Thursday, 29 November 2012

Holy Prophet Isaiah

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

This coming Sunday is "new year's day" in the Church.  We will be celebrating the first Sunday of Advent -- the beginning of the Church year.  During the season of Advent, we will listen often to the words from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah in the readings at Mass.  While the scholars tell us that the Book of Isaiah was probably written by at least two different authors, if not three, I still like to think of the prophet as one person -- the one whose story of the call from God to be a prophet is found in the sixth chapter of the Book of Isaiah.

There are numerous passages in Isaiah which are considered to be prophecies about the coming Messiah -- passages fulfilled by the angel's message to Our Lady and the Virgin birth of our Saviour -- Jesus Christ.  One of the most frequently quoted is the one in the icon above from Isaiah 7:14.  Even though some of the modern translators prefer to use the word "maiden" or "young girl" rather than the traditionally used "virgin", I don't think it really matters.  As in that day and place if a maiden or young girl was not a virgin, she was quickly dispatched by a mob throwing rocks at her until she was dead!

So what does Advent mean anyway?  Let's see what a Church publishing house has to say:
"The word Advent derives from the Latin word meaning coming. The Lord is coming. We may reflect that every year at this time we celebrate his coming , so that in a sense we can lose the feeling of expectancy and joyful anticipation, because at the end of the season, everything seems to return to pretty much the same routine. If that is the case, then our preparation may have been lacking and we have therefore been robbed of much of the true meaning of this season. 
During Advent we recall the history of God's people and reflect on how the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament were fulfilled. This gives us a background for the present. Today we can reflect on the past track record of God and so begin to understand what it means to us now for the sake of what is to come, in our own future and that of our world."
 © Liguori Publications Excerpt from Advent...

As the ancient hymn says:
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.

Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.


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BRADEN AT 5 MONTHS

Braden celebrated his 5 month anniversary this week.  I cannot believe that he is almost 6 months old.  How quickly the time passes.  Too soon he will be walking and then he won't want to let his Aunt Sallie sit and hold him in her arms so that she can admire him and marvel in the beauty of his creation.  Below are two new photos which show how much he has grown.

"I am beginning to think there must be something special about me -- people are always taking my photo!"


"People say I look like my Papa.  What do you think?  Am I really that handsome?"



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SUKI AND SALLIE

"Sorry, Suki, I guess I just can't see
the happiness shining through!"
This is how poor Suki looks these days after experiencing the 4th day of being on a diet.  If you should come to visit me, you will hear a tale of woe from her all about how badly she is being treated and how I am starving her to death!

Actually, so far, it hasn't been nearly as difficult as I had thought it might be.  The idea of feeding her the largest meal of the day at bedtime seems to make all the difference.  I also think it protects me from having "practical jokes" played on me by this cat during the nighttime hours.  Of course, she is not happy during the day when she only gets very small amounts of her wet food, but she is eating more of her dry food which is "diet" food for cats her age.  This is better for her, I think, and will hopefully encourage her to like her dry food more since it is, while being good quality, less expensive than the canned food.

So, Suki has been reasonably well behaved over these past four days.  Of course, I must admit that her behaviour does make me just a bit nervous as I keep waiting for her to do something extremely naughty like turning on the TV full blast while I am sound asleep!  Don't laugh.  I don't know if I told you about the time she practically scared the life out of me one night by turning on the sound for the TV -- but it wasn't at full volume.

Let me explain:  A few weeks ago, when I had first come home from the hospital, I slept very fitfully and so I tended to turn on the TV and watch it until I would fall asleep.  I subscribe to the two Catholic channels available here in Toronto so I know there will always be something on worth watching.  Anyway, this one night as I felt myself falling asleep, I pushed the mute button but the TV remained on. 

Sometime during the night, I was suddenly awakened by people having a conversation right near me.  It took me a couple of frightening minutes to realize that it was the television.  As I became fully awake, trying to figure out how this had happened, I realized that when Suki had climbed up into my lap, she had somehow stepped on the remote and one of the buttons she had pushed was the mute button.  I later asked her if she had done this on purpose, but she just looked at me as though she did not understand what I was talking about!  She is a pretty sneaky girl...

As for Sallie, well, I remain pretty much the same.  There has been some mild improvement in the amount of sensation returning to my right cheek and jaw, but the area is still not normal.  The left side has improved so that it is almost back to normal.  My eyes and my bottom lip both remain as problematic as ever.

Finally, however, I have an appointment with the plastic surgeon.  The first appointment they gave me was on the 14th, my birthday, and this was a disappointment to me.  However, I am suffering enough from my eyes so that I was willing to take the appointment on my birthday.  But, thankfully, the secretary telephoned me on Monday to ask if I could come in on the 21st instead.  Even though the appointment is for 8:30 a.m. I will gladly be there on time as I want to see about getting my eyelids back to "normal" as quickly as I can.

Otherwise, I just keep keeping on.  I find, as always, that working on the art helps me lose myself in some sort of contemplative space that enables me to be less aware of the pain and discomfort even though I am often weeping copiously as I try to see with my poor old eyes.  I am just grateful that I can still do anything at all on the computer.  Typing is fairly easy for me as I can do that with my eyes closed and then catch any mistakes with the Google spell checker later.

Well, my friends, here I am at the end of another posting.  I pray that all my regular readers are doing well and I also pray for all those who happen across this blog, asking that God will bless them.  May the holy prophet, Isaiah, pray for us, asking God to enable us to say as he did:  "here I am, Lord, send me." (chapter 6).

And may the peace of Almighty God surround us each and everyone and keep us in His care until we meet again.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Orchids that look like something else


"Pansy Orchid", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 
Miltoniopsis, the Pansy Orchid, is aptly named: the flowers look like a large pansy. They are often confused with the related (and similar) Miltonia orchids, and many people use the two genus names interchangeably by accident. The two are occasionally hybridized to produce a Milmiltonia. These orchids originate in South America; there are six species, from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela.  The flowers are fragrant and last about 4-5 weeks.  As well, they are evergreen and will bloom prolifically year after year.




