Sunday, 30 June 2013

A New Look at the Suffering Church

"Christ Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane", by the hand of
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Here is a new, simple drawing of Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane in His agony.  I was actually working on what kind of colouring I might use to indicate direct moonlight (or any kind of Heavenly light).  I am far from satisfied and so I will continue to experiment, I'm sure.

As I was working on this drawing, however, I was meditating on the question:  What was it that caused Our Lord the most suffering -- what was it that affected Him so deeply that His sweat was mixed with blood?  These questions seemed particularly important to me with the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul yesterday and the remembrance of the first martyrs of the Faith at Rome after Nero blamed the Christians for burning the part of the City which he already had plans for rebuilding!

Anyway, back to the question...  As I pondered this question, I came up with a number of answers -- all of which you have probably considered yourself in your own meditation and prayer.  However, I would like to share just a bit of what the Lord brought to my mind during these prayerful times of drawing.

First, there is the obvious -- our Lord Jesus knows what is going to be done to him and his human mind and body can barely tolerate the terrible images in His head of what lies before Him.  Any of us would be the same.  Just the imagining of any severe damage to our bodies causes us to recoil in fear and anguish.

But then there are the less obvious possible causes of his extreme grief.  Chief among these would have to be the weight of the sins of  humanity, from the beginning of time until the end, which were now placed upon His shoulders.  I can't even begin to imagine the horror of this pure and sinless man when seeing all those sinful, violent and evil intents and actions found in the minds and hearts of human beings.  We all know how much evil there is in the best of us.  In those who are holy, such evil is disciplined and kept to a minimum; however, if we are honest with ourselves, we sense the level of depravity to which we might sink were we to throw off every restraint and cease to care how we might offend God.

Finally, though, there is one area of possible grief and suffering which might have burdened Our Lord even more than these things. Something I really had never thought about previously.  Something which now causes my own heart to ache as I consider the part I have played and am playing in this terrible weight that was on the heart of Our Lord.  I am speaking of God's determined effort to establish His Church, His Bride, which would be His representative on earth until He returns at the Final Judgement.

He had already seen how fragile was the faith of those He had chosen and instructed over those three years.  And as He looked into the future of the Church, He was able to see the flourishing of the Faith then see that Faith challenged time and again by those who would choose their own path, refusing to listen to His Body on earth. 

Because, we believe that God is not "in time"; that all things are present to Him from the "beginning" to the "end", then we might say that Our Lord is still kneeling there in the Garden, weeping and sweating blood over the agony that we, in our selfishness, continue to cause His Body the Church.  

The images God gave for His People, Israel, found in the Old Testament/Jewish Scriptures come to mind.  Especially the ones where His People were imaged as an unclean woman sitting by the side of the road, waiting to play the harlot for any man who comes along.  Even then, God spoke of weeping over his People, Israel.  How much more then must He weep over the the desecration of His own Body, the Church.  

I still have a lot of pondering to do over this image, but that is what this type of prayerful meditation is all about -- the type I so often do while I am drawing images of Our Lord, His Blessed Mother, St. Joseph and all the saints and angels.  In spite of these deep and troubling thoughts, I am not depressed or "weighed down" because I know in whom I have believed and I am sure that He is able to keep me and all those who seek Him safe until that Day.



These are my sister, Janet's, grandchildren.  She is very blessed indeed.  I would love to see her and her family often but life just hasn't worked out that way.  I will be seeing my sister and her husband, her children and grandchildren sometime before this year is over, however.  Now, let me tell you about these wonderful young people.

Here is a photo of my sister's only grand-daughter.  This is a recent photo taken at
summer camp.  She is very active and seems to have little fear about trying these
sorts of activities!  Very much unlike her Great-Aunt Sallie!

Here is the same grand-daughter seen
in the photo above.  This time she is
spending time with her brother.

And here is that same grandson with his Dad, my
sister's son.  I really love this photo.

Here is my sister's other grandson.
He is dressed up as a soldier while
visiting the Jamestown Settlement
in Virginia, USA  I think he makes a
very handsome soldier!
Here is the same grandson only this time he is
having a talk with Thomas Jefferson while
visiting Williamsburg, Virginia.  I hope he
got lots of good ideas for essays
when he is taking U. S. History
 in high school!



Black cats with yellow eyes look very similar so
it is difficult for me to tell if this is a photo of
Suki or of some other black cat!  Anyway,
the look in the eyes certainly reminds me of Suki!
Suki once again has a full belly and is deeply asleep on the back of the sofa.  What she doesn't know is that in about half an hour from now, Braden will be arriving for a visit!  Braden thinks Suki is very, very interesting, but the last time he was here, he was not walking.  Now, he is walking!  Suki does not realize what danger she will be in once little Braden arrives... He is one of those little boys who likes to take things apart!  Poor Suki -- her nap will soon be interrupted most abruptly.  I tried to get her to move into her "crow's nest" bed in the bedroom, but she felt she knows best.  Oh, well... I will give you a report on what happened in my Wednesday posting.

As you may recall, yesterday was the big celebration for Braden's birthday at his grandparents' home in Mississauga.  So, I expect he will be a bit tired when he gets here.  I hope we are able to get some good pictures plus I want his parents to share the photos from yesterday's party with me.  Then I will have lots of photos to choose from and I will be able to share the best of the lot with all of you in my next post.

