photo of Braden Bozidar Pitt.  I think he is probably about 5 days old in this photo.  He continues to look very wise and solemn.  I am not sure what this portends or if it is only a matter of needing a good pat on the back.  Whatever the case may be, to me he grows more beautiful and wonderful daily.  Of course, I realize that I may be somewhat prejudiced in this matter!  Anyway, here he is...


What a handsome fellow -- and so wise looking.  By the way,
I have learned that Bozidar means "gift from God" -- and that he is indeed.
 My friend, Karen, sent me a photo this week of a cat.  Karen is the friend I used to meet daily for coffee.  We had been meeting this way for a number of years before she decided to move to Vancouver.  We have maintained our friendship through the magic of the Internet.  Recently, she came across a photo of a cat which she felt very much reminded her of me.  I used to be such an alert person -- the kind of person who could sit down with a book and read non-stop for four hours.  Now, well, take a look at this photo and you will have a good idea of how I read books these days.

Just change the hair colour a bit and remove the tail and you would have a perfect picture
of me reading a book!


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SUKI AND SALLIE


Black cat in a shoe box
 I have posted these two images here to show you the similarities between a black cat and black sports shoes.
Black sports shoe
The reason for doing this is to demonstrate how easily one could be mistaken for another in dim light -- such as the low light level you would find inside a coat closet which depends on a light source from the hallway ceiling light.  These factors recently played a part in giving me one of the worst frights I have had in some time.  Let me explain.

I normally keep the black sport shoes I wear to the gym on top of a storage box which sits in the bottom of the coat closet near the entrance to my apartment.  This closest has heavy sliding doors which normally stay closed.  Thus, when I am getting ready to go to the gym I simply open one door, reach in, grab my shoes, close the door and then proceed to put my shoes on -- usually the last act I perform prior to leaving for the gym.

Well, a few days ago as I was rushing to get to the gym before the lunch time crowd arrived, I opened the door of the closet as usual, saw what I thought was my gym shoes sitting in their usual place on the box and quickly grabbed them.  Well, as you have probably guessed by now, what I grabbed turned out not to be my gym shoes but a black, very upset cat who had been dragged from deep sleep by my quick motion.  I do not know who was more alarmed -- me or Suki. 

Of course, it felt for a moment as though I was going to start having heart problems again as my heart gave a lurch because of the fright I experienced when picking up shoes that moved and yowled and hissed.  It was so unexpected that I really had a difficult time for a second as I tried to figure out what was happening.  Once I realized that I had grabbed my cat by mistake, my next question was "what was she doing there in the first place?"

Somehow she had managed to open the door at the opposite end of the closet and make her way over all manner of boxes and such until she reached my "shoe box" where she managed to squeeze herself into a tiny space between the door and my sports shoes.  There she had gone to sleep and was sleeping soundly until suddenly awakened by my hand grabbing her and pulling her roughly from her special spot.

My immediate reaction was to yell in fright, but then as I realized what was going on, I begin to yell in aggravation, calling that cat various unsavoury names while she began to lick herself furiously as though trying to remove all traces of my hands from her coat.  Within a moment, though, the fright response subsided and then I began to laugh at the antics of this crazy cat I am privileged to live with.  Suki, for her part, decided that since she was up she might as well ask if it was time for her to eat again!

I was late getting to the gym, but I really didn't mind as I kept chuckling whenever I recalled Suki's latest misadventure.

As for me, I went to the cardiologist today for a final follow-up.  As she said, I really did not need to see her again, but she always likes to make certain that even those patients who end up with a complete reduction in symptoms have not experienced a return or worsening of the original symptoms that brought them in to see her in the first place. 

I had to have another ECG and so I asked her about the results.  She told me that they were perfectly normal -- that they were the results one would usually find when doing an ECG on a young adult!  My heart seems to not only have been healed, but made healthy beyond my expectations.  Thanks be to St. John of God for his intercession on my behalf and thanks be to Almighty God for hearing St. John's prayers and the prayers of all my friends and family who were praying for me at that time.  I still feel very humbled by this entire experience.

Otherwise, things are going well for me other than my usual complaints.  I almost had another fall, but my guardian angel seems to be working overtime as I was able to catch myself just in the nick of time.  So I continue to sleep when necessary for as long as necessary which leaves me less time to do all the things I would like to do!  But I simply trust that I will mange to get those things accomplished that really need accomplishing.  God still holds me in the palm of His hand.

May the peace, joy and love of God fill the hearts of us all so that we may witness to His goodness and mercy each day of our lives.

"The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day."
St. Gianna Beretta Molla, pray for us.