"Dracula simia", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 
Are these (1)orchids or (2)a group of some sort of monkeys?  In spite of the way they look, the correct answer is no. 1.  This gorgeously creepy orchid was named Dracula simia by the botanist Luer in 1978. Luer said in an interview that had he known how popular Dracula and the whole concept of vampires was going to become that he definitely would have chosen a different name!  It is known commonly as the Monkey Orchid, but it is wiser to use its scientific name of Dracula simia as there are a large group of Draculas and many of them are referred to commonly as the "monkey flower".  Dracula literally means 'little dragon' (from the diminutive form of Latin, draco, meaning dragon, but being diminutive it means little dragon) referring to the strange aspect of the two long spurs of the two long sepals.  Whereas the specific epithet simia translates to "monkey".  The genus Dracula contains 120+ known species. Dracula simia is from the cloud forests of southeast Ecuador, and Peru where it grows at elevations between 1000-2000 meters (3250-6500 feet).

Because of the way the orchids of the Dracula "group" look, there have been all sorts of ridiculous "news" articles about why they look the way they do and even stories of  sinister events that have occurred because of these orchids.  If you read something about them in one of those "newspapers" while waiting in the grocery check-out line that seems unbelievable, it probably is!  The same holds true, of course, regarding emails where flowers, with some help from Photoshop can be made to resemble almost anything!




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 BRADEN IS BACK!

The boy is back and I am one very happy unofficial "auntie".  He is, of course, looking even more beautiful than ever.  Just take a look at the three photos below:


"I'm ready to get up, Mommy!  What adventures are we going to have today?"



"Wow!  My Dad is home today and he is sharing our adventure.  I love it when he carries me this way.  See our matching hats?  I love dressing like my Dad."




"I  am such a lucky guy... it's a beautiful day... my Mom and Dad are both here and we are all so happy together.  My life is so good and I am very grateful.  I hear that there are lots of kids out there who don't have so many blessings.  Well, when I grow up, I am going to help make the world a better place for everyone." 


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ART FOR SALE


It would appear that none of my readers is particularly interested in trying to win a free print of one of my drawings as no one responded to my offer.  Several postings back I included the photo below with an offer that if you correctly guessed which of the drawings in the photo were ones by me, you could have a free copy of one of my drawings ready for framing.  Oh, well, I guess I needed to learn a bit more humility!

Anyway, all six of my prints have now been sold, raising money for the seniors in Kingston.  And, since the prints have been sold, there is no longer any secrecy involved so I can tell you which drawings are mine in the photo below.

Starting at the left hand side of the third row down from the top, you see approximately 1/3 of a drawing of mine -- the New Mexico village.  Going to the right from there you see two of my flower drawings -- Brenda's flowers and Orange Poppies.  The other three included the Chinese dragon which I drew back during Chinese New Year.  I am very happy that I could help the Seniors Association raise some money for their good work.



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SUKI AND SALLIE

Add caption
Just look at that face!  Can you read what Suki is saying?  She is obviously not pleased with me because I have disturbed her.  She was sleeping soundly when I decided that I wanted a new photo of her in her favourite chair (which used to be my favourite chair!).  She is now awake and barely tolerating my intrusion.  The look says it all.

She doesn't know it yet, but she is going to get even more unhappy with me.  I have just discovered that Suki has gained almost 2 lbs. since the beginning of this year!  This simply will not do.  That weight has to come back down and like many people on diets, she can be miserable when she doesn't get fed.  I am thinking that I will start feeding her most of her day's supply of canned food shortly before it is time for me to go to bed.  That way, she will be feeling quite happy and satisfied for at least 4 or 5 hours afterwards and I will be able to sleep without fear.  Yes, fear -- you know how vindictive Suki can be when she doesn't get her way and it is always risky to go to sleep when she is really hungry!  I would guess that we will both be miserable during her diet, but I cannot, in good conscience, allow her to gain weight as it will shorten her life and I absolutely don't want that!

Now, as for me, I am continuing to improve just a bit each day; however, my two trouble spots continue to give me grief.

I have made up my mind that I will call the ophthalmologist office tomorrow and see what is happening about the appointment with the plastic surgeon as my eyes are  causing the most problems.   My drooping lower lip may be unsightly, but it really doesn't cause me problems.  But my eyes are another matter indeed. 

In order to prepare this posting, I am typing most of it with my eyes almost or completely closed, depending on the spell check to show me where I have put in the wrong letter or left out a letter, etc.  Thank goodness I was taught to type properly all those many years ago so that I don't have to look at the keyboard when I am typing!

Still, I try to remember my motto from St. Paul:  "In all things give thanks..."  So, as I continue to spend my days quietly at home, I give thanks that I am able to do so and that I have so many people helping me, offering to help me and just coming to visit me so that I don't feel quite so isolated.  And then there's all you folks out there who read my blog and communicate with me about various matters of interest.  God has filled my life with such richness -- how can I help but be grateful.  

May the joy of God be with us all... and on this Sunday of Christ the King, let us pray that the King of Peace will bring peace to all mankind.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

St. Peregrine

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

At the moment, there seem to be far too many people in my life suffering from cancer -- that dreaded disease.  As a consequence, I am spending a lot more time asking St. Peregrine to intercede for these acquaintances and friends.  Thank goodness that God has given us friends in Heaven who seem to have been assigned a particular apostolate.  I am especially grateful that God has deigned to tell us, through the Church, just who these friends are.  Now, let me tell you about dear St. Peregrine just in case you are not familiar with him.  Sooner or later every one's life is touched by cancer in some way.