I really thought that I was going to have a fairly quiet long weekend, but gradually everything has changed.  I knew there was the possibility of seeing Braden and his parents this weekend (I thought that all the activity in downtown Toronto today might prevent them from making the trip).  However, I just spoke with Braden's father who said that they would only turn back if the traffic situation became really bad -- so now I will wait and see.

As well, I heard from my dear friends, the Clifford's, who suggested a visit tomorrow with a visit to a local restaurant in honour of their daughter's recent birthday.  I am delighted to be included as I haven't seen them for some time now.  

So, with all these visits plus my daily trip to the gym, I am really staying quite busy.  

As far as my health is concerned, I continue to do much the same -- in other words, nothing new has come along thus far to cause me any new problems.  The gym is helping me once again to feel better, especially right after I finish my hour or so of exercise!  It is great to experience all those little endorphins busily doing their happy dance!

Well, I had better finish this off if I want to get it posted before Braden arrives.  

I wish all of you in Canada a very happy Canada Day tomorrow.  

May the first martyrs of Rome pray for us that we may stay strong in our Faith and in our sense of what the Church really is.  May we never forget that when we harm our brother or sister in Christ we affect not just ourselves and that other person, but we also cause another drop of bloody sweat to fall from the brow of Christ's Body, the Church.

Now, may the peace of the Lord be with you all, today and always.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Water Lilies and Clematis -- Purple/Pink

"Genus Nymphaea of the Family Nymphaeaceae, North American Water Lily", drawing by 
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Nymphaeaceae is a family of flowering plants. Members of this family are commonly called water lilies and live as aquatic herbs in temperate and tropical climates around the world. The family contains eight large-flowered genera with about 70 species. The genus Nymphaea contains about 35 species in the Northern Hemisphere. The genus Victoria contains two species of giant water lilies endemic to South America. 

Water lilies are rooted in soil in bodies of water, with leaves and flowers floating on the surface. The leaves are round, with a radial notch in Nymphaea and Nuphar, but fully circular in Victoria. Horticulturally, water lilies have been hybridized for temperate gardens since the nineteenth century, and the hybrids are divided into three groups: hardy, night-blooming tropical and day-blooming tropical water lilies. The large number of these is unknown as many are hybridized in particular gardens without being reported.

"Family, Nymphaeaceae, Genus, Nymphaea, North American Water Lily",  
drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

This drawing is one that I posted back on May 22nd.  The reason I am showing it again is because I have made a few important changes.  I changed the centre design by making it smoother and less defined. I also added green bottom "petals" circling the base of the flower plus large leaves resting in the water.  As well, I discovered that this particular water lily is quite possibly not "Black Princess".  For while the colour may be similar to some of the "Black Princess" cultivars photographed,  it really looks very different in some important ways.  I got the idea for this drawing from a photograph of an actual plant but have never seen another photograph quite like it.  So, the dilemma remains and, therefore, I will just continue to call it a North American Water Lily. 

"Clematis Pink Champagne 'kakio' ", drawing by 
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013 

Clematis is a genus of climbing vines with showy flowers. They are popular among gardeners, and over 200 species are known with more cultivars being produced constantly. 

Most species are simply known as Clematis in English, commonly they are also known as "Traveller's joy", "Old man's beard"  and "Virgin's bower", the last being a name used for some North American species. The genus name of Clematis is from Ancient Greek, klématis, meaning a climbing plant.

I have drawn this vine previously, but have yet to capture the aspect of it that most intrigues me.  Until I do, I guess you will continue to see new drawings of Clematis occasionally!


Artist leaves studio space, sells off work

Show started June 20th and runs until July 6th
Add caption
Brampton Guardian BRAMPTON— Local artist Rose Marie Nicolucci will move from her Beaux-Arts Brampton (BAB) studio at the end of June. Collectors and admirers of her work are invited to visit her studio space, 4b, through the month to purchase her original art at reduced prices. Nicolucci’s paintings have won awards at BAB’s 10th Anniversary Show, and a People’s Choice Award, in addition to awards at the Central Ontario Art Association Juried Shows in previous years. The local artist is clearing art inventory of original paintings, both acrylic canvases and watercolours, framed and unframed pieces. Some studio furniture and supplies will also be available. Visit Studio 4b at 74 Main St. N. during gallery hours— Tuesday to Friday, noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m..; extended summer hours are Thursday, noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.  Nicolucci will continue to instruct workshops including Prepare Your Own Canvas and Frame-up Your Canvas, scheduled at Beaux-Arts Brampton June 22 and 29 as well as Introduction to Acrylics, and Paste, Paper, Pattern (Mixed Media) Sept. 23 through November 6. For more visit

Rose Marie, I just want to apologize.  I fully intended to post this much earlier; however, I forgot!  Anyway, better late than never I say.  As stated above, the event runs until July 6th so there is still a little bit of time for anyone who lives in the area and is interested.  There would have been a lot more available if I had remembered to post this when I planned to. 

I really do not know why your short-term memory gets so bad as we get older.  I can remember events from years ago in minute detail, but when it comes to the reason why I just hurried into the kitchen, I haven't got a clue!



Although I showed you this photo of Braden just a few postings ago, I am using it again for two reasons:  
1.  I really like this photo of Braden taking his first ever steps; and
2.  I don't have a new photo to show you!

The reason for posting an update on Braden anyway, however, is because this coming weekend he will be celebrating his first birthday!  The family is having an event on Saturday to which I am invited, but where they live is a place too difficult for me to reach without a car.  