Peregrine was born in Forli, Italy, around 1265. At that time, Forli was governed by the Pope as part of the Papal States, and Peregrine grew up in a family that was actively involved in the opposition, or anti-papal party. Because of anti-papal activity, the city was under the church penalty of interdict, meaning that Mass and the Sacraments could not be celebrated there.

St. Philip Benizi, Prior General of the Servants of Mary, went to Forli to preach reconciliation. Young Peregrine, very intense in his political fervour, not only heckled Philip during his preaching, but, in fact, struck him. Philip, instead of responding with anger and violence to the attack, turned and forgave Peregrine. This encounter with Philip is said to have dramatically changed Peregrine. He began channeling his energy into good works and eventually joined the Servants of Mary in Siena, Italy.

He returned to Forli, where he spent the rest of his life, dedicating himself to the sick, the poor, and those on the fringes of society. He also imposed on himself the penance of standing whenever it was not necessary to sit. This led to varicose veins, which later deteriorated into an open sore on his leg, and was eventually diagnosed as cancer.

Peregrine's leg wound became so serious that the local surgeon decided to amputate the leg. The night before the surgery, Peregrine prayed before the image of the crucified Christ, and when he awoke, the wound was healed and his leg saved. He lived another 20 years, dying on May 1, 1345, and the age of about 80. Peregrine was canonized on December 27, 1726, and has been named the Patron Saint of those suffering from cancer.* [Feast Day May 1st]



St Peregrine -- Prayer for A Cancer Patient
O great St. Peregrine, you have been called "The Mighty", "The Wonder Worker" because of the numerous miracles which you obtained from God for those who have turned to you in their need. For so many years, you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fibre of our being. You turned to God when the power of human beings could do no more, and you were favoured with the vision of Jesus coming down from His cross to heal your affliction. I now ask God to heal this sick person whom I entrust to you. (NAME) Aided by your powerful intercession, I shall sing with Mary a hymn of gratitude to God for His great goodness and mercy. Amen.

*Biographical information taken from Servites web site at http://www.servite.org/SaintPeregrine/Biography-St-Peregrine.aspx

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One month ago tomorrow, I was packing to go to the hospital for surgery.  Even though I knew that October the 22nd was a special day for me, I pushed that knowledge aside in the rush to prepare both for my hospital stay and for the arrival of my friend, Brenda.  What was special about the 22nd?  October 22nd is the feast day assigned to Blessed Pope John Paul the II.  If I recall correctly, it was the day that he was elected to be our Holy Father in 1978.

Icon, "Blessed Pope John Paul II", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

I had actually prepared a new icon (above) for his feast day, but since I did not have an opportunity to use it then, I am using it now in anticipation of the 22nd of November.  It is the American Thanksgiving and Blessed Pope John Paul II is definitely one of the things I am most thankful for in my life as his writings and teaching brought me so deeply into the our wonderful Catholic faith in two particular areas:  realizing more completely that it is our Lord Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, who meets us and feeds us in the Holy Eucharist; and, that suffering is a great gift for me and for the Church when offered to God in union with the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is my third attempt at preparing an icon of our late Holy Father.


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 HAPPY THANKSGIVING and MY FAMILY

If I can just hide out until tomorrow night,
I will have survived another Thanksgiving
-- and you better believe, I will be very thankful!
Happy Thanksgiving to all my family and friends in the U.S.A.  I wish I could be with them tomorrow -- not that I really feel like eating a big dinner, but it would just be wonderful to see them all once again.

I got an email from my sister today with some photos attached.  Here is one of the pictures she sent:

My sister cheering on her granddaughter
who came in 4th out of 100 girls!













Look at the beautiful, mild weather they are having down there.  Now if I just had a magic carpet, I could set that thing on cruise control and head on down to the "sweet, sunny south".  Ah, well, it makes a nice day dream!!



My sister's grandson, Daniel
Here he is standing in the Smokies
a few weeks ago...


My sister's grandson, Cole
He has a booth at the school bazaar
where he is selling "Panther Rocks" --
I wonder if I will get one of those
for Christmas?!!























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SUKI AND SALLIE
Suki getting a neck rub from her Aunt Jess.
Here is a new photo of Suki with another friend of mine.  She is getting quite chummy with all my friends now.  I think having Brenda here for those 5 days when I was in the hospital caused Suki to loosen up quite a bit.  She seems much more comfortable now with visitors.

Of course, she is still up to her old tricks.  Today I had a visit from the friend who used to be terribly afraid of cats.  She has obviously gotten better, but somehow, like all cats, Suki knows.  Soon after my friend (I'll call her K) arrived, Suki came out of the bedroom, paid no attention to me, but headed straight for K.  After sniffing K's feet for a few moments, Suki then proceeded to get up on the sofa and park herself right behind K, sitting on the back of the sofa and staying there until it was time for K to leave.  How did Suki know?

No one has ever been able to figure out how cats know which people are afraid of them or don't like them and then why they make a beeline for that very person and insist on staying right beside them.  Maybe the cats know about how irrational fears can be overcome by subjecting the person to small doses of what they fear, starting in safe environments!  Who knows how much these strange creatures know about us and how much is instinct...

As for me, I am doing pretty much the same so there is no need to repeat things.  I keep hoping that I will awaken one morning and be all better, but so far that hasn't happened.  Please keep praying for me and sending good thoughts my way.

May the peace of God be with us all.

St. Peregrine, please pray for all those suffering from cancer.

Blessed Pope John Paul II, please pray for us.


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Orchids and Roses

"Phalaenopsis bellina", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

 Today I want to show two new drawings of flowers. 

Phalaenopsis bellina is a species of orchid from Borneo with cream flowers and a pink centre and is fragrant - smells like lemon sherbet!  Formerly it was known as Phal violacea bellina.