I know that I will receive lots of photos taken during the party which I can share with you in my blog posting on Sunday.  

Happy 1st Birthday, sweet Braden.


Suki awakened from a nap and not very
happy about it!
Suki, of course, has no idea how hot is has been outside since she lives in air conditioning.  I have tried to explain it to her, but she just yawns and goes back to sleep!

Even when I come home, as I did today, dripping wet with perspiration, she still doesn't get it.  After all, cats don't sweat like humans do.  I did notice that she doesn't approve of my dripping onto her coat, however, as she thinks I am trying to sprinkle her with water.  Cats and humans may live together but we really inhabit very different universes!

Otherwise, Suki seems to be doing much the same as usual -- she has become quite predictable for the time being.  She begs for same food at the same times every day; she sleeps in the same places in the same order every day; she pulls out all her "toy" strings whenever I go out and leaves them spread across the floor -- usually in the same spots; and the list continues.  I tell her that she has a boring life, but she doesn't seem to mind.  In fact, being a true cat, she hates it whenever I do anything that changes her environment in any way and sometimes she even meows about it until I change it back!  What a nuisance.

As for me, I guess I am pretty predictable too -- especially these days when I have been spending most of my time inside.  This kind of muggy weather really makes it more difficult to breathe and I don't want to be using my puffers more than normally.  So I go out only when it is absolutely necessary, usually to keep an appointment. 

Which is what I did today, however, as I had an appointment at St. Mike's.  Even though it was so hot, I decided I wanted to attend noon Mass at the Cathedral prior to my appointment which I did.  Fortunately, the Cathedral had all of its big fans going and I was able to sit near one that kept me quite cool and comfortable.  Since I travelled back and forth by taxi, I managed to keep from getting overwhelmed by the heat although just a few moments in that sunshine was enough to activate all my sweat glands!  Wow!

Once back home, I had fully intended to go to the gym, but just happened to turn on the TV to see what was on EWTN before returning to work on this posting.  Unfortunately, for me and the gym that is, there was showing the second half of a very good movie, recently released, about Pope Pius XII during the time when Rome was occupied by the Nazis and about how much he and the Church did to protect the Jewish people by hiding them in convents and monasteries and even in the Vatican itself.  I had already seen the first half last week so the minute I saw what was on, I was hooked and now I still need to finish this posting!

The appointment today, by the way, was not strictly medical so there is really nothing to report on the health front.  Things remain much the same.  I did see the eye surgeon on Monday and since I do not want to have any more surgery at this time, he discharged me until I either change my mind or need to see him about some other issue regarding the previous surgery.  I will still be attending the Kensington Eye Institute, however, as my new ophthalmologist is there (my previous one has retired).  

So the remainder of the week should be really quiet for me other than the usual local things that need tending to.  I will have no excuse not to attend the gym for the remainder of the week and I am looking forward to doing so.

I pray that you all have a blessed remainder of the week.  I know that many of my Canadian readers are looking forward to this long weekend coming up when we will be celebrating Canada Day on July 1st.  I will be posting as usual on Sunday, however, as I will most likely be at home.

Paraphrasing somewhat the ancient Jewish blessing found in the Jewish Scriptures, let me say:  "May the Lord bless us and protect us; may the Lord's face shine with joy because of us; may the Lord be gracious unto us and show us His favour and grant us His peace. Amen."

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Of the Good Shepherd

"Christ Jesus as the Good Shepherd", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013


As you can see, I have completed another drawing of Our Lord as
the Good Shepherd.  Christ as the Good Shepherd is one of my favourite images.  Even though I did not grow up around sheep farmers, I became acquainted with them and their sheep in my late 20s.  

I learned that North American "shepherds" are very different in lifestyle and attitude than those in the Middle East.  The ones I met on this side of the Atlantic rarely stayed with the sheep for long periods of time as did those that I met in the Middle East.  

The North American sheep had their own pastures through which they rotated and were often left alone for long periods of time with mainly only a trained dog keeping an eye on them.  This occurred primarily, I think, because these sheep lived on large farms or ranches and so there were fences enclosing huge numbers of sheep.  I did know of farmers who stayed very close to the ewes during lambing season and would sometimes be out with them all night.  Although I don't know for certain, I would imagine that things are similar on those large sheep ranches in South America and Australia.

On the other hand, while travelling in the Middle East on a couple of occasions, I saw and even met shepherds who lived very much as they must have lived during the time of Our Lord.  They had much smaller herds and so they stayed with them 24/7 except for the occasional break when they had to take some of the sheep to market, leaving other family members to look after the family's sheep as they often had their families with them.  They would be living in a traditional Middle-Eastern-type tent which they could move from place to place as they continually sought new pasture.  More often, however, they lived in a village (after all the government now expects children to attend school) and took their sheep out each day, keeping them in a sheepfold at night.  They knew their sheep as individuals and called each one by name.  If one strayed, unnoticed, the shepherd would leave the family with the other sheep while he would go looking for the stray animal.  Theirs was subsistence farming so every sheep mattered immensely.

One of the most noticeable differences I found between these Palestinian shepherds and the North American ones was their odor. Those in the Middle East seemed to always have the smell of their sheep on them all the time.  I rarely found this to be the case in North America.  