Phalaenopsis (from Latin bellus, beautiful) was also regarded for a long time as the form "Borneo" of Phalaenopsis violacea, this Phalaenopsis is now considered a species on its own. Phalaenopsis bellina differs from Phalaenopsis violacea only by its colouring, some morphological details and its different perfume.  Personally, I would think that having different fragrances would have caused P. bellina to be a separate species from the beginning!  Oh well, these decisions were made by men and, I say this very kindly, but men are not really the most knowledgeable about perfumes in the first place!


"Rosa 'Osiria'", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

The second drawing is of a rather spectacular rose -- a cultivar by the name of "Osiria".

'Osiria' is a Hybrid Tea, or large-flowered bush rose with dark green leaves and, in summer and autumn, fragrant, double flowers with deep red inside the petals and silver-white on the outside of each petal.

The colour of the actual Osiria rose can vary from pale red to deep burgundy -- the richer the colour, the more impressive the flower, obviously.  The person drawing a picture of this rose can use the more dramatic colouring as I chose to do in the drawing above.  The rich colour combined with the pale colouring on the reverse of the petal makes a very powerful artistic statement.


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6-SQUARED

You may recall my telling you about my involvement in a charity event in Kingston, Ontario.  It is a fund raiser for seniors called "6-Squared" -- the reason being that all the entries must be 6 x 6 inches.  I was asked to submit 6 entries, which I did through the kindness of my friend, Sr. Kay who lives in Kingston.  Recently, there was an article in the local newspaper, the Whig Standard.  The article included a few photos -- one of which I have posted below.  The photo includes a section of the display of the items on which the public will be bidding. 

If you look carefully, you can see at least two of the items submitted by me.  Since the artist's name will not be revealed until the item has been purchased, I don't want to identify my work just in case someone who is thinking of purchasing an item should happen to read this blog posting!  Instead, why don't you take a look at the photo and see if you can identify anything you think is done by my hand.  Then send me an e-mail about it.  If you are correct, then I would be glad to send you a print of the very item you identified!

"Can you guess which prints were made from drawings of mine?"



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SUKI AND SALLIE


"Suki gives me the look!"
Today has been one of those days where Suki has given me "the look" 
numerous times.

Why?  Simply because she has decided that she needs to increase her food intake!

There have been days like this before and we have gotten through them and things have returned to normal once again.  So what is normal for this cat?

Well, normally, Suki has her food at certain regular times and then she retires to one of her many beds where she sleeps until it is time for her next meal.  Sometimes this varies because she decides she wants to pull some toys out of her toy basket and play for a while before settling down. 

Occasionally, however, a day will come along when Suki decides she wants to change her routine and the part she wants to change is always the same:  she wants to increase the amount of food by either getting larger servings or being fed more frequently or both.  When she fails to manage to achieve this change, then she spends the day sort of glowering at me and everything around her. In fact, she gives me "the look" so frequently that I almost forget how she looks when she is happily content!!

So, today I have noticed that every time I get up to get myself something to drink, to answer the phone or the door or do any other ordinary task, that there is a black object practically attached to my leg!  Suki is following me again, trying to herd me into the kitchen and making the occasional pleading sound.  It is actually interesting to observe the various techniques she uses in an effort to convince me to feed her.  When she realizes that nothing is going to work and that my "no" really means no, she gets "the look" on her face, stalks off with her tail held high and with a loud sigh, she plops herself down in one of her resting spots where she can see and be seen.  I sometimes pass by where she is sitting and say something like, "hello, little kitty-cat" just to see what response I get.  I get "the look" and a twitch of her tail! 

Eventually, another legitimate feeding time arrives and then, for a while, "the look" disappears and all is well again!  Ah, the joys of living with Miz Suki!!

Now, for the latest about Sallie and her ongoing concerns...

I saw the surgeon (the one who did my recent surgery) this past Thursday.  He continues to be pleased with the progress I am making.  And, I have to admit that over the past month I have improved.  He did agree with me, however, that there are several areas that do not seem to be improving:  my lower lip and my eyes.  He did say that it often can take up to six months before all those traumatized nerves recover to their fullest extent, but I would imagine that this is the same message that all patients are given.

At any rate, I still plan to see the plastic (eye) surgeon when the appointment arrives and discuss my options with him as it is my eyes that currently trouble me the most.  It would be such a relief to have them working properly again.

Otherwise, I continue to need a lot of rest.  My ability to eat crunchier things is increasing which pleases me since I do like crunchy toast in the mornings.  As well, I am almost off the extra pain meds that I have been taking since the surgery.  I would imagine that in the next week or so that I will be off of them completely.  So, slowly, slowly, things are gradually healing. 

I do want to say again how much I welcome your prayers and good wishes.  Friends who have called or written tell me that they continue to pray for me and I am sure that your prayers and the prayers of all the saints I have asked to intercede are helping immensely.  I have grown ever more aware of how precious and effective prayers can be so long as every prayer is prefaced by the sincere desire that "Thy Will be done."

It is now time for me to go and spend some quality time with the Lord.  It is now almost 3 p.m. and, as many of you know,  the Hour of Divine Mercy begins at 3 p.m. each day.  The hour that traditiion tells us that our Lord Jesus died on the cross.

I pray that the peace of God will be with us all -- now and always.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Saints of Molokai

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

This is another icon that I have struggled with mightily.  I intended originally to present St. Damien as most iconographers do: at the end of his life when the leprosy has already done so much damage.  However, I kept feeling that this was too small a part of his life to make it totally representative of him.  What I really wanted to do was to show St. Damien as a young, healthy priest so that we could have a better sense of the risk he knowingly took out of love for the Hawaiian people.  Finally, I ended up trying to combine the two concepts as you can see above but I still made the primary focus the young, healthy Damien who laid down his life for his brothers and sisters.

Born Jozef De Veuster (1840), St. Damien was a Roman Catholic priest from Belgium and member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a missionary religious institute. He won recognition for his ministry to people with leprosy (also known as Hansen's disease), who had been placed under a government-sanctioned medical quarantine on the island of Molokai in the Kingdom of Hawaii.