The reason for mentioning this rather indelicate subject is because our Holy Father, Pope Francis, said back in March: Those priests “who do not go out of themselves” by being mediators between God and men can “gradually become intermediaries, managers,” he said March 28 during the chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. When a priest “doesn’t put his own skin and own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks” from those he has helped, the pope said in his homily. “This is precisely the reason why some priests grow dissatisfied, lose heart and become in a sense collectors of antiquities or novelties — instead of being shepherds living with ‘the smell of the sheep,’” he said. “This is what I am asking you,” he said with emphasis, looking up from his prepared text, “be shepherds with the smell of sheep,” so that people can sense the priest is not just concerned with his own congregation, but is also a fisher of men.  For the complete text see 

And so, I continue to draw images of Our Lord as the Good Shepherd, always seeking to better capture another layer of this profound image.  So far, I have never been satisfied with the results of my artistic efforts; however, this is not a cause for despair, but, rather an invitation to keep trying.  So, you regular readers will no doubt be seeing more images of shepherds and sheep in the days ahead as I get the urge to try again!



Before saying anything else about sheep and shepherds, I want to show you a couple of new photos of Braden.  This first one always makes me laugh when I look at it as I can just imagine Braden's father rushing around, trying to get to work as soon as possible, and there stands Braden no doubt trying to figure out what his Dad is up to and the whole business of shower taking as a means of bathing.  I mean this is the time in children's lives when they learn almost 80% of what they need to know to function in the world as they grow in size and in the ability to communicate.  It is obvious from this photo that Braden has no lack of normal curiosity!

Braden busy having a discussion with his Dad as his father showers in preparation for work!
When you have children and they are still young, you no longer have such a thing as privacy.

Next we see Braden checking out a new set of wheels while visiting the toy store.  I sometimes try to imagine what a toy store of the type we now have would look like to a child his age.  I was never in such a store while growing up but I can remember how wonderful the toy section of the Sears and Roebuck Christmas Catalogue looked when I was a child.  I wanted almost everything I saw but knew I would only get a few toys for Christmas, maybe a new board game, some candies and a wonderful new book from my Great Aunt Tol.

Braden tests out a new set of wheels -- I think he likes them except for the colours!
He needs a bright red scooter -- it would fit his personality much better
than purple and gold!



Now, let's return to the Good Shepherd.
First, however, let me talk about the nun in a black veil and a deep red habit.  This is Sister Mary Cecilia.  She is a Redemptoristine Nun who is no longer able to live in the contemplative community because the one she was with for so many years finally had to close due to a lack of vocations and the age of the sisters who were still in the monastery.  Sister now lives in a convent here in Toronto with a couple of other sisters from her community.  As I point out under the photo, I have known Sister for at least 35 years now and in the past I managed to get into any number of escapades with her while we were both living in the monastery!  She has always had a most delightful streak of craziness in her, but she is also a very holy nun.
My dear friend, Sr. Mary Cecilia, with a young relative on the grounds of the convent where
she is now living.  We first met in a cloistered monastery 35 years ago!

Many of you may be unaware of the fact that I tried very hard to be a nun myself during a certain period of my life.  I was in the same contemplative community as Sr. Mary Cecilia.  The name that was given to me by the Mother Superior when I was first clothed with the habit was Sister Sarah Marie of the Good Shepherd!

My connection with the Good Shepherd was the fact that it was the Brothers of the Good Shepherd, with whom I was working prior to entering the convent, who were the ones who introduced me to the nuns.  They had a long-term friendship with the sisters and would often come to visit them on a weekend when some of the Brothers were able to get away from their work with the poor and the homeless.  

"Guess Who" is on the left and Sr. Mary Cecilia is on the viewers; right.  I am aware that some of  you may be a bit surprised by this photo, but it is for real, not faked.  We were celebrating moving from postulancy to the novitiate.  



Suki with that famous string that I almost always
find spread across the hardwood floor
when I come home after going out -- no
matter how long or short a time I have

been gone!
I have a new game that I am playing with Suki -- it has to do with hiding treats.  This is what happens...

Well, first I should tell you that there is one particular treat that Suki just plain loves!  If you offer her that treat she will practically tie herself in knots while trying to purr and eat at the same time.  The instant that she has started to swallow the treat she has just been offered, she immediately begins to try to rub against me while still sniffing the floor and my hands with great fervour!!  I find her behaviour to be almost dangerous to her health as I am sure she is going to twist herself inside out one of these days!

So, I decided to change everything around by quietly hiding about four treats in one location.  I try to do this when Suki is sleeping soundly and, thus far, I have been successful in not getting caught.  Meanwhile, suddenly finding a treat seems to take Suki by complete surprise each time it happens.  Normally she finds all four within a matter of minutes with that excellent nose she has, but sometimes it does take her a while to discover that the treats have been hidden in a certain area in the first place.  

I try to keep an eye on her when she is awake and playing as I know that she will probably, sooner or later, sniff out the hidden treats and I enjoy seeing what she does when she finds them.  Since at that point she does not directly associate the treats with me, she tends to leave me alone as she continues to search for more.  This is good, I think, as she can really become a nuisance when she associates me with the treats.  There have been times when I have been followed by Suki, watched by Suki, meowed at by Suki for long periods of time after I have given her a single treat!

I, on the other hand, have been trying to avoid extra treats as usual. I have been back at the gym now since Saturday of last week and although I did not go every day, I did workout on 5 days during the week.  I am enjoying it and gradually getting over the additional aches and pains associated with the first week or so of returning to exercise after being absent all this time.  

I did have a really good visit with Sr. Mary Cecilia on Thursday afternoon.  She took Wheeltrans here and stayed for 2 1/2 hours.  I am sure we could have reminisced for a couple of more hours without any difficulty except we were both starting to get tired after two and a half!  Then on Friday afternoon, late, there was a memorial get-together in the large meetings rooms here in honour of a young man who lived in the building and died recently following a cerebral aneurysm which occurred in his sleep.  His parents and family members were there and with their strong faith made everyone feel more joyful than sad.  The funeral was held some days prior to this memorial -- the memorial was mainly for all those who lived in the co-op.

This coming week is filled with feast days of wonderful saints whose intercession we should seek.  Monday, of course, is La Saint-Jean, Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Quebec, or, as the politically correct now call it, La Fête nationale du Québec!  The day of my next posting, Wednesday, will be the feast of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer , the founder of Opus Dei -- a wonderful organization of holy men and women in spite of all the foolish notions put forth by Dan Brown!

I am continuing to do reasonably well for which I frequently give thanks to God.  I am so aware of how much worse things could be at this point and this knowledge helps me (most of time) have a heart full of gratitude for this life I am living.  As I indicated in the previous sentence, however, there are the occasional moments where things just seem too difficult again, but then the Lord reminds me of all my many blessings and my heart is once more filled with gratitude.  

Well, it is almost time for me to visit the gym so I had better go and get myself organized.  I pray that the peace of God will be with each and every person who looks at this posting -- let us continue to pray for one another.  May God bless you all.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

It's Pronounced "k'nip-HOFF-ee-uh", what is it?

As many of you know, I am fascinated by strange and unusual plants and really enjoy trying to draw them.  Kniphofia uvaria is my latest effort in that regard.  [By the way, this is a huge file (almost 4 MB in size) as each of those flower-heads is composed of many little "grapes".] 

"Kniphofia (k-nip-HOFF-ee-uh) uvaria" , drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

"Kniphofia (k-nip-HOFF-ee-uh) uvaria" 
close-up photograph showing the
likeness to a "bunch of grapes"
The Kniphofia genus is named for Johann Hieronymus Kniphof, an 18th century German physician and botanist. Thus, the correct pronunciation should be "k'nip-HOFF-ee-uh". The plant's nick-name, knips, is pronounced "k'NIPS". The word “uvaria”, on the other hand, is derived from Latin uva (bunch of grapes) meaning ‘clustered like a bunch of grapes’. These plants belong to the family of Xanthorroeaceae, (the Grass-Tree family).  Grasstrees are yucca-like evergreen oddities native to Australia.

Kniphofia uvaria is also known as Torch Lily, or Red Hot Poker due to the shape and color of its “flowers”.  The leaves are reminiscent of a lily, and the "flower-head" can reach up to 1.52 m (5.0 ft) in height. There are many varieties of torch lily, and they bloom at different times during the growing season. The flowers are red, orange, and yellow.

Kniphofia uvaria originates from the Cape Province of South Africa, and has been introduced into many parts of the world, such as parts of North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe as a garden plant.  In parts of south-eastern Australia, such as the Central and Southern Tablelands of New South Wales and southern Victoria, as well as in the U.S. State of California, it has escaped cultivation and become naturalized.  It is now regarded as an environmental weed in these locations, spreading from former habitations into natural areas, where it can grow in thick clumps and threaten sensitive ecosystems.

It looks as though it would be a startlingly attractive plant in a garden and I hope someday to see it growing.  Meanwhile, I will have to be satisfied with photos and my art work!



Fathers' Day was really special at Braden's house.  Although this was his first Fathers' Day and being almost a year old means he doesn't really understand the concept yet, he managed to give his Dad a really great gift... he started walking!

The photo below is taken from the video that his parents sent to me later in the day on Sunday.  It was wonderful to watch Braden's face in the video as things developed.  He had a few false starts before he finally actually started walking and took those first steps on his own.  When he realized that he was actually walking without anyone holding on to him, a huge smile spread across his face and he made all kinds of happy noises!  

Of course, as was to be expected, after about 5 steps, he paused, looked up and promptly ended up on his bottom in the soft grass.  This was where the video ended but I am sure that was not the end of his experimenting with this totally new form of locomotion! 

I have to admit that I must have watched that short video at least 25 times!

Braden takes his first steps, unassisted!  Look at the joy on his face!



Lately, Suki has taken to sitting in  my desk
chair to watch TV.  This creates something of
a problem when I want to sit down at my computer!
Yes, Miss Suki has decided that my desk chair is the perfect spot from which to watch the occasional TV show. Now,  if I am watching a show while working at my desk and get up without thinking to get something from elsewhere, I often return to find this cat-person sitting in my recently vacated chair!

Of course, if I am working on something for which there is a deadline, then I have no choice other than to move Suki to another location.  This causes her to look at me reproachfully which, in turn, makes me feel guilty!  So, often now if what I am working on can wait for a while, I will sit in my big, comfy chair and just watch TV for a while from there, letting the work wait a while.

Thankfully, I know that Suki's TV watching will not last for long.  Soon I will notice that her eyes are closing a bit and then finally the head goes down on the paws and she is asleep.  I wait for a little while and then I know I can move her to another location without any serious complaints.  All that normally happens is a few protesting meows from Suki before she is soon sleeping again and I can return to my computer!  What a cat this Suki is!