After sixteen years caring for the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of those in the leper colony, he eventually contracted and died of the disease, and is considered a "martyr of charity". He was the tenth person recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church to have lived, worked, and/or died in what is now the United States. In both the Latin Rite and the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, Damien is venerated as a saint, one who is holy and worthy of public veneration and invocation.

Upon his beatification by Pope John Paul II in Rome on June 4, 1995, Blessed Damien was granted a memorial feast day, which is celebrated on May 10. Father Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday October 11, 2009. The Catholic Encyclopedia calls him "the Apostle of the Lepers", and elsewhere he is known as “St. Damien the Leper”.

"Not without fear and loathing," Pope Benedict underlined, "Father Damian made the choice to go on the island of Molokai in the service of lepers who were there, abandoned by all. So he exposed himself to the disease of which they suffered. With them he felt at home. The servant of the Word became a suffering servant, leper with the lepers, during the last four years of his life."

St. Damien wrote during his years at Molokai:  “Having no doubts about the true nature of the disease, I am calm, resigned, and very happy in the midst of my people. God certainly knows what is best for my sanctification and I gladly repeat: ‘Thy will be done.’” "


Icon, "St. (Mother) Marianne Cope", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

I was so glad to see the recent canonization of Mother Marianne Cope.  She so bravely took over the running of health care on Molokai (especially the care of girls and women suffering from leprosy) after the death of St. Damien, a death caused by leprosy!  That is the reason I included the icon of St. Damien in the background of this icon in an effort to show the close connection of these two holy religious.  In the relationship of these two we can see just a bit of how the Spirit works in those hearts which are open to Him.

Mother Marianne Cope, O.S.F., also known as the Saint Marianne of Molokai, (January 23, 1838 – August 9, 1918) was a German-born American who was a member of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Syracuse, New York. Known for her charitable works and virtuous deeds, she spent many years caring for the lepers on the island of Molokai in Hawaii. Despite direct contact with the patients over many years, Cope was not afflicted by the disease, considered by some faithful to be miraculous. In 2005, she was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI. Cope was declared a saint by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012.

In 1883, Mother Marianne, by then herself Superior General of the congregation, received a plea for help in caring for leprosy sufferers from King Kalākaua of Hawaii. More than 50 religious institutes had already declined his request for Sisters to do this. She responded to the letter enthusiastically: "I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen ones, whose privilege it will be, to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders... I am not afraid of any disease, hence it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned ‘lepers.’"

With Mother Marianne as supervisor, the Sisters' task was to manage Kakaako Branch Hospital on Oahu, which served as a receiving station for Hansen's disease patients gathered from all over the islands. Here the more severe cases were processed and shipped to the island of Molokai for confinement in the settlement at Kalawao, and then later at Kalaupapa. In November 1888 she moved to Kalaupapa, both to care for the dying Father Damien, SS.CC. — who was already known internationally for his heroic care of the leper colony there — and to assume his burdens. She had met him shortly after her arrival in Hawaii, when, while still in good health, Father Damien had gone to Oahu to attend the dedication of the chapel in the hospital she was establishing. After his diagnosis as a leper, he was shunned by both civil and church leaders. It was only Mother Marianne who gave him welcome, even arranging for the King to meet him.

When Father Damien died on April 15, the government officially gave Mother Marianne charge for the care of the boys of Kalaupapa, as well as her original commission for the female residents of the colony. At her suggestion, a community of Religious Brothers was invited to come and care for the boys. After the arrival of four Brothers of the Sacred Heart in 1895, she withdrew the Sisters to the Bishop Home for leprous women and girls. St. Marianne Cope died on August 9, 1918 due to natural causes and was buried at the Bishop Home.


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BRADEN TAKES A TRIP


Just two photos can tell a story.  The first photo shows Braden at the beginning of his adventure -- all fresh and ready to go exploring and investigating.  The second photo shows Braden at the end of the day going home in the car -- a tired and hungry young man!  He is learning the true nature of almost all expeditions:  We begin with vigor and enthusiasm, but sooner or later we always reach a point where we are tired and hungry -- mostly just hungry!

"All right troops, who is in charge of pushing my buggy?  Let's get this show on the road!"




"Are you sure we can't stop somewhere for a little snack?  These plastic rings are starting to look yummy!"




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SUKI AND SALLIE

"I simply do not approve of my being photographed
in this undignified position ... and who is this man
anyway?  Has anyone called 9-1-1 yet?"
In the accompanying photograph, you see Suki posing (reluctantly) with her Uncle Eugene!  You can see from her expression how pleased she is about this.  I mean, she likes her Uncle, but does not really approve of being held like a big sack of potatoes!  Poor Suki!!

Other than not liking to have her picture taken, Suki also dislikes having to wait for her food when she is hungry, having her sandbox remain dirty for more than 10 minutes -- especially when she wants to use it again, being disturbed when she is sleeping AND most of all she dislikes letting me sleep when she wants to eat, play, or just have some company!  In spite of all this, I still have to say that she is one of the most enjoyable creatures with whom I have ever shared my life.

Now, for the latest news about me.

I continue to improve in most ways -- for which I am very grateful.  I think that in about 3 more weeks I should have a much clearer idea as to what long-term problems I am going to now have to deal with.  The reason I say this is because at this point I still have some post-surgery issues which, so far, do not show any sign of healing properly.  Let me explain.

The nerves that control my lower lip on the left side of my face have still not recovered.  The result is that I look a bit like Jean Chrétien whenever I attempt to talk!  I am sincerely hoping that in three more weeks there will be definite signs of healing in that area.  If this does not occur, I don't expect to try to do anything to correct it, but will simply accept it.  After all, this issue does not prevent me from enjoying life and eating and talking -- it is my vanity and ego that are affected and it is good for them to be seriously deflated frequently.