As for me, I saw the specialist this morning and had another breathing test as well.  The breathing test revealed that the new puffer is working well and my lung capacity is almost up to normal on this new puffer I was prescribed.

Otherwise, the doctor and I just discussed the progress she is making on getting me into the sleep disorders clinic at Sunnybrook. Since she does do some work there each week, she has more access than many would have to the people who work there so I am hopeful that I will be able to have this test I need so badly before the summer is over.  

Meanwhile, I have found a way to continue paying for this terribly expensive medication that is helping me so very much to have a better quality of life.  Now, I am not always having to fight to keep from falling asleep and then falling down.  The specialist is also hopeful that the doctor I will be seeing at Sunnybrook will be better able to help me find a way to get coverage for this medication.  

Sadly, the specialist I have been seeing at St. Mike's is moving into a new area at the hospital and will no longer be the one I see .  I say "sadly" because she has truly been interested in me as a person and has made a sincere effort to help me get to the bottom of these medical problems.  We have made some real progress over these past months and my situation has certainly improved -- for which I am very grateful to her.  

After all these years of medical "experimentation", I tend to to expect very little of doctors and so I am always pleasantly surprised when one of them turns out to be really compassionate.  I know I shouldn't be this way, but my life experiences have taught me not to hope for too much from the purveyors of medical science! 

Otherwise, things are pretty good for me.  One really wonderful thing that will be occurring is a visit from a very dear friend.  Sr. Mary Cecilia is coming to visit me!  She is in her 80s and as delightful as ever although she, too, is using a walker now and no longer sees very well.  I have known her as a dear friend since the late 1970s and I feel very honoured to have her coming to visit me tomorrow afternoon.  I will tell you all about our visit in Sunday's posting and maybe even have some photos.

Meanwhile, I pray that all of you are experiencing the peace of God which brings you that quiet joy and love and only He can give.  

Today is the Memorial of St. Romauld (c. 951 – traditionally 19 June, c. 1025/27).  He was the founder of the Camaldolese order and a major figure in the eleventh-century "Renaissance of eremitical asceticism".  St. Romauld, pray for us. 

 As always, my prayers are with you.  Please pray for me.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Madonna of the Precious Blood

"My Interpretation of the Madonna of the Precious Blood", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013.  [Based on the painting by the same name painted by Italian artist Pompeo Batone (1708-1787); now in the possession of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and hanging in the St. Gaspar Museum, Albano, Italy] 

Painting of the Madonna of the Precious Blood by Italian artist Pompeo Batone (1708-1787) Batoni aimed at overcoming the excesses and frivolities of the Rococo by taking inspiration in classical antiquity and in the work of artists such as Nicolas Poussin, and especially Raphael.
 As such he was a precursor of Neoclassicism.

I have long had a fondness for this particular image of our Lady and her precious Child.  What has always intrigued me about it is the fact that even though the Christ Child is offering us His Precious Blood, He is smiling with kindness as though offering us something very pleasant.  Of course, He is offering us something quite wonderful; however, that Precious Blood is ours because he paid the price of pouring out His Blood in the crucifixion -- to the very last drop -- so that we might live forever with Him in Heaven.  What a terrible and yet wonderful gift.

Fr. Jeffery Keyes, CPPS, writes about this gift as follows:  

The gift of Jesus' Blood is an incredible and ineffable mystery that we seek to express in a variety of images. This month we pay special devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, that living chalice that by obedience becomes the human home for that divine blood to be formed as the creator of the universe takes human flesh and blood and pitches his tent among us. The traditional image of the Madonna of the Precious Blood was a painting by Italian artist Pompeo Batone (1708-1787). St. Gaspar asked the painter Andrea Pozzi(1) to add a chalice to the child's hand and to add clothing. In a recent restoration of the painting the clothing has been removed, but the chalice remains. This image traveled with St. Gaspar on every mission and became the focus for his initial preaching. In various letters you find him giving instructions on how the image is to be copied. He insisted that the image should be beautiful, not sad, and that the great gift should be evident. [Our Lady] is the means by which our devotion to Christ remains human, and we experience his love and his gift in our daily experience.

I tried to make certain, in my own interpretation of this work, that the Christ Child was still smiling.  On the other hand, I sought to give His mother an almost smile -- the almost smile of a woman who already knows the gift that must be given and is trying to accept that the gift will take the life of her Son.

Her hand is open as it was at the Annunciation when she gave her "Fiat", but her heart is still struggling with her growing understanding of the cost of the gift her Son will be giving for the salvation of all those people she doesn't even know.  I often have wondered how she felt at that moment during the crucifixion when she learned that she was to be the Mother of all of us sinful children from the beginning to the end of time!  Thanks be to God that she has never stopped saying that eternal "Fiat".




I am sure that any of you who are faithful readers of my blog recall the many times I spoke about my dear friends, Brenda and Charles. They came to visit me in 2012 and Brenda, of course, came to look after me when I had that awful surgery in October, 2012.  Their wedding was on June 1st, 2013.  They had been sweethearts at the end of high school and for a period of time following.  Then they had ended up going their separate ways for various reasons.  They both married and raised their families.  Their spouses are now deceased and so they got re-acquainted and one thing led to another and finally to a wedding day.  I am so very happy for both of them.

My dear friends, Charles and Brenda, on their wedding day, June 1st, 2013
They were married in the church Brenda and I attended during grade school and high school.
How I wish I could have been with them as I had originally planned!

Charles -- from our senior class photo

Brenda -- from our senior class photo
Personally, I think Charles is more handsome now than he was in high school.  Brenda, of course, is still as pretty as ever.

Here are some more interesting photos of friends of mine from high school.  I am very blessed to still in touch with most of these people.  Gene and his family, Butch and his big family and Yvonne.  This is one of the wonderful things about the Internet.  It has allowed so many of us to regain contact with people from university, high school and even earlier -- people we were friends with then and find we are friends with still.  Without the Internet this would never have happened.  So I invite you to take a look at now and then or then and now as the case may be!

These three guys were on the top of the truck we used to take our class photo.  A lot of us climbed all over that truck and it is a wonder the truck survived.  These guys managed to get on the cab, standing up, which made them the very pinnacle of the class photo (just look at those muscles!!).  Personally, I think they still look pretty good, but that just may be my fondness for them coming through.  I know that Gene and Butch are still really good folks and I am equally sure that Robert is as well, it is just that I can't speak from personal knowledge as I can with the other two.  Enjoy these and especially the beautiful, young girls below!

Gene at 55th class reunion

Robert at 55th class reunion

Frank "Butch" at 55th class reunion

L to R:  Gene, Robert and "Butch" -- from our senior class photo
These, of course, are the same three guys shown above 55 years later!  I think they all still look pretty good, don't you?

And now for something special:
My dear friend, Yvonne, and I were majorettes in the high school band.  Yvonne was the head majorette and she was really great with that baton.  I, on the other hand was there, I think, mainly for comic relief!  You know how there is always one majorette in those high school bands you see that keeps dropping her baton or throws her baton up in the air and then it comes down and hits her on the head?  Well, that was me.  Even though I practiced for hours and seemed to have the routines down pat, when I got out on the field for the half-time show, I would get so nervous.  Suddenly, I became all thumbs and couldn't do anything other than march in time to the music.  Yvonne was always very kind and just told me to practice more!  Well, those experiences certainly taught me a lot about humiliation.  Unfortunately, it was many years yet before I could use humiliation with God's grace so that I could begin to slowly increase in the virtue of humility -- at that time, I mostly just felt sorry for myself.

Anyway, here are a few photos that show what we were like back then and a photo of Yvonne taken at the recent reunion.  She still looks great and her smile is as fantastic as ever.

Head majorette Yvonne, 1957

Majorettes, Shelby County High School, 1957
(I'm the one at the very end of the line!)

Yvonne at the 55th class reunion

Since I was not able to attend the class reunion as I had hoped to, there is no photo of me taken there!  Anyway, you know what I look like now more or less -- just take the photo I use on my blog or facebook and then add a few more scars and wrinkles and you've got it!



What big eyes you have, Miss Suki!
I would say that you are about to
get into some kind of mischief!

There really is not a great deal to say about Suki today as she has been quite well behaved lately -- either that or I have forgotten the bad things that may have occurred!  (One of the blessings of old age!).

I have had company several times since I last posted and I cannot recall Suki being a nuisance in any way.  In fact, one of those friends is a person who really doesn't like cats and Suki normally makes a point of coming out and curling up right next to this poor woman.  Suki will then stay there, purring, until my visitor gets up to leave.  This time, however, she just stayed in her bed and slept.

My only complaint has to do with something that Suki really cannot do anything about:  her long nails!  It can be such a struggle to trim them myself, although I can do it and have done it; however, I am thinking seriously of putting her in her carrying case and walking her over to the vet.  I just hate to spend the money I will be charged just to get her nails clipped.  Ah, well, I will have to decide soon as poor Suki is now having problems with getting her claws caught in things and being unable to get herself free without my help.

As for me, my biggest news is that I went back to the gym yesterday for the first time since last October!  I had a good workout although not nearly as demanding a one as I would have had a year ago.  However, I know that in time I will work my way back again.  Meanwhile, I was really surprised at how much I was able to accomplish in spite of all these months away from the gym.  And I really do not have much discomfort today in my muscles.  I plan to go back over there shortly for today's workout.  Then I intend to start going regularly again on any day that I don't have other appointments to take up my time.  

Speaking of which, I have a bunch of appointments this coming week and should have things to report by Wednesday and will certainly have much to report, I hope, by next Sunday as I will be seeing the respirologist (the sleep disorders clinic doctor) at St. Mikes later in the week.

Ah, I need to end this epistle before it gets any longer.  I hope you have found something of interest in it.  I pray that God will bless all my readers and that we may all share in the wonderful peace that God alone can give.

Our Lady of the Precious Blood, pray for us.  Amen.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

"Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (Malvaceae)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, commonly known as rose mallow, Chinese hibiscus, China rose and "shoe flower", is a species of flowering plant in the family Malvaceae, native to East Asia. Numerous varieties, cultivars, and hybrids are available, with flower colors ranging from white through yellow and orange to scarlet and shades of pink, with both single and double sets of petals.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis was named by Carolus Linnaeus. The Latin term rosa-sinensis literally means "rose of China", though it is not closely related to the true roses. It is usually known among the Chinese as zhū jǐn 朱槿, which literally means "vermilion hibiscus". Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia, called Bunga Raya in Malay. The word bunga in Malay means "flower", while raya in Malay means "big" or "grand". The hibiscus is literally known as the "big flower" in Malay.