The other issue is my eyes.  At the point, my eyelids do not close properly which means that when I am doing something as simple as typing this page, I have to be constantly wiping away the "tears" that run down my face and stopping to manually (using my fingers to push them together) forcing my eyes to blink.  Once again, this may also correct itself over time as the last of the swelling disappears and the nerves have time to recover their natural functions.

However, I saw the ophthalmologist today about my eyes and he is arranging a consult for me with a plastic surgeon!  He said that I simply cannot allow my eyes to continue this way long term as my eyes will end up with permanent and serious damage.  I won't be seeing the plastic surgeon anytime soon as I have to get in line; however, by the time I do hear from him I imagine that it will be clear whether the nerve damage is permanent.  If it is...then, guess what, I get to have more surgery!!  That's right, I said "more surgery".

I will have to have my lower eyelids tacked up in their proper place so that I can once again blink and close my eyes normally!  Wow...  it is almost like being a movie star and going for my "little procedures"!  Seriously, I have told the Lord that I think having another surgery is just totally unnecessary and that I really think He should see to it that everything heals up nicely all on its own!  I am also in conversation with His Mother about this very matter and asking her to please speak to Him on my behalf.  I would be delighted, of course, if all of you would also consider speaking to the Lord on my behalf and asking Him to please heal my eyes so that no more surgery is needed.  Thank you.

Well, speaking of my eyes, I had better give them a rest before my tears damage my new keyboard!  So, I will ask that God's peace may surround us all and that He will keep us ever close to His Sacred Heart.

Finally, I ask St. Damien of Molokai and St. Marianne of Molokai to please pray for us and for all those dear to us who need prayers at this time, especially Danny.  Amen.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Acts of Kindness


Protea (pink)", a drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

 As you may recall (if you are a regular reader), the above effort is not my first attempt at drawing Protea "blossoms".  The first effort occurred back in 2011 as you can see in the drawing to the right.  
"Protea repens", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011




However, I felt compelled to draw this pink and white version as soon as I saw it.  I love the shades and variations of pink that the Creator used in the design of this unusual plant.  Also, I cannot see these shades of pink with thinking immediately of my mother (may God rest her soul) who died 32 years ago this past September.  Oh, how she loved the various shades of soft pink. 

As you may have noticed, I used a section of a photo of Protea leaves, greatly enlarged, as my background, using that as my "canvas" so to speak.

Proteas occur in the Southern part of South Africa and grows from high in the mountains of the Bokkeveld Escarpment to the Cape. The flower colour also varies, from a creamy white to white touched with pink, to pink touched with white and to the deep red varieties.

Proteas have been exploited for centuries, as a source of firewood as well as for the nectar produced by the flowers and more recently by the cut flower industry. The abundantly produced nectar is collected and boiled into a sugary syrup. This was an important source of sugar for native peoples in times past. When the European settlers arrived, they learned to collect the so-called 'bossiestroop', using the syrup as an essential component of a medicine for chest complaints.

All in all, a beautiful and useful plant in all its different forms and variations and, no doubt, I will try drawing it again someday as I find the "chalice" shape of the open "flower" not only appealing, but a reminder of THE chalice.

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ACTS OF KINDNESS

During these past weeks, from the days shortly before my surgery up until now, I have been greatly blessed by so many acts of kindness on the part of family, friends and neighbours.  Some days I am almost overwhelmed by the loving generosity of others as they express Christ's love to me.

Following are some photos of just a few of the items I have received over these past weeks.  Sadly, I am not able to take photos of kind words or gifts of food nor did I want to scan all the get well cards into the computer.  So, instead, I will let these photos represent all the acts of kindness.

Here you see some of the colourful daises that my neighbour, Helen brought to me the day I came home from the hospital.  There were so many of them that I ended up having to put them in two vases!


This beautiful arrangement was delivered to my door at the request of my dear friends, Joyce and Terry.  When the basket arrived, it was festooned with a number of pink ribbons.  These have since been removed as I began using the spray bottle on the various plants in an effort to keep them happy and healthy.


This sweet little cyclamen was a gift from my dear, dear friend, Grazyna.  It has lots of blossoms on it so it should last for some time yet.

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BRADEN

Braden has gotten his first cold.  The poor baby.  Mother and Father have also gotten the same cold -- the joys of family life!

Below is a photo taken of Braden suffering from the cold.  To me, he has a look on his face which clearly says:  "How could you let this happen to me?"


Braden suffering from his first ever cold...  Sniff, sniff...


I love this closeup of his face half in shadow and half in light.



Here he is in his striped suit prior to getting a cold.  I like the bib which reads:
"New Baby on the Block"
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ANOTHER WONDERFUL BABY!

A dear friend also has a new baby in her family.  Vanessa was born on almost the same day as Braden.  The guy holding her is her father and he couldn't be prouder of his beautiful little girl... 

Vanessa and her proud Father!
 Congratulations to her parents.  God has indeed given them a precious gift.

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SUKI AND SALLIE

Suki watching me!
Do you remember me saying in my last posting that Suki had been behaving herself?  Well, shortly after I published that posting, I went in to take a shower only to discover that for the first time in months, Suki had managed to remove the shower drain and hide it!  I spoke severely to her about her misbehaviour, but she only ran around like a wild cat, apparently very pleased with herself over what she had done!

So, for these past four days, I have not been so trusting.  As far as I can tell, however, she has not done anything too bad during this time.  Sooner or later I will probably stop paying such close attention again and then, then, she will undoubtedly get into some new mischief.

One interesting development that has occurred this week concerns Suki's strange behaviour during the night!  Let me explain. 

It is not unusual for Suki to come and tell me she is hungry around 3:30 or 4 a.m.  She usually does this by meowing plaintively over and over again until I respond.  I often need to get up at that time anyway, so I really do not mind being awakened as I can get up, take care of my needs and feed her a small bit of food as well.  Then I can return to my bed and know that she will be satisfied for some time which means that I can sleep undisturbed until I awaken at my usual time between 6 and 6:30.

For the past week, however, Suki has been waking me up not by loud meowing, but rather by sitting on my chest and staring at me!  It can be most disconcerting to be awakened by pressure on your chest (I usually end up dreaming that I am having trouble breathing just prior to opening my eyes).  Then when I do wake up, Suki still doesn't say anything, but she just sits there and stares at me.  If I close my eyes and start to fall back to sleep, then she will begin to wash my face with that terribly scratchy tongue!  This definitely awakens me.  Once she is convinced that I am awake, she meows and from that point on the process continues as usual.  Why her behaviour has changed; where she got this idea, I do not know.  Perhaps she has been turning the TV on while I am asleep and listening to that subversive Pet Channel!  Just one more reason to keep a close eye on her.

Now, for a brief update on how I am doing.  I am slowly improving in most areas although there are a couple of concerns regarding areas of my face where there was evidently a lot of trauma to some of the nerves and they haven't yet recovered.  The hope is that they were only traumatized and not damaged permanently!  Only time will tell.

Otherwise, I am looking better and able to do just a bit more each day.  It has been quite an experience, I must say -- one I do not intend to repeat.  If these prostheses wear out before I do, then I will just have to satisfy myself by eating mush and not talking!  Speaking of eating mush, have any of you ever had to eat pureed food in the hospital?  Not only does it taste terrible, but it looks totally gross.  The only way I could manage to even get a little bit of it down was by closing my eyes and trying to eat a few bites without looking at what I was eating!

So, I think I have covered everything now that I wanted to say in today's posting.  Once again, thank you for all your prayers and kind thoughts directed my way.  I am so grateful.

In return, I pray that God will bless you each and every one during these next four days.  May the peace of God be with us all.

Monday, 5 November 2012

A Time of Healing

It has not been easy -- this time of healing. My body says it is getting too old for so much pain and stress. I then remind my body that there is likely to be much more pain and stress before we "shake off this mortal coil" so just accept it and try to remember to offer it up for all the souls in Purgatory who have no one to pray for them!

Of course, it is easy to say this to myself when I am not hurting, but when I am.... it can be a somewhat different story. At any rate, I am gradually getting better -- the evidence is in the mirror -- but I am still a long way from being well. I continue to have a lot of swelling and pain and discomfort, but each day I can see just a bit of improvement.

Icon, "Our Lord Jesus Heals the Blind Man", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

The three drawings that you see here at the beginning of this posting are ones that have been particularly meaningful to me during these past weeks.  They are not particularly good drawings, but I do find them comforting.

In the one above, I can look at it and remember the stories of Our Lord healing so many people not just the blind.  Although, like some blind people, I have been troubled a lot because the area around my eyes is so swollen that I cannot close or open them properly which can make for very uncomfortable eyes!  So, I sit and imagine the gentle touch of Jesus on my burning eyes and as I am imagining the scene, it often feels as though my eyes are being soothed and I am grateful.


Icon, "Our Lord Jesus is Crowned with Thorns", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

This drawing of Our Lord Jesus crowned with thorns has been a comfort when my head has been hurting particularly badly.  I look at Him and realize how little my head hurts in comparison to His head crowed with thorns.  As well, I can go and take something to give me some relief -- this was not so for Christ Jesus.  The pain just continued for hour after hour made worse by each blow, each fall, each lash of the whip.

I sit and look at Him, picturing the scene in my mind and realizing how little I suffer by comparison and I see my pain in an entirely different way.  In fact, it seems to lessen and I am grateful.


"Madonna and the Child Jesus -- A study in blue", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Then, there is this drawing of Jesus and His Blessed Mother.  This is not a true icon -- you don't call icons a "study in blue"!  But I find it very helpful as I look at it, with all its soothing blue shades, and imagine myself being held as Jesus is being held -- although I would like to be hugged just a bit tighter.

Sometimes I even imagine that both Jesus and His Mother are holding me close as the three of us sit.  Then I allow their comforting presences to dislodge my awareness of suffering and that sneaky self-pity which is always trying to crawl into my thoughts and I feel gratitude.


Finally, although I do not have a drawing of it, I imagine all my family and friends surrounding me with love and lifting me up in prayer and kind thoughts and then I am truly filled with gratitude.  The phone calls and messages and emails have all gone a long way in constantly reminding me that I am truly blessed.  Thank you all so very much.

So, in spite of the pain, suffering and discomfort, this time, I find, is truly a time of healing of everything unwell within me.
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BRADEN UPDATE!


After receiving these photos of Braden, I couldn't resist creating a "fashion page"!


Page from the November Issue of "Young Men's Fashion Magazine"!

This reporter met up with Braden coming off his latest fashion shoot featuring items for spring, 2013.  I asked him to what did he attribute his meteoric rise in the fashion world.  He told me:  "I owe it all to my mother who taught me what goes with what when I was just a little tyke."

With that remark, Braden was whisked away by his agent. 

It is rumoured that he will be appearing in Toronto's Christmas Fashion Gala unless he is too busy playing "attack Pooh Bear" with his father!
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SUKI AND SALLIE


"But I want to play some more.. I'm not ready to go to bed yet!"
Suki has been reasonably well behaved these past four days.  Once Brenda left and Suki realized that it was just the two of us again, she soon settled back into our regular routine.

Of course, this is not to say that she has been totally well behaved.  She hasn't.  But she is no longer trying to get away with all her shenanigans that she tried while company was here.

She has spent most of her time near me in her bed, sleeping while I sleep and rest.  For hours on end, the apartment is silent as we sleep.  Occasionally the TV is on as I watch one of my favourite Catholic programs.  I tried watching the news with her (she likes it when the emergency vehicles come on the screen with their flashing lights), but the news has been so difficult with all the storms and the suffering they have brought that I often just grab the headlines and let it go at that.
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Now it is time for me to warm up the food that Joycelyn left for me and to feed Suki.  I hope to be sending out another posting in four or five more days.  Watch for it!!