Hibiscus flowers are edible and are used in salads in the Pacific Islands. The flower is additionally used in hair care. It is also used to shine shoes in certain parts of India. It is also used for the worship of Devi, and the red variety is especially prominent, having an important part in tantra. In Indonesia, these flowers are called "kembang sepatu", which literally means "shoe flower". Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is considered to have a number of medical uses in Chinese herbology as well. 

 Historically, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis uses are many.  The plant is prescribed for many conditions, including the following: headache, toothache, ear ache, asthma, boils, burns, cough, fever, laxative,  menstrual irregularity, prostate disorders. Used in Haiti and St Lucia for inflammation, trauma, diarrhea. Juice is used in Mexico for prevention of diarrhea. Costa Rica used as a purgative. Venezuela used to treat tumors. Used as analgesic, anti-inflammatory to treat trauma throughout the Caribbean. In the Dominican Republic and Venezuela used to treat hematomas.

Pixel Perfect Software -- "Noise" removed,
edges highlighted

Next, I want to show you a new drawing of  Malvaviscus Arboreus Hibiscus var. drummondii.  The drawing (the large drawing just below) is simple and not particularly exciting (in my opinion).  So, I decided it would be fun to go to my special software -- which I have neglected for a long time -- and just play with the image.  Just above and following, therefore, are the results of this playfulness.  See which one you prefer, if any, and let me know.

"Malvaviscus Arboreus Hibiscus var. drummondii", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013
This is the original drawing.

Pixel Perfect Software -- Special Effects Sepia

Here I selected "sepia: and this is the result.  I think the colours remaining are interesting but not very exciting.

Pixel Perfect Software -- Hue Correction

Here the "hue correction" selection gave me some lovely blues and lavender   

Pixel Perfect Software --
Inversion of Hue Correction

Once I had selected the "Hue Correction", I decided to select "Inversion" immediately after and so the inversion of the blue and lavender gave me the lighter shades of blue and gold with a bit of maroon in the centre.

Pixel Perfect Software -- Swirl Effect

Finally, I went back to one of the original versions and chose the special effect known as "Swirl" which gave me this image.  At this point I decided enough was enough!



Recently Master Braden was seen checking out various modes of transportation.  I understand that while he was particularly keen on getting his own new car so he could go cruising for girls whenever he wanted, he was convinced by his parents to wait until his feet could reach the pedals -- maybe next year!

Instead, he decided to go with a chauffeur-driven wagon.  This still allows for plenty of room should he meet an attractive young lady along the way and want to offer her a ride home. 

Here is Braden in his Radio Flyer.  This will be his new set of wheels for the coming year.  The only drawback is that a chauffeur is required; however with parents and grandparents around, there is usually no shortage of chauffeurs!

This is the ride Braden would really have preferred since he could drive himself whenever he was ready to go; however, his parents were able to convince him that it would be better to wait until his feet could reach the pedals -- plus a driver's license would also be helpful!



Suki sits waiting for whatever comes next
Suki, spent a relaxing morning sleeping first on the back of the sofa and then moving to her crow's nest bed in the bedroom (when company arrived for a visit).  Now, after a lunch-time snack, she has found her way into the back of the closet for the remainder of the afternoon.

To be honest, I must admit that she did spend about half an hour this morning chasing a play mouse and playing with one of her long, knotted strings so I can understand how this might be very tiring for her!  Ah, what a life.  

One of the funniest things that she has done recently involved my new "sleep mask".  I purchased this about 2 or 3 weeks ago in an effort to find some way to protect my eye during the night as it no longer closes properly.  I do find that it helps and so my eye is now less painful during the daytime.  

I knew instinctively that this mask with its elastic pieces would be very tempting to Suki so each morning I would carefully put it away in a place where I was sure she would not notice it.  However, one morning a couple of days ago as I hurriedly made the bed, I simply pushed the mask up in a small space on one side of my night table.  I noticed at the time that Suki was watching, but thought nothing of it as I did not expect her to know what I was doing or why.

Later that morning, I had to go out and do some errands and was gone for an hour or so.  As I returned home and opened the door, what should I find lying on the floor but my sleep mask!  The little rascal had seen me put something away and she must have been determined to find out what it was.  No doubt she was delighted to discover that it was something nice to play with!  Since then, I have been careful to put the mask away in a drawer!

As for me, I am continuing to be much the same.  

As I said last posting, I have a lot of appointments coming up next week with various doctors.  So, until then, I really have nothing new to report.  It will be these doctor's visits that will determine how well I am doing in the near future as I hope to be able to convince them to continue with certain treatments that seem to be working and to stop those that are not.  I am well prepared with all sorts of records and documentation as I have found that these things seem to work in my favour if presented during the actual doctor's visit -- when I am trying to make a definite point or achieve a definite result.  The more scientific the approach, the better the possibility of success.

Icon of "St. Anthony with the Christ Child"
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2010
Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Anthony.  He is a wonderful friend to have in Heaven as he always seems to be available to intercede for me, praying with me whenever I have problems of any kind.

Here is a favourite quote from St. Anthony: "The spirit of humility is sweeter than honey, and those who nourish themselves with this honey produce sweet fruit." 

Dear St. Anthony, pray for us.

May the peace of God be with us all, now and always.