May the peace of God surround us all and keep us safe from harm.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Various Drawings Never Posted

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." -Hebrews 12:1

May this All Saints Day, November 1, 2012, be filled with blessings for each and every one of you.  [signed] Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

[I do hope that at least most of the following makes sense!]

"Calycanthus floridus", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, date unknown

Calycanthus (sweetshrub) is a genus of flowering plants in the family, Calycanthaceae, endemic to North America. The genus includes two to four species depending on each taxonomist’s interpretation; two are accepted by the Flora of North America. They are deciduous shrubs growing to 2-4 m tall. The flowers, are produced in early summer after the leaves. They are numerous, spirally arranged, narrow, dark red (resembling a small magnolia flower); they are strongly scented. The fruit is an dry capsule 5-7 cm long, containing numerous seeds. The bark has a strong camphor smell that is released when stems are scraped. The smell remains strong on twigs that have been stored several years in a dry environment. The scent of the flower has been compared to bubble gum. Calycanthus oil, distilled from the flowers, is an essential oil used in some quality perfumes

Personally, I have always enjoyed the smell of camphor and, thus, have always liked to smell the bark of the sweetshrub!

Icon, "Divine Mercy (new)", by the hand of Sarah (Sallie) Thayer, date unknown

This is my latest version of the image of Our Lord Jesus Christ showing forth His Divine Mercy.  I like the idea of including the sweetness of flowers which you see surrounding the image.  This is because the flowers represent, for me, the Mercy of God, while the rays from the heart speak to us so clearly of the suffering Our Lord endured in order to make that mercy available.  How blessed we are that St. Faustina listened to Our Lord, being faithful to His requests even when others did not believe, even treating her with contempt.  Finally, I want to say "thank you" to our Heavenly friend, Blessed Pope John Paul the II and I ask him to continue to pray for us all.



"Good Morning, Sunshine", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, date unknown            

This sunflower is purposely drawn rather strangely as I created it especially for my dear friend, Brenda (who, sadly, returned to Alabama on Tuesday).  I created the flower in a rather lighthearted moment -- just after hearing another dear friend call Brenda "Miss Sunshine"!  This perfect name for my amazingly, generous-hearted friend gives the listener a clearer sense of how precious "Miss Sunshine" really is!



"Mighty Stallion", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, date unknown
Most of you are aware of my love of horses and how I continue to try to draw a perfect one.  This is not the ultimate so expect to continue to see more drawings in the future.  I did enjoy trying to create a setting worthy of a stallion, playing with the light until it becomes more important than the stallion!  How does that happen?



"Osteospermum Nasinga Purple", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2009







This is one of a number of varieties of Osteospermum -- this variety is referred to as "spooned" for obvious reasons!  This particular image was presented and discussed back in 2009.


The genus Osteospermum belongs to the plant family Compositae/Asteraceae or the Daisy family. Does the blossom above look like a daisy blossom to you? Asteraceae, by the way, is one of the smaller tribes of the sunflower family.

These plants originate in South Africa where they are known under the common names of "African Daisy", "South African Daisy", "Cape Daisy" and "Blue-eyed Daisy".

The genus name of Osteospermum is derived from the Greek osteon (meaning bone) and Latin spermum (meaning seed) which equals "bone seed". Don't ask me why it was given the name of "bone seed" -- I can't figure it out either. 

All those tiny blue flowerlets in the centre surrounded by a ring of tiny yellow flowerlets are found in the spooned variety and a couple of other varieties as well -- sort of like a flower garden for tiny fairies.



"Osteospermum Nasinga Purple", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, date unknown.
 At some point in time, I decided to do a drawing of a Osteospermum "bush" but somehow I never got around to sharing it with you all -- partly, I guess, because the finished drawing does not have the sort of "colouration" impact that I would prefer to see in these drawings.

 
"Earth Tones, New Mexico", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, date unknown
 This is a drawing of small-town New Mexico with rich earth colours revealed by changing shadows as the sun moves across an almost cloudless blue sky.  I love these earth tones.  I remember when I discovered them in paint as I bought my first oil paints so many years ago now -- even the names gave me pleasure:  yellow ochre, burnt sienna, burnt umber, ultramarine blue.  How beautiful these were, especially as they were combined in varying degrees with one another and with the occasional touch of Titanium white.

I think most of you realize by now how deeply I am affected by colour!



"Japanese Primrose", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, date unknown


"Japanese Primrose", drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, date unknown
[topographic software applied]

















The final flower/icon drawing in this first part of my posting is the Japanese Primrose.  I started the drawing  several years ago but never finished it for some reason.  During the changes resulting from my computer accident of some weeks ago, I came across it again and decided to try to finish it.  After this, I lost it again and then came across it once more shortly before going in for surgery.  Although the anaesthesia has left me with holes in my memory, I can see from the drawing above that I did, indeed, finish it at some point! 

Above left is the original drawing in its normal colours.  It is a fairly simple, but lovely flowering plant.  I felt that in its natural state, it did not make much of an impact; however, when topographic software was applied, the rich colours which resulted were quite striking.  I love the rich blues and greens which resulted and, thus, finally felt inclined to include the Japanese Primrose in a posting



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CHECKING UP ON BRADEN : HALLOWE'EN


"Just one more sleep before Hallowe'en!  I'm so excited I wonder if I will be able to sleep at all .......Zzz...Zzz"


"Is it time to get dressed in my Hallowe'en costume yet, Mommy?"


"Grrrrr.....I'm a big Dinosaur!!  Are you frightened yet?  Growl...Growl ...Growl!"


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The SUKI and SALLIE Column will return next posting when Sallie will, God willing, be feeling much better!

I can tell you that Suki is fine and that Sallie is slowly improving.

May God's blessing be upon all of us, and
May the souls of the